Castle Roland

New Beginnings
Book I

by Roland


Chapter 8

Published: 8 Apr 14

New Beginnings

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

All Rights Reserved

Thursday November 8th 0300 (3:00 am) Mountain Standard Time

Thursday November 8th 0500 (5:00 am) Eastern Standard Time

UNIT Base, Utah

New Beginnings LogoJuan woke slowly. He knew the drugs in him were trying to keep him under, but, if there was one thing Juan was, it was stubborn. He fought hard to overcome the drugs, and finally, he was able to open his eyes.

The first thing he did was to take stock of where he was, which was a room in the hospital ward of the UNIT base. He then wondered if he was restrained; which he wasn't, and if there was anything missing. Thankfully he had all of his limbs, so all in all, things seemed good.

He moved his head slowly, and hissed as the pain hit him. It took a moment for him to get it under control, but that was all it took to have Adrian standing next to him looking down at him with concern. As soon as Juan saw that look, he had to fight back the anger. Juan knew there was nothing wrong with Adrian being concerned, he just could not stand the look of pity.

"Please don't." Juan said as he turned his head. He still did not really understand other people caring about him.

"Too bad." Adrian said in a soft, yet firm voice.

Juan's head snapped back to look at Adrian with wide eyes. "Get used to it, Juan. People care about you, I care about you, and I will not hide the fact that I am worried."

Juan turned his head away again, making sure the man couldn't see the tears that started to fall. He didn't know if it was the medication, what the man said, or his brush with death, maybe a combination of all three, but Juan was very emotional right then.

"Juan…" Adrian said in a much softer voice. After Juan didn't turn back to him, the man spoke again. "Juan, look at me."

When Juan still didn't turn to look at Adrian, the man gently reached over, and turned Juan's head. Of course, Juan could have fought him, but he didn't. He simply kept his eyes closed, trying not to let the tears fall from behind them.

"Juan, I want you to listen to me very closely." Adrian started out in a very soft voice. "It took me years to learn a very valuable lesson. Something I wished I could have known when I was your age. You should NEVER be ashamed of your tears. NEVER!" Adrian said forcefully.

"But, real soldiers don't cry." Juan said in a broken voice.

"Who told you that?" Adrian asked softly, though inside, he was seething. This is the type of bullshit that could kill these kids.

"It's just the way it is." Juan said confused. "We're bred to be soldiers. We're bred for war. How could we be real soldiers if we cried all the time."

Adrian took Juan's hand in his own, and waited for several seconds. When the wait got to be too long for Juan, he opened his eyes, and saw the man's deep eyes staring back at him. That's when Adrian spoke, making sure Juan saw the tears that were falling from his own eyes. "There is nothing wrong with crying. It helps to cleanse the soul. Soldiers need it more than most, but most are too stubborn or stupid to realize it. I know you're not stupid…" Adrian left the rest unsaid, there was no need to finish.

The two held eyes for a few moments, but before either of them could say anything, the moment was broken when the door to the room opened. They both looked over and saw Chang and Adam standing there. Adam with a soft smile on his face, "Hey there, little brother… How're you feeling?"

"Like I got shot… how do you think I feel?" Juan said a little testily. Adrian stepped back slightly, surprised by how quickly Juan's attitude changed.

Both Chang and Adam seemed completely unfazed by the change, if they saw it. Chang started to look Juan over, while Adam came over and sat on the side of the bed opposite of where Adrian was standing.

"Well, that's probably because you did." Adam said light-heartedly. "And by the way… I have a message from Logan." Adam paused during which Juan groaned loudly. "He says that you are to follow ALL of Mom's orders, and not do ANYTHING unless she clears it first."

"Anything? What about…" Juan started to ask, only to get interrupted by Chang.

"YES!" Chang said seriously. "Anything at all. And if there is anything left when Logan gets done, then I will take what is left. I will not allow all the hard work that Mother did to save you, to go to waste because you do not want to follow directions."

Juan looked back over at Adrian and smiled sadly. "Sorry." He said quietly.

"It's okay, Juan, I understand. You don't like the feeling of being helpless, let alone knowing that others know it, and you can see that they know."

Juan's eyes grew wide in shock. "How'd you know?"

Adrian took Juan's hand in his own, and gently squeezed it. "Because I am exactly the same way."

Adam couldn't help but laugh as he walked over and threw his arm over Adrian's shoulder. "You see, Juan, you're not as unusual as you might like to think."

Choosing to ignore Adam's quip. Juan looked back at Adrian. "So how bad is it?"

Adrian looked down at Juan and shook his head. "Well, I can honestly say that you should have been dead before your mom got to you. Then you should have been dead before you got to the Ranch. But your stubborn ass just doesn't know how to die, does it?"

"Someday I will, I know that. But I ain't about to let that stop me." Juan said, then looked over at Chang. "So, how long am I down for?"

"You came very close to death, which is difficult for someone like us. You had a large caliber bullet pass through both lungs, nick your aortic artery, bounce off your shoulder, then head south. It took out everything between your shoulder and your hip. In other words my favorite youngest brother…" He looked at Juan with a rare smirk. "You got royally fucked up."

Adam crossed his arms while chuckling at Chang's words. "Until Mom says otherwise. The last she told me is probably close to a week."

Juan dropped back into the bed and sighed heavily. "Just great…" Juan paused for a moment, then looked back at Adrian. "Did we win? Did we save the kids on the buses?

Adrian smiled and nodded. "Yeah, we did. Most of them anyways. Last I heard, only four died, and they died in the crash. There are three more in critical condition, but your mom says they should survive. There were twenty-seven children your age and younger in the front bus, that survived. I had a chance to speak to Levi, and we both agreed, what you did saved most, if not all of them."

When Adrian spoke, Juan didn't miss the admiration in the man's eyes, something he was not used to seeing directed at him. Being uncomfortable with that, he looked over at Adam. "Sorry I'll be out of commission for a bit."

"Well… Just think of it this way. You don't have to deal with all the shit going on here." Adam said with a grin.

"Like what?" Juan said in disgust. The thought of having to be stuck in a bed doing nothing at all, for lord knows how long put him in a miserable mood.

"Let's see. Last night, while you were taking your little nap. We started bringing in a lot of personnel and supplies. Will, Billy, and a couple other pilots were flying the Chinook and Hueys almost all night long. Everything was dropped off in the middle of the Great Salt Lake, and then transferred by the helicopters here. The Chinook was mainly bringing people here, since it was easy enough to black out the back, so no one knew where they were going."

"Oh, by the way…" Adam said as he moved to a chair and sat down. "You remember that Donnie, Emily, Jeremy, Tyler, four augmented strike teams, and the G-6 Assault team were up in Montana, right?" Juan nodded. "Well, yesterday, just after Logan left, all of them except Donnie, Emily, and ten of the strike team members showed up. And, just so you know, Jeremy said he would be down later to talk to you."

"Oh great…" Juan said miserably. He didn't want everyone to see him like this.

"Now, back to the new people. We're now at full capacity, and a little more. The old server room under the lowest level has become a tent city, holding over five hundred troops, both Russian and American. They also brought in a shit load of equipment. Everything from more guns and ammo, to computer equipment, to medical supplies. We're now completely set up to act as a secure facility."

"Not to mention they brought in four field hospitals. Three of which are still completely packed; however, they unpacked one, and fully outfitted our medical center with what they had." Chang said with a smile.

Adam then reached into his pocket and pulled out a modern, to this world, data pad. "Okay. This is something that is top of the line here, although we're finding it barely passable. They call it a 'Hand Held Tablet'." He tapped on it for a few seconds, before he walked over to Juan's bed, and showed him a map of the base, and the areas around it.

"Now, you set up the sniper nests for the old base. So, what I want you to do is set up the perimeter defenses for this base. Even though you're on bed rest, doesn't mean you don't have anything to do. I'll have some of the new soldiers come down here, when Mom says you can have visitors, and you can show them what you came up with. They all know that your words are as good as mine, and Jack made it very clear to all the commanders that this is our base, and they are the guests. Anything that has to do with security is run through us."

Juan was happier now. At least he had something to do. Even if it wasn't killing other people. "Who's acting as base commander?"

"I'm gonna ask Dad to do it. If he doesn't want it, then I'll probably tap Jeremy or Tyler. Although they're better in the field, I need someone I can trust running the base defenses. However, until that's set up, I'm counting on you to come up with the defenses, and the rotations. Keep everyone out of sight, but I want to know if a flea farts within a mile of this place. With the way things are going, we're about to paint a hell of a target on this base.

