Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Chapter 9-B

Halekulani Resort, Waikiki Beach, O'ahu

Thursday, November 4, 2004, 02:20 PM

Within five minutes, John and the twins were at the Halekulani Hotel lobby. Standing in front of John and the twins were the Scoobies, wearing their new shiny patent leather belts and Derbies, complete with pearloid guitar pick adornments, and each with holstered Smith and Wesson nine millimeter semi-automatic nickle-plated pistols. Behind all of them stood Lucky, wearing a black business suit with a white shirt and a blood red tie, dark mirrored sunglasses and holding his MP5-AX rifle. One woman in the lobby screamed then fainted. A nearby gentleman caught the woman before she hit the floor, and then laid her on a nearby sofa. Remarkably, the lobby became as quiet as a Catholic church during a funeral.

Waving his massive arm, Lucky told everyone present, "Go on with your business. There's nothing here to see."

Confidently, John strode up to the lobby counter, that he could barely see over, and then introduced himself and the twins to the quivering young man behind the counter. Unable to dismiss the bizarre thoughts of the frightened receptionist or the hotel patrons that were scurrying out the doors and into the elevators, John giggled, "We're here to see Mister Roy Combs, please?"

The young man made an odd guttural sound and nodded then stumbled and hurried to the door marked 'Assistant Manager'. He knocked and rapidly entered the office. What John, the twins, the Scoobies and Lucky didn't see was the twenty-something year old man lose control of his bladder and drop to his knees on the floor in tears.

In the lobby, a camera flashed several times. Taking photos of this rather unusual event was a staff photographer for Associated Press. Another seated gentlemen reading the Wall Street Journal looked up and saw what all the others had already seen. He casually folded his newspaper, stood and walked to the men's room.

After helping the lobby receptionist to the sofa in his office, Roy Combs stepped out of the room. He couldn't see the Scoobies or the twins beyond the counter, but saw John and Lucky. Blinking fast, Roy introduced himself and then asked, "Are you from Clan Short Pacific Rim Division?"

John nodded and smiled, "Yes Sir. We're here to meet and assist Ralphie Bonham."

Shaking off the shock, Roy realized that the normally busy lobby area was devoid of any resort patrons. He quickly said, "Please come with me to my office." The entourage walked around the counter. Now seeing the four armed and smartly dressed ferret-human hybrids and younger twins, Roy muttered, "Charles had told me things, but I never guessed..."

Passing by the man, John giggled, "There's no reason to kill or hurt Charles, Sir. He sees gorillas every day and wouldn't remember that we would come with security." John then introduced himself, Cesar, Felipe, Spike, Xander, Willow, Faith and Lucky.

Entering the office with the others, Willow excitedly bounced and cheered, "Yous have a very shiny hotel."

"We's especially like the shiny fountain in the center of the room," Faith smiled.

Spike nodded approval, "We's can see you have your priorities set and are a true Shiny Lover."

Xander reached into his waist pouch and pulled out a spark plug, and then clipped it to Roy's suit jacket, saying, "A gift for you."

John smiled at Roy and sent, 'Just say, thank you.'

Stunned again from his first ever telepathic communication, Roy slowly nodded and thanked the Scooby Gang.

Since they were still in their Clan Short Telepath training mode, Cesar and Felipe immediately went to the chair before Roy's desk, where Ralphie Bonham was sitting, drinking in the madness he was witnessing and loving every moment.

Ralphie casually chatted with the six-year-old twins. John spoke with Roy Combs. The young man from the lobby that was sitting on the sofa in damp slacks decided it was time to leave, and perhaps find a new job elsewhere. He hurried past Lucky, out of the office and to his car. Only Ralphie seemed to notice his speedy departure and helplessly giggled, "I don't know why he was so scared. None of you guys seem mean." He pointed at Lucky, asking and then learning the gorilla's name from Cesar.

Although John was still speaking with Mister Combs, arranging to pay for the room and food bill Ralphie had accrued, Cesar sent, 'Ralphie arrived here Friday, with his manager, John.'

Felipe added, 'He was 'upposed to do modeling and get pictures taken.'

'It might just be us,' Cesar offered, 'from the orphanages and fosters, but why would he come here, to the R.O.H., for modeling?'

John telepathically replied, 'It's a bit more than coincidental that the manager disappeared Friday while Joel was taking down the child-sex ring, huh?' John had learned that Roy Combs was hoping to be hired at CSPRD headquarters. He informed the man that he could expedite the telepathic scans at that very moment, if he were willing. Roy agreed and sat in his chair, across from Ralphie, while John performed a deep scan, seeing images and hearing conversations the man had had with his wife or sons. Roy Combs was a kind and decent man, so John smiled, "Hand in your resignation today, Mister Combs. We could use your skills. If you could, please stop by the Ewa Beach base on the way home tonight. Please contact your parents and in-laws too. Your father in-law is a mechanic and your dad is an electrician. We could use both sets of skills."

Shocked at the offer of employment from a ten-year-old boy, Roy asked, "What would my compensation be?" He quickly explained, "I do have a mortgage and a family..."

"I know already, Sir," John grinned. "How 'bout we provide you a place to live, like a three-bedroom townhome, in addition to ten percent more than what you're earning now? When you come by tomorrow for your other interview, ask to see one of the townhouses and condos. That will get all your questions answered."

Pleased and satisfied, Roy thanked John and assured he would keep his lunch time appointment.

John focused on Ralphie and warmly greeted him, doing the usual Rimmer introductory chat while pulling an image of the boy's manager from the boy's mind. He telepathically told the twins that he was making the manager's image and name known to Nathan Hayes, who would pass it on to Daileass, so they could discover if Ralphie's manager was legitimate or another child-porn scumbag that had already been prosecuted.

With more than the necessary business complete, John smiled, "How about we transport back to base from here, Mister Combs?"

"Thank you," Roy Combs chuckled, "our guests will be talking about this afternoon for the remainder of their stays."

"We have that effect," John laughed, recalling all the fun of the prior Saturday at Anahola Bay.

Pointing at a suitcase near the desk, Cesar giggled, "Is that yours, Ralphie?"

"Yup," Ralphie nodded.

Felipe told John, "He's got undies, sneakers, one pair of jeans, ten T-shirts and twelve Speedos, bro." Hearing the precise contents of his suitcase rattled off, Ralphie's eyebrows rose.

John nodded, "Kewl. We'll transport to the store and get you plenty of new clothes, Ralphie."

Nodding and hopping off the chair, Ralphie grabbed his suitcase, enthusiastically giggling, "I've always wanted to try Starfleet style transportation."

John shared, "This is even faster than Starfleet transport. That takes a couple o' seconds; this will be like a blink and we're someplace else. Ya ready, dude?" Giggling happily, Ralphie rapidly nodded. The Scoobies, the twins, Lucky and Ralphie gathered around John. Tapping his sub-vocal, John said, "Nine and a suitcase to transport directly to our store, Alden."

Alden replied, "Gotchya all locked, Soul Rimmer."

Less than half a second later, all nine were in the C.I.C. basement store. "Freakin' awesome!" Ralphie loudly laughed. The Scooby Gang scampered away to find their Shiny Daddies and report back to them.

John told the twins, "You guys were great, all afternoon. We've got one more interview scheduled. Jerry Burk's foster parents will be here between four and five this afternoon. I'll call you to join me then. I think another half day of training, just to make your mom happy, and I'll turn you loose to do the job without my supervision." Both six-year-olds hugged John. Hugging them back, John suggested, "While I introduce Ralphie to everyone, take off and go play at the pool, bros."

The twins giggled their thanks then tapped their new comm-badges, ordering Alden to transport them out of the store and to the pools.

John dismissed Lucky, wondering, "When you're not watching my back or the grounds, what do you do for fun?"

Lucky chuckled, "You have no idea how much fun we have patrolling the perimeter, Johnny-boy. Imagine me, in a tree about fifteen feet up. An older high school kid or bunch of 'em stops and peers into the fence, then I drop out of the tree, armed and growling."

John howled laughing, "Bowel control literally goes down the tubes?"

Lucky shrugged, "They never stick around long enough for me to smell anything." John and Ralphie cracked up. Lucky grinned, "Not to mention free botany lessons from the gardeners," and then had Alden transport him out of the store, back to his patrol station.

Still giggling, John began walking toward Prez and Keith to introduce Ralphie. Telepathically, John explained to Ralphie that he already knew everything that Cesar and Felipe had learned. Once he was introduced around, Ralphie could tell his story his way to whomever he chose.

Ralphie nodded and smiled, "I have no problem being here at all. After spending about an hour in that manager guy's office, bored silly, this is already way more fun than all my favorite TV shows combined."

Knowing that Ralphie said precisely what he was thinking, John nodded and grinned, "I'll be honest and say I could never do what you do for a living. I'm married to a great boy, have a great son, and couldn't be a Speedo or underwear model, even though us guys spend half of every day naked around the pools. I guess it's one thing to be naked around family and friends, but photos that everyone, everywhere sees is past my limit."

Ralphie checked, "Is it really that kewl here?"

John gushed, "Dude, I love my brothers and friends. I always thought my life was pretty good almost all the time. Since we became Clan on Saturday, it's really been even better. We had a rough time last night with a rescue operation, but even that can't smudge six great days."

Noticing the girls in the store, Ralphie asked, "Everybody here gets naked?"

"Those that are comfortable do, which means most of the dudes. I'd say half the younger girls don't have too much of a problem being naked. The teenage boys cover up if they feel stiffies poppin'. The teenage girls almost always have shorts on, and usually cover up their titties. My best friend Lindsay has had some chats with the girls."

"So your gay?" Ralphie softly queried.

John nodded and giggled, "Yup. Stephen is special in so many ways. If he was a she named Stephanie, I'd probably still have fallen for him."

"Her," Ralphie giggled.

Since gender didn't matter, John remained focused on Ralphie and asked, "Are you gay too?"

"I'm pretty sure, yeah," Ralphie answered without any blush; "just never had a real close friend where I was comfy enough to say it before. I sure wouldn't have told my aunt."

"It's kewl, bro," John assured. "Our families don't have any problem with gays or lesbians, and none of us here do either. You can be whatever ya want here and not worry." A quick glance at Ralphie told John that his newest brother had typical worries about being gay. "Don't worry about sex stuff, bro," John instructed. "What's most important are the feelings two people have for each other. Having someone to hold and talk with is the best part and takes up most of every day anyway. Sex is a fun part of it, but the friendship is like no other."

Stopping well shy of Prez and Keith, John smiled and told Ralphie, "The secret is caring and love, dude. Care for someone and they'll care for you more, just to return the favor. Love someone and they'll love you too. The caring and love keep growing with each pass back and forth. It's amazing and limitless, so you can start caring and loving more people. The more you share the more you'll get and the more you'll give. It's so simple, like a carousel; round and round it goes."

Gesturing ahead, in the boys sportswear department, John smiled, "Here's Prez and Keith." Leading Ralphie to his brothers, John introduced the newest arrival. To all the Core Rimmers, John telepathically added, 'Ralphie's very kewl. Even though he's a model and can act up a storm, he's really enthusiastic and happy to be here.'

Noting the suitcase Ralphie was carrying, Prez shook hands with Ralphie, confirming, "Since John brought you here, I'm guessing you need clothes?"

Shaking hands with Keith, Ralphie answered Prez. "Yeah. Besides what I'm wearing, I've got plenty of Speedos and T-shirts, some briefs, a pair of sneakers, and one pair of jeans." John briefly scowled, obviously feeling something, so he hurried off, only telepathically telling his brothers that a newbie kid nearby needed some assistance.

Prez nodded, "Kewl, Ralphie. We'll return to the front of the store where there's undies. We make sure everyone has at least a week's worth of the basics. If your sneakers and sandals are more than a few months old, you can choose a new pair of those too."

Keith, Prez and Ralphie began the walk to the front of the store. Ralphie said, "Cesar told me you two were this Clan division's leaders."

Keith nodded, "Prez is the leader and I'm second in command."

Ralphie smiled, "If you have something else you need to do, I'm kewl, dudes. Being a model, I can get around this store, no problem."

Keith chuckled. Prez smiled, "That's very kewl, but for right now, we'd like to know more about you. John's told us virtually nothing. You came here to model and your manager went missing last Friday, soon after you arrived. Was your manager your legal guardian?"

Shaking his head, Ralphie answered, "No, but in lots of ways he might as well have been." He sighed then shared, "My parents died. My dad passed about four years ago from a stroke. Then my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. After the lump was removed, she started the radiation and chemo. It was too much for her and she died. I was sent to live with my aunt and uncle, on my mom's side. Uncle Rob was my mom's brother. He died of a heart attack last year. Aunt Eve started seeing this guy a few months ago. I always got the impression he'd rather I wasn't around. Since she couldn't be contacted, I'll bet she split to be with him."

"That's rough, dude," Keith softly said.

Ralphie shrugged, "Mom and dad were, yeah. I barely pulled myself together and Uncle Rob was gone too."

At the front of the store, Keith pulled a cart out for Ralphie. Taking the cart from Keith, Ralphie slid his suitcase onto the rack underneath, and then rolled it to the underwear. Prez wondered, "So, did your aunt get you into modeling?"

"Nope," Ralphie smiled, "Mom and dad had me modeling before I started school. Toddler clothes for stores or manufacturers. I still do it because it's fun and it's big bucks. Lots o' times, I got to keep the clothes I modeled too. It's like a connection with my folks to me. If I had to keep doing that, it wouldn't bother me at all."

Keith said, "It's kewl that you enjoy it, Ralphie, but how would you feel if you didn't have to do modeling work any more?"

After humming thoughtfully while grabbing a few packages of briefs, Ralphie said, "Ya know, I'm not too sure. One of the bad parts of modeling has been home schooling with tutors. My friends have always been other models, that I rarely got to see or talk to, unless we happened to be on a job together again. That sucked. The connection to mom, dad, and the money and clothes though kind o' made it all worth while."

Prez said, "Here, all the kids are expected to be kids first and foremost. School is scheduled to start Monday morning. We want all you guys and gals to have the best possible opportunities in the future, so school is the second most important thing we expect from you."

"My grades are good," Ralphie said. "I'm twelve, but at a seventh or eighth grade level in everything." Keith gestured to the pajamas. Scrunching his face and shaking his head, Ralphie easily admitted, "Underwear or naked, thanks." He moved on and grabbed some socks, explaining, "Even at home in Erie, PA, I couldn't stand being in PJs," and then quickly went to the footwear, adding, "I'd rather have flannel sheets, a blanket and a comforter. That way there were no Pjs to get all twisted and try to suffocate me."

"All the kids have ID cards and pre-paid credit cards for their allowances," Keith told Ralphie. "We'll probably have them for you and all these other newbies in a few days." He and Prez then suggested various on-base odd jobs Ralphie might be interested in, so he could earn extra money.

Sitting down to try on a pair of Nike sneakers, Ralphie was obviously upset, causing Prez and Keith to ask what was wrong. Concentrating on lacing the sneakers, Ralphie grumbled, "I'll bet my aunt emptied my savings account. That's about twenty-five thousand bucks and seven years of work, shot to hell. The fucking bitch."

Receiving a few words from John caused Prez and Keith to smile. Prez told Ralphie, "Your aunt abandoned you, Ralphie. We'll find her and she'll be arrested for being bitchy above and beyond the call. Maybe we can recover your savings, even though you won't need it here, it's yours and can accrue interest in a bank."

"Sweetness!" Ralphie giggled. "Even if she spent the money and it's gone... thanks, guys, that almost makes my day."

Prez and Keith chorused, "Almost?"

With one sneaker on and the other laced, Ralphie paused, looked up and giggled, "I know about Clan Short. Don't think for a second I'm not happy to be here, cos I really am. Yeah, my life is changing and there's some screwed up stuff I'll deal with, but each and every photo shoot was screwed up someway or another. I've had people tell me that my hair was too long, when they're takin' pictures of underwear and not even showing my face. Suddenly, I've got a shitty, spur of the moment haircut to deal with too. This last week was kind o' fucked up, but I wasn't starving or anything, just a little worried about what was happening. If I had to be abandoned, where better than in Honolulu, where I could swim in a pool, or at the beach, watch TV, do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and best of all, nothing was asked of me." Giggling his ass off, Ralphie put the other sneaker on and tied it. When finished, he loudly laughed, "Poor, poor me, abandoned in the Republic of Hawaii and rescued by Clan Short. No more work and surrounded by other kids like me to make real friends for the first time ever. I'd cry if I could stop laughing!"

The other seventy-two newbie Rimmers in the store heard Ralphie's declarations. Girls and boys and Core Rimmers alike began giggling and laughing.

Julio and Jesse had Daileass transport them to where Keith and Prez were. They arrived in the basement store only a few meters away and went to their Clan brothers. Julio said, "We're about to head home guys."

Jesse softly offered, "Thanks for a great time." Considering the California orphanage operations the Des Moines Division helped with, Prez and Keith smiled at each other. All four boys softly chortled. Jesse giggled, "Seriously, other than a few hours in Cali last night, this has been a great little vacation."

