Without having to think, Evan nodded his head. "You aren't taking Haden anywhere without me unless you want a fight. I'll go."
"Great, thanks Evan," Daileass replied. "How quickly can you two be ready to go."
After getting a nod from Evan, Haden answered. "We're ready to go n...."
Haden didn't get a chance to finish his sentence before both he and his brother were gone, leaving several pairs of eyes now looking at two empty chairs.
"Everyone might as well get back to eating," Brent stated as he saw the large number of kids that were looking in his direction. "We don't have any more information on what's going on than you guys. But as soon as we hear anything, we will let everyone else know."
Slowly, kids began to go back to eating. However, for the rest of the meal, the entire atmosphere in the room was somehow different. Neither Brent nor Lance could help but think that Haden and Evan had now become the main topic of discussion for most of the kids that were there.
Haden and Evan appeared a few inches above the top of a tall building which overlooked a vast city-scape below.
"Whoa, it doesn't look like we're in Kansas anymore, Haden," Evan said as soon as he saw his unfamiliar surroundings. He walked closer to the edge of the building they were on and looked out in wonder. "What is this place?"
Haden, having been here a few times in the past, immediately recognized it. "This is Daileass's mental-scape," he replied as he joined his older brother at his side. "But I don't think I've ever seen it like this before!"
Looking down, Haden saw elements which very closely resembled the city scape he had always seen outside of the window in Daileass's mental-scape. Now, however, he could also see large chunks of the city floating up and flying to some other location, almost as if the city was chaotically trying to rearrange itself.
Further off in the distance, he saw something new which immediately sent chills down his spine, and caused him to instinctively move closer to his brother. The best way that either boy could describe what they were seeing was like a huge cyclone or tornado quickly spinning around in the distance with massive bolts of lightning shooting out from it in every direction.
"This is part of Daileass?" Evan asked with surprise. "I can see why he doesn't bring that many people here."
Haden shook his head. "It's not normally like this. Something has to be really wrong here. Daileass?"
"I'm here, guys," a shaky voice replied from behind the two boys, causing them to turn around. There, standing not far away was a blurred image of Daileass.
Haden stood there stunned as he looked at the odd manifestation, unsure what to do.
Daileass's image floated over toward the edge of the building so that he could look out over the city as well. "The link... it's destabilizing... I can't reconfigure servers fast enough to keep up with it."
Daileass's image flickered briefly as a rather large chunk of the city lifted off the ground, flying to the other side, leaving behind a huge crater.
"What link?" Haden asked worriedly. "The clone link? Is it because of me? Did I cause this?"
"No Haden!" Daileass replied with a bit more force than he had intended, which caused the younger boy to take a step backward. "Haden... Bro... time is short, but you must understand, you are not the cause of this. If anything, I hope you will be able to help me and my other brothers fix it."
Seeing that he had the smaller boy's attention, Daileass continued. "I'm not talking about our clone link either. I'm talking about a much larger link that binds together thousands of people. Everyone that is part of the UNIT, and to a lesser extent, everyone that's part of the clan."
Haden took another look at the city and the chunks of it flying around. "How can I help, are you damaged somehow?"
Daileass shook his head. "I can't control a link of this scope. This is Logan... A side of Logan I don't think you've ever seen, but if you think hard about it, a side of Logan you have always known was there ever since we added you to the link." Seeing Haden nod, he continued. "I don't really know what you can do to help yet. I just know that you are going to have to be strong for Logan, stronger than you ever have before. You might see some things that will scare the crap out of you, but every one of us, all his brothers and you, need to be strong..."
As Daileass said this, his image flickered again as it's blurriness increased slightly. "Can you do that, Haden? Can you be strong for Logan?"
Haden took a deep breath and rigidly nodded.
Daileass smiled. "Thanks Haden. I have you two here mid-teleport. I've already had you in the buffers a few more milliseconds than I can spare. So I need to finish the transport now."
"Where are we going? Where is Logan at?" Haden asked curiously.
"Russia," Daileass answered as his image was already fading away. "You are heading to St. Petersburg, in Russia. That is where Logan and the rest of us are at."
Moments later, darkness once again surrounded them.
Haden and Evan appeared inside a large room which had well polished wooden floors. The room could easily have been a sitting room or a foyer of some type. Neither boy had much time to look around, however, before the scene that was taking place in the room caught their eyes.
Very close to the center of the room, Adam Casey, the 14-year-old leader of the UNIT was sitting on the floor holding Logan's head in his lap, as he was desperately trying to comfort him. Several of the other Logan clones were in the process of moving toward Adam and Logan while off to the side, standing near a door that lead out of the room, Joe, Will, Billy, Jory, Runt, and the alpha and leader of the hybrids, Khan, stood with shocked expressions on their faces as they too looked on at what was happening near the center of the room.
Haden barely had enough time to take in what was happening around him, and to get his bearings before he heard a young voice calling out to him. "We need you too, Haden." Looking toward the voice, he saw Alvin, one of the 8-year-old Logan clones, beckoning Haden to join him as he and the other Logan clones were in the process of forming a circle around Adam and Logan.
Unsure of what he could do to help, or even know what was going on for that matter, Haden scrunched his face. But, feeling both the sincerity and desperation in the smaller boy's voice, Haden reluctantly left Evan's side to stand between Alvin and Simon in the circle around Logan.
No sooner had Haden stepped between the two chipmunks, a blinding flash of light streaked through his eyes as he winced from a spike of pain in his head. Logan lashed out from Adam's lap, "NO! Back off! You don't understand! None of you do! None of you can!"
"It's getting worse," Kaden weakly called out as he rubbed his forehead from the pain. Apparently, whatever it was that Haden had just felt, the others were feeling a lot worse. Even many of the guys that were watching off to the side seemed to be effected to some degree.
'What's going on? What's happening?' Haden mentally broadcast to the link, not realizing that for the first time, he was sending much faster than he would have normally been able to speak.
Within moments, Daileass's fractured voice began to bounce back and forth from seemingly random comm badges of those that were standing in the circle. "I'm... Stability.... Can't keep up..."
'It has something to do with the group of Bartnev slave kids that they just found here,' Alvin replied through the link. 'Something about them majorly affected him.'
'Couldn't we help him faster in the mental scape?' Haden sent in response, as he remembered how many times he had been helped over the last few days.
Theodore seemed to agree with Haden, as moments later he called out to the rest of those in the circle. "Guys, we need to pull him into the mental scape, and fast."
"Agreed," Simon affirmed.
"Whose?" Rainer replied with a concerned look on his face. "I don't know about you guys, but I can't get close to getting a lock on him."
'What does getting a lock mean?' Haden asked the link. 'He's right in front of us.'
'He means a mental lock. You have to have a lock on someone before you can push or pull them into someone else's head. Logan is more powerful than most of us combined. I can't get a lock on him either.' Nathen sent in frustration.
"Everyone..." Daileass's voice became slightly more forceful and determined, "Mine... Now!"
Moments later, the entire world around Haden began to go dark as normally happened whenever he was pulled into the mental scape. This time, however, it felt a lot sharper, as if he was being pushed or forced. The sensation was unpleasant, but only lasted moments before it was gone and he found himself in a large room that he at once recognized as Daileass's.
"Don't you guys get it? Can't you take a hint?" Logan, who was now several feet away from Adam, spoke loudly as his face was a mix between hurt and anger.
"Babe, they are just trying to help you." Adam soothed as he walked toward his love and reached out to embrace him, only to be stopped by some type of invisible barrier that was between them.
"This doesn't look right." Haden commented as he looked up. Everyone else looked up as well to see parts of the mental-scape blinking or phasing in and out of existence.
"The entire link that binds every single person in the UNIT together is beginning to fall apart." Daileass answered. "It's taking every ounce of my processing power to augment Logan enough try to keep it stable, but it's a loosing battle."
"What's that mean?" Evan asked cautiously.
"It means that if we don't come up with a solution fast, our older brother is going to really lose it, and when that happens the entire link goes poof!" Gabe answered.
"What happens if the link breaks?" Evan replied.
Simon shook his head. "Let's not even think about that, and just leave it at bad, okay? Really, really bad."
"I bought us a little time by bringing us here, but with me being as taxed as I am right now, trying to keep Logan stable, I'm having problems keeping this place stable as well. It would be helpful for us to come up with a solution quickly," Daileass replied as his face had a distant expression on it.
"Bro, please calm down. Don't you see what you're doing?" Gabe asked as he walked next to Adam.
"I said, back off!" Logan shouted, causing enough force to send both Adam and Gabe to the ground, and the others to lose their footing slightly.
Bringing everyone's attention to a large crack that was beginning to form on the floor, Zed huffed, "Uh guys? That looks bad! Really, really bad!"
Haden walked a bit closer to where Daileass was standing. "Come on, Daileass, I believe in you. I know you can hold things together."
"I'm trying Haden, I really am," Daileass answered, "most of my core processors are already running at 110% over normal, with a few way beyond that."
"Bro, what about your new systems? Maybe you should switch over to those?" Richard asked.
Daileass shook his head. "I'm already on the new systems. I had to bring all the remaining one's online about three minutes ago. There is no way the older systems would have come close to keeping up with this.
"Okay, we need solutions, people," Alvin stated, bringing everyone back to the problem at hand.
"Can't we force Logan to calm down?" Peter thought out loud.
"Maybe," Simon replied, "but that would surely cause the link to drop."
"Right, so someone else would need to serve as a proxy to help hold the link, so we can get Logan calmed down enough to deal with things." Theodore stated.
'Is it time?' Haden heard a young voice ask. The voice clearly came from someone much younger than he was, so Haden took a few moments to to look around, but saw no one.
"Sadly, it's not that simple," Daileass replied pulling Haden's attention back. "The link is just as much a part of Logan as Logan is a part of the link. It would not be possible for anyone else to take the entire link. The best that could be hoped for is for someone to be able to augment and support the link long enough for the rest of us to give Logan the help he needs."
"Who can do that?" Zed jumped in. "Huh? Huh? None of us I tell you, none of us can come close to doing what Logan does!"
"Why can't you do it? I've seen how vast your systems are." Haden hesitantly asked.
Daileass sighed. "With as powerful as our brains are Haden, we still have yet to surpass the power of a human biological brain. Who ever is going to support the link, they will have to be biological. As we speak, the weight of trying to augment the link is pushing my systems well beyond what they were designed to handle. It's only a matter of time before they start wearing out."
As soon as Daileass finished speaking, the entire world trembled, and everything dimmed out for a few moments.
"What was that?" Evan asked with concern.
"Damn it," Daileass replied. "As I feared, I just lost a core server, apparently trying to over-clock to 195% is a bit far."
"Holy crap, D. That's going to make a nice explosion." Todd grinned.
"What else do you want me to do?" Daileass shot back sharply.
"Guys," Alvin jumped in, "This isn't helping. We need a solution."
"You're right, Sorry." Daileass answered.
'Are you ready?' Haden heard the young voice ask again. As before, Haden glanced around looking for the source, but saw nothing.
Nathen, who had been silent up to now, spoke up. "What about Haden? His brain is biological, like Logan's."
"No!" Daileass instantly hollered, a bit more forceful than he had intended, which caused everyone to look toward him. "His brain is still getting use to the link. It's not even fully open to it yet. Trying to push all this and the larger link onto him now would most likely kill him."
"Then what do we do? Who else is there?" Zed asked as he became more nervous and jittery.
"I'll do it." Adam spoke up as he looked toward his love who was still in tears. "I'll support the link. Being N-Gen has to be worth something, just let me know what I have to do."
"No go." Alvin replied, "Adam, no offense, but trying to proxy the link would burn your brain out as well, N-Gen or otherwise."
Adam nodded. "If it means saving everyone else's life. That's a risk I'm willing to take."
There was another, slightly stronger tremor, followed by a more visible momentary fade of the world, signaling that another of Daileass's servers had been lost.
"Bro, you need to throttle back on those servers a bit." Tyce suggested with concern.
Daileass shook his head, "If I throttle any of them back now, I'll lose it... the link."
'Will you shun me?' Haden heard the young voice ask. This time, however, he did not bother to try to look for it.
"How do we do this, Alvin?" Adam asked, moving the conversation back to where it was.
Alvin shook his head. "It's not a question of 'how', Adam. It will burn your brain out so fast, there won't even be time to start talking to Logan, and your death will have been meaningless. I'm sorry bro."
Adam nodded and deflated. Among everything else, he hated being powerless the most.
"What about one of the telepaths?" Kaden asked.
"Who? If an N-Gen like Adam wouldn't be strong enough, which telepath would?" Simon asked.
"How about a group of them, working together?" Richard offered.
Theodore shook his head, "If we had enough time to work out a method for them to work together, and train their minds to be able to handle the link, that would be a huge long shot. But at the rate that D is burning up servers, I don't think we have the time for that."
As if to emphasize the point, there was yet another slightly larger tremor and fade, signifying that a third server had been lost.
"As I continue to lose servers, that will slowly further increase the load on my others." Daileass stated with a sigh, and a pained expression on his face.
"What other options are there, then?" Peter asked.
There was silence for several moments, as no one seemed to have an answer. The silence was soon broken by yet another tremor, which this time was so strong that several people were knocked to the ground, followed by a pained scream from Logan.
"That was two servers that time." Daileass sighed.
"There has to be another option. Things can't end like this." Theodor stated coldly.
"Perhaps I might be of assistance." The young voice that Haden had heard in his head, said. Only this time, it was spoken out loud and when he turned toward the direction of the voice, he saw a small boy dressed in a white robe who looked almost like he did, but was about three years younger.
Instantly, everyone in the group became alarmed as Alvin took a step forward to stand between the two Hadens. "Who are you?" he demanded.
"That's not important," The smaller Haden replied. "You need my help, and I'm offering it."
"Dude," Simon stepped up next to Alvin, "You shouldn't even be here. We're not doing anything until we know who the hell you are, and how you got here."
The smaller Haden sighed and walked toward Daileass. Before anyone could do anything, he reached his small hand up, and placed it on Daileass's back. Immediately, the low rumbling stopped and the mental-scape became completely solid.
"Whoa? How did you do that?" Daileass asked with surprise.
"What did you do?" Simon asked with concern.
The small Haden turned toward them with a serious look on his face. "I am helping Daileass in his attempt to augment the link, as you call it. It is not a fix, but it should help long enough for me to answer enough of your questions so that you will allow me to provide real help."
Daileass nodded, "I don't know what he did, but it did remove a lot of the pressure. I'm able to lower most of my processors down below 105%."
"Fine," Alvin spoke with a voice still filled with mistrust, "Now who are you, and how did you get in here."
The small Haden turned to look directly toward Alvin. "I will gladly share more of who and what I am, once the link has been stabilized and I can push the information to all of you. However, for now I will simply say that in your language, my name would be Ordathulonixorizivar. I am a Nyzerian. The last Nyzerian."
"Ordathillama..." Theodore began, and then shook his head. "That's a bit too long. Would you mind if we called you something shorter, maybe like Ordath?"
The small Haden nodded, "Ordath will be acceptable."
"Okay... Ordath," Alvin continued, "How did you get into Daileass's mental-scape, and why do you look like Haden?" Several of the boys looked over toward the real Haden and saw that he was still completely stunned and watching every move the smaller version of himself made.
