"Chiro? What's going on? It looks like you're preparing for war,"
"The biggest war Shuggazoom has ever seen. This is it, team, it's time we mobilize. Hyper Force, Go!"
Chapter One: The Beginning of an End
Chiro looked around the main control room. The pods the team usually sat in were hidden under the floor to make room for their numerous guests.
It had been about three days since they had sent out the call to arms, asking any and all of their allies and friends to come help in what they hoped would be a final, and victorious, strike against the Skeleton King and his undead army.
Among their allies were the Sun Riders, the Robo-Apes, Mobiuz Quint, Ariana, Neekeeta and Tikqdo, Supa and his team, as well as Captain Shuggazoom. Most had brought along their equivalent to generals and captains. Even Slingshot had answered their call, figuring that his search for Dr. Maezono could wait.
"Chiro, let us begin," Antauri said.
Chiro nodded and stepped forward to the center of the gathering. He glanced up at Jinmay, who smiled lovingly back at him.
"Everyone, on the behalf of the Hyper Force and myself, I want to thank you all for answering our call. I know many of you have your own problems back on your own worlds-"
"Save it, Chiro," Slingshot said, holding up a hand. "I'll be so bold as to speak for everyone when I say that this is the least we can do for you and the Hyper Force."
There were murmurs of agreement.
"Besides, if the Skeleton King destroys Shuggazoom, he'll only come after us next. It would only be a matter of time," Ariana said.
"And scientifically speaking, it's more logical for us to fight together rather than to resist on our own. Strength lies in numbers after all," Supa added.
"Oh, great, we have another Dr. Brainstrain," Sprx muttered. Nova elbowed him.
Chiro smiled at his friends, this was working out better than he had imagined.
"Okay, let's get down to business," Chiro said. He pressed a few buttons on a controller he had in his pocket and it brought up a hologram of the planet. "The undead army seems to be gathering most of its strength from here, a place we call The Zone of Wasted Years. It's a savage, jungle-like area with fierce animals and plants and some swampy terrain. Usually Skeleton King launches the first attack but this time we'd like to hit him first and hit him hard.
"To confirm the location of the undead army, Antauri is going to lead a stealth team into the area to do some reconnaissance. In the meantime, Otto will issue anti-undead weapons to everyone. Soldiers will be getting some extra combat training from Jinmay and Nova so they all know what they're up against. Pilots will report to Sprx and Captain Quint for aviation tactics. Anyone with any medical concerns will report to Gibson and any other questions will be brought to me."
Chiro paused for a minute or two to let all the information sink in.
"I kinda stink at making inspirational speeches, but I will say this; if we gotta go out, let's go out fighting!"
The majority of the crowd cheered, a few looked amused by Chiro's loss for inspirational words, but clapped all the same. Everyone dispersed to carry out their orders, all except Gibson. Once everyone was gone, Chiro looked down to give him a smile.
"Hey Gibson, what's up? Shouldn't you be in the medical bay?" Chiro asked.
"Since I have been made the head of the medical team, my first and foremost concern must lie with you. Besides that, you're my friend, and I am very concerned about you, Chiro."
"What for?" Chiro stifled a yawn and rubbed one eye.
"For one, you haven't slept for almost three days now."
"I've done that before, no big deal, besides it's hard to sleep knowing just a line or two of volunteer Shuggazoomians and an energy shield is the only thing between the Undead Army and the rest of the city."
"You haven't done anything but plan for this attack."
"Well, we need to be ready, and I really don't want anymore volunteers to be putting their lives on the line,"
"And you haven't been eating properly."
Chiro frowned, realizing he wasn't going to be getting away with anything this time.
Not like he ever did in the first place.
"Yeah, I guess I have been pushing it a bit."
"More than just a bit. While everyone is out and about, I think you should get some sleep. If anyone needs you, they can speak with me."
Chiro nodded, knowing better than to argue with Gibson. "Okay, thanks, Gibson. Don't let me sleep too long though, okay? Wake me up before Antauri leaves?"
Gibson nodded. "I will."
Chiro offered a lop-sided grin and walked off towards his room. Gibson crossed his arms and smiled; as mature as Chiro was for his age, he was still a teenager.
"What's up Gibson?" Supa said, walking towards the blue simian.
"Oh, nothing; just making sure our leader isn't going to fall ill on us," Gibson replied as he turned and the two of them started walking towards the medical bay.
"Yes, we are always concerned about our leader as well. Sometimes one can forget how old Hidre is, garf," Supa said with a smile.
"How old is Hidre?"
