Castle Roland


by Al Norris

In Progress

Chapter 7

Posted: 19 Oct 15


Copyright © 2015 by Al Norris and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

Sunday 18 November 2012
11:55 Eastern Standard Time
UNIT Base, Bermuda

Scireians Logo"Adam, we understand that you and your people have been, um, designed for war… but have you instructed them to leave all weapons behind?" Katja asked him. "You will not need them, while under our care."

"Yes ma'am. They've all been told they don't need them."

Katja looked at the seventeen people (and one very large panther) that were assembled by the building that housed Adam and Logan's quarters. "Those of you that are going to be affected by the accelerated aging process will not need any extra clothing. You will outgrow your current clothing within a few hours. You might as well unpack any that you were thinking of bringing. We will supply anything you might need for the next few days. The only exception is Khan." Katja looked directly at him, "If we are reading your genetics correctly, you will age but not increase in stature."

There were some grumbles as about half the "kids" began unpacking and discarding what they had placed in their field packs.

"I'm keeping my lucky boxers though!" Juan said as he pulled out his favorite pair. It showed a smiley face with a bullet hole in the upper left corner. He then turned them around and showed the butt area, which had 'Live Long and Prosper' written across it.

Tommy started giggling as Fluffy walked over to Juan and lightly grabbed the boxers with her teeth and began pulling on them.

"HEY!" Juan cried out as he pulled them back. "If you get any slobber on them…" Juan started to say until Fluffy yanked them out of his hand, then sat down and looked down at him with an 'and…' expression.

"God damned huge, deadly, intelligent, cats…" Juan muttered more to himself, but still loud enough for everyone to hear, then looked up at the Scireians. "Well… we going any time soon? You're cutting into my killin' time!" Those that knew Juan knew he was trying to cover up just how scared he was at what was going on.

Katja stood there, almost glaring at both Juan and Sabrina, who was doing her best to keep from laughing out loud. "OK, if everyone is ready, follow me and we will get going." Katja and Sabrina walked around the south wing of the mansion to the large grassy area and waited for everyone to catch up to them.

If anyone were to look very close, they might have seen a twenty foot circular depression in the grass that was about sixty feet just south of the mansion. Raising her arm to her mouth, she talked into what everyone had taken to be a watch, "Pilot, decloak and lower the entry ramp, please." There was a slight shimmer in the air, then the vehicle appeared. It was about seventy-five feet in diameter and about twenty feet tall. A section of the under hull opened and a ramp extended towards them.

Transport ShipMost of the UNIT kids just grinned, when they saw the transport appear. From Tommy and Ronnie you could hear them both say, "Way kwel!" Will looked directly at Katja and asked, "Would you teach me how to fly one of those? What kinds of armaments does it have? What's the basis of the stealth tech?"

An older teen or young man was walking down the ramp of the ship and answered before Katja could respond. "You must be the UNIT's pilot, Will?" Will turned to him and nodded. "My name is Marko Beck. I'm in charge of overall security for our society. Let's all get settled aboard the transport, if you please. Perhaps then we can answer some of your questions." Marko stood at the bottom of the ramp and extended his arm towards the ramp inviting them all to board the craft.

Inside, there were three other young men, who helped everyone to their seats and showed them how to secure their gear and themselves.

The inside of the ship was also circular with about twenty seats around the wall, a ladder in the center leading to an upper deck with ten seats arranged around it. Janet, Joe, Adam and Logan were led to seats in the center with Katja and Sabrina.

As soon as Juan sat down in one of the outer circle seats, a red light began blinking right above him. The three men helping to seat everyone, immediately pulled devices from their belts and aimed them right at Juan. Marko looked up, "Young man? You seem to have some weapons on your person. They will not be needed here nor where you are going."

Without even looking, Adam almost shouted to Juan, "Get rid of all your weapons Juan. NOW!"

"But… but Adam, I can't walk around naked," he whined.

Logan just shook his head. "Juan just take them off, please?"

Juan began pulling several guns, knives and throwing stars from concealment and placing them on the deck. He looked around and sat back down. The red light continued to flash. "Juan is it?" Marko asked as one of the security guys placed them all in a small basket. "Our A.I. is still detecting some weapons on you. Are you sure you haven't left out something?"

With a look of disgust on his face, Juan reached into his boots and withdrew three more knives and two small guns. "OK. That's all of them. Now you have a naked Juan running around!" He sat back down and the light went out. "Hey! What were those things you guys pointed at me?"

Marko smirked. "Those are neural dampeners. If you had been shot, your voluntary neural network would have shut down. Unlike TASERS, our system is 100% effective. We have found that in most situations, they do the job quite nicely, they are non-lethal and the effects are temporary."

Marko spoke into the air, "Pilot, I believe we are ready to depart." Marko then walked up to a seat in the inner circle and buckled up.

A low-pitched strumming sound was heard, and everyone could tell that they were moving upwards. A few moments later, a lateral motion could be felt as the strumming noise diminished to be almost inaudible.

