Revolutions Universe: Paradise 2

Operation: Snowball

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Chapter 4

Once they had lifted into the air, Sergeant Douglas looked toward Lisa and quietly asked, "How's he doing?"

"Better, for the moment." Lisa said quietly, then added, "The takeoff distracted him."

Although Sergeant Douglas knew that Luke still had the entire grieving process to go through, it pleased him to see that it had been interrupted before Luke had been too severely impacted.

"Have we started?" Major Stanley asked as he entered the large main cabin.

"Actually, we were just about to." Sergeant Douglas said simply, then took out his comm device and started it recording.

"Do you want to go over things and help me try to make sense of all of this?" Sergeant Douglas asked Joseph carefully.

"Before you do that, you might want to talk to some of us who've been around for a while." Theodore said simply.

Sergeant Douglas looked at him curiously for a moment, then said, "You're blocking me. I can't read you at all."

"Yeah. You probably don't want to get into my head. You might not be able to get out." Theodore said frankly.

"How do you mean?" Sergeant Douglas asked cautiously.

"That's something I'd rather not discuss with the group. If you're really interested, I can tell you about it later." Theodore offered amiably.

"Okay. What information have you gotten that we don't already have?" Sergeant Douglas asked carefully.

"I'm not a telepath, so I actually don't know how much you've already discovered. But I've been locked in that place since I was nine years old. A couple of the others..." Theodore looked down the row of people to the other whites, "...well, they think that I might have gone a little bit crazy because of it."

"More than a little." The other male white said playfully in response.

"Anyway, in all that time I've been drugged and probed and I've actually forgotten what real food tastes like... speaking of which..." Theodore trailed off, looking at Sergeant Douglas expectantly.

"Oh, that's right. They told me that none of you had eaten since yesterday. It won't hurt to stop for a few minutes so that you can eat." Sergeant Douglas said quickly.

"Go ahead and have your talk. I know where the MRE's are. I'll be right back." Joseph said as he stood.

"We can wait..." Sergeant Douglas offered.

"I'd rather you didn't. You can fill me in if I miss anything." Joseph said easily, then asked, "Kenyon? Jayce? Do you want to help me for a few minutes?"

Sergeant Douglas looked at the three, then suddenly realized what Joseph was actually doing and turned his attention back to Theodore. "The food is soon to be on the way. Now you were saying..."

"Right. Um, okay. The first thing is, my ability manifested when I was about six or maybe I had just turned seven. Because of the way it works, I thought I was going crazy... I'm not talking about emotional outbursts or anything like that, but real, full-on crazy. I was hearing voices and seeing things that weren't there."

"What is your ability?" Sergeant Douglas asked cautiously.

"I'm clairvoyant." Theodore said simply, then added, "Well, at least I am when I'm not drugged half out of my mind."

"So people thought you were crazy. What happened?"

"Okay. This is going to sound kind of sick to some of you, but stay with me, I'm pretty sure I figured it out." Theodore said in prelude.

Cautious looks went around the cabin at the warning.

"My parents were never that great to begin with. I mean, they obviously didn't give a rat's ass about me, but as long as I wasn't bothering them for toys or food or... affection, they pretty much just ignored me. Those were the good times. Later, toward the end, my dad just kinda disappeared. I don't know if he left my mom or got killed or was recalled by the project. Nothing was ever explained to me. One day he just wasn't there anymore. After that, my mom started getting really abusive toward me. At first she'd just smack me around a little, but then she started getting her jollies out of hurting me, so she'd kick me until I'd cry or she'd burn me with cigarettes.

"The cops were called, mom was put in jail, and I was put into this group home, blah blah blah, you know the story. Anyway, by this time, I was really fucked up. The neglect, abuse and me thinking I was crazy made me think about killing myself. Then this other kid was put in the group home with me and he'd just lost his parents in a car accident. He was really nice and cool and he seemed to like me and... well, he was my first real friend." Theodore finished with a smile.

"Is this story going somewhere or can we just move on?" Sergeant Douglas asked cautiously.

