Vincent Macleod: Agent of T.R.A.C.E.

By Derek Smith All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Adventure

Chapter 11

In the weeks that followed, Vincent neglected his friends and spent the majority of his time with Alexis. She made him feel like Superman, nothing could keep him from flying high.

Fall was nearing its end and the holiday season was just around the corner. The entirety of Southdale came out in full force to deck the streets with lights and decorations as they did every year. From the massive Santa’s Workshop constructed in the town center to the Christmas Carnival, something festive was always happening in Southdale.

Vincent stepped outside into the brisk morning air one Saturday morning on his way to meet Alexis for lunch before suffering silently through the latest sappy chick flick. Without a care in the world and a skip in his step, he made his way down the front walk but stopped when he saw his father in the garage juggling a tangled ball of coloured lights. William really tried not to go overboard this time of year, but over decorating for Christmas was his Achilles heel.

William’s eyes lit up when he spotted his son. “Oh good, Vincent, you’re right on time. Give me a hand with these lights?”

Vincent hated to disappoint his parents. “Actually, Dad, I was kind of on my way to see Alexis.”

William nodded. “Well, I guess that’s okay then. I just kind of figured that it’s become a tradition for us of sorts. I keep forgetting that you’re getting older with a life of your own and don’t exactly have as much time for your old dad anymore.”

His parents had mastered the art of the guilt trip. Vincent sighed and smiled. “All right, Dad, I’ll hang the lights. Let’s just get a move on so I’m not late with Alexis.”

William walked over with the large ball of lights. “Well, I mean, you don’t have to help me. It would just take a little longer setting up.”

“Dad, do you want my help or not?” Exasperated, Vincent crossed his arms and gave his father a look.

William knew he had won and grinned as he handed Vincent the lights. “Great! I need you to untangle and check for any dead bulbs, then hang them the way we usually do along the roof. The ladder is on the lawn and the hooks are in a bag over by the extension cords. I’m going down to the basement to pull the lawn decorations out of storage. I can give you a hand after that.”

Alone, Vincent stood over the mess of lights and glanced at his watch. He was running short on time and it was looking doubtful he’d make it to pick up Alexis on time. Pulling through the wires, Vincent was determined to get his dad a proper storage system for them as a gift this year. Within a few short minutes, Vincent had completely untangled the mess and laid the lights out on the garage floor. He plugged them and confirmed they all functioned before running to the ladder and stringing them along the rain gutter.

The most tedious part of hanging the lights was digging out the plastic hooks one by one and spacing them correctly. He followed the line to the pile below and sighed. There is no way I’m going to finish this on time, he told himself.

Vincent climbed down the ladder and pulled his cell phone. He was about to dial Alexis’ number and let her know he’d be a little late when he realized he could still accomplish both tasks without letting either party down. He put the phone away and took a quick look around to make sure no one was watching. Having his friends’ abilities was a definite bonus, and he raised his hands to use the telekinetic ability he had inherited from Justin. Immensely impressed with himself, he was all smiles as the hooks flew from the bag to the gutters. Once those were in place, Vincent motioned for the lights, each section perfectly hung.

Vincent heard the interior door to the garage slam shut so he ran up the ladder with an extension cord. William carried some reindeer from their sleigh display and dropped them when saw his son’s progress. Vincent turned around on the ladder and waved. “I’m just plugging the lights in and then everything is done.”

Vincent climbed down the ladder and stood beside his father. William furrowed his brow and inspected the lights . “There is no way that you could have hung those lights that fast without cutting some corners. I’ve always said that if you are going to do a job, you should do it right or don’t bother at all.”

“Dad, I checked all of the lights and everything. The hooks are in place and all the lights are working.”

William plugged the extension cord into the outlet on the side of the house. When he noticed that all of the lights were lit and hung properly, he knew he had to concede. “Well, I still don’t understand how you did it so fast, but maybe I should ask you to do more when you are trying to get away from here more often.”

Vincent laughed and twisted his wrist to check his watch. “Oh my god, I’m so late! I’ll see you later, Dad. “He made a mad dash for his car and peeled out of the driveway with a deafening screech.

Praying Alexis wouldn’t be too upset with him, he rang the doorbell with his fingers crossed. As the door opened Alexis made her way outside on to the step and he noticed an extremely concerned look on her face.

“Lexi, I’m sorry that I got here so late. Dad really needed my help with the Christmas lights, but I swear I will never be late again.”

She attempted to smile. “Oh, don’t worry about it, Vincent. To be honest, I didn’t even realize that you were late.”

Vincent could tell that something was on her mind as he led her to his car and opened the door for her. He could have used his adopted telepathy to find out for himself but he swore he’d never cross that line with her. “Are you okay, Lexi? It seems like something’s really bothering you.”

Alexis paused to collect her thoughts. “I need to talk to you about something, Vince, but not here. Can we just go get something to eat? I’m starving.”

Vincent pulled out of the parking lot and headed for one of her favourite restaurants thinking it might cheer her up. He pulled the car into the local Burger Boss and took Alexis inside. They ordered and waited quietly for their food to arrive. As much as he loved a juicy Big Boss Burger, Vincent could not help but question Alexis as she still appeared distracted.

“I said I was sorry for being late. Or have I done something else to upset you?”

Alexis leaned forward and grabbed Vincent’s free hand. “Vince, this has nothing to do with the fact that you were late. You’re not just my boyfriend, you’re also my best friend and I feel like I can tell you anything. Our relationship has moved so quickly since we started dating, and that’s okay because we have been friends for so long. Things are just on a whole new level now and I don’t know how to tell you the one thing I really need to tell you.”

This was serious. He put down his half eaten burger and gave her his undivided attention. “Alexis, I care about you more than anything else in the world. You can tell me whatever you have to tell me and I promise that everything will be alright.”

A tear rolled down the side of her cheek. “I don’t know any other way to put this. I’m pregnant.”

Vincent’s throat swelled up and he found it difficult to breathe. Nothing in the world could have prepared him for this. Lost for words, Vincent saw Alexis was waiting for any kind of response from him. He forced a swallow and asked, “Are you okay? How long have you known?”

Alexis sniffled. “I took two tests this morning and they were both positive. I’m fine, but I’m also scared because I don’t know what we’re going to do. My mother is going to freak out when she finds out about this.”

Vincent moved to the other side of the table and sat beside Alexis where he wrapped an arm around her for comfort. The warmth of his body soothed Alexis and she leaned against him, allowing herself a moment of weakness knowing he would always support her.

Vincent knew that one day his work with TRACE would impact the one he wanted with Alexis. He was mulling this over when he suddenly recalled the prophecy of The Six and couldn’t help but wonder if this is what was supposed to happen. The prophecy stated that he was the key to unlocking White Eco. If his child was a male, then he too would possess abilities and possibly be burdened with the same daunting task as the father. This would not only make him an interest to TRACE but also a target for the Elites.

Vincent couldn’t risk the possibility that his child could end up in harm’s way. “What we are going to do is stick together, Lexi. I’m going to make sure everything works out. We just need to keep this quiet from everyone for a while until I can figure it all out.”

“I don’t feel right about lying to my mother,” she said. “I tell her everything and she can tell when I’m hiding something from her.”

Vincent ran his hand up and down Alexis’ arm. “I’m not asking you to lie to her. I’m just asking that you keep it quiet until I find a way to make it easier for our families to take the news. Let’s just continue going about our lives the way we always do, and we’ll tell them when the time is right.”

Alexis nodded in agreement. The two sat in the booth and continued talking for a few hours before deciding to skip their movie and call it a night. Later that evening, Vincent walked Alexis to her door. The frozen wood planks that formed the porch creaked with every step as Alexis approached the door. He noticed that all of the lights were off, which was uncommon in the Sommers’ home.

“Carrie is out for the weekend with some friends and Mom is working the night shift.” She unwrapped her scarf and turned to Vincent, still standing on the porch. “Would you like to come in for a bit? I really hate being in the house all alone.”

He accepted her invitation, and hung his jacket in the entrance closet before sitting next to Alexis on the living room couch. She fumbled for a quilt draped over the back of the couch just behind her which Vincent got for her and lay it over her lap. It wasn’t particularly cold but there was little colour in her cheeks. He looked over at the fireplace and smiled. “I’ll light a fire for you. I can’t have you freezing.”

There were a few dry logs in a basket beside the fireplace and matches on the mantel. It only took him a couple of minutes to get the flames going and then he returned to the couch. She pulled his arm around her shoulders and leaned into him. Alexis felt his tension and worried she was responsible. “Are you alright? You don’t seem like yourself today. I am sorry if what I told you earlier ruined your day.”