"The answer is simple," Ordath began. "I look like Haden because I am a part of Haden. Likewise, I am in here, because Haden was brought in here."
"What do you mean?" Daileass spoke up to take over from Alvin. "How can you be a part of Haden. He's been in our link for the last two days. Either myself or one of my brothers would have felt you."
The small Haden grinned, "No offense, my friend, but your understanding of the human mind, and how the body and soul interact within the mind's nexus, and the multitude of mechanics that surround that is still very limited. You did not sense or feel me because I did not wish to be sensed or felt, and my essence can easily hide in places you haven't even considered that might exist, let alone access them. Besides that, I have been a part of Haden since he was born, which makes me just as much a part of him as it does him a part of me."
Simon looked between Alvin and Theodore, "Does that make any sense to either of you? That just went way over my head."
Alvin and Theodore both shook their heads.
"I don't know about everything he said, but what he has done to help me with keeping things stabilized is no small feat." Daileass added.
Ordath turned his attention toward Daileass. "You. You are one of the stronger ones here. And you have a close affinity toward the boy. I shall make myself more visible within him. Open your mind up now, and look deep within him."
Daileass looked like he was about to reply, but stopped short as he tilted his head, looking toward the real Haden. Haden got a concerned look on his face and took a step back. Daileass, for his part, started out with a curious expression which soon turned to a surprised expression.
'Fear me not,' Haden heard the voice of his younger self say within his head.
"Damn." Daileass stated, which caused all eyes to turn toward him. "I don't completely understand it. But there is definitely something there. Something big and vast. Something that... that words don't really... what ARE you?"
"Um guys," Adam got everyone's attention as he sat a few feet away from Logan, who was now laying on the ground. Logan was visibly shaking as the small area directly around him was beginning to warp and distort the visible objects near him.
"He's beginning to fade." Ordath stated, "There is not much time. I told you that I will share more about myself later, but now you must choose whether you will accept my help or not."
Theodore shared a glance with Alvin and Simon, and then looked out at the expressions on the rest of his brother's faces. "I don't really think there is any other choice. So do whatever it is that you can do to take the link."
"Thank you," the small Haden nodded, "But I can not take the link directly."
"But you just said..." Todd stated before he was cut off by Ordath raising his hand.
"Haden is the one who must take the link," Ordath continued, "I can simply make it possible so that he may do so without any significant harm coming to him."
"Me?" Haden squeaked out in surprise.
"Wait! No way!" Daileass immediately jumped in with his voice full of concern. "We've already considered that option. I'm not willing to expose Haden to that much danger with his mind still getting use to a small fraction of the link."
Ordath looked directly toward Daileass. "You of all people should know that Haden is much more than he seems. The way his mind has developed over the years is unlike most other humans."
Daileass nodded. "I know, but still, I know how much power runs through the link, and how much of a burden just trying to augment it can be. And... well... I just want to make sure he will be safe."
"For a short time, yes." Ordath nodded. "He would not be able to support it long term, mind you. But he should be fine supporting it long enough for the rest of you to give Logan the help he needs."
"What..." Haden began to say with hesitation, "What do I need to do?"
The smaller Haden looked up into the air, "You must feel the link inside of Logan and allow yourself to become one with..." Seeing that he had already completely lost Haden, he stopped and thought for a few moments. "Actually, let's try this another way."
After waiting a few more moments, Ordath walked a few steps forward and looked toward the ground. "Since we are already in a mental-scape, I think I know what will work better." A few moments later, two golden metallic spheres about 4 inches in diameter appeared about 2 feet apart from each other, and about 3 feet above the ground. They were connected to the ground with transparent tubular conduits that had what looked like red plasma energy quickly moving around in them. The conduits each connected to a large thick transparent cable. They each also had the fast moving red plasma energy in them, and they each ran off in opposite directions as far as the eye could see.
Before anyone had a chance to ask, Ordath answered everyone's question. "This is a physical manifestation of the Link. The energy that you see within the conduits and cables is red because of the discord and fracturing that currently exists within it. It will continue to get darker and darker until the link fails completely. What Haden must do is to place a hand on each of the two golden orbs. If he is successful in augmenting the link, the color of the energy will change from red to white."
"So... I just have to touch Logan's balls to help support the link?" Haden asked carefully.
Had the situation been any less grave, some of the kids might have burst out in fits of laughter. Although, since Haden had made his comment without realizing it's alternative meaning, everyone managed to hold any thoughts of laughter within them.
Ordath nodded. "The orbs... yes."
Haden nodded and took a few steps closer to the golden orbs.
"Just so you know," Ordath continued, which caused Haden freeze in his tracks, "When you touch the orbs, you might feel a strange tingling sensation. But I assure you, no harm will come to you."
Haden nodded, and looked first toward Evan, and then toward Daileass. After getting nods of encouragement from each of them, he moved to stand directly in front of them.
"Are you sure *I* can do it? Maybe someone like Daileass or Tyce will do better?" Haden asked with concern.
Ordath shook his head. "If anyone else here other than you or Logan were to touch both orbs, their minds would be reduced to cinders in a matter of seconds."
"What about you?" Haden asked nervously, "You're me, right? So can't you do it?"
"I would if I could, Haden. But, even in the mental-scape, I have no physical substance. The only true support that I can ever really give you is the knowledge that I possess." To emphasize this, Ordath walked toward one of the orbs and reached out his hand toward it, but his hand went right through the orb. "It must be you, Haden. You need to believe in yourself. You can do this, I've been a part of you since the day you were born, watching as you've grown and developed. I know that you can do this. Now you must believe in yourself to know that you can do it as well."
"Come on, Haden, we believe in you." Daileass gave Haden a vote of confidence, followed by everyone else giving their support as well.
Haden nodded and took in a deep breath. With a determined look on his face, he slowly raised his hands and placed them a few inches above the orbs. A few moments later, he closed his eyes tight, and allowed his hands to fall on the orbs. Almost immediately, Haden let out a small yelp of surprise as his entire body began to glow.
"Haden!" Evan called out as he began to run toward his little brother, in case something was wrong. He quickly slowed down, however, as Haden gave no other sign of distress.
"It feels... weird... different..." Haden commented in voice that was unusually lower, and more hoarse than normal for him as the link began to flow through him, "But... I think I'm okay."
"Why is it still red?" Tyce asked. "Didn't you say it would turn white?"
Ordath nodded. "Haden, you need to concentrate on making the energy white."
"I don't know how." Haden replied.
Ordath walked around Haden so he could look at his face, "Imagine it in your mind. Imagine seeing the red energy in your mind, and imagine it turning white. Just use your imagination, Haden, and it will work."
Haden sat there for several seconds. "Nothing's happening..." Haden began to say as the red energy began to take more of an orange color.
"Your doing it, Haden!" Daileass cheered.
Haden nodded, and with a look of sheer concentration and focus on his face as he sucked on his lower lip, the color of the energy continued to change from orange, soon becoming yellow, and finally a brilliant, bright white.
"You did it, Haden! I knew you could!" Evan jumped up and cheered as he went to give his younger brother a hug. In the blink of an eye, Ordath was no longer standing in front of Haden, but was now standing behind him, and blocking Evan from being able to touch his little brother.
"Don't touch him." Ordath shook his head, "The results would be very bad for you."
Evan realized what he nearly did and immediately backed down. "Sorry."
"No harm was done. All is fine." Ordath replied.
"This is really strange," Haden commented, "It's like I can hear things... voices... or something, there a little distant, but hear them."
Ordath nodded, "You are hearing the thoughts of everyone that is a part of the link. But right now, you need to ignore them, and focus on keeping the link white."
Haden looked at the wires and saw the energy was turning yellow again. A few moments later, after Haden went back to concentrating on it, the color changed back to white.
"Now." Ordath said turning to the others. "Now is the time for you to help Logan. Haden is supporting the link, and I shall continue to guide Haden in his efforts to the best of my abilities. But as I said, this will not be a long-term thing, so do what you must to aid your friend."
Once Ordath had finish speaking, Daileass and the rest of the Logan Clones re-formed their circle around their older brother. A few moments after that, a large shimmering sphere of energy seemed to engulf the entire group. At first, the shadows of those in the group could easily be made out, but soon, those seemed to fade within the mist inside the sphere as well.
"Ordath!" Haden cried out.
"It's alright," Ordath held up his hand, as he tilted his head. "Interesting. It would seem that yet another presence is here. The likes of which I have seldom felt before."
"Will they be alright?" Haden asked with concern.
Ordath nodded. "I sense no belligerent intents. I believe they will be fine."
"What about my little brother? Will he be fine?" Evan asked as he took a few steps toward Ordath while glancing toward Haden.
"I'm fine, I think," Haden answered. "I just feel a little tired, that's all?"
Ordath smiled. "That's actually a good sign."
"How is that good?" Evan asked as he focused his gaze back on the six-year-old.
"Augmenting the link in the manner that Haden is, is extremely mentally stressful and taxing. The fact that he is only feeling slightly tired is promising, as I have not really started to help augment him yet." Ordath answered as he walked back toward Haden and began looking him up and down.
"How will you be able to help him?" Evan asked, becoming more curious.
"Hum, That's actually a good question. There are a number of different ways. Ah, I think I know a good way. Here, eat this." As Ordath spoke, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small piece of candy. He then plopped it into Haden's mouth.
"Wow, this tastes good. What is it?" Haden asked as he began sucking on the candy.
Ordath tilted his head. "I guess you can call it mental placebo candy. It's sugary taste will help keep your mental energy up.
Completely missing the point of the name, Haden nodded. "Yeah, it tastes really yummy, and I don't really feel as tired anymore." Evan let out a small giggle as he did understand the meaning of the name. "What?" Haden asked, looking back toward his brother.
Evan shook his head. "Nothing bro, I'm just glad you are enjoying your candy."
Haden was about to reply when several disturbing images flashed through his head, which caused him to wince in pain. Although the images flashed by quickly enough for Haden to not recognize most of them, there was one image of a man beating a child so badly that blood was everywhere, which stuck out.
Ordath immediately became as concerned as Evan. "Haden's mind is starting to become more comfortable with augmenting the link that I think he is starting to get some of the pain and anguish that some of the kids that have been rescued and are a part of the link have had."
"That's terrible," Evan replied with alarm. "I know first hand that the stories of a lot of those kids is pretty bad. Is there anything we can do?"
Ordath shrugged. "I don't think so, the entire link has to be open to Haden for him to augment it. The only thing we might be able to do is to distract him."
Evan looked toward Haden. "So Hade, can you think of any questions to ask Ordath?"
Haden shook his head. "Not really. I still don't know anything about him."
"Actually, that's probably a great question. Who exactly are you?" Evan asked as he looked back to the smaller Haden.
"That is probably as good of a place to start as any," Ordath sighed as he prepared to start his story. "As I already said, my people are known as Nyzerians. We are primarily energy based entities. A much more complicated form of life and spirit energy that I don't believe your language has the proper terms to describe, but energy based will suffice. As far as any of us know, we first came into existence millions of years ago."
After seeing that he still had their attention, Ordath continued. "We were a proud race. We had a number of abilities that let us do many things, such as easily traveling back and forth between different dimensions. As a race, we acquired a vast amount of knowledge and technology in just about any field that you could think of. Being energy based also meant that we had extremely long lives. In fact, many other races called us immortal, since it is not believed that any Nyzerian has ever died of natural causes. Sadly, I am the last Nyzerian left."
"Wait," Haden interrupted. "If your people are suppose to be immortal, how can you be the last one left?"
Ordath sighed. "I said we do not believe a Nyzerian has died of natural causes. Usually, after one of us has existed long enough, we can dissipate our energy across the cosmos, thus returning to that from which we came."
"You mean killing yourselves?" Haden asked.
Ordath nodded. "It is more than that, but your term fits. There are also other, unnatural ways to die."
"Like what?" Haden asked curiously.
"As I said, our race had managed to acquire very powerful knowledge and technology. For example, it was possible for us to literally cause stars to explode. About 40,000 years ago, a large disagreement developed among members of my race in regards to what to do with this technology, and who to share it with. As a result of this disagreement, my people were split into three different factions, and a large civil war broke out amongst us," Ordath stated as a single tear trickled down his cheek.
"That sounds terrible," Haden replied as a strange look flashed across his face. "Hey, Evan?"
"Yeah, bro?" Evan replied.
"Do you remember earlier how Daileass was describing the link as a huge link that connected all the kids in the UNIT together?" Haden asked and waited until his brother nodded. "Well, I'm not completely sure if I'm understanding this right, but I get the feeling that there are a lot more people that are a part of this link than just UNIT kids."
A slight smile crept across Ordath's face. "That's a good observation Haden, and you would be correct, there are a lot more people effected by this than anyone realizes, including Logan himself. Or at least who you perceive Logan as being."
"What's that mean?" Haden asked curiously. "Are you saying Logan is not Logan?"
Ordath looked toward Haden as if trying to decide how to answer. "I would rather not answer that question just yet, as I do not wish to risk changing your perception of Logan."
"So what happened with that civil war?" Evan asked, as he tried to change the subject back to Ordath's story.
Ordath slowly nodded in agreement. "This civil war lasted for nearly a thousand years. When it was over, many of my people were no longer in existence. Those of us who were left were scattered across the vast dimensions of the universe. Sadly, although the war was over, the hatred members of the different factions had for each other lived on. Thus, our aggression toward each other continued on for thousands of years after that. Finally, about ten thousand years after it started, all the Nyzerians had been killed, except for me. My reward for being the last, was to spend the next thirty thousand years roaming around alone."
Haden sighed. "That's awful. Couldn't you make any new friends from the other races?"
Ordath couldn't help but give a small smile in response to Haden's simple answer. "Believe it or not, Haden, I tried. I wandered around and floated between dimensions which allowed me to watch entire civilizations rise and fall. Sometimes I would interact a little with the low races, but that interaction would be similar to how you interact with a pet dog or cat. Occasionally I would bump into another middle race, but it would almost never work out. You see, during our ten thousand year war, the Nyzerians had created a rather bad name for themselves, and very few of those entities would want to have anything to do with me for that long.
"Finally, after floating around for what seemed like an eternity, and experiencing all that I thought I could experience, I came to the decision that it was time for the last Nyzerian to move on, and become part of the multiverse as all Nyzerians that had come before me had done." Ordath stopped for a few moments to make sure that Haden understood what he was saying. After getting a nod from the boy, he continued. "Given how lonely I was, I had decided that I would end my existence slightly different. You see, existing as an energy based life form, we can't experience the same things that corporeals could. One of the things that we had learned is how to merge or blend ourselves with a lower sentient, and as such be able to experience everything that they did. The only draw back to this, was that it was a one-way trip. When the physical shell of that sentient died, our energy would die as well."
"So... You became a part of me so that you could die?" Haden asked carefully.
Ordath shook his head. "No Haden, I became a part of you so that I could live. You see, beings such as yourself who have very finite lifespans will often try to shove everything they can into that short amount of time. For us, it would not be uncommon to spend years or decades floating through the vastness of space with no company other than our own thoughts. By blending with you, I had an opportunity to really live and experience life one last time."
"But why my brother?" Evan asked seriously. "What made you choose Haden out of everyone else?"