"The 'friend' I met is Jason K, he's the big good-looking guy in gray who just walked out of here... probably got his pants around his ankles right now from the way Joseph was looking at him." Theodore said with a grin.

"Go on... I mean with your story. Not with what Jason and... you know what I mean." Sergeant Douglas stammered.

"I know." Theodore said with a grin, then continued, "That's the first time that I ever paid attention to the visions that I was having. It's the first time I ever thought that they might be something more than my imagination."

"Were they visions of the future?" Sergeant Douglas asked cautiously.

"Futures." Theodore corrected, then continued, "The only thing is, all the futures that I could see into looked pretty much the same. They all had me in my little white jail cell, wearing my little white jumpsuit and eating whale boogers, or whatever that was, for every meal."

"Is that it?"

"No. In one of the futures, I saw myself with Jason K, dressed in gray, like he is right now. I put it off for as long as I could, but eventually I had to break ties with him. I was really careful to do everything that I had to do to make that future come true. Some of it wasn't too nice and some of it hurt Jason K, but I did what I had to do. In a sense, I chose to be here right now." Theodore said seriously.

"Are you saying that by using your clairvoyant ability, you condemned your best and only friend to suffer the same fate that you were destined for?" Major Stanley asked cautiously.

"Well, it sounds like kind of a dick move, when you put it that way, but I was just a kid. All I knew is that I had one chance not to be alone for the rest of my life, so I took it." Theodore said regretfully.

"Have you had any visions of the future since then?" Sergeant Douglas asked carefully.

"Just flashes. They've been really good about keeping me drugged up so I couldn't find a way to escape. When I've skipped a meal to try and let the drugs flush out of my system, they'd just call a 'blackout' and I'd wake up completely mind blind again."

"So, what is it that you think you've figured out?" Sergeant Douglas asked cautiously.

"The abuse, it wasn't a random thing. They 'tortured' me to get my ability to manifest. My dad, my mom, the house parents at the foster home, I think they were all part of it. The pieces just fit together too smoothly for it to have been random chance. They got my ability up and running, then stuck me in that place so that they could milk me for my 'genetic material' for the rest of my life, however long they allowed that to be." Theodore said gravely.

"It's the same for all the whites." The other 'White' boy said seriously. "I mean, not exactly, but they engineered events to put us under stress and make us 'break out', then they locked us away so that they could milk us."

"So it would seem that since your abilities manifested earlier than the others, that you were somehow more valuable to the project?" Sergeant Douglas asked speculatively.

"We didn't know about the others. As far as any of us knew, we were the only ones." Theodore said frankly, then added, "But things changed about a month ago... or, at least I'm guessing it was a month. All of a sudden, the routine that we'd lived with for years was broken. Stuff was being done differently. It was mostly little things, but we knew that something was going on."

"Sorry that took so long. We didn't have a box knife." Joseph said as he carried an open box of MRE's into the cabin.

"Riiiight." Theodore said with a grin at Joseph.

Although Joseph blushed, he didn't respond. He simply went from person to person handing out packaged meals.

"It took us a while to find the water, but you'll need this." Kenyon said as he followed along, handing out bottles of water.

"I'll start handing out the water over here. Don't drink it yet, you're going to need it for your meals." Jason said as he started on the other side of the aisle.

Theodore smiled at Jason as he approached.

"You like ravioli, don't you?" Jason asked as he handed Theodore a bottle of water.

"I used to love it, but I don't think I've had it since the last time I ate it with you at the group home." Theodore said honestly.

"Well, I got this for you. I hope you enjoy it." Jason said as he handed the MRE to Theodore.

"Are you going to have one too?" Theodore asked hopefully.

"Yeah. If you can get these guys to scoot over, we can have ravioli together, just like we used to." Jason said with a smile.

"Okay. I'll wait for you." Theodore said with astonishment.

"I don't hate you, Teddy. I don't understand exactly what happened back then, but when you say that you had your reasons, I believe you."

"I go by Theodore now."

"Too bad. You'll always be Teddy to me." Jason said before handing out bottles of water down the row.