"General Casey, report to the Command Center, immediately." Alvin's voice sounded over the speakers.

Adam sighed, stood up, and started to walk from the room. "I'll have people coming to see you soon." He said as he started to walk from the room.

Just as he got to the door, Juan stopped him. "Adam?" When Adam turned around, Juan looked at him just like the young boy he really was. "Please don't be too mad at Logan. I know you don't like what he did… no one does, even Logan himself. But you didn't see into that kid's mind. I would have just killed him and saved everyone the trouble. Logan's trying to save him."

Adam simply stared into Juan's eyes without any emotion. Finally after a moment, Adam nodded, then turned and walked away.

Thursday November 8th 0330 (3:30 am) Mountain Standard Time

Thursday November 8th 0530 (5:30 am) Eastern Standard Time

UNIT Base, Utah

Adam walked into the Command Center and was surprised to see Jack there, although the fact that he was in sweatpants, and a T-shirt made it clear he had just woken up. "What's going on?" He asked.

"Asswood's about to address the public. He's stealing a page out of our book, it's going out on TV, radio, and the emergency broadcast networks." Adam had a sinking feeling in his gut as the picture on the screen, showing the official seal of the President of the United States, was replaced by a feed coming from the Oval Office, with President Ashwood sitting behind The Resolute Desk. The room was silent as President Ashwood started to speak.

"My fellow Americans. It's with heavy heart that I must come before you this morning to report on a series of grievous travesties that have befallen our great nation and threaten to destroy the very foundations that our fore-fathers have given up their lives to protect."

"As many of you are aware, two days ago Americans from around the country took part in a right that has existed for us since the foundation of our nation over two hundred years ago. That being the right to make your opinion known, and vote for who you feel should be the President of the United States. Although the vast majority of you have exercised this right in an honest, legitimate manner; there are those out there who would seek to destroy this privilege by perverting and destroying it from the inside out. By taking any means necessary to try to manipulate the system to get what they are looking for at any cost."

"Some of you may have had concerns about not hearing anything from any of my top aides or myself over the last twenty-four hours. I would like to take a few moments to explain why that was necessary. Although it is clear that several fundamental differences in opinion exist between myself and my leading opposition, Jackson Bryce, going into Tuesday's election I was confident that at least one belief that we shared together was the importance of allowing our democratic system to work, and the voice of the people to be heard. Unfortunately, as I later learned, I could not have been more wrong."

"Less than two hours after the polls opened Tuesday morning, my administration began to receive reports about irregularities in a few of the polling locations around the country. These reports alleged very blatant violations on the part of Bryce supporters, even to the point of threatening physical harm to voters that did not vote for Bryce."

"At first, I was very skeptical as to the validity of these accusations. Although Jackson Bryce has shown himself to be an international terrorist, I felt that not even he would stoop so low as to try to bully and strong-arm the very people he was hoping to lead. As the day went on, and as the reports continued to flow in, and the severity and magnitude of the accusations increased, it quickly became clear that this was not something that could be ignored. As such, even before the polls had closed Tuesday evening, I ordered my administration to launch an immediate and full investigation into these matters using any and all resources necessary. This was their top priority."

"A team of over one hundred investigators worked tirelessly through the night gathering and collecting information. It is a true symbol to their hard work and dedication that by the following morning they already had been able to assemble some rather compelling hard evidence. During most of yesterday morning and early afternoon, the Vice President and myself listened to report after report outlining a deep seeded attempt by Bryce supporters to forcefully commandeer the national elections. In fact, we have found strong evidence that in at least 30 states, Bryce supporters made use of highly illegal tactics to try to steer the election in their favor, that's over half of the states in our great nation. We have even found evidence that Bryce has enlisted the aid of several Middle Eastern countries who are well known for their hatred of our democratic system, and who would love nothing more than to see the United States of America destroyed."

"What's worse, is that once the Bryce fanatics learned of the investigations we were performing, they had no issue with trying to turn the nation's attention away from what they knew would soon be exposed by having a number of their insurgents pose as federal agents and slaughter hundreds of innocent school children in Breckenridge, Texas. Although some of the initial reports suggested federal agents might have been involved, I can assure you that I have personally spoke to the directors of every agency, and every single one of their agents have been accounted for. Further, although our investigation in Breckenridge is still in it's early stages, I can report that the uniforms worn by most of them were clearly fake imitations, in some cases with logos being nothing more than pieces of paper taped to their clothing."

"As if that was not enough, Bryce fanatics attempted to destroy the nation's power grid, and in some parts of the East Coast, succeeded. Millions of American citizens are still without power this morning as a result."

"By the end of the day, yesterday, it was all too clear to myself and the rest of my administration that Bryce and his fanatical supporters have declared war on not only myself and my administration, but every man, woman, and child that calls themselves an American citizen. It is also clear that his roots of corruption go far deeper than even I felt possible. With all that being said however, let me make one thing abundantly clear to each and every one of you. Not only as your President, but also as your Commander in Chief, I promise you that we will not allow this godless, international terrorist to succeed in his plans to destroy our democratic society and turn our great country into a third world country. The full force and might of the United States military and all federal agencies will do everything in their power to stop not only Bryce, but anyone who might try to support him."

"At this point, I believe it goes without saying that the fraudulent, and highly manipulated national elections from Tuesday must be declared null and void. If Jackson Bryce feels that he can use violence and intimidation to take over this country, he is in for a very rude awakening. Once the current crisis is over, and once that it can be guaranteed that it can be done safely, and without manipulation to the American people, a new national election will be held."

"In the meantime, we must deal with the much larger threat that is before us. A group of people that have demonstrated that they will stop at nothing to destroy us, even if it means slaughtering innocent children. As such, until the full scope of this threat can be ascertained and dealt with, I have no choice but to take the actions that I have taken. Minutes before I began my address to you, the American people, I've signed several emergency executive orders which, among other things, give power and authority to every national agency to bring Bryce and any of his insurgents to justice. This situation is now the number one priority of all agencies."

"The executive orders also call for the immediate emergency lock-down of our country, and the institution of martial law. The next several hours to days are liable to be very chaotic; as it is impossible to predict what actions the fanatics will take once they learn that their attempt to take over the country has failed. As such, for your own safety, and the safety of those around you, all American citizens are being ordered to remain in your home or current place of residence. All airports, trains, and other means of national transportation are being temporarily shut down. All interstate highways are being closed. Any truck driver or other commercial transportation driver will have thirty minutes to find a safe place to park and wait out this national emergency."

"I know this is asking a lot of the American people, but I ask that you please bear with us through this time of crises. With hundreds of children dead, and millions of American citizens without power; we did not start this crisis, but I promise you, we will end the crisis. Together, we will stand united and send a loud and clear message that will echo around the world; America will not go down easily. Any bully that feels they can just walk in and take over has another thing coming to them. As is stated in our own pledge of allegiance, we are 'one nation under God, indivisible', and standing together we shall overcome any challenge thrown to us."

"I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to listen to this, and for helping us deal with this situation in a quick, timely manner by remaining in your homes. Please understand that this is only a temporary measure, one that I hope to be able to rescind in a quick, timely manner, but one that will stay in place for as long as needed. May God bless the United States of America. Thank you."

Shortly after the speech started, Alvin and Simon both ran from the room. By the time the speech was over, they were back, both of them carrying an armload of equipment. Right behind them were two of Jack's boys, Andy and Steven. Nine-year-old Andy was carrying Jack's best suit, while Steven had some other clothes in his arms.

"What's going on?" Jack asked as he looked over at two of his boys.

"It's simple, Jack." Alvin said as he stopped and turned to the President elect. "You're going to respond, and you're gonna respond in a big way."

Logan called over from where he was working at his terminal. "Jack. I'm working on a speech for you, or would you rather wing it?"

Before Jack could respond, Adam was standing next to him. "Jack, I can't stand politics… personally I would rather just shoot most of the slimy assholes and be done with it. Logan on the other hand, is one of the best people I have ever seen when it comes to playing politics, and playing dirty."

Jack nodded his head consideringly. After a moment to consider, Jack nodded. "Let's see what you come up with, Logan; I'll go off the cuff if I need to."

"Okay, then be ready in twenty minutes. We're gonna have your entire family there with you, as well as Tom and Trent. We'll do it in the office you're using in the back, and we'll do it big. This may be the last time we can risk sending a signal out from here. We know 'Asswood' has people that are damned good working for him; we keep transmitting, and eventually they will be able to back trace us. But as I said, we'll deal with that when it comes."

Jack nodded, and went into his office behind Alvin and Simon. Andy and Steven were right behind him. Once they were all inside, and Steven had closed the door, Adam looked at Logan. "Okay, what have you got up your sleeve?"

Logan and Adam just looked at each other for a while. It was obvious that a conversation was going on between the two of them mind to mind. Their faces were somewhat cold and hard to read. A chill had settled in the room.

"Okay.. okay… you're right. So… here's what I'm cooking up." Logan started then went into details that had Adam grinning like a cat within moments.

When Logan was done, Adam walked over, bent down and kissed him hard on the lips. "You're a sneaky conniving bastard… and that's what I love and sometimes hate about you." He then looked around at everyone that was watching them. "You heard the plan, let's get it going."

Logan looked shocked at Adam for a moment. With how cold things had been between them since the night before, he was shocked at what Adam said. He wasn't complaining, but it still shocked him. That was until he heard Adam's voice in his head. 'I'm still pissed at you. But like I just told you, Juan made me understand a few things. We'll talk later.' Logan nodded then went back to work.

Thursday November 8th 0410 (4:10 am) Mountain Standard Time

Thursday November 8th 0610 (6:10 am) Eastern Standard Time

UNIT Base, Utah

Things were not in place as fast as Logan would have liked. Instead of only twenty minutes to set things up, it took about thirty. However, the extra time was needed, so, he wasn't too upset about it. He, Adam, and several others stood in the command center watching as they once again broke into all the major news networks, and hijacked their rebroadcast of Ashwood's speech.

The reason they weren't ready, was it took him longer than expected to hack into the power grid and make it more difficult for them to shut off the power that Ashwood had recently restored so that he could make his broadcast. Logan couldn't stop Ashwood from being able to cut the power, but he could, and did, make it harder on them. Logan was sure as soon as they broke into the communications network, Ashwood would try to cut the power again. In order for Jack to be able to be heard, they needed the power to stay on for a bit of time.

Jack was sitting behind the desk in his suit, thankfully some of their personal belongings had arrived earlier in the day, so they had some nice clothes to wear. Jack was surrounded by his family, the older boys spread out behind him, while Linda was sitting in a wheelchair, with Mark and Paul, the 18-month-old twins, on her lap, and Janet standing right beside her. Janet was wearing a white lab coat and had a stethoscope around her neck. Chris still wore his shoulder sling, and it was obvious there was still a large bandage under his shirt.

Standing behind the boys were Tom and Trent, both in their full military uniforms, each with their hands resting on the boys' shoulders. The real interesting thing though was the six Genesis kids who stood next to Trent and Tom.

Logan had gotten six of them, all of them between twelve and fourteen. He had dressed them in normal street clothes, and instructed them on how to act. Chang had taken a few moments to put some bandages on them, and even a cast on one of their arms. All in all, they looked very good for what they were there for.

Jack was playing his part as well, although Logan doubted there was much playing there. He was pissed and it showed. "Good morning, my fellow Americans." He started out, a fire in his eyes.

"A short time ago, you all were witness to an address given by Mr. Ashwood. I can no longer call him President. His actions have brought such disgrace and dishonor to the title I cannot even stand the thought of uttering that title and his name together."

He paused for a moment, but the fire never left his eyes, if anything, the fire grew bigger. "Mr. Ashwood, you have the gall to try and label me a terrorist? You dare to try and lay the assault that happened in Breckenridge Texas, at my feet. You DARE to try and say that it was I, that tried to murder those who stand in this room? Yes, Mr. Ashwood, your people failed. There WERE survivors from the massacre, and some of them, those that can, stand before you now. We also have some of your agents, those that were not killed when loyal forces of the United States came to the aid of a town you decided to try and destroy."

"No, sir… you will NOT lay your own activities at my feet. You have managed to cut off the East from the West. You are the one who has cut power to the East Coast. We know this, and soon everyone will know. We also know what you are doing in Orlando and Newark. Trust me, sir. You will NOT get away with what you are trying to do."

"We know what you are doing, we know what you are planning. We know who your allies are, and we know what role they are supposed to play in your little coup. You will NOT succeed."

"To all those people who are currently and will soon be living under the tyrannical rule of Mr. Ashwood, please know this. Times will be difficult for a while. Please believe that your fellow Americans, and their allies will be coming to rescue you soon. I ask that you hang in there, and pray. Pray that we can come and rescue you before Mr. Ashwood and his very own brand of the Gestapo can do as they are planning."

"To those who are following this madman, I suggest you do one of two things; throw down your weapons, and help your fellow Americans stand up to this wanna be dictator. Or you can make peace quickly with whatever God you believe in. Beg for his mercy, because when we get to you, we will NOT show any. Anyone who wishes to destroy the freedom we all cherish will see no mercy from anyone."

"Undoubtedly, Mr. Ashwood is screaming right now, trying to get the power shut off again. However, before he can, Mr. Ashwood, I have a message directly for you. It was only yesterday that someone reminded me about this one. It was something that Martin Luther King Jr. said. 'The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.'"

Jack paused, his eyes never wavering from the camera. Finally he finished, "Mr. Ashwood. You now know EXACTLY where I stand. Directly in opposition to your attempted destruction of this great country."

Jack held eye contact with the camera until he got the signal that the feed had been cut. Adam looked over to Logan and smiled a feral smile. "Damn… that was good."

Thursday November 8th 0700 (7:00 am) Mountain Standard Time

Thursday November 8th 0900 (9:00 am) Eastern Standard Time

UNIT Base, Utah

Joe smiled when he walked into the hospital room and saw Juan lying there working away on the datapad he had in front of him. Without even looking up Juan spoke softly. "Hi Dad."

"Hey Juan." Joe said as he walked over and sat down on the edge of the bed. "I brought something for you."

When Juan looked up, Joe pulled what he had from behind his back. He saw Juan's eyes light up, then he looked frantically around the room. Seeing no one around that could see him, he reached out and grabbed his teddy bear Rambo from Joe's hand and hugged it tightly to his chest. Tears sprung from his eyes as he hugged the bear, and looked up at Joe. "Thanks, Daddy."

Joe was one of the few that really understood Juan, and who Juan would allow himself to let down his guard around. To see his boy crying, while holding his bear, made Joe's heart fill with joy. His little boy was actually taking a moment and 'being' a little boy. Joe leaned in and wrapped his arms around Juan gently, making sure not to hurt him anymore, and simply held him as the boy cried.

After a few minutes, Juan's tears subsided, and he looked up at Joe as the man wiped the tears away. "Thanks, Dad."

Joe nodded, then spoke softly. "It's okay, Juan, you needed that."

"You don't think I'm a baby?" He asked softly.

"Yes I do." Joe said and Juan's eyes snapped up to see his face, and the grin that was plastered across it. "No matter how old you are, you'll always be my little boy."

Juan couldn't help but purr in contentment as he snuggled up into Joe's chest. Finally after they were both silent for almost a moment, Juan spoke, while still being held in Joe's arms. "I'm sorry I scared you guys."

"I'm not." Joe said simply, and Juan's eyes went wide as he looked up at his dad, questions running through his eyes.

"Juan, I know you, probably better than you know yourself. You are one of the kindest, most gentle, and selfless people I have ever met. When I heard what was going on, I knew there was nothing that was going to stop you from putting yourself in between the bad guys and those kids. I know that were it to come to it, like it did, you would rather sacrifice your own life, than let an innocent child die." Joe paused while he gently squeezed Juan in his arms. "You know I never want to see you get hurt, but you have made me so proud of you, that I can hardly stand it."

Juan had tears running down his face again, but Joe knew he needed to wrap this up before Juan had too much. He gave him another squeeze, then helped him back into his bed fully. "You concentrate on getting better, and I'll keep your mom off your back. Okay?"

"Deal." Juan said as he snuggled up to Rambo. Joe turned and started to walk out. As he reached the door, he heard Juan say softly, "Thanks, Daddy."

Joe turned smiled and nodded. "You're welcome, my boy." He then turned and walked out of the room and back to the Command Center. He had a lot on his mind, other than his little boy in the room he just left.

