Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Chapter 1

Note from the Clan Short Universe Creator: Way back in the times B.C. (Before CSU) I used to read the writings of an author who I thought was totally awesome. This author was TheEggman; and I mourned with the rest of the Net when he had to pull the Glass Onion offline. Fast forward to the year 8 A.C. (After CSU). With great fanfare, one of my idols agreed to join us in voice and allow his stories to be hosted on Roland's Castle. Within no time, I was awestruck to find that he was diligently catching up on the little Universe that had started with a dream back in 2002. Before I knew it, ideas were bouncing for him to add his own input into this ever-expanding mosaic known as the CSU.

I am awestruck and proud to be able to announce the debut of the results of these conversations. Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls... I hereby present to you Clan Short - Pacific Rim Division. Welcome to the family, Eggman; you have made my decade!


Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
they slither while they pass they slip away across the universe.
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind,
possessing and caressing me.
Jai Guru Deva Om
Nothing's gonna change my world.
Nothing's gonna change my world.
Nothing's gonna change my world.
Nothing's gonna change my world.
John Lennon, 1968

In another dimension, seven boys and their families meet and become friends.
They are similar to the boys you know from a different dimension yet there are subtle differences. Here you will learn that while variations exist,
they are still striving to make the world they live in a better place.

Republic Of Hawaii, Ewa Beach, Oahu

October 29, 2004 2:20 PM

"Okay, boys," Mrs. Diaz loudly sniggered, while all four teens giggled hysterically at yet another series of musical flubs. She then reminded, "Michael, follow the piano lead, please."

Struggling to keep a straight face, Mike Gibbons complained, "It's boring though, Mrs. Diaz. I'm strummin' these chords forever. What's wrong with doubling the melody, at least some of the time?"

Mrs. Diaz sighed and explained, "There's nothing wrong with that idea, but you're taking a serious rock tangent. The song is jazz. This is a jazz ensemble. That means no distortion, no Hendrix acrobatics and no wiggling your buns around to the point of distraction."

Mike shyly smiled and blushed. Unable to hold it in any longer, Derrick, Keith and Preston roared laughing. As freshmen, the four boys were amongst the most talented musicians at James Campbell High School; they were the rhythm section, the core of the larger jazz ensemble; Derrick Seibert on drums and percussion, Preston O'Brian on upright bass and electric bass guitar, Keith Hundser on keyboards and vocals, and finally Mike Gibbons on acoustic and electric guitars.

Raising his hand, Preston asked, "Can we change tunes real quick, Mrs. Diaz?"

Eying them suspiciously, Mrs. Diaz nodded, "Which song... as if I didn't already know?"

Glancing at each of his friends, Preston replied, "Weird." All four boys rapidly nodded.

"That would get us back on track," Keith promised.

Mrs. Diaz sighed, "All right," then quickly added, "but before you leave today, I want to hear The 'In' Crowd all the way through." Getting four positive replies, she went over to the PA system and powered it on then went to take a seat behind her desk. Derrick picked up his headset and adjusted it on his head while Preston and Mike moved in front of the one microphone on a floor stand.

Flipping the microphone switch, Keith tapped it to verify it was on. He then checked that the Roland RS-5 synthesizer sitting atop the baby grand piano was working. Quickly, he changed the settings to Hammond Organ and played the opening chord. All four boys then sang the opening chord in perfect four-part harmony. Keith nodded at Derrick, signifying he was ready.

Softly, Derrick counted out the tempo, then began the opening cymbal swell. Together they began playing the introductory chords. Keith played both the Yamaha baby grand piano and the synthesizer, then began sweetly singing.

Isn't it weird? Isn't it strange?
Even though we're just two strangers on this runaway train
We're both trying to find a place in the sun
We've lived in the shadows, but doesn't everyone?
Isn't it strange how we all feel a little bit weird sometimes?

All four boys had harmonized the first bridge beautifully, Mrs. Diaz believed. When they liked the song they were playing, they were amazing. She dutifully listened to the remainder of the song.

Yeah. Ooo. Isn't it hard? Standing in the rain.
Yeah, you're on the verge of going crazy and your heart's in pain
No one can hear, but you're screaming so loud
You feel like you're all alone in a faceless crowd
Isn't it strange how we all get a little bit weird sometimes?
Sitting on the side waiting for a sign, hoping that my luck will change.
Reaching for a hand that can understand, someone who feels the same.
When you live in a cookie cutter world being different is a sin.
So you don't stand out. But you don't fit in. Weird.
Woah-oh! Sitting on the side waiting for a sign, hoping that my luck will change.
Reaching for a hand that'll understand, someone who feels the same.
When you live in a cookie cutter world if you're different you can't win.
So you don't stand out, but you don't fit in. Weird.
Isn't it strange how we all feel a little bit weird
Strange, how we all get a little bit...
Strange, 'cause we're all just a little bit weird sometimes.

As the last tones faded out, Mrs. Diaz stood and wiped her eyes. Walking around her desk, she smiled, "Very well done, boys."

"See, we can do it," Mike emphatically said.

"I know you can," Mrs. Diaz agreed. Leaning against the piano, she instructed, "As professional musicians, you might not always have the choice to play what you want though. That's what I'm trying to teach you; to play what's written on the pages. When it's time to improvise, the sheet music will tell you so." Holding back any remarks about their rock band, all four boys nodded and she asked, "The 'In' Crowd now please; just as well?"

Preston put his Gibson EB-3 electric bass back on its stand and moved over to the upright bass. Sitting down on the piano bench, Keith turned his microphone off.

From behind the drum kit, Derrick called, "Mike?" and suggested, "Put the Strat down and play the acoustic, dude." Sighing, Mike did as his boyfriend asked, knowing they wouldn't get out of school until finishing the song correctly. Preston giggled as Mike put the amp on standby, then moved the cable from the Stratocaster to the Martin DC-16RGTE acoustic-electric. Rolling his eyes and shaking his head, Keith silently wondered if they would ever be able to start the weekend. Derrick then called out the count and they began playing. During the first bars of the song, Mike clapped his hands. Then he began strumming chords for the next two refrains. During the next two repeated sections, Mike doubled the piano melody easily. Mrs. Diaz signaled to begin playing softer, so slowly over the next sixteen bars, the band dynamics went from fortissimo to pianissimo. Derrick was playing his snare and cymbals with his fingertips. Preston climbed up onto the upright bass, balancing himself on the instrument to play the deepest notes available as softly as possible. Fearing for Preston's safety, Mrs. Diaz watched him more carefully and prepared to react should the instrument slip. For another twenty-four bars they played as softly as possible. The final bell rang, startling all four boys, but they never lost composure and quietly played on. Then they suddenly went back to fortissimo and played the final section.

More than pleased with near virtuoso performances from all four, Mrs. Diaz clapped and smiled, "Next week we play before the entire student body and then, over next weekend, in front of your parents. You boys are opening the show."

"YES!" all four boys excitedly cheered.

While the boys began gathering their sheet music, Mrs. Diaz reminded, "The 'In' Crowd first, then Weird, then the rest of the ensemble joins you for In The Mood and the remainder of the show."

"They're gonna be blown away," Derrick snickered.

Rapidly nodding his agreement, Mike smiled, "This year's band kicks serious ass!"

"Michael!" Mrs. Diaz shouted causing Mike to momentarily shrink.

"Sorry," Mike sincerely offered.

Staring the boy down for a long few moments, Mrs. Diaz then smirked, "Go on, be on your way. Have a good weekend." She got a chorus of replies while they packed their instruments.

With his bass guitar packed, Prez carried it over to Keith and melodically whispered, "Can't take my eyes off of you."

While packing up his RS-5, Keith softly sang à cappella; "You're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off of you. You'd be like heaven to touch, I wanna hold you so much. At long last love has arrived, and I thank God I'm alive. You're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off of you."

Derrick began tapping his sticks together and sang harmony with Mike as they walked out of the classroom. Keith continued singing to Prez: "Pardon the way that I stare, there's nothing else to compare. The sight of you leaves me weak, there are no words left to speak. But if you feel like I feel, please let me know that it's real. You're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off of you."

Prez joined the harmony vocals then Keith loudly sang down the empty school hallway; "I love you baby, and if it's quite all right, I need you baby to warm a lonely night. I love you baby, trust in me when I say. Oh pretty baby, don't bring me down I pray. Oh pretty baby now that I found you stay. And let me love you baby, let me love you."

Walking out of school and across the fields the foursome continued singing.

Waiting on the bleachers by the football field like they did every school day, sat Drew and Corey. Interrupting Corey's rambling about Drew's participation in a great touch football play during PE, Drew began snickering.

"What?" Corey wondered.

"Listen, here they come," Drew giggled. As the foursome approached, they all loudly sang to their partners; "I love you baby, and if it's quite all right, I need you baby, to warm a lonely night. I love you baby, trust in me when I say. Oh pretty baby, don't bring me down I pray. Oh pretty baby, now that I found you, stay. Oh pretty baby, don't bring me down I pray. Oh pretty baby, now that I found you, stay. And let me love you baby, let me love you." Bringing up the rear, Drew and Corey followed and sang along as they continued the walk home up Pailani Street.

Approaching Komana Street, Mike said, "We'll see ya in about an hour."

At the corner, Keith nodded, "We'll meet you here."

"Kewl, kewl," Derrick chanted.

Glancing over at Drew, Keith wondered, "Ya coming home or goin' over to Corey's?"

Drew shrugged and Corey happily answered, "Over my house."

Prez asked, "Are you coming to the beach with us?"

After wordlessly checking with each other, Drew then replied, "Sure, we'll meet you here by the park."

Keith reminded, "Remember to tell your folks about the luau, Corey."

Corey gasped, then smiled, "Thanks, I did forget." At the corner of Pailani and Ahona Streets, Corey and Drew went left while Keith and Prez went to the right.

After a few silent steps together, Keith looked over at Prez. Like every October for the past two years, Prez was deep in thought again. Remembering that horrible day when the O'Brian's small plane crashed into the Pacific, Keith reached for his boyfriend's hand and squeezed tightly. It took three nightmarish days to recover the plane and their bodies. Thankfully, Prez's parents had made prior arrangements with Keith's parents. But what would it feel like to be orphaned at only twelve-years-old, Keith often asked himself. They walked into the house and went upstairs to their bedroom.

Once their instruments and backpacks were put away, they met at the foot of the bed. Longingly sighing, Prez moved closer to Keith. They hugged then gently kissed and Prez rested his head on Keith's shoulder softly whispering, "I'm sorry, babe."

"Don't be," Keith assured. "I understand."

Prez wondered, "Will I ever be able to deal with Octobers?"

Keith huffed, "I don't know, Prez. Know that I'll be with you each and every one of 'em."

Nodding slightly, Prez softly admitted, "That's the only thing keeping me sane, I'm certain of it."

Keith tenderly explained, "Besides us living together, we're having the second luau tonight, so something good did come of it. Now all our neighbors get together to celebrate your parents' lives, their own lives and how intertwined we all are. Almost all of us are from the mainland, whether this is the first generation or tenth, we've all made these islands home."

Prez whispered, "I hope everyone doesn't come over to me offering sympathies again."

"If anyone does, we'll just wander off with Mike and Derrick, okay?"

Humming affirmatively, Prez planted a kiss on Keith's cheek, then promised, "Always and forever babe."

Squeezing Prez firmly, Keith repeated, "Always and forever." He then reminded, "You never did tell me what you dreamed last night."

Prez softly recalled, "It was as if we never left Texas. Instead of stuff getting better like it did after we moved here, it got worse. They divorced, but both died anyway. That's when I woke up."

Now understanding why Prez had insisted on never being left alone, Keith repeated his promise from four in the morning. "I will never ever leave you alone baby. I can barely stand being separated part of a school day; forget days or weeks, it ain't gonna happen."

"There's no one on the mainland I would go to. There's only you, your family, and Derrick's and Mike's families. That's it, Keith; I have no one else important to me. It scares me so much sometimes too. Every time your dad has to get in a plane to go over to another island, I'm a nervous wreck." Pausing as a plane flew over head, Prez complained, "All planes freak me out now, even the Air Force jets flying in and out of Hickam."

Feeling Prez quake in his arms, Keith only softly shushed his boyfriend and gently caressed his back for a minute or two. Keith then thought aloud, "Remember how we used to sleep over each other's houses?" Prez nodded and Keith continued, "We've been friends since you moved here, Prez. Remember how when you moved in here, we had bunk beds, like Drew and John?"

