New Beginnings Book II: Dogs of War
Copyright © 2016 by Roland and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.
All Rights Reserved
"Donnie!" Adam called out as he came down the ramp of the Scireians' ship. He felt Logan stiffen next to him, where his lover was holding onto his arms. Adam knew Logan hated to be seen like he was, braces on his legs, and usually needing arm crutches. Adam knew, though, that he had to get used to it. Both Sabrina and Janet said it would take Logan several weeks till he got his atrophied muscles all working the way they should be. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Well... while you guys were taking your little vacation, someone had to step up and keep things running." Donnie said as he walked up to Adam, Emily right by his side. Donnie pulled Adam into a hard hug, then pushed him back. "Em and I had bets on what you would look like, having aged like you have. Hate to say it, she was right."
"Of course I was." Emily said as she pushed Donnie out of the way to hug Adam, then turned and pulled Logan into her arms. While she was holding him, she whispered into his ear. "I know you well enough to know that you're taking this really hard. Just remember, we're your family, and nothing will ever change that. More than a few people owe their lives to you, and it's not just because of your mental abilities. You're a brilliant person with a heart larger than any universe. Don't let this hurt that, okay?" When she pushed him gently back, she looked hard in his eyes. When he didn't respond right away, she raised her eyebrow, and kept hold of his eyes with hers.
Finally Logan nodded, and cracked a half smile. "I think you got the 'mom' look down pat."
Emily and Donnie both laughed. "Yes she does." Donnie replied. "Once we get back to the new base, I'll introduce you to our kids."
"Base?" Adam and Logan said at the same time.
"That would be my fault." Joe said as he came walking over. "I had a hunch that you would want to be set up here, at least for a time."
"Actually Joe." Donnie said with a grin. "You were a little late on that. One of the kids working with the Dragons, Logan's his name, told me on Sunday that we need to get everything up here and set up ASAP. He didn't know why, but knew we had to. Then when you called, I really put a rush on things. As of right now, everyone's here, and everything but the computers are set up."
"Damn... you work fast." Adam said with a smile.
"I learned from the best." Donnie laughed, then looked Adam up and down. "Oh... and Joe was good enough to send me all your measurements, so you all have new clothes waiting for you."
"Sweet." Adam said, then looked back to everyone else that came with them. "You heard the man. We got a base to get back to." Donnie pointed towards the large group of all terrain vehicles that were sitting in a group, and they all started to move over to them. "Kettle Falls is something completely amazing." He said to Adam as they walked. "What that group has set up is truly remarkable, and that's coming from someone who was a part of the UNIT from the beginning."
"If they've impressed you, then I've got to meet this Carson kid." Logan said, as he slowly walked next to Adam, holding on to his arm. Donnie could tell that just the short walk that they were making was wearing Logan out. He wouldn't let it show, but he really felt sorry for what Logan was going through.
"Oh you will." Emily said with a big grin. "After we stop at the new base, and give you guys the tour, we're heading up to the main house, so you guys can meet."
"That's after we change out of these robes." Adam said humorlessly.
"Oh come on... I think they make you look cute." Emily said with a wink. She then leaned in close. "And I gotta say... out of all of you, I think Runt's the one that turned out to be the biggest hottie of the group."
Before Adam or Logan could laugh, Khan's rumbling growl could be heard from behind them. Emily turned around and looked up at the huge cat. "He's mine!"
"Oh don't worry Khan... I know that. But you gotta admit, he's turned into a real stud." Emily grinned innocently while looking Runt up and down. She couldn't get over the fact that the little puny kid she knew, now stood just shy of six feet tall. He'd filled out very nicely, not bulky, but she could see he was very toned.
"I think you're making him jealous with your looks, hun." Donnie said as they reached the ATVs.
Khan just growled, which made everyone else laugh as they all climbed aboard one of the ATVs. Donnie's was the first to take off, the rest of them following behind.
Once they were moving, Donnie looked over at Adam for a moment, then back to the road. "You know, it's gonna take me a while to get used to you looking like this."
"You and me both." Adam said without much humor. "Although, if you're feeling mean, you can ask Juan about what happened when Joe taught us all how to shave."
Even with how down Logan was feeling, just the mention of that made him laugh so hard he had tears rolling down his cheeks. "What happened?" Emily asked.
"Nope!" Logan laughed out. "You gotta ask Juan... Just make sure he ain't got a gun on him."
"Do we really want to know?" Donnie asked as he looked at Emily.
"Oh hell yes! This I gotta hear." She paused then grinned. "I'll ask him while you guys are getting dressed." That just made Adam and Logan crack up laughing again.
Once they settled down, Donnie got serious. "There are a few things we'll have to deal with."
"Like?" Adam replied when Donnie paused.
"Well first off, what's this about new ranks?"
"We felt it might be best to do something to make us different from those we were working with. It may have been unnecessary, but at the time it sounded like a good idea."
"Hmmmmm…." was Donnie's reply, before he went onto other things. "Obviously no one outside of our group knows about the hybrids, so the Cats, Chase, and Robin are all staying inside the base for now." Donnie waited for Adam to wince, then nod. "Next are a few of the non-UNIT members that came from Bermuda. Jimmy Horne, Mac and his crew, and three boys that were recruited to be part of the grounds crew. They all came up with the rest. We've kept them separated from the hybrids as well as everything else sensitive, since we really didn't know what you wanted to do with them."
