Castle Roland

Changing Connections

by Eric Aune

In Progress

Chapter 23

Published: 23 Mar 17

Changing Connections

Copyright © 2012 - 2017 by Eric Aune and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.
All Rights Reserved

Changing Connections LogoIan felt someone gently shaking him and blinked a couple of times before opening his eyes. When he was able to focus, he saw the face of Chang looking at him. "It is time to get up for the surgery." Ian nodded and pushed the covers off of himself. He looked around his room and then at Chang. "Hey how did you get in here?" Chang just cocked an eyebrow. "I'll wait for you in the mess hall." He got up and was out the door.

Ian's movement to get out of bed woke Logan who sat up as Ian gathered his things to go take a shower. He looked at the window and saw it was dark still. "Where are you going?" Ian went over to Logan's side. "It's time for Carson's surgery. I have to go get ready." Logan nodded. "Good luck. I'm going to go back to sleep." Ian smiled and leaned down for a kiss. "M'kay, see you when we finish up." Logan started to smile which turned into a yawn. "Sounds good, I'll see you when you finish." Logan lay back down and closed his eyes. Ian gathered up his things and left the room.

When he entered the shower room, he heard that the water in one of the showers was running. Ian wondered who else was up at this time of the morning as he brushed his teeth. He heard the shower shut off. When he finished brushing his teeth he saw in the mirror the shower door open and Jamie step out. "Oh, morning Ian. I thought I heard someone else in here. Chang got you up too?" Ian nodded as he spit into the sink. "Yeah, I'm supposed to meet him in the mess hall." Jamie nodded. "Me too. See you at breakfast." Ian nodded as he went to take his shower.

A short time later Ian walked into the mess hall and saw Jamie carrying a tray of food over to the table where Chang was already eating. "Good morning." Chang looked up. "Make sure you get plenty of food, even more than you might normally eat. You are going to be burning a lot of energy today." Ian nodded as he went to where one of the kitchen workers was filling a tray for him. He thanked the man and joined the two others at the table. They said little as they ate. Each thinking about what was to come. When they finished, Chang led them from the mess hall. He told them that he would meet them downstairs.

When Ian and Jamie got to the ground floor they saw Ian's mom talking to Doctor Ziegler. He went over and gave her a hug. "Morning Mom." She smiled. "Hi honey. Morning Jamie. You boys ready for this?" They nodded. The elevator opened and Chang walked out carrying a locked cooler. Ian looked at the cooler. "What's that?"

"Genesis blood, just in case we need it." The two boys nodded. They had seen the effect of a non-Genesis person getting Genesis blood. After Brett had been wounded at George Air Force Base, he had been given a few pints of that blood. The damage to his knee that had given him his permanent limp was pretty much gone now. He rarely limped when he walked anymore. Moments later Janet joined them. "We all ready?" They all nodded and Janet led the way outside into the dark morning and climbed into an SUV for the drive to the hospital for the six am start of the surgery.

When they got to the floor where the surgery department was located, they split up to get changed. In the changing room, Chang grabbed some scrubs for them and made sure they were properly dressed. He then had them follow him and taught them how to scrub their hands and arms properly before they entered the operating room. Inside they each had a nurse help them get gowned and gloved. Everything was new to them. Up until now they had just jumped in and started working on a wounded person. Never bothering with cleaning up or dressing properly, they just got to work. Usually by the time they finished helping someone, their hands, lower arms and other parts of their uniforms were blood speckled. This whole process of scrubbing up first was just not what they were used to.

They both noticed how everyone kept saying 'the patient' instead of using Carson's name. Jamie asked about that while they were getting ready and Ian explained clinical detachment to him so he would understand why they did it. Once inside the room and gowned, gloved and masked, they took their places. Chang with Janet, Jamie with Doctor Ziegler and Ian standing nearby.

Janet began giving them instructions on the course of the surgery. She pointed out where they would be cutting into his legs for removal. The lines she had drawn were pretty high up his legs, very near to his hips and groin. Besides the nurses that they had met the day before, she pointed out the UNIT medics that were assisting for the operation and explained that beyond getting more supplies as they were needed, wiping their brows or helping them sip water as they worked, they were also tasked with keeping Chang, Jamie and Ian's energy at high levels with special high calorie drinks so that they would not flag during the long surgery ahead of them.

She looked at each of them for a moment after everything was explained to them. "Are there any questions?" She looked at Doctor Murten and then nodded to the rest of the team. "Then let's begin." In the background, music began to play.

She and Doctor Ziegler moved forward and after a quick nod to each other they began cutting into Carson's leg. "Jamie and Chang, normally we would cauterize the blood vessels as we cut them to stop the bleeding, but since we will need them ready to be reconnected once the cloned legs are in place, we can't do that here, so you will need to use your TK abilities to block off the blood vessels to keep the bleeding to a minimum and keep them ready for reconnection." Both boys nodded and placed their hands on Carson's pelvis above the line where the two doctors were doing their cutting.

They watched as the surgery continued. As the scalpels went deeper and more blood vessels were cut, they were able to stop the bleeding relatively quickly. It became harder to do and required more energy as more vessels were cut. The UNIT medics kept close tabs on the two boys. They watched for signs of fatigue and came forward with the drinks. They stood near each boy and held the drink for them until the drink was finished and their energy was restored. The boys nodded their thanks and brought their whole focus back on their work.

