( Please do not post comments in this thread, I want this to be for the story only. If you want to comment, please start another thread. Thank you and enjoy.)
‘’Barks Journal, Day 3 of my first semester. I guess this will be my first of many entries to this journal. I was informed by Bolt that all members of the ULH are required to keep a journal, even the students. It has been almost a month since Frost and Bolt rescued me from Korea. It seems like yesterday that I was being tortured by that mad man. I try not to think about what could’ve happened to me and only focus on what good happened afterward. The beautiful lady Frost and I have been dating ever since that day. She convinced me to cut my hair as I was getting pretty shaggy, even for a dog. I like it now, the short style seems to bring an element of human back to me.
Dr. Tobias Glyph, or Cerberus as he is known, has finally had a break through with that vocal processor. It isn’t perfect and sometimes finds the wrong words. Sometimes it will pick up on a thought that is strong, but was not intended to be said aloud. It can be embarrassing, especially when it says what I am thinking while on a date with Frost. She understands, but still pretends to slap me when it sounds inappropriate. There is a holographic tailor that crafts the costumes for all the heroes. It was what determined that this tiny bathing suit of a costume is what works best for my biology. I am getting used to it, though I still see a few staring at what they should not be. After Dr. Glyph finished this prototype of the vocal processor, he sent it and myself to that hologram to make it work as part of the costume. The device must be close to my head, so that it can get a clear signal. And, the hologram decided that it would not do well on missions to have it dangling too much off of me. It considered having it strapped to my forehead like a sweatband, but that proved too dangerous according to the programming of the hologram. So, it crafted a snug collar that this little box hangs from. It looks like a dog collar. I am half inclined to believe that one of the pranksters hacked the program and did this to me on purpose.
I started the first semester today with a full slate of class work. I have four class room classes, a period of holographic simulation training, and I spend three hours a day with Toshi sensei. Toshi sensei approached me not too long after I first arrived on the station. She asked me if I would become a student of hers. I didn’t give it much thought and simply nodded. She started teaching me martial arts and fighting techniques from all over Japan. It is a great workout and sometimes a little dangerous.
Today I am on Bolts team for the morning sports workout program. We are playing soccer again, only this is a superpower soccer match that is almost no holds barred. It is a very invigorating style of competition, and a good way to practice the skills you are learning.
I am pleased that even though I have a lot of the other students who like to tease me, especially when I don’t have my voice box on, I have made friends. One friend who has become very close is Bolt. After a shaky relationship when I first arrived, he decided I wasn’t so bad after all, even though I stole Frost. I guess when you save a man’s life, his attitude towards you changes. ‘’
Bark ran down a large grassy field wearing nothing but his usual briefs. The ground below his feet started to rock and roll and he saw the earth about to explode beneath him. He gave an enormous leap and avoided the dirt eruption. A boy at the other end of the field had his hands down where he was controlling the waves in the soil. Bark jumped over onto his hands and then back to his feet. With a great bark and a thrust of his foot he sent a soccer ball hurtling toward a goal at the other end of the field.
A girl flew down on giant angel wings and tried to deflect the balls direction. Just as she was about to meet the ball, she was knocked out of the air by a yellow flash that hit her foot. Bolt stopped with a smile on his face while he watched the ball sail into the goal and earn his team the final point.
A whistle blew and everyone on the field started shaking hands and heading toward the exit. Bark walked over to Bolt with a smile on both of their faces.
The winged girl walked by, sort of hopping where she was hit by the runner. ‘’Hey, Bolt, that wasn’t fair.’’
Bolt shrugged, ‘’ Hitting is fair enough, especially after your team mate used that power on the field. ‘’
Just then, a huge man with blue skin, more muscles than three men, four arms, and a coaches uniform, came up. ‘’ Yup, he’s right. ‘’ He looked up at the boy who had summoned the broken earth, ‘’HEY! SHAKER! Next time you do that, you are off the team for the season!’’ The coach walked off to talk to another student who had violated the no dangerous powers rule.
Shaker snarled and walked toward the men’s locker room while muttering things he shouldn’t say about the coach and an instructor.
Bolt and Bark headed toward the men’s locker room, Bolt was already pulling his tight suit off from the top. ‘’Hey Bark, how did you avoid that earth blast? That was incredible.’’
Bark tapped the dog tag like device hanging from his collar, a robotic voice stated. ‘’ I could hear the earth moving in my direction.’’
Bolt nodded with surprise. ‘’Very good. You are learning how to use your powers nicely.’’
Bark shook his head and twitched his dog ears. His robot voice stated. ‘’ No powers, just big ears.’’
Both laughed at that and headed into the men’s locker room to shower and get ready for the rest of the days lessons.
Bark walked through the locker room and into the shower in nothing but his fur. The vocal processor is supposed to be water resistant but he didn’t want to push it. After all it was the only thing he had that could talk for him.
A juvenile taunt greeted Bark as he came into the steamy shower room.‘’ It looks like someone forgot to neuter their dog.’’ This voice Bark knew all too well. It was a boy who had green hair and a mouth that looked about three times too big for his face. This was Green Scream a metahuman with the power to create explosive sounds with his mouth. Though, he usually used his mouth to be a rude prick to people he thought were tease-worthy.
Bark looked back at the green headed guy, who was surrounded by other equally rude boys. Without his voice box Bark could not respond verbally, but his eyes said it all.
A shorter first year student in the group, said. ‘’oooh, look, doggy is mad now.’’
Bark walked right at Green Scream, keeping his eyes on the boy the whole way.
Timothy, or Green Scream, did not back down. He just returned the severe gaze with a mocking smile. ‘’ Whatcha gonna do?’’
Bark let out a huff and turned back around to go shower quickly and get out of there. He had a date tonight with a girl and that was more important than getting in trouble for injuring a student.
Just as Bark was about to let this go, Timothy did it again. ‘’ Hey, you might want to stick to humping legs until you get those nuts removed, Frost doesn’t have enough boobs to feed a litter.’’
Bark had heard enough. He could take insults about himself, but he would defend the girl he loved with all of his strength. He turned and was about to give Tim a massive right hook to the face when a hand grabbed his arm. Bolt was standing there in nothing but a towel, his hand holding Bark from mauling Timothy.
‘’ He isn’t worth it. Just go shower.’’ Bolt looked at Tim with eyes that said, ‘drop it.’
Bark let out another huff snarling quietly at Green Scream. Letting this go, he walked over to his stall and immediately noticed that the bottle of shampoo had changed. With a furrowed brow he picked it up to see what it was. ‘Flea and tick shampoo’ was on the label. This elicited some snickering from the group of boys.
Bolt rolled his eyes, but for some reason he was smiling. ‘’ Boys, go take a shower.’’
‘’But we already…’’ Tim immediately protested, but was cut off by Bolt.
‘’ Slime like you needs to be extra clean.’’ Bolt stated crassly, yet still smiling.
The group of boys disbanded and some removed the towels they had around their waists. They walked up to their stalls and turned on their showers.
‘’Here, thought you could use this.’’ Bolt handed Bark a rather larger bottle of shampoo. Bark had a tendency to go through a lot of this stuff.
Bark smiled and handed Bolt the dog shampoo and then proceeded to shower without any more trouble.
Suddenly all the other boys started to scratch and groan. ‘’What the hell?!’’ Several yelled out at the amazing itch attack.
Bolt laughed loudly and strolled out of the shower, ‘’ You have a lot to learn about pranks. The master is unbeatable.’’ He left the boys to their unquenchable itching and Bark to get clean for his day.
In a dark room, far away from societies attention, sat a darkly dressed man. Still healing from his debacle in Korea, he had one objective in mind. Torture, study, and kill the half dog man who destroyed his plans. He knew perfectly well that his fellow members of the secret society were not going to sit around too long. They would find other ways to retrieve the dog man and study him. No, this was his job, and he would take pleasure in making that boy beg for death.
After a long quiet time to consider his plans, he activated a computer panel and accessed a private coded signal to the ULH spacestation.
The screen came on, but the image was fuzzed out to protect the person being contacted. The person on the other end started with a question, “ Are you really making this offer to me?”
The dark suited man smiled, “ Yes. Get me the dog man and I will make you rich.”
‘’ No one wants off this station and away from these idiots more than I, but I don’t think that I can simply kidnap a student and make it off of this station unnoticed. The kind of security around here is…”
“Pointless to worry about.” The darkly dressed man finished the thought, “ Listen, I have a plan that will rid us of the ULH, make you wealthy beyond your wildest imagination, and bring me my prize.”
“ I am all ears.’’
‘’ _Barks Journal, Day 4 of my first semester: I had a wonderful date last night with Frost. She is a wonderful person to have in my life. I know this is puppy love, but it is wonderful. Oh, that was a terrible pun.
Anyway, The General and half of the staff, who are not instructors, are all down on earth at a summit in London about security and other boring stuff. He said that the students and instructors would probably not be sent on any field missions for a couple weeks. Fine by me. I need time to study, my teachers are strict and have high expectations. My favorite class of the classroom stuff is technology of villainy. Red Fury, the instructor of this class, is a strange and very militant type of man. He is huge, as in his body is mostly muscle. He has fiery red hair and a temper to match. But, no one in the ULH, and possibly on earth, knows as much about weapon technology as Red Fury. Today we are going to the museum vault to look at some of the more infamous devices used by villains in the past. If we are an obedient class, instructor Red will let us take a few weapons into the simulation chamber and see how well they work.
I was awoken rudely this morning. Someone had replicated a collar that looked almost like mine and a pair of underwear that I have never seen before and hung them on the handle of my room door. There was also a note that said ‘busy getting laid, don’t bother’ . Of course the ULH has strict rules against that sort of activity among the students, and Frost and I obey that rule….even against our own urges. But, Coach Thrasher was not amused. He yelled the rules at me for about ten minutes and then stomped off. I didn’t say anything, knowing it would probably not have gotten through the barrage of yelling, but I could smell Green Scream all over that stuff being shoved in my face. I can handle some good humor pranks, and even some rude taunting, but trying to get me in trouble is going too far. I don’t know what to do, but I am going to do something_. ‘’
‘’ Okay, we are going into the museum now. I want you all to shut up and listen to me. I don’t want to have to talk over any of ya brats.Come on!’’ Red Fury wasn’t known for tact, but he was a good teacher. He inspired fear among his students.
Bark followed the crowd. Next to him, and one of the most important reasons why he loved this class so much, was Frost. They held hands and walked together like a couple of dating teenagers. Fortunately for Bark, Frost hadn’t taken the class yet and this gave them something to do together. Otherwise, they only saw each other during the training sessions and after class.
The class walked into a large, highly secure room that was designed a lot like an indoor zoo. Only, the wild animals here were weapons of mass destruction. Behind thick Plexiglas windows, highly charged force fields, invisible laser sensor nets, and hi def video surveillance cameras, were huge guns, gauntlets and other devices that once wrecked the day of the on duty superhero.
The first one that Bark and Frost could see was a bronze colored pair of gauntlets that were covered in strange computer components. One could easily see long, thin cords with piercing needles on the inside. These gauntlets not only went over the hands and forearms, but they burrowed deep into the tissue to give the controller more control.
‘’ Move it, furbag.’’ The sour tone of Green Scream came up behind Frost and Bark. The boy literally walked between them to break the handhold they had. He almost pushed Bark over as he passed to get a better look at the gauntlets.
Bark snarled and his voice box said, ‘’ *Expletive disallowed*.’’ This, of course, made Frost snicker. The device Dr. Glyph designed would not let Bark swear, as that was supposed to be against ULH station rules.
‘’ Oh, don’t worry about him. He is just jealous that you have a girl.’’ Frost took Barks hand again and smiled at him, to get him to smile as well.
Bark grinned and his voice box said, ‘’ *I have the prettiest girl on the station*.’’
‘’ Uhg, I think I am going to vomit!’’ Green Scream stated loudly.
‘’What the hell is going on over here?!’’ The grisly Instructor came through the group to find out who was talking while he was teaching.
Green Scream spoke before Barks box could get the words out. ‘’They are getting all lovey dovey back here while we are trying to listen to you.’’
Red Fury glared at Bark and Frost, ‘’ Pay attention. Or you won’t get to fire any weapons during the demonstration later. Now, let me finish about the Gauntlets of Hephaestus.’’ He walked back over to the first exhibit while Green Scream smirked at Bark. Red Fury explained, ‘’ Okay, listen up. These are the gauntlets of Hephaestus; they were designed by Dr. Gore twenty years ago. They have the ability to bond with the user and give him or her the ability to control metal within a kilometer radius of him. Extraordinarily dangerous, these nearly caused a third world war. Fortunately they were stopped by Bastion. Now, onto the hallucinator. This device was used to cause several world leaders to hand over the control of their governments to….’’ He walked on to talk about the strange head shaped device that had a huge ruby implanted on the forehead.
Bark and Frost moved on with the group, sticking to the back of the crowd.
‘’ *I can’t stand him. He is a…Expletive disallowed*.’’ Bark exclaimed as he and Frost walked through the ULH station after class period.
