Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Chapter 10

Ewa Beach, Oahu; C.S.P.R.D. C.I.C.

Thursday, November 4, 11:11 PM HTZ

Reyes transported into the Command Center. The first thing he noticed was the flashing red light in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and a blinking yellow light in the Southwest United States on the World Map. He looked around at the various monitors mounted on the walls in the room. One had local news, four were various street images from the Hyatt Regency, and three more were from the Honolulu Airport. Heading for Kaleo, Tory, Drew and Corey, Reyes prompted, "Gimme something to do, before I have the first positronic nervous breakdown on record."

Corey helplessly giggled. Drew simply wore an expression of surprise, since Reyes rarely entered the Command Center and had never been seen this stressed out. Kaleo wondered, "What's wrong, bro?"

Waving his arms at monitors, Reyes rambled, "I just saw my dad and pop run into a burning tower on TV. John and Stephen are like three-hundred feet off the ground. I don't even know who the other four are orbiting them like human satellites. The airport seems to be the place to leave, in a hurry, and not from a plane. Obviously, mass quantities of feces are being thrown into many rotating blades at once. So, what can I do to help make sure everybody returns home in one piece?"

Wide-eyed and grinning at his life-long friend's rant, Kaleo wordlessly checked with Drew, who had been Acting Director the entire day.

Thinking only of where he could possibly assign an android with knowledge databases out the ying-yang, Drew called, "Alden, log this time. Reyes Taraschke is a temporary Core Rimmer, A.I. Division. He's a Toy Rimmer."

Alden replied, "Got it, Drew. By the way, Derrick offered Reyes the job last night." Alden then giggled, "His temporary status is fairly permanent, if you ask me, but we'll see tomorrow."

Drew went to Reyes, prompting, "Come with me, bro. We're keeping track of everybody rescued from the Hyatt. Right now, it's a lot of unsorted data we can't search easily. You can take that task, so you can see first hand what your dads are doing."

"Kewl," Reyes nodded, and followed Drew to a console.

Once Reyes was seated, Drew leaned over, softly explaining, "Jimmy's working on putting out the fires, from lower floors and up, since heat and flames rise. Our guys are working their way up the floors too. Everybody's gonna be fine, Reyes."

Reyes nodded and sighed, "This is dangerous, ya have to admit."

Drew offered, "Think about who would be most likely to be in those towers at this hour; little kids and their babysitters, right? That's what freaked out Prez and why he called red alert. That's why they're all there, bro."

"Right," Reyes huffed, and then concentrated on the incoming data on the screen. Already, Mike and Derrick had made three trips into the Hyatt, each of them rescuing a total of eight people. Scanning the list, Reyes figured that each of the Clan rescuers were finding between two and three people per trip, on average. At the Hyatt performing rescues were the six eldest Core Rimmers, the UNIT Pacific Rim detachment, and another hundred UNIT troops from the Rapid Response base. At the airport were a hundred more troops from the Rapid Response Base. Six hundred and eighty-eight people had been rescued from the burning towers of the Hyatt Regency in the first ten minutes. Reyes started tapping away at keys, creating a quick database of who was rescued and by whom, ages as that information became available, and medical condition. About a minute into his assigned task, Reyes realized he had never created a database before, yet he was doing it easily, thanks to the upgrades he'd received since Monday night. Having known Reyes all their lives, Kaleo and Tory were more amazed than anyone else in the room.

Also having a meltdown about this time was Rob Gibbons. Pacing the Hundsers' lower level rooms, Rob was simultaneously on his cell phone and his Honolulu Police radio, ordering police officers to "wake the fuck up" and putting them back on duty, either at the Hyatt or at the airport. Gathered in the Hundsers' living room were Jim, Jen, Rob's wife Laura, Carl and Anna Seibert, Bill and Lanna Seaver, Kathleen Marr and Judy Faris.

Laura Gibbons was preparing for bed when trouble began at the King's Palace. For her three girls, Christel, Lindsay and Tami, Laura had read from Peter Pan until they fell asleep. Unaware of what was going on, she had taken a bath and then her Valium, but was now in the Hundsers' living room, sitting on the sofa in her bed clothes, robe and slippers, nervously bouncing her legs and shaking like a leaf, bitterly complaining; "I get my husband working from home and safe, and now my eldest child is running into a burning building. Someone remind me to smack Michael tomorrow, please?"

Anna Seibert nodded and smirked, "I suggest a line-up of the entire leadership team, to get spankings like they've never had before, by each of us." All the Rimmer moms nodded and some vocally reaffirmed that plan. Jim Hundser, Bill Seaver and Carl Seibert knew the women were blowing off steam, but wisely said nothing, choosing not to test the theory and have it proven wrong.

Lieutenant Vorik learned the name of who paid for the Star Advertiser announcement and its coded threat to King Aalona. Oblivious to this, but simply tired of watching the news helplessly from the CIC basement, the King transported into the Command Center.

Drew went to the King, introduced himself as Acting Director, his relationship to Prez and Keith, and then explained what was happening, and that Prez had left Vorik with brief instructions on what to do when the individual or group responsible was identified.

"Contact the V.S.O., arrest everyone associated and perform mind scans. Then eliminate the problem according to V.S.O. regulations," Prez had told Vorik from behind his oxygen mask. Drew did not tell the King that Prez was aggravated beyond rational thought, but he recalled what his brother had said: "If I get any of these dudes within five feet of me, I'll kick them repeatedly in the nuts until Shirley has a deeper voice than they do."

Vorik followed Prez's orders. The individual was arrested and identified as an R.O.H. Human Liberation Front operative. Information obtained from one led to others and a full-scale, world-wide V.S.O. investigation was set to begin.

The Goliath centered itself above the Hyatt Regency's most damaged tower, then engaged their tractor beams. Relieved of the weight of uncountable tons of steel and concrete, John, Stephen, Eli, Benji, 'Bastian and Sammy began lowering themselves to the ground. Exhausted, they landed to the cheers of the gathered crowd. The boys smiled and waved, but then John's knees buckled and he began to collapse against his husband. Certain that Stephen wouldn't be able to hold John upright for very long, Lucky swept up John, smiling, "I've got you, Johnny-boy." Bond, Stephen's gorilla, lifted his young charge. Questions from the media bombarded the six boys, but none were answered as there were too many being shouted from too many directions. Lucky called Alden and had them all transported directly to the Hundsers' foyer, leaving the reporters with no story; not that they would've understood telekinesis on this scale from young boys, never mind what N-Gens are. All the assembled adults jumped up to greet, hug and congratulate the six young heroes. Jim, Jen and Kathleen then thanked the two gorillas for protecting the boys. After a few minutes, they returned to the living room to watch the remainder of the rescues.

Collapsing onto the sofa, John wearily huffed then remarked, "I'm hungry and thirsty." Kathleen Marr stood, but before she asked what the boys wanted, six glasses of vitamin-fortified milkshakes, a large tray of brownies, two bunches of bananas and a bowl of assorted fruits appeared on the coffee table, courtesy of Alden. The boys and gorillas dug in, watching TV, where Jimmy flew to the southeastern tower, to concentrate on putting out the fires there.

While the boys chowed down, Lanna Seaver wondered, "Where's Corey?"

Through partially eaten brownie, John mumbled, "At the CIC, with Drew, Kaleo and Tory. Which reminds me." Swallowing, John tapped his comm-badge and called, "Drew?"

Drew's voice replied, "Here, bro. Where are you?"

"Home," John answered, and then asked, "Is there anything I might be needed for?" Jen glared at her youngest son. Raising his eyebrows, John looked away before the flames in his mother's eyes set him ablaze.

Drew checked with Lieutenant Vorik.

A few seconds later, Lieutenant Vorik's voice responded, "No, we've identified the perpetrators of the Palace, airport and hotel attacks as H.L.F. The V.S.O. are now pursuing the investigation. We are sufficiently manned here and do not require assistance."

"Okay, thanks," John replied, and then helped himself to a second brownie.

Eli grinned at John, asking, "Do you even realize what you can do?"

John wondered, "What do you mean?"

"You're not pushing up off the ground to levitate anymore," Eli giggled. "You're creating mental ropes from everything above and around you, to pull yourself up."

Benji nodded, "In this case, you were like a fulcrum, bro. The buildings around the Hyatt tethered to us and then to the tower."

"Kewl," John smiled.

Eli, Benji, 'Bastian and Sammy helplessly giggled. Smiling widely around the shake glass against his mouth, Stephen had some random thoughts that John picked up on. John and Stephen began giggling, pushing Eli, Benji, 'Bastian and Sammy to loud laughter. This night, John and Stephen would sleep upstairs in their room when it was time for bed.

At the Hyatt Regency, the ten personal security gorillas for Prez, Keith, Drew, Corey, Mike, Derrick, Sean, Troy, Kaleo and Tory had gone into formation, creating a line of defense, so that no one could get near their charges. Only firemen were allowed to pass their formation. Just beyond the gorillas, near the curb in front of the Hyatt, were the replacement air tanks. As Rimmers and UNIT troops returned, the first tanks of oxygen were near empty and replaced. Dozens of window jumpers had been saved by the A.I.s. In the first fifteen minutes they were on-site, the estimated three hundred Clan rescuers at the hotel had saved over a thousand vacationers that were easily accessible. Climbing stairways higher into the buildings, they needed to use hand phasers to disintegrate whatever debris might be blocking their paths, so they could clear out the remaining rooms. With nothing more to do at the on-site mobile disaster command trailer, Nathan returned to the Ewa Beach Command Center. He joined Reyes and worked to organize incoming data from Honolulu Airport.

In a thirty-first story suite of the Northwest tower, near one of the elevator shaft bombs, Kekoa found body parts that appeared to be that of a very large, obese man. A majority of the exterior wall had been destroyed. Judging by some of the clothing remnants scattered around, and the Cartier watch still wrapped around a severed arm, the man was quite wealthy. Not allowing himself to think of the revolting mess, Kekoa rapidly moved on to check other rooms. On the twenty-ninth floor, Mike discovered a twenty-something-year-old man hiding in the bathtub. Only when he helped the man stand did Mike realize the dude was drunk as a skunk. As he transported with the man to safety, Mike thought, at least he won't remember most of what happened. Also in the Northwest tower, Derrick found an elderly man, wearing pajamas and a T-shirt, kneeling down at the edge of the bed with a Bible in his hands, praying for painless passing to the other side. "Not today," Derrick smirked, and bent over to help the man stand. Holding onto the fragile man that had to be over eighty years old, Derrick got a surprising kiss on the cheek, and then called, "Plus one, Alden." A split second later, they arrived at the Rapid Response Base medical facility's emergency room.

Prez's security, Chris and Matthew, were shadowing their charge in the southeast tower, staying as near to him as was reasonable, given the circumstances and Prez's order that everyone separate to help as many people as possible. Chris found a teenage girl and two very little kids hiding under a bed in one hotel room. At the opposite end of the hall, Matthew discovered an old woman that had been babysitting her two young grandsons when everything went to hell. Scattered around the two burning towers, Clan kids, many of which were enhanced humans, rescued people while firefighters did their job, clearing debris and extinguishing flames so the rescues could be expedited.

Back at the Ewa Beach Command Center, at 11:30PM, Clan wide red alert was called because contact with Cory Short and Joel Short had ceased. Alden reported, "Drew, as Acting Director, I need to inform you that, at this time, all Clan A.I.s are now running CSNIC processing. All functions and error handling routines have passed preliminary and advanced stress tests. Also, Draco has relocated to the Starship VHC Yoshuhlnak."

"Understood," Drew calmly said to the ceiling, expecting this announcement as a result of the Clan wide alert.

Sitting at nearby terminals, almost simultaneously, Kaleo, Tory and Reyes wondered, "What's that mean?" Corey cracked up.

Drew giggled, "It means that Alden is one of the most advanced artificial life forms on the planet. Each of the Clan A.I.s have more processing power than every other computer on the planet combined. Even with Draco helping from orbit, we still have seven A.I.s as capable as Alden, plus Daileass, all networked together, sharing resources and information." Nathan began giggling. Seeing only blank confusion on the faces of his team-mates, Drew smiled, "Think of it this way, Alden alone transported all the personnel to California last night. Had he needed to, he could've transported more, like our UNIT detachment's helicopters and jet too. Kerry, George, Icarus and all of Alden's brothers can do the same. As for Daileass, well, he's the UNIT's A.I. I'm not even sure how much he could transport at once, without taxing himself or any of the related machines, so I'll just guess-timate, about twenty times as many people and equipment. That was prior to switching technology."

"Damn!" Kaleo, Tory and Reyes gasped. Nathan Hayes lost it and cracked up laughing so hard that he almost lost his balance and fell backwards in his chair and onto the floor.

As if the A.I.s weren't busy enough, Alden giggled, "You're a stud, Pop."

Kerry snickered, "He-man, master A.I. of the universes."

George laughed, "He's taking his shirt off to bare that *cough* muscular *cough* chest."

"As long as he don't take his pants off and prove he's only nine, we're kewl," Icarus teased.

"SILENCE!" Daileass hysterically bellowed.

Still laughing, Nathan breathlessly heaved, "That's the PG rated version of what I was hearing, before any of them said a word."

The digital World Map on the wall beneath the various World clocks in the Command Center now showed flashing red lights in the R.O.H., Russia, The United Kingdom, Orlando, Northeast Division and in Australia's Oceanic Division. While the boys were trying to figure out what was going on, televised news reports were mentioning additional civil unrest in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. What made this odd was the time. In L.A., it was about two-thirty in the morning. On the East coast of America, it was five-thirty in the morning. People staying awake late, or others waking early, simply to riot was unheard of. Could this all be because of the ZCC orphanages, or was it the Human Liberation Front adding fuel to the fire? Even Lieutenant Vorik found the worldwide situations "illogical". When they looked at the World Map again, almost every Clan Division around the world was blinking red.

After Eli, Benji, 'Bastian and Sammy had eaten their fill and left for home, Jennifer and Kathleen firmly told their sons, "You're done for the night." The security personnel for John and Stephen also left the Hundsers' home.

John and Stephen went downstairs to the basement. Watching TV and the nesting kids, like they had intended an hour earlier, John and Stephen lowered down onto the cushions. Drew, Corey, Prez, Keith, Derrick, Mike, Kaleo, Tory, Sean and Troy all had the same uneasy feeling that John had. John softly told Stephen, "It don't make sense." When Stephen tilted his head uncertainly, John explained, "Everything was fine, but now I can't feel Jacob, Jamie and Beau. It's like they suddenly fell off the face of the Earth, at the same time. Just like Joel earlier, but he told me it was happening."

"That's weird," Stephen muttered.

John nodded, "Joel can stop and does, whenever he goes into Vulcan emotionless mode. The Terrible Triplets too though? They helped me become N-Gen and taught me. They're the first three links made in my mind. There wasn't fear or pain or anything; they were there, and then they weren't."

Stephen offered, "Well, if they weren't scared or hurt, then it's probably nothin' too bad."

"I hope so," John sighed.

Stephen grinned, "What can I do to get your mind back on us?"

John smiled, "Let's float upstairs to the bathroom, sexy." Blushing and giggling, Stephen nodded. Without another word they rose and silently went up the stairs. Alone behind the bathroom door, John led his husband to the bowl, took position behind him and held Stephen's dick to let him relieve himself. He gleefully whispered, "My hubby is the only Core Rimmer that's a show-er, all the rest are growers. I can't wait to see where you're at in another year or two, when puberty hits."

Stephen cackled, "John! You're making it very hard to pee!"

"Let it get hard," John gleamed, "I'll take care of everything."

Stephen nodded and giggled, "Like this morning, with you laying on your back on the ceiling?"

John grinned, "That was fun. Sixty-nine is my favorite position, so far, anyway." Helplessly giggling, Stephen finished relieving his bladder. John shook his hubby's wiener and kept shaking until it was stiff. Beginning a forceful grind against Stephen's butt, John moaned, "You're so awesome, baby."

Stephen whimpered, then pushed his board shorts down and kicked them aside. For another minute or two, while John's hands caressed his body, Stephen reveled in the fact that John loved him and the numerous ways it was shown during the last four days.

In the dormitories, only the youngest kids had fallen asleep. Most made it back to their rooms except the four youngest in dorm building one; seven-year-olds Akamu, Amado, Maleko and Sakamoto crashed in two piles on one of the sofas in the common room. In all the common rooms, teens and tweens rambled excitedly while watching their leaders on TV at the Hyatt. Things had calmed somewhat at the airport. Televised news showed mostly traffic jams on roadways leading away from the airport. Fires were still being extinguished, but all of the tourists had left the vicinity. News reports said that incoming air traffic had been re-routed to the landing strips at the UNIT's Rapid Response Base. Outgoing flights were temporarily suspended until those incoming planes were dealt with, and passenger jets could be relocated to the R.R.B.

Jake Westscott, Terry Parkinson and Chuck Fortenberry, all from the two Anaheim orphanages, were chatting with Mike Busse and Dave Lydon, from the San Diego orphanage, about what they were witnessing. The five thirteen- and fourteen-year-old boys were simply amazed with what Clan Short was able to accomplish. In little more than a day, they had been rescued, clothed, fed more food than they'd eaten in the last week, and been given medical and dental attention; they had witnessed the rescue of the King of the R.O.H., and now the Clan were rescuing people from the airport, a huge hotel and providing an alternate airport for travelers too.

Two of the California girls from dorm building two came over to where their orphanage brothers were, in the first floor common room of building three. As amazed as the boys were, the girls were very concerned for everyone at the Hyatt. All seven of them took a walk to dorm building one, where some 'old-timers' could answer their questions. Horacio was there with Sonia, as well as Keanu, Liki, Hank, Louis, Jerrold, Arnold, Gerald and Roy. None of the boys were the least bit concerned. They pointed out that every few minutes another Core Rimmer could be seen returning to the Hyatt, before they ran back into the buildings. Also, they had noticed that Drew, Corey, Kaleo and Tory had never been seen on TV. To answer the question definitively, Roy quickly shouted, "Alden, where are Kaleo, Tory, Drew and Corey?"

"In the Command Center, holding down the fort," Alden answered, and then played back Prez's recorded voice, telling those four they weren't developed enough to help adults.

That was all the kids needed to know. The visitors at dorm one returned to their own dorms. Within a few minutes, everyone awake knew the same information.

At the less damaged, but still burning southeast tower of the Hyatt Regency, Prez found the elevator end of the twenty-ninth floor hallway still ablaze. He went to check the opposite end of the hall. Every door that had not been left open from prior rescues, Prez disintegrated with his phaser. Hollering "Hello?" as he entered each room, Prez then waited a few seconds for a response before moving on to the next room. All those relatively safe rooms were empty. With only the other end of the hall to check, Prez crouched down and began firing on doors. He then shouted, "Is anybody there?" and waited for a response. Somewhere down that hall someone did respond. Prez ran into a nearby cleared room and stood in the shower to wet himself down, because he was going to have to race through flames. Dripping wet, he exited the room and softly grumbled, "This is probably gonna leave a mark," then raced through the flames into each room. In the third room, Prez found a woman and a small girl crouched in the bathroom tub. He tried to gather them in his arms, but for some reason, they cowered away from him. Prez only touched their shoulders then ordered, "Three Alden, now!"

"You're on fire!" The woman screamed, almost simultaneously with Prez's words and Alden's teleportation.

The transport extinguished the flames, but Prez was now wearing melted sandals and most of his boardies were blackened and smoldering. The lower edge of his T-shirt had also caught fire. Only the crotch of Prez's boardies were not horribly burned, because at some point, he had unconsciously released his bladder. Even at the Rapid Response Base medical facility, Prez didn't fully comprehend what had happened. Not two nurses, but three hurried towards him. The woman and little girl were taken from him. The third nurse swiftly cut off his shorts and T-shirt, leaving him naked except for his face-mask and melted sandals. Prez excitedly hollered, "What the hell?"

"You've been burned," the nurse loudly told Prez, and then instructed, "Lift your left leg so I can cut these sandals off you."

Prez did as he was told. Only when he looked down and lifted his leg did he feel pain. The hair on his legs was gone and his skin was redder than it had ever been from any sunburn. Oddly, to Prez anyway, he began to shiver as he lifted his right leg for the other sandal to be cut off. He took his face-mask off and sighed, "Keith's gonna kill me. This was Mike's KISS 'Hotter Than Hell' T-shirt. He's gonna kill me too."

Appearing worried, the nurse asked, "How do you feel?"

"Freezing cold," Prez shivered. He didn't notice that his skin was covered in goosebumps, as his body automatically pulled blood from his skin and extremities to send to his vital organs, but the nurse had.

"Gurney!" the nurse screamed. "He's going into shock!" Two orderlies came from out of nowhere, one with the gurney and the other took hold of Prez to help get him on the gurney. In a mild state of shock, Prez couldn't understand what had happened or how. The gurney he was on was rolled into a treatment room. The nurse and three orderlies crumpled in their hands the sheet Prez was laying on and then transferred him to a bio-bed. Prez silently wondered how his wet clothes managed to catch fire and where the third orderly came from.

From somewhere in the distance, it seemed to Prez, someone asked for someone's name. Working to cautiously clean Prez of the grime and soot from the burning towers, the same nurse asked his name again before Prez replied with his full name. The nurse confirmed, "Pacific Rim Director Preston O'Brian?"

Prez nodded and replied affirmatively, "That's me."

Pressing an emergency call button on the bed that lit a red flashing light outside the treatment room, the nurse turned and yelled down the hall, "Doctor here, stat!"

In a flash, two doctors hurried into the room. The nurse introduced the doctors to the Pacific Rim Division Director. The older doctor quickly examined Prez's burns and carefully rolled him onto his side. He pronounced, "Second degree burns on his feet and buttocks. Mostly first degree burns on his legs." The second, younger doctor administered a hypo-spray, then instructed Prez to lay on his belly, explaining that he would be more comfortable since his rear was burned badly.

Doing as requested, Prez hummed then smiled, "That's warm and tingly."

The second doctor grinned, "A future morphine junkie. We'll have to watch this one."

The first doctor ordered, "Monitor his vitals and let the bio-bed treat the first degree burns. Then get him into one of the medicated tubs to treat the second degree burns." Looking down at Prez, the doctor smiled, "We'll get you back to your Clan by morning, Director O'Brian. I'm afraid you won't be very comfortable in clothing, from the waist down, for the next twenty-four to thirty-six hours."

Slightly stoned, Prez giggled, "Don't tell my husband that." Both doctors and the nurse softly chortled. The older doctor left to care for other incoming patients. The younger doctor monitored the bio-bed for many minutes before feeling comfortable enough to leave Prez with the one nurse. Now that he had something substantive to report, the younger doctor contacted the Ewa Beach Command Center.

Notified of Prez's condition at seven minutes after midnight, Drew quickly told Kaleo, "You've got the ball now, dude." He tapped his comm-badge to tell his dad what had happened, and then had himself and Corey transported to the treatment room where Prez lay. Seconds after Drew had taken his older brother's hand, Jen and Jim Hundser were bedside with their foster son. Jennifer broke down crying and kissed her foster son while wiping the hair off his forehead with one hand. Prez's mother, Margaret 'Maggie' O'Brian, had been Jen's friend for five years, before the accident that left Prez in her care. This was the first time Prez had been in a hospital that Jen knew of, and the many emotions flooding her mind from this one day left her completely bewildered. Several minutes later, Keith was mid-rescue when Alden told him that Prez had been burned. Upon arrival at the medical facility with three young kids and a teenage boy, Keith tore off his face-mask and raced down the nearest hall of treatment rooms calling his husband's name.

The nurse that had begun treatment on Prez exited the room and went to Keith, then led him back to the room, explaining that his husband would be fine, but to expect him to be uncomfortable for another day or two. She stopped at the doorway, preventing Keith from completely entering the room. The nurse softly explained that Prez had automatically released his bladder when his clothes caught on fire. "That simple act prevented what would've been very painful burns for any man," the nurse added. "He had no knowledge that he had even caught fire when he arrived." She then firmly told Keith, "I can't let you get too close to him."

Keith dramatically frowned, "Why not?"

"You're filthy from the rescues and he could get an infection," the nurse said.

"Oh!" Keith gushed, then looked down at himself adding, "I guess I am a mess." He then looked at his husband and said, "Lemme grab a shower and get cleaned up, baby. I'll be right back."

Prez nodded, "I'm not goin' anywhere, T'hy'la." Keith transported home. Prez turned to Drew, asking, "Do we know how many we were able to save?"

Drew nodded, "Best guess, near three-thousand, the last I heard. The stats showed two-thirds were under seventeen."

"How many confirmed dead?" Prez wondered.

Drew softly answered, "About a hundred and fifty, from rooms near, above and below the bombs."

Prez grumbled then asked, "Did we learn who did it?"

Drew answered, "The palace, airport and hotel bombings were the H.L.F. The V.S.O. are on it, Prez."

Closing his eyes, Prez wearily ordered, "Get 'em all, bro. If they can't be re-educated, remove them."

Drew nodded, "Relax, Prez. Lieutenant Vorik is handling the H.L.F. "

Prez sighed and kept his eyes closed, but asked, "Was anyone else hurt; Core Rimmers, Rimmer Detachment or anyone from the UNIT?"

Drew shook his head, "From the Hyatt, minor scrapes, cuts and burns only. The airport was successfully evacuated before anyone was killed. A couple of the airport security guys and some travelers were real close though and have temporary hearing loss. Some of the UNIT dudes at the Palace were fired on, but they're fine too, thanks to their armor. They just got bruised and the wind knocked out of them. You're hurt worse than anyone else, so chill, bro. Kaleo's got the ball with Lieutenant Vorik."

Hearing that, Prez relaxed and gave in to the morphine then fell asleep.

Asking what they were thinking when starting the rescues at the Hyatt, Jen initiated a very stern but soft conversation with Drew and Corey. Drew reminded his mom of exactly how many people had been saved only because of Pacific Rim Division intervention. First Drew reminded his mom of John, Stephen and the other Clan members that held the building stable for rescues before the Goliath engaged tractor beams, and then he stated, "Several dozen fireman wouldn't have been able to save that many before the building collapsed, that's for sure. We probably would've lost firemen in addition to tourists." Corey quickly calculated that of the three-thousand rescued about two-thousand were kids under seventeen. Drew explained that Prez had guessed that it would be mostly kids at the hotel and that was why he called red alert. Drew, Corey and even Jim affirmed that under the same circumstances any of them would've done the same.

The last of the hotel's occupants that could be rescued had been. Just after Drew and Corey left for Prez, when the incoming data had slowed to a trickle, Kaleo asked that Reyes pass the relevant numbers of casualties and rescued to the Core Rimmers' PADDs and to the press. At twenty-two minutes after midnight, Friday November fifth, the news crews reported that of the four-thousand-eight-hundred and seventy-nine registered hotel occupants, one hundred sixty-six had been killed by the explosions or resulting fires. Approximately one-thousand-five-hundred had not been in the hotel at the time of the blasts; they were still out sightseeing or island hopping. Three-thousand-two-hundred-twelve had been rescued by members of Clan Short of Vulcan. At Honolulu International Airport, evacuations saved hundreds of lives at terminals 'A' and 'C'. A list of people missing from the chaos at the airport and Hyatt was growing near to two hundred, which was considered very low, and some of those missing might simply not have checked in yet. The details of the perpetrators of the night's violence had not been released to the press as in progress V.S.O. investigations were temporarily suspended to deal with developments in the U.K.

Back in Waikiki at the Hyatt Regency, Jimmy had completely extinguished the fires and transported back to Russia. Honolulu police and firefighters were instructed to clear the streets surrounding the Hyatt Regency. The portable force field generators placed by Starfleet were activated. At twelve-fifteen, the Goliath slowly reduced energy levels sent to the tractor beams that had been holding up the northwest tower. When the tractor beam was completely disengaged, the Goliath moved off to the northeast. Standing in the street in front of the Hyatt with Mike, Kekoa, Sean and Troy, Derrick called Kaleo to let him know all that could be saved had been.

With the excitement drastically reduced and no further notifications of other pending emergencies around the Pacific Rim, Kaleo turned to Lieutenant Vorik, asking, "Can we stand-down from red alert now?"

Lieutenant Vorik nodded and suggested, "Local condition yellow would be sufficient to allow everyone to relax. Circumstances in the U.K. do not allow us to reduce our status further."

Kaleo thanked Donnie for the UNIT's help while Tory went to the communications console to notify Orlando and the other divisions. Derrick, Mike, Kekoa, Sean and Troy returned to the Command Center. They appeared dirty and sweaty, but were otherwise fine. Emotions that Reyes had successfully contained for over an hour exploded in a torrent of happy tears the moment he saw his dad and pop appear in the room. Bouncing out of his chair, Reyes hurried across the room to Mike and Derrick, blubbering, "Each of you guys rescued about forty people."

Derrick and Mike sandwiched Reyes between them. Derrick smiled, "It was worth climbing the stairs."

"Every five minutes, about fifteen times," Mike chuckled.

Wiping Reyes' tears away, Derrick smirked, "I guess you decided to be Core Rimmer?"

Nodding, Reyes nervously sniggered, "I saw you on TV. I changed the channel so the kids wouldn't see, if they woke, then transported here."

Kaleo enthusiastically congratulated the team and presented the numbers saved, by checking Reyes' database. He then reported that Prez had been burned during a rescue, about thirty minutes earlier, but that he was fine and would be home by morning. Troy and Sean looked down at the floor. Derrick and Mike cussed the situations they were thrown into by mindless cretins. Kekoa looked like he was going to have fit, but didn't say a word.

