StormStrike #48












He stood with his arms folded across his chest. An unemotional expression on his face. He watched them board the small craft. He did not turn to the one who approached from behind even though he heard. Instead of turning, Ryder just took in a slow deep breath.

Corbian walked up to stop at his side. "Are you sure you want to do this?"

Ryder gave a short nod. "I want to see it for myself." He walked towards the craft.

Corbian noticed the last to make her way towards the jet and motioned her over. When Bobbi Grayson reached him, Corbian waited a moment to make sure they were alone. He softly said, "Bobbi, I'm counting on you and the Strike Team to keep my apprentice safe. I'm counting on you to represent me well."

She smiled ever so slightly that it was barely noticeable. "No need to tell me that."

Corbian nodded then watched her board the jet. He waited to see the jet depart before he turned to make his way back the way he came.


Eight hours later in northern Quebec with the chill in the air that caused her to put on jacket, Aurora walked out towards the lake where a lone Steven sat near the edge of the water. She sat down next to him and moved closer to place her head on his shoulder. She looked out at the water and the trees beyond the lake. After a minute, she felt him put an arm around her shoulders.

"Thanks," he said.

That was not the reaction even she expected from him. However she gave him a very quick grin as a gust of wind went by. After brushing a lock of her brown hair out of her face as she returned her attention to looking over the lake, Aurora asked, "For what?"

"For not saying anything." When she looked at him, Steven continued, "You haven't pushed me to talk and I'm glad."

"When you want to talk, I'll be available. I do love you."

Steven nodded. "I know." He gave her a small smile. "Want to know something? I'm mostly having a hard time with Erika's situation."

"I can imagine," Aurora responded.

"But I think maybe it's time we head back. We've been here for almost a week and nothing has changed."

Aurora looked over her shoulder briefly. "Well, I must admit that I'd like to get back too. Besides seeing if anything is new with Travis, I'd like to see my brother and sister again. Talia has been a little weird but I can barely talk to her normally."

"Weird how? I'm sorry but I didn't notice."

"Not surprising with your own brother and sister situation. But I don't know. Maybe I'm just confused by her. I mean, I got the impression that she was rather fond of Travis and missed him. Now that he's back sort of she hasn't once looked in on him or anything before we left. It's like she's avoiding him. It just seems weird to me how cold she's been towards him. I even tried to talk to her about it and she just dismissed me telling me she wasn't in the mood." Aurora placed her right hand inside her jacket pocket to warm it up a little.

Steven let out a chuckle. "Aurora, I hate to break it to you but I don't think you're the one to talk to her if she's like that. After all, I think there's a better person for the job to getting your sister to explain herself."


Talia walked out of the bathroom wearing only a white towel with her hair still wet which she was drying with a second towel. She noticed her brother sitting in a large chair and she looked at the door to what she used as her living quarters. "I thought I locked that."

Nathan shrugged. "Locked doors don't matter to me. After all, like you I am an agent of the FSB."

Talia sighed. "Then you can also find a way out so I can get dressed."

"I need to talk to you."

"About?" Talia asked quickly. As he was about to respond, she continued, "And it better not be about Aurora this time. I'm not in the mood."

"No. It's about you. I'm worried about you. After that situation three weeks ago, you have been a little off. What happened to you out there against Lord Omega?"

Talia asked, "Did someone put you up to this?" When he gave her a perplexed stare, Talia moaned softly. "Like anyone can put you up to anything. Look, I just have a lot to work out."

"You seem to not be fully happy that Travis is back although he hasn't opened his eyes yet. I know you were a little upset with what happened to me but I'm fine. So what's the problem?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

"Why not?"

Talia sighed again before she spoke. She knew that her twin brother had the tenacity to never give up until he got what he wanted. "You're not going to give up I guess. Let me get dressed then we'll talk." She watched as he got out of the chair and made his way out of the room and into the hallway. She waited for the door to close then walked over to the closet and pulled out a pair of black jeans and a black long sleeve shirt. She placed them on the bed and looked at them for a long moment.


Forty-five minutes later, Jai sat in the cockpit of the new second jet with Ray in the co-pilot seat. She said while she looked over the instrument panel, "Let me get this straight. This jet has heavier shielding and weapons?"

Ray nodded. "That's why it lacks the maneuver capabilities of the Billion Dollar Princess."