Thursday November 8th 0815 (8:15 am) Mountain Standard Time

Thursday November 8th 1015 (10:15 am) Eastern Standard Time

UNIT Base, Utah

"Okay, now that everyone's here, why don't I take a moment to make sure you all know each other." Jack started, as he looked around the packed conference room. It wasn't yet nine am, and already the day had been fuller than he would have liked. He took a deep breath, and decided to start with the most fun first. "I know a lot of you have questions about the boys that are here, and are running a lot of the aspects of this base. I know you've heard rumors about who, and what they are. I have decided to allow their commanding officer, General Adam Casey, to explain who and what they are, as well as who his command staff is. One final note before I turn this over to Adam. I have placed my full trust, and support in these fine young men and women. They not only saved my life, but the lives of my family members, in some cases, more than once. They were instrumental in making sure that more people did not die in Breckenridge, yesterday. They are now, and I am sure will be much more, in the future, a huge, unknown advantage that we have. Now, Adam, if you please."

"Thank you, Mr. President." Adam said as he stood up. "First thing I would like to say to all of you is this. Do not let your eyes fool you, or make you believe something that is not true. Yes, most of us look like children, and that was done on purpose. Yes, we were created to be like this. My family and I make up what is called the U.N.I.T, the Universal Next Generation Infiltration Team." Seeing he had everyone's full attention, but also feeling the uneasiness from several of them, he sought to put them, at least somewhat, at ease. "While I can not reveal where, or who created us, or anything like that, let me assure you that it was NOT this United States Government. Our creation had nothing to do with President Bryce, or former President Ashwood or any member of your government past or present. I will ask that you not press us for details, because we will not give any more than what I have just said."

Adam then moved to stand behind Jack, and Trent, who was sitting next to Jack. "Mr. President, Mr. Secretary, would you both help me for a moment?" Adam asked, and both men stood up. They both knew what was coming, having talked about this beforehand with Adam. "Most of you are trying to figure out why President Bryce puts so much trust in us. What is it about us that makes him put up with a bunch of kids trying to order around a large number of your military?" Adam reached out slowly, and grabbed the front of both men's suits. He then slowly lifted them up, until they were hanging in the air with his arms fully extended. Adam, not showing any signs of exertion, spoke while he held both men up. "We were created, and trained to be super soldiers. We are stronger, faster, and heal quicker than a normal human. I have an eidetic memory. I don't forget anything I experience." He set both men back down on their feet.

"Thank you both." Jack and Trent smoothed their suits out, and sat down while smiling. Adam then walked and stood behind Logan, watching as all eyes stayed focused on him. "This is my Chief Intel Officer, General Logan Hayes. He is also my mate." Immediately, he got waves of disgust coming from the back of the room. He looked up and met eyes with an older woman who was glaring at him in disgust. Adam sighed heavily, then spoke. "Ma'am, I am sure that there are many people who would wilt at your glare. However, be assured, my troops and I are not such people." She gasped, and Adam sent her a chilling smile. "We do not care whether people approve of our sexuality, our lifestyles, or whatever else you use to judge people or not; we are who we are, and demand that people either accept it, or don't. We don't care. But we will NOT tolerate people disrespecting us, or making disparaging remarks about us."

"Why, I never…" The woman started to say, when Adam interrupted her.

"I'm sure you haven't, and it's about high time you were put in your place." Adam began, now meeting her glare with his own. "This is MY base, and you will act in a manner befitting a grown woman of your station. If that is not something you can do, I will have you removed. Is that understood?"

"Didn't your parents ever teach you to respect your elders?" The woman nearly shrieked.

"As a matter of fact, we did." Janet spoke up for the first time. "However, there are two things a lot of people forget about respect. The first is that it is a two way street, and the second is that respect is earned, not given."

"Mr. President! Are you going to allow them to insult me like this?" She said, at which point Jack stood up.

"Cindy, I asked you to be brought here, because I was going to ask you to be a part of my Cabinet. However, your being appointed to that position is largely dependent on how you act here. As General Casey said, this is HIS base. He has graciously opened it up to me, and went so far as to allow me to bring all of you here. He and I discussed this possibility beforehand, and we are in complete agreement. If he asks me to have someone removed, I will do so. While you are here, you will treat them as if they were a member of my family. When they risked their own lives and more to rescue me and my family, they became part of it. If you insult them, you are insulting me. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Mr. President." Cindy said with downcast eyes.

"Sorry about that, Adam, would you please continue?" Jack said as he sat back down.

"Of course, Sir, and please, everyone, understand something. We know we are young, and in the ways of society, we are not very well taught. There will be times where things that may seem normal to you, we may not understand at all. There will certainly be things that are normal to us, that you may not be able to get. I ask for your patience and understanding when that happens. Some of the people in my family have not had the best of times when it comes to adults, so will probably not trust any of you until you prove yourselves to them. Hell. I will be blunt here. There are a few of them who will never trust an adult again. Even when they are adults themselves. It is up to you, if you make that effort or not."

Adam waited 'till he knew they all understood, then continued with the introductions. "Next to Logan is Chang. He is the second in command of the Unit's military functions, as well as our doctor. Before you ask, yes, he is fully certified as a doctor. Not to mention he is one of the two people that are responsible for the First Lady still being alive."

"Next are the heads of the Air Wing, as well as all aircraft stationed at this base. Will and his mate Billy. Next to them is Jory, who is our Demolitions and Ordnance Officer." Adam then moved over and stood between Janet and Joe. "These are our parents. Janet Hayes, and Joe Casey. Janet is a doctor, specializing in those with genetic enhancements, and Joe is the Base Commander. Now, just to make things very clear. Joe is in charge of everything that has to do with the base, including who leaves, who enters, what's brought in, and most importantly, the security of the base. I am not. I am in charge of everyone. Mostly, I will be the one running the missions that we run outside of the base. Any questions so far?"

Seeing none, Adam walked over and stood behind the last three UNIT members in the meeting. "These three are Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. Yes, you may have figured out they were named after the cartoon, and mostly, we just call them the Chipmunks. They run the command and control center, as well as anything computer related. They monitor everything electronic that comes into, or goes out of this base. If you need anything computer related, they are the ones you see."

Seeing someone raise their hand, Adam smiled and nodded at the younger man, who stood up. "Sir, my name is Alex Draper." He paused for a moment, before he started to talk, rather fast. "I mean absolutely no disrespect, but I just find it difficult to believe that three, what, seven, eight, year old boys are running the IT for the entire base."

Adam nodded and smiled at the man. "I take it you know something about IT?"

"Actually, yes. I was the head of the IT department for the White House, before President Ashwood decided he no longer needed my services." Alex said seriously.

Adam looked at Jack who nodded, "Alex is a wiz, I'll say that much."

"Okay. I'll tell you what, Mr. Draper. How about you and the Chipmunks step out into the hall, and talk geek. When you're satisfied, come on back in."

"Cool, we won't have to dumb down our geek-a-tuds." Alvin said to Theodore, who grinned. The rest of the room chuckled at that, as the four of them made their way out.

"Any other questions?" Adam asked. While he knew there had to be more, everyone seemed to hold them for now. "Very well. Thank you, Mr. President." Adam said as he made his way back to his seat, and sat down.

Jack then stood up and buttoned his suit coat while looking around. "Okay, in a few moments, I will want an update on everything that is going on, but first, I want to make sure everyone knows who everyone else is. This will be important because everyone in this room, as well as those who have joined us by teleconference, will make up a large part of my War Cabinet. To expedite this process, please allow me to go around the room, introduce everyone, and tell you what job I have picked out for you. For some of you, it may be obvious, but others may be surprised. If for some reason, you do not feel you can do the job I have tapped you for, please let me know AFTER the meeting. Okay?"

Everyone nodded, so Jack continued. "We've already met the majority of the leadership of the UNIT, so let me start where Adam left off. Sitting next to Joe Casey is General Thomas Larkin. Many of you may remember him as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the final years of my administration. He has already agreed to be my Secretary of Homeland Security. He will also be filling the role of Secretary of Defense for the foreseeable future. We talked about it, and agreed, since this is a civil war that is coming, it makes sense to have both departments unified."

"Next to him is Admiral Trent Kennedy. He will be taking up his previous role as Secretary of the Navy." Trent stood up briefly, nodded to everyone, then sat back down.

"Next to Trent is Ms. Helena Gutierrez. She is going to be my Secretary of State." Helena looked shocked for a moment, then smiled and nodded. Jack's look softened as he looked at the middle-aged woman. "On a personal note, Helena, right before this meeting started, I got word that local law enforcement, backed up by some of our troops were able to secure your family, and they are currently being flown to the same bunker that is holding Mike and his family."

She tried to hold back the tears of relief, but wasn't successful. "Thank you, Mr. President."

"It was my pleasure." Jack said.

For the first time, a voice came over the teleconference. "Helena, this is Mike. Rest assured, your family will be taken care of. Sammy's already started to organize all the kids, and he told me yours will be brought in as soon as they get here." That caused many of the people to laugh, as Sammy's antics were well known.

"Next to Cindy we have Andy Rose. While I don't have an official position for him, his main job will be coordinating the different fielded units, making sure they have everything they need." Seeing everyone nod as Andy raised his hand, Jack continued.

"Moving on." Jack said with a smile. "There is Cindy Dexter, she's going to be the Secretary of the Treasury. Next to her was Alex Draper. As stated earlier, he was the head of the IT department during my final term. I've slated him to head up the Cyber Warfare Department. I am sure we'll come up with a better name for it, but for now, that's what I am calling it. He doesn't know this yet, but the Chipmunks he's talking with will be working very closely with him." Again, some easy laughter flowed through the room before Jack continued.

"Finally, we have Mr. Franklin Silverstein. He will be the Attorney General. He's worked closely with me for many years, and will be working diligently to make sure that everything that happens stays as legal as possible." Jack's words were said with a grim, determined, smile. "I expect there to be a lot of arguments from Mr. Silverstein, about anything we do. I always want to hear an opposing view. That will be his job, so do not take what he says personally."

Right then, Alex Draper and the Chipmunks walked back into the room, and quietly took their seats. The grin on Alex's face told everyone how the conversation went. Alvin leaned in towards Logan and spoke softly, yet loud enough for everyone to hear. "He'll do. He's got some things to learn, but I think we can teach him what he needs to know."

Jack couldn't help but chuckle at the boy's words, which made Alvin blush slightly. "Okay… that deals with everyone in the room, now to introduce the people on teleconference. First off, I am sure you all know Mike Reynolds. His main job during this time will be interfacing with our foreign allies."

"Next on the line we have General F. Thane Hopkins. He is the commanding officer for DAC 6, and based out of Hill Air Force base near Ogden, Utah. Hill Air Force Base will be the staging area for everything that is coming here. Why don't I let General Hopkins tell us what he has going on right now."

"Thank you, Mr. President. At the current time, we are activating all National Guard and Reserve troops. We are preparing to initiate and enforce a no-fly zone covering a one hundred square mile radius from your location, with the exception of one very specific commercial path into and out of Salt Lake City. We also have a five hundred man special response team on standby 24/7 to respond to your location if anything happens. Of course, you would need to let us know exactly where that is. A 20 square mile area is a lot of area to cover."

"I know, General, but you know as well as I do that it's best to keep the exact location as much of a secret as we can, for as long as we can. I am sure that we won't be able to keep this place secret for much longer." Jack said, understanding the frustration that the General was feeling.

"Yes, Sir." Was all the General responded with.

Next, Jack introduced the Commander of DAC 1, General Bridget E. Constantine, based out of Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, South Dakota. She gave a very detailed report of what the bases in DAC 1 were doing to prepare for whatever might come.

Then General Duncan R. Sugarhill. He commanded DAC 5 out of Tinker Air Force Base, near Oklahoma City. Jack asked the General a very pointed question to start out with. "General, what is the status of our troops in Texas?"

General Sugarhill sighed deeply. "At the moment, things are calm but tense. There are major concerns about the release of all inmates and the full pardoning of everyone with a felony record, but at this point, I don't think there is anything legally we can do about it…"

Bryce shook his head and his jaw clenched tightly at the mentioning of the mass inmate release. "The President of the United States has the legal right to pardon anyone he wants, to a certain extent. As much as I hate it, if we are going to stay a country ruled by law, we will have to accept it for what it is.

"For some, it is a brand new start; for many it will be a ticket to resume their criminal ways. The real problem I have with it is the safety of the citizens. There are killers, rapists, assassins, con men, and combinations thereof who are now out and walking around without any supervision. It is only a matter of time before we have families killed, kids kidnapped, muggings, carjackings, and rapes at an unprecedented level."

Franklin Silverstein, Jack's newly appointed Attorney General, shook his head as he interrupted everyone. "Sorry, but that is not correct, Sir. Article 2; Section 2; Clause 1 of the US Constitution is very clear on this."

He quoted the clause so everyone would know where things stood, "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

"What this means is that he can only pardon crimes against the United States. Not crimes against say the State of Virginia. What this boils down to is that only the Federal prisoners he has released were legally released. All State prisoners are not legally released. They can't be charged with escape, fleeing, or the like, but they can be taken back into custody. Once they refuse to return to custody we can throw the book at them if we choose." He nodded for Jack to continue.

"Thanks, Franklin. That is going to be a massive problem. I am not sure how we will handle the issue in the future, but we have other things to deal with now. The first being the crime wave that is surely going to come as a result of letting these people back on the streets. I know President Ashwood had to have an ulterior motive for whatever this is, and it can't be far off, since controlling some of those men and women is all but impossible.

"Furthermore, we don't know what they were given upon release, but we do know most prisons had trucks waiting to transport them and semis loaded with some kind of backpacks to be given to each of them. If he armed all those animals like it is being suggested, or rumored…" President-Elect Bryce shuddered, "Well, there is no telling just how bad things could get!"

He glanced back at his notes, "So, military bases in areas leaning toward support of me… Where do we stand with them?"

General Sugarhill glanced down and delayed answering for a few moments. When he did, his voice told those who knew the man he was not nearly as comfortable or self assured as he was trying to sound. "All the Federal military installations are on lockdown. Ashwood did a pretty good job of transferring people around, so his most loyal folks were on the Eastern side of the country, but where individual military men and women fall is not as straightforward or clear cut.

"We've had a few scuffles where some guys who support Ashwood, took exception with the way Texas was doing things. Fortunately, the bases being on lockdown prevented it from ever getting outside the gates, so the Texas folks never got a chance to deal with them. As best as we can tell, this has not caught the attention of Texas yet, so we are in as good a shape as you would expect. On the other hand, AWOL reports are very high, some units over twenty percent. At this point, we think most of those were being led by people who strongly support Ashwood and realized they were around folks who didn't. At some point, we are going to have to figure out what to do with them, but we have way too much on our plates at the moment to really focus on the problem. Besides, some of my staff are not exactly unhappy about it, since the more of them there are in the ranks the less loyal the overall structure will be.

"Speaking of Texas, however, Mr. President, since they had their National Guard active, most of those released from prison were escorted well away from population centers.

"The way I understand it, Governor Hendrickson is kind of taking the same stance you are. It's not entirely legal, not for all of them anyways, but honestly, we just don't have the manpower to deal with it. But he doesn't like it. He has used Guard units to push the buses and trucks with the former prisoners to places like large campgrounds, and even a couple of scout camps. They also moved a very large group to just northeast of Fort Hood, saying the President let them out, so the feds can deal with them. They then dropped off some tents and food, dropped the semi-trailers, and made the buses and the semi-rigs leave under escort. They have a decent sized unit watching them, as do we, but neither we nor they have stopped the former inmates from walking away. However, most are sitting around waiting for whatever is on those trucks.

"The base commander, General Leland, of Fort Bliss, has reported… " As he was speaking, a commotion caught his attention. Someone ran up to him and started to frantically speak into his ear. "Sir…" General Sugarhill stated as he went pale and held up his hand to cut off the Staff Sergeant talking into his ear. "I'm getting word of a shootout inside the state capitol building in Austin. It's being televised live…" In the background, they heard a television turn on to the sounds of screaming, shooting, cursing, and a female reporter crying about getting splinters in her face from a near miss.

Logan jumped to his feet and jerked his head in the direction of the door to the command and control center for the UNIT base. "Let's move this to the Command Center…"

Even as they walked in, Logan stopped short as he glanced up at the main display; he saw Glenn backing his hover chair full speed into a rifle-armed guard with the uniform of a State of Texas patch on the sleeve. The female guard fired at the chair which did nothing but send the three round burst ricocheting off into the wall. She then froze for a split second too long.

A moment later, the chair slammed into the guard and tossed the woman back over a yard into the metal detector. As she hit, and the whole thing fell on her, those behind cringed and let out sharp gasps.

The camera started to zoom into Glenn's face which was nothing but a mask of anger and determination, but quickly shifted focus to a guard who came up a set of stairs to the cameraman's right and fired. This caused several others in the hall to duck, but Scott, who was at the end of the hall shouting into a doorway, turned and fired an assault weapon, dropping the man.