All away team members stored their phasers. Kaleo and Tory offered to remain in the Command Center as long as necessary. Sean and Troy were asked to take charge the next morning, and they agreed. Derrick ordered Alden to stop recording and save the files for later review. All five were tired and filthy anyway, so they all left for home. Derrick, Mike and Reyes went to the Seiberts' home, where their kids were, to shower and call it a night. Reyes could barely let Derrick and Mike out of his sight. Without any complaints, Derrick and Mike allowed Reyes to follow them into a bathroom. While his dad's showered, Reyes leaned against the vanity and shared all he had done with databases in the Command Center, babbling about schemas and other techie gobbledegook. Derrick and Mike helplessly giggled at the upgraded Reyes.

Sean and Troy went to the Faris' condo. The last thing Judy, Troy and Sean saw before turning off the living room TV was the northwest tower teetering and collapsing under its own weight. The Starfleet force-field generators prevented collateral damage to other nearby buildings, but the center lobby and restaurant area of the Hyatt Regency was flattened.

After ensuring all Pacific Rim Detachment personnel were accounted for, Kekoa ordered them to stand down, and then went to his dorm room and collapsed onto his bed. Although physically exhausted from climbing stairs for about an hour, his mind could not stop racing. Kekoa was in an awkward position, being responsible for the safety of the Core Rimmers, but also being subordinate to Prez and having to take his orders. Kekoa didn't like Prez's order to have everyone act separately, strongly believing that Core Rimmers should always have had at least their enhanced human security with them at all times. If Kekoa had insisted on that one detail, Prez probably wouldn't have been hurt. Finally coming to the conclusion that he needed to talk to Prez the next day, Kekoa closed his eyes and tried to sleep.

Finished with his shower, Keith got unexpected chills while dressing. He just knew something was very wrong and thought it might be Prez, so he flew into clean clothes.

The stand-down from red alert didn't last an entire fifteen minutes. At twelve-forty, a teleconference call between Clan Divisions was initiated by Sammy and Seth in Orlando. Included in the call were Kaleo, Tory and Nathan; Julio and Jesse from Des Moines; Brent and Lance from Nevada Desert Division; from the Rapid Response Base were Donnie and Emily; and lastly from Northeast Division were Skipper and Calvin. At two minutes before one in the morning, six-fifty-eight Eastern time, the Northeast Division called Red Alert. Civil unrest in New York and Washington D.C. had become organized. News reports showed fires scattered around Manhattan and more buildings ablaze in the Nation's Capital. In St. Petersburg, Russia, the Tsar's Palace was under attack. In Mumbai, India, and Kobe, Japan, and in Shanghai, China, the seaports were ablaze. Cargo ships moored at the docks were making hasty retreats to open water.

When Keith arrived at Prez's hospital room, Prez was still asleep. The bio-bed was still doing its job though, so Keith could only hold his husband's hand. Jim gave Prez's comm-badge to Keith, which had been given to him soon after he arrived. Jen then outlined some of the work that she had planned to do the next day. She also knew that world events were such that the boys would be busy the next morning. Since it was almost one in the morning, she 'recommended', in that motherly fashion that made it an order, that Corey and Drew return home and get some rest. Keith would stay at the hospital with Prez until he was released.

Wound up and not very tired, Drew and Corey sat together on the sofa in the Hundsers' basement. On the other end of the sofa, Stephen sat on John's lap while John explained why everyone suddenly felt weird around eleven-thirty. Though the TV news was on, Corey and Drew were paying more attention to the PADDs they were reading, trying to learn more about who was responsible for the evening's chaos. The dry reading did make them tired. Eventually, Drew and Corey retired to the nest where Frankie, Geoff and Lenny were sound asleep, blissfully unaware of anything that was happening anywhere in the world. John and Stephen went back upstairs to their bedroom.

By this time, the last of the rescued kids who were watching world events unfold gave up the battle to stay awake and went to their rooms. Horacio and Sonia gently woke the four snoozing boys on the sofa, and then followed them to their dorm room. Once the boys were safe and sound, Horacio walked with Sonia upstairs to her room. They hugged and kissed then said goodnight. Horacio then returned to his room. The remainder of the teens went directly to bed, but many turned on their room television, turned the sound way down to almost nothing, then got undressed and climbed into bed.

Arnold James Smithson and his roommate Jerrold Hebda returned to their room, each bursting at the seams to say something about what was said earlier in the auditorium, and what they had witnessed that night. Both were thirteen years old and from the original group of eighty-seven rescued by Joel. Arnold was five-feet-two-inches tall, weighed one-hundred-twenty pounds, had dark brown hair and gray eyes that seemed somewhat blueish in the daylight. Jerrold was an inch taller, five pounds heavier, and had red hair and blue eyes. Arnold was at the same orphanage as Sean. Jerrold had been there too, but was fostered two years earlier. They had moved into the first dormitory Monday night. Simultaneously, each boy asked, "What are we gonna do?" Breaking into giggles, they queried, "What do you want to do?" and then cracked up and embraced.

Not releasing his boyfriend, Jerrold leaned back so they could talk, reminding, "In this dorm, some of the younger kids are already looking up to us, asking what we're doing with our credit cards, even asking us if it's kewl to shower with older dudes."

Arnold nodded, "They've seen us picking up our stuff and organizing our room, so they do it too. I mean, we're clueless about a lot of stuff too. Some kids think you're related to Prez too though, so that might have something to do with it." Prez and Jerrold both had longish red hair, blue eyes and milky, pale skin decorated with freckles, but they were not related.

"Like the four seven-year-olds sharing a room down the other hall," Jerrold shared, "They asked us why we were cleaning up after ourselves. It's not only because we used to have to do it, but because the housekeepers shouldn't have to pick up our dirty clothes and underwear for us. We've all got laundry bags. We don't have to do our own laundry anymore, but the housekeepers shouldn't have to do everything for us."

"With only two of us in here, we get plenty sloppy," Arnold sniggered, "Their room was twice as bad with four of them in there. It was kewl how they had Daileass set up the bunk-beds perpendicularly, so the four of 'em could have desks and laptop computers."

"Where do we go from here?" Jerrold wondered.

Arnold shrugged, "I'm with you, Jerry. If you want to try for leadership roles, I'm kewl with that."

"Are you sure?" Jerrold confirmed, and then offered, "It would be very un-kewl to decide later that we don't want the jobs. I want you near me, but if being a leader worries you at all, just say so. I don't want that stuff interfering with you and me being together."

"I missed you when you left the orphanage, Jerr," Arnold reminded. "As long as I can stay with you, like we used to be, before you left the orphanage, then I'll play dorm leader with you."

Jerrold hummed, "I missed you too, Arnie," then softly suggested, "How about we see what happens? If Prez, Kaleo or any of the Core Rimmers ask for help with something again, we'll offer to help."

Arnold rapidly nodded then stole a tender kiss. Jerrold returned the kiss more deeply. When the kiss broke, Arnold whispered, "I've always loved you, Jerry."

"I love you too, Arnie," Jerrold firmly assured, and made it a promise by adding, "I always have and always will."

Arnold happily giggled, "Take me to bed, ya sexy redhead."

Taking hold of Arnold's T-shirt, Jerrold stepped back, cackling, "I'm sexy? I don't have gray eyes that peer into souls," and pulled his boyfriend's shirt off. He smiled, "We haven't used both beds once, we always sleep together, since the nest."

Once his shirt was dropped on the carpeted floor, Arnold reached for Jerrold's shirt, pulling it up and off. Without pausing, he reached for the drawstring on Jerrold's boardies and untied it. Arnold smiled, "Ya know what the best part of us being together is?"


"We've known each other for a long time, even though we were separated," Arnold admitted. "When we were rescued, we picked up where we left off without any problem."

"You were always my best friend," Jerrold confessed, "Now we're boyfriends, just like our leaders."

"In lots of ways," Arnold gushed. "We're almost the same height and weight. Our dicks are similar, soft and hard, only you're uncut and I'm cut, like Prez and Keith, and Derrick and Mike."

Gently taking hold of Arnold's stiffy, Jerrold gleamed, "Cut versus uncut makes no difference," and led his boyfriend to bed. Jerrold sat on the edge of the bed and pulled Arnold down on top of him. They laughed and giggled between deep kisses before shifting completely onto the bed and wordlessly moving to orally make love.

At the Rapid Response Base hospital, Keith watched TV and checked incoming messages and reports from the Command Center on his PADD while Prez recuperated on the bio-bed. Whenever a doctor or nurse came in to check on Prez, Keith asked for an update on his husband's condition. Between the news and his PADD, Keith feared that the situation was very bad in London, such that BBC broadcasts were not being received, and things were getting just as bad in New York City and Washington, D.C. Those cities were most important to Keith because that's where friends were known to be; Joel, Cory and Sean Short were in London; Harry and Jonas had notified all the other Clan Divisions that they would be in their nation's Capital city. Scattered around the world, so many other cities were impacted, Keith could barely wrap his mind around the ever-increasing list.

In the Ewa Beach Command Center, Kaleo, Nathan, Tory and Lieutenant Vorik were working to prepare for the inevitable casualties and refugees. Around the R.O.H., there really weren't any major problems in any of the islands' cities. In Honolulu, the only unrest was at the American Embassy, at the gates of Pearl Harbor and at Hickam Air Force Base. Making efforts to protect his small country, King Aalona was on a phone and computer station, contacting military and police leadership of Hawaii and then those Admirals and Generals stationed at Hickam and Pearl Harbor. During this time, they all learned that it was Romulans disguised as humans that stirred up the existing civil unrest to this critical level. A world-wide signal was being transmitted that would cause their bio-phase chips to fail and uncover them. This would likely change the focus of the unrest as individuals suddenly phased to their true Romulan forms, but it wasn't expected to make matters any better for quite some time.

Unable to sleep, Melonie Correro walked out of dorm one to stroll around the base perimeter. Soon after she got away from the lights of the housing area, Melonie saw several jets flying over the base. Every few minutes, another formation of fighter jets taking off from Hickam sped past. Melonie was aware of what had happened earlier at the Hyatt and Honolulu airport, but didn't know anything more. Down at the south side of the base, where there was a clear view of the beach, Melonie saw bright lights of ships off-shore cruising at high speed by the island. For Melonie, it was very impressive and quite pretty to see late at night. Of course, she didn't realize that the jets and ships were task forces scrambling to support military activities on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean.

At two-fifteen, Prez was moved to a medicated tub for the final stage of treatment. At last, Keith and Prez could talk. Right after they were left alone, Keith told Prez where the worldwide situation was at.

When that was completed, Keith smirked, "I'm just wondering why you didn't call Jimmy to put the fires out?"

Prez shrugged, "I honestly didn't think about it. Jimmy was doing his job and we were doing ours. I drenched myself in a shower before running and jumping through flames. I didn't think my clothes would catch fire, and honestly didn't know they had until the nurse said so. Even then, it didn't register." A moment later, Prez then wondered where his comm-badge was.

Keith answered, "I've got it in my pocket." Dramatically frowning, Keith softly shared, "There is some more good news and bad news."

Prez rolled his eyes then huffed, "Bad news first, please."

"You won't be dressed for the next thirty-six hours," Keith leered. "The good news is, I'll be alone with you as often as possible." Both boys began laughing and made plans to spend their first full night alone together in their townhome's master bedroom.

On television news, residents of Washington, D.C. were evacuating across the Potomac River to Virginia, or north and east into Maryland. People evacuating from Manhattan Island were walking across bridges and through tunnels into Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and New Jersey. American Civil Defense authorities working with the Red Cross were setting up local refugee shelters at The Meadowlands, FedEx Field, and other similar large stadiums and venues. Full communications with the United Kingdom hadn't yet been restored, so there was only hearsay being reported from refugees that had managed to escape London. Since many people would be displaced for weeks or longer, the Clan leaders on the teleconference call began discussing ways to get refugees from the local shelters to places more fitting for families.

An alert message arrived on Keith's PADD around two-thirty in the morning, informing him that Queen Elizabeth had made the Terran Call, stating that all Earth's military should go on alert as the planet was under imminent threat. For another fifteen minutes, Keith searched his PADD and listened closely to the television to learn who was threatening the planet. At almost the same time, he read about Romulans masquerading as humans and heard the same report on the TV news. Unfortunately, this information only made the rioting and other madness in the United States and around the world worse. Now people didn't trust each other. Accusations flew and rioters began fighting amongst themselves. The familiar New York City skyline had scattered billowing smoke rising in the air and fires could be seen.

About the same time, at two-thirty in the morning in Hawaii, battles in London, St. Petersburg and Washington, D.C. had created refugees estimated in the tens of thousands and as high as a quarter-of-a-million in total. How to deal with them was the latest problem at hand. Kaleo, Tory, Nathan and Lieutenant Vorik worked with the other Clan Divisions to organize and prioritize the situation. Of course, family groups needed to stay together. All the missing needed to be listed, so that when they were found, either among the dead or alive, the remainder of their families could be quickly located and either notified of the death or the family could be reunited.

All the Clan leaders on the teleconference talked about housing available in their areas. There were twenty-six donated military installations scattered around the States that could be used as refugee housing. Surprisingly, Prez had snagged one of them; The Presidio on the northern tip of the San Francisco peninsula. There they had housing for about five thousand, they estimated. Kaleo knew that some of the housing at Oneula was already occupied with employees, but he confirmed that all of the housing at the Pacific Rim bases at Hawaii, Kauai and Maui were unoccupied. Those houses, townhomes and dormitories could give about three-thousand people temporary places to reside. Also taken into account was the island of Kaho'olawe, capable of providing temporary residences for about twenty-five-thousand. Nathan quickly estimated that between the three bases and the uninhabited island, Pacific Rim could provide shelters for about thirty-thousand-five-hundred individuals.

Julio offered, "We can use Wells Fargo Arena as our stage two refugee center. We'll get those folks out of the local shelters to Wells Fargo Arena, and then from there, over to final housing destinations." All the Clan Leaders agreed with that three step plan.

Seth loudly announced, "We've just been notified that the F.A.A. has grounded all North American air traffic. The order comes from the President of the United States. Only military aircraft and Starfleet shuttles used as emergency transportation are allowed in our skies."

On Kaho'olawe, Peter Lambert had provided buildings, but no one knew if any of them were furnished. Since there were standard Clan video and audio monitoring capabilities in all the buildings, Alden answered the question. "None of the buildings have any furnishings of any sort."

Nathan ordered, "Alden, start furnishing those homes and dorms now. Before we've exhausted what's in the UNIT warehouses, contact Tako Corp and have them fill our warehouses again. We need everything; from furniture and window treatments, to paper towels and toilet paper."

Tory scowled, "Make sure it's the nice, soft T-paper, Alden; like we have here. For five years in that damned orphanage, my butt was repeatedly abused, by men and cheap, rough T-paper." Everyone in the Command Center and on the teleconference call cracked up. Kaleo threw himself at Tory and kissed him hard. When the kiss broke, Tory giggled, "Too true?"

Kaleo nodded and sniggered, "Talk about adding insult to injury, even a nice shit is ruined."

Getting everyone back on track, Nathan sighed, "Refugee estimates are climbing in leaps and bounds. Contact Starfleet and have them start replicating more housing too, Alden. We'll need it before the day is done."

Kaleo's comm-badge chirped. Stepping back from Tory, he answered the call. Keith reminded Kaleo, "Julio's Uncle is Iowa State Governor Ted Jacobs. We're going to need lots of help getting all these buildings built and refugees settled in."

Prez added, "They'll need food and drink too. The last thing we need are refugees passing out on us."

Away from the main teleconference, Julio could be heard chatting with his uncle. Moments later, an older man's voice, presumably that of Governor Jacobs, ordered, "Mobilize the Iowa State National Guard Corps of Engineers."

Minutes after that, Julio returned to the teleconference, stating, "Uncle Ted's calling neighboring states for their Corps Of Engineers. He'll contact the Governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia. Soon we'll have skilled construction workers and support staff to man Seibert Mall Food Court and various other restaurants around Kaho-o-whosie island."

At two-forty in the morning, Pacific Rim Division learned Starfleet Headquarters, San Francisco, was tracking an incoming Romulan Warbird entering the atmosphere from west of the city, approximately two-thousand-five hundred miles distant, over the Pacific. It was presumed that within the hour the Warbird would reach the city. Kaleo, Tory and Nathan decided to assist with defending the city. Donnie immediately ordered the Goliath to intercept the Warbird. At the same time, Kaleo woke Kekoa, explained the situation and then asked "What have we got, Colonel?"

"Plenty," Kekoa replied. "Let me get them airborne, and then I'll explain further." Before Kaleo could question the Detachment commander, Kekoa abruptly said, "Kekoa out." Only half-dressed in his fatigues and barefoot, Kekoa transported out to the Rapid Response Base, where he put Strike Teams Oscar, Romeo, Tango and Whiskey on alert. Teams Oscar and Romeo were put to work arming the Hind Gunship and the F-15E Strike Eagle. With the help of the A.I.s and an electronic map of the northeastern Pacific Ocean, Kekoa briefed teams Tango and Whiskey, the pilots for the Hind and F-15E. A blinking dot, about one-thousand kilometers north of the R.O.H., indicated their target.

General Donnie Williams entered the hangar, informing the pilots and Kekoa that the Goliath was taking off within the next minute or two. The group was informed that the Lafayette was in orbit firing on the Warbird, and that the Goliath would present a formidable opponent in the air. On and in the ocean, League Naval Battle Groups were already confronting and firing on the Romulan ship with all they had, including phaser cannons and photon missiles. The jobs of the Hind and F-15E were to transport to the Warbird, rapidly fire all their weapons and come back for rearmament. They were small and maneuverable enough to avoid enemy fire and would initially be considered annoying mosquitoes on the ass of a rhinoceros, until the Warbird was hit with phaser cannons and twenty simultaneous matter/anti-matter missiles.

Donnie finished his briefing, telling the pilots, "The Goliath is running hypersonic and will be on target in fifteen minutes or less. Our job is to make certain those Romulan fuckers never get close to San Francisco. They go down in pieces or as a new hunk of ugly reef material off shore, but they are going down, correct?"

"Sir, yes Sir!" Twenty voices shouted.

With a nod from Donnie, Kekoa ordered, "Man your aircraft." Four boys ran to the flight-line and the remaining sixteen hurried to assist the teams preparing armaments. One pilot climbed into the F-15E. The other three boarded the Hind Gunship.

Noticing Kekoa's stressed expression, Donnie pulled him close to softly say, "I was briefed on the Goliath shortly after it departed for the Hyatt Regency. It's three-hundred-sixty meters long, one-hundred meters wide, wedge shaped and aerodynamic. It's basically an atmospheric battleship, powered by microfusion generators; it has all the same weapons and armaments as Starfleet, and the chimps developed configurable parabolic reflective shielding."

Kekoa scowled, "Which means?"

"It can absorb incoming fire to augment the shield power, and reflect a portion of the firepower back at the source," Donnie grinned.

Kekoa's jaw dropped, and then he chuckled, "The more it's hit the stronger it gets. They should've named it 'Rocky'."

"That Warbird will take a pounding from our forces, Starfleet and the League's naval and air forces," Donnie stated, and then huffed, "The only question is, how long will the Warbird last?"

U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln Strike Group

Near 38 Degrees North Latitude, 160 Degrees West Longitude, 2:50 AM HTZ

Petty Officer Third Class Radcliff Conklin, standing at his General Quarters duty station at the forward phaser cannon, wondered when his life would start flashing before his eyes. He'd joined the Navy to see the world. During his three years in the Navy, he had seen a lot for a man of twenty-one years; the port cities around the Pacific Rim, from South America to North America to Pearl Harbor to Tokyo and Kobe, were his vacation spots. For the last two years, his primary home was the heavy destroyer U.S.S. Nicholson. Now Radcliff could include the sight of a Romulan Warbird burning through the atmosphere in his list of memories for old age; assuming he survived this encounter.

Firing his phaser cannon in controlled ten-second bursts at the Warbird's warp nacelles, Radcliff recalled basic training, when his nickname changed from Cliff to Rad, simply because his long red hair was uncontrollable those first two days at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Even after they shaved his head, the nickname 'Rad' had stuck all through basic training.

The night he arrived at his job training location at Dahlgren, Virginia, his nickname became even more permanent. After eight weeks of no alcohol at all, those first three beers hit him like a tidal wave, allowing Rad to tell his buddies that he was bisexual and didn't care who any guy decided to have sex with, and his intoxicated list included animals and watermelons. Soon thereafter, when his first week of training was completed, another inebriated experiment with his pals actually included three watermelons. Adequate holes were bore into the giant fruits. He and his five buddies pounded away at the watermelons to prove 'any port in a storm' was adequate. 'Rad' was a radical from that point forward.

Phaser and photon torpedo blasts lit up the night sky over the Pacific Ocean. The carrier Abraham Lincoln had Hornets and Falcons zipping around the massive alien spacecraft. From the surface of the ocean and from below the waves, matter/anti-matter missiles fired at the belly of the beast. Most disconcerting to Rad, to the fighter pilots and even to Admiral Noonan, aboard the Abraham Lincoln, was that all the firepower didn't seem to be impacting the Warbird's flight path toward San Francisco. Admiral Noonan had sent thirty of the armada's seventy aircraft on this first attack encounter. For the first time, their weapons seemed ineffective. For all previous Earth-bound encounters, the phasers and photon missiles were extremely effective. The Admiral would soon demand full-yield Starfleet phasers and matter/anti-matter weapons, not these almost worthless one-fifth yield weapons. It wouldn't take long before the Warbird was out of range of the strike force. At flank speed of sixty knots, the strike force was being outpaced by the Warbird. All Noonan could do was hit the Warbird with everything the strike force had.

Proving that they were getting the attention of the spacecraft's command, it discharged its fore and aft disruptors on ships of the surface fleet. One shot missed, but the other hit the Royal Navy cruiser Blake midships. In seconds, Admiral Noonan received word that the Blake was going down, and its Captain had ordered his men to abandon ship.

On the tail of that transmission, a second transmission came in, notifying the Admiral that air assistance from Clan Short had been dispatched from Oahu and would be on location within two minutes. Adm. Noonan loudly asked, "What type of air assistance?"

Communication Officer Nealy replied, "One F15E, one Hind gunship and something referred to as a battleship named Goliath, Sir."

Adm. Noonan incredulously hollered, "A fucking battleship in the air?"

The communications officer could only shrug and then report, "Incoming transmission from the commander of the Goliath, Sir."

"This better not be some bullshit story cooked up by those Clan kids," Noonan softly grumbled, and then loudly ordered, "Over speakers, lieutenant."

A deep voice resonated over the speakers in the bridge. "This is Captain Tau of C.S.S. Goliath. Please switch to encryption code Delta four."

"Do it," Adm. Noonan ordered. A moment later, he said, "This is Admiral Noonan. What the hell is a C.S.S. Goliath, Captian Tau?"

"Clan Short Ship Goliath is a specially developed battleship, Sir," Capt. Tau replied. "We'll be in visual range to your south any second."

Picking up his binoculars, Noonan grumbled, "I don't have time for games," and then peered out to his south. He saw blinking red and green lights outlining a huge airframe that by all rights shouldn't even be able to fly.

"We are not here to play games either, Admiral," Capt. Tau assured. "Please inform your pilots that we are friendly and here to help. Have them target their weapons to the north of the Warbird and we will take the south."

The rumble of a sonic boom shook the Abraham Lincoln as the Goliath flew over head, approximately one-hundred nautical miles to the south of the Romulan Warbird. Flabbergasted by the sight of Goliath, the Admiral blinked, and then told his communications officer, "Transmit to air wings Alpha, Bravo and Charlie to concentrate on the north side of the Warbird." He then yelled over the speakers, "Capt. Tau, we haven't slowed the enemy vessel at all in the last five minutes. If we can't slow her down, my forces won't be able to keep station."

"As soon as your aircraft are clear, we'll lock on to get her attention, Sir," Capt Tau reported. In ten seconds, the last of the Navy's aircraft had moved behind the Warbird. Closing from the southwest and perpendicular to the Warbird, as soon as the Goliath was in range, Capt Tau ordered, "Tactical, fire port weapons." A barrage of missiles and phasers fired from the port side of the Goliath at the Warbird and impacted against her shields a moment later.

Blinded by the flashes, Rad Conklin backed off from his targeting system with his eyes closed and hollered, "Holy fucking hell!"

"Tactical, fire starboard weapons," Capt. Tau ordered. Another outpouring of weapons from the Goliath hit the Warbird moments later. Slowing considerably, the Warbird returned fire on the Goliath. From Admiral Noonan's perspective, the Goliath visibly rocked from the disruptor's impact.

Across the communications link with the Goliath, Adm. Noonan heard a higher pitched voice report, "Shields at ninety-percent Captain, and recharging from the absorbed energy."

Capt. Tau ordered, "Tactical, fire at will." He then called, "Admiral Noonan, please inform your strike force to pound the fucking shit out of this pigeon from below and the north."

Chuckling madly, Adm. Noonan cheered, "You slowed her down and got her attention. We'll follow the bitch all the way to San Francisco at this speed."

"F15E and Hind, incoming from the east to smack that bird right on the beak," Capt Tau told the Admiral. At supersonic speed, a single F15E approached the Warbird and fired twelve matter/anti-matter missiles. The F15E pulled up hard and vanished. Then the Hind hit the Romulan craft again with another eleven photon missiles while simultaneously firing its phaser cannon. After fifteen seconds, the Hind disappeared from view and all radar scopes. From beneath the waves, four photon missiles broke through the surface, heading directly for the underside of the Warbird. All four impacted.

Again able to see through his targeting system, Rad aimed his phaser cannon and fired, gleefully muttering, "We've got you now, you skanky fucking whore."

The Warbird fired it's fore and aft disruptors. The starboard side rocked the Goliath. The port side disruptor blasts hit the destroyer U.S.S. Meredith and one of the Hornets buzzing around. The ops officer aboard the Goliath reported, "Shields at seventy-seven percent and recharging."

At the loss of another ship, Admiral Noonan shouted, "GODDAMNIT!" He then told the communications officer, "Relay to the captains of our boomers, I want to see a missile fired from them every five seconds to keep that bird blind. If I lose the last cruiser and destroyer, we're fucked."

"Aye, Sir."

Turning to flight ops, Noonan ordered, "Get wings Delta and Echo in the sky."

"Aye, Sir." A moment later a klaxon sounded to get the next air wings off the deck.

All around the Romulan Warbird, phaser and photon missiles from aircraft, surface vessels, submarines and the Goliath were fired and hit her shields. Now well below supersonic speeds, she still held her easterly course for San Francisco. Additional Naval forces were heading northeast from Pearl Harbor to intercept. From Alameda, the U.S.S. George Washington and her strike group was prepared to block the Warbird's path. The battle raged on across the Pacific Ocean. Every six minutes, the F15E and Hind reappeared and fired their weapons, before returning to the Rapid Response Base for rearming. At three-thirty in the morning, the Royal Navy cruiser Lion was hit.

A thousand miles off the west coast of America, the Abraham Lincoln strike group had lost three of its four surface ships. All that remained were the heavy destroyer Nicholson and the two submarines. Of the fifty aircraft sent to engage the enemy, thirteen had been shot down and twenty needed to return to the Abraham Lincoln for refueling and arming. Airwings Foxtrot and Golf were launched so that the remnants of wings Alpha, Bravo and Charlie could return.

Eight hundred miles off the coast, two U.S. Air Force tankers and fifty fighter jets from Vandenberg and Travis Air Force Bases engaged the enemy. From the bridge of the Abraham Lincoln, the view was partially blocked by the wedge-shaped doorstop named Goliath, but beyond it there seemed to be almost a hundred fireflies attacking a hawk. Somehow, in the midst of all the bright flashes, a disruptor blast managed to connect with the Nicholson, hitting her aft section. The captain ordered "Abandon ship!"

Leaving his duty station at the forward phaser cannon, Rad Conklin bitterly complained, "Still no life flashing before my eyes? Com'on! I love a parade!"

Racing toward a ladder that would get them on deck, one of Rad's shipmates hollered, "You're fucking nuts!"

"What makes you say that?" Rad countered, and then rambled, "Just because I was looking forward to Christmas shore-leave on Waikiki, with a hot girlfriend, a hotter boyfriend, and a bored out coconut, for when they weren't around, I'm kookie? I don't think so! What is nuts is how badly this ship is listing, and we're still trying to climb the fuck out. Now, move it!"

Other nearby shipmates, all scared to death and hurrying to save their asses, began evilly snickering and teasing Rad about his sexual preferences, or lack thereof. Once on deck, several men slipped down the steep incline into bulkheads and the sea, but Rad had managed to grab hold of one of them and swing him around the hatch. Clinging to the side of the superstructure that led to the bridge, Rad grinned at his ship mate; "Don't get the wrong idea, 'cos I saved your ass. I am not fucking you."

The nineteen-year-old blond Seaman nervously chortled, "If we survive this, I'll fuck you and then the coconut."

"Incentive!" Rad cheered, and then instructed, "She's teetering. When she leans starboard again, run for the edge and jump as hard as you can." After what seemed to be an extremely long and drawn out thirty seconds, with lights flashing above them from the ongoing battle, Rad and the Seaman bolted for their chance. They climbed the ship's railing and pushed off with all their strength, landing in the cold water of the Northern Pacific Ocean. Only when they resurfaced did Rad ask, "What's your name again?"

"Gilbert Hoover. Why?"

Rad grinned, "If I'm gonna spread my legs, I should at least know your name." Hoover cracked up. Rad reached down to take his pants off and then tied the legs to fashion an emergency flotation device. Since Hoover was only watching, Rad prompted, "Get to it, Gil. I'm looking forward to a real fun night with you, on land, in a warm comfy bed." Snapping out of his trance, Gil took his pants off to create his own flotation device. When that was taken care of, they began swimming away from the sinking U.S.S. Nicholson.

A fair distance from the ship and seemingly safe, Rad and Gil stopped swimming. Gil called, "Hey, Rad?"

"You know my name?"

Nodding, Gil grinned, "Everybody knows you, dude, from the engine room to the bridge." He paused to control a shiver, then assured, "You're really not as crazy as everyone thinks."

"What makes you say that?"

"You grabbed hold of me, kept me calm and focused enough to abandon ship, reminded me to make my pants into a float, and then swim to safety. Four times you saved my ass."

"Honestly, I didn't get to check out your ass. I would've done the same for anyone."

"So, are you straight, gay, bi, or just into fruits?"

Rad smiled, "Bisexual, and I'm really not into fruit at all. It took a long time to wash sticky watermelon juice off my dick, nads and out of my pubes."

"Your Christmas plans were just made up then?"

"Mostly. I was planning on Waikiki, but the rest was all my imagination."

"Not anymore," Gil giggled through another shiver. "Come hell or high water, I'll be there too."


"To be with you."


"I want to try, with you."

Rad hummed then grinned, "I should've paid more attention to your ass long before tonight."

Gil asked, "Would you really want a boyfriend, or just one-night stands?"

"Now I know why my life never flashed before my eyes," Rad smiled. "My life's about to restart down a pretty nice course."

"Once we get out of the water."

"We stay right here. The battle is still heading east."

Gil paddled a little closer to Rad. Rad reached for Gil's hands. Gil wrapped his legs around Rad's waist, wondering, "How long until we get picked up?"

Rad brightly answered, "A couple of hours, long enough for us to get to know each other, I hope."

Aboard the Goliath, the chimp at Ops called, "Shields at sixty-six percent and recharging. Sensors detect the Romulan Warbird shields have been dropping steadily, now estimated at fifty-five percent."

Capt. Tau muttered, "We're holding shields pretty well, but not inflicting enough damage on the Warbird." He tapped his console, calling, "Engineering."

"Here, Sir."

"Is there any chance we could use part of the energy we're absorbing to augment our phasers?"

The chimp cackled, "Judging by some mischievous grins around the room, I think that might be possible, Sir. We'll have to design an electro-magnetic variance buffer and an ion-flux containment unit."

"Make it happen," Capt. Tau ordered. "I want to hit their nacelle with a blast that'll knock out the shield and fry their drive engines."

"Give us a few minutes, Captain."

"You've got twenty minutes, Engineering," Capt. Tau relayed. "In thirty minutes, we're at the coast."

"Aye, Sir," a half-dozen chimps happily answered, and then set about their new task.

At this point, Naval Air Forces from the U.S.S. George Washington engaged the Warbird. There were now well over a hundred and twenty jets attacking the alien vessel. Making their presence known, the two submarines from the George Washington strike group fired their photon missiles. Commanding the U.S.S. George Washington strike group was Admiral Harold Simmons. They were at station keeping two-hundred miles off the coast of San Francisco. Admirals Noonan and Simpson were coordinating their forces and sending rescue ships to assist those men who were floating around the north Pacific like a trail of debris from the earlier encounters.

Now included in the rescue missions were the Pacific Rim Division's Huey, and the Rapid Response Base's two new destroyers that were equipped with two Seahawk helicopters each. The destroyers weren't able to get to the fight in time, but they could easily help rescue the men left bobbing in the sea. With the help of Alden and the A.I.s, helicopters could take off, transport to the locations and pick up a dozen men each, and then return to their ships or the R.R.B., all in a matter of minutes.

When the men from the U.S.S. Nicholson were rescued, Petty Officer Third Class Radcliff Conklin and Seaman Gilbert Hoover were cuddled together under one blanket. This was no surprise to the UNIT boys aboard the Huey, but the resulting silliness and claims of fucking coconuts and watermelons had the boys laughing their asses off. Donnie Williams was there to greet each and every man that stepped off the Huey. Rad and Gil were pointed out as exceptional. Donnie made mental notes to meet with the two men after they got warm and rested. If Donnie had his way, which he usually got, their time serving in the Navy would soon end. They would be offered positions in the UNIT or, pending a meeting with Director O'Brian, might be employable at Ewa Beach.

Three-hundred miles off the coast of San Francisco, the Romulan Warbird's shields were down to thirty-three percent. The buffering and containment system developed by the chimps was put online. With one hit from the disruptor, the Goliath received almost a gigawatt of additional power that could be routed to their phasers. With the okay from his engineering staff, Capt Tau ordered a port side phaser shot on the Warbird's starboard nacelle. The phaser broke through their shield and hit the nacelle, causing the Warbird to stop in mid-air.

The Goliath was jolted by another disruptor blast. Capt. Tau ordered, "Target their port nacelle. Starboard side phasers, fire!" This shot not only caused the Warbird's aft shielding to fail, and damaged the second nacelle, but brought all their shields down to ten percent. Capt Tau broadcast this information to all the ships, aircraft and land based armaments defending San Francisco. The Warbird was hit repeatedly from all the forces. The port side nacelle fell off into the Pacific Ocean. In the dark, pre-dawn sky off America's west coast, lighting inside the Warbird was seen flickering around the decks and then failing. Pulling back from the crippled Warbird, Capt Tau ordered another round of photon missile attacks. With no shielding remaining, each missile broke off a piece of the Warbird, sending them crashing down into the Pacific. The remaining shattered hull of the Romulan Warbird dropped into the sea, approximately two-hundred-fifty miles off the coast of San Francisco.

C.S.P.R.D. Command Center

Friday, November 5, 2004, 3:07AM

Finished at the Rapid Response Base, Kekoa returned to the Ewa Beach Command Center. Still barefoot and with his shirt only partially buttoned, he reported to Kaleo, "Sir, our F15E and Hind gunship will be assisting in the battle for San Francisco. Also, the UNIT's Goliath is on course."

Kaleo knew that he would be held responsible for the lives of the pilots, and worried, "Are their chances of success and returning home alive good, Colonel?"

"They're excellent, Sir," Kekoa grinned. "Once our birds take off, they'll be transported to the battle location. They will fire upon the enemy and return for rearmament. Both are highly maneuverable aircraft. It would take a lot of luck for them to be hit in the short times they'll be engaged."

"And what about the Goliath?" Kaleo wondered.

"I was only briefed about it from General Williams," Kekoa answered. "Suffice to say, the chimps have developed systems that I never dreamed of. The Goliath will present the Romulans with an above adequate opponent."

Nodding, Kaleo smiled, "I really hated waking you up. Take a seat and stick around, Kekoa. Your job is to report the status of our mission for San Francisco. Once that's done, say good night and go back to bed."

Nathan grinned, "Over here by me, Kekoa. You can just take that shirt off any time you want." Kekoa stopped and smiled. Nathan giggled, "Vorik is the only guy here not wanting to touch your chest."

Glancing around the room, Kekoa chuckled, "Rain checks, please?" and took the chair beside Nathan.

Every boy in the room began scribbling personal "rain checks" on note paper and stuffing them in Kekoa's open shirt, some taking the opportunity for a quick feel.

There was a small earthquake around three-fifteen in the morning. It only lasted about ten seconds, causing Keith and Prez to feel a little dizzy. The swaying window blinds confirmed that it wasn't their imaginations. Kaleo, Tory, Nathan and the others in the Command Center didn't think twice about it, but it was confirmed via news flash that there had been a magnitude four-point-seven tremor.

Kekoa reported, "The Lafayette is breaking off to engage Romulans in a space battle. We've lost two ships from the Abraham Lincoln's strike force. With approval, I'll dispatch our Huey to help with rescue and recovery operations."

Tory quickly answered, "Go for it, Kekoa. The only snacks the sharks can have tonight are Romulan hors d'oeuvres."

Clan leadership on the teleconference decided that refugee support personnel would follow the sun. Each division would provide as many as they could to help get refugees from the local areas to the stage two area and out to the housing destinations. Intermittently, Kekoa reported losses of Naval pilots that would also be recovered. At three thirty, Kekoa sighed, "We lost a fourth ship, the U.S.S. Nicholson."

At four-thirty in the morning, Kekoa switched a monitor to the satellite covering the battle with the Romulan Warbird. The Goliath was half the size of the Warbird. Suddenly, bright flashes sprung from the Warbird. The boys watched for a few minutes as the battle culminated with the destruction and subsequent sinking of the Warbird's tattered hull. Everyone in the room and on the teleconference call cheered. It had taken an hour and forty minutes, but they had accomplished their goal to save San Francisco. Romulan ground forces on the peninsula were being met with deadly force from Starfleet and California's National Guard.

Still working at his computer station during the celebrations, Kekoa received reports from the Goliath that thirteen chimps in the engineering section were wounded and five had died from their injuries. Before leaving for the night, Kekoa reported the losses to Kaleo, Tory and Nathan. "They developed something to enhance the ships phasers," Kekoa softly said. "It worked, but overloaded some of the phaser banks, causing several explosions in the engineering section."

The news brought tears to they eyes of Kaleo and Tory. Nathan said, "They're heroes and will always be remembered as such."

Nodding, Kekoa finished his report, saying, "The Goliath is returning to the Rapid Response Base. It should be home in about an hour."

Kaleo, Tory and Nathan each hugged Kekoa and softly reminded him that he had done an excellent job twice that night, and now it was time to go to bed.

With all his adrenaline seemingly draining out from his heels, Kekoa sleepily said, "Goodnight, or good morning, whatever... see ya later," and then headed out of the Command Center.

Also happening at this time, Prez was examined and released. He was given a white terrycloth robe that barely reached his knees. Keith reached into his pocket, then put Prez's comm-badge on the robe. The doctor ordered Prez to wear only that robe for thirty-six hours. Saturday afternoon, he could have Doc Andrews examine him again to be sure he was ready to wear regular clothes again. Simply so Prez could sleep without waking due to pain, the doctor administered another hypo-spray of morphine. He was given a bottle with twelve tablets of Acetaminophen with Codeine to take no more than three times a day over the next two days.

A small disagreement ensued. Prez didn't want to take meds every eight hours. All he wanted was to be able to sleep. The doctor explained that codeine was one of those pain medications that needed to build in the system to perform at maximum efficiency, so that he could sleep. Obviously stoned again, Prez dramatically frowned and let out a brief childish wail.

Because Prez looked like Richie for a brief moment, Keith laughed, "Alden, take us back to our townhouse, dude."

Alden giggled, "He's so cute when he's out of it!" and then followed the order.

Keith and Prez arrived inside their townhome. They turned on the lights. Prez immediately began taking his robe off, but Keith forcefully said, "No, leave it on, baby."

Turning to his husband, Prez whined, "Keith, I'm gonna have to... wear..." Finally noticing Keith's leer, Prez grinned, "It looks that good?"

Keith nodded and admitted, "You had me so worried for a while there."

Stepping closer to Keith with his robe still on, but untied, Prez sighed, "I know. I felt you."

Keith carefully embraced Prez then whispered, "Lives were saved. I'm just sad that you got hurt. We'd both be sad if any of the other dudes got hurt. Given that, we can expect Kaleo, Tory, Sean, Troy and especially Kekoa to be equally upset. Imagine how Dee, Gage, Richie and Sammy are going to feel tomorrow too. I'm not asking anything more than for you to be a little more careful in the future, okay?"

Prez nodded, "I should've thought of Jimmy. He could've cleared my way in a few moments. I guess I was more worried of wasting that time and losing lives because of it."

"I know you, baby," Keith assured. He then reminded, "You said it yourself, the first time anyone on this team gets hurt, you would lose it. Now the leader of this division has been hurt. You're gonna be the center of attention wherever you happen to be most of tomorrow."

Prez groaned at that thought then suggested, "Can we just hide out in here?"

Keith chuckled, "Sure we can, but we can't hide from our family and kids. Eventually, everyone needs to see that you're all right."

Prez nodded and firmly hugged Keith. They both relaxed for a minute, but then Prez softly chortled, "I burned my buns!"

Squinting and taking one step back, Keith took hold of his husband's privates, forcefully reminding, "These are mine! They're only attached to you, but they're my favorite toys. We're both damn lucky you didn't burn these too. Do you want to see me go bonkers? I can't go without for days, baby. I barely made it through last Saturday and Sunday."

"Neither can I," Prez quickly interjected.

Keith smiled, "You wait until this weekend. Once you're better, your buns are gonna feel way toasty."

"I'll look forward to that," Prez giggled. A moment later, he reminded, "I'm not untouchable now, you know? Only my feet and ass cheeks are sore."

Keith softly reminded, "I can't live without you. It's been so many years that I can't even imagine my life that way." Prez nodded then they walked upstairs and into their bedroom.

The Goliath landed at the Rapid Response Base just before dawn. Donnie had arranged for honor guards of chimps, gorillas and humans to be present, in full dress uniforms. General Williams led the formation as they marched toward the hatch in two columns, stopped and spun on their heels to face each other. As is customary, Captain Tau was the first to exit the vessel. He went to the end of the line on his right side and loudly ordered, "Present, Arms." All of the honor guard troops snapped into position, and remained that way for all five stretchers carrying the deceased chimps who valiantly gave their best ideas and lives for their ship and for their world.

Asleep with his husband Stephen, John was having an odd dream and stirred in his sleep. He barely opened his eyes, figured none of his dream made any sense at all, and so snuggled closer to Stephen and fell promptly back to sleep.

Around seven that Friday morning, as kids began waking up and wandering into either the showers or the CIC dining room, the world was a different place. Nathan, Kaleo and Tory had been awake all night in the Command Center with Lieutenant Vorik. Sean and Troy were called to relieve them. They quickly got out of bed and showered. On the news that morning, Sean and Troy learned that battles had been fought and won in London, St. Petersburg, Sydney, Beijing, and in San Francisco. Unconfirmed reports flew that the battle for Washington D.C. was still in progress but almost won. Civil unrest was still occurring in Los Angeles. Hurrying through their shower, Sean and Troy knew that Nathan, Kaleo and Tory had been awake about a full day and needed to rest.

Those Rimmer kids who went directly to their laptop PCs upon waking were getting Internet timeouts from various servers. The problem was not local. It wasn't an information blackout, as had been experienced by many in the R.O.H. the prior weekend. Nothing seemed to be available because worldwide networks were busy dealing with the Romulan threat and military responses.

Showered, dressed and grabbing their breakfasts from the CIC chow line, Sean and Troy learned from the other kids about the Internet being unavailable. Television news reported on the various parts of what was being called "The Battle of Earth". Standing upon a chair in the dining room, Troy pointed at the TV and announced, "There's the reason why the Internet is slow and appearing unavailable. What started here as terrorist attacks at the King's Palace, the airport and at The Hyatt Regency has become a war."

Sean stood on another chair and pleaded, "Guys, don't worry about the Internet. We have water, food and each other. Lots of people around the world have probably lost loved ones. Lots of people are probably searching for food and water. We're not suffering. Remember how little we were allowed to have only days ago? We've still got it good compared to lots of other people."

Nathan, Kaleo and Tory stepped out of the Command Center looking like they had been awake all night. Troy nodded and added, "A little patience and compassion, please guys? What I'm hearing from the news is that Clan Short, The UNIT and Starfleet have been important in winning these battles. We've got a lot to be proud of."

Kaleo got up on a chair and said, "Troy's right, we do have a lot to be proud of. We also have reason to be compassionate. Many were lost in the battles over night. Among those lost were UNIT troops, including five chimps aboard the Goliath. For those of you that don't know, The Goliath was the ship that engaged tractor beams at The Hyatt Regency only hours earlier. Another of those losses hits home for us, as Clan. Early reports from London have said that Commander Charles 'Chip' Dodds has been killed. For those of you that aren't sure who that is, Commander Dodds was the adopted father of several Clan members." Choking up, Kaleo wiped his eyes and explained, "He was the father of Jamie, Jacob and Justin Dodds. Jamie and Jacob were just here for a few days, Monday through Wednesday."

Hushed whispers fell over the dining room broken only by a few sniffles. Tory stood on a chair and revealed, "The other night, during our California operations, me and Kaleo realized just how nice our adults are compared to some of those adults we had to put up with. We've started to show our adults just how much they mean to us. I suggest we all do the same; show our adults how glad we are that they're here and caring for us."

Kaleo nodded then added, "Show all those that you care about how much you care. Show it to the adults and show it to each other." Kaleo got down off the chair. Tory, Sean and Troy stepped down also. Leading by example, Kaleo went to Sean and the two hugged the breath out of each other. Tory went to Troy and they also hugged. All the kids in the dining room began hugging their friends and others they only knew by name. Tory then went to Sean while Kaleo went to Troy. Hugging each other like it might be the last chance they ever got to do so, all four clearly showed just how deeply they had been effected by the recent news. Thirteen-year-old Jerrold Hebda and his boyfriend Arnold Smithson, went to the kitchen and were the first to thank the on-duty chefs. Many of the newbies from California thought that Jerrold was related to Prez, because they had the same shade of red hair, freckles, blue eyes and were very similar in build. Other teens and tweens followed Jerrold to the kitchen to thank the adults that had been feeding them for a week.

As other kids came into the dining room, they saw their leaders and other kids already there meandering about, hugging one another. Soon, an assembly line of kids formed in the kitchen to hug the chefs. It delayed service to some extent, but no one seemed to mind. Others around the world would very likely go hungry and thirsty this day. Kaleo and Tory went back to their dorm room. Sean and Troy went into the Command Center, but were only in there for thirty minutes, long enough for Lieutenant Vorik to meditate and refresh himself. Kids that arrived in the dining room at seven-thirty were still there when Sean and Troy stepped back in the room. The hugging and heartfelt words of appreciation were still being shared.

From his bedroom at home, John felt what was happening in the CIC dining room, and the mass of shared compassion woke him up. The dream from hours earlier still wasn't clear. Things like that didn't happen. If it had, he would've grabbed a phaser, put the division back on red alert and told Donnie to get his entire Rapid Response Base prepared for another alien attack of winged demons. Softly sniggering, he gently munched on Stephen's shoulder. After a quick virtual romp around rooms in John's N-Gen mind, they stretched and started to climb out of bed. From the window side of the bed, Stephen pointed at the window sill, softly asking, "Hon, where did that statue come from? I don't remember it being here when we went to bed, do you?"

Padding naked around the bed, John saw the statue: a large stone-like base, about six inches by three across, and standing an inch high, with a figure of Joel in his armor and carrying his sword standing on it. In all, the whole thing was about ten inches in height, and clearly what he recalled from his dream. With a whisper he repeated what that dragonish, demonish creature had said to him; "I was bidden by Vae'Yarim to give this unto you, little Beloved..."

Looking more closely, John grinned, "Maybe it's a new N-Gen skill? It's from the dream I showed you."

Stephen hollered, "Alden, who was in our room last night?"

Alden giggled, "Our shields are still up, Stephen. I'm reviewing the surveillance for that room, but no one got on base without our knowledge. Only family could've gotten inside your house and in your room. The surveillance video shows nothing too terribly abnormal, just three-point-two-one minutes of blackness, which isn't right, but only means the camera is on the fritz. I'll replace it, guys."

John nodded, "Thanks, Alden. Since Prez is out of it, I'll take a status report in the shower."

Alden giggled, "And Stephen too, no doubt."

"SHUSH!" both boys demanded.

After sharing the news of Commander Dodds' passing with Stephen, Mrs. Marr and his parents, John felt he needed to do two things. The first and most easily accomplished was to join his Clan in the dining room. A little after eight o'clock that morning, John, Stephen and Frankie came in the dining room. Asking everyone to put down their milkshakes, John did what only he could do – create a group hug of two-hundred kids ten feet off the floor. For John, the love and compassion flowing from such a group sufficiently made up for the strain of holding up a building the prior night. Derrick, Mike and their kids walked in to this amazing sight. John telepathically shared the news with them, then pulled them up too, so that they could participate in the warmth and good feelings. John asked for a minute of silence to wish Commander Dodds, and all those lost, well on their journey to the other side. A flash of light engulfed the floating Clan, like that of an old fashioned flash camera. But there was no one with a camera in the room. John hadn't done it nor had Alden or any of the A.I.s. It became another one of those strange things that was generally unimportant yet experienced by many, like the silvery, light musical laughs occasionally heard.

John lowered everyone down to the floor to return to their breakfasts. Then he and Stephen went into the Command Center to perform a second task. John's hope was to have a brief video conference with Jamie and Jacob. Sadly yet understandably, they weren't available, so John recorded a video message for them. John said, "You guys have been in my head since Monday. When I say I feel you, you know it's true. I'm doing what I can and what you dudes will allow me to do. Know this though, all two hundred and thirty-five Rimmer kids just shared a moment of silence for your dads. They were loved and their sacrifice has been noticed. The same goes for you guys, and Justy too. When you're ready, we're here for you. Just say the word and I'll be there with Stephen and as many kids as I can gather. Take care now, buds." After a brief pause, John said, "End message."

Somewhat shocked, Stephen softly asked, "That's all you're going to do, hon?"

John nodded and sighed, "I feel them, baby. They only had good fathers for about two months. I'm not gonna barge in on them, as much as I really want to. They need time and that's something I can't give them."

Nodding, Stephen sighed then muttered, "I wish we could do something more."

Pulling his hubby close, John nodded, "We all do. As soon as they're ready for me, I'm there or they're here, whichever they choose." John turned to Lieutenant Vorik, asking, "Is there anything required of our team, Lieutenant?"

Lieutenant Vorik answered, "Refugee relocation is in progress. Assistance will be needed, at Des Moines, at Hawaii, Maui and Kauai, and at Kaho'olawe."

Telepathically contacting Johnny in Des Moines, John said, "A few of us need to remain here, for the King, covering the command center, and another couple, just for support and emergencies."


John offered, "Let me talk to the kids in the dining room. Hopefully, we can get a bunch more helpers." He then wondered, "How many do you think we'll need?"

Lieutenant Vorik answered, "At least eight on Kaho'olawe and another four in Des Moines. If we could provide more than that, refugees would be helped quicker."

"Put me and Stephen down for Des Moines," John instructed.

Vorik nodded, "I will arrange for security for the volunteers and our other bases." While Lieutenant Vorik handled those tasks, John and Stephen went back to the dining room and their Clan to get as many helpers as they could.

During the time that John and Stephen were in the Command Center, Dee, Gage, Richie and Sammy learned from Derrick and Mike that Prez had been burned. Extremely concerned for their Poppa, no words could help them relax. The boys had to see Prez for themselves. Other nearby kids overheard about Prez and more hushed words spread around the dining room. Derrick asked Alden where Keith and Prez were. As soon as Derrick said, "They're in their townhouse, still asleep," the four boys charged out of the dining room.

Mike grinned, "We're in trouble again."

Derrick shrugged, "What were we supposed to do; lie to them?" He then told Mike, "Now we have to initiate our newest Core Rimmer." Derrick and Mike evilly grinned at Reyes. At their dad's and pop's devious expressions and Reyes blush, Dillon, Jonah and Randy cracked up laughing. At some point, probably when he was least expecting it, Reyes would be grabbed by all four limbs and thrown into the diving well.

Via sub-vocals, Alden warned Prez and Keith that their kids were on the way. After only four hours sleep, Keith and Prez woke, but had not gotten out of bed before the townhouse door was opened and their kids were racing up the stairs. Dee and Gage entered the master bedroom in tears. Wordlessly, Richie ran around the king size bed, lifted the bed sheet and checked his Poppa out for himself. While Keith concentrated on reassuring Dee and Gage, Richie put the sheet down and glared at Prez, wearing a crooked smirk.

"What?" Sammy hollered at Richie. "Is it that bad?"

Richie shook his head, but said nothing. Having no other choice, Prez tossed the sheet aside. The boys looked at Prez's blistered feet, red and now hairless legs, and morning chubby, still surrounded by red hair. Prez got out of bed and turned in place for inspection.

At the sight of his Poppa's very red and blistered buttocks, Richie gasped, "Poppa? You burned your butt too?"

Prez picked up Richie and kissed him, then glanced at each of his sons, saying, "I'll be fine by tomorrow night, guys." Dramatically frowning, Dee scratched the side of his head. Prez asked, "What's wrong, Dee?"

"Well," Dee softly began, "I'm just wonderin', with your butt, feet and legs so red, how're you gonna get dressed?"

Putting Richie down, Prez chuckled, "I'm not," and then went to the chair where he had tossed his white robe. Prez put the robe on and made a show of modeling it, smiling, "This is all the doc said I can wear until Doc Andrews checks me over tomorrow night."

Playfully bouncing his eyebrows at Prez, Keith turned then teased his sons. "It looks pretty good on Poppa, don't you guys think?" Evilly snickering, Prez rolled his eyes.

Gage covered his eyes with one hand, then began laughing. Dee and Sammy groaned, then accusingly yelled, "Daddy!"

Dee pounced Keith, giggling, "Poppa's hurt! You be good!"

Falling back on the mattress, Keith cracked up. Then Richie pounced Keith, followed by Gage and Sammy. Taking his robe off again, Prez joined his sons, tickling and generally abusing Keith. Afterward, the entire family kicked back on the king-size bed. Keith turned on the TV in the master bedroom. Sammy and his brothers began telling their fathers about the Battle of Earth and the casualties already known.

Not really understanding the seriousness of the world-wide situation, Richie asked Prez, "You hungry, Poppa?"

Before Prez could reply, Keith said, "Yes he is. Poppa has some pills to take, and they should be taken with food." Again, Prez rolled his eyes. Keith got up asking, "Who wants to help make Poppa breakfast in bed?" Four positive replies burst forth from the boys.

Prez negatively grunted, "Nuh-uh," and then got out of bed, before Keith could say another word about it. Noticing five very disappointed expressions on his husband and sons, Prez complained, "Come on, you guys. I'm not an invalid." None of them moved from the doorway. Returning to bed, Prez asked, "Ya wanna stay and keep me company, Richie?" Smiling widely, Richie nodded and ran to the bed, then scrambled across the mattress. Keith, Dee, Gage and Sammy left the room rambling about what they could make for breakfast.

On the way downstairs, Gage briefly stopped in his bedroom, then followed his Dad and brothers down the steps. "Dad," Gage called, "the PC I powered up Monday is stuck. It's got a blue screen with lots of letters and numbers on it."

Tapping his sub-vocal, Keith said, "Alden, please replace Gage's computer. Also, please limit our visitors to only immediate family and the other Core Rimmers."

Alden replied, "Got it, Keith."

In the kitchen, moments later, Keith opened the refrigerator, but found it empty. In the cupboards, there were plates, silverware and glassware, but no groceries of any sort. While the boys expectantly looked on, Keith chuckled, "Hey, Alden? It's time for some food and household supplies in here. We'll be here this weekend."

Alden asked, "What would you like, Keith?"

Humming thoughtfully, Keith then said, "I'm thinking mostly non-perishable stuff, but we will need bread, butter, milk, eggs, juices and sodas."

Gage loudly cackled, "And cookies, lots o' cookies!"

Alden giggled, "Food for the Head Rimmer's family, comin' up. Stand-by." Keith got a frying pan out and put it on the stove to preheat. Sammy ran out of the room on a mission. Above the kitchen cupboards, just within reach, Keith spied a stack of trays and pulled them down. He put one tray down on the counter and returned the others. Gage got silverware out and put it on the tray. Sammy returned with a step stool found in the entryway coat closet. He then went to work gathering a bowl, a small sandwich plate and a large dinner plate. Dee took each from Sammy and placed them on the tray. Over the loudspeakers, Alden said, "You're set now, Keith."

Keith opened the refrigerator doors. What had been a lot of empty space was now full of stuff, more than Keith had asked for. In the fridge, there were condiments, sandwich meats and even a gallon of chocolate ice cream in the freezer packed along side packages of meats. Beginning to giggle, Keith checked the cupboards again. They were now filled with boxes and cans of various foods. Only wanting to make Prez some scrambled eggs and toast, Keith now had to make decisions and giggled, "Alden, you're awesome."

Dee, Gage and Sammy cracked up laughing then began checking lower cupboards. Under the sink, cleaning liquids, dishwasher detergent and sponges were found. In the lower level bath, they found more cleaning fluids and extra rolls of toilet paper under the vanity; toothbrushes, toothpaste, safety razors, shaving cream, a septic pencil and various over-the-counter medications in the medicine cabinet. Sammy returned to the kitchen to help Keith. Dee and Gage checked the two bathrooms upstairs. Galloping downstairs with Dee, Gage loudly announced, "We're set with everything. We can live here as long as we want."

Susana Gault left the dining room with Doc Howard. She had waited a day, as the doctor had recommended, but felt even more certain that she didn't want the baby. Susana had spent almost two hours with Doc Wiener the prior day, chatting about the reasons she wanted an abortion. After hearing all the good and logical explanations, Doc Wiener reminded Susana that she would very likely feel somewhat depressed after the procedure. Some of those negative feelings would be the result of hormones thrown out of whack, but other thoughts may be valid concerns and fears. He would be available for Susana to chat with whenever she felt the need to talk. Susana and Doc Howard started towards the F.Y.S. building. Seeing Susana leave with Doc Howard, Doc Wiener went to tables where Susana's friends sat, gently preparing them for the event about to happen and asking that they keep an eye on Susana. Doc Howard led Susana to a small, private treatment room, so she could undress and get comfortable on a bio-bed. The entire procedure would be completely noninvasive, take less than an hour, and Susana would be able to leave the F.Y.S. building in under four hours to have lunch with her friends.

In the CIC dining room, John levitated so he could be easily seen to make his request for helpers with refugee relocation. Drew and Corey went over to join John and Stephen. Next to stand and head toward John were Relud and Inoyra Glith. Finished with their breakfasts and coming out of the kitchen, Horacio Sulin and Sonia Baugh agreed to help and walked over. Almost at once, from various areas of the dining room, Roy Angulo, Gerald Mayers, Liki Keoloha, Keanu Hekekia, Corbin Sancho, Dominic Crassus, Bianca Heres, Adrienne Norensis, Stephen Wickes, Aaron Farris, Jerrold Hebda, Arnold James Smithson, Nell Deckert and Mollie Mcelhannon joined John and Stephen. Over John's comm-badge, Carl Seibert and Laura Gibbons also volunteered. John asked the two adults to join the group in the CIC dining room.

Over the P.A., John announced, "Okay guys, all you kids will need to take care of yourselves for the next few hours, until dinner time. Nathan, Kaleo and Tory were up all night, so let them sleep in as long as they need. Sean and Troy, Mike and Derrick, Prez and Keith, Reyes and Corey's mom, Aunt Lanna will be here to take care of what's needed. There are lots of people without homes to go to or food to eat that we need to take care of."

Fifteen-year-old Lance Elling stood and assured, "Don't sweat it, John. Us older teens can hold down the fort for just about everything."

"We'll all chip in to help around here," thirteen-year-old Nick Shavers added. A bunch of other kids, even some of the youngest assured everything was kewl.

Lowering to the floor, John addressed the group of helpers. "We've got hundreds of thousands to get settled down, fed and sheltered. Some of us will go to the United States and help at staging areas. Some will go to our other unoccupied bases to help there, and the rest will go to Kaho'olawe. All you guys and girls need to remember is to be helpful, keep stuff organized and people in transit to the destinations. In case of problems, Lieutenant Vorik will assign personal security to each of you, so you'll have nothing to be scared of. Trouble makers have a habit of making their presence known and will be dealt with accordingly. Don't put up with any bull, okay? The first time someone stirs up trouble, to the back of the line they go. If they don't like that, offer to have them arrested. If they're still crabby, then it's the third strike and they're out. The more time we spend farting around with butt-heads, the longer everyone else has to wait." Seeing nodding heads and grins, John paused and checked, "Is everybody ready?" Getting vocal confirmations from the group, he called, "Alden, I need eighteen PADDs, comm-badges and sub-vocals."

"On the table beside you, Soul Rimmer," Alden giggled.

John handed out the communications devices and did light scans of each of the volunteers to find out if they were too scared to be of much help to anyone. Drew and Corey went to Kekoa and asked him to work with Lieutenant Vorik for security for the eighteen helpers. Carl and Laura arrived and watched John in full Core Rimmer mode. In minutes, everyone had their personal security and were ready for assignments. Telepathically sharing personnel information with Eddie and Johnny in Des Moines, John sent Arnold, Jerrold, Nell and Mollie to the Rimmer Hawaii base. Adrienne, Bianca, Corbin and Dominic went to Maui; Stephen Wickes, Aaron, Liki and Keanu went to Kauai. Horacio, Sonia, Roy, Gerald, Inoyra and Relud went with Carl Seibert and Laura Gibbons to Kaho'olawe. John, Stephen, Drew and Corey transported to Des Moines, Iowa and the Wells Fargo Arena.

Doctor Randall Wiener walked into the F.Y.S. building carrying a set of three files. It took all week to gain access to the information in the files. Some of it came from the Honolulu Police, some from R.O.H. C.P.S., and the last bit from the coroner's office. The subjects of the file folders were three brothers; thirteen-year-old Oke Ka'aukai, eleven-year-old Kimo and nine-year-old Makaio. The three boys came to see him Monday afternoon. Doctor Wiener had made arrangements with the boys the prior evening to come see him. He had spent the early evening studying the files to be prepared for the boys.

Noticing the long face on the Doctor as he walked in the door, Rob Gibbons said, "Good morning, Randy. Are you all right?"

Forcing a small grin, the doctor replied, "Good morning, Rob." Approaching the desk where Rob sat, the doctor held up the files and softly explained, "This case is disturbing. It would be a horror story for any child. First, the father died at work; an accidental drowning while fishing off the coast of Maui. Barely two years later, the boys came home to find their mother dead on the kitchen floor. To cap it all off, the orphanage personnel convinced the boys that their mother's death was their fault. Now I get to tell them truth, reopening the old wounds so they can heal."

Sighing, Rob nodded, and then gently said, "If anybody can do it, you can."

Nodding, Randy smirked, "What's amazing is the way the boys confronted me. All three are truly remarkable young men. I've seen them with the others, living, loving and playing as they should have always done. Knowing what's in these files, if I were in their shoes, I'd be alone in a corner, rocking and crying. For the first time last night, instead of one bed-time Martini, I had two, and wished that I could confront the sadistic assholes that told them it was their fault."

Rob grinned, "Would you like help with stress relief, Doc?"

Randy smiled, "Not this time, Rob. Sparring tonight with you would be dangerous. Your wife would beat the hell out of us both." Nodding, Rob softly sniggered. Randy chuckled, "Tonight, I'll take some frustration out on a punching bag at the rec center. No matter when I go, there will likely be a few of our base security kids there to cheer me on and instigate me." Helplessly, Rob and his security gorilla laughed. Randy smiled, "As soon as the Ka'aukai brothers arrive, please have them come right up to my office, please?"

Rob nodded, "Will do."

"Now it's time to make a nice relaxing cup of green tea with honey," Randy Wiener pleasantly said, and then left Rob's security desk in the lobby and started for the elevator.

Once alone with Prez, Richie said, "Poppa, tell me why."

Looking over and down at his youngest son, Prez wondered, "Why I got burned?" When Richie rapidly nodded, Prez briefly explained about the fire, how he had disintegrated doors, and when he realized there was someone needing help, how he wet himself down in a shower to go get the woman and little girl.

"Wasn't you scared, Poppa?"

Prez grinned and nodded, "Yep. Very scared."

"But you did it anyway?"

Prez sighed, "Being scared of doing things isn't a reason not to do them, Richie. Do you want to know a secret?" Again Richie nodded. Scooting down in the bed, nearer to Richie, Prez whispered, "I was scared when I realized how much I love Daddy. I was scared again Saturday night, when me and Daddy adopted you and Dee. What scared me most, both times, with Daddy and with you and Dee, was simply that I might not be ready, might not be good enough and screw up bad. Then I would hurt very important people."

Beginning to shed tears, Richie whimpered, "That's what I was thinkin' too. That I might not be good enough... and you might not want me no more."

Wrapping an arm around Richie and pulling him close, Prez assured, "I'll always want you, Richie. Adopting you and Dee was as important and as wonderful as marrying Daddy. To me and Daddy, you, Dee, Gage and Sammy are perfect in every way."

Wiping his eyes, Richie bravely asked, "You didn't get burned to get away from me?"

Patiently and softly, Prez explained, "Richie, I got burned because I wanted to help some people. I'll never, ever want to get away from any of the people I love. I knew I was taking a chance, but people needed our help. I love you, Richie, very much. Yesterday, when you were helping in the store with the newbies, you and your brothers made me very proud."


"Always and forever, Richie; each and every day, no matter where I am or what I'm doing." After a pause to allow Richie to calm down, Prez asked, "Is that why you smirked after looking under the covers, because you thought I did it to get away from you and your brothers?"

Richie shook his head and began giggling. Barely controlling himself, Richie answered, "Because you got no hair on your legs no more, you're all red and hurt, but still had a big hard dick."

Tickling his son, Prez laughed as hard as Richie was. Of course, Prez blamed Keith for his excited state.

Arriving at the Rimmer Hawaii base, Nell, Mollie, Arnold, Jerrold and their UNIT security showed their ID badges to the on-duty Starfleet Security officers. Stepping forward, Jerrold explained that they were assigned to assist with refugee relocation and that additional security would be assigned to the base while the refugees were residing there. Glancing at one another, sixteen-year-old Nell and fifteen-year-old Mollie were quite impressed with Jerrold's outgoing demeanor. Arnold caught the glance and briefly chortled. Walking away from the gate security station, Mollie joked, "He looks a little like Prez and even acts like him."

Regardless of Jerrold's blush and Arnold's giggles, Nell grinned, "A take control sort o' guy. Funny how he volunteered, since Jerrold's generally very quiet."

Jerrold softly said, "Call me Jerry, okay?"

"And call me Arnie or A.J.," Arnold added.

"We'll probably be working together most of the day," Nell thoughtfully muttered.

Mollie gasped, "What about lunch? How're we goin' to feed all these people?"

John sent, 'Don't worry about that. I've already told my mom and dad and Charles and Madeline to get the three bases staffed with the pending employees already hired and on the payroll. If you guys are busy, lunch will be brought to you. We're gonna get our bases filled first, then we'll send folks to Kaho'olawe. Keep a close eye on your PADDs. We'll keep stuff organized that way. It's enough to keep track of who is where. That's our job.'

"It creeps me out when you do that, John," Nell groused.

All four heard John's laughter in their minds for a few seconds while they walked around the base. In most respects, the Hawaii base was the same as Ewa Beach, except there were basketball and tennis courts at Hawaii. All that was missing was the domed CIC and condominiums. In place of the CIC was a building that was more like a buffet restaurant with the attached rec room. This base's auditorium was attached to the dining hall by covered walkways. In the dining hall, the four decided to pull two tables together and set up for refugee arrivals in the dining room.

The four enhanced human security were Patrick Pegram, Brian Whiting, Alice Straley and Wendy Gaitan. All four had MP5-AX rifles. Also assigned were two gorillas, for the boys, and two G-Cats for the girls. The hybrids were carrying fifty-caliber machine guns. Assuming there would be lines of people, all twelve decided to move some tables and chairs aside to make space for two lines. They also discussed how to get refugees from the dining room and to their assigned residences. For any of them to take time away from the dining room was considered a bad idea; it would only slow down the process. They agreed to have maps drawn up.

Into their sub-vocals, Alden interjected, "I can get the maps for you guys. Give me a few minutes to get them printed and I'll transport them to you." All four volunteers cheered and thanked Alden. While they waited, they chatted about numbers of refugees that might be expected. None of them had ever been in the townhomes or the single family homes, so they didn't know how many could fit in those residences. Arnie tapped his comm-badge and called Drew to ask how space should be allocated.

Drew replied, "All the single family homes can accommodate large families of eighteen to twenty, assuming two of the twenty are babies or toddlers. The townhouses can hold six easily or eight, if two are babies or toddlers. The dorm rooms can hold smaller families of no more than four. Alden just told me what you guys have been doing and talking about. You're all doing great! The stuff you've done has been shared with the teams at Maui and Kauai. Even the guys at Kaho'olawe are getting their act together. We just transported four of our buses to Kaho'olawe. Jerry Owens is giving Mr. Seibert and Mrs. Gibbons quick instructions on how to operate the buses. Good job, guys. Drew, out."

With that information and the boost to their egos, Arnie, Jerry, Mollie and Nell did some quick math on their PADDs. They figured they could house nine-hundred-fifty people. When they looked up from their PADDs there were four stacks of maps and a pile of colored markers on the tables in front of them. The maps were actually black-and-white satellite photos. Similar maps were also made up for Kauai and Maui. One-thousand copies of maps were sent to each base, so each refugee could have a copy. Alden had even assigned numbers to the residences, so they could keep track of who was residing where. Barely a minute later, the first group of fifty refugees arrived. At the same moment, Alden had also transported similar numbers of refugees to Maui and Kauai. Chefs, housekeepers and lawn maintenance personnel arrived at each base and everybody went right to work. Every fifteen minutes or so, another fifty or sixty refugees were transported to each of the three Pacific Rim Division bases.

From outside Doctor Wiener's office, Oke Ka'aukai meekly called, "Doc Wiener?"

Looking up from his computer terminal, Doctor Wiener smiled at the group of three boys in his office doorway, pleasantly saying, "Good morning, guys. Come in and lets get started." Oke, Makaio and Kimo filed into the room. Doc Wiener stood, went around his desk and watched the boys head toward the sofa. He gently closed the door, checking, "Have you boys had breakfasts?"

All three nodded, but wore serious expressions. Oke said, "We had showers, milkshakes and even got floated by John."

"Cut the crap, Doc," Kimo smirked, "We've been waiting three years for what you're about to tell us. Get on with it."

"Yeah," Makaio chanted, "prove to us the adults at the orphanage were bigger dicks than what they actually had hangin'."

Purposefully, Doc Wiener chuckled and sat on the edge of his desk, facing the boys. He smiled, "Given what I've read last night, Makaio's nine-year-old pecker is bigger than all of their sad units." All three boys giggled. Makaio blushed too. Doc Wiener reached back for the neat stack of files on his desk. He displayed them to the boys, and explained, "Here is the whole story. Now, I'm going to show you only one of the photographs in these files, boys, but I am going to show you the real medical reports. When you're ready, I'll call and have Doctor Andrews come up and tell you what the big words mean." He confirmed, "Ready?"

Oke checked with his two brothers. When they nodded, Oke prompted, "Go for it, Doc."

Opening the top file, Doc Wiener explained, "All the files contain the same general information. For some reason, the C.P.S. notes on each of you are slightly different, but given what we now know, C.P.S. told more lies in one day than every kid on this base combined." He stood and stepped toward the sofa, handing each boy a copy of the same police report. After giving the boys a minute or two to read, review and confirm that they all had the same page, Doc Wiener explained, "Your mother passed on that Saturday afternoon, while you three were out playing. Please note the approximate time of death. You three all told me the same thing; that you came home for lunch, ate, and then went back out, returning home about five that afternoon and finding your mother on the floor in the kitchen. Your mother's estimated time of death was two that afternoon, at least an hour after you left the house and went back out to play. That's point one; proving that none of you had anything to do with her passing." He paused to gather three copies of another report, then handed each boy a copy. Again, he gave them time to read, review and confirm that they all had the same page in their hand.

"That coroner's report states two reasons for your mother's passing," Doc Wiener explained. "The medical examiner's investigation says that your mom was cleaning with a nasty combination of bleach, pine-cleaner and ammonia. She was moving furniture around and breathing in the fumes from those cleaners. It probably caused her to cough and gasp for fresh air. That caused her lung to collapse. Struggling to catch her breath, she likely got dizzy and slipped on the floor, which caused the broken leg that each of you remember seeing. She didn't die from the broken leg, but since she was already in distress, the compound fracture caused her to lose consciousness and she fainted. She did not die from the fracture or the resulting blood loss. None of you left anything out for her to trip and fall on. There's nothing about toys in either the police or coroner's report. Her primary cause of death was asphyxiation due to the collapsed lung from the chemicals she was cleaning with." Pausing again, Doc Wiener watched the boys check over the report and softly confirm what they had heard him explain.

When all three expectantly looked up at him, Doc Wiener asked, "You boys have two options at this point. Either I can call Doc Andrews in to explain things to you in more detail, or I can show you a police photo. The reason I'm giving you that choice is the photograph does show your mom's hand and arm on your kitchen floor. It also shows something that none of you recalled to tell me about. So talk it over and tell me, is it Doc Andrews or the photo?"

Oke, Kimo and Makaio chattered briefly. Makaio looked up and asked, "It's really only her hand, right? We've had plenty of nightmares about finding her that day."

Oke nodded, "We can't see her face all blue again. We'll all start having those nightmares again."

Doc Wiener nodded and assured, "It's only her hand and a small section of arm." He swiftly added, "It's not her that I want you notice in the picture. It's what's also on the floor that I want you to notice."

The three boys checked again. One after the other, they elected to see the photograph. Doc Wiener wordlessly handed each a copy of the photograph. He did not return to his desk, but stood before the boys and gently prodded, "What's on the floor?"

Makaio visibly shuddered. Kimo looked up with tears flowing down his face. He tried to speak, but failed. Also shedding tears, Oke choked out, "A phone and a mop handle."

Doc Wiener nodded. He handed them a box of tissues, then waited for the boys to finish crying. He said, "Last night, after I reviewed these reports and the photos, I spoke with Jim Hundser, a lawyer, and Rob Gibbons, a police lieutenant, to play Sherlock Holmes with me. Given the conditions, we concluded that when your mom collapsed her lung, she used the mop to keep her steady on the wet floor, then went to the phone. Before she could call for emergency help, the mop likely slipped, she fell, broke her leg and hit the floor unconscious." He firmly told the boys, "She did not die in pain; she did not give up, she fought for her life; she did not trip on any toy or anything else left on the floor. The floor was wet from her cleaning it. Another photograph that shows too much of your mom's broken leg shows a chair tipped over. She almost certainly broke her leg on that chair. The coroner's report even states that they found her skin and blood on the chair. Although it cannot be guaranteed that was what happened, any court of law would find all three of you blameless."

He waited for all three to nod that they understood. Doc Wiener smiled, "So, I'm standing before three of the strongest, most incredible boys on this base. They survived two tremendous losses, three horrible years in an orphanage, and yet had the common sense to come looking for help to find answers to their questions. You could have gone to any adult on this base. I was privileged to be the one you decided to come to. So, you tell me, who has the most guts and the bigger dick, those jerks at the orphanage that blatantly lied, or you three?"

The three boys giggled. Since they met the man before them on Monday, they had concluded he was kewl and could be trusted to tell them the truth. Since Doc Wiener had told them and shown them more than they ever expected, their trust was confirmed. Oke smirked, "Makaio had a bigger dick at two than any of them jerk-offs." This started revolving commentary between the boys on each of their dicks. With loose remarks about Oke's newly sprouting pubes, they started play fighting and rolling around on the couch.

Laughing louder than necessary, only to show the boys that they were mature and had impressed him, which was the truth, Doc Wiener went to his desk. He picked up the handset, pressed a button and called Doctor Andrews to join him in his office "with three very kewl young men". Two minutes later, Doc Andrews knocked on the door. Hearing the knock, the boys stopped play fighting and watched Doc Wiener answer the door.

One thing both men knew was that, working with these kids, appearances meant more than anything. If they acted stuffy and superior, most of the battle was lost before they had a chance to open their mouths. The two adult men sat on the easy chairs across from the couch the boys were sitting on, put their feet up on the coffee table and chatted with the boys on their level. Doc Andrews then started answering questions. The biggest question was the one Doc Andrews had prepared for. He pulled a syringe out of his white coat and a folded, small paper cup. The syringe contained small amounts of the same cleaning fluids that the boys' mother had used. He squirted the contents of the syringe into the cup, allowing the boys to take short sniffs. Each of them coughed and felt the burning sensation in their lungs. When the boys stopped coughing, Doc Andrews reminded, "That was after only brief sniffs. Your mother was breathing that in the whole time she was cleaning. The collapsed lung alone wouldn't have killed her. The broken leg wouldn't have killed her. The combination of circumstances and events is why she died."

Each doctor asked the boys if they had any other questions. The brothers were satisfied. Doc Andrews shook their hands and knocked knuckles with them, then left the office. To conclude the visit, Doc Wiener told the boys, "After what we've talked about and seen today, I wouldn't be surprised if one or all three of you had nightmares tonight. I'm not going to allow that to happen. What we discussed is the reality of the situation, so I will not allow your dreams to cloud what we've discussed. Tonight, and for the next two nights, at ten o'clock, I'd like to meet you at your dorm room. I'll give each of you a small pill..."

"Gag me!" Kimo grimaced. Giggling, his two brothers nudged him.

Again, Doc Wiener overreacted and loudly laughed, "Scratch the pills. Hypo-sprays for all?" When the boys nodded, he said, "Be completely ready for bed, because this shot will have you drowsy in five minutes, and a zombie in fifteen minutes. You'll sleep through the night, without any dreams or nightmares, and wake completely refreshed. Only to be sure none of you have a chance to hurt yourselves, I'll stay with you until you're all asleep, then leave your room."

He looked up at the ceiling, calling, "Alden, what dorm room are these three men in?"

"One, one, o' seven; dorm one, first floor, room seven, Doc," Alden replied.

Doc Wiener reminded, "The next three nights, I'll be at your room at ten o'clock. Do everything that needs to be done. You'll wake to leak if you need to, but be..."

"Zombie status," the boys chorused.

"Precisely," Doc Wiener chuckled at the performance.

Oke nodded and promised, "We'll be ready."

Pointing at the displayed certificates and diplomas on the wall, Kimo teased, "You don't act like any doctor I've ever been to. You sure those are yours?"

Standing and going to retrieve a specially made certificate, Doc Wiener showed it to the boys. Oke giggled, "What the fuck? Professor Porky Pig and Dean Bugs Bunny, E. Phud, of Warner Brothers University?"

Doc Wiener went into his well rehearsed 'Wabbit season, duck season' routine.

The three boys stood and left the office, giggling; "He ain't giving me no shot", "no way!" and "let's lock the door".

Entering the Ewa Beach dining room from the Command Center were The King, Queen and young Prince. Mike and Derrick greeted them. All three were still wearing the clothes that they arrived in. Derrick asked Alden to scan the three Royals and prepare to get them clothes and basic necessities, then Mike and Derrick showed them through the kitchen chow line. Prince Kaimi was offered a breakfast milkshake. Of course, he enthusiastically agreed, but first, Derrick explained to the Royals that the milkshakes had been developed by Doctor McCoy of Starfleet and were vitamin fortified. Kaimi became far less enthusiastic and scrunched his nose.

Mike smiled at the boy; "Just try a little bit. You'll see, they're really very good. Pick your favorite flavor, Kaimi."

Not believing it could be good, Kaimi reluctantly said, "I'll try the strawberry." In moments, the Prince had a small sample cup. He put it to his lips like it was medicine, fully prepared to spit it out. After the first cautious sip, Kaimi's face brightened and he gulped down the remainder.

The King and Queen smiled at their son. King Aalona asked, "Would you like more, Kaimi?"

Rapidly nodding, Kaimi cheered, "Yes, please!"

While the Royals got their breakfasts, Mike excused himself. He went back out to the dining room to gather Dillon, Randy, Jonah, Geoff, Frankie and Lenny. The Rimmer boys were assigned to keep Kaimi company, and when he finished his breakfast, to show him around the base. Walking with the boys towards the kitchen, Mike explained, "At some point, the King will want to go back to his Palace to get personal items, and survey any damage done. I don't know if they'll be staying with us another night, but I'd expect them to. If so, we need to make them feel at home for as long as they're here."

Derrick chatted with the King and Queen, asking what they would like to do that day. King Aalona summarized, "First, I would like to visit my wounded palace guards and employees. Arrangements will need to be made so I may speak to the people and the press. I will need to answer questions that will likely be posed."

Tapping his PADD, Derrick nodded, "I have casualty numbers right here, Majesty." Pausing and carefully considering his words, Derrick softly reminded, "Since investigations are still in progress, we can't mention the H.L.F.," and then passed his PADD to the King.

The King evilly grinned, "I am aware of that from Lieutenant Vorik. I will act ignorant of that information for the time being, but rest assured, the people will know I am not standing for this sort of militant terrorism."

The Queen interjected, "Our lives were put in jeopardy because of our own lack of experience. The last remnants of innocence have been shattered with the windows of our home. It will not happen again."

"I am considering several options available to me," the King told the Queen.

While Mike and Derrick were busy with the Royal Family, back at the townhouse, Keith and his sons were putting the finishing touches on breakfast for Prez. On the tray were scrambled eggs, buttered toast, a bowl of mixed fruit and a large glass of orange-pineapple juice. The final touch was a small flower, plucked by Dee from one of the bushes outside the townhouse, in a glass of water. The three boys raced back upstairs while Keith carefully carried the tray up.

Prez had just started eating when Alden announced over the speakers in the master bedroom, "Gage, I got you an Apple MacBook Pro."

Sliding off the king-sized bed, Gage hurried to his bedroom, saying, "I'm used to Windows. How much different is a Mac?"

"Almost everything available for a PC is available for a Mac," Alden replied. "I've already set it up to work with the printers in the house, so you're set for school and play."

Gage asked, "And it would work today?"

Alden answered, "Only Internet access would be affected, but that's not this Mac's fault; it's military conditions around the world causing that problem."

"Sweet," Gage giggled. He then started trying out his new computer. Sammy walked in and sat down beside his brother. Together, they figured out how to operate the machine.

Entering the room where his brothers were, Dee softly giggled, "Daddy and Poppa are being silly."

Gage smiled, "They love each other so much. It's a big change from the way my ex-parents acted."

Sammy pulled Dee closer and the three boys learned about the MacBook together. They learned that the Apple web site had a plethora of videos to help them, but download speeds were crawling along at a snail's pace. During the process, Sammy and Gage learned that Dee had been left back a year at his old school. In September, Dee had restarted the third grade. He wasn't the least bit familiar with computers. Sammy and Gage began teaching Dee all the fundamentals of operating a computer.

Meanwhile, the newly reunited quadruplets, Ralphie, Richie, Robbie and Ronnie had woke at their new home with their parents. The family was awake late, getting acquainted with one another and their spacious new home. Even after Jason and Trinity had gone to bed, the quadruplets remained awake in the living room, chatting and excitedly watching events unfold at the Hyatt Regency. At one in the morning, the four boys turned off the TV, then went upstairs to bed.

Ralphie and Richie were the first to climb out of bed and take a shower together. It was a completely new experience for the two look-a-likes to see what their backsides looked like to the rest of the world. All the shampooing and soaping had the usual effects on the boys. Washing each others' erections, they giggled and stopped before reaching their climaxes, but they tightly hugged and promised to switch things around, so all four of them would have opportunities in the shower with one another. By the time they had finished and returned to their room to get dressed, Robbie and Ronnie were awake. The latter two confirmed that the former two had showered together.

Only wearing underwear, Ralphie explained, "We should've been bathing together all our lives. We've got twelve years to catch up on, bros. Tomorrow, I'll wait for one of you two to shower with."

Smiling, Richie added, "Now we know what everything looks like, from hair to teeth and from butts and dicks to toes, before we go out to the pools and get naked around the other kids." All four began giggling.

Smirking, Ronnie wordlessly checked with Robbie. Richie and Ralphie each grabbed a brother by the arm, and pulled them into the room. Closing the door, Ralphie softly said, "Yeah, we did wash everything. I knelt down and washed Richie's feet, legs, crotch, dick and nuts, and then kept going up until I finished washing his hair."

"I did the same for Ralphie," Richie proudly admitted. "We're catching up on lifetimes of missed opportunities." He paused and sighed, "It was better washing him and being washed by him than any shower I've ever had before. I was real careful with Ralphie. It seemed he was just as careful with me, maybe more so."

Robbie grinned, "Did you take it all the way?"

Richie and Ralphie shook their heads. "We could've, but stopped before that," Richie explained. "This time was more to act like real brothers, not to get off."

Ralphie nodded, "Maybe another time. We need to get familiar with each other. We think these first few times should be like if we were younger; getting to know each other in every possible way, before we try anything more."

Richie devilishly grinned, "Before I try something for the first time with a boyfriend, and chance screwing up in a really bad way, I'm gonna try things with my brothers first, so we all learn what's kewl and what's not. Together, we can do stuff without losing brotherhood or friendship."

"I want to learn with and from my brothers, like it always should've been," Ralphie stated. He cupped his package through his briefs, giggling, "Down here, we've both got peach fuzz and exactly six longer pubes. I didn't notice any of that before. It's like all at once, we're together and starting puberty at twelve-and-a-half-years-old."

Covering his mouth to keep his voice from being heard outside the room by the two adults, Richie laughed, "The hairs are in slightly different spots, but it's so weird we've both got six of 'em."

Picking up his board shorts, Ralphie chuckled, "Let us know if you've both got the same number. That would be wicked kewl."

Robbie and Ronnie chimed, "Very kewl," and then opened the door to take their first shower together. The only thing different with this pair was Ronnie getting completely carried away shampooing Robbie's buzz-cut hair, remarking that it felt like velvet and setting both off in hysterical laughter. Ronnie would have gladly done anything that Robbie wanted, but they both decided that all four of them would experiment either as pairs or together. Robbie counted six actual pubes on Ronnie. When Ronnie was checking his brother out, he found Robbie had a seventh of respectable length. The only reason Robbie could come up with was a joke about his buzz cut and that the extra hair had to grow somewhere. Again, the two boys roared laughing.

Dressed in board shorts and T-shirts, Ralphie and Richie went downstairs. Both boys gave morning hugs and kisses to their new mom and dad. Neither Jason nor Trinity expected hugs or kisses. Feeling shivers of contentment, like this is the way the family always should have been, Trinity kissed each boy back, and then went to get them fed. Breakfast sausages and pancakes were already made and keeping warm in the oven. Neither boy felt too comfortable being served, but Trinity insisted, reminding the boys that she very much wanted to, and that they would often have meals at the CIC, simply out of convenience.

While the first two boys ate, the family began talking about what had happened overnight. Ralphie and Richie were thrilled that Clan Short seemed to have saved many lives in the R.O.H., and according to the news radio reports, had also been of humanitarian and military assistance around the world. Robbie and Ronnie came downstairs, greeted their parents the same way and were served breakfast.

