Castle Roland

Geek Squad

by Kyle Aarons

In Progress

Chapter 9

Posted: N/A

Geek Squad

Copyright © 2012 - 2014 by Kyle Aarons and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

Geek Squad LogoCraig, still very angry, walked for quite some time before he came across a Whataburger. He glanced over at the street signs on the corner before he entered and ordered himself a burger, since he hadn't been allowed to finish the prior lunch, and sat down. He looked out the window for several seconds before he set up the laptop and plugged in the headset.

Even as he pulled up Skype, he shifted uncomfortably on the seat. It wasn't that it hurt anymore, but he could swear he still felt what had happened. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, but all he saw was the face of Agent Paulson, with his ID on his breast pocket, telling him he had a nice ass. Up to that point, everything had been uncomfortable, a little nasty, and for just over a minute very painful, but at least somewhat understandable.

But the smirk and the comment about his butt, that made the whole thing much worse; yet Craig couldn't figure out why it made it worse in his mind. I just did. Maybe it was the fact the guy had taken some pleasure out of it. Maybe it was the fact it allowed Craig to piece together the guy's in depth search and the comments about not being gay was actually more than the jerk being mean. There was the very real possibility the guy had really been checking to see if he was gay, seemed to even be hoping he was.

Craig took another bite out of the burger as he fought to recall what the Agent Paulson had said. The problem was, Craig's mind had focused on what was happening to him and what the guy was doing to him rather than paying attention to some of the side comments the man had made during and after the man's digits had pushed into him. One thing did stick out though, there had been a comment about the last... was it 'boy', or 'kid', or just the word 'one'... Craig once again got angry with himself for not paying better attention; but however it had been worded, the last individual had not been allowed to go home. This, at least the way Craig understood it, was simply because the man had found the person gay. It was beyond disturbing while also making him wonder what had happened to the unfortunate person.

Once again Craig shifted and shuddered as he wondered why he felt kind of dirty over what had happened; why did he want to take a shower? Just as troubling was trying to figure out how the man knew, or at least thought he knew if he was gay or not. Craig didn't even know. He had never had a friend and had done nothing more than play with himself a few times. So, this once again made him wonder what had the insertion of fingers into his rear and mouth told the man and how? It also brought the feelings of both through him again, with was disgusting. None of this made much sense. Of course, he was certain the man had given some kind of explanation, but at the time, Craig realized he had been far more worried about what was happening to him then listening to the jerk.

At the same time, this gave Craig an interesting insight into what Justin had been though. Up till now, he was angry about the pictures, but didn't really understand what the boy had to endure while those photos and video clips were taken. Now he did. The situations were pretty similar, the only difference was, Justin had been teamed up on while Craig only had to deal with one guy, but in his case there was still backup; it had been outside the door not in the bathroom with him. The other thing Craig rationalized as being worse as far as what had happened to Justin was the other things his new friend had had done to him. His head had been pushed into the toilet and had been stripped down by others. This only made him angrier at Owen Ashwood Junior. He hoped the others had been able to find something, or better yet do something, to the thirteen year old budding sociopath.

Craig glanced out the window as a pair of unmarked cars with lights flashing a sirens blaring zipped by the restaurant while overhead a jet back helicopter gave them birds-eye coverage. A slight smiled crossed appeared on his lips as he realized there was one other thing he had going for him. What he had endured had been for a reason. He had taken one for the team, and if he suffered some for any degree of success, then he had endured for the greater good; Justin had not. This above all else gave Craig some peace, while wanting to strike out at those who had wronged Justin even more. Even as he tried to convince himself of this, however, he still wanted to take a shower as soon as possible. He also cringed slightly and adjusted how he was sitting yet again.

Annoyed at himself for not being able to fully brush off what he had been through, Craig pulled up the name Ricky had set up in the computer that was supposed to be his cousin and hit the call button. Keith's voice came of almost instantly, "Hey, where are you? We are kind of freaking out here!"

Craig glanced down at the time on the computer and his eyes went wide as he realized he had been walking and eating for over an hour. "OH, crap, I'm sorry! Um, I am eating at the corner of Guadalupe and twenty-eighth." He paused as he remembered the cover story just in the nick of time. "They... um the police... and some Homeland Security guys thought I had done something to the weather service website. They searched me and junk, but tell everyone I'm fine. I got kind of screwed up though. They escorted me through the opposite side from the parking lot and I don't know the city so I kind of got lost."

"But you are OK?" Keith asked with a great deal of concern.

"I'm fine." Craig stated even though he knew he wasn't being totally honest. "I just didn't want to admit I was lost, but I sure am, and I don't think I have enough money to take a cab back to the capital building."

"I was just told to tell you we'll get one of the family to pick you up. Just stay put."

"Not going anywhere, but I could really use a workout session after this."

"I've been assured the rest of the day, no matter what you want to do, is all yours."

"Cool, see you all shortly then."

Fredric let out a long sigh of relief upon hearing Craig was safe and had just gotten a bit confused. He couldn't blame the kid. After putting up with a cavity search, Craig had every right and reason to be a little shaken. He glanced over at Justin who was just as, if not even more, happy to hear from Craig as Fredric himself was, "Hey, how you holding up over there kiddo?"

Justin took a deep breath, "At the moment I am thrilled Craig is OK, but to be honest, I'm scared. Dad is running a load down to Juarez and with what Alexander and Scott were able to find out, we know it was for Owen's dad."

Steven reached over and squeezed Justin's shoulder, "Your dad is one of over six hundred drivers transporting loads down to the border area for Owen Ashwood Senior this week, Justin. I highly doubt what Owen Junior is planning for you and what your dad is doing is related."

"Yeah, well, even if they aren't, something really strange is going on with Owen Ashwood using almost all his trucks from several states to all go down to the border with loads. It's even stranger for all of them to have orders to grab shipments and take them back up to Jacksonville and Baltimore... It doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

"Keith and Ricky are still poking around trying to find more information on what all those semis are hauling, Justin, so chill." Steven all but commanded. "If we can't figure it out, we'll get a hold of your dad and tell him to break down en route or something."

Fredric nodded as the chaperone pulled the van into traffic and headed closer to the edge of the city were there were far less federal agents. "Steven's right. Your father isn't due into El Paso until tomorrow mid-day, so if we can't find anything before then, we'll call him and tell him to pull off with a mechanical problem or something."