Theodore looked at the ravioli MRE in his hand, then quietly asked the girl in yellow next to him, "Would you mind scooting down?"

"I'll just take his seat. He obviously won't be needing it." Alyssa said before crossing the aisle and taking Jason's vacated seat.

* * * * *

It took a few trips to the back of the plane and a few minutes for everyone to have a meal in hand, but Jason eventually returned and took his seat next to Theodore. The two of them worked as a team to figure out the water activated food warmer and had a great time doing so.

Sergeant Douglas watched their interactions with interest. To him, it seemed that there were a few brief moments when all the years that the two boys had been apart were absent and they were two seven-year-old best friends, just enjoying doing things together.

Once all the activity seemed to have settled down, Sergeant Douglas decided to continue, "So it sounds to me like once your abilities manifested you were drugged and used as livestock for your genetic material."

"Yeah. That's true." Theodore verified, then added, "If you're interested, I actually came up with a theory about that."

"Okay. I think we need to stay focused on the facts right now, but I'd be interested to hear your theory." Sergeant Douglas said cautiously.

"Once they had enough evidence to prove that our abilities had manifested and they had us completely under their control, then what if they were collecting our genetic material so that they could auction it off? What if we really were being treated as livestock?" Theodore asked seriously as he began squeezing jalapeno cheese spread onto a cracker.

"So rather than harvesting your genetic material to create the next generation in their breeding program, you think that they were collecting your genetics to sell to the highest bidder?" Sergeant Douglas slowly asked.

"I don't see any reason why they couldn't do both." Theodore said simply, then took a big bite of the cracker.

"We can't work under the assumption that that's what they were doing, but I think the possibility is worth considering. I'll be sure to submit it as part of my report." Sergeant Douglas stated thoughtfully.

"Can I ask a question?" Joseph quietly interjected.

"Go ahead." Sergeant Douglas said as he turned his attention away from Theodore.

"There's no way a program like this could have gone on for as long as it has without someone in the government being aware of it, if not actually controlling it themselves. Is the report you're writing going to be submitted to those same people?" Joseph asked carefully.

"No. In the time that you've been away, quite a bit has happened. President Ashwood attempted to kill President Bryce and in the weeks that followed, the country divided into two camps. The war has been fought on several different fronts."

Sergeant Douglas looked around the cabin to find everyone waiting for him to reveal just how bad 'bad' was.

"That's only the tip of the iceberg. I could spend the entire rest of the trip telling you about what else has happened, but we have things to do right now. Suffice it to say that the people we are working for aren't the same ones who established the program that captured you." Sergeant Douglas finished determinedly.

Joseph reluctantly nodded his acceptance.

"We're currently in the western territory, controlled by the forces loyal to President Bryce. Pretty much everything east of the Mississippi is controlled by the forces loyal to President Ashwood. There's a large, ever changing, swath of territory in between that's claimed by both but controlled by neither." Sergeant Douglas said gravely.

"So, we're essentially at war right now."


"And where are you taking us?"

"To Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington state. It's deep in Bryce territory and relatively safe. I don't know where you're going to be going from there."

"So you don't know what's going to happen to us?" Joseph asked cautiously.

"No. But I think that when I give my report, it might influence the decisions being made on your behalf. If you know what you'd like to happen next, I could pass it on so the people making decisions could take your wishes into account." Sergeant Douglas said carefully.

"They're going to keep us together." Theodore said past a mouthful of food.

Everyone turned their attention to him, waiting for him to explain.

Once he had swallowed, Theodore said, "I haven't got my clairvoyance back, if that's what you're thinking. But they've got two hundred untrained psionic kids that they have to do something with. There's no way they can just turn us loose. And considering that some of our genetics might fetch a pretty good price on the black market, any of us would be at risk of being abducted again if we were on our own. If they split us into smaller groups, then they have to worry about security that many times over. The whole thing becomes a huge burden on them with no payoff and seemingly no end in sight."

"So what do you see as an answer?" Sergeant Douglas asked cautiously.