Prez giggled, "Yeah, it was embarrassing for a while there."

"It was. We came of age together, Prez," Keith admitted. "No one knows me better than you. No one knows you better than me. Now the bunk beds are gone, replaced by a nice big bed. We sleep together, shower together, play music together..."

"I love it all, Keith, really I do. I just wish..."

"I know baby. It's still a struggle; wanting what we have and them back too. But if they had lived, I really think we'd still have eventually fallen in love. It might've taken longer..."

"Because we weren't hearing each other beatin' off at night," Prez giggled.

"Or me calling your name, or you callin' mine."

"Denying we were gay, but eventually comin' out to each other."

"Then lettin' the 'rents in on our little secret."

"We were so friggin' nervous!" Prez giggled.

"And it was like, a non-event to them. Even Drew and John were like, it's about time. What a waste of two nervous breakdowns."

"Now Drew's heading down the same path with Corey. I wonder if it’s our doing still, even though they both say it's not."

"John's gonna be the big test, but he's only ten."

Prez pulled back and smiled widely, "At ten, how's he gonna figure out his sexuality when we could barely manage at thirteen and Drew's not too sure why he's doin' what he's doin' with Corey?"

"My point exactly," Keith chuckled.

Reaching his hands under Keith's T-shirt and purposefully tapping his fingers around his torso, Prez giggled, "Ready for the beach?"

Clenching his teeth briefly, Keith cackled, "It's so unfair you're not ticklish!" then pushed Prez down on the bed, tore his sneakers and socks off and hurried to get his boyfriend undressed.

Many minutes later, while Keith and Prez were walking downstairs, John threw open the front door and screamed, "DREW! KEITH! PREZ!"

Flying down the remaining steps two at a time, Keith and Prez hollered, "What's wrong?"

As John broke down in tears, Keith and Prez circled him, looking for some sign of injury and repeatedly asked what had happened.

After being led to the living room sofa, John sobbed nonsensically, "Kai... wasn't... school... went.. his... house... no one... there... door... open... place... wrecked... so... much... blo-oo-od... Kai's... dead... know... it!" Keith and Prez put it all together quickly and then John blubbered, "'Nother... sixth... grade... gone... too-ooo! Good... dead... bad... lives... why-hy?"

"Emergency?" Prez asked.

Keith nodded and went to the kitchen to call his mom at work with Prez and John in tow. If something bad did happen to John's friend, he would've likely wound up at her hospital and, being a family trauma counselor, she would know what was going on. But Keith only got her answering machine, which was odd because there was an entire department of counselors and there was a secretary that usually answered who would forward the call to voice mail. "Mom, John just got home from school and he's freakin'. Some kids at his school never showed up, but John went to one kids house..."

"And two other friends, not just me!" John loudly interrupted.

After a pause, Keith frowned, "Okay, scratch that... John and some friends went to a kid’s house and the place was trashed. We figured if a kid was hurt, he'd wind up there and you'd know about it. Can you call us back ASAP? John will wait here for your call. Bye." Hanging up the phone and turning to John, Keith asked, "Better now?"

John shrugged, "Until mom calls back, no, it's not better... but it's all you can do, I guess."

Keith scowled and asked, "What's so special about this kid that you went to his house?"

Loudly whining, John tried to explain, "He's just a kid, like any of us, but... Kai never wants to go home... Kai never ever says anything about his foster dad... and it's like... Kai has a heart attack if someone like... steps up next to him... he flinches and jumps, ya know? But Kai's the nicest guy, really! If he hears anyone mocking anyone else, he gets all kinds o' nutty and... I just know something is really very wrong, okay?"

Understandingly, Prez and Keith slowly nodded. Prez asked, "What do you want to do, kiddo? You can stay here and wait for mom to call, or you can come to the beach and keep yourself occupied?"

Keith suggested, "Why don't ya come with us, bro? You know the 'rents and everyone will be there by sundown for the luau. It's a small island; any problem, like what you're so scared of, would be common knowledge and we'll all know about it soon enough."

John groaned indecisively for a few moments. He sighed, "Lemme call Jeff and Tommy real quick. I told 'em I'd meet 'em anyhow." John jumped up onto the counter to reach the phone and sat there while he dialed his friends. Keith and Prez went to the living room to give John some privacy.

"Keith?" Prez softly began, "From what John said, I'm envisioning a real mess at Kai's place."

Keith nodded thoughtfully and wondered, "How wrecked? How much blood? For all we know, it's nothing." Prez nodded and Keith asked, "How about all of us check it out on the way to the beach?"

"The little tikes need to be kept clear though," Prez recommended.

"Okay," Keith sighed, "Us older dudes will check the place out. If the adults haven't already heard what's happened, our word will carry more weight than exaggerations from younger kids."

Entering the room, John announced, "Jeff and Tommy wanna go to the beach."

"Does Lindsay know about this?" Keith asked.

John nodded, "Course, she didn't look inside, but saw the broken door." As the three boys walked out of the house, John remarked, "It was like... there were huge claw marks in the door bro; like a bear or a lion knocked the door down... so weird."

Locking the door, Keith chuckled, "Come on, John. A bear or a lion; in Hawaii?"

Becoming hysterical as they began the trip back to the park, Prez rambled, "They escaped from the Honolulu zoo, swam across Pearl Harbor, avoided being seen by anyone and stopped at Kai's house for a snack." Keith cracked up and then so did Prez. What an imagination John had, they both silently thought.

Shaking his head sadly, John softly insisted, "See for yourselves; no dog made those marks!" As they walked, John explained, "Kai's eleven. He should be in sixth grade, but he's in fourth because he got left back... he's hardly ever in school this year; like half the time... maybe! And does he ever ask any of us over to play? No. Or for homework? No. Some of us think he wears the same clothes over and over again." John then challenged, "So you tell me, is any of that normal?"

Keith sighed, "John, maybe his parents are poor, or maybe they're native Islanders that choose to be more separate. We simply don't know what their situation is."

Prez wondered, "If you never play or study with him, how do you know where he lives?"

"Me, Jeff and Tommy followed him home once," John meekly offered.

Keith glared at his little brother. "That's just wrong; you infringed on his privacy."

John sighed, "You'd have to know Kai."

Meeting Drew and Corey at the corner as arranged, Keith asked, "Do you two know a kid named Kai?"

John corrected, "Kai Makaokalani."

"Oh, yeah, he used to be in my class," Corey said. "He's not the kind of kid you can really get to know," Corey offered. "He's very quiet."

"See!" John excitedly said.

"Chill, bro," Keith said, "we'll all take a walk over there and check it out with you."

Jeff and Tommy came racing across the park. John hurried to meet them and as usual, the threesome did a goofy three hundred sixty degree hands and arms spin before returning to the sidewalk.

"Where are we goin'?" Prez asked.

John pointed east and Jeff answered, "Hanaloa Street, near Hope Chapel..."

"There's a little dead end side street," Tommy explained.

Keith and Prez grinned at each other over John and his friends’ synchronized performances.

Corey giggled, "The Three Musketeers."

Seeing John sandwiched between Philipino Jeff and African-American Tommy, Drew snickered, "A walking Oreo cookie."

"That's us!" Jeff, John, and Tommy happily cheered and wrapped their arms over their shoulders.

"Besides, who doesn't love Oreos?" John smiled.

"I wouldn't know," Keith smiled, "we can't seem to keep them in the house anymore." The three Oreo cookie monsters hummed hungrily, causing Prez to laugh. Near Komana Street and seeing Mike, Derrick and Lindsay at the corner, Prez held his hand high.

Not waiting for Keith and Prez to get closer, Mike shouted, "Did you hear this crap?"

Prez nodded and hollered, "We're gonna take a side trip to the beach."

Soon, Mike and Derrick joined with Keith and Prez. Behind them, Lindsay moved between John and Tommy. Bringing up the rear were Drew and Corey. "Double stuffed Oreo," Corey giggled.

"You're just jealous!" Lindsay loudly laughed.

Turning and glancing at Keith and Prez, Derrick wondered, "What do you think?"

Keith shrugged and Prez answered, "It's either a bad scene or exaggerations."

In unison, the members of the Double stuffed Oreo loudly insisted, "We didn't exaggerate!"

"We'll soon find out," Mike melodically warned.

John said, "You'll see..."

Lindsay added, "it was horrible..."

Jeff nodded, "the door was broken down..."

Tommy finished. "flat on the ground."

Shaking their heads sadly, the four oldest boys grinned. To prove the little guys weren't so special, Mike then loudly sang Bad Moon Rising. "I see a bad moon rising, I see trouble on the way. "

Derrick joined in for the second verse. "I see earthquakes and lightnin', I see bad times today. "

Prez and Keith added, "Don't go around tonight, well it's bound to take your life, there's a bad moon on the rise." All the way down Pailani Street and across the school field the entire gang sang. Emerging at Kaunolu Street, the youngest kids hurried ahead of the pack. Turning left at Hanaloa Street, they waited in front of Kai's house.

Almost simultaneously, Mike and Derrick gasped, "Holy shit!"

Turning to face the four youngest kids, Keith firmly instructed, "You guys stay here."

From outside, they could see the front door off its hinges and lying on the floor; the drapes on the inside of the front window were hanging crooked as if the curtain rod was only partially knocked down. Having seen enough, Corey and Drew only went as far as the doorway and kept watch for police. Slowly walking on the door and inside the house, Keith, Prez, Mike and Derrick noticed deep and large scrapes in the heavy wooden door. The living room furniture was toppled over and some of it seemed crushed or torn beyond any chance of repair. On the far walls, about five feet off the floor there were streams of dried blood, apparently arterial spray. The four boys checked the other rooms, but found no one. Hurrying back outside again, Prez softly wondered, "Why aren't there any police?"

Keith added, "This is a crime scene; there should be a dozen cops roaming around gathering evidence."

"I told ya so!" John smirked.

Mike pushed past Keith and Prez, quickly heading to the street. Derrick dutifully followed and grabbed the waistband of Mike's shorts when he leaned forward and lost his lunch.

When Mike stood upright again, Derrick rubbed Mike's back and asked, "Better?"

Spitting out the foul taste of bile, Mike nodded, then smirked, "I hate it when that happens."

Behind them, Keith said, "We need to find the police."

Derrick nodded, "Nothing like this has ever happened in this town."

"The nearest cop shop is miles away," Mike reminded.

Prez suggested, "We'll start for the beach and flag one down."

"Good one, bro," Derrick nodded. "If we don't see one on the way, we'll stop at the beach kiosk."

Keith proudly smiled, "That's my baby," and landed a kiss on Prez's cheek. All the younger kids busted up giggling and laughing. Blushing and smiling, Keith shook his head and announced, "Let's get out of here."

"But what about Kai?" John hollered.

Holding his hand up about five feet, Prez said, "The blood was way up here, John."

"That was from an adult, bro," Keith assured. "No eleven-year-old made that mess."

Suddenly, Corey and Drew shouted "HEY!" and raced over to a tree.

Looking around, Drew nervously queried, "You saw them, right?"

Searching high and low, Corey replied, "Two little boys, about seven-years-old, blond and brunette?"

Drew nodded and wondered, "Where'd they go?"

Corey hummed uncertainly and commented, "Weird."

"Come on, dudes," Keith impatiently hollered, "we don't wanna be here if or when the cops show up."

Hurrying over towards the rest of the group, Drew relayed, "There were two little kids over there."

"We both saw them," Corey agreed.

Prez glanced over where Drew and Corey had been and sighed, "Well, they're not around now, so let's vamoose."

After walking silently down Kehue Street for a few minutes, Mike broke the silence. "This is mega-fucked up. Shouldn't that house already have been taped off by police?"

Keith turned and walked backwards. "John, did you go to Kai's right after school?"

All four of the youngest kids nodded and John answered, "We hurried over there from school. Then we all ran home."

"No side trips?" Keith asked.

"Nope," John replied, "there and then home, no place else."

Turning around again, Keith figured; okay, so around an hour ago John and his friends were there. Checking his watch, Keith said, "It's quarter after four now." Looking around carefully, Keith noticed traffic was very light, but a lot of Ewa Beach residents would be preparing for the luau. They would only be passing one small grocery store, Silva's, down by the beach.

Prez softly realized; "There's really no chance of learning what's going on until we get down by the beach, is there?" Keith shook his head. Prez then noticed a few bandmates down by North Road and shouted; "Liko!" When Prez began jogging down the street to meet them, everyone else in the pack followed.

