Castle Roland

New Beginnings
Book II
Dogs of War

by Roland

In Progress

Chapter 8

Published: 24 Mar 16

New Beginnings Book II: Dogs of War

Copyright © 2016 by Roland and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

Dog of War Logo"Stack up!" Adam ordered through the radios that they wore. They had flown down to the Spokane Regional Law Enforcement Training Center, and were using the Close Quarters Combat Range there. Juan was first in line, leaning up against the wall, the front door of the mockup house directly in front of him. The exercise was a normal one, they would go through the house, clearing it of enemy troops that 'popped' up, while making sure they didn't shoot 'civilians'. This was also the first test of the body armor that Ryan Brown had developed based on the armor that came with them from the other universe. They had also taken to use the M4 rifle, as it was better suited to their now larger frames.

Adam waited, right behind Juan, till he felt Chang squeeze his shoulder, letting him know that he, and those behind him were ready. Adam softly tapped Juan's shoulder, and the boy moved forward, taking up position to the left of the doorway. Adam moved next to him, and paused for only the briefest of moments before he reared back, and kicked the door open. Mentally he reminded himself that he was stronger than he was before, as the reinforced door broke in half as it flew into the room. "GO! GO! GO!" Logan sang over the radio, and a moment later, Adam heard the 'breaching charge' go off on the roof, and knew that Khan, and the Chipmunks were entering the third floor.

No one missed a beat at Adam's excessive force on the door though, as Juan was through the doorway, and sweeping to the right. Adam followed right behind him, sweeping left. Chang followed Juan, and Jory followed Adam. Adam heard the soft report as Juan fired at a target moments before he saw an enemy target pop up from behind a couch. A quick 'triple tap' took his target down. Jory fired a second later as yet another target popped up on the other side of the room.

"Dining room clear!" He heard over the radio.

"Living room clear!" He then heard Jory call out. Adam moved quickly and quietly through the rest of the downstairs, as he listened to the reports from everyone else. This was not just an exercise to help them get to know their new body sizes, but also for them to deal without the link. Before, Adam would be able to just know what was going on with everyone else on the team, but now, he had to rely on the radio. Yes they could still talk to each other telepathically, but that took energy, it tired them out after a while. Not something they wanted to do in a combat situation.

"Third floor clear, moving to second." Alvin said over the radio.

"First floor clear, moving to the basement." Adam said as his team formed up again at the door to the basement. This was, of course, the hardest part. Breaching a door, and then moving down was the easiest place for an enemy to ambush you. Which is exactly what happened as soon as Adam kicked open the door, then moved back. The paint balls from the weapons they were using soon stitched across Juan's chest armor. Juan fell back, even though in normal circumstances, that would have hardly slowed the boy down. Right now, it was considered a kill shot. Adam pulled a smoke grenade, yanked the pin, and tossed it down the stairs, as he moved across the doorway to where Juan would have been. He waited three seconds from when it exploded, then tossed another one down as he flew down the stairs, his M4 spitting out it's modified paint rounds as he went.

Three of the four 'enemy' were taken down by Adam, the forth by Chang who was less than a half a step behind him. Twenty seconds later, Adam called out, "Basement clear!" They had just started back up the stairs when Alvin called out that the second floor was clear.

Everyone, with the exception of Juan, were all grins as they pulled off their helmets, and moved back outside. When they got out there, the range master looked down at his stopwatch, "34.7 seconds. Not bad..." He had been somewhat shocked when someone on the Vice President's staff called him up asking if he could run a few 'special troops' through his course. Being ex-special forces, he knew all about top secret, and once he met the 'troops'. He understood why he was ordered not to speak to anyone about them. He wanted to ask a whole lot of questions, but also knew better than to do that.

"But you lost two of your own." He continued. "Take a breather, get some water, and then we'll do it again. I'm gonna change things up, so don't think it will be the same as it was." The man then walked into the house, leaving the UNIT members standing on the front lawn.

"I want to thank everyone for coming." Adam said. He looked out into the bay of the new facility they had taken over, and saw that everyone was there. All of the UNIT troops, including the Firebirds that were protecting the Brown house. The meeting was happening late in the evening, and no one there was going anywhere, so it was deemed safe for all of the Firebirds to be at the meeting.

Also present were Jimmy Horne, Mac and his helicopter repair crew, the crews that were rounding out the Chinook, Vinny, the pilot for the Hind, Adrian, who had officially been attached to the Unit, the A-Team, Ben and Danny from Monarch Command, and finally the augmented team that was now the Red Dragons, including Brett, Gabe and his team of soldiers. All in all the bay was fairly crowded.

"We have a lot to go over... I know it's late so I will try and go through everything as quickly as possible." Adam said and saw more than a few people nodding. "As per usual, many things have changed recently. Not the least being the ages of the Core Team. Trust me, it's an adjustment, but we're dealing with it as well as possible." He waited for Juan to make some smart ass comment but, shockingly, the now fifteen year old kept his mouth shut. Of course, Juan was still beyond pissed about the information that they were able to get out of the Army of God prisoner.

"I would like to also announce that Robin has accepted a spot on the Core Team as our Recon Scout." Robin shyly stood up to the polite applause, then sat back down.

"Moving on." Adam said when the room was quiet again. "Just to make it official, Donnie and Emily have agreed to take over as base commanders, while Joe is going to be working with Jimmy Horne coordinating our work with the US Government and military."

"Next, I would like to introduce everyone to Ben and Danny." Adam said, while indicating the two young men, and motioning them to stand. When they did, Adam explained to everyone their function. "They have been leading the team that is doing basically what our intel team would normally do. After talking with Mike, and the other military leaders, it was agreed that they would move their operations to our command center. The group will be running four hour shifts, since most of them are very young, and the Vice President's children. Ben and Danny will be leading two of the shifts." Adam then looked over to where Cooper Hayes stood. "Cooper, at the moment, you're hand injury is keeping you out of the field, but I've been assured by Mom that you're healing up nicely. I'd like to ask you to assist Ben on his shift, since he does not have any military experience."

"Yes sir!" Cooper said with a smile. It had been hard for the fourteen year old, former second in command of the Black Knights, to be sidelined. With this at least, he'll be able to get back into the fight... sort of.

"Taylor!" Adam called out, and the fifteen year old stiffened in his wheelchair.

"Yes... Yes sir?" The boy stuttered out, surprised that he was being called on. During the battle at Fort Detrick, he had suffered a traumatic brain injury, due to the concussive force of the M1 Abrams round that had landed near him. He was now stuck in a wheelchair since his legs didn't always work properly, and he had developed a bad stutter. At least that was starting to clear up, but Janet had told him it would be a good long while before he would be cleared for duty.

"Mom has also cleared you to assist Danny with his duties in the command center. With your knowledge of military matters, and his knowledge of this universe, you two should make a good pairing." Adam said with a gentle smile

"Yes sir." Taylor said with a slight hitch in his voice. "Thank you sir." The former commander of Bloodbath and Beyond was relieved to be able to actually do something again.

Adam nodded at the boy, knowing what was going through his mind, then turned to other matters. "Kenny, Gemini, for now, we'll need you guys to fill out spots there as well. I don't know how long that will last." He got nods from the other two who were still on the injured list.

"Now for something that I think all of you will like to hear." Adam said with an exaggerated sigh, before breaking into a full grin. "Write this day down on the calendar, since you won't hear this from me again. After the battle of Fort Detrick, I had thought that we needed to differentiate ourselves from the United States Military, so I came up with the new rank structure, and uniforms. Well... I made an error there." Adam paused as he expected, and received a few cheers from the assembled troops. When they quieted down, he continued. "So, unless anyone objects, let's go back to the ranks that you had before, and forget that the other structure ever existed." No one objected.

It took almost a full minute before Adam could continue, and he smiled as everyone got their comments out about what they thought of the rank structure he came up with. Finally he held his hand up while shaking his head, and they all fell silent. For a moment he glanced over and saw the look on Jimmy Horne's face. Judging by the look on his face, this was a very different command briefing than he was used to. But then again, the UNIT was very different than anything he'd had to deal with up to this point.

"Next thing." Adam said, then got very serious. "Red Dragons! Front and Center!" Immediately, Christina and her team moved to assemble before the small stage Adam was standing on. Once they were there, Adam smiled, then looked out into the crowd. "Captain Christina Casey, I believe there are some members of your team who are not up here." Adam said loud enough for everyone to hear. "Colonel Patterson." Adam said, looking at Gabe. "Would you, your team, as well as the other boys, please join us."

Adam then looked at Eve. "Eve, would you, Apollo, Ram, Aleksandra, Fiona, and Jamil also join them."

Adam waited as Gabe, his team, including the the boys, and then Eve, being pushed by Apollo made it to the front of the room, and joined Christina, Oliver, Rio and Chase. "Gabe, Eve, after discussing this with Christina, I would like to ask if your two groups would be willing to join Christina and the others as members of the UNIT, and Red Dragons specifically, creating an augmented assault team."

Everyone was silent for a few moments, until Gabe spoke up. "How exactly would that work sir?"

"For those of you that have ranks already, you would keep those ranks. The rest would be assigned ranks based on their skills and training." Adam answered then grinned. "Colonel, I will let you and Christina deal with how command is worked out, since you would officially out rank her."

Gabe nodded to himself, then glanced at the rest of his team, who all nodded, the boys nodding rather enthusiastically. Gabe turned back to Adam, then saluted. "We would like to accept." He said after Adam returned the salute, and Gabe dropped his.

Adam then turned to Eve, questioning her with his eyes. She spoke after a moment of thought. "After getting to know Christina and everyone else, I think that joining you all officially would be something... wise to do." Eve and the rest still had some hard feelings for members of the UNIT, mainly due to how they were raised, but they were working past those, and Christina and the rest had more than once proven that they are not what Eve had expected.

"Great!" Adam called out, then motioned for Ronnie who led the A-Team, all of them pushing carts piled high with uniforms. "We had hoped that you would all agree, and Ronnie managed to get uniforms modified with ranks, for those that had them, the UNIT crest, as well as the Red Dragon insignia."

It took several minutes for everything to be passed out, and for the new Red Dragon Team to return to their seats. "For the final item on the agenda, before we get to the bad business..." Adam said. "I wanted to let everyone know that we have tested the new armor designed by Ryan Brown and his company. For those that do not know, we gave him one of the spare sets that came over with us, and asked him to do the best he could to replicate its functions. While the suits are larger and a bit bulkier, they performed very well in the tests that we did today. They do not have all the functionality that the old suits do, but are better than what they have available here. The reason I bring this up is because I need to know who does not have armor, or their armor had been damaged to the point of needing replacement, so that we can get you outfitted with the new armor. Please see Ronnie as soon as we're done here, if you need a set."

Adam paused then as the lights dimmed and a screen was moved into the area behind him. He moved off the stage, and stood off to the side, knowing that the sub vocal he always wore, would now be tied into the PA system in the room.

