Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Chapter 5

Ewa Beach, O'ahu; C.S.P.R.D. Main Base

Sunday, October 31, 2004 11:33 PM

Wearing a robe and slippers, Jennifer Hundser softly walked down the basement steps, knowing that many of the kids were already asleep. She went over to the sofa where Preston and Keith were chatting with a few of their Clan members. The children were wondering where Kaleo and the older kids were. Preston explained that they were trying out the new dorms, then smiled up at his foster mother asking, "What's up, mom?"

"Your computer is beeping upstairs," Jennifer explained.

Keith groaned, "Uh oh!" then turned to Prez and pleaded, "Let me take care of this one, baby?"

Prez nodded and said, "I hope it's nothing too serious but it's late. Kinda makes me wonder."

Jennifer said, "It makes me wonder too. I'm not going to be happy if you boys can't even get a decent night's sleep."

"It's probably nothing, mom," Keith assured and then followed his mother upstairs. Once they were walking through the kitchen heading for the stairs up to the bedrooms, Keith smirked, "I know what you're thinking. It's a school night, right?"

Jennifer nodded, "I realize there are special circumstances. John's staying home from school tomorrow for Bruce, and the rest of you boys will be attending school on base. Please make them understand that even you need to relax and unwind this late at night though."

"I will, mom," Keith assured. Soon he was sitting at the desk and typing in the password. There was only one message waiting and it was from their own main gate on North Road. Although tapping his comm-badge would've been easiest, Keith chose to activate the camera and talk face-to-face with the security station. "Hey Chaz, wassup?"

"Hi Keith; sorry for contacting you so late, but two just walked up to the gate."

"It's no biggie. Mom's a little unhappy, but once I tell her it's only a short walk to the main gate, she'll relax. What's the deal?"

"Just two boys, caught with their pants down, ya know?"

"Ooo! Parents went all bonkers, huh?"

"You got it."

"Just so I know who to send, tell me how old they are?"

"They're twelve."

"Expect Drew and Corey then, dude. I'll send them right over."

"Got it. Thanks, Keith."

"Good night, Chaz," Keith said, and then scanned the screen looking for the correct disconnect button.

"Bottom right side, red button," Chaz grinned.

Keith giggled, "I thought so!" Chaz also began giggling and said good night just before Keith disconnected. Keith then tapped his comm-badge and said, "Drew?"

A moment later, Drew answered, "Wassup, bro?"

"You and Corey need to get two boys from the North Road gate. They're gay and prob'ly really scared. Remember to ask if they're hungry...."

"Feed them, then bring them back here," Drew interrupted.

Locking the computer again, Keith said, "It's all yours, bro."

"We got it," Drew said, and Keith stood, then left the room.

Stopping by his parents' bedroom, Keith explained, "It's a rescue right here on base. Two boys that were caught in the act; it obviously freaked out the parents."

"What are you going to do?" Jim Hundser wondered.

Keith shrugged, "We’ll give the kids food and shelter; we can't have them walking the streets. As far as I know, Federation Youth Services then intervenes on behalf of the kids. They may be good parents but were just shocked. The important thing, from Clan perspective anyway, is what do the kids need and want? Are they too embarrassed to go home or are they too scared? If there's emotional or physical abuse involved, pulling a family back together is way more difficult. Exactly how all this really works, we'll learn tomorrow."

"What's tomorrow?" Jennifer asked.

"We meet Patriarch Cory Short and you get a new job," Keith grinned.

"Me?" Jennifer gasped.

Keith giggled, "Of course you! No more dealing with C.P.S., mom. If Prez is given the opportunity to suggest a head of F.Y.S. for this division, it's you. You'll be following F.Y.S. rules and deciding who goes home or even if they'll go home.

"No more wondering if another kid will wind up like Stephen or Aaron. What we couldn't do for them before, we're doing now. Did you forget about them? They're down in the basement."

Jennifer smiled, "I didn't forget, I'm just surprised. I haven't even resigned yet and you boys have already given me a new job."

Keith nodded and turned to leave but his dad asked, "Is everybody comfortable down in the basement?"

Turning around again, Keith nodded, "Sure, why wouldn't we be?"

Jim grinned and reminded, "It's a basement!"

Keith laughed, "It's huge! And it's finished with wood walls, carpeted floors and our old living room furniture! The kids that are awake are playing games or watching TV. The others are snoozing soundly in a pile of pillows and blankets. We're fine, dad, couldn't be better."

"The tone of your voice just went from playful and enthused to somewhat less so," Jennifer noticed.

Jim prodded, "Explain that, if you can?"

Keith sighed, "It's only... well... a privacy issue. Earlier, Prez and me got our first chance to be alone in two days. Mike and Derrick are feeling it too, even though they haven't directly said it. Kaleo's noticed, and some of the older kids are in the dorm because of it."

"If I might make a suggestion?" Jim interjected. Keith nodded and his father continued, "This is a big change for all of us. None of us can do it alone. We need to work together to have some of that private time."

"That's why your dad and I have always found ways to disappear alone together as often as we reasonably could," Jennifer smiled.

Jim agreed, "Now that the issue has been recognized, just work together so that you each get the private time you need."

"We'll help you as much as we can," Jennifer smiled.

"That's why we've adopted the youngest children first," Jim explained. "Not only did they seek us out, they need families and parents the most. While you boys have been organizing your Clan, all of the parents have been considering what we could do to help. Once we learned how easy the adoptions could be from Janet, we talked it over as a group and then as couples."

"Now you need to talk with your partner and the other..." Jennifer paused and smirked, "core Rimmers!" Blushing fiercely, Keith began giggling. Jennifer playfully huffed, "That is so typical of you two!"

Keith laughed, "Prez thought it up!"

Jim chuckled and teased, "But are any of you even considering changing it?"

"Course not!" Keith giggled. He then leaned over to give his mom a kiss on the cheek and said, "Good night." Both his parents said good night, then Keith turned and left the room. Soon he was back down in the basement and sitting beside Prez.

Meanwhile, Drew and Corey had retrieved the two boys from the North Road gate. Their names were Aki and Hajime, and they were too scared to return to their homes. They were sitting down in the C.I.C. dining room with Drew and Corey. Having walked several miles from Waipahu to Ewa Beach, Aki and Hajime were famished. The kitchen night shift staff was baking breads and pastries for the next day. While the new boys scarfed down cheeseburgers and French fries, Drew and Corey had grilled cheese sandwiches simply because everything in the kitchen smelled so good.

Before Aki and Hajime finished their meals, Kaleo walked in holding hands with Tory, followed by Sean and Horacio. Aki, somewhere between stunned and happy, softly asked, "Is everybody here gay?"

Drew grinned, "No, our parents are here and they're straight."

"It don't matter what you are around here," Corey giggled. "We got gays, straights, chimps, ferrets and gorillas!"

Aki and Hajime nervously chorused; "Gorillas?"

Corey laughed and Drew snickered, "They're the best security in the world! Who's gonna argue with a gorilla?"

Holding a tray with six large cups, Kaleo started for the table. Tory was following with another tray loaded down with bags of chips and plates of cookies. Kaleo asked, "Who have we here, Drew?"

Drew introduced the two new boys and explained, "They were makin' out and got caught by Hajime's parents." Noticing that the two boys were now blushing intensely, Drew apologized, "I'm really sorry, dudes, I should've known better. It even makes me blush sometimes."

Kaleo nodded and smiled, "It's really nothing to be embarrassed about."

Corey nodded, "Kaleo's our communications officer. We call him the Mouth Rimmer."

Tory laughed, "That's so friggin' hysterical!"

Eying Tory suspiciously, Kaleo put his tray down on a nearby table, then took Tory's tray and put it down too. Before Tory could stop laughing or say a word, Kaleo kissed him hard. Drew and Corey smiled, certain that Kaleo's friendship with Tory had obviously progressed in the last few hours. Kaleo didn't release the kiss until Tory whimpered from lack of oxygen. Kaleo picked up his tray and said, "Tell Prez we really like having our own rooms in the dorm."

"I can tell!" Corey giggled.

Drew joked, "So that's why ya got the munchies?"

Kaleo played along. "It'll take some extra energy to keep goin'!"

"HEY!" Tory laughed, "You'd better be good!"

"But you said it was good," Kaleo teased. "It was the best for me anyway."

Picking up his tray, Tory playfully groaned, "Ooo! Now you're really gonna get it!" and started for the exit.

Kaleo's eyes shot wide open and he whined with anticipation, causing all four boys seated at the table to blush and laugh. Quickly grabbing his tray of drinks and almost sending the cups flying, Kaleo hurried after Tory.

"This is so weird!" Hajime grinned.

Aki nodded agreement. "We're used to not mentioning sex or anything about it ever."

Hajime added, "It's just not acceptable any time, anywhere."

Corey said, "Drew and me have known each other since before kindergarten. Our first time together was accidental but... how should I say... opened my eyes and answered all the questions at once. That goofy feeling in my brain and dull ache in my belly went away whenever Drew held me."

Drew smiled knowingly at Corey. Noticing the two boys had finished eating, Drew said, "It's gettin' late; let's go home, dudes."

"Home?" Aki nervously squeaked.

Standing with his tray of trash, Drew nodded, "My house. Prez and Keith will want to meet you." Relieved, Aki and Hajime gathered their trash and followed Drew.

"And the other ninety or so kids," Corey grinned, "but about half of 'em are already asleep."

"Talk about your big sleep-overs!" Hajime smiled.

Drew and Corey led Aki and Hajime home then introduced them to Prez and Keith.

"Welcome!" Prez happily smiled. Drew then introduced Mike and Derrick, during which time everyone learned about Kaleo and Tory. Sitting down again on the floor with the two new boys, Prez asked, "I understand you guys had an embarrassing night?"

While both boys nodded, Aki frowned and softly explained, "We've been friends since last school year, but over the summer it changed."

Hajime took over and added, "I thought my bedroom door was locked, but it somehow didn't close all the way and my dad walked in on us."

Keith asked, "He didn't hurt you, did he?"

Aki nervously sobbed, "He cussed and screamed and called my folks."

Hajime held Aki close and nodded, "My mom was throwing stuff at us and we got the heck out of there."

Aki croaked, "We heard on the news what happened Friday and that Clan Short bases were opened Saturday."

"It was a long walk, about five or six miles, and took us about two hours, but we didn't know where else to go," Hajime fearfully finished.

Nodding understandingly, Prez said, "You kept your head in a crisis and thought clearly. We'll keep you safe here."

Aki forced a grin and said, "This place is so awesome."

Drew smiled, "I only pointed out the dorms on our way here."

Hajime nodded and said, "But your C.I.C. can be seen a mile away, at least. And the sign outside the main gate told us this was definitely the place."

"Here's the deal," Prez began, "We're just getting organized around here. Later this week, an adult will be talking with you both. Then they'll call your parents. Assuming that they really love you and were simply freaked out, we'll broker a peace with your folks, if that's what you guys want. Until you're ready for them and they're ready for you, you'll stay here with us."

Hajime mumbled, "The girls and boys sleep together here?"

Keith nodded and grinned, "They're mostly orphans and foster kids. That's the way they feel safe right now."

Aki leaned forward and whispered, "Some of 'em are naked though."

Keith giggled and Prez answered, "Imagine your parents selling your sexual services. That's what happened to a lot of these kids."

Aki and Hajime both gasped, "No way!"

Keith nodded and said, "You've seen each other erect, but have never been with anybody else. It's basically the same for me and Prez, and Derrick and Mike, and Drew and Corey. Lots of these kids have seen dozens... maybe a hundred other men and women naked."

Slowly nodding as the two boys absorbed the truth, Prez said, "You can sleep here if you'd be safe and comfortable. If you'd rather share a dorm room, just say so."

The two boys checked with each other and nodded. "We'd be uncomfortable sleeping with girls," Hajime meekly offered.

"Not a problem," Keith said. "There's a dorm with six boys and four girls already over there."

Seeing Drew and Corey preparing to stand, Prez turned to Mike and Derrick, then asked, "Would you dudes come for a walk with us?"

"All six of us?" Mike queried.

"Just wanna air out the cobwebs in my head," Prez smiled.

"An empty attack and starvin' spiders!" Derrick joked.

As everyone started to stand, Prez went to the kids still playing video games and said, "We're gonna take a short walk. You guys can just play and hang out until you're ready for bed."

"We're kewl," Jerrold said, still very involved in the game.

Prez grinned, "We'll be back in a little while," then turned and followed everyone else upstairs. They silently crept through the house and out the back door so as to not wake anyone.

Once outside, Hajime said, "Those are the biggest Teddy bears I've ever seen."

Keith giggled, "They're not your average every day Teddies either."

"They're virtual intelligence, they can carry a conversation with their friends," Mike stated.

Derrick added, "In some ways, they're better than guard dogs too. They'll protect their best friends to the point of destruction."

Prez offered, "If you guys decide you want one, let us know."

"We ain't got money for 'em though," Aki sadly sighed.

Keith corrected, "You don't need money for anything here. Don't worry about a thing now, okay? You've already had enough to worry about just getting here."

Derrick agreed, "Walking as far as you guys did late at night was pretty dangerous."

Aki nodded, "We know."

"One guy offered us a ride," Hajime explained. "We just didn't have a good feeling about him." Keith noticed the look of disgust on Prez's face and knew things were going to be said to everyone very soon.

Prez sighed, "We've got your back now, guys."

As the group approached the dorm, the sentry, Paulie Casey stood from his chair and snapped to attention, then saluted, saying, "Good evening, Sir."

"Hey, Paulie," Prez grinned, "obviously you missed something."

Paulie checked his uniform and weapon briefly, then chirped, "Sir?"

Prez joked, "The next time you call me 'Sir' or salute me, it's a week of K.P. for you!"

While everyone else smiled or giggled, Paulie nodded and stood at ease, saying, "Never again, Prez."

"Good," Prez chuckled, "spread the word; I've been saluted way too much already."

Opening the door to the dorm, Paulie said, "Everyone on base will know by breakfast."

While everyone else stepped inside, Prez said, "Cool beans. See ya in a few minutes," then followed the rest of the group.

Keith led the pack down the hall, past the closed doors, and pointed to the first two rooms saying, "Kaleo and Tory are here on the right. Sean and Horacio have the room on the left. Hank and Gerald have the next room on the right. Melonie and Sonia are here on the left and in the room next door are Trish and Vera. You guys can pick any room you want." Keith then led Aki and Hajime down the hall to the bathroom and let them look around. The far wall was lined with toilets and the adjacent wall lined with sinks and then the parallel wall lined with urinals. Keith flipped the light on for the separate mob shower and both boys checked it out. When they walked past again nodding and smiling appreciatively, Keith flipped the lights off.

Prez pointed and said, "Down the hall is the first floor rec room."

Looking up at Prez, Aki asked, "We can have any room we want... together?"

"Sure," Prez nodded, then opened the room across from the bathroom and turned on the light. "Take your pick."

Both boys looked inside the spacious room and smiled widely at each other. "This is way kewl!" Aki excitedly said as he stepped into the room.

Hajime followed saying, "I live... or used to live, in a real nice house but this is better! Two full sized beds too!" He then turned around and blushed, "Can we sleep together in one?"

Mike sighed, "Listen little dudes, whatever you think is wrong with loving each other is false." Pulling Derrick closer, Mike continued, "This dude here's my boyfriend. We really love each other. When we sleep together, it's the soundest sleep ever."

Derrick nodded, "Prez and Keith are boyfriends too, so are Drew and Corey." Both Drew and Corey nodded and held each other close.

"Loving one another is good," Prez smiled. "If your parents can cope with having gay sons and can prove that to Federation Youth Services, you can return home, but only if or when you feel comfortable doing so. If your parents can't cope with gay sons, then you can stay here as long as you like."

"But what about school?" Hajime wondered.

Keith answered, "We'll have our schools set up soon, right here on base."

Prez tapped his sub-vocal and called, "Daileass?"

"Hi Prez," Daileass replied.

"Sorry to bug you so late, dude, but we have two boys here that just showed up and will be staying a while."

"Boxers or briefs?" Daileass asked.

"Umm... boxers," Prez answered.

Daileass giggled, "Not you, silly! You got your own undies! What about them?"

"Oh!" Prez laughed. Turning to Aki and Hajime, Prez smiled, "Boxers or briefs, dudes?"

Aki and Hajime both replied, "Briefs." Only a few seconds later, both beds were loaded with new clothes for each boy. They each had three pair of jeans, five pair of board shorts, five T-shirts, three button down sport shirts, and enough underwear and socks for every day of the week. There were even toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste, brushes, combs and deodorants. Both boys hurried over to the beds and began shuffling through their clothes.

"That was awfully fast, Daileass," Prez challenged.

Taking on a mystical tone, Daileass replied, "I see all, I know all. I saw them approach the gate, saw Drew and Corey lead them to the C.I.C. dining room, saw them talking with you guys in your basement. It was only a matter of time before you called me."

"You're the best, dude," Prez smiled.

"The best A.I. perv in all North America!" Mike whispered to Derrick.

"Any time, Prez," Daileass said. Then Mike heard Daileass giggling in his ear; "Thanks for the compliment, Showers with Ferrets."

"Dammit!" Mike grumbled. "These things are never really off."

Keith grinned, "You forgot; tapping is just to get Daileass' attention."

Turning his attention back to Aki and Hajime, Prez asked, "Have you guys met Kaleo?"

Aki nodded and Hajime answered, "In the dining room."

Drew grinned, "Kaleo and Tory made a great first impression."

"I'll say!" Corey giggled.

Prez smiled and hummed suspiciously. "Make yourselves at home, dudes," Prez said to the two newest Rimmers. "Ask Kaleo or anyone for a tour of the grounds tomorrow morning."

"Thanks, Prez," Aki enthusiastically cheered.

"We will," Hajime nodded.

"Y'all have a good night," Prez said. Keith and the other Core Rimmers also said good night, then left the boys to themselves. Down the hall, Prez stopped at Kaleo's room and knocked on the door. There were sounds of movement and garbled words from the other side of the solid wooden door.

Tory finally asked, "Who is it?"

Smiling at the ruckus beyond the door, Prez announced, "Prez and all the other Core Rimmers to see Kaleo."

"Except John," Keith reminded.

"Right," Prez agreed. John had attached himself to Bruce since learning of the Downing's passing.

After about thirty seconds, Kaleo finally opened the door, saying, "What's up, guys?" He was shirtless and trying unsuccessfully to appear innocent while he adjusted himself in his shorts, and a shirtless Tory attempted to straighten one of the beds in the background. All of the Core Rimmers cracked up.

"Wassup?" Keith echoed in an exaggerated incredulous tone through his laughter.

"You tell us what's up, besides the all too obvious!" Derrick playfully sang.

Blushing fiercely through his Hawaiian dark skin and the combined hysterics of the other six Rimmers, Kaleo giggled, "Well, you know how it is. I've been trying for two days! Tory and me have reached an understanding."

Tory walked up behind Kaleo and wrapped his arms around Kaleo's waist, smiling like the cat that just caught and ate the canary.

Checking with his brothers and friends, Prez cackled, "Anyone that did not see this coming since Friday afternoon, please raise your hands." Not a single hand rose. Still blushing, Kaleo chuckled and held Tory's arms. "It's so kewl," Prez softly and sincerely smiled, "we couldn't be happier, for both of you."

"Thanks!" Kaleo and Tory chorused.

Prez said, "Have you got a few minutes? There's a few things I need to talk about that are pretty important."

"It's all right for Tory to hear?" Kaleo confirmed.

Prez nodded, "Absolutely. If what I'd like comes to pass, everyone will know soon enough."

"Come on in," Tory invited and let go of Kaleo. Everyone went into the room and Kaleo closed the door behind them.

Once his team were seated on the beds, Prez said, "This has been bouncing around inside me for two days," and then asked, "Remember Saturday in Utah when Adam mentioned the sixty-one that died in Montana last week?" Everyone nodded so Prez posed another question, "Is there anyone here that doesn't understand what happened that day?"

Corey was the first to raise his hand, followed by Kaleo and Tory. Corey offered, "I don't pay attention to most news. I remember last Sunday's newspaper headlines though."

"Okay," Prez said, and began pacing to and fro. "To make a long story brief, what basically happened was Clan Short was ambushed by a group known as the Fundamentalist Church of Christ. What started as a rescue operation, turned into a real battle. The UNIT was involved with Clan Short and several other U.S. Military organizations; they all fought to win that battle, but are still working to bring the F.C.C. down. I initially thought it was just one of those crazy United States riots until I actually read about it online. It wasn't a riot but a real battle; a war, if you prefer that word."

Prez paused and asked, "Is everyone with me so far?" When everyone nodded, Prez began pacing around again, saying, "Not until Friday night did I realize that even here in Hawaii we're not immune from those kinds of wackos; the kind that think kids are to be emotionally or physically abused, to be used for sex or prostitution, that gays, lesbians and transgenders are abhorrent. Now we all know they're here too, right?"

Seeing everyone nodding, Prez paced and rambled; "This is why I was slow to accept Joel's nomination as Director of this division. We're already at war, guys. Right now, while we get ourselves situated, kids are already coming to us, not the police or any other government aid organization. Sooner or later, we're going to be called for a rescue operation. The last thing I want to see is any one hurt, but I want to echo right now what Cory Short said last week and how strongly I feel: Clan Short Pacific Rim Division is at war. This is why I was so insistent with Adam about having our own division of troops. We are not going to wait for those twisted bastards to come to us and catch us off guard. We're going to be ready. When Adam or Donnie contact me to set up phaser training, we're goin' to do it, and we all have to pay attention. If we need extra training, I'll ask for it. I don't expect you to like it; I sure as hell don't like it, but at the same time, I don't want us to ever be caught off guard. Just realize that this is most definitely a war. Be prepared. Learn everything there is to know about a phaser and how to use one effectively."

"Yeah," Mike giggled, "You point the dangerous end towards the bad guys!"

"Thanks for that revelation!" Keith teased.

Prez then briefly outlined what he intended to do as soon as he could the following day, including a phone call to the King. Since it was very late and there were important things to deal with the next day, not the least of which were talking to His Majesty and meeting the Patriarch of Clan Short, Prez called it a night. Everybody said good night and Kaleo walked his fellow Core Rimmers to the door with one hand on the waistband of his boardies and playfully bouncing his eyebrows. Everybody cracked up and walked outside still giggling.

They had barely started the walk back home when Prez told Keith, "I just wanna check the computer for any last minute messages," and then there was a loud boom followed by what sounded like the rattling of machinery. The entire team and many other UNIT security personnel raced over to the UNIT dorm where the sounds came from. From the basement of that building came a big puff of smoke. Bouncing up the stairs and climbing the safety railings around the basement steps, came a dozen chanting, coughing and screeching chimps. "What in the hell happened?" Prez excitedly bellowed above the sounds of the chimps.

One of the chimps, dressed in overalls and grinning widely, explained, "We were designing a new ATV sufficiently capable for activity on volcanic mountain sides. If at first you don't succeed, try try again!"

"Is everyone all right?" Prez worried.

"Fine," the chimp nodded. He then sighed impatiently and complained, "Engine's trashed though."

While everyone else rolled their eyes and began giggling, Derrick snickered, "The only active volcanoes are on the big Island of Hawaii. Just an idea, but you could take your project there."

"Thank you!" the chimp happily said. "Every design requires testing and then implementation of reworked designs." Turning slightly to face Prez, the chimp asked, "Director O'Brian, would you have any problem if we followed that recommended course of action?"

"Not at all," Prez giggled. "All I'm worried about is you chimps being happy and healthy."

"Be safe is all we're saying," Keith added to interpret for Prez.

More seriously, Derrick said, "The last thing we want to learn about is any of you chimps maimed or killed, okay, bud?" All the other Core Rimmers nodded their agreement.

"We are all capable of first aid in the event of such a failure," the chimp assured.

Corey wondered, "If any of you guys were hurt, would you need a doctor or a vet?"

"We'd have Daileass transport the injured party directly to Doctor Janet," the chimp responded. "If you'll excuse me now, I will inform my teammates of the recommended change."

Prez nodded and Keith smiled, "Go ahead." The boys started back to the Hundser's home and Keith turned to Prez yawning, "I hope there are no messages waiting. I'm so totally wiped out."

Mike giggled, "I've been dreaming of ferrets and gorillas; tonight I'll add chimps to the mix."

"You know any control we thought we had before yesterday was just an illusion?" Derrick smirked.

"I had heard you and others make that observation before," Prez nodded, and then joked, "Silly me, I thought there could at least be direction to the chaos!"

The boys went inside the house. While Prez and Keith crept quietly upstairs to check the computer, Mike, Derrick, Corey and Drew went down to the basement to get ready for bed. Prez found only one message from Donnie waiting. The UNIT wanted to begin phaser training Tuesday afternoon at three. A second class was scheduled for Wednesday at the same time. Prez replied to the message informing Donnie that those dates and times would be fine.

Keith pulled Prez's face over for a deep kiss, then softly suggested, "Bed time, baby." Immediately Prez locked the computer and they went downstairs to join the nest. Geoff had put places aside for Drew and Corey to be nearby. In a short while, all the lights were off and everyone was sound asleep. Just before dawn, Dee and Richie tip-toed around and over other kids to fall back asleep between their new daddies. Reyes, Jonah and Dillon found their way in the dark to Mike and Derrick. A twisted knot of ferrets were already close by their Shiny Daddies.

A few of the youngest kids woke around seven in the morning. They went upstairs to use the bathrooms and spend some time with their parents before they went to work. Little by little, more kids woke and came upstairs from the basement. The tweens headed off to the C.I.C. for breakfast. Bruce, John and Nathan followed the mass of kids out of the house. A few minutes before nine in the morning, Jennifer Hundser kissed the little ones goodbye, then was transported by her security to Hawaii Medical Center West. Jim Hundser, Rob Gibbons, Bill Seaver and Carl Seibert were also transported to their places of business.

The last to emerge from the basement were Prez and the remaining Core Rimmers. Mike and Derrick took their boys home for breakfast and showers. Drew and Corey took Geoff upstairs for their first shower at home. While they waited for Drew, Corey and Geoff to finish, Prez and Keith had breakfast. Even though both of their boys had already been fed, Prez shared his cereal with Dee and Keith did the same with Richie. Just as they were putting their bowls in the dishwasher, the front door bell rang.

"I'll get it, Prez," Keith said.

Dee hurried and happily said, "I'll go too, Daddy!"

Opening the door, Keith found a man in his twenties with striking long black hair. "Hi," Keith said, "Can I help you?"

The man politely said, "My name is Derek Tecumseh. I'm from Camp Little Eagle in Orlando."