"You know I never did like that name." Jai glared at Ray then looked out the window at the other jet. "I also didn't care for the name Ryder gave it either." She returned her attention to him. "If these things cost that much, how did we get a second one?"

Ray grinned. "Well, let's just say the upgrades are courtesy of Hunter Enterprises. As for the jet itself, we still have a guy in the White House that's a fan." He watched as she returned her attention to study the instruments. "So how is he doing?" When she looked at him, he said, "Travis Blake."

Jai shrugged. "It's hard to say since he hasn't changed in the three weeks since he's returned. I know it must be hard on Steven though."

Ray asked, "So I guess when Travis opens his eyes, the new team will be him, you, his brother, and his brother's girlfriend."

Jai took a moment to grasp that particular lineup. "I didn't think about that. I guess I never fully accepted the other three wouldn't be a part of it. I know that sounds weird but maybe I'm hoping that Travis, Ryder, and Mike would all still be here."

"We thought Travis was dead. Maybe Mike could be alive too?"

Jai shook her head. "No, pretty sure on that one. I saw the body fall after he was ran through the chest trying to save me."


Victoria answered the buzzing cell phone she always set on vibrate as she walked through a corridor with a few people moving about. "Victoria Malloy here." She paused then took a long deep breath. "Are you sure about that?" Another brief pause. "Okay, I'm on my way and get Mister Thompson and Miss Cabarini to meet me there." She pressed the button to end the call then placed the phone in her pocket as she quickened her pace.


Nathan opened the door and took a step inside before he looked back over his shoulder at Talia. He noticed she did a quick look around the bar. He said, "It's been too long since we been to a place like this." As she looked at him, he continued, "About three weeks ago is too long. And it's not Mikhail's but I'm sure it will do."

Talia eyed him as he walked in and made his way to the bar. She walked over to where he sat down to take the seat next to him. She looked around at the people.

Nathan asked, "What's wrong?" When she gave him a puzzled expression, he said, "You're unusually quiet. I know you too well for you to fool me. Something is wrong."

Talia just shrugged then looked around the crowd again.

Nathan shook his head then noticed a female bartender in front of him. He said, "Bring me a Dr. Pepper and vodka for my sister here." He looked at Talia and gave her a very subtle smile even though she did not return it.


Jai walked into the control center and made her way over to Seth and Victoria. She noticed Seth was reading out of a folder while Victoria was on the phone. Jai asked, "What's going on?"

Seth put up his index finger without looking up from the folder. He waited a few seconds then said, "It seems that a jet just arrived in San Francisco."

Jai asked, "So?"

Victoria said into the phone, "It would help to know who we're dealing with exactly. Get that information and I wanted it yesterday." She ended the call and looked at Jai. "It seems the jet originated from Valhalla. And we know of one member of Valhalla who has a connection to San Francisco."

Jai nodded slowly. "Ryder." She looked at Seth. "So, what are we waiting for?"

Seth said, "You're not going. In case you forgot, you and your team don't officially exist. We can't risk showing our hand until we are ready. Those are the rules."

As Victoria winced, Jai responded, "Screw the rules! He's my partner and I have fought at his side many times including once before we were in this thing you call StormStrike."

Seth frowned. "No, you can't screw the rules. Our rules are the only thing that stands between you and the liberation from Metahunter tyranny. Besides, who will back you up out there? Steven and that Masters girl are in Canada and it seems that the twins of attitude took off somewhere."

Jai looked at Victoria. "And Travis?"

Seth said, "Even if he ever opens his eyes, I never gave the okay for him to become a part of this! He was the one that destroyed not only San Francisco but laid Houston to waste and caused damage in France! Who can guarantee he won't go Lord Omega on us again?"

Jai gave a wicked half-grin. "Maybe we'll be lucky and he'll take you out first." She looked at Victoria. "I'm taking the jet to pick up Steven and Aurora. See if you can find Nathan and Talia." She turned to find herself looking into the eyes of someone she had seen before. She glanced back at Seth. "And tell your lapdog here to stay out of my way."

Seth nodded to him then looked at Jai as he stepped out of her way. "Don't screw this up." When she looked at him with a frown on her face, Seth continued, "And he goes with you."

Jai returned, "Fine. Just don't get in my way."