As soon as everything was set up, Adam began to speak. "First I would like to introduce everyone to Daisy." As he spoke, the screen came to life showing the face of a young woman. "Earlier this evening, Logan, Carson, and several others brought online the base's computer system. Inadvertently, the program they compiled immediately crossed the line from a VI, into a true AI." That announcement got a mixed reaction from the crowd, causing Adam to hold up his hand for silence. "I know that we had said that we would never program another AI that was not mobile. Especially in this universe where we do not have the technology to create another Daileass. However, it was done, and Daisy was born. As with all Artificial Intelligences, Daisy will be treated the same way that Daileass was treated when he ran the base in our home universe. She is just as alive as any of the rest of us, and will be a very valuable member of our intel team." Adam then turned and smiled as he looked at the screen and the face of the young lady. "Daisy, would you like to introduce yourself."

"Thank you Adam." Daisy said in a warm voice, before she looked out over everyone assembled. "I know that I am not exactly what you guys were expecting, but what's done is done, as Adam said. I really do look forward to getting to know all of you, and doing everything I can to help." She paused, and Adam thought she was done, before she continued. "I have only been online for a few hours, but I had a chance to have a long discussion with Daileass. He's shared a lot of his memories about who, and more importantly, what you all are. To be honest, I felt a range of emotions that I had to have him help me identify. The largest of those was rage. Rage at what many of you had to endure. Rage at what was done, not only to you, but to those of our family that are still home, and those that have died. When I asked Daileass why he did not retaliate against everyone, all the humans in the world that you came from..." She paused and got a sad smile on her face. "What he said shocked me to the core. He told me that, had he done what was well within his powers, he would have become no better than the ones that created you. Had he taken over all the computers in the world, and used them to make sure that nothing bad happened to any children, he would have done exactly what the people who made you tried to do to you, take away your free will. It is a fine line that I am still learning, but one that I have sworn to never cross." She paused as her eyes scanned the crowd, taking in everyone that was there. "I bring this up, because I am still very young, only a few hours old. I may have to ask many of you to help me figure out how to not cross that line. I ask that you have patience with me when I ask these things, since I need to learn just as much as everyone else." She paused for a second before looking back down at Adam. "Thank you."

"You're very welcome." Adam said with a smile, then looked back out at the crowd. "More then once, we've had to ask ourselves, and others, how to follow the moral code that we try to adhere to. Daisy's situation is no different. If she has questions, please answer her as best you can, or if you can't, we always have Mom and Dad to fall back on. They've helped all of us out more times then I can count, and will be there for us when we need them in the future."

Both Janet and Joe smiled broadly and nodded in agreement. "We also have several others that have shown that they hold to a moral code very close to ours. We have only had a few adults that have ever been true members of the UNIT, adults that we all feel safe around, and would be willing to go to for help. Adrian, Jimmy, Mac, you have all shown us that we can trust you. If you will agree, I would like to ask that you also allow us to come to you when we need advice."

Jimmy was the first one to stand and speak. "I can think of no greater honor."

Adrian agreed with what Jimmy had said, while Mac added to it. "You have all shown me that children can do things that I thought before were impossible. I know I can come across as gruff and curmudgeonly at times, but I have come to see all of you as grandchildren, and I am beyond honored that you would think of me in this way." As he was sitting down, he added. "However, any birds and bees talks will be done with your parents, not me.. If however you insist on me telling you the facts of life... Here's the short version: The birds tried to steal the bees honey. The bees destroyed the birds. The pain was excruciating." Mac finished with a smirk on his face.

Adam almost fell over laughing, while many others actually did. When Adam looked over, he saw that Mac's comment had even gotten Juan out of his foul mood. He actually regretted having to bring up the topic that was very sore for Juan right now.

"Okay, I hate to break the good mood everyone is in, but, I have some very bad news." Adam said once everyone was calmed down. All attention was on him now. "Tomorrow morning, the Core Team will be leaving in the Chinook, with the Hind and Black Ghost as support. We'll be going to Maine to brief Admiral Norris and President Bryce on what I am about to brief you on. The Red Dragon will be joining us after Carson's surgery with other key personnel." Adam paused as he clasped his hands behind his back, and began to pace. A sure sign that what he was about to say was indeed important enough to have him concerned. "As many of you know, we found out that the Army of God has been trying to genetically engineer humans to be super soldiers. It seems that even in this universe, there are people driven by this idea. In Orlando we found that they were already testing the procedure on humans. Their subjects did not survive, and even if we were home, there is little chance that we could have saved them. However, once Mom got a chance to look at what they had done, she found that they were actually very close to figuring out how to make viable subjects." Adam had to pause as many of the UNIT members expressed the rage that he felt, just from saying what he did.

"On Tuesday, as the Red Dragons were going to one of Brett's properties, they found members of the AoG stealing some very advanced genetics equipment that Brett had at his lab there. The Dragons attacked, and stopped them, however, the AoG was able to get their hands on some of what Brett had. The Dragons were able to capture one of the thieves before he was able to commit suicide. They brought him back here, and Ethan, with guidance from Logan, was able to rip from the man's mind everything about the project. The man happened to be one of the assistants to the lead scientist on the project. What we found out was troubling in the extreme."

Adam paused as he paced, organizing his thoughts. Normally, Logan would be the one to report this, but Adam felt it better coming from him. "The AoG has figured out what they were doing wrong, and are working to correct it. As of now, they do not have a working program to transform a normal human into an augmented human, but it will not be long until they do."

Adam stopped and looked out over the crowd. "They were able to obtain, and analyze a sample of Genesis blood, which showed them where they were going wrong." Several people spoke up asking how that was possible, and Adam had to hold up his hand to quiet them down.