"Oh!" Keith cheered, "The Clan Short school. Please, come on in." Keith stepped aside and introduced himself and Dee. The older and taller man stepped inside the house.

From the kitchen, Prez hollered, "Who is it, babe?"

Keith replied, "Derek Tecumseh from Camp Little Eagle."

"Sweet!" Prez chuckled. "We can get our schools set up!"

As Prez went towards the entryway and Keith led Derek to the kitchen, the doorbell rang again. Keith and Dee again went to answer it while Prez introduced himself and Richie. At the door, stood seven smaller kids about John's age, give or take a year or two. Four of the kids were wearing black hooded robes, their faces only barely visible. The other three were wearing green Clan Short cloaks.

"Wassup, guys?" Keith asked.

One boy in a green cloak said, "Hi Keith, I'm Jacob Dodds."

"And I'm Jamie Dodds. Good to meet ya, Keith," the next boy in green said.

"Beau Wagner," the third boy in green waved.

"We're here to get Lei'd!" all three boys exclaimed in perfect unison.

Keith chuckled at their performances, "We'll see what we can do about the flowery necklaces. As for the other kind, you're on your own."

Jamie grinned and partially replied, "Oh, we already..."

Jacob continued, "know all about..."

Beau added, "the other kind..."

"and we practice..." Jamie snickered, watching Keith's eyes dart around to each of the three of them.

"whenever we ain't..." Jacob smirked, wondering if Keith would get dizzy and fall over.

"busy with stuff." Beau finished before Keith actually did fall down.

The three boys broke into giggles as they finished their circular reply.

Slapping his own forehead and closing his eyes, Keith muttered weakly, "You're all telepaths, right?"

"No, we only got one brain!" All three giggled in unison.

Noticing that Keith seemed unsteady, Prez came over, smiled at the crew beyond the doorstep and asked, "Keith, are you all right, babe?"

"I will be, just woozy," Keith answered.

Prez asked, "Who do we have here?"

"NO!" Keith quickly shouted. "Don't get them started again! They're Clan Short telepaths; Jamie, Jacob and Beau. I don't even know the other four yet but if they answer the same way, I'll need to lay down again for a few hours!"

"Well," Prez laughed, "we should just let them all in then!" Looking down at his sons, Prez smiled, "Dee and Richie, help daddy to the living room and sit him down."

Dee and Richie held Keith's hands and led him to the sofa. As the seven kids walked into the house, they each greeted Prez and gave their names; Jacob Dodds, Jamie Dodds, Beau Wagner, Viccy Evans, Jason Evans, Nathan Evans and Riti Evans.

"Why don't y'all have a seat in the living room," Prez pleasantly said.

Drew, Corey and Geoff came down the stairs and stepped into the living room. Prez introduced Derek and the other kids to Drew, Corey and Geoff, then suggested, "If you guys could get everybody comfy, Keith and I can jump in the shower real quick?"

"No problem, bro," Drew nodded. Prez went over to Keith, offering a hand up, while Dee and Richie scooted down and pulled at Keith's other hand.

Corey asked, "Would anyone like something to drink? Soda? Juice? Tea?"

"Ich bin jetzt besser fühlen," Keith sighed as he stood. Then he pulled both boys close and held on tight.

Prez understood but didn't know how and wondered, "Welche Sprache sprichst du?"

"Deutsch," Keith replied. As soon as he finished he wondered, "Wenn die Hölle habe ich Deutsch lernen?"

Mr. T rolled his eyes as he looked at the three young boys trying to appear innocent. "You guys know that you're supposed to warn people," he admonished.

"Who, us?" all three replied in voices dripping with sugar and innocence.

Watching Keith, Dee, Richie and finally Prez climb the stairs, Drew asked, "¿Qué hizo Usted a Keith?" He then quickly covered his mouth and turned wide-eyed to Corey.

"¿Qué le hicieron ellos Dibujó?" Corey excitedly asked. He then gasped, "¡Dios mío!"

"ПÑизнавайÑÑе, малÑÑćики," Mr. T said in a commanding voice.

"But we're innocent!" Jamie said in a voice that implied he'd just misplaced his halo. "We got nothing to confess."

"Dargh," Beau said to Drew.

"Blesio, gaffwy rhyw de?" Jacob added. Jamie merely screeched.

"Tudo bem, isso é dois chás e uma Coca-Cola," Drew summarized, then did a double take at what had come out of his mouth.

Little Geoff looked up and grinned, "Papá, estás hablando divertidamente."

Corey, Drew and Geoff went to the kitchen to prepare trays of drinks and snacks for their guests.

What was happening in the Hundser's home was happening all over the Ewa Beach main base. Mike and Derrick came out of their bathroom with their boys and the first words out of Mike's mouth happened to come out in Italian. Bruce, John and Nathan Hayes were at the C.I.C. dining room when conversations suddenly shifted from one language to another with ease. Even the staff chefs, doctors, housekeepers and landscapers were affected. Naturally, being able to speak one previously foreign language was shocking enough, but understanding and speaking multiple languages was exciting. A few of the languages shared by Beau, Jamie and Jacob included French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Welsh. The most thrilling things occurred when John, Bruce, Nathan, Kaleo, and Tory left the C.I.C. dining room and discovered they could understand the dialects of all the birds in the trees surrounding the compound. Then a distant dog off base was heard barking, "Warning! My den! My pack! Go away!"

Prez, Keith, Dee and Richie hurried downstairs from their shower as John came into the house with Bruce and Nathan. Before John could say a word, Keith held up his index finger and forcefully warned, "ENGLISH, JOHN!"

John whined, "¿Pero por qué?"

"Because seven kids I never met just walked in the house already knowing my name," Keith exclaimed. "Our family is of German descent, but we haven't spoke German in four generations. Still, it just came flowing out of my mouth like I had a friggin' clue! Enough is too much!"

"Oh, okay," John grumbled through his grin.

Giggling at the insanity of it all, Prez went into the living room wondering, "Who's responsible?"

Mr. T smiled but shook his head sadly, explaining, "Jacob, Jamie and Beau enjoy a certain level of pandemonium."

"That's not fair!" the three boys playfully complained.

"Ah, but it's true!" Mr. T grinned.

"Isn't that one of the reasons we're here?" Jamie reminded.

"Warnings would've been considerate."

"There are over a hundred people though!" Jacob stated.

Beau nodded saying, "Warning a hundred times or even a dozen gets real old, real fast."

"Now there are only the five missing adults left to finish the job," Jamie smiled.

John came in the room and said, "I thought it was fun!" Looking up at Keith and Prez, John explained, "Go outside and listen to the animals. We can understand them too." Before John finished speaking, all four Evans kids got up from the sofa and went to him. John smiled at the sudden attention and said, "Hi, how's it goin'?"

Drew, Corey and Geoff returned to the room with drinks and snacks. Keith quickly introduced the four Evans' and the other four still seated to everyone.

Eying Riti and the hump on his back, John explained, "Sorry, I just don't feel like you're in pain, but you look like you could be." John pointed at the hump saying, "That's gotta hurt."

Riti giggled. "They're wings!" the little eight year old said from within his hooded robe.

John's jaw dropped and he wondered, "Can you fly too?"

Riti nodded, "Alla time. It's my favorite way of getting about."

"That must be lots of fun!" John excitedly cheered. "I was in a helicopter the other day. It was great but flying on your own, without a machine? That must be awesome!"

Meanwhile, the other small black robed and hooded figure had her head turned towards John. There seemed to be something intense about the poise of the girl. Viccy murmured, "Powerful. Very powerful. Definitely empathic, Jace."

One of the larger figures nodded his head, "I agree. Are there any other talents he's figured out?"

Blushing bright red, John looked up at the slightly taller boy and giggled, "Umm... none that I know of."

Jason nodded at the others, and all at once they lowered their hoods. Jason's open and smiling face was framed by his rich brown, curly hair; and in the light through the window, it seemed to glow faintly red as well. His blue-green eyes sparkled as he looked down at John.

The boy standing next to him grinned as well, his bright blond hair shimmering in the light of the room. "I can feel he's nearly ready, love," Nathan said as he linked hands with Jason.

Viccy nodded with a smile, her green eyes and flame red/auburn hair mesmerizing the ten year old John. "Yup," she added.

Riti caused the greatest stir, however, for he not only lowered his hood, but threw off his robe altogether. He was stark naked beneath. That in itself was not a big surprise for kids living on Hawaii; but his long webbed toes, long webbed fingers, blue-black fine hair and blue-black feathered triple jointed wings did cause a stir.

"Oh, WOW!" John yelled.

Riti played it up for all he was worth. He held John's gaze with his left eye while turning his right to look at Prez, "Is he always this excitable?"

Seeing two eyes move in opposite directions, Prez fell to the sofa in shock.

"Oh," Riti giggled as he turned his head almost one-hundred-eighty degrees to look at Jason who was standing behind him. "They are all excitable."

"Only when alien bird-brains like you freak them out, Reet," Jason giggled as he started to tickle the winged boy's ribs.

Bruce moved forward and ran a hand over Riti's nearest wing. "Oh... oh kewl! Could you take me up with you? Just a little?" he asked excitedly.

Riti grinned and put both hands under Bruce's armpits and lifted. "Oh, yeah. You're light enough," he said. Then he looked at John, who was hopping from foot to foot in barely suppressed energy. He lifted John the same way. "You're light enough too. I just need to get my harness, then I can take you one at a time."

"I never manage to understand," Viccy smiled, "how someone weighing only thirty-five pounds can lift kids heavier than me!"

"I'm stronger than I look," Riti giggled before he French kissed his girlfriend. "And you make me feel as strong as He-Man," he added with a loving smile. The whole room broke out in "Awwwww! Sweet!" type exclamations.

"Now? Can we go now?" Bruce excitedly squealed with joy.

Jason laughed as Riti called out, "Draco! I need my flight harness, please!"

"Scaring the locals already, Feather-head?" came an unknown A.I.'s voice from the speakers in the room.

Prez looked about quickly, "How? Who was that and how did he manage to get access to our network? I thought only Daileass could do that!"

Nathan looked at him and said with a sunny smile, "We're V.S.O., Vulcan Special and Covert Ops. We are the Dragon Division and it is our task to protect all of Clan Short. To that effect, we have access everywhere. Draco's the V.S.O. A.I."

"Not to mention he has the cutest transistors this side of the Beta Quadrant!" Daileass giggled.

"And yes, they are an item as well!" Nathan finished with a giggle.

"So... you're NOT Clan Short yourselves?" Keith asked as he moved closer.

"Yes," Jason said, "we are Clan Short as well. But being V.S.O. is different. Cory Short has no authority over me as Division Leader for the Dragon Division of the V.S.O., but as Clan Short, he is my Patriarch on Clan matters. I'm also a Clan Patriarch – technically second in command of the Clan in Cory's absence. That is, in this case anyway. Joel was given that role for the weekend, but..." he trailed off with a serious look at Prez.

Prez nodded, but John groaned as he clutched his belly. "Can someone please tell me what's wrong with Joel?" he desperately pleaded.

Taking hold of John's shoulder, Keith softly said, "All we know is that Joel was hurt badly soon after he returned home. He's doing better and spending time with his family recovering."

John nodded and wiped tears from his eyes, but didn't speak for almost a minute. Finally, he glanced at each of his brothers saying, "You've gotta stop doing this. You're not protecting me any more; in some ways you're making it worse because I've felt there was something. Then my imagination runs wild trying to figure out what the something is."

"I'm really sorry, bro," Keith sincerely apologized.

Drew added, "It's been our job since the day you were born."

"Since before I moved in it was my job to make Keith's job easier too," Prez admitted.

"Yeah, well stop, okay? If I can sense something's wrong, you might as well tell me," John muttered as a transporter beam dumped a harness in Riti's hands.

"Okay," the winged boy grinned as he put the harness on himself, "Who's first?"

"Me! MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEE!" Bruce giggled as he reached up and laid his hand on John's mouth to stop John from saying the same thing.

Riti giggled, "Okay, outside we go."

"I've got to see this!" Prez and Keith said in unison. All those in the room followed the Bird-boy and his two overly excited minions onto the grassy area just outside the door.

Riti looked about, then sighed happily. "Just like Orlando; like home... mmm... okay, come here, Bruce."

Bruce bounced over with a wide grin on his face.

"First, you need to know that clothes are gonna get in the way. You don't have a problem being naked, do you?" Riti asked seriously.

Bruce giggled and quickly stripped himself. "Nuh huh. Nope, I'm kewl with being naked."

Riti grinned and blinked his slightly oversized eyes at the cute boy in front of him. "Sexy too," he giggled, winking at Viccy, who was watching with a lot of interest.

Bruce blushed deeply, but was soon thinking about the airborne fun he'd be having. Riti pulled Bruce over and positioned him with Bruce's back to his chest. After snapping the harness in place and tightening it properly, Riti asked, "Comfy?"

"Yeah!" Bruce yelled with nervous expectation. He had the same fluttery feeling in the pit of his stomach as just before going on a rollercoaster ride. "Oh, yeah!"

Riti reached down and showed Bruce the last part of the harness, "You need to lift your feet into this and press down; that way you won't throw me off balance in the air."

"Okay, what do I do with my arms?" Bruce asked as he studied the lower harness.

"Whatever you like, but we'll go faster if you cross them and hold your shoulders with your hands," Riti answered.

"Kewl!"

Riti unfurled his wings and flapped them a few times, then he jumped ten feet straight up. While hovering there, Riti helped Bruce to get his feet into the lower harness. "Ready?" Riti asked with a smile.

"Yup yup yup!"

And they were off, swooping around the Ewa Beach Main Compound, and causing quite a stir with the other Hawaiian Clan kids in the area.

As they dove down towards where Keith and Prez and company were watching, Bruce let rip a war-whoop. Riti brought himself to a dead stop about two feet from the ground, and asked Prez, "Is it okay to go off and find some thermals? Bruce will be safe, I promise."

"Oh, please please please?" Bruce begged.

Prez giggled and pointed north towards the mountains.

And Riti was off like a bullet, Bruce crying out with excitement all the way.

And so it was that the newspapers, the following day had reports of two naked, flying boys being sighted over Ewa Beach, Honolulu, and various other areas of O'ahu Island.

John waited patiently; well, as patiently as any ten year old can when there's a marvelous adventure incoming. He sipped on his cola as the increasingly larger group of kids waited for Riti and Bruce to return. "Where are they? Do you see 'em?" John asked as he scanned the northern skies.

Giggles from the rooftop made everyone spin around, only to see Bruce and Riti gliding down towards them. Just as they landed, Riti unsnapped the harness and Bruce tumbled to the ground, a tired but happy mess of an eight-year-old who started babbling a mile a minute to his new older brother Keith about his amazing trip.

John watched as Riti guzzled down a drink, and asked, "You need to rest first?"

"Nope. I'm good. I saw a good mountain to the south on the larger island. You fancy a visit?" Riti asked. He giggled as John was already sending his clothes flying in all directions.

"YEAH!" John cried out happily.

Riti looked John over, then giggled harder. "Yep, you're 'excited', alright!"

John looked down and blushed. "It always does that when I go flying," he whined.

"No one'll see from up there," Riti giggled as the rest of the kids gathered began chuckling.

It took no time at all to get John fitted into the harness, and then they were off like a shot.

Flying fast over the deep blue waters of the Pacific, Riti had never felt so free since on Earth. John was babbling happily about the ships far below, and about how neat it felt to have the air rushing over his body with nothing but a pair of wings keeping him up. Riti pressed a kiss against John's head and whispered, "Wanna go lower and draw patterns in the sea as we fly?"

"Really? KEWL!"

Riti took that as a definite agreement. And so, laughing and cheeping happily, he dove down towards the sea. Less than a foot and a half above the water, he leveled out and John started trailing his hands in the warm waters of the Pacific. "This is so KEWL!" John giggled as the splashing he was causing soaked him. Riti giggled more.

A sailing boat with a young family on it passed to their left, and both boys laughed at the shocked expressions on the faces of the young couple. The small five year old boy started yelling about angels and waving madly at them. John waved back but soon the boat was far behind.

As they approached Hawaii Island itself, Riti raised himself up higher and higher, before starting to ride the wicked thermals that the active volcano was producing. John had never enjoyed something so much in all his life. They spiraled up high, and just before they started to run out of warm air and even breathable air, Riti would dive back down at high speed. This would cause John to squeal out in excited terror; the same type of terror a truly scary rollercoaster would produce, before yelling "AGAIN! AGAIN!"

Over and over they did this, before Riti decided a nice drink was in order. They landed on a beachfront holiday area, and from Riti's only item of clothing – a utility belt – he produced a credit chip to pay for some drinks, a sticky bun each, and a nice bar of chocolate with peanuts (Riti liked peanuts).

John's nakedness wasn't an issue, simply as there were holiday makers all over this area, and most of the kids were in the same state. It was Riti that became the issue. His wings drew a lot of attention, even from some Starfleet personnel there. The Lo'Garn were still an unknown to most of the Fleet, even after the Dragon Division had linked up with Clan Short.

"Why don't they know your people, Reet?" John asked as they started making a more leisurely return trip to John's home.

Riti smiled, "My home world is over ten thousand light years from the Federation. There's only a few of us here. It's a very long story, but it'll be on the Clan files if you wanna read it."

"Okay," John nodded. Then he felt something in the pit of his stomach. Something was wrong, and it was very close by. "Reet, down there; there's a kid in danger!"

"I see him," Riti said, his voice hard. His more acute eyesight could clearly make out a small sailing yacht with three people on board; a man, a woman and a small boy. The man was raising his hand over and over and bringing down his fist onto the young child, while the woman watched impassively. As Riti went into a dive, he saw the man throw the sobbing boy at the woman, who started to beat him too, as well as cruelly pull on the child's testicles. "Tuck your arms to your chest. I'm about to show them the meaning of vengeance," Riti snarled. He took out a small phaser from his belt and started firing at the two adults.

The phaser was on tight-beam mode, and on a high burn setting. Meaning, that the beam passed right through the man's feet, one at a time, and then through his hands as he fell to the deck of the yacht. The woman received the same treatment. As Riti landed and unhooked John, the little boy, no older than four years old or so, peeked out from behind his arms. When the 'lightning' from the sky had started, and the two adults started screaming, the child had fallen to the deck himself and covered his head with his arms in complete terror.

John reached him first, and drew him into his arms, "Shhh... you're okay, now. We're from Clan Short, and we won't let anything bad happen to you again. Shhhhh." John sat down and held the sobbing child on his lap, then looked at Riti, "What should we do now?"

"'We' will do nothing, bro. I'll deal with this under V.S.O. rules. I'll get Draco to beam you and the boy back to your base. We can have more flying later," Riti said, his eyes hard as agates.

"Umm... okay. Uh, Reet? I can see pictures in my head. I think it's from this boy's mind. What's going on?" John asked as he held the child tighter.

Riti smiled briefly, "That's telepathy. Focus on the pictures and tell me what you see."

John scrunched his eyes closed and his forehead crinkled. "I... these are his parents, but they've always hurt him. They like making him... oh, sick! He's a toy to them, mostly the woman. They're sadists and.... ergh!"

"That's enough," Riti said firmly. "Draco! Beam John and the boy back to Jason and Viccy."

"Okay," Draco answered, and the two little kids vanished.

Riti looked down at the still screaming and maimed adults, "You will regret what you've done, for a long, long time."

Sitting naked in the grass, John appeared directly in front of his older brothers and Mr. T, with the tiny rescued boy on his lap and clinging to him for all he was worth. John had the definite impression that this boy was not about to let go any time soon, either.

"Oookay," Prez droned and then whistled. "You leave with Riti and transport back with a strange kid? What's happening, bro?"

John mutely shook his head and simply cuddled the boy closer. His eyes seemed haunted.

Jason frowned slightly, then looked deep into both the tiny boy's mind and into John's. "Oh, I see," he muttered. He looked at Prez and the others, "John and Riti just rescued this little one from some abusive parents. Riti is, uh... 'dealing' with the two adults now."

"Oh!" Keith murmured, then shuddered, for the look in Jason's eye as he'd said 'dealing' was anything but gentle. "What's the kid's story?" he asked instead.

Jason passed onto Viccy all that he had seen. "His name's Dewi," Viccy said. "He and his parents were visiting from Wales, U.K. Looks like the two arseholes won't be going back there."

"They'll be going back, in mason jars if they're lucky," Jamie stated flatly, obviously not pleased.

"How old's he?" John whispered in between pressing kisses into the crying boy's hair.

Kneeling down next to John and rubbing the little boy's back, Viccy murmured, "He's four... and a half. Can't forget the half, can we, sweety?"

Dewi looked up and blinked at her through watery eyes. "'m a big boy," he insisted weakly.

"And a brave boy too," Viccy whispered, and then she kissed his cheek.

"Yeah," John murmured as Dewi increased the strength of his hug.

"What you doing to Mammy and Daddy?" Dewi asked, his eyes traveling from face to face before him. "Please, don' hurt my Mammy and Daddy. I's was bein' bad. I's was sick 'cos boat rocked. I's bad, not thems."

Viccy closed her eyes to hold in her temper, but Jason winced at the increased 'blue' language his 'innocent' little sister was sending out to all who could hear.

"You weren't a bad boy for bein' sick, Dewi," John whispered, his eyes beginning to leak tears.

Dewi turned and gazed thoughtfully at him. "But I's always bad. I's always bein' pun'shed, 'cos I's bad. Daddy says so. He says I's need to be's a man, so I's gotta get the bad outta me."

John didn't know what to say, so he sent an appealing look at Keith and Prez.

"No one should be hurt like that, sweety," Viccy said as she continued to rub the small boy's back. "Bad boys and girls should learn to be good, but no one, not even Mammies and Daddies, should hit them and make them do dirty things."

"But! Daddy says a real man's gotta make a woman feels good, so I's was being a good boy when I's was lickin' Mammy in her spec'al place," he murmured.

Needing to release some anger, Prez turned and entered the house so that he could scream some profanities into the air without startling the hurting little boy.

Viccy gently cupped the small boy's face in her hands and allowed her eyes to glow out bright blue, bathing Dewi's face with a subtle azure glow. "Dewi, you are a good boy, but your Mammy and Daddy were being bad."

"No they wasn't! I was! I's bad!"

"No, sweetheart. Good Mammies and Daddies don't do that to their children," Viccy insisted.

"Don' believes you," Dewi muttered stubbornly. "Proves it!"

So Viccy did, by grasping her brother's mind and linking them together to project her life and her brother, Jason's life into the mind of the little boy. As the rolling pictures came to an end, she whispered, "Our Mammy and Daddy were good. They made mistakes like anyone does, but they never hurt us. The most they did when we were really bad was smack our bums and send us to bed early."

Dewi opened and closed his mouth over and over, unable to comprehend the difference between Jason and Victoria's happy childhood with his own hell. "I... I...." he trembled. Then, with his heart breaking, he wailed and cuddled back in to John's chest.

Just about this time, Riti appeared via a transporter beam. He took one look at the sobbing child, then glanced at Jason and tapped his head.

Jason took a look and saw what Riti had done as punishment and went a little green in the face. "DAMN, dude! Owwie!"

Jacob grinned. "I like that. Can I borrow it, bird-bro?"

"No," Riti answered Jacob. "I don't want you doing what I did. Besides, you're not V.S.O. You're not allowed to go quite as far as us with punishments under standard Vulcan law."

"What did you do?" Nathan asked Riti softly.

"Let’s just say you can call him 'Chum boy' from now on," Riti smiled evilly.

Beau grinned. "It's only illegal if someone finds out."

"And it fit soooo well," Jamie added.

Nathan Evans glanced at Beau and Jamie and gave them a withering glare before giggling to himself. All three of the Terrors looked at each other innocently before nodding their heads in unison.

Viccy, Nathan, Riti and Jason all said "No!" at the same time. The three Evans boys grabbed a Terror each and began tickling them mercilessly. Viccy just watched and pointed out places her brothers were missing on the Terrors.

Once the group had calmed down and reentered the house, they found Preston still swearing impetuously. Keith, Mike and Derrick got Prez under control, then they passed around drinks and took a seat in the living room with their guests. Riti and John spent a fair bit of time tempting little Dewi into drinking his, and eventually managed to get a few giggles out of the tiny cherub.

After calming down somewhat, Prez went over to Jason. "Dude, I'm just wondering; you said the V.S.O. guard Clan Short. Why haven't we seen any of your guys here yet?"

Jason grinned, "You wouldn't because the A.I.'s see and hear everything. What is of concern to the V.S.O. are persons that might try to infiltrate and cause damage to Clan Short from within a Clan compound. There are operatives in place that will act as covert protection when you are outside of the monitoring area of the A.I.'s video and audible monitoring range. In addition, they will deal with external threats that are intending to become internal threats to your Division."

Viccy decided a distraction might be good. "Keith?"

"Uh, yeah, Vic?"

"What would you say if I said you and Prez are hot-to-trot, and Riti and I would like a tumble in a bedroom with you?"

That was the kind of outrageously silly sexual remark to set Prez off giggling and then laughing. While Prez stomped his feet and fell back into the sofa hysterical, Keith smiled widely and answered, "I guess that means 'some other time but not today, thanks.'"

Jason moved closer to Keith, then gently guided him out to the hallway and whispered, "Has anyone told you that John might be N-Gen?"

Keith answered, "Yeah, Juan did when he was here. It's been worrying us for a few days now, but they all told us it'll work out fine in the end."

Jason smiled, "Well, yes, it will. We've not lost anyone yet, but..."

"Lost anyone?" Keith exclaimed in a choked whisper.

Jason raised his hand to grip the older boy's shoulder, "Don't worry, Keith. Let me explain. When someone starts the turn, their power inside themselves increases off the scale. Their minds, however; are not set up to deal with that increase. It's like crossing a bridge when the bridge isn't even built. So, we need help. I was the first, and if I'd not had that help for another hour or so, I'd have died. So far, every N-Gen we've come across was turned in more than enough time."

Keith nodded, but then asked, "Does it hurt?"

"Like all hell has landed in your head, yes. When you start the turn by pushing yourself over your brain's, or mind's limit, you get a bitch of a headache that slowly gets worse and worse," Jason answered quietly.

"No way," Keith hissed. "I don't want my brother going through that! No way!"

Jason locked his eyes with Keith and said, "I could do nothing for Joel. But in seeing in his mind little John, there might be something I can do for him. That is why I brought five other N-Gens with me, plus Riti who is linked to Viccy. There is something I can try, but it has never been attempted before. One way or the other, he'll be an N-Gen, but I cannot say he won't feel some pain. All of us did to one degree or another. But my idea might work to do this painlessly. Joel would like that," Jason finished, his eyes filling with tears.