Total chaos then followed as doors opened, kids dove in and out of view, guards came in shooting and seemed to quickly fall.

While the whole thing only played out for a minute at the most, those watching were transfixed at the sight. The problem was, no one really knew what had started it, who was on what side and why so many of the guards came into view shooting before they even had a chance to really take stock of the situation. Others came into view, weapons ready, but didn't fire until they saw fellow guards shooting at kids who were shooting back.

Bryce watched the surreal scene playing out on the main monitor with total confusion. It almost looked like there were two factions of guards, one hell bent on killing, and the other trying to figure out what was going on, while the group of boys had no option but to take the fight to all comers.

Even as the number of shots diminished, a hand came from behind the camera and blocked it out while a male voice snarled, "Cut the feed and get up the stairs!"

The camera man swung the camera around only to get shoved back. They guy was good, however. For even as he fell on his ass, he pulled the camera up to show the man who had accosted him.

At first, the cameraman zoomed in on the nine millimeter Glock pointed at him, but then pulled back on the zoom and showed a young man in nice suit, with a large knife handle sticking out of his shoulder. The wounded man waved the pistol and spoke, but by this time, the female reporter had cut the sound. A second later, the camera cut off.

Logan let out a deep breath, "That's one of the Russians…"

"What in the hell is going on?" Bryce demanded as he physically pushed by someone to get deeper into the room.

Alvin looked up with a totally pale face, "Sir, we just managed to tap into a phone call being held in the area this is taking place. It is somewhere real close to there, since we can hear the gunshots and stuff… I can replay what we have…" by this point, Alvin's voice was shaking.

"Then let's hear it!" Logan demanded.

With the push of a button the phone call was replayed.

A young-sounding voice could be heard stammering , "I need another pen."

Gunshots drowned out the next part, but a man's voice was yelling loud enough to be heard, "I want to know what the fuck is going on and is my boy OK! Craig, pick up the phone for…"

More gunshots then came the chant of what sounded like someone praying, but it was too soft to fully make out without extra enhancements.

Next came the sound of someone pulling back the slide on a pistol followed by the voice of the praying man saying "I have failed 'God's Army' in its time of great need."

There was lots more movement and once again the man screaming for Craig to pick up and almost begging to know what was going on.

Suddenly, a young voice let out a snort. "Well, prove me wrong, why don't you Joey!"

Another young-sounding voice responded, "Huh?"

The first voice, which Logan now firmly identified as belonging to Alexander responded with a bit of humor, despite the situation the kids were in. "I used to argue with my dad all the time about this. But here you go and prove me wrong. The pen really is mightier than the sword!"

There was again the sound of someone pulling back the slide of a pistol and replacing a clip. This was followed by another boy's voice who was actually snickering slightly. "And the great Edward Bulwer-Lytton rolls over in his grave."

There were footsteps followed by another shout from the man, screaming for Craig.

The voice of the boy who was snickering changed in tone, "Man, you really need to learn how to duck!"

There was a loud clatter as several metal things hit a tiled floor. This was followed by a slightly deeper, yet still young-sounding voice. "I'm a Junior Marine. Marines don't duck; we make others dive for cover. Now put in fresh clips and spread out. We need every bullet and weapon we can grab.

There was the sound of someone picking up the phone then the man's voice yelling again, "Damn-it what is going on and is my son safe?"

The voice of the Junior Marine, a voice Logan knew beyond a shadow of a doubt belonged to Craig Bickford, cut off all responses, "Dad, it's me. Ashwood must have planted some security in the capitol building, but we are all pretty much good."

"Pretty much?" The man who was clearly Craig's dad fired back, "What does pretty much mean?"

"It means some jack-wad Ashwoodian nicked him with a bullet again." Alexander snarled followed by the sound of someone slamming home a magazine into a rifle and releasing the slide to load it.

"Again?" Craig's dad roared.

"Long story, Dad, but I'm fine, really. Now you were saying something about chemical weapons before we were so rudely interrupted?"

This got a collective gasp out of all those listening in the Command Center which in turn caused Alvin to pause the playback of the phone call.

"No, no!" Bryce shouted, "Don't stop it! We need to hear this!"

This caused Alvin to hit the button and resume play of the recorded phone call.

A voice from behind Craig's dad spoke, "Is the Governor secure?"

A voice of an adult male could just be heard saying, "I'll get another one." Then the Governor spoke up, "Well, yeah… Um… I have nine boys who are now armed like they were born with guns in their hands covering me like a blanket. How long do we have before it gets here."

Another voice further back inside the ship's bridge spoke up, "Exact time hard to tell, but somewhere between forty to fifty minutes is my best guess, Commander."

Craig let out a light gasp of pain then spoke. "Dad, there is no way to evacuate an entire city in less than forty-five minutes. We have to figure out something else. What kind of chemical, do you know?

"Sarin, son, it is a highly advanced form of Sarin. We got the chemical formula from another ship commander, but it's pretty much meaningless to us."

One of the other boys in the room let out a sharp gasp. "Nerve gas? They fired nerve gas at us?"

A kind of squeaky-sounding voice spoke up. Logan was easily able to identify it as Ricky's. "Send the formula through to Craig's phone so I can download it! I bet some of us will be able to get more out of the formula."

The voice of someone in command spoke up, "Seaman Munoz, send it, but make it quick. We are pushing the limits of giving our position away."

Craig's dad then spoke, "Guys, we are going to have to break comm real soon. We will try to contact you all again, but you need to get out of there!"

There was a pause and some commotion over the phone line, but after several moments the Governor's voice could be heard. "Derek, these youngsters just saved my ass and probably most of the state's elected officials! Now stand down, men. Besides, you really don't want to tangle with them. If you look out into the hall you will see they are a force to be reckoned with."

There were footsteps and a gasp of astonishment. At almost the same time the Governor spoke up much more forcefully. "What the hell happened?"

Another man spoke up, "It's confusing as all hell. Several guards turned on us and others didn't. Hell we have over twenty…"

The sound of a man who was more than a bit edgy joined the conversation "Way more. There has to be a dozen more down out here."

Ricky suddenly spoke up, "I got the file on the chemical formula of the sarin, but someone is on to you and starting to trace the satellite position. Brake off and relocate!"

"Son, I love you!" Craig's father called out then the line went dead.

There was silence in the room for about ten seconds, then the room became a beehive of activity. Adam was glad to see that the military here was still as efficient and professional as he was used to, especially since he could read the thoughts of many of them.

"Sir, if I may?" Adam said seriously. He said towards Jack

Jack knew exactly what he was asking, and after a moment of hesitation, he nodded.

Adam didn't hesitate, he looked towards the UNIT members sitting at their stations.

"Find those missiles. We won't be able to see them until they raise up to strike, but as soon as we see them I need to know." He then turned towards the screen where the other members of Jack's War Cabinet were watching. "Generals, please scramble every fighter within three hundred miles of Austin. Have them scour the air trying to find those missiles. Make sure to keep some high up, to act as cover in case Ashwood has fighters in the air as well." He paused because he knew what was coming.

All the Generals looked at Jack. Jack nodded and spoke softly. "At the moment, General Casey is acting with my full authority. Any orders he gives, treat as if they are coming from me."

"Yes, Sir." They said in unison, then started issuing their own orders.

Adam turned towards Logan. "Those missiles have to have guidance systems. They're probably hack-proof, but see if you can't find them somehow and crack their codes. Even if you can't, it may give us an idea how to stop other missiles."

Logan nodded then rushed over to the only empty terminal, that was part of four, all connected directly to the main computer. The other three terminals were already in use by the Chipmunks.

Lastly, Adam turned towards the screen again. "Also, activate every medical unit within five hundred miles; get them spun up and heading towards Austin. They don't land until we have confirmation it's safe for them."

Before anyone else could say anything, though, Jeremy spoke up. "Sir, we're getting a live feed from Austin again…" His voice faded as the television showed someone walking behind the Texas Governor. It also clearly caught the Governor glancing down at a guard followed by a hard kick to the man's face. The camera even managed to catch a bullet hole in the Governor's shoe.

The Governor didn't pause. Instead, he stepped over another body of a guard and shoved open a set of double doors riddled with bullet holes. As he moved inside, the camera man panned around to show they were moving into the State Senate chamber.

His voice echoed over those below causing a few who were talking to stop. "Get the members of the State House in here, now!"

