Private's Predicament

A/N: Here's the next chapter. It does seem a little rushed to me at the end especially, but I'll try fixing that with the next chapter. Here we're going to find out how Private and his last team met and how the two teams are going to interact. Constructive criticism is appreciated, and I'll take what the readers have to say. Thank you for putting up with the slow process this is turning out to be as well as myself.

Chapter 4: Meetings and Plans

Private was the first one awake the next morning, which was unusual enough to make him wonder what he should do. He briefly toyed with the idea of removing his bandages, but he remembered Kowalski's reaction to him doing that last time a year ago. He shivered, Kowalski could be rather terrifying at times. So instead, he decided to watch the sunrise up top. Their habitat actually produced a wonderful view. And with late Spring on them, the weather was nice too. As he sat silently, he thought over the events of the past 24 hours. Bastion was alive and in New York City with Trapper and Scales looking for the Herculean Power Core. Five years of silence and boom! Private sighed. He could remember when he first met his team and the events that lead up to it clearly.

It had been eight years ago. Private had been injured, slightly mind you, during a solo mission. His uncle, being overprotective as he was, had made a rather big deal of it. A big enough deal that he refused to allow Private to go to a mini-golf tournament in Texas. He had forbidden it, actually. But upon over hearing his Uncle accept a mission with a minimum of six days the same week as the tournament, he came up with an idea. Shortly after his Uncle Nigel left, so did Private. It took him a day in a half to get to there. The actual tournament lasted two days, and it was a day in a half to get back. He had only been gone for five days. Five! Plenty of time, surely, to make it back home before his Uncle Nigel returned from his mission. Private had never been so wrong in his entire life.

Something Private forgot was that Nigel Adelaide was- and still is- MIA6's best agent. Agent Nigel had finished his mission in four days. Four. Days. Upon arriving back in London on the afternoon of the fourth day, Nigel had heard news of an old enemy- one known to use underhanded tactics- around London. And when he got home, it was to discover that his nephew wasn't there. Nigel feared the worst: that his enemy had found out bout Pri's existence. Keeping his nephew happy and safe, keeping him a secret, had been his main goal in life. To keep him a secret from the sickos that would use him in horrible ways if it meant hurting Nigel. When he poked around for answers though, he learned that his nephew had gone to the tournament he had been forbidden from going too. After all, his injury wouldn't be fully healed for another few days. Nigel was livid. Hearing his enemy had disappeared to Africa, and that his nephew was on his way back, he waited.

When Private had arrived home, it was to face his angry uncle. After a rather severe tongue lashing, Nigel had decided on his punishment once Private was fully healed. Nigel sent his nephew to the agency's training camp for six months. It was there that Private had met his old team. Barrage was a young recruit like Private, and became Private's training partner, with Eyre as their senior officer and Bastion as their Commanding Officer. It was towards the end of the six months of training, on their final practice recon mission: they were ambushed by criminals that had infiltrated the camp grounds. The four worked together and captured the criminals. They had been a team since then. Until five years ago.

Private was so deep in his thoughts that he failed to notice the animal that approached him until it was right behind him. Sensing the animal, Private reacted on pure instinct. Dodging to the side, Private spun around and quickly kicked whoever attacked him away. His foot connecting with fur before he was crashed into from behind. This sent him and his attackers crashing into the pool with a splash just as his team had gotten onto the top. "PRIVATE!?" they cried in alarm, jumping in and grabbing him before his attackers could resurface. The four penguins landed softly onto one side of the ice berg, shortly before a tall, dignified penguin they all recognized joined them on the other side. Closely following the penguin was a soaked hawk and fox.

"No way." Private muttered in shock, not expecting what was before him.

"I told you that you would be hearing from me soon Pri." Nigel told the young penguin with a smirk. "And I brought a couple of old friends with me. I'm sure there's no need for introductions between the three of you."

"Barrage? Eyre?" Private asked, just to make sure.

"Glad you remember us Pyre. Though I guess you go by Private now." the fox, Eyre, said with a toothy smirk. Private nodded, trying to step around Skipper, only for the older penguin to hold him back. "You must be his new team. You know you can trust us, right?" Eyre asked with a raised brow, a knowing twinkle in his eyes.

"As if. You just sent our injured Private crashing into the water below." Skipper replied gruffly, Rico and Kowalski on either side of him and Private.

