Disclaimer: Ace Lightning-BBC, Dark Angel-FOX network, I don't own either. But I do own up to the bizarre obsession for both I've had over the years.

Ace Lightning: Knight's Designation

Part Two- Code of the Lightning Knight

Ace Lightning had seen the logic of joining Zack inside the car rather than flying overhead… with all the recharges that would be necessary to fly over five territories- or how the mortals called them- 'states'.

But that did not mean it had ended up well.

The audio entertainment device was off-limits and so was any device that Zack constantly added to the list- preferring to drive in silence. Ace had observed similarities in mortals and beings that were not related, but shared history. So far Ace could see no real similarities between Zack and Mark.

And that was something the lightning knight was very grateful for. Zack seemed to show no real desire to save anyone with his special abilities, and seemed to be obsessed with protecting his 'family'- even committing acts of a dark nature in order to save them.

"So… Ace" Zack ground out. He had asked for a 'real' name- but if Ace hadn't told Mark what his name was- he was hardly going to tell Zack. Besides, the Code stipulated that only fellow lightning knights and their allies in other dimensions could be informed as to a knight's name, rather than their call sign. "You would never eliminate a security risk to maintain the mission?"

Ace shook his head, and looked to the X5. "Never, it is a lightning knight's duty to protect even if an individual makes that very duty harder- its part of the Code"

Zack always kept his eyes on the road, and the surroundings. In the few times he would look at the superhero – it was always with this mix of disbelief and suspicion. "So everything you do is dictated by this code of yours?"

"Some knights may- I do it by choice, even if the Code did not define good I would still do right- and Mark does right because he is Mark" Ace could still remember their first meeting. The kid- standing up in the light- telling the Evils to leave him alone, even though in retrospect Ace knew he had no powers to defend himself with. "Mark might have been your brother once, but you don't know the person he is now, no matter how much you try to make him in your mind what you think he should be"

And then Ace watched as Zack performed his defense for anything that threatened his opinion, he went silent.

Lady Illusion had spent much of the past week, following Ace's mortal sidekick's girlfriend around, under the guise of her friend 'Heather' who had left the previous week for a 'vacation'.

But most of it seemed to revolve around 'Sam' worrying over the fact that Mark had yet to leave a message, or any communication considering that there was no real definition of that relationship. It seemed it was no better to be mortal when it came to getting anything – or maybe that just applied to the lightning knights.

Being free of Lord Fear's spider leg raising attempts of seduction and the evil scene was not her problem. It was the seemingly unrequited vow of love between them.

Why wouldn't Ace just admit how he felt- he had always gone to such lengths for her and the spark between them? If they weren't meant for each other, the spark never would have shown up- unique of the sixth dimension… or the ability to see the literal current between a pair that was unique, and there was only ever one for each person, or creature.

But the spark didn't always tell the relationship. Was the frustrating Sparx the reason, could Ace love her over Illusion?

The mistress of illusion teleported out from the welcome mat that was just outside the Thompsons's front door. The door opened, and Troy Thompson looked out. Strange, he could have sworn his sister's annoying red headed friend was out here. A look of relief showed up on her face. Sure she had been nicer this last week, but Troy knew it was only a matter of time before Heather the witch started back on her 'stop the mockery of dating and just accept you will be alone'.

Thunder Tower

"What's with the teenager Spider lady?" asked Sparx, after Illusion as Heather had morphed in and enjoyed the venom filled look. Mark was going to be fine, Ace would rescue him and in the meantime she got to scare the hell out of the carnival owner- to dissuade him from ever helping the Evils again should they reemerge. Ace would not understand.

Illusion changed back to her true form. "We can't all be on the mortal news channels Sparxy- or they would never recover"

Sparx considered shooting a jolt at Illusion with her sword but there was no one to mediate any fight between them at the moment. She also doubted Ace would understand if she sent his Spider lady back to the Sixth Dimension because she would completely be the victor in any skirmish. "Ace isn't here; he's on a secret mission"

"What mission?" Illusion asked.

Sparx pretended to be considering answering and then shrugged. "I could tell you but I don't want to"

The standoff- about to turn into some sort of final conflict was disrupted as noise came from outside the Thunder Tower. Sparx hopped on the lightning flash and was out of sight before the blink of a mortal's eye and Illusion morphed herself out.

A moment later the visitor's door opened and Mr. Cheseborough walked in, flanked by two police officers that the local psychiatrist had asked to escort them.