Wide-eyed and concerned about the seriousness of the situation, Keith said, "It would be as close to a hundred percent safe as is possible? I'll be honest, if my mom were to ever discover I had anything to do with something that hurt John, I'd have to move to the highest mountain of Tibet. Prez would insist on coming with me and then this division is shot to hell."

"No doctor would say a simple tonsillectomy is one hundred percent safe," Jason replied. "This would be like that, but bad tonsils won't kill you. John turning without assistance would be fatal if not helped in time. As I said, we haven't lost one yet, but we've had some really close calls. For John's own safety, I'd rather try to take him to N-Gen while he's relatively calm and there's a bunch of support around than have to try to do it when he's teetering on the brink and there may not be anybody available to help. Because I can assure you, he will go N-Gen; the only question is when."

Keith nodded, then went to the living room and called Drew into the hallway. John was already eying his brothers suspiciously but was still busy with Dewi. Keith briefly described the situation for Drew.

"Mom would go absolutely insane if anything happened," Drew agreed. "We'd all have to move to the furthest corner of the Earth to escape!"

"The alternative is far worse though," Keith recognized. "I think it's the best option."

Drew nodded and looked at Jason, "Do a real good job though, Jace. The alternative is having Daileass transport us all far away before five this afternoon."

Keith then went to get Prez. Prez excused himself and joined his brothers while John squinted at the activity. Viccy, Riti, and Nathan Evans surrounded John to assure him that everything would turn out for his benefit. Prez considered the situation carefully and agreed, "Whether we take action immediately or not, we're aware of it now. In my opinion, nowhere on Earth would be safe. We'd have to join Starfleet and remain as far away from this planet as is possible. We're agreed then; we do this now, rather than chance a bad scene?"

Keith and Drew both nodded. All four boys returned to the living room.

By this point, John had passed Dewi over to Bruce's arms, and was standing with his arms crossed. His face was stern and filled with a stubbornness only a ten-year-old could pull off. "Well?" he asked pointedly. "What are you going to hide from me this time? I need to be made a girl, maybe? Or is the world ending and I have to stay behind to sacrifice myself to save all humankind? What?"

Keith couldn't help but snort out a brief laugh, while Drew cocked his head thoughtfully to the side, "You know, I always wanted a little sister. This might work!"

Still naked from his flight with Riti, John instinctively cupped his privates with both hands. "Nuh uh! No way!"

Drew cracked up laughing, and Keith joined him laughing more loudly. Prez decided that the worried look on his younger brother's face was not quite as funny as Drew and Keith thought, and so explained the situation to John and those gathered there. Once he'd finished, John was now sitting again and looking at Prez with his mouth hanging open. Prez then said, "It's up to you, bro. You can wait, or you can go with Jason's idea now. I can't and won't force you. It's gotta be your choice."

John closed his mouth and looked around at his brothers for a moment. His voice trembling ever so slightly, he said, "I don't want it to hurt, and I don't want to die. I want to get it done now." Then he looked down at himself and asked meekly, "Can I put my shorts on now, please?"

Prez laughed and tossed the boy his underwear and board shorts. Viccy giggled, "Owwww! It's nice scenery, though!"

John was in his clothes in a heartbeat, blushing as he warily watched Viccy. The eight-year-old girl didn't move, but her eyes had certainly been watching 'everything' closely.

Once properly attired, John sat back down and asked, "What do I do?"

Grinning at his sister's antics, Nathan Evans said, "First, don't worry. What will happen to begin with is that we'll all link our minds together and draw you into that group. You've got the skills at least of a normal empath or telepath right now, so you'll actually find it kinda kewl. Then we'll explain what we're doing. Most of this is going to be on us."

"How long will this take?" Prez asked seriously. "I expect Cory Short here any time, now."

Jason smiled, "Inside our minds? Hours, maybe. In the real world, a minute or so. Not long for you, Prez."

Prez, Keith and Drew uncertainly grunted, "Huh?"

"Thoughts operate on a faster level than reality," Jason explained as his eyes lit up. The green in his blue-green eyes seemed to be swallowed by the azure blue; even the whites of his eyes changed.

This happened as well to Viccy, Nathan Evans, Riti, the Double Js and Beau.

"Will I get to do that too?" John excitedly asked as he looked from glowing eye to glowing eye.

"Yes," all seven replied in one voice. "You will never need a flashlight again!"

"KEWL!"

Keith muttered in Prez's ear, "Oh, boy!"

"Are you ready, John Hundser?" came the seven fold choral voice from the glowing eyed kids.

John nodded, "Yes."

"Then we shall begin."

John opened his eyes and looked around. He was on a beach somewhere and before him were his favorite drink, fruit punch, and a plate of Wheat-Thins. "Mmm," He giggled, then started to snack.

Behind him, giggles could be heard. With a mouth full of his snacks, John turned to see all seven of the N-Gens sitting right behind him. "Having fun?" Riti asked with a gentle smile.

After swallowing his mouthful, John nodded, "Yeah! What is this place?"

"Your mind," Jamie giggled.

Jacob continued, "and it's..."

"Kinda kewl!" Beau finished.

John looked about the beach. "This is my mind? Really?"

"Yes," Viccy smiled. "All of us have a special place in our heads. You are most at peace when you think of the sun, sand and sea. So this is what your mind will be like when you come inside to think or be at peace."

John nodded seriously and continued to munch on his wheat-thins.

Jason moved closer and drew John into a loose hug, "Okay, little guy, first I want to show you what we're aiming for. Then, me, Nath' and Viccy will start our bit with the three terrible triplets..."

"We..."

"... are not..."

"...triplets!"

"No, but you're as close as triplets," Nath' giggled.

"But that..."

"... would be..."

"... incest!"

"Well, keeping it in the family is best!" Viccy giggled, causing the Double Js and Beau to poke their fingers in their mouths and pretend to puke.

John nearly choked on his munchies as he laughed, making Jason hammer lightly on his back to help him breathe. "You won't pass out, but your thoughts can become a reality if you're not careful," Jason explained to the red-faced and laughing boy.

John took a long swig of his drink and sighed. With a smile, he said, "Okay. So you and them," he pointed at Riti, Nath' and Viccy, "will do one thing. What are the three insane ones gonna do?"

Jason grinned as John received a triple raspberry from the three insulted yet giggling boys. "Okay, watch this," Jason said as he waved his hand.

In the air before them all, an image of a canyon appeared. On one side was John. Then, a bridge formed and linked both sides of the canyon, and John seemed to exist on both sides at once. "What happened with me," Jason explained, "and with Nath' and Viccy was that our power was such that we could exist across this canyon, but our minds hadn't developed to the point where we had the bridge to cross. Or, you could think about a car; our engine was a jet engine in the body of a Ford. The body cannot hold it. So, the Mikyvis, Levi and his parents, came to help us in the past."

John nodded as he studied the image.

"What I'm going to do, and I will let you know now, this is not something an N-Gen has done before, so we will do this slowly and carefully; is build the bridge for you before your power ups to the level of a jet engine. While I do that, with Viccy and Nath', Riti will act as a power dump to ground us. Jamie, Jacob and Beau will be watching, so that they can do this themselves in the future. They already know how to do this to someone who's already dangling off the canyon as I was, but they want to learn a 'Gentle Transformation' as well, and I think it's a good idea. Once I'm ready with the bridge, Viccy and Nath' will withdraw from me to get you to go into overdrive. Once you are, Jamie, Jacob and Beau will start re-arranging your mind to operate as an N-Gen."

"While you and Riti hold the bridge in place? Or the Jet Plane body?" John asked, still studying the image.

"That's right," Jason smiled as he ruffled the boy's hair. "So, tell us when you're ready, and we'll begin."

John took another long drink. Then he asked, "Will it hurt?"

Jason hissed a breath through his teeth. "Well, it won't be like when I transformed, no. Definitely not. You... well, you might feel a stretching of your mind, like when you overuse a muscle? Like an ache, I'd imagine. Then again, if we get this perfect, maybe nothing at all. I cannot promise 'no' discomfort, but I will promise – you won't be in pain and definitely not agony as me and my bro and sis went through."

John nodded, "But if I said not now, and waited, it will happen and I will be in a lot of pain. And if you guys don't get to me in time, I could die. That's right, isn't it?"

Jason nodded seriously.

"Then a little stretching won't be a problem," John smiled bravely. "Thank you for doing this."

Jason hugged him. "I saw you in Joel's mind, and you're special to my brother and to I-Cheya. That makes you special to us. Joel would like us to do this, I'm sure. He really likes you a lot."

"Really? We didn't talk a lot when he was here."

"But he hugged you a lot, right?" Viccy asked with a smile.

"Well... yeah," John giggled.

"Sometimes actions speak louder than words," Jason said. "You were hugged the most by Joel, which means there's something about you that made Joel feel the most comfortable. He loves you, so we would do this even if we didn't know you. Now that we have met you, we love you as well, just for yourself. You're an amazing boy, and I sense you're going to do great things to help the Clan, and your big brothers. They are going to need you more than they realize."

Pride rushed into his heart, and John suddenly felt an echo of peace at that last statement. "Okay. I'm ready," he said softly.

At first, John felt nothing other than a tickling at the edges of his mind. He saw the twins and Beau darting their eyes around quickly as they followed something he himself could not see. He giggled as the tickling became greater.

Then, as if a doorway opened, he saw a pathway before him; glowing azure blue just like the eyes of the N-Gens. "Is this the bridge?" he whispered softly.

No word answered him, but a feeling of confirmation swept through his being.

The beach and everything around him fell away and he seemed to only exist on this path of azure power. None of the others were now visible. Then, next to him on either side, Viccy and Nath' appeared.

"What do I do now?" he asked.

The answer he had was a pressure on his mind. Then, "Push back," Nath' ordered.

John didn't quite know what he meant, but instinctively he hardened his mind against the pushing sensation. From Viccy's side, another feeling of pressure started, and he started pushing back. Once he felt the pressure lessen, he smiled at them. They smiled back and then the pressure increased again. "More," Viccy ordered.

On and on this went, with John getting his shield up to push back until he couldn't feel the pressure, but then once he had held it for a moment, the pressure increased again. It was not so much to hurt him, but to make him stretch himself to hold equal pressure back. He felt what Jason had warned him about, a slight ache as if he was doing weight training or pushups, but he wouldn't even say it was unpleasant. It felt kinda good, he admitted to himself as he found himself holding his own against the increasing power of two N-Gen minds.

"Move..."

"...over..."

"...the bridge," came the triplicate orders from behind him.

Without turning, John started obeying the Double J's and Beau and started walking. Viccy and Nath' walked with him, but the pressure was no longer increasing. It was normal now.

With each step he took, the bridge became more and more solid; John felt his mind expanding with every footstep. Room upon room seemed to open in his mind, and his power seemed to fill the spaces around him.

He opened his eyes on the beach of the calm part of his mind, and looked around himself. Puzzled, he asked, "What now?"

Jason formed a mirror with his mind and held it before John's face.

John looked then squealed out in joy.

His eyes, normally light brown, were now washed out in an azure blue glow of his own power.

Beau was further down the beach with the other four building sandcastles. The Double J's did their Clan duty by giving new telepaths their official Vulcan Legal training on the use and responsibility of their power. "So, my telepathy is always on? I'll always read people's minds?" John asked as he sat with the Double J's.

Jacob smiled, "Yes, but you learn to point the 'sight' of your telepathy to just over the heads of those around you."

"That way, you hear a murmuring, not their thoughts," Jamie added.

"You're not speaking like you normally do," John giggled.

Jacob winked, "We can speak normally, but most times we like teasing others by twin or triplet speak!"

John laughed. "Okay, so if I pointed my power out normally, I'd only hear surface thoughts?"

"Yes," Jamie answered. "To read minds and go deeper, like memories, you have to actively scan. All other times, it's passive."

"What about empathy? That's what I've always felt and had," John asked curiously.

Jamie giggled, "That's different. Viccy will show you that one. Now, back to the rules for scanning a criminal."

A little later, John was hugging Viccy as she and Riti finished showing him the basics of his N-Gen style empathy. "What you do with it now is up to you. Like Jace and the Double J's gave you the basics for telepathy, we've shown you the basics for empathy."

Riti added, "It's like teaching someone the alphabet. The story they write once they know how to read and spell is then up to them. Same for you. Each N-Gen is the same, yet each N-Gen is different. The Double J's are practically locked telepaths. Sammy, you've not met him yet, is a pre-cog and an empath in the main, but his other powers do get used some now. Everyone is unique, yet also the same. You'll learn stuff and discover stuff that the others haven't, and then you can show and teach them. Same for the stuff we learn."

"But not all at once, no?" John asked wisely.

"Nope," Jason said as he came to join them. "It's always good to let you grow your power on the basics for a while before we teach you the tricks we picked up."

John nodded with understanding. "So, what's next?"

"Well, Beau and Nath' want to show you telekinesis. Beau surprised us the other day. He's a very powerful T.K. Go on, cute stuff, go have fun. That's the real fun power to learn so you can prank your big bros!" Viccy giggled.

John bounced up and ran over to the waiting twelve- and ten-year-old. Soon thereafter, sand balls, sand pyramids and sandcastles were hovering about the beach.

"The force..."

"...is strong with..."

"...this one!" Jamie and Jacob giggled as Jason found himself hoisted into the air and dunked unceremoniously into the sea.

Just before leaving the union of their minds, John asked, "What about this pre-cog thing? Riti mentioned it, but none of you have said anything about it."

Jason answered, "Because none of us can control it. Yet, anyway. Sammy uses it the most, but even he cannot control it on a whim. It's more a feeling that a certain action is going to be right or wrong. Or something is coming, like a flash image. It just happens. It's why I was very sure I could move you to N-Gen without hurting you. If you're the one to find a way to control it, please tell the rest of us," he finished with a giggle.

"I will," John promised seriously, then he hugged each of them in turn. Giggling, he said, "I'm gonna prank my brothers good!"

"Oh dear," Riti murmured, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth, "what have we unleashed?"

The beach faded away and they all opened their eyes on the living room in Prez' house. Prez and the others were looking a little worried, and Keith asked, "You were gone for three minutes! You said it would only take a minute!"

"Oops," Jason giggled. "Well to us it seemed like a full day, so that's a fairly good going!"

Prez moved close to John, who still had his eyes closed, and touched his little brother's shoulder. "You okay?" he asked with concern, for the boy seemed to be sitting rigidly.

His eyes still closed, John shook his head. "No, I'm not okay," he muttered.

Then slowly, John opened his eyes and they radiated out in bright blue power. "I am GREAT!" he yelled out, "PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS!" His voice echoed and reverberated around the room. All the lights flashed, the chairs and sofas bounced around, and the mugs on the coffee table danced.

Then everything became still.

"In a cute, itty-bitty body!" John finished with an irresistible grin as his eyes returned to their normal light brown color.

Everyone in the room from Derek Tecumseh, the eldest, to Kokaku Kidotai, the youngest, found John's comical cartoon reference hysterical and cracked up laughing.

Prez growled playfully and pulled John up and into his arms, "That's revenge for the custard attack last week, I take it?"

"Partly," John giggled evilly.

While everyone was still laughing there was a knock at the front door. Passing John over to Keith, Prez went to answer it. He opened the door to find four more kids, two of which he easily recognized from the Internet and newspaper article photographs. Already in an exuberant playful mood, Prez smiled and loudly greeted the two he recognized. "Cory and Sean Short, as I live and breathe! Welcome to Paradise and The Rimmers' Funny Farm!" Stepping outside and offering his hand, Prez pulled Cory into a tight hug briefly, then did the same to Sean.

The strawberry blond that was with the new arrivals stuck his head in the doorway and glanced around. "Are you sure the double J's are here, Cor? The house seems to still be in one piece!"

Before anyone could respond, the telepathic triplets yelled "WE HEARD THAT, DORK!" After giggling for a second, they added "Daileass? North Atlantic please? Three dips!"

There was a brief yell from both twins, then cursing.

"Well, I didn't know you meant J.J., did I?" Daileass giggled as the two soaking wet twins ran outside to warm themselves in the sun.

Cory laughed at their antics, then mouthed silently; "Ark, would you be so kind as to send the gloating redhead behind me on the trip that the twins intended him to go on?"

< Only if you go with him. Tyne's orders. >

"I can live with that. Timmy's complaining about Sean not bringing him pets." Cory replied with a giggle.

Both J.J. and Cory vanished, then reappeared holding a baby seal between them, and of course both soaking wet.

Two giggling six-year-old boys came running up, the blond one holding a baby Nene goose. The redhead immediately spotted the seal, and exclaimed "KEWL! You gots me a new friend! Thanks, Unca J.J. an' Daddy!"

Letting go of Sean, Prez turned and hollered into the house, "Richie and Dee, come meet some new friends. And can someone grab two towels for Cory and J.J.?" Prez then faced Cory, pointed at the silver blond haired boy and asked, "Who's this guy?"

Richie and Dee came to the doorway as Cory said, "That's my bro, Adam Short."

Prez shook hands with Adam and said hello.

"I'm Timmy an thisiza my boyfriend Ricky," the redhead rushed out as Ricky handed the baby Nene to Sean. "Poppa, can you take care of Freddie while me an' Ricky an' Dee an' Richie goes an sees if Uncas Triple Awesome can make his momma better? She's sick."

Sean nodded, knowing better than to try to distract his son from an animal rescue. "Go on, Munchkin; good luck."

"You're silly, Papa! I don' need luck; I got Unca Beau!" Timmy giggled as the Nene was settling in Sean's hands. Once their charge was safe, Timmy and Ricky grabbed Richie and Dee's hands and dragged them off towards the trees lining the driveway.

Cory shook his head and grinned, "I hope you haven't had it as crazy as my life! Is there a tub we can let Harold here play in, then we'll try the introductions over again?"

"My life, crazy?" Prez teased and crossed his eyes briefly. "I've come to expect the unexpected these last few days; especially after our chimps blew up an ATV engine in the wee hours last night." Keith came to the door with a stack of towels and stepped outside while Prez introduced his boyfriend to everybody. Finally Prez said, "We can put Harold the seal in a tub upstairs."

Keith pleasantly smiled, "Come inside, dudes."

The now somewhat dry Cory and J.J. took their partners' hands and followed their hosts into the house, Harold calmly riding in J.J.'s free arm. Once they got Harold set up in his private tub playground, they came back downstairs and joined the rest of the group. As they took a seat, Cory glanced at Sean. "Hey, Babe? It's been five minutes. You think the wildlife preserve is set up yet?"

Sean shook his head. "I doubt it; give them another five or ten minutes."

"Timmy's Zoo, Ewa Beach branch," Prez smirked knowingly. Prez then introduced Mike, Derrick, Corey, Drew and John. Prez then tapped his comm-badge saying, "Kaleo?"

"Kaleo here."

"Can you come to my house please, bud?" Prez said, "There's a whole bunch of people here you haven't met."

"On my way," Kaleo replied.

John screamed, "JACE! Put me DOWN!" and then there was a splashing sound.

Everyone turned towards the direction of the kitchen, then giggled as Jason walked back into the living room and said, "That got the little bugger."

"Huh?" Prez asked, and then he laughed at the cursing from the kitchen.

"John. I got him back. In the kitchen sink."

Cory sat back with a grin. "You have no idea just how true the zoo comment is! Why the sink? Pools give a lot better air time!"

"Not when one dunks a boy's butt and groin in ice-cube filled cold water, it don't," Jason smirked.

"I believe you might have just started a war you'll never win." Sean commented with a giggle.

"Oh," Jason smiled, "I don't mind... but I've not revealed all my tricks yet... have I, Viccy?"

"No!" came the answering giggle from the kitchen as more splashes happened, and more yells from a now very cold John.

"See? I have minions too!" Jason laughed maniacally.

Cory shook his head. "So what kind of setup did the Elf leave you with, Prez?"

Jason softly said, "We're gonna go outside and let you guys take care of business," then led Viccy, Nathan and Riti out of the house. As soon as one small boy saw Riti, it seemed all the little ones were surrounding the Bird-boy wanting flights around the island.

"Thanks to Uncle Iokii," Prez explained, "we have six bases on four islands; three here on O'ahu, one of which I already gave to Adam for the UNIT. The other one is a mile or so west, and we'll use it as an incoming base. There's also a base on Maui, another on Hawaii and the last one on Kaua'i. The Endeavour set us up with buildings and facilities on all the bases similar to what we have here. We have a skeleton staff of chefs, housekeepers, landscapers and a doctor and child psychologist too, thanks to Peter Lambert. Adam provided personal and base security here. Starfleet security is stationed at the other unoccupied bases."

Pulling a dining room chair over, Keith sat and added, "Daileass got a few ads placed for more help too: nurses, receptionists and kitchen help. My mom's got degrees in sociology and psychology. My dad's into legal research, Mike's dad is a cop, Derrick's dad is a construction contractor, Corey's dad is a bank manager."

"The only important things we don't know are the specifics of the Clan Short Charter and the Safe Haven Act," Prez said.

"That is on the schedule," Cory replied. "Sounds like you have the basics. Are you confident that you could run this as a Division Director?"

Kaleo walked in the house and Prez quickly introduced him to everyone still in the room.

"Confident?" Prez smirked. "I'll be honest and tell you what I told my team last night, Cory." Prez paused and softly said, "I know some of what happened in Montana and that's why I was hesitant to accept Joel's offer to be Director. We're at war right from the get-go. We know it and we support it. My biggest worry is for the well-being of a hundred kids and four families, a responsibility I didn't have Friday but I do now. I think I can do it but I've already made some tentative plans to share some responsibility with my Core Rimmers."

"My Mom got to you before I did?" Cory said with a half-laugh. "She just spent an hour over the weekend chewing me a new one about not delegating enough. That sounds good. Just so you know, if you hadn't had reservations, I woulda denied Joel's appointment of you. People who know it all have no place in any kinda management position in the Clan."

Prez smiled and nodded, "I thought maybe you wouldn't like the idea of delegating. Your mom and mine are definitely singing from the same song book. It's been a busy... no, it's been a hectic two days. Without my team doing their bits, I'd already be shot to hell!"

"Yeah, it's nuts at times," Cory replied with a smile. He tapped his comm-badge with a grin and announced "Hey transistor-breath! Stop looking at nanite porn and open a Clan Wide channel!"

All the Core Rimmers cracked up, as did most of the others in the room.

"Trans What! Johnny Five Alive. No transistors, Ugly Bag of mostly water. You must have used up all of that single blond brain cell to come up with that incredible display of witty conversation." Daileass said, with a playful mirth in his voice.

"I noticed you didn't deny the nanite porn. Busted!" Cory laughed. "Seriously, open a channel so I can let the guys know where to find the Rimmers at officially."

"Shall I show everyone what you and Sean were up to three days ago after bedding down for the evening?" was the response Daileass gave while making the necessary connections. "Talk about kinky. What I want to know is why the spurs?"

"Because we knew you were watching and wanted to confuse you," Cory replied. "Say when, D."

"So you are an exhibitionist. That explains so much, Blondie. When D," a giggling Daileass responded.

Cory smiled, then began speaking. "Attention, all members of Clan Short. For the second time in less than a week, a new Division has been formed. All Communications officers log this location. Family Clan Short - Pacific Rim Division has been acknowledged and approved with Preston Albert O'Brian as Director. All Divisions are to contact the Director within the next twenty-four hours to ensure what assistance is necessary. In addition, the next person who forms a Division while I'm on a break without at least dropping me a quick message will be locked in a room with me as I consume and digest two loaves of garlic bread. Confirm."

Cory grinned as the confirmations came in, almost overlapping each other in haste. "Congrats, Prez; welcome to the family!" Cory said as the last Division checked in.

"Awesome!" Keith cheered.

Prez suggested, "How about we celebrate at the C.I.C. dining room with a great lunch before we have to head to school for band practice?"

"Great!" Mike enthusiastically said.

"We'll get our boys and meet ya there, Prez," Derrick said, and then took Mike's hand and went back home.

Keith gathered Bruce, Carmella, Dewi and Kokaku. Prez asked Mr. T to join them. Soon everyone had left the house. There was short detour to get Dee, Richie, Timmy and Ricky. It seemed that Freddie's mamma Nene was feeling better, so Freddie was left with her.

On the way to the C.I.C., while the little kids raced ahead, Sean turned to Keith and said, "We've already heard you guys are musicians. Would you mind having an audience?"

Mildly stunned, Keith wondered, "You guys would want to come to our school?"

"Sure, why not?" Cory smiled.

Keith giggled, "Well, it's school!"

Prez asked, "Would security be an issue?"

J.J. snickered, "I'm head of Clan security. We'll have your personal security guys there anyhow."

Keith nodded, "If it's no problem for you, I'd love for you guys to be there."

Prez warned, "Mrs. Diaz, our teacher, is really our only concern. She's gonna have to get used to us bringing security along, or we've got an issue to resolve."

Mike sighed, "We can only hope she doesn't have an issue."

Derrick said, "We've worked for our places in the school jazz band. As long as they're kewl, we are. Otherwise..."

Prez finished, "If Mrs. Diaz, the school or other students have a problem, it's their problem, not ours."

"Let's not stress it for now," Keith suggested.

But Mike still offered, "We're not gonna quit, but if they force our hand, Clan Short takes priority." Almost simultaneously, Prez, Keith and Derrick agreed.

Cory said, "Don't worry about it, guys. Even if school turns out to be a problem, we'll put you on Clan concert tours once in a while."

Sean readily agreed, "We're brothers now. Any problem of yours, we'll come up with a work-around."

Mike turned to Sean and wondered, "What exactly are these rooster tails you're so good at?"

Adam, Cory and J.J. burst out in giggles. Sean loudly chuckled, "Who told you about that?"

"Tyler told us Saturday morning," Derrick remembered. He opened the dining room door and held it as everyone stepped inside.

Sean smiled, "A rooster tail is what happens when you bring a shuttle down fast and low, like ten or so feet off the surface of the water..."

"You're a pilot? Prez nervously crowed.

Sean nodded and Cory said, "A damn good pilot too."

Sean offered, "I'll take you guys for a ride sometime."

While Mike and Derrick enthusiastically agreed, Keith explained, "Prez' parents were killed in a plane crash. It was only two years ago. Getting him to fly might require sedation."

Derrick teased, "You were flying on The Endeavour though, Prez."

Picking up a tray, Prez grinned, "Y'all can go get your jollies while I watch the rooster tails safe on the shore." He then paused briefly and loudly announced, "We got pizza! One of our chefs is from New Jersey and, scuttlebutt has it, he makes the best pizza ever." Lined up ready to be served were several thin and thick crust pizzas; some were plain cheese, some were pepperoni and sausage, some had pineapple and ham, and two were vegetarian.

Dee looked up at Keith and asked, "Can me and Richie have pizza too, daddy?"

"You can have anything you want," Keith answered. "If you'd rather something else..."

"No, pizza'd be kewl," Dee smiled.

"I'll carry our sodas," Keith offered.

As everybody moved through the line, Miguel served Prez and said, "Charles is already doing interviews, Preston."

"Kewl!" Prez chirped.

Miguel nodded, "Several qualified chefs have applied. We're keeping them high on our list for future expansion."

Prez hummed thoughtfully while helping Dewi with his tray then said, "Ya know what, get them past the interview process completely."

Cory said, "Go ahead and hire 'em, Prez. You've got lots o' bases to get staffed. Better to have them before they're needed."

"You heard the boss," Prez smiled at Miguel. "Staff up for five bases A.S.A.P."

"What of the sixth base, Sir?" Miguel wondered.

"That's Adam's UNIT base," Prez replied. "I'm sure he's already getting staff he needs there."

Miguel nodded and smiled, "Enjoy your lunch, gentlemen."

"Have good day," Prez smiled.

Once everybody was seated and had begun eating, Prez asked, "You guys know what went on here with C.P.S. and the orphanages?" When Sean, Corey, Adam and J.J. nodded, Prez said, "I'm planning on talking to the King later. We think Republic of Hawaii C.P.S. should just be closed up; that way we don't ever have to go down that road again. Going forward, Pacific Rim Division and Federation Youth Services picks up the ball. What do you guys think?"

"It's a big job we'd be relieving the government of," Adam softly considered.

"But a job the government screwed up majorly," J.J. said.

Sean asked, "What if the C.P.S. budget came directly to Clan Short?"

Thoughtful, Cory nodded, "That's a good idea. If the King's agreeable, we could take over. We could even present that option to some State Governors." Cory paused and smiled, "This is awesome pizza! Nice thin, crisp crust, excellent sauce and cheese too. Word's gonna get around about this dude. He's gonna have to do some pizza training for our other chefs."

Sean giggled around the latest slice of pizza he had shoved in his mouth. "Thonehz unna anht o shoh hesahees!"

Adam laughed. "Okay, who brought Joey along!"

Mike, Derrick and Keith loudly grunted, "Huh?"

Prez grinned, "Many languages later and I still don't have a friggin' clue."

Timmy giggled. "You gotta unnerstan feeding hog. He said, Unca Tommy's gonna wanna swap reci-pees!" Timmy then quickly sought shelter on Cory's lap, giggling madly as Sean glared at him.

"That's what Granma Teri calls it!" Ricky added as he quickly joined Timmy.

Sitting nearby with Cesar, Felipe, Carmella, Latoya and Christel, Lanna Seaver overheard this and said, "I cannot wait to meet your Granma Teri!" She then noticed Jamie and Jacob, pointed and warned, "You two will use sunscreen lotion or else!"

"But" "we" "live" "in" "Florida." "We" "are" "used" "to" "the" "sun!" Jamie and Jacob see-sawed in reply.

"And you're already pink!" Lanna forcefully reminded. "No lip now, either you do the sunscreen or I will."

"But" "we" "are" "ALWAYS" "pink!" they argued back.

Corey Seaver went over to Jamie and Jacob, leaned between them and whispered, "She's my mom. She'll getchya, I guarantee it. You'll think you're safe, but you won't be really. Ask Brant, she got him Friday before we even met him. You will have no choice."

Jamie and Jacob both crossed their arms and sulked. "We don't need no friggin' sunscreen..." Jamie muttered.

"We're always outside and we never sunburn," Jacob added in a low irritated tone.

'Chill, you two.' Cory pushed out telepathically to the twins. 'Let me handle this AFTER we are done eating.'

'Yes sir, Captain Cowboy.' Both of them sent back, the sarcasm just enough to let Cory know they would do it for him, only because they knew he would keep his word.

As they uncrossed their arms and quietly resumed eating, Cory motioned to Mrs. Seaver to come over. Once she was at his side, he softly told her in a voice low enough that only she could hear. "Mrs. Seaver, there are a few things that you and I need to talk about after lunch concerning the twins. I think you'll understand their reaction a little better."

Perceiving a seriousness in Cory's tone and noticing many similarities with her own Corey, Lanna nodded and whispered, "I'll be home or by the pool most of the afternoon."

Cory nodded. "Thanks."

Corey Seaver came over to talk with Cory Short regarding the overprotective nature of his mom. In the meanwhile, Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick were holding a conversation about the school jazz band with Adam and J.J. Simply because they very much wanted to, Kaleo and Tory were eating at a table alone. By the time Corey and Cory were done whispering, the other conversation had moved beyond music to their kids. Everybody joined together on that shared topic.

Then a UNIT Colonel moved towards the table and the conversation paused. The teenage boy snapped to attention and saluted saying, "Kekoa Casey reporting in as Commanding officer of the Pacific Rim Division UNIT detachment."

"Excellent!" Prez cheered. "At ease, Kekoa." The Colonel moved to parade rest. Prez grinned, "Take it easy and chill out! Here's the way I'd like it to be; you act military and I'll assume there's a situation requiring Pacific Rim Division's immediate attention. Call me Prez. We're on a first name basis unless you're making a military report. Right now, we're finishing lunch. Have you eaten?"

"I have," Kekoa replied.

"Then grab a chair and join us, please," Prez smiled. Kekoa slid a chair over and sat between Cory and Prez. Prez asked, "You know we're just getting settled, right?"

Kekoa nodded, "General Casey has briefed me, yes. Just so you know, I am a native of Hawaii. I ran away from one of the orphanages that were shut down."

"I guessed your heritage from your name, brave one," Prez grinned.

Mike wondered, "How the heck do you know this stuff?"

Keith answered, "Etymology. Prez likes to know how we know what we know, so he studies root word forms whenever a new word pops up." Feeling like he had somehow absorbed a part of the Double J's circular speaking, Keith crossed his eyes briefly and giggled, "Ya know?"

"Here's what's been happening in a nutshell," Prez said to Kekoa. "The Republic of Hawaii's government seems to have changed from Parliamentary to Kingdom. How the King manages that mess is still up in the air. What the Pacific Rim Division has been doing is mopping up the mess left behind by corrupt C.P.S. and orphanages that were born from corruption in our Government. Kids have been coming to us directly and I expect that will continue. We haven't done a real rescue, just picking up kids here and there."

Prez paused and smiled at Cory saying, "Patriarch Short made us an official division of Clan Short only about an hour or so ago. In the next day, I expect business to increase. While I very much need you and your detachment, my team and myself need to learn the ropes by participating in rescues whenever is reasonable. I do intend to turn over more dangerous rescues to your troops; when exactly that might happen is only subject to circumstances. Personally, I'd be happy if there was never a need for violent rescues of any sort, but we all know that's a dream." After another brief pause, Prez asked, "Are there any questions, Kekoa?"

Kekoa thought for a few moments, then said, "Just let me reword what you've said to make sure we're on the same page." Prez nodded agreement and Kekoa said, "You'd like to have your team continue picking up kids when risk is low. When the risk is higher, you'd like to have your team still involved, but with divisions of the detachment. Highest risk rescues would depend entirely upon the Pacific Rim detachment. Have I misunderstood anything?"

"No, that's pretty much it," Prez smiled. "Are there any issues?"

"Yes," Kekoa said. "Mixing civilians with trained military is fundamentally dangerous."

Prez nodded, "That's understood. Would there be less danger if my team and our assigned UNIT security personnel hung back until cleared by you or your assigned team leaders?"

"Your safety and ours would both be more certain," Kekoa agreed.

Prez smiled, "Then that's what we'll do."

Keith softly reminded, "It's almost time for school, Prez."

Prez turned to Dee and Richie asking, "You guys stay with Auntie Lanna for a few hours while daddy and me go to school, okay?" Both boys nodded and Prez kissed their foreheads.

Keith also kissed Dee and Richie, then said, "Make friends with Dewi. He needs us all and every friend counts."

"We will, daddy," Dee assured.

"You know me and Prez miss you guys every time we're apart?" Keith dramatically frowned.

Dee and Richie nodded and replied, "We miss you too."

Corey and Drew came over with Geoff. Drew said, "We're all gonna hang together by the pool and rec center.

A few tables away, John, Nathan, Bruce and Dewi stood. Prez and Keith both heard John in their minds, but it was very quiet. 'It's kewl, bros. We're gonna hang together with the kids.'

Prez told Drew, "We'll be gone about an hour and a half," then turned to Cory and Sean Short. "Are you guys ready?" With nods from the Short boys, Prez led the way out of the C.I.C. dining room. Once everyone was gathered and the eight personal security guards were in position with their weapons hidden, Prez tapped his sub-vocal. "Daileass?"

"Ready for band class now, Prez?" Daileass responded.

"Yep, to James Campbell High School, outside the main entrance please."

In a blink, the group was standing outside of the school. Half of the security team led the way inside and Keith explained, "Our mothers have called the board of education. As far as we know, there's no problem."

Once in the school's main office, Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick went to the counter and identified themselves. Mrs. Winchester stepped away from the counter briefly and returned with four large sealed envelopes, handing one to each of the four boys. "What are these?" Mike asked.

"Your transcripts," Mrs. Winchester answered. "We were told that you are changing schools."

"Oh!" Mike said, "Yeah, that's true."

Prez offered, "We just didn't expect them so quickly."

Mrs. Winchester then did a quick head count and said, "There are four additional boys here?"

"Yes, ma'am. They're visiting friends and Clan Short dignitaries," Keith said, and turned to point each out. "Patriarch Cory Short, Sean Short, Adam Short and J.J. Richardson."

"We ain't no dignitaries," Sean softly giggled.

"Shush!" Cory grinned.

"You'll all need hall passes," Mrs. Winchester smiled. She took a pad of paper out then began scribbling out the passes. She only asked for names as she worked and seemed to be completely indifferent about the group of sixteen boys. Once she was finished signing and distributing the hall passes, Mrs. Winchester warned, "Go directly to your class, boys. Only lavatory visits, no wandering around."

All the boys assured they would not stray and exited the office. They softly chattered about the school as they walked down the halls. Everyone made quick pit stops at the boys room near the destination classroom. Since there were six urinals and six commodes, four boys had to wait their turn. A loud gaseous explosion erupted from one of the commodes. Amongst the snickering from the Rimmers, Adam, J.J. and Sean shouted, "Jeez Cory!"

"What?" Cory incredulously giggled. "It was good pizza! It was either here or in the classroom."

"Get it out of your system here!" Sean laughed.

Adam chuckled, "Can't take you anywhere!"

While washing his hands, Prez grinned, "Now we know for sure what that garlic bread threat was about!"

"It worked though, didn't it?" Cory giggled.

When everyone finished, they went to the classroom at the end of the hall. The security team noticed there were windows and decided four would stand guard alongside the mostly glass wall. The bell rang and about twenty-five kids exited the classroom, then the Clan Short group entered.

By this time, Carmella, Kokaku, Richie and Dee were telling Dewi about the fun they had Friday with Joel's Sehlat, I-Cheya. Dewi didn't believe them, so the five little one's went to Bruce and John for confirmation. Dewi still believed the story was a prank. John figured now was as good a time as any to practice his N-Gen skills, especially since his parents and eldest brothers weren't around. Lanna Seaver, Anna Seibert and Laura Gibbons watched awestruck as Richie was telekinetically lifted and tossed into the pool. Then it was Dewi's turn to go for a dunk. Soon Beau and Jason were also having fun with the kids, lifting them higher and higher, then letting them drop into the pool.

Mrs. Diaz watched wide-eyed as the four Core Rimmers, four Orlando Clan and eight security boys entered the classroom. "Hi, Mrs. Diaz," the four Core Rimmers chorused.

Mrs. Diaz grinned, "I saw your performances on television Friday night."

"It was completely unexpected," Keith smiled.

"Are you rich and famous now?" Mrs. Diaz joked.

"Not exactly!" Derrick snickered.

After getting a nod of approval from Cory, Prez explained, "We're now part of Clan Short, Mrs. Diaz," and then began introducing everyone.

Other band members began filing in the room as Mrs. Diaz told Cory Short, "While I'm very glad the injustices were resolved, I'm also quite embarrassed that it happened here."

"Don't be embarrassed," Cory calmly said, "It's everywhere, Hawaii is still part of our planet."

"Thank you," Mrs. Diaz said. She then went into high school teacher mode, saying, "Please be seated and remain quiet during class."

"Can we applaud at the end of songs?" Cory cutely smiled.

Mrs. Diaz nodded and explained, "We've got concerts every day this week beginning tomorrow morning. There's a lot to cover, so please, don't get too carried away." Each of the Clan Short Orlando boys nodded, then took seats. While the jazz band continued preparing for class, Mrs. Diaz moved to the front of the ensemble and shuffled through piles of sheet music. She looked at the band. Everyone soon stopped chattering and warming up. "Let's begin with One O'Clock Jump," Mrs. Diaz instructed. Everyone began digging through their sheet music.

The band was set up in a small semi-circle. Seated on the left side were four trombone players, and standing behind them were four trumpet players. Keith, Derrick, Prez and Mike made up the rhythm section and were in the center. On the right side were four clarinet players, and behind them were four saxophone players. One O'Clock Jump began with a short rhythm section introduction, followed by clarinet, trumpet and saxophone solos and then the full band.

While the Orlando Clan boys clapped, Mrs. Diaz called out, "In The Mood next, please." More sheet music shuffled, then Mrs. Diaz called out the tempo and the band began playing.

Harlem Nocturne was the next tune played, followed by St. Thomas, both songs featuring the lead tenor saxophonist. The next song Mrs. Diaz called out was the Miles Davis classic Blue In Green. It was a slow, moody blues tune that almost put the Orlando Clan boys to sleep. "Sing, Sing, Sing next, please," Mrs. Diaz instructed. The visiting Clan boys could finally hear a tune that featured Derrick on drums, and they bounced in their chairs as Derrick pounded away at the tom-toms.

Take the 'A' Train featured Keith on piano at first, but soon the harmonized brass and reeds background took over the melody. For Maynard Ferguson's Gonna Fly Now, Keith moved to the synthesizer, Prez picked up the electric bass and Mike moved to electric guitar. Now the Orlando Clan boys could really hear Mike playing as a fundamental part of the song. Without his rhythm guitar and solo section, the song simply wouldn't sound correct.

"Obviously you people need an audience," Mrs. Diaz teased. While the band members all nodded, smiled or giggled, she said, "Well done. Our concerts are during third and fourth periods tomorrow through Friday." The bell rang before she finished. While everyone gathered their sheet music and prepared to leave, Mrs. Diaz loudly said, "Don't forget there are two concerts Saturday; from two in the afternoon until three-thirty and from eight in the evening until nine-thirty." Noticing that Keith, Prez, Mike and Derrick weren't packing up, she asked, "Are you boys staying for seventh period?"

"We almost always do," Mike replied.

Prez explained, "Our friends are from the United States and probably won't make any of our concerts."

"We're not so sure about that," Cory smiled. "If we get the chance, you might have a good part of Orlando Clan here Saturday."

Sean shrugged, "We'll have to see how things go."

As many of the band members walked out of the classroom, Timmy and Ricky raced in, William and Duke hot on their heels. "DAADDDDYYY! POPPPPAAAA! You gotta see the art classes that they gots in here! They got chalk an' clay an' paints an' pencils an' BIG drawin' paper! The teacher's real nice too! He let us make prezzies for you while his class was drawin' pictures of William an Duke! They's superstar birds now!"

*Squark!* Duke and William said in confirmation.

Mike and Derrick couldn't help but chuckle at the enthusiastic entrance of the two boys. Keith and Prez were more concerned, however. Each of the boys were less than half the size of the majority of the student body. From his piano bench, Keith turned to Cory and asked, "Umm... is it okay for Timmy and Ricky to be unescorted?"

Cory shrugged. "I'm more worried about anyone who screws with them. Timmy's got more kills during the Montana crap than some of the professionals that were fighting on our side."

Keith's jaw dropped. Mrs. Diaz was also stunned, partially at the revelation about Timmy and partly because of the two large eagles now in her classroom. Glaring at the adorable little boy, Prez stammered, "Timmy? No way!"

Timmy giggled and raised his left arm. Around his wrist appeared a small creature. "It's a Fuzzymore!" he grinned, as if that would explain it all.

"Three confirmed... and I'm not asking how many unconfirmed or shared responsibility," Sean stated seriously. "He is officially the deadliest six-year-old on Earth."

Cory nodded, "And also the most protective."

"Yep!" Timmy added with a serious, almost menacing tone. "NOBODY messes with my Daddy or Poppa."

Ricky giggled as he showed off his 'Fuzzymore' as well.

Cory added, "And he's got a Minion-In-Training!"

Prez turned to Keith but Keith's head was sagging against the piano, softly chuckling because William and Duke had taken keen interest in Mrs. Diaz. The poor woman was now backed into the corner behind her desk. "Just a few quick questions," Prez offered. "What is a fuzzymore?"

Cory smiled. "I'll explain more when we are in a more secure location. Just think of a biological based weapon tied to the host's nervous system; in their case a sentient weapon." Derrick stood, then went to where William and Duke were perched on Mrs. Diaz' desk. The two eagles only rubbed their beaks against Derrick's arm and hand but didn't take the hint.

Prez nodded understandingly saying, "That works for me. Question two; would someone please help Mrs. Diaz before she climbs the wall or wets herself?" But before anyone could reply or move, one of the air conditioning vents fell from the ceiling and landed on the floor with a loud metallic rattle and two ferrets attached.

"Spike! Xander!" Mike hollered. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"Making sure Shiny Daddy is safe!" Spike smiled.

From the ceiling, peering down from the duct, Willow shook her head and smiled, "We warned them. They're too heavy to sit on the vent."

Timmy looked up at the vent. "Hey Willow! Thanks for the shinys for us to put on the prezzies!"

Willow grinned. "You're welcome, Timmy! Their old owner won't need them where she's going. She thought locking the door would hide what she was doing."

Mike put his guitar down and went over to his ferret boys then reached up and sweetly said, "Come on down here, pretty girls." Willow climbed down first and Mike set her on the floor. Then Mike helped Faith down and set her on the floor.

Timmy and Ricky went over to where William and Duke were perched on the desk. They bent over and the two birds climbed on their respective boy's shoulder. Timmy looked sweetly up at Mrs. Diaz and said "You're really nice! They just want to say hi to you; they's not wild eagles, they's Spirit Eagles, and they both says you are a good person an' they likes you."

Mrs. Diaz whimpered, then sat on her chair weakly muttering, "Uh... thanks."

"Breathe slow and deep," Derrick softly instructed.

Trying not to laugh but failing miserably, Prez roared. Keith tapped his sub-vocal. "Daileass?"

"Hi Keith," Daileass replied, "Ready to transport back home?"

"Not quite yet," Keith answered. "Do us a favor, dude; contact Doctor Janet. Have her fill a Valium prescription for Mrs. Diaz. She's about one hundred and thirty pounds. Transport it to her desk A.S.A.P."

"Got it," Daileass giggled. "Guess band class wasn't so good?"

"Band class was fine," Keith snickered. "Immediately afterward, things went slightly askew."

Slapping his hands on top of his amplifier, Prez bellowed, "Just slightly askew!"

Mike sat on a chair near Cory, Sean, Adam and J.J. Faith and Willow climbed up onto Mike's shoulders. Spike and Xander sat on Mike's lap. Mike began sharing the story of how he and Derrick adopted the Scooby Gang, two humans and one android before they had dinner Saturday night.

A small bottle appeared on Mrs. Diaz' desk. Derrick picked it up and read aloud, "Take one tablet at bedtime. Get at least eight hours sleep. Do not drive or operate machinery."

"Who's an android?" Keith loudly wondered.

Mike grinned and answered, "Reyes. Nathan told us Saturday."

Adam shook his head and joked, "I don't know what you guys are complaining about! This has been a quiet day; just wait until things really get weird!"

"You should have been in Orlando on Thursday," Cory giggled.

"Why? What happened?" Prez heaved curiously.

"Joel's birthday," Sean giggled.

"How was that so bad?" Keith wondered.

"Well," Sean giggled, "lessee... he gets married, finds his dad, Captain Spock, who then becomes our dad, and gets to be an admiral. Then Joel gets the Star Cross, then Clan Short is destroyed as a Clan, then we become a Family, then Cory is given a seat on the Vulcan High Council, then..."

"ENOUGH!" Prez yelled, laughing so hard his ribs hurt. "You're KILLING ME!"

Their comm-badges went off. "Hey, guys," Seth laughed across them. "Jude wants to know if he's chopped liver or something."

"Oh, that's right!" Cory giggled, "The day before, Elf kidnapped Jude to be his brother, they share a birthday, and together they saved the bloody Excelsior! Amongst other things..." he trailed off with a giggle.

"Unca Derrie? When do we get to watch ya beatin' your skins?" Timmy asked with puppy-dog eyes. Derrick quickly turned around and smiled at Timmy, uncertain if the boy was asking about drumming.

Wheezing and absolutely hysterical, Prez sat on the floor; his face becoming redder than his hair.

As Mrs. Diaz watched, totally numbed by the events around her, William flew over to the water fountain in the room with a paper cup in his beak. With Duke's assistance, the cup was filled. Carefully, William carried the cup over to Mrs. Diaz, who took it with shaky hands.

Keith snorted, then got up to help Prez, saying "Daileass, we've scared the straights enough. Prepare to transport all of us back, outside our base auditorium please." Once Prez was leaning against him and everyone was standing, Keith said, "Now's a good time, Daileass."

"Leave the teacher here, Micro-brain!" Corey quickly interjected.

In a heartbeat, the classroom was empty except for Mrs. Diaz; who looked around and wondered if she had a waking dream. She noticed the bottle of Valium and stuffed it in her purse, then prepared to leave for the day.

Outside the auditorium, everyone grinned at one another. "Well, that wasn't really so bad," Keith giggled.

Wiping sweat from his forehead, Prez caught his breath and snickered, "Daileass, patch me to all the speakers on the base."

Daileass replied, "You're set, Prez."

Prez called, "Attention all Rimmers. Jam time in the auditorium. Drew and Corey, we'll need you, so bring our kids. Anyone else not occupied is welcome to attend. That is all."

Prez's comm-badge chirped and Drew's voice said, "Hey, Prez. You guys weren't even gone an hour. What happened?"

"Ya had to be there," Prez giggled.

Keith led the way inside the dimly lit auditorium lobby. Since the Rimmers' C.I.C. was the same design as the one in Orlando, Cory and Sean immediately went to the circuit breakers, then began turning on lights and equipment.

Smiling down at Spike and Xander, Mike wondered, "Why did you guys think we wouldn't be safe and join us?"

Spike stammered, "Because we's sleeps with you and... and... we's eat with you and..."

Xander finished, "You's treats us like human kids and you's loves us and we's loves you too!"

"UNIT security deals with immediate threats," Willow smiled.

Faith proudly continued, "We's can learn about future threats while we're hiding."

Spike nodded, "A boy and girl don't like our Shiny Daddies."

"They says you're stuck-up showoffs," Willow frowned.

Derrick chuckled, "Oh really?"

All four ferrets nodded and Xander grinned, "They won't say that no more."

Keith groaned, "Oh shit."

Mike innocently asked, "What did you guys do?"

"Girl's locked in janitor’s closet," Faith giggled.

Willow added, "Knob lock is jammed too!"

Spike nodded and grinned, "Boy's shiny horn is 'missing'."

"He'll never find it!" Xander playfully teased.

Derrick hummed thoughtfully and asked, "Was it a reverse 'S' shaped horn?"

All four ferrets shook their heads and in unison said, "A little horn," then held their hands up like they were playing imaginary trumpets.

Prez giggled, "Had to be Bobby."

"Bobby and Sheryl!" Keith snickered. "Birds of a feather." William and Duke squawked unhappily. Keith said, "Sorry, it's just an expression. I really like birds; lots have pretty songs and beautiful plumage." William flew over to Keith and landed on his shoulder. Keith only ducked his head slightly to accommodate the eagle's large wing-span.

Cory said, "All set, guys," and closed the circuit breaker panel door.

Holding the door into the auditorium open, Derrick scowled, "They say we're stuck-up? They outta know!"

Keith led the way into the auditorium agreeing; "They both think they're good enough to play first chair and solos. In reality, if there's a wrong note to be played, they've done it."

Sean followed and asked, "Is that where the nasty honk came from during the Rocky theme song?"

Prez nodded and explained, "Maynard Ferguson was definitely one of the best trumpet players ever. Bobby's delusional if he thinks he could ever match that man's range."

Beginning the walk into the auditorium and down towards the stage, Mike chuckled, "Good job, guys!" All four ferrets smiled proudly. Willow and Faith hugged Mike's head. "Hey Daileass," Mike called, "Transport my Les Paul and the D-45 to our stage, dude." A moment later, both guitars were in their cases and on the stage. "Thanks, dude," Mike politely said.

"Any time, Scooby Daddy," Daileass giggled. Mike growled, which only caused Daileass to giggle longer.

Kaleo opened the door allowing Dee, Dewi, Richie, Reyes, Dillon and Jonah to race down the aisle. John was next in line with Bruce, Carmella and Kokaku following close behind. William launched himself from Keith's shoulder to soar around the large auditorium's ceiling and was soon joined by Duke.

Dee jumped up into Prez's arms while Richie and Dewi hurried into Keith's open arms. After planting kisses on the boys' cheeks, Keith wondered, "Where's Uncle Drew and Uncle Corey?"

"Headin' upstairs with Geoff," Richie smiled.

Timmy let go of Cory and went to Mike. "Can I play too, Unca Mike?" Timmy asked.

"Do you play, Timmy?"

Timmy rapidly nodded and sweetly smiled, "I likes guitar most."

"You're way too small to be able to play my guitars," Mike recognized. "Do you have your own gear?"

"Daileass!" Timmy excitedly hollered. "Get my guitar an amp on stage too!" A second later, a child-sized Squier Strat on its stand and a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp appeared on stage.

"Pretty nice," Mike encouraged. "Daileass, get a Shure SM57 microphone for Timmy's amp and let Drew know what channel it's connected to." That was all Timmy needed to hear. He raced to the stage and up the stairs with Ricky close behind. Soon the two boys were pushing the heavy amp into position. Then they crawled underneath the backstage curtains, giggling loudly while searching for a power outlet. Prez, Keith and Derrick went on stage with their kids.