Liko was a sophomore and one of the trumpet players in the jazz band. With him were Makani, Charlie, and Freddie; other musicians from James Campbell High School. Charlie played tenor saxophone and Freddie played alto saxophone. Prez approached them and slowed then he extended his right arm to shake hands and smiled, "How's it going, buds?"

As Prez, Keith, Derrick, and Mike greeted their friends and learned they were heading to the luau too; they all went down North Road and began chatting. Traffic was a bit heavier on North Road and there were other groups of kids heading down to the beach. None of them had heard of Kai or knew anything about the odd situation and in fact, didn't believe half of what Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick were telling them. Remarks from John and his friends didn't really help them understand either. The large group of fourteen teenagers and younger kids walked down Kilaha Street debating the fact that someone was obviously hurt badly in the house and that two grade school kids were missing. It was quarter to five when the pack arrived at Ewa Beach Park.

The parking lot was virtually empty and although the stage was still set up, the PA, lighting system and all the instruments were gone. Off to one side of the stage stood statues of a menehune (a mythical elf rumored to have inhabited the islands before Polynesians) and two lions. The entourage headed towards the beach except for Derrick, Keith, Mike and Prez. They stopped at the stage.

Climbing quickly up onto the stage with Derrick, Mike slouched and growled, "Fuck me!"

Prez and Keith glanced at each other and scowled. Looking up on the stage, Prez loudly said, "Dudes, this proves something is going on that we don't know about."

"We were just here yesterday," Keith reminded. "Practically the whole town is coming to this luau, but where is everyone? We're the first band to perform tonight."

"That's not lookin' very possible," Derrick complained.

"How could everything be set for a town luau yesterday, but be so deserted today?" Prez asked.

"We would've heard about it being canceled at school," Keith insisted. "We're all here, ready to jam and party, but not one adult anywhere? There were at least twenty of 'em doing various things yesterday while we did our sound test. At least one person should be here with leis."

"Tell me this makes sense?" Prez challenged.

Derrick turned to Mike and said, "Look down by the beach, dude. All the tiki torches are gone; the tables for the food, gone too."

"How could we not have heard it was canceled?" Mike whined.

"None of us heard any such thing, bud. Fourteen of us walked here together. There are other kids down by the beach, just no adults. Now, either all of us have taken that final excursion into some demented alternate reality," Prez explained and Keith cracked up, "or something is going on. We just don't know what... yet."

Keith snickered, "All our parents will be here soon. Might as well hang out at the beach."

"Just once I'd like to know what the hell is going on before it happens," Mike loudly bitched as he started for the stage stairs. Keith and Prez watched them momentarily then all four ran over to where the menehune and lions were just minutes earlier.

"Oooo-kay!" Keith droned.

Pointing at the spot where there had been statues, Derrick shouted, "Where did they go?"

"What in the hell is goin' on?" Prez softly wondered.

From the beach, Drew, Corey and John yelled, "KEITH! PREZ!" Seeing the three of them waving them over to the beach, Keith, Prez, Mike and Derrick ran to see what was wrong.

Mike fussed, "I'm gettin' seriously freaked out!"

Standing with Drew, Corey and John was another boy holding a beach blanket. When Keith, Prez, Mike and Derrick arrived, Drew wrapped an arm around the boy and explained, "Bros, this is Bruce. He spent the whole night here on the beach; his mom and dad never came to pick him up."

"Aww," Prez groaned at the scared little boy. It seemed that every other week all summer long, some poor kid was being left behind on the beach. Mike rescued one whose parents were soon found. Derrick bailed out another whose parents had been arrested for public intoxication. Keith had found two and Prez another two, all four of which had been completely abandoned and placed under the care of Child Protective Services.

Kneeling down in the sand in front of Bruce, Keith smiled, "Hey, little guy, my name's Keith."

"Hi," Bruce softly said.

Prez asked, "How old are you, Bruce?"

"Eight," Bruce answered.

Keith asked, "Do you know what happened to your mom and dad?"

Bruce shrugged, "They said they'd come get me before night time," and then he began crying, "but they didn't. I slept here and been here ever since."

John hurried to Bruce and wrapped him in a friendly embrace promising, "We'll make it better."

Keith nodded, "You're safe now, Bruce. My mommy helps people all the time. We'll help find your folks and get you taken care of."

"When's the last time you ate?" Prez wondered.

Bruce whimpered, "Lunch yesterday."

Turning away, Mike softly groaned, "God! Not another one."

Shaking his head sadly, Derrick whispered, "There ought to be a test to become a parent."

Checking his shorts pockets and pulling out a few dollars and some change, Prez smiled, "How about we get you a little something to munch on right now?"

"Really?" Bruce excitedly squeaked.

Keith chuckled, "Really." Standing up, Keith reached into his pocket and pulled out another few bucks and some coins. He and Prez then started back to the park.

John proudly smiled, "I told ya," and took Bruce's hand. Leading Bruce to the vending machines, John explained, "My bros helped some other kids lost like you."

"You guys are really nice," Bruce beamed. "Nobody else helped me all day."

Shaking his head, Drew softly offered, "Some people are just mean, they don't know better."

"That's not us though," Corey quickly added.

Already at the vending machines, Keith got two cans of Hi-C fruit punch while Prez got two packages of cookies and a bag of potato chips. It wasn't much, but after more than a day without food, Bruce needed something in his belly and soon. As John sat down on the bench with Bruce, Keith popped the first can of Hi-C and handed it over to the boy.

Taking the can and quickly drinking, Bruce noticed Prez. "WOW!" Bruce shouted, "All that's for me?"

Uncontrollably chuckling at the boy's enthusiasm, Prez nodded, "You bet; just for you," and offered the first opened package of chocolate chip cookies. "Even though you're hungry, try to eat slow," Prez suggested and then explained, "If you eat too much too fast, you might get a belly ache and you could get sick."

Already chewing the first cookie, Bruce nodded and mumbled, "I'ww twy."

Waiting a few yards away, Mike whispered to Derrick; "I would've shit myself if I was left alone overnight like that."

Derrick softly agreed, "I know dude. Maybe it was something unforeseen though."

"Like what?" Mike excitedly queried.

Derrick shrugged, "A car accident? I dunno."

Mike scowled, "Would your mom leave you alone like that when you were eight?"

Rapidly shaking his head, Derrick giggled, "Around that age, I was only allowed to cross streets in our neighborhood by myself."

Smiling at his boyfriend's candor, Mike playfully suggested, "If we're around when the kid's parents are found, we should slap 'em silly."

Trying not to crack up, Derrick snickered, "A well timed 'accidental' fall could knock 'em down?"

"Oops!" Mike squealed. "So sorry!" Then both boys cracked up laughing.

In the distance, approaching from the parking lot was a woman that looked like it could be Keith's mother. Since John, Keith and Prez were busy with Bruce, Derrick pointed and called, "Drew, is that your mom coming?"

Drew looked closely then sighed, "Finally!" before running off with Corey to meet her.

Within twenty feet of his mother, Drew shouted, "Mom, hurry!"

"Drew and John found another kid left on the beach," Corey added.

"You found him too, all three of us found him," Drew argued.

Mrs. Hundser smiled and then, as each of her hands was taken by the two boys, she began laughing.

"Mom!" Drew incredulously hollered, "what's so funny?"

Corey didn't understand why Drew's mom was laughing either and explained, "Bruce is only eight and was left alone all night!"

As she was being pulled along by Drew and Corey, Mrs. Hundser giggled, "But you boys seem to find other pathetic lost and stranded boys at the drop of a hat. I thought it was over when school started again."

"It's not our fault!" Drew complained, "It's all those stupid parents!"

Raising their eyebrows and attempting to appear innocent, Keith, John and Prez smiled. Keith pointed at the boy stuffing his mouth with cookies and said, "Mom, this is Bruce." Turning to Bruce, Keith introduced his mother. "Bruce, this is our mom, Jennifer Hundser."

"Hello there, sweetie," Mrs. Hundser smiled.

Putting down the can of Hi-C on the bench and swallowing, Bruce looked up and said, "Hi."

Mrs. Hundser leaned over and gently brushed the boy's hair back asking, "What's your last name, Bruce?"

"It's Downing," Bruce answered and nibbled on another cookie.

"Where are you originally from?" Mrs. Hundser asked.

Bruce nervously glanced around at everyone surrounding him while he chewed then softly offered, "Ohio, we was on vacation here, in Honolulu."

Thinking of the dozens of hotel and motels on the other side of the island, Mrs. Hundser nodded then asked, "Do you remember which hotel you were staying at?" Bruce only shook his head and chomped on the final cookie. "That's fine," Mrs. Hundser smiled, "I'm going to talk to the older boys for a few moments, but we aren't leaving you alone again."

Keith gave John the remaining can of Hi-C and Prez gave him the bag of potato chips. Then the four teenagers gathered around Mrs. Hundser. All at once, they began softly chattering until Mrs. Hundser held up her hands in defeat. Turning to Keith, she got the first part of the story about Kai and the wrecked home. She had not heard of Kai or anyone named Makaokalani needing trauma care at Hawaii Medical Center West. Then the questions about the luau began. Mrs. Hundser answered with the only information she knew. "The luau has been relocated to Kauai, near Kalihiwai Bay. I only know because additional medical facilities are being set up there for emergencies. It's no longer just a Ewa Beach event though; the King, Queen and much of Parliament are attending. Even though road traffic is light, air traffic has tripled. We've got a plane to catch. We'll bring Bruce along with us."

Turning green immediately and squeezing Keith's hand, Prez gasped, "A plane?"

"The only other alternative is by boat, which could take four or five hours at best," Mrs. Hundser explained.

"Or you could all close your eyes, tap your heels together and wish 'I want to go to the luau'," came a giggling voice from near where Bruce was sitting.

Startled at the voice behind him, Drew spun around and shouted, "HEY!"

"No, my name's not 'Hey'. I'm Galli... but you might have heard of my other name," the little ten-year-old ginger-haired and befreckled boy giggled. He was dressed in a tee-shirt and board-shorts and twirling a small silver pen like item in his hands.

Mrs. Hundser faced the boy and smiled, "Hello, Galli, it's nice to meet you. Which one of my boys rescued you?"

"Rescued me?" Galli incredulously snickered. "My dear young lady, I've walked the stars and ran through dimensions and swam the rivers of time long before this planet formed. I'm here to bring you to the party... and you may call me The Doctor," Galli smiled as the Tardis thrummed into existence behind him and Bruce.

Stunned beyond words, Mrs. Hundser only stood silently with her jaw on her chest. Prez asked, "It still flies though, doesn't it?"

Galli grinned, "It can fly, but it doesn't usually. It can appear wherever and whenever it wants. Movement without movement. You'll go inside, then you'll come out at the party..."

{Stop calling me 'It'. I have a name, Doctor.}

"Sorry, T..." Galli rolled his eyes. "Tardises these days."

"Ooo-kay!" Keith chuckled. "First, disappearing kids and statues, now phone booths appear out of thin air."

"If it gets us to the luau quicker than a plane, I'm game," Mike snickered.

"Dude!" Derrick laughed.

"What?" Mike grinned, "Either the kid's trippin' or he's tellin' the truth. There's only one way to find out. Besides, without Prez, we're a three man band. Sorry, but the bass and Prez's vocals are just a little bit important."

The fact that Galli began to glow as time moved in flux around him sort of sealed the deal on his authenticity. "The statues said they'll meet you there," Galli giggled. "Lil' elf is really looking forward to talking to you, by the way."

Not the least bit frightened, Bruce giggled, "I like him. Can we go with him? Maybe he can help me find my mom and dad?" He grinned and took hold of Galli's glowing hand.

Not exactly certain where, when or how she lost control, Mrs. Hundser absently took hold of Keith's and Preston's hands. First Bruce and John entered Tardis, followed by Corey and Drew, Mike and Derrick and finally, Keith, Prez and Mrs. Hundser.

Galli grinned to himself as the last of them entered the small police box to find the control room inside was bigger than all their living rooms combined. "They will never be the same again after this party," he whispered before entering and closing the door.

Time heard its Lord.

... And Time started to laugh...

John and Bruce hurried around the large space checking out various glowing lights. Glancing around in awe, Mike and Derrick shouted, "KEWL!"

"Is there a place we can sit?" Drew asked.

Prez fretted, "Or seat belts we can put on?"

The Doctor smiled as chairs appeared around the control hub at the center of the room. "Technically, we're there already. However, Time moves in here at a different pace than in the world. If you have questions, you can ask them. You won't miss a thing outside, for Time there will not have moved."

Noticing his mother turning the same green shade that Prez had, Keith sat her down before she fainted and asked, "You okay, mom?"

Rapidly nodding, Mrs. Hundser only whimpered.

Prez sat down beside her and breathed a heavy sigh of relief at not having to get into a plane.

Keith knelt down before Prez and asked, "You okay now, baby?"

Prez nodded and smiled, "Just fine now. Still trying to figure shit out, but since we're not flying, life is good."

Following Galli from station to station, Corey asked, "So this is like a Time Machine?"

Speedily moving to another station, Galli answered, "Not exactly. TARDIS... Time and Relative Dimensions In Space. Time is just a small part of it. Dimensions, parallel universes... Paradox machine... but Tardis is so much more... at least to me."

{Thank you, Doctor.}

"You're very welcome T," Galli giggled.

Derrick asked, "Alternate parallel universes really exist?"

Galli only nodded, then scampered over to another display and seemed mesmerized.

"What's that one you're looking at?" Mike wondered.

"A fractal screen saver," Galli laughed, "It's very pretty, don't you think?" Nodding, Mike cracked up laughing.

Keith went over and asked, "If there are alternate universes, are there alternate versions of us?"

Galli nodded and rambled, "Consider every decision every one of you has made. For every possible decision, there's an alternate you. Unless of course, the decision has led to you not being born or physical death in that reality, but then again, there isn't an alternate you any longer in that universe, now, is there?"

As Galli and the group around him moved nearer, Prez asked, "Is there a reality where my parents didn't die?"

Pausing and turning to face Preston, Galli softly offered, "My dear boy, there are more parallel dimensions than you could possibly imagine. In one, you were never born because they never married. In another, you were born, but your father died before that day. In yet another, you were born, but your parents divorced. You moved with your mum to California. There are universes where you never met Keith, Mike or Derrick and there are others still where you have met, but weren't friends. Do you understand what I mean by every decision now?"

"The smallest, seemingly insignificant decisions?" Prez pondered.

Galli nodded. "Well, I've simplified Timeline-type stuff for you – what you call an alternate universe? OTHER Universes and Dimensions... well, let's not get into that yet... I don't think this dear lady will cope," he finished as he realized that Mrs. Hundser had not blinked once that he had seen. Galli took her hands in his and softly asked, "Better now?"

She finally blinked and smiled, "I have one question no one else has asked."

"Yes, dear lady?"

"How old are you... really?"

Squealing with delight and tossing his head back, Galli asked with his gales of laughter, "What do you want to know? My literal chronological age? Or my Lived Time age? Or my Time-Effected age? Or my apparent? As for the latter, I'm ten... as for the former I'm over seven billion years old... don't remember the exact number..."

{I remember, Doctor.}

"Not now, T!" Galli giggled as Mrs. Hundser's face started to go blank again. "The lady has almost returned to normal function! She has a husband and a life, after all. Let's not scramble her brain again!" He squeezed her hands tightly and kissed them, bringing Mrs. Hundser's eyes back into focus, "Sweetheart, let us just say I'm old and leave it at that."

{Older than dirt...}

"Earth dirt, yes," Galli giggled.

Prez was just staring at him. "Seven BILLI... I... No way!"

Galli poked his tongue out and giggled. "I age well!"

Drew shook his head to clear it, then walked over and asked, "Why us? I mean... what makes us so special? For you to come see us, I mean."

Not wanting to divulge more than necessary, Galli took Drew's hand and smiled, "Because you are special." Glancing at each of them, Galli explained, "In a divided world, you and your families stand together. Each of you spend that extra second to make better decisions for one another. When a child is helpless, you help; as in the case of Bruce here. If there's a way to make life better, you each seek that alternative even though it might not be the easiest choice available. Better versus easier; THAT is special; THAT is real love."

"Doctor Galli?" John called.

Galli smiled and corrected, "John, you may call me Doctor or Galli, however from all of you, please if you will, Galli."

John nodded and asked, "Where's Kai at, Galli?"

Galli answered, "He's safe and I believe you will all be seeing him soon."

"Thank goodness!" John huffed.

Keith wondered, "Why was his house trashed and why was there blood on the walls?"

Looking down for a moment, Galli then looked up at Keith and answered, "Kai was taken away before anything happened at the house. That's all I can tell you now, but by..." After pausing to check a display, Galli finished, "eleven o'clock local time tomorrow morning, you'll have all the answers regarding Kai.. and more... than you probably... would want... to know." After glancing at each person, Galli asked, "Any other questions?" Everyone shook their heads and Galli happily announced, "Then we have a party to attend!" Skipping joyfully towards the Tardis door, Galli flung it open and waved them out. As Prez passed, Galli giggled, "And thank you for flying TARDIS Airlines!"

Letting go of Keith and spinning around, Prez hollered, "You said we weren't flying!"

Leaning over laughing hysterically, Galli patted his knees with his little hands and admitted, "Technically no, but welcome to Kalihiwai Bay anyway. Have a good time at the luau!"

Squinting his eyes impatiently at the boy, Prez growled.

"You're not staying?" Keith asked.

"I'll be back so fast you'll never miss me," Galli giggled, "I absolutely love poi!" Watching as they all moved away from Tardis, Galli then closed the door and went on his way. Galli had left them in a small clearing between trees facing Kauapea Beach to the northeast side of Kalihiwai Bay. They could faintly hear music and smell barbequing pig in the distance. They only had to walk forward and follow the smells to the beach.

"I think I'll take a plane to fly back to Oahu," Mrs. Hundser softly said.

Shaking his head violently, Prez promised, "I'll swim back before I ever step foot on a plane."

Keith reminded, "We never even felt the thing shake or move."

"Thank God!" Prez huffed.

Mike wondered, "What time is it, Keith?"

Glancing at his watch, blinking and then looking again, Keith shuddered, "It's five twelve." From the time Galli appeared to that moment, only about a minute had passed.

John softly asked, "How're you doin', Bruce?"

Still clinging onto the blanket they found him with, Bruce shrugged, "Okay, I guess; I'm not alone no more and Galli was nice... just wondering where my mom and dad are."

Snapping back to reality, Mrs. Hundser fished her cell phone out of her purse, saying, "We'll get that question answered as quickly as we can." She then dialed Honolulu police and asked to speak to Mike's father; Lieutenant Robert Gibbons. In a short time, she had given him the entire story, the boy's name and description, and informed him that they were already at Kalihiwai Bay. After a short pause, she grinned, "You'd never believe how we got here so fast. I can barely understand it, never mind explain it." Finishing her call, she smiled at Bruce and said, "We'll have your parents located soon." She then said, "Michael, your dad and mom will be here in about an hour."

"Thanks Mrs. H.," Mike replied.

Derrick said, "I wonder where the stage is."

"Aren't ya hungry, dude?" Mike excitedly queried and then admitted, "I'm starving!"

Derrick softly chuckled, "You left half your lunch in the street."

Prez interjected, "First we find the stage and where we're playing, then we find food."

Shaking her head sadly, Mrs. Hundser playfully complained, "What is it with boys and food?"

Keith softly asked, "You're not hungry either, Prez?"

"A little," Prez shrugged, "still got a nervous stomach, thanks to that teasing little brat!"

Keith giggled, "He kinda reminded me of you when you were ten though." Prez held off and cuffed Keith on the shoulder. "WHAT?" Keith laughed, "Galli's a cute little redhead!" and then took off running for the sand before he got hit again. Prez raced after him with Mike and Derrick in tow. Mrs. Hundser grabbed John and Bruce by the shoulders before they followed the older boys.

About a third of the way down the beach, Derrick pointed up into the sky and hollered, "Look!"

Corey, Drew, Mike, Keith and Prez stopped goofing around and looked North where Derrick was pointing. Flying in formation, six Starfleet shuttle craft were coming in for landings at Princeville Airport.

Thrilled to the core, John looked up at his mother and squealed, "Starfleet's gonna be here too?"

Having heard nothing about this, Mrs. Hundser nodded and smiled, "It seems that way."

"KEEEWWWWWWWWLLLLLL!" Bruce screamed as the formation passed overhead.

"Starfleet rocks!" John gleefully shouted.

"I know!" Bruce bounced happily. "I hope someday I can join."

"I'd be happy just gettin' to visit a real Starship!" John giggled. "Imagine it, way up in space, traveling from planet to planet at Warp speeds."

"Wouldn't that be the very bestest ever?" Bruce cheered. He then shyly moved closer to John and whispered, "I gotta pee bad!"

John giggled, "Me too," then looked up at his mom and explained, "We gotta go to the bathroom, mom."

Scanning the bluffs and finding a row of porta-potties, Mrs. Hundser pointed and said, "Stay together..." but both boys ran off before she could finish the sentence. Rolling her eyes and hurrying after them, she realized that the Tardis trip was too much and she also needed to use the facilities.

Down on the beach, the other boys chased each other into and out of the surf, asking all sorts of questions, like why Starfleet was here? Why the King, Queen and members of Parliament were coming? Did any of this have to do with Kai? Or was it an extension of a really good idea, celebrating the lives of the O'Brians? Everything was so out of control and hectic, they could only hope that they were still going to perform that evening. Seeing a Starfleet security detail pass by, they could only hope their special night wouldn't be ruined by a lot of political speeches and other mindless, boring crap.

Taking the opportunity to tease the uniformed Vulcan men and woman, Keith and Prez loudly sang, "Some people call me the space cowboy, some call me the gangster of love. Some people call me Maurice, cause I speak of the pompitous of love." Seeing the security team returning, they stopped singing and giggled.

"Do you boys have any identification?" one of the officers asked.

Keith smirked, "We have high school I.D.'s, but didn't bring 'em with."

Then one woman officer said, "Keith Hundser." Turning the device she was holding at Prez, she then offered, "Preston Albert O'Brian." And then she scanned Mike, Drew, Derrick and Corey, identifying each of them by their full names; "Michael Gibbons; Drew Hundser; Derrick Seibert; Corey Seaver."

The first officer asked, "Where are Mr. James Hundser, Mrs. Jennifer Hundser and John Hundser, please?"

Seeing his foster mom, John and Bruce hurrying over from the porta-potties, Prez pointed and replied, "Behind you."

The first officer and the woman turned around briefly. The woman nodded, "That is Jennifer Hundser and John Hundser. The other boy is... Bruce Downing, native of Cleveland, Ohio."

The first officer then commanded, "You three keep watch over these boys. Make sure nothing happens to them."

All three officers replied, "Aye-aye, Sir." Then the first two officers went to meet Mrs. Hundser.

Eying the Starfleet officers assigned to them suspiciously for a few moments, the six boys stepped away and huddled up.

"What the fuck is going on now?" Mike whispered.

"And why do they have to make sure nothing happens to us?" Prez softly wondered.

Keith made eye contact with Drew and asked, "What are they doin' now, bro?"

Drew's head popped up from the huddle then he lowered his head again and whispered, "Just standing there, looking up and down the beach and at us."

Derrick snickered, "Did ya ever have one of those days?"

"It's all John's fault," Keith smiled, "ever since he came home everything's gotten really weird." Corey and Drew giggled their butts off.

"You sure, Galli?"

The huddling boys heard a high-pitched boy's voice giggle from just behind where the Vulcan Starfleet security team was standing.

"Yeah. They're the ones you’re after, Elven Prince!"

"You teasing me?"

"ME? Tease a PRINCE of the ELVES? Never!"

"Ha ha... Come on, I-Cheya! Let's go see if we can make some new friends!"


Prez and Keith had enough time to glance at each other before the thundering of something running their way became apparent. They had all recognized Galli's voice, of course, but the other voice was a mystery... and that 'huff'... it was deep and guttural and...

"OH MY GOD! A bear?" Keith yelled in shock as a large silvery colored bear charged around the security team and loped across the sand directly for them. The huddle broke up and all six boys quickly backed away until they were standing knee deep in water.

They had only seen pictures of such a creature in school books – books about alien planets. It was big, had saber teeth, a small beginning of a mane that started at its forehead and ran down the center of its back... and it was carrying the now 'living' statue of that menehune on its back. Only now they could see it wasn't a 'little person' from the ancient tales. It was a Vulcan boy, looking about nine-years-old, buck naked and grinning at them.

"HEY!" Prez yelled, "You Starfleet guys! Is this your idea of protection?"