Closest to Jesse, Prez offered his hand to shake and smiled, "It's been awesome meeting and getting to work with you, dudes."

Knocking knuckles with Julio, Keith chuckled, "After this last day, our two divisions have gotten really close. I know John and Robin had a good time, and our boys have become friends with some of your little guys."

Noticing Ralphie smiling at Jesse, like he'd been reacquainted with a long lost friend, Prez introduced the newest Rimmer to Julio and Jesse.

Standing and shaking hands with Jesse, Ralphie gushed, "Are you a model?"

Intensely blushing, Jesse shook his head and meekly replied, "No."

"You could be a great model and make big bucks, if you wanted," Ralphie pleasantly assured. Wide-eyed, Julio watched his partner's face almost turn Klingon purple and cracked up. Knowing that Jesse was very reserved almost all the time, Keith and Prez chuckled. Ralphie giggled and told his new leaders, "Seriously! Picture Jess in a suit and tie, or down to his drawers, or in Speedos. He'd be the next big teen model in days."

It was Julio's turn to blush, as the suggested images ran through his head. "You've got a point," he squeaked as he tried to hide his body's response to the thoughts.

Jesse smiled, "Thank you. I don't know if I'd really be as good as you think, but I think we should maybe get together some time and you can teach me some stuff. I like modeling for Julio, so it won't be wasted."

Quickly, Prez shook hands and said goodbye to Julio. Keith said goodbye to Jesse with a hug, so he could tease his new friend and Clan brother. Keith whispered in Jesse's ear, "Get Julio alone and your butt in Speedos as soon as you get home." Blushing and nodding, Jesse gave Keith a quick peck on the cheek then stepped back.

Waving, Jesse only moved his mouth and Julio called for Daileass to transport them home. They disappeared and Ralphie began walking around in his new Nikes, away from where Keith and Prez were standing and grinning at each other. They both found Ralphie's personality and attitude amazing and refreshing, because he was a different breed of kid from the majority of the others.

Rapidly spinning around to face Prez and Keith, the boy nodded, "Yup. These are kewl," and went back to the chair to take his Nikes off. Since Ralphie didn't need much assistance, Prez excused himself to help some other nearby kids. Keith told Ralphie about the basement nest and the dorms. Ralphie quickly decided to bunk at the dorm.

In Prez's sub-vocal, Alden giggled, "Head Rimmer?"

"What's up, Alden?"

"Several very remarkable things," Alden giggled. "First let me introduce my little brother, Kerry."

A new voice said, "Hello, Prez. I'm the AI at Des Moines."

Pleasantly, Prez said, "It's good to hear your voice, Kerry."

Kerry giggled, "I'm connecting a call from Julio for you, Prez."

Prez chuckled, "He just left and he's calling already?" Scowling, Keith turned to his hubby and tilted his head.

"Yes, Jesse and I wanted to invite you to a threesome." Julio deadpanned. "Look at your PADD, dude."

Prez joked, "Can we make it a foursome? I happen to know things work really well that way." With Keith giggling and returning his attention to Ralphie, Prez called, "Alden, get me my PADD, dude." He held his hand out and a second later Prez's PADD appeared. He began reading the downloaded information from Des Moines. Simultaneously, John was receiving information from Johnny in Des Moines and passing it along to Prez. Reading about a boy named Ronnie McCullough, from Saint Joseph, Michigan, and hearing John's remarks, Prez scrolled forward. Seeing the photo of Ronnie and feeling tingles run up his spine, Prez shouted, "You've got to be shitting me!"

Julio flatly stated, "Dude, I've got a hot boyfriend in purple Speedos hanging on me. Do you really think I'd be taking the time to bug you if this wasn't real?"

Gazing at Ralphie and then back to Keith, Prez thought a moment, then softly told Julio, "We've obviously gotta get these two together. I'll need to chat with Ralphie and let him know, but let's consider when, where and how we're allowing them to meet, so they're not as shocked as we are."

"First we need to get him... and his little brother," Julio stated. "Colin's assembling a hunting party, anyone there interested in joining?"

Prez explained, "Ya know, I'd really love to go, but with seventy-three newbies here, I should stay. Let me get Nathan, Kaleo and Tory. Alden, notify Nathan to get to Des Moines Command Center ASAP."

Alden confirmed the order. Prez walked away from Keith and Ralphie on a quest to find Kaleo and Tory. Seeing them with Sean and Troy, helping kids check out and load suitcases, Prez waved them over.

Drew saw Kaleo and Tory go to Prez. He and Corey went to the checkout counters and took over helping the newbies.

Pulling Kaleo and Tory close, Prez whispered, "Ya see Keith with the young blond boy?" When they nodded, Prez softly shared, "That's Ralphie Bonham, a boy John just brought here. Julio's on my sub-vocal, and just shared that Ralphie has a twin brother in Michigan, named Ronnie McCullough. I want you two to go to Des Moines and get to know Ronnie. John's tuned in to all of us, so whatever you learn, we'll all know about too."

Kaleo confirmed, "You want us to go right now?"

Prez nodded, "Colin and the Dutchmen are running the show. Nathan will be there with you too. Call your security to cover your cute butts and get going. We'll try to break this news to Ralphie."

Tory nodded and smiled, "I can't wait to see the Dutchmen in action."

Kaleo glanced around, looking for John. Levitating so he could easily be seen, John flashed a thumbs-up gesture, assuring Kaleo and Tory, 'I'll hear and see everything you two do and share it with the team, bros. Concentrate on Ronnie, be safe and I'll take care of the rest.'

Tory called for his and Kaleo's security, asking them to bring two additional hand phasers. Kaleo had Alden transport them all to the Des Moines Division Command Center.

Prez called, "Julio? Kaleo, Tory and Nathan Hayes will be there momentarily. They'll focus on Ronnie while the Dutchmen handle the gritty details. Is that kewl?"

"Sure; but you really shouldn't be thinking about handling Keith like that with the telepaths' links active. You're making Johnny blush!" Julio teased.

Blushing and starting to sweat, Prez stammered nonsensically. John broadcast, 'It was the 'gritty details' that got ya, bro. Your mind's tangents are showing!' Scattered around the store, Core Rimmers began evilly chuckling.

Prez giggled, "Umm... yeah! Julio, do you need anything else from us?"

"Yeah, save some of those cherries for dinner," Julio giggled. "Go take some private time bro, you deserve it."

Prez giggled, "Out and in and out!"

"Poor Keith, only quickies!" Julio giggled as he cut the connection.

Feeling something wicked was going on, Keith sneaked up behind Prez and tickled his ribs. Laughing his ass off, Prez spun around, grabbed Keith before he could get away and kissed him hard. In a mere ten minutes in the store, Ralphie was catching up with the other seventy-two newbies. Seeing Prez and Keith kissing, Ralphie's eyebrows rose, and without a second's thought, he continued on his shopping excursion to pick up a belt, a few more pairs of jeans, some sport shirts and a canvas wallet.

Finished sharing kisses of various intensity, Keith returned to Ralphie's orientation, explaining, "The dorm mob showers have liquid soap, bro. There's even hypo-allergenic soaps, marked with a capital 'H', for folks that can't deal with regular soaps."

Prez added, "Shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste and toothbrushes are more personal choices. Kaleo's got lube and condoms. When you want them, just let him know."

Nodding, Ralphie wondered, "Who is Kaleo?"

"Our communications officer," Keith replied. "He's out on another rescue mission right now. One of us will introduce you to him as soon as he returns."

"Kewl," Ralphie smiled, and then admitted, "I know what rubbers are, but what's the lube for?"

Having just gone through this, Keith and Prez grinned at each other. Prez said, "Lube has two purposes. The first, for younger pre-pubescent dudes like you, is for masturbation." Ralphie loudly laughed, but again didn't blush. Prez chuckled, "The second purpose is for on the condom, to make insertion much more comfortable, for you and your partner."

At last, Ralphie blushed and giggled, "I'm twelve, guys. I won't be worrying about inserting my dick into more than my fist for a while, I think."

Keith shrugged and chuckled, "Prez and I were twelve when we fell in love. Anything can happen with the right partner."

Rapidly approaching, with Stephen right behind, John laughed at his brothers, "You got Ralphie to blush, you horn-dogs!" He then faced Ralphie, asking, "How old do you think I am?"

Ralphie shrugged, "About my age," and then made the connection and gasped, "You're married?"

Stephen went into a giggling fit. John turned to his husband, planted a whopper of a kiss, and then introduced Stephen to Ralphie. John shared his age and then Stephen's age with Ralphie. While Ralphie gathered board shorts, Prez, Keith, John and Stephen went through the whole state of affairs; that all the Core Rimmers were considered adults, officers in Starfleet and had gotten married Tuesday evening.

Other newbies that had completed their shopping quickly were being transported out via Alden at Mike's and Derrick's commands, so they could hang by the pools or do whatever they liked with other Rimmer kids. A little at a time, the largest mass of kids that had ever been in the basement store at one time thinned out.

John and Stephen took over helping Ralphie. Prez and Keith went to the checkout counters to relieve Drew and Corey, who then checked around and helped other newbies. It seemed everyone on the boy's side of the store was gravitating toward Ralphie. Boys that only hours earlier were shy and quiet were warming up to their new environment. Not doing anything special beyond being friendly and meeting the other new boys, Ralphie joked around about the twists of fate that brought him to Ewa Beach. Clothing selections that had been progressing rather quickly slowed considerably as Ralphie used his modeling knowledge to help other boys select items that matched skin tone, hair and eye colors.

All the Core Rimmers were receiving information from Kaleo, Tory and Nathan via John's mind dumps. It suddenly dawned on Prez that he had never officially made Nathan a Core Rimmer, so he told Alden to log the decision. John shared the information with Nathan. Alden shared the decision with Lieutenant Vorik, so that Nathan would also have security assigned.

John began receiving information about the operation in progress to rescue Ralphie's brother. Colin, the Dutchmen and all ground forces were transported to the State of Michigan, 623 Lake Michigan Street, in the town of St. Joseph. Within a minute, it was determined by telepathic scans that the two nearest homes were also included in the operation. Assigned to one of the homes were Nathan, Kaleo, Tory, Rasul, Mark, Zareb and Bayani. Hearing this, Prez's blood pressure went up and he walked away from where newbie kids might hear his inevitable swearing.

Believing a seven man team to be inadequate, Prez told John to have Nathan hold off a few seconds for reinforcements. Since he and Keith were safe on base, Prez ordered all six of their security to join the operation. Within thirty seconds, two gorillas, Gamba and Naasir, and four human security, Chris, Matthew, Justin and Daniel were on-site.

The four gorillas split in half, two on the front door and two on the rear door, all of which were armed with fifty-caliber machine guns. They were backed up by Chris and Matthew in the front, while Justin and Daniel took positions covering the rear. Hearing the commotion from three helicopter gunships and one heavily armed transport 'copter, an adult man came running out of the rear door with a thirty-eight revolver, directly into Gamba. Before the man could react and raise his weapon, Naasir hit him in the face with the butt of his fifty-cal. The revolting sound of crushing bones was heard. The unconscious, dying man crumbled to the porch.

Wide-eyed, Naasir griped, "Oops!"

Gamba grinned, "Don't ya just hate when that happens?"

Naasir shrugged, "He ran right into you. Are you alright?"

Gamba sniggered, "He almost knocked the wind out of me. The butt of your gun has a few new scrapes from his teeth though, I see."

Inspecting his weapon, Naasir grumbled, "Damn it!" He thought a second then grinned, "I'll have the Scoobies polish it up, good as new."

In the front of the house, Rasul broke down the door and entered an empty living room with Zareb. In the rear, Gamba and Naasir entered the open door into a kitchen area, also cleared of any residents. Every ground level door was opened and cleared. Under the staircase leading up another door led to a set of stairs heading down. Again, the forces split, four went down and four went up.

Outside, Nathan, Kaleo, Tory, Mark and Bayani heard a woman's abruptly cut short scream. Nathan hurried toward the front door. Reacting on Nathan's telepathic orders, Kaleo, Tory and their enhanced human security followed only as far as the front doorway, so no one could possibly escape. Nathan went inside and hurried up the stairs before him. The other four in the basement came up to the living room, with two small boys on the gorillas' backs. Both boys were clad in tattered sweatpants and sweatshirts that revealed the T-shirts and underpants beneath.

"I gots me a gorilla!" one of the little lads cheered. The sentiment was echoed by the other little guy. Kaleo, Tory, Mark and Bayani began laughing.

Upstairs, doors were broke down. Gamba yelled, "Cut her down!"

From the other upstairs rooms, Matthew was heard saying, "We're Clan Short, here to rescue you both."

Naasir grumbled, "Damn it! No pulse. She's gone."

At the Ewa Beach store, Prez was in the men's room having a meltdown and cussing up a blue storm.

Nathan, Chris and Matthew came downstairs with two slightly older boys, clad only in underpants and covered in bruises and welts, making their physical abuses obvious. The gorillas, Gamba and Naasir, followed the others downstairs. Gamba reported, "One adult female, deceased."

Kaleo queried, "Cause of death?"

"Suicide," Gamba replied, "she hung herself from the ceiling lamp fixture."

"Serves her right," one of the older boys groused.

The other nodded and evilly grinned, "Can I piss on her, so she don't burn in hell too fast?"

Tory giggled, "Do you need to leak?"

"I'll force it," the boy cackled, causing everyone to crack up.

Tory checked with Kaleo. Receiving a nod and a brief explanation of "It's therapeutic," Tory led both older boys upstairs to wish their old mum goodbye and good riddance.

Kaleo began chatting with the two boys perched on the gorillas' backs. One was five-year-old Jimmy Carr. The other was six-year-old Scott Deaver. The four boys had been sexually molested and abused by their now ex-foster parents, Earnest and Elaine Yates. The two with Tory upstairs were nine-year-old Jason Mullins and eleven-year-old Billy Whittmore. It was Billy that suggested the trip back upstairs, Scott told Kaleo. Gamba explained that when he found the woman hanging, he held her up so Naasir could cut her down, in the hope of saving her life, so they could acquire more information telepathically. The welcoming conversation was cut short by loud laughter from upstairs.

Now knowing that his friends in Michigan were safe, Prez came out of the men's room, still a little red in the face from his temper tantrum, but obviously relieved. Heading for Keith and reading his PADD, Prez considered taking a brief trip to Maui. If all the mothers could be Valium junkies, then what was wrong with a Clan director seeking out some recreational herb? Heading for Keith, Prez giggled then started singing;

I could wile away the hours
Conferrin' with the flowers
Consultin' with the rain
And my head I'd be scratchin'
While my thoughts were busy hatchin'
If I only had a brain

I'd unravel any riddle
For any individ'le
In trouble or in pain
With the thoughts I'd be thinkin'
I could be another Lincoln
If I only had a brain

Oh, I would tell you why
The ocean's near the shore
I could think of things I never thunk before
And then I'd sit and think some more

I would not be just a nuffin'
My head all full of stuffin'
My heart all full of pain
I would dance and be merry
Life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain

Keith smiled, "What's wrong, baby?"

"Nothin'," Prez giggled. "Kaleo, Tory, Nathan and all our guys are safe. Gamba got a little rattled and Naasir probably over-reacted a little bit, but everybody's fine. They're wrapping stuff up."

Nodding, Keith shared, "Ralphie's tuned in about his brothers."

Having not seen that on his PADD, Prez's head sagged. He repeated, "Brothers? Not singular brother?"

John sent, 'Sorry Prez. I figured you were worried enough, so I didn't tell you. Ralphie is one of three brothers, including Ronnie in Michigan and Richie in Las Vegas.'

Laughing his ass off, Prez wandered away and started playing Minesweeper on his PADD. Randomly choosing a corner to click on, Prez stepped on a mine and the board blew up. Shaking his head, Prez only laughed louder. A few moments later, newbie kids saw their new leader strolling around four feet up off the floor. Prez was paying attention to his game and didn't notice until kids began giggling and pointing, softly commenting on the levitated leader. Pausing to learn what the hubbub was about and seeing himself up off the floor, Prez loudly laughed, "John!"

John giggled, 'You said you wanted to get high, so-oo...'

Smiling widely, Ralphie glanced around at his new leaders, wondering, "Will Prez be alright?"

"Eventually," Derrick sniggered.

Hugging Ralphie close, Keith playfully explained, "Prez loves math and history. He's doing calculus equations to figure out how one became three, and eighty-seven grew to over two hundred in six days."

"Guess it's not easy bein' a head rimmer," Ralphie softly giggled. The remaining dozen newbie boys around Ralphie cracked up.

His eyes darting mischievously, Mike grinned, "It's been that kind of a day for Prez. Maybe it was the two hundred new buses?"

Derrick sniggered, "Or the kids at school making a ruckus?"

Keith laughed, "Or the two turtle doves, three French hens and four calling birds?"

Drew giggled, "Today is our sixth day as Clan. Maybe he wants his six geese a laying and..."

"Five golden rings," all the Core Rimmers loudly sang.

From across the store, Prez bellowed, "I know y'all are goofin' on me. Remember, turnabout is fair play."