"They didn't hurt me Skipper. And if I had been paying attention, they wouldn't have gotten the drop on me." Private defended his old team. When Skipper's eyes landed on him though, Private looked down in shame and apology. He was in trouble for leaving HQ with out informing them.

"We will be talking later Private." Skipper said tightly, the statement only for his team to hear.

Private sighed. "Aye Skipper." Private agreed. Skipper's eyes softened as he saw the younger avian's shame and apologetic demeanor. Showing he was sorry and knew he was in trouble.

If it wasn't for the younger bird's own safety, he wouldn't be cracking down so hard. "How about you introduce us properly to your old team Private?" Skipper asked with a small smile. He couldn't believe how soft Private had made him. A glance from the corner of his eye showed Rico and Kowalski were on the same page as he was.

"Right!" Private said, brightening up. "Skipper, Kowalski, Rico- this is my old team. Barrage." he pointed a flipper at the golden hawk who gave a small bow. "And Eyre." the fox nodded his head, too busy dissecting the three older penguins before him to actually give a bowing curtsy. He was more focused on the dynamic between Private and the three older penguins. "Guys, this is my team- Skipper our Commanding Officer. Kowalski our scientist and medic. And Rico, our demolitions and weapons expertise." Private finished the introductions with a smile.

"Pleasure to meet Pyre- Private's new team. I hope he hasn't been too much of a flipper full." Eyre joked, making Private pout. The others present couldn't help but chuckle at the adorable sight.

"Oh, we handle him just fine." Skipper said with a small smile. He still wasn't sure about the two predators before his team. But they were a part of his youngest member's last team. He could at least try. They tried for Nigel, they would surely try with them.

"Let's get down and discuss what we know." Nigel said with a somber expression now that the introductions were over with. With the slightest of maneuvering, the group were down below. "Give us a run down of everything from the beginning." Nigel ordered the penguins. It was an hour later before they had finished the tale from Bastion's first sighting, the thumb drive they found, and the Herculean Power Core.

"Pyre was the password? That doesn't make sense." Barrage muttered. "With how they separated, that Pyre would still hold important enough meaning..." it was clear they were all confused by the information.

"Maybe it was the thing he least expected anyone to think the password would be." Private suggested. "After all, if you hated someone, would you be expected to use their name as your password for something containing important information?"

"That makes sense, in a twisted sort of way." Kowalski replied, though something was just a little off about it. Thoughts for later, he supposed.

"So there's a Herculean Power Core somewhere in this city that can power an army of death day robots." Eyre said, giving a sigh.

"Unfortunately. And we don't have any idea where it could be or what they plan to do with it." Skipper replied.

"So we need to canvas the city and try to figure out if there has been anything that counts as especially weird, even for New York City." Private muttered. He gazed around their home. His uncle and old team were on the left side of the room while his team was on the right side of the room. And he knew both parties well enough to know things weren't going to go smoothly. Despite trusting both groups with his life, they were too paranoid and wouldn't be getting along anytime soon. It would be up to him to keep things going smoothly.

"What we need is a plan." Barrage said.

"Agreed. Our first priority should be to listen out for any new of Scales and Trapper. If we can figure out where they arrived, or even when, we'll get a jump start on this." Skipper said. Then he looked over at Private. He knew they would need Private to do the plan and make the decisions. He was the only one either group would listen to after all. Private understood and nodded.

"We should look into the park and any contacts we have. Rico and Skipper can get a hold of the broaches down town. They have ears everywhere." Private suggested, shivering at the memory. Rico and Skipper nodded, both knowing Skipper could keep Rico focused better than the other two. "Kowalski, see if you can get any more information from the files. There's a hidden message in there somewhere, and I know you can find it." Private told his tall team mate. Kowalski nodded. It made sense. None of the others were nearly as tech savvy as he was. And Private knew Barrage and Eyre weren't either. "Barrage will be our eyes in the sky. We need an aerial contact. I would suggest speaking with other fliers. Try to keep an eye on Skipper and Rico, in case you need backup. They'll be in your area." he told Barrage. The hawk nodded, reluctant about seeking help from the strange penguins but knowing it was for the best. "Uncle Nigel, Eyre, and I will canvas the docks and the warehouses near them. We'll speak with the rats. They run those docks and they'll know if strangers were coming around. Everyone reports back here at 15:00 hours. No excuses." Private finished. The others nodded. "Alright. Stay safe and stay in contact." Private's blue eyes hardened as he looked at every animal in the room. "Do not take risks that aren't necessary. And you all know me well enough to know what I mean." the animals shivered in slight fear before nodding. Private smiled. "Let's go then." the group nodded and they went on their ways.