Ordath shrugged. "I don't really know. Maybe Fate... maybe random chance... maybe it was influenced by a higher entity... maybe a little of each... For whatever reason, as your spirit was binding to your body after you had been conceived, I was attracted to you as well."
"Is that why..." Haden began to ask as the expression on his face changed to one of confusion and then to concern. "Ordath? I think someone is hurt."
"One of the people you are feeling through the link?" Evan asked.
Haden thought for a few more moments and shook his head. "There are people feeling hurt through the link because of what they have been through. But no, this is different. This is a closer feeling."
"Like Logan, or some of the guys that are in that bubble with him?" Evan replied with concern.
"The pocket that you refer to as the bubble is sealed, with its time flow out of sync from ours, so Haden would not be able to perceive anything within it." Ordath offered.
Although Haden desperately wanted to ask more about how there could be different times existing at the same time in a mental-scape, what Haden was feeling seemed more pressing. "I don't think this is coming from the bubble either. But still, it seems close by."
Evan began to around. "Close by? We are in the middle of nowhere. The only thing anywhere around us is that bubble and..." Evan's voice trailed off when he finally looked behind himself and saw the faint outline of a door about 30 feet away, partially obscured by shadows. "Okay, that door wasn't there earlier."
"Maybe, maybe not," Ordath stated as he looked toward the door as well. "What you see in the mental-scape is nothing more than the physical manifestation of shared consciousness."
"What?" Evan asked in confusion.
"Basically, the door that we are starting to see may have been here the entire time. We are only now seeing it when Haden's mind touched on whatever is behind it, giving it more importance and as a result, physical cohesion.
"Then let's check..." Haden began to say before he realized that he wouldn't be able to move anywhere without letting go of the balls that were being used to keep the link stable.
"You should probably wait there while Ordath and I go to check it out," Evan suggested.
"Actually, we would probably need Haden with us," Ordath replied.
"How? You said he has to stay there," Evan reminded Ordath.
"You are right, I did say that, didn't I?" Ordath agreed with a nod as he thought to himself. "I don't suppose I could teach you to segment your conscious thoughts, can I?"
"You want to cut me in half?" Haden asked with concern.
Ordath shook his head. "Not exactly. This mental-scape is not a true physical place. It is only what our minds mentally perceive as being physical. So, as a matter of example, although it might look like I'm standing 10 feet away from you right now, there is no true physical distance between us."
"Okay," Haden replied slowly as he thought he understood what Ordath was saying.
"So, the only true physical limitations that exist here are those limitations that you create yourself based on what you believe to be the normal laws of physics." Ordath continued. "The only thing that is preventing you from being both over there and and here at the same time..."
"...is that the fact that I believe it's not possible?" Haden finished.
"Precisely," Ordath agreed.
"How does Haden make his mind believe something that's not real?" Evan asked.
"Haden has done it before," Ordath stated.
"I have?" Haden asked before a look of realization crossed his face. "The first time Daileass brought me into the mental-scape. I was able to make my GEAR disappear."
Ordath nodded with a smile.
"Hum," Haden said slowly as he closed his eyes and tried concentrating.
"Whoa!" Evan called out in surprise a few moments later, causing Haden to open his eyes. When he did this, he saw that he was now standing next to his older brother.
"Impressive," Ordath stated as he looked off to the side.
When Haden looked in the direction that Ordath was looking, for a brief moment, he saw another Haden standing next to, and touching the two golden balls. A moment later, however, his perception changed, and he was now back to touching the balls. Expecting to see another Haden standing next to his brother, Haden looked toward Evan, but saw no one. "What happened?"
"That was a very good first try," Ordath stated. "I don't think your mind is completely ready to truly except you being in two places at once, but you seem to have creating something similar. I guess it could be said to be an echo or ghost of yourself. It wasn't until you saw yourself that your consciousness shifted back."
"Um, if you say so," Haden replied.
"Try doing that again, Haden," Evan encouraged. "And this time, don't look back."
Haden shrugged and closed his eyes. Once again, a few moments later when he opened them he was standing next to his brother. "Like that?" he grinned.
Evan nodded with a smile before he looked toward Ordath. "Now can we investigate the door?"
Ordath nodded in agreement as the three of them walked toward the short distance that separated them from the door. As they got closer, the door became easier to say as the myst of shadows around it retreated.
Evan reached out for the door handle, but his hand went right through it when he tried to grab it. "I think this is why you had to come with us, bro." Evan stated as he looked toward Haden.
Haden nodded, reached up and grabbed the handle, and slowly turned it. The door slowly cracked open. As it did, a dark room was revealed with nothing other than a small dim light shinning down from the center of the room. Lying on the floor, directly under the light was Logan. Only Logan was not wearing his normal UNIT uniform, but was instead dressed in a white jumpsuit.
"Logan?" Haden called out as he ran over toward the older boy. "Ordath, how can Logan be in here if he is out in that bubble with the rest of his brothers?"
"I am not sure," Ordath answered truthfully as he and Evan walked closer toward Haden, and Logan. Logan was lying on his back with his hands folded on his chest. Logan's face had a peaceful expression on it as his chest slowly raised up and down.
"It looks like he's asleep," Haden offered. "Should I try to wake him up?"
"I see no harm in trying," Ordath replied. "But it is possible that you will be unsuccessful."
Haden nodded. Determined to at least try, Haden turned back toward the sleeping Logan and began to shake the teen's shoulders. "Logan? Logan? Wake up, Logan. Come on, wake up."
Logan opened his eyes and sat up.
"Logan, are you okay?" Haden asked immediately. "What are you doing here? Where are the rest of your brothers?"
Logan tilted his head and then looked around the room. "Anomalous entity. You do not belong here."
"What do you mean?" Haden asked with concern. "I'm trying to help you. All of your brothers are here to help you."
"Operational imperatives compromised," Logan stated calmly. "Unresolvable functional enigma encountered rendering purpose irrelevant."
"Would you mind repeating that?" Evan asked. "Perhaps in English?"
"Fascinating, truly fascinating," Ordath commented. "I've never seen compartmentalization on this level before in corporeals."
"Huh?" Haden asked. "Do you know what's wrong with him?"
"I don't believe this is Logan at all," Ordath answered. "At least not the Logan you know."
"What do you mean?" Evan asked. "Of course it is Logan, we can see him right in front of us."
"I said it isn't the Logan you know," Ordath stated. "I believe this is a segmented manifestation of a shard of Logan's sub-consciousness."
"Is that a bad thing?" Haden asked with concern.
Ordath shook his head. "No. In a way, it's similar to the trick I just taught you. It's just on a much larger, and more complex scale."
"So, why is he here?" Evan asked.
Instead of answering, Ordath glanced to one side of the room. When Haden and Evan turned to look, they saw a small golden orb suspended about 3 feet off the ground by a small transparent tube with a single dark blood red string of plasma energy dangling from it and disappearing into the floor.
"That looks like a smaller version of the orbs I'm holding," Haden stated just before Haden's image faded away.
Evan looked a bit shocked and was just about to ask Ordath what happened when Haden reappeared. "Sorry," Haden stated. "My concentration got messed up again."
Evan and Ordath both nodded. "Why is there only one thread of energy in the tube? The one Haden was linking had lots and lots of threads," Evan asked.
"If I had to guess, I would say that it is because it only controls one aspect of a much more complicated link." Ordath replied.
"So he's a slave?" Haden asked with concern. "He always has to stay here to support the link?"
"I believe it is his function, yes," Ordath agreed. "However, he's not really a slave in the way that you might think."
"How is he not a slave? Is he allowed to leave?" Haden challenged.
"You are perceiving him as the physical manifestation of who you know to be Logan, since that is the closest thing your mind can equate to him," Ordath replied, "However, he is not sentient being as you and I are, any more than your toaster is a sentient being."
"What do you mean? Of course he is. Tell him, Logan!" Haden stated as he turned his attention back to Logan, who had not moved.
"Unexpected interrogation, negative response," Logan replied.
"Huh?" Haden asked Logan curiously.
Ordath gently touched Haden on his shoulder. "From the best that I can tell, what you are seeing is nothing more than a functional adjunct with a sub-set of autonomous characteristics that allow it to dynamically adjust to unique situations, but only in the context of it's purpose.
"The purpose of managing the link?" Evan jumped in.
"Or at least a small segment of the link," Ordath replied. "But in essence, yes."
"So why do we see him as a real person?" Haden challenged.
"I do not know for certain," Ordath admitted. "As I said, I have never seen this degree of compartmentalization before. It is very complex. Perhaps it is that complexity that gives it the form we interpret it as."
"That still doesn't make sense," Haden sighed.
Order thought for a few moments. "Okay, let me try putting it another way. Think of the Logan that you see in front of you as the Network Administrator, Network Technician, and the servers to the network itself all rolled up into one. All of those elements can be very important, and very complex, but only in respect to the purpose they were created for."
"Oh!" Haden replied as a light seemed to go on in his eyes. "Okay, now I get it."
"I still don't," Evan sighed. "But I think I'll leave the really geeky stuff to you two."
Ordath nodded with a grin.
"I guess the real question is, how do we help him?" Evan asked.
"I am not certain," Ordath replied. "It is possible that we can not help him."
"We'll see about that," Haden called out as he grabbed Logan's arm and started trying to pull the older boy up. "Come on, Logan, you're way too heavy, even in the mental-scape."
To Evan and Ordath's surprise, Logan stood up. As soon as he did, Haden led him over to the golden sphere.
"Okay, you need to get back to work, I'm not going to be able to keep these links together forever," Haden stated.
"Operational imperatives compromised," Logan began to say before Haden interrupted him.
"Then un-compromise them," Haden replied as he tried pulling one of Logan's hands toward the golden sphere. As soon as he managed to get the hand to touch the sphere, Logan's entire body stiffened.
"Compliance," Logan stated as he brought his other hand up to also hold the sphere.
Haden took a step back from Logan and watching. It only took a few moments for the thin dark read thread to begin glowing orange, then yellow, and finally white. "That worked?" Haden asked as he looked toward Ordath.
"Surprisingly, it does appear to have worked," Ordath commented. "I believe our work here is now done."
"Cool," Haden smiled with satisfaction.
"Great job, bro," Evan praised as the three walked through the door and out of the room.
Trying to keep his eyes low and not accidentally see his other self holding the two golden link balls, Haden noticed another door further down the wall. "Um guys? There is another door over there."
Evan looked toward Ordath before he shrugged his shoulders. "Maybe we should check that door out as well?"
As soon as Ordath nodded in agreement, all three boys made their way toward the second door. Entering the new room, they were once again faced with a sight that looked very similar to the last room. A Logan dressed in white clothes was laying in the center of the room.
"It's the same thing," Haden commented.
"Not completely the same," Evan offered as he pointed toward the side of the room for the single golden ball was at. "The thread of energy going down that tube is a lot thicker than the thin thread that we saw in the other room."
"A good observation," Ordath complemented, "You are indeed correct. I believe the adjunct in the last room managed the smaller links, in this case, the personal family link between Logan, Adam, Chang, and his other immediate family. I believe this link is the full UNIT link."
Haden shrugged his shoulders as he made his way toward the sleeping Logan. "Either way, we should probably get this guy back to work as well."
Other than being a little more difficult to wake up, It only took a few minutes to get this Logan back up on his feet, and over to the golden sphere. By the time the stream of energy had turned from dark red to white, the entire room was brightly illuminated.
"So, just how many rooms with sleeping Logan's are there?" Evan asked as the boys made their way out of the second room.
"That is a good question," Ordath replied. "I would guess at least one for each link."
"Hum, I wonder..." Haden allowed his voice to trail off as he concentrated for a few moments. Shortly after that, a GEAR device appeared on Haden's arm, causing a huge grin to grow across his face. After pressing a few buttons, Haden held his arm out and a bright light shot out from the GEAR.
"You could have just thought about it getting lighter," Ordath replied. "But I guess that way works as well."
"Um... guys?" Evan called out with a slight hint of concern in his voice.
Haden immediately knew what Evan was concerned about, since his mind was trying to take the sight in as well. Going for almost as far as they could see, the wall was lined up with door after door. "That's a lot of doors."
"You can say that again," Evan replied.
"That's a lot of doors," Haden stated a second time, just for good measure.
"I think it's clear that there are a lot more links here than anyone had realized," Ordath jumped in before Evan could reply.
"Do we need to help all of them?" Haden asked with concern as he could feel himself getting tireder.
"I don't think so," Ordath answered. "Assuming the others are making progress with the real Logan, if we help a few more, that should be good enough to let the rest get back up on their own.
"Good," Haden replied as he faded away for a few moments and reappeared.
In all, the boys were able to help three more of the Logans before Haden was no longer able to concentrate enough to keep himself split from his true self.
"Sorry guys," Haden sounded somewhat deflated as he held onto the two golden link balls. "I'm just too worn out do that split thing anymore."
"Do not feel bad, Haden," Ordath did his best to reassure him. "You were able to accomplish far more than even I would have expected you to be able to pull off. Now, the only thing we can do is wait and see what progress the others are able to make."
Haden nodded. "How much longer do you feel it will be?"
As if on cue, a very faint tremor could be felt for a few moments, as the white energy in the conduits leading up to the golden spheres slowly shifted from white to light blue.
"Ordath!" Haden called out. "Something's happening. Something's changing."
Ordath looked up in the air, as he concentrated for a few moments. Finally, he began to smile. "I think that's a good thing Haden. Tell me, what do you feel? What is different?"
Haden thought for a few moments. "I don't know. It's just different somehow. I'm not sure how to describe it, maybe it's a lighter feeling, or less pressure on my head."
Ordath nodded. "Very good. That's exactly what it is. I believe that your link friends have been successful in helping Logan deal with what he needed to deal with, and he is beginning to re-stabilize the links."
Moments later, the large sphere of energy dissipated, and Daileass and the rest of the Logan clones could be seen. Notably missing from the group was Adam and Logan. In their place, however, was a rather tall, middle aged oriental man wearing a strange looking pointed hat that seemed to be made out of straw.
"You guys are alright?" Haden called out. "Where is Logan, and Adam?"
"Who's your new friend?" Evan added.
Everyone in the group walked toward where Evan, Haden, and Ordath were standing.
"All is fine, and as it should be, at least for now." The tall man stated in a firm, yet strangely comforting voice.
"Adam and Logan have left the mental scape, and are in the process of being teleported somewhere that Logan can get some rest." Daileass stated.
Alvin stopped and looked toward the tall man, "Oh, you guys have not met him yet. But this is our teacher, Takamura."
Evan waved toward the man, who bowed slightly back.
Haden was about to wave, but quickly caught himself. "Hey, um guys? Is it safe for me to take my hands off of Logan's balls yet?" he asked in such a way as only a nine-year-old could ask.
Although the seriousness of what they were faced with at the time allowed most of them to ignore the comment the first time Haden made it, now there was no stopping it. Nearly everyone lost it and broke out in a fit of laughter.
"What?" Haden asked questionably.
"Nothing, Bro," Daileass stated as he walked up to Haden. "Yes, you can stop touching them now."
Haden nodded and pulled his hands away away from the spheres. Once he did this, the sphere, the conduits, and the large cables running off into the distance, slowly began to fade away. At the same time, Haden became very light headed and began to wobble.
"Gotcha!" Daileass said just as he caught Haden before he fell. He then pulled the confused boy up into his arms. "You did an awesome job, bro," Daileass stated as he gave Haden a huge hug.