After about five minutes the pilot announced, "We have achieved an operating altitude of 15.24 kilometers, with an airspeed of 4023 kilometers per hour. For you Americans, that is 50,000 feet at 2500 miles per hour. Flight time will be one hour and twenty minutes."

Logan wrinkled his brow for a moment before he spoke. "The way your pilot phrased that, you are not Americans. The speed of this aircraft and flight time puts you in any number of places in Canada. I'm guessing somewhere just north of Washington State and maybe hundred fifty or so miles from Vancouver."

Katja smiled. "That is a fair guess. What makes you conclude that location, versus somewhere further north and east?"

"Oh, just some subtle hints. Like Marko here. You are obviously part Indian, or First Nation as the Canadians call your people. Unless I'm completely wrong, you are descended from one of the coastal tribes. You don't have the features I associate with the Eskimo or Inuit tribes. If I had to guess, Interior Salish. Another clue was all of your reactions to the temperatures. You folks appeared to be comfortable with the temperate climates of Texas, Utah and Bermuda. Which would not be the case, if you were used to the more northern climes."

Marko arched his eyebrows. "Very good deductions, young man."

"Well, it wasn't too hard. I'm the UNIT's Chief Intelligence Officer. So... can you tell me exactly where we are going?"

"Hmm," Marko mused. "You are cunning, also. For reasons of OpSec, I won't say more."

"Marko! Be nice." Sabrina said.

"I am being 'nice', Sabrina. As the Intel Officer, Logan knows what I meant."

While most of the UNIT chuckled at the exchange, Adam laughed outright. "Don't be too hard on Marko, Sabrina. He is doing his job, just like Logan is."

Marko looked around. "I guess a bit of trust is the order of the day, since we will be helping you.

"A couple of hundred years ago, our ancestors left Europe and settled in a valley that is now in what is called Canada. We became friends with the natives of that area, to the point of interbreeding with them. We built our Citadel to keep us hidden from the European invasion that was beginning to occur, even back then. Our interactions with the First Nations, American Indians as you call them, led them to help us keep our secrets, as we have improved their own lives. We share our technology with them, as they shared their own natural insights with us.

"Our sciences are premised on the natural world. We have found that by using organic methods, we have achieved and even surpassed the technology of this world. Western European tech is based almost solely upon the mechanical sciences. We have combined our work in the biologicals with the mechanical and achieved far greater advances than the Western World has ever imagined. You have seen some of that in the devices that Sabrina uses. I think you would agree that they are far superior to even the advanced devices you use." Marko got nods from several of the UNIT, including Doctor Janet.

"Our society began by exploring and experimenting based upon the work of several individuals, beginning from the time of the Renaissance. All we ever wanted was to be left alone to develop the means to halt the incessant wars that seem to plague mankind.

"Food, disease, pestilence, and over population. All are the driving forces of war. If we could develop the means to conquer these factors, there would cease to be reasons for one people to attack another. Leaving only the greed of some men over others. A psychological problem we are still working to solve.

"It has been our doctrine that when we achieved the majority of these goals, we would come out of hiding and help the world, to better mankind." Marko looked down at his feet.

"However, in keeping ourselves isolated from the world we one day hoped to help, we have become a society of pacifists. Many, if not most of our people, are now of a mind to stay in our isolation. Sadly, it is mostly the warrior class that wishes to engage the world. Those who hold to the beliefs of sharing our bounty are either in my department, security, or are sparsely spread out in the rest of the sciences." A rueful smile was on Marko's face as he again looked up.

"It is the actions of this so-called 'Army of God' that is now driving our people to see that our time of isolation may be at an end. Many of the discoveries we have made… discoveries that we determined would be used more for offensive capabilities, weapons, than the advancement of our principles, were shelved and never really used. This transport craft," Marko waved an arm to take in the ship they were flying in, "is one of those ideas. It is a prototype that was recently built. It has defensive capabilities as well as offensive armaments. It was built to test several ideas on a larger scale than we've ever tested before. Once it was a proven idea, it would have been dismantled.

"However, with the rise of the AoG puppet Ashwood, and the civil war he has engineered…"

"WHAT?" Logan interrupts. "Everything is beginning to make so much more sense now."

"Logan, what are you talking about?" Adam asked. "This is the second time this 'AoG' thing has been brought up."

"Sorry Adam. I'll tell you in a few minutes." Logan turned back to Marko. "Sorry for the interruption, sir. Please continue."

"Hmm," Marko just realized that none of the UNIT except Logan knows about the AoG, and even he didn't know of the Ashwood connection, "anyway, we are now in the process of building several more ships of this design.

"Our governing council has no choice but to prepare for war on Ashwood. We have obtained enough data to determine that the AoG, through Ashwood, is now ready to execute their plan of world domination. We, as a people, cannot sit idly by and allow that to happen."

Katja picked up the conversation at this point. "Our mechanical manufacturing process is not as efficient as it is in the Outside World. You have to understand that we have invested so much of our processes into organics, that mechanical processes are not as extensive. So while we are going to build more of these transports, this is taking a backseat to the manufacture of Sentinels. They are a priority at this time."

