Castle Roland

Changing Connections

by Eric Aune

In Progress

Chapter 20

Published: 3 Mar 16

Changing Connections

Copyright © 2012 - 2016 by Eric Aune and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

Changing Connections LogoApollo moved Eve's wheelchair back and away from Dragon as the team took off. Once it was out of sight, Apollo turned the wheelchair around. "So where to Eve? What would you like to do while their gone?" Eve didn't say anything right away. "Why don't we see if we can grab one of those Gators and just drive around?" Apollo nodded. "That sounds good. Let's head over to where they're kept. It was easy enough to get one yesterday, shouldn't be too hard to get one today. Maybe one of those smaller ones. We don't need one of the larger size."

Apollo headed to the Gator park near the nearby monorail station. They saw an adult talking to a kid outside of a small building. As Apollo pushed Eve over to the pair, they saw the younger kid nod and trot over to one of the smaller Gators. The kid hopped in and waved to the man before he sped off on whatever errand he was on. The man saw them approach and turned to them with a smile. "Good morning. What can I do for the UNIT this morning?"

"We'd like to borrow one of the smaller Gators, if possible?" The guy turned around and stepped just inside the door, grabbed a tablet computer and a tagged key. "It shouldn't be a problem, let me check one out to you." They saw him make some notations on the tablet before holding out a key to them. "Any problems, just contact me on the radio. I'm Lance."

"Thanks, I'm Apollo, this is Eve. We'll head back to our barracks, there should be a radio there that we can use." Lance nodded. He walked them over to the Gator he had assigned to them. Apollo picked Eve up and set her in the passenger seat. Lance helped him put the folded up wheelchair in the cargo box, and then secured it with some bungee cords that were stored in the box. He stood by as Apollo started it up. "Apollo, you're staying over there where the helicopters landed right?" He nodded. "You guys don't have any of these over there, do you?" Apollo shook his head. "No sir." Lance looked down at his pad. "Let me see what I can do about that. I think you guys should have some of the Gators, in a few different configurations over there that are permanently assigned to your area. I'm going to contact my son Hobie who is working at the CCC and see what I can do to set that up. For now, just keep that one with you at your base. If there is a problem with you guys keeping it, then I'll contact you and let you know, but I don't think there will be anyone who will care." He smiled at them. "Have a nice day and thanks for what you guys are doing here to help keep us safe." Apollo gave him a small salute and drove off.

When they pulled up to the base, Apollo got out and trotted into the hangar area. He saw Micah and asked about borrowing a radio. Micah went and grabbed one of the radios and handed it over. He explained which frequencies had been assigned to what areas, so they knew which one to use for contacting any area in particular. "Thanks Micah. We'll be back later." Apollo headed back to the Gator and handed the radio over to Eve before driving away.

They drove into town to take a look at how everything was going. As they drove, they saw people waving at them as they went by. Everything seemed to be working well with no problems. There were a lot of people in the town as they had expected. Everyone seemed to move with a purpose. Most people seemed to be comfortable with what was going on. They didn't see anyone that seemed to be stressed out. As they drove by one of the grocery stores, Apollo saw three teens, one older and two a little younger, loading some bags and boxes in the back of a pickup truck. He pointed to them. "Hey aren't they some of the people we rescued Sunday?" She looked at them and nodded. "Let's go say hi." Apollo turned into the parking lot and stopped behind the truck.

The three boys looked up when they saw Eve looking at them. "Hey guys, how're you doing?" The teens looked at the two, trying to place them and then the oldest smiled when he realized who they were. "Oh, hi, I didn't recognize you right away. We're doing great."

"Good to hear that. So someone has you guys working, huh?" Cole looked at his brother and Tyler and chuckled. "Yep, when we checked in, they found out we were Scouts and that I had experience working at a Scout Camp, so they asked if we would like to work at the camp across the river. We said sure, so me and Coop, along with Tyler here and his dads, are staying in one of the Camp Director's cabins over there. We're working on getting everything setup in case they need some overflow temporary housing, like if they get a huge influx of refugees and not enough housing here in Kettle Falls and Colville to hold them. We were out just doing a grocery run for the five of us, the Camp Ranger, and his assistant."

"What about the others that came with you?"

"Yeah, the Tuttles and…" He looked at the two boys. "What was that other guy's name? The one that was friend with your Dads, Tyler."

"Patrick." Cole turned back to Eve. "Yeah, Patrick. I think they are moving on today, maybe to Canada. We were told that this was mainly a waystation but that some people, with the skills that they needed, were asked to stay behind to help out, if they wanted to. We had to help, so we accepted the job when it was offered to us. Where are the others?"

"They flew to Idaho to look at some property over there that is owned by Doctor MacLeod. It wasn't a combat mission, so we decided to take a break and relax for the day." Cole nodded as they finished loading the supplies in the bed of the truck and closed the tailgate. "Could you guys go and put the carts back." The two younger boys nodded and did as he asked. "If any of you want to come by, just take the main road through town to the west. Cross the bridge and turn south and you should be able to find the entrance pretty easy."

"Thanks, we'll let the others know when they get back. Glad to see you're doing okay. Bye guys." The two younger boys returned and Cole waved goodbye to the two of them as he got into the truck. Apollo drove away to continue their sightseeing trip through town. Around lunch time they saw a tent kitchen at one of the parks. There were people sitting at the benches eating, and they decided to see if they could get some lunch there. Apollo unpacked the wheelchair and got Eve into it. They entered the tent and were able to get some tasty stew and a roll. They were greeted by everyone as they made their way to a picnic table.

