After excusing himself, Sergeant Douglas went to the forward compartment to borrow a computer for a few minutes to compose his report.
He had most of the facts already organized within his mind, so all that was left was to express them in a written form. Sergeant Douglas purposely left out details in favor of general, all-encompassing facts.
In the end, his report was succinct and to-the-point regarding the events leading up to and including the captivity in the hidden base.
As Sergeant Douglas returned to the main cabin, he was surprised to find a group of people gathered around Major Stanley, who was still sitting where Sergeant Douglas had last seen him.
"What's going on?" Sergeant Douglas asked as he approached.
"He's in pain and they're trying to get Major Stanley to let them heal him." Joseph said simply.
"If the major doesn't want your help, you can't force him." Sergeant Douglas said loudly to the group.
"Actually, we can." A smaller, younger looking girl dressed in orange said firmly. It took a moment for Sergeant Douglas to remember that her name was Denise.
"Yeah. We were just being nice by asking him before doing it anyway." An older looking girl in gray named Simone, said from Denise's side.
"Major Stanley, would you like for me to get them to leave you alone?" Sergeant Douglas asked seriously.
"Before you do that, since you're invested in all this 'psychic' crap, maybe you could tell me. Is what they're talking about doing 'tricking' my mind into ignoring my injuries, or are they capable of actually physically healing me?" Major Stanley asked cautiously.
"Theoretically, it's possible to do both. Since I'm not sure what they're proposing, I can only say that either way they are fully capable of improving your quality of life." Sergeant Douglas said carefully.
"What we're talking about is healing one section of his spine. We can't take away all his pain, we can't replace what's missing but we can reconstruct what's been damaged." Denise said firmly.
"I could feel it from across the plane, not that he was in pain, but that he was in unnecessary pain. It's something that we can fix." Simone helpfully added.
"Can you make the repairs without touching Major Stanley?" Sergeant Douglas asked carefully.
"Yeah. As soon as Simone tells me where to focus, I'm just going to direct my energy to reconstruct the discs and... vertebrae... I don't know the technical terms for everything, but I can put his spine back to how it was before it was damaged." Denise struggled to say.
"Sir, it's possible that they'll be able to help you. I understand your reluctance to engage in what might be seen as 'hokum' or 'new age' treatments, but if they treat you without touching you, what harm could it do? Either they'll do what they claim, or at worst, nothing will happen." Sergeant Douglas said carefully.
"I've seen enough of you at work to at least consider that you might have legitimate telepathic abilities. Knowing that such a thing might exist, how can I know that they won't just turn off the pain receptors and tell me that I'm feeling better?" Major Stanley asked cautiously.
"Sir, if you will trust me to do so, I can safeguard your mind. I can install the same telepathic shielding that I use for myself so that no one can look into or in any way manipulate your thoughts." Sergeant Douglas said seriously.
After a moment to consider, Major Stanley finally said, "You are trusted by the president and Colonel Hayes, so if you say that you'll see that my mind isn't invaded, I think that I can trust you that much."
"So we can fix you?" Denise asked hopefully.
"How long will this take?" Major Stanley asked cautiously.
"It will take less time to fix you than it did to convince you." Denise said simply.
"Do it." Major Stanley reluctantly ground out.
"Can you stand up? We need for your spine to be in line to do this right." Denise asked cautiously.
Major Stanley did his best to hide the effort that it took for him to achieve a standing position, but it was by far the most difficult consequence of his injury. He felt especially vulnerable with so many people watching him, but with determination, he was able to persevere.
As the Major was achieving a standing position, Sergeant Douglas did just as he had said and constructed complex telepathic shielding to shelter Major Stanley's mind.
As Sergeant Douglas watched, the grays, Simone and Mary Alice, focused their physiol empathic abilities on Major Stanley's lower back. A few whispers between them was their way of dividing the labor.
As soon as the grays were done, they directed the oranges, Denise and Heather, where to start their healing.
To an outsider, it was a rather ridiculous sight. Basically it looked like four teenage girls were standing silently, staring, completely focused on a forty year old man's butt.