"Sentinels? What are they, Katja?" Adam asked.

"You know that refugee settlement at Kettle Falls, Adam?" Both Adam and Logan nodded. "What you may not be aware of is that in the last missile attack by Ashwood's forces, they fired dozens of missiles directly at the relocation center from ships off the Pacific Coast. We intercepted and destroyed them before they could reach their target. We only have a couple of dozen interceptor sleds to cover this area. This leaves our Citadel without close air support. We are currently protecting the eastern and western approaches to Kettle Falls. The northern and southern approaches are not shielded well enough to completely stop attacks from those directions, if Ashwood's forces discover this weakness.

"All it would take is a single cruise missile armed with a nuclear warhead, to destroy Kettle Falls. Given what he has already done, we do not discount such an attack."

"So these 'Sentinels' can prevent that?" Logan asked.

"Yes Logan. They will initiate an ionic disruptor field. Simply stated, the field will change the charge of all electrons in a mass that comes into contact with the field to a positive charge…"

"Since molecular bonding depends upon both negative and positive valences, this renders the mass into its constituent atomic components." Logan interrupted.

"Essentially, yes. We have calculated that ten such devices, placed around the relocation center, will be sufficient to protect the area.

"We expect to complete the manufacture of the Sentinels within two days. Then we can move into full construction of both transports and interceptors. As it is now, defense is a first priority, over offensive arms. That cannot be changed." Katja concluded.

Logan looked thoughtful for a moment. "If I understand the concept, it won't stop the lethal radiation from an already detonated nuclear explosion... say an airburst over the city."

"Unless the nuclear device hits the field before it detonates. Our Sentinels are designed to project the field to an altitude of 75,000 feet. Even this world's largest nuclear devices cannot generate a large enough blast at that altitude to damage Kettle Falls." Marko replied. "At over fourteen miles, not even the overpressure from a blast will damage anything."

"It does sound like you have taken this world's capabilities into consideration. For that, we should be thanking you… and asking if you can protect other cities. But I think that is a question best left for later," Adam then looked at Sabrina. "Can you tell us more about the immediate procedures that will be happening to us?"

"If it was simply a matter of your quantum state coming into alignment, there would be nothing to do. You won't even be aware that this is happening." Sabrina said. "It is the temporal adjustment that will occur as you merge into our universe that will cause the problems.

"As was said earlier, your bodies will begin to age. As this starts, the first thing that you will notice are symptoms of hypoglycemia. You may feel hungry. You may feel like you want to vomit. You could also feel jittery or nervous. Your heart may beat fast. You may sweat profusely. Your skin might turn cold and clammy.

"If not treated, you will pass quickly from moderate to severe hypoglycemic shock. You may feel short-tempered, nervous, afraid, or confused. Your vision may blur. You could also feel unsteady or have trouble walking. You may pass out. You might have seizures which could even cause a coma or death."

Sabrina noticed she had everyone's attention. "These are the signs that your rapid aging is starting. What we are going to do, as soon as we arrive at our Citadel, is to place you all in our medical facility. The medtechs there will analyze your individual metabolisms against your unique genetics and begin working up your nutrient requirements. Within an hour of arriving, you will all be fitted with backpacks that will do several things.

"First and foremost, it will be connected to the medical A.I.'s. The backpack sensors will constantly monitor your metabolism. The moment the A.I.'s see that the process has started, they will direct the injectors to infuse nutritional fluids into your body, via your carotid arteries and your jugular vein. As your body begins to age, it will also begin to grow. Your nutritional requirements may change from moment to moment. The A.I.'s will monitor it all and constantly adjust the flows. As the receptacles begin to empty or the nutrient requirements change, the A.I.'s will order replacements."

Sabrina looked around to everyone in the ship. "Here comes the hard part. As your body grows, you will require constant exercise. If you don't perform what your medtech requires, your musculature will form without the needed strength to support your new mass. I will warn you now that this will increase at a very rapid rate. So not performing is not an option, if you wish to recover in a short period of time, and not spend days or weeks in bed and rehab.

"As I told Adam and Logan earlier this part will be painful. Extremely painful to those of you that were not genetically modified. We will do our best to help you all through this entire ordeal."

Janet, who had been intently listening, asked the question that was foremost on her mind. "You had said that we will all come into 'convergence' with this universe," she looked at her watch, "in about forty-eight hours from now." Sabrina nodded. "When do you expect this aging to occur and how long will it last?"

"That's part of our problem. Since we have never dealt with this before, all we have to go on is what the mathematicians say. If the calculations are correct, the aging process will begin sometime in the next ten hours and will be complete at the end of convergence, or shortly thereafter."

"And you still don't know how much my kids will age?"

"No Doctor, we do not. Three to ten years is the best educated guess we have."

"So some of the kids may double or more in mass?"


"Since this is truly an aging process what about the sudden onset of puberty in some of them and the ongoing process in the rest?"