Haden nodded. "Whoa, I don't feel so good."
"You're probably going to be a bit disoriented for a few minutes, as your brain re-adjusts to not having the entire force of all the inks flowing through it," Ordath stated as he looked toward Haden and Daileass. "But it is nothing to worry about."
"Thanks for your help, Ordath." Alvin said seriously as he walked up to the smaller Haden. "Will we be seeing more of you?"
Ordath nodded. "You are welcome. And, what is the expression? The cat is out of the bag? I am sure in time we shall meet again."
"Hey guys?" Daileass said as he gently rocked Haden in his arms. "I need to do some serious server resource reallocation to start getting most of the clan's resources back online. I think this is a good time for us to jump out of the mental-scape."
Everyone nodded. Then, one by one, they each disappeared.
Daileass looked down into Haden's eyes. "You've made me prouder of you today than I ever thought possible. Thank you." As he said this, Daileass gave Haden a kiss on his forehead.
Haden beamed with pride as the world dissolved around him. Moments later Haden found himself standing in the circle that he and the other Logan clones were standing in earlier. Only this time, not only were Adam and Logan gone, but so were the group of people that had been standing and watching off to the side.
Almost instantly, Haden lost his balance and began to fall.
"Careful there, Haden," Simon said as he and Alvin were easily able to steady him, and prevent him from toppling over.
"I think we might need to find somewhere for Haden to lay down for a bit as well," Tyce replied as he walked toward Haden and the two chipmunks.
Haden shook his head. "I think I'll be fine. But I'm really hungry, is there anything to eat around here?"
Alvin nodded as he grinned. "We'll help Haden find something to eat,"
"Then we'll help find him a bed," Simon added as the two boys led Haden out of the room, quickly followed by Evan.
Maurice, Andrew, and Carlos were quietly talking among themselves as they walked out from the cafeteria, assuming that huge place could be called that. Unlike many of the other kids that were talking about Haden and Evan's hasty disappearance during dinner, they were talking more about the future and how things may be changing for them. Each of them knew that they were part of the Clan now, which meant being a part of a huge family, but none of them really seemed to feel like they fit in.
Although the three teens planned to meet up with the rest of the gang at the quads so that they could check out their new rooms, they were stopped when another kid nearly ran into them as they were passing the C.I.C. building. The kid, who had bright red hair and accompanying red freckles, was perhaps ten or eleven. The fact that he was dressed in a UNIT Uniform immediately gave away the fact that he was part of the military kids. More importantly, the fact that he was carrying three rather large boxes which partially obstructed his view is what caused them to nearly collide.
"Whoa, careful there." Maurice called out has he and the other two, who up to this point were still lost in their own world, moved out of the way.
"Sorry!" The boy called out as he tried to turn around to see who he nearly ran into as his boxes began to shift and fall.
Maurice reached out to help steady the boxes. "You got all those?"
"I'll manage." The boy stated as he set the boxes down and looked up toward Maurice, "But thanks man. I guess that's what I get for trying to take everything in one load."
"Where you taking all that?" Andrew asked.
"Take what? Oh, these boxes? Yeah, I'm taking them to the quads." The red head replied. "Speaking of which, you guys wouldn't happen to know how to get there, would you?"
Maurice, Andrew, and Carlos looked at each other for a moment before Maurice answered. "Yeah, you just follow this walkway, and you should be able to see them as soon as you pass the pool complex."
The boy smiled, "Cool, thanks! Say, aren't you Maurice?"
"Um, yeah." Maurice cautiously replied.
"I thought so," the boy replied. "You're one of the people that Justin was talking about wanting to talk to at some point. I think he's still in his office if you want to talk to him."
Maurice was slightly confused as Andrew and Carlos grinned at the fact that a ten year old may have just gotten a one-up on Maurice. Not to be seen as being caught too far off guard, Maurice quickly replied. "Yeah, I was actually planning on talking to him anyway. Thanks."
"You could go do that now if you want." Carlos offered, "Andrew and I can help lil' dude with his boxes."
Maurice shrugged, "Okay."
With that, Andrew and Carlos each took one of the boys boxes, and the three made their way for the quad buildings as Maurice headed toward the C.I.C. building.
Before Andrew and Carlos made it that far, Miles, the youngest gang member ran up to them. "Hey guys," he called out. "Brent and Lance are getting a soccer game put together on the side of the pool building. They wanted me to ask if you guys wanted to join us."
"Maybe in a bit," Andrew replied as he looked to the small red headed boy. "We need to help..."
"Luke," the boy answered Andrew's unasked question.
Andrew nodded. "We need to help Luke deliver these boxes to the quads."
"Okay," Miles replied before he went running off to catch up with the large group of kids that were going in the opposite direction.
With it being right after dinner, and being as late as it was, Maurice was not that surprised at how empty the C.I.C. building was as he walked through the halls toward Justin's office. What did surprise him was the fact that Justin, base commander or otherwise, would be at his office this late at night. That would be yet another reason he was continuing to get more respect for the UNIT guys.
When he was about half way through the building, he heard what sounded like the cross between a scream and a shout. "Ayyah!"
At first, he ignored it, but when he started hearing more sounds, he decided to investigate. "Uyyah... Hoot," the shouts echoed out and continued to get louder until Maurice came to an open door to a room. Looking in, the room had a wooden glazed floor and mirrors on all the walls. Inside the room was a single nine year old boy with medium dark brown hair who was dressed in a loose fitting white Gi.
As Maurice looked in, the boy immediately stopped and turned toward him. "Sorry," The boy said as his bright light brownish-orange eyes glared toward Maurice. "I didn't think anyone else would be in the building right now."
"No worries," Maurice replied as his curiosity got the better of him. "What in the world were you doing in here anyway, it sounded like someone was trying to hurt you."
The boy grinned up toward Maurice. "Actually, I was working on some of my forms."
Having heard the word mentioned before, and taking into account what the boy was wearing, Maurice quickly put two and two together. "Forms as in Martial Arts forms, like in Karate?"
The young boy shook his head. "Sort of, but it's... Well, it's a combination of several different martial arts that Sensei Chang has been teaching me. You can stay and watch if you would like."
"I would if I could, but actually, I came to talk to Justin." Maurice answered.
"Commander West?" the boy asked. "I don't think that will be possible unless it's an emergency."
"I'm pretty sure that all the command staff are still in their meeting." The boy answered.
"Oh," Maurice thought. "In that case, I guess I wouldn't mind seeing what all the shouting was about."
Maurice took a step back to lean against the wall and watch the smaller boy. He was half expecting to see the mediocre attempts of a young uncoordinated child struggling to preform a complicated set of moves. Instead, what he saw surprised him, which seemed to be happening a lot lately.
He watched the boy in awe as he went through his various moves. On the streets, Maurice had seen a number of different highly skilled people preforming various styles of martial arts. However, what he was seeing here was far better than anything he had ever seen before by leaps and bounds. The precision and degree of control of his physical movements were easily beyond a master level for an adult, let alone a kid. Not only that, but each move seemed to seamlessly transition into the next, as if he were watching one single flowing move instead of several different moves linked together.
As the kid finished, Maurice stood speechless for several seconds. "Damn, your good." He finally got out.
"Thanks," the kid smiled.
"Your name wouldn't happen to be Bruce Lee, or anything, would it?" Maurice asked half jokingly.
The boy shook his head as he extended his hand. "Nope, I'm Carl. Carl Long."
"Nice to meet you Carl, I'm Maurice Thrones." Maurice grinned as he shook the smaller boy's hand. "I just figured I would check. Those were some pretty slick moves."
"They were okay," Carl admitted. "But, they are still a long way away from Sensei Chang's skills."
"Who is this Sensei Chang you keep talking about? He must be pretty good for you giving him such high praise." Maurice asked.
"Chang Casey, of course," Carl answered slightly surprised. "Surely you've seen The DVD?"
Maurice was now confused as well. "What DVD?"
"The DVD," Carl stated again. "You know, the one where Adam and Khan both took on Sensei Chang at the same time?"
Maurice shook his head, "Sorry, don't think I have."
Carl gasped. "If you thought what I was doing was good, this is easily ten to twenty times better. The speed that they move at literally would make me look like I was standing still."
"Wow, I wouldn't mind seeing that sometime." Maurice answered.
"Really?" Carl asked. "How about now?"
Maurice shrugged. "I guess."
"Cool!" Carl's eyes lit up as he touched his comm badge. "Hey Daileass, you there?"
Instead of Daileass responding, a different voice answered instead. "Sorry Carl, but Daileass is not available at the moment. I'm temporarily handling all his calls."
As excited as he was, Carl didn't seem to let this piece of information phase him much. "Not a problem, Draco. Could you let the UNIT guys in quad building 2-D know that we are going to be watching 'The DVD' in the common room on the first floor in fifteen minutes, and anyone who wants to watch it is welcome to come."
"The messages are already being sent." Draco answered.
"Thanks Draco." Carl replied with the top of his Gi already untied and off before he turned toward Maurice. "Do you mind waiting here while I go get changed real quick?"
Maurice stuttered as he again gasped at just how well built the young boy's chest and upper body was, with almost no fat anywhere to be seen, and his muscles very well defined. His muscles were not bulging out, but were instead very sleek to the point that you could clearly tell he was still a child while at the same time it was very obvious of just how much he worked out. "Um... um... okay." He finally managed to get out.
"Thanks." Carl grinned and giggled at Maurice's antics as he made his way to another door in the back of the room.
As Maurice waited, he took a moment to look around the room a bit more. On the left wall, closest to the door he was standing next to, there was a large flag with the UNIT crest on it hanging down from the wall. On the right side of the room, there were a number of mats stacked up, as well as a small cart with an assortment of wooden and metal weapons on it. Maurice was almost afraid to think of just how dangerous a kid like Carl might be with a weapon in his hand, given how good he was without a weapon.
Not long later, Carl walked back out dressed in his UNIT BDU's. "Ready?"
Maurice nodded as the two made their way out of the room. "Why do you military guys always wear your uniform? Don't you have jeans or normal clothes?"
"This isn't my uniform, it's just BDU's. And yes, I do have civilian clothes, I just like these better." Carl stated as they turned the corner. "By the way, if you want, you can also invite your other guys."
"Good idea," Maurice agreed as he hit his comm badge. "Maurice to Donnie."
"Sup man?" Donnie's voice answered a few moments later.
"Hey, I'm heading to the first floor common room of quad 2-D to see some kind of mega cool fight video between some of the UNIT kids. Do you or any of the other guys want to come watch them as well?"
"Hell yeah!" Donnie's voice replied almost instantly, "We'll see ya there. Donnie out."
Maurice shook his head, "He didn't sound excited or anything."
Carl grinned. "Well, can you really blame him? They are mega cool, just as you said."
Maurice sighed as they continued to walk down the lit sidewalk toward the quads.
As Maurice walked down the hall of the quad toward the common room, he was fairly sure he smelt the buttery smell of pop-corn. When they made it to the room, he knew why. In addition to all eleven of his guys being there, at least thirty other UNIT kids were in the room. Many of whom had pop-corn, drinks, and other snacks.
"Wow," Maurice thought out loud. "All of these guys have not seen this yet?"
"Nah, we usually watch it at least every other night." one of the UNIT kids replied.
"It's just that good." A slightly older kid next to him added.
Maurice shook his head.
"Hey Maurice," Andrew called out from the other side of the room. "We saved ya some seats."
After looking toward, and getting a nod from Carl, Maurice made his way through all the couches and chairs that were arranged to face a large screen TV, until he reached the back where Andrew and Carlos had a seat waiting for him.
"These guys seem pretty fired up about this, don't they?" Carlos asked.
Maurice agreed, "They do. So does that new Carl kid that I met."
An older kid stood up in the front, and immediately all talking in the room stopped.
"Is anyone aware of anyone else that is planning on coming here?" The boy asked. After waiting a few moments and seeing nothing but heads shaking, he continued. "Great. I know most of you guys have seen these before, but please keep in mind we have a few guests tonight who have not, so try not to ruin it too much for 'em."
After hearing a few sniggers coming from around the room, the boy sat down, and the lights in the room dimmed as the flat screen TV came to life.
The first thing that they saw was a huge orange and black haired cat hybrid working out in a huge practice room. Although it was slightly difficult to tell from the angle he was seen at, it looked like he had to be well over seven feet tall.
"Jolin!" Micha called out.
"Nope," one of the UNIT kids replied. "That's Armur Khan, who is the commanding officer of Jolin, and all the other hybrids."
"Ah," Micha replied as the camera showed a much smaller black haired, oriental looking boy walking up to the large cat.
"That's Chang, one of Adam's brothers," another kid offered since it was obvious by the looks on their faces that none of the kids that were with Maurice recognized the boy.
As Chang got closer, the size and weight difference between the two looked astounding. Although he seemed very well built, Chang could not have been much older than twelve. The large tiger hybrid was easily two to two and a half feet taller.
"Your style is most impressive," Chang stated in a calm, oriental sounding voice. "But your stance is low. Perhaps a little sparring might help you?"
Khan chuckled to himself. "I appreciate the offer, but I would not wish to harm you."
"I do not believe that will be an issue," Chang calmly replied as he pulled out his Katana and directed himself toward Khan with a bow.
Khan tilted his head as he saw the serious look in Chang's eyes. "Very well, if I must, I shall do my best to go easy on you."
Chang said nothing and stood completely motionless as Khan picked up his own sword and bowed toward Chang. As soon as his bow was complete, Chang's stance immediately changed. A momentary look of surprise came across Khan's face as he dropped into a similar stance.
Calculating a move that would hurt the smaller boy the least, Khan took a few large strides forward, and made a full arc swing. The only problem was, Chang was no longer standing where he was a few moments ago, but had bounced to the side.
"So you have a little speed," Khan stated as he quickly made another full arc swing toward Chang. This time, instead of moving, Chang allowed the blades of their swords to make contact, while using the momentum of the hit to counter-arc his wrist, causing Khan's sword to go flying out of his hand toward the wall.
Chang, for his part, lowered his sword and glanced toward Khan's sword on the ground.
Khan nodded in understanding as he flipped backward and picked up his sword. "I see. Then perhaps this shall be a real challenge after all." With that, the real fight began.
What happened next surprised just about every gang member that was there. The sheer speed alone of how quickly Chang and Khan began to dance around each other and exchange blows was impressive enough. But, what was more surprising was how little Chang was not only holding his own against the huge tiger hybrid, but in many instances, seemed to be on the offensive more than defensive.
"Wow, that's pretty fast," Andrew commented as he became more and more lost in the fight
The UNIT boy that was sitting next to him offered him some of the pop-corn he was eating. "Oh, that's nothing, just wait until they finish warming up."
"This is just warm up?" Andrew asked rather shocked.
Although the boy nodded, Andrew never saw him since his question was answered as the combat between the two combatants was stepped up another notch. Khan clearly began to put all his weight into a massive set of frontal assaults. However, Chang appeared to not only effortlessly counter Khan's moves, but also did a very good job at pushing him back, shredding a large amount of Khan's clothes in the process.
As the fight progressed and more kids could be seen gathering on the track that encircled the practice area, the two seemed to get faster and faster with their swings and movements. It was almost getting to the point that Maurice could no longer follow what was happening until the video froze.