"Don't worry," the small Vulcan boy giggled, "I-Cheya won't hurt you." The boy slid down off the massive beast and said, "I'm Joel and this is I-Cheya." Joel then asked, "Are you hungry, I-Cheya?"

*No. Bad Man made good meal. Me full. Me want play... red-haired boy look good to play with. Can I play 'Toss-The-Kid'?*

All the boys in the water heard the bear clearly, yet they knew it had not been with their ears.

"Huh?" Corey spluttered.

I-Cheya looked at him, and then batted his front paws in the water, making a sheet of it fly up and over Corey.

*Play with Corey-Boy first. Then Red-Haired-Prezzy-Boy later...*

More water went flying at and over Corey.

Joel giggled until he fell on his butt in the sand, letting the small waves at the water's edge wash over him. "He's just a baby Sehlat. He likes to play!"

"THAT'S a BABY?" Drew hollered in disbelief and held on to Corey's hand tighter.

Corey whimpered, "Drew? Toss-The-Kid?"

Keith and Prez moved forward, watching the Sehlat carefully. Mike and Derrick followed with Drew pulling Corey along behind them. Standing before Joel, who was splashing in the surf, they each introduced themselves.

"We already know you," Joel smiled up at them, "and Mike and Derrick and Drew and Corey too. Boy, is my big brother Cory gonna be happy to find another blond Corey to hang out with."

I-Cheya huffed lightly as his paw snaked out and grabbed Prez and pulled him into the circle of his forepaws.

Keith didn't know whether to find an elephant gun to kill the 'bear' or simply try a rescue by hand.

Prez was momentarily struck dumb in shock.

Joel stood up and cuddled close to I-Cheya's side, "He likes you. He won't hurt you. He don't talk to his food."

I-Cheya's eyes were boring into Prez's, and they seemed to peer deep into the red-head's soul.

*Leader. Master. Protector. Provider. Soul of Love poured out and Love Received. Blessed of Our Father, I breathe my promise on you.*

The Silvery Sehlat then opened his massive mouth and exhaled over Prez, filling his whole being with warmth and comfort.

Prez started to wilt in the Sehlat's embrace as love and more poured through him. The love seemed to go right to his core, and unlocked an old grief; a pain that was healing, but not yet fully healed.

"Preston, we are so proud of you," came the clear voice of Preston's father.

"Yes, you make us smile every day you live and every time you embrace all life has to give you," came a woman's voice that he had not heard in two years; his mom.

"We are with you forever. Your Father in Heaven is with you forever. We will wait for you, and we will cheer every moment of your life as you run your race," Prez's Dad said, and Prez felt fingers run through his hair in the way his dad always did when he was alive.

"We love you, son. And Keith is a catch," his mother teased as the voices faded away.

Tears flowing and sobs bubbling forth, Prez flung himself forward onto I-Cheya's body and cried. I-Cheya gently removed Prez' clothes and started to bathe him with his tongue, helping in the way of the Spirit Guardians to heal and comfort.

Joel smiled.

Concerned because Prez was crying, Keith didn't know what to do at first, so he only reached down and caught his partner’s clothes in the surf before the tide left Prez to perform on stage naked. "Prez, what's wrong, baby?"

Shaking his head, but smiling widely, Prez asked, "Didn't you hear them?"

"Hear who?" Keith, Derrick and Mike wondered.

"My ma and dad," Prez answered. Noticing his three friends curiously glancing at each other, Prez began laughing through his tears. "I'm fine," Prez giggled, "great in fact! It's been so long since I've heard their voices." Cringing for a few moments, Prez then bellowed laughing, "It tickles!"

Keith scowled, "What the fuck! Prez isn't ticklish! For two years I've been searching..."

"It's I-Cheya," Joel smiled, "who knows, you might get lucky and have a ticklish boyfriend from now on."

*Gift given. Gift Received. Who next?* I-Cheya sent as he looked around at the other five boys.

"Wha... what is going... is this thing safe?" Mrs. Hundser nervously asked, her voice shaky, as she, John and Bruce hurried down the beach to the group at the surf.

"He's safe, Mrs. Hundser," Joel replied as he turned around to see her.

Her eyebrow rose as she beheld the naked little cherub smiling up at her.

"He's my guardian and friend. His name's I-Cheya. I'm Joel... Sa'ren Joel Short, son of Spock, son of Sarek of Vulcan. Nice to meet you!"

"Oh, you're the boy from the news... wait... aren't you...." she paused. Then she moved forwards and knelt down in front of him, "You're thirteen, right? The Admiral on the news said something like that, correct?"

Joel nodded seriously. "Yeah, I'm thirteen. Yesterday! I had a great party, and I got married and everything!"

Mrs. Hundser embraced him tenderly, and then totally missed what happened to Prez.

I-Cheya, not one to wait for an answer to a question he'd asked, decided to take matters into his own... paws.

Prez yelled like a banshee as he sailed through the air and out about fifty yards into the sea, thrown by the powerful arm of the Vulcan bear. Keith, turning around and watching his beloved try and learn to fly, was therefore completely unprepared for the machinations of the sneaky Sehlat.

He was stripped, dunked and in the middle of a tongue bath before he realized what had happened. Corey, Drew, Mike and Derrick laughed hysterically at both Keith and Prez. Extremely ticklish, the Sehlat tongue bath had Keith in tears, rapidly trying to protect himself. The next thing Keith knew, his ass was parked in the Sehlat's paw and he was being tossed out over the ocean, at least twenty feet in the air, looking down into the pale blue water.

I-Cheya took hold of Mike and repeated the procedure again. "Mom!" John whined and jumped up and down. "Please! Lemme get tossed too!"

"John, let the older boys take a turn first," Mrs. Hundser nervously replied.

Joel looked up assured, "It's totally safe, Auntie Jen. I-Cheya knows just how to Toss-A-Kid, he's had lots of practice."

Partially covering her eyes as Mike howled laughing from high in the air, she watched until he hit the water and rose to the surface. I-Cheya already had a hold of Derrick and was stripping his clothes off. Prez was swimming closer to shore, obviously no worse for wear, she gratefully acknowledged.

It wasn't long before all six of the older boys had been cleaned and thrown into the water, and now they were back and sitting before the Sehlat up to their waists in the gently lapping waves of the Pacific. Joel looked at John and Bruce, and then at the agitated mother who was still cuddling them. "Do you want me to go first, Auntie Jen?" Joel suggested, "Then you'll know it'll be safe for John and Bruce?"

Mrs. Hundser nodded slowly, and so Joel got up and was immediately grabbed by the huffing Sehlat and promptly lofted into the air and out to sea.

John wasted no time. In fact, he had saved the Sehlat some time; he'd already stripped naked and was waiting impatiently at I-Cheya's side.

The bear blinked at him with gentleness radiating from his eyes. *Brave-Boy. I like you. Gentle. You are... Mind-Walker. Special. You shall learn when Time right*

John was pushed to the sand, the waves almost reaching him, and was given a tongue bath. His giggles were musical and light, and seemed filled with the wonder that only a child could muster. Then, he was thrown. He didn't fly out quite as far as his older brothers had, but far enough for the water to properly capture his body as he landed with a huge splash. Rising to the surface, John squealed with delight, splashed the water around him and shouted, "AGAIN! I WANNA DO IT AGAIN!"

"Oh Jesus, give me patience," Mrs. Hundser softly prayed.

Joel was still out in the water and gestured to the shore, but he himself remained. There was one more child to come, and Joel wanted to be sure Bruce would be okay.

Bruce shyly moved closer. "Mr. Bear? Can you answer a question for me?"

I-Cheya blinked at him and nodded.

"Will I see my mommy and daddy again?" Bruce whispered, a single tear rolling down his face.

I-Cheya closed his eyes and sighed, then reached out and breathed on the boy, filling him with love and warmth that rolled through him as it had with Prez.

*Peace. Love. Your heart shall find its home. Your soul shall find its rest. Trust in the ones who came and helped you*

Then, he removed Bruce's clothes and washed him. This time, the washing did not cause giggles and laughter, but Bruce seemed to grow more and more relaxed as the Sehlat continued.

It was therefore without warning that I-Cheya picked up and threw the small boy to land next to Joel out in the sea. And the boy howled with laughter the entire way through the air.

Mrs. Hundser looked at the Sehlat, "You didn't have his parent's authority for that boy."

I-Cheya huffed his laughter at her. *I have Father's authority! You want go?*

"I'm not going naked, you hear me?" Mrs. Hundser said seriously as she hesitantly walked closer.

I-Cheya nodded and breathed on her. She was suddenly wearing her swimwear. *Good?*

Shocked, she simply nodded.

*No be scared. I need be full size*

Out in the water and helping Bruce to the shore, Joel smiled as I-Cheya shifted into his full adult size. The gasps from everyone were expected. Joel giggled as he came alongside Corey and Prez, "Now THAT is what a full sized male wild Sehlat looks like!"

I-Cheya huffed deeply, then gently scooped up Mrs. Hundser. All ten boys laughed and cheered as an adult screamed with fear, flying high over head and landing further out in the ocean than any of them had.

Happier than ever splashing and playing in the shallow water, the boys joked about each of their experiences with the Sehlat and how light they felt being thrown and flying through the air.

As Mrs. Hundser finally arrived at shore and walked up out of the waves, she squinted and loudly threatened, "NOT ONE WORD FROM YOU BOYS or you ALL sleep in SEPARATE ROOMS!"

Joel buttoned his mouth immediately. He was still on his honeymoon with his new husband Kevin, after all. Drew dunked Corey under the water so he couldn't laugh. Drew enjoyed this as his smile clearly showed. The four older boys and John simply turned away from the beach and looked out over the Pacific, softly snickering. Holding Joel's hand, Bruce glanced around and smiled widely at everyone.

Walking up to the Sehlat, Mrs. Hundser softly asked, "Can I have my clothes back, please?" Nodding once, I-Cheya breathed over her. Not only had her clothes reappeared, but she was completely dry. "Thank you," Mrs. Hundser smiled and gently petted the great beast.

After checking that the naked boys playing in the surf were safe, Mrs. Hundser noticed the Vulcan security entourage had taken positions around them, forming an arc about twenty feet away. Between the armed Vulcans and this Sehlat, she realized she had no need to worry, so she began picking up all the clothes scattered around the beach. As if hearing her thoughts, I-Cheya relayed; *All are safe. None challenge I-Cheya and live.* Noticing the boys were now in ankle deep water walking further down the shore, she heard I-Cheya explain; *Come. Boys hungry.*

Mrs. Hundser smiled, "Of course they are. When they're not, I know they're sick," and walked alongside I-Cheya. The security team maintained their positions and slowly followed. Off in the distance, a very large group of children ran down the bluff to the beach. There was also a small white puppy gallivanting amongst the children. Most of the kids seemed to be stripping off their clothes; she happily noticed and rolled her eyes. At the water line, the group of kids and teens pointed and laughed heartily at the approaching group as some of them stumbled out of their shorts and fell into the sand.

Joel broke away from the others and ran up the beach. One small boy and the puppy also separated from the mass of children coming down the beach. "Kevvy!" Joel yelled.

"Sa'r!" the other boy hollered.

While the two boys spun around hand-in-hand, the rest of the larger mass of children met Prez, Keith, Mike, Derrick, Corey, Drew, John and Bruce in the shallow surf. Considering the numbers involved, introductions were mostly organized. The youngest kids met each other, the pre-teens said hello and the teens greeted and introduced each other.

Amongst the group of boys were: Reyes Taraschke, Jonah Desak, Brice Glotzbecker, Jerrold Hebda, Thanh Espiridion, Dee Vanderwood, Richie Grunert, Dillon Helde, Lenny Cuttler, Tory Burgas, Sung Henjes, Amado Kazanjian, Hank Leve, Sean Moorhead, Horacio Sulin, Geoffrey Eckel, and twin brothers Felipe and Cesar Laurito.

The group of girls included: Christel Robusto, Davina Pinnt, Lu Gurrieri, Lupe Jui, Melonie Correro, Trish Vesley, Mercy Hellar, Julianne Smolen, Carmella Socia, and sisters Earlene and Noreen Magyar.

The white puppy with black paws trotted ahead of Joel and Kevvy and into the surf. "Blackie!" Kevvy giggled. The pup only glanced back for a moment, then went and stuck his nose near Prez's crotch. Keith was next to be inspected by Blackie.

Glancing back towards Joel and Kevvy, Blackie transmitted; *Boy!* making sure that everyone could hear. *Prez-Boy and Keith-Boy want mating. Where quiet spot? They want make noisy!*

Mike, Derrick, Drew and Corey roared laughing.

