Timothy was offered custody of Jimmy. Jimmy blamed Timothy for their grandfather being arrested, but eventually understood that Timothy had nothing to do with the arrest.
The Robinson Family Reunion had officially begun but wouldn't be in full swing until around the thirteenth, after certain relatives had arrived. Kyle and Danny did take time to schedule a visit with Corey and Gordy. Kyle asked Gordy to make Randy's lasagna for the last day of the reunion.
Orientation for the Fall Academy classes was on the fifth. They asked all the cadets to register by the fourth. Some relationships already started blooming amongst the cadets.
The Admirals discussed the future of Commodore David Bowman. Will he be able to stay on the Sooloo with his husband? There are a few willing to give a trial period but believe Dave should transfer to Earth.
Kash Rivers got over Kenny in a hurry… unexpectedly, but a relationship with Mason Brooks bubbled quickly. But then, what can you expect when a Brooks runs into a Rivers.
Cooper faced his Civil trial. At the suggestion of his lawyer, he pled guilty, but wasn't happy about it. He faces the Space Fleet trial in about two weeks.
Jace started noticing that his Darastixian Telepathy had kicked in. He accidentally read Jordan's thoughts about loving him. It was on his sixteenth birthday.
The Sooloo was enroute to a planet completely covered with water, when they started receiving a strange message. They couldn't make out what was being said, if anything, but it sounded like it might be a cry for help. Captain Tietokone altered course to investigate from where the beacon was originating.
Miranda Buckner sat on her couch and stared at her packed suitcase which was standing at the front door. "I can still back out, right?" she asked her husband, Bill Buckner
"I think we've been through this a couple dozen times, sweetheart," Bill responded. "Maybe you should just spin a wheel of fortune and abide by whatever it decides."
"But Bill, William hasn't aged since I last saw him. And he is going to see me as an old woman." Having her husband and former husband having the same name was a complicating factor. As soon as she had heard of the discovery of William Robinson and his crew, she immediately decided to call her current husband Bill and her former husband William. After all, she been calling William Buckner, Bill, since they had started dating.
Bill sat next to his wife, placed his left arm around her shoulder, and hugged her tightly. "Honey, I have a feeling he's going to see exactly what I see—a beautiful woman with a wise continence and a young heart. He is going to see the woman I love and the woman he loved…no…make that the woman he still loves. You have nothing to worry about. You are a strong woman who married a man who became a starship captain, gave birth to and raised a boy who became a starship admiral, and are the grandmother to a boy who his senior officer in the vaunted Space Fleet Explorer Program."
Miranda placed her head against her husband's shoulder. "Not to mention the woman who married an important diplomat."
"I wouldn't quite classify being the World Government consul to six Mexican Pacific states as being an important diplomat," Bill chuckled.
"Well, it is to the North American citizens who need you, and it certainly is important to me."
"Which brings us back to the question of whether or not you plan on accompanying the important diplomat to Vegas where you will be able to meet with your family and reacquaint yourself with that young buck who your former husband is. Your stance on the issue seems to change hourly and since today is departure day, that arrow is going to have to stop spinning."
"I have been kind of a wishy-washy old bitch, haven't I?"
"You said it, I didn't. But like I keep trying to tell you, if he can't see the lady who is beautiful on so many ways from the inside out and is still the lady he married so many years ago, who is still the lady who spent so many years waiting for him to return, and who, even after he was declared legally dead was reluctant to marry again, even after meeting an important diplomat, well then he doesn't deserve to have you as his ex-wife."
"Oh my, the important diplomat is still the master orator. Okay, this wishy-washy bitch act is something new for me; at least I hope it is."
Bill gave Miranda a kiss. "It was, indeed, a new act. Your regular act is that of a strong, decisive woman," Bill stated after breaking the kiss.
"Then, this strong, decisive woman says let's go meet the returning hero and see if we can be friends." Miranda looked at her husband and grinned. "Unless you plan on having a fit of jealousy."
"Hardly. Other than your past you two have nothing in common. I'll be happy for both of you if you can meet and resume a long-time friendship. I doubt that romance will be in the offing."
"I agree." Miranda rose from the couch. "Now, how about we place our suitcases out on the veranda since I believe our government car is supposed to be here in fifteen minutes."
"And the regular diplomatic flight leaves in an hour and a half with two very important people on board."
"I love you, Bill Buckner, you wonderful man."
"And I love you, Miranda Buckner, you beautiful woman. Now, let's go have us an adventure."
As Miranda wheeled her suitcase out onto veranda, she realized that for the first time since she had learned her former husband had been found, she was not afraid of meeting him.
The Sooloo approached an unusual planet. It seemed to be calling to the ship. "Only life signs I am detecting, Captain, are vegetation," Commander Aiden Marlin-Douglass declared.
"Something is calling from the planet. Any technology down there?"
"None, Sir. And there aren't any signs that any other lifeforms had even been on the planet before."
"Jordan, take an away team down to investigate."
Jordan tapped his comm, "Commander Kohl, Crewman Landers, meet me in the Shuttle Bay."
Crewman Eric Evans Landers was a thirteen-year-old Security Officer. This would be his first away mission. Commander Tom Kohl is the Chief Science Officer.
The trio rode down in the Leonardo to investigate the planet but returned to the ship almost immediately. Commander Rivers was unconscious, and Crewman Landers was dead.
"Jordan has been poisoned, and I don't have an antidote," Dr. Tom stated. "I can put him in stasis while I try to create one, but it would be faster if we took him to Earth."
"What the hell happened down there?" Hal demanded.
Tom Kohl looked as though he were on the verge of tears. He related the occurrences...
We had just landed, and I performed an initial scan. I looked at Jordan and stated, "It is as if this planet were alive, Sir." The rocks started moving around us. A vine grabbed hold of Landers and Jordan used his laser pistol to free him. Another vine grabbed Jordan, so I freed him and got both back into the shuttle. The plants tried grabbing the shuttle, but I managed to pull free. Landers died just before we landed in the Shuttle Bay. The signal we picked up was created by the planet, it was a lure and then it tried to kill us. It's not a lifeform like we would expect, but that planet IS a lifeform, and a dangerous one.
After Tom finished, Hal asked, "Recommendations?"
Tom Kohl shook his head, "It would be wrong to destroy it, I mean it IS a lifeform, maybe the only one of its kind. I got the feeling it was luring us here to feed. What I would recommend is three space buoys forming a triangle around the planet warning other ships to steer clear."
"I concur, make it so," Hal ordered. Then he tapped his comm, "Will, set a course for Earth, maximum speed. I need to let Space Fleet Medical know what happened and to be prepared."
Jace came running into the Medical Bay, "Where's Jordan?"
"I just put him in stasis. We are heading to Earth, and I will do everything I can to save him," Dr. Tom assured.
"Can I see him really quick?" Jace requested.
Tom shook his head, "I'm sorry, but I don't know how much longer he has, and we may need every bit of that time to save him. I can't pull him out of stasis until we are ready to cure him."
Jace started to cry, "I understand." He headed to the classrooms so he could talk to the twins.
"Commodore, I just received word that you are heading to Earth. Is everything alright?" Dave relayed what had happened and the reason for the trip. "I hope Jordan makes a full recovery. You have my full support, and please, keep me informed."
"I will, Bill," Dave replied. "Was that the purpose of your call?"
"No, I heard the news when I asked my Aide to put me through to the ship. We are switching from a patch to a metal insignia. Here is what we are currently putting on new Explorer Program cadets,"
Bill Mirah informed Dave. "Despite Cooper's best efforts, the Explorer league is here to stay, and we thought we would commemorate with the new insignia. The patch will still go on the sleeve of jackets in the cold weather gear; however, it has been changed to resemble the insignia."
"When does the new insignia go into effect?" Dave inquired.
Mirah smiled, "As soon as your Operations Department can produce enough for the entire crew. As long as entire ship changes at the same time, they needn't wait for the other ships."
"Damn, I knew Steve was good, but…" Dave held up one of the insignias that Steve already created. "In about an hour he expects to have enough made. He said it has a tracking booster built in to assist in finding crewmembers who might get lost."
"How did he know?" Bill was shocked, "We just decided on the insignia about six hours ago, and yes, we designed the tracking booster for that reason."
"I don't know how Steve does it, he's just that good," Dave chuckled.
Mirah surmised, "We do have the information on the system for Operations to get, he must be diligent about checking it from time to time. That being the case, I wish every ship had a Steve. From what I've read in reports, the Sooloo is always the first to implement changes to the uniform. Heck, some of your reports claim you've made the change a few hours before we let any ship know."
