Castle Roland

Changing Connections

by Eric Aune

In Progress

Chapter 3

Posted: N/A

Changing Connections

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

All Rights Reserved

 Changing Connections LogoCaptain Christina Casey looked around at her team and gave them all a grim grin.

"As you all know, most of the UNIT forces are trapped in Russia with all the shit going on there. So, we're doing this mission ourselves. We're about to prove to everyone else why we're a UNIT Assault Team."

"Whatcha got for us?" Second in command of the Red Dragons, Corporal Oliver Hayes, said as he sat down in one of the seats at the front of the briefing room. Since he was getting their transportation ready, he had been a few seconds late to the briefing. Not that anyone noticed, since everyone knew that with as close as Christina and Oliver were, whatever she said, he knew about. As it was, Oliver knew exactly what their mission was, but was asking more for the benefit of the team than anything else.

Christina smiled down at her second in command, and lover, and then looked around at everyone else. They all knew that she and Oliver were engaged, so she didn't try to hide anything, of course since they were a team, she couldn't, and wouldn't try to hide something from them anyways.

"Some of you know his name, while others of us actually know him very personally..." She said as she pressed a button on the podium. The lights dimmed, and the screen behind her brought up the face of a man she knew VERY well. She had to wait for several moments as more than one of her team growled in barely suppressed rage.

"Yes, this is Doctor Brett MacLeod, the same one that was at the base we were all at before we came here."

Even as she spoke, many of the kids in the room were having flashbacks to the time when they were at the Genesis base, before Adam and the other kids rescued them. Dr. Macleod was one of the Geneticists working there, and while he wasn't the worst of the lot, he certainly would not win any Nobel Prizes for Humanity.

"While he didn't take part in some of the abuses the other 'doctors' liked to take part in, he still had absolutely no problem experimenting on us. From the information we were able to get from the lab, before Khan and the Chipmunks blew it up, he is the one who figured out how to erase most of our memories. That, as well as everything else, has put him on the UNIT's Top 5 Wanted List."

She paused for a few moments before she grinned even wider than before.

"And now we know where he is."

Immediately, the other members of the team were listening attentively.

"As far as our intel goes, we know where he is, and know that he has some guards there, maybe as many as 30, but as far as we can tell, there are no kids there. It looks like he's gone to ground, at least for now, and is doing his best to try and avoid us." She said the last part laughing.

"But not anymore. We go wheels up in two hours. We're flying in on this one, instead of transporting. Just cause we can and I want the hours behind the controls."

That caused more laughs. Everyone knew she didn't like the idea of transporting, hence the reason she had learned to pilot the helicopters. Many of them said that she was as bad as Doctor McCoy in how she viewed being transported, no matter who or what did it.

Less than two hours later, the entire assault team was loaded into Christina's personal helicopter. While it was officially purchased by the UNIT, she insisted on paying for it, since she had not spent any of the money that the UNIT command gave all of the members, as well as bonuses. This one was a CH 53K Super Stallion that has been modified to UNIT specs, as well as painted like a Red Dragon. All in all it was Christina's pride and joy. Even Oliver, who didn't care to fly all the time got so caught up in her excitement, he had Will train and certify him to be a co-pilot. The fun part of it was that the entire team took to it, and spent many of their 'off duty' hours 'tricking it out', as Mikey, the youngest of their team called it.

With some help from the ground crews they actually modified the interior. Jasmine, their resident computer geek, had overseen the building of a command and control suite that had the same capabilities as an AWACS aircraft. The helicopter lacked the radar dome of the AWACS, but it was nearly as capable. By the time she was done, her system was almost as powerful as what they had in some of the command and control aircraft. Of course the weapons expert and the two demolitions experts couldn't be left out. There was an locked armory built into the interior, where weapons, ammunition and Unit armor could be stored as well. Both Juan and Jory said how proud they were of their students, when they were shown the helicopter. Chang assisted in making sure the medical treatment room that was added to the interior had the proper equipment to the treatment of battlefield injuries. Something like a mini MASH unit. After all the modifications and work that the team had put into it, this helicopter could support a full battalion of Unit troops.

Once they all gave Christina the sign that they were locked and loaded, they all boarded the huge helicopter, and strapped in for the flight. Christina got into the pilot's seat while Oliver was outside doing the preflight. She hit the main power switch and brought to life the three micro fusion generators. In all actuality this helicopter only needed one, but with everything this craft was able to do, they had one as a backup, and one that could be used to hook up and give power to external equipment or even a building.

"Hello Christina." The Helicopter's Virtual Intelligence program said in its somewhat mechanical voice.

Someone had gotten the idea to put AI's into the helicopters, but as soon as Logan and Daileass heard about it, they vetoed the idea cold. There were only minor arguments about it, until Daileass explained what had happened to him, and that he would never allow a fully sentient AI to be trapped inside of ANY war machine. However, a Virtual Intelligence, one that had no way of becoming sentient was not a problem, hence the inclusion of 'Drake' in Christina's CH 35K.

"Hello Drake. Please perform a complete system diagnostic. Log our flight plan to Big Bear Lake, California, as well as list it as a combat mission." Christina said as she glanced over the computerized displays. She still didn't have a clue how Will and the Chipmunks found the time to completely change the controls of the helicopter, but this thing looked more like a shuttle cockpit, then a helicopter. Not that she minded, but it still puzzled her.

"Flight systems: check. Navigation systems: check. Weapons systems: check. All systems: within optimal parameters. Flight plan: plotted and logged. Combat mission status: authorized and accepted. Daileass has uploaded the latest intelligence files to my systems. Jasmine is in the process of downloading and authenticating the files. All stations report ready to commence flight operations." Drake said in his monotone voice.

Oliver slid into his seat and strapped in. Christina reached over and squeezed his thigh. "You ready for this baby?"

He grinned over at her as he finished cinching down the straps. "A chance to get Doctor MacLeod? Oh hell yeah, I'm ready for it."

She just grinned as she fired up the engines, and then lifted off. "Then let's go pay a visit to our old friend."

Eve looked around at her team and smiled. It was getting late, but still they wanted to train. They knew that sometime soon they would be called on. When that time came, they refused to accept anything other than perfect success. Nothing less would be proper considering who they are, and what others had sacrificed to make them into what they were.

As the gunfire died down, she called out. "One hundred more rounds. Lowest score has middle watch!"

Most of the team grinned and loaded another clip into their modified MP5 submachine guns. While not the biggest gun that they had access to, it was their mainstay. Just like the team they were meant to replace, the MP5 was the most practical choice for them. Lightweight, and reliable.

Just as they were finishing up and Eve was looking over the targets, Doctor MacLeod, the doctor in charge of their project, walked into the room. "Good evening children."

"Good evening Dr. MacLeod." They all responded in unison as they snapped to attention and saluted. He nodded his head, and they dropped the salute, but stayed in a rigid attention posture.

"Eve, I see you have had a bit of a competition going on here. What was it, and who lost?" He asked as he looked out over the targets.

"Doctor," She began, knowing that the man preferred to be called doctor rather than just sir, "We were practicing our marksmanship, using this as the way to decide who got middle watch. Out of the 100 rounds that we were using for this challenge, Ram had the highest amount of rounds that fell outside of the kill zone, having missed sixteen times."

"I see. 84 rounds in the kill section at 75 yards is still very impressive." He said to the youngest of their group, as well as their medical officer.

"You are all doing very well. The powers that be think that you are just about ready for active duty. As a matter of fact, General Folkerstein will be arriving early next week to see how well you have all progressed. I want you all to start thinking about what you will do to show him how good you all are." The Doctor said with a smile to the kids.

"I have purposefully underreported the success that you all have had, so that way he will be even more pleased."

"Thank you, Doctor." Eve said with her own smile.

"Well, I shall let you all clean up here, and then get some sleep. I am sure that you will all be busy for the next week deciding on how you want to show the General your skills. Starting tomorrow your collars will allow you to access any facility on the campus. Also you will be able to move within 25 yards of the property boundary."

He saw them nod, then turned and walked out.

As soon as he left, they all relaxed as Eve turned to them, the excitement on her faced mirrored by all of them. "You heard the doctor; we have some plans to make. I want all of you to have some ideas to share at breakfast tomorrow. You have free time until then. Apollo, you have first watch, Ram, you have middle, and Nio, last watch. Meet up at the dining facility at 0800."

She looked around for nods of approval before she barked out. "Dismissed!"

They all snapped to attention and saluted their CO, before they gathered up their weapons to clean them and put them back in the armory before they went to their rooms for the evening.

Christina bought the helicopter in for a soft landing in the middle of a small field. Even before she had fully set down the helicopter, the rest of the team had exited off the back ramp, and quickly secured the perimeter. Once they got the all clear signal, Thomas, the heavy weapons officer, who was manning the 7.62X51 M134 Minigun on the ramp, stowed the weapon, and joined the rest of the team outside.

Christina and Oliver quickly placed the helicopter in 'hot standby' meaning that while the rotors were not turning, all the electronics were on, and the power plant fully charged. This allowed them to keep the helicopter's stealth package running, while also allowing them to use its more powerful communications suite to relay information back to the main UNIT base, as well as the Rapid Response base, if needed. Once they exited the helicopter, Oliver couldn't help but look back and shake his head. He knew exactly where it was, but just a few steps outside of the stealth field, and he couldn't see it.

"Come on Dragons. It's only five miles to the target. I figure we should be able to get close enough to Recon it within thirty minutes."

Rio grinned and laughed.

"You planning on walking?"

"No, but according to our intel the good doctor has plenty of security, so I want us to take our time and surprise him. As I said in the briefing, there could be as many as thirty security guards there, and I want the doctor alive, so we do this slow and careful. Besides..." She added with a grin. "I like a nice leisurely stroll through the woods on a beautiful morning."

That got laughs out of everyone as they quickly fell out and headed into the woods, Rio, their small recon officer, taking point, and quickly disappearing before their eyes. Had it not been for all of them being linked to the small kid, none of them would have known he was there.

Captain Blackburn awoke and stretched. As he stretched his hand came down on the back of his twelve year old bed partner. He smiled as he remembered how much he enjoyed taking the boy for the first time. Timmy had screamed as he was invaded, but that only made Blackburn enjoy what he was doing even more. He pulled the covers down and admired the look of the boy. The tear stained face on the sleeping boy only caused Blackburn to smile in satisfaction. He smiled and he turned the boy onto his stomach and spread his legs wide. Timmy woke up with a scream as he was once again assaulted. He cried out for Blackburn to stop, but that only increased the ferocity of the assault. It continued until Blackburn slammed his pelvis hard against the whimpering and squirming twelve year old boy one more time before collapsing on top of him. As he lay there catching his breath, the phone on his nightstand rang. He rolled off the boy and sat on the edge of the bed as he turned on the light and reached for the phone.

"Blackburn…..yeah, send him up."

He hung the phone up and went over to a chair where he had tossed his robe and put it on. From the bed came the sounds of the boy crying. He looked at the boy while he tied the sash of the robe around him. The boy was sitting up against the headboard, the sheet partially covering him, with his arms around his drawn up knees and his forehead pressed against his arms. His shoulders were shaking as he cried. Blackburn strode over to the bed with a snarl on his face and grabbed the boy by the arm yanking him off the bed and slapped him, causing the boy to yelp, and then he backhanded him, followed by another slap before he threw him to the floor. The boy lay on his side in a fetal position with his hands to his face and whimpering in pain. A trickle of blood dripped from his mouth and his face was red, where Blackburn had hit him. There was a knock on the door and Blackburn pointed at the kid who was looking up at him with frightened tear filled eyes.

"Shut up you little slut, or I'll give you a reason to cry."

On the way to the door to answer it, he kicked the boy in the stomach. Causing the boy to cry out and clutch his stomach with one hand, while gasping as he tried to catch the breath that had been driven out of him. At the door he opened it and saw that Lieutenant Wilson was standing outside. In his hands he had a thick folder. He motioned for Wilson to come in. As he entered Wilson glanced at the naked boy lying on the floor.

"What do you have for me, Lieutenant?"

Wilson opened the folder, took out the paper that was on top and handed it to Blackburn. "Orders sir."

Blackburn turned the overhead light on and read through the message. When he was done he looked at the Lieutenant. He pointed the paper in his hand to the folder that Wilson was holding. "Are those the pardons?"

"Yes, sir."

He nodded and placed his orders on a table near the door.

"Okay, tell the team to get ready. Tell them to get the trucks loaded up with the rifles, support weapons and ammo. Make sure the Humvees are prepped with ammo for the 50 cals and the Mark 19."

He turned away to head to his bathroom to get a shower and get dressed. He stopped as he looked down at the boy on the floor. He nudged him with his foot as he looked over his shoulder. "Oh, and take Timmy here and put him with the others. When we get back from the mission, I'll want to see him or maybe I'll try out one of the others. Maybe his little sister, or maybe both. Yeah I think both. Tell them to make sure they are both cleaned up and ready for when I get back this evening."

He sneered as he kicked Timmy in the back causing the boy to groan and arch his back in pain as he went to the bathroom and shut the door. Wilson leaned down and with one hand pulled the boy to his feet. Once he was on his feet, Wilson grabbed him firmly by the neck and pushed him ahead of him as he left the room.

Thirty minutes later Captain Blackburn was standing outside his quarters. Lieutenant Wilson drove up in a Humvee and Blackburn got in. President Ashwood had reactivated this base six months ago. It had been closed in 1992 and upon reactivation; Ashwood ordered it to revert to its former name of George Air Force Base when he sent orders for units loyal to him to be stationed there. The place had been in disrepair, but some money had been poured in and several of the buildings had been refurbished for the troops that were to be stationed there. Right now there were not many and no aircraft were stationed there yet, but there were plans to get some in there soon.

Wilson drove him over to the barracks building where the team was located. He sat and watched as his team loaded the back of one of the transport trucks with the weapons and equipment. As they finished up, the two officers got out of the Humvee. The platoon sergeant saw them and called the platoon to attention. The twenty five men of the platoon quickly fell in. The platoon sergeant walked to the front and saluted. Behind them were four M35 transport trucks and three Humvees. Two with M2 .50 caliber machineguns and one with a Mark 19 Automatic Grenade Launcher in a heavy weapon mount on top.

"Platoon all present and accounted for, sir."

Blackburn returned the salute and looked the men over.

"At ease! Men, we have Presidential Orders to kill or capture Doctor Brett MacLeod the sympathizer and supporter of the international terrorist who styles himself as a Presidential Candidate, Jackson Bryce. The orders are kill or capture. Since it was left to my discretion as to whether we capture or kill him, I can assure you my choice will be to kill him. I don't plan on wasting my time on trying to capture him. Enemy resistance should be light. He is said to have upwards of thirty men for security. They are probably not much more than rent a cops, or old washed up soldiers."

The men laughed which he answered with a smile.

"It should be relatively easy to take him down. However, to make sure that there is no doubt about the outcome. The President has arranged for some cannon fodder for us. He doesn't want us to waste ourselves by taking MacLeod's compound by ourselves. We have other missions to perform in the upcoming days, so before we head up to the Big Bear area, we have to detour to the California Institute for Men in Chino and pick up our cannon fodder. The President has graciously pardoned a large number of residents there who are to go with us and assist us in this endeavor in exchange for their freedom. Most of the equipment that you have loaded into the one truck is for them. The LAW Rockets are for our use, not theirs. We will be using the trucks to transport them to the compound location. Lieutenant Wilson and Sergeant Cervantes will assign you men to the trucks and Humvees that we will be taking with us. You have fifteen minutes to make sure your gear is ready, get to your assigned vehicles and be ready to roll. Anyone who is not ready will be shot for desertion in the face of the enemy. Is that understood?"

"Yes sir."

Blackburn turned around and went back to his Humvee while Wilson and Cervantes handed out the assignments. Fifteen minutes later they platoon was ready and they were on the road. The drive took about an hour and a half before they pulled up in front of the gates of the prison. The guard at the gate eyed the trucks and Humvees as he made his way to the lead Humvee.

"I have a Presidential Order for the release of some of your inmates. Open your gates so that we can take care of that immediately."

"I'll have to check with the Warden."

"I don't have time for this shit. That is a Presidential Order. Open the goddamn gates and let us in. You don't want to be arrested for obstructing the orders of the President do you?"

The guard was struck dumb but he shook his head.

"Good, then open the fucking gates."

The guard spoke into his radio and the gates opened up. Blackburn held his hand out for the orders and the guard handed them over. Blackburn gave him a mocking salute as the guard stepped back and watched as the heavily armed Humvees and trucks drove into the prison compound. As Captain Blackburn and Lieutenant Wilson exited the Humvee, a man in a suit followed by an older guard with Captain's bars on his uniform walked toward them.

"What is going on here?"

"Are you the Warden?"

"Yes. What is your business here?"

"I'm here on the orders of the President to pick up a number of your residents. I have in my possession Presidential pardons for them."

"You have what!?"


"May I see them?"

Wilson stepped up and showed the pardons to the warden. The Guard Captain looked over his shoulder as he looked through the stack. As he looked through them the Warden was shaking his head in disbelief.

"Are you nuts? Do you realize that these are for the worst offenders that we have here?"

"I am only following the lawful orders of my Commander in Chief.'

"That's what Hitler's SS said about the concentration camps."

Blackburn's hand whipped out and struck the Warden in the face, knocking him to the ground and dropping the pardons that he had been looking at. The Guard Captain started to move forward but behind the Captain he saw the M2 machinegun on one of the Humvees orient on him and the few men with him. He took in the heavily armed soldiers that had by this time exited their vehicles, and the heavily armed Humvee's that had positioned themselves in such a manner as to cover his men. He gulped and put his hand down to help the Warden back up to his feet. Blackburn got up in the Warden's face.

"I am a duly sworn officer in the United States Army! I am here under the orders of my Commander in Chief, the President of the United States! You will obey his orders without fail or I will take you into custody for interfering with that order! Now pick those papers up, you idiot!"

The Warden looked at him and stepped back. He bent down and gathered the pardons and looked at them one more time. Something crossed his face and he handed them back. "I'm sorry I cannot comply with these orders. The President can only pardon Federal prisoners, this is a State facility and the Governor is the only one who can issue pardons for these men."

Blackburn glared at him.


Wilson calmly pulled his M9 Beretta and fired one shot into the Warden's head. He pointed the pistol at the Guard Captain.

"Are there any more objections?"

The Guard Captain looked from the Warden's body and then at Blackburn and glared. Blackburn gave him a little smile.

"Captain, I suggest that you escort these gentlemen to us immediately, or I will order my men to open fire on your men. I also suggest that you order any of your men who are armed to stand down, or I will disarm your men and throw them to the inmates and release all of them. I am under orders and I do not wish to anger my commander."

Blackburn could see the anger smoldering in the man's eyes, but the Captain knew he was beaten. He motioned for one of the men to pick up the pardons. Then with Blackburn and several of the soldiers escorting him, he went inside the building and to a processing area. It took almost an hour to process the inmates. They were escorted out of the building and to where the trucks were located and lined up. The inmates separated themselves into groups that they were comfortable with. Blackburn stood up in the door of his Humvee, keeping the Humvee between him and the inmates. He lifted the bullhorn that he had taken from inside the guard office. The inmates were talking to each other, trying to figure out what was going on.


One of the inmates flipped him off and a gunshot sounded putting the guy down. That shut the rest up.

"Now that I have your attention! I am here under orders of President Ashwood. He is prepared to offer you your freedom in exchange for a little job. If you wish to take advantage of this offer, you will be coming with my platoon to take down a supporter of terrorism. Once we are done there, you are free to go your own way." A voice from the inmates shouted out to Blackburn

"What are we supposed to do, be some human wave to be mowed down? While you gringos sit back and watch, eh payaso?"

"Yeah, I ain't no soldier. You white boys always expectin' the black man to fight yo battles."

Blackburn looked at a soldier manning one of the M2s and nodded. Suddenly the sound of a .50 caliber machinegun filled the air. The inmates and the guards hit the ground. The gun fired for just a few seconds. When he stopped, the area is still and filled with the smell of burned gunpowder. A few of the inmates along with the two who had spoken were lying in blood after having been shredded by the .50 caliber. The other inmates nearby are crawling away to get away from the carnage. Blackburn had a scowl on his face. "Do any more of you have a comment?"

He looked around at the inmates and seeing nothing he nodded to himself. "Very well. STAND THE FUCK UP!"

He waited until the inmates are back on their feet before saying anything else.

"You will be issued rifles and all the equipment you will need. So if you wish to take part in our President's gracious offer, then get your asses into the trucks. MOVE!"

The inmates that were left, moved to the trucks and followed the orders of the soldiers that were there. Soon the trucks were full and the column was ready to head out. In his Humvee, Blackburn checked his watch and looked over at Wilson.

"It's 0830. We should be up there by about 1030 to 1045. We will equip the inmates and then attack the compound by 1100 hours. Move ‘em out."

Blackburn's orders went out on the tactical radios that all of the soldiers wore. Blackburn's Humvee led the way out of the prison, while the guards watched in disgust. Once the column was out of sight, the Guard Captain gave orders to get some stretchers, to get the bodies to the infirmary. He headed back to his office where he made a call to the Governor's office.

The column headed north to the 60 freeway where they turned east. From there they turned north on the 215 freeway and then the 10 freeway east again, until they came to the main highway up to Big Bear, highway 330. As they drove along the roads and freeways, they garnered a lot of attention and looks from other drivers on the road. They were part of the way up the winding mountain road when things suddenly and jarringly went wrong.

The ground began to shake and rocks started tumbling down the slopes of the mountain above the road. Blackburn looked up the mountain and told Wilson to stop. The shaking intensified and the vehicles were starting to move around quite a bit. Several of the inmates jumped out of the trucks and lay on the ground. A couple started to run and they were cut down by one of the soldiers. After that, no one tried to run, but they did hit the ground and hung on tight as the earthquake rolled over them. The gunners in the Humvees, tried to hang on, but they were thrown around enough to decide that it was better to drop into the Humvee, until the shaking stopped. Those that noticed watched as one of the trucks moved to the side of the road, but stopped before going over the side. Some of the inmates were still inside the truck and they could be heard yelling in fear. Eventually the shaking subsided and Blackburn got out of his Humvee to take stock of his platoon. He walked back along the column making sure the vehicles and the equipment was undamaged. As he moved along the line, he saw his men getting the inmates loaded back into the trucks. He gave little notice to the two inmates who lay on the road dead. Upon returning to his Humvee, he gave orders for them to move out. They could see other cars getting their bearings and continuing on their way. He saw some of the cars, turning around and heading back down the mountain road. Others continued on their way. There were rocks on the road, causing them to drive slower up the hill. As they drove Blackburn scanned the road ahead.

"Son of bitch! Stop!"

Wilson stopped the Humvee and Blackburn got out to look up the road ahead. Wilson joined him. Blackburn looked up the road and they could see a large chunk of the road ahead was gone. It stretched from the edge back toward slope on the inside the road. He could tell that the only way that they were going to get past it, was if they walked along the narrow part of the road that was left. There was no way that they could get up to the compound in time. He clenched his fists in frustration and turned back to the Humvee. "Get me a map."

Wilson pulled their map out of the Humvee and they spread it on the hood. Looking over it, they scanned the map, until Blackburn put his finger on the map, and ran it along a couple of different roads. He could have used the map application on the Ipad that he had, but the paper map showed more area and made it easier to figure out the route they would need to take.

"Get Cervantes up here. He's from around here, maybe he knows the best way to go."

The Lieutenant spoke into the radio and a few moments later Sergeant Cervantes had joined them. Blackburn pointed at the map. "Sergeant, what is the best way for us to get up to Big Bear?"

Cervantes scanned the map and then pointed to one of the roads.

"Highway 38 sir. It's a little longer, but the road is not as steep as this road or Highway 18. Both of them climb up the side of the mountain. Highway 38 does that as well, but it is a more gradual climb and different from the other two winding mountain roads. The only other choice is coming up the backside of the mountain from Lucerne Valley. That would take us a long time and we wouldn't be up there until much later this afternoon and I couldn't guarantee it will be open. I can't guarantee any of the roads will be open, but I believe highway 38 is the surest course."

Blackburn looked at the map for a few moments and then pounded his fist onto the hood. "Fucking earthquake! Of all the days for Mother Nature to fuck us over……Shit! Okay, let's get this fucking column on the road. How long do you think it will take us to get up to that compound Sergeant?"

Cervantes looked at the map and guessed about where they needed to get to. "We should be there around noon sir."


Blackburn stared at the map as if willing it to transport him up to the compound like in those science fiction stories.

"Fine, let's get moving. Lieutenant, give orders that I want those trucks pushed to their limits. If any cars get in the way, run the fuckers off the road or run over them, just make sure nothing gets in the way."

"Yes, sir!"

There was a turnout a short distance ahead and they were able to get the column turned around and headed back down the road. They had to drive slow for a few miles because of rocks on the road, but when they got low enough, it wasn't as much of an issue and they were able to finally get moving at full speed.

