[Clash: Rise of the Heroes] Bark and the Assassin Crisis

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(Please refrain from commenting in this thread. I wish to post the whole store here as one thread. Thanks. Please enjoy.)

Part 1.

The L.A.X. terminal was as busy as ever. People ran to and fro heading for their flights and trying to make it through the many security check points. It was the middle of December and the flights were booked heavily. It did not help that Air Force One had landed here yesterday and was about to leave. This meant, of course, that all flights had to wait while the military escorted the President’s personal Jet into the sky.
Air Force One would not normally land here, but there was an emergency onboard and they were forced down. Once it landed there was no engine trouble to be found. The President informed the security that he would disembark here yet again to make another speech. This worried the entire airport security and the presidents bodyguards, but he wanted face time, it’s always good for elections.
Three members of the ULH training teams were nearby when this happened and the General sent them in to see to the security of the situation.
‘’ Okay, we will go and check in with the secret service. Once the President boards his plane, we can head home. I don’t want to waste any time.’’ Bolt commanded his two trainees.
Frost shook her head, ‘’ Since when are we just hired security?’’
Bark frowned. He held up a small ipod sized device and typed on it. After completing his thought, he showed it to Frost.
She smiled and him, ‘’ Oh, there is nothing wrong with hired security, but we are highly trained superheroes charged with global security. This sort of stuff can be handled by the president’s personal guards.’’
Bark typed something else and then showed it to her.
She laughed, ‘’Sure, I guess you’re right. Any training is good training.’’
Bolt, his eyes keenly scanning the crowds of pedestrians, nodded, ‘’ For once, I agree with the furball.’’
Frost grinned sneakily; she reached over and scratched Bark behind the ear. ‘’ Just because he’s cuter than you doesn’t mean you can call him names.’’
Bolt turned around with a huff. He was going to say that everyone knew there was no one cuter than him. But he was certainly not amused by the way she was scratching the dog behind the ear.
‘’ Trainees, act professional!’’
Frost took her hand off of Bark and sneered at Bolt. ‘’ Calm down. This is just busywork and you know it.’’
Bolt rolled his eye., Bark was a little confused, as Frost led the way. Bark didn’t mind the occasional scratch behind the ear not because it made him feel good, but any man enjoys the attention of pretty girls. Bark was aware, though, that Frost was just doing it to make Bolt jealous.
All the way through the airport Bark had a frown etched onto his face. Everyone knew Bolt, he was pretty famous as a superhero. Frost was unusual with her skin tight suit, but nothing that most haven’t seen now and then with all the superheroes around. But a dog man was not exactly common fare for most people. Some were frightened while others were amused. Of course it did not help that his choice of costume was nothing more than a pair of briefs.
‘’ Okay, here we are. There’s the president’s personal protection, and that must be the local sheriff. I wonder which one I need to speak with?’’ Bolt looked around at the very official looking men.
Frost looked through the crowds, getting a feel for who was here. There were a couple of suspicious looking characters, but they could just as easily be tired travelers. Most people were holding out cameras or had their young children on their shoulders. It was a treat to see the president in person, and most would not turn down the opportunity to capture it for their scrapbooks. Unfortunately, any one of the cameras could be a weapon in disguise. So, the superhero students would have to keep a close watch on everything.
‘’Hey, Bark, do you smell anything out of the ordinary?’’ Frost looked over to the shorter, stocky, muscular dog man.
Bark closed his eyes and sniffed the air. He sniffed and sniffed, then wrinkled his nose.
‘’What? Did you smell something wrong?’’
He shook his head and looked down. There was a little boy, probably around five or six, looking at the dog man with wide, intrigued eyes. In his hands was a chilly dog covered in onions and jalapeños. A year ago that would look pretty good to Joshua Henderson, but with the nose of a dog, that smell was very, very strong. He typed furiously on his pad and showed it to her.
She laughed, ‘’ Oh, yeah, I guess that would stink if I had your nose.’’
‘’ Hey mister. What are you?’’ The boy was not startled by the man, or the way he was wrinkling his nose at him.
Bark leaned over and smiled. He typed on his pad and showed it to the boy.
The boy looked at it, mouthing the words as he read them. ‘’ Oh, you are a hero named Bark. Cool. Can I touch your fur?’’
Bark was amused, though he was having a hard time with the smell of the boys lunch. He also was having a hard time considering why a parent would want to feed a child such a treat before getting on a plane. But, he obliged and held out his arm. The boy used his free hand to run his fingers up and down the grey fur. Up close, Barks fur had a silver sheen to it, and the shaggier fur on his shins and the tops of his feet was white, with tints of grey in it.
‘’Wow, it’s just like my dog at home. Do you like doggy biscuits?’’
Frost laughed, ‘’No, he tried them, but didn’t like them. He isn’t a dog, really, just looks a lot like one.’’
‘’Jimmy, where did you…oh… OH My…what are you doing?’’ the mother of this kid finally found him.
Frost looked at the frazzled woman, ‘’ Hello, we are students of the ULH. Your child here was curious about our newest recruit.’’
‘’ I see.’’ She looked at Bark with wide eyes, ‘’ Oh Goodness. Why is he in his underwear?’’ the woman frowned at the attire of the man.
Bark let out a sigh and stood up. He started to type something, but Frost felt she knew the answer.
‘’ Bark here has the body temperature of 101 degrees normally; he is also covered in fur, as you can see. So, a lot of clothing makes him uncomfortable. Our costume department hasn’t found a suitable material yet. Be assured, he is wearing a suit, not just underwear.’’
Bark nodded and then showed her the pad.
The woman leaned over and read it. ‘’ Oh, I see, you are named Bar?’’
Bark looked at the pad and then corrected his mistake, then turned it back to her.
‘’ Oh, you are Bark. And you cannot speak. I see. Well, I’m sure it was nice to meet you, but we need to find the rest of the family at lunch.’’
The boy waved while his mother pushed him back through the crowd. In the month that Bark had been working with the ULH he had found that the children are the most comfortable and interested, while the adults are the most scared, concerned, and rude. Not just about him, about all the heroes he works with. More than once he has had the urge to say, or really write that they should be thanking these people for risking their lives for them, instead of scrutinizing them. But, people will be people.
‘’ Come on, the President wants us at the front.’’ Bolt had just returned from meeting with the head of the president’s personal security.
Frost and Bark left the crowd that had gathered and found their way to the front of the area where the president was supposed to make a speech in just a moment.
Bark and Frost were introduced to five sleekly dressed secret service people.
‘’ This is Mr. Jackson, he is the highest ranking member of this team. This is Mr. White, and Ms. Colson, his assistants. Those two are Mr. Sanders, and Mr. Crimson.’’ Bolt walked them down the way.
After meeting and greeting, Bolt let Mr. Jackson speak, ‘’ Okay, the ULH will be the chief backup for us. I am putting you above the local constabulary. You will see to the crowds and make sure that no one gets within this radius of the President.’’ The tall African American man pointed to a rope they had set up to keep the people back.
Frost stood at attention, ‘’Yes sir.’’
Bolt smiled, ‘’We take orders well.’’
Bark just nodded.
Mr. Jackson walked up to Bark, ‘’ Do you not know how to address a superior officer yet, student?’’ Jeffry Jackson, having been a boot camp trainer for ten years in his history, always treated the ULH students like military grunts.
Bark shook his head, then started to type.
Frost answered while she watched her friend nervously write as fast as he could. ‘’ Mr. Jackson, Bark is incapable of speaking. You will have to be satisfied with a nod.’’
Mr. Jackson nodded to Bark, ‘’ My apologies student, as you were.’’ He walked on.
Bark erased his badly written response and then smiled at Frost.
Just then the area lit up and the security went on high alert. The president’s arrival was announced and everyone was ready to see that he was protected. All the security looked as upset as they should be. It was unthinkable that the president would take this opportunity to make some sort of speech, they had no planning, and anything could go wrong.
A woman in charge of the public affairs of the President smiled to the crowd and gestured with her hands to the man walking up behind her. ‘’ Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States of America.’’
With a wave and a smile, the President greeted the crowds. There was a lot of applause, a deluge of flashes, and many spontaneous questions yelled out.
Bark covered his ears and sneered. The sounds were overwhelming his heightened sense of hearing. This was no good, how could he protect anyone when something like this could confound his senses?
Just then he noticed something out of the ordinary. A smell that was getting stronger the longer he stayed over here. It was definitely nothing that should be here right now. With a sharp turn and a swift punch, he hit Mr. Crimson right in the face.
Three of the presidents security jumped to cover him, while the others went after Bark. But, it did not take long for anyone to notice that where Bark had punched the man, his face was torn, and there were robotics underneath.
‘’Frost, freeze him.’’ Bolt yelled out while standing between the President and this fake person.
Frost reached out and froze the things feet to the ground. The local and presidential security all shot at the robot, but it did not flinch. In fact, it took two steps and broke the ice from the floor.
Bark jumped at it and punched it so hard that his fist went right through the robots chest. He pulled his arm out and swiftly kicked it, sending it sprawling across the ground. With a strange whirring sound, it slumped over and seemed to turn off.
‘’ What the hell was that?’’ Mr. Jackson asked.
Bolt frowned, ‘’That was an assassination droid. I don’t know who sent it, but it must have found a way to down the plane here so it could replace the real Mr. Crimson.’’
‘’ What about Jonathan?’’ Ms. Colson asked.
Frost shook her head, ‘’ These droids kill whoever they replace, he was probably vaporized.’’
‘’ Damnit, get off of me! I am the President!’’ The President pushed his way through the guards and got a look at what was happening.
‘’Mr. President, I think we will have to postpone the speech.’’ Mr. Jackson spoke up first.
‘’ I want that thing investigated. I want to know who was trying to kill me.’’ The President was understandably not happy with this.
Bolt spoke then, ‘’ It may have not been sent to just kill you, it might have been sent to gather intelligence first, and then kill you.’’
The president furrowed his brow at Bolt, ‘’ Good to know. Whatever the mission, I want our people to find out what it was doing here.’’
‘’ At once sir.’’ Mr. Jackson nodded and then looked at two of his own. ‘’ Escort him back on the plane and make sure he is not alone.’’
‘’Wait.’’ Frost called out.
Everyone stopped and looked at her. She turned a new shade of red and smiled, ‘’ uh, it would be wise, Sir, to have Bark sniff everyone before you leave. Sir.’’
‘’Bark? Sniff? What are you saying young lady?’’ The President was confused.
Bolt nodded, ‘’ Our newest recruit, Mr. President, has the ability to sniff out impostors. If they aren’t made of flesh, he can tell by his nose.’’
Bark was smiling and trying not to shake all over, but he went around and started sniffing all of the other staff of the president. No one was of interest, everyone checked out. Bark knew he had to check the last person, but his tail was practically between his legs when he did. Though, anyone would be this way if they were sniffing the President of the United States.
‘’ Do I check out?’’ The President was not happy with this, but he was patient.
Bark looked up and nodded with a scared smile.
‘’ Can’t you speak?’’ The President asked.
Bark resisted the eye roll at the same question asked so often. But, before anyone could answer, his eyes perked up and he turned around to see the hand of the droid lifting with a hole opening in it. With a mighty leap he jumped in front of Frost, who happened to be where the hand was pointed. It shot out a bullet from its wrist and hit Bark right in the shoulder.
Bolt shot off at top speed and ran around the droid, he grabbed the uplifted arm and he spun it around like a shot-put and then let it go, flinging it through a window of the LAX terminal. The assassin went clear through and landed out by a luggage train. The driver with his ipod blasting away into his earbuds nearly wet himself at the sudden sight of the thing landing right near him.
The President was taken away quickly and the terminal was shut down for investigation. Bark, the Hero of the day, was taken by his friends back to ULH headquarters.

