Castle Roland

Changing Connections

by Eric Aune

In Progress

Chapter 17

Published: 24 Dec 15

Changing Connections

Copyright © 2012 - 2015 by Eric Aune and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

Changing Connections LogoThe Red Dragons left the employee lounge of the resort after the meeting with Admiral Norris. Christina led them through the lobby that was now a makeshift medical facility and out through what was left of the front doors. Once outside she turned to them.

"I thought it would be better for us to head outside now so that we aren't in the way." Several of them nodded in agreement as she turned and led them to the grassy area in front of the resort sign. Part of the area was torn up, as was the sign itself due to the firefight that had gone on here just a short time ago. There was nothing for them to do for now, so they found places on the grass to sit down and relax for a little bit.

She knew that Adam was still meeting with Admiral Norris, so they were waiting to hear what was happening next, now that their part of Operation Black Pearl was over. They all had their helmets and weapons on the ground next to them. Couples were leaning against each other, happy to be back together again.

The sun was just peaking over the horizon, giving a soft light to the area. To the north there was still a lot of smoke coming from what used to be the Magic Kingdom and the surrounding area. The C-130s that had been parked on the FLS were all gone. They were carrying the detainees to safety in Bermuda. A short distance away a few burned out Stryker hulks sat in silence. Overhead, various types of helicopters, and Ospreys along with what she assumed were fighter aircraft at the higher altitudes, filled the air.

As she stood there helmet in one hand and rifle in the other, a pair of arms snaked around her shoulders from behind. She didn't tense like she would if it was an enemy, she already knew who it was. She turned her head to the side and saw Ollie's smiling, dirt and sweat covered, face. She gave him an answering smile. She turned around and gave him a quick kiss before bending down to empty her hands so that they could hold each other.

"Well another mission finished. You know, this has been a busy couple of weeks. I think we need a vacation." Ollie smiled and nodded. "I agree. I know we've got a war to fight, but hopefully there is nothing happening for a few days. The water in Bermuda looked inviting, what few glimpses I've had of it. A couple of days lounging on the beach would be cool." She nodded in agreement. "That sounds good. I wonder if there are any secluded beaches around the island, like we had over at the bases in Hawaii back home." They both remembered some fun times they had shared. After standing and holding each other for a few minutes, they decided to do as the others were doing and sat down on the grass.

A short time later Christina looked up as Adam and Logan walked over to them. She jumped up, followed quickly by Ollie, and was about to call attention, but Logan held his hand up to stop her. The two UNIT commanders looked at the team that was lying down in the area. Several of the non-Genesis kids, Jamie and his brothers particularly, were sleeping.

The others that hadn't fallen asleep looked like they weren't far behind. Because of their experience as soldiers Gabe and his team knew to get some rest whenever there was downtime even if you were in the middle of a war. So they were all sacked out, but when Adam and Logan came up, they started stirring just as they would for any other commanding officer. Logan noticed this and gestured for them stay down.

Logan looked at Adam and shook his head slightly with a slight smile on his face. Adam looked around at the group and gave Logan an answering smile and nod. He turned his attention to Christina.

"Commander. You all did great. Well done." She saluted him, "Thank you sir." Adam nodded. "You and your team have done enough for now. It's time to return to base and get some rest." Christina could tell there was something else. "Is there another mission that you need us for, sir?"

Adam looked at her for a moment before shaking his head. "No, my team will be enough to handle it. It's just a short quick mission that we'll take care of on our way back to Bermuda." He gestured to Jamie and the others. "Besides, I think some of your team could use some down time." She looked at the sleepy and sleeping guys, some of whom were starting to wake up a bit, sensing that something was going on. He gave her a little smile. After a moment she acknowledged that what he said was true. "Yes, sir!" She and Ollie saluted. He came to attention and returned the salute. "As you were, Commander." He and Logan turned around and walked off.

The two leaders turned to look at the group. "He's right Chris. Tired soldiers make mistakes." She nodded. "Okay, let's get everybody up and get loaded into Dragon so we can head home." She and Ollie started moving around and waking those who were asleep and got them on their feet. They picked up their equipment. Once everyone was up and mostly awake. Christina nodded to Oliver. He turned to them.

"Red Dragons, Fall in!"

The group hurried into position, all thought of sleep was gone as they assumed the position of attention. There were no separate groups, UNIT, Genesis, and Jamie's group, they all stood together. The only one's missing were Apollo, Eve and Brett. Chris knew that they were in Dragon waiting for them. She stepped up in front of them.

"At ease!"

They all relaxed a little. "Our Commanders were just here for those who didn't know and gave us new orders." There were a couple of hastily stifled groans from some of the non-Genesis guys and Christina gave them a slight smile before continuing. "We've been ordered to load up and head back to base." She saw some looks of relief from some of the more tired guys. "Adam gave us a ‘Well Done'. I want to say that to you as well. Well Done! It is nothing less than I expect from Red Dragons. You all did a superb job on your part of the operation and it was a complete success." She noticed the smiles on their faces. "You all were awesome and you heard what those you served with said about you. You carried yourselves off in the best traditions of the Red Dragons. Now it's time to get some rest. We've still got a war to fight and you need to get your rest when you can. That way you're ready for the next mission when it comes up. Let's load up and head home."

