Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Chapter 4

Ewa Beach, O'ahu; CSPRD Main Base

Saturday, October 30, 5:45 PM

In only a few minutes, Anahola Bay beach was emptied of all people, ferrets, G-Cats, gorillas and Teddy Bears thanks to Daileass, the Endeavour's transporters and Peter Lambert. Everyone was transported to the north end of the outdoor recreation area, near where fourteen gas barbeque grills had been installed. The first buildings seen were the massive Command Information Center and the attached auditorium.

Donnie had already prepared a quartermaster team to organize the C.I.C. kitchen. Daileass began transporting food directly into the walk-in freezers, refrigerators and pantries as soon as Kenny Butler and Frankie Long were ready and requested the transports.

Donnie, Kaleo, Tory and the group of rescued kids began their tour with the expansive outdoor recreation area and its six sand volleyball courts. Prez, the remaining core Rimmers and their families were following Emily on a tour of the housing area. They walked across the double-wide base driveway onto the sidewalk and turned left around the exterior of the first of four homes. In the distance, about five hundred feet away, a row of town-homes were seen.

"Your days of carrying house keys are over," Emily grinned. Leading the families to the first house's door, she explained, "These doors use voice-print analysis and fingerprints for access. We'll program each home for the family members later, but right now, you only need to choose which home will be for which family. They're all very much the same, except for color schemes in various rooms, but once your personal belongings are delivered, they will easily become a home."

"It's easily twice the size of our other home!" Mrs. Seaver excitedly giggled.

Prez said, "According to Lieutenant Vorik, they're about three thousand square feet and have full basements." Pausing while Emily unlocked the door using voice over ride, Prez followed everyone else inside the entryway, then continued, "They said there would be some basic furnishings..."

"Basic?" Mr. and Mrs. Seaver laughed. The entryway floor was finished with ceramic tile and the walls were a very pale frost-green color. Above them, inside the entry, hung a beautiful crystal chandelier. Mike, Derrick, Drew, Corey, John and Bruce hurried up the carpeted stairs.

"This is beautiful!" Mrs. Seibert cheered.

Stepping into the living room, Emily smiled, "The Vulcans know that us humans like earth tones and bright cheery spaces. Everything's been based on generalized psychological evaluations, from the carpet and floorings to the paints used on the walls and ceilings." The living room walls were sky blue and the thick carpet was grass-green with small brown and tan splotches, making it appear very much like the outdoors. Furnishings included a sectional sofa that could easily fit eight adults comfortably, a teak coffee table and matching lamp tables. There was also a sixty-inch flat screen television, DVD/VHS combo and surround sound speakers. All the adults, Keith and Prez followed Emily through the dining room, furnished with a massive table for twelve, and into the kitchen.

"I love it!" Jennifer Hundser finally said. "Even the window treatments are lovely!"

The eat-in kitchen walls were a soft pastel yellow on the top with a chair rail at thirty inches off the floor, and the bottom third of the walls seemed to be genuine oak paneling. Glancing around at the oversized refrigerator, stove, oven and microwave, Jim Hundser wondered. "All the houses are like this?"

Emily answered, "The town-homes are slightly smaller but they have the same psychological schemes, functional furnishings and appliances, just on a scale appropriate for that size home."

Racing down the stairs, the boys were loudly laughing and commenting on what they had seen in the upstairs bedrooms.

Grinning from ear-to-ear as he entered the kitchen, Mike looked into his parents' eyes and chuckled, "Ya know that master bedroom suite you always hoped for? It's upstairs; the room's gotta be thirty-feet by forty-feet! There's a king-sized bed, beautiful dresser and chest of drawers, and the master-bath..." Mike laughed, "You've got a shower, tub and a huge whirlpool tub that could easily fit four adults!"

"There's also two recliners and your own entertainment center!" Derrick giggled.

Drew smiled, "The other four bedrooms and bathrooms up there ain't nothin' to sneeze at either!"

Enthusiastically nodding, Corey added, "There's bookshelves, computers, desks, stereos and TVs in every room."

Drew suggested, "Let's check out the basement," and began looking for the correct door.

While the families continued inspecting their new home, Donnie led the pack of kids to the indoor recreation facility, through it and into the pool house. They were soon surrounding the Olympic-sized pool and fifty foot diameter circular diving well. Kaleo and Tory didn't wait for permission before stripping their clothes off. Tory raced over to the slide and Kaleo climbed the ladder to the five-meter high diving board. Soon, half the kids were naked again and jumping in the pool with their Teddy bears. Most of the others just dove in clothes and all. The remaining twenty or so kids were quite happy watching the others and chatting with their new Teddy bears. What was most amazing was that the Teddy bears were swimming and acting as flotation devices for their new best friends. They were also programmed in first aid and, if necessary, could resuscitate their child.

The adults had finished learning about their new living arrangements and decided they had better get started cooking and feeding the masses. All the adults and the four oldest Rimmers were conscripted to cook and they began the trip back to the outdoor recreation area. Emily notified Kenny and Frankie to get burgers, hot dogs, sausages, chicken and everything else ready to feed the Clan.

Once they reached the grills, they looked over and saw something that made all of them stop. First of all, walking towards them were two kids; one of them appeared to be only eight years old, and the other appeared thirteen. With them was a rather short-furred critter walking upright with extremely long legs and arms. The Rimmers had met the gorillas, ferrets, and G-Cats; now it was time for them to meet their first Chimp.

However, while he was slightly interesting, what came behind the group of three was even more interesting. Lumbering behind them were fifteen vehicles. They were about six feet tall, three feet wide and eight feet long. They looked like bright boxes on top of two independent rubber Caterpillar-style tracks.

When they got close to the grills, the Chimp pointed to the different grills and each of the lumbering boxes went to a grill, with the final one staying with the Chimp. The Chimp then climbed up onto the top of the remaining box and spoke loud enough for everyone to hear. "Okay everyone, these are Smart Shelves. They are all voice-operated so anything you need, just say what it is, and the drawer that it is in will open. Please make sure you put things back where you got them. These are also partially refrigerated, which means some of the compartments, the ones holding the meats, cheeses, and other things to be kept cold, are refrigerated. If you run out of something, it will go back to the kitchens and get it. They also have four slots that are heated so that what you cook will stay warm. If you have any questions, feel free to ask Frankie, Kenny, or myself. By the way, you guys can just call me Chef."

Glancing at Jim Hundser, Rob Gibbons smirked, "Gorillas, G-Cats, ferrets and now chimps!"

"At least he's dressed," Jim Hundser softly chuckled, "not like the chimps at the zoo at all."

"All right folks," Bill Seaver loudly said, "Chicken takes the longest to cook, so let's start with them."

Then all the adults and the four eldest Rimmers moved to man a grill.

Harry's mother, Abbie Johnson, came over to Rob Gibbons and said, "I have many years of experience as a short order cook. I can help."

"Thank you, Abbie. With over three hundred to feed, we'll take all the help we can get," Rob Gibbons smiled.

"I'll take the last two grills then," Abbie offered and started for her stations.

Drew and Corey went to Bill Seaver. Corey asked, "How can we help, dad?"

Bill Seaver thought for a moment then answered, "You guys can just take it easy for a while. Once we start the burgers, hot dogs and sausages, you two can get the buns ready. If kids don't start smelling food and come running, you two can spread the word and get everyone."

Drew nodded and suggested, "I can hear them, let's go find 'em, Cor."

As they started to walk away, Corey softly giggled, "We're the Bun Rimmers!"

Laughing hysterically, Drew playfully shoved Corey and chortled, "Spread 'em!" Corey howled.

Everyone at the grills turned to their automated Smart Shelves and in their own words commanded, 'give me chicken'. Shelves opened with chicken parts and grills were loaded down with breasts, legs, thighs and wings.

Closest to Chef, Prez said, "We're gonna need barbeque sauce." Unexpectedly, a drawer opened loaded with bottles of sauce. Staggering back, Prez chuckled, "Sweet!" and closed the drawer. Keith noticed that Prez was just commanding the Smart Shelves unit to see what he had available. Keith turned to his Smart Shelves unit and did the same, since he had the time while the chicken cooked. Soon all the others were testing their Smart Shelves. They had everything necessary in the drawers; all the meats and fish and barbeque sauce. It would only take time to finish the chicken, then they could move on. Loudly, so everyone could hear, Prez asked, "Hey Chef, when we get food cooked and these units start moving out and replacing themselves, what's the plan?"

Chef answered, "Start getting everyone over to the C.I.C. dining room. Tables will be set with all the condiments and it'll be like any other cafeteria; kids go through the line, get what they want and go find a seat."

"Kewl beans," Prez smiled, "thanks, man."

Chef grinned madly and playfully retorted, "Chef or Chimp, not man. Chimps designed these Smart Shelves, not man."

Prez giggled, "That's awesome! Maybe a couple of you chimps might like to stick around here in paradise?"

"Thank you for the offer," Chef nodded. "I'll ask my team and anyone that wishes may remain here."

At the pool, Drew and Corey found themselves surrounded by all the kids and Teddy bears that chose not to go swimming. The group told Drew and Corey about all the great stuff they had already been shown by Donnie before the pool was discovered. A few of them, including four-year-old Kokaku Kidotai, five-year-old Geoffrey Eckel and ten-year-old Dee Vanderwood, took their new leaders into the indoor recreation facility. The building itself was absolutely beautiful with exterior walls that seemed to be made of a polarized transparent material that neither boy had ever seen before. Drew and Corey were amazed at all the stuff inside. There were handball courts, a sixteen-lane bowling alley, weights and Nautilus equipment, separate showers and latrines for boys and girls as well as sauna rooms and a fully stocked equipment room. In the pool house, they found changing rooms and a jacuzzi that could easily fit ten adults or twenty kids. Everything they saw was as good or better than any health club or YMCA.

Drew and Corey went back to the barbeque grills and shared what they had learned with Keith and Prez. While the head Rimmer and his partner went to check out the other facilities, Drew and Corey manned their grills. When Prez and Keith returned, Mike and Derrick went. By the time Mike and Derrick returned, the first batch of chicken was cooked. Sausages by the dozens were placed on the grills next.

Drew and Corey were feeling very happy with their new homes and shared their enthusiasm while they went from Smart Shelf to Smart Shelf offering to spread buns. The adults were considering which house would be chosen and for which family. Since all the houses were similar, the only choice to be made was based on who needed to be closest to the dorms in the event of an emergency. Based on that criteria, the Hundsers' and Gibbons' homes would be closest to the dorms. The Seiberts' and the Seavers' homes would be closest to the outdoor recreation area. Closest to the pool would be the Gibbons and Seavers.

After Mike had flipped the sausages on his grill, he turned to Derrick and asked, "Have you seen Spike or any of the ferrets?"

Derrick giggled, "Shiny Daddy misses his ferret kiddies?"

Mike laughed, "They're ferrets! Spike got my guitar pick without me even noticing! Since I don't see a single ferret, something's goin' on somewhere, I just know it!"

"Thank goodness Adam laid down the law earlier," Derrick smiled. "The islands would be stripped bare of all shinnies within a day!"

Moving between Mike and Derrick, Prez softly reminded, "We're going to have to lay down some laws of our own. Imagine our mothers taking off their wedding rings to shower and having them disappear? The screams would be heard all over the island!"

Mike nodded, "Good point and very true." Street lamps around the complex began to automatically turn on with the darkening sky.

Adam and Logan walked up to Prez with a PADD. "These are the operating procedures for the C.I.C. Command Center," Adam explained. He paused and called over Keith, Drew and Corey then gave each of them a PADD containing the manual. "Okay," Adam began, "everything you need to know about the Command Center is in this. It may refer you to the manuals in the Command Center for highly technical stuff, like wiring, cabling and software, but the basics are right here in this. Only the Toy Rimmers will probably ever need to see the tech manuals." Flipping quickly through the screens of information, Adam described, "The manual begins with a table of contents and has a really extensive index at the end. You'll never have a problem finding what you need. Then we have a floor plan of the entire C.I.C. As you'll see on the floor plan, there are several main rooms; the Command Center itself, a recreation room, a dining room, conference rooms and kitchen. Also, there are bathrooms, closets, an equipment room and a server room." Looking up and making eye contact with Drew, Adam said, "You've got Mac servers and Linux servers already configured. They're up and running; your Command Center is now fully connected to the other Clan divisions.

"Also, in the server room, are test beds for both the Mac Platform and Linux platform. If you find out something's not working well or is not already installed, create and test your software updates on the test beds. Do not ever make changes directly to main servers without first notifying C.I.C. Orlando. If we like your upgrades and they test out successfully across all the C.I.C. test platforms, we'll roll 'em out to the main servers and you'll get credit for your work."

Drew nodded and smiled, "Sweet! Can I hook up my own Linux workstation to the test bed? That way I can work from home, if I need to."

"Not a problem on the test bed," Adam assured, "Cory and Sean Short do similar stuff."

Logan sternly repeated and warned, "Always do your work on the test bed. All the Command Centers are interconnected. Unknown software will be automatically identified and removed from the primary servers. There goes all your hard work, into the bit bucket."

"Yikes!" Drew softly groaned.

"The Command Center uses Mac workstations," Adam continued. "It's all intuitive stuff. There are icons on the desktop to accomplish tasks you'll need to use almost every day, from communications to database searches. Some stuff is voice activated too, so you won't even have to type in commands. Our stuff is state of the art integrating Vulcan technology. Most American corporations haven't come close to stuff we use all the time."

Noticing the expressions on all the core Rimmers' faces, Logan grinned, "Everyone has that worried look again! Take it easy; you'll be surprised how easy this equipment is to operate. If you ever get lost, just contact Daileass, and he'll get someone here to walk you through it."

Scanning quickly through the PADD's screens, Prez noticed, "There's only a hundred pages here and a third of 'em are the contents and index."

"None of it's highly technical, in here anyways," Drew smiled.

"We'll have some reading to do tonight though," Keith sighed.

"Don't worry, bro," Drew teased, and backed up a few steps, "I'll help you through all them big two- and three-syllable words!"

While everyone else giggled, Keith squinted at Drew and warned, "Ready for another telepathic ice bath?"

"Noooooooo!" Drew laughed.

Jim Hundser loudly called, "The sausages should be done now, boys."

"Okay, dad," Prez chuckled. Facing Adam and Logan again, Prez smiled, "Dinner should be ready in another half an hour or so."

"Kewl," Adam grinned evilly, "See ya later." He and Logan then walked off in the direction of the pool.

Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick chanted, "See ya," then turned their attentions to the grills.

In the distance, they could see some of the younger kids with their Teddy bears coming across the field towards them. Bringing up the rear and appearing to be an escort for the younger and smaller kids was Reyes. Prez began giggling at the Teddy bears because they seemed to be struggling to keep up on their short legs. John, Bruce and Lindsay were in the pack too.

Geoffrey went over to Drew while Richie went to Prez. Dee went to Keith, Kokaku went to Jennifer Hundser, Carmella went to Jim Hundser and six year old Dillon Helde went to Mike. Reyes and his shadow Jonah went directly to Derrick. All the kids were getting hungry again. Through his comm-badge, Prez called Kaleo. "Prez to Kaleo." It took longer than expected for Kaleo to reply, clearly indicating Kaleo was at least shirtless.

A few seconds later, Kaleo said, "Hey, Prez."

"Dinner will be ready soon, Kaleo," Prez said. "Get the tribe over to the C.I.C. dining room. Let them get started on the salads or whatever else is there...."

"No snack foods, Preston," Jennifer Hundser forcefully reminded.

Prez giggled, "Mom says no cookies or other snacks, real food only."

"I'll try to control their sugar addictions," Kaleo snickered; "it'll prob'ly be a lost cause though!"

"Do the best ya can," Prez smiled. "If I see you running from a pack of hungry cookie monsters and their Teddy bears, I'll know you lost the battle." Richie had wrapped an arm around his thigh. Prez smiled down at the boy that had attached himself.

Kaleo laughed, "Over and out!"

While loading grills with hamburgers, the core Rimmers and their parents heard out of sync chorus' of "YAAAAAAYYY!"

"We're going to be over run!" Rob Gibbons nervously laughed.

Off to one side, Jonas from the Northeast Division motioned to his partner, Harry and to the little Mikyvis Peter. They talked in low tones for a few moments, and then Peter disappeared.

Once the grill was full of hamburgers, Prez smiled down at Richie and asked, "Ya hungry, little dude?"

Richie nodded and asked, "Can I have supper with you?"

"I'd like that, Richie," Prez assured, and then glanced over at Keith. Sitting on the grass barely a foot away from Keith was Dee, having a conversation with his Teddy bear. Keith smiled at Prez and shrugged.

"Hey Richie?" Prez softly said. The boy looked up and smiled. Prez asked, "Do you know your birthday?"

Richie nodded, "Febr'ary fifteemph."

"You're almost six! Wow, you're gonna be a big boy before we know it!" In the distance, Prez noticed that some kids were now moving from the pool through the housing area into the domed C.I.C.

"I guess," Richie giggled.

"What's your Teddy's name?"

"I named him RG2... my initials and my second part."

RG2 asked Richie, "Is Prez your daddy?"

"No!" Richie giggled, "Prez is our leader."

"You look kinda the same," RG2 noticed, "red hair, blue eyes and tanned skin."

Richie looked up at Prez and shouted, "HEY! He's right!" After a short thoughtful pause, Richie looked up and softly asked, "Would you be my daddy, Prez?"

Keith heard Richie's question and nodded at Prez. "Sure, Richie!" Prez beamed. "As soon as Keith and me get married, you can be our son."

Dee was near enough to hear and posed the same question to Keith. "Definitely," Keith assured, "then you and Richie can be brothers. Would you like that?"

Richie and Dee cheered and hurried to each other. Richie laughed, "You're gonna be my big bro soon!"

Dee giggled, "And you're gonna be my little bro!"

Jennifer Hundser loudly complained, "Would you all please wait for my fortieth birthday before turning me into a grandmother?" Jim Hundser howled.

"She's gonna be our grandma?" Dee queried.

Prez nodded and Keith pointed at his father saying, "And that's Grandpa Jim!"

"YAAAAAAAYYY!" Richie and Dee cheered and spun each other around, and their Teddy bears bounced up and down happily. After the two little boys ran over to their soon-to-be grandparents, they introduced their Teddy bears, RG2 and Eddie.

This topic of conversation and the resulting celebration opened a can of worms; four-year-old Kokaku and Carmella wanted to be adopted by Jim and Jennifer Hundser; Dillon, Reyes and Jonah wanted to be adopted by Mike and Derrick. The Gibbons' teased the Hundsers but the Seavers hoped that one of the kids would latch onto them. It didn't matter if it was a little boy or a little girl, they would even consider adopting one of each.

Dee sat in the grass close to Prez. Richie sat beside Dee but close to Keith.

While carefully flipping the hamburgers, Prez asked, "Dee, you're ten, right?"

Dee nodded and said, "The Vulcan doctor says I'm under...nearished... or somethin' like that. That's why I'm not so big yet."

Becoming concerned, Prez asked, "Did the doc say you needed special foods or vitamins?"

Shaking his head, Dee answered, "He jus' says I need to eat more better and check with umm... a kid doctor." He paused and scowled, "Not sure what that means."

"It means you need to see a pediatrician," Prez smiled. "It's okay, we'll make sure you eat plenty and see the doc as soon as possible."

Dee frowned, "They scare me."

Keith asked, "Doctors scare you?" Dee nodded and Keith took him by the hand saying, "Try not to be scared, okay? We'll all see the doc at the same time. Anything the doc wants you to do, he'll do to me and Prez and Richie too. That way we all know we're in good health." Keith noticed that Josiah Brewster was talking softly to their fathers while Maureen McConnaghay was whispering to their mothers.

Janet was nearby and heard the conversations that the kids were having. She walked over and was about to talk to the kids, but the kids immediately hid behind Keith and Prez preventing her from approaching. She immediately backed off, and motioned Prez over.

She quietly said, "Obviously these kids don't trust adults and won't allow me to check them over, but I do have an idea."

"You're not thinking about drugging them, are you?" Prez wondered, becoming a bit defensive.

She held up her hand in surrender and spoke quickly to try and ease his fears. "No, it's nothing like that. There is a fully trained doctor in the Clan that is only nine years old in appearance. If you'll allow it, I'll call him in." She said, and then paused and teased, "Daddy!"

Prez blushed and giggled, "Sorry. Go ahead and give that doc a ring."

"Don't worry about it, I would probably have done the same thing," she said, and tapped her brand new communicator badge to call Orlando C.I.C. "Doctor Janet Hayes to Orlando C.I.C."

"Go ahead, Doctor," Seth responded.

"I was wondering if Antonio was available to check out two kids," Janet softly said, "Both suffering from at least undernourishment, but there may be other things going on. Neither child will allow an adult anywhere near them. I know he's probably asleep, and if he is, don't wake him, but if he's up, please get him for me."