Nathan watched as his sister quickly downed another glass then waved over the bartender. When the bartender arrived, Nathan just said to him, "Just leave her a bottle." After the puzzled bartender reached then placed a bottle in front of Talia, Nathan nodded to him before he left. "You know, even if you wanted to get drunk, you can't."

As she poured her glass, Talia responded, "I really wish this one time I could drink myself into oblivion." She reached for the glass then downed it swiftly into her throat.

As she started to pour another, Nathan asked, "What's going on with you? I care about you and you have me worried. I've never seen you quite like this before."

She looked at him. "You care about me?" When he gave her a frown, she said, "Of course you do." She gave a soft pat on his shoulder then drank down another glass. She looked at him then said, "I love you. You've never given up on me."

Nathan nodded. "That's true although there's been more than one time I wanted to strangle some sense into you. So what's wrong?"

Talia poured another drink and brought it up to her mouth. Before she took the drink, she slowly placed it back down on the counter. She looked at Nathan then said softly, "I think I really messed up." As he was about to speak, she shook her head. "No, let me finish because it's difficult." She looked around the bar quickly then looked back at him then said in Russian, "When I was captured by Lord Omega, he wanted to bring his mate into my body. However, before the ceremony was to take place, he got the idea in his head to have his way with me."

"He raped you?" Nathan asked in Russian.

"Not exactly. When he was going to, I saw the face of Travis. I didn't know he was possessed by some other dimensional being or whatever the Hell that was. So I told him he didn't need to force himself on me. And so" She sighed and looked away from him because she could not take the look in his eyes.

Nathan leaned closer to her. He asked softly, "So you willingly had sex with him?" After Talia looked at him and slowly nodded, Nathan grabbed the bottle and glass to move them away from her. "I really must say" He was interrupted when he felt a vibration on his side. He reached into his pocket and withdrew a cell phone. He looked at the number with a surprised expression. He answered it in Russian. "What do you need?" He listened for a moment then said, "Okay, I have her here. And I have it." He pressed the button to end the call. He waved over the bartender as he pulled money out. "Something is happening and they need us." He gave two fifties to the bartender. As they were walking out, Nathan pressed in a number into his phone and hit the call button.

Ten minutes later, Talia hovered above the Washington DC area holding Nathan as the black jet moved closer to them. When the jet slowed to a stop and hovered, she waited for the hatch to the airlock to open and entered. After the outer door closed, she waited for the inner door to open and walked out towards the cockpit as Nathan moved to one of the seats and strapped in. She glanced at the one in the co-pilot seat then looked at Jai. "What's he doing here?"

Jai replied, "It wasn't my call."

Talia asked, "So what's going on?"

Jai looked at her and was somewhat surprised as the two rarely had a conversation longer than two sentences before Talia would say something to get on her nerves. "It seems word has it that a craft from Valhalla is making a beeline towards San Francisco and may already be there. No official word as to why from Corbian."

Talia glanced back at Nathan who frowned. She looked forward again out the cockpit. "You're pointed north and San Francisco is west, isn't it?"

Jai said, "Sit down and strap in. We're picking up your little sister and Steven first."

"Sure." Talia looked at the one in the co-pilot seat. "Remember, I don't know you. I may not like her much but I respect her ability during battle at least a little bit. So just don't get in the way or I'll take you out myself."

As Talia took the first seat behind them, Jai glanced at the co-pilot with a sly grin. She pushed the jet forward.


The Valhalla craft lowered into the remains of the city by the Bay as United States military ground vehicles closed in. As the craft was powering down, many military troops positioned themselves behind fortifications and aimed their loaded weapons at the craft. The side door slid open and Ryder stood in the doorway.

One said into his radio that amplified his voice, "This is Major Franks of the United States Army. We have you surrounded. Everyone step out of that jet and state your business."

After they exited, Ryder scanned the area as Bobbi stood next to him. Ryder said softly, "Take care of this. It's not my concern."

Bobbi grinned. "Okay, team, you heard him. Let's show them what we're made of." She extended razor-sharp pikes out of her right hand and forearm.

As Bobbi used the pikes as projectiles towards the military, Ryder turned to his left and began to walk as he approached a wall of soldiers with their weapons pointed to him. As electricity danced around a clinched fist, Ryder continued towards them. He released a wide electrical shot to break an opening in their wall. Ryder continued to launch lightning at a rapid pace hitting the soldiers that stood in his path.


