Castle Roland


by Al Norris

In Progress

Chapter 8

Posted: 14 Jan 16


Copyright © 2016 by Al Norris and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

Scireians LogoAdam awoke with a groan. For a brief moment, it was hard to remember anything, as he lay on his side. Slowly opening his eyes, he saw that he was lying on the floor next to what appeared to be a treadmill. He tried to sit up and look around, when he was struck with a horrible throbbing pain in his head. It was then Adam noticed that every muscle in his body was also in pain.

Adam was only slightly aware that someone was talking to him, telling him he had to get up and start moving. There were other voices now, saying much the same thing to several other people, but it was almost impossible to concentrate on anything else. The physical pain he was starting to get a handle on, but the mental pain, the horrible headache, was almost too much for him.

There was a moment of Deja Vu, as Adam's memories started to resurface, and he realized that this was almost the same as when they had first came to this universe. The LINK! It was shattered again, just like when they had first arrived here… 'Logan?' he called mentally.

Adam abruptly shot to his feet and would have fallen back down if not for the person next to him steadying him. 'LOGAN!' Adam looked around to locate him. Over there! There was Mom and Dad huddled around another body on the floor. That lady, Sabrina - yeah, that was her name, was on her knee obviously taking readings using some kind of medical scanner. Try as he might, Adam couldn't mentally feel Logan. "LOGANNN!" Adam screamed as he almost sank down to his knees. His sobs came unbidden and just as quickly turned into anguished cries for his loss. Adam was staggering as he began running over to where Logan was.

Before Sabrina could even react, there came an ear splitting scream. Sabrina quickly stood up to locate who was in such pain. She quickly saw that Logan was 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.

Almost at the same moment, Sabrina noticed that the rest of the UNIT kids dropped as if they were puppets whose strings had been cut. She also noticed that everyone else looked like they had been struck with simultaneous migraine headaches, as they all briefly clutched at their heads. Just then, the Citadel Medical Alarm went off.

It was obvious to Sabrina that whatever had happened, Logan was the cause and it was telepathic in nature. She heard a growl as she toggled her suppressor field off and caught Fluffy's telepathic message/warning.

As if things couldn't get any worse, a medtech came flying through the door, yelling about Logan, and him throwing a TIA. The medtech was going to come dangerously close to Fluffy, who was in an obvious attack posture. Luckily, Janet reached the feline first and began calming her down while taking readings on Tommy with her tricorder at the same time.

Within seconds, Tommy was awake and helping to comfort his protector. "You got this Tommy?" Janet asked. Tommy nodded and began moving toward the bunks at the front of the room. Janet nodded back, got up and nearly ran over to her son, Logan.

The Citadel alarms stopped and Sabrina said, without looking up at Janet, "Janet, it appears your headache was a precursor to Logan's psychic blast. It was so strong it seems to have affected everyone who was not using an active suppressor, like I was."

"How would you know that?"

"The alarm you just heard signified that the Citadel was under a psychic attack. At the time of Logan's second scream, everyone here that wasn't shielded appeared to have received the same sudden headache you just reported. Given that Logan is the most powerful telepath that I've ever heard of…"

"Yes. That would make sense." Janet nodded. "Especially as the headache went away when Logan collapsed. How is he?"

"Is… is he… is Logan OK?" Adam stuttered out as he staggered up to Janet and Sabrina.

Janet immediately took Adam into her arms. Sabrina's scanner chimed and she looked at it. "Logan has thrown a TIA and is currently unconscious. I need to get him into the infirmary to treat that, then we can better assess his condition."

Adam stood back from Janet. "The link has been shattered again. But it's not just that… I can't even feel him. It's like it he doesn't even exist!"

"Adam," Sabrina said, "It's most likely an effect of the TIA. The effects of that should only be temporary." A gurney was brought in and two medtechs lifted Logan onto it and pushed him toward the door. "In the meantime Adam, you need to get with your physical therapist and resume your exercises, or you are going to be useless, sooner rather than later." Sabrina stood up and whistled for attention. "Everyone back to your stations. We will let you all know about Logan as soon as we have some definite information. You are still going through your temporal changes and need to keep exercising your muscle groups, or they will begin to atrophy." With that, Sabrina followed the gurney and Logan to the infirmary.

15:30 hrs EST Monday 19 Nov
Scireians Citadel

Sabrina was sitting at a desk in the infirmary, going over the data that had been collected on Logan, since he had been admitted two hours ago. Even in those two hours, it was obvious that Logan was still aging and growing, even though he was in a comatose state.

This worried Sabrina. Though his muscle groups were being worked with passive therapy, they weren't actually working the way they needed to be. Without conscious exercise, those muscles working with and against each other were steadily losing their tone. The longer Logan remained in a coma, the longer his rehab was going to be when he reached convergence in this universe.

Sabrina looked up at the sound of the door opening, and saw a worried Janet. "We gave Logan a series of anticoagulants, because he lost consciousness. At the moment he is going through passive muscle manipulation. His brain activity shows that the TIA was located in the lower right frontal lobe that corresponds roughly to Broca's area in the left hemisphere. We call it the Wagner Structure, after the Scireian scientist who discovered it." Sabrina was watching Janet's body language, to determine how much she might need to tell Janet.

Janet's eyes narrowed. "Are you saying that Logan's telepathic abilities may have suffered?"

"Ah. So you are aware that this is the location of telepathic speech." This was a statement, rather than a question. "Yes. That is precisely what I am saying, with a very heavy emphasis on the may have. We won't know for sure, until Logan wakes and we can run him through some tests." Sabrina closed her notes. "As you know most people, who experience a TIA, do not have any lasting effects. It is generally self correcting."

"My main concern, at the moment, is this coma." Janet said. "Comas are not usual in patients experiencing transient ischemic attacks."

"Janet, Logan is not a normal patient. He is a highly skilled and powerful telepath. The temporary blockage of a small artery feeding the Wagner Structure is what we believe caused his link to sever. That shattering, we think, is what brought on the coma. When the natural pathway from this structure to the empathic structure in the right parietal lobe was disrupted, the link shattered. That trauma precipitated the physic outburst which caused the pathways from Wagners to temporarily shut down. The coma is the result of Logan's brain redeveloping those pathways."

Janet wrinkled her forehead. "Are you telling me that you have mapped out the psionic abilities and their centers within the brain? Even in our home universe, it was all still speculative."

"We haven't completely mapped it out. What Dr. Wagner discovered is that telepathy is more the nature of an intuitive or creative response than a logical response. Hence the discovery of a similar structure in the right hemisphere like the Broca structure on the left. That, and it is somehow related to the empathic centers, which are also on the right hemisphere." Sabrina shuffled through some data on her pad, then handed the device to Janet. "Here, you will see that while the cognitive functions are severely limited, there is much activity taking place between the Wagner area and the empathic area."

"Hmm, are these real-time scans?"

"There is a one millisecond delay, as the A.I.'s grab the data, but yes they are essentially real-time." Sabrina pulled some actual data sheets out of a folder and handed them to Janet. "Here's the data on the aging factors for all the patients. The last sheet pertains solely to Logan. I've separated him out, because of the coma he is in. I think it gives us a good baseline on what we should expect in the way of treatments after the aging process is complete."

Janet looked over the data and only showed concern when she got to the last sheet. Logan's data.

Marko stood up from his desk, when Jens Winkler and Karl Bernd walked into his office. "Thank you for coming to meet me, Jens, Karl."

"Does this have anything to do with the AoG discussion aboard the transport Marko?" Jens asked.

"Yes, Jens. It does." Marko motioned for his guests to take seats around the desk. "Karl, one of the things we learned bringing the UNIT here was that one of their members had the location of a Bio-Lab operated by the AoG."

"Oh that doesn't sound good at all." Karl said.

"I can see why you wanted Karl here, but why me, Marko?" Jens asked.

"Karl is here because of his medical background. His department is best suited to understand and deal with weaponized biologic agents. You, Jens, because I think your department can best infiltrate the AoG computers, without them being aware of what we are doing, and get Karl the data he needs to begin building counter agents for whatever the AoG is making." Marko paused before continuing, "And me, because I intend to neutralize the installation as soon as you guys are satisfied that you have all the data. Using the ionic disruptors, I don't think that any contagion will be spread. But that is a call the two of you can make." Marko punched in some coordinates and the big screen map came alive.

39.171830, -110.618967

"As you can see, the Bio-Lab is located in West Central Utah. The A.I.'s have given a 96% probability that this lab was built about seven years ago when the U.S. Military came in and reconstructed their communications network."

"Marko, we will need to establish microwave intercept lines east and west of the facility in order to establish computer control. Then we will need to completely survey the supposed structure..." Jens had begun ticking off points of investigation. For his part, Karl was inputting information onto his tablet.

"Good," Marko interrupted, "then the two of you get together and list what you will need to do and what you will need in equipment and manpower. When you are done, let's all go to Katja and get a council meeting going so we can get this all approved." Marko's face grew hard. "This weapons lab is virtually in our back yard, and I don't think we want it there."

Karl looked up, "If this is really a bio-weapons facility, I don't want it anywhere. Most particularly if it's really operated by the AoG."

"Marko, you know this is going to cause us to reveal ourselves fully to the U.S. Government, don't you?" Jens asked as he stood up. "If you thought I was howling before, wait until this information gets out to the general populace."

"Let's just keep this under wraps, for the time being." Karl suggested. "The fewer people that know what is going on, the better. We need to get our facts together before we go public."

"Keep in mind that the UNIT will destroy this facility, if we don't. Worst case scenario? They will use conventional explosives. That leaves the very real probability of containment failure. Best case? They will talk President Bryce into using a thermonuclear device. Total containment achieved at the cost of spreading tons of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and surrounding area."

21:45 hrs EST 19 Nov
Scireians Citadel

Sabrina was once again at her desk in the infirmary, reviewing the progress reports on the aging process and physical therapy of the UNIT.

"SABRINA, LOGAN HAYES IS RETURNING TO CONSCIOUSNESS." The A.I.'s mechanical voice informed her. "Computer. Please inform Janet Hayes." She got up and went through a side door into the room that held Logan. "Computer. Lights, fifty percent." The small room, which had been dimmed, rose in brightness, but not enough to be glaring to a patient just waking up.

Still laying on the bed, Logan had both hands rubbing his temples, "Oh God, it hurts!"

"Logan, try to lie still. I'm Sabrina, do you remember me?"

"Yes. Where am I? What happened? … The LINK! It's gone. I can't feel… anyone."

At that moment, Janet came running into the room, with Adam right behind her. "Logan!" cried Janet, at the same time that Adam almost shouted, "Are you alright, Logan?"

Adam, I can't make a link. Something is wrong with me. Logan sent to Adam. Adam stopped in his tracks, as Janet started her tricorder and began scanning Logan.

"Mom," Logan said, "this headache is worse than the one I had when we first got to this universe."

"Settle down Logan. Let's not jump to any conclusions." Janet didn't like what her tricorder was showing. "Sabrina? Do your scans show anything to account for Logan's inability to form his link? Mine are inconclusive."

"No." Sabrina then addressed Logan. "Can you pull anyone into that 'mental-scape' that you had me in, back at your mountain base?" Seeing Logan shake his head, she looked at Adam. "Adam? You? Didn't you have that ability also?"

Adam concentrated for a moment and looked even more concerned. "No Sabrina. I didn't even notice, but I've lost that ability, too."

"OK. I think I know what's happened, but I'm going to have to ask better qualified people than I am to offer a hypothesis as to what is going on. I'll be back in a few moments." Sabrina said, then turned and left the room. Adam walked over to be next to Janet and Logan, as soon as Sabrina was gone.

Janet looked at her two boys. "Can you two still 'talk' to each other?"

Both boys nodded, and Logan said, "Yes we can, but it's a bit harder than it should be." Moving his arms and legs, Logan added, "I feel so weak. How long have I been out?"

"A little over eight hours, honey." Janet said. "At the rate you were aging, I'd bet you have aged over a year, perhaps closer to two. Even with passive therapy, that's a long time to be bedridden."

"Mom?" Adam spoke up. "Can we give Logan a transfusion? That ought to help him out. You know everyone else would be more than willing to give blood."

"Yes Adam. I know that. But this is a case where your blood is not going to help at all."

"What do you mean?"

"Logan is not injured. His muscle tissue has atrophied, but it is not injured. Your blood can't help him gain strength or coordination. That will only come with exercise. His brain has already healed itself from the TIA. So your blood cannot help there either."

"But, Mom…"

"Adam, test your own telepathy. Is it as strong as it was before this aging started?"

Adam appeared to concentrate for a few moments. "Damn!" he said. "I can't even 'talk' to the people in Kettle Falls... what the hell is going on‽"

"I think I know, but let's wait for what Sabrina finds out, if anything." Janet sighed. "For now, I want you to get back to the dorm and continue with your physical therapy, Adam. Logan is OK and there's nothing more you can do to help here."

23:00 hrs EST 19 Nov
Scireians Citadel
Medical Dormitory

Sabrina was in the dorm with almost everyone surrounding her. Logan was in a wheelchair by her side. "Listen up, everyone. The aging process has, for all practical purposes, run it's course. You have all physically aged about five years. I know that the process we put you through was very painful, but it was needed. About all you need to do at this point is to get used to your new bodies. Your coordination will be off for a day or two, as you get used to the, um, 'new' you. So take it a bit easy. You will need to keep up with some physical exercises for the next few days. This will help to stabilize your reflexes and other motor responses as your brain adapts to your 'new' body.

Suddenly towards the rear of the dormitory, a shout was heard coming from the showers, "Yeah! I've Got Hair!" Everyone turned to see Juan strutting towards them as Jory quickly turned around and raced from the group… Janet and Joe immediately facepalmed, while the rest of the group began laughing.

Sabrina had tried her best not to laugh, but she failed miserably. Recovering, she addressed the group again. "I think I remember saying that you will all have to get used to your 'new' body..." which immediately caused more giggles. "So, for right now, I would like you all to file out to the rec area. When you get there, form up as a single unit in two ranks and take the righthand path and jog five times around the area. On the fifth time around, stop at the cafeteria and get some dinner.

"When you are done, come back here and your therapists will be taking your nutrient packs off." There was some cheering about this news. "You can then get some showers taken and have the rest of the night off."

There were more cheers as everyone formed up and marched out of the dormitory led by Adam with Tommy and Fluffy as the rear guard. Logan looked on, clearly not at all happy.

"Logan, let's see how far you can push yourself in that wheelchair. Head on over to the cafeteria. Your therapist will help you, if it becomes too difficult." Sabrina nodded to the lady assigned to Logan.

"You don't let up, do you Sabrina?" Joe asked.

"No. If I do, he will. He needs the physical therapy more than ever at this point. That eight hours he lay comatose has to be made up. The sooner he realizes that he is getting stronger, the more he may wish to push himself, instead of wallowing in pity about things that were lost."

"Speaking of which, have you heard back about the loss of mental powers?" Janet asked.

"Not yet. I suspect that everyone is pouring over the data to make some kind of sense to it, before they commit to a theory." Sabrina went out into the corridor and began moving toward the rec center.

As Janet and Joe followed, Joe asked, "So what is on the agenda for tomorrow, Sabrina?"

"Now that the aging process has completed, we are going to get Logan fitted with leg braces and hand crutches. The sooner we get him out of that wheelchair, the better he will feel about himself and will actually get committed to restoring his muscle tone. Other than that, we will get everyone back to where you need to be."

"I remember that your defense guy, Marko I believe, said he was going to be able to put some kind of force fields up around the Kettle Falls refugee camps?" Joe asked.

"Sentinels, General Casey."

"Just Joe, if you please."

"Joe, then." Sabrina nodded her head. "Yes, they should be ready for transport and implementation by the morning. At least, that was the schedule the last time I checked. Can I have Marko meet us at the cafeteria? That way you can ask him directly."

"Thank you, Sabrina. That would help us determine a couple of things."

Sabrina raised her arm and spoke into her communicator. "Marko, this is Sabi, if you are not too busy could you meet with us down at the main rec cafeteria?"

Although faint, Marko's answer could be heard. "Sure Sabi. I can be there in a minute."

Just as the adults got to the entrance of the rec area, the UNIT came jogging past them. Sabrina called out, "How many?" The entire group of now young adults yelled back as they passed, "Three Miles!" Sabrina smiled. "Two more laps!" She called out.

As they walked to the area setup as a cafeteria, Janet asked, "Sabrina, I have a young man at Kettle Falls who was in a bad car accident several years ago. Both of his femurs were crushed and he lost the use of his legs. Because of the damage to the nerves he is constantly in a great deal of pain. Ten days ago, I had Juan extract DNA and stem cells from this young man and I started the incubation and maturation process for growing new legs. The process should be just about complete. I was going to perform the necessary amputation and reattachment procedure in Kettle Falls. All I have to do is to go back to the UNIT cave and retrieve the new limbs. However I was wondering about your technology. Seeing that you are as advanced as you are, how long would it take you to grow replacements?"

"Well… if I had a tissue sample, for his genetics, and some stem cells from his bone marrow, I could force grow the pair in about two weeks. Do you have the necessary microsurgery equipment to accurately reconnect the nerves? We do. So the question becomes, would you do the attachment surgery or would you want us to do it with our medical devices?"

"Well, I have some of the necessary equipment, but not everything. So… we could combine our equipment and skills to work together as I'm sure we could learn from each other's techniques."

"Hmm, this young man, is he the one that has put together the refugee camp at Kettle Falls? We have been watching that endeavor with a great amount of interest."

"Carson Brown. Yes, that's him."

"Let me talk to my superiors. In the meantime, let's get some food and join Marko. I see him walking over now."

Joe Casey had already gotten himself a tray and some food and was just sitting down, when Marko walked up to his table. "Hi Marko. I'm Joe Casey. I'm the one that Sabrina called you down here to talk with." Joe held out his hand.

Marko shook hands with him and motioned for Joe to sit. "So what can I do for you, Mr. Casey, or is it General Casey?"

"No need to be all formal. 'Joe' will be fine." Joe sat back down. "First, I would like to thank you and your people for the hospitality shown to us and the help you have given to my boys." Joe paused a moment to eat a few bites. "From what I gather, you folks have pretty much hidden yourselves from the rest of the world. Now you are taking a real chance in revealing yourselves in what may not be the best of circumstances. Again, thank you for that."

"Your own people have presented us with some rather unique opportunities to explore our assumptions of our universe and expand upon our own knowledge.

"The timing of your arrival in this universe is a bit fortuitous, at the least. You see, I am the leader of one of the factions in our society that has been pushing to reveal our existence to the world. We would like to begin distributing the knowledge and technology we have learned and developed over the last several centuries to everyone." Marko and Joe both glanced up at the arrival of the UNIT to the cafeteria. "We have been watching the Army of God since they began, over a hundred years ago. Now, with the war that Ashwood has brought to the States, our people are of mixed minds on revealing our presence."

"That is what I wanted to talk to you about, Marko. I don't know how much you know about our 'kids', so I'm going to give you an abbreviated history. UNIT is sort of an acronym that stands for: Universal Next-generation Infiltration Team. These kids were created in a lab running what was called the Genesis Program. It was a black-op military program designed to create the perfect super soldier. Adam had hidden some of his abilities and found out he was to be terminated. He escaped. He then found out about his 'brothers' and engineered their escape. One thing led to another and they succeeded in destroying the people behind the genetic manipulations and all of their laboratories.

"Along the way, it was discovered that another group of people, a quasi religious organization, the FCC, short for Fundamentalist Church of Christ, was attempting to garner enough power to attempt world domination. I think you heard that our FCC was an Army of God wannabe. We now know that this AoG is starting to set up genetics labs to conduct much the same work that the US Military did in our universe. Now add to that, the knowledge of this Bio-Lab.

"To put it bluntly, there is no way any of us will be able to keep the UNIT from going after and destroying the AoG. Starting with that Bio-Lab."

Marko's face had remained passive as Joe was talking. "Joe, the best info we have is that they are still selectively breeding, for the most part. If they are actually using genetic manipulation, then it is not much and very, very limited."

"Marko, do you know about the raid we just pulled off in Orlando?"

"Yes. Bryce's forces under the leadership of a naval commander, one Admiral Norris if I recall, liberated a major Ashwood detention facility and in the course of that, established a foothold in Florida."

"Right. What you may not know is, in taking that detention center, Adam and his teams discovered a complete Genesis lab. Not a small start-up. A complete genetics experimentation laboratory. I can get you the documentation, if you want."

"Not that I don't believe you Joe, but if true it would be extremely helpful to our own medical people and my personal cause as well." Marko was now pondering what had just been revealed.

"I'll do that. In the meantime, I know that you are going to Kettle Falls to install some type of defense shields against anything else Ashwood might throw at them. What I'm asking is that you take us all there, instead of back to Bermuda. We are not going to stop the kids. So we might as well not hinder them."

Standing, Marko held out his hand, "Thank you for the confidence Joe. Let me talk to some other people and I'll have an answer for you tomorrow morning." Joe stood and shook hands with Marko, who then nodded to Sabrina and left the area.

As he was walking away, Marko talked into his communicator. "Jens? You still awake?"

"Yes Marko. What may I do for you at this hour?"

"Where can I meet you? I have some new information that concerns us."

08:00 EST Tuesday, 20 Nov
Scireians Citadel
Katja Werner's Office

"OK Marko. You've called this meeting. What's this all about?" Katja was seated at her desk and besides Marko, there were Jens Winkler, Peter Vogel and Karl Bernd.

Jens leaned forward, "Marko, let me start this off. Katja, we know that the AoG has some kind of Bio-Lab. We know the location and we suspect that there may be computer communication between it and some other AoG installations. As it stands, any Bio-Lab operated by the AoG poses a huge threat to the entire world. If they do use their computers to send or receive reports, I can intercept that communication and infiltrate their system. From there, we can and will get a complete analysis of what they have produced and what they may be working on. Karl?"

"Once Jens hands me the data, my department can manufacture the correct vaccines or counter agents to neutralize anything they have. More importantly, working with Jens' people, we can manufacture detection equipment, to be issued to the various forces fighting Ashwood. Armed with detectors and anti-agents, Bryce's forces won't get surprised should these agents already be in the hands of Ashwood's forces."

Marko nodded to Karl and began his part. "While I don't have the documents in hand, yet… it has been brought to my attention that in the recent raid, by Bryce's forces on the Orlando detention center, the UNIT found an operational genetics laboratory. This man, Joe Casey, has promised to get me the documentation for this. Even without that documentation, I believe him. So this puts us into an entirely new situation. If the AoG has set up one lab, who's to say they don't have others or can't get others started?"

Marko started to tick off his points."We have a dangerous Bio-Lab sitting virtually in our back yard. The AoG is far enough along into genetic manipulation that they are setting up experimentation labs. We know Ashwood is being controlled and directed by the AoG. This 'war' has gone on long enough that tens of millions of people are beginning to starve. And the newest reports are that much of the Army, that is backing Ashwood, are mercenaries brought up from South American countries, like Argentina, that have been and are Ashwood/AoG friendly.

"This is much larger than anything we have so far suspected. It is time for us to get involved while we still have the ability to affect an outcome. We…"

"Save it for your campaigning in front of the Council, Marko." Katja said, cutting him off. "Karl, Jens? I somehow suspect you have a materials and manpower list? If you don't, then I may lose some faith in Marko and his manipulative manner."

Karl chuckled while Jens blushed as they both handed Katja their projections of material and manpower. Marko just sat there with a rather smug look on his face.

It took a moment for Katja to study both sets of proposals, then she sat back and stared at Marko. "Well?"

"Well what, Katja?"

"Where are your proposals?" Katja intoned without a hint of emotion. "You have ten Sentinels to emplace around Kettle Falls. You will need to transport our guests to … Kettle Falls, if I don't miss my guess. You also will need to see to Jens' two teams out in the Utah desert. All of that needs to be completed today." Now Katja smiled, "Oh, and in ten minutes, you will need to convince the Council that these are all the right things to do."

Not to be outdone, Marko smiled right back as he looked at his watch. "The last of the light transports, with its Sentinel and emplacement crew, should have just launched. As you know, the Council has already approved this operation. I have another two light transports on standby to take their teams to Utah. Jens' teams are also on standby. The Cruiser is ready to depart whenever we can get the UNIT onboard. Every Councilman has already had my proposal placed on their personal datapads AND been notified that the data is there."

"My faith has been restored! Let's go tackle the Council." Katja stood up and ushered everyone out of her office.

10:30 EST Tuesday, 20 Nov
Scireians Citadel
Council Chambers

It had taken over an hour for all the reports and recommendations to be presented to the Council. There was some little debate before the vote was cast in favor of the proposals. Katja was happy that the Council had decided that the time was ripe to reveal themselves to the Bryce administration.

"Jens, how long until a second Cruiser can be built?"

"We started building right after the last Sentinel was constructed. I believe we will have two more Cruisers ready by Thursday morning. It will take at least three ships to destroy the Bio-Lab safely. I don't know that we will be ready to deploy them in that time, but I thought it prudent to be ready just in case we have retrieved all the data."

"Good. Marko, do you have enough pilots to crew the new ships?"

"Yes Katja. We will simply use the crews of the light transports and add a weapons officer to the mix. This will not be a problem."

"Sabrina will be returning with our guests to Kettle Falls. She will most likely have a list of materials to take with her. It seems that she and Janet Hayes are going to perform some microsurgery together to repair the damage to the boy, Carson Brown. In addition, three security guards and I will be going to open discussions with the Bryce administration."

"Along with me, Katja. I won't feel comfortable turning you loose on your own."

"Perhaps, but you will be busy shuttling people. I'll tell you about that later. In the meantime, Peter will be with me as an envoy. Assign one guard to him and the other two can go with me. Should we need an expert on defense mechanisms, then you will be called in your official capacity. Otherwise, you are in the background, is that understood?"

Sighing, Marko looked at her, "Yes Madame President."

"Damn straight, Marko. It comes with the territory."

Peter, who was standing a little off to the side, smirked while saying, "Ah yes! It is good to be King!" Marko shot him a finger and Katja just laughed.

This was going to be a very good first step in integrating with the world.

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