Only moments later, Kaleo, Nathan, Ronnie and Tory transported into the basement store, near Keith and Ralphie. Kaleo smiled and loudly introduced the two long lost brothers to each other, and then introduced the other four boys, Jimmy Carr, Scott Deaver, Jason Mullins and Billy Whitmore, also rescued from St. Joseph, Michigan. Tory, Kaleo, Keith and Nathan couldn't help noticing similarities between the brothers; they were the same height, approximately the same weight, had the same long dirty blond hair and dreamy light brown eyes, only Ralphie's hair was parted down the middle while Ronnie's was parted high down the left side.

First to speak, Ralphie asked, "Have you felt like..."

"there was someone missing," Ronnie softly finished. He huffed and smiled, "Even though I had Adam, a half brother that was very much a real brother."

Cautiously stepping forward and opening his arms, Ralphie admitted, "I didn't have a brother or sister. I hope we might someday, somehow..."

"We will get that close and closer," Ronnie softly assured, and stepped into his brother's open arms. Ralphie's arms wrapped high around Ronnie's back. Ronnie's hands wrapped tightly around Ralphie's waist. Each boy rested their head on the brother's shoulder and inhaled deeply.

It could easily be seen that the two brothers were relaxing and enjoying twelve years of missed hugs in this one embrace.

On the opposite side of the store, Corey, Drew, Reyes, Sean and Troy loudly laughed, "PREZ! That's the girl's changing room!"

Barely a second later, amongst a chorus of female yells, Prez walked out of the changing room, blushing and laughing, "Well, Minesweeper sucked so I started playing Ms. Pacman. Where better than there?"

Kaleo and Tory cracked up. They gathered Jimmy, Scott, Jason and Billy then led the way to the front of the store. Softly sniggering, Keith threw his arms up in the air, knowing his beloved had lost his mind somewhere at Anahola Bay Saturday afternoon, but wasn't sure where exactly.

Nathan called, "Daileass!"

Over the loudspeakers, Daileass giggled, "I know, bro. We've gotta get these guys to take a break soon."

"Give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar," Prez sang through giggles. Knowing this wasn't an order, but acting like it was anyway, many dozens of Kit Kat bars materialized up by the ceiling and fell around the newbie kids in the store. Some dropped directly onto unsuspecting kids and others were snatched out of the air. Soon kids were munching on the chocolate coated cookie bars.

Still attached to one another, Ralphie giggled, "These guys are lots of fun."

"The one's in Des Moines weren't exactly normal either," Ronnie sniggered.

Ralphie sighed, "I'm looking forward to meeting Adam someday soon."

Leaning back to look into Ralphie's eyes and seeing sincerity there, Ronnie smiled, "We will soon." Ronnie's comm-badge chirped for the first time. He tapped it and uncertainly said, "Hello?"

"Hey Ronnie, it's Garrett," the voice said.

"Hey," Ronnie smiled, "did Adam get to meet his brothers yet?"

"Not yet," Garrett replied. "Adam's a little freaked out here."

Ronnie huffed, "Adam, the butterflies aren't a bad thing, bro. Mine are still flapping like mad."

"Mine too," Ralphie giggled.

"Oh my God, you even sound similar," Adam gushed.

"But I'm cuter," Ralphie and Ronnie said almost simultaneously. Boys in the Des Moines Command Center and in the Ewa Beach basement store loudly laughed while the two brothers suspiciously eyed one another then broke into giggles.

Adam sniggered, "So everything's kewl?"

"Very kewl," Ronnie assured. "So pull yourself together and go meet your brothers. The butterflies will flap for a while. Get used to it and don't let the feeling hold you back."

Adam regained control quickly. "I've got to see them on the screen; one looks like me, and the other two look a little like me, but they're different too. They all seem so close, I don't want to mess that up."

"You won't," Ronnie promised.

Ralphie added, "You can't really. I mean, it's like we kind o' have to be who we are anyway. We sort o' have to love each other cos we're brothers. If we like each other too, it's a bonus. Liking each other a lot is even better." He reached for and took hold of Ronnie's hand, leading his brother toward the front of the store.

Squeezing Ralphie's hand tighter because he liked what was said, Ronnie nodded and smiled, "I already like Ralphie plenty."

"What's not to like?" Ralphie coyly giggled.

Rolling his eyes, Ronnie sniggered, "Your self hatred is really starting to bug me."

"I'll work on it with my brothers," Ralphie giggled.

Locking eyes with Ralphie, Ronnie nervously repeated, "Brothers?"

Ralphie nodded, "Yup. We're triplets. There's one more we're still waiting to meet."

"Oh my God!" Adam and Ronnie softly gasped across the comm-link.

"So we're all gonna have butterflies the rest of the night and maybe into tomorrow," Ralphie laughed.

Garrett giggled, "We have got to get together soon. Imagine all eight of us actually in the same room."

His eyes flashing mischievously, Ronnie grinned, "It sounds like a great time to me."

Ralphie checked, "You guys do know it's still warm beach weather here, right?"

"Very kewl!" Garrett excitedly gushed. "We could all meet there, maybe tomorrow or Saturday? Then we could come here for a good ol' fashioned Christmas Eve, and then do it again, a couple o' hours later there. If we're lucky, it might even snow."

Turning toward Keith, Ralphie wondered, "What's Christmas like here?"

"Christmas is always Christmas, regardless of the weather," Keith smiled.

Joining up with the crowd around Ralphie and Ronnie, Drew added, "The best part here is, if you get a new skateboard or bike, you'll prob'ly be able to go out and use it Christmas Day."

Corey nodded, "I can only remember one Christmas it rained. The rest were sunny and warm, about eighty degrees Fahrenheit."

Ronnie asked, "Are you chillin', Adam?"

"Yeah, bro," Adam sighed. "Now I'm feeling really excited, like it is Christmas."

Garrett chuckled, "What better early present could there be than when brothers are reunited?"

Ronnie smiled, "We'll see you guys real soon, okay? If you need to talk, just give me a call."

"Kewl," Garrett and Adam chimed. Everyone nearby said goodbye to Adam and Garrett.

Ralphie released his brother's hand to begin getting him new clothes. The crew helped Ronnie select his clothes from the store. Ronnie had started wearing boxers and wanted to continue wearing them. The two brothers chatted up a storm about just that simple choice, as if it were a major decision, and Ralphie tossed an extra package of boxers into his cart so he could try switching now and then.

Cautiously, Ronnie softly suggested, "You could wear mine too if ya wanted, bro? Ya know, when they're clean, of course."

Stunned that Ronnie would offer his underwear, Ralphie slowly smiled then giggled, "That's what brothers do, huh?"

Ronnie nodded and chuckled, "Just tell me what of yours is off-limits and I won't use it. I'll do the same too, for any favorite stuff I have. Other than that, all our stuff could easily be worn by any of the three of us."

Giggling like crazy, Ralphie hurried to Ronnie and wrapped his arms around him again, giving a very tight squeeze. "I never had brothers to even consider that. Thanks, bro."

Ronnie whispered into Ralphie's ear, "We're gonna spend a lot of time together, tonight, tomorrow and for a long time."

With happy tears pooling in his eyes, Ralphie softly said, "I love you, bro."

"I love you too," Ronnie quickly assured.

"I might need a little help, being a brother for the first time and all," Ralphie shivered.

Ronnie nodded, "Brothers help each other all the time, whenever it's needed."

Stepping back from the hug, Ralphie smiled, "I can't wait to meet our other brother, Richie."

Ronnie queried, "Is that his name?"

Ralphie nodded, "Yup, Richie Telford."

Tossing packages of socks into Ralphie's shopping cart, Ronnie smirked, "Our mother didn't have much of an imagination."

"Maybe she just liked 'R' names?" Ralphie giggled at his own bad pun.

Moving past the pajamas and into the footwear department, Ronnie glanced around from Ralphie to Keith and the other Core Rimmers, wondering, "Do you all know how we got separated?"

Kaleo nodded and frowned, "You were abducted, stolen as infants. Maybe your names were given by that cretin? We don't really know."

Ralphie gasped, "No shit?"

While Kaleo, Tory and the other nearby Core Rimmers nodded, Ronnie checked, "Are you okay, bro?"

Ralphie nodded, "I guess. Both my parents had brown hair, so I guessed long ago that I was adopted."

John said, "We'll get pictures of your feet, to learn where you were born and who your real parents were."

"We were born June twenty-third, 1992," Ralphie said, and Ronnie rapidly nodded.

Over the store's PA system, Derrick called, "Customer service to the checkout counters, we're backin' up big time and need more help here."

Keith chuckled, "Okay, dudes. John, Stephen, Drew and Corey can help these six dudes through the store." Leaving Jimmy, Scott, Jason, Billy, Ralphie and Ronnie, Kaleo, Tory and Keith went to help Mike and Derrick. All the other newbie boys surrounding the twin brothers followed their leaders to get their clothing checked out.

At three that afternoon, the parents of Hajime Sato and Aki Hikada arrived at Ewa Beach. Although they arrived in separate cars, Hajime's parents began their hateful tirade in the parking lot and continued in the reception area, tearing into Aki's parents in Japanese. Rob Gibbons yelled over the combined voices, in Japanese, to restore order. Hajime's parents were warned by Rob that sexuality is not determined anywhere except by the individual genetics. Of course, Hajime's father spouted more irritating and rude words at Rob. Rob's gorilla cursed the man in Japanese, effectively warning him that another word could land him in Starfleet prison for two years. Standing nearby in the hallway, Tamara Hekekia, Anna Seibert's security and George Lu witnessed all that had transpired.

Also speaking in fluent Japanese, Tamara informed the Satos that their interview was canceled due to their hateful, homophobic rhetoric. "I am summarily recommending that Hajime remain in the care of Family Clan Short of Vulcan," Tamara reported. "All parental obligations and responsibilities are nullified. You are not to come within one hundred yards of this facility or Hajime. Failure to comply..." Mister Sato stood and lunged at Tamara, but was blocked by Rob and his gorilla's large arm. Once Mister Sato was forced into a chair again, Rob Gibbons read the man his rights, handcuffed him and then called Starfleet security to place the man under arrest.

While Mrs. Sato wept over her husband and shattered family, George Lu greeted Aki's parents and led them from the reception area to his office. Comparatively, a very peaceful interview was held with the Hikadas. They admitted not knowing of, or understanding Aki's homosexuality. George informed them of Aki's wishes to remain with Hajime and as part of Clan Short Pacific Rim Division. Once they heard Aki's and Hajime's recorded statements, they reluctantly agreed. Since the Hikadas were patient and understanding, they would be granted weekly visitations on base with Aki. Sunday's were set aside, from nine in the morning until five in the evening.

George Lu carefully informed them of the security cameras and microphones scattered around the base. If at any time Aki, Hajime or any child on base was verbally or physically abused, their visitation privileges would be revoked. By the time the interview ended, Mrs. Sato was no longer on base. George Lu supervised the first meeting between Aki and his parents. Understandably, Aki was upset about the way he and Hajime came out, but he was also relieved that his parents still cared enough about him to visit every week.

A little after four that afternoon, Anna Seibert met with John, Cesar and Felipe to learn what was already known about Jerry Burk's foster parents. The three boys were still in Anna's office when the Krey's, Theodore and Zelma, were led into the room by Rob Gibbons. Introducing herself, Anna stood and greeted Jerry's foster parents. Both seemed quite pleasant. Mr. Krey insisted that he be addressed as Ted and Mrs. Krey asked that her first name also be used.

Returning to her seat, Anna informed the two adults, "John is a trained Clan Short telepath and can confirm all statements made here today. Cesar and Felipe are also telepathic and are being trained by John."

Ted Krey nodded and flatly stated, "That's fine, we have nothing to hide. Jerry already told me about some issues he had been having with my wife. I assume that's why he ran away from home."

Anna nodded, "Yes it is."

John softly called, "Aunt Anna?"

"Yes, John?"

"I know what the problem is," John sighed, and then turned to Zelma, saying, "You're bipolar and don't consistently take your meds like you're supposed to." Seeing the woman blushing, John then told Ted, "Jerry wasn't lying, Mr. Krey, he really does like you a lot, he just doesn't trust Mrs. Krey. She did throw a large carving knife at Jerry, she knows it and is sorry about it and all the other things she did that caused Jerry to not trust her."

Ted closed his eyes and softly muttered, "Zelma, you promised."

"They make me feel... odd," Zelma softly wept.

Opening his eyes, Ted asked Anna, "Is it too late for us?"

"I'm afraid it is, yes," Anna sighed. "Jerry would prefer to remain here with his friends. The trust issue Jerry has is confirmed and appropriate. I've spoken with Jerry and John has confirmed the knife incident. Initially, I thought I'd be having Zelma arrested for child endangerment, but circumstances are medical in this case. Zelma, you must follow your doctor's orders in the future. Ted, Jerry asked if you would like to occasionally visit him here on base."

Ted nodded, "Yes I would, but financially it wouldn't be possible for that to happen more than once a month. I often work weekends, and the flight is expensive."

"Don't worry about the cost," Anna instructed. "The Clan will arrange for your visits." She prompted, "Choose a weekend that would be acceptable for you."

He answered, "How about the first weekend of the month." Ted asked, "Could I see Jerry today, while I'm here?"

Anna nodded, "Yes, I'll arrange for that." She then told Ted Krey about the base's audio and video monitoring capabilities and explained the ramifications of any threatening actions made toward any child on base. To make this meeting easier for everyone involved, Zelma remained in the FYS reception area while Ted went with Anna to speak with Jerry.

Around the Ewa Beach base, kids were having fun, making use of the pool, the diving well, indoor rec center, the C.I.C. rec room and the dorm common rooms. The most unusual thing that happened was when Lupe Jui tried to jump off her swing, resulting in mildly scraped knees and hands. The unofficial Rimmer mom, Lanna Seaver, took Lupe to the F.Y.S. building for Doc Howard to clean and bandage the minor wounds.

Before leaving for the day, George prepared a brief e-mail for Jennifer Hundser, stating that perhaps it might be advantageous for F.Y.S. to develop group counseling sessions to help parents understand their bisexual, gay or lesbian children. George left for home to help his wife pack. They would be moving on base and into one of the one bedroom condo apartments that weekend. Since their own child had grown and moved out on her own, they had already begun considering adopting, if one of the kids liked them and wanted them as parents.

Also around four in the afternoon, the few remaining newbies, John, Stephen, Drew and Corey transported out of the store to get kids settled in dorm rooms. Kids began forming groups of two, three or four and choosing rooms. Ralphie and Ronnie chose to share a room together. They decided to remain there alone, talking and organizing their room until dinner time. Once they were left alone, Ronnie turned on the television. Ralphie checked the two laptop computers on the desks and powered them up. Still flipping channels, Ronnie softly admitted, "I never had a PC of my own."

Ralphie nodded, "But you know how to use one, right?"

"Yeah, from school," Ronnie answered. He chuckled, "This room is really nice. We've got our own Xbox, a stereo and two full size beds." Landing on a music video channel, Ronnie put the remote down and turned to his brother, nervously stammering, "Do you... umm... have you... ever?"

Tilting his head, Ralphie asked, "What's wrong, bro?"

"We're sleeping in this room together," Ronnie reminded.

"Yup," Ralphie smiled. "I never shared a room before. It's gonna be kewl, having brothers to chat with before crashing, I mean."

"Yeah, but..."

Figuring that he had already been caught, Ralphie's smile faded and he muttered, "You're worried about me, being gay?"

Relieved, Ronnie happily gushed, "You're gay too?"

Nodding, Ralphie giggled, "Yup. This place is filled with eye candy too. All our leaders are so cute, and lots of the guys in the store were real nice. Maybe someday I'll find a special one, finally."

Heading for his bed and lifting his suitcase, Ronnie teased, "Have you got anyone in mind?"

"Not yet," Ralphie giggled. He lifted his suitcase and dropped it on his bed to unpack, absently rambling, "Ryan Caswell is real cute, but really shy. Terry Fisk has a good sense of humor, but he's kind o' quiet and shy too. Mike Busse is older and lookin' really fine, but he might be just a dream, because he's obviously older than me." Unzipping his suitcase, Ralphie asked, "Have you got a boyfriend?" Ronnie shrugged and giggled. "Uh oh," Ralphie laughed, "you do, don't you?"

"Maybe," Ronnie blushed. He started pulling clothes from his suitcase and ripping tags off, saying, "My little brother, Adam is tryin' to fix me up with Garrett, ya know, the one who called me earlier? He's nice enough, I guess, and definitely cute, but we just met, and then I came here to meet you. You and Richie are my priority now."

"I know what you mean," Ralphie grinned. "There's twelve years of catchin' up to do."

While continuing to unpack and put their things away in dressers and closets, Ralphie and Ronnie spoke of their pasts. They had finished putting their things away then began to get their laptop computers set up. Ralphie took the MacBook as his primary computer while Ronnie was perfectly happy with the Windows computer. Since Ronnie was completely unfamiliar with Macs, he pulled his chair over to Ralphie's desk where he got his first lessons. Ralphie explained the Mac Finder as the equivalent of Windows Explorer then demonstrated various file functions. Macs had lots of kewl school tools too, like an audio recorder, so that class lectures could be played back as a study aid. Of course it had e-mail, calendar and contact list programs too, as well as good office products like a word processor to write reports. They had just moved on to the Safari browser when there was a knock at the door. Both brothers hollered, "Come in."

The door opened. Ralphie and Ronnie turned to watch their third brother, Richie enter the room, and stop just beyond the door, softly saying, "Hey."

Getting up from their chairs, Ralphie and Ronnie hurried to Richie and sandwiched him in a hug. "Look at you," Ralphie giggled.

Ronnie laughed, "All three of us growing up separately, but we all have long hair and wear the same kinds of clothes!"

Surprised at the reception, Richie smirked, "It's warm like this in Las Vegas."

"We were expecting you over an hour ago," Ralphie smiled.

Ronnie asked, "What took you so long?"

Awkwardly shrugging from the center of the sandwich, Richie sighed, "I was kind o' scared, I guess."

Stepping back, Ralphie wondered, "Scared of us?"

Also giving Richie some space, Ronnie smirked, "Are you sure you weren't just anxious?"

Richie shrugged and softly offered, "Nope, don't think so."

Ralphie briefly scanned Richie's expression before saying, "Come on in and have a seat, bro."

Taking hold of the door, Ronnie nodded, "Let's see if we can make you less scared. Ya know, I've had major butterflies flapping in my belly, since before meeting Ralphie."

"They're still flappin', but not so bad any more," Ralphie said, and then gestured for Richie to sit on one of the chairs.

Ronnie closed the door. Following Ralphie and pulling the chair away from the desk, Richie sat down, glancing at the two mirror images of himself, and then looked down at the floor. Remembering the many hours of therapy, Richie knew that these two were his long lost 'imaginary friends'. The truth fought the learned opinions implanted by the shrink to a painful stalemate. Pulling the other chair out and across from Richie's seat, Ronnie wordlessly prompted Ralphie to take a seat. Sitting down, Ralphie somehow knew that Ronnie preferred to stand, but didn't give it another thought. Instead, he focused on Richie, asking, "What's the deal, bro?"

Tears welled up in Richie's eyes. With his head still sagging and not making eye contact with either brother, Richie nonsensically blubbered, "You guys won't like me or want me around. I always knew... had clear images of both of you, all my life. When I got to about six, my mom had me see a therapist, because I insisted I had imaginary friends." Sniffling and wiping his eyes, Richie caught his breath and sobbed, "You're not imaginary, but I've been taught you are, but here I am, hoping you'll at least accept me as I am, even though I doubt you will. I came here to just get it over with."

Ralphie glanced up at Ronnie. Ronnie nodded at Richie, wordlessly gesturing for Ralphie to speak first. Ralphie leaned forward to try and look into Richie's eyes, saying, "We're not imaginary, Richie. I always knew I had brothers too, but was raised alone."

"I had a half brother that kind o' made things a little easier," Ronnie offered. "I still felt like there were others, besides Adam, but didn't really think about it too much, because there was always a real brother there."

Ralphie firmly assured, "We want you here with us, Richie."

Ronnie added, "As brothers, we automatically love each other. Now we have to get to really know each other, so we can be friends as well as brothers, don't you think?"

Still hiding his face and wiping his eyes, Richie shrugged then spilled it all in one long statement. "I'm gay and like being held by other guys; I love feeling strong arms around me, but bein' around girls always left me feeling... I dunno... wrong, with nothin' to say; I enjoy hangin' with other guys, I like checkin' out dicks in the shower and ain't found one yet that wasn't worth lookin' at."

Ronnie giggled, "I couldn't have said it better myself."

Glancing back at Ronnie, Ralphie laughed, "Me too. Long thin ones or short fat ones or any dick at all, really. Being a model, I got to see plenty of naked dudes and never saw a dick I didn't like."

Looking up at his two brothers, but still wiping his eyes, Richie squealed, "Really?"

"Really," Ralphie and Ronnie chorused.

Ralphie explained, "We came in here to get our stuff put away and spend some time alone together, just to start getting to know each other."

Ronnie nodded and blushed, "I play with my dick every night. There ain't nothin' comin' out yet, but I can't get to sleep without that wicked kewl feeling, ya know?"

Giggling his butt off, Ralphie nodded and bounced his eyebrows at Richie. At last, Richie shyly giggled, "I thought you'd hate me."

Ralphie sniggered, "Not because you like dudes and dick."

"Now we can compare notes," Ronnie joked. Ralphie and Richie evilly grinned and rapidly nodded.

Richie smiled and sighed, "Now I know that shrink was way more fucked up than I ever was. I have brothers, two very kewl brothers that are just like me, in appearance and everything, they're even gay like me. All I need to do is get past the lies the shrink dumped in my head."

"I know how we can make that happen," Ralphie grinned.

Ronnie had an idea of how and chuckled, "Yeah."

Richie wondered, "How?"

"Stay here with us," Ralphie simply said.

Richie thoughtfully hummed, thinking of his friends in Las Vegas as well as his long lost brothers now in Hawaii, becoming completely perplexed. Before he could speak, Ronnie said, "I've got friends we'll be visiting in Des Moines, Richie. We could visit your friends in Vegas too, just about any time we want."

Ralphie nodded, "I just think it's important that we spend as much time together as we can, these first few days, anyway. Your 'imaginary' friends will be in your face, reminding you it was the shrink that lied. You knew what we both knew, that there were guys missing."

"Kewl," Richie giggled. "I was stuck there for a minute." Looking up at Ronnie, he then loudly asked, "How'd you know what I was thinking?"

Ronnie shrugged, "Dunno, really."

Clapping his hands and then rubbing them together, Ralphie grinned, "We could stay here and catch up."

"Or?" Ronnie and Richie queried.

With a wicked gleam twinkling in his eyes, Ralphie giggled, "I happen to know lots o' guys here swim naked at the pool and diving well."

"Oo-oo!" Ronnie devilishly droned.

Holding both his arms out, Richie giggled, "Lead me to the dicks, so we have dream material for later."

Ralphie took hold of one of Richie's arms and Ronnie took the other outstretched arm. Together they left the dorm room on a mission. They didn't make it out of the nearby dorm door before seeing their first naked boy, twelve-year-old Thomas Cork, rescued from Anaheim, streaking out of his room toward the lavatory. Thomas waved and giggled at the stunned triplets. The three brothers glanced at each other, sighed and then hurried toward the pools, chattering about other common interests, so they didn't arrive with tented shorts. Outside and crossing the compound, another call came for Ronnie from Adam.

The vast majority of the orphanage kids decided to move to the dorms. Only ten of the youngest orphanage kids, six boys and four girls, chose to join the nest. All of those young kids were led to the FYS Building bear cave by John and Stephen, to choose their new best friends. Seven of the ten were from Anaheim and wanted to be with Drew and Corey. By dinner time, the first floor of three dormitory buildings were filled with boys. Also, girls had overflowed into the second dorm building.

The Scooby Gang went to Mike and Derrick just as they stepped out of one of the dorm buildings. Spike grinned, "Shiny Daddies, we's gots some shinys for yous."

Smiling and lifting his furry son, Mike glanced around at the four ferret-hybrids, smiling, "You got Shinys for us?" Spike, Xander, Willow and Faith rapidly nodded and hummed affirmatively.

Happily swaying to and fro, Faith added, "And the other Core Rimmers."

"And their mommies and daddies," Willow giggled, her eyes twinkling and darting around.

Expecting some baubles to be pulled out of the ferrets' waist sacks, Derrick prompted, "Can we see the Shinys?"

"At the parking garage," Xander toothily grinned.

Spike called, "Alden, gets all of the Core Rimmers and their mommies and daddies. Then transport everybody to the parking garage, yous know where."

Across their comm-badges, Alden giggled, "Workin' on it," and then executed the order. Derrick, Mike and the Scoobies were transported to an empty area of the second floor in the four story parking garage. Spike then scampered over Mike's shoulder and crawled down to the ground, gathering with his brother and sister. Over the next two minutes the others appeared; Keith and Prez, Drew and Corey, Sean and Troy, Kaleo and Tory, John and Stephen, Jim and Jen Hundser, Anna and Carl Seibert, Bill and Lanna Seaver, Rob and Laura Gibbons, Kathleen Marr, and lastly, Judy Faris. Everybody was chattering, wondering why they had been brought to the garage.

In unison, all four ferrets squeaked, "Follow us!" and scampered off to the other side of the second floor. The large group of twenty-four boys and adults followed them. Passing the ramps to the first and third floors, they saw a collection of vehicles and everyone stopped talking. Many jaws dropped.

The first car was a red Lamborghini Aventador. Willow smiled at Derrick, "This is for you Shiny Daddy."

The car beside it was a silver Maserati MC12 with blue stripes. Noticing many mouths hanging open, Spike giggled at Mike, "This is yours, Shiny Daddy."

The next car was a black Ferrari 599 XX Evoluzione that had white interior leather. Faith told Keith, "This one is for you. It looks like a shiny piano, don't you think?" Nodding, but completely speechless, Keith stepped forward and opened his arms. Faith jumped up into Keith's embrace.

Beside the Ferrari was an Alpina BMW B3 GT3 with a white exterior and black interior. Xander pointed and cheered, "This is for the Shiny Rimmer Leader." Cracking up, Prez went to Xander and picked him up.

The four ferrets went down the line of cars, giving one to each of the remaining twenty Rimmers, explaining that the shiny cars were 'taken from the Dull Loving orphanage men'. Drew got a yellow Corvette. Corey got a lime green Bertone Jaguar. The blue Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe was John's. Beside it was a red Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet for Stephen. Kaleo got a silver Mercedes-Benz SL 65 Roadster. Tory got the white Audi R8 LMS Ultra. The red Alfa Romeo Spider was for Sean. The midnight blue Aston Martin Vanquish was for Troy. Jennifer Hundser was pointed to a white Rolls-Royce Ghost. The black Rolls-Royce Phantom VI was Jim Hundser's. Shiny Grandpas Rob and Carl each got Bentley Continentals. Rob's was white and Carl's was silver. Rob's was specially outfitted with bullet proof glass, and dash and rear deck police emergency lights by the Scoobies. Shiny Grandmas Laura and Anna each got Cadillac Escalades, so they could go places with car loads of kids. Anna's was white with black interior and Laura's was black with white interior. Bill Seaver was given an Ascari A10. Lanna Seaver got a red Hennessey Venom GT. Kathleen Marr got a Dussenberg J La Grande Torpedo that was at least twice the size of her old car, which was abandoned in the parking lot of the Safeway store in Hilo. Lastly, Judy Faris got a white Weismann GT MF5. Of course, all the cars had been detailed, inside and out, to be as shiny as possible. The Scoobies were repeatedly thanked for the gifts and given hugs by all the Core Rimmers.

Across the parking lot were another two dozen 'spare' shiny Cadillacs, Hummers, Jeeps and Lincoln Towne cars, that anyone could use or give away to future Core Rimmers, whichever they decided to do. Walking out of the garage, the Rimmer families and the ferrets discussed when they could take the new cars out for a spin. Since none of the Core Rimmers had driver's licenses, Rob would arrange for that locally with Department of Motor Vehicles and the police. The discussion reminded Derrick that everyone needed to take additional driving classes for the new fleet of buses. On the way to the pools and playground to get their kids, Prez called Danny Page to start the process of arranging for bus driving lessons. Danny told Prez he would contact the Charleston Police and get back to him with dates and times.

During dinner, the Core Rimmers sat near each other and worked out how many dorm rooms were still available at the main base. It was pretty obvious that when the additional California orphanage kids showed up they would be overflowing onto another base. An additional one-hundred-seventy-six kids would be showing up within the next week and one-hundred-sixteen of them were boys. The third and final dorm at Ewa Beach would be all boys, meaning sixty would have to live at the Oneula Beach base about a mile west of Ewa Beach.

The fourth building was the UNIT dorm. Sitting with other UNIT boys, Kekoa was close to the Core Rimmers tables. Kekoa and those there were asked how many rooms were available in that dorm building. Since there were only a few rooms left in that building, it was decided to let that building remain for only UNIT kids. In addition to the fifty base security personnel, the personal security for all the Core Rimmers and their parents were billeted there.

"Hey, Prez?" Daileass called out over Prez's comm-badge, "You make that trip to Maui yet?"

"Not yet, Daileass," Prez smirked, "given the right instigation though, I was considering tonight or tomorrow."

"Tonight I think," Daileass said with a chuckle. "Sammy's on his way over, he says he needs to talk to you."

Prez shrugged, "Kewl. I haven't met him yet. Open the shield portals and let him transport over, Daileass."

"Okay, oh and you may want to make sure your mom's all stocked on on her drugs." As soon as Daileass's voice faded out, a large group of people appeared next to the table. At the front of the group was Sammy. Prez recognized him since he saw him during Wednesday morning's teleconference call. Standing next to him were Vishnu and Kartick, but what really drew attention was the two Juans with him.

Standing and offering his right hand, Prez greeted Sammy, his eyes constantly shifting to the two Juan look-a-likes.

"Hey Prez. It's good to finally meet you in person," Sammy said, barely restraining his laughter. "Oh... I'd like you to meet Phobos and Deimo, a couple of friends I just made."

Realizing that Phobos and Deimos were the names of moons of Mars, considered the God of War, Prez politely greeted the two boys, and then asked Sammy, "Are they Juan clones or just incredible look-a-likes?"

Phobos puffed his chest out and spoke with obvious pride. "Ares is our father!"

While Prez silently chewed on that admission, realizing why Daileass suggested the field trip to Maui sooner rather than later, Keith stood and greeted Sammy then began introducing the other Core Rimmers at nearby tables. Kaleo got up to join Keith and Prez.

Once the introductions were completed, Sammy noticed the three boys that had been rescued earlier. Sammy grinned sweetly then pointed to them. "Hey, kewl. I see you got three out of the four of them here." Before anyone could say anything, Sammy turned around. "Hey Robbie! You wanna meet your brothers?"

A second later, a bald twelve-year-old boy with big brown eyes stepped forward, his eyes immediately drawn to the three who looked just like him, save for the hair of course.

"Quadruplets?" Kaleo, Keith and Prez incredulously gasped. Understanding his brothers were flabbergasted, John telepathically called for Drew and Corey to join Stephen and to assist introducing the four brothers.

Regaining his senses, Prez locked eyes with Sammy, wondering, "Where was Robbie found?"

"Tacoma, Washington," Sammy grinned. "And the best part was, finding him wasn't the weirdest thing we found either."

"Obviously!" Keith and Kaleo laughed.

"Daileass!" Prez hollered. "Find me a way to get the Core Rimmers about six hours at Maui, so we can return relaxed, but fully functional."

"I got one better. Tell your mom your going on a week long vacation. You'll be back here in three minutes or less."

Mike yelled, "If we're going away for a week, our kids are coming with."

"And so is my mom," Keith reminded. "She'll want to see to it we're really relaxing."

Troy laughed, "We should bring some instruments too!"

"Get everything, and everyone you want. I'll send you guys over when you're ready." Daileass said with a laugh.

Sean giggled, "I am wondering where we're going."

Troy shrugged and grinned, "Does it matter?"

"I suppose not," Sean giggled.

Sammy laughed, "Well it looks like you guys got a vacation to plan. Enjoy it. I gotta take this lot on another trip." Sammy turned to Robbie, and his parents Jason and Trinity. "You take good care of your boys. If you ever need anything, just give me a call, okay?"

After many nods, handshakes, and hugs, Sammy and everyone with him left, leaving just Robbie and his parents standing there in front of the Rimmers. The other three brothers joined Robbie. After a brief exchange of brotherly greetings, Ralphie, Ronnie and Richie escorted Robbie to the kitchen chow line. Corey, Drew, John and Stephen helplessly giggled at the quadruplets.

Still standing with Kaleo and Keith, Prez smiled at the two adults before them. He chuckled, "Three of the four brothers had already put their stuff in their dorm room, but I see we have the shortest dorm residency on record to deal with. Let's assume the four brothers are going to want to be together for a while."

"Agreed," Jason smiled.

Trinity giggled, "Now we're de-facto parents of four, and they all look the same as the one we started with."

Prez shrugged, "When the other three decide that they want you to be their parents, I can make that official for you."

Kaleo asked, "For now, would either of you like something to eat; perhaps coffee, tea or soft drinks?"

Seeing his father and Bill Seaver approaching, Keith pointed and giggled, "Here comes your welcoming committee. While you're with them, we'll get a place lined up for your family to be together tonight."

Prez nodded, "We have big townhomes on base. They're three bedroom, two-and-a-half baths, about seventeen hundred square feet, not including the finished basement."

Jason remembered, "Our personal affects were supposed to be gathered by someone named Daileass."

Into Prez's sub-vocal, Daileass giggled, "Tell me which townhouse to transport their stuff to, Prez."

"The opposite end unit from mine, Daileass," Prez responded. He then told Jason and Trinity Taylor, "Your goods will be at your new home when your ready." He then introduced Jason and Trinity to his foster dad and Bill Seaver. Prez then wondered, "I'm just curious, what were your jobs?"

"I taught social studies and coached football, at the middle school level," Jason answered.

Trinity said, "I taught math and algebra."

"Excellent!" Keith and Prez cheered.

Kaleo smiled, "Expect a visit from Mister Tecumseh, the Clan educational adviser."

Seeing that the boys were done, Jim Hundser led Jason and Trinity to tables where many of the parents were already seated. Kaleo, Keith and Prez returned to their tables.

"Another eighty kids in a single day," Derrick giggled.

The day's not over yet either," Mike grinned and bounced his eyebrows.

Returning to his table and seat, Prez called, "Alden, check our list of rescued kids. How many are boys, how many are girls? Reply to all the Core Rimmers." Prez then began typing a quick e-mail to Mr. T, so he could come meet Jason and Trinity Taylor.

Alden answered, "There are two hundred-thirty-five currently on base; one hundred-fifty-three are male, sixty-four percent of the total; eighty-two are female, thirty-six percent of the total."

Sending the e-mail off to Mr. T, Prez said, "Thanks, dude." He then began puttering with his PADD, seemingly off on another task.

Surprised, Keith said, "It seemed to me that three of every five were boys. It's more like four of every six, almost two-thirds."

Derrick joked, "Hey Alden, isn't there an all girls school we can panty raid?" The rest of the Rimmers cracked up.

Alden laughed, "I'll check into it, Derrick."

Slowly nodding his head, Mike grinned and warned, "No nookie for you later."

Raising his eyebrows, Derrick smiled, "You know I like a challenge," instigating another round of laughter.

Noticing Prez was still involved on his PADD, Keith softly asked, "What's goin' on, baby?"

Humming curiously, Prez looked up and saw his hubby's concern. Prez grinned, "Minesweeper sucks and Ms. Pacman is too easy, so I'm downloading Pissed Off Chickens." Keith sputtered and tried to hold back, but all the other listening Core Rimmers cracked up, and then so did Keith.

Not very far away from the Core Rimmers' tables, the quadruplets were getting to know each other better. Finally comfortable enough to pose the question, Ralphie asked Robbie, "So, what possessed you to shave your head?"

Swallowing a mouthful of mashed red potatoes and gravy, Robbie smiled, "My friend in Tacoma has cancer. With the chemo and radiation treatments, he lost his hair and got really bummed out. I wanted to prove that hair grows back and it wasn't a big deal." Almost at once, the other three brothers cheered Robbie for making his friend feel better. They would all take a trip to Tacoma to meet Robbie's sick friend. That led the boys to chat about other trips they would be taking over the coming days and weeks. Once Ralphie shared that he had spent most of the last week at the beach riding waves on boogie-boards, they couldn't wait to get their friends to come to the R.O.H.

Leaning back in his chair, Prez remembered his mom's home cooked Southern meals, sighing, "That was the best country-fried steak ever." Looking over his shoulder, he checked the plates before his boys. Sammy and Gage did a decent job of clearing their plates. They were considering dessert, but neither was moving off their chairs. Dee was still working on his plate, but Richie seemed to have given up.

Kaleo called, "Hey, Prez?"

"What's up, Kaleo?"

"Tory and me were thinkin', it would be very uncool for newbies at our other bases to not have Core Rimmers around."

Tory suggested, "With twelve of us, we could split up when necessary."

Kaleo added, "It's a matter of choosing who lives where, when the time comes."

Prez nodded, "Excellent points. Keith and I were thinking that certain Core Rimmers need to be here on the main base."

Keith explained, "Specifically, Kaleo you need to be here as Communications Officer. John's head of Intel, Drew and Corey work on the computers, so they need to be here. Prez and I need to be here too." He then asked Alden for a general dormitory breakdown.

Alden reported, "Dorm building one is full. In dorm building two, there's room for twenty-eight additional girls; the first floor is filled. Dorm building three has room for thirty boys on the first floor. The entire second floor is unoccupied. It's your choice, but maybe you could make that third building all boys. Then you could house most of the expected California kids here."

Prez thoughtfully scowled, "That's assuming we don't get too many other kids between now and then. That's not a valid assumption. I'm not too happy about it, but when it becomes necessary, probably later next week, Derrick, Mike, Sean and Troy may need to temporarily move to another base, at least until we get the secondary leadership structure built."

Troy wondered, "Where could we move to?"

Keith smiled, "Take a townhouse, dude."

Mike reminded, "We all have access to Alden and could get anywhere we need to be."

Turning to Kaleo and Tory, Derrick teased, "You two could adopt a few kids. That would free up a few dorm rooms."

Tory blushed and began sweating. Kaleo laughed, "You're nuts!"

"My nuts," Mike softly joked. Derrick decided to have Mike for dessert, leaned over and munched on his hubby's shoulder.

Prez tapped his comm-badge and called, "Paulie?"

Paulie replied, "Yeah, Prez?"

"Give Donnie a call at the Rapid Response Base," Prez instructed. "We're expecting that this base will be loaded in a couple o' days. We're gonna need UNIT security at the Oneula Base pretty soon."

"Will do, boss."

"Thanks, bud."

Keith tapped his sub-vocal and asked, "Alden, without a Core Rimmer, how would kids from our other bases move around between bases?"

"Dimensional doors," Alden replied.

Keith's head sagged and he queried, "Pardon?"

Connecting to all the Core Rimmers, Alden giggled, "Dimensional doors can be installed at all the bases." Becoming serious, Alden explained, "They're voice controlled, so the kids would just say where they want to go then walk through the doorway and arrive. It's like transporting, but instead of being from anywhere to anywhere, it's more controlled. For example, if dimensional doors were installed at every base dining room, then kids could walk from base-to-base as easy as walking from room-to-room. That includes other Clan bases; all of them will have at least one."

Sean grinned, "Having them at the school and F.Y.S. buildings too would be excellent."

Troy nodded and smirked, "There would be no chance of being late for school."

"Or a doctor appointment," Sean added.

Prez asked, "Who does the installations?"

Alden answered, "A.I. Division handles that." He then asked, "Shall I coordinate that for you, Prez?"

Prez answered, "Definitely. Let's try to get them installed this weekend; in every dining room, the school buildings and the F.Y.S. buildings. Priority authorization."

Smirking devilishly, Keith joked, "I'm gonna have a chat with Sean Short about blond forgetfulness."

Overhearing this, Dee and Sammy, both blond, shouted, "DAD!" Derrick and Sean simply glared and smirked evilly at Keith.

Corey went one step further. He tapped his sub-vocal and silently ordered, "Alden, Keith needs a dip in the diving well. Do the honors, please." Keith disappeared from the dining room and found himself falling twenty feet into the diving well.

Giggling his butt off, John scanned each of the three blond Core Rimmers to find out what had happened to his oldest brother. Settling on Corey, John loudly laughed, "I love it! You should've dunked him in the North Atlantic!"

Corey grinned, "Next blond joke, I will."

Smiling widely, but shaking his head sadly, Drew huffed, "We're gonna have to hide the rest of the night." Drew playfully suggested, "Let's go to the Command Center. The phasers are there." Drew and Corey stood and took their trays over to the table where Geoff and Lenny were sitting.

At the table where the quadruplets were sitting before empty plates and glasses, Ronnie's comm-badge chirped. Adam asked, "Hey Ronnie, you doing anything, bro?"

"We're just finishing up dinner," Ronnie replied.

"You didn't invite me? See if I make cookies for you next Friday!" Adam giggled in reply.

The other three brothers hummed hungrily. Ronnie sniggered, "We had country fried steak, mashed potatoes and southern gravy, and you missed it."

Adam quickly said, "Grandma Morrison's here, and she says she wants to meet the rest of her grandsons, like now. She kinda gets her way. I think Julio is the first person in history to stand up to her and survive!"

"Okay," Ronnie grinned, and then explained to his brothers, Drew and Corey, "We'll need to take a short trip to Naples, Florida."

Drew nodded, "Kewl, bro. We'll see ya later tonight?"

Ronnie nodded, "Yup, before bed time, so we don't start off on the wrong foot with Jason and Trinity."

"Mom and Dad," the other three brothers corrected.

Suddenly, with all four still sitting at the table, they transported away.

Corey softly giggled, "Alden, they weren't standing for transport."

Alden laughed, "I know. Kerry did it. Talk about your bouncy touch-downs!"

Seeing that Bruce had finished eating, Peter hurried over to him asking, "Ya wanna go for a little sight seeing tour?"

"Sure," Bruce quickly agreed.

While walking with Bruce over to where Jim Hundser was clearing his table, Peter explained what had happened during the course of the day at Kaho'olawe, constantly getting tongue tied just saying the island's name. Bruce was giggling his butt off by the time they reached Jim. Peter called John, Stephen and Frankie over to join them on the tour. Peter and his five guests popped out of the dining room.

Shaking his head and standing up to clear the table, Prez chuckled, "The less I know, the better." Stopping at his sons' table, Prez gathered Richie's tray. The other Core Rimmer couples stood to take their trays to the dishwasher.

Dee wondered, "Where's Daddy at, Poppa?"

"Learning," Prez softly chuckled.

Gathering his own tray of trash, Gage asked, "Do you have to work tonight, Pop?"

"Nope," Prez answered, "Uncle Drew's in charge tonight."

"Kewl!" shouted Gage, Dee and Sammy.

From the other side of the same table, Drew wondered, "How much longer, Prez?"

Prez shrugged, "Until tomorrow morning. We won't be going to school." Realizing that Drew had no idea what had happened earlier that day, Prez carefully explained, "There was a bit of an issue at school. It was enough for us to give up jazz band."

Drew groaned, "Sorry, bro."

Prez shrugged, "It's no biggie. We get to play every day, right here, for all our kids."

Corey sighed, "We know you dudes busted your butts most of the summer though."

"It wasn't wasted," Prez assured. "We learned kewl tunes. We might even get Troy to learn one or two of 'em, if he's interested."

Standing with his tray, Sammy asked, "So you won't have to leave the base tomorrow, Pop?"

Leading the pack towards the dishwasher, Prez said, "That's right, we're here with all you guys from now on." Hearing that, Richie, Geoff, Lenny and Dillon became more enthused. They suddenly and loudly squealed joyfully. Everyone that didn't already know the Core Rimmers would be around more, now knew.

Peter, Bruce, Jim, John, Stephen and Frankie arrived at number ten Downing Street, Kaho'olawe. All of them had a good laugh about the address then started walking up the deserted street. Jim was voicing how completely amazed he was. During dinner conversation, he knew what work Carl had performed that day, but didn't realize the extent, since Carl was mostly transporting to and from Kaho'olawe with machines and materials. The boys were happily chit-chatting and taking notice of buildings similar to what they were already familiar with. They approached Broadway and the very well lit intersection of Broadway and Downing Street.

Sopping wet, with a towel wrapped over his shoulder, Keith returned to the dinning room, looking for the blond bastard that had him dunked.

Troy walked past with Sean. Sean pleasantly said, "We're gonna check on Troy's mom." With Mike and their kids, Derrick calmly headed for the kitchen dishwasher, but didn't even seem to notice Keith.

Exiting the kitchen, Drew noticed Keith though. Quickly turning around, he stopped Corey, Geoff and Lenny. Drew swiftly ordered, "Alden, transport us home, to my bedroom." They disappeared from the kitchen.

Meeting with Prez and their boys as they were coming out of the kitchen, Keith looked around for Corey and Drew. "Where'd they go, baby?"

"Who?" Prez wondered.

Keith smiled, "My brother and the evil blond."

Prez glanced around then shrugged and grinned, "They were just here. Obviously, they're hiding from you."

Widely smiling at Keith, Dee teased, "You was bein' bad, daddy."

Grabbing hold of his son, Keith tickled Dee mercilessly. Prez noticed Kaleo and Tory near the tables where many of the San Diego kids were at. In Tory's arms was five-year-old Mark Fikes. Kaleo had six-year-old Leonard Santana planted on his hip. Interrupting Keith's playful torture of Dee, Prez pointed and prodded, "Check it out, babe."

Pulling Dee close and hugging him tight, Keith followed Prez's arm, and then grinned, "It's only a matter of time."

Prez tapped his comm-badge, calling "Drew?"

Drew giggled, "What's up, bro?"

"There are some Anaheim kids looking around, prob'ly for you and Corey."

Drew laughed, "Is Keith still on the warpath?"

Keith smiled, "I don't get mad, I get even."

Drew and Corey howled laughing. Drew then giggled, "We'll meet you by the pools."

Corey giggled, "I'm gonna get wet soon anyway."

"When you least expect it," Keith warned.

Keith's mom, Renee and Carmella approached Keith and Prez. Jennifer said, "I was just called by Hawaii Medical Center East. There are two girls, orphaned today, that need a place to live. I'll take my little ladies with me to get them."

Prez asked, "Do you want any of us to come along, mom?"

"No, I don't think that will be necessary," Jennifer Hundser smiled. "I'll have my security with us."

Prez nodded, "Okay. Do you know how old the girls are?"

She answered, "Thirteen-year-old twins, I understand."

"We'll let Drew and Corey know," Keith said.

Jennifer said, "After I pick them up, I'll take them to their hotel to get their things."

Keith moaned, "Aw, more vacationers?"

Jennifer nodded and sighed. She looked down to ask Carmella and Renee, "Ready ladies?"

Renee and Carmella chorused, "Ready, Momma." Jennifer and her two daughters walked away.

Heading for the door with Keith and their boys, Prez tapped his sub-vocal asking, "What do you know about these two orphaned girls from Hawaiian Medical Center East, Alden?"

Alden answered, "Their parents were involved in a car accident on H-3 this morning. The father was D.O.A at the hospital. The mother passed earlier this evening. That's all I have, Prez."

Derrick and Mike caught up with Keith and Prez. Derrick said, "Dillon and Jonah want to watch a movie. How about we get all the little kids together in the auditorium for a flick?"

Keith nodded and smiled, "Good idea."

Prez stepped up on a chair and had Alden connect him to the base P.A. "We're going to head over to the auditorium for a movie. I know we've got 'Toy Story' in our library." Prez didn't need to ask if anyone was interested. Squeals and shouts burst forth. Kids began heading for the door along with some of the adults.

Keith grinned, "To infinity and beyond!"

On Kaho'olawe and crossing Broadway, Peter's group of sightseers had to pause because they heard a distant loud "MEEP-MEEP!" A roadrunner speedily ran down the street, kicking up a trail of dust, that was followed by a racing coyote, complete with fork, knife and bib.

"What the heck?" Stephen, Bruce and Frankie excitedly hollered. Peter bent over and cracked up laughing. At the stunned expressions of the boys, Jim also bellowed loud laughter.

John giggled, "Mikyvis illusions?"

"Uh huh," Peter giggled, still in hysterics.

Catching his breath, Bruce looked up and around the approaching block. In large brightly lit lettering on the corner facade of the building, Bruce read 'Downing Gardens'. It was an enormous amphitheater building, similar to the auditorium in Ewa Beach. Soon Bruce realized that only colors and distance made this building seem different. The group continued walking, but everyone was certain what they were seeing. It took only another minute for Bruce to see the plaque that Peter had erected in memory of Bruce's parents. Bruce stopped to read the plaque. Shivering and shedding happy tears, Bruce wiped his eyes then embraced Peter. The two boys remained attached in a hug for a long minute. Beginning to walk further up Downing Street, Peter explained that all the streets thus far built were named after the many Clan Short families. They didn't go very far before deciding to return home.

In their bedroom, working from their Linux computer on division web pages while Geoff and Lenny played video games, Corey turned to Drew wondering, "Is this a trick? I thought we were meeting at the pools?"

No longer interested in 'Sonic the Hedgehog', Geoff turned, yelling to Drew; "Let's go, Daddy!"

Drew tapped his sub-vocal and asked, "Alden, are they really going to watch a movie?"

Alden giggled, "I hope so. Most of the Clan is heading to the auditorium."

Standing up, Drew said, "Okay, let's beat the rush. Alden, transport us and our boys to the auditorium lobby."

Corey stood and giggled, "I'm getting wet." As soon as the four boys were gathered, Alden transported them. Drew and Corey began powering up the building.

Behind the first pack of kids entering the auditorium, Kaleo and Tory walked in. Kaleo said, "Power up the concession stand, Drew. We'll get some popcorn popped." Kids went there and lined up, ready for candies, popcorn and sodas.

Leaving their boys at the concession stand, Prez and Keith went up to the projector booth to figure out how to load and thread the film. Reading the directions and following the diagrams, they got the reels of film prepared.

An additional bonus, Keith and Prez had seen the movie several times. Once the concession stand was cleaned up, all the Core Rimmers and Reyes took a stroll to tell the available Clan moms and their dads where they were going, and then took a week off at Archnania. During their visit, the band rehearsed a lot and got some much needed relaxation time, bonding the Core team together even tighter. The Des Moines leadership team had the same idea and arrived at Archnania at almost the same time the Rimmers had. Returning to Ewa Beach, only about two minutes after they had left, the Core Rimmers split off in various directions while their sons returned to the auditorium and 'Toy Story'.

Drew and Corey walked the little ones there. Geoff realized he needed to go to the boys' room and Lenny thought it was a good idea. While the rest of the boys returned to the theater, Drew and Corey accompanied their sons to the restroom.

A few minutes later, they stepped out of the boy's room and back into the empty lobby. They all noticed strange things happening at the concession stand and came to an abrupt halt. Popped popcorn was un-popping itself and flying back up into the machine as whole kernels. The plastic soda cups, neatly stacked and arranged by size, were mixing themselves into balanced sets of upside down and right-side-up large, medium and small cups. Lenny and Geoff cracked up and looked up at the perplexed grins on their dad's and poppa's faces.

Corey checked with Drew, sniggering, "A Mikyvis?"

Shaking his head, Drew smiled, "Probably not. I can think of only one warped sense of humor that would pull this stunt to get our attention."

Together, Corey and Drew hollered, "QUINT!"

With a flash of light, Quint appeared before the four boys.

He blinked at them and in his best 'innocent little boy' voice, said, "Yes? You called?"

Corey, Geoff and Lenny roared laughing. Drew chortled, "If your gonna play innocent, maybe you could stop unpopping the corn and return the cups as they were too?"

"What? Oh, that... was just... entertaining... ummm...." Quint fumbled for a good excuse, then gave up. "I was entertaining myself. Sorry, but we superior beings need light entertainment at times..."

He snapped his fingers and the room filled with warm, sweet smelling popcorn up to the waists of the smallest of the kids. He blinked, tapping his fingers. "Dammit! Keeps bugging out on me... I'll deal with it, don't worry!" he grumbled to the others, but the twinkle in his eyes said that it was all under control.

Corey was too busy eating some of the popcorn to say much, and Lenny was already trying to swim in the stuff.

"Think I have it! There!" Quint chortled as he made most of the popcorn vanish. There was still a mound of the stuff around each kid and pre-teen.

Drew giggled, "Did you need something, or were you just bored?"

Around his popcorn stuffed mouth, Corey grinned, "No Lilliputians? All this popcorn could feed them for years."

"Yes, yes, no and agreed," Quint giggled.

Drew sniggered, "What could we mere mortals do for our Lord and Master?"

Again, Levi's hand appeared and slapped Quint.

"Well, minions," Quint groused, as he fended off the still slapping hand, "I'd like an anti-slap head protective device, Mikyvis strength, then... buggerit! Levi! Go chase a comet or something! Where was I?" he asked them as Levi's hand vanished, leaving the little boys' giggles echoing through the air.

Covering his eyes and forcing himself to speak through his laughter, Drew replied, "You're in Ewa Beach, about to tell us what you needed."

"Right!" Quint shouted, and then told them, "You're needed back at Archnania, four days ago, but you can't know what you know, and certainly can't say what you know, so I'll just put a little lock in place, so we'll move forward, back in time."

Corey, Drew, Geoff and Lenny all grunted, "Huh?"

Quint huffed then softly grumbled, "Humans. Just come with me." He snapped his fingers, taking all four Rimmers back to Archnania, but left the piles of popcorn on the floor.

Mrs. Marr walked in just in time to see them all vanish. She looked at the piles of popcorn and sighed. Then five pairs of hands appeared from out of nowhere and started gathering up the popcorn with 'ACME popcorn Hoovers'. They vanished quickly, with all the popcorn gone.

She turned around, exited the auditorium and headed for her Valium supply.

John went to the pools with Stephen and kept on walking, seemingly standing on the water. Most of the teenagers were there too; making new friends and forming bonds. Arriving from Kaho'olawe, Bruce excitedly told John and many of his friends that a memorial to his parents had been built on the Clan's new island. Sean found his roommate Horacio, sharing a hovering lounge chair with Sonia. Sean and Troy found their own lounge chair to share. Sean called for John to do the honors. Soon, John had levitated an additional twenty lounge chairs and their occupants. Testing his newly discovered telekinetic powers, John began lifting weights at the indoor rec center. With Stephen holding him close, John realized he was levitating close to two tons and it wasn't much of an effort; his eyes hadn't even changed to shining azure blue. John and Stephen floated to the diving well. There, he held diving boys up in the air to do as many somersaults as they liked before releasing them to drop into the water. Girls on the slide were sliding back up and down over and over again until they were loudly laughing.

Stephen cackled, "You're a one man amusement park, hon."

John giggled, "It's fun for me too."

Kids from the auditorium began arriving at the pools. Derrick, Mike, Kaleo and Tory also joined the Clan at the pools. By the time Drew, Corey, Prez and Keith arrived, John had their fathers and the three remaining mothers hovering around in lounge chairs too. Seeing John's eyes shining blue, Drew pointed out to Corey, Keith and Prez that free-weights and Nautilus weights were also hovering in the indoor rec center.

Keith asked, "How much weight do you think you're holding up, bro?"

"I have no idea!" John laughed. "I lost count after two tons. Probably close to three tons or a little over." Reading Prez's thoughts, John levitated Drew, Corey, Keith and Prez so they were hovering twenty feet in the air, looking down at their Clan and the base.

Prez figured that maybe twenty or thirty of more than two-hundred people were not floating around. Prez shouted down at John, "Is any of this an effort at all, bro?"

John hollered up, "With Stephen, not really." He then levitated himself and Stephen nearer to his brothers and said, "I started with kids on lounge chairs then added more a little at a time."

Prez grinned, "Let's see what you can manage all at once."

Glancing around, John decided it was a good question. Lowering everyone, everything, himself and Stephen, John explained what he was about to do to all the kids and adults. He asked everyone to stay where they were or stand still. He concentrated on all the pool furniture, people and weights in the rec center then asked Stephen to step back and powered up. All at once, everyone and everything surrounding the pool lifted four feet off the ground, including himself and Stephen.

Turning to his dad, Prez asked, "How much do you think he's lifting, dad?"

Jim Hundser, Bill Seaver and Rob Gibbons began bouncing ideas back and forth. "Figuring two hundred and thirty kids at an average of a hundred pounds, lawn furniture and weights, I'd estimate about hundred tons," Jim Hundser answered, and then glared at his youngest son. "Does this hurt at all?"

Shaking his head, John giggled, "Nope! My head feels tingly, but otherwise, I feel fine." All the older boys began giggling and laughing because John's 'head' was tingling.

Jennifer Hundser, her security team, two daughters and the two recently orphaned teenage girls arrived at the base. They walked together to the pools, where Jennifer assumed their Clan would be. Looking directly into hovering legs, Jen didn't know who to complain to first – John, Preston or her husband, Jim.

Sensing a brewing storm, John looked around and focused on his mother. John loudly laughed, "We were doing normal stuff! All the kids watched a movie. All the teenagers came out here. We were just curious!"

Jen sighed, "If you would all please land, I could introduce our two newest girls."

Lowering everyone and everything to the ground, John shifted his focus to the two new arrivals. He could hear their thoughts, but it wasn't what John expected. He expected separate surface thoughts, each of the two girls having their own ideas. Instead, he heard the two girls telepathically conversing about the twists of this day, including the surprise of floating people. Taking Stephen by the hand, John swiftly pulled his husband over to the girls. 'Hi,' John pleasantly sent. 'You're telepathic too, huh?'

Stunned, the two girls confirmed with each other that yes, they could hear this boy's voice in their minds.

In seconds, the entire Clan were surrounding seven females. Jen Hundser introduced John, Stephen and the rest of the Clan leaders to Caitlin and Ida Durand.

John telepathically called Cesar and Felipe forward, so sets of twin telepaths could meet. While Prez performed his duty and greeted the girls, John sensed something different about these girls. Leaving the pack of kids to welcome the new arrivals, John and Stephen went inside the empty pool house.

Stephen felt John's concern and asked, "What's wrong, hon?"

"I think... no, I feel, they're gonna be N-Gen," John answered. "I dunno," John sighed, "I'm an empathic N-Gen, so if I were in their shoes, having lost both parents at once, I'd be freaking out. Is there a chance that tonight, tomorrow or the day of the funeral they could turn N-Gen? I can't help them both, I'm not even trained to help one of 'em." He looked at the wall clock. Nine-thirty-five at night would be eight-thirty-five the next morning in the U.K. John tapped his comm-badge and called, "John Hundser to Riti Evans."

Riti answered, "Good morning, John."

In the back ground, John heard many other voices, mostly kids, and perhaps some adults as well. John grinned, "It's night time here," and then presented his concerns about the twins to Riti. He wondered, "What's goin' on? It sounds busy there."

"Oh, well, things are a tiny bit crazed here," Riti offered. "There's civil unrest from yesterday; people are bitching, moaning and whining like a bunch of little fucking babies, about the American company that messed with those kids, so we're monitoring the situation." Riti hurried, "About the twin girls, don't worry. Yes, something similar may have pushed you, but it's not stress; it's stressing their abilities. They may or may not be N-Gen, it depends on whether or not they have the gene. You can test it yourself, with a tricorder."

Relieved, John smiled, "Kewl. I didn't know there was a biological test."

"There wasn't," Riti giggled, "until you. The triplets monitored you during your transition, bro. Check your Intel console for specifics. All we know is there."

John grinned, "Thanks, Reet. This helps a bunch. I'll check out the girls."

Riti giggled, "You do and you had better float far above where Stephen can reach! Riti out."

Playing along, Stephen suspiciously glared, "He's right about that!"

Blushing, John grinned mischievously. Stephen huffed, turned and walked away. John levitated his husband and pulled him back. Stephen loudly laughed, "John! Put me down!"

Approaching Stephen and looking directly into his knees, John thoughtfully hummed and adjusted the levitation height so that he was looking at Stephen's crotch. Smiling up at his husband, John shared, "I don't need to kneel down no more. Kewl!" Holding Stephen's butt in place, John ravenously mouthed Stephen's naughty-bits through his clothes.

Hysterical, Stephen screamed, "YOU'RE TWISTED!" and ran his fingers through John's hair. John hummed affirmatively and pushed Stephen into the boy's room to finish what he had begun.

The female Rimmers had taken control from Prez. Caitlin and Ida were more than ready to call an end to a horrendous day. They were shown the dormitory, where they chose a room and began unpacking their suitcases. For the remainder of the evening, they had twenty-eight other girls in that dorm ready to get them food, listen and offer shoulders to cry on. Adults and parents got their little ones ready for baths and bed. Suddenly, there were only boys remaining at the pools, not including Kathleen Marr and the other adult staff still enjoying the warm evening.

From the bathroom where Geoff and Lenny were bathing, Drew tapped his comm-badge and called Prez. "Hey bro, I forgot to mention, we're pretty close to having the official Rimmer web site up and ready."

Still at the pool with Gage, Sammy and Dee, Prez smirked, "What does 'pretty close' mean?"

Drew replied, "We'll have division notices available for Kaleo to keep updated. We'll only have to review the inline documentation with Kaleo. Then, all he'll have to do is keep it up to date with text. Pages for us Core Rimmers are built, so the kids will know about each of us. The only other major portion of the site pending are blogs for the kids. Each kid will have their own page with basic stuff; a photo, date of birth, date they joined our Clan, like that. In addition, the kids can update the remainder of their page with whatever additional information they want." A loud splash was heard followed by Geoff and Lenny giggling and Corey's laughter. Drew roared, "Well, you expected to get wet tonight!” Returning to his conversation with Prez, Drew chuckled, “Umm... where was I? Oh yeah, the idea we had for the kids pages was mostly for hobbies and special interests; artists can get to know other artists, musicians other musicians, and so forth. Then they can get to know each other. We'll use John's Intel database as input for the kids' pages and they'll be automatically generated every day."

Prez said, "We'll need a page for Platinum Habits too, bro."

"What for?" Drew wondered.

"The holidays are coming," Prez reminded. "We'll have at least one Christmas concert and a New Year's Eve concert. Without school jazz band, we'll be having various Clan concerts throughout the year."

Emerging from the pool house, John and Stephen walked a foot above the ground. Stephen's mother got up from her poolside chair and started towards them. The two boys lowered to the ground. Kathleen Marr said, "I've figured out what I need to do and where I need to be. I felt useful today for the first time in a long time. This morning, while I was cleaning the house, I saw the spare bedroom on the first floor. For me, an entire apartment is too much, unless you boys will be living with me."

Having already understood the surface thoughts his mother-in-law had, John smiled, "We're almost always spending nights in the basement nest with the kids. I don't think that will be changing very soon. Tonight, we'll have a bunch of newbies with us down there."

Kathleen smirked at John. "I think the best place I could be is in the spare bedroom of your parents' house. It's more than sufficient for me. I could be a housekeeper and cook for the kids at the Hundsers'. It helps your parents and keeps me nearby if either of you should need me."

Watching his mother closely while she spoke, Stephen turned to John and sighed, "Everything's so different here now. She misses me, hon." Turning back to his mother, Stephen reassuringly said, "Everything's perfect, ma. If you ever decide you want a single bedroom place of your own, just say so, okay?"

John nodded, "Yeah. I'm only thinking that you'd be sharing one of the upstairs bathrooms with a bunch of boys."

"That doesn't matter," Kathleen shared. "Since arriving, I've eaten every meal at the C.I.C. dining room. I've only been sleeping and showering at the apartment. The rest of the time, I've been getting to know some of the other adults. I spoke with Madeline and she agreed, specialized housekeepers for the families would be helpful." Focusing on John, she said, "My only concern is whether your parents would want a live-in housekeeper."

Humming thoughtfully, John shrugged, "I dunno. Let's go find out. If they don't want a live-in housekeeper, we'll get a single bedroom condo for you, mom." Together, the three of them went to the Hundsers' house. When they walked inside, Keith, Drew, Corey, Jen and Jim Hundser were coming downstairs with the bathed kids. John asked Stephen, 'Do you wanna stay here with your mom or go downstairs with the kids?' John heard Stephen's silent desire to remain with his mom. John leaned over and telepathically called Carmella. He caught his littlest sister and lifted her in his arms then sent to his parents, 'Mom, dad, Stephen's mom has a good idea that she needs to share with you. While you talk with her, we'll get the kids to bed.' John, Drew, Corey and Keith led the pack of rug rats to the basement.

Jennifer asked, "What can I get for you, Kathy?" Starting for the kitchen, she suggested, "Coffee? Tea? A soft drink?"

Kathleen looked down at her son, unsure how to answer. Stephen only smiled. Kathleen implored, "Let me serve you, please?" and followed the Hundser adults. Bringing up the rear, Stephen remained close to his mom.

Without breaking her stride, Jen answered, "Now I can guess what this is about."

Jim said, "We are not wealthy. A week ago we were middle class parents raising a family."

Kathleen offered, "It seems you've very much completed raising your family."

Understandingly, Stephen meekly offered, "My mom just wants to be near me. Since this is where I am, mom's only trying to say that she wants to be here." Jen began filling a kettle with water.

Jim smiled at Stephen and Kathleen saying, "That's clear. What we're saying is that we won't have her acting as a maid or treated as such."

Kathleen sighed, "There's not much more I could do except housekeeping. With all the children that sleep here and eat breakfast here, I want to help."

Putting a filled kettle of water on the stove, Jen said, "Today was different, Kathy. Normally, the kids split off for the C.I.C. dining room or the dorms for showers. Their parents or grandparents were here, so they stayed here for breakfast. On a normal day, only our own children and grandchildren might stay here for breakfast."

Offering Kathy a seat at the dinette table, Jim added, "Troy's mother is a housekeeper and a Clan mother too now. You're exactly like her and us; working for the Clan as a whole." Kathleen and Stephen sat down.

"You both work full time for Federation Youth Services," Kathleen observed. "While you were working, I was here from ten until almost one cleaning the kitchen, dining room, basement and all the bathrooms. It made me feel good, like I was contributing."

Taking a seat at the dinette table, Jen warmly smiled, "That's all anyone ever needs, isn't it?" Kathleen nodded then Jen continued, "We noticed the cleaned rooms. In the mornings, we have quite a gathering here; less than today, but we have eighteen kids and grand-kids."

Jen assured, "If you'd like to be a housekeeper, that's fine. We could use help here and around the entire compound. Please don't consider yourself our maid. I can only take so much change. That would make me crazier."

Gesturing towards the spare bedroom, Kathleen asked, "Could I move my things in there?" Jim and Jen nodded. Kathleen smiled, "Thank you, so much. I can't see myself staying in a big two-bedroom apartment or a slightly smaller one bedroom unit."

Jen nodded, "As mothers, we need to be near our kids." The kettle began to whistle and she stood to prepare cups of tea. Always listening, Alden heard and saw the conversation. He transported all of Mrs. Marr's things from the two bedroom townhouse selected Tuesday afternoon to the Hundsers' first floor spare bedroom. He carefully broke in through the ceiling mounted speakers; "Excuse me, your stuff is already moved, Mrs. Marr. What was hanging in the closet there is now hanging here. Your belongings from the dresser are on the bed in that bedroom."

Jim and Jen thanked Alden. Kathleen Marr was too flabbergasted to speak. The two Hunders began a more in depth explanation of Alden, Daileass and Draco. They hadn't yet learned of the other Clan AI's; George, Kerry and Icarus.

Heavy footsteps were heard climbing the stairs. John sent to Stephen, 'Hey sexy, ya wanna roll around above the couch?' The basement door opened. Keith, Drew and Corey emerged.

Stephen giggled then stood, kissed his mom on the cheek and softly said, "I'll see you in the morning." Stephen hurried to the basement door then skipped down the steps.

Keith told the adults, "The kids are asleep. John and Stephen will be down there with them. We're going to enjoy a quiet night by the pool."

Jim nodded and said, "Drew, program the doors to allow Mrs. Marr access to our house, please? She'll be living here with us and Stephen."

Drew smiled, "Kewl. This will only take a minute, Mrs. Marr." Leading the way to the kitchen sliding glass doors, Drew explained, "It's hand-print and voice-print activated. Just place your hand on the plate and speak your name."

Frankie walked in through the sliding glass doors. He waved and sighed, "Daddy says it's time to get ready for bed and I should come in now."

Jim smiled, "You know the way. Sleep well, Frankie."

Jen stopped Keith and whispered in her son's ear. Keith told his mother that they had just gone on a week long vacation, during which time the band learned and rehearsed two dozen new songs. Jen didn't believe it until Keith giggled and took his shirt off. Jennifer squinted suspiciously and quickly tugged down a corner of her eldest son's boardies. Seeing Keith's tanned back had indeed faded and was nearer the same white shade as his butt, Jennifer appreciatively nodded, "Thank goodness. I was about to have a fit."

Keith giggled, "We know and took care of it, mom. After last night, we needed it." He said goodnight to his mom, dad and Mrs. Marr then went to the pool to find Prez. Corey waited until Drew was finished with Mrs. Marr. Drew and Corey then went to the pool. All the Core Rimmers were there with many of their teenage Clan. Jennifer served the tea and Jim pulled a package of shortbread cookies from the cupboard.

Once alone with Jen and Jim Hundser, Kathleen said, "I cannot begin to thank you... well, for everything. Stephen's changed so much in so short a time. For changing my scared boy into a more secure young man, I'm proud to be involved with Clan Short. I intend to show it too. I've done housekeeping before, at smaller motels in Hilo. This house, with all the kids running in and out, needs a housekeeper so neither of you need to worry about anything."

Understanding Kathleen's perspective, Jim said, "You're part of the family now. Keith and Preston used to wash their own bedsheets, but they didn't have jobs then either. Our entire family used to participate in Sunday house cleaning. With all of us working together, the boys would be done and out by one the latest. Now however, I'm certain that won't be happening like it used to. We can and will help when we can, most likely on weekends."

Jen offered, "Our boys only ate dinner here one of five nights, on Sunday. They're happy to join the Clan at the C.I.C. dining room for most meals. Did you notice that the upstairs bathrooms have laundry chutes?"

"No," Kathleen answered, "I did look around upstairs though. There are two full size beds in three of the five bedrooms."

Pointing at the lower level bath and utility room, Jim said, "There are commercial sized washers and dryers in there. So far, our boys haven't slept in their rooms. Carmella and Renee, our two girls, slept upstairs for a short while last night. At some point they must've felt isolated though and decided to go down to the nest. I was surprised when they came up from the basement this morning."

Jen nodded and told Kathleen, "What we had planned for the bedrooms Saturday has already changed. Keith and Preston will likely move into one of the townhomes with their four boys. The smaller bedroom that was originally going to be for John and Bruce was considered John's and Stephen's room. Now with Frankie, even that's up in the air. The next room, with two full size beds will be for Bruce, Dewi and Kokaku. Carmella and Renee have claimed the last of the five bedrooms, with the mauve carpeting. Drew, Corey, Geoff and Lenny will take the largest room that was originally going to be for Keith, Preston, Dee and Richie."

Jim's eyebrows rose and he thought aloud, "Perhaps Frankie would want to share a room with Bruce, Dewi and Kokaku?"

Kathleen grinned, "That's a very large family; ten boys, two girls and three adults, including myself, and assuming that Keith and Preston move out with their boys. Since they're still living here, add six boys."

Jim softly gasped, "My God, she's right!" Jen smiled at her husband and Jim shrugged, "I lost count."

Relaxing, Kathleen teased, "Are you sure you don't need a full time housekeeper?"

Leaning back in his chair and munching on a cookie, Jim smiled, "Perhaps so."

Jen incredulously cackled, "JIM!"

Jim chuckled, "With three of us, we'll be washing clothes, sheets and towels from sunrise Saturdays until bedtime Sunday nights; dusting, mopping floors and vacuuming between loads; and then there will be the never ending task of folding and ironing the cleaned laundry, remaking nine beds and we all still have to eat at some point." Both women broke into fits of hysterics. Jim loudly said, "You're hired. And do you have three friends for the other three families to hire?"

While the adults were chatting in the Hundsers' dinette, Derrick and Mike were poolside, softly talking with their boys. Reyes, Jonah, Randy and Dillon wanted to spend the night together, as a family. This had been brewing since Monday night, Derrick and Mike learned. Tuesday night, nothing had changed because of the weddings and concert. Wednesday night, with the insanity of the orphanage operations, they again returned to the nest by default. The only question to be answered was where they would sleep that night, at the Seiberts' home or the Gibbons' home. The Seiberts' boys, Chad, Herbert, Sung and Kawazoe were pulled into the conversation. Of the Gibbons' four boys, three were already at the Hundsers' basement nest. Only Ben Hatcher was still at the pool and he was asked where he would like to sleep. Ben couldn't make up his mind; he wanted to be with his brothers, but also wanted to hang out with Jonah and Reyes. To make the decision easier, they decided to spend the night at the Seiberts' house and transport the sleeping boys to the newly created family nest. The nine boys said good night and went home with Carl Seibert. Dee, Gage and Sammy kissed their fathers good night soon thereafter then went to the nest.

Keith whispered to Prez, "Mom warned me that we needed to take some time off. I told her we did and proved it."

Prez nodded and smiled, "The faded tan line?"

Keith nodded, "How a place can be so warm and pretty, but not give us any tan at all, I'll never understand."

"Something about cellular regeneration supposedly," Prez shrugged.

On their way to their new home for the night, the Taylors, Jason, Trinity and the quadruplets stopped by the pool. Prez introduced all the other Core Rimmers to the adults, then offered to walk the family home. They politely declined, assuring they could find their way easily enough, and the various time zone differences had them all feeling quite tired.

By ten-thirty, most of the Clan had left the pools to get ready for bed, but the ten eldest Core Rimmers remained. Prez and Keith began teasing Kaleo and Tory, wondering when they were going to start a family. Kaleo and Tory hadn't realized that Mark and Leonard were becoming more than a little attached. As recent orphans, Kaleo and Tory worried that they didn't have what it takes to become nurturing parents. It was Drew and Corey that corrected the perception, reminding them that the kids had figured it out all by themselves.

Sean and Troy began giggling. The next thing they knew, the other eight were picking some little boys that Sean and Troy could adopt. At least fifteen of the five- and six-year-old boys' names were rattled off. Sean and Troy were just about to leave the others to their over active imaginations when all their comm-badges chirped.

Still smiling at the silliness, Prez tapped his comm-badge and answered, "Prez here. What's up?"

"It's Paulie, Prez. Local news is reporting that King Aalona's Palace is under attack."

All ten boys stood and began running towards the C.I.C. Prez asked, "Do we know who's attacking?"

John and Stephen levitated and sped upstairs. Wearing stern expressions, the two boys swiftly floated past their parents. John telekinetically opened the sliding door and raced to the Command Center with his husband. Jim, Jen and Kathy nervously glanced at each other then hurried to the living room and turned on the television.

"No, the news hasn't reported that," Paulie told Prez. "Judging by what I'm seeing on TV, there's a fire-fight in progress."

Prez asked, "Our shields are still active?"

Paulie answered, "Yes, Sir."

At the indoor rec center, Nathan Hayes was teaching Brice Glotzbecker how to play handball when his comm-badge chirped. Nathan had just slammed the ball to the wall for Brice when he suddenly disappeared from the room, leaving Brice standing there watching the ball bounce. After a few moments, Brice picked up the ball and then returned it to the small storage bin in the equipment room. During that time, Brice considered why Nathan had left so suddenly. He ran out of the rec center and hurried to his dorm room to tell his room mate, Gregory Holton that something was going on. Greg was in the common room, watching 'Airplane' on a movie channel with several other laughing boys. Soon they all knew the Core Rimmers were at it again. Assuming more kids were being rescued, none thought to change the channel on the TV. Scuttle-butt began flying through that dorm and into the others.

Prez ordered, "Paulie, alert all base security. Notify Kekoa to get his troops on base immediately. Alden, try to get the King on the line. Make sure we're safe and let's get the King's family to safety. Notify Donnie to be prepared to offer assistance. The UNIT can do way more than palace guards or police."

Amazed, the ten Core Rimmers watched John and Stephen run towards the C.I.C., as fast as Olympic sprinters, at least a foot off the ground. John and Stephen outpaced the remaining ten and were the first to arrive in the Command Center. Already at the Intel console with Nathan, John was making entries and ordering Lieutenant Vorik to bring up camera video of the exterior of the King's palace. Each of the four intersections surrounding 'Ioloni Palace had cameras and provided eight views of the perimeter.

Immediately upon entering the Command Center, Prez saw flashes of gun fire on the displays and ordered, "Get me an estimate of how many are attacking." He happened to notice the time on the digital clock. It was ten-forty-seven, exactly twenty-four hours since the California orphanage operations.

Paulie said, "I have Donnie on the line, Prez."

Prez nodded, "Patch me in." Drew went to a station and commanded satellite surveillance of Honolulu, providing a ninth video image. Derrick ordered Alden to begin recording all activity in the room. Every order and all video was to be documented so it could be reviewed afterward.

A second later, another video screen activated. Donnie asked, "You'd like us to assist the King, Director O'Brian?" In the background, Drew had the satellite zoom in on 'Ioloni Palace. Prez noticed that the silver eagle on Donnie's collar had been replaced with a single silver star.

Kekoa raced into the room as Prez replied, "Yes, General. The King is now the only head of government this country has. We're getting an estimate on the number of attackers."

Kekoa reported, "The Pacific Rim detachment is on base, Director O'Brian."

Turning to Kekoa briefly, Prez nodded and softly said, "Excellent." Returning his attention to the video display, Prez nodded for Donnie to continue.

Donnie said, "Daileass is estimating eighty armed attackers. We're coordinating with the police to cordon off the area. We'll have three hundred troops at the palace within two-minutes. So you're aware, conditions in London are getting worse. Resources are being dispatched to the U.K. Reports from the Northeast Division indicate unrest in New York City and Washington, D.C. as well."

Paulie loudly said, "Prez, I have King Aalona on the line. Audio only."

Prez nodded to Paulie, "Patch him in and let Donnie participate."

Over the Command Center's speakers, King Aalona said, "Director O'Brian?"

"Here, Majesty. Are you safe?"

"For the moment," the King nervously replied. "We are under Vulcan provided shielding in the Queen's bedroom with our son. Several of my staff have been injured. It appears that militants have penetrated our fence and are in trees outside the palace."

Prez nodded, "We'll have military support there to assist in about a minute, Majesty."

"They have medical training and can transport out with your injured, Sire," Donnie added.

Prez said, "Majesty, we must insure your safety and that of your family. This entire base is shielded and we have secure shelter available, under ground."

"I agree," the King said.

Prez ordered, "Alden, coordinate immediate transport of the King, Queen and Prince to our shelter. As soon as that's complete, transport Keith to the shelter to welcome them."

Alden reported, "Synchronizing shield portals for transport."

Prez turned to Keith and prompted, "Get them calm and comfy, T'hy'la. Whatever it takes." They kissed then Keith stepped back from Prez. The audio channel from the King went silent. Keith disappeared from the Command Center.

Donnie said, "Thirty seconds until deployment."

A large explosion occurred on the satellite surveillance screen, causing most of the Rimmers to gasp. Paulie shouted, "They've got RPG's, Donnie. It looks like they're assaulting the palace door to enter the premises."

Prez smirked and muttered, "Too friggin' late, assholes." Donnie grinned. Prez said, "Donnie, would I be asking too much if I said that our troops should be ordered to disable only? I want answers that won't come from corpses."

Donnie sighed, "Yes, Sir. This is an attack on a sovereign government leader. They're not limiting their actions. For us to do so would be dangerous and possibly fatal to our personnel. Emily will be in command at the location."

Understanding that Donnie's partner and other Clan members would be jeopardized, Prez huffed then griped, "I'm gonna kick someone right in the nuts for this." In the background, Prez heard Daileass assuring Donnie that the Pacific Rim Division headquarters were secured.

Kekoa moved and stood beside Prez at attention then softly called, "Sir?" Prez turned to Kekoa. "Our detachment is prepared for anything that may be required," Kekoa reported. "I had everyone grab their gear and immediately transport."

Prez forced a smile and offered, "Excellent. Hang out here, Kekoa. I may need your advice." Kekoa obediently nodded.

Meanwhile, in the C.I.C. basement, Keith bowed before the King and forced a bright smile saying, "Welcome to Pacific Rim Division headquarters, Your Majesties."

Relieved, King Aalona nodded and sighed, "I wish it were under more favorable circumstances."

"You're safe here, Sire," Keith assured. "This basement is about thirty feet underground." Keith warmly smiled at the Queen and the young Prince, who appeared to be about six or seven years old, saying, "Please make yourselves at home. Can I get you anything? Soft drinks or snacks?"

Turning to his wife and son, King Aalona grinned, "May I introduce Keith Hundser, second in command of Clan Short Pacific Rim Division." Turning back to Keith, the King said, "This is Queen Adamina Aalona and our son, Kaimi."

Bowing again slightly, Keith smiled, "My pleasure, Your Highnesses."

The Queen locked eyes with Keith and smiled, "Please address me as Adamina, Keith."

"Momma?" Kaimi softly called. Queen Adamina turned to her son and he said, "There's nothing 'cept beds, tables and chairs in here. Do they have toys or something to play with?"

The Queen smirked at her son and sighed, "You really should try to go back to sleep."

"I ain't sleepy no more," Kaimi pouted.

Keith chuckled then ordered, "Alden, hook up a PlayStation and television for the Prince."

A moment later, the TV and game station appeared. Kaimi cheered, "Kewl!" then hurried past Keith to play.

Keith smiled, "Anything you might want or need, just call Alden and ask for it."

Queen Adamina smirked, "Perhaps some warm milk with nutmeg for Kaimi might help get him settled down?" Seconds later, a cup appeared on the table before the Queen along with a plate of cookies.

King Aalona grinned, "We must get one of those."

Keith faced the King to softly ask, "Majesty, may I have a private moment?" The King nodded and stepped away with Keith. Keith softly said, "Sire, we've assigned Clan Short Special Forces to assist with resolution of the problem at your palace. We'd like to know who may be the cause. Since Saturday, have you been threatened in any manner?"

The King huffed, "That seems to be constant in the last week. Trade ultimatums from other countries, R.O.H. city and Island governments trying to alter decisions previously made and influence those currently being made."

"Have any of those ultimatums suggested violence of this magnitude?" Keith wondered.

"Several," the King answered. "We've been threatened with trade embargoes over availability of pineapples, for goodness sakes. I've presented that complaint to the League Of Nations." The King paused and seemed thoughtful then said, "This is a more direct threat on me, however. Perhaps... there was a brief message referring to an announcement published in the Star Advertiser on Monday. It instructed me to use certain words from that announcement to decipher a personal message. The deciphered content basically warned me against continued Diplomatic contact with Vulcan. If I persisted then I would be killed. It was not signed and I did not take it seriously at the time."

John immediately sent to Keith, 'We're on it, bro. Maybe we'll see what the King didn't.' Alden, John, Nathan and Lieutenant Vorik concentrated on Monday's Star Advertiser Classified announcements to learn what had been written privately to the King.

Keith smiled and confirmed, "We'll investigate further, Majesty." He then asked, "Can I get you anything else?"

King Aalona answered, "May I watch one of the televisions in here? I'd like to watch the news and see what's happening at my home."

"Of course," Keith answered, and then went to a nearby table where a remote control lay. He turned on the TV for the King then handed Him the remote control. "I need to return to our Command Center, Majesty. If you need anything else, including contacting myself or Prez, just ask Alden."

Uncertainly, the King wondered, "Who is Prez?"

Keith giggled, "I'm sorry, Director Preston O'Brian. He's been Prez to me since the day we met, more than seven years now." King Aalona smiled and nodded. Keith then had Alden transport him back to the Command Center.

While Keith was busy with the Royals, UNIT troops had been transported to 'Ioloni Palace. Donnie had strategically located his troops. There were one hundred and twenty troops across the street from the external perimeter fence; another one hundred and twenty within the perimeter fence, eighteen of whom were assigned to the six roof level towers; and sixty within the Palace, divided into three groups of twenty to cover each story of the structure.

The firefight was still in progress when Keith returned to the Command Center. Donnie was still on the video display and relaying status updates to the Core Rimmers. Since Prez was occupied with Lieutenant Vorik, Nathan, John and Alden, Keith went to Derrick and Mike to learn what was happening.

Derrick began summarizing Donnie's strategy then finished, "A few had entered the Palace, but were immediately overcome by the positioned UNIT troops. The Palace interior is secure now. Everyone hurt was transported to the Rapid Response Base medical facilities for treatment."

Mike explained, "Outside, we've got them sandwiched with nowhere to run. A group of four were surrounded. Two surrendered, but the other two were killed."

Keith grinned, "So we've got two in custody. We'll learn who's responsible soon enough, either from those two or from Intel." He then looked up at the nine active video screens. Gun and phaser fire was visible coming down from the towers. Suddenly, an RPG was fired from one of the towers. A large clustering of trees on the southeast corner of the lot exploded in flames. While many of the other Core Rimmers gasped at the sight, Keith groaned then muttered, "I hope that hit their guys and not any of ours."

A few moments later, Donnie called from the video screen for Prez. Keith hurried over and explained, "Prez is busy, Donnie. What've you got?" John transported to the basement shelter. While he greeted the Royals and made Kaimi feel welcome, he performed a deep scan of King Aalona.

Donnie smiled, "It's almost over, Keith. Did you see that last RPG hit?"

Keith nodded, "Yeah, that was them being hit, right?"

"Yes," Donnie replied. "That got ten of them at once. Our recon estimates three groups of three or four remaining. We've got a bigger problem looming though. From mind scans of our prisoners, we've learned that this is only the beginning of the attack. There were bombs placed in buildings somewhere around Honolulu. They don't exactly know when they're set to go off or where though. All we can do is hope that some of the remaining wounded prisoners do know."

"Holy shit, Donnie!" Keith shouted. "They're planning on blowing up other buildings?" With a deeply concerned expression, Prez spun around and faced his husband. A dozen questions raced through Keith's mind at once; which buildings; where and when; were there people in the buildings and if so, how many?

Donnie nodded and said, "We just received four more wounded prisoners. Our telepaths will scan them. As soon as I know something useful, I'll let you know, Keith." John returned to the Command Center, still chewing a cookie and then handed one to his husband.

"Thanks, Donnie. We'll be here waiting," Keith responded. He went over to see how Prez, Nathan, John and Lieutenant Vorik were coming along, since there was nothing else to do except worry.

Clearly feeling his eldest brother's concern, John said, "I pulled the announcement name from the King's memory, but the words we're supposed to choose weren't in there; the instructions were written on plain typewritten paper that he's already thrown away. We've contacted the Star Ledger to learn who's account paid for the announcement. They haven't responded yet. The A.I.'s are playing word skip games trying to come up with a message that threatens the King. Once we get something, we'll confirm it with Him."

Keith sighed then told Prez, "I'm gonna go back to the King, baby. We need to know if anyone or anything else was threatened in the message he received."

Prez nodded, "Go ahead, T'hy'la. Now we've gotta try and prevent other attacks while still figuring out who's responsible for the first."

Keith called, "Alden, take me back to King Aalona." Arriving beside the King and startling him, Keith apologized, "Sorry, Sire. We've learned more from prisoners and I do need to ask you more about that threatening message. Was anyone or anything else threatened besides yourself?"

King Aalona frowned, "What have you learned?"

Squatting down beside the seated King so that the Queen or Prince wouldn't overhear, Keith whispered, "Bombs have been placed around Honolulu, Majesty. The prisoners did not have specifics of where or when they might go off."

Quickly glancing beyond Keith at his family, the King then assured, "Nothing was said about any other threat, but to me, demanding that I break diplomatic relations with Vulcan or, and I quote, The King would not live to regret it."

Keith confirmed, "Those were the exact words; 'The King would not live to regret it'?"

King Aalona nodded once. "Precisely those words."

John sent, 'Got it, bro. That helps a bunch.'

Keith wondered aloud, "What would hurt you and the R.O.H. worst?"

"We have only two major industries," King Aalona answered. "Tropical fruits exports and tourism. All else is minor in comparison."

"Tourism," Keith repeated, then a shiver raced down his spine.

Almost simultaneously, Keith and King Aalona said, "Hotels and the airport."

Jumping up from his crouched position, Keith tapped his comm-badge and said, "Lieutenant Vorik, contact Honolulu Police immediately. Evacuate Honolulu International Airport and all major hotels in Waikiki for potential bomb threats."

Vorik replied, "Aye, Sir."

Frowning at the potential loss of life, King Aalona begged, "Please stop this."

Keith nodded, "We'll do our best, Sire." He then called, "Alden, transport me back to the Command Center." Keith disappeared from the King's side. King Aalona went to his wife and explained the current circumstances. She quietly shed tears so as to not upset her son.

Upon arrival in the Command Center, Keith immediately said, "The threat was general enough to include the King and the reputation of the R.O.H. What have we learned about that announcement?"

Vorik replied, "We have a name and account number for payment of the announcement. The search is in progress."

John said, "The A.I.'s have provided two alternate versions of the threat." He frowned, "Neither tell us anything more."

Prez went to Keith and said, "The police and half of our UNIT detachment are trying to evacuate the airport and hotels." He closed his eyes, inhaled deeply then sighed. "Most adults would still be out partying, but lots of little kids would already be in bed." The television in the room switched from the Palace to Waikiki, reporting that all hotels and Honolulu International Airport were being evacuated, but didn't explain the reason why. Prez loudly complained, "Damn it! This is no time to pussy-foot around! People should be panicking and getting the fuck out of there!" Prez then ordered, "Alden, prepare to break into broadcast signals for all Hawaiian television stations and dress me in a Clan Short robe."

It was too late for Prez to make his announcement. The television news showed bright flashes of distant explosions at high rise towers in Waikiki. All the Core Rimmers gasped then various expletives flowed.

At eleven o' one that evening, Prez hollered, "RED ALERT!" then turned to the video display where Donnie was still, his mouth now hanging open. "Donnie, rescue operations at that location, immediately."

Donnie nodded and began reassigning most of the troops that had been at the palace. Alden and all the A.I.'s went into emergency mode, taking over the mundane and obvious functions. Alden had the satellite view zoom into the new location and reported, "2424 Kalakaua Avenue. It's the Hyatt Regency. There are two towers, forty stories tall."

From Orlando C.I.C., Seth called, "Pacific Rim Division, current sit-rep."

Kaleo hurried over and explained, "Seth, this is Kaleo. There was a terrorist bombing of the Hyatt Regency Hotel at Waikiki." While he spoke, Alden got a full description displayed then Kaleo passed it along to Seth. "Forty stories tall, twelve hundred and twenty-nine rooms total. Estimated casualties as high as five thousand, easily." Kaleo had only finished speaking when the local news reported additional explosions had occurred at Honolulu International Airport. Kaleo included that attack in his report to Seth.

Concurrently, Keith was ordering all the Rimmers' personal security into the Command Center. They would assist rescue operations. Prez was passing out hand phasers and commanding his Core Rimmers. "Drew, Corey, Kaleo and Tory, you four remain here and coordinate as necessary. Sorry, but you four simply aren't developed enough to assist adults."

Turning to the personal security teams, Prez instructed, "Each of you need to be more worried about saving people in that hotel. Our security lies in getting people saved before parts of those towers become impassable. If we're trapped, then we're all really screwed."

Facing his UNIT Detachment Commander, Prez ordered, "Kekoa, get all our troops prepped for on-site rescue operations. We'll all need oxygen masks."

Prez told the two youngest team members, "John and Stephen, you have to go check the structural integrity of the buildings. If it's as bad as it looks, try to hold them upright for as long as you can." Nodding, John and Stephen transported out with their security to Waikiki.

Prez spun around and told Donnie, "We'll likely need a ship with tractor beams to hold up those buildings."

"I'm already on it, Prez," Donnie replied. "We'll get something there in ten minutes or less. I've also contacted Starfleet for portable force-field generators; in case the buildings do collapse, we can minimize collateral damage to neighboring structures."

In the background, another deep male voice, likely that of a gorilla, told Donnie, "We have something available, Sir."

Donnie ordered, "Get it there A.S.A.P."

Prez turned to Nathan and instructed, "I need you coordinating with police and firemen, so we're not tripping over each other and slowing each other down. Tell them what we've got planned."

Nathan nodded, "Got it, Prez," and disappeared from the Command Center.

Kekoa passed portable oxygen tanks and face-masks to Keith, Derrick, Mike, Sean, Troy and finally, Prez. When Prez finished speaking, Kekoa explained, "Each of these tanks will provide you with air for up to thirty minutes, depending upon your level of exertion. Expect only fifteen or twenty minutes. You guys cannot wind up suffering from smoke inhalation. I'll have a supply of extra tanks made available on-site. They screw onto and off of the masks, so replace them as necessary." Kekoa then demonstrated how to fit the face-masks correctly so that noxious fumes would not leak in.

Already at Waikiki, in the center of the intersection of Kaiulani Avenue and Kalakaua Avenue, John and Stephen hugged and tightly held onto each other then began rising into the air. A nearby news crew hurried over. Two gorillas, Bond, Stephen's gorilla, and Lucky growled, "Get back!" causing the cameraman to lower his camera and almost wet himself. Carefully watching the heavily armed gorillas wearing green military fatigues, the man stepped back about ten paces before Lucky nodded at him. He pointed his camera up at the two floating boys.

Recognizing the view from a dream, John told Stephen, "This is what I saw in my nightmare the other night. This is the fire I was worried about."

In the living room of the Hundsers' home, Jim, Jen and Kathleen Marr had seen the attack on 'Ioloni Palace and were now watching John and Stephen rise six stories, then ten and then higher. Grabbing her husband's knee, Jen squeezed hard and screamed, "Jim!"

"Try and relax," Jim softly assured, "John lifted about a hundred tons by the pools, without Stephen." He pulled his wife close. Kathleen Marr was speechless; all she could do was wipe tears from her eyes and watch the television.

Jen still covered her eyes and peaked through her fingers at the television where John and Stephen were. She softly wept, "I was there only a few hours ago, with Caitlin and Ida, picking up their suitcases." Jim's heart sank into his feet and felt like it was bouncing in his chest. Only luck and timing prevented him from losing his wife.

Pandemonium was shown on television from another news crew arriving at Honolulu International Airport. Helicopter video showed the two larger gate buildings in flames. Hundreds of travelers were running away from the main terminal structure. Fire and emergency vehicles that were normally reserved for plane crashes converged on the terminal building from the tarmack.

The towers of the Hyatt Regency were octagon shaped, John noticed. Floating higher and traversing the circumference of the northwest building, John counted eight points where there were flames. Three were at the side where the elevator shafts were; one at the tenth floor, another at the twentieth and the last at the thirtieth floor. Inspecting the eastern tower, John counted five places where there was fire. Again, two of the five were at the side where the elevator shafts were. The terrorists specifically targeted the elevators, it seemed, to trap those in higher floors.

Realizing that they were over a hundred feet high, Stephen became nervous and whimpered. "It's okay, baby," John softly said, "just hold on tight. We can fly around like this for hours, but this tower won't last. The other tower has less damage though. It'll probably last, even though it's still heavily damaged."

Stephen softly complained, "You could at least be a little afraid."

John laughed, "Of flying? Never!" John then sent, 'There's only one thing missing. Tell me you love me?'

Stephen nervously giggled, "You know I do!"

'I need to feel it though,' John reminded. 'I'm gonna try to hold this building upright. With your help, I think I can do it, for a little while anyway.'

Stephen let his love flow as much as he could and actually brought himself to tears doing so. Approximately two-hundred feet in the air, John's eyes blazed blue, focusing his telekinetic powers on the weakened and burning northwest tower. From his husband and the thrill of flying, John unwittingly got an erection, which was felt by Stephen and caused him too get hard too.

From below John and Stephen, a boy's voice called, "How's it goin' guys?"

Another voice giggled, "We told you to tie your shoelaces to a lamp-post!"

"Don't forget us!" two additional voices hollered. Rising quickly and beginning to circle John and Stephen, Benji, Eli, Sammy and 'Bastian waved. John grinned and was thankful that there was help to hold up the incredible weight of a building. John immediately felt the weight shift and begin to even out.

Nathan arrived at the mobile emergency command center used by the police and firefighters. He quickly showed his ID and introduced himself. He then explained what Clan Short Pacific Rim Division was planning, including the intent to rescue those trapped inside the burning towers, provide medical services and acquire Starfleet assistance to provide tractor beams and force field generators.

Another towhead boy popped in at street level. Then he was seen on the roof of the center structure, above famous restaurants and the hotel lobby. The news cameras tried to focus on the boy, but then he was gone. Peter Lambert was telepathically pointing the telekinetics to weakened areas of the structure.

On the ground, the Core Rimmers arrived with their security, the entire Pacific Rim UNIT detachment and another one hundred additional UNIT personnel from the Rapid Response Base. They ran towards the buildings. The fire-fighters that had recently arrived stopped them, but Prez identified himself and all the other boys as Clan Short and the firefighters begrudgingly allowed the boys to help evacuate those injured or trapped.

Last to arrive from Russia, fully engulfed in flame, Jimmy rose off the ground. He began removing heat and thus, broke the combustion cycle; effectively putting out the fires one at a time.

Another hundred UNIT personnel arrived to help evacuate Honolulu International Airport. All of this was televised and reported by the news. It was a sight to behold; hundreds of boys putting the lives of strangers before their own, and running to rescue people in two burning towers and from the airport gate concourses.

Seven boys were floating high above the ground outside one of the burning towers; one seemingly on fire himself and four orbiting the original two. Desperate tourists were trying to escape smoke and flames inside the burning buildings by crawling out onto window ledges. One woman and her child slipped and began to fall. Crowds in the street screamed in horror. However, the two never hit the ground. They simply disappeared from the camera's view. Other hotel occupants jumped from their windows to escape the inferno. They also disappeared from view.

The cameraman Lucky had ordered back loudly wondered, "What's happening? Where the hell are those falling people going?"

Lucky simply answered, "They are being transported to safety."

When the cameraman asked "Where?" Lucky didn't answer, but glared at the man, again causing him to gulp and almost loose control of his bladder. It was the combined efforts of Alden, Daileass, Draco, George, Icarus and Kerry that prevented those jumping and falling from certain, horrible deaths.

It suddenly dawned on Nathan that John, Stephen, Eli, Benji, Sammy and 'Bastian would be in deep shit if they got distracted or tired; they would fall from thirty stories up. Rather than assume the AI's could capture them before they hit the ground, Nathan suggested that airbags and trampolines be set up under the floating telekinetic boys, just in case. Another alarm sounded so that those facilities could be delivered and set up on the street.

By this time, Judy Faris and the other Rimmer parents were gathered in the Hundsers' living room watching TV. They were mixed with emotions ranging widely and shifting rapidly from concern and fear to pride. At the Ewa Beach dorm common rooms and many of the bedrooms, Rimmer rescued kids watched with increasing enthusiasm and excitement, shouting out the names of their leaders as they came into view. In Japan, Canada and the United States, nationwide cable news networks were patched in, televising the events as they happened. Also on the news were reports from London of street riots as the stock markets continued their free-fall from the previous day.

In the basement of the Seiberts' home, where Aaron, Alan, Ben, Chad, Dillon, Herbert, Jonah, Kawazoe, Randall, Randy and Sung peacefully slept, Reyes was typing out his latest log entries when he happened to look up at the TV. No sooner did he see John and Stephen, many stories in the air, then the camera focus changed to street level. He saw Derrick and Mike materialize then run toward a burning tower. Purposefully, he closed his notebook computer, changed the channel to Cartoon Network, so his brothers and uncles wouldn't see what was happening, if they should wake, and softly grumbled, "I should've just told dad to make me a Core Rimmer. Now that I'm fully functional again, my dad, pop and friends are trying to kill themselves. Why can't they just stick to afternoon concerts?" He tapped his comm-badge, ordering Alden to transport him to the C.I.C. Command Center, to offer what assistance he could.

In Washington D.C., where it was minutes after five in the morning, Harry and Jonas were just waking to prepare for their day in the nation's Capital. Before joining Harry in the bathroom, Jonas turned on the TV and saw the news from Hawaii. At first his jaw dropped then he called Harry. While they watched, a camera happened to catch Peter for all of three seconds before he disappeared from view again.

The Rimmers and the UNIT troops fanned out and up flights of stairs. As hurt and trapped people were discovered, they each transported the rescued to the Rapid Response Base's medical facilities. In groups and individually, they returned to the streets outside the Hyatt Regency then ran back inside. Starfleet personnel arrived by the dozen and began setting up force-field generators around the more badly damaged structure. Another truck arrived with firemen. The men began inflating huge airbags in the street to capture the floating boys.

Evacuations and rescues continued for another seven stressful minutes before a new and never before seen sight flew over the skies of Diamond Head and towards Waikiki from the northeast. Newscasters reported it as large as two aircraft carriers. It wasn't a Starship that anyone had ever seen before and no one was even sure if it was a Starship. It was the Goliath, based at the UNIT Rapid Response base, steadily moving into position and preparing to engage tractor beams.