A/N: I'm not quite sure where I got the inspiration for this story. It could have very well been me asking myself one day, hey, I wonder what the Storm Hawks were like as kids. Eh, I don't know. I don't really think it actually matters at this point, so quit reading this and get on to the story. Oh, and just to let you know, I haven't watched every episode of Storm Hawks yet, so if any information is incorrect could you please let me know? We'll just say this takes place right after "The Lesson".

Disclaimer: Storm Hawks belongs to Nerd Corp. The crystal, however, is of my own creation. Now that we got that out of the way….

Stork jerked and pulled at the wheel with all his might, turning the Condor out of the way of the incoming blast with feet to spare. Just as the mass of red energy passed the rudder, the entire ship shook from the thunderclap of a strike of nearby lightning. It was close. Much too close for the Merb's liking.

As his eyes scanned the controls for any indicators of damage, he couldn't help but think back to how this all started in the first place. They were on Terra Saharr shopping when they first heard a rumor of a rare and powerful crystal (didn't all their missions start off like that?). Apparently, this crystal had the power to turn back the years and make the user young again, and with continued use, keep them eternally young.

So, using the handful of vague clues and Piper's knowledge (and a ton of luck, in Stork's opinion), they were able to find the terra where the crystal was hidden. Then (with even more luck), they were able to survive all the traps and monsters guarding the temple, get the crystal, and get out before they were buried under the (typically) collapsing structure. It was then, unfortunately, that their luck ran out, when they flew through a cloud and found themselves literally nose-to-nose with a Cyclonian warship.

Why Master Cyclonis wanted the crystal was beyond Stork (she was only 14). Whatever the reason, she wasn't taking any chances this time. It wasn't just the Dark Ace, or Snipe, or Ravess. It was all three of them.

The others were trying their best, but even though the Cyclonians didn't have the enhancer crystals anymore, they still had the advantage of surprise. The storm that suddenly popped up wasn't exactly helping, either.

Stork peered out into the darkness, trying to see, well, anything. The hairs rising on the back of his neck and ears was the only split-second warning he got before a large bolt of lightning struck the Condor. Almost half of the lights started flashing an alarming red, and the sounds of the starboard engine dying could be plainly heard.

Yes, Stork thought, their luck was completely and undeniably gone.

He frantically reached for the radio. "I'm hit!" he screamed. "I'm making an emergency landing on the terra!"

As he wrestled with the increasingly resistant controls, Stork mentally ran through the various worst case scenarios. The ship could lose power before it even reached the terra, plunging into the Wastelands, it could plow headlong into the terra, crushing everything (himself included) inside, it could tear off its own engines scraping to a stop, making itself a sitting duck for the warship…the list just went on.

"We're doomed."

But miraculously, the Condor didn't plunge into the Wastelands. It didn't plow into the terra, and it kept its engines, though Stork cringed with every piercing scream of metal scraping against hard ground. All in all, the ship, finally coming to a bumpy halt, managed to stay intact, and would hopefully need only minor repairs before being flight-worthy again.

"Stork! Are you okay?" Aerrow's concerned voice crackled over the radio.

Stork had to uncrumple himself from the floor before he could reply. "I told you looking for the crystal was a bad idea."

A scream could be heard in the background. "I got the last of the Talons!" Junko proudly announced. Apparently the advantage of surprise didn't last long.

"Great!" said Aerrow. "But…has anyone seen the Dark Ace?"

"Come to think of it, I can't find Snipe or Ravess, either," Piper replied.

Maybe they saw the beating we were giving their henchmen and ran off," Finn said confidently.

Stork glanced up from the controls just as a flash of lightning threw the area into stark illumination. In that single second of intense light, Stork saw four figures on the landing strip, three of which were instantly recognizable.

"Uh, I found them."

"Really? Where?"

A metallic groan echoed through the ship as the hangar door was forced open. "They're breaking into the Condor."

"Hang on, Stork! We're coming!" Despite the reassurance, the Merb started fidgeting as he waited for the others. If there was one place where he actually felt confident of winning a fight, it was on the Condor. The Raptors had been no problem. Despite their numbers, the Murk Raiders hadn't had much of a chance, either. And Argynn…well, Argynn was different. But the Dark Ace was another thing entirely. He probably knew the nooks and crannies of this ship as well as Stork (if not better, but Stork certainly wasn't going to admit that), and therefore was possibly the only person in Atmos that could find his traps—Stork's first and only line of defense—and avoid them.

Another bolt of lightning revealed the other Storm Hawks just touching down, weapons out and ready. Soon sounds of fighting could be heard from the large room below.

The sudden sound of the cockpit door opening caused Stork to nearly jump out his skin. He whirled around and found himself facing a smirking Talon—the fourth figure on the landing strip.

"Right where the Dark Ace said you would be," he sneered as he readied his staff.

Right as he was about to fire, however, a light blue furry blur landed on his head and started viciously biting and scratching. Screaming, the Talon stumbled forward as he tried to dislodge his assailant. He finally managed to get a hold of the fur ball and threw it off of him. Unfazed, Radarr immediately leapt back up, baring his claws and fangs and snarling like a rabid coyote.

Fortunately, the Talon, in attempting to remove Radarr, had moved closer to the center of the room, right onto Stork's favorite trap, the ejector. As the Talon turned back to his original target, Stork couldn't help but smugly grin as he reached for the lever that would evict the unwanted visitor.

Just as he grasped the lever, a dull boom, more felt that heard, rumbled through the Condor, momentarily disrupting the three's balances. As the Talon recovered and again brought up his staff to fire, Stork once more reached for the lever, only to once again stop.

"Wait!" he cried out.

Confused, the Talon lowered his staff slightly. "What?"

"Do you hear that?" Stork asked, ears twitching and eyes darting around the room.

Now curious, the Talon tilted his head slightly. Radarr raised first one ear, then the other, trying to catch whatever elusive noise the Merb pilot might have heard.

After a minute, the Talon finally said, "I don't hear anything."

Stork's eye twitched slightly. "Exactly."

No clash of energy blades. No sounds of quivers being launched from their bows. No crashes from stuff being thrown around.

Aside from the occasional boom of thunder from the retreating storm, the Condor had become completely quiet.

A/N: I wanted to leave this as a cliffhanger, but I think I might have spoiled it with a few key details. -_-; Oh well. Review please. Flames will be used to make s'mores. :)