"And I assume they don't know what's happened to us?" Adam guessed out loud, which Donnie responded to with a simple nod. After a few minutes of silence Adam asked another question. "What's this base you're talking about?"
"It's a pretty big facility actually. When we first got here, we weren't going to stay, until Logan said we needed to. When Courtney heard that we needed to set up a base, she asked Carson, who asked around, and came up with what we're using. It was going to be the production facility for Ryan Brown's underwater robots, but wasn't fully set up. Hell, when we got there, all of the wiring and what not was in place, but not much of the finishing work was done. We ended up getting a lot of help from the refugees, and within twenty-four hours, the place was fully finished and ready to go. Hell, while we were working on it, The Red Dragons had pulled the Dragon into the building, and did a bunch of work on him."
"Damn!" Adam said softly. "If it's big enough for the Dragon to fit inside..."
"Yeah the place is huge. Surrounded by trees, and fences, so security is pretty good. Of course, I'm sure Juan'll upgrade it, but it's damn good for what we needed."
Speaking of which." Logan pipped up. "What the hell are you guys doing here anyways. I mean I know Dad called you, but you were already here when he did."
"Yeah." Donnie said as he nodded. "I was hearing rumors in the law enforcement community about rogue elements attacking the people that were trying to make it to Kettle Falls. Then I got a call from the local National Guard Commander. Seems someone got the idea of running security with the convoys. So we got together a bunch of buses, a few diesel trucks, and started to run escort missions along Interstate 90 between Interstate 15 and here. We were taking a break after our second run when Christina and the Dragons showed up. The rest, as they say, is history."
Just as Donnie was finishing up, the group of ATV's came around a bend, went through a stand of trees, and then up to a gate. They slowed as one of the Amazons pushed the gate open, then snapped a salute as they drove by. Adam didn't miss the amazed look that she gave them as they drove by. "This is gonna be fun." Adam said with no humor.
"Yeah..." Logan replied as they drove down a paved roadway, then around another curve. Adam couldn't help but let out a low whistle as the huge, four-story building came into view.
"That's what we thought at first, but then we were reminded that Dr. Brown was going to be using this facility to take the robots he created, and set them up to be mass manufactured." Donnie responded with a grin. "Also, keep in mind. It looks like it's four stories, but it's actually only two. Most of the bottom level was the lab, about three quarters of it. We sectioned that off for the command center and the like. The rest, as well as the top floor, were all offices and conference rooms which we've converted for our use. Well here we are." He said as he brought the ATV to a stop, enabled the brake, then he and Emily got out. Adam quickly jumped out, then ran around to the other side, and helped Logan out as well.
Donnie led the group through the side door, into the cavernous lab space of the building. Almost immediately, all the talking stopped, and the UNIT and non-UNIT members stopped and stared at the group as they walked in. Before the silence got uncomfortable, Juan spoke up loudly. "Yup I know... I'm even hotter now than I was before. Even I didn't think that was possible!"
That broke the tension, and many people laughed. Adam just shook his head before motioning for everyone to come closer. As they moved up to him, he found a stool to jump up on, so that everyone could see him. He watched as the UNIT troops broke up into teams. They didn't go to formation, but they did separate themselves based on their teams. He also saw that the crew of the Chinook stood together, as well as Mac and his helicopter maintenance team. Jimmy Horne stood there with the three kids they, well Jeremy, rescued in Bermuda. Finally, standing in the back of the room, all by himself, Adam saw Adrian, the Secret Service agent that Juan had grown close to. This was going to be fun.
"Okay everyone. I know you're all a bit shocked, but certain things happened, that can't be changed. Before I get into an explanation about what happened to us, there are some people here that don't even know the basics of who and what we are. So let's get them caught up, before we lose them even more." That got a bit of a chuckle out of the group. Adam pointed out the people as he called them out. "Captain Blake. I want to thank you and your crew for coming up here. I know we're not the easiest group to work with."
"Sure we are!" Juan called, which made everyone laugh. "They should be honored to even know us!"
"Shut up Juan." Adam shook his head as he looked back over at Capt. Ryan Blake.
"Colonel Shelton made it very clear that we're on TAD until the war is over. Frankly, I think we'll have more fun with you guys than with the normal military." The rest of his crew nodded in agreement.
"Well, it'll be interesting." Adam agreed. "Also, I know that your security clearances have been bumped up, so you could work with us. Since all of you met with Colonel Shelton, he assured me that you all know the seriousness of the clearance you now have." Again, they all nodded.
"Good." Adam then looked over at Mac and his crew. "While you guys have been working with us for a bit, you still don't know everything. By the time I'm done, you'll know almost everything. Just as before, we ask that you keep the sensitive information to yourselves." Mac and his crew simply nodded.
"Jimmy, first off, thank you for looking out for the boys, as well as everything else you've been doing. You know most of what I am about to say, so if the boys have any questions, would you answer them later on."
"Of course." Jimmy said as he put his arms around all three boys. "Great." Adam looked back at Adrian who waved him off, so Adam moved on without even mentioning his name. "While all of you have seen us in action, and have played with some of our toys, what you don't know is how we got them, or where we're from. Let me first start by saying, many of you, I'm sure, have heard us refer to ourselves as the UNIT. What that stands for is the Universal Next-generation Infiltration Team. Most of us have been genetically engineered to be faster, stronger, and quicker of healing than a normal person. Those of us that are not enhanced, have been trained by us, and are regarded as just as much a part of the UNIT as anyone else."
