Castle Roland


by Kyle Aarons


Chapter 1

Posted: N/A

BEARS 97: Bureau Exceptional Adolescents Rockies Squadron 97


Arctic Trooper

Age 48

Class 2

Cold Immunity (4), Ice Armor(3) , Ice Bolts (3), weather manipulation (2)

Outdoorsman-ship(4), Unarmed fighting (3) Endurance(2), Strength (1)


Jade Witch

Age 45

Class 3

Auto Spells(4), {Spells: Shocking fog(4), stink burst(4), stink cloud(3), Shocking zaps(3), Fog banks(1)}, mist form(1) Force field (magic) (1)

Healing (3), Enhanced Flexibility (2), Coordination (1)

Cadets: (Male)

Josh Stellman (1)

Age 14

Class 4

Telepathy(4), Telekinesis (3), Mental Healing (3), Teleport (3), Mind Spear(2)

Toughness (4), Strength(3), Reflexes (3), Intelligence (2), Unarmed (1)

Tanner (3)

Age 13

Class 3

Suppress fire (4), Heat generated flight (3), Heat wave (3), Sparks(2)

Ambush Sense (3), Healing (2), Coordination (1),

Rex (4)

Age 13

Class 3

Animal communication(3), Retractable fangs(2), Retractable claws(4),

Endurance(5), Toughness (4), Strength (4), Senses all (3), Reflexes (2)

Colt (7)

Age 12

Class 5

Electrical Absorption/release (5), Electrical invulnerability (5), Electrical Control (4), Electrical bolts (4), Electrical Flight (4)

Reflexes (4), Coordination(3), Strength (3), Unarmed Fighting(4)

Logan (8)

Age 12

Class 4

Mystical [Chi]: [Gloom Armor] (4), [Gloom Blade] (4), [Gloom Arrows] (3), Light Blast (3)

Coordination (5), Blade (4), Reflexes (4), Flexibility(4), Strength (3), Unarmed (3), Archery (2)

Garret Krammer (10)

Age 11

Class 2

Basic Magic: Auto Spells (4), Sorcery Powers (4)

Nunchaku fighting (4), Unarmed (3), Reflexes (2),

Cadets (Female)

Eldora (2)

Age 14

Class 3

Shape Shifter: Tiger(4), Cobra(4), Deer (3), Falcon(3), Porcupine(3), Venom spit (2), Basic Plant Control (1)

Strength (3), healing (4), Senses all (5)

Valda (5)

Age 13

Class 2

Wood form (Shape (4) Armor (3)) Thorn Toss (3)

Sight (3), Strength (3)

Skye (6)

Age 12

Class 5

Magma Balls(5): Exhausting, Geode Skin(4), Crystal Fist(4), Spires(3), Crystal Shard Burst(3), Mud Stone(2),

Strength (5), Reflexes (3), Endurance (3), Recover (1)

Gwyn (9)

Age 11

Class 4

Force Whip(4), Auto Spells(3), Wind Gust (3), Wind Flight (2), Force Dome (2)

Recovery (3), Coordination(2), Reflexes (2)

Level Classifications: Improved (1), Enhanced (2), Heightened (3), Superior (4), Extreme (5)

Rex rolled over as his uncle lightly shook him awake. He blinked his eyes a couple of times noting it was very dark out. He rubbed his hand through his thick brown hair and took a sniff of the cold air in the cabin. "It's too early to get up and it's still snowing."

His uncle snickered, "Yeah, you're right on both accounts. The weather came in a bit early; it has been coming down basically all night."

"Great," Rex Groaned, "So now you have to go in early and I have to walk to school."

His uncle yanked the pillow from under Rex's head and tossed it back down in the boy's face, "No, you lazy lump, school is cancelled according to the radio. Looks like all of Flathead and Jefferson County schools decided to give up and let you all out of your last couple of days of school before winter break. It's already been called for tomorrow too, probably because it's supposed to snow until well after dark tomorrow."

Rex grabbed the pillow and pulled it back under his head, "Awesome, don't have to put up with the Randle twins for three full weeks." He paused and glanced up, "So why do I have to get up?"

"You don't, but I wanted to give you the good news and enjoy how cranky you'd get when I woke you up at oh-dark-thirty like us real working folks do. Besides, I just got called in to go to our upper camp, so I will be gone for at least four days which means good overtime and maybe a decent Christmas present or two for you for the first time in a couple of years."

Rex sat up, "Don't waste it on me. Get yourself something."

His uncle sat on the bed and gave the boy a hug, "Hey, you are not and never will be a waste; stop putting yourself down. You know how much I hate that."

"Yeah, well, you wouldn't have to spend anything on me if I had saved mom and dad…"

His uncle thumped him hard on his forehead, "Rex, you were ten, and just starting to get your gifts. You couldn't control what few abilities you had even when given time with a government trainer and were concentrating let alone when the accident happened. Now I am going to tell you this one more time and I want you to let it sink in and stay. Your parents' deaths were not your fault. It was an auto accident… an accident… Now say it!"

Rex's head dropped as he whispered, "an accident."

"No, say it without the guilt!"

Rex took a deep breath looked into his Uncle's eyes and forced his voice to be strong. "It was an accident."

His uncle wrapped him in a huge hug and kissed the top of his thick mop of hair. "Better buddy, much better. Now if you would just start to believe it, your life would be a bit better."

"My life would be better if I was normal!"

"Maybe now, maybe even five years from now, but eventually your gifts, your abilities, will make a huge difference and you will be glad God blessed you with them. All those morons you go to school with tease you because they wish they had half of what you do. Now forget about them. You have a trip to plan and gear to get ready. I stuck a fifty in your pack for the trip, I hope it is enough."

Rex jumped up and pulled his camping gear out from under the bed, found the fifty dollar bill and shoved it back in his uncle's hand. "No way, I earned enough money for the trip by getting rid of old lady Jackson's skunk problems and Mr. Hummel's raccoon infestation…"

His uncle hardened, "Rexie, I don't give a damn how much money you earned, I am basically abandoning you again for the fifth time in the last six months. Now take this." He shoved the bill back into Rex's hand, "I already feel horrible about how you have had to live. At least let me do what I can for you. Besides, the new axe handle you got me saved me a pretty penny because I thought I'd have to buy a brand new axe for around here."

Rex finally crunched the bill up in his hand and nodded, "Thanks Uncle Kevin."

"You're welcome. And feel free to use the cabin as a staging area for the trip. Your buddies can all sack here for the next couple of days if you want."

Rex's attitude changed as his face lit up into a huge smile, "Awesome, thanks!"

His uncle nodded and smiled, "You're most welcome. So all you have to do is tend the fire. I just stuck a log in the fireplace so it should warm up in here fairly soon." He moved to the door. "OK you're on own again kiddo."

"I'll be fine."

"I know… Oh, I know you will, but just a reminder. If Tanner does come over, make sure you put down the extra anti-fire junk on the floor. I really don't want the government to have to replace a section again. Their workmanship sucks."

Rex flopped back on his back with a moan. "Come on Uncle Kevin, that was almost a year ago. It will never happen again!"

"Yeah, well, next time it does, you will be the one ripping out the floor and replacing it with me."

"No way." Rex responded, "If it should happen again, which it won't, I'll have Valda take care of it."

"She'd better do better work with it than she did the front door when Skye slammed it a month or so ago, or you will get a crash course in floor replacement. That door still looks like it was hung by a three year old."

"I'll have her touch it up sometime over the break. She was in a hurry. The axe handle is her work too, you know."

The man picked up the axe and looked it over, "No, to be honest I didn't. Valda really does have talent when she focuses, doesn't she?"

"Yeah, she's great." Rex grinned as he tried to hide a bit of a blush.

"So when are you going to invite her over so I can actually meet this dream girl of yours."

"UNCLE KEVIN!" Rex half roared half screamed.

The boy grabbed his pillow to throw it only to see the front door was already closing. Fighting back his embarrassment, he finally let out a long breath of air, rolled back over and started digging through his BEARS pack. After a few moments, he found his two-way and dialed in the general frequency. "Hey, anyone else unlucky enough to be awake?"

A response came back almost instantaneously from the youngest kid in BEARS 97, "Yeah, mom just woke me to give me the great news. Do you think we'll still have the camping trip?"

Rex snickered, "Garret, Arctic Trooper is immune to cold, what do you think?"

The boy's mom's voice came over as she grabbed the radio from her son, "In this weather?"

Rex rolled his eyes as he forced himself to keep a nice tone in his voice, "Yes ma'am, no matter the weather, no matter what other circumstances are going on, we go out for training when scheduled. The only time we don't go is if we are being punished for misuse of powers or one of the government doctors cuts us for medical reasons."

There was a bit of a pause before Garret's dad picked up the radio. "What if we don't want him to go?"

Before the man could let go of the radio Rex heard a, "Come on dad!"

Rex nodded in satisfaction, at the fact the newest squadron member was not trying to wuss out. He figured he would try to help. "It's entirely up to you Mr. and Mrs. Krammer, but if he doesn't go on all scheduled trips and training sessions, the Government will not always pay for accidental damages he causes. I have seen a couple of other magic gifted kids do some serious damage and they were only classified as class ones, Garret is a solid class two now, and may even be a class three by the time his abilities fully kick in."

He let the two parents dwell on that for a second before he added in, "Besides, Jade Witch is not going to be happy if she is out there without the only boy in our squadron with full magical abilities. She is not one I would want on my bad side just to protect Garret form a little snow."

"A little snow?" The father responded with a bit of a nervous voice, "I'm not sure we'll be able to get him into town if the snow keeps up like this for the next day and a half, let alone to the rally point at the lake."

Rex's upper lip twisted up in a satisfied smirk knowing by the tone Mr. Krammer was now far more worried about the Squadron's adult executive officer than his own son. "Not a problem, sir, I am pretty close to where we are going to meet up and my Uncle said everyone can bunk here for the next two nights. If worse comes to worse, I'll carry both Garret's gear and mine to the pick-up point and he can walk in the trail I make. I have the strength and endurance to plow though an ice age if need be, at least that is what Arctic Trooper told me last year."

"Well, that isn't a bad idea I guess…" Mr. Krammer's voice cut off as Mrs. Krammer grabbed the radio again, "Is it really safe at your place, what if someone tries to hurt him or Garret makes a mistake with his… his… um …powers or something?"

"Ma'am, I am sure Joel will be here as will Colt and me, maybe even Tanner and Logan. Part of joining the squadron is for all of us more advanced members to help the new ones. He'll make mistakes, but we are more equipped and ready to deal with them than anyone else, cause we all messed up and broke things, smashed things, ripped doors off of hinges, and much much worse. We'll take care of him and to be totally honest, no one in their right mind would try to harm any of us as long as at least one of the others are around. No one messes with just one BEARS97 cadet, they mess with all of us."

"You sound so sure…"

"I am ma'am. Trust me, we stick together and protect each other. Garret will find middle school much better than grade school because all of us will be there with him next year. He will be teased some, but there will be no ganging up on him like there is in the grade school, because if they do, they know there are nine others of us who will make sure it doesn't happen again."

"OK." Garret's dad responded after a long sigh. "Just tell us what to bring and where to bring him."

"Well, the best thing to do is take highway 424 and turn west on McMannany then south on Derris to Sheep. Radio me when you get close and I'll meet you at Sherman and Sheep cause my cabin is back in the woods a bit but not all that far from there and it is easier to walk in unless you have heavy tires and 4 wheel drive. And like I already said, I'll be able to carry what he can't."

"What should he bring?" His mom asked sounding a little less hesitant, but far from sure about the whole camping trip.

"All his BEARS issued gear and an extra change of clothing for here. Since this is his first winter trip, he'll get some winter gear from Jade Witch so you don't have to worry about heavy camping junk. It's a good idea to send some cash, cause they will open the BEARS store before we go too."

Rex paused and let a bit of sadness slip into his voice not realizing he had even done so. "Yeah, and if he wants to eat something other than canned stuff while he stays with me, he better bring some extra food, cause we don't have much here at the moment."

"We'll swing by the store before we drop him off then." His dad responded, "I'll have him there in an hour or two, before the roads get really bad."

"Sounds good to me."

Garret's voice came back over the radio a couple of minutes later, "Thanks Rex."

"Hey, no sweat. Remember our primary rule."

"Yeah, no matter what we are a team."

"Yup, and now you finally get a chance to see we mean it. See you soon, and it'd be kind of cool if you could figure out a way to let your folks bring your new X Box and some games."

"I didn't think you had power."

"Uncle Kevin let me buy a small generator with the money I got from Fish and Wildlife for getting some black bears to move out of the Flathead Lake Camp Ground. Its ready to go and I have a full can of fuel and Josh's old TV."

"Awesome! I'll grab my Box."

Rex nodded in some satisfaction as he looked at his radio. When no other voices came across, he shrugged, figuring the rest of the squadron was still sound asleep in their beds, their parents letting them sleep in. He pulled himself out of bed and tossed another couple of logs into the fireplace, then stuck a log on the embers left from the night before in the wood burning stove on the far side of the cabin. With a couple of hard exhales of breath, the wood ignited.

"Man, I wish I had a house with electric and heat." He muttered as he pulled out a pan and dropped a can of Spam in it before putting it on top of rapidly heating stove. He then put a bit of butter on some bread, toasted it lightly over the stone, and made a couple of Spam sandwiches.

An hour later his radio buzzed to life again, "Hey it's Logan, anyone listening?"

Garret's voice was first to respond, "Yeah. I'm up and so is Rex. I'm going over to his place."

Logan's voice sounded surprised, "Really? Rex you on and is this an open invite?"

"Sure is." Rex responded with a satisfied nod. "Uncle Kevin says we can all stage out of here. Just bring some extra chow."

"Mind if I grab Colt and Snowmobile, over?"

"Come on up. Hey, any chance you can pick up an extra can of gas for the generator?"

"As long as old man Jackson will let me."

Josh's mom's voice broke in "I'll stop by so he doesn't get all stupid about selling gas to kids. You need anything else Rex?"

"Just food, Mrs. Stellman."

Garret's dad joined the radio conversation, "We got plenty for all you boys, I just hope you can get it all up to your cabin cause this car of mine ain't doing so well on these roads."

"Where you at, Mr. Krammer?" Logan asked.

"Not far from the school, just turning on McMannany."

"Park in the lot, sir, I'll be there in like ten minutes and I'll take Garret on up. If your car is slipping where you're at, it'll never make it into Rex's neck of the woods. I can always go back and get Colt, cause I am sure I'll have to drag him out of bed."

Josh responded with a laugh, "Take a crowbar with you, Logan, it's still hours before his noon wakeup."

"And he'll still be up well before Tanner." Rex chimed in with a snicker of his own.

Garret's mom responded, clearly talking to Josh's mom. "How often do they get together like this?"

Another deep, gruff sounding, male voice fired back almost instantly, "Every chance they get, Mrs. Krammer."

"Arctic Trooper!" Logan yelled into his radio, "What are you doing up?"

"Boy, don't get started on me." The Commander for the Bureau. Exceptional Adolescents, Rockies Squadron 97 (BEARS 97) fired back. "I was up when Rex was trying to find someone to chat with at zero four thirty this morning. Someone has to be out rescuing all these want-a-be drivers out here. There have already been three separate bad accidents in Flathead County and a jack knifed logging rig is blocking all of highway 37 coming out of Libby. That's where I'm headed now. And yes, Rex, I'll make sure your Uncle is OK."

Rex swallowed hard, "Thanks A.T."

The veteran commander took a deep breath, "No problem son. Oh, for the record, Logan your idea of grabbing Garret at the school is a good one. There is no way a two wheel drive is going to get close to Rex's place. Since you all are going to be there, we'll just pick you all up at the cabin in the squadron's hover craft and take you out to the lake."

"So it's OK for Garret to ride with a twelve year old?" Mr. Krammer asked.

"There's no one safer to ride with, and no, the cops aren't going to get on his case, I'll radio it in as him being officially activated. As a matter of fact, I am activating all of you as of now. I may need your help if this storm gets as bad as Defender team 19 says it will. Slap your patches on boys."

"Even Garret?" his mom asked sounding totally shocked

"Yes. Even Garret." Arctic Trooper responded with a stern sounding voice. "He is in the squadron so the junior troop leader of his last district says he has enough control of his abilities to be useful in emergencies. Any and every kid in a BEARS squadron is deemed to have enough control to be activated, so consider him activated."

"Is it really that bad sir?" Josh asked, astonished he was being activated since it had only happened once before, and that had been a forest fire that was deemed to be a bit too close to the area not to ready some extra resources.

"Not yet, but from what I am hearing it will be." Arctic Trooper took in a breath, "All squadron members and their parents, what I am about to say is classified for now, so don't leak it. I am sure the guys at weather dot com will figure it out in the next couple of hours anyway, but nothing better come out of here before they do.

"Anyway, if any of you have friends out there, tell them to hunker down, I am getting reports from the Defender Team back at Mainstrum Air Force Base, their classified military satellites show that this system is getting bigger, and predicted snow totals are way low at the moment. The low to our south is pulling moisture all the way from the Gulf of Mexico and the high pressure system to the east of Minneapolis is probably going to stall this system right over us. We are going to be measuring this in feet, lots of them. This could be the biggest storm since the Silver Lake, Colorado snow of 1921."

There was a bit of a pause, "1921?" Josh's mom asked with some trepidation, "Exactly how much snow fell in Colorado in 1921?"

"Right about six feet." Arctic trooper stated, "But that was all in twenty-four hours. This one may be a bit bigger but it'll take three to four days to sort itself out."

"Bigger than six feet?!" Garret's dad next to shouted.

Arctic Trooper snickered into his throat mike, "Welcome to Montana, aren't you all happy you decided to stay?"

"No!" Mrs. Krammer stated firmly. "Are you sure he'll be alright?"


"Now Garret," Arctic trooper stated firmly, "you are still her son, so don't be giving her any of your lip."

He paused long enough to let his words sink in before he spoke to the boy's parents. "Mr. and Mrs. Krammer, I normally don't do this on the radio, but the situation prevents me from conducting it in person, so let me apologize but this needs to be said."

"Fire away Commander. We understand." Garret's dad stated in a strong voice as if he was trying to prepare his wife to deal with whatever they were about to hear.

"Good," Arctic Trooper stated as he clearly set his tone of voice to not sound too arrogant or condescending. "So let me clue you in on a few things. First, how sure are of your own abilities to weather a storm on this magnitude. Before you answer, let me tell you I am totally confident of these fine boys being able to deal with it and help other if need be, especially if they are together, which they will be as long as you let your boy be with them.

"Second, and like it or not, your son isn't normal. He is gifted with abilities once thought to be only in the power of ancient gods. Don't go thinking of him as some helpless little boy. He is far from helpless and he knows how to use the basics of his skills. Yes, there will be accidents, but if they happen, the other five boys he is going to be with will be able to do as much for him and whatever problem he creates as I could do, if not more.

"Third, and by far the least important, you registered him in the government's Bureau of Exceptional Students Training program. You pledged to trust us in helping you raise your boy, and so I am now trying my utmost to put him where he will be not only in the most beneficial environment to increase his control, but also to help this country.

"We certainly don't have it all figured out yet, but exceptional ability people are a fact of the world we live in now. More are being born every year. We have no clue why, and certainly can't figure out where the arcane energy came from, but it is back and as best we can tell here to stay. All we can assert is the atomic blasts of the forties seemed to have released something. Suddenly, long dormant powers most thought were nothing more than made up myths resurfaced as kids turned eight, nine, or ten. At first there were only a few, most were killed or abandoned to fend for themselves. Then only a couple of years later arcane energies entered the mix, further complicating and already baffled scientific community.

"Finally the governments of the world started to take notice as those who had been abandoned started venting their frustration and growing powers at those in society. We are fortunate; the US was one of the first to realize not only the potential of those of us with these gifts, but also the need to treat us with a degree of decency. We still are far from perfect, and kids will still be kids, so teasing and hazing of all kinds still happens, but at least Garret has somewhere to go and be around kids who understand what he is going through.

"My folks had to deal with the same thing back when BEST was in its infancy. Heck, back when I first started freezing junk around the house, this whole program was top secret and no one really knew what to do with me. At least your boy didn't have to deal with people talking about locking him in a lab for study like I did before a BEST agent showed up and explained not only what was happening but what I was. Which, I might add, was far better than being labeled as a freak, like my brother or a demon like my sister was trying to do.

"Now by contract I could force you to either back out of the program or order you to let him stay with the others, but I am not doing either. I just want you to look into those light blue eyes staring at the two of you and decide what is best for him at the moment and best for you as well.

"If you say no, the BEST guys will have a bit of a fit, especially since I am going to activate the squadron, but I'll smooth it over and there will be no harm and no foul after a month or two, so don't go letting him or Rex convince you otherwise. On the other hand, I will have to warn you, Rex is correct; it'll take me some extra time to cover damages if he makes a mistake. And you'll certainly get flack for any claim form you submit, at least until I am able to push it under the carpet at BEST Headquarters. But when push comes to shove, they will pay out and things will get fixed, so don't go worrying none."

Garret's dad looked back at his son as he slid to a stop in front of the middle school. As he looked into the boy's eyes, he could see nothing but the deepest desire to be among those who understood, something he and his wife simply couldn't give him. He nodded at his son with a bit of a smile and keyed the radio, "It just wouldn't be fair to the rest of you to have him keep his X Box to himself. Come get him Logan."

Logan responded instantly, the sound of the snowmobile made his voice hard to hear, "Already on the way sir!"

A huge grin exploded across Garret's face and he jumped forward and gave his dad a huge hug. "Thanks Dad!"

The man handed Garret his BEARS radio back. "If you get hurt, don't bother coming back because your mom will have killed me, she'll be on the run, and I'll be haunting you."

His mom growled, "No, but he'll be wishing he was dead, so stay safe."

"Trust me mom, I'm lots safer around the guys from the squadron than anywhere else. But you better get home. I took a tour of Defender team 19's base, and if they say it is going to be bad, it will be. They got stuff right out of Star Trek or Terminator movies."

"Gee, how comforting." Garret's mom remarked with a bit of a frown. "Don't worry about us though. We are going to the store again to stock up for the two of us, then head straight back home. Call us if you need anything."

"Mom." Garret stated seriously, "If anyone needs anything it will be those of us in the squadron or Defender Team 19 getting it. Nothing else is going to be moving if the snow is deeper than dad is tall."

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