Cory went to Mike and softly said, "Timmy's pretty good. He learns everything by ear."

Mike nodded, "That's really good for his age. So we know how to talk turkey with him, does he know anything like key signatures or names of notes?"

"Pro'bly not," Cory grinned.

"Would you like him to learn?" Mike asked, and then leaned down so Willow and Faith could climb into a seat.

"Whatever he seems interested in is kewl with me," Cory answered.

Sean added, "If he gets that dazed and confused look then starts blinking fast, you've lost him."

"Permanently?" Mike worried.

Sean shook his head, "Nah, just back down the ladder a few rungs 'til you get the spark back."

"Tell ya what," Mike began, "we'll start jammin' the blues and let him play by ear for a while. I'll watch him and he can watch me."

"That'll make him really happy!" Cory giggled.

"Sweet!" Mike chirped, and then went to join the others on stage. Mike filled in his band mates on the situation with Timmy, but then realized the two younger boys were still behind the curtains giggling insanely. Mike went to the curtains and loudly asked, "Hey you two, did you get lost finding the outlets?"

"Jus playin' with our plugs!" Timmy howled.

Mike's eyes nearly shot out their sockets. "We're gettin' our act together and there's an audience waiting," Mike grinned, and then went to get the Les Paul. After powering up his own amps, Mike flipped the power switch on Timmy's amp and the little red lamp lit. Snickering at the little devils behind the curtains, Mike began silently running scales and warming up.

Prez came over wearing his bass and wondered, "Where's Timmy?"

Mike nodded backstage, then giggled, "Playin' with Ricky."

Seeing the light, Prez smiled, "Remember when the four of us used to do stuff like that?"

"I'll never ever forget it, bro," Mike truthfully replied.

"Now that we're fathers, I guess we're too old," Prez smirked.

"Nuh uh!" Mike grunted, and then teased, "Speak for yourself, Director O'Brian!"

Prez bellowed laughing, then moved closer to Mike and whispered, "Keith kept telling me to direct him yesterday."

"Ooo! Direct me! There, like that, yeah!" Mike softly chortled. Prez cracked up.

"Hey you two!" Derrick and Keith hollered.

"We're ready already!" Mike loudly laughed, and then announced, "Hoochie Coochie Man."

Derrick counted out the slow blues shuffle and together the band began playing.

Derrick sang: Gypsy woman told my mother 'fore I was born
Prez sang: You got a boy-child coming, gonna be a son of a gun
Mike sang: Gonna make pretty womens jump and shout
Keith sang: And then the world wanna know what this all about

Kaleo strutted up on stage and really dug into the groove, causing a lot of kids in the audience to hoot and holler. The audience participation only served to encourage Kaleo's dirty dancing. All four band members sang the chorus and their kids started dancing on stage.

But you know I'm here
Everybody knows I'm here
Well, I'm the hoochie coochie man
Everybody knows I'm here

Timmy and Ricky crawled out from behind the curtain. Timmy went directly to his guitar and soon played along. Kaleo began lifting his shirt then lowering it and then lifting it higher before shyly pulling it down again.

Keith sang: I got the black cat bone and I got a mojo tooth
Derrick sang: I got the John the Conqueror Root, gonna mess with you
Prez sang: I'm gonna make you girls lead me by my hand
Mike sang: And then the world will know the hoochie coochie man

All five boys sang the chorus watching the kids dance around and the audience getting more rambunctious. The six landscapers, three adult mothers, two doctors and Mr. T were laughing hysterically at the kids enjoying themselves. In little more than two days, the large group had bonded.

But you know I'm here
Everybody knows I'm here
Well, I'm the hoochie coochie man
Everybody knows I'm here

By this point Kaleo was shirtless and only holding his boardies up with one hand while he tried to entice Tory on stage. Timmy took the first twelve bar solo and did a good job. Then Mike knelt down so Timmy could see and took the next twelve bars, and finally Keith played the final twelve bar solo.

Mike sang: On the seventh hour, on the seventh day
Keith sang: On the seventh month, seven doctors say
Derrick sang: "He was born for good luck, that you'll see"
Prez sang: I got seven hundred dollars; don't you mess with me!

Only three rows back sat Aki and Hajime, Prez noticed. The two newest Rimmers seemed very happy and were sitting amongst other twelve year old boys, Brice, Chiba and Gregory.

All five boys on stage sang the final chorus.

But you know I'm here
Everybody knows I'm here
Well, I'm the hoochie coochie man
Everybody knows I'm here

The song ended to roars of applause and approval. In the front row, the Scooby Gang began chanting; "Shiny Daddy! Platinum Habits!" over and over again.

"That was soooo much fun!" Timmy screamed.

Prez went to Kaleo and smiled, "I can hardly believe you were doin' a strip tease!"

Tying his boardies, Kaleo giggled, "It was mostly for Tory." He then became more serious and softly said, "Ya know, three days ago, Joel rescued me from that orphanage and fat fucker. I thought I'd never want to dance or have sex again. Consensual sex is way different and lots more fun. It's a whole new world for me now. A lot of us feel pretty much the same way, and it's all because of you guys."

"We've not done much," Prez admitted, "We're only giving you guys the chance to be yourselves."

Kaleo smirked, "Don't sell yourself short. A bunch of the tweens were asking us about the dorms. Don't be surprised if you have a much smaller nest tonight."

From the auditorium floor near the edge of the stage, Tory called, "Kaleo?"

Kaleo turned around to find Tory beckoning him with his index finger. Briefly turning back to Prez and bouncing his eyebrows, Kaleo devilishly grinned, "See ya later."

Prez cracked up but noticed Mike on his knees again, silently showing Timmy a guitar part. Keith came over and said, "Derrick wants a workout, baby."

"Which tune?" Prez asked.

"Moby Dick" Keith answered, and then added, "That'll keep Timmy involved and make Derrick happy. Mike and I get to take a break and check out how it sounds around the auditorium." Prez nodded and Keith landed a deep kiss. The kids on stage and in the audience began cheering again, causing Keith and Prez to giggle into their kiss and hold it longer. When Keith stepped back, he waved at the audience, then led most of the kids off stage, leaving only Reyes and Timmy behind. When Timmy was ready, Mike walked off stage too. Then Timmy, Prez and Derrick started playing the song. After the one minute introduction, Timmy and Prez put their instruments down and waited off to stage left. Derrick pulled out all the tricks in his vast repertoire for about ten minutes. Reyes intently watched his dad using first the sticks, then his hands to modify tones of the drums. Sweating under the stage lights, Derrick pulled his shirt off while keeping the beat with the bass drum and hi-hat, wiped his brow, then waved Timmy and Prez back to finish the song.

During the applause, Prez congratulated Timmy, then introduced him to the audience. Noticing Keith and Mike returning, Prez asked, "Let us practice together as a band for a little while, please, Timmy?"

Timmy happily nodded, "Sure!"

"We'll call you back up for another song or two later," Prez said. "Think of any songs you'd like to play."

Noticing that Derrick was shirtless and obviously very warm, Corey dimmed the audience lights a little, then also dimmed some of the stage lights.

Platinum Habits began rehearsing. The first song was Don't Stop Believin' with Keith singing lead vocals. Before playing the second song, Keith played a chord on the keys and all four boys sang it in harmony. Keith then said, "All together now, nice and strong." Derrick counted out the tempo and the boys simultaneously sang "It's In The Way That You Use It, It comes and it goes. It's in the way that you use it, Boy don't you know. And if you lie you will lose it, Feelings will show. So don't you ever abuse it, Don't let it go." After the opening chorus, Mike sang lead vocals during the verses, then all four joined together again for the chorus'.

The next song began with a single organ tone, then Prez and Derrick joined and finally Mike began playing his Stratocaster for Stone Cold. Keith sang lead vocals with Derrick backing him up and Prez and Mike singing harmony vocals. Something's Missing was the next song played, with Mike singing lead vocals. Derrick and Mike began playing Happy Together then Prez and Keith joined in, with Prez singing lead vocals.

Everyone immediately recognized the opening electric piano chords to the Queen classic, You're My Best Friend. Keith sang lead vocals and the band harmonized beautifully. The next song, What You Wish For, also required good harmonies but this time Derrick sang lead vocals. Stone In Love was the next song played, with Keith singing lead vocals once again.

Prez called Timmy back up on stage.

As he hurried up the stairs, Mike asked, "What song did you decide on?"

"In The Evening," Timmy replied.

"Ooo," Mike groaned, "That's got a lot of studio trickery in it."

"I can play it!" Timmy proudly insisted.

"Let's see what we can do," Mike said. He then stepped up to a microphone and asked, "Drew, have ya got a digital flanger up there in your rack?"

Through the stage monitors, Drew hummed then said, "Yep, we got a good one too. What's the tune?"

"Zeppelin's In The Evening," Mike answered.

"Damn!" Keith softly grumbled.

"What's the problem, babe?" Prez wondered.

"I've never tried playing that keyboard part once," Keith responded. "I've sung it dozens of times with the CD, but I'll have to start from scratch."

Mike said, "Come on, Timmy, let's get Keith up to snuff," then started across the stage with Timmy in tow.

"Keith can play this easy!" Timmy said.

Mike nodded, "I'm sure he can too. We just gotta teach him the changes real quick."

Derrick tapped his sub-vocal and called, "Daileass, I need timpani, dude. At least one, preferably two. Put them to my left side, near the hi-hat. While we're at it, get me two gongs; an eighteen inch and a thirty-six inch. Put them behind me, within reach, but leave me a path on my right to get out of here. I'll also need microphones for each hooked up to the P.A. system, so contact Drew and get me whatever he recommends."

"On the way, Derrick," Daileass replied, and then set about completing the task assigned.

While Timmy and the band pulled together the song, out in the audience, about twelve rows back, to the far left of the center seating, an intense but quiet conversation ensued. "Go on up there and introduce yourself," Judy Faris softly insisted.

"Mom, please!" Troy desperately whispered.

Judy sighed, then leaned closer to her son, saying, "They don't know you or anything about you. They're just a group of caring boys that happen to be musicians, just like you."

"They're not like me," Troy nervously croaked. "They're better than me..."

"Oh, I don't know about that," Judy interrupted. "You really need to be more confident and forthright. It's not like you could ever feign arrogance. They're so sweet and well behaved, so much like you. They're even gay..."

"Mom!" Troy groaned and shrunk down in his seat. If only the auditorium lights were completely dimmed, Troy wished, then no one would see the blond highlights in his brown hair or the blush of his fair complexion, fresh from the chilly New Jersey autumn.

"You've really got to get out of your shell," Judy encouraged. "I love you. Your father couldn't cope and caused you to feel out of place. I won't have his legacy hold you back. He's gone now, Troy, no longer a problem for either of us. In my eyes, he failed both of us.

"You're practically the same age, all musicians, all homosexual." Judy stopped there before her son slid off the seat and crawled along the floor under the auditorium seating. "Please, Troy," Judy begged, "Allow yourself the chance to be the musician you want to be. You can help them and they can help you too. One success will lead to so many more successes if you'll only allow it to happen."

"Okay!" Troy impulsively agreed, simply to get his mom off her soapbox. "When they're done, I'll introduce myself." Thankfully, Derrick began hitting the two timpani that had magically appeared on stage. Through the stage monitors, Troy could barely hear another boy's voice instructing Derrick to hit his bass drum too so he could mix the levels. Looking around, Troy could only assume that the voice was coming from a lit booth way up high above the balcony and behind him. The little red-haired boy, Timmy, was with the other band members gathered around the piano rehearsing the sections of the upcoming song.

"Sit up," Judy smiled, "you're going to hurt your neck looking around from so low."

Troy pushed himself up and watched the goings on carefully. Derrick was a very good drummer, but more interesting were the other three older boys on stage. Who was cuter, Troy wondered; the brunette keyboard player or the lighter brown-haired guitarist, or was it the red-haired bass player? His mom had earlier said the red-haired boy was the new Director of this Clan Short Division. The guitarist seemed stockier, but the keyboard player and bassist had nice long legs. The keyboard player had the best voice, in Troy's opinion, but the other three could sing very well too. The guitarist had a nice ass, but the bass player had an incredible bubble butt. If only the keyboard player wasn't sitting at the piano. Troy's eyes rolled and he criticized himself for even thinking of them that way. Now he had a boner that would hopefully deflate before he had to stand and go meet them face-to-face.

A number of rows forward, three boys began giggling and bouncing against each other. All three, the two strawberry blonds and one black-haired boy, turned and smiled at Troy. As Troy attempted to convince himself they weren't really looking at him, the two red-heads stood and hurried up to the stage. The black haired boy walked back and never lost eye contact with Troy.

Squatting down in the aisle beside Troy, the black haired boy devilishly grinned, "I'm Beau, how's it hangin?"

Troy blushed at the question but ignored it and smiled, "I'm Troy. Nice to meet ya, Beau."

"You wanna play on stage with the band?" Beau knowingly asked.

Judy smiled, "He most certainly does!"

Troy glared at his mom, then turned again to Beau, shrugging and balking, "Now's probably not the best time. I haven't even met them yet."

"You will real soon," Beau giggled.

Up on stage, everyone around the piano suddenly cracked up laughing. Prez loudly asked, "What the hell's going on lately? Why am I suddenly the object of everyone's affection?" In the audience, Cory, Sean, Adam and J.J. snickered evilly.

Mike howled, "Direct me! Ple-e-ease direct me soon!" and Prez shoved him. Many more in the audience began giggling.

Jacob and Jamie both leaned back, plainly looking at Prez' ass and giggled, "It is" "a really" "cute butt!"

"Oh no," Troy groaned and again slid down into his seat.

Amidst much laughing and teasing, Keith stood and joked, "I've been saying the very same thing for two years! I gotta meet this dude!"

"Keith?" Prez softly pleaded, "Don't tease or scare him, babe, please?"

"You know I won't," Keith assured, and then paused to add, "He knows this song, according to the double J's. He'll play keys, I'll sing and we're ready to jam."

Beau stood and Troy found himself inexplicably rising in his seat, then standing. "Come on, Troy," Beau smiled. "It's totally kewl. You wanna meet them and they wanna meet you too sooo... what's the problem?"

Not understanding how anyone could've possibly known his thoughts, Troy nervously stammered, "I... they... how... Oh God!"

"Hey, those two boys on stage I was sitting with are both my boyfriends," Beau explained. "It really is kewl." Beau then leaned in close and whispered, "Once they get a look at you, I'll tell you what they really thought."

"Oh Jeez!" Troy giggled. He then inhaled deeply, prepared himself to face the music, as the saying goes, and started to walk down the aisle.

Timmy, Jacob and Jamie hung back by the grand piano and Derrick remained seated on his drum throne, while Keith, Mike and Prez went over to the stage stairs and watched Troy approach with Beau. "They like what they see," Beau softly giggled. "Now they're just hoping you can really play the song." Still blushing slightly, Troy climbed the stairs.

Keith was the first to offer his hand to Troy, saying, "Hey dude, you ready to jam?"

Shaking Keith's hand and then knocking knuckles, Troy admitted, "Zeppelin's one of my favorite bands."

"Finally, a keyboard player with taste!" Mike teased as he knocked knuckles with Troy.

Keith complained to Mike, "I just don't know all the changes, bitch! How about we play some Chick Corea next so I can watch you squirm?"

"No problem, bro," Mike giggled. "I can shred like Di Meola."

"In key?" Keith smirked. Mike playfully cranked up the middle finger of his right hand.

"You guys are really good musicians," Troy smiled at the playful banter, then shook hands with Prez.

Pointing at the stack of electronic keyboards, Prez invited Troy to "Show us your chops, dude."

Giggling at the innuendo, Troy moved behind the keys and adjusted a few settings, then began playing the main themes. Six rows back, Sean Moorhead was mesmerized by the new boy now on stage. Timmy and Mike both joined in for a few short bars. Prez chirped, "Sweet!"

Keith nodded and instructed, "You play the keys Troy, and I'll sing, kewl?"

"No problem, Keith," Troy replied. Soon all the boys had moved into position.

Derrick gave one final instruction, "Drew, add a fairly fast flanger to the timpani, bro."

A few seconds later, Drew said over the stage monitors, "Give it a try."

Derrick played a drum roll and said, "Just a little deeper flange," and continued playing. When it was correct, Derrick said, "Right there, that's good, Drew."

Mike turned around and teased, "So good, a little deeper, right there, like that, yeah!"

"You're very bad," Derrick smirked. "Go to my room immediately."

"Ah jeez," Keith groaned.

Shaking his head sadly, Prez playfully reminded, "We used to get randy after jammin'. Now it's before, during and after!"

Mike snickered, "It started Friday night. Blame Joel."

Derrick shook his head and playfully disagreed, "Bet ya it was the Mikyvis trio."

Keith turned to Troy and smiled, "Lead the way, dude." After about a minute's worth of synthesizer chord swells and Derrick's timpani, Keith held the microphone and sang, "In the e-e-e-e-vening," then Derrick tapped the tempo with his sticks and the whole band joined in.

"When the day is done
I'm looking for a woman, but the girl don't come
So don't let her, Play you for a fool
She don't show no pity baby, ya know she don't make no rules

"Oh, oh, I need your love, I need your love
Oh, I need your love, I just got to have

"So don't you let her, Oh, get under your skin
It's only bad luck and trouble, oh, From the day that you begin
I hear you crying in the darkness, Don't ask nobody's help
Oh, Ain't no pockets full of mercy baby, Cause you can only blame yourself

"Oh, I need your love, Oh, oh, I need your love
Ooo yeah, I need your love, I just got to have

"Oh it's simple, All the pain that you go through
You can turn away from fortune, fortune, fortune, Cause that's all that's left to you
Hey, it's lonely at the bottom, man, it's dizzy at the top
But if you're standing in the middle, Ain't no way you're gonna stop

"Oh, I need your love, Oh, oh, I need your love
Oh, oh, I need your love, I just got to have."

With Derrick's timpani drum accents, Timmy stepped forward and played the first guitar solo while Mike played the rhythm guitar, then the two switched off. Moving forward, Mike played the second solo section and Timmy stepped back, playing the rhythm guitar. Keith brought the band back to the main theme singing, "Oh whatever,

"That your days may bring
No use hiding in a corner, Cause that won't change a thing
If you're dancing in the doldrums, One day soon, it's got to stop, it's got to stop
When you're the master of the off-chance, When you don't expect a lot

"Oh, oh, I need your love, Oh, oh, I need your love
Oh yeah, I need your love, I just got to have, I just got have

Mike and Timmy went back and forth playing with and against each other during the ending solos while Keith improvised vocals here and there. The song ended with sharp sudden chords and an explosion of timpani, tom-toms and bass drum. Most of the audience stood, clapped and cheered loudly, especially Judy Faris and the Orlando Clan kids. Tilting his head uncertainly, Horacio grinned at Sean's enthusiasm. Completely oblivious, Sean clapped longer and louder.

Mike and Prez turned off their amplifiers as did Timmy. Picking up his shirt, Derrick came out from behind his drums and Reyes hugged him firmly. Derrick wrapped an arm around Reyes and went to meet Troy, where Keith was already standing and talking. Soon all the band members were standing around Troy and learning that he could also play recorder, clarinet, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, harmonica and rhythm guitar.

Cory looked over at Jacob and Jamie, asking; "Have they been educated yet?"

Jamie nodded, "Ask them what article thirteen is."

"Better yet, ask in any language you'd like!" Jacob giggled.

Cory then went over to the edge of the stage and called, "Prez?"

Prez answered, "What's up, Cory?"

In Italian, Cory said, "Recitare per me articolo tredici del rifugio sicuro agire in inglese."

Prez said, "Sexual Abuse. All provisions under this article are grounds for immediate removal of said minor children upon presentation of physical evidence, Vulcan Mind Meld Report or Clan Short Telepathic Scan Report. Subsequent or in conjunction with said removal, legal proceedings to revoke parental rights shall commence immediately and without fail."

Keith then recited, "Section 13.1: Use of minor children to provide sexual gratification. Section 13.2: Prostituting own children to provide sexual gratification for self or others."

Mike added, "Section 13.3: Forcing children to perform sexual acts on themselves or siblings or other minor children."

Derrick then said, "Section 13.4: Acquiring and or distributing nude and indecent photos or holographs of nude minor children for financial or other gain."

And Prez finished, "Section 13.5: Forced sex with non sentient species."

"Excellent!" Cory proudly smiled.

Troy innocently asked, "You guys learned that stuff in high school?"

"Umm no," Mike answered, then wondered, "How did we know that stuff?"

Jamie, Jacob, Beau, and Timmy giggled.

From up in the balcony, Kaleo peeked over the edge then hollered, "What happened to the music?"

Prez immediately cracked up. Keith shouted, "Jam time's over, dude. Everybody's leavin'."

Since Prez was almost doubled over laughing, Mike tapped his sub-vocal and said, "Hey Mister see all, what's been goin' on in the balcony?"

"I don't watch and tell!" Daileass giggled.

"Sure, except when it's me!" Mike retorted.

Cory grinned, "I've got one more thing for you guys to do."

"What's that?" Prez and Keith simultaneously asked. They smiled at each other, then reached for each other’s hands.

Cory smiled, "All Core Rimmers are on unconditional stand-down for the next two hours." Prez opened his mouth to object but Cory cut him short, "It's non-negotiable, Prez. Spend time with your partners and with your kids; not a word about Clan business of any type." Cory checked his watch and said, "It's about quarter after three now. See ya around five-fifteen." Cory turned and started up the aisle, following the other hundred-plus kids and adults.

"I have absolutely no problem with that," Derrick said. He then grabbed Mike around the waist and devilishly grinned, "See you dudes later." As he, Mike and Reyes walked down the stage steps, Judy Faris walked up.

Seeing one of the housekeepers approaching, Prez pleasantly said, "Hi Judy. Is there something I can help you with?"

Judy shook her head and happily explained, "You already have, Preston. I'm here to collect my son."

Prez and Keith both did double-takes between Judy and Troy. Finally, Prez turned to Troy and asked, "Why didn't you say anything?"

Troy shrugged, "It wasn't really on topic when I came up here."

Keith then recalled what the double J's had said and playfully hummed.

"Keith, be good," Prez warned. He then faced Troy asking, "Do you have all the instruments you need here?"

Troy replied, "I only have a recorder, clarinet, forty-nine key Casio keyboard and a Yamaha acoustic guitar."

"Daileass," Prez called.

Daileass replied, "You're on stand-down, Prez."

Prez grinned, "It's not Clan business; this is musical."

"Oh!" Daileass said, "Whatchya need?"

"Troy needs instruments to practice," Prez said. "Get him Selmer tenor and baritone saxes, an assortment of reeds for both, an eighty-eight key electric piano, a Taylor twelve-string acoustic guitar, a Fender Stratocaster, a Fender G-DEC Fifteen and a pair of headphones so he can play without waking everyone in the condo." Troy's mouth was hanging open in amazement.

Daileass asked, "Anything else?"

"Lemme check," Prez said. He then asked Troy, "Is there anything else you might need, dude?"

Troy stammered, "I... uh..."

Keith snickered, "Whatever you need, Troy, just let us know."

Troy nodded and Prez said, "That should do it for now, Daileass."

"By the time he gets home, all his toys will be waiting," Daileass confirmed.

"Thanks, dude," Prez said. He then made eye contact with Troy and assured, "Everything's waiting for you at home."

Troy softly said, "I don't know what to say... except thank you."

"You played keyboards well," Prez smiled. "If you play the other instruments as well, we'd love to jam with you."

Keith nodded, "I can think of a dozen tunes off the top of my head that need recorder or sax parts."

Prez said, "Start with the sax solo for Urgent by Foreigner and the recorder and acoustic guitar parts for Stairway To Heaven."

"Come over here tomorrow afternoon with a list of the songs you already know and let’s try 'em out," Keith added.

Judy interjected, "Let me know how much I owe you, Preston."

Prez scowled and shook his head, saying, "It's not necessary. I'm being selfish and jumping on an opportunity to expand our set list."

Judy turned to her son and smiled, "What did I say? Did I say they were sweet?"

Pleased beyond comprehension, Troy couldn't help himself. He blushed and giggled, "And they're really cute too!"

Keith grinned, "Daileass can't get you a boyfriend. You'll have to do that yourself." He then leaned over and checked out Troy's tush, saying, "Shouldn't be a problem." Troy blushed so hard that he broke out in a sweat.

Pulling Keith by the arm, Prez laughed, "You're being bad, babe!" and led him off stage.

"See ya later," Keith giggled. Judy and Troy followed Prez and Keith off the stage.

Waiting in the audience were Drew, Corey, Geoff, Dee and Richie. Picking up Dee and parking the boy up on his shoulders, Keith said, "We've got a whole two hours off. What do you want to do together?"

Drew picked up Geoff and Prez lifted Richie. The three little boys seemed to check with each other for a long few moments. Prez asked, "What's wrong, Richie?"

"Nothin', Poppa," Richie quickly answered.

"I'm Poppa now?" Prez smiled.

Richie nodded and giggled, "Learned it from Timmy and Ricky. If we call both you daddy, then how can ya know which ones of yous we really want?"

Bending down slightly, Dee whispered, "Don't you love Poppa no more, daddy?"

"Of course I do," Keith quickly replied. "We've spent the whole day together and barely any time with you and Richie."

"But you was workin' almost all the time," Geoff sadly groaned.

Richie explained, "Daddies should spend time alone too."

Drew smiled at Geoff and asked, "You three have been planning this?"

All three boys nodded. Richie giggled, "Reyes, Jonah and Dillon too!"

"We got lots o' kids to play with," Dee offered. "We got John and Bruce and Dewi... and Jonah and Dillon... and Timmy and Ricky and... Kakoku and Carmella to play with."

"Okay," Prez smiled, "I'll tell you what? Us daddies will play together for about an hour and then we'll meet you over by the pool. Then daddies can spend time with the boys they love. How does that sound?"

"That sounds great!" Richie cheered.

Keith reminded, "Make sure your Teddies and at least one big kid is by the pool with you."

Dee said, "Put me down, Daddy."

Keith helped Dee down to the floor and groaned, "I think you might already be gaining a little weight there, Dee."

Dee giggled, "I hope so. I'm almost as old as John, but me and Bruce are almost as big."

"Bruce is really a little bit bigger than Dee," Richie softly said.

"Not for long!" Dee joyfully sang. "Soon I'll be picking you up like Daddy and Poppa!"

Richie tightly wrapped himself around Prez and whispered, "I love you, Poppa."

"I really love you too," Prez softly replied and landed a kiss on Richie's cheek.