Blushing redder than his hair, Prez groaned, "Oh God!"

"So much for sneaking away for a quickie!" Keith giggled.

Blackie then checked out Mike and Derrick. *Mike-Boy and Derrick-Boy already make noisy*

Next on Blackie's inspection were Corey and Drew. Tilting his head curiously, Blackie wondered *Corey-Boy and Drew-Boy not make noisy yet?*

Covering his face with both hands, Drew helplessly giggled, but Corey loudly laughed, "That's none of your business!"

Arriving in the surf near Keith and Prez, Joel giggled, "Blackie's just a pup and hasn't really learned... wolf-control. He was guarding us last night as we... ah... well, you know... our wedding night?” Joel blushed before continuing, “so he likes teasing. He'll check out every boy he meets to find out where their dicks have been." Wrapping an arm around Kevvy, Joel quickly introduced all the boys to his new husband, Kevin Thompson.

"So you guys are married?" Keith smiled. Joel and Kevin nodded and kissed. "That's so cool!"

Prez explained, "Keith and me are hoping we can too, when we turn eighteen."

Mike and Derrick chimed, "Us too!"

"How did you two manage to get married?" Keith asked.

Joel explained, "Under Vulcan law; basically, when two people love each other and already have made the commitment, you're T'hy'la. Loosely translated, that means beloved, soul mate, best friend all rolled into one. The word is used for good friends too." Cautiously, Joel wondered, "If you could get married say... next week, just for the sake of argument, would you?"

Without even thinking, Prez cheered, "Absolutely."

"Definitely!" Keith smiled.

Joel glanced over at Mike and Derrick and got a simultaneous, "Hell yeah!" Joel then looked at Corey and Drew.

Drew smiled at Corey and Corey nodded at Drew. Then Drew shyly explained, "We've got... umm... some 'noisy' mating stuff to kinda figure out still."

Kevin giggled uncontrollably, but Joel only smiled and instructed, "I've learned that noisy mating stuff has little to do with real love. What matters is what you feel, in your hearts and in your minds. How you really feel about each other is the only question to answer."

"Then we would, if we could," Drew answered.

That was all Corey needed to hear. He rapidly nodded, then threw himself at Drew for a deep, lingering kiss. Corey then sighed, "You're so awesome, Drew."

Drew giggled, "Glad ya think so cos I love you too, Cor."

Kevin and Joel turned to each other, smiled widely and nodded. Through their mind-meld, they confirmed, "They're the ones!"

Joel then said, "Could you excuse Kev and me for a little while? I just wanna introduce Kevvy to your mom."

"Oh! Yeah!" Keith loudly agreed.

Prez smiled, "Go ahead dudes, there's only about forty of us now, so we're kinda hard to miss."

Breaking away from the pack with Joel, Kevin chuckled, "There's another fifty or so that were too shy or too hungry to join us." He pointed up the bluff, south of the lighthouse and said, "The luau is up there."

"Is the stage there too?" Mike wondered.

"Yup! Ya can't miss it," Kevin answered.

Kaleo Palakiko, one of the older boys at fourteen and walking with Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick, widely grinned, "Wait till you see it! All the open fields south of Kilauea Wildlife Refuge are ours! Hawaiian TV News trucks are there too!"

Mike and Derrick slowly droned, "Wow!"

"Amazing!" Keith chuckled.

Prez nodded and wondered, "All this can't be just because of my parents."

Kaleo looked over and asked, "What happened to your folks?"

"They were in a plane crash," Prez answered, "two years ago, October nineteenth."

"I'm sorry, dude," Kaleo groaned, "I didn't know."

"It's okay," Prez softly assured.

Keith smirked, "What is the hubbub all about then?"

Stunned, Kaleo replied, "You haven't heard?" Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick all shook their heads. Kaleo then loudly asked, "You've heard of Clan Short though, haven't you?"

Keith nodded, "'Course, they're the group saving all those abandoned and abused kids on the mainland."

Swinging his arms around, Kaleo explained, "See all these kids here? We were all rescued by the Clan today."

"ALL of 'em?" Derrick shouted.

Giggling at Derrick's reaction, Kaleo nodded, "And the other fifty-odd kids too."

Prez glanced over and made eye contact with Kaleo then asked, "You too?"

Losing his smile, Kaleo nodded and softly explained, "I was put up for adoption as a baby. The adults in the orphanage were real creeps. They'd work us like slaves, beat us... used us for sex... prostitution; you name it, they did it."

"I'm really sorry," Prez softly offered.

Kaleo shrugged, then said, "Don't be; it wasn't your fault."

"That's horrible though, dude!" Keith grimaced.

"Kids having sex with adults?" Mike shuddered.

"Gross!" Derrick growled.

"You're tellin' me," Kaleo softly said. "It was either do it or starve to death."

Derrick yelled, "They wouldn't feed you unless..." and Kaleo nodded.

"Where were the fucking police?" Keith hollered.

Sternly, Prez grumbled, "I'm gettin' really annoyed now."

Kaleo nodded understandingly and said, "It's gonna be better for all of us now that the Clan got involved. They said we wouldn't have to worry ever again and I believe them." He then snickered, "That's why this group is here; being kids for the first time ever, walkin' naked on the beach just like we should."

After a few more steps, Derrick wondered, "What happened to the adults at the orphanage?"

Kaleo shrugged, "Don't know, don't care." He then pointed up the beach at I-Cheya and offered, "See that big bear-like creature?"

Prez nodded and smiled, "He's a Vulcan Sehlat."

Kaleo nodded and chuckled, "Don't make him angry. I seen him pick up a fat man at our orphanage like he was a pineapple and throw him through a wall." Kaleo then loudly laughed, "It was great! Exactly what that overstuffed, tiny-pricked bastard deserved!"

All the older orphanage kids that heard and understood Kaleo's remark busted up in fits of laughter.

From further up the beach, Mrs. Hundser hollered, "All you nudists and partially clad kids, FRONT AND CENTER!"

"Who's that?" Kaleo asked.

Rolling his eyes, Keith giggled, "My mom."

"She's nice?"

Prez nodded and laughed, "She's a mom, what can ya do?"

"Right!" Kaleo snickered and turned around to face the rest of the kids. With a nod from Kaleo, everybody walked out of the water and up the beach.

Mike smiled, "They all listen to you?"

Kaleo shrugged, "Mostly; I'm one of the oldest and have been watching out for them the best I could so..."

Tory piped up and explained, "Kaleo in Hawaiian means 'the voice' and man, does he use it!"

Kaleo chuckled, "Shush!"

"WHAT?" Tory incredulously giggled, "Just cos ya can't ever shut up!" and then ducked away and ran up the beach.

As the mass of children approached, Mrs. Hundser searched her mind for some way to organize and care for the lot of them. "Okay," she smiled, "My Ewa Beach boys and their friends, stand with me and put your clothes on."

Still holding Bruce's hand, John shuffled forward, kicking at the sand and whined, "Mo-om!"

Joel looked up and said, "I have an idea, Auntie Jen."

"Yes Joel?"

"If it's all right with you," Joel began, "I-Cheya could carry all the little kids up the bluff, with you, Kev and me in the center. You hold onto the kids in the front, and kids in the back hold onto me and Kevvy."

"Sounds like fun to me!" Kevin giggled.

"That's an awful lot of weight. Would he be safe?" Mrs. Hundser fretted. I-Cheya made himself adult size and proved he could handle as many as needed. Shaking her head sadly, but grinning, Mrs. Hundser mumbled, "What was I thinking?"

"Okay!" Joel snickered, "Under ten-years-old, get your clothes on and line up here with me and Kev." About a dozen little kids scurried away then began gathering their clothes and getting dressed.

Mrs. Hundser instructed, "Ten and over, get dressed and stay with the older kids. It's time to eat." With enthusiastic squeals of pleasure and hurrah’s, the older kids peeled off. I-Cheya lay down in the sand and Mrs. Hundser carefully climbed up onto his back. Joel followed her up and offered an arm for Kevin to grab hold and climb up.

Kaleo was the first to return with his shorts on and his shirt in his hand. He moved close to Keith and whispered, "Getting down the bluff was simple; getting up again isn't gonna be quite so easy."

Lifting the first of the small kids up, Keith smiled, "Mom?"

"Yes?" she answered, and sat the child on the Sehlat's neck.

Passing the next kid up, Keith said, "The bluff's really kinda steep."

Sitting the next child down behind the first, she simply nodded and hummed affirmatively.

Prez passed up another kid to Joel and Kevin then began snickering. Keith loudly laughed, "Mom! It's like a seventy degree angle and at least twenty feet!" and passed up another kid.

Shaking her head sadly and sitting another child down, Mrs. Hundser smiled, "Is this the same Keith Hundser that shimmied up a palm tree only two years ago?" After passing another kid to Joel and Kevin, Prez roared laughing.

Keith passed up another kid then laughed, "You almost had a heart attack! What about John, Corey and Drew and all these other kids?"

Parking another child, Mrs. Hundser shrugged uncertainly.

"We can do it!" John loudly insisted, and then ran over and started up the bluff. Two other boys about John's size ran over and followed John. But barely half way up, all three came tumbling back down again. Laughing and giggling, they brushed themselves off and tried again.

Prez passed up another kid, then had to pause again as he hung his head and became hysterical at his foster mom's obvious teasing. Derrick snickered and pushed Prez aside then offered to lift the next kid. The little girl lifted her arms and Derrick picked her up. "Thank you," she softly said.

"You're welcome," Derrick smiled.

"Hey!" Prez laughed, "How come you got a thanks and I didn't?"

Shrugging, Derrick snickered and picked up the next kid that giggled, "Thanks, dude."

"HEY!" Prez loudly laughed. All the little kids on I-Cheya and on the ground covered their mouths and giggled. Derrick howled laughing. Prez adjusted an imaginary tie around his neck and imitated Rodney Dangerfield. "I tell ya, I don't get any respect!"

"I-Cheya can come back for them," Joel helplessly giggled.

*HUFF HUFF HUFF* I-Cheya chuckled. *Big boys climb small hill*

Exasperated, Keith hollered, "Mo-om!"

"All right!" Mrs. Hundser laughed. Kevin leaned against Joel's back and laughed as hard as he ever had before.

"It's just like home, huh, Kevvy?" Joel snickered. Kevin couldn't reply for laughing. Joel grinned down at Prez, "Come on, slow pokes... my other brothers are waiting to meet you. And Brant will want to invite you to dinner!"

"You're evil, Sa'r!" Kevin howled with laughter.

Passing up another little girl, Keith then hollered, "Mike! Get your butt over here and give us some help!"

Prez handed over another kid and so did Derrick. Mike picked up a kid and passed him up to Keith's mom. Prez then wondered, "Who's Brant?"

As I-Cheya began to move now that he was fully loaded, Joel called back, "Oh, just my friend..."

"A vampire..." Kevin added with repressed giggles.

Simultaneously, Keith, Prez, Derrick and Mike screamed; "A VAMPIRE?"

Mrs. Hundser giggled, "Vampires don't exist except in the movies."

"Tell that to him, Auntie Jen," Joel giggled as he looked around her and pointed to the top of the bluff. There, in a pair of board shorts and nothing else, was a pale skinned, glowing-yellow eyed boy.

"You teasing people again, Joel?" he called down to them.

"Yes, Fangie. I am."

"Oh. Okay then. What about this time?"


Brant rolled his eyes, "You know, that might have worked better after the sun had set. They're never going to believe us now."

"Not until they see your cute little chompers, anyway," Joel giggled.

Brant thought for a moment as the Sehlat made it to the top in only three giant leaps and stopped beside him. "Mmm... yes, that might be convincing," Brant smiled widely and made his very sharp canine teeth drop. Seeing the fangs, Mrs. Hundser's head spun, she became dizzy and slid off I-Cheya, landing on her butt only a foot before Brant.

Offering her a hand up, Brant apologized, "Sorry, Mrs. Hundser. I won't hurt any of you."

"G...good... are you really a..." she muttered as she was helped to her feet.

"Yes, really," Brant finished with a smile as the rest of the group finally made it up the bluff to join them. Those of the rescued kids had already met Brant and so they just grinned at the eight boys who had arrived with the lady who was still staring at Brant. "I'm a vampire. Our ancient name is Moroi, but nowadays, vampire is the term."

"But it's... the sun's still out!" Bruce bubbled, pointing to the setting sun.

"Yeah, well... I'm special," Brant grinned. "The rest of my kin are still asleep right now. You can call me a day-walker, if you want."

Shaking her head in disbelief at what was in front of her, Mrs. Hundser mumbled, "You're not going to bite me, are you?"

"Why? Are you tasty?" Brant giggled, and then shook his head, "No. I don't eat friends, or parents of friends. I'm a friendly vampire!"

"Oh, that is good to know," Mrs. Hundser stated. "Well, this just beats all! College definitely did not prepare me for this, but heck, look at all that has happened! I guess I shouldn't be surprised."

Cautiously, John stepped forward and placed a hand on Brant's arm. "You're warm," John said.

Brant nodded, "I've already eaten today," and then asked, "What's your name?" John introduced himself and Bruce. Then Keith, Prez, Mike and Derrick stepped forward and introduced themselves.

Beginning to come to her senses again, Mrs. Hundser wondered, "How did you boys get up here? I thought it was too steep?"

Prez chuckled, "It was before!"

"I-Cheya made some really good steps for us all to climb," Keith finished.

Derrick and Mike went over and petted I-Cheya, thanking him for making large indentations they used as steps.

*I big boned* I-Cheya sent.

Bounding around the Sehlat, Blackie teased *Fatty!*

I-Cheya sneezed at the small dog, sending it rolling for about fifteen feet.

Joel was still shaking with laughter, and Kevin had laughed himself so silly that he had rolled down I-Cheya's back and nearly ended up back down on the beach.

"Leave the poor woman alone! My god, I don't know what to do with you little kids," Galli giggled as he approached with nine others behind him. Three were little boys, about seven- or eight-years-old, with bright purple eyes. The remaining six were - slightly different.

"Wow! Caitian! I didn't know we had any Caitians on Earth!" Keith exclaimed loudly.

The two cheetah-looking figures looked at each other, then back at Keith. "What's Caitian? We're G-Cats! He's Mercury..." one said, pointing at the other.

"And he's Hermes," Mercury smiled. "That's Mont and Bast," he added pointing at the two Lion-like boys behind them, who looked a fair bit older.

"And those are our sisters, Aphrodite," Hermes finished, pointing at a tigress-looking girl, "and Artemus," pointing at the lioness.

Confused, Keith mumbled, "But... ain't you from the planet Caitian?"

"Noooo," Mont grinned. "We're from Utah!"

"Well, that's almost a different planet," Mike chuckled.

"Not quite as far out there as Caitian though," Derrick snickered.

Joel ran over to be picked up by Aphrodite, "They're kinda a human-feline hybrid. They're super strong and CUDDLY!"

Kevin ran over as well, and asked Mont, "Did you bring our clothes with you?"

Mont smiled down and passed the small boy a carry-bag. "Here, Kev."

"ARRRRRGH!" Derrick screamed.

Everyone turned to see him fighting with his underwear which had inexplicably risen up in a massive wedgie... and there was no one with him.

Brant sighed and covered his eyes with his hands before laughing softly.

"I did not do that!" Mike roared before Derrick could accuse him.

Spinning around, Derrick saw no one. Squinting his eyes suspiciously, Derrick queried, "Galli?"

"Wasn't me," Galli chuckled.

Sighing impatiently, Derrick then hollered, "Alright! My boxers didn't just fly up the crack of my ass by themselves!"

Prez, Keith, Drew and Corey couldn't stop laughing long enough to even try and appear innocent.

A wicked chuckle was suddenly heard behind Derrick.

Derrick spun around again, but still - no one was there. "Come out where I can see you!"

"Are you sure?" he heard in his ear.


Prez nearly wet himself, for Derrick had jumped so badly that he ended up rolling back down the bluff to the sand below.

There was a shimmer in the air and a black robed twelve-year-old boy in a black jumpsuit appeared. He had auburn hair, fairly short cut, and hazel eyes. "Sorry, I couldn't resist," he grinned at the laughing group of kids.

"Vampire," Brant giggled. "You're more evil than me!"

"Thank you, my undead lover," Matthew giggled. He then looked at Mrs. Hundser, who was again looking shocked. "Permit me to introduce myself, dear lady. I am Prince Matthew Parnell of the British Empire, also known as 'Vampire', a Captain in the VSO."

Now knowing better than to ask questions, Mrs. Hundser smiled, "My pleasure, Matthew."

Waving his little hand, one of the purple-eyed boys said, "Hi Aunti Jen! I'm Kyle."

"And I'm Tyler," the next boy said.

Tyler nudged the next little boy who was still chewing a cookie. He quickly swallowed and said, "I'm Levi," then pulled another cookie out of the sack he held.

"He caught my cookie fetish... sorry, Lil'Bear," Joel smiled at Kyle.

"Daddy," Levi said to Kyle and pointed at John, "that one's way cute."

Blushing, John stepped back, but Drew and Corey caught him and roughly pushed him forward again. Shyly, John waved and croaked, "Hi, Levi."

Levi giggled. "Don't worry - you're nice. Somebody is gonna be lucky with you as their partner. Right, Daddy?"

Kyle nodded, "I think so, Leev."


Everyone looked at Joel.

"Wasting away here, guys!" the little Vulcan whined, pointing at his thin tummy. Kevin patted his arm and passed Joel his clothes. "Oh, thanks," he smiled as he slipped into his jeans and tee-shirt, and pulled his Vulcan robe over it all. "It's kinda cool here."

I-Cheya led the way into the first field.

Kyle looked down the bluff where Derrick was climbing back up. "Need a hand?" Kyle grinned. Derrick nodded and appeared just beside Kyle, still hunched over as he had been while climbing. Shifting his eyes then spinning around, Derrick huffed then smiled, "Thanks."

"Anytime Derrick," Kyle grinned, and then introduced himself as they began following the rest of the group.

"How did you know my name?" Derrick wondered.

Kyle grinned and rambled, "You were born December thirtieth, nineteen-eighty-nine; started playing drums just before you turned seven when you got your first kit for Christmas. Your favorite food is baked ham dripping in brown sugar and pineapple juice. Your favorite drummers are Neil Peart and Carl Palmer. You and Mike have always been best friends and became boyfriends right after Mike's birthday, June first, two-thousand-two..."

Derrick laughed, "Holy Shit! Is there a book about me somewhere?"

Clapping his hands, Kyle laughed and nodded then pointed at Derrick's head. "You're a walking book... and your fantasy section is really cute!"

"You're freakin' me out, dude," Derrick playfully warned.

Kyle looked up and promised, "You'll get used to it... eventually."

Before them in the first field were at least one hundred tables filled with all sorts of foods. Fruits, salads and vegetables were in one group of tables; another section had meats including sides of beef and barbequed pig; breads and rolls of every type were at another group; cakes and cookies and deserts were at another group of tables; and finally milk, water, soft drinks, beer, wines and hard liquor were served from another area.

If the food wasn't impressive enough there were, scattered around several fields south of the lighthouse, eight huge multi-panel video displays with towers of speakers on each side of the screens. Canned music was already being played through all the speakers, and the video displays showed the stage with colored lights shining down on an assortment of instruments.

"Incredible!" Derrick hollered. Nearby, I-Cheya lay down with Blackie and they were sharing two entire barbequed pigs. The Sehlat bit off a rear leg and Blackie cleaned up the mess falling from I-Cheya's mouth.

Kyle smiled, "Don't be shy either; it's all free! Compliments of Clan Short, Starfleet, and The Republic of Hawaii."

"How many people are gonna be here?" Derrick wondered.

Kyle shrugged, "Everyone's invited so anyone that can make it, pretty much. We're expecting about twenty thousand, but could easily handle fifty thousand, if we need to."

Softly snickering for a few moments, Derrick noticed Kyle looking up curiously. "Keith's gonna need a change of clothes," Derrick explained, "he's gonna just shit!"

Kyle said, "Stage fright?"

Derrick nodded, "It's not so bad anymore, but none of us have played for an audience like this!"

"Don't worry," Kyle said, "Me, Ty and Levi will get everything sorted out." Derrick was about to ask how, but suddenly decided to leave it alone. "LET'S EAT!" Kyle shouted and ran off for the line where people were already loading down plates and trays. Derrick hurried after him.

After grabbing a plate and a tray, Derrick found Mike, Keith and Prez. "Is this totally awesome or what?" Derrick smiled.

"Oh dude!" Mike shouted, "I was psyched to play for our town! This is gonna be so awesome!"

"Now we're playing for tens of thousands!" Prez excitedly added.

"And even the King and Queen!" Keith laughed, "I feel like The Beatles, before the Royal Variety Performance! For our last number, I'd like to ask for your help. Will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry..."

Derrick, Mike and Prez roared; "DO IT DUDE! YOU HAVE GOT TO SAY IT!"

Laughing hysterically and nodding, Keith chortled; "Only if we close with Twist and Shout."

"Hell yeah!" Mike and Derrick shouted.

Prez leaned over to Keith's ear and seductively whispered, "You do this and I guarantee you'll sleep like a baby tonight."

"Is that a dare?" Keith asked.

Shaking his head, Prez smiled, "A promise."

"Done deal!" Keith giggled. "I think I'll have the pork."

Leaning on Keith's shoulder, Prez softly snickered.

Mike and Derrick looked at them and smiled. Mike jeered, "They're at it again."

Derrick teased, "Directly to bed, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars."

"Jealous?" Keith countered.

Sinking deeply into Derrick's beautiful hazel eyes, Mike shook his head. "Not at all."

"Just giving us some ideas for later," Derrick smiled.

"GAWD!" Mike laughed, "Usually we get randy after we play!"

Feeling like he was being watched and not wanting another wedgie, Derrick rapidly spun around. Not far down the food line stood Kyle, Tyler and Levi, looking far too angelic. Turning to his band mates, Derrick said, "Ya know, Kyle and those other two kids seem different somehow. And I mean more than just their purple eyes."

"It's your imagination," Mike offered, "They're just little kids... with colored contact lenses, I guess."

Shaking his head, Derrick began, "I was climbing..." but suddenly stopped. Scowling for a few moments, Derick then grumbled, "Dammit! I forgot what I was gonna say!"

"I hate that," Keith snickered.

Prez looked at Derrick closely then assured, "If it was important at all, it'll come back to you, bud."

Behind Prez, the woman serving asked, "May I help you?"

Turning around and smiling, Prez passed her his plate and said, "Yes please, I'll have a little of everything. Some of the beef and a little barbequed pork and a chicken leg." After he was served, Prez waited for his friends, then they moved over to the next serving area for salad and veggies. They soon got bread and desserts and sodas then walked across Kauapea Road and found a place to sit near Kaleo and some of the other boys they recently met.

After eating for a while, Kaleo looked over and smiled; "Is this the best food ever or am I just underprivileged?"

Shaking his head rapidly and swallowing, Prez said, "No, it's all really great, some of the best I've ever eaten."

"You're with friends now, Kaleo," Keith offered.

Mike nodded and assured, "The Clan will live up to their promises, no doubt."

"And we'll put on a show for you all that you'll never forget," Derrick promised.

Looking at each of them, Kaleo queried, "Put on a show?"

Keith nodded, "We're musicians."

Kaleo grinned, "Oh. Are you any good?"

Mike snickered and almost choked. Derrick patted his back a few times before Mike smiled and answered, "We're only freshmen, but beat out lots of upperclassmen for our high school jazz band."

Kaleo nodded, "I don't know any jazz. I don't really know any music; it wasn't allowed at the orphanage."

"Oh man!" Prez loudly said, "My whole life has been a series of songs from country to blues to classical, jazz and rock."

Derrick asked, "Don't you know of any music you liked?"

Kaleo shrugged, "I heard some stuff on the radio whenever I was out of the orphanage, just not enough to know titles or bands."

Shaking his head sadly, Prez softly said, "I can only guess how bad it was for you..." Scanning around the table, he continued, "for all you guys. If you'll let us, we'd like to help push your past’s way back, out of the way."

Keith added, "We'll go out of our way to keep in touch after tonight. Music is the center of the best times we've ever had in our lives. We'd like to help make it that way for all of you too."

"Music directly ties to emotions," Mike explained. "A soft classical guitar piece can bring tears of joy, or tears of sadness. Rock and jazz though, they make you wanna move, dance around, either close to someone special or further apart with a whole bunch of friends just shakin' and groovin'."

Kaleo put his fork down and sighed, "I can feel how happy it makes you dudes, but... for us... sometimes we were made to dance... to please someone... sexually."

Becoming very sad, Prez placed his fork down and wiped his eyes. Looking around the table, Prez said, "I can only hope that someday soon you'll all forget the horrible stuff that's happened to you. We just met you guys down on the beach, but I know that's an experience I will never forget because it was so much fun. None of you have given me a reason to not like you. You're kids, just like us, but with nightmarish pasts. Music shouldn't remind you of something like that. Hearing music or looking at art: paintings, photos or statues shouldn't make you feel bad; it should make you feel good and show you beauty in all its forms." Swallowing hard, Prez paused and wondered, "Am I making any sense or just talking to hear myself talk?"

Keith rubbed his partner's thigh briefly and assured, "Not at all, baby. We all feel the same way." Facing Mike and Derrick, Keith asked, "Don't we?"

Mike and Derrick both nodded and wholeheartedly agreed. Mike pointed and said, "Ya wanna see beauty? Look to the west." All the boys around the table looked and beheld an early autumn sunset. Some of them smiled and some of them gasped as if they had never actually noticed a sunset before.

While the rescued boys continued to watch the sky change, Derrick softly said, "Is that the most gorgeous sunset ever? All the shades of all the colors in the world seem to be right there. That's beauty to signify the end of the first day of your new lives, right there."

Minutes later, when all the boys had turned back to the table again, Keith suggested, "Tomorrow morning, why don't you all try to wake up early and look to the east? Watch the sunrise. The sky will go from pitch black to dark blue, then get lighter and lighter with more and more colors. Any clouds will just make more pastel colors. You'll love it, I know it. Tonight you can all sleep deeply without worrying about the next day's abuse. Use tomorrow's sunrise to mark your first full day of freedom." All the boys nodded excitedly and promised they would get up early.

Whistling a catchy tune, Kyle, Tyler and Levi walked by with their trays piled so high with food it was a wonder the little boys could carry it all.

After they had passed, Derrick said, "Ya know, there's a fine line between genius and insanity..." Pointing over his shoulder at the three boys, Derrick continued sharply; "and that's the line!" Everyone at the table began giggling and laughing then became completely hysterical.

Picking up a small truffle from his plate, Mike laughed, "Catch D!" Opening his mouth wide, Derrick anxiously awaited and playfully wagged his tongue. Mike tossed the truffle and Derrick maneuvered beneath to catch it. All the boys at the table began playing the game. Soon there were baby carrots, corn, peas and other small items of food being tossed in the air. Not to be outdone, nearby tables of rescued boys began playing the game too.

Walking up to the table with John and Bruce smiling widely, Mrs. Hundser scowled disapprovingly. "I hope you're proud of yourselves. Look around; even some of the girls are playing with their food."

Keith chortled, "Sorry, mom," but didn't really mean it. Actually, he was proud of himself, Prez, Derrick and Mike. This was exactly how all these rescued kids should be allowed to act, Keith strongly felt.

Losing his smile, Prez firmly offered, "They've all had more than their fair share of chores, rules and regulations, mom."

Kaleo stood, introduced himself and explained, "I don't know if you know it, but all of us were in an orphanage run by some of the worst people in the world. Not only did they give us chores, we painted walls and ceilings, we mowed and edged the lawns on the property, all the maintenance that should've been done by adults, we did. If we didn't do it to their liking, they cursed at us and beat us." Removing his shirt, Kaleo pointed out two scars, one welt and several bruises on his torso and arms. Tory stood and showed Mrs. Hundser his own signs of abuse before Kaleo continued. "Most of us have been photographed naked and our pictures are on the Internet; even the very little kids. We were prostituted to grown men and women. Did you know any of that?"

Her mouth agape, Mrs. Hundser wiped tears from her eyes and held back her sobs. Behind her, a familiar voice called her by name. Turning around, she recognized the boy, forced a small smile and said, "Hello, Stephen. It's so good to see you again."

Stephen Wicks, age thirteen, rescued from Ewa beach back in June by Keith and Prez, nodded and began sobbing; "It's good to see you too. What Kaleo said is true. I wish I had stayed with you cos it happened to me too." Beside Stephen was another boy named Aaron Farris, rescued by Mike and Derrick, who also nodded his agreement.

"Child Protection Services did that to both of you!" Mrs. Hundser shrieked. Both boys nodded and Mrs. Hundser immediately dropped to her knees and opened her arms wide. "I'm really so very sorry!" Mrs. Hundser cried. Both boys hurried to her and hugged her tightly, wailing unashamedly.

"Kai can tell you; he had it bad too in the orphanage. And worse when he left," Kaleo said sadly.

John looked up quickly and excitedly shouted, "Kai's here?"

Kaleo pointed to where Joel and Kevin were sitting with a boy about Corey's age. Recognizing his lost friend, John ran in that direction, pulling Bruce along with him and shouting "Kai!" Looking over and smiling, Kai stood up just in time to receive a bear-hug from John.

As a psychologist and sociologist working for the largest and arguably best medical center on O'ahu, Mrs. Hundser saw literally dozens of families every month through all sorts of tragedies ranging from illnesses to car accidents to suicides. On occasion, she and her department had placed children in the care of ROH Child Protection Services. She knew one woman at CPS fairly well, she had thought, but now, Mrs. Hundser was sad and fuming with anger.

John and Bruce returned with Kai while Mrs. Hundser was still on her knees comforting Stephen and Aaron. While Kai relayed his story to Mrs. Hundser's horror, Levi came near, but remained at a distance and listened, quietly munching on cookies. Scanning Mrs. Hundser's mind, Levi learned the name of the woman at ROH CPS. Skipping away seemingly unaffected, Levi shared all he had learned with Joel and Kevin.

The six Starfleet Security personnel assigned to Joel converged on the table where he was sitting. "The poor lady is about to pop her cork," Levi relayed. "She's pretty much decided not to call the CPS lady and yell at her, but instead to tell Mike's daddy."

"That's okay," Joel smiled, "the police already know Clan's here and will keep out of it."

Looking up at the man in charge of his security detail, Joel smiled and said, "Lieutenant Vorik, contact the Endeavour. Get a detail to visit Mrs. Tamara Hekekia on O'ahu. They have to find out if CPS is involved with the problem or if it is higher up. Let's see if we can follow the trail to this 'Boss' character behind the sex-ring. I want an initial report as soon as is possible."

"I will contact Endeavour immediately and report back to you before twenty-hundred hours," Lieutenant Vorik replied and stepped back from the table.

Turning back to Levi, Joel smiled, "Can you do me a favor, Leev?"

"Uh huh," Levi rapidly nodded.

"Help Auntie Jen," Joel said, "she's helped us a lot without knowing it, and she's had a surprising day already. Help her to enjoy the luau, okay, Lil'Mouse?"

"That's easy," Levi giggled, "I'll just be me: adorable and cute!" He then ran over to the table where Mrs. Hundser was now sitting. Squirming his way between the boys surrounding her, Levi innocently asked, "You sad, Auntie Jen?"

Wiping her eyes with a paper napkin, she sighed, "Yes, I am, Levi."

Taking a cookie out, Levi said, "Have a cookie." He held out his little hand with a cookie and offered it to her explaining; "They're chocolate chip and always make me feel better." Cracking a slight grin at the boy, Mrs. Hundser took the cookie and had a small bite. "All better now?" Levi wondered.

"Almost," Mrs. Hundser smiled.

Bouncing slightly and putting his other hand on his hip, Levi impatiently reminded, "Well, ya gotta eat the whole cookie!"

Softly chuckling, Mrs. Hundser popped the rest of the cookie in her mouth. While she chewed, Levi weaseled his way onto her lap and hugged her tight. All the Hundser boys, Prez, Mike, Derrick, Corey and Bruce all began snickering and felt much better because little Levi had shown up at the perfect time. Holding onto Levi as if he were the most precious thing in the world, Mrs. Hundser smiled and admitted, "Now I feel much better."

"See!" Levi happily squealed, "Chocolate chips and cuddles always work!"

Honolulu, O'ahu 7:02 PM

On her way home from work on the H1 freeway, Mrs. Tamara Hekekia had called her husband at his office. She learned that he was just preparing to leave and expected to be home around eight. They chatted about going out to dinner that evening since neither felt very much like cooking or eating late. Exiting the H1 and driving north-east on Nuuanu Avenue, she told her husband she was almost home and would meet him there. Then they would go to Bangkok Chef, a nearby restaurant they both enjoyed for dinner. Turning left on Bates Street, she said goodbye, but her husband reminded her of a few errands that needed to be run the next morning. She turned right on Huake Place just as he said goodbye and hung up. Flipping her cell phone closed, she pulled into the driveway of her home. Slipping her phone into her handbag and grabbing her laptop computer case off the passenger seat, she then opened the car door and stepped outside.

What Mrs. Hekekia was not aware of, was that her cell phone transmissions had been monitored from the Endeavour in orbit, pinpointing her exact location. As she fumbled with her keychain to get her house key, four shimmering shafts of light appeared around her.

Startled, she blubbered, "Wha... who..."

"Mrs. Tamara Hekekia?" the Vulcan officer standing before her asked.

"Yes?" she nervously replied and quickly glanced around at the other three Vulcans.

"I am Lieutenant Ra'Vesti. I have questions for you regarding minors Stephen Wicks and Aaron Farris."

Recognizing the names, she wondered, "Is there something wrong? Has something happened to the boys?"

Realizing the woman was being cooperative and was concerned, but was obviously surprised, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti suggested, "May we go inside with you? There is a situation we must discuss."

Mrs. Hekekia huffed, "My husband will be home within the hour."

Lieutenant Ra'Vesti said, "There is no reason for fear, Mrs. Hekekia, as long as you remain cooperative and provide the information we require for our investigation."

Resigning herself to what would hopefully be a short delay, Mrs. Hekekia nodded and held up her keys. Lieutenant Ra'Vesti stepped aside and she unlocked her front door. Walking inside and turning on the lights she asked, "How might I help you?" and put her things down on the end table.

Following her inside, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti explained, "There have been multiple cases of child abuse discovered across the Hawaiian Islands today. Some have been at orphanages, some by foster parents. We are investigating these crimes. In the cases of both Stephen Wicks and Aaron Farris, the foster parents are now in custody for violations of the Safe Haven Act."

Realizing the seriousness of the situation, she softly said, "I see."

Raising an eyebrow, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti said, "You do not appear surprised."

Sitting down on a kitchen stool, Mrs. Hekekia sighed and explained, "It's a very strange world. Most families have two working parents. Children come home to empty houses and fend for themselves. They then come to Hawaii for vacations, but sometimes accidents happen. If I recall correctly, Stephen came to Hawaii with his widower father, but the father had a skiing accident and drowned. There were no other relatives able or willing to take him. There was a similar situation with Aaron; both his parents were killed in a car accident. Efforts to find next of kin to take him in proved fruitless. At ROH CPS, we try to care for far too many children with limited resources. Sometimes, investigations into possible foster homes are... how shall I say... expedited. Background checks are incomplete. Family reviews are not as timely as regulations say they should be. In far too many cases, my management has me fill in and submit forms that I know are inaccurate. But I've seen too many other highly qualified coworkers dismissed for insubordination because they were not willing to make those sacrifices." Becoming emotional, she asked, "How can we care for so many with so few? There aren't enough CPS investigators, there aren't enough truly qualified families, there isn't enough money or hours in a day to do all that the regulations require us to do." Breaking down in tears, she sobbed, "It never ends! I'm sorry. We all do the best we can, what we believe is best for the children, but..."

The Vulcans watched silently as Mrs. Hekekia cried. The woman did not appear to be acting, but such emotional displays were foreign to them. They waited a minute or two for her to calm down. Finally she rested her head on her hand and softly shuddered, "Too much stress, I'm sorry."

Lieutenant Ra'Vesti said, "Mrs. Hekekia, if you will allow a mind meld I can verify your testimony and you will gain from me a small measure of composure."

"Will it hurt? I've never..."

"It will cause you no additional discomfort," Lieutenant Ra'Vesti assured.

She nodded then Lieutenant Ra'Vesti walked around and behind her, then carefully placed his fingers around her face and head. In just over a minute her testimony was verified accurate and Mrs. Hekekia became more relaxed. Releasing his hold on her, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti said, "Tell me the name and location of the manager that had you falsify the documentation."

Pausing briefly to consider her answer, Mrs. Hekekia sighed, "Walter Saunders, 1506 Puolani Street."

Activating his communicator, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti said, "Four to beam