Castle Roland

Changing Connections

by Eric Aune

In Progress

Chapter 25

Published: 25 May 17

Changing Connections

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

Changing Connections LogoLater that afternoon, after everyone had eaten lunch, Eve sent word to the members of the command team and all the team commanders that she wanted to meet with them later to discuss their next steps to get their justice against Ashwood's forces.

She was looking at some intelligence reports on one of the UNIT PADDs when there was a knock on the open door. She looked up and saw one of the Scireians that she had seen around the base. "Yes?"

"Hello Eve. I'm Sabrina Ziegler, I wanted to drop by and talk to you about something before you have your meeting."

"Why before the meeting?"

"Because what I have to say, will probably affect your plans for a short time."

Eve looked at her for a few moments. "Very well, please continue." She waved to one of the seats at the table. Sabrina smiled and sat down. "I wish to offer you a chance to be whole again." Eve's eyes widened in surprise. "You mean you can fix the damage so that I can walk?" Sabrina nodded. "Yes." Eve looked at the table; she seemed to be considering something very important. She looked at Sabrina. "When can this be done?"

"Right away."

"Oh." Eve frowned a little. "It won't take long to prepare, correct?" Sabrina shook her head. "Okay, when we finish this operation in a couple of weeks or however long it takes. I'll arrange for someone to take over while I get the treatment. I know it will probably take some time, so I want to get this over first. Then I can take the time…."

"No, I think we need to do this now." Eve shook her head. "But I have this operation to plan. I can't be laid up now."

"With the level of our technology, I can have you at 90% in two days, 100% in three days." Eve stared at her in disbelief. "You're serious?" Sabrina smiled. "Of course we'll need to do some physical therapy after the treatment is finished, so that your body will get used to moving properly once again. That means you won't be going out into a front line combat operation at the end of the three days, but by the end of the week if you follow my instructions, you should be good to go."

Eve was quiet as she looked down at the PADD and flicked through some reports on it. "Very well, let me talk to my teams and I will let you know." Sabrina nodded and stood up. "I'll be around." She left the room. Eve sat there with her hands clasped together looking off into space. Her reverie was interrupted when the commanders began to arrive.

She waited for everyone to take a seat before saying anything. "Thank you all for being here. First thing I want everyone to understand. I have no intention to change the way the UNIT is run. It's the old adage, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'." She looked at the Firebirds Commander. "Courtney. The Firebirds will continue with their duties as security for the Brown family and backing up the Vice President's security team for the time being. I believe that we will be getting some help from Blood's Honor soon, and then you can be released for other duties." Courtney nodded her understanding.

"The duties of the Command Team will remain the same. There is no reason to change that unless any of you feel that you cannot continue in your duties." She looked at Logan. "I'm not trying to be harsh, but I need to know that you can fulfill your duties as head of Intel, Logan. If not, I can ask the Chipmunks to take over. I know you have been affected the most by what has happened, and I am sorry for that. On top of that are the difficulties you've had to cope with after the treatment you received from the Scireians. I have to ask, can you continue at this time commanding the Intel team?" Logan looked at her for a moment, she could see some anger in his eyes at her question, but she calmly held his gaze. Logan let out a breath and with it, the anger that her comment brought out. "I know what needs to be done. I see nothing that will interfere with my duties. You need Intel, my team will find it." He pointed to the monitor in the room. "We have Daisy working with us. You tell us what info you need, and my team will get it." Eve glanced at the monitor on the wall where Daisy's avatar was looking at them and nodded. "Good."

"Khan and Chang, as second in command of the combat forces, I need you to continue in those duties. When we make our move, you will be in tactical command. I will continue as overall commander, but at present, I cannot be there on the ground. Speaking of that, starting tomorrow, I will be receiving treatment from the Scireians myself. I have been told that within three days I can be back to full mobility and by the end of the week, I will be completely healed." The officers looked at her and a few smiled. "For that reason, we need to get all the Intel possible to make the best use of our abilities, and then we will attack. Since I haven't been able to do too much while I've been in this damnable chair, I have been looking into the history of this version of Earth and learned as much as I can about the UNIT history. In the version of Earth we came from, the UNIT had thousands of members and you could bring a huge amount of offensive power to bear in a very short amount of time. The UNIT was the most powerful army in the world. So strong that countries made alliances with the UNIT, not with the country that they started in. Here in this version President Bryce has treated us as our own nation as well." She paused. "But we have less than one hundred members. We have to be more careful in how we operate."

"That is why we are not rushing into combat to get the justice we deserve. We need to have a solid plan before we rush in and attack Ashwood's forces. We have lost too many of our people recently, people that we can't afford to lose. Since we arrived here about three weeks ago, we have been in almost constant combat, with hardly any rest. I plan to change that."

She looked at everyone for a moment. "Part of that problem, I lay at Adam's feet. He was a superb tactical commander, but he was still operating as if he had those thousands of UNIT members behind him available to call in to assist in any operation. As I have stated before, he and I would have probably never been friends, but I believe, no, I know we would have worked well together. I admire everything he has accomplished here and in the Universe we came from. I was raised to believe that all of you were renegades who were fighting against their lawful commanders, but that has changed and I no longer believe that. But inasmuch as Adam operated as if he still had thousands to command, he was reckless."

Juan jumped up so fast his chair fell over. "Who the fuck do you think you are saying Adam was reckless! He was the best there is. He…?

"Sit down Juan. Adam was reckless." Juan turned with disbelief written on his face when he faced Logan. "How can you fucking say that? Adam led us to victory after victory, no one could beat us when he led us. The way he led us works for us!"

Logan struggled to his feet, and met Juan's glare with his own steady look. "Worked… not works." Logan said softly. "Things are changing…"

"The way we're set up, the way we work, the way we operate does NOT need to be changed." Juan's forceful voice shot back."

Logan sighed and was about to respond when another voice spoke up. "Juan. You know as well as I do that things are different here. Adam was already changing how we operated, Eve is just doing it quicker." Chang's soft and steady voice seemed to drain all the fight out of Juan. He picked up his chair and sat down hard, crossing his arms, not liking the decision, but even more so not liking the apparent cutting down of his big brother.