Seth queried, "Doctor Hayes, do you believe this to be urgent?"

Janet considered for a moment, then made her mind up. "Yes, I do."

"Very well, Antonio will not mind being woke up for that. I will let him know, and he will be there shortly. Orlando C.I.C. out."

Janet nodded towards Prez and smiled then moved away from the grills and the two boys. Prez moved near to the grill and Dee hurried over from his hiding place behind Keith. Kneeling down, Prez softly assured, "It’s okay, Dee, she's a nice doctor, but we're gonna find an even better one, just for you. Do you feel safer now?"

Dee nodded but attached himself to Prez anyhow. Standing, Prez began adding cheese to the burgers on his grill, while Dee watched Janet like she was the wicked witch of the west. After only a minute or so, Prez turned to the Smart Shelf and commanded, "I need hamburger buns." A shelf opened and Prez began picking up buns and sliding cooked cheeseburgers onto them. As Prez was about to complete the burgers on his grill, a shimmer of light appeared next to Janet.

Antonio appeared with cookies in one hand and a glass of chocolate milk in the other. His clothes consisted of sandals and Transformers boxers, with his med kit on a belt around his waist. "Kewl! Burgers to wash down my cookies with! Who are the kids that need a real doctor, not a fossil?"

"I HEARD THAT!" Janet laughed and ruffled the little boy's hair. She then pointed him towards the two boys.

"Oh! You still have your hearing? Kewl!" He giggled as he ran over and away from any form of retaliation.

"And I still have my memory too, you little brat. I get kids like you back!"

Handing his cookies to the two children he had come to see, he whined in his best little boy voice, "You pwomise?"

Janet reminded, "You're almost as old as I am, little man!"

"Yes, but I, unlike you, haven't let myself go yet!" Antonio giggled, causing the other kids to laugh loudly.

Janet stood there speechless for a moment, then, "You're grounded, mister. No cookies for a month!"

Antonio took another bite of his cookie, while giving Janet his best 'Spock' eyebrow raise, then he took a long slurp of his chocolate milk. Putting the empty glass down in a safe spot, he grinned, "Right." He giggled as she also cracked up. He turned back to the two kids, "Hi! I'm 'Tonio."

"Hi Tonio, I'm Dee."

"And I'm Richie, Dee's brand new li'l bro."

Dee offered, "Prez and Keith are our new daddies. They says that we gotta all get checked up by a doc. Do you know any good docs?"

'Tonio giggled. "Kinda! You wanna help me check out this new toy Doctor McCoy gave me yesterday? We can see what it does!" He glanced up at Prez and Keith. "Daddies huh? When?"

"About fifteen minutes ago!" Keith chortled.

"It was a short pregnancy!" Prez played along.

"Hey great-great-great-great-great Granny Janet! Did you make it official?" Antonio said loud enough for almost everyone nearby to hear.

"Nope. Didn't know it happened. Give me a moment." She made a few entries into the tricorder. "Prez, Keith, you want the rug rats?"

Antonio rolled his eyes and sighed, "Memory issues, you get that when you are old."

"Yeah, but we kinda need to be married first," Keith grinned.

Prez laughed, "We had the kids on the sly! What's the diff?"

Janet looked at Tonio. "Can it, runt!" She looked at the kids and softly asked, "You want Prez and Keith as daddies?"

"You're just jealous because Doctor McCoy likes me!" Antonio giggled.

"YES!" Richie loudly stated.

Dee nodded, "Yup, me too!"

"Hmmm.... how many times did he pinch your butt? He's got mine at least fifty times." She said as she entered a few things into the tricorder then looked up with a smile. "Congratulations, Keith and Prez, it's boys. And it's official."

"Official?" Keith and Prez incredulously repeated.

Antonio giggled, "Next time, just do it yourselves. Old ladies talk too much!" and hid behind Prez.

Keith blubbered but made no sense at all. Prez asked, "Don't we need to be married first?"

Antonio giggled, "Nope! I've got a son, and By and me ain't hitched yet!" He reached into his bag and pulled out eight cards. "Uncle Harrison sent these to H.Q. to pass on to y'all."

Prez and Keith looked down at the cards they were handed. They were Starfleet identification cards; one for Prez, Keith, Mike, Derrick, Drew, Corey, John and Kaleo.

Keith wondered, "We're Starfleet Ensigns now, huh?"

"No. You're cooks now, you're Starfleet all the time." Antonio grinned. Dee and Richie held onto each other and shared a belly laugh. Mike and Derrick also began laughing.

Prez smirked, "Mike and Derrick, com'ere a sec." When they came over expecting a punch in the arm at least, Keith handed Mike his Starfleet ID. Prez handed an ID card to Derrick and playfully saluted, "Ensign Derrick Seibert, now you and your boyfriend get to adopt Dillon, Reyes and Jonah!"

"Oh yeah!" Janet said, as she pulled out some papers from her bag. She then handed them to Mike and Derrick. "Here are your official papers making you the Shiny Daddies to the Scooby Gang."

Mike and Derrick's jaws were now hanging on the ground. Surprised, they looked at each other and silently mouthed, "We're really parents!"

"I told ya, memory fails when you're OLD!" Antonio giggled.

"Yeah," Janet smirked, "keep at it, you little runt. You're only nine months younger then I am."

"And ninety years cuter!" Antonio shot back.

Janet smiled, "Yup! Oh and by the way, you're hanging out of your boxers."

"Hey, if you got it, why hide it?" Antonio blushed and giggled.

Prez then called Drew and Corey over. They finished loading cheeseburgers onto buns and hurried over. Prez and Keith handed them their ID cards. Prez giggled, "You've been promoted again, from Toy Rimmers and Bun Rimmers to Starfleet Ensigns. As soon as some kids decide they want your scrawny butts, and you decide that you want them, you can adopt kids too!"

Watching their jaws drop too, Keith laughed, "Misery loves company!"

Two new adult men appeared on the driveway just a few paces from the outdoor recreation area. They approached Jim Hundser and introduced themselves. The tallest and plumpest of them said, "Sir, my name is Charles Plungis." Pausing briefly to point to the shorter and thinner man near him, he continued, "and this is Miguel Fuery. We were head chefs at the Halekulani restaurant in Honolulu. We now work here."

Shaking their hands, Jim Hundser smiled, "My pleasure, gentlemen. I wasn't expecting you so quickly."

Charles nodded, "It wasn't expected, but the offer was too good to pass up."

"We've had our fill of snooty people and would be much happier working for Clan Short," Miguel Fuery said.

Charles said, "If you would please step aside, we'll take over dinner preparations."

Holding up his index finger to pause the two men, Jim Hundser said, "Preston and Keith, go spend time with your new family. You're relieved. Go to the C.I.C. dining room with the rest of the Clan."

"Dad," Keith scowled, "I was just about to start loading the grill with hot dogs."

Miguel asked, "Is that all we're preparing this evening, hot dogs and hamburgers?"

Jim nodded, "Mostly, and chicken and sausages for the kids. The adults are having grilled salmon and butterfly shrimp."

Charles and Miguel smiled widely and nodded at each other. Then Charles said, "We can easily manage two grills each."

"Of course!" Jim chuckled, "Mike and Derrick step aside and finish your adoptions. You're relieved to spend time with your new family too."

"Thanks, Mr. H.," the two boys said in unison. The four boys walked away from their grills. Charles and Miguel took over for them. Prez and Keith watched as Janet made Dillon, Reyes and Jonah officially the sons of Mike and Derrick. Then Antonio began 'playing' with Dee and Richie and his tricorder. Abbie introduced herself to the two new arrivals. Between the three of them, they now had all seven grills in that row in service and preparing dinner. Charles and Miguel were experimenting with their Smart Shelves. The spices that hadn't really been used before, simply to save time, would soon be professionally applied.

Soon the hotdogs were finished and in their buns. The last of the chicken parts, hamburgers, hotdogs and sausages were put on the grills. Two more men and a woman appeared on the driveway. They introduced themselves as Jessica Simpson, Randy Leister and Chris Desantis. They were chefs from the Kahala Hotel and Resort in Honolulu. They relieved the entire back row of adults and took over seven grills. In virtually no time the hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages were cooked. The new Clan chefs began grilling the salmon and butterfly shrimp. Six more people showed up and introduced themselves to Jim Hundser as chefs from Perth Amboy, New Jersey. They followed the other Clan adults to the C.I.C. and immediately went to work in the kitchen. Chicken and vegetable soups by the gallon were prepared. Chocolate and tapioca puddings were also whipped up. A green bean salad was made.

Five minutes before seven, a train of fourteen Smart Shelves began the trip to the C.I.C. kitchen. A small group of older kids were waiting outside the dining room and saw them coming. They went inside and announced the food was on the way. Ravenous, everyone went towards the kitchen serving areas and formed a line. Prez, Keith, Mike, Derrick, Drew and Corey were ecstatic watching their simple barbeque dinner turn into a professionally prepared meal by a team of eleven chefs. All the rescued kids, G-Cats, gorillas, and other visitors from Maine and Utah were quickly choosing their meals and moving through the line. Keith and Prez estimated that there were about two hundred and fifty mouths being fed. The only ones missing the feast were the ferrets. Mike and Derrick asked around but nobody had seen them since they arrived or even knew where they were.

While almost everyone was still seated and enjoying their meals, Juan excused himself and went back to the kitchen. Adam, Logan, Donnie and Emily were seated at a table not far from the core Rimmers, as one of the new chefs came out of the kitchen pushing a cart that held a single ten-gallon bucket. He went past Drew and Corey's table, then Mike and Derrick's table and Prez and Keith's table. He stopped at Adam and Logan's table and questioned, "Pardon me, please?"

Since Adam and Logan were in mid conversation, Donnie looked up and politely asked, "What can we do for you?"

"Is Mister Logan Hayes at this table?" the chef asked.

Logan looked up and said, "That's me."

The chef looked on quizzically, "A young gentleman named Juan Casey asked that I bring this to you, Sir. He said that you desperately needed it."

"Oh?" Logan innocently wondered, "What is it?"

"Barbeque sauce for your sausage, Sir."

Emily quickly covered her mouth. Donnie caught his head in his hands and softly snickered. All of the core Rimmers heard the chef, looked over and began giggling.

Shooting up from their chairs, Adam and Logan both screamed, "JUAN! YOU SONOFABITCH! WAIT TIL I GET MY HANDS ON YOU!"

Peeking around the wall separating the kitchen from the dining room, Juan laughed his ass off and bolted out the nearby dining room doors! Adam and Logan wove their way around tables and out the doors giving chase. Donnie and Emily could now laugh freely and soon most of the dining room was laughing hysterically. The poor chef was one of the last to catch on. "I thought ten gallons was quite a bit of barbeque sauce," he softly muttered, and then turned around to bring the bucket of sauce back to the kitchen. He received a warm round of applause from most of the UNIT. Waving and nodding occasionally, he realized that he wouldn't have to deal with aggravation from the rich and famous any longer. Now he only had to deal with childish pranks, which was a change for the better.

Finished with their dinners, Prez had Richie in his lap while Keith was cuddling Dee. Antonio came over and waved, "Hi guys, I got some good news and some not so good news." The boy doctor had Prez and Keith's undivided attention. "Richie here is in good health and so is Keith. Prez has a pretty bad sunburn on his shoulders, though."

"Oh no!" Richie squealed, "Daddy, do you feel okay?"

"I'm fine, little buddy," Prez assured.

Antonio handed Prez a tube of lotion and instructed, "Apply this three times a day and keep your shirt on in the sunlight."

Prez nodded and sighed, "Irish skin."

Keith asked, "How's Dee doin', doc?"

"He's not malnourished but is undernourished," Antonio said. "For now, let's just feed him as much as he wants and as often as he wants. Morning multivitamins would be good for both boys. I'll come by again in a week and check his progress. If he gains just a few pounds, two or three, every week, you'll soon see him sprout up and gain a little more weight." Antonio locked eyes with Dee, "Drink lots of milk, and snack on fruits and nuts. Do you know what diarrhea is?" Dee nodded and blushed. "If you ever get that way, let your daddies know right away. It's bad for everyone, but for you it could be real bad. Don't be embarrassed or hide it. Tell your dads so they can make sure it goes away fast." Turning to Keith and Prez, Antonio directed, "If Pepto or Imodium doesn't remedy the situation in six to eight hours, call me immediately."

Prez nodded, "Thanks, doc, we'll keep a close eye on him."

Keith grinned at Dee then tickled his belly and teased, "No! Loose! Poopies!"

Desperately trying to push Keith's hands away from his belly, Dee kicked his legs and laughed uncontrollably.

Richie giggled, "He's a silly daddy!"

Prez smiled, "That's one of the many reasons I love him."

The next table over, Mike was helping Jonah cut his chicken breast while Reyes was getting his first table drumming lesson from Derrick. While Mike counted out a four-four tempo, Derrick was teaching Reyes to use each arm and leg as independent entities; his right foot for the bass drum; his left foot for the hi-hat; the left arm for the snare and right arm for the ride cymbal.

Across the dining room, Lanna and Bill Seaver were sitting with Maureen and Josiah enjoying their dinner. Lanna Seaver said, "After I had given birth to Corey, the doctor said I shouldn't have more kids because it would be dangerous. Even though I wanted more, I had my tubes tied. For more than eleven years, Bill and I have considered adopting, but one thing or another kept us from pursuing it." She paused and giggled, "Now there are kids coming out of the woodwork! Part of me couldn't be happier."

"It's just so much so fast, quite a sudden change," Bill finished the thought for his wife.

"I know just what you mean," Maureen said with a smile. "Not long after Jonas was born, my ex started running around on me with a high school kid." She chuckled. "It's funny, this past week I welcomed her back to Arkham, because he took off on her too. But I never expected to have more than Jonas, until early this month when we found Clan Short in the middle of our lives."

"You need to roll with the punches, so to speak," Josiah added. "The kids are out to do the right thing, and they have the best possible equipment to do it. Vulcan discipline that they undertake willingly, positive peer pressure, and legal defenses against any possible problems. But, it is always a real shock to find all these changes in your lives."

He looked into the distance for a moment. "After my Annie died, I expected never to have children. Honestly, while I've loved Maureen almost from the moment I met her, a big part of what brought us together and kept us going was Jonas; he looked to me as the father figure he never had. But now, we were going to adopt Peter, then Friday we took Calvin, and a week ago we agreed to foster the fourteen other kids we brought with us; Joey, Jacky, Trent, Linda, and the rest. We just got them only about an hour before Peter brought us all out here to the Islands."

Anna Seibert softly said, "It's one thing for us to adopt and foster these kids. I'm having the most trouble accepting our kids adopting other kids."

"I'm at the same place too, Anna," Jennifer Hundser admitted. "While I'm playing it off as being too young to be a grandmother, the real issue is whether our teenagers are ready to be parents."

"They aren't, in the sense most people would mean it; the adults solely responsible for the kids' care, nurture, and upbringing," Josiah said. "But remember that lady with the catchphrase, 'It takes a village.' Their own parents will help, like any grandparents would, their friends will be there for them; there's a lot of mutual support with the other young parents. It's not like they're alone in an apartment trying to make enough money to take care of themselves and the kids, with nobody to turn to. They have the best possible support system, all around them. And the Clan exists specifically to make sure kids get what they deserve; loving families, so who better to give it than the Clan members themselves?

"Plus, you're a cop, Mr. Gibbons, right?" Josiah went on. Rob nodded. "Then you know the theory of how League and Federation law works with Hawaiian law?

"One element of that," he went on, "is that the leading House on Vulcan, the House of Surak, chartered Clan Short. That means the kids are acting according to Vulcan and Federation laws when they're functioning as Clan members; and Vulcan recognizes a young person as an adult when they show they're ready to undertake adult responsibilities; no nonsense about coming of legal age." He chuckled. "Actually, your kids are now all legal adults, as we just found out two days ago ourselves. As commissioned officers in Starfleet, they are now legal adults."

Harry's mother, Abbie piped up. "Something Maureen had to remind me of when I got to worrying about Harry too much. Did you eight do a good job of bringing up your boys?"

"Of course we did!" Laura Gibbons said. "They know right from wrong and have never been a burden on us or a threat to anyone else."

Abbie offered, "Then what you need to do now is to stop worrying and let them show you just what a good job you did; to make you proud by proving themselves to the world, walking in your footsteps to make the world a better place. That was the toughest lesson I've ever had to learn, worse even than losing my Bert or my little Deborah. Harry's all I've got. But I had to let him be who he needs and wants to be. And I couldn't be prouder of what all he's accomplished."

"We've both known it was time to cut the umbilical cord for years," Jim Hundser told Jennifer. "We've almost completely accomplished that with Keith and Preston. And we've come a long way with Drew." She nodded and realized that what her husband said was very true.

"Maybe that's part of my issue," Lanna Seaver admitted. "It's something I know needs to be done and I've tried, but part of me doesn't want to complete that process."

Bill asked, "Why do you have to complete it now? If Corey was eighteen, would it be complete? Would it ever really be complete?"

"We're seeing age, simple numbers as meaning that some process is complete," Rob Gibbons recognized.

"It's really not related to age," Carl Seibert nodded. "Our boys have always been ahead of the learning curves since before they formed their band, since before they met."

"Ours too," Maureen said. "It may be the mother in me talking, but Jonas has always impressed me with how mature he acts for his age."

"I have the opposite problem," George Wentworth said. "I admit I wasn't ready for kids when I adopted. I've been on a fast track learning process ever since." He smiled ruefully. "But my boys were the wards of a religiously conservative couple that sheltered them way too much and did not give them any affection; quite the opposite in fact, they were physically abused. But the twins need cuddling more than what I think is normal for age seven, and Philip at fourteen is more like a twelve-year-old in terms of social development."

"Actually, none of ours have adopted... yet!" Josiah said. "But we've seen the results of adoptions in a lot of the kids from Orlando. And they're all the happier for it. They're able to give the younger kids something that they need and otherwise wouldn't have; and without interfering too much with their own ability to be kids, because there's always someone available to be responsible when they need a chance to unwind, let go, and just be kids for a bit. That's part of the virtue of being the Clan; they have a Vulcan sense of what it means to be an extended family, something we seem to have lost over the years."

Abbie put in, "If Prez and Keith need to go do something not involving their kids, you don't think Mike and Derrick are going to have the slightest problem with having Dee and Richie come over and play with their kids, do you? We even do that as adults. I can't count the number of times Jonas spent the evening at my place, or even slept over, when Josiah wanted to take Maureen out, or she was working against deadline on a story."

"Just like any extended community, we all share in the responsibilities and the joy of having kids," Jim said. "We assist them when and where we can and they help each other too."

Bill Seaver challenged Lanna; "Tell me you don't enjoy having all these kids around."

"Of course I do," Lanna smiled, "I'm sure we all do. It's only the suddenness of the change."

Jennifer grinned, "I can't say that I'm not enjoying it though."

Anna chuckled, "I've always told Derrick; some day I hope you have children that act exactly the way you act. That day has come. I'll help him when I can but the rest of the time I'll be absently giggling over the smallest things. Just remembering him carrying little Dillon around will likely set me off in a fit of hysterics later tonight." All the rest of the adults smiled or softly chuckled at that thought.

Maureen smiled. "I know it's a lot to deal with all at once. Just remember, there are a lot of us that have been in your shoes; Teri, Kyle's father Dan, Joe and Janet, all of us. And we're all just a phone call away. In fact, with Peter around," she giggled, "I can probably just drop over for a visit whenever you want."

A group of two women and two men walked into the dining room asking for Director O'Brian. Hands shot up and pointed with the description of 'the red-headed dude with the little red haired boy sitting on his lap'. Stopping at the table and identifying Prez, the woman leading the four introduced herself as Madeline Hupp, and her coworkers Judy Faris, Stephen Mier and Rodney Kile. "We're from New Jersey and have been hired as housekeeping professionals," Madeline said.

"Excellent!" Prez cheered, and then asked, "Is there anything you specialize in or areas where you don't work?"

Madeline answered, "We understand you're just getting your new Clan Short Division operating. While we generally specialize in housekeeping, we can assist anywhere you need us."

"I'll be honest," Prez explained, "we haven't even used the dorms or any of the housing yet. Tonight all the rescued kids will be bunkin' down with our families some way or another. What we'll need for tonight and the next few days is help in the kitchen. Is that okay with you?"

After checking with her coworkers and getting nods, Madeline said, "That's fine with us. We're very proud to be affiliated with Clan Short. Until you have adequate staff, we'll help in any way we can where-ever you need us."

"Great!" Prez smiled, "It was good meeting y'all. Go over to the kitchen and introduce yourselves to Kenny Butler and the rest staff there."

As they walked away, Keith smiled, "We're getting close to full operating mode here, baby."

"I can only wonder who's finding all these people," Prez scowled.