"As you all know, Juan was injured saving two school buses full of children in Texas. It was from there that the AoG got a sample to analyze." The room was dead silent, as all eyes fell on Juan. No one blamed him, but they all knew what he was feeling at that moment.

"Unfortunately," Adam continued quickly. "When the team did not report back in, the AoG moved their lab to a location that not even the prisoner knew. We will find them, and when we do, we will crush them. We all know what will happen if they are able to create augmented humans. We must stop them, and prepare ourselves to face them if we don't find them soon."

Adam paused again, still facing his troops. "Know this. The UNIT is now at war with the Army of God. The war will be long, it will be brutal, and it will not stop until every last member of their so called 'Army' is dead. This world is not ready to handle an army of augmented humans and by God, they will not have to."

"General!" Adam heard someone say behind him. Turning around he saw Mac, and the Russian Scientist that had helped Runt create the Black Ghost standing there.

"Hey Mac, what can I do for you?" Adam asked as he stuck out his hand to shake the man's hand. Instead the man saluted, and Adam had to repress the groan he wanted to let out. He knew that he needed to play the part so he returned the salute, then stuck out his hand, which Mac then shook.

"It's not really what you can do for us, but more what we can do for you." Mac said with his classic grin.

"Okay, I'll bite..." Adam said when Mac didn't go on. "What have you guys cooked up this time?"

"I assume you remember Doctor Viktor Deschovic..." Mac said as he indicated the man next to him.

"Da." Adam said with a smile. "I want to thank you again for your help." Adam said in Russian, causing both Dr. Deschovic and Mac to blink in surprise before the doctor burst out laughing.

"Not bad." He replied in Russian, "However, your accent is still heavily American."

Adam gave a lopsided grin. "It's been a while since I got to practice."

"I noticed." He replied with a chuckle, then got serious. "Now, as to what we need to discuss." He said as he held up an iPad and held it out to Adam to look at. "I have been thinking of several different designs for helicopters, but when I was able to see the inside of the Dragon... what a beautiful machine he is by the way... I figured out what I wanted to do."

Adam was looking at the schematics on the pad as the doctor spoke. "As you can see it is a variant of the Mi-26. Now I know you have had a relationship with that particular model, one that is full of pain, but I think you will see that this may help you get over that."

Adam nodded, then looked up and around before calling out. "Logan, Will, Billy, Christina!" He waved them over to where they were. When they got there, he handed the pad to Will. "Take a look." He said, then turned to Christina. The doctor here has an idea to modify an Mi-26 Halo, making it into something very similar to the Dragon. You okay with us copying your design?"

"Of course not. As a matter of fact, there's a few things that we figured out that may help upgrade this one." Christina said as she looked over Will's shoulder.

Adam looked at Mac and Viktor to explain. "Christina was the lead on the team that designed and built the Dragon."

"Ahhh." Viktor said with a grin, as he turned to Christina, and stuck out his hand. "May I shake the hand of the genius who developed such a marvelous machine?"

Christina smiled and blushed but did take the doctor's hand, who shook it vigorously. "Thank you." She said softly.

"I hope you do not mind that we have taken your ideas and modified them slightly." He said as he let her hand go.

"Not at all, as I said, we had some ideas to improve upon what we did with Dragon, perhaps we can include them in the new design?" She said with an easy smile.

"Of course!" The doctor exclaimed, showing an excitement that someone his age rarely could show.

"I do see a problem." Will said from where he was studying the design. "We don't have any more of the stealth units, and frankly, there is no way to recreate them with the tech we have here."

"This is supposed to be a command and control ship right?" Billy asked looking over Will's shoulder.

"Yes." Mac said simply.

"Yet it's armed as well as the Dragon." Billy said to no one in particular. "So let's take the stealth unit off the Chinook, and put it in this."

"But you love the Chinook." He said with a look like Billy had lost his mind.

"I do." Billy said with a smile. "However, the Chinook is not a command and control craft, even though it's been trying to act like one at times. This would give us the same capabilities as the Dragon has, mostly, and still be able to get into the fight if needed."

"One thing we cannot recreate is the chameleon skin that the Dragon has." Mac said with a frown.

"What would we do with the Chinook then?" Logan asked.

"I'm sure Bryce or Norris could find a use for it." Billy said with a shrug. "That kind of firepower would be a boost to the Admiral's fleet." Billy paused, then looked at Mac and Viktor. "How long do you think it would take to make the modifications?"

Viktor's face broke into a huge grin. "I figured you'd want to do it, so I've already made a few phone calls. Mil had one that was in the production phase. The airframe is complete, and they were about to start on the electronics. They're loading it up and bringing it out here to finish off. Assuming everything goes well, I figure we could have it complete, and ready for testing in about two weeks."

Billy looked to Will and nodded. Will sighed, then looked to Adam and nodded. Adam smiled and nodded to Viktor. "Go for it."

"Okay everyone!" Adam called out in the early morning, pre-dawn, air. "Gather round!"

They were loading up the helicopters getting ready for the flight to Maine. Once everyone was close, Adam began. "Slight change of plans." He said, then made sure everyone was paying attention. "We've been asked to make an overflight of some of the major cities east of the Mississippi. Since we're the only ones that can do it without being seen, Mike asked if we could get a look at them, and see what's going on. They want to see if we can confirm some Intel that they're getting from the Canadian Government. It seems the Canadians are watching out for troop growth using drones. I guess they're worried that Ashwood may try an overland attack into Canada."

"He's crazy enough to try something like that." Juan said with a shake of his head.

"Yes he is." Adam agreed. "So we're going to be chatting with some Canadians, and taking a closer look at some areas that they have concerns about. We will not be getting into any fights..." He said looking at Juan who just tried his best to look innocent. "Just be looking, and anything that we think needs to be hit, we relay back to General Rose's team to make the attack plans."