"Sir." Captain Blake couldn't help but jump in. "I can't believe that the US Government would allow something like this."
"They didn't." Adam said seriously. "At least not this US Government. To totally understand things, you need to know that we are not native to this universe." Blake stood there trying to say something, but his words wouldn't come out.
"As insane as it sounds..." Mac started. "It actually makes sense. The equipment in their helicopters is nothing that I've ever seen or heard of before. We simply don't have that kind of tech."
"Exactly." Adam said simply. "I only bring that up because it ties into the next thing I need to speak to. As you can all see we've grown a little over five years in a few days. That's due to us coming into line with this universe. I won't go into the technical details of it, simply because I don't even understand half of it. However, I know the result... I'm now the equivalent of a nineteen year old."
"And I might add I got even cuter, which I didn't think was possible." Juan pipped up causing several people to groan.
"They say 'with age comes wisdom'.... not in all cases I guess." Logan commented just loud enough for people to hear.
Before Juan could respond, Adam jumped back in. "As I was saying, there are some things that you all will need to know to really work with us. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask after I am done."
Adam then spent the next twenty minutes giving them the basics of who and what they were, how they were created, and a very general idea of what they could do. He specifically did not go into their mental abilities, as those that needed to know, would be told separately, and when it became important.
"Ana! How are you doing?" Adam exclaimed as they walked into the area that Donnie said was set aside for Adam's family. He quickly walked up to the blond haired Colombian girl and pulled her into a hug. He hadn't seen her since Janet had introduced them on Bermuda. The girl had just been rescued from the Ashwood troops that were forcing her and several others to fight for them. When Janet heard the story, the two bonded, and Janet offered to adopt her. Since her parents had been killed when Ashwood's goons had kidnapped her from her home, to fight for him, she accepted.
At first she stiffened up, since she didn't really recognize him. "It's okay, I'm Adam. I just grew a little in the last few days." He said with a grin, as he pushed her back and looked deep in her eyes. It only took her a moment to recognize him, especially his steel grey eyes.
She hugged him back, and almost whimpered into his ear. "I thought you guys forgot about me."
"Never." Adam said as he squeezed her a bit harder. "We may get really busy, but we never forget about family. And I have to say, your doing good losing the accent." He squeezed her one more time then released her, only to wrap an arm around her shoulder, and pull her tight to his side, as he looked around the room, spotting the brothers they picked up in Bermuda.
"Same goes for you three. Jeremy made the decision to bring you into the family. Since we count each other as brothers, that means you're family now, too. If you want it, that is." Adam's eyes fell on the oldest boy, Aaric, as he spoke. "You're the oldest, so you need to make the decision. I know you've said that your father died, and that your mother got put in prison. You've also said you have no other family. The choice is up to you. You can stay here, and become a part of our family, or we can take you back to Bermuda and set you up with someone there. Not sure who yet, but we would never just drop you off."
"What would we have to do to stay?" The seventeen-year-old asked cautiously.
"That really is up to you." Logan jumped in from where he sat. "Everyone in our family fights somehow. Obviously, as you can see, I'm not much good for physical combat right now, but what I do know is computers, and intelligence. That's how I fight."
Ronnie spoke up from his seat. "While I've been taught to fight a bit, it's not really my thing. So I help deal with supplies, and making sure that everyone has what they need."
"But, you're only about Aart's age." Aaric exclaimed.
"I'm nine." Ronnie said with a grin. "And I do what I can. We all do."
"Hell, I'm eight, and help Runt fly the Black Ghost in combat." Tommy jumped in. Of course when the brothers and Ana looked over at Tommy, that was the first time they saw Fluffy. Tommy was lounging back into her as she sat on the floor, her tail lazily flipping back and forth.
Being ready for it, Adam squeezed Ana a little tighter, even as she screamed. "It's okay. Fluffy's family, too."
"Yeah. She only eats bad guys!" Tommy said with a grin. Fluffy, taking offense to his tone whacked him upside the head with her tail, then went back to letting it lazily flop around. "HEY!" Tommy cried out, which made everyone else in the room chuckle. "Okay, okay, fine!" Tommy said with a giggle, then looked over at the brothers and Ana. "She says humans taste like shit. Especially the bad guys. They've been eating too much of Ashwood's crap."
"Oh my god!" Juan cried out. "Fluffy just made a joke!"
"And I quote...'If I wasn't so comfortable, we'd find out that my claws are still just as sharp as they used to be... sharp enough to shave the new hairs you're so proud of..." Tommy said, falling into giggles as he finished.
"HEY!" Juan whined out. "That ain't fair!"
"To badly misquote..." Janet piped in. "If you can't run with the big cats, stay on the porch."
"MOM!" Juan whined again while flopping back into his chair defeated. "No respect..."
While they were talking, Donnie, Emily, Jeremy, and Tyler had come into the room, and were quietly chuckling by the door. Just as Adam was about to speak again, the door opened one last time, allowing Khan and Runt into the room. Having seen the hybrids in Bermuda, the brothers and Ana only started slightly.