"What happened?" Maurice asked as one of the boys in the front pressed a few buttons on the front of the TV.
Carl looked back at Maurice as he grinned, "Since none of you are enhanced, the fight is probably getting a bit too difficult to follow, so we are going to slow things down to about a quarter of the speed."
Maurice nodded as the video resumed in it's slower format just in time to show both Khan and Chang flying through the air toward each other. As they glided through the air Khan twisted in such a way that his tail twisted around as if to strike Chang. This had the effect of distracting him long enough for Khan to get a sword swing in. Although Chang tried to move out of the way, a few drips of blood flew out as Khan's sword nicked Chang's cheek. Chang's response to this was immediate and intense, as he not only quickly landed four broad-side blows with his katana, he used his wakizashi to land a strong blow to Khan's forehead.
As soon as the two landed, a third figure jumped in from above, and tried to run past Chang, but was quickly blocked.
Maurice and the other gang kids recognized the newcomer almost immediately as Adam Casey, head of all the UNIT forces.
At first, it was unclear what objective Adam was trying and failing at, but it soon became apparent that he was going for a set of very nice looking swords that were hanging on the back wall.
Despite the fact that both Adam and Khan each appeared to not only out weigh Chang, but appeared to be slightly faster than him, Chang was still effortlessly not only holding both of them back, but also constantly preventing Adam from reaching his swords. Even at the slower speed that the video was playing at, all three kids appeared to be moving extremely quickly.
Although Maurice was rather impressed at how well of a fight the smaller oriental boy was putting up, he was sure that the end was near, since Adam and Khan had managed to get on opposite sides of Chang, and they both began to charge him at the same time. From Maurice's point of view, it did not really matter how fast or good Change was, surviving direct assaults from two different directions at the same time was pretty unlikely. To Maurice, and the other gang kids surprise, not only did Chang survive, but he had a flurry of sword slashes and high speed kicks prepared to meet both boys.
Although the large tiger hybrid took this assault head on, Adam appeared to be ready for this event, and used his speed and Chang's momentum to flip himself over Chang. Chang, however, was already in the process of using Khan's momentum to flip over Khan's sword, and still manage to land a mid-air blow square in Adam's side which sent him flying backward onto the floor where Adam quickly rolled and brought himself back up.
The fight continued to become more interesting as Khan let out a roar and continued to create an impressive frontal assault against Chang, most of which was effortlessly blocked, while Adam was wobbling, rather randomly, around the room. No matter what either boy did, however, every time Adam made an attempt for his swords, Chang managed to block him. Finally, in a move that Maurice completely missed, Adam was standing behind some other kid and getting a different set of swords.
"Now I will have to stop holding back my brothers. I apologize in advance for the pain I will now cause you," Chang calmly stated as the three boys were circling each other. Although this statement did not appear to phase Khan at all, Adam noticeably became more tense and focused.
"Did someone turn the video speed back up?" Micha asked as he and the others watched Adam start spinning his sword blades around so quickly they were only a blur on the screen.
"Nope," A UNIT kid next to him giggled. "He's spinning his blades faster than the video camera could keep up with."
"That's because Daileass was still using the older cameras at the time," Draco replied from the overhead speakers.
Before he or anyone else could reply, they could all see both Adam and Chang soaring through the air toward each other. At the last moment, Adam veered away just as a small shiny glint appeared between Adam and Chang for no longer than a frame in the video.
"You have learned to avoid that one at last my brother. I am impressed." Chang said this with a serene smile on his face as he turned back toward Adam.
Adam made a gesture toward a fresh cut in his thigh and responded. "But I didn't escape getting cut."
A few moments later, Khan let out another deafening roar and cried out "Today is a good day to die!" With no hesitation he threw himself into the battle again and began to fight with a veracity that had not yet been seen as he, along with the others began hitting, striking, and punching with impressive degrees of force.
After a few minutes of this, Chang sheathed both of his swords as he looked toward Adam and Khan. "Regretfully my brothers I must end this most enjoyable workout. I am on duty in thirty minutes and require time to bathe and change into fresh clothing." With that, he grabbed Adam's right wrist and twisted, while at the same time he did a split kick which sent Kahn flying into the wall and sent the sword in Adam's left hand flying. Before he had touched the ground he executed a flip and sent Adam flying after Kahn, while he followed straight behind him. He arrived virtually at the moment Adam collided with Kahn, and delivered several elbow / knee combinations to the stunned pair.
Kahn and Adam were lying on the floor with swords on their throats while a trickle of blood flowed from where the point made contact with their skin. No one had seen Chang draw his swords. Gasps and cries of disbelief erupted from the crowd.
"One of these days you are going to make a mistake, and I am going to get you bro," Adam said with a big smile on his face.
"Everyone needs a fantasy my brother," was Chang's serene reply as he walked out of the room, and the video faded to darkness.
"Holy crap," Maurice said in amazement, "That was insane."
Andrew agreed, "I don't think I've ever seen a fight like that before."
"That was nothing, compared to the next video," Carl grinned. "Just consider that warm-up."
Without another word being said, the next video began.
"Gentleman. Start your engines..." Daileass's voice called out as he did a very nice announcer impersonation. Instead of being inside, the video started from a view that was rather high up above the ground. The image quickly began to zoom in until a soccer field could be seen which was surrounded by a rather large looking compound of some type. In the center of the field, a large group of people, mostly kids, were gathered and had formed a nice sized ring in the center of it.
"In this corner we have the ever inscrutable 'Little Samurai Brother' Chang..." Daileass's announcer voice continued as the picture changed to a very determined looking oriental boy who everyone, including the gang kids, recognized as Chang. His two sheathed katana's were very noticeable as he walked up to another kid who looked like a Klingon.
"...and his opponents for this match..." The scene shifted from Chang, and went back to showing the crowd of kids that had formed the ring, and then showed a smaller kid holding a notebook in his hand as lots of other kids crowded in around him placing bets.
"It's the Lover Boy in charge, Adam..." Adam carefully withdrew his blade from his sheath and proceeded to swing it around several times in a warm-up fashion. The scene then shifted to a close up of Adam showing his extremely focused expression. "You're going down this time, bro." He stated forcefully.
"...and his partner Amur 'the Kitty Boy' Khan!" The unforgettable and incredibly huge cat hybrid appeared next as he two was shown flexing and doing a few quick warmup exercises with the gathered crowd behind him. Without warning, Khan let out a growl. "Yes my brother, today is the day you lose."
As the scene shifted back to the small kid being surrounded by people calling out times, Maurice couldn't stop himself from asking why everyone was calling out times instead of who they wanted to win.
"That's easy," The boy who was sharing his pop-corn with Carlos grinned, "Chang has never lost a fight. So it's not a question if people are betting for him to win or loose, but more on how long it will take him to win."
The video then showed a close up of Chang and the Klingon boy again, this time with Chang leaning closer to him and calmly stating, "I would put your money on seven minutes thirty and a half seconds." The Klingon boy grinned and turned to the smaller kid. "Hey Juan, put me down for seven minutes thirty and a half seconds."
The boy looked up toward the Klingon as he scrunched his face. "My stop watch doesn't do tenths of a second."
"Well, let Daileass keep the time then," was the reply from the Klingon.
"I would be happy to keep the time, but I am sure it won't be necessary. If Chang says that seven minutes thirty and a half seconds is what it is going to take, that is what it will take," came the amused reply from Daileass.
Suddenly, a rush of people started to encircle Juan wanting to change their bets. "Hey! Back off will ya. ALL BETS ARE CLOSED! Jeez! Thanks a lot, Daileass!"
"LETS GET IT ON!" Khan called out with force as the scene changed back to all three boys inside the circle. At the same time, a small digital timer appeared in the upper left corner of the screen and began to track time as the fight began.
The fight started out slow with Chang positioning himself in the center of the circle, while Adam and Khan slowly began to walk around the edge. Without warning the two larger boys charged toward Chang at the same time causing him to leap into the air. As he did this, the two boys each drew their Katanas with Khan jumping in the air to meet Chang while Adam placed himself where Chang would most likely land.
"I am not that easy to trap, my brothers." Chang called out as he somehow managed to get on top of the large tiger hybrid, and in a single fluid motion, kicked Khan down toward Adam while pushing himself off to land in a different, safe location. However, Adam had also jumped up at the falling Khan, and used the force to thrust himself toward Chang so that they two nearly collided and immediately started an intense sword fight. Moments after Khan hit the ground, he too threw himself into the fight.
With all three boys going at it, the group bore witness to some of the most intense sword fighting they had seen yet. Even with as much force as both Adam and Khan were using, however, Chang still only had one of this katana's drawn, and was holding his ground remarkably well.
"Damn, look at that!" Esteban, one of the junior gang members called out as he pointed toward some of the younger kids that were watching in the crowd, "The sword fight is so intense, it's scaring the crap out of them."
One of the UNIT kids behind him shook his head. "Those tears that you see in a bunch of the kids faces are not scared tears, they are tears of relief. For many of them, they have lived their entire lives in constant fear. And now, for the first time, they are realizing that they are finally safe."
"Ah." Esteban replied as he and the others watched Chang hit the side of Khan's head with the sheath of his sword, while sending a powerful kick toward Adam's chest, which was barely deflected. Both boys responded by thrusting their swords at Chang at the same time. However, before they could complete their motion, Chang had planted his sheath in the ground, and used it to pole-volt over Adam and Khan.
Before Chang hit the ground, he had his second Katana drawn. What followed next could only be described as pure insanity, as Chang let loose with a fury of aggressive sword assaults against both boys at the same time. His hands were moving so fast that they appeared to be nothing but a blur in the video. For a few moments, it looked like both Adam and Khan were going to be shredded to pieces, but somehow they managed to hold off the assault.
As the timer in the upper left corner of the screen hit the one minute point, Daileass's voice called out in the video, "One minute!"
As the fight continued, Adam and Khan began to slowly split apart almost to the point that they were on opposite sides of Chang. Even with this, Chang's assault was both impressive and deadly. As this was happening, a smaller window appeared in the lower left corner of the screen showing the Klingon boy that Chang was talking to earlier appeared and began chanting:
With fire and steel did the gods forge the Klingon heart. So fiercely did it beat, so loud was the sound, that the gods cried out, 'On this day we have brought forth the strongest heart in all the heavens. None can stand before it without trembling at its strength.' But then the Klingon heart weakened, its steady rhythm faltered and the gods said, 'Why do you weaken so? We have made you the strongest in all of creation.' And the heart said... 'I am alone.'
At some point near the middle of the text, Juan and a smaller Klingon joined the older one. At the same time, the fight pressed on with Adam and Khan changing their tactics and began bobbing back and forth, moving in a rather random pattern, while at the same time still trying to push against Chang. Although this seemed to stop Chang's new push of massive sword play, it did not effect his ability to effortlessly continue to block both boys.
As time continued, the speed that Adam and Khan were bobbing and wobbling back and forth increased. Either due to their actions, or due to the story that was being recited by Juan and the Klingons, Chang closed his eyes, and continued to easily hold off the attacks of both older boys.
And the gods knew that they had erred. So they went back to their forge and brought forth another heart. But the second heart beat stronger than the first, and the first was jealous of its power. Fortunately, the second heart was tempered by wisdom. 'If we join together, no force can stop us.'
By this point, several people in the crowd were starting to point out the fact that Chang's eyes were closed. By this point, however, Chang's eyes were not only closed, but Chang was also starting to bob back and forth in a similar manner as Adam and Khan were.
However, where Adam and Khan's speed seemed to reach a climax, Chang's speed continued to increase until without any warning, Chang crushed through the defense of both boys at nearly the same time as he managed to somehow both kick Khan hard in the side sending him flying backward while at the same time using his katana to shave some of the hair off his tail, and still manage to assault Adam in the head, which Adam appeared to barely avoid. During all this, the chants of Juan and the Klingons got louder as they completed their story.
And when the two hearts began to beat together, they filled the heavens with a terrible sound. For the first time, the gods knew fear. They tried to flee, but it was too late. The Klingon hearts destroyed the gods who created them and turned the heavens to ashes. To this very day, no one can oppose the beating of two Klingon hearts.
By the time the story was done, and after seeing the incredible degree of skill being used by Chang, the crowd was in an uproar. As such, there were probably very few of them who heard Daileass announce, "Two Minutes!"
It wasn't long after that when Chang opened his eyes and allowed the speed of his onslaught to slow down slightly as he addressed the other two boys. "My brothers. I am impressed that you have learned this technique in such a short time."
Khan suddenly realized that his tail had been shaved on the top and let out an earth shattering roar.
Chang continued as if nothing had happened. "But if you wish to even give me a work out, you will have to do much better than that, or I will shave the fur from your entire body."
Without warning, Chang picked up the speed of his assault once again. Without missing a beat, however, both Adam and Khan seemed to immediately sync and continued to fight almost as if one.
Although the bobbing had stopped, the intensity of the fighting had not. Adam and Khan now began to simultaneously switch off styles at the same time, and then alternating. To most people watching, it was clear that many different fighting styles were being used by both boys in an attempt to throw off Chang. To their disappointment, and to the continued amazement of all watching, Chang was not effected by any of the changes in style that either older boy made.
At one point Adam was making a powerful low sweep with his katana at nearly the same time that Khan was making an even more powerful upper sweep with his. Chang, for his part, somehow managed to pull off a sideways jump where he effortlessly appeared to glide between both swords, while being able to thrust his own swords out in such a way that both Adam and Khan were forced to flip backwards to avoid the blows.
"Three Minutes!" Daileass called out.
As soon as the third minute started, Khan changed his tactics yet again. This time, by sheathing his sword completely, and attacking on all fours, while Adam continued to push hard with a frontal assault. At the same time, Chang seemed to change tactics as well, by 'blinking' from one place to another. He would be at one location that Adam and Khan would try to move in on, and then barely a blur was seen on the video as he would appear in a completely different place.
This happened a few times before Chang stopped and called out to the other two boys. "So far you have used several different styles including Capoeira mixed with some variant of Drunken. While interesting, it will not do much to help you. I think I will use one sword to give you some help, as two just seems to give me too great an advantage."
Adam and Khan looked at each other with concern. Before either boy could react, Chang flung himself at Adam slicing him open across his stomach as he connected with a foot to his head. As Adam went down, there was a small spray of blood. If Adam hadn't been so quick, he would have received a very nasty gash from the blade. As it was he went down hard.
"Four Minutes!" Daileass called out.
What happened next caused every gang kid that was there to gasp in shock. As a frantic scream came from somewhere in the crowd, a barrage of fireballs began to rain down on top of Chang. To everyone's surprise, not a single fireball hit Chang. Any of them that looked like they might come close, bounced off of some kind of invisible barrier and went flying off somewhere else.
The scene shifted to a place in the crowd where a small boy was completely engulfed in flames, and floating a few feet above the ground. He continued to hover in the air for a few moments until the flames went out, and he went falling to the ground, out of the view of the camera.
"Just so you guys know," Carl stated as every gang member continued to look at the video in shock, "The kid you saw in flames was Adam's brother Jimmy. He kinda freaked out a little when he thought that Adam had been killed by Chang. He was perfectly fine afterwards."
"How the fuck do you survive being engulfed in flames?" Maurice asked to no one in particular as the fight continued with none of the three boys appearing to miss a beat.
