Castle Roland

Book I

by MultiMapper


Chapter 1

Posted: N/A

Copyright © 2012 - 2015 by MultiMapper and The Revolutions Universe Partnership
All Rights Reserved

The Writing on the Wall

Metamorphosis Logo"What the fuck are you looking at?" The young man snapped.

Two sets of eyes went large in fear and both boys seemed to be poised to run for their lives, but the taller of the two somehow worked up the courage to ask, "Um… I Um… Can you spare some of that food?"

The young man looked down at the two shopping bags that he was carrying, then at the boys, who might not even 'officially' be teenagers. Finally, in a more gentle voice, he said, "No. I'm going to need all of this. But if you two are hungry, you could have dinner at my house, tonight."

The smaller boy looked at his companion urgently, begging with his eyes.

The larger boy seemed to be conflicted, knowing that the decision was his.

"Listen. I don't have time to fuck around. Fucking teachers think I got nothin better to do than listen to their bullshit after the final bell rings. So I'm running late and I need to get dinner started. You guys can follow me or not, it's up to you." The young man said firmly, then started walking.

After a few seconds, there was a sound of scrambling feet behind him. In less than a minute, the pair of boys fell into step at his side.

"I'm Bax and this is Ro." The shorter of the boys said nervously.

"What're you guys doing out on your own? Did you run away from home?" The young man asked as he kept walking at a steady pace.

"No. Me and Bax met in a group home. But when the home filled up, they kicked us out." Ro said quietly.

"We didn't do nothin' wrong." Bax interjected, in a pleading tone.

"Don't worry, I believe you. You're not the first kids that they've dumped on the streets. In fact, I think it's happening just about every day now." The young man said regretfully.

Conversation stopped as they reached the corner and had to wait for the crosswalk light to change before they could go.

Once they reached the other side, the young man turned right and led the way away from the shops and toward a more residential area.

As the bright sunlight started to be broken by the cover of trees lining the street, Bax hesitantly asked, "What's your name?"

"Bug." The young man responded seriously.

"Bug?" Bax asked incredulously.

"Yeah, I was called that because my initials are V. W., after that it just kind of stuck with me." The young man said, then paused to look for traffic before crossing the street at the next corner.

"How old are you, Bug?" Bax asked curiously.

"I just turned seventeen." Bug said casually, then glanced at the younger of the two boys and asked, "How old are you?"

"I'm twelve." Bax said with a smile.

Bug noticed the glare that Bax got from his companion.

They walked in silence for a moment, then Bax quietly said, "Well, almost. In a few months."

Bug reluctantly smiled, then said, "A few months is nothing. I'll consider you twelve. What about you, Ro?"

"I'm twelve." He said, then glanced at Bax before adding, "I'm 'really' twelve."

"This is my house." Bug said as he turned and walked on stepping stones to a modest little home. It wasn't as big or as nice as some of the other homes in the neighborhood, but it was well maintained and far from being an eyesore.

"Do you live here alone?" Bax asked hesitantly as he stood away from Bug on the porch.

"Hardly." Bug chuckled as he unlocked the front door.

Ro and Bax shared a concerned look before reluctantly following Bug into the house.

"Would you guys put the food in the kitchen? It's right through there. I need to check on my Oma before I start on supper." Bug asked as he held out the bags to them and nodded his head toward the kitchen.

"Sure!" Bax said with a smile, happy that Bug was asking him to help.

Bug returned the smile, then hurried off to a hallway on the right.

Ro and Bax walked into the kitchen to find that while everything looked old and well worn, it was spotlessly clean.

"Should we try to put stuff away?" Bax asked cautiously.

"No. He said he was gonna make supper, so he'll probably need it out here." Ro said as he carefully placed the shopping bag he was carrying on the counter by the stove.

"Look." Bax whispered as he pointed to a collection of crayon drawings on the refrigerator.

After a moment of looking, Ro quietly said, "Maybe Bug has a little brother or sister.."

"You guys doing okay?" Bug asked as he walked into the kitchen.


"Fine." The boys said as they turned to face Bug, feeling as though they had been caught snooping.

"Spaghetti okay with you guys?" Bug asked as he started to take his groceries out of the bags.

"God! Yes!" Ro exclaimed.

Bug turned at the unexpected response and quietly asked, "How long has it been since you guys have eaten anything?"

"Well, a lady gave us each an apple this morning, but no one gave us anything yesterday so…"

"I get it." Bug said simply, then walked to the cupboard above the refrigerator and took down a folded closed bag of potato chips.

"It's going to take a little while for me to get this ready, so you guys can munch on these if you want."

"Thanks!" Ro said as he quickly took the bag from Bug's hand.

"Remember to share." Bug said seriously, then turned back to the groceries.

Bug easily lost himself in the familiar task of cooking dinner until he was finally interrupted by a voice.

"Is there anything we can do to help?" Bax asked from his place at the table where he and Ro were sliding the bag of chips back and forth between them, alternating taking handfuls.

"If you want, you guys could put the leaf in the table and drag the chair in from the study." Bug said as he worked on combining ingredients in a saucepan on the stove.

"Um, I don't know how to do the leaf thing." Ro said timidly.

Bug turned to see the confused look on Bax's face and was reasonably sure he didn't have a clue as to what a 'leaf' was.

"One of you guys get on each end of the table and pull. When it slides apart enough, you can put the leaf in. The leaf is between the side of the refrigerator and the cabinet." Bug said seriously with a vague gesture toward the refrigerator, then turned his attention back to his cooking.

Bug heard a few grunts and finally the low groan of the table as it separated.

"That's kewl! I never knew it could do that!" Bax said with a chuckle.

"My dads used to…" Ro began to say, then fell silent.

Bug turned when the silence seemed to have gone on too long, and found Ro being held and comforted by his younger friend.

Although his first instinct was to stay out of what he knew was none of his business, Bug finally asked, "Did they take you away from your fathers just because they're a gay couple?"

After a long moment, Ro finally looked Bug in the eyes and slowly nodded.

"There's a phone over there on the wall if you want to call your dads to let them know that you're alright." Bug said gently.

"The CPS lady said that I'm not allowed to call them or go see them, that if I do that, my dads will get into all kinds of trouble and maybe even go to jail because of it." Ro said in a trembling voice.

"CPS can kiss my skinny white ass! Left, right and smack dab in the middle!" Bug said, then walked to the phone and asked, "What's their number?."

After a moment of hesitation, Ro slowly recited the number from memory.

Bug dialed in the number, then motioned for Ro to come to him.

"Hello?" Bug said into the phone.