"It's almost eight o'clock, Prez," Keith reminded. "Lieutenant Vorik could be here in a little while. Let's just chill until he gets here, okay?" Keith then turned to Dee. "When the Vulcan Lieutenant gets here, me and Prez are gonna be pretty busy for an hour or two. Would you mind staying with Richie and Grams and Gramps for a little while?"

Dee shared a meaningful glance with Richie. They both soon nodded and Dee answered, "We'll stay with Grandma and Grandpa and our Teddies."

Prez asked, "You guys know John's friend Bruce; the little boy we found Friday, don't you?" Both boys nodded and Prez explained, "Since John's gonna be with us, Bruce will prob'ly be with Grandma and Grandpa too. So you three dudes can play together with your Teddies."

Dee wondered, "Why does Bruce follow John around so much?"

Keith softly answered, "Because he's scared; his mom and dad never came to pick him up at the beach like they said they would. Now he doesn't know where they are, maybe for the first time ever in his life."

"Aww, that's too bad," Richie whined.

"The same time we was saved, Bruce was lost," Dee realized.

Prez nodded and said, "He needs all the friends he can get right now, just to make him a little less scared."

"I never had parents before," Richie sighed, "I can't rem'ber anyways."

Keith reminded, "But you do now."

Richie giggled, "I can barely believe it too!"

Prez smiled, "Wait until later tonight! We're gonna have a bunch of kids over at our house, and another bunch over at Mike's house, and another bunch over at Derrick's house, and more at Corey's house. It's gonna be so much fun! We can play games or watch TV or listen to music; whatever we want."

Making eye contact with Prez, Keith nodded and chuckled, "I can hardly wait!"

"It's gonna be kewl, I know it!" Dee giggled.

Donnie and Emily stepped between the tables where Keith, Prez, Derrick and Mike were sitting. Emily said, "We've talked to your parents and are getting ready to send some guys over to your old houses. We'll be taking all your clothes, pictures and other personal belongings, but are planning on leaving some of the furniture there to be sold at auction; some of the living room furniture your parents asked to have delivered to their new basements. If there's anything in particular you'd rather leave behind or something you cannot do without, let us know."

Prez quickly replied, "In our bedroom closet, there's two boxes of stuff from my parents. If I were to lose them, I'd be completely shattered."

On a small pad, Donnie jotted down and restated, "O'Brian memorabilia for Prez in bedroom closet."

Keith said, "Just our instruments and all the stuff in our desk." Pausing while Donnie scribbled in the pad, Keith then asked, "You're taking everything, pictures and paintings on the dressers and walls too, right?"

Emily nodded, "We're planning on taking the team from one house to the next. Each of the six will be in a room, and have Daileass transport everything from there to your new homes here. Basically, we'll transport everything obvious, including all the stuff in closets and pantries, and any special items you want in particular. For example, most of your moms want china, silver sets and lots of gifts from their wedding days. Your dads want file cabinets and miscellaneous special items. Mike's dad wants his rifle cabinet and the two locked handguns in his bedroom closet."

Mike said, "I have three guitars at home; an acoustic and my Strat are both in hard shell cases, but I also have the Squier Strat that I learned to play on in a gig bag. Maybe one of the little kids might want to learn to play?"

"If any of the kids want to learn, we'll get them their own guitar, Mike," Donnie interrupted. "Your guitars are yours. I would think they have some sentimental value to you."

"All your instruments are assumed to be coming anyway," Emily smiled.

Bouncing Richie on one knee, Prez said, "In our night table drawer, I have a few issues of Bass Player magazine and Keith has GQ magazines. Oh, please have Daileass get us some Flintstones vitamins. We'll need them for Dee and it wouldn't be a bad idea to have them available here in the dining room or kitchen."

Mike said, "I've got Guitar World and Guitar Player mags for the last three years in boxes on the floor of my closet."

Donnie nodded and scribbled more notes for vitamins and magazines.

Derrick giggled, "And another shoe box of all the birthday and Christmas cards he's ever received!"

"Yeah," Mike blushed, "definitely get that box too."

"Got it," Donnie grinned.

Keith asked, "Is there a chance we might be able to get some new things we've never had room for in our old houses?"

"Such as?" Emily wondered.

"I've always wanted an upright baby grand in our living room," Keith said. "We didn't have room for it before, but there's plenty of room for it now."

Tapping his sub-vocal, Donnie asked, "Daileass, do we have any upright pianos in our warehouses?"

"Just a moment please, Donnie," Daileass replied.

While waiting, Donnie said, "All you guys have new instruments waiting in every auditorium."

"Really?" All four boys chorused.

Emily giggled, "Of course! We've now got a pro band in the Clan. We expect a few concerts now and then! Expect a packed house too; between the UNIT and all the divisions, another fifteen to twenty thousand per show."

Keith smirked, "We ain't exactly pros."

"From what I've heard, you are," Emily smiled.

Drew came over with Geoffrey and asked, "Please get my Linux computer from my bedroom?"

Emily nodded, "No problem."

Daileass piped in, "We have three upright pianos in the warehouses; a Steinway and two Yamahas."

Donnie smiled and nodded, "Have the Steinway delivered to the Hundser's home, dude."

"It'll be there tonight," Daileass responded.

Prez wondered, "Do you guys know where our new chefs and housekeepers came from?"

"Peter Lambert saw you guys and your folks cooking," Donnie replied. "He took off shortly thereafter."

"To New Jersey?" Prez excitedly giggled.

Donnie shrugged and grinned, "Whatever it takes to get the job done."

"Word has it that he knows of some economic troubles there," Emily informed them. "They get helped and so do you."

"Sorta killing two birds with one stone," Donnie agreed.

Prez smiled, "A busy little Mikyvis!"

Glancing around, Keith said, "Oh! He's a Mikyvis too? I only got a hug and seconds later, poof! He was gone."

Prez nodded, "Same here, but did you notice Kaleo and Tory at the beach?" Keith shook his head. Prez added, "All their bruises and scars are gone now."

Emily explained, "Not too long ago, Peter had a terminal form of cancer. He was helped; now he helps everyone else every way he can."

"Prez?" Mike called, "Lieutenant Vorik's at the dining room door."

"Okay guys, dinner's over," Prez said as he started to stand, "Let's start learning about our new digs."

Keith offered, "I'll take Dee and Richie over to my folks."

"Dillon, Reyes and Jonah will be with my parents," Mike said. As he stood, he suggested. "All you guys can play together."

Keith checked with his boys, "How does that sound?"

Dee and Richie nodded. Richie smiled, "That's kewl, daddy." Keith's head spun. He couldn't believe how much he loved being called 'daddy'.

While Keith and Mike went with the boys towards their parents, the rest of the Core Rimmers gathered and started across the dining room towards the Command Center with Lieutenant Vorik. Mike shoved a euphoric Keith into the Command Center. Giggling like mad, Keith drifted across the room, took Prez in his arms and cheek-to-cheek they began slow dancing without music. Oblivious to everyone in the room, Keith whispered, "I love you so much, baby." Derrick, Mike, Drew, Corey, John and Kaleo moved out of their way and began giggling. Lieutenant Vorik raised one eyebrow at the curious behavior.

Prez softly giggled in Keith's ear; "To what do I owe the honor?"

Keith sighed, "They called me daddy."

"It’s surprising how good it sounds," Prez admitted.

Derrick turned to Lieutenant Vorik and explained, "We're parents for the first time."

Mike added, "Prez and Keith are real sentimental."

"And this is what usually happens whenever one or the other feels happy," Drew giggled.

Corey faced Drew and said, "We really should adopt Geoffrey."

"DUDE!" Drew loudly laughed.

"Look in his eyes," Corey said. "He's not saying it but he thinks you walk on water. I can't say that I blame him either."

Drew grinned, "He's five, you're eleven and I'm twelve. What's wrong with this picture?"

Derrick smiled and reminded, "Reyes is thirteen and we're fourteen."

Drew giggled, "You're not helping!"

Corey sighed, "Do you love me?"

Seeing the seriousness in Corey's expression and eyes, Drew nodded, "Course I do."

"And I love you," Corey assured. "Geoff was with us twice on the beach and he's been with us for over an hour, since before we came inside."

Mike grinned, "Just say yes, Drew."

Not letting go of Prez, and still swaying around together with him in a small area, Keith nodded, "Do it, bro. Geoff will feel awesome and so will you and Corey."

Already knowing the answer, Prez asked, "How long have you and Corey been friends?"

"Since we started school," Drew answered. "But that's only part of the issue. What about feeding him, clothing him, putting a roof over his head; doing everything a dad does?"

Keith sighed, "We have jobs, bro. We work for Clan Short, providing for all the kids already rescued and however many we need to rescue in the future."

"We've already given up parts of our former lives," Prez reminded. Looking up at Lieutenant Vorik, who was being more than patient this entire time, Prez said, "Tell him so he understands, please, Lieutenant?"

Taking this as a command from the Pacific Rim Director, Lieutenant Vorik turned to the first available station and entered commands. The large flat panel display screen zoomed in on the Clan Short Pacific Rim Division's finances. "Here is your existing bank account balance," Vorik said. "Patriarch Short will provide additional funding when you meet him Monday." Then he moved to another station. A few commands later, the next display showed real-time security camera video of one of the single family homes. While continuing to enter commands, the Lieutenant said, "You may choose to live with your parents in one of their dwellings." Then another monitor came alive with camera video of the row of town-homes and he continued, "Or you may choose to occupy one of the six dwellings here, which are sufficient for the average family." The next display showed what was happening in the dining room just beyond the doors. Lieutenant Vorik stated, "You may choose to dine with your Clan or prepare your own family meals within your dwelling." Another flat panel display flickered on showing another building. "This is the educational facility on this base," Vorik said. Turning to face the eight boys again, he finished by adding, "You may choose to devote your time or not for every day of the remainder of your lives. As long as you are, it is advisable and preferable to be content as often as possible. If being a parent for one of the rescued children provides a measure of contentment, you may do so."

Prez nodded, "Well done, Lieutenant."

Smiling, Drew asked Corey, "Do you really wanna?"

Corey rapidly nodded, "I'd be happy enough with you. Geoff would be a huge bonus for both of us."

Drew traced two fingers around Corey's ear and down around his jaw, softly saying, "Let's make it happen." Corey giggled and took Drew's hand, then kissed it.

Lieutenant Vorik looked at Prez. Prez nodded, "It's kewl with me."

"You may authorize the adoption," Lieutenant Vorik stated.

"I can?" Prez squealed. Lieutenant Vorik nodded and Prez explained; "Doctor Janet did the others."

Lieutenant Vorik tapped his communicator saying, "Vorik to Doctor Janet Hayes."

A few seconds later, Janet's voice was heard saying, "This is Doctor Hayes. Is there a problem Lieutenant?"

"No Doctor. Please join us in the Command Center with the child Geoffrey Eckel," Lieutenant Vorik replied.

Janet asked, "What is this in regards to?"

"The adoption of the child," Vorik responded.

"Understood," Janet said. "I'll be there as quickly as I can."

While they waited, Drew pulled Corey with him to the Vulcan Lieutenant and asked, "What else can these systems do?"

Lieutenant Vorik pointed to the screen, "You have access to all Terran law enforcement and security camera systems in the Pacific Rim." He then turned and entered a few commands. The screen flickered and showed a city street in Tokyo, Japan. Moving back to the first display where the account balance was still displayed, he entered more commands and the display changed to the corner of Yucca Street and Vine Street in Los Angeles, California. Lieutenant Vorik faced the boys again and explained, "These systems can provide you real time reconnaissance and surveillance. Support personnel may be left here monitoring while a team transports on site. Communications with away teams, other Clan divisions, Starfleet support or Vulcan command may be performed from here. The only alternate will be at the residence of Director O'Brian, where the same facilities will be provided in a smaller scale inside the dwelling tomorrow."

The door from the dining area to the Command Center opened. Janet and Geoffrey and Geoff's Teddy bear walked in the room. Drew and Corey went over to Geoff. Kneeling down, Drew asked, "Geoff, would you like me and Corey to be your new daddies?"

The boy's mouth hung open in surprise for at least five seconds before he loudly giggled, "Would I? I'd love that!" then threw himself at Drew.

"That's one," Janet smiled, "Do I hear two more?"

Picking the boy up and standing, Drew nodded, "Plus one."

Taking Drew's hand, Corey smiled, "Plus one equals three."

Putting her tricorder down, Janet looked at them proudly, "That's all there is to it. I'll have the paperwork delivered tomorrow." She then went to Lieutenant Vorik and showed him the tricorder.

"Congratulations, dudes," Keith smiled. Geoff's Teddy bear jumped up and down happily.

Prez snickered, "Mom's gonna have a fit!" Prez then turned to Janet and said, "You'll need to show me how to do the adoptions."

Janet moved closer to Prez and showed him how to operate the tricorder while explaining, "You just need to put the tricorder in that mode and make voice recordings of the proceedings. You then either record or enter in the witnesses' names and presto! Paperwork is generated and delivered to the new parents."

Lieutenant Vorik said, "There are eight tricorders in this room, one for each member of your team."

"Hey! This makes me an uncle for three now, don't it?" John realized.

"Yep," Drew grinned, "How's it feel, bro?"

"Pretty good!" John laughed.

Prez noticed Lieutenant Vorik once again waiting patiently, standing at parade rest. "We've got stuff to do here, guys," Prez reminded, hating to cut short the celebrations.

Holding a single hand up, Lieutenant Vorik said, "If I may make a suggestion, gentlemen?"

"Go ahead Lieutenant," Prez said.

"I was not aware that new families were formed this evening," Lieutenant Vorik said. "So that you may spend time with your families, it would be best if our orientation continued tomorrow. The Endeavor will be leaving orbit at twelve hundred hours local time tomorrow. I will introduce other Starfleet personnel and then take my leave of you."

Prez glanced around at his core team and got nods of agreement. "Good, we'll meet back here at eleven o'clock tomorrow morning. Let's try to give our full attention to the orientation tomorrow, okay?" Again receiving all positive replies, Prez said, "Thank you, Lieutenant, you've been great."

Lieutenant Vorik nodded, "Until tomorrow. Good evening, gentlemen." He then tapped his communicator saying, "Vorik to Endeavour. One to transport aboard." Moments later, the Lieutenant was transported to his ship in orbit.

"This is so kewl!" John beamed

"Ya, think that's kewl?" Keith grinned, "Com'ere bro." John walked over and Keith dug into his pocket, then handed John his Starfleet identification card.

"I'M AN ENSIGN IN STARFLEET?" John incredulously hollered.

Prez laughed, "Yep, a whole galaxy of new opportunities has opened up for all of us." Letting go of Keith, he went to Kaleo and handed him his Starfleet ID.

"Me too?" Kaleo gasped.

"You're a Core Rimmer," Prez smiled, "How's that for a change?"

"Wow," A stunned Kaleo smiled, "Two days ago I was an orphaned boy-toy. Now I'm part of the Clan Short team and an Ensign in Starfleet." He then laughed, "I gotta tell Tory and everybody else!"

Mike suggested, "While you do that, we should check out our auditorium and see what kind of instruments they got for us."

Nodding, Prez said, "Have everyone that's done eating meet us in the auditorium... Mouth Rimmer!"

Kaleo giggled, "You got it, Head Rimmer!" and then hurried out of the room.

"I can't take these rimmer jokes anymore!" Keith laughed. Off to the side a few feet away, Drew, Corey and John began giggling. Keith suspiciously squinted, "What's so amusing you guys?"

"Oh nuthin'!" John teased.

"Now I know something's goin' on," Keith threatened.

"Give it up, dudes," Prez grinned.

Corey cackled, "Keith's the Head Rimmer's rimmer!"

Trying not to laugh while everyone else cracked up, Keith and Prez checked with each other then nodded. Together, they began counting down; "Five... four..." and everyone scattered, running for the door back to the dining room.

Slowly making their way towards the door, Prez said, "Let's get our kids, daddy."

"Ooo!" Keith provocatively groaned, "It even sounds good when you say it!" Prez giggled his ass off. Keith took Prez in his arms again, dancing the remaining few yards to the door.

Outside the C.I.C., Drew, Corey and Geoff had found the door to the auditorium and stepped inside the dimly lit entrance. While Corey held Geoff's hand, Drew searched around for light switches. Drew found a four-foot long steel door in the wall and opened it. "Circuit breakers," Drew said, and began flipping switches on. Derrick and Mike walked in with Reyes, Jonah and Dillon while Drew was still flipping switches.

Derrick noticed, "There's another breaker box over here, Drew."

"Go for it," Drew said, "All the switches are marked."

Handing off Dillon to Mike, Derrick said, "Stay with your pop while I do this. It's just safer, in case of a short."

"Don't you dare electrocute yourself," Mike playfully warned.

"I got a few marked for the P.A. system here, Drew," Derrick said as he flipped the switches.

Drew nodded, "There's one marked as projector and another marked screen over here. This place can be used as a movie theater!"

Dillon asked, "We gonna watch movies, poppa?"

Shaking his head but smiling, Mike said, "Not here, when we get home later, though."

"I never been to a movie place before," Jonah admitted.

"Me neither," Dillon sighed.

Drew hummed then snickered, "I got a switch marked Dolby seven-dot-one. This place can handle iMax flicks!"

Derrick smiled and made his voice very deep saying; "Voice of God."

Closing the breaker box door again, Drew said, "I think we're set."

Derrick nodded, "All the inside and outside lights are on."

Reyes went to the double doors, opened one and looked inside, then began giggling as he stepped inside. "We found the ferrets!"

Following his eldest son and carrying Jonah, Derrick scowled, "What the hell are they doin' in here?" When he passed through the doors, he couldn't believe his eyes and cracked up. For a moment, all seventy-four ferrets paused and looked over to the auditorium doors. Then they returned to the task at hand, polishing to a shiny sparkle every single piece of brass, chrome or steel in the auditorium, all the microphone stands, the guitars, the keyboards, the drums and the cymbals.

Mike carried Dillon inside. Grinning at the scene before him, he then hollered; "SPIKE!"

In came Drew, Corey and Geoff. Many of the ferrets were wearing aprons and some were balancing four ferrets high to reach the cymbals. Even Dillon and Geoff found the scene before them funny.

Standing up on his hind legs, Spike gleefully cheered, "Shiny Daddy!" and began scampering up the aisle.

"We've been looking for you guys for hours," Mike told his furry son.

Stopping and squatting, Spike looked up and explained, "We were exploring. When we found this place, High Priest Dave said we should always keep it SHINY!"

Unable to wipe the wide smirk off his face, Mike said, "You guys did an excellent job too!"

"We won't even need spotlights," Corey snickered.

Drew nodded and joked, "The audience might even need sunglasses!"

Bouncing slightly from the compliments, Spike begged, "Will you make shiny music for us tonight?"

Derrick nodded, "We're already gathering our Clan and all the visitors."

Mike explained, "Our Shiny leader Prez might have a few things to say first, but I'm sure we can talk him into playing some shiny songs. I've got some special ones already picked out for all you ferrets."

"You do?" Spike happily squealed. Mike nodded and Spike reminded, "We have your special Shiny Robes ready too!"

"Excellent!" Mike cheered. "I'll even wear 'em whenever we perform."

Speechless, Spike hurried over and grabbed hold of Mike's leg, looking up with happy shiny tear-filled eyes. Mike bent down slightly, softly petting the small ferret boy's head, and assured, "I love you too, Spike."

Prez and Keith walked out of the C.I.C. with their two boys. Looking up at the moon and stars as he did often since his parent's passing, Prez noticed something. He pointed northwest of the C.I.C. and asked, "Keith, was that building there when we went inside for dinner?"

Keith hummed and scowled, "I don't think so. I would've noticed a seven-story building."

While they were looking at the new building, an additional story appeared and it grew to eight stories tall. Prez shook his head and sighed, "I'm not even gonna ask. Like the weather in Texas, give it another minute, it'll change." It didn't even take a minute. By the time Prez picked up Dee and Keith picked up Richie, there were nine stories. They walked around the C.I.C. to the auditorium and slowly moved forward into the building with the mass of people.

Around the auditorium structure, about twenty feet high from the ground, was a wide teal colored section that was made of a ceramic and glass composite material; it refracted the lights shining against it so that it appeared to glow. With all the exterior lights turned on, the auditorium looked impressive, like other more famous venues such as Madison Square Garden, The Shark Tank or Honda Center. People that were driving past the new Clan Short main base via Iroquois Avenue and others that lived south of it could see the pretty teal glow through the trees.

The auditorium's inside lobby didn't appear that different than most movie theaters; however, there were two flat panel video displays. The movie being shown could be watched by anyone working at the concessions or anyone else that happened to be in the lobby area. Prez and Keith liked what they saw and thought serving from the concession stand and operating the projector would be jobs for any older kids that wanted them. They wondered how they might obtain movies to show. What they found when they went up four flights of stairs was a movie library. Making a quick survey of the library, they found Toy Story, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and a hundred other favorites in the action, comedy, drama, horror and musical genres, ranging from G rated all the way through R. As they came back downstairs, they considered showing some horror flicks the next night, as it was Halloween.