‘’ People , I want answers. An assassination droid does not simply join the Presidents staff.’’ The General was outraged with the news brought to him by his new team. He pounded a fist on a table in the main meeting room and looked around at the chiefs of his staff. ‘’ There is no reason on Earth that that should have happened.’’
Frost, who would not normally be in such meetings, answered. ‘’ All we could determine was that it replaced a man once the plane came down. Other than that, we will have to wait for the CIA to get back to us.’’
The General rubbed his temples, he always hated dealing with the CIA when it came to investigative matters, they never did anything on his schedule. ‘’ Okay, what did you find out so far?’’
Bolt answered, ‘’Well, sir, I spoke with the pilots and two of the LAX engineers. They know that the plane was showing a damaged engine before it was forced down. In fact, the pilot swore he saw smoke on the engine. But, once they landed, there was nothing to indicate damage. ‘’
‘’ Where was the plane before it landed at LAX?’’ The General looked over to Solstice.
She checked the panels on the table before her and looked up the information they had gathered from the CIA. ‘’ Air Force One was in Tokyo as a last stop of a tour of Asia. They landed in four major cities in the past two weeks.’’
Bastion spoke up, ‘’ That thing could have been put on board at any of those locations. We cannot be certain that it was LAX. The whole situation with the plane going down could’ve had nothing to do with this. That Mr. Crimson could’ve been replaced anywhere, it just happened that Bark found him there.’’
The General let out a breath and then looked around the room. ‘’ Alright people. We have too much speculation and not enough solid information. I am going to send teams to each of the landing points of Air Force One and see what they can find. When I get more information, we can formulate a plan of dealing with whichever government felt the need to use an assassin droid. Bastion, take a team of two students to Tokyo. Solstice, you head to Korea with three students, make sure you bring a telepath with you. William, take a team of three to Hong Kong, make sure you also have a telepath with you. Bastion, after Tokyo, make a stop in Manila and check things out there. ‘’ The General stood up, ‘’ You have your orders, dismissed.’’
The room followed suit and stood up to leave. Most of the teachers and leaders left quietly while considering their orders and what they would be doing in two hours. Frost got up to leave when she noticed that Bolt was staying behind. She decided to stay as well, just in case they would need anything else from one of the field agents at the scene of this incident.
‘’ General?’’
‘’ What is it, Bolt?’’
Bolt tried to say this without sounding like a first year student. ‘’ Uh, why didn’t you send me to any of the locations?’’
The General was gathering up some papers he had been reading from the different intelligence reports. ‘’ One of your students is injured and I don’t think you need to be gallivanting around the planet while he might need the guidance of his teacher.’’
Bolt rolled his eyes. ‘’ The mutt. That boy is fine. Give him five minutes with Tobias and he will be good as new. Besides…’’
The General looked at Bolt with a severe gaze. ‘’ I know that you and this Bark haven’t seen eye to eye, but you are going to have to act the professional here. Mr. Joshua Henderson is still recovering from massive memory loss, running for his life for weeks in the desert, and the fact he is still incapable of speaking. The bullet is only the most recent of his issues. You will guide him, and help him in any way a teacher can. ‘’
Bolt let out an annoyed sigh, but did not argue. ‘’ Fine. But, that doesn’t mean that I have to like him.’’
The General had gathered up his folders and was turning off the lights, ‘’ Bolt, as a teacher, you don’t have the luxury of being jealous. I don’t care if every girl on this space station is interested in that man, you cannot find fault with him because of it. Act like a teacher, or you will be bumped down to a field grunt for a semester, is that understood?’’
Bolt whined, ‘’ Not every girl is interested in him. He just needs to wear more clothes, and….’’
The General had heard enough, ‘’UNDERSTOOD!’’
Bolt controlled the urge to sneer and nodded. ‘’Understood.’’
The General raised both eyebrows, ‘’ Is that all?’’
‘’ Yes, sir.’’ Bolt saluted and then walked out. Right after the door closed, anyone with ears could hear him fume ‘’ I am not jealous.’’
Frost, who had been standing there the whole time, snickered at the sound of that lie Bolt had just uttered.
‘’ Did you need something, student?’’ The General looked up the smiling girl.
She grinned, ‘’ Uh, No. I was just waiting for my teacher to leave.’’
‘’ Dismissed then.’’ The General walked out another door that led directly to his private office while Frost left.
Frost walked out, heading toward the infirmary where Bark was currently being treated. She was amused at Bolt. Bark was cute, but not as much like a cute man, but like that puppy you found on your way home from school. Since Bark had been here, he had been a little afraid and always quiet for obvious reasons, this had made him a shy person. This is offset by his great physical condition and the fact that he is practically naked. Some, not all, of the girls have shown an interest in him. The cute girls seem attracted to his puppy like qualities. This, in turn, had made some of the more brash and flirty men jealous. And few on the ULH spacestation are as flirty a male as Bolt. Of course this has made Bolt instantly not like Bark. Frost, a girl who had been hit on by plenty of men in her day, especially Bolt, found this most amusing.
Bark had sort of attached himself to Frost. She saved him and brought him here, this had created a friendship between the two. There is not a romance between them at this time, but that doesn’t mean that she won’t use their friendship to drive Bolt crazy. In a way it is sort of nice to have a man stew with jealousy around her, it was flattering.
 
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cool story god how long did it take to think of all that cant wait for the rest of your story gl

 
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Part 2

The General, tired after a long day of work, sat down in his office chair with a great huff. He felt old today, reading reports and dealing with all the paperwork made any soldier feel like an old desk jockey. But, the paperwork was necessary according to the bureaucrats.

‘’ This job.’’ He bemoaned, considering how hard it was to maintain the security of an entire planet.

If it was not an invading alien force, or some super-villain scientist trying to kill half the population, it was one nation attacking another. Some days he wanted to gather up all these stupid dictators who felt the need to spy and undermine the bigger nations and stick them all on Pluto. But, that wouldn’t do any good, their seats would be filled in hours and the situations would be just as bad. Yet it would feel really good knowing that some of these fools were freezing their butts off, instead of lounging in mansions built by the slaves they call their citizens.

“What’s this?” He had only just then noticed that there was a message waiting for him from the American ambassador. It probably had something to do with the recent assassination attempt. He hoped it was just a thank you message, but he wouldn’t be surprised if someone felt the need to berate the ULH for the Presidents plane landing at LAX, as if they had anything to do with that.

He activated it and sat back to read the long letter. His eyebrows rose up and he was smiling pleasantly. This had nothing to do with the Presidents impromptu visit, it was seemingly good news.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________

“So, how’s the patient?” Frost walked into the large infirmary area where Bark had been since they returned to the spacestation.

A robotic nurse turned and replied dryly, ‘’ Patient Bark is stable.’’ It was always a little bit of a shock to see this nurse. It was stationary, planted in the floor right next to the emergency care beds. It had on a faux nurses uniform, painted over the metal robotics. The arms had several devices attached for monitoring patients, or applying medicines and other aid. The face was grey metal with a speaker for a mouth and two lights for eyes. Some designer thought it would help if he put a wig and nurses hat on the robot, but this only made it look creepier to most of the students.

“Oh, good afternoon Frost. Your friend is doing fine.’’ Tobias Glyph, the resident telepath and a member of the medical staff, while not saving the world, walked by. He had in his hands a small scanner that he was typing commands into.

She smiled and walked over to her newest friend. Bark was sitting up in a bed, his arm being held by one of the robot nurses while it gave him an injection. There was a place on his fur that was still dark from the blood that had dried there, but the hole and the bullet were both gone.

“Woof.’’ He said without thinking, and then frowned. He had meant to say ‘hi’, but goodness knows that was impossible.

She laughed and came over to his bedside. ‘’ You are my hero.’’

He grinned and would’ve blushed had he not been covered in fur, then shook his head in modesty.

“Don’t be so humble. You took a bullet for me. That is very impressive, especially for a student in his first month of training.’’ She put a hand on his head and was scratching behind his ear again.

Bark was now smiling as a kid would on Christmas morning. He tried to say something but again he just barked.

Tobias came up just then with his hands full of equipment. “I see that we are entertaining guests now, Ms. Frost.’’

Frost knew he was just joking around with her and smiled. ‘’Just comforting the hero of the day.”

Tobias rolled his eyes with a grin. “Well, Mr. Henderson, let’s see if we can give you your voice back. Here,’’ he held up a chain necklace with a box on the end that was obviously a speaker. After handing the speaker and necklace to Bark, he held a small disk shaped object against Barks temple. ‘’Alright, if this works like it is supposed to, just think what you want to say and the box will translate it into verbal words.’’

Bark closed his eyes and tried to say, ‘’ Hello’’. The box, unfortunately, only said, ‘’ Pudding.’’

Frost laughed, ‘’ Either he is hungry, or that thing didn’t quite work.’’

Tobias frowned and took the small device off of Barks head, ‘’ I tried to create a calculation that would filter out the random mental thoughts and only zero in on the verbal communications. Obviously it didn’t work.’’

Bark handed the African-American genius back the voice box and picked up his pad. He winced when his shoulder didn’t like turning just after having been repaired.

Tobias frowned, ‘’ Now Joshua, be careful. The skeletal-regenerator may be able to heal that, but your muscle tissue and nerves are still recovering.’’

Bark nodded and then held his pad closer to him to type. After a few minutes he showed it to Frost. She read it with a smile. ‘’ Well, I was right about one thing, he is hungry. Can he leave?’’

Tobias looked at the diagnostics on the robot nurses readouts. ‘’ I don’t see any reason to keep him here. I need more time to get this device working properly. ‘’ Tobias started to walk away when he turned back, ‘’ Just one more thing, Bark.’’

‘’Woof?’’ Bark said, rolled his eyes and typed on his pad, ‘’What?’’

Tobias smiled and set down his work, ‘’ How is the memory coming? Have you had any more breakthroughs recently?’’

Bark shrugged, but nodded.

Tobias put his hand on Barks head and they both closed their eyes. ‘’ Okay, relax and focus on anything that came back to you.’’

Bark took in a few breaths and then could see images flashing around him like a flood of lights. These were the memories buried under the mutations that tried to change everything about him. He could see Tulsa, Oklahoma, his High School, and Las Vegas. Then he saw a girls face with a smile, she was coming toward him and then kissing him.

With a shot, both opened their eyes. Bark looked around as if he had just woken up from a deep sleep. Tobias Glyph was a telepath and could help dig up the memories, then let them loose in his mind. Some would take time to return over a few days, while others came back like a shock. Joshua had just remembered the girl he was dating in Las Vegas.

‘’Bark, what is it?’’ Frost had seen this look on his face before. It was a good thing.

Bark picked up his pad and quickly typed something. After a quick, and error filled message, he showed it to Frost.

‘’ Oh, you remembered your girlfriend.’’ She sounded happy, but there was definitely a hint of disappointment. Yet, she would never want to make him feel bad about anything, especially his memories returning. So she gave him a great smile and nod,‘’ Oh, Bark, that is wonderful.’’

He was smiling while he looked back at his pad to turn the screen off. After the screen went dark Bark could see his reflection on the front. For the first time today his generally pleasant appearance melted and he looked positively depressed.

‘’Bark, is everything okay?’’ Frost did not need to be a telepath to know something was wrong with her friend.

Bark shook his head, turned on the pad, and typed a message. He showed it to her and then got up from the bed. The pad simply said that he was really hungry and would be going down to the mess hall.

‘’ Oh, okay. Well, I can come with you.’’

He typed, ‘ No, that’s okay.’ And hardly gave her any more explanation before walking out.

Tobias frowned and looked at Frost. ‘’What was wrong with him?’’

Frost shrugged. ‘’ You tell me, you’re the telepath.’’

Tobias walked away and said with a laugh in his voice. ‘’ I don’t always read everyone’s mind that is around me, it makes people uncomfortable. Besides, it would give me a headache.”

She smiled at him, ‘’ See to it that you don’t read my mind without my permission. I have thoughts I don’t think you want to read.’’

Tobias looked back at her, ‘’Such as the fact that you really like that boys tail.’’

She gasped and wanted to slap him. ‘’ Hey! I told you that you needed my permission.’’

Tobias walked away while saying, ‘’ I didn’t read your mind, I read your eyes.’’

Frost shook her head and walked out of the infirmary.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The students, faculty, and workers of the ULH spacestation enjoyed gathering in the mess for food and fellowship when they weren’t working or studying.

Everyone turned to the televisions that were all cutting to breaking news stories on every channel.

‘’ Breaking News from Ottawa, Canada. The Urban Rangers have just quelled an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister only moments ago. Reports are varied, but it is believed that the assassin was not human, but some kind of robotic device that appeared as a human. A state of emergency has been declared in Ottawa until any and all of these assassins have been found. This comes on the heels of a similar assassination attempt on the President of the United States only yesterday. Some analysts are beginning to wonder if this is part of a greater plot by the World Alliance group trying to take down the governments of the world and gain control of….’’ Someone turned the television down as they had all heard enough of the conspiracy theories about the superheroes trying to take over. This, of course, was insane. The ULH and Rangers were merely trying to protect people, not control them. But, people will be people.

Bark hardly listened to this, as his attention was diverted. He sat at a chair and looked out the broad widows with a view of the Earth. The mess hall was an enormously long deck that had several different kinds of food vendors along the back wall, with tables spread all around much like a mall food court. Along the outside wall was a huge glass window that gave a dizzying view of earth at all times. The General had the idea that being able to watch the Earth would give some of the homesick kids a chance to feel better while they relaxed and ate.

Bark was not as relaxed as he should be. Of course he was still sore from taking a bullet to the shoulder yesterday. But, that was not what bothered him. He was nursing a soda while sitting with a chair turned around so that the back was facing his chest. This gave his tail more room to lay behind him.

Right now, North America was below them, with clouds covering half of the view. He was staring at the south west just about where Nevada should be. He seemed to sigh and look at his reflection in the glass more than he looked at the planet below.

‘’ Bark, is everything okay?’’ Frost had found him, only giving him a little while to himself.

He looked down and then faked a smile and looked up to her. He tried to wag his tail, but he wasn’t good at it yet and his tail just twitched a little.

Frost took a chair and sat next to him. She had something with her that made a clanking sound when it was set on the table. ‘’ Okay, that was the worst smile you have faked yet. What is wrong?’’

He frowned and looked away. He didn’t go for his pad, which was his way of saying he didn’t want to talk.

Frost wasn’t oblivious to his desire to be left alone, but that didn’t stop her from prodding. ‘’Okay, let’s see. You must have remembered something that is making you sad. Something about your family?’’ she guessed.

He looked back and shook his head.

‘’ Okay, but am I warm?’’

Bark let out a sigh and then obliged with a nod.

‘’ Good, that’s it. Okay, if it isn’t family, but related, is it a friend? ‘’

Bark nodded again, still looking out at the planet with a morose expression.