They all smiled as they gathered their gear and headed over to where Dragon was parked on the edge of the FLS. Jamie and his brothers didn't want to admit it, but they were feeling a little tired. Besides being up all night long, they had been in battle and under stress and had been making use of their powers, some more than others. Josh had really pushed himself, as had Ian in healing people and Jamie with his TK. They welcomed the chance to get back to the base and relax for a little while.

As they walked up the ramp and into the main cabin, Brett looked out of the command center door. "Hey guys. So what's next?" Christina noticed he was looking a bit tired as well. "Well. We have another mission." She watched and saw that there was a little disappointment in his face which caused her to smile. When he saw her smile he was confused. "We're heading back to Bermuda. Adam ordered us to head home. We're done for now." Brett smiled and shook his finger at her. "Not nice, Christina. This old guy's getting a little tired. Not fair teasing me."

Jamie came over to his dad and hugged him. That brought a smile to his face. He looked at Christina. "Well I guess we better get going then." She reached over and gave his arm a squeeze as she and Ollie passed by on their way to the cockpit. Eve and Apollo were sitting next to each other at a nearby console. "Adam said we did good. Thanks for everything, you two. You handled Dragon well. Maybe not as well as me and Ollie, but pretty well." She smiled to show that she was joking. Eve nodded. "Yeah, well just wait until I can get moving again, then I'll show you some flying. You two will eat your words."

"Bring it on sister." Christina reached out with her fist and Eve bumped it. She repeated it with Apollo. Oliver did the same as he passed by. Inside the cabin, Gabe, Rio and Eric were in the armory. As each person entered the cabin, they took their weapons and any leftover ammo, along with their web gear and stowed it away in the armory. Once each person had turned in their gear, they returned to the main cabin and removed their armor and helmet. Each person's armor was stored in its case and the cases were taken into the armory.

Sean headed to his normal station and hooked Dusty up and got all his gear on so he was ready to work. In the main cabin the others started to get comfortable. They heard the rotors start spinning and a few moments later Christina's voice came over the speakers. "Welcome to Red Dragon Airways. Your flight today will be about four hours. So sit back, relax and Ollie and I will try to give you a pleasant flight home. One last thing. Everyone, once again I want to thank you for your efforts for the last several hours. You guys were awesome. I am proud to have all of you as part of my, no, our team. Let's go home."

The sound of the rotors increased and they felt Dragon lift off and turn to the east, heading home.

A few hours later, Christina came back on the speaker. "Attention passengers of Red Dragon Airways. We are approaching our destination. Please put your seats and tray tables into the upright and locked position. The Captain has turned on the seat belt sign. So please stay in your seats until we have come to a full stop."

Throughout the helicopter, those who had fallen asleep had started to stir. Those who had slept through the announcement were awakened by the others. There were a lot of yawns, stretching and eye rubbing going on as they slowly came to full wakefulness. Many of them seemed to be feeling a bit refreshed after their naps. Those who were couples were snuggled next to each other. At some point Sean and Brett had both left the Command Center. Sean was with Dakota and Brett had gone to sit next to Jamie and Josh. Rio had been sleeping against Eric and Chase was on Rio's other side. Inside the Command Center, Eve and Apollo were sitting next to each other manning a couple of the consoles.

As they felt the helicopter descend, they began to get up from their seats and gather their gear. Gabe got everyone's attention.

"Did everyone get some sleep?" He saw that most everyone nodded. "Good. I'm sure some of you are still a bit tired. I know I am, but the first thing we need to do is clean and check our weapons and equipment. So after we say hello to our family, we'll meet back in here and get to work. The sooner we get that done, the sooner we can relax. Agreed?" Everyone nodded. "Good. Remember your equipment must always be maintained if you want to be able to rely on it. As far as I know, there is nothing else planned for the day. But we'll wait for the Commander to let us know for sure."

Outside the windows, they could see the base getting closer and a few moments later they felt the bump as Dragon landed, followed quickly by the sound of the rotors slowing down. Christina entered the main cabin.

"Well we're home." She looked at Gabe and nodded. "Gabe was right. We need to take care of our equipment before we can relax. As we came in, I saw the families gathered on the tarmac, so we'll take a few minutes and then come back in here to take care of the equipment. Jamil, lower the ramp, let's go say hi." She led the way to the ramp as it began lowering. Once it was down they made their way down to the tarmac and headed toward the knot of people awaiting them.

Everyone was greeted by their family members. The youngest boys were asking their older brothers about what they had been doing. Tim and Sara were hugging their new parents. Brett saw Vanya on the edge of the group and walked over to him. "Hey Vanya. How are you doing?" Vanya shrugged. "Alright I guess." Brett put his arm across his shoulder just as Jamie and Josh joined them. Vanya was a little surprised when Jamie gave him a hug and said, "Hey bro. Good to see you." Vanya then felt someone smaller hug him from behind and looked down to see Chase smiling up at him with his furry face.

"Hi Vanya. It is nice to see you again." Vanya couldn't help but smile at the ferret boy. "Hey Chase. Yeah, me too." Rio walked over with Eric and held out his fist to Vanya and they bumped fists. "Hey bro." Vanya smiled and nodded.

After everyone had a chance to greet their families, they trooped back into Dragon. Gabe was put in charge of cleaning everything. He organized them in teams. One large team to clean and check the armor, another handled all the pistols and the rest cleaned the rifles. It took a couple of hours to clean and stow everything before they were released to head to their barracks rooms.