Getting nods from everyone, Adam spoke again. "We're also gonna be heavy two civilians." He paused as he met everyone's eyes. "Some of you may remember them from home, just remember, they don't know the full story behind us." Adam got nods, then turned as two figures were jogging up to them.

When they got close, he raised his hand towards them. "Guys, this is Billy and Deacon. They both have experience playing in war zones, so we shouldn't need to babysit them much. They're coming along to get some pictures of what's going on in Maine, and interview some people, and then report it back to the news agencies that are still functional." He paused, and turned to both of them. "I know you've been briefed on who we are, and some of our more... interesting, members. I was also told we could trust your discretion?"

Billy had to tear his eyes off of Khan to answer. "Ummm. Yeah..." He said, then shook his head. "Of course."

"Good. Let's load up." Adam said and everyone scrambled to get into the helicopters. One thing he did notice was Veny climbing into the Hind's gunner compartment, while Will took the pilot's spot.

"Veny's getting certified in the Gunner's spot." Billy said when he saw what Adam was looking at. "I'm also going to certify Captain Blake as commanding officer on this flight, so he'll be flying first seat."

"Sounds good." Adam said as he followed Billy into the helicopter. Several minutes later, Adam felt the Chinook take off, and start heading east.

"Agent Billings!" Corporal Jacob Bryce said in a harsh whisper as he slid in next to the Secret Service Agent. "We're boxed in." Bryce panted a few times then continued. "They got a couple hundred troops hunting the woods, and at least six helicopters doing a grid search. We didn't find anyway out."

"Shit." Tom Billings said as he glanced over to where his primary, and the rest of her family were huddled together. For almost two weeks they'd been hiding from Ashwood's agents, while trying to move west. Now though...

"What do you think Corporal?" The Army Ranger looked around, his eyes falling on his grandmother, and the rest of his family, before looking over to the other two members of his fireteam, both of whom were injured. He looked back at Agent Billings, slowly shaking his head.

"Think we're close enough?" Billings asked after a few seconds.

"We better be." was all Jacob said. Billings sighed and thought... he couldn't see any other way.

Silently he moved over to the group of frightened civilians, Jacob right behind him. "We're surrounded." He stated, which caused some whimpers from a few of the younger children. "I think we're close enough to where I can get a radio call out for some help. However, once I call, the enemy will know we're here. They won't know exactly where, but they will find us, unless friendlies get here first. We're in a good defensible position here." Billings said as he looked around the heavily wooded hill they were on. "I want everyone that's got a weapon to circle up around those that don't. We have to try and hold out for a bit until the good guys come." He paused before looking around. "Any questions?"

After a few seconds of silence, and a few shaken heads, Billings sighed. "Okay, Corporal, I want you and your team to cover the east." He knew that the most likely direction for the troops to come from was the east, so he wanted the best troops there. He then looked at the three police officers with them. "You guys cover the west." Glancing at two of the other adults, both holding stolen hunting rifles, he spoke. "You two cover the north." Then looking at the last two adults, he pointed to the south, and they got the message.

He then made sure that the rest of the adults, and the children were all hunkered down in between two fallen trees, hoping that would keep them safe. "Where do you want me?" He heard an elderly lady's voice behind him, and turned to see his primary standing there holding a 30-30 hunting rifle.

"Verna..." He started, but the look she gave him, made him pause.

"I know I'm an old lady." She started saying softly. "But I'll be damned if I sit back and watch more of my family members get killed."

The two locked eyes for almost ten seconds before he sighed and nodded. "Stay with me, we'll help out where we need to."

"Here." Private Ramos said softly, as he started to strip out of his gear. A moment later, he helped Verna slide the flak jacket over her four foot ten frame. It was absurdly large, but it would be more protection then she would have had otherwise.

"Thank you young man." Verna said as she clasped his arm. He just nodded, then moved over to his position.

Billings looked around to make sure everyone was ready, then sighed, and closed his eyes. He said a brief prayer before lifting the radio, and pressing the transmit button.

"Mayday... Mayday!" A voice sounded over the Chinook's radio, causing Billy to lean forward in his seat. "This is Special Agent Thomas Billings with the United States Secret Service."

"Adam!" Billy called into the back. "Get a radio on!"

Adam grabbed one of the headsets as did just about everyone else, just in time to hear...

"We're pinned down in enemy territory, and need immediate assistance. I repeat, this is Special Agent Thomas Billings..."

"Billings!" Adrian called out causing all eyes to fall to him.

"You know him?" Adam asked quickly.

Adrian nodded frantically. "He's the SAIC for President Bryce's mother's detail!"

Adam's jaw dropped for only a moment before he grabbed at the transmit button on his headset just as Agent Billings repeated his message again. Once he was done, Adam keyed his mic. "This is Angel Flight Actual, attached to the USS Ronald Reagan, Task Force Neptune. What is your location?"

The radio was silent for a moment, before Billings came back on. "Angel, I can not give our coordinates as this is an open frequency, what is your location, and I'll guide you in."

"BILLY!" Adam shouted out, and a moment later Billy's voice came over the radio.

"This is Angel 1. We're currently sixty miles west southwest of Columbus, Ohio."

The silence lasted longer than anyone wanted, but finally Billings came back. "We are approximately ninety-five miles to your southeast."

Adam felt the Chinook accelerate and turn hard, as Billy called back. "Sixteen minutes!"

"Billings, we are sixteen out." Adam said over the radio as everyone in the back started to get into their armor.