"Janet, that's actually the easiest process in this entire schema. We have been dealing with this for generations in our society." Katja stated, as she took over the conversation from Sabrina. "As you are aware, girls generally begin puberty at ages 10–11; while boys generally at ages 11–12. Puberty is generally complete in both sexes at seventeen. Although, some will be complete a year or two before this." Janet nods. "In our society, both sexes are given hormonal boosters at age ten and with controlled application are done at age twelve.

"At this time, both sexes will have completed their primary educations and may at this point continue on to what you would call college level courses or training in a field or fields that interests them. That may continue for another two years. Generally at fourteen, they are full adults in our society.

"Our people experience none of the ill effects that normal humans would experience in going through these changes. This is only one of the ways our society is different from the Outside."

"Sabrina, how long have you been a doctor?" Janet asked.

"I was a credentialed physician at fourteen and a trauma surgeon at fifteen. Since security was one of the minors I kept up with, at eighteen I was allowed to become an Outside Operative. We wait that long, as we know the Outside will not tolerate 'children' of a lesser age, doing 'adult' jobs."

"This is a lot to take in. But at least you have given me hope that this aging will be somewhat painless in that aspect of growing up." Janet smiled a bit. "So the real pain will simply be a product of the rapid tissue growth?"

Katja nodded, "Well, that's the theory. I guess we will all learn something from what is about to happen."

After several moments of silence, while everyone thought about what was to come, Adam shook his head then looked to Logan. "Okay, so who or what is this 'Army of God'? Are they like the FCC?"

Logan sighed put his hands on his knees and pushed himself to his feet. "To really understand the AoG, you need to also know about the Alterans."

"Hold on... Alterans?" Katja interrupted. "Who or what are they?"

Logan sighed again, a little heavier this time, as he looked to Daileass. Daileass nodded back, then stood and moved off, away from the group. "Sorry, but they are a rather sore spot for him." Logan said in way of explanation.

"Are they the aliens I referred to earlier?" Katja asked.

Logan nodded at Katja, then started his explanation. "I guess the best way to do this is to just spell it out, so if I lose anyone, just stop me, and I'll explain in more detail." He paused as everyone nodded, then continued. "We're not the only ones who came here from another universe. The Alterans came here and have been flourishing on Mars, and even have a small base on the moon. Long story short, in their home universe they had to fight the Army of God, and they didn't do too well, which is why they left. Either way, in this universe, the AoG is still in their juvenile stage. But, if this AoG is like the AoG from the Alterans home, which they say it is, then they want only one thing… for this world to live under their theocratic rule."

Logan paused then looked at Adam. "See, they are what the FCC wished they could be." Looking around to everyone, Logan added one more point. "The Alterans will fight the Army of God, IF they get to be a big enough threat. However, I convinced Aaron, their king, to let us handle it for now. They are dangerous, but not yet to the point that they are unstoppable."

Marko stood up and began pacing. "So you had something similar in your universe. These aliens had something similar but much more powerful? And we have the in between version. That about sum it up?"

"Pretty much." Logan said as he sat back down.

"On a tech level, where do you see our AoG?" Marko asked.

"Well..." Logan said as he sat back to think. "I would say they are probably about fifty years ahead of the Normal Earth tech. That does not include what we have, nor what you obviously have."

"OK. We know that they are starting into genetic enhancements. Sabrina's readings from her assignment proves this. We also believe that they are well into biological engineering, as far as weaponized bacteria and viruses. This was revealed by another operative that was captured in D.C. and terminated himself." Marko looked at Adam and Logan. "I would have to say, that if the aliens are yet to be a threat, then the AoG most certainly is."

"I would have to agree." Logan said, with Adam nodding. "The aliens have also given me the location of one of the AoG bio labs." Adam turned and glared at Logan, which Logan tried to ignore, but couldn't completely. "At the time that I was given that information, I deemed it was not relevant to the mission at hand. However, after finding out that they are backing Asswood's power play, I think that, after we are done here, we need to take a closer look into these.... people."

"Yeah..." was all Adam muttered.

"Marko, sit down please. You know you make me nervous with your pacing." Katja told him, then turned back to Adam. "I think we first need to concentrate on what we have before us. Once this conversion process is done and your people are back to operational status, then we can formulate some plans. Thinking on this stuff now will simply get in the way of your recovery. Sabrina? Janet?" Marko walked over to Logan, touched a device on his belt, and had a silent communication with the young man. After a moment, Marko touched his device again and sat down.

"I agree. Recovery first and foremost." Sabrina replied. "Janet, what are your thoughts?"

"I would have to agree." Janet said while sending a stern look first to Adam, then to Juan. "You guys can come up with your battle plans and stuff later."

"Yeah." Daileass said as he came back over. "Now that all the morbid shit is over with." He turned and looked at Katja. "I have something that has been bothering me since I started to hear you guys talk. With everything I've heard, the computers that you call A.I.'s are actually only rather crude V.I.'s. Why is that?" Behind Daileass, the Chipmunks couldn't help but snicker.