"Listen. You don't know me, but a friend of yours named Ro is here, if you'd like to talk to him…"


"Yes, I get what you're saying…"

"No, no. I've got it."

"Yes, I understand." Bug said seriously, then hung up the phone.

There was a moment of silence, then Ro hesitantly asked, "He didn't want to talk to me?"

Bug realized what the conversation must have sounded like to Ro and quickly said, "No. I'm pretty sure that he wants to talk to you so bad it's killing him. But he was hinting that his phone calls are being monitored, so I'm guessing that what you said before was right. Being caught talking to you might be enough to get him thrown in jail. He told me where and when you two can meet up in a chat room on the Internet."

"Can't we do it now?" Ro asked hopefully.

"Although he didn't say so, I think the plan is for either one or both of your fathers to go somewhere that they can access the Internet without it likely being traced. And considering how things are, I think that we're probably going to do the same thing, rather than use the Internet connection here at the house." Bug said frankly.

"I can't believe we have to go through all this just so I can talk to my dads." Ro said with a shake of his head.

"Yeah, thank President Asshat for that. The dickwad made love an act of terrorism." Bug growled as he went back to the stove.

"Are you gay?" Bax asked curiously.

"That's something you don't ask people, especially now." Bug said as he stirred the pan of sauce.

"Sorry." Bax said quietly.

"Don't worry about it." Bug said casually, then added, "Why don't you guys get the table finished so you can set it?"

"Oh! Yeah! Right!" Ro stammered as he came back from his distant thoughts, then walked to get the leaf from beside the refrigerator.

"Can I use your bathroom?" Bax asked timidly.

"Sure, it's at the end of the hall. The lock in the door knob doesn't work, so make sure you slide the slide bolt or Oma might walk in on you." Bug said seriously.

Bax shyly nodded, then dashed out of the room.

There was a long silence that followed, then Ro quietly said, "Thank you for feeding us. I was really starting to get worried."

Bug put down his wooden spoon, then turned and said, "There are still good people in the world, it's just gotten a lot more difficult for us to do the right thing."

"I don't know what we're going to do next." Ro said as tears started welling in his eyes.

"I don't know either. Maybe your fathers will have some ideas." Bug said gently.

A slight nod was Ro's only response.

"After dinner, I could use your help getting the hide-a-bed out of the garage. We can set it up in the study so you and Bax can have your own room." Bug said as he walked to the cabinet and took down two cans of creamed corn.

There was a long silence, then Ro hesitantly asked, "You're going to let us stay here?"

"Unless I missed something, I figure you two don't have anyplace else to go. So, until you and your fathers can come up with something better, I don't see any reason why not." Bug said frankly.

"But… CPS…" Ro said reluctantly.

"Believe me when I tell you that I know how the CPS system works. For most of the last ten years they've been fucking with me, and I've beaten them at every turn. And I tell you what, next summer when I finally turn eighteen, I'm gonna tell that shriveled up cunt, Carolyn Rind, to go fuck herself." Bug said firmly.

"Why were they after you?" Ro asked hesitantly.

"It's a really long story. But, basically, my parents died when I was nine. The cops notified my Oma Shoupe, my mom's mom, and she came here to take care of me. But that cocksucking bitch, Carolyn Rind, thought that because Oma was over seventy years old that I'd be better off in her 'State Facility'." Bug said as he made little air quotes.

"It shouldn't be like this." Ro said in a lost voice.

"You're right. But, the way I see it, it's not going to change unless WE change it." Bug said simply, then opened the cans of creamed corn with the electric can opener.

"But what can we do?" Ro asked helplessly.

"Be kind to each other. Help out when you can. And maybe, if you see some hungry kids when you're leaving the grocery store, you help them out instead of walking away…" Bug finished with a shrug.

Ro slowly nodded as he thought about the words.

"But for now, why don't you go check on Bax? From as long as he's been in there, he might have fallen in." Bug asked with a grin.

"Huh? Oh, yeah."

"Where's the toilet paper?" Ro asked as he walked into the kitchen, barely restraining his giggles.

"In the bottom of the little closet right outside the bathroom door. Tell Bax that I'm sorry." Bug said as he placed a large handful of spaghetti noodles into a pot of boiling water.

"Yeah." Ro chuckled as he left the kitchen.

Bug turned down the burner under the spaghetti noodles, then heard the front door opening and closing.

He stepped away from the stove enough to see through the living room, then called out, "I'm in the kitchen!"

Bug quickly stirred the spaghetti sauce and the creamed corn and was just putting down the spoon when a young man and woman walked into the kitchen.

"Thank you for bringing him home, Amber. Would you like to stay for supper? We have plenty." Bug offered with a smile.

"It smells great, but my mom is expecting me. I've got to go." Amber said regretfully.

"Then maybe next time." Bug said with a warm smile at her.

"Yeah. Real soon." Amber said quietly, then turned to her companion and said, "I'll see you at work tomorrow, Lawrence."

"Yeah. It was fun today. See you tomorrow." Lawrence said with an ear to ear grin.

Amber smiled gently at Lawrence, then leaned in and gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

"Bye!" Lawrence said happily as he watched her leave.

Bug checked to see that everything on the stove was okay, then turned to Lawrence and asked, "So you had a good day at work?"

"Yeah! Mr. Mann said I did a real good job today and everyone was real nice to me." Lawrence said happily.

"I'm glad you had a good day." Bug said sincerely, then cautiously asked, "Did you remember to take your medicine?"

Lawrence thought for a moment, then opened his lunch box and retrieved his pill bottle from inside.

When Bug heard the rattle of the pills, he quietly said, "You've got to remember to take your medicine."

Lawrence seemed to have a strange look on his face. When Bug turned to follow his gaze, he found Ro standing in the doorway, looking in cautiously.

"Ro, this is my brother, Lawrence. Lor, this is a new friend of mine, his name is Ro."

"Wow!" Ro whispered as he looked at Lawrence in awe. The man was gorgeous with blond hair, light blue eyes and on top of that, he was cute as can be.

Lawrence smiled at Ro's reaction and his eyes seemed to sparkle with delight.

Bug rolled his eyes, then walked to the sink and drew a glass of water.

"Take your pills before you have a stroke." Bug said as he approached his brother.

Lawrence turned his attention away from Ro, then looked at Bug curiously.

"Take your pills." Bug said as he offered the glass.

Lawrence accepted the water and took the pills before quietly saying, "I'm sorry I forgot."

"I'm not mad at you, Lor. I'm worried for you." Bug said gently, then added, "I know that every time you miss your meds, that you're risking a seizure or a stroke."

