It was 4:30 in the morning. Less than 24 hours ago, I found out my grandfather's pass. I tossed and turned all night. I did manage to get a little sleep. Since I was up and it didn't look like I was going back to sleep, I decided to do my morning routine. I grabbed the water bottle off the night stand that was left for me. I entered the hall, the base was so quiet, and it was peaceful. I wondered around and finally came upon what I figured was some sort of gym. I walked in and the lights came on. Around the room were mats, poles, a pool, and high bars. It looked like an obstacle course. So I figured this was a way to work out or train what my grandfather use to call it.

My grandfather taught me a lot growing up. I always asked him why it was so important that I did; he always said that I'd find out one day, I never thought the reason would have something to do with my life being in danger.

It took a while before I had a real handle on the course. After a few more times I decided to time myself to see how good I was. The course started with you swinging form one bar to the next. Soon after you had to scale the wall, similar to an ordinary rock climbing wall. You ended the course by one last swing from a bar and landing on the mat.

"Not bad. 5 minutes exactly." I turned around to see Blade by the timer.

"I thought everyone was sleep." He could have made some noise to let me know he was watching instead of scaring me half to death.

"I train at six remember." I didn't even noticed the time.

"So… have you decided whether you're staying or not?"

"Yeah, I'm staying." The choice was hard. I don't adjust well to change. In the end I figured a little change for a good reason was worth it.

"So when do we start training?" I asked.

"I thought you already did." He smiled with relief, he seemed glad that I was staying. We headed for the cafeteria for breakfast. We were the only ones up so Blade had to unlock the cafeteria.

"So, how come you didn't mention the fact that Commander is your father?" I was curious, it wasn't like you couldn't tell that they were related.

"Well it's not something you bring up when you first meet someone. People tend to treat me differently once they know I'm the Commander's son."

We were in the kitchen looking around for something that would satisfy our hunger. I wanted something quick and easy so I ended up with cereal. Blade must have been hungrier than I was because I turned around to find him with an arm load of things. Laughing, we went to sit down.

"I get how you feel. Growing up wasn't easy for me either. I never had real friends. Kids tended to stay clear of me because they knew my grandfather was a cop and that he was showing me how to defend myself. He was always big on survival. So the summer before high school, I learned how to fire a weapon. So when school started I saved myself from a lot of questions and rumors by being invisible."

After breakfast we started my training. We started with regular one on one fighting.

"Let's see what you already know. You have to know how to fight with your hands first. You'll fight me."

"Don't hold back."

"I won't."

Fighting Blade wasn't easy but I could handle myself. We fought against each other and in the end Blade managed to knock me down. Not once but a few times.

"Not bad, you're pretty good." He said, out of breath.

"Thanks, you're not so bad yourself."

He helped me up off the mat. I passed test number one and so we headed to do test number two. He took me to what they called the green room. A computerized room controlled by computers to make sound, feel, and look like something else.

"There are 100 levels. We use this room to train us for the real action. So far the record level to be reached is 45."

"Let me guess…it was you?

"It was nothing." He smiled with pride. When he was done bragging, he took me to a room off to the side. It looked just like the shooting rang my grandfather took me too.

"Let's see your shooting technique."

It wasn't a very tough decision. I immediately knew that the twin duel pistols were the right choice for me. I didn't need anything to big or heavy.

"Ready your weapon and shoot when you're ready.", Blade said in that same voice he had the day I was attacked when he was giving orders to the other group members. I wondered if I would get a chance to meet them.

I waited a little. Then I fired my pistol three times. Two to the chest and one to the head. I did better than I thought.


"It was nothing."

"So let's go back to the green room." I entered the green room. Slowly the room changed. Trees, grass, and other earth like objects appeared. Everything was 3D so it looked real. The technology was very high tech here.

"The computer will tell you your level and start the count down. At the buzzer your enemies will appear. You shoot or use your hands it doesn't matter. You're basically fighting the computer so it picks up every shot or punch given. Remember stay relaxed and calm…focus." He said over the intercom. "Level 1… 1…" The computer made a buzz sound. Shortly after a person appeared in front of me and one behind me. They started to circle me. The first one lunged at me from the side. I moved back to avoid him and turned just in time to block the second one's punch. The computer did win a few punches during the fight. I wasn't expecting it to be too easy. Blade was watching with excitement through the window. I finished taking down the two. When I did knock them out, they disappeared, the green room turned back to normal.

Blade came out with this amazed look on his face. Like I had did better than he was expecting.

"Wow. Are you sure you're not a Phoenix already?"

"I'm just full of surprises is all." We both smiled. We heard everyone outside heading to the cafeteria for breakfast. It was almost nine. We walked out to the hall where everyone was in a rush to get inside the cafeteria.

"We better go get changed." He suggested. "Well meet back here so you can tell my father the news."

"Sounds like a plan." We went in opposite directions. Luckily I have a good sense of directions, with everyone up the base was back to being busy and noise making it hard to find my way back to my room.

When I got to my room, I managed to find a uniform in the closet. It fit perfectly. With everything that happened the day before, I didn't have any of my own things from home. So the uniform was all I had.

I went back out into the hallway. People where still waking up to head for breakfast. The crowd had moved closer to the cafeteria so the hallway wasn't so crowded.

I met up with Blade and we headed to the Commander. He was in his office that morning. We walked in to find the Commander drinking his coffee and he looked happy to see us this morning.

"Morning you two." He said greeting us with a smile. "So Nicole have you given it much thought as to whether or not you're joining us?"

"I'm staying. I want in. I want to help anyway I can."

"That's good to hear, could I ask you to give me a minute with Blade?"

"Sure, I'll just be outside." Great, now I have wait outside. It was bad enough already with everyone always starring. This time I'll be alone.

The Commander seemed a little calmer than yesterday. Which was a good thing. I wonder what he needed to talk to Blade about.

"So what do you think? Can she handle herself on a mission?" Commander asked.

"I gave her the stander test we would have given another person trying out for the team. She was impressive. Her scores came in second in all test, which proves she's had years of training. I say she could if it came down to it."

"Well if you think she's good enough, then she is. I trust your judgment. Even though she is new, we don't have time to do things the usual way. She's in, so introduce her to the others and we'll have a meeting to get her up to speed."

"Yes sir." Blade said in a respecting voice.

I was leaning against the wall when he came out of the office. "Ready to meet the team?" he asked.

"Yeah absolutely." It was about time. After all they did save my life and I would like to say thank you at least.

I followed him to the lounge were the others were hanging out. When walked in, two guys jumped up right away.

"Everyone I'd like you to meet Nicole." The two walked over to us.

"Well hello, I'm Jake and this is my brother Jason."

"Dude, I can introduce myself… Hi, I'm Jason."

"They're the twins. You'll get use to all the fighting." Blade says twins, I say identical twins. You could hardly see anything that would help tell them apart.

"If you can't tell us apart just remember he's the ass and I'm the nice one." Jake said laughing while walking back over to the couch.

"Look there you go again." Said Jason sounding very annoyed.

"I think I can manage on telling you guys apart." I had to admit, the fighting made me laugh a little to myself.

"I'm Paul." Paul was standing up against the wall watching the other two make a fool of themselves arguing.

"Paul's our tech genius."

"Well it's nice to meet you."

"It's my pleasure. I see you're looking a lot better than yesterday."

"I'm still sore, nothing I can't handle."

"She's tough. You'll fit right in." Paul left the lounge. The twins were still fighting over something stupid.

"Where's Amber?" Blade asked.

"She stormed off after breakfast when she found out someone had beaten all her scores." Jason shrugged his shoulders as if to say "whatever".

"You know how she is. She's probably in the gym no doubt having a fit." Jake rolled his eyes. I was just hoping I didn't step on any toes. That's the last thing I needed.

We left the lounge in search of Amber. I wasn't sure if it was a good idea for us to meet, seeing that I am the one that beat most her scores. I didn't see what the big deal was.

When we got to the gym, sure enough Amber was there working out.

"AMBER! Come here a sec. I'd like you to meet Nicole, she's joining the team."

"Oh great, an amateur." She was still mad and from the looks of it, she wasn't going to be letting this one go.

"Well nice to meet you too." I said sarcastically.

"How can she even be part of the team? She just got here and from the looks of yesterday she can't even fight and we're just supposed to trust her?"