"I'm not familiar with the term, 'V.I.'. What does it mean?" Marko asked the young boy.

Daileass sighed. "Artificial intelligence, is just that. A computer that can logically think outside of it's base programming. Whereas a V.I., or Virtual Intelligence, can only do what is allowed within its programming."

"Ah!" Sabrina said. "That explains much."

"A difference in terminology perhaps. Our A.I.'s do add to their programming, as the occasion suits. Given a task, they will follow their programming. Given a question, they will build upon their original routines until they can derive an answer to the question. The important distinction, I believe, is that our A.I.'s are not self-aware. We have wrestled with that particular question for years. Our system is a trinary language, yes/no/maybe, instead of a binary, yes/no. To allow a computer to come to sentience, self awareness, would be a crime and we would not allow this to happen. There are safeguards to the base programming to prevent this." Katja explained.

"So Daileass and the Chipmunks are true A.I.'s, and what we have are V.I.'s in your terminology. Is that about right? That's why you have given them mobility?" Sabrina looked at Logan.

"Sort of." Daileass said after getting the go ahead from Logan. "All of us were born human, but then had our human brains removed, and positronic matrix's put in. My real body, or I should say my original body was destroyed, and for several years I was placed into several different fighting machines, to see if I could successfully replace a human crew. It wasn't until after we were rescued that Logan figured out how to give me a new body, but still have me running an entire base. Alvin, Simon, and Theodore on the other hand, are in their original bodies."

There was a look of utter horror on the faces of all the Scireians. Marko was busy imitating a fish out of water, while Katja was trying to catch flies.

Sabrina's face went from horror to anger to outrage. "The people, and I use that term very loosely, that did this thing are all dead are they not? I would leave my universe forever, just to be able to terminate their existence." Sabrina had literally growled as she said this. Fluffy got up, from where she was sitting by Tommy, looked Sabrina in the eyes and purred.

Juan gave one of his trademark feral grins, including letting his eyes flash yellow. "Oh yeah… we made sure they'll never live to regret their past mistakes…"

Marko had looked at Juan as he began speaking. "Little one, I believe we are blood brothers. My tribal name is Little Eagle. I see you have some of the same attributes. When we are done, I think I have a weapon that might interest you."

"Marko…" Katja began.

"Juan has the eyes of an eagle. We are brothers."

Juan just grinned, "It better make a big boom."

Marko grinned even more, "It makes hardly any noise, but it leaves nothing but dust behind."

Juan looked speculatively. "Hmm, I might have to give that a try." And the rest of the UNIT groaned when he said that.

"Ladies and Gentlemen. We are approaching our destination. Would you all take your seats and secure yourselves for landing, please." The pilot announced.

As everyone walked down the ramp of the transport, there were several people standing off to the side of the large cavern they found themselves in. These people were wearing traditional white lab smocks over white pullover shirts and dark colored slacks. Close by them was what appeared to be a multi-car tram vehicle, such as you would expect to find at any number of large amusement parks.

The cavern itself was carved out of granite, if "carved" was the correct word. The walls appeared to have been sheared by a precision knife that left the underlying granite almost mirror smooth. The main area the UNIT members found themselves in was like the hangar back at the old base in Utah. Something on the order of five hundred feet in diameter and easily fifty feet in height. There were support columns every fifty to sixty feet. The supports were only a foot in diameter, and looked to be made of some sort of black plastic.

Directly above the transport was a perfectly round tunnel that stretched to what was probably the surface, but it was hard to tell, as it was unlit and simply faded into the blackness as you looked up.

Lighting was bright with a slight blueish tint, perhaps some sort of bioluminescence. There were large oval patches of these light emitting arrays, spaced throughout the hangar structure, even on the supports themselves.

At the end of the hangar area, there were several tunnels that branched off in many directions, much like spokes radiating from the hub of a wheel. Both sides of the tunnel walls were lined with what could only be described as light tubes, running the length of the tunnels, as far as one could see.

"Folks, if you would follow me, we need to get you all to the med bays and outfitted with your nutrient packs." Sabrina said as she began walking over to the tram. "The faster we get this done, the better off everyone will be. We simply don't know how soon the aging process will begin to manifest itself."

It was in silence that they all rode the tram for the next ten minutes, as it wound its way through various tunnels. They came to a stop at the start of another large area that was only slightly smaller in size than the hangar, but was filled with people. Here, the lighting was distinctly different. It was brighter and seemed to be closer to natural sunlight than what they had seen so far. There were benches grouped in some areas that were arranged in semicircles and seemed to be like small amphitheaters. Here, the benches sank into the floor of the cave with what appeared to be small stages in the center. Other areas held couches grouped in what could only be casual seating, as if it were a family room.

As the UNIT people could see, there were at least two areas with tables and chairs arranged in what could only be cafeteria style seating. This idea was reinforced by observing many people conversing while they were eating meals.