Soon Geoff and Richie were on the floor. The three boys pushed the heavy auditorium door open, then raced outside. Keith and Drew began flipping the circuit breaker switches off when Corey admitted, "We should've expected that from Geoff after showering with him this morning."

Prez sighed, "They've been confused by some perfect bastards."

Not stopping what he was doing, Drew softly asked, "Did Richie or Dee try to grab for your dick in the shower?"

Keith nodded and said, "We explained that little boys can play with other little boys, but only when they both want to do that. Bigger boys play with other big boys and adult men play with other adult men. They don't ever need to assume that someone wants their dick played with."

"They think that because they love us that that's what they're supposed to do," Prez grumbled. "Swear to God, the first rescue that involves a man fuckin' around with a little boy, I'm gonna aim a phaser on heavy stun right at his crotch!" Keith's head sagged and he began chuckling.

Drew giggled, "Sounds like a good idea to me!"

"It's just so fucked up!" Corey helplessly snickered. He then seriously explained, "Me and Drew started messin' around a little over a year ago and we both wanted to. These boys have been brainwashed."

Drew agreed, "Zap the first horny fucker that messes with little boys, Cor."

"Leave him with a numb dick and numb-nuts!" Keith chuckled.

"I say we expose him to his own kiddie porn and whenever he starts getting excited, stun his pecker again!" Prez smiled.

Finished with the circuit-breakers, Drew complained, "Can we please stop talking about it right now?"

Also finished, Keith closed the circuit-breaker door and snickered, "Slightly counter-productive at this time!" He then swiftly took Prez in his arms and swung him around, kicked open the door and went outside with Prez giggling insanely.

Corey slid in close to Drew and softly asked, "Ya wanna?"

"Course!" Drew chirped as they walked outside. Corey removed the sub-vocal from his ear, then whispered in Drew's ear. Drew blushed, "We can try that too."

"Quick shower first?" Corey suggested.

Drew thoughtfully hummed, then countered, "We could beat Keith and Prez into my parents' bathroom and do everything in the big whirlpool?"

"I have a better idea," Corey giggled. "Tell them but since my mom's busy with the kids, we could use the master bath whirlpool in my house?"

Drew's eyes widened and he rapidly nodded. Then Drew and Corey ran to Keith and Prez, shared the plan and then all four raced home.

As he watched the Rimmers split up to their various homes, Cory smiled and turned to Sean. "Hey, hot stuff, I gotta go tame a tiger. You think you can manage the rest of the zoo?"

Sean giggled. "Like they can be controlled? Go for it, I'll try to keep them from tearing the place apart."

Cory nodded. "Have fun!" He spotted Mrs. Seaver heading towards the pool, and quickly followed her.

Lanna Seaver had the twins, Cesar and Felipe, as well as Carmella and Kokaku with her as she made the turn around the rec center to the pool. Following her and the kids were four Teddy bears. Once she was certain the children were safe, she kicked back on a lounge to relax in the sun.

"Mrs. Seaver, can we talk for a minute?" Cory asked as he pulled over another lounge chair.

"Certainly, Cory," she happily agreed. "I hope Jacob and Jamie didn't misunderstand me during lunch. My son told me that I need to explain things to you as I would an adult so, let me begin by asking you to call me Lanna or Aunt Lanna, whichever you feel more comfortable with."

"Okay, Aunt Lanna." Cory replied with a grin. "I heard about you catching Brant... multiple times. I almost lost my lunch from laughing."

Lanna grinned, "That poor boy! When we met again later that evening, he made sure to keep several arms' lengths away from me! I must admit, there is a method to my madness."

Cory laughed. "You do realize that he's immune to the sun, don't you? If he wasn't, he'd be a pile of ash. That's what usually happens to his species."

"My Corey did say that he was a Vampire," Lanna admitted. "I didn't know that when I saw him Friday afternoon though. I didn't even believe Corey when he told me. But then, during the concert, I saw him with fangs. Beyond being stunned about it, I was saddened because he's so young."

"He was turned in love," Cory replied seriously. "That's not a tattoo on his wrist. It's a band that absorbs into the skin if the two people are in true love when the partner is turned. It's extremely rare that it works, so you can tell just how special his partner was."

She nodded understandingly, then explained, "The reason I'm so concerned about sunburn is quite simple. When Corey was still a baby, my youngest sister, who was only seventeen at the time, developed skin cancer. If I can help one person avoid that horrible disease, I will. To further complicate matters, Corey's my only child, not because I wanted only one but, due to health reasons, I could have only one child. In Brant's case, I was protecting a child and avoiding future skin cancer. I know it was pointless now, but I didn't know that then."

Cory nodded seriously. "I understand what you mean. Unfortunately, in the Double J's case, it's not that simple. They are a lot better than they were when we took them in, but both of them still have a lot of issues that I'm pretty sure they will never totally recover from."

Frowning because she knew so much of the Pacific Rim rescued, Lanna said, "I don't mean to pry, but can I ask how they were harmed?"

"Give me a second, I need to check with Sean to make sure I've got it right." Cory replied. Once Sean had updated his memory over their link, Cory frowned as he started speaking again. "I hate remembering this stuff; I really don't know how Sean can handle remembering it all." He paused before continuing. "Their sperm-donor used to feed them meals that would be illegal in solitary in prison. Basically, they had to let him fondle them, then relieve his urges to get something as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When he started using his fingers to take them to the next stage, they took a chance and ran away. We rescued them when we found them digging in a dumpster for food."

Fuming and becoming emotional, Lanna wiped her eyes. She understood that Jacob and Jamie now feared adults like many of the Pacific Rim rescued had Friday and some still did. Lanna cleared her throat and asked, "Please tell them I am not an abuser in any definition of the word. As a mother, I can only look out for the welfare of my kids or any kids placed in my care. Cesar and Felipe came to my husband and me, and it only took a little bit of kindness on our part to release some of their fears. Jennifer and Jim Hundser experienced the same with Carmella and Kokaku. In every case so far, the children have chosen their newly adopted parents."

Cory nodded. "Thanks. Trust me, if I know those two they knew what you said as you were saying it. Their security lies in knowing everything that is going on around them. In their case, the last thing that they will allow is an adult to order them around until they know the adult really well. I think it's habit more than anything; they developed it as a way to protect themselves and have never let go of it."

"They're telepathic?" Lanna asked.

Cory grinned. "Calling them just telepaths is like saying a Lamborghini is just a car. They were the first humans to be certified as Vulcan Telepath Trainers."

Moving closer to Cory, Lanna whispered, "I think Cesar and Felipe are also telepaths. Last night, Cesar told my husband to go ahead and do some office work that he needed to do. Bill still waited until after they went to bed and told them he was simply preoccupied. Only an hour later, I felt the need to use the bathroom but was waiting until the next commercial, to be with them. Felipe told me to go to the bathroom and I know I wasn't fidgeting. And they're always finishing each other’s sentences. One can't speak without the other adding a tiny bit."

Cory couldn't help but giggle. "Try being around Jamie, Jacob, and Beau when they're in a pranking mood. I've seen them literally make their Pop dizzy enough to fall on the floor by standing around him and talking in a circle!"

Lanna smirked, "I know that most twins have an indefinable link. Can we find out if they're really telepathic or if they're just being twins?"

Before Cory could respond, three naked streaks ran by, screaming "GERONIMO!" as they went airborne and landed in the pool. "Be careful what you ask for!" Cory laughed.

Lanna laughed, "I don't know whether to ask how they knew or to point out how white their rear ends are compared to their backs!"

"Not by choice!" Cory laughed. "As far as how they knew...." Cory paused as he theatrically counted on his fingers, "at last count, I have two Mikyvis, three telepaths, one elf, and my husband – all with permanent links in my head. Sometimes I think they know what I'm thinking before I do!"

"WE DO!" three voices yelled from the pool.

A shiver raced up and down Lanna's spine. "Should I be as concerned as I am?" Lanna worried.

Cory shook his head. "No. They have good reason to be so protective. My memory is not really stable yet, so they all work together to help keep things from throwing my brain for a loop. It's a case of they have so much love that they refuse to let me get hurt mentally ever again... all of them."

"Your memory isn't stable?" Lanna queried, "Were you hit in the head and suffered amnesia?"

"I had traumatic memory loss when my big brother died almost a year and a half ago. On top of that, I've almost died twice in the last month; once from injuries and once from almost mentally collapsing. I don't get a choice; the guys refuse to take the chance of anything ever hurting me again, mentally or otherwise." Cory replied softly.

As he finished, Beau walked up and plopped his naked butt in Cory's lap. "Cuddles. Now. Doctor's orders." Beau stated, his tone daring Cory to argue. He turned his face towards Lanna. "Go ahead, Aunt Lanna; we're gonna sit down with you an' talk after Cor is done."

Cory wrapped his arms around Beau and Lanna brightly smiled. "I've always considered myself lucky, even privileged to have the happy, healthy family I have. Now I look around at all these kids and watch them becoming happier day by day. I'll never forget how they acted Friday and most of Saturday though. A few were orphaned at birth and have never known any adult to be trustworthy. Some were orphaned later in life, some are runaways, but they're all victims.

"Cesar and Felipe are only the first we'll adopt. I can easily see us adopting two more, possibly four more. All they have to do is show interest like the twins did. Anna and Carl Seibert adopted four right off the bat, two boys and two girls. Our situations are slightly different though, inasmuch as Mike and Derrick are older and committed to each other. My Corey and Drew have committed themselves too, but they're younger and will need help with little Geoffrey."

"This morning Jennifer Hundser called me regarding my assisting at Federation Youth Services. I couldn't give her an answer," Lanna sighed. "Jennifer has also called Anna and Laura for the same purpose. The more I think about it, the more I hope Anna or Laura accept. I'm quite happy these last few days watching the kids, although I realize that I can't watch over all of them all of the time. I've been asking myself, where can I do the most good and be happiest?"

Cory grinned. "You sound a lot like Aunt Helen! She got her son back after Aaron talked Mom into overriding a judge who thinks any kid that farts wrong should be locked away until he's eighteen. Within twenty-four hours, her son managed to talk her into taking in two runaways. She spends all day just hanging around to give 'Mom Time' to any kid who needs it, no matter if they are her kid or not. A lot of the guys consider her the 'unofficial' HQ Clan Mom; my Mom is the official one, but Helen is the first one that everyone goes to if Mom is busy."

Lanna hummed thoughtfully.

A few minutes after four that afternoon, Drew and Corey arrived at the pool. Geoff hurried over to his Daddies. By the deeper end of the pool, Gage was swimming and joking with some other boys between seven and ten years old when he noticed Prez and Keith had shown up. Dee, Richie, Carmella and Kokaku all hurried to them. Gage watched the two older boys with great interest and slowly moved away from the others he had been playing with. More kids wandered over to Keith and Prez. The kids wanted to show their leaders some new dives they had learned. Keith and Prez followed all the younger kids over to the diving well. Gage got out of the pool and followed but kept his distance. He listened and learned that Dee and Richie were calling Keith daddy and Prez poppa. Then he heard Kokaku call them big bro. But lots of the kids were calling Keith and Prez bro. After some prompting, Keith then climbed the ladder to the three-meter high diving board. Keith did a twist, then a somersault, then straightened up and hit the water hands first. The dozen or so kids cheered loudly and then some older boys climbed the ladder to try the same dive.

Gage carefully considered what he knew and what he had learned all day at the Ewa Beach compound. All the kids cared about each other. And all the leaders were showing how much they cared too. But Gage's own parents couldn't even manage to show that much interest in anything but booze and drugs. Without even thinking, Gage walked over to the diving well as Keith climbed out.

"Hey, Gage!" Keith smiled. Reaching a wet hand for Gage's shoulder, Keith asked, "How's your first day been?" Gage could only nod but then began to shed tears. Concerned, Keith softly wondered, "What's wrong, dude?"

Gage shrugged and wiped his eyes. "Never seen anything like this," Gage blubbered. Keith glanced at Prez, then led Gage to a nearby garden chair. "Everyone cares, some a lot, some a little bit but everyone cares. Why? Why don't my parents give a shit?"

Keith sat Gage down and softly answered, "You know the answer, Gage; it's the drugs. It's one thing to drink a little once in a while or smoke a joint at night when everything else is done. When that's all you do though, everything else is less interesting. Maybe your folks just need help?"

By this time, Prez, Richie, Dee, Kokau and Carmella had surrounded Gage. Prez said, "We'll give them the opportunity to get that help, if that's what you want, Gage?" Samuel Bay, another boy also rescued from Maui the same time as Gage, saw the gathering and hurried over.

"It don't matter to me," Gage sobbed. "They can bury themselves in cocaine and drown in whiskey for all I care." He then took a deep breath and composed himself a little. "Look at all you guys," Gage grinned. "All these other kids around and I'm the center of attention?"

"For as long as you need it to feel better," Prez answered.

Gage nodded just as Sammy arrived and asked, "What's wrong, pal?"

Gage smirked, "Nothing's wrong now. I jus' now figured out how screwed up my folks are and how much I've missed out on."

Sammy grinned, "Oh! Well, get over your bad self! We're all here together now." Gage giggled, then Sammy looked up at Keith and Prez saying, "This place is awesome! We got so many new friends in one night, like more than any of us ever had before. When a bunch of us showered at the dorm this mornin', we checked out the whole building and a few of the rooms. After lunch, Mr. T led a bunch of us over to the school and even that place is great! Then we went to the theater and you dudes played music for us. We was playin' basketball a while ago until we got too hot, then came here and jumped in the pool."

Gage agreed, "This really is the best place ever. I had the best breakfast and best pizza in my life here. I can't wait for dinner! I don't even know what chicken cordon bleu is, but I know it's gonna be great!"

Keith smiled and asked, "Is that why you came over to me?"

Gage shook his head then explained, "I just wanted to say thanks and ask you some things."

"You're very welcome, Gage," Keith chuckled. "What did you want to ask me?"

"I always really liked music," Gage admitted, and then asked, "Would you teach me how to play piano?"

"Sure, Gage," Keith happily answered. "If you want, we could go over to the dorm and I can give you your first lesson right now."

Gage's eyes widened and he rapidly nodded, then he got up and hugged Keith with all his strength. "I always wanted to play piano, but the druggies always said no," Gage whispered in Keith's ear. "I love you. It don't matter that you're gay cos Prez is great too. Would you..."

Feeling Gage's heart beating rapidly, Keith waited and smiled up at Prez, then whispered to Gage, "Would I what?"

Gage softly stammered, "W-would you... could I... be your son, like Dee and Richie?

"Go ahead and ask Prez," Keith whispered. "If he says yes, I'd love for you to be my son."

"What if he says no?" Gage worried.

Keith whispered, "I want you because you've shown us your heart, Gage. Your parents never saw how compassionate and sincere you are. If you ask Prez just like you asked me, he'll see your heart too and say yes."

Gage pulled back and searched Keith's eyes. Keith smiled and nodded, then Gage went to Prez. Gage beckoned Prez with his index finger and Prez squatted down. Gage hugged Prez and whispered, "Could I be your son? I want you and Keith to be my dads. You already mean more to me than my real parents ever did."

Prez smiled at Keith then whispered, "You get two dads and two brothers too. Is that kewl with you?"

Gage nodded and whispered, "Dee and Richie are really kewl. I jus' never had brothers before."

Prez then confided, "My parents died two years ago. I was an only child too and learned to be a brother to Drew and John. Then Keith and I fell in love."

"I know you're gay and I think the gay dudes I've met here are some of the best people I've ever met," Gage admitted.

Prez thought of asking Gage if he thought he might be gay too but then thought again and realized it didn't matter. He only kissed Gage on the cheek and simply said, "Yes."

"Really?" Gage squealed.

Prez stood and chuckled, "Really." He then pointed over by the pool and said, "That blond dude there is Patriarch Cory Short. He can make it official for us."

Gage nodded and giggled, "Whoosh!" then ran off towards Cory.

Richie looked up at Prez and asked, "Wha's goin on, Poppa?"

"We're getting you and Dee a new brother," Prez smiled.

Dee then put the question to Keith and squeaked, "Gage's gonna be our brother?" Keith only smiled and nodded. Dee and Richie cheered, then ran to each other.

While Dee and Richie spun around happily, Prez noticed Sammy looked a little down and asked, "What's wrong, Sammy?"

Sammy sighed, "I'm just being selfish. It's nothin' really."

Keith scowled, "That's not gonna cut it, Sammy. Aren't you happy for Gage?"

Sammy nodded and explained, "Me and Gage got to be good friends overnight. He wasn't sure if he wanted to be adopted this morning." Sammy stopped short and looked down at the concrete.

Prez directly asked, "And now you feel left out?"

"Do you want a family, Sammy?" Keith also asked.

Never looking up, Sammy softly admitted, "I do feel left out but don't know if I'm ready for another family. The last one was screwed enough."

Prez and Richie went to Sammy. Pulling up the boy's chin, Prez said, "Think about it, Sammy. If you like what you see, if you want brothers, sisters and parents here, all you have to do is choose where you'd like to be. That's the Clan rule; kids gotta want parents as much as parents want kids. If it doesn't work both ways, someone might feel bad."

"All you guys are wanted here," Keith added. "Now all you've gotta figure out is where you're wanted most."

Adam walked up and joined them. "I couldn't help overhearing you. Prez has it exactly right. You wanna hear my take on it?"

Sammy nodded, somewhat in awe that one of the Clan bosses would care enough to get involved.

"I had some pretty screwed up parents too." Adam began. "My mom was a druggie who cared more about her own problems than her own kid. She shipped me off to my father when the drugs finally took their toll. He had married another woman and they had given birth to another kid. Just before I got there, they abandoned the little brother that I was expecting to meet for the first time. They picked me up at the bus station, and things were going pretty good except for them telling me my little stepbrother was dead. I let it slip, kinda on purpose, that I might be gay. The next thing I knew, I was stripped and getting the crap whipped outta me. Little Kyle got a message from Cory and Sean's dead big bro about me; a few minutes later half of the Des Moines Police Department, and all of what was starting to form what would become the Clan, showed up and rescued me. The next thing I knew, I had a boyfriend, my little brother Tyler, two new big brothers named Cory and Sean, and the best Mom in the Universe." Adam paused for a breath, then finished. "Follow your heart; Cory's magic is contagious and you won't go wrong when you are around people he's touched with it."

From over by the pool near Cory, Beau shouted, "Hey doofus! It was Polk County Sheriff, not Des Moines police! Remember Unca John, your father-in-law?"

"Bite me, Mini-Leech! There were a buncha cops there! I didn't stop to read badges!" Adam yelled back.

"No, you were too busy counting J.J.'s freckles! Kyle's told us ALLLLLL about it!" Beau shot back with a giggle.

Adam turned back around, deciding to save his dignity by refusing to reply. "Now where was I?" he asked.

Sammy smiled, "I think I get the idea." He then moved closer to Prez and Richie and said, "I want to be part of your family too."

Prez softly said, "You don't have to rush into anything, Sammy. Are you certain you're ready?"

Sammy nodded, "From the first time I saw you, before you even saw me, I felt something in my belly that I never felt before. When you spoke to us at Maui, I felt it even more. At lunch, I saw you again and felt it again. The same thing happened when you were on stage. I'm not even sure what it is I'm feeling, 'cept I'm happy here and even happier when you and Keith are close by. Three brothers and two fathers works for me. Like Adam said, I can't go wrong."

Keith nodded and grinned, "That feeling in your belly is love. It makes you say and do things without even thinking, like you just did." After glancing at Prez and receiving a confirmation nod, Keith said, "We'd love to have you as our son too."

Richie and Dee surrounded Sammy, then wrapped him in their arms. Gage came running up to the group, loudly saying, "Cory's comin'," but then stopped short and asked, "What's goin' on?"

"We're multiplying," Prez chuckled. "Sammy's going to be your brother too, Gage."

Gage's mouth fell open, then he loudly laughed, "That's awesome!" Swiftly, Gage joined his other three brothers and giggled, "It's perfect!"

Cory walked up with Beau on his shoulders. Prez asked, "Where's your tricorder, Cor?"

Cory pointed up at Beau answering, "He's my tricorder." He then smirked, "I told you guys to stand down for family time."

"We did!" Prez chuckled, "But we fell back up again! During our family time, we doubled the size of our family! Isn't that what you meant?"

"In more ways than one!" Keith helplessly snickered.

"Okay then!" Cory giggled. He then got right down to business and asked, "Gage Lundberg and Samuel Bay, do you want Prez and Keith as your fathers?"

"You bet I do!" Gage cheered.

Sammy added, "Yep, I do."

Cory then asked, "Preston O'Brian and Keith Hundser, do you want Gage and Sammy as your sons?"

Taking Keith's hand, Prez answered, "Always."

"Forever," Keith nodded.

Prez locked eyes with Cory and smiled, "Thanks, Cor."

Cory giggled, "No problem; this is a job I love doin'."

Turning the corner and holding hands, Mike and Derrick appeared with their sons Reyes, Dillon and Jonah. Mike wondered, "What's going on here?"

"We're makin' babies!" Keith joked.

Prez giggled, "We're up to four. What've you guys been doing all this time?"

"What we do best!" Mike joked.

Derrick nudged Mike and grinned, "In the auditorium, we noticed that the Scoobies were scratching themselves like crazy."

Mike nodded, "No more swimming in the pool for our ferrets. Their skin can't take the chlorine." Hearing this, Cory turned slightly and ordered the pool water be changed immediately at all Clan bases.

"Doctor Janet sent us some special shampoo and ointment to help them out," Derrick added.

Reyes laughed, "We got to bathe them again!"

Jonah explained, "They weren't too happy about it at first."

"But now they feels less itchy and way more better," Dillon giggled.

"Where are they now?" Prez wondered.

"Workin' on their Shiny Vault," Mike replied.

"Heaven help Hawaii," Cory softly muttered, shaking his head.

Keith looked at Gage and asked, "Ready for your first piano lesson, son?"

"YEAH!" Gage loudly chuckled.

Prez glanced at Keith and said, "While you’re doing that, I'll take our other three boys over to the townhouses and check them out."

"Good idea," Keith smiled, "We'll be moving there sooner or later. Let's all go together then. I'll want a piano of some sort there."

Derrick and Mike checked with each other, then nodded. Derrick said, "We'll join you."

"Might as well invite Drew and Corey," Prez suggested.

Before the older guys started walking over to the pool area, all the kids raced away and over to Drew, Corey and Geoff. Carmella and Kokaku were nearby and soon all the little kids had joined hands, spinning around Gage and Sammy, welcoming them to the family.

In the pool, Cesar and Felipe were with Jamie and Jacob. None of them were speaking but they were all giggling. Latoya, Christel and Brandi were together, floating on their Teddy Bears. On the other side of the pool, John, Bruce, Dewi and Nathan were with the Evans group practicing telekinesis, lifting and lowering some of the poolside lounges and their occupants. Bruce, Dewi and Nathan were loving the rides but Anna Seibert and Laura Gibbons were not quite as enthusiastic. Mike and Derrick couldn't help laughing at their mothers' nervous expressions.

'This is working out better than I could've ever imagined,' Prez proudly thought. Keith invited Drew and Corey to check out the townhomes. Soon the Rimmer families started walking towards the housing area.

Geoff looked up at Corey and sadly asked, "We gonna move away from ev'rybody Daddy?"

Corey checked with Drew. Drew shook his head and answered, "No, Grandma and Grandpa would probably like us to stay with them for a while."

Keith said, "We're all going to stay together for a while, Geoff. But someday soon, Prez and I will move out with our boys."

"We'll always be close together, Geoff," Prez assured. "Then our boys can have sleepovers with you and other boys. It'll be fun for all of us."

Richie happily squealed, "Yeah, Geoffy. We can come stay with you and you can comes stay with us!"

Corey picked up Geoff and smiled, "We're just going to look because we haven't even seen the inside of those houses. It'll be like a new adventure for all of us."

Gage moved closer to Corey and Geoff. Gage said, "Imagine it, Geoff; we'll only be a short run across the compound. We can all still play together."

Reyes then said, "You know our Grandmas and Grandpas like having us around. Instead of us always nesting at the Hundser's house, we can nest anywhere we want."

Keith leaned closer to Drew and whispered, "Geoff needs a brother so he doesn't feel so alone."

Drew nodded and softly said, "Lenny Cutler was with us up in the sound booth. On his own, Lenny went up there with his Teddy looking for me, Corey and Geoff. Most of the time, Geoff and Lenny were playing with their Teddy's together while we ran the P.A. and lights."

"Make it happen, bro," Keith suggested.

Drew snickered, "Mom's gonna have a fit when she gets home!"

"I know!" Keith laughed, "It's gonna be great! She goes to work and comes home to a few new grandsons!"

Arriving in front of the townhomes, Prez unlocked the North end house while Derrick unlocked the house next door. Prez led his group inside. Derrick and Mike went inside the other townhome with their kids.

Inside the townhomes, both groups found large furnished living rooms. There were sofas, lounge chairs, a flat panel television mounted on the long adjacent wall complete with Bose surround sound systems. Prez walked through to the dining area and then into the galley style kitchen, where he also found a breakfast counter and four stools. Prez could see from the kitchen to the dining room and most of the living room.

In the living room, Keith turned on the fifty inch TV and flipped the channel to VH1 Classic, then turned up the volume. Keith then heard giggling. Lowering the TV volume, Keith glanced around and discovered Richie and Gage were missing. Following the sound of giggling boys, Keith soon found both boys, pissing in the toilet of the lower level half bath, with their boardies at their feet on the floor. "Don't cross the streams! Atoms are flying together at the speed of light!" Gage giggled. Richie cracked up again. Shaking his head but smiling widely, Keith left them to finish their business.

Prez walked up and wrapped his arms around Keith saying, "This is really nice."

Keith nodded, then Richie and Gage hurried past. The boys went upstairs so Keith and Prez followed. At the top of the stairs were three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The master bedroom had a king sized bed and matching furnishings. In one of the two other bedrooms, Prez found Sammy lying on one bed and Dee standing on the other bed. In the other bedroom, Keith saw Richie turning on the smaller television while Gage sat at the desk powering up the laptop computer.

Meeting back outside the two rooms, Prez and Keith held each other close. "Look at our kids," Prez whispered.

"They split up and chose their bedrooms," Keith softly said.

Prez admitted, "I half expected Dee and Richie would be in one room with Gage and Sammy in the other."

Keith then asked, "What do you guys think; could this be our home?"

Four voices loudly cheered, "YEAH!"

"We lost Drew, Corey and Geoff," Keith noticed.

Richie said, "Geoffy don't like us splitting up."

"Well, we'll have to show him that we're only a short sprint away then," Prez suggested. All four boys raced past Keith and Prez, then hurried down stairs.