"Well that's not your call and from what I saw this morning she can defend herself pretty well and is capable of fighting with this team. Seeing that she is the one that beat all your scores and others in counting." You could feel the tension building up in the room once Blade made that last remark. Amber glared at him and then stormed out a few seconds later.

"Well that's my queue to leave. I'll see you at the meeting." I left to go back to my room. Blade went after Amber who was still walking fast down the hall.



"Need I remind you that why we are friends. I'm still your captain. With that being said you show Nicole some respect. She's here to help even when she didn't have too."

"Just friends?"

"We've had this conversation before. We're friends and nothing more."

They both looked down for a minute.

"The Commander is holding a meeting this afternoon."

"Yes sir." She said storming off.

Back in my room, I laid down taking a deep breath. I wonder if I made the right decision to stay. I quickly put that thought out of my mind remembering the reason why I was here. I looked at my necklace. A gold chain with a gold Cornus Florida (Dogwood) flower charm. A gift from my grandfather. I never took it off. I dozed off with the necklace still in my hand.

Moments later, the intercom came on, "All Phoenix agents report to the Strategy room."

Then there was a knock at my door.

"I thought I should show you where that is sense our tour was interrupted." It was Blade.


We walked in silence. When we got there, everyone else was already there. Even Amber managed to show her face.

They Commander made his way over to us.

"I hope all of you have met Nicole sense she is one of our new agents to the team. I've called this meeting to discuss our next move to finding Austin and his boss. Nicole here if you all don't know could help us get closer to finding out who. Her grandfather worked the case back when he was still with us. We know that they're looking for the crystal. We need to find it and figure out what it does before Austin does."

"You said that my grandfather's notes didn't make sense because it was like some of the pages were missing. What if he kept the pages somewhere only he could find them?"

"What are getting at?" Asked Blade.

"In his will he left his house to me. I moved all his papers and stuff to the attic. What if they're mixed up in those boxes?"

"Its long shot but we don't have any other options. It's worth a shot." Everyone agreed with my idea except for one.

"So what we just going to trust what she says. She hasn't even been here that long and you guys just go along with whatever she says." Amber was clearly still upset from earlier.

"Well if my idea is so untrustworthy then you come up with a better one." I sat back and gave her the floor. I might have let her get away with what happened earlier but if I was going to stay, I wasn't' going to let her walk all over me.

"Well sense Amber doesn't have any other ideas, you guys will leave first thing tomorrow morning to Nicole's home. So get some sleep because I can see it's going to be a long day tomorrow. Meeting over."

We all leave. The twin's argue on their way back to their room. Paul heads back to his computers. I head back to my room for some peace and quiet and Blade stays behind to talk to his father.

"HEY!" It was Amber. "That was real cute back there." She stood in front of me blocking my way. She glared at me with her dark eyes as if she was trying to scare me.

"Well you obviously had a better idea than mine so." I brushed passed her and she grabbed my arm.

"Well here's idea, stay out of my way and stay away from Blade or things can go really bad for you while you're here." I moved closer. So close that I could see my reflection in her eyes.

"Look I might be new and I might be here longer than I wanted to be but don't think for a second you can take me." I snatched my arm away from her, "So why don't you take some of your own advice?" I said in a low but serious voice. I walked away leaving her standing in the hallway with a disgusted look on her face. I could see that Amber was going to be the source of all my troubles while I was here. Maybe even a bigger one as long I was becoming friends with Blade.

But it was take a lot more that Amber to scare me. The fact that someone wants me dead and wanted my grandfather dead…scared me. I'm not worried though, I could handle Amber if it came to it.

After the argument I had with Amber, I decide the best thing to do would be to avoid her. I took a walk around Base; trying to get a feel for the place. Maybe I could see myself actually staying here. I was lost in my own thoughts.

I made my way to the cafeteria and headed straight for the dessert area. There were many different cakes, cookies, and ice creams. But nothing is better than pie. PIE… the one thing I can't live without. I searched around the dessert stand and found the last piece of pie. "Yes!" I whispered. I quickly grabbed it and sat down.

I took a huge chuck and ate it. It was cherry pie. It was still warm and the curst was flaky. It was perfect. "Yum."

I finished enjoying my pie and went back to my room. It was early for me to go to sleep but tonight I wanted to get some rest, so I took up the Commander's advice and got a little sleep.