They were all pretty grimy from the attack and then cleaning up all of their equipment, so the first stop for all of them was the showers. Once they were dressed in clean clothes for the first time in a couple of days, they met in the mess hall for lunch. It was a little bit of a party atmosphere inside. Everyone was back safely. The boys' parents were very grateful for that.

After lunch, the general consensus was to spend some time in the water. They went to a sandy beach on the base where they could just be a bunch of kids for a while. Luck was with them in that it was a warm day, high 70's. The water was a bit cool, but it felt good to them and there was the sound of children's laughter in the air.

None of them had swim suits, and the UNIT members didn't want to shock any of the parents if they wore what they would usually wore to go swimming, so they wore cut off uniform pants and for the girls t-shirts. Apollo carried Eve into the water, but once she was in water, she was fine. Her legs were not a hindrance in the water. Apollo stayed nearby anyway, just in case.

The four youngest boys talked their older brothers into being their steeds in a chicken fight. Dakota's younger brother Braden ended up being the winner. After the fight Chase, since he was the same size as the younger boys, played water tag with them. He was too slippery for the boys to easily tag him, unless he let them do so. Everyone could hear his high pitched laughing as he enjoyed the game with the young boys.

Tim and Sara had fun swimming with their new parents. They were very happy that Christina and Oliver were back safe with them. They hated not knowing what was happening to the two of them, when they were on a mission.

Vanya even found himself being able to relax a little and have some fun for the first time since his dads had been murdered by Ashwood's agents. He saw Eric and Rio swimming nearby and Eric patted Rio on the back before heading to shore to get out. Vanya swam over to Rio, getting a smile from him as he joined them.

"Hey Vanya. How're you doing?" Vanya nodded. "Okay." Rio could tell there was something more and like he had done on the beach a few days ago, he waited. The two sort of swam and sort of floated silently, until Vanya built up the courage to ask Rio what was on his mind.

"Rio, you said that I could get training if I wanted to." Rio nodded. "Okay then, when can we start?" Rio smiled at him. "I say what I mean, so if that is what you want, then we'll make sure you get the training you want."

"Good, so….when can we start?" Rio laughed. "Okay, we'll start tomorrow since it seems like we have a little downtime….finally." Vanya smiled. "Thanks."

A short time later there was the sound of engines above them and they looked up to see the UNIT helicopters coming in to land. Since it was late in the afternoon, they decided it was getting close to dinner time, so everyone started to get out of the water to dry off and head back to their rooms to clean up and change into dry clothes.

By the time they had gotten ready, it was time to eat so they made their way to the dining hall. They had just been there a short time before the command team came in to get some food as well.

Once dinner was over, even though they had taken a nap in Dragon on the way here, the long day and everything they had gone through started to take its toll on them. There were a lot of yawns and drowsy looks among those who had taken part in the attack on Orlando, during dinner. Even some of Christina's UNIT Team was looking a little tired as well. An early night was called for and they made their way back to their rooms in the barracks.

Early the next morning Vanya woke up and looked around. He looked over at the other two beds and only saw two unmoving lumps. They looked to be asleep. He lay there with his hands behind his head. Finally, he was going to get the chance to learn what he needed to learn so he could feel like he was doing something. Deep down he knew part of his reason for wanting to learn was revenge, but it wasn't as big a part of his reason as it had been. While the others had been gone, he had time to think a little about what Rio, Chase and Doct..., uh….Brett had said about it not being about revenge. They had told him the important thing was to do it to help those who can't protect themselves and when he thought about it, it made sense to him.

There was still a feeling of wanting to get back at Ashwood for what he did to his dads. He knew that he didn't really have proof it was Ashwood, but with everything going on, it seemed like the sort of thing that he would do. He did agree with the others about protecting the innocent and it sounded like a good thing. That was the sort of thing that his dads would support. So if doing that and helping protect others, helped him get a feeling of justice for his dads, then he was all for it. He started feeling the call of nature, so he got out of bed and headed down the hall to the bathroom.

When he got there he heard someone else in the bathroom. As he headed to a urinal, one of the stalls opened and he saw it was Jamie. He looked up and gave Vanya a smile. "Hey, good morning Vanya." Vanya nodded and went over to do his business. When he finished, Jamie was wiping his hands dry. He grinned at Vanya again. "So what are you doing today Bro." Vanya stopped and looked at Jamie with a little bit of surprise. Jamie saw the look. "What?" Vanya shook his head and went to wash his hands. He didn't want to tell him that Jamie calling him Bro, made him feel welcome, like he was a part of them. "Nothing really. Um, Rio said he would start teaching me how to fight like you guys have been doing." Jamie nodded. "Martial Arts, cool."

"Well I guess, but not just that, but everything, so I can help. So I can be part of the war. So I can help other people." Jamie was quiet for a moment. "You know. That's a good idea. I wonder if he'd teach us, too. I mean, yeah, we've been doing a lot of fighting, some that we didn't expect, but we can always get better. I think I'll talk to the others. Anything that can help us beat that would be dictator is a great idea." Jamie turned to leave but stopped at the door to look back at Vanya. "You don't mind if we join you do you?" Vanya quickly shook his head. "No. I'll tell Rio when I go back to the room." Jamie smiled. "Great, I'll see you at breakfast, Bro." Vanya watched as Jamie left. What had surprised him was how easy Jamie called him Bro. He figured it was just the way that Jamie talked. He probably called a lot of people Bro. Maybe it was a California thing, since he knew that's where Jamie and the others were from.