Frost had a thought that seemed to make sense. ‘’ Hey, is it Bolt? Because he has been told to behave, and I know that he can be rude, but he really is a nice guy and…..’’ she could see that Bark wasn’t responding to this idea. ‘’ Oh, it isn’t Bolt, is it?’’

Bark shook his head and then grabbed his pad from the table next to him. He typed into it and then handed it to her.

Frost looked at it and frowned, ‘’ Jessica? Who is Jessica? Do you mean Morphina…no that is Jessie. Wait, is this your girlfriend?’’

Bark nodded, slowly and more sad than ever.

Frost frowned more, ‘’ Did you two have a bad break up, or something like that?’’

He shook his head and then took the pad and typed into it.

Frost looked at it and read it twice. ‘’ you missed you last Dabe?….OH Date! Oh, so you missed your last date and then this happened….’’ She could see him nodding with what she was saying. “But that shouldn’t be an issue. Go back and tell her what happened. Wait, she isn’t allergic to dogs or anything, ‘’ she was smiling at her own joke, then realized that was probably not the best idea right now. ‘’ I am so sorry.’’

Bark took the pad, typed into it again and then handed it to her. She read it while shaking her head in disagreement with the words. ‘’ Well, you aren’t the man you used to be, I am sure. But you are the same man in your heart and mind. I am sure she will be happy to simply know that you are alive. I know that if my boyfriend, if I had one, went missing, I would be happy to know that he was alive.’’

Bark let out a sigh and shook his head. He didn’t have to say anything, she got the message.

Frost put a cold hand on his shoulder, ‘’Bark, if she really loves you, a tail and ears won’t matter. In fact, she might find you even cuter. Don’t give up on her before she has a chance to see you again.’’

He shook his head and laid his chin on his arms that were folded over the back of the chair.

Frost smiled and started to rub his good shoulder with her cold hand. ‘’I think you‘re cute.’’

He looked at her with a real smile, a good change for his face right now. His eyes gave her a ‘really?’ glance.

Frost laughed, ‘’ Yeah, I think you are cute. And I would be fine if I found out that my boyfriend came back to me looking like you, so long as he was alive and still the same man in here.’’ She patted her chest.

Bark took his pad from the table again and typed into it.

She read it and nodded, ‘’ Of course, I will go back with you. Unless Mr. Tobias can get that voice box fixed, you will probably need a translator. Besides, I can help answer some questions about the ULH that you might not know just yet.’’

‘’ Woof.’’ He said, on purpose. She knew this meant ‘thanks’

‘’ Oh, there you are Bark.’’ Bolt came up to the two. His attempt at looking professional was really bad, especially while watching Frost rubbing Barks shoulder.

Bolt dragged a chair over from another table, turned it around and sat with the back facing his chest. ‘’Uh, so, are you okay now?’’

Bark looked at Bolt, not sure what this man might say next. But, he nodded and rolled his wounded shoulder to show that it was in working shape.

Bolt smiled, ‘’Good, well, that’s good to know.’’ He noticed that Bark was sort of wagging his tail, which was a sorry sight, and that Frost was rubbing his shoulder still. ‘’ Uh, what are you two up to?’’

Bark frowned at the insinuation, but Frost took the opportunity. She coyly took the object she had arrive with and handed it to Bark. It was a red collar with a dog tag on it in the shape of a bone, with his name engraved on it. ‘’ You left this in my quarters this morning.’’

Bark was confused, H had never seen this item before, but Bolt was positivity steaming. ‘’I see that you two are more than friends. Good to know. Well, we ought to find out if this station has room for puppies.’’ His childishness was showing.

Bark shook his head and set the collar back down on the table. It didn’t take a genius to see that Frost was just having fun with Bolt. Though, Bark wished that he didn’t have to be in the middle of this juvenile competition.

Frost reached down and started running her hand down Barks tail. ‘’I could never resist a man with a good sized tail.’’

Barks ears and eyes perked up in surprise at her cold hand on his tail. Bolt got angry.

‘’Okay, that is enough. I saw the way Solstice was looking at you at the last training session, and then Rain was petting your ears two nights ago. What is this, some kind of doggy harem?’’

“BOLT!” The commanding, and very angry, voice of the General nearly caused Bolt to fall off of his chair.

Bolt got up with a shot and saluted. ‘’Uh, sir, I was just, uh, then you came, and he, and she, there was this collar…’’

The General shook his head, ‘’ Cool it soldier. I don’t know what you are talking about, and somehow I don’t want to know. I need to speak with Mr. Henderson.’’

Bark and Frost got up and stood at attention for the General.

‘’ What is it sir?” Frost asked for Bark.

The General took Bolts chair and sat down, ‘’ At ease, sit down, I need to talk to you about something I got today.’’

Bark and Frost sat down and both looked at the General with concern.

The General opened a folder. Inside it had the Ambassadors letter printed off so Bark could read it. It also had a stack of other papers that went along with the message. ‘’ It seems that Dr. Osten, the man who did this to you, was financed by another government. It appears that they did not know that his work was deemed illegal and condemned by the United States Military, and they had a vested interest in the genetic research they assumed was happening.’’ He handed the papers to Bark.

Bark looked it over, not entirely sure what they meant. It was not his area of expertise.

Frost looked over his shoulder and read some of the papers. “What on earth would New Zealand want with this kind of research?’’

The General shook his head, “Apparently they were paying the doctor for his base genetic research, and they had no idea what he was doing with it. It seems that they want to do some medical research with the information.’’

Bark picked up his pad and typed on it, then showed it to Frost.

She read it for the General, ‘’ Uh, what do they want?’’

‘’ They got some of his research already and feel that they have a method that might undo some of this. They might even be able to reverse it entirely and return you to normal status.’’

Bark smiled and his tail sort of wagged. Frost smiled but she wasn’t quite as happy as he was.

‘’ Is that it? Will he just go on as a normal citizen?’’ Frost asked, sort of sorry to say it.

The General nodded, ‘’ The American Ambassador said that they want Joshua here to be turned over to the scientist in charge of their research teams, and that after they finish, he will be returned home. But, there is one little catch Bark. They have stipulated that until they have what they want, you will be the property of their scientists. It could be years of work, I cannot promise any miracles here.’’

Bark’s enthusiasm faded and he looked back at the papers then at Frost. Letting out a sigh he then started typing on his pad; he had a long message in mind.

The General took the pad from Bark and read it. ‘’ I guess it will be alright if you go back to Las Vegas first and see your girlfriend. I don’t know about sending Frost along with you. With all the assassination attempts happening, our resources are spread pretty thin.’’

Frost replied, ‘’ It won’t take long, sir. I will go with him and be back within a day or two. I am sure he will have made his decision about going to New Zealand by then, and I can go on whatever mission you have for me.’’

The General was not normally known as a soft leader, but he knew that this man needed the help of a friend for something like this, and Frost was just a student after all. Surely, a day wouldn’t make much of a difference. ‘’ Okay, I will give you both a two day pass to go down to the surface immediately. But, be back as soon as it’s over. If this situation expands, I will need everyone I can get, is that understood?’’

Frost and Bark both nodded. Frost said, ‘’ Understood.’’

The General stood up and looked at Bolt, ‘’ You get your wish. Join the staff in the meeting room for assignment in ten minutes, I need to send you out on a field mission again.’’

Bolt nodded, ‘’ At once sir.’’ With a flash he was off speeding to the meeting room.

The General left without any ceremony and only Bark and Frost remained in their chairs.

Frost smiled, ‘’ Well this might be nice. I haven’t seen Las Vegas while not on duty for a while. What is it?’’ she noticed he was typing something for her. Reading it, she laughed and nodded, ‘’yeah, that collar thing was meant to drive Bolt nuts. I have always wanted to let some steam out of that flirt, and you have given me the best opportunity.’’

Bark typed something else and then handed it to her, this time he was frowning at her.

‘’ Okay, okay, I’ll stop using you to mess with him. Come on, let’s get moving. The General isn’t known for his generosity, so we don’t want to give him a chance to change his mind.’’

Together, they left the mess for the nearest surface transport dock.
 
Flag Post
The Eiffel Tower was lovely this time of year. The Christmas season was in full blast and everything around Paris was extraordinarily beautiful.

Right now a large crowd was gathering around the base of the tower for an important event. Hundreds of photographers were surrounded by thousands of citizens eager to get a glimpse of the visiting royalty. Prince William and his lovely bride were greeting friends among the French as a stop on a Christmastime tour of Europe.

‘’ My eyes are beginning to burn, Will.’’ Kate blinked while continuing to smile and wave for the crowds.

Prince William shrugged and leaned over to sign an autograph for a little girl, ‘’ Don’t worry, this should be over in about an hour.’’

Kate laughed, ‘’In an hour I am going to be blind. Should do well for that interview later.’’

William smiled at the little French girl and stood next to his wife to continue waving to the crowds. ‘’ Don’t fret, I am sure we can….what is that?’’

Just then one of the photographers pushed his way passed the police barrier and was coming right at the Royal couple. A police officer tried to stop the man but was thrown a good distance by the unnatural strength of the photographer. Another officer approached but was blindsided by the large camera hurled at him. The man, his glowing red eyes fixed on the Prince, held up his hand with a hole opening in the palm.

William gallantly covered his bride, but it was unnecessary as a gunshot was heard from above, and the droids left arm was removed. Another blast and its body was pierced.

Ashwood jumped down from where he had strategically placed himself on the Eiffel tower. With one last blast from his rifle, he split the hand with the weapon in two, just to be certain that it would not have even a small chance of harming the Prince.
‘’ Prince, I suggest we cut this short.’’

Prince William looked stunned, ‘’Drake Ashwood, what are you doing here?’’

Ashwood continued to scan the crowds for any other suspicious characters. ‘’I was visiting a friend here in Paris when I heard you were coming. I decided to scope out the event, lucky for you.’’

Kate agreed, her eyes glued on the thing that tried to kill them. ‘’I should say.’’

Ashwood was becoming uncomfortable with all the people around, ‘’Okay, enough talk, get in your ride and let’s get the hell out of here. ‘’

The Prince and his bride got to their secure limousine and were whisked away.



‘’ By order of the United Nations, and the World Alliance, all Dignitaries and their families have been removed from the public sector and taken to secure locations. The rash of assassination attempts has not taken a single life yet, but the possibility is growing with each attack. Now, on to business news with…..’’

Frost turned the monitor off on the shuttle that she and Bark where sitting in. Only five people were traveling the pod. Bark and Frost, along with two pilots and another student going home on leave.

‘’ Aren’t you hot?’’ Frost asked, looking at the way Bark was panting.

Bark, who had covered himself in a black cloak to keep people from being too surprised when people saw him, nodded.

Frost laughed, ‘’ It’s any wonder, this thing is as heavy as denim. And that hood is almost comical, the way it sits on your ears.’’

Bark typed and handed the pad to her.

‘’Sure, if you flatten your ears, you can’t hear that well, but you look silly. Come on, take the hood off.’’ She motioned to lower it for him.

Bark sat back and made her miss his head, it was his way of saying ‘no’.

‘’ You look more conspicuous with it on. ‘’ She pulled on it, but the way he was holding his head against the wall, it wouldn’t come down. “Fine, look like Christmas yet-to-come. ‘’

Bark picked up the papers that he had been given by the General. These were the documents sent to the station in regards to him.

Frost looked at the papers as well, she frowned and shook her head, ‘’ You aren’t going to take this offer….are you?’’

Bark handed her the papers and then typed into his pad:

‘’ I don’t know. This might be the only chance I’ll have at being human again.’’

Frost read the papers, at least the parts about what he would have to agree too. ‘’ I don’t like it. They want you to turn yourself over like you are some kind of experiment. You are a person, not a beaker.’’

‘’ They might be able to change me back from being a dog.’’

Frost laughed, ‘’ You are not a dog. Bolt is a dog, you are just a furry person….with a tail.’’

He lifted up one leg to show her the extra furry shin and foot. ‘’ I look like I am wearing boots, and I Bark, and I can hear those damned whistles, certainly feels like a dog.’’

Frost nodded, ‘’ You are different. But so am I. I can make ice anywhere I want to, and I have a very cold touch. But, that doesn’t mean I am not human, I am just special. You are special, and I think that giving up what is special about yourself would be a mistake.’’

Bark shook his head, and typed. ‘’ I don’t know. It might be my only chance and I might kick myself for missing this opportunity. But, on the other hand, I don’t want to sit around in a laboratory for years while they do God knows what to me daily. ‘’

Frost put one of those cold hands on his hand and looked into his face, which took a little bending considering he was covered by that cloak. ‘’ Listen to me. You can be a great man. You have already proven your hero qualities. The people of the ULH will be at your side, and you will not be an outcast. When the people of Earth see your bravery and heart, they will see a great man, not a furry dog. ‘’

Bark shrugged, but he smiled with a little embarrassment at the compliments. ‘’ I will have to think about it. ‘’

Frost nodded, ‘’ Please think about it. I am sure that this team of scientist can wait a little while longer for your answer.’’

“ Las Vegas Stop in two minutes.” The pilot announced.

Bark took a breath and let it out, his chest trembled a little with the exhale. He gulped and pulled the cape in around him further.

Frost could easily see he was becoming more nervous. She put her hand on his leg and rubbed the fur, “Calm down, relax, and just think of how good it will feel when you find that your girlfriend is happy to see that you are alive.’’

Bark quickly typed on his pad and handed it to her. She looked at it and shook her head, ‘’ No, we aren’t going back. This Jessica deserves to know that you are alive.’’ He grabbed the pad and typed again, then showed it to her. Again she shook her head, ‘’ No, it doesn’t matter that you don’t look much like yourself. Believe me, you are fine, she will be alright.’’

Just then, the small shuttle pod landed in an empty parking lot. Fortunately with the technology of the ULH, these shuttles could cloak so not to surprise anyone, and they could land and take off vertically.

Frost stood up and waited, but Bark didn’t stand. The pilot turned in his seat, ‘’ Aren’t you two the Las Vegas stop?’’

Frost frowned and leaned over to look at Barks face under the hooded black cloak, ‘’ Listen, if you don’t go through with this, I am going to take you into the training room, and I am going to do my best to freeze your balls off.’’

His eyes widened and he gulped again. He wasn’t sure if she was bluffing, and that was a scary notion. So, with a shaking tail, he stood up and slowly followed Frost to the door. She opened it and then stood aside so that Bark went first, just in case she needed to push.

The pilot announced to them, “The shuttle will be here in 48 hours. If you need me before that time, just signal.’’

Bark and Frost left the pod and looked back to see what appeared to be a door in the middle of the air. It closed leaving nothing there but the sights of the strip nearby.

Frost looked at her friend under the black cloak, “ Okay, where to?’’

Bark looked around and got his bearings. His memory was still fuzzy in places and he was always looking at things with new eyes. He pointed and then said, ‘’Boof.’’ With a snarl he typed into his pad and handed it to her.

“Oh, so her family owns the Moonbeam casino. Wow, rich family.’’

He nodded and took the pad back.

Frost could see that he was fighting on the inside, his mind was telling his legs to go, but his legs were too scared to listen. ‘’ Come on, before a dog catcher comes by.’’ She made the joke knowing it would make him glare. Frost grabbed his hand and pulled him along.


The Moonbeam Casino was one of the oldest and most visited Casinos of the entire Las Vegas Strip. Built in 1963, the Moonbeam was a huge dome that was designed to look like the moon setting on the horizon. It had been home to high caliber stars, several movies, and of course high rollers. It is rumored to be run by a mafia family, but Joshua Henderson knows this family and knows that this isn’t the case, not anymore.

‘’Can I take ya orda?’’ A scantily dressed woman asked a man in a cowboy hat. She had a very definite accent of the Bronx.

The man laughed with a hearty Texas bellow. ‘’ I’ll have the most expensive drink in the house, and make sure these lovely ladies have whatever they want. I’m win’n.’’ The man threw down another winning hand of blackjack and busted yet another bank. All the while he had two very busty babes hanging off of each arm, both highly interested in what this sugar daddy was winning.

The waitress rolled her eyes and walked around the table taking all the drink orders. Roxy knew that this casino probably made more money on the bar than anything else. Every time anyone wins anything, the first thing they do is order expensive booze. But, she didn’t complain often, they were better tippers when they are tipsy.

The waitress navigated through the crowds, heading right for the bar. If she paused for even a moment, someone else would be throwing an order her direction and she simply couldn’t carry that many glasses without breaking one. Heavens knows that if she broke just one more glass, she won’t have one red cent on her check again. God only knows why a clumsy girl takes a job as a waitress.

“ Hey Mak, set ‘em up, we have another winner on the blackjack who is throw’n dough at me.’’ Roxy took a moment to sit while the bar tender filled the orders.

While the waitress waited for the glasses to return, she noticed a couple that did not seem the ordinary tourist for this casino. In fact, she recognized one of them. Leaving the bar for a moment, she ran over to meet the celebrities.

‘’ Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, yer that Frost chick ain’t ya?’’ She immediately recognized the woman in the blue and white tights.

Frost and Bark were standing together, each looking around for any sign of a family member of Jessica. Frost was recognizable. She had been a part of several missions that were all over the news. Of course if she were Bolt or the General, there would already be a crowd.

Frost smiled and nodded, ‘’ Yes. I am Frost. Would you like an autograph or anything?’’

Roxy shook her head, ‘’ Nah, I ain’t the autograph type. What are ya do’n around these parts? Another big wig villain?’’

Frost shook her head, ‘’No, nothing to worry about really. My friend here is looking for someone.’’

Roxy smiled and leaned over to see the mostly cloaked Bark. ‘’An who is this fella? Another superhero?’’

Bark nodded under the cloak and then typed on his pad. He handed it out to Frost.

She read it and nodded, ‘’ Yes, this is Bark, he is a new recruit. He is looking for Jessica Hardy.’’

The waitress was surprised to hear that, ‘’ You know the Hardy’s?’’

Frost nodded, ‘’ Well, let’s just say that my friend here is a friend of Jessica’s. Can you point us to her?’’

‘’ Ya, come with me.’’ She walked them around the bar and into a restaurant in the back where the high rollers ate. It was an expensive area with a large stage for the resident celebrity, who was not performing at this time.

Inside were just a few people, most of them enjoying an intimate lunch of steak or lobster. Bark and Frost were led to the edge of an upper balcony where the wealthiest resided for dinner and the show. ‘’ She’s ova there. ‘’

Frost was about to thank the helpful waitress when she noticed that the girl they were being shown too was currently entertaining a handsome man. “ Uh, who is that with her?’’ Bark looked up when she said this and pulled his hood back.

Roxy, having not noticed Bark just yet, answered. ‘’ Oh, that’s Mr. Sorrel. He’s an old boyfriend who came back into town. Good time’n too if ya ask me.”

Frost asked, ‘’ Why do you say that?’’

Roxy turned and her eyes nearly fell out of her head at the sight of Bark. But she held it together enough to answer. ‘’ Oh, uh, yeah. Well, Ms. Hardy’s boyfriend up and died a month or so ago. The Police were all a fuss about his go’n missing and some lab explosion, and I don’t know what . Jessica mourned and was so blue you could’a lost her in the ocean. But, when her old flame dropped back in town, she perked right up. If ya ask me, I think she’s expect’n a ring soon. They dated a long time ago ya know. Not that she’ll invite me to the wedding or anything.’’

Bark took a few steps closer and looked at his old girlfriend with the saddest puppy dog eyes anyone has seen on a man or dog. Something in them flickered, the light off of his tears, or the beating of his broken heart. But, it did not take a telepath to see that he knew what he had was gone.

Roxy smiled at Bark, ‘’And what…I mean, who are you?’’

Bark looked back at her and simply walked out.

Frost smiled at Roxy, ‘’His name is Bark, and he doesn’t talk much. Please, if you will excuse me.’’ She left to follow her friend.

Roxy shook her head, ‘’The things that come and go in this place, sheesh. Oh my! My drink order.’’ She ran back to the bar to get her stuff.


Bark walked all the through the Casino with his eyes fixed on the doors. He didn’t notice or didn’t care that everyone was staring and whispering to each other. He knew that it would be hard to come back after all this time, but he wasn’t expecting this. Why didn’t she wait for him? Why did she give up on him so quickly? What would he do now?’’

‘’ Bark! Please, wait.’’ Frost ran after him.

Bark got all the way to the front of the Casino and stopped long enough to let Frost catch up with him.

‘’ Bark. Please, just go and talk to her.’’

‘’Woof!’’ he barked at her, and then started walking down the strip.

Frost followed as fast as she could, ‘’ I know this must hurt. But, you need closure or something like that. Don’t leave broken hearted.’’

Bark turned, he quickly typed something into his pad and then handed it to her.

‘’ Thank you for trying. But now I know that I really don’t have any other options. I am going to New Zealand.’’

Frost shook her head, ‘’ No, please don’t say that.’’

He simply shook his head and started walking toward the landing zone.

Frost let out a sad sigh and followed, ‘’ I guess I can’t say anything to stop you now, can I?’’

Bark shook his head again. She came up to his side and gave him back his pad, then took his hand. Walking with him through town. She signaled for the shuttle pod as otherwise they would be waiting a while for it. Soon enough, it would drop Bark off in New Zealand, and Frost would go back to the station.



The shuttle lowered onto the helicopter pad near the airfield of Christchurch, New Zealand. Bark used a special code that was printed in the documents. The scientist team would send for him at the airport and take him to where they wanted to start the tests.

The pod landed and the door opened. Frost and Bark were the only passengers. Frost insisted on stepping out with him to say goodbye.

‘’ Well, it has been fun knowing you, Bark.’’

He smiled at her and typed onto his pad.

‘’Tell everyone thanks for doing what they have done for me. I guess you can tell Tobias not to worry about that translator thing he is developing. ‘’

Frost read it and nodded, ‘’ I doubt he will stop. Tobias loves to tinker around with that sort of thing. But, I guess you won’t be needing it much longer. ‘’

Bark smiled and typed, “ Don’t look so sad. ‘’

Frost wiped a tear out of her eye, ‘’Hey, any girl is sad to lose her puppy.’’

He laughed and rolled his eyes. Before he could type anything in response, she grabbed him in a fully bodied hug. He put his arms around her and hugged back. They had never embraced like this before, but somehow this felt right. Bark loosened his grip on her and leaned back. Looking into her quivering eyes, his wish to speak again had never been stronger than it was at that moment. But fate is a funny, fickle thing, taking what it wants and leaving what you don’t expect.

The moment was broken by the sound of a car horn. Both looked over to see a stretch limo waiting on him.

Frost let go of the dog and smiled, ‘’Well, Merry Christmas, and…well…I will find out if they have a visiting time or something like that. This isn’t goodbye, not forever.’’

Bark smiled and shook his head. Without any more typed words or farewells, he walked over to the waiting car. Frost watched him get in and then she returned to the shuttle and told the pilot to take her home.


Bark looked through the highly tinted windows to see if he could tell where the shuttle was. But, with its cloaking device, he was unable to see anything. So, he simply imagined it going back up to that orbiting dot in the sky.

‘’Mr. Joshua is it?’’ A man in a dark suit surprised the dog.

Bark looked up. He reached to get his pad and type on it, but someone grabbed him by the head.

The darkly dressed man leaned forward and pressed a hypo-spray into his neck. Bark struggled hard with the man beside him.

‘’ Don’t let him hurt himself, we need the specimen in one piece.’’ The dark dressed man yelled at the assistant.

Bark threw his shoulders and head back hard enough to thunk the assistants head against the window of the car. He then punched the dark man in the face. Without anyone restraining him, he tried to grab the door handle, but his strength was failing him quickly. In a matter of moments the world went hazy and he could no longer hold his eyes open. Sleep overcame him and his struggle ended.

The darkly dressed man pulled out a black handkerchief and dabbed his bloody nose. ‘’ I see that he is everything that Dr. Osten promised, and more. He should prove to be quite useful to our plans. ‘’
 
This post has been removed by an administrator or moderator
 
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(I apologize for the formatting, this is difficult. If you are having a hard time reading this, you can find it also on my blog. http://thunderchicken-outofmyhead.blogspot.com/2012/07/bark-and-assassin-crisis-part-4.html.)

The General frowned as he inspected a huge map of the world. The strategy room for the ULH command center was a theater shaped room with computers and communication stations all around for commanding the hero’s while on their missions. The map was digital and could display just about anything they needed to keep up the work. The room was operated by a few people and drones that relayed commands and calls so that everything moved smoothly.

Right now the map was covered in dots. Every nation on the planet seemed to have at least one dot on it, some had several. These were the locations of the assassination attempts by the droids. Something about this did not make sense, and that bothered the hell out of the General.

‘’Frost reporting for duty.’’ Frost walked into the command center without any pep in her step.

The General looked back at her with a bewildered expression. ‘’ I thought I gave you and Mr. Henderson a two day pass?’’

Frost walked in and nodded, ‘’Yes, you did.’’

The General looked at his watch, ‘’ It has only been six hours. What happened? And where is Bark?’’

Frost sniffed and looked at her commander, ‘’ Bark found out that his girlfriend moved on, and he decided to move on.’’

‘’What?’’

She nodded slowly, ‘’ He went to New Zealand. I watched him get into a limo and leave. I sure hope that facility he is in has visiting hours.’’

The General let out a sigh, ‘’ Well, I am sorry to lose such a promising recruit, but we have other problems right now.’’

Frost looked up to the map, ‘’What is going on?’’

The General pointed toward the display, ‘’ These assassin droids have been hitting everywhere. In the past six hours there have been seventy attempts on world leaders. Fortunately, our people and the Urban Rangers have been keeping everyone safe.’’

Frost walked up to the map. She frowned and cocked her head, ‘’ So, none of them have been successful? That doesn’t make sense. Someone should have died by now.’’

The General nodded, ‘’I agree. Our people and the Rangers are well trained, but to have so many attempts and not a soul lost is statistically wrong. There is a missing piece to this puzzle and I want to know what it is.’’

Frost turned and looked at him like a good soldier. ‘’Where do you need to send me?’’

‘’Right here.’’ He didn’t gesture to any part of the map.

‘’Where?’’

The General walked over to a communications station and picked up a computer tablet. ‘’ I have sent almost all of the students, field agents, and teachers out on protection missions. You are the highest trained and most experienced one left on the station, besides myself. If we have anything come up, I would rather have an assistant than going it alone.’’

‘’ Understood, sir. What do you need me to do right now?’’

The General looked at his computer tablet and realized he had a call waiting on him for the last hour. ‘’ Okay, keep an eye on the map and the communications. I am going to speak with Keen about what he knows. ‘’

‘’Yes , sir’’ Frost stood at attention.

The General walked out toward his office, he would not take calls from anyone of importance in front of students. Frost turned and looked at all the drones working the computers and communications. She felt really weird being in charge, as she was only a student. But, this wasn’t like she was handing out orders, she was more like a secretary, making sure that the boss has the extra help to get things done. Thinking of it this way helped her be less nervous.

Her nervousness was only a shadow of the sorrow in her heart. It took a lot of will power to push the memory and feelings about Bark out of her mind. This was a special skill that all heroes must have, for the loss of fellow warriors can and will happen. But, right now, she did not have that will power.

‘’Damnit Frost, what is wrong with you?’’ she muttered to herself. She tried not to, but her eyes kept returning to New Zealand on the map. It pleased her that none of the dots were there, but that was only a slight comfort.

How come this was so hard? She had seen the loss of people she trained with, and trained under. It was sad, and it hurt, but she could let it go for the job. Bark wasn’t even dead, and yet her heart was in mourning. What kind of Hero was she? This was not becoming of a superhero.

But, for now, the room remained calm and the red dots remained still. The assassinations were calming down and the investigations were heating up. All she had to worry about was making sure the boss got his memos.



Bark slowly opened his eyes. The blurriness was bad, but it would clear up soon enough. He felt like someone had dropped a boulder on him and it was still sitting there. When he tried to move his arms or legs, he was stopped by metallic restraints. He pulled and pulled and even with his superior strength he was no match for whatever was holding him.

‘’ I am so glad you are awake. I would hate for you to miss all this fun.’’ A Korean man with an evil gaze fixed on his face walked up to Bark.

‘’BARK BARK BARK!’’ He yelled, then snarled at the fact that that was all he could say.

‘’ Oh, having trouble speaking. Well, that isn’t a problem. I don’t believe that Dr. Osten used you for your intelligence.’’ The man snickered.

‘’ BARK!’’ he blurted out again, followed by a low growling.

The man was amused by this, and not the least bit frightened. ‘’ Oh, I guess this is why your dear friends have been calling you Bark. Such a clever name, I suppose. ‘’ His sarcasm was underwhelming.

Bark’s eyes were getting clearer and he could see that he was inside a large room underground. Somehow he felt like he had just stepped into a B horror movie. Where was Frankenstein? There were all sorts of chemicals, computers, vats of glowing liquid, and people restrained against walls. The smells in here were horrid, especially to the Dog nose. But, that was not what bothered him most. He could see now that the doctor had some kind of tube running from him, to what end he was not sure.

‘’ Let me introduce myself. I am Dr. Khang, the most brilliant geneticist in the word, now that Dr. Osten is dead. I was sent to study in America so that the Great Leader could find a way to finally take down the bastard nation. I met Dr. Osten while he was still a professor at the University. He was almost as brilliant as myself, and his ideas were worth merit. I brought them back to my homeland and the Leader was pleased.’’ Dr. Khang turned on a light and the painting of Kim Jong Il was displayed like a holy relic.

‘’Bark!’’ Josh yelled out, furious at the inability to speak.

‘’What was that? You want to know what I am a planning. Let me show you.’’ The insane Korean pressed a button and the tube attached to Barks side drained out some blood. It caused him great pain, and worry about what this could possibly be for.

Dr. Khang smiled and typed into his main computer. ‘’ You see, I have been filtering money to Dr. Osten for the past few years. He was so close to a breakthrough that I was assured to get results soon. But then you came along. I simply don’t know how but you found a way to be altered and then destroy his work and him. Pity, really, he was a great doctor and I am sure that the Great Leader would’ve repaid him handsomely. But, that is all past. His work survives, in you. ‘’ He pressed another button and the blood drain stopped. A small bottle was filled and the doctor removed it to place in a another device.

‘’ Once I find the mutation sequences, and apply some of my own brilliance, I can complete the Doctors work. I will finally be able to breed super soldiers. Creations that would be as obedient as a Dog, as strong as ten men, senses fifty times that of a human, and the willingness to die for their commander.‘’

Bark suddenly realized the people strapped into those tanks were not just other victims like him, they were going to be the first soldiers in this army. He started to fight the restraints again, hoping to break something free. He had to stop this man.

The Doctor set his devices to working and then walked over to the struggling Bark. ‘’ Oh, don’t fight it, that is pure adamantium, you cannot break it. You aren’t strong enough.’’ The doctor brushed his hand down the furry mans’ chest, ‘‘You are incomplete. You contain all of the work of Dr. Osten, but something went wrong. You retain too much of your human side. Oh, the work on the superabilities was complete, but your mind was not reset.’’ The Korean man then brushed his hand on Barks head, ‘’ A problem I will remedy in my new soldiers.’’ Bark jerked to the side, intending on biting the doctors wrist.


Dr. Khang pulled away fast enough so not to be bitten and then laughed with an evil victorious cackle.



Frost would not leave the command center, she kept staring at the screen for hours. Something about the pattern of attacks didn’t make sense. Yet, there was more to it than anyone believed.

‘’ Frost, what are you still doing here? I told you to get some rest an hour ago.’’ The General came back in to run some more data through the computers.

Frost shook her head, ‘’ There is something here, I know it.’’

The General nodded, ‘’ I agree. This is one of the weirdest events I have seen in a long time. But, they have stopped. There hasn’t been one in the last three hours. Maybe it was a terrorist plot that went wrong. That would be my guess.’’

Frost walked up to the screen. ‘’ I need more time. I can figure this out.’’

The General cleared his throat. ‘’When I give an order, I expect it to be followed. Now, go and get some rest.’’

Frost let out a defeated sigh and turned around. ‘’ On one condition.’’

The General was not used to his students giving him ‘conditions’ . “And what might that be?’’

She picked up a computer tablet and downloaded the data into it. “ You let me look this over tonight and see if I can find anything.”

‘’Fine, if you find anything report to me. But, I expect you to relax.’’

She smiled and nodded, ‘’ I will. I guess I am just a little on edge. If you need me I will be in the mess hall.’’

The General watched her leave, ‘’ Frost,’’ he said just as she was about to exit the room. ‘’ I know that you miss Bark. Working yourself to death won’t make you feel any better. Trust me.’’

Frost feigned a laugh, ‘’Oh, I am okay. Bark is in good hands.”


Frost got herself a bowl of green tea ice cream and sat near the window. The mess was quiet right now with most of the students and teachers on missions. After the assassinations calmed down, the students were recalled, but most of the teachers were told to stay behind to help out with the investigations. Soon, shuttles would be arriving and the place would return to its normal noisiness.

Frost ran the program again and again. She would start at the hour of the first attack, that one on the President. It would be a single red dot, then another, then two more, then a dozen, it nearly lit up the pad, but there was no obvious pattern. The last one on the map happened in Australia, and it was about the only major country to have only one red dot in it. Even Ireland had three, for such a small country.

‘’ Damnit, what is this all about?’’ She asked to no one in particular and ran the program again.

‘’ What’s up Frost?’’ Bolt walked up to the table, probably the slowest he had moved all day.

Frost looked at him with surprise written all over her. ‘’ I thought you were down on the planet. Didn’t the General assign you to Japan?’’

Bolt nodded, ‘’ Yeah, I was there. But, I was recalled with the students. They do need a few teachers here for lessons tomorrow morning. Besides, the Tokyo Ranger can take care of most of the details of this little investigation.’’

‘’It isn’t so little. Take a look at this.’’ She showed him her tablet.

Bolt looked at all the dots and shook his head, ‘’ It just doesn’t make sense. Who were they working for? What were they after? And why did they all fail?’’

Frost shrugged and turned the screen off. ‘’ I don’t know. the General might be right I might be over analyzing it. It was probably just a badly thought out plot by some terrorist group.”

“So why are you so determined to find an answer? You know that the General has his own idea, and there are teams of investigators down on the planet looking into it.’’ Bolt sat down close to her and leaned on the table.

Frost smiled and laughed at herself. ‘’ I guess I am just covering for feeling a little lonely today.’’

Bolt scooted a little closer and gave her one of his famous flirty smiles. ‘’What makes you so lonely?’’

Frost looked down into the hardly touched green ice cream. ‘’ Bark left. He went to New Zealand to be part of the research project.’’

Bolt tried not to look excited. He even tried to fake a concerned expression. ‘’ Oh, so the dog isn’t with us anymore? I don’t have to compete with that furbag for your attention?’’

Frost considered cooling off this hot shot, but thought it might not do well to freeze a teacher. “Don’t make fun of him. He was dealt a pretty bad blow. His girlfriend gave up on him already and is with another man, and well, he wants to be human again. I tried to tell him that he is just fine as he is. But, that wouldn’t stop him. Nothing would.’’ She let out a sad sigh and sort of stirred the ice cream mush.

Bolt also let out a sad sigh, not for Bark, but for his chances with this girl. “He really means a lot to you, doesn’t he?’’

Frost nodded, “ I guess it’s true. You never really know how much you care for someone until they are gone. This is silly, but I would do just about anything to scratch behind that ear of his, or read that pad he had to type into one more time. He was not just cute, he was kind and helpful. He could make me laugh, and he was even nice about your attitude. Nicer than I would’ve been in his position. “

Bolt took a deep breath and let it out. ‘’Okay, so why did you let him leave?’’

“ I didn’t let him leave. He left of his own accord. What was I supposed to do? Freeze his butt to a chair?’’

Bolt nodded, ‘’That might’ve got the message through to him.’’

‘’What message?’’ Frost was not taking the hint.

Bolt rolled his eyes. “ You will figure it out soon enough. Give me that tablet.’’

She handed it over to him and watched while he imputed a code and accessed a communications link to the planet. He had to go through several security layers that teachers have access to and finally made it to the office of the person he wanted to contact.

In moments an older woman in thick glasses came onto the screen. In a heavy kiwi accent, she stated. ‘’ This is the Ambassadors office, may I help you?’’

Bolt smiled and responded, ‘’ Yes. Earlier your office sent some papers to the General of the ULH. They directed a student here to a research program your government has set up. We would like to make contact with that program please. The students name was Joshua….’’

The woman was shaking her head. ‘’There was no contact with the ULH today. Our office has been too busy with all the assassination issues. And there is no research program that we know of that uses students of the ULH. If you want to get in touch with a researcher for a project, you will have to call…’’

Frost broke in, “ Wait a minute! No program!? What about Bark?’’

‘’ Young lady, I have no idea what you are talking about. Please, if you have any further questions, direct them to this number.’’ She sent them a number on the screen. ‘’ Is there anything else?’’

Bolt nodded his head. ‘’ Yes, we have a student that was supposed to be there in New Zealand. Alert your security forces to a possible kidnapping, and stop all air traffic at once. This is a top priority situation.’’

The woman was shocked. ‘’ Oh dear, I will get in touch with the minister of security. ‘’

Bolt stood up, ‘’Tell your security minister that the General will be in contact with him soon.’’

‘’ What name can I put out for search and rescue?’’ The woman was typing fast into her computer.

Frost spoke up, ‘’ His name is Bark, uh I mean, his real name is Joshua Henderson, but he looks like a dog and can only bark, so we call him Bark.’’

The woman typed all that in, ‘’We will get on this immediately. I will inform security and await the Generals contact.’’
Bolt nodded, ‘’ ULH station out.’’

Frost stood up with Bolt. ‘’ What do you think happened?’'

Bolt shook his head, ‘’ I don’t know. But I do know that there is a strange coincidence of the assassination outbreak and then a student vanishing like this at the same time. Come on, let’s see the General.’’

They left the mess hall in a hurry for the command center.


Dr. Khang and another Korean man in a dark suit, the same man who captured Bark, stood on a suspended walkway. They looked over a vast amount of beds with the bodies of people who would be transformed into the creature/soldiers of this new army.

‘’ So, how is the patient?’’ The dark suited man asked.

Khang laughed, ‘’Belligerent, but useful. I have taken enough samples from him to create the serum. Soon, every one of these people will be the strong minions of the new army. The Great Leader will have what he deserves, the ability to destroy anyone who stands in our way.’’

The dark suited man smiled, ‘’ Good, very good.’’

Khang gave the man a quizzical gaze. ‘’ I have heard rumors that the Leader has died. Is this true?’’

‘’Never you mind that. Rumors are just a distraction. We will march as early as next week, and the world will be helpless to stop us. Even those silly superheroes will be hard pressed to fight an army of our own loyal superhumans.’’ The dark suited man laughed with glee at his presumed victory.

Khang looked down to the men and women, most of them Korean. ‘’ Where did you find so many….volunteers?’’

The dark suited man smiled with a wicked expression. ‘’ Oh, they have another word for volunteers these days in North Korea….dissidents. How justice will be served that those who would oppose the state will soon be turned into the most loyal of soldiers to that state. ‘’

Khang smiled as well, ‘’ Yes. I will be pleased to know that my research, and my rewards, will be great. I will be rewarded handsomely for all this, right?’’

The dark suited man nodded, ‘’ Just show me the progress. I need to know that we are on schedule. I have to send out the second wave of those droids soon, and I want to know that they won’t be wasted.’’

Khang nodded quickly and walked on. ‘’Yes, yes. Come see what we have accomplished.’’

They entered the room where Bark was still strapped to a table, awake and very weak. He looked up and growled at both men. It didn’t take him long to recognize the man who had captured him.

Khang sneered at Bark, ‘’ Shut up, dog. Or I will cut you up and feed you to the minions after they are transformed.’’

‘’Now, now, Khang, we need him alive. He will prove quite useful to us. ‘’ he looked at Bark as a snake might look at its lunch. Then he turned to Khang and commanded, ‘’ Show me what you have done.’’

Khang smiled and happily picked up a syringe filled with a red liquid. ‘’ This is it. One injection and the subject will start to change immediately. I have bypassed all the need for external machines, or other devices. Everything needed is in this serum.’’

The dark man was growing impatient, he didn’t request or need any explanation. ‘’ Just do it.’’

Khang walked over to one of the people strapped to a wall. The person had not awoken once since Bark had gotten here. He assumed they were kept alive by some of the tubes and other things sticking into them. The scientist injected most of the serum into a young Korean man. In his state of sleep, the man hardly noticed the needle being pressed into him. But even as deeply sedated as he was, he still started to move and writhe under the pain of the changes. His skin started to bubble and crawl. Patches of fur began to grow at exponential speeds all over his body. His head was expanding like a balloon, but that would be temporary, the change would cause his human ears to twist upward and grow much like Barks. It was a painful sight, especially to a person who had some memories of the experience. Bark closed his eyes and he prayed deep in his mind that that poor man would be killed by this process and not have to endure being a mindless beast.

The dark suited man seemed to take glee in the pain and suffering of the boy. Khang simply took readings and notes. ‘’ Doctor, what about that anti-serum I asked for?’’

Khang frowned and finished his notes for the moment. ‘’ I got it, right here. This is the only amount I am willing to make. But, it will be enough to reverse the effects in one person. What do you need it for? I am sure the Leader would not want anyone to have a counter….’’

‘’ Are you sure it will work?’’ The wicked man took the syringe filled with blue liquid.

Khang nodded, ‘’Yes. I tested a few drops on a mutated rat in the lab. Its’ change was completely reversed and it still lives. Why?’’

The dark man walked over to Bark, he had that snake like look on his face again. ‘’Joshua is it? Or do you like to be called Bark?’’

Bark snarled at him and simply bellowed, ‘’BARK!’’

‘’ Bark it is then. Do you know what I have here?’’ The man showed the syringe to Joshua.

Bark nodded, he had listened to everything. In fact, with ears like his, it was almost impossible not to listen.

‘’ Good. Then, I am going to give it to you. I am first going to let you go and give you something to eat. I am sure you are hungry by now. And then, we are going to have a long talk. You are going to tell me everything you know about the ULH and the World Alliance, and if you are a good Dog, then I will give this to you and set you free.’’ His tone was pleasant, but the vile evilness in the undertones was unmistakable.

Bark shook his head. He would not betray the ULH, though he wasn’t certain what information he could tell them. After all, he had only been there for a month and was just a student.

The man continued to smile. ‘’We shall see. Doctor Khang, release him and bring him to a room where he can rest. Then, bring him some food. ‘’ his orders were clear and since he was a higher ranking government official the doctor must obey.

Khang glared. He wanted to experiment with this subject a little more. He had some disgusting ideas about mating him with one of the female subjects, once she was changed. But, he knew that it would do his position good to listen and obey. So he got a guard from another part of the lab to come and release Bark.

Bark would’ve fought back once the restraints were off but he hadn’t eaten since before he landed in Las Vegas. His strength was gone and he would not survive a fist fight with anyone. So he followed commands and left with the guard.

Khang was snarling at the missed opportunity. ‘’What now?’’

The evil man put the syringe in a pocket of his coat and gave his order. ‘’ Begin transformation of the subjects. I am going to prepare for my interrogation. ‘’

‘’ I can only mutate ten at a time.’’ Khang admitted fearfully.

The dark suited man smiled, ‘’ Good enough. I will release the assassination droids to distract the ULH. When you have at least fifty soldiers, tell me and we will contact the officials about deployment.”

‘’At once sir.’’ Khang followed orders well.
 
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(If you have a hard time reading it on here, you can read it on my blog too: http://thunderchicken-outofmyhead.blogspot.com/2012/08/bark-and-assassin-crisis-part-5.html )

Bolt, Frost and the General all worked out of the command center. The General had already contacted three officials from New Zealand about starting a search. He had also spoken with several from America about the possibility that the disappearance of a student and the assassination droids were connected.

The General tried and tried to use the location chip that all students have implanted, but something was blocking Bark’s. The people who captured him knew enough to block it and that made the General all the more worried.

Frost was sick to her stomach with fear over this. ‘’ There is no possible way we can be certain that Bark is still being held in New Zealand, or if they have already taken him somewhere else.’’

The General nodded, ‘’ We have no idea where the droids came from, or where Bark might’ve been taken. I have ordered five ULH students and teachers to head for New Zealand to investigate.’’

Frost cleared her throat, ‘’ Send me. I was the last to see him. And I was with him where he was dropped off.’’

The General shook his head “No.”

‘’But….’’

‘’ I said no. You are too emotional about this, you could make mistakes. I cannot afford mistakes in a situation like this. You can help by monitoring from here. And that is my final word.’’ The General knew that she would want to argue, but, he put his commanding foot down.

Bolt put a comforting hand on her shoulder. ‘’ Listen, he is right. Don’t worry. We have a lot of good students and teachers who are capable of finding Bark.’’

‘’ In how many pieces ?’’ She retorted and walked away from Bolt.

The General looked at the huge map with critical eyes. Something still didn’t make sense. He had a thought and looked at one of the robotic drones that operate the systems. ‘’ Display a map of Urban Ranger and ULH assignments two hours before the assassinations began.’’

Without a word, considering the robots didn’t have mouths, the operator changed the map from all the red dots, and replaced them with yellow ones. Each dot represented an Urban Ranger or ULH person on deployment during the time in question.

‘’Good, now show me the assassination attempts in chronological order.’’ He commanded and kept his eyes on the map.

The first dot showed up in California. That was where Bolt and his team were present. Then, another red dot appeared near a yellow dot, then another, and another. Each one correlated with an Urban Ranger or ULH student already on duty.

Frost came up to the General. ‘’What is it?’’

He shook his head, ‘’This really doesn’t make sense. The pattern shows no logic, except to fail.’’

‘’Fail?’’ Bolt asked.

‘’ Each attempt happened within a kilometer of a Ranger or ULH operative. Logic would dictate that they would not want to be near someone who could stop them. There was only one droid that was extremely close to its target, while there were no operatives within a kilometer.’’

Bolt looked at the screen, not sure which one that could be, but it was Frost who caught on. ‘’Ours.’’

The General nodded. ‘’Yes. You and your team were the only ones further away than a Kilometer, but you were the closest to be called when the Presidents plane was forced down. I am beginning to think that that droid did not get on board at LAX, and that he was looking for you.’’

Bolt frowned, ‘’Do you think they were trying to assassinate us?’’

Frost shook her head, ‘’No. I get it now. It wasn’t us at all. It was looking for Bark. ‘’

‘’ Bark? It was wanting to assassinate Bark?’’ Bolt was confused.

The General rolled his eyes and let out a sigh, ‘’ Try to keep up. Bark was the objective, but not to be killed, to be captured. Mr. Joshua Henderson is a secret, no one knows his true identity. When we found him, or really when Frost found him, people assumed he was a dangerous beast. It was decided to keep him a secret here, while letting the world believe we had killed the dangerous monster haunting that Las Vegas suburb. ‘’

Frost gasped, ‘’I get it. Whoever wanted him designed these droids to be found by someone with his talent. Once they found him, they knew that it was Joshua Henderson. ‘’

The General nodded, ‘’ Yes. And only a few hours after you arrived from that incident with the first droid, I got that phony message looking for him. It did not occur to me that the person sending the message could not have known that Bark was the man from the laboratory incident. I was so preoccupied by the assassinations that I didn’t catch the mistake. Damnit!’’ he cursed himself for making a mistake that might have cost a student his life.

Frost was watching the screen. She frowned and then looked at the robot at the controls. ‘’ Play it back.’’ The robot reset the commands and put the red dots on in the sequence of their appearances.

Bolt watched but did not see what she saw. ‘’What is it?’’

‘’ I think I ….’’

Just then sirens sounded and a smaller screen popped onto the view. There was man from the World Alliance at a desk. ‘’General, Prince Shaleek of Frahnistan and his entire family was just killed by a droid that had replaced their driver. Wait…’’ the man looked at a small monitor on his desk that had suddenly started to beep, then looked back at the General, ‘’Two more Urban Rangers have reported attacks in the last five minutes, and I am showing activity across the board. Get some people on the ground ASAP.’’

‘’At once. ULH out.’’ The General headed for his office. ‘’ Robots, get onto the new attacks, I want updates before they happen. Bolt, you and Frost head for Washington, keep the President safe there.’’

Frost yelled out, ‘’Wait!’’

The General did not like being interrupted by anyone, especially a student. ‘’What?!’’

She swallowed her fear and answered. ‘’Just give me a second. I can see a pattern here.’’ She pointed to the map. ‘’Robot, please show the assassination attempts again, in order.’’

The map went clean, and then the dots started to appear. ‘’ Stop! Look, did you see it?’’

The General and Bolt walked up to her, ‘’See what?’’ Bolt asked.

She pointed to North Korea, ‘’ The dots start in America and all over the board, but they slowly move out. All the while, they keep a healthy distance from North Korea. Frahnistan is pretty far from North Korea, and I am willing to bet that all the new attempts are also as far from North Korea as possible. That is where Bark is, and where we will find the mastermind behind this assassination plot.’’

The General frowned and stared at the map. It seemed like an hour before anyone spoke. Bolt was still trying to figure it out; Frost was fixed on the General, awaiting his orders. He looked at her with the most serious expression she had seen. ‘’ I hope you are right. Bolt, take Frost and check this out.’’

‘’What about our D.C. assignment?’’ Bolt asked.

The General looked at the map, ‘’I will head to D.C. Now go, before it is too late.’’

_____________________________________________________

‘’ It is good to see you looking so healthy, Mr. Bark.’’ The dark man came into a small holding cell where Bark had been placed, fed, and left for the past half hour.

Bark got up and was ready to attack, but the dark man held out a gun, ‘’ I wouldn’t try anything like that. I am a very good shot and I don’t believe your superhuman abilities grant you immunity to bullets. Sit, please. We have much to discuss.’’

Bark glared at him, with a growl in his chest, but sat down on the bed that was strapped to the wall.

The darkly dressed man pulled up a chair and sat down; the guard left and locked the door behind him. ‘’ I guess I should introduce myself. My name is not important, but what I am doing is. I am part of a larger organization that is destined to rid this world of the likes of the ULH, Rangers, or any other of the superhumans. We aren’t with any one government, but we use the governments against one another. Soon, the nations will be at each other’s throat and we will be poised to tear them down. We will build in their places a grand single world order, where our organization will rule and everyone will follow. The assassin droids are the first phase. We are using them to distract all the superhumans, so that once the army marches, it takes too long for them to gather and stop us. By the time they face us in force, it will be too late. The second wave has already started and this wave is designed to kill world leaders, not just distract the ULH and Rangers. Yes, Bark, we used all those droids just to get our hands on you. But, once we are done, there will be enforced peace and order on Earth, our order. Now, here, you will need this to tell me what I need to know.’’ The man handed bark a pad of paper and a pencil.

Bark took the paper and pencil and then immediately started to write on it. After a quick message, he handed it back to the man.

‘’Oh, I see. You have no intention of betraying your friends. Well, that is fine. Then you will be a dog for the rest of your life. I am not a stupid man, I know how this works.’’ He pulled out the syringe with the blue liquid in it, the liquid that would make Joshua Henderson a human again. He set it down on a desk by another wall and then sat his chair near it. “ I can wait. Take a good long look at it, Josh. That little syringe can give you back everything you lost. No one will see the mutated man with fur, tail and tall ears, they will see the human you really were. And, you can walk free. When I tell you that you will walk free, I mean it. I may be working for world order, and for the destruction of the ULH and World Alliance, but that doesn’t mean I will lie to you. You can go on with your life. So, what do you think? Take a good long look, it is right here. All I have to do is inject it.’’ He sat back, crossed one leg over the other and waited.

Joshua kept his glare on the man for a few minutes, but it did not take long for him to start to look at the syringe with sad eyes. It was true. He left the ULH for the chance at being a human again. He was not born to be a Hero, let the others take care of this man’s plans. Surly the ULH could fight whatever this man created. A lot of villains have grandiose plans, but can be foiled by the right counter plan. And, what could he possibly tell him that would hurt the ULH, really? ‘Who would it hurt?’ he thought to himself. Then he thought about Frost. Even if the ULH could stop him, she still might die for his mistakes. Could he betray her? No. He couldn’t, and he won’t.

Josh sat back, crossed his leg, and stared right back at the man. ‘’Woof!’’ he said, and then smiled.

The darkly dressed man smiled and pulled out a small device and pressed a button on it. ‘’ I thought you might be obstinate. I know how to deal with dogs, how to break them, and make them obey.’’

Just then a man came in with a chain and collar. Bark stood up and was ready to fight against whatever he would do. With a loud click, he turned to see the gun pointed right at his head. Even if he were ready to die, his instincts would not let him. With another harsh click, the collar was wrapped around his neck, and the chain was attached to a hook on the wall. A pair of handcuffs bound Barks hands behind him. Without another word, the Korean guard left and the door was locked.

The dark suited man set his gun down, right next to the syringe of blue liquid. He pulled out a short whip and slapped it a few times in his hands. “Alright, one more chance. You can suffer as a dog, or walk away a human. What will it be?’’

Bark snarled, barked once, and then spit on the man.

‘’Fine, you made your choice.’’ Raising his hand up, he snapped the whip right across Barks arm and part of his back. Bark yelped and screamed much like a poor dog being mistreated. He was hit again and again, each time the pain was as fresh as the first. It was painful, bloody, and loud.

________________________________________________________________

Bolt and Frost piloted a shuttle pod over North Korea. Bolt managed the controls while Frost used the sensors. While under the cloak, no one and no radar could detect them. It was a good thing too, these shuttles didn’t have any weapons and if they got into a firefight with a local military, it wouldn’t be good.

‘’ Do you know where to start?’’ Bolt asked Frost.

She looked out the windows and then at her sensors. ‘’ I…I don’t know. We can check the military compounds, but that seems too obvious. ‘’

‘’Besides, it gives them too much of an opportunity to find us. I don’t want to be on the eleven o’clock news. Come on, think. How are we to find a dog amongst millions of people?’’ Bolt looked out the window, hoping to get an idea.

Frost glared at him, ‘’ Stop, please. Unless Bark says you can call him a dog, or furball, furbag, or any of the other names you use for him, don’t use them. It’s rude. ‘’

Bolt let out a sigh, ‘’Just keep your mind on the mission. Where do we start?’’

Frost was flustered. It did not make sense to her how they were supposed to find anything in this country without any more help. But, with all the assassination attempts recently, the students, teachers, and Rangers were all busy. They were alone in this, “I just don’t know. Maybe we could….wait, what’s this?’’ She looked at her controls and started to smile. “I have something.”

“What is it?”

She expanded her screen so that it showed a single mountainside. “Right there. I am picking up a feint ULH locator signal.”

“Is it Barks?”

Frost frowned and looked closely at it. She changed the computer readout to two other sensor grids, but it still didn’t tell her anything new. “I can’t say. The signal is too weak. The dampening field around it is probably blocking us. But, I can tell you that it is definitely one of ours.”

Bolt smiled, “Good enough for me. Taking us in.”

 
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( If you have a hard time reading it on here, you can read it on my blog too: http://thunderchicken-outofmyhead.blogspot.com/2012/08/bark-and-assassin-crisis-final-part.html )

“ YOU WILL BREAK! I WILL GET THAT INFORMATION OUT OF YOU!’’ The dark man snapped the whip over Bark one more time.

Bark was on his knees, his hands still behind his back and his body covered in long welts with blood soaking his fur. He couldn’t yelp anymore, his strength was stolen, and his will was breaking. Each time he started to consider ending this, he would put Frosts smiling face in his mind, the feel of her hug around his body, and the way she gave him confidence every time she spoke to him. That alone would end the thoughts of failure. He would sooner allow his own death than bring any destruction to the ULH, or to Frost. He looked at the dark man with a wicked grin. He needn’t a voice right now, all he wanted to say was in his eyes and that snarling grin.

The dark man sneered and dropped the whip. His arm was tired and he needed to give Bark some time to live with the pain. “That is enough for now. You can think about what has happened to you, and what can happen to you. When you finally decide to cooperate, I will listen. Otherwise, in two hours, we can start this again.’’

The dark man turned and knocked on the door with a certain pattern. The guard opened the door and was given his orders. “ Stay inside with him. Make sure he doesn’t die. If he is ready to talk, come and get me.”

The guard did not answer, but followed orders. He stepped in and stood at attention just as he would outside the door.

Bark was breathing hard, trying to keep from crying. The pain was so great that he didn’t know what to do now. How much longer could he endure this before he passed out, or died? Why did this have to happen to him? ‘Please God, no more.’ He begged in his mind. With a trembling body and quivering lip, he looked up at the guard who was watching him. Then he looked at the syringe on the desk. Would it work? Could it work? If only they would believe lies about The ULH, and then give him that and let him go. But, if they knew he was lying, they could make it so much worse.

The guard was now giving him a more quizzical look. Bark smiled. He thought how wonderful it would be if he could tell this soldier what was about to happen. These mad people would probably use him as part of their army of dog men. They would erase his mind, his desires, his life and give him a meaningless life of obedience in its place. Would this guard betray them? Could he start an uprising against the government? Probably not. No soldier is more brainwashed than those who live in a country led by a dictator. Besides, he would not believe him.

Just then the guard looked back at the metal door. The metal door was making a strange cracking noise, and there was a small amount of smoke….not smoke, but fog rising from the surface. Then the surface turned white as a thin layer of frost spread across it. Suddenly a huge kick smashed the door like ice against a rock.

The guard held out his gun with a trembling hand and asked in Korean, ‘’Who is there?’’

There was an electric yellow flash and the guard spun around on his own heels and was thrown out the door. Bolt stopped in the middle of the room with a victorious laugh. The guard fell back into the room, half frozen and dead to the world.

‘’A little help here, this guy is heavy.’’ Frost was pushing the guard into the room to keep others from noticing the commotion.

‘’Woof!’’

‘’ Bark!’’ Frost yelled out and then came to her knees right in front of him. ‘’ Oh my God, what have they done to you?’’ She brushed some of the blood off of his face.

‘’Come on, we have to get out of here, they are sure to notice this soon enough.’’ Bolt was looking out the door with anticipation.’’

Bark pulled against the chain to show that he was bound.

Frost put her hands behind him and closed her eyes. She focused her powers to freeze only the bolts in the handcuffs so not to hurt him. With a giant grunt, he broke the cuffs after the bolts had weakened enough.

‘’Okay, I got the cuffs, but it is going to take a moment to get the chain. Bolt, go and make sure that the way is clear for us. We really don’t want any random encounters right now.’’ Frost ordered.

Bolt would’ve commented on her ordering him around, but he knew she was right. So, in a flash and a blur, he was off down the hallway.

Frost stood up and pointed her hand at the wall to freeze the chains linked to his collar enough so that Bark could break them. She only got a few seconds into it when they were interrupted.

There was a signature click, and the dark man walked in with his gun pointed right at Frosts head. “ I see we have company.’’

Frost turned around with her hands out to freeze this man. But, he shot just as she did and hit her right in the palm, near her thumb. She went down holding her hand close to her.

‘’ Don’t try anything, stupid girl. Tell me, are there others?’’ He looked right at her with his gun trained on her head.

She glared at him and said, ‘’Thousands. You will be overrun in a matter of minutes. Let us go, or this will get really ugly.’’

The man smiled without an ounce of belief in him. He trained his gun right at her heart, and said. ‘’ I don’t believe you. Now, I think I will take care of you.’’

Bark was enraged at the sight of her being shot. He pulled at his chain, jumping up at the dark man. But, the chains still bound him to the wall and his arms were not long enough to reach.

The man pointed his gun at Bark with the shock of the motion and stepped back, “Nice try boy.” Frost held up her non-wounded hand, but found his gun once again trained on her. “ I may not be some kind of superhuman, but I can shoot better than anyone you know. Don’t try anything stupid.’’ With his gun still pointed at her, he looked at Bark. ‘’ Now, my dear boy, I have another weapon against you. Tell me what I want to know, or she dies.’’

Bark was furious. He pulled and pulled at his chain, he even barked at the man wanting to say so much more. By the growling and snarling, the dark man knew that Bark wasn’t willing to talk.

‘’ What does he want?’’ Frost looked at Bark.

Bark growled at the man.

The man smiled, ‘’ Just all the information about your precious ULH. I need to know how to take it down. Now, Bark, what shall it be? The information or her pretty blonde head spattered with her own blood?’’

Bark pulled hard at his chain, both of his hands on it.

‘’Fine, your choice.’’ The man prepared to kill her.

In an amazing show of strength Bark pulled the chain from the wall, and tackled the man right in the side. The gun went off, hitting the wall behind Frost. Bark grabbed the man’s arm that was holding the gun and broke the humerus with his bare hands. Then he threw the man solidly against another wall, shattering more bones. With a swift kick, he knocked the gun away. Bark ripped the collar off of his neck and tied the chain around the man’s head so that the chain gagged him making it impossible to yell for help.

The dark man was cowering against the wall, holding his broken arm against himself. Bark was inches away from tearing this man’s head off his shoulders, by the chain. But, Frost stopped him.

‘’ He isn’t worth it, Bark. Let’s go.’’

Bark pulled the bed off the wall and used one of the hooks to tether the Dark Suited man to the wall, even smashing it so that he couldn’t undo it easily. Bark turned away from the man and picked up the blue syringe from the desk. Both he and Frost left the room, leaving the man to gag on his own chain.

__________________________________________________________________________

Bolt ran all the way from the place where they had snuck in to the control room. There were very few guards. They obviously did not expect anyone to find this place. He looked out and saw what looked like a strange suspended walkway leading into a large room. He had to find out what was going on here so he went to investigate.

What he found was the bay where the people were being restrained and turned into dog soldiers. He could see large dog like men lying on the tables, who were already transformed. They were much larger than Bark and looked more vicious. It was like looking at a real life werewolf. He could also see a short man in a lab coat administering something into the neck of the unchanged humans. Some that had already been injected were writhing about in horrible agony. Bolt cringed and knew that this was terribly wrong, but he also know that he couldn’t do anything right now.

Running back into the control room, he decided to learn as much as he could before he left. Any information would help them determine how to deal with this later.

‘’ What on earth?’’ He frowned and looked at the screen. He could see that there were command controls for something other than the mutation project. This was the command station for those assassination droids. He called up the command controls and could see the deployment plans. They had only sent out ten percent of the droids, hundreds more were ready to launch within the day. Bolt smiled and started to change the commands, but he was locked out by passcodes he did not know.

‘’Who are you, and what are you doing?’’ Just then Dr. Khang returned to the control center to find Bolt messing with his computers.

Bolt turned and started to run away, but found an arm closelining his face. Three of the dog soldiers blocked his way out. Another five walked in behind the doctor. They were naked, furry, and blank eyed.

Bolt decided to try and bluff his way out of this. ‘’ You have lost. We have this place surrounded. Surrender, or we will have to destroy everything.’’

“ I don’t think so. Dogs, kill him.” The doctor calmly ordered.

Bolt quickly dodged three of the dogs attacking him. But as he started to run toward the exit one of them grabbed his foot and went face first into the ground. Three others dragged him across the floor and restrained him.

Khang looked at him, ‘’ You must be the famous Bolt. So sorry, but you must die now.” Khang stepped back to watch his creations at work.

The dogs started to pull on him, intent on ripping his limbs from his body. Bolt smiled and closed his eyes. With a thought he sent a charge through himself and shocked the dogs so that they let go. Scrambling to his feet, he ran around two of them, confusing them. He hit them several times breaking a rib on one, and knocking the other into the first. Both went down without much problem. He was tripped by a dog that used its leg to catch him off guard. Bolt tumbled over, but landed so that he was kneeling. He grabbed an outstretched tail and zapped another dog. Using this dogs state of shock, he shoved it into an approaching attacker and smashed both against a wall.

‘’ Kill him!’’ Dr. Khang yelled as he started to back out of the room, realizing that he might lose this battle.

The last dog man ran right at Bolt. Bolt smiled and stood still until the very last moment. In a split-second , he moved away and the dog man smacked right into the wall. Bolt grabbed him by the back of the head and knocked him senseless against the hard floor.

Bolt saw that all the dogs were defeated and the doctor was nowhere to be seen. He was victorious; all he had to do now was find a way to put a stop to all of this. He ran over to the computer and put his hands on it. His intentions were to overcharge the systems and destroy all the computers. Hopefully that would stop any more of the droids from being deployed and the research in these computers would be destroyed as well. With both hands on the computer, he released a massive jolt that was so great it even made him light headed. The screens all started to flicker and some areas even exploded outward.

‘’ ZZZZzzz Autozzzzzzzz” the computer announced. “ zZZZZZZZZZzzDestructzzzzz’’

The screens went dark, then the lights and sirens started to blare. Bolt frowned. ‘’Auto…Destruct.’’ His eyes bugged out, ‘’AUTO DESTRUCT. Damn!’’ he was about to run when he felt a sharp prick in the side of his neck.

He put his hand up and pulled away a syringe with a few drops of red liquid in it. Something in him began to churn and he no longer was able to stand. Falling to his knees, he turned around to see the doctor standing there. ‘’Wh..what…have you done?’’ Bolt fell to the side, holding himself against the transformation.

Khang laughed, ‘’ Idiot, science will defeat you.’’ It was then that Khang noticed the computer readouts, the ones still working. ‘’YOU FOOL, YOU SET THE AUTO DESTRUCT!’’ the little man ran to his computer to try and stop this, but the system was fried and nothing would stop it from being destroyed.

