The next morning the boys got up, feeling refreshed. It was about nine am so they had gotten plenty of sleep. They saw that their bags had been put into their rooms, so they got toothbrushes and their other toiletries out to take care of their morning business. After taking their showers they headed back to their rooms and got dressed in some clean clothes and headed downstairs. As they reached the bottom of the steps, they could smell breakfast cooking and went to the dining room. Brett was sitting at the table drinking some coffee and reading through several sheets of paper. He looked up and smiled at them.
"Good morning boys. I hope you slept well. Have a seat, breakfast should be right out."
They said good morning and told him that they had slept well. The boys sat down, Jamie sat near Brett with Josh at his side. The others ranged themselves on both sides of the table. Brett was as good as his word as food was brought into the room and placed on the table and the platters were passed around so that the boys could choose what they wanted. There was plenty of food to eat. They were asked what they wanted to drink and their drink orders were quickly filled. The room was filled with the clatter of cutlery on plates and conversation among the boys. Brett watched all of them, but did not intrude. He watched Jamie most of all, hoping that as the week progressed he'd get a chance to get closer to Jamie. When the meal was finished he got their attention.
"Okay boys, we're going back over to the gym to work on your Tai Chi exercises and then get back to work on training your gifts."
They all made their way to the gym where their mentors were already waiting for them. For the next hour they did Tai Chi. The boys were starting to really enjoy it. When the time was up, they drank some water and wiped their faces with towels from a stack nearby. They then headed out with their mentors to get back to training.
Sean worked more with his Emotiv and MYO in Brett's office. He and Brett worked together on learning more hacking skills, but with the two devices, Sean was picking things up easier and his control of the devices and the computers through the devices was becoming much better. Sean began to feel a stronger connection to the computer and the internet than he had prior to using the devices. He could almost feel his mind moving into other computer systems. By the end of the day, he had gotten into many secure websites with little problem. They still did not try anything like NSA, CIA, FBI, or especially the GRA, because those would probably be the most heavily secured networks to hack into and might have users whose job was to watch for unauthorized access from the outside. Brett even had him start accessing the systems of other countries, just to see what he could do. The biggest problem for him, when looking at websites in many other countries, was that unless they were in English, he couldn't understand too much of the contents in them. In the back of his mind he started thinking about the need for a translation program for those sites. One thing he did find from time to time was several porn sites. He ignored them for the most part, but there were some that he marked in his mind to visit later as he wanted to explore them. He made notes in a secured folder on his computer about them so that he could take the time to investigate them further when he had the time.
For the most part Brett left him alone to do what he wanted to do. Sean started checking out translation programs. He found several, most of them required him to enter the info into the program and then it would translate it to English. He found one that he thought was his best bet, and then he began to tweak it. He got the program direct from the company website. Once he had the code, he got to work. When he wasn't working directly with Brett, he worked on his translation program. By the end of the week he had re-written the software so that when he was on a website that was in another language, he would activate his program and it overlaid the website and translated it to English. Brett congratulated him on the reprogramming of the application. He and Sean went over the program and Sean explained what he had done to the program. Because of the work he did on the program, he was able to increase his programming skills by a large margin.
Sean believed that the Emotiv and MYO equipment and his connection to them was what fueled his skills increase. He found when using both of them together whatever he did flowed together easier. At this point he rarely touched the keyboard. Sometimes when Brett looked over from whatever he was working on, all he saw was Sean looking at the screen and waving the arm or making hand movements with the arm that he was wearing the MYO on. Sometimes it almost looked like he was doing sign language. Some of the time the info was flowing by on the screen too fast for Brett to see what it was. Before the end of the week Sean asked Brett if it would be possible to get another MYO device. Brett told him that he would order it and have it sent to his home in Hemet. He told Sean that he should have it sometime next week. Sean thanked him and went back to work.
Gabe took Dakota back to the outside range and this time they worked on Archery; Recurve and compound bows, also a crossbow. He wanted to see if Dakota's gift worked with more primitive weapons than guns. Dakota found that he really loved shooting the bows, the recurve more than the compound. The crossbow was like shooting a rifle only it was a bolt rather than a bullet. He got bored with the crossbow fairly quick, but the other two held his interest until his fingers started getting sore even though he was wearing all the correct equipment, such as finger tabs to protect his fingers. However, his fingers weren't used to shooting a bow yet and had not built up any calluses on his fingertips, so they were pretty sore by the time they finished working with the bow.
They continued to work on his skills during the week until he became proficient with every type of gun that they had access to at the compound. Later in the week, Dakota was matched with George Nim, because he had the best skill in martial arts and several martial arts weapons, such as nunchaku, 3 section staff, bo staff and swords. They found that if Dakota handled the martial arts weapons that were owned by George, he was able to give a good accounting of himself. One of the katanas that George let him use was an extremely well made one. When Dakota used that, he suddenly could do things with it that he had not been able to do with one of the others. His ability with that sword seemed to increase to about the level of ability that George had. As he moved through the exercises that George led him through, his movements were smooth and controlled, like he had been using such a sword for years. When they finished the exercise, George remarked on how well he had done. Dakota said what he always said, 'it just felt right'. George explained that the katana was an old weapon that had belonged to a Samurai of about two or three hundred years ago. They surmised that Dakota had tapped into the ability of that long dead Samurai and it had caused him to be able to move as if he had been studying the sword for many years.
A similar thing happened when he used a Gi that belonged to George. He was better than when he didn't use it. Dakota found that it was harder to make a connection to the user of the Gi and needed a lot of help to gain the skills. It seemed that when using weapons, he connected to the item much better and was able to use it. Hand to hand combat he could perform as if he would be the equivalent of someone who held one of the low middle range belts when he wore George's Gi. With most martial arts weapons he was an advanced student and with the ancient sword he was an expert. That also was the same with knife fighting. Gabe worked with him on that using practice knives and he was better than your average civilian, but he wasn't in the same league as someone who had been trained extensively in using a knife.
Overall they concluded that with hand to hand fighting and hand weapons it was going to take him longer to master them. He learned their use at an increased rate, but he was a student to someone like Nim, who held a black belt. With items that shot something, he excelled quickly and would be rated a Marksman with any of the mechanical type weapons that they had in the armory. One other thing that they found out was that once he had used a weapon that belonged to someone who was good with it, he retained the ability if he switched to another similar weapon. Gabe who was the best as a sniper of all of the men, had the sniper rifle that he liked to use. He had it dialed in to be very accurate. They found that Dakota shot as good with another similar rifle after he had been using Gabe's for a time. It seemed that he somehow absorbed the ability of the user of the weapon and made it his own.
Ian continued to increase his knowledge of the human body. Doc had him focusing on injuries and the complications to be watched for in such injuries. Doc related some of his experiences from his time as an Army medic and with the various trauma reference sources both civilian and military that Doc had access to either online or in books, Ian was getting an excellent grasp of trauma medicine. Throughout the week, Doc had Ian scan each of the men in the compound. Ian found evidence of old injuries on nearly all of the men and he was able to relieve pain in those who had it, like he had done for Doc's back. The most difficult was Brett. His ability did not allow regeneration of the parts that had been removed during surgery or because of an injury, but he was able to do some healing that eased most of the pain that Brett got from his knee and even his limp was lessened a bit after Ian had worked on him. He thanked Ian profusely after that and named him his personal physician from now on.
Logan spent much of his time walking around with Jim. One thing he was asked to do was to try to keep himself open to picking up anything with his precognition ability, but nothing ever manifested. They concluded that it was a chancy at best ability, and the right conditions were not present for it to work to its full potential. They couldn't figure out how to reproduce the conditions necessary to make it work. When it had worked before it was only in connection with some sort of danger and they were not going to deliberately put someone in danger to test it, so Logan tried to just be ready in case he got an inkling of someone in danger.
For his object reading ability, he and Jim made their way throughout the compound and Jim would randomly ask him questions about this item or that item. There was some antique furniture in the house and Jim would ask him what he could pick up about them. Many times he was able to see something about the previous owners of the item while he rested his hands on it. Sometimes this information was entertaining, sort of like living a part of history through someone else's eyes. His ability sharpened in that he could focus better on the object and get better information from an object as the week wore on. It was kind of boring after a while so he and Jim spent time on one of the ranges so he could learn to shoot some of the guns that were onsite. Because he spent so much time doing this, by the end of the week, he learned to be a pretty good shot and became very adept at breaking the guns down and cleaning them. He spent a lot of time with him, Jim, Dakota and Gabe cleaning the guns after they had been used.
Ethan and George continued their training. George kept up with his plan to only speak mind to mind. They continued to work on trying to extend Ethan's range and his ability to break through George's resistance to Ethan's mental probe. George also had him attempt to break through the resistance of several of the other men. The only one who could resist him very long was George. Although he worked hard at it, he could not extend his range beyond the few hundred yards that he could reach at the beginning of the week. George wondered if his range would change as he got older or if he was at the maximum range now and they would be unable to increase it. One thing that George had him try was to see if he could read anything from animals.
They first tried it with some of the horses on the ranch. Ethan found this very difficult. He found that he couldn't 'read' their minds as such, but eventually he could get a slight idea of what they were thinking about. At least he thought he had an idea, but it was never clear. His brain had to find some point of reference to translate what the horse was thinking to figure it out. When he finally was able to make the connection for the point of reference it mostly revolved around food, and running around the pasture. What it did do, was help him get an idea of what an animal's thoughts were like. Later when George asked him to go out in the surrounding forest it helped him zero in on the animals that were there. He never connected with anything smaller than some of the birds. One thing he could do though was more easily find an animal because of this training, but it continued to be difficult to read much from them. The main thing he picked up from them had to do with food. By the end of the week he was also able to pick up something that meant alarm or danger. The first time he got that thought, he was sure that it referred to him as he could also hear the squirrel chittering at the same time as he picked up the 'thought' of alarm that came to him.
Luke and George must have compared notes as Luke had Dylan try to use his ability with and against several of the men. Dylan found some were easier to have their feelings affected than others. When one of the men did well in resisting him, Dylan used his secret weapon, of causing the person to get aroused. This always ended with the guy yelling in surprise and losing his concentration. After the first time Dylan did that, Luke always seemed to be waiting to see if it would come to that and he always knew when Dylan had done that because of the surprised yell that came from the men when he did and he cracked up every time and the man blushed.
Luke also, like George had Ethan, had Dylan try his empathic abilities with the animals. Now here Dylan, after trying to find the right frequency, for want of better word, actually had it a little easier than Ethan had. He was able to get a feeling of what the animal was feeling; hungry, scared, content, worried, etc. Also, he seemed to be able to affect the feelings of the animal, where Ethan had been completely unable to communicate with the animals when he tried. Dylan was able to soothe some scared animals. Toward the end of the week he was even able to coax a squirrel to climb up on his lap and eat some nuts from Dylan's hand. He was eventually able to do the same with birds, but he told Luke that it was much harder. They speculated that maybe it had to do with the size of the brain, which might explain why Ethan had had such a hard time in connecting to the animals with his ability. They thought it may be that since they didn't have a spoken language, at least in an intelligible way that could be understood, and they communicated with their feelings more it was easier for Dylan. So that allowed Dylan to be able to pick up on their feelings better than Ethan could pick up their thoughts.
Another thing that George and Luke worked on was the twin telepathy, as Sean called it in his research, which each couple had. They worked with each pair during the week to see the range and clarity that each couple had. The strongest pair was definitely found to be Ethan and Dylan, probably due to their abilities being communication based. They did several tests using Ethan as a conduit to allow one connected pair to communicate with another pair. For the most part it didn't work very well. Occasionally they could communicate, but only when mentally shouting and after a while that would give Ethan a headache.
Because of their practice with the ability between each pair, their ability to use it became stronger in varying degrees. Again Ethan and Dylan had it easiest, along with having the greatest range of about one hundred meters back and forth. Sean and Dakota had the least in that they usually had to be touching to be able to hear each other easily. If they were more than a few feet apart, they got bits and pieces at best. The other two pairs had ranges of ten to twenty meters. However, when any of them held hands or something like that with their partner, they were easily able to have a mental conversation. With some practice, they were able to all hold hands and Ethan found that he could somehow make it so that they could all talk to each other in their minds. It was if they were in room and were having a normal conversation, except this was all telepathic. Ethan found that when he did such a thing, he usually felt tired afterward and sometimes had a little headache. They figured it had to do with his ability being used to boost everyone else's ability to talk to each other.
Jamie and Patrick continued to work on his lifting ability as to how much he could lift. Patrick figured it would be like strength training in a gym. So instead of having him try to lift as much as he could, he had him lift the smaller bulldozer over and over, as if he was lifting weights. He would have Jamie lift it and set it down and lift again. He would have him continue to do that over and over until Jamie started to feel the continuous strain of lifting it over and over. They would take a break and then get back to it, only this time Patrick would have Jamie pick it up and move it a few feet away and back, this made him have to hold up for a longer period of time. After the next break, they worked on his precision, stacking the nails to the ceiling. As the week progressed Jamie did get better on his precision in keeping the nails stacked end to end, but never quite got them all the way to ceiling, although he was able to get them stacked about fifteen feet high. On one of the last days, Patrick had to duck out of the way, when Jamie lost control of the stack and nails rained down everywhere. Jamie was able to push any nails coming his way with his TK, so he didn't need to get out of the way. Also by the end of the week, they again attempted to see if he could lift more. He picked up the back hoe and when he lifted the bulldozer as well, it was only a little easier, but still a strain. From that, they figured that he might get stronger at it with more practice or maybe as he got older. This was all new territory with them, so they weren't sure.