When he got back to the room he saw that Rio and Chase were awake. Rio looked up when he entered the room. "Hey Vanya, ready to get started?" Vanya smiled and nodded. "I just saw Jamie and he thought that he and the others would want to join us." Rio nodded and glanced over at Chase, who gave him one of his toothy smiles. "Yeah, I think that's a good idea. They've been on a couple of ops with us now, and they've done okay. Since they're working with us, we need to do everything we can to bring them as close to our level as they can get, and that is through training."

When they got to the dining hall, Jamie walked over to them. "Morning Rio. Did Vanya tell you?" Rio nodded. "Yep, the more the merrier. Make sure you get a good breakfast cuz you're going to need the fuel."

"Cool, thanks." Jamie headed back to the others to let them know it was okay. Now that they had a good night's sleep, they had more energy than they had they day before. When Rio saw Christina come in the hall, he got up and walked over to her. "Chris, I'm going to start working with Vanya and the other squishies today. They want to be trained." Christina nodded. "What are you going to start with?" Rio smirked. "I thought that they really needed to get a good introduction to their armor." Christina raised an eyebrow. "Everything?" Rio shrugged, "Of course. They need to know so that they can use it to its full potential. Well at least the full potential that they are cleared for." Christina glanced over to where Jamie and the others were sitting and smiled. "Good. Do you need any help?" Rio shook his head. "Nope, but you might want to let the command team know that may hear some gunfire. Tell them not to be concerned about it. Christina nodded. "Very well, carry on."

Rio walked back over to the group. "Okay, I told Chris that we would be doing some training. She okayed it." He paused for a moment. "I see everyone is in their fatigues, except for you, Vanya."

"But I don't have any." Rio nodded, "Well I guess we'll need to fix that." He turned to Chase. "Chase, can you go and set our friend Vanya up with some gear?" Chase gave him one of his toothy grins. "I will take him to Tommy. Tommy will get him what he needs." He held out his hand. "Come with me." Vanya reached out his hand and let Chase drag him off. Rio looked at the rest. "Meet me at Dragon in fifteen minutes, ready to work." The group nodded.

It was an excited group of teens that made their way to the hangar where the helicopters were stored. When they entered the hangar, they saw Rio standing at the top of Dragon's ramp. He had his armor on and was holding his helmet under his arm. Just as they stopped at the base of the ramp, Chase and Vanya came running up to join them. Chase ran past them and inside so that he could get suited up as well.

"Okay, guys. I want you to get into your armor. Vanya, I'll help you get suited up. It's the last extra one that we have so since you want to be one of us, it's yours now." Vanya shook his head, "I don't want to take it if it is the last one you have." Rio held up his hand. "No, it's the last one that we have here in Dragon that is for the Red Dragons. You want to train with us, you need to learn about the armor first. So just get your butt up here and get ready."

The group went inside and to the armory to get their armor. They carried the armor cases into the main cabin and suited up. Vanya followed Rio into the armory where he pulled out the last extra suit that they had. "Okay, here it is. I'll help you get it adjusted."

"Do I have to take my clothes off?" Rio smiled and shook his head. "Nope, the armor fits over the uniform; you will have to take your boots off though." Vanya nodded and sat down on the floor to remove them. When he was ready, Rio had him stand up and helped him get each of the parts of the armor on. Once he was suited up, Rio handed him the helmet. "Okay, let's go join the others." Vanya nodded and followed him into the main cabin.

"Okay guys let's head out. I want you to carry your helmets. Don't put them on yet. I'll explain when we get out there." Rio turned to the ramp and started jogging. Chase was right behind him. The others looked at each other for a moment and ran to catch up.

Rio led them to the far eastern tip of the base. He waved to some of the patrolling guards as he jogged by. When he reached the end of the island, he put his helmet down on the ground and watched as the others caught up with him. "Okay, you guys have been wearing the armor for a couple of weeks now and you know a little about what it can do for you. Now it's time you really learn what it can do. So far you have only used a few of the capabilities of the suit. So last night I went into the armory and unlocked most of the capabilities of your suits, so that you can get more out of it. There's still an item or two that you will not get access to yet, until you are more fully trained."

He smiled at them. "Okay, I'm going to have you put your helmets on. But first I want to let you know what to expect. The suit has a computer system in the helmet that helps you in using the capabilities of the suit. When you first put it on, the computer is going to ask you for a voice print to start with. It will ask you to repeat the activation phrase a few different times. Once it has taken your voice print, the suit you're wearing will work for you and no one else. Now another person can put it on, and it will do some of the basic stuff, but will not give them access to everything the suit can do for its user."

Rio picked up his helmet. "Okay go ahead and put them on and get your initial voice print set up." Everyone followed his orders and put the helmets on. This time when they put the helmets on, they heard a young male computerized voice in the internal speakers talk to them. It asked them to state their full name, gender and birth date. Each of them gave the information to the computer. They heard the voice again. "Initial voice print accepted. Further voice print analysis will continue until completed."

Rio's voice then came in on their internal speakers. "Okay you have some initial access now. I want to make sure your comms are working properly so everyone acknowledge with your name, so I know you can read me." Once he heard from everyone he continued speaking.

"Some parts of the suit work without any input from you but others will need you to give a verbal command to activate. So let's start at the top." Jamie raised his hand. "Um, what did the computer mean by ‘Further voice print analysis will continue until completed'?"