Another thing that was unique to this whole area was the number of plants, small individual plants to shrubs and actual trees, that decorated, and even helped to separate, many of the groupings. In all, it gave you the feeling of actually being outside in a much larger area.

There had to have been at least a thousand people, coming and going, throughout the entire cavern. While there were various styles of dress, the most common form was that of a single one piece jumpsuit.

Sabrina continued to lead them, walking along the outer wall of the cavern. "As you can see, this is our commons. There are many forms of recreation here. Many of them within the shops you see lining the walls of the commons. Others, like the theaters, the dining areas, the meeting spaces are all out here." Sabrina was pointing to the places as she talked. "Most of the connecting tunnels go to our homes and work spaces. The motorized trams are not allowed in here, except in cases of emergencies of course."

"The lighting in here is different than what was in the tunnels. Is that change so that the flora can grow and live in here?" asked Logan.

"Partially, yes." Katja explained. "In the tunnels we use genetically enhanced bioluminescence. A very small electrical charge acts as the catalyst that naturally occurring enzymes would have provided. The electrical energy is also crucial to the luminosity of the chemical reaction." Katja turned down a tunnel that was marked with a large caduceus. "The problem, however, is one of human chemistry. We cannot exist as healthy creatures without normal sunlight. Certain wavelengths of light are necessary for normal chemical reactions in our bodies... like the manufacture of vitamin D and the uptake of calcium. For that, we require a broad array of visible and invisible light. This is true for plants themselves. The visible part can be induced by bioluminescence. It is the more energetic frequencies, like ultraviolet and even infra-red, that cannot be reproduced by biology, where we solved the problem with mechanical technology..."

Katja interrupted herself, "Ah. Here we are. These are our med bays. What you might call the Doctor's Office." As she opened a door, once again the lighting changed from the cold bluish light of the tunnels, to the more natural lighting they noticed in the commons. "As you can see, our workspaces, like the commons, are outfitted in mechanical lights. Our home spaces have the 'good' light also.

"Now, I'll leave you all with Sabrina and her fellow medtechs. They will get you all outfitted with your nutrient packs and Sabrina will show you to our hospital. It would be best if you stay there, while you go through this change. That way, the medtechs will always be around should you need them."

As everyone followed Sabrina through the door, they could see a Scireian standing off to the side with two kids, Hac and Barrett.

Adam was the first to notice them and say anything. "So, you made it here. Still wanting to go back?"

Barrett stepped forward to give Adam a hug. "Yeah, we got here about an hour ago. Having seen this place, it's reminded us so much of home… yeah, we're ready. The people here have even given us a communicator to get in touch with our own people when we get to our universe."

"Would you take these and send them to our friends back home?" Logan asked, as he handed some disks to Barrett.

"Sure Logan. Once we are with our people, I'll make sure they get to where they belong." For the next few minutes, Barrett found himself saying goodbye to all his friends from the UNIT. Hac, being Hac, said a few farewells, but mostly remained in the background watching over Barrett.

Finally, Jens cleared his throat, "I think it's time to leave guys. The longer you wait, the harder it will be." Both Hac and Barrett nodded their understanding. They waved at the UNIT and left with Jens.

After Jens left with the two kids that were going back to their home universe, Sabrina looked at everyone else. It was obvious that while there was some sadness at the immediate loss of their friends, there was also an attitude of determination. They had made up their minds and were steeling themselves for what was to come. If only it could be made easier for them, she thought to herself.

"All right then. Let's get this done. Logan, I understand that there are two others, like yourself, that are not genetically enhanced?" She asked.

"Yes. There is Billy, over there with Will, and Runt, he's over there with Khan, the big guy."

Sabrina put her fingers to her mouth and let out a loud and shrill whistle as she walked over to an area that was set up for her. This got everyone's attention. "People, we need to get this done. Since we don't know when this temporal effect is going to start, the sooner we get everyone prepared, the better off you will be. Billy, Runt, would you two come over here with Logan and myself?"

Sabrina waited to see that they were walking towards her. "I would like everyone else to form two lines in front of the medtechs you see. They will get you tested and processed."

As Billy and Runt joined Logan and Sabrina, Logan asked, "Why are we separated from everyone else?"

"It's really simple, Logan. You three do not have the enhancements of the rest of your group. As I said earlier, this will be harder on you than the others. So I thought that since I know you better than the other medtechs, I might be a bit better at helping you cope with what you will all experience." Sabrina stated.

"So, you care about us?"

"Yes Logan, I do. Does that surprise you?"

"So much for clinical detachment…"

"Not really. A patient who knows their doctor cares is a patient that generally does better. It's a human nature/nurture sort of thing. Something the Outside used to know, but has gotten away from, in the name of expediency." Sabrina then pointed to a small platform. "Logan, would you please step onto the scanner?" Logan stepped up and onto the platform. Sabrina took a larger tablet off of the table and began touching it several times, as it filled with data from the sensors. "OK. That is good. You may step down and wait here with me. Billy, you're next."