"You know, seeing the two of you next to each other reminds me just how much you grew Runt." Chang said softly. "You two really look good together now."
Runt blushed slightly but nodded, while Khan released a satisfied rumble from deep in his chest. "Yeah... I like being bigger, but I gotta get into the Ghost and resize the seat. Going from just shy of five feet tall, to just about six, well, it's a change."
"Guess we can't call you Runt anymore." Jory pipped up.
"Yeah you can." Runt said seriously, as he settled down into Khan's lap, after the hybrid sat down. "As far as I'm concerned, I'll always be Runt."
"Good. Cause I like that name." Khan said with a purr.
Once everyone stopped chuckling, Donnie spoke up. "Well it looks like the core family is here." He said as he pushed off the wall he'd been leaning against. "Would anyone mind if I asked a few questions, just to get fully caught up."
"Not at all." Adam said as he sat down, pulling Ana down next to him. "For those that haven't been a part of one of these before. This is completely informal, the only real rules are these. If someone says that we're not going to talk about something, respect it. There's a good reason for it. Also, usually everyone is either seated, or leaning up against a wall. IF you want to speak, then stand up. Once whoever is speaking is done, they'll let you know that it's your turn. Finally... EVERYONE is allowed to speak here." He looked directly at Ana, then the brothers. "We are all family here, and we all have an equal say. You may not be a part of the decision making process, but your voice is just as important as anyone else.... okay?" He waited till he got nods from everyone, then nodded to Donnie.
"Thanks." Donnie said as he started to pace, a habit that almost everyone got from Adam. "I guess the biggest question I have right now is this. Why'd you guys leave the base in Utah?"
Adam sighed as he squeezed Ana one last time, before rising to his feet. Donnie for his part moved back next to Emily, but didn't lean, he had more to ask. "The simple answer is this. When we allowed Bryce into the bunker, he took it over. He needed to, and I'm not upset by the fact, but the simple fact is this. We work best when people don't know everything we can do. When we first got here, I think we all got wrapped up in trying to prove ourselves again. We went a bit overboard in what we revealed about ourselves. Not to mention the fact that, while we may like and even trust some of the people there, the fact remains, they're military. We all know that we'll never really be able to trust the military. Not after what it did to us."
"That wasn't here Adam." Donnie said softly, which caused Adam to nod slowly.
"You're right. Thinking about it critically, I know you're right, but frankly, my heart hasn't caught up to my brain on that topic."
"Fair enough." Donnie paused for a moment, then spoke again. "What's your plans now?"
"At the moment, nothing specific." Donnie gave him a look, which caused Adam to bust out laughing.
"I've never known you to not have a plan, or at least an idea of what we're going to do next." Donnie said with a smile.
"Okay, you got me." Adam said with a sigh, as he started to pace. As soon as he did, Donnie went back to leaning against the wall. "We're going after the Army of God."
"Who are they?" Emily asked softly.
"It looks like they're actually the power behind Ashwood." Adam said while he continued to pace around the room. "They call themselves 'God's Army', and..."
"That is what the people who killed my parents said!" Ana said loudly, before she started to cry. Thanks to the language dump, as well as the people who had been working with her on English, she no longer spoke broken English at all.
Janet was on her knees in front of the girl quickly. "What do you mean?" She asked softly, while taking the girl in her arms.
"When they came and got me...They... they said I was going to go fight for God's Army." Ana stuttered out before dissolving into tears again.
"I was afraid of that." Logan said softly.
"Yeah." Adam said just as softly, before he started pacing again. "We have some hard intel on one of their bases. As soon as we're back up to full combat readiness, we're gonna make a plan of attack."
"I wonder if this is why the other Logan said I needed to get a base ready here." Donnie spoke up.
"Possibly." Logan responded. "We all know Pre-Cogs. Hell I doubt Logan even knows why he said it, but we know he's legit, so it's good you followed his advice."
"So other than conscripting kids, and pushing this damned war, what else is this Army of God doing." Donnie asked into the silence.
"Did you hear about the kids in Orlando, the ones that were being engineered?" Adam asked. Seeing Donnie and Emily stiffen in horror, he guessed they had not.
"When we hit Disney, we found a crude Genetics lab, complete with test subjects." Adam said softly, then looked to Janet. "How close were they?"
Janet stood from where she was comforting Ana, and shook her head. "The ones that were still alive, well... if we were back home, I MAY have had a chance to save them, but frankly, their genetic structure was already degrading. Honestly, I'm surprised they lasted as long as they did." She paused and shook her head. "Too close." She said softly, then spoke louder. "They're way too close to creating viable subjects. They won't be on the same level as you are, Adam, or even most of those we have here, but they're real close." She then sat down in the seat that Adam had been using, and pulled Ana into her lap.
"What about Ashwood?" Jeremy asked into the following silence.
"We'll still hit him where and when we can. However, if possible, I would prefer if we passed along any intel we get to Bryce's people, and let them handle it. They can deal with the conventional details of the war, and we'll take care of the shadows. That is what we're best at, fighting the shadows ''from'' the shadows."
Ronnie stood up, but remained quiet till Adam nodded to him. "Okay, so this place here is going to be our base. I've already looked, and we've got all the supplies from both Bermuda and the Utah base. However, you guys in particular are going to need just about everything, from clothes to personal gear, and weapons."
