Revolutions Universe: Paradise 2
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"Are you here to save us or kill us?" A sandy blond haired boy dressed in blue asked cautiously when he noticed Sergeant Douglas' multiple weapons.
"Listen, we've got people disarming the explosives right now, but we can't be sure that we've found them all. We need to get everyone out of here and as far away from this place as possible. We've got less than five minutes." Sergeant Douglas said urgently.
"Got it." The blond boy said, then turned and started issuing orders with a general's authority.
"Korbin! Will you get some of the stronger guys together to help carry out the unconscious?"
"Yeah, I'm on it. Kyle, I need you over here!" The boy in red called.
"Kenyon, will you and Jason lead the way out? Get everyone as far away from here as possible."
"We're not leaving without you." A boy in orange responded.
"I'll be right behind you. I just need to be sure that no one's left behind."
"Luke, stay with Joseph and make sure that he gets out. We're trusting you." The boy in orange, Kenyon, said firmly.
"I'll make sure he stays safe." The young man dressed in brown said earnestly.
"You ready?" Joseph asked Sergeant Douglas seriously.
"Yeah. Come on. This way." Sergeant Douglas said as he turned and hurried back up the ramp.
"Anyone who's ready to get out of this place, it's time to go! Follow Kenyon and Jason!" Joseph called loudly.
* * * * *
When they reached the stairway, Sergeant Douglas instructed Airman Greer to stop and help guide any stragglers to go in the right direction.
Once Sergeant Douglas had crested the last flight of stairs, he led the seemingly never ending flow of teenagers through the darkness and finally out to a main hallway.
"Follow this hallway and it should take you to an exit door. I need to make sure that no one gets lost in the dark." Sergeant Douglas said to Kenyon.
"No. You know where we're going. You need to lead the way. Teddy and I can make sure that people are going the right way from here." An older looking boy in gray said from beside Kenyon.
"Theodore." The boy in white corrected his companion under his breath.
"Right." Sergeant Douglas said, then handed the boy in gray his flashlight.
* * * * *
As soon as the first of them exited the main doors, Sergeant Douglas called out, "Anyone who's able, you need to run! We can't have more than a few minutes left and we need to get as far away from here as possible! Go that way!"
"Jason was right, you need to lead them. I'll let people know which way to go." The boy in orange, Kenyon, said as he stopped outside the exit door.
"All personnel, we've disarmed the last known explosive but there's no way to know if there are any more. Rendezvous at Captain Stewart's location in the east parking area." Major Stanley said over the comm device.
"Major Stanley, I'm leading the captives from the secret base away from the dam. There's about two hundred of them. Do you want them at the parking lot or should we go directly for the plane?"
"There's too much we don't know. As soon as we've sussed out the captives' situation, I'll contact Colonel Hayes for further instructions. Remember, we were sent here to gather intelligence. It's not up to us to decide what's going to happen next." Major Stanley said firmly.
"Yes sir. I'll do what I can to compile a summary of their situation for you." Sergeant Douglas said professionally as he glanced behind him to see that the seemingly endless marathon of running teenagers was still following.
* * * * *
There was a sudden low ::boom::, then a distant rumbling.
"What was that?" A girl in blue asked fearfully as she approached Sergeant Douglas from behind.
"I'm guessing that that was one or more of the bombs that were originally intended to destroy the dam, and kill you in the process." Sergeant Douglas said frankly.
"But what about everyone else? Shouldn't we go back and see if anyone's trapped?" The girl asked desperately.
"My team has been ordered to rendezvous in a parking area not far from here. Once everyone has assembled, Major Stanley may decide to send teams back to search for survivors. The best thing we can do right now is to be where we're expected to be." Sergeant Douglas explained seriously.
After another minute or so of running, the girl at his side said, "I'm Zarah."
"I'm on duty right now, so I'm Sergeant Douglas. But off duty, I'm Lee."
"You're awfully young to be in the army, aren't you?" Zarah asked cautiously.
"Not too long ago, I might have told you a long story about how that happened, but right now it doesn't matter. We're all just doing our best to handle the situations we find ourselves in." Sergeant Douglas said frankly.
"That's true." Zarah easily admitted.
"The parking lot should be just up ahead." Sergeant Douglas said, then was relieved to hear a voice on his comm device.
"Team members, report in and give status." Major Stanley called out over a roar in the background.
Lee keyed his mic, then calmly said, "Sergeant Douglas, proceeding toward rendezvous point."
"What's that rumbling sound?" Zarah asked nervously.
"I'm guessing that the dam was either breached or that some mechanism was triggered to allow a sudden unscheduled release of water." Sergeant Douglas said frankly.
"Are we going to drown?"
"No. I doubt that. The people downstream may be at increased risk, but we're high enough up that the water shouldn't bother us."
* * * * *
Sergeant Douglas and Zarah entered the parking lot rendezvous point and froze in place.
All that could be heard were gasps of horror from those who approached from behind them.
Before Sergeant Douglas could think of what he might possibly be able to do, Zarah loudly called out, "Oranges! I need for every one of you to grab a Gray and get to work! If they're even a little bit alive, I need for you to do what you can for them!"
Before Sergeant Douglas could question her orders, Zarah continued, "Greens and Yellows, start helping to get these bodies separated and laid out. If you catch any indication that they're still alive, call an Orange over to help them."
Sergeant Douglas looked at Zarah curiously and did a surface scan of her thoughts. What he found shocked him.
"Everyone else, get to work helping where you can. I know it's gross, but there's a chance that these people might have some answers to explain what's been done to us." Zarah said firmly.
When several people continued to stand around looking at her stupidly, she said more loudly, "Our answers are dying. Move!"
"You're all psychic?" Sergeant Douglas asked cautiously.
"Yeah. All in different ways." Zarah confirmed, then added, "Listen, now that I've had a few seconds to focus on you, I know who and what you are and where you're originally from. I understand that you've got lots of questions about us, so you have my permission to look into my mind and find whatever answers you might need. But right now, my people need me."
Sergeant Douglas vacantly stared at her for a long moment, then said, "I need to make a call."
"Do what you need to do..." Zarah said to him, then called out, "Come on everyone! There's got to be wounded mixed in with all these bodies! Let's help them while they've still got a chance!"
* * * * *
"Colonel Hayes, this is Sergeant Douglas from the Firebirds."
"Go ahead, Lee. Tell me what's going on there."
"I'm sure that Major Stanley will be giving you the official report soon, so I'll leave those details for him to explain. What I need to tell you right now is that the secret base hidden within the Hoover Dam was filled with about two hundred teenage psychics that were bred in the outside world, then abducted when Ashwood started his attacks. Their genetic material has been 'harvested' and from the look of it, retrieving it was the actual objective of the incursion."
"Did they get away with the genetic material?"
"It appears so. The genetic material was collected, the staff overseeing the collection and imprisonment of the psychics was slaughtered. And the self-destruct mechanism was triggered to eliminate any evidence or useful genetic materials from falling into enemy hands."
"I've received a report that there was an explosion at the dam. How many were you able to save?"
"I don't know. We started leading them out before the explosion and they're still arriving. There are at least a hundred here at the rendezvous point and there could be another hundred making their way here."
"And they're all genetically enhanced?"
"No. It's been speculated that people with naturally occurring psychic abilities were identified as early as the 1900's and recruited for this program. They were selectively bred to produce the desired offspring with increasing psychic potentials."
"I assume that since you're contacting me directly that you haven't shared these facts with Major Stanley."
"No. But I spotted the hidden base and knew about the self-destruct when we entered the dam and he's suspicious of how I knew about it. I'm going to have to tell him something."
"Give him the UNIT standard line. I'll back you up. Do your best to keep him from finding out that your new friends have abilities."
"I'm afraid it might be too late for that. Some of my 'new friends' are able to perform psychic healing. Right now they're working to find survivors among the slaughtered lab workers."
"Then we're going to have to debrief the whole team and give this entire event a 'Top Secret' classification. I didn't want to have to do it that way, but it looks like it's out of our hands."
"What are we going to do with all of them?"
"Give me some time to work on that. It might help if you let me know what they would 'like' to happen next."
"I'll ask around."
"I have another call, probably Major Stanley, I'll get back to you when some decisions have been made."
"Thank you, Alvin. Lee out."