Josh and Aldo made their way out to the bunker area to do their work. There were several different things that they worked on. One of them was trying to cause the air around a thermometer to heat up and register on the thermometer. Aldo brought out one of those large thermometers that have large numbers on it and a large bulb at the bottom. The top of the thermometer showed one hundred and fifty degrees. He hung it from the wall of bricks at the back of the bunker. He and Josh stepped back and then he had Josh visualize making heat waves in the air around the thermometer, like you see on asphalt on a hot day in the summer.
Aldo also had him imagine the red line in the thermometer rising until it went to the top and then kept going higher until the thermometer burst from the top. Josh centered himself and then focused on it.
After a short time, the gauge slowly started rising. As it rose higher, they started to actually see heat waves rising from the bricks around the thermometer. Then the air near them also started to get warm and they had to take off the jackets that they had worn up to the bunker. They stepped back from the thermometer as it started to get real warm in the area. The red tinted alcohol on the thermometer was still rising. Both of them started to sweat a bit as the temperature began to rise in the enclosed room, just as if they were standing outside and the sun was beating down on them. Josh kept his focus on the temperature gauge and it kept rising. Soon it was at the top of the gauge and Aldo had gone to open the bunker door to let some cool air in. The two of them had also backed up near to the door, because they were getting real warm near the thermometer. Suddenly there was a crack and the red tinted alcohol in the thermometer shot out of the top of it, under pressure. Aldo immediately had Josh start bringing the temperature back down. Josh wasn't sure how to do that, but he remembered the candle flame and slowly he was able to bring the temperature back down. He found it a lot harder to lower the temperature, then to raise it.
Aldo cheered in triumph and clapped Josh on the back. Josh gave him a smile of triumph. After a short break, they got back to work. Aldo led him over to the piece of equipment next to the wall in back. He explained to Josh that it was a kiln. He opened the door and showed Josh the brick lined inside. Aldo explained that they were going to see if Josh could bring the temperature up high enough to melt metals. Josh was skeptical, but Aldo reminded him that he had lit the fuse on the explosive and that took a temperature over one thousand degrees. He told Josh that they would start with the easiest metals to melt, like solder, tin, lead, zinc and see how it goes. Josh thought about what he had said about the cannon fuse and agreed to give it a try.
Aldo put a coil of solder in a ceramic heat resistant container in the kiln before closing the door. He explained that it would probably get too hot with the door open. He had Josh look through the large, thick window in the door and try to bring that temperature up to melt the solder. He and Aldo looked through the window. Very little light made it inside the kiln with the door shut. After trying for awhile, Josh turned to Aldo and said that he couldn't see the solder. Aldo opened the door and told him that if it got to hot, to stop. Josh nodded and began to focus on the solder. He once again thought about the thermometer and brought the temperature up inside the kiln. They could feel the heat rise in front of them and Aldo stepped back. Josh started to feel the heat as well, but then an idea came to him. He remembered the candle wick and how he lit it by raising the temperature on the wick. He focused that heat down onto the solder itself. The heat from the kiln stopped radiating out towards the two of them. Aldo thought that Josh had lowered the heat down. He was about to have Josh take a break when suddenly the coil of solder reached its melting point and the entire roll collapsed into its liquid form. Josh grinned with satisfaction.
Aldo congratulated him and they took a break. While Josh was drinking some water, Aldo donned some thick fireproof gloves and took the container outside and dumped out the melted solder. Josh was a little sweaty and thirsty from the effort of melting the solder. After the break they tried again, with lead this time. Aldo brought out a small lead ingot and placed it into the container. Josh stepped up again so that he could see the ingot. Again he focused on the ingot. This time however, he kept the focus on the ingot instead of letting it fill the air in the kiln and get too hot when you stood in front of it. He tried for a long time, and sweat started to run down the side of his face. Finally he had to stop. He was starting to feel a little dizzy and he told Aldo that his head hurt a little. Aldo nodded and told him that they would quit for the day and head back to the house. For the rest of the week they continued to work on Josh's ability to melt the metals. By the end of the week, he was able to melt up the lead, but could not melt the next metal, zinc.
They made sure during the week that they did not just focus on training the boys, but they also did as many fun things as the boys wanted. Sometimes they rode horses or ATV's around the property. One of the days they went across the lake to the Snow Summit ski resort, that even though it was late in the season, it was still cold enough at night for them to make snow, so the resorts had some of the runs still open. Some of the boys had been snowboarding in the past, while their parents skied, but most of them had not done any of that before. So Brett arranged for a private lesson for the boys. Even though Dakota had never skied before, he of course picked it up easily and was soon zooming down the beginner runs easily. Not all of them got it easily, but they did seem to learn well enough. The lesson that they took guaranteed that they would be riding down from top of the hill, by the end of the day or they would get further instruction at no cost to them, until they could successfully make it down from the top. None of them had that problem and were riding their boards from the top of the run with little problem. Dakota of course had no problem and was soon trying out some of the harder runs when the lesson was over. The lesson was in the morning and by the afternoon they were snowboarding by themselves. Some of the younger guys of Brett's security detail went along with the boys, some as skiers and some as boarders. Brett stayed down at the lodge patio deck where he could act as the base station for the boys and make sure that they were kept hydrated and fed during the day.
At the boy's request, Gabe and his men started teaching them self defense. For this George was designated the sensei, since he had the most martial arts training and had experience as a martial arts instructor. Dakota of course was the best student, but the others did their best as well. Because of their eidetic memories, it did not take them long to remember how to make a move, however, muscle memory was something else and they would take much longer. Some people say that you have to repeat a movement nearly five thousand times before it becomes ingrained in your muscle memory. So the boys have ways to go for that to work for them, except Dakota.
During the week, Brett was heartened to see that he was slowly breaking through Jamie's defenses and Jamie began to warm to him. One of the evenings after dinner, Jamie asked Brett about his mom when they were younger. The two talked for some time. Josh saw them talking and stayed back and left them alone. He wanted for Jamie to take the time to get to know his father.
The end of the week drew near and they all had learned quite a bit about their abilities. There was still much to learn and they would continue the training over the next several months when they had a free weekend to spend up at the compound. Brett had talked to them and they made plans to spend more time up here in the mountains during the summer after school was out.
For some of them the work during the week had caused them to sharpen their skills by quite a bit. Sean's computer skills were at the point that Brett could teach him nothing else. Brett told him to not attempt any sites with high security, but anything else was fair game. He bid Sean not to do anything to break the law, like stealing from banks or anything like that. Dakota finally believed that he did have an ability of some sort. There was too much evidence for him to refute. So he finally quit arguing with Sean that he didn't have any gift.
Another thing that happened is that they boys really had a chance to spend time with their boyfriends. The connections became stronger when the spent time together. They also felt a similar, but not as strong a connection with their friends, but still a connection. Something just felt right when they were together.
On Saturday morning, they had everything packed and ready to go home. They gathered one last time for breakfast and unlike most of the other meals, their mentors joined them. They had a good meal and there was a lot of talking between the boys and the mentors. After the meal Brett stood up and got their attention.
"Well, here we are at the end of a week of lots of hard work. I'm very proud of you boys and what you have accomplished. I look forward to spending more time with you boys and seeing what else you can do. If there is anything I can ever do, don't hesitate to contact me. You all have my number and the number of your mentor. If you have a question, please ask. We'll all do our best to help you find the information that you need, although I doubt you will need my help much. Sean here can probably find any information that you need faster and better than I can now."
Sean beamed at the praise. Dakota leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek which caused a reddening of his cheeks.
"I hope to see you in the next couple of weeks up here for more training of your gifts. We may not always have all of you up here at the same time, but I swear we will always bring you up with your partners. I will not break that connection. I have been and will be talking to your parents about arrangements as we continue the training. I do want to caution you about using your abilities openly. Please be careful. The GRA is still out there and they would love to get their hands on you boys."
"What are you going to do about them?"
Brett looked at Sean.
"Nothing at the moment, other than keeping an eye on them with my friends and other connections that I have. Hopefully I can expose Archer and his whole operation so that he is taken down hard, but remember, Sean, you are not to go searching for anything on them. Is that understood?"
"Good, it would kill me if anything happened to you guys. I guess that's it for now. Have a safe ride home and we'll see you back up here soon."
Everyone got up and they headed to the front door. The boys picked up their backpacks and carried them out to the SUV's parked out front. The men put the boy's bags in the back and they loaded four boys to each SUV. Also in the back was Sean's new workstation. They each said goodbye to their mentors and got in the SUVs. Before Jamie got in with Josh, he walked over and gave his dad a hug. He didn't say anything, he just hugged him. Brett returned his hug tightly and kissed him on top of the head before he let him go. At the door of the SUV, Jamie turned and smiled as he waved goodbye to Brett.
Brett stood in front of the house and watched them until they were out of sight before he went inside and headed to his office to work. He needed to talk to Mac and see if he had anything new about the GRA.
The boys talked quietly on the hour and a half long ride down the mountain. They all agreed that they had had a good time up on the mountain even with all the hard work that they had done to hone their gifts. Occasionally, instead of audible speech they used their twin telepathy to talk, when they wanted to keep something from being overheard by the drivers of the SUVs. They were more than ready to get out of the vehicles by the time they arrived home. The boys were dropped off at their homes, one at a time. At Dakota's home the driver led him around to the back of the SUV and he handed Dakota a long, black hard sided case. Dakota was curious and opened it to see what it was. Inside was a takedown recurve bow with all the bells and whistles that any competition archer would love to have. There was a note inside as well.
When I saw how much you enjoyed shooting my recurve, I ordered this for you so that you had your own. Keep practicing. I have always found it to be calming to me, when shooting a bow and arrow. You don't have the noise of a gun going off to distract you. Just the sound of the bowstring thrumming when you release an arrow at the target. I look forward to more time working with you.
Dakota ran his hands over the parts of the bow that were held securely in the foam cutouts inside the box before closing it. Inside the box was also a quiver with twelve arrows in it. He turned to the driver.
"Please tell Gabe thanks. I'll thank him myself when I see him next time."
The man nodded with a smile and reached into the back behind all of the boxes for Sean's system and pulled out a black messenger bag to hand to him as well.
"Mister MacLeod has one of these for each of you. It's a fully loaded laptop. It has everything you could need for school and for whatever you would need for anything else. He wants to make sure you guys all have everything that you need to be successful in whatever you do."
"Wow, tell him thanks."
The man nodded as Dakota closed and latched the case, gave Sean a quick kiss and then headed inside his home. At Sean's, house, Ian and Logan who were in the car with him, along with the driver, helped Sean carry all the boxes that held his new system. They took it all into his bedroom and placed the boxes on his bed. There was a new addition to his room. Where his old smaller computer desk had stood there was a brand new, larger sized one that would easily hold the new system. His Dad and Mom had followed them upstairs to his room.
"Brett called me and told me that you would need a bigger desk for your new workstation"
"Thanks Dad. Wait'll you see it. It is majorly awesome."
His dad rubbed his hands together.
"I can't wait."
Sean said goodbye to his friends and he and his dad got to work on putting all the components together while the others left for home. At the other homes each of the boys were given their new laptops and for Jamie there was one other thin package with his name on it. He opened it once he got up to his bedroom at Dylan's house. Inside was a framed picture. It was a younger Brett and a younger version of his mom. They were sitting on a blanket in a park under a tree. His mom was holding a baby that had to be him, as he had seen a couple of baby pictures of him that his mom had. He supposed those pictures were in the storage unit with the rest of the things that came out of their house here when Alma tried to steal them. He looked at it for a few minutes before placing it on the bedside table next to the picture of him and his mom at Squaw Valley.
The boys related to their parents pretty much everything that had happened while they were up at Brett's compound. At Dakota's house, he showed them the bow that Gabe had given him. He took it out and assembled it. His Dad really liked it. They started looking for a place where they could go and shoot it.
At Sean's house he and his dad wasted no time getting to work on putting the workstation together. His mom just gave Sean a hug and kiss, and then got out of the way. She knew how those two could be when it came to building computers. Once everything was hooked up and the boxes were stored in the garage, Sean showed his dad the MYO and the Emotiv and how they worked.
"I've seen some stuff online about these things. I know the Emotiv has been out for a little while, but the MYO isn't supposed to be out to the public until next year."
"Mister MacLeod said that he had friends that got this for him to try out. He gave this to me and he's sending me another one next week. I think that with two of them I can really fly on the computer."
"Let's see how they work."
Sean proceeded to give his dad a demonstration. He also showed him the language program that he reworked. His dad was very impressed when he saw that Sean hardly touched the keyboard at all when using the two devices. For some of it, he had no idea how Sean accomplished the task. All he could do was watch his son in astonishment. Sean was careful not to go anywhere that would freak his dad out. He stayed on safe sites that did not require any hacking skills.
At each of the other houses, they had a long talk about what they had done and what they had accomplished. The boys also learned a bit more about how they came about; the experiment, the fire at the lab and their escape, and how it was in the early days while they were doing what they could to keep a low profile and stay below the GRA's radar. The boys learned a lot about their parents that night. Josh learned more about his mom when she was young. It was hardest for Jamie, because he could only hear what Dylan's parents could tell him from their perspective as friends of Kathy and Brett. He and his dad had talked a couple of times while he was up there and that helped some. He was beginning to realize that his dad was alright, there was still a little bit of worry about being made to move up there, but he was pretty sure that his dad wouldn't force him and that made him happy. Being far away from Josh would not be any fun.
Later that night, Sean decided to do some investigating into those porn sites that he had made note of. He had saved their URL's on his computer, so he could get back to them. He had not noted them for his own prurient interests; it had been because he had seen something about those sites that bothered him. Some of the glimpses that he allowed himself showed him pictures of kids and he wanted to get a little deeper into them and see what that was about. He got to the first one and easily hacked into the site. He soon found out that feeling that he'd had was not wrong. As he explored the site he found what he suspected. It was a site for child porn. There were boys and girls, some pretty young, shown performing sex acts. He left the site and for the next hour explored the other sites that had given him the same feelings. Nearly all of them seemed to be based in Eastern Europe and Russia. There were some closer to home, here in the US and in a few other countries, but the greatest majority were in Russia and Eastern Europe.
He went offline and began to write a program on his computer. It took him several hours that evening and more time in the morning after he woke up to finish it. He had a look of grim determination as he worked on it. Dakota came over around noon to see if he wanted to do something. He declined and explained what he was about to do. Dakota wanted to see what he was talking about, so Sean showed him some of the tamer sites. Dakota got as angry about it as Sean did and he stayed to watch Sean at work. Saturday afternoon Sean was ready and got to work. He first set up a series of relays so that no one could trace the attack back to him. He brought up the program he had written and started entering the URL's of all of the sites that he had found. He knew that there were more out there and he was going to hunt them down and give them the same treatment. Once everything was set, he gave the command to execute. The virus that he had built went like a guided missile to each of the computers and servers that controlled those sites.
At several places around the world evidence of Sean's attack was felt within an hour after his attack began. The computer techs that kept the system up started getting minor errors. When they fixed one, another one popped up somewhere else. They spent the next hour chasing the errors trying to fix them. At the end of that time, the computer applications just died and all the data on the hard drives was completely erased. All over the world subscribers to those sites lost signal and could not get it back. They tried to contact the company to complain and kept getting undeliverable mail errors bouncing their email back at them. Those who had more than one browser on their computers tried to get to the website that way and got the good 'ol 404 error, 'Website not found'.
At the locations where the websites were located, there were some very frantic people trying to recover data. They pulled the hard drives out and tried to install them into another computer or server, but there was nothing left on the hard drives. They were blank, as if they had just come from the factory. There was no data on them, they were completely blank. As if someone had used the old DOS command FDISK, what people used to call "Fuck Disk". All the hard drives were nicely formatted. They also found that any computers connected to them as hot spares were also wiped out. So all the data, and in some cases several years' worth of data, was just gone as if it had never been.
There were some very angry people there and because of that, the heads of some of the organizations made a few people disappear that night, never to be seen again. They had to get back in operation and it would take some time. Some of the images and movies had been saved in other locations, and some of the more careful sites would be able to get up at least on a limited basis. However, there was one other thing that they did not know about as part of this. Sean had written two programs. One was the virus targeting the websites. The other had another purpose.
There were several law enforcement organizations that were watching these websites to try and find out where they were located so that they could take them down. When the websites that they knew about and were monitoring suddenly went offline, they were taken by surprise as well. Sean's second program went out to several of these organizations as an anonymous email, listing the geographic locations of these websites and attached was plenty of evidence that pointed out what they were doing. Some of those organizations were slow on the uptake and their targets got away. For those that understood what was going on, they moved as quickly as they could and found the locations. At some of the locations there was filming going on as the site tried to get a new inventory of films and pictures onto the new servers so that they could get back in business. A few of the sites were in contact with each other because they were owned by the same boss. So they knew that a number of their sites had been hit. They thought it was some law enforcement group that had accomplished the feat, and because of that they had moved their operations to another location. It was the independents that were gobbled up by the various law agencies. They did find evidence at some of the locations that it had been the correct location. A lot of kids were saved by the arrival of the officers of the various agencies.
The local newspapers made a small mention of international sex crime ring that had been broken. When Sean read about it, he smiled in satisfaction. That evening he did some checking on the net and found that there was evidence that some of the people running some of the sites had gotten away. He found this out by hacking into several of the law enforcement websites and reading through some of the crime reports. He was glad for the kids and hoped that they would have a better life after what they had been through.
Both the Law Enforcement agencies and the bad guys tried to figure out who had done it. The criminal element tried to do so through informants in the various agencies, but the word got back to them, that no one knew who had caused the destruction of the sites. At that point they learned that someone had sent the location of their sites to the law agencies and that was why they had gotten raided. Only those places that had a mole in the local agency got the word in time so that they could get away. Those sites that didn't have the warning were taken out.
The bad guys couldn't run a trace since their files were wiped out. They were now trying to make their servers better protected. The agencies had tried to get their people to trace the email that was sent to them, but they kept following ghost trails through the web that led nowhere. Sean had covered his tracks extremely well. A large number of secret hacker groups, were applauding the efforts of whoever did it and also asking each other if they were responsible. Back in the east coast, Mac heard about the porn site attack and did some investigating into it. No one knew anything and he was very impressed at how many sites were taken down at about the same time. Like everyone else he could find out nothing on whoever had done that. He worried that they would find out who did it and maybe go after them. He hoped whoever did it, stayed safe.
That Sunday the families gathered together at Eric's house, since he had the largest yard and could easily accommodate everyone. The boys had the pool and the big yard to play in. While the boys had stayed up in the mountains the parents had gotten together a couple of times to rekindle their friendships and catch up some more. They talked a lot about what they had learned about their boys and about the GRA. They were worried about what the agency would do if they found the boys. They all were okay with the boys being paired up. Those that knew about the relationships between their sons told the others how they had come to suspect it. One of the biggest things that they talked about was how close that they had been in town and had never run into each other by accident, but their busy schedules probably had something to do with it and they resolved to do what they could to keep their schedules from interfering with getting back together.
Eric was, of course, included because he was now Josh's guardian and they wanted him to feel welcome. He did not have a lot in common with the others. He was much more comfortable with people like Gabe, who were ex-military, than the others who were doctors and scientists. He found that the one he got to know the best of the parents was Dakota's dad. He still got their names confused. He noticed that when they were together, they used their original names and were comfortable with that arrangement. He hoped it would get easier as time went on. He was a parent now and there were things that he had to do to fit in the mold. Occasionally he thought about taking Gabe up on his offer to work with him. It was tempting, but he wasn't sure yet.
The day was a clear day, with great spring weather. Everyone had a great time and left in the early evening as the boys had to be ready to head back to school the next day.
A few days later, Mac and Brett were talking and Mac asked Brett if he had heard about the mysterious hacker that took down dozens of child porn sites and alerted various police agencies to the locations where the sites were housed.
"Brett, did you hear about the mysterious hacker or hacker group that took down a bunch of online child sex ring websites?"
"No, when'd this happen?"
"A couple of days ago. From what I've heard, whoever or whichever group, although no one is claiming responsibility, took down a bunch of sites. Wiped their hard drives completely clean, all data unrecoverable and at the same time, sent location information and enough evidence to various police agencies so that those who were running the sites, are going to be looking at some bare walls for decades. They rescued a whole bunch of kids that were being used in the filming too."
"Wow, that's pretty great."
In the back of his mind, Brett was starting to wonder about something.
"You say no one has claimed responsibility?"
"Nope, and I wouldn't blame them. A bunch of the sites were in Eastern Europe and Russia and those people just don't like someone messing with their money flow. From what I've read a lot of people lost a lot of money."
"Yeah, I don't blame the person either. I wouldn't want to have those people looking for me either."
"So, how did the reunion go?"
"Huh, oh yeah. It went pretty well. They were all surprised of course, but I found that we were still friends. The boys are outstanding. They are top of the class in their school."
"So your experiment could be considered a success. You had told me that that was the result you were hoping for."
"Yeah, I hadn't been sure that I was right when we started, but now that I've met them and heard of how well they are doing in school, it appears that it did work out as I expected. Another thing that they all have is an eidetic memory. They remember pretty much everything they read. They are an amazing bunch."
"Congratulations. I'm glad it's worked out. What about your son….James?"
"Jamie, he prefers Jamie. That's what Kathy always called him, even when he was a baby. He's good too. We're still….exploring our relationship. I'm letting him control the pace. It was hard at first, I think he's a little afraid of me or not sure or something, but I think I'm starting to break through to him. When he went back down the hill, he gave me a hug goodbye. I really want him to be up here with me, but I can't take him away from his friends and bring him up here where he would be more isolated. I've been thinking of buying a home down in Hemet to be closer to him and spend part of my time down there and part up here."
"Actually, that sounds like a great idea. You should. If you're nearer to him, then the two of you can get to know each other again. It really sounds like things are working out for you, well for all of you guys. I assume your friends are going to keep their current names and not change to their original ones?"
"Yeah, at least for now. Speaking of which, have you heard anything more on the GRA?"
"Not really. Their work is still ongoing as far as we can tell. Evidence points to a secret facility where some of the work is being done, but I haven't located it. They still have the hidden office in National Academy of Sciences Building in Downtown DC, but only some emails that we have intercepted from Marcus Kelly to his boss, Archer have alluded to any other places. So maybe those two, but we still can't find the other place."
"Well, I'll do some searching myself and see what I can come up with."
"Too bad we don't know who the super hackers are, maybe if we could get them to work with us and help us take down the GRA once and for all."
"Yeah, that would be good. Well, talk to you later Mac. Thanks for all the help. I'll let you know if I find anything out."
Brett checked the time, it was lunch time and he thought maybe he should talk to Hal about having him look around the area for a house to buy. He wanted it close to the boys, especially Jamie. He picked up the phone and made the call.