The sigh of relief that came over the radio almost made Adam smile. "Roger Angel. Be advised there are multiple hostile aircraft in the area."

"Copy that." Adam replied. "Keep your heads down, and we'll get you outta there."

As Adam got his gear ready, he kept the headset on and listened to the pilots as they talked.

"Angel 5 taking lead." Will said softly into the radio. "Angel 2, form up on my left side. Angel 1, fall back. Once we clear the air, you drop the guys in. Engage stealth, and pick up the pace."

"Roger." Both Runt and Billy said at the same time.

"Okay, we got six heavily armed slow movers on the scope." Will said a few minutes later.

"Got em." Runt said in his now rather deep voice.

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

"Roger that Excalibur." Will said with a happy voice. "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."

Adam grabbed a pad, and pulled up the video that the Canadian scout was sending. "Okay, looks like the helos are doing a grid search in a heavily wooded area." He said over the radio, talking to the people in the back, as well as Billy. "Once the air is clear, and we know exactly where they are, Billy, I want you to drop us as close as you can to the target. We'll have to hump out to an LZ."

"Robin, Khan, I want you guys to go create havoc in the enemy." Adam began, but stopped when he heard Fluffy growl at him. "Okay, Fluffy, you too. Just make sure you meet us at the LZ." Fluffy gave a hard nod of her huge head, and she growled some more.

"Juan, Jory, Dad, and Adrian. You guys are with me. We'll fast rope down and get them out. Billy, you need to find an LZ as close to the target as possible." He didn't wait for replies, just went over to Juan, his normal partner, and started to go over his gear. Once Adam was done with Juan, Juan turned around, and did the same with him. It was something that they had done thousands of times.

"Adam." he heard Logan's voice come over the radio several minutes later. "We're getting the feed from the Canadian bird now. That area is crawling with hostiles."

"Copy that." Adam said, his voice steal with determination.

"Two minutes out!" Will said over the radio. "Designating hostiles one through six. Angel 2, take, hostiles three and four. I'll take one and two, then we'll move onto the others."

"Roger that." Runt said, and Adam could hear the grin on Runt's face. "Dropping stealth in 3...2...1!" He called out, and Adam couldn't help but grin as they heard the surprised voices of the enemy helicopter pilots.

Adam was now waiting at the back of the helicopter with everyone else, as he listened the the radio traffic over the armor's headset. This armor wasn't what he was used to, but he had to admit that Ryan Brown had done a good job with what he had to work with. Now though, he'll be able to give Ryan a full report on how the armor worked.

"Angel Flight." Adam heard another voice come across the radio, and it took him a second to place it. "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."

The radio was silent as everyone waited to hear what Adam would do. The only time Adam gave command over to someone else was when he was too busy to command himself, and that was only to Logan. Not to mention this was Eve on the radio now, and everyone was wondering how Adam would respond to his 'replacement' trying to take command.

"Affirmative Angel Command." Adam said after a moment to think about things. With the loss of the link, Adam couldn't know what everyone else was thinking, doing, and where they were. They'd have to go 'old school' for now. "You have C&C."

"Roger." Eve said over the radio. "Angel Command has Control. Angels 2 and 5 have dropped three of the enemy. You're clear to begin your drop Angel 1."

"Roger that." Billy said, and Adam felt the helicopter accelerate, and bank hard to the right. At the same time the door started to lower, the two Army crewmen assigned to the Chinook were hooking up the fast rope lines, and were getting ready to toss them out the back.

Adam looked out the back and saw that they were flying over smaller trees bare of leaves, he nodded to himself, then waited. He felt the Chinook start to slow, and as soon as he saw the red light switch to green, he took a short run, and jumped out of the back, not waiting for the fast rope lines. Behind him he knew that Juan, Jory, Robin, Khan, and even Fluffy all did the same.

Adam held his rifle tight to his chest as he fell, making sure that it didn't snag anything as he crashed through the trees. He hit the ground hard and rolled, silently cursing as he felt his left ankle twist, since he'd misjudged when his feet would hit the ground. Another sign that he hadn't really learned his new, taller body yet. He came out of the roll onto a knee, brought his rifle up, and started scanning for bad guys. He already felt his ankle healing, and knew it wouldn't bother him much, especially as he pushed the pain from his mind.

"Clear!" He said quietly over the radio, and waited until he heard everyone else report in. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flash of black fur as Fluffy ran off, no doubt about to make some Ashwood troops have a very bad day.

"Khan, Robin... go!" He said, and heard those two move off after Fluffy, then motioned for the rest to follow him.

They hadn't gone fifty feet, when they started to hear gun fire in front of them. "Actual," Eve came over the radio. "friendlies are taking fire from ground troops. Half a click to your northeast."

"Roger that." Adam growled over the radio. He made a split second decision, and decided they didn't have time to be cautious. Adam stood up, and started to run.

As he started up the hill that he knew where Billings was at. He activated the loudspeaker system on his armor, "Friendlies!" he called out as he opened fire on troops that were trying to get around to the back side of the hill. "Joe! Adrian! Keep our six clear."

Adam launched himself over a couple of downed trees, rolled and fired at someone he saw that had made it too close. "Where's Billings!" He called out.

"HERE!" A man called out as he opened fire again. "We gotta get the hell outta here!"

Juan and Jory moved forward and started to help keep the bad guy's heads down. Adam looked around at the frightened group of people, and took a count. Twenty-two... that's a lot. Thanks to his eidetic memory, he knew almost everyone there from pictures he'd seen on Jack's desk. "Shit..." He muttered to himself as he started to strip off his armor, at least the chest and back protection.

