Chapter 4:

Phoenix Part 1: Vex; The Seven Star Man.


I barely have any time to sleep before I'm awoken by the sounds of people yelling and screaming for us to get up. I hear multiple sets of footsteps leave out of the doors of the rooms across from me. I look at the clock that's laying at my desk and it reads three-thirty AM. They must be crazy if they think I'm getting out of bed now. I just laid down two hours ago. I throw the cover over my head and I close my eyes to go back to sleep. But not too long afterward I hear someone banging on my door.

"Hiroshi! It's time to wake up!" Eden yells as she bangs on my door. "My squad is heading out, we can't leave for the mission without you Hiroshi so move your ass."

I let out a loud groan as I throw the covers off of me. My body shivers as my bare feet touch the cold hard floor. This sensation jolts me awake as I stand up and stretch my body. I don't know why, but for the first time, I'm actually feeling nervous about doing something like this. I've spent my entire life fighting against Hybrids. Trying to protect the Deviants who was too scared and couldn't fight for themselves all on my own. Maybe I'm nervous about working with other people or what other people will think about me.

These thoughts and differences scenarios of how my first interaction with the rest of the Phoenix Squad run through my head as I put on the clothes that have been set out for me. I pick them up and I see that it's an exact replica of the clothes I had on when I got here but the only difference is that the color of them is red and gold. I guess to go with the colors of a Phoenix. Kinda hitting it right on the nose, aren't we? I put on my clothes and I head down the stairs to the main conference room and I'm greeted by Jo, Kevin, Eden, and the rest of the team.

"Hiroshi. Glad you could join us. How about you have a seat at the front with your squadmates?" Jo says as he points to a seat directly in front of him. "We've been saving this seat especially for you, so don't be shy."

Everyone in the room stares at me as I walk past them and I sit down in my seat. A couple of people slightly scoot away from me as I get situated. I can hear people start to whisper stuff behind me, I can't make out what they're saying fully but the words killer and monster are the words that are used the most. Jo takes notice of this and he takes a deep breath in and out.

"So before we start up again I would like to address the elephant in the room. I understand that there are still a few of you that are hesitant about Hiroshi joining our organization, mainly the Phoenix team, but I would like to make something clear. Hiroshi; The Hybrid Killer the one that you're thinking of is not sitting right there in front of me. That man is gone. The man that is sitting in front of me is just like everyone else. Someone who wants to change the world, someone who wants to help make the world a better place for everyone living in it now and in the future as well." Jo says to everyone in the room. "So. If anyone here has a problem with Hiroshi being with us, you can talk to me or you can leave out that door right now."

No one says a word or even breathes for a little while after he says that. But eventually, someone does break the silence.

"You can't force me to work with someone who kills my kind whenever he feels like it. I know that you say that he's here to help us but you have to understand how the rest of us feel having to work with someone like him. Jo, I believe in you and your cause, but I cannot work with him. You as a Hybrid should feel this way too."

Eden stands up and the entire Phoenix squad sits up in their seats as she walks over to someone sitting next to me.

"You. Up. Now." She says to him. The man immediately stands up but he doesn't look her in her face directly. You can feel the power emanating off of Eden as she stares at him. I'm not even the target of her anger but I can feel it as if she were the one angry at me. It's almost suffocating. "Eric. I will not tolerate you speaking to Jo that way. Also, I will not tolerate this discrimination against your teammate. So with all due respect Jo, Forget what he said. If you have a problem you settle it with me. You understand?"

The guy looks down at the ground and at me before he sits back down in his chair. But Eden isn't done with him.

"No. You stand up over there in the corner. If everyone is so scared of Hiroshi that they have to move their seats away from him then I'll sit next to him. You call yourself members of my team yet one man scares you to do that. I'm disgusted." Eden says as she grabs the chair and moves it directly next to me. "You can continue Jo. I'm sorry for interrupting you."

"No, No. Thank you, Eden, that was very much needed. So now since that's been settled it's time to get back to the task at hand. Hiroshi, we were just going through the plan for today's mission. I'll get you up to speed. Basically what the mission is, is to recruit this man; Vex. Upon further surveillance by our Cerberus team, we've discovered his ability and it perfectly explains why he has a seven-star danger level. Vex here has the ability to manipulate gravity. To what extent is yet to be determined but we do know that he is fully capable of easily destroying a large city or even a multitude of mountains just with the data we've obtained." Jo says as he taps a button on his computer. "We've managed to track his location down to Houston, Texas. He's stationed in a rather rural area right outside of that city and he has a rather large following of people with him, so this could mean that we may have to fight our way to him. Kevin here can explain the rest."

"The plan is relatively simple. We're going to drop Jo and the Phoenix team a couple of miles outside of Houston. Close enough to where if we need to retreat to the city it won't be that much of a trip, but not too close to where we may alert the Government. The last thing we need is to have an army on our backs while we're trying to recruit this guy. That would not only look bad on us but it would put everyone's lives at risk as well. A fight is the last thing that we want to engage in." Kevin says as he hands each of us an earpiece. "These are earpieces. You are to keep this in your ears at all times. This is the only way that I'll be able to communicate with you while you are out in the field. If anything happens or if I detect the Government heading towards your location I'll let you know if that happens you drop everything and head back to our helicopter. Vex or no Vex. Your lives are what's most important to us." I raise my hand after Kevin finishes talking. He nods to me and I stand up.

"Wait, so basically what you're saying is that you don't want us to fight at all? What if this Vex guy picks a fight with us? You just want us to back down and walk away if things get tough?" I ask him.

"Our main mission is just to get him to join us, it is not to fight him. Now if it comes to that then we have Eden here to do most of the fighting. She is more than capable of handling someone on his danger level. Since you're new I'm guessing Eden will have you play more of a support and recruitment role over an actual combat one."

"Eden, is this true? Am I just going to be like your backup? I thought that I was recruited to actually help you guys. The best thing I can do is fight. If you aren't gonna let fight then what good am I to you guys and your cause?"

"Hiroshi, just because you aren't going to be the main attacker in this mission that doesn't mean that you won't be able to help us. You have a huge role to play in the grand scheme of things. But as of right now this is the role that we need you to play. Your time will come to Hiroshi. It's just not now." Jo says to me. I look at him for a bit before I sit back down in my seat.

"Hiroshi. You just have to trust Jo, okay?" Eden whispers to me. I just nod my head as Kevin continues to explain the plan. I tune him out and I allow Jos' words to bounce around in my head.

So what the hell do they want me to do? Just sit back and watch? I can't do that. If push comes to shove and we have to fight the last thing that I'm going to do is run away. Kevin spends the next ten minutes going over numbers and logistics that I don't understand. After the meeting is over Jo has all of us head to the elevator that takes us to the helicopter platform. As all of the Phoenix team members load onto the elevator a couple of them bump me out of the way as they take up all of the space. I look around and I see that there's no more space on the elevator so I'm forced to let the rest of the team go on and I'm left at the bottom by myself. I can hear a set of footsteps behind me and when I turn around I see that it's Jo.

"I guess words alone won't be enough to sway them to accept you as one of their own," Jo says.

"I don't think that they're ever going to accept me if I'm being honest," I say as I clench my fist to prevent myself from punching the wall. I can feel my body starting to shake out of anger as Jo starts to laugh.

"At the rate that you're going? Probably not. The best thing that you could do right now is proving to them out on the field that they can trust you. Words can only take you so far. In some cases, action needs to be taken to really get the message across." Jo says to me. "That's why I believe in you Hiroshi. I believe that the drive that you have to make change through taking action is exactly what this organization needs. I'm inherently not a fighter, and you're inherently not a great speaker."

"So what? We're both weak? That's great to hear." I say to him.

"No Hiroshi. What I meant when I said that was that no matter how strong both of us may be, neither of us can change this world alone. So yes your role isn't as big as you want it to be right now, but I just want you to know that it is coming, and when it is your time to take on the full responsibility of the role that I have for you I want you to be ready." Jo says as the elevator door opens up. Both of us enter the elevator and we stand in silence as it takes us up to the helicopter platform.

The sound of the helicopter blades spinning drown out the sound of the words that I see Eden trying to say to me but the one thing that I do make out is her motioning me to get in the helicopter. As I step into the helicopter I see that all of the seats are taken, but it's not because there are too many people but it's because a couple of guys have decided to put their bags in a couple of the seats.

"Hey, do you mind if I sit down right here? I'd rather not be standing when the plane takes off." I say to one of the guys. He just ignores me and pulls a mask over his mouth. I take a deep breath in and out as Kevin jumps into the pilot's chair.

"Is everyone strapped in? We're gonna be in for a long ride. I recommend you guys get as much rest as you possibly can." Kevin says as he turns the helicopter engines on. Jo hops onto the plane right as it starts to take off and the second Jo is on the plane everyone immediately takes the bags out of the chair to give Jo somewhere to sit.

"Thank you, guys. But let's give Hiroshi somewhere to sit too. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want a member of your team to be tired once we get to Houston. If push comes to shove and you're in trouble wouldn't you want him to have enough energy to help you out?" Jo asks. Everyone nods their head, yes and they immediately make space for Jo and me to sit down. "We're in for a bit of a long trip everyone so gets as much rest as you possibly can. Once we touch down it's all business from there."

After Jo says that everyone either closes their eyes or puts their hoodies over their heads and drifts off to sleep. Eden and Jo both immediately pull out their phones and they start going over the plan with one another. Sending messages back and forth and trying to come up with the best plan of attack. After a couple of hours of doing this Eden finally looks up at me.

"So Hiroshi, do you think you're ready for this?" Eden asks me.

"Why? Do I look nervous to you? According to you guys, I won't have to do much, so as long as I do the absolute bare minimum that's required of me there shouldn't be that much for me to worry about."

"Are you still hung up on that? Hiroshi. I understand that you want to fight, believe me, I do, but I trust what Jo has planned." Eden says.

"Yes, and what I have planned after going over the logistics of everything it's to have Hiroshi here show us what he's capable of. I have reason to believe that we may be getting more than we had originally bargained for regarding this particular mission. We're going to need all the manpower that we can get." Jo says to Eden. "This could also serve as a great opportunity for Hiroshi to gain the trust of his teammates. After watching your squad for a short while I've determined that the best way would be for him to show in the field that he's worthy of their trust. You know something about that Eden."

Eden nods her head.

"Yes, I do. When Jo appointed me as the leader of the Phoenix squad the members that we had weren't happy. A lot of them thought that I wouldn't be a good leader because of how destructive my ability is. They said how could I lead a group of men when I couldn't even control my own powers. But the same way Jo believed that I could lead a huge part of his organization I see that he's putting that same faith in you and if you're anything like me you'll turn out alright Hiroshi."

I can feel my hands starting to shake a bit. I'm trying my hardest to not smile so I let out a fake cough that horribly covers up my smiling. Eden and Jo both start laughing as Jo slaps me on the back.

"It's always good to laugh right before a big mission like this one. Kevin! How close are we to the drop off point?" Jo asks.

"We're five minutes out! We should start getting everyone ready to get dropped off." Kevin says as he presses a couple of buttons so that the helicopter starts to speed up. Eden nods her head as she rises up out of her seat.

"Alright, guys lets get a move on! It's showtime!" Eden yells as everyone immediately wakes up. Everyone gets their bags and they put whatever additional gear that they have on.

"Hiroshi! chop, chop! Let's go!" Eden yells at me as I put the earpiece that Kevin gave everyone in my ear. I really don't have any extra gear on me so I just sit in my chair until Kevin flies us over an open spot of land.

I look out my window and I can see the dust kicking up as Kevin flies down closer to the ground. Jo steps in front of the door as he lights a cigarette. He takes a deep puff in and out as he opens the door.

"Okay, guys. The first thing on the agenda is to set up a base camp for us. This mission should take no longer than three to four days. Let's have this place set up in an hour so that we can get ready to head out and look for the seven-star man." Jo says as he hops out of the helicopter. Everyone follows after him and we immediately get to work setting up our base camp.

It only takes us about twenty minutes to get everything set up. As we get close to finishing I look around me to take in the full view of where we are. I look to my right and I'm able to see the skyline of Houston. I already know that place is filled to the brim with Government officials, military, and Hybrids. Luckily they won't attack us unless we cross the city lines so we shouldn't have to worry about them as of right now. I turn my head to the left and I can kind of make out what sorta looks like a small town in the distance. That must be where we're headed. Eden comes out of her tent and she calls all of the Phoenix squad to her. I look around me and I see that it's a small squad of only five of us. They're all shorter than me but they're definitely more muscular than me. What kind of training regiment have they been under?

"Okay! We're headed out now to go after Vex! I'm going to need four people including Jo and myself. Hiroshi, Eric! You're with me. Let's move out." Eden says as she grabs her bag. Eric is the guy who Eden had to put in his place back at headquarters. He scoffs at me as he tosses me a small bag. He throws one over his shoulder as Jo, Eden, Eric, And I start to walk towards the city where Vex is located.

"Why are we not bringing everyone with us? If something goes sideways I'm not sure the five of us can win a fight against an entire town of Hybrids and Deviants Jo." Eric says.

"How would you feel if an entire squadron of people walked up to your home and demanded that you came with them? You wouldn't receive that very kindly, would you? And if you had the power to defend yourself you would fight right?" Jo asks Eric. Eric remains silent after Jo asks him that. "We have everything that we need to ensure that our mission is a success. I'll do the talking, Eden is there for my support and Hiroshi and you are the muscle. Just in case anything gets out of hand. Trust me, Eric. Everything will be fine."

Eric nods his head as we spend the next thirty minutes walking in the suffocating heat. I take my jacket off and I wrap it around my head to try and take some of the heat off of my body. After a short while, we finally reach the outskirts of the town. There's a huge tunnel with a metal cover over the top over it that the five of us walk under. A rush of cold air hits our bodies as we all breathe a sigh of relief. I turn to Jo and when I see him he has a very focused look on his face. He puts his hand up and all of us stop moving immediately. I can sense something change in the air as I start to look around me.

"We're not alone," Jo says. All of us except for Jo immediately get into our fighting stances as a wave of hot air enters the tunnel.

"Jo. The map didn't say anything about people being in this tunnel. It was supposed to be abandoned." Eden says.

"Yeah, I know. I guess things change." Jo says as he lights a cigarette. "Look alive. We have company."

Immediately after Jo says that I can hear a couple of pairs of footsteps starting to approach us. When they come into view I recognize the clothes that they're wearing immediately. These are Government hired Hybrids.

"So. This is the legendary Hybrid Killer? He doesn't look all that tough." One of the guys says. He has short brown hair and no really distinguishable features other than a sash going across his chest indicating that he's a Hybrid.

"To be honest I expected a lot more when I finally came face to face with you." The second Hybrid says. He takes his sash off of his chest and he cracks his neck and knuckles as he stares at me. "I've been waiting a long time to kill you. You've killed so many of my friends as the years went by, but it must be my lucky day that we run into you of all people."

"Hiroshi. Do you know these guys?" Jo asks me. I chuckle a bit after he asks me that.

"To be honest not really. But if it's a fight these guys want, I'll give it to them." I say walking towards both of them.

"Are you really going to fight both of them at once Hiroshi?! You don't even know what they're capable of!" Eden yells to me.

"That's okay. That's what makes fighting fun." I say as I take my hoodie off of my head. I'm here to be the muscle like Jo said. It's the least I can do to make sure this mission is a success. You just make sure that Jo reaches Vex safely. Eric and I will take care of these guys."

"Wow, Hiroshi. I was not expecting to hear that from you." Jo says as he lights another cigarette.

Jo starts to laugh as Eden grabs him by his arm and runs past both of the Hybrid soldiers.

"Are you seriously just going to let them go?" The second Hybrid soldier asks. The one with the short brown hair puts his hand up and shakes his head.

"We'll let them deal with Vex. Odds are they won't make it out of that town alive anyway. You know how dangerous he can be. Our main focus right now is the Hybrid Killer and his lackey here." He says pointing at Eric. Eric's eye starts to twitch as the ground starts to shake underneath my feet.

"What the hell did you just call me? I am not this guys lackey!!" Eric yells as he raises his arms into the air. When he does that two giant hands made out of sand appear under both of the Hybrids. The one with the brown hair quickly jumps out of the way while the second one snaps his fingers.

When he does that Eric starts to seemingly move in slow motion. The second Hybrid flips his black hair as he casually walks out of the way of the sand hands.

"He's not worth our time. Let's get rid of him." The brown-haired Hybrid says as he gets in a running stance. He digs his foot into the ground and he immediately disappears from my sight. I can hear the sounds of running all around me as I try to look for him.

"I'm guessing your ability is super speed? Am I right? Pretty simple if you ask me." I say as I look into the direction of the black-haired Hybrid.

"It doesn't matter if you know what my ability is. Unless you can react to light speed movements you're as good as dead. But your friend is going to die first!" He yells as the black-haired Hybrid snaps his fingers. When that happens everything around me starts to slow down considerably. This is probably what Eric experienced. I see why he couldn't hit that guy. He has the ability to slow down someone's perception of time just by snapping his fingers.

I look over at the black-haired guy and I can tell by the look on his face that he thinks that he's already won. I put my hand over my eye and I glare at him. I can feel my eyes start to glow as everything around me starts to speed back up again. When I do that I turn around and I see Eric lying on the ground with his hands covering his face. I look to my right and I catch a glimpse of the brown-haired Hybrid, and that's all I need.

"I'm going to rip your head off for working with that Deviant!" The brown-haired Hybrid yells at Eric. I can tell from the way Eric is shielding himself that he can't see where he's going to attack him. I glare at the brown-haired Hybrid, shutting off his powers and leaving him confused for a split second, and that's all I need to get in between Eric and him. I grab the Hybrid by his face and while he's struggling to break free from my grip I slam him into the ground.

The ground cracks underneath him and he lets out a loud groan as I tear the knife from his hip and I sling it over at the black-haired Hybrid right as he starts to slow down my time again. But it's too late. The knife has already found its way deep into his skull. He collapses onto the ground as I pick the brown-haired Hybrid up by his throat.

"What the hell were you two doing out here? This is way out of the Government's jurisdiction." I ask him.

"That's none of your damn business Deviant!" He spits at me. I tighten my grip around his throat until he starts to scratch and claw at me.

"Tell me what's going on here! What does the Government want with Vex?!" I yell at him.

"I bet you would like to know." He says in between breaths. I can feel myself starting to get angrier because he isn't cooperating. Right before I crush his throat under my hand I can feel Eric put his hand on my shoulder.

"Hiroshi. You don't have to kill him. Whatever the Government has planned I'm sure Jo will figure it out and have a plan for us." Eric says to me. I look back at the Hybrid and back at Eric. He's giving me a look almost like he's pleading for me to drop him. "We aren't here to kill everyone we see. I know it's too late to say not to kill anyone but here's an opportunity for you to respect and trust what Jo has planned."

I take a deep breath in and out as I drop the Hybrid. Without pause, he immediately speeds away from us. Most likely to tell the Government that I'm here.

"You do know that he's going to tell everyone that we're here right? We may have to fight our way out of here in a bit." I say to Eric. He nods at me.

"That's alright. I feel like as long as we got you on our side we'll be fine. I had never encountered Hybrids as powerful as them before. If the Government does come after us I'd like to be fighting alongside you. You definitely have way more experience with those types of guys than I do."

"I could tell that they weren't normal level Hybrids. They were definitely higher up in the command chain. Maybe squad leaders or something. If that's the case then we should probably catch up to Jo and Eden." I say to Eric as we run down the tunnel. It doesn't take us too long to catch up to where both of them are and what we find isn't what I was expecting to find. Jo and Eden's laying are laying face first in the ground when I see them. The ground around them looks as if it's being crushed down from some unseen force. This is probably the work of Vexs gravity abilities.

When Eric and I walk into the town we're immediately surrounded by a group of people that have guns pointed at us. Eric and I immediately put our hands into the air. When we do that I hear a set of footsteps approach us. The group of people opens a pathway up so that this man can walk up to us.

"I'm guessing you're Ve-" My body is immediately sent crashing into the ground. I can feel the weight of my body starting to increase by the second as Vex stands over me.

"I'm sorry. But I'll be the one asking the questions here Hybrid Killer." Vex says.

"Now why are you here? the Government has already taken the money we owe them for the month, now they're going to send you in to finish us off?" Vex asks me angrily. I try to pick my head up off of the ground but it's no use. I can't get him within my line of sight. If I can't do that I can't copy or negate his powers.

"I'm not working for the Government you dumbass." I spit at him. "I'm with an organization called Revenant. We aren't here to kill you or take any of your damn money. We're here to recruit you to join us."

"That's funny. That's exactly what that guy said." Vex says. I'm assuming he's talking about Jo because he starts to laugh.

"I told you. We aren't here to fight you or take anything from you. What we want is for you to join Revenant in the hopes of changing the world. We believe that with your abilities, we can challenge the Government and end this discrimination not only against Deviants but even the Hybrids that associate with them. Getting hunted down and killed just because you're different isn't the right way to live, and that isn't a world where I would want my children growing up in either."

"And do you believe that with me you would have the power to take on the Government? You're talking about a worldwide superpower here." Vex says to Jo.

"I would be lying if I said that if you joined us that we would be guaranteed to win. But what I am saying is that if you do join us, we will be one more step closer to making this world a better place." Jo says. "Just looking around here I can see some of these people are Deviants. Just like Hiroshi and I. Here's a proposal. I can fully guarantee great living conditions and protection from the Government if you join us. You won't ever have to worry about the Government taking anything from you again. From what I can see the living conditions here aren't all that good. I can give everyone here a new home. How have you been keeping everyone afloat up until now? It's not like the Government to let Deviants walk around free like this. Especially if they know where they're located."

"In return for not killing the Deviants that I have here I give the Government at least fifty percent of this town's earnings every month. We don't make much, to begin with, since only a couple of us are old enough to work, but it's better than having them come here and slaughter my entire family. This is the only way I can make sure that they're safe." Vex says to him. "And from what you're telling me. You don't have the means of even going up against them right now. I refuse to join someone who doesn't even have the strength to stand against me. Hell, you can't even stand up in the presence of my Echo."

Echo? What is that? I've never heard of that before. I try to pick myself up again but it's no use. The moment I manage to pick my face up off of the ground I'm slammed back down due to Vex's gravity again.

"You bastard!" I yell as I try to pick myself up again. "How can you stand here and knowingly give money to people who kill innocent people?! And yet you have the nerve to stand here and act as if we aren't worthy of you?! As far as I'm concerned you're just as bad as all of those people who've killed Deviants!"

"Hiroshi! What're you saying?! You're going to mess everything up!" Eden yells at me.

"No. Let him continue Eden," Joe says to her.

After I say that I can feel something rising up inside of me. Something that's fueled by my anger and rage. But I'm not angry at him. I'm angry at the actions that he's taking. I can feel the gravity on my back start to get stronger in response to what I'm saying. Once I feel that I start to dig my hands into the ground when I dig my hands into the ground black and red lightning start to crackle off of my body as a clear aura explodes off of my body. Pieces of the ground start to float off of the ground around me as the weight of the gravity completely disappears from around Eric and me.

"This is a surprise. It looks like you've managed to tap into a bit of your Echo." Vex says as he puts his hand up to me. I can feel my body starting to get heavier as I start to walk closer to him. "You seem to have the ability to negate my powers but it's only powerful enough to only negate my own Echo."

Blood starts to fall from my nose as I stick my hand out to him. To try and copy his ability so that I can trap him underneath his own gravity. I can tell by the look on his face that this surge of power has caught him off guard. I put my hand out to try and copy his ability but for some reason, it's not working. I can feel the veins in my head starting to pulsate as Vex puts his hand out to me, he's trying to crush me under the weight of his gravity but I'm continuing to fight against it. Vex puts both of his hands out to me as the weight of gravity around me seems to triple in weight. I collapse to my knees but I almost immediately rise back to my feet as I let out a loud yell as the thought of little kids being gunned down by government soldiers fill my mind.

"This has definitely caught me off guard," Vex says to me. "It looks like you've managed to tap into your Echo. You're one of the few people that has actually forced me to use my actual power."

"I'm not going to let you continue to help the Government kill Deviants any longer!!" I yell as a huge surge of energy blows everyone around us away. Black and red lightning continue to crackle around the both of us as Vex takes the mask off from his face.

The exact moment he does that my body collapses under the weight of his power once more. The energy that was once surging through me has all but dissipated and I'm left completely drained of any and all energy as Vex stands over top of me. I look up and meet his gaze just as he puts the mask right back over his mouth.

Jo, Eden, And Eric all help me up off of the ground right as Vex turns his back and starts to walk away from me.

"That's the kind of fight I like to see," Vex says. "I believe in the world that you want to make, but what I don't believe in is conviction without action. You didn't show me that when you first showed up, but Hiroshi here showed me something. He showed me that he can stand against an insurmountable enemy and still fight. That's what I'm looking for."

I pick my head up as sweat pours down my face. My gaze meets Vexs as he nods to me.

"But. That one show won't be enough to convince me to join right now. Come back later and prove to me that what you just showed here wasn't a fluke. Show me that you not only have the resolve, but you also have the strength to fight as well. I'll be here waiting for you when you're ready." Vex says as he walks away from us.

The crowd of people all follow him as Eden, Jo, Eric, and I are left alone.

"It looks like we have some recuperating to do," Joe says as he wraps my arm around his shoulder. Eden does the same thing with my other arm as they carry me back to the base camp.

As we're walking back to our camp I catch some flashing lights in the city. I recognize the pattern of flashing instantly. I can feel my stomach drop as Jo looks at me. I must look worried because he gives me a concerned look.

"Is something wrong Hiroshi?" Jo asks me. I shake my head no.

"Something serious is going to happen really soon. I'm afraid that the Government is going to wipe out Vex and his family. We need to be prepared to help those guys out when they attack because it is going to happen, and to be honest. I don't think I'll be enough to stop what's coming." I say to everyone.

"You're getting stronger Hiroshi. It's unbelievable that someone who didn't know about Echoes up until today was able to draw out their own in response to their own emotions." Jo says to me. "Even I have a bit of trouble keeping my Echo up for an extended period of time. But you were able to draw out so much of your own power when you needed it most. We're going to be just fine. Like I said before. I trust you Hiroshi."

As I look into the distance the flashing lights continue to shine in the sky as I drop my head to the ground. After a little more walking we finally reach the base camp. When we do Jo and Eden drop me off in my tent and I find myself drifting off to sleep as words that Jo said to me bounce around in my head. But my sleep doesn't last too long because before I know it I'm woken up by the sound of gunfire and explosions in the distance.

•Authors Note: "How do you feel about the introduction of this story's energy source "Echo"? How do you feel about Vex? Do you think Hiroshi will be powerful enough to beat Vex or will he lose?

Ana Fowl