* * * * *
"What are you doing there?" Captain Stewart called out as she looked up from the patient that she had been working on.
Sergeant Douglas noticed and hurried to explain.
"Captain Stewart, I know it's going to be hard for you to believe, but some of these kids have psychic healing abilities. If you had a full hospital and staff at your disposal then there wouldn't be a need for them to do anything, but with things being as they are..."
"I've got a live one over here!" A girl in green called out suddenly.
As Captain Stewart started to move away, Sergeant Douglas quietly said, "Watch."
As much as Captain Stewart wanted to go and investigate, she held herself back and watched as two girls, one dressed in gray and the other in orange, hurried to where the green girl had called out.
"Doctor." Sergeant Douglas said to gain her attention, "These kids have a legitimate healing ability, but they can't do everything. It looks to me like the best way to help the most people will be to use the healers where they'll do the most good, then focus your expertise on doing what they can't."
"I need to get back to work." Captain Stewart said tersely as she walked away.
Although she hadn't given any outward indication of it, Sergeant Douglas could tell that she had listened.
* * * * *
"What happened?" Zarah asked suddenly, catching Sergeant Douglas' attention. When he turned he saw that she wasn't talking to him.
"There was an explosion. First there was a loud noise, then we couldn't see or breathe." The dirt covered boy said past gasping breaths.
"Are you okay, Aaron?" Zarah asked with concern.
"Yeah. I've been running. I just need to catch my breath." Aaron said as he sat heavily on the ground.
"What about the others? Did everyone get out?"
"I think so. Joseph is right behind me. He's helping people who can't keep up."
"That sounds like him." Zarah said fondly.
"What happened here?" Aaron asked as he looked around.
"It looks like the people who were keeping us captive were massacred when their masters came to collect our genetic material." Zarah said frankly.
"That brown guy with Joseph, is he one of them?"
"Yes. But don't worry. Luke's a sweet guy." Zarah assured him.
"What should we do now? Should we keep running?"
"No. We need to stay here but... Aaron, I need your help with something."
"The Browns are Luke's friends and family. He doesn't need to see this. We need to go back and stop him before he gets here." Zarah said decisively.
"You're in charge here, aren't you?" Aaron asked as he looked around.
"I'm doing my best to see that everyone has something to do to keep them from worrying." Zarah said frankly.
"I'll take care of Luke. You stay here and keep everyone doing what they need to do."
"Okay. Thanks Aaron."
* * * * *
"What was that all about?" Sergeant Douglas asked Zarah quietly.
"I'm just trying to spare a good person some unnecessary pain." Zarah said simply.
"But what if it's necessary pain?" Sergeant Douglas asked curiously.
"I'm not going to let it happen, so it doesn't matter." Zarah said simply.
"You're a lot more than you seem."
"So are you. What's your point?"
"It's not often that I run into someone on my own level."
"I assume that you're not referring to military training."
"I'm talking about those of us who've been manipulated and improved, sometimes it's hard for us to relate to unmodified people."
"How old are you?"
"Don't you already know?"
"I was just trying to make a point. We're both fifteen. In that most basic way, we are on the same level. But I don't want to make the mistake of reading more into it than what's really there."
"Maybe I am over analyzing it."
"And maybe you're not." Zarah said simply, then turned suddenly when a dirt covered boy in green ran up to her with a look of urgency.
"What's up, Wade?" Zarah asked with immediate concern.
"Lee, I need your help." Wade said quickly.
"Do you know who I am?"
"The greens are all telepaths. I thought you already 'read' me." Zarah said cautiously.
"It was quite a bit to take in all at once." Sergeant Douglas told her, then turned to Wade and asked, "What did you need, Wade?"
"I've been able to sense you since we left the dam. From the strength of your shields, you've got to be the strongest and best trained telepath here." Wade said quickly.
"I suppose that's true." Sergeant Douglas said warily.
"On the way here, I was able to pick up enough psychic chatter to find out about the Browns and what was done to them. I don't know if anyone has thought of this yet, but we've got a lot of unanswered questions and they might have some of the answers. You need to scan them, I mean really scan them. Go deep and find out everything that you can as fast as you can. Every minute that you wait could be another important fact that we're going to lose when one of them dies." Wade said firmly.