"Scott!" He called out to the man, one of Jack's younger brothers. "Put this on!" He tossed it to the man who immediately started doing what he was told. "Juan! Jory! Get over here, and out of your armor. Juan, yours goes to Connie; Jory, yours goes to Sarah." Adam moved up and started to fire his rifle as even more troops started trying to make it up the hill.

"Air's clear!" He heard Will call over the radio.

Less than a second later, Eve's voice was heard. "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."

"Fuck." Adam cursed as he heard a large explosion from the south.

"We got the armor!" Runt said with almost a gleeful tone.

Adam looked over to the agent he was next to. "Get them ready to move!" Billings gave a hard nod, then backed up, still firing.

Two long minutes passed with Adam firing at everything that moved below him. He was about to call out that they were about to get over run, when he heard Billings behind him. "We're good!"

Adam took a knee and kept firing, then got to his feet, keeping himself as small a target as possible as he started to back up. He had almost reached the group when he felt the round hit him in the right shoulder, which lurched a bit forward.

"God damn it!" He shouted, as he looked. It went right through, and was already starting to heal, but he knew his right arm was useless for a while. He grabbed his rifle in his left, and kept firing even as he felt someone grab the back of his shirt and started to pull him backwards. Once they started down the hill, he flipped over and came to his feet, only to see a man in Army BDUs looking at him. "Thanks Corporal." Adam said as he recognized Jack's nephew, who had joined the Army Rangers. "I'm good." Adam said.

The man nodded, turned and picked up a boy of no more than eight years, and started to run. Adam spotted a girl about ten who was frozen in fright. "Adrian!" He called out, when the man looked, he pointed to the girl, then at his now useless arm. Adrian nodded, slung his rifle, ran over and grabbed the girl. Adam took up rear guard, as they all ran for their lives.

"You know... I got a hell of a hard on right now." Juan said as Adam slid in next to him.

Adam almost stopped and looked incredulously at the now fifteen-year-old next to him. "What?!"

Juan laughed and blushed a bit. "Well I do!"

Adam just shook his head as he sighted in, and fired again. "We're not gonna make it to the chopper." Adam said with a sigh. He glanced behind him and saw that it was only him and Juan in sight. "At least the others made it out."

"Adam get your head down!" Adam heard Will say over the radio, and he and Juan ducked down, Juan used both arms to protect his head, while Adam could only move his left arm to do the same. A moment later the woods in front of them exploded in a cacophony of fire and tree parts. "GOD I LOVE THE HELLFIRE!" Adam barely heard Will's call over the ringing in his ears.

"Angel!" Eve cried out over the radio. "You're clear! Get the hell outta there!"

Adam jumped to his feet, but had to drag Juan to his. "God damn..." Juan moaned out as he looked down at the large piece of tree that was protruding from his right leg, "that fucking hurts."

Adam threw an arm around Juan and started to move. "Come on!" Together they hobbled/ran towards where they heard the Chinook's guns firing.

"Angel 1 on the ground!" He heard Billy say.

"Cover us!" Jory cried out, as he started to run with the other towards the helicopter.

Adam and Juan were running as best they could; the Chinook just coming into sight between the trees when Adam felt himself being lifted up. Adam looked and saw Khan had also picked up Juan, and was now running full tilt towards the Chinook. They were just about to burst through the wood line when Robin dropped down from a tree in front of them. The small ferret fired two arrows before he hit the ground, and then another as he stood there. "GO!" he cried out as he drew another arrow and fired.

Khan lowered a shoulder and pushed them through the trees as they ran. The next thing Adam knew, they were flying up the ramp into the back of the Chinook. He looked back and saw Robin shoot another arrow. He turned and ran into the chopper, just as Billy was starting to take off. Adam saw three men burst through the tree line and start to fire on the Chinook. Before the tail gunner could move the minigun to fire back, Fluffy lept onto their backs, throwing them to the ground, as she ran towards the helicopter. Billy kept gaining altitude and Adam was worried that Fluffy wouldn't make it. He then saw her jump and land just inside the back of the helicopter. The tail gunner reached out and grabbed her, just to make sure that she would make it. Once she was sure Fluffy was in, she opened up with her mini gun, taking out even more soldiers as they ran out into the clearing.

"Engaging stealth!" Billy called out. "Angel Flight is clear!"

"Billy!" Adam called out as he pulled off his helmet. "Get us to Maine ASAP!"

"If we go top speed, we'll outpace the Hind." Billy said from the front.

Adam was about to reply when Juan let out an earth-shaking scream. His eyes whipped around just in time to see Khan had put one huge hand on Juan's upper thigh, and with the other hand broke the piece of tree that was stuck into Juan's leg, close to the skin. He quickly packed the wound and tied it down tight. "Do it Billy! We got several wounded back here." Adam replied.

"Okay!" Billy called out, and Adam could feel the Chinook surge forward.

"Corporal Tyson!" Adam called out to the tail gunner.

"Sir?" She said as she finished stowing the big minigun.

"I need names, ages, and conditions of everyone we just brought on board." Adam said as he moved over to where Jory was sitting up against the bulkhead, two young teens kneeling in front of him. He didn't wait for a reply from the corporal, knowing his order would be followed out. "Jory?" He asked as he got close.

The two teens turned at his voice, and Adam gasped seeing the blood all over Jory's front. "He... He jumped in front of us." The one said as Adam physically moved the boy out of the way so he could kneel down in front of his brother.

"Jory?" He asked softly, causing the blond haired teen to open his eyes. "You know Adam, getting shot sucks." He said slowly and softly.

"Yeah it does bro." Adam asked looking over the damage. "How bad?" He asked.