"I hate that I can't remember stuff." Lawrence said as he pulled his brother into his arms.

"Sorry about that." Bax said as he walked into the kitchen, then stopped at the sight of Lawrence.

"Bax, this is my brother Lawrence." Bug said pleasantly, then turned to his brother and said, "Lawrence, this is our other guest. His name is Bax."

"Hi." Lawrence said with a grand smile at the younger boy.

Bax looked from Lawrence to Bug, trying to see them as brothers. Lawrence was blond haired and blue eyed, while Bug had brown hair pulled back into a ponytail and eyes that were almost the same dark color. The difference was drastic, but when Bax looked at their eyes and the shape of their faces, he could see a family resemblance.

"Hey, Lawrence, would you go into the study and get the chair from the desk?" Bug asked as he carefully picked up the boiling pot of water and carried it to the sink.

"Do you want me to tell Oma that it's time for supper?" Lawrence asked as he walked to the door.

"Yeah. Tell her that the news will still be waiting on her when she's done eating." Bug said as he dumped the cooked spaghetti noodles into a colander in the sink.

"What's wrong with your brother?" Ro asked in a whisper.

"He was beaten, nearly to death, and ended up with permanent brain damage." Bug said regretfully.

Ro stared in horror and disbelief at the kitchen door that Lawrence had walked through.

"Someone beat him up?" Bax asked hesitantly.

"Yes. That, and more. I suppose that if there's anything good about what happened to him it's that he doesn't remember any of it." Bug said as he fought to keep his tears at bay.

"It's because he's gay, isn't it?" Ro asked quietly.

Before Bug could answer, Lawrence walked into the kitchen, carrying a chair that matched the chairs already around the table.

"Is Oma ready to eat?" Bug asked cautiously.

"Yeah. Don't worry, I'll get her." Lawrence said after putting down the chair.

Bug nodded and watched as Lawrence left the room.

"He got beat up and is like this now, just because he's gay, right?" Bax asked as he looked at Bug seriously.

After a moment, Bug reluctantly said, "The thing that gets me most is that the cops acted like it wasn't even a crime. They acted like he got what he deserved."

Before Bug could say more, Lawrence slowly walked into the room with an extremely elderly woman at his side.

"Who is this? You should have told me that we have company! And here I am, coming to dinner in my nightgown." the old woman said as Bug hurried to her other side.

Bax and Ro watched as Bug and Lawrence each held one of the woman's arms to steady her as she carefully lowered herself to sit on the chair.

"Oma Shoupe, these guys are Bax and Ro. I met them when I was leaving the store and invited them to have dinner with us." Bug said gently.

The woman looked at the younger of the two boys, then asked, "What's your name, young man?"

"I'm Bax." the boy responded timidly.

Oma Shoupe held her gaze on the boy, causing him to squirm.

Finally, he said, "My real name is Baxter, Baxter Reynolds."

Oma Shoupe smiled at the boy, then turned her curious gaze to Ro.

"I'm Ronan O'Connor." he said timidly.

"It's very nice to meet both of you. Please excuse me for not being better dressed. My grandsons didn't warn me that we had company." Oma Shoupe said gently.

"You looked like you were really interested in your TV, I didn't want to interrupt." Bug said frankly, as he placed a plate of spaghetti noodles in front of Oma Shoupe.

"Have you seen the news, today?" Oma Shoupe asked as she looked at her grandson.

"I have better things to do than watch that election stuff all day." Bug said as he carefully put butter on top of his grandmother's spaghetti noodles.

"Then you haven't heard about what happened to President Bryce this morning?" Oma Shoupe asked in surprise.

"No." Bug said automatically, then seemed to suddenly realize that it wasn't a casual question and muttered, "Oh shit! Don't tell me that President Bryce had an 'accident'."

Oma Shoupe looked her grandson in the eyes and slowly nodded.

Silence fell over the room until Bug finally found the courage to ask, "Is he dead?"

"No." Oma Shoupe said simply, then carefully added, "From the sound of it, he probably should be. Him and his family were attacked in the middle of the night with enough firepower to take down a small country. But somehow, him and his family were able to escape."

Bug let out a sigh of relief, then walked to the stove to start carrying food to the table as he said, "You scared me. If President Bryce had died… as far as I can tell, he's the only hope we've got."

As Bug placed the food in the center of the table, he said, "You guys dig in and help yourselves. I made plenty."

Lawrence was the first one to make it to the pan of spaghetti noodles, but rather than serve himself, he placed a large pile of noodles on Bax's plate.

"Is that enough?" Lawrence asked when he was finished.

"Yeah. It's great. Thanks." Bax said with a huge smile.

"The sauce is right there. Help yourself." Bug said as he watched Lawrence put a large serving of noodles on Ro's plate.

"You should know, Mrs. Bryce and one of their sons, Chris, were shot while trying to get to safety." Oma Shoupe said as she watched for Bug's reaction.

"Oh no! How are they? I mean, are they dead?" Bug asked with concern.

"No. At least, not yet. President Bryce said that Chris is going to recover. However, his wife and her unborn baby… we'll just have to wait and see." Oma Shoupe said gently.

Bug sat, as his mind raced over what his Oma had told him and other things, secret things, that he knew about the political climate in the country.

"Eat something, Bug. You starving yourself won't help that woman or her baby." Oma Shoupe said seriously.

After a moment, Bug finally seemed to come back to himself, then said, "Guys, as soon as we're done with supper, we need to head out. There's some things I need to check on."

"Didn't you want to get the hide-a-bed from the garage?" Ro asked curiously.

"We can do that when we get back. We need to do this first." Bug said, then noticed his Oma's glare.

"But for now, we'll eat." Bug said with a smile at her, then stood to get some food for his plate.

"Leave the dishes. We'll get them when we get back." Bug said as soon as he got back from helping Oma Shoupe to her room.

"You never leave dirty dishes for later." Lawrence said as he looked at his brother cautiously.

"Yeah, well, today I do." Bug said, then continued, "Lawrence, will you take the guys out to the car. I just need to get my laptop and I'll be right there.

"You never take the car. You say gas costs too much." Lawrence said slowly.

"Please, Lor, just take the guys out." Bug said, then handed Lawrence his keys and dashed away, not waiting for a response.

As Bug walked into his bedroom, he disconnected his almost seven year old laptop from it's charger. When he picked it up, he slid his hand underneath to the patch of duct tape that held the battery in place. He carefully turned it over and placed the laptop in a brightly colored cloth tote bag that his mom had once used for her knitting.