While Prez chuckled at the boys, Keith tapped his sub-vocal and called "Daileass?"

"What's up, Keith?" Daileass answered.

"This townhouse we're in will be ours, so we'll need a few things," Keith said. Prez went in the bedroom to turn off the TV. The laptop PC was in the middle of a Windows installation so Prez left it running.

"You'll have six things in that house!" Daileass giggled.

Keith shook his head and looked up for the nearest security camera, chuckling, "You really need a boyfriend!"

"He's already got me!" Draco interjected.

Keith snickered, "We'll need two pianos in this place, an upright in the living room and a Fender Rhodes in the bedroom Gage was in."

"Don't forget a little amp for the Rhodes, Daileass," Prez added.

Prez and Keith started walking down stairs and noticed a Yamaha upright piano, across from the bottom steps, between the living room and dining room. Keith smiled, "Thanks, Daileass. I'll give Gage his first lesson right here."

"You're welcome, Keith," Daileass giggled. "Good luck with Gage."

Keith replied, "Thanks, dude." He then asked Prez, "Send Gage in for a quickie piano lesson please, baby."

Prez nodded, "He'll be right in. We'll meet you back over by the pool."

"We'll be there in twenty or thirty minutes," Keith assured.

Prez walked outside to find everybody surrounding Geoff and Drew. All the kids were trying to assure Geoff that they would all still see each other every day and they could even have sleep-overs. Prez saw that Geoff still wasn't all too happy. Prez sent Gage inside, then sat down on the step and waited for a chance to interject. Soon everyone saw him sitting there and stopped talking. Prez asked, "Can I see you for a minute please, Geoff?"

Geoff nodded, "'Kay, Unca Prez," and Drew put the boy down. Geoff went to Prez and Prez sat the boy on his lap.

Prez whispered, "It's just the change that's scaring you, isn't it?" Geoff nodded and Prez asked, "Guess what you just did?"

Geoff shrugged and asked, "What?"

"You made a change from Daddy to me, all by yourself."

"I did?"

"Uh huh. That's a change. And guess what? All these boys and their daddies love you and don't want you feeling sad." Geoff blushed, nodded and grinned slightly. "You can show them that you can make changes too. Ya wanna know how?"

"How?" Geoff asked.

"Run over to Uncle Mike and give him a hug, then go to Uncle Derrick and hug him. Go to each of the boys and give them hugs. Every time you go from person to person, you're making a change."

"Yeah?"

Prez nodded and grinned, "Show 'em, Geoff," then helped the boy off his lap and watched as Geoff went around to Mike, Derrick, Reyes, Dillon, Jonah, Richie, Dee, Sammy, Corey and finally back to Drew.

"That's my big guy!" Drew proudly cheered.

Corey smiled and nodded at Prez, then turned to Geoff and suggested, "To show you how close we'll all be, let's walk back to the houses and then over to the pool."

Cutting across the grass, the group then took the path between the two northern most dorms and the C.I.C., then were back at the Hundsers' house. The whole trip took about five minutes at a leisurely pace. It only took another few minutes to walk between the four homes and wind up back at the pool house. Mike, Derrick, Prez, Reyes, Sammy and Dee decided to use the diving well and split off to the left. Drew, Corey, Richie, Geoff and Jonah went to the right and directly into the pool.

John was still practicing telekinesis, lifting Anna Seibert and flying her about six feet above the pool when he saw Drew and Corey jump in with the boys. Without even trying or focusing too much, John got an image in his mind of Drew and Corey naked together in a frothy whirlpool. John then scanned deeper to learn exactly what his big bro had done. Mrs. Seibert and her lounge chair stopped cruising and slowly began to lower nearer to the pool. Seeing an image of Drew licking and gently nibbling Corey's lily white ass set John off giggling. He didn't even hear Mrs. Seibert, Drew, Corey or anyone else calling his name, but simply laughed at the memories of Rimmers rimming in his mind. Kids in the pool under Mrs. Seibert scurried away just before the lounge chair and older woman splashed into the pool.

Wondering why John's powers had failed, Jason and Nath Evans and Nathan Hayes got the full picture and cracked up laughing. All four boys were rolling hysterically, then Viccy, Riti, Jamie, Jacob and Beau joined in. Drew and Corey began trying to figure out what John and the others found so funny. Mrs. Seibert waded out of the pool to John and impatiently huffed, "You were doing so well! What happened?"

Barely catching his breath, John offered an apology.

"A momentary distraction," Nathan Hayes giggled.

"Now I have to get changed," Anna Seibert grumbled, and swished off to her house.

Corey and Drew had suspicions and got out of the pool, then went directly to John. Seeing them coming but unable to do anything other than stand up and back away, John laughed even harder.

Drew challenged, "What's so funny, bro?"

"You're making us paranoid!" Corey threatened.

John gasped, "Clean whirlpool Rimmers!" then took off running. Corey and Drew gave chase, cutting across the soccer field, then the walkway between the dorms and townhouses, then towards the Hundser home.

Jennifer Hundser stepped out of her house just as John raced to the front door. John hid behind his mother. "Whoa!" Jennifer hollered as Drew and Corey approached. "What's going on?" Jennifer loudly wondered.

Drew and Corey were speechless. What could they say, after all? They couldn't tell her that John was an N-Gen. They also couldn't divulge what they had done together. John remained safely behind his mom, snickering evilly.

On the lawn outside his home, Jim Hundser appeared with his two security guards and shouted, "Is this the way we set an example?"

"Dad," Drew whined, "John's being a brat!"

Corey added, "He was kinda spying on us!"

"Kinda spying on you?" Jim queried. "Excuse me but how does one kinda spy? Either he was or he wasn't?"

Jennifer turned and simultaneously pulled John before her. "Were you spying, John?"

Knowing he could still get in trouble, John grinned, "Well... umm... it was an accident. Besides, they weren't exactly keeping it private either."

Drew squinted at John. Clearly reading Drew's thoughts, John heard, "You still have to sleep sometime, somewhere, bro!"

Corey didn't keep his threat silent or private though. "You have to tell your folks what happened today. You know Derrick's mom is going to say something about being dumped in the pool."

"What?" Jennifer shrieked.

"That was an accident too!" John quickly and loudly assured. "She knows it and I did apologize!"

Keith walked up with Gage and saw there was something not right. Since he had no idea what was going on, he simply said, "Hi mom, hi dad." Both Hundser adults said hello, then Keith said, "We have a few things to talk about. It's been another busy day."

Jim sighed loud and long. Jennifer nodded, "Family meeting time," then turned and entered the house with John.

Following Drew, Corey and his dad inside with Gage, Keith tapped his comm-badge and called, "Prez?"

It took a few moments for Prez to reply because he was naked at the diving well. As everyone got comfortable in the living room, Prez answered, "Yeah babe, what's up?"

"Mom and Dad are home now," Keith explained. "It's time to fill them in on today's trivia."

"Is Gage with you?" Prez asked.

"Yep," Keith grinned. "Bring all our kids and Geoff too."

Prez replied, "Okay, we'll be there in a few minutes."

"Okay baby," Keith replied. There were a few moments uncomfortable silence before Keith scratched his head and grinned, "Okay, our guests from Orlando showed up this morning. Derek Tecumseh, the Clan Short educational adviser was first. He's going to help us get good teachers staffed here. While we're on that topic, we did go to band class today. We got our transcripts and the teacher had no problem with the security guys at all."

Jim glanced at Jennifer and nodded, "So far so good."

Keith then explained, "After Derek Tecumseh, we got another seven visitors from Orlando. Their names are Jacob, Jamie, Beau, Jason, another Nathan, Viccy and Riti. They're all really nice and have shared a lot of the knowledge we need already."

"That was very quick," Jennifer commented.

"You have no idea!" Keith giggled. John, Drew, Corey and Gage all began snickering. While his parents looked around the room, Keith smiled, "Just so you know, we call Derek Tecumseh, Mister T. and Jacob and Jamie are... how shall I say... playful? We call them the Double J's but really, they're only part of the set of Terrible Triplets, which includes Beau."

Jennifer turned to Jim and said, "I'm already getting nervous."

In perfect German, Keith then asked, "Sprechen Sie kein Deutsch?" (Do you speak any German?)

"Ein bisschen," Jim Hundser responded. (A little bit.)

Keith then asked, "Was würdest du sagen, wenn jeder hier nun sprechen konnte Deutsch, Französisch, Italienisch, Spanisch, Russisch, Japanisch und mehr?" (What would you say if everyone here could now speak German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and more?)

Jim grinned, "I'd say I only got the first section of that! But I heard half a dozen languages named."

Jennifer asked, "Pouvez-vous parler français?" (Can you speak French?)

Keith nodded, "Je peux parler français facilement. Jamie, Jacob et Beau sont télépathes puissant. Nous allons leur faire partager ces connaissances avec tous les parents bientôt. Ils pourraient même prendre sur eux-mêmes, comme ils ont fait plus tôt aujourd'hui." (I can speak French easily. Jamie, Jacob and Beau are powerful telepaths. We'll have them share that knowledge with all the parents soon. They might even take it upon themselves, like they did earlier today.)

Prez walked inside the house after Richie, Dee and Sammy but had only heard part of Keith's statement.

Jennifer smiled proudly, "Vous parlez français mieux que moi!" (You speak French better than I do!)

Prez grinned, "Je vois que vous avez couvert la première partie de la matinée, babe." (I see you've covered the first part of the morning, babe.)

So his parents wouldn't understand, Keith replied in Portugese. "Eu lhes disse que ia para a escola também, mas não disse uma palavra sobre ter que sair mais cedo ou porquê. " (I told them we went to school too, but didn't say a word about having to leave early or why.)

In Spanish, John asked, "¿Por qué no les dices de mí?" (Why won't you tell them about me?)

Keith answered, "En un minuto, Juan! Vamos a tener esto un poco a la vez!" (In a minute, John! Let's take this a little bit at a time!)

John grumbled, "Voy a ir a buscar un poco de café, entonces!" (I'm gonna go get them some coffee then!) John then got up from the sofa and went to the kitchen.

Shocked beyond words, Jim and Jennifer sat back in their chairs.

"After we learned the languages, Cory and Sean Short arrived," Keith explained.

Prez added, "They brought Adam Short and J.J. Richardson along with them. They're all really nice guys, you'll like them."

"There's a little something you probably need to know about Riti," Keith told his parents. Then he turned to Prez and asked, "How should I say this?"

Prez shrugged, "There's really only one way to say it. Reet's an alien; he's partially humanoid, with arms and legs but he's got some bird-like features like wings and Owl eyes that can move independently."

Keith nodded and watched his parents carefully as he explained, "Reet took Bruce for a short flight around the Island." Jennifer groaned and Jim closed his eyes. Since his parents hadn't run for the front door, the liquor cabinet or medicine chest, Keith softly said, "Then John went with Reet for a ride... to Hawaii. While they were gone, John and Reet rescued a little Welsh boy named Dewi."

Prez quickly added, "He's only four and was being horribly abused by his parents."

Drew added, "The kid's been brainwashed into believing that he's always bad. Doctor Weiner had a brief chat with him already."

"He needs real parents most," Keith said.

Prez nodded, "We could take him but he needs to know a mother that won't beat or sexually abuse him."

Keith explained, "We'll see who he latches onto over the next few days, but for now, he trusts John and Bruce most."

"Which leads us to the next topic," Prez smiled. He stood and gestured for Gage and Sammy to also stand. "Mom, Dad," Prez began, "I'd like you to meet two of the boys we rescued from Maui last night." Prez wrapped his arms around both boys saying, "On my right is Gage Lundberg and on my left is Samuel Bay."

Keith rose with Dee and Richie then said, "They both decided that they wanted parents and brothers. Specifically, they chose us, so we've adopted them."

Richie giggled, "They're really kewl too!"

Dee nodded and smiled, "Then Daddy and Poppa took us over to the townhouses. We got a place all picked out! When the little kids are readier, we'll move into that place as a family."

Richie said, "Daddy's teachin' Gage to play piano!"

"Well, that is good news!" Jim chuckled. "Welcome to the family, Gage and Samuel."

"Call me Sam or Sammy, okay?"

Jim nodded and grinned, "Sam it is then."

Gage offered, "Me and Sammy got to be really good friends last night. Now we each got three brothers and two great fathers."

"I can see how happy you all are," Jennifer smiled. "You even look like a family."

John walked into the dining room from the kitchen telekinetically carrying two cups of hot coffee for his parents.

Seeing him before he entered the living room, Drew, Prez and Keith all hollered, "No, John!"

John giggled, "Why not?"

"Everything's going really good!" Drew said. "Don't ruin it!"

"You guys never let me have any fun," John softly complained. He set the two cups down on the table, then picked them up with his hands and slowly carried them into the living room. John put the cups down on an end table between his parents.

Keith then began to explain, "You've both already figured out John's empathic?" Lifting their cups, the two Hundser adults nodded.

Prez then said, "We've learned that John's special on a level you probably didn't already know."

"John was identified as a next generation human, or N-Gen for short," Keith said. "It's basically the evolution of the species."

"We had a choice to make and the four of us talked about it with Jason," Prez carefully informed his parents. "See, making the transition isn't easy. It could've hurt John..."

"Or even killed him," Drew finished.

"I didn't want it to hurt," John said. "And I sure didn't want to die." John paused and scanned his parents. They were slightly nervous, so John explained, "The Terrible Triplets and the Evans kids helped me so it didn't hurt and I won't die." John then spun around and smiled, "Ya wanna help me out, Richie?"

Richie nodded and giggled, "Just don't drop me, 'kay?"

Keith quickly told his parents, "Put your coffee cups down, please." John spun around again and watched his parents place the cups back on the end table.

Turning back to Richie, John lifted his nephew about two feet off the floor while his parents watched. John was barely using any effort at all, though, so he stepped back and lifted the coffee table too. Powering up, John's eyes shone azure blue as Drew also lifted up from the sofa. While two people and the coffee table hovered, John turned around so his parents could see his eyes. "Don't be scared," John pleaded with his parents. "I'm really fine. Now I can see images in my mind too. I wasn't spying on Corey and Drew. They were with Geoff in the pool and I just kinda saw what they had done alone together. I didn't mean to see it at first; it just happened. That's how I accidentally dropped Mrs. Seibert in the pool. I was practicing T.K. when I got too busy watching Corey and Drew. I still have a lot to learn but I can feel that you're nervous. As time goes on and I practice more, I'll get more control. Then I won't accidentally see stuff I shouldn't or drop people in pools." John set Drew down on the sofa, then lowered the coffee table and then Richie. His eyes returned to their normal brown color and he said, "See? It's so kewl. I can help Prez and the whole Clan even more now."

Eying her youngest son, Jennifer fretted, "Are you really okay?"

John giggled, "I feel great mom, honest."

Jim looked at his other three sons and admonished, "I wish you had warned us."

Keith explained, "We knew John was N-Gen Saturday, but didn't find out that him turning could be so dangerous until today."

Prez sighed, "I'm Director and ultimately responsible for over a hundred kids and adults." He then softly asked, "Should I have called you both at work for this?"

Before his parents could answer, Keith took Prez by the hand and reminded, "You're not the only one responsible, Prez. I've got your back, baby."

"It's just like before the Clan," Drew chimed in. "We're together in this; Joel made us all leaders of this Clan. Now Prez wants to delegate authority too."

Jim took a sip of his coffee and thought before saying, "Should we have been notified? In this case I believe the answer would be yes, but I'm also asking myself what purpose knowing might've served."

Looking at his parents and eldest brothers, John asked, "What's gonna happen if we have a real rescue while you're at work? Do you want Prez to call you every time something happens?" Pointing at his brothers, John then huffed, "They all talked about the turning without including me. I was the last one to find out! As usual, my brothers protected me until I had a fit about it! It was my choice. You all treat me like a baby still! Stop it!" Beginning to shed tears, John shouted, "Before I even turned N-Gen, I helped Reet find and rescue Dewi. You wanna baby someone? Baby Dewi! His parents were sadists! His father was slapping him around! His mother was tugging on his nuts! And Dewi still don't know how bad that really was! He thinks that because he got seasick he deserved it! While Keith and Prez were at school, me and Drew took Dewi to both doctors. It didn't take Prez or any major decision; we just did it cos Dewi needed it."

When John paused, Jennifer reached for his hand and smiled, "You've always been the youngest. We wanted to protect you from the harsh realities of the world as long as possible. We know it needs to change. Now you've got two little brothers and a little sister that you'll want to protect too."

John frowned, "Make it three little brothers, please?"

Jim chuckled, "We should at least meet Dewi first!"

Prez reminded, "It's up to Dewi, bro. He can latch onto whomever he wants."

Keith nodded, "Since his real mom was such a perv, we already figured that Dewi needs a mom, not two dads. It don't take a degree to figure that out!"

"Can I make a suggestion?" Drew offered. Everyone nodded so Drew said, "They're serving chicken cordon bleu and rice pilaf at the C.I.C. tonight."

Keith chuckled, "Good one, bro! Always thinking with your stomach!"

Drew cackled, "What? Mom and Dad already worked all day! Why cook another dinner?"

Prez nodded, "It’s actually a good idea. Let's all sit together, though; grandparents, parents and our kids. We can show all the other kids what a family is like."

"Minus the hissy fits!" Corey giggled.

Pulling Corey back against him, Drew teased, "How can it be family time without the occasional hissy fit?"

Bruce, Carmella, Dewi and Kokaku walked in the house. Carmella hurried to Jim squealing, "Hi daddy!"

Jim picked her up and sat her on his lap asking, "How's my princess today?"

"Good," Carmella smiled. "We was playin' at the pool an' the band played after lunch. We has pizza!"

John then introduced Dewi to his parents. Jim and Jennifer both said hello, but then Jennifer dramatically wondered, "Why am I sitting here alone?"

"We's is big boys," Dewi answered.

John corrected, "You're never too big for a hug," then went around the boys to his mom where he gave a hug and got one. Bruce followed John, then Kokaku took a turn. Finally, Dewi moved forward.

While Dewi became acquainted with the family, Prez moved out of the room to the entryway. Richie dutifully shadowed his pop. Tapping his comm-badge, Prez called Mike. "Where are you, bud?"

"At the pool still," Mike answered.

Taking a seat on the stairs and parking Richie on his lap, Prez asked, "Is your dad home yet?"

"Haven't seen him yet," Mike replied. "He's probably getting changed out of his uniform though."

Prez shared the plan. "Let's get all our families together for dinner over at the C.I.C.." He then asked, "Are Cory and Sean Short nearby?"

"Yep, only a few yards away."

"Let's lead by example and make it happen, dude," Prez instructed. "We'll meet you at the dining hall in a few minutes." Prez then heard various kids cheering and grinned, "I hear a few hungry kids."

"Can't say that I blame them," Mike chuckled. "Oh shit! The dinner bell has rung! There they go! Last one to the dining hall misses out!"

Prez then tapped his sub-vocal and said, "Daileass, where's Judy and Troy Faris?"

"Troy's in his condo practicing," Daileass replied. "Judy's on her way up in the elevator."

"Patch me into the Faris condo, please?"

"Go ahead, Prez," Daileass said.

"Hey, Troy?" Prez called.

"JESUS CHRIST!" Troy nervously hollered. Prez cracked up. More softly, Troy wondered, "How in the hell?"

"Speakers and microphones in the ceiling," Prez breathlessly snickered.

Troy nervously huffed, "You startled the piss out o' me, Prez."

"Sorry about that," Prez giggled.

Troy asked, "What did you need?"

"All our families are meeting at the C.I.C. dining hall," Prez explained. "I'd like you and your mom there too. She should be walking in any time now, so don't let her make dinner."

"Oh my God!" Troy gasped, "She just walked in!"

Prez chuckled, "Well, turn her around! We'll meet you in the dining hall, okay dude?"

Somewhat embarrassed because he was shirtless and had been vividly daydreaming about the band while practicing, Troy stammered, "Uh... okay... but... can you see me too, Prez?"

"Not at the moment," Prez honestly answered.

Packing up his saxophone, Troy giggled, "Oh, okay. See ya in few minutes."

"Kewl bud, see ya." Prez lifted Richie then went back into the living room. Kokaku was proudly wearing his dad's necktie; it hung from the boy's neck to his knees.

In moments, everyone was walking out of the house and over to the C.I.C. Although Prez had pictured sitting down to dinner with Keith and their boys, Dee, Gage, Richie and Sammy had decided to sit with Reyes, Jonah, Dillon and Geoff. Prez, Keith, Mike, Derrick, Kaleo, Tory, Drew and Corey sat together. Judy and Troy Faris chose a table close to the eldest Core Rimmers and were joined by Benjamin Hatcher, Sean Moorhead, Horacio Sulin and Roy Angulo. On the other side of the Core Rimmers sat Cory, Sean, Adam, J.J., Timmy and Ricky. At another table were John, Bruce, Nathan Hayes, Dewi, Kokaku, Cesar and Felipe. The next table over had Brandi, Carmella, Christel, Latoya and Lindsay, who were joined by Renee Carlos. The parents took the seventh table.

After dinner conversations began with J.J. and Rob Gibbons. The idea was discussed to have Rob remain part of Honolulu Police, but on detached duty as a liaison between the Clan and the Police. Rob would pursue that option the very next day and, with luck, would be back on base by lunch time. J.J. suggested talking to Fred White and Jack Watson, the former Indiana policemen working as Clan liaison out of Orlando, and using J.J.'s stepfather Commander John Martin, the Southeast U.S. head of Starfleet Security, and his bosses Starfleet Captain Barney Drumm and Admiral Juan Garcia-Lopez, if the Police Department gave him any difficulty about the proposal. Rob thanked him and noted down the names and numbers to call.

Kayla York was transported from Orlando to the dining hall to begin the organization of Pacific Rim Federation Youth Services. She glanced around; Cory grinned and pointed her at the parents' table. She walked over and introduced herself. "Hi, I'm Kayla York, Teri Short's number-two person. Teri sends her apologies, but her boys come first, and she's... tied up dealing with Joel right now."

Jim Hundser took the lead on introducing the eight parents.

"I recognize that expression," Kayla chuckled. "It was only about two months ago that Robin and I were wearing it. I call it Clan shock.

"You're probably wondering what Federation Youth Services does," she went on. "The answer is something like the one to where an eight hundred pound gorilla sits: anywhere it wants to." Everyone's eyes went involuntarily to the security gorillas, which appeared to be engaged in an animated discussion of something using coconuts and bananas as symbols to move around. "We typically underwrite the costs of things that kids need, like converting the old Naval Hospital in Charleston to a state-of-the-art pediatric facility, or enabling an older brother to afford a house for his younger siblings when he becomes their guardian. We cut red tape to make sure kids get the care and happy home they need. And we are the umbrella agency for professional services, like the two doctors that Austin and Dan approved to start up your operation here. But most importantly, we make sure every kid has fathers and mothers they love and who love them."

Lanna Seaver was the first to chime in. "After considering my options most of the day, I believe I would serve best as a house mother of sorts. Cory Short mentioned someone named Helen."

Jennifer Hundser then said, "Keith already forewarned me that Preston would like me to lead Federation Youth Services. I have a Masters degree in sociology and a Bachelors degree in psychology. After John was born, I took a job working for Hawaii Medical Center West. I've been employed there for nine years."

Kayla smiled. "Teri and I already discussed that; with a little help from the Terrible Trio." She gestured over at Jamie, Jacob, and Beau. "We think you would be the perfect person for the job. Any idea who would be a good office manager or assistant director for you? Somebody well organized, not afraid to throw his or her weight around when it's needed?"

"That would be me," Anna Seibert smiled. "I've been driving school buses for five years and dealing with kids. Before that, I was an office secretary for seven years."

"That makes sense," Kayla replied. "You've got the two doctors, and they'll probably need additional staff, so make sure they know they're authorized to hire people. Any other roles you need filled that occur to you right now, Jennifer?"

"Preston has already had ads placed in local papers for nurses and receptionists," Jennifer answered. Turning to her husband, Jennifer grinned, "The only other position we'd need to fill is for a legal department."

"You belong to the Hawaii National Bar, right?" Kayla asked. Jim nodded. "Good, you are now head of F.Y.S. Legal Services, based out of here." She called over to the twins. "Boys! Mind dump, please; legal information, including the Safe Haven Act and Clan Charter for Mr. and Mrs. Hundser and Mrs. Seibert." Jacob gave her a thumb-up gesture.

Jamie giggled, "Once we get the updated data, we'll get it dumped."

Bill Seaver said, "I've been a bank manager for eleven years. It's been a lackluster career; all I do is accounting and paper pushing."

Jim thought aloud, "That has some legal ramifications. Would you be interested in assisting the legal department, Bill?"

"It sounds like a winner to me!" Bill smiled.

"Oh, Jacob!" Kayla called out again.

"Got it covered already!" Beau giggled. "Honestly, old people!"

"I'll show you 'old,' you little scamp," Kayla laughed. Then she pulled out a communicator. "Crystal?" she said into it.

"Yeah, mom?"

"Finish off that paperwork I've got loaded. Jennifer Hundser accepted becoming F.Y.S. Director. Fill in Anna Seibert for her Deputy, James Hundser for Legal, and William Seaver as his assistant."

"Will do, mom. Send it to Prez's terminal?"

"That works; it's networked to the one in P.R.D. C.I.C.," Kayla said.

A few tables over, Cory and Sean Short were having a discussion with Mike and Derrick regarding upgrading Reyes' software and firmware. Austin Short was transported from Orlando to the Ewa Beach dining hall to meet Reyes and discuss how the upgrades would be done. Reyes only cared about keeping his memories. Once Reyes, Derrick and Mike felt comfortable, they went into the Command Center with Austin, Cory and Sean to accomplish the deed.

When Mike, Derrick, Cory, Sean, Austin and Reyes went into the Command Center, Troy moved over by Keith and Prez to begin a serious music conversation. Troy had a few ideas for additional songs Platinum Habits could learn and cover. During the course of the discussion, Prez and Keith learned that Troy could not only play various instruments, he could also read music and had more than a basic understanding of music theory. Troy had never attempted to write any music, but he did have a notebook of lyric ideas.

Nearby, John was using the leftovers to build an armada of marching baby carrots. Jason Evans noticed the marching vegetables and 'fired' a baby carrot 'missile' from his table to John's, knocking down a row of carrot 'troops' and thus beginning the first Baby Carrot Battle. After only a minute or two, Cory Short came out of the Command Center and went to Prez.

"There's a bunch of kids to be picked up at your base on Hawaii," Cory told Prez.

Prez sighed, then asked Cory, "Now's as good a time as any to delegate, don't you think?"

"It's your call, Prez," Cory shrugged. "If it were me, I'd include John and Nathan Hayes for Intel division inspection."

Prez said, "Okay," then turned to Kaleo saying, "You're in charge, dude. Take Drew, Corey, John and Nathan with you." Launched baby carrots fell to the floor before Prez even finished speaking.

Kaleo apprehensively asked, "What do I do?"

"Introduce yourself to Starfleet security first," Prez replied. "Ask the kids about their situations and tell them a little about this base. Make them feel like their lives are about to improve. When you return, get them fed and orientated. If anyone's hurt, like Sonia's twisted ankle, get Doc Andrews to have a look. Just common sense stuff."

Keith reminded, "Make sure you've got your Starfleet ID's."

"We've always got them, bro," Drew assured.

Kaleo gave Tory a quick kiss, then said, "I'll be back soon." John and Nathan were already waiting when Kaleo, Drew and Corey stood. Tapping his sub-vocal, Kaleo called, "Daileass?"

Daileass replied into the ears of the five man team, "Transport to Hawaii when you say go, Kaleo."

"Let's go," Kaleo chirped. Then all five disappeared from the dining hall.

The team appeared inside the Hawaii base a few yards from the security station. As a Lieutenant stepped outside, all five held up their Starfleet ID's. "Good evening, gentlemen. I'm Lieutenant Roger Blair."

Kaleo smiled, "Nice to meet you, Lieutenant. My name's Kaleo Palakiko. With me are Drew and John Hundser, Corey Seaver and Nathan Hayes."

Lieutenant Blair asked, "Where is Director O'Brian?"

"We were just finishing up dinner," Kaleo explained. "We also have guests from Orlando, including Patriarch Cory Short."

Nodding, Lieutenant Blair said, "We've gathered ten youth today," he then waved at the other security guard. One by one, a group of kids came out of the shack.

John scowled then whispered to Nathan. Nathan softly giggled, "Why are you whispering?" then transmitted, 'Logan is hearing everything I am.'

Drew and Corey began greeting the kids and asking them their names. Included in the group of boys were Bill Devine, Nicholas Shavers, Roger Mosqueda, Jeff Cummings, Stephen Marr, Jerry Burk, John Huth, Manuel Simonton, Jonathan Dupre and James Hahn. John and Nathan had taken immediate interest in Bill Devine, the tallest of the group.

John and Nathan transmitted messages back and forth. As Nathan went to Lieutenant Blair, Kaleo innocently asked John, "What's the problem?"

John shook his head and transmitted to Kaleo, "This one's not like the others. He's been planted by the Fundamentalist Church of Christ. Nathan called him a mole."

Lieutenant Blair drew his phaser and waved for the Ensign in the station to come outside. With his weapon drawn, the Ensign hurried outside. "Put your hands on your head and step away from the others, Mister Devine," Lieutenant Blair strongly ordered.

Bill Devine looked around nervously at the two armed men and shouted, "What? What did I do?"

Lieutenant Blair yelled, "MOVE AWAY FROM THE CHILDREN NOW!"

As Bill Devine took his first step away from the other kids and put his hands on his head, Kaleo lost his temper and shouted, "You stupid son of a bitch! You wouldn't know a good thing if it was right in front of your face, would you? Didn't Jesus say 'love one another as I loved you'? But that's not good enough for you and your so called church!" Never loosing eye contact with the boy, Kaleo loudly said, "Lieutenant Blair, as leader of this team and acting on behalf of Director O'Brian, I want this asshole arrested. Subject him to mind scans, find out where he came from. If there are any of those F.C.C. jack-offs within the Pacific Rim jurisdiction, arrest them all on charges of conspiracy against Clan Short of Vulcan."

"Aye Sir," Lieutenant Blair responded.

Bill Devine grinned, "We'll get you; all of you fucking fags will die."

That was all Nathan needed to hear. Logan appeared beside Nathan and John.

Kaleo held off and, with all his strength and weight, landed a fist on Bill Devine's jaw. Staggering backwards, Bill then took two steps toward Kaleo but was hit by two phaser blasts and crumbled to the pavement. Kaleo started shaking his sore right hand and complained, "Mother fucking assholes don't even know we're around for all abused and abandoned kids." Noticing the shocked expressions of the other nine kids, Kaleo calmed down and explained, "I'm sorry; I wish you guys hadn't witnessed that. I was rescued by the Clan Friday and my life has never been so good. Clan Short doesn't care if you're gay or straight. We're here for any abandoned or abused kid."

Logan conferred with Lieutenant Blair while Kaleo continued greeting the kids. "Lieutenant, I'll take this worthless sack of shit to Utah. In no time, I'll have locations of any F.C.C. congregations this guy knows of. When we get more of the scum in shackles, we'll find out where any more of them might be hiding. They stirred up shit last week. I intend to feed it right back to them." Drew, Corey, John and Nathan all assured the Lieutenant that Kaleo would agree with the plan. Logan then moved over to the unconscious Bill Devine and they both disappeared.

Kaleo began talking with each of the boys. Nicholas Shavers was thirteen and his parents hated him because he was gay and in a relationship with Roger Mosqueda. Jeff Cummings was twelve and his father was an alcoholic child abuser. Stephen Marr was eleven and his mother barely provided him with enough food. She knew that she couldn't provide for him and dropped him off at the gate. Jerry Burk, John Huth and Manuel Simonton were also eleven. Jonathan Dupre was ten and ran away from his foster parents. James Hahn was nine and only saw his parents when they needed to bitch about how everything wrong with them was all his fault.

"We're going to our main base on O'ahu in Ewa Beach," Kaleo explained. "All you guys will have warm beds and plenty to eat from now on. We've also got pools, indoor and outdoor rec centers, basketball courts and a huge auditorium. Four of our leaders have their own band and perform for us often. Stephen, you're the only one with a suitcase, but all of you will have clothes and anything else you might need by the time you're ready for bed tonight." He paused and asked, "Any questions?"

Jonathan said, "I ain't eaten since this morning. How long till we can eat?"

Kaleo grinned, "About two minutes," then tapped his sub-vocal and said, "Daileass, fourteen to transport directly to the Ewa Beach chow hall."

"Your will be done, Mouth Rimmer," Daileass giggled.

Rolling his eyes, Kaleo snickered from Hawaii to the Ewa Beach kitchen. Almost all the kids exclaimed joyfully at their first transporter trip, then went for trays and got in line. Putting his suitcase down, Stephen Marr was the last to join the line. Kaleo also noticed the boy wasn't much taller than the nine-year-old boy beside him. Tapping his comm-badge, Kaleo called, "Doc Andrews to the C.I.C. dining room, please."

Doc Andrews responded, "Is there a problem, Kaleo?"

Stepping away so the boy wouldn't overhear, Kaleo said, "I think so, Doc. We just picked up an eleven year old that's obviously malnourished."

"On my way," the Doctor replied. Kaleo started to walk towards the dining room to find Prez, but Doctor Andrews stopped him and asked, "Which boy, Kaleo?"

Turning around, Kaleo pointed and softly said, "The one in the green and blue striped polo shirt that looks like a tent."

Doc Andrews nodded, "Yep, I could've guessed," then went into the kitchen and began scanning the boy with his tricorder.

Sitting with Keith, Cory and Sean Short, Prez noticed Kaleo approaching and smiled, "How'd it go, Fist Rimmer?"

"Fist Rimmer?" Kaleo giggled, still rubbing his sore right hand with his left hand. "Guess you heard already."

As Kaleo sat down, Prez nodded, "Daileass patched us in to hear the blow-by-blow as it was happening." Prez then chuckled, "It's a good thing you went."

"If Prez, Mike and Derrick were there, the dude would probably need surgery instead of an ice pack on his chin," Keith snickered.

Prez warmly smiled, "You were great, Kaleo. I couldn't be prouder."

Cory added, "The F.C.C. is on the run now. Prez has confirmed your orders and so have I."

"Where's my brothers?" Keith asked.

Kaleo answered, "Last I saw, showing the newbies through the chow line." Seeing Drew leading the pack into the dining room, Kaleo pointed.

Nathan hurried to the table and skidded to a halt between Cory and Prez. Nathan giggled, "John's getting really good. He felt something was wrong as soon as we arrived. Then he began light scans as the kids walked out of the security station. He zeroed in on Bill Devine before I did!"

Keith groaned, "Oh God!" and Prez cracked up. Keith smirked, "He's going to be impossible to live with." No sooner did Keith finish speaking, he was promptly beaned by a baby carrot. Keith huffed, "We need to move out, baby, soon!" and then swatted another incoming carrot out of the air.

Prez giggled, "First we need to contact the King." He then asked Cory, "Would you like to listen in, Cory?"

A few tables away, Mr. T and Kayla York both hollered, "NO!"

Kayla added, "It's only seven-thirty here but it's one-thirty Eastern Time. You need to go to bed to be ready for another day."

Cory scowled, "Guess we need to be on our way. The Double J's and Beau need a vacation so, if it's okay with you, they're staying here."

"I see no problem with that," Prez smiled. "We've got plenty of space."

Cory snickered, "Send them back to Orlando if they get to be too much for you." Suddenly, several dozen baby carrots were launched across the dining room that Cory began swatting away.

Sean laughed as two carrots came around from behind Cory and nailed him in both ears at the same time. "Now that is what I call a food fight!"

"Just wait, Babe! Since the adults seem to want to ruin the fun, I guess we'd better get home," Cory pouted, and he deflected a carrot trying to climb up his nose.

Keith and Prez stood, then shook hands with Cory and Sean. Prez said, "Stop by any chance ya get, guys. The Funny Farm's always open."

As Mr. T, Kayla, Austin, Timmy, Ricky, Adam and J.J. approached, Cory smiled, "You guys come to Orlando next time."

"We'll show you a real Funny Farm!" Sean giggled.

Cory tapped his comm-badge. "Hey, Nanonuts, are you ready to take us home?"

Daileass laughed, "Any time you're ready, Micromind!"

Everyone waved and the Orlando Clan vanished.

Prez turned to Keith, saying, "Mike and Derrick are still in the Command Center with Reyes."

Keith nodded, "Let's see what's going on."

Prez suggested, "Then we'll call the King." The couple walked across the dining room and into the Command Center. Stopping short inside the room, they found Mike, Derrick, Dillon and Jonah surrounding Reyes, cuddling and hugging him. Concerned, Prez frowned and asked, "Are you guys all right?"

"Definitely," Reyes smiled.

Mike explained, "Reboot caused a rush of old memories."

Derrick grinned, "Reyes is thirteen going on fifty-seven."

"Jeez," Keith softly said, "You're older than any of our parents. No wonder the memories were overwhelming."

"It's great!" Dillon cheered, "He's our big bro now and always will be!"

Prez explained, "I need to call the King before it gets any later. Can I do it here or should I go home?"

Derrick asked, "Do you need us around, Prez?"

Shaking his head, Prez said, "Reyes takes priority. Family always takes priority."

"We'll take our kids over to the pool then," Mike suggested.

Derrick remembered, "The Scoobies probably need another ointment treatment anyhow."

As the family walked by, Adam's voice came over the speakers in the Command Center. "Commander Casey to Director O'Brian," Prez immediately hurried over to the terminal and nodded to Paulie, bringing Adam up on the main screen.

Noting the tone in Adam's voice, Prez knew it was a business call and asked, "What can I do for you, Commander?"

Adam stated, "I just wanted to let you know that we will be running multiple operations on your islands during the next several hours. This is because of the information obtained from the mole that your Intel team was able to discover. Basically, what is happening is this; the Mole was able to give us the information we need to execute several operations to take down a growing group of sleeper cells run by a rogue faction of the F.C.C. in the Republic of Hawaii. Last week, we were not able to capture any of the F.C.C. members alive, so we have never been able to get any information. That is about to change."

Prez almost shivered at the feral grin that came across Adam's face as he spoke. He was about to say something when someone rushed into the picture behind Adam and handed him a rifle and then a gun belt. Adam turned for a moment to that the soldier, then turned back to Prez.

Prez took a deep breath and softly said, "What do you need from us, Adam? You can have any of my troops that you need."

Adam gave a half smirk. "That won't be necessary. All of the troops you have were not there for the battle on Saturday. The troops I will be using for this... most of them were there, and now it's time for them to get some payback."

Prez nodded, "Okay, if you need anything from us, just let us know."

"Well, two things," Adam said, "first, if you or any of your team want to be involved, just let me know and I will assign some extra security for those operations. Second, you will probably be getting some more kids from this. At least the ones that do not need debriefing."

Prez shook his head. "We haven't had phaser training yet; I think we'll stay out of this one. You guys are the military; we'll let you take care of it. As for the kids, we'll be ready for whatever you need."

"Sounds good, Prez, and thanks. Casey out."

"Oh joy," Keith sarcastically commented. "It wasn't bad enough to have greedy bastards in our government, now we have religious zealots too?"

"Not for very long," Prez sighed. Placing a hand gently on Paulie Casey's shoulder, Prez asked, "Get me King Aalona, please, bud."

"Before the list of topics grows anymore," Keith added.

"Placing the call now, Prez," Paulie reported. After a few moments, Paulie said, "This is Clan Short Pacific Rim Division headquarters. I have Director Preston O'Brian here to talk with His Majesty. Yes, I'll hold."

"Busy man," Keith softly said as he pulled a chair over and sat down.

Also taking a seat, Prez nodded, "He's got a shit load on his hands. I have to wonder if he's going to dissolve Parliament and take over or just oversee everything."

"Either way, he needs all the help he can get."

"We'll offer to help by eliminating C.P.S. and national orphanages. If he accepts, that's one burden lifted."

After another few moments, Keith sighed, "While we're waiting, I'll contact Peter Lambert for the additional condos at our other bases."

Prez nodded and smiled, "Thanks, babe." Keith then rolled across the room in the chair.

Paulie then repeated, "This is Clan Short Pacific Rim Division headquarters. I have Director Preston O'Brian here to talk with His Majesty." After a pause, Paulie said, "We've already been on hold." Paulie whined, "Okay, but this is important. Yeah, I'll hold." Paulie pressed mute and turned to Prez saying, "I think we're getting the Royal run-around here, boss. The second guy didn't even know we were on hold."

Prez nodded and said, "He's had a lot dumped on his shoulders, but if another person acts ignorant, get Daileass to find us a direct line."

Paulie smiled then remarked, "The music sucks."

Prez giggled, "Hawaiian?"

"No, far worse," Paulie grimaced, "ultra-light elevator music. They're probably expecting people to fall asleep while on hold."

"I hate that!" Prez snickered. He then slid forward and pulled up an Internet search on the King. Prez learned that King Aalona was working with Vulcan diplomats; The Republic of Hawaii had asked for and been granted the status of a Vulcan Facilitated Territory. The King was fashioning his new government after the United Kingdom's and Japan's Monarchies. Elections would be held to replace the Prime Minister, but the Parliament would report to the King. Any laws or policies instituted by Parliament on behalf of the People would have to be approved first by The Monarchy.

After about thirty minutes on hold and two more switches by Paulie, Prez had finished reading and Keith had completed his message to Peter Lambert. Paulie shook his head and sighed. Prez complained, "I haven't even met or talked with nine new kids." He then growled, "Daileass! Find me a direct video line to King Aalona. If he's not taking a shit, in the shower, or in bed with the Queen, find him and notify me when he's available."

Over the loudspeakers, Daileass replied, "Workin' on it, Prez. I have your Clan robes. You'll need them for this meeting, now that you're officially Clan." Before Prez, a pile of folded black clothing appeared on the desk. Standing up, Keith and Prez put on their robes. On the left breast area was the Clan Short Emblem.

Looking down at himself, Keith smiled, "Pretty nice."

Prez nodded agreement, then grinned, "My only issue would be wearing black in the bright Hawaiian sun during the summer. Not that we ever get terribly hot here but black absorbs heat."

Keith smirked, "Beats the hell out of talking to the King in boardies and T-shirts."

Prez and Keith sat back down. Only about a minute later, Daileass said, "Found him on a conference call with other heads of State, Prez. He did not know that you've been waiting and is wrapping up. Paulie can hang up. I'll connect you."

"Thanks, dude," Prez said. "Forewarn us before connecting. If Joel bowed to him, we probably should show our respect similarly."

"Got it," Daileass replied.

Keith said, "Joel's a prince, Prez. What should we do?"

Prez thought for a moment then said, "Let's start on the right foot or, more to the point, on one knee with our heads lowered." Keith nodded in agreement.

Only moments later, Daileass said, "The King is ready, Prez."

Keith and Prez got on one knee and lowered their heads slightly then Prez said, "Connect us, Daileass."

The screen flickered and King Aalona appeared on screen, saying, "Director O'Brian, rise and be seated, please."

"Good evening Your Majesty," Prez smiled up at the screen. Prez and Keith then returned to their chairs.

King Aalona said, "I apologize for the lack of communication within my Palace. In the future, Clan Short is to be treated with the same courtesies as any other head of State."

Prez nodded, "Thank you, Your Majesty. I called for several reasons. First, to introduce myself and my partner, Keith Hundser. Keith is second in command of our Division."

Keith said, "Hello Your Majesty."

The King greeted Keith, then Prez said, "I just read that as of this morning, Hawaii is becoming a Vulcan territory. There are other thoughts I had that may be of interest to you, Sire."

The King nodded but seemed distracted when he said, "Pardon me for a moment, please?" The King then looked beyond the screen and to his left slightly, forcefully saying, "I am in conference now, Aidrian! Do not interrupt us again!" Paulie quickly covered his mouth, then kicked himself and his chair across the room as he began snickering. The King then sighed, "My apologies, gentlemen. Even my staff are uncertain how they should proceed."

Prez nodded and grinned, "I know that feeling too well, Majesty. A few days ago I was a high school student. Now I find myself responsible for many lives."

The King nodded understandingly and smiled, "What are your thoughts, Director O'Brian?"

Prez replied, "Majesty, I found no news articles on the topic of Hawaiian Child Protection Services. Since that is where Clan Short discovered injustices, I thought perhaps Clan Short could take over that function within The Republic of Hawaii. Patriarch Cory Short was here today and he agreed that we could perform that function with only minimal additional funding. Specifically, in addition to the percentage of Gross Domestic Product already paid, the portion of our social services budget allocated to C.P.S. and the orphanages would be sufficient."

King Aalona nodded, then asked, "Director O'Brian, how many children were rescued Friday?"

"Eighty-seven, Majesty."

"Have additional children been rescued?"

"Yes Sire; an additional eighteen."

"How many are you prepared to feed and shelter?"

"Our five bases can provide for a total of two thousand, but we are still staffing the other four bases. Additional facilities can be provided so that we could double that if need be."

The King said, "My desire is to clean up the seedier areas of Honolulu. There are far too many children prostitutes on the streets." Prez nodded and the King asked, "Would you be willing to join me in a televised announcement to accomplish that task?"

"Yes Sire, of course," Prez replied.

The King then turned slightly to his assistant and said, "Prepare for an immediate transmission to all Hawaiian television and radio stations, Aidrian." Keith, Paulie and the other boys in the Command Center began scurrying around to get all the televisions turned on. Daileass was ready to record the upcoming announcement. Returning his attention to Prez, the King said, "While that is being accomplished, have you any other ideas?"

"Yes Sire, I did want to mention the sixth Clan Short base. It's on O'ahu. The peninsula previously occupied by the United States Marine Corps is being occupied by the Clan Short's military division known as The UNIT. It will be a worldwide rapid response force not under my direct control. The UNIT's commander reports only to Patriarch Cory Short. There was an incident earlier this evening that I feel you need to be aware of as well."

"An incident?"

"Yes Sire, a boy from the Fundamentalist Church of Christ had attempted to infiltrate our base. As you are aware, the same organization was responsible for an attack on Clan Short, in the United States last week. Sixty-one of our troops were killed. The F.C.C. mole has been interrogated, and operations are in effect to find the responsible parties and hold them accountable." Prez paused to gather his thoughts, then continued, "Sire, Clan Short is at war. While we firmly believe people have the right to choose their religion and personal beliefs, no one has the right to enforce those beliefs on others in a militant fashion."

King Aalona nodded, "I strongly agree. Only a few weeks ago an R.O.H. abortion clinic was attacked via a letter bomb. Ten innocents were killed and more than twenty injured."

A voice off screen was heard saying, "All television and radio stations are prepared for your announcement, Majesty."

"Very well," King Aalona said. "Are you prepared, Director O'Brian?"

Prez asked, "Our primary purpose is to rescue the young prostitutes?"

"Yes. I will not make any mention of your military operations."

Prez turned to Paulie and said, "Notify Doctor Andrews so he's prepared for possible incoming tonight. Also notify Kekoa and Starfleet Security, so they're aware of possible repercussions."

Returning his attention to the screen, Prez said, "I'll wait for your introduction before saying a word, Sire."

The King nodded and smiled, "You are a very capable young man. We are both new to this but we will do what must be done."

Seconds later, the television in the Command Center showed the King but had the sound turned all the way down. King Aalona said, "Aloha. Good evening citizens of The Republic of Hawaii. This evening I was contacted by Clan Short Pacific Rim Division Director Preston O'Brian. After a very productive conversation with Director O'Brian, I have two announcements. Effective immediately, all R.O.H. branches of Child Protection Services are closed. All future needs for Child Protection are to be directed to Clan Short Pacific Rim Division Headquarters. Employees of Child Protection Services are also directed to report to Clan Short Pacific Rim Division headquarters for possible re-employment.

"My second announcement concerns cleaning up the streets of our cities. There are far too many young prostitutes on the streets. I am certain that many do not wish to be prostitutes but are working to survive in very difficult times. If you are among the many that do not wish to sell your bodies, I urge you, I beg you, to find your way to the nearest Clan Short base. At this time, I would like to introduce you to Clan Short Pacific Rim Division's Director, Preston O'Brian."

The television screen split in half with the King on the right and Prez on the left. "Thank you, Your Majesty," Prez smiled. "Clan Short exists for the benefit of abandoned and abused children. We value family but not at the expense of our children. If you are abused or abandoned, you are welcome in the Clan. Federation Youth Services will work with children and families for everyone's mutual benefit, but emotional and physical abuse of children must not be allowed to continue in our society."

Prez paused for a moment, then spoke from his heart. "I am an orphan that was adopted by a caring family. I've always known I was lucky, but these last few days have proven to me how fortunate I am. My own parents never beat me or emotionally abused me. My adopted parents have never abused me either. Under no circumstances should a child be beat or abused into submission. It's been proven over and over again that violence begets violence. There are other alternatives. If you are an abused or abandoned child; if you are walking the streets trying to earn money to survive; if you are a pregnant teen shunned by your family, then come to us for help. We can help and will help you. If you are a doctor or lawyer, or housekeeper or landscaper, or teacher or chef that has a deep caring for children but are having trouble finding employment, come to us for help. Don't continue down the rough and rocky road alone. Clan Short is part of your community and we can help."

Prez then smiled, "Thank you for your time and thank you, Your Majesty."

King Aalona said, "Director O'Brian and I share the same dreams and goals for a better world; one filled with caring and hope for the future; a world where we all help one another; where separations are eliminated. We will begin working on the future progress of mankind here and now with our Island Nation. It may take a life time, but we will succeed with your help. Aloha."

A second or two later, normal television programming resumed. The King said, "Thank you for calling, Director O'Brian. I have high hopes that we've made an impact this evening."

Prez nodded, "Me too, Sire. We've accomplished much more than I could've hoped for."

The King then said, "I have decided that the uninhabited Island of Kaho'olawe shall henceforth be granted to Clan Short Pacific Rim Division."

Prez's and Keith's jaws dropped. Prez stammered, "Y-you are very generous, Sire."

"If ever we can help each other again, please call me," The King sincerely said.

"Thank you, Your Majesty," Prez smiled. "Have a good night."

"I will sleep better tonight. Good night."

The screen went blank and the speaker clicked indicating the connection was broken. Keith and all the boys in the Command Center erupted with applause, cheers and laughter.

Blushing fiercely, Prez loudly giggled, "Hey! Might I remind everyone that the shit is about to hit the fan?"

Springing out of his chair, Keith howled, "You got that right! It's only a matter of time before we're inundated with more kids! And tomorrow morning the gates will be crowded with professionals of every sort!"

While the laughter subsided, Prez stood and said, "Call me if you need anything, Paulie."

"Yes Sir!" Paulie giggled, knowing the response he would get.

Prez spun around and shouted, "'Scuse me?"

"What?" Paulie giggled, "You just proved yourself by taking the political bull by the horns!"

Shaking his head but smiling widely, Prez huffed impatiently.

Keith slid over and wrapped his arms around Prez. Keith whispered, "Speaking of horns."

Prez whimpered and Keith chuckled as he led his lover out of the Command Center. As soon as the door opened, they were overwhelmed by more applause and cheering from the adults and kids still in the dining room. The adults were closest and therefore loudest but further away, John was firing baby carrots up towards the high ceiling that exploded into carrot confetti.


Editor’s Notes:

Man, can you believe all this!!! The chapter started and ended with saving kids! The PRD of the Clan is now Official by announcement of Cory Short, they have been recognized by the King, and found an F.C.C. mole trying to get into their operation all in a day!!!

John going N-Gen? OMG, are his big brothers in trouble now!! He is so gonna prank 'em it is not even funny! But, he has already come in handy. Oh, and what about Riti!! What a cool alien he is. Remember, this story is one of many that are about Clan Short, so go find out what this is all about! Cory and Sean started this and their story is told in Memories! Gotta read that to find out the real deal on the Clan!

I am really proud of Prez and the gang for helping out the King and taking over the C.P.S. to help out all of the kids and the King being concerned about all the child prostitution going on. I think after that television and radio announcement, the Rimmers are about to find out what busy really is!! Life has just been rebooted for them! Oh, man, speaking of rebooted, I just wonder what they have in store for Reyes. He just got an upgrade, I wonder what his real story is and what they did for him! So much more to find out.

On a more personal note:

I think it is kind of humbling that we really don’t have a world and a Clan like Clan Short that does try to help the children in the way that they are. I do know that more and more people are becoming aware of the situation but still, makes me sit back and wonder "what can I or should I be doing?"

There are a lot of things going on in our world that are good and helpful and kind though, so if you are reading this and need help consider what is going on around you. Go to YouTube and find "It Gets Better." It is real life inspiration for those of you who are being picked on and or abused. If you are in New York City, find this place. It is one of Cindi Lauper's project and it is called the "True Colors House." This is the first place that Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and troubled teens can go for shelter and help. So, in the real world, we do give a Damn about you.

Your friendly neighborhood editing pup!

Boxerdude