"I saw lights coming from here- I swear… blue flashing… like the aliens coming into land before…"

The psychiatrist reluctantly patted the crazed science teacher on the shoulder. "Sure there was, and at the Kent brothers carnival the aliens were on vacation there as well. Horace, Mr. Kent has come to terms with his delusions and is returning to a normal life… I think you need a nice few weeks rest, away from any stress"

Cheseborough pulled away from the officers and stared intently at the psychiatrist. "You'll see, you'll all see, I just hope it won't be too late for the only brain that can save the world"

Manticore - Gillette, Wyoming

"Now I think we should wait for the dark" Zack turned and realized that Ace was no longer beside him doing quiet surveillance on the guards at the front entrance to the Manticore compound. Instead all Zack could see was a blur as each of the guards fell unconscious by the gate and a flash of electricity shorted out the camera. "Right" Zack said, jogging down to join Ace.

Ace looked with regret at the unconscious mortals. "Why would they work for evil like this?"

"Because they like being paid" Zack said bluntly. The superhero's naivety was getting on Zack's last nerve.

"In my dimension, none of the Evils do what they do for that reason, born into it, forced, a love of power… it is never about being reimbursed for their acts" Ace Lightning found it more disturbing than his last mission as a sidekick sixteen years ago. To infiltrate the Evil overrun city, on the sole landmass in the watery dimension of Aquaris and to find the last piece of the amulet to send Lord Fear to prison. Fear had taken a liking to him as a friend, a supposed disenchanted Academy drop out who was trying to find a new direction in his life.

For a moment back then Ace had believed that Fear was truly conflicted about his life and wanted to change. But it hadn't just been his mission- it had been Lord Fear's to turn him evil as the most promising knight cadet in over a hundred Hyrilian cycles. In the battle, Ace had wounded Fear bringing him in- by accident but Fear had taken it as a personal affront. And ever since that battle and subsequent escapes and confrontations- Fear seemed to have made it his personal mission to destroy him. Fear was evil because he was born into it, and for his lust of power… these mortals had a chance to be different and they weren't.

Zack broke the knight from his thoughts. "Come on, let's save Mark…" By comparison, Logan Cale irritated him a lot less. And Eyes Only couldn't both kick his ass and then electrocute him- like this videogame character was capable. Not that Ace Lightning would ever do that.

All the warning that Donald Lydecker had that something- out of the ordinary even for Manticore was going on was when his medtech froze in place like time had gone still. At first Lydecker thought one of the psy op transgenics had gone rogue but as he stepped out into the hallway he realized the guards, everything was as if frozen in time except for Mark who was straining despite being restrained to the infirmary bed with the syringe full of a psychoactive millimeters from his arm.

Mark didn't know whether to cry and laugh- he was however taking back all the times he had hated the game for ruining his life… and was very aware that Ace Lightning being real was the thing saving him here.

The infirmary door was blasted open, and Ace walked through followed by a man Mark hadn't seen before. Lydecker, who was starting in shock at the game character walking up to him, was speechless. "That's the figment of my imagination… a little help here Ace"

Ace wasted no time freeing his sidekick. "So how has your summer been so far kid?" Ace asked and Mark grinned. Sometimes it seemed like Ace had no sense of humor and other times there was nothing quite like Ace's particular brand of humor.

"You know how it is" Mark got up and looked at the strange man practically staring at him. "What- it's not as if these scrubs have dinosaurs all over them"

"Kid… Mark, do you know why these people took you"

"They filled me in but most of it sounds really insane"

Ace nodded and looked at Lydecker. "So you are the evil in charge of this facility… it's my duty to inform you that Mark is not under your jurisdiction as a cadet with the Lightning Knights of the sixth dimension, should you try to kidnap him again, he will be sent to the sixth dimension permanently for his own safety"

Mark knew that this guy wouldn't just give up, and Mark certainly didn't want to spend his life as one of the brain dead soldiers that he had seen around here- kids younger than him who walked around without personalities like something had sucked them out. But having to leave Earth permanently- never seeing his friends or parents again?

It didn't seem fair that the bad guy should win the day here… or that all the special soldiers here would never know what being human was like… having a life.

"Ace, there's another option here" Mark said coming up behind Ace.

"Kid… I can't send them to oblivion, it's against the Code"

"Look Ace, you don't need the amulet to take an illegal place like this down… they probably aren't even approved by America's president… we just tell on them and Manticore will get shut down all on its own…"

Up until this point Lydecker had stayed silent- it was tactically premature to get involved especially with this so called superhero. But the stakes were higher if the young X5 and this 'Ace Lightning' followed through on this. "You can't do that"

Under other circumstances he would have had his full attention on Zack, the greatest threat in the room. But that was under normal circumstances. He was reminded of Zack's presence and he noticed Zack begin to laugh softly.