From up front Mr. Kjell spoke up as well, "Justin, everyone here has your back, and we aren't about to let any Ashwood get to your father. Besides, we have office in El Paso. If worse comes to worse we'll divert him and his load there and see what in the hell he is hauling. I have a couple of friends who can even switch with him and drop off the load and pick up whatever he is supposed to take back to Baltimore. He'll never be in any danger."

"Your friends know how to drive big rigs?" Justin asked with considerably less nervousness in his voice.

"Those are small compared to some the stuff they all did for your equivalent of your Army Corps of Engineers. We'll help you all get to the bottom of this newest mystery. If need I go down to El Paso and shoot anyone trying to hurt your father. I can do so from many buildings away."

Back at the Whataburger, Craig disconnected from the call and frowned deeply. "They know..." he muttered to himself, "They know about the search cause Paulson radioed about it. Damn-it..." He slurped up a long drink of lemonade and took a deep breath then muttered to himself, "I did it for the team... I took one for everyone, my new friends, my dad, my country... Nothing else matters... the team, the squad comes first... I took it for the team..."

Seeing a couple of weird looks form a close by table, he glanced up and looked at the woman with two kids slightly younger than him.

The woman eyed Craig with a great deal of concern and spoke in a voice which was full of worry, "Are you OK?"

Craig forced a smile, "Sorry, I got tossed from the competition, but what I did may have let my team win. I don't know for sure. One of them is going to pick me up shortly."

"You sure? You look like you are ready to jump out of your skin."

"I'm just worried we may not have won. If I got kicked from this for nothing my old man will be beyond mad when I get home. Besides, I um... I had to leave where we were so I got mad and totally left the area and I'm not from around here so..." Craig gave the woman a slight smile. "Well, the truth is I got a little lost, so some of my teammates are a bit freaked out too. Thanks for your concern though."

"Do need a ride or cab money..."

"No ma'am. One of the parents is coming to pick me up, but thank you."

One of the boys glanced up, "Why do you have a computer if you got kicked off a sports field?

"I'm home schooled and this is how I keep up with my homework." Craig pulled up some of the fake homework Ricky had loaded onto the computer and smirked at the first math equation. He had the answer for it in the time it took him to glance at it and turn the computer around. He then added, "And I said nothing about sports. I said I got kicked from the competition."

The mother slid a little closer and her eyes went up, "This is Trig!"

"Basic, Trigonometry, very basic. This is more Geometry then Trig." Craig responded while nodding. "This is one of my warm up questions."

"But you can be but... what twelve or so?"

"Just turned thirteen." Craig grinned a little more as he found a way to take his mind off the events surrounding Agent Paulson. "I actually did that in my head already."

The other boy moved over to the table and sat across from him and studied the screen for a few seconds, "Whoa! Is there a question in there somewhere?"

Craig nodded and talked all three through the question. It was clear none of them totally understood what he was saying, but this was something he was very used to. He couldn't help but to lean back, take another bite of his burger and enjoy the looks he was getting. The woman was flatly stunned, the blond kid absolutely confused, and the dark haired boy extremely interested but clearly lost.

Still, seeing someone take interest and playing off of what Justin had been trying to show him about making friends, he focused in on the dark haired boy. Up till this point in his life, he would have said nothing, waiting for a question or a comment. However the scene in the stairwell crossed his mind. Here was a similar situation. Craig decided to go for it. "So, you look confused."

"Totally!" the dark haired boy admitted while studying the problem. "I don't even want to get into the second part cause that was like talking to someone from NASA or something, but the first part almost made sense... I mean, the two triangles... they don't look the same at all. My eyes says they can't be the same size but... well what you were saying kind of clicked or something. But then you moved on to the second part and half way though I got totally lost.

Craig looked over at the woman. "Do you mind me going over this with him, ma'am?"

"Not at all!" the woman glanced down at her son, "If Nate wants to learn and you want to teach, I'm not about to stop either of you."

"This is why you get called names at school." The other boy spoke up while giving Nate a quick shove.

The mother pointed a finger at the blond kid, "David Jackson Teller, don't pick on your brother!"

Craig's eyes narrowed for a second but instead of saying something obnoxious, like he normally would of, he glanced over at the blond haired boy he now knew as David. "In ten years or so, Nate will be making ten times more than you, David, so whatever name calling he is putting up with will pay off. Besides, you should be nice to him, since you'll be asking him for money before too long."

"How would you know?" David fired back.

"Because, when my friend gets here, whichever friend happens to show up, I'm going to let him tell you how much I was offered per year this morning by a very high tech company and I am going to give your brother a way to get a hold of me and my buddies..." Craig paused, "you know what, I am going to do one better."

He spun the computer back around and put in another Skype call. As soon as Keith answered, Craig spoke, "Hey any chance you can do me a big favor and have Destructicon pick me up? There is someone," he glanced across the table, "Make like two someones I want him to meet."

"He's the furthest away, so it will be a while."

"No problem. I'm not going anywhere. Besides, I just met one Nate or Nathan Teller..." He glanced over at Nate while opening up the computer microphone so others could hear. "How old are you and what grade are you in?"

"I'll turn eleven in three weeks, but I am in sixth grade since I skipped fourth.

"Been there." Craig smiled at the kid, "You both go to the same school?"

This time David answered, "Yeah, we go to River Ridge Elementary, and now I have to protect the dweeb cause he is in my class."

This got David popped on the back of the head by his mother, "David, knock it off or I swear to you, I will tell your father..."

Craig ignored the woman. "And you're what? Twelve?"

David cringed at the threat but shot Craig a dirty look, "Yeah, what of it?"

"And..." Craig gritted his teeth as he stopped himself from saying 'and you are only in sixth grade...' instead he refocused his thoughts, 'And you don't want to learn this?" he tapped the computer.

"Area of a triangle I get, it's like half the size of the square it would make or something like that, but who will ever need to know why two triangles that can't possibly be the same size are, I mean all you have to do is look at them! You want to teach my bother some fake junk that's up to you."

In the headset Craig heard Ricky's voice, "Oh really, one David Teller of River Ridge Elementary School. Well, let's see what we can find on you, buddy."

Craig grinned and spoke back into the headset. "Thanks guys. I am sure Destructicon will ever so much enjoy meeting these two."

"Count on it." Alexander responded. "Be on the way shortly."

Fredric's voice came over with a great deal of humor, "Play nice boys, I don't want a lawsuit."

"We'd have to get caught first, and I don't get caught." Alexander snickered in response, "But I'll be nice. I can't go beating down the brother of a fellow dweeb."

"Talk to you all soon." Craig stated as he clicked off the phone call and turned his attention back to the family across the table from him.

"Who's this Destructicon you were talking about?" the mother demanded to know.

Craig giggled, "It s a nickname for one of my fellow... oh why don't we stick to calling us dweebs since David here brought up the term. He's eleven."

"Oh, and you have a nick name to?" Mrs. Teller wondered aloud.

Craig nodded, "Yeah, I am Recon."

"Recon and Destructicon?" Nate asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Fun code names since I am just like you: a fellow dweeb." Craig then glanced over at David, "Oh, and for the record, I skipped third and fifth grades and they really wanted me to skip ninth, this year, but I didn't want to go into high school yet so I am still in junior high, but I already have my GED, I got it two years ago. I am also taking college courses on line with Arizona State University on a full scholarship; I'm working on an electrical engineering degree. I have a four point zero grade point average and my SAT and ACT scores place me in the top two percent of test takers the last two years."

Seeing her older son's eyes go wide with shock while her younger one's lit up with almost a hero worship, the woman choked on her own saliva before speaking again, "What is your IQ?"

"IQ is highly over rated, but mine sits between 154 and 175 depending on what test I take, how I feel while I am taking it, and how much effort I put behind it. I'm sure I could push the number up higher, but I really don't care. Besides, within twenty to thirty minutes from now I will no longer be the smartest kid in this room." Craig glanced over at Nate, "I may not even be the smartest kid in the room now. Let's find out."

With this the woman shrugged her shoulders and motioned for Nate to move closer to Craig. Ten minutes later Nate's eyes lit up as things fell into place and he not only figured out why the triangles were equal, he was able to dig into the full equation and with only a few pointers came up with the right answer.

This got Nate, who had moved right next to Craig a pat on the back. "Nice!" Craig praised enthusiastically. "You want to try the next one?"

Nate looked up and across the table, "Can I, mom?"

The woman waved her arm and sat back. At the same time David gave Craig a bit of a snarling look.

Craig eyed the boy for a second then pulled up the next question. "Nate, look this over while I show your bother something."

Nate nodded and pulled the computer closer while David's head dropped to the side and gave a Craig a truly sarcastic look.

Craig stood moved around the table and dropped to the floor then caught himself in a lowered push up position just before his chin collided with the tile. This got a few other people's attention, but Craig ignored them. Instead he glanced up. "You want to go muscle to muscle with me, I'll play your game too. Let's see you crank out even five of these." Craig then did twenty clapping pushups then slid around so he had space behind him and did a back hand spring to get back on his feet. He then eyed David, "So let's see what you got, Dave."

The blond boy's jaw dropped while one of the men sitting with his wife and daughter let out a short gasp, "Holy crap, kid, you are a walking advertisement for fast food!"

Craig glanced over with a wide smile, "It is more about how you eat than what you eat, but I'll do pasta or something for dinner and no snacks other than fruit the rest of the day since this isn't exactly great for me. I'll also put in some extra gym time this evening, so I'll be fine."

Craig them moved to sit next to Nate again was now beyond enamored with him. Craig simply smiled, "So have you figured any of it out yet?"

Nate gulped, "Just the first part. I got kind of lost watching you... Um you have a Skype message up from a Strike-Comm."

Craig put back on the headset and placed another call while motioning for Nate to continue to look over the question from the start, "What's up?"

"They are clean." Keith's voice came over quickly with relief evident. "Also we have this Skype all to ourselves since MSN took it over so he moved our names into a Hotmail server he controls. Skynet recommended you tell them your real name if you haven't given them our cover name yet..."

"No, we are good. It hasn't come up yet." Craig frowned as he realized another flaw in his friend making process. He had been talking to these people for several minutes and hadn't even introduced himself. It was rapidly becoming clearer why he sucked so much at making friends. He pushed this thought aside as he focused in on the call. "So what can you tell me?"

"First off Ricky said to push in on both USB ports really hard. This will activate a long range antenna he built into the laptop, since there is a good chance Homeland Security will try to kill hotspots thought the city since they are going nuts. We have all but crippled them so they have started taking over local emergency frequencies. This has all but overloaded the 911 system, and I suspect it will crash totally within the next few minutes, especially if I can locate their mobile command center they keep talking about. Firebrand is helping me find it. Anyway, this is forcing them to take all their communications through this hub up in Breckenridge Texas, and we have full access thanks to you. They are also trying to cut off cell phone communications, but I am all over that trick. Every tower they kill civilian communications through, I am taking totally off line, so they can't use it either. So they finally stopped that after twenty eight towers went down. They fired the guy they think is responsible."

Keith giggled a bit then continued, "We know their every move, and some of them aren't pretty or very intelligent. At this point my friend's dad has joined the party and he happened to have way more friends than I thought. Between what we are doing and they are doing, we've pulled out well over a hundred gig of information, much of it damming to Ashwood, and it is going out on the net. The problem is Homeland is doing its best to crash or suppress access to sites we are posting it to here in the states, but every minute that goes by they are loosing ground since we are killing more of HS servers and the Russians and blasting though firewalls not meant to handle this kind of an assault within the U.S.. Lots of this stuff is also already up on the web in Russia, Great Britton, and other countries, but nothing in Arab countries and Argentina is killing what we post there as well.

"The only problem we have now is they do have someone really good who is fighting us, but so far Homeland is not taking his recommendations. But whoever this person is, he is starting to figure out we have control of their hub, but I don't think those above him know what to do with it, because if they take it down, they lose contact with FBI, NSA, CIA, and HS agents in twenty-seven states and thanks to the Russians we have found and penetrated other hubs just like the one in Texas so that number is growing and we can switch between different hubs since my friend's dad has given us full access to a Russian military comm-sat."

Hearing a slight break, Craig jumped in. "Good to know I helped us win, but I wasn't really asking about all that Strike-Comm. I was more interested in what is around me. I did get lost getting here so what is around me is kind of important."

"Oh, sorry!" Keith gulped as he caught the meaning of what Craig was asking, "Um, yeah... I got that for you too thanks to Skynet! Um, yeah, let's see.... Mom's name is Patricia and she is a stocks and bonds trader who works from home. Dad's name is Quincy and works in investment real estate. Nathanial is gifted, but neither mom nor dad has pushed him. There is nothing in the files about them doing much of anything with their kids, but both their kids have a list of others who can pick them up from school. The only reason mom is with them today is they just came from their six month dental check-up and Mom has already texted the nanny to be waiting for them, but she hasn't heard back, yet. She has texted three times in the last twenty minutes, so she obviously wants hand them off so she can go to her yoga lesson in less than an hour.

"Nathanial has skipped a grade without anyone's help, so he is very smart. There is a note on in his file though... a couple of teachers put his name on a budding homosexual watch list. Both teachers are getting extra pay from Homeland Security too. I am trying to dig through to see what more I can find on this list in Homeland Security files, but it is behind some massive protection."

"So there is such a file?"

"Oh yeah, and I got confirmation by using the senior field agent's priority password that Nathanial is on the list, but not even he had clearance to dig deeper. Once we get totally relocated and start using nothing but the HS hub, Skynet has actually been tasked by the Boss to directly handle that since we found some other very troubling stuff and the Boss wants that information.

"Anyway, Nathanial's brother, David, is one step up from a moron. He barleybarely gets C's and has been caught cheating on numerous tests. His reading is at a fourth grade level and his math at a fifth grade level. He has gotten into three fights and has been suspended twice in the last year. He also got kicked out of summer camp last year for almost pushing another kid into a camp fire. One of the fights he got into was for protecting his brother, though, so he isn't all bad.

"Background on both mom and dad show nothing connecting them to the government and dad contributed money to former president Bryce's campaign efforts in Texas to the tune of five grand which put him on a watch list, the same one our Boss found his name on, talk about not happy.... Oh, and Destructicon will be there in about fifteen minutes. There are H.S. all over the place and they are closing down the original eight areas and doing grid searches around each so we are all relocating to the edges of the city, but oh, look there... Inquisitor just found their mobile command center for me and I killed it. 911 should be going down in a minute or two now.

"Will I lose voice to you?"

"I didn't get the name Strike-Comm for my good looks, Recon! I have established this link though the Russian Comm-sat as well as tying in your computer's extended range link into the nearest Mass-hack. They can't shut us down. They just don't know it yet!"

Keith giggled again, "All our efforts are now being routed though the Russian satellite and I have tapped into Homeland's communications hub outside the area. As far as they know we aren't even operating out of here anymore! Whatever you do, however, don't poke into anything federal for a while. They are starting to set up more remote units to make up for all they lost and we are taking them down as fast as we can locate them to give us more time, but any poking around in any federal webpage will get instant attention if you are seen doing so. Besides, internet, landline and cell are probably going to be pulled down real soon in the Austin area so your computer staying operational will already get some attention. If someone goes poking around push in on the USB parts again so you don't have net access. The government is already giving orders to NASA to say there was a solar storm that will be responsible for the disruptions, but since we won't be using any of those, we are letting them do it since it is wasting a ton of their resources which could otherwise be trying to track us."

"Understood," Craig nodded in understanding, "talk to you soon."

Meanwhile just outside of Washington D.C. the President's Cyber Security Advisor was getting her ass chewed for the fifth time in less than five hours. "If you don't find a way to stop this I may even lose this fucking election! Now, God-damn-it shut them down already!"

"We don't even know how they are getting into our systems let alone how they are avoiding over two hundred agents on the ground..."

"Fuck you and your excuses! I just replaced the Senior Field Agent down there for fucking this up so badly and sent him to Antarctica to take over as our field agent in charge of no one, since he will be the only agent down there! I am suspecting you want a similar job?"

"No Mr. Pres..."

"Shut your cunt and listen, bitch! My name is getting smeared in twenty-seven states. I already know I am going to lose Texas, so find a way to keep the rest of this shit confined there or so help me, bitch, you will regret the day you were born, or do I have to remind you about what I have access to and how far I am willing to go."

"No... I know... but there is nothing more..."

"Bitch! You have a family, but you sure as hell won't if this continues. Now, pull your head out of whatever young ass is at your disposal and stop you sob stories. I need this bleeding to stop before it hits the East Coast, so make it happen!"

The woman heard the hang-up even as she was trying to respond. With shaking hands, she turned to her nineteen year old Intern, "Kill the power to Austin."

The teen's head jerked sharply, "Why the hell would you want me to kill the power grid?"

"Damn-it, if you want that young pussy I was promising you, do it!"

"Whatever..." The teen gave her a sharp stare, "but they aren't hacking out of Austin and if I pull the plug we will lose command and control to everyone down there since most of our systems are compromised and 911 is already showing signs of overload. Even worse, if I yank the power, it will damage substations and create a cascade..."

"I don't give a shit. I said to pull the plug, so do it or don't get your fresh meat. Up to you!"

"No skin off my ass." The young man sighed as and pulled up the power grid for Central Texas. "Unless you want me to run some calculations so I can just take out Austin, I am going to just start rerouting power until the downtown goes dark, but don't yell at me if a much larger area goes down."

"Just do it you smart-assed prick," The woman snarled. "I need to show I am doing all I can right now!"

"I'm going to say this once more; it's a bad call. You are screwing our people by killing power they need."

"Just do it and shut the fuck up!"

The teen rolled his eyes as he slid the flash drive with the whole conversation into the pocket of his rob. "The shit is about to hit the fan down there." With that he sent a huge power spike into three of the largest substations he could quickly gain access to. Predictably transformers started popping in all three. He glanced down at the power grid and watched huge areas go off line, but as he had warned it didn't stop in downtown Austin. As a matter of fact it quickly started a cascade effect. Even while areas of Austin were still lit, the massive outage worked its way up and down Interstate 35 and then along interstate 10. Five minutes later power was out over well more than a thousand square miles. "Everything south to just into San Antonio is out, up to just north of Waco, west to Brownwood, and east to the outskirts of Houston is dark. Several coastal communities are also starting to drop off. Anyplace that doesn't have emergency power will be down for at least six to eight hours until power can be diverted from other areas and Texas will know it was the Department of Energy that spiked them."

The teen tossed up his hands as he lost his connection with the internet in Austin, "There you go, and now I am done."

"What'd you mean you're done. We have to find who hacked us!"

"There is no power, so most of the hotspots are gone and those that aren't are on battery life and will be offline shortly. The same applies for our field agents who now will be stuck in massive traffic jams when many of them were already running out of fuel after chasing ghosts all day long. With power out they won't be pulling into any stations for gas for the next several hours either and we were down to just a three mobile field offices left and since they are the only really hot things it will now take only a couple of minutes for whoever the fuck is jacking us to take them and all our remaining assets down there offline. If you think I am plugging into one of those so they can start hacking us here, you are on better drugs than Ashwood's wife normally gives you."

Less than a minute later, the last mobile unit went offline. The teen turned and looked at the badly shaken woman, "Congratulations, you just let them get away. Since they had full access to our field offices and they killed back up capabilities, we don't have generator power to them which means we can't even try to kill the virus they stuck in our mainframes, let alone reload the data they wiped until the power comes back up. So, in simple terms even you can understand, there is now zero I can do. Since I did my part, can I have the young twat you promised me or do I start seeing what I can find out about you?"

A third of the way across the country from the cyber security advisor's home office, Craig glanced up after disconnecting his latest Skype call only to see the woman looking at him strangely, "Sorry, my friend was just filling me on our victory and warning me there is a good chance the internet is going to go down for a while. I guess the South and West are about to get hit by a solar flare soon. From what he told me, some cell phones are already down. The kid I was talking with, who is also eleven by the way, is working on getting my company some backup communications though a satellite relay, and they want me back to help."

Mrs. Teller picked up her phone only to see she had no signal. Both Nate and David did the same only to find they, too, had no coverage.

David looked at Craig with a stare of total disgust. "What do you take us for kid?"

Craig shrugged, slid the laptop over and smiled, "Look up Survival Magazine, Log in as capitol C dash solar. Then put in the password the-man-thing-sucks all one word. Once you are in, type Craig Bickford and September 2012."

After David failed twice, Nate took over and quickly logged in as instructed. It took only a few seconds for the three people at the table to see a picture of Craig holding his solar powered water extractor in his left hand, an AK-47 over his back, and a Ruger P-85 on his hip. The title of the article was, 'A Survival Tool for Every Household'.

Craig shot David a smirk, "Second to the last paragraph, there Davey."

Nate quickly scanned the article while his older brother struggled to read it, proving at least part of the test scores had some merit. Nate pointed to a spot in the text and read aloud, "The device has been picked up for mass distribution and should be on sale by Christmas. Pre sales have already guaranteed the young inventor a seven figure bank account..." Nate's jaw dropped, "You're a millionaire!"

Craig shrugged and glanced down at the computer, "Will be if shipping and distribution go well. However, I am not alone in being able to make cool stuff, because while no one else is able to get any signal in here, I am still on the net. I didn't build this, one of the other science contest winners did. We are calling him Skynet."

"Skynet..." Nate frowned as he thought it over, where he had heard the name before. Suddenly his eyes lit up, "The terminator movies, Skynet ran all the terminators..."

"Oh yeah," Craig grinned, "only my buddy, Skynet, would put the terminator Skynet system to shame." He then glanced back over at David, "Like I said, you will be going to your brother for money one of these years, and something tells me, it won't be too long from now, so be nice to him. Besides, he's on our Geek-dar now, so we will be watching out for him."

The mother eyed Craig and studied the picture, "It says you are a Junior Marine... College student... where do you find the time?"

"School doesn't take much time, not even college. I don't think I have had to do more than a couple of hours of homework ever in one night. On the other hand, they left out the gymnast part." Craig snickered, "They said it didn't fit their image of a survivalist magazine to note it in the article."

By this point David was beyond annoyed and it showed, but he also realized the kid next to him could kick his butt with very little effort. "Just like Nate, never has to work at nothing."

"I tried to get into the advanced program, but Mr. Morgan said no." Nate countered. "He said I had to act more boyish..."

At this David snickered, "Lots of people think that about you bro, and you know it."

This was clearly news to the mother who looked over, "More boyish? What is that supposed to..." Before more could be said the lights went out in the restaurant and a car crash happed at the intersection just outside. A coupe of the patrons ran outside as the two car collision quickly became a seven car pileup.

Craig glanced out and looked down the street. As he did so he realized stop lights were dead as far as the eyes could see and there were no lights on in the surrounding buildings. "Power just went out. Must be a really big EMP wave to knock out the power grid..."

"My yoga class!" the woman shouted as she pulled out her cell.

"It's dead; Towers are down," Craig reminded the woman. "Besides traffic is going to be a nightmare and it is safer in here then out there. You may want to wait this out. I'm sure they'll get power back up shortly."

Nate started to stand, "we should go help..."

Craig reach over and grabbed his arm. "Look out there. There are several already trying and more will as they realize they can't get though to emergency services. We would just be in the way and it is way safer in here. Besides, if the fuel take explodes on any of those vehicles, it'll kill not only those trying to help but all the others who are either trying to call or using their phones to take pictures. Plus, being inside is safer than being on the street during a blackout.

"Blackout..." David stated in some confusion. The sun is out!"

Nate saw Craig roll his eyes and drop his shoulders in exasperation. He then looked out the window at the sun, already low in the sky, "With time change, it'll be getting dark by like six... that's only an hour and a half from now, Dave."

"Surely they have the lights back on by then!"

Craig pulled up his computer and glanced at the battery power. His eyes went up as he found himself with well over five hours of estimated time left. He placed a call yet again. "Strike-comm, power just went down here. How bad is it? Is it city wide?"

"Way more." Keith responded, "They pulled the plug hoping to stop the attack and thinking it would slow the spread of information, but from what we are hearing, they screwed up pretty bad and took it down too fast. There is damage to the power grid. Whenever they decide to bring it back on line, it will have to be in stages and it will take hours. It also gave away the last of their field command sites, so I just knocked them all out. Whoever was giving us problems must be pretty pissed about loosing access to the whole city, since he was getting a bit too close for Ricky's comfort, but with the power gone, so is he.

"Already people higher up are screaming at those here locally, because if they can't get the power back the will have to extend election times, and with what is out there now, the last thing they want is to have voting go longer. We may have just assured Ashwood will lose this after all! Also, the guy who made the call demanding they try to cut us off seems to have been the senior field agent, and he was just replaced. The new senior field agent is Agent Paulson."

"Oh, crap!" Craig's right had smacked into his forehead. "You're kidding right?

"I wish I was, and since he knows you, the Boss says we need to get you out of the city. He wants us to go camping up at his lake property, but it is real close to where the hub we penetrated is at, so we are not sure what we are going to do. One way or another, keep a low profile until we get you out of Austin.

"Also, be aware this Agent Paulson has ordered all field agents to detain anyone on Ashwood's watch list who they run across. He says with the power down, they can get away with grabbing undesirables and no one will be able to get the word out. Most of us are working at disabling any federal agents' notebooks, but many have already taken them off line in fear of getting them hacked. The ones we can get to we'll erase. Just be aware, Nathanial Teller's name is on one of those lists, so he could be a target."

"Over my dead body." Craig snarled as he glanced up and over at Nate with a grim look of determination. "Hey, Strike-Comm, was one of those teachers you were telling me about a Mr. Morgan?"

"Yeah! Louis William Morgan made the initial filing. How'd you know?"

"Nate just told me a Mr. Morgan prevented him from going into advanced classes for not being boyish enough." He glanced over at the three people with him as he spoke just a little louder so all of them could hear him. "Skynet, do me a big favor and reduce Louis W. Morgan's life to a living hell."

"No problem; by the time the power comes back on he will find life as nasty as I can figure out how to make it." Ricky answered with a snicker. "I just wish I could do the same to now Senior Field Agent Paulson, but they have his name monitored by computers bigger than I care to take on. Oh, just got a message for you: the Boss wants you to know pick-up time is going to be delayed, so sit tight and lay low. We will get to you as soon as possible."

"Understood, I am going to keep this powered up but cut back on use just in case I need to contact you again. Recon out."

The mom stared at Craig with wide eyes and an open mouth. At the same time Nate gulped, "How'd you find his full name so fast?"

"Skynet is just that good." Craig responded carefully before turning his full attention to the mom, "Mrs. Teller, I know you are a bit creeped out right about now, but my friends just found out Nathanial is on a watch list. So is your husband. If Homeland Security or pretty much any other government agency, happens on you and their data pads are still working they will try to take them into custody. You need to leave the area as soon as possible and talk to no one."

"What are you talking about?" the woman demanded with a tone that told Craig she was about to slap him.

"Hold up and listen, please..." Seeing this calmed her down slightly, he quickly continued, "President Ashwood has put together a watch list, several of them actually. They know things about us we don't even know. They spy on us with satellites, they monitor our phones, and at the moment they are trying to block stuff from going up on the web that proves Ashwood is beyond power hungry and dirty. This came right off their servers: Your name is Patricia, you trade stocks and bonds from home, you had a yoga class this evening and you have several names of people who can pick up your kids so you don't have to. The only reason you have them right now is you all just came from your dentist's office. Now how else could I have possibly gotten all that information if the government didn't have an active file on you?

The woman shook her head, "No... This is America..."

"Listen to me," Craig commanded as he made sure none of the others in the restaurant were close enough to hear. None were. Most had gone out to help while a quartet of others were watching at the window trying to dial 911 with no cell signal. If this had been any other time, Craig would have laughed at them, but he had others things to worry about. "Homeland Security has your husband, Quincy, labeled as a terrorist supporter since he donated five thousand to Jackson Bryce's campaign."

"How... how do you know all of this? How did you get access to this file?" the woman demanded with terror in her eyes.

"I'm part of a team trying to expose it. We're geeks, it's what we do."

"Can't you pull his name out... off the list?"

"We are trying, but it isn't looking good." Craig admitted, "But I am out here because most of the others are better at computer stuff than I am. All I can really recommend is, once things calm down out there, you need to get home, grab some stuff and go fishing or something until the election is over. As soon as Ashwood loses, he'll have to give up on his lists of hated people."

Several minutes of very uncomfortable silence went by as Mrs. Teller mulled over everything. Finally she focused in on Craig again. "How do I know you didn't pull some kind of identity theft and are lying?"

"I guess you don't." Craig shrugged, "But how would we know about the dentist appointments, the donation to former President Bryce, or who is authorized to pick up your kids? Even if it was all there for us to find, there is no way we could get it this fast unless it was in one place for us to do so. Besides, what do I gain from this? If anything I risked a lot by showing you who I really am."

Nate gulped, "He's right mom, and he found out Mr. Morgan's name and stuff. Plus, he doesn't need the money! He's already a millionaire. He has no reason to lie to us."

Next to Mrs. Teller, David snorted and shrugged, clearly having nothing of value to contribute. Instead, the boy turned his attention to the car wreck as fire started to flicker from underneath the pile.

Mrs. Teller took several breaths and glanced out the window as well, watching as a few people used fire extinguishers while others tried to pull the inured out and to safety. "Where are the police and fire..."

"Ma'am," Craig spoke up, "No one can call them. The phones are dead and 911 is overloaded with whoever can get through. Even if they know, nothing is moving out there, so getting to it could take hours. I also bet there are hundreds more accidents throughout the city since all the lights went out at the same time and it is getting pretty close to the rush hour."

Craig cleared his throat and spoke loudly, "As close as those cars are to us, if one of the gas tanks blows it could shatter the windows. I'd get back if I were you." At the same time he motioned with his head for those with him to move to the far end of the restaurant. Reluctantly, Mrs. Teller finally nodded, taking a table furthest away from the intersection.

Finally Patricia took a deep breath, "If what you are saying is all true, then what am I supposed to do? My husband isn't even in town. He's in Newark on a business trip. I can't take the boys camping, even if we had stuff to do it with, which I don't think we do."

Craig ran his hand across his hair and down his face, "Do you have someone else you can stay with or something?"

"Grandma's?" Nate asked with a degree of hope.

David looked over, "Get real Nate, she's over eleven hundred miles away. And here I thought you were the smart one."

Nate glared at his brother but said nothing as all eyes turned to Mrs. Teller again. The woman was lost and it showed as she kept looking down at her cell phone as if trying to use the force of will to make it find a signal. Several more minutes of uneasy silence went by before the gas leaking out one of the cars re-ignited and quickly spread. Those trying to fight it turned and ran. A series of explosions tore though the pileup only two minutes later as the gas tanks started cooking off.

The windows along the street-side of the restaurant then shattered just as Craig had predicted. The two who hadn't moved back ended up on their backs with multiple cuts. Craig jumped up and moved over to the two then turned away from the woman, "Nate, get on my computer and let Strike-Comm know what happened and that we have one dead and one wounded. Maybe he can find a way to get some help here." He then looked out the window, "Damn-it, Ashwood, you are killing people and don't even give a shit."

Nate pulled Skype but the words caught his attention. He looked over to Craig as his face went pale. "This wasn't an EMP from space was it? The government killed the power and is letting people die... Aren't they?"

Patricia shook her head while her tone told everyone she was totally overwhelmed, "No Nathanial, our government wouldn't..." She stopped talking as she saw the look in Craig's eyes. "No way. This isn't some third world country..."

"Ma'am,' Craig responded as he started to realize the scope of what was going on himself, "I'm not that old, However, it seems to me America is dying from within. My dad says the same thing. Dad says Bryce tried to change things but did it by laws which only made us softer. The people in this country have gotten too used to letting the government take care of everything. They want to tell us what to eat what to drink, how much to drink, what has to be taught in schools, what history to teach and what not to teach.

"They show movies about how bad this country is, teach us how awful we were to have slaves, but never talk about how many untold people, white and black, fought to free the slaves and keep this country together. We hear how we are an imperial nation and a bunch of gun nuts, but we never hear how people try to help each other. Look out there! People braved the first fire to pull people out. They risked their lives and no one cared if the people inside were black, Hispanic or white. They didn't care if they were gay or straight, they saw people in trouble and acted. That is what this country is supposed to be about. But instead of showing what is written on every coin and bill we spend, 'e pluribus unum', or 'out of many one', they want just the opposite. They want us divided. They want us to hate different people because they look different, act different, worship different.

"Ask yourself this: Why can't Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists and all the others see they all worship the same Jesus? How come they can't all work together to better all Christian faiths? Why do so many who believe in the god of Abraham hate Jews and why do Muslims hate Christians and Jews when they all worship the same God?

"Why is it people get so bent out of shape when a white guy says the 'N' word, but a black guy saying it is totally acceptable? On the other side of the same coin, why do we have laws that force people to hire people they don't want to? If some white jerk hates all other races, he should be able to open a business where he hires only whites with no fear of a lawsuit. It is that idiot's right to be ignorant. For that matter the same thing goes for hiring only men or only women.

"The same thing applies to Homo or heterosexuals. Why can't straight people accept gays for who they are and leve them alone? Why can gays see and understand some straight people are uncomfortable with them and not shove it in their faces? This country let this happen by electing people who took freedoms away bit by bit until most people stopped thinking for themselves. They keep us divided because that's what works to stir up issues and get campaign money. At the same time we deal with it because we want to feel safe and have a government big enough to take care of everything. The problem is, if it takes care of everything, it also tells us how to do everything."

Craig sighed and forced himself to calm down as so many pieces of a much bigger puzzle started to fall into place in his mind. When he spoke again it was in a much softer voice. "When I met the CEO of EEL yesterday, he said this contest I was one of the winners of was partially designed to break the mold and force creativity. I didn't get it until just a few hours ago, but now I see it and see it crystal clear. The people in this country gave all sorts of things away bit by bit until someone snuck up and took what was left right out from under our noses and put like minded people under him. If he wins this election, the U.S. is pretty much finished.

"Just look around. There are people still trying to call for help." Craig pointed to the now shattered windows looking out toward the intersection where seven cars were burning out of control. Two of the people were still repeatedly pushing 911 on their phones while they watched with wide eyes not even trying to help while Craig was had blood covering his hands from pushing napkins into the dozens of deep wounds covering the man's face and torso.

Craig pointed over at Nate. "Your own son, Nate, sitting right here, is on one of Ashwood's watch lists as a suspected undesirable. Even as I am telling you this, federal agents who come across people on theses watch lists are picking them up and holding them."

Nate pulled off the headset and stared at Craig, "Undesirable?" Nate looked crushed as he spoke the word, "What'd I ever do?"

"You're a budding fag!" David snorted, "And you know it! We all do!"

Tears poured down Nate's cheeks as Craig stood with clenched fists only to see Mrs. Teller's hand crash into David's mouth.

"David, you are grounded!"

David gritted his teeth as he took a couple of steps back from the table. "Without me, Nate-the-gnat, as most of the kids call him, would come home every night black and blue or worse. Well, I'm done. Next time I'll let them kick your ass and laugh about it, shithead."

More tears spilled out of Nate's eyes. "You only jumped in because they were teasing you about me being your brother!"

"Yeah, well you're on your own now, Natey!" David spat out a bit of blood from where his lip was split.

"You think letting your bother get picked on will make your life easier?" Craig roared as he moved to stand between Nate and Dave. "It won't. It is the same tactic the government is using against races, religions and sexual orientations. Now they are dividing families too. They'll still continue to treat you like crap."

"Not if I walk out there, find a cop, and tell someone about him and dad!"

Craig shook his head, "Davy, get a grip. Since your bother and your dad are both on lists, they'll just as likely take you as well."

"Yeah, well I'm not a homo and I'll tell them whatever they want!"

"Cause that is what school has taught you to do." Craig countered. "I bet you believe global warming is the greatest threat to us too."

"It is!"

"So all the brainwashing has worked. While you are worried about global warming the government is taking your freedoms, putting your family on a watch list and telling you how to live, their excuse; global warming, or obesity, or high cholesterol, whatever the fear they push into your brain, it's all to help them control enough of us to get elected and pass more laws to control more people. The worst part is it's working. This time, however, I think they went too fast and too far. A revolution of sorts is coming and I am going to be on the front lines of it.

"So, I tell them about you too um... Recon!"

Another voice came from the door, "You'll have to get through me to go tell someone, which isn't going to happen, so quit before your fat lip becomes the least of your problems."

Craig's moth twisted upwards into a smirk, "Davy, meet Destructicon."

David moved straight at Alexander, "Move before I break you in half."

"David Teller you stop this instant!" His mother roared as if on autopilot.

"Screw you, mom." David shouted without breaking pace. As he closed on Alexander his hands formed into fists as he continued to shout, "I'm going to tell the cops about all of you and I bet there is a reward for..." His words turned into a shriek of pain as Alexander grabbed the fist thrown at him and turned it into a wrist lock. He then switched over to an arm bar and flipped the older and bigger boy.

David landed flat on his back, seeing stars. Before he could do more than cry out he found his arm grabbed and the twist on his wrist forced him onto his stomach.

Alexander wasted no time grabbing both arms and shoving them up into the small of David's back, "Kid, one move and I will break both your collarbones and a couple of ribs just because I can."

Levi entered and glanced down at David and over to Craig. His eyebrows shot up as Scott moved in behind the chaperone and patted the man on the back, "I told you he didn't need help."

"Yeah... So I see..." The man then glanced over at Craig, "Grab your computer. It's time to go!"

"We can't just leave these people here..."

"If the Teller's want to follow us out of the city they can. We will be getting an Austin PD escort. Then they are on their own. I won't let some loose cannon little brat jeopardize any of you. Now move!"

Mrs. Teller glanced over with a faraway look, "We'll just go home..."

Craig's jaw feel open at the comment as he realized everything he had just said had been wasted. He looked at the man he had been trying to patch up them back at the chaperone, "But..."

"Help is on the way, now move it or I'll carry you out of here!"

Alexander saw a window where no one was within him and used it. He smacked David's face into the tile extremely hard before jumping up. "Come on Recon; We'll check up on Nate once we are secure. If Ashwood makes a move on him, we'll stop him."

Craig whispered something into Nate's ear then moved to join the others from EEL. As he stepped though the shattered window and looked back at Nate, "You all need to leave."

Before he could say more the chaperone grabbed Craig and all but shoved him into the waiting van.