After that, he grabbed a collection of thumb drives and cords and cables and dropped them into the bag

As he was about to leave, he seemed to think better of it, then walked to his bed and reached underneath, searching blindly with his hand.

Bug took the shoebox and placed it on the bed, then opened it.

He hesitated for a moment, then took the gun into his hand and slid the clip into place.

With a sigh, he placed the gun and two more clips of ammo into the tote with his laptop, before leaving.

"Wow, this car is really old." Ro said as Lawrence led the way.

"Yeah. Oma says that it's older than I am." Lawrence said happily.

"Should we get in?" Bax asked cautiously.

"Yeah. Bug gave me the keys." Lawrence said as he stepped forward to unlock the door.

"I think Bug's really freaked out about President Bryce." Ro said frankly.

"I think President Bryce is nice. I think he's a really good dad." Lawrence said as he reached inside the car to open the lock on the back door.

"Yeah. I think you're right." Bax said with a smile at Lawrence.

"Keys?" Bug called out as he walked away from the house.

Lawrence held them out, offering them to Bug.

"Get in. Gotta go." Bug said as he walked quickly around the front of the car.

Lawrence and the boys rushed to get in, fully expecting Bug to leave without them if they weren't quick enough.

"What's wrong, Bug? Why are you in such a hurry?" Ro asked cautiously.

"I don't like people who say stuff without knowing what they're talking about. They piss me right the fuck off." Bug said as he pulled out of the driveway a little bit quicker than necessary.

Ro fumbled for his seatbelt and noticed that Bax was doing the same.

"There's some stuff I need to check out. As soon as I'm sure that I know what I'm talking about, I'll tell you as much as I can." Bug said as he quickly navigated the maze of residential streets.

"Are we in danger?" Bax asked cautiously.

"As soon as I know, I'll tell you." Bug said firmly as he pulled the car down an alley, then swung into a parking lot.

Bax and Ro looked at each other with concern.

"Bug! Thank God! What's going on?" The barista asked as Bug entered from the back parking lot.

"You tell me, Junie. What's going on?" Bug asked in return.

"I don't know. There's this weird vibe going around tonight. It's starting to freak me out." Junie said frankly.

"Listen. The reason I'm here is to see if I can find out. Do you have a banger that I can borrow for a little bit?" Bug asked seriously.

"Sure. Take a seat at the bar and I'll get it for you. Do you need any coffee?" Junie asked cautiously.

"Yeah, my usual with a double shot. These guys are with me, could you run a tab? I'm gonna be really busy and I don't want to have to fuck around with paying out every five minutes." Bug said seriously.

"You know the new owner doesn't want me running tabs." Junie said firmly, then broke into a smile as she added, "But since it's you, I'll do it for a kiss."

Bug was surprised by her request but before he could react, he noticed that she was smiling shyly at Lawrence.

"Hey Lawrence, it's time to take one for the team." Bug said as he walked to Lawrence's side, managing to catch his brother's attention.

"What?" Lawrence asked in confusion.

"Junie wants you to give her one of your 'big boy' kisses." Bug said quietly.

"But she's a girl." Lawrence said with an uneasy look.

"I know. But she's a good friend and she really likes you. I think it'll be okay to give her a taste of what she can never have." Bug said with a playful smile.

"Huh?" Lawrence asked in confusion.

"Just give Junie a good kiss. Remember how nice she's always been to you and let her feel how much you like her." Bug said as he looked into his brother's eyes.

Lawrence looked to Junie and found her waiting expectantly for him.

Hesitantly, he stepped forward.

Junie smiled with anticipation.

Lawrence closed the distance between them, then pulled Junie into his arms and began to kiss her deeply and passionately.

"Whoah! Your brother sure can kiss." Ro said in astonishment at the scene.

"Yeah. He's like sex on legs. Unfortunately, he can't tell when someone just wants to use him. Every single time he goes in all innocent and loving with all his heart, and every single time, he comes back to me broken and hurting." Bug said quietly.

"Why don't you try to stop him?" Ro asked curiously.

"What happens to Lawrence if something happens to me? Oma can't take care of him. Oma can't even take care of herself. I'm hoping that someday Lawrence will find the guy who completes him." Bug said as he watched Lawrence and Junie end their kiss.

"What about you?" Ro asked gently.

"I don't matter." Bug said as he noticed the befuddled look on Junie's face.

As he walked up to the barista, Bug asked, "So, can I run a tab?"

"First rounds on me." Junie said breathlessly.

"Ro, come on over here and I'll get you set up for your chat." Bug said as he motioned for Ro to walk with him to the long coffee bar that spanned the entire length of the room.

"Can I play a game?" Lawrence asked his brother hopefully, but seemed to be poised for disappointment.

"Yeah. Why don't you and Bax play together?" Bug asked as he took out his wallet, then said to his brother, "This is for both of you."

Lawrence looked at the twenty dollar bill in Bug's hand, then rushed forward to hug his brother before taking the money and dashing away to the game room.

"We're going to be right here, Bax. You go and have fun. Lawrence has your game money." Bug said with a smile, then noticed Ro's curious gaze.

"I figured you wouldn't want them underfoot while you were talking to your fathers." Bug said with a shrug.

Ro nodded as Junie carried a capped cup of coffee to Bug.

"Can I get you anything?" Junie asked Ro pleasantly.

"What do you have?" Ro asked cautiously.

Junie smiled at him and pointed up.

It took a second for Ro to figure out what she meant, but finally he looked upward to find a menu board that spanned the entire length of the room.

After briefly looking over the foods, desserts and drinks available, Ro finally asked, "Can I have a Coke?"

"Oh. One of those nights!" Junie said as she walked away.

"What about that banger?" Bug called out to her.

Junie glanced at him and nodded as she continued on her way.

"What's a banger?" Ro asked hesitantly.

"This place is as much an Internet Cafe as it is a Coffee House. They have a few old laptops that they keep as loaners, just to help out regulars like me or someone in an emergency." Bug said casually before taking a sip of his drink.

Ro turned when he saw Junie walking toward them, on the other side of the bar.

"Will you plug me in, Junie?" Bug asked as he held out one end of a CAT-5 cable.

"I think you're probably the last person in this state who doesn't have wireless." Junie said frankly as she placed Ro's Coke and the 'banger' laptop on the bar.

"I have a wireless dongle, I just don't trust my information being broadcast on an open frequency." Bug said frankly.

Junie plugged in the cable, then said, "As paranoid as that sounds, I kind of agree with you."

"This one, too." Bug said as he handed her another CAT-5.

At her questioning look, Bug explained, "For the banger."

"Will there be anything else?" Junie asked as she playfully cocked her head to one side and thrust her hip out.

"Well, since you asked…" Bug said with a grin.

Junie rolled her eyes and seemed to be bracing herself.

"Will you keep an eye on Lawrence and Bax while we're doing our stuff? We're probably going to be focused on other things and I wouldn't want them to get into trouble."

"I'll come and get you if they seem to be having any problems. Besides, it looks like it's going to be a slow night. Quite a few of the regulars haven't come in." Junie said as she looked around.

"Ro, can you untangle this?" Bug asked as he handed him a headphone mic with a spaghetti tangle of cord.

Junie realized that Bug had receded into his own little world and smiled as she walked away to check on her other customers.

Ro watched as Bug booted up the 'banger' quickly and efficiently.

"What do I have to do?" Ro asked as he looked at the screen in front of him.

"Right now, just watch the screen for someone who looks familiar. Your dad said he'd be in this chat and he knows that you're going to be here. So he'll probably let you know he's here by saying something personal that only you and he would know."

"What do I do then?" Ro asked cautiously.

"Just talk to him for a minute or two and make one hundred percent sure that it's really your dad. Once you're sure, let me know and I'll get you two into a private chat where you can talk." Bug said seriously.

Ro nodded that he understood.

Bug searched through his collection of thumb drives before finding the one that he wanted.

After plugging the drive into the USB port, Bug booted his battered laptop and braced himself for what he was about to do.

Without thought, he keyed his instructions into his own, custom tailored version of Linux.

As text quickly flew across the screen, Bug became lost in the experience as his mind absorbed the blur of words flying by at lightning speed.

He was horrified by some of what he saw. By what he saw in the news feeds and open chat, the situation was far worse than he had imagined in his worst 'worst case' scenario.

Once he felt confident that he had browsed the majority of the new information topics, Bug set off in search of someone who would know the secret story of what was going on underneath it all. Bug knew better than to ask any questions of a sensitive nature in an open chat, so he started searching around for someone he trusted.

Bug had encountered many people in his travels of the Internet, but there were only a select few that he would count as his 'friends'. Strangely enough, the one thing all of them seemed to have in common was an almost fanatical need to protect their privacy.

Someone called 'Strangelove69′ tried to lure him into a private chat.

"Fucking perv." Bug muttered as he rejected the request, then switched to another layer of the room where he might have better success at finding someone he knew.

In the open chat, Bug wrote, "OllieFriend? You lurking here tonight?"

Bug waited for a moment, but when no response was forthcoming, he typed, "Gooseburger, where UB?"

Again there was no reply.

Bug was about to switch to another channel when he saw a message appear, "Buggie? Dat BU?"

When Bug saw the screen name, he smiled at his good luck.

Although he didn't count 'StudMffn" as one of his friends, it was mostly because Bug had always felt out of his (or her) league. StudMffn was something of a legend.

"You got a minute, Stud?" Bug typed hopefully.

"Prblm?" StudMffn immediately responded.

"Maybe. Private?" Bug asked anxiously, not knowing if StudMffn would take the time to talk to him.

Before he could wonder anymore, a private chat request scrolled up the screen.

Bug quickly keyed in the command to switch to the private chat.

"Wt up?" StudMffn asked as soon as they were both in the room.

"I think I may need help. Bryce/Ashwood situation stirring things up here. Could get real bad." Bug typed and felt a twinge at putting his fears into words.

"Where RU?"

"Orlando. Fla."


"Yeah. U know any1 who can help?"

"Help how?"

"Don't know. Need to get out. Brother=Gay AND Brain Damaged. Grandmother=Old, old. 2 kids, maybe gay and possibly their two gay fathers."

"U don't ask much."

"You don't get if you don't ask. Am I overreacting? Is it not as bad as it sounds?"

"Prbly worse."

"Ashwood rules here. We need out before we're stuck."

"Need 2 minutes to check on things. BRB"


"Has your dad shown up yet?" Bug asked as he moved to look over Ro's shoulder.

"I think that's him, but I'm scared to say anything in case it isn't." Ro said cautiously.

"Let me at that thing." Bug said as he scooted the laptop slightly so he could easily reach the keyboard.

He already had his hands on the keys when he realized what he was doing and muttered, "Fucking GUI."

"What's that?" Ro asked curiously.

"It's the training wheels on your computer. The 'Graphical User Interface'." Bug said as he used the mouse pad to move the cursor on the screen.

"There." Bug said, then asked, "Did your dads adopt you, or is one of them your real dad?"

"They adopted me, but as far as I'm concerned, they're both my real dads." Ro said firmly.

"You know what I mean." Bug said with a roll of his eyes, then asked, "When did they adopt you, what was the date?"

"April 10th, 2005." Ro said slowly, not knowing why Bug was asking.

In the message window on the screen, Bug typed, "04??2005″

Immediately, the number "10″ appeared in the window.

"Good. Where's that headset that I asked you to untangle?" Bug asked as he sent a brief private message, then switched to another window.

"Oh, it's right here." Ro said as he scrambled to get it.

"Plug it in, make sure you watch for which is mic and which is ear. Once it's in, you should be able to talk to your dad." Bug said as he initiated the voice chat. "This is encrypted, so you guys shouldn't have anything to worry about."

"Thanks, Bug! You're awesome!" Ro said with the beginnings of tears in his eyes.

"Maybe. We're about to find out." Bug said as he climbed back onto the stool in front of his own computer.

When Bug went back to his laptop, he found that StudMffn hadn't returned yet. So, while he had a moment, he took a sip of his coffee, which had gone cold, then walked to the doorway of the game room to check on his brother.

Bug smiled as he saw Lawrence and Bax playing against each other on a video game and laughing like they were having the time of their lives.

Slowly, Bug withdrew from the doorway with a smile on his face.

"Buggie, U there?"

"Yeah. U find help?"

"Airfield, Bent Willies, South of Orlando. Pickup @ 10pm. Can U make it?"

"We'll be there. Who am I meeting?"

"Don't know. Someone will be there. Codeword: Silverchair."

"Thanks, StudMffn. IOU."

"Got calls 2 make. Keep safe."


"CU L8R."


"Ro, I'm sorry to interrupt, but I'd like to talk to your fathers as soon as you can spare them for a minute." Bug said gently.

"Dad? The guy I was telling you about, his name is Bug, he wants to talk to you." Ro said quickly into the headset.

"Yeah, I love you, too. Tell Pop that I love him and miss him, too." Ro rushed to say as tears trailed down his cheeks.

After a moment, Ro took the headset off and offered it to Bug.

It took a moment for Bug to get the headset on and the microphone in the right place, but as soon as he was ready, he put an arm around Ro and quietly said, "This is Bug."