The process was repeated and then it was Runt's turn. When they had all been scanned, Sabrina picked up three small devices and placed one on the left temple of each of her charges. "This is the link to our medical A.I.'s. They will be able to monitor what is happening to your bodies and adjust the flow of nutrients. Based upon your physiology, that we just scanned, your individual backpacks are being made and will be ready in just a few moments. As we attach them to you, you will feel some small amount of pain, as the sensors coordinate where to place the injectors.

"I hope you don't normally sleep on your backs. That's the one position that will be really uncomfortable for you. Of course, after the temporal change starts, you won't be doing much in the way of sleeping. The physical regimine that you will need precludes sleep, except for very brief intervals.

"The other thing that is different about your packs is that they will have more pain meds than what will be needed for the rest of the UNIT. We already know that the others can handle much more pain than you guys can. Hence the need for more pain meds." At about this time, a slot opened up in the wall. Inside were three backpacks that were about the size of a day pack one might have used for school.

Sabrina went to the unit and motioned to Logan. As soon as Sabrina had finished adjusting the pack, Logan felt several sharp stabs. "Oww!" He yelped. "I thought you said this wouldn't hurt much!"

"I said there would be a small amount of pain. Not that it wouldn't hurt!"

Both Billy and Runt laughed at Logan, until it was their turn. Both of them yelped as much or maybe more than Logan when the packs were placed on them.

That's when they noticed that almost everyone else in the room was feeling the same things they were. The redeeming feature was that other than the initial pain, it quickly went away and the only thing that was felt was the extra weight of the backpack.

When everyone had been scanned and fitted, Sabrina walked over to the entryway to the room. "If you would follow me, I will show you where you are going to stay for the next couple of days." She walked through the door, took a turn to the right which led a bit deeper into the tunnel and opened a door on the opposite side. "There are beds here and some lockers where you can store your belongings. I would suggest you all get situated.

"Then if you would all follow me, we are going back to the commons room. I would like all of you to have a meal and then we will come back here for what may your last real sleep before things turn ugly."

Janet, who had remained in the background, found a bed and simply left her duffle there. She walked over to Sabrina. "Sabrina, I have been scanning the kids with my tricorder, as you were getting them ready. There are already indications that their metabolisms are speeding up."

"Yes Doctor. Our scans showed the same thing. This is actually starting faster than we had thought it might. The good thing is that we got them all prepared with the nutrient packs," Sabrina looked at her tablet before continuing, "which are now beginning to inject the proper nutrients into their bodies." Seeing that everyone was ready, Sabrina led the way back to the commons, as she and Janet talked.

"If that is the case, then what good will getting a meal do them?"

"A couple of reasons, Doctor..."

"Please Sabrina, call me Janet."

"Janet then." Sabrina smiled and nodded. "It has now been several hours since we met everyone back in Bermuda. I don't know if anyone had bothered to get lunch, before we took off. Knowing young folk, they will be hungry. So having a meal now is a comfort measure. As is having them come back to the hospital for a sleep, as brief as it may turn out to be."

"With the new data you have received on my kids, do you have any better idea of how much they will age or even how fast the process will be?"

"The medical A.I.'s are now saying that the indicators are that the kids will age less than ten years, but more than the lower limit of three years. As the hours progress, the data itself will narrow down that factor. As to how fast? We know that the quantum convergence will be complete in…" Sabrina again looked at her tablet, "about forty-five hours. We are working under the assumption that the temporal process will converge at the same time, as it is part of the overall quantum action."

They were now at the dining area and Sabrina had stopped near the food tables. "Everyone? Please take a plate and help yourselves to whatever you would like from the buffet tables. If there are any foods here that you don't recognize, ask the servers and they can tell you what it is."

Turning back to Janet and the adult male that was with her, Sabrina indicated that they should also eat.

"Sabrina, this is Joe Casey. He is Adam's biological father, long story, and commander of the UNIT's Base."

"I'm sure that we will all get to know each other better over the next couple of days. I will say that I have also run scans on the both of you and know that you are both the product of selective breeding. Much of my curiosity is drawn to why Adam was selected for genetic modification and not Logan, as he seems to be as much or more a candidate than Adam was.

"But that is something we can get into at another time… if you care to share."

"Sabi!" Tommy had walked up to the adults, followed by Fluffy of course.

"Well hi! Tommy. What may I do to help you?" Sabrina said, as she turned and knelt down to be at his eye level.

"Fluffy says she is getting hungry, and there doesn't seem to be anything here that she would eat." Tommy complained.

"Hmm, I think I can fix that." Sabrina stood up and walked over to the serving line, with Tommy and Fluffy following her. She touched a device on her belt, 'What do you think, Fluffy? A ten pound roast?' Sabrina thought and pictured what she thought it would look like.

Fluffy began salivating, 'That is good Sabi!'

Sabrina touched the device again and went over to one of the waiting servers and talked quietly to him. Then she went back to the table that Janet and Joe were at. The server, who appeared to be about fourteen years old, turned and went through a door into what could only be the kitchen.