‘’SOLDIER!’’ the doctor yelled and another dog man came in from the transformation room. The doctor pointed at Bolt, ‘’ Drag him to the escape pods, NOW!’’ the soldier ran over and took Bolts legs and started to drag him out.

Bolt did his best to summon a jolt of electricity to shock the man dragging him, but he was unable to do so.

Suddenly the dog thing stopped. Its eyes widened and he turned a sickly shade of blue. With an enormous thunk, he fell over frozen solid.

Frost and Bark stood at the entrance from the holding cell level. Frost had her good hand up where she had just frozen the dog.

‘’DAMNIT!’’ Khang yelled and ran out the other door that led to the walkway.

Frost came over to Bolt and held him, ‘’ Oh my God, what happened to you?’’

Bolt was in a lot pain, but he managed to moan, ‘’Stop him. ‘’

Bark looked up with a fierce determination. He was about to run away when Frost grabbed his hand.

‘’Stop him, but get back in five minutes. This place is going to blow in seven minutes, if that computer is telling the truth.’’

Bark nodded and ran out the same way that the doctor had left.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Dr. Khang stopped in the middle of the walkway. He looked out at the dog soldiers that were finished in their transformation. ‘’ GET OUT OF HERE! GO TO THE DOCKS, NOW!’’ he pointed to the back of the room. With a press of a button on a control station, the doors to the bay opened and there were shuttles waiting to deploy the soldiers. Only a few would get out, but they would be enough to protect the doctor when he started this again.

Bark saw the man and started running as fast as he could. Getting closer he was actually running on his hands and feet.

‘’What the hell?!’’ The doctor turned to see the monster approaching him.

Bark used his hands and knees to bound up and with a huge swipe of his claws, he send the doctor over the edge of the walkway. The man held onto the very edge for dear life.

‘’What are you doing?! We are all going to be killed! This place is going to explode!’’ The doctor looked up to the man now towering over him.

Bark got to the edge and held out the syringe of anti-serum. He showed it to the doctor and snarled.

‘’ What? What do you want? Ahhh!’’ he slipped off with one hand and barely had enough momentum to grab the edge again before falling.

Bark pointed at the blue liquid and then at the soldiers down in the bay.

‘’ You want me to make more. NEVER! They are my beautiful creations. Besides, all my research was in that computer. It will be destroyed. ‘’ He seemed to take delight in the idea of losing that particular data.

Bark leaned over and stared at the man. ‘’ Bark!’’ he bellowed and pointed at the anti-serum again.

‘’ NEVER! You cannot force me to do anything. I have an army at my command. Even the great leader cannot stop me now. And no one, I MEAN NO ONE, CAN REPLICATE THAT ANTI-SERUM! I am the only one who knows the sequences, the combinations. Without me, the dogs will remain soldiers.’’ His insane arrogance was beyond comprehension. He was dangling three stories above solid concrete, yet he was acting as though he still held all the cards.

Bark turned around and started to walk away. He wanted to show the man that he was willing to let him die.

‘’ What? You stupid dog, come back. Get me off this ledge! I command you!’’

Bark came back and looked Khang right in the face. He held up the serum and snarled at him. Dr. Khang snarled right back. ‘’ STUPID DOG! You cannot force me to do anything, I am the great Doctor KhaaAAAAAAA!!!’’ his hands slipped and he fell three stories to the ground where he met his death. Bark tried to catch him, knowing that he was the only chance at saving all these lives. But, he wasn’t fast enough.

Bark flinched and let out a sigh. He never intended on killing the man, but it was inevitable. Bark looked up at the dog soldiers all heading for the opening door towards the shuttles. He felt for these men and women. They did not ask for this and they deserved more. But, if they got out they could cause so much death and destruction. They would be mindless monsters wreaking havoc across the land without any leadership. With a heavy heart, he pressed the close button and walked back toward the control center. The dogs would be trapped, and they would be killed by the destruction of the lab. It would be a complete end to this.

_________________________________________________________________________

‘’Bark! I can’t stop him! Help me!’’ Frost was wrestling against Bolt, who was half dog by now. He was fighting her with red in his eyes.

Bolt punched her in the face, sending her down. Bark caught her before she hit the ground. Bolt yelled out something that sounded like a howl, then hit the ground as his body was being further transformed. On a human, this would change them, on a superhuman, it would kill them.

Bark looked at the anti-serum in the syringe he had. He helped Frost up and then walked over to the writhing man. Bark grabbed Bolt by the arm and held him down, his face pushed to the ground. Bolt tried to struggle, twisting his body against the great pain. Bark shoved the needle into Bolts arm and emptied all of the contents. The anti-serum went to work immediately. Bolt stopped fighting so hard and his bodily transformation slowed down to a stop. The start of a tail, the twist of his ears, and the bits of fur would receded soon enough.

Frost walked up to Bark, ‘’What was that?’’

Bark tossed aside the syringe and shook his head. He pointed at the one working computer screen that showed less than 90 seconds till core meltdown. Bark grabbed up Bolt hoisted him onto his back and then stood up so that he could run.

Frost held her wounded hand and gestured toward the holding cell hallway. ‘’ This way! Our ship is down there.’’ She ran ahead.

Bark ran as fast as he could, with all his injuries and a man on his back.

______________________________________________________________________

Bark, Bolt, and Frost got into the small shuttle pod from ULH. The door closed and the computer announced loudly, ‘’Power core meltdown detected.’’

Frost hit the computer screen, ‘’ I know.’’ She sat in the pilots seat and turned on the engines.

Bark laid Bolt down in the back. The reversion was starting to show as the man was now more human than dog. Bark jumped into the co-pilot seat and looked at the controls. He had no idea what he was looking at.

Frost was punching buttons and activating everything she could. ‘’I can fly this…I think.’’

Bark tried to smile at her, but it was obviously filled with fear.

Frost looked around the controls. ‘’ Uh…I think this is the lift off command.’’ She punched in several commands and the pod jostled around. But, it didn’t move. ‘’ I guess not. Oh, what the heck did he say was the auto-pilot controls? That would do it.’’

Bark looked out the window. They were sitting on the side of a mountain, right in front of a small set of doors. The doors were slightly open and the red warning lights from inside were very visible.

‘’ Explosion imminent!’’ the computer announced.

‘’ I know it, damnit! Shut up!’’ Frost hit the control panel again. Then her eyes lit up, ‘’Wait, that’s it!’’ She opened a small panel on the control station and pressed a button.

The computer screens changed from blue in colors to green in colors. The computer announced. ‘’ Auto-pilot activated, please state a destination.’’

Frost yelled out, ‘’THE ULH SPACE STATION!’’

Bark said, ‘’ WOOF!’’ then frowned again.

‘’ Lift-off, secure passengers please.’’ The computer stated while the ship ‘s engines activated and the small pod began to lift into the sky.

Just then the doors that the shuttle had been sitting in front of burst out with a ball of fire following. The mountain was rocked, and parts of it exploded upward much like a volcanic eruption. The shuttle was caught in the shock wave, rocking it pretty hard, but it remained intact.

Frost and Bark held on, Bolt was sort of thrown into the floor. After a moment of fear, they both looked up out of the front window to the mountain side. Several explosions followed and large patches of rock slid down and crushed a forest below.

Bark closed his eyes and looked down. He knew that everyone inside was dead. No one could survive that kind of destruction. All those people, just like him, unfairly mutated against their will, and now they suffered a fiery death. Why?

Frost put a hand on his head and scratched around his ear. ‘’ Bark, don’t be so sad. ‘’

He looked up at her and then back down at the mountain. When he got back to the ULH he would tell the General and anyone else he could about what happened. And that they should scour that mountain for remains. They needed to tell the families and friends of those people why they died. No one should suffer the loss of a loved one never knowing what happened to them.

‘’ ULH station arrival: approximately twelve minutes. Prepare for departure.’’ The computer announced and the shuttle lifted higher and higher into the sky, heading for the space station.

______________________________________________________________________

‘’ Breaking News: Today, hundreds of robotic people have been discovered all over the planet. Each having replaced a person that was in close contact with a ranking official of governments, those that were replaced have not been located. It is feared that each person that was replaced is dead, but there has not been any confirmation on that speculation at this time. For reasons unknown, at 3:47 this afternoon Pacific Standard Time, the robots all ceased working. Authorities are not giving any further information out, but the assassination situation has come to a standstill and the threat level has been lowered. We will keep you updated with information as our news teams get the details. This is Action 19 News.

________________________________________________________________________

Bark sat in the ULH infirmary with a robotic nurse working on his wounds. He had already been visited by a large man with four arms who had the power to instantly heal most surface wounds. Tobias walked in looking at a sheet of paper.

‘’Well, Mr. Henderson. Looks like you are going to make a full recovery, again. It is nice to see you in one piece. Oh, I think I made progress with your translator, let me get it.’’ Tobias left for his office.

Bark pushed the nurses arm away from him and got up from his bed. He had blotches of fur that needed to grow back, and he was sore from head to tail, but he was in much better shape than yesterday. Walking out into the infirmary, he looked around for Frost and Bolt, the two people who risked their lives for him.

He found both in beds near each other. Bolt was still out, recovering from the brief mutation to his body. Frost had had the hole in her hand fixed and the black eye treated. She looked as good as ever. Bark came over and found her resting, so he quietly turned to leave.

‘’Hey, aren’t you going to wake the princess with a kiss?’’ Frost asked.

Bark turned around to find her slowly opening her eyes. Without much need for invitation, he came to her bedside and looked down at her. Taking her good hand, he held it in his paw. With a smile on his face he rubbed her hand.

‘’ I guess that is a thank you for saving you.’’ She said while sitting up.

He nodded slowly and looked into her eyes. How he had missed those eyes.

She turned and sat up on the edge of her bed. With a great smile she took his hand and pulled him closer. ‘’ I had another idea as a way for you to say thank you.’’ Without any invitation she wrapped her arms around his neck, brought his face to hers and gave his muzzle a great kiss. He didn’t resist ,much, in fact he put his arms around her and pulled her closer to him. They stayed embraced for a long time, her hands all over his back, his tail wagging properly for the first time.

‘’Gah, I didn’t need to wake up to see that.’’ Bolt crassly stated.

Both Frost and Bark stopped kissing like a couple of teenagers and looked at Bolt.

‘’ Bolt, you’re awake. Are you okay? How do you feel?’’ Frost was happy to see that he was okay.

Bolt didn’t sit up, his back hurt too much. He rubbed his eyes. ‘’ Good grief, what happened to me? I feel like I have the worst hangover in the world.’’

Frost laughed and answered. ‘’ You were nearly as much a dog as Bark here. That doctor gave you something that was changing you.’’

Bolt frowned and focused to remember what happened. ‘’ Yes, he put something in my neck and…and, I can’t remember much after that. It hurt, a lot.’’ He held his head, which was still in a lot of pain.

Frost took Barks hand and held it. ‘’ You put up a pretty good fight, Bolt. You hit me right in the eye so hard that they needed to fix the bone.’’

Bolt laughed, ‘’I was always good a hitting on you.’’ He closed his eyes and frowned, ‘’ Uh, then if I was given that mutation stuff, why am I not a dog?’’

‘’ Thanks to Bark, you are going to be okay.’’ Frost leaned over against the furry man standing next to her bed.

Bolt looked up at Bark, ‘’What do you mean?’’

Frost smiled with a self-satisfied expression. ‘’ He gave you the only amount of anti-serum available. It was meant for him, but he gave it to you so that you would not die. Without his sacrifice, you would not be here. He even carried you all the way to the shuttle pod.’’

Bolt flopped his head back in his pillow. ‘’ Good Lord, now I am indebted to that dog.’’

Frost laughed heartily at the idea, Bark was grinning as he had not thought of it that way.

‘’ There you are.’’ Tobias walked in with his translator device he had been working on.

Bark stood up straight and held out his hand. Tobias handed him the speaker and then attached the mental reader again. ‘’ Okay, give it a try.’’

Bark looked at Frost and tried to say, ’Thank you for saving me.’

‘’ Peaches and Frog cream.’’ Was what came out.

Frost and Bolt both laughed, Tobias took his device back with annoyance at its failure. Bark sat on the bed next to Frost with a defeated frown.

“Oh, don’t be so sad, I will always be there to read your pad. Gives me a chance to stay with you all the time.’’ Frost leaned over onto him and her hand slowly went down to his tail and ran all the way up to his butt. His eyes and ears both perked up with surprise.

‘’Woof.’’

_______________________________________________________________________

In a darkened hall, where ten shadowed men talked about the coming new age of mankind, an injured man walked in to the single light beam at the center of the room. It was the Dark Suited man, who was still recovering from the beating Bark had given him.

He opened his mouth to speak, but the man at the head of the table spoke first. ‘’ You failed!’’ the deep voice boomed.

Another man looked at a computer tablet, “Everyone was lost, all that research, money, and time, Wasted!’’

The darkly dressed man nodded, ‘’ I underestimated that boys resistance to my tactics. I will not be so soft next time.’’

An old woman stated harshly. ‘’ There will not be a next time. We are going to make a new plan and find a new method to obtain what is rightfully ours. You will be reassigned.’’

The darkly dressed man turned around and hobbled out. On his way he muttered to himself. ‘’There will be a next time, and next time I am going to kill that dog.’’