Turning so he could meet her eyes, he said, “You didn’t ruin my day. This isn’t about me, this is about us. I don’t want you to worry. I meant it when I told you earlier that we would figure this out.”

She knew him well enough to know he was trying to avoid admitting what he was really thinking. “I know it’s a lot to take in right now, Vince, but I had to tell you. Now you are worried and I didn’t want that.”

“I’ll be honest, it’s a lot to take in. But I am not worried. I’m just tired from helping my dad with the lights this morning, that’s all.”

He rested his head on top of hers and looked around the room. A smallish fake Christmas tree only half decorated stood in the corner near the front window, a box of old and broken ornaments sitting next to it. “That can’t be your tree sitting over there,” exclaimed Vincent.

“It is,” she replied. “We’ve had that tree for a while. Mom got it from Goodwill shortly after Dad left.”

Vincent shook his head in disbelief. “Let me buy you a better one. You shouldn’t have to spend Christmas looking at that god awful thing.”

Alexis giggled and searched for his hand under the blanket, giving it a squeeze. “I’ve spent plenty of Christmases looking at that god awful tree. What’s one more year going to hurt?”

“You shouldn’t have to live like this, you deserve better.”

“Possessions don’t matter, Vince. I have you and that’s all I need to be happy. I’m just scared. I’m scared that I am going to end up like my mother and you will get wise and leave me,” she admitted.

Vincent tilted her face toward his and wiped away an errant tear. She was fighting hard to keep the damn from breaking. “I would never leave you, Alexis. You mean too much to me! What your father did was terrible and I would never do the same to you. I would never hurt you, I could never hurt you.”

Alexis’ voice and face were desperate. “Then tell me you love me, Vince. Tell me you love me and promise you’ll never leave me!”

Vincent pulled her in and hugged her tightly. “You know you mean everything to me, Alexis. I just don’t want to say that tonight. I don’t want you to think that I’m saying it just because you asked. I want it to be genuine when I say it. Does that make any sense?”

Alexis placed her head on Vincent’s lap. “Then promise me you will never leave and that you will always be here when I need you.”

Vincent placed his hand on Alexis’ head and stroked his fingers gently through her hair. “Alexis, I promise that I will always be here when you need me and I will never leave you, no matter what.”

Eventually she drifted off to sleep in his lap. Vincent’s mind was completely occupied by the situation. He slowly got up from the couch, lifting Alexis’ head and slipping a cushion underneath as he adjusted her blanket by pulling it up over her shoulders. He kneeled down, gently kissed her on the forehead, and whispered in her ear. “I will never hurt you, Alexis, but now I have to go and make sure that no one else can ever hurt you. I promise that I will give you everything you need. I will give you the life that you deserve.”

Vincent crept quietly across the floor, collected his jacket, and made his way out the front door. He locked the door from the inside and made sure he could hear the soft click of the latch. With one last look in her direction, he whispered his goodbye.

#

By the time he returned home, his parents were sound asleep. He slipped in through the back door and tiptoed to his room, opened his closet door, and called the elevator to his Nest. He sat in his chair fixated on his computer monitor when Trish contacted him through his terminal. “It’s a little late to be down here, Vincent. How was your night with Alexis?”

Vincent looked down at his lap before glancing back up at the monitor. “You don’t already know what happened with Alexis?”

“Vincent, your personal life is restricted as far as I am concerned. I have no business following you around. What you do in your spare time is for you only unless you ask for me. So what happened with Alexis that has you so puzzled, if you don’t mind me asking?”

Vincent paused for a moment. “She told me that she loved me and I couldn’t say it back. I mean I wanted to, but it just didn’t feel right.”

Trish laughed. “I am sure that Alexis can tell that you mean well. Just because you couldn’t say it does not mean that you don’t love her. She can tell by the way you treat her that you love her, just as I can. Whenever you mention her, your blood pressure goes up just a little.”

“It only does that because I’m nervous.”

Trish laughed at her son’s bashfulness. “You’ll know when the time is right for you to say those magical words. Is that all that’s keeping you up so late?”

Vincent shook his head. “There are a few other things, but I don’t really want to get into them right now. Part of me is still upset about losing Giest in New York. What if he isn’t even alive anymore for that matter?”

Trish could not stand to see Vincent troubled. “I don’t believe the Elites would have gone to such great lengths if they were planning on killing him. They have some kind of plan for him; what that is we may not know until Ross comes out of his coma.”

“How is he doing? Is there any progress on his condition?”

Trish brought up a surveillance camera on the monitor so Vincent could observe Ross hooked up to several machines and lying still in the bed like a corpse. “Unfortunately, it appears as though his vitals are still the same. All we can do is wait.”

All he could do was shake his head. “I just hate having to sit and wait around when Ross has the answers buried somewhere in that brain of his.”

Trish turned off the feed. “You need to be patient, Vincent. We will get the answers from Ross as soon as he wakes up.”

Suddenly, a light bulb went off in his head. Vincent jumped out of his chair and into the hover rail.

“What are you doing?” Trish inquired.

Vincent accessed Trish through his communicator as the door closed. “I just had a brilliant idea. I’m coming to TRACE.”

#

Upon reaching headquarters, Vincent beelined for the infirmary and entered Ross’ private room. He approached the giant slowly, hoping the sleeping man wouldn’t abruptly wake up and grab him by the throat. There weren’t many attendants in the area and he knew they’d get an alert if Ross’ vitals changed, so he was fairly certain he wouldn’t be interrupted. Ready to claim the information they desperately needed, Vincent placed his hands on the sides of Ross’ head and closed his eyes.

Vincent had barely gathered any Eco when a voice sternly shouted, “Stop!”

He opened his eyes to find his grandfather and Justin standing in the room. “I wasn’t going to hurt him,” he mumbled. “I was just going to use my abilities to go into his mind and find the information that we needed.”

Justin checked the monitoring devices while Curt admonished the boy. “I understand, Vincent, but the fact remains that you would have - could have - hurt him. Being in a coma for this long has weakened Ross’ mind as it is. Digging around in there could scramble it beyond repair, damaging it permanently. Or you could have killed him, and then where would we be?”

Vincent pushed to defend himself. “Don’t you even care about what happened to Giest? What about Jack? Don’t you want all of this to be over?”

Curt looked on at Vincent. “Of course I want those things, but at what cost? Another man’s life? And as for Jack and this being over, you are in no way ready to face him - not without the proper training.”

Justin looked over at Vincent. “Curt is right, Vince. We need to let nature take its course here. The time will come where we have to face the music, we don’t need to force it to happen now when we aren’t prepared.”

Vincent was beyond frustration. He wanted the answers now, no more waiting. He walked past the multitude of wires attached to Ross and reached for the door.

As he turned the handle, Curt shouted after him. “I don’t know what has gotten into you, but until you have a clear head and want to discuss your issues, I want you to stay away from here.”

Vincent stormed through the hallways and took the hover rail home.

#

Every waking moment he didn’t spend with Alexis was consumed with growing frustration and anger at the whole Ross situation. They still hadn’t told their parents, which meant Vincent took on the responsibility of picking up clothes that helped disguise the baby bump.

He’d been banished from visiting TRACE but that didn’t stop him from asking Trish for updates. He continued to refuse his grandfather’s offer to talk, instead internalizing his hatred. But that dam was starting to break. His parents assumed it was the pressures of graduating and choosing a college. The only person around him he didn’t snap at was Alexis.

Vincent’s Nest looked much like his bedroom. Wads of paper piled up in one corner near an overflowing wastebasket. He had stuck post-it notes and photographs to the wall, linking them with coloured strings like he’d seen on so many television shows and movies. The computer constantly hummed as his search programs scoured world databases for clues.

He tapped his foot and kept checking his watch. Finally he heard the hover rail pulling into the bay. “About time,” he barked when X stepped out.

“Justin, Matt, and Adam are at TRACE waiting for you. What’s so important that you needed me all of a sudden?”

Vincent quickly jumped into the hover rail as he looked back at X. “I can’t get into it right now. Mom thinks I am in my room doing my math homework. Make sure you stay in there and do not go out of the house under any circumstance.”

X was suspicious. “Why is it the last couple of times I’ve been here you don’t want me going anywhere? Just what in the heck is going on, Vincent? You’ve been acting really strange lately.”

Vincent snapped back at X. “Look, X, it’s not your job to question every little thing that I do! Your job is to live my life while I deal with TRACE business and right now that’s what I have to do.”

X nodded his head after the lashing Vincent had given him. “Okay, okay. I don’t know who pissed in your cereal this morning but don’t forget that I have feelings, too. Just because I have to live your life for you doesn’t mean you have the right to treat me as your personal punching bag.”

Vincent said nothing as he sat down in the hover rail and closed the pressured window. The transport headed for TRACE and X took the elevator to Vincent’s room.

X sat at the computer to play games he was interrupted by a ringing noise. He moved some textbooks around and discovered Vincent had left his cell phone behind. It was Alexis. X hadn’t spoken to Alexis since just before the Fall Formal. His hand shook excitedly as he pressed accept.

It didn’t take long for his to notice she wasn’t her usual bubbly self. Her voice was more subdued and deeply troubled. “Vincent, I need to see you.”

X stammered and he replied, “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea, Alexis. I have a ton of homework to get done today.”

Alexis was silent for a moment. “I don’t know how much longer I can keep this from my mother. The pregnancy is showing more and more every day now.”

Caught completely off guard, X felt his heart drop. How could Vincent keep this from him? Eventually he realized he hadn’t responded as Alexis kept calling Vincent’s name.

“Yeah, Lexi, I’m still here. Listen, I’ll call you back in a little bit and we can talk about this. My mom is coming and I don’t want her to hear what we are talking about.”

Alexis sounded disappointed as she hung up the phone. X found himself squeezing the cellphone so hard the case popped free. He could have chosen to wait until Vincent returned and asked him privately about the whole thing, but he was angry.

His hands were still shaking as he summoned the elevator.

#

Vincent entered the war room to see his friends all waiting eagerly for his arrival. Justin stepped forward. “We got your message. What is going on?”

Matt stood leaning against one of the walls. “Would it kill you to see your friends every now and again? Or are we just personal bodyguards you summon at your whim?”

Vincent rolled his eyes. “This isn’t the time for that. I have something I need to propose to you all, and it needs to remain between the four of us. If you decide you want no part of this, I understand and I will do it alone.” Certain there were no spies lurking on the other side of the door, he continued. “We end this thing with Morticide and the Elites today.”

The room fell completely silent. It was Justin who broke the ice. “Is there something you know that we don’t? We haven’t received any intel or orders sanctioning any kind of assault against them.”

There was an anger in his eyes his friend had never witnessed before. “There’s no new intel but I know how we can get it. And no, this isn’t sanctioned. There comes a time when a guy needs to ask his friends for support no matter what. I need this ended immediately, and I am asking you guys for your help.”

“I have a question,” Adam raised his hand. “Just what the hell has got you acting like this? Why the sudden urgency? Everything’s been quiet since New York. Did you wake up today and say to yourself ‘Hey I have nothing much to do besides some laundry, maybe take in a movie or something? Oh, and while I’m at it, why don’t I go after one of the biggest threats the world has ever seen and get myself killed!’”

“I can’t tell you why I need to do this,” he answered, clearly frustrated, “but I knew there was a chance you guys wouldn’t see things the way I do.” He reached for the doorknob, resolved to go it alone.

He hadn’t even turned the knob when Matt said, “Well, I sure as hell ain’t going to sit here and miss the fight of the century. I’m in, Vince. What do you need me to do?”

“I’ve never been able to turn my back on you before, Vincent, so I guess that means that I am in as well.” Adam stood up and moved closer to Matt.

Justin was still trying to wrap his head around it all. “Well, I can’t say I follow your logic, but I’m not going to be the only one who stays behind. How exactly do you intend to find out where the Elites are hiding out?”

Vincent knew he required his friends’ help and was grateful they decided to help. “I’m not going to find out where they are, Justin. You are.”

Justin looked confused. “What? How am I supposed to do that?”

Vincent scratched the back of his neck. “I need you to go to the infirmary and pull the location from Barricade’s subconscious.”

“We already discussed this! The body needs the mind in order to function. If I go into Ross’ subconscious while he is in a coma, it could cause permanent brain damage or even kill him in the process.”

Vincent placed his hands on Justin’s shoulders. “I have absolute faith that you can pull this off. I need that information.”

Matt slapped Justin on the back. “Besides, Justin, the guy tried to kill Vincent. Who cares if we give him a little brain damage or even kill him? I think he deserves everything he gets for the things he has done.”

Justin looked back at Matt in disgust. “Just because a man commits crimes does not make his life worth any less than one of ours.”

Vincent placed his arms into the air. “Okay. Everyone, please stop fighting about this. Justin, can you do it for me or not?” Justin reluctantly nodded. ” Matt and Adam, go with Justin in case he needs any help. I’ve been banned so I can’t have my grandfather find out I was anywhere near Ross.”

“Speaking of which,” Matt started, “he’s on his way here. Something about checking up on things and taking a day off from being Giest. You haven’t seen him since in months, and I don’t think he’ll be pleased to see you right now.”

He drummed his fingers on the table. “I’ll cut him off and keep him occupied as long as I can. Hopefully he’ll be so livid with me that he’ll ignore any interruptions. Let’s meet at the Icarus once you have the coordinates.”

The boys split up at the elevator, Vincent heading in the direction of the hover rail while the others went the opposite way.

Ross was lying across two tables pushed together just to support his massive body. Matt cautiously pulled out his swords, preparing to defend them should the monster wake from his coma as Justin moved over to Ross’ head. “God, Matt, put those away!”

Adam looked over at a nearby table and saw the inhibitor collar that they had removed from Vincent’s fight in New York. He picked it up from the table and held it close to Ross’ neck and looked at Justin. “A precaution, just in case.”

Justin held his hands over Ross’ head and slowly delved into his subconscious. It became increasingly difficult to focus as it took most of his energy to avoid causing any damage. After a few minutes, bursts of visuals came flooded Justin’s mind and he quickly opened his eyes to find sweat pouring down his face. “I have it. But there’s more to this than we could have imagined. I’m not so sure we should be going to face Morticide without talking to the colonel.”

Matt grabbed Justin by the arm and pulled him towards the door. “We don’t have time for this. We have to move before we miss our chance.”

Adam followed, tucking the collar into his armor. He had a nagging feeling that it would come in handy at some point.

#

Vincent had barely made it off the elevator before he spotted X heading right for him. He charged at the clone, grabbing him by the neck of his shirt and shoved him against the wall. “What the hell are you doing here? I told you to stay at home!”

X’s voice cracked. “Alexis called your cell phone. I know about the baby and that you’re trying to keep it a secret from everyone. You need to tell Curt or else I’m going to.”

Vincent knew that if X blew the whistle his plan would be compromised. He let go of X’s collar and sighed. “You’re right, X. I should just come clean with him about everything. He’s on his way here, and I’m going to meet up with him and tell him the whole story.”

Vincent walked X towards his dorm room and opened the door for him. “Why don’t you wait here and I’ll come get you after I talk with my grandfather.”

X seemed a little unsure. “Why don’t I come with you and we can tell him together?”

There would be no reasoning with X. Vincent pushed the boy into the room and slammed the door shut, using his technopath ability to jam the lock. Unfortunately, as Vincent hurried past his grandfather’s office, he noticed the colonel had just arrived.

As he placed his hand over the door pad, Trish spoke to her son. “Vincent, I know about the baby and what you did to X. I’ve known about the pregnancy since the moment Alexis told you and have kept my silence for you. I understand your reasoning as well as your fears. I assure you that everyone here just wants to help and will let no harm come to you, Alexis, or your unborn child.”

Vincent felt a twinge of remorse for his actions. He didn’t want to operate outside the purview of TRACE, and he most certainly did not want to betray his grandfather’s faith in him. “If you know what I fear, then you know that what I am about to do what is not only to protect Alexis but my entire family. I just hope that you and everyone else can forgive me.”

Before she could warn her father, Vincent used the same technique on his keypad that he had on X’s room. As the lock jammed shut, Curt looked up from his desk, walked over to the door to find it locked shut. Vincent gave his grandfather a sympathetic look and ignored the shouting, then ran for the elevator. He was able to override Trish’s lockdown and was nearing Level One when his grandfather came over the communicator.

“Vincent, I have no idea what is going on with you but you need to explain your actions immediately!”

The elevator doors opened and Vincent ran toward the Icarus hangar. “I put my trust in you and TRACE, Grandpa, and now I ask that you do the same for me.”

“Trust you with what, Vincent? What is going on?”

Vincent saw the hangar door ajar and picked up the pace. “I know where the Elites are. I’m going to put a stop to this mess once and for all.”

The echo of Curt slamming his fist echoed through the communicator. “If you know their location, you need to share that information with us. Going after them on your own practically ensures you will not return. Your father is far too powerful for you to handle on your own, and I am not about to lose any more of my men or family members to that madman!”

“I’m sorry, Grandpa. I just have to do this.”

“Then I’m sorry as well, Vincent,” came Curt’s sullen voice, “as I also have to do what needs to be done.”

The shrill pierce of the alarm system blared throughout the TRACE facility, and the colonel’s voice erupted over the intercom. “All strike team agents, be on the lookout for Vincent Macleod. Place all pulse rifles on stun and take him or any associates alive for questioning.”

Now steps away from the Icarus, Vincent found his friends in a panic as they waited with the plane ready to take off. “What did you do, Vince?” yelled Adam he closed the door behind the late arrival.

“I locked Curt in his office. No one was hurt. Justin, get the coordinates?” he asked, slipping into the co-pilot seat beside Justin.

“I did,” he replied. Justin entered the coordinates into the aircraft’s navigational system but the software did not like the information received.

“No match found for navigational coordinates. Would you like to proceed to destination?” the AI asked.

Vincent looked out the cockpit window and saw the strike team closing in on the aircraft. “Are you sure you got the right coordinates, Justin? We can’t exactly go back and check again at this point!”

Justin checked that he was strapped in and readied his hand on the flight stick. “These are the coordinates I got, but I have a bad feeling about this. I saw in Ross’ mind that I question whether or not could be true and I really think we should have discussed this with Colonel Marshall before commandeering the Icarus.”

The ceiling was now fully retracted, allowing Justin to guide the plane to the surface. Vincent watched the strike team fade away below them. “We don’t have time for TRACE to gather intel. We need to do this now.”

With the jet well above the surface, the boys were awestruck by the sight of the large hole in the middle of the ocean below. A concrete wall held the ocean back from engulfing the secret organization while the steel doors closed, after which the wall sunk and allowed the water to hide its existence from the rest of the world.

Vincent was preparing himself to face one of his greatest fears when the plane turned to face the New York City skyline. “What are you doing, Justin? Why are you turning us around?”

“I’m not doing this!” he exclaimed. “The plane is flying itself. It’s Trish - she’s taking us back to TRACE”

Adam crossed his arms over his chest. “Oh great, I’m so getting grounded for this.”

The radio switched on and in a gentle voice, Curt addressed his grandson. “Vincent, X and Trish told me about Alexis and the baby, so I understand why you feel you need to place an assault against Morticide. We have the resources to ensure their safety, so there is no reason for you to take action right this second. I’ve asked Trish to bring you back to TRACE so that we can discuss this.”

There was an audible gasp from his friends. Vincent regretted not telling them sooner and apologized. “I’m sorry, guys. Alexis told me a couple of months ago that she was pregnant. I was worried that if it were a boy that it may lead to Morticide coming after him instead of me.”

Justin placed his hand on Vincent’s shoulder. “We’re your best friends, Vince. You can tell us anything, and we’ll be there to support you no matter what.”

Vincent slumped his shoulders. “It doesn’t matter now. Everyone knows and Morticide is still out there. I don’t know how I am going to keep Alexis or our child safe if Morticide comes for me.”

Adam spoke up. “Well, we can still go. You were able to shut people down at TRACE, surely you can use your powers to turn us around. Unless you were always too scared to face your destiny. We can just go back to TRACE and, I don’t know, get grounded or something. You know I’m still behind you.”

“You know I’m not going to follow the rules anytime soon. Let’s go kick their ass!” Matt shouted, thrusting a fist into the air.

Vincent rested his hands on the console looked over at Justin. When his friend smiled and nodded his head, Vincent called back to his grandfather. “I’m sorry, Grandpa, but we’ve discussed this as a team and have decided to go ahead with our mission. We’ll have to reschedule that talk for when we get back.”

He shorted out any communication back to TRACE while leaving the jet’s on board control system unharmed for Justin’s use. With the Icarus back in Justin’s control, he returned the plane to its original course

#

While engineers worked to fix the disabled keypad to his office, Colonel Marshall paced the floor of his office silently cursing his grandson’s actions.
“Trish, were you able to retrieve the coordinates before Vincent shut you out?”

“I’m uploading them to all available units as we speak.”

“All units, prepare for immediate mobilization to the location Trish has provided. If those boys are going into a war zone, they are going to need an army. I just hope we can catch up to them in time. Good luck, and godspeed, boys.”

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