Eve glanced at Logan and nodded her appreciation. "Yes Juan, it did work for the UNIT, and if we still had those thousands that we had in our world, then it would probably continue to work for us. Here, and now, we don't have the people to do that. We've lost more people, either killed or injured, than we could afford to lose. There are no more of us and in reality, we really don't want any more of us to be made. We know that is one of the goals of the AoG; besides world domination, that is. They want to make more of us so that they will have the best fighting force there is, and we will do anything we can to prevent that. So remember our ultimate goal is to destroy the AoG. The first step to that is to take down Ashwood and get this country back on its feet so we can concentrate on them. To do that, we need to make sure that we use our forces the smartest way that we can, and that includes minimizing losses. Because there are less than one hundred of us, we must be more selective, be more certain of who and what we attack. That means, before attacking, we get the Intel that will give us all the advantages we can use. Many of the fights we've been in were pulled together quickly, sometimes even on the fly, or we just happened on the info and we reacted without putting a good plan together first.

"One of the things we've found is that the soldiers we've been fighting are, for the most part, well trained. Not as well as us, but still they fight hard and have the numbers. Due to our almost total lack of Intel we have lost UNIT members, when perhaps with a better plan, or any plan, we might not have. So my orders are as follows."

She picked up her PADD. "One. We need a Forward Operating Base closer to the front lines on the Mississippi River. I do not propose that we move our HQ there; I think Kettle Falls is perfect for our HQ. We've moved lock, stock, and barrel, too many times in the last three weeks and I have no intention of moving again. So find us an FOB." She glanced at her PADD. "Two. Find a weak spot in the line that we can attack and break through. I have been reading through the history of this world. I believe you have all heard of this German dictator of 70 or 80 years ago, Hiller, who started what they call World War II. One of his tank commanders used the term Schwerpunkt to describe his armored forces. In German it means, main focus, but many called it the sharp point or spear point of the attack. Many times these armored forces broke through the enemy lines and then the follow up forces exploited the break through. They would spread out as they turned and attacked the flanks of the enemy lines, rolling them up before the forces had a chance to defend against the attack. The lines disintegrated under this onslaught and they were able to conquer all of Europe except for England which held out long enough for the US to get into the war and help defeat them. That is my intention. We will work with the President's military leaders to move some forces into position to exploit any break in the line that we create, once we have identified where we're going to attack. I want to take out Ashwood as quickly as possible, so we can put our focus, or to use the German term Schwerpunkt, on destroying the AoG, and as long as we are stagnated on the Mississippi River line, that will be difficult to accomplish. We have to break that stalemate. Once the line is broken, our military can start pushing them back until we can take out Ashwood and his administration, and we can end this Civil War."

She glanced at the PADD once more. "Three. While the Intel team is getting what we need. I want our air forces checked and serviced if necessary. Will, Air Ops is yours; make sure everything is in the best condition possible and ready to go." Will nodded. She looked at Khan and Chang. "As I said, you are my tactical commanders. Once we find our spot, we will meet to plan the best way for us to cause a break in their line. Doctor Hayes, please have all medical supplies checked for completeness. Colonel Casey, I have no intention of leaving you here once we move to the FOB for this operation. I would like you to assist me in coordination with the President's military forces that will exploit our attack." Joe and Janet both agreed. "Four, and this is only if any of the strike teams are able to do this. From the Orlando base and the officer that the Red Dragons captured in Idaho, we have picked up Intel on more of their plans. We know that there are internment camps holding undesirables in many parts of the country. Most of the camps are not easy to get at yet, because they are far behind enemy lines. However, some aren't too far behind the lines, maybe a few hundred miles at most, and with our stealth capabilities, we may be able to get to them and free the internees. I say anything that is within a few hundred miles of the Mississippi is fair game. The biggest problem is what to do with the internees once they are rescued. We know that the train we hit was being used to ship people, mainly kids, from the camps, to locations where they can be taken by the AoG to use in their experiments to recreate us. If we discover that any of these locations are shipping children out and it is possible to do so, we WILL stop them. We can't let the AoG get them. If you think you can take a camp out, let me know your plan and I will approve it, especially if it involves any children held at any such a camp."

She closed the PADD. "That's it. Everyone knows what they have to do. When you get the information, day or night, let me know. I want to hit Ashwood soon, but I want to hit him in such a way that it will allow us to cause him the most damage, while causing the least damage to us. I read something that a well-known American General said: 'The object of war is not to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his'. That is my intention for Ashwood. I want him to see his doom coming as we destroy his forces. I'm hoping that some of the forces will see the error of their ways once we break through and will remember the oath they took when they joined the military. I don't think that every unit, that faces us, agrees with all of Ashwood's policies, but they are commanded by those who do, so we need to target their command structure. Once we get the ball rolling I have a feeling that Ashwood's forces will begin to disintegrate and we'll have him. Thank you everyone. We will get that bastard by the short hairs."

The commanders filed out of the room, leaving Eve to look through her PADD. She was going over the list of troops and equipment they had. Once the Intel was presented, she would be able to plan how best to use it to accomplish their objective. Meanwhile, Daisy's avatar faded from the monitor.

Logan and the Chipmunks were working hard to determine where the front line was, identifying the opposing force's composition and weaknesses, down to individual units, and selecting the best places along the line to exploit their weaknesses. They kept Daisy busy grabbing all the enemy communications that she could find, to identify each enemy unit's strength as they identified the most lightly defended sectors for UNIT and Bryce forces to attack and exploit.

Will met with Mac to make sure that all aircraft were 100% combat ready. Joe worked with Tommy and Ronnie, to make sure all the supplies that they needed were in place and ready to go. The Strike and Assault Team commanders poured over what they had, to see if there were any camps that were within striking range. The UNIT base was busy. Even during dinner, the commanders discussed the upcoming operation with their teams, so that everyone was aware of what was coming. The base was humming with activity as they prepared to rain justice down on the heads of Ashwood and his friends.

Early the next morning, Sabrina found Eve in the dining hall and sat down across from her. "Morning Eve. Have you come to a decision?" Eve quickly nodded as she finished chewing what she had in her mouth. "What do I need to do?"