"That means that as we train, it is going to be doing voice analysis as we work today. We're going to work out a bit and do some running. The computer will analyze your voice to see what it sounds like under different conditions, like when you're stressed or while exercising or running." Jamie nodded that he understood.

"Okay, then to continue. You know that the helmet will give you night vision like goggles, but instead of looking through binocular or monocular type vision, like normal night vision goggles, you have a wider field of view that encompasses the entire visor of the helmet. The helmet can also give you vision in the IR or Infrared spectrum. It has a HUD, Heads Up Display, with 10X zoom with reticule that will assist the wearer with sniper support. The comms have a twenty mile range and can be vocal or subvocal. The external speakers can give you a ten times volume boost. A couple of you know that we can connect underwater breathing equipment like a Draegar unit or SCUBA tank to the helmet to allow you to breath underwater for a long period of time."

"Now that I've upgraded your access, the helmet also contains twenty-seven minutes of recycled air, so you have some built in underwater capability without carrying extra equipment. There is an IFF, that means Interrogative Friend or Foe, in the suit that will tell you that another person wearing one of our suits is nearby and who that suit is assigned to. However, if an enemy wears the suit, you will not know that, only that the name of the suit's owner will appear in your HUD when you look at them. Since you have all done your initial voice print, when I look at you the name of the person in the suit pops up in my HUD. Look around and you will see the same thing."

"Every weapon has been programmed into the computer so that it can help with aiming and accuracy if you need the help. Pretty much every weapon that we knew of, on our version of Earth, has been programmed into the computer. Most of those available in this version will work, but there are few that were only in our world that are of no use here. All you have to do is tell the computer which weapon you are using and it will assist you. Not everyone uses that because their skills are such that they don't need the assist." He looked a Dakota, "Dakota, I'm guessing that you'll be one of those who won't normally need the assist because of your gift."

Dakota nodded. "The suit will also give you a power assist to your strength and your endurance. Most of us that are Genesis kids are already stronger than the suit's ability to help us, so we don't use the power assist, but you guys will."

"One of the things that you guys won't have access to until you've had a lot more training is this." Rio lifted his arms away from his sides a bit and gave a silent command to his computer, the glide wings popped out of the sides and back of the armor. "This turns the suit into a glide suit for flying toward our target before we pop the chute." He gave another command and the wings retracted back into the suit. "Once you guys have gotten to be experts in skydiving, we'll unlock that capability." He could pick up from some of their surface thoughts that there was interest from some of the members of the group in going skydiving. He didn't know when they would get a chance to do any of that training, because they hadn't had much time to breathe, let alone do some training since they had arrived here.

"And of course there is one of the most important parts of the suit's abilities and that is its armor protection. We call it Enhanced Kinetic Force Distribution. It will stop anything up to a large caliber bullet, like a .50 cal. The armor can even diminish the force of such a bullet at least a little, so that you might survive such a hit, instead of just being ripped open by the large bullet. Still, you don't want to be hit with that size of a bullet if at all possible. There are some weaker points in the armor where a lucky hit might get through, but up to that point, it will stop most bullets from going through. It is much better than Kevlar."

Rio glanced to the side and nodded to Chase who was standing there. Before anyone could realize what they were going to do, Rio drew out two pistols and Chase drew one and they both began firing rapidly at the group. There were cries of fright and they all tried to duck away from the gunfire. The two quit firing and returned the guns to their holsters. The boys began to straighten up.


Rio held his hands out. "Hey chill guys. No one was hurt and now your onboard computer has now heard your voice under a stressed condition. We killed two birds at once."

"Still not cool dude." Rio shrugged. "I thought it was necessary because I know that some of you have never been hit by a bullet yet and you have not felt what it's like when you are. So I'm not apologizing for doing it and since your computers have now heard your voices when stressed, it will understand you better when you give it commands while under stress." Rio then stood there silently with his arms crossed. After a few quiet moments they nodded their acceptance about what he had done.

"Look guys. I'm doing what I feel I need to do to get you trained. Every UNIT member has been shot at while wearing the armor, especially during training. We are in a war people, and we won't always have the luxury to be nice. I know that the Red Dragons are glad to have you as part of the team now. You have been a really great help in what we have had to do so far. I know that all of us think of you guys as a valuable asset, but we also want to make sure that you are as prepared as possible to be able to work as part of the team."

"The last thing I have to tell you is that the suit can send biometric information through the comms system to another computer, like Sean's. What some of you may not know is that Sean was able to monitor what you were seeing and hear what was happening around you when you were on an op. With the suit access you have now, your vital signs will also be sent and can be monitored remotely. Any questions?"

He swiveled his head to the right and left, none of them said a thing. There were only black helmeted faces looking at him. "Let's go." He turned and started jogging away with Chase quickly joining him. After a moment of hesitation, they followed.

Rio led them on a run along the south side of the base, continuing down the narrow isthmus. As they ran, Rio waved to members of the roving patrols as the line of black armored figures ran by. He kept going until he had made it to the far end of the property about a mile and a half away before he stopped.

He smiled when he saw that the others weren't far behind him and quickly joined him. "Good job. I figured you'd be able to do that, it was only a mile and half. I'm doing this to get you used to running and being comfortable in the armor. We're going to run faster on the way back and while we're running, I'm going to ask you questions that I want all of you to answer. The reason for that is so that your onboard computer gets used to the sound of your voice while you're running."