Steven looked at the jet that descended vertically while Aurora held his right hand. When the jet landed, he looked at Aurora and nodded. He looked back at the jet as Aurora looked over her shoulder then gave a small wave then made her way to the jet. Steven looked back at his adopted mother Gina Larson that stood on the top of a small hill where the two-story house stood. He gave a small smile then waved before he headed to the jet. He noticed Aurora was already up the lowered ramp. Steven sped up and ran into the jet. He noticed that Nathan sat next to Talia who just looked out the window to his left at the back while Aurora took a seat on the other side just behind the cockpit. He looked up Jai then looked at the co-pilot seat. "What's he doing here?"

"He's with us," Jai replied as she hit the switch to close the ramp. After Steven took a seat next to Aurora, Jai made the jet lift off with the vertical engines. "Steven, there's no change with Travis or I would have called you immediately. I do notice you have on a StormStrike uniform." It just fully dawned on Jai that Steven was a reserve member of the old team.

Steven responded, "Well, without it I have to control my speed or my clothes rip away and I could end up naked."

As Aurora let out a small giggle, Jai just replied, "Well, we can't have that. To bring you up to speed, it seems that a craft from Valhalla landed in San Francisco and we're to take care of it before the Metahunters make it a real mess."

Aurora glanced at the seats with her brother and sister and got a small nod from Nathan. She sat back in her seat then looked at Steven who gave her a stare. She leaned closer to him then said softly, "There's something I need to tell you." She lowered her voice even more. "Corbian is sort of my brother." She noticed the startled expression from him. "I don't fully understand or grasp it myself. But it seems Corbian was genetically engineered and the DNA used was mostly Nathan's mixed with a little from someone else. I wanted to tell you but I can't really explain it so I put it off."

Steven asked, "What if we have to fight him? Whose side are you going to be on?"

Aurora gave him a smile. "I'm with you. Look, Corbian really doesn't mean anything to me. I only have feelings for three siblings because they were the only ones I knew about while I grew up and that's Nathan, Talia, and mostly Rex. Oh yeah, Rex apparently had an identical twin that died too. These things I found out when I was in Valhalla. Are you mad at me?"

Steven shook his head then glanced back at Nathan and Talia briefly. He asked Aurora, "How are they dealing with it?"

"Not totally sure. Why?"

Steven replied, "You don't think there would be a problem with them, do you?"

Aurora replied, "I'm sure there won't be." She gave Steven a reassuring grin.

Jai announced, "Okay, I'm ready to do a little maneuver to get us to San Francisco in a few minutes. For those who never witnessed it, remain seated because it can get a little bumpy sometimes." Jai then thought about her fallen teammate Mike who had a problem with flying for a moment. She pushed the jet skyward.


Ryder made his way up a hill within the ruins of San Francisco then looked over his right shoulder back as the battle raged between those from Valhalla and the United States Army. He noticed that the soldiers were not doing so well against that particular metahuman-powered team led by Bobbi Grayson although he could not see her particularly. Ryder turned back away from the battle as he continued away from it alone.

Even though buildings were in ruins and streets destroyed, Ryder knew exactly where he was going. He stopped and began to quickly look around himself then his eyes locked on a mound of rubble. He walked to the rubble and knew what building used to stand at the spot. Ryder heard footsteps behind him. He quickly turned and was already about to hurl lightning when his eyes met her eyes. Ryder took a deep breath as he rested his right arm back to his side. As he turned back to the rubble, he asked blandly, "Shouldn't you be leading the Strike Team now?"

Bobbi gave a short laugh. "It's not like they need my help against that group. Besides, if any of them take any kind of hit, Susan heals them. And I can't let anything happen to you." She smiled even though he did not turn back to her. "Direct order from Corbian." She waited a moment to see if he would look back at her but he did not. "Find what you were looking for?"

Slowly, he turned to her. "No. But I know the truth now. There was a small part of me that wish my parents survived this but now I know better. The time reported of the attack would mean they were in the city at the time it happened." He took a breath. "They're dead."

Bobbi responded, "I'm sorry. You know that" She noticed the startled expression on his face then he looked skyward. "What is it?"