Jace had spoken briefly with Ali and explained what had happened, so Ali asked the twins to step out into the hall with Jace. "Boys, Daddy has been hurt really bad. Dr. Tom had to put him into stasis, so we can't see him for the time being."
"Is he going to die?" Jonas asked.
Jace shook his head, "I don't think so. Dr. Tom said that he will do everything he can to be sure that doesn't happen."
"Can we go see him?" asked Jason.
"I wish we could, but he's in like a drawer. You can sit outside the drawer and talk to him. I don't know if he will be able to hear you or not, but if talking to him makes you feel better, it can't hurt."
Hal walked onto the Bridge and looked at his control panel. "Ensign Crusoe, I gave the order to get to Earth as fast as possible. Why are we doing HF 10 instead of HF 11?"
"Sir, if we did HF 11, we could only use it for six hours before having to drop to impulse for several hours. At HF10, we can maintain the speed the whole way, making this distance in quicker time."
"Very good explanation, Mr. Crusoe," Hal stated. Hal knew what Ensign Crusoe had stated but wanted to hear him explain it.
"I have Jordan stable in stasis," Dr. Tom reported. "You can pull his table out, but do NOT touch him."
"What would happen if we did?" Jonas asked.
"Well, you might break the stasis field, and endanger his life, or you could end up in stasis yourself."
Jason spoke up, "We don't want to endanger Daddy's life."
Dr. Tom opened the door and pulled out the drawer that Jordan was on. "Ten minutes at a time is all I can allow, and remember, do NOT touch him."
Tears were rolling down Jace's face. "How many times a day?"
"I wouldn't recommend more than four."
"Would before they go to school, after they get out, before supper and before they go to bed work?" Jace inquired, holding the boys' shoulders as he spoke.
"Some of those might be pushing it, but I think that will work," Dr. Tom agreed. "I am happy to hear you wanting to include the boys in your visit. They may need this as much as you."
"As a parent, you have to put your children's needs ahead of your own. Mom always sacrificed to be sure my needs were met first. Dad did too, for the most part, but not to the extent that Mom did."
"Good to know," Dr. Tom acknowledged. "Listen, when you visit, talk to Jordan. We don't know 100% whether his brain is active in stasis or not, so we kind of treat it like a coma."
Jace, is that you? I'm scared and feel alone.
Jace could hear Jordan's thoughts. "Tom, he is calling out to me. He senses my presence, but feels alone," Jace cried.
"Good," Dr. Tom smiled. "Talk to him, just don't touch."
"Jordan, I am here and so are the boys. You were injured and need to be in stasis until we get to Earth."
Tell the boys that I love them. I will see them when Dr. Tom heals me. I know we will be together soon enough, and THAT will be enough to sustain me for now.
"We love you, Jordan, but we can only spend ten minutes at a time with you."
I understand. A single tear rolled down Jordan's cheek.
"Dr. Tom, if he is in stasis, how did he shed a tear?"
"He shouldn't have been able to. I need to close the door."
Miranda and Bill Buckner had a government staff car waiting for them at the airport. Bill told the driver to take them to the Capital Suites and wait for them. After checking into the hotel and having their bags taken to their room, they returned to the car pick up and drop off lane. The driver held the back door for them, and they slid into the backseat. Bill gave the driver Greg Robinson's address and after a 20-minute ride he pulled into the Robinson driveway.
Greg and Alicia were watching for the car from the front window and as soon as it pulled up, they were out the front door to greet Miranda and Bill.
"Welcome to Vegas," Alicia grinned before giving Miranda a hug. She and Greg's mother had bonded as friends on Miranda's previous visit.
Miranda broke the hug and looked up at her son and pointed to Bill. "Greg, this is my husband Bill, who could be called your stepfather."
Greg shook hands with his stepfather. He was impressed with Bill's firm handshake and then remembered that the man worked as a diplomat and a firm handshake was a job requirement. "My pleasure, Bill. I'm happy my mother was able to find a good man to continue her life with."
"I assume you're taking her word regarding my goodness," Bill chuckled.
"I don't think I could have found a better source. Now, let's head into the house and get out of the heat." Bill reached for his suitcase which the driver had set on the driveway. "Leave it there," Greg told him. "There are three senior officers in Space Fleet Explorers who would be honored to get out of the swimming pool to be of service to a member of the Earth Federation Diplomatic Corps."
Bill grinned then, accompanied by his wife, entered the house with Greg and Alicia. "Nice place, not to mention big," Bill commented.
"With five boys who could end up here at any time the space has come in handy." Greg turned toward Miranda. "Well, Mom, when do you want to meet with William. He is currently sitting in my den."
"I'd like to greet the boys first and introduce them to their other grandfather," Miranda answered. "I don't want them thinking I am sneaking past them to meet William."
"Then let's step out on the patio." Greg and Alicia were thankful the boys were dressed in their swimwear. They knew Miranda had seen them skinny dipping on her first visit. However, this was a formal occasion, and the boys were expected to be dressed.
"Boys, say hello to your Grandma Miranda," Greg announced. Kyle was Miranda's only blood relative among the boys. Koji and Duskin were adopted great grandchildren. Robbie was Alicia's natural son and had been adopted by Greg after Greg and Alicia married.
All five boys climbed out of the pool and were introduced to Bill. The boys lined up as they had been instructed to do so they could introduce themselves and shake hands with their step grandfather.
With the formalities taken care of, it was time for Miranda to meet with her former husband. She and Bill agreed Greg would accompany her into the den where she would meet with William on her own while Bill would wait outside to be called in and introduced. Miranda took a deep breath, gave her husband a loving kiss, and accompanied her son to the closed door of the den.
Miranda gave Greg a questioning look. She had been under the impression he would lead the way into the den and run interference for her. Instead, he was gesturing for her to walk in first. "It's best this way, Mom," Greg whispered.
Miranda had already experienced the difficult feelings associated with meeting her former husband, William, as he had been the last time she had seen him—a man who was young and virile. She had suffered through the insecurities she felt about her being an old woman and how he would react. For a moment she wanted desperately to turn around and run out of the house. But, with the help of Bill, her current husband, she had come too far to do that. It was time for her to face the reality of the situation.
She knew that her son was right—she had to be the person to lead the way into the den. She had to play the role of the confident woman William Robinson had married decades ago, even if she really wasn't that woman. Or was she? Miranda looked at her son and, with her head held high, she opened the door and proudly stepped into the room.
The first thing that caught her eye was William Robinson. Even though he wasn't in uniform, there was no doubt he was the starship captain who had kissed her goodbye so many years ago.
"William," she uttered softly but confidently. "They said you hadn't changed, and you haven't. You look… you look… you look positively amazing. So young… so handsome. And here I am an nothing but an old woman."
William rose from his seat and walked over to his former wife and surprised her with a strong, heart-felt hug. "You are a beautiful woman," William said as he took a step back after the hug. "You might not be as young looking as when I last saw you, but you are still beautiful. Your beauty was always more than skin deep, and I imagine that young woman still resided in your heart." He took her hand and led her to the couch where they sat next to each other.
"You are the master of flattery as usual," Miranda grinned.
"Not to mention the speaker of the truth. In the past few weeks, I learned that my son is an admiral, my grandson is a tween astrogator and married to another boy of all things. And now I learn that my wife is still a wonderful person—one who raised our son to follow me into space and to be a man who became a leader."
"Well, I didn't exactly encourage Greg to go into space. But the story of my mistakes with him as well as with Kyle are for later. Right now, I just want to look at you and marvel at the miracles of the universe."
For almost an hour, Miranda listened to the story of William's last voyage and his rescue from the purgatory he and his crew were confined to. And he listened to how she tried to stop Greg from going into space and her story of trying to block Kyle as well. But she also told of how she met and married Bill Buckner and how their grandson taught her about the value of acceptance.
"We're never going to be what we were," Miranda said as their chat wound down, "but I hope we can always be friends."
"I would like nothing more," William told her.
"I believe it's time for you to meet Bill."
"You do seem to fall for Williams," William grinned.
"That was also the name of my first boyfriend in middle school," Miranda laughed. She rose from the couch, opened the door, and called her husband in. When the idea of the reunion was proposed she was worried about how the two men she had married would react to each other. Then she decided that they were both good men and would probably end up liking each other a great deal.
She wasn't disappointed. William was standing when Bill entered the den. The two men approached each other, clasped hands and exchanged a hearty handshake followed by a manly hug.
The men sat down and chatted with Miranda sitting next to Bill, placing him between her and William. Bill told William his background which included serving a six-year term in Space Fleet Transportation Services, where he spent five years as a purser on passenger transports. The job ended up becoming a steppingstone into the Federation Diplomatic Corps.
Greg came into the den and surveyed the scene. He could see that his mother, his father, and his stepfather were enjoying each other's company which pleased him immensely. "Folks, you'll have to continue your 'getting to know you' session later," he said. "Alicia told me to inform you that dinner will be served in a half hour."
"In that case, let's go sit poolside so I can watch and get to know the boys," Bill said.
"Let's both get to know the boys," William said. "This will be my first real chance to watch them play. Plus, Alicia's son, Ronnie intrigues me. The boy really knows his stuff when it comes to ship's engineering."
As the two men and Miranda rose from the couch, Bill placed his hand on William's shoulder and pointed to Miranda. "You know what the biggest thing is I learned about us?" Bill asked.
"That we enjoyed serving in space?"
"Nope." Bill pointed to Miranda. "What I learned is that we both have excellent taste in women."
William, Bill, and Miranda went out to the patio and found seats. Greg and Alicia were pleased to see the smiles on their faces; apparently their meeting went well. They both vowed to get the details later.
The boys were busy playing water basketball in the pool. It was the first time playing the game for Koji and Duskin. Koji fell in love with dunking the ball and worked to do it every chance he could. The teams were Ronnie and Kyle, both of whom had played basketball at the academy, versus Danny, Koji, and Duskin in a game to 25 points. The score was 21-18 when the three grandparents came out on the patio. Danny's team had the lead, thanks in part to Koji lurking underwater near the basket until he saw an opening and leaping up for a pass from Danny and Duskin.
Koji found that passing to Duskin or Danny for a basket was almost as satisfying as dunking the ball. Finding an open man looked easy since the game was three on two, but the skills of Kyle and Ronnie made the process more difficult than it looked.
The adults enjoyed the screams of delight as the boys swam around the pool like harbor seals. The game soon ended when Koji slammed the ball through the hoop on a pass by Duskin, giving their team 25 points.
The five adults applauded the play of the boys as they exited the pool to quench their thirst with cold lemonade. Before getting his drink, Kyle went to his bedroom and pulled a t-shirt out of a sack. He had gone shopping with Alicia to find a grandfather present for William. Kyle's reasoning about getting a present was that he wanted to give his grandpa something that said that even though he and Grandma Miranda were no longer married, William was still an important part of the family, especially for Kyle's little branch. He placed the shirt on his bed next to the card that he, Danny, Ronnie, Koji and Duskin had signed the night before.
Kyle unfolded the shirt and grinned as he held it up. He was certain that the t-shirt was the perfect present for Grandpa William. At least he was Grandpa William for now. Alicia, Ronnie, Danny, Koji, and Duskin all liked the present which helped Kyle's confidence.
Kyle took the shirt and the card downstairs where the other boys were sitting at the kitchen table sipping their lemonade. "Do you want to give Naflopsola William the card?" Kyle asked Koji.
"Koji and Duskin will give it to him together," Koji answered authoritatively. "And opsola Kyle will give him the shirt."
"Koji has it down," Danny grinned. "I'll be standing right next to Kyle when he gives William the shirt."
"We need something for Ronnie to do," Kyle said.
"I have something to do," Ronnie stated.
"I'll be the director and make sure everyone does his job."
"Kind of like the Chief Engineer keeping everything running smoothly, right?" Danny asked.
"That sounds perfect to me."
"Opsola Kyle, before we go out can I ask you something?" Koji inquired.
"Ask away," Kyle answered.
"After we give the present and the card, can we go nakey in the pool?"
"Do you remember what we said when we talked about that yesterday?"
"Yes, this is a family reunion so no nekid swimming," Koji sighed, "But can I do it by myself?"
"No." Kyle's one word said it all in no uncertain terms.
The five boys walked out onto the patio where the adults were enjoying lively conversation. They went to where William was sitting. Kyle stepped up to him and said," Naflopsola William, we have something special to give you?"
"I have been informed that I should be ready for a special gift," William grinned. "And that the word naflopsola means grandfather, a term that makes me feel rather old."
"You don't look at all like a grandpa," Danny complimented.
"Nor do I feel like one even if I am one."
Koji and Duskin stepped forward and handed William the card. William opened it and nodded. The card had a picture of a Space Fleet starship in space. Koji had carefully written on the space underneath the picture the wording the boys had all agreed on. "Not Grandpa, Not Grandfather, Not Naflopsola, but Pop-Pop the Starship Captain."
William gave Koji and Duskin each a loving hug, causing the two young boys to break out in broad smiles.
On that note, Kyle unfolded the t-shirt and handed it to William. William looked over the bright blue shirt and broke into a wide grin. "That, my young friends, is perfect. Absolutely, totally perfect." He pulled off the shirt he was wearing and then donned the shirt he had just been presented. He showed it off for everyone to see and read. Across his chest the shirt read POP-POP in large white letters. A white line separated the large letters from the punchline: Because "Grandfather" is for older guys.
"You may now call me Captain Pop-Pop," William grinned. He gave Kyle and Danny hugs of their own and then stepped over to Ronnie. "And your role in this event other than signing the card would be?" William asked.
"Getting the Chief of Information on the Victorious to help me create the card," Ronnie said. "The ship in the picture is the Victorious but could be any ship in the Explorer Program. And then being the Chief Engineer of the presentation."
"And for that, you also get a hug." William gave Ronnie a special squeeze of his own. He wiped his eyes quickly, hoping nobody would notice, said, "I feel like the luckiest man in the galaxy today. Thank you everyone for making my return home so very-very special."
With having Mason and Ethan join them, Kash went to inventory the food on the Mars and see how much more he would need. What he discovered surprised him and made him a little upset. He tapped his comm, "Commanders Robinson, this is Commander Rivers, I know you're doing your family reunion, but some of the food for our journey home is missing. Do you know anything about it?"
"Ummm…" Kyle pauses, "we might. Danny and I found some foods we wanted right away."
"Are you aware that we might not have enough for the full journey, now?"
"Relax, Kash, we haven't left yet," Kyle responded, "Danny is already talking to Logan on the Darastix about making sure we have enough. Logan used to be on the Sooloo, and I am sure he will help us out. I realize that we shouldn't have eaten that food, but we are responsible enough to be sure it is replaced."
In a mellower tone, Kash replied, "As long as you are taking such steps, I apologize for getting upset."
"No apologies necessary," Kyle almost chuckled. "I won't tell you what we ate, or you might get upset again." Kash just shook his head.
"Logan, Kyle and I were going through the food on the Shuttle, and we kinda ate some of it."
"Kinda?" Logan questioned. "How do you kinda eat food?"
"Well," Danny squealed. "We saw some items that were just too tempting, and we took them back home and…"
"Say no more," Logan interrupted. "Make me a list of what you ate, and I will make some replacements for you, but it's going to cost you."
"Whatever you want," Danny offered. "I do have another request IF you are able. The Robinson Family Reunion concludes tomorrow, and Kyle was wanting to have Gordy make Randy's lasagna as the last meal. He doesn't have any shimmy…"
"What we brought on board before we left Darastix was around 300 kilograms (661.39 lbs). Once we returned to Earth, 280 kilograms (617.29 lbs) was sent to Space Fleet Culinary since the Darastix won't be leaving until we have a full crew."
"So, you only have 20 kilograms (44.1 lbs)," Danny mumbled.
Logan smiled, "I can spare 3 kilograms (6.61 lbs), or if Gordy makes an extra batch for the Darastix, I can even spare 5 kilograms (11.02 lbs).
"I believe I can arrange that," Danny grinned.
The evening was spent eating the pot roast with carrots and potatoes prepared by Alicia with the enthusiastic assistance of William and Ronnie. Ronnie loved the culinary arts and was certain he would have made it into space working in the galley. As it was, he assisted the cooking staff once or twice a week during his down time and enjoyed every minute of it.
The evening was taken up by reminiscing, fun in the pool, playing games, general chatter, and Koji asking Kyle and Danny three times for permission to be naked in the pool. After the third time Kyle told Koji that if he asked again he would be sent his room to spend the rest of the night naked by himself. Since Koji knew from experience that Opsola Kyle never made threats, he made promises, he didn't ask again. He'd rather play in the pool with his swim shorts on than be naked by himself for the night.
