Chapter 23 - Unchained?

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September 6, 2017

3.20 am, Cancun International Airport, Mexico

"He's clear to fly." Dr. Wong says, overlooking Fire's charred body with great concern.

It's been 2 minutes since Team Six landed in Cancun International Airport. While en route, Aviator used the Blackhawk's onboard first aid kit to cover up Fire's most severely burned areas. The flight was taciturn. Team Six was also verified and no longer needed escorts. After landing, the team split from the President's granddaughters, who were immediately surrounded by Secret Service agents and led away by FBI Supervisory Special Agent Erika Diaz-Iglesias to a different hangar. Team Six was directed to a nearby hangar.

"How is he even still alive?" Romeo asks as he and Fred watch Team Six depart.

"Don't know but for sure he's not walking out of this mission the same." Fred answers pensively.

Team Six had put on a brave facade until the moment they reunited with Dr. Kabeer Wong in a private hangar occupied by the team's G-IV private jet. The team carry-in Fire on a stretcher and head straight for the jet. Dr. Wong meets them halfway then follows back to the jet while inspecting Fire. Dr. Wong's shock and concern for Fire override the team's stoic demeanor.

"Dear Heavens." Dr. Wong says as he examines Fire with his stethoscope, "How long has he been in this condition?"

"We found him about 40 minutes ago." Quake answers.

"He's clear to fly." Dr. Wong says as he quickly puts away his stethoscope, "We must begin treatment within 2 hours."

"I'll spin up the engines." Aviator says as he heads to the jet's cockpit, "We'll be at Naval Station Key West base in under 45 mikes."

Owing to their mythical Top Secret status, Team Six could only be medically cared for by Dr. Wong barring extraordinary circumstances. Spectrum and Quake lift Fire's stretcher up the jet's stairs and into the aircraft. Wave and Shade follow close behind. Everyone finally stops at the onboard medical bay section at the back of the private jet. Fire is gently transferred from the stretcher to the bed.

"I will radio ahead to prep the base, doctor." Spectrum says as he heads to the cockpit.

"Pass me the burn pad bandages." Dr. Wong asks.

Quake retrieves the bandages from an overhead compartment and hands it off to Dr. Wong.

"Chloe, hook him up to the Vital Sign Monitor." Dr. Wong says as he goes about applying the bandages, "Shade, take some electrolytes."

Wave AKA Chloe, does as she is told. She connects cables to Fire which shows his slow heart rate amongst other vitals on the monitor above the bed.

"We're cleared for immediate take-off." Aviator says over the PA, "Secure the cabin."

Quake pulls up the airplane's doors then heads to his seat and buckle's in. The others are already buckled up. The plane begins moving. Within seconds, they are out of the hangar and on the runway. 2 minutes later, Team Six is back in the air.

"What happened?" Dr. Wong finally asks as he steps out of the medical bay.

The cabin is silent save for the gentle hum of the twin engines.

"We found him inside an active incinerator." Kaori answers in abject shock while drinking from a pink bottle. The personality of Shade has swapped places since the mission has ended.

"It was all a trap to get to him." Quake answers.

"But how?" Dr. Wong asks.

"Don't know. Some nutter gassed us all with something but I feel fine." Wave says.

"All of you?" Dr. Wong asks. "Symptoms?"

"The gas knocked us out but nothing else." Quake answers.

"The guards claimed we had less than 6 hours to live because of the Mad Scientist." Kaori says.

"Who calls themselves Mad Scientist? Absolute loon." Wave says.

"What do you know about the substance?" Dr. Wong asks.

"We didn't have time to go through everything but..." Kaori says pointing to the pile of dust-stained papers and hard drives on the counter, "Hopefully it's enough."

"I will give you all preliminary inspections just in case." Dr. Wong says, "Then run proper blood tests once we-"

BOOM!

A loud disturbance interrupts Dr. Wong. Some kind of energy discharge from the Medical Bay where Fire lays. Dr. Wong quickly undoes his seatbelt but is bested by Wave who is up from her seat a second faster. Kaori follows, supported by Quake. Everyone stands in shock.

"What is going on back there?" Aviator asks over the PA.

No one responds as everyone is too busy gawking at the scene in front of them. Around Fire is a ball of dancing bright red and orange. The monitoring machine is in a fritz. Suddenly, the ball expands in a flash. Wave, Kaori, and Quake all pass out upon contact. Spectrum, who was on his way to the Medical Bay, also collapses. Aviator, who is flying the plane, suddenly loses consciousness and inadvertently puts the plane in a nosedive. Only Dr. Wong remains awake as he watches everything happen in a flash.

"It is finally time." Dr. Wong says, his face a mix of melancholy and relief.

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