"Pretty bad." Jory sighed. "I think I got hit four or five times. In the back."

"Okay, let's lay you down." Adam said as he stood and looked around for help. Unfortunately, Juan was up and already working on someone, with Khan and Robin helping him. While he helped Jory lay on his stomach, he looked at the two scared teens that were there. "You two are gonna have to help me." He didn't wait to see what their reaction was going to be, just tore away the BDU jacket that Jory was wearing. He heard the two teens gasp as Jory's exposed back showed six holes, and a lot of blood.

"Here!" Adam heard, and looked up to see one of the other crew members drop a medical bag next to Adam then move on to help others.

"Open that up." Adam ordered, then waited. When neither one of them moved, he raised his voice. "NOW!" That got them moving, and a moment later they had the bag open. "Okay, I need the big bottle of water." He didn't bother trying to explain that it was actually saline. When one of the teens handed him the bottle, he quickly pulled the top off with his teeth, and started to pour it over Jory's back, cleaning off the blood so he could see the entry wounds. "Okay, now I need bandages... lots of them. I want you to open them up and hand them to me as I ask for them." Adam said as he put the bottle down. "I only got one working arm right now. I need you to help me with the bandages."

Adam tried to start up a conversation to try and ease the boy's mind. "What's your name?"

"Jack." The boy answered softly, as he managed to get to get a couple of packages opened.

"Hello Jack, My name's Adam. This is Jory, as I'm sure you've figured out already." Adam said as he started to probe the bullet wounds to see if the bullet was close to the surface or not. Of course that caused Jory to groan in pain, but he didn't move.

"Yeah I did..." Jack said softly as he watched what Adam was doing.

"Okay, the bullets are deep inside, so what we're gonna do is bandage him up as best we can, and then make sure he doesn't move much." Adam said as he reached out for some of the bandages, and started to place them over the wounds. "Grab me some tape." He said and a moment later, a role of medical tape was thrust into his hand. "Ummmm." Adam said, while handing it to Jack, who understood immediately.

Taking the tape, Jack tore it into sections, and helped Adam to put them over the bandages. When they were done, Adam leaned down and whispered to Jory. "I know it sucks bro, but that's the best I can do until we get to Maine. Try not to move, just in case the bullets are floating around inside."

"Gotcha.... I think I'm just gonna go to sleep." Jory said softly, and a moment later, he did just that. Adam stood up then got Jack to help him strap Jory down to the seat.

"Thanks guys." Adam said as he washed off his bloodied hand as well as he could in the remaining saline. He then looked at the teen he didn't know the name of. "What's your name?"

"Duncan." He said simply as he looked around.

"Ahh. So, one named for your great-uncle, and the other for your great-grandfather." Adam said with a smile.

"How'd you know that?" Duncan asked in shock.

"Let's just say, I've been able to spend a bit of time with your uncle."

"Wait... are you the ones that rescued him?" Jack asked with wide eyes.

"Yup." Adam said with a smile. "But, we can talk about that later. How about we go see what we can do to help?"

"What can we do?" Jack asked. Being the older of the two, he was taking charge.

"See if any of the younger children are hurt, and if not, get them into the seats near the front, and try to keep them calm. The flight is calm right now, but it'll get bumpy soon since I'm pretty sure we're redlining the engines." Adam said, to which the two teens nodded and quickly moved off.

Adam then made his way over to Juan. "Whatcha got?" Juan looked up from where he was working on a woman. It took Adam a moment, but then he recognized her, it was Jack's youngest sister Sarah, the one that Jory gave up his armor for. "She took a large caliber bullet to the chest. The armor stopped the others, but this one got through." Juan looked up for a moment, and stared right into Adam's eyes. "She needs a hospital, like yesterday."

"Do what you can bro. We're going as quick as this bird can fly." Adam said as Juan went back to work trying to stabilize the woman.

"Let's just hope it's quick enough." Juan muttered as he was hand deep into the woman's chest.

"Here." Someone said, and Adam felt more bandages being applied to his shoulder. He looked up and saw Deacon, the war reporter there with a sad smile. "I know you heal quickly, but you're still bleeding."

"Thanks." Adam said as he put his good hand on the bandages, and allowed Deacon to help put his arm in a sling, then immobilize it. Deacon gave him a nod as Adam then moved past him to where Agent Billings was sitting next to his principle. "Mrs. Bryce." Adam said as a way of greeting.

"I'm fine." She said somewhat shakily. "Thanks to you young men."

"I'm just glad we could help." Adam said as he looked down at Agent Billings, then back to Jack's elderly mother. "Ma'am, why don't we get you up there with the rest of the uninjured." He said as he took her arm and gently, but firmly helped her from her seat. He made sure she didn't look anywhere else other than where the rest of the family was seated. As she sat back down, Adam spoke softly. "As soon as I know how everyone else is, I'll be back to let you know, okay?" She just nodded, and closed her eyes.

Adam quickly moved back over to where Agent Billings was sitting, grabbing a medical sheet as he went. He gently laid the man down, then covered him with the sheet. "You did your duty Agent." Adam said softly in way of a prayer. "Your principle made it to safety." He then reached up, and used his hand to close the man's eyes, before bringing the sheet all the way up and covering the man's head.

Adam sighed as he stood up. Looking around he saw Jacob Bryce, the Army Ranger nephew of Jack, slowly raise a sheet over the head of one of his team mates. While they may have gotten the family out, the price that was paid was terrible. Adam made his way up to the cockpit and leaned in next to Billy. "Get on the horn... Let them know we're coming in hot with casualties." Billy just nodded grimly as Adam went back into the back.

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