The streets of downtown Icon were empty and silent. Not a single person could be seen. There were no buses, taxi cabs or even any pedestrian vehicles in sight. None except for the black military convoys owned by Vincent Clayborn. A squadron of five convoys sped down the empty streets in single file, as three black jets patrolled the night sky above them.
Inside the middle convoy sat over a dozen of Vincent's troops, loading up their weapons and securing their black military grade armor. At the back of the convoy sat Vincent himself, now back in his original form wearing his black buisness suit and sunglasses. His intensity could be felt radiating off of him, even among the tense vibes shared by his soldiers. He focused his attention on a black tablet like device, just as Ashley Williams did, who traded in her civilian clothing for combat gear. The two studied their devices, attempting to triangulate the coordinates of the flying E.T. that was still on the loose.
This had all been relatively routine for Vincent and his men, but to Lacey who sat across from them, this was annoyingly similar to what they had been doing when tracking Spencer. She had earlier been denied searching for the creature from the air in her Omnisuit, which irritated her a great deal. She was hoping to race the jets to further test her armor's capabilities. Or at least get a break from Vincent's constant brooding.
Lacey's head was swimming with concerns. Aside from how they were going to find the creature as well as Spencer, she couldn't help but think back to Alex. There was no telling if he had witnessed the prior events, or what he could be thinking after Spencer tried to hit on her. At the very least, she did not have to think about her father worrying about her whereabouts. Ashley had taken the liberty of calling him; pretending to be a parent, and informed him that Lacey and her 'daughter' were having a slumber party.
Though she detested lying to her dad, the gesture was appreciated. If it hadn't been for Ashley, Lacey would have ditched Vincent a long time ago. It was abundantly clear to her that he was still withholding information. Being an undercover military operative, she probably should have expected this. Still, despite the stressful situation and Vincent's sour attitude, she figured now would be a good time to play Nancy Drew again.
"So listen" She began."I got some questions I need answered." Lacey spoke sternly as if she were speaking to Collins again, or scolding her father for his pension for junk food.
"Good for you" Said Vincent without even looking up from his tablet. Ashley had noticed the frustration growing in her face at Vincent's blatant disregard. She decided to chime in before Lacey's face got too red.
"Sir, don't you think it's about time she knew the whole situation?" Ashley asked.
"Not now." He replied sharply. Ashley's professional demeanor began to dissolve. She put her tablet down and shifted her body toward Vincent.
"Sir, Lacey has been extremely patient and cooperative so far, despite all the chaos. I think we owe it to her to answer any questions she has." Lacey became a little concerned. She herself had no problem speaking to people that way, no matter their age or status, but Ashley worked for Vincent. She did not want her getting into trouble for her sake.
Vincent sighed heavily, still trying not to pay either of them any mind. "Now isn't the time-"
"You've said that enough." Ashley interrupted. "Remember, there's nothing forcing her to stay in this convoy. If she decided to leave, there would be nothing here that could stop her. Not the agents, not any of our high caliber weaponry, not even the air strike team." Lacey was outright astonished at her boldness.
"And I've never seen you fly at hyper sonic speed before...Sir" Ashley finished. Vincent finally set his device down and let out another heavy sigh. It was clear that there was no getting around this. At this point Ashley was Lacey's hero. She smiled at Lacey, who was still in awe, and got back to work on her tablet.
Vincent removed his sunglasses and rubbed his eyes for a moment. Mentally preparing himself to regurgitate information he had to give to all of his agents at one point. He sat back in his seat and crossed his legs, finally giving Lacey his full attention.
"Okay Ms. Banville." Vincent said unenthusiastically. "I'm an open book… What do you want to know?"
Lacey had been itching to flood him with her inquisitions. Now that the time has come, she didn't know where to begin. She thought to herself for a moment, confident enough to ignore Vincent's impatient gaze thanks to Ashley. "Well, what is all of this?" She finally asked.
"All of what?" Vincent asked back. Lacey looked around the inside of the convoy, and at all of the agents armed to the teeth with weaponry.
"All of…. This." She said again, gesturing to everything around her. "What is this, and who are you people?"
Vincent sat quietly for a moment. He understood her question, but was still a little bit hesitant to answer. "You've got to start trusting people eventually sir." Ashley suddenly said, as though she could read his thoughts. Vincent was slightly annoyed at this, but could not deny that she was correct about telling her the truth. Lacey was not going to get his trust that easily, but he did owe her some answers.
"A.R.C" Vincent said. "I am the Prime Director of a military branch called A.R.C."
"A.R.C?" Lacey asked. "What's that mean?"
"It stands for Alien Response Corp." He said. "We deal with combating, studying and communicating with extra terrestrial encounters worldwide. Although we haven't been doing much studying or communicating these days."
"So it's your job to fight aliens." Lacey always found it necessary to simplify things. "That is so awesome! How long have you guys been doing this?"
"Over twenty years now" Vincent replied. Lacey was a little surprised at this. "Are you familiar with the Roswell Incident?" He asked her.
"Um, yeah." Lacey said, while trying to recall. "That's when the Government found that crashed alien ship in New Mexico right? They supposedly hid the debris and the alien pilots at Area 51. Most people think that whole thing was just a myth."
"It's no myth." Vincent stated earnestly. "I was one of the pilots."
"What…You!?" Lacey exclaimed in disbelief. "How is that possible? That happened back in the nineteen fourties!"
"I'm a lot older than I look" Vincent said. "I was being perused by hostile forces who wanted to take the Trinity Force. I was ordered to hide them here on Earth. That was before we knew how technologically advanced you were."
"So you brought the Trinity force here." Said Lacey. "I'm guessing a lot of bad people want to get them, huh? They must be pretty valuable."
"They are the single most advanced and dangerous pieces of tech on the face of existence." He said as he watched the softly glowing sigma on his palm. "Once they choose a host, the Trinity force becomes one with them. It literally takes everything that you are and weaponizes it. You can do anything… Be anything. It all depends on what makes you unique. It stays with you for the rest of your life. And once you die, it dies as well."
"It's like these things are alive or something." Lacey added, as she gripped her shoulder where her own sigma rested. "So…. Why did it turn me into a turkey?" She joked. She was not complaining, but the avian characteristics of her Omnisuit did seem a bit random to her.
"It didn't turn you into a turkey." Vincent corrected. "The Omnisuit simply evolved into a form that best suited your persona. You like to free run, right? Maybe that's because you're not afraid to walk your own path, to go against the grain. You want the freedom to make your own choices and find your own destiny. What better representation of that than a creature unbound by gravity?"
Lacey crossed her arms and gave Vincent an ear to ear grin. She hadn't looked at it that way before. "Wow, Vincent! That was pretty poetic." She teased. "And the Trinity Force turned you into a space Knight…. Because?"
"Wouldn't you rather know who's been trying to kill you lately?" Vincent was obviously trying to change the subject. Still, it was a valid question.
"Oh, yeah." She responded. "I gather that you've been fighting off monsters like this since before you came to Earth. Who exactly is after us, and what do they want with the Trinity force?"
"She calls herself Diva." said Vincent. "Not much is known of her origins. Most info we do have on her is speculation. All we know for certain is that she's something of a cult leader. She and her followers believe that they were chosen by some god like entity to wipe out races they deem unworthy to exist, or simply refuse to worship her. She has waged war with scores of worlds and civilizations for centuries now. So far she's responsible for the destruction of over ten entire planets…Including my home world."
"Oh my God." Lacey said while clutching at her heart. Deep down she felt fear of her own home planet's safety. The thought of someone that powerful existing frightened her. "I'm so sorry"
"Not as sorry as she's going to be." He replied. His confidence eased Lacey's concerns a bit. "Diva believes that the Trinity Force holds divine power and thinks she's entitled to it for some stupid ass reason. I don't know why and I really don't care. All I know is that besides having the most dangerous army of followers in the galaxy, she's also abnormally powerful herself. Her speed, strength and durability are only matched by wielders of the Trinity Force. Judging by these freaks she's been sending after us, I take it she has extensive knowledge of genetic enhancements to thank for that."
"Why does she want it from us particularly?" Asked Lacey.
"You're young. You're inexperienced." Vincent said. "I myself am relatively new to my Omnisuit. I guess she believes it would be easier to capture us. I don't think were the only newbies she'll try to pick on."
"Sounds like she's nothing but a bully if you ask me." She said with anger in her voice. "I just have one more question."
"Promise?" Vincent asked.
"For now." Said Lacey, ignoring his smart remark. "You guys have been fighting aliens and looking for these Trinity forces for nearly a hundred years. How is it that nobody knows you exist? I mean I know you're supposed to keep a low profile working for the Government, but there's literally nobody here to see us hunt that bird creature right now. And nobody knows it was that other alien that trashed the school. I know you guys are responsible for that. How do you do it?
Vincent picked his electronic device back up and began tapping the screen again. "You'll find that out soon enough." He said. "Then you'll demand even more explanations from me. I won't deny you that pleasure. For now, I'd like to show you something."
"Show me what?" Vincent did not answer her. He handed Lacey the tablet and let her watch a news rebroadcasting from earlier that day.
"Professor James Collins was arrested today after an anonymous source revealed to authorities that he was in possession of artifacts under the protection of the F.A.P.A." Said the news personality.
"He is also being questioned for allegedly trying to blow up the Neo Historical Arts Museum in an attempt to destroy incriminating evidence." Lacey looked up at Vincent in disbelief of what he had done for her.
"What kind of moron steals illegal artifacts and puts them up in a museum for the whole damn world to see?" Vincent asked while casually looking out the back window.
A gigantic smile of blissful satisfaction grew on Lacey's face as she continued to watch the news report. She did have more questions that burned within her mind. Who created the Trinity force? How many others had it? Where exactly did Vincent come from? She could tell he was not entirely comfortable trusting others. She did not know the reason for this but for what he had done for her, she was willing to let it go for now. Maybe this was his little way of apologizing for giving her detention.
The night was cool and tranquil as it always was on the beaches of Marine Coast. Slight breezes occasionally joined the symphony of the soft rocking of the ocean. The sky was blessed with the light of the full moon, who's elegant and subtle rays bounced gracefully off the surface of the rippling crystal water.
At the heart of the tropical wonderland rested Stevenson's Surf Shack. The shared home and place of business of Lars Stevenson and his uncle Jeff, who both crafted and sold custom surf boards as well as hand crafted jewelry and vintage clothing. It was a sturdy and humble foundation built of wood and decorated with old surfboards and surrounded with small palm trees.
Lars was a tall and lean eighteen year old with green eyes and blonde sun bleached hair long enough to reach the middle of his back. He wore a short soul patch under a careless smile that never seemed to leave his tanned face. Lars stood barefoot in the front of the torch lit shack, wearing a pair of ripped blue jeans and no shirt.
A night such as this was perfect for Lars to practice his meditative kata under the stars, which is exactly what he did. His uncle Jeff, a hefty Samoan man with tribal tattoos on his legs and arms and long thick dread locks tied in a loose ponytail, awaited behind a set of Hawaiian drums with a constant look of joy on his face.
Lars stood erect and motionless with his eyes closed and his hands in the prayer position. Suddenly, Jeff began to lightly tap a beat on the drums, and with that, Lars began his slow and smooth tai chi movements. With slow and steady motions he moved through the soft sand to the beat of the drums. Jeff soon began to pound a harder and faster beat, which prompted Lars to follow suit with more fierce and straight forward martial arts movements.
Lars worked up a light sweat under the heat of the flickering torches. He had long since lost himself in meditation when Jeff abruptly stopped the beating the drums. Lars opened his eyes and regained his awareness as his uncle chuckled loudly.
"Alright Jackie Chan!"Jeff said while tossing Lars a towel. "Chill out before you scare away the ladies!"
A long smile stretched across Lars' face as he caught the towel and began to dry himself. "Lucky I'm a pacifist, right man?"
"Sure about that?" Jeff said as he hopped up and approached Lars. "I'm not too shabby myself kid."
Jeff began to playfully jab at Lars as he laughed and dodged his blows. "Come on, you aint got nothin blondie."
Jeff managed to get Lars in a bear hug and squeezed him hard. The quiet beach was illuminated with their loud and carefree laughter. Jeff finally released his nephew and scuffled his hair. He suddenly noticed something.
"Hey that's pretty cool." Said Jeff as he pointed to Lars' chest. "When did you get that?"
Lars looked down at his left pectoral muscle, noticing an odd marking on it. "Oh yeah, that….. Honestly I don't even know."
"You don't know?" Asked Jeff as he examined the marking closely."Don't try to play me, you know you want be like your big Uncle."
"I'm serious man," said Lars through a giggle. "It's been there for almost a week. Don't know if it's real or just a henna tat. I don't remember getting it at all."
"Well I hope you have more of whatever you were smoking," said Jeff. "It kinda looks like the kanji symbol for peace…Or maybe fire?"
"Don't worry 'bout it man," said Lars. "Now, what were you saying about smoke?"
The two laughed and made their way back inside with an arm over each other's shoulder. Suddenly their laughter was halted. The two looked up and spotted something soaring through the sky. Something that shined brighter than any of the other stars out that night. They walked further out to the beach to get a clearer look at it.
"What the hell is that?" asked Jeff.
"I don't know." said Lars. "Maybe it's a comet."
The bright object began to fly around in circles. It spiraled and looped aimlessly as Jeff and Lars followed with their eyes. "On second thought…" said Lars.
The object began to shine brighter until its light became even more prominent than that of the moon's. Jeff and Lars were dazzled by its display, until they soon realizing that the object was headed straight for them. They began to run away as fast as they could as the light got brighter and brighter. The two dived out of the way in different directions as the star like object crash landed into the ground.
Chunks of sand rained down as Lars and Jeff came to their senses. Lars helped his uncle to his feet as they watched a bright light emanating from a small crater caused by the impact. The light's intensity dimmed more and more as the moments passed, until finally it had disappeared.
"Great." Said Jeff as his voice shook with adrenaline.. "And I just filled up that other damn crater."
"Think there's anything inside this one?" Asked Lars.
"Only one way to find out"
After a while of working up some nerve, Lars approached the crater with a long boat paddle in his hands. If anything dangerous were to come out, it would have one deadly weapon to deal with. He slowly peeked inside it. It was too dark to see anything. He carefully scanned the inside with his eyes stretched wide, as short trembling breaths escaped his lungs.
Suddenly he spotted movement. He reared back slightly and readied his deadly paddle for what could be lurking. Out of the darkness stood a humanoid figure. Lars thought it could have been some sort of alien, or maybe a lost test pilot. The figure groaned loudly as it struggled to get to its feet. It stumbled a bit as it tried to find its balance. Lars shook with anticipation as small lights began to shine off of the humanoid's body, and a circular light glowed softly in place of a face on the figure's head.
The Cyclops like figure rubbed the sides of its temples as it finally spoke. "Bollocks!" Shouted the humanoid figure.
"Bollocks?" Lars repeated back. That word sounded oddly familiar to him. He heard someone else say it before. Someone he knew very well. Then suddenly it hit him. "Spencer?"
The light from the figure's visor shined on Lars' face as it turned its attention to him. "Lars?" The figure said.
It was as Lars thought. The strange humanoid was in fact his best friend. Spencer attempted to climb out of the crater but slipped on the rolling sand. Lars quickly and carefully extended his hand down to him allowing Spencer to grab his arm and climb up. His hand was like granite, and his grip like a vice. If he had squeezed any tighter he would have defiantly fractured a bone. Spencer regained his balance out of the pit as Lars shook and massaged the pain out of his throbbing arm.
Spencer was relieved to finally see a familiar face after his ordeal. Like pieces to a puzzle, Spencer's helmet split apart into several sections revealing his head. The pieces of his helmet orbited the back of his exposed cranium like moons around a planet. Lars could not believe his eyes.
"Spence." Said Lars as he searched for the words to say. It was hard for him to take his focus off the state of his friend's body."What… what happened to you?"
"I don't know." Said Spencer as he examined his head with his hands. "I've had quite a day-"
Suddenly, Jeff came running up with a paddle of his own and smacked Spencer in the head, knocking him back into the crater before Lars could stop him.
"Take that space man!" Screamed Jeff. "This is NOT the day the Earth stands still!"
"Jeff no!" Yelled Lars."That's Spencer!"
But the damage had already been done. Spencer landed flat on his back inside the pit where he started. "Bollocks."He said again to himself.
The trio of ARC jets soared through the skies in formation as quietly as the wind and as vigilantly as eagles. Perhaps it had been the black of the night or sheer exhaustion that caused them to miss the immense shadow of two giant wings descending upon them.
A/N; Dang! We honestly didn't want to split this chapter into two parts. But after looking at the word count, it looks like we gotta! Well, we hope you all are enjoying the story so far. Our apologies for taking so long with the updates. Life has been kinda wacky for us lately but we will be sure to update at a quicker rate as well as take care of some return reviews as soon as possible. Keep a look out for Mind over Matter pt 2 and thank you to all our readers and reviewers!