When Prez and Keith made their way inside the auditorium theater, they were once again amazed. There were three balconies and seating for at least twenty thousand. Keith joked, "Not that it matters, Kyle, Ty or Levi could prob'ly add seating with a thought if we needed more!"

Nodding, Prez giggled and admitted that was likely very true. Prez then suggested, "Keith, why don't you go up on stage and check out the grand piano? While everyone gets seated, show 'em what you can really do, babe."

Keith nodded and asked Richie, "So I don't feel alone, do you wanna come with me, son?"

Richie nodded, "Uh huh, okay, daddy."

Feeling another joyful chill race up and down his spine, Keith giggled, "God, I love the sound of the word daddy!" He then quickly made his way down the aisle towards the stage.

Drew and Geoff caught up with Keith and shared something then hurried up the aisle to Prez and Dee. Drew told Prez about the P.A. system and the iMax surround sound system. He then pointed at Mike, who was now greeting people as they came in and wearing a long white robe that had silvery eight-pointed stars embroidered on the sleeves and a larger one on the back. Rolling his eyes, Prez snickered, "Shiny Daddy!"

Keith made his way onto the stage and sat on the piano bench. Once Richie was settled beside him, Keith inhaled and considered what he might play for a few seconds. Then he began playing Rachmaninov Piano Concerto number two movement one. As Keith began playing, the chatter dwindled and everyone began to sit and quietly listen. Richie watched Keith and his hands purposefully moving along the keys with great interest. When Keith finished playing that piece, he looked back into the applauding audience and saw that kids were still filing in, so he played Body and Soul. While Keith was playing, Prez gathered the Core Rimmers and had them sit on the edge of the stage while he checked the first available microphone and Drew got it working. Prez then joined his team and sat in the center of them with Dee beside him. Before him, in the first two rows, were the ferrets and many of the youngest Rimmer kids. He waited for Keith to finish and joined the audience in their applauds.

While Keith and Richie remained at the piano bench, Prez lifted the wireless microphone and began, "I only have a few things to say. First of all, for my entire team and our families, I'd like to thank Adam, Logan and the rest of the U.N.I.T for their help today here and at Anahola Bay." More applause traveled around the audience so Prez briefly paused. He then said, "I've been told that Peter Lambert is responsible for hiring our chefs and housekeepers, without whom I'd probably be still standing at a barbeque grill and cooking while the rest of you ate!" As giggles and laughter erupted, Prez wondered, "Is Peter in here?"

Nathan shouted, "He's still building condos for the chefs and housekeepers, the last we saw, Prez."

Prez nodded, "In case we don't get to see him again for a while, please extend our thanks. For the rest of you visiting us from the U.S. Clan, thanks for coming and helping us through our first day. I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot of you occasionally for visits here in paradise. Janet, thank you especially for helping us adopt our kids and forming families. It feels great."

From the audience, Jennifer Hundser hollered, "It won't feel so great tomorrow!" While Prez and many of the Core Rimmers chuckled, she loudly teased, "You're all grounded for a week!" Most of the audience erupted in laughter.

Prez joked, "Sorry for making you a grandmother before your time! I'm sure you'll enjoy having our little ones around to spoil rotten."

"We've already begun!" Jim Hundser loudly admitted.

"I don't doubt it!" Prez snickered. He then said, "Thanks to all the ferrets and High Priest Dave for making everything in here sparkle."

All seventy-four ferrets stood and sang, "God save our Gracious Shiny! Long live our Noble Shiny, God save the Shiny, Send it victorious; Happy and Glorious; Long to Shine over us; God save the Shiny!"

"Okay!" Prez chuckled. He then continued, "Since we can use this place as a movie theater, I thought we might begin tomorrow night with some movies appropriate for Halloween. We'll need one or two projectionists and three or four to serve snacks and drinks at the concession stand. If any of our new clan members are interested in those jobs, just let any one of us in the Core Team know.

"One last thing since it's getting late and we've all had a busy day. For all our new brothers and sisters now part of the Pacific Rim Division Clan; we've been considering alternatives for bed time tonight but ultimately the choice is yours. Choice one; whoever wants to can start moving into the dorms; and, choice two; we can divide ourselves up into groups of twenty or so and spend the night together with our parents in our new homes. The choice is yours. Let us know what ya wanna do."

Tory and a bunch of other kids hollered, "We wanna concert!"

Prez giggled, "Was that one of the choices I mentioned?"

Janet and Joe loudly added, "We've heard Keith, now we'd like to hear your band."

Prez looked left and right at his bands mates. Mike grinned, "I already promised Spike we'd play a few songs."

"We really should try everything out," Derrick agreed.

"Sweet!" Drew chirped. Prez smiled at him and Drew offered, "It's a five-dot-one surround system." He and Corey jumped down off the stage. Drew helped Geoff down saying, "Give us a few minutes to make it upstairs, Prez." Drew, Corey and Geoff started back up the aisle on their way to the room where the P.A. system was set up.

"Okay then," Prez smiled, "One impromptu concert comin' up." Turning off the microphone, Prez asked Dee; "Ya wanna stay on stage with me or watch from the audience?"

Shrugging, Dee thought for a few seconds then wondered, "Would you be mad if I watched?"

"Not at all," Prez honestly said, "Whatever makes you happiest."

Overhearing them, Kaleo came over, held his arms out and said, "Jump, Dee." The boy pushed off the stage and Kaleo caught him, then spun him around before putting him down on the floor. One after another, Kaleo helped the little ones down the same way, then they went back into the audience and found seats.

Prez stood and walked across the stage. He had a new Fender Jazz bass guitar and an Ampeg amplifier with a cabinet of four ten-inch speakers to try out. Mike went to check out each of the three new guitars that were sitting on a stand in front of two amps. After turning on both the Marshall and Fender amplifiers, he first inspected the Candy Apple Red Fender Stratocaster with three single-coil pickups. While it was very nice, Mike didn't even pick it up because sitting beside it was a Martin D-45. Mike whimpered and lifted the guitar to see it even closer. The fingerboard hexagon inlays were absolutely beautiful. With Keith still at the Steinway grand piano, Mike and Prez checked their tuning quickly. Both instruments were perfectly in tune with the piano.

While they softly fiddled around to get the feel of their new instruments, Amur Khan lifted Joe, wheelchair and all, onto the stage. Mike and Prez were standing near each other chatting about the instruments and both were wearing wide grins. Derrick was softly tapping his new drums to be sure they were tuned properly. Keith got up and went over to Derrick, then Prez and Mike joined them. Every instrument and amplifier was more than they could've dreamed the Endeavour would've supplied. Drew's voice came over the stage monitors. "Everything's powered up and ready for a sound check, bros."

While Keith, Prez and Derrick began working with Drew to ensure the equipment was operational, Khan pushed Joe closer to Mike. Joe said, "That's pretty much a top of the line Martin." Around them, the many colored stage lights were dimming and turned back up again as Corey was testing his part of the equipment too.

Rapidly nodding, Mike agreed, "Yeah, they make more expensive models and other custom ones, but this feels and plays great!"

"Let's hear something," Joe prodded.

Still wearing his Shiny Robe, Mike hummed thoughtfully, then pocketed his pick. Believing it would be something instantly recognizable, he then began finger-picking Beethoven's Fur Elise. Khan handed the third guitar, an Alhambra 4P classical guitar, to Joe. Surprising Mike and many in the audience, Joe effortlessly joined Mike playing the piece. While Mike was using a very standard classical technique, Joe was using a Flamenco technique. The duet was heard very well by the audience and at the end of the song, all eight of the Rimmers' parents stood and applauded. The rest of the audience and the ferrets clapped too.

Returning the guitar to the stand, Joe nodded, "Very well done, Mike."

Mike thanked Joe and smiled, "I had no idea you could play!"

"I took a few lessons from my cousin back in the seventies," Joe admitted. He then asked, "If you don't mind, I'd like to stay up here while you boys play?"

"We wouldn't mind at all," Mike grinned. "You might hear better out front, but if you want to, stay up here."

"I'll hear fine," Joe assured. "I'll be watching you play though."

Mike chuckled, "I do the same thing."

Khan pushed Joe over to the far right front of the stage. He and Joe shared a few words, then Khan walked off and left the auditorium. The boys gathered around the drum kit and discussed what songs they would play. Once they had reached agreement, they turned to the audience and signaled Corey to dim the audience and stage lights. Corey lowered all the lights but left the blue stage lights on low so the band could see. Mike put the Martin guitar down and picked up the Stratocaster.

The first tune began with Keith's soft organ and synthesizer with Derrick brushing the chimes near his hi-hat. Many immediately recognized the song Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Slowly the keyboards got louder, then Mike began playing the introduction guitar licks. Then everything became very soft again until Mike played the first few notes of the second section on his Stratocaster. Derrick and Prez joined in and Corey turned up the blue and green stage lights, then pointed a spotlight on Mike. After about a minute, Keith took over playing the melody on his synthesizer while Mike chopped away at some chords. Then Mike played another lead section before stepping closer to the microphone.

Looking down at Spike and the ferrets, Mike sang; "Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun. Shine on you crazy diamond. Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky. Shine on you crazy ferrets. You were caught in the cross fire of childhood and stardom, blown on the steel breeze. Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

"You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon. Shine on you crazy diamond. Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light. Shine on you crazy diamond. Well you wore out your welcome with random precision, rode on the steel breeze. Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!"

While ferrets looked up in awe, Keith played the ending saxophone solos on a synthesizer. Further back in the audience, the band noticed more than a few smiling and giggling because they knew that High Priest Dave had to be taking note of the lyrics! Adam made a note to acquire the CD so that he would have another way of gathering all the ferrets without setting off small flares. As the song began to fade to ending, everyone clapped and cheered. All seventy-four ferrets were excitedly bouncing and chanting; "Shiny Mike, Shiny music! Shiny Diamond!" over and over again.

Derrick counted off a quicker beat then the band began playing Collective Soul's Shine. This time, Derrick sang the lead vocals with Keith backing him up. "Give me a word, Give me a sign, Show me where to look, Tell me what will I find, will I find, Lay me on the ground, Fly me in the sky, Show me where to look, Tell me what will I find, will I find?

"Oh, heaven let your light shine down. Oh, heaven let your light shine down. Oh, heaven let your light shine down. Oh, heaven let your light shine down.

"Love is in the water, Love is in the air, Show me where to look, Tell me will love be there, love be there, Teach me how to speak, Teach me how to share, Teach me where to go, Tell me will love be there, will love be there?

"Oh, heaven let your light shine down. Oh, heaven let your light shine down. Oh, heaven let your light shine down. Oh, heaven let your light shine down."

Mike moved forward to center stage and played the short solo. Three of the female ferrets fainted. Spike and Xander smiled up at Mike while they fanned their unconscious sisters. Laughing his ass off, Mike moved back to stage right.

"Give me a word, Give me a sign, Show me where to look, Tell me what will I find, will I find, Lay me on the ground, Fly me in the sky, Show me where to look, Tell me what will I find, what will I find?

"Oh, heaven let your light shine down. Oh, heaven let your light shine down. Oh, heaven let your light shine down. Oh, heaven let your light shine down. I'm gonna let it shine, I'm gonna let it shine, Shine on me, shine on me, come on and shine!"

Khan returned with two guitar cases. He gave one to Joe and left the other sitting on the stage. Ending the song on a thunderous chord, the audience loudly cheered and the band giggled insanely. Some of the rescued kids began hollering for replays of various songs from Friday night's luau.

The band met their requests by playing Separate Ways (Worlds Apart), Go All The Way, Time Of The Season, One Thing Leads To Another, Cult Of Personality, Precious and Few, Silent Running, Wildest Dreams, and Traces.

Prez stepped forward and said, "We learned today that General Adam Casey plays guitar. Why don't we get Adam up here to jam with us?" The band clapped and prodded Adam to join them.

While others clapped and some cheered, Adam blushed and shook his head.

Khan pushed Joe, with one of the guitar cases on his lap, over to Mike. Khan walked off the stage and out to the audience. Joe called for Mike and Mike looked over at him. Joe smiled, "This guitar belonged to my cousin, Randy Rhoads. It's been locked away safe since he died. I know he would want you to have it."

Mike's jaw hung on his chest. He stammered, "Joe, any of Randy's guitars are part of rock history. I can't...."

"You can because he and I both want you to have it," Joe interrupted. He then opened the case and showed Mike the well-known white Les Paul Custom often played by Randy Rhoads.

Khan stood at the end of the row where Logan was trying to get Adam up to go and play with the band. Khan threatened, "You can walk to the stage or I will carry you in front of everyone." Not wanting to be embarrassed in front of everyone, Adam hesitantly stood and walked to the end of the row. Logan followed simply to be there and offer any support.

Since Mike was preoccupied with Joe, Prez continued clapping but went to see what was going on. Seeing the guitar, Prez gasped, "Is that what it looks like?"

Mike smiled, "It's not just a white Les Paul; it's Randy Rhoads' Les Paul."

"No way!" Prez chuckled.

Joe nodded and assured, "This is it. Randy was my cousin and this was left in my care."

"And Joe just gave it to me!" Mike beamed.

"Oh my God!" Prez reverently whispered.

Taking the Stratocaster off, Mike giggled, "This and the Martin are coming home with me tonight!" Facing Joe again, Mike promised, "I'll keep this safe and well cared for, I promise."

Joe nodded and smiled. "I know you will."

Mike then went and put the Stratocaster back in the guitar stand, then came back to Joe and picked up the Les Paul. He carefully put the strap on and plugged it in. Derrick looked over and asked, "What's up, dude?"

"It's Randy Rhoads' guitar, dude!" Mike cheered, "Joe just gave it to me!"

"You're kidding?" Derrick incredulously chortled. Mike shook his head and turned the volume knobs completely down, then played runs all the way up and down the fretboard. Envious, Derrick playfully complained, "Now all we need is someone to give me Carl Palmer's kit, and I'll be just as happy."

The other guitar case Khan brought had Adam's Ibanez RG1550M electric guitar. Adam walked over to Prez grinning. "You guys far outplay me. I'm only here because Khan was gonna carry my ass if I didn't get up."

Prez chuckled and nodded understandingly, "Not exactly conducive to maintaining authority over others."

"Not exactly!" Adam snickered.

"Whatchya wanna play, dude?" Mike cheerfully asked.

Adam thought for a moment, then answered, "I'd like to play Switch 625 but..." He paused then softly admitted, "The lead parts are challenging enough alone, never mind in front of all these people."

"Don't worry about the audience, Adam," Prez instructed. "Focus, weed-hopper, use more of those rooms you have to concentrate on playing."

"I have another idea," Mike offered. "First of all, don't face the audience. Secondly, why don't we play something a little easier first?"

"Like what?" Adam nervously wondered.

"Sunshine Of Your Love? Do you know that one?"

Adam nodded, "Sure do."

"You take rhythm guitar, I'll play the octave higher and the solo, with Prez taking the octave lower," Mike instructed. "I'll get us started. After two repeats, Prez will join. After two more repeats, you join and we'll play the whole tune. It'll sound great, as good or better than the original record."

Searching the theory knowledge he had acquired from Prez, Adam soon nodded and grinned, "I'll be back stage a bit, staring at Keith or Derrick or the drapes!"

Snickering, Prez went to tell Keith and Derrick. A few moments later, Derrick counted off and precisely on the down beat, hit his snare as Mike began playing then Prez came in just as they had planned. Adam concentrated hard and came in just where he should have. The ferrets were chattering about the choice of another Shiny song and enjoyed it immensely. Mike and Prez shared the lead vocals duties. It had been years since the band played this song and they were all enjoying the trip down memory lane.

The UNIT members began yelling and screaming before they had even finished the song. Then they played Switch 625, with Adam playing the rhythm guitar part and Mike playing the lead part. More than happy, Adam finished the song with the band and waved to his out-of-control UNIT members, then pressed the standby switch on the amp and unplugged his guitar. Keith, Derrick, Prez and Mike all clapped along with the audience as Adam walked past Joe, receiving a firm handshake and smile before walking down the stage stairs.

For the last song of the night, Mike invited Joe to join the band. Joe agreed but the two bantered back and forth over the song. Finally reaching agreement, Joe took the Stratocaster and soon the band were playing You Can't Kill Rock and Roll. Derrick sang lead vocals, with Prez and Mike backing him up; but the highlight of the song was Joe and Mike switching off the lead guitar solos during the middle break and end of the song. The auditorium erupted in cheers and applause at the end of the song.

After the ovations had quieted and the audience lights were turned up again, Prez walked up to the microphone and asked, "What's it gonna be tonight; does anyone want to sleep in the dorm?" He watched carefully as heads shook. "Okay, the answer is no then. So shall we split into groups of twenty or just guys and girls?"

Kaleo stood and answered, "We'd like to stay together, Prez."

Prez smiled and nodded, "Okay, are separate bedrooms in the same house acceptable, or do we create one big nest in the basement?" Kaleo and Prez looked around. Some of the kids were indifferent. Prez then asked, "Those of you that aren't sure, give me some kinda clue. What's the deal?"

One little girl about ten years old admitted, "Just wanna stay with you, Prez."

A boy about eleven or twelve said, "Same here."

Another boy about eight said, "Me too."

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

Daileass replied, "Hi, Prez! Excellent concert!"

Prez giggled, "Thanks, dude."

"What can I do for you?" Daileass asked.

"We're gonna need about a hundred blankets and pillows in the basement of the Hundsers' house," Prez answered.

Daileass inquired, "Anything else for anyone else that might be staying the night there?"

"Hold on, lemme check," Prez said. He then asked, "Who's staying the night? I expect about forty from the UNIT, am I right?"

Adam shouted, "Close Prez; more like fifty on base, including the gate guards and gorillas."

"I forgot the gorillas!" Prez loudly admitted. Grinning and knowing the answer, Prez asked, "Where does an eight hundred pound gorilla sleep?"

At least half the UNIT loudly laughed, "ANYWHERE IT WANTS!"

Back stage, packing up the D-45 and white Les Paul Custom, Mike tapped his sub-vocal then asked Daileass to transport both instruments to his bedroom at home.

Prez chuckled and shook his head sadly, then asked, "We'll put aside an entire dorm building for the UNIT. Does that sound okay?"

"That's fine, Prez," Adam loudly responded.

"Who else is staying the night?" Prez asked.

Peter Lambert stood and answered, "Everyone from Northeast Division, Prez."

"Peter!" Prez shouted, "I saw the new building you built for us and heard about all the people you've employed. Thanks for your help, dude."

Peter giggled, "Well, there are actually three new condominiums to the northwest of the C.I.C. You've got eleven chefs and four housekeepers. Tomorrow you'll have six landscapers and two doctors too! All the chefs, housekeepers, landscapers and doctors will take up residences in the condos."

Maureen piped up, "The rest of us from Maine will take a few condos over night?"

"Sounds good," Jonas said.

Harry, however, had been noticing the expression on the fourteen rescued kids the Northeast group had adopted earlier that day. Now he spoke up. "Um, I think our new guys will want to stay with the other rescued kids, for their own comfort, right, guys?" There were hesitant nods from their kids. "And we Clan guys probably ought to stay with them?" Again he looked at the kids, and got small smiles and nods. "Can you add us in, Prez?" he asked.

"The grownups will be sleeping in proper beds, though," Harry's mother, Abbie said. "I'm too old for a slumber party sleepover!"

Prez chuckled, "Make that a hundred and twenty pillows and blankets."

Daileass giggled, "I've got a head count, Prez. You'll have everything you need waiting in your basement."

Looking out into the back rows of the audience at his parents' faces, Keith laughed, "Sounds cozy!"

"Until someone needs a bathroom!" Jennifer Hundser loudly reminded.

Prez grinned, "Us guys can share a toilet, most of the time anyhow. We'll have the girls use two of the three upstairs bathrooms, one for the boys that need more... umm... privacy! And the ground floor half-bath can be for us guys. That way you and dad can just hide in the master-bedroom and attached master-bath! We can make this work, mom."

Janet grinned at Jennifer and whispered, "Valium."

Daileass heard most of this exchange and said, "For showers tomorrow morning, might I suggest the mob showers in the dorms, Prez; girls upstairs and boys downstairs?"

Prez nodded, "Thanks, Daileass; that'll work great." Prez then shared Daileass' suggestion with the audience. "One more thing please, Daileass?" Prez began.

"Go ahead, Prez."

"How about a couple of TV's down in the basement? I'm thinking four each, PlayStations and Xboxes, and one big one for movies & TV."

"You got it!" Daileass said. "I'll add in a few microwaves, a case of popcorn and a fridge loaded with soft drinks."