Sergeant Douglas looked to Zarah for her opinion of what Wade was asking him to do.
"It could turn out to be important. If even one of them knows who's behind all of this, it would be worth it." Zarah reluctantly agreed.
Sergeant Douglas looked over the parking lot strewn with corpses and finally said, "We'd better do it before my team arrives. They don't know anything about psychics and I doubt that they'll do anything to improve our situation."
"Wade, gather as many greens as you can get and start doing your own research. Lee doesn't know all the questions that we have, so he might not recognize the answers we're looking for when he comes across them." Zarah firmly instructed.
"Come on, Lee." Wade said urgently.
"Right behind you." Sergeant Douglas immediately responded.
* * * * *
As Sergeant Douglas dipped into the first mind, he was sickened by what he found.
Although the man had a name, it was mostly meaningless. Regardless of what potential this person might have once had, the ruthless indoctrination and constant reinforcement of bizarre religious programming made him into nothing more than an obedient slave for the elders; one of many.
After sifting through the revolting belief system, which seemed to center mostly on rules prohibiting any healthy form of sexual expression, Sergeant Douglas determined that the man didn't have any clue about the 'big picture' of what he had been trained all his life to do.
Any curiosity that the husk of a man might have once had, had been whipped out of him, mostly figuratively, over the course of his pathetic wasted life. He didn't question. He didn't speculate. That which didn't directly impact him or what he was expected to do, was consciously purged from his thinking.
By the time Sergeant Douglas withdrew from the mind, he felt like he might vomit. He opened his eyes and looked at the face of the man that he had been scanning and noticed a gray girl and an orange girl working to save his life.
He had to fight the urge to stop them. In his opinion, the man they were devoting so much care and attention to wasn't worth saving. He was less than an animal. Alive or dead, he was barely more than a broken mannequin, no longer fit to serve any purpose.
With more than a little trepidation, Sergeant Douglas delved into the next mind. There was a slight flicker of life left in the body, but he gave a little of his own mental energy to coax the mind to awaken.
The woman he scanned was no less vile or irredeemable than the man had been.
Along with the archaic religious teachings, there was also a formidable amount of self-loathing simply for the fact that she was a woman. She had the same incurious nature and single-minded dedication to her specific job, to the exclusion of all else.
In the woman's case, Sergeant Douglas found it curious within her memories that she had a family, but she seemed to have no emotional attachment to them whatsoever. In fact, she had no emotional attachment to anyone. She had her duty, which was monotonous and repetitive and in no way fulfilling.
"That one." Wade said as he pointed to a man with multiple abdominal wounds.
"What?" Sergeant Douglas asked as he withdrew from the woman's mind and tried to somewhat center himself.
"Read him. I think he might have something, but I can't go deep enough. I don't know if it's because I'm so new at this or if it's the drugs they gave me." Wade said seriously.
Rather than question further, Sergeant Douglas insinuated himself into the man's mind and immediately found that Wade had been right. The man had at least some concept of self-worth and was in some sort of supervisory or middle-management role within their organizational structure.
Although what he came across wasn't as much as he had hoped, he was at least able to come up with something.
"Doctor, report." A stern voice commanded.
Sergeant Douglas withdrew from the man's mind and turned to see Major Stanley approaching.
"Since we've been here, eight survivors have been located, two of those have since died. Only one has achieved consciousness, although I wouldn't count any testimony he might give as being credible. All he's really done is babble religious nonsense." Captain Stewart said clinically.
"Major, I may be able to help you with that." Sergeant Douglas reluctantly interjected.
"Report, Sergeant." Major Stanley said firmly.
Sergeant Douglas glanced around as he considered the information he was about to divulge. He finally determined that regardless of his decision at that moment, everyone present would be brought into the secret eventually.
"Major Stanley, I am part of a group that was genetically engineered to be enhanced soldiers and infiltrators. We're all highly telepathic and exceptionally strong." Sergeant Douglas said calmly, then paused for a moment to allow Major Stanley to process what he'd just been told.
"He's one of us, although he's been modified even further than I have."
Major Stanley slowly nodded and finally said, "I'm not accepting everything that you're saying as verifiable fact, but I'll continue to listen."
"Thank you sir." Sergeant Douglas said sincerely, then continued, "Although I wasn't told as much, I assume that I was included on this mission in case my unique skills might be of benefit."
"With them not knowing what the true objective was, I can see why they'd want someone like you on the team to gather intelligence." Major Stanley conceded.
"I wasn't able to gather too much information from the injured, mostly because they didn't have any. But I was able to get an overview of the operation inside the base; the chain of command and various different duties that needed to be regularly performed. I don't know how much use it will be to us, but it might be of interest to some of the captives." Sergeant Douglas said carefully.
"What can you tell me about the captives?" Major Stanley asked as he looked around.
"Although they're not from the same program that created me, they are from a similar program. All two hundred of them have a psychic ability..." Sergeant Douglas trailed off as he watched carefully for Major Stanley's reaction.
"Two hundred telepaths?" Major Stanley asked to verify.
"No sir. Two hundred people with different psionic abilities. From what I gathered from talking with them, only twenty to twenty five of them are telepaths... they're the ones in green." Sergeant Douglas added as an aside.
Major Stanley looked several feet away at Wade, who was leaning over a body.
As soon as he did, Wade looked up and said, "Yes, I am."
"Sir, I've contacted Colonel Hayes about the two hundred captives, so that he would have time to consider the options."
"On whose authority?!" Major Stanley barked.
"His, sir." Sergeant Douglas stated simply, then continued, "I have no doubt that this entire matter is going to end up being classified as 'Top Secret'. He needed to know the facts from the beginning if we were going to have any chance of containing it."
Major Stanley seemed to be considering for a moment, then looked around the parking lot littered with corpses.
"What are they doing?" He asked as he pointed to a gray boy and an orange girl at the side of a body.
"They're a healing team. The people wearing orange have a psychic healing ability. The ones in gray can sense pain and direct the healers to where the healing is needed." Sergeant Douglas said slowly.
"Can the doctor verify any of that?" Major Stanley asked cautiously.
"You'd have to ask her. Unless I'm given a compelling reason to do so, I don't read the thoughts of the members of my team." Sergeant Douglas said seriously.
"Is that it? Is your report complete?" Major Stanley asked cautiously.
"Then let me tell you what I think." Major Stanley said slowly. "You came into this knowing exactly where we were going and what our mission was. You knew about the self-destruct countdown and were sent here to rescue those captive teenagers. All this crap about psychic abilities is just a smoke screen to keep anyone from demanding answers to inconvenient questions. Everything from here on can be explained away as being a 'psychic vision' or some such nonsense so you'll never have to reveal who's pulling your strings and what you really know."
Sergeant Douglas remained silent as he watched the Major's facial expressions carefully.
After a moment to calm himself, Major Stanley said in a more reasonable voice, "Either way, the explosives were disarmed... well, most of them. Although there was some damage, the dam wasn't destroyed. Beyond that, the captives were rescued. The presence of supposed psychics doesn't change those facts. And since the president and Colonel Hayes seem to be supporting you in your story, I'll consider it a moot point."
There was a long silent moment as Major Stanley considered his next words.
"I think that since you claim that you are psychic and that these children are as well, that you should be in charge of them. You speak their language. I'm going to contact Colonel Hayes and see what he wants us to do next. Try to keep the kids from wandering away or getting into too much trouble." Major Stanley said firmly.
"Yes sir." Sergeant Douglas said smartly.
* * * * *
"Colonel Hayes, we've left the dam and have rendezvoused at a parking area to the east. There was an explosion at the dam and some release of water."
"I've just been in contact with the staff at the dam. They report that the damage to the dam is significant and are requesting aid to make repairs. I've already dispatched work crews to assist them. The staff assured me that their personnel have all been accounted for and that they will be able to manage until the work crews arrive."
"Sergeant Douglas mentioned that he had already reported to you about finding the secret base. Are we going to evacuate them or establish a camp for them in the local area?"
"Considering the lengths that the enemy forces have gone to to eliminate them, I think that evacuation is our best option. I've dispatched two more planes to aid in their evacuation. All tolled, how many casualties are you reporting?"
"Captain Stewart reports six survivors among the fifty or so who were massacred at the parking lot. On my way here, I counted approximately eight unconscious children being carried by their comrades. It's possible that there are more, but those are all that I'm aware of."
"Major, we can't be sure that there isn't an airstrike inbound. Load the casualties and the leaders from the secret base on your plane and take off as soon as possible. Return to Fairchild and await further orders."
* * * * *
"Sergeant Douglas, we have new orders." Major Stanley said as he approached.
"Yes sir." Sergeant Douglas said as he snapped to attention.
"Walk with me." Major Stanley said as he started walking, not waiting to see if Sergeant Douglas was going to follow.
Sergeant Douglas fell in beside Major Stanley, matching his pace.
"Can you really read minds?" Major Stanley asked cautiously.
"Yes sir. I really can." Sergeant Douglas said simply.
"And all the other stuff that you claimed about your new friends, you really believe all of that?"
"Yes sir. They're young and their abilities have just awakened, so they don't have the power or the skill to use their abilities effectively, but they do have abilities."
"If what you're saying is true, and I'm not saying that it is, then humanity may have just taken a fatal turn. In their quest to create a better person, they've lost what it means to be human. In essence, they've made themselves obsolete by creating creatures that can surpass them in every way." Major Stanley said thoughtfully.
"Sir. We're looked upon as genetic experiments... or weapons. We weren't created to replace you, we were created to be controlled and used by you. We're not the monsters." Sergeant Douglas said calmly.
"I suppose it's the age-old question of the sins of the father. You had no say in your own creation, yet you still have to bear the consequences."
"Yes sir. But regardless whether we were conceived in a womb or a petri dish, we're still people. Despite how or why any of us were created, we've each got a personal responsibility to help each other and try to do what's best for all of us."
Before they could say more, they arrived at Captain Stewart's side.
Major Stanley keyed his comm and said, "Sergeant Barnes, I need you to meet with me at Captain Stewart's location in the east parking lot."
"I'm right here, sir." Sergeant Barnes answered before Major Stanley had released the mic button.
"I've been given our new orders. More planes are being dispatched to evacuate the captive children back to Fairchild. To do that we're going to need to split the load at least three ways. That also means splitting the team three ways. Sergeant Barnes, if you have the equipment to do so, I'd like for you to make arrangements for us to be able to stay in contact with each other whether we're here, on the plane or in Washington state."
"Yes sir. It may take a few minutes, but I think I have everything I need." Sergeant Barnes responded.
"Get to it then. Dismissed." Major Stanley said simply, then turned and continued, "Captain Stewart, we're going to evac all your patients to the plane, they'll be going out on the first flight. Commandeer anyone you need to help you relocate the survivors and start moving them as soon as you're ready."
"Yes sir." Captain Stewart said immediately.
"Sergeant Douglas, Colonel Hayes has said that he would like the leaders of the captive group out on the first transport. Gather them and get them loaded."
"I noticed on the way back from the dam that they also had some casualties. Make sure that they also get loaded and that Captain Stewart has a chance to have a look at them."
"Yes sir." Sergeant Douglas said again.
* * * * *
"Zarah, do you have a minute? I need your help." Sergeant Douglas asked cautiously.
"What do you need?" Zarah asked while keeping the majority of her attention on what was going on with the Browns.
"We've been ordered to gather the leaders of your group and take them back with us on the first flight out. I'm just not sure... is that going to throw everything into chaos for your people when you leave?"
"I won't be leaving. You need to get with Joseph. He's the leader of the blues and beyond that, he's had the most contact with all the other leaders." Zarah said simply.
"Oh, from the way you automatically took charge, I thought that you were running everything."
"I usually am. I take charge when Joseph's off dealing with other situations... like he is now."
"Do you know where he is?" Sergeant Douglas asked as he looked around.
"I've heard that he made it here, but I haven't seen him yet. Try backtracking the way we came and you'll probably run into him." Zarah said thoughtfully.
"I'm probably going to have to leave with the first plane as soon as we can get everyone loaded. So, just in case I don't see you again, stay safe."
There is at least one more chapter to come.
I am not going to make any comments at this time. I will wait until I have read the following chapter.
Darryl AKA The Radio Ranchers