Ryder continued to eye the sky. "Get the Strike Team ready because we're about to have company. There's a jet up there somewhere."

"A jet?" Bobbi looked up. "I don't see any jet nor do I hear one."

"It's able to do that but it's there."

Bobbi asked, "How do you know?"

"Call it instinct."

Bobbi grinned wickedly. "We can deal with anything any jet can bring."

Ryder eyed her until her grin slowly vanished. "It's the Enterprise. If the pilot is who I think it is then we're about to be in for one hell of a fight if she chooses to do so. Gather your team." After she left him, Ryder looked skyward again. He thought, "Jai, if that's you out there, I will say you picked one hell of a time to show back up."


On the jet, Jai said to the back without looking, "Talia, you're our sole flyer. You will need to give Aurora cover as she lowers the rest of you magnetically while I can draw their attention with the jet." She could feel the gaze coming from the co-pilot seat and took a quick breath to show her displeasure. "What do you want? You follow my lead, remember?"

"The plan isn't bad. But they worked with you before and I haven't. Besides, I'm used to being solo. You go down with them and I draw the attention."

Jai asked, "You know how to fly this?"

He grinned at her. "How do you think I got around while you were gone? Most of the time I was in and out before anyone knew."

"Fine," Jai snapped off. She said as she began to unbuckle herself, "You land it and if one dent happens to it, you will burn."

"With my phase-shifting ability, don't threaten me."

Jai smiled slightly as she stood. "You want to bet your power won't disappear if Talia catches you off guard?" As he looked back at Talia who was already standing, Jai continued, "Remember, this thing is our transportation back." Jai got out of the seat as he took control of the jet. By the time she reached the airlock in the back, the other four were already there. As they entered the airlock and closed the door behind them, Jai said, "Remember, we want to try to get Ryder without a fight."

Talia who stood closest to the outer door said deliberately as her eyes stayed locked on the door, "I never promised nobody would hurt."

Jai glanced at Nathan then looked at the back of Talia. "Ryder is still a friend of mine." She looked at Aurora to her right, "Are you ready?"

Aurora nodded. She concentrated to engulf her brother, her boyfriend, Jai, and herself inside a field of magnetism. "It's okay to open it."

Before Jai could respond, she saw Talia quickly reach for the button to open the outer door. As Aurora grimaced next to her, Jai watched as the sudden wind snatched Talia out of the airlock and out of sight. "She could have waited."

Talia used her flight power to regain control. She hovered over the devastated city of San Francisco. She glanced to see the others slowly emerge from the invisible jet. She then shot herself down to the ground. Talia saw a small group near what used to be Fisherman's Wharf and quickly flew towards them. She landed to see them all looking at her with Bobbi closest to her and Ryder from a distance. Talia pointed towards Ryder, "We're just here for him for some reason. So I'll give you two options."

Bobbi grinned. "And they are?"

"Option one is you hand him over peacefully and you all walk no questions asked." Talia tightened her right fist.

Bobbi asked sarcastically, "And what would be option two?"

Talia took a breath. "We'll take him by force. Please pick option two."

Bobbi nodded. "Okay." She extended some spikes out of her right forearm as she said, "We pick option two."

Talia gave a quick wicked grin. "Then damn your bad luck."

Bobbi brought up her arm to send the razor-sharp projectiles at Talia at the same time Talia fired back. Bobbi was surprised that the spikes were engulfed in a large black wall one second before it poured all over herself. She tried to extend another set of spikes but nothing happened. "Get her! Protect Corbian's apprentice!"

Talia saw one she met before grab a damaged car and hurl it towards her. As she was about to fly to avoid the car hurled by Victor Markinson, she felt a force she never saw hit her and hurl her back into another damaged car.

Victor said, "That's payback for what happened in Russia, bitch!"

As Talia tried to regain her feet, another hit from the shockwave power of Doug White slammed into her to keep her off balance.

Victor laughed. "We never got over that beating in Russia you gave us. And don't think we haven't tried." He lifted the car over his head as he got closer to where Talia was on the ground. "Your brother can't help you now."

Talia grinned then said, "I think you might want to be more worried about my sister right now." When he made a puzzled expression, she said, "That thing you're holding is metal after all."

Victor heard the sound of metal bending overhead. He felt the car ripped from his grip. He looked up to see the car over him by a few feet just before it crashed on him.

Talia was still unable to regain her feet but felt something zip by her. She watched as Steven slammed himself into Doug which caused him to cease his attention on her. She felt someone gently grab her by her left arm to help her up and looked to see the face of her younger sister. "Thanks for the assist but now you can get out of my way, Aurora."

Aurora was about to speak to Talia when she noticed a slight movement out of the corner of her eye. As she turned to it, she noticed another had positioned himself behind Steven and had already fired a blast towards him. "Steven!" She watched in horror as he was encased in a block of ice as he took the direct hit. She noticed that Jai was already moving towards Steven as Nathan drew the attention of the ice dealer. She turned her attention back to Talia to see she was already airborne.

Jai created fire around Steven. She turned to the see the one who froze Steven got hit from behind by Talia as Nathan closed in. Jai turned back thinking she did not want to even know how bad that was going to turn out for that one. Jai noticed Doug was closing on Aurora. She ran towards him and threw herself into him before he could fire. As they rolled on the ground, Jai could feel he ended up on top and began hitting her with his shockwave power. She yelled out as best she could, "Talia, hit him now!"

Talia said as she flew in, "I can't get a good shot without hitting you too!"

Jai yelled back as she grabbed at his wrist so he could not target her, "Do it!" A second later, Jai felt the black matter cover her and the shaking from Doug's power ceased. When she opened her eyes, she gave Doug a wicked grin for a second.

Doug asked, "What are you smiling about? You don't have your powers either."

Jai kneed him in the groin then flipped him off of her. She nipped up as he clumsily tried to regain his feet through the pain. She gave him a reverse round kick flush in the face before he was fully up.


Ryder stood on a hill and watched the battle below. He mainly focused on Jai who just pulled off her taking down Doug and he could not help but to let out a short smirk. He noticed Bobbi was trying to extend her spikes still. He walked towards her and when they made eye contact, he shook his head. He walked over to her and gave a small subtle grin.

Bobbi said to him, "We'll protect you even if we have to kill them."

Ryder sighed. "Call off the Strike Team."

"Now why would I do that?"

"Oh, I don't know. Maybe because I said so." He looked away to see Aurora as she eyed Steven in the melting ice. "Or maybe you want to explain to Corbian why you killed his family."

"Corbian's family?"

Before he answered, Ryder noticed Victor slamming into the ground and sliding past them. He looked at Bobbi and said, "The one that caused that is Corbian's brother." He looked skyward to see Talia descend down and hitting Susan flush to neutralize her powers. Ryder pointed to Talia. "That's a sister." He looked at a worried Aurora again. "And the one that is on the verge of being heartbroken is another sister." Ryder eyed closely at Steven to see he was wearing a very familiar uniform. He looked back at Bobbi. "Stand down."

Bobbi nodded quickly. As Victor regained his feet and was about to rejoin the battle, Bobbi ordered, "Stop, Victor. Stay with us and don't act unless I give the word." As he glared at her, Bobbi said, "That's an order."

After she looked to him, Ryder emotionlessly said, "Follow me." He walked towards the battle with Bobbi and Victor on each side and a step behind.


Victoria briskly walked into the control room and made her way to Seth. When he looked at her, she said, "We got a big problem and it's heading right for our team. There was a dispatch of Metahunters and they are heading to San Francisco."


Aurora noticed all the ice was melted and magnetically lifted Steven out of the fire that surrounded him. She asked, "Are you okay?" After he nodded, she let out a sigh of relief. She frowned then said, "Don't you ever scare me like that again."


As Ryder walked up to the battlefield, he said, "Valhalla Strike Team, stand down now." As Bobbi nodded to them, Ryder looked at Nathan who was holding Doug off the ground by the neck with one hand. "Mind putting our guy down?" He looked at Jai who walked up and tapped Nathan on the shoulder. After Nathan slowly released him and Jai looked at him, Ryder said to her, "You picked one hell of a time to come back."

Jai replied, "I'm not here to fight you."

Ryder returned, "Then why are you here?"

"StormStrike. The team is getting back together and I want you with me." She took a couple of breaths. "Where you belong."

Ryder looked around at Nathan, Talia, Aurora, Steven, before he returned his attention to Jai. "It seems you have a full team already. Or are the twins just helping out again?"