Sergeant Douglas was able to comprehend the forces at work and watched with wonder as the healers caused discs and vertebrae to contort and reconstruct themselves into a better, more workable configuration.
"I feel something. What are they doing?" Major Stanley asked cautiously.
"Restoring your lower back to how it was before your injury." Sergeant Douglas said absently as he watched for any sign that the inexperienced healers might be in over their heads.
"Look at it now." Heather said as she took a step back.
Simone stepped forward and took her place, carefully examining the work that she had done.
After a moment to explain what she had seen, Heather returned to do some detail work.
"They're almost done." Sergeant Douglas said slowly.
"Are they fixing it?" Major Stanley asked dubiously.
"Yes sir. I can't really say how it's going to feel to you. The muscles and nerves in the area might need some time to adjust, but the physical injury is nearly healed. They should be done in less than a minute."
"Major, would you mind if we fix your arm too, while we're at it?" Mary Alice asked timidly.
"It's just a dull ache. It isn't worth worrying about." Major Stanley informed her.
"Maybe not, but from the way it looks to me, you've had a broken bone that didn't heal right. If it gets hit the wrong way, it'll break really easily. It'll only take us a minute to seal the fracture and make it as strong as it was before." Mary Alice said hopefully.
Major Stanley's gruff facade broke at the girl's honest concern for him and he finally said, "You can go ahead if you want, as long as it's not too much trouble."
Mary Alice smiled at him, then directed Denise to focus where the healing was needed.
Sergeant Douglas watched for a minute longer, then announced, "That's it. They're done."
"I felt something happen, but I don't feel any different." Major Stanley said honestly.
"They didn't do anything dramatic. Some things were slipped out of place and they put everything back where it's supposed to go." Sergeant Douglas said honestly.
Major Stanley looked at the four girls and quietly said, "Thank you."
"Just let us know if you need us again. This is what we do." Denise said for all of them.
Major Stanley put a hand to his earpiece, and appeared to be listening.
Everyone watched and waited.
"We need to prepare for landing." Major Stanley finally announced.
"Jayce, Kenyon, Teddy, help me get all the bottles and wrappers picked up." Joseph said as he stepped away.
"Theodore." The boy in white corrected as he got up to do as he had been asked.
"Oh my god!" Major Stanley gasped as he sat down.
"Is something wrong sir?" Sergeant Douglas asked with immediate concern.
"No. My back just cracked... oh sweet Jesus! That felt wonderful!" Major Stanley said past heavy breaths.
Sergeant Douglas smiled at the Major's blissful expression.
* * * * *
"Sergeant Douglas, did you finish your report?" Major Stanley asked once everyone was strapped into place.
"Yes sir. But I didn't want to take the chance of it being intercepted, so I'm keeping it with me until I have access to a secure network location." Sergeant Douglas said seriously.
"If anyone intercepted it, they'd probably think it was just a bunch of sci-fi nonsense." Major Stanley said with a smile.
"Yes sir. We actually kind of count on that." Sergeant Douglas admitted.
"Who is 'we'?" Major Stanley asked cautiously.
"'We' includes you now; the people who know that psionics exist and are covertly working for the military." Sergeant Douglas said seriously.
"Can I assume that all of us, the entire team and everyone else on this plane are going to be brought into your secret and forced to keep quiet about it?" Major Stanley asked cautiously.
"That's not for me to decide, but I would assume so. I expect that when we land, we aren't going to be allowed to deplane. They're going to keep us together until they have an isolated location to house all of us. We're all going to be extensively interviewed to find out what we know and what we don't, then we'll all be sworn to secrecy." Sergeant Douglas said speculatively.
"I can see what you're saying, but they'll probably pull the team once we get there and clear them early-on in the process." Major Stanley said thoughtfully.
"That's possible." Sergeant Douglas conceded, then continued, "But it's also possible that they'll keep you in place to serve as a command structure for the entire group. Rather than introduce new people and get them to establish authority, they could have you, the saviors of the entire group, remain with them to oversee their community and provide structure... as well as being there to enforce military dictates."