Frost nodded, ‘’ Whatever you were trying to say, I agree. But, you have to understand that people have problems, sometimes they don’t understand themselves why they do what they do. Maybe he had a dog bite him when he was a kid.’’
Bark rolled his eyes. ‘’ *Not funny*.’’
Frost shook her head, ‘’ You know what I mean. He might just be facing some kind of problem in him that is lashing out at you.’’ She always tried to see the better side of people.
‘’ *Well, I wish he would talk to a counselor or a shrink or something. I am getting tired of it. The next time I hear a horrible remark about you or about my tail, I am going to break that oversized jaw of his*.’’
Frost stopped him, ‘’What did that green headed jerk say about me?’’ Her compassionate side vanished.
Bark smiled and gulped, he really didn’t want to repeat it. ‘’ *Uh, just forget it. It isn’t important to talk about it. Let’s just say that he needs a good lesson in manners, and I will teach it to him if no one else does, soon*.’’
‘’ Let him know that if he insults me, or you, I am very willing to put him on ice.’’ Frost took Barks hand and walked with him toward the end of a hallway.
Bark was laughing now.
Frost frowned, ‘’What did I say that was so funny?’’
Bark shrugged, ‘’ *I find it funny that my girlfriend is so dangerous. It’s scary, and a little sexy*.’’
‘’You had better believe it. I am not some wilting flower, I am a superhero, and I am willing to prove it to any…uh, expletive, that mistreats you.’’ Now she was making a joke.
Bark stopped at a large door to the room at the dead end of the hall. ‘’*Okay, let’s stop fuming over him. Do you want to come in?*’’
Frost shook her head, ‘’No, I need to study for my astrophysics exam. Just give me a kiss and remind me who is the better man around here.’’ She gave him a smile that would make just about any male around her want to kiss her.
Bark did not need much encouragement. He took her in his arms and gave her a great kiss. Yes, they neck like teenagers, and they deserve too. Though, at times they forget themselves and where they are.
Frost separated herself from his face and licked her lips. ‘’Wow, what a tongue.’’
Bark was wagging his tail, ‘’ *You know it*.’’
‘’Oh, how cute. It is nice to see young people in love.’’ An old ladies voice broke the romantic moment.
Bark and Frost turned to see the door they had approached was open and a little old Japanese woman was standing there smiling at them warmly.
Bark bowed his head, ‘’*Sensei*.’’
The old woman bowed back to him. ‘’ Inu-chan. Please, I have been waiting for you.’’ She held out a hand for him to come into the little dojo.
Frost let go of her man and waved to them. ‘’Have fun.’’
‘’*Always*.’’ Bark said, then walked in with the little old lady.
The room seemed distant from the rest of the station. It was not what most would expect to find on the hi-tech headquarters of the ULH. It was designed to appear much like a dojo in Japan, down to faux sunlight coming in through the windows and the gentle sound of a small creek outside the door. This was the dojo of the grand master Toshi. No one, even Toshi, knew how old she was. The most anyone could determine was that she was probably around 800. She does not speak of how she has aged for so long, but no one questions her abilities. For such a small, frail looking, old woman, she is the most highly trained martial artist in the known universe. When the ULH summoned the best and brightest to teach the heroes of tomorrow, she answered the call and gave her requirements. The General agreed and Toshi joined the ULH at its founding.
Students are not required to take class from her; in fact she does not even post the class for sign up anywhere. She usually explores the newest incoming members and when she finds one worthy of her training, she will approach them and make her offer. Only a complete fool would turn down this offer. When she saw Bark sitting in the mess only days after arriving here months ago, she met him and studied him. He could not speak and she didn’t ask him to write anything down, somehow she made up her mind early to ask him to become a student. As friends were few in his early days here, he did not turn this down. He had no idea what he was getting himself into.
Bark walked into the middle of the room, knelt down to his knees and bowed as was customary.
Toshi stood back and smiled. ‘’Inu-chan, ready yourself.’’
Bark sat back up, completely unaware what she would throw at him today. Suddenly the hologram generator in the room created three warriors in black, each ready to attack him. Bark jumped up and caught a hand swung at his head. He leaned back hard and pulled the man toward him. Just as another one was about to strike, he threw the first at the second attacker and both were tossed against a wall.
The third warrior attacked with perfect Karate motions. Bark dodged each swing and did a back flip hitting the man in the chin with his feet and sent the third man into the second that was coming at him again. Just then the first man attacked and Bark caught the fist with his hands in a perfect defensive posture. He twisted his arms and body around so that he had a grip on the forearm of the warrior. With a massive heave, he threw the first man so hard that the holographic matrix exploded when he hit the wall.
The third man came again towards Bark. Bark could hear him coming and let him get close to his back. Just as the man grabbed Barks tail, he was met by several blows of Barks elbows into his ribs. With a jump twist, he kicked the man in the head and sent him down. The computer registered a complete KO and the hologram dissipated.
The last warrior ran up and assumed a perfect fighting stance. Bark assumed his own, feet spread perfectly, his hands in the defense position, and his eyes set directly on the holograms eyes. The hologram burst forward with several well placed strikes. Bark met each one with a deflective motion. This continued for a while, both stalemating the other so neither got an advantage. Bark let himself be hit several times, which hurt pretty bad. But, he got close enough to grab the hologram by the fist. With a great thrust, Bark pulled the warrior right at him. Using his palm, he struck the hologram in the face, and would have caved in his nose had this hologram not disappeared upon impact.
Toshi smiled, ‘’Good, very good Inu-chan. From now on, they will be set to something other than easy.’’
Bark was breathing hard and smiling at his victory, but his eyes bugged at the thought that this was the easy setting for the training session. He did not argue or ask anything, he just sat back down and waited for his instruction.
Toshi came up to him and sat down in front of him. ‘’ Inu-chan, you have progressed faster than most students I have ever taught. You impress me, and I dare say that is not a common thing. But, you need something if you are going to fight alongside the other Heroes. ‘’ Slowly and precisely, she set something down in front of Bark.
Bark looked down and took a moment to examine what he had.
‘’ They are called Nunchaku, a weapon from the Ryukyu kingdom, my homeland. They are clumsy and hard to use, in the wrong hands. But, with proper training, these can be more dangerous and more useful than any gun you come across. ‘’ She took the weapon out of his hand and held it out like the master she was, ‘’ This set is almost as old as I am. These are constructed from a wood that is no longer available on earth and tethered by a chain created by a dragon. They will not break, they will not scratch, and they will always obey their master. So long as he is worthy.’’
Bark bowed low to her, ‘’ *Sensei, I am not worthy of such a gift*.’’
Toshi smiled, ‘’ When will you be worthy?’’
Bark frowned, ‘’ *Can’t you tell me that?*’’
She laughed and shook her head, ‘’ Inu-chan. Your worth is measured in your heart first and foremost. If you believe yourself worthy, yet retain humility in your heart, then you are worthy. Don’t let anyone else have the right to judge that part of you before you have. No one, not even myself, has that right. Do you understand?’’
Bark smiled and bowed again, ‘’ *Yes, sensei*.’’
Toshi stood up and held out the nunchaku. ‘’ Then, Inu-chan, it is time to begin training.’’
Marshal Dae was having a bad day. But, he hardly had good days. Once again one of his devious plans for capturing and imprisoning several superheroes was thwarted. He hated the Rangers, but not as much as he hated the ULH. All superbeings should be registered and have their powers sealed away. They were a disgrace to the human kind. At least that was his personal opinion.
In his office, Dae orchestrated many plans to put these ridiculous people away. But, he never seemed to succeed. The room was littered with blue prints, files of known heroes, and maps of the world and other planets with inhabitants he wanted dealt with. While he looked over the specs of the ULH space stations security grid, he nursed an oversized cup of coffee that was hotter than hell.
‘’SUSAN!’’ He bellowed.
A terrified secretary opened the door to his office and looked in with pure fear. “Ye ..y…yes?’’
He slapped the file down on his desk. “ Find me the specs on those damned weapons platforms!’’
She cleared her throat and cautiously asked, “What platforms would those be…sir?’’
He rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to throw his coffee cup. “ The ones that protect the ULH station. I want them in my hands NOW!’’
She scurried away and took very few moments to retrieve the known data on the weapons satellites that orbit the ULH station. As fast as she could run, she came back in and handed them to him, then stood shaking while she said, “W…will there be anything else?’’
He took the file and shook his head, “ No.”
Without another word, Susan ran for her desk, thankful that she would live another day. The Marshal looked over the documents. They did not have much data on the security systems of the ULH station, other than the knowledge that a direct assault would be pointless. If an unfriendly ship barely moved within the parameter of the weapon platforms that surround the station, they would be met with about ten thousand laser emitters and five dozen proto-atomic torpedoes.
Just then a small light on the communications module on his desk started to blink. It was a signal that told him it was time to make a call. He set down the file and typed in a code. After three minutes, the dark image of a man appeared. Whoever was on the other end did not want his face to be seen, so he kept in the shadows. The image was not clear, but that was exactly what he wanted.
The man on the com channel asked, “ Did you scramble the signal like I informed you to?’’
Marshal Dae glared at the person, “ I did not get this far by making mistakes.’’
“ You haven’t gotten too far, Dae, or do you call your half assed attempts at bringing the ULH down progress?’’ his tone was mocking and cruel.
Dae slammed his fist on his desk, “ Did you want to talk to me just to taunt me?!’’
The shadowed man remained cool as a cucumber, “ No. I sent that message to you because I believe that we have a mutual desire.”
The Marshal sat back, “ I am listening.”
‘’ I know that you are willing to pay 20 million dollars for the information about the ULH. I want that money. I am on the inside and can get you what you want. And more.’’
Marshal Dae was smiling wickedly, “ More?’’
‘’ Yes. I have a plan that will hand not only the General and his staff over to you, but every single student on this station. “
Dae was understandably skeptical. “ What is your plan?’’
The shadowed man reached over and then held up a neck sized ring like device, “ With a little encouragement through mind control, I can get one of these shock collars around every student and faculty members neck. Once in place, they will be powerless to the person with the control in his hand.”
Dae was smiling again, “ Good. But, we cannot get a ship inside the security parameter of that station, and I don’t think it will be easy to get everyone to board the shuttles and fly down. It will attract a lot of attention and…”
‘’ Don’t worry about that. I will get the station outside of the parameter. Leave that to me. Do we have a deal?’’
Marshal Dae nodded, “ 20 Million for the students and..”
‘’ 40 million.”
The shadowed man put down the collar. “ Your offer is only for the high ranking people, I am literally handing you the entire ULH on a silver platter. Double your offer, or the deal is off.’’
Marshal Dae did not like dickering on price, but, this was too good a chance to pass up. After considering his options for a few seconds he nodded, “ 40 million it is. Just make sure you keep your side of the deal.’’
The shadowed man nodded back, “ I will contact you soon with more details. “ Without any further information the screen went blank and the Marshal was left to ponder the absolute beauty of being able to finally take down the damned ULH.
(If you are having trouble reading this on this page, I am simultaneously posting this on my blog. http://thunderchicken-outofmyhead.blogspot.com/
‘’ Bark’s Journal Day 5: Today, after morning classes, I am going to go for my first day of water training. I am not looking forward to it. I am not sure why, but a part of me simply does not want to get submersed in water. But, according to Coach Thrasher, all heroes must have a working knowledge of swimming and possibly fighting underwater. I am not going to train in water fighting yet as that entails a lot of special lessons and can be dangerous without the proper experience. Today is just to test how much I know and what I need to learn in basic swimming.
Later, I am going to see Dr. Glyph for a final mental scan. He hopes that he can finally dig up the rest of my memories. I am very excited. I want to be able to remember my parents, and my childhood. But Tobias told me to prepare myself for the worse. It is likely that he won’t be able to retrieve much more. Regardless I will keep my hopes up. ‘’
Bark and Frost walked through the station. They were comparing notes about classes. Most of the classes that Bark was taking at this time Frost had already completed. She was trying to prepare him for the tests and the work he had ahead from these teachers. Bark was trying to pay attention, but his eyes continuously looked around and there was a worried expression on his face.
‘’ Bark, if you don’t memorize the periodic table for Dr. Staton, than you won’t….what are you looking for?’’ Frost had gotten tired of looking at the back of his head.
He looked back at her with a worried expression. ‘’ Peaches.’’ He frowned and tapped his vocal processor. ‘’ Green Scream.’’ The right words came out now.
Frost frowned, ‘’Him? What in heaven’s name would you want to find him for?’’
Bark stopped and his ears turned independently of each other, scanning the sounds around them. The frown on his face deepened. ‘’ I can’t find him.’’
‘’ Well, good riddance. Who needs that jerk.’’ Frost walked onward with Bark in tow.
Bark shook his head, and smiled. ‘’I guess I am just being paranoid. That guy has been harassing me so much that when he doesn’t , I get nervous. ‘’
Frost shrugged, ‘’Maybe he decided to leave you alone?’’
Bark hrumphed, ‘’ Or maybe he is setting up a dandy. I have to be on my guard.’’
Frost was about to say something when she noticed the security bots and several of the instructors were all standing around the entrance to the lower levels. There was a sign blocking the door that said ‘Not admittance until further notice.’
Bark frowned, ‘’What do you think is going on Pizza.’’ He frowned and corrected his sentence, ‘’There?’’
Frost shook her head, ‘’ I don’t know. Let’s check it out.’’ She and Bark walked over to the chunky security bots, the same design as the training bots used to teach and test students.
The automated security bot held up a hand like appendage. ‘’ No admittance until further notice.’’ Its tone was not entirely unlike Barks vocal box.
Frost leaned over to look around the bot, ‘’Did someone get hurt?’’
‘’No admittance until further notice.’’ It stated again.
Just then Dr. Glyph came out looking at a computer tablet with details written onto it. ‘’Droid 773, alert the General to what was stolen and advise the stations sensor sweeps to be on the lookout.’’ The bot blocking their path processed its orders and then left to find a communications terminal.
Bark came up to the doctor, ‘’ Dr. Tobias, what is going sausage here?’’ he let out a small growl at the failings of his vocal system.
Tobias frowned knowing that the device he had designed wasn’t working right. He answered the question. ‘’ It seems that the museum was broken into last night. A thief made off with several very dangerous weapons.’’
Frost was shocked, ‘’ I thought that the museum was highly protected?’’
Tobias nodded, ‘’It is…or really was. We found a scrambler attached to the door lock. I don’t know who could have made it, but it is a very advanced piece of technology. It rendered all of the security systems useless.’’
Bark had to ask, ‘’Why didn’t the thief popcorn corndogs….’’ He frowned and pointed at his vocal processor.
Tobias handed his computer tablet to Frost and then removed Barks collar. Detaching the back of the voice box, he pressed a button. ‘’You have to reset this thing each morning or it will start to translate your latent thoughts. My guess is that you two are heading for lunch?’’
Frost smiled and nodded, ‘’ Yeah, he gets pretty hungry.’’
Tobias replaced the back and reached around to put the collar back on Bark. ‘’ Makes sense, his metabolism is almost three times that of a normal human. He probably gets hungry all the time.’’ The doctor stepped back and took his pad from Frost. ‘’Okay, is it working properly now?’’
Bark looked up and thought aloud. ‘’ Why didn’t the thief take this scrambler with him?’’ he smiled at the thought having been translated properly without random words.
Tobias smiled and then answered the question. ‘’ My guess is that the scrambler has a limited amount of time. The thief probably ran out of time grabbing the items and had to leave it behind or be caught. ‘’ The doctor looked at Bark with a smile, “ Wait, maybe you can help. Bot 7090, bring the evidence over here.’’
Bark frowned, “ Me? Do you think I had something to do with this?’’
Another security bot came up with a small device about the size of a tennis ball. It had four arms with needles coming out of each. Tobias held it up, “ This is the scrambler. See if you can smell anyone else on it besides myself.”
Bark shrugged and leaned over. He closed his eyes and sniffed the device. It was an amazing thing having the ability to detect odors like this, though it could prove problematic at times when other students decide to eat broccoli and leave interesting odors for him to find. After a few moments of sniffing, Bark looked at the doctor. “ I can smell you on it and nothing else of value. “
The doctor nodded, “ Just as I thought. The thief probably used gloves to keep his prints and his scent off of it.”
Bark shook his head, “ If the thief had it close to him, then I could still smell him. Just because he wears gloves doesn’t mean it protects from his odor. This thief was smart enough to realize that they had to keep from any detection whatsoever. “
Frost asked what everyone else would ask of Tobias, ‘’Can’t you scan the station with your thoughts and find the thief? I doubt any ships have left since yesterday.’’
‘’I have tried, several times. One of the items stolen can block telepathy. The thief was smart enough to realize that much as well. But, we do have some evidence. That scrambler will hopefully provide something.’’
‘’Check Green Scream.’’ Bark immediately stated.
Tobias frowned, ‘’What?’’
Frost took Barks arm, ‘’Now, don’t start pointing fingers just because you don’t like the guy.’’
Bark nodded, ‘’I am not just being mean. This is logic. I haven’t seen him much today, and he seemed more than interested in a few of the devices when our class went yesterday.’’
Tobias thought about that, then made a note on his pad, ‘’Okay. I will follow up on that. I doubt any students would be involved with something as terrible as this. But, it would be better to get his alibi just in case. ‘’
Frost asked, ‘’ Will we all have to provide an alibi?’’
Tobias grinned at them with a sneaky expression. ‘’ Yes. But, at the time this happened, I distinctly recall seeing the two of you sitting in the arboretum, necking like a couple of sixteen year olds.’’
Frost blushed, ‘’Oh, you saw us?’’
Tobias nodded, ‘’Yup. The windows around that place aren’t covered, and I could see a tail wagging, even two stories up. ‘’
Bark was smiling nervously, ‘’ Well, at least you have our alibi.’’
Dr. Glyph had a security bot approaching him with another pad. He waved them off, ‘’ Go, have a nice lunch. Remember, Bark, plenty of protein for you. And, Bark, don’t be late this evening for your final mental scan. ‘’
‘’ I wouldn’t miss it for the world. ‘’ He and Frost left the doctor and the other instructors to their investigation. It made both of them nervous to think that there was someone on the station capable and willing to do such a thing. And the fact that he or she was in possession of very dangerous weapons was no comfort at all.
Bark walked through the sports area of the ULH station. This was a place for both training and relaxation. There were weight rooms with weights that even challenged some of the super strong. A large indoor holo-arena that could be programmed to simulate just about any sporting field needed. There was a large pool that was often used after hours for recreational swimming. During the day it was used to train heroes in how to rescue and fight in deep water conditions.
Today, coach Thrasher was running some of the new students through basic swimming courses. He wanted to see what they knew and where they might need help before heading into the difficult stuff.
‘’ I don’t see why you don’t just wear that in the pool?’’ Bolt, in a skimpy mens briefs style swimsuit, stood next to Bark.
Bark had just gotten to the small locker he used in the mens locker room. ‘’ This suit might be fine in the water, and it certainly looks like what you are wearing. But, I have to wear it all day. If I get it soaking wet, then I will be sitting on a wet suit until it has time to dry out.’’ Bark opened his locker and frowned. He couldn’t see the skin tight shorts he was provided.
Bolt shrugged and sat on the bench, ‘’ Well, you will have to practice wearing that thing wet someday. What if you have to do a water rescue, or you meet up with some kind of swamp monster? You can’t make them wait while you change.’’
Bark slipped off his usual attire, while his eyes continued to scan the locker for something. ‘’ I still don’t understand why I have to wear this small suit all the time while I am in this school. I can handle a pair of regular shorts. It’s not like I am fighting crime up here. And I can change whenever we do physical training and not just classwork.’’
Bolt laughed, ‘’ Hey, you think I like wearing the one piece everywhere.’’
Bark put his normal costume into the locker and pulled out what he had at first thought was a dusting rag or handkerchief. ‘’ Yeah, but you do run around using your powers here. That suit can handle the friction. It’s not like these briefs are designed to handle my powers or anything. ‘’
Bolt leaned back on his elbows. ‘’ Well, you heard the General on your first day, just like everyone else. We have to keep our costumes on all the time. We will fight for our lives in them, we have to be used to them. Or at least that is how he always says it.’’
Bark turned and looked deep into his locker, as if getting an inch away from the shelf would make something appear that wasn’t there a moment ago, “ How can I lose something that I got yesterday?’’ He was muttering to himself, though the voice box didn’t really mutter.
Bolt looked up at Barks head, “ So, why did you get your hair cut short like this?”
Bark returned to examining the white cloth in his hands, “ Frost asked me to get my hair cut. I like it short, kind of makes me feel more human around here.”
Bolt nodded, “ yeah, it does look more normal. Though the long hair gave you a Fabio appearance that seemed to attract a few of the more romantic girls. I can’t tell you how many of them I heard whispering about you when you first arrived. Though, most of them were put off a little by the tail and fur. “ Bolt had watched Bark examine the strange little white cloth for a few minutes. ‘’What is that?’’
Bark had a sudden realization that what he was holding where a pair of men’s skimpy swimming bikinis. His eyebrows frowned and he looked up, ‘’Just wait until I get my claws on that green headed jerk. ‘’
‘’Huh?’’ Bolt asked, not quite catching on.
Bark held out the strip of cloth that had replaced his bathing suit, ‘’It’s a prank. Someone replaced my trunks with this.’’
Bolt was attempting to contain his laughter at this particular prank. ‘’ Uh, well, try em on. ‘’
Bark was about to tell Bolt exactly what he thought of that idea when a huge, four armed man in a coaches outfit stormed in. ‘’BARK!! Get your furry butt out to the pool, ON THE DOUBLE!’’ Coach Thrasher was never an indirect man.
Bark held up the briefs in his hand, ‘’But, Coach, this isn’t my normal suit. ’’
The Coach came up, his face seemingly painted red with the amount of yelling he did every day. ‘’I DON’T CARE. I DON’T HAVE TIME TO PLAY PICK THE BATHING SUIT!! PUT IT ON AND GET OUT THERE…NOW!!!!!’’ Without another bellow, Thrasher left the locker room to take his place at the side of the pool.
Bolt shrugged, ‘’I guess you don’t have any options. Unless you want to wear your normal costume out there.’’
Bark was sneering at the suit in his hands, ‘’ I might as well go out there naked.’’
Bolt smiled and pretended to give Bark an examining look. ‘’ Well, I guess Frost wouldn’t mind. But, I don’t think that Thrasher will be pleased with the extra tail wagging around.’’
Bark held the skimpy suit and thought about that. He had swam in his regular costume before. It really held water well. He had chafed in ways he thought a furry body couldn’t. So, against his personal choice of fashion, he slid on the swim suit. He felt like he was trying to store golf balls in a rubber band.
Bolt attempted to be encouraging, ‘’ Uh, well, at least you won’t have to worry about the suit putting a drag on your swimming. That is if it doesn’t come off with the first dive in.’’
Bark put his hands behind him, pulled the elastic of the briefs up slightly and then Bolt heard a distinctive ripping sound. With a little fidgeting, Bark pushed his tail through the small hole he had cut with his claw. If anything, this would at least keep them from sliding off.
Bolt cocked his head and asked, “ You feel almost naked in this, yet you don’t seem to mind walking around in hardly much more.’’
Bark picked up his normal attire and tapped the hard inner lining against the metal locker door. “ With this built in cup, and a natural fur coat, I really don’t feel that naked. With this little swim suit, I am showing…”
Bolt looked away and finished the sentence, “ too much.”
Bark let out a sigh in disgust, “ Maybe I should just take a bad grade for today and wait until tomorrow.”
“ Oh, just get it over with. If any of the guys decide to make fun of you, they will have to deal with me. I am, after all, an instructor around here and have many means of punishment at my disposal.” Bolt stood up and laughed, with a friendly attitude. “ Come on.”
Bark removed his vocal collar and put it in the locker. Then they walked out of the locker room. Bark had a sour look on his face the whole time. Just as they turned the corner from the locker room to head to the pool, both were surprised with a flash of light.
Bark let out a ‘Bark’ and Bolt was looking around at green dots. ‘’What on earth?’’
Both looked ahead expecting to see Green Scream, but instead found Frost. She was smiling and looking at the picture on her phone. ‘’Wow, that’s nice.’’
Bark frowned at her. He could not speak normally since his collar was back in the locker. ‘Woof!’
Frost shrugged and smiled, ‘’ Hey, Bolt isn’t the only one who can pull good pranks around here. And, with this picture, I will enjoy this one for a long, long time to come.’’
Bark started to smile. He liked the way she admired his body, what man wouldn’t, and at least it wasn’t Green Scream. Before he could respond with anymore dog noises, a loud ‘’BARK!!! GET OUT HERE NOW!!! OR I’LL THROW YOU IN THE POOL BY THAT TAIL OF YOURS!!!!’’
Bolt was a little shaken, ‘’uh, better get a move on, Thrasher didn’t earn his name lightly.’’
Bark nodded and ran for the pool.
Frost stood next to Bolt and watched her dog running away. “ He sure has a cute butt. ”
Bolt rolled his eyes, “ Not exactly something I look at.”
Frost was about to go and watch her scantily dressed man swim around, but she paused and looked back at Bolt. “ Wait, all the swim tests today are for the new students. The only instructor at the poolside is Thrasher.”
Bolt nodded, “ Yeah, so?’’
Frost looked at the fact that he was almost as naked as Bark. “ So, what are you planning? A photo shoot for a pin up calendar?’’
Bolt smiled like the incorrigible flirt that he was. ‘’ Just giving the ladies something to admire while I sit by the pool.” He sashayed off with a cock-of-the-walk attitude.
‘’ So, how has the investigation been going?’’ Bark asked while he sat on the bed in the infirmary.
Tobias shook his head, “ Unfortunately, nowhere. We have looked into everything and found nothing. The device attached to the security system was a bust.”
Bark looked around to see if they were alone. Fortunately, Tobias usually cleared this part of the infirmary before he did his mental scans with Bark. “ Doctor, did anything interesting come up from Green Scream?’’ There was a touch of hope in this request, as Bark wanted to be done with this person.
Tobias shook his head, “ No. His alibi checked out. Several of his friends saw him eating in the court at the time of the burglary.’’
Bark frowned, “But that was so late? “
“ I guess he had a late dinner. But, that does eliminate him as a suspect. As I said, I doubt any of the students would pull such a job, especially one as professional as this one. Now, let’s forget about that and focus on you.” The doctor sat in a short chair near Bark and held up a computer tablet to take notes. “ Have you had any breakthroughs recently? Any memories resurfacing?’’
Bark shook his head, “ No. It has been a while since I recalled anything new.”
“ Okay. Sit forward and closed your eyes.” Tobias sat down and looked at the man on the table. He put his hands on the furry head and closed his eyes. “ I want you to focus your thoughts on the memories you do have and let me go deeper.”
They sat like this for twenty minutes. Barks face got more and more cringed while Tobias seemed to be sweating. Every detail of every memory that Bark had recalled, even some memories he had made since the blackout, were combed through by the doctor. Bark had no secrets from this man.
Tobias fought and fought to dig deeper. He gripped Barks head so hard that Bark suddenly, and without warning, pushed Tobias away.
Tobias sat up and took a few deep breaths. “ I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Bark was shaking his head, “ No, it’s okay.”
The doctor got up and looked at the dog-man, “ I am sorry, Bark, but your memories are buried too deep. Your mind is much more resistant to telepathy than anyone I have ever encountered.”
Bark was a little distraught. He wanted to remember his parents, if he had any siblings, where he came from. “ But, I didn’t resist you?’’
Tobias took a small towel and wiped his forehead. “ You did, but not on purpose. Your mind was altered in a unique way by Dr. Osten. The design was to wipe out all of your memory and higher thinking and replace it with programmed obedience. The primitive side of your mind, the side that can help you register scents the rest of us are oblivious to and separate out the sounds that only a dog can hear, that side is like a barrier against my telepathy. If I dig too deep, and work too hard, it could do permanent brain damage to you, leaving you more dog like and less human. I am not willing to do that. Unfortunately, Bark, you will have to live with the fact that you have holes in your memories.”
Bark let out a sigh and looked down, “ It’s not fair.’’
Tobias tried to put a positive spin on this. “ At least you have a resistance that is very powerful. You could prove useful against telepathic enemies. They won’t be able to control you and probably won’t be able to steal thoughts from you. I am one of the most powerful telepaths on this station, and it takes extreme concentration on my part to retrieve even recent memories out of your mind. “
Bark didn’t smile, but he stopped frowning, “ I guess that is good.’’
Tobias put a hand on Barks shoulder, “ After the museum theft is solved and everything settles down a little, I bet we can convince The General to open a small investigation on your behalf. We can use what we already know about your past and do some research. We might be able to piece some stuff together for you. “
Now Bark did smile. “ Thanks. That would be great.” Bark thought about something and then asked, “ While I am here, do you want that picture of me from the back?’’
Dr. Glyph frowned and seemed completely lost as to what Bark was talking about, “ Come again?’’
Bark gave the doctor a frank expression, “ Do you want a picture of me from the back, like the one you had taken of me from the front?”
Again Tobias was lost, “ I don’t have any pictures of you. My data is in the scans and charts.”
“ Wait, after I joined the school, I had a physical examine by one of those robot nurses. It said that you require a naked photo of the patients who have unique biology’s, so that you can study them. I had one taken from the front, and that robot said that I would have another taken later, but I was late and there were several others waiting for their exams.”
It took Tobias a moment to understand what Bark was talking about. Then it hit him and he let out an annoyed sigh. “ Sorry about that. About a year ago, Professor Tinker used one of my robot nurses to teach a class on Advanced A.I. programming. He programmed the nurse to act like a hormonal 16 year old girl. Ever since then that nurse has been the worst sort of flirt imaginable. I think that Tinker finds it amusing, considering he keeps finding reasons to not remove the blasted programming. Bark, I am sorry.”
Bark frowned with an almost angry expression. “ You mean that I was some sort of pin up boy for a hormonal robot?’’
Tobias contained a little laughter at the humor in that. “ Probably, but don’t worry. She doesn’t spread any of this around. I suspect that the photo was probably saved into her processor so that she could recall it internally whenever she wants to satisfy her need to gaze upon the male body. “
Bark shook his head, “ Just make sure that picture is deleted. I would hate for that to accidentally get out. Especially with some of the students around who enjoy teasing me.”
Tobias was about to say something else when his communications window opened on the computer tablet. He read it with a humorous smile. “ Well, it looks like you have a date waiting for you.’’
Bark cleared his throat. “ Did Frost contact you about our date?’’
Tobias showed him the tablet with a small message window open that read, ‘Tell that fleabag to get to the theater, the movie starts in two minutes-Frost’ “ You two have been a couple for over a month and you still go on nightly dates?’’
Bark hopped down from the table with an eager smile, “ She scratches my ears and rubs my belly, and we neck like there’s no tomorrow. Why shouldn’t I want to see her every night?’’
Tobias laughed, “ I guess that primitive side has its benefits. Now, go, or you will miss your movie.’’
‘’ Like I will watch the movie?’’ Bark retorted and ran off, leaving the doctor to his reports.
Tobias waited until the door shut and then he stood up and yelled out, “CYNTHIA!’’ the name of the robot nurse with the nude photo of Bark stored in her data banks.
In a dark part of the station is a room that few use much. If anyone wanted to make use of it now, they would find the door sealed shut by a sophisticated locking device. Inside a person worked in the dark. There was a replication device that was considered illegal to be operating without a proper license, which this person did not have. Pressing a few buttons on it, it lit up and materialized another shock collar designed much like the ones stolen from the museum vault. He would need a lot to make his plans work out.
Suddenly a small computer device beeped and lit up showing him a message. It stated ‘ULH 1 transport docking at port five. Staff Returning.’ The man smiled and checked the lists of passengers. To his delight, the rest of the ULH hierarchy were coming to the station tonight. Things were going excactly as planned.
‘’Barks Journal Day 7. The station is practically on lock down. The staff are returning from their briefings and meetings around the world. Although I haven’t seen The General or Solstice, or even Bolt for that matter in a couple days. The items that were stolen from the museum have not been found and the idea of them running around the station is putting a lot of pressure on everyone. The only stolen item that I know of from rumors is a large case of shock collars that were not even on display, they were in lock up. I know that there were several highly dangerous items on display that went missing as well, and that scares the hell out of me.
For now I am trying to focus on class work and practicing with Toshi Sensei every day. I would be taking Frost out after my practicing, but all students have been told they cannot leave their quarters unless they have class or a training session, and even then we must be traveling with an instructor.
Today I have an exam in Tech of Villainy, and I am going to have a darkness course in the training hall. Of course my day is topped off with the three hour martial art training with Toshi Sensei. She has been really pushing me in the techniques and styles of using the nunchaku. I like the weapon, it looks clumsy, but it can be a very precise instrument of fighting. ‘’
Bark and Frost had finished their exam in the classroom and were sitting in the back with the other early finishers to wait for the rest of the class. Usually when students finish a test, they can leave to go and grab a bite to eat or just stroll around until their next class. But not right now.
‘’ What’s with the sticks?’’ Frost pointed to the ancient pair of nunchaku sitting on Barks desk.
Bark picked up the weapon and held it between his hands in the proper fighting fashion. ‘’They are not sticks, but lethal weapons from ancient Japan. Toshi Sensei has been teaching me how to use them.’’
Frost smiled at him, ‘’ I know that. You have told me a few times now. But why do you have them here? You don’t go to the Dojo until 2.’’
Bark shrugged, “ I am not all that good at hand to hand combat and I don’t have superpowers like you. So, if we run across any trouble I at least have these.’’ He smiled holding them up again.
Frost laughed, “ Yeah. A laser cannon has nothing on…wood.’’
‘’Hey, these aren’t just wood. Used properly they become an extension of my body. They are deadly and they can disarm even the most dangerously armed people around. HA!’’ He threw his arm out, letting one of the two wooden rods fling out, though it was chained together so it didn’t go flying across the room.
Just then both Frost and Bark saw Red Fury stomping toward them. He glared at Bark and as quietly as he could muster, which isn’t saying much for this brute, he said, “ Keep it down!’’
Frost and Bark both nodded and said, ‘’Sorry.’’
Red Fury returned to his desk looking like he really, really wanted to rip someone’s head off, anyone would do.
Bark tapped his vocal processor to turn it off and then wrote on a piece of paper, since the processor really didn’t have a good volume control. He handed the paper to her.
She blushed and shook her head, ‘’ Yeah, I think that he would notice if we're necking back here.’’
Bark frowned and gave her the most pitiful puppydog face imaginable, even whimpering a little.
Frost shook her head and whispered, “ Patience makes the heart grow fonder. ‘’
He whimpered more.
She reached up and scratched behind one of his ears. “ Oh Bark, it has only been one day since we haven’t been able to go out. You will live. Besides, just imagine the moment when we can finally go on a date again, your furry warm body pressed up against my cold, smooth body. Our lips meet in an embrace that will last seemingly forever. Then…’’
Bark put a hand on her knee and shook his head. He was practically panting. Quickly grabbing the paper he wrote something down and then showed it to her. She chuckled at what he said but did not reply, as it could get a little dirty.
Deciding to not torture Bark any further, Frost changed the subject. “ Have you seen Green Scream?’’
Bark nodded and pointed to the guy still taking his test.
Frost nodded with a sour face. “ I don’t know how, but he has been put on the security details. I thought that fourth years were the only ones being put on the details.’’
Bark thought for a long moment and then took the paper and wrote on it.
She read it and shook her head, ‘’ No, he simply cannot be responsible for the theft. Don’t you think that the General would have all of the students selected for security mentally scanned. You have got to put your feelings aside about him, I don’t like him either but that does not make him a criminal. He is a hero, too. Arrogant, but still a Hero.’’
Just then Red Fury yelled out, ‘’ THAT’S IT, TEST IS OVER. HAND ‘EM IN’’
Bark tapped his vocal processor now that they could talk a little louder, ‘’ Why is it that half of my instructors here are muscle bound loud mouths? Red Fury is almost as bad as coach Thrasher.’’
Frost nodded in agreement. ‘’ I think they want a bit of a boot camp atmosphere. Also, most of the first year instructors have to deal with the ego of new heroes.’’
Just then Green Scream spoke from behind Bark, ‘’ Not everyone comes like a dog with his tail tucked. Students arriving at the ULH are new to their powers and feel a real ego boost for having them. These instructors need to deal with that kind of ego. Unfortunately, not everyone has built in confidence like me, without the brash ego, like your girlfriend there.’’
Bark stood up and gave Green Scream a threatening growl. ‘’ Watch it, spinach head, or I’ll rip that confidence right out from between your legs.’’
Green Scream returned the glare with an overly confident, arrogant gaze. “ You wouldn’t last five seconds against my soundwaves. Those mutt ears would be busted before you even knew what you were hearing.’’ Suddenly he shivered from a small, but potent cold blast.
Frost stood next to her man and smiled at Green Scream, ‘’ Try anything and you will be an icicle.’’
Green Scream shook off the cold and stared at Frost, ‘’ Watch it girl, we will be inspecting your quarter level tonight. I would hate to find something.’’
Bark showed fangs and growled harder. Fortunate for everyone, Red Fury yelled, ‘’GREEN SCREAM, GET UP HERE, YOU’RE THE ESCORT!!’’
Green Scream shot Frost and Bark a last smug glance and then left to take up his place as part of the escort team for the students.
Bark snarled, ‘’If that man is a Hero, than I am a kitten.’’
Frost laughed at that, ‘’ Well, you do have a tail.’’
Bark didn’t find that funny, “ I don’t like him. I don’t trust him. And I simply cannot stand the thought of him being in your quarters. It makes me…makes me….’’ He let out a bark and growl at Green Screams direction.
Frost reached over and took one of his hands. ‘’ Calm down. Trust me. He won’t find anything, and if he tries anything he shouldn’t, I will teach him a cold, cold lesson. He may be a big mouth, but he can be frozen just like everyone else.’’
Bark cooled off and smiled at her. He took up her hand and kissed the back of it with a little passion. Then he looked up into her eyes with those puppy eyes of his. ‘’ Until tomorrow my sweet.’’ He loved to turn on the charm.
Unfortunately, Red Fury came up at that moment. He snarled at the sight of the hand kissing. ‘’Gah, you two make me sick sometimes. Get in line, you’re holding up the class.’’
Ladybug watched her screen in the operations center. The screen showed the normal readings she looked at every single day. On the screen was the normal satellite traffic of earth that the station had to avoid, the satellites that they used and monitored, and of course the stationary defense platforms that maintained a security parameter of the station. Only once in a great while did something come up that lit up her screen. Usually it would be a piece of space junk that was big enough that it might require one of the platforms to destroy it before it crashed into part of the station. Those exciting days came about once every three months, if she was lucky.
She was not prepared for what showed up at that moment. A red dot appeared on the screen and there was a flashing icon near it. She tapped the icon and one of the sensors on the station scanned the object that just triggered an alert. If she was lucky, it was a piece of space junk that could make for a little excitement. No, it wasn’t junk, it was a ship.
“A SHIP!” She burst out saying this, then calmed down.
The General had been watching the reports from all over the station from the different investigatory teams. Her outburst caught his attention and he turned around and looked up to the station where she sat. “Ladybug, report?”
The small girl cleared her throat and answered, “ There appears to be a….uh…ship, I think, on my sensors?”
He frowned and walked up to her station, “A ship…you think.”
“ There is a large object that is not showing a natural orbital pattern. It is too large to be a satellite. It isn’t in range yet to be fully scanned, should I send a standard hail?” Her normal duties were communications afterall.
The General frowned and looked at her screen, “ A ship? What kind of ship?” he was talking to himself. Standing back up he was about to order her to send the hail when Cerberus came in.
“General I have finished all my check-ups and taken care of the medical needs of the five people who are ill. I am free, what do you need me to do for the investigation?” the bald doctor didn’t stand at attention for The General, but he was a military trained man.
The General let go of the anomalous sensor reading for a second and walked Dr. Glyph down to the front of the room. He picked up a computer tablet and handed it to him, “ Check through these, get back to me as soon as you can. We really need to get his resolved quickly, I am going to have half a dozen officials jumping down my throat if I don’t hand them a suspect, or at least a positive progress report.”
Tobias smiled and took the tablet, “ Don’t worry, I will do my best. “
“ I just hope we can find whoever has done this and get him locked up. Getting back what was stolen would be nice as well. It makes me sick to think that one of our students could be behind this.” The General was fuming.
Tobias shook his head, “ I still am not certain that it was a student. I cannot think of anyone that would pull such a job. Besides, they are such a valuable asset that it would be a shame to lose any of them. “
The General huffed and shook his head again, “ Asset or not, if the culprit is a student, they are getting their butt thrown into the highest security prison known to mankind.”
“ I guess we should just wait to see what the facts produce. So, I will get to work.”
The General nodded and then looked up to Ladybug who was eagerly waiting his answer. “Oh, the ship!”
“What ship?” Tobias was confused.
Both men walked up to Ladybug, and The General first explained, “She found a ship on sensors, or maybe a ship, we aren’t certain. Ladybuy, hail it and see if it replies.”
She looked down at her screen and the blip was gone, “uh, I can’t hail it, I can’t find it.”
The General frowned and Tobias smiled, the African Telepath patted the General on the shoulder, “ Just less thing to worry about right now.”
“Sure.” The General rolled his eyes and then returned to his place at the front of the room. Cerberus left for his office and Ladybug returned to looking for space junk to shoot.
“ General, there is a call from team zeta-3.” The computer announced.
He turned to one of the small inset screens on the large viewer, two students stood in front of the camera. One restrained the arm of a student while Green Scream reported. “ We found another stolen device.”
Seeing who was being held, the General frowned and let out a soft sigh. He could not believe who they had arrested.
Bark calmly held his nunchaku at the ready. He was in the middle of the dojo with holographic enemies all around him. It was pitch black and all he had to rely on was his non-visual senses. The holograms made no smells, so his nose didn’t help him, and being programmed with the extensive martial knowledge of Toshi, they moved in near perfect silence. But, they weren’t perfect, and there was enough of a slight noise behind him that he ducked just as a bo stick missed his head by about half an inch. With a twist of his body he flung the end of the nunchaku at one of the attackers and hit him right in the gut. With another sweeping motion, he caught the guy at the knees and sent him down. The computer registered a total knockout and deleted that hologram from this simulation.
Just as Bark was repositioning himself into a defensive posture again, a bo stick hit him right in the side. He was rolled on the ground. Hearing the sound of the stick slicing through the air, he dodged two swift blows by rolling side to side. The third blow was caught in the chain between the nunchaku. Bark twisted the chain around to grasp the bo stick and pulled it from the attackers hands. He tossed it into the air, and while he was still lying on his back, he kicked the bo stick and hit the attacker in the head. Hearing the stick make contact, Bark jumped up and punched the hologram right in the face. The computer registered another knockout and this hologram was taken down.
Just as he was about to pronounce himself victor, there was blinding flash in his eyes when a third bo stick hit him right in the side of the head. He jumped back and shook his head to clear the little flashes of lights still dancing in his vision. He regained his defensive posture.
‘’Wait, I counted ten knockouts. Where did this one come from?’’
“ Computer, lights” She commanded and the room slowly lit back up. With a clever smile and a bo stick in her hand, Bark became aware of the fact that the last attacker was Toshi herself.
Bark frowned, “ Not fair.”
Toshi calmly put the staff aside and then walked over to a small table where a hot pot of tea was waiting. “ Inu-chan, no enemy fights fair. That lesson you must learn quickly. When you are faced with villains trying to destroy a government, or take over the world, they are not going to fight fairly, they are going to fight dirty. They will position themselves to have the upper hand before the battle begins. It is up to you to be ready to remove their advantage with swift skill and cunning. Next time, do not lower your guard until you are certain the enemies have been vanquished.”
Bark could never argue with her logic, she was always right. But, she was also humble. He bowed to her wisdom and then set aside his weapons so he might join her for tea. “ Sensei?’’
She was pouring a small cup of hot green tea for him, “ Yes, inu-chan?’’
“With all of your wisdom and logic, have you any idea who might have broken into the museum?’’ He sat down on the floor and took the cup of tea from her.
She poured herself a cup and answered. “ I do not worry myself with trivial matters such as this.’’
Bark frowned, “ Trivial? What was stolen could be very dangerous in the wrong hands.”
Toshi smiled and gently blew over the top of her tea, “ Inu-chan. When will you be fighting a true villain again?’’
Bark shrugged, “ I don’t know. I guess when the next villain does something.”
“ Then, why don’t you spend your days and nights worrying about that battle? Strategizing and planning the attacks and counter attacks?”
Bark was beginning to see this wisdom, “ Because, Sensei, I don’t know when that battle will be.”
“ Precisely. Inu-chan, if you spend all of your time worrying about what might be, you will forget to recognize what is. Tomorrow will be Tomorrow, there is enough worry in today. No amount of worry has added a day to the life of any man, in fact it takes much away from him. Now, how are you doing? “
He shrugged, “ Okay, I guess.’’
She smiled and sipped her very strong tea, “ How are you and your lovely girl getting along? “
Bark smiled, “ Frost and I are getting along nicely.” He gave off a small frown with a smile still on his lips. “ Why do you ask?’’
Toshi grinned, “ Simply an old Bachan hoping that you are finding happiness. You have faced so much turmoil in the short time you have been here. It is only fair to hope that some good has come of it.”
Bark smiled. Bachan is Japanese for grandmother. It was odd, but this little old lady, and monumentally talented fighter, was like a grandmother to him some times. He nodded to her, “ Thank you, Sensei, perhaps I need a Bachan in my life.’’
Just then a loud pounding could be heard at the door. “ Toshi, Bark!’’ it was the Generals voice. This was, perhaps, the only room in the entire ULH station that the General did not feel justified in entering whenever he needed. Partly it was from his respect for Toshi, and partly he knew that if she was not willing to let him come in, and he did, he would face the wrath of Toshi sensei and that is not something that anyone should desire.
Toshi got up and calmly answered the door. “ General, what is wrong?” Though her pleasant demeanor was not broken, she did see the concern written on his face.
The General stepped in and looked at Bark. “ It’s Frost.’’
Bark stood up and retrieved his nunchaku. His heart was racing but he attempted to conceal that with an ounce of calm, just like his Sensei. “ What is it?”
The General shook his head, “ She and twelve other students were found to have shock collars in their possession. Shock collars that were part of what was stolen from the museum.’’
Bark was enraged. He knew that Frost would not have anything to do with this, and he also knew that he would defend her to the last breath of his life. “ IT IS A SET UP!!’’
The General gave Bark a commanding glare, “ Cool it! Get back to quarters. We are doing a complete station sweep tonight. “
Bark knew he had better show restraint right now. The last thing he wanted anyone to think was that he was defending the criminal. The General was notoriously thorough, and he would not imprison anyone unjustly. Frost was safe so long as he was in charge and little could be done to change that around here. So, Bark nodded, “ I will return to my quarters as soon as the escort arrives.”
The General cleared his throat, “I will be your escort. Now let’s move.”
Toshi took Barks arm before he left, “ Listen, Inu-chan, stay calm and clear headed. Focus on the now and do not let worry cloud your judgment.”
Bark bowed to her, “ Yes, Sensei.” With that he and the General left for the student quarters of the station. Toshi stayed in her Dojo as this was her home as well as her training room.
Bark and several other students were led back to their quarters by the General. Bark was the last one, since the first year student quarters were the furthest away from the rest of the station.
From the moment he left the Dojo, Bark was as quiet as possible. He kept his ears and eyes open though, to see if he could learn anything about what was going on. He was certain that as a new student the critical information would not be easily doled out to him.
Bark pressed the open code to his room and looked in to find that Rich was in there already. His roommate was usually away, save sleeping time, but right now they spent a lot of time together waiting to be escorted to class.
“ Wait.’’ Bark stopped at the door and looked back at the General.
The General stopped and looked at the furry man, “ What?’’
Bark looked the General in the eyes without a flicker of guilt in his own, “ Dr. Glyph can provide an alibi for Frost and myself at the time of the theft. Beyond that, I know that Frost is innocent. “
The General nodded to Bark and quietly stated, “ Frost is a stellar student who has proven herself mission after mission. I will not believe she is guilty until it is the only truth available. Many explanations are possible and we will explore them all. Trust me, I have the students best interest at heart. For now, the best thing you can do is stay put and wait while we conduct our investigation.”
Bark smiled while taking comfort in the Generals words. “ Thank you.’’
‘’Bark’s Journal, Day 8. Well, classes have been canceled, training has been canceled, and the station is on a high level lockdown. More than one student has been taken into custody and put into a holding cell until further notice. I am worried sick about Frost, I don’t know if she is one of the students that have been put into a holding cell or not. The thought of her sitting there, scared and alone makes me want to burst out of this room and run to her side. On the other hand, a part of me wants to get out of here, find the real culprit, and teach him the meaning of pain.
Since I am spending all my time in this room, I decided that I should be practicing some of my katas and mental exercises that Toshi-sensei has taught me. Several of my instructors have sent some basic paper work that I can complete so that I can continue the classroom work while on lockdown. ‘’
‘’ Hey, Rich, your instructors have sent another pile of work for you.” Bark held up a computer tablet with fifteen message windows waiting to be opened.
Rich, a dark haired Jewish kid, laid in bed and slept longer than usual. He grunted at Bark and waved a hand that meant, ‘not now’.
Bark shrugged and set the tablet down. Then, he bent over and mounted his hands while lifting his feet into the air. Like a gymnast, he stretched his body in unique ways of twisting his legs and torso. Bark, ever the good student, had finished his homework for now and was ready to train some with his katas.
Rich came to the ULH not long before Bark. He was a cook for a very fancy restaurant in Isreal before he discovered his powers. Rich has the ability to shoot tiny poison darts from the back of his mouth. With some careful training, he has learned how to control the venom so that it can either make you sleepy, make you ill, or kill you. If he were a villain he could be a very dangerous person. But, he is a little on the lazy side and was raised by a good Jewish mother who taught him respect.
Just then the little computer screen on the lone desk in the room started to beep. Bark knew that Rich would not answer the message, so he dismounted his hands and went over to check the incoming call. It was not a call, but another letter. Bark assumed it was from a teacher. When he turned it on, he barked once and hit his fist on the desk so hard that the computer screen flickered.
Rich woke up at that, “ What the hell?’’ he said while hardly awake enough to see.
Bark growled while his voice box read, “ To the furball: A picture of the puppy toy.” It was from Green Scream, who had sent him a picture of Frost sitting in a small holding cell on the station. She looked miserable and very lonely.
Again Bark hit the desk with his fist. Oh, how he wanted to break that jerks neck.
Dr. Tobias Glyph sat at his desk checking some data and examining some of the evidence he was sent. All of the high level instructors have been put onto the investigation. Tobias had a smile on his face and his computers were not running through more data, as if he had found something important enough to focus on it. Or, perhaps he had found the culprit.
Green Scream came in the door to the infirmary. ‘’ Hello doctor, I am here for my hourly check. Nothing new to report?”
Dr. Glyph stood up and turned to the green headed boy. “ Actually, I do need to speak with you.”
The General was fraught with annoyance. He was never pleased to be this confused about any investigation, but to have it be on his station was putting him in a really bad mood.
Walking through the corridors, he looked at two different tablets. One held the information they had gathered so far, which wasn’t much. The other held a list of all of the people on the station and the internal scans to show if any other unknown people were hiding aboard.
Turning yet another corner, he found himself at the entrance to the infirmary. The door was open already, so he walked right in. His eyes were still glued to the computer tablet in front of him. “Tobias, I have some more data for you.”
Dr. Glyph turned away from a computer that was showing the systems of their hibernation chamber, a place seldom used. Standing up so the General did not see the information on the screen, he approached, “More data?’’
The General handed the doctor the tablet with the internal scans. “ Here. Check the data again, make sure that we aren’t missing anything. I want to be certain that we don’t have some kind of intruder on board.”
Tobias took the tablet, but he didn’t spend much time looking at it. “ I see. Well, if that is all, then you can go. I have a lot of work to catch up on. Unless you have any other questions for me.’’
The General scrolled down to the bottom of the investigation reports. “ First. You haven’t sent any reports all day. Second, I need to ask you about Frost and Barks alibi. Bark said that….” The General had lowered the tablet and just then noticed a pair of boots on the floor behind a curtain. They were not standing up, but laying down as if attached to a body that was on the ground. “ What on earth is that?’’
Tobias looked back and then at the General, “ Nothing. You see nothing.’’
The General went for his gun, recognizing a mind attack when he saw it. But, he wasn’t fast enough. Soon he was unable to move, unable to stop looking into Tobias’ eyes. His speech began to slur, ‘’ What..are…..yoooo..’’
‘’ It is about time to get this over with. Don’t you think? “ Tobias watched as the General fell to his knees and then to the floor in a slump. An evil smile played on the doctors lips.
Not too far from the ULH spacestation, a large space craft approached the station.
Onboard were several officers wearing the dark uniforms of loyal operatives of Marshal Dae.
‘’ Commander, we have arrived at the coordinates.” The helm officer announced.
The woman at command stood up and walked toward the large view screen. “ Good. Sensors, are the security platforms active?’’
The young man at the sensor station scanned and then replied, “ Yes. If we take the ship in, we’re dead.’’
The commander glared at the screen. “ I am aware of that fact. This means that our contact has not obtained control of the stations security commands. See if we can make contact with him?’’
They all waited while the communications station sent the coded signal in to the spy on the ULH station. In moments a blurred out screen came on. This signal was coded so that no one could tell they were communicating with the station.
A man in shadows, purposefully keeping himself from being seen, answered the call. “ I have the station under my control.”
‘’ What about the security net? If we are to take the students into custody, we will have to get closer.’’ She was abrupt and annoyed that everything wasn’t going as planned.
The shaded man answered her, “ I cannot take down the security without setting off all sorts of alarms on earth. We won’t get half the students off before they send up enough firepower to take your ship and turn it to ash. But, I have a plan.”
“ I’m listening.”
“ This station can pass through the net without setting off the weapons platforms. I will set the thrusters to move us into a higher orbit. Once it is achieved, and we pass that damned net, then you can dock and have all but one of the students.” His tone was commanding and direct.
She glared at him, “ No exceptions. The deal was for all the students and instructors.”
The man shook his head, “ I was contacted by a special person who has a unique interest in a new student on board. He has made me a better offer, and I doubt that you will care much about missing just one furry hero without any decent powers.’’
The woman let out a long sigh, “ That was not the deal. “
‘’ I don’t care. If you want me to move this station, then you will agree. Do we have a new deal?’’ His confidence was annoying.
She gritted her teeth, but nodded. “ Fine. Just move that station and we will dock.”
The man reached over and turned off the signal, disregarding any normal pleasantries.
The holding cells were cold and hardly comfortable. There was just enough space to walk around, a small bed, and a forcefield to keep the prisoner inside. There were a lot of cells on this station, though only about ten percent of them were used at any given time. There was one person at the controls of the holding cells and several security bots stationed all around. It was a bleak place to be, especially for a person who was not accustomed to being imprisoned.
Frost sniffed hard, trying not to cry again. She felt very lonely right now and terrified at what might happen to her. She knew she was innocent, but if they did not believe her she could be put away for a long time.
Just then a new guard came on duty to relieve the one that was sitting at the control terminal. Once they changed places Frost stood up and came to the extent of her cells invisible forcefield.
He did not look up to her, “ What?”
She cleared her throat from all the sobbing earlier, “ Did they find any more information?”
The guard shook his head, “Nothing of value to you. Now, try to get some….” The guard stopped mid-sentence and seemed to stare off into space. His eyes seemed to glaze over and he began to sway in his seat.
“ Guard, what is wrong? Do you need help?” Frost was highly concerned now.
The man appeared to drift off into a sleep and then he opened his eyes partly and looked at her. He started typing in commands on the central security computer. The security bots all deactivated at once, slumping over and then crashing to the floor.
The door to the holding cells opened and an equally dazed Solstice came in carrying a box full of shock collars. Both people took out shock collars and for some reason wrapped them around their own necks. Then, the security guard pressed the button to deactivate all the forcefields at once. Frost was stunned and scared. Some of the others stepped out just as confused as she was. Solstice took a collar and started walking toward Frost.
‘’ Wait? What is going on?” She held up her hand to use her powers to defender herself, but suddenly she too was overcome by some kind of dizziness. The room faded and she blacked out just as she heard the click of the collar being fastened around her neck.
Bark lay in his bed, he was trying to sleep but could not get the image of Frost in a holding cell out of his mind. What made it worse, in his dream he could see one of those shock collars secured around her neck. He wanted to save her, but he was unable. Each time the image became clear, he would jerk awake and find himself back in his room.
After about three hours of this in and out of sleep, Bark picked up his tablet to read on a book, or look at some school work to study. Just about anything to keep his mind busy while he waited for morning to come.
Just then he heard a low mumbling. Rich had sat up in bed and was talking to himself in his sleep. Without warning, the boy got up and started for the door. Bark would stop him, but he was always told to not bother a sleepwalker. Besides, Rich couldn’t get out of the room easily, the codes were changed so that only security personnel could get in our out for the time being.
Before Bark could return to his book, he heard the door open. That kid had found the access code. Or they hadn’t changed them yet. Knowing that this could get Rich in a lot of trouble, Bark set aside his tablet and jumped down from the top bunk. He put on his briefs and collar while rubbing some of the blurriness out of his eyes. ‘’ Hey, Rich, get back in here.’’ His collar said while he yawned.
Suddenly the station rocked slightly and the thruster system activated. This was not a normal function at this time and it made Bark look out the window. The station was most definitely moving, and faster than Bark had ever seen before. “ What the hell?’’ Looking out the window, he saw a starship seeming to come closer. The station was moving to meet a ship? Why? “ Must be part of the investigation. I better get Rich back to bed before Coach Thrasher sees him wandering the halls at night.”
Bark walked over to the door and pressed the ‘open’ button. To his surprise, the door didn’t ask for a security code. What surprised Bark more than that was all the people outside of their rooms right now. The halls were filled with students and instructors walking around in a daze. Most were mumbling to themselves, while others looked paranoid and dangerous.
‘’ Rich?!’ Bark called out, not seeing his roommate around.
Dodging people all over the place, Bark looked for someone who was not in this sleep walking state of mind. He found two students fighting slowly, another arguing with a wall, and yet another eating what looked like some dirt. This was a mad house. It didn’t take Bark long to realize that something terrible was happening.
‘’Bark-san. Bark-san!’’ Bark looked up to find Toshi sensei running toward him.
Bark stepped back, not sure if she was in this mesmerized state of mind. “ Sensei?”
Toshi stopped and stood very firmly right in front of him. “ I am fine, but the others are stricken with an illness. You and I must get out of here before we become sick too.”
Bark looked around at everyone, “ I don’t think they are sick. They look like someone has them dazed by a telepathic attack, or something like that.’’
Toshi shook her head, “ No, it is an alien virus that spreads through touch. Don’t let any of them touch you. “
Bark’s eyes widened and he stepped back from a boy that nearly ran into him. “ Alien Virus?! What do we do?”
Toshi smiled “ I have a plan. Come with me to the infirmary. We can seal ourselves into one of the quarantine tanks and wait for help.”
Bark frowned, “ What about that ship out there? Are they doctors or something like that?’’
Toshi seemed caught off guard for a moment, then nodded. “ Yes. Of course. They are here to help us. But, we need to be sure to be healthy when they arrive. We may be the only help they find on the station, and there will be a lot to do. Come on, the only safe place is the infirmary.”
Bark nodded. “ Alright. Let’s move.’’
Toshi nodded and led the way, “ This way, and remember, don’t let any of them touch you.”
Bark and Toshi ran through the station, dodging people left and right. Everyone was confused and seemingly sleepwalking. Some were even using their powers. Fortunately, it did not appear that anyone was hurting someone else.
Down several corridors and passed a lot of sick people, Bark and Toshi made their way to the infirmary. No one noticed them at all, even with their eyes open, they were not seeing reality. Upon entering the infirmary, Bark was stunned for a moment to see the General on the floor, passed out. Could it get worse?
‘’ There, in the back. The quarantine tank.’’ Toshi pointed to an area that had large cylindrical tubes of plastic surrounding bio beds. This was an area that people were placed when they were so contagious that a quarantine was ordered. It would also protect anyone inside from an outbreak like this. The bed that she was pointing at was a very special tank that could put someone into artificial hibernation, to prolong their life if needed to save them.
Bark stopped and pressed a button that activated the computer. He frowned and tried to figure it out. “ I, uh, don’t know how to activate the tank so the door will open.’’
Toshi stepped up, “ Don’t worry, Bark, I can do it.’’
Bark stepped back and smelled the air. Something didn’t seem right. Not only did she call him Bark several times, and not Inu-chan, but she didn’t smell like Toshi. “ Toshi sensei? Why aren’t you sick?’’
Without turning to look at him, Toshi worked the controls and answered his question. “ I avoided the people. Like I said, they can spread through the touch.”
Bark stepped up and sniffed Toshi. The scent was not her, it was not a person he had smelled closely before. Then, for a moment, he felt very light headed and everything seemed to grow blurry. “Toshi sensei, something is not right.’’
She turned with a smile and asked, “ Of course things are not right, the virus…”
Bark stepped back and took up a defensive posture, “ No, you are not right. What is my name you use for me in training?’’
She shrugged and said, “ Bark-san.’’
‘’Wrong answer.’’ He leapt right into an attack and caught her off guard, something that would never happen to the real Toshi. With a well placed fist to the face, he sent this imposter down.
The room grew hazy and he could see now that the person he was looking at was not Toshi, but another student. Bark retained his defensive posture, but stepped closer to the boy. “ Who are you!?”
A blonde haired, blue skinned boy lay on the ground, his eyes rolling upward in his head and his mouth mumbling incoherently. Bark had not hit him hard enough to stagger him like this, he was under some kind of mind control. On his neck was a shock collar.
Suddenly, Bark felt a pretty hard blow to the back of his left shoulder. He stumbled forward and then twisted around to find the General attacking him with glazed eyes, and a wicked smile. Bark dodged two more strikes and then caught the Generals arm. He used his leverage to throw the man across a biobed and into a wall. The General did not stand up, but he was still smiling like a mad man. He too had a shock collar wrapped around his neck.
With a voice that did not seem his own, the General taunted Bark. “ I control them all. You will die before you find me.”
Bark turned and ran for the exit, not wishing to hurt the General, or be hurt by him. After closing the door, Bark heard a fist pounding against it. Quickly thinking, Bark hit the contamination controls that locked the door. Only Tobias Glyph and a few others in the higher command could open this door now. Hopefully, the person in control did not have those codes.
But this was not the end. Turning to run down the hall, Bark saw half a dozen people coming after him. Everyone looked like the General, wild eyed and mad. Bark knew that somehow he was the only one here who was not affected by this mind control and he had to find a way to save them from themselves.
Suddenly Bark realized that his vision was being affected. He could not make out the people in front of him. Then, to his horror, the person attacking him was Frost, and Bolt was at her side. Bark recoiled in fear of attacking his love and friend. Then, realizing deep down that this was not Frost or Bolt, Bark lurched forward and hit Frost in the face. As soon as his hand made contact, the image faded and became a completely different girl. This was why the Toshi fake told him not to touch anyone, it would break the false image. But, that would not stop this horrible person from using this illusionary power against him. Then Bark remembered something that Dr. Glyph had told him, his super senses were primitive and difficult to be telepathically controlled. If he focused on his hearing and smell, then he could avoid the mental attacks.
Closing his eyes and calming his nerves, Bark took a few breaths and focused on his training. If he could take down five highly programmed ninjas in pitch black, he could take down a few mind-controlled heroes. Without opening his eyes, Bark used his hearing and smell to defend himself. He jumped off the walls and used the people as spring boards, flying over them to avoid their attacks. More than one got a punch in his ribs and legs, but he responded to that with swift punches and kicks. Toshi taught him well. He could disarm their attacks without doing too much harm. Fortunately for him, the controller did not seem completely capable of utilizing his victim’s super-powers. Either that, or for some reason he wanted Bark to survive and only be captured. Either way, Bark was not waiting around to ask.
Bark ran out of the hall and jumped over two students that were going after him. He stopped and opened his eyes to get his bearings. He did not have the layout of the station memorized well enough to fight with his eyes closed. He avoided looking directly at anyone, to keep his enemy from attacking his emotions.
“ Who are you?’’ he asked aloud.
A voice in his mind answered, “ I am one who seeks vengeance against the likes of you.”
“ Okay, that was cliché. Why me? Or are you just wanting to stop me because you cannot control my mind?”
The voice, which was impossible to recognize while speaking directly into his mind, answered, “I hate the ULH. But, yes, dog, I have my reasons to want you. I know a man who will pay highly to get his hands on you.”
Bark looked around. This controller did not even try to mess with his mind anymore, the visions were gone. “Who would even know of my existence? As far as everybody on earth is concerned, I am dead.”
The voice simply laughed, not giving an answer.
Bark was rushed from behind by Thrasher and Red Fury. He heard them coming, but was not fast enough to avoid both of them. Red Fury was a quick person, using fire like Bolt used electricity. Bark skidded to a stop to avoid crashing into the red headed instructor. Just as he did, Coach Thrasher grabbed his tail and threw him to the ground. Bark tried to jump up with his hands, so that his feet could make contact with Thrashers face, but the four armed coach was too strong for him. He caught a leg and held Bark at bay. Bark let out a very canine sound and then used his free leg to give the coach a mighty kick to the face. It made the man drop the dog and stumble backwards. Bark did enjoy the sensation a little, Thrasher wasn’t a very kind man.
Before he could make a retreat, Red Fury grabbed Bark by the arm and threw him across the way, right over a table and into a wall. Bark hardly had enough time to gather his senses before the two brutes were tossing aside the table and chairs and coming after him again.
Just then a pair of nunchaku hit Red Fury right in the head. A little white blur attacked him and hit him in several locations on the body that made him go limp. Thrasher picked up a chair to crash into the new attacker, but found that she was no longer in front of him, but beside him. Toshi grabbed his leg and used his own weight to send him face first into the ground. Mind control or no mind control, he was knocked out cold.
Toshi nodded, “ Like I taught you, Inu-chan, use their own weight against them, and even the biggest enemy falls on his butt.”
Bark smiled and replied, “ He fell on his face.”
Toshi shrugged, “ All the same to me.”
Bark slowly stood up and walked over to her with a disbelieving face. “ Toshi? Is it really you?’’ he leaned over and was sniffing her. Suddenly, her right hand smacked him in the side of the head, just like she did every time he was not paying enough attention. Rubbing his temple he nodded, “ Yup, its you.”
Toshi looked around, the students and instructors were starting to hobble their way. “ Come with me.’’ She grabbed Barks arm and pulled him into a little room used to store the bulk foods for the vendors.
Bark closed the door and barred it with a mop handle. “That won’t hold them forever.”
Toshi nodded, “Yes, but it will do. Here.’’ She handed him the nunchaku she carried.
Bark took them and then looked at her with a very curious brow, “ Why aren’t you affected by the mind control?”
Toshi pulled out a jade pendant she had hung around her neck, hidden beneath her simple kimono. “ The Mystical pendant of Chien-Shin. It was given to me so that my mind may remain clear, no matter how old I become. Unfortunate, Inu-chan, it will not work for anyone else.”
Bark smiled, “ No wonder you are so talented, and so old.’’
She smacked him in the side of the head again, “ Never talk about a ladies age.’’
He rubbed his head again, “ Sure. Okay, what do we do now?’’
Toshi smiled to him, “ Now, we find out who is behind this and stop him.”
Bark shook his head, “ No. We must contact the Rangers, or the military, or someone. This person is too powerful for me, I…”
“ Inu-chan.’’ She stopped him. “ We don’t have time to call for help. It will be too late. We must find a way to put this person down, or all of Earth will be in peril. “
Bark stepped back, “ But, I am not that kind of hero. I am just a new student.”
“ Inu-chan, you are a great hero. You have potential that is beyond your understanding yet. This is why I chose you as my first student in two years. You have a gift that protects you from this mind control, use it. Destiny provided you talent and ability, I know you can accomplish great things. Now, prove destiny right. Go out there and put an end to this evil master minds attacks on us.”
Bark closed his eyes and took a deep breath. She was right, of course, they really didn’t have time to wait for help. And, he did have a protection from this mental control. Opening his eyes, he nodded to her, “ Fine. I will do my best. “
Toshi smiled at him, “ That is all I ever ask of you.”
Bark thought for a moment. “ Okay. Whoever is doing this has a ship outside that is getting closer by the minute. I felt the thruster system activate, the whole station is moving away from Earth.”
“ He must be moving the station to get us outside of the security platforms. But why?“
“ Wait, that voice that talked to me said he hated the ULH. Maybe they are going to destroy the station, or capture everyone on board.”
Toshi nodded, “ With everyone under mental control, it won’t take much to round them up.”
“ Then I need to get to the controls in the command center. If I can shut down the thrusters, I might be able to keep us inside the security zone.”
“ Good.’’ Toshi agreed, “ Then we must head up to the command levels.’’
Bark looked back at the door, “ It would be a lot easier if I didn’t have a thousand people between me and the control center.”
Toshi stepped aside and pushed a button hidden behind the shelves. A door opened in the floor, leading to a hidden passageway. “ I think we can get closer this way.”
Bark was surprised, to say the least, “ How did you know about that?’’
“ I have been here since it was constructed. I know more about this place than even the General. Now, let’s get moving.”
The view screen in the operations center was active. The dark suited man sat at a desk, angrily yelling at the man in charge of the station. “ WHERE IS HE?”
“ Bark will be delivered to you via a shuttle from the station.”
‘’WHEN?!’’ The dark suited man was impatient as always.
“ Within the hour.’’
“ How can I be sure? Have you even captured him yet?’’
The shadowed man in the command centered shook his head, “ No, my plan to put him into hibernation failed. But I won’t need to capture him. He will go willingly.”
‘’How can you be sure?’’ The Dark Suited man sneered at the screen
The shadowed man turned on a monitor showing Frost laying on the floor of a holding cell, with a shock collar tightly wrapped around her neck. “ I have insurance that he will do whatever I ask him. Don’t worry, I have everything under control. Just make sure you send the money to my account.”
‘’ No money until I have that man in my possession.”
The shadowed man paused for a moment, a delicate smile playing on his lips. “ He will be. Now, I have some work to do.” Without a by-your-leave, the shadowed man pressed a button and the screen returned to the map of earth and the smaller inset screens with all the security cameras he had called up.
“ Computer, bring up the security camera on level seven of the command center.’’
The screen changed and he watched a small hatch on the wall open. Bark and Toshi exited the hatch, making sure to keep their eyes out for anyone around them.
‘’ Clever, Bark, but you are too stupid to realize that even though I cannot control you, I can still sense you presence.” He smiled at the screen and looked at Toshi. He intended on forcing her to do his bidding, but she did not respond to his mental control. “What is this?”
Bark sniffed the air and looked up and down the way, “ I don’t see anyone coming. “
Toshi got up and dusted herself off. “ Remind me to tell the General to clean his ventilation system.”
Bark shook his head, this was hardly the time to worry about such things. His ears perked up and he realized he was hearing something really odd. “ Wait, what is that?”
They walked over to the wall where a set of windows looked down to the main docking platforms. Hundreds of people were lining up in the open docking port for some reason. Bark looked up and down the lines to see if he could find Frost, but she was nowhere to be seen. He did see several people he knew, including Rich and The General. It did not take him long to see that every single person had a shock collar wrapped snuggly around their necks.
‘’What do you make of this?’’ Bark pointed to the people leaving the station.
Toshi looked out and scanned the people, “ I don’t know, but it doesn’t look good.”
Bark frowned, “ If the person behind this has the power to control their minds, why is he using shock collars as well?”
Toshi shook her head, “ I don’t know, but I don’t believe that is important right now. We need to get this situation under control. “
Bark nodded, “ Let’s move.’’
They ran down the corridor toward the emergency shaft. It would be highly illogical to ride the elevator right now, as whoever was in control could capture them by shutting the system down. So, they would have to climb the last three stories.
The shadowed man patiently waited while he watched the students leaving the station. Everything was going according to plan, even Barks little counter attack.
With a jolt, the shadowed man was startled by the pounding of a fist against the control room doors. Bark punched clean through with his superior strength and pulled aside the sealed doors.
The man in the room hardly looked worried, he simply turned around to greet his guests. “ Such a brute. Surely you know how to knock. Or, do you scratch and whine like other dogs?’’ his tone was taunting, and not even remotely concerned for his own safety.
Bark and Toshi ran in, each prepared to battle. Bark spoke first, “ It ends here you….” It was then that he could see the person in charge of this operation. “ You? No, this cannot be true!”
Bark and Toshi ran in, each prepared to battle. Bark spoke first, “ It ends here you….” It was then that he could see the person in charge of this operation. “ You? No, this cannot be true!”
Tobias Glyph stepped into the light, an evil smile on his face. “ Surprised to see me?’’
Bark was more than stunned. He stepped back in horror, “ No, it cannot be.”
“ Oh boo hoo. Something you would learn eventually. In the world of heroes, trust no one but yourself. “
Bark became angry, “ I trusted you! I let you dig into my mind, see my most intimate of thoughts.”
Tobias shuttered in disgust, “ A thoroughly unpleasant experience I assure you.”
Bark was enraged, “ I’LL KILL YOU!” He ran right at Cerberus with his nunchaku ready to deal a deadly blow.
Suddenly a yellow flash hit bark in the side and sent him tumbling across the floor. Bolt stopped and stood over the fallen dog. His eyes were vacant and his neck was secured by a collar.
Tobias smiled, having not even flinched at the attack. “ You don’t think I was unprepared for you. I could sense you coming the entire way up. I may not be able to control your mind, but I can still sense its presence. Though the smell of sweaty dog was announcement enough.” He waved a hand in front of his face.
‘’Sense this!’’ Toshi surprised Tobias with a perfect hit to the side of his head. She sent the doctor to the ground with one blow. To his knowledge, she had not been standing next to him seconds before the strike.
Tobias sat up and held out a hand to direct a telepathic blast at her. She stood still and smiled as the energy just bounced off of her. He was more than angry “ NOT POSSIBLE?!”
Toshi looked at him with the confidence of a master, “ I am a millennium old master, your tricks are child’s play to me.”
Just then Bolt ran at her, but was taken by this masters skill. She side stepped his approach and planted a hand in his back with precision. Bolt went head first into a control station, flipping over the desk and computer and smashing into a chair.
Bark seized the opportunity and jumped up to strike down Tobias.
‘’WAIT!” Tobias held up a small hand held control. With a single press of a button, the entire view screen was focused on Frost as she walked to the shuttle.
Bark stopped in his tracks, his eyes falling upon the image of his love. “ WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!’’
Tobias stood up and re-attained his commanding posture, “ One false move, Dog, and she will fry. One step to attack me from either you or your little old lady, and that pretty neck will be filled with enough electricity to even kill Bolt.”
Bark was growling and bearing his teeth so hard that the air going and coming from his mouth was hissing. “ What do you want?”
Bark held his position, the desire to decapitate this man boiling in his belly. “ Me?”
Tobias picked up a shock collar and handed it to Toshi. “ Put it on.’’
Toshi looked at Bark and then at the screen. She could not sacrifice the students life, she had to obey. With a snap, the collar was now placed around her neck.
Bark stood still, waiting for his collar. “ Well?”
‘’Don’t be so impatient. The man who wants you, wants you unspoiled. I cannot injure you without losing a lot of money. But, I believe that the life of both your sensei and girlfriend will keep you in line.”
“ Who wants me so badly?” Bark was confused.
Tobias smiled evilly, “ Oh, I am going to be a rich, rich man. Between the forty million the Alliance is paying me for the students, and the fifty million that that strange man in the dark suit offered just for you, I will become wealthy beyond my wildest dreams.”
Bark gasped, “The dark suited man? He is still alive?”
“ I guess. And he wants you bad enough to orchestrate all of this. Without his help, I would never have had the means to accomplish this. Now, if you will follow me, we are going to make a delivery to the surface. “ Tobias pointed his controller at the door, sort of like holding a gun on them. He looked at Bolt, who had gathered himself from the master’s attack, and gave him a mental command. Bolt took Toshi’s arm and directed her out of the room. Bark waited and followed Tobias.
Bark and Tobias walked behind Bolt and Toshi. They walked quietly and directly to get down to the docking port. Once down there, Bark saw the lone shuttle waiting for him and his captor. The port doors were open with only the forcefield keeping space from killing everyone. It was obvious that the station was moving toward a ship that would meet up right at the open side.
Bark passed the students, all in a sleepwalking state of mind. He felt sick knowing that they had no idea what was about to happen to them. Frost was looking straight forward as if she were a robot, Green Scream was with a group of students who were sitting on their knees, waiting to be commanded to enter another shuttle.
‘’ What made you do this? Can you want money that badly?’’ Bark asked.
Tobias laughed, “ Money is a very powerful motivation, but not my only one. I never liked the ULH, and now I get to destroy them. With all the students and faculty safely put away, people like me will become gods. I will be rich and powerful. Soon, the world will be at my doorstep, begging for my blessings.”
Barks ears turned slightly as he noticed something different. There was an odd sound when Tobias talked. “ Can I see my girlfriend one more time before I am taken away?’’ he asked as innocently as he could.
Tobias let out an annoyed sigh, but he obliged, ‘’ Fine, but make it quick. And don’t think I am letting her out of the mind control. “
Bark walked back toward Frost. He paused for a moment and kissed her face, then started walking further back.
