A/N: This was written BEFORE Season 2, therefore Sage is unable to modify BattleKey coordinates.

Vert watched her; watched like he needed her. She was like a drug to him, intoxicating, beautiful. He wanted to hold her, feel her warm body against his, feel her soft lips on his in a tender kiss. The leader in red sighed deeply. He tore his gaze away from the Huntress, the beautiful, graceful huntress. He needed to focus, needed to distract himself from her, needed…her. She was the only thing on his mind. The StormShock alarm rang, scattering his thoughts. He sat for a minute more, when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up and saw himself in dark mocha eyes.

"Hey. You coming?" She joked, gently shaking him and sprinting to the undercarriage of her car. Vert sat in pleasant shock, tingling at the touch, replaying her voice in his head. Finally, the leader stood and left with his team.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

The Saber gave a harsh shudder as Krocomodo rammed it. Vert shook his head, clearing his mind of her, focusing on the battle. They were in an unpredictable grid zone, constantly changing. He needed to be at the top of his game if he wanted to win the BattleKey. Vert sent all thoughts of her to the back of his mind as he searched for the Key. He was turning when the corner of his eye caught a flash of green. That was all it took. Mission deserted; he stared at the majestic vehicle as it battled with Kalus' upgraded, similar one. Lost in thought, gazing upon the perfect face within the vehicle, he gasped when a stream of voices suddenly argued for his attention. Spinner's message stood out the most.

"GET THE KEY, VERT!"

Vert cursed. He had allowed himself to become distracted by her again. He turned his head to find Sever driving straight for the Key. The leader spun towards it, but it was too late. He found himself watching helplessly as the humanoid shark sped towards his Homeworld in victory. Kalus disengaged from his losing battle with the ATV expert in favor of his Homeworld. Vert watched her deep mocha eyes assess the situation. He was still staring when she gripped her controls and followed the beasts. The scene played out in front of him, as if in slow-motion as the emerald ATV sped into the portal to Vandal. Before he new what he was doing, his foot had slammed the gas and he was heading into the portal, and he was almost there, when…A flash of blue overtook his vision, and suddenly there were several tons between him and his destiny. Vert growled, his instincts dominating his logical thoughts as he pushed his car harder.

"Sherman! Let me go! It's closing!" He screamed, not recognizing his own voice, twisted with desperation and pain. More colors, more sounds, in front of him, calling his name. He didn't hear anything; the only thing he saw was the swirling portal, saw it tempting him, saw it beginning to close. He heard her voice playing in his head. Don't worry. He thought. I AM coming.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Sage noticed the absence of the car and it's driver the moment they returned.

"What has become of-"

"She's gone." Vert spoke darkly. He stood up, left the Saber, and departed to his room. Zoom looked questioningly in the direction of the leader, as Sherman described their situation for the Sentient. She nodded, listening intently.

"So, how are we going to get her back?" Spinner asked. Sage pondered his question.

"I do not know, Spinner." The team was shocked at her response. Sage had always known what to do, always had the plan. If she couldn't help the ATV driver, was it possible that they would never see her again? "Without a StormShock, you will not be able to access Vandal. I regret what I am about to say, but we simply have no choice but to wait." Everyone realized that they had to accept the grim fact.

"Someone had better tell Vert." Stanford said, but no one volunteered. Finally, Sherman stepped up. "I'll give it a shot." There were murmurs of agreement, as they all believed in the sensitive, strong Cortez.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Sherman took a deep breath and knocked on Vert's door. "Vert?" He asked softly, as if his voice could break the leader. At the sound of no response, he slowly opened the door. His brown eyes found Vert sitting on his bed. No movement, just sitting, gazing into space. His ocean-blue eyes seemed darker with remorse as they met Sherman's caring ones. Vert let out a deep sigh.

"What's up Sherm?" He asked tiredly. Sherman had never seen Vert like this. He was their rock, their leader. He knew things were bad, but he hated to do this to Vert.

"We can't get her back." He pushed the words out with difficulty, then flinched as Vert shot up angrily. "What?" He demanded, voice cold with fury.

"We don't have a way to get to Vandal." Sherman began stuttering, anxious at the look in Vert's deep blue eyes. "We just have to wait until the next StormShock, and then we can slipstream behind them to get her." Sherman took a step back, expecting a tirade, but Vert just looked through him, as if he weren't there. The leader took a step back and sat back on the bed, shell-shocked. Sherman knew his mind had left the room. He hated seeing Vert this way. The needed him, now more than ever with the second-in-command a likely prisoner.

"Vert," Sherman began. He was about to sit next to the leader when Vert stood up. "Sherman. Please." His eyes begged to be alone, and Sherman complied.

"Yell if you need anything." He said, turning to leave. "And Vert?" His leader looked up from where he sat in solace.

"I'm sorry. We'll get her back. I promise." The Cortez left the room, and Vert's head went into his hands. His eyes stinging with bitter tears, the leader's shoulders shook as he sobbed in memory of what he had lost. The broken man stood and saw his grieving face in the mirror. He looked himself square in the eyes and swore to himself and to her, thousands of miles away.

"I'm coming."