"The only outcome I can see that makes any sense at all is if we're kept together, trained to use our abilities to their best advantage, then put to work when we're ready." Theodore said simply before taking another bite of food.

"You wouldn't know anyone who could make something like that work, would you?" Joseph asked Sergeant Douglas with a knowing grin.

"Like I said before, I'm just going to write the report and turn it over to my superiors. I'll be sure to include what you've just said." Sergeant Douglas said more formally.

"Be sure to tell them that wherever they send us, to make sure that they have plenty of this MRE ravioli. This is fantastic!" Theodore said with a wide grin.

Jason smiled at the comment, then went back to eating his own meal.

* * * * *

"Let me spell out what I've learned so far. That way if I've missed anything or misunderstood any of the facts, you can let me know before I issue my report." Sergeant Douglas said calmly.

There seemed to be an air of agreement, so he continued, "The whites were abducted four or five years ago..."

"That was just me. I was the first. The rest arrived at different times since." Theodore quickly interjected.

"Okay. So over the past five years, the whites arrived one by one." Sergeant Douglas corrected, then waited to see if anyone had an objection. When no one did, he continued, "Then about a month and a half ago, everyone else arrived, all at once."

Again, he waited, but no one had anything to add.

"Somehow they arranged for all of you to be 'excused' from school in advance of the abduction, so no questions would be asked." Sergeant Douglas said carefully.

"That doesn't apply to the whites." Theodore informed him.

"What did they do to you?" Sergeant Douglas asked cautiously.

"Well, in my case, they 'tricked' me into eating drugged food. I knew what they were doing and ate it willingly because I knew that if I didn't, things would go that much worse for me. I ate the food that the house parents 'made especially for me' and the next thing I knew, I was in my little white prison." Theodore said simply.

"All I can figure is that they must have been feeding me the drugs to kill my telepathy for a while before they finally gave me the knockout drugs, because I never saw it coming." The other boy in white said simply.

"What's your name?" Sergeant Douglas asked cautiously.

"Gary. Well, Garrett, really. But nobody calls me that."

"And you're a telepath?"

"Yeah. But I was stupid and let people know about it. Not everyone, but the people close to me. The people I trusted... big mistake."

"What about now? Can you read me?" Sergeant Douglas asked curiously.

"Nope. I'm so doped up that I can barely sit upright. They've had me on the heavy duty drugs for so long that it's probably going to take a while before it's all out of my system." Gary said frankly.

"Let me save you some time here." Theodore interrupted. "Jesse is a clairvoyant, but hers is different from mine. She can't see into the past or the future. She just sees right now."

"Isn't that what everyone sees?" Sergeant Douglas asked slowly.

"She can see what someone is doing 'right now', two hundred miles from here." Theodore said frankly.

"Okay, I could see that being useful." Sergeant Douglas admitted.

"Debbie can bend light. Before you ask, she can't turn invisible, but with enough practice she might be able to manage it someday."

"So it seems that the white abilities are more advanced than the others. I wonder if that has to do with your abilities being drawn out earlier or if they chose to draw your abilities out earlier because you had greater potential." Sergeant Douglas said speculatively.

"I think that if they could have achieved the same results with everyone, they would have done it." Theodore said frankly, then continued, "The last two are Katrina and Cassandra. Kat is a firebug and Cass is a healer... or the opposite, depending on her mood."

"What do you mean?" Sergeant Douglas asked cautiously.

"Before they 'got' me, I figured out that I could make sick people get well. I could also make well people get sick... just by wanting it." Cassandra said tonelessly.

"I'll be sure not to piss you off." Sergeant Douglas said carefully, then continued, "So now that we've covered the whites, what I've learned about the rest of the colors is that they were abducted, did their best to deal with being held captive, were subjected to blackouts, drugged food and sexual violation when they were unconscious, and then they realized that they had psionic abilities."

"Yep." Joseph said easily.

"Then, for some reason that we don't fully understand, the people holding you against your will suddenly decided to collect the harvested DNA and destroy all of you." Sergeant Douglas said slowly.

"Well, if we're at war and the base we were in was located in 'enemy territory', I can see the cost benefit analysis suggesting that it would be better to kill us all than to try and relocate more than two hundred people hundreds of miles across enemy territory or face the ever increasing risk of us being discovered and falling into enemy hands." The boy in orange, Kenyon, said thoughtfully.

"You're letting it show." Joseph stage whispered to him.

"I mean, they're the bad guys, right? What'd you expect them to do?" Kenyon quickly added.

"Excuse me, but I have a question that I'd like answered, simply for my own gratification." Major Stanley interrupted.

"Of course sir. What would you like to know?" Sergeant Douglas asked immediately.

"Back at the parking lot, you told me that the greens were telepaths and mentioned some of the other colors. Could you tell me what abilities each color has? I think it would be a good thing to know when I'm talking to them."

"Yes sir. As you said, the greens are telepaths, the yellows are precognitives, the oranges are physical healers, the reds are telekinetics, the blacks are empaths, the purples are emotional healers, the grays are physiol empaths and the blues are retrocognitives."

"Send me a copy of your report, if you would, and I'll look up which of those I don't already know." Major Stanley said uneasily.

"Yes sir." Sergeant Douglas immediately agreed.

"So, is that it? Is that all you needed to know from us?" Joseph asked curiously.

"Unless any of you have anything more that you feel like sharing, I think that covers the basics." Sergeant Douglas told the group seriously, then added, "I'm sure that each and every one of you is going to be interviewed, at length, about your experiences. The point of this was to give them an overview of what you experienced as a group."

"Lee." Joseph said, gaining his attention. "One more thing that you might want to tell them is that I don't think that there's a single one of us who would want to go back to our old lives, if that were even possible. We've become closer to each other than we ever were to anyone in the 'normal' world. We want to live and grow and be challenged... and be appreciated... together."

"I've just received word that our fighter escort has caught up to us, so don't be concerned if you notice them." Major Stanley announced to the group, then continued, "Also, for those of you concerned for your friends that we left behind, their plane is expected to land within minutes. Lieutenant Miller is organizing the next group for departure as we speak, so you should be reunited before very long."

"Joseph, I need your help." Aaron said as he walked into the cabin.

"What's wrong?" Joseph asked as he stood.

"One of the browns just woke up. She asked me to kill her." Aaron said gravely.

"Sergeant Douglas, would you help me? We might need a telepath for this job." Joseph asked hopefully.

"I don't know how much good it will do, but I'll go with you anyway." Sergeant Douglas said as he got up to join Joseph.

* * * * *

"Ruth, my name is Joseph. Aaron asked me to talk with you. Will you talk with me?" Joseph asked carefully.

"I was supposed to die. You should have let me die." Ruth rasped in an anguished whisper.

"You don't have to die. You can get better and lead a normal life."

"I've had my life. My work is done. I need to die now."

"Joseph, she's not speaking from depression. She's convinced that her work in the world is done and only wants to ascend to be with her god now." Sergeant Douglas said distantly as he examined the inner workings of her mind.

"Did they give her some 'self-destruct' hypnotic suggestion?" Joseph asked curiously.

"If only..." Sergeant Douglas said slowly, then eventually added, "If it were a simple hypnotic suggestion implanted in her psyche, I could deal with it, but this... they've systematically destroyed her self-identity and left nothing but this automaton, programmed to perform a specific function. Once that function is complete, the automaton has no purpose."

"Are you saying that she's not a person anymore?" Joseph asked uncertainly.

"It depends on how you define 'person'. Psychologically, there's not much left of whatever person she might have been. She's been beaten down both figuratively and literally over the course of her life. Now that her given purpose has ended, all that's left is this empty thing that wants to die."

"Should we ask Lisa to talk to her? Maybe she can help." Joseph carefully suggested.

"In order to heal, there has to be something to start with. I suppose that if Lisa had some training and a few years of experience, that there might be something that she could do. I don't know... But there's nothing we can do in the here and now." Sergeant Douglas finished quietly before stepping away.

* * * * *

"Captain Stewart, thank you for allowing us to talk to your patient." Sergeant Douglas said respectfully.

"Thank you for being brief." Captain Stewart said sincerely, then added, "At first I didn't believe your claims about psychic healing, but now that I've witnessed it for myself, I'm in awe of their abilities."

"The natural talent that they have isn't a substitute for your years of medical training and experience. In a situation like this, their life-saving techniques can be of great benefit. But once those lives are saved, a doctor is needed to see that the patients are properly treated so that they can fully recover. Basically, what we have is first-aid, what you have is medicine."

"Even so, they were able to treat injuries in the field that I would have had difficulty with in a hospital with a full staff. Their abilities are nothing short of miraculous." Captain Stewart said honestly.

"From the look of it, they've done as much as they can do at this point, the rest is up to you." Sergeant Douglas said frankly, then added, "By the way, your conscious patient seems to be getting agitated, in case there's something you wanted to do for her."

"Major Stanley wanted her interviewed before I administered any sedation, but we seem to have left the security force officers behind who were supposed to conduct the interview." Captain Stewart said seriously.

"When you ask Major Stanley what he wants done next, you might mention that I've already interviewed her. That might be enough to satisfy him." Sergeant Douglas said uncertainly.

"I'll be sure to tell him. But I get the feeling that he doesn't trust in your method of interviewing." Captain Stewart said honestly.

"I get that feeling, too."

* * * * *

As Sergeant Douglas walked into the main cabin, the 'brown', Luke, was lying in wait.

"Were you talking to Grandma Ruth? How is she? Is she going to die?"

Despite his usual reluctance to do so, Sergeant Douglas looked into Luke's mind to see if he could find some indication of what 'Grandma Ruth' meant to him. Sergeant Douglas was surprised to realize that 'Grandma Ruth' wasn't actually Luke's biological grandmother, but rather one of Grandpa Edward's eight wives. Grandma Ruth was one of the older wives, with the youngest being under the age of eighteen.

"Your Grandma Ruth has been hurt, but it looks like she's going to recover." Sergeant Douglas said carefully.

"She's a mean bitch, but that doesn't mean that I want her to be dead." Luke said honestly.

"It's okay, Luke. This isn't your fault. Even when you do everything that you're supposed to and you do everything right, sometimes things still go wrong." Sergeant Douglas gently assured him.

"Sergeant Douglas." Major Stanley said from a few feet away.

"Yes sir." Sergeant Douglas said as he turned away from Luke.

"Since we appear to have the time, I would like for you to also include a list of rescuees with your report." Major Stanley said firmly.

"Yes sir." Sergeant Douglas immediately responded.

* * * * *

Once Sergeant Douglas was sure that there were no further orders forthcoming, he took out his comm device and created a new document for a list of names to attach to his report.

He thought that rather than go awkwardly from person to person, asking their names, he could telepathically gather the information far more quickly.

Plans sometimes have a way of not working out.

The 'whites' were blank to him. Whether it be the psychic inhibiting drugs or their own natural shielding, Sergeant Douglas couldn't even detect their presences.

In contrast, the 'greens', Wade and Tammy, were broadcasting their every thought as though they were using loudspeakers. It was a natural reaction for new telepaths and Sergeant Douglas couldn't fault them for it, but be that as it may, it made their blaring psychic chatter no less distracting.

Most of the others, like Joseph, were easily readable, but all of their minds were not only complex, but also 'non-standard'. Whereas, he could typically scan any random person and be able to find the information he wanted effortlessly, with Joseph and his contemporaries, Sergeant Douglas actually had to search for it.

The remaining few were still under the effect of the psychic inhibitors and basically came across as muffled whispers.

That left the unconscious colors, the surviving browns, his team and the flight crew on the plane.

"Do you have a headache?" Luke asked Sergeant Douglas with concern, snapping him out of his psychic inventory. He hadn't realized it, but he had been sitting with his face buried in his hands.

"No, Luke. I'm just working on making a list of everyone on the plane, so that I can turn it in with my report." Sergeant Douglas said to Luke with a weary smile.

"Do you just need to know their names?" Luke asked curiously.

"Names, ages, where they're from... standard stuff. The people in charge just want to know who's coming so that they can make a decent place for them to stay." Sergeant Douglas said with a smile at the young man.

"My name is Luke Olson, I'm 22 years old and I'm from Rock Crossing, Arizona. Is that all that you needed to know?"

"Yes. For now it is, but I may ask you a few questions about your family later, if we can find the time."

"What about my family?" Luke asked anxiously.

"I'd just like to understand the relationship dynamics. Most families have a family tree, yours is more of a wreath. I'm interested to understand how that works."

"Oh, okay..." Luke said slowly, obviously not understanding what he was talking about.

"I'd better get to work." Sergeant Douglas said as he made sure to input the information that Luke had so generously provided about himself in the first slot on his list.

* * * * *

"Joseph, would you mind helping me with something for a minute?" Sergeant Douglas asked hopefully.

"Sure. What did you need?" Joseph answered easily.

"Major Stanley wants a list of everyone that we evacuated on this flight..."

"This sounds like a job for a retrocog."

"At first I thought that it would be easy for me to do it telepathically, but with so many people at so many different telepathic levels, it's nearly impossible to sort through the background chatter to focus on one person. It looks like we'll have to do this the old fashioned way and since you already know everyone..." Sergeant Douglas tried to explain.

"I'm not a telepath." Joseph interrupted.

"I know that..."

"Do you? Because I can read every single person on this plane without even trying."

"Can you read the whites?" Sergeant Douglas asked curiously. Although he could look into Joseph's mind for himself, with as complicated as it was and the strange way it was organized, it was simply easier for him to ask.

"Yes. I can read them as clearly as I can read you."

"What about the unconscious patients from your compound?"


"The surviving browns?"

"Everyone." Joseph said frankly, then continued by asking, "Do you need an example?"

Before Sergeant Douglas could answer, Joseph continued, "The pilot's name is Jim, he's forty-five years old. He's originally from Lansing, Michigan. He wet his bed until he was eight years old and he's allergic to shellfish."

"Well, if that's the case and you wouldn't mind..."

"Who do you want to start with?"

* * * * *

As Sergeant Douglas and Joseph were working on compiling their list, Joseph thought to ask, "What's going to happen to this list?"

"I'm going to attach it to my report."

"And then it's going to get locked away in a file cabinet somewhere?" Joseph asked slowly, as more of a prompt for more information than actually believing it to be true.

"If you're worried about who's going to see it, everyone has been fairly well checked out."

"This thing is going to be like a take-out menu for every creep who wants our DNA. One slip and it's over for us."

"I'll be sure to emphasize the importance of keeping this information classified."

"Remember, it isn't paranoia if they really are out to get you." Joseph said in his defense.

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes:

As Mr. Spock might say, "Fascinating!"

I am thinking it is going to get pretty convoluted pretty quickly.

How many browns are like grandma? Will they all think their jobs are finished and they need to die?

Given what we have seen so far, I think it might be possible that the kids themselves combining their skills could be able to heal those that have been torn into psychological shreds, but the facts may contradict me on that score.

As was stated, you can't retrieve something from nothing, no matter how much you might try.

The question is, will there be enough residual minds buried deep inside the browns, to piece it back together.

I guess the analogy might be that if the radio transmitter is turned off or destroyed completely, you won't be able to find any signal to receive.

No matter how powerful the amplifier or antenna is, you can't get something from nothing.

The Browns might just be automated human looking biological shells with only the information supplied by what, for all practical purposes, is nothing but a simple set of instructions to do what they have been programmed to do. When their program is no longer able to do its Job the signal is sent to want to die.

Of course, I hope that is not the case, and that somehow the original being is still hidden somewhere in the deepest corner of the brain, and just needs to be found and built back up.

I am an eternal optimist, after all.

I would also say that there may be someone in Kettle Falls, or somewhere else, with the knowledge and skill to help those who seem to be beyond help.

I think that is all I can say about this chapter!

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher