Castle Roland

Changing Connections

by Eric Aune

In Progress

Chapter 1

Posted: N/A

Changing Connections

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

All Rights Reserved

Authors Forward: I first want to thank all of you who have been reading my stories for the past few years. Thank you for all the emails you have sent to me, I have kept every one of them and I've done my best to answer all of them. For those of you who have read my story Disconnected on Saber Peak Ranch, Castle Roland and AC's Corner Café, thank you. I hope that you liked it. A couple of months ago, I was asked if I would be willing to bring the characters from Disconnected to the Revolutions Universe since their story was done. After thinking about it for a few days, I agreed and here is the result. So for those who liked that story and the characters, I hope that you like this story as well. You are also going to be introduced to some new characters that I hope you'll like. If you have not read Disconnected, it's not necessary for you to read it before reading Changing Connections, however, there may be some references to that story in this one. Anyway, once again thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the story.

Changing Connections LogoJamie found himself flying through the air and when he landed face first, it was harder than he expected it to be. He skipped along the surface for a few feet and the force caused his breath to be slammed out of him. He tried to catch his breath, but got a mouthful of water instead. His face was under for only a few moments before he lifted it up and turned around onto his back and started to cough up the little bit of water that he had swallowed. His vest allowed him to float there as he coughed and spit the water from his lungs. He heard the sound of the speedboat in the distance and another motorized craft was nearing him. He looked up and saw Eric coming up to him on a Sea Doo. There was a big grin on Eric's face as he brought the craft to a halt next to him.

"Are you alright Jamie?"

Jamie nodded.

"Boy, you should have seen it. You looked like Superman there for a few moments, flying through the air with your arms stretched out in front of you. What happened?"

Jamie finished spitting and coughing up lake water and wiping the snot from his nose. He glared at Eric who was still grinning at him.

"S'not funny. Water's not supposed to be that hard."

Eric gave a little laugh and Jamie scowled at him. Eric stopped but you could see he was trying hard not to keep laughing.

"I dipped the front tip of the ski into the boat's wake when I turned and it flipped me."

He started looking around and saw the speedboat was on its way back to where he was floating. Looking the other way he could see the single ski floating twenty or thirty feet behind him. Eric saw where he was looking.

"I'll go get it."

"Don't bother, I can get it."

Jamie looked around to make sure no one else was nearby and then he held his hand out to the ski and it began moving toward him on its own. Eric looked around as well from his higher perch above the lake's surface. When he looked back at Jamie, the ski was firmly in his hand.

"You gotta be careful Jamie."

"Don't worry. There's nobody nearby and it's faster. Gotta keep up the skills ya know."

Eric just shook his head and smiled.

"Yeah, I guess. Anyway, you want a lift?"

"Heck no, I wasn't finished with my turn."

Eric nodded and drove away just as the speedboat reached Jamie. His dad and Josh were standing on that side.

"You alright Jamie?"

"Yep. I'm ready to finish my turn."

Brett gave him a look and Jamie thought he'd stop him, but he just gave a resigned sigh and got back into the driver's seat. Josh went around and met Jamie at the back of the boat and handed him the tow rope. At Josh's signal Brett slowly drove forward until the rope was stretched out. Jamie got the ski back on and with the tow rope in hand got into position before waving to Josh. Josh waved back and then turned to Brett. Brett gave it some throttle and in moments Jamie was up and skimming along the water of Big Bear Lake. He had a big grin on his face as they went around the lake for the next several minutes. Brett turned the boat toward the north shore and just outside of Grout Bay in Fawnskin, Jamie let the tow rope go and slowly sank into the water. Josh was coiling up the rope as Brett drove slowly into the bay. Eric pulled up next to Jamie and helped him get up behind him on the Sea Doo. Jamie pulled the ski up and holding his ski behind him, they followed Brett into the bay and over to where the boat launch ramp was located. Brett stopped the speedboat just beyond the ramp while Eric guided the Sea Doo to the ramp. Once there, Jamie and Eric got off and while Jamie stayed in the water holding the Sea Doo near the base of the ramp, Eric took the ski and ran out to the truck and special built trailer that was parked nearby. He put the ski in the back of the truck and was soon backing the trailer down the ramp. Once it was in the water far enough, he got out of the truck and helped Jamie get the Sea Doo onto the trailer and strapped down. The trailer had been special ordered by Brett to hold two Sea Doos and the speedboat on it. The Sea Doos were loaded in the front of the trailer. Because of that, Eric had to back down the ramp until the trailer was nearly completely underwater. Once the Sea Doo was strapped down, Eric turned his attention to where the boat was waiting and waved to Brett. The boat started up again and slowly moved forward. While Brett drove the boat in, Eric pulled the truck forward a little bit, so that the trailer wouldn't be too deep below the boat as it was winched in. When they got close enough, Josh threw a line to Eric and Jamie, while Brett cut the engine. Eric and Jamie pulled the boat forward and got it close enough to the rear of the trailer. Eric handed the line to Jamie while he went to the winch at the front of the trailer and disengaged the steel cable and pulled it out until he could hook the cable to the boat's line and he headed back to the motorized winch to reengage the cable. He engaged the motor and slowly winched the boat forward. Jamie stayed in the water and subtlety used his gift to assist in getting the boat onto the trailer. Once it was in place on the trailer. Eric stopped the motor and got into the truck to pull the trailer up the ramp and onto dry land. Once he had pulled it out of the way of the ramp. Brett and Josh climbed out of the boat and all of them made sure the boat was secured to the trailer. Once the boat was well secured, they made sure they were dry before getting into the truck and heading back to the compound.

Jim waved to them as they neared the large garage. Eric stopped near the garage. They got out of the truck and unhooked the boat trailer. Once it was unhooked, they made sure the covers were on the Sea Doo and the boat and then they stood aside as Jamie moved the trailer into the garage. Once it was parked, the four of them headed to the main house to get cleaned up and changed.

There had been a few changes in their lives for the few months since Josh's rescue and the destruction of the GRA. As more information went out about this secret government program that was killing teens and younger kids as part of an experiment, there was an even greater uproar against the Obama Administration that it had endured so far. It didn't seem to matter that the program had predated him and had probably stretched back to the Clinton Administration, Obama was the President now, and since it came out now, it was his administration that was bearing the brunt of the problem.

Various pundits tried to blame it on Bush and others blamed it on Clinton and Obama. The true reason for the experiments never came out as Sean had been careful about the information that he had sent out. He had removed any information that the experimentation was an attempt to give telepathy and other possible mental abilities to kids. The information that he sent out, stated that it had to do with increasing intelligence and mental acuity so that they could make super spies out of children was in the information, but nothing about telepathy. This of course horrified the greater majority of people, at the thought that children would be used in such a manner. It didn't matter that they had been orphans or street kids, everyone focused on that fact that they had been kids. A couple of the news agencies were able to sneak some cameramen into the area to get some undercover pictures of the removal of the bodies from the hidden graveyard. Most of the pictures could not be shown on TV, but some were leaked to the internet and it was obvious by the small size of some of the remains, that children had indeed been killed by some secret government organization for the purposes of experimentation of some kind. No one cared what kind of experimentation, but the fact that it had happened was enough to anger a lot of people. President Obama's dismal approval rating dropped lower because of it.

President Obama had a meeting with both former Presidents to find out if they had indeed known about this organization, but both had been kept in the dark. The recovered information made it clear that the organization had been started during Clinton's presidency as the PRI, but was so deeply buried that it was only known to a few people and after Clinton had finished his final term, those that knew about the organization seemed to all have died within a few years after Clinton had left office. Inside the government at least some of those deaths were thought to have had something suspicious about them, so secret investigations were underway by the FBI. After they had met, the three presidents gave a news conference together to let the country know that they stood together to condemn such experimentation. Bush and Clinton both said they fully supported President Obama's investigation to find out if there was any trace of this organization left and to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, anyone that had taken part.

Much of the investigation was hampered by the fact that nearly every one of the computers at the lab site were gone and those that were there, including the servers, were either burned up or the data was destroyed by a virus that had reformatted the drives or had the hard disk removed and no information could be retrieved. There were only a few papers that had been found in the DC office and the lab facility, but they were of no real consequence. With most of the records being in the computers this made it difficult to know who was working for the organization. Sean did allow some records to be found with some of the names of the employees. He did everything that he could to erase any trace of Marty and Joe from the records and it appeared to have been fairly successful. They had kept in touch with Marty and to Joe through him and they seemed to be in the clear. Brett had also sent each of them a nice check to help them move on in their life and be successful.

As for the other GRA employees whose records that Sean had released, some apparently made it out of the country or were well into hiding, because so far they had not been found. Sean made sure the names of the team that went in and kidnapped Josh was on that list, along with every scientist that was involved. For those people he included everything he could find, so that they had little chance of getting away. With the four main leaders of the organization; Hank Archer, Marcus Kelly, Lloyd McCuen and Alistair Merrick being dead, they had only the other security and scientific members of the team to go after. Except for the guards at the DC facility, the other members of the onsite security team were not found, but the kidnappers names were still on the government's list of at large suspects. Nearly all of the scientists were found, very few got away. Some were caught as they tried to flee the country but most were found at their homes, and their homes were thoroughly searched for any evidence that would help bring more information about the organization to light.

Much of the information about the criminal charges that all of those that were arrested were charged with, was kept out of the news saying it was a matter of national security. Although for Sean it really wasn't that big of a deal to find out information as his continued working with the computers became easier and he became better at it and there were few places he couldn't hack into. The ones he did stay away from, were those where Sean detected that they had active computer security people who were on guard for anyone trying to get into their systems. He did find out that if convicted, most of the scientists were going to be spending a long time in federal prison at the least and the death penalty at the most. Sean kept an eye on what was going on, in case anything was found that pointed back to their family so that he could warn Brett. He had however done a superb job of hiding their tracks and nothing seemed to leading back to them.

The DC guards stuck to their fifth amendment rights and said that they were merely security for the offices. Their story was that the person's who attacked them, for no reason by the way, were wearing masks and took them by surprise. They continued to say that they knew nothing about any kids being taken and never saw a thing. They were just security guards for the office. Because of this, the charges against them were minor, compared to others in the organization. The secretary of the DC office was brought in and after questioning her, they could not prove that she had any direct knowledge of any of the activities and was released. Although she was released, she was barred from any government jobs for life.

While the government investigation was going on, things moved along with the help of the group from Montana and Los Angeles that was helping them to finalize the adoption of the six young boys. The boys had been kept up at the compound while this went on so there were no questions about the families suddenly acquiring new sons. As they slowly went through the process to quit their current jobs as they resumed the original identities, every weekend the families came up the mountain to spend time with the young boys. When they first arrived, the boys had been scared and confused. The family stayed together for a few days up at the compound and when they went back down the hill, the mothers took turns staying up there with the young boys, while the others went through the process of quitting or retiring from their jobs. The love and caring that the boys received from their new families helped them to get over the fear that they had felt from being torn from what they had been used to. They had been used to not receiving the love of family, but they got that in spades from their new families and that helped them become accustomed to their new families. Within a month, the families received letters asking them to report to the San Bernardino Courthouse for an adoption hearing. The hearing was held at the same time for all of the boys and was the last hearing of the day. The courtroom was cleared of everyone except, the clerk, the court reporter and the bailiff. When the hearing was ended with all the adoptions final, the judge asked them to come to his chambers, where he explained to them that he was a friend of Sean's and that let them know that the group that they had met during the take down of the GRA had come through for them and made the adoptions happen very quickly with their connections. The boys' last names reflected their new parent's real names, not the names that the families had hidden behind for the last nearly fourteen years.

There were now six new members of the extended family; Michael Mason, Dylan's little brother, Dale Peterson, Sean's little brother, Paul Merrill, Ethan's little brother, Damian Kelly, Ian's little brother, Braden Blackhawk, Dakota's little brother, and Christopher Badger, Logan's little brother. The older boys made sure to spend time with their little brothers and they became close. The younger boys enjoyed the attention that their older brothers gave them. The adults worked together to make sure the boys were healthy both physically and mentally. The boys were in good physical condition and it was evident that the boys were very intelligent and had been doing schoolwork above their grade level. However, there was no manifestation of any mental abilities. Since the older boys had not shown anything obvious until they were twelve to thirteen, it made sense that these boys may not show anything until then as well. The adults decided not to push until then, but to keep an eye on them and see what, if anything developed. They also asked the older boys to keep an eye on them as well.

As part of investigating where the boys were academically, they also asked questions about what they did other than schoolwork. It appeared that some of the things that they did, were things that the adults knew were used by those who investigated mental abilities like ESP, such as cards with symbols or numbers on them and the boys were asked to see if they could guess what was on the card that a scientist would hold up. From what they could find out, there was no apparent success other than lucky guesses at this time.

There were other changes besides adding new sons, with the families as well. Because of the money that Brett had given each family, they didn't need to go back to work right away. They gave their notices to their employers, except for Stephanie Badger who had a private psychology practice and the Blackhawks who owned their sports medicine clinic and rehab center and those that held teaching positions. Stephanie and the Blackhawks started looking into closing their practices and businesses down. Until they could completely reassume their real names, they kept their fake identities until they could use them safely. The teachers stayed until the end of the current semester. The rest gave their notices and quit their jobs. Many of the others began to reconnect with family members to let them know that they were alive. There were many shocked family members across the country, but the families were of course overjoyed to hear from their sons, daughter, brothers and sisters that they had thought were long dead. When they first reconnected with them, they needed to keep the fact that they were alive from most people and their families agreed to the request. As for many of the friends that they had back then, they figured that it might be too risky to reconnect with them, since they still needed to make sure the government wasn't made aware of these suddenly dead persons being alive once again, until they were no longer officially dead. Until then, there would be a lot of questions that would be difficult to answer.

Behind the scenes Brett, Sean and Mac were busy erasing evidence of their assumed identities and any proof that they had ever been alive. They also were replacing anything that the assumed identities had accomplished and attached that information to their real names. Those three worked many hours replacing the assumed names with the old names. The hardest systems to crack were the IRS and state tax agency servers. Sean took the lead in most of this work, as he was the one who was successful in cracking their security on the government sites and spent many evenings replacing SSNs and names in the tax records. He also was the one who was able to make the same changes in the Social Security system so that their original SSNs could be used, and the information that they were dead, was erased from the computer files.

Sean continued to work with his devices, which allowed him a stronger and closer connection with his computer. By this time, his PC was a small server with twenty terabytes of storage. As he worked with the devices, he began to come up with ideas on how to improve them. With Brett's backing, he ordered more of the devices, so that he could take them apart and he soon had custom devices that he built that increased his connection to the computer and allowed him to better connect to other systems and hack into them. As part of his gift he picked up coding quickly and it helped him write or rewrite the programs he needed, so that he could make the devices work better for him. This coding knowledge also helped him to write programs to make multiple record changes in the government computers, so he didn't need to make each change that he needed to do, one change at a time.

One of the things he did to the MYO devices was that he incorporated an internal switch that allowed him to, with one gesture switch to a new set of commands. For instance, normally he would wave his hand from right to left and that would turn a page on the screen. When he made the gesture to activate the switch, he was able to use the same waving of his hand gesture to do another activity. It was much like holding down the control key, alt key, function key, etc on a computer to cause a key on the computer to perform a different action. This increased the number of commands that he could do by four times. He had gotten to the point that he might sit in front of computer for a long time and almost never touch the keyboard. For the Emotiv headset he had reengineered it and added Google Glass and a powerful Bluetooth connection to the device and he had changed it so that he could use the Google Glass when he wasn't sitting in front of the computer and he could project what was on the Google Glass onto the computer screen what he was seeing on Google Glass so that others could see it. If he didn't want to use the Google Glass he could rotate it out of the way. Because of this, and his talent he was able to do multiple things or searches at once. He preferred looking at the computer than through the glass most of the time. When he was away from the computer however, he could keep a connection to the computer with the Google Glass. So if he was working on something on the computer but had to attend to something else, such as eating dinner with the family, or just spending time with them, he could keep an eye on what was going on with whatever computer work he was in the middle of. After reworking the device he had made it more responsive to his head movement and with the Google Glass he had eye movement as well. He and Brett tried to figure out if they could market any of his changes to make the devices better and figured that they might be able to work with Thalmic Labs on the MYO, but the Emotiv headset was more difficult in that it seemed that it was Sean that made the changes work. Brett was able to use the device, but he couldn't seem to be able to use many of the functions that Sean could. They concluded it was Sean's unique gift that allowed the other functions to work so well, not just the headset changes that Sean came up with.

In his hacking, Sean never did anything exactly illegal, meaning he didn't steal money or anything like that. Although hacking into systems was technically illegal, but he never stole anything. He did find some information about companies that he then used to increase his investment portfolio. He also continued on his own mission to harass the porn sites operators though. He was doing that for fun. They kept trying to hide their info and he kept doing what he could to shut them down and give their information to law enforcement agencies. Although he never stole money from legitimate businesses, he did siphon money from the porn sites and it all became part of his investment portfolio. He had made an alter ego, Sean Dak, an investment banker, who currently had almost a million dollars in his investment and savings account and of course he paid his taxes so as to keep the government from looking too deeply at him. This was something that he kept from everyone. Brett knew that he was still harassing the porn sites, but he didn't know about the money.

The other boys had continued with honing their gifts as well. Dylan and Ethan had little problem dealing with interference from hundreds of minds and emotions now. Being in the middle of a crowd didn't bother them anymore. They could wall the extraneous noise off and it no longer bothered them. Ethan's telepathy range had increased and when he needed to talk to any of the boys within few miles, he had little problem. Anyone outside of their circle was a bit more limited. His parents were the easiest for him to talk with telepathically, but with the other adults that he knew except for George, he usually had to be within a sight. George was different because he was Ethan's mentor, so he had a different connection with George and it allowed him to talk to him nearly as far as he could with the other boys.

Dylan's empathy and his ability to send feelings toward others had gotten stronger as well. At this point no one but Ethan could entirely block him out. The boys could tell when an emotion that they felt was not theirs, but most everyone else could not. There had been one incident at school where a bully was messing with one of the smaller seventh graders. Ethan heard him and called Dylan. When they found the guy, Dylan sent a strong feeling of fear at the bully and he felt that fear and ran off. They didn't see the bully for a couple of days. He stayed home for a couple of days feigning being sick, because the scared feeling had stuck with him. He eventually shook it off, but he left the smaller kid alone after that and for a few days, he kept an eye over his shoulder to make sure something or someone wasn't creeping up on him.

Ian continued working with Doc and he also spent time with the MD's in the group to get a better understanding of injuries, diseases and how they were treated. He even spent time with Dakota's parents at their rehab and fitness center helping with patients. He performed some healing of some of their young patients with sports injuries under the guise of helping one of the adults with their exercises to strengthen their injured body part. As he did this, he began to understand his gift much better. They concluded that his gift allowed him to help a body's natural healing ability go into overdrive or maybe hyperdrive to help heal the injury. One of the first times he was helping Wyatt, he put too much energy into his healing and the young girl, who had a torn meniscus in her knee from playing soccer, was able to walk without crutches when she left the center that day, just as if the injury hadn't occurred. While they were working on helping her move through the exercises, Wyatt noticed Ian turning a bit pale and sway a bit. He excused themselves for a few minutes and got Ian back to the office to get his wits back so he wouldn't pass out. He had him to lie down on the couch for a little while until he was feeling better. When Wyatt went back out to finish working with the girl, he found her sitting on the table moving her knee through its entire range of motion with a very happy, pain free smile on her face. He had a very difficult time explaining what he had done to "cure" her to her parents. He pushed it off that perhaps she had not been as badly injured as they thought and a little work loosened everything up. He and Ian talked about it afterwards and after that when Ian did help, he was more careful in how much energy he used and instead of healing the injury completely for the patients; he just gave them a nudge.

Whenever the families were together and one of the younger boys got a scrape, cut or scratch, they eventually figured out to go to Ian and he would fix them up. He never completely healed the injury, but he did make the pain go away while he bandaged and cleaned the injury. He did not let them see him healing the injury as he always covered the injuries with a bandage, whether it needed it or not and the bandage usually just covered the mostly healed injury. By the time the bandage was removed a day or two later, the injury was healed.

Logan continued to have little control over his precog ability. He could not bring it up whenever he wanted it to show him something, so they worked more on his object reading. One thing he did do was watch the TV shows on cable about psychics that helped the police find clues. He thought that might be something that he'd like to do when he grew up. He could use the object reading pretty easily now. It worked well whenever he found something that someone had dropped at school or the mall or even at home, he was always able to tell whose it was and he was able to get the item back to them.

Dakota continued to work with Gabe on weapon use and he was a deadly shot with any ranged weapon. The more that he used a weapon, the closer he came up to and maintained the level of ability that the owner had with the weapon even when he used a similar weapon. He also continued to work with George on his use of martial arts weapons and continued to improve. The katana was his best such weapon, but he and George had recently started working with nunchaku and tonfa. Recently Gabe had begun working with him on being able to use his ability to operate vehicles. He could drive fairly well but he did find that it was little harder to get the feel of the vehicle like he did when he held a gun. Gabe hoped to get him into a small plane soon and see how well he could fly it using his talent.

Jamie continued on building the strength and precision on his telekinesis. They had recently started working on his deflecting things coming toward him to make that more automatic, so that he could sense something coming toward him when he wasn't looking and deflect it to protect himself. So far he could unlock any mechanical lock by manipulating the tumblers. He could also move several tons of material at once. He worked at moving some of the large boulders that were around the compound, sometimes several at once. One time he lost control of one of them and it started rolling down a hill toward one of the outbuildings. He had to run after it and after it had knocked over a couple of smaller trees, it was slowed down enough that Jamie could catch it and hold it before it hit the building. Jamie was working on being able to do things without gesturing. He found it pretty difficult to do, but he kept trying. He still felt more comfortable and easier to gesture with his hands when he used his TK, but he was getting better at not doing it all the time, especially for smaller and lighter users, but for the bigger and heavier things he used his hands to mimicking picking up and moving the item.

Josh continued on working with Aldo to be able to increase the temperature of metals until they melted. At present they calculated that he could bring the temperature of any material up to somewhere in the neighborhood of two thousand degrees, which melted pretty much all of the soft metals and could set wood on fire. He could bring water to steam in seconds, but he did learn some caution with that as he changed the temperature drastically in a glass of water one time and it shattered, causing the shards to hit him, which required a call to Ian to heal him. He could of course make the harder metals hot, and when he could sustain the level of heat on the harder metals he could soften them enough to be bent, like a blacksmith, but that took a lot of effort for him and usually wore him out. He had to have a good view of the item to affect it, so mostly it was done within ten to twenty feet. When they were at the compound and needed a fire started, they usually asked Josh to start it for the practice it gave him.

One of the other things the reconnected families did was to make plans to visit later in the summer before the boys went back to school with their families that lived in other parts of the country. When they contacted their family members, at least for those whose family members were still living, they had used the story that they had been forced to live under assumed names under a government witness protection program and had finally been released from it so that they could resume their lives. Some of the families connected the GRA with this, since they remembered that Hank Archer and Marcus Kelly whose names had been all over the news in connection with the GRA, had also been in charge of Hunt Labs. When pressed, they told their families that they could not discuss it because it was a matter for national security and they would get into a huge amount of trouble if they talked about it. The questions stopped after that.

Because of the additions to the families and the fact that they had been spending a lot of time up at the compound, Brett had decided to make some changes up there as well. The main house had been expanded and enlarged by adding several bedrooms. Brett had offered bonuses to the construction company to finish as quickly as possible. He had also let go all the members of the compound security team except the seven who had worked with the boys. Since the GRA was no more, he was sure that they did not need as much security and the seven let him know that they wanted to continue working with boys, both in their mental and physical training. Those that were let go were given excellent references and large severance packages.

This week at the compound had been planned for some time and was going to be the first time that they had been able to gather all the families together up there since the renovations had been completed. They planned to stay up there long enough to celebrate the boys' fourteenth birthday. Brett, Jamie, Eric and Josh had come up a few days before the others, to make sure everything was ready for the others to come up and join them. The house had doubled in size, so that it now had twenty bedrooms and ten bathrooms. Some of the other rooms had been enlarged as well, such as the dining room and the kitchen. Many of the other rooms on the ground floor were already fairly large. They did add one other large room on the ground floor and it was a game room. They had built it mainly for the kids. Inside there were a couple of large flat screens with game consoles attached to them at either end. They could play games or watch TV or DVDs on them. The room could be divided by a partition so that it became two rooms in case the boys wanted to watch different movies or TV shows at the same time and didn't want to hear two different movies going at the same time. There was also a pool table, a dart board, a couple of other tables that could be used for board games or in the case of the younger boys, they could play with Legos as Brett made sure there were a lot of those and many times when the younger boys started building things, the older boys got pulled in and helped build things as well.

Inside the house, Jamie and Josh headed to their room and took their swimsuits off and then headed to the shower. They, along with all of the older boys were serious about water conservation and always shared showers. Many times the younger ones begged to take showers with their big brothers, so all the showers were big enough for up to four people. They made sure each of them were clean before going back to their room to put on clean clothes and joined their dads downstairs for dinner. The rest of the family would be up the next day. When it was just the four of them, whichever of the security team was there would join them in the main house for meals. Tonight Jim, Gabe, Patrick and Luke were there. The other team members were off duty, but would be returning the next day when the rest of the family joined them. They ended the day with the four of them watching a movie in the game room before going to bed.

The next morning looked to be another great day for everyone's arrival. Jamie and Josh were looking forward to being back with the others after a week apart. Something that they had noticed was that they all seemed to feel more at ease when they were near each other. Being apart didn't bother them, but when they were all near, it just felt more right to them.

After breakfast, they helped Eric and Brett make sure all of the rooms were ready. About eleven they saw cars starting to drive up the private road from the entrance. As each car stopped, two boys would pile out. The older one would head to where Jamie and Josh were standing and give them a hug. The younger boy usually held back and waited with his parents before joining the rest. The younger boys were doing pretty well now, especially with Stephanie helping them adjust to the sudden changes in their lives, but they still stuck pretty close to their new parents. Only when more of the younger boys started showing up, did they break away and go and join the others that they had known all their lives. Soon there were three groups, the adults, the older boys and the younger boys. There was a fourth group as well and that was the seven security guys, or eight if you counted Eric. After a few of the parents had arrived and were talking to Brett, Eric had noticed one of the security people drive up and headed over to the bunkhouse building to greet them. He felt more comfortable with the security people since they all had a similar background to him, than he did with the other parents, who were all either MDs or PHDs. They just didn't speak his language. The security team did. So he joined them until Brett called for everyone to come inside for brunch.

Another change that Brett had made was that he had a part time hired staff now. They were local retired people who did it for the extra money as they were part time. It included an older couple, Alice and Tom, who worked as the cooks and another couple of ladies, who cleaned the major rooms of the house and helped with serving meals. Whenever a large part of the family was coming up to visit, Brett always arranged for the staff to be there. If it was only a couple of the families, then they would fend for themselves, but when they were all there, he always brought in the staff and paid them well. Everyone was expected to take care of their own rooms and keep them neat, but the two other ladies, Jennilee and Lucinda, took care of most of the house. Many times the others in the family helped them in cleaning up as well. When no one was going to be visiting for a few weeks, Jennilee and Lucinda would come in once a week, just to give the place a quick dusting, vacuuming and minor cleaning.

"Alright everyone let's go on in, Alice and Tom have a good brunch ready for us."

They followed Brett into the house and to the dining room. There were mainly breakfast dishes with a few other choices like soup and salad for those that didn't want a breakfast like meal. All of the boys leaned toward pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage and eggs, and many times all of them at once. The younger boys tried to emulate the older boys, but their mom's stopped them from getting too much at a time. The older boys had no trouble devouring anything that they took and usually had seconds as well. They were clustered at one end of the table while they adults and the younger boys were at the other end. Jamie and Josh were telling them about the water skiing they had done yesterday. All of them couldn't wait to do that. They were all hoping that they could get a chance on the Sea Doos as well. Jamie told them that they would get to do that, but they would have to have someone eighteen or older with them. Because in California you had to be sixteen to drive it by yourself, just like a car.

After brunch it was more of a relaxing time. The boys all went outside and played Ultimate in the large back yard. After a while they started to split up a little, some wanted to go exploring while others came inside to play video games or watch TV. The explorers headed into the woods nearby to see what they could find. After exploring a bit and getting a little hot and sweaty, the explorers came back in and went to clean up. As it usually happened, the younger boys asked to take a shower with their older brothers. All the boys ended up in the game room after their showers, watching TV. The younger ones, fell asleep early, partially because of all the running around that they had done at the higher elevation that they were at and all the excitement. Once the movie was over, the older boys said goodnight to their parents and helped their younger brothers get to bed before heading to their bedrooms themselves. In their bedrooms not everyone went to sleep right away. Some of them stayed up watching TV or cuddling and finding more energetic ways to pass the time before going to sleep.

In Ian and Logan's room they were cuddling a little when Logan went still and got a strange look on his face. He sat up and looked around the room.


"Did you feel that?"

Ian sat up now and looked around as well before shrugging.

"Feel what?"

"The ground shake?"

"Um, nooo."

"I could've sworn I felt the ground shake, kinda like a small earthquake."

"I didn't feel anything."

He paused and then got a mischievous smile on his face.

"Maybe the guys next door are doing some exploring like we did this afternoon."

Logan looked at Ian and matched his smile.

"Yeah, I think I'd like to…explore."

They scooted back under the covers and cuddled up to start exploring. Logan's feelings and thoughts about any shaking he might have felt was completely forgotten because of other more important matters.

The next morning it seemed that everyone decided to sleep in a little longer than normal. Maybe it was partially due to the altitude, the drive up the mountain and staying up a bit late, but when Gabe came in the house to check with Brett about what was planned for the day, he found only Brett and Eric up and awake sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee.

"Good morning Boss."

Brett looked up from the laptop that he was reading the news from and raised his cup.

"Morning Gabe. Want some coffee?"

Gabe nodded and Eric filled him a cup from the carafe on the table and handed it to him. Gabe took a sip and looked around.

"A little empty this morning?"

Brett looked up and smiled.

"Yeah, I guess most of them aren't used to this clean mountain air or they're teenagers."

The other two men chuckled a little.

"Anything special planned for today Boss?"

"Nothing really. It will depend on what people want to do. They can take the ATV's out or go hiking, use the shooting ranges, or if anyone wants, they can take out the speedboat and the Sea Doo's as long as at least one of your men go with them. Maybe the ladies might want to go either into Fawnskin or around the lake to Big Bear and do some shopping. We'll let them decide when they get up. Alice, Tom, Jennilee and Lucinda should be here before lunch. We'll let everyone get what they want for breakfast."

"Sounds like a plan. You have that trail ride tomorrow, right?"

"Yeah we'll head to Baldwin Stables and meet up with the guides who will take us on the half day ride. We'll stop and have lunch and then head back to the stables. I have dinner reservations for us at the Cowboy Express Steakhouse in Big Bear. We'll eat there and then head back here. There will probably be a lot of tired people, but I think it's going to be a good day."

"Do you want any of my guys come with you?"

"If any of them want to, sure, but I leave it up to you guys to decide who goes. I've reserved plenty of horses for us."

They continued for a few more minutes discussing some of the other plans for the week. When they finished, Gabe drained his coffee, stood up, and rinsed the cup out in the sink.

"Okay Boss. See you later when the slugs get up."

"Gabe, any of your guys planning on running this morning?"

"Maybe, you game?"

"Yep. I had planned on taking a run this morning. I've been slacking the last few days and wanted to get back into it."

"I think I can find someone to run with you."

"Sounds good."

Eric drained his cup, rinsed it out, said goodbye to Brett, before following Gabe out the door and to the bunkhouse. When he got there, some of the guys thought that a run would be a good idea and quickly got ready while Eric waited for them. George and Luke decided to join him for the run. After stretching and warming up a bit, they were soon on their way to the back of the property. In the bunkhouse, Gabe went into his office to look over some of the papers on his desk that needed his attention. Aldo was in the armory, cleaning a couple of the guns. The others were slowly getting out of bed and getting ready for the day, except Jim, he had told Luke to go away, when he was asked if he wanted to go for a run, and had managed to fall back asleep.

Back at the main house several people got up long enough to answer nature's call but were easily enticed back into bed. The teens cuddled up close and went back to sleep. Others just cuddled up and talked quietly if they didn't go back to sleep. Some of the adults started to stir and make noises about getting up.

Logan had just finished in the bathroom and was coming back to bed when he stopped short and his eyes unfocused as if he were looking off into the distance. When his eyes focused again he turned to Ian and there was a look of fear on his face.

"Ian, something bad is going to happen, we have to warn everyone."

The first tremor hit at that moment and Logan was thrown to the floor hitting his head on the nightstand, knocking him out. Ian tried to reach him and a shelf above the bed fell onto him. Brett felt the tremor and looked up from the table he was sitting at in the kitchen. He dropped his cup as he stood. He started to turn to go and get to Jamie when the strongest quake hit. Behind him the glass in the windows shattered and he felt the floor drop a bit, knocking him off his feet, a light fixture fell from the ceiling above him and hit him on the head and he was out.

Throughout the house, those who had been asleep, were awakened as they were tossed around and hit by flying objects. Those who were awake clutched each other in fear of what was going on. When the strongest quake hit, everyone was flung around their rooms. Parts of the second floor collapsed into the first floor and ceilings and walls fell in. The shaking went on for some time and then calmed down and a sudden aftershock nearly as strong as the first quake hit and the few adults that were still conscious felt a blinding headache before lapsing into unconsciousness. All of the boys including the younger ones, that had not been knocked unconscious by flying debris and furniture, suddenly held their heads and screamed in pain before passing out. Their boneless forms flung this way and that by the shaking of the house.

In the bunkhouse, the building started shaking and Gabe was thrown from his desk chair. He tried to stand up, but the shaking was too strong, so he pulled himself up to a kneeling position by holding onto the desk and pulling himself up from the floor. As soon as he got up that far, he started shouting out orders and as the men began to respond like the warriors that they were, they were hit by a powerful headache that drove them to the floor before they passed out.

Out on the run, Eric and the other two were jogging along one of the dirt roads on the property when they felt the first rumblings in the ground beneath. They looked around but kept jogging a little farther when suddenly the main quake hit. They were thrown off their feet and hit the ground hard. The shaking went on for a long time and they tried to get up, but then trees and branches started falling around them. They finally got back up and tried to dodge the falling trees and branches and then a sudden pain in their heads grew intense and then it was a like a bright light was shone into their eyes and they passed out from the pain. Branches and smaller trees kept falling and they were partially covered by the branches that fell from some of the nearby trees.

When the shaking stopped there was an eerie silence everywhere, as if nature was holding its breath. Still forms were everywhere throughout the ruins of the compound. After a few minutes the faint sounds of nature began as the birds and animals began to take stock of their selves and make sure they and their families were okay. Looking around the compound, the hardest hit area was the main house. The violent shaking of the earthquake had done massive damage to the house. One side of the house had collapsed inward and the other side seemed to have slumped down into the ground a little, as if something had collapsed beneath it. The middle part looked like it had held up okay, other than broken windows everywhere.

Inside the house a few people began to stir themselves. Ian groaned and tried to sit up, but something was holding him down. He slowly felt around until he could feel what it was and was able to get a grip and push the shelf off his back. Once that was clear he could move around enough to see what was going on. When he sat up he winced from the slight headache that he had. He was shocked at the ruin around him as he looked around. He heard a groan nearby and scurried across the bed and looked over the side, he saw Logan partially pinned by a dresser that was on his legs. There was also a cut and a knot on his forehead. Ian reached got off the bed and knelt down next to him. He looked at the dresser and saw it was only on the lower part of Logan's legs. He went over to it and bent down and slowly lifted it up, shifted it to the side and dropped it on the floor before going back over to his boyfriend to make sure he was okay. He first put his hand over the forehead injury. He closed his eyes and started the healing process. It wasn't too bad a cut, so he was able to close it fairly easily and moved the blood away as he helped Logan's body close up the broken capillaries, which made the bump go down until there was nothing there and only faint bruising was left. He then moved over the rest of Logan's body especially his legs that were under the dresser to make sure nothing was broken. There was another groan and Logan began to move around a bit more. Ian turned him over just as Logan's eyes opened and he blinked a few times before he was able to focus on Ian kneeling over him. He looked around and his eyes opened wide.

"Are you okay?"

"I think so. What the hell happened?"

"Earthquake I think."

"See, I told you I felt the ground shake."

"I'll believe you next time."

Ian let out a sigh of relief and leaned forward to give Logan a kiss, before helping him get up from the floor. They looked around for a few moments then shivered as they realized that it was cold, not summer morning cool, but cold. Together they lifted the dresser up so that they could get to their clothes and get some jeans and sweatshirts on.

"Let's see if the others are okay."

The two boys left the room and looked up and down the hall. At one end of the hall towards the stairs the hall seemed to drop down a bit, as if something had collapsed below it. In the other direction it looked like there was a pile of lumber blocking any progress.

"We're going to need Jamie."

"Yeah, we need to find him quickly."

Jamie and Josh's room was nearby, so they went to their room next. When they tried the door, something seemed to be blocking it. The boys looked at each other and then put their shoulders against it as they pushed, and slowly it began to give. They finally pushed it open enough to squeeze through and get into the room. They looked around the ruin of the room for a few moments before they went over to the bed. They found Josh unconscious there, but no sign of Jamie. Ian went over to Josh. He placed his hands on his head and closed his eyes. A few moments later Josh opened his eyes.


"You feel okay."

"Uh, yeah."

He then started looking around and his eyes widened.

"What happened?"

"I think it was an earthquake."

"I guess….Wait, where's Jamie?"

Ian helped him get up and the three of them started looking around the room. Josh found him on the other side of the bed with the nightstand on top of him and called Ian over. They moved the nightstand out of the way and Ian did the same thing with him that he'd done with Josh and he was soon awake. Josh hugged him and helped him up.

"C'mon Jamie, there was an earthquake and the house looks like it's wrecked. I think we're going to need your help to get stuff out of the way and help everyone."

"Kay. Wow, this place is trashed."

"We need to go check on the others. They may be hurt."

"And why is it cold. I mean it feels almost like winter."

He and Josh were rubbing their arms and goosebumps were standing out on their underwear clad bodies. They quickly got dressed and left the room and Logan led them in the direction where the hallway was blocked by collapsed walls. Jamie got to work and started moving the debris out of the way with the other three helping move the lighter broken parts. After he had moved enough to clear the hallway, they went down the hall to the next bedroom. Inside they found Ethan and Dylan in the collapsed bed. Ian quickly woke them up, gave them some healing, and got them up and moving. One of the windows had broken out and a cold breeze was coming in. Outside it was completely overcast and cold, not at all what they would expect for the summer. In fact it looked like it was going to rain soon. There were some dark clouds out there.

"We need to get downstairs. We might be able to get to anyone who is in that mess better from down there. It looks like at least some of this floor fell down in the lower floor. Should we split up?"

"I don't know. I think we should stay together. Dylan and I should be able to find anyone that might be under stuff, Ian can make sure they're okay and you can move things out of the way so we can get to them. I mean you can lift a backhoe, so we're going to need you to rescue people."

"Okay, okay. That makes sense. We need to look around and see how everyone else is doing. Let's see if we can find Sean and Dakota. Their room is near the stairway."

After the two boys were dressed, they went out to the hall and started looking around. To the right, they found that they couldn't go any farther. Beyond them, that part of the house looked like a pile of building parts. In fact, they could see that part of it had collapsed and they could see the sky through holes in the roof. They turned around and headed back the other way to where the stairway went down. Just before the stairway they came to Sean and Dakota's room. When they got there, they noticed the ceiling seemed to have dropped down and they could see the rest of the ceiling beyond it had also dropped a little bit. When they tried the door, the door was jammed because the door frame seemed to be binding the door inside the frame. They tried to break the door in, but couldn't, so Jamie had them stand back and started to exert his TK against it. He was sure that he could probably blow the door open, but they didn't know where Sean and Dakota were on the other side of the door, so he slowly increased the pressure. They could see the door bulging inward a little before it flew open. Jamie wiped a little sweat from his forehead as they entered the room. They found both of the boys on the ground with Dakota lying partially on top of Sean's smaller body. Ian checked Dakota first, before they moved him off of Sean. With them lying next to each other, Ian went to work and within moments both boys were awake. They helped them get up and when the cold air hit them, the two were scrambling into warmer clothes.

They left the room and Sean looked around.

"Man Jamie, this is going to cost your dad a lot to fix up."

"Oh shit. My Dad! We have to check the other side of the house."

The bedrooms were on the front side of the house. There was a connecting hallway that led to the back side of the house. When they got to that side of the house, they went to the first door that they came to, it was Josh's uncle's room. Something was on the other side of the door and they had to push it a bit. They found a dresser had fallen over and was blocking it. Once they got in, they started searching for him and found no one in the room.

"He probably got up earlier. Anyone know what time it is?"

"I didn't see my phone. It's probably under something in my room."

"Let's go to my Dad's room and see if he's okay."

They went in the other direction to where Brett's room was located. They were able to get the door open with a little effort and stopped when they entered, because it looked like part of the wall had fallen on the bed. They ran over to the bed and started moving some of the debris. They got to one large piece and Jamie had to lift it out of the way. When he had moved it enough for them to see underneath, Jamie dropped the piece on the other side of the bed and ran to where they could see the outline of someone under the covers. Jamie got up onto the bed and reached out to the figure, he froze because he saw blood on the sheets.

"Ian, hurry up. I think my Dad is hurt."

"Don't move him until I can check him out to make sure he doesn't have any spinal damage."

Ian went around the other side of the bed and started to get closer but he stopped and had to swallow a couple of times, because he could see that part of Brett's head looked misshapen. He shakily reached forward to put his hand on Brett's neck. Jamie was watching Ian and when Ian looked at him, he knew something was wrong. The look on Ian's face told him, but he didn't want to believe it.

"I….I'm sorry Jamie. There's nothing I can….."

Jamie began to shake his head in disbelief and tears came to his eyes and started flowing down his face. He looked down at the body and then at Ian, who now had tears in his eyes as well.

"No, Dad. Not my Dad."

Jamie started to tremble and then his eyes rolled back into his head and he fainted.

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