"Good thinking," Prez gushed, "You're the greatest, dude."

"You're way cute too, Prez!" Daileass giggled. "By the time you guys get home, everything will be set."

Prez blushed and giggled, "Okay! We're set, folks. Let's get out of here." Prez turned off the microphone and loudly asked, "Kaleo, hang back a minute, please?"

Leading the newly adopted kids to the stage stairs, Kaleo nodded. Walking down the steps with Keith, Prez said, "I'm just curious here, but I expected some of the older kids might like to have a room in the dorms. I also expected that the girls would want a place of their own, separate from the boys. What gives?"

Kaleo answered, "It's simple insecurity versus security, Prez. A lot of kids found it hard to sleep last night in hotel rooms with four to a big room. A room that size would've had ten little kids or eight older kids in the orphanages. For those that were fostered, they were mostly all alone all the time. Besides," Kaleo grinned, "we do really want to spend time with all you guys. If we split up, it would be one or two leaders to a room. That's not good enough. We want to be around all of you. Not just you and Keith, not just Mike and Derrick or Drew and Corey. And the girls are sorta left out in the cold too. Who would sleep with them?"

Donna and Tristan, Jory Casey's two lovers, were fairly close to Prez when this was said, and they giggled. Donna said through her chuckles, "At our base in Wales, boys and girls are always in the puppy-pile together. You better start getting used to it, ginger-top!"

Prez nodded and giggled, "I'm not the problem!"

"Our mothers are the problem!" Keith laughed.

"The sex thing, yes?" Tristan easily recognized. He then seriously said, "The difference is people that are used to consensual sex. Lots of these kids are used to non-consensual sex. They must realize that they now have choices, choices they never had before, like who to sleep with and where. If your mam says anything to any of you, remind her of that. What they're gonna learn from all you lads and from your parents is what love is like, real love versus sex."

"It'll take some time for them and understanding from your parents," Donna added. "It'll happen."

"Oh, and just sleeping in the nest don't mean everyone has to be naked," Tristan added. "A lot of the guys and girls started off with their pants or knickers on," he giggled.

"Unless it's extremely cold," Keith smiled, "and I mean cold by Hawaiian standards – below sixty degrees we'll sleep with boxers and maybe T-shirts on; otherwise, we always sleep naked."

Prez and Derrick nodded. Mike revealed, "I'd have to be extremely cold to sleep with boxers on. I can't sleep with anything the slightest bit confining on, never have been. My parents would put baby PJ's on me and I'd cry all night. Take my clothes off on the changing table and I'd go out like a light though."

Derrick smirked, "That answers a few outstanding questions lurkin' around my brain."

Everyone cracked up until Donna giggled, "Just give them the choice and no teasing anyone, clothed or naked."

All the Rimmers nodded and Prez assured, "It won't be a problem. Thanks for the advice."

"Advice is free," Donna murmured as she looked the larger teen up and down, her eyes loitering just below his waist. "But I'd pay to see YOU naked... hot stuff!"

Turning redder than his hair, Prez blushed and began sweating. Again everyone laughed hysterically but Keith loved seeing his partner turn so red. Keith evilly snickered, "Blushing and ticklish now. This is really, REALLY good!"

Tristan giggled, "Donna, you gonna?"

"Hoo, yeah... maybe... yum yum!" she said as she leered at Prez.

Jory, standing not far away, started laughing loudly. "Soooo... she seduced me, now she's after a fourth and fifth for our group, Trist?"

"Looks like it, and they're big too!"

"Yippee!" Jory giggled, his eyes flashing with mischief.

"Are they serious?" Prez yelled at Adam and Logan.

Adam shrugged and Logan didn't respond for trying to hold in his own laughter.

Korris, however, answered, "Yes, they are. Or they'll have my bat'leth up their arses!"

"Ooo! Kinky! But I'll leave that for Chang!" Donna retorted. Then she reached up and pulled Prez's face down to her level by the simple expedient use of his ears. "Just joking, stud-muffin." Then she kissed him on the lips quickly. "Just a taste to remember you by!"

Covering all of his face except his eyes, Prez reverted to age ten. He moved away from the stage and started up the aisle mumbling, "I'm gonna hide somewhere. Maybe the ferrets will give me a break?" Keith giggled and, taking Dee and Richie by their hands, quickly caught up then got a few tickles in. Laughing, Prez swatted at his hands, then ran up the empty aisle. Everyone else followed when Drew and Corey began turning off the lights in the auditorium.

The ferrets began leaving en masse, and Mike shouted, "Spike! Where are you going?"

Spinning around, Spike answered, "We're going to find a place to sleep."

"You've already got a place," Mike said, "with the rest of us."

Spike stammered, "But... but... my litter mates?"

"They're sleeping with us too," Derrick said. Xander, Faith and Willow looked around uncertainly.

"But... but... we-we're n-not hu-hu-human!" Spike stuttered, tears forming in his eyes. "We... we've never been... been allowed...."

"You're not only allowed, you're expected to be with us," Mike interrupted.

"You just gotta be good," Derrick softly reminded. "No stealing any shinys in the house."

Confused and not believing it could be real, Spike said, "But.. but if we really are your family, then the shinys are all of ours. We don't steal shared shinys, that would be wrong."

Carrying Dillon over near his ferret kids, Mike smiled, "Then everything's kewl and you can definitely stay with us at night, and eat with us too."

The idea of sleeping and eating with their human family was just too much for Spike to handle. He couldn't say anything except "but". Mike offered Spike a finger to hold on to as he led the group up the aisle and out of the auditorium. Since Reyes was carrying a very tired Jonah, Derrick offered both hands and sets of fingers to Xander, Faith and Willow. The three ferrets only emulated Spike and held onto Derrick's fingers.

A short while later, the new Pacific Rim UNIT troops had chosen a dorm building to use as their barracks; the adults from Clan Short Northeast felt as if they had stayed awake all night and went to one of the condominiums; Janet, Joe and Amur Khan, also feeling the effects of a four-hour time difference, took their leave, and Daileass returned them to Utah with Adam, Logan and the rest of their UNIT troops. The adult Hundsers, Seavers and Gibbons went to the Seiberts' new home for coffee and to chat about their new lives. Prez and Keith led the mass of kids through their new house, showing them where the bathrooms were first on the ground floor, then upstairs.

Drew, Corey, John, Lindsay and Bruce led the Northeast Clan kids down to the basement. Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick led the others outside to retrieve their new suitcases of clothing from the outdoor recreation area where they were left. Rather than bring them inside, they were left outside along the exterior walls of the Hundser house so when everyone woke in the morning, clean clothes could be retrieved for showers at the dorms.

Drew and Corey were demonstrating the PlayStation games to half of the twenty Northeast kids while John, Lindsay and Bruce demonstrated the Xbox games to the other half when the Pacific Rim kids returned. Soon all the TV's were on, games were being played, popcorn was being popped and kids were helping themselves to the soft drinks in the refrigerator Daileass had provided. On the other side of the huge basement, some kids were starting to choose pillows and blankets and beginning to make the nest. Many kids took their Teddy Bears to sleep with them, while others watched their kids play video games and yet a few others stood guard on either side of the basement steps. Keith turned off the overhead fluorescent lights on the 'nest' side of the basement.

By one in the morning, when the Hundsers returned home, most of the hundred plus kids had gone to sleep, while about twenty of the eldest kids remained awake, playing games or watching TV. When the basement door opened, four Teddy Bears extended their claws and moved to block the bottom of the stairs. Once they saw who it was, their claws retracted and they moved aside, allowing the Hundser adults down the stairs. While Jennifer crept quietly around the nest, Jim went over to the other half of the basement to softly remind them of the time and to call it an end to a busy day. Prez and Keith assured that they would soon crash and a few of them did while the Hundsers went back upstairs. Prez, Keith, Mike, Derrick, Kaleo, Reyes, Harry and the Scooby Gang were the last to give it up around three in the morning.

During the night there were several trips made back upstairs to use the bathrooms, but every kid that needed to go had their Teddy Bear escort. Just after seven in the morning, kids began waking up. They used the bathrooms, played video games or watched TV until the remainder of the nest heard the noises and woke up too. At nine-thirty, Jennifer and Jim Hundser were sitting at the kitchen table having coffee when they heard the mass of kids climbing the basement steps. Most kids politely said hello or good morning while they passed the two adults on their way outside. Even the Teddy Bears and Scooby Gang waved as they passed. Keith, Prez, Drew, Corey, John and Bruce were the last ones upstairs.

After greeting his foster parents, Prez said, "We're heading over to the dorms for showers then to the C.I.C. dining room for breakfast. I'll send over one of the housekeepers to organize the basement."

Keith nodded, "Depending on the kids, we may be doing this several nights until everyone starts to feel more comfortable."

Jennifer turned to Jim and gasped, "They look like our kids, don't they?" Keith and Prez widely smiled as Drew, Corey, John and Bruce giggled.

Jim silently nodded for a few moments, then smirked, "If they put aside an hour or two, maybe we could have the chance to talk as a family, just to make certain they are who they seem?"

Prez chuckled, "I get the hint. As soon as we're done with the Command Center orientation, we'll have dinner together."

"Don't forget three extra places for your grandkids, Dee, Geoff and Richie," Keith playfully reminded.

Both Jennifer and Jim nodded and impatiently grunted affirmatively.

Drew giggled, "We'd better go now," then kissed his mom on the cheek before hurrying out of the room. One by one, each of them kissed Jennifer's cheek, then met outside and laughed their asses off!

Tapping his sub-vocal as he walked along the path towards the dorms, Prez said, "Good morning Daileass."

"Good morning, even though it's already afternoon here, Prez," Daileass replied.

"Oh yeah," Prez grinned. "Let Keith and my other core Rimmers listen in to our conversation, please?"

"Okay," Daileass confirmed, "Everyone can hear us now, Prez."

"Since you seem to know it all, can you tell me if anyone's still in the new condos?"

"Yes, I can," Daileass answered. "The first building alongside the C.I.C. has two chefs asleep that were working late preparing food for today. Obviously, they're taking the night shift. Three other chefs are awake but still in their new homes organizing their things. The other six are awake and working in the kitchen. All four housekeepers are awake and either in the kitchen or dining room. The six landscapers arrived about an hour ago. Five of the six are in the first building organizing their things."

"Excellent!" Prez chirped.

"The second building over from the C.I.C. is vacant except for one landscaper now," Daileass continued. "Your visitors from Maine stayed there last night but are now in the dining room."

Prez scowled, "Peter said there would be two doctors?"

"They haven't arrived yet, Prez," Daileass responded.

"Oh, okay."

Daileass said, "The third building is vacant and has not been occupied."

"Good deal," Prez said. "I'd like for you to take care of something for me?"

"Sure. What do you need?"

"We'll need a few more people around here," Prez replied. "Let's start with kitchen staff, dishwashers and pot scrubbers. The housekeepers are doing it now but that's really not their job. Let's get more housekeepers too."

Keith said, "Doctors need nurses and receptionists."

Derrick added, "We should probably get another few chefs, so they're not working seven days a week."

"Is that all, guys?" Daileass queried.

"That's a decent start," Prez nodded.

Daileass said, "Okay, I'll get help wanted ads placed in the Star Advertiser. All employees have to pass Intel division's mind scans so I'll let Nathan know. As people reply to the ads, I'll let UNIT Security know, so they can get past the checkpoints and on base for their interviews. Will there be anything else?"

"The only things I can think of are signs for the condos," Prez answered. "The first two need to be for staff only. Is that enough space?"

"That's a total of forty apartments, each about one thousand four hundred square feet. I think that would be enough for the main base."

"We'll deal with the others as needed," Prez agreed.

Opening the dorm door, Keith suggested, "I'm thinking lots of folks will be stopping by for visits. Let's make the third building for visiting Clan and other dignitaries that wouldn't be comfortable anywhere else."

"The only thing I'm wondering is if Daileass should even be doing this," Prez admitted. "After all, making signs is something maybe the kids could do?"

As he stepped inside the dorm, Mike said, "While that's a good idea, the kids kinda need to get their own act together before we start giving them odd jobs."

"I can take care of that, guys," Daileass said. "It's really no problem at all."

Walking down the hallway, Prez said, "Then that's all we've got for you, dude. We're going to take a shower now, so we'll chat again later."

"Kewl!" Daileass chirped, "Activating security cameras in the dorm showers now. See ya soon, you sexy hunks!" All the core Rimmers cracked up and made various silly remarks about Daileass' spying on everyone.

While the boys showered, they once again began renaming people, concentrating especially on their growing staff. Generally, they would all be called Staff Rimmers. Housekeepers would become House Rimmers (but Vacuum Rimmers was suggested) while the landscapers would be called Lawn Rimmers and Tree Rimmers, depending on their specialties. Doctors could be called various unique names such as Cold Rimmers or Sick Rimmers or Temp Rimmers. The yet-to-be-hired kitchen staff would be Dish Rimmers and Pot Rimmers. The chefs were the most difficult to rename, and they couldn't really choose between Cookin' Rimmers or Hot Rimmers or Smokin' Rimmers.

As they finished their showers and toweled off, Mike happened to look up at the small security camera. Its red light was on but then it blinked off and on and off and on! Again they all began laughing at Daileass. Mike flipped him a bird and Keith bent over and mooned him. The camera lens extended for a close up.

Over the speakers mounted in the ceiling, Daileass teased, "Now there's a hard drive I'd love to crash!" Everyone howled laughing.

Drew tried to hide but the camera turned and followed him wherever he went. "I still see you!" Daileass repeatedly teased.

Kaleo, Nathan and Tory were laughing as much as everyone else. Nathan barely managed to breathe out, "Don't try to hide, it only encourages him!"

Before they and the other boys left the showers, Prez suggested that they check out a few of the dorm rooms. A few boys weren't very interested but most were, especially the older ones and of course, all the Core Rimmers. They checked out three rooms. The smallest was about twenty feet by twenty-six feet, while the largest was twenty-four by twenty-six feet. Every room had two pre-made full size beds and oak furnishings. One room had sand colored carpet, another had brown and the third had green. All the walls were painted two-tones; the bottom varied, contrasting with the carpet color, but the top two thirds of the walls were always shades of sky blue. All the dorm rooms were much larger than the rooms they had in their old homes, and everyone thought they were fantastic.

They went over to the C.I.C. dining room next. While it may have appeared very much like a school cafeteria, the food was nothing less than spectacular. Eggs, pancakes, waffles and various breakfast sandwiches were made to order. There were also assortments of breads, cereals and fruits; not to mention milk, juices and assorted flavored coffees and teas. Every served plate of food had fancy little garnishes too. Being friendly and outgoing, Prez introduced himself, his kids and his team to the chefs as he moved through the chow line.

After a meal fit for a king, Prez excused himself from the table to chat with Madeline. Richie wanted to come along, so Prez picked his son up and carried him. Soon Prez found Madeline in the kitchen by the dish-washing machine. After saying good morning, Prez asked her if she could send someone to the Hundsers' home to clean up and organize the basement, where over a hundred kids had played and slept. Madeline said she would make a point of going over herself to meet his parents, and she would also check the other three houses, interested in meeting the other families.

Prez also told her that there would be help wanted ads placed, and she would likely be interviewing more housekeepers by the end of the week. While he was on the subject, Prez called over chefs Charles and Miguel to tell them that there would need to be more chefs hired, as well as kitchen cleaning staff. If they needed or wanted anything either for the kitchen or for themselves, they would only have to ask. If they couldn't find him to ask directly, any of his core team would suffice. They assured Prez that they would handle the interviews, but reminded him that Kenny or Frankie would assist in getting anything required for the kitchen.

Prez returned to the table with Richie and sat down grinning. "Everything's set with House Rimmers and Hot Rimmers."

"We're pretty much a functioning Clan now, baby," Keith said. "I just had a chat with Daileass about the other five Rimmer bases. I was wonderin' if they were secured and they are. Starfleet has people at each of them. Once we move in kids and begin occupying them, the UNIT will relieve Starfleet."

Longingly, Prez smiled and sighed, "What would I do without you?"

Keith giggled, "I know baby. Later tonight, we'll make some alone time."

Prez turned to Richie and explained, "Me and daddy have another orientation today."

Richie nodded, "We gets ta play wit Dillon, Geoff and Jonah again?"

"That's right!" Prez cheered. He then asked, "Did you guys have fun playing last night?"

Richie nodded enthusiastically. Dee smiled, "Can we play video games at Gramma's again?"

"I think that would be good," Keith answered.

Dee looked at Richie and asked, "Ya wanna go now?"

"You guys don't have to go yet," Prez reminded.

"I know," Richie said. "We just wanna."

Sliding down off of Keith's lap, Dee hurried over to the table where Mike and Derrick were sitting with their sons. In moments, Dillon, Geoff, Jonah and Reyes were kissing their fathers and six boys came back to Keith and Prez. Dee and Richie kissed their fathers, then started to walk off.

"You guys know where you're going?" Prez worried.

Turning around, Dee nodded, "We know and our Teddies know too."

"Okay," Keith smiled, "You guys be good for Grandma and Grandpa. They're old and can't keep up with little guys."

Dee nodded and grinned, "We know, daddy. We'll just be playin' video games in the cellar. Reyes is gettin' really good and we gotta try and keep up." He then turned and hurried after the other five boys.

Keith and Prez snickered. "Did Dee just look like he was going to purposefully exercise my folks?" Keith giggled.

Prez nodded and laughed, "It sure seemed that way to me!"

Corey, Drew, Mike and Derrick came over to Prez and Keith's table. "All our kids are off bein' kids," Mike smiled.

"Somehow I feel kinda lost without them too," Derrick sighed.

Prez wondered, "Where are Spike and the Scooby Gang?"

Mike replied, "They went off exploring."

Derrick snickered, "Something about finding a place for a new vault, whatever that means!"

Keith grinned, "If I were you, I'd use some of our new facilities to learn more about ferrets. Since they're hybrids, they've got human intelligence and ferret sneaky skills rolled into one. That's a potentially frightening mix."

"I'm not worried," Mike assured. He then sighed and explained, "What does worry me is how they seem to be just as happy off on their own. Like last night, they were shocked they could sleep with us. And this morning, they were just as surprised to be allowed to eat with us."

At a table nearby where John, Brandon and Nathan were sitting with Bruce, Benjamin Hatcher and Thanh Espiridion, Nathan overheard Mike talking about the ferrets. "The ferrets were one of the experiments," Nathan explained. "They used to be housed in cages. They could break out of 'em, but were punished severely if they were found roaming around. Really, they think and act like ferrets but also have special skills, not the least of which is infiltration."

Suddenly, George Wentworth loudly called, "Randy and Drew, let's get ready for home boys."

Drew Hundser started to stand and looked around uncertainly until he saw two identical twins with red hair hurrying across the dining room towards the older man. Turning to Corey as he sat again, Drew sighed, "Ya know, there are lots of Andrews but they're usually called Andy. That was maybe the second time in my life someone called Drew and didn't mean me."

"…and they'll find their way into every heating and air conditioning duct on the base," Nathan continued his explanation of the ferrets. "There's one other very important skill the ferrets have," Nathan said.

Mike wondered, "What's that?"

"They're assassins," Nathan smirked. "If you guys are ever in a position where you know who a bad guy is but can't get at him, they will solve the problem."

"I don't know if I like that idea," Mike droned. "They're just kids."

Nathan nodded, "They are kids but very special kids, with skills just like Adam, Chang, Juan and Jory."

Shaking his head, Mike worried, "But if something were to happen to any of them, I'd be totally shot to hell."

"They're your kids now," Nathan nodded understandingly. "You can use their skills or choose not to. I'm just saying, they are skilled. And one other thing you need to realize is that you and Derrick are extra protected. For example; let's say you're all on a rescue mission. Mike and Derrick are sentries, as are the ferrets. One or two guys sneak up from out of nowhere and jump you. Those ferrets will claw the shit out of them so fast, they'll be raw hamburger before you can say stop. Now that you're including them as humans, sleeping and eating with you, that's probably intensifying their programmed need to protect you. They will protect both of you with their lives."

Derrick sighed, "We have to chat with them and make sure they understand when it's proper to attack."

"Never on any of our bases," Mike agreed. "We're already more than safe here."

"It's almost eleven," Prez realized. "Let's get into the Command Center and be there ready when Lieutenant Vorik beams in." All seven boys got up then retrieved Kaleo on their way to the Command Center.

They had just entered the room and were looking around while Prez experimented with a tricorder when Lieutenant Vorik beamed in. Finished with greeting them, Vorik explained that they would be joined by four Starfleet personnel when they too beamed into the room. Once everyone was introduced, Vorik stated, "I must take my leave of you now and return to my ship." Everyone said goodbye and included the usual Vulcan farewells. Then Lieutenant Vorik contacted the Endeavour and beamed out.

The orientation began with the communications systems, which were easy to operate. Kaleo contacted the UNIT base in Utah, the Des Moines base, the Northeast Division, the Oceanic Division in Australia and the Orlando base before moving on to Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco. They then moved over to the surveillance systems, which were slightly more complicated, especially dealing with country codes and Japanese systems. By the time everyone had a chance to operate the systems and had a few opportunities to try it out, two hours had passed. But they weren't quite finished yet. There were still the equipment room and server room to check out. Drew and Corey were very interested in the inner workings of the hardware and software. After another hour in the server room, Drew and Corey remained with two of the four Starfleet engineers, crawling deep into code and wiring cabinets, while all the others left the Command Center and returned to the dining room.

"My brains are in turmoil now!" Keith playfully complained. "If, then, else, do, while, do, until, the whole damn world is spinning in one great loop!"

"Around the Day Shiny!" John giggled.

Bouncing against Keith, Prez giggled, "It wasn't so bad until they started talking about voltages in the wiring cabinets! Someone please tell me how zero volts can be binary one? And what on Earth is trinary? That makes no frigging sense at all to me!"

As they walked through the chow line for snacks and drinks, Derrick scowled, "They said negative logic. By itself, negating logic is illogical. Vulcans would have a meltdown."

"Maybe that's why Lieutenant Vorik had to leave," Mike grinned, "Had he stayed, he only would've argued with the Starfleet guys."

Ensign Dave Patterson, one of the younger members of the engineering team assigned at age seventeen, smiled and reminded, "The Endeavour had to leave orbit on another assignment. It really didn't have to do with anything other than reallocation of resources."

Prez grinned, "We know, Dave; we're just taking tangents."

Keith nodded, "It's something we've always done, like improvising."

"Too much structure sometimes, dude," Mike agreed.

While filling a cup of Coke, Junior Lieutenant Kelly McGuire said, "You guys do have options in Starfleet, you know? There are classical orchestras, jazz and pop bands you could join. It won't make you Captain of a Starship, but it is a niche you can fill."

As they went to find seats, Derrick explained, "We've already got our own group. Right now we're happy playing covers of other band's songs, but we have been writing our own music."

"It's like the best of all genres," Prez embellished. "It's got the drive and emotion of blues and rock, the harmonic complexities of classical and the improvisational freedom of jazz."

Arriving at an empty large table, Mike sat down and added, "It's kinda like the bands Yes or Emerson, Lake and Palmer but not quite. There's just something that makes our music different from theirs."

"It starts with the melody," Kieth nodded in agreement. "When we're writing, the melody drives the harmony, not like most rock and blues where the harmony drives the melody."

"When it comes to military strategies, Derrick and I seem to do well in lots of video and board games," Prez admitted. "Taking over the world is simple in Civilization Four or even more so on a board game like Risk."

Keith smiled, "One time, the four us played Risk. It was me and Mike versus Prez and Derrick." He paused and giggled, "It had to be the shortest game of Risk in history!"

Remembering that rainy day, Mike smiled, "They wiped our armies out in about an hour! Then we swapped partners, Keith and Prez versus me and Derrick. That had to be one of the longest games in history! It lasted the rest of the first day and went for three more school day afternoons and nights before we called it a stalemate."

While the boys and the two Starfleet officers were chuckling, Richie and Dee came running into the C.I.C. dining room yelling "DADDY!"

Concerned and a little frightened, both Keith and Prez rapidly stood.

John smiled, "It's all right, bros." Scowling, Prez and Keith turned to John.

Nathan nodded, "Good one, John."

"This was easy though," John shrugged. "That was a happy yell, not a scared scream."

Richie took Prez by the hand and said, "Ya gotta come home, daddy!"

"Why? What's going on?" Prez wondered.

Dee gleefully answered, "Gramma and grampa wanna adopt Kokaku and Carmella! Ain't that great?"

"Told ya," John smiled.

"Oh jeez!" Keith snickered, "They couldn't take three of us adopting and them becoming grandparents!"

"And mom's finally got a little girl in the house!" John laughed.

Chuckling, Prez turned to Dave and Kelly then asked, "Would you two mind looking over my shoulder while I operate a tricorder?

"For an adoption? I'd love to!" Kelly enthusiastically agreed.

Focusing on Prez, Keith said, "You get the tricorder and I'll round up Drew and Corey. They'll probably want to be there."

Hearing Corey's name, Dee remembered, "Corey's mommy and daddy wanna adopt Cesar and Felipe too!"

Prez giggled, "Well then, Corey absolutely has to come!"

Richie looked up at Prez and wondered, "Are we all gonna get 'dopted, daddy?"

Picking up his youngest son, Prez smiled, "I don't really know, but guess what?"

"What?" Richie chirped as he snuggled close to Prez.

Starting back to the Command Center, Prez honestly answered, "No matter who gets adopted and who doesn't, we're all brothers and sisters, now and forever."

Keith lifted Dee and planted him on his hip, then asked, "How's your belly feel?" He then followed Prez.

"Really full!" Dee giggled, "We had popcorn and sodas while we played video games."

"Did you figure out the microwave or did grams help you?" Keith wondered.

"Me and Reyes did it," Dee answered. "It's got a special popcorn only setting."

"Good job!" Keith cheered. After planting a quick kiss on Dee's cheek, Keith softly asked, "Did you use the bathroom yet today?"

Dee blushed and nodded, "I'm fine daddy, inside and out."

"Good," Keith said as he caught the Command Center door with his other hand. Stepping in the room, Keith whispered, "I missed you."

"Did you miss Richie too?" Dee asked seriously.

Keith nodded, "I missed both of you very much."

Dee searched Keith's eyes and wondered, "Didn't you have fun learnin' new stuff?"

"It was a little fun, but not as much fun as being with you and Richie," Keith truthfully answered. Keith then opened the server room door. Corey was on his hands and knees searching beneath the raised floor with Lieutenant Frakes, while Drew was on a ladder with Ensign Copella tracing cables in the ceiling. Keith playfully sang, "I've got a surprise for you two!"

Corey looked up and Drew looked down grinning at his big brother. Drew sang back, "Why am I suddenly very frightened?"

Corey giggled, "Maybe because the last time was while emptying our Christmas stockings?"

Keith laughed, "It's even better than that!"

Climbing down the ladder, Drew huffed, "Oh no!"

Keith glanced at the two Starfleet officers in the room and asked, "Are we about done for today?"

"We've covered everything we needed to and then some," Lieutenant Frakes answered. "If you ever need anything more, just contact us at Starfleet Headquarters."

Reaching the floor and stepping down off the ladder, Drew nodded, "Thanks, once we get into testing mode, we may need to do that."

Keith asked, "Are you guys staying or heading back to San Francisco?"

"I'll be heading back home," Lieutenant Frakes replied.

"Me too," Ensign Copella responded.

Corey said, "We'll give you a holler if something in the systems gets whacky."

Taking Corey's hand, Drew nodded, "Thanks for the extra time, dudes."

Opening the door and holding it for everyone as they passed, Keith added, "If you have the time, help yourself to a late lunch. Our chefs are some of the best and you won't be disappointed." Both men nodded and said they would have a little something to eat. Keith then said, "We have some family stuff to take care of, but it was great meeting you."

The two men replied in kind and followed Keith out of the Command Center. When they returned to the table where Prez was standing and thoughtfully rubbing his chin, Keith asked, "Is there something wrong, Prez?"

"Not really," Prez grinned. "It's just a versatile little machine. Not only can I do adoptions, but it has a simple medical diagnostic facility, an element detector that can even identify radioactivity and a whole bunch of other stuff I barely understand."

Richie looked up and said, "Daddy even scanned me! It was kewl."

"His height, weight and body temperature are recorded right here," Prez smiled.

"Scan me too, daddy!" Dee insisted. "So we know when I'm growin' and gainin' weight!" Keith put the boy down and Dee stood perfectly still, causing everyone around the table to grin or chuckle.

Prez pressed a few buttons to put the tricorder in the correct mode then held it out and near his son. It made a whistling sound, then stopped and Prez said, "Forty-nine and a half inches, one hundred and twenty-five centimeters, forty-eight pounds or twenty-two kilograms and... ninety-eight degrees Fahrenheit or thirty-six point six degrees Celsius."

Keith asked, "Does it say where he should be at, Prez?"

Prez hummed for a few seconds before Lieutenant McGuire said, "Simply input the patient's age."

"Oh! Okay," Prez nodded, "Fifty-five inches and seventy pounds."

Keith smiled, "You keep eating like you have today and you'll be all set."

Prez hung the tricorder over his shoulder then moved towards Dee, leaned down and picked the boy up joking, "Until then, we get to pick you up and gobble you up!" While Prez made goofy lip smacking eating noises, Dee loudly laughed and tried to push his dad's face away from his belly.

"You're both silly!" Richie giggled.

Keith swept Richie up and started playing the same game, with Richie gleefully screaming as they began the walk out of the dining room and back to the house.

Once they were outside and the two little boys had quieted down, Drew asked, "So what's the big surprise?"

"It's a secret!" Keith teased.

"Daddy!" Richie giggled. "You're so bad!"

Drew groaned and teased, "So the kids know?"

Corey checked with Drew while saying, "We know just how to get them to spill the beans!" Then Corey went to Richie and began tickling him while Drew tickled Dee! Wildly laughing at the top of their lungs, both boys tried to push their uncles' hands away.

"UNCA DREWWWW!" Dee heartily laughed, "I'M GONNA PEEEEEE-HEE-HEEEE!"

Drew stopped tickling his nephew and smiled, "Are you going to share the secret?"

Still giggling and red-faced, Dee checked with Prez. Prez shook his head, then started running away from Drew. Keith followed with Richie while Drew, Corey, John, Nathan, Kaleo and the two Starfleet officers chased after them. Prez hollered his name at the door and stuck his hand on the plate, then hurried inside. In the living room sat his parents with one little boy and one little girl between them. "I hear we're havin' babies again?" Prez smiled.

"We're what?" Drew incredulously hollered.

"Damn these short pregnancies!" Keith chuckled.

"Oh no," Corey softly groaned as the truth suddenly dawned on him.

As the two smiling Starfleet officers walked in the room, Prez pointed and said, "Jim and Jennifer Hundser, please meet Lieutenant McGuire and Ensign Patterson."

The Lieutenant stepped forward, extended his hand and said, "Kelly, and it's my pleasure."

After they had greeted each other, the Ensign moved to take his place and said, "My name's Dave."

Carmella looked up at Jim and asked, "Prez and Keith's gonna be our uncas?"

Smiling, Jim shook his head and answered, "No sweetness, even better, they're going to be your big brothers." The girl widely smiled and shuffled into her new father's lap.

Dee took a few steps closer to the sofa and said, "That means me and Richie are gonna be your nephews."

"We can all play together from now on," Richie smiled.

"Oh! That would be fun," Carmella nodded.

Prez checked with Lieutenant McGuire to make sure he had the tricorder in the correct mode then asked, "Carmella, do you want our daddy and mommy, James and Jennifer Hundser, to be your daddy and mommy too?"

The girl nodded, "Uh huh."

Turning to the boy, Prez asked, "Kokaku, do you want our daddy and mommy, James and Jennifer Hundser to be your daddy and mommy too?"

"Yes," the boy smiled.

Prez then grinned at his foster parents and asked, "Do you two want to keep Carmella and Kokaku as your new son and daughter?"

"Yes we do," Jim Hundser replied.

"We do, very much," Jennifer Hundser answered.

Prez smiled, "Okay then, these adoptions were witnessed by Keith Hundser, Drew Hundser, John Hundser, Corey Seaver, Nathan Hayes, Kaleo Palakiko, Lieutenant Kelly McGuire and Ensign David Patterson. Now I just hit send... and the official paperwork will be here tomorrow... unless Janet finds out and delivers them personally!"

"She already knows," Jennifer smirked. "I called her to do the honors, since I wasn't aware my son, Director O'Brian could do it!"

"Oops!" Prez giggled. "We haven't had much of a chance the last day or so, have we?"

"But we will make time tonight," Keith quickly promised.

"After we take care of the Seavers' adoptions, we'll be right back home again," Prez said.

Corey turned to Drew and grinned knowingly.

But the words had barely escaped Prez's lips before his comm-badge chirped. "Mike to Prez, come in, Prez."

Prez tapped his comm-badge and said, "What's up, Mike?"

"You still in the adoption mode, dude?" Mike asked.

Prez chuckled, "Yep, how many this time?"

"Two," Mike giggled, "My mom's basically tossing me out of the house I haven't even slept in yet!"

"I AM NOT!" Laura Gibbons loudly laughed.

"We really should though," Rob Gibbons chuckled.

"And I haven't even been home yet either!" Derrick whined.

Prez laughed and said, "While I'm at the Seavers', you'd better go home Derrick, and check. We'll meet up at the Gibbons' in about fifteen minutes, okay?"

"Kewl, bud," Mike giggled while Derrick whimpered in the background.

"See ya in a few," Prez chuckled.

Keith snickered, "Well, at the rate things are going, we'll be back in about an hour!"

Prez nodded, "Still in time for dinner!"

Drew teased, "Unless rescued kids begin adopting each other!"

Jennifer gasped, "They couldn't... could they?"

Shaking his head, Prez chuckled, "No, we could because we're Starfleet Ensigns."

Grabbing Kaleo by the shoulder, Keith grinned, "Now we just gotta get this guy here hitched with someone special and he can adopt too."

Shrugging, Kaleo joked, "I'm thinking a few days of freedom, then a boyfriend, then we'll see what happens."

John giggled, "I'm an Ensign too mom. I just gotta find a cute girl, or boy... maybe one of each!"

"You do and you'll be grounded until your thirteenth birthday, Mister!" Jennifer warned. Laughing hysterically at his mom's reaction, John hurried out of the house with Nathan close behind.

"We'll be back in a while mom," Prez smiled, as he took Dee's hand and turned to leave.

"What's for dinner?" Keith wondered.

"Spaghetti and meatballs," Jennifer replied.

Keith hummed hungrily then picked up Richie and followed Prez.

Jim Hundser stood with Carmella and offered his hand to the two Starfleet officers saying, "It was good meeting you both."

While the men shook hands, Jennifer smiled, "I do hope we'll be seeing you again soon."

"Yes ma'am," Kelly nodded, "I hope so too."

"Please sit and enjoy your new family," Dave said, "We can show ourselves out."

While everyone else were still leaving the Hundser home, John and Nathan suddenly stopped running and came to halt near the Gibbons' home. John scowled, "Something's very wrong."

Nathan nodded and softly asked, "You know what that black cloud means?"

Shaking his head, John said, "I don't see it but I feel it."

"The black cloud means death," Nathan revealed.

"Oh no," John groaned. "It's Bruce's parents, isn't it?"

Nathan nodded then pointed to the Seavers' home. "There's something else in that house too," Nathan prompted, "Do you feel it?"

John shook his head again and sighed, "Sorry, I've got Bruce filling my mind right now."

Prez walked closer and asked, "What's goin' on, you guys?"

"I gotta go back home, Prez," John explained, and wiped tears from his eyes. Nathan only nodded and wrapped an arm around John. "I'll prob'ly be home the rest of the night," John sighed.

"It's okay," Prez softly assured. "We can take care of these adoptions with two less witnesses. Go do what you obviously need to do." With that, John and Nathan turned around, then ran back home again. Prez and the rest of the group passed the Gibbons' home and went to the Seavers' home.

John walked back in his house and saw his parents still in the living room watching TV with Carmella and Kokaku. "I need to ask a really big favor," John sighed.

Seeing that John was no longer playful but very serious, Jim and Jennifer turned to each other briefly. "Go ahead and ask," Jim Hundser said.

Since Bruce was in the basement playing video games with the other kids, John moved closer to his parents and softly explained, "Bruce's parents were found. They're dead."

"How do you know that?" Jennifer excitedly asked.

John shrugged but Nathan explained, "John's empathic and I'm telepathic. When we got near Mike's parents house, we both knew it." The phone began ringing in the kitchen. Jim Hundser stood to answer it but waited.

John nodded and said, "You have to adopt Bruce too. Without me, without us I mean, he's gonna be totally lost and freaked out." The answering machine turned on while Jim hurried to the kitchen.

Jennifer asked, "You're both sure about this?"

Both boys rapidly nodded and Nathan explained, "That's Mike's dad on the phone now."

"Say you'll adopt Bruce too mom, please?" John whined and then rambled excitedly. "He's only had us the last two days. He needs us and I want him for a little brother. I'll share my room with him and Kokaku. It's really big anyway. We can all fit in there easy and it'll be fun." Needing some support, John smiled at Kokaku and asked, "You'd like another big brother too, wouldn't you, Kokaku?" The small Japanese boy grinned and nodded. "See, he likes the idea."

Jim Hundser returned to the living room scowling. Jennifer looked up at her husband and softly asked, "Jim? It's true, isn't it?" Jim Hundser grunted affirmatively, then sighed long and hard.

Jim squatted down in front of the sofa and Carmella asking, "Would you like another big brother to watch out for you and keep you safe?"

Counting her fingers, Carmella asked, "I'd have five big brothers and one little brother then?"

"Yes you would," Jim softly smiled.

"We would all watch out for each other and keep one another safe because that's what families always do," Jennifer explained to Carmella and Kokaku. Both kids excitedly nodded and smiled.

"Okay," Jim Hundser said as he stood. So the two young children would understand, he then explained, "Mike's daddy is on his way here. When he gets here, us bigger boys will go upstairs with Bruce and break the news. Bruce is going to be very sad, but we're all going to help him feel better. It's just going to take time, maybe even a few days."

Carmella said, "We can all help him, daddy."

"Okay, poppa," Kokaku agreed.

There was a knock on the front door. While Jim went to let Rob Gibbons in, Jennifer asked, "Would you two like to help me make dinner?"

"Could we?" Carmella excitedly asked.

"The three of us can make a nice big salad," Jennifer happily said. She stood and took both her new children's hands, then led them out of the room.

John offered, "We'll go downstairs and bring Bruce upstairs." When his mom and Nathan nodded in agreement, John led Nathan to the basement door and downstairs. In the basement, Jonah and Bruce were sitting on pillows on the floor, happily playing video games. At the next television, Dillon and Geoff were playing video games too. Reyes sat behind the four boys watching and playfully commenting on both games.

"Hey, guys," John cheerfully said.

"Hey," Bruce smiled, "Reyes has been teaching us to play Sonic better."

"You guys wanna play too?" Jonah asked.

Nathan sent to John; "If it's okay with you, I'll stay here and let these guys know what's goin' on. I can help you from down here easily, if you need me to."

John nodded, then said, "Bruce, could you come upstairs with me for a little while? There's something we need to talk about with my dad. Your Teddy and mine can come too."

"Good idea!" Nathan's voice loudly filled John's brain.

"Okay, pal," Bruce replied. "Someone take over for me here." Nathan quickly moved into position, sitting between Bruce and Jonah. Then Bruce passed off the controller and rolled away, then stood up. "How was your orientation?" Bruce asked John.

"Pretty cool," John grinned, "lots o' computers that can do lots o' different stuff. They make the Internet look lame in comparison." They started up the stairs and John rambled on about the communications systems and how they had contacted all the other Clan Short Divisions and bases. Jim Hundser and Rob Gibbons followed the two boys and their Teddy Bears up to the second level and into one of the bedrooms.

Jim Hundser closed the door and asked the two boys to sit. Bruce sat on the bed and John sat immediately beside him, bracing himself for what was soon to come. Rob Gibbons pulled out a desk chair and softly said, "Bruce, Honolulu Police called me a little while ago."

"You found my parents?" Bruce excitedly squealed.

Rob nodded and asked, "Did they tell you they were going for a boat ride?"

Bruce shook his head saying, "They told me they were going with some other grown-ups but would be back to pick me up supper time Thursday."

Rob sighed and explained, "Well, they went out on a boat. We're still investigating what exactly happened but we know there was an accident." Rob paused and looked into the innocent eyes of the boy saying, "No one on that boat survived, Bruce." The boy didn't seem to understand so Rob softly said, "I'm sorry to have to tell you, but both your parents have died."

Bruce scowled and inhaled deeply. He remained quiet and wiped his eyes, then began trembling. John wrapped a caring arm around his friend. Both of Bruce's hands reached up for his eyes and he softly cried, "No, no, no," then began quaking violently as he tried to grasp the reality of the situation. Jim Hundser moved over to the bed and sat on the other side of Bruce, wrapping his arm around both Bruce and John.

"I promised you we'd make it better and we will, Bruce," John softly wept.

"How? Why? We was on vacation!" Bruce bitterly sobbed.

Jim Hundser softly offered, "We don't know how or why, but know that you are not alone, Bruce."

While Bruce wailed bitterly, John looked at his dad with red eyes and through sniffles explained, "Bruce only has grandparents, dad. They're real old and in nursing homes."

"We'll take care of everything," Jim Hundser promised.

John and Bruce's Teddy bears approached the bed and did the only thing they were programmed to do when their friends were sad; they crawled up into their laps and cuddled with them.

Jim Hundser and Rob Gibbons quietly stood, then exited the room, closing the door behind them. As they walked down the hall, Rob said, "As we learn more about what happened, I'll let you know."

Jim nodded, "I'll let Bruce know when he's more able to understand. For the next week or two, the reasons how and why won't matter to him."

Rob sighed, "This is one job of a police officer I will not miss." The two men walked down the stairs. Pausing at the front door, Rob smiled slightly and said, "I need to go home and extend my family."

Jim reached for Rob's hand and shook it firmly, saying, "Finally we can do without worrying about how we can afford it."

"That puts us in a rather odd position," Rob realized. "Going forward, in an indirect fashion, we work for Preston."

Jim grinned and asked, "Is there any other fourteen-year-old more worthy?"

"Not that I've ever met," Rob agreed. He then said goodbye and left for home.

In the upstairs bedroom, there was a lull in the storm. Bruce said, "You know that I knew something was really wrong these last two days." John nodded and Bruce continued, "It wasn't like them to leave me like they did. They wanted to do something other than watch me at the beach. It wasn't that big of a deal to me so I said, go ahead."

"You waited just like you were supposed to," John softly said. "You loved them and they loved you too. Your situation is like so many other kids here now. Some were bad parents but lots were good. They came here on vacation as families but wound up alone. Even Prez's parents died here, not on vacation but still, it was another accident. And just like Prez, we ain't leaving you alone, Bruce."

Bruce sighed, "You really mean it too, don't you?"

John grinned, "Course! You've been my friend and shadow for two days. Tomorrow, if you want, you can be my kid brother. Prez can make that happen. He did it last night for Drew and Corey. He did it earlier this afternoon for my mom and dad. Now he's going from house to house making the other grown-ups parents of some of the rescued kids."

Bruce began crying again and through his sobs huffed, "It just hurts so much! I'll never see them again!"

John shared in Bruce's pain and lay on the bed, pulling Bruce down too. Then John called his Teddy Bear Zed and Bruce's Teddy Bear Dex to come lay down on the bed too. Soon the two boys had cried themselves to sleep between Dex and Zed.

Prez, Keith, Dee, Richie and Drew came home after performing adoptions at the Seavers', the Gibbons' and Seiberts'. Mike went to the Hundsers' house only to retrieve Reyes, Dillon and Jonah then went back home. Corey remained at home for dinner with his new twin brothers Cesar and Felipe. Derrick also stayed home for dinner with his new brothers Kawazoe and Sung, and his new sisters Latoya and Brandi.

While initially all the Hundser boys were happy upon returning home and completing a grand total of ten adoptions across the four families, they soon learned about Bruce's parents. They began softly talking about Bruce's situation. With the six-hour time zone difference, it was after eleven at night in Ohio. Phone calls would need to be placed to verify that there was no other family willing or able to take Bruce. Assuming what Bruce had previously said was correct, he would become another foster son and brother in the house. When dinner was almost ready, Prez went upstairs and peeked into the bedroom to find both boys sound asleep.

Dinner time conversation revolved around assigning four bedrooms to ten kids. Then Keith and Prez offered to move themselves and their two boys into one of the town-homes, once most of the kids had become comfortable and were willing to move into the dorms. Until then, the basement nesting would continue, which Dee, Carmella, Geoff, Richie and Kokaku were thrilled to hear.

At the end of dinner, Prez, Keith and Drew  began sharing all the miscellaneous Clan Short stuff their parents were interested in. While clearing the table, they chatted about the C.I.C. communications and surveillance systems, the details of the UNIT and how the Pacific Rim Division had their own troops to deal with more serious situations should they arise. Finally, Prez decided that a nice dessert for the family would be appropriate. In front of all the kids and his parents, Prez called Daileass and asked for ten strawberry shortcakes with extra whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. While that was a fair demonstration, Jennifer Hundser was still concerned about the boys getting into and out of dangerous situations.

Standing up from his chair at the table, Drew tapped his sub-vocal and said, "Daileass, my folks are worried we might not be able to move around fast enough."

"Oh, really!" Daileass giggled. "Where would you like to go?"

"Umm... how about over to the C.I.C.?" The words had only left his mouth when Drew disappeared from the dining room.

Keith grinned at his parent's stunned expressions and explained. "We don't even have to speak aloud," Keith then grabbed another mouthful of strawberry shortcake, stood up and silently mouthed, "Daileass, get me to the C.I.C. too." Keith's mouth was full and he couldn't have clearly spoken anyway, but he also disappeared from the room.

Then Prez's comm-badge chirped and everyone heard "Drew to Prez."

"Where are you, bro?" Prez smiled.

"In the dining room at the C.I.C. now," Drew giggled. The rattling sounds of silverware, plates and glassware were clearly heard from the comm-badge in the Hundsers' dining room.

Prez snickered, "Your strawberry shortcake is enticing me!"

Drew loudly laughed, "Daileass, get me back home and in the dining room before I miss out!"

A second later, Drew appeared standing before his chair again. Then Keith reappeared too saying, "Thanks, Daileass. I think that's enough demonstrations for the 'rents."

Daileass giggled, "Any time, Keith. Is Prez there with you?" Keith hummed affirmatively and Daileass said, "Give him a kiss from me and an extra special one from you too."

Keith grinned, "Any special reason?"

"I see and hear everything, remember? All the kids there are saying nothing but nice things about the base and all you guys. Some of the kids in the dining room wish you were all there and they appreciated seeing Drew, even if only for a minute. Since you're doing such a good job and Prez is the leader, he deserves a kiss from both of us," Daileass explained.

"Can't argue with ya there," Keith smiled. Leaning over, Keith landed a kiss on his lover's cheek and explained, "That's from Daileass for doing a great job. All the kids in the dining room are saying nice things about us."

"Oh," Prez smiled.

Keith moved closer, then planted a big wet strawberry and whipped cream flavored kiss. All the little kids began giggling when Prez put his fork down and threw his arms around Keith's back. After about a minute, Keith pulled away grinning and Prez was swooning.

"What was the topic of conversation?" Prez softly wondered.

Drew covered his mouth and cracked up laughing, setting all the kids off. Jim and Jennifer just smiled and shook their heads.

Prez giggled and counted fingers while softly reviewing what he had already discussed. "Oh yeah!" He suddenly remembered, "There is one other thing you need to know, and I already know it won't make you very happy. Adam wants us to be able to protect ourselves at all times. He gave us two choices and, based on what I already know about both of you, I've chosen phasers over handguns."

"I strongly object to both!" Jennifer firmly said.

Keith sighed, "Mom, we can probably learn self defense too, but that's going to take way more time. It could potentially leave us vulnerable anyway. The choice Adam gave us was phasers or handguns. Given only those two choices, what would you have us do?"

Jennifer quietly grumbled then reluctantly huffed, "Phasers, but they are to be locked at all times and away from where the children can get anywhere near them!"

Prez considered, "We could keep all of them in the Command Center and locked in there. That would drastically limit access to them."

Keith softly offered, "We're all going to have one... even John."

"OH NO!" Jennifer loudly shrieked. She turned to her husband and seeing him calm only upset her more. "Jim, don't tell me you approve?"

"Joel made John part of the core team," Jim Hundser reminded. "Keith and Preston initially excluded him until they learned he was empathic. If any of them could tell when someone was lying, it would be John first. You know that as well as I do, Jen. Of our three sons, Keith is the musician and has always been; Drew is the engineer, forever tinkering with things and always has been; John has been the one feeling when anything was especially good or especially bad. It's always been this way, and John did it again just an hour or so ago. He knew Bruce's parents had died simply by emotions he felt from outside Rob and Laura's house. I understand your concerns; so do Keith and Preston. But we're not always going to be dealing with lost kids on beaches. What if our boys are ever in a position like Joel was Friday night? Joel could've been killed. It was his special group of friends that saved his life. Are any of our boys expendable? No, of course not. If one extra phaser in John's hands prevents one of the other seven from getting hurt, then it is worth it. The simple question that we have to answer is whether to treat John as less capable only because of his age."

Seeing his foster mom still teetering on the fence, Prez offered, "Consider this likely scenario; there's one kid in a bad foster home with two adults. In that case, I would probably have four of the eight transported on-site. First thing to remember is Adam would have a fit if our personal security didn't come with us. Right off the bat, four becomes twelve, including our security team. Twelve against two, six armed outside the foster home covering our backs and six armed inside the home."

Jennifer emphatically stated, "I am not feeling any better about this!"

Drew asked, "Remember how you felt about what happened to Stephen and Aaron?"

Keith added, "CPS was proven pointless; they should be called child prostitution services."

"That's why we're here now, mom," Prez softly confirmed. "Clan Short is the ultimate group protecting kids from those that would abuse them. Kids protecting kids; the fortunate liberating the less fortunate. Isn't that what dad does for his law firm? Isn't it what you do at the hospital; what Mike's dad does as a policeman; what my mom did as an accountant? It's what we've learned from all our parents; different flavors of people helping other people."

Everyone was surprised when John came around the corner and asked, "Would you let Bruce be fostered by someone else? If my carrying a simple phaser can help keep myself or any member of a team safer, what's the harm? Or should we let the bad people have their way with everyone? They can take our money, take our friends, take our kids, take our lives! I SAY NO! WE ARE SAYING NO! NOT ANOTHER STEP! THE WAY THEY THINK IS WRONG! THE WAY THEY ACT IS WRONG!"

Everyone in the room was stunned silent. John grinned triumphantly then tapped his sub-vocal "Daileass, tell them what you've learned about Bruce's remaining family."

Over the room's ceiling mounted emergency speaker, Daileass said, "Bruce's paternal grandfather is seventy-two years old, suffers from emphysema and is at an extended care facility in Cleveland, Ohio. The paternal grandmother is seventy years old, has had one stroke that left her unable to walk; she is wheelchair bound at the same facility. The maternal grandfather died September eleventh, two-thousand-one at One World Trade Center. The maternal grandmother is sixty-four years old and living in a nursing home in Queens, New York. She became clinically delusional after the death of her husband. There are no other blood relatives still living on record."

"Thanks, Daileass," John smirked. He pointed at the ceiling saying, "There's a kid upstairs we've been caring for the last two days. He needs us. Even if we weren't Clan Short, he'd still need us. Yesterday morning, while Keith and Prez were showering, he told me that he didn't want to leave when his parents were found because he'd miss us. That was before Joel made us a division of the Clan. All he needs is one tiny bit of happiness added to this day; just someplace to call home and a family he already trusts to call his own. Where's the problem?"

Jim and Jennifer both got up from the table and went to John. "There's no problem," Jennifer softly said and wrapped her arms around her youngest son.

Jim ruffled his son's hair and smiled, "You do have ways of making your point very well known."

Prez got up and retrieved his tricorder from the living room. He tapped his sub-vocal and said, "Daileass, transmit the records regarding Bruce Downing to my tricorder."

"Transmission complete, Prez," Daileass soon acknowledged.

Prez then spoke into the machine. "Upon learning of the death of Bruce Downing's parents, the Hundser family discussed the future welfare of the boy and have decided to adopt him effective immediately. Bruce is now resting after learning of his parents' passing. Unless the adoption is denied by Bruce Downing at a future time, this record is to be considered true and binding. I will speak for Bruce as Director of Clan Short Pacific Rim Division. Bruce Downing accepts James and Jennifer Hundser as his adopted parents. Do James and Jennifer Hundser accept Bruce Downing as their son?"

"We do," Jim replied.

"Yes," Jennifer stated.

"It's done," Prez smiled. "Eleven in one day and there's still a few hours left."

Looking at the young kids at the table, John grinned, "Why are old people so dense?"

Jim, Jennifer, Prez, Keith and Drew all loudly insisted, "We are not old!" John and all the kids cracked up.

"It looks like I slept through dinner," John smiled and sniffed around. "Italian?"

"Leftovers are in the fridge, bro," Keith smiled.

"And strawberry shortcakes for dessert, courtesy of Daileass," Prez added.

At the Seaver home, dinner was rather uneventful. Corey and his parents were getting to know Cesar and Felipe better. Derrick was home having dinner with his parents, two new brothers and two new sisters.

At the Gibbons' house, dinner was delayed because Mike was out searching the grounds and calling for Spike and the Scooby Gang. Amongst the trees southwest of the outdoor recreation area, they found Mike but the whole gang was covered with dirt and wood chips. Before Mike would dare bring them in the house, they had to be cleaned up, so naturally, Mike took them to the dorm showers. "Shiny lovers like us have to keep our hair clean," Mike explained as they walked to the dorm. "Sure, you can get dirty every day, but then you need to shower to have Shiny coats to be proud of." This made perfect sense to the Scoobies but they were used to bathing themselves and each other. Also, they were far too short to reach the knobs to turn on the water. Mike stripped and began to show them how to shower, which was quite challenging because this was not the normal way that ferrets bathed. Since they weren't watching and demonstration was pointless, Mike got on his knees in the shower and organized a ferret assembly line. Daileass was of course monitoring this activity and everything Daileass saw was quickly known by others in Utah. Spike scampered under the water spray and out of it again, then shook the water from his coat, splattering Mike with mud in the processes. Various UNIT members gathered in a conference room and were observing the uproariously hysterical proceedings. Mike had to hold each ferret under the water, get sprayed with mud, shampoo them and rinse them off again. By the time all four ferrets were clean, Mike was filthy and had to shower again! And as far as the Scooby Gang was concerned, they were dry enough after shaking the water from their coats. Mike demonstrated the toweling off process, but the ferrets found it faster and easier to just roll around on the towels on the floor. In Utah, kids were pounding on the conference room table and turning purple from laughing so hard. No sooner did Mike and four ferrets leave the showers, than Daileass had packaged the video into a QuickTime flick titled "A Day In The Life of Dirty Rimmer Ferrets" and transmitted it to every Clan base and division around the world.

The Seiberts' had finished dinner by the time Mike returned home with his ferret kids. The Gibbons had only begun eating when Derrick came to the door with Reyes, Dillon and Jonah. While Mike and the ferrets quickly ate, Mike held back any remarks about the challenges he had faced finding the ferrets and then bathing them. Not knowing any better, Derrick had a normal, pleasant conversation with everyone at the table while Mike chewed his food as if it were made of leather.

Back at the Hundsers', Prez and Keith went upstairs to check on Bruce but were surprised to hear a chirping sound coming from the first bedroom. Together, they went into the room that was originally going to become theirs, before they and the Hundsers adopted kids. Prez sat down at the computer that was flashing an 'Incoming Message' screen. The first, most recent message on the list was the "Dirty Rimmer Ferrets" and the attachment. At first, Keith and Prez thought it might be spam but then they noticed who it was from and clicked on the attachment. "Oh God!" Prez groaned, but he and Keith couldn't help laughing. Mike was being as patient as he possibly could but getting flustered with the confused Scoobies.

The second message was also from Daileass, simply notifying Prez that Doctor Rod Andrews, pediatrician, and Doctor Randall Wiener, child psychologist, were now present on the Ewa Beach main base. The third message on the list was from Second Lieutenant Stanley Mathers at C.S.P.R.D. Maui, sent just after four in the afternoon.

Prez grumbled, "This was sent almost three hours ago!" and opened the e-mail. It read;

Director O'Brian,
I am leading the Starfleet Security contingent at your Maui Base.
We now have in our custody five children, four boys and one girl, ranging in age from nine years to fifteen years of age. All are runaways from either their abusive natural parents or from abusive foster care providers.
Please contact me at your earliest possible convenience so that food, medical care and shelter can be provided for the above mentioned children.
Also, I would like to extend my thanks to General Adam Casey for the excellent security arrangements made here in Maui and at the other Pacific Rim Division bases.
Cordially Yours,
Lieutenant (j.g.) Stanley Mathers.

"Okay," Prez thought aloud, "There are five kids so at least five of us should go get them." Prez checked the oldest message, which was from Donnie. The UNIT troops would be moving onto the O'ahu peninsula base during Sunday and Monday.

Keith nodded and recommended, "The two of us, Mike and Derrick and Kaleo."

"Instead of Kaleo, lets bring Drew to hopefully make the younger kids feel more comfortable," Prez suggested.

"Good," Keith beamed proudly. "I hadn't thought of that but it would probably make a difference to a nine year old."

"We work and play well together," Prez smiled, and then pulled Keith close for a deep kiss. Breaking the kiss, Prez said, "If you'll gather Drew, Mike and Derrick, I'll contact Lieutenant Mathers."

Keith nodded, "I love you."

"I love you too babe," Prez smiled.

Keith walked down the hall and back downstairs to get Drew and contact Mike and Derrick for their first Clan Short rescue.

Prez tapped his comm-badge and said, "Director O'Brian to Lieutenant Stanley Mathers."

Only a moment later, a deep voice replied, "This is Lieutenant Mathers. Good evening, Sir."

"I just got your message, Lieutenant," Prez began. "I'm sorry for the delay but we had an orientation of our facilities this afternoon, a bunch of adoptions and just finished dinner a few minutes ago."

"It's not a problem Sir," Lieutenant Mathers responded. "Kids have been walking up to our gates all day. There are now seven here, five boys and two girls."

"Are they in urgent need of medical care, Lieutenant? If need be, I can bring a doctor with me."

"I don't believe so. They're bruised and scraped; and one girl has a twisted ankle that I've already bandaged and iced."

"Okay. I'm gathering my team together and expect to be at your gate in the next five or ten minutes."

"Very well, Sir."


"Yes Sir?"

"Please stop calling me Sir; I'm fourteen. If you must be formal, call me Director, but I'd much rather you call me Preston or Prez."

Lieutenant Mathers chuckled, "See ya in a few minutes, Preston."

"O'Brian out," Prez said as he stood. He went and checked on Bruce like he had originally intended to do, then went downstairs.

As Prez arrived at the first floor landing, Keith said, "Mike and Derrick are on their way."

"Kewl," Prez said, and then asked, "Is John done eating?"

"Just finishing up, Prez," John hollered from the dining room.

"We're picking up seven so you're coming with us, John. Make sure you've got your Starfleet IDs ready." Prez then tapped his comm-badge again saying, "Prez to Corey."

"Yeah Prez, wassup?" Corey answered.

"We've got a few kids to pick up from the Maui base. I need you, dude."

"I'm on my way."

Jim Hundser came over and said, "This is just the beginning. You realize that after Friday's news, every abused kid on all the Islands will be locating us for help."

Keith nodded, "We kinda figured that as soon as we saw the message."

John hurried over saying, "I'm ready."

"Be safe," Jim Hundser smiled.

"We will, dad," the four boys chorused as they walked out of the house.

Prez hummed and softly said, "Lemme just tell Kaleo what's going on." Tapping his comm-badge again, Prez said, "Prez to Kaleo."

"Kaleo here."

"We're going to pick up a few kids from Maui, dude."

"Do you need me too?"

"We're kewl, man. Spend time with the others and let them know we'll have seven new arrivals in the nest tonight."

Sounding disappointed, Kaleo softly said, "Okay, if you're sure."

Prez assured, "You're doing an excellent job as Mouth Rimmer, Kaleo. This time it's only seven kids and from our base at Maui. It's really no big deal. Besides, the work you do as liaison is just what we need in this early stage of the game. We'll catch up with you guys within the hour at the pool, okay?"

Much happier, Kaleo said, "Thanks Prez. We'll see you soon. Kaleo out."

John looked up at Prez and said, "He's worried you don't need or want him around, Prez."

"Really?" Prez excitedly squealed. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

As Corey, Mike and Derrick walked out of their houses, Keith realized, "He's still one of the rescued baby."

"We'll all go into play mode at the pool once we finish this little task," Prez promised. As Mike and Derrick approached, Prez teased, "Shiny Daddy showering with his ferret kiddies!"

"How the hell did you know about that?" Mike incredulously hollered.

Keith giggled, "We got a message from Daileass, complete with video and audio of the whole thing!"

"And your thing and cute bottom too!" Prez laughed.

"SONOFABITCH!" Mike screamed while all the others laughed hysterically.

"Be nice now," Prez playfully warned. "We need Daileass to get us from here to Maui. Get your ID's out and ready."

Reaching into his pocket, Mike grumbled, "If he had an ass, I'd kick it so friggin' hard!"

While the rest of his Core Rimmers laughed their asses off, Prez tapped his sub-vocal and giggled, "Daileass, we need transportation to the Rimmer Maui base where Lieutenant Mathers is stationed."

"Sure thing, Prez," Daileass said, "Stand by."

A few seconds later all seven were standing inside the Maui base main gate. A tall man of African descent walked out of the security building. Holding up his ID, Prez said, "Lieutenant Mathers?"