As they drove, they hardly slowed for the lights as they sped down the road. They kept the speed as high as possible but it did take some time for them to take the longer way up to the Big Bear Lake area. As they neared the lake, Blackburn used an iPad with a map application to guide the column to their destination. He had the column turn into a large construction area near the airport and had his men get the prisoners out. The large number of men in orange jump suits were soon lined up by the trucks. Blackburn stood on top of the hood of his Humvee with the bullhorn that he had purloined from the prison in his hands. "Okay. Here is what is going to happen."

He pointed to the first truck.

"You will go to that truck where you will be issued your rifle and assault vests. Once you have your equipment put the vest on and get back in line. Once everyone has their equipment, we will get back on the trucks and head to the target. Do not load your rifle until you are told to. In case any of you have any crazy ideas about trying to load and shoot any of us, let me point out a couple of important points."

Blackburn directed their attention to the two manned M2s and the grenade launcher on the top of the Humvees. "Those are .50 caliber machineguns, and you have already seen their effectiveness. The other is a Mark 19 40mm automatic grenade launcher. Think of it as a grenade machine gun. If we see any of you doing anything, such as loading your rifle or we suspect you are going to do anything stupid, I will have my men fire on you with all three weapons, plus the small arms of my men. Needless to say, very few, if any of you will survive our fire. The President has merely asked a small bit of service and then you will be free to go your own way with a full Presidential Pardon. No parole, no probation, completely free."

The prisoners took note of the four M249 light machinegun Squad Automatic Weapons, supported by a bipod, resting on the hood of each of the four Humvees and pointing at the prisoners as well as the rifles in the hands of the trained soldiers, who looked ready to shoot at a word from their commander. They had already seen that these soldiers had no problem shooting any of them. None of them said a word.

"Very good, you're not completely hopeless."

He turned to Sergeant Cervantes. "Sergeant, see to the distribution."

Cervantes stepped up and started giving orders. With the help of the other platoon members they soon had each of the inmates with an M16 and an assault vest. The inmates had inspected what was in the vests, but none of them had tried to load their gun with the intention of maybe getting away. They had already seen what the .50 calibers could do. They figured the grenade launcher would be the first to fire on them. Some figured that they would have a better chance after they had performed the job requested of them and would have a better chance later. Besides they could always look for the chance to frag these soldiers and get the hell out of there. Those that decided on the course of action planned to be alert for such a possibility and take advantage of it when they could.

Once everyone had their gear, they were ordered into the trucks and they headed out. They went as fast as they could, but there was a lot of debris in the roads, especially as they neared Fawnskin. They had to go through most of the town before they could turn onto the road that led farther up the mountain to where Brett's compound was located. As they got near to the private road that led up to it, Blackburn called a halt. He got out and walked to a metal box on the side of the road. He drew his pistol and fired a shot that destroyed the lock on the box. He opened it up and looked inside for a few moments before he emptied his pistol into it the equipment on the inside. There was some sparking from it and he returned to the Humvee, satisfied with the result.

"That was the junction box for electricity and phone service in the nearby area, probably including MacLeod's place if the wire on the pole is any indication. It leads right where we want to go. Let's get moving."

He got on tac radio that all of the men had with them. He knew that none of the prisoners would be able to hear him. "Men, when we get to the compound, get the prisoners out, tell them to load their weapons and then direct them to attack the buildings and anyone else they can find in the compound. We are not taking prisoners, so make sure they understand that they are to shoot to kill. If any of this scum turns on you, gun them down. If they even twitch wrong, take them down hard. If you even think that they are twitching wrong, take them down. They are our human wave. I want them to soak up any damage from the rent a cops and we'll come in and mop up what is left. Once the scum move out, I will bring the Humvees with me and we will take position to both cover the inmates and the buildings on the property. Make sure you direct them to wherever any gunfire is coming from. Understood?"

He received acknowledgement from the men and he then gave the order to advance. The Humvees let the trucks move out first and then the heavily armed Humvees and then his Humvee. Up ahead as soon as the trucks stopped and the armed inmates jumped out of the truck with the soldiers giving them orders, gunfire rang out from the bunkhouse. Three of the inmates went down. The others began to scramble for cover while the soldiers shouted orders for them to load their M16's and return fire. It took a few moments before the inmates had their rifles loaded and they began to return fire against the bunkhouse. That attack had started.

Eve was pleased as she looked over the ideas after they had breakfast. They had all come up with some good ideas, unfortunately, if they went with all of them, they would be doing demonstrations for a week instead of a day. It was her job now to bring the list down to a more manageable level. But that's what she got for being designed to be the leader. And she was damned good at it.

She had been at it for over an hour when she finally made her decisions. Walking into the gym she saw that everyone was doing exactly as she expected. All of them had kicked their own personal training into high gear knowing that their final test was only a week away. Cyril and the triplets were free climbing on the three story climbing wall they had on the left wall. Fiona and Aleksandra were working on another one of the 'projects', which usually ended in something exploding, and more often than not, delivering some nasty concoction to the area it blew up in.

Apollo and Jamil were setting a heavy weapon emplacement, seeming to time it to see just how quick they could do it. Ram was standing off to the side with a stopwatch, but also keeping an eye on Fiona and Aleksandra, just in case something went wrong, and he had to give them some sort of antidote.

Just as she was about to call them to attention, she felt the ground shake. Immediately she crouched down, and kept her center of balance low and stable. She saw Fiona, swift as a snake strike, reach into the device they were building, and yank something out, while Aleksandra did the same. While Eve didn't know what it was, she knew they had just rendered whatever they had been working on harmless.

As the shaking continued she heard a scream from the wall just as Niu fell. They had been free climbing, so they didn't have any ropes. Mainly because, on the off chance that one of them fell, even from the top, they wouldn't get hurt much. Even with the room shaking, Niu still managed to land on her feet, and quickly knelt so as not to be thrown to the ground.

Hearing a loud crash, Eve looked over, and saw the gun that Jamil and Apollo were placing on the tripod, fall to the ground, with both of them jumping back. Thankfully because they were following proper procedure, the gun was not loaded, so there was no chance it would go off.

Eve began to stand back up as the shaking subsided. "Everyone okay?"

Before anyone could answer though, the floor under their feet heaved as an even larger earthquake hit their underground bunker. There was no way Eve could keep her feet this time, and was thrown like a rag doll to the ground. She screamed as she saw the climbing wall break free from its mounting and start to fall, Cyril, and the two of the triplets, still clinging to the wall, the third triplet underneath it.

Even with the floor shaking, and parts of the bunker collapsing, she still felt the wall hit the floor causing the ground to heave greatly, throwing her yet again. In her mind she felt her telepathic connection with her XO, and the triplets snap like a wire that had been cut. She screamed, clutching her head with both hands before she passed out. Around her the other members of her team, at least those who had not been under the wall, were writhing on the floor clutching their heads as well. A short moment later, all of them were unconscious.

Christina called out in her mind to her team.

{Okay, we're about a mile out. Once we top that ridge, it will be all downhill to get to the compound. I want everyone on high alert. Rio, let me know when you crest the hill and if you see anything. I want...}

Her mental communication stopped as the ground seemed to heave, tossing her to the ground. In the back of her mind she noticed that all the birds suddenly took to flight, and all around them small animals were dashing for cover.


Oliver screamed through their link, making her almost chuckle.

{No shit Sherlock!}

She replied just as she struggled to her feet, even while the earthquake was doing its best to not let her stand. It didn't last very long, but it felt a lot longer than it actually was. As the shaking subsided, she got back to her feet and looked around to see how her team was.

{Is everyone...}

This time the next earthquake not only threw her from her feet, but also several feet away. She landed flat on her back, knocking the wind out of her lungs. She didn't even really notice that her right arm was spread out wide, until a fallen tree landed right on her forearm, crushing it. She screamed in pain, as the tree rolled off her arm, and she rolled the opposite way, trying to protect her uninjured arm.

She had to dodge as another, larger tree started to fall towards her, just barely getting out of the way. As she was rolling her head suddenly exploded in the worst pain she had ever felt before in her life. With some of the 'experiments' that she had been forced to participate in, that was saying a lot. Of course she had no time to scream, as before she could draw a breath, her mind simply shut down, not being able to take the level of pain that exploded in her mind. Moments later, not a sound was heard near them, as the rumbling stopped, and the ten kids lay scattered around the area, all of them unconscious.

Eve moaned as she slowly opened her eyes. The room was silent, not even the ever present air circulation system was working. It was a quiet that she had never heard before, and one that put her way off her ease.

She blinked several times trying to make her eyes focus. Reaching out with her mind she knew that close to half her team was dead. She wanted to cry, she wanted to rage, but she had to push that all to the back of her mind for right now. She had grown up with them, but now, she knew they were dead. She would grieve for them later, for now though, she needed to figure out what was going on, and get the rest of her team out of there, before something else happened. As she struggled to her feet, she glanced at the watch she kept on her wrist. It had stopped, and who knows how long ago.

"Who's up?" She called out, not only with her voice, but with her mind as well. Immediately she felt five other minds starting to stir. She gave them a moment to wake up fully while she gave herself a quick check. Other than a few bumps and bruises that were already healing up, she was fine.

"Ram up!"

She heard the youngest member of her team call out. His call was quickly followed by Jamil, Fiona, Apollo, and finally Aleksandra. They all managed to make their way over to where Eve was standing, although each of them looked over at the collapsed wall several times.

"Are they...?"

Ram asked quietly. Eve just looked to where blood could be seen flowing out from under the collapsed wall and nodded, fighting back her tears. In her mind she again told herself, later they would grieve.

"We need to get out of here. Gather what you can, and let's go."

Eve stole one last glance at the ruined remains of the climbing wall and the four family members she knew were buried underneath it. She would be back to get them, but not until she knew everyone else was safe. She squared her back, and walked over to the entrance way to the gym. On the wall next to it, she stopped and pushed part of the wall aside. It was harder than normal, but still not much for her strength. Behind it was a keypad that was blinking. They didn't have power, but there was a battery backup within the lock. She punched in her code, and heard a click. The small vault doors started to part, and then got stuck. With a sigh she reached her hands into the small opening, and began to pry the doors apart. They all heard the shrieking of metal as the vault doors slowly gave way, revealing the weapons rack behind it.

Once she got the door open enough to reach inside, she started to hand out weapons to the members of the team who had joined her by then.

"We don't know exactly what's going on, so I want each of you armed, and ready to fight should it come to it. I am fairly certain that it was an earthquake, but who knows if those UNIT fucks have found us, and somehow attacked. Jamil, you're on point. Find us a way out of here, and above ground."

Jamil nodded with a look of silent determination, while he checked over the automatic shotgun that she had given him, as well as the three extra shell canisters. Once he was satisfied he moved over to the door, and took a perfect close quarters combat position as he peeked through the entryway, and then quickly made his way out the door and into the corridor beyond it.

It had taken them a long time to make it out of the training area, due to many of the ceilings that had collapsed. Finally though, they found themselves in the office area, close to the elevators. They were going room by room checking them out, but having found nothing until they got to Doctor MacLeod's office. Eve carefully opened the door, scanning with her rifle to make sure there were no threats before moving in. She looked around for a moment before she spotted a pair of legs lying behind the desk. She quickly ran over and saw that the bookshelf had fallen down, pinning Doctor MacLeod underneath it.

"FUCK!" She cried out as she set her SMG down and easily shoved the bookshelf off the Doctor. She knelt down next to the man that was the only father she remembered, with tears streaming.

"RAM!" She cried out, even as the small boy slid in next to her. Doctor MacLeod was still breathing, but even Eve could see that his breathing was shallow and labored at best. Each time he exhaled, his lips had a bit of bloody froth on them.

She watched as his eyes slowly fluttered open, and her heart leapt thinking that he might have been okay. He met her eyes with his, and smiled. None too gently, Ram shoved her to the side as he started to work on the Doctor, yet her eyes never left his. He coughed, bringing up lots of blood, and Eve, even though she knew, deep down, that the man was close to death, still held out hope. When he stopped coughing, he opened his mouth, while reaching out his hand to her.

She grabbed his hand, and when he tried to pull her closer, leaned down so that her ear was near his mouth. "Eve... my beautiful Eve." He whispered out in a hoarse voice.

"You have made me so proud. You and your team are as perfect as I could have made you. Thank you... thank you for proving me right." He coughed again and with his final breath said the three words that every daughter wants to hear. "I love you. Protect your team... your family."

His hand went slack, just as Ram cried out.


He pushed her out of the way, straddled the man's hips, and began to do chest compressions. With tears streaming down her face she looked down at the piece of paper the man had placed in her hand. She immediately knew what it was, and cried even harder. After a moment she placed a hand on Ram's shoulder and shook her head.

"He's gone..." She said in a low barely heard voice.

"NO!" Ram cried out, shrugging her hand off his shoulder, slid to the man's side, and began giving him artificial respirations. For close to three minutes, Ram worked hard, but they all knew it was in vain. The man that created them, the man that was their father, was dead.

Finally Eve had to pull the younger boy back from the dead doctor.

"Ramachandar!" She said forcefully as he tried to fight her. Using his full name got his attention, causing him to look up at her with tears still streaming down his face.

"He's gone..." She said once again just as softly as before. She finally got through to him and it caused the younger boy to break down in full fledged sobs. Gently she led him over to Fiona, letting the boy collapse into her arms.

"We need to get our shit together and get out of here."

Eve took a moment of gathering her wits about her. She left the room without looking back, knowing where she was going. The rest simply followed behind. Even with their grief, they still moved carefully and cautiously, even though Eve was the only one that knew where they were going.

Ten minutes later, and having to backtrack several times, until they found a path that was clear enough for them, she found herself standing in front of a huge vault door. Even though almost everything around them was in some state of collapse, the vault was still perfectly intact. She sighed as she looked once more at their piece of paper. She choked back a sob as she started to punch in the combination. The code on the paper was of the day that she had emerged from the tube that had transformed her from a normal human into the soldier she was now. The tube that had erased her old life, and had re-created her as Eve, commander of the deadliest strike team on the planet.

The two ton door clicked as the locks were pulled back, and the door swung silently open, allowing her entrance to the vault that not only held more of their weapons and their armor, but also all the research notes that Dr. MacLeod ever wrote. She sighed heavily before straightening her shoulders, and walked into the vault, for the first time ever, without the Doctor with her.

She looked around for a moment, before she looked back at the rest of her team. "Get your armor, and a full combat load-out. We still don't know what we will find upstairs, but I want to be ready for anything."

They all nodded as she walked over to the only computer in the small room. She powered it up, knowing that it was running off of its own power source, and would have enough backup power to do what she needed to do.

Glancing back at the note, she logged into the computer, and then navigated to the program she needed. She saw the command she wanted, and stood there staring at it for a moment, before she hit 'enter'. Almost immediately the small room was filled with six small clicks, as their collars unlocked. The other five team members looked at her with shock as she slowly reached up and pulled down the collar that she had worn ever since she had been released. As much as she hated the damned thing, she knew they were necessary. She had seen some of the others, not her team, but others, who had gone insane, and actually tried to attack the doctors. The only thing that saved the good doctors lives, were the collars. Collars that could make even the toughest of them drop to the ground. However, now that they were, at least for now, on their own, they didn't need the collars. Part of her hoped that she would never have to put another one on, but knew that if needed, she would. She then moved over to her own armor and started dressing out. No matter what the future would bring, she would be ready to lead her family through it.

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