"Not that I'll ever refuse more weapons, but I'm good for now." Juan said.
"Of course you are." Ronnie said with a snicker, which several others joined in. "Now, I've been in touch with a General in Utah, who has assured us that Bryce has agreed to get us anything and everything we need, within reason. I'm gonna be placing an order in the next couple of hours, so if you have anything special you need, let me know."
Ronnie sat down after everyone nodded, which caused Will to stand. "Mac has been going through the helicopters, and Billy and I will be joining him shortly. They all need maintenance, and some downtime before I'll be comfortable with them flying anything other than emergency missions."
"Noted. We can all use some downtime." Adam agreed. "We've been going hard since we got here." He turned to Donnie. "Sorry, man, I know you retired, but I need you again." Donnie just nodded and grinned. "I need you to officially take command of this base. Go through the teams, and put them together as best you can. The 'Birds are still attached to Kettle Falls, so they are all set, but we have the Amazons, and the rest, to make teams out of."
"I'll take the injured ones, and find out what they can do here." Logan said as he struggled to stand. Adam was right by his side helping to support him. "I'll need to talk to Carson and see what we can put together for a computer system here. If I need to, I'll set up one of my lab servers to help run command and control, although I hate to waste them on that. I only have two of them, and they have a lot more power than what a command center would need."
"We'll figure something out." Adam assured him as he helped Logan sit back down.
"Logan." Emily asked softly. "How are you doing?"
He sighed and ran a hand through his long blond hair. "When the link snapped, it caused a small Transient Ischemic Attack to hit my brain... basically I had a mini-stroke. The aging fixed the damage from that, but, I was out of it for several hours, which meant my body grew, and I wasn't able to exercise the muscles. Basically I'm suffering from acute muscle atrophy."
"But you'll be okay?" Emily asked hesitantly.
"Yeah." Logan said with a grin. "In a couple of weeks I should be back up and running like before. The mental stuff though, well, we won't know how much of that was damaged for a long time to come." No one corrected him on his recovery time.
"So we won't know if you'll be able to redo the link for a while." She asked
"I don't know if I'll ever be strong enough to do that again." He looked over to where his brothers were sitting. He still had to get used to the Chipmunks being thirteen and Daileass looking like he was fifteen. "As far as we have been able to figure out, our abilities are even more tied to distance now." All four nodded in agreement, and Daileass spoke up.
"None of us were ever strong enough to hold the link like Logan was, but none of us seem to have lost all that much in power, but without the link, we are limited by distance."
"How far?" Tyler asked
"Not sure." Daileass responded. "It depends on the people involved, and how powerful they are without the link. The weakest ones will probably be limited to touch, or very short distance, while the stronger will be limited by miles."
"Ouch." Tyler responded.
"Hey." Adam said softly. "We're not just our mental abilities. All of us are warriors. We've been through hell and back, several times. To steal the Marine Corps slogan... We will just have to 'Improvise, Adapt and Overcome'."
Everyone nodded in agreement, but before anyone else could say anything, a knock came at the door. Joe, being one of the closest to it, got up, and walked over, while looking at Adam. Adam nodded, so Joe opened the door, only to have to look down to see who it was.
"Shelby!" Emily called out as she launched herself from the wall she was leaning against and almost shoved Joe out of the way. She grabbed the little girl that was standing there, and pulled her up into her arms, then spoke. "Come on in everyone! There's lots of people we want you to meet.
All four of the newcomers followed Emily over to stand before Adam, Logan, Janet, and Ana. "Adam, I'd like for you to meet the children that Donnie and I adopted. First this little angel is Shelby."
"Hi...I'm this many." The little girl said in the cute way only little girls can, while holding up four fingers.
Everyone laughed then Emily put her hand on the boy next to her. "This is Phillip, he's seven." She then moved to the next in line. "Next is Kelly, she's eight. And finally the big brother of the group, Gage, who just got into the double digits."
Adam leaned forward towards them, and spoke softly. "Did your new mom and dad tell you all sorts of bad things about me?"
"You're Adam?" Gage asked just as quietly, to which Adam nodded. "Yeah... lots of bad things!"
"HEY!" Donnie cried out with a laugh. "You weren't supposed to say anything."
"As you might have guessed, Gage is our little troublemaker." Emily said as she ruffled his hair.
"We need to get together." Juan pipped up. The room exploded with laughter as both Donnie and Emily turned on Juan and gave him death glares.
"You teach our children ANYTHING..." Emily said softly.
"What?" Juan exclaimed with such an innocent look that a halo should have appeared above his head.
"Juan..." Emily started, which just caused him to turn on the puppy dog eyes to full. "When you were ten that was cute. Now... well it's just kinda... pathetic."
"OH MY GOD!" Adam hit the floor laughing so hard. Juan meanwhile was just sitting there staring at Emily, his mouth opening and closing, trying to find something to say. Even the stoic Khan roared with laughter, almost dislodging Runt from his lap.
Will was the first one to gather his wits about him as the laughter started to die down. "Well..." He said as he stood up. "I better go check up on the helicopters. We got a lot of work to do there."
"Yeah." Billy said, as he got up, followed by both Runt and Tommy.
"And I have an order to make." Ronnie said as he also stood. Slowly many of the people in the room realized they had things to do, and left, leaving only Adam, Logan, and a few others behind.
When Will, Billy, Runt and Tommy made it down to the main level, they saw that Mac had already brought the Chinook inside the bay that Mr. Brown was going to use to produce his underwater robots. Will looked over at Billy who almost had a pained expression on his face at all the parts that were sitting on the ground near his beloved helicopter.
"HEY!" They heard a voice call out. Following the voice it wasn't more then a moment before they saw Mac come walking towards them, wearing coveralls, and covered in grease. "Whatcha all think you're doing down here?" He asked as he got close to them.
"Ummm... coming down to check on the helicopters." Billy answered as he tried to look past Mac to see what was going on.
"Oh no you don't. When the birds are on the ground, they're mine. I don't know how it was where you guys came from, but you rode these babies hard and then put 'em up wet. Do you have any idea how much work you made for us, simply because you had to go and run them so hard!"
"That's why we're here." Will said while holding up his hands. "To give you guys a hand."
"Nope... fly boys fly. We keep things running." Mac said as he pointed to the rest of the team that was crawling all over the Chinook.
"But... But..." Billy started to say when Mac shook his head.
"No buts. Get outta here. We'll let you know when your birds are ready to fly."
"Wait a minute Mac." Will interjected, seeing the Billy was about to lose it. "I appreciate what you're doing, but there are systems on these helicopters that you guys would never have seen before."
Mac looked at Will and chuckled. "You're right." He turned around. "Hey Viktor! Come over here."
"Oh hell." Runt and Tommy said together while chuckling. Just as Billy fixed them with a death glare, another voice spoke up.
"Dah...What can I do for you." Billy turned and saw an older man, also wearing coveralls walking towards them.
"As you can see, we have an expert already." Mac said, while Runt totally lost it.
"Comrade Runt!" The man said as he got over to them. "I'd heard you grew, but..."
"Yeah... aging five years in a few days kinda sucks." Runt responded as he shook hands with the man, then turned to Billy. "Billy, I don't know if you remember him, but this is Dr. Viktor Deschovic. He is the Russian Aerospace engineer that helped us design and create the Black Ghost. During that time, well let's just say he got a crash course in our upgraded systems."
"So as you can see." Mac folded his arms across his chest. "You guys simply are not needed here." He let the smug smile drop then lowered his voice. "If it helps, I'm under direct orders, from a woman I would not want to piss off, to not let you guys get involved if we don't need to. You're supposed to be relaxing."
"Mom..." Billy muttered to himself before slowly turning around and walking away.
"Hey there." Adrian said as he saw Juan walk down the hall.
"Hey." Juan said somewhat shyly.
"You know, I made a bet with myself."
"About." Juan prompted after a few seconds.
"About how long it would take you to look at your room once you got here." Adrian pushed off the wall he was leaning against and walked up to the door that Juan was heading to.
"It's just a room." Juan said softly. "I've had lots of them."
"True." Adrian responded with a smile. "But only one of them was actually your room. You do realize that when Donnie called the rest up here, he told them to bring everything from Bermuda, including people's personal belongings."
Juan's eyes went wide as he looked between Adrian and the door. "Very few people take the time and effort to make a room like you did, unless it meant a lot to you." Adrian noticed Juan's hand start to twitch, so he slowly moved away from the door, still smiling. "Emily asked that I help her set the room up. She was very adamant that we were the only two who would be allowed to not only be in here, but also to handle anything of yours." Juan started for the door, but stopped and looked at Adrian who said. "I don't think you realize just how devoted she is to you, how much she really loves you."
Juan didn't say anything, just opened the door, and hesitantly walked in. While the room itself was not as large as the one he had back at the Utah base, it was still spacious. His eyes scanned quickly, but stopped almost immediately. Sitting across from the only window in the room was his armor stand, complete with the swords, and the Tecumseh Poem standing atop.
Slowly his eyes scanned the rest of the room. Everything was there, and everything in it's place. Except...
Juan turned and looked at Adrian hard. "Are you trying to tell me something?"
"Only that it's time that they return to their home." Adrian slowly entered the room, and walked over to the table Juan usually used to work on. He gently picked up one of the Desert Eagle pistols that were sitting there. "I know what you were saying to me when you gave both of them, instead of just the one that Adam asked you to. I also know that they are yours. Weapons like this... they're like swords. They imprint on their wielder as much as the wielder imprints on them. These two are yours, and called to be used by you again." Adrian walked over to Juan, turned the pistol around so that he was holding the butt to Juan.
Slowly Juan's hand came up and slipped home on the hand grip. Adrian heard Juan exhale as he allowed the full weight of the pistols to rest in Juan's hand. Juan closed his eyes for a moment, and just let the pistol rest in his hand. When he opened his eyes again, he quickly ejected the magazine, and pulled the slide back, making sure the weapon was indeed 'safe'. He than looked up and saw Adrian smiling down at him, although the man wasn't looking down nearly as much as he had been the last time they were face to face like this. "Thank you." Juan said softly. He let that hang in the air for a moment, then grinned. "But you still ain't getting in my pants."
Adrian stepped back as he busted up laughing. "No worries Juan. You may have grown, but you're still too young for me."
"Oh well..." Juan said with a grin. "It could have been great."
"You have no idea..." Adrian said then turned and walked from the room, Juan's mouth hanging open.
"Well, I'm gonna go look in on our equipment." Adam said as he stood up. He reached down and gave Logan a hug, and quick kiss, then turned to leave the room.
"I think I'll join you." Khan said as he extracted himself from the chair he had been sitting in. Together they walked out of the room already deep in conversation.
"And we better get to the command center." Logan said as he struggled to his feet. Immediately, Daileass, the Chipmunks, as well as Janet and Joe joined Logan and together they left
Twenty minutes later, Adam and Khan found themselves spreading out equipment on long tables, and starting to go through it. Neither of them said much as they worked, both having done this enough times that they didn't need to speak. Finally though, Adam broke the silence. "Do you think I've pussed out?"
Khan stopped what he was doing, and Adam heard him let whatever he was handling fall to the table. Khan didn't say anything for a few seconds, and Adam was almost worried to look up at his best friend. He'd been wanting to ask someone this for a while, but there was never time, and Khan was really the only one he knew he could talk to about this.
Finally, just as Adam was about to force himself to look, he heard Khan start to rumble. For someone who didn't know Khan, they wouldn't have known what was happening, but Adam knew Khan was trying hard not to laugh. He looked up at his friend who was looking down at him and shaking his head. "Adam, there may be many things that I would call you, but being a pussy is not one of them. Hell usually that's what you're calling me."
Adam tried to reply, but Khan raised his hand to stop him. "Don't. I know you're joking when you say that, so it's fine. But no... I don't think you've 'pussed out'.
"I don't know..." Adam said as he picked up a rifle clip and started to check it over. "Ever since we got here, I feel like..."
"Ever since we got here," Khan interrupted. "we've been running a hundred miles an hour, with no time to catch our breath. We've buried more family members since the attacks in Montana, and we've been in a constant state of Combat Readiness. We may be UNIT, but no one, not even you nor I can keep going this hard for this long and not lose a bit of our edge." Khan reached over, took the clip from Adam, and put it on the table. Then he physically turned Adam so that they were looking each other in the eyes.
"I know you have your reasons for why you didn't go home, but do you know why the rest of us stayed?" Khan asked softly. Tears almost instantly sprang to Adam's eyes as he thought about the decision to not go home, to not go back to his family. "We didn't go back, because we knew you weren't going to go."
Adam eyes widened in shock, but before he could say anything, Khan continued. "No... Not like that. No one is going to blame you for making them stay, so don't you dare blame yourself. No, we stayed because we believe in you, we love you, we follow you, and no matter where that leads, we'll be right there behind you. Not because we have to, or because our military training forces us to. Hell, we ain't like the US military where you sign a contract, and become property of the Government. Adam, we follow you because we know that you would never lead us somewhere that you won't go yourself. Would never ask us to do something you wouldn't do, and hell, each of us knows that if you could somehow take all the pain and suffering that we feel, into yourself, you would without question or remorse. You're our leader, not because you were made that way, but because you made YOURSELF that way. Great leaders aren't born, they're made."
"But ever since we've been here... I feel like I've let my emotions get in the way." Adam said after a moment of silence. "How can I lead effectively... if I always let my emotions get in the way."
Khan smiled a toothy smile, and shook his head. "Don't you see Adam, you've always allowed your emotions to guide you. That's what makes you so strong of a leader. For most people, emotions would cloud their judgment, hell they do mine. But not you, at least not all the time. It's your emotions that give you, and the rest of us, the strength to push ourselves as hard as we do. We see you cry with us, we see you get just as pissed as we do, we've seen you get depressed, and we've seen you laugh. Yet through all of it, you lead us through to the other side. You are probably one of the most dangerous people I have even known, simply because of how you can inspire others. If you ever wanted to go off the reservation, your 'Cult of Personality' would be a terrible thing to behold."
"Thanks... I think." Adam said confused by what Khan was talking about.
"Adam. When I first met you, I wanted to try and figure out how it was that people, including myself, seemed to trust you, to devote ourselves to you, so quickly. I've sat down and talked to a lot of people about it. I've read hundreds of books about the topic, and it only made me realize one thing. You are you, and can't help being who and what you are. I'm not talking about your mental abilities, or even your physical. I'm talking about your personality. I'm talking about who you really are, deep down inside. Not what General Adams or even Mom made you into. No, this was there before all of that. It's who you would have been no matter what."
"What does this have to do with me pussing out?" Adam asked, his head reeling with what Khan was saying.
"Simply this. Yeah, you need to pull your head out of your ass, but not for the reasons you think. You need to be who and what you are... never question yourself, never question if what you are doing is the right thing, because frankly, that will destroy you quicker than anything. You have a lot of good, smart people who will let you know if you start going off track. Logan, Janet, Joe, all of them will let you know when you're losing your focus. Listen to them if they say that. If not, by God Adam, you may have made mistakes in the past, but you have NEVER been off the mark."
Adam was silent for several moments before he looked up and looked deep into Khan's eyes. "You forgot someone that I should listen to." Khan cocked his head to the side, a bit in question. "You." Adam said simply, then gave Khan a hug, and went back to work.
"I thought we'd find you here." Came a voice from the doorway. Logan turned and saw Trevor from the Firebirds standing there. "There's some people that wanted to talk to you." He said as he came into the room, followed by a group of people, including someone Logan had wanted to meet for a while.
