Castle Roland


by Darkstar


Chapter 5

Posted: N/A


Copyright © 2012 - 2015 by Darkstar and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

Tuesday November 6th 2115 (9:15 pm) Mountain Standard Time

Tuesday November 6th 2315 (11:15 pm) Eastern Standard Time

UNIT Base: Utah

Revolutions Logo"Good evening my fellow Americans," I started, as I looked into the camera. It was getting late, and it was well known that I had won the election, even though there were a lot of shady things coming to light right now, especially from the East Coast. Now, though, it was time to address the faithful people who had stood by me through it all; some of them at a great personal cost. It was time for me to say thank you, and to make sure they knew that what they had gone through was important.

"I sit before you all tonight, grateful for all the work and effort you have all put forth over the last year or more. I will never be able to thank all of you enough." I paused trying to get my emotions under control. It had been a rough couple of days, and my emotions were always right on the surface. "I know many of you are wondering how my family is doing. Linda is doing better, so is the baby. The doctors have said that while Linda may have some lasting effects from everything, the baby seems to be perfectly fine and healthy. Also, I would like to officially announce we have found out that we have another boy coming along. God help us."

I looked off to the side where Chris and Andy were standing, both of them wearing the new clothes that were bought at the stores earlier, however, Chris had his arm in a sling, and a large bandage covering his upper chest and shoulder. But, the boy was walking, and, at the moment, actually had a smile on his face.

"As far as my son, Chris, goes, well, why don't I let you see for yourself." I opened up my arms, and suddenly I had both of them almost sitting on my lap. "As you can all see, he's a little banged up, and the doctors have said he will be limited in his activities for a while, but he will be completely fine." I looked over at Chris and smiled. The little imp decided that he had to say something, though.

"Like my dad said, I'm gonna be fine. I… I really wanna thank everyone that sent me emails and stuff. We haven't been able to look at them, since we're trying not to be found, but… well, I know they're there, so thanks." With that said, my boys both slipped off my lap, and walked quickly away.

When I looked back to the camera, I knew there was a tear in the corner of my eye, but I didn't really care. "I think he said it best, and I want to echo that. Thanks."

I sighed, knowing the next part was going to be difficult. "However, there is still work to be done," I said, staring hard at the camera. "Tonight should be a night of celebration and lots of pats on the back, but, unfortunately, it can not be. It is customary for the defeated party to come out and concede the race, before the victor comes out to address the people. President Ashwood has made no such declaration, either publicly or privately. Instead, we have heard absolutely nothing from the White House, even though the polls have closed on the East Coast, and there is no question who has won the presidential race. President Ashwood, I am speaking directly to you. We both have a vested interest in a clean exchange of power, as is the way it should be. We know what you are planning, and I implore you, don't do it. Simply accept the defeat, as the American people have spoken. Do the right thing, the thing that is best for this country, and remember the oath you have taken when you accepted the Presidency of this great country. Please do not make this process any more difficult than it needs to be. We both love this great country, please, just accept the will of the people."

I paused and allowed myself to calm down before I spoke again. "That is not what this is about though. Tonight, I am here to thank each and every one of you for the tremendous job that you have done over the past year or more. This is the greatest country on the face of the planet, and you have all shown it, this night. All over this great land of ours, normal everyday people have gone out and exercised their most important responsibility. The responsibility of electing their representatives and leaders.

This country was started as the 'Grand Experiment', and today, every single person who voted, once again affirmed that the experiment not only worked, but is the single best form of governance that this world has to offer. Yes we have a lot of work to keep this country the greatest, but it is work that we all do happily. So, to you, my fellow Americans, I will ask that you not look at what has happened in the past, but stand with me as we look forward to what is to come."

I paused for a moment, before I began again, thinking that lines like that would make people want to applaud, and I did not want to take that away from them. As much as I hated to think about it, everyone needed a good night, a night to be happy, before facing what was almost certain to come in the very near future. "I will leave you all now to enjoy the fruits of the victory that you all helped to make a reality. Thank you, one and all. God Bless you, and God Bless America."

As soon as the red light turned off, I stood up and started to loosen my tie. "Thanks, Theodore," I said as the boy came out from behind the camera.

"No problem, Jack," he said as he walked up to me, and gave me a strong hug. Returning the hug, I couldn't help but smile at how physically affectionate this boy was. Then I remembered some of the things he had said about growing up in a lab, never really having a stable parental figure, other than doctors, and certainly didn't get hugs from them.

"So what's on my agenda, next?" I asked, only half joking. Yes, he was assigned as my intel advisor, but he also took on the roll of my personal assistant, and he was damned good at it.

"Well… I was thinking that maybe a strategy/meet and greet between our guys and the Russian leadership would be good. That way we can not only get to know them better, but also make sure we're all on the same page," he said as we started to walk out of the room.

"That'll work. Think we can set it up for… say… thirty minutes from now, that way I have time to swing by the med bay and see Linda?"

"Of course, you know how we work around here… unless there is actual fighting going on, everything can be put off when it comes to family," he said with a grin.

"Okay… just let me know when everyone is ready, and I'll meet you guys there," I said, as I turned and started to head towards the elevator.

"Very good, sir. I will see you then," he said before he went the other way.

Tuesday November 6th 2155 (9:55 pm) Mountain Standard Time

Tuesday November 6th 2355 (11:55 pm) Eastern Standard Time

UNIT Base: Utah

"So what do we do, now?" I asked as I looked around the room.

"Well, it's customary for the loser to make the first official statement after an election, conceding the race," Tom said as he sat down down next to me. While we were talking about important things, this was still very much an unofficial meeting. "So I say we let him make the first move."

"I really don't think he'll do that," Logan said as he, too, sat down. Adam slid into the seat next to him. Their parents, Janet and Joe, also sat down. "I really think he is going to keep people off balance by waiting. If he concedes the race, then he will lose the legitimacy of him trying to regain power. However, he doesn't have everything in place yet to take full control."

"How do you know this?" Dmitry asked from where he was seated next to his eldest son Sergei. I was doing what I always liked to do, and let my advisors talk things out, that way, I got the full story on things.

"It's simple…" Logan said with a smile. "He hasn't done anything, yet. If he were ready, and had everything in place, he would have moved already."

I watched as most of the people nodded in agreement; what the boy said, did make sense. If Ashwood were ready, he would have moved by now.

Before anyone else could say anything else, though, a loud alert tone could be heard coming from the large hand held radio that was sitting in front of Sergei. He immediately grabbed it up, while saying a broken 'sorry' to everyone in the room.

While Sergei was fiddling with the radio, Dmitry started talking in a quick hushed tone. "My son has been in contact with a boy in Texas. He and his friends were the ones that allowed us to get a lot of the information that is being spread out right now about Ashwood's dealings."

That made a lot of sense, and I could see everyone else nodding as Sergei started to talk. "Comrade Keith, do you need speak to Papa or can we… um… make talk small."

A boy's voice came across the radio. Surprisingly, we were all able to hear and understand what was being said. "Sorry, Sergei, no time for small talk now. I really need to speak to your Papa."

Immediately, Sergei handed the radio over to his father, who had a concerned look on his face. "Young Keith, your voice sounds troubled. What can I do for you?"

"How come you never spoke English to me before?" the boy's, Keith's, voice came through the radio.

"I will explain more later," Dmitry responded. "Is there a problem?"

"At the moment, more than I can count, but you said you could find us some help… Um, do you have a doctor somewhere around Breckenridge Texas who can help us without telling the government?"

"Are you hurt?" Dmitry demanded to know.

"Not me, but we have serious injuries and one of our chaperones is dead. Another will be, before daybreak, if we can't get a real doctor and some medicine."

"What in the hell happened?" I shouted while leaning forward.

When the boy started talking again, I could hear the fear in his voice. "Um… We had a shootout with federal agents… They killed a kid in cold blood… and we tracked them back to a… um… compound… They… well this cult-like group were kidnapping kids for some reason. We are still trying to figure out why, but it is all tied together with something called Operation Starshine."

"What do you guys know about Starshine?" I asked urgently, and saw everyone else lean forward in anticipation.

Dmitry pushed the 'talk button', and asked my question again. "Keith, I… We are with someone who badly needs to find out what you know about this… um… Starshine. While I figure out how to get you help, please tell us."

There were a few moments of silence before Keith came back over the radio. "I am handing the radio over to one of my new friends. Without him, the hack would not have happened and he is holding onto what information we have. His name is Ricky, and he is the best computer guy ever!"

"Understood, Keith." Dmitry managed a snicker. "Since Keith called you his friend, am I to gather you are about his age, Ricky?"

"Yes, sir," Ricky squeaked out. "Um, what do you… well I have a PDA… it only has some stuff on it…"

"Relax, young man," I said after making sure that Dmitry had pushed the talk button again. "Take a breath and tell us what you have."

"If this is who I think it is, my mom is going to be sooooo mad at me for helping him…" the boy said in a scared voice.

It was then that Alvin came running into the room. He took the radio from Dmitry, hooked it up to something, and then placed it in the middle of the table. He pressed a button before speaking quickly. "This will now pick up and transmit everything that is said in the room, while still allowing the other side to speak. Just remember everything you say from this moment forward is being transmitted."

When he saw everyone nod, he released the button and pointed towards me, letting me know I could speak again. "Son, I know you probably don't want to do something to upset your mother, but this is vitally important."

The boy's voice was clearly quivering, and squeaking as he talked. "Well, um… this is coming off a guy's PDA, but he has extensive instructions… they were relayed from something called Alpha Omega… maybe someone… anyway… um… he had orders to transfer the kids we took… um rescued… to a ship one of the other guys here knows about, but with help of the Coast Guard… Um…Is this really President Bryce?"

I could almost feel the fear rippling off this kid, and it was making me almost hurt to hear it. "Yes, son, it is. It's fine though, whatever you can do to help us is great." I made myself chuckle, as convincingly as possible. "I'll make you a deal, though. If you don't tell your mother you're talking to me, I won't tell her either. Sound good?"

"He can't hear a nod, Skynet," a deeper voice, but still a kid's voice came quietly over the radio. I, and several others, had to stifle a laugh imagining this kid nodded in response to my question.

"Oh, shoot… um, sorry… is it Mr. President or Sir?"

"Son, you can call me anything you want, including Jack. With what you boys have done for us, and what you have gone through, there is no need for formalities," I said, trying to say things as gently as I could.

"Well, uh… the ship they are taking the kids to is called the USS Franklin Buchanan… One of the guys here says his dad was taken off the ship and moved to a different one not long ago… if that matters… um… yeah…" I saw both Tom and Logan waving at me, so I nodded to them.

"Ricky, could you please hold on for a moment? I need to ask a few people here a question or four," I asked, not wanting those on the other end of the radio to hear what we may discuss.

Another voice spoke up almost immediately. "Sir, with all due respect, we will wait as long as you need, but there is a guy here who can't. Please, if there is any way to get us some help… I don't want to lose any more people, today!"

"I agree, young man, before I discuss anything else with my staff, I will figure out how to get you the help that you need. Okay?" I said gently, yet forcefully enough to make sure he knew I was serious.

"Mr. President," the voice said again. "As long as we know we are getting some help, we are all yours, and it sounds like you need it, since at least part of the DoD, HS, and NSA are not on your side at the moment." I felt my eyebrows raise. The tone he used made it clear he was used to talking with people in power.

"Stand by, please," I said, while motioning to Logan to put the call on hold. As soon as he pressed the button…

"Sir, it sounds like Ashwood is stacking certain ships. It's exactly what he's done to the Defense Area Commands (DACs) in the East," Tom said and I was already nodding.

"Sir, I just had Simon check. The Buchanan is currently on maneuvers in the Gulf of Mexico," Logan said, and I nodded again. I still wasn't sure what it meant, but whatever it was, it was not good. "Sir, may I speak to this boy?" he asked after a moment. I nodded, but when he went to release the button, I held up my hand. "But not until we figure out how we're gonna help them."

"Before we got the message from nephew Sammy, my plan was to send them some undercover troops to help them," Dmitry said in a considering tone. "I am not sure how, other than loading them back into the plane that brought us here."

Adam leaned forward and spoke then, "Am I correct in assuming you have pilots with you. Pilots that can fly a somewhat modified Huey?"

"Yes, I have several, although it really depends on what you mean by modified," Dmitry responded.

Adam looked over to me, and I heard him speak in my mind. 'Sir, I hate to put you on the spot, but how much can we trust this man, and his son.'

I almost responded when I remembered to just think my response. 'I would trust that man with my life, and have, several times. Dmitry once saved my life, and we have been as close as brothers since then. His son, I call nephew, and would trust as much as his father, they are good people.'

I saw him nod before he spoke again, "Well, we have a few Hueys here that have been specially modified by my guys. First off, they are faster, and can maintain that top speed almost indefinitely. They also do not need to be refueled, as they run on a micro fusion generator." Dmitry's eyes widened, and he was about to speak, but Adam beat him to the punch. "Please, sir, until we have time to tell you the full story, I would ask that you hold any questions." Dmitry nodded and Adam sighed before continuing again, "The weapons are pretty standard, however, the electronics on it are not. One of the main modifications is a stealth package that will not only make them invisible to any type of electronic surveillance, it will also render it invisible from even a satellite doing a visual scan. Finally there is a sound dampening field around it, making it so that you would not even know it was there, if it was right above you… well except for the wash."

Dmitry was looking hard at Adam, looking for deception, before he started to smile. "So that is how you avoided being detected when you rescued Jack and his family?"

"Yes, sir," Adam said with a sigh of relief. "It will not take long for my Air Wing Commander, Will, to explain to your pilots how to handle the modifications. If you would like to, we can load up two of them with your troops, do you have any doctors with you?"

"No we do not, they will be coming with the next group," Dmitry said while sadly shaking his head.

"I'll go," Janet said, speaking up for the first time. "It sounds like they have several injuries, as well as at least one critical. They need more than just a medic. Chang needs to stay here to look after the other patients, plus, let's face it, if something happens, he's more able to protect people than I am."

Adam nodded, and stayed quiet for a few moments while he thought. Finally he nodded even more vigorously before speaking, "Okay, but I am going to send Juan with you. He's the most highly trained, medically, other than Chang.. plus he can help to keep you safe if something happens."

"Okay, I can live with that," Janet said while standing up. "I'd better go get some things together. I should be ready to go in about 20 minutes, less if you have someone help me carry some stuff."

"Khan will meet you in the medical bay to help you with whatever you need," Adam said, and she was off. He then turned his attention back to Dmitry. "I would also suggest you have your troops figure out what else is needed. Tomorrow we can send WIll and Billy in the Chinook with more troops and more supplies, and then bring Juan and Mom back. Does that work for you?"

"Sounds very good," Dmitry said as he stood up. "Give me a brief moment while I get the orders out." He then moved to the door, opened it, and started speaking quietly to someone there. I looked back over to Logan and nodded.

He released the button and I started speaking again, "Okay, guys, here's what we've got," I started off, trying to speak on a level that will make them more comfortable. "We will have two helicopters leaving here shortly, and they will be there in…" I looked over at Adam who held up 3 fingers. "…In about three hours. There will be some Russian military troops there to help keep you guys safe, as well as a doctor and a medic to help take care of your injured. They will let us know what else you need, and then tomorrow, we'll send down whatever else you guys might need. How does that sound?"

"Sir, we will welcome them with open arms if you are saying they are friendly, but does this mean… are we really at a state of civil war?" the boy who last spoke, said in a voice that made me know he knew what was going on better than most.

I sat back heavily, trying to decide what to say. 'Well, Jack, they certainly deserve a real answer…' I said to myself trying to figure out how much to say. These kids deserved not to be bullshitted. "At the moment, no. But I don't think it's far off."

"Sir, if this is our fault…" The boy's voice broke, but before I could say anything, another voice came across the radio.

"No, Craig, we started a shit storm, but some of this looks like it was in the works for months, especially with your dad being moved off the Buchanan. This was going to happen no matter what. All you guys did is put a person into power, or at least helped to, who could do something about it. Now, Ricky needs to finish telling Mr. Bryce what else he found."

Instead of the voice I expected, another one came across the radio, "Mr. President, It looks like Skynet has told you most of it, but there is something really weird here. It is telling the agent we killed, and yeah, we killed him, to send resisters and major undesirables to Orlando, and to move them over to the custody of ATF agents that are taking part in a sub operation, it is called, Funland. No other information on it, but the ATF field office in Orlando has been put under Homeland for whatever this sub op is."

Logan held up a hand, and pointed to himself. I nodded to him and spoke into the radio, "Son, I am going to have someone else ask you a few things, if that is okay?"

"Mr. President, this is your ballgame, and we pretty much put ourselves on your team, so you get to call the shots." The boy made me wonder. It was obvious that he was used to dealing with very important people. There wasn't the waver in his voice that I usually heard from grown men. However, this wasn't the time to wonder about that. I pointed to Logan and nodded.

"My name is Logan Hayes. Is there any way you have to connect the PDA to something that has internet access?" Logan said in a very similar voice to the one the boy used. It made me realize that this boy, the one that was doing the majority of the talking was probably someone who was used to talking to, and dealing with high up political people.

"If you give me a place to send it, I can binary encrypt, condense, zip and send in the next thirty seconds. This way you can use the same encryption code we used to contact you with to decode," the voice from earlier, the one who originally had the PDA said.

"That should do," Logan said happily. "Go ahead and send it to logan at oraclenet dot com." He paused for a moment before he got an evil grin on his face. "I take it you're the one responsible for the little hack yesterday?"

"My home-built toys, but we were all part of it," the boy responded with a renewed ease, partially, I supposed, because he was doing something he loved, and partially because he was talking to a kid who clearly understood. "You should have the download in about 40 seconds, but beware, there is a virus hidden in the bits, so you will need to extract the data by taking out the thirty third to the fortieth bit out of each 128 bit string. It is real high level, so don't open it unless you can do it on the fly."

Most of us were lost, but Logan's face lit up like a Christmas tree. "Not bad… Don't worry, I won't have a problem with it. But, you just made my decision rather easy. When our guys get down there, I want you to find Juan. He will have a present for you. He will walk you through setting it up, just make sure you follow his directions exactly. The laptop I am sending down there will self destruct madly if someone tries to access it who isn't supposed to."

The boy actually giggled at this, "Oh, when can we sit down and talk, Logan? I bet we could be friends!"

I heard someone laugh from behind the speaking boy, then say, "I think we found a way to get Skynet to pull out of his shell!"

Logan also laughed. "Yes, I think we could be. Juan will explain how we can connect, and then I will show you a few things that will either make you fall over from a joygasm, or make your heart explode. One of the two."

"I'd prefer to find a way to make others explode so I wasn't such a wimp," the boy responded with a sigh.

Another boy spoke up quickly, "Man, what are you talking about? If it hadn't been for you putting a bullet in that moron's chest, I'd have a lot more than two missing teeth!"

Adam leaned forward this time. "Speaking of which, how are you guys sitting as far as weapons go?"

One of the other boys took over, "We have all sorts of captured weapons, but only a couple of high caliber ones. The chaperone who was killed had a .50 rifle, but it took a shot to the receiver and is out of commission. We are also low on .308 and twelve gauge rounds."

Then it was an adult's voice, "If you happen to have armor piercing 7.62 rounds, I wouldn't mind having another box of them, but the idea is to keep these kids out of combat. However something tells me it is going to be much easier said than done, so if you have any kid sized flack vests then bring 'em."

"I didn't bring them down here to get involved in a war!" another man shouted in horror.