There was almost four minutes of commentary by the female reporter whose face didn't appear on the camera. She talked about being sent there to cover the awards given to the science contest winners and how it appeared those same boys had foiled an internal plot by several guards to assassinate the Governor. She went on to add, four of the boys were now armed and actively protecting Governor Hendrickson, while five others were doing other duties.

The woman's voice cracked several times and she almost let it slip what the Governor was about to say, but just barely held off. At the same time the cameraman panned the camera around showing four boys carrying assault weapons, one of whom had a makeshift bandage on his shoulder.

Logan glanced back at President Elect Bryce and pointed to the monitor, "From left to right, you have Justin, Alexander, Craig and Steven, Sir. All were part of the hacking which probably allowed you to win the election. They are untrained, but tested by fire, and hard as nails. If I may offer the President of the United States a suggestion?" Jack simply nodded, which caused Logan to smile. "You do whatever it takes to make sure these kids are safe, and have whatever it is they need. Individually they are brilliant, but put them together, and I swear there is nothing they can't figure out. I've already given them a few things that I thought may be way out of their league… They figured it all out pretty quick. Not only have they impressed me, which is hard to do… but they really impressed Juan. That speaks volumes to those of us that know Juan."

All around the Command Center, UNIT members were nodding seriously. "If Juan is impressed with them," Jeremy spoke up from his station, "I would have no issue having any one of them watch my back. And I feel damn sorry for anyone who messes with them. Juan's been known to go a little off the deep end if someone hurts his friends."

Andy looked over at his 'son' and couldn't help but really start to realize how much different this Jeremy was from the son he had known. This one was harder, and trained in ways that he understood, but what he couldn't understand was how he could be trained so well, and still only be a boy. He shook his head to clear those thoughts; he would have to deal with them later.

Suddenly, the cameraman moved down so he could center on the Governor as he moved behind a podium. By this time, the chamber meant to hold thirty-one state senators now held an additional one hundred and forty-two state representatives, so it was packed. There was some talking, but it came to a quick end as the Governor nodded to the camera man and moved up to a podium, "Ladies and Gentleman of Texas, I have just had my life saved from an assassination attempt, by the young men who were here to get science awards from me, four of whom are now behind me and the other five are trying to find a way to save the lives of the governing body of Texas.

Before more than a few gasps could be heard around the chamber, Governor Hendrickson continued, "Right at twenty minutes ago a US warship was ordered to fire on the city of Austin. The payload is poison and it is on the way. However, before we can adjourn to a safe setting, we need to do two things. First we must break all ties with the US. I need a vote now!"

"What about discussion…" a female state senator shouted only to get cut off.

"Maggie," Governor Hendrickson snapped back, "you can sit here and talk till you are blue in the face, which you will be in less than half an hour, or you can vote. Most of us are going to vote and head to safety."

Hearing no more complaints, Governor Hendrickson gave a little snort of disgust directed toward the woman, "Thought so. Now keep in mind, it was a US warship with orders from higher up which has fired on us. All in favor raise your hands."

All but seven members of the Texas legislature raised their hands.

"All opposed, do the same."

This time four hands went up.

"Motion has passed by overwhelming majority. Rangers on the floor, take those who didn't vote at all into custody and get them out of here!"

It took only a few moments for a contingent of Texas Rangers to move in, secure the one man and two women and drag them out of the small chamber. Maggie's screams of protest ended as soon as the doors she was dragged out through closed, meaning either it was a very good soundproofed door or someone ended her rantings the moment there was no camera watching.

Governor Hendrickson glanced down from the podium after a brief smile of satisfaction at the fact one of those he clearly didn't care for was no longer going to be a thorn in his side, "Dissenters I can handle, and I respect; fence sitters are not going to be tolerated. Now for the second vote, and this is a little more terrifying, but in my opinion is something we must do. As of now do we declare open hostilities against the Ashwood administration and those who support him? Those who say yes raise your hands."

At this, there was some murmuring, but within just a few seconds hands started to go up; a minute later only nine hands stayed down."

"Those opposed?"

This time all nine hands went up including three of the four who voted against secession.

"Totally understandable. Let it be known, that as of this moment, we are at a state of hostilities with the Ashwood administration. All Federal units who wish to leave the state may do so but equipment stays here. All who wish to stay and help defend this great st… um, great Country of Texas are welcome to do so!"

The Governor took a deep breath to calm himself and let it out. The camera caught the beads of sweat on his brow as he continued to speak. "Because of the extreme circumstances and us needing to get to shelter, I am handing full National Guard control over to Major General Hunter G. Beck. Until we can safely return to our duties, he speaks for all of us. Now, I am going to demand all members of the legislative body follow the Rangers while I turn the camera over to Steven Hoagland. People of Austin, this young man's advice, over the next couple of minutes, is the best shot you have at survival. Listen to him!"

The Governor then glanced back over his shoulder and nodded to Steven while moving out of the way. At this point, the camera zoomed in on Steven and when it did, it showed a boy in a suit that was a little too big, a tie that was a clearly not in the best condition and block shoes which had seen better days. However, the twelve-year-old boy's demeanor and the way his green eyes stared into the camera almost seemed to demand attention.

Steven took a couple of deep breaths as he moved up to the podium. He frowned as he got close, clearly realizing the place normally meant to take the floor was going to block his face from the camera because of how tall it was. Without missing a beat, he side stepped and looked straight at the camera. Since he realized he was not going to be behind a microphone he spoke loudly. "First off, trying to run is not a great option. The roads will clog and trap you. Please understand, this is not a normal bomb-like attack. The incoming rockets are loaded with poison. This poison is heavier than air, so do not go down into your basements. Stay up high, as high as you can get unless you have an airtight room, like a dust free room. If you do, go there and stay inside. You will need at least four hours of oxygen, more if it is down below ground. Because of this, do not over pack the dust-free rooms with people or you will all run out of air.

"I am going to try my best to get my friends to tap into the civil defense sirens. We will sound them as soon as possible and they will continue to sound until the vast majority of the danger has passed. Low lying areas may not be safe even then so stay out of basements, out of ditches, out of cellars."

Steven gazed into the camera as he chewed in the inside of his mouth on the left side for a couple of seconds. Suddenly his eyes seemed to light up a bit as he resumed speaking, "There are some cars that are airtight. It you have one, get to as high a ground as you can find and park, engine off. If you are home and have large trash bags, we will attempt to sound a quick burst of three short pulses followed by three long, then three more short just before the rockets get here. As soon as you hear this, inflate the garbage bags as full as you can get them and pull them over you and hold the bottom as tight as you can. Stay there as long as possible, but do not let yourselves pass out. Once you get out of the trash bag, move to as high a ground as you can find and stay standing for as long as you can. It is the best chance you have at this point.

"Finally, we are asking all airlines and private aircraft at the main airport and any surrounding airports to fully load their planes and get as many out of the area as possible. I am sure the Governor will provide lists of safe landing sites shortly.

"Once again, remember go up not down; this poison is heavier than normal air. May whatever God you worship be with you this day."

Steven took a couple of steps back but on the third one, his legs started to shake lightly. Governor Hendrickson moved up and made a downward slash with his hand. Moments later, the camera feed cut off and was replaced by someone inside the news studio.

"Sir," General Sugarhill said through the screen, "I just heard from the Major General Beck. He made sure to let me know that all Texas forces are still following the chain of command up to me. Since they know I am not party to Ashwood's stunts. But they will only follow orders coming directly from me, or from you, specifically."

Jack stood there a moment trying to decide exactly what to do. He knew one thing though; he was not going to allow the United States to be destroyed. The room was silent as all eyes were now on Jack. Finally he stood himself up straight and addressed everyone in the room as well as everyone on the conference. "Ladies and Gentleman; let me make one thing very clear. I will not tolerate the country splitting apart right now. At this moment, we need to be seen standing together, not splitting apart. I am sure the Governor of Texas did what he thought was the only thing that he could, but please make it plainly clear to every other state. I will not allow others to follow Texas' lead. If they wish to split from the United States, then they will weather this storm on their own."

After a moment had passed, Jack turned to his Secretary of State. "Helena, get in contact with Haley. Tell him to go ahead with his idea." She nodded and turned to make a quick exit. Jack caught her attention before she could leave, "Fuck." He sounded very exasperated. "We need Texas. They can't just go it alone. Get someone to draft a proposal to Texas to join with us…" His voice trailed off, and went deep in thought for a moment, then looked at Silverstein with a question.

Franklin smiled and nodded. 'Texas v. White.' Was all the man said. Most of the people in the room were completely lost. Jack though actually burst out laughing.

"Well, that's gonna make things interesting." Jack said as he considered for a moment before he leaned into Helena's side and spoke softly into her ear. She nodded with a smile, then quickly left the room.

Everyone watched her walk out, then focused back on Jack. "What's that about, Jack?" Tom asked softly, yet loud enough for his voice to carry in the quiet room.

"About an hour ago, Haley Burruel, The Speaker of the House, sent me a crazy idea that he had. I just gave him the go ahead to put it into action…" His voice trailed off as he suppressed a giggle.

"What about Texas?" Tom almost demanded.

Jack couldn't help but laugh a little more, before he contained it, and addressed Tom's rather demanding question. "Don't worry about Texas… It's rather simple. In the late 1800s, there was a case that got all the way to the Supreme Court. It all had to do with Confederate War Bonds…"

"Sir!" One of the US soldiers called out. "I'm getting multiple reports of protests turning violent in several major cities across the country!"

"Make that most of them." Alvin said, his eyes still glued to his screen. "At least the cities we can monitor. Of course, most of the East is black, but I can tell you that every major city that we can monitor is having reports of the protests turning into violent riots. Denver and Boise have already pulled the cops back, and are trying to figure out what's going on."

"Okay… set things up for Bravo two niner seven." Logan began as his fingers flew over his keyboard. "Control stations one through eight. You have California, one starts south, then move up in number as you move north. Nine and Ten, you have the upper northwest. Eleven through fifteen, you have the rest of DAC 1." Logan was speaking as he transferred controls to the proper stations.

"Sixteen through twenty-two, you guys have the upper and central midwest, as far as we can see. Twenty-three through twenty-eight, you have the southern midwest. Twenty-nine, you have Canada; let us know what's going on up there. Thirty, you have Mexico. I want all reports routed to my station." Logan finished up, then went to work organizing and displaying on the screens the information he was getting.

Jack and the rest of the War Cabinet stood there in shock at how well the UNIT was organizing things and getting information known. Even the US military soldiers that were filling in stations were brought into the program seamlessly, and were doing their best to keep up.

Alex Draper even jumped in. "Is there a station I can use?"

Before anyone could answer, the doors to the room opened and Daileass ran into the room. Technically he was off duty, trying to deal with the fact that Haden was on Mars, and getting changed into something other than a human. However, with everything that was going on, there was no way he could sit this one out. He'd heard Alex's question, and already knew how much his youngest brothers liked the man, so he spoke up as he walked across the room. "Alex, you can use the station next to mine."

Daileass sat down at an empty table, pressed a button under it, and suddenly a monitor flipped up from the table. A keyboard and mouse rose up from under where the monitor was at, and Daileass was logging in before Alex even sat down. "Now that's cool." Alex said as he looked for the hidden button, finding it, he pressed it, and within a few moments, he was asking how to log in.

Once he was in, he couldn't help but giggle like a small child. "I could get used to this…" And then he was off. No one bothered to ask what he was doing, but he was certainly doing something.

Things were somewhat calm for the next ten minutes as people were watching what was happening on the screens. Almost every major city was seeing some violent rioting. The police were already on high alert, but they were quickly overwhelmed, and where they could, they pulled back.

The DAC's were also on high alert, and right on top of the situation. Almost immediately, without Jack having to say anything, National Guard units were either called up, or, for the ones that were already called up, they were sent in to try and quell the riots.

One of the US military, an Airman, suddenly called out. "Sir. I think you had better see this."

"Bring it up on screen." Jack said immediately. Slowly, one of the screens started to show a satellite picture, although it took a few moments to zoom it in.

"Something weird is going on in Chicago." The Airman said, as the picture continued to zoom in. "Everything that I can see says that the riots started there, just like everywhere else, but then they stopped; almost like magic."

Tom placed a hand on Jack's shoulder. A sign that Tom used many times in the past when he wanted to jump into the conversation. Jack nodded, and Tom stepped up and started to speak, just as the picture was really clearing up on the monitor. "Private Hernandez." Tom said loudly, causing the man sitting at station fourteen to turn around. "You are from Chicago, correct?"

"Yes Sir." The young man said.

"Good, please watch the screen and tell us if you can help figure out what is going on." Tom said as the picture finally snapped to clarity. Unfortunately, they couldn't see anything other than a huge number of people packing the streets.

"GOTCHA!" Alex cried out, causing almost everyone to snap towards him. When he realized that he had said it out loud, he blushed slightly. "Sorry, but I got it. One of the most powerful radio stations in Chicago is still broadcasting. They moved over to the AM frequencies, which are really hard to jam, especially with how powerful the tower is."

Well, bring it up!" Jack said quickly.

"Working on it…" Alex said, his fingers flying over the keyboard again.

Just before the radio broadcast was heard over the speakers, everyone heard Alvin as he leaned in to Logan. "See, I told you he was pretty good."

The speakers came alive with the voice of a younger sounding woman. "…Again everyone is being urged to stay inside and protect yourselves. The Federal Government is trying to invade our fine city, and all those willing and able to defend it are encouraged to seek out a police office, and sign up. We want to once again play the audio release from the new Mayor of Chicago, Alex Cappo. For those who may not know who he is, he was the Chief of the Gangs and Special Operations Unit of the Chicago Police Department. He was also the one that uncovered the conspiracy of the local government to subvert the will of the people and allow the former President Ashwood's military into the city to take it over. Again, this is Mayor Alexander Cappo."

There was silence on the radio for a moment, during which time Adam looked over at Alvin and spoke softly. "Figure out who that man is…"

"Ladies and Gentleman, citizens of the great city of Chicago. I come before you today to ask, no, to beg for your help. At five thirty eastern time this morning, this country witnessed first hand, treason at the highest level. Treason committed by the President of the United States. When he instituted Martial Law, and declared the free election that this country's citizens just participated in, null and void, he committed treason against the very principles that he swore to uphold. Those who supported his actions also committed treason against our great country, and that includes many of the political officers of this city, as well as many of the higher ups in the Police Department." The man's voice paused for a second before he continued.

"Twenty-two years ago, I swore an oath to the city of Chicago, to uphold the law, and to protect the people. I have never taken that oath lightly. I started out as a beat cop in one of the worst sections of Chicago. I met a lot of people who just wanted to survive. To be able to live their lives in peace, and away from the fear of daily violence. I did everything I could to help them, and have, since then. What President Ashwood and his cronies are trying to do is exactly the opposite of that safety. Even now, we are getting reports of some of the actions that the Ashwood administration is enacting. These cannot be allowed to happen in our city.

"I, and several other law enforcement officers, acting within the capacity of the oaths we took, immediately placed the Mayor, most of the City Council, and the highest ranking members of the police force, under arrest for sedition and treason. I was asked, and agreed to act as the Mayor during this troubling time, and I will do what is needed to keep this great city safe.

"However, we have had to arrest many members of the Chicago Police Department. We are horribly undermanned, and are asking the help of the citizens to defend our city.

"We have known for a long time that many of the gangs in Chicago outnumber and outgun the police force. For this reason, I am calling on every gang member. Put your differences aside, put aside your distrust and hatred of the police force of this city. Help us to defend the city. To this end, I have instructed every member of the police force to be ready for this moment. Anyone who wishes to help can seek out any police officer, give them your name, and sign up to become an official member of the Chicago Militia. Any crimes that you may have committed up to this point will be erased from your record. All we require for that is that you help us defend the city."

"Any citizen that wishes to help, is also encouraged to seek out an officer and join the Militia. They will assess your abilities and put you where you can best help. City Hall is open to accept applicants, and process everyone into the Militia, if you can make it there. Also, every school in the city has been ordered to open its doors, and these will become the neighborhood rally points. If you need any sort of aid, you are encouraged to go to your closest school, where the people there will do all they can to help you."

Everyone heard him sigh before he continued, "Citizens of Chicago… Brothers and Sisters… This is a time where we need to band together. We are now facing the worst thing to happen to this city since the great fire that threatened to destroy her many, many years ago. We need to band together, no matter what your race, your history, your past crimes, no matter what has come before, the City of Chicago MUST band together to protect herself, or surely we will burn. Stand with me, and stand with your brothers and sisters in this great country, and together, together we can make it through this long night. I will not allow the song to come true. There will be no 'Night Chicago Died'."

The feed died, and the room was silent. Finally, one of the soldiers breathed out, "Holy shit."

"And that is why I love Chicago." Private Hernandez said with a grin.

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