Once the Battle of Earth conversation was finished, the family then shared their plans for the day. The two adults would spend time at the F.Y.S. building and hoped to meet Mister Derek Tecumseh. They would then go to the base school and get familiar with those facilities. The boys wanted to invite their friends from the United States to Ewa Beach. They would spend the day together, getting to better know all the various friends, the kids already there, and the base facilities. Jason and Trinity reminded their boys of world events and advised them to check before making the invitations. The quadruplets realized that asking before inviting, on this particular day, would be a good idea. Amazingly, the quadruplets took their empty glasses, plates and utensils to the kitchen. Jason and Trinity were dumbfounded watching four boys, who were complete strangers a day earlier, work together at the sink and dishwasher as if they'd been doing it all their lives.

The four boys stepped outside and went to the pools. They weren't too surprised to learn that many Core Rimmers weren't on base, and those that were around probably wouldn't be seen much, as they were dealing with Battle Of Earth repercussions. The only Core Rimmer near the pool was Reyes, the newest of the lot. Since they hadn't really gotten to know Reyes the previous night, all four went over to say hello. Reyes made the rounds with the quadruplets, taking them over to the diving well to meet some of the teens, and then back to the pool to meet other tweens. The introductions finished with Lanna Seaver, the shared Rimmer 'mom' for all the kids, and her boys, Cesar, Felipe, Murakami and Shimizo.

The telepathic twins didn't wait very long before sending their first thoughts to the quadruplets, simply to test and learn if they were telepathic too. Only just beginning to discover that they could understand each others' thoughts with little more than a glance, Ralphie, Richie, Robbie and Ronnie were surprised to hear the twins' voices in their minds. Quickly checking with each other, the quadruplets softly droned, "Whoa."

Squinting suspiciously at her twins, but helplessly grinning, Lanna queried, "What are you boys doing?"

"Just checkin', momma," Cesar giggled.

Felipe nodded and laughed, "They heard us and we heard them. John's gonna love this!"

Looking up at the four older boys, Cesar prompted, "Go ahead and ask Reyes what you want to ask. It'll be kewl."

Out of the telepathic loop, Reyes checked with the quadruplets, "Ask me what?"

Blushing, Ronnie grinned, "I was hoping to invite some friends from Des Moines here for the day."

Nodding, Richie added, "And I'd like to invite a few friends from Vegas Desert Division here too."

Reyes asked, "Have you called your friends already?"

All four shook their heads. Ralphie offered, "Since things are kind o' weird just about everywhere, mom and dad thought it would be better if we asked first."

"Very kewl," Reyes smiled, and then tapped his sub-vocal, calling, "Alden, once the quadruplets have invited their friends, go ahead and allow transport through the shields."

Alden giggled, "Kerry says the double twins are on the same wavelength already. They weren't sure if our four were awake or not yet. We're set, Reyes."

Reyes told the quadruplets, "Call your friends. They're waiting on you."

Ralphie smiled, "Kewl," and led his brothers only a few steps away. Ronnie contacted Des Moines and Richie called Las Vegas.

Concurrently, while the quadruple R's were at the pool, and Prez and the Royals were being cared for, Sean and Troy were back in the Command Center. In the United States, President Bush did not make it safely out of Washington, D.C. He had been wounded and incapacitated when Air Force one was shot down. It was reported that thoracic vertebra T5 through T10 had been crushed. President Bush might survive his injuries, but he was paralyzed and required mechanical assistance to breathe. Many of the President's Cabinet and much of the Legislative Branches of government had been killed or injured during the Battle of Washington. That left one man, who had been out of the country at the time, in power – Secretary of State Colin Powell. He was in transit across the Pacific and would be landing at Hickam Air Force Base within minutes. Also needing a secure place to reside for at least the next day, Mister Powell would be staying at the Ewa Beach base. Sean and Troy were ordered by Seth in Orlando to transport to Hickam with their security, greet the President and transport back to Ewa Beach with Mister Powell and his entourage.

There was only one place to put Mister Powell. Troy checked with Alden to make certain that the third condominium building was empty. From investigating condo building one where he lived, all Troy knew was that the top three floors of every condominium contained single large apartments. He and Sean transported to the tenth floor of the third condo and got it set up, turning on the air conditioning, ordering beverages and food for the kitchen, flowers for tables in the dining room, living room and each of five bedrooms.

Sean's comm-badge chirped. "Air Force One has been cleared to land," Seth reported.

Heading for the door, Sean nodded and said, "We'll gather our security."

Troy added, "Let us know when his plane is taxiing and we'll be there, Seth."

"Thanks guys, will do," Seth replied. "Orlando out." Sean and Troy stepped into the waiting elevator.

Sean called for their security team, and requested Keith's and Prez's team also, only to make certain that Mister Powell's secret service felt the new President would be safe. On the way down the elevator, Sean wondered, "Do we bow to him like the King?"

Troy shook his head answering, "Definitely not. President Washington wouldn't allow that and no President ever has. We'll show our identification and greet him like anyone else, then we'll assure him and his secret service that Ewa Beach is the safest place to be for as long as he needs to be here."

Sean giggled, "This one's mostly yours, Lover."

"Thanks!" Troy laughed. He then joked, "When Sir Paul McCartney comes knockin', you'll have to greet him. I'll be on the ground, unconscious."

Sean smirked, "And when you wake up, you'll have him teach you every song he's ever written."

Troy hummed then admitted, "You're probably right." The elevator arrived at the ground floor. Heading down the hall for the exit doors, Troy called Alden and asked, "Connect me to all the Core Rimmers that are awake, please?"

"Go ahead, Troy," Alden soon said.

Troy reported, "Just a heads up guys. Not only are we billeting the King and our Royal Family, the defacto-President of the United States will be here soon. Secretary of State Colin Powell is about to land at Hickam. Sean and I are going to pick him up. We'll be back in a few minutes. In the mean time, maybe someone should let our chefs know. I don't know where he was at or how long it's been since he's eaten. Sean and I got the top floor of the third condo building ready for his party, and that included some basic food and drinks."

Keith quickly said, "Troy, get a housekeeper prepped too, bud."

Troy grinned, "Isn't it convenient, I just so happen to be on a first name basis with one."

Pausing from his breakfast in bed, Prez asked, "Did you gussy up the place, Troy?"

Arriving where four security gorillas and six teenage security were waiting, Troy answered, "We didn't have much time, Prez, but I did get Alden to deliver drinks, flowers and food."

"Good job, dudes," Prez cheered.

Sean called, "Have you got a fix on Mister Powell's plane, Alden?"

Alden replied, "It's taxiing now, Sean. There are U.S. Marines and Air Force security already stationed. I'll put you down near them."

Troy worried, "Please tell me that they're expecting Clan Representatives. I really don't feel like being shot today."

Seth interjected, "They're not only expecting Clan, they're specifically expecting you and Sean. Expect the usual security pat down though, guys. With all the crazy stuff going on in the world, they're probably in a bad mood."

The security team encircled the two Clan leaders. Sean grinned, "I'm the only one allowed to pat down Troy."

Hanging his head, Troy blushed and giggled, "Twelve to transport, Alden."

Alden transported Sean, Troy and their security. They arrived at Hickam Air Force Base, standing about three meters before a group of heavily armed Marines. The jet carrying Mister Powell was some ten meters behind them. In an instant, several Marines were pointing rifles at The Clan team, and of course, the UNIT security pointed their weapons at the Marines. After a few silent and tense seconds, the Marine Captain in command screamed, "Drop your weapons now!"

In the hope of diffusing the situation, Troy calmly said, "That will not happen, Captain. We are Clan Short Pacific Rim Division representatives, ordered here to escort Mister Powell to safety."

The captain loudly grumbled, "I was told of no such plan! Now drop your..."

"I was told!" another man's voice shouted. Sean and Troy turned to see a man coming down the steps of the air-stairs. Approaching the two groups, he ordered, "Drop your weapons immediately, Lieutenant."

The Marine reminded, "Sir, I am a Captain."

The other man nodded then said, "And Mister Powell was a four-star general in the United States Army. Did it not occur to you that anyone simply appearing from nowhere might be associated with Starfleet? No, of course not. The longer you wait, the longer Mister Powell waits and the more disturbed he becomes. Drop your weapons now or find out who Mister Powell knows and how fast you will become a Lieutenant."

Saying "Aye-aye, Sir!" the captain shouldered his weapon and his team followed suit. Sean's and Troy's security team then did the same.

The man then politely called, "Misters Faris and Moorhead, I assume?"

Stepping towards the man, Troy identified himself and then Sean did.

"My name is Gordon Rice, head of Mister Powell's security. May I see your Clan Short and Starfleet identification cards?"

Almost simultaneously, Sean and Troy apologized and fished out their I.D. cards. With all the excitement and with their nerves still settling down, they simply forgot. Troy offered, "I even asked if we were expected so we wouldn't get this kind of reception."

After reviewing the Clan and Starfleet cards for both boys, Mister Rice returned them to Sean and Troy, then waved them forward to follow. He then softly said, "Marines are a different breed. We had only just got the stairs and the hatch opened when you arrived." Shaking his head and sighing, Mister Rice confirmed, "Your base has Starfleet shielding?"

"Yes, Sir," Troy answered.

Sean added, "And it's active; has been since Monday night."

Leading the way up the air-steps, Mister Rice asked, "What sort of accommodations are available?"

Climbing the stairs, Troy replied, "We have the top floor of a ten story unoccupied condominium prepared."

"How many bedrooms?" Mister Rice wondered.

Sean answered, "Five."

Mister Rice grunted then asked, "Could additional condominiums be made available? We have fifteen secret service and four reporters in addition to Mister Powell and myself."

Troy nodded, "We'll make all three top level condos available. They're all five bedroom apartments. We'll make lower level single and two bedroom apartments available as needed."

Privately to Sean and Troy, Alden assured, "I'm on it, guys. The seventh, eighth and ninth floor condos will have beverages and food by the time you return."

Noticing the security teams following them up the air-stairs, Sean turned and wondered, "Leo, what're you doin'?"

"Keeping an eye on you," Leo replied. "After a welcome like that, it's more imperative now than ever."

Gary added, "We would've done so anyway."

Mister Rice turned at the top of the stairs and grinned at the gorillas. He helplessly chuckled at the four gorillas, "I had heard things... We have the same objectives, the safety of our charges. My men will not interfere with your job as long as you do not interfere with ours." Unhappy about their greeting by the Marines, Leo and Gary mutely nodded.

Inside the jet, Troy could not believe his eyes. There was a first class seating section forward, but behind that separating wall were couches, desks and all the comforts of home. If this was the Secretary Of State's plane, Troy could only wonder what the real Air Force One had on-board. Confidently approaching the front of the plane was Colin Powell. Suddenly, Troy felt butterflies flapping in his gut and was uncertain how to even address the man. Stopping and coming to attention in a very un-military fashion, Troy waited until he was spoken to. Seeing his boyfriend come to attention, Sean did as well.

"Gentlemen," Colin Powell pleasantly said as he came nearer. "My apologies for the Marines. We had only just landed, got the air-stairs and opened the hatch when you appeared. My intention was to forewarn them." He then turned to Mister Rice and asked, "You put the fear of God into them?"

Mister Rice nodded and chuckled, "Yes, Sir; God and demotion. A simple reminder of your previous rank and contacts was sufficient."

Colin Powell nodded and smiled, "Not a bad idea. A six-month tour of duty in Antarctica, during winter, sounds appropriate." Returning his attention to Troy and Sean, Mister Powell said, "I assume we'll be transporting onto your base?"

Troy nodded, "Yes, Mister President. I thought..."

"God!" Colin Powell loudly interrupted. He bitterly complained, "Three months until January and Inauguration Day? I might go insane before then." He then sighed, "Please don't call me Mister President. I don't want the job. The sooner I get relieved of this mess, the happier I'll be. Call me Mister Powell, Uncle Colin, General Powell, or call me Mudd for Christ's sake, but don't call me Mister President."

Troy grinned at the man and Sean quickly covered his mouth, struggling to hold in his laughter.

Regaining some composure, Mister Powell asked, "Which of you is Sean Moorhead and which is Troy Faris?"

Mister Rice then introduced both boys and Colin Powell shook their hands. "Can we transport from here?" Mister Rice asked.

Tapping his sub-vocal, Troy asked, "Alden, can you transport us from within the plane?"

"No, I can't, Troy," Alden replied over the comm-badges. "Without a camera, you or Sean would have to be in physical contact with Mister Powell, like the rescues last night. There's an airport security camera pointed at the air-stairs. I can transport from the top step there to Ewa Beach."

Troy and Sean turned to Mister Rice. Security teams discussed how they would proceed exiting the aircraft so that Sean, Troy and Colin Powell were never left open to possible sniper fire. Surrounded by their security, Sean and Troy left first and returned to the tenth floor condo. Soon a team of five secret service agents arrived, one of whom looked somewhat like Colin Powell, but was obviously not the same man. They spread out, searching the condo, noting the video and audio surveillance systems. Then Colin Powell, Mister Rice and three additional secret service agents arrived.

As soon as the last groups arrived, Troy and Sean began showing everyone around. The condo had a very open floor plan. From the elevator, there was a lobby to double entryway doors and into a spacious foyer. To one side of the foyer was the kitchen and a large dining room table with seating for twelve. Opposite the kitchen and dining room was the living room area with three sofas and additional chairs. There were also five bedrooms, two of which were on the elevator side and very large. At the opposite end of the condo, beyond the kitchen, dining room and living room areas were the other three slightly smaller bedrooms. Every bedroom had sliding glass doors to the patio and there were two other pairs of sliding glass doors, one at the dining room and another at the living room side. Lastly, were the four bathrooms. From this condo, five floors higher than the Faris apartment, the views out the windows were even more breathtaking. Troy and Sean could easily see the similarity with the two bedroom, two bath condo they were familiar with.

Troy then tapped his sub-vocal and asked Alden to connect him to the base P.A. Barely controlling himself, Troy called, "Attention. Would Judy Faris please report to condominium 'C', tenth floor, on the double? Judy Faris to condo 'C', tenth floor."

Hysterical, Sean collapsed onto a sofa and roared, "On the double?" Outside, kids scattered around the base that recognized Troy's voice calling his mother began laughing and giggling.

At Sean's reaction, Troy giggled, "I can't wait until she gets here!"

Colin Powell smiled at Troy, asking, "That's your mother, I assume?"

Troy nodded, "Yes, Sir. She's a base housekeeper and I'm assigning her here." Breaking into a fit of laughter, Troy admitted, "It never occurred to me before that I could assign her a job." Grabbing his belly, Sean howled laughing and rolled off the sofa onto the floor.

Meanwhile, Mister Rice had begun assigning secret service to cover the building. Two would be at the first floor entrance; two would be out in the lobby between the elevator and the condo doors; four would be assigned to the balcony to cover the outdoors flights of stairs.

Shaking his head and grinning, Colin Powell warned Troy, "You're going to get a talking to, young man."

Wide-eyed and obviously looking forward to it, Troy nodded. Crawling back onto the sofa, Sean cackled, "And the first spanking since he was five!"

Finished loading washing machines with bed sheets at the first dormitory, Judy Faris began the walk to the condominium, softly rambling the entire time. "My son, the Clan Short leader. Wise-ass! I wonder what he enjoyed more, calling me over the P.A., calling me by my full name, or simply requesting that I hurry? Some one is getting an extended time-out! Oh yes, even better, an extended time-out from Sean!" She began giggling, then wondered why Troy had called her to the empty condominium in the first place. The answer to that question came as she rounded the path from the second condo to the third, when she noticed two men in dark suits on either side of the entry doors.

One of the men stopped Judy and asked her name, and then her reason for being there. He then spoke into a small device on his wrist. The gentleman paused briefly, obviously hearing a reply in his electronic ear-piece. A few moments later, she was allowed to enter the building. She got in the elevator. Judy was aware of the world events, but had no idea who her son was with.

Troy was working with Alden to get adequate communications set up in the condo for a head of state. Desks, computers, voice and video conferencing abilities were arranged in the foyer. During this time, Troy mentioned that the Royal Family of the R.O.H. were also on base. Sean began taking the reporters to the seventh floor's two-bedroom apartments. Mister Powell asked to meet with King Aalona. Derrick and Mike were near The King and Queen in the dining room when Troy called over his comm-badge for King Aalona. While Mister Powell waited for the King's arrival, he contacted NORAD and the State Department to let them know of his whereabouts, and ensure them he was safe. A Federal judge would be dispatched to Oahu to have Mister Powell take the Presidential Oath of Office. That meant mobile television news teams would be coming too. At the Ewa Beach main gate, the last two Secret Service agents arrived in a van with all the luggage. Once clearance was received from Troy, the van was instructed to park at the base parking garage. Derrick would meet them to get the men and luggage transported to the condominium.

At the tenth floor lobby, Judy was again met by two men in dark suits. One opened the door for her and announced her arrival as she entered the apartment. Smiling like a Cheshire cat, Troy turned and waved at his mother. "Hi mom," Troy began. "I'd like to introduce you to Mister Colin Powell and Mister Gordon Rice, the head of Mister Powell's security." Judy began blinking fast as the two men turned and approached her. She immediately recognized Colin Powell.

He reached out his hand, saying, "Good day, Mrs. Faris." Judy shook the famous gentleman's hand, greeted him and asked that she be addressed by her first name. She then shook hands with Mister Rice and asked the same of him.

Seeing an opportunity to explain the situation to his mother, Troy quickly jumped in. "Mom, for the time Mister Powell and his group are here, I'd like you to coordinate housekeeping and anything like that they might need."

Judy smirked at her son. She softly warned, "You're enjoying this too much."

Troy blushed and giggled, "Just doin' a job that was assigned, really!"

Returning from his mission at the seventh floor, Sean found himself in the elevator with Mike and King Aalona. None were stopped at the tenth floor. Mike opened the door and announced the King's presence. Everyone stopped what they were doing, including Colin Powell. King Aalona and Colin Powell greeted each other. While Heads of State met and began chatting, Judy went to the kitchen to ensure there was sufficient food and beverages, then began checking the bathrooms and bedrooms.

Troy, Mike and Sean stepped aside for a private conversation. Troy told Mike that the top four floors of the condo were occupied with Colin Powell's party. He then explained that a U.S. Federal Judge and television news crews would be arriving to swear in Colin Powell as President. The three boys began estimating the numbers and quickly assumed that the entire condo would be filled by that evening. Depending upon the actual numbers, some news crews might have to stay off-base. Mike contacted the Command Center to let UNIT security know to expect more guests. Security needed to know who would be arriving by name, so no one unexpected would be allowed on base. Troy passed the requirements to Mister Rice. Since Nathan, Kaleo and Tory were asleep after covering all night, Mike tapped his comm-badge and informed Clan Headquarters what was going on locally. Troy went to his mom and told her the situation. Initially, Troy thought his mother would be sufficient, but it was now obvious additional housekeepers would be required. Judy agreed and instructed her son to contact Madeline Hupp to allocate housekeeping resources for the V.I.P.'s.

Half-past ten that morning, while Judy, Troy and Sean were busy in the Executive condo, Prez, Keith and their sons emerged from the townhouse. By this time, kids were scattered around enjoying themselves by the pool, diving well, indoor rec center and playground. Bruce, Dewi and all the Hundser kids were first to run to Keith and Prez, which started a tsunami of kids to gather around. The first order of business was for Prez to assure everyone that he was fine. Prez removed his robe and turned in place, saying that only his tush and feet hurt, like a really bad sunburn. It actually was a bit worse than that, but the kids didn't need to know it, so he said only what was necessary.

The kids surrounding Prez and Keith dwindled and returned to what they had been doing. The quadruple 'R's' stepped forward with six additional kids, two sets of twins and two other boys. Putting his robe on again, Prez smiled, "How're you guys doing?"

Helplessly giggling at quadruplet and double-twin speak he was hearing in his mind, regarding the cute teen redhead director with burned buns, Ralphie replied, "We're kewl, Prez. We only wanted to introduce some of our friends."

Taking over and bringing Adam along, Ronnie reminded, "The same time I was rescued, my foster bro, Adam, was rescued too. You can tell that Mark's his twin, and Jeff and Brian are their brothers and twins too." Prez extended his right hand to knock knuckles with each of the four brothers, and Keith did the same.

When that was complete, Richie moved forward to introduce "Prez, this cutie next to me is my foster brother Carrol. We've been brothers for about seven years. A few days ago, Terrence was brought home to live with us. When Pat started his crap with Terrence, me and Carrol got him out of there, which got us to the Desert Division Clan. Guys, this is the Pacific Rim Director, Prez, Preston O'Brian, and his partner Keith Hundser." So that Terrence would understand, Richie explained, "Prez and Keith are like Brent and Lance are at home."

"Kewl," Terrence warmly smiled. Keith greeted Carrol and shook hands with him.

Unable to bend comfortably, Prez knelt down to shake hands with Terrence, saying, "You've got two very kewl big brothers, huh?"

"The best," Terrence enthusiastically replied. "They's like brothers and real dads at the same time."

"I'll bet they are," Prez chuckled. "You be sure to remind them how nice they are by being just as nice too, don't ya?"

"All'a time," Terrence blushed and giggled.

Standing again, Prez extended a hand to Carrol, smiling, "Awesome job, dude."

Shaking Prez's hand while Keith said hello to Terrence, Carrol shrugged, "It was Richie that made me realize it couldn't wait."

Nodding, Prez smiled, "Good job, all around, dudes." He then asked, "Richie has given you the tour?"

"Not yet, Prez," Richie giggled, because Prez's robe had reopened. Pointing down at Prez's crotch, Richie giggled, "They just got here, seconds before you and Keith showed up."

Rolling his eyes, Prez closed his robe and tied the belt again, smirking, "That's twice this robe has opened itself in five minutes. This is going to be an interesting day." All ten kids nodded and helplessly giggled. Prez sighed, "I've got some other folks to meet, but you dudes have a good time while you're here, kewl?"

The quadruplets, double-twins, Carrol and Terrence chorused, "Kewl. See ya later."

Next on the to-do list was to greet Prince Kaimi and Queen Adamina. Once those tasks were completed, Prez decided to at least say hello to the V.I.P.s now residing in the third condominium. Prez contacted Troy, who in turn warned Mister Rice that the Division Director was on his way, inappropriately dressed in a white robe, due to burns suffered during the prior night.

About the same time, Sean disappeared and reappeared with Derrick, the secret service agents and all the luggage, at the tenth floor condominium. Keith and Prez arrived at what they were calling "The Executive condominium". The secret service agents and journalists were gathering their luggage and returning to their temporary residences.

After brief introductions, Uncle Colin got busy with affairs of state. Prez and Keith approached Mister Rice. "I understand the length of your stay with us will be at least a day," Prez began. When Mister Rice responded affirmatively, Prez asked, "Is there anything I can get for you?"

Keith added, "TV and radio isn't much. We could get just about anything you like."

Mister Rice hummed then said, "Up here, we probably won't need much. What I'm thinking is some form of entertainment. Would it be asking too much for a dart board in the two condos downstairs were my men are staying?"

Prez smiled then called, "Alden, for the time Uncle Colin's party is here, please get us regulation dart boards and pool tables with cues and chalk for the eighth and ninth floor condos."

Alden giggled, "Comin' right up, Prez."

Unaccustomed to this, Mister Rice asked, "You got us pool tables too?"

Prez nodded, "If it's not there already, it will be soon."

Keith smiled, "Anything that will make your stay more comfortable, Sir."

Into Prez's sub-vocal, Alden interjected, "It's all there now, boss."

Prez told Mister Rice, "Your dart boards and pool tables have been delivered."

"Amazing," Mister Rice chuckled. He then turned away suddenly.

Prez and Keith were both wondering if something was wrong elsewhere in the condo that got the man's attention. Finding a probable cause, Keith giggled, "Your robe opened, T'hy'la."

"Oh!" Prez gushed, and then quickly closed the robe and retied the belt. "Don't worry, Mister Rice. Here in Hawaii, we aren't as concerned about nudity. And I can't really tie this belt tightly without irritating the burn near my waist."

When the man turned and faced them again, Keith added, "Over at our pools, anywhere from half to two-thirds of the kids are naked at any given moment. It's truly no problem at all."

Prez reminded, "The kids here all have histories that make most of us shudder. Our first group were sexually abused. For the first time in their lives, they can swim and play naked without some perverted adult wanting something sexual from them. Others had been emotionally or physically abused, while others had been street prostitutes. Finally, we have kids from the orphanages in California and more street kids from a Los Angeles gang."

Keith nodded, "They're learning to let their guard down, at least a little bit. When they're hungry or thirsty, they're free to go to our CIC's dining room and get whatever they want. Actually, the dining room is the only place we've told our kids that they have to have clothes on. Board shorts, T-shirts and sandals are required in the kitchen and dining room. It's as much for health and sanitation as it is common decency. They didn't know that a day, two days or a week ago, but they do now."

Mister Rice wondered, "How do you manage? I mean, you're still kids yourselves."

Prez and Keith grinned at each other. Prez explained, "First and foremost, our parents are the best. We weren't emotionally and physically abused like many of our rescued kids. We got time-outs and swats on the backside when necessary, but rarely. Push the disapproval to screaming and yelling, or time-outs and swats on the butt, and any kid knows he's gone too far. Parents that do take it further have as much of a problem, if not more so, than the kid. A parent's eyes can express most of what any kid needs, from acceptance and pride to displeasure."

"We also have doctors and a child psychologist on base," Keith offered. "Those that need special care, get it. As for our command team, we've learned all we need to know to perform most duties from Clan teachers. The rest, like greeting important people, is common sense stuff. We help each other whenever needed. Troy and Sean greeted you at Hickam because we couldn't. Kaleo and Tory, whom you haven't yet met, stayed awake last night in our Command Center, dealing with whatever was necessary. When they wake up and get the chance, we'll introduce you to them."

Prez smiled, "We're especially proud of Kaleo, Tory and Sean. Last Friday, they were among the first rescued. Kaleo was the first to join our leadership team, last Saturday. Tory, Troy and Sean joined Wednesday."

Mister Rice nodded, "I'll share this with Mister Powell. I would have never guessed that Sean was recently rescued. Mister Powell will be just as impressed as I am, guaranteed. We'd like to meet your parents at their earliest convenience."

Keith nodded and smiled, "We'll make sure they know. Most of 'em are at work at the Federation Youth Services building, which is our next stop." Mister Rice nodded then began chuckling and turned away again. Keith laughed, "Prez!"

Looking down at himself, Prez grumbled, "Damn it!" then adjusted his robe again.

Shaking his head, Keith grinned, "Mister Rice, if you need anything, just call for Alden to contact one of us," and then walked Prez toward the door. Keith softly giggled, "And you wanna jam for the kids this afternoon? When your robe slips open in the middle of a song, what then?"

Prez shrugged and giggled, "Dance? You always say my bits swing real nice."

Once they were alone in the descending elevator, Keith teased, "Show off."

"You love it too."

"There's no doubt about it," Keith chuckled, and then pushed Prez into the corner of the elevator for a few moments of passionate kissing. The elevator stopped at the ground floor, the bell rang and the doors opened.

Separating and beginning to walk out of the elevator, Prez double checked his robe was closed. Prez playfully complained, "You got me hard, T'hy'la." Grinning, Keith put on his innocent act. Keith was hard too, but wearing board shorts and boxers made it far less noticeable than Prez. Before they exited the condo, Prez stopped short, calling, "Alden, my feet hurt. Transport me and Keith to our townhouse bedroom."

Alden giggled, "A likely story," then executed the order.

Back at the pools, Reyes had just been introduced to Adam, Mark, Brian, Jeff and Garrett from the Des Moines Division. Alien, Mini and Colin had decided to join the five newbies, making up poor excuses about how they would need security from The Rimmers. Richie introduced his two brothers, Carrol and Terrence, from the Vegas Desert Division. The fourteen boys were still near Reyes when his comm-badge chirped. Reyes tapped his comm-badge and greeted, "Hi, this is Reyes."

"Hey little brother," Danny Page's voice called, "are you very busy?"

"Not too busy, compared to the rest of the Core Rimmers," Reyes replied, and then wondered, "What's up, Danny?"

"We got a call a little while ago," Danny began. "There was an accident in Breckenridge, Colorado this morning. Debris from a Romulan starship, of some sort or another, burned through the atmosphere, landed on a house and killed the parents of three boys. We were called because two of the three are androids that Marc's been keeping tabs on. We need you to go pick them up, bro."

Reyes gasped then squealed "Me? Why me?"

"You said you weren't busy," Danny sniggered.

In the background, Marc hollered, "You've got two choices, Reyes. Either you go to Colorado or you get your skinny brown ass here, suit up and grab a scalpel."

The fourteen boys surrounding Reyes broke into giggles. Reyes smirked, "You're both nuts! I don't have experience with rescues or surgery."

"Neither did the rest of us," Marc shouted. "Welcome to the club!"

Danny giggled, "You didn't have experience with databases either, until last night."

Marc yelled, "Pick your poison, Reyes; rescue or surgery. We can use help either way. Tag! You're it!"

"You forgot the third option. BOTH!" Kerry added helpfully over their comm-badges.

"Hey Kerry, remember that we've already started a blackmail file on you in our head!" Mini giggled evilly.

"It's gonna be a small file then!" Kerry giggled. "No matter which head you're using!"

"Kerry, have you been picking on your Division again?" Danny asked semi-seriously.

"Only a little bit, Grandpa Danny!" Kerry said sweetly.

"Well pick it up then; you're giving the family a bad name!" Danny giggled.

"Okay, Grandpa!" Kerry said, his voice conveying the evil plots that were already forming.

The boys around Reyes cracked up and turned away. Reyes smirked, "Alden, take care of your little brother. Danny, I'll choose the lesser of two evils, the rescue. Alden knows where I'm going?"

Alden giggled, "I do now, Reyes. As for taking care of Kerry, it's a lost cause."

Reyes said, "I'll head to Colorado, Danny. These fourteen hysterical jokers around me are coming with me. Get them comm-badges, Alden. When I'm done with this, I'll call for Paul and Ryan and sedation, not necessarily in that order."

Danny and Marc chorused, "Good luck, bro. Danny out."

"Why not drag them into the fun?" Adam giggled. "You're outnumbered by quads anyways!"

"Who needs sedation?" Mark added. "Just grab a wave!"

Alden giggled, "There are four comm-badges on the table beside you for the quadruple 'R's. All the Des Moines and Vegas guys have them already."

Reyes stood, picked up the first comm-badge and handed it to Ralphie. "Reyes," Ralphie sniggered, "we're even less experienced than you are. We just got here yesterday."

Reyes smiled, "Misery loves company," and passed the next comm-badges to Richie, Ronnie and Robbie.

Richie passed his comm-badge back to Reyes saying, "I've got one already."

"You're not wearing it," Reyes noticed.

Richie sniggered, "I actually didn't think I'd need it, so I left it at the townhouse."

Handing the comm-badge back to Richie, Reyes prompted, "Keep it. We'll sort it out after this little trip." He then tapped his sub-vocal, calling, "We're ready when you are, Alden."

Alden giggled then reminded, "I'm ready, but you guys aren't. The temperature here is eighty-one degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature in Breckenridge is thirty-eight degrees Fahrenheit. Stand by." A moment later, all fifteen boys were standing there naked. Garrett and Ronnie quickly peeked at each other, causing all of them to laugh. A second later, all were wearing sneakers, socks, jeans, long-sleeve shirts and jackets.

Adam scowled, "We just got changed out of winter clothes to come here, now we're bundled up again."

"Hey, it's better than seeing all you cuties going turtle!" Brian giggled.

"Our brother, the perv!" Mark, Adam, and Jeff chorused proudly.

Ralphie giggled, "Attention Starfleet Command, we have a problem."

"Problem acknowledged," Robbie sniggered, "state the nature of the problem?"

"Garrett noticed that all four brothers' dickies look exactly the same!" Ralphie cackled.

Blushing bright red, Garrett loudly laughed, "Did not!"

"Yeah, and you're not drooling either, bro!" Adam giggled. "Wipe your chin, you're givin' us a bad rep!"

"No drooling allowed in freezing temperatures," Richie sniggered.

Robbie chuckled, "It'll only make icicles on your chin."

Reyes laughed, "Alden, get us out of here!" A moment later, all fifteen were standing in front of a fire station in the mountain town of Breckenridge, Colorado.

Zipping up his jacket, Ralphie shivered, "It's cold! I'd forgotten what it meant to be so cold."

Also unaccustomed to this, Richie followed suit, zipped up and stuffed his hands in his jacket pockets. Carrol and Terrence not only zipped up, but also pulled the hoods up over their heads. Richie checked with Ralphie, "Turtle status?"

Ralphie nodded and grinned, "Itty-bitty turtle, hiding up by my stomach."

Leading the way into the fire station, Reyes prompted, "Let's meet our new guys and get back to Ewa Beach quickly."

"You guys are such wimps!" Ronnie and Adam chorused as they unzipped their jackets.

"Bite me!" Mark, Jeff and Brian exclaimed as they tried to curl up into their jackets.

Holding the door to let everyone step inside, Ronnie giggled, "Can't bite what's currently all turtled up."

Pausing inside the doors, Reyes grinned, "Try to be nice now, dudes. Let's make believe we don't know anything about hybrid gorillas, ferrets, G-Cats..."

"Badgers, N-gens, wolverines," Alien smiled.

"Don't forget talking to raccoons and other small creatures!" Adam sniggered. "So don't mention Johnny's security detail!"

"Right," Reyes chuckled, "let's wait until we get them home to completely corrupt them." He turned and saw a fireman approaching. Reyes politely said, "Good afternoon, Sir. We're from Clan Short, here to pick up the three boys orphaned this morning."

"You guys got here pretty fast, considering everything that you're doing," the man said as he held out his hand. "I'm Captain George Waters."

Reaching out to shake hands with Captain Waters, Reyes introduced himself and all fourteen of his companions. Once finished, Reyes asked, "Where are the boys, Captain?"

"They just ate and they're helping the guys clean up," George replied. "We're trying to keep their minds occupied."

Reyes nodded and softly said, "We heard the parents were killed this morning, by falling debris, but haven't been told much else. All I know is that one boy is human and the other two are androids, which is why they sent me to lead this mission."

George tilted his head. "That explains why the two boys are trying to help the third one so much. We lost two families that were very active in the community today. I hope that you guys are able to help them with their loss."

Reyes gasped, "Two sets of adults?"

Having lost his own parents and his uncle, Ralphie sighed, "Please tell us more, so we can help them a little better."

"Chauncey and Fred are from one family," George responded, "and the little one, Brandon, is from another. The fathers of both families were brothers. The pair of families were pillars of the community, always active in helping others. From what we can tell, a piece of debris from something that was shot down took out the west wing of their house, where the parents were at the dining table, while the boys and one of their friends were being home-schooled by a hired tutor in the east wing."

Reyes prompted, "Please lead the way, Captain." Captain Waters led the group back and into a combined kitchen and dining room off the main garage area. Without a word of instruction, the quadruplets and the double sets of twins headed for the three boys.

Seeing quadruple and double-double vision, all three recently orphaned boys came to an abrupt halt; all had dishtowels, one had a pot, one had silverware and the other had a glass. The pot and silverware fell to the floor with loud clangs. The glass slipped from the third boy's hand and he tried to catch it, juggling it several times before finally capturing the wet, slippery glass. Reyes watched that boy's eyes and realized that one was definitely an android, apparently twelve or thirteen years old.

Reyes helplessly chuckled, "Nice catch, dude!" Ronnie began introductions for his brothers, then Mark continued introducing his brothers and Garrett. Richie introduced Carrol and Terrence. Lastly, Reyes introduced himself, Alien, Mini and Colin. The android boy introduced himself as Fred Eckhart, his brother Chauncey and his younger cousin as Brandon Phillips.

"Why are you guys all here?" Brandon wondered.

"Because you guys automatically fall under Clan protection," Colin replied seriously.

"How?" Fred asked.

"Orphaned androids are automatically covered by the A.I. Division," Colin answered.

"And kids who lose their families are automatically covered in Colorado, by request of the head of Colorado C.P.S., as of about two hours ago," Mini added.

Prepared to explain more, Reyes was preempted by Ralphie saying, "Our job is to help you every way we can, give you guys a warm place to sleep, plenty of food, the best of education and recreation, and more friends than you can count."

"It's the same at Vegas and all our divisions," Richie smiled.

"Yeah, you should see the place we got in Des Moines." Mark added. "The Clan runs the entire neighborhood, and everyone looks out for everyone else."

Noticing the curious expressions on both androids' faces, Colin stated "I'll give you guys two names – the two people who won't let you guys or anyone you call family be left behind: Marc Furst and Danny Page."

Gasping, Fred's eyes widened, and then he muttered, "Danny Page? He's real? I thought he was a legend."

"Alive and well in South Carolina," Reyes smiled. "I met Danny, Marc and a bunch of other kewl brothers there on Tuesday. Once you guys are settled, we'll get you there for a visit too, to get you a checkup, Fred. You too, Brandon. One word of warning, if Danny asks you to get undressed, ask him why first." At the memory, Reyes grinned widely.

Fred nodded and giggled, "I get the feeling you didn't heed that warning."

Reyes nodded and smirked, "He's awesome in lots of ways, but a bit of a perv. Stand still and he'll tickle you."

Chauncey stepped forward, cautiously asking, "We really don't have to leave anyone behind?"

"Course not, dude," Reyes assured.

Checking around the large group and seeing only smiles and nodding heads, Chauncey then knelt down and called, "Com'ere, Rikko." From a blanket in the corner of the room, a Siberian Husky puppy trotted over. Chauncey looked up and smiled, "He was my birthday present last month," then broke down weeping, "The best birthday... and the best birthday present... was the last... with..." Before Chauncey could finish, Fred and Brandon were on their knees consoling him. Soon, the entire group were on the floor too, each sharing Chauncey's pain in his own way.

Reyes assured, "Rikko's your companion, Chauncey. He'll go wherever you do, from now on." Standing and stepping back, Reyes made soft whimpering sounds, then barked. Rikko scrambled out of the pile he was surrounded by and bounced around at Reyes' legs, playfully barking and growling, quite obviously pleased to know Chauncey would be cared for and that he wouldn't be left behind.

Wiping his eyes, Chauncey giggled, "How'd you do that? Rikko's been freaked out all day. First the crash, and the fire, and then all the firemen, and then coming here, to a strange place with all these strange people, he's been just as bad as me, Fred and Brandon."

Reyes shrugged and grinned, "He knew you were sad and worried about him. You may not believe it, but soon Rikko will have so many new friends that will understand him as much as you." Ralphie giggled at the understatement, which started all the other Clan boys laughing. "Rikko's ready to go," Reyes smiled, and then asked, "How about you three guys; are you ready to see your new home?"

From behind Reyes, Captain Waters said, "They each have two suitcases and a gym bag of clothes and other personal belongings." Waving the three boys forward, Captain Waters led them to the locker room to get their things. Rikko followed the boys. Certain they would need an extra pair of hands for the luggage, Mini followed Rikko.

Once alone, Robbie grinned, "The next time we go some place cold, I'd like a hat too." Before he could say another word, Robbie's other three brothers were rubbing his bald head. Trying to duck away, but failing to get very far as more hands reached for his head, Robbie giggled, "We don't have to go back outside, do we?"

Alien giggled, "Nope, we're kewl. Alden's got us easy, because of our comm-badges. We'll just surround them, have Alden grab three extra, the puppy and the luggage."

Pulling along two of the large suitcases, Captain Waters led the group back to the kitchen and dining room, praising the boys' parents and hoping that they would see each other again soon.

Reyes waited for the boys to enter the room to hear him say, "All three will be able to visit, Sir. They'll have the very best of everything, from education to entertainment." Focusing on Brandon, Chauncey and Fred, Reyes told them, "This isn't goodbye, dudes. It's more like, we'll see you again later."

The quadruplets and double twins went to the three newbies and offered to help with their luggage. In moments, Brandon, Chauncey and Fred had only gym bags and Rikko. Each boy hugged Captain Waters and thanked him, then they stepped back into the group. Reyes shook hands with Captain Waters and reminded, "Anytime you need to contact these guys for anything, just contact Family Clan Short Pacific Rim Division, toll-free. We'll get you hooked up."

Colin nodded and added, "That reminds me, guys; I heard that you were with a friend being schooled. What do you say we go visit your friend before we leave, so you guys can exchange contact info?"

Ralphie kept mum, but heard Richie in his mind saying, 'I hope it's a very short trip and we get inside a warm place quickly.'

Ralphie sputtered briefly, then silently replied, 'Short, like my shrunken one inch dickie, and warm like the spot between my stomach and my spline, where my dickie is hiding!'

Rolling his eyes, Ronnie smirked, 'You ain't been cold until you've been shivering in long-johns, jeans, a thermal T-shirt, a sweatshirt and a parka, like in Michigan, when the lake effect snows are blowin' and it's ten below zero during the day.'

'You guys are both pervs!' Adam giggled mentally. 'What're ya gonna do if we go someplace cold?'

'Stay home!' Richie and Ralphie telepathically shouted. Since arriving, Carrol had noticed how Richie seemed to fit in perfectly with his brothers. Now Terrence was noticing it too.

'Staying home means no making snow tunnels!' Adam added, ignoring Mark's brotherly glare.

Shaking his head, Robbie zipped up his coat and sent, 'The four of you are so outta control, you better zip up, cos we're leaving any moment.'

"Hey Kerry, our brothers think it's cold here!" Adam announced.

"I can fix that... just a second!" Kerry giggled. Alden was heard snickering as well. About ten seconds later, the entire group found themselves in front of a roaring fireplace, with a ten-year-old boy and his parents pointing hair dryers at them set to high heat.

Brandon, Chauncey and Fred cracked up and hurried to their friend, partially to get away from the blasts of heat, but mostly just to greet him and his parents. Giggling, Adam, Mark, Brian, Jeff, Garrett, Robbie and Ronnie surrounded Ralphie and Richie, tickle-torturing them for getting the whole group into this A.I.-plotted situation. Once the hair dryers were turned off and the tickle-torture was completed, Fred introduced their friend, Neil Bailes, and his parents, Hugh and Tanya Bailes.

While the group was occupied with introductions, Reyes asked Colin, "How can we deal with Neil contacting Brandon, Chauncey and Fred?"

Colin answered, "Simple, we make Neil a Clan liaison on detached duty and give him a comm-badge." Holding his hand out, palm up, Colin asked Kerry for Neil's comm-badge. The small device appeared, and when introduced, Colin stepped forward and pinned the comm-badge onto Neil's shirt, explaining that he could now contact any of his three friends just by tapping and calling their name. By the time Colin was done and Reyes' name was called for introductions, Reyes had three comm-badges for Brandon, Chauncey and Fred. The three communications devices were passed out and the four boys scattered to various areas of the house to try them out.

The four friends returned to the living room. Colin told Neil, "You can use the comm-badge for more than contacting your friends. Being a Clan Liaison, you could help kids in trouble too, ya know? If you know of or see a kid being abused, don't ever put yourself at risk. Call me or Reyes for help, okay? We'll put a team together to help and be there with you in no time. We'll sort out the details, and if necessary, deal with the extraction."

Neil giggled and sang, "Sweet!" He then proudly called, "Mom, dad, I'm Clan too!"

Tanya smiled, "That's wonderful, Neil."

Hugh gently warned, "Be sure to use it responsibly, and heed Colin's instructions."

Tanya added, "Look at how many Clan arrived just to pick up three."

"That was just luck and circumstances," Reyes grinned at the two adults. "When the call came in, I was being teased and laughed at, so they all earned the trip."

Before Reyes finished speaking, his comm-badge chirped and Drew called, "Reyes?"

Tapping his comm-badge and stepping back from the group, Reyes replied, "Here, Drew. What's up?"

Drew asked, "What're you doin', bro?"

"I'm wrapping up my first rescue operation," Reyes answered.

Drew chuckled, "Good. I was afraid of dumping a task on you that you hadn't done before. I've got three more here that I'd like you to pick up and bring home."

Colin interjected, "I'll bring this bunch back to Ewa Beach, bro. We'll meet you there."

Reyes smiled, "Kewl. I'll be right there, Drew."

"Thanks, Reyes," Drew responded, "I'll see you soon. Drew out."

Returning his attention to Neil, Hugh and Tanya, Reyes sighed, "It was nice meeting you, but duty calls and I've got to be going."

Offering his hand to Reyes, Hugh smiled, "Thanks so much for coming to get the boys. When Neil told us what had happened, we were concerned. Now we know they'll be safe and cared for."

Shaking hands with Mister Bailes, Reyes smiled, "That's what we do best. I expect I'll be seeing Neil again in Ewa Beach soon enough."

"You bet!" Neil chimed.

"Maybe even this weekend," Chauncey giggled.

Locking eyes with Colin again, Reyes softly assured, "I'll see you guys in a few minutes." Colin nodded. Reyes tapped his comm-badge, calling, "Alden, take me to where Drew is, please?" The group waved as Reyes disappeared from the living room into the Wells Fargo Arena, in Des Moines, Iowa. Immediately upon arrival, Reyes eyes widened at the many thousands of refugees scattered around the arena. He excitedly gasped, "Holy crap!"

Corey, Drew, John and Stephen briefly turned in their seats and greeted Reyes. Drew pointed at the three boys seated not far away, saying, "Those three lost their parents in Washington, D.C. this morning. They know each other and chose to stay together. I'll be over in a minute, Reyes."

Nodding, Reyes walked over to meet the three boys. He introduced himself, then asked their names. The oldest, a dirty-blond teenager with striking light gray eyes, stood and said, "My name's Christopher Stokley. Call me Chris." He then pointed at the next boy, a freckle-faced, red-haired pre-teen and introduced, "This is Pat, Patrick O'Hara." Chris gestured to the next younger boy, introducing, "And this is Raphael Montigua, we call him Rafe."

Drew stepped beside Reyes and warmly smiled, "Reyes will get you dudes to our base in Ewa Beach, Oahu. He'll show you around, feed you, get you clothes and all the other stuff you'll need. Like Corey said earlier, you guys can choose dorm rooms or sleep with us in our nest until you feel more comfortable." Turning to Reyes, Drew sighed, "Lots of kids lost parents and homes. Every one of 'em are being asked who they'd like to stay with, and then where they'd like to live, then we get them to a Clan Division. I wouldn't be surprised if I called you again in another few hours, Reyes. We'll probably come back home with a couple more too."

Reyes checked with Chris, Patrick and Raphael. "How're you guys feeling after everything that's happened?"

Chris shrugged, "Totally blown away. Half our apartment building was destroyed during the attack. Just getting downstairs and out was a challenge, to say the least."

Patrick nodded and softly mumbled, "Everything's changed. I guess I'm too confused to even remember how we got out of the city and here."

Beginning to cry, Raphael sobbed, "I had parents and an older brother last night. Today..."

Kneeling down before the youngest of the three, Reyes opened his arms. Raphael leaned forward and embraced Reyes, letting the tears flow freely.

Wiping his eyes, Chris sighed, "Rafe's brother, Jay, was a classmate and my b-best friend."

"We'll take care of you now," Reyes calmly assured. Looking at both of the other boys who were bravely holding back their own tears, Reyes promised, "Tonight you'll have about two hundred brothers and sisters, warm beds and good food. I'll get you to our doctors, so they can make sure everything's kewl. I'll introduce you to our child psychologist too, so you can talk to him about everything."

Patrick prompted, "Get us out of here, please? This place, and all these people, it's freaky and making matters worse."

Nodding at Patrick, Reyes gently checked with Raphael, "Are you ready to go to your new home?" Taking Reyes' hand and then Patrick's hand, Raphael pulled back and nodded.

Chris took Patrick's other hand and smiled, "Thanks for everything, Drew."

"No sweat," Drew smiled, "I'll see you three in a couple o' hours. Reyes will take care of you until then."

"Got 'em covered," Reyes assured Drew. He then called, "Alden, take me and our three new Rimmers home, to the CIC dining room."

Upon arrival at the Ewa Beach dining room, Chris incredulously snickered, "What did you just call us?"

Reyes grinned, "Drew didn't tell you? This is Clan Short Pacific Rim Division, therefore we're all Rimmers." Chris lost it and cracked up laughing. Bouncing his eyebrows, Reyes giggled, "Who's hungry?" Letting go of Patrick, Chris grabbed his belly and roared laughing.

Uncertainly, Patrick grinned at Chris and then Raphael.

Wiping his eyes, Raphael looked up at Chris and teased, "So umm... you and Jay never..."

"Rafe!" Chris hollered.

"What?" Raphael giggled, "Like I didn't know Jay was your boyfriend. Thin walls in that apartment."

Covering his blushing face with both hands, Chris screamed, "Oh God!"

Patrick sniggered, "Maybe it's all working out for the best. I like boys too, but never could o' told anyone before."

"There you are," Colin said as he led the Colorado group, the quadruplets and the double twins into the dining room. All the Clan members had changed out of winter clothes and back into summer clothes.

"We arrived at the pools, thinking you'd be there," Alien stated.

Mini nodded, "When we didn't see you, we came here."

Reyes shrugged, "It's close enough to lunch time. I figured, we'll eat and then I'll get these three newbies to the store."

Richie noticed Ralphie seemed a little out of it, and wondered, "What's wrong with you?"

Ralphie blushed and sharply shushed his brother.

Reyes first introduced Chris, Patrick and Raphael to Brandon, Chauncey and Fred. Quadruplet and double twin thoughts were silently flying while Reyes continued down the line from Carrol, Terrence, Colin, Alien and Mini to Adam, Mark, Brian and Jeff, and lastly to Ronnie, Robbie, Richie and Ralphie. While all the boys shook hands or waved to each other, everything suddenly stopped when Patrick locked eyes with Ralphie and blushed, "Hi."

Uncharacteristically, Ralphie squeaked, "Hi."

Reyes and Colin led the newbies to the kitchen chow line. Patrick reluctantly followed, but looked back over his shoulder to see if Ralphie was still watching. For some reason, Patrick felt like he had met or seen Ralphie before, but couldn't understand why.

Giggling began with Ronnie and Adam and progressed around to Garrett, Mark, Robbie, Richie, Brian and Jeff. Eight pairs of hands led star-struck Ralphie to a nearby table and sat him down before he wobbled and fell down. The same eight voices sang, "Ralphie's got a boyfriend!"

Blushing and suddenly feeling very warm, Ralphie giggled, "Oh my God, if only. Did you see his eyes? And freckles too? Cuteness overload! The next time he talks to me, I'm a goner."

Richie grinned, "I noticed that none of those three had suitcases, just the clothes on their backs."

Ronnie nodded, "We might have to let Ralphie join them in the store."

"Who knows, maybe Patrick will need help in the changing rooms," Robbie joked.

Garrett chuckled, "It's pretty obvious he likes you too, Ralphie."

Playing along, Ralphie fanned his face with one hand and wiped sweat from his forehead with the other. The whole group fell about each other, laughing hysterically.

Back at Wells Fargo Arena, John, Stephen, Drew and Corey were processing refugees as quickly as possible. Reuniting families was again made easier by the Clan A.I.s, who could correlate incoming data, then make that information available on PADDs and via sub-vocals. For almost three hours, people moved forward through lines to tables where Clan representatives sat, doing their very best to get everyone reunited, processed and sent off to various destination refugee housing facilities.

From the back of the line formed before Corey's and Drew's table, there was a commotion. A small child began crying and an older woman began swearing. Moving forward through the line was a very large man, a woman and a young girl. Corey got up to discover what the problem was. Following Corey were his personal security, Baakir and Chuck. Corey walked back through the line, but was stopped by the fat man, who demanded to be processed immediately.

The woman comforting the crying child hollered, "That fat sweaty putz knocked my son over and down."

"I'm an agent for the United States Secretary of Agriculture," the fat man grumbled.

The woman next to the fat man screamed obscenities at the other woman, then hollered at Corey, "My husband is Under-Secretary of Agriculture for Pork Futures! We've been waiting for hours, and will not be herded with the common people..."

"I demand to see your superior," the fat man interrupted, and then roughly took hold of Corey's shoulder.

Baakir grabbed the man's arm and forcibly removed it from Corey, growling, "Porkie, you're under arrest. This boy is a Clan Short leader. All these other people are patiently waiting in line, but you and your wife seem to think you're better than everyone else." Porkie struggled to get free of the gorilla. Glaring at the obnoxious man, Baakir yanked and dislocated the man's arm at the shoulder. The man screamed in pain. Baakir told Corey, "I'll be right back, Cor." Corey only nodded and Baakir disappeared with Porkie, his bitch of a wife and the girl that was with them. The nearby crowd erupted in applause, cheers, and laughter.

Corey giggled, then loudly laughed, "He's the Under-Secretary of Agriculture for Pork Futures, so I guess that makes him pulled pork now!" Others in the lines around him chuckled and laughed. He went back to check on the small boy that had been knocked down. Seeing that the boy was only scared, his mother thanked Corey. Corey had Alden deliver a chocolate ice cream cone, which he handed over to the boy, who abruptly stopped crying and concentrated on his treat. Corey returned to the table and sat beside his softly sniggering husband. "Porkie" was the butt of many jokes in nearby lines for quite a while.

Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike entered the CIC dining room with much of the Rimmer Clan, just as Reyes was preparing to take Chris, Patrick and Raphael to the basement store. Once he had explained about the two rescues he had done, Reyes introduced his dads, Prez and Keith to the six newbies. He then took the three that needed clothes to the store. Wanting time together, Ronnie and Garrett volunteered to help the newbies. They pulled Ralphie along to get to know Patrick better.

At the F.Y.S. building, Jennifer Hundser had finished another interview with an Ex-C.P.S. employee. Since her husband was still busy on the phone, she went to get Anna Seibert and Bill Seaver, so they could all have lunch together. Bill and Charles had finished their interview with Roy Combs, who would fill the position of Facilities Manager at Ewa Beach.

When the adults walked into the dining room at the CIC, around half past noon, none of the Core Rimmers except Keith, Prez, Mike and Derrick were there. The Queen and young Prince Kaimi were there. Soon after the parents ordered their mid-day meals and sat down to eat, they were very surprised when King Aalona walked in with Sean, Troy, Logan Busch, Colin Powell and six secret service agents. Troy and Sean left the V.I.P.'s at the kitchen and went directly toward the Command Center. They had to arrange for Uncle Colin's Inauguration and those that would be attending the occasion on base.

Prez stood to greet the King and Uncle Colin, but his robe slipped open again. Giggling and shaking his head, Keith pulled Prez back down to his padded chair, joking, "I'm really starting to wonder, baby. Are you that horny? Let me deal with the V.I.P.s."

Relenting, Prez nodded and teased, "King Aalona is in his thirties and Uncle Colin is sixty-something. Neither could keep up with you or me."

Landing a quick kiss on his husband's cheek, Keith whispered, "You got that right, sex machine." He then stood and went towards the kitchen, leaving Prez at the table with their sons. Keith stopped by the parents' tables to let them know that Colin Powell wanted to meet them.

Jen asked, "When did you get home with Preston?"

"A little before five this morning," Keith answered, and then hurried to the kitchen to Uncle Colin and King Aalona. Mike and Derrick quickly told their boys they were taking some time alone at their townhouse. Jonah was glad to hear it and promised he would watch over his brothers and Kaimi. Richie, Geoff and Lenny were also with Kaimi and seemed perfectly happy. King Aalona went to the table where his wife and son were sitting. When Prez saw Keith return to the dining room from the kitchen with Uncle Colin, he stood and properly closed his robe, gathered his sons, and then went to get his husband the heck out of there. Once finished introducing all the parents to Uncle Colin and Mister Rice, Keith went with Prez and their sons, intending to go their townhouse.

Kekoa was coming toward the dining room as Prez, Keith and their sons were walking out. Kekoa formally called, "Director O'Brian, may I have a few minutes?"

"Sure," Prez answered, but held up his index finger to signal a pause, then told Keith, "I'll be right there, babe. Take our kids home and I'll meet you."

Keith started to walk away with his sons. Prez returned to Kekoa, stepped off the walkway to the grass and prompted, "Your report, Colonel?"

Kekoa said, "Sir, I understand the reasons why you ordered us all to separate last night, but that put me in a very difficult position. I report to you and to General Casey. It is also my job to make certain you are protected at all times. If Chris, your enhanced human security, had been with you, then you wouldn't have been injured."

"I know where you're heading," Prez quickly interjected, and then asked, "Let me say a few things, please?"

"Yes Sir," Kekoa replied.

Prez grinned, "At ease, Kekoa." Kekoa went to parade rest. Prez said, "I screwed up. I knew Jimmy was here and could've contacted him, but simply thought more about the people trapped and didn't consider that at all. Keith already gave me hell over it. Thanks to rumors of my burns, I had to prove to the kids that I'm fine earlier today." Prez paused and sighed, "We're both in the same shitty situation. If any of your troops, you or anyone had got hurt last night, I'd be far more disturbed than I am now, that's for sure. I'm glad I was the worst injury and not anyone else."

Kekoa nodded, saying, "I can understand that, but at the same time, it's our job to be the ones who get hurt. I feel I should've been more forceful. Chris, Matthew and Gamba are all pretty annoyed with themselves too."

Prez smirked, "I'll take care of them. Keith and I were planning on spending some time off with our security teams any way. Now, let's play something out here. If each of the six Core Rimmers had kept their enhanced security with them at all times, then what?"

"Chris might've remembered Jimmy," Kekoa offered. "And Chris could've run faster and healed quicker than you."

"But I'd still feel like shit for allowing him to get hurt," Prez reminded. "And it would've taken longer to rescue about twenty people. Multiply that twenty by six for each Core Rimmer, and that's a hundred and twenty people that may or may not have been rescued."

Kekoa sighed, "Permission to speak freely, Sir?"

"You always have that with me, Kekoa."

"Given what we now know regarding the H.L.F., you and all of the Core Rimmers were in danger last night, not only from the fire, but also from enemy gun fire as well. For all we knew, there might have been H.L.F. snipers there. When I reported for duty, you told me that more dangerous rescue operations would rely entirely upon the UNIT detachment. We did not follow that protocol last night. We're all damned lucky only your butt and feet were burned. You and all the Core Rimmers might've been killed. Also, General Casey is eventually going to ream me a new asshole for allowing events to transpire as they did."

Prez groaned, then sighed, "Understood. I hadn't thought of that, but I will personally contact Adam. Let's treat this as a learning experience, from a new division director and a new division detachment commander. If Adam's gonna ream you a new one, then I should be there too, for the same chewing out." Finishing with a cute smile and tilt of his head, Prez waited for more to be said.

Kekoa sputtered, then laughed, "Yup, rimmers, I get it," and walked away as Prez started laughing too.

Prez bellowed, "You knew we called ourselves 'Rimmers'. That's why you accepted the assignment, isn't it?"

Never breaking his stride, Kekoa only briefly turned his head and sniggered, "Not goin' there, Prez."

Down in the basement store, Ronnie and Garrett maneuvered to get Ralphie separated, alone with Patrick. Garrett and Ronnie helped Chris and Rafe get clothing and everything else they needed at the store. Ralphie's brothers and new friends had helped get him over his initial awe, so he was ready to make the best impression possible. With his modeling experience, Ralphie went right to work helping Patrick. Patrick picked up a package of three white BVD briefs. Since Patrick had pale, freckled skin, red hair and dark gray eyes, Ralphie picked up a package of four multi-colored FTL briefs. Showing them to Patrick, Ralphie slyly suggested, "These would look really good on you, I think."

"Umm..." Patrick blushed and stammered, "I've n-never wo-worn... colored b-briefs b-before."

Rather than focus on Patrick, Ralphie instead pointed at the package, explaining, "Navy blue, sky blue and especially gray would look kewl though. When we get to boardies, I'll concentrate on those same colors, especially gray."

Patrick wondered, "Why is gray so kewl?"

"It would match your eyes," Ralphie softly said, and grinned.

Breaking into giggles and another blush, Patrick turned away for a moment or two, then concentrated on the safer white sports socks. Without facing Ralphie, he then giggled, "Get two packages like that."

Ralphie enthusiastically sang, "Sweet!" and grabbed another package, with black, blue and gray briefs. He dropped both packages into the cart. Ralphie gently called, "Patrick?"

With three packages of socks in his hands, Patrick hummed curiously, and then turned to quickly toss them in his cart.

Ralphie cautiously asked, "Am I embarrassing you? I don't mean to, ya know?"

Patrick shrugged, "I know. I can't help it. I never thought... like the way we met before... and that you... or that I..." Flustered, Patrick huffed, "I'm not saying or doing much right."

"Don't worry about it."

"I can't help that either, because I am worried, and scared, and happy, and really confused."

Gesturing to boys' pajamas, Ralphie seriously said, "So am I. I just wanna get to know you better, after what happened up in the dining room and all."

Patrick stammered, "How're you... ya know, dealing with it so easy?"

Ralphie smiled, "Does it seem this is easy? It's really not, but neither was getting left alone for a week by my manager. It wasn't easy learning I had one brother, that became two and then three. And the last brother, Robbie, brought along his parents too, so suddenly we're not really orphans any more, we've got parents by default too. I guess I always had to roll with the flow on photo shoots, so I do that pretty easily. I'm really trying to roll with the flow now too, with you."

"I don't mean to make it rough."

"You're not," Ralphie giggled, "I am!"

Patrick smiled, "How're you making it any more rough? Sorry, I don't see that."

Stepping closer to Patrick, so he could speak more softly, Ralphie sighed, "Every instinct tells me that I should drop to my knees and beg you to like me. I know that's not how it works, but that's really what I want to do."

Wrapping his hands behind his head and cradling his skull with his arms in the cutest way, Patrick giggled, "That's what I was trying to say before. You and all your brothers are way cute, but you, your eyes locked on mine and we... it must've seemed really goofy."

Ralphie shrugged and smiled, "So what if it seemed goofy." Getting down on his knees, Ralphie looked up, giggling, "Ple-e-ease say you like me?"

Dropping his arms, Patrick cracked up. Noticing Reyes, Chris, Rafe, Garrett and Ronnie looking at them, Patrick laughed, "Everybody's watchin', you nutcase! Stand up!"

"Not until you say you like me," Ralphie stubbornly cackled.

"Oh JEEZ!" Patrick laughed. Still giggling, he leaned over and helped Ralphie stand, playfully reminding, "I said you're cute. It sort o' follows that I like you." The group of boys many meters away began clapping and cheering.

Holding Patrick's arms, Ralphie smiled, "Kewl, 'cos I think you're totally awesome, cute and cuddly too."

Patrick sniggered, "Before we start cuddling, we really should know each other."

"Which is what I was trying to do," Ralphie smiled. "I used to model clothes, from underwear to suits and everything in between. I want my boyfriend lookin' his very best, all the time."

Now knowing why he had felt like he knew Ralphie from somewhere, Patrick softly joked, "So, even though I might be a mass murderer, you still want to be my boyfriend?"

Not believing it, Ralphie smirked, "So you broke a few hearts. Just let me be your friend."

Nodding, Patrick assured, "We are. And we're falling way behind the other guys."

"Your wish is my command," Ralphie smiled, and took hold of the cart. Before going too far, Ralphie confirmed, "You don't wear pajamas?"

Patrick shrugged, "Only during the winters in D.C., when it was really cold." In seconds they were in the footwear department.

Ralphie nodded, "It don't get very cold here. I haven't seen it fall below sixty-five degrees in a week."

Softly talking about their pasts while selecting new sneakers and sandals, Patrick admitted that he had seen some modeling photos of Ralphie. Patrick's apartment home was within Washington, D.C.'s city limits. He had woke to the sounds of yelling outside. After trying to ignore it for a while, he got up and went to look out the kitchen and dining room windows to see what was going on. Then there was a loud explosion, crashing and rattling sounds. He ran back down the hall to his bedroom, but there wasn't much of a hallway or any rooms there any more. His parents' bedroom was also gone, seven stories down in a heap of rubble on the ground.

Seeing Patrick blinking fast, Ralphie consoled him. Patrick sighed, "My folks weren't the greatest, but they weren't the worst either. They worked all the time. Dad did road work and mom worked shifts at a restaurant. I rarely got to see them for more than an occasional breakfast or dinner. I guess I still don't know how to feel about them or anything that happened all day today."

Ralphie softly assured, "When you're ready, I'll listen. Somehow, I'll find a way to help get everything perfect." Believing his life could make a turn for the better, Patrick nodded, stepped back and wiped his eyes.

Soon, they were collecting board shorts, cargo shorts and Speedos. Patrick told Ralphie, "Don't get anything green, it makes me look like a Christmas tree."

"No greens, check," Ralphie confirmed. Rifling through shirt racks, Ralphie selected seven T-shirts and three button-down sport shirts, leaving Patrick with nothing to do except approve or refuse Ralphie's selections, and push the cart forward through the store.

At the jeans area, Patrick got to stand like a mannequin while Ralphie checked his waist and inseam measurements. Breaking into giggles, because Ralphie was once again on his knees before him and some of the other guys saw, Patrick told Ralphie, "If this is what having a boyfriend is like, I'm gonna be so spoiled."

"Tell ya what," Ralphie smiled, "you could pick out some clothes for me? I've got plenty of Speedos and briefs, so anything else is kewl." Following Patrick back to the shirts, Ralphie found himself telling Patrick about the base facilities, the Core Rimmers, his brothers, new parents and the new townhome they lived in.

Patrick held up a Heineken Beer T-shirt against Ralphie's shoulders. Since they were so close, Patrick left his hands resting on Ralphie's shoulders, nervously whispering, "I never had a boyfriend before."

"Me neither," Ralphie softly assured.

"I know I like other boys, but don't know much else. So I know for sure and don't chance breaking your heart, would you kiss me?"

Shocked silent, Ralphie slowly nodded. He carefully held Patrick between his hips and ribs, leaned forward and gently kissed his new boyfriend. It wasn't a baby kiss nor was it a deep French kiss, but it was held long enough for both to know what soft lips felt and tasted like. Pulling back only a few inches, Ralphie asked, "Was that okay?"

Locking eyes with Ralphie's brown eyes, Patrick smiled, "More than okay. That was really nice."

"You kissin' me back made it great," Ralphie giggled.

Carrying a Clan Short poncho and pulling a suitcase, Reyes slowly approached, saying, "Chris and Rafe are checkin' out and loading up suitcases." Slinging the poncho onto Patrick's cart, Reyes prompted, "Try this on when you get a chance, Pat." He then slid the suitcase under the cart, telling Pat and Ralphie, "I'll finish up with the others, transport them out of here, then come back to help you two dudes."

Patrick smiled, "Thanks, Reyes."

"We won't be too much longer," Ralphie assured. Turning to Patrick, Ralphie scowled, "I don't like the idea of you being at the dorm, sharing a room with another guy."

Patrick nodded, then asked Reyes, "Please tell Rafe he's my roommate at the dorm?"

Reyes smiled, "I will, but he and Chris want to check out the nest tonight. That's where a lot of kids and Core Rimmers sleep. Rafe's been telling Chris that he needs to move past Jay and find a boyfriend too. Chris doesn't know how fast that might happen; he only wants to get used to the place and meet everyone."

Patrick nodded, "Okay, tonight I'll be crashing in the nest too then." Ralphie pasted on a dramatic frown. Patrick giggled, "Just for tonight. I get the feeling I'll be spending a lot of nights with you, or you'll be with me."

"I'll be back in a couple o' minutes," Reyes chuckled.

Stepping back from Ralphie, dropping the Heineken T-shirt into his cart, and then picking up the poncho, Patrick smiled, "We may even be close to done, ya never can tell." Realizing he would be completely alone with Patrick for a while, Ralphie widely smiled.

Walking away again, Reyes helplessly laughed.

Before beginning his lunch, Colin Powell smiled and glanced around the dining room. Returning his attention to the Hundsers, he remarked, "They're so much like any other kids, it's hard to believe their pasts."

Jen nodded and explained, "Some just arrived yesterday and are still generally afraid of adults. All are basically good kids. They've been taught to do the right things, just for the wrong reasons. If the pattern holds, they'll be much better by Sunday evening."

Covering his mouth with a napkin because he was eating, Colin asked, "How so quickly?"

Jim smiled, "Mostly by watching and emulating the other kids. A few have more serious issues and see our child psychologist. Like any other child, what they fear most is rejection from their peers or failure."

Lanna Seaver offered, "About twenty of the original eighty-seven were ready to start fresh Saturday night and Sunday. It started with our sons adopting Saturday night."

Mister Rice asked, "You allowed your boys to adopt?" and all the adults began chuckling.

Rob Gibbons answered, "We allowed nothing. As Clan Leadership, they're Starfleet ensigns and considered adults. As of Wednesday, they're all Starfleet Lieutenants. I must admit, I didn't expect it to be this easy. All our boys are doing great jobs parenting, even John and Stephen, the youngest of them."

Jim Hundser reminded, "Two hundred years ago, it was considered normal for teens to marry and have children. By the time our generation had arrived, a slew of requirements were added and simple economics had changed that perception."

Anna Seibert added, "Your generation, Mister Powell, had many more young parents than ours. With all the requirements for education, and two working parents, such as there are today, why is it that so many children are getting in trouble with the law? Or, like many of these kids, winding up cared for by perverts or sadists? There is something fundamentally wrong with our economics, and with our perceptions of what constitutes an adult."

"I agree," Colin said. "If there's one thing I could change, it would be economics. Two parents working eight- to twelve-hour days leaves no time for the most important task, raising our children the right way. The trouble is, many parents don't understand what constitutes the 'right way'."

Jen said, "It takes a village. Grandparents available, aunts and uncles, parents of friends; adults working together to make our children responsible and capable young people, without fear of rejection, without fear of failure. Look at what our boys and thousands of others did around the world in the last day. Many of the Clan and UNIT boys have their own fears and troubles, yet they performed admirably under the worst case scenarios."

"They're a part of something bigger than themselves," Bill Seaver offered. "In my own son's case, for instance, before he was made a Clan Leader, he was responsible for stage lighting while his partner ran the band's sound system. Drew was asked to help his brother as a sound engineer. He wanted to do a good job. Corey was asked to run the lights. Drew wanted Corey with him. It's the simple desire to do a good job for those you care about that makes the difference. That's what all the boys did last night, all around the world; they wanted to do a good job and make a difference."

Lanna Seaver grinned, "Mister Powell, what would you say if I told you two six-year-old boys were part of this division's Intel team."

Raising his eyebrows, Colin said, "Twenty minutes ago, I might've said, they're too young."

"And a week ago, I would've agreed," Lanna admitted. She then explained, "They are being trained, and to make me feel more comfortable, their duties are limited. Two six-year-old boys, recent orphans themselves, wanted to be part of the team. How could I deny them the opportunity to grow, learn and be part of the bigger team?"

Jen said, "Lanna worries about them, of course. We all worry about our sons. They've taken on a lot of responsibilities and performed wonderfully for a week. Sean and Troy are basically in charge today. Other members are off performing other duties to help with refugee relocation."

Jim added, "Our boys are still chipping in to help, but they are mindful of what we've said. If I had my druthers, they'd all be at the beach, surfing and having a good time with very few responsibilities. Given world events, however, that is not reasonable. Two cannot perform the jobs of twelve without burning out or getting frustrated."

Colin nodded, saying, "King Aalona and I already had a similar conversation. He is very impressed with Vulcan culture and logic. He feels your boys saved him and his family from a very unpleasant demise. Several State Governors are equally impressed and making alterations to their laws.

"Once my plane was airborne, we searched for a safe place to land and refuel. Diplomatic contact with Vulcan led us here. I am also impressed with the reception my entourage has received. I have had reason to thank the boys several times. And what do I get in return? Not cocky attitudes, but modest thanks. Even Judy Faris responded similarly.

"Whenever I am out of the country, I'm locked in a vicious circle; moving from a plane to a car to a room, to a car, to a meeting, to a car and back to a room. Yet here, I am considered safe enough to leave our spacious accommodations and join you for a meal." Colin finished his glass of iced tea then smiled, "Thank you. Our jobs are to serve. In the United States, that is taken for granted. In my travels, I have found it is not so in other countries."

Jim asked, "If I may, I can't help wondering, what is the status world-wide?"

Colin sighed, "We're in a bad way. Many governments have lost vast numbers of public servants. Queen Elizabeth is alive and well, however President Bush was not able to get out of Washington safely. The Capitol Building has been demolished. We have great challenges ahead of us, but we will persevere. As always, we will survive and become stronger for our sacrifices." Colin then nodded at Gordon Rice and both men stood, as did the other secret service agents nearby. They took their leave of the other adults, then carried their trays to the kitchen dishwasher.

Some rescued Rimmer kids that had finished their lunches were in the adjacent CIC rec room. After briefly checking the rec room, Colin Powell, Mister Rice and the other secret servicemen left the CIC and began a brief tour of the base. They followed another group of kids toward the pools, walked around the indoor rec center, between the soccer field and basketball courts, between the dorms and single family homes, then back towards the condominiums. Everywhere the group of men walked, they saw groups of kids acting like well behaved, friendly and "normal" kids.

Sitting with the King, Queen and young Prince were Jonah, Dillon, Randy, Geoff and Lenny. Kaimi had been having the time of his life at Ewa Beach and had made five new friends that morning. Kaimi was so taken with everything he had experienced that he begged his parents to let him come back and attend school with his friends. "We will see. This must be discussed with Director O'Brian," King Aalona replied.

Kaimi dramatically pouted, "I like it here. It's much nicer than my school."

King Aalona nodded, "I agree, but we must check with Director O'Brian. That is only considerate."

Geoff quickly said, "That's okay, Kai. Unca Prez will say yes. I know it."

Dillon looked up at Queen Adamina, saying, "We have nice new schools here. My Daddy and Poppa says we're gonna have tests on Monday. That way, kids that are as smart as each other get grouped together, no matter how old they are."

Queen Adamina confirmed, "You are Derrick's and Mike's boy?"

Dillon proudly nodded, smiled and hummed affirmatively. Geoff reminded, "Drew's mine and Lenny's Daddy, and Corey's our Pop."

Turning to Kaimi, Queen Adamina assured, "Your father and I will speak with Director O'Brian. We also need to ensure the quality of the school. If it meets our requirements and Director O'Brian approves, you may attend school here to be with your friends."

"Thank you, Momma," Kaimi cheered. He then checked with his friends, "Let's go out and play." In seconds, all five boys were hurrying out of the CIC.

Finished with their lunch, Sean and Troy went into the Command Center. In San Francisco, it was almost four in the afternoon and the battle for Starfleet Headquarters was won. Clan-wide, alert conditions were lowered. At the Rapid Response Base medical facility, a pair of girls had lost their parents, victims of burns suffered at the Hyatt Regency. Their names were Helen and Mary Donofrio. Helen was ten years old and her sister Mary was eight. Since he and Sean couldn't leave the base, Troy went back to the dining room to ask Mrs. Hundser if she could retrieve the latest pair of recent orphans.

Since there were a few more interviews to complete, Jen asked, "Anna, could you take care of this recovery?"

Excited at the opportunity, Anna brightly smiled, "Of course. I'll bring my girls along to help keep them calm." She tapped her comm-badge to call for her security team to meet her by the dining room doors, and then went to gather her three girls.

Back at the Wells Fargo Arena, it was dinner time. Additional tables had been teleported between lines of refugees containing food and drink for the masses, so they could eat and not lose their places in line. A man wearing a tattered pin-stripe suit approached the table where John and Stephen were processing a small family. Without excusing himself, the man in the suit asked John, "Where's your permit to distribute food?"

Blinking uncertainly at the man, John telepathically got a brief impression that this man had authority to ask the question. Beginning a full telepathic scan, John innocently asked, "What's your name and job?"

"My name is Javier Kukla, and I work for the Food and Drug Administration," the man replied.

"Why?" John prodded.

Mister Kukla sourly wondered, "What kind of question is that?"

Lucky moved around the table and stopped beside the man. John grinned, "You didn't need the job you had, other than to make bad decisions that lined your pockets. You've accepted large amounts of cash from Keka Pharmaceuticals, to prematurely release drugs to the American public, drugs that you knew were dangerous to kids. You've been telepathically scanned by a Vulcan-trained telepath, you greedy shit, and are under arrest." Lucky grabbed the man and evilly chuckled. Stephen lost it and howled laughing. From the next table over, Corey and Drew softly snickered. John laughed, "Watch how fast we get those drugs off the market and find the jack-off at Keka responsible. Ask some prisoners at the moon you'll be serving time at where their permits are, you jerk. Had you just kept quiet and accepted the food we're graciously providing, I wouldn't have had the chance or reason to scan you. Your guilt has been determined. See ya later!"

Lucky sniggered, "I'll be right back, Johnny-boy," and disappeared with Mr. Kukla.

Around one-thirty that afternoon, Dee, Gage, Richie and Sammy decided to leave their dad and pop to go to the pool. With little else to keep them busy, Prez and Keith chose to head to the Command Center to relieve Sean and Troy, so the latter two could take some time off during the afternoon after a busy morning. Since Prez was burned and really needed to rest, Sean and Troy agreed to take only a few hours off. They would then return to the Command Center, so Prez could take a break.

Around the same time, Derrick, Mike and their security teams went with King Aalona to his palace. The Palace lawn and trees were in bad shape. The main entry doors were destroyed. Inside though, only the immediate area by the main entry foyer was in need of repairs. Half a dozen of the King's uninjured staff rushed to the foyer to greet him. King Aalona's staff had called to have the doors replaced, but were uncertain about Him returning to his palace that night. The King told his staff that he would remain at Ewa Beach for a few days then went to gather suitcases, fill them with clothes and other personal affects.

On the way, Derrick said, "Majesty, if I may?" When King Aalona nodded, Derrick called Alden to check on condo availability. Derrick then told King Aalona, "We have two five-bedroom condos available in building 'B', beside where Mister Powell and his party are staying. In building 'C', where Mister Powell is staying, there are still six two-bedroom units available."

"The two bedroom units are very large, Sire. That's where Troy and his mom live. We could easily keep you safe," Mike added. "All you would need to choose is which condo you prefer, Majesty."

King Aalona sighed then forced a small smile. "Thank you, boys. I will consider the choices while visiting my wounded palace guards and other servants."

Derrick said, "Anything you need, Sire." He then called Alden to have the Royals' suitcases transported to Ewa Beach, and their group transported to the Rapid Response Base medical facility. All twenty of King Aalona's palace guards had been injured and two had died from their wounds.

The King's face saddened for a minute, but then became very stern. Stepping away from the receptionist's desk, King Aalona turned to Derrick and Mike. "This will never happen again," King Aalona firmly said. "Before I return to the palace, I would insist upon having my entire palace shielded." The King started walking to go visit his men.

Following the King, Derrick nodded and softly assured, "We'll make that happen for you, Sire."

Mike immediately tapped his comm-badge and called Prez. With Keith nearby in the Command Center, Prez said, "What's up, dude." Mike relayed the King's wishes to Prez, adding that two palace guards had been killed during the fire-fight. "No problem," Prez said, "I'll make the request from Starfleet now. Until it's installed, The Royal Family can stay with us."

Mike informed Prez, "That topic's already been discussed. Derrick and I will show the King several available condo units and let Him choose where He would like to be."

King Aalona asked, "Director O'Brian, how long before the shielding is operational?"

Prez replied, "I won't know until I make the request, Majesty. Given world events, it might take a while, but I will do everything in my power to have it expedited. I can almost guarantee you'll be back at your Palace by Monday evening. If I have to call Cory Short to make that happen, then I will. Is that acceptable?"

"Yes," King Aalona answered. "You and your team have been more than kind. Kaimi has grown to enjoy being on base with other children. Thank you, Director O'Brian."

Prez smiled and assured, "However we can help, Majesty, let Derrick or Mike know. What they may not be able to accomplish, I can. O'Brian out."

Facing the King, Derrick asked, "Is there anything else we can do, Majesty?"

The King nodded, "I would like to stop at a gift shop or florist to get live plants for my wounded men." King Aalona then spent the next hour going from room to room, visiting his wounded palace guards.

Returning to the medical facility's main entry, where they had arrived, they stopped at the gift shop. King Aalona arranged for flowering plants to be delivered to each of his palace guards and two additional much larger plants to be delivered to the families of the deceased. He then filled out cards to be attached to all the plants. The families of the deceased guards were informed that they would not have to worry about funeral arrangements, The King would take care of that for them. King Aalona then asked to be shown the available condominiums, so he could prepare the funerals as promised. Assuming the King would want accommodations similar to Mister Powell, Derrick had Alden transport the group to condo building 'B', tenth floor.

King Aalona hummed for a few seconds, then said, "This is much too large for my small family and a temporary stay. Might I suggest a two-bedroom unit in the adjacent building, where Mister Powell already has security stationed? Although we know we are safe, my wife and son might feel more secure after last night."

Derrick nodded, "I thought you might rather less traffic. That building will be very busy by later tonight, Sire."

The King nodded, "That will not be a problem. We would not be there often and would have our main meals at the base dining room. The smaller unit will be acceptable."

As they started walking towards the doors and elevator, Mike checked with Alden to confirm which two-bedroom units in building 'C' were available.

Alden answered, "All units on the fourth floor to the sixth floor are empty, Mike."

In the elevator, Mike said, "Majesty, you have a choice of two-bedroom, two-bath units. With all the traffic expected in that building, might I suggest the fourth floor? If the elevator is occupied, you and your family could use the balcony stairs. Units are available as high as the sixth floor; I'm just considering convenience, especially for Prince Kaimi."

King Aalona smiled, "You boys are quite remarkable. Is there anything you do not think of?"

Mike giggled, "We have about a hundred kids under ten years old, Sire. We always think of the littlest kids first." Derrick and Mike showed The King the condos in building 'C'. Once the King had approved of the fourth floor condo, Derrick had Alden transport the Royals' suitcases there. The Queen was then transported from the pool area to the condo to begin unpacking and setting up their temporary residence. Alden filled the cupboards and refrigerator with food and drinks.

With an an opportunity to be alone together, Richie, Carrol and Terrence sat at a poolside table. Sitting on Carrol's lap, Terrence asked Richie, "You really like it here, huh?"

Nodding, Richie smiled, "My brothers are pretty kewl, and so are Jason and Trinity."

Appearing very sad, Terrence asked, "Don't you wanna come back home with us?"

Richie sighed, "I do, but I want to be here with my brothers too. You're both important to me, but so are my brothers. What I'd really like most of all is if you two would want to stay here with me."

Carrol wondered, "Could that happen? I mean, we just started getting settled in Vegas. What about Brent, Lance and everyone there?"

Richie shrugged, "We're still part of the Clan. I'd have to believe that Brent and Lance would want us to be happy. We could still visit our other friends in Vegas too, almost anytime we want. So, I guess the question really is, do we want to stay together enough to make a small change from the Vegas Division to here?"

Carrol muttered, "We missed you last night, Richie. I feel like I'm being really selfish, wanting you with us there, but I know how much you need your brothers too." Tickling Terrence's ribs to get his little brother's attention, Carrol grinned, "What do you think?"

Terrence shrugged, "I like it there, but here's not so different. There's still lots o' kids to play with. I just don't know any of 'em."

Walking over to the group, Cesar sent to Richie, 'Let us take care of Terrence and show him around?'

"Thank you so much,' Richie quickly replied.

As if he didn't already know, Felipe introduced himself to the boy on Carrol's lap. "I'm Felipe. What's your name?"

Shyly smiling at the nude boy, Terrence introduced himself and then Carrol as being from the Las Vegas Desert Division.

Cesar introduced himself and quickly asked, "Ya wanna play over at our playground with us, Terrence? It's really kewl, with swings, slides, jungle-gyms and merry-go-rounds."

Checking with his two older brothers, Terrence asked, "Can I?"

Richie said, "Sure you can. While you're doing that, me and Carrol will be here by the pool. I'll introduce him around to some of the other guys." Nodding, Carrol helped Terrence down.

Wandering off between Cesar and Felipe, Terrence asked, "How can you play on the slide without clothes? Won't that hurt?"

Felipe giggled, "We like the swings and jungle-gym most."

"There's lots of other kids there already," Cesar smiled.

Alone with Carrol, Richie grinned, "Now it's your turn. I want you and Terrence here with me." He stood and untied his boardies, sniggering, "The natives our age are mostly naked."

Carrol giggled, "You've gone completely crazy in a day!"

"By tomorrow, you'll be just as crazy as the rest of us," Richie smiled, and tossed his boardies onto the chair he had been sitting on. With a nod of his head, Richie prompted, "Come on." Carrol stood but didn't take his shorts off. In moments, Carrol was in the pool with Richie and being introduced to other tweens, like Kale, Chiba, Greg, Brice, Kelome and Thanh.

Meanwhile, Reyes had finished with his first set of newbies. Once they were mingling around the pool and diving well, getting to know the other kids, he stripped off his T-shirt and shorts, and then climbed up to the three-meter diving platform. Before diving into the well, Reyes saw Chris Stokley stripping out of his shorts, chatting with three of the other teenage boys. Reyes hadn't hit the water when he heard the chirping of a comm-badge. Rising above the water again, he heard a bunch of teenagers calling "Reyes!"

"Yeah, I know," Reyes smiled, and then swam to the edge. Wondering who might be calling this time and why, he climbed out, went to put his shirt on and tapped his comm-badge, saying, "Reyes here."

Drew giggled, "Alden said you've finished with the first batch, bro. Sorry to interrupt your break, but we've got five more here at Des Moines, for you to bring home."

Reyes grinned, "Not a problem, Drew. Let me dry off, hit the boys' room in the pool house and I'll be there."

Across the comm-badge, Reyes heard Corey giggling. Drew laughed, "Hurry, five just became seven. Grandma Morrison gave us two more."

Reyes queried, "Grandma Morrison; as in the grandmother of Adam, Mark, Brian and Jeff?"

"The one and only," an adult woman's voice answered, "now get your skinny butt over here, so that I can make sure these young men have a suitable escort."

From the other side of the pool house, Ronnie loudly laughed, "Better hurry up, Reyes."

"Yeah, I'm hurryin', grandma," Reyes giggled, and then added, "See ya in a couple o' minutes. Reyes out."

Naked and laughing, Ronnie and Garrett jogged over while Reyes was pulling his boardies up. "She's timing you, Reyes," Garrett giggled.

Widely smiling, Ronnie nodded, "She gets her way and don't usually back down."

Garrett sniggered, "Yeah, Julio was the first to lay down the law with her, and survived."

Reyes grinned, "I really have to pee first." He then wondered, "How're the other newbies doing?"

Ronnie chuckled, "Ralphie's with Pat at the pool. The first thing Ralphie did was get himself and Pat in Speedos, the horn-dog. Ralphie swears he and Pat were good and didn't do anything; Pat changed in the upstairs bathroom, while Ralphie changed in his bedroom. Right now he's trying to talk Pat into a trip to the jacuzzi or sauna."

Rapidly nodding, Garrett smiled, "Rafe's with Fred, Chauncey, Brandon, Richie, Carrol, Bane, Thanh and some other guys at the pool."

"I guess I'll make this trip alone," Reyes smirked, and then headed directly into the pool house. Standing at a urinal, Reyes softly muttered, "I don't believe this. Now I know why dad and pop wanted to take that vacation at Archnania so badly." Finished relieving himself, he stuffed his pecker back in his shorts, then went to wash his hands. Standing at a sink, he had an idea and began evilly snickering before he finished drying his hands. Once that task was complete, Reyes giggled, "Alden, get me a PADD, load Pissed Off Chickens on it, and transport me to Drew at Wells Fargo Arena, not necessarily in that order."

"It took Prez five days to digress to Pissed Off Chickens," Alden giggled, "I guess that's why he's Head Rimmer," and transported Reyes to Des Moines.

Appearing at the Arena, behind Corey, Drew, Stephen and John, Reyes complained, "Twice today people have commented on my skinny brown ass. Is it really that skinny?"

Corey and Stephen lost it and howled laughing. John sniggered, "You've only been eating right for a week, bro."

Drew nodded and giggled, "If your butt is still skinny at the end of the month, one of us will let you know."

Through his laughter, Corey warned Drew, "You'd better not!" The seven boys seated behind Reyes also began giggling. The three older boys playfully passed remarks about their preferred butt shapes.

Holding out a PADD, Stephen giggled, "Reyes, Alden says this is yours. Pissed Off Chickens is pre-loaded."

Standing, John smirked, "Challenge Prez to a few games."

Taking the PADD from Stephen, Reyes grinned, "I intend to, that's why I requested the game."

Stepping forward, an older woman smiled, "I'm Grandma Morrison, Reyes. I love how you and Preston are letting everyone believe you're cracking up. My grandsons and the quadruplets really enjoy the asylum atmosphere at your Hawaii base."

Shaking hands with Grandma, Reyes giggled, "Oh, are we faking it? That's good to know."

Leading Reyes to the seated boys, John introduced them. "Reyes, this tall guy is fifteen-year-old Travis Mcauley, this is fourteen-year-old Scott Shetley, and this is thirteen-year-old Lance Kinchen."

Grandma interjected, "Scott and Lance are guitar players out of New York City. Both left with only their guitar cases. Knowing your leaders have a band, and will be teaching music, I knew that they belonged in Ewa Beach."

Gesturing to the younger look-alikes, John continued introducing, "The platinum blond twins are Tanner and Toby Stoeher. They're ten years old. It's easy to tell them apart when they talk; Tanner's the joker and Toby's like his bro's straight man. The two red heads are the McPhearson brothers; Albert is seven and Charles is five." John paused then wrapped an arm around Reyes and introduced him to the seven newbies. "Reyes is our newest team member, but he's actually older than any of our parents. Reyes is an android and the eldest son of two other Core Rimmers. He'll get you clothes and stuff, then show you around our base. By the time all that's done, it'll be dinner time. You guys can decide where you'd like to sleep tonight, in the dorm or in our nest."

Reyes said, "I can tell all you guys are a little freaked out by your expressions. Let's get you guys out of here and to your new home. You'll see, everything's going to be better than fine, it's gonna be very kewl." The boys all stood. Scott and Lance walked around the chairs they had been sitting in to pick up their guitar cases.

Little Charles McPhearson approached Reyes and felt his arm, then took his hand. He asked, "Is you really an an'roid?"

Reyes smiled, "Yup, I have a positronic brain."

Squinting suspiciously, Albert challenged, "You seem like any other real guy."

"Only my brain is a little like a computer; the rest of me is human," Reyes explained.

Taking Reyes' other hand, Toby looked up and smiled, "You're even warm."

Reyes grinned, "Real blood pumping through a real heart to real skin."

Tanner giggled, "Kewl!"

Travis, Scott and Lance gathered around Reyes. Travis asked, "Please tell us that people aren't goin' nuts, like they are in New York?"

Reyes sighed, "Let me tell you what I know happened first, okay?" Seeing seven nodding heads, Reyes explained, "Romulans masquerading as humans took advantage of us. They saw that people were angry about the California orphanages and the company that owned them. The Romulans tried to make a bad situation worse, by directly attacking major cities, or by inciting riots in other big cities, like New York. Then survival instinct took over for other people, which only added to the chaos. In Honolulu, we have some people protesting still, but compared to other big cities, mostly everything is fine. On our base at Ewa Beach, it's very much like every other day. We're all very safe there. We've been fed breakfast and lunch, we'll be fed dinner, and you'll all have warm places to sleep. You'll make new friends with some of the other two-hundred kids on our base. It'll take time for cities like New York to recover and rebuild, but your lives have already changed for the better. You're safe now."

Scott nodded and smiled, "What're we waiting for? Let's go."

"Don't worry, boys; I will be personally checking on your living conditions before the day is over," Grandma stated. "I expect you to take care of each other and help the boys in Hawaii to welcome the other youth that will be joining you. Understood?"

Seven boys chorused, "Yes, grandma."

Reyes tapped his comm-badge, calling, "Alden, please transport me and our seven newbies directly to the CIC basement store."

By three o' clock, the Pacific Rim Division bases at Hawaii, Maui and Kauai were filled. Each location notified their leaders of the status. When they finished at the bases, the teams were transported to Kaho'olawe to assist with refugees there. There seemed to be thousands waiting still for assistance. All three teams went right to work setting up additional staging areas and calling people over to be assigned residences. What many of them didn't see was the flurry of activity from Starfleet and the Army Corps of Engineers from many States working to get more condominiums, dormitories, homes and townhomes built and made available.

In the Command Center, Prez and Keith worked to get Hawaiian news, radio and television reporters to come to Ewa Beach at seven that evening for an announcement by King Aalona. All the reporters had to be identified and have appropriate identification to be allowed on base. Once they were done with that, they made all the gathered information available to UNIT security.

About five minutes after three, the Command Center received a call on an outside phone line. This was meant to be commonly used for public calls to Pacific Rim Division, expected to be emergency calls. With his butt sore and unable to comfortably sit, Prez had been standing, roaming around the room the last hour-and-a-half. Jimmy was closest and most available to answer the phone. "Family Clan Short, Pacific Rim Division Headquarters," Jimmy formally stated, and then asked, "Please state the nature of your emergency?" Concerned that there might be a need for an extraction, on this of all days, Keith and Prez went over and stood by Jimmy, preparing to call Derrick, Mike, Sean, Troy, and even wake Kaleo and Tory, if need be. Jimmy prompted, "Ma'am, please calm down, take a few deep breaths, and try to tell me again what's wrong." After a pause, Jimmy nodded, "Yes, Ma'am. You're in luck, because Director O'Brian is standing right behind me. Please wait a moment." Pressing the 'hold' button on the phone, Jimmy turned around saying, "It's Ms. Laxmi Diaz. Isn't that your old music teacher, Prez?"

Prez nodded, "Yep. What's the problem?"

Jimmy explained, "Because of the parents of two students complaining about losing their places in the band, she was summarily fired today. She's hoping we can help her before she loses her house."

Keith smirked, "Bobby and Sheryl again; Mister and Miss Stuck-Up."

Prez asked Jimmy for the phone and gestured to be taken off hold. Prez said into the phone, "Hi Mrs. Diaz." He paused for a long while, scowling and then frowning while he listened to his teacher's more thorough explanation of what had happened. He then said, "Don't worry about a thing, okay? We have schools right here on base. Come on over tomorrow. We'll have you chat with our mom, at Federation Youth Services, and then get S.O.P. telepathic scans, and then talk with the Clan Short Education Adviser. We'll pay you more than you were getting paid and provide you with on-base housing. You, your husband and family can move here and then rent or sell your other house. This problem is resolved to your benefit and to ours, because we need teachers still."

After another brief pause, Prez chuckled, "It's easy. I told you yesterday and Monday, I'm in charge here. My mom is Director of F.Y.S for the Pacific Rim. So unless you've been really good at hiding some very uncharacteristic personality flaws that I've missed, you'll be working here Monday. And we won't fire you because two stuck-up kids bitched to their parents, who just so happened to make sizable cash contributions to the school. As for your husband, we can either find him a job on-base, which is preferred, or make arrangements so he can continue his job off-base. I know we need help in our medical departments, so it would be advantageous for us to help him get his degree and license as quickly as possible." Prez paused again then chuckled, "Good, you've made my day too. I'll let me mom know that she can expect you tomorrow morning about eleven. Have a good night. Yes, it will be good to see you again too. Bye."

Prez passed the phone back to Jimmy then smirked, "Their loss is our gain. We've got a new music and math teacher waiting in the wings." Tapping his comm-badge, Prez called, "Mom, are you busy?"

"I do have a future employee in my office," Jennifer replied, and then asked, "What's wrong, Preston?"

"Nothing's wrong," Prez chuckled, "as a matter of fact it's pretty good news. I just wanted to let you know that our old music teacher, Ms. Diaz, will be coming in tomorrow morning about eleven for an interview. Her husband is also coming. He's an intern, finishing up his dental degree."

"I'll mark them in my schedule," Jennifer said.

Knowing his mom was busy and not alone, Prez suggested, "We'll talk more about it during dinner, mom."

"That's fine," Jennifer said, and then asked, "How're you feeling?"

"I'm good, mom, as long as I'm standing," Prez chuckled. Keith and several other boys in the room sniggered.

Jennifer ordered, "Get some rest, Preston."

"I will; in about fifteen minutes, Troy and Sean will relieve us, and then we'll go back to our townhouse."

Jennifer said, "Good. Mom out."

In a very poor Irish brogue, Jimmy teased, "I'll let me mom know?"

Shrugging indifferently, but smiling widely, Prez tapped his comm-badge again, calling, "Mike?"

Obviously by the pools from the sounds, Mike answered, "What's up, Prez?"

Prez explained the story behind Ms. Diaz's situation to Mike. When Prez finished, Mike evilly snickered, "Those Dull Lovers shall pay!"

"Take the gloves off, dude," Prez chortled.

"The Scoobies will take care of Bobby's and Sheryl's families by day's end," Mike promised.

"Not one Shiny is to be left in the house, bro," Prez smiled.

"If they have a brushed steel fridge, it and everything in it is ours," Mike chuckled.

"Kewl beans. Prez out."

Keith laughed, "Prez! Can you do that?"

Prez shrugged, "I just did. Good teachers shouldn't lose their job because two stuck-up brats whined and complained. They were sucky musicians in the first place; now we know they're selfish sucky people too."

"The codeine in those pills is affecting your accent and judgment," Keith giggled.

A group of four leprechauns popped into the Command Center. Celtic music loudly played and all four began doing a jig. All the boys in the room, including Keith, loudly laughed. Prez clapped his hands to keep time with the dancers and music. After about thirty seconds, all the music stopped and the leprechauns bowed, then disappeared.

Prez groaned, "Aw, I was just starting to get into it too."

Since the sudden appearances and disappearances didn't faze Prez in the least, Keith howled laughing.

Sean and Troy stepped into the room to the remaining laughter and grinned. Prez sniggered, "I am not stoned. I'm a little disturbed about the shit last night with the H.L.F., and all the stuff we've had to deal with ever since, all night and into today. Bobby and Sheryl are stuck-up brats, and their parents are just as bad, causing a really good teacher to lose her job. We've all lost some of our innocence because of today's crap." Prez paused, then imitated Mike, laughing, "The Shiny Haters know not the shine they have within, and will therefore lose all their hoarded shiny belongings, starting with these two families."

Parking his butt in a chair and covering his face, Keith giggled, "Thank goodness Lieutenant Vorik isn't here to witness this."

"It's perfectly logical," Prez grinned at his hubby. "I can't prosecute them for being inconsiderate assholes, but karma levels everything out."

Keith hysterically wheezed, "Yeah, karma, right!"

Prez and Keith turned over the Command Center to Sean and Troy. Outside by the pools, Mike called the Scoobies and shared that Shiny Leader Prez had given them an assignment. Mike's only request was that the Scoobies stay together and keep one another safe. Proud of their assignment from the division director, the ferrets immediately went to work, learning where the Dull Loving families lived and planning their infiltration from the safety of their Shiny Vault.

Five-year-old Dulce Kentesius, one of the Latin King kids rescued from Los Angeles, was over by the playground with many of the other younger kids. She sat in the grass by herself, but would occasionally giggle and speak. Not very far away, climbing one of the jungle-gyms, Prince Kiami, Dillon, Geoff and Lenny noticed the new girl. Wondering why she was alone and talking to herself, the four boys went over and sat in the grass with her. As the eldest in their group, Lenny introduced the other boys and asked the girl her name.

Dillon gently asked, "Are you feeling lonely, Dulce? Do you miss your mommy and daddy?"

Shaking her head, Dulce answered, "Daddy died a long time ago, when I was a baby. Mommy was arrested. I was living with my aunt and cousins, Antonia and Barbara Nepos." She pointed to Antonia, who appeared only a little older than Dulce. The two girls waved to each other. Antonia went right back to playing with the other kids on the merry-go-round.

The four boys were confused and glanced at each other. Since he didn't see any of the older boys knew what was going on, Geoff blurted out, "Who were you talking to?"

Looking down, Dulce shyly admitted, "The Hawaiian boy. He says he was a prince."

"I'm a Prince too," Kaimi quickly said. "My daddy is the King of the Republic Of Hawaii." He then wondered, "In what country is your friend a Prince?"

Dulce frowned, "He ran away. You boys scared him, I guess."

The boys shrugged. Lenny smiled, "Let us know if he comes back. We'd like to meet your friend."

"Okay," Dulce giggled, and waved as the four boys got up and said goodbye. They started back toward the jungle-gyms.

Geoff paused and turned around. He shyly asked, "Umm... if you want, you can come play with us?"

Dulce checked with her new Teddy bear, named Aster. The Teddy offered its hand and smiled, "Let's go play." In moments, Dulce and Geoff were climbing the jungle-gym.

At three-thirty the alarm clock in Kaleo's and Tory's dorm room went off with music from Hawaiian radio station 92.7 KHWI. The Eagles hit Get Over It was playing. The waking boys especially liked the line, 'I'd like to find your inner child and kick its little ass,' and started giggling into their kiss. Proud of the great work done by Clan Short all night, they made love. Kaleo entered Tory and kept going until they were close to climaxing. Kaleo then switched positions, rolled a condom onto Tory's cock and went for a ride. Since they were already close, they didn't last more than two minutes. Kaleo shot a whopper onto Tory's chest and belly. Seeing that, Tory gave up the battle and filled his rubber. After that pleasant start to their day, they cuddled for a few minutes, chatting about the changes in their lives over the week and waiting for their erections to deflate before taking a shower. The two Core Rimmers got status updates from Alden while under the hot showers. As soon as they were finished, dried off and dressed, Kaleo and Tory decided they would eventually take a quick trip to Kaho'olawe, to check on refugee relocation and take a look around.

Stepping out of their dorm, Kaleo and Tory first went to the CIC for some food, since they hadn't had breakfast or lunch. Miguel fixed the boys breakfast sandwiches and vitamin fortified milkshakes. They hadn't sat down with their trays when Marvin Perkins led a group of young boys from the Anaheim and San Diego orphanages into the dining room. With the little guys were their new Teddy bears. All the kids were a little hungry and wanted a snack, but when they saw the two Core Rimmers were awake, they stopped briefly to let them know that a bunch of teenagers were helping with Battle of Earth people, and that Prez and Keith had been around base since before lunch. "Prez even showed everyone his burned butt," some of the boys giggled. Kaleo and Tory already knew what the little guys were telling them, but let them ramble on simply because they were showing signs of adjusting to their new lives.

Once the mini-news team seemed to run out of steam, Kaleo prompted the kids to get some food and return to the table, so they could all eat together. The boys hurried to the kitchen. Kaleo grinned, "We'd better be prepared."

With his bacon, egg and cheese sandwich already in hand, Tory paused, wondering, "Prepared for what?"

"Adopting," Kaleo sniggered.

Tory whimpered, then suggested, "Let's wait for the question to be asked, huh?" Kaleo nodded, then bit into his sandwich. Around the food he was chewing, Tory asked, "Do you think we can be parents?"

Kaleo shrugged, "I'd like to try, which means I sure won't act like the assholes at the orphanage. Let's watch how our Core Rimmer brothers and their parents deal with their kids. Maybe ask some questions, before any kids ask us if we would be parents." Seeing Marvin and the first set of boys returning, they clammed up and ate.

Behind Marvin was Leonard Santana. Behind Leonard was Mark Fikes, carrying a tray with a lunch meat sandwich and a small drink. The latter two boys were walking slowly and carefully, but they somehow managed to fumble, causing both trays to fall. Marvin quickly put his tray down on the nearest table. Kaleo and Tory got up to help the boys. By the time they reached the kids, all three were in tears and the others coming out of the kitchen seemed ready to cry too. Kaleo and Tory helped all the boys get their trays onto the same table where Marvin had placed his tray, then set about relieving the crying and very upset boys. On his knees to be at eye level with the kids, Kaleo assured, "The trays get heavy and accidents happen."

"This ain't like California, guys," Tory added. "When accidents happen, you won't be punished or yelled at."

"Or told that's all the food there is," Kaleo explained. "What we do here is just help clean up." He showed the boys what was meant by picking up the plastic trays. Tory carefully picked up the plates that had fallen. Remarkably, one broke clean in half while the other didn't even have a chip.

Working in the kitchen that afternoon was fourteen-year-old ex-prostitute Christian Beresford. He rolled a bucket and mop into the dining room, grinning, "Well, we got past a few days without saying grace. Now we get to say it twice." While Kaleo and Tory helplessly sniggered, Christian went to work cleaning up. Not understanding the joke, but seeing the two leaders smiling, the boys calmed down to sniffles. Kaleo was about to lead them back to the kitchen for replacements when Miguel rolled a cart into the room with two replacement sandwiches for the boys.

"Look at this!" Kaleo cheered. "No big deal, guys. Even Miguel did his part and got you fresh food made up."

Mark and Leonard humbly said "Thank you" to Miguel.

Miguel carefully picked up pieces of the two broken glasses, then took the remains to the kitchen. Tory went to the kitchen to dump one plate into the trash and put the other on the dishwasher shelf. He returned to the dining room, then went to get his and Kaleo's trays to bring them to the table where many of the boys were already sitting.

Miguel made eye contact with Kaleo, then offered, "Maybe we should make these first rows of tables, close to the kitchen, just for the younger kids?"

Kaleo nodded, "That sounds like a great idea. Have some signs made up for that, please." Kaleo then called Alden to have a group of twenty tables near the kitchen replaced with child-sized tables. Returning his attention to Mark and Leonard, Kaleo warmly smiled, "It's all over now. Nobody yelled or screamed or punished you guys at all, right?" All the kids nodded and some vocally confirmed that everything was kewl.

Putting Kaleo's tray down at the table, Tory started praying, "For what we are about to receive..."

"may the Lord make us truly grateful," Christian chorused with Tory.

"And just a little less graceful," Miguel softly joked. He then turned and headed back to the kitchen.

All the boys now got the joke and giggled, "Amen." Mark and Leonard where blushing bright pink and still giggling when Kaleo and Tory sat with the boys at the table.

Tory asked what the boys had been doing so far. He got the usual answers, that they had spent much of the days at the pool or at the playground. Some had been inside the rec center, but they were only exploring. All the boys liked sleeping in the Hunders' basement nest the prior night. They went there with all the other little kids, but didn't get to play any of the video games because they were very tired. Kaleo reminded them of the three-hour time zone difference. To them, nine-thirty at night felt more like half-past midnight. Pointing across the dining room, Tory reminded them that they could go to the rec room anytime they wanted to play video games.

Once all the boys had finished their mid-afternoon snack, Kaleo told them that he and Tory needed to check out what was going on in the Command Center. Heading to the kitchen dishwasher, Kaleo and Tory helped the little guys with trays and glasses, then let them look inside the Command Center. Not seeing the Vulcan Lieutenant in the room, Kaleo asked Sean where Vorik was. "We sent him off to get some sleep late this morning," Sean answered. When the group of small boys had seen enough of the Command Center, they thanked Kaleo, then took off to return to the pool. Kaleo and Tory went inside and got briefed about what had happened since they went to bed that morning.

All four Core Rimmers were curious about what was going on at Kaho'olawe. Kaleo and Tory called for their security, then transported to the island's new airport hangar, where refugees were being processed by Rimmer volunteers. After taking a bus trip with Carl Seibert, Kaleo and Tory were simply amazed with all the development that had been done and was still going on. Down the center of Broadway, a monorail track had been built. The monorail train was still being prepared, but was expected to be online before sunset. The island now had a population of two-hundred thousand, many of which were seen from the bus windows walking along the sidewalks beside streets. When Kaleo and Tory transported back to the Command Center, Sean and Troy took a trip to Kaho'olawe.

Brandon Phillips spent most of the afternoon at the pools with Colin, Alien, Mini and the double-twins from Des Moines, and slightly less time with the quadruple 'R's', mostly because Ralphie was occupied with Pat, and Richie was spending time with Carrol and Terrence. Colin seriously asked Brandon, "Would you consider moving to Des Moines?" and then quickly added, "We'll be spending lots of time visiting here, and Rimmers will eventually visit us there too. You all have comm-badges, so you can visit your cousins anytime you want."

Alien added, "The Rimmers now have three androids and we don't have any at Des Moines. You'd be an important addition to our team, Brandon."

Brandon shrugged, "I don't see that as a problem at all, since we can visit each other easily. Let me just talk to Chauncey and Fred about it." In the pool playing water polo with many other tweens, Fred and Chauncey were closest to Robbie and Ronnie.

When Brandon called for Fred and Chauncey, Fred held up his hands in a 'T' shape and hollered, "Time out!"

Chauncey and Fred waded to the side of the pool and climbed out. Brandon explained the situation to his cousins, carefully watching Chauncey for any signs that he might not be ready for a separation. Once he heard the entire explanation, Chauncey was the first to tell Brandon, "That's totally kewl, cousin. It'll be only a little different than home. We lived in the same house, but you sometimes went places with your folks and we did stuff with ours too."

Fred checked with Chauncey, "Are you really sure? It won't be like home, where we were together part of every day. We might not always get to see Brandon every day. It'll be very different from home."

"What isn't different?" Chauncey giggled, and purposefully glanced around at the exposed dicks in their group. He then reminded, "Skinny dippin' is something we'd do at home maybe once or twice every summer. Here, it's normal. When we miss each other and want to see each other, even if it's only for an hour or two, we can do it easily enough. Another bonus is Neil visiting us here or Brandon in Des Moines; it gives him two places to go now and then."

Pleased beyond words, Brandon hurried to give Chauncey and then Fred hugs, whispering in their ears, "I really love you." He then told Alien, Colin, Mini and his cousins, "We'll have dinner together here and then leave afterward." Once that was agreed to, Brandon, Colin, Alien and Mini were invited to join them playing water polo for a while.

All six jumped in the pool and Fred yelled, "Time in!" The teams were uneven and had to be redistributed, but soon the game was in motion.

Resting his head on Keith's lap, Prez had fallen asleep in the living room of their townhouse. Lowering the television volume, Keith closed his eyes and quickly fell asleep. When they woke after an hour nap, Keith led his husband upstairs to the master bathroom for a shower. Some of the blisters on Prez's tush had already popped, Keith noticed, and checked the robe for bloody drainage. Keith suggested a quick trip to see Doc Andrews, which Prez reluctantly agreed to. Stepping out of the townhouse before five that afternoon, they went to the F.Y.S. building.

Surprisingly, there was a room with six bio-beds. Doc Andrews had Prez lay on a bio-bed for another quick scan. While the bed did its job, Doc Andrews checked Prez's robe. Laying there impatiently, Prez said, "Hey Doc, that robe really isn't working out. It's one thing to hang out naked at the pools, but now I'm the only Clan Division Director that can say he's flashed the future President of the United States, our King, and Uncle Colin's head of security too." Keith cracked up.

Softly sniggering, Doc Andrews returned to the bio-bed, offering, "How about a terrycloth shower wrap with a Velcro fastener instead? Then you're only showing off your leg."

"Works for me," Prez cheered.

Checking the readings on the bed, Doc Andrews nodded, "Remember to keep it on, Preston. I need to check for drainage. You're going to feel some tingling on your backside and feet while the bed keeps our Flashing Director free of infections." For another minute, the bed did its job while Keith sat in a nearby chair chuckling. When the bio-bed was finished, Doc Andrews proclaimed, "All set," and offered a hand to help Prez sit, reminding, "No pools until tomorrow night, after I check you over again. Assuming you're doing just as well, you'll be able to put on shorts and underwear again right after, although I'd doubt they'll feel very comfortable."

Sitting on the edge of the bio-bed, Prez queried, "When then?"

"Probably Sunday morning, you'll be clothed, at least when you're not in the pool," Doc Andrews replied, and then had Alden get a terrycloth shower wrap and T-shirt for Prez.

Scowling and curling his lips, Prez told Keith, "We never go more than two days without rehearsing. Our kids are gonna want our band to play tomorrow." Keith nodded, smiled and gestured an open palm to Doc Andrews.

Handing Prez the wrap and T-shirt, Doc Andrews shrugged, "If you're comfortable and awake to do so, that's fine. Rest when your body says it's time, Preston. It may seem a waste to you, but your body is recovering and sending you the signals needed to get well faster."

Keith offered, "Let's set up another movie for the kids tonight, baby. I'll have Kaleo check around and see if the older kids want to watch another movie afterward." Nodding, Prez pushed off the bio-bed, landed on his feet and put the wrap on. Holding out the new white T-shirt, Prez read the words printed in large letters across the back. Smirking, he showed it to Keith.

I flashed the
U.S. President
and The King
of the R.O.H.
at the same time!

Again, Keith cracked up.

"Alden!" Prez laughed.

Over the ceiling mounted speakers, Alden giggled, "You've got bragging rights no other Clan Director can match, Prez."

Tossing the shirt on the bio-bed, Prez nodded and giggled, "Let's not advertise it, especially to the King or Uncle Colin. Put that on the bed in my townhouse and get me another T-shirt. I promise to wear that one after the King and Uncle Colin have left."

"Okay," Alden giggled. The new white T-shirt vanished. In its place, a white Beatles Abbey Road T-shirt appeared.

"Excellent," Prez chirped, and pulled the Abbey Road T-shirt over his head.

Doc Howard stepped into the open doorway and smiled, "Fashionable yet not too gaudy."

Finger combing his hair, Prez giggled, "At least I'm not showing off my goods to every visiting dignitary on the planet."

Glancing at the two doctors, Keith asked, "Will you be coming to dinner?"

"As soon as I finish off a report on our Flashing Head Rimmer," Doc Andrews grinned.

Taking Prez's hand, Keith chuckled, "We'll see you at the dining room." They left the treatment room and the F.Y.S. building then started for the CIC Keith grumbled, "Dammit, I forgot your pills, Prez."

Prez nodded, "Right after dinner, T'hy'la." They walked into the dining room. All the Rimmer sons and their parents' kids, and the majority of the other rescued kids were already inside. The various refugee helpers who had volunteered were back home too. John, Stephen, Derrick, Mike, Kaleo, Tory, Troy and Sean approached. Prez asked, "How're things goin', dudes?"

Kaleo answered, "We're good locally, Prez. We might have some of those kids you were lookin' for, to act as dorm leaders. Today we got help with refugee relocation from Relud and Inoyra Glith, Horacio Sulin, Sonia Baugh, Arnold Smithson, Jerrold Hebda, Roy Angulo, Gerald Mayers, Adrienne Norensis, Bianca Heres, Liki Keoloha, Keanu Hekekia, Corbin Sancho, Dominic Crassus, Stephen Wickes, Aaron Farris, Nell Deckert and Mollie Mcelhannon. All of them did fantastic jobs. They kept working through lunch. Afterward, the twelve that were at our other bases went and helped at Kaho'olawe, then were relieved by Oceanic Division. Tory and I went to Kaho'olawe for a little while today, just to have a look around. That little barren island is gorgeous and populated now. Elsewhere around the world, things are pretty well fucked. Common landmarks all over are either damaged or destroyed."

Tory added, "Population is two hundred thousand and growing. Some people are already doing stuff, working in their regular jobs, just at a new place. The food court at Seibert Mall was hoppin' with people."

Sean nodded, "What's really awesome is the diversity; Americans, British, Chinese, Japanese, Mexicans and Russians, all coexisting and getting along."

Derrick nodded, "Our population is up by seventeen too, Prez. Reyes picked up three from Colorado, two of which will stay here, and one will go to Des Moines. My mom picked up two girls. The other thirteen were all refugees from Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Reyes picked ten up in two trips. Drew and Corey came back with the last three brothers. We're up to two hundred forty-nine."

Mike offered, "We'll take you around to meet them. Two play guitar, Scott Shetley and Lance Kinchen. Lance came out of New York City with his Gold Top Les Paul. Scott met Lance on the way to The Meadowlands, with his Strat, and they've been together ever since. I'd expect some more kids as the night progresses."

"Reyes is ready for more rescues," Derrick slyly grinned. "He's got his own PADD running Pissed Off Chickens."

Prez cheered, "Competition! Sweetness!"

Troy smiled, "Our ex-Latin King kids were worried about loved ones in and near Los Angeles. We let them use phones and call whomever they wanted for as long as they wanted. Sean, Kaleo, Tory and I went to Hawaii, Maui and Kauai, just to quickly check things out for ourselves. We were only gone for fifteen minutes, but reports from Starfleet security were positive. This war was a definite pain in the ass, pardon the pun, Prez; but if this is the result, people treating each other with consideration and respect, it's long overdue."

Prez giggled, "From now on, when folks talk about a pain in the ass around here, everybody's gonna be looking at me."

"Face it, bro," John cackled, "your injury is symbolic of the whole war. And we know it was the Romulans that stirred everything up, too." John read Prez's next thought and silently replied, 'The H.L.F. is screwed now. We have entire families under arrest. Everyone that can be re-educated will be. All the rest are being held accountable for two deaths at the King's Palace, and the deaths at the Hyatt Regency. I'd give you numbers of H.L.F., but we're not done gathering them all. Roughly about two-thousand under arrest, so far, from around the world.'

Prez asked, "What's for dinner?"

Stephen giggled, "Italian buffet, featuring..." Stephen spun around, signaling the mass of kids.

Enthusiastically, over two hundred voices shouted, "Pizza!"