‘’Wait, what are you doing?’’ Tobias held up the control. “ Don’t make me kill her. Get back here!”
Bark turned with a smile, “ You know something, Doctor, you are not acting as smart as I know that you are.’’ With a sudden burst of action, Bark turned, grabbed Green Screams head, and slammed his face right into the deck plating.
The hallucinator wrapped around his head became visible, and the ruby stone that made it work smashed to pieces against the ground. Small parts of the crystal embedded into the boys forehead with the attack.
Tobias fell backwards, the control of this insidious device broken. The pain of his mind controlling everyone on the station at once was a sizeable stress. He would survive, but he would probably not wake for a while. With his control gone, everyone started to wake up.
Bark stepped up to Green Scream, he let go with a swift kick and sent the boy tumbling across the ground. “ I have wanted to do that to you for weeks.”
Green Scream stood up, his face streaming with the blood from the impact with the floor. He pulled off the broken hallucinatory and tossed it aside and pulled out another control and held it up. “ BACK OFF OR EVERYONE DIES!’’
The General ran up, angry as ever, “What the hell is going on!!!’’
Green Scream took off the fake collar he was wearing and held the controls in his hands. With a single press of a button he smiled at the General, “They have been set to detonate. If anyone uses their powers, they go off, if you don’t get on that ship and let them deactivate them, they go off. Either way, your dead unless you obey.”
Frost looked at Bark in terror, “What is going on?’’
Green Scream answered her, “ What is going on is that you are being sold to the World Alliance for a lot of money, and I am taking this dog to a man willing to pay me a mint. I will go on a rich man, and you will be sealed away forever. Or, you are going to die here, your choice.”
Bark looked up. He heard something behind him and knew what to do. “ You know something Greenbean, I was not given a choice in being turned into a dog, or having my voice stolen, or being put into the same school with the likes of you. I am tired of evil, backstabbing, monsters giving me no real choice. From now on I am making my own choices.” He leaned over and Toshi threw a chopstick she had had in her hair.
The strike was quick and clean. The controller in Green Screams hand was knocked away and Bark was ready to pounce. Green Scream turned to retrieve his controller, but was hit in the back with Barks nunchaku. The boy went down with the blow to the head. Bark placed a foot on Green Screams back and held him on the floor.
‘’ I have had about enough of you. I think the authorities will be pleased to take you into…”
Green Scream let out a massive yell that caused everyone to hold their ears. Bark was staggered by the blast and stepped off of the boy.
The General and several students ran for the controller, trying to beat Green Scream to it. Timothy stopped and blasted another soundwave that was harsh enough to cause a person to stumble. The General was knocked back and two students were sent to the ground.
Just as Tim was about to grab the controller, Bark got him in a bear hug, trying to squeeze the breath out of him.
The General got to the controller and was trying to find a way to deactivate the collars.
Green Scream got enough of a breath in to let out a high pitch. It was not low enough for most people, but the more sensitive students were brought to their knees, including Bark. Bark released the boy and held his hands over his head.
Taking in another enormous breath, Green Scream unleashed a powerful blast that stopped the General from his work. Tim ran toward the controller and kicked the General in the side, causing him to lose his grip on it. He went for it when another student punched him in the face. He bellowed and burst the poor kids ear drums.
Bolt started to run, but the use of his powers caused the collar to shock him hard. More than one student attempted to step in and help, but the damned collars were too much. If they tried anything, they would be killed.
Green Scream had the General by the hands, both fighting for the device. Tim let out another sound-wave blast that separated them. The General still held the controller, but Green Scream grabbed the Taser gun out of his holster. He was about to point it at him when one of the students kicked his hand and sent the weapon flying. In a fit of rage, Green Scream blasted everyone until they fell to their knees. He would not be defeated being this close to victory, and the lavish lifestyle he deserved.
Bark closed his eyes and focused his mind on his training. Just like being blind, he had to let go of one of his senses so that he could focus. Standing up, Bark folded his ears back as much as he could and directed his eyes on the Green haired traitor. With a massive bark, he bounded across the bay for the boy.
Green Scream did not see him coming as he was wrestling the General for the controller. Bark met the boy with a knee to his side that was followed by a kick to his face. Tim was pushed away from the wrestling match, having lost the controller to the General. Tumbling head over butt, he lay on the ground splayed out. His face bleeding, and now his nose running with more blood, he jumped to his feet and took in a breath to blast Bark with one of his infamous shockwaves.
Bark crouched and ran for the boy. Green Scream let out a massive yell, but Bark was not detoured. To the surprise and dismay of the boy, Bark slammed him right in the gut and then caught him with a smash of his nunchaku to the face. All the while, the soundwaves were deafening, but Bark focused hard on his training. The rest of the students were holding their heads and trying not to bleed out the ears. The shrill power of his screeching was causing people to get sick to the stomach and have sudden and powerful migraines.
Bark reared back and used his fist to plant a final blow in Green Screams jaw. This ended the shockwaves and landed him on the ground.
The General had had enough fighting with the controls, he decided they didn’t have time to figure this out. Slamming the control box on the ground, he smashed it into a thousand pieces. This caused the collars to start beeping loudly, a warning that they were about to detonate, but it also caused the locking mechanisms to loosen.
‘’GET EM OFF!’’ The General yelled.
Everyone pulled their collar off and threw them just as they all exploded with the massive jolts. They left blackened marks all over the deck plating and walls, but only a few students were injured. No one died today.
‘’Bark, you’re my hero!’’ Frost ran over to her man, surprising him with a great big hug.
Bark looked at her and shook his head, his voice collar said, “ I can’t hear.’’
She smiled in sympathy, “ I am sure the doctor can fix that.’’
Bark shrugged, not able to read her lips.
The General looked out of the docking bay at the ship, “Solar Flare, Rocket, take care of that ship!’’ Two of the students who could survive the vacuum of space jumped up at his command and flew out to meet the enemy head on. “ Bolt, Ladybug, get to the command center and move this station back to its normal position.’’ Bolt and Ladybug ran off, Bolt getting their long before her. The General walked up to Bark, “Young man, you saved us all.’’
Bark shrugged and shook his head, “ I can’t hear.’’
Before the General could reply to that, Green Scream got to his feet. He was bloody, bruised, and hunched. “You will die.’’ Holding up the General’s gun that he had fallen near, he pointed it at Bark. “ I was told to hurt you in the worst possible way. ” He turned the gun on Frost and pressed the charge button that would release all of its power.
Bark didn’t take a moment to consider his options. Even though he couldn’t hear what was said, all he needed to know was that Frost was in danger. He jumped and took the jolt in Frost’s place. The energy ran all over his body and sent him down. Half a dozen of the students blasted Green Scream with freeze powers, energy beams, lightening blasts, and a few sludge bombs. The Green headed nemesis of the ULH exploded in a disgusting display.
Frost fell to the ground to hold her hero. “ Bark!’’
He opened his eyes with a smile on his muzzle. Reaching up with one hand he brushed his fingers through her hair. His eyes closed and his arms rested against his chest. The voice box stated after he seemed to fade away, “ I love you.’’
Frost held him with tears running down her face. The General knelt down with Frost, holding her shoulders. “ I am sure he will be alright. “
‘’Barks Journal, Day 10. What a week. The ULH is returning to normal, well as normal as it gets around here. The World Alliance denies any part in what happened here, and without the testimony of Green Scream, we really cannot prove anything. The General assures me that an investigation will be opened as to finding out if that dark suited man is still alive. It makes me worried to know that someone is that interested in me. Could it be that man who captured me in Korea, I just don’t know. But, worrying about something that you cannot change right now is foolish, so I will just have to put it away.
Dr. Glyph has passed the security scans and proven he truly did not have anything to do with Green Screams plans. This is very fortunate for me as he is one of the best doctors in the world. Red Fury told me that I destroyed one of the most valuable jewels in the known universe. The ruby on the hallucinator was found amongst ancient artifacts in the tombs of the Mayans. It has the ability to control another person’s mind, allowing you to literally live through them. The device amplified that to the point that Green Scream was capable of even using Tobias’s powers, an ability that most mind control devices lack. I know the ruby was worth more than the total gold at Fort Knox, but I am glad to know it is powerless now.
The damage to my ears was permanent, but with some tissue replication the damaged parts have been replaced. My hearing isn’t totally healed yet, but Tobias said that within a few weeks I will be hearing dog whistles again. A mixed blessing I guess. As for the jolt I took, it will take a few more days for me to completely recover. Tobias told me that I should have died, but somehow my biology was sturdy enough to withstand the jolt. He gave me a complicated medical reason, but it boils down to this; the energy that was used to change me into what I am today, changed my biology to be more resistant to energy attacks. This is probably part of the mutation designed to help me be a better soldier. Good to know. I may not be the strongest student, or have some kind of superpower to take down others, but I can take a blow and will do so to protect those that I love.
Toshi sensei and I will be honored by the ULH central command. We are going to receive special commendations for saving everyone. I feel a little overwhelmed by the gratitude that everyone has shown me. After all, we are all here to learn to be heroes. The greatest honor the ULH has given me is friendship. In the past day and a half most of the students who took part in teasing me have come to apologize and thank me. ‘’
‘’ Wake up.’’ The soft, soothing voice of Frost broke the dream that was filling Barks mind.
Bark did not open his eyes yet, he knew that she would usually wake him with a kiss if she couldn’t get him up. He liked that method best and would always encourage it. But, something was odd. He felt grass against his back, warm gentle winds blowing around him, and maybe even the sun overhead.
Opening his eyes he did in fact find himself lying on a hill in the middle of the most pleasant pasture he had seen yet. It was a beautiful day and the world seemed perfect, maybe a little too perfect.
He looked over to find Frost sitting on the ground right next to him, giving him a happy smile. The sunlight was glowing against her perfect golden hair. He blinked a few times and made sure he wasn’t still dreaming. “Frost? Where am I?”
She grinned at him and brushed her soft cool hand down his furry chest, “ You are in the holo-simulator room, number eight if that matters.”
He laid back with his hands supporting his head. With a deep breath he said, “ Oooh, this is so comfortable. When did I get moved here?”
Frost was enjoying petting his body, “ You were still out with that sleeping pill that the doctor gave you last night and there was this strange robot nurse that seemed far too interested in you, so I decided to make you more comfortable. “
Bark was as complacent as he had ever been, “ How did you get me here?”
“Bolt carried you. Said something about returning the favor.’’ She found that a little humorous.
Bark laughed, “ Sure, debt repaid.”
Frost stopped petting him and leaned over further to be nearer to his face, “ Bark.”
He opened his eyes and smiled at her serious face, “ What?”
Reaching up, she brushed her hands through his short hair, “ When you jumped in front of that gun, did you know that you would survive?”
He shook his head, “ I had no idea what would happen. I just knew that I could not let him harm you.”
Frost looked into his eyes with the softest, most beautiful eyes a man could gaze into. “ When you fell, the last thing you said to me was….I love you. Did you mean it?”
Bark brushed his fingers through her hair much as he had when he was on the deck floor. “ Of course. “
She ran the back of her hand down his face, “ I owe you my life. And, yes, I love you too.”
He smiled at her and took her hand off of his cheek. He kissed it while his voice box said, “ I owe you so much, you do not need to repay me for anything.”
Without warning, she got right on top of him, saddling his stomach and looking at him with an eager gaze. “ So, you don’t want me to show you my gratitude?” His shocked face was soon replaced with an equally eager smile. She did not let him respond. Leaning over, she pressed herself against him, and gave him the deepest kiss she could muster. This was not resisted and returned in kind.
“Where is he?’’ The General was walking with Dr. Glyph and Bolt.
Bolt smiled nervously, “ uh, we took him to the simulator, number eight.”
Tobias let out a sigh, “ You should know better than to remove a patient from the infirmary until I have officially discharged him.”
Bolt cautiously asked, “ Is his health in any danger?”
Dr. Glyph shook his head, “ No, in fact I was ready to send him back to his quarters this morning. But, I don’t like missing a patient.”
The General stopped and looked at Bolt with a critical gaze, “ Remember to ask before taking. Got it? I don’t like anyone on this station breaking rules. ’’
Bolt nodded quickly.
The General started off again toward the simulators. “ Bolt, come with me. Dr. Glyph you go and tell Toshi sensei that the award ceremony will be at 1300 hours.”
‘’ Got it.’’ Tobias turned and headed toward the dojo.
The General and Bolt walked down the simulator corridor and found the room where Bolt had left Bark and Frost earlier this morning. The General pressed the open button and waited, the door did not open. He tried again, again it did not open. He did not like anything disobeying orders here, even inanimate objects.
‘’ Sir, let me. Frost told me to lock it and I have the code to open it.”
The General stepped back, “ Why didn’t you say so, open it.”
Bolt pressed in the code and the door started to open. Suddenly his eyes lit up and he hit the close button quickly, not giving the General the chance to see inside.
The General was practically red in the face. “ Well, Why’d you stop? What are they doing in there?”
Bolt was attempting to contain his boyish smile, and blushing face. All he could respond with was, “Breaking rules.”