"You talk as though you're outside of all of this." Major Stanley said suspiciously.
"Yes sir." Sergeant Douglas confirmed, then explained, "As I told you before, I'm part of an established organization. I have a responsibility to my team. Once I've been debriefed, I expect to be sent back to them. What I've witnessed on this mission isn't sensitive enough to warrant isolating me. I'm no more of a security risk now than I was before."
"But you think that the rest of us will be confined with the children to serve as a command structure... or as babysitters?" Major Stanley asked to confirm.
"In the short term, yes. As time passes, I'm sure that people will be reassigned, rotate out or retire, just like with any other company. But I can't see any way that they would send you back to your previous postings, knowing what you know." Sergeant Douglas said frankly.
"Well, I'm still not one hundred percent sold on the whole psychic thing..." Major Stanley began to say, but was interrupted.
"What more do we have to do to prove it? Do we have to bring up details about Melanie and Bogart to prove it to you? Or would that even be enough? What would it take?" Theodore asked irritably.
"Don't talk about Melanie and Bogart." Major Stanley commanded coldly.
"Okay. Sorry. I won't go there." Theodore said repentantly.
"Teddy, is your clairvoyance coming back?" Jason asked from beside him.
"Yeah. Just flashes." Theodore confirmed, then added, "And call me Theodore."
"Guys, I know what it's like to have your entire view of the universe change in one day. Even when you have the proof right in front of you, acceptance takes time. Give the major a break, he's actually dealing pretty well." Sergeant Douglas told his companions frankly.
"As I was saying..." Major Stanley said loudly to hijack the conversation, "After what I've learned on this mission, I don't know how happy I would be returning to my previous duties anyway. I was so blissfully ignorant of the things really going on behind the scenes. Now that I know this... it changes everything that I think I know about how things work and what the reports that I'm reading actually mean."
"We need competent, experienced leadership at all levels who are aware of just what we can do. Now that you're aware, it's possible that you'll be brought in on operations that you wouldn't have been eligible for previously." Sergeant Douglas said carefully.
"What about the others? Lieutenant Miller? Chief Carol? What do you think will happen to them?" Major Stanley asked curiously.
"Teddy?" Sergeant Douglas asked as he glanced at him.
"Theodore." The boy responded firmly, then added with a shake of his head, "I got nothin."
Sergeant Douglas nodded, then said, "Lieutenant Miller will probably face the same decisions that you will. To take a vow of silence and return to his mundane existence or to fully become a part of 'those in the know' and participate in what's going on, behind what most people see."
"And the rest?" Major Stanley asked cautiously.
"I imagine that they'll probably be stationed to work with the rescuees until their unique skills are needed in a scenario which also includes psionics." Sergeant Douglas said thoughtfully.
"So they'll essentially be sequestered away from the world and lose any chance at progressing in their military careers." Major Stanley said thoughtfully.
"Think about the people stationed in Greenland or Antarctica. They're isolated and don't have many career opportunities. It's another duty assignment. It comes with the job." Sergeant Douglas said frankly.
"I suppose, and there's always the possibility that other situations might arise in which 'people in the know' are needed, that could provide avenues for advancement that might not be open to others." Major Stanley said thoughtfully.
"That's true. I'm not going to lie to you and say that this is the best thing that could have happened to you. But it has happened. Now you deal with it." Sergeant Douglas said frankly.
"Please take your seats and prepare for landing. The local time is 2:14pm. The temperature is currently thirty degrees fahrenheit. Welcome to Washington." The pilot, Jim, called over the intercom.
"Did anyone think about requisitioning two hundred winter coats?" Joseph asked cautiously.
"Not that I know of. Once we've landed, Sergeant Douglas can check into that for you." Major Stanley said seriously.
"Yes sir." Sergeant Douglas automatically responded.
"Wait. If it's two in the afternoon and thirty degrees, that means that it's about as hot as it's going to get for the day. Do you guys have someplace warm for us to stay?" The purple leader, Lisa, asked anxiously.
