Castle Roland


by Zackron


Chapter 3

Published: 8 Apr 14


Copyright © 2012 - 2014 by Zackron and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

Near the end of Chapter 2 …

"A massive military strike has just started in Texas. A small National Guard base is being hammered by the normal military…" Several gasps could be heard from around the room, before Alvin continued. "It seems that the challenger for President Ashwood was hiding in that base, ever since he was declared a traitor and ordered arrested by the Ashwood Administration."

Adam stood there with a shocked look on his face, trying to process what Alvin just told him. "But… but.. that's not possible." Adam finally stammered out.

"Unfortunately, son, it is." Ernest said in a soft, yet serious voice.

"Adam… There's no real chance for him to survive this." Alvin stated, and tears started to from the boy's eyes. "They're attacking with over four hundred planes, fighters, bombers, troop transports… hell their throwing everything they can at him." Alvin paused, but before Adam could say anything he continued. "Adam, you need to know. The challenger… It's Jack."

Adam was stunned for a moment, not really understanding, till a moment later. "Jack… Bryce?! Our Jack?"

Chapter 3

1:00am MST – Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Footprints Logo"Probably not our Jack," Logan said quietly. "This universe's version of him would be my guess."

"We gotta help him!" Jory said quickly.

Adam, with tears leaking from his eyes sadly spoke. "It's too far away. We don't have transporters, we…."

Adam got cut off by Simon's excited shout from the laptop. "He's in the air! What fighters he's got left, are trying to screen for him, but they're falling fast!"

"What direction are they heading?" Adam called out, a sliver of hope forming in his eyes.

"They've gone transonic, and are preforming evasive maneuvers…" Simon said as he stopped tapping on the keyboard, and looked right at Adam. "They're coming this way."

Silence reigned in the room for nearly thirty seconds as all eyes fell on Adam. He was standing there with his eyes closed tightly, and his body vibrating ever so slightly. Finally, he opened his eyes and looked around for a second. When he started issuing orders, people started jumping. "Will, Billy, get you're asses in the Hind. Daileass, you and I are flying the Chinook. Juan, Jory, Chang, Ronnie, Tommy, Runt, and Haden, get your asses to the armory and get us some heavy weapons." He turned to Janet and Joe. "Mom, get whatever you need for trauma victims. If we get there in time, I'm sure there's gonna be some people hurt. Dad, I need you and Khan to help get the helicopters out of the hanger and ready to go." As soon as he was done speaking people started running out of the room.

He then turned to the chipmunks. "You guys stay here, get ready for incoming casualties, and keep us apprised of what's going on. If needed, I need the satellites taken down. One of you stays on the radio with us at all times." The three of them nodded as one.

Adam looked around to see who else was there when a steady but soft voice came from behind him. "What about us?"

Adam turned and saw Hac and Barrett standing there. "We may not be a part of your U.N.I.T., but we ain't gonna sit back while a fights going on." Hac said, and Barrett nodded his agreement.

Adam smiled and nodded. "Thanks." He considered for a brief moment, then spoke again. "Hac, can you help Khan and Joe get the helicopters out of the hanger? Barrett, could you help the others get the weapons." Barrett nodded, as he and Hac started to jog from the room. Before they left, Adam called out. "I take it you guys don't need armor?"

Hac stopped and looked at him with a grin. "Nah.. we'll be fine." And then they were gone.

"Should we go to the armory to get weapons, too?" Forth asked, as he and Stan continued to stand in the lines that use to exist.

"Yeah, you never called our names," Stan added.

Adam held the groan in, as he saw the serious looks on the two young boys' faces. He moved over and knelt in front of them. "No, I have something more important for you guys to do." Adam turned and pointed at the two families standing together. "I need you guys to stay here and protect them. If something happens while we're gone, it'll be up to the two of you to make sure no one hurts them. Can you do that?"

"But how can we protect them if we don't have guns, too?" Stan asked as Forth whispered something in his ear. Moments later, the boy's eyes lit up. "Oh yeah, we don't need weapons. We promise to protect both families with our lives, sir!"

As soon as Stan finished talking, both he and Forth gave Adam a salute before rushing over to the families that they were now responsible for.

Adam turned to look at Logan, but before he could say anything, Ernest spoke up. "I'm going, too. Where do you need me?"

"Earnest, no!" Margret pleaded. "You promised me that you had given this up a long time ago."

Earnest kissed his wife on the cheek and then looked directly into her eyes. "If I were to let these children, who know nothing at all about President Brice, go and risk their lives to try to save him and his family, while I stayed here, how could I ever look at myself in the mirror again?"

Margret sighed and nodded.

Adam turned and stared the older man right in the eyes. They held each other's eyes for a few moments, before Adam nodded. "We don't have any of the advanced body armor that will fit you, but hopefully you won't need any. You're in the Chinook with me."

Ernest nodded while Adam turned back to Logan. "You coming with us?"

"You bet your ass I am." Logan said, as he smiled and turned to leave the room, Adam and Ernest right on his heels.

Once everyone had run out of the conference room to do whatever it was that they had been assigned to do, only the chipmunks, Stan, Forth, and Andy, along with the two sets of adults and their respective children were left.

"I think I know a few boys who have a little too much caffeine in their diets," Sarah commented, as she glanced around at the others still in the room.

"Oh, they haven't even started getting into the caffeine yet," Simon grinned.

Theodore giggled, "Yeah, just be sure to run if they ever start to bring out the BBQ sauce."

"BBQ Sauce?" Sarah asked.

"All right then, I'm heading to the command center," Alvin said quickly, as he grabbed his laptop. "You guys have fun!"

"Anyway," Simon clapped his hands together to change the subject. "You guys can hang out in here if you want and finish up the snacks, or you can hang out back in your rooms."

"I know we can't help out with the rescue or anything," Glenn began, "But is there anything else that we can do around here, to help?"

"Well, since you asked," Theodore grinned. "You guys could come down to the infirmary if you want, and help us finish getting things setup down there."

"I'll go, too," Robert piped up.

Forth whispered something in Stan's ear, who then nodded. "Yeah, we'll come too."

"Do you think I could see my dad?" Andy asked in a quiet voice.

Simon looked toward Andy, and could literally feel both the hurt and the emptiness pouring out of him. "You bet," he smiled, as he walked over to the slightly taller boy and wrapped his arm around his back. "Come on; let's go see how he's doing."

As the boys walked out of the room, the adults glanced at each other. Apparently deciding that there should be at least some adult supervision in an infirmary full of kids, they all decided to follow along as well.

Alvin skidded to a halt as he entered the control center. Being careful to jump over one of the many patch cables that lined the floor connecting all the various older terminals to Logan's far more powerful system, he quickly plugged a loose network wire into the back of his laptop.

"Let's see if you can keep up with me, this time," Alvin looked apprehensively toward the terminal that was in front of him as he pressed the buttons needed to bring it to life. Already deep inside his positronic brain, he was preforming a multitude of calculations based on the information he had already seen earlier. Now, it was just going to be an issue of pairing all that information up and grabbing the external feeds that he would need. The main problem he would run into was the system not being able to respond fast enough to all the different tasks he would be preforming.

"Hum," Alvin said to himself, as a thought popped into his head. He then reached over and pulled one of the other terminals closer to him, such that he would be able to reach both keyboards at the same time. "Yeah, this might work."

Over the next few minutes, his fingers flew across both keyboards, quickly switching from one to the other, while sometimes typing on both at the same time. In short order, various maps, satellite photos, and radar images began to appear on his screens. "Oh, damn," he sighed to himself as he continued to put all the pieces of information he was collecting together. Finally, he came across something he knew Adam was not going to like at all.

Alvin grabbed the radio and began to inform Adam and the others of the bad news. "Mission lead… Be advised, estimated time of intercept is seventeen, one seven minutes. There are currently twenty four bogies chasing the target, with nine defenders. You're heading right into a hornets nest. Target aircraft is in total stealth mode, but the fighters around it are not. 'Top Dog' will reach the target area apx. three minutes ahead of you."

Several long moments went by before Adam's voice replied in a less than enthusiastic voice. "Acknowledged."

Once the group arrived in the surprisingly large infirmary, Theodore began to direct everyone in what needed to be setup, and where. At the same time, Simon took Andy into the smaller intensive care area where Andy's father was lying on one of the beds, hooked up to several different pieces of monitoring equipment.

"Dad?" Andy whispered as he walked to the foot of the bed. Getting no response, he turned his head back toward Simon with a grave look of concern on his face.

Simon nodded reassuringly. "He's in stable condition, just asleep."

"When will he wake up?" Andy asked with concern.

"That depends on him," Simon answered truthfully. "It might be a few hours, or it might be a day or two, it's really hard to say."

Although he didn't like it, Andy nodded in understanding. "Can I stay in here with him?"

"Yeah," Simon nodded. "I'm going to be over in the other room, helping the others if you need anything."

To Simon and Theodore's relief, Janet and Chang had already gotten the hardest stuff taken care of earlier, and had the rest of the supplies put in the general area that they needed to be. With four kids, and three adults helping out, it took less than ten minutes for them to get sheets on the beds, and the supplies and equipment laid out ready to support whatever triage that might be needed.

During most of the time, Stan and Forth were conspicuously missing. A few minutes before the work was done, they walked out from one of the small supply closets.

"What were you guys doing?" Theodore asked, as he and Glenn were stocking one of the shelves with various bottles of pills.

"Following orders," Forth grinned innocently as Stan nodded in agreement.

Theodore tilted his head slightly as he did a very light surface scan on both boys. Seeing that they each truly felt that they were working on stuff needed to carry out Adam's orders, he shrugged. "Okay. In that case, if you want, you can help them over there with getting the bandages finished."

Both boys cheerfully skipped over by Sarah and a few of the others that were working on the bandages. A few minutes later, everything that could possibly be done to have things ready, was finished. While Simon went to collect Andy, Robert walked over to where Theodore was standing.

"Theodore?" Robert asked hesitantly, not sure if he had the right name for the right triplet. "That kid that came to our room earlier, Ronnie, I think his name was, he mentioned that I should talk to you."

"Oh?" Theodore asked curiously, as he looked up to the eleven-year-old.

Robert nodded. "Yeah, on my wish list, just for fun, I listed a top of the line, quad core processor, and supporting motherboard. But when he looked at it, he was making comments about how low end it was and stuff."

"A quad core, huh?" Theodore grinned evilly as Simon and Andy walked in. "What do you say we take a little while we walk down to the command center, and I'll show you what a real computer can do."

Robert blinked in confusion. "Sure,"

"Actually," Theodore thought for a few seconds. "Adam and the rest of the guys are getting close to the target area, so if any of you want; you're all welcome to come to the control center with us. Either that, or you can head back to your rooms."

It wasn't a big surprise when everyone decided that they would like to go to the control center.

Simon, Theodore, and the rest of the group entered the large thirty-station control center only to find Alvin sitting there with three computer terminals within arm's reach.

"This is better than N.A.S.A.'s mission control," Robert commented, as he and the others gawked at the room filled with various computer stations. The only person who didn't seem that interested was Chad, who was falling asleep in his grandma's arms.

Alvin didn't react to Robert, or any of the new arrivals. Instead, he spoke into the radio microphone that was next to him. ""Okay, guys, we got friendlies inbound; however, they're still two seven minutes out."

Once Alvin had finished speaking, he glanced behind toward Simon and Theodore. "About time you guys showed up," seeing that neither of the boys seemed to get the hint, he continued. "A little help here?"

Had it been any less dire of a situation, the two chipmunks might have held out a bit longer. As it turned out, the entire time they had been standing there, both boys had been getting a full telepathic update on everything that had been going on up to that point. A split second later, Theodore and Simon each leaped toward the closest open station.

"That'll be way too late." Adam's voice replied over the loudspeakers. "Okay, guys, we're getting close, get the turrets ready, I have no idea what we're gonna face."

"We're almost on top of them!" Billy's voice followed over the radio.

"Our guys are just about to arrive," Alvin filled them in. "All of the hostiles are down, other than six."

"Oh dear," Margret cried out having a general idea of what a single Hind and Chinook could do against six fighter jets. "They'll be sitting ducks out there."

"If it were anyone other than Will and Bill at the controls of the Hind, ya might be right," Simon smiled as he pulled up more screens of information on his terminal.

"So are the bogies!" Alvin replied over the radio after getting a telepathic update from Simon.

"Fuck," Theodore called out from his terminal. "I'm showing a hit on our target."

"THEY'RE HIT! Target hit!" Alvin cried over the radio.

"We're live!" Will's voice replied from the loudspeaker. "Billy, turn off the stealth! Give the bad guys another target to play with."

"How are you getting all this stuff?" Robert asked, as he watched the various screens at the workstations the chipmunks were using. "This doesn't look like stuff you would normally find on the net."

"This goes a little beyond the internet," Simon grinned at Robert before turning back to his terminal.

Everyone in the room listened with baited breath as the chatter over the radio continued. As events unfolded, Alvin did his best to keep everyone updated with what was happening. Two bogies down, so far… Adam's just declared this to be a rescue mission… Alright, they're on the ground.

"Can't they just pick up the good guys while they're flying by?" Stan asked curiously. "That way they wouldn't have to stop."

"That would be great," Theodore agreed. "Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that, especially with something as big as a Chinook."

"Okay, we have touchdown with the Chinook and they are trying to take on passengers." Alvin stated with a bit of bated breath.

"TAKE THAT YOU FUCK!" Everyone heard Juan's voice cry out over the loudspeaker.

"Third bogie down," Simon called out a few moments later. "Wait… that couldn't have been from Juan's…"

"Hell yeah!" Theodore answered with a slight degree of surprise. "It couldn't have been Will, so it would have to have been."

"Something good just happened?" Glenn asked.

"If we're right, Juan just knocked out one of the bogies with his Surface to Air Missile," Alvin answered quickly. "For a normal squishy, that would be like a one in a million shot."

"Squishy?" Robert asked.

"Sorry, that's our term for a normal, non-augmented person," Alvin answered.

A high degree of tension could be felt in the room as several long moments went by, filled in only by the occasional crackle of static from the radio. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Theodore announced that the Chinook was lifting off the ground.

Moments later, Adam's voice came across the radio, "Base, be advised we are coming in heavy; three eight people. Also, need you standing by to receive six critically wounded, and several more walking wounded. Doc requests two surgical units be ready upon arrival as well as several stretchers ready to go."

"Rodger that," Alvin replied into the mic. "Copied, heavy three eight people, six critical, more walking wounded, two surgical units to be on standby along with several stretchers. We show you one five minutes out, and a clear route back.

Before Alvin had finished, Theodore was already out of his chair. "Okay, anyone interested in helping with the stretchers and beds, follow me back to the infirmary."

"I think I really should find a place to set this one down," Margret commented as she used her head to motion toward the five-year-old who was passed out in her arms.

Simon glanced back toward the older woman. He didn't have to be a telepath to see the conflict in her eyes in regards to wanting the little guy to be able to sleep, while still wanting to be there for her husband when he returned. "If you want to lay him down back in your room, I'll leave the line for that intercom open, so if he wakes up or anything, we'll hear him up, and can let you know through the radio."

"Thank you," Margret's gratitude was evident through her smile, as she turned with the others to follow Theodore out of the room.

Robert was torn between wanting to follow his best friend who was turning to leave with the others, and having to leave a room of such sheer immaculate beauty, a room where he could easily spend the next several years taking it apart piece by piece to figure out how it all worked. To his surprise, Simon, one of the two boys who were staying behind, called out his name.

"Hey Robert?" Simon asked, getting the boy's attention. "Would you mind hanging out here for a few more minutes?"

Robert shared a surprised look with Glenn. "We'll catch up with you later," Glenn stated with a nod as he walked out of the room.

Once everyone was gone, Robert hesitantly walked up next to Simon, as the smaller boy frantically typed away at his keyboard.

"I hear you like computers," Simon commented as he pulled up another satellite feed.

"Uh, yeah," Robert replied in a mixture of bashfulness and distraction. "A little bit."

Alvin sniggered as he glanced toward Robert. "Given how intensely he's watching you, I would say it's a bit more than a little."

Simon nodded in agreement. "Okay, so what's your opinion of our little setup here?"

"Well," Robert began as he glanced around. "These look like pretty old terminals that you're using; probably a good thirty years old, or so. They look too old to be stand-alone, so I'm guessing they are just dumb terminals linked to a mainframe somewhere. But the patch cables that I see coming out of each of them look like the newer fiber wire cables, and they all seem to be going to the other side of the room."

"Good start," Simon grinned as he continued to type away. "Maybe you should follow them to see where they lead?"

"Alright," Robert shrugged as he walked off, following the cables.

"You can be so mean sometimes, you know that?" Alvin did his best to hold in his laughter. "Do you have any idea what you're going to do to that poor kid?"

Simon didn't have to wait long. A few moments after Robert walked away, the boy could be heard crying out from the other side for the room "Holy shit!" A few moments after that, Robert walked back over to where Simon and Alvin were sitting, with a ghost white face. "That's…. that's not possible."

"What?" Simon asked innocently, as he glanced up toward the eleven-year-old.

"That system over there… Its case isn't any larger than a normal desk top system," Robert began. "But, I took a look at the screen, and aside from the fact that I've never seen an operating system that could render task windows in 3-D space like that, there had to be at least twenty or more tasks all running at the same time, but there was no visible slowdown at all… but unless it's just a pure monitoring platform, there's no way it could be running all of that…"

Alvin and Simon both giggled as Robert took a breath, not just from what had been said, but from how hard Robert's mind was pushing itself, trying to make sense of something all his current knowledge told him should not have been possible.

"I think that qualifies as passing your test," Alvin commented.

"Yup," Simon agreed.

"Test?" Robert asked in confusion.

"Go ahead and sit down at that terminal over there. Use the same name and password you have setup on your home PC." Simon stated.

"My home PC?" Robert asked, even more confused as he did as Simon instructed and entered his name and password into the login screen. "Okay, I'm not even going to try to guess how you pulled that off."

"Yeah, let's save that one for later," Simon agreed. "Anyway, as you guessed, the system you saw over there is connected to, and is running all the other terminals you see in the room. It's processor… well, it doesn't really fit into any current conventional measurement system. Roughly speaking, you could say it's close to a two hundred megahertz system, if we were to assume that the current top of the line desktop PC would have a three megahertz processor."

Seeing that Robert was eating up every word he was saying, Simon continued. "You've just logged into that system from your work station. I've given you the equivalent of administrator access. So why don't you see what you can do with it?"

"Seriously?" Robert gasped, still not sure if he had heard the smaller boy correctly. If what the kid said was true, this system would easily have dwarfed any system that existed by leaps and bounds. Heck, it would probably put any of the known super computers to shame.

"Yes, Seriously," Simon replied. "I would show you around, but I'm in the middle of trying to maintain stealth links to four different satellites, not to mention a half dozen secure military computers, so I'm a little tied up right now."

"What if I mess something up?" Robert asked with concern.

"Then you would be one of the first to ever pull it off," Alvin called out.

"In other words, there isn't anything you could do to mess that up," Simon added.

Robert looked at both boys for a few moments. He was sure this had to be some kind of sick joke that they were pulling on him. But, the pull of checking something like this out was just too great. If it was a joke, it was a top notch one. Either way, joke or not, it couldn't hurt to give it a spin. Knowing his way around a UNIX systems as well as he did, there shouldn't be much to this at all. "Alright," he finally nodded, as he turned back toward the terminal and went to work.

Stan and Forth stood to the side of the elevator as it quickly made its way up to the ground floor. While Sarah and Desmond each had one of the mobile beds on wheels, Theodore, Glenn, Andy, and grandma each carried a long wooden stretcher. This, of course, left nothing for Stan or Forth to carry.

"Okay guys, the Chinook is less than five minutes out. Let's get this stuff to the other side of the hanger," Theodore announced as the elevator came to a stop.

Stan and Forth stood their looking lost, as everyone else made their way out of the elevator at a jog.

"Hey guys?" Theodore surprised the two smaller boys as he glanced toward them. "I need you guys to stay here and keep the elevator door open. Don't let it close, and don't let the elevator go down. When we come back, we're going to need to get down to the infirmary as fast as possible, can you do that?"

Stan and Forth nodded their heads enthusiastically while they smiled in the fact that they now had an important role to play in the rescue.

Haden and Barrett sat next to each other in the back of the Chinook as it quickly made its way back toward the U.N.I.T. bunker. As Barrett gently stroked his Phasenmorph, which had ended up having to deflect a few stray bullets in the rescue, Haden looked around the standing-room-only compartment. Only a few feet separated him from the former President of the United States, Jack Bryce, and his wife, four boys, and two babies.

Haden couldn't really describe the look of anguish that was on the man's face at the moment. He could, however, understand it, since both his wife and one of his ten-year-old sons had been injured and were in the process of being looked over by Janet and Chang, along with some of the medics that were part of the President's group.

Although, a number of other men were with them, mostly soldiers and personal security, what affected Haden the most were the looks on the faces of the other seven kids that had been rescued as well. One of the smaller boys, who looked to be no older than six, was still crying as he kept a death grip on the man seated next to him, one of the other older boys seemed rather upset and pissed, but most of the kids wore blank, expressionless, empty faces. They were the type of expression a kid would have when they have been pushed well beyond what they could ever hope to be able to handle. His heart went out to them, as he could only imagine what the last couple of hours must have been like for them.

'Haden, Daileass?' Haden heard Adam Casey talk in his head. 'When we land, I need you two to stick close to President Bryce and his family while we get his wife and son down to medical. Do whatever you can to help them out.'

'You got it,' Haden heard Daileass's quick reply.

Haden could understand why Adam had assigned Daileass to this task, given his extensive experience with having to work with literally thousands of kids when he functioned as the U.N.I.T.'s primary AI system. What he couldn't figure out, was why Adam would also have asked him. Although, he had the standard U.N.I.T. training in being able to deal with, help others deal with traumatic situations as they were happening, he didn't have any real experience in this area. In fact, Haden generally found it a lot harder than most to interact with others, let alone be there to emotionally support them. Never the less, Adam had singled him out for a reason, and he wasn't about to question that. 'Understood,' he finally replied mentally.

A few minutes later, everyone could feel the soft jolt as the wheels of the helicopter touched down. Before the back ramp had finished opening up, Juan was already standing next to it, literally shouting to make himself heard over the engines, "Everyone that can walk needs to exit the helicopter immediately. Please step off to the left and wait until the injured are taken inside!" The security and military personnel that had accompanied the President were among the first to jump out, so they could secure the area, and watch for anything unwanted.

As soon as everyone that could walk had exited the plane, moments later, stretchers carrying the President's wife and son flew by as Janet, Chang, and a small group of Presidential medics raced them toward the other end of the hanger, in the direction of the waiting elevator.

Haden stood off to the side of the Helicopter, trying to figure out what he and Daileass might be able to do to help. Before he could do anything, almost the entire group took off after the stretchers. "Uh guys, you should probably wait here," he tried to say, but no one heard him.

'Uh guys, we have a small problem,' Haden mentally sent to the link as he and Daileass began jogging just to keep up with the group. 'It looks like everyone is chasing after Janet and Chang.'

'Heh, that ain't a problem,' Juan replied. 'I'll have the elevator going down the instant the second stretcher gets on, so unless they run through the gate, and jump down the shaft, I'm pretty sure they'll stop.'

'You have to keep in mind, they've all just had a really traumatic experience, and they are seeing their loved ones in a really bad situation,' Daileass sent to Haden and the link as they jogged. 'They are not always going to follow instructions.'

'Just do the best you can, guys. If you need any help, just let one of us know.' Logan added.

By the time Haden and Daileass caught up to the group at the elevator, they saw something that neither of them expected. All of the kids were swarming around three of the adults getting hugs and support from them.

"Hey guys," Daileass called out, as they walked up to the group, getting some of their attention. Before they got within ten feet of any of the kids, four members of the security detail stepped out, putting themselves between Haden, Daileass and the others.

"We're here to help," Haden commented. Although none of the men said anything, he could see them looking intensely at both his and Daileass's side-arms. "Ah, right." Slowly and carefully he, along with Daileass, lifted their side-arms with two fingers, and handed them to the security detail. Once they had been disarmed, one of the security guys looked toward one of the men who were surrounded by kids. Once the man nodded, the four security guys stepped to the side.

Taking this as his cue, Daileass continued. "As I was starting to say a few moments ago, I don't think we've been properly introduced, yet. My name is Daileass, and this cute guy next to me is my boyfriend, Haden."

A few of the kids looked up and made mumbling noises as they saw Haden begin to glow red.

'What was that for?' Haden mentally sent to Daileass.

'It's called breaking the ice,' Daileass replied. 'I hope you don't mind.'

'Either way, it didn't seem to help much,' Haden sent back. 'Just look at these kids, most of them seem really out of it.'

'That's what happens when kids are as heavily traumatized as they have been,' Daileass answered. 'Think about it, they had been woken up in the middle of the night, their base falling down around them, dragged through a firefight to get to a plane which turned into a wild roller coaster ride, only to crash land and be thrown into yet another firefight. It's probably going to take a while for most of these guys to even start to recover.'

Haden's heart dropped as he listened to Daileass's quick recap of what the kids had been through over the last few hours. No kid should ever have to live through a quarter of what had been described. It was right around this time that it really began to hit home, just how much they had lost by being sent to this new universe. If they were back where they should have been, Daileass or one of the other base A.I.'s would have had these guys pulled out of harm's way in a heartbeat, and would have had those responsible for this travesty half way to a federation penal colony by now.

"Hello, my name is Jack and the adults here are Mike and Eric, and these are our children", one of the adults stated, pulling Haden out of his thoughts. He immediately recognized the man has Jack Bryce, former President of the United States, and based on the research that they had done earlier in the day, most likely to win in the Election that was to be held tomorrow, or rather, today, since it was past midnight.

Daileass, having a better grasp of the situation than Haden, was the first to nod in acknowledgement. "It's a pleasure to meet you and your children, Mr. President. I only wish it were under better circumstances," he stated in a professional voice. "Adam, who is the head of our group, has asked us to look after you and give you whatever support that we can. Right now, there are a few different options available to you."

Once Daileass saw that he had the man's attention, he continued. "Right now, your wife and son are in surgery in our medical ward. We can take a few of you down there, if you would like, but I need to warn you ahead of time that it's an open trauma bay, so it's probably not going to be appropriate for everyone to be in, if you understand where I'm going with that. If any of you are hungry, we can swing by the cafeteria and grab a few snacks. Or, if you would like, we can take you to the Presidential Suite area that we have set up for you to stay in."

Jack, along with the other two men spent a few moments hopelessly looking toward each other. The President's expression clearly indicated just how torn the man was.

"Eric and I can handle the kids…" one of the other men began to say.

"Mike, you need…" Jack interrupted him.

"I need to be there with you and for you," Mike interrupted back.

Jack bowed his head toward Mike, clearly showing some strong degree of friendship between the two men. At the same time, several of the kids began to cry. "No, please don't go."

"Listen, guys, Eric and these boys will take care of you and make sure you're safe….", Jack began to say, only to be interrupted by more pleas for them to stay. After he gave several of them hugs and gentle caresses, he softly continued, "Someone has to be there for mommy and your brother, and that's my job. If I could be in both places, I would, but I can't. I promise you that I'll come back as soon as I can, but you don't want mommy and Chris being alone, now do you?"

A few of the kids gave reluctant nods. A few moments later, Jack continued, "You know Uncle Eric, and that he loves you and won't let anything or anyone hurt you." Seeing that most of the kids were reluctantly accepting his words, he gently pushed them toward Eric.

"I…I think it would be best if you could take them to the suite you mentioned." Jack stated as he walked a few steps toward Daileass. "Some of them need to get cleaned up and into new clothes. I also think a nice hot shower or bath might be soothing to them, at least I hope so." He then took a moment to look over the kids once again before continuing, "All of them are in some degree of traumatic shock from the events that have taken place. You may have to literally do everything with some of them. After that, if you can get them to eat something, that would probably help also, but don't be surprised if they don't eat or eat much."

Mike took Jack's arm, "It's okay Jack, Eric will figure it all out and take care of them, try not to worry about that, too."

"How?" Jack questioned.

Not really having an answer for Jack, Mike turned toward Eric, "After that, try getting them down and ask if there are any sedatives here appropriate to administer to children, because I think some or all of them are going to need them even if they protest it."

"I will," Eric nodded as he continued to pull kids closer to him.

"I guess we can go down now, if you'll help with the kids and Eric and just call me Jack, please," Jack stated toward Haden and Daileass before he walked over and whispered something to one of the members of the security detail. Moments later, both Haden's and Daileass's side arms were returned to them.

"Jack?" Daileass made a point of emphasizing as he took a step forward. "In that case, if it's alright with you, Haden will escort you and Mike to the infirmary, and I'll take Eric and the kids to the Presidential Suite we have prepared for you. I'm pretty sure your protective detail will want to be close by, so they can stay in the rooms that will be right across the hall."

Seeing Jack nod in agreement, Daileass continued. "Also, I'm sure we will get into more details about how this is later, but for now, I just need you to accept that I have an awful lot of experience working with kids, especially traumatized ones, so I'm sure between Eric and I, they will be taken care of. As far as the sedatives go, I'm medically trained and certified to administer them if it comes to that, but hopefully, after we get them some warm relaxing baths, and a few minutes to unwind, that won't be necessary."

"That would be fine. Thank you," Jack finally replied, after several moments of quiet reflection. "For everything… We thank you and your friends."

Jack, Mike and Haden stood to the side and watched as Daileass and Eric led the kids down the stairs, followed closely behind by several of Jack's protective detail.

Once the kids were out of sight, Haden led the remaining men onto the elevator and down to the first sub level.

While Haden and Daileass were busy with helping President Bryce and his family, everyone else other than Robert had ended up staying behind in the large hanger bay. Where those who didn't have as serious injuries were being treated, which mostly consisted of the military men that were trying to protect the former president.

"Here ya go," Glenn stated, as he handed one of the medics a small stack of gauss bandages.

"Thanks," the medic replied with a forced smile as he went back to dressing the wound he was working on.

Glenn nodded politely and glanced around. Everyone other than Andy was either busy helping or watching someone. Even the two odd kids, Forth and Stan were intensely watching one of the medics creating a make-shift sling for someone.

"Excuse me; do you know if there is anything else that I could help with, here?" Glenn asked as he walked over to Theodore.

Theodore glanced around and shook his head. "Not really, looks like things are under control up here. I guess you're getting a bit tired, huh?"

"Not really," Glenn answered. "Actually, I was thinking about trying to find Robert. I thought he would have joined back up with us by now."

"Oh yeah, Robert," Theodore smiled as he closed his eyes for a few moments. "Actually, he's still down in the control center. You remember how to get there, right?"

Glenn nodded. "Yeah, I think. So that means it's okay for me to go down there on my own?"

"Why not?" Theodore asked.

"Because, this is like a top secret army base or something?" Glenn shrugged.

"Nah," Theodore grinned. "It's actually a rather old facility. So yeah, you can go there or anywhere else in the base that isn't locked. And yeah, I think that's a good idea to take him with you."

"Cool, do you think I can take," Glenn began to say before he saw who Theodore was looking at. "How did you know I was going to ask about Andy?"

Theodore tapped the side of his head and spoke directly into Glenn's mind, 'Telepath, remember?'

Glenn jumped slightly in surprise, but nodded in understanding. "That's going to take a bit to get used to."

Andy had carried one of the wooden stretchers up to the helicopter before it landed. But beyond that, he wasn't really sure what to do. And to be honest, everything was still kind of a blur. He knew he and his father had been taken to somewhere else, and a lot of kids were involved, but that was about it. So instead, he stood off to the side, half watching and half lost in thought. As such, he was slightly surprised when he saw Glenn walking up to him.

"You okay, Andy?" Glenn asked.

"I guess," Andy shrugged.

Glenn nodded. "You feel like tagging along with me to see if we can track down Robo-geek?"

"I guess," Andy shrugged again.

"Cool, come on then," Glenn stated as he wrapped his arm around the smaller boy's shoulder and led him toward the other side of the hanger which would lead to the stairs going down.

Robert absently brushed back his already slicked down dark brown hair as he continued to intensely focus on the screen.

For the first time in a rather long time, he found something that was giving him a real challenge. For the first few minutes, he spent some time getting to know the system. It only took moments, for him to realize that it was nowhere close to your typical UNIX system. At first, he thought it might have been a hybrid system, since the first few commands he tried using worked, somewhat. But soon, he stumbled on to the fact that it had more of a natural language interface such that there wasn't really any one specific command you had to use for a thing, but several different keywords could be used to accomplish the same thing. Not only that, but he also noticed that the system appeared to be adapting itself to the style of commands he was using. This was demonstrated best when early in his exploring, he tried using a command the system didn't recognize, but when he used the same command later, it worked.

After spending a few minutes learning his way around the system, he began 'playing'. One of the first things he figured out how to do was to create new files. That led to learning how to delete files he had created. With that information in hand, and after learning how to navigate to different parts of the system, he found an area that appeared fairly important, and tried deleting a few files. At first, it appeared to work fine. He was just about to call Alvin or Simon over to show them, when the file reappeared.

'What's up with that?' he thought to himself as he typed the command to delete the files again. This time, the files wouldn't even delete. To add insult to injury, a small message appeared as well 'DELETE LOGIC ERROR: NULL FILE DELETE PURPOSE OF KEY FILES DETECTED'. Robert glared at the screen for a few moments and huffed. Pushing his glasses closer to his face, the game was on. He spent the next fifteen minutes, trying every trick he could think of to delete or damage the files.

With all of their work complete, for the time being, Alvin and Simon stood a few feet behind Robert, watching as he worked.

'How's he doing?' Theodore sent though the link.

'For a low tech squishy, surprisingly well,' Alvin mentally replied.

'Yeah, for only messing with this for twenty minutes, he's figured a lot out,' Simon added. 'He's getting close to being able to delete a file in the secondary backup system directory.'

'Not bad,' Theodore commented. 'Any issues with me sending Glenn and Andy your way?'

'Nope, I think Robert's just about done for the day, anyway,' Simon answered.

"Got it!" Robert cried out in victory, after finally figuring out how to delete one of the system files and keep it deleted.

"Good job," Simon smiled, causing Robert to realize he was being watched. "You managed to delete a file in one of the backup system directories."

"That was only a backup directory?" Robert asked as he began to deflate.

Simon nodded with a smile. "Yeah, the real directories are all shadowed. Basically, you are working within a virtual sandbox environment. When you make system level changes, the system has to validate and confirm your changes don't break anything before it's committed to core."

"Damn, that actually sounds pretty sweet," Robert commented. "You're right though, that's going to make damaging the system a whole lot more difficult."

Simon gave a knowing nod as he logged Robert's workstation out.

"So what kind of operating system is that? Some kind of home brewed hybrid system?" Robert asked curiously.

"You could say that," Alvin grinned as Glenn and Andy made their way into the room.

As soon as Robert caught sight of his friends, his eyes lit up. "Glenn, dude! You HAVE to check out this operating system they have here! It's unlike anything I've ever seen before. It has an adaptive natural language interface for command entry, and a protective shadowed commit security component for system level changes."

"Those sound like good selling points, are you making notes of this?" Simon grinned as he looked toward Alvin who only nodded in response.

"Erm, is that good?" Glenn asked, clearly clueless as to what Robert was saying.

Robert sighed and shook his head. "Never mind."

"Well, I was going to see if you wanted to come with Andy and me while we did a little exploring of this place," Glenn continued. "But it seems you're still tied up here."

"Actually," Robert replied as he brushed his hair back tiredly, "that took a lot out of me, so a little walking would probably be good."

"Oh, if you guys are going to go exploring, you should check out the lowest level, sub-level 3," Alvin stated as he walked back to his own computer terminal.

"Sub-level 3?" Glenn asked curiously, "I don't think we've been down that far yet."

"Exactly," Simon jumped in.

"Cool, thanks," Glenn stated as he, Andy and Robert left the control center.

Daileass led Eric, the nine boys that were with him, and six of the president's security detail through the hallways toward their destination. With most of the kids still grouped around Eric, two of the security agents walked in front with Daileass, with the other four following behind the rest of the group.

"I don't bite you know, Agent Simmons," Daileass stated calmly as he looked back toward the agent walking closest behind him.

A surprised look crossed the man's face for a few moments, but he said nothing.

"You don't need to look so surprised," Daileass continued, as he looked forward. "I heard one of your other men refer to you by that name through your earpiece. I have 'really' good hearing."

The man continued to remain silent.

Daileass sighed. "It's okay; you don't have to talk to me if you don't want to."

Several long moments went by before the man finally broke his vow of silence. "Listen kid, it's nothing personal. President Bryce says we need to allow you to have your side-arm back, and follow your lead to our quarters, we'll do that. But it doesn't mean we are going to drop our guard."

"That's a good position to take. I would be a bit disappointed in you if you did," Daileass stated with a slight smile. "After all, you've just arrived at an unknown location, rescued by an unknown group of individuals, and now you find yourself surrounded by a group of people of whom your eyes tell you are just kids, but the actions you've witnessed suggest otherwise. If that's not enough to remain on guard, I don't know what would."

As expected, the man didn't reply, but Daileass was fairly sure he had gotten his point across. Not only that, but he had now effectively secured a second line of communications with someone other than Eric if the short term need were to arise.

After rounding another corner, and walking down a short hallway, Daileass came to a stop next to one of the doors. Once he saw that the rest of the group had stopped as well, he began. "Okay guys, this is the entrance to the Presidential Suite." Opening the door slightly, he then turned to the man he was talking to earlier. "Agent Simmons, would you like to perform a sweep of the suite before we allow Eric and the kids in?"

The man glanced toward Daileass and nodded. He then motioned for one of the men from the back to join him, and the two entered the suite with everyone else waiting outside.

While they waited in the hall, Daileass could still here the occasional sniffle coming from one of the kids that were surrounding Eric. With most of the kids still having blank, expressionless faces, Daileass didn't have to use his telepathic skills to tell that he was going to have his work cut out for him.

A few moments later, Agent Simmons and the other man walked back into the hallway. "All clear," he stated bluntly.

Daileass nodded. "Great. Eric, you guys can go on in, I'll be right behind you."

Eric nodded in understanding. "Come on, guys," he stated softly as he gently prodded a few of the boys forward.

Once all the kids that were with Eric were inside, Daileass turned back toward Agent Simmons. "You will notice that there is only one way into this particular hallway. Not that it will ever be needed, but it will make things easier for you to defend. There are also four other rooms, which you and your men can split. One room is on this side of the hall which we passed, and the other three are on that side. The sixth door you see on this side of the hall, further down looks like a normal room door, but it actually leads to a maintenance closet. That way, it's harder to tell which room leads into the Presidential Suite, since the suite is actually taking up four normal room slots."

"Everything sounds good, so far," The Agent replied. "The suite certainly seems fit for a President. I noticed there was a second floor to the suite, are there any security concerns in regards to the next level up?"

Daileass shook his head. "There is fifty feet between each level in the bunker. So even with the second floor of the Presidential Suite, that still leaves another thirty feet of solid rock before you get to the next level up."

"Very good," Agent Simmons nodded.

"You will also notice each room has a small intercom. If you need anything, you can use that to reach the control center. With the President on base, there will be at least one of us manning it twenty-four seven," Daileass continued.

"I don't suppose there would be a way for me to get one of my men in there?" the man asked seriously.

Daileass was silent for a few moments as he held a quick mental conversation with his brothers. "Actually, we would be honored if you would be willing to have one of your men helping in the Control Center. Once you get settled into a room, use the intercom to call up to the Control Center, and Alvin will work out all the details with you."

"Great," Agent Simmons stated showing another hint of surprise.

"Is there anything else?" Daileass asked.

The man glanced at the other agents that were with him, and shook his head. "No, I think that's it for now. This is actually more than we could have hoped for, given the situation."

"Great," Daileass smiled. "In that case, I have a bunch of guys in there that need baths."

Just as Daileass was about to disappear into the Presidential Suite, Agent Simmons called out to him. "Hey, are you sure that you're really only nine?"

Daileass looked at the man for a few moments before his smile grew. "Sorry, that's classified." With that, he quickly closed the door behind him, leaving behind a stunned looking Agent Simmons.

The Presidential Suite truly lived up to its name. After walking through a small entryway, you stepped into a large circular living room area which had a large television set, and entertainment center along with several very comfortable looking reclining chairs and matching couches. Branching off of the living room, there was a large master bedroom, a spacious kitchen area, a large dining room that could easily seat twelve. There was a private study that also functioned as a library, and a large bathroom which had a Jacuzzi instead of a tub. The spiral staircase that was visible led to a landing that overlooked the entire living room, and led to six more large bedrooms, with every two bedrooms sharing a slightly smaller bathroom between them.

As Daileass expected, none of the kids seemed that interested in exploring the suite. Instead, he found Eric in the living room with the boys strewn out on the couches, recliners, and floor.

Eric, who was in the middle of hugging Steven and Kelly, Jack's eight and six year old sons, glanced around the group. "Sam, Brian, how about you two get your baths out of the way first?"

Without saying a word, the eleven and ten year old boys simply nodded and walked toward the bathroom where Daileass had already turned the lights on. Sammy was the first to walk in, followed by Brian. Seeing nine-year-old Daileass following them, Brian stopped at the door ant looked toward him. "We can do it ourselves, you know."

"I know," Daileass replied seriously, but refused to step away.

Unwilling to fight, Brian let out a small huff and continued into the bathroom.

Had Daileass not already surface scanned both boys enough to know that their tough exteriors were just a show they were putting on, as the oldest boys of the group, and as such, were trying to act strong; he might have been content to let the boys bathe on their own. Had Daileass not already detected over fifty-eight physical, mental, and psychological signs that both boys were just as hurt and shaken up as all the other kids, he might have decided to stay out and help Eric comfort the other guys. With that not being the case, Daileass followed Brian into the bathroom and closed the door behind him.

Seeing Sammy with a confused expression on his face, as he looked at the controls to the tub, Daileass walked over to help. "You two get stripped out of those clothes and I'll get the water going. I think you're going too really like how warm and relaxing the water jets will feel.

The two older boys shared a brief glance with each other. Had it been any other time, one of them might have had something to say about a younger boy ordering them to strip in front of him. But again, in this situation, neither boy really felt like arguing, and did as they were asked.

Once Daileass had the water going, he turned around to find two naked boys standing behind him, and staring at the tub. "You guys go ahead and jump in; I'm going to go ahead and trash these clothes and go get you some clean ones."

"You're throwing our clothes away?" Sammy asked as Brian tested the warmth of the water with his hand.

Daileass picked up Sammy's extremely dirty shirt which had several large splatters of blood on it and nodded. "Yeah, I don't think you're going to want to be wearing these anymore. We have some U.N.I.T. jumpsuits you guys can wear for now, then tomorrow, someone will make a store run and get clothes for you guys and our other new arrivals."

Sammy nodded.

By the time Daileass walked back into the bathroom, he found both boys in the tub, relaxing in the warm water. He could already tell, from their surface thoughts, the bath was having its intended effect. They were beginning to slowly accept that the stress and strain from the last several hour of terror might finally be over.

"Feeling a little better?" Daileass asked as he placed the towels and clothes to the side.

Both boys nodded.

"I figured you would," Daileass smiled. After a few moments, he continued. "I know you guys are trying to be strong for your brothers and all, but you know it's okay to feel hurt sometimes."

"That's easy for you to say," Sammy replied, feeling a bit more relaxed. "You try being the son of a Vice President some time. When any time you're in the public, everyone is always watching you like a hawk."

Daileass nodded. "Yeah, but you're not out in the public right now, are you?"

"We're always in the public," Brian joined in. "You never know when someone with a camera is watching."

"Well, I can assure you guys, no one from the press or anywhere else will get within ten miles of this place without us knowing about it," Daileass stated in such a way that both boys had no choice other than to believe him. "Besides, you've seen days when your dad or Uncle Jack would have bad days and comfort each other, right? So why can't you guys?"

Neither boy had an answer, but Daileass knew that he had gotten his point across, or at least planted the seed that he was wanting to plant, so he let the matter drop. "You guys need help getting washed up?"

Both boys shook their heads, as they began to help each other instead.

It didn't take long for both boys to finish getting washed. There was very little conversation that took place after that. Daileass had toyed around with the idea of turning the jets on for them, but he could tell that at this point, it would not have been appreciated that much, so he figured that could be saved as a treat for another time.

A few minutes later, a clean Sammy and Brian emerged from the bathroom and stepped into the living room. To Daileass's surprise, neither boy seemed interested in putting the jump suits on, but instead decided to only wear the boxers. Actually, the more he thought about it, this shouldn't have surprised Daileass at all, given what he knew about the Sammy from his universe, other than the fact that he should have been surprised that he chose to wear anything at all.

Looking around the room, Daileass noticed that most of the boys had moved to take positions closer to where Eric was sitting.

"Feeling better, guys?" Eric asked.

Both boys nodded as they took seats on the other couch.

"Randy, Kevin, Danny? You guys wanna go next?" Eric asked, as he looked toward his own boys.

"Actually," Daileass stated as he glanced around the room. At first, Daileass wasn't sure what he was looking for. The only thing he knew was that something didn't feel right to him. It only took a few seconds for him to find it. Off to the side, away from the rest of the boys, one dark-blond haired nine-year-old was lying on the floor, curled up in a fetal position. "I'm thinking Andy should go next."

Eric sighed as he saw who Daileass was looking at. "He's Chris's twin, the boy who was injured. I don't think he's moved since we've gotten in here."

"I know," Daileass nodded as he approached the boy.

"I don't know how much luck you're going to have with him," Eric stated, "But you're welcome to try."

Daileass looked down at the curled-up boy, and could easily see that out of everyone, his clothes had by far the most amount of blood on them. He was also pretty sure he knew who most of that blood belonged to. Kneeling down next to the boy, Daileass spoke gently, "Come on Andy, let's get you cleaned up."

Andy didn't reply, but he also didn't resist Daileass's attempts to sit him up, and eventually standing him up. It was more like that he just didn't care, or just wasn't there. From scanning the boy's surface thoughts, Daileass knew it was closer to the later, and potentially a lot more serious than he was willing to let on.

"Come on," Daileass spoke softly, as he gently guided the boy toward the bathroom. "I bet a nice warm bath will help you feel better."

Eric watched silently as the two boys disappeared into the bathroom, and the door was closed. 'I really hope he knows what he's doing,' the man said silently to himself before he went back to dishing out hugs to all the other boys.

Daileass was a few feet away from the tub before he let go of Andy. "Go ahead and get undressed while I get your water going," Daileass stated, as he turned the facets on, and got the bath to a nice warm temperature. When he turned back around, he saw a fully dressed Andy staring blankly off into space.

"Come on, I'll help you with those," Daileass sighed, as he effortlessly picked up the boy who was otherwise about an inch taller than he was, and set him down on the toilet seat to make it easier for him to get the boy undressed.

It took less than a minute, for Daileass to completely strip the boy out of his clothes. Inwardly, Daileass sighed as he saw how much dried blood was covering Andy's body, even the parts that had been covered by clothes. "Okay, you're all set. Go ahead and get into the tub while I throw these old clothes out."

The boy didn't respond, but instead continued to sit on the seat of the toilet, with a blank expressionless look on his face. A few moments later, one of Daileass's worst fears came true as he felt a shift in the boy's consciousness. It was pulling itself further back into his mind. So far back, that he might not be able to find his way back out, thus causing Andy to become a literal vegetable for the rest of his life.

"Oh, no you don't," Daileass stated firmly as he caught Andy as his body began to tilt to the side. Daileass's first instinct was to try to pull Andy into his mental-scape. That would have given Daileass a lot better control over the whole situation. Unfortunately, Andy's consciousness had fallen so far down into his mind that it wasn't an option without possibly causing serious physical and mental harm to the boy. Instead, Daileass linked their minds together, and made the decision to put himself at risk, by projecting his own mind into Andy's. For a brief moment, the two of them would become one.

Lightning flashed and thunder crashed around Daileass, as he found himself in the middle of a huge rain storm. For a moment, Daileass was surprised at how real it all felt as the wind blew the raindrops hard across his face. It was a strong reminder of how serious of a situation Andy was in; if this is the part of his mind he had locked himself in.

"Andy?" Daileass called out as he pushed his way forward through the storm. "Andy, where are you? I'm here to help!"

Daileass flinched as a loud gunshot went off somewhere close by, followed by another and another. Moments later, the sound of a plane flying close by could also be heard, followed by the spray of even more gun shots. A lot of what he was seeing and hearing around him were events that were playing over and over through Andy's head.

"Andy?" Daileass called out again, although the sound of the storm easily drowned out his voice.

Had this been a real storm, finding someone would have been like finding a needle in a hay stack. With this being in a mind-scape, Daileass knew it was more an issue of his desire to find Andy vs. Andy's desire to not be found, and right now, Daileass had a pretty strong desire to find him before he managed to slip so far into himself that not even the best telepaths would be able to reach him.

Sure enough, after a few more minutes of walking through the storm, Daileass could hear the sounds of a small boy crying ahead. A few moments later, he could see a small, naked, nine-year-old boy sitting on the ground with his knees pulled up to his chest and his arms wrapped around them, and his head tucked down, softly crying to himself.

"Andy?" Daileass spoke as he ran over to the boy amongst another crash of thunder.

"Leave me alone!" Andy cried out and jerked his body away as Daileass tried to wrap his arm around him.

"Andy, remember me?" Daileass knelt down and spoke softly. "I'm Daileass. You met me a little while ago when you arrived at our base."

"Don't hurt me!" Andy cried while cowering away from Daileass and the sounds of more gun fire.

"You're safe now Andy, I promise," Daileass did his best to reassure the boy. "No one is going to hurt you anymore. I'm here to help you, to take you somewhere safe."

"No, no, no!" Andy cried as he sprang to his feet and ran further into the storm. "It's all my fault!"

"Andy, wait!" Daileass tried to say, but it was too late, the boy was gone, but he wasn't far behind him. It only took a few minutes for Daileass to find the boy collapsed on the ground, covering his ears as a rather loud set of gun shots were going off.

"It's alright, I'll help protect you," Daileass stated, as he wrapped his arms around the boy.

"Let go of me!" Andy squirmed and struggled to get free from Daileass until a loud clap of thunder caused him to instead cling onto Daileass's shoulder.

"It's okay," Daileass did his best to comfort the boy. "I'll help protect you."

"I don't even know you," Andy stated, pushing away from Daileass. "Why are you even here?"

"You were in a plane with your father and the rest of your family earlier," Daileass stated. "We rescued you when your plane went down, and then took you somewhere safe."

"Oh yeah," Andy stated as a small look of realization crossed his face. It was short lived, however, as another round of loud gun fire and the sounds of planes buzzing by from somewhere around them caused him to cover his ears once again. "Let go of me, I need to get away from here!"

"I won't let go of you," Daileass replied softly, yet firmly. "I want to help you."

"You can't!" Andy cried. "I need to get away from the storm."

"Andy, you need to trust me," Daileass pleaded. "The storm is only in your head. You can make the storm go away."

"I can't!" Andy replied.

"Yes you can," Daileass replied back. "The storm isn't real. Just picture in your head the storm being gone. Please Andy, just try."

Daileass stood there for several long moments with his arms wrapped around Andy as the wind and rain continued to violently blow around them. An instant later, it was all gone, and there was complete and total silence.

"Good job, Andy," Daileass praised as nothing other than darkness surrounded them. "You did it."

"It doesn't really matter," Andy sighed.

"Of course it does," Daileass replied. "You were able to make the storm go away all on your own. That definitely matters."

"I don't even know why you're here," Andy stated as he gently pushed himself away from Daileass, "Or even where here is."

"We're inside your mind. I'm here because I linked our minds together," Daileass answered. "I saw you slowly sinking deeper into the darkness of your own mind, to a place no one should ever go; to a place where you wouldn't be able to find your way out."

Andy slowly shook his head as he looked toward Daileass. "So? Maybe I deserve it."

"No, you don't," Daileass replied. "You have too many people that care about you, and who would be really sad if you never came back to them."

"They would be better off without me," Andy sighed.

"No they wouldn't," Daileass argued. "Why would you even think that?"

"Haven't you been listening?" Andy nearly shouted, "Chris is probably going to die, and it's all my fault!"

"Chris isn't going to die, and it's not your fault," Daileass replied softly.

"Don't give me that crap!" Andy shot back. "I was there. I saw how much blood was pouring out of him." As the boy spoke, he looked down at his hands, as if expecting to see something. "I saw how much of his blood was all over me. I'm not stupid; I know people don't walk away from that kind of thing."

"I'm sure it looked really bad, because an important artery in his shoulder was broken," Daileass agreed. "But it wasn't as bad as it looked. He has two of the best doctors in the world looking after him right now, and I promise you he won't die."

"You don't know that," Andy stated defiantly.

"I do know that," Daileass challenged back. "Our minds are linked right now. Which means it's not possible for me to lie to you; if you think really hard about it, you will be able to tell if I'm lying or not."

Andy looked directly into Daileass's eyes and held the gaze for several long moments. "That's weird," he began as the anger slowly crept out of his voice. "I don't really know how, but somehow I know that you're telling the truth, and he really will be okay."

"That's right," Daileass agreed. "Now, how about you tell me why you feel it's all your fault."

"Cause it is."


Andy stood there for a few moments, collecting his thoughts. "After they woke us up earlier, the security guys led us through the hallways and said to be as quiet as we could. When we met up with mom, dad, and the others at one of the doors, they said we would have to run fast… fast and quiet. And well, when we got outside, there were all these loud noises going on around us, with smoke and fire everywhere. I don't know, I guess I got scared or something, and I cried out, and because of that… Chris… they shot him… But it should have been me… I was the one that cried out, they should have shot me."

Daileass reached out and wrapped the now openly sobbing Andy into his arms. Daileass said nothing for several minutes; he just stood there and allowed the slightly taller boy to cry into his shoulder, while he softly repeated over and over 'it should have been me.' What Daileass did do, was to allow his mind to gently wander around in Andy's surface thoughts. Since Andy was focusing a lot on the events that caused his twin to get hurt, it was pretty easy for Daileass to find exactly what he was looking for.

"Andy?" Daileass asked softly. "I'm going to use some of your memories to try something, okay? Don't be scared by it, alright?"

Even though he didn't completely understand what his new friend was talking about, Andy nodded his head.

A few moments later, Daileass and Andy found themselves standing in the hall near the door that they had all gathered at, getting ready to make the final dash to the plane that was waiting for them outside. Andy could see just about everyone there, including Chris and himself and all their younger brothers Steven and Kelly, plus their parents Jack and Linda, not to mention several of the security team guys that normally protected them, along with a bunch of other guys he didn't really recognize. Finally, at the front of the group was Jack's close friend and running mate, Mike. The hall was filled with smoke, but everything was frozen as if someone had pressed the 'pause' button on the DVD player.

"Don't be scared," Daileass said softly as he felt Andy tensing up. "This is mostly from your memory."

"Why?" Andy asked.

"I want you to see things from another perspective," Daileass answered. "Okay?"

Seeing the boy nod, Daileass allowed the scene to play out. "Ready?" Mike asked from the front of the group as he glanced toward the worried faces of Jack, Linda, and the kids around them. With frightened looks in all of their faces, they each nervously nodded back with Jack and Linda both saying 'yes'.

With everyone seeming to be as ready as they could be, Mike did a three count, followed by everyone bolting out of the door, going as quickly as they could. Although Daileass and Andy remained standing in the same spot, the scene continued to move and follow the men and boys as they did their best to make their way to the waiting plane ahead of them. The entire time, sounds of gun shots and people screaming and shouting all around them could be heard.

When the group was about half way to the plane, there was a really loud gunshot which caused both of the Andy's to let out a loud 'yelp', and at the same time caused Chris to lunge forward as if starting to duck, just as his shoulder was hit by a bullet. A moment later, one of the security men shot the guy that fired at Chris.

"You see!" Andy cried out as Daileass allowed the memory to freeze. "I got scared and cried out, and because of that, Chris got hurt."

Daileass nodded his head. "Yes, I do see… but I don't see you causing Chris to get hurt, I see you saving his life."

"What?" Andy asked in disbelief. "But you can see him getting shot right after I cried out."

"You and Chris are twins, right?" Daileass asked.

"Yeah," Andy nodded.

"Have you ever heard of a twin link?" Daileass continued.

Andy shook his head.

"How about this," Daileass began as the scene they were looking at went backward for a few seconds. "Have there ever been times where it felt like you could tell exactly what Chris was thinking, or wanting to do, even though he never told you with words?"

"Sometimes, I guess," Andy answered hesitantly.

"Well, that's a twin link," Daileass stated. "It doesn't happen with all twins, but I can already tell that you and your brother have a strong link with each other. Right now, you have no training in how to use it, so it kinda happens sporadically for you, but it's still there." Seeing Andy nodding hesitantly, he continued. "When you heard the sound of the gun shot and reacted, the link you two share caused him to react at the same time."

"What's that have to do with anything?" Andy asked.

"Everything," Daileass stated as he walked closer into the still-paused scene. "Look over there… Here is the guy that shot at you standing here, which the security guy ends up shooting after he shoots Chris. Look at where his gun is pointed. If you triangulate the direction of flight, this is the path the bullet would have taken," As Daileass spoke, a faint green line extended out from the attacker's gun, and ended up pointing directly into Chris's chest.

"How can you do that?" Andy asked curiously as he followed the line from the gun to his twin's chest.

"That's a long story, which I promise I will explain later," Daileass stated. "For now, just trust me when I say I can. Remember, I can't lie to you here."

Andy nodded.

"Alright, I'm going to let things fly forward again, this time I'm going to have them go a little slower.

This time as things moved in slow motion, Andy could see the other Andy letting out his yelp a split second before the flash of the attacker's gun went off. At the same time, Chris began to duck forward. As he did this, the small green line ended up moving from the center of Chris's chest, to the boy's shoulder.

"You see?" Daileass asked, as everything froze again. "If you hadn't said anything, the shot would have gone right through your brother's chest, and there wouldn't have been much left of him to try to save from a direct shot like that."

Andy stepped closer and looked at the frozen scene in awe. "So I actually SAVED my brother? But how is that even possible?"

"The human brain is a lot more powerful than most people give it credit for," Daileass stated. "Although, you might not have consciously been aware of it, your brain saw the threat of the attacker aiming his gun at you, and instinctively reacted. Things happened so fast that you felt you were reacting to the shot of the gun, but you were actually reacting a split second before the shot."

"Wow," Andy stated again, as he turned toward Daileass. "I don't know where you are from, or how you managed to do this, man, but somehow I know everything you've said and shown me is true. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is thanks."

Daileass smiled as he wrapped Andy in another hug. "You're welcome. Now, you ready to leave this place and get back to the real world?"

Andy nodded. "I guess, but I don't know how."

"That's the easy part," Daileass replied. "Just close your eyes and think about leaving this place."

Andy closed his eyes and nodded, trying to do what Daileass stated. As he did this, he could feel a light tingling sensation in his body.

With his eyes still closed, Andy slowly became aware of the sound of running water, and that his body was lying at an odd angle. Opening his eyes, he not only found himself lying in Daileass's arms, but realized that he was completely naked.

"Please don't be scared," Daileass stated, as Andy sat up and tried to make sense of his surroundings.

"You were pretty out of it before we linked minds together," Daileass did his best to answer Andy's unasked question. "You're undressed because I was helping you get ready to take a warm bath, in the hopes that it would help to relax you. That's why the bath water is running. See?"

Andy stood up and looked toward the tub and nodded. "So all of that… it was for real? I wasn't dreaming it?"

"That depends on what you mean by real," Daileass stated as he stood up as well. "If you mean were you really talking with me in your mind, and were the memories we were looking at real? Then, yes."

Andy nodded in understanding as his conscious mind struggled to make sense of it all.

"I think the bath water is just about done," Daileass stated as he reached over to turn off the faucet. "You don't have to take a bath if you really don't want to. It's just… well, you look like you could use one, and I think the warm water will be real relaxing."

"Yeah," Andy stated as he took a few hesitant steps toward the tub.

"What's wrong?" Daileass asked, sensing the boy's reluctance.

Andy shrugged. "Nothing, it's just silly, I guess."

"What is?" Daileass replied.

"Promise not to laugh?" Andy asked seriously. Seeing Daileass's nod, he continued. "It's just. Well, I've never really taken a bath by myself before."

Daileass nodded in understanding. "Chris has always been there with you?"

"Yeah," Andy agreed. "I told ya, it was silly."

"It's not silly at all. Chris and you are twins. You have a strong bond with each other," Daileass did his best to point out, while at the same time, he could sense that there was something else Andy was wanting to ask, but he was feeling way too embarrassed to ask it. Feeling the boy had already been through enough, he decided to try to help him out a little. "Andy? I know I wouldn't be the same as your brother, but if you want, I can take a bath with you."

Andy's eyes shot up to Daileass in surprise. "You wouldn't think I'm some kind of freak or something?"

"Not at all," Daileass shook his head. "You've been through a lot. Right now, you are just looking for ways to not feel as alone, since something that has always been a large part of your life isn't here right now."

Andy nodded.

Without another word being spoken between the two boys, Daileass stripped out of his own clothes. After helping Andy step into the tub, he stepped in as well.

Ten minutes later, the bathroom door opened and a freshly cleaned Andy walked out, also dressed in just his boxers. Daileass choose to put all of his clothes back on. The first thing Andy did was to walk over and give Eric a loving hug.

"That must have been some bath," Eric stated in disbelief as he glanced between Daileass and Andy. "Are you sure you're the same Andy that I saw going into the bathroom?"

Andy took a seat next to Steven and nodded. "Daileass gave me a pep-talk."

"Did he?" Eric asked suspiciously as he looked toward Daileass.

Daileass, for his part, simply shrugged, doing his best to try to look innocent.

Andy nodded. "He helped me realize that it wasn't my fault that Chris got hurt, and that I shouldn't blame myself for it."

"I see," Eric replied, still not seeming to be convinced.

"Don't worry," Daileass finally jumped in. "I'm sure that after a good night's sleep, he'll be back to normal."

"Ah, okay, good," Eric stated, finally appearing to except what he was seeing.

"Okay, so who's up next for a bath?" Daileass asked.

For some strange reason, several of the boys seemed a lot more interested in having Daileass give them a bath than they were earlier.

Stan and Forth happened to meet up with Glenn, Robert, and Andy, just as they were reaching the stairs on their way from the Control Center.

"Hey guys," Glenn said as the two smaller boys walked up to them.

"Hi Glenn," Forth began. "Theodore said that you guys were going to go explore the bottom floor."

"And he said that we could join you," Stan added.

"That is… if you said it was okay for us to," Forth mentioned as an after-thought.

Glenn looked toward Robert and Andy before shrugging his shoulders. "It doesn't really matter to me."

"Cool!" Stan and Forth both cheered.

"What do you guys think we will find down there?" Forth asked as they made their way down several flights of stairs. "I bet we'll find a huge pop-corn factory or something."

"For some reason, I doubt we will find a pop-corn factory, here," Robert offered.

"Darn," Forth sighed. "Maybe one day we could build one."

"Dude, do you ever think about anything other than pop-corn?" Glenn asked seriously.

"Yes," Forth replied at the same exact time that Stan answered "No."

"Well, sometimes," Forth offered.

"You guys are a real trip, ya know that?" Glenn asked as they reached the second sub-level, and continued downward.

"Hey Forth?" Robert asked. "In that alternate universe you guys came from, did they have any monsters or space aliens made out of pop-corn?"

"Humm, I don't think so," Forth replied after several moments of thought.

"Will you get real, Robert," Glenn jumped in. "They came from another dimension, not the Twilight Zone where food comes to life and tries to eat you or something."

"You would be surprised what could be possible," Robert defended.

All conversation stopped as the group reached the bottom of the stairs, and stood before the entrance leading into sub-level 3. Now it was time for the serious work to begin.

As a group, the boys made their way down the ten-foot wide passage, ready for just about anything. To their disappointment, they had only passed two doors, both of which were locked, before they reached a T-intersection at the end of the seventy foot hallway.

"Left or right?" Glenn asked as the boys glanced down both directions.

"It looks like the hall goes on forever in both directions," Forth observed.

"They can't go on forever, that wouldn't be possible," Stan challenged, "Although they do look pretty long."

"That's what I was saying!" Forth shot back.

As the rest of the boys stood there trying to decide which direction to go down first, it was Andy who made the decision. "Do you guys smell that?" he asked, sniffing the air. "Smells like chlorine or something."

"Yeah, it kinda does," Robert agreed as Andy began walking down the left hall.

"Guess we're going left," Glenn smiled as he and the others followed Andy.

To everyone's surprise, after walking less than fifty feet, they came to two doors fairly close to each other on the right side of the hall. Not only that, but both doors were unlocked and each lead into a different locker room. Walking into one of them, they saw that it was also a large bathroom with a number of sinks and toilet stalls.

On one side of the room they could see a huge walk-in gang shower. On the opposite side of the room, was another door which led into an even larger room that had a giant in-door Olympic sized pool, and a slightly smaller wading pool. The smell of pool chemicals was significantly stronger as the large overhead lights shimmered off of the surface of the water.

"Oh wow, now this is cool!" Robert commented.

"Hey, what are you guys doing?" Glenn asked, as he noticed both Stan and Forth were starting to strip out of their clothes. Already, they each had their shirts off.

"Going swimming!" Stan offered.

"Yeah, it's been almost a whole day since we've been swimming." Forth stated as he started to kick his shoes off.

"You guys realize that if you go swimming, you won't be able to see all the other cool stuff we find while we are exploring," Glenn stated.

Both of the smaller boys stopped dead in their tracks, and shot each other momentary glances of panic. "Oh yeah," Forth stated as he and Stan quickly put their clothes back on.

On the other side of the room that was closest to the wading pool, there was a small tiled walk-way which led to three different doors. The door to the left let into a small room that had a large sized Jacuzzi in it. As the boys all took a look, the door to the right lead into a steam room; while the door in the middle opened up into another hallway. A few feet to the left, there was a large set of double doors on the other side of the hall.

"Let's see what's in here," Glenn suggested as he decided to go for the double doors first. Looking in, he could see a large basket-ball court. To be more precise, the room was made up of two smaller youth sized courts which linked together to form a professional sized court. Folding benches lined three of the four walls, while near the center of the forth wall was a large room that contained a giant folding divider that could be pulled out to separate the two smaller courts. The room also contained all kinds of balls, hoops, jump ropes, traffic cones, and just about any other object that you would expect to be used as part of an elementary or middle school gym program.

"Look!" Andy pointed, out toward the far back of the equipment room. "They even have a giant folding trampoline!"

Before anyone else had a chance to say anything, both Forth and Stan ran into the equipment room as they each cried out "Balls!"

Glenn slowly shook his head as he watched the two smaller boys start tearing through a large box of different sized balls. "Exploring," he stated. "Remember, guys?"

"Oh yeah," Forth stated as he and Stan put the few balls away that they had taken out. Once they had everything put away, the entire group made their way out of the gym and continued down the hall.

As they continued down the hall, the came to a four-way interaction; the halls that went to the left and right looked just as long as the hallway they were currently following. "Sheesh, just how huge is this place," Glenn commented as the group continued walking.

Further down on the left side of the hall, they found a door that led into a large three floor library that was already stocked with just about every book or magazine you could think of. Sadly, all the magazines that were there were at least thirty years old. But it would still make a great reference and research place.

On the opposite side of the hall, across from the library, they found a door that opened into a smaller hallway that had strange padding on all the walls. Doors from this hallway lead into large rooms, several of which were setup as recording rooms and sound mixing rooms. While half of the area they were in, was a huge band room with enough instruments in it to support a high school marching band.

Continuing down the hall, they passed another four-way intersection. This time, they had to walk a lot further down the hall after they passed the intersection before they came to any more doors. When they finally came to one, Forth's jaw nearly fell out.

"Is that what I think it is?" Forth asked seriously, as he turned toward Stan.

Stan glanced past Forth and nodded. "I don't think I've seen one that big before, but I think so."

"Sweet! I knew we would eventually find one!" Forth cheered as he ran into the room toward his target.

As the rest of the group walked into the room, they not only found themselves in the lobby of a four screen movie theater, but also, standing in front of a snack bar that was long enough to easily handle eight lines of people.

Unfortunately, all the various shelves and display cases were completely void of any type of snack or treat. That didn't seem to bother Forth, since he made a bee-line for one of the three large glass display cases which contained one of the largest pop-corn makers he had ever seen in his short life.

"Is this really a movie theater?" Andy asked, as he looked at all of the rather old movie posters that were hanging on the walls, including one for a movie called 'E.T.' "It seems to be," Glenn answered as he walked out of one of the theaters. It looks like a real theater, complete with a huge screen and everything."

"Can we turn this thing on?" Forth asked hopefully. "Please? Please!"

Glenn thought for a few moments. "Do you know how to work one of those things?"

Forth took a step back and scratched his head. "Not really."

"Me either," Glenn stated. "Maybe Haden, or one of those chipmunks, or one of the adults knows how. But for now, we should probably leave everything alone."

Forth sighed. "Sorry, we can't use you right now," he said seriously as he looked toward the pop-corn maker. "But we'll be back soon to test you out. I promise!"

Glenn slowly shook his head. "Come on, guys, I have a feeling we still have a lot of exploring to do." With everyone else seeming to be in agreement, they made their way out of the theater, and continued down the hall.

After walking a bit further down the hall, the group came to another large set of doors. As they opened them this time, it was Andy's turn to be surprised. "Oh wow! Look guys, it's a twelve lane bowling alley!"

"What's a bowling alley?" Forth asked as Stan appeared to be equally curious.

"Were you guys born yesterday or something?" Andy asked. "How can you not know what a bowling alley is?"

"I wasn't born yesterday!" Forth protested. "I was born a whole six months ago!"

Andy blinked in confusion, as he wasn't really sure how to respond. "Um, yeah, okay."

"Bowling alleys are where you roll balls down a lane and try to knock down pins at the end," Glenn answered. Seeing a number of bowling balls close by, and seeing the lanes seemed to be on, with pins already properly stacked, he walked over to pick up a ball. "Come on, I'll show you."

Glenn then proceeded to take the ball, and rolled it down one of the lanes, knocking down two of the ten pins. "It's been awhile since I've played."

"So, how do you get your ball back?" Stan asked with concern.

"I'm glad you asked," Glenn grinned as he walked back to one of several devices that came up from the ground and were lined up several feet behind the lanes. Moments later, Glenn's ball popped out of a large hole in the device and gently rolled on the collection rack. "Just like that!"

"Cool! Can I try?" Forth asked.

Although he feared that it would be a mistake, Glenn went against his better judgment and agreed. "Okay, here ya go."

"Thanks," Forth smiled as he took the ball and prepared to heave it over his head."

"whoa whoa! That's not how you do it," Glenn called out to stop him. "You have to roll it underhand like I did."

Forth shrugged and nodded, and did his best to imitate what Glenn had done. Unfortunately, after rolling only a few feet, it landed in the gutter.

"Get back here!" Forth cried as he ran after the ball.

"No! You can't do that either!" Glenn called out as he ran after Forth. Fortunately, he was able to catch the smaller boy before they got to the end of the lane.

For the next few minutes, everyone in the group spent a little time taking a few practice shots down alley. Eventually, everyone managed to knock down at least one pin.

"Wow," Andy stated with a yawn, "It's already four in the morning."

Glenn nodded. "Yeah, I don't know about you guys, but I'm actually starting to feel pretty tired. Since we still seem to have so much more to explore, how about we finish this up tomorrow, and maybe bring some of the other guys along with us?"

Since everyone else was just as tired, not even Forth and Stan disagreed. With that, the group of boys began the process of retracing their steps back down the hallway to the indoor pool, through the locker rooms, into the first hallway and eventually back to the stairs.

Once they made it back to the first sub-level, Forth and Stan said their goodnights as they walked off to find Haden and the others while Glenn and his guys headed toward their rooms. Seeing that the adults were already in their rooms and asleep Glenn and Robert pulled Alex into their room, and all three boys quietly kicked off their shoes and socks and stripped down to their boxers before crawling into bed to get some much needed sleep.

It had been a long day for all of the boys, and the way things were going, tomorrow would probably turn out to be even longer.

Nearly a half hour had gone by since Daileass had finished helping with the last bath. All the younger kids had since passed out at various spots around the living room. Aside from Andy and Eric, only the two oldest boys, Sammy and Brian, were still awake.

Although someone would say something from time to time, it was seldom anything of any real importance. Most of the time, everyone sat in silence. This, of course, didn't bother Daileass much since he was not only monitoring all the other activity that was going on through the link, but also using the time to focus on rebuilding a number of his still-damaged sub-systems.

Around four in the morning, everyone that was still awake jumped slightly as someone lightly knocked on the door.

Eric carefully stood up, trying his best to not disturb Kelly, the youngest boy in the group, who had fallen asleep while laying his head in Eric's lap. When he opened the door, he was surprised to see the twelve-year-old oriental-looking boy he had seen working on both Linda and Chris earlier.

The young boy looked up at Eric, then bowed at the waist. "Greetings, I am Chang."

Taken back by the actions of the boy, Eric instinctively bowed slightly as well. "Hello, Chang," the man replied as a concerned look crossed his face. "Please tell me that you're not here to deliver bad news. I'm not sure how much more the kids can take tonight."

Chang shook his head, and let a ghost of a smile show on his tired face. "No… I am not here to deliver bad news."

Chang looked around the room, and spotted Chris's twin staring at him with anticipation. Chang slid past Eric and walked right towards Andy, who came to his feet. When he got there, he took the boy's hand in his own. "Your brother is going to be fine. He will be in a great deal of pain for some time. However, he will make a complete recovery."

Andy closed his eyes and tilted his head back as if saying a quick prayer of thanks. "He's going to be fine? Really?" He asked while letting out a sigh of relief making it obvious to all that were watching that a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. "Daileass told me he would be okay earlier, but I guess I couldn't really believe him, because I saw how much blood he was losing and… and… Thanks for letting me know."

Standing a short distance behind Andy, Eric let out a sigh of relief as well.

"You are more than welcome." Chang said with a smile. "I know it will be difficult, but you should try to get some sleep. When you wake up, we should be able to let you in to see him. He may even be awake by then. However, I will warn you, over the next few days, he will be needing a lot of rest, and will probably need help doing even small things."

"I'm sure Andy will be more than willing to help out his brother," Eric commented as he placed a reassuring hand on the nine-year-old's shoulder.

"Yeah, anything he needs me to help him with I will," Andy agreed. "Actually, I'm not really that tired. Are you sure there isn't anything I can do to start helping him, now?"

"Unfortunately not." Chang said while shaking his head. "Right now, I have given him some medicine that will keep him asleep for several more hours. The best thing you can do for him now is to be well rested when he does wake up. You will have to help him a lot, and you being tired will not help. If you would like, i can give you something as well that will help you sleep. It will not harm you at all."

Andy glanced toward Eric with a concerned look.

"You don't have to take it if you don't want to, kiddo," Eric answered Andy's unasked question. "I think you are old enough to make that decision on your own."

"I wanna stay up with you and the others," Andy answered.

"Most of the other guys, including your other brothers are already asleep," Eric answered glancing down at his watch. "It's already past four in the morning. Me and the others aren't going to be awake much longer." He then shifted his focus back to Chang. "I don't suppose you have any news about Linda?"

Chang nodded and spoke. "Yes, I do. While I cannot give you any certainties, I can tell you this. She is a very strong lady, and is fighting with everything she has. As of when I left, both she and the baby were still being worked on. However, I can say with certainty that everything humanly possible is being done."

"Oh, thank god, you have no clue just how strong she can be when she wants to," Eric let out another sigh of relief. "If it comes down to a matter of strength, I have no doubt she will pull through." He then looked back toward Andy, who seemed lost in thought.

"Andy?" the man began. "Now that we know how things are going with Linda and Chris, the others and I will probably not be awake that much longer. I've been around you and your brother long enough to know that you'll probably be awake still thinking about all these for several more hours. If you are serious about wanting to be there for Chris when he wakes up tomorrow, I would strongly consider taking Chang up on his offer. But as I said, the choice is yours."

Andy continued to think hard about his choice. He didn't feel at all like going to sleep, and didn't want to take anything that would force him to go to sleep, but at the same time he was serious about wanting to be there for his brother tomorrow. "You said it won't hurt?"

"No," Eric shook his head. "He'll just give you something that will help you relax. And in a few minutes, you will start getting tired, and feel like you want to go to sleep. Then tomorrow, you'll wake up normally."

Andy slowly nodded as he turned back toward Chang. "I think I would like you to give me something to help me sleep, because I feel really wide awake right now, and I want to be there tomorrow to help my brother."

Chang nodded his head with a smile. "That is very wise of you." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small pill. "This will simply help you relax and sleep. Within four hours, it will no longer be affecting you. Once you and your brother are both awake, I will make sure that you are allowed in to see him. Honestly though, I believe that by this time tomorrow, he will be here, sleeping in his own bed."

Andy nodded in understanding as he took the offered pill. Tilting his head, he looked at the tiny pill. Shrugging his shoulder, he popped it in his mouth.

"I think your supposed to take some…" Eric began to say as he watched Andy swallow the pill. "water with that?"

"It wasn't that big," Andy stated as he glanced back toward Chang. "Thank you Chang. And thanks for working so hard to help Chris and Mom."

Chang bowed slightly. "It was my honor to do so. Now if you will excuse me, I need to go prepare some food for myself and my brothers. I will return later when you have woken to take you to talk to your brother."

"Thanks," both Eric and Andy replied. With another slight bow, the Chang walked off down the hall.

"I don't think that pill worked that well," Andy stated as Eric closed the door. "I still feel wide awake."

"That's because you took it less than thirty seconds ago," Eric replied, as he wrapped Andy in a hug. "Come back and tell me that ten minutes from now."

Walking back into the living room, Eric began to explain to Sammy and Brian, the only other boys still awake, what Chang had just told them. As he did this, Andy walked over to Daileass, who he had been staying close to for most of the evening.

"Good news?" Daileass asked as Andy sat down next to him.

Andy nodded. "Yeah, looks like Chris is going to be fine, and Mom and the new baby are doing pretty good, too."

"Cool," Daileass smiled as he could easily tell how much the news affected him. "See, I told ya he would be fine."

"Yeah," Andy agreed. "Plus, he gave me a little pill to help me fall asleep, but I still don't feel tired at all."

Knowing exactly what Chang more than likely gave him, Daileass smiled knowingly. "Give it a few minutes; I'm sure you won't be feeling wide awake for long."

"That's what Uncle Eric said, too," Andy continued. "I don't really mind one way or the other. Chang said my brother will be awake tomorrow, and I'll be able to go see him. That's all I really care about."

"He means a lot to you, doesn't he?" Daileass asked, already knowing the answer.

Andy nodded. "Yeah. To be honest, I don't think I could ever have asked for a better twin. Some people say that brothers and twins fight a bunch, but we almost never fight."

"You and Chris definitely have a strong bond between you," Daileass agreed. "That's something rare amongst twins."

Andy nodded and leaned his head against Daileass, remaining silent for several moments. "Daileass?" he spoke up a short while later. "Thanks, I mean for being here tonight. I'm sure you have tons of other stuff you could be doing."

"You're welcome," Daileass answered as he wrapped a comforting arm around Andy. "And to be honest, this was the most important place for me to be, tonight. You and your family have been through a lot. I'm glad I was able to help out, even if it was just a little."

Andy nodded and yawned. "Do you think we'll get to stay here with you guys? I mean after mom and Chris are better?"

"I'm pretty sure Adam would let you guys stay as long as you wanted," Daileass answered. "A lot of that will probably end up on your dad, and how the elections go today. But even if you do leave, I'm sure you would be allowed to come back and visit whenever you wanted."

Andy never replied. A few minutes later, Daileass could hear the boy's breathing become calmer and more rhythmic. Gently lifting the sleeping nine-year-old up, he found an open spot on one of the couches to lay him, so he would be more comfortable. "Sleep well, Andy," he whispered.

Eric watched how Daileass handled Andy, and couldn't help but smile. "Thanks again for all your help tonight," he stated as Daileass walked over to him.

"You're welcome," Daileass replied as he glanced around the room and noticed everyone else was asleep. "If you need anything else, you know how to get ahold of us through the intercom system, right?"

Eric nodded. "I do."

"Okay, then unless you need anything else, I think I'll head out now," Daileass replied.

"You've done more than I could have ever hoped for," Eric stated. "For a few minutes there, Andy was really starting to concern me earlier. I still don't know how you managed to turn him around so quickly."

Daileass smiled and nodded. "Good night," he said, as he made his way out of the apartment, dimming the lights slightly on his way out.

Haden slowly shook his head in disbelief as he finished disconnecting the sixth bag of blood from Will, which meant that Adam, Juan, Jory, and Will had all given six bags of blood each, and they were still going. Since he had arrived in the medical a little over two hours ago with former President Jack Bryce and his running mate, Mike Reynolds, he had mainly been focusing on swapping out the blood and saline bags for the other four boys who were giving blood that could be used to try to help save the President's wife and one of his sons.

Looking toward the entrance of the room, Haden saw a rather tired looking Barrett standing there. "Hi."

"Hey," Barrett replied, as he walked in. "Theodore said you would probably still be here."

"Yeah, I've been helping with whatever I can, here. Mainly I've been swapping out the blood and saline bags," Haden stated as he walked over to where Dr. Janet Hayes was standing as she kept an eye on the vitals of both Linda Bryce and her unborn baby.

"Thanks, sweetie," the woman spoke as she took the offered bag of blood from Haden. "I think things have calmed down enough around here so I can handle the bag swaps if you want to take off with Barrett."

"Are you sure?" Haden asked with concern.

Janet nodded. "Yes. You've been a great help Haden, thanks. If you ever get bored messing with electronics, I think you would make a great medical assistant."

Haden Beamed. "Thanks, but I think I will stick to electronics."

With another nod, and a knowing smile, Janet walked over to the other table to start preparing the blood for use.

"I'm surprised you're still awake," Haden turned his attention back to his twin as the two walked out of the medical center and down the hall. "I figured you would have headed to bed a while ago."

"Yeah, right," Barrett replied. "I've spent the last two hours helping out up in the hanger. First with the medical staff that came with the President, and then after they were all taken care of, I helped Hac and a few of the other guys with getting the Chinook cleaned out."

"Ah," Haden stated, as his stomach rumbled. "Feel like grabbing a snack?"

Barrett grinned. "Actually, that's why I was looking for you. Hac and I are going to go check out the cafeteria and see if we can find any food."

"Works for me," Haden smiled as he and Barrett turned a corner and nearly ran into Daileass. "Fancy seeing you here."

Daileass grinned. "Shouldn't you two be in bed by now? It's well past 4:30am."

"Yeah be we're going to the cafeteria first, to find a snack," Barrett stated.

"Wanna join us?" Haden asked hopefully.

"I would love to," Daileass began as he wrapped Haden in a warm hug causing both him and Barrett to start blushing. After a few moments, he took a step back. "But I really should be heading over to the control center to help Simon with a few things."

Haden nodded in understanding.

"You guys go on, and then get to bed," Daileass continued. "I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be even busier than today." With that, Daileass went one way while Haden and Barrett went the other.

It didn't take long for them to reach the cafeteria. After taking a few moments to gawk at how large it was and with it easily being able to seat over three hundred people, they made their way to the back in the kitchen area. Both boys were rather surprised to find Hac already there making himself a sandwich.

After taking a few minutes to make themselves a snack, and finding where the drinks were hiding, all three boys finally had a chance to sit down for the first time in several hours. While eating seemed to be the most important thing on the agenda, they also got to talk about a few other things, such as whether or not they would ever manage to find a way home.

'Hey guys,' Both Haden and Barrett heard Logan say in their heads, just as they were finishing their snacks. 'How would you two like to play with some professional broadcast studio cameras?'

'Could be interesting, why? What's up?' Haden sent back.

'We just found out that President Ashwood is about to address the nation and announce that Jack is dead,' Logan replied. 'We're getting things setup so that Jack can broadcast his own response if he wants. I could use you guys on the cameras, if you're interested.'

Haden and Barrett glanced at each other for a brief moment before they both stood up and made their way toward the exit. 'We're on our way,' Haden sent.

"Where you guys going?" Hac asked with concern.

"Got to go back to work," Haden said as he was walking away.

"I'll catch up with you back at the room," Barrett added.

Once the boys were gone, Hac sat there for a few moments with a confused look on his face. "Okay, guess I'll see you guys later," he said to the empty room.

Barrett followed Haden into a somewhat small room that was very closely setup to look like a professional broadcast studio, complete with announcer table, two large professional cameras, and a bunch of monitoring equipment off to the side. One of the large screens to the side was already showing the insides of the White House press room, where reporters were patiently waiting for the President to appear and make his statement.

Adam, Logan, and several of the other U.N.I.T. kids were already in the room busily setting things up while Jack and Mike, still in their bloody clothes, were standing in front of the table, leaning up against it.

"Cool, you guys got here in time. Thanks," Logan stated as soon as he saw the two boys. "Haden, if you could take this camera, and Barrett, grab that one over there, I'll let you know which camera is live, and all you have to do is make sure Jack is centered in the middle of the little screen you have. If I need you to do anything else, I'll let you know."

Both boys nodded in understanding, as Logan walked over to speak with Jack and Mike, extending his hand to them. "Sir, with all the confusion, I do not believe we have been properly introduced. I'm Logan Hayes, Commanding officer of the Intel Division, as well as current commander of what few combat troops we have right now. Now I need to know what you want to do. We can cut you in at any time; all you have to do is signal it. If you want to wait till after he is done, and then make a response, we can do that as well. It is entirely up to you."

Jack sent Logan back a hard look. "Son, I think we'll let this bastard have a bit of rope and once he's gone and done hanged himself good, we'll come in and explain life a bit to him. How's that sound to ya'll".

As the two were talking, Haden quickly went over with Barrett how to work the camera. By the time he had finished and gotten back over to his own camera, the large monitor showing the White House press room had a man stepping up to the podium.

Straightening his tie, the man at the podium began. "Good morning," the man began. "Before we begin, I would like to thank all of you for coming on such short notice, especially on such an important day. As I'm sure that all of you are aware by now, the President has an important statement that he would like to make, in regards to the International Terrorist, Jackson Bryce. He'll be making his statement momentarily, after that, he will not be taking any questions at this time. As has been this administration's standard policy with such announcements, I would like to encourage any of you that have follow up questions to direct them to the White House's Public Affairs Office. Thank you."

Glancing around the room and seeing that there were no questions, the man stepped to the side. About 30 seconds later, the side door opened up, and President Ashwood entered the room and stepped up to the podium.

After standing silently at the podium for a few seconds, Ashwood began his speech. "Good morning my fellow Americans. Today was meant to be an important occasion for every American, as we prepare to exercise our constitutional right to make our opinions know, and vote for those people we feel will best fill the vital roles of government. It is therefore with heavy heart that I must step before you, my fellow citizens, and bring you this news."

After pausing a few moments for effect, he continued."At approximately 3:30am Eastern, 1:30am Mountain Time, The FAA reported that a private corporate jet crashed in the Utah mountains, approximately one hundred miles North of the Grand Canyon. Local authorities that responded to the crash reported that there were no survivors."

"As per standard policies, the FAA immediately began a full investigation into the crash," Ashwood continued. "Although all the specific details are not yet known, what we know so far is that the plane's electronic identifier had been tempered with, making it difficult for the FAA to properly track. More importantly, however, we have also learned that the plane was carrying Jackson Bryce and Michael Reynolds as well as all of their immediate family."

Again, Ashwood paused a few moments for effect. "Once again, I must report that former President Jackson Bryce, his running mate, Michael Reynolds, and their family were killed in a plane crash at around 1:30am local time earlier this morning. With that being said, I would also like to make the following statement very clear. Although my administration had maintained for over a year that Jackson Bryce has performed actions that equate to those of an International Terrorist, it was in no way our intention to interfere with the fact that you, the citizens of the United States of America had chosen for him to be one of the candidates that would be running against me in today's election."

"Given that this unfortunate accident has occurred, it must be properly addressed," Ashwood continued. "Although Jackson Bryce's name will remain on this morning's ballet, given that he has died, any votes cast for him will be disqualified. Although, it is in no way this administration's intention to attempt to tell anyone how to execute their democratic right, we do feel it is important to make this fact known to you so that you may choose to vote in such a way that your vote will count, and not be disqualified. Thank You."

The moment Ashwood stepped away from the podium, hands immediately shot up, and reporters quickly started shouting out questions.

"No questions at this time, I'm sorry," Ashwood stated as he quickly made his way out of the room.

Logan turned and looked over toward Jack, "I assume you still wish to reply?"

"You bet your ass I do!" the former President replied in a tone which clearly carried the rage he was trying to hold back.

"Good." Logan said, as he stepped to the side. "Haden… you're up first. Jack, as soon as Theodore gives you the signal, you'll be live. Okay?"

"Yes," Jack replied quickly with a nod. He then straightened himself up and waited for the signal that he was live.

"My fellow Americans", Jack began. "As you've just seen, I'm supposedly dead. At approximately two in the morning, President Ashwood launched a medium scale covert attack with US Military forces against another US Military Base in which I, Mike and our families had taken refuge, due to the threats against us. I have been told it involved over four hundred paratroopers and numerous airplanes of various types, and all done as a sneak attack on our forces by military forces of which this President has command."

Jack paused for a moment before continuing. "The President's cowardly attack did not succeed, as you can see. He missed, once again, as has been common for him and his administration. Vice Presidential candidate Reynolds and I are perfectly fine, at least physically, the blood you see all over me is not mine."

As he continued to speak, it was clear that Jack was fighting to hold back both his anger, and his tears. "President Ashwood and his cowardly attack, in an attempt to subvert the electoral process in this country, by assassinating his rival, didn't work. What he did accomplish, though…" Jack paused again for a moment, "What his attack on our families did accomplish was…was the shooting of my nine year old son, Chris, and the shooting of my eight month pregnant wife, Linda."

"His success was to gravely wound both. Chris, will…I'm sorry…Chris will be alright, the doctors tell me, although he'll have pain in his shoulder which was shattered, for the rest of his life, and whenever he uses that arm, or shoulder for anything. Linda…" Jack was forced to break again, valiantly fighting back the tears. "She…Linda has spent the night in surgery and….she's out…"

Jack looked up, seeming to gather his inner strength once more, and continued. "Linda came out of surgery a short time ago….she….they don't know yet if she'll…..they don't know if she'll make it or not."

After a bit, though, he turned back to the cameras and tried to continue. "The baby is going to be fine, they tell me, and the next…..the next twenty four to forty eight hours will decide Linda….Linda's fate. I ask for your prayers, because….because I know she'll fight like hell to stay here with….with us and it's up to God, now." At this point, the tears in Jack's eyes were very obvious to everyone else in the room.

Haden was almost caught off guard as Jack stood up and began to walk around to the front of the desk. Fortunately, he did a pretty good job at following him. "The blood you see is theirs, innocent blood shed by a coward, attacking his opponent and their children and families in the middle of the night. This is blood that you, Mr. President will answer for. That you will pay very dearly for having shed. This, I promise you to my dying breath, you'll be brought to justice for what you have done! Our other children didn't have more than minor cuts and scrapes, but the toll on them mentally, psychologically and emotionally has been heavy, very heavy. All of them are in a state of shock, some to the point of catatonia. All will have to live with this, for the rest of their lives and that, too, is on your hands, Mr. President."

Taking a moment to re-gain some of his composure, Jack continued. "To the people of this great nation, I tell you, the President cannot invalidate the entire election process, nor disregard votes that are not for him. I urge you all to come out and vote, whether for me, or him, make your voices heard, right now, today, because if he gets elected again, then God help this country." He paused for a brief moment before continuing. "If you'll excuse me, Mike and I have to get back to our families." With nothing more to say, Jack turned and started out of the room.

Haden was just about to turn the camera off and end the feed as he heard Logan speak in his head 'Stay on him, Haden. I want this broadcast as well.'

'You got it,' Haden replied.

Jack made it to just outside the door, but still in view of the camera, when he leaned his back against the wall, and finally let all the emotions out. Sliding down the wall, the man's sobs could be clearly heard. Adam looked over at Logan with a question. This was not really something Adam thought the world should be seeing, but Logan motioned for him to remain quiet. Had it been anyone other than Logan, he might have argued, but Adam nodded, then turned back just in time to see Mike slide down the wall next to Jack, wrapping his friend up in his arms. Jack just cried harder.

Then Adam knew why Logan had waited. "DAD! UNCLE JACK!" A young boy's voice could be heard crying out, and the running of feet could be heard. Sammy and Brian clad in nothing but their white briefs ran up to the two men and pushed their way in, trying to comfort them. Jack and Mike quickly brought both boys into their arms, and more so, into their emotional release.

Adam knew that Logan was still waiting for something, since he hadn't given the signal to stop broadcasting, but Adam wasn't sure what it was. Finally it came, and it shouldn't have surprised Adam when it came from Sammy. He pulled back and kissed Jack in the forehead, then pulled back again. "He was wrong, Uncle Jack… None of us died… Not Chris, not the baby, and I just know Aunt Linda will be fine. He didn't kill us, and he won't beat us. It's just like you always say… love and happiness will beat lies and anger every time."

'Now,' Logan sent to Haden, giving him the signal to cut the transmission.

Less than ten minutes later, Haden and Barrett finally made it to their rooms. Sighing heavily as the two boys stopped outside of Haden's door, Barrett glanced toward his twin. "I don't know about you, but I'm ready for today to be over."

Haden tiredly nodded in agreement. "Yeah, today was certainly a roller coaster. I hope it's not a sign of things to come."

"Haden?" Barrett asked seriously. "You think we will ever get back home?"

Haden was silent for several moments before answering. "To be honest, I don't really know," he began. "But I'll say this much. If a way exists, you can bet that Adam and Logan will find it."

Barrett nodded in agreement. "Yeah, it's pretty clear they are both highly dedicated to U.N.I.T., and very determined."

The two boys held each other's glance for a few more moments until, at the same time, they both decided it was time to go to bed, and stepped into their separate rooms for a well-deserved rest.


Editor's notes:

Dear God!!! We start this chapter with a rescue that seems to be impossible, then we move to the main base where Janet and Chang are having to use every ounce of knowledge they have to save two very important people, to what is going on as everyone tries to settle in!!! How much more can Zacky put into a chapter??? I am glad he did though. This was one hell of a chapter.

We got to see what all happened behind the scenes. What happened with the kids and the trauma they went through. We also go to see Daileass at his best, taking care of the boys as they got cleaned up and how nurturing and helpful Daileass really is. Then there was Andy!!! My god, he was a mess and had started to completely shut down. Daileass was able to pull him out of that and get him back to life again. What a great kid Daileass is. I was so proud and happy of what he accomplished.

Okay, can we say exploration/scavenger hunt? Glen and the rest of them found a lot of cool shit on the bottom floor. I was ready to hook up the popcorn machine myself!!! Poor Forth!!! LOL I wanted him to have his popcorn!!!

Now, to end the chapter, we find out that the current President was trying to assassinate the rival!!! That doesn't go over so well with Adam and the gang and the response and then the ending and the emotion was so heart felt. I really could not believe how well this was all done and damn, I can't wait for more!!

You friendly neighborhood editing pup,


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