As Sabrina sat down, the server she had talked to came out of the kitchen with a large tray. He walked over to where the large cat was and very carefully placed the tray on the floor next to the panther. He slowly stood up and did a double take. A smile crossed his face, as it appeared that Fluffy had thanked him. His brows wrinkled for just a moment. Fluffy then grabbed the hunk of meat, tore off a chunk and chewed it briefly before swallowing. She looked back to the server, who got a big smile on his face, turned and walked away. Tommy turned in his seat to look at the adults, "Sabi! Fluffy likes it here!" He almost shouted in glee.

Janet had watched the exchange and now was intrigued by what she saw. "Sabrina, why wasn't the young man scared? Surely you have never seen a panther as large as Fluffy before. More importantly, are all of your people telepathic?"

"Janet, all of our people are telepathic, to some extent or another. As for why he wasn't scared? Your coming here has been all over our newsvids. That and everyone knows that no dangerous animals would have been allowed this deep into the citadel. When talk of what he just did gets around, he is going to be the envy of his entire cohort. He not only got to serve the newcomers, but talked to an intelligent 'animal'. I just hope it doesn't go to his head!" Sabrina was laughing by this time. Her laughter was infectious, as both Janet and Joe began laughing with her.

After the meal was over, Sabrina had taken the kids back to the hospital and urged them all to sleep, even if only for a bit. As it turned out, everyone did sleep. But it was only for about an hour and a half, when they all began waking up.

There was some good natured complaining about being stiff and achy. Sabrina was monitoring their metabolism and had taken the time to instruct Janet on how to control and read the tablets they were using to monitor the changes while everyone had been asleep.

"My God, Sabrina!" Janet exclaimed. "If these weren't my own kids going through this, I would be jumping with joy at the data that is being presented. This is a researcher's dream come true. Overall, their metabolism has increased over ten-fold. They are burning calories at an incredible rate."

"Yes, this is happening even faster than we thought. If you look here," Sabrina touched a new menu which promptly displayed new data, "you can actually see them beginning to grow."

At that point, several medtechs came into the bay, each of them carrying replacement nutrient bottles for the almost depleted bottles in the backpacks. They quickly made their rounds and, within a couple of minutes, everyone had fresh packs.

Sabrina let loose with another loud whistle. "Everyone, the easy part is over. I'm sure you all feel stiff and sore. These are some of the first signs that the temporal aging is taking effect. From now on, you will need to constantly exercise all of your muscle groups as they grow, else you will be useless in a very short time." Sabrina led them to the exercise machines that had been set up at the back of the large dormitory style room.

For close to the next twenty hours the kids, along with individual instructors, performed a training regimen that would have exhausted any normal person, long before this point in time. It was also at that point that enough data had been collected that Sabrina and her colleagues could say at what point they would stop aging. There was also a steady supply of people coming in and replacing the nutrient bottles about every fifteen minutes.

The complaints about being stiff and sore all over had been replaced by cries of pain. Real pain, as their bodies had begun to literally grow before the eyes of their caretakers. Twice in those hours, they were forced to change their clothing for larger sizes.

The only person who wasn't feeling as much of the effects as the rest of the UNIT, was Khan. As expected, his body was already close to what he would become as an adult. The only thing different about him was that it became very obvious that he was growing a new arm. Growing right out of what had been a stump was a complete arm and hand. Granted it was small, in comparison to the rest of his body, but it was there and growing, nonetheless.

Sabrina looked up from her tablet, "Janet? The medical A.I.'s have calculated that the growth rate will taper off in another ten to fifteen hours. Your family will have aged five years by that time."

While there was real concern in her voice, Janet did not look like she was completely happy with the results. "Maybe it's just the stress of seeing my kids in pain that I can do nothing about, Sabrina, but I'm getting a really bad headache."

Before Sabrina could even react to Janet's words, there came an ear splitting scream. Sabrina quickly stood up to locate who was in such pain. She quickly located Logan as the source.

He had fallen off the treadmill he was running on, and was holding his head, as if it was on the verge of falling off. Just as Sabrina came running up to him, Logan let out another blood-curdling scream and passed out entirely.

It was as if all the other kids in the room were puppets, whose strings had just been cut, as each and every one of them collapsed and lost consciousness. Sabrina looked around, and it wasn't just the kids going through the temporal aging. Everyone seemed to be affected. Some more than others, but none losing consciousness like the UNIT kids.

About the same time, an alarm began ringing throughout the citadel.

A high pitched growl was then heard. Sabrina turned around, only to see Fluffy standing with her fur fluffed out in full attack mode. She bent her head and tried to nose Tommy awake. Sabrina toggled her suppressor field off and she heard, 'Tommy head hurt. You help Tommy, now!' Fluffy was now looking directly at Sabrina. Only the look was not at all friendly!

At that moment, the door flew open and another medtech came in and headed directly to Logan. "Sabrina! While monitoring Logan, the A.I.'s have discovered that a TIA has occurred!"

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