Sabrina was leaning over Eve's bed as she taped the thin, 4" X 4" device to her back, while Apollo looked on. She then pulled out a hand held scanner and activated the regeneration device. Eve felt a slight tingle as it was turned on. "You will feel a tingle as it works. There should not be any pain, and I will need to monitor you every three to four hours, until the scanner says that the process is complete. While it is doing its work, you can continue with your normal duties, however, I would prefer you don't do anything overly strenuous. Once the device has done its work, I will work with you on the physical therapy part through the end of the week."

"Is there a chance that it won't work?" Sabrina shook her head. "None. I have no doubt that you will be able to easily stand and walk in two days, just as I said. If you were not a Genesis augment, it would take longer for you to regain the ability to walk, but I expect that you will be up and about in no time." Eve looked at Apollo who grabbed the wheelchair and pushed it over next to the bed. Eve rolled over and sat up. She transferred over to the chair and settled in place. She looked at Sabrina. "Thank you."

"I'll check back in a few hours. I only need to be within ten meters of you to monitor the device, so if you're in the middle of a meeting, I can do it from outside the door. That is what I will do while you sleep. That way I won't disturb you." She left the room. Eve looked up at Apollo. "Let's get to work." He nodded and pushed her out of their room and down to the conference room that she had taken over.

A little before lunch, Joe came into the conference room. "Eve, we've found a base we can use as our FOB. Offutt Air Force Base, just outside Omaha, Nebraska. It's the home of the US Strategic Command, so we thought that adding our aircraft to the ones already there would not look out of place, in case Ashwood's forces make any recon flights. I've already spoken to and gotten the okay from the President, through the Vice President, for us to move there when we are ready. The Base Commander has been briefed that we are a Special Forces unit. He's not cleared for anything else about us, but we'll probably have to meet with him at some point once we are there. I've arranged for us to have our own hangar to use and where we can have little contact with most of the base personnel. Mac and his team will be with us to take care of our birds. That way we can keep our interaction with the base personnel at a minimum, since we won't need them to service our craft. They have tasked one of their Air Force Inns for our use. I'm still working on a few more items, but Logan and I think this is the best bet. It's pretty close to the Mississippi line and the base runs recon flights out of there."

"Sounds good. Let's start moving our people over there today. I'll go with the Red Dragons when they leave." Joe nodded. "Okay, I'll get everyone started. I've arranged for some C-130s out of Fairchild to pick up and take all the support personnel and their equipment along with some of the teams. We'll send the helos without the mini fusion engines first, since it will take them a while to get there and I've plotted refueling spots for them along the way to Offutt."

"Good. I'll leave it to you." Joe left the room. A short time later Apollo joined her. "I hear we're moving out."

"Yes. Offutt Air Force Base. From there we should be able to quickly hit the line without going too far south. I don't want to get too close to what Ashwood has down in Louisiana, but somewhere here in the middle I think is our best bet."

"And I think I know where to go." Eve and Apollo looked up as Logan slowly made his way into the room. "Daisy, bring up the map." The monitor faded in showing Daisy. "Here we are." Her avatar moved to the side and a map showing the location of Offutt AFB in Nebraska to the Western Great Lakes, appeared on the screen." Logan made his way over to the monitor and tapped a spot on the map near Davenport, Iowa. "I think this is the place for us to breakthrough. The main reason is that because Chicago has been holding off Ashwood's forces since this all began, their attention is turned more toward the city and from what we, with Daisy's help…" On the screen Daisy curtsied. "…found is that Ashwood's commanders have had to pull forces off the line to support the attack on Chicago. We believe that the line is thin here, and if we make a breakthrough there, we can relieve some of the pressure from Chicago and hopefully link up with them. From there, part of Bryce's forces can push north and link up with the Canadians. The other part can push south toward St. Louis. The main thing is to make a big enough hole that we can push more troops through than Ashwood can stop. The more troops we get through, the faster we'll break the line and roll up their flanks."

Eve moved her chair over to where she could look closer at the map. When she finished studying it she looked at Logan. "Logan, give this information to Chang and Khan, so that they can start looking at the area and find the best target. We'll meet tomorrow to discuss it once we have settled in at Offutt. Logan nodded and left the room.

After lunch Eve was back in the conference room when there was a knock on the door. "Enter." The door open and an adult walked in and then stopped. "Oh, sorry, I think I was directed to the wrong room."

"Perhaps, who are you looking for?"

"Adam Casey, your commander." Eve recognized the patch on his uniform. "You're Blood's Honor?" He nodded. "Yes. Major Tony Gulipo." Eve nodded. "Then you haven't heard. Adam was killed recently on an operation." Tony's mouth dropped open in shock. "I am Eve, and I am now the UNIT Commander." Tony nodded and straightened up. "Well then, I guess I am in the right place. We just arrived with five Blood's Honor A Teams. Logan called us a couple of days ago and asked us to come here to help with some operations that are being planned."

"Very well, we will be able to use your help. We are getting ready to move to Offutt Air Base in Nebraska. We're planning to use it as an FOB for our next strike against Ashwood's forces, and I'm sure we'll be able to use your help. We're still working on the plan, but in the next few days we should have something put together. There is a task that I would like for your people to take on, and that is taking over the security for the Brown family. They are the people who started all this and the UNIT team that is presently on the duty wishes to join with us when we hit Ashwood. Everyone in the UNIT wants a piece of him after what happened to Adam."

"May I ask what happened?" Eve nodded and waved to a seat. For the next half hour she told Tony about the operation that led to Adam and Bucky's death. At the end Tony shook his head. "I'm sorry to hear about that. He was very good. Well, both of them were." Eve nodded. "Yes, they were. Now we're going to bring the fight to Ashwood and make a hole in his line. So can you form a protection detail for the Browns, so our team can join us?" Tony stood up and saluted. "Yes Ma'am. I'll pick the team myself."

"Thank you Major. I appreciate it and I know they will too. We've started to send our troops to Offutt, so once you form the detail, find Colonel Joe Casey, he's overseeing the temporary move to Offutt." Tony saluted and left the room.

While getting ready for the move to Offutt, Juan tracked down Ian, who was inside Dragon working with Ram to make sure that their medical supplies were complete. "Hey Ian." Ian jumped a little in surprise and turned around. "Shit, you startled me Juan. What can I do for you?"

"My friend Ricky was injured when the gas bombs hit Austin. He broke his leg and I thought that before we leave for Offutt, that you could take a look and fix him." Ian nodded. "Sure, I don't see why not." Ian looked at Ram. "Can you finish up here while I go see my new patient?" Ram nodded. "We're almost done, so I can finish up." Ian nodded and gestured to the door. "Lead the way." Juan turned around and the two of them left the helo.

Juan led the way upstairs to the rooms that had been set aside for the science contest winners. He stopped in front of one door and knocked. The door was opened a moment later by a blond haired boy. "Hey Keith. I brought the doc I talked about that can fix up Ricky's leg." Keith looked for a man with a doctor's bag but when he didn't see anyone, he looked at Ian. "Him?" Juan nodded. "Yep, nothing but the best for my friends." Keith shrugged. "Okay, I guess." He stepped aside and let them in the room. He saw one of the boys sitting on a bed with one leg in a cast. Ian stopped and looked at Juan. "Um, we've got a problem. His cast is in the way. Do you think you could break it." Ricky's eyes shot open. "Break it?" His voice squeaked a little when he spoke. Juan got a mischievous smile and nodded. "I could, but I've got a better idea. I can ask Jory to come up with some shaped charges that could blow it off. Ricky's mouth dropped open and his eyes somehow got even bigger. "Bl...blow it off. B...bu...but won't that blow my leg off?" Juan shrugged. "No it probably won't. Jory's really good and I can't remember the last time he blew off someone's leg."

Juan looked around the room like he was figuring something out, and saw that Keith was equally as shocked when he looked at Juan and then at his friend Ricky. Ian got what Juan was doing and hiding a smile with his hand as he brought it up to his mouth as if he was thinking about it, he added his bit. "Well that might complicate matters. The leg would be easier to fix if it's in one piece, but I guess I could work with that." He glanced at Juan. "That is if you think it's the best way." Juan nodded and once again looked around. "But we probably should go somewhere else. It might make a bit of a mess if we do it in here." The two boys were looking at Juan, completely shocked. They couldn't believe that Juan would do this. He said he was their friend. Juan noticed something change in the room. He saw that he could see his breath now and he realized what was happening. Ricky was starting to get scared and going into a protect mode with his gift. Juan looked at Keith who was about to say something so he knew he had to diffuse the situation so he looked at Ricky and winked. Ricky's eyes opened even wider and then Juan started giggling. Keith was confused at first. Then he saw that Ian was smiling and they knew they had been had.

Keith scowled at Juan. "You're a jerk."

"Yeah you are. That was not funny. I thought you meant it, that you were going to blow my leg off. I almost peed my pants."

Juan looked at the two boys and held his hands up to calm them down. "Sorry, I couldn't help it. Trust me, I don't hurt my friends. This is Ian. He's a friend of mine. I brought him here to fix your leg."

They both looked at Ian and the room began to warm up again as Ricky relaxed. "Are you sure he's a doctor?" Juan shrugged. "One of the best I've seen, next to Mom and Chang. Trust me. By the time he's done with your leg, you'll be fine." Both of the boys were still skeptical. Ricky gave a tentative nod. "Okay, I guess. What do I need to do."

Ian smiled at him as he moved to stand next to the bed. "Nothing. We'll take care of it" He looked at Juan. "But I do need the cast off. I can't fix him with the cast in the way." Juan nodded and reached for the top of the cast. He looked at Ricky. "I'll be careful, but it might hurt a little." He carefully pulled the cast apart. He was straining a little, only because he was trying to be careful and not jar Ricky's leg too much or put any extra pressure on the leg that would cause him further injury. He knew that with Ian right there, he would be quickly healed, but he didn't want to hurt a friend.

When he finished pulling the cast apart, he carefully pulled it out from underneath Ricky's leg and handed it to Keith. "You can toss that." Juan looked at Ian. "Your turn."

Ian nodded and put his hands on Ricky's leg. He gave Ricky a smile. "This might feel a little weird." Ian turned his attention to the leg and closed his eyes. A moment later, Ricky shivered a little. "Whoa. That's… um,... tingly sorta, but really weird." A few moments later Ian stood up and smiled. "That should do it." He reached a hand down to Ricky. "Here let me help you up." Ricky looked at his leg and slowly moved it a little. When he didn't feel any pain, he looked at Ian with astonishment. "It doesn't hurt." He looked at Keith. "It doesn't hurt." He swung his legs off the bed and let Ian pull him onto his feet. Ian let go and stepped back out of the way.

Ricky took a few slow tentative steps and a smile broke out on his face. He took a few normal steps and then jumped up and down. "It doesn't hurt at all." He then reached down to his leg. "And Thank God." He started scratching his leg. "The itching has been driving me…. NUTS!" They all started laughing. Ricky dropped into a chair and leaned back. "Ah finally."

He suddenly sat up and looked at Ian. "How did you do that?" Ian smiled. "Trade secret. And I would appreciate it if you would not talk about this. I know some of your friends may have questions about it, but what I do is considered Top Secret. Very few people know about this and the less that know, the better the chance that our enemies won't find out about it." Ian looked at the two boys. "It was nice to meet you guys. I've got some things I've got to do now. See you around Juan." Juan nodded. "Thanks Ian."

Ian left the room and headed back to Dragon, just to make sure everything was ready to go to Offutt.

Apollo came in late in the afternoon. "Eve, Dragon is ready to go." She nodded and gathered the papers and her PADD that she had on the table, putting them in a pack that was on the back of the wheelchair. "I can't wait to be out of this damn thing. I hope this gizmo works. I'm tired of sitting on my ass all the time. Let's go join Christina and the team."

As they made their way to the runway, the UNIT base was very busy packing everything that they would need to take with them to Offutt. The normal helicopters were already gone, as were some of the fusion engine aircraft. The rotors were already turning when Apollo started to push Eve up the ramp and into Dragon. "Eve, how are your legs?" Eve looked over her shoulder and Apollo stopped at the base of the ramp. They saw Sabrina walking over to them with her scanner in her hand. "I can feel them some now. They felt like they had fallen asleep this morning and were waking up. You know that pins and needles feeling." Sabrina nodded as she checked the readings on her scanner. She smiled when she looked up. "It looks like everything is working as expected. By Monday I will be able to start your physical therapy to help you relearn how to use your legs. By next weekend, you should be able to move about on your own power. You'll still have to work out to get them back into shape, but you won't need the chair." Eve smiled. "That is the best news! I'm ready to get out of this damn thing." Sabrina turned with a wave and started walking away. "Hey, aren't you coming with us? You said you needed to monitor me every three to four hours. I don't want to wait any longer than necessary to ditch the chair. You said you needed to be no more than ten meters away." Sabrina turned around still walking away. "Don't worry, you'll be fine for now. I'll be around keeping an eye on the process and to help with the physical therapy, but I have my own ride. So I'll see you in Offutt."

Sabrina waved again and quickly walked away. Apollo pushed her up the ramp, both of them seeing Jamil waiting for them to get inside so that he could close the ramp. In the C3 suite, she transferred to the chair at her usual station and she noticed right away that it was easier to make the move. She could swear that she could feel her legs helping her a little bit. That's when she realized that she could feel her legs for the first time since she was shot. The pins and needles feeling from this morning was gone.

Once everyone was in their seats and ready, Dragon lifted off and headed to Offutt. Everyone settled in for the four hour flight. It would be dark by the time they got there, which was perfect since there should be fewer people to see them arrive. Eve monitored the UNIT channel and kept track of where the UNIT forces were as they made their way to Offutt. A couple of hours into the flight, Joe contacted her to let her know that they were on the ground and arranging quarters and meals for everyone with the base staff.

It was a little after eight when they neared Offutt. They had kept the stealth on during the flight. Since it was dark, Christina kept it on as they neared the base. She was in communication with the UNIT people on the ground, so she knew where to land. She came in low and contacted the UNIT people on the ground. "Red Dragons are here under stealth. Are there any non-UNIT personnel nearby?"

"Negative." Christina nodded to herself. "Drake, cut the stealth."

"Acknowledged. Stealth is off Captain." Christina brought them in and landed outside the hangar that had been designated for their use. She called into the cabin. "We're here. Grab your gear and prepare to leave. Everyone is to armor up and be armed at all times. We are near enough to the war zone that if Ashwood gets frisky, he might attack. I don't expect it, but I expect us to be prepared for it."

Inside the main cabin, everyone geared up, with Eric and Gabe overseeing the distribution of weapons to each person. When they were ready, Christina looked them over and then nodded to Jamil to open the ramp. They walked down the ramp where they were met by Joe. Apollo, pushing Eve, came out last. Joe smiled at them. "Welcome to Offutt. Good to see you all. Eve, the base commander, a General William Barnes, wishes to meet with the commander of our group as soon as possible. He is not briefed on who we are, only that we are a Special Forces unit."

"I want to put that off as much as possible. See what you can do. How are we doing on getting everyone here?"

"All the UNIT teams are here, including the Firebirds and Amazons now that the Secret Service has finally been able to resume the protection detail for the Bryce family. In a short time, Mac and his people, along with the walking wounded who will be helping in the command center, should be arriving. The Aussies, five Blood's Honor A-Teams and the Russians will be arriving later tonight via C-130s. The building that has been reserved for us has everything we need; 131 rooms for our troops, although we may be a bit cramped and will need to squeeze as many people as possible into each room, and a few conference rooms. Ronnie is taking care of that. Logan and the Chipmunks are setting up one of the conference rooms as the command center. Another will be used for mission planning. That should be enough for what we need. This hangar is dedicated for our use. All base personnel have been told it is off limits for them until further notice. It's big enough for our fusion birds to be parked inside. The normal birds will be parked outside the hangar when they arrive sometime tomorrow morning. As soon as Mac gets here we'll start moving the fusion engine craft inside and shut the door to keep curious people out."

Eve nodded. "Sounds good, do we have transportation to our building?" Joe pointed to a couple of trucks parked nearby. "Blake and Sarah are waiting to give you folks a ride."

"Thanks Joe. I appreciate the help and please do what you can to put the general off as long as possible, like forever. I really don't want to meet with him if at all possible." Joe shrugged. "I'll try but it looks like he's one of those who likes to know what is going on in his little fiefdom and probably won't wait long." She scowled. "Okay, at least until sometime tomorrow, the later the better."

"Will do."

The Red Dragons began loading into the truck. As Eve was helped up into the front cab of Blake's truck, and the wheelchair was stowed in the back, she did a little double take as she saw Sabrina among the people nearby and she was looking at her scanner. She looked up with a smile and a thumbs up before disappearing into the crowd. It was a short drive to the Air Force Inn that they had commandeered, or rather, that the Vice President had commandeered for them. When they went inside, they saw Ronnie and a couple of the UNIT members, William and Zack, behind the reception desk. Ronnie smiled at them. "Hi guys. We've got your rooms set up. Most of them have two double beds so we'll put four of you to a room, that shouldn't be a problem for most of you. Gabe, since you guys are a bit older and bigger, we'll put two of you to a room."

Christina nodded. "That'll work." Ronnie looked at his two assistants. "William and Zack will give you your keys. Also Chris, when you guys get settled in, could you send a couple of your people down here to relieve them. Every team is helping with this." Christina nodded and looked at her people. Dylan and Ethan raised their hands. Ronnie smiled at them. "Good, come back down here in two hours." They thanked Ronnie and went searching for their quarters.

Each room was a little cramped for the teens, not because the beds were too small, they were big enough for them to share. The couples were more than happy to be able to snuggle up close for sleep. What made the rooms a little crowded was all their equipment that they had with them. Their armor, weapons, web gear, etc. It kind of filled up the room, but this was only temporary until they sent Ashwood's front line troops reeling back. Then it would be back to Kettle Falls.

A couple of hours later, Dylan and Ethan were down at the desk helping Ronnie. They saw a blue SUV, with the Air Force insignia on its door, pull up in front of the building and a couple of men got out of the back and headed to the front door. Ronnie keyed his sub vocal. "Eve, this is Ronnie at the front desk. Two Air Force Officers just pulled up in front of the building and are heading this way." Eve answered immediately. "Do you know where Joe is?"

"I think he's back at the hangar."

"Damn. It's probably the Base Commander then. I really don't want to talk to him….wait, I've got an idea. I'm going to ask Gabe to meet him. I really don't want to deal with some puffed up stuffed shirt right now. Besides I have a feeling that if he saw someone my age, he'd ignore me. Gabe can handle him. Stall him for a bit, tell him the commander will be down shortly."

"I believe you're right about it being the Base Commander, one of 'em has lots fruit salad on his chest and scrambled eggs on his hat. I'll hold them for the colonel." He looked at Dylan and Ethan with a smile. "It's showtime."

"Thanks Ronnie." Eve asked Apollo to go get Gabe. He was back quickly with Gabe behind him. "How can I help Eve?"

"Gabe, the Base Commander is downstairs, can you head him off. I really don't feel like dealing with him right now." Gabe smiled. "It would be my pleasure."

Downstairs the younger officer, a lieutenant with a silver aiguillette on his shoulder, opened the door for his boss, General Barnes. The older man strode into the room and when he saw these kids standing behind the reception desk, he started looking around as if searching for something. Not finding what he was looking for, he turned to the three kids with a scowl on his face. They were standing at attention. "Why are you kids here? Where is the commander of this unit?"

"We are assisting the members of our team in checking into their rooms, sir." He narrowed his eyes as he looked at them. He noted that they were wearing black BDUs and dressed as soldiers. He stepped up closer to the desk. That's when he noticed that they were armed and his eyes smoldered. "What the hell are you kids playing at?" He pointed at the weapons and glanced over his shoulder at his aide while pointing at the three kids. "Lieutenant, these children have firearms in their possession. That is not allowed on my base. Confiscate them." The lieutenant nodded and started to go around behind the desk. "No sir. You cannot have our weapons." The general looked at Ronnie with disbelief and his face darkened in anger.


"STAND DOWN, LIEUTENANT!" Everyone turned to face the commanding voice except the three kids who continued to stand at attention facing General Barnes. Gabe noticed their position of attention. "At ease guys." They relaxed, but continued standing. Gabe looked at General Barnes. "Sir, I'm Colonel Patterson. I understand you would like to speak with me."

Barnes pointed at the three behind the desk. "What the hell do you think you're doing giving weapons to children on my base? And why are there children here playing at being soldiers. What kind of ragtag outfit are you running, Colonel?" Gabe calmly looked at him. "No sir, they are not children as you call them. They are members of our unit. They are required to be armed at all times."

Barnes' lips compressed into a thin line. He glared at the three teens and then seemed to bring his anger under control when he turned to face Gabe. "Colonel, I need to meet with you and your officers so that I can get an understanding of what your mission is, so that I can assist you to the best of my ability. I will have my aide contact you as to the place and time."

Gabe shook his head. "No sir. You are not cleared to know what our mission is, sir." Barnes had started to turn away but was stopped by Gabe's reply. "What? Are you refusing a direct order from a superior officer?"

"No sir. I heard no order. I heard a request from you for a meeting, but due to the nature of our mission, I cannot comply with that request. Only the President or Vice President can give you permission to know of our mission. It is strictly need to know sir and you don't need to know. The Vice President assured us that you were informed of that, sir."

Barnes stepped up to Gabe and pointed his finger at him. "Listen Colonel. This is my base and I will be kept informed of what goes on…on my base. You will meet with me when my aide gives you the time or I will have you arrested for insubordination and knocked down to Second Lieutenant. Is that clear Colonel?"

Gabe's expression never changed nor did his tone. "No sir. I repeat sir, you have no authority over my soldiers. If one of my soldiers breaks the rules here, we will put them under arrest and handle the issue. I can assure you, none of my soldiers will do such a thing, so you will not have to worry about such problems. Also sir, respectfully, I will not meet with you, nor will any of my officers, as you do not need to know our mission by order of the President and Vice President. You will not arrest me nor any of my soldiers."

Gabe paused a moment because he heard something in his head.

[_Gabe, something's not right about these two guys. We need to check them out and I don't mean in a conventional way.] There was a pause and Ethan continued. [_Dylan says he doesn't like the feel of them either, but especially the general.]

Gabe glanced at Ethan and gave him a slight nod. He saw that his answer had both shocked and angered the general. No one said no to a general. Before Barnes could say anything, Gabe continued. "Furthermore sir, you will in fact, tell your men that they are to stay clear of us. I understand, sir, that you and your men have questions and I'm sorry if you are not satisfied with that answer. I know there will be some interaction during meals because we will be eating in the same dining hall, but I can tell you that only the President and Vice President can give permission for anyone to know what our mission is. Those are my orders and unless they release me from them, I cannot share anything to anyone outside of my unit, sir."

By this time Barnes was gritting his teeth and his face was red with barely controlled rage. He glared at Gabe for a few seconds. "You have not heard the last of this, Colonel. I will ruin you. You don't know who you're talking to." Barnes turned away to leave. Gabe could see his fists clenched so tightly the knuckles were white. Gabe spoke just loud enough for the general to hear. "Yes sir. I do know who I'm talking to and I respect your rank, but I have heard the last of this. It would be better for your career that you let this go. If you do not, it will not go in your favor." Barnes paused for a moment and Gabe could almost see him shake with rage but he instead stalked out of the building not waiting for the lieutenant, who had to hurry to catch up to him. Barnes didn't even wait for his driver to open the door. He got in and slammed the door. The lieutenant had to jump into the front seat or it looked likely he might be left behind.

Once the general had driven away, Gabe turned to Ethan. "What did you mean Ethan?"

"There was something off about both of them. They were thinking hard and the info was leaking out. I picked up something about the general telling himself to remember everything so that he could report to someone. He didn't think about who, but it seemed to be someone he held in high regard." Gabe nodded. "I'm going to talk to Eve, but if it is what I think it may be, we're going to be doing a little snooping." Just then a group of Mac's people arrived to be checked in. Gabe headed upstairs to talk with Eve.

Gabe knocked on the door. Oliver answered it and let Gabe in. "Eve, I think we may have a problem. It was the Base Commander as you expected and I think he is one of two things. Either he is sympathetic to Ashwood or he is an AoG plant. Ethan picked up some brain leakage from him about reporting to someone higher up. I think we need to find where he's likely to be right now and do a closer check on him. We should get a small team together, go find him and if necessary take them into custody. We should have Ethan give him a deeper scan and find out what he's hiding."

"I agree." She looked at Christina. "Christina, I don't think we need the entire Red Dragon Team, but gather some of them. Ethan and Dylan should be part of the team. Choose whoever else you need, find out where the general is, and go there. Try to keep it covert, but if necessary, stop him from contacting anyone that he shouldn't be talking to. No info is to get out."

"Will do." She thought for a moment before continuing. "Gabe can you send Eric and George with us? I'll take Rio, Chase, Vanya, Ethan, Logan, Jamie….and Ian along in case someone gets hurt. I'll have them suit up and be ready to go." Eve nodded. "Where do you want me to have them meet you?"

"Downstairs on the left side of the reception desk. We'll leave by one of the side doors once we know where he is. What would be the easiest way to find him?"

"If we call his office and ask for him, they should know where he is at all times, in case of emergencies."

"Would you check on that Gabe?" He nodded and left the room to let the two men know what's going on and to make the call to the commander's office.

"Apollo, let's get down to the command center. I will monitor your radios. If there is a problem call us immediately." Christina nodded as she was getting into her armor. "Roger. You'll be the first to know."

Eve and Apollo left the room. Moments later Christina gave Oliver a quick peck on the cheek and headed downstairs. Outside the room, she saw some of the Dragons heading in her direction, armed and armored. Within a few moments, they were gathered to one side of the lobby.

After Christina briefed everyone who had been chosen about what they were to do, they stood at the side of the lobby while Gabe went behind the front desk. Ronnie and the two boys were getting people checked in. Gabe went behind the desk and found the book with important base phone numbers on it. He quickly found the general's office and dialed the number.

"General Barnes' office. Airman Moreno speaking."

"Airman. This is Colonel Patterson. Is General Barnes still in his office? I have some information that he requested."

"No sir. He called to say he would be at his quarters."

"I've just arrived and he asked that I call on him as soon as I get here. He said he would either be at his office or his quarters. Could you tell me where his quarters are located? I'm new here at Offutt."

"Um, I can call him to tell him you've arrived if you would like sir."

"No need, Airman. I have important information to pass on to him and I can easily find his quarters if you will just give me the location. It is important I meet with him right away. The fastest way to accomplish that is to bring them directly to him. I would not want to keep him waiting. Would you like to keep him waiting Airman?"

"N..No sir. The general's quarters are located in the Fort Crook Historic District on Custer Drive. It is on the edge of the original parade ground for the old fort. It is marked Base Commander's quarters. Should I send a car for you Colonel?"

"No, Son. I have my own transportation. I really appreciate your help Airman. I will tell General Barnes when I see him of how much you have helped me. Thank you very much."

"Of course sir. Only doing my duty."

"Have a good evening Airman."

"Thank you sir."

While Gabe had been talking to the airman he had been skimming over a map of the base to find the location. He put his finger on the map as he hung up. "Got it." He waved Christina over and started to remove the map where it was taped to the desk when another paper was stuck in front of his face. He looked to his left and Ronnie was smiling. "There's a whole pad of these in the drawer." Gabe took the map and laid it on top of the counter so that Christina could see it.

"Okay, here's where we're at. This is where his quarters are located. I suggest not using the roads. Cut across the property. Watch for any of the barracks buildings. These two large areas are the Commissary and Post Exchange. They should not be open at this time of night, but it's a lot of open area, so keep your eyes peeled. Stay to the west of these buildings. This is Custer Road and his quarters are probably about here. The man on the phone said that the house is clearly marked. When you get to this parade ground, I would skirt the edge of it until you see his home. The rest I leave to you Captain. Speed is key Chris. You need to get there before he has a chance to contact whoever he plans to contact."

She took the map and tucked into a pocket. She turned to her team. "Let's go." The team made sure their helmets were on and their weapons were locked and loaded with safeties engaged. She glanced at them and then turned down one of the halls to find a side or back door. As she trotted, she keyed her mic. "Command this is Red Dragon 1, radio check." Eve's voice came back to her. "Red Dragon 1, this is Command. Read you five by five."

They quickly found a side door and after checking to make sure the coast was clear, she waved for everyone to exit the hallway. She told them not to bunch up and started trotting to the northwest. They moved quickly but quietly around the nearby buildings. Once past them they were able to speed up a little because the next set of buildings looked like everyone had left for the day. They still were careful because there could be someone on duty inside, so they stayed clear of any areas where they could be spotted from inside the buildings. It was less than a mile, so it only took them a few minutes to get to the edge of the parade ground. Christina stopped them and she looked across the parade ground to where their target was. Luckily for them it was dark, except for scattered street lights. She waved her hand forward and they ran along the edge of the parade ground staying close to the trees to help hide them until they arrived across from the building that had a sign in front saying Base Commander Quarters. It was an old 19th Century style, two story building of the type built at many large western forts of the period.

She turned to Ethan. "We're going to move around the side of the house. Ethan, I want you to listen for the general and see if you can pinpoint which room he is in." Ethan nodded. Christina led the way along the left side of the house. The team fanned out a little so they could watch all directions. There were other nearby houses with lights still on, so they had to be careful that they didn't disturb the neighbors. They had moved halfway down the side of the house when Ethan held his hand up. He looked at Christina and nodded. Ethan closed his eyes as he listened.

"Brent, get me a brandy. I need something to calm me down a bit." It was quiet for a few moments before the general continued speaking. Christina moved closer and peeked into the window. She saw the general standing by a desk and his aide was pouring brandy into a snifter and handed it to Barnes. She stepped back to stand beside Ethan. "Ah, perfect. You may have one yourself Brent. You know that damn uppity colonel will get his. He is going to find out that he messed with the wrong person. Who the hell does he think he is. I'm a general after all. We need to find out about these people. I know nothing about them, but I suddenly get a call telling me that I'm to give them whatever they want and not to interfere. I'm sure the Bishop would be very interested in anything I can find out about them." Once again neither of them said anything for a few moments. "I have an idea. I'll send you over to him tomorrow and tender my apologies. You can make some excuse about having been a difficult day and I was out of sorts. We'll invite him over for lunch and that will give me a chance to talk with him. I'm sure I can get some information from him, that will be of interest to the Bishop. I need to find out what they are here for."

Ethan keyed the mic in his helmet. "He's AoG. He was talking about needing to talk to someone called the Bishop. That was the same thing that man we captured at Brett's house in Idaho had in his mind. He answered to someone with the title of Bishop." Christina waved for the team to follow her as they headed back to the front of the house.

"Okay, we're taking them down and bringing them back with us to our building. We can't give him a chance to contact this Bishop person. George, Rio, Chase, Vanya, circle around back. The rest of you with me."

George led his group around to the back while Christina led her group to the front and up the steps to the porch. "Check the door and see if it's locked." Eric stepped up and checked the door. The doorknob turned and he could push the door open far enough to make sure it was unlocked. He nodded to Chris. "Rio, are you in position?"

"We're ready." She pointed at Eric and he pushed the door the rest of the way open, trying not to make any noise. "Go." Christina walked past Eric with her rifle at the ready. They could hear Barnes talking as they neared the room he was in. Christina looked behind her and nodded before rushing into the room. The aide was startled by their entrance and dropped the glass he was drinking and it shattered. He tried to leave by another door in the room but was brought up short by an M4 pointing at his nose and he backed up raising his hands.

"WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS? I'LL HAVE YOU ARRESTED!" Barnes put his glass down and reached for the phone on his desk. One of the figures, the smallest one moved quickly and there was the flash of steel and the phone cord was cut. Barnes looked at the small figure in surprise. His eyes focused on the shining steel of the sword in the figure's hand. He looked up when he heard the voice of what sounded like a teenage girl.

"Why don't you have a seat and let's talk about the Bishop, General." Barnes shock was even more when he heard her mention the Bishop. The small figure with the sword moved toward him. He backed up until he felt the chair behind him and he sat down. "I have no idea what you are talking about."

"Oooohhhh, I think you do General." Barnes was looking around at them and then he remembered something that had been sent out to all those of the faithful who were still in place in the armed forces that were under Bryce's control. They had been told to look out for any military unit who was dressed as these people were. They were the unit that had been causing Ashwood and the Army of God so much trouble. The Bishop would be very pleased to hear about this, he just needed to calm the situation down and try to get out of here in one piece and make a phone call. All he needed was just a minute or two and the Bishop would send a team in to grab at least one of them.

[_Chris, he is definitely AoG. He's trying to figure out a way to get to a phone and call his Bishop to report that he's found us. We know they know some info about us. He recognizes our armor. They've put out the word to keep an eye out for any sign of us and to report immediately._]

[_Got it. Okay, we'll bring them back to our building. We'll need to get the Vice President on the line and let him know what we've found out._]

She looked at the general's aide. "Lieutenant. Do you have a cell phone?" He nodded. "Good. Take it out and I want you to call the general's driver and tell him that the general needs him here at his quarters. He has just gotten a call from the commander of the Special Forces unit and wants to meet with him right away." Brent started to call. "No, put it on speaker so we can hear as well."

Brent dialed the number. It rang a couple of times before being answered. "This is Sergeant Dahlgren. Who is this?"

Barnes thought this is his chance to get help. He drew in a breath to yell and he felt two narrow blades of cold steel on either side of his throat. The short figure was now standing on his desk with two swords at Barnes' throat and he held his breath. Brent glanced over at his boss. "Dahlgren, this is Lieutenant Wilcox. I am at the general's quarters and we just received a call from the commander of the Special Forces unit. He has information that General Barnes needs to know immediately."

"Yes sir. I will bring the car over right away."

"Thank you Sergeant." He looked at the person who seemed to be in charge and she nodded. "Okay, zip tie these two. We'll wait until the sergeant gets here and then get back to our quarters. We'll question them there." Eric and George took control of the two men and bound their hands with the zip ties that all of them carried with them whenever they went on a mission.

Rio and Vanya were hidden outside to watch for the car. A few minutes later Christina got a call from Rio. "Car's here."

"Okay people time to go." They started to escort the prisoners but Christina stopped them and walked up to Barnes. She quickly removed his tie and gagged him with it. When he saw that, George did the same with the lieutenant. "Now we can go." They heard a knock on the door. Jamie went to the door and got ready to pull it open. Chris brought her gun up and pointed at the door. She nodded and Jamie pulled the door open. The sergeant had his fist up to knock again and he stumbled back in shock when he saw the carbine in his face. He was brought up short when he was poked in the back by what felt like gun muzzles. He swallowed and raised his hands. "Put your hands down Sergeant. We need you to take us to the Special Forces unit's quarters. Do as I say and everything will be fine." The sergeant looked behind her where he saw the two gagged officers. "Is that clear Sergeant Dahlgren?" He looked at the one talking and nodded. She gestured with her rifle. "Let's go Sergeant."

He turned around and saw the two figures standing in front of him with guns trained on him. They slung their rifles, pulled their pistols and walked on either side of the sergeant. The two officers were bundled into the backseat of the staff SUV. Chase climbed into the back of the SUV, in the storage area so he could keep an eye on the two officers. Christina climbed into the front seat with her pistol pointed at the sergeant. She looked at the rest of the team. "Head back to base." Eric nodded and the rest of the team took off across the road and disappeared into the trees on the edge of the parade ground. She looked at the Sergeant. "Okay, Sergeant Dahlgren, drive to the inn where you were earlier today, but pull around the back." She looked over her shoulder. "Chase, make them behave." He nodded to her and pulled his swords out to place them gently on the sides of each man's neck. "Now don't cause any problems, dull lovers." The men in the car were startled at the squeaky voice that came from the helmet. Christina keyed her mic. "Command, this is Red Dragon 1. We are heading back with guests."

"Red Dragon 1, Command. We'll have the guest rooms ready. Do our guests have some powerful friends?"

"Affirmative Command."

"Drive safe, see you when you get here. Command out."

If you are enjoying this story, please write and let the author know: Eric

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