"We'll all find out together." Sergeant Douglas said simply.
"What's going to happen to us?" Jude asked quietly.
"How do you mean?" Sergeant Douglas asked curiously.
"What kinds of lives are we going to be able to have? Are we going to be able to be around regular people? Are we going to be able to have our own families? Are we going to have to live on a military base for the rest of our lives?" Jude asked in an almost pleading voice.
"I honestly don't know." Sergeant Douglas admitted.
Before the conversation could continue, the plane's nose tilted downward in preparation for landing.
Everyone fell silent as they waited for the plane to touch down.
* * * * *
Once the plane had come to a complete stop, Major Stanley said, "Douglas, see if you can get an ETA on the accommodations for our guests... and winter clothing."
"Yes sir." Sergeant Douglas said smartly then hurried forward.
Major Stanley keyed his mic, then said, "Sergeant Barnes, I need a status report on our other teams and a projected ETA."
"Yes sir." Sergeant Barnes responded.
* * * * *
"What are we supposed to do now?" Joseph asked into the silence that followed.
"Wait." Major Stanley said simply.
"For what?" Joseph asked cautiously.
"I'm assuming that someone, somewhere has a plan. I don't know who that someone is, but it isn't me. I've done what I was told to do. I brought you here. Now it's time for someone else to take over." Major Stanley said seriously.
"Major Stanley, Colonel Hayes would like to speak with you... privately."
"I'll be right there." Major Stanley said as he pushed himself to standing.
The movement was so automatic and with such ease that Major Stanley very nearly missed the wonder of it. An unwilling smile crossed his face just for the fact of being able to achieve a standing position without pain or effort.
* * * * *
Major Stanley passed Sergeant Douglas and Sergeant Barnes as they left the forward communications cabin.
"Welcome back, Major Stanley." Alvin said somewhat formally.
"Thank you sir." Major Stanley said respectfully.
"I have good news and bad news for you." Alvin said flatly, not exhibiting any of the playfulness that might usually accompany those words. Before Major Stanley could ask, Alvin continued, "The good news is that we've been able to arrange accommodations for your entire contingent."
"And the bad news?" Major Stanley prompted.
"It may take as long as twenty-four hours before your accommodations are ready." Alvin said gravely.
"What do you have planned for the interim?"
"I've been assured that the Air Force base can accommodate you for the short term. Within the hour, you should be able to deplane and you'll have access to barracks, the chow hall and other necessary facilities. Major Setton will be overseeing that operation and I've instructed him to coordinate with you. Arrangements are being made to keep all members of your party separate from the Air Force personnel, but be sure to impress on your people the importance of not discussing who they are or where they're from with anyone."
"It's also been suggested that it might be beneficial for our 'guests' to be included in the decision making for their new community."
"Excuse me sir. But are you saying that the children aren't going to be housed on the Air Force base?" Major Stanley asked slowly.
"No. That's not logistically feasible." Alvin confirmed, then continued, "Due to the refugee effort in Kettle Falls and Colville, new home construction has been going on almost continuously since all this started. It just so happens that a new housing development was being built in a somewhat remote area south of Kettle Falls, approaching Monumental Mountain. The basic infrastructure is in place and the foundations are all laid. With supplies and manpower being provided by the Air Force, it is believed that if they work through the night, they will be able to complete construction by this time tomorrow."
"So we'll have a series of empty buildings?" Major Stanley said thoughtfully.
"Don't worry about that. I was told by the people overseeing the refugee effort that they have all the necessary appliances and furnishings to outfit that many homes. They've been doing this long enough to know what they're talking about."
"So we're going to have an isolated community of teenagers in the mountains... isn't that a recipe for disaster?"
"It could be, but they won't be left without guidance or supervision." Alvin said simply.
Major Stanley waited, but Alvin didn't elaborate.
Finally, Major Stanley said, "You want me to oversee them, don't you?"
"Yes, Major. That is, if you're willing to do so." Alvin said seriously, then continued, "We have resources to help them learn and develop their abilities. And if you're not up to the challenge, we can find someone else. You're the ideal choice, but not the only one. You're familiar to them. They already see you as something of a savior... and probably a father figure."
"I've tried being a father. It didn't work out." Major Stanley said regretfully.
"Well, now you get to try again. And you've got two hundred chances to get it right." Alvin said with a smile.
"Do I have to answer right away?" Major Stanley asked cautiously.
"You're in charge. Until you ask to be removed from your position, you will continue to be in charge. So no, you don't have to answer right away. In fact, I'd prefer it if you didn't answer at all." Alvin finished with a smile.
"You're putting an awful lot of faith in someone you don't know." Major Stanley said frankly.
"Yeah. I do that." Alvin said with a grin, then added more seriously, "You'll sink or swim. If you sink, I'll replace you. But I'd rather not if I don't have to. Those kids need some stability in their lives. I'd like for it to be you."
Major Stanley slowly nodded, then thought to ask, "What were you saying about the kids being included in the decision making?"
"We're organizing a new community, so it seemed like a good idea to take the leaders of the old community and give them a stake in what's being decided; give them a chance to put their brand on it and make it theirs."
"How will you do that?" Major Stanley asked curiously.
"I've learned that there are times when it just doesn't pay to overthink certain decisions. The plan is to take the leaders of your people and put them in contact with the leaders of my people and see what they come up with on their own. While it's possible that they may come up with some things that we'll have to refuse, it's more likely that they'll develop solutions for problems that we haven't even considered."
"That does sound like a good way of handling things. It will make the kids feel like the place they're living is actually theirs." Major Stanley said thoughtfully, then noticed a text message appear on his screen.
"Excuse me Colonel, but it seems that there's a new development with the kids that might be of some concern." Major Stanley said slowly.
"What's that?" Colonel Hayes asked seriously.
"Apparently, all the girls were stimulated to ovulate at basically the same time. As a result, it appears that now all of them, approximately one hundred fifty girls, are in need of... supplies, to deal with the aftermath." Major Stanley said uneasily.
"That's not as big of a problem as you might think." Alvin said with relief.
"How's that?" Major Stanley asked cautiously.
"Due to some panic buying about a month ago, Kettle Falls ended up with the largest stockpile of feminine hygiene products in the United States. I'll make a call and you should receive a truck in the next hour or two."
"Thank you sir."
"I think it's best that we get your people and my people together so that they can make some decisions before too much more time passes."
"Keep this line open. While you're getting your chosen representative, I'm going to fill Bug in on what we're doing. I'll meet you back here."
* * * * *
As Major Stanley walked into the main cabin, he once again marveled at the sensation of walking without pain.
"Sergeant Douglas." Major Stanley said to draw his attention.
"Yes sir." Sergeant Douglas responded as he stood to attention.
"Colonel Hayes asked that someone be chosen to represent the children in the decision making. It appears that they're going to create a community exclusively for them, built to their specifications." Major Stanley said slowly.
"I'll ask Joseph. He'll probably want to be the one to do it." Sergeant Douglas said thoughtfully.
"Whoever they decide to make their representative needs to go forward right away. They're on the line and ready to get started."
"Yes sir. Someone will be right there."
Well, this is the end.
I do hope we get to have another story that will include the kids.
We have fallen in love with all of them, or most of them anyway.
I keep wondering why Sgt Douglas keeps calling Theodore Teddy.
Is he doing it because he simply remembers him as being Teddy, or is he doing it to tease him.
I hope it's the former, and that he will eventually be able to think of him as a Theodore.
Things do seem to be looking better for the youngsters. I also hope they can somehow be brought into the whole community or at least into the know, in terms of the UNIT. I am sure there will be common situations among the kids and the UNIT folks.
I will be curious to find out just how these kids' skills and abilities compare with those of the UNIT folks, not to mention the other folks who have been brought into the stories.
We already know quite a few people who have psi abilities.
I can see some exciting things coming into being once they can start working together.
I am really glad to see this group of people again, and I do hope someone puts things into perspective.
I can hardly wait.
Thanks MM for this fine story.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher