"Really?" Lance asked.
To answer his question, the Terminal on the desk behind where Brent was sitting turned into a 3D image of the two Cynthitech structures, several red dots appeared in the upper floor, 2nd lowest floor, and outside the first building, and a few green dots appeared in the middle of the other building, "A few of the younger kids have taken Miles and two of the younger guys from Maurice's group to the top floor to show them the hard drive copying work they have been working on. Also, some of the older kids are hanging outside. I think Andrew and Micha are trying to teach some of the older clone kids about soccer. Then another group have gone down to the medical bays on the lower level to check on 413."
"Uh oh," Lance grinned, "I best head down to the med bay."
"I'll check out how the soccer lessons are going," Evan commented.
"Hey Daileass," Brent asked, as he was now turned in his seat looking at the image, "What are the green dots in the other building?"
"Those would be the adults," Daileass answered, "They've asked me to keep what they are working on a secret for the next few hours. But I think you guys will like it."
Brent shrugged, "Okay."
As Lance and Evan left the room to head in separate directions, Brent started to work with Maurice to get all of his guys entered into the database.
Luke, Roe and Eric made their way from the cafeteria down the hall and toward the elevator planning on checking on the new clone that was born yesterday.
"Man, Haden can really mess with your head sometimes." Roe commented as they waited for the elevator door to open. "Luke, I don't suppose you've come up with any good way to filter that?"
Luke shook his head, "Not really. It's not mental based. He's just going way over our heads."
"What are you guys talking about?" Eric asked as he stepped into the elevator. "I actually found Haden's review rather informative."
"You would." Roe replied as both triplets shook their heads.
The ride down the elevator was quiet until they almost reached the bottom. "Oh joy, looks like we are going to be getting some company." Luke commented.
"Company?" Eric asked just as the elevator door opened to reveal Jude standing near the elevator door with Donnie and Esteban standing a few feet behind him.
Before Jude could say anything, Luke answered him. "Yes, you guys can, as long as you agree to stay back and not get too close."
Jude got a big grin on his face as he turned around to Donnie and Esteban, "Told ya he'd say yes."
The two gang kids looked at each other with expressions of excitement and surprise. "But, how did he..." Donnie began before Eric interrupted him.
"Telepaths." Eric commented as he walked out of the elevator. "You'll get use to them... eventually."
The group of six made their way from the elevator and down the set of halls that led to the part of the building that he disliked the most, the clone programming rooms. As they turned the corner to see the large double doors that would lead into that area, they also saw Forth pacing back and forth in front of the door, and Stan leaning up against the wall.
"There you guys are," Forth said as he marched up to Luke. "We've been waiting forever for you guys to get here."
"For what?" Jude asked.
Instead of answering, Forth simply glared at Jude. A few moments later, Eric answered for him. "Forth is a bit concerned about our newest brother being hooked up to the programming machine."
As if to make sure his name was included as well, Stan walked over to stand next to Forth.
"Guys, we already have too many people already. The room is going to be way too crowded." Luke stated.
"No!" Forth shot back, with a look in his eyes that caused both Luke and Roe to take a step back. "My newest brother is in there! I've been waiting an entire day to check on him. You are NOT going to go check on him without me!"
Luke blinked a few times. "Fine, if it means that much to you, just stay back with Jude, Donnie, and Esteban."
Forth nodded and walked to stand next to Eric.
Luke looked at the rather large group of kids that his initially small group had grown into. "Okay, before we get anyone else that wants to join us, let's get in there." Seeing no objections, he along with the rest of the assembled kids, made their way through the double doors.
Luke turned the light on as he led the group into a room about the size of two bedrooms. However, with the back of the room being taken up with 5 foot high cabinets of electronics equipment, and three beds spread out across the middle of the room, there was not a lot of space to walk around.
A soft low-pitched humming sound could be heard coming from the equipment on the left side of the room. A small eight year-old boy was laying on the bed on the same side with two electrodes attached to his upper chest, and an odd-looking headset covering his eyes and most of his head.
"Guys, don't get too close until I switch off the soma-unit." Luke stated as he made his way over to the equipment.
"Is that dangerous?" Donnie asked as he froze in his tracks.
"Not really," Roe answered. "It's only for Eric, Forth, Stan, or any of the other clone kids, because of the enzymes that are in them, and the only thing that could really happen if they get too close is that they would fall asleep."
"Ah, okay. That's not that bad." Donnie commented as Luke flipped a few switches which caused the low humming sound to stop and Forth to quickly run to the side of the boy's bed.
"You think we should wait for Lee to get here before we do anything else?" Eric asked as he and the others followed Forth in moving closer to the bed.
"Nah," Luke replied as he began to take off the electrodes from the boy's chest. "I've done this several times with the other guys over the last week. We should be fine."
"What's with the headset?" Esteban asked as he closely watched Luke removing the wires. "That looks like one of those fancy virtual reality headset things I've read about."
Luke looked toward Esteban and smiled. "That's actually pretty close. It creates high intensity patterns of flashing light that is used to help stimulate memory neurons in the brain to better retain knowledge information that is being pushed in through audio and bio-feedback methods."
"Cool. I think." Esteban hesitantly replied.
"It can also mess with your head pretty badly when used wrong." Eric's voice had a clear tone of dislike.
"Which is why we try to use them as little as possible, except the few times when it's necessary." Luke replied as he removed the headset and began to remove the electrodes that were on the boy's scalp and ears.
Eric nodded, "I know, but I still don't like them."
"He looks a lot like me." Stan commented as he looked at the boy closer.
"Huh?" Eric asked as he was caught off guard slightly by the change of subjects. "Oh yeah, he's a F series just like you are. In fact, I think it's just one revision above you, which would make you two really close brothers."
"Wow, coolness!" Stan replied as he continued to watch in awe.
Luke nodded as he removed the last two wires from behind the boy's ears. "Okay guys, I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen here, so I think we should all move back a little and give him some space."
Everyone backed up as much as the small around of space in the room allowed, and waited with baited breath. Several seconds went by with nothing happening at all. If it wasn't for the slight rising and falling of the boy's chest, some of them might have wondered if he was even alive.
"Why isn't he waking up?" Forth asked with concern.
Luke shook his head. "Give him a few minutes."
"But what if he doesn't? What if something's wrong?" Forth asked.
Before Luke could answer, the boy opened his eyes and quickly sat up which caught everyone by surprise.
"It's okay. We won't hurt you." Forth spoke softly.
"I don't think he can really understand you yet." Roe offered.
In a look that was a mix between fear and curiosity, the boy sat there for nearly a minute, carefully looking around the room. He seemed to jump back and forth looking at the different kids that were standing and watching.
After waiting for what seemed like for ever, Forth decided to try again. "We're friends," he said slowly and softly, "Friends."
Roe and Luke both shook their heads while the boy looked straight at Forth. "Oooo." The boy sounded in a high soprano voice.
"You?" Forth asked in surprise. "Yes, me. I'm a friend, I'm one of your brothers."
"Ooo... Oo!" The boy sounded again, this time with slightly more confidence.
"What's he trying to say?" Forth asked as he looked up toward Luke.
Luke shrugged. "Who knows. It is probably nothing at all, and just a random sound."
"Aren't you two telepaths? Can't you tell what he's thinking and trying to say?" Forth looked back at the boy on the bed who still had his gaze fixed on Forth.
"There's nothing really there to pick up on." Roe replied with a sigh.
Luke nodded, "And the little that is there, is all jumbled up."
"I don't think it's random." Forth said as he took a step forward to the boy, which immediately caused the kid to tense up and try to push himself backward.
"Careful, Forth. He's going to be really scared and confused right now." Eric tried to get Forth's attention, but had no success.
"I'm Forth." Forth said softly as he pointed to himself. "F-or-th."
"F...oooo," the boy replied.
"F-oh-er-th." Forth sounded out back.
"Foo!" the boy challenged back as he leaned a bit closer toward Forth.
Forth sighed and shook his head as he looked toward Luke, "Were the rest of us this difficult when we first woke up?"
Luke shrugged, "You guys all had a pretty firm understanding in basic language and behavior when we first met you, so it's hard to say."
"I don't think he's trying to say your name, Forth." Eric offered. "I get the feeling it's something else."
"I'm the only one here whose name starts with an 'F', what else would he be saying."
"Maybe he's trying to say food?" Esteban asked.
Luke slapped his forehead, "Oh man, he hasn't had any food since he was removed from the pod yesterday."
Forth quickly turned back toward the boy. "Food?" He asked, as he pointed to his mouth.
"Foo-d!" The boy called back with a hopeful expression on his face. "Foood!"
"Aw man, the poor little guy must be starving." Donnie added.
"Come on, we'll take you to the cafeteria to get something to eat." Forth stated as he reached out to help the boy off the bed.
Before anyone could try to stop Forth, the boy had already pulled back with enough force that he fell backward off the other side of the bed and hit his head on one of the cabinets. In an instant, everything seemed to freeze. The boy was momentarily stunned from the surprise of hitting his head, and everyone else froze to see what the boy would do next.
They didn't have to wait long. With something that sounded like a cross between a cry and a wail, the boy darted under the bed, then between Esteban and Donnie before he ran under the bed in the middle of the room.
"Hey guys." Lance said cheerfully as he and Lee entered the room. "What was that noise that we..."
Before Lance could finish his question the boy jumped out toward toward Lance. Out of reflex, Lance ducked toward the side which caused the boy to land a little past him, where he proceeded to stumble and scurry down the hall.
"What the hell?" Lee asked in surprise.
Forth and a few of the others quickly made their way toward the door. "He was hungry, so we were going to take him up to the cafeteria to get something to eat."
Lee sighed, "He was just born Forth. He's brand new. You can't do stuff like that with him yet."
Lance tapped his comm badge. "Daileass, can you track the boy that just went running out from our location?"
Daileass replied almost instantly. "With these new beauties that got installed yesterday? You bet I can. He doesn't have a comm badge yet, so switching to thermal... hold on..."
"Why didn't you guys wait until we got here before waking him up?" Lee asked.
Forth looked lost for a few moment. "It was Luke's idea. He said it would be okay."
"I did it several times last week with you watching, and you said I did good, so I didn't think it would be an issue." Luke offered in his defense.
"Got him." Daileass replied from Lance's comm badge. "He ran into one of the unassigned office rooms, office B-213, down the hall, to the right and first door on the left." As he said this, the terminal in the room came to life and a video showing a multi-color thermal image appeared, showing the outline of a small boy cowering in the back of a room.
"Come on, we need to get him." Forth said as he began to head out of the room only to be held back by Lee.
"We need to be careful how we do this, or we will just scare him more." Lee tried to say.
"Let go of me!" Forth angrily shouted back as he forcefully pulled his arm away from Lee. "He's my brother, I need to help him."
"Forth, calm down. Your new brother will be okay." Lee said as he grabbed hold of Forth again with both hands.
"Get off of me!" Forth shouted as he easily pushed the 13-year-old, nearly one foot taller boy off of him and against the wall.
"Damn." Lee said with surprise as he watched Forth run down the hallway.
"Forth!" Eric called out, to no avail.
Lee brushed his arm off, "That little guy is strong."
"I've never see him like that before." Eric offered.
"He cares a lot about his new brother." Roe offered as he and Luke walked over to where Lance, Eric, and Lee were standing. "I'm not sure why he got so angry though. The only thing I can say for sure is he was shouting in his head a lot."
"Humm." Eric mused.
"Let's worry about Forth later." Lance suggested. "For now, we need to focus on 413."
Forth made his way to the entrance of room B-213, and peered into the darkness. Although he couldn't see him, he could hear the boy's heavy breathing and sniffles. "Hello?" He said as he took a few steps into the room. "I won't hurt you. Don't be scared of me."
Sounds of rustling and scurrying from the back of the room made it clear that the boy wasn't calming down.
Forth stopped and felt for the new comm badge that was attached to his shirt. "Hey Daileass? Can you hear me?"
"Yes, I can Forth." Daileass replied quietly.
Forth thought for a few moments as his eyes slowly began to adjust to the darker room, "My new brother is scared and hungry. Do you know where I could find any food for him?"
"I think I have just the thing." Daileass answered. Moments later, a tray appeared on the floor half way between where Forth was standing and where the other boy was huddled in the corner. On it were two different sized bowls and a cup.
"Since he hasn't eaten before, I picked a few things that should be pretty easy for his stomach to handle." Daileass stated as Forth walked closer to the tray.
"Wow, that was fast too. Thank you Daileass." Forth spoke softly as he looked at the items on the tray. The larger bowl had some type of soup in it, while the smaller bowl appeared to be filled with jello. Without even having to look into the cup, Forth knew from the smell alone, that it was filled with strawberry lemonade.
"You're welcome Forth." Daileass replied as the comm badge went silent.
"Here's some food." Forth said softer as he knelt down next to the tray and looked toward the boy. "F-oo-d."
The boy did nothing other than stare at Forth.
Forth picked up one of the two large spoons that were also on the tray and dipped it into the soup, and slurped it into his mouth. "Mmm... Chicken soup. This is really yummy, I think you will like it."
The boy leaned forward a little but still remained where he was at.
Forth looked in the smaller bowl. "Hmm, this one has... well... wiggly stuff... you might like it. Oh and this drink? It's the best drink ever, strawberry lemonade!"
Seeing that the boy was still not moving, Forth took a small sip from the lemonade, trying his hardest to not guzzle the whole thing down, and then held it out toward the boy. Just as he was about to give up and put the cup back on the tray, the boy reached one of his arms out, mimicking how Forth was holding the cup out.
Forth nodded. "Yeah. Drink. It's yummy. You want some?"
The boy moved a few inches closer to Forth, but still kept his distance. In response, Forth moved his outstretched cup a little closer to the boy. Seeing that the kid made no motion to pull away, Forth continued moving closer until the cup was close enough to the boy's face for him to smell it. Instantly, the boy's eye's lit up.
"It smells good, doesn't it?" Forth smiled. "What do we call you? I know, how about I call you Fifth? That sounds like a cool name, doesn't it?"
The boy, now labeled 'Fifth' by Forth, tried to move his head to get what was in the cup.
"Oh, you need to hold it." Forth replied as he moved the cup toward the boys hand. As soon as Forth thought Fifth had it, he let go and carefully moved his hand away. A few seconds later, the boy let go of the cup, which caused the lemonade to spill out all over the floor.
"Dah!" Forth said with surprise as he deflated slightly at the loss of the yummy drink. "It's okay, you just have to learn to hold things better."
Fifth looked at Forth with confusion as the empty cup disappeared and a new one appeared on the tray.
"Wow! Cups don't usually do that, I guess you're good luck, you made the yummy drink come back!"
Fifth again looked at Forth with confusion as Forth brought the new cup back for another try.
"This time, I think I'll help you hold onto it." Forth stated.
A few minutes later, after Forth had not only somehow managed to get Fifth started on the soup, but also had him sitting on his lap, both boys were startled a few other kids entered the room.
"Forth?" Lee called out with surprise.
Forth looked up toward Lee and the others, and winced when someone turned on the lights in the room. "Fifth was only hungry and scared, but he's okay now."
"Fifth?" Lance asked.
Forth nodded. "That's his name. I gave it to him."
Lee smiled and shook his head while Eric grinned. "Don't you think we should let him pick his own name, just like you were able to pick yours?"
"I guess." Forth answered as he went back to helping the boy eat more of his soup after getting nudged by him on his arm.
"Wow, that's a lot of computers." Miles commented as he, Irvin, and Kendall followed Doug, Greg, Cooper, and Rene into a large open office room that was on the top floor of building two.
"Yeah, I don't think I've ever seen that many before." Irvin added as the three youngest street gang kids looked in awe at the pile of nearly twenty computers stacked up against the wall, and another group of about thrity computers that were in a nice line on the other wall.
Doug shrugged. "It's nothing big, most of the computers are really old pieces of junk."
"Didn't you guys have computers when you lived on the streets?" Cooper asked, as he and Rene grabbed one of the computers that was up against the wall, and brought it over to where Doug and Greg were sitting.
"Computers?" Kendall seemed a bit surprised, "Why would we have them on the streets?"
Cooper shrugged, "I was doing some reading on street gangs, and one thing it said is that gangs sometimes steal a lot of stuff, so I just figured you guys must have stolen a lot of computers."
The three gang kids shared a glance with each other as Kendall shook his head. "Nah. We would steal food and stuff. Sometimes the older kids would steal other stuff like clothes or lighters or stuff. Bookworm... I mean, Donnie had a really old lap top computer, but that was about it."
"Oh." Cooper replied as he started working on unscrewing one of the screws in the case.
"If this stuff is so old, why you doing all this anyway?" Miles asked curiously.
"For Daileass." Rene answered.
Miles scrunched his nose a bit. "Why would Daileass need them?"
"He doesn't actually 'need' them," Copper tried to explain. "It's just he thinks that some of the information on the hard drives in these computers might be helpful, and since they are so old, they can't connect to a network, we have to manually take the drives out, put adapters on them, and then hook them up to an interface so Daileass can copy them."
"Oh, I guess that makes sense." Miles answered, still not convinced. "Can I help?"
Doug looked up at Miles for a few moments as if considering him, "Yeah, there is another screw driver over on the other table. See if you can use that to get the screws on the other side of the case off."
Miles nodded and did as Doug suggested.
"You guys have a really cool view from up here." Irvin commented as he stood next to the large window.
"Yeah, it also makes a cool lookout place." Greg commented.
"Who are you looking out for?" Irvin asked as he looked out toward the road that lead up to Cynthitech, and then went further out into the desert.
"Not much, really." Greg answered.
Rene nodded, "Yeah, mostly we just watch the black van's."
"Black vans?" Irvin asked. "You mean like that one."
Cooper, Rene, and Doug dropped what they were doing and immediately ran over to the window where Irvin was at. Miles and Kendall soon followed as well.
"Exactly like that." Cooper replied as he tapped his comm badge. "Hey Daileass?"
"He's driving off." Rene commented.
"Yes, Cooper?" Daileass replied.
"Do you know anything about the black vans that keep coming and stop out on the road?" Cooper asked as he looked back out the window.
"Not really, this is the first I've heard of it." Daileass answered.
"There is one out there right now, driving away." Rene called out.
"Hold on guys, let me see if I can get any good visuals on it." Daileass stated.
Miles looked up toward Kendall and whispered, "Visuals?"
Hearing what Miles said, Doug answered for him, "That's what Daileass says when he means that he's going to see if any of his cameras can see it."
"Oh." Miles nodded.
Daileass's voice came back over Cooper's comm badge, "Sorry guys, one of my roof cameras saw the van, but it was already too far away to get any good details from it. Would you guys mind letting me know if you see them show up again?"
"Okay Daileass, we will." Cooper affirmed.
"Yeah." Several of the other kids agreed.
All the kids remained there watching the empty road for several seconds, as if expecting something else to happen. "Come on guys, we need to get that case off," Cooper finally suggested, which caused all the kids to turn their attention back to the computer on the table.
Avery was looking out at the mountains as a soccer ball hit him in his back. "Ouch, what did you do that for?"
"It's called soccer." Micha, one of the older gang members called back. "You're suppose to pay attention."
Avery shook his head. "I was, but you said it wasn't my ball."
"It wasn't then, but things change." Micha shot back.
"Guys... Guys!" Andrew said as he threw up his hands and walked toward where Avery and Micha were arguing. As he did this, several of the other older clone kids and gang kids that were outside with them, gathered up as well.
"How do you guys ever learn such a complicated game?" Foster, the oldest of the clone kids, asked.
"It's not complicated, if you follow the rules." Carlos replied. "Okay, look... wait." Andrew called out as he glared at Carlos. "This is the first time Avery, Foster, and the other clone kids have tried to play any sports outside before, there's going to be a learning curve."
"Learning curve my ass." Gaiden replied with a giggle, "Those guys are as thick is rocks."
"Maybe if you would stop changing the rules every five minutes." Art challenged.
"The rules haven't changed at all." Micha answered.
"Enough!" Andrew nearly shouted, "TSB, attention!"
Immediately, every street kid stopped talking and snapped to attention.
"Guys, we are not trying to take down a rival here, we are trying to show these guys a little about soccer, and try to have fun, got it?" Andrew looked around at all his guys. Not one of them made any type of move. "At ease."
Gaiden sighed, "If we aren't going to try to win, why play?"
"Maybe you guys are just going about it wrong?" Evan called out from a few feet away from the group as he stood with his right foot resting on top of a soccer ball.
Andrew looked at Evan curiously. "What do you mean?"
"Maybe what they need is a demonstration?" Evan asked with a smile.
"Ha! You don't look like you would be much better than them." Gaiden laughed.
"Try me." Evan replied seriously.
Gaiden shook his head, as he walked over to where Evan was standing. He swiftly kicked at the ball expecting to kick it out from under Evan, but when he tried the ball was no longer there, which caused him to slide and fall onto the ground causing a few of the other gang kids to giggle. Gaiden looked at Eric with a combination of a smile and a growl. He would not underestimate Evan like that again.
Within moments, Evan and Gaiden were in a heated one-on-one battle of trying to kick away, and keep the ball from each other. It didn't take long for Evan's high degree of balance and coordination to show through. Shortly after that, Micha joined Gaiden in trying to get and keep the ball from Evan.
Finally, after a few minutes of that, Evan gave up. "Okay, you guys win. Too bad it took two of you to do it."
"I was doing fine, I didn't need 'him' to help." Gaiden replied as he play-punched Micha on the shoulder.
Evan nodded. "Okay, how about this? Me and the clone kids, against you guys."
All the gang kids, including Andrew, laughed. "We've already been through this before you got out here. They are worthless at this."
Evan shrugged, "Guess we will see then." With that, Evan walked away and motioned for Avery, Foster, Devin, and the other older clone kids that were out there, to join him.
"I hate to say this, but Gaiden is right." Avery said as they all huddled together. "This soccer thing is pretty difficult to grasp."
Evan shook his head. "Nah, they were just trying to teach you guys wrong. They don't understand that you have to know fundamentals before you can do the advanced stuff."
"Fundamentals?" Foster asked.
Evan nodded and grinned. "Okay, here's what we are going to do. First off, forget about trying to make goals."
"But isn't that..." Art began to ask before Evan cut him off. "Making goals isn't going to work until you guys have the fundamentals down, when that happens, goals will come naturally."
"So what do we do?" Avery asked.
Evan leaned in closer and began whispering so only those around him could hear. Moments later, the group broke up, and moments after that, the game was on.
Almost immediately, Gaiden got the ball and grinned as he immediately headed to make a long shot goal. Fortunately, Evan was within range to intercept it. After that, the entire game seemed to change. Instead of trying to make goals, Evan and the other clone kids began simply kicking the ball back and forth to each other. Sometimes the ball would get closer to the goal, while other times, it would get further away from the goal, which completely confused the gang kids. Then, without warning, one of the times that Evan got the ball, he did a quick kick into the goal.
"What the hell is that?" Gaiden angrily demanded.
"Soccer." Evan grinned.
"That wasn't soccer, I don't know what that was." Gaiden replied back.
"Fundamentals!" Avery called out.
Andrew shook his head. "Not bad Evan. Let's see you guys try that trick again."
With that, the game was on.
The older kids were still at it about an hour later when Brent, Lance, and Hania along with Maurice, Matt, and Carol met up with them outside.
"Where are you guys off to?" Evan asked, spotting the new group of kids.
"Nowhere in particular." Brent answered.
"We're just going to go out for a walk and show Maurice around a bit." Lance added.
Immediately, most of the gang kids seemed to grow concerned. "You want us to tag along too, boss?" Andrew asked.
Maurice shook his head. "Nah, I'm sure I can handle these runts if they try anything. You guys have fun."
The rest of the gang kids looked at each other and shrugged.
"I don't think we'll be that long, but if we are, make sure Rick saves some dinner for us." Brent said as he made sure to catch Evan's gaze.
Evan nodded. "Okay, have fun."
Brent, and the others with him, nodded and headed off away from the game. A few moments after that, the game was back in full swing.
Rick handed Brent a near full plate of spaghetti along with two long garlic bread rolls, "It's about time you guys got back, nearly all the spaghetti's gone."
Brent sprinkled some cheese on top of his spaghetti, "Yeah, it took us a little longer to get back than expected. Maurice wanted to check out the mountains behind us."
Rick smiled and nodded as Brent walked over to the table, "Did you guys also lose Lance while you were out and about?"
Maurice, with his mouth still filled with bread, shook his head, "Nah, he went to get that little dude."
"Haden," Evan offered.
"Yeah, him," Maurice nodded taking a sip from his tea, "What's up with him anyway? Why is he so messed up?"
"He's not messed up," Evan raised his voice slightly, "He's my little brother."
Maurice raised his hands in surrender, "Whoa. That's not what I meant. He just seems really scared any time we see him."
Evan sighed, "It's a long story. Let's just say that his dad wasn't very kind to him, which is part of the reason we met up with Brent and the others."
"Excuse me, Brent?" Daileass's voice came over the main speakers in the cafeteria.
"What's up, Daileass?"
"Well, I have some good news and bad news," Daileass continued, "The bad news is, we are going to have to push back getting your guys hooked up with the bears for a little bit."
"That's not a problem, they've lived without them for this long. Is there any reason why?" Brent asked curiously.
Daileass's voice replied a bit more cheerfully than normal, "Well, that's the good news actually. In about an hour, a band called Rascal Flatt is going to be giving a mini-concert in the main auditorium at the UNIT base in Utah, and as many of you guys that would like to, are welcome to attend."
Smiles started to fill the room.
"That's awesome Daileass, thanks. Since you're probably tracking everyone, could you let everyone who's not here know?" Brent smiled to himself since that was one of the bands he really enjoyed.
"You got it," Daileass answered.
Just as Daileass finished, Lance and Haden walked in.
"Hey guys," Lance said as the room went quiet. Unlike lunch, there were a lot fewer kids here, and of those kids, only three of them were the new gang kids, so Haden did not seem to be having nearly as much problems as he did earlier.
As most of the kids said their hi's and hey's, Lance and Haden walked over to the counter, where Rick was already dishing up their plates.
"He's not going to start talking about all that stuff again, is he?" Maurice asked jokingly as Haden and Lance sat down.
Haden looked up toward Maurice and shook his head.
"He only does that occasionally to impress everyone," Lance answered for him.
Maurice nodded, "Good, because about the only thing I can remember from lunch was that the computers here had sixteen gigabytes and not sixteen megabytes."
Haden smiled a little as he started to cut up his spaghetti, which also seemed to help lower the tension a bit.
"Aren't you eating, Rick?" Lance asked as he saw Rick getting ready to walk out of the room.
"Nah," Rick answered, "Debbie has made chicken wings for the adults over in the other building."
"Okay, so we will be sure to stay away from you guys tonight," Brent smiled. "When are we going to get to see this secret project of yours anyway? Daileass won't tell us a thing about it, and won't even let us near the floor you all are on."
Rick looked up toward one of the cameras with surprise, "You've been doing that for us?"
"Of course, Rick," Daileass answered, "Why wouldn't I? I've told you guys several times that I think the kids will really enjoy your surprise."
Rick thought for a moment, and then nodded, "It should be ready pretty soon. Probably in about two hours." With that, he headed out of the room.
"Adults," Lance shrugged and went back to eating.
"So Haden," Maurice asked, "What exactly did your old man do to you?"
"Drop it, Maurice." Brent replied as everyone else in the room became quiet.
"What?" Maurice seemed confused. "I was just asking a question."
"And I said drop it," Brent answered with a bit more force. "That's something we don't ask him."
"Okay," Maurice replied slowly. "I didn't realize it was such a touchy subject."
Brent nodded, "From the day we met Haden and his brother, we promised him that we would not force him to tell us anything about it until he was ready. So please, honor that as well."
"It's s'kay," Haden said softly.
Brent walked over to Haden's side, "It's okay bro, Maurice didn't know what we promised you. You don't have to say anything until you're ready to tell us."
Haden nodded as a tear filled his eye, "It's s'kay."
Brent tried to look closer at Haden to figure out what he meant, but Haden was looking toward Maurice, "He hurt... hit... hard."
Maurice along with everyone else in the room sat silently as they listened to Haden and what he was trying to say.
"I'm not like others, other kids." Haden said as he tried blinking a few times to clear his eyes, "So he hit hard.. harder... a lot."
Brent started to reach out to wrap Haden in a hug, but both Lance and Evan shook their heads to prevent Brent from doing it, as each of them knew Haden enough to know that this was one of those times that trying to touch him would have done more harm than good.
Haden sniffled and raised his voice a little, "A lot of nights he would beat me... because I was different, he said... he said to help me, to help Haden...to help Haden not be different, but he LIED."
"I'm so sorry, Haden." Brent whispered, not knowing what else he could do to comfort the boy who was pouring his heart out in front of him.
Haden began to rock back and forth slightly in his chair as his voice got even louder, "He made... made me like it... but I didn't want to... it hurt a lot, so much a lot... it didn't help me, it hurt me more."
"He'll never hurt you again, Haden. We've all promised you that," Lance said softly.
"Don't you see?" Haden nearly screamed as he glared at Lance, "I didn't want to like it,"
"Haden, calm down bro," Evan said softly from the other side of him.
Haden shook his head and started rocking gently again and then spoke in a much softer tone, "I didn't want to like it."
Brent looked toward Lance and Evan with pleading eyes, but they both still shook their heads, their eyes hurting as much as Brent's.
After a few seconds, Haden's eyes went distant, and he slowly nodded his head up and down as he rocked back and forth, whispering "I know."
"My old man was a lot like yours, Haden," Maurice said in a broken voice, "Only two people in my gang know, but that's why I ended up on the streets."
Everyone glanced over to Maurice to see his own eyes were teared up.
"When I was a little younger than you are, he would go out drinking after he got home from work," Maurice continued, "Then after the drinking came the beating. He would beat me hard, saying I was too much of a sissy. Then after the beating, he would rape me. I don't know if you really know what that means yet."
Haden, who had stopped rocking and was listening with everyone else nodded.
Maurice took a moment to collect his thoughts before continuing, "I didn't have a big brother to protect me though. I didn't have anyone other than myself. So when I was eight, I ran away from him, so he could never hurt me again. That's when I started living on the streets. And that's why, I've always tried to protect any other street kid from being raped like I was, because I knew how it felt. That's why I created my gang, to watch out for the others."
"What... what happened.... to him?" Haden asked in a whisper.
"I never wanted to see him again, I didn't care about him. But then, two years ago, when I was 13, I heard he was going to be getting married again, so I went back to the house, I could hear the cries of another kid. He was in my old room, my old man was beating the crap out of another kid and the wedding was still a week away,"
Maurice took a moment to wipe his eyes, before he continued, "I don't know where his woman was, probably out working or something, I don't know. I just knew he was beating him because I wasn't there. So I went in the house, grabbed one of the huge frying pans in the kitchen, went to my old room, while he was trying to shove himself into the kid, who couldn't have been more than seven or eight. The poor kid, I think he had already passed out, and he was still having his way with him. I held the pan over my head, and swung it toward the bastard as hard as I could, just as he turned to look at me. And well, he'll never be hurting anyone again."
"You... killed him?" Haden asked.
"I'm sorry man," Brent said as he walked over and wrapped Maurice in a hug.
"It had to be done," Maurice said as he returned the hug. "That's what I keep telling myself at least."
Brent nodded, "It did."
After a few others had given Maurice hugs as well, Lance looked back toward Haden, as he realized he almost forgot about him when he got caught up in trying to comfort Maurice.
Haden, for his part, was already back to eating his spaghetti.
Although there was a little small talk, the rest of dinner was rather uneventful, especially after what both Haden and Maurice had said. Everyone had learned things that none of them were expecting to have learned.
About ten minutes later, as everyone was finishing up, and the plates were being taken over to the dishwasher, Haden got up and walked over to where Brent was sitting. Instead of saying or doing anything, he just stood there, staring at him.
When Brent first saw him out of the corner of his eye, he had to do a double take, "Haden?"
"Sir?" Haden said softly yet seriously, which caused Brent to have to turn toward him, "Permission to lead a mission."
Once again, the entire room became silent, especially from the core kids that knew the significance of those words. Over the last few weeks, those words had been said several times, any time one of their group felt that something needed to be done, and that they needed to do it. But never once, had Haden ever come close to saying those words. In fact, as far as everyone was concerned, even though Haden had created the primary offensive / defensive tool that most of them used, he was also the last person they would ever expect to have any desire to go out on a mission with one.
"Haden, you don't have to do this," Brent tried to say as comforting as he could.
"Director, sir?" Haden took a moment to swallow, and then with a bit more force, repeated, "Permission to lead a mission."
Brent glanced around the room to see that everyone else was as stunned as he was. "Haden, I can't," He started to say as he shook his head.
"Brent, sorry to interrupt you," Daileass came over the main speakers, "But you have an emergency call that you need to take in the other room."
Brent sighed, "Okay, I'll be right there, Daileass."
"Sorry Brent, but this is something you need to take right now. Please." Hearing the pleading in Daileass's voice, Brent nodded.
"I'll be right back," Brent said as he stood up and walked out of the room.
Brent hurriedly walked out of the cafeteria and across the hall to the nearest office and then closed the door. "Okay Daileass, who is this emergency call from?"
"Me," Daileass replied.
Brent blinked, "You?"
"This mission that Haden wants to lead?" Daileass stated in a tone that Brent almost never heard the A.I. use, "You have to let him do it."
"Why?" Brent asked as his head tried to make sense of everything that was happening with both Haden and now Daileass.
"Because, it's important," Daileass replied simply.
"That's not much to go on Daileass," Brent sighed as he started to pace around the room, "Even if I wanted to, I can't. I made a promise to Cory and to Kyle over a month ago that I wouldn't. Because, believe me, the night we found Haden and Evan, we wanted to go kick some ass right then."
There was silence for several seconds before Daileass replied, "Do you remember the reason that Kyle gave you for needing to make that promise?"
Brent thought for a moment, "Yeah, he said we couldn't take him out, because one day it would be important to Haden that we didn't."
"Exactly," Daileass replied, "Think about what you just said, and what just happened during dinner."
Brent was about to say something, then stopped as he stared at the terminal.
"Me and my brothers have been swimming around in Haden's head all day today. Do you know what we found?" Daileass asked.
Brent shook his head.
Daileass continued, "There is one thing, and one thing alone that is the single biggest factor that is holding Haden back from being able to make any progress. There is one element that still has such a huge degree of control over every element of his life, that there is nothing that you guys, or that me and my brothers can do to help Haden move forward until it's resolved."
"His dad," Brent whispered.
"Brent," Daileass's tone returned back to his normal tone, "Kyle might not have given you guys the details because he knew this was something that had to happen only when Haden was ready for it to happen. If you guys took out his dad then, he would have been stuck where he's at for the rest of his life. Think about Kyle's reason to make you guys promise to not do anything, because one day it would be important to Haden. That day is today."
Brent slowly nodded.
"Me and my brothers made a promise to Haden when we asked him to be a part of us. We promised that he would never be alone." Daileass's voice became very serious, "I make that same promise to you now, Brent. No matter what it might look like, Haden will NEVER be alone."
Brent sighed and nodded, "I think I get it." Brent started to walk out of the office, and then stopped. "Thanks for explaining it to me."
"No problem, bro," Daileass replied, "In the Clan and UNIT, we are all brothers."
Brent nodded and walked out of the office and back to the cafeteria where everyone that was originally there, was still hanging around, only now Haden had moved to Evan's lap while they were waiting for Brent to return.
"Haden?" Brent said seriously as he stood in front of the small boy sitting on his brothers lap. "If you still want to lead the mission, the mission is yours to lead."
Haden looked deep into Brent's eyes to see if the older boy was lying to him. When the only thing he could find was concern and compassion, he nodded. "Thanks."
Brent still wasn't sure if he should be thanked for letting Haden put himself in danger like this, but before he or anyone else in the room could say anything, Haden jumped off his brother's lap and was swiftly heading out of the room.
A quick glance shared between everyone there caused each of them to come to the same conclusion. They needed to follow him, and with that, the room was empty.
"What's going on?" Hania asked as he met up with Haden, Brent, Lance, and Maurice when they exited the elevator on the second floor.
"Haden," Brent said as they continued to walk. "He's leading a mission."
"Oh crap," Hania replied as he instantly understood the significance of what was said. "What about the concert? We will need to leave shortly."
Brent stopped and thought for a few moments. "I'm going to need you and Lee to go ahead and gather up anyone that wants to go. I also need to give you the mission of making sure none of the adults catch on to where we've gone until we're back."
"What do I tell them if they ask? You know I don't like having to lie to them Brent," Hania stated.
"Humm," Brent thought, "Tell them we took Maurice somewhere to take care of a few loose ends."
"But won't that make them think... oh." Hania smiled.
Brent nodded, "We are bringing Maurice with us, and we are taking care of a few loose ends, just probably not in the way they might assume."
"Got it." Hania smiled as he turned around and went back the way he came.
By the time Brent caught back up with the others, Haden had already reached the old security room, and was looking around for something in one of the file cabinets. Finding what he was looking for, he carefully detached the right most module on his GEAR, and replaced it with a red module he had just taken out from the file cabinet."
"Red?" Maurice asked puzzled, "Does that mean anything? Every module I've ever see has been black."
Lance shrugged his shoulders, "I've never seen a different colored module either, Haden?"
"Experimental." Haden answered as he started reconfiguring GEAR's with different modules and handing them out.
"Bro?" Brent said with surprise as he read the small display on the base of his GEAR that displayed the module names, "EMP, Signal Generator, and Mist modules? Why a mist and what's it filled with?"
"Water." Haden answered as he handed a re-configured GEAR to Lance.
Within minutes, Haden had re-configured and assigned everyone their GEAR. Unlike normal missions in the past which were usually either basic Offensive or basic Defensive configured GEAR's, Haden seemed to have some elaborate plan in mind, and had re-arranged everyone's normal modules with a custom assortment, which in most cases, gave everyone a combination of a defensive and offensive configuration.
In all, seven others would be going along with Haden. Brent, Lance, and Evan were givens. Maurice and Andrew from the street kids, Eric who was the first clone that Haden had met, and Jude, who was the first triplet that Brent and Lance met. All of them were now in the security / C.I.C. room ready for Haden to start the mission briefing.
Haden stood up next to one of the terminal's and a picture of an average looking house appeared, "This is our old house," Haden started, "Our target lives there. After tonight he won't come out again. Any questions?"
"Okay, I think that qualifies as the shortest briefing in history," Lance commented as everyone looked around at each other.
"Um, so what's the plan when we get there, boss man?" Maurice asked.
Haden held up his GEAR arm as if that was the answer, "I kill HIM."
"Haden?" Brent asked seriously, "What is your red module? Is it something we need to be worried about?"
Haden looked at his own GEAR before looking toward Brent, "Plasma Pulse."
Eyes went wide from several of the kids that knew what Haden was talking about. "So you solved the power issue then?" Evan asked.
Haden shook his head, "Built in extended power in the module itself. Red means single shot, single use. Will probably burn out the GEAR as well."
"What about all the changes and swapping you did to our GEAR modules?" Maurice asked.
Haden shrugged, "Donno, I'm leading the mission."
Almost everyone in the room was somewhat confused by his answer, since usually the person leading the mission should be the one to know the reason behind what was happening. Everyone that is, except Lance.
"Haden, I think I can explain to them better," Lance stated. "Guys. In most missions, we have Haden back at the house or base or where ever. He's always the one that comes up with cool solutions to any issue we come up against. But tonight, he's leading the mission, with one goal in mind, him taking out the bastard that has caused him so much pain. He's saying that he's not sure if he will be able to think clearly enough to solve things for us, so he's given us a little of everything, so that we can solve problems on our own if we have to. Is that about right, Haden?"
Haden nervously nodded.
"How close will you be able to teleport us in at, Daileass?" Brent asked.
"The closest street corner. So, about five houses away," Daileass replied.
"Haden," Lance looked at Haden seriously, "You know you don't have to do this, right?"
Haden shook his head, "I have to, you guys don't have to come if you don't want to, but I have to."
"That's not what we meant," Brent added. "All of us will always stand next to you bro."
Haden nodded, "Okay, then let's do this."
Everyone got up and stood together.
"It's your call, bro." Lance instructed.
Haden nodded, "Daileass, teleport for eight please."
"You got it, Haden," Daileass replied, "Teleporting in three..."
Before anyone realized it happened, they were all standing on a street corner in a slightly run-down neighborhood. With the sun already starting to lower below the mountains that surrounded the entire Las Vegas valley, the sky was starting to turn to the orange-red that it often did in the fall months at dusk.
The first thing that both Evan and Haden recognized was their father's old Chevy pickup truck parked on the street in front of their house, about five houses away. "Well, I guess at least we know that we are in the right place," Evan commented.
Haden nodded, and began to walk down the sidewalk toward the truck, and what would also be their old house.
Maurice glanced around as they walked. "I think I've been in this part of town before. Not the best of places. This is the South-East?"
"Yeah," Evan answered.
After they passed the first house, Haden's pace began to slow, as memories and feelings from the past began to flow back into him. Suddenly, everything he had thought he had left behind when he and his brother got away from this place, and ran into the Clan over a month ago, was now returning.
If he concentrated for a moment, he could hear the wordless whispers of his closest brothers somewhere in the back of his head, so he knew Daileass and the others were still there. But, as the flood of feelings seemed to increase with each step forward, even that was losing it's comfort.
'I don't know if I can do this.' Haden called out in his head, to no one in-particular.
'Sure you can, bro.' Tyce sent back followed by a really strong hug that felt so real, as if Tyce was standing right behind him.
'Haden, all of us are supporting you and standing by you. I know this is something you can do if you really want to.' Daileass sent followed by a hug.
One by one, all the clones in the link sent reassuring words and hugs of support. Between the love of his link brothers, and the love of the brothers that were around him, Haden smiled, and picked the pace back up as they passed the second house.
As the group began to pass the third house, they could start to see the grey siding of the fifth house, which would be their destination. Already, a sharp contrast could be seen between the yard of their old house, and the yards of the houses around it. It was pretty clear that no work had been done to it at all since Evan and Haden had left.
While continuing, Jude's GEAR made a short beeping sound, which caused him to check the small LED display on it. "Hmm," he said after looking at it for a few seconds, "Haden, what's an EM Scan?"
Haden glanced toward Jude, "It's an Electro-Magnetic Scan, which basically means that it is scanning for various types of electric or magnetic fields. Why?"
Jude looked closer at his GEAR, "So is it a bad thing when the EM Scan module reports a non-localized high energy spike, but when you press refresh, nothing is reported."
Haden shrugged, "A lot of the wiring in the houses around here is old and bad. It might have picked up an artifact or something. I think I still have the sensitivity on those up too high from when we were using it out on the edge of town."
"So It can be ignored?" Jude asked.
Haden nodded, "Yeah, I think so. Unless it pings again. Non-Localized means either all around you, which in this case doesn't make sense, or something so fast and so small that there was not enough time for the second sensor trip to occur to even start getting a direction."
Once they passed the third house, the entire group slowed down. With only one house separating them from Haden's and Evan's old house, they wanted to make sure that 'HE' wouldn't spot them as they approached via the sidewalk.
Evan, who had the Infrared Thermal module, did a quick check with it. "According to the IR Module, it looks like two people are in the Fischer's house," Evan stated as he motioned toward the fourth house, "and one about thirty yards past."
Haden, as well as the other guys that had been out on a mission before, knew that this meant there was most likely, at least, one person at Haden's house, and that he was far enough away from the side that they would be approaching on, that he would not be next to a window looking out of it.
"You really need to get little video screens on these things, or something." Maurice commented as he wasn't sure how much he liked the text only displays.
"On my list." Haden answered is the group made their way forward again, passing the third house.
As the group continued making their way past the fourth house, Evan, Andrew, and Lance, all who had the high power laser modules, each had their GEAR arms at the ready as to be able to sight and fire on anything in a moments notice, as Haden and Evan's old house came into full view.
Within moments, the group was at the front door, and Eric already had his enhanced push module setup in his favorite mode, lock opening.
"It's an older lock, so try setting fifty-two or fifty-three," Haden offered.
Eric typed in the setting, and aimed the front of his GEAR toward the lock while activating it. As the lock clicked back, a small spark of electricity was seen coming out from the center.
Everyone took a step back, knowing that should not have happened.
Haden quietly pointed toward Brent's mist module and then toward the door handle. Taking the hint, Brent tried to line his mist shot up as best as he could, and then shot out what ended up being more of a stream than a mist. The desired effect was still achieved, however, as a loud popping sound could be heard from behind the door, as a flash of light came out from the windows at the top of the door.
"Well, if he didn't know we were here yet, he does now," Evan sighed.
As the door to the house was slowly opened, a piece of the now burnt wire that attached the battery to the door fell off, along with a small paperclip that was attached to it. "He's used that trick one too many times," Evan whispered as the group entered the foyer, and he ran another IR Thermal check.
As soon as Evan motioned toward the back of the house, Haden knew exactly which room they would be going to, which room 'HE' would be waiting for them in. With his fingers on his GEAR, he carefully led the group into the hall, toward the back of the house.
The house itself was mostly dark, other than the small amount of light that came through the windows. A smell of beer was predominate through most of the rooms they walked through, as was the amount of trash and fast food wrappers littering the floor.
From the hall, they entered into the kitchen, which was perhaps the cleanest, and least used part of the house. A shotgun rested on the wall next to the back door. There was also a stool next to the door which had another car battery wired up to the door handle, in the exact same way as the one in the front had been set up.
Haden ignored all of this and instead, turned to walk down a shorter hallway that he knew would lead to a bathroom and two bedrooms. Although he could see all three doors were open, he already knew which door would lead to the room he would be entering.
With his finger on his GEAR's activate button, he made his way to just outside of the door to his old room. Taking the two more steps needed to actually walk into the room, his finger slipped from his GEAR after pressing the button as soon as he saw the dark figure of his father sitting in a rocking chair on the far side of the room.
"I've been waiting for you, boy." The man said in a scruff voice as he held a pistol in his hand, already aimed at the door entrance. Aimed directly at Haden. "I knew you would be back. The world doesn't want a broken cripple like you."
Haden shook his head as he took another step forward. "I've grown," he whispered.
"Bullshit." The man said as he completely ignored the other kids that were starting to stand in the doorway behind Haden. "You ain't done shit, boy."
"You hurt me." Haden whispered as his arm began to tremble. "Never again."
"I ain't hurt ya, boy. I done helped ya the way you needed it." the man grumbled, "Just as I'm gonna to help ya now. By giving ya want ya want."
"No." Haden said a little louder, as he raised his GEAR arm up to aim toward the man, and do what he knew he had to do.
"Assume the position, boy!" The man said, in a somewhat more demanding tone.
At that moment, something snapped inside of Haden. What exactly it was, no one knew for sure. Those that were standing behind and watching Haden saw his entire body jerk slightly. Those who were mentally linked with him, felt a slight but noticeable shift in his presence.
"Ya know you want it, boy." The man said as he continued to aim the gun toward the door.
"Shut up." Haden said in a pitch that was slightly higher than normal. Already, Haden could start to feel the tingling, sickening feeling in his stomach. He could already feel his arm getting heavy as it was starting to get harder to hold his GEAR arm up. Already, he could feel the desire deep inside of him to walk toward, and lay down, on his bed.
'Something's wrong. Something's very wrong.' Evan heard Daileass's voice in his head, 'Evan, be ready to catch your brother, I don't know what will happen when we do this.'
Evan tensed up. For some reason, having Daileass telling him that something was wrong scared the crap out of him. But all the same, he prepared himself to catch Haden if he had to, just as Daileass had mentioned.
"I won't!" Haden said in a combination of shouting and crying as he took another step closer toward the bed, and started to lower his GEAR hand, which as a result of the struggle started to bob up and down a few times.
Evan and the others could see Haden's body starting to rock back and forth as if struggling with some unseen force. Not really sure what to make of what they were seeing, they each prepared as best as they could for anything.
'I can't, I can't.' Haden started shouting in his head, as his vision blurred and he felt himself trying to be pulled from the world around him, but he wasn't completely pulled. It was as if part of him was stuck, and he could feel his entire body being stretched like a rubber band. The stretching got worse, and his entire head filled with pain, so much so that it felt like his entire body was about to split into two.
Just as Haden felt he couldn't stand the stretching any longer, something nudged him, such that whatever was stuck had now become unstuck, and the stretching was going away. Moments later, Haden found himself back in the mental-scape, with all his new brothers close by.
As soon as he saw where he was, all he wanted to do was let himself fall down to the floor and cry, but he found that he couldn't move.
Daileass was the first to move toward him, as he intended to scope his newest brother in a warm loving hug. But as soon as he got to within six inches of Haden, Daileass found that he couldn't move any closer to him. "Uh, guys?" Daileass asked looking back toward his brothers, with worry in his eyes.
Logan took a few steps toward them. "Hmm, now this is different," he calmly said to himself loud enough for everyone else to hear.
"You sure this isn't something similar to that personality brainwashing crap General Adams had tried using on all of us?" Gabe asked.
Logan shook his head as he looked toward Haden, who stood there with tears filling his eyes. "This is definitely nothing like that. In a way, it seems like Haden is fighting himself, but that still doesn't completely fit."
Logan thought to himself for a few moments. At the same time, there was a slight shift in the air. "Haden?" He called.
Haden, for his part, tried to talk but couldn't. It was almost as if he was stuck on a giant piece of fly paper. Instead, he simply looked toward Logan.
Logan walked over and reached out for Haden. When his hand got within six inches of him, it seemed to shimmer for a few moments, as if reality itself was somehow distorted around Haden. Even with that, Logan still had no problems reaching and touching Haden's back. "Come on bro," Logan said softly, as he gently nudged Haden forward. "You can walk, you're safe now. Nothing can ever hurt you in this place."
Haden felt himself moving forward. As he did, he also felt his legs giving out from under him, and found himself crumpling to the ground, only to be quickly scooped up in warm, loving, caring arms. The arms of Daileass. As soon as Haden's head hit Daileass's chest, the flood gates opened, and Haden began to cry out all the pain and hurt that had built up inside of him.
"Shhhh," Daileass whispered, "I have you. I love you Haden. You're safe."
Within moments of Daileass scooping up Haden into his arms, all the other Logan clones had surrounded both boys to show their concern and offer their love and support. All of them, that is, accept for one.
Seeing Logan still standing next to where Haden originally appeared, and moving his hand in and out of the space that caused his hand to shimmer, Alvin walked over to him. "Any ideas about what it is, bro?" the eight year old asked with a very serious look on his face.
Logan shook his head. "Ideas? Yes. Answers? No. I fear the only person who will be able to shed any light on this is Haden, and he's still nowhere close to being able to tell us."
"Will he break?" Alvin asked seriously.
"To be honest, bro. I don't know. He's not like us. His mind isn't as strong as ours. This is all new territory." Logan answered while seeming to be lost in thought at the same time.
"You know if he does break, it will break Daileass too?" Alvin said sadly.
"I know." Logan answered with an equally sad tone. "Let's go see how our newest bro is doing."
With that, Logan and Alvin joined the rest of their brothers who were still standing around a now sniffling Haden.
"I can't do it Dal, I just can't," Haden whimpered, "I thought I was strong enough, I really did, but I'm too weak, I'm too broken."
Daileass held Haden tight with both arms as he gently rocked him back and forth. "You're not broken, bro. Only someone really special would be able to share this link with us."
"We all believe in you, Haden," Todd added, "So you should too."
Zed raced around the group so he could be closer to where Haden was looking toward. "Don't listen to that jerk, Haden," he said, "You're better than he'll ever be."
"What's happening to me?" Haden started to cry more.
"I'm not sure, bro, I'm not sure." Daileass said as he continued to rock and comfort Haden.
"I don't want to do what I want to do, but I can't stop it." Haden cried more.
"Haden?" Logan gently asked from the other side of Haden, which caused the boy to have to shift himself around in Daileass's arms to be able to see him. "You're a lot stronger than you think you are, I've seen it."
Haden started to shake his head no, but Logan placed his hand on Haden's chin to stop him.
"Yes, you are, bro." Logan said as he started nodding his head up and down. "It's your choice, whatever you do, and no one else's. Always remember that."
Haden nodded once before his head fell back on Daileass's shoulder, where he remained for several more minutes, as he calmed down and soaked in all the love and caring from everyone around him.
When the sniffles and tears were gone, and Haden was starting to feel more relaxed, he looked up into Daileass's eyes, "Bro? Why does everyone keep saying that I'm strong?"
Daileass smiled and kissed Haden on his forehead, "Because you are."
"I don't feel it," Haden sighed as he rested his head on his older brother's chest again.
"That's easy," Richard offered, "You've gone your whole life with people telling you that you were weak. You heard it so much that you not only accepted it, but it became a part of you."
Haden seemed a little worried, "I did? How do I get rid of it?"
"There is only one way you can do that, Haden." Logan answered.
"How?" Haden asked as he sat up to look toward where Logan was standing.
"Some time, a long time ago, you made the choice to accept that you were weak. I don't know when it was, maybe it was one of the times your dad was hurting you, but you still made that choice," Logan said seriously but softly. "So, the only way that can change, is you have to make the choice that you are strong."
Haden Blinked, "How?"
"By wanting to be strong, more than you want to be weak." Daileass answered as he kissed Haden on the forehead.
Haden nodded and looked up toward Daileass. "You think I can really do it?"
"It doesn't matter what he thinks, or any of the rest of us think," Logan interrupted. "It matters what you think, and what you believe here," he said as he pointed toward Haden's chest.
Haden closed his eyes for a few moments before opening them and nodding. Wiggling out of Daileass's arms, he leaped to the ground. "I'm going to make the choice to be strong," he said with conviction. "I'm going to end this."
"We're all right behind you bro." Daileass stated and everyone else agreed.
After grabbing hugs from everyone, Haden stood to the side and stood up as tall as he could. "I'm going to be strong, and end this."
After getting more reassuring nods from everyone, Haden looked up toward the really high ceiling, and then back toward all his brothers. "Um, how do I leave this place?"
Logan smiled, "Just like this..."
As soon as Logan said that, the world around Haden began to slip away as he could feel himself being pushed back out of the mental-scape, back into his body and the rest of the real world.
'Aim and Fire.' Haden thought to himself. Aim and Fire, that's all he had to do to end this. Then, his nightmare would be over, and he could go home with all his brothers. This was Haden's plan as he left the mental-scape. However, before he's eyes had a chance to completely re-focus themselves, he could already feel his energy and resolve slipping away from him.
Haden took a step back as he tried to raise his GEAR arm back up.
"I didn't give ya permission to leave, boy." The man said as he cocked his pistol, "Now get into position."
Tears filled Haden's eyes as he felt himself taking a step forward again. At the same time, he heard the short high pitch beep from his GEAR, indicating the shield he had activated as soon as he entered the room was at half charge, which gave him fifteen seconds of power left. If he was going to do something, it had to be now. In a few seconds it wouldn't matter anymore.
'You can make the choice, Haden.' Haden heard Daileass say in his head, 'We all believe in you.'
Haden felt his GEAR arm go completely limp, and his body taking another step forward. As he did this, he created enough space for the rest of the guys to make it into the room, and those that had any offensive module, to aim their GEAR's toward the man.
"Faster, boy." The man snarled.
Haden closed his eyes as he felt himself taking another step forward. He was out of time. Now was his choice; did he choose to be weak, or did he choose to be strong?
Haden opened his eyes and looked straight into the man's eyes, and spoke in as strong of a voice as he could muster, "I... choose... to be... STRONG." With that, Haden willed his GEAR arm to raise so it was pointing toward the man, and then jerked his hand back twice, triggering the module he had setup for auto-activate.
Within moments, a high-pitch 'hum' could be heard as a bright white ball of sparkling super-heated plasma energy shot out from Haden's GEAR device, and landed squarely into the man's chest, melting the kevlar vest that he was wearing half way into his stomach.
At the same moment, a shot rang out from the man's gun which also caused a bright flash in Haden's shield as the bullet absorbed the last remaining threads of energy that were still being projected from Haden's GEAR, which was quickly starting to melt.
Almost immediately after that, three more high intensity laser beams and an arc of blue energy all hit what was left of Haden and Evan's former father. By the time he hit the ground, only a smoldering mass of flesh and bone dust remained.
"I win." Haden mumbled as he collapsed to the ground.
Lance immediately rushed over to Haden to make sure he wasn't hurt, and to take off the burnt out and half melted GEAR from his arm.
Evan took one last look of what was left of the thing that caused his little brother so much pain, before he turned and walked out of the room.
"You okay, Haden?" Lance asked as he lifted the small, weeping boy of the ground.
Haden nodded, as Lance was able to tell that Haden's tears were not those of hurt, but the good kind of tears. After holding him for a few moments, they started to make their way out of the house. As soon as Lance had taken them a few steps out the front door, he stopped.
Haden could feel the evening air hitting him, and he could smell the freshness around him as they left the stuffy, beer stench house. What he couldn't figure out, was why Lance had stopped right outside the door, and why they didn't continue walking. He didn't understand this, until he heard someone in front of him start clapping, and then someone else join him, and soon many people clapping.
Lance slowly let Haden down so he could stand on his own, just as he turned around to see the front yard filled with people looking back toward him. Not only were most of Logan's clones, his link brothers, there, but Logan himself was there, as were at least twenty other kids all dressed in full military gear.
"What?" Haden said in confusion as he took a step forward to look at everyone who was there.
"We told you, you were strong," Gabe called out with a smile.
"And," Daileass's voice rang out from Haden's comm badge, "We promised you that you would never be alone."
"You're all here... for me?" Haden asked in astonishment.
"That's right bro," Tyce answered, "Just like we promised we would."
"But," Haden was still rather confused, "There are a lot of you I have never seen before."
Logan glanced back to the twenty kids standing behind the Logan clones, "Oh yeah. They're with me. I figured I would bring two strike teams along just for good measure. It get's a bit stuffy in the base sometimes."
Hearing a sound behind him, Haden turned to see three more kids walking out of the house, also in full military gear, "Chipmunks!" Haden squealed with surprise.
"Nice job back there," Simon said as he walked past them to join the rest of his brothers.
"Yeah, that was awesome," Theodore added as he walked by.
"We knew you could do it," Alvin smiled as he passed by.
Haden stood there in shock. Never before had he ever had so many people caring for him. Never before did he have so many people showing their love for him, as so many of those that were there did. As they all started to gather around him, each giving their hugs, instead of being afraid and wanting to run from them, Haden enjoyed every moment of it. If there was only one thing Haden knew for sure, it's that he was not scared, and there was no bad feeling in his stomach that made him want to run.
As everyone was giving Haden hugs, Brent and Lance had wandered over toward Logan.
"You guys were here the whole time?" Lance asked.
Logan nodded, "Pretty much."
"I don't know how to thank you guys." Brent stated.
"Hey, the scumbag died last month, he just didn't realize it until tonight." Logan grinned, causing the other two to smile. "Anyway, we have a concert that's about to start back at the UNIT base, you guys can all come with us if you want."
Brent and Logan looked at each other as Logan shook his head. "Thanks, but I'm not really sure how much more Haden is going to be able to take after all that."
Logan nodded, "I figured you would say that, but I had to ask. In that case, there are a couple of guys hanging out at the UNIT med bay, thinking they are going to be pretty bored during the concert. So maybe you guys could stop by there and have them give Haden a quick look over, just to make sure everything is okay."
Brent nodded, "Yeah, I think we'll do that."
"Good," Logan replied. "Oh, one more thing," his voice became more serious, "From what we have seen from you guys yesterday and tonight, I think it's pretty clear that all of you are going to be doing more than just baby-sitting a bunch of un-born clones for the next six months. So, sometime later tonight, after the concert, I think Adam and I really need to have a long sit-down talk with you two, and perhaps Maurice, if you're still planning on making him a part of your division leadership."
"Okay," Brent agreed. "But talk about what?"
"You'll see tonight," Logan grinned evilly before turning toward the main group of kids and raising his voice, "Okay guys, we have about ten minutes before the concert starts. Anyone planning on attending should probably head back now."
With a final set of hugs and goodbyes, people started leaving one by one.
When everyone was gone, Lance picked Haden back up, "You mind if, before we go back home, that we run by the UNIT hospital so they can make sure all of us are fine?"
Haden nodded, "Okay, my head still hurts a little."
Lance gave Haden another hug, as did Evan and the others, "Daileass, take us to the UNIT med bay if you would."
Seconds later, the yard that was full of people only a few minutes ago, was once again empty.
Besides the street kids that were used to the crowds, to say that many of the kids that had come along to the bear selecting, turned concert event, were not prepared for what they were thrown in the middle of, would be an understatement. Moments after being teleported by Daileass from the complex to the UNIT Base, the entire group found themselves in a room full of other kids, all seemed to be moving in somewhat the same direction, toward a bunch of large doors.
"What's happening, Lee?" Rene asked while he quickly moved himself close enough to Lee to latch on to his leg, as the rest of the younger kids found an older kid to hide behind, and everyone other than the street kids moved in closer together.
"Good one, Daileass!" Carlos glanced toward Gaiden and Micha, causing all three street kids to giggle as they watched the reaction of the clones, "That's certainly one way to get them introduced to crowds."
Daileass's voice came out from several of their comm badges, "Well, Rick did say to bring you guys near the entrance to the concert."
Rick sighed as he was trying to comfort as many of the younger guys as he could reach, "I didn't mean to give everyone a heart attack!"
"Don't worry, I'm sure Draco will deal with him later." Tyce said as he started walking toward the group.
"Tyce!" Rene called out as he left Lee's side and lept into the arms of his newest friend, "These comm badges that you guys gave us are awesome! I really can talk to Daileass anytime I want and he's really cool too, and he can talk to a bunch of us at the same time, and he's really funny, and now we are going to get really cool bears and go to a concert!"
"Whoa, slow down there big guy", Tyce grinned as he hugged the smaller boy, while a few of the other kids giggled a bit at Rene's antics, "Sorry about that guys, I didn't know Daileass would port you guys right in the middle of everyone, but as you can see, we are all making our way into the auditorium to get seats for the concert."
As most of the kids seemed to become less scared and more curious, Rick walked over to greet Tyce, "Hi Tyce, It's okay. I'm sure Daileass was just getting back at these guys for keeping him up all night. I'm just glad he convinced Haden to stay behind."
Tyce couldn't stop himself from grinning a little, "Yeah, good thing."
"Actually Rick, I don't need to sleep, and it really was no issue at all. Even when most of the kids were talking to me at the same time, it was using less than 0.001% of my resources." Daileass's voice only came out of Rick's comm badge this time.
"Computers, I'll never understand them", Rick shook his head, as he was convinced that Daileass had to be programmed to drive him insane, "Anyway, there are about thirty of us, is there anywhere specific we should go?"
"Adults, I'll never understand them," Matt, the only one of the triple-t's to come along, shook his head mocking Rick and earning him a few additional giggles in the process.
Tyce glanced at the group and then toward the main doors to the auditorium, "Actually, another of my friends is keeping a row reserved for you guys, so that shouldn't be a problem. Just follow me, and ...".
Tyce stopped in mid sentence as a small helicopter hovered down in front of him, causing him to grin. "Better yet, just follow the helicopter."
"Ooo!" was the sound that came out from several of the smaller kids as they looked up at the hovering object.
A few minutes later, after they stopped briefly to gawk at the size of the auditorium, and the number of kids that were already in there, everyone had managed to find seats. Rene made sure that everyone knew that he got to sit next to Tyce, who was also sitting next to Lee at one end of the row, while Daniel and Hania guarded the other end of the row. Rick ended up somewhere in the middle.
Over the next twenty minutes, Lee occasionally stole glances to make sure everyone was doing okay while Tyce explained to him and Rene more about the UNIT base that they were at, and how they were actually several levels underground. For the most part, all the kids with them were doing fine, as they were either looking around at everyone else, or quietly chatting with Daileass on their comm badges.
As time went on, Lee noticed that a number of the kids were starting to get nervous and worried looks. "Hey Daileass?" Lee asked as he tapped his own comm badge.
"'Sup Lee?", The A.I.'s voice answered.
"I'm guessing you have been chatting with most of my guys, is everything okay?" Lee asked as he watched two of the kids switching seats with each other.
"Everyone, other than Rick, is doing fine," Daileass's voice had a small hint of laughter in it, "I think I've been able to get most of them to understand what a 'concert' is, and what to expect when it starts so they are not too surprised. Right now some of them are helping me count heads to see how many people are here, while some are changing places to get a better views of the stage."
"You're bad Daileass, making these guys work like that." Tyce chimed in.
"Hey, it keeps them occupied, and they seem to enjoy it." Daileass defended.
Lee agreed, "Daileass is right, I'm sure many of them won't mind. It gives them something to do and think about while we are waiting, and I bet some of them will like the fact that they are helping. But Daileass, what's wrong with Rick?"
This time Daileass definitely giggled, "Let's just say that between trying to keep an eye on your guys, and being in a room filled with so many other kids, I think I will need to talk to mama Janet about adding him to the Valium subscription list."
"What's Valium?" Rene asked as Tyce and Lee broke out in laughter after they glanced toward Rick, and saw the look of sheer panic on his face.
With the rest of their group having already teleported home, Brent, Lance, Evan and Haden sat in a rather large and mostly empty medical center deep inside of the UNIT's Utah base. They were sitting on some child-sized chairs that were placed against one of the walls near the entrance. Evan occasionally stole glances at his younger brother as he sat in his own chair, staring off into space. He all but refused to let him or Lance get close to him since they returned.
"I hope Haden will be alright." Evan leaned closer to Lance so that he could whisper to him without anyone else hearing.
Lance nodded in agreement, as he too looked over at Haden sitting with his hands folded in his lap.
"Brent? Brent Knocks?" A nice looking woman in her late 20's called out as she entered the room from a small door on the other side. As the lady walked toward them, her golden brown hair, which fell at least half way down her back, gently swished back and forth against her white lab coat.
Brent stood up to greet the woman, "Doctor Green?"
"Please, call me Linda, or Doctor Linda." The doctor said as she grabbed a small clip-board like device on her way toward the boys. "Sorry for making you guys wait like that. Since things have been so quiet around here for the last few hours, I sent most of my staff off to watch the concert."
"That's probably for the best," Lance stated as he stood up next to Brent. "Having fewer people here will probably make it a bit easier for Haden to deal with."
"Not to mention the fact that he's especially bad in hospitals and doctors." Evan added as he too stood up.
Dr. Linda nodded as she shook Brent's hand and glanced toward the others. "You two must be Lance and Evan."
"Yes ma’am," Evan stated as Lance nodded his head and both boys shook her offered hand.
"And such nice manners as well. Don't worry, I'm sure that if you spend enough time around here the other guys will break you of those habits pretty quick." The doctor grinned as she kneeled down in front of Haden. "And you must be Haden."
As expected, Haden's expression immediately turned to fear as he tried to push himself further back in his chair.
"I think I see what you mean." Linda stated to the other boys as she stood up to back away a few feet.
"It's nothing personal, Doc. It's just he had some really bad experiences with doctors when he was younger." Evan tried to offer.
Linda nodded as she turned and walked across the room. "Oh trust me, I can understand that. A number of the kids that live here have similar fears of doctors. Although, in Haden's case it's just too bad."
"What do you mean?" Lance asked, as he tried to figure out what the doctor was getting at.
"Well," The doctor said as she stood next to a bio-bed which had a portion of it's bottom covering removed, revealing some of the internal electronics. "I've been having some problems with this bio-bed, and things have been so busy around here lately, maintenance hasn't been able to stop by yet to fix it. I heard that Haden was pretty good with electronics, so I was hoping he might be able to look at it. But given how he feels about doctors, I can understand if he doesn't want to."
Brent, Lance and Eric smiled and glanced toward Haden, as each of them knew at once the setup that Doctor Linda was trying to use. Haden, for his part, had a torn expression on his face as it was fairly obvious the battle that was going on in his head at that moment.
"What's wrong with it?" Haden asked in a small voice after nearly 30 seconds of intense debate.
Doctor Linda shrugged and looked down at the bed. "I'm not really sure, it just stopped working. I think I might have seen a spark or something come up from where this panel was at, so I went ahead and took the panel off, but I don't understand anything inside of it."
Haden continued to think to himself for several more moments before he looked up toward Lance. "Am I allowed?"
Lance nodded, "She's the doctor on duty here. If she says it's okay, it's okay. But if you're still not sure, I bet you can ask Daileass, and he can tell you."
Haden nodded, "Daileass and the others said it was okay, too."
"Go work your magic, little bro," Evan stated reassuringly.
With a small degree of hesitation, Haden climbed off his chair and walked over to the bed where the doctor was standing at. As he got closer, he began to slow down, until the doctor took a few more steps back.
Haden spent the next several minutes looking over and observing every inch of the exposed electronics. Shortly after that, he looked down at the ground and picked up in isolinear chip that was partially hidden under the bed. "I think this chip might have fallen out. I don't have a lot of experience with Starfleet tech, but they can often act like embedded processors for holding control functions. If one falls out, it can block the entire system."
The doctor nodded. "That sounds pretty bad, is it hard to fix?"
Haden shook his head. "Nah, I just have to reinsert it into its slot and then..." just as Haden was about to replace the chip, he froze in his tracks. A few moments later, he leaned in a bit closer. "Wait a minute, this doesn't look right either."
"What did you find, Hade?" Evan asked with concern.
"I'm not sure. Hey Daileass? Would it be hard for you to teleport my soldering gun here?" Haden asked.
"Of course not." Daileass replied as a small soldering gun appeared next to Haden. "Do you really think the repairs require soldering though?"
Haden picked up the gun with one hand while still looking at the circuits. "I don't know. Does Starfleet tech normally use metal clamps for current bypassing?"
"I don't believe so, why?" Daileass asked.
Haden carefully pointed the metal tip of the gun at one of the circuit boards. "There are two really small metal rod thingies that look like they are shorting out three of the other iso chips. It doesn't look like any of the other normal Starfleet tech stuff either."
"Um, Haden, I'm not sure if that's a good idea," Daileass replied.
Haden shook his head as he repositioned the pointer slightly, "Nah, it should be fine. If I'm right, this should improve performance a bit as well. There."
Haden set the gun aside and replaced the chip that he found on the ground into it's normal slot before he stood up. "Okay, see if it works now."
Knowing that the only thing Daileass and her setup ahead of time was the pulled out chip, the doctor hesitantly walked over to the front panel of the bio-bed, and initiated the power sequence for it.
After hearing Daileass's concerns and seeing the hesitation of the doctor, Brent, Lance and Evan began to walk a bit closer to the bed as well to see what would happen.
"Whoa." The doctor said with surprise as she looked at the panel.
"What's wrong?" Evan asked. "Did Haden break something?"
Doctor Linda slowly shook her head as she continued to look at the panel. "I don't think so. It's just that I'm seeing a bunch of new options on here that I've never seen before."
"Seriously?" Lance asked in surprise as he looked at the doctor, and then toward Haden as the soldering gun behind him disappeared.
The doctor nodded as she was still lost in thought as she looked over the information that was being presented to her, and began to press a few buttons.
"Did I do good?" Haden asked with a high degree of uncertainty.
Lance nodded, "It looks like it."
Moments later, the doctor's comm badge went off and the harsh voice of an older man came across it. "Doctor McCoy to Doctor Green."
"This is Doctor Green, go ahead Doctor." The lady replied.
"Doctor, what's going on over there? I just got a notice that one of the bio-beds over there has had some of it's internal functions messed with? Bed J-63."
"Um, That's the one I'm at." Linda replied with concern filling her voice.
"Actually, I believe that might be my fault." Daileass's voice stated.
"Is that you, Daileass?" McCoy's voice appeared to raise in anger. "You better start explaining yourself and fast, before I convince that base commander of yours to start recycling your processors one by one."
Daileass paused for a moment before responding. "Well, Doctor Green and I were trying to come up with ways to try to help Haden feel more comfortable in the med bay. Since he likes electronics so much, I suggested that she remove one of the non-essential isolinear chips from the bio-bed, and let Haden 'fix' it."
"Haden?" Doctor McCoy replied, "Now why does that name sound familiar? Is he that electronics whiz-kid from Vegas?"
"That would be him." Daileass answered.
"That still doesn't explain the tampering, replacing one of those chip thingies wouldn't have created the message I'm getting." McCoy replied.
"Well, just as before he replaced the chip, he found the two restrictor bridges that the planet side contractors installed to lock out some of the more sensitive bio-bed features before allowing them to be installed planet-side. Haden used his soldering gun to break the bridges, thus enabling the chips."
"That would do it," McCoy replied. "So let me get this straight. A 9-year old with his toy soldering gun undid what the Federation paid $20,000 per unit to have installed."
"Um, yeah. That sounds about right." Daileass said, with uncertainty clearly in his voice.
"Sorry." Haden said softly.
"What?" McCoy called out from the comm badge. "Is that Haden? Now you listen here Haden. I'm not upset with you at all son. In fact, you just gave me what I've been looking for. I told that over-sized admiral weeks ago that the restrictor bridges wouldn't be effective. I'll tell you what, Daileass. Get me a copy of the video showing that kid circumventing the bridges, and we'll call it even."
"You got it, Doc. The video file should be appearing in your e-mail now." Daileass stated.
"Thanks," McCoy stated. "Oh, and Doctor Green? Since the unit is unlocked, I'm making that your personal unit. I'll be by tomorrow to show you some of the additional features. In the mean time, stick to only using the standard features you know about. Even with them, you should probably get a lot better scan resolution."
"Not a problem, Doctor. I'll look forward to seeing you tomorrow." Linda replied.
"Good. McCoy out." McCoy stated moments before the comm badge went dead.
"Well, that was interesting." Doctor Linda commented as she looked at all four boys.
"He sounded really mad." Haden stated in his soft voice.
"He might sound mean and grumpy, Haden, but he's really very nice, especially with kids. He's one of the very few doctors I would completely trust with my brothers." Daileass reassured.
"Really?" Haden asked, "Okay then."
After waiting a few moments for everyone to catch their breath, Linda looked down toward Haden. "What do you say we try out the enhanced scanning functions of this?"
Knowing what that meant, Haden looked at the bed and then the doctor with concern. "What... What do I have to do?"
"Nothing," the doctor replied. "The only thing you need to do is have your brother help you up onto the bed, and then just lay down on it. You shouldn't feel a thing."
After spending a few moments thinking about it, Haden nodded and let Evan boost him up onto the bed where he carefully laid down on it.
As the doctor began to press buttons, Lance walked closer to try to get a better look at the panel. "Elevated adrenalin levels... lower potassium and iodine saturation levels... yeah, I was kind of expecting that one." Lance mumbled to himself.
"You have medical training?" Linda asked with surprise.
"Huh?" Lance replied not realizing he was talking loud enough to be heard. "Oh, not really. I was just helping out a bunch last week with the bio-beds we have over in Vegas."
"Ah," the doctor nodded.
"Am I okay?" Haden asked nervously from the bed.
Linda pressed a few more buttons and then shut the panel off. "You sure are. It's pretty obvious that you've been through a highly stressful situation. But that's nothing that a good night's rest can't fix. So you're good to go."
Haden looked up toward the doctor in disbelief. "Really? That's it? I'm done?"
"You're done." The doctor smiled as she looked toward Lance and Evan. "I'm guessing that both of you know how to use hypo sprays?"
Both boys nodded as Lance replied, "We got to use those a bunch last week as well."
Doctor Linda nodded, "Good. In that case, I'm authorizing Daileass to provide one of you with a mild pain suppressant if Haden get's a stress headache later. But beyond that, just take it easy for the night."
"Thanks Doctor," Evan stated as he helped Haden down.
"My pleasure, guys. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go check on a few of the other guys here."
All four boys nodded as the doctor left the room, and they in turn asked Daileass to teleport them home.
Most of the kids from the Vegas division were either quietly talking amongst themselves or busy helping Daileass with various odd jobs, all of which seemed to involve getting them better acquainted with where they were at. Even Rick managed to calm down a bit.
Moments later, all the lights lowered, and the room almost immediately became silent. Lee watched the stage as spotlights illuminated the three members of Rascal Flatts that he recognized, along with a forth guy he hadn't seen before, standing in the center playing the lead guitar position.
The room went wild as the first song started. Lee immediately recognized it as the theme song from the movie "Cars". Most of the clone kids seemed lost and unsure of what to think of the scene that was unfolding around them, but given the high energy nature of the song, it didn't take long for most of them to start bouncing in their chairs and really getting into the song along with everyone else.
Seeing that almost everyone not only recognized, but seemed rather excited about the forth band member, Lee shot a questioning look toward Tyce.
"That's Daddy Joe," Tyce nearly had to shout, "He's like a father to a bunch of us, especially those of us who haven't really had dad's of our own."
Lee nodded as the energy of the song continued to vibrate throughout the room. He was very impressed at how well 'Daddy Joe' did with the solos. He already liked the song, but somehow this added an additional element that made it even better.
When the song finally ended, several of the clone kids ducked in their seats as the entire room exploded with applause, screaming and cheering.
Rene grabbed Tyce's arm and had a worried expression on his face as he looked toward him and Lee.
"They're happy," Lee tried to shout with little success due to the sheer volume of the screaming.
Catching on the most of the kids had never been to, or seen any type of large group event like this, Tyce quickly caught on, "When people really like a song that was played for them, they like to show it by cheering."
"Why?" Avery, who was sitting on the other side of Rene, and looking equally as worried despite his twelve year old appearance, shouted back.
"They just do," Tyce shrugged his shoulders and looked toward Lee.
With the volume slowly starting to die down, it was a little easier for Lee to be heard as he shouted back toward Rene and Avery, "It helps people feel like they are a part of what's going on around them, and helps them feel like they are giving back a little by showing their appreciation for something they enjoyed."
Rene and Avery glanced at each other for a few moments. Accepting the answer, they both started to pass on what Tyce and Lee had just shared with them to the rest of the kids down the row.
"HELLO OUT THERE!" Gary, one of the Rascal Flatts band members, called out from the stage, causing the volume of cheering to go right back up. "First off, I’d like to thank you guys for coming here and letting us play a few songs for you." Once again, the auditorium broke out in cheering.
"Why does everyone cheer every time someone says something?" Avery, one of the older clones whispered to Micha.
Micha shrugged, "I guess it's a crowd thing."
"Secondly," Gary continued a few moments later, "I want you to all give a big hand to General Joseph Casey! Not only is he playing guitar with us tonight, but he was the one that was able to make this night so very special to many of us."
"Hey!" Rene turned toward Tyce, "You lied to us, you said that was Daddy Joe."
Tyce grinned, "Daddy Joe is one of his names, but General Casey is another of his names. General is his rank in the military."
"What's a military?" One of the other younger kids asked.
"It's the army." Micha answered, trying to be helpful.
"What's an army?" Another asked.
"They are a group of people that fight to help keep people safe," Lee jumped in, "I'll have Daileass tell you about them more later if you want, but we need to keep our voices down during the show or people will get mad at us."
Rene looked back up, and noticed that while they had been talking, a young boy, around ten years old, had gotten up on stage, and Gary had his arm wrapped around him while he was talking to the crowd, "I doubt any of you know this, but it was this young man here who made us decide to throw this mini concert tonight. The strength that this young man has shown is nothing short of amazing. However, what I found to be even more amazing is he isn't alone here. When I look out into the crowd here I see more people under the age of thirteen then I see over it. Before today, just based on your ages, I would have said no one here could make a difference in the world, but boy was I wrong!"
At the other end of the row, Gaiden whispered toward Daniel, "Do the younger kids in Clan Short really make that much of a difference?"
Daniel nodded, "Uh huh. Cory Short, the leader of the Clan is only fourteen, and his boyfriend is thirteen, and the leader of the UNIT, Adam Casey, and almost all the kids that are here, are also only fourteen."
"How can kids run something like this?" Carlos asked, not really buying any of it.
Daniel shrugged, "How did Maurice start leading you guys back when he was thirteen?"
"That's different," Carlos protested, "We didn't have a choice. On the streets, you do what you have to so you can survive."
Daniel nodded, "Yeah, and if you listen to the history of the Clan later, you'll learn that a lot of the kids that started the Clan were in a much worse situation than just living on the streets, and it was a matter of survival for them too."
"That makes sense," Gaiden nodded. "So when Brent said that you guys are officially becoming a division of Clan Short, you're really joining a huge street gang?"
Hania leaned over Daniel to add his two cents worth, "Actually, we've been a part of Clan Short since Brent and them first met the Clan in Florida two months ago. And, if you guys are joining us, then that means you are a part of the Clan as well."
Gaiden and Carlos just looked at each other, neither boy really sure what to say.
By this point, the other two members of Rascal Flatts had walked up to join Gary, who seemed to be having a hard time controlling his emotions as he continued speaking, "I know a lot of you are probably thinking 'why would three very successful musicians want to deal with us?' Well let me tell you why. When we started this band, we wanted to make a difference. Not really sure how, or what we could do, we tried to find songs that would have an impact on people, and maybe help them out. We donated a lot of our money, and a lot of our time to different charities trying to lend our name to help them out. We're proud of all of that... but before us..." he made a motion with his hands to indicate the entire group, "before us I see a group of kids... KIDS... that have not only figured out how to help, but are doing it. That is something that we could only wish to have done." Gary paused for a moment, surprisingly, the room was dead quiet. "This next song is one of our most popular, but we've adapted it to fit you guys. We all truly hope that we got into words what we feel when we think of you guys. Normally, I'm not lost for words, but I really don't know what else to say, other then to sing the song for all of you, and hope that you like it!"
Once Gary finished speaking, he and the rest of the band started the second song, "Unstoppable". Given the high energy feeling of the first song, and not having a reason to expect anything different, many of the clone kids immediately started to dance around in their seats, only to realize that although upbeat, the song had an energy of a different type. One of inspiration and warmth.
That's how the next several songs went. Each song had a slightly different feeling to them than the songs before. The entire time, Jack, the boy that was standing on stage, remained up there. Sometimes between songs Gary would say something to him or about him, but for the most part, they were just playing their songs, and all of the clone kids were enjoying their first ever concert.
To the surprise of many of the kids who had lost themselves in enjoying the different songs and quietly talking about them between themselves, the start of the sixth song "Why" had caught all of their attention. This song was different from the others. Where as all the other songs were in some way up-beat, this one was more gloomy and sad. Further, the entire time that Gary was singing, he was holding Jack in his arms. Something clearly must have gone wrong that most of the kids had missed.
When the song was finally over, instead of the normal cheering, the entire room was silent as Gary sat Jack back down on a stool in the center of the stage and started talking to him. "It's gonna be okay Jack. I know your brother's watching down on you now, smiling at the fine young man you've turned out to be. But... I have a question I would like to ask you. When I was talking to Daddy Joe earlier, he said it had to be your decision, you have to want it... and if you did, he could do it. So.. here's my question... Jack... would you allow me to adopt you? Would you like to be my son?"
Jack could only stare in shock at the man who was kneeling in front of him. "My... my dad? You wanna be my daddy?" Jack paused for a few moments, with the room still remaining completely quiet. "YES!" Jack cried out as he launched himself into Gary's arms, which again caused the room to explode in cheering.
Rene looked up toward Tyce, "Can people really do that? Pick who they want their moms and dads to be?"
Tyce grinned and ruffled Rene's hair a bit as he too was happy for Jack, "Not normally. But in the UNIT and the Clan, anything can happen."
As the applause and cheering started to die down, and while Jack and Gary continued their hugging, Jay took a step forward and began to speak with his voice full of emotion, "This afternoon, after we talked to a lot of different kids who live here. We had a long talk with Daileass, who brought Daddy Joe to us. While he would never get into details, he told us some of what has happened to the kids and adults that live here. Then Joe started to explain exactly who the UNIT is, not just what we've heard in the news, but who you all REALLY are. That was shocking enough, but then he told us about the Clan that you all are a part of, and we got shocked again. To hear that a bunch of kids banded together to say 'ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!, if you adults won't protect us, and help us, we'll do it ourselves.' That is just nothing short of amazing."
While Jay was talking, Joe Don, and Gary, with Jack glued to his side, walked over to stand next to him as he kept talking to the crowd. "When Joe was telling us about what Clan Short has done so far, we sat there in shock. But the one thing we were all thinking is... it's about time. It's about time that someone stood up to the evil in this world. It's about time that someone stood up and said to all the people in the world that are being abused that 'we will help you', that 'you're not alone anymore' and most importantly that 'we CARE'!"
Although most of the younger kids were slightly lost in what was being said, Micha, Gaiden, and Carlos were not. As Micha wordlessly glanced toward Carlos, he nodded. It was fairly certain that all three boys were thinking the same thing, and that this was something they would need to talk to Maurice about when they got back home.
As each of the members of Rascal Flatts on stage continued to take turns sharing bits about what they have learned of the Clan, and describing some of the experiences and horrors that they had heard that some of the kids had lived through, the amount of respect and pride that each of the three street kids had toward the Clan continued to increase.
As Jay was finishing up talking about how they wanted to dedicate this final song as the message the Clan sends out to all the kids who have lost hope, and were not sure where to turn, there was no doubt in any of the three boy's minds that the Clan was where they belonged, and that they wanted to do anything they could to help them out. What each of them were trying to figure out was how they could convince the others when they got back to their new home. Little did they know that everyone else in their gang that had stayed behind to finish getting their stuff moved in had also been listening to the concert, and heard everything that the members of Rascal Flatts had said.
All the lights in the room went out, save for a single spotlight illuminating the three members of the band as they started to play "I won't let go". By the time the song was over, there was not a kid from the group that had come from Cynthitech that did not have tears filling their eyes. Not because the song was sad, in fact it was rather reassuring, and not for the same reasons, but never the less, they were there.
For most of the clone kids, the sheer degree of emotions that the various songs in the concert had created was enough to overload them. For Carlos, Gaiden, and Micha, the fact that they may have finally found something real that they could belong to and live for. For Lee, Hania, and Matt, and the other core kids, just seeing how much the clone kids and street kids seemed to be effected by this short concert. And for Rick, a feeling of confirmation that everything he and his husband had been through for these kids over the last two months was really worth it, and how they really were a part of something that was much bigger than any of them could ever individually hope to be.
As the lights in the auditorium came back up, and people started to leave, Tyce noticed the looks on many of the younger kid's faces. "Hey guys", he called out with an evil grin on his face, "See that kid standing next to Adam in the front row?" Getting nods of confirmation from most of the clone kids, Tyce continued, "His name is Jory. He's the one that will be able to give you your new teddy bears."
Lee smiled as he saw Tyce's statement immediately had it's desired effect, as the long faces instantly disappeared, and were replaced by looks of hope and expectation, as each of the younger kids, and older clone kids tried to figure out how to best navigate through the crowd to get to their unsuspecting target who was standing in the front row.
Almost immediately, twenty kids took off, some of them trying to climb over the seats in front of them, and others starting to crawl under them. "Hey guys!" Lee called out fairly loudly getting most of their attention, "Why don't you wait for the auditorium to clear out a bit first, then it will be easier to get down there."
After he stopped laughing at how enthusiastic and determined most of the kids were to get their bears, Tyce added, "Actually guys, I bet that as soon as most of people clear out, they will come up to here to us, so everyone just sit for a few minutes."
As the kids were making their way back to their seats, and Rick was wiping off his forehead, Tyce leaned toward Lee, "I just telepathically let Logan know what was going on and they will meet us up here as soon as they finish talking to the band, and things clear out."
Lee nodded, "Sounds like a good idea, I would hate to see the damage these guys would cause trying to make their way to the front."
"Oh," Tyce added as an after thought, "I think Adam might also be interested in talking to Brent a bit, so if you want you could have them bring the rest of the kids that didn't come to the concert, but would still want to get bears?"
With another nod of agreement, Lee tapped his communicator, "Lee to Brent."
Hania and Daniel both had grins on their faces as they sat back and watched many of the younger kids bouncing up and down in their seats in anticipation. "Ya know," Daniel mussed, "I almost think that some of these guys are more excited now than during the concert."
"I think you're right," Hania agreed. "Hey guys, try not to break the seats too bad."
Moments later, the row directly in front of them which had been empty, was suddenly filled with Brent, Lance, Maurice, and about 10 other kids. This only served to make the other kids even more excited that the rest of their friends were there now.
Lee waved toward Brent and Lance, "Hey guys. You missed an awesome concert."
Lance grinned, "Actually, we were able to listen to the second half of it when we got back, since Daileass was broadcasting it."
"But they still wouldn't let me come, and it would have been real easy for Daileass to get me here!" Forth cried.
Lance sighed as he felt Forth's head trying to squeeze in between him and Brent, "That's because it's not polite to interrupt the middle of a concert."
"Either way, glad you guys were able to catch some of it, because it really was great," Tyce stated as he watched many of the younger kids that were and weren't there for the concert comparing notes with each other.
From behind Lance and Brent a kid in his mid teens spoke up. His black hair was long, almost to the middle of his back, and his eyes were the color of steel. He was wearing a set of Military Camouflage pants, and a tan shirt. Next to him was another boy, only slightly younger than the first one, with blond hair and bright blue eyes. Many of the kids eyes were drawn to the fact that they were holding hands as they stood there. "Hey guys. I hear the lot of you are from the Vegas division?"
"Whoa, it's him!" Forth nearly shouted as he put one hand over his mouth, used his other hand to point toward the boy that was wearing the tan shirt, and fell back into his chair all at the same time.
Brent swallowed hard as he saw that Forth was pointing toward Adam Casey, leader of the UNIT, who was now standing in front of them. "Yes sir."
Maurice grinned as he sized up the smaller boy, "He's the leader of the UNIT?" He said slightly louder than he had intended, "I could take him."
Adam couldn't help but laugh lightheartedly, and he looked Maurice up and down. With a grin he couldn't help but say, "You know... I thought you'd be a bit bigger, being the 'chief' of the Twain Street Boys. But then again, since you've been on the streets for almost seven years, in a gang since the last five, and in the last three years held the position of Chief of the Twains, well i guess you have to be a bit tough."
Being surprised only briefly, Maurice glared back toward Brent, "What the hell have you been telling these goofs about us?"
Brent looked toward Adam, and then toward Maurice, "Other than the fact that you guys are street gang who had helped us out a few times in the past, and that you were going to be staying at Cynthitech with us, nothing."
The blond boy sighed heavily while slapping the black haired boy on the back of the head. "Adam... how many times do I have to tell you not to do that shit in front of kids you don't know, especially ones that are naturally suspicious?!"
"Sorry guys... He's a bit excited after the concert. Anyways, bone head here is indeed Adam Casey. General and leader of the UNIT. I'm Logan Hayes, Chief Intel officer, and bone head's boyfriend."
Maurice grinned as he looked toward Logan, "On the streets, you have to be suspicious of everyone, otherwise you end up dead in a gutter somewhere. Humm, boyfriend huh?" Maurice took a few more moments to consider the situation as several of the other kids were now watching them to see if any punches would be thrown, "I guess if you're like the Clan and accepting of, well of people like us, then you can't be that bad, eh?"
"We try." Logan chuckled as Adam smiled while rubbing the back of his head slightly. Logan looked over at him a grinned. "You know, I still find it amazing, put Adam in a military situation, or in a fight of some sort, and he's an absolute genius. However, put him in anything close to a normal social situation, and he's almost as bad as Juan!"
"HEY!!!" Adam cried out indignantly. "I ain't that bad!" Of course his laugh, and the laugh from all those behind him told a different story. Trying to salvage some shred of his dignity, Adam quickly changed the subject. "So... I hear some of you guys are here for Jory's Teddy Bears?"
Many "Me's" could be heard, followed by about thirty kids with their hands raised up in the air in both rows starting to squish their way toward where Lee, Brent, and Adam were standing.
Seeing several other people walking up and stopping behind Adam, Maurice decided that this would need to be an issue that would have to wait until another time to resolve.
Glancing at all of the excited kids, as well as the new group of people standing behind Adam, Brent grinned, "It looks like Jory's going to be fairly popular tonight. None of us have ever been here before, so how do you want to work this?"
"Well... Jory and the rest of these guys can take your kids to get the bears. I've been meaning to get together with you, and who ever else you put in a position of authority for the last couple of days. If it's alright with you, we could go up to my office, and get that conversation out of the way."
"Works for me", Brent agreed. "Lee, go ahead and keep an eye on everyone, and if they'll let you, be sure to grab one for Haden."
Lee nodded as he and most of the other kids started to make their way toward Jory.
Brent glanced back toward Adam, "I hope that won't be a problem. One of our guys really does not handle meeting new people that well, let alone large groups of people. And I think Lance and I, along with Maurice if he would like to, will go with you."
Maurice smiled, "Why not, sounds like fun."
Adam couldn't help but grin evilly, "so do we go the easy way, or the hard way?"
"I like hard." Maurice punched his hands together.
Brent and Lance glanced at each other, and then at the kids jumping up and down trailing behind Jory, "Doesn't matter to us, as long as it's not the same way that Jory is going," Brent grinned.
Adam sighed heavily but with a smile. "Fine, we'll do it the hard way. We'll walk, instead of having Daileass teleport us."
"That works," Brent agreed. "Besides, it would be cool to see some of this base of yours. I'm kind of surprised that I haven't seen any windows yet."
Logan chuckled. "Well, that would be simply because right now we're about two hundred feet under the surface."
"Wow, and I thought we were doing good with having four floors going sixty feet under ground", Lance commented.
Adam chuckled as they started making their way to the elevators. "Well see.. imagine a pyramid... and then put a mountain over it. that's what we've got here. We go down seven levels, although most people never see six or seven."
"Very cool," Brent agreed as he watched the numbers on the elevator go from 'four' to 'one', with a much longer pause between floors 'two' and 'one'."
As they stepped out of the elevator, Maurice noticeably gasped at the fact that they were now in a huge underground hanger. Massive blast doors could be seen at the far end of the hanger, which could easily fit a football field or two inside of it. Although there were a few small helicopters at one of the far ends of the massive room, the majority of space seemed to be more of a huge mass of kids.
"The after concert party?" Lance asked hesitantly as he tried to make sense of all the kids he saw.
"Nah," Logan replied with a grin, "This is part of our intake process. Kids from around the country, well around the world actually, are all being processed here before being assigned a place to stay here at the base."
Looking closer, Brent could see a number of tables setup, with lines of kids at many of those tables. At some, people with laptop computers were getting information from the kids, at others, doctors were performing medical checkups, at some, kids were being given clothes and other supplies, and at a few, kids were grabbing drinks and snacks. "Okay, that's a lot of kids to be adding all at once."
"Actually," Adam sniggered, "This is one of our slow periods, usually it's a lot busier. Right now there are over ten thousand kids that are staying here at the base."
"This is insane," Maurice commented shaking his head..
"Nah, insane comes later," Logan replied as he started walking along the side of the wall away from the crowd of kids, "Come on guys, Adam's office is this way."
After walking along the back wall, opposite to the blast doors, the group turned and went through a set of double doors that lead them into a large, plush carpeted hallway. About half way down they turned down another and shortly after turned again. The entire time, they were passing a number of closed doors, and a number of kids, and a few adults, going about their business walking past them, or going in and out of the various doors. Finally, they made it to another set of double doors. As the group approached them, Maurice had to do a double take at the two, sixfoot tall guards that were stationed outside, since he was convinced that they both had the features and builds of large lions, not to mention they had tails.
Adam grudgingly nodded as both cat guards saluted him as they opened the doors to allow them to pass. If the guys were impressed with the hanger and everything else they had seen up to this point, what they saw next was even more impressive.
The only way that Brent could think of describing what he saw was to compare it to the picture's of NASA's mission control room. One wall was covered with nothing but monitors, each showing different things, such as the insides of buildings, the outsides of buildings, or various reports. A few monitors seemed to be linked together showing a larger picture. On the other side of the room were three tiers of computer terminals that were being manned by an assortment of kids who were all busy chatting in their head-sets or typing on the keyboards that were in front of them. Toward the back of the room were several chairs and smaller desks as well as a large table in the center that had a large holographic picture of the UNIT's logo, two crossed golden arrows with a skull on top, floating in the middle.
"Welcome to the C.I.C. guys," Adam grinned at the expressions of awe that were on Brent, Lance, and Maurice's face.
Brent nodded slightly, "Okay, yeah. This is cool."
"Yeah, just don't let Haden see this place, we'll never get him to leave," Lance added.
"Come on guys, we can talk more in my office," Adam started to walk toward one of the corner doors at the far end of the room.
After taking a few more moments to take in all the sights around them, the others followed. Expecting to see a normal office, they were once again surprised at how large of a room it was. Closest to the door was a good sized circular table with a number of chairs around it, with a smaller version of the UNIT's logo floating in the center of it, on the other side of the room was a large, well crafted desk and a few more chairs placed in front of it. Off to one side of the room, there was even a weight bench, with what looked like a rather large number of weights attached to it, and a small glass locker which clearly had weapons of some sort in it, but none of the three kids had any clue what weapons they were.
Next to the glass case was an armor stand that had what looked to be Samurai armor on it. Complete with a demon like face mask. It almost looked as if it was set up like an altar, with a dagger, a short sword, and a longer sword placed crossing themselves in front of it.
As he sat behind the desk, Adam motioned for the others to take the seats in front. Logan, for his part, simply jumped up and at on the desk itself.
"Next time, remind me to pick the 'easy' way," Brent commented as he sat down, "This place is beyond huge."
Adam grinned, "Now that we are here, would you guys like anything to drink?"
"No thanks," Brent answered instinctively.
"I wouldn't mind a Sprite or something if you have it," Lance commented.
"A Pepsi for me would be cool," Maurice added.
Adam looked closer toward Brent, "You sure Brent? Daileass is buying."
Brent smiled, "Actually, a root beer would be nice."
"Daileass, if you would do the honors?" Logan asked out loud before a small tray of five drinks appeared on the table. Logan then handed the Sprite to Lance, the Pepsi to Maurice, and the Barque's Root Beer to Brent while giving the 20 oz. bottle of 'Code Red' Mountain Dew to his lover, and taking the bottle of Jolt cola for himself.
Adam smiled as he let the three boys sip their drinks and look around for a few moments to take everything in before he started. When he did, he was glad that he had their full, undivided attention. "Okay guys, here's the deal. Because I'm not sure how much you guys know about The Unit, and it's interactions with the rest of the Clan, I'll go over everything for you. First off, the UNIT operates as the Clan's Special Forces/Military arm. Primarily, we deal with the rescue of kids who actually need to be rescued. As in there is something that is preventing them from coming to us on their own. In such cases we send at least one strike team in to rescue them. A strike team consists of ten trained personnel, who are authorized to use whatever force is necessary to not only get the child or children in question, but also to bring the abusers to justice." Adam trailed off as he cocked his head to the side some.
He looked over to Logan with a smile and a look that just sang of love. "You're right love." He turned back and looked at the three boys, who were obviously lost because of the non-verbal communication.
"As Logan just said to me, you guys probably have no clue who or what we really are, in addition to what role we serve within the Clan. So let me start at the beginning."
Adam took a deep breath, while Logan chimed in. "Might as well make yourselves comfortable... this could take a bit."
Adam grinned and sniggered a bit before settling down and taking a drink from his soda. "To understand the UNIT, you need to understand where we all came from. Logan is the easiest, as he grew up in a normal family, went to school, and basically had a normal childhood, save for the fact that by the age of twelve, he was already working on his doctorate in computer sciences." Adam paused as he watched his lover color slightly from a small blush.
Lance nodded, "That would help explain Tyce, and the other Logan clones we saw."
Logan got up off the desk, moved around it, then sat on Adam's lap. Taking a deep breath, Logan looked closely at all three boys for a few moments. Finally, before the silence could get uncomfortable, Logan spoke quietly. "Before I go any further, I need to apologize to the three of you. Have any of you ever had any contact with Telepaths, Empaths, or anything like that before?
"Oh man!" Maurice groaned, "Don't remind me about telepaths, they're three sets of them running around over there."
Brent grinned and nodded, "Maurice is referring to our triple-t's, three sets of triplets that are Clan trained, or at least Kyle trained telepaths. We don't have any empaths, although we have talked to Tyler a few times."
"Actually," Lance injected, "According to Kyle, the triple-t's are kinda like a cross between empaths and telepaths the way their heads are setup, and interpret things, but they are not full empaths like Tyler is."
Logan nodded, "good, that will make things easier. Personally, I am a very strong Empath, however, I am also a pretty good Telepath. The reason I need to apologize is this. I looked into your heads for a brief moment. Mainly because I needed to make sure some of what you guys are about to hear, one, you will be able to accept, and two, will not be shared to those who are not part of the Clan."
Brent, Lance, and Maurice each nodded their understanding.
"Now, as far as my brothers go." Logan started off as he got up and started to pace a bit. "They are very intelligent, however, they do not match me. I won't get into the hows or whys that they don't, but it's enough to say they do not. However, when General Adams, the man who had them created, found out that while they were smart, they didn't match what he wanted, he ordered them to be killed..."
Brent and Lance both glanced at each other with surprise. "General Adams?" Brent asked, "We found a number of references to a General Adams in some of the early Cynthitech paperwork. If I remember correctly, Cynthitech had dealings with him at some point, then for some unstated reason, they stopped dealing with each other about ten years ago."
Lance agreed, "Yeah, and what's really weird is that General Adams was responsible for a lot of Cynthitech's early funding, and when he just went away, that marked the start of the company's downfall."
Logan looked rather surprised, however all he really did was look up and say "Daileass?"
"Already on it boss!" Came the reply. Logan simply nodded and then took back up his story knowing that his brother would get everything he could.
"Anyways, as I was saying. General Adams wasn't satisfied with my brothers so he ordered that they all have positronic brains installed. This was about four years ago." Logan said softly.
"Damn," Lance mumbled under his breath.
"Yeah.. and one other thing for you guys to know, Daileass is actually the oldest of the clones. However, they never put him back into his body."
"That would certainly explain why Haden get's along with him so easily," Brent grinned, "I've read a lot about androids lately, especially in some of the Clan Short A.I. Division briefs, maybe you could build Daileass an android body?
"And limit myself?" Daileass voice came from the speakers in the room. "I mean come on. I do have a body, sort of. This entire base is my body. And since I'm linked into your systems too, your facility is like another body for me. I've got an entire TRINARY server farm that allows me to do almost anything I want at speeds that, at times, I can't even keep up with. Why would I want to limit myself to one little shell? Although, there is one thing that my brothers have that I don't... and would really like."
"I guess you have a good point Daileass," Brent replied after thinking for a few moments, "I first thought of it as something really bad and horrible, but you've turned it into something really positive and good."
Maurice scrunched up his face trying to figure out Daileass's riddle, but finally gave up, "What thing would that be?"
"Well.... I mean, I got a boy friend and all... but I can't really do anything with him!"
Sprite came flying out of Lance's nose as he was trying taking a sip of his drink just as Daileass gave his answer. "Okay, now there is no doubt at all that Daileass was a real kid at one point."
"Well duh!" Daileass said while laughing... then he sighed all dreamy like. "And i mean Draco... he's got the hottest circuit boards I've ever seen, and what he can do with his RAM... and damn, he's got the cutest little dongle..."
"THAT'S ENOUGH Daileass!" Logan got out in between laughs.
"ANYWAYS!" Adam cried out when he could contain his laughter again. "We've gotten slightly off topic. I am only going to hit the high points for you guys, since if I went into all the details, we'd be here for hours." Adam sat there for a brief moment pulling his thoughts together before he started again.
"First off, let me tell you a bit about my own past. I ended up on the streets when I was four and a half. At age six, I was kidnapped off the streets and taken to a laboratory, where I met Dr. Anthony Marcus. He led the team of scientists that, for the next six months, altered my DNA to make me into a super soldier."
"By the time they were done, I ended up being roughly ten times stronger and faster then a normal human. On top of that, I heal about ten times faster then a normal human, I now have a photographic memory, am telepathic, anda few other things I don't really need to go into." Adam ended with a grin pointed almost directly at Maurice.
Looking toward Adam, Maurice snorted, "Dude, I'm pretty good at sizing people up. You're smaller than I am, and certainly don't look like a superman. Maybe with a gun in your hand you might do some damage, but on the streets I doubt you would do so well. Heck, I still say I can take you on."
Adam just smiled softly. "Believe what you wish, however, some free advice for you. You're in the Clan now, appearances not only can be deceiving, but most times are. When you get back to your base, ask Daileass to show you the sparring matches between myself, Khan, and my younger brother Chang. Also, another free bit of advice. If you run into my youngest brother Juan, do NOT say that to him. He will take that as a challenge, and I don't think your gang would like being without its leader." Adam paused for a second then let his smile grow into a grin. "He likes to call normal humans 'squishees'."
Brent nodded, "I would listen to him dude. I've been reading some of the Clan briefs over the last few days, and those huge cat soldiers you saw when we entered their C.I.C. was just the tip of the iceberg for some of the stuff that the UNIT and Clan have. Some of the smallest kids can take on full grown adults."
Maurice shrugged, "Fine, have it your way. I'll let this go for now, but one day, you'll need to put your money where your mouth is.
Logan groaned out audibly, while Adam simply smiled. The next thing anyone knew, Adam had come around his desk, and had Maurice held up by the front of his shirt with one hand. Adam may have been a bit shorter then Maurice, but it was Maurice's feet that were not touching the floor. "Thankfully I know you did not mean offense. However, one thing you need to realize right away. Just like in a street gang, the Unit follows strength and power. Since I lead the Unit, what do you think that says about me?
"Damn", Maurice managed to squeak out in surprise as he raised both of his hands in surrender.
Adam lowered the boy to the floor then pointed over to the weight bench. "See the weights there? How much is on that bar?"
Still slightly shocked at just how badly he had misjudged Adam, Maurice quickly glanced over his shoulder, "That's easy, two hundred ninety pounds."
"That's a light work out for me."
Maurice swallowed hard and nodded, "Sorry that I doubted you, sir. I think I really need to watch those videos later, I think I have a few things to learn."
Adam moved back over to his seat and sat back down. "Sorry if I offended you at all, but there are some things you guys REALLY need to know if you're going to work with us. If you'll allow it, let me finish my story, and I'm sure a lot of things will be clearer for you. If after I'm done, you have any more questions, feel free to ask. Okay?"
All three boys nodded, then Adam looked right at Maurice. "Maurice, don't worry about it, I know where you're coming from, and why you think the way you think. However, do me a favor and don't call me sir. My name is Adam, and I prefer my friends to call me that."
Maurice grinned, "Sure thing... Adam."
"Cool. Now, to explain the Unit to you guys. First off, as of this morning, there were just over ten thousand kids that call this place home. Of those ten thousand, just shy of eight thousand have some sort of military training, ranging from strike teams, to helicopter pilots, to supply officers, and everything in between. Of those eight thousand, just over half of them are normal every day humans. The rest are either genetically enhanced humans, or animal human hybrids." Adam grinned broadly. "The cats you saw as guards to the Command Center. They are human Lion hybrids, created in a lab very similar to the ones that you guys are staying in."
Adam waited till all three of them nodded before he continued.
"Now, one of the things that are different between the Genesis kids, and the Clones from your facility is that, all of the Genesis kids had their DNA fucked with to one extent or another. However, one thing we all have in common is that we all have had our DNA mixed with that of animals. One of the interesting side effects to this is that we have much stronger base instincts then humans normally do. The best way to describe the difference is to say that we wear our emotions closer to the surface then humans do, and they are MUCH stronger." Adam made sure he had their attention before he continued, addressing his next comment to Maurice. "That is why I said to make sure you do not say that sort of thing to Juan." Seeing that they didn't understand, and knowing they really had no way of knowing anything about Juan, Adam sighed and spoke in a very soft, yet firm voice.
"Juan is our sniper and heavy weapons expert. Now, ask yourself something. What do you think it would take to shape a child into someone who feels absolutely no remorse in killing ANYONE if that's what he was ordered to do? What would it take to make someone into a remorseless sociopathic killer?"
Knowing that Maurice had no clue who Juan was, Brent added, "Just for size comparisons, Juan is about the same age and size as Jory. That little kid at the concert that the rest of our guys followed to get bears."
Maurice sighed, "It would take some sick twisted bastard to do something like that to a kid, that's what."
Adam nodded gravely making sure that the boys all knew how serious he was, he still spoke softly. "You have no idea, nor do you really want to know what was done to Juan to make him the way he is. Lets just say though, that Juan got a bit of revenge when we rescued him. When I first saw my youngest brother, he had the doctor that did so many evil, nasty things to him, tied down to a bed, and was pealing the skin from his testicles. All the while asking the doctor if he liked it when someone did it to him."
Brent nodded, then shivered slightly as a tingle went down his spine, "I think we are starting to get the picture. But Adam, forgive me for asking this, but is Juan okay for my guys to be around? Most of them wouldn't be able to defend themselves if a normal kid shoved them down, let alone someone like Juan."
Adam sat back quickly. "No... that's not what I mean at all. I know you're concerned, and you have the right to be, after what I just said, but you have to realize one other thing about Juan. He would rather allow himself to be killed then to allow harm to come to any kids, even if they weren't in the Clan. Juan might be very much a kill first, and ask questions later kinda kid, however, kids around him are safer then anywhere else, cause Juan won't allow anyone to hurt them."
"That's pretty much what I figured," Brent replied as he took a sip of his root beer, "But I had to ask just to be sure."
"No problem at all. That actually makes what's about to happen all the easier for us." Adam paused as there was a knock on his office door. A moment later the door opened and in walked one of the Logan clones. This one seemed to only be eight or nine years old, and he was carrying a stack of data pads, which he handed off to Adam with only a smile and a nod. "Thanks Alvin." Adam said, and the boy quickly disappeared out the way he came.
"Just a second guys." Adam said as he started to look over what was on the pads. The first four, he looked at briefly, nodded, then handed them off to Logan. The last one, he spent a bit more time reading. Everyone once in a while he would tap on the thing a few times, obviously making some notes or something on it. When he was done with that one, he handed it over to Logan who took it and went over to the conference table, and started to furiously work on the terminal there.
"Sorry about that guys." Adam said after a few moments of silence as he organized his thoughts. "Just needed to make sure everything was set up before I went into the next part of this meeting. There are two different topics that I need to go into, so I'll let you guys choose which one you want to hear about first. Military or Civilian?"
The three boys looked back and forth for a moment before Brent shrugged and said, "Civilian I guess."
Adam nodded and smiled. "Good choice. It'll be easier to understand I think. So lets get right down to it." Adam said while he stood, and moved over to the conference table that Logan was at, and motioned for the others to follow. Once they were seated, he handed the three boys one of the Data Pads each, and then handed Brent another one.
"What I just gave you guys, is what we've determined you'll need to start up and run the facilities we're gonna set up for you. First off, we set up bank accounts for all three of you, with a starting balance of five million dollars." Adam waited to see if any of the boys would faint.
Although none of them did, Maurice turned a few shades white as he looked at a dollar amount that he had seldom heard of, let alone seen, "Damn dude, what do you guys do in your spare time? Rob banks or something?"
Lance, who had spent the last few days working with Neal trying to figure out how they were going to make ends meet with the new facilities and kids they had inherited, sat there looking at the data pad not really sure what to say, or if he was even really awake.
Brent blinked a few times as he looked at his Data Pad. "Adam," He said as he slowly shook his head trying to put his thoughts together, "We can't take this. From everything I've seen and heard tonight, and with the thousands of kids you guys have here, I think you're going to need this a lot more than us. Even with all of Maurice's guys, we would still not have more than sixty kids."
Adam shook his head. "Okay guys. You need to understand a few things here. First off, the money we gave you so far is your personal money. It is not to be spent on things that the Clan provides. Second, one thing we do not have to worry about is money. What we just gave you doesn't even make us blink. See, we get a 'tax' if you will, from every planet in the Federation, so yeah... money ain't an issue. Brent, the other Pad I gave you has the monthly operational budget for your division. For now, you won't even come close to using it all, but as you grow you might. Just so you all know, that's fifteen million dollars."
Adam leaned forward making sure he had their full attention. "The most important thing for you three to remember is this. Money don't mean shit. It helps, but it ain't the most important thing you guys will need. What you guys need is to love the kid under your care. We can give you all the money you want, but you won't help a single kid if you don't care for them. I know you guys care, so we're giving you EVERYTHING you might need to make those kids lives better. THAT is all we ask in return for the money."
"Now, before we move onto other things, I think it is time to explain what you'll be doing with the monthly budget. Obviously a good portion of it will be going to buy food and shit like that. But the next largest part will be going into the 'allowance' system." Adam paused to see if there were any questions yet, and when he saw that the three boys were just listening intently, he continued.
Adam reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. Pulling out a card, he handed it over to Brent, who took it and looked at it, while Adam explained what it was. "That card serves several purposes. The first is as an ID card. Those things can not be duplicated and are the official identification for all Clan members. By tomorrow morning or at the latest early afternoon, someone will bring you one for each person already known to be members of your division. Also, when you bring a new person in, they will get one with in a few hours of your intel team entering them into the system."
Once he was sure they were still following along, Adam went into the next part. "The next function of that card is that it also acts as a debit card that can be used all over the world. How they work is like this. Each kid that gets rescued or is already a part of the division will have a starting balance of $250. That will be used to buy personal items to do things like buy stuff for their rooms, or different games, things like that.
"However, one of the things we will be setting up for you guys, is the Division Store. What I mean by that is, we will set you guys up with a building that, for all intents and purposes, is stocked much like your normal Target store... since we happen to own Target." Adam said with a laugh, which only deepened when he saw the shocked looks on the boys. "When they first arrive, a rescued kid will be able to go into the store and pick out everything he will need. When he gets to the check out, he won't have to pay for anything. The only reason we have a check out at all is for inventory control.
"Once he or she is set up with the necessities, anything else they want, they will have to pay for. On top of the initial $250, each person will get a base weekly allowance of $50. They can get more depending on a few different things.
"Their schooling. They will be paid to go to school, and depending on the grades they get, they may get more. If they maintain a "C" average, they will not get any more money. However, if they maintain a "B" average, they will get an additional $20 a week. If the can maintain an "A" average, that jumps to another $50. When they take a test, it's the same thing. A "C" gets you nothing extra. A "B" will get you $5, while an "A" will get you $20." Again, making sure that they were following, Adam paused. Once he was sure they were okay, we continued.
"Also, everyone will be expected to do certain chores. Things like keeping their rooms clean, taking out trashetc. However, if they want more money, they can always take jobs within the base. Whether it's helping out the cooks in the kitchen, or helping out the house cleaners, or a whole bunch of other things, they can make more money like that. Also, it doesn't matter how old they are, there are always things that can be found for someone to do, no matter if they are four or fourteen.
"And yes, before you ask, they can also have money taken away for not doing their chores or for letting their grades slip. So now... any questions?"
Maurice thought for a moment, "And I'm assuming that some of those 'jobs' would be things like serving as part of the UNIT military team or something?"
"Yes and no," Adam said while eying Maurice closely. "First off, I am assuming that you, at least, have a passing interest in the Military side of things. So with that in mind, I will give you a bit more detail then I would normally. If someone actually wanted to do the training to become part of the military, they would of course be allowed to. However, the allowance system is totally different for someone in the Military side than it is for the civilian side. If, after a few weeks, you're still interested, I would be happy to sit down with you and discuss that."
Maurice nodded, "I'll admit I'm a bit interested in some of the stuff that I've seen tonight. But I also agree with you, I'd like a bit more time to get a better idea of how exactly your crew works here before I go jumping head first into anything."
Adam nodded, "Now onto other things. The rest of this is only if you guys approve. Logan's been doing some work on the map of your facility. To be honest, it needs some upgrades. First, we want to set up two dormitory style buildings, each of which can hold just over six hundred kids."
"The next things that will get installed will be the ten units for adults and older kids. These are actually single family homes, so plan accordingly. Next will be the Command and Control building, the indoor pool complex, the food court/auditorium, and of course the military buildings, but I will get into those later."
"Six hundred kids... each?" Brent tried to wrap his head around the map he was looking at, "Indoor pool? Wait, we already have an indoor pool in building two."
"Are you kidding Brent? That little indoor training pool you guys have will be lucky to fit twenty kids in it. Look at this map, it not only has an Olympic sized lap pool, but also a dive pool, splash pool, and I think those are water slides, all of which we are going to need being in the desert and taking care of hundreds of kids." Lance stated as he looked over the information.
"I guess that makes sense," Brent agreed.
"Hey Adam," Maurice looked a bit closer at the map, "This looks really cool, the only problem I see is that where you have this landing pad and hanger at is some pretty hilly ground since we have a mountain to the west of us. Plus, if adults are going to be staying in the houses, I'm wondering if we shouldn't move some of these closer to the C.I.C. building, like here and there, since most adults that I know of don't like walking that far."
Adam smiled, seeing at least two of the boys getting into the spirit of things. "First off, the hangers won't be a problem unless there is some other reason than just the lay out of the land. We'll just have Daileass do some 'landscaping'. as far as CIC goes, I'm not sure if you guys understand things yet. The adults are not in command... you guys are. Feel free to tap the adults for advice and stuff, but the final decisions are yours. Which means, the adults won't be staffing CIC, unless you want them to. You guys, and those who are trained up will be."
Brent nodded, "Yeah, that's pretty much how the entire Clan operates."
"I just can't wait to see the look on Neal's face when we tell him that instead of watching out for sixty kids, we will be watching out for six hundred plus", Lance giggled as he gave Brent a hug, "Don't worry love, we won't be doing it all ourselves. Remember when we were staying in Orlando, and Cory was getting everyone else around to help out? We'll just do the same thing."
Brent agreed, "Yeah, this just wasn't exactly what I was expecting tonight, but it looks like Adam has taken care of the biggest issues, so I'm sure this'll all work out."
"Well... I'm not done yet." Adam said with a grin. "Now we move onto the military part. Again this is only if you guys agree. I would like to send five full strike teams to your facility. Not only those fifty, but also another fifty that will act as, not only support for those fifty, but also as command and control for your military operations. Understand Brent... you will be completely in charge of your base. They will follow your orders, and only make suggestions on the military side of things, but I would strongly suggest you listen to them when they say something."
After getting a nod of understanding from Brent, Adam continued. "On top of them will be another twenty-five personnel. These will be the pilots and crews for the five Black Hawk Helicopters, one for each of the strike teams. As well as two MI-24 Hind-F Gunships." When he mentioned each of the helicopters, a 3-D picture of each appeared in the middle of the table.
"Damn, those look sweet," Maurice commented, "Where do I sign me and my guys up to learn this military stuff? I know Fingers would love to learn to fly those things, and I'm sure most of the others would like to help out in other areas, especially after what we heard at the concert tonight."
Lance agreed, "I wouldn't mind learning some stuff as well, but that brings up another issue. Right now we have facilities setup to help teach clones basic information, but we don't have nearly the facilities to educate six hundred normal kids, unless I overlooked something on the map?"
Adam couldn't help but grin more. "Thankfully this isn't our first rodeo, so we got answers for y'all." Adam said with a thick southern drawl, before switching back to his normal voice. "First, Maurice... anything you or your guys wanna learn how to do, we can teach. That falls into what Lance asked. The Clan has two main education centers. The first one is located here in the UNIT base. Here we deal with anything Military. The other School is in Orlando, and deals with more normal educational matters. Starting tomorrow, the school really opens up, and we will be transporting kids back and forth for their classes. Sometime soon I will have Mr. T get in contact with you guys. He's the guy in charge of the Clan's Educational programs."
"Mr. T? Cool. We actually got to attend his classes for two days when we were in Orlando, I think he's one of the best teachers I've ever seen," Brent mused as he continued to think about everything he was learning, "It sounds like you have things worked out pretty good. The more I think about all this, the more I think we might actually pull it off. So I guess to get into some of the more detailed questions, just how crazy should we go with this? The way Maurice was talking, he's ready to round up all the homeless kids he can find, and I'm pretty sure there are thousands just in Vegas alone, not to mention any of the other surrounding cities."
Logan spoke up when Brent got done. "Actually, according to the latest figures, there are just over seven thousand homeless kids within the city limits of Las Vegas. Now, obviously we're not expecting you to help them all, but just letting you know that you will be able to help as many as you want. Right now, one of the guys from the North East division is working on setting up old military bases to house kids. When he has them set up we will be able to help out a lot more kids then we are now. The most important thing for you guys to keep in mind is that before you can help a lot of kids, you have to have the people in place to be able to do it. We can help with some of that, but a lot of it you'll need to do yourself. One last bit of advice. Take a look at the people you have around you already, and come up with a team to help you guys deal with everything. Also, some of those you rescue will be in a position to help you guys out. They may have interesting abilities or knowledge that helps them help you. Just make sure you talk to people, and never be afraid to ask for help."
Lance thought for a few moments about what Adam told them, "Getting additional adults involved shouldn't be a problem, we've actually ran across a few people over the last month that would probably work out great, but most of them had jobs and stuff and couldn't really help much. But I'm guessing it wouldn't be a problem to use some of this money as salaries for them."
Brent agreed, "I think I know who Lance is thinking of, and I think he's right. As far as the asking for help goes, I have a feeling we'll be taking you up on that offer a bunch. We are getting a lot of the big things worked out tonight, but there always seems to be little things that pop up."
"Hey Adam?" Maurice had an odd grin on his face, "With as big as this Clan is, do you have intra-Clan sport teams organized? You guys seem to have so many bases set up, and with us being one of them now, it might be cool if a football or soccer team from our base were able to go up against a team from your base. Maybe for a top-of-the-Clan title or something?"
"Sheesh Maurice," Brent laughed, "Is there any time you're not thinking about competing with others?"
"No," Maurice answered.
Adam couldn't help but laugh at the excitement of the boys. However, he had to admit, Maurice had a good idea. He would have to get with Cory soon to discuss it. He still had a few more things to talk to them about, so he moved on.
"Okay, now for the things that might get you guys a bit.. well, maybe upset." Seeing he had their full attention again, he went right into it. "Since you three are the leaders of your division, and with that fact that there are people out there that would like nothing else but to hurt any member of the Clan but specifically the leadership, you three are going to be assigned personal security."
Brent seemed a bit confused, "Adam, Cory hasn't even announced we are an official division yet, and plus we are so small, what makes you think anyone would be interested in doing anything to us?"
Maurice grinned, "Don't worry about it Brent, if they want to send some of their kids to watch us, as long as they don't get in the way, perhaps they will learn a thing or two when me and my boys kick the crap out of anyone that thinks about laying a finger on us."
Adam just shook his head, and looked first to Brent, "First off, the only reason it's not 'official' yet is because Cory has been too busy lately. But the fact is, you guys are a division. Now, as far as your size... well that won't last." Adam grinned at that, but kept right on talking, his smile quickly fading. "As far as why I'm concerned... it's rather simple. The Clan is making a lot of waves because we are doing what needs to be done, and we don't care who's toes we stomp on as we do it. As you know, last week we lost over sixty of our own, because some religious fucks didn't like what Uncle Mike was doing. There are people who will hate you simply because you guys are gay. Others because you are associated with a Vulcan Clan, and others who'll want to stop you from rescuing kids. So think about this carefully and make sure you understand what you're getting involved in. You guys will be in danger whether you know it or not."
Brent nodded, "Yeah, actually everything that happened there is part of the reason I've agreed to go along with taking on being an official division. Something needs to be done to all the assholes out there that feel they can have their way with doing whatever they want to kids, and get away with it."
Brent glanced toward Lance, and after getting a nod, turned back toward Adam, "Neither of us have any experience with being an official division, so I don't think we will mind taking your lead on this, if you feel we need to have a special security team. And actually, you answered another of my questions that I wasn't sure how to best address. When we were unofficial, we had a certain degree of additional latitude to do what needed to be done. Now that we'll be official, that creates the question of; just how much do I have to hold my guys back from 'not stepping on toes'?"
"For now, just ask one of my guys if you have a question, but I will let Cory deal with the specifics when he makes things official." Adam said, then turned to Maurice. "Now Maurice... please don't take too much offense to what I am about to say. We're not here 'playing army' or any of that shit. Nor are the people that would want to hurt you kids who are trying to be tough by playing in a gang. The kind of people that my guys would be protecting you from are the kind of people that could take on four or five street punks without breaking a sweet. These are the kinds of people that would not bat an eye at killing a hundred people just to make sure they get one. When you're dealing with gangs, it's a whole different ball game."
Adam paused for a moment to gather his thoughts, and make sure what he said wasn't too belittling. "When two gangs fight, most of the time there is a lot of posturing to make sure the person they're going after knows exactly who got them. They'll do a lot of posturing and grand standing to make them look big and tough, and try to make others think they are as well. The people that you need protecting from don't give a shit about that. All they care about is killing or hurting you. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure you're one hell of a tough guy, and your guys are as well, but you're into something so totally different than what you are used to."
"Now as far as my 'kids' watching as your guys kick the crap out of someone. Well let me say this, the people who'll be assigned to you guys for personal security are some of the best hand to hand fighters that we have. They were trained not only by myself, but also by my brother Chang. Chang is a martial arts expert who has more black belts than you have pubes. He can take myself AND Amur Khan, who is a seven foot six inch tall Tiger hybrid who weights well over four hundred pounds and can bench press cars. The last time the two of us tried to take on Chang we fought with live steel. Meaning our swords were real swords, not dulled blades or anything like that. I guess what I am trying to say is this, you'll each be getting a normal human, a enhanced human, and as long as you have no problems with it, a human cat hybrid. Any one of those three could probably take on three or four adults with good training in a fist fight... and walk away while the others were either beaten badly, or dead."
Maurice thought hard about what Adam had said. His first impulse, his street impulse told him to get pissed off at him. But, a combination of remembering how easy Adam was able to toss him around earlier, and the fact that the tone of voice that he was using was more that of a friend than a foe, caused Maurice to think twice. Finally he nodded in agreement, "I guess you're right. Things seem to happen a lot different here than on the streets. Who knows, maybe me and my guys will be able to learn something from these security guys. Especially if those hybrids are anything like the guards we saw outside of C.I.C."
Adam nodded and sighed a bit. "You just went up a notch in my book. I really was expecting some street punk reaction. Perhaps you really will work out in the Clan." Adam said the last part with a grin letting Maurice know he was joking... mostly.
"Okay, I think we covered most everything we need to. By tomorrow morning, the modifications to your facilitates should be well underway or even completed. Now, if you want, I'm about to have a meeting with Justin West, who will be the commanding officer of the military units assigned to your base. He doesn't know that he's about to be promoted, so the question I have is this. Would you like to meet him now, or if you want to go check on the others, you can meet him in the morning."
Brent turned to Lance. Lance in turn, checked his watch, "Actually we probably should check in with the others. We've been hear for almost two hours."
Brent was a bit surprised, "Seriously? Okay, yeah. Let's see how they are doing first then." Brent took out his communicator and flipped it open, "Brent to Evan?"
A few moments later, a tired sounding Evan could be heard, "Yeah Brent?"
"Hey, I just wanted to check in and see how the bear hunting is going?"
"Actually, we're done and Daileass has transported us back home. Most of the guys, including Maurice's guys have made a nest in the upper reception room. Everyone has their bears, including Haden. I'm tired out and am going to be heading to bed, but Haden is still chatting and working with Daileass on, well, whatever he works on."
"Cool," Brent replied, "Did Forth get to sleep okay?"
"Yup," Evan answered, with a slightly more amused voice, "We got him drugged up as soon as we got back, and he finally passed out about ten minutes ago. I think some of the bears were planning on using him as a lookout post for the night, but I'm pretty sure they were joking. At least I hope they were."
Brent laughed, "Okay, sounds good. Lance, Maurice, and I just finished up with our meeting with General Casey, and now we're going to go meet our base commander. So we'll probably be here for a bit longer."
"Base commander?" Evan's confused voice replied.
"It's a long story. Basically, there are a lot of cool changes that are going to be happening very quickly now that we are becoming an official division," Brent finished with a grin.
"Okay," Evan answered. "We'll see you when you get back then."
"Yup, Brent out." As Brent put his communicator back, he nodded toward Lance, who indicated he had heard the whole conversation.
"I guess we're good to meet our new commanding officer," Brent informed Adam with a smile.
"Cool," Adam said, then looked up towards the ceiling. "Hey Daileass, could you request that Justin West report to my office ASAP?"
"One step ahead of you boss," Daileass said with a snigger. "He's just about to enter CIC."
Adam just shook his head and told Daileass to tell Justin to just come in when he got there. Less then a minute later the door to Adam's office opened and in walked an older teen in full uniform. His hair was in the standard 'high and tight' that most military people wore, Brett guessed him to be about about five feet, nine inches tall with a slender swimmers build.
He walked up to Adam, snapped to attention, and saluted. "Captain Justin West reporting as ordered, Sir!"
Adam had stood and saluted back, which allowed Justin to drop his salute. "Thanks for coming Justin." Adam said as he indicated a seat for Justin to sit in, which Justin did, allowing Adam to sit back down as well. "First off, I would really like this to be an informal meeting, which means, if you're okay with it, lets drop the ranks and sirs and stuff like that. Okay?"
Justin visibly sighed with relief and smiled while he nodded. Adam smiled back helping to put the older boy more at ease. "Now, let me introduce the other people here. First we have the newest Division Director, Brent Knocks. He and his Assistant Directors, Lance Phillips and Maurice Thornes, are the leaders of the new 'Desert Division'. Right now they are based out of Las Vegas and, while it is not official yet," Adam pulled up a map of the United States on the holographic projected in the table, and started pointing out states. "Obviously they will be covering all of Nevada, but I am pretty sure they will also cover most, if not all, of Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and even here in Utah."
"We have to cover all that ourselves?" Brent gasped in surprise.
"Not all by yourselves. Other divisions will be helping out as well. For example, the Pacific Rim Division that we just finished setting up in Hawaii will be helping you with the the west coast states. Also, all divisions will always be available to lend a hand if you ever feel you're getting in over your head." Adam couldn't help but laugh at the shocked look on all their faces. Obviously they hadn't considered just how large of an area they would be covering. However, Adam was impressed by Justin. He sat in his chair and, while he was relaxed, he didn't let on to how he was feeling.
"The reason I wanted you here Justin is because I want to put you in charge of the Desert Division's military forces." Adam again was impressed, the only reaction that Justin gave was a slight raise of his eye brows.
"I would be honored Sir." Justin said leaning forward in his chair. "What exactly would I be responsible for?"
Adam leaned back in his chair and for the next half hour went over the details of what Justin would be responsible for, what his Standard Operating Procedures would be, and exactly what the relationship between Justin and the Division Directors would be. By the end of it, Justin was sent off to inform those that would create his command staff, and get everything ready to head over there in the morning.
With their heads swimming with all the information they had learned, a very worn out Brent, Lance and Maurice said their good-bye's to Adam and Logan, and had Daileass teleport them back home.