He didn't say anything more, he and Chase just started running back toward the main base. They saw that Chase had dropped to all fours to run, but he was really fast. The quickness of his start surprised them, but they quickly recovered and started running after Rio and Chase.

As they ran, Rio kept asking them questions. Rio's voice when it came over the speakers sounded like he was out on a stroll. They were all starting to breathe hard from the run. When they were about halfway back, Rio gave them a new command. "Give the command to your onboard computer for endurance assist." Everyone gave the command, a couple of them were gasping as they gave the command and had to give the command a couple of times before it was accepted. All of them felt something and it seemed that their running became a little easier. It was as if they had taken a quick breather. Rio and Chase led them to where they had started. All of them were breathing hard when they caught up to the two of them.

Rio took his helmet off. This was like a silent command to the guys and they removed their helmets as well. They were still walking around with their hands on their hips or occasionally lifting them in the air to get their breath back.

"Okay, let's head to Dragon for the next part." He led them to hangar and into Dragon's armory. "I want everyone to take one of the M4s and a handgun, but no ammo. You won't need it." They followed his orders and grabbed the weapons. They followed him back outside of the hangar. He began to jog away carrying his helmet in one hand and an M4 in the other. They quickly followed, carrying their M4s. Rio led them back toward the isthmus but stopped before reaching it.

"I'm going to have you practice using the aiming assist with the two weapons that you are carrying. Put your helmets on." When they did, the onboard computer asked for their names to authenticate them. When they were ready Rio began to give them instructions on using the aiming assist. He had them give the command ‘Aim assist' followed by the name of the gun they were using. He would then call out targets and they would focus on it with the aim assist and found out what the aim assist did for them.

"When you are using aim assist you will find that the helmet helps you see right where you are pointing your weapon. It shows you what you need to do to correct your aim and bring you weapon back on target and it will give you the range in yards to the target. It won't aim it for you, but it will help you see where your bullet is going to go."

They continued going over the use of the aim assist until Rio called a halt. "Good. Now you have some idea of what it can do for you. Unfortunately we really don't have a gun range here. Maybe we'll be able to find a place somewhere around here where you can fire the guns and see how the assist will really help you. We'll break for now. You did good. First we'll clean and put the armor away and then we'll go eat."

At lunch, Christina contacted Rio.

{So Rio, how'd they do?}

Rio looked in Christina's direction and smiled.

{Not bad for squishies. They're willing to work hard and they're in good shape. We keep working with them and we'll get them up to the level of our other squishies. I think with the combination of the training plus their mental skills, they're going to be as good as any of the other squishies. I only wish we had a firing range so we could work on their shooting skills. Not that they've done bad in that regard, but they can always get better.}

Christina nodded as she chewed for a moment before glancing back at Rio.

{Keep me informed, Rio.}


When they finished lunch, Rio and Chase led them to the north side of the base, among some of the buildings.

"Okay, now we're going to see how quiet you can be. Sometimes it's better to not be heard than to make too much noise. There are times when we need to get some intel before we go in. That is what Chase and I do. But everyone learns to be quiet, so that's what we're going to do this afternoon. I'm going to go a couple hundred yards that way and find a spot. I'm not going to hide or anything. We'll work on that some other time. Give me a minute to get in position. I will be in the open. What I want you to do is try to sneak up on me. I want to see how good you are at doing that, then we'll get an idea what we need to work on with you guys. Remember, sometimes silence means safe."

He glanced at Chase. "I'll let you know when I'm ready." Chase smiled at his fellow scout. "Okay Rio."

Rio nodded and took off at quick jog. He was out of sight in moments. A short time later, they saw Chase nod. He looked at the group and gave them one of his wide smiles. "Rio is ready. He is past those buildings and is sitting under a tree. Have fun and be sneaky."

They turned in the direction Chase had given them and took off. They weren't very quiet at first until they got among the buildings, then they started moving quietly. They split up so that they weren't a big group because they thought that they would make more noise that way. They slowly began to creep forward. In their minds they were trying to remember everything that they had ever seen in the movies about people sneaking up on guards. Every time one of them heard a crunch when they took a step, they would cringe. Most of them were walking on the balls of their feet, thinking that was the best way to sneak up on someone.

They took different routes through the buildings. When they could see the area where the tree was located that Rio waited behind, they stopped and looked the area over. There were a lot of trees and shrubs in the area. They couldn't see Rio yet, but that meant he couldn't see them either. Now it was time to be real quiet.

They moved forward in a crouch, trying to stay low. When they got to the bushes they started moving carefully with varying degrees of success. As they moved closer, some were able to get to the point so that they could see Rio sitting down leaning against a tree. They kept moving as carefully as they could, trying to get closer. Suddenly Rio spoke up.

"You guys are a little loud. I've been hearing you since you started moving into the bushes." He then stood up and starting pointing out each of the hidden guys, quickly finding all of them. "C'mon up and I'll show you how to be quiet." When they had gotten up from their hiding places and joined him, he had them spread out a little before he began explaining.