Before taking off, Barrage looked at the two penguins that would be his partners- kind of. "He's gotten a lot more terrifying since he's joined your team." he told Rico and Skipper. They looked at him. "It's nice to see his confidence has increased so much. Back then, despite our attempts, he wouldn't have come up with such a good plan and been sure about it." Barrage gave a small smile, before he flew off. Rico and Skipper shared a look and gave a small smile. Maybe Barrage wouldn't be so bad after all. The duo slid off, aiming for their destination. Hopefully the broaches could give them some ideas to work on.

On the other side of the spectrum, Nigel, Eyre, and Private made their way to the docks. They kept out of sight, not needing to cause a panic with the people of NYC. "So the dock is the best place to look into illegal animals entering the city?" Eyre asked curiously, looking at his old friend.

"Yup. Because the rats are territorial, it's their job to know who comes and who goes." Private explained as the docks came into view. Before they could get closer, a familiar rat with four other small ones blocked them off. "Bio? Is that really you?" Private asked in surprise.

"Private? What are you doing here zoo bird?" Bio asked, eyes narrowed.

"I could ask you the same. I thought that the sewers was more your scene?" Private replied.

"Well, the boss here is my cousin. Things have happened and he needs some help." Bio looked at the bird with understanding eyes. "I know you and your team know that better than anyone, considering the lengths you guys go for each other." he finished. Private nodded in understanding. "So who are those guys behind you?" Bio asked suspiciously.

"Right. Bio, this is Nigel, my uncle. And Eyre, a previous team mate of mine." Private introduced. "Guys, this is Bio, the Rat King. We skirmish on occasion."

"I remember when you guys wound up in our fight ring all those years ago. Really took it out of your Skipper." Bio said in reminiscence.

"Then there was that time with the hockey game." Private grinned.

"Um...sorry about the porcupine thing. Didn't mean to send you that far." Bio replied sheepishly.

"Same. We weren't the nicest either." Private replied. "Honestly, I'm more concerned with the danger you put the ducklings in when you and the hornets attacked. I would have invited you if you had given me the chance. Admittedly, I hadn't wanted that thing to be thrown in the first place. I was waiting for their birthday."

"Ah, the lemur king fellow- Julian, right?" Private nodded in reply. "So, uh...why are you here, feather brains? No offense." Private nodded, getting back on track.

"We need information about some illegal animals that came around recently." Nigel answered. Bio looked at the British bird for a moment.

"Anything specifically? There was a higher increase of illegals over the past month according to my cousin. Especially fliers." he muttered. "Glad you're not a flying bird Pri. They're a pain in the tail." Bio griped.

Private laughed. "I'll take my blessings. We're looking more specifically for a camel spider and a snake. They would have arrived recently. Less than a week, if I had to guess. Maybe before or after a tuxedo with a scar." Private explained. Bio's eyes widened, before narrowing.

"What are they? What are you going to do?" Bio asked, guarded. Private's eyes narrowed in understanding.

"They're wanted criminals and we're hoping to bring all three in. The penguin happens to be a traitor and nearly killed Pri back when he was in our squad." Eyre answered. Bio was shocked.

"Is the scarred penguin the reason you're in bandages?" Bio asked.

"Came in the night before last, attacked me when I pursued him." Private shrugged, not bothered by the admission.

"And he's alive?" Bio asked.

"Not if any of these guys get a hold of him." Private sighed. Bio smirked.

"I see. Come with me, my cousin Mac will want to see you." Bio told the trio, and began leading them towards the center warehouse with a few extra painted graffiti pics on the side. Bio nodded at the rats on their way and entered the main warehouse. There were about 20 rats scattered around the room- black, white, brown, and mixed. The room was also housing iced crates of cheeses of all kinds. And there were a few others things, like certain herbs Private knew were for medicines that might not be fully legal in this area of the animal kingdom. He'd let it slide. The rat populace ended up sicker than others despite their hardy immune systems. These herbs were rather important to their health.