Grabbing his arm canes, Logan hobbled over to the group, making a beeline right for the teenaged boy in the wheelchair. "Carson Brown." Logan said as he unlatched one of the canes, and stuck his hand out. "I've been wanting to meet you ever since my brothers told me about what you guys came up with here."
"Since you look like an older version of Alvin, I'll have to assume you’re Logan." Carson said as he shook Logan's offered hand.
"Alvin!" A young boy shouted, then ran across the room, slamming himself into Alvin's waist. "You've gotten big."
Alvin laughed and shook his head. "Why am I not surprised that, even after aging five years, you can still tell me apart from Simon and Theodore."
"You're you." Oleksandr said simply.
"Yes... I guess I am." Alvin said as he hugged the boy back to him, and led him over to the group. "I guess, since I know who everyone is, I'll make introductions. First, on the Brown side, we have Carson, his parents, Deb and Ryan, and his grandfather Dr. Fred Murten. This here is Olex, and over there is Ben, Olex's new dad, finally we have Jay, he is Carson's rock."
Alvin then turned and pointed to his people, completely ignoring the blush from both Jay and Carson. "On this side, we have Dr. Janet Hayes and Joe Casey, our parents. My brothers, Simon, Theodore, Daileass, and of course Logan." Once the handshakes and introductions were over, Alvin looked at Carson. "So, to what do we owe the pleasure?"
Ryan Brown stepped forward first. "Well I guess the first thing is, does this building meet your needs?"
"Very much so." Logan answered. "Thank you so much for letting us use it. We've used a lot of places to base ourselves out of recently, and this is one of the nicer ones."
"It's the least we could do." Deb said with a smile. "After everything you've done for us, and what you're planning..." She looked at Janet as she said that, which caused Janet to nod.
"Well." She said as she pulled out her tricorder. "Let's take a look at what we have to work with." She moved over, and started to run the tricorder over Carson. "I assume you have not changed your mind about the surgery?"
"No ma'am." Carson said a bit nervously.
"Please, call me Janet." Janet said as she was concentrating on her readings. "This will take a few minutes..."
"Okay..." Ryan said as he got everyone's focus back on him. "Let me get this out of the way then." He reached into a small bag he was carrying, and pulled out a tablet. He hit a few buttons on it, then handed it to Logan. "This is what we've been able to do so far with the armor. As you can see, it is a bit bulkier and heavier than what you're used to, but it's a full class four body armor, complete with plates, for added protection. The best we could do so far with the helmet is put in a basic heads up display, however, we are working on adding more. The power assist is minimal at best right now, but Carson has already figured out how to improve it some. It's just a matter of figuring out how to make it small enough to fit."
"Thank you very much Dr. Brown." Logan said as he started looking through the specs. "Is it ready for field tests?"
"Yes, we have ten sets right now that we are ready to test."
"Perfect. Due to our aging, the armor that we had no longer fits, and we don't have any extra that would fit. So, we'll take several of your suits, and we'll field test them our way.... which means in real combat." Logan finished off with a grin.
"Okay... I'll have them sent over as soon as I get back." Ryan replied.
"Great. Now one other question." Logan said as he drummed a finger on his jaw in thought. "I'm sure you can imagine how growing the way we did will make things difficult, and a lot of the things we are used to doing, we'll have to get used to again. One of them being firing weapons. I was wondering if you could think of a place nearby that we could go to use as a firing range."
"We wouldn't want it near the refugees, since it would probably frighten them." Deb said thoughtfully.
"Exactly what I was thinking." Logan agreed.
"How about the far side of the camp?" Carson pipped up.
"That could work." Ryan said thoughtfully. "Yeah, that should work just fine. When I send over the armor, I'll send over a map of the scout camp, and the cabin we have in mind. It's at least five miles from anything else, and I'm pretty sure the clearing the cabin is in is big enough for you to land one of your helicopters."
"Thanks." Logan said just as Janet snapped her tricorder closed, causing everyone to look at her.
"Well, I have good news, and bad. Which would you like first." She said, looking at Carson exclusively.
"Ummm, I guess the good." Everyone there saw Jay place a hand on Carson's shoulder, as the boy got very nervous. Almost instantly, Carson seemed to calm down.
"Okay, the good news." Janet said, then looked at Dr. Murten. "Dr. Murten, could you please reserve a surgical suite for the day after tomorrow?"
"Umm, That's Thanksgiving Day." Fred responded.
"Oh... you're right. It is." Janet said softly. "Sorry I forgot." She then looked down at Carson. "It's up to you. I can be ready to do it Thursday morning, but that would mean being stuck in the hospital all day, before doing the rest of your recovery at home. Your grandfather and I agree that you will recover faster at home, than in the hospital. Or we can do it Friday?"
"What's the bad news?" Carson asked, not wanting to have to make that decision right now.
"The bad news... Several of your key hormone levels are elevated, high enough to where we need to get them down before the surgery."
"What hormones?" Fred asked, slightly alarmed.
"I'll break it down so Carson can understand exactly what I am saying." She was now looking directly at Carson again. "The levels that are elevated are related to lack of sleep, and being under high stress for long amounts of time. I know you have had a lot of dealings with doctors, and not all of them were good, but please know that I truly do know what you are going through... look at the people I have to treat normally. With that being said, if you want the surgery to happen and have any chance of being successful, you will have to go completely off duty starting from right now."