They had been there a short time, when a family came over and asked if they could sit with them. Eve nodded and they joined them. The man looked at the two teens in uniform. "Excuse me. Are you with those other military kids?" Eve nodded. "Well I want to say thanks to you guys for what you're doing. I know that there's some bad things going on out there, but I am surprised to see the government using kids your age in the military."

"There are some tough times going on and…" She paused for a moment trying to figure out what to say. Then she caught a stray thought from the man and smiled. "Well, we were all part of ROTC units at our schools here in the Spokane area and they asked if we'd come out here to help out with everything, sort of like the Boy and Girl Scouts, only military. Most of us joined because we were thinking about careers in the military when we graduate high school. We thought it was our duty to help if it was possible, so here we are."

"I was just wondering about it, because I saw that you two are carrying pistols and I've seen other kids dressed like the two of you who were carrying assault rifles."

Eve chuckled a little, still playing the part. "Well, I guess you could call us the last line of defense. We're well trained, but they don't really expect us to have to fight around here. If it gets to that point, then that means it's bad. We're safe here. You're safe here."

The man nodded. "Well thank you for what you're doing. Everything is going pretty smoothly, better than I expected. They say we'll be moving on from here, up to Canada or something." Eve nodded. "Yes, they told us that this is a waystation for most of the folks going through. Sort of a place to rest and catch your breath before moving to a final destination. Where are you folks from?"

"Kansas City."

"I heard about what happened there."

"Yeah, it was pretty bad. We lived on the Kansas side, in the suburbs to the west. I worked in the downtown area, so after the bomb went off, I couldn't go into work. Then it got crazy, the Army came in, and we started hearing stories about people being rounded up for no reason and that started to worry me. We waited a few days and a friend told us that the Army was rounding up anyone who supported Bryce. He and I had donated some of our time to do some legal work for Bryce's campaign in the city. We thought that maybe our names might come to the Army's attention. So for the safety of our families, we both decided to head west. He had family in New Mexico so he and his family went that way. Most of our family lived nearby or in the east. We went to find my wife's parents house and when we got to their neighborhood, it looked like a war zone. Their house was shot up and their car was gone. Cell phones weren't working, so we thought we'd just head west. We thought maybe if we stayed away from major cities, we'd be okay, so we headed northwest, trying for someplace in Wyoming, or Montana, or something like that. Then we started hearing about Kettle Falls as a safe place, so we ended up here."

"Have you heard anything about where these people that are being rounded up are taken or even why they were taken?" The man shook his head. "No idea about any of it, other than it was happening. We're hoping that our friends and families hear about this place and make their way here, but we haven't heard anything yet. The people in charge have our names, so if the others make it this far, they will know that we have been here."

"When you checked in, did you tell anyone about what was going on Kansas City?" The man nodded. "They asked where we were from and some other questions and we told them about why we left. So I think they know."

Eve and Apollo, nodded as they finished up. "Well, if you'll excuse us, we have some things we need to do. I wish you and your family good luck. You can trust anyone here. They will do anything that they can to help you." They shook hands with the man and his wife and Apollo pushed Eve back to their Gator. Once she was settled in and the wheelchair secured in the back, they drove off.

"Where to next?" Eve looked around. "I think I want to talk to some more of the refugees. I want to see if we can get an idea about how widespread this round up of civilians is. With what we've seen and heard over the last couple of weeks is any indication, it is probably happening everywhere. We know that Ashwood released prisoners with those false pardons and they are taking innocent civilians. Plus we know that there is some foreign military units here as well working for Ashwood and they may be putting them into the empty prisons or somewhere. We also know that a lot of people have been slaughtered and after hearing their story, I fear that they may use this roundup as a device to remove 'undesirables' from the population. We need to talk to Adam when we see him again, but first let's find a few more of these outdoor field kitchens and talk to more of the refugees." Apollo agreed and they started looking for any place where a large number of the refugees had gathered.

Chris looked around at her team. They looked like they were ready to go. Sean was back in his normal spot in the command center. Brett sat in Eve's usual seat, ready to help out. Dakota had one arm around Sean and he was leaning into the larger boy. Looking at the two of them an idea came to her. "Dakota, I've got a job for you." Dakota turned to her. "Whatever you need." Chris smiled. "Come with me." She headed to the cockpit as she entered she called to Drake. "Drake assume control of Dragon."

"Acknowledged. I have control." Ollie heard the command and let go of the collective and cyclic controls. He looked over his shoulder at Christina.

"Ollie let Dakota sit in the copilot seat." She glanced at Dakota. "Dakota you take Ollie's seat." Oliver cocked an eyebrow but shrugged and switched over to the pilot's seat. Once he was in position he looked at Chris and she nodded to him. He turned to the front. "Drake I have control now."

"Acknowledged. Control transferred to you."

Dakota hesitated. "Are you sure, I've never flown anything." She gave him a little push. "Then it's time you learned. Sit." Dakota sat down and buckled in. "Now, I know you have this gift of being able to pick up weapons and use them with the skill of previous users, is that correct?" Dakota looked at her and nodded. "How do you do it?" Dakota bit his lip. "I sort of hold the gun or whatever and get a feel for it. After I've held it for a little while I sort of absorb the ability of other people who have used it and I'm able to know everything that person knows about the gun and the best way to use it."

"So is it limited to guns or is there anything else you can use your gift on?" Dakota shook his head. "No, not just guns, but I'm best with actual weapons and better with guns. I'm able to absorb from anything used for combat, even something like a Martial Arts Gi, but trying to absorb information from something like that is really hard."

"Okay, how about vehicles." Again Dakota nodded. "That's how I learned to drive back home. "Gabe, I mean the Colonel, had me try every vehicle they had at the compound and it was harder than with weapons, but a lot easier than when I tried to absorb something from Captain Nim's Gi. It's like if it is mechanical I seem to be able to pick up the ability better than if it is not."