Stopping and snapping to attention, Lieutenant Mathers saluted. All the other Core Rimmers smiled at both the Lieutenant and Prez. Adam had warned Prez about this just the prior day, but Prez wasn't really prepared for the salute. Prez returned the salute saying, "At ease, Lieutenant. We work together, I really don't expect you to salute me. I'm only an Ensign, after all."

Moving to parade rest, Lieutenant Mathers replied, "Pardon me, but under current Starfleet regulations, you have a rank one level below Patriarch Cory Short. As a Division Director of Clan Short, you outrank me and most of the Starfleet officers up as far as the senior staff. When Clan Short calls, Starfleet answers."

That was news to Prez, but he kept his cool while those around him were more than obviously impressed. "Unless I'm functioning in that position then please, treat me informally," Prez smiled. He then introduced his team before sending Mike, Derrick, Drew, Corey and John inside to get the kids.

Relaxing more, Lieutenant Mathers said, "We've sheltered seven children here. The first showed up about noon; we were having lunch at the time. Each hour or so, another showed up."

Noticing the relatively small size of the security station, Prez said, "You could've called us sooner, Lieutenant. It must be getting crowded in there."

"From a security perspective, it made sense to hold them here," Lieutenant Mathers explained. "Two of the four parents that came to get their kids were more than argumentative and are now enjoying the comforts of the brig at Starfleet Headquarters."

"Well that'll make our job easier if we need to prosecute," Keith grinned.

"This is the way we'll work it going forward," Lieutenant Mathers said. "It's better to flush out the bigger jerks and have them stir things up here with us rather than have them seek you out."

The security station's door opened again. Drew, Corey and John led the group of rescued kids outside. John began the introductions once all seven were outside. "Guys, this is Prez and Keith; they're our big bros. Prez is the leader of our Clan and Keith's second in command."

Drew took over introductions and began with the youngest by placing his hand on shoulders. "This is Randy Beale, this is Samuel Bay, and here's Louis Mares and Roy Angulo and Gerald Mayers."

Derrick introduced the two girls. "This is Karen Dehart and Sonia Baugh."

Mike said, "Sonia twisted her ankle running out of her house."

Prez locked eyes with the girl and asked, "How do you feel, Sonia; can you walk all right?"

Sonia nodded, "I'll live now that I'm away from my parents."

"We'll get all you guys and girls fixed up," Prez promised. Karen and two of the boys had small gym bags with them. The others only had the clothes on their backs. As Prez began explaining how things were at the main base on O'ahu, Lieutenant Mathers moved away and went to the gate.

Keith watched the Lieutenant and only half listened to Prez, concentrating on the boy beyond the gate. His chestnut brown hair was a mess and his clothes looked tattered and torn, more so than the seven Prez was talking to. Lieutenant Mathers signaled to the security station and the gate began to open.

Keith smiled and went to the boy asking, "What's your name?"

"Hi, my name's Gage; Gage Lundberg," the boy softly replied.

"I'm Keith. What's goin' on, little dude?"

Gage sighed, "My mom and dad... they don't care about me, they only care about booze and drugs." Drew and Corey moved closer and listened. "They don't cook, don't clean, don't work... just don't care about nuthin' or anyone; not even me. I've been gone for two days. I wonder if they even noticed yet."

"No worries, Gage," Drew said, "We've got you covered."

Corey nodded and asked, "If they wanted you back, would you want to go back?"

Shaking his head furiously, "No, never again. I've run away before and the police put me back with them. Did it matter or change a thing? Not at all."

Stepping closer to Keith, Prez asked, "What's going on here?"

Keith briefly answered, "Gage has druggie parents. He's pretty much divorced himself of them."

Prez nodded understandingly and asked, "How would you like about another hundred brothers and sisters just like you that really care what you're eating and where you're sleeping?"

"It sounds like it could be real nice," Gage replied, "better than my last eight and a half years."

"Let's go then," Prez smiled. "Everybody together now, pick up your stuff and we're gone." He then tapped his sub-vocal and said, "Daileass, fifteen to transport back to our main base, please."

"You got it, Prez," Daileass replied.

Gage looked around for a van or truck that would be coming, but then suddenly found himself and all the others standing in the center of the lawns of four nearby houses. "WOW!" Gage giggled. Prez smiled down at the boy. "Where are we?" Gage wondered.

"O'ahu, Ewa Beach," Prez grinned. "Beats the hell out of flying, huh?"

"I'll say!" Gage giggled.

"Who's hungry?" Prez loudly asked. Eight arms rose with a few voicing affirmations. "Okay, Drew, Corey and John, please lead our new Rimmers to the chow."

Mike said, "Me and Derrick need to sit down with our kids and ferrets for a heart-to-heart."

"No problem," Prez nodded, "We'll bring our kids and meet y'all at the pool. Sonia, if your ankle starts bugging you at all, let someone know and we'll introduce you to our doctor."

"Okay, Prez," Sonia said. Mike and Derrick began the walk to their homes.

"Follow us, guys," John said, and then started in the direction of the C.I.C.

"Wait till you taste our food here," Corey said as he began walking. "We've got the best chefs in all the Islands right here." Drew agreed and began telling them about that morning's breakfast.

Finally alone, Prez turned to Keith and whispered, "If I don't get fifteen minutes alone with you soon, it's going to be very, very embarrassing for us at bedtime tonight."

Keith nodded and giggled, "I know, baby. We'll go inside, make the 'rents happy, check on the kids and then..."

Prez waited with baited breath before finishing, "Then make a mess out of our new bed?"

Taking his lover's hand, Keith teased, "I hope the Vulcans soundproofed this place!" then together they walked across the lawn and into their parents' house.

Mike and Derrick went to the Seiberts' home to retrieve their kids, but found only Latoya and Brandi, the Seiberts' newly adopted girls were there with Lindsay and Christel, the Gibbons' newly adopted girl. Dillon, Jonah and Reyes were over at the Gibbons' playing with Benjamin, the Gibbons' newly adopted boy. The Scooby gang were split in half. Spike and Xander were at the kitchen table polishing silverware while Faith and Willow were polishing the brass knobs on the kitchen cabinets.

While everyone seemed happy enough, Mike turned to his mother and moaned, "Ma, you put our kids to work?"

Laura Gibbons held up her hands and shook her head giggling, "I did no such thing! They wanted to do it! For the first ten minutes you were gone, they went from room to room. If it shined, they were interested! I told them to play with the boys, but that didn't last a full minute before they returned looking like their whole world was about to end. What you'll learn is to compromise with your kids."

Rob Gibbons entered the kitchen and said, "Do you think it was fun listening to you, at two years old, bangin' on a cheap toy guitar or a little toy piano? It wasn't but you were happy. Every Christmas and birthday, we replaced the worn-out toys until we got you a real child-sized acoustic guitar when you turned five. Since your first music lessons on that guitar went well, we got you the Squier electric guitar when you turned seven. You've got to meet your kids' needs to keep your sanity."

Mike hummed thoughtfully and softly said, "Maybe that's what I did wrong earlier."

"What kept you so long for dinner?" Rob asked.

"It took a few minutes for the ferrets to hear me calling," Mike explained. "When they came running up, they were really dirty. They couldn't sit down at the table looking like that, so I took them to the showers over at the dorm." Laura smiled as Mike wove his ferret shower tale. Rob and Derrick though were barely managing to keep themselves restrained to mere snickering.

Rob Gibbons asked, "Did you place an order for an aluminum tub?"

Mike shook his head and scowled, "Nope, wasn't me."

"Well, there's one out back now," Rob told his son.

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

"Hey, Derrick," Daileass replied.

"Patch Mike in with us so he can hear too, dude," Derrick said.

A second later, Mike and Derrick heard Daileass giggling, "Hi Ya, Mike!"

Mike wondered, "Did you deliver an aluminum tub to my house?"

Daileass hummed affirmatively and playfully explained, "It's for the Scoobies, but if you really want to bathe with them, it's big enough for you too!"

Mike grumbled, "I can't believe you recorded that shower, then sent it to Keith and Prez!" Mike's mom couldn't help but chortle and quickly covered her mouth. Rob Gibbons didn't hide it at all though and began chuckling.

"Everything's recorded, Mike," Daileass giggled. "I may not keep the recordings, but everything every camera sees is recorded. Besides it was an Oscar-worthy performance, if I do say so myself!"

Mike grinned but softly complained, "You dog!"

Widely smiling, Derrick then wondered, "Daileass, who else saw the shower?"

"All my brothers, of course," Daileass laughed. "And another hundred or two here in Utah. And the guys down in Australia and in Des Moines. The votes are in from everywhere but Orlando and the Northeast division. Mike has starred in the best comedy flick since Blazing Saddles!"

"Daileass!" Mike shouted, "I was naked!" Mike's parents and Derrick lost it and cracked up.

"Well duh!" Daileass teased, "I would hope you were naked in the shower! By the way, if you and Derrick ever break up, you'll have lots of guys and girls waiting in the wings for a date!"

Blushing fiercely, Mike softly groaned, "Oh God!"

Derrick giggled, "Daileass, can we see what everyone else in Clan Short has seen?"

"I suppose so," Daileass replied. "It's upstairs waiting on your computer."

Mike then ordered, "Daileass, delete that file."

"It's encrypted," Daileass giggled. "No one outside of the Clan...."

"Daileass! Delete that file now!" Mike interrupted.

"Oh, okay," Daileass sighed. "It's deleted." Of course, since Daileass wasn't directly asked or ordered to delete it, the archived backup still existed. And all the previously sent copies still existed as well.

"Thanks, dude," Mike smiled.

"Have a good night," Derrick said.

"You too, guys," Daileass cheerfully responded. "We'll chat again soon."

Mike smirked, "I would've threatened to tear him limb from limb but he hasn't got any limbs!"

Derrick and Mike then went to the living room to chat with all their kids. An extra amount of time was spent with the Scooby gang. Mike and Derrick wanted very much to make the ferret hybrids a part of their lives as much as was possible. Mike apologized for the shower fiasco, but told the Scoobies about the new bath tub that was theirs to use. Reyes, Jonah and Dillon liked the ferrets a lot. The new family talked about ferret favorite foods and ferret sleeping habits. Neither Mike or Derrick realized that ferrets were nocturnal but because they were hybrids, they were more inclined to stay up very late at night before sleeping for a few hours. They would then take afternoon naps if they felt like it.

Meanwhile, all the newly rescued Rimmer kids had finished eating and had moved over to the pool area. All the other families and kids were also by the pool and diving well, enjoying a warm autumn evening. Bruce was awake and surrounded by John and his new brothers and sisters. Off-duty housekeepers and chefs were also poolside, as were Doctor Rod Andrews, pediatrician, and Doctor Randall Wiener, child psychologist. Doctor Wiener made a point of pronouncing his name in the original German fashion 'VEE-ner' and was soon pointed to Melonie for a private chat. Doctor Andrews examined Sonia's ankle and diagnosed it as a minor sprain.

Many of the off-duty UNIT kids were inside the rec center lifting weights while others organized a game of soccer. The pro-sized field was well lit by solar charged lights and everyone could see to play the game.

It was about quarter-of-nine when Mike, Derrick, their boys and the ferrets joined everyone at the pool and jumped in for a swim. Now that all the Core Rimmers were present, Prez gathered them all together for a chat. Getting directly to the point, Prez sat between Kaleo and Keith and said, "Ya know Kaleo, you really have one of the most critical positions on this team."

"How so?" Kaleo wondered.

"You're one of the rescued that was already looked up to," Prez answered.

Keith nodded, "Like last night, we were open to alternatives but making plans other than mass nesting. The kids tell you their honest feelings of what they want or need."

Prez agreed, "I still had to poke and prod a little to get to the truth. Y'all wanted to be with the entire core team, not subsections of it. Maybe half of these kids know me well enough to understand that I'm an orphan too. The Hundsers saved me though and that makes my situation different enough."

Kaleo grinned, "I hate to tell you this, Prez, but there's some hero worship going on too."

"They put you on a pedestal the moment Joel did," Drew revealed.

John agreed, "They feel like you've got to deal with everyone's welfare, not just one person's."

"If that's true," Prez began, "and I'll assume it is, that makes Kaleo's role even more important to me and all of us. There's not one kid here that should ever feel like they can't approach me. If I'm occupied, like during tonight's rescue, they must have a Core Rimmer available."

"Prez and I were alone for a while and had the chance to bounce another idea around," Keith explained. "During more dangerous rescues, either he or I will be left here just so everybody has that warm fuzzy feeling that someone's in charge."

Derrick said, "We need you doing what you do, what you've done since way before we met on the beach Friday afternoon."

"If it wasn't for you, me and Derrick wouldn't have been able to spend time with our kids and the Scoobies," Mike admitted. "Without you, Keith and Prez wouldn't have had some time alone."

Drew nodded, "Let's face it; without you we wouldn't get a lot of things done that have to be done."

Wrapping an arm around Kaleo, Prez smiled warmly and said, "It may seem less important to you but believe us all, what you've done in the last two days is extremely important."

Understanding, Kaleo nodded and said, "Just let me be involved in a few of these easy rescues, okay? It seems to me a little experience is better than none when things get really hairy."

Prez agreed, "You're right. I need to allow each of you to command some of these rescue missions."

Keith offered, "You're taking the responsibilities seriously, baby. We all do though, and we all need that experience."

"You realize I'm going to put John in charge too?" Prez grinned.

"Nooooo!" Drew, Corey and Keith simultaneously hollered. John sat up straight, threw his chest out importantly but helplessly giggled. The other Core Rimmers had a good laugh over that.

Around nine-thirty, some of the youngest kids began getting tired. Kokaku, Geoff, Richie, Dillon, Cesar, Felipe, Latoya, Carmella, Christel and Renee were led back to the Hundsers' home by the Hundsers and Seavers to settle down for the night. Four bathtubs were filled and two kids per tub were bathed. While the tots got themselves settled in the nest for the night, the Hundsers' old living room furniture was rearranged in the basement so the adults could be nearby watching TV.

Shortly after ten o'clock, Kaleo went over to Prez and Keith explaining, "Some of us think we might like to try sleeping in the dorms tonight."

"Are you sure, dude?" Prez worried. "You don't have to, you know?"

Keith agreed, "Only if you really want to."

Kaleo nodded., "Tory and me want to. So do four other older dudes and four of the oldest girls." He then grinned and said, "Would you go over there with us? The place is so big and empty, even though it's not spooky it is kinda scary, for us anyway."

Prez smiled, "No problem, bro. It is All Hallow's Eve, after all."

Standing up and reaching for Prez, Keith smirked, "Other than the showers, we really don't even know what else is there."

"Kewl!" Kaleo cheered. He then turned around and waved. Tory, Horacio Sulin, Sean Moorhead, Hank Leve, Gerald Mayers, Melonie Correro, Sonia Baugh, Vera Kirkwood and Trish Vesley all stood up and joined their three leaders for the walk over to the dorms. Sonia was helped along on her sore ankle by Horacio and Sean.

Prez grinned, "I'm really surprised to see you here, Sonia."

"While a nest sounds interesting and may be fun," Sonia shrugged, "I'm used to sleeping alone. I am what you might call an active sleeper; I move around a lot at night."

"Whatever you guys want to do," Prez assured. "Just because we're going doesn't mean you have to stay."

"We figure if the ten of us can manage, then maybe more will join us tomorrow night," Sean explained.

Kaleo nodded, "You guys have started your own families too. We all know it and want you to have time with them."

Melonie asked, "Since there are so few of us, could we all stay on the same floor?"

Trish added, "I'd sure feel safer that way."

"It's fine with us," Prez quickly said.

"The issue is our parents," Keith told them. "We're fine with co-ed dorms. They'd be happier with girls in one building and guys in another. But the UNIT kids are already mixed in their building."

Prez suggested, "If it would make you feel better, I'll ask for two guards, one on each door into the building."

Kaleo, Prez and Keith glanced around. All the boys shook their heads as did Sonia and Vera but Melonie and Trish shrugged uncertainly. That was all it took for Prez. He would ask for two guards to watch over the dorm that night. Keith opened and held the dorm door as everyone filed inside.

Prez opened the first bedroom door and turned on the lights. "This is real nice!" Sonia beamed. "I expected... less."

Keith stepped up and said, "Two double beds, a TV, a PlayStation, a stereo, a small fridge, two laptop computers, two desks and two chairs in every room."

Sonia excitedly asked, "They're all like this?"

Prez nodded, "Some rooms are a little larger, but yeah, every room has the same basic stuff."

"Someone take my pulse," Sonia joked. "I must've died and gone to heaven." The three other girls nodded and giggled.

Kaleo pointed at the end of the hall and asked, "What's that room, Keith?"

"Got me!" Keith grinned, "Lets go check it out." The group went to the furthest room down the hall. Keith opened the door and turned on the lights. "It's a rec room!" Keith cheered.

The room was easily forty feet by thirty feet. In it was a large flat-screen television with Bose surround sound speakers, two long sofas in the center of the room, at least a dozen other chairs, a Baldwin upright piano, a Takamine acoustic guitar on a stand, an easel with many empty canvases against the wall, with a nearby table loaded with oil paints, watercolors and various brushes. There was even a refrigerator and microwave oven for snacks. Prez went inside and turned the TV on, while Keith went over and gave the piano a quick inspection. There was another door leading to the adjacent hallway. Prez silently considered, "At least twenty or thirty kids could hang out in this room at once. The twelve of us barely make a dent in the space available." After playing a few chords and scales, Keith took a deep breath and sang, "Hey Jude," then began playing the entire song. Prez picked up the guitar and, at the start of the second verse, began playing and singing with Keith.

"They sing too?" Sonia asked.

Trish nodded, "Wait until you hear their band. Mike and Derrick sing and play too."

Sonia smiled, "And I was worried that I was jumping from the frying pan into the fire."

Soon Prez began wandering around and all the kids joined in for the extended chorus loudly singing, "Na, na, na, na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, Hey Jude," over and over again. Knowing that they had well exceeded the seven-and-a-half minute song, Prez loudly said, "One last time!" and everybody sang the refrain again before Keith and Prez ended the song.

Kaleo loudly cheered, "Well, I'm staying. Who's with me?" Soon all of the other nine kids agreed. Everyone went back outside and over to the Hundsers' house to retrieve their suitcases. It was then that Prez realized Sonia only had the clothes on her back. Moving over to stand near her, Prez tapped his sub-vocal and called, "Daileass?"

"Hi Prez," Daileass cheerfully said.

"Can you see me and the girl beside me?"

Daileass turned a security camera and teased, "She's pretty! What does Keith think about this, I wonder?"

Prez giggled, "This is Sonia, one of the new kids we rescued earlier tonight. She's gonna need some clothes and a suitcase, dude."

"No problem," Daileass said and then asked, "Where should I transport her new duds?"

"She'll be staying at the dorm tonight," Prez answered. "Keep an eye on her, and when she settles into one of the rooms, transport her clothes there."

"Who's Daileass?" Sonia wondered.

"That's not an easy question to answer," Prez said. "Let's just say he's artificial intelligence but way more than your average machine."

"Aww," Daileass giggled. "I like you too, Prez." Prez cracked up and Keith rolled his eyes knowingly. Daileass laughed, "Made ya blush!"

"You are so bad!" Prez chuckled. "Talk with ya later, dude."

"Wait just a second please?" Daileass asked, "Who's that tall blond boy behind you and to your left?"

Prez looked over his shoulder and answered, "That's Sean Moorhead."

Daileass hummed hungrily and giggled, "He's so cute! You gotta find a job for him! And with a name like Moorhead...."

"STOP!" Prez loudly laughed. Kaleo and Keith turned to each other smiling but shaking their heads.

"What?" Daileass giggled, "With a name like Smucker's, it's gotta be good!"

Shaking his head sadly, Prez uncontrollably laughed, "Over and out!"

"Catch ya later!" Daileass snickered.


Editor’s Notes:

Here we go again! I don’t even know where to start on this chapter. Adam, Logan, and the rest of the UNIT sure have got our guys off to a great start. Man, the C.I.C. and the auditorium sound awesome. Can you just imagine what kind of things Drew and Corey can get into with all the computer stuff they have now? Who knew that Adam could play the guitar so well? Of course, someone is going to have to explain that reaction to the big barrel of BBQ sauce. That really got Adam and Logan going after Juan.

I wonder where we can get that video of Mike and the Scooby Gang in the shower? I almost wet myself reading that scene. Poor Mike, he tries so hard too! I bet the housekeepers will be happy to get the ferrets helping with some of the polishing and cleaning, can you imagine how the whole place would look when they got done?

Now, how can I get Peter over here to my house? I need a bigger dog house to operate out of! LOL That kid can really do some cool stuff and found all those people to help staff the place. Great job Peter!!!!

I just wonder what Eggman has up his sleeve for the next chapter. We seem to have the basics covered and the guys are ready to do their thing. Oh, they still have not met Cory and Sean Short yet. That is going to be a really interesting meeting I am sure!

Till the next time!

Your friendly neighborhood Editor!