Jai nodded. "But it wouldn't change anything with you. Ever since I've known you, you have always been on my side. You are my friend. My partner." As he gave her a blank stare, Jai shook her head. "Hell, who am I kidding? You're more than that. You're the little brother I never had."

"And you left me."

Jai shook her head. "I had my reasons. I couldn't take you where I was going and I thought you'd be fine with Ariel. She thinks of you as a little brother too."

Ryder frowned. "And she betrayed me too. She works for the company that created the monsters that killed two people I considered my brothers. And she even claimed to love Mike."

Steven asked, "You don't know why?" Before Ryder answered, Steven said, "She's trying to use her position as Jason Hunter's daughter to find out anything she can about the Metahunters that we can use against them. She told me she was going to explain it all to you but you were gone before she had a chance. As for killing the two you considered brothers you have a bit to learn there too."

Jai said, "That's a long story we can fill him in on later. I'm still having a hard time with it myself." She looked back at Ryder. "I need you at my side again. The time is coming for payback. And I can't think of a StormStrike without Ryder Harrison." Jai noticed her communicator buzzed. She said into the communicator, "Now isn't a good time."

Seth's voice answered back, "There are Metahunters heading towards your location. I think you'd want to know that."

Jai replied, "Okay." She looked at the rest of the team. "Head back to the jet and if I'm not there in five minutes, go without me." She looked back at Ryder. "I'm sticking with him. Either he will rejoin us or I'll go with him as his prisoner but the fighting has to end and we need to get out of here."

Ryder asked, "You'd willingly give yourself up for me?"

As they leave and Aurora takes one look back, Jai motioned towards the black matter still covering parts of her body. "It's not like I can resist you. Either there's a part of you that remains for the right things or you are beyond hope. Either way, you decide my fate."

Ryder thought a moment then turned back to the Strike Team. "Go. Head back to Valhalla. I'm going with her."

Bobbi said, "You can't. What about Corbian?" She took a deep breath then asked, "What about me?"

"Corbian always said I was free to come and go. But this person and I have been through enough to at least listen to what she has to say. I am going with her because I choose to. Now as my last order, go back to Valhalla."

Bobbi asked, "Is there anything you want to pass on to Corbian?"

Ryder nodded. "Tell him that my growth process must continue elsewhere." As Bobbi made a puzzled expression, Ryder continued, "He'll understand what that means."

Bobbi asked, "Is this goodbye between us?"

Ryder shook his head. "I have a feeling we'll meet again. Now go and don't look back." As they left, Ryder turned to Jai. "So what's this long story?"

Jai grabbed him by the arm and pulled him along. "We don't have time because our transportation is leaving soon."

As they were running, Ryder said, "They can't leave without you. Who else can pilot the jet?"

"Explain later." As they ran to the jet, Jai could hear the engines were being fired up. After they got inside, the ramp closed and she made her way to the cockpit as Ryder took an empty seat across the aisle from Aurora and Steven. Jai said, "Let's get out of here. We got what we came for."

Ryder exchanged a short nod with Jai as she looked back at him then returned her attention to taking off. He looked across the aisle to see Aurora looking towards him with a large smile on her face. He turned away to look out the window to see the Valhalla craft airborne already and flying away. Ryder felt someone sit down next to him and looked back to see Aurora.

Aurora smiled then said, "Hi." She waited for him to speak then when he did not, she continued as she felt the jet lift off, "It's good to have you back."

Ryder nodded. "It's been a long time since I've been on the Enterprise."

As she pushed the jet forward and gaining altitude, Jai said softly, "I always hated what he called this jet. But this is one time I'm glad to hear it."


Patricia walked into the infirmary and into the room where a familiar body remained motionless. She looked at the instruments that showed no readings still and sighed. She marked her initials on a pad that hung on the foot of the bed. As she put the pad back, she looked back up because she could have sworn she saw something. Patricia noticed his hand began to move slowly. She nervously looked at the door then she looked back at him. She jumped back a little when his eyes suddenly opened. As he abruptly sat up, Patricia asked nervously, "Travis Blake?" As he looked around with an angered expression, Patricia asked with more nervousness in her voice, "Lord Omega?"

He looked at her with an angered frown.




One of them has returned: Travis Blake or Lord Omega? Find out next month in



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