"That's a long story," Carl answered.
The fight continued with both Khan and Adam taking turns at charging at Chang. Even with Chang only having a single katana drawn, he still managed to hold off both boys.
"Five Minutes!" Daileass called out.
The intensity continued to increase to levels that no one could seem to comprehend. Every time Adam and Khan seemed to find a way to increase the severity of their assault, Chang seemed to block it.
Maurice was getting so caught up in the fight and the sheer level of skill that all the boys were using. He couldn't believe that the Adam he was seeing fight in the video was the same Adam that he tried to pick a fight with the night before.
Maurice was so lost in thought, that he did not catch himself until he heard Daileass announcing, "Six Minutes." He looked up just in time to see Adam using his legs to launch two rather large, head sized rocks toward Chang.
Sure that the rocks would literally crush Chang, he was once again surprised as Chang easily 'danced' around the rocks as if it were a ballet rather than a sword fight. Not only this, but he also managed to slice one of the rocks in half, and use one of his feet to 'swing' the rock back around as if it were a soccer ball, and launch it back at Adam, who barely was able to dodge it.
Khan tried to take advantage of the situation and executed a back flip, landed on his feet, and quickly put some distance between himself and Chang. However, Chang was not having any of it. As soon as his foot touched the ground, he seized Adams wrist, twisted, causing him to drop his sword, and hurled Adam straight at Khan.
Chang had maneuvered his opponents in the direction of his other sword. Chang threw his other katana into the air and let it stick itself next to his other blade. He allowed Khan and Adam to compose themselves for a moment. Adam quickly retrieved his sword. He and Khan began to circle the now sword-less Chang. The circling lasted until Daileass announced "Seven Minutes!"
Chang made his move before Khan or Adam had a chance to even react. He flew in and proceeded to drive Khan straight at Adam. His kicks and punches literally caused all of Khan's muscles to turn to rubber. With a kick, Khan's sword flew into the air just as Adam made stab at Chang with his.
Chang grabbed Adam's blade as he twisted out of the way with his fingers and threw it in the air as well. He executed several blows to both his opponents who fell to the ground unconscious. As his brothers fell to the ground, he leaped up seizing both swords. He landed between the unconscious bodies and jammed both swords up to the hilt into the ground next to their heads.
Chang casually stood as not a single sound came from the stunned crowd.
"Time please, Daileass.", Chang calmly asked.
Daileass called the time out in a voice that spoke of disbelief. "The swords were thrust into the ground to the hilt at exactly seven minutes thirty and a half seconds."
The scene faded to black as the entire crowd went wild and began to circle in around Chang.
The room remained silent for several moments as all the UNIT kids waited to see what the reaction of Maurice and his group would be.
Finally, Maurice slowly began to shake his head. "That's just totally and completely insane, I don't see how a normal human could possibly do that."
"A normal squishy couldn't." One of the other UNIT kids answered.
"Squishy?" Carlos asked.
Carl smiled, "Squishy is what we call non-altered people. Anyone who is not genetically enhanced."
"So only those genetically enhanced could do what we were just watching?" Maurice asked in disbelief.
Carl quickly shook his head. "Adam, Khan, and Chang are in a class all their own. There are very few of us who can even come close to the level that those guys are at. However, that doesn't stop many of us from continuing to work toward reaching that point. That's why you saw me working so hard earlier, and that's why we watch these videos, so we can see where our target is at, and what we are trying to achieve."
Andrew, Maurice's second in command sighed. "So for us mortals, or us squishes... there is no way we could start to get close to any of that?"
Carl shrugged. "Actually, there are some squishes in the UNIT that are doing a pretty good job moving in that direction. It just takes a lot more effort and dedication."
"Those would be the not-so-squishy squishes," A UNIT kid who was standing near Carl commented.
"Not squishy squishy what?" Maurice asked confused.
Carl sighed and shook his head
"If they think that was cool, we need to show them the Khan and Logan fight." One of the UNIT kids called out.
"Actually," The older UNIT kid that was sitting in the front said as he stood up, "I think we've messed with their heads enough tonight. Besides, tomorrow is going to be an early day, so I think it's about time for all of us to get some sleep."
There were a few sighs and moans in the group, but for the most part, many of the kids began to make their way out of the room.
"Adam's boyfriend fights as well?" Maurice asked with surprise, "I saw him last night, and he definitely doesn't look like a fighter."
"Not that Logan," Carl grinned. "There is another Logan, a Wolverine Hybrid, that he was referring to. It's a much more... um... intense fight than anything you saw tonight."
"Fuck." Maurice said under his breath, but still loud enough for the others around him to hear.
"So yeah," Carl continued. "As Captain Himely said, that's probably a video best saved for another night."
Maurice nodded as he glanced around at the rest of his guys. Every single one of them were giving him 'the look'. All throughout the day, each of his guys at one point or another had pulled him to the side to talk privately. Although each had worded their thoughts differently, they all boiled down to the same thing. Each of his kids had made it known that they felt it would be cool if they had training like the UNIT.
The looks he was getting now were about as close as any of them would dare go toward openly telling Maurice that even more so now than ever, after watching the videos, each of them had a strong desire to follow in a path similar to what many of the UNIT kids were following. However, Maurice also knew that their restraint would remain only as long as they were in public, in front of others, and that as soon as they had some privacy, the assaults and challenges would start, unless he did something to address them now.
In a voice that was somewhat unusual for Maurice, he spoke in a quiet enough voice that only Carl and the few boys that were very close to him could hear. "I don't suppose the UNIT is looking for any other members?"
"What do you mean, looking for members?" Carl asked in a normal tone.
Maurice sighed and spoke normally as well, "I don't know, maybe something like those strike teams some of you guys are in? I'm not saying this would happen or anything, but if a few of my guys were to say that they were interested in getting involved in a strike team or something."
Most of the UNIT kids that were still lingering around and helping to clean up the room began to grin. Carl, however, remained serious. "Some of you guys are thinking about wanting to join the UNIT?"
Almost immediately, all eight of the gang's older seniors nodded their heads, "Uh huh!", with the four younger junior members perking up with interest.
'That's it.' Maurice thought to himself as he too saw the eager reactions of his crew, 'This is going to break us up for sure.'
Carl sat back in his chair as he looked at the eagerness and determination in the faces of each member of the gang. Although he was hoping that one or two of the older kids might have an interest, he certainly did not expect to see all of them showing an interest. "You guys do realize that the UNIT is not all fun and games, right?"
"I think we've all been around you guys and the clan enough to know some of the crap you guys have gone through, and what happened at Montana." Andrew stated.
Seeing the nods of agreement on the faces of the other boys, Carl nodded as well as he considered the situation further.
Carl looked around the room at all the off duty UNIT members and let his eyes fall on the three identical boys sitting in the back of the room. Sighing one more time he got up and moved over towards them. Every gang members eyes were on him as he slowly made his way towards the three boys. "Karl... would you please enlighten our friends here on the part of our lives that is not all fun and games?"
The boy in the middle stood up and looked down at his brothers for a moment before sighing himself. When his eyes raised and met Maurice's they held a haunted quality that some time in the near future Maurice would realize that's the look of someone who was moments from death and was able to walk away from it.
"In Montana, Viper Lead went down in the trees where the enemy was at. Viper Lead is the helicopter that was being piloted by Will. My strike team was closest to it, so we went to secure and defend any survivors and pull them back to friendly ground. Unfortunately while we were getting the pilots untangled from the wreckage, the enemy found and surrounded us.
"All the G-Cats came to our rescue and fought their way to us. We were using the wreckage as cover and all huddled down, firing when they got too close, and just waiting for the rest of the guys to come and get us out of there.
"My brothers and I were huddled together in what would have been the back cargo compartment firing out of small holes and keeping our side clear of the enemy. Kieth heard something hit the floor behind us, so he spun around and saw a small metal object as it rolled on the floor and stopped a few feet from us."
By this point, Karl's voice had taken on a bit of a serene quality as he stared off into space and continued his story. The only thing that broke the serenity of his face, was the steady stream of tears that started to fall. "He screamed out 'GRENADE!' and we tried to get as small as possible so when it blew it would do as little damage to us as possible and we MIGHT be able to survive. See, the grenade was between us and everything else. We had no escape route.
"Before we knew what was happening, we heard a loud roar, and we watched in horror as Kuan Ti, Amur Khan's brother, threw his rifle away, and hurled himself on top of the grenade. No one has ever doubted that he knew exactly what he was doing, and did it with out thought. He threw his life away to save us. He knew full well what he was doing, and what the result would be. Not even someone as tough as he was, even in armor could survive covering a grenade with their body and letting it blow up. He could have saved himself with ease... but he wouldn't... couldn't do that."
His eyes returned to the present and looked all the gang in the eyes one at a time while he spoke. "So yeah. Playing soldier is great at times... but there are other times that it really sucks. There's two things I will tell you before you decide if you really want this. The first is, you have got to WANT it with every single bit of you're being. If you're not committed to this, if you hesitate... you're dead... or worse, someone you love is dead.
"The second thing is this. There is a code amongst us, and yeah I might get in trouble for sharing this now, but I think it's important that you know this now. The code is only one word, but that one word means SOO much. 'Bushido'... 'Life in Every Breath.' When you have figured out what that means to you, that is the time that you will truly become one of us." With nothing else said, his two brothers stood up and walked from the room.
As soon as the sandwich was placed down in front of Haden, he began digging into it like there would be no tomorrow.
"Whoa, don't forget to breath," Evan giggled as a took a bite out of his own sandwich.
"Can't... help it... really... hungry," Haden managed to get out over the course of four bites.
Evan nodded. "I guess I can understand that. I'm guessing whatever you did in that... what was it called? A mental scape? Was something really special?"
"I know it's hard for you to understand the magnitude of what Haden pulled off tonight, Evan," Simon stated as he walked into the small room carrying a plate with a sandwich for himself, and another plate for Alvin, "So let's just leave it at this; it was nothing short of a miracle. If that Ordith entity didn't show itself, I would really hate to think what the current state of the UNIT would be right now."
"You're right, I don't think I really can understand it," Evan agreed. "But speaking of that, do you think Haden is in any kind of danger because of it?"
Simon thought for a moment and shrugged his shoulders. "It's hard to say, but I doubt it. If it had meant to do harm, it would have had more than enough opportunities to do so long before now. But until things calm down a bit, it will be hard to say for sure. Maybe after Haden get's some rest, my brothers and I will be able to tell more."
"I'm not tired, just hungry," Haden stated as he reached over and took the sandwich off the plate that was meant for Alvin.
"Haden!" Evan called out in a tone of shock and disbelief. He was shocked in just how quickly his little brother had finished off his sandwich when he had only taken two bites out of his own. What he couldn't believe was the fact that Haden would then take food off of someone else's plate without even asking.
Simon giggled as he looked at Evan's face. "It's okay. Alvin is finishing up some soup for us, he'll just make another sandwich real quick while he's waiting. Haden's body clearly needs the food right now, so I wouldn't worry about it."
Evan sat back in his chair slowly shaking his head, still surprised as to how Haden didn't even stop to blink, but already had the second sandwich half way gone. "If you say so, it's just I've never seen my brother act this way before."
Simon nodded in understanding. "Everything that you saw earlier might have all been in our heads, but strenuous mental stuff can still be physically taxing. Just like when you are spending a lot of mental effort worrying about something, or trying to cram for that test, you also usually start getting hungry for some kind of munchies."
"I guess that makes sense," Evan stated as he took another bite of his sandwich. Moments later, his eyes went wide in shock as he saw Haden's head slouch over and hit the table. "Haden!" Evan called out as he stood up.
"Hold on, Evan," Simon stated as he was to his feet almost as fast as Evan was. "Daileass, I need a tricorder."
Within moments, a small device appeared on the table. Simon took the device and used it to preform a quick scan over Haden.
"What happened? What's wrong with him?" Evan asked in a voice full of concern.
Simon took a few moments to press a few buttons on the device as he watched the results of the data. A few moments later he closed the device and looked toward Evan. "It's okay, he's only sleeping."
"Sleeping?" Evan asked hesitantly, "But he was awake just a few seconds ago."
"Like I said, pretty strenuous," Simon nodded as he took the small piece of uneaten sandwich out of Haden's hand. "Daileass, could you assign and teleport Haden to one of the guest bedrooms in the palace?"
"My thoughts exactly," Daileass replied as Haden disappeared.
"Palace?" Evan asked as he tilted his head. As he asked this, Alvin walked into the room with a large pot of soup, and several bowls.
"Yeah," Alvin stated as he set the soup down on the table. "Now that things have calmed down a little, I think there are a few things that Simon and I need to catch you up on."
Over the next fifteen minutes, Simon and Alvin filled Evan in on everything that the UNIT had been doing in Russia over the last day, or at least the parts that they were allowed to share. After that, they spent a little time giving him a quick rundown about mental scapes, and the general principles of how they worked.
"So, any questions?" Simon asked with a mischievous grin, as he knew he and Alvin had already gone past the point of overloading Evan.
Evan looked at his empty bowl of soup, and shook his head. "Not really. But to be honest, it's been a really long day for me, and I don't think my head is really thinking that well right now. Any chance that I could find a place to crash for a few hours as well?"
Alvin nodded. "Yup. If you want, Daileass can teleport you to the same place that Haden is at."
"That would be cool," Evan agreed. "Hey, um, Daileass?"
Before Evan had a chance to finish his question, he was gone. A few moments after that, his head hit a soft pillow, and he was out like a light.
As soon as Haden and Evan were whisked away by Daileass during dinner, Brent and Lance knew that this would be one of the main topics of discussion. However, they didn't expect the chatter to go to the point that many of the kids were walking up to where they were sitting and asking about them, including some of the newly rescued kids.
Lance had just re-assured the fifth kid when Devin, one of the ten-year-old clone kids, walked up. "Hey Lance? Um, a bunch of us are really worried about Haden and Evan, are you sure they're okay?"
Seeing the frustrated look on Lance's face, Brent decided to step in. "Don't worry, Devin. I'm sure that if anything bad happened, Daileass would let us know."
Devin stood there for a few moments with an unsure look on his face, "But that's the problem. Daileass won't answer any of us."
This caught both Lance's and Brent's attention. "What do you mean, won't answer you?" Brent asked.
"Well," Devin continued, "when any of us try to talk to him, we get this weird person telling us to leave a message."
After sharing a glance with Brent, Lance tapped his comm badge. "Hey Daileass, you there?"
Although the reply was nearly instantaneous, as Devin had suggested, the child-like voice that replied was not Daileass's, "I'm sorry, but Daileass isn't available right now. Please leave a message after the beep."
"Who is this? And why isn't Daileass available?" Lance asked with concern.
"Oh, hello Lance, I don't think that we have had the chance to get to know each other yet," the voice replied. "My name is Drako. I'm the VSO's A.I. You're authorized to know a little bit more about me, but I would rather tell you later when you're in a less crowded location."
"Hi Drako, I think I have read about you in one of our clan reports. But you're right, we haven't really met yet," Lance replied. "Why are our calls going to you instead of Daileass? Is anything wrong?"
There was a short pause before Draco replied. "Daileass is indisposed at the moment dealing with other matters. In the mean time, I'm handling his calls and other less important functions for him."
Lance noticed that Draco completely dodged the part about Daileass being alright and figured that must have been intentional. "Okay, thanks Draco. Could you let me know if anything significant changes with Daileass? I have a lot of guys over here that are very worried about him as well as Haden and Evan."
"Sure thing, Lance. I'll do that, but please try to not worry that much about it. Is there anything else I can do for you?" Draco responded.
Lance shook his head, "No, that's it for now. Thanks Draco."
"You're welcome," Draco replied before the comm link closed.
Having heard the conversation that Lance had with Draco, Hania walked over and knelt down between Brent and Lance. "I'm guessing you guys can already tell that Draco's words haven't seemed to reassure many of the guys here. I'm thinking that perhaps we should do something to get everyone's mind off of this?"
Brent nodded, "Yeah, that would probably be a good idea. What did you have in mind?"
Hania shrugged, "Maybe some soccer?"
After seeing the eyes of a few of the kids light up, Lance agreed. "Soccer sounds like a great idea."
Given that most of the kids were done with dinner, with Hania's help, Brent and Lance managed to convince just about all of them to meet up outside at the soccer fields that were on the other side of the swimming complex.
With as many kids as they had, they decided to split up into six teams, and have three different games, with one of the gang kids being the captain of each team. Just when they had all the teams picked with the kids that were interested in playing, Donnie got a call from Maurice where he learned that he and the other gang kids had been invited to watch some videos with some of the UNIT kids. This, of course, meant that several minutes had to be spent so that each team could pick a new team captain.
A few minutes after the games finally managed to get started, Brent's comm badge chirped. "Excuse me Brent, are you busy?" Draco's voice asked.
Brent rolled his eyes. "Not at all, what's wrong Draco?"
"There is a Doctor Linda Green and a Doctor Lenard McCoy here to see you," Draco replied. "They're in the medical center you have set up on the second floor of building one."
"Oh crap," Lance commented as he suddenly remembered the 9pm appointment they had.
Brent nodded, and looked for Hania.
Having heard the conversation as well, Hania waved Brent and Lance off. "You guys go, Lee and I can keep an eye on things here."
"Thanks," Brent replied with a smile before he tapped his comm badge again, "Draco, could you teleport Lance and I directly to the med center."
"Of course," Draco replied right before the two boys disappeared.
Less than a moment later, Brent and Lance found themselves near the entrance to the mostly empty medical center. Not far away, they found Doctor McCoy intensely inspecting one of the bio-beds with Doctor Linda not far behind him.
"Sorry we're late, Doc," Brent began, "we had a little drama during dinner, and we were trying to get our guys settled down by organizing a few soccer games."
McCoy spun around with a scowl on his face which was almost immediately replaced by a more concerned look. "I can understand taking care of family, I've been doing the same all night myself," the doctor began. "What I can't understand, is all of this."
Brent and Lance shared a confused look with each other before Brent took a few steps toward the two doctors. "What's wrong? Did you find some kind of problem?"
McCoy shook his head as he turned back around. "A problem? You could say that," the man stated as he motioned toward the mostly empty shelves surrounding the room. "Surprisingly, your bio-beds are pretty close to standard. But everything else in here leaves much to be desired. Who did the requisitions for this place? A second grade student?"
Brent looked around where McCoy was motioning. "I think the bio beds are one of the newer models since we needed some of the new models so that they could better help stabilize our clone kids. But you would probably need to talk to our geneticist, Dr. Flatt, about that. As far as the rest of the stuff in here, they sent us about two boxes of supplies when they installed the beds, and that was about it."
McCoy put his hand under his chin thoughtfully and nodded. "Uh huh. It's just as I suspected. It was probably one of those administrative paper-pushers fresh out of the academy who doesn't know the difference between the needs of a top-of-the-line medical center, and a street corner clinic. Fortunately for you, I think I've found the perfect person to head up your medical facilities."
"Really? That's great news. Who is it?" Brent asked curiously.
"Assuming she accepts, which I'm almost certain she will. You're looking at her. Doctor Linda Green."
Doctor Green spun around with a momentary look of surprise on her face. "Oh, I knew there was another reason you asked me to come along. But..."
"Ah ah ah," McCoy interrupted her from speaking further. "Before you say anything, I've already talked to Doctor Janet, and she says that assuming you accept, she fully approves the transfer. You will also be getting two of the finest nurses that I know of in Star Fleet, along with a dedicated team of engineers."
"Why would we need engineers for a medical center?" Lance asked.
"And why an entire team of them?" Brent added.
Having managed to surprise both Linda and the two boys, a satisfying smile came across McCoy's face. "You don't think I would let your entire division's medical needs be handled by a medical center as small as this, do you?"
Brent and Lance looked toward each other, not really sure how to reply.
Before either boy could say anything, McCoy continued. "I glanced at the building layouts you guys have here, and if I'm right, the basement three level of the other building is dedicated to housing a small indoor pool and a gym, right?"
"Well," McCoy continued, "Given the new facilities you got last night, it doesn't look like your going to need anything on that floor now. As such, I think that will be a great place to build your much larger and more equipped medical center."
Seeing that the jaws of both Brent and Lance were hanging on the ground, McCoy turned his attention back toward Dr. Green. "That is, of course, if you decide to accept the position. I wouldn't trust the state-of-the-art facilities that I have in mind to just any doctor, you know?"
Linda did her best to pick her own jaw up off the ground. "I... I... I'm not sure what to say. I had no clue that you thought so highly of me, Doctor."
"Well, you could start by saying that you accept," McCoy replied with a grin.
Linda nodded. "Things are pretty well setup and established over at the UNIT base. I doubt that I would be missed much over there. And here... perhaps I'll have a chance to really do some good with these guys."
"That's exactly the reason I feel you would be the best person for the job," McCoy agreed. "However, I still haven't heard you say that you accept."
"I accept," Linda nearly laughed before she became more serious. "That is, of course, assuming that the Nevada division head accepts me."
"Are you kidding?" Brent asked with surprise. "With as nice as you've been to me and my guys today. Absolutely. To be honest, I just don't know what we've done to deserve someone as good as you."
McCoy rubbed his hands together a few times. "Well, now that all of that is settled. My work here is done, so if you will excuse me, I have a son that I need to get back to."
"Of course, Doctor," Linda replied while at the same time Brent and Lance nodded.
After a final glance, McCoy tapped his comm badge. "Okay Draco, go ahead and teleport or do whatever it is you need to do to get me back to Orlando, but don't you dare misplace a single molecule or I'll schedule a weeks worth of level five diagnostics for each of your processors."
"Relax Doctor," Draco's voice replied. "I'm a Vulcan programmed A.I.. I use the highest level of logic and precision toward all of my tasks."
"Don't give me that," McCoy replied in an irritated voice. "I know all about Vulcans and just how illogical their logic can be at times."
Without another word being said, McCoy vanished. After he was gone, however, Brent, Lance, and Dr. Green all broke out in a round of giggles.
"Well," Doctor Green stated after she had recovered. "I have a few things I'll need to collect from the UNIT base, so I should probably get back over there. But, I look forward to working with all of you, Brent."
Brent nodded and smiled. "Me too, Linda. How about we plan on sitting down tomorrow morning after you have had a chance to settle in, and then we can work out some more of the specifics?"
"That sounds like a plan. I'll see you tomorrow then," Doctor Green gave a slight bow before she tapped her own comm badge. "Draco? Back to my office if you would please."
Moments later, the doctor was gone leaving only Brent and Lance in the room.
"Sometimes I wonder what we have gotten ourselves into by accepting Adam's offer last night," Brent commented as he felt Lance's arm wrap around him.
"I know what you mean love," Lance replied. "Shall we head back to see how Hania and Lee are holding up?"
Brent let out a sigh before he nodded in agreement.
By the time Brent and Lance made it back to where the rest of the group, minus the street gang kids, were playing soccer, they found everything in chaos. Instead of finding three games of soccer going on, from the best that either boy could tell, the three games had somehow merged into a single game, and one of the soccer fields had been converted into a field with four goals, four teams, and two balls in play at the same time.
"Do I even want to know how that happened?" Brent asked as he and Lance walked up to Hania, who still had his hands on the top of his head which was slowly shaking back and forth.
"Oh, hi guys," Hania replied as he dropped his hands. "Well, let's see. We had a bunch of guys, especially from the new guys, that had friends on one of the other teams that they wanted to play on. So, at first the teams started swapping players, but then they became uneven, and then they decided to try to start a four team free-for-all. I have no clue what kind of rules they are using or anything."
"They're having fun, isn't that cool?" A medium tanned, dark auburn haired twelve-year-old stated as he jogged off the field toward where Brent and the others were standing. "We've done this a few times in Brazil. It's called four-way football. Although, I guess here you would call it four-way soccer."
Brent immediately recognized the boy as Leroy, the boy who had the crap kicked out of him while standing up for his boyfriend. "Hey Leroy, you organized this?"
Concerned that he might have overstepped his authority, Leroy hesitantly nodded. "Yeah, I hope that's not a problem?"
Brent shook his head. "Not at all. The main thing is that everyone is having fun, which they seem to be having. It's just cool to see you jumping into things so quickly."
Leroy shrugged as his boyfriend, Herbert walked up holding a small five-year-old boy in his arms. "Things were starting to break up a bit with everyone wanting to move to different teams, so I just gave them another alternative."
Brent nodded and made a mental note to keep an eye on Leroy as he could already tell that he was the type of person that would probably work out great in some kind of leadership position down the road.
Before anything else could be said, Brent's comm badge chirped. Moments later, Daileass's voice came over it. "Hey guys, just to let you know, everything is fine and I've re-assumed control over all the operations that Draco was handling for me. Also, Haden and Evan are both fine."
"That's great news, Daileass," Brent stated as Lance sighed with relief. "Is there anyway we can talk to Haden?"
"I can wake him up if needed," Daileass replied. "However, he's just been through a very strenuous event and is currently resting."
"Oh no, what happened?" Lance jumped in.
"I'm sorry guys, I can't really talk much about it just yet. But I will say that Haden has made me and the rest of my brothers very proud of him as he managed to pull off something none of the rest of us could do." Daileass responded seriously.
Brent nodded. "Okay Daileass, no need to wake him up. We'll talk with him later."
"I'll let you guys know when he's awake." Daileass replied.
"Will he and Evan be staying there for awhile?" Lance asked.
"I'm not really sure yet," Daileass replied. "A lot of that will probably depend on him once he wakes up. I think that it could be a good thing if he decides to stay for a bit, as I think there may be a few places where he can help out that could help to give his self esteem a strong boost."
"That would be great if that could happen," Brent agreed. "Okay, just keep us updated then, thanks Daileass."
"Not a problem, guys." Daileass replied as the comm link closed.
"Hum, looks like the game is over?" Hania pointed out as he saw several of the kids starting to walk off the field.
"It would seem so," Brent agreed. Apparently, several of the kids, mainly the clone kids, had learned that Daileass was back and that they could talk with him again, which quickly lowered the importance of the game. "It's getting pretty late anyway, so we should probably head in for the night."
"We still need to assign the new guys rooms," Lance pointed out.
Brent sighed before another thought hit him. "What if we do the rooms tomorrow, and we create a giant nest for tonight? Then everyone could get to know each other."
"Where are we going to find a place that is large enough for the nest, but secure enough that the new guys would feel comfortable sleeping there?"
"That's a good question," Brent replied as he tried to think of an answer. Almost immediately, he remembered the conversation he had with Kyle a few hours ago. "Well, I'll be damned."
"What?" Lance asked curiously.
Brent shook his head and smiled. "Leech already gave me the answer earlier. He said it was one of the questions I didn't ask yet."
"Huh?" Lance replied, still confused, "You mean Kyle?"
"Yeah, him," Brent stated. "We can use the first floor common room in one of the quads. That should be large enough for all of us to fit, and the buildings are not only secure by Daileass controlled locks, but the UNIT guys keep an eye on them as well."
Lance nodded. "Sounds good to me."
It took nearly ten minutes for Brent and Lance to get everyone gathered up from what was left of the soccer games and from those who have started to wander off during their Daileass chats, before they managed to get over to the quads.
As they walked down the hall of building two toward the common room, they passed several UNIT kids leaving, most of whom had large smiles on their faces.
When they finally reached the common room, they found Maurice and the rest of his gang there still talking with two or three other UNIT kids. "Are we interrupting anything?" Brent asked with concern.
"Nope, we just finished watching some of the most bad ass fighting videos that you have ever seen," Maurice commented as the last remaining UNIT kids waved and left. "Brent, you and Lance have got to see this shit later. Some of the kids that make up this clan are totally unreal."
Having a good idea what videos Maurice had been shown, Brent grinned. "Let me guess, the Chang and Khan fights?"
"Hell yeah!" Maurice replied. "Are those unreal or what?"
Brent nodded in agreement. "They are pretty awesome, I'll give you that."
"Awesome? They are a lot more than just awesome! They are way beyond awesome." Maurice countered.
Not really understanding what Maurice and the rest of his guys saw in them, Brent shook his head. "Okay guys, let's get the folding chairs folded up, and the larger chairs moved to the side. Daileass, think you could find us some blankets and pillows we could use for the night?"
Without responding, a huge pile of blankets, sheets, and pillows appeared in the center of the room. Apparently Daileass made some type of comment to those that he was carrying on conversations with since several of the kids began giggling.
Through most of dinner, and the soccer game that was started afterward, Art and Devin were beyond fidgety, as both boys remembered the promise that was made to them earlier that day. Even with the distractions of all the new kids showing up, and Haden being mysteriously whisked away in the middle of dinner, neither boy could seem to focus on anything else.
The original plan was for them to sneak out and meet up with Philip and Ronald after everyone else had gone to bed. Thus, the idea to build a nest in the common room threw that plan off slightly.
Spotting Philip laying out some pillows, Devin walked over to him nervously. "What do we do now?"
Devin looked at Philip curiously for a few moments before he smiled. "Don't worry about it, we'll still do it."
Devin nodded and walked back over to Art so that he could deliver the news. Once he was out of ear shot, Philip grinned at Ronald. "I think someone's a bit impatient."
"You were the same way, when you first learned a few months ago, if I remember right." Ronald smiled back as he helped one of the other boys spread out a blanket.
Devin shook his head. "I was never that bad."
"Oh yes you were," Ronald retorted.
It wasn't long after that when there was some commotion that was happening on the other side of the room with a few of the new kids which caused Brent and Lance to gather everyone up to talk a bit more about what it meant to be part of the clan, what everyone could expect, and what a few of the ground rules would be. Mostly boring stuff, at least as far as Devin and Art were concerned.
Finally, the lights were turned off and everyone began to settle down for the night with most of the kids choosing to throw their clothes off and sleep in the official clan uniform. It was around that time that Philip tapped Devin on the shoulder. "Come to our room in five minutes," the boy whispered before he and Ronald walked out of the common room and down the hall. Exactly five minutes later, Devin and Art left as well.
Knocking on the door of room #117, it only took a few moments for Ronald to answer it. When he did, Philip could be seen laying on the bottom bunk of the bed closest to the door, with his penis stiff similar to what Devin and Art's had done earlier that day. Without saying a word, both boys walked in, and started staring at Philip, which of course caused the eleven-year-old to sit up and blush slightly at the attention.
As the two younger boys continued to stare at Philip, Ronald grabbed the chair from one of the desks to sit in. "Okay guys, since you came, I'm guessing you still want to do this?"
Both boys nodded without looking away from Philip.
"Like you really had to ask?" Philip asked as he gave Ronald an odd look.
"Yeah, but I still had to ask," Ronald grinned. "Okay guys, in that case to make things easier, how about we start by you guys telling us what you already know."
Devin and Art gave each other a confused look. "Know about what?" Devin asked.
"You know, what you can do with your stick?" Philip answered, and then continued after the confused looks remained on both of the younger boy's faces, "with your penis?"
Instantly, lights went on both both of the boys. "That's easy," Art answered, "they're used for urination and procreation."
"It's called peeing," Devin nudged Art, "and I think making babies."
"Their the same thing," Art nudged back.
Philip shook his head. "Okay, I know they said you guys were genetically aged before you were born, so I know that you two aren't really ten. But how old are you?"
"I'm eight months," Devin quickly offered, "and Art's, what? Eleven months?"
"Ten months," Art corrected.
"Okay good, then I guess we can forgive you for being so clueless," Philip stated with a grin.
Art shot Philip a curious look. "Clueless about what?"
"About not really knowing what you can do with... well, you know... with yourself." Philip replied with a slight blush.
"Dude, that's just mean," Ronald jumped in. "There are lots of ten year olds that don't know about it. Heck, there are thirteen and fourteen year olds that don't know."
"Well, that's because they are stupid," Philip defended.
Ronald shook his head, "Anyway, you two seemed fairly surprised when Devin got hard earlier today, so I take it that hasn't happened to you much?"
Both boys thought for a few moments before Art answered. "Actually, I think it happened to me once, a few days ago, when I was taking a shower."
"Sometimes when I wake up in the morning mine is hard," Devin added.
"Oh yeah, same here," Art agreed.
Philip grinned. "Actually, that's just because you need to go pee in the morning."
Ronald nodded with a smile, "Yeah, it's called Morning Wood."
Suddenly, Daileass's voice came out from the computer terminal speakers. "That's not exactly true. The technical name is Nocturnal Penile Tumescence or NPT. For healthy teens and adults, it normally happens three to five times a night. It's associated with REM sleep as a result of increased heart rate and circulation. As the night goes on, the amount of dreaming you do in REM sleep increases. That is also usually the last state you are in before you wake up."
"Daileass!" Philip said in surprise as all four boys sat there stunned expressions.
"Are we going to get in trouble now?" Devin asked with concern, expressing that which all four boys were fearing.
"Why would you get in trouble? No one is doing anything wrong." Daileass replied. Once it was clear that this was not calming any of the boys down, Daileass continued. "Relax guys. No one is getting hurt, no one is in danger. As far as I can tell, all four of you are here because you want to be. Let me ask this... Philip, Ronald... were either of you planning on forcing yourselves onto Devin or Art tonight?"
Philip shook his head, "No way dude, why would we do that when we came here to get away from that on the streets?"
"Yeah, we would never do something like that to any of the kids here," Ronald agreed.
"Exactly," Daileass continued, "You're just here to help teach Devin and Art something they never had the opportunity to learn about their own bodies. If anything, I'll be taking notes, since I really like the approach that you are using."
"Really? So it's okay for us to be doing this?" Philip asked with both surprise and relief.
"Why wouldn't it be?" Daileass asked again. "As long you don't try to force Devin or Art to do anything they are not willing to do, and you let them make decisions for their own bodies, I see no issues with that. If you guys only knew how much fooling around goes on in the UNIT base, you probably wouldn't be asking that. Seriously though, depending on how things go tonight, I might ask to be allowed to keep a few of the videos for training purposes, that you two help out a few of the other older clone kids as well, but for now let's take things one step at a time."
"Your saving videos of us, so you are going to use them to get the other guys to tease us?" Ronald asked with concern.
"I save videos of everything as I have thousands of video feeds that I constantly monitor," Daileass replied. "However, I would never think of ever showing any video of you guys to anyone else unless all four of you agreed and gave your permission. As far as the teasing goes, when you get down to it, I'm a kid just like you guys, so I like to have fun sometimes too. However, I will never tease anyone in a way that there is even the slightest chance that they will not be able to handle it. Right now, sex stuff is still a fairly sensitive topic for all four of you, so I would never tease any of you about it. However, Adam and Logan, on the other hand... Well, they get teased all the time."
Ronald gasped. "You mean Adam and Logan Casey? Aren't they the leaders or generals of UNIT?"
Daileass giggled, "Yup, they sure are. However, they are also kids as well, and we're all family, and they both know that the teasing is all in good fun. Besides, they've gotten their fair share of teases back at me. On the other hand, there are some people who are in a position where they wouldn't be able to handle any teasing of any kind."
"Like that Haden kid you told us not to do anything to?" Philip asked.
"Haden is actually a good example, yes," Daileass answered. "Mentally and emotionally, he's not in a position where he would be able to handle any kind of teasing without getting hurt from it. Me and my brothers are working with him to get him to a point that he can, but that's going to take time."
"I guess that makes sense," Philip replied as the other three boys nodded in agreement.
"Anyway, sorry for interrupting you guys," Daileass stated. "I have a few other things that I need to handle, so I'm going to switch this feed back to monitor mode, unless you guys have any other questions for me."
All four boys shook their heads. Moments later, a small beep was heard from the computer terminal, followed by silence.
"Daileass sounds pretty cool," Devin offered causing the other three boys to agree.
"Okay, so what's next?" Art asked bringing the discussion back to it's original intent.
"Hum," Ronald thought out loud, "So I guess you guys have never tried rubbing yourselves before?"
"What do you mean?" Art asked.
"Guess that answers that," Ronald grinned.
As Ronald was responding, Devin noticed that Philip was starting to get hard again. "Why's he doing that?"
Philip blushed as Ronald glanced at him. "He knows how good it feels, so he's just getting a little excited."
"What do you mean, how good it feels?" Art asked.
"Excited about what?" Devin added.
Philip sighed in frustration. "Will you just show them already?"
"Show us what?" Both younger boys asked.
"Okay, fine," Ronald shrugged. "Just start rubbing yourself like Philip is going to do."
Philip shook his head. "I'm not showing them first. You do it."
"Fine, whatever," Ronald replied as he used the thumb and index finger of his right hand to start rubbing up and down his penis. Within moments, the expected result occurred, and Ronald's sword became just as hard as Philips.
Art and Devin sat there, staring in amazement.
"You guys try it," Philip grinned as he made a small circle with his thumb and pinky and began rubbing himself. "It feels good."
"You two are doing it differently," Art observed.
Ronald nodded. "Yup. You can do it whatever way you want. It just depends on what is easier and feels better.
Both younger boys immediately set out trying to copy the older boys. Unfortunately, neither seemed to be having much luck.
"Ouch!" Devin cried out a few moments later. "That hurt."
Ronald stopped servicing himself and turned his attention to Devin. "I think you are trying to do it too hard. Do you mind if I try?"
As soon as Devin nodded his head, Ronald used his thumb and index finger to gently stroke the smaller boy. As expected, it only took a few moments for Devin's body to react in the appropriate manner.
"Ooo," Devin sighed. "That feels weird." After Ronald had continued rubbing for a few more moments, Devin's knees seemed to buckle. If it weren't for Ronald's quick reflexes, the smaller boy would have surely landed on the ground.
"Wow, that made me feel really weird and tingly," Devin commented.
"Yeah, you seem to be pretty sensitive. I bet it's because you're uncut." Ronald offered.
"Uncut?" Devin asked curiously.
Ronald nodded, "Yeah. Look at Philip's and my dicks. Then look at yours and Arts. Notice how you two have skin covering the top part, while Philip and I don't?"
"I saw that earlier," Art observed. "I meant to ask you about that, but I forgot. Is it because Devin and I are clones?"
Ronald shook his head, "Nah, it depends on your family and religious stuff. Some parents will have the doctors cut off the foreskin of babies when they are first born. It's called circumcision."
"That sounds mean," Art replied.
"That sounds painful, wouldn't that hurt?" Devin added as he winced.
"They're only babies, so they don't care." Philip replied.
Still not having much success, Art walked over to Philip. "Could you do that to me?" The boy asked as he glanced in the direction of Devin and Ronald.
Philip grinned and nodded. However, as he didn't want to stop rubbing himself, he simply used his other hand to start rubbing Art. As expected, after only a few seconds of Philips gentle strokes, Art was as hard as the other three boys. A few seconds after that Art's knees buckled just like Devin's had done. Only this time, no one was there to catch him, so he quickly found himself landing on his butt.
"Wow, that really did feel weird!" Art giggled from the floor. "I wonder why nothing about this was in the knowledge packet we got."
Ronald and Philip both shrugged.
"Can you do that to me again?" Devin asked as he walked closer to Ronald.
Ronald thought for a moment, and nodded. "Okay, but this time, how about you lay on the bed over there, that way we won't have to worry about catching you."
"Okay," Devin grinned and raced toward the bed. Before Ronald had a chance to start moving toward the bed, Devin was already laying on it with his small sword already pointing toward the sky.
Ronald sat on the side of the bed next to Devin. "Okay, this next part might seem a little scary at first, but trust me, when it's over, it will feel super good."
Devin blinked. "Um, okay."
Like before, Ronald gently began to rub Devin up and down. Within moments, Devin's body spasmed and the smaller boy reflexively tried to sit up.
"You okay?" Ronald asked with concern.
Devin nodded. "Yeah, that just started making me feel really weird, I don't know why I tried sitting up like that."
Ronald shrugged. "Donno, but let's try again." This time, Ronald placed his other hand on Devin's chest so once he had started rubbing again, and Devin's reflexes caused him to try to setup again, Ronald was able to keep him laying down.
As Ronald continued to rub, Devin's body continued to jerk from time to time. "Ronald? This starting to feel really weird!" Devin stated with his voice full of concern.
"It's okay, you're just about there, trust me," the older boy replied as he continued to rub up and down.
After another twenty or thirty seconds of rubbing later, and the jerking and squirming getting more erratic Devin called out again, this time with more alarm and concern in his voice. "Ronald! Ronald! I think I need to pee!"
"It's okay, don't be scared," Ronald reassured the smaller boy.
"But Ronald!" Devin continued, "I think... I think..." Devin never got a chance to finish what he was going to say before his eyes went wide and every muscle in the boy's small body seemed to tense up at once. A few moments later, Devin's hips began to rigidly buck up and down, as if his muscles couldn't decide what to do. At the same time, his penis pulsed desperately trying to expel that which it didn't have.
Ronald continued to stroke Devin until he saw the boy begin to relax. By this point, both Art and Philip were also watching enthusiastically.
Once Ronald backed up a little, Art rushed to Devin's side. "Devin, are you okay?"
After taking a few more seconds to catch his breath, Devin lifted his head up with a huge smile on his face. "Wow! What was that?"
"It's called an orgasm," Ronald replied. "How did it feel?"
"Wild!" Devin replied. "It felt weird, and a little scary, but it also felt really, really good."
"That's what you guys feel when you do it?" Art asked looking first at Ronald and then at Philip.
Philip shook his head, "It feels really good, but my body has never done that."
"I think it's because they are uncut," Ronald offered. "One of my friends mentioned that if you are uncut, it feels a lot better."
"Oh," Philip replied with a small hint of disappointment.
"Can you do that to me?" Art asked as he walked back over to Philip. Philip had only managed to make a single nod before Art was jumping up onto the other bed.
For the next twenty minutes, the boys practiced giving each other orgasms. Devin and Art each had a total of two. They even managed to give Philip and Ronald one. By the time they snuck back to where the nest was setup in the common room, just about everyone else was asleep.
"Where have you guys been?" Forth whispered as he hugged onto his bear.
"Learning," Devin softly replied.
"Learning what?" Forth asked, as his curiosity perked up.
Devin thought for a few moments. "I don't think I can show you here. But tomorrow night, I'll teach it to you."
"What is it?" Forth asked again impatiently.
"You'll see tomorrow," Devin commented as he found a spot to lay down.
"Don't worry," Art replied. "You're going to love it."
Even as Haden slept, his mind was still swimming with all kinds of images and information that he didn't really understand. When he finally opened his eyes, he had no clue exactly how long he was asleep. The first thing he noticed was that Evan was there, asleep on another couch.
As he looked around, the room they were in looked vaguely familiar. He could remember a little bit about coming in here, and getting something to eat, and trying to explain what had happened to his older brother. But after that... after that, everything became a blur.
It didn't take long for the pounding to return to his head, along with the flood of information that each pulse brought with it. For a brief moment, Haden began to panic until the memories of what happened earlier started to come back to him.
'Deep breaths,' Haden whispered to himself as he tried to do the breathing and focusing exercises that had been explained to him earlier. Even as he did this, however, the pounding seemed to get worse, with more and more images flooding into his head.
'Daileass, Help!' Haden called out in his head. Almost immediately, the pounding subsided into a very dull, almost unnoticeable thumping just as he got the feeling of someone giving him a warm hug.
'Don't worry about it, bro,' Daileass spoke in Haden's head, 'Your mind is still really over stretched. It's going to take a while for it to recover, and for you to get used to the full strength of the link.'
As Haden nodded, he suddenly got a worried look on his face. 'Logan! Is Logan still okay?'
'He's doing a lot better Haden,' Daileass replied, 'A bunch of our other brothers have been keeping a close eye on him, and have been helping him work through things as best as can be expected at this point.'
Haden nodded as he got off his couch and started to walk around the room as parts of his mind slowly risked touching on the minds of several of Daileass' and Logan's other brothers that were part of their link. There was so much information floating around, so many different things that were going on all at the same time, that it was nearly impossible for him to keep up with it all. Each person that was in the link seemed to be working on something different while at the same time, he could almost feel the background conversations going on where they were helping each other out.
'Everyone is doing so much to help here except me,' Haden thought, 'I'm just holding everyone back because you guys are having to always stop to help me on stuff.'
'That's not true, Haden.' Tilden sent him.
Kaden quickly sent his thought next, 'Tilden's right. Just look at how much you helped with saving our older brother.'
Haden shook his head, 'That doesn't count. That wasn't me. That was... that was... someone else.' Haden still did not really know what exactly to call the thing that had revealed itself to him earlier.
'It doesn't matter, Haden,' Logan's thoughts echoed around in Haden's head strongly, 'It was your actions that caused the entity to wake up, and to take action. It was your behavior, your thoughts, your desires that it was feeding off, and what ultimately made him decide to take more of an active role rather than the passive role he was perfectly content with playing over the rest of your life.'
'I guess,' Haden said as he did his best to send a mental shrug. 'But it still doesn't seem right that all of the rest of you have tasks that you are doing to help people out with. While I... I just kind of hide all the time.'
Haden could sense some really fast thoughts bouncing around in the link between different people, but they were going way too fast for him to have any chance of figuring out what was being said.
A few moments later, Haden heard Daileass in his head, 'Personally, I would feel a lot better if you would spend some time letting your mind recover a bit more. However, the general feeling is that you're stable enough for the time being, and that just sitting around letting this continue to eat at you could end up doing more harm than good. So... if you are really interested in doing something to help out, I think we have come up with something you might be able to pull off. I'll warn you now though, you might not like it.'
'What is it?' Haden sent back eagerly.