"Too late, Mr. Triumph," the first boy responded grimly. "We already are."

"Sir, Mr. Triumph, I know how you feel," I started. "I wouldn't want kids to be involved in this, either. However, if what comes to pass is as bad as I fear, they, and kids much younger than they are, are going to be in the middle of it. At least you are giving them the chance to survive, or at least be better able to protect themselves. I will be instructing people to send down as many weapons and protective equipment as we can spare. I have a feeling it may be enough to help you guys out. I want you guys to stay as safe as you can, and when this is over, I want to visit every single one of you so that I can shake each and every one of your hands. Be prepared for a long drawn out time, but hopefully we will all be able to make it out of this," I said as emphatically as I could.

"Mr. Bryce, um President, sir… I hate to ask any kind of favor, but… well, if there is any way you can stop the helicopter from getting to the Buchanan… without like shooting it down… there is a friend of mine they took… I don't want him to have happen what we saw happen to the others we rescued, sir," the first boy said, on the verge of tears.

"Son, I cannot make any promises, but I will tell you this much. If it is possible, I will make it happen. Now, it sounds like you guys have had a long day, and we have a bunch of things to get ready here. However, I will make sure that Sergei has his radio with him at all times. If you guys need anything, and I do mean anything, you pick up the radio and ask. Okay?"

"We will take care of them, sir, and I bet you have better things to do than find some helicopter carrying a group of kids. If there is anything we can do for you, we are at your beck and call. Look forward to seeing you all shortly," the man's voice said.

"And I look forward to seeing all of you. President Bryce out," I said before I reached over and hit the 'end' button on the radio.

Wednesday November 7th 0900 (9:00) Mountain Standard Time

Wednesday November 7th 1100 (11:00) Eastern Standard Time

Unit Base: Utah

After everything that had happened over the last two days, I shouldn't have been surprised at how easily I fell asleep, and how long I did sleep. But, after waking in the morning, showering, and getting dressed, I made my way to the cafeteria to find some food. Glancing at the clock, I was somewhat surprised to see it was already nine in the morning.

When I walked in, I saw Theodore sitting there, watching me with a grin, and waving towards me. I walked closer, and said in passing, "Let me get some food and coffee, then I'll be back out."

"You got it, boss man," Theodore said as he took a sip of his own coffee.

When I got back to the table, I had a tray loaded down with a nice big breakfast. Linda would have frowned, but I loved my big breakfasts. Ham, eggs, bacon, pancakes, sausage, toast; slathered in butter, and of course… coffee. Theodore just smiled when I sat down. "Hungry?" he asked with a giggle.

"When I can… I like to eat a nice big breakfast," I said with a grin of my own.

"If you don't tell mom I'm drinking coffee, I won't tell Linda what you're eating for breakfast," the boy said in a conspiratorial tone.

"Deal," I said, chuckling as I dipped my toast in the eggs. We sat there in an easy silence, me eating my breakfast, him sipping his coffee. When I was almost done, I finally asked the questions that would bring us back to business, "So… when's the call?" Last night, before I went to bed, I asked Theodore to set up a large conference call for this morning.

Theodore put down his coffee cup looking over at me, then at his watch. "About 45 minutes. I set it up for 10am Mountain Time. It's a bit of a weird time for some of the people, but with everything that's going on, no one minded."

I nodded and worked on finishing my breakfast, all thoughts of anything else now gone from my mind. When I finished my breakfast, Theodore walked with me to dump my tray, and then we began to walk out of the cafeteria. When we went through the door, I started to turn right, to go to the elevators, but Theodore's voice stopped me, "Sir… There is something else you need to take care of before the call."

I stopped, turned around, and looked at Theodore with confusion. He simply giggled, turned and started walking down the hallway; in the opposite direction that I was going to go. 'I don't know if I'll ever get used to these kids.' I thought to myself with a grin, as I turned and followed the boy down the hallway. "So, are you gonna give me a hint as to where we're going?" I finally asked after a few twists and turns. We were in the residential areas now, from the looks of things.

Theodore threw a grin over his shoulder as he stopped in front of a door. "Nope.. cause we're here." He put his thumb onto the scanner, and a second later, the lock disengaged. Then he pushed the door open, and entered, beckoning me to follow him.

I followed him into the room and stopped dead in my tracks. In the middle of the 'pod' were six beds, all of them with people sleeping. "What the…" I said quietly then looked over at Theodore who was grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

"Well… when we chatted last night, about who you wanted in the conference call, you mentioned your old Sec Nav. Well, we did some checking, and found out that he was wanted by Asswood's goons. So last night we went, got him and his family, and brought them here for safety. Not to mention, he would probably be better off where you can talk to him any time you wanted."

I looked at the boy aghast. "You… you kidnapped them?" My voice was probably a little bit louder and harsher than I had intended.

The grin on the boy's face fell, and he suddenly looked very small and young. "Well… yeah.. I guess… kinda. But… "

"You can't just go around kidnapping people!" I exclaimed, not believing what I was hearing. "What makes you think you can just go around kidnapping people?!" I snapped. This was insane. "Don't you guys have any respect for laws and right and wrong?"

Theodore stood there, his mouth opening and closing, not knowing what to say. Finally, I could tell he was fighting back tears. He stuttered out an apology, and ran from the room. I was just about to go after him when I heard Trent speak up, "Jack?" I looked and the man was starting to sit up in his bed. "What's going on?"

Wednesday November 7th 1000 (10:00 am) Mountain Standard Time

Wednesday November 7th 1200 (12:00 pm) Eastern Standard Time

UNIT Base: Utah

I searched for Theodore as long as I dared, before I made my way to the command center. The conference call was at ten, and I knew I couldn't miss it, especially with all the work I'm sure Theodore had to do to set it up. Shortly after the boy ran out of the room, an older boy, who went by the name Runt, showed up, and took over helping my former Sec Nav, and his family get settled in. What they had been able to do was nothing short of amazing. Trent had everything he needed from his house, including everything from his secret safe, in the room ready for him to use.

I wasn't really surprised when Runt was very cold to me, but he was real friendly with everyone else, which was good, I guess. He even went so far as to make sure Trent's grandkids got a tour of the base, and the things they could do while there.

Now, though, Trent and I were on the way to the Command Center for the conference. I know I needed to be on the top of my game for this, but I just couldn't let go of the sight of the tears that had started to fall down Theodore's young face. I'm not even really sure why I snapped the way I did, but… well they just can't go around kidnapping people. It just isn't right.

When we walked into the Command Center, I immediately looked for Theodore. He wasn't in his normal chair, but one of his brothers was at their station. He looked up at me and glared for a brief moment before he said in a very clipped voice. "Mr. President, the other leaders are coming online, now. If you would like to retire to your office, I will transfer the call in there. Also, please be aware that we will be providing translator services as well. Captain Volkov will translate for the Russian contingent, since you are fluent in Russian, he will simply translate what you say to them. I will handle the French, while Simon translates for the Japanese. Would you prefer to have us verbalize what they say, or would you prefer us to put it into text for you to read while they are speaking?"

I tried not to let my disappointment show as I answered, "Text will be fine. Thank you." All I got was a single nod, then Alvin turned back to his station.

"Logan will be here in a moment to explain how the teleconference system in the office works," he said almost absentmindedly. I nodded even though he couldn't see it, turned, and went into the office, Trent right behind me.

I walked around the desk, sat down heavily and tried to put all of my other concerns to the side. Trent moved to stand behind the desk, and to my right side, all the while looking around the spacious and very high tech office room. "This is quite the setup they got here," he said before he turned his gaze to me. "I apologize if I am out of place, but there seems to be a lot of tension going on here."

I nodded in agreement. "I managed to piss Theodore off pretty badly, I guess."

"Theodore…" Trent said while thinking. "That was the boy that ran out of the room as I was waking up?" I nodded silently. "What happened?" he asked in a friendly tone. Trent was more than just my Sec Nav… he was a close friend. Right now, I could tell he wasn't asking as one of my cabinet members, but as a friend.

"I'm not really sure…" I replied honestly. "I mean he kidnapped you and your family…" I stopped when the doors opened. Adam walked in, and behind him was Logan, both in their full dress uniforms. Adam was stone faced, but Logan's face barely controlled anger. In his hand he had a folder. As he walked up to me, he spoke softly, "Alvin, please pull up the satellite pictures of the former Secretary of the Navy's house."

As soon as he was done speaking, he dropped the file on the desk, with it opened up. In it were pictures that made both Trent and my eyes go wide. "Oh hell…" I heard Trent say. The monitors across the room came to life, instead of a sat feed though, it was a news reporter's face filling the screen.

"Again, I'm standing outside of a home, just outside of Wichita Kansas. Preliminary reports are that a gas line ruptured inside the house causing it to explode. Fire Fighters are still trying to get near the house, but the chance of anyone surviving something like this is impossible. There's no word yet on how many people were in the house, but a fire department spokesman said it would probably be several hours before they will be able to get the fire knocked down, and search for remains…."

The monitors shut off and I just sat there staring. When I looked up at Trent, his face was white, and he was shaking. Adam quickly moved a chair over and placed it behind him. "Please, Mr. Kennedy. Sit." Trent did so, but was still sitting there in a trance. When I looked over at Logan he still had the look of rage on his face.

"Two days ago, Mr. Kennedy moved his only son Liam, Liam's wife, and their four children into his house, figuring that Wichita would be safer than Maryland. He had plenty of security at the house, including several dogs, trained to keep people out. Guess it wasn't enough." I looked down at the pictures again, the debris scattered over a huge area… the house, the one I had visited many times, and the one that he had built after he left Washington D.C., was nothing but toothpicks.

Logan's voice softened, but still held an edge to it. "Next time you say something, you better make sure you know all the facts. Theodore worships the ground you walk on… or at least he did. Your other self was very close to Theodore. I know you're not the same man, and so does Theodore. But it's hard for him, and then, to have you yell at him for saving the lives of someone you are close to…" He paused and I looked up and met his eyes. "I don't know how you are going to make it right, but you better." The 'or else' was not said, but it was there. I nodded and he stepped back.

Moving around to stand behind me, and next to Adam, Logan spoke up after giving me a few moments to compose myself. Personal problems needed to be put aside for now, and these boys knew how to do it. In a voice that was completely professional, Logan spoke again, "On the screen in front of you on the desk, will be where Alvin and Simon relay the text of what the French and Japanese contingent say. I trust your Russian is good enough that you will not need a translator to understand what is being said, correct?"

I took a deep breath, then spoke with a firm voice, "Yes, I will be able to understand the Russians."

"Good. There are twelve screens that will be active for this call. The top six will show you the participants from each country. The screens below will list their names, give a small bio of each, in case you don't know who they are, and it will also highlight the name of the person who is speaking. Starting from the left, will be Canada, Britain, Russia, France, Japan and finally Australia." He paused to make sure I understood, so when I nodded, he continued.

"Also know, everything that is said will be transcribed, and a complete, word for word accounting will be given to each person, within an hour of the end of the meeting. If there is something that you do not want to be a part of the official transcript of the meeting, then you need to say so before you say what it is you want to have off the record. Understand?"

These kids were getting to be more and more unbelievable by the minute. What they could do would take teams of staff to accomplish, and they are doing it with so few. "Let's do it," I said as I got my mind set with everything that needed to be done. Taking a quick look at the clock, I realized that we were only starting ten minutes late, which for something like this was really good.

As people started to appear on the screen, I could tell they were still muted, by the icon on the screen, Logan started to inform me of everyone that was there, their title and why they were there. As soon as Logan finished introducing the last contingent, the Japanese, the door to the office opened, and Tom came rushing into the room, in his full uniform. I have no idea where he got it from, but it was complete. He moved behind me, and was off to my right. Trent was back to standing, and to my left. So now it was me, sitting behind the large desk, Tom to my right, with Logan standing next to him, then Trent to my left, with Adam standing next to him. Both Adam and Logan were out of the picture, since we had agreed not to let them be known about yet. The red light above the screens went green and all the mute icons disappeared, that was my cue to go, and I did.

"Thank you all for agreeing to meet, now. I know for some of you it's either very late at night, or very early in the morning, so again, thank you for meeting with me on such short notice," I said in way of greeting.

"It's good to see that you are still alive," Queen Regent Margaret Windsor said, the relief evident on her face. Her son, the King, was only fourteen, so until he reached the age of ascension, she acted in his stead. "When we got word of the attack on your plane, we were so worried that you were killed. How are your son, wife, and unborn child?"

"I have been assured that they will all make a full recovery. Linda is awake and is resting, my eldest is supposed to be resting, but you know how kids are," I said with a genuine smile on my face. Queen Regent Margaret was more than just a political ally, she was also a personal friend. I had been there for the birth of the now King, and then the funeral of her husband, the former king. I hadn't been there for political reasons, but as a friend.

"I am relieved to hear that," she said, then leaned forward and the smile vanished from her face. "I am sure that I know this answer, but it is a question that must be asked. We all know that President Ashwood will not back down, as has been evidenced by the fact that everyone knows he lost the election, and lost by a significant margin, but he still has not conceded the race, not to mention the fact that he tried to assassinate you and your entire family. So, my question to you, Mr. President Elect… Just how far are you willing to go to claim your victory?" Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Logan tense for a brief moment, then quietly left the room. I couldn't worry about him, though, I had something weighing heavily on my mind.

I sat there for a few moments, deciding how I was going to respond to that. I knew this question was coming, but this would be the first time I really had to say it out loud. "If it were only me, I wouldn't push it. However, with everything that we have learned, and what President Ashwood will enact, if I back down… I can only do one thing. I have to fight."

"You do realize that many, many Americans will die, if this is pushed into a civil war, correct?" The French President said seriously.

I nodded, and I knew they could easily see the pain on my face that, just the thought of a civil war was causing me. "I am afraid that if I do nothing, there will be a lot more people who are killed, or perhaps even worse."

He watched as everyone on the call nodded in agreement, finally it was The Queen Regent who spoke, again for them all, "Now, tell us what we can do to help. The five of us have been in almost constant communication since your plane went down, and the computer attack opened up all the information about what President Ashwood has really been doing. I have been elected to be the spokesperson…" She paused until she could see the nods from everyone else, agreeing with what she had just said. "We are all pledging as much support as you need, both militarily and supply wise. Great Britain has already dispatched two of our carrier groups towards you, one will be there in two days, and is heading towards the Saint Lawrence Bay. At this time, their orders are to shut it down, and provide defense for our Canadian allies, as well as help you out when and if needed."

The Canadian Prime Minister spoke up at that point, "I have already sent orders to disconnect our power grid from that of the United States. That is one of the biggest worries we have here as far as unintended consequences go. I have also reassigned as much of our military as possible, to our southern bases, in case they are needed.

I have also informed the other leaders here that any travel restrictions have been lifted, and they may bring in as many troops as they see fit. I am not foolish enough to believe that a civil war in the United States won't spill over into Canada. Already we have had military flights land at some of our bases, loaded down with troops and equipment. More are scheduled to arrive over the next week." The Canadian Prime Minister leaned forward to help make his point. "Jack, please understand we are ready to stand with you. The troubles in the US will spill over to the rest of the world, making all of our lives more difficult. It is in all of our best interests to see this war be over as quick as possible."

The Russian President spoke up briefly next, "Unfortunately, we have learned that there are many other nations that are supporting Ashwood the same way. Only they would like to see the US be removed form its position on the world stage. We all believe that the US civil war will turn into a proxy war for the entire world. We will do everything we can to make sure this doesn't boil over into a World War, but also know, we will not back down in our support of you and the American People."

"We have also done what we can, and have plans in place to do more to help stabilize the world's financial markets. Unfortunately, there is little we can do with the US markets," the Australian Leader said seriously. "However, we have all set aside a large amount of gold and other currency to help back you and your administration. This way, you will have some leverage as far as monetary policy goes, since everything you do will be backed by other nations. I have also agreed to allow, for a temporary period of time, the Australian dollar to be used in the US if you so choose. We will back every transaction of our currency."

"Thank you all, very much," I said to which they nodded. Over the next twenty minutes, each of the countries' leaders told us what they had done to prepare to aid the United States. The thing that caught my attention, though, was when someone handed the Queen Regent a note. When she read it, it was obvious something was wrong. She was too good to give any real outward sign, but I saw her hands tighten. They tightened to the point that her knuckles went white. For others that might not have meant much, but for her, it was a dead giveaway… something was drastically wrong.

It was almost an hour and a half later when the meeting ended. I was mentally exhausted, but also relieved that I had this much back up and support from my international friends. All through the latter part, though, Margaret was distracted. We were about to disconnect when a message appeared on the screen in front of me. Margaret wanted to talk privately.

Once the other world leaders said their farewells, and it was just Margaret and I, she sighed loudly, and slumped. I was immediately concerned, because I have only one time before seen her with tears in her eyes. "Margaret! What's wrong?" I leaned forward, intent on trying to help her however I could.

She took a few moments to compose herself before she finally looked up, meeting my eyes through the monitor. "Jack… I just got word. My son, the King is missing."

Wednesday November 7th 1345 (1:45 pm) Mountain Standard Time

Wednesday November 7th 1545 (3:45 pm) Eastern Standard Time

UNIT Base: Utah

For the last two hours, ever since the teleconference, Tom, Trent and I have been discussing, and making arrangements for those that we felt we needed here. Finally we had a list of people, and they were all making arrangements to get to Hill Air Force Base, in Ogden Utah. They didn't know where they would be going from there, but they all knew they wouldn't be staying at Hill. We also made some contacts in the DAC's that I knew were friendly to tell them to start moving people around, and get families to safety.. at least relative safety.

"Okay, I've held my questions long enough," Trent said with a fading smile. I knew this was coming, so I put my papers down, and gave him my full attention. "So… who are these kids, and what the hell are you doing with them?"

I couldn't help but smile at the look on his face. "Well first off, you have to understand. It's been made very clear that these kids do not, and will not answer to me. The best I can say is that we're allies right now."

"But… who are they?"

"They call themselves the UNIT. From what I have been told, and I really do believe it, they come from a different Earth, a place where they created… engineered, super soldiers. That's what these kids are."

Trent was silent for several moments before he spoke, "Part of my brain is screaming that this must be some sort of joke or something, but damnit… it makes as much sense as anything else I came up with."

"Trust me, I know the feeling," Tom said speaking up for the first time. "When I first met one of them, Logan, he met me and Dickie at the Mall in Salt Lake. By the time we got to the helicopter, I was starting to believe him, but to see him get behind the controls in it, and actually fly that thing here, made me believe. That and he had some other very compelling evidence that I can't get into. But I'll say this much. These boys have proven themselves very capable, and frankly, I'm glad they're on our side."

I could only nod my thanks for that as I watched Trent digest what Tom had just said. Finally my long time friend looked up and nodded. "Okay, but I gotta wonder. Why are they doing all of this. I mean if I were them, I would have buried my head in the sand and concentrated on finding a way home."

I couldn't help but grin. "You know, I asked the same question, almost the same way. Instead of giving you the answer I got…" I stood up from the desk, causing Trent and Tom to jump to their feet. "Why don't we ask them." I moved over to the door, turned, only to see them still standing there. "Well… come on!" I said with a laugh.

When we walked out into the main command center, I was brought up short. The entire room was full of kids. Almost every work station had a kid working at it, and every single one of them turned to look at us when we walked out. Adam quickly walked over to us, grinning. "Well… we told you about the others of us here. I guess they didn't want to wait for this weekend before they joined up."

I was about to answer, when I saw the two robed figures that flanked Adam. There was no mistaking that they were body guards, and damn intimidating ones at that. They were both about seven feet tall, and had huge shoulders. The robes did not allow for any features to be visible, but I could only assume they were probably armed to the teeth. Involuntarily, I took a step back, and I know Tom and Trent did as well. Adam sighed and turned his head to look at the larger one. "Legion.. back off a bit please."

"Yes sir," the figure said in a voice that rumbled like thunder. He wasn't happy about it, but both robed figures backed up a bit, and Adam sighed, then smiled at me. "Sorry about that, but when they learned that Khan wasn't here, Legion and Caesar took it upon themselves to act as my personal guard." It was clear that Adam didn't like it, but just as I learned to deal with it, so had he, apparently.

"I guess so…" I said still looking around. After getting over the two huge guys, I started to really notice everyone else in the room. There was every type of kid here, younger, older, black, white, hispanic, even a Native American boy, who was fully decked out in loin cloth and beads. I still couldn't get over the fact that the oldest child in the room looked to be a boy about fifteen.

"So what can I do for you Mr. President?" Adam said with a small smile.

I had to shake my head to get my mind back to why we came out here. I glanced over at Tom and Trent, and saw they were both in the same state that I was, but were recovering quickly. I turned back to Adam and smiled. "Well Trent asked a question, that I think really needs to be answered by you."

"Okay…" Adam said as he turned and looked at Trent. He was still smiling, but Trent seemed a bit overwhelmed. "Don't worry sir… I don't bite. Unless you ask me to." That got a laugh out of several people, and did the job of setting Trent a bit more at ease. I saw him stand up a bit straighter, and get a look on his face that I knew well. I was happy to see it too, since it was the one that he used when he was speaking to high ranking military members.

"General, the question that I had, really comes down to this. Why are you guys fighting? I heard from Jack how you got here, and that you're still trying to figure out how to get back, so I am wondering, why are you getting as involved as you are? When I asked Jack, I commented that had I been in your position, I would have kept hidden and done my best to stay out of things till I could get back."

Adam nodded in understanding, then took a few moments to word his response, "It's simple sir. It is just what we do. Doesn't matter where we are or anything else. This is just what we are. I know what you are thinking, and yeah this is a bit out of the ordinary, but then so are we."

He started to pace, and I saw that now, everyone in the room was focused on him. "So yeah. We could have done that. For a short time we were even thinking about doing just that. But had we done so, each and every one of us would have forsaken the oath we swore when we became members of the Unit, and members of Clan Short. We all swore, that no matter where we were, no matter what was going on, if we saw something wrong, someone getting hurt, something happening, that should not be happening; if we saw any of this, then we would do what we could to step in and help." He fell silent again, but continued pacing.

One of the kids in the room spoke up softly, "You may as well ask us why we breathe. It really is that ingrained in us, it's what we are, who we are, and what we have trained for. It IS who we are."

After a few moments of silence, Adam spoke again, his voice was soft, but it carried around the entire room. "It's the difference between those that say they want to help, and those of us that do help. In the world we come from, there is something called the Safe Haven Act. It was the power behind the Clan when it first started. It spelled out human rights, what was acceptable, and what was not. Several of the large countries adopted it, and so did several of the states, although at the time we left, the U.S. government as a whole had not accepted it, but it was soon to be. We were the military arm of the Clan, providing for their security as well as helping to enforce the Safe Haven act, and rescuing the people that were being abused in one way or another. We all swore an oath to uphold the Safe Haven Act, and to fight against the evils of humanity where ever we found them. Just because we are on a different Earth does not negate the Oath we swore."

I was mulling over the words he said when I heard another voice speak up, "Sir, if I may?" It was a younger boy's voice, and when I looked I saw a boy, about thirteen, with light brown hair, and green eyes. He was wearing the normal fatigues which, like everyone else, on one shoulder he had the patch of what looked like a Phoenix, and on the other, the UNIT patch that I've come to be very familiar with. He wore the bars of a Second Lieutenant, and also like everyone else there, had a side arm on his hip. Next to him was a girl who was obviously his sister, perhaps even his twin.

"Go ahead Lieutenant," Adam said then backed up. The two kids walked up and stood in front of us. "Sirs, my name is Trevor Hughes, and this is my twin sister Courtney. I am the XO of Strike Team 73, also known as the Firebirds. My sister here is the Commander of the same strike team. When we were both ten, we were kidnapped out of our home, our parents killed. We spent the next two and a half years being sold to the highest bidder, many of whom thought it would be a lot of fun to see twins having sex with each other, before they got involved themselves. We would still be there probably if someone hadn't looked into the police report of our parents' death, and then started to track down the videos that were being distributed. It was Theodore who was trolling the internet, and came across a video of us. He then used his computer skills to figure out first, who we were, and then, eventually he was able to find where we were at."

I couldn't help it, I felt tears starting to well up as he spoke. He controlled his voice well, but the pain was still there. "When we got rescued, we were brought back to this base. Well this base in the other world. The very first thing they did for us, was to make sure we were in relatively good health. Then they gave us rooms, of course, we only wanted one room, and no one even said a word about it. They offered us counseling, which we didn't want to take, but Theodore convinced us to go at least once. You know what we found? We didn't find someone who wanted to pity us, or someone who wanted to break us apart, or even tell us that we were just victims who needed to get over it. No, we didn't hear any of that bullshit. What we found was a man that accepted us for who we were, allowed us to tell him what we wanted to talk about, and never once did he judge us. After a few weeks there, Theodore told us that Dr. Phil had said we were good to go. He felt that we were handling things well, and that if we didn't want to, we didn't have to go back. We decided we wanted to, and saw him once a week until we got here, about a month and a half ago."

Seamlessly picking up for her brother, Courtney continued, "But Theodore also told us that, if we wanted to, we could join the Unit, and take up arms to go rescue people like us. We talked it over, and decided that we wanted that. We had no family left, and honestly, we didn't want to go back to a society that wouldn't accept us, and would want to change us. In case you didn't get the subtle hints, my brother and I are also lovers, and we plan on keeping it that way." She waited, I am sure, for some type of reaction from us. I'm not sure who it came form, but she got the reaction she was looking for from one of us, maybe all of us. She sighed and spoke, "Please don't. The one thing adults universally have in common is they think they know better then kids do. I'm sure in many cases, they are right, but not with the UNIT. The Adults have a place here, and they know what that place is. They can advise us, they can offer suggestions, but bluntly, we are in charge of ourselves, and that includes who we sleep with. And don't worry about kids… the first bastard that raped me, made sure I could never have kids… not without Mama Janet having to do a lot of work to make it happen. We've discussed it, and frankly, she's busy dealing with other things. Maybe when I get older, and things calm down, we'll look at it, but, for now, we're happy the way things are." She smiled at the three of us, "Now, back to the training."

"We threw ourselves into the training, and at first things were going really well. Too well actually. About a year into our training, Theodore came to us, and sat us down. He told us that we were doing really well, but we were forgetting something that was just as, if not more important than learning to fight. We were forgetting how to be kids. We were losing the connection to those that we were going to be fighting for. He actually ordered us to take some time and have fun." Many of the kids laughed and nodded their heads.

"You know the biggest thing we learned during our 'training'?" I shook my head no, so she continued, "We learned the reasons that we fight. Yes, there is honor and dedication to the Unit. Yes we have loyalty to our superior officers, and we will follow orders when given, just like any other good soldier. But the reason we fight is not held in this base." She stepped back, and Trevor stepped forward, picking right up where she left off.

"It's none of those things, it's people, simply, people. Those people who need someone to stand for them, people that don't have the power to fight off the others who would use them like we were. As Chang once said, 'I fight not because of what I see in front of me, but for what I am shielding behind me.' That is why we fight, and why we couldn't just hide and hope to go home. If we didn't, I for one wouldn't be able to go home with my head held high."

He paused for a second, then spoke again, "To clarify something my sister said, because I know by the looks on your faces it didn't sit well with you. Every kid in the UNIT had to grow up or die, we didn't have a choice. Hell, if your history is like ours, it wasn't that long ago that a 13 year old would be considered an adult, or damn near it. We don't shun adults, because we know they have something we lack, experience. But frankly, you guys will have to get used to dealing with us in a different fashion than you are used to dealing with other kids. We're not just tiny adults because we say we are. We're adults because we earned it. And for you to try and tell us different is a disrespect that we will not tolerate."

"When we first got here," Legion said as he pulled back his cloak. I heard both Tom and Trent gasp behind me, and I know I did to. Even having seen Khan before, seeing someone almost as big as he is, still shocked me. "When we first got here, I did some research, and came across a person that I can respect. I do not know if he was in our world, or here, but he said something that speaks to me more than almost anything I had heard before.

'Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.'

I was stunned. I had heard that quote many times, but it never really meant more to me then right now. From behind me I heard Trent say in almost a whisper.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

"Ahh, so I see you have heard of this man, this Martin Luther King. I would like to learn more about him when the time presents itself," Legion said with a satisfied smile.

"Does that answer your question Mr. Kennedy?" Adam asked, and Trent could only nod. "Good. Any time you have a question, feel free to speak to anyone you want. However, right now we are dealing with an issue that has started to present itself in Breckenridge, Texas. You may wish to stick around and see how we operate."

That was the cue that everyone needed to get back to work. I was interested in what was going on, but when Adam came over to us, he didn't talk about what was going on. "Something else you need to be made aware of sir," he started, and then motioned for us to step off to the side a bit. When we were out of everyone else's way Adam started talking again. "I am not sure if you are aware yet, but Andy Rose arrived about an hour and a half ago."

"Andy's here? Already? Where is he?" I asked surprised that he was here.

"He's currently being shown around the base, by one of my guys," Adam said slowly. I knew something was up, but I wasn't ready for the explanation. "Jeremy Rose."

"Oh shit…" Tom said breathlessly. "Jeremy died almost two years ago, in a store robbery. Andy's never been the same."

Adam was only nodding, till Tom was done. "In our world, it was Andy that died in the store robbery. When I realized what was going on, I immediately pulled Jeremy from active duty till he and his boyfriend Tyler had a chance to talk to Andy."

I could only nod, this was way too much, I couldn't imagine what Andy must be going through. Adam nodded his understanding, then led us back to where the 'Big Chair' was. Every command center had one terminal that was called the 'Big Chair.' That's where the commander sat during an operation. Adam settled in, and motioned for us to take stations next to him. Almost immediately, each of us had a kid showing us how to use the terminals we were sitting in front of. They even went so far as to stay right by our sides until we were comfortable enough to use them without help.

For almost the next hour, we watched as things started to heat up in Breckenridge. I knew something was up immediately. Nothing seemed to make sense, between what we were seeing, and what information was being provided, things definitely made no sense. I had to force myself to stay quiet, except for asking questions about how to pull up certain information. I listened to how Adam was operating things, and really couldn't find a flaw with what he was doing. A few times he did things that made no sense, at first, but then it all made perfect sense. Adam was simply thinking three or four steps ahead of me on things.

"That's way too much air power for a peaceful mission," Tom said as he leaned over towards me, and I couldn't help but agree. Something really stunk, and I had no idea what.

"Juan's reporting contact!" one of the kids said loudly.

Adam jumped to his feet. "Get me a visual!" he ordered, and almost immediately a section of the main bank of monitors showed several different views.

The girl that had been helping me leaned down and spoke just loud enough for me to hear, "All of our combat suits come fully equipped with both visual and audio transmitters." That explained why what I was seeing seemed to be coming from someone's shoulder.

"Two school buses, overfull with elementary school kids, being chased by Government issued SUV's," Alvin said in a clear firm voice. "Juan's team is moving into position to intercept the aggressors." The door opened up and Theodore came running into the room. He didn't acknowledge me, or anyone else, simply slip into his station, put a set of headphones on, and got to work.

Another screen popped up with a map of the immediate area, with little flags of who was where. They seemed to be spread out in a way to try and take out the SUV's, so now it was just a wait and see mission.

We didn't have to wait long though. "They're trying to stop the buses," Alvin said as we watched one of them run up along side of the lead bus, and get in front of it. Before anything else could happen, Alvin cried out, "SHOTS FIRED!"

The bus veered hard and flipped onto its side. I gasped as I saw the other bus try to avoid the first one, but it also flipped on its side as it hit the first one.

Adam's hand slammed down on a button next to him, and he spoke loudly, "Any available pilot and flight crew report to the hanger deck. Spin up the last Huey, and wait for mission orders. All available medical personal report to the hanger deck and wait for mission orders."

I watched in horror as the federal agents started firing on the school buses, that was until Juan's team started to open up on them. I watched the monitor that had Juan's name under it, and saw him sprinting, impossibly fast towards the first bus, he made it up onto the first bus, with only a little snag, and dropped down in between the feds and the kids, just as one of the feds opened up with a sub machine gun. It was like I was watching a movie. Juan's hand shot out in front of him, and the bullets stopped, falling to the ground. The next several moments were a blur as Juan fought hard to save the lives of the kids behind him, kids that we could hear screaming and crying for help.

Then the picture bucked hard, and almost everyone in the room let out a strangled gasp. "Juan's hit!" someone shouted.

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