DISCLAIMER: I have nothing to claim except the OC.

WARNING: language. New character - character death.

AMP IT UP

Yet another slow day for Ben, Gwen and Kevin as they sat in Kevin's Camaro in the parking lot of Mr. Smoothie. So far it's been an unusually quiet summer where nothing out of the ordinary happened…but with the trio out of the ordinary was an everyday occurrence.

"It's been too quiet recently…" Gwen uttered from the backseat with Ben and Kevin staring at each other; their look the least bit aggressive as they seemed to get lost in the others eyes.

"I know…" Ben couldn't help but utter in response "…times like this kind of make me wish it was like the old times, you know, battle after battle with barely enough time to catch our breaths between 'em"

Another wave of silence filled the car. Whether anybody admitted it or not, they all a had to agree with Ben's point of view; sure it was chaotic at times, but deep down they all missed the good old days.

A light shrieking scream brought the trio from their trance like state; looking around, Ben found then pointed out a boy roughly his age dressed in all black clothing, long black hair with an electric guitar slung over his shoulder running in obvious fear. "Cash…" Bens tone dropped witnessing Cash giving chase to the boy.

The boy turned back long enough to see how close Cash was, looking the way he was running, the boy lost his balance and tripped over his own feet sending him toppling over with a yelp; the yelp turned to whimpers as he curled up into a ball with Cash close enough to smell the fear coming from the boy. This is it…the boy thought catching a quick glimpse of Cash's fisted hand coming right for his face.

Nothing. The boy forced himself to look. Cash seemed frozen in place behind a bright pink energy shield - his knuckles flat against the barrier.

"Tennysons!"

"Leave him alone Cash" Ben shouted kneeling down putting his hand gently against the new boys shoulder "You all right kid?" with this the kid nodded with large puppy dog eyes that seemed to melt even Kevin's heart.

"Who's going to make me? 'Cause I don't see that brainless buffoon here to protect you two…"

"Oh, that brainless buffoon whom owns the car you pushed down the hill and into a tree?" Cash's eyes grew wide feeling Kevin's hot breaths on the back of his neck. Cash instantly took off with Kevin stomping directly behind. Gwen let the energy shield dissipate before she walked over to Ben and the new boy.

Ben and Kevin watched as the new kid - sitting on the hood of Kevin's car - tuned his guitar until one note sounded perfectly in line with the next higher. The boy winced slightly as Gwen placed a bright blue band-aid on his cheek. From that slight winch, Ben noticed the boys pale blue eyes that were warm and cold at the same time.

"Your last name is Tennyson, right?" the boy asked glaring between Ben and Gwen

"Yup" Gwen nodded with a slight smile "I'm Gwen, that's Ben and Kevin Levin over there"

"I'm Dominick, but I go by Hornet. Do you have any relation to the great Max Tennyson?" with this the cousins stared blankly at the boy.

"Max is our grandpa…" Ben's tone turned surprised as the boy smiled wide enough for it to stretch ear to ear.

"You mean my hero is your grandpa? How cool is that?"

_X_

"Grandpa, you home?" Ben called out climbing up into the Rustbucket, a slight grin crept across his face as Max turned back from the sink.

"Ben…what brings you around?" Max's face told of delight and joy

"Grandpa, we met a new kid earlier. Says you're his biggest hero" Ben couldn't keep from chuckling slightly at the humor of the situation. Both moved to the front of the RV and sat in the front seats.

"Boy does this bring back memories" Max trailed off gripping the steering wheel in his hands "Remember five years ago when we took the summer trip that changed our lives forever?"

"How could I forget? Vilgax, Six-six, Hex and Charmcaster…everyday was a new adventure with my grandpa and goofy cousin" Ben laughed remembering everything with an eerie silence falling upon them.

"I know I've said it before, but I'm proud of you kids. You've grown up a lot since then and I'm glad to brag that I've got grandkids like you two. So, who's the new kid that idolizes me?"

"Says his name is Dominick, goes by the nickname…"

"Hornet…" Ben and Max glared at each other - both daring to say something but not sure if they should.

Before Ben could say anything, Max broke the silence "Carries an electric guitar slung over his shoulder?"

"Yeah, how'd you know?"

"Ben…" Max's tone lowered and intensified "…listen very carefully; you, Gwen and Kevin need to put as much distance as possible between you guys and that kid. Don't go saying anything about Plumbers or the Omnitrix or let him see anyone's power"

"He saw a hint of Gwen's powers earlier when we saved him from Cash"

"Ben; when you get home, tell Gwen and Kevin to stay away from that kid"

"What? He can't be all that bad, sure he's a little strange, but he doesn't look like he could possibly pose any threats we can't handle…"

"Wrong Ben! Hornet is way out of your league…damn, even out of my league…" hearing this Ben instantly leapt up and took a step back while holding a demanding finger at Max

"GRANDPA! What aren't you telling me?"

"Trust me Ben. This is one of the rare times when the less you know the safer you are. Hate me if you see fit, but I'm doing this for everyone's best interest."

_X_

Max stared at a hide-away computer screen in the back of the Rustbucket; on the screen, a man appearing to be something of a brother to Max wiped the stress from his face.

"Max…" the man's rough voice was grating through the speakers "…you're sure about this?"

"Of course"

"I can't say that I'm thrilled of the idea of a semi-retired Plumber leading the team in something this dangerous, but you're record seems to justify the action"

"What about Be…?"

"Absolutely not! He's already been compromised; he'll just get in the way. You've got your orders; stick to them"

"Okay"

"And Max?"

"Hunh"

"Be careful…I don't want to loose my older brother"

The screen went black; Max sighed while running his hand through the countless gray-white-silver hairs on his head.

[ to be continued ]