Kyle was fascinated by William and Miranda talking about what it had been like raising their son, Greg. He enjoyed hearing that Greg was a bad boy on occasion. For obvious reasons Greg didn't find that part of the conversation as enjoyable as Kyle did. But Greg did enjoy ruminating about the family vacations where he not only got to see much of his own planet but also had his first forays into space. The talk of William's disappearance and how it uprooted Greg's life while at the same time convincing the young boy that he wanted to spend his career in Space Fleet as his father had done.
For Kyle, learning more of his family's history was enough to make the reunion worthwhile. It depressed Danny some and he left the conversation to join Koji and Duskin in the pool. Even though Greg and Ronnie had both lost their fathers or, in Greg's case, thought they had, they both used the tragedy to inspire them to accomplish their own dream. In Danny's case, he hadn't lost his father—instead, he had to battle his father to succeed. But when he gave it some extra thought, he realized in many ways the same was true of Kyle, which reminded him that it was something he and his husband had in common. While in the pool, Danny was able to get his thoughts back together and rejoined the Robinsons.
That night, Koji and Duskin slept together in the nude and enjoyed some brotherly love. Koji was certain he had taught his younger brother everything he knew. It wasn't that Koji was an expert, but he did have good teachers among his friends on the Sooloo. Nakey time in the holodeck during the afternoon break at school was a good time for Koji to sneak off into the bushes to enhance his education.
Danny and Kyle taught Ronnie the art of the three way, something the two had become expert in their fun times in bed with Brad and Steve. Ronnie enjoyed the experience immensely and wondered how he could arrange similar fun for himself on the Victorious. After all, if Kyle as a senior officer could do it, why couldn't he? On the other hand, Brad was a senior officer as well and Danny and Steve were their husbands. There were far fewer marriages on the Victorious, but there were numerous regular pairings because adolescent boys were perpetually horny—even the straight ones.
With the adults Greg and Alicia enjoyed each other intimately, as did Bill and Miranda. In his room, William was thinking how he needed to start scouting for female company once the reunion was over.
"Sir, I am supposed to be on the Victorious tomorrow to take me to the SS Sooloo."
"And?" the officer handling flight arrangements for new Ensigns, Lieutenant Christos Vallakos, questioned.
Mason spoke clearly, "I discovered that three officers from the Sooloo are currently on Earth. They will be heading to the Sooloo the day after. They recommended that I fly with them to save the Victorious a trip, Sir."
"And your name, Ensign?" Vallakos inquired.
"Ensign Mason Brooks, Sir."
"Brooks," Vallakos repeated. "Oh yes, you were scheduled to leave with the Victorious at 0900 tomorrow, but your seat was cancelled."
"So, I can go on the Mars with the other officers?" Mason was puzzled, "Sir, I don't understand why it was cancelled before I even gave you my request."
"Apparently, one of her officers was seriously hurt, and the Sooloo is on her way to Earth. You needn't leave Earth until you go on the Sooloo."
"Which Officer was hurt?" Kash had been watching Mason handle the situation, but once he learned an officer was seriously hurt, he wanted details.
"I'm afraid I don't have that information, Sir," the lieutenant replied. "I was only informed they would be coming to Earth and for what reason. And to cancel seats heading to her."
Kash went to inform Danny and Kyle right away. Kyle suggested that he should see if his dad knew who was injured. Then he chuckled, "I guess we won't need the food for the trip back to the Sooloo."
"Maybe you, Danny and the boys should use it and take a trip to Marsh… er, I mean Mars." He could hear Koji sniggering in the background.
"What about you, Mason, Ethan and Jay?" Danny questioned.
"If you would take Ethan and Jay, I think they would have fun on the trip. Neither has been to… Mars." After hearing Koji calling it Marsh so often, and his slip earlier, Kash took a little time to be sure he said it properly this time.
"Can we take Ethan and Jay to Marsh?" Koji requested, grinning at Kash who was obviously holding back his own chuckle. "I can show them and Duskin every place that we went."
"Not alone, you won't," Kyle demanded. "Last thing I want is for you four to get lost. I would greatly miss you and Duskin. And I'm sure Kash and Mason would miss Jay and Ethan."
"What if we went with Eduardo again?"
"You really liked him," Kyle confirmed. "I will see if he's still there and available." Then he turned to Kash, "We will leave Saturday. Have the boys ready at 0900. I don't think they need to be around when the Sooloo arrives with a seriously injured officer."
"I couldn't agree more."
After a big breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs, toast, and sliced fresh fruit, the Robinsons dressed for a special trip. A noteworthy Vegas destination for visitors was the Space Fleet Museum of Discovery.
Greg had worked with Museum Director Allen Kirby to set up a guided tour for his family that would include a few looks behind the scenes. Allen said he would be more than happy to lead the tour himself. He thought one thing that would make the visit special would be for the active-duty personnel in the family to come in uniform.
"Dress uniform or duty uniform?" Greg asked.
"I would think your duty uniforms would work best. Some of the locations you will be looking at will include places where construction work will be going on and could be dusty so you would probably move around with more confidence in your duty uniforms," Allen answered.
"Do you think we might need our dress uniforms?"
"Not at all. I just don't think dress unis would be appropriate in the environment backstage so to speak." Allen had spent twenty-five years in Space Fleet and had risen to the Chief Information officer on the starship Vanguard before retiring. After retiring he was offered a position at the Academy, but his interest was in museum curation, and he quickly picked up a master's degree in museum studies. He was immediately hired by the Space Fleet museum and within five years had risen to the director's position on the retirement of the director at the time. It was Allen who started work on the museum expansion.
After finishing breakfast everyone dressed for the excursion. At the moment, William was still considered active duty and donned his Captain's uniform. He admired his look in the mirror. His uniform was clean and crisp, and it felt good to wear it.
For Kyle, Danny, and Ronnie, it felt special to be going to the famous museum as brothers in uniform and officers' uniform at that. All three of them had visited the museum as cadets; this would be their first time going as commissioned officers. Greg had told them to be prepared of a surprise during their tour.
Koji and Duskin dressed in their school uniform. While they generally didn't wear a uniform to class, they had a uniform for formal occasions with the Sooloo insignia emblazoned on the left breast of their light blue tunic.
Alicia, Miranda, and Bill dressed in smart casual clothes. The idea was for them to be comfortable while looking well dressed. Greg was dressed in his Admiral's uniform of course.
Greg had ordered a minivan from the motor pool to haul the group to the museum. The museum was about twenty minutes from the Robinson residence. It was situated on its own campus which was located about a mile from the Space Academy. Allen was waiting for them at the steps to the main entrance. He welcomed them and guided them into the main hall. The museum was free although a fee was charged for a couple of special exhibits.
As they walked through the early exploration hall, Kyle and Danny were pleased to see that Koji and Duskin were interested in the exhibits. While Koji could be on the wild side, he was also a bright, curious boy who liked learning new things, especially if it had to do with space and space travel.
Koji pointed to an authentic Apollo space capsule on exhibit in the Lunar Room. "Did they really go to the moon in that little thing?" he asked Kyle.
"Kind of," Kyle replied. "Did you read the description of how the trip worked?"
"Yes, but it makes no sense. They really went up in a rocket, then rode in this thing to the moon and then landed in that littler spacecraft over there?" He pointed to the full-scale model of the lunar lander.
"Read it again carefully and pay close attention to how they got launched off of Earth and then check out the pictures."
Kyle and Duskin read the description very carefully. Koji shook his head in confusion when suddenly his face lit up. "I think I get it," he said. "Do you see how they did it, Duskin?"
"I think so. I think when they rode in that coprasel it was on top of the big rocket that shot them into space. Right?" Duskin asked.
"That's what I think happened, too. Riding on top of the rocket had to be like going to the carnival and going on a ride."
"And what they rode in is called a capsule," Kyle told Duskin.
"Kap-sull," Duskin pronounced carefully. "I don't want to ride in one."
"And then two of them rode that little spaceship and landed on the moon and the other guy waited for them," Koji said. "Now we just land on the moon and go shopping," Koji giggled.
"How do you know that?" Danny asked.
"I saw pictures in the other room."
"And when they came home they had to use a parachute to come down," Koji said as if the whole idea was ridiculous. "Why didn't they just build a big shuttle ship like we have now and fly there?"
"Because they didn't have the technology," Ronnie answered.
"That's because they didn't have a bensvelk (good) engineers like my Unka Ronnie," Koji grinned.
This was how much of the tour of the museum transpired until they reached the Solar System model, which consisted of models of the planets orbiting the Sun. Allen unlocked a door and took the group behind the scenes where they saw how the motors kept everything moving properly. That was followed by lunch in the museum's cafeteria. Greg and Bill split the cost of the lunch for the Robinson group and threw in lunch for Allen as well. Kyle noted that many of the visitors gave them long looks and mentioned it to Danny and Ronnie.
"I don't think they're used to seeing kids our age in full Space Fleet uniforms," Ronnie speculated.
"Yeah, but most of them probably don't know a Space Fleet uniform from a cadet uniform," Kyle said.
"Whatever… between the three of us, along with Dad and Pop-Pop in their uniforms, we do stand out some."
After lunch they went to where a new wing to the museum was being built. Allen escorted them into the wing which was closed to the public. The new wing was the surprise Greg had mentioned. The wing would be called the Explorers Wing and would trace the history of the Space Fleet Explorers Program. The wing itself was close to completion. The interior work was in progress with the construction process, and the exhibit displays expected to be completed in six months.
"The grand opening of the wing should be to be in seven months to leave us wiggle room for unexpected delays," Allen told them.
"I can't believe your dedicating a wing to a program that is barely off the ground," William noted.
"What the program has accomplished in that time is almost incomprehensible. We have three of its young heroes in the room with us right now."
Kyle, Danny, and Ronnie looked around to see who had entered the room other than them and a few construction workers.
"I think he's talking about you boys," Greg chuckled.
"I believe we have a young man who earned a medal for his leadership in the fight against a rogue star," Allen stated. "We have another young man who had had a fighter named for him by the Darastixians. And then there is the rescue of Captain Robinson and his crew. The list of accomplishments goes on. The museum would be remiss if it didn't recognize this modern addition to space exploration.
"The new wing has been in the works for a long time. I admit I had to battle the museum board to accept the idea of the Explorer Program being the major theme, but as soon as they had facts, they were all in. And once the displays are set up, there will be room for much more. I expect the program will find ways to fill that space.
"Koji and Duskin will be very interested in the room being walled off behind you. It will be dedicated to those wonderful allies and will feature exhibits lauding their civilization and their contributions to us."
Allen led them around a stack of boxes and pointed to a large model of a starship suspended from the ceiling by cables. Its hull was about a meter off the floor. Danny and Kyle gasped in unison. "It's the Sooloo!"
"Yes, it is. And now for the real reason you were asked to come in uniform." Allen pulled a communicator out of his pocket. "We're ready for you," he said to an unknown recipient.
Within minutes, two men and a woman entered the wing bringing photographic gear with them. The adults knew about the photographers, but the five boys were surprised by the fuss, but they were soon posing for pictures. Danny and Kyle took many poses in front of the model of the Sooloo. Those were followed by pictures of them with Koji and Duskin. One of the photographers covered the Sooloo name and numbers with those of the Victorious and took a few pictures of Ronnie. The markings were then switched back to the Sooloo.
Koji and Duskin were photographed at the one completed display in the Darastixian room. They recognized the buildings of the capital and Koji respectfully complimented Allen on how real they looked.
The photography session ended in the main museum where pictures were taken of the entire Robinson family. All too soon it was time for tour to end. They then thanked Allen for the wonderful tour and for the great work he was doing at the museum.
Allen complimented them for being a fantastic group. "I would have expected nothing less from any of you," he averred. "From the young ones to the Explorers, to you two Space Fleet officers, and your families—you are the best. And after flooding you with praise I have a favor to ask."
"If it has to do with the grand opening of the new wing, I know what it is?" Greg said.
"Interesting since it's the only thing I haven't shared with you. What I think you think I'm going to ask is for the Sooloo and her crew to be present for the opening." Greg started to open his mouth, but Allen held up his hand. "Here me out, Admiral. Having been in the service for 25 years I understand the vagaries of space travel. It falls in the 'man plans and God laughs' category. That said, we're willing to be flexible with the date and we understand if you have to use a different Explorer ship. What I am asking is you send us the Sooloo if you can, and if she can't make it than a suitable replacement is here for the opening."
"I think that is doable," Greg said. "But… no promises. As you said, space travel has too many quirks to guarantee a schedule, but we're smart enough to deal with changes in plans. And we do have several ships waiting for refits."
"Thank you, sir, and enjoy your big meal."
Greg had already called for the van to pick them up and it was waiting for them in the pick-up area. As they settled in for the ride, Kyle thanked Greg for the special day. "I learned a lot today I didn't know and learned a lot more about things I did know," Kyle said. "And I know this much—I want to be a part of that grand opening if we can make it happen."
"We'll do our best," Greg averred.
"And I know this much. I know I don't never want to be taking off into space on top of a rocket like those guys in the olden days did," Koji exclaimed.
"'Specially after seeing that rocket blow up," Duskin added, referring to the video they viewed of the Challenger disaster.
"What I know right now is that I want to jump in the pool until it's time to get ready for that big dinner coming to our house," Ronnie commented.
Alicia teased him, "Don't forget to take off your uniform first."
"I'm just saying. After all, you are still a teenager."
The rest of the short trip home was about the pool and especially the catered meal of special lasagna that Gordy was preparing. Everyone's thoughts were so focused on the upcoming meal that Koji didn't even ask Kyle about getting nakey in the pool. But then, he might have still been intimidated by Kyle's promise and accompanying glare from the day before.
As the Robinson Family Reunion was coming to a close, the final meal was brought out. Thanks to permission from Greg, Corey Adams and Gordy Jenkins were there to serve it. Kyle stood up, "This meal was made famous by our Executive Chef on the Sooloo. The meat, shimmy, comes from the planet Darastix, but Space Fleet has brought thirty live ones to Earth to breed. I hope y'all enjoy it as much as we do on the Sooloo."
William was sitting on the left of Miranda while Bill sat on her right. "What IS shimmy, anyway?" he questioned, then added, "We had some on the SS Darastix, and it was quite good, but no one would say exactly what it was."
"It's like a skunk," Miranda whispered, "or so I am told."
"You're shitting me," William couldn't believe his ears.
"I would never shit you, dear," Miranda grinned, "You're my favorite turd."
After dinner everyone sat out on the patio for dessert to enjoy the very warm evening. The adults drank coffee or tea while the boys enjoyed a fruit punch that Gordy concocted from a recipe created by his brother Randy. Corey Adams went home. The Sooloo boys all recognized the punch and almost purred with pleasure. They always looked forward to a meal on the ship where the kitchen staff served the punch. Ronnie asked Gordy to give him the recipe for the punch, which was gladly given.
"That lasagna was incredibly delicious," Bill said as he took his first bite of strawberry shortcake. "I can't believe it's made from a kind of skunk."
"Well, it is an alien skunk, after all," Gordy reminded him. "And we don't go anywhere near the scent sacs when we prepare the meat. In fact, it's usually removed before we get the meat. On occasion, we do have to remove it ourselves."
"If it makes a lasagna that good, I wonder what kind of enchilada or burrito Tino could create from it," Bill commented to Miranda. He was referring to Tino Garcia, the owner of their favorite restaurant in Puerto Vallarta. "Do you think you could give me the directions for preparing the meat for me to pass on?" he asked Gordy.
"Well, it's not like it's copyrighted or anything, but it would be better if you got it from Randy because he knows how to make restaurant size. And I bet that he would know how to make Mexican meals from shimmy way better than I do."
"Well, we did have those burritos last month," Kyle reminded the Sooloo boys. "So, I think Randy has a clue."
"My brother always has a clue when it comes to cooking," Gordy retorted.
"How could I get hold of him?" Bill inquired.
"You can contact him via the Sooloo's communication," Greg told Bill. "I'll give you the complete address after we finish dessert."
"I'm gonna contact him, too," Ronnie said. "We need something like that on the Victorious. Clyde, our head chef, isn't the most adventurous guy, but I'm helping him be daring."
"I thought you were the Chief Engineer. How can you help him in the kitchen?" Gordy questioned.
"Oh, once a week or so, depending on my schedule and what's being cooked up, I work as a kitchen assistant. I think that gives me enough cred to help Clyde go on a cooking adventure."
"Damn, I didn't know an officer could do that. One of the things that bugged me about going to the Academy to be an officer is that I would never be able to cook. It's totally awesome that there's a chance I can do some cooking on a starship. How cool is that?"
The talk continued with the topics ranging from food to starship retrofits, to attending the academy, to the Vegas Stars, the city's Major League Baseball team. Even though they found most of the chatter interesting, Koji and Duskin started getting restless from a combination of sitting too long to it's being close to bedtime. They asked if they could go swimming before going to bed. They didn't ask of they could skinny dip because they already knew the answer to that question.
Gordy was asked by Kyle and Danny to spend the night. He said he needed to call for Colonel Savage and let him know. Greg said he would take care of that. Soon everyone was in bed. Gordy hadn't asked where he would sleep figuring the big house had plenty of room.
He ended up not sleeping alone. He and Ronnie had bonded through their love of cooking even if they weren't cooks as such and Gordy became Ronnie's bed partner for the night. Before falling asleep they shared some of their favorite sexual techniques.
The next morning, Ronnie and Gordy volunteered to help Alicia and Miranda make breakfast. The two boys ended up doing the bulk of the cooking and enjoyed every minute of it. They made as good a team in the kitchen as they had in bed.
After breakfast, Bill called for a car to take them to the government shuttle to Mexico. When the car arrived, he and William shook hands and promised to stay in touch. Miranda gave William a kiss and a long hug.
"I love you, William," Miranda told him. "I always have and always will. I have a feeling that there is a beautiful, intelligent lady somewhere in the city who is ready for a handsome Space Fleet Captain to court her. May the two of you find each other soon." She followed her husband to the car.
"Despite all my misgivings, the reunion was an amazing success," she told Bill.
"I agree. It made the family stronger and even more full of love," Bill said as the car pulled away from the Robinson residence.
Greg offered to take Gordy to Colonel Savage's since he had to get Ronnie to the spaceport so he could shuttle up to the Victorious. Kyle and Danny rode along. They wondered if the four of them, would ever be together again. Ronnie and Gordy promised to stay in contact since as an academy cadet Gordy could send and receive mail to and from starship.
That night at dinner the Robinsons came to the same conclusion as Bill and Miranda had. They agreed that the reunion had been a huge success and joined the family together with the bond of love.
"Why do we have to be ready?" Ethan asked. "That guy said 0900."
"Because nine minutes early is one minute late," Jay replied. "And that man's name is Kyle. I wouldn't be surprised if he came fifteen minutes early."
"Jay's right," Kash added. "That is one thing about the officers of the Sooloo. Unless it is something caused by duty, like when Jordan has to handle a situation while on the way to a meeting, they are always ten minutes early."
"Have you both used the restroom and washed your hands?" Mason asked. Jay ran toward the restroom with Ethan in close pursuit. Mason grinned at Kash. "I had a feeling."
The door chimed at 0845, and Kash opened it. "I know, I'm fifteen minutes early," Kyle replied to Kash's grinning face.
"Yes, but I'm grinning because Jay just told Ethan that he wouldn't be surprised if you arrived at 0845, and here you are."
Kyle asked, "Where are Jay and Ethan? Are they ready?"
"Almost," Kash replied, "Mason just sent them to use the restroom and wash before leaving."
"Good," Kyle was grinning widely as he continued, “so that means there's a Rivers and a Brooks creating little streams in there."
Kash and Mason had a difficult time holding back their laughter.
Then Kyle reported. "Before they get back, I found out, it was Jordan that was seriously injured. He should be arriving at Space Fleet Medical around 2200 tonight."
Jay came running out, "I knew it, I knew it. You didn't surprise me, Unca Kyle."
"So, I have been told," Kyle grinned.
Mason questioned, "Uncle?"
"We are like one big family on the ship. All the younger kids call any officer not their parent 'Unca.'" Kash explained. "Some of the older boys may refer to you as 'uncle,' too."
"You boys ready to leave?" Kyle asked.
Jay held up one finger to indicate one-minute, then he turned to Kash. "Don't you and Mase get married before we get back."
"Yeah," Ethan asserted.
"I promise, we won't," Kash assured. "Besides, you will be the ring bearer, and Ethan can be the flower boy."
"I'm not dressing up as a bear," Jay averred.
"No, not a ring bear, a ring bearer. It means you carry the pillow with the rings on it."
Jay grinned, "Oh, I can do that."
"Do I have to wear a flower costume?" Ethan grimaced.
This time it was Mason's turn to explain. "No, you walk down the aisle before Daddy and Kash, leaving flower petals."
"What kind of flower petals?" Ethan inquired.
"Usually, it's roses but can be carnations or whatever flower Kash and Daddy decide upon."
Kyle was staring at the time on his comm, Ethan was about to ask another question, but Kyle insisted it was time to go.
"We're already running a minute behind," Kyle mumbled as he was buckling Jay and Ethan into their seats. Kyle always did take that "nine minutes early is one minute late" seriously, and he hated being late.
"I'm sorry, Unca Kyle," Jay responded.
Kyle shook his head, "You don't need to be, you needed to say your goodbyes."
"Are we really late?" Ethan inquired. "Clock says 0851."
"Remember," Jay encouraged, "nine minutes early is one minute late."
Kyle looked at Ethan, "No, we are not really late, but for those of us who have been living by that rule, it just feels like we are. I'll tell you what, we are on vacation, so let's suspend that rule except if Unca Danny and I set a time for like supper."
"Where is Unca Danny?" Jay questioned, while looking around.
"He and the boys went to pick up a couple of friends," Kyle replied. "They will meet us at the shuttle."
Kyle got into the front seat, and the driver headed for the Tiberius Space Port. The lad smiled when he looked over at the speedometer and saw the driver was doing one mile over the limit. It wasn't enough for anyone to stop them yet allowed them to make up for lost time. Normal driving, Kash was staying about ten minutes away from the Space Port, but this trip only took nine minutes. When they stopped to unload, the driver smiled at Kyle, "I'm not on vacation, and I believe you arrived at the time that you wanted."
"I did," Kyle answered, "and thank you."
Danny's driver pulled in behind them, and Danny, Koji, Duskin, Corey and Gordy got out of the vehicle. "Next time, YOU take the two boys," Danny chuckled. "The whole time, they kept asking when we would meet back with you."
Kyle looked at Koji with that look only parents can give. Koji immediately responded, "We missed you and love you."
Kyle smiled, letting Koji know that he wasn't in trouble. He also told him, "While on the way to pick up these two, I contacted the Summit Resort. Eduardo IS still on Mars, and said he'd be happy to show you boys around. The hotel is almost full, but they were able to reserve a suite for us."
"What kind of sweet?" Ethan asked. "Candy?"
"Not that kind of sweet," Kyle explained. "This suite is a group of rooms. We have a family suite with one room for Unca Danny and me, Gordy and Corey will have their own room and there will be one room for you four boys. Tonight, we will be on our own, but Eduardo will be by tomorrow morning at 0830 to pick you boys up."
"So, be ready at 0820?" Ethan inquired.
"It wouldn't hurt, but remember, we are suspending that rule for this trip."
"Which rule?" Danny questioned.
"Nine minutes early is one minute late," Kyle affirmed. Danny looked at him with a bit of surprise.
Koji took it upon himself to introduce Corey and Gordy to Jay and Ethan. Jay had met Corey before, during the shakedown cruise, but Koji still introduced him, in case he forgot.
Danny informed the boys that they needed to be strapped in during takeoff and landing, but once they left Earth's atmosphere, they could stand and stretch their legs. Since the Mars only had six seats, Koji and Duskin shared a seat while Jay and Ethan shared another.
The computer informed Will that they were within six hours of Earth at their current speed. Will told Hal, "I can safely engage the emergency speed of HF11. And we will achieve Earth orbit in just under five hours."
Hal looked at him and nodded.
With Jay and Ethan on Mars with Kyle, Danny and the two rug rats, Kash and Mason decided to go out for dinner. They stopped at the Kristof Restaurant that Logan helped open. As they were shown to their seats, the waiter came over. "May I take…" Kenny began, but then when he saw who he was waiting on, his voice trailed off, "… your order?"
"Kenny?" Kash was puzzled, "I thought you were on the Darastix."
"While we are waiting for Captain David to select the remainder of his crew, we are taking two-days-a-week rotations on the ship and filling the rest of our time here. It's good to see you again, Kash."
"I didn't mean to spring this on you like this, but I DID want to introduce you to my new boyfriend. Kenny, this is Mason. We just met on the fifth. I hope it doesn't bother you, but after you said you couldn't transfer to the Sooloo…"
With a frown on his face, Kenny replied, "I understand, and thank you for not trying to hide it from me."
After Kenny left with their orders, Mason inquired, "Did you and Kenny date?"
"No, we only met once on the Darastix," Kash explained. "We had discussed dating, but he couldn't transfer to the Sooloo. Personally, I'm glad that he can't. Jay said that you are much cuter, and I agree. Besides, with you, I sensed that we were compatible right away. With him, I never had a clue if he and I would have been compatible. That tells me that you are the one I should be with."
"I feel better knowing that in what could have been an awkward scene, you weren't afraid to introduce me. I'm also glad to have met someone you were once interested in, and you didn't even consider hiding that we are together. I could tell that this was a chance encounter, and you tried to ease his pain, while introducing me. You couldn't have handled this encounter any better."
While they were talking, another boy came in. He was alone and started scanning the room with his eyes. Once he spotted Mason, he made his way over. "There you are," the boy said, "I convinced Captain Rawlings to assign me to the same ship as you."
"Alex," Mason seemed nervous, "what are you doing here?"
Alex glared, "I could ask you the same thing. You are MY boyfriend, and you are at a romantic restaurant with someone else."
"YOU BROKE UP WITH ME," Mason stated louder than he planned. Everyone in the restaurant was staring at them. "This is Kash, and he loves Ethan. He and I are talking about marriage."
"You are still MY boyfriend. Even though I did break up with you, you cannot date anyone else until I give you permission."
Kash thought he had heard enough, and wanted to say something, so he looked at Mason, who was obviously in distress. Mason saw Kash looking at him and nodded his head. "Crewman, by your own admission, you broke up with Mason. He doesn't need your permission to date anyone he chooses. If you came in here to torment Mason, I suggest you leave on your own accord. And I highly recommend you ask Captain Rawlings to assign you to a different ship."
"And who are you to tell me what to do?" Alex demanded.
"I am Commander Rivers of the SS Sooloo. I can promise you, if you set foot on the Sooloo, your life will be a living hell," Kash confidently stated. "And do you see those two Darastixian brothers? They are Security Officers with the SS Darastix. Just know, if I ask, they will escort you out in a not-so-friendly manner."
Alex growled at Mason and stormed out. The Darastixian brothers had been watching the scene and stood up, ready to react. Mason looked at Kash and apologized, "I'm sorry that he put you through that, but thank you for being here for me."
"You have nothing to apologize for," Kash replied, "and I will always be ready to assist you if you ever need it. I may have to have you arrested for theft, but I will always be here."
"Theft?" Mason looked puzzled. "I have never stolen anything."
"Except my heart," Kash grinned.
Mason laughed, "Yeah, well, Mister, I should have you arrested on the same charges."
"Mason, I have never been so sure of anything as much as I am in wanting to marry you. I love you."
"I love you more."
"Doctor, the Sooloo has just established Orbit and the Medical Transport, SS Hippocrates will be docking at port M1 shortly," came the voice of Captain Tietokone over the ship com. Though the docking ports are rarely used, there are six ports per deck, and they are usually identified by where they are located. First the location as SB or PB for Starboard or Port Bow, S for Starboard, P or Port and SA or PA for Starboard or Port Aft. Then it will be followed by the deck number i.e., SB1, PA 3 and so forth. The port going directly to the Medical Bay is different. It is designated as M1 since it is the only Medical Docking Port.
Dr. Tom called out, doubtful Hal could hear him, "Thank you, Captain." Then he proceeded to instruct his personnel on getting the stasis chamber to the docking port. Jace wanted to be there, as did the twins, but Dr. Tom asked that they stay away to be positive the transfer went off without a hitch.
Jace sat on the floor outside of the Medical Bay and watched as best as he could. Tears were running down his face as the twins tried comforting him, "Daddy's going to be alright," Jason stated. "The stars told me so."
"Thank you, Jason, Pappy needed to hear that. I love you."
"Don't cry, Pappy," Jonas chimed in, "the stars told us both. We trust the stars, and we know Daddy will come home to us, but Megrez told us that he will be away for almost two weeks."
"Two weeks?" Jason cried. "I guess that's better than not coming home at all, but as soon as they let us, we WILL be visiting Daddy in the hospital."
After Jordan was on the Medical Transport and on the way to Space Fleet Medical, Dr. Tom approached Jace. "I know that was hard on you and you wanted to be with Jordan, but by staying here, you sped up Jordan's recovery. The good news is, Space Fleet Medical has seen this type of poisoning before, and they assure me that Jordan will make a full recovery."
"And the bad news?" Jace questioned. "Whenever someone say the 'good news,' it is always accompanied by the 'bad news.'"
"Not sure it's really bad, but they said he will need to stay in the hospital for about two weeks."
Jace started laughing and crying at the same time as he hugged his boys, "I guess Megrez was right on everything." Tom gave him a funny look. "The boys just told me that Megrez assured them that Jordan would be coming home in about two weeks."
"Next time I have a puzzling patient," Dr. Tom joked, "maybe, I should call on Dr. Megrez." Everyone laughed.
"So, when can I see him?" Jace inquired.
"There is an observation room just off his room. You can see him, but he won't even know you are there. The hospital has assured me, you can spend the night there, and then around 0800 tomorrow, you may be able to visit. For the first few days, they want to maintain a low visitation, just you and the two boys , or maybe Jordan’s parents, for no more than three hours four times a day. After that, others may visit."
"Can you take us to the observation room?"
"I already have Crewman Gillespie preparing the Leonardo, Jordan's favorite shuttle, I believe."
"Yeah, when we watched TMNT, Leonardo was always our favorite. Mainly because he wears the blue mask and fights with shinobitoes."
"I thought he fought with swords," Tom questioned.
"A shinobito is the Japanese name for a ninjato, or rather the shinobi or ninja's sword."
When Jace and the boys arrived, they were greeted by Kash, Mason, Hal, Dave, Jordan's parents, Kash's parents and a few others. "Any word, yet?" Hal asked.
"Dr. Tom assured me that SFM has seen this type poisoning before. They are 100% sure he will make a full recovery but needs to stay in the hospital for around two weeks."
"That is good news," Hal smiled for the first time since Jordan got injured.
Jace felt dizzy and had to sit down… Jace, I may not be Darastixian, but somehow I can sense your presence. I think Megrez is allowing me to. He assures me that I will be alright.
Jace smiled and thought, So much for him not knowing I am here. He looked at Tom, "Jordan said he can sense my presence, and Megrez assured him he will be alright."
"I really need to hire Megrez onto my staff." Dr. Tom and Jace laughed.
Yes, Jordan, I am here and so are the boys, Jace thought. Megrez has already told Jonas and Jason that you would be alright. You would have been proud at how they assured me that I needn't worry. They love you so much, as do I.
And I love all three of you. I need to sleep now, but I hope to see you soon. And with that, Jordan dozed off.
"Jordan just went to sleep," Jace announced. "I want to thank all of you for being here. I will be sure to let Jordan know how much you all care."
Kash walked up to Jace, "How are you holding up?"
"Knowing Jordan will recover, better than I was. Who's this?"
Kash looked at Mason, "This is my boyfriend, Mason. He will be joining us on the Sooloo."
"Mason, are you sure you want to hook up with this guy?" Jace teased. "I mean, if he's anything like his cousin, he will never let you forget how much he loves you, and he will want to kiss you often…" Kash chose that time to kiss Mason. "See?"
"He's right, you know," Kash whispered.
"I am a billion times sure," Mason replied.
Hal walked up to Jace, but Kash grabbed his attention. "Captain, this is Mason Brooks."
"Mason Brooks," Hal looked thoughtful, "I believe you were supposed to report to the Sooloo today, but the Victorious never made the trip."
"Sir, I went to the Officer in charge and asked if I could go on the Mars instead of the Victorious. He told me that I would do neither as the Sooloo was heading to Earth, Sir.
Hal laughed, "Relax Ensign. We don't stand on such formalities unless warranted, and I was just having some fun at your expense. I suggested that they keep you here to save the Victorious a trip."
"Phew," Mason chuckled. "Kash told me that you didn't, but I thought I was in trouble and formalities were warranted."
"Hal, Mason and I would like for you to marry us."
"But I am already married and don't need two more husbands," Hal joked.
Mason explained, "No, he means we would like for you to perform our ceremony."
"I knew what he meant, Mason, but as serious as everyone here had been with concern over Jordan, I thought some jesting was much needed. I would be happy to do it. When would you like to get married?"
"I want Jordan to be my best man, so after he is out of the hospital and before we leave so Mason's brother can be his."
"Jordan should be out on Saturday, the thirtieth, so would you like for me to schedule it on the thirty-first?"
"That sounds great, Captain," Mason commented until he saw Hal giving him the stink-eye. "Hal."
"We understand you wanting to spend the night here tonight, but after you are able to visit with Jordan, you will be sleeping at our house."
Jace smiled, "Thank you, Mom and Dad Rivers. I'm sure Jordan would agree with you. Thing is, the boys have classes for a few more days, so I think you two should take the 0800 hours visits. The boys and I can visit at 1400 hours. The two of you should visit at 2000 hours, and I don't mind visiting at 0200 hours."
"Tomorrow is Sunday, you take the 0800 visit with both boys, and we can take the 1400 with one of the boys. Then we will take the 2000-hour visit with the other boy. 0200 is too late for the boys, especially if they have classes Monday morning," Jessica Rivers insisted. "After that, we can work something out."
"I love you both," Jace cried. "I know how much you want to see him, but I thank you for thinking of me and the boys."
"As you know, it's what parents do."
James agreed with his wife and simply nodded as she spoke. He looked at Jace, "You and the boys get some rest. Jessica and I are heading home to prepare the rooms for you and the boys. We will expect you a little after 1100."
"Yes, Dad," Jace smiled.
The door chimed and Koji ran to answer it. He opened the door and shouted "EDUARDO!!!"
"Koji," Eduardo returned. "I understand that you want to take a new brother and some friends to the places we went last time."
"Uh huh," Koji confirmed.
Eduardo suggested, "Great, why don't we head out, and I will let you explain everything to them. I will only offer any information you might leave out."
"I won't leave anything out," Koji spouted confidently.
"Koji," Kyle began, "you have an excellent memory, but there might be things you don't feel are important and do leave out."
"But if they aren't important…" Koji was interrupted.
"Just because they are not important to you doesn't mean they won't be important to the others."
Koji nodded his head, "Koji gets that."
Corey and Gordy were heading out, too. Gordy told Danny and Kyle that he was going to show Corey some of the places he liked from their visit. Danny looked at Kyle, "So what are WE going to do?"
Kyle didn't say a word but led Danny back to their bedroom. Kyle slowly removed Danny's clothes, kissing each body part as it was exposed. Once he was naked, Danny began stripping Kyle. As he kissed down his husband’s body, Danny paused in the pubis region. He took a good look and smiled. "Babe… you have something a bit different down here."
Kyle was a little confused. "What are you talking about?" he inquired.
Danny just smiled and reached down. The next thing Kyle knew he felt something pulling at his skin. Immediately, he knew what had happened. Kyle looked down, and for the first time, saw a few wispy hairs growing at the base of his favorite toy.
Kyle got a big grin on his face before saying, "Now you're not the only one in our family to have some."
Danny took Kyle into his arms and hugged him tightly. "I love you, Kyle. Shall we continue where we left off?"
"Mom, Dad, I am so happy to see you," Jordan smiled weakly. "And Jason, where's Jonas?"
"We were under the impression that only three could visit at a time," Jessica Rivers explained.
"That's actually three adults, or two adults and no more than two children," Nurse Chance Convoy informed. "And seeing Jason and Jonas earlier, those two are always welcome. It's obvious how much they love their daddy."
"Thank you, Nurse Chance," Jason giggled.
"Chance is my nurse from 0800 to 1600, but only weekends," Jordan frowned. "He gives amazing sponge baths." Chance gave Jordan a smile.
"Are you eating enough?" Jessica inquired. "You look so thin."
"I eat plenty, Mom," Jordan chuckled. "In fact, I just finished a bowl of beef stew before you arrived." He pointed over at the empty bowl waiting to be taken away.
"And tonight, you'll be having galaxy-class lasagna," Chance chuckled. "Some kid from one of the Explorer Fleet ships was making it earlier. I think his name is Randy."
"He's from MY ship," Jordan laughed.
"That explains it," Chance grinned. "He was asked to make it for the hospital, and only agreed if YOU get a double portion."
"Is it that shimmy lasagna?" James asked. Jordan nodded. "Jessica, we should stop at the cafeteria and get some to take home for dinner."
"Sounds good to me," Jessica grinned, "I won't have to cook, and we know that Jace and the boys love it."
The boys were sleeping, preparing for their last week of classes before being out on break for two months. Jace went to visit Jordan, but he wasn't alone. Kash and Mason asked if they could join him. They stopped at the Nurses' Station. "I just wanted to thank you," Jace declared. "I know this is an odd time to be visiting, but…"
"But nothing," Nurse Chris McDonald interrupted. "With Jordan's condition, splitting his visitation like the doctors did is beneficial for him. He sleeps three hours, gets visitors three hours and so forth. He's waving at me, telling me to send you in. Dr. Black is with him right now."
Jace, Kash and Mason walked into the room. Dr. Black turned around and Jace gave him a funny look. "Have I seen you before?" Jace inquired.
"I seriously doubt it," Dr. Black replied. "I have an eidetic memory, so I would know if we ever met."
"But you look so familiar," Jace argued.
"Don't you see it, Jace?" Jordan questioned. "He's you, only older."
Dr. Hunter Black replied first, "That's nonsense. How could I possibly look like your husband when we are not related?" Then Dr. Black looked at Jace. "Are you by any chance Darastixian?"
Jace nodded, "I'm half Darastixian. You?"
"My ship left Darastix with three others," the doctor explained. "Medici was in charge of the group, but our ship was thrown from the group somehow. It took us nearly two hundred years to reach Earth. I was born on the ship just before we did. When we finally arrived in Earth's year 2084. Medici told us, they spent ten years trying to find us before finishing their journey to Earth."
"So, you are forty-six?" Jace questioned. "I just turned sixteen on the eleventh."
"Of May?" Dr. Black was stunned. "That's MY birthday."
"Are you of the Kokuryuu Family lineage?" Jace inquired.
Dr. Black nodded, "Kokuryuu was my great grandfather. My grandfather was Kashé. And my father was Kokuryuu II"
Jace shook his head quickly as if he were clearing out cobwebs, "Kashé was my great grandfather. So, you are full Darastixian, and my first…"
"Yes," Dr. Black confirmed, "and first cousin once removed."
Jordan looked at Kash and Mason, "Who do we have here?"
"This is Mason." Kash explained how they met and that they were getting married. He also told Jordan that he would like for him to be the best man.
"When is the wedding?" Jordan asked. "If I am able, I would love to be your best man."
According to Dr. Tom and Megrez," Kash grinned, "you'll be out around the thirtieth, so Hal is planning the wedding to be on the thirty-first."
"If he keeps improving like he is," Dr. Black averred, "He may even be released by the twenty-eight or ninth."
"Commander Rivers. It's good to see you again. Have you been waiting long?"
"No, Sir," Kash replied, "I knew you got in around 0800, so I arrived at 0758."
"To what do I owe this pleasure?" Rawlings inquired.
"Why did you assign Crewman Alex Grainger to the Sooloo?"
"Well… The SS Sooloo is the best in the Explorer Program, so I figured if anyone could straighten him out, they can."
"Sir, are you aware that Ensign Mason Brooks is also assigned to the Sooloo? And Saturday night, Crewman Grainger made an ass of himself at the restaurant Mason and I were eating at. Sorry, for the language, Sir, but…"
Rawlings cut him off as his face fell, "I totally understand. As for your question, no, I am only aware of the Crewmen assignments. I will be sure to give Grainger a different assignment. Thank you for bringing this to my attention."
"Thank you, Sir, for handling this."
"Thank you for asking to see me, Sir," Crew Grainger began as he walked into Rawlings' Office. "I need to ask for reassignment. I just discovered that my ex will be on the Sooloo."
I bet you were, Captain Rawlings thought but said nothing. What he did say was, "A member of a ship had just passed away and they need an immediate replacement. Report in two days to the space port and you'll be brought to her."
"May I know the name of the ship, Sir?"
"Her name is the Chiri'kuta. She's actually a Space Fleet vessel but not in the Explorer Program; I'm sure you will fit in perfectly. You will be assigned to operations, so you will probably work just about everywhere on the ship."
Alex wondered where he'd heard that name before. Then it struck him, it was when he helped other cadets teasing some of the younger ones. "Sir? Isn't that ship a garbage hauler?"
"Crewman, it is, and I hope you don't get mistaken for cargo."
"I just received a text from Captain Rawlings," Kash declared. "Alex won't be on the Sooloo. The good captain assigned him to the Chiri'kuta instead."
"Did you say the Chiri'kuta?" Mason asked. "That ship has a very scary reputation."
"I think I've heard it," Kash nodded. "If I remember correctly, all new crewmembers get fucked by the entire current crewmembers before they may start working."
"That's the rumor," Mason averred. "Don't get me wrong, but I wouldn't wish that on anyone, not even Alex."
"I totally understand," Mason began caressing Kash's shoulders. "I wouldn't wish it on anyone either, but someone needs to fill their vacancy, and if not Alex, who?"
Mason smiled, "If you put it that way, I guess Alex is the best choice."
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