"Take slow measured breaths through your mouth. Watch your surroundings and try to plan where you're going to step next. Make sure the ground is as clear as possible before you step. Use your feet to feel what is on the ground. When you step, use the outside of your foot if possible and rotate your foot inward. It takes a lot of balance to do this so you'll need to practice. You can also set your heel of your foot first and slowly put the rest of your foot down. Don't put any weight on it, until your foot is down and you can tell there is nothing underneath it. If you do this as you move slowly, you will be very silent. When you move backward, place the ball of your foot first and then roll back onto your heel. If you want to move a little quicker you can move sideways and walk by crossing your feet as you move in the direction you want to move. If you've seen movies with ninjas in them, you have probably seen them move that way."

He demonstrated each point as he explained it. They were near him and they could not hear any of his steps as he moved.

"When you need to run, being on the balls of your feet is the best way. This requires more strength in you lower legs and better balance. Don't make long runs. Run a little, stop and listen, then run a little more and stop and listen. Don't lean on anything because when you move again, it could make a noise as you move away from it."

He looked at the group of teens. "Okay, now I'm going to lead you around the area for the next hour or so. I want you to practice breathing, foot placement and balance. Let's go."

Rio turned away and started moving. The group followed, trying to remember everything he'd told them. It was more tiring than they thought because of the tightening of their muscles as they moved to help control their movements. They moved all over the area of the base over different ground cover. He wanted them to see that there were times that no matter what you did sometimes the ground was covered with too much gravel, leaves and twigs to be completely silent.

It was almost two hours before Rio called a halt. The boys were sweating quite a bit. "Well you guys are getting better. We'll have to do some more of this tomorrow. Now I think we all need a shower and then you can relax for the rest of the day." The guys gave a little cheer as they headed back to the barracks to clean up before dinner.

During dinner they told their parents about all they had been doing all day. After dinner, there wasn't much going on. Most of them headed to their rooms to relax since they had worked hard all day. Before they left, Rio told them they would get back to work the next day. They all fell asleep fairly early.

"OW! Damn Dude! That hurt…." Ian sat up in bed with a hand over his left eye. He looked at Logan with a scowl on his face. The scowl quickly disappeared when he saw the state that Logan was in. He was thrashing around, his breathing was rapid and seemed to be a bit panicky. His face and hair was sweaty, as was the skin of his chest and arms. He looked like he was squeezing his eyes tightly shut. "Logan?" Ian reached over and put his hand on Logan's shoulder and gave it a shake. "Logan? Logan, wake up man!" Logan continued to thrash around for a few more moments before his eyes shot open. Ian could see that he was tense and he was looking around like he didn't know where he was.

"Wha…? Where?" He looked at Ian and that caused him to relax when he realized where he was. Logan closed his eyes for a moment and his breathing slowed down as he took some deep breaths to calm himself before opening his eyes again.

Ian was looking at him with some concern. "Logan. You alright?" Logan nodded before getting up. "Yeah, I think so, but I need to talk to Christina." Ian looked out the windows before turning back to Logan. "Now? Dude, it's the middle of the night." Logan shook his head as he pulled on his underwear and a pair of pants. "Doesn't matter. This may be life or death." Logan picked up his t-shirt from a chair and pulled it on. As his head came out of the collar he looked at Ian. "You should get dressed, too, and then go wake the others. We've got somewhere we got to go." Ian nodded and started getting dressed as Logan left the room. "Be right back."

Logan went to where he knew Christina and Oliver had their room. He knocked and waited. Moments later Chris opened the door. "Logan? What's the matter?" Logan could only stare, his eyes wide and his mouth open in surprise. Chris leaned against the door jam and crossed her arms frowning. "LOGAN!"

He shook himself and tried to say something. "Oh, uh…um…uh.." His mouth was working like a fish as he tried to get a coherent thought to go from his brain to his mouth. He felt his face start burning in embarrassment and he had to drop his eyes, because Chris was standing in the door, completely naked. He had never seen a naked girl up close before and it had shocked him. Finally Chris smirked at the top of Logan's head since he wasn't looking at her and rolled her eyes. "Just a moment." She closed the door for a few moments. When the door opened again she was wearing a t-shirt and some shorts.

"Better? Now why don't you tell me why you are knocking on my door in the middle of the night?" Logan knew his face was still very red and he swallowed a couple of times before he finally could get his mouth to work. "Um, sorry, but we, uh, gotta go to Tennessee right away."

"Tennessee. What's in Tennessee?"

"I was dreaming but it was like I was watching, like, a movie or something. I, uh, think there are some people we need to rescue or will need to rescue. We don't have much time though, because we have to be there as soon as we can or else something bad will happen." He had finally raised his head so that he was looking at her. She regarded him silently for a few moments. "Tell me what you know."

"I saw some people, most of them were kids or our age anyway, in small boats on the water and there was some soldiers shooting at them from the riverbank." Chris nodded as she listened. "So is this happening now or what?" Logan shook his head. "I think it's going to happen soon. What I saw looked like early in the day. I don't think it's later in the afternoon, the light wasn't right."

"Okay." She turned back to the room and saw that Ollie, Tim and Sara were awake. "Ollie get the team ready and head to Dragon." Ollie nodded and finished getting dressed. Christina's eyes unfocused for a few moments

{Master Commander Casey, Senior Commander Hayes. This is Commander Casey. I'm requesting permission to leave immediately for a probable rescue operation.}

{Probable, Commander? Where did this information come from?}

{Logan from my team, sir.}

There was a short silence. {Very well Commander, gather your team. Logan and I will meet you in the hangar.}

{Yes, sir!}

Chris' eyes focused back on the teen in front of her. "Get your brothers and Brett and Gabe's team. We'll meet at the hangar. Adam and Logan are going to meet us there." Logan nodded and took off.

