Castle Roland

New Beginnings
Book I

by Roland


Chapter 9

Published: 8 Apr 14

New Beginnings

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

All Rights Reserved

New Beginnings LogoMary looked at her wall and sighed. All over the wall were medals, awards, and pictures. The wall in front of her detailed out both her and her late husband's military careers. 'Late Husband', that was still a bitter pill to swallow. George had passed only four months ago. Sixty-seven years young, and the picture of health. Still ran two miles every morning, except Sundays when he would run ten. But then his heart gave out. Suddenly and completely.

"Oh George, this is what you said would happen." Mary said, as she looked at one of the pictures on the wall. George was standing there in his Dress Blues, shaking hands with the President, while being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, for his actions in the last Mexican-American war.

Mary sighed one more time, stepped back and snapped a crisp salute to her late husband and the former President of the United States. After she dropped her salute, she gently picked the picture off the wall and tucked it under her arm. She turned crisply on her heel, and walked out of the den in her home. She briefly stopped in the living room to make sure everything was in order, then picked up a bag that she had packed earlier. "Let's do this George." She said as she headed out of the room and out of her house, perhaps for the last time.

An hour later, Mary drove her car up to the front gate of the Base. She smiled at the sight of the guards at the gate. Seeing them jumping all over themselves to salute her, when she showed them her ID. It was not very often that the first female General in the history of the United States, decked out in her Dress Blues, drove up to the gates. She may have retired nearly ten years ago, but to many female military members, she was a hero. Not only had she attained the rank of General, but she had done so in the Marine Corps. A feat not yet repeated.

They were quick to direct her to a parking area, and then had one of the base vehicles drive her to the flight line. The officer even offered to carry her bags, which she politely declined. When they got there, she exited the vehicle, and took a moment to scan the tarmac in front of her. A large C-130 was being hastily loaded, with all sorts of equipment. Next to it was a military 767 with stairs pushed up to the door. At the bottom of the steps were well over two hundred troops busily getting their own gear ready to go. "Well there's my plane." Mary said to herself as she put her cover under her arm, reached back into the car, and pulled out her bag. She couldn't help but snicker when she hit the button to lock the car. She wasn't really expecting to see it again, but habits are hard to break.

She walked up towards the crowd of people who fell silent at her approach. As soon as she was within five feet, everyone started to salute. She nodded and returned the salute, until she found the person she was looking for. After exchanging salutes with the bird Colonel, she spoke, "Walter, it's good to see you again."

"General Macintosh. What can I do for you?" Colonel McNeil said with a smile.

"Well Colonel, I was hoping to catch a ride on this bird of yours. I've heard some interesting things lately, and decided I would tag along. As long as you don't mind." Mary said in such a way, to make it clear that it really didn't matter if the colonel minded or not.

"Of course, General." McNeil said with a grin. "It would be an honor." He stepped aside, and extended his hand, indicating that she should go ahead and board the plane, which is exactly what she did.

Less than thirty minutes later, they were in the air; an hour after that, they were boarding helicopters for the last leg of their journey. No one knew where they were going, and due to the inside of the helicopter being completely blacked out, no one could see where they were going. Mary heard some grumblings about this, but she knew what operational security meant, and where they were headed, the fewer people that knew where it was actually located, the better.

Twenty minutes later, the pilot came over the intercom and spoke to everyone. "We will be landing shortly. I have been asked to instruct all of you to exit the helicopter and stand fast for a brief inspection, and then delivery of your orders. While I cannot tell you where we are at, I can tell you that it is colder than where we came from, so please prepare yourselves."

Colonel McNeil looked over at Mary, grinned and shouted to be heard over the noise of the helicopter. "They sure are training the fly boys young these days, aren't they?"

Mary smiled but didn't respond, as the helicopter came to a gentle landing. Moments later the rotors slowed and finally stopped. At the same time the back ramp was lowered, and the people with her began to disembark. It had been a good long time since Mary had to 'fall in' for an inspection, but over twenty-five years in the Marine Corps had taught her more than a few things that she would never forget.

She took a moment to glance around, and saw that they were in some sort of mountain canyon. Her trained eye told her very quickly that the only real way to get there with any type of military force was by air. Nodding to herself in satisfaction, she turned her eyes forward, and watched the approach of two individuals. One she had had the honor of meeting, but only a few brief times. General Tom Larkin. The other person was a child, maybe a young teenager, dressed in military BDUs.

She looked at the long blond haired boy, and noticed right away something that struck her as odd. Her first thought was that the boy was wearing those because there was nothing else to wear, but she quickly dismissed that idea. The boy was way too comfortable in those clothes. Mary only half-paid attention when General Larkin started to speak. She was too intent on the boy.

Those eyes told her that there was a lot more to this boy than many could even imagine. The way he bored holes into each person, as he looked from one to the other. Everyone else was focused on the General and what he was saying, but Mary was watching this strange boy. When the boy's eyes finally met hers, they held eyes for a moment before the boy smiled and nodded slightly to her.

When General Larkin was done speaking, Mary saw several soldiers come jogging up to them, all of them armed. The boy simply pointed his finger, and suddenly the troops descended on eight of the soldiers that had come with her, and dragged them away, none too gently. Everyone was shocked, confused and worried, all but Mary. True, she had no idea what was going on, but she felt calm.

General Larkin stood there silently for several moments while everyone calmed down. Once there was silence, he started to speak again, "You have all passed the first test of this place. Now before I allow you to ask any questions, and you will have many, let me explain a few things to you. All of you possess a Top Secret security clearance. You have all been vetted by the United States Government and were shown to have impeccable records. You have all spent many years dedicating your lives to this country, and for that I thank you. However, you must understand something very clearly. None of that means anything."

General Larkin let that linger in the air for a moment before he continued, "The place where you now stand is NOT governed under the laws of the United States. The base that sits directly behind me, the base that you will all be staying at, working out of, and living in, is not part of the United States. It is run by a very small, yet very remarkable group of people who have graciously opened their doors so that we have a place that no one, not even those of us that are living here, knew about just a few short days ago. This place has technology that you are not familiar with, and procedures that you will have to learn. Unfortunately, we are at a state of war, even though it has yet to be declared, it will be shortly. Your country is not only asking, but it is demanding that you endure what will have to happen over the next several months, or even longer."

Taking a moment to let his last statement sink in, General Larkin took a deep breath, let it out slowly, then spoke again, "I know it is not fair to many of you, but for now, I will have to inform you, until this crisis passes you will not be allowed to have contact with your families, at least until we can set up secure communications. However, we are also doing everything we can to find your families, and if they are in the line of fire, to try and get them to safety. I know it is not much, but it was one of the conditions that I agreed to when we discussed bringing you all here. I know much of this still does not make sense, so I will turn this meeting over to General Logan Hayes, UNIT Intelligence Officer."

Had it not been for the discipline of the people standing there, having this teenager step up in front of them would have made a few people snicker. Mary though, was intrigued. So far nothing that General Larkin had told her made her too worried. With George dead, she didn't have anyone else to look after. She had nothing tying her to her home.

"Good morning." The teenager, Logan, said. The tone he used, and the confidence in his voice told her that this was a boy who was used to addressing groups of people. "I know many of you have questions. Most of them will not be answered directly. However, over time I am sure you will start to understand what is going on here. The first, and most important thing you need to understand is this," he turned and pointed to a cave that was behind him, "inside that cave is our home. The first thing you will see when you enter the actual base is a large crest that has been emblazoned into the floor. It is the same patch that I wear on my shoulder. Almost everyone you see wearing it, is part of what is called the UNIT. The word UNIT is an acronym which stands for the Universal Next-Generation Infiltration Team. Most of the members of the UNIT are my age, or younger. The best piece of advice I can give you right now is this: Do not let the age of the people you are working with make you think they are less capable. We excel at being underestimated, I warn you to not do the same."

He let that hang in the air as he started to pace in front of the group. The way he held his hands, clasped behind his back, reminded Mary of George when he would address brand new recruits. "So far each and every one of you has passed our security check. Those that did not were the eight that were taken away earlier. All I will say about them is this. They were a threat to the President, but more importantly to my way of thinking, they were a threat to my family." He stopped, and scanned the group. Mary had absolutely no doubt that he was being 100% truthful. She got the distinct impression that this group of young people would protect themselves first, and the rest of them only as an afterthought.

"Now as I said, you all so far have passed our security checks, which I might add are much more stringent than anything that you may have had done before. Honestly, I don't give a shit about your backgrounds, or anything like that. What I care about is the here and now. And you all pass, so far."

One man, near the other end of the line from Mary, stepped forward while raising his hand. Logan turned and looked at him for a brief moment before he smiled and nodded. The man took that as permission to speak so he lowered his hand, and made sure he was standing straight before he spoke. "Airman Carpenter. Sir, am I allowed to ask a question."

"You are." Logan said simply.

"What type of security check did we pass?"

Logan's grin wasn't hidden at all as he walked over and stood before the young man. "The one that there is absolutely no way to trick, especially when none of you even think it is possible. You all passed a detailed telepathic scan as soon as you stepped off the plane."

"Excuse me?" The Airman said in shock. "Please don't misunderstand me. I would never accuse you of lying, I just find it hard to believe…." He trailed off while trying to find the right words.

However, he never needed to as a young-sounding voice spoke up from behind, causing everyone to turn and look. "Really Scooter…" A tall boy, with red hair said as he jogged down the ramp from the helicopter they had just arrived in. Behind him was another boy, and both of them were dressed in flight suits, even though neither one of them looked to be more than twelve or thirteen. "Should I remind you about the night you spent at 'Leather Paradise', and a 'gentleman' that went by the name of Lancelot?"

The man went completely pale, and literally stumbled. The boy that had spoken, moved quicker than humanly possible, and was suddenly next to the young man holding him up. "Hey there man. Don't worry. I don't tell no one the details of what I see, unless I need to. In this case, since you were there trying to 'rescue' a friend, you actually got moved a few steps higher in my book."

"Okay, back to what is important." Logan said drawing all the attention back to himself. "First off, when we enter the Base, you will each be shown to where you will be sleeping. For most of you that will mean barracks style housing, at least for the time being. As soon as your gear is stowed, we will assemble in the auditorium, where you will get your first briefing, as well as your duty assignments. Now, unless you have other questions that need to be answered right now, let's get moving." He waited for a moment, then turned and started into the cave.

Mary reached down, picked up her bag, and found herself first in line to follow this strange young man into the dark cave. She was anxious to see this crest that Logan had spoken of. As she walked behind him, and into the cave, she quickly became aware that the entryway led into a place that was as bright as the daytime.

It took 'till she entered, to see that it was actually a hangar deck. There was a Hind-D Gunship that was in the process of being repaired, as well as a number of other helicopters. And people, lots of people. To Mary this was a very familiar feeling to come into an area of somewhat organized chaos.

However, to Mary, the thing that grabbed her attention was the helicopter. Hind-Ds were Russian, she knew that much, and they were impressive. However, something else clicked into her mind then, as well. The video she had seen on the internet. The one that showed President Bryce getting attacked. And the helicopter that not only saved him, but also took out several attack fighters.

"Okay everyone, may I have your attention, please?" Logan said as he looked out over the group. Once everyone had quieted down, he spoke again. Mary noticed that two young boys, maybe eight or nine, also wearing uniforms had joined Logan.

"First off, I would like you all to meet Ronnie Tompkins and Tommy Maxwell. Ronnie is the younger brother of Billy Tompkins, the second in command of our Air Wing. Before anyone gets a thought to say something about that, not only was Billy one of the pilots that brought you all here, but he was also the co-pilot and gunner of the Hind-D sitting over there. That is the same helicopter that took on the jet fighters that were trying to shoot down President Bryce's plane Tuesday. You will quickly find that most of our members may be young, but they are just as highly skilled and trained, as anyone three to four times their age."

Pausing to let people digest what he had said, Logan then continued, "Both Ronnie and Tommy are vital members of our crew, and will be your main point of contact for whatever you need. Ronnie is the Quartermaster, and Tommy is his assistant. I will warn you all, though; Tommy is often seen with Fluffy. Do not be shocked… too much when you see her."

Logan waited, and it only took about fifteen seconds before someone bit the bait he had laid out there. "Okay, I will ask. Who, or what is Fluffy?"

Logan grinned, while both Ronnie and Tommy giggled. With a nod from Logan, Tommy turned and looked towards the back of the hangar. Mary had been expecting something strange, it just seemed to fit. However, the five foot tall, at the shoulder, Black Panther, that came strolling up towards them, and got a hug from Tommy, was even a bit much for her.

"This is Fluffy." Tommy said as he stood next to her, his head barely past her shoulders. "She says you all better behave, or she'll be having human for lunch. And she doesn't like humans… she says they taste bad."

Even though he said it with a grin, Mary couldn't help but take a step backwards, just as everyone else did. "He's kidding, right?" Someone asked.

Logan smiled but didn't answer the question. "If you would all follow Ronnie and Tommy, they will show you to your barracks. We are hoping to get some of the other pods up and functional soon, but right now, we are putting people wherever we can squeeze them. Please settle into the barracks, and look around the lower levels. At this point we are trying to keep as many of the rec facilities as we can. At 0945 Ronnie and Tommy will meet you back in the barracks to lead you all to the auditorium to start your briefing. At this point we are going to break you down into four shifts, with the first shift starting their duty shift at 0800 tomorrow morning. All those details will be given at the briefing."

Logan paused for a brief moment, then nodded more to himself than to anyone else, "Please follow Ronnie and Tommy, and I will speak with you all again in about two and a half hours."

As the new people started to follow Tommy and Ronnie, Logan moved over to Mary. "Ma'am, if you would please accompany me, I will show you to your room."

Mary smiled at the boy in front of her and spoke softly. "Thank you very much for the thought. However, my place is with the rest of the troops."

Logan gave her a half smirk and spoke, not verbally, but in her mind. 'That is all the more reason why you need to take a room where I have in mind. If you will just humor me for now, when I am done explaining, if you still wish to bunk with the rest of them, you certainly may.'

Mary looked at him for a moment before she nodded. As they walked away, Logan spoke softly, "I know that you have many questions, and I'll answer all of them, but please wait until we are in our pod. What I wish to discuss with you is not for general consumption." Instead of answering, Mary simply nodded, and concentrated on remembering where they were going.

They finally came to a door that had the UNIT crest on it, with large yellow print stating 'RESTRICTED ACCESS!' Underneath it, in smaller lettering was printed, "Enter only if your sanity and stomach can handle it!'

Logan looked at Mary and grinned. "That would be Juan. You'll meet him soon enough. Hopefully he won't scare you away."

Mary smiled back as she shook her head. "Son, I have played mommy to some of the toughest Marines in this nation's military. I am sure there is little that I haven't seen yet."

Logan turned, opened the door and walked in, while throwing over his shoulder, "I'll remind you of that when my mom has to give you some of the Valium we keep on hand just for the adults…"

Mary shook her head and followed Logan into the room. She was somewhat surprised by what she saw when she walked in. They entered a large common room that was spread out like a wedge from where they entered. Towards the back of the large room was a stairway going up to a second level; as well as ten doors, five on the bottom level, and five on the top. "This is our pod. Technically it could hold up to forty people; right now though, it holds all of the Core UNIT leadership, our parents, and family."

Mary saw a young blond-haired boy in the 'kitchen' area, who seemed to be pouring over maps. Behind him was a large pot on the stove, and a large amount of bottles spread all over the counter.

"That's Jory…" Logan said with a grin. Before he could say more, a door on the top level opened up, and out walked the same boy that had flown the helicopter earlier. Even with Mary having seen most everything before, the sight of a young, preteen boy walking out of the room, naked, obviously having just showered, and drying his hair was something that still caught her by surprise.

To make matters even worse, another boy followed right behind him, equally as naked, with a towel draped over his shoulder. Logan chuckled as he saw her face. "Well, then we have the nudists. The red head is Will Casey. The other is Billy Tompkins. They were the ones that flew you guys in here."

Will overheard what Logan said and pulled the towel off his head as he was drying his hair, and grinned. "Hey Mary. Hope you enjoyed the flight. Sorry it was so calm."

Mary couldn't help but chuckle, although it was strange for someone so young to be so comfortable being naked. "It was perfect. I was actually able to catch some shut-eye, which I don't often do on a helicopter."

"Well, if you want something a bit more fun, we'll take you up some other time and show you what those babies can really do." Will said with a grin.

"I look forward to it." Mary said in her best diplomatic voice. Which only caused all four boys to laugh. Which Mary joined in with, a moment later. "You better watch it. Will and Billy aren't satisfied until someone throws up!" Jory laughed out. "And they know how to do it!"

"Oh go back to making your booms!" Billy cried out with fake indignation. "Or better yet, shove some up your….."

"Billy! There is a lady present!" Logan said somewhat harshly, causing Billy to shut up quickly, and blush.

"Sorry." He responded in a sheepish voice.

"Don't worry about it, Billy." Mary said with a chuckle. "I'm a Marine. I doubt there is anything you can say, that I have not heard before." Knowing that it would be best to change the topic, Mary walked over to where Jory was to see what he was doing. She looked down at the map, and saw that it was blueprints of the base.

She looked up and met Jory's eyes. The boy was looking back at her with an expression that showed absolutely nothing. She tore her eyes away from his, and looked behind him to what was on the counter. It only took her a moment to figure out what was going on.

She'd spent six years working within an Ordnance Supply Depot. One of the other things they did was create the explosives used by the military. What was being cooked up in the kitchen was C-4 explosive. "Ummmm…." Mary asked hesitantly. "Is that C-4 you're making."

Jory almost jumped up and down in his excitement. "Yeah, it is!" He said in a very hyperactive way, rushing through his words so quickly it was almost one word, "See one thing we need to do with every secret base is put the scuttle charges in. Now, yeah, I could have ordered what I needed, but really my stuff's better. Not to mention, the only real way to do it right, is to not let people know I'm doing it, and ordering a whole buncha stuff that I can make better anyways, would just let everyone know what I'm doing, and we can't have that. So you really know how to make C-4? Logan said we would like you, but I didn't really know, you know, since you're old and stuff. But since you know how to make C-4, you gotta be kewl. Can I call you grandma!?" Jory was literally bouncing in place as he spoke, doing a very good impression of a child who couldn't wait to go to the bathroom.

It took Mary almost thirty seconds to process what he had said, formulate a proper response, and get her mouth working to answer him. "If you would like, Jory, I would be honored." One thing about Mary though. She was quick on her feet. Just knowing that this was some sort of test, Mary decided to turn the tables on them a bit.

She walked over to the pot, took a peek inside, then nodded. She put herself into 'inspection mode' which means her face showed nothing. Next, she walked over to the table, and looked down at the blueprints. She studied them for several seconds, taking in the support structures, as well as the little 'X's' that were marked around. All of her military training came into play as she processed what she was seeing. Finally, she pointed to a spot, and looked up at Jory. "You need to move this point, over to here. Doing that will allow you to save yourself about 2 pounds, as well as set the chain reaction in such a way that it will give the people inside an extra three minutes to make it to the escape tunnels here and here. Setting up a cascade series of explosions will bring down the hangar bay and command center first, while dropping the base one level at a time, giving the ones in the lower levels a few more minutes to escape."

The room was quiet. When she looked up from the map, the first people she saw were Will and Billy standing there, both of their towels held loosely in their hands as they stared, open mouthed, at her. Her look then went to Logan who had a satisfied smile, but when her eyes fell on Jory she had to stop herself from laughing. His mouth was moving, but no sound was coming out. He was staring at her in complete shock, and looked like he was about to fall over. Finally he shook his head, and looked down at the map, running his finger over it, and muttering very softly to himself.

He finally looked up at her, then over at Logan. "She's right… I… I can't believe I missed something so simple…"

"Don't worry, Jory, the fact that you planned this, and are making the explosives, shows that you're one of the best I have ever met. This is something that someone once showed me a while ago, that not many others had even thought about."

"Guys, I told you she was good." Logan said as he came over and put an arm around Jory's shoulder, trying to soothe the boy's battered ego. "However, I think it is time for Mary to be brought up to speed on who and what we are." Jory nodded and went back to the plans. Logan then escorted Mary to one of the couches, and indicated that she should sit. Once she was sat down, Logan moved to a chair next to the couch, and sat himself. Will and Billy quickly left, no doubt, to go get some clothes on.

"I'm sure you have a lot of questions you want to ask, but before you get into them, I would like to explain something, and then ask you a question. It's all tied together, so I will just explain, and then you will understand the question. One of the abilities that a powerful telepath has, is being able to bring other people into what we call a mental scape. It is a construction of the telepath's mind, where they bring people in, so the other person thinks, feels, and believes that they are in a new place, a place that is whatever the telepath wants it to be. The benefit of it is this, mental communication is much quicker than verbal. Giving people the ability of spending what may seem like hours working on something, or discussing a problem, while in reality it is mere moments. There is a lot of information I feel that you need, and this would be the quickest way. So, would you consent to a mental scape conversation?"

Mary hesitantly nodded, and suddenly she felt her eyes slowly close, as if she were going to sleep. When she reopened her eyes she looked around and found herself in the same room, yet no one else was there. There was something else different, but she just couldn't put her finger on what it was. "What you are feeling is the difference in the mental scape. I could easily tell you a lie, but you will just as easily know that what I am telling you is false. To give you an example, what do you feel when I tell you that I am only twelve years old?"

Immediately Mary could feel, deep down inside herself that what Logan had just said was false. "That's wrong." She said in a measured tone. "I'm not sure how I know, but I know that you're not twelve."

"You're right." Logan said with a smile. "I'm actually thirteen. But I wanted you to know what it feels like if someone tells a lie in here. There's a lot that I need to tell you about, but I also need you to know that what I am telling you is true."

"Why?" Mary said with a confused look. "Why have you singled me out? I know for a fact that there were at least four or five people that I came here with that are just as qualified, if not more so, than I am."

Logan smiled as he stood up and offered his hand to Mary. "Perhaps on certain things." He said as he helped her to her feet. "For the official job I have in mind, that is very likely true; however, there are a lot of other things that you will probably end up doing that require someone like you." He started to walk towards the door, and spoke as they walked. "I could easily shift the scenes around us, to show you all I want to show you, but honestly, most minds are better able to handle change like that, if we walk through a door. So I want to take you on a tour, not of the base, although that will come later. I want to show you who, and more importantly what, we are. In order for you to be most effective, you will need to know that."

He came to the door, then looked over his shoulder. "You need to keep a few things in mind when I show you this. First off, everything you are seeing is in the past, and nothing we do will change it. Most of this I did not witness first-hand, but I am reconstructing the events from the memories of those that were there. Second, some of the things you will see are horrible… In the worst sense of the word. However you need to know it, to truly understand. Prepare yourself."

Mary took a deep breath then nodded. She just knew that Logan was not going to hold anything back. She knew she was in for something that was going to change her; she just didn't know how much it was going to alter her life. Logan nodded and opened the door, and walked through. Mary took a deep breath and followed him through.

She found herself on a busy city street. Looking around she couldn't tell what city it was, but knew it was a big one. They were in a not so nice section of town, and it was getting close to nightfall. She looked over at Logan, who pointed. Following his direction she looked down the street. Her eyes fell on a small beat up car that came to a stop in front of them. A woman got out of the car, walked to the back door, and opened it up. Mary watched as she took a very young boy out of the back seat, stood him up on the sidewalk, and closed the door.

"Joey…" The woman said softly. "I need you to wait here for a little bit. Okay? I'll be back to get you in about ten minutes. Will you be brave for mommy?"

The young boy nodded, although he was confused and afraid. Mary watched the woman give the boy a hug, then climb back in the car, and drive away. The boy just stood there looking around, not knowing what to do. "The boy is Joey Casey, or as you will know him now, Adam. His mother just dropped him off, but she will not be back for him." Logan's voice was soft, yet haunted. "Come on." He said after a few seconds as Mary watched the boy stand there, cars passing by quickly, people walking all around, and the boy was getting more and more scared. Every fiber of her being wanted to rush to the boy, but Logan's words stopped her. She couldn't do anything, so she sighed, nodded, turned and followed Logan to the doorway of a shop.

When she followed him through this one, they found themselves in the same big city, only this time they were in an alleyway. It was the middle of the night, and there were homeless people all over the place. She followed Logan until she saw an old bum lying on the ground asleep. Curled up next to him was the boy; only this time, he was much skinnier, and older.

Mary turned when she heard cars approaching. As soon as the four sedans stopped, a group of men jumped out, and ran up to the sleeping pair. They grabbed the boy, but the man tried to stop them. Mary couldn't help but jump when the gunfire erupted, as four different men pulled guns, and shot the bum. Joey started screaming, and the guy that grabbed him pulled a syringe full of something, and slammed it none to carefully into the boy's arm. Moments later the boy slumped unconscious. "That's when they took Joey." Was all Logan said as he turned and walked away, back towards the door they had come in from.

"Who's 'they'?" Mary asked as they walked. "Why did they take him?"

Instead of answering, he simply opened the door, and walked through. Mary sighed and followed him. This time she found herself in a hospital room, with the boy lying on the bed. Tubes, wires, and all sorts of other things all around him. Mary tried to go up to the bed, but Logan grabbed her arm and pulled her off to the side just as the door opened.

"Yes Sir, he is coming along nicely. I expect to wake him up in a few days, and we'll be able to test everything fully." A man in a lab coat said to another man who was in a military uniform.

"That's Doctor Marcus, and the other man is Colonel Brightbart." Logan said softly.

"And you are confident he will be a full success?" Brightbart said as he looked down at the young boy in the bed.

"Well obviously we will not know the full details until he wakes up, and goes through some physical training. He's been kept under sedation for several months while the modifications were made. But yes, I think he will be." Dr. Marcus said as he stepped up next to the Colonel. "Observe." Marcus then pulled a small knife out of his pocket. He grabbed some gauze from a nearby table, held the knife to the boy's arm, and made a quick, deep cut in the skin. Quickly he put the gauze over the wound to stop the blood from going everywhere. Mary gasped and tried to step forward, but Logan's hand on her arm stopped her.

"Normally a cut like that would take weeks to heal, take multiple stitches, and leave a scar." Doctor Marcus said as he held pressure over the wound. "However with young Adam here, it will not take that long at all."

"Adam? I thought his name was Joseph." The Colonel asked with raised eyebrows.

"It was; however since we have all but eradicated all of his memories, we gave him a new name. While he may not be the first, he is going to be the greatest of the Genesis Project. So we gave him the name Adam." Marcus said with a grin.

"I see." Brightbart said with a disinterested nod.

Both men were silent for another minute until Marcus checked his watch. "Three minutes, shall we see how the wound is doing?"

Brightbart simply nodded. Marcus pulled back the gauze, and Mary strained to see what had happened. The doctor grabbed a saline bottle, and placed an absorbent pad under Adam's arm, then washed the blood away. She couldn't help but gasp out in surprise as the wound was almost completely closed, and was only seeping a bit of blood.

"Impressive. If the rest of your results are as good, I am sure General Adams will be very pleased. I will be back in six months for another testing, at which point I will want to see just how well you have done."

"Of course Colonel." Marcus said as he finished cleaning up the wound, and bandaging it. The two men then left the room.

As soon as the door closed, Mary rushed to the boy's side. She brushed the boy's hair out of his eyes, before looking up at Logan. The fire in her eyes was almost enough to make Logan step back. Mary was in full 'Momma Bear mode'. "What's going on here?" She demanded of Logan.

"We are currently in a secret military hospital located just north of Des Moines, Iowa. This is one of many facilities where they are creating what is known internally as, Genesis Children. Super Soldiers. Faster, smarter, stronger, and more resilient than any normal human."

"No…." Mary said shaking her head. "It's just not possible…Not here… Not in the US!"

Logan walked up and placed a hand on her shoulder. "You're right. There is one part of this picture that you are missing. To put this in terms that you understand. I saw in your mind that you are a fan of the 'Amber Chronicles'. We, my family and I, are not from this 'Shadow'. We found ourselves here Monday morning. We're not sure how, or why, and we certainly did not 'walk' here, but we are here. So you are correct, the US military that you are familiar with, did not do this."

Mary studied Logan for a few moments, then looked back down at Adam. Logan knew her mind was running a million miles a minute, and simply waited for her to process. Finally after almost five full minutes of silence, Mary looked up at Logan. "To make sure I understand what you are saying. You all are super soldiers created in a Shadow Realm, and somehow managed to find your way here?"

"Sort of. The only part that is inaccurate is the 'you all part'. Some of us are; Adam, Jory, Juan, Will, Chang, and several others are. Some of us, myself included, are not a part of the genetic manipulation that was part of the Genesis project. There are a lot more details, but these are the basics of it." Logan said while meeting her stare.

Mary sighed deeply and fell silent. It was almost two minutes before she spoke again. "Part of me refuses to believe that anything like this is even possible. However, I have been in the military long enough, seen more than enough, to know that I cannot disregard what my eyes are telling me, simply because I do not want to believe it."

She paused again as she looked down and stroked the young boy's forehead with her hand. When she finally looked up again, her eyes were filled with compassion, understanding, and a deep burning fire. "What else is there to show me?"

Logan sighed as he nodded. "This is all that you NEED to see. However, to get a full understanding of who we are, the best way is to see how Juan grew up."

"Juan? I have not met him yet, have I?" Mary asked.

"No. He is currently recovering from a bullet wound that by-passed his armor, and tore up his internal organs. It almost killed him, but he's too stubborn to die." Logan said with a fond smile.

"That school. In Texas. He was there?"

"Yes. He put himself between a school bus full of kids, and a group of federal agents that were trying to capture or kill them."

Mary considered for a moment. She was about to speak when Logan said, "Mary, before you agree to see this, you must know that what Juan went through is a hundred times worse than what Adam did. Adam is our leader, our General. He was created to give the orders, to lead from the front. Juan… Juan was created to be a killer. A cold-blooded, heartless killer. They almost succeeded. If it wasn't for the fact that Juan split himself into two people they would have. He was barely able to keep his humanity. But… Well… Think about what it would take to create a psychotic killer, especially a child who is only ten…"

Mary paled as she thought about it. She stared off into space for a few moments before she looked back at Logan. "Just from the small bit I know about you all so far, I know you are all close. Jory called me his grandmother, and frankly, deep down, I know that was more than just a joke. If it will help me understand my new family, then I need to see it."

Logan searched her eyes for a moment before he nodded. Wordlessly he turned and went to the door. When he opened it, he turned and looked back at Mary. "Remember, we can stop this at any time. If needed we can come back and see more if you get overwhelmed. Just say the word." Mary squared her shoulders, nodded, and walked purposefully to and through the door.

What felt like a lifetime later, Logan and Mary found themselves back in the mental scape version of the UNIT's pod. With the tear tracks on her face, her hands shaking, and her eyes burning with rage, Mary said through her teeth, "I'm not a violent person normally. But please tell me the…people…that did that are dead." Logan simply nodded.

Mary turned slightly after giving a satisfied nod, and wiped away a few of the tears. When she looked back, Logan walked over and took her into his arms. As he hugged the older lady tightly he spoke into her ears, "There is more to see, although few things are as bad as what Juan went through. Eventually you will need to see it. Although at this point I think you have seen enough."

She nodded in agreement as he stepped back. He motioned for her to sit, so she did. Preferring to stay standing, Logan simply continued with what she needed to know. "Now, I'm sure you realize that the Genesis Augments are not normal people, but, one of the things I personally found fascinating was how they formed their own society, based on what they are. One thing you have to know, especially since you are now one of the family, is to be careful in how you challenge one of them. Being who you are, normally things would not escalate to this point, but if something happens, and you get between two of them, you may well find yourself hurt, or worse. They very much have a pack mentality, in as far as the strongest leads. The only exception to that is Chang. He is far and above the most dangerous of the Genesis Augments. However, he has accepted Adam as the leader. However, if someone were to challenge Adam for leadership of the UNIT, they are welcome to. At any time…. except in the middle of combat. If someone does, they will fight. It's winner take all. It's who they are."

"Right…" Mary said with a considering tone. "Treat them like wolves, and I should be fine?"

Logan grinned widely. "Yes, very much like that. While they have human intellect, actually above human intellect, their instincts are just as strong, if not stronger than large cats…" Logan paused for a moment, then got a truly evil look on his face. "Speaking of large cats…"

Mary slowly opened her eyes and looked around. Jory was still working on the explosives, and pouring over the maps. Will and Billy were now dressed, sitting in front of the TV, and playing some type of flying war game. It actually shocked Mary for a moment, seeing them doing something that was so… kid like.

Logan's voice floated into her mind, softly saying, "That's something you will get used to with time. Most of us can go from being soldiers and adults, to being kids in a moment. And back again even quicker."

Mary nodded as she watched the two boys being, well, two boys. It was hard to imagine having gone through what they did, and yet still being able to look so careless and free. Finally though, she pulled her eyes away from the carefree boys, and looked to Logan, who was already standing. "It's time to show you to the Command Center." Logan said softly, causing Mary to nod, and rise to her feet.

Once they were out of the pod, Logan fell in beside Mary and continued talking, "So, now you know more about us than anyone native to this world. And I can tell from your mind that you believe that we are good people, even if we have somewhat different value sets than you do. For the most part, you would be right. However, I will warn you. While we fight for what we feel is right, some of us do not bother with things like niceties. In fact, I have been known to be downright ruthless, and frankly, those that hurt the people we love… well if we let them live, it is simply so that we can terrorize them even more." He glanced over and saw that Mary was looking at him, yet didn't truly understand what he was trying to say. Logan sighed, and tried a different tactic.

"You said that you would have liked to kill the people that hurt Juan right?" Mary nodded in agreement, which caused Logan to shake his head, "I would not."

She looked at him confused for a moment, "You mean you would have let them go?"

Logan grinned a truly evil grin as he responded. "Oh no. Not in the least. They would be mine… and I mean that in the deepest sense of the word. When I say I am ruthless, I also mean I have absolutely no remorse for my actions when it comes to those that hurt my family. I do not simply kill people. I break them… first their body, then their mind, and finally their soul. By the time I am done with someone, they will be exactly what I want them to be. And then, maybe, I will let them die… maybe."

Mary was stunned to silence and Logan let that silence hang. They reached the elevator, and waited until it arrived and the doors opened. They stepped back to allow the soldiers that were in there to exit, before they got on the now empty elevator. As the elevator started to move, Mary finally figured out what she wanted to say. "Why did you tell me that?"

Logan sighed, reached out, and flipped the switch that brought the elevator to a stop. He then looked at Mary with a very intense look. "Because you need to know." He sighed, and visibly relaxed for a moment while he closed his eyes. When he opened them back up, she could see the intensity had left them. "Mary, out of everyone that I have met that is native to this world, there are very few people, that have the intelligence and the natural abilities, that I can put to real use. Of the ones that I have found, so far, you're the only one I have found that has the experience and knowledge to be a really effective commander in the Command Center.

"I want you to be the person in charge of the Command Center. Not just the Alpha Shift Watch Commander, but the person that makes that Command Center theirs. The rest of us have too much to do, to effectively run the Command Center as well as the rest of our duties. However, when there is something going on, I want.. no I NEED someone in command that knows who we are, what we are, and what we are really capable of. I need someone who will not question what we want to have happen, simply because as far as you know, what we are asking is impossible.

"We do not believe in that. The only things that are impossible are things that we haven't figured out how to do yet. I need someone there I can trust, someone that will back us up, and someone that can think quick enough to respond to how fast things change when we get involved. I can see in you everything I need, but you need to really know who we are, and not be shocked to the point of inactivity when something strange happens. Does that make more sense?"

Mary nodded, yet stayed silent. Logan hit the switch again, and the elevator began its ascent once again. Moments later, the door opened, and Logan and Mary stepped out of the elevator. They walked in silence down the hall, until they got to a reinforced door, complete with an armed guard on each side of it. Logan stopped in front of the door, then turned to Mary. "This is the only entrance to the Command Center. Due to who and what is in here, security is very tight. First thing you will need to do, is open the door using the palm scanner. Your palm will be recorded in here," Logan showed Mary where the scanner was, then placed his hand on it. A moment later the door clicked, and began to slide to the side.

Once it was open, Logan led Mary into another room. This one was somewhat long and had three armed people in it. One sitting at a desk directly in front of the only other door in the room. The other two were standing on either side of that door. "This room is where you get visually verified, and will have to show your ID to the guard at the desk before you can have access."

As Logan was speaking, he pulled out an ID card, and handed it to the Guard. The guard then scanned the ID while Logan took a pen and wrote his name into the ledger that was sitting on the desk. "It doesn't matter who you are; if you do not have ID, and have proper authorization to be here, you are not getting in. Another thing to keep in mind, is that people also have to be within 15 minutes of the start of their shift before they will be allowed in. The exceptions to that are people who have unrestricted access, which you will have, or there is an alert. During an alert, other shifts may be called in. If they are, then they will have access. If they are a part of a shift that was not activated, then they will not have access even during an alert. Only someone with unrestricted access can bring someone else in who is either not on shift, or does not yet have access. Once we get you inside, there will be an ID card waiting for you."

Mary nodded, which caused Logan to grin a bit bigger. "Honestly though, we only use the ID card system because we have non-UNIT members here, and some of them may be working this station. There will be a telepath on duty here however, at all times."

Mary nodded in understanding as the Guard handed Logan his card back. "Good morning, sir."

The guard was about to place his hand on the palm print scanner that would open the door, but Logan spoke up, "Hold on a minute, Corporal." The man looked questioningly at Logan, as he turned to Mary. "Due to everything that's going on in there right now, I want to explain where everything is, and what it looks like, before I show you. That way when I show you around, you will know what everything is. Okay?"

When Mary nodded, Logan looked over at the Guard at the desk. "May I use your computer for a moment, please."

"Of course, sir." The man said as he got up, and stepped back so Logan could sit. Mary moved up behind him, and watched as his fingers flew over the keyboard. Next thing she saw was what looked like a live video feed of the room they were in.

"Okay, I am going to do a virtual tour first. Moving from camera to camera so you can see what I am talking about. Obviously, this is the portal to the Command Center." Logan said, then tapped a few more keys until another picture came up, and he continued.

"The entrance to the Command Center is located in the lower left hand corner of the room as you are looking at the room. The wall directly to the left has the assignment board. This is a large screen that tells you which officer is assigned to what station, what that station is assigned to monitor, and any active operations going on.

"Directly to the right is a small break room area. The room is thin but long, stretching the entire length of the room.

"Moving past the break room you enter the main room. The wall that backs up to the break room is full of linked monitors. They can either display one large picture, or be broken up into many different pictures, depending on the needs at the moment.

"If you walk over to the center of the monitor wall, and look towards the back of the room you have two sets of computer stations on each side of you, two to the right, and two to the left. There is a wide aisleway, with stairs directly in front of you, going to the back of the room. You walk up two stairs, and get to the first set of stations.

"Each station holds three different work stations. That will give you a max of six people on each side of you. Each workstation has two monitors that can function together or separately. Above each station is a hanging placard that numbers each station.

"Moving up from there, you have two more levels of work stations, giving a total of 36 different work stations. 12 per level, three levels.

"When you reach the last level up, you would ascend two more steps to what is called the 'Watch' level. Directly in front of you will be a singular station with a total of ten monitors. This is for the Duty Commander, or more commonly known as the Watch Commander, which I hope you will be. On each side of the Watch Commander is another single station that holds a total of four monitors each. These stations are operated by the 'Ops Commanders'. Each Ops commander is responsible for overseeing their side of the room. Eighteen work stations each.

"The level above that is where the command staff hang out. The centerpiece of the 'Command Deck' is a large holographic table. Directly in front of the table, facing the monitor wall is a total of ten small work stations. These are each the size of the normal work stations down below. During an operation, this is where Adam, Jack, and other military commanders would be stationed, able to watch what is going on below.

"There is one level above the Command Deck; this is a giant workstation, that is in the shape of a horseshoe. This station is almost exclusively reserved for me, Daileass, and the Chipmunks. There are over eighty monitors in that horseshoe that can mirror each individual work station. My brothers and I designed it to be the nerve center of the entire Command Center. At this moment there are only four people who have full authorization to use this station; however, others can be given access if needed.

"Spread out throughout the room are also 'hidden stations'; these are usually kept hidden simply due to space restraints, but can be used when needed. All totaled, there are 60 different stations in the Command Center, making it one of the most advanced Command Centers that the Unit has designed.

"Off to the left and right of the Command Deck are offices. The one to the left, as you are looking towards the back of the room, is Jack's private office. This office has the ability of monitoring what is going on in the Command Center, as well as having a smaller version of the holographic table.

"To the right of the Command Deck is my office, off limits to everyone except me, Adam, Daileass and the Chipmunks." Logan looked up at Mary who was nodding. "Okay, so are you ready to go in and see it first-hand."

"Yes." Mary said simply, so Logan stood up and walked over to the door. As soon as he got close, the guard that was now at the desk placed his palm on the scanner, allowing the door to open.

Once they were inside, Mary saw another pair of guards standing on either side of the door, and literally froze! The first thing she saw was that they were huge, both nearly seven foot tall. The second thing was that their faces were very cat like. Yes, Logan had 'warned' her about them, but even with that warning she was not prepared to see them in person.

"Mary, I would like you to meet Caesar and Hercules. Caesar is second in command of the G-6 Assault team, while Hercules is one of the primary Medics on that team… Close your mouth, Mary…" Logan giggled.

Both the Tiger Hybrids gave a polite nod, then Logan continued, "Guys, this is General Mary Macintosh. I am setting her up to be Alpha Shift Commander, as well as my voice when I am not here. She is to have unrestricted access, and her orders are to be followed. Understood?"

"Yes, sir!" They both said in unison. Mary, for her part, shook her head to clear it from the surprise of coming face to face with a Genesis Hybrid for the first time. Logan then led Mary further into the room, and stopped by the main assignment board, and a computer terminal that was right next to the board.

"What I am about to give you, you will need to keep on you at all times. Trust me, after a few hours, you will not even remember you have them until you need them." Logan reached into a small bin that was put into the wall, and pulled out a small disk, about the size of a dime. He then pulled out a small oval shaped device that looked to be about an inch long and half an inch wide. He then turned to Mary and smiled. "These are your communication devices. The first one sits right behind your ear, while the longer one sits right above your throat. Once they are activated, they will 'taste' your DNA, and will only work for you. And don't worry you will not feel anything. Most of us have had them surgically implanted, but that is not needed. Everyone who works in the Command Center is issued a set, so that they can be in contact with the Command Center no matter where they are, as long as they are in the base. If you leave the base you will be required to take a signal booster." He reached back into the bin and pulled out a small box that was about the size of a pack a cigarettes. "With this, you will have real time communications abilities anywhere within about five thousand miles of this base."

Logan then reached up, pushed Mary's hair out of the way, and gently placed the small disk behind her ear, and then took the other, longer piece and placed it on her throat. "These are waterproof and will not fall off. So don't worry about showering or anything else. You won't hurt them. The pickup is also subvocal, which means you don't have to actually speak for it to pick you up."

"Okay, so how do I use it to speak to someone?" Mary asked as she rubbed her throat noticing that she really didn't feel it and wouldn't know it was there unless she was really looking for it.

Logan smiled and closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them back up. "Another neat little trick we have. I just implanted the knowledge in your mind. All you have to do now is think about it, and you will know."

Mary was shocked. She knew she really shouldn't be, but she was anyways. As soon as she thought about it, all of these commands popped into her mind. And she knew she wouldn't forget. As much as she didn't want to, she started to get very concerned about this boy, these kids, having access to her inner most thoughts. If they could implant knowledge like this, what else could they do? Or better yet, what couldn't they do.

'Mary, I hate to say it, but you're screaming mentally. I wasn't looking, but I couldn't help but hear it. I understand about being freaked out. I would be worried if you weren't. I am going to put something else in your mind, and that is the knowledge of how to block all but the strongest of Telepaths. Also, I am going to build your walls up so that you don't broadcast as easily. Before I do this, though, I want your permission.' Logan said in Mary's mind, and for a moment she fought down the panic. Finally she realized, deep down inside of her, that had Logan meant her any harm, there really wasn't anything she could do to stop it. Oddly enough that was a very calming realization. She thought back to something George had said one time, which she never really understood 'till now; 'Mary, once you know, deep down inside yourself, that you could die at any moment, Honey, that's the most liberating realization you have ever made.'

"He was a wise man." Logan said verbally with a small smile.

"Yes… yes he was." Mary said with clarity of thought like she hadn't had in a long time. "Do what you need to do, then teach me what I need to do."

"Okay, this is the final part that I need to show you right now." Logan said a while later, as he was walking Mary back down to their Pod, since she was going to be staying in the Core Unit Pod. "As you know, there are some pretty sick people in the world, and sometimes we have to deal with the messes that they make."

Mary nodded as she looked at the door they had stopped in front of, wondering just what she would find. "Do you also remember what I told you I do to those that hurt my family?"

Hesitantly Mary nodded, thinking back to what was said in the elevator, what seemed like hours ago. "Inside this room are several children. Fifteen of them to be exact. Fourteen of them, four girls and ten boys, between the ages of eight and fourteen, were rescued from a place that they knew of as 'The Temple'. They were being indoctrinated into a sort of cult where the kids were being taught to be sex slaves for anyone they were sold to." Mary couldn't help but gasp. "They have no will of their own right now, and need to be built up, and de-programed."

"Shouldn't they have been in a hospital?" Mary asked softly, trying not to break down at the very thought of kids being used as sex slaves.

Logan snorted in laughter, very non-humorous laughter. "No offense, but I have seen what 'mental hospitals' do to people like this. They would be medicated, and forgotten about. I will NOT tolerate that. I have brought kids back from this before, and while it cuts my soul to shreds to do it, I know… deep down, I know that they will come out of it somewhat whole. There will be long-term problems, but at least I know I can make it to where they can function on their own again."

Mary nodded, knowing how intense Logan was being, it was something that, while he could do, he hated having to do it. He took a deep breath, and then let it out slowly. "The final boy… David. Well he is the one that is going to be the biggest problem for you."

"Why's that?" Mary asked after a moment of silence.

"Because I am breaking him." Logan said softly.

Mary was silent for many moments before she asked in a voice that had a certain edge to it, "Why?"

"Because his crimes against his family would have, should have led to him being killed. However, I think I can turn him around, and make him into something that resembles a decent human being. However, before I can begin to remake him, I have to break him down… totally. In a way it's like boot camp, only I have to get down to the base of his personality." Logan's voice was calm and confident, even if his eyes betrayed him.

"Show me." Mary said, suddenly very resolute in her newfound role. It became clear then, as Logan turned and opened the door, that she was not simply being asked to join with them; she was being asked to, in a very real way, help them grow, guide them, and make sure that, even with their great abilities, they do not abuse them. The magnitude of that realization struck her almost physically. She squared her shoulders, and walked into the room, the General she was, and the Grandmother she had just become.

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