At the same time the van was pulling out of the Whataburger parking lot with a pair of Austin PD escorts, Rafael Latz, the U.S. Attorney General glanced over at the two men in his office. "Who do you have down in Austin?"

The taller man, with a hint of graying hair, straightened his suit. "We have a few Guatemalan runners and their people in San Marcos."

The shorter one shrugged, "I've got all sorts of assets in Houston. I can have them there in just a couple of hours if I can contact them. Problem is, phones have gone to shit down there."

"If you can get the right people, I can find a way for you to contact them, Attorney General Latz stated with total certainly.

The shorter man shorted, "Then tell me what'a ya need Raf, and I'll make it happen."

Rafael stood put his hands on his desk and leaned forward, "What I need is to work with people who have a higher IQ than then the average wattage of a light bulb. Our supposed best internet security people are tripping over themselves like some Benny Hill Show ending while more and more of what President Ashwood has done is spilling from all points of the globe. Already all the FCC's efforts to cut Bryce and his fag-boy buddy's voice out of the main stream media has been blown wide open, and now the terrorist charges we have against them are crumbling as the details are going live. If we don't act soon, we may not be even able to label him as such

"But that is water under the bridge and not your problem. Now, I need a couple of reliable squads in Austin sniffing the streets. Someone must know something about what the hell is shitting on us down there. I also need a squad to head up to Breckenridge Texas to see how one of our secret hubs was so easily penetrated. From what I hear, it had to have come from within the town even if our Cyber Security whore's latest fling says otherwise. Ashwood thinks the same thing."

The taller man shifted uncomfortably, "I got no one who really knows commuters, Bro. We can poke around, but we'll stick out..."

"I think Ashwood is going to handle Breckenridge, but I want one some of our type of people to hang and see if anyone stands out.

The taller man shrugged, "I got no problem taking out some white trash."

This got a Grin on Rafael's face, but he shook his head. "As nice as that would be, that's not what we need, what I need. If you want me to give you corridors into the U.S., Ashwood has to stay in control. I need to find someone, anyone, who knows something and secure them. We then need to keep them outside of the normal system, since, as we are seeing, the system is leaking like a rat being sprayed with a Mack 10.

The taller man snickered, "Those were the days, huh?"

Rafael grinned widely, "Yeah, they sure were. It was easier back then, but this is way more profitable. Now get with your people and remind them, I need to be able to talk to whoever they find. Those around them, not so much."

This got a hardy laugh out of both men who exchanged old South L.A. handshakes.

The Attorney General then hit a buzzer. A Secret Service agent immediately opened the door and looked in. "These two need secure communications into Texas. Get them what they need and get me a chopper. I want to see what idiot let hackers into Quantico!"

"Yes sir!" the woman stated while motioning the two men to accompany her.

Rafael took a deep breath and sat back in his chair. Once he was sure the door was closed, he picked up his desk pone and spoke. "Get me secure communications to our senior field agent in Austin."

A few seconds passed before a voice came over the phone, "This is Senior Agent Paulson, sir."

"Paulson, I haven't met you, but your file speaks for itself. I have activated some outside resources. I want you to make sure we don't tread on their efforts."

"Not a problem sir. Get me the information and I'll make sure we keep out of their way, but we have another situation, sir."

"Oh, for fuck sake, now what?"

"At some point during all the hacking, the facility we operate with the church's help was breached. Nine of the twenty one being retrained escaped and have not been recovered. Eight others got out, but were quickly rounded up."

Rafael felt his heart rate speed up to a point he hadn't felt since he used to snort lines. "You best not be telling me Lawrence is one of them!"

"No, he was in the more secure building, but we lost Aaron."

Rafael's fist slammed down on his desk. "Damn-it to hell! Get some people up there and find him! If he turns up on the net alive between now and the election, we're royally fucked!"

"I lost contact with the facility when the power went out, and I already have a couple of our more trusted junior agents in route." Paulson growled, "How the hell did we let the power go down when we were closing on them?"

"From what I hear, we killed it."

Paulson's hand clenched the secure hand help communication unit so hard the plastic case made a few cracking sounds. "What jackass pulled the plug? It fucked us down here!"

"Some cyber security advisor or something, but the bitch sucks cock like a five grand a night whore, so I am not sure the President will let me touch her." Rafael spat in disgust.

"Well, tell him she totally fucked us and let them wipe out what little operational capabilities I had left. Pulling the power down let them find and take out the rest of the TACs. Thanks to her wonderful actions, all our extra mobile command centers are down here with viruses wiping out everything while the hacking moved up to Breckenridge totally unchecked. I'm betting this has been part their plan all along, and we took it hook line and sinker. What the hell am I supposed to do with no computers to facilitate any kind of search?"

"Move up toward Breckenridge and see if you can help in the each. If not, sit tight keep your ears open. If Aaron shows up anywhere up there do what I recommended from the start."

"Fine but sitting on my ass is not really my style."

"You won't be putting ass cheek divots in any chairs for too long." Rafael stated with a great deal of Certainty. "I'm sure we'll come up with new orders shortly. The President is calling an emergency meeting. You may want to round up a few extra commodities as well in case you need to bug out. At least with a few of them you can use one or two to relocate and still have a few more for cash and creature comforts."

"Fine," Paulson responded after a few moments. "I'll head up there as soon as I get the information on who I need our people to get clear of and make sure everyone understands the situation up to their security level. This will give me a chance to round up a few undesirables, too. But, I want it known, I am not about to run unless given the orders to do so."

"So I guessed, which is why you are now lead filed agent for the entire region. Win or lose, you will be well rewarded." Rafael promised before hanging up.

Four hours later, Fredric tossed another log in the fire pit at his estate overlooking Hubbard Creek Lake less than five miles from Breckenridge Texas. He looked over at the boys as they talked over the day and all they had done. The CEO glanced up at the stars knowing he now had more possible counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor charges than he could truly fathom. He had done the very thing he had promised the parents of these boys he would not allow to happen, and he still couldn't say he had done anything wrong. In fact, after everything he had found out and seen over the course of the day, he was certain they had done the right thing. Still his actions and those of the children he was currently responsible for had caused real loss of life and this didn't sit well with him at all. Of course, as Craig pointed out, they hadn't done anything nor could they have predicted the government would have reacted with such extreme actions. The government had actually done all the real damage, but still... Fredric let out a long breath; only time would tell.

He glanced down at his watch. The polespolls would be closed across the country in about twenty four hours. Until then, he would keep the kids here, isolated and safe. At least such was the plan.


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