"My name is Walter Mason. Thank you so much for helping Ronan. I don't have words to express how much we appreciate you taking in Ronan and keeping him safe."

"That's fine. Listen. I don't know if you're aware of what's going on right now, but unless something really big happens to change things, Orlando's about to become a really unfriendly place to be."

"What do you mean?"

"I don't know how bad it's going to get, but everyone who is anyone in power in this state is for Ashwood. After the thing that happened with President Bryce this morning, I'm betting that they're going to start clamping down and I mean tight. When that happens, the poor, the weak, and the 'undesirables' will be the first to suffer. I'm planning to get us out of here and to somewhere outside of Ashwood country before that happens. If you want, you can come with us. I just hope it's not already too late." Bug said frankly.

"I'm sure that if we just keep our heads down and wait it out, everything will be fine." Walter said slowly, obviously not fully believing his own words.

"That's your choice. I don't have time to fuck around, here. I can't make you do anything. There's an airfield South of Orlando called 'Bent Willies'. A plane will be landing at ten o'clock to pick us up. If you want to go with us, meet us there. If not, I promise that Ro will call you as often as he can before Ashwood's goons cut civilian communications." Bug said seriously.

"You really think that they'll go that far?" Walter asked cautiously.

"They tried to assassinate President Bryce this morning. They shot his fucking kid and his eight month pregnant wife. So, yeah, I think they'll do that and a whole lot worse. Trust me, this is just the beginning. The gloves are about to come off." Bug said in a low, dangerous voice.

"We can't just give up everything we've worked so hard for. I can't believe…"

"I got no fucking time. Be there or not. It's up to you." Bug said, then ended the voice chat.

"I wanted to talk to him some more." Ro said with wide eyes filling with tears.

"Yeah, I want that too, Ro. Maybe at ten o'clock you'll get the chance, face to face." Bug said as he quickly started to unhook the laptops.

"Are you leaving already?" Junie asked with confusion.

"Yeah. Listen, from the way it looks, things are about to get real bad in Orlando… all of Florida, probably. I'm getting my family out of here. We're leaving right now." Bug said as he carefully put his laptop into his tote bag.

"You mean, right this minute?" Junie asked with surprise.

"That's exactly what I mean. You can come if you want, but only if you come with us right now." Bug said seriously.

"I can't." Junie said as she looked around the Coffee Shop.

"If you can't leave now, then get out as quick as you can. If you're gonna stay, then stock up on food, water and stuff that you can barter. And don't forget to get a gun." Bug said firmly as he walked to the game room door.

"You've got to be wrong." Junie said with a trembling voice.

"I hope so, Junie. But I really don't think I am." Bug said, then called into the game room, "Lor! Bax! We're leaving!"

"But we're not done." Lawrence whined.

"Bitch at me about it in the car. Let's get moving!" Bug said forcefully.

Ro looked Bax in the eyes and quietly said, "We need to go right now. It's important."

Bax looked at Ro with concern, then left the game without a second thought.

Lawrence gave the video game one last regretful look, then slowly walked to Bug's side.

As Bug led his group toward the back door, he heard Junie loudly saying, "Sorry folks, we're closing early! Drink'em up!"

"When we get to the house, could you guys help me out?" Bug asked as he pulled the car out of it's parking place.

"What can we do?" Ro asked without hesitation.

"Inside the garage, just inside the door is a rack with four backpacks. I was wondering if you could carry those to the car while I get Oma ready to leave."

"Leave where?" Bax asked suddenly.

"Away from here, Bax. And with any luck, my dads are going to go with us." Ro said as he looked his friend in the eyes.

"But where are we going?" Bax asked with concern.

"Anywhere but here." Bug answered before Ro could think of what to say.

"I'm trusting a friend of mine to get us someplace safe. I promise, that's all I know." Bug said as he glanced at Bax's worried gaze in the mirror.

Reluctantly, Bax nodded that he understood.

"If anyone needs to use the bathroom or get a drink, you'd better do it while we're here. There won't be anymore stops before the airport." Bug said as he pulled the car into the driveway.

"I don't need to pee." Lawrence said seriously.

"Do me a favor and try anyway, will you?" Bug asked gently as he walked to the back of the car and opened the trunk.

"Okay, Bug. I love you." Lawrence said as he walked to his younger brother and pulled him into a hug.

"I love you too, but we'll have all the time in the world for stuff like this once we've made it to the airport." Bug said as he briefly enjoyed the security of being held in his big brother's arms.

"Oma, I need for you to get dressed. We need to go somewhere." Bug said gently from her doorway.

"Have they declared martial law yet?" She asked, as she looked up from her place, sitting in the chair by her bed.

"No. I don't think so, but it won't be long." Bug said frankly.

"You boys go on. I'll just slow you down." Oma Shoupe said in a slightly quivering voice.

"Oma, when mom and dad died, you came and took care of me. You gave up everything you worked your whole life to build up, for me and Lawrence. You kept us a family when it seemed like the entire world was trying to tear us apart. It's my turn to take care of you." Bug said as he looked into her eyes.

Bug waited for a moment, then quietly said, "All you have to do is pull on a housedress and put on your shoes. That's it. I've taken care of everything else."

After a moment of hesitation, Oma Shoupe slowly stood from her chair, then walked to the closet.

Bug ran to the kitchen and before anything else, he collected all of Lawrence's and his Oma's medications. Once that was done, he went through the refrigerator and the cabinets to gather some short term supplies, just in case they were needed.

"Do you need any help?" Ro asked as he leaned in the kitchen doorway.

"Did you guys get all the backpacks into the car?" Bug asked quickly.

"Bax and Lawrence are putting the last two in now." Ro said seriously.

"Did everyone use the bathroom?" Bug asked as he looked around the kitchen one last time.

"Everyone but you." Ro said frankly, then held out his hands and said, "I'll take those if you want to take care of that."

"I don't need to…" Bug began to say.

"Will you do me a favor and try anyway?" Ro asked, with a mischievous grin.

"Yeah. Okay. But if Oma is ready to go before I'm done, will you help her? She gets unsteady if she has to walk very far." Bug asked hopefully.

"We'll be fine for the twenty seconds that you're gone." Ro said with a chuckle.

Bug looked at him uncertainly, but finally handed him the shopping bags.

As Bug left the bathroom, he remembered something and walked into his brother's bedroom.

After looking around briefly, Bug got down on the floor and reached under the bed.

He came back with a small box and peeked inside before closing it and walking purposefully to the door.

"Don't worry, Oma. We won't let you fall." Ro said as he gently held one of Oma Shoupe's arms.

Lawrence was on her other side, holding her hand.

Bax was walking ahead of them, and when he reached the door, he held it open for all three of them and waited for them to pass.

As Bug approached, he motioned for Bax to go ahead as he said, "Go on. I'll lock up the house."

After one look back at the house where he had been raised and lived every day of his life, so far, Bug firmly closed the door and locked it.

"Are we there yet?" Bax called from the back seat.

"Not yet." Bug said with a smile.

"I'm thirsty." Ro said as he fought down a chuckle.

"You should have thought about that before we left." Bug said with a grin.

"I've got to pee." Lawrence whined, then broke into a fit of giggles.

Everyone in the car quickly joined into the infectious laughter.

Once everyone had quieted, Oma Shoupe cautiously asked, "Where are we going?"

"To a small airstrip South of town. A plane is supposed to meet us there at ten o'clock." Bug said seriously.

"But where is the plane going to take us?" Oma Shoupe asked with concern.

"I really don't know. I guess when I was trying to get us out of here, it didn't really matter. I just wanted to be sure that all of us were going to be safe, so I trusted a friend of mine when he said that he could get us out of here." Bug said frankly.

"What's your friend like?" Oma Shoupe asked curiously.

"I don't know. I've never met him in person, or even spoken to him. I've only ever talked to him in text on the computer." Bug said frankly, then timidly admitted, "I can't even be sure that he's really a 'he'. All I know about him is what he's told me online."

"You're placing a lot of trust in someone you've never met." Oma Shoupe said cautiously.

"I know. And if I had any other choice, I would have taken it. But the way I see it, this is the only chance we've got of getting out of here before the whole thing comes crashing down on top of us." Bug said frankly.

"I hope that your friend is as dependable as you think he is." Oma Shoupe said quietly.

"The way I see it, we could either do something or do nothing. I don't know what anyone else thinks about it, but I think that good people doing nothing is what's caused most of the problems that we're facing today." Bug said honestly.

"Do you think my dads will go with us?" Ro asked quietly as he leaned forward so Bug could hear him.

"I think that there's a chance. I wish it could be more, but that's all that I was able to give you." Bug said regretfully.

"Thanks for everything you did today, Bug. I know you tried." Ro said as he reached forward to place a hand on Bug's shoulder.

"It may still work out. Just hang in there." Bug said as he reached up and patted the hand.

"Bug, no kidding, now I really am thirsty. Is there any way we could stop and get something to drink?" Bax asked hopefully.

Bug glanced away from the road for an instant, then picked up one of the shopping bags from beside him as he turned his attention back to the road.

"Here you go, just don't be filling up on drinks. I don't know when we'll be seeing our next bathroom." Bug said frankly.

"Thanks, Bug. You're the best." Bax said as he happily took a bottle of juice from the bag.

"Would you like anything, Oma?" Bug asked gently.

"No, dear. I'm just fine. I suppose I was just thinking of your Opa and what he would have thought of all this." Oma Shoupe said with a distant smile.

"What would he have thought?" Bug asked curiously.

"He would have said that we were stepping into an adventure in a brave new world." Oma Shoupe said distantly.

"I'm sorry he died. I know it's gotta hurt you." Bug said gently.

"Not as much now. He died nearly fifteen years ago. There were a few times when I longed to go with him, but the good Lord had other plans for me. Who knows? Maybe this, what's ahead, is what he's been saving up for me all along." Oma Shoupe said slowly.

"I really hope it turns out good, Oma. You deserve only the best." Bug said with a smile.

"As long as I've got you boys with me, then I've already got the best." Oma Shoupe said as she reached over and gently patted Bug on the knee.

As Bug pulled the car into the parking area, he spotted two other cars. One was parked away from the building and the other had three people standing and waiting outside of it.

Well, two of them were standing. The third was sitting slumped in a wheelchair.

Bug pulled up close to the other car. Near enough that they could talk, but not so close as to crowd them.

"Are you here for the ten o'clock flight, too?" A man asked as he approached the car.

Bug got out of his car and was surprised to find that he stood about eight inches taller than the man.

"Yeah. What can you tell me about what's going on?" Bug asked cautiously.

"Not much. I heard a few things at work that really concerned me, then, when I got home, my son told me that an online friend of his said that if we wanted to get away before everything blew up, that we should be here before ten." The man said nervously.

"Yeah. That's about as much as I know about it, too. I'm guessing that your son and I have the same online friend." Bug said anxiously.

"I'm Marcus Teeter. This is my wife, Doris and our son, Roris." Marcus said as he offered his hand.

"It's nice to meet you Marcus." Bug said as he shook the man's hand, then turned to his family and said, "It's nice to meet all of you, I'm Bug."

"Bug?" Marcus asked cautiously.

"Yeah. That's what everyone's called me, ever since I was a kid." Bug said dismissively.

"Hi, I'm Lawrence." A voice said from behind Bug.

"Everyone, this is my brother." Bug said with a smile.

Marcus and Doris stared at Lawrence for a moment, then Doris absently said, "It's nice to meet you."

Bug looked at his brother to find him staring at the young red headed man in the wheelchair.

"Don't stare. It's rude." Bug whispered to his brother.

The young man, Roris, made a sound and motioned with his twisted hand.

Lawrence stepped closer, then knelt down so he could hear what Roris was saying.

"I'm sorry. My brother doesn't always understand about boundaries and personal space." Bug said shyly.

Roris looked up at Bug, then said something else, close to Lawrence's ear.

Bug watched carefully, to be sure that Lawrence didn't do anything to hurt or upset the young man.

Lawrence, still kneeling, straightened and looked at Bug before saying, "Roris told me to tell you, 'Fuck you. I can look at him if I want'."

Roris' parents and Bug stared at Lawrence with surprise for a moment before Bug responded, "Fair enough. If Roris isn't bothered, then I've got no problem."

Lawrence bent down and turned his attention back to Roris and Bug waited to see if any more messages were coming his way. After a moment he realized that Roris and Lawrence were engaged in a conversation and seemed to be oblivious to the rest of the world.

The sound of the car doors slamming drew Bug's attention, and he turned in time to see Ro and Bax rushing away from the car.

"Oma Shoupe farted!" Bax said as he walked away from the car backward, seemingly afraid that the smell was going to sneak up and attack him from behind..

"It was really gross." Ro said with a pained look on his face.

"Marcus and Doris, I'd like you to meet Bax and Ro." Bug said with a chuckle.

"What handsome young men, are they your brothers, too?" Doris asked curiously.

Bug considered for a moment, then said, "Not officially. But as good as."

Both boys looked at Bug with surprise, then ran to give him simultaneous hugs.

The sound of a plane drew everyone's attention and they all started searching the sky to see if they could spot where it was coming from.

"Guys, I think that's our plane. Come on and help me get our stuff out of the car." Bug said quickly, then turned back and said, "Come on Lawrence, I promise that you'll be able to talk to Roris later."

"Doris, will you help me?" Marcus asked as he walked to the back of his own car.

"I know these backpacks are kind of heavy, but we shouldn't have to carry them long. Ro and Bax, if you'll get the bags and stuff from the front seat, Lawrence and I will help Oma Shoupe out of the car." Bug said as he handed out the backpacks.

"What is all of this?" Ro asked as he struggled to put the backpack on.

"These are our emergency packs. We've got first aid stuff, food, water and other stuff that we might need if there's a disaster. I figured we might need them for a hurricane or something like that someday, but I never thought about anything like this." Bug said honestly.

Everyone stopped what they were doing and watched as the plane touched down at the far end of the runway.

"I don't know how long we'll have. Grab the rest of the stuff and we'll get Oma." Bug said in a rush.

By the time Lawrence and Bug were able to get Oma Shoupe on her feet and walking on her own, the plane had finally come to a complete stop.

The door popped open and stairs were quickly lowered.

"Everyone! We've got another group like yours waiting for pickup at another location. Please, leave your luggage by the stairs and we'll get it stowed as soon as you're aboard." A man in a dark navy suit said urgently.

"Don't worry, Oma. We've got you." Bug said gently as he helped her maintain her footing.

"Yeah, Oma. We won't let nothin happen to you." Bax said as he followed along closely.

Bug flashed him an appreciative smile, then, in the distance, he saw a car driving quickly toward them.

"Ro. Drop your pack right there and I'll come back for it." Bug said seriously.

"What? Why?" Ro asked with surprise.

"Do I look like I'm fucking kidding around here? Please, just do what I said." Bug said firmly.

Ro put down the shopping bags he was carrying, then slowly took off the backpack.

"Ronan!" A voice called on the wind.

Ro turned with wide eyes and screamed, "DAD!"

"You're not as gruff as you pretend you are." Oma Shoupe chuckled.

"I just didn't want him running off with our emergency supplies." Bug said in his defense.

"Ma'am. If you'll allow me, I'll help you aboard." The man in the suit said gently.

"Yes. Thank you." Oma Shoupe said as she took hold of the man's elbow.

Bug and Lawrence stood and watched as Ro alternated between hugging one man, and then the other.

"Bax, you can drop your pack." Bug said quietly.

After a moment, Bax slowly took off the backpack he had been wearing.

Bug could tell by the look in his eyes that the boy's heart was breaking as he watched his closest and probably only friend drifting away, back to his old life.

"BAX! Come here! My dads want to meet you!" Ro called joyfully.

There was a moment of surprise, then a grand smile on Bax's face before he took off running at full speed.

"Gentlemen, would you please get aboard? Our time is very limited." the man in the suit said urgently.

"Would you like us to stay out here so we can help you with Roris and his wheelchair?" Bug asked cautiously.

"No need. I'm experienced with such things. Please, go aboard." The man finished firmly.

Bug picked up his tote bag, the bag with the medications and the brown cardboard box that had come from Lawrence's room before getting on the plane.

"I want to sit next to Roris." Lawrence said firmly.

"I think we'll have to sit where they tell us to." Bug said gently.

"But I want to sit next to Roris!" Lawrence demanded.

"Sometimes we don't get what we want." Bug said seriously.

As Lawrence's sky blue eyes began to fill with tears, Bug felt his heart breaking.

"I tell you what. I'll try. If there's any way we can manage it, I'll get you the seat next to Roris. How's that?" Bug asked gently.

A tear slid down Lawrence's cheek, then he slowly nodded.

Bug looked up at a movement and saw the man in the suit carrying Roris in his arms.

"Would it be okay if he sat here, next to Lawrence?" Bug asked as he quickly stood and motioned to his vacated seat.

"Is that okay with you?" the man asked Roris gently.

Apparently Roris agreed, because the man settled Roris into the seat beside Lawrence.

Bug took the seat across the aisle and one back and watched as Lawrence bent down and put his ear close to Roris' mouth so that they could easily talk.

"Would you mind if I took this seat?" A man asked as he walked up to Bug.

It took a moment for Bug to realize that the man wanted the seat beside him.

"Yeah. No problem." Bug said as he stood a little so the man could get to the seat by the window.

"You must be Bug." the man said as he took his seat.

"Yes. I am." Bug said cautiously.

"Ro told us all about you. I'm Reginald." The man said pleasantly.

"It's nice to meet you. I know you've got to be proud of Ro. He's a great kid." Bug said with a smile.

"Yes. We're very proud. But from the way Ro described you, I thought you'd be older. You're barely more than a kid yourself."

"I haven't been a kid since I was nine years old." Bug said frankly.

"Well, as much as I regret saying it, from the way things are looking, a lot of kids are probably going to be growing up way too soon in the very near future." Reginald said regretfully.

"We'll help to get them through it." Bug said with calm assurance.

Reginald looked at him curiously, then slowly nodded his agreement.


Editor's notes:

I was just a bit surprised to meet Bug. I mean it's almost as though I know him from somewhere.

I must say it is a pleasure reading and editing a new story written by MultiMapper, in the Revolutions Universe.

For those of you who are not familiar with Multimapper's stories, shame on you. You will learn very quickly never to underestimate what can be done with a little bit of luck, a lot of love and a great deal of planning.

The people in MultiMapper's stories are as real as you or I am. As you might have noticed, I didn't say characters, and that is because, there is no such thing as a character in any MultiMapper story. His people are alive and vibrant.

I believe you will become fast friends with all these people, and you will care as much about them as you do all the other wonderful guys and gals we have already met in the other stories in this new universe.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher

Editor's notes:

That was a chapter that started and just kept getting better!!! It flew by, and I mean that in good way! MultiMapper has really started something great here and I can't wait to see what is going to happen next. Bug is awesome, and Ro and Bax are just the best. I can't wait to get to know them better. Then there is Lawrence, that is a sad story to start with and I am glad he met Roris. Seems like there are a few sparks going on there. This is truly a great chapter and has me hooked! Now, to find out where they are going. That is going to be interesting. Oh, I almost forgot I am so glad that Ro's dad's decided to come. They must have realized that something is up and they did not want to be without their son. Awesome!!!

Your friendly neighborhood editing pup!



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