In the back of the warehouse where there was a small desk was another rat. This rat was dark gray with white and red spots and brown eyes. He was also larger than common sewer rats, and while he wasn't Private's height, he came to his shoulders. "Oh Mac! Got some friends here to see you. It's about those visitors." Bio called to the older mouse. Mac looked up, pure rage on his eyes at the mention of the 'visitors'.

"Oh yeah, and what do they have to do with them?" Mac asked angrily. Private's eyes softened as he made the connection.

"They're the reason you have Bio here, aren't they?" Private asked. Mac looked the three animals over. And while he was on edge around the predator fox and the older penguin gave him the chills, he found the younger penguin just fine. He had heard about this bird from his cousin.

"Maybe." Mac replied.

"These three animals are wanted criminals. We want to get them put in prison to pay for their crimes." Private explained. Nigel and Eyre shared a look. Personally, the two of them wanted Bastion dead. They'd concede to Private's wishes about Scales and Trapper though. Mac studied them for a long moment before nodding.

"Those two, the serpent and arachnid...they arrived two nights ago. I was out of the city on business that night. Those bastards ate ten of my animals that night. We don't even have bodies for their families." Mac replied angrily. Nigel knew that pain all to well.

"I am sorry for your loss Mac. We'll get them and they will face justice for what they've done." Nigel swore. Mac looked at the older penguin and nodded.

"What can I do for you?" Mac asked with a sigh.

"We need to know anything you can tell us. Something that was overheard. Who they came in with. Where they were headed. Things like that." Nigel replied.

"They came in just after midnight, less than half my guys were there. They had at least three of their animals each with them. They were discussing things about cores. They made their way to the northern part of the city." Mac shrugged. "What ever they're planning, it's set to go down within the next five days. The last thing one of my men heard before passing out was that they had business in Madagascar a week from their arrival. I'll have my guys keep an eye out for any of them. I'll keep you informed. I want you to keep me informed as well." Mac told them.

"We will." Nigel told him. With a nod, they headed off and back towards the zoo. They would arrive just in time for Private's curfew.

PRIVATE'S PREDICAMENT

Skipper and Rico had arrived at he broaches home. They were warmly received by the creatures, much to Skipper's amusement. They wanted Rico to hang out with them more, but unfortunately they were busy. "Sorry broaches, but we need information."

"About what, bird bros?"

"Camel spider or large snake anywhere around? They would have come in recently and they're a threat to the city." Skipper explained. The roaches shared a look and talked between themselves.

"Yeah bro! We saw them like, last night in the northern part of the city bro." Brody, the leader of the broaches replied.

"Northern part of the city. Thanks broaches." Skipper said, before looking over and seeing Rico playing with dynamite with some of the others. "Rico! Come on soldier!" Skipper called.

"'Power core?" Rico rasped.

"Right. So apparently these bad animals are looking for a Herculean Power Core. Know anything about that?" Skipper asked. "It could be that it'd be housed in the northern part of the city. Lots of humans would be around."

"Power core bro? Never heard of it bro." Brody said.

"OH! Bro! There is this weird building to the east bro! Like north east. Weird humans going in and out bro. They even had weapons!" one of the other broaches said.

"Really Bro-my?" Brody asked.

"Like totally Bro! Want us to look into it bro?" Bro-my asked Skipper. Skipper and Rico shared a look.

"If you don't mind. That'd be great." Skipper agreed.

"Awesome bro! We'll report back to you later bro!" several of the broaches headed off.

"Thanks!" Rico called out. The duo headed off, seeing Barrage above them. They gave a wave of success before the trio made their way back to the zoo.

PRIVATE'S PREDICAMENT

Kowalski was going through the file again, and looking up what he could on the web. The Herculean Power Core was merely a prototype. It wasn't guaranteed to work, though even if it was a failure, it still could produce a lot of energy. The building was kept under secure lock and key. Much like the information on the core itself. The file itself turned out to contain an encrypted message about coming to New York City two nights before. Dealing with any problems that came their way. And to keep an eye out for agents. He shook his head. Apparently, they were already expecting the agents to be a problem. Bastion just hadn't been expecting Private to be one of them. With that thought in mind, he checked the clock and realized everyone would be back soon. He had a feeling that they had a lot to talk about.

A/N: A little rushed, but I'm hoping you still liked the chapter. Please review and let me know your thoughts.