Finally, the two doctors called for the bone saw and cut through Carson's femurs. The badly damaged legs were removed to a table at the side of the room. The UNIT medics brought the equipment that held the two cloned legs forward. The new legs were removed and placed in position to be attached to the boy's hips. What a difference they were compared to the misshapen legs that had been removed. They looked the way Carson's legs should have been.

Janet looked at Ian. "Okay Ian, I'll need you to be ready to start reattaching everything. Start with the nerves first and then move to the vessels, the femur and finally close the soft tissue. Once we've aligned the bone, Doctor Ziegler and I will start putting stitches on the subsurface and surface tissue while you do your work deep inside. Jamie and Chang, I need to add a bit more to your burden. Once I align the bones, I need you to hold the cloned legs in place as Ian works. Also be ready to release your hold on the blood vessels as Ian connects them." She looked at their tired faces and called the medics over to administer more of the high calorie drink. Once she could see their eyes above their masks brighten with new energy she nodded. "Okay get ready everyone. This is the critical stage."

She looked at the three boys and then with a nod to Doctor Ziegler. "Go." The two legs were moved into place and the two doctors adjusted their positioning until they were satisfied. "Okay boys, hold them in place. Ian, it's your turn." She glanced over to the two medics. "Keep the drinks nearby and ready. The boys are going to be expending large amounts of energy and we need to keep them from crashing." The medics nodded. "Yes Mom." She smiled at them behind the mask and turned her attention to the work in process.

Ian stood with a hand on each of the legs while the two other boys kept their hands in position. The three boys barely moved for the next three hours. Janet and Sabrina finished closing the incision lines. She and Sabrina stepped back to watch to boys work on Carson.

Most of the Red Dragons woke up early as well, because they were still on Bermuda time. There was no rush for them to get up yet, not like Adam's team which was supposed to have left for Maine already. They planned to leave after Carson's surgery so that Ian and Jamie could go with them. The surgery was supposed to be about six hours long. That meant that they would leave between noon and one. No one expected them on the USS Reagan until the early evening at best. However that wasn't the same for everyone.

A few members of the team got up soon after Ian and Jamie left for the hospital. Josh and Logan couldn't get back to sleep, so they decided that they may as well get up. Eve was another of the members that woke up because she was feeling the sensation of pins and needles in her legs, like they had gone to sleep and were starting to wake up. Maybe the pico bot injection that she had been given a few weeks ago was starting to help her heal and give some feeling back into her legs. Right now though, it sucked because she couldn't get back to sleep. Her groaning woke Apollo up. She told him what was going on and he tried some massage to help lessen the sensation. There was no chance to get any more sleep, so they decided to clean up and get dressed.

It was before five by the time they got to the dining hall. Eve and Apollo ate quickly because she told him that she wanted to go to the command center and look at the set up and see if there was anything that they could do to make the C3 in Dragon work more efficiently. Besides Adam had mentioned that he thought he would be able to use her command training, especially when he was in the field. Today was as good a day as any to get a look at the base command center.

The boys had planned to spend the morning with their parents. The rest of the Red Dragons would make sure Dragon was ready to go and mostly relax before they needed to leave. The original plan had been for the entire team to have Thanksgiving with the families, but unfortunately that fell through when the need to fly to Maine came up. So the team stayed at the base, while the boys headed over to their families' homes. They borrowed a couple of the Gators and drove over to the houses that had been set aside for their families.

The boys' parents had breakfast set up for them when they arrived. They exchanged news about what they had been doing for the last several days. They all enjoyed the chance to reconnect with their families. Even though it had only been a few days since they had last seen each other, the boys had all been so busy that it seemed like it had been a lot longer. Their younger brothers hung on every word they said. After eating, the younger boys coaxed their brothers into going outside and play some football.

It didn't take Apollo and Eve very long to find the command center. When they entered the room they looked around at the setup. There were several communications stations. A couple of them were manned by UNIT members, with the others empty since there was no real need for every station to be manned right now. There were a several large monitors on one wall, that displayed information about what was going on in the country. One station was set apart from the other stations. It appeared to be the command position. Sitting there was Logan, who was currently rubbing his legs and grimacing. She pointed at Logan's desk and Apollo wheeled her over to the station. He looked up and gave her the best smile that he could. "Hey Eve, Apollo. You know I'm getting really fucking tired of this shit. They're hurting all…" He looked at Eve and turned a little red. "Sorry Eve. I wasn't thinking." She shrugged. "Don't worry about it. Besides Adam says these Scireians may be able to get me back on my feet soon. Since we have some downtime before we leave for Maine, I thought I'd come in and take a look at everything."

Logan nodded and sat back up. "Sounds good. I'll give you a little tour. This is the command chair. From here you can pull up anything from the other workstations and we can route information from one place to another. There was a flash on the screen and Daisy appeared. "Good morning, Eve." It surprised Eve a little when she appeared since it was unexpected. She looked directly at the screen. "Good Morning Daisy."

"I do not have you listed as being on duty this morning. Has there been a change in duty assignments?" Eve was a little confused. "Um, no, I just had some downtime before our team heads to Maine, and I thought I'd see how the command center was set up. Logan was just starting to explain a few things when you dropped in." Daisy seemed to look at Logan. "Oh, good morning Logan." Logan chuckled a little. "Morning Daisy."

Daisy looked back toward Eve. "Okay. I just wanted to make sure my records were up to date. Is there anything you would like me to show you?" Eve shook her head. "No thank you Daisy. We'll just talk with Logan."

"Cool, um, that is the correct thing to say?" Eve nodded. "That's just fine." Daisy smiled and disappeared from the screen. Eve looked at the screen and then at Logan who shrugged and grinned before he continued with the orientation to the workstation.

Logan explained everything about what could be done from the desk. They had been there almost an hour when one of the communication tech called out. "Logan, you need to hear this." He flipped a switch and a voice came over the speakers.

"We're pinned down in enemy territory, and need immediate assistance. I repeat this is Special Agent Thomas Billings…" A moment later they heard Adam's voice. "This is Angel Flight Actual, attached to the USS Ronald Reagan, Task Force Neptune. What is your location?"

Eve looked at Logan. He grabbed a headset and put it on. He also opened a drawer in the desk and pointed inside. Eve looked down and saw that there were more headsets and grabbed one herself. "Sergeant, can you locate where those signals are coming from?" The teen sitting there looked over his shoulder and nodded. "Yes sir. Daisy can you find their locations?" Daisy's face appeared and she nodded. "Working on it. Triangulating by using some Canadian drones that are in the area for some reason."

"Angel. I cannot give our coordinates as this is an open frequency, what is your location and I'll guide you in."

They heard Billy come over the radio. "This is Angel 1. We're currently sixty miles west southwest of Columbus, Ohio."

"Got 'em." Daisy stated triumphantly. On one of the monitors the location of Angel 1 appeared. "They are still under stealth."

"What about this Billings person?" They could see Daisy on the commander's desk monitor, look like she was searching for something. "I should get it with the next transmission from them."

"We're approximately ninety-five miles to your southeast."

"Okay, got their location noted. Putting the info up on the screens." On the screen a location was pegged with Billings as the name. "Billings we are sixteen out." Adam's was heard again.

"Roger Angel. Be advised there are multiple hostile aircraft in the area."

"Copy that." Eve watched as the large screens changed. One had an overall view that showed the location of Angel Flight and Billings with the locations of the nearby cities and towns in Ohio. One was a close up of Angel Flight's location. A third monitor showed a close up of the area around the Billings' location and they could see several helicopters tagged in red, nearby.

"Slow movement of the targets suggests helicopters doing a grid search, Logan. I have tagged them Bogey 1 through 6." Logan glanced at Daisy's face on one of her screens and nodded. "Thank you Daisy." Logan, Eve and Apollo all looked at the information on the command screen and the monitors on the wall. They all listened to the chatter as Angel's Flight arranged to take on the enemy helicopters.

A new voice came over the radio. "Angel Flight. This is Royal Canadian Air Force Drone Excalibur. I have your target area in my sight, would you like some assistance?"

"Roger that Excalibur." Will sounded happy for the help. "Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Any chance you can route your picture to our command center in Kettle Falls?"

"It'll take a few minutes, but we can do that."

"Hah! Slackers, I've had their feed for a while now." They smiled at Daisy's smug look. "Good job Daisy." Daisy made a bow. "At your service." They saw Daisy's eyes narrow. "Logan, there are hostile ground forces in the area as well, moving up to the Billings location." The three looked at the monitors as Daisy added the information to the monitors.

Logan keyed his mic. "Adam. We're getting the feed from the Canadian bird now. That area is crawling with hostiles."

"Copy that." The command center watched the information coming across their monitors. They listened as Will coordinated the attack on the enemy helicopters. Logan glanced at Eve and then pushed his chair back from the desk and stood up. "You have command Eve. You've got the tactical training that I don't have." Eve glanced at him for a moment and then nodded and moved her wheelchair so it was centered at the desk and looked over the monitors.

They listened to the initial attack as Will gave the order to drop stealth and attack. As expected there was complete surprise of the enemy forces and they broke up from the search formation as the UNIT attacked them.

Eve keyed her mic. "Angel Flight. This is Angel Command. We've located the target and sending Angel 1 the coordinates. I recommend you drop in half a click behind, and move up on foot." There was a pause on the other end before Adam's voice came back. "Affirmative Angel Command. You have C and C."

"Roger. Angel Command has control. Angels 2 and 5 have dropped three of the enemy. You're clear to begin your drop Angel 1." Billy's voice came from the speakers. "Roger that."

The command center listened to the battle. "Eve, the ground forces have neared the Billings location and are attacking." Eve nodded. "Thanks Daisy." She keyed her mic. "Actual. Friendlies are taking fire from nearby ground troops, half a click to your northeast." Adam answered immediately. "Roger that."

The command center staff saw the last of the enemy helos disappear from the feed. "Air's clear." Will reported. Daisy's voice alerted Eve. "Eve, heavy armor coming in from the south." Eve nodded. "Actual, you have a line of heavy armor coming in from the south. Recommend you evac ASAP. LZ is two and a half clicks to your direct north."

They heard Runt's gleeful voice. "We got the armor!" A moment later several of the armored vehicles disappeared from the view. A few minutes later they heard Will call over the radio. "Adam get your head down." A line of explosions appeared on the feed to the monitors. "GOD I LOVE THE HELLFIRE!" Will yelled over the radio ringing off the walls of the room.

When Eve saw the enemy had been slammed she keyed her mic. "Angel! You're clear! Get the hell outta there!"

"Angel 1 on the ground." A few moments later they heard Billy again. "Engaging stealth! Angel Flight is clear!"

They watched as the UNIT helos disappeared from sight as they engaged their stealth packages. The Canadians contacted UNIT command center. "This is Excalibur, Angel Command. Enemy forces broken up. Survivors retreating. No sign of friendlies. Request sitrep."

"Friendlies safe, Excalibur. Thank you for the assist. Angel Command out."

"Glad to help Angel Command. Excalibur out." At the drone base, a couple of them looked at each other. "Did you see what happened to the friendlies? They were there and then they weren't. Their command said they're safe, so I guess they are but that was a bit freaky. They appeared out of nowhere and then they disappeared without a trace." The others in the drone control room shrugged and went back to watching their feeds.

Eve switched to the UNIT only frequency. "This is Angel Command, report." A few moments later Billy called back. "Heading to Maine at all speed. Multiple casualties, civilians and UNIT."

"Understood. Angel Command out." Eve took her headset off and looked at Logan. "We need to get Dragon headed out there as soon as possible. If there are UNIT casualties, they may need another team to help provide security. Red Dragons were supposed to head out there in a couple of hours anyway. No reason they can't get going now. It will get them there all the sooner." Logan quickly nodded his agreement. Eve turned to Apollo. "Apollo, let Chris know what happened and get going. We need the Red Dragons out there as soon as they can get there."

"I'll be back as soon as…" Eve shook her head. "No, they may need another pilot, you need to go with them. Tell them to get there as fast as they can. I'll stay here at Angel Command." He nodded. "Will do." He walked over and gave her a quick kiss before leaving. "See ya when I get back." He trotted out the door. Logan had moved over to one of the communication techs. "Contact the hospital and let Mom know what happened. I'll be over there as soon as I can to explain." He looked at Eve. "I have something I need to do, then I'm going to the hospital. You have command." Eve nodded and put the headset on as she looked at her monitors. "Daisy give me a BDA." There was a pause and Daisy appeared on the screen. "Battle Damage Assessment is as follows…."

Apollo ran to the landing field where Christina and Gabe were talking to Mac. "Chris!" She and Gabe turned to see who was calling them. "The command team had to make a hot rescue in Ohio. There were multiple casualties. Eve says that we need to head to Maine ASAP to help provide security."

"Damn." She looked at Mac. "Mac how long before you'll be finished?"

"I can finish up and have you ready to go in an hour." Chris nodded and let out a piercing whistle. "Alright everybody. Slight change of plans. There has been a fight and Adam needs us in Maine as soon as we can get there. They have sustained casualties and will need us to be there as soon as possible." Several people started asking questions. "SILENCE!" She looked at Gabe gratefully. "I don't know the whole story yet, but we need to go, as soon as Mac finishes up with his repairs. I need someone to take Tim and Sara to the family and get the rest of the team." Gabe nodded.

"I want to go too." Christina looked at Tim who was standing there scowling defiantly. "Not yet. You don't have the training yet and I don't have any armor for you. Until then, you cannot go." He glared back at her and then dropped his eyes. "Okay." She pulled him to her and hugged him. "You'll get your chance, but just not yet. You need to take care of your little sister until we get back. Got it?" He nodded. "Okay, go with Gabe and he'll drop you off." She turned back the rest of the team. "Let's load up, as soon as the others are here, we'll leave." She looked at Apollo. "Are you going with us?" He nodded his head. "Yes. Eve said I needed to go in case you need another pilot." She clapped him on the back as they walked up the ramp. "Tell me what you know." Apollo brought her up to speed on what happened as they entered the helicopter.

When he got to the houses, Gabe saw the boys throwing a football around nearby and headed toward them. Logan was already looking in his direction as he slowed down. "Something happened sir." Gabe noticed it was a statement, not a question and nodded. "Yep, we need to leave right away. The command team was in a fight while rescuing some people and we need to head to Maine to give them back up now instead of later. Apparently there are some casualties too."

"What about Ian and Jamie?"

"I don't know. We'll check when we get back. We need to get moving now. The team is waiting for us." The boys nodded and ran to their homes. Gabe parked in front of one of the houses and got out. He followed the boys inside, with Tim and Sara behind him. Inside the boys' parents were sitting around and talking. He spied Brett and walked over to him. "Brett, Red Dragons have orders to head out right away. There's been a fight with Adam's team during a rescue, casualties are reported." Brett nodded as he stood up. "Okay let's go." He looked at his friends. "Sorry we have to cut this short, but duty calls, as they say." Gabe turned Tim and Sara over to the boys' parents as Brett, Eric and the boys headed back outside. They all clambered onto the Gator Gabe had with him. It was tight and some were sitting in laps or hanging on as Gabe drove back to the base.

Soon after the boys left for the base, the phone rang at the house. Wyatt answered it and listened for a few moments before saying goodbye. "That was Logan, not our Logan. Adam's Logan. I guess some of us have our orders as well. Claire, Stephanie, he asked the three of us to join him and the Vice President when the parents of some of those kids who were down in Texas arrive. He would like us to help them get settled in. They don't want to overwhelm them with all of us at once, so they want just us three to meet them at the field. We can bring them back here so they can meet the rest of the family." The two ladies got up and grabbed their coats.

The three made their way over to the landing field where they joined Logan, the Chipmunks and Daileass. They saw the Vice President, Mike Reynolds and his family coming over to join them just before the helicopters with the parents touched down. The group waited as the passengers were helped down from the helicopters. Logan kept up a running commentary as each person disembarked to tell them who each person was and a little of what had happened to them. Some of them had been hurt and they had unfortunately suffered losses. The parents had been asked to be there not only to take them back to their new homes, but also to share the similar experiences that they had gone through. It was hoped that talking to the boys' parents, would help them cope in the new world that their boys had now joined. A time when even their boys would have to do what was necessary to help bring down Ashwood's regime, even if it was something that the parents would never want their boys to have to do.

The Vice President greeted the group when they came over. When he had first joined them, he had talked about this being a bit of a dog and pony show. It was all in a good cause. He needed to get the parents used to the idea that their boys were now part of everything going on and an essential part at that. Once he finished talking to each of the adults he turned them over to his husband Eric and the other adults. Their boys were asked to go to a debriefing so that he and General Adams could get an idea of what the situation was in the Gulf. He assured them the boys would soon join them after the meeting.

Once Mike left with the boys for the debriefing, the adults looked at Eric wondering what was next. He and the other three adults escorted them to the Gators that would take them to where they would be staying. Sammy, Eric and Mike's son, was able to get the adults to let their kids go with him and his brothers to play. Before he got in, Wyatt told Sammy that they would send their kids over to join them.

Eric hopped out as the Gators pulled to a stop in front of a row of houses. As he did, a twelve-year-old girl with blonde hair and a boy of about the same age, came out of the nearest home.

The boy looked into the back before turning to Eric with a confused expression.

"No bags, Aaron," Eric stated. "They were pulled out with what they have on."

Seeing the girl look over for instructions, Eric pointed in the direction of a small supply building. "See if you can round up some basics for them. You know toothbrushes, hygiene kits, and the like. I'll get you sizes so we can get them footwear and clothing later." As the two started to turn to go, Eric cleared his throat getting the attention of both. "Ana, Aaron, there are four kids as well. They took off to play with Sammy. Find them, make sure they have coats and the like, and are fully taken care of. You can get back with me on these fine people a bit later."

"Adult stuff, got it," Aaron nodded as he motioned for Ana to join him.

Eric smiled warmly at both. "Lighten up and have some fun while you're at it!"

Mr. Olivarez shot Eric a questioning glance.

Eric motioned for everyone to follow him into the home the kids had come out of while speaking, "Both Ana and Aaron are orphans rescued from elsewhere. They're great kids, but try a little too hard to please, like they feel they need to be helpful all the time. There are a couple of others as well. I am sure you will get to know them in short order.

"The nice thing about all four is they really do want to help out around here, so don't feel bad about asking them for whatever needs you may have as you get settled in. I am sure you will get to know them better in no time at all."

"But they…" Mrs. Stoughtenger started then stopped while shaking her head. "How many others…"

"At this point, in the US alone…" Eric sighed, "Thousands, hundreds of thousands, a few million kids are trying to survive with little to no adult help. I have heard all those numbers, but everything is a guess at this point."

Mrs. Shelly looked off in the direction she had seen Tyler go, "And it is really safe here?"

"As safe as anyplace can be, ma'am," Eric responded. "This is a base of operations for us as well as a refugee camp. We have zero intention of letting anything bad happen to Kettle Falls or anyone here. Security is tight and we have a few special surprises lined up should Ashwood or any of his supporters find out about this place. Don't worry. Even as he plays, Tyler has eyes on him. Any family member of the science contest winners is way up on the VIP list around here."

Seeing both Mrs Stoughtenger and Mrs. Grider exchange glances Eric gestured toward the front door, "The same can be said for friends of the science contest winners and their families."

The group entered the home even as Mr. Olivarez looked over with befuddlement, "So Glenn and the others, they really are known by you, the Vice President, and the President? As in really known?"

Wyatt walked over to Jose and held out his hand. "Known by way more than just the guys at the top. Your boys are beyond something special. My name's Wyatt Blackhawk, by the way. Welcome to Kettle Falls."

Wyatt helped usher the group in and motioned to the couches, he pointed to Claire and Stephanie. "These are two of my friends, Claire and Stephanie. Stephanie is a psychologist. She's been a lot of help to everyone here. Claire is a biologist. Myself I'm a sports medicine doc, at least I was before everything happened to bring us here. All of us are here to do our part to help with whatever is needed." Claire nodded as she went into the kitchen.

Stephanie walked over to them and quickly shook hands with each, getting their names. She then took a step back, "I do what I can, but it's not something I can do alone. Hell, a fleet of us wouldn't be enough. I am really just a guide and a person to come to if you need help or you need some ideas on how to handle your kids or others you may have to, to try to help while you are here. Between fighting, missing family, and orphans, we have lots of mental health issues here."

Claire came out of the kitchen with a large tray that had been prepared for them, "Feel free to grab some snacks and unwind. There's coffee and water as well. From what we've heard, you have had quite a rough couple of days."

Mr. Grider let out a frustrated snort, "I would say you have no clue, but it sure seems like you have way more of one than we do. Can someone tell me… tell us, what the hell is going on?"

Claire moved over to a table and poured the man a cup of coffee and handed it to him while Stephanie responded, "You probably know as much, if not more, than we do after being with some of the science contest winners."

Jose Olivarez shook his head. "Pretty sure most of us here shut down somewhere between getting pulled out of where we were trying to hide by some sort of super assault team and my son and the others tearing into a group of mutineers aboard the ship we were taken to."

Seeing others nod, Jose forced a tight smile. "And let me tell you all, it sure as hell didn't help when right after, even as things were getting cleaned up, my boy and the others started getting shuttled around on military aircraft to other ships, being escorted like they were all the most important people in existence. They have been so busy doing stuff for the Navy, we've hardly seen them!"

Stephanie kept her voice calm, "While you may be overstating things just a bit, and with good reason, you really aren't as far off as you may wish to believe."

"So Glenn helped out a little…"

"No sir," Wyatt stated emphatically. "A little bit is what we're doing here in Kettle Falls. Your son and the others found out what Ashwood was up to, got the word out in time, and got enough help to allow President Bryce to win an election Ashwood and those backing him had no intention of losing."

"OK, so the little shits hacked some computers." Macy stated with a roll of his eyes. "But I know Glenn. He's smart but innocent…"

"Very possibly he was," Claire spoke up. "But where he was and what he has become is nowhere close to the same. Without Glenn and the others, Texas would have fallen in the chemical attack. Instead they saved the vast majority of the Texas government, including Governor Hendrickson, and survived when untold thousands didn't."

Jose put up a hand to stop the conversation, "Wait, I heard something about that and it still shocks me. The more I hear about what he has been doing since he went to Texas, the more I wish had not allowed him to go. He should have stayed out of it. Why do I keep hearing of these things from strangers instead of from him."

Stephanie interrupted, "Because he, along with those with him, don't really want you to know just how much they have been through and done. Part of their brains don't even want to admit it to themselves. Like it or not, they are trying to protect you, insulate you, from horrors you don't know about but they were instrumental in helping to deal with."

Jose's eyes narrowed, "It is my job, as a father, to protect him! Not the other way around!"

"You're not going to get any argument from us three," Wyatt jumped back in. "But you need to understand something. They haven't seen it like you have. None of those boys wants to put you through what they went through in that gas attack on Austin. They really don't want you to know how they helped direct flights out of the airport even as the missiles came in, or how they gave emergency instructions and set off sirens to save lives above the ground, even as they struggled to make the bunker they were in, secure for a good ninety percent or more of the Texas government. Nor do they really want to tell you how they searched for one of their group who stayed above ground to help seal the door from the outside. This would mean they would have to talk to you about seeing thousands of people die on the cameras they had hacked into."

Wyatt continued as he saw nothing but wide eyes staring at him. "All of you have got to understand it didn't stop there. For at the same time other mass casualty attacks started to happen in other places. And you know what, Glenn, Keith and all the other boys were right there, remotely, yet still on the front lines. They helped deal with the dirty bomb attack in Oklahoma, the blister agent attack in Colorado, the massive bomb that destroyed the center of Kansas City… Not to mention the earthquakes in California…"

Stephanie took over, "Keith, Glenn and all the others with them… you have to understand they all saw and heard emergency messages of those wounded and dying. They got with President Bryce and in many cases took the lead on scientific data such as safest evacuation routes based on wind, temperatures and other things. I can tell you I heard an audio of Keith helping to direct aircraft out of Austin. I also heard them get told the missiles were hitting…"

"Oh, come on!" Mrs. Shelly finally found her voice, "My little Keith is eleven years old! He couldn't have…" Her voice drifted off as she realized the four adults were all staring at her with eyes saying she really had no clue what she was talking about.

"We'll get you the audio," Claire stated, "but if you decide to listen realize however bad it sounds to you, it was worse for them at the time. Now it's over, there is nothing you can do. At that time, when they were living it, they were struggling to save lives, and when you hear the full audio you will realize each and every one of them felt guilty for not being able to save more people."

Stephanie decided to put it in a more clinical light. "What they have done, what they have experienced, is still being processed by them. While I have yet to talk to any of them, my guess is most of them probably feel the only ones who really understand are those who were with them. At some point they will talk, and when they do, you need to be there for them. Until then, you can poke and try to prod, but if you pry too much, they very well may shut down on you. Keep in mind, each and every one of them has shot and killed other human beings at this point. They did it because they had to, to protect others in their group, and that makes the bond they have with each other as strong as any family, but they also still have guilt and part of them can't help but be repulsed at taking a human life no matter how justified or necessary it was. This is a conflict we will need to help them resolve at some point. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later, but this is far from over and they have very important roles still to play."

Brenda Shelly had to fight back tears, "Not over!?! Not over!?! How can it not be over for him!?! Hasn't Keith done enough? He shouldn't even be allowed to shoot a gun without someone right behind him, let alone… I mean I heard he threw a grenade and he fought adults with guns right in front of my eyes. This needs to stop!"

Claire moved over to Brenda, sat and put an arm around her, "You're right. It does. But when that happens is really out of our control. The sooner we win this war, the sooner it can be over. The end of the war is what will make it over."

"Claire is right." Eric finally spoke up again. "It needs to stop. However, for that to happen, we need the help of all the boys, including Keith and Glenn. For like it or not, we can't bury our heads in the sand. The nine boys Fredric Triumph found know more about the whole situation and how to combat it than ninety-nine point nine percent of the world's population, and I'm probably understating it."

Jose stood, grabbed some food off the tray, and panned the room with his eyes. "Well, I'll be damned if my boy is going to do it without me! So fill us in, give us the rundown and let me know what I can do to help."

Wyatt motioned for Jose to sit. "The most important thing right now for all of you to do is to relax at least for a few days. From what I hear, you need some time recovering from the injuries you received. So take some time to wind down. Your boys are safe here and you have a family to settle in. You can ask us some questions and we'll do what we can to help you get you settled. Later after you've had a chance to rest, you're invited to have Thanksgiving dinner with our families. Your boys should be able to join us by that time." He gave all of them a friendly smile.

Eric started. "I know you all have many questions and concerns. I know that you are uneasy about your sons' involvement in what has become a Civil War. I want you to know, Mike and I and President Bryce all understand completely about what you are feeling." He looked over at Brenda Shelly. "Missus Shelly, I know you were a little surprised to hear about what your boys have done. I do want to reiterate what Mike said about your boys. They have been of great help to the country. Mike was right about what he said that if it hadn't of been for what they did in getting the information about what Ashwood was really doing, we would be behind enemy lines. In fact, there would be no country as we know it. A country based on the principles that our founding fathers fought and died for nearly 250 years ago. Ashwood's plan was to make himself a dictator and anyone who did not support him were to be imprisoned and probably killed. He would have been as bad or worse than Hiller was in the 1930's and 40's. Because of your boys, we were able to uncover evidence of his plan to subjugate this county under his leadership. So yes Missus Shelly, your boys did not exaggerate, in fact they probably downplayed it so that you would not worry."

He looked at the Olivarez's. "Mister and Missus Olivarez. I cannot begin to tell you how sorry Mike and I are for your loss. We nearly lost our son Sammy when the man-made earthquake hit California." Jose looked up when Eric said that. "Wait, what do you mean by man-made earthquake?"

"We have been able to determine that the earthquake that damaged much of California was more than likely caused by at least one underground nuclear explosion, and possibly more. It was also under Ashwood's orders that federal agents were to gather the school age children of Breckenridge, Texas, and he gave the orders that those same children were to be gunned down without mercy by the federal agents. Your boys found the proof that it was all done because of Ashwood's orders. He pardoned violent prisoners, armed them and gave them free reign to do as they wished throughout the country, so as to sow confusion and create anarchy. He, of course, gave the orders to capture and/or kill all of you. He has targeted your boys for retribution because they have thwarted his will and kept him from becoming the dictator he wanted to be."

He pointed to the Wyatt and his friends. "One of the reasons I have asked them to meet with you is because they originally felt the same way you do now. They have lost family members to Ashwood's plans and their boys have been part of this almost since the beginning of the fight. Like your boys, they have been extremely helpful to the country."

"But they're just little boys. Little boys should not even be carrying guns. That is so wrong." Eric was about to say something, but Stephanie Badger spoke up. "Missus Shelly, or may I call you Brenda?" Brenda nodded. Stephanie thanked her. "Brenda, let me say that I felt the same as you, actually, I still do feel that way at times. I'm a child and family psychologist and when we arrived here…" She noticed Eric shaking his head. She nodded before continuing.

"What I meant to say was we were in California when the quake hit. We had just barely dug ourselves out of the rubble of the place that we were visiting, when we were attacked by soldiers and some of those released prisoners. They were ordered to attack us because we were close friends with a friend of President Bryce, Doctor Brett MacLeod. Ashwood wanted him and anyone with him killed. That included all of us and our boys. Our boys had no choice but to fight back then and unfortunately in my mind, they were good at it because of training that they had. How they got that training is another story, but suffice it to say that without them, we probably would all have been killed. We lost family and friends in that attack. Including two of our younger boys who were killed because of Ashwood's orders to attack us."

"But still boys should not be carrying guns or fighting in a war."

"Under normal conditions, I would agree with you Brenda, and it has been very difficult for me to come to terms with it myself, but at this time what they are doing has become vital to the nation and if we pulled them out, where would we go to be safe. We think that Ashwood's administration doesn't really know who our boys are, but we know that he is doing everything he can to find out who they are and capture or kill them. Unfortunately for your boys, he knows exactly who they are, which is why you were targeted. There is no truly safe place that you can go to keep them out of harm's way anymore. They have made themselves important to President Bryce by the actions that they have already accomplished, and they have been targeted by Ashwood."

Stephanie looked at the parents. "I, well all of us, wish that we could pull our boys out of this war and go back to a normal life, but that is no longer possible until this is all over. We are very proud of our boys and what they've done, even though we cringe and worry every time they leave on a mission. We let our boys know that we support them completely and I think that because of that, they are better at what they do. They know that no matter what they do, we are always here for them and proud of what they do."

No one said anything for a few moments as they digested what Stephanie said. Eric stood up. "I'm sorry everyone but I must return home. I hope you will give some thought to what has been said here. The country does need your boys. They have already shown what they can do and we need their knowledge and abilities. I truly hope that you will let them continue to serve their country as they already have. Please let them know that you are proud of them. I think that will do so much for them. It will let them know that you care for them and are not disappointed or angry with them. I think they will get a lot of comfort from that. If you have anything you wish to ask me or Mike, don't hesitate to ask. We will do what we can to answer your questions."

He shook hands with each of the parents there and Wyatt walked him out. Eric paused a moment "Thank everyone for me, will you." Wyatt nodded. "Of course. We'll be having them for Thanksgiving and if they have any further questions we'll do what we can to answer them. I noticed how you stopped Steph from saying anything about where we came from, so I assume we are supposed to keep certain things about the UNIT boys from them." Eric nodded. "Yeah, we are keeping some things from them for now. I think they will learn about things soon enough, but for now, no talk about alternate universes or genetic augments or even much about your boys' powers if possible. Eventually we'll probably bring them into the fold, but for now, let's stay away from that sort of thing." They shook hands. "I'll go to where the kids are and send them home. I'll remind Mike to let the other boys finish up the briefing so that they can spend Thanksgiving here with their families." Wyatt closed the door and went back into the living room to join the others. As he entered the room, Bethony asked about their kids and Wyatt told them that Eric was going to send them back home. She thanked him.

In the operating room, Sabrina and Janet were standing back and watching the three boys work on attaching Carson's new legs. Someone entered the room and handed a note to one of the UNIT members who were handling the drinks to keep the boys' energy levels high while they worked. He walked over to Janet. "Doctor." Janet looked around and the teen unfolded the note. She saw it was in Logan's handwriting.

'Mom. Adam's team rescued some civilians in Ohio. There are casualties, civilian and UNIT. They are heading hot to Maine. Will explain more when I see you in a little while. Red Dragons are heading out now to support them.'

"Damn." Sabrina looked at her. "What happened?"

"Some of my boys got hurt and they are on the way to Maine." Janet pointed at Ian and Jamie. "Their team is heading out now and can't wait until after the surgery is over. I need to get there as well, but I can't leave until we're done here."

"We'll use my transport. It will get us there fast. We can take the boys with us as well so they can join their team." Janet nodded. "Thanks Sabrina." She smiled and they turned back to watching the boys work.

Janet kept a close eye on the three boys and when she saw their eyes starting to look dull with fatigue, she would direct the medics to give them another drink. Ian spoke. "The vessels are connected." Janet nodded and they watched as the new legs began to pink up, showing that the blood supply had been restored. She looked at one of the UNIT medics. "Hang one unit of the Genesis blood." The medic quickly complied and removed a small bag and connected it to the IV line running into Carson's arm.

They could see that it looked like they were just about done. The three boys stayed in position a little bit longer until finally Ian slowly lifted his hands up and stepped back. He staggered slightly but quickly regained his balance. That was the signal for Jamie and Chang to remove their hands and step back as well. Janet made sure they were all given another of the high calorie drinks to restore their energy enough so that they wouldn't be passing out, but she knew they would need to get some rest in the near future.

Janet stepped forward to check Carson's legs. She looked at Doctor Murten, he smiled at her from where he was sitting. "Everything looks good. Vitals are strong." She nodded. "Okay, let's get him to recovery. I'll leave him in your care. Unfortunately, we have to leave right away." He looked at her with concern. "Is there a problem?" She nodded. "Some of my boys were hurt saving some civilians and we need to get to Maine as soon as we can. Chang will be staying here to help monitor Carson's recovery." He stood up and held out his hand. "Then of course you need to go. I can't thank you enough for what you've done for my grandson. Go, go, take care of your boys. We'll finish up here and make sure he's alright. I will of course welcome Chang's assistance." She shook hands and they left.

They split off to change out of their scrubs. The three boys were a little tired but the energy drinks did help to keep them from falling asleep. They all took showers to clean up and that woke them up some more. They met Janet and Sabrina outside the changing rooms. "How are you boys holding up?" They nodded. "A little tired, but we'll be okay." As they got to the main entrance of the hospital, Logan was just getting out of a Gator.

Janet waved back and turned to Chang. "I'll be back as soon as we find out what happened to the guys. Take care of Carson and if you need my advice, call." He nodded and turned to head back into the hospital.

They met Logan. "Hi Mom. So did it go okay?" She nodded. "Yep, everything looked good when we left. Now we need to head to Maine. We're taking Sabrina's ship." Logan nodded. "That's great. I have to go with you. I have information that the president needs to know. Eve is handling the command center. She just oversaw the command team's rescue and she has the skill for it, so I left her in command."

Janet led the way to the nearby doctor's parking and climbed into the same SUV they had used earlier, and drove them back to the UNIT base.

When Gabe pulled up next to the base building, his Gator looked like a clown car as the boys, Eric and Brett climbed out of the Gator. As each of them got out, he began running to where the Dragon was waiting. The rotors were already turning, just waiting for the rest of the team to arrive. Sean and Brett headed toward the control room in front. As they ran forward, Josh called to him. "Sean find out about Jamie." He waved as he went through the door.

Sean set Dusty up at his usual place and opened him up. Moments later the young cowboy showed up on the screen. "Hey Sean where are we going?" Sean glanced at Dusty as he put his gear on. "Going to Maine. Hook up to Drake."

"Captain, Dusty is connected, all team members accounted for except for Sergeant First Class MacLeod and Staff Sergeant Kelly."

"Noted, Drake. System Check."

"All systems operating within normal parameters."

"C3. Sean?"

"We're ready to go. Josh was asking about Jamie, Chris."

"Since Ian and Jamie are doing something important, we'll see them when we return. Remind him of that." She glanced at Ollie in the co-pilot position and Apollo in the jump seat behind them. "Let's go to Maine." Dragon climbed into the air and headed east as fast as they safely could go.

When they arrived at the base, Sabrina led them to one side of the landing field. She brought her hand up and spoke into her watch. "Marko, we need to get Janet and these boys to Maine as soon as possible. I said we could get them there quickly. Some of the UNIT boys were hurt and she needs to get to Maine so she can help them."

A voice answered her from her watch. "Very well. Come aboard." A moment later a saucer shaped ship shimmered into view and a ramp lowered from the bottom of the ship. Jamie and Ian's eyes opened wide. "Wow. A real flying saucer. How cool." Sabrina smiled at them and waved for them to go inside. Once they were inside, Sabrina introduced them to her superior, the councilor, Marko. Once everyone was secured, Marko ordered the pilot to make for Maine at flank speed. In the passenger area, the events of the day took their toll on the boys and the two of them soon dozed off.

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