"About the same age as your human, I suppose, I'm not sure how to calculate his age into human years yet."
Gibson just nodded before he sighed and stayed silent. Supa frowned at him slightly.
"Gibson, what is wrong?" Supa asked after a minute.
"Hm? Oh, nothing," Gibson said.
"Among my species, it is considered an insult to fib, even to an acquaintance," Supa nudged Gibson with his elbow. "And I thought you primates were as honorable as us 'superior' frog beings."
Gibson couldn't help smiling at Supa's grinning face.
"Forgive me, I just worry for what this new situation will do to Chiro, not only physically, but mentally as well."
"What do you mean?"
"I've told you about some of our run-ins with the Skeleton King and Mandarin. Chiro will take this war quite personally, as if he hasn't taken our encounters seriously before. I believe my greatest fear for him is that he will do something reckless and there won't be anything anyone can do to stop it."
They stopped in front of the medical bay. Supa put a hand on Gibson's shoulder before he reached to open the door.
"Wouldn't logic dictate that to be worried about something you have no control over is useless?" Supa offered as a comfort.
"Yes, however logic isn't always the answer," Gibson smiled again and pat Supa on the hand. "I appreciate what you are telling me, my friend. Maybe time will present a solution."
"Perhaps it will. Now, let us get to work."
Chiro's eyes flew open. He knew someone was coming.
"Come in," he called out, yawning and rubbing his eyes as he sat up in bed.
The door opened and Antauri walked in.
"Did I disturb you, Chiro?" he asked.
"No, no, not at all," Chiro smiled. "Gibson insisted that I took a nap."
"I would have insisted it as well, you were beginning to get dark circles under your eyes."
"Yeah, I know."
"How are you feeling, Chiro?"
"I'm all right," Chiro stood up and stretched. "You guys have been awfully worried about me lately, why? We didn't even get into any battles yet."
"We're just keeping an eye out for our Chosen One, is that so hard to understand?" Antauri smiled at him.
Chiro sighed. "I dunno, Antauri, I'm still not sure about this whole 'Chosen One' business even after all that we've been through. How do you guys know? There has to be some proof of why things are the way they are, isn't there?"
"Sometimes we must trust in faith, Chiro, sometimes there are things that just cannot be proven."
"Well, yeah I understand that, but," Chiro sighed, unable to find the words to express what he was thinking.
Antauri nodded slightly. "However there are times we need some small scrap of proof so we know it is all real and not some figment of our imaginations."
"Yeah, I guess."
They were silent for a moment, and then Chiro cleared his throat.
"Yes?" Antauri said.
"Are the preparations for your mission all set?"
"Yes, Chiro, everything is prepared, everyone seems ready, we'll be leaving within the hour," Antauri then sighed, which made Chiro look concerned. "Listen Chiro, I have also been concerned about your thoughts about being the Chosen One. I don't mean to keep such secrets from you and by now you must tire of me telling you information that I've known for a while."
Chiro sighed. "A little, what is it now?"
"There was a prophecy that I had studied during my days in the Temple of the Veron Mystics. It named a Chosen One, predicting the coming of a great evil, told of destruction and chaos yet offered a few gems of hope. Mostly I viewed the prophecy to be like many of the others I read; mere stories or random predictions made by those with wishful hearts and minds, some with extraordinary creative powers. However, as time went on and ever since meeting you, the layout of events have been a little disturbing."
"So there is evidence," Chiro murmured thoughtfully.
"However there is little chance of finding it," Antauri warned. "Don't forget the Veron Temple is all but in ruins now. I only tell you of this to help bring your mind to some ease."
"Right, right," Chiro muttered.
Antauri went over to Chiro and took his hand in his own. "I know that things are frustrating at times, Chiro, most of the time I believe things happen for a reason, even if in the meantime they cause pains and discomforts."
"I understand," Chiro said.
Antauri squeezed his hand. "I suppose I better be going."
Chiro kneeled down and hugged the silver monkey. "As irritated as I might get, I'm always going to, well, you guys are the only family I have."
Antauri smiled, understanding the words that Chiro didn't say. "I know, Chiro."
"Be careful out there, Antauri, and come home safely."
Antauri raised a hand slowly to pat the boy on the back. Chiro's tone of voice had him a little worried, but he brushed it off in favor of giving Chiro a reassuring smile.
"I will. Take care of yourself, Chiro."
Antauri slowly left the room, Chiro smiling at him as he left. Once the door shut, he collapsed onto the bed and his smile collapsed with it as his face crinkled up in deep, deep thought.