Chris held out her flight helmet. "Good, then I want you to put on my helmet, take hold of the controls for Dragon and do what you need to do to try and absorb everything you can about flying Dragon and using his weapons. You're not going to control it yet. I just want you to get a feel of the helo and its weapons for now." Dakota took the helmet and found that it fit him well enough. He slowly reached out and put his hands on the controls. He then reached out with his gift and began to get a feel for Dragon. The first thing he felt were the weapons. He was able to feel how to control the dual chain guns in the chin turret and the rocket pods on each stubby wing fairly easily. He could also feel the two .50 cals in the side doors and the mini gun on the ramp, even though he knew he couldn't use them from here, but he could tell that they were fully loaded and ready for use.

He next began absorbing how the flight controls were used. It was hard at first, but then a few moments later, he felt the information flowing into him. It became clear to him how to fly the massive helicopter. He knew that he would have to do this many times to absorb the knowledge from others that had used Dragon, before he would be up to the level of Oliver or Christina, but he knew it was possible now. He also knew that he could do some basic flying now. He looked at Chris and nodded. "I can fly it, but I need to do this a lot more before I'm as good as either of you."

Chris smiled. "We'll deal with that later. Ollie will do the flying, and you're going to control the weapons. So I want you to do what you need to do to understand everything about how to use them." Dakota nodded. "That was the easy part, but yeah, I'll keep working on absorbing it." She nodded. "Good. Ollie will point out any targets and Drake will help you with targeting until you can do it by yourself. I don't think you'll actually have to fire at anything, but it's good to be prepared. Now, I've got an attack to lead." She leaned down and kissed Oliver before leaving the cockpit.

As she walked through the command center, she waved at Sean. "Sean bring your laptop and follow me." She keyed her mic. "Oliver, bring us back to the property and look for a place to land. Stay in stealth mode until we need to drop it." She gathered the team around. "Sean, bring Drake's feed up and let's look at what we've got." Sean had the view of the property up and they studied it. "Drake, give me infrared so we can see where everyone is." There was a change on the screen and the heat signatures for all of the soldiers or whatever they were became visible. Chris studied it for a few moments.

"Ollie, do we have a place to land?"

"Negative. Nothing nearby. There is a spot about a hundred yards southeast of the house, but it would be tight. You'd have a better chance of fast roping down at that spot. We'll figure out the landing part afterwards."

"Roger. We'll fast rope in the open spot and move in from there. Can you hover low enough to keep the soldiers from seeing us fast rope in?"

"Yeah, shouldn't be a problem. The trees look tall enough to screen you."

"Good, then that's what we'll do." She looked at the team. "Okay, we're going to fast rope down and move in from there." Jamie raised his hand. "Um, is that like what you see on TV, when they slide down a rope from a helicopter?" She nodded. "Oh, um, we've never done that."

"It's simple, grab the rope and slide down."

"Um okay, but uh, how far?" Chris shrugged. "I think it will be about twenty feet. Don't worry. Just grab the rope with both hands, clamp your feet on each side of the rope and slide down. Kind of like the old time firemen who slid down brass poles. The armor will protect your hands and legs when you slide down. So you won't get any rope burns. Just get a good grip and slide. It's not that hard. I know you guys haven't done it before, but you'll do fine. Let's get the ropes set up." She led them to the storage compartment where the ropes were kept and they quickly had them rigged up near the ramp. Chris keyed her mic. "Okay Ollie, head to the DZ." In a short time they felt Dragon begin to descend. They heard Oliver on their radios. "Get ready."

The team hurried to the ramp. Rio hit the ramp control and they could see outside. Gabe and Eric pushed the ropes out. "GO!" They were the first to grab the rope and drop from sight. As Jamie and his brothers got to the ropes, George and Patrick were there to help them grab on and slide down. They were a bit scared, because it looked like a long way down. They watched what the others did and tried to copy them. They weren't as graceful but they made it down.

Over at Brett's house, one of the leaders looked up because he thought he had heard something and noticed some of the trees to the south seemed to have a wind blowing against them. Something didn't feel right to him and he turned to the men. "Hurry up and get the last of the stuff on the trucks so we can get out of here. He watched his team work faster for a couple of minutes before looking back to where he had seen the trees moving and noticed that the wind that had stirred the trees seemed to have stopped.

Once they were all down safely, Chris gave her orders via their tactical radios. "Chase, Rio, and Robin. You go…." She was interrupted by Rio, "Excuse me Chris, we'll take Vanya with us." She looked at him for a moment and nodded. "Very well. You guys head west and circle around behind them. Move in from there and stop them from using the boat to escape." The four of them nodded and took off to the west to circle around the group loading the truck.

"Colonel, take Doc, Sergeant Peterson, Dylan, and Ethan. Come in from the east and hit their flank." Gabe nodded and motioned for those named to come with him. She looked at Captain Nim. "Captain Nim, take Aleks, Fiona and Lieutenant Jamison to the west and hit them from that flank. Make sure that if they get that truck moving, you stop it from getting past you. They nodded and headed to their assignment. She looked at the rest. "The rest of you, you're with me."

As they moved into position, they saw one of the men waving a group of men forward as they carried some boxes and crates from the direction of the dock. "Hurry up and get that loaded. We need to get moving." The men hurried to the cargo truck.

A minute later, Christina heard from the three teams that they were in position and she turned to the soldiers at Brett's house and keyed her external speaker. "You're trespassing on private property, drop your weapons and surrender or you're dead!"

The men carrying the boxes and crates from the direction of the dock, dropped what they were carrying and grabbed for their rifles, when they heard Chris call for their surrender. Those that weren't carrying anything brought their rifles up and began firing as they ran for cover.

Chris gave the command. "Fire!"

The leader turned to a couple of his men. "Get to the truck and get that cargo back to the base. We'll cover you." The men nodded. The leader nodded to the others and rose up to fire while the men ran to the truck. As they ran, one of the men went down, the other jumped into the passenger side and trying to keep low he started the truck and got it moving.

"Captain, they're coming your way."

The man driving the truck sat up a little more as he drove out of the middle of the firefight. He had just shifted into second when he saw four black clad figures step out into the road and level their rifles. He ducked down and stepped on the gas, to run them over. Two of the larger figures jumped out of the way. He was shocked to see the two smaller figures jump up in the air and land on the hood of the truck. He grabbed his pistol and pointed at them. They both opened fire at him. The windshield shattered as he was flung back by the force of the fire from Aleks and Fiona's MP5s. His foot slipped off the gas and the truck had started to slow down when it hit a tree on the side of the road. The two girls were flung from the truck and landed hard but, because of the armor, they were not injured and by the time George and Patrick got to them they were already on their feet and bumping fists. George contacted Chris, "Truck's stopped."

The soldiers heard the sound of gunfire and the crash of the truck. A short time later, gunfire from the flanks started taking the soldiers down. The leader changed the frequency on his radio. "Base this is Zechariah."

"Yes my son, we hear you."

"We are compromised and under attack."

"What of your cargo?"

"I believe it is lost."

"Can you return?"

"It may be possible sir."

"If you can't, you know what you must do."

"Yes sir."

"God be with you my son."

"I give myself unto God that his power may grow."

Zechariah looked at his men. "We need to leave, some of you try to get to the boat and take it across the lake. Once there, call for pickup." He pointed out the six men that were to go for the boat and said, "When I give the word, you six will head to the boat, the rest of us will give you covering fire. Once they are out of sight we will give them a couple of minutes and the rest of us will attempt get in the SUVs and ram our way out of here."

His men nodded that they understood. A moment later he stood up and started firing. That was the signal to the rest of his men to open up, as the six men ran toward the dock.

As the men ran down the path leading to the dock, it seemed like the enemy had not gotten a chance to get around behind them and they would be home free. Just as they cleared the trees near the dock, they heard a faint sound and two of the men staggered back with arrows protruding from their chests. The rest of them looked toward the boat and saw a small figure with a bow standing on top of the boat's roof. The figure was pulling back to fire again. They quickly brought their rifles up and fired. The figure dropped down out of sight. It was almost like it had disappeared, it moved so quickly. Then gunfire came at them from the trees to either side. Two more of the men dropped, the remaining two turned around and ran back to rejoin their team. Escape by boat was closed to them. They were brought up short by a short black clad and helmeted figure, swinging a chain.

There was no hesitation as the two men brought their guns up to fire. The small figure threw the chain at them. The chain wrapped around the arms of one of the men and caused him to drop his rifle as the figure moved in so quickly it was almost a blur. The figure had some sharp sickle like weapon in one hand that it slammed up into the bound man's upper abdomen and ripped out, opening a very large gash, causing a flood of blood to spill out. It had ripped the bottom of the man's heart out. As the remaining soldier turned to fire on the figure it used the momentum of its attack as it jumped up and bounced off the dying man's body and then flipped through the air toward the last soldier. The figure pulled two swords from its back and slashed downward across the man's torso. The man felt ribs parting and the entire front of his uniform seemed to explode outward as the swords opened him up and his entrails spilled forth. He was dead before he hit the ground.

Zechariah heard the gunfire and screams from the direction his men had just gone. He shook his head. He nodded for the rest of the men to get in the vehicles. They all rose up and began firing to keep the Red Dragons heads down as they scrambled for the vehicles. More of them went down. One of the soldiers got one of the vehicles started but a hail of bullets shattered the windows on the driver's side. Most of those that had climbed in either died immediately or fell out of the vehicle, mortally wounded.

The leader and a couple of his men were able to get in the other SUV and get it started. The Red Dragons fired at it but the soldier was able to start driving away. She looked over at Jamie. "Jamie stop that truck!" Jamie stood up and swung his arm like a backhand tennis shot. The SUV flipped over and rolled up against a tree.

All of them began running toward the vehicle to search for survivors. As they neared it, they could see that one man had been ejected and was lying on the driveway. They could see another man lying motionless on the inside roof of the SUV and the last man was hanging upside down in the seat belt struggling to get free.

Jamie heard Ethan in his head. "JAMIE, STOP HIM FROM MOVING!" Jamie didn't hesitate, he reached his hand out and closed his fist like he was grabbing something. Inside the SUV, Zechariah found that he suddenly could not move. It felt like he was tied up. He looked through the cracked windshield and saw a figure all in black with its head obscured by a full helmet, holding out a fist in his direction. His eyes widened in surprise as he knew that figure was the reason he could not move. Somehow the person was holding him still with his mind. The figure was a telekinetic. This is what his superiors had been working on. He knew that the Army of God had made some recent advances in their experiments and that was why he and his team were here. They knew that this Doctor Brett MacLeod had a background in genetic research, especially in regards to the workings of the brain. Apparently someone, maybe MacLeod, had been successful in their research and this figure was the result.

Zechariah continued to struggle but found himself held as securely as if he was in a straitjacket. The door was wrenched open and hands grabbed him as they cut the seat belt to free him. He was pulled out of the vehicle and laid on the ground. He looked around and saw that there were a number of helmeted black clad figures surrounding him. Some of them appeared to be the size of young teens. He tried again to break free, and grab his contingency plan, but the figure still held him. One of the other figures knelt down next to him and started searching his pockets. He knew that they would not find any identification. None of his men had anything to identify them. The figure did find what Zechariah had been trying to reach. It held up the small cylinder.

"This is why I wanted you to hold him Jamie." The figure popped the top off of the cylinder and dropped the ampule that was stored inside, out into his gloved hand. Zechariah's thoughts were confirmed as the voice was that of a teenage boy. The figure turned to look at Zechariah. He started feeling pressure or something like that in his head, like a headache was coming on. The pressure went away after a moment and the figure stood up holding out the ampule to another of the figures.

"I couldn't get much from him, but I knew he was trying to get to this. He is strong willed. All I could get is his name is Zechariah and he is with some group called the Army of God. I'm worried about what would happen if I push any harder to get more information. I need to talk to Logan before I try anything else."

Chris nodded as she took the ampule from him. "Fine. Thanks Ethan. We need to find out what we can about why they are here and more about this Army of God group. They sound something like the FCC back home. Zechariah here may be just who we need to talk to about that." She looked at the ampule. "I'm guessing that, since he wanted this, it's some kind of poison. Which means he knows stuff that he doesn't want us to know. We'll take him back with us and talk to him further."

Zechariah found he could move his head now and was looking back and forth between the figures surrounding him. Most of their faces were obscured by full face helmets, it also seemed that the majority of them seemed to be teenagers in size and maybe even younger. He noted there were also some men with them. The men were dressed a little differently than the younger people. They were dressed much like he and his men were, in black assault clothing with US issue black painted Kevlar helmets. "Ram and Doc, check him for injuries. Jamie watch him. If he tries anything hold him. If he has no serious injuries, make sure he is secured." Zechariah realized that the one doing the speaking sounded like a teenage girl and looking at her figure confirmed it.

They all looked up as they heard sirens. They could tell they were getting closer. "Damn. One of the neighbors called the locals." She looked at Gabe. "Gabe, can you handle talking to them, I really don't feel like having to explain things." Gabe nodded. Chris called Oliver. "Ollie, is there anywhere you can land nearby, so we can get the hell out of here."

"There is a house with a large open area about half a mile south."

"Good, there's one truck still usable. I'll call you when we're ready to leave and meet you there. Send the location to my helmet."

"Roger Chris. Do you know that there are several police cars heading in your direction?"

"Yeah, we can hear 'em. I'm going to let Gabe handle it."

"Roger, call when you're ready."

They all heard the sound of Dragon as Ollie flew overhead. Chris watched as Ram and Doc finished bandaging up the few cuts their prisoner had sustained in the crash. George had secured his hands behind him and he was now sitting with his back against a tree. Jamie stood nearby guarding him. The two other men who had been in the SUV with him were dead. Because Zechariah had been wearing a seatbelt, he escaped any serious injuries.

"Okay, I want some of you checking what's in the truck over there. Everyone else check the grounds." When they got to the truck, several of them removed their helmets and Zechariah found that his assumptions were true. All of those who had the full face helmet were kids. Chris pulled off her helmet and yelled at the group at the truck. "In fact, unload whatever is in there and put it in the other truck. We'll take it with us." They spread out and started searching.

She and Gabe looked up as they saw the flashing lights of several police cars approaching. The cars screeched to a halt and the officers spilled out of their cars with their guns drawn. The officers pointed their weapons at the older man and the teenage girl they saw near the flipped SUV. They noted that the two were dressed in assault clothing and were carrying assault rifles. That made them a tad nervous. One of them shouted at the two people. "DROP YOUR WEAPONS AND LAY ON THE GROUND!"

Gabe let his M4 hang free from its strap. Chris dropped the point of her M4 so it was not held in a threatening manner. "WE ARE HERE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS!" The officers continued to keep their guns trained on Gabe and Chris standing near the flipped over SUV. From behind the nearest police cruisers another officer approached. As the man walked forward he gestured for the other officers to lower their guns. They followed his orders and lowered their guns, but they kept them at the ready.

The man came from behind the cars and carefully walked forward. They could see he had sergeant stripes on his sleeves. "I'm Sergeant Briklin of the Coeur d'Alene police department. We need to calm things down. You said you are here on official business?" Gabe nodded. "I'm Colonel Gabe Patterson, Sergeant. My team and I were asked to escort the owner of this property and to check the place out. When we got here, there was a group of armed men taking things from his home. When we confronted them, they opened fire on us and we had to return fire to protect ourselves."

"That's your official business, escorting some civilian? I'm assuming this person you are escorting is some rich guy? Are you some sort of private security company?" Gabe shook his head. "No, we're…."

"WAIT!" They looked in the direction of the shout and the sergeant saw a teenage boy dressed like the others, running toward them. Several of the officers started to bring their guns up again. "He's with us, Sergeant." The sergeant looked at his men and waved his hand down. The officers once again lowered their guns, but kept them ready.

"Sean what are you doing here?" Sean held his hand up to catch his breath. "Sorry…Gabe, um, Colonel….sorry. I think that was longer….than half a mile." He took the backpack off that he was carrying and reached inside to pull out Dusty. "Sergeant, there's someone that wishes to speak with you. The sergeant gave Sean a questioning look. Sean dropped the backpack and opened Dusty. He hit a key and turned it around to face the Sergeant. The sergeant's eyes opened wide when he saw the person on the screen.

"Hello officer…Oh, excuse me, Sergeant. Do you know who I am?" The sergeant nodded. "Yes sir." Mike Reynolds gave him a disarming smile. "Good. I'm not sure how widely the news has gone out, but let me fill you in a few things. The Supreme Court has verified the election results and Jackson Bryce has officially been sworn in as President. The Congress has also declared that former President Ashwood is in insurrection against the legitimate government of the United States. The team that you have obviously met are on a task of national importance and they need to be allowed to do their job. Is that understood, Sergeant?"

The Sergeant barely stopped himself from coming to attention and saluting, but he did stand a little taller. "Yes, Mister Vice President. We are more than happy to be of service." Mike smiled at the man. "What is your name Sergeant?"

"Briklin, sir." Mike looked like he was writing something down. "Thank you Sergeant Briklin. I will be sure your Chief is apprised of your assistance with this team. Sean, I have another meeting to go to." Sean turned the laptop around so he could look at the screen. "Thank you sir." Mike gave him a little salute and cut the feed. Sean closed the laptop and put it back into his backpack. Gabe looked at the Sergeant.

"What can we do to help you, Colonel?" Gabe smiled and held out his hand. They shook hands and the sergeant turned around to his men. "Stand down." The officers holstered their guns. "Sergeant, there are several bodies around the property. We have one prisoner that we will be taking with us when we leave, but other than that, the rest are dead. You probably should contact your medical examiner. Unfortunately, he's going to have a lot of business. They weren't in a surrendering mood. You've heard of some of what's been going on around this country?" The sergeant nodded. "Well we think these men may be here under Ashwood's orders. The owner of the property is part of the Vice President's advisory team."

The sergeant nodded. "I understand sir." He keyed the mic on his shoulder. "Harris, call the Coroner and tell him to come here and bring help. Then I want you to visit all the nearby houses and let them know that everything is fine and the department is handling this. Tell the rest of the men to go back on patrol. We've got this under control. Once you've done that, you can go back on patrol. I'll handle it from here."

"Yes sir." Moments later they saw all but one of the cruisers turn around and leave. The sergeant walked back to his car and drove up to the house. Gabe and Christina walked up to the house to meet him. She looked at Sean. "So how did you arrange that?" Sean shrugged. "When I saw all the police cars heading toward you, I thought that it might be a good idea if I called some backup. Donnie asked the Vice President if he would say something on our behalf." She put her arm around his shoulders and gave him quick hug. "Good job soldier."

They met up with the sergeant who was just getting out of his car and looking around at all these armed kids moving things around. "Colonel, why is most of your team, a bunch of kids?" Gabe looked at the sergeant. "Sergeant, my suggestion is that you and the rest of your men should treat this as Top Secret and a matter of National Security. Don't discuss anything about us with anyone. Don't even talk about this among yourselves. It would be best if you forget what you see." The sergeant noticed how serious Gabe was looking at him and he nodded. "Yes, sir. Will do." Gabe clapped him on the shoulder. "Thank you Sergeant."

Gabe stayed with the sergeant as they watched the Red Dragons following Christina's orders. Several minutes later they heard someone call out to them. When they turned around they saw Brett walking up the driveway to them. "Hey Gabe. Have you been inside yet?" He shook his head. "No sir. Not yet."

"Is it okay if I go inside?" Gabe nodded. He looked at the sergeant. "Would you wait here for the Coroner. I'll return in a few minutes." The sergeant nodded. "Let's go take a look sir." The two of them went inside the house. The place looked like a tornado had hit it, at least in some of the rooms. His doppelganger's study seemed to have sustained the most damage. Brett could only look around in disgust. "Well it looks like a herd of elephants went through here." Gabe agreed with his assessments. "The biggest problem will be securing the house. You noticed the front door has been broken in, plus some of the windows were damaged by gunfire. Perhaps one of the officers knows someone in town who can work on the house." Brett nodded. "That's a good idea. We'll have to ask him. Do you think we have time to go out to the island? I'd like to see the lab that is supposed to be there."

"That should not be a problem. I'll get some of the team together and we'll join you." Brett agreed and they left the house. Gabe found Christina overseeing the loading of the truck. "Chris, Brett wants to go out to the island. We know that they were out there, so he wants to take a look at it." Just then they saw a couple of vans drive up with Kootenai County Coroner on their sides. "Gabe, you should take Chase, Robin, Rio and maybe Vanya, since he seems to want to go wherever Rio and Chase go. It would be best if we keep Chase and Robin out of sight for a while." Gabe nodded. "Where are they now?" Chris looked around. "Rio! Vanya!" The boys turned around from where they were helping load the truck. "Brett is going over to the island to look at the lab. Get Chase and Robin and go with them." The two of them grabbed their helmets and their rifles. "We'll meet you at the boat Gabe."

He and Brett followed the boys to the path leading down to the dock. They saw Rio and Vanya climbing into the boat that was moored there.

When they got on board, Chase and Robin looked out from inside the cabin of the boat. It was a thirty-foot cabin cruiser. Robin handed Brett the keys to the boat. "The dull lovers left the keys in it." Brett thanked him and started the engine once Rio and Vanya had untied it. It didn't take but a couple of minutes to get to the island. As they neared the island's dock, Rio jumped out and tied the boat as Brett cut the engine. Vanya threw him the stern line and he quickly tied that off as well.

They disembarked and with Chase and Robin in the lead they made their way to a small building. When they got to the door, they saw it appeared to have had the lock cut off. Chase held his hand up to stop them. "Wait here a moment. Let Robin and I check it out first." Gabe nodded and they waited as the two ferrets went through the door. A few minutes later they returned and waved for them to come in.

They followed them into the building. There was a small room with a kitchenette on one side of the room and a small table and chairs. There was a door that led farther into the building. They went through the open door and found a wide ramp going down. They followed it down until they came to a larger open room. The lights were on and they could see that the room looked like a research lab. However, Brett could see where equipment had once been located by the discoloration on the floor and on some of the workbenches. Apparently these men had removed most of the lab equipment that had been in place. He didn't know what had been in here, or what might be found among the boxes the men had tried to remove, but he wanted to find out.

He looked around and shook his head. "We may as well head back. Hopefully there's something in those boxes they were taking from here, that can give me a clue to what he was researching." They retraced their steps, turning off the lights as they made their way topside.

Outside he looked at the cut padlock. "I wish there was a way to lock this."

"Wait here Doctor Brett. I think there were some cabinets on the boat that had locks on them." Chase scampered to the boat and returned a couple of minutes later with a lock and the boat key chain. He handed it to Brett. "Thank you Chase. I think this will work fine." Chase grinned. Brett locked the door. "Okay, we can head back now."

They went aboard the boat, and once untied Brett backed it away and turned back to shore. Once they were tied up to the dock, they headed back up the trail to the house. Robin and Chase made their way around to the truck. They planned to get in the back and keep hidden from everyone.

Gabe and Brett saw the sergeant talking to an older man wearing a jacket with Coroner on the back of it. They walked over to join them. When they neared them, the older man looked at them. "Are these the people in charge?" Sergeant Briklin nodded. The older man turned to them. "Sergeant Briklin tells me that I shouldn't speak of anything that I see here? Other than the fact that nearly all of these men died of gunshot wounds, except for the two that look like they've been eviscerated. Who the hell am I supposed to make my report to?"

"Sir, Sergeant Briklin is correct. We must ask your extreme discretion concerning today's action. That is by order of Vice President Reynolds. In fact, there should be no official report filed with any agency at this time. We would prefer that you keep your report in your office, until we get a chance to pick it up from you. Hopefully someone will contact you in a few days about it. If you must file anything, say that they were an armed group of insurgents who were taken down by a Special Forces unit from President Bryce's military forces. Which is true from what we have found out." Gabe looked at Briklin. "I know that you need to file something as well, and I think that calling them an armed group of insurgents would be a good name for them in your report as well." He looked at the Coroner. "Sir, none of the men carry any kind of identification that we could find, but if you find any identifying marks, tattoos, etc., please note them in your report, so that when we pick up the report from you, it is something that we can follow up on. If anyone asks about the report, you can tell them you filed it with the Department of Justice. And Sergeant, please take these vehicles to your impound yard and do with them what you will. We've already searched them for anything useful. I leave it in your hands to arrange for their disposition."

Chris walked up to them about that time. "Doctor MacLeod, Colonel, we're ready to go. Did you find anything, sir?" Brett shook his head. "No, nothing. You're right, we should probably get back to base." He turned to the two men. "Sergeant, and I'm sorry, Doctor…?" He paused as he looked at the Coroner. "Lofton." Brett smiled. "Doctor Lofton. Thank you for your help and your discretion, but we need to get going. One more thing, if either of you need to contact me, please send an email to Someone will contact you as soon as possible."

They shook hands and Gabe and Brett walked away. "Brett, weren't you going to ask the sergeant about finding someone to contact about fixing the house?" Brett nodded. "I was, but then I thought that Sean can probably help me find someone in the area. We can call them on the way out of town and make arrangements." Gabe thought about it and agreed it would probably be a good idea.

Jim Peterson had already turned the truck around. Brett climbed into the cab with him, as Gabe made his way around to the back and helped George get Zechariah into the back of the truck. He was put onto the bench seats on one side of the truck, with George on one side and Gabe on the other. Jamie took a seat across from the prisoner. He took his orders to watch the prisoner seriously. Zechariah kept looking at the young teen across from him. He decided to watch out for any chance to escape and contact his superiors. They would want to know about these people. He was sure that these are the same people that they had been hearing about who had been causing problems for Ashwood and the Army of God in some little way. He suddenly felt that same pressure in his head from earlier. He realized that he had relaxed a little bit and once again buried his thoughts. He looked around carefully and saw a black haired teen with intense blue eyes looking at him. He met those eyes and then turned away, but not before he saw a faint smile on the boy's face.

Brett guided them to the property where Dragon was parked. Its current paint scheme was as a normal, US Army helicopter. They drove the truck and parked it next to Dragon. From the direction of the buildings they saw the homeowner walking toward them. Brett walked over to the man and held out his hand. "Sir, I want to thank you once again for allowing us to land here for a short time. We'll be on our way in a few minutes, but first I would like to give you something for your courtesy, if you will wait right here." The man was puzzled but agreed. Brett went inside Dragon and opened his suitcase. He counted out $5000 dollars and carried it back outside.

He handed the money to the homeowner. "Sir, this is for your courtesy and…your discretion. Please do not discuss anything about what you see about us with anyone outside your family. As far as you're concerned, we were not here." The man started to say something but stopped at the look Brett gave him and nodded instead as he looked at the team moving around. "I understand, but this is really not necessary." He tried to hand the money back, but Brett stopped him. "No sir. Thank you. I know with things up in the air right now, this may be of some help to you and your family. Use it how you wish." The man hesitated before agreeing with Brett. They shook hands and Brett turned to go back inside.

Gabe was waiting for him at the bottom of the ramp. "I'm having Jim and Patrick drive the truck back to Kettle Falls. We may find a use for it. Chris agreed, besides it will only take them a couple of hours to drive back. No sense leaving it behind and we don't have to take the time to unload it and then load everything in Dragon. That way we can get out of here sooner." Brett looked up as the truck started and the two men drove away waving to everyone. "I hadn't thought of that, but great idea. So are we ready to go?" Gabe nodded and they walked up the ramp. Rio smiled at them and hit the ramp door. "I was wondering if you'd ever stop talking. It's lunch time and there's a load of hungry kids in here." Gabe reached for him, but he ducked with a mischievous giggle. "Just remember kid; Age and Treachery will defeat Youth and Skill every time. I know where you sleep." Rio grinned at him and went over to put his assault rifle down so he could start removing his armor.

Gabe headed to the armory where George and Eric were already taking and stowing everyone's weapons away. He took his usual position of overseeing the armory. A few moments later there was a yell from the prisoner. "IN GOD'S NAME, WHAT SORT OF AN ABOMINATION IS THAT?" They looked over and saw that Chase had removed his helmet and was taking his armor off. When Chase finished removing his armor, he turned to the man while holding one of his swords as he stood in front of him. Zechariah was trying to push himself away from this unknown creature.

"I am not an abomination. I am Chase." The man's eyes widened. "God save me, it talks like a real person." Chase's eyes narrowed and his voice changed to its deeper, dangerous tone as he took a step toward Zechariah. "I am a real person and you are the dullest of dull lovers. I do not believe you have ever been shiny, except maybe when you were very little. I know you will never be shiny again." Chase looked between his sword and the man. Zechariah struggled a little but he was strapped into the seat and could only look at Chase with a little bit of fear of this monster before him. "My brother is correct."

Zechariah tore his gaze away from Chase and his eyes widened again as another monster walked into view. "God's mercy. There are two of them." Robin stared at him for a few moments. "Yes, brother. He is unredeemable. His dullness would darken any place." Robin looked at Christina. "Captain?" Christina looked at the two ferrets, whose fur was bristling, and shook her head. "I agree, but we need to talk to him about a few things first, then we will turn him over to the military. That is the way we must do things here, as you both know." Robin nodded and placed his hand on Chase's shoulder. Chase glanced at him and nodded. He looked at Zechariah and gave him a toothy grin. His voice had returned to his normal squeaky voice. "You call on God dull lover, but God only likes those who have shiny souls, not dull ones like yours."

The two ferrets walked away and Zechariah's gaze followed them as Chase finished what he had been doing and brought his armor and MP5 to the armory. He, Robin and Belinda sat together and talked quietly.

Zechariah looked around the cabin and was still surprised at how many of them were kids. The ages ranged from preteen up to older teenagers. There were only a few adult men among the group. He noticed that the older girl that they called Chris was the one who seemed to be in charge, not any of the adult men. Who were these people? He felt that pressure again and quickly looked around as he shut down his thoughts. The blue eyed kid, Ethan, he remembered the girl had called him, was looking at him again. He scowled and schooled his thoughts. The kid smiled before going back to what he was doing.

Up in the Command Center, Brett was sitting next to Sean. Chris had left Dakota in the copilot seat so that he could get more practice flying Dragon. "Sean, do a quick search in the area for general contractors." Sean had Dusty do a search and moments later a list was displayed on the main monitor. Brett looked at the list and pointed at one of them. "Call that one, Edwards Smith Construction." Moments later there was the sound of a phone ringing. A woman's voice came on.

"Edwards Smith Construction. This is Nadine, how may I help you?"

"Hello Nadine. My name is Brett MacLeod and I would like to speak to someone about a rush job that I need done at my property at the end of Land's End Road on the south shore of the lake near the entrance of Kid Island Bay."

"Just a moment sir. Let me see who is available." There was a pause for a few moments before she returned. "Mister MacLeod? Mister Edwards is available. I will transfer you."

"Thank you, Nadine." Moments later a man's voice came on. "This is Jim Edwards."

"Good afternoon Mister Edwards. My name is Brett MacLeod."

"Is this Doctor Brett MacLeod?"

"Um, yes it is, why?"

"Don't you remember Doc? We were the ones who did your remodeling and the construction on your property on the island."

"Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot that. I haven't been back here for some time."

"Not to worry. So what can I do for you today Doc, and call me Jim."

"Okay Jim. I'm really sorry that I forgot that you had done the earlier work. Maybe that's why I unconsciously decided to call you rather than another company. Well anyway, you know where my property is on Land's End Road. This morning some people broke into my home and I need someone to go out there and do some repair and make sure that the house is secure as soon as possible. Do you have a crew that could go out there right away and take care of that?"

"Give me a moment to check Doc." They could hear him typing on a computer. "It looks like I do have a small crew that could take care of that. What about the island?"

"Well since you did the original work. I would appreciate it if you can go out there and make sure it is secure as well. I would like a more substantial lock on the building than I have right now. They broke into that building as well."

"No problem. We can take care of that as well. I'll see to it personally Doc."

"Thank you very much Jim. I really appreciate it."

"Will you be at the property Doc?"

"No, I can't stay there in the condition it is in right now. You can contact me by email at I know the quality of your work, so you don't need to send me an estimate. Just do what is needed and send me your final bill. I will get the payment to you as soon as possible after you finish. That is unless you need any upfront payments. I can delay my travel plans and get you a payment if necessary."

"No, I trust you Doc. I will send my final bill to that email as you requested. I know you're good for the money."

"Thank you Jim. I will get your full payment to you as soon after I get the bill as I can."

"Sounds good Doc. I'll get that crew out there as soon as possible."

"Thank you Jim. I will be in contact soon."

"You're welcome Doc."

Sean cut the connection. "Well that takes care of that. Thanks Sean." He gave Sean's shoulder a squeeze and went back into the main cabin to sit with Jamie and Vanya. "How are you boys doing?" Jamie looked at him and smiled. "Fine Dad." Brett looked at Vanya. "And you son?" Vanya looked at him and gave him a little smile. "I'm okay sir." Brett nodded and put his arms around both boys. "I'm glad. And remember I told you to call me Brett, Ivan. I'm not a sir to you." Vanya nodded. "Sorry, si….Brett I forgot. You can call me Vanya, like the others do." Brett smiled at him. "Thank you. I'll remember that."

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