This creature was obviously into doing the right course of action. "These soldiers are needed to protect this country…"

"From what?" Mark asked, "Other countries… I hate to break this to you but there is more at stake… in Conestoga Hills last year, we saved the world from Lord Fear… who by the way doesn't bloody care that this is America- you are just as evil as he is and while there is not really a final battle here, I am guessing there will be a trial- for justice"

Lydecker stared at him. "You are really going to turn your back on what you really are?"

"What I really am has more to do with fighting real evil" Mark said. "Actually, I'm going to guess there is a reason I can't remember this place or you, I don't want to"

Ace was very proud of his sidekick right now… for standing up for what he believed in and for caring about far more than himself. "We should get that done now… after that you have a flight to catch"

Mark groaned. "How am I ever going to explain this to my parents?"

"Random had a good day… he was able to get into the flight company and rearrange your flight, well you did pay for the original flight"

The hero and his sidekick walked out of the infirmary still talking- now comparing this to some experience- Mark calling his vision with Lord Fear chasing him far more terrifying than this… and Zack resented Ace for the relationship with his brother. And also felt sad in a way for Mark. The dream, the one day had always been about one day having that normal life. And Mark was clearly never going to have that.

After a long moment staring at Lydecker, Zack punched him out the second the Colonel attempted to open his mouth. Not killing him had nothing to do with mercy or Max and Logan or Ace Lightning rubbing off on him. It had to do with a very simple concept. Donald Lydecker was going to rot in a prison cell like he had tried to keep them in a cage. He couldn't do that if he was dead.

Three days later, England

"So the organization got taken down, and at the end of the day you get powers… as soon as you get over a whole mental block" Pete threw his football at Mark. "Mate, you have a knack for this stuff I'm telling you"

Mark groaned as he sat on Pete's bed. "You really want to find out you are some genetically engineered soldier… there is no more Manticore so you can't draw this barcode on the back on your neck and get them to notice you"

Pete shook his head. "Are you ever going to let me live down borrowing the amulet mate?"

"Eventually" Mark said and lapsed into silence. After everything it really hadn't been scary to tell Pete the truth, not in the way it had been when he thought Ace would look at him differently.

Ace had looked surprised by Mark's admission that he had worried about what he would think about being different. "Kid- I don't care what you are- you decide your life and you have always done the right thing- that's what makes you a person, not just being a hundred percent human… as far as I'm concerned you are human in the ways that count"

Looking down at the ball, Mark looked up. "Thanks for calling Ace and not anyone else, you really saved my neck… maybe the next time you visit you can borrow my canon"

Now that made Pete's eyes bug out against his dark skin. "Canon… you-"

"Apparently my little adventure means I passed some test and now I am allowed to use a lightning canon" Mark said, enjoying the shock from Pete. "I know it's the least of all these new things in my life but I think being able to shoot lightning will far outweigh anything being an X5 can do"

Ace Lightning was patrolling the empty carnival when he spied Zack walking into the haunted house. Ace landed and followed him in. Zack had gone all the way into the central chamber where the organ sat, and was looking around.

"Apparently a few of my siblings have played this game" Zack said, finally turning to face Ace. "I'm not staying, there's enough bureaucracy in Washington to keep me busy for awhile as they dissolve Manticore… I just wanted to see this- apparently no one has ever beat the game"

"It's not just a game" Ace stood almost toe to toe with Zack. "It's an unending battle between good and evil"

Zack frowned. "Just take care of my brother… my world, the Manticore past isn't his life anymore… I think it would be for the best if he never sees me again" Ace wanted to speak up, to say something that would keep Mark's big brother as part of his life. But Ace knew that somehow this was 'for the best'.

That Zack was doing the right thing of walking away and leaving Mark to be a kid… even as a lightning knight sidekick- Mark would get that chance with the high school even if Lord Fear came back and tried to take over the world. That instead of a life and family he could never remember- Mark could be just happy with the life he had now and one day if the kid wanted to learn more about his origins, he could now safely.

This explained everything. The Master Programmer would have laughed if the monitor to the side didn't keep blinking out… loose connection. But other than that his new fortress of solitude was coming along quite nicely.

He turned his attention back to the screen. "So that's how you beat Lord Fear, Ace Lightning- for using a being I didn't create… so what, I can add my own player to the mix- a new villain unbound by the laws of the game"

"This time, it's going to end differently. No one stands in the way of the Master Programmer" The man started to laugh again but he started coughing instead.

Damn those pesky summer colds.

The End or to be Continued in the second season…

Things in this fic that are canon for my Ace fic verse including OUAT-

[1] How Ace met Fear.

[2] Sparking as a form of determining a 'soulmate'