When he got back to the wing where the families were located he could see doors opened and people moving around. He saw Gabe come out of his room and hurried over to him. "Colonel Sir. Christina told me to get everyone including Brett and your team and meet at the hangar." Gabe nodded and went to get the others up and ready.

Logan saw that Ian had gotten most of the guys up and they were dressing. He relayed Christina's orders to them. Within fifteen minutes the teams were on their way to the hangar. Several of the parents were with them as well, because there had been plenty of noise as people were told to get ready. When they got to the hangar, they saw Adam and Logan waiting for them. Christina stopped, came to attention and saluted.

"At ease Commander. So what's this about a probable rescue mission?"

"Yes, si…." Adam held up his hand to stop her. She knew what that meant. "Sorry, Adam." She turned around and beckoned Logan to join them. "Logan woke me up a short time ago." She glanced his way and Logan's face lit up. Adam cocked an eyebrow, when he looked at her, not much different than his Uncle Spock. She sent him a quick picture of what Logan had seen and Adam and Logan both had to bite their lips to keep from laughing. "He told me that he'd had a dream or something about some kids or teens in Tennessee that needed rescuing because some soldiers were firing at them. Since I know what he can do, I thought it prudent to call the team together and handle it."

The two UNIT commanders looked at Logan. "Okay Logan, can you tell us what it is you saw." Logan nodded and repeated what he had told Christina. When he finished, they looked at each other for a few moments. "Commander, let's go aboard and into the command suite. Once your team is aboard your crew can do the pre flight and bring Dragon out of the hangar." Chris nodded and gave the orders. The parents were worried, of course, because they knew their boys were going into harm's way again. Logan's mom, Stephanie, was still not happy about these kids doing this, but by this time she was resigned to it. She knew she couldn't stop them. Chris and Ollie told Tim and Sara goodbye once again before they headed off to their duties.

Inside the command suite Sean quickly hooked up Dusty and synched him with Drake. "Morning Dusty." The teen cowboy on the screen smiled at him. "Mornin' Sean."

"Let's synch with Drake, we've got some people to help." Dusty touched his hand to his hat. "Ready when you are. Drake and I are ready to go." Sean had his equipment on and activated. "Drake, status check." Drake's voice came through the speaker. "All systems operational. Awaiting commands." Sean smiled and turned to the others standing by. "We're ready."

The group included Adam, Logan, Logan, Brett, Gabe, and Christina. Adam nodded to Sean "Bring up a map of Tennessee." Sean made a couple of gestures and his huge monitor was filled with a map of Tennessee. Adam turned to Logan. "Okay, where do you guys need to go?" Logan checked back and forth on the map, looking for something that would tell him where he needed them to go. He knew that there was water involved, so he started looking at the rivers and the lakes. After a short time, he shook his head and looked at Adam. "I don't know now. There are a lot of places that it could be. I'm sorry, I can't tell right now. Maybe once we get closer, I'll have a better idea."

Adam was looking at the map as well. "Okay. Next question Logan, is your team enough or should I send more people with you?" Logan looked around and then a thought came to him and he closed his eyes to concentrate and try to bring up the memory of the vision he'd had. He was shaking his head as he opened his eyes. "No sir. The Red Dragons will be enough."

Adam nodded and turned to Christina. "Okay Commander. You have a six hour flight." He checked his watch. "That should put you in place by seven at the latest. Maintain stealth as you traverse Asswood held territory. You know what to do. If there is even a chance that someone needs our help, you know that's what we do. Since you don't need the others, we'll be waiting in the command center for your report. If you get in trouble, call and we'll bring in the cavalry." Chris saluted. "Will do, Sir." Adam returned the salute and he and Logan turned to leave. On the way out, Logan stopped and laid a hand on her arm. "Be careful Chris. We don't want to lose anyone. Go and save those people." She gave him a smile. "Count on it. Give Em' Hell, Kid." Logan smiled and turned to follow Adam.

For the next few minutes, Chris conferred with Logan, Sean and Eve who had by this time been settled in her station by Apollo. Before he went to take his place in the cockpit, he gave her a quick kiss. Chris took her leave of Brett, Sean and Eve and headed up to the cockpit. She took the pilot's seat. Oliver was in the copilot seat and Apollo was in the jump seat behind the copilot. While they had been meeting in the command suite, Oliver had gotten the ground crew on duty awake and they had gotten Dragon outside with one of the small towing tractors.

"Drake. Start the engines."

"Affirmative. Engines starting." The engines spooled up and the rotor began to turn quickly picking up speed. "Engines running within normal parameters."

"Thank you Drake. Give me a heading to the state of Tennessee."

"Acknowledged. Course being plotted." A few moments later Drake's voice came over the speakers. "Steer course 280 degrees."

"Got it." She keyed her in cabin speaker. "Team prepare for takeoff. Check in when secure." She waited until the crew reported secure for liftoff. She contacted the tower. "UNIT control, this is Dragon requesting permission to take off."

"Dragon you are clear for takeoff. Good luck and come home safe."

"Roger. Be back soon."

The whine of the engines increased and Dragon slowly lifted off. As he did, Chris turned him slightly north of west, to 280 degrees and picked up speed. When they were high enough she gave Drake the command to engage the stealth system and they were on their way to the Volunteer State.

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