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Something Better

By Sandy Toes

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Chapter 1: Passing the Storm

His finger gripped tightly onto the handles as the ship suddenly jerked up and down. Looking over his shoulder for a minute, he saw his friends also grabbing onto anything near by to keep themselves on their feet. Turning back to the window, the merb almost winced from the frightening sight of the storm. Rain buffeted the large ship as thunder rolled over top of it. Lightning was the only thing lighting the way, whether it was good or not, there was a lot of it.

"Can we find a place to land?" Aerrow asked, trying to keep everyone calm as Finn looked as if he was about to snap. Stork again looked back from his place at the wheel and glanced over to Piper who stood by her charts. "I can't tell where we are in this darkness," the girl said, her voice a bit frantic.

"Well I can't see anything either, which means we'll probably hit something and crash," Stork said, his usual melancholy tone. Sighing, the merb just tightened his grip, squinted a bit to see better, and readied his body for all the bumps and bruises about to be registered to the Condor.

As a piece of mountain suddenly made itself present, Stork pulled up on the controls and turned them sharply to the side, causing the rest of the Storm Hawks to all go toppling towards one side of the Condor. Another peak rose from the storm's darkness, sending the Storm Hawks flying the other way. Stork's merb feet were meant for grip as he stood as still as he could.

Knowing they had to get higher, but afraid of going through the storm clouds, Stork began to debate in his head where they had more of a chance of living. Testing themselves against the storm and the natural landscape, a high possibility of finding themselves crashed and dazed with a mountain going through the ship; or rising through the heart of the gale and possibly getting to safety with the chance of tearing the Condor apart. "What are our options Stork?" Aerrow asked, knowing just what the carrier pilot was thinking as his eyes darted back and forth.

"Up or down," stork said, "Neither of them are safe. We'll be doomed either way." Then Piper spoke up, her knowledge going a bit beyond maps and plans.

"If we stay where we are we'll crash, not even Stork can pilot blind. But if we head for the clouds, we could possibly get above them, where we could ride out the storm…"

"But?!" Finn asked, stretching the word. "We could be struck by the lightening or torn to pieces before we ever get higher than a few thousand feet." All looked at the girl, except for Stork who had to keep his eyes on the road before him. "It's worth the risk," Aerrow said, suddenly finding himself falling forward and holding onto the table. Piper did the same and tried to keep her maps from falling onto the floor. Finn went crashing into Junko, who in returned found himself pinned against the wall, nearly missing being sent through the doorway.

Stork held on as tightly as he could as the Condor's nose rose into the air. Without any more from Aerrow, Stork had known what to do. Although he could have given some warning to the others, but every second was precious to the Condor. The more she sat in the storm, the less of a chance they had of getting out alive.

Lightning, rain, winds, all of it passed over the Condor as Stork just pushed her upward. He wasn't trying to dodge the lightning, knowing it would be dangerous at these speeds and could actually send them into another bolt. But then again, the phenomenon wasn't really targeting them. The rest of the Storm Hawks were silent as they tried to keep themselves from panicking or falling any further than they had. All eyes were on Stork as he looked determined as ever.

Twisting the handles, Stork increased the speed just enough. The rain got heavier and the winds got stronger, as the menacing clouds above them seemed to get closer and closer. The lightning increased and the thunder grew louder. There was a great moan, letting the sky knights know that the Condor couldn't take much more. Stork gritted his teeth and gave one more good thrust on the controls. The engines gave one great burst of energy, sending the Condor ripping through the thick storm clouds.

Milky gray clouds swirled and parted before the Condor, as parts were temporarily lighted by flashes of lightening. There was another moan from the ship, this time louder and longer. Aerrow, Finn, and Junko all looked up, hoping the roof would not rip open, sucking them out into the wild tempest before them. Another creak, this time right above the bridge of the Condor. The metal seemed to be being pulled and would soon come off, as the groaning and creaking continued. "Just a bit more," Stork thought as he could see the clouds thinning.

Without warning, the Condor burst from the clouds, the rising sun coating it with heat and glorious light. Stork temporarily let go of the controls in a bit of disbelief, but took hold of them again just in time to settle the Condor out and allow it to fly slowly above the raging clouds below it.

Letting go a breath, Aerrow also released his grip of the table and walked forward. "We made it…" The other Storm Hawks straightened themselves and each stood near Stork, watching the sun before them begin to rise. It's beautiful pink and orange flooded the bridge, seeming to calm everyone's racing hearts.

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The room was dark, as she stood before her crystals, playing with the dangerous things as if they were merely a child's toy. Her dark eyes watched as each rock was placed into its specific slot, glowing with powerful energy that fueled the world of Atmos. Slender, pale hands worked their way over keys to control each crystal as a dark hood shielded her face. A bit of recognition appeared in her eyes as footsteps approached from behind. "They survived the storm, didn't they?"

There was a scoff behind her, the voice obviously not being surprised by her knowing. "Even such a powerful weather crystal couldn't rid you of such pest, Master Cyclonis," a calm, steely voice said. The voice was that of a male who was full of confidence. Turning her head just a bit, as if she meant to look over her shoulder, Cyclonis asked, "And why did it fail?" Even he was behind her, she knew the man would be smiling. He always did when he was about to reveal something.

"Because it was an outside force. They depend on each other entirely too much. If one were to infiltrate the group…" At this, Master Cyclonis turned around and narrowed her eyes at the figure standing near the door. His body was suited in a black leather, what he wore instead of a Cyclonian uniform. Mainly because he was a mercenary, and she had hired him. "I already tried that. They found me out. Besides, you are known by one of them, he surely will warn his friends."

Shaking his hidden face, the man stepped away from the wall and walked a bit towards the younger girl. "You had to hide your face, I don't. I can freely be a part of what they are. And we won't have to worry about him… before he works up the courage to confront me, I would have already won the rest of the Storm Hawks over. They will never believe the words from his mouth."

At this, Master Cyclonis allowed a maniacal grin to cross her face as she turned back to her crystals. "Very well, we shall tear them apart from the inside out."

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A/N: My first Storm Hawks story, what do you think? I tried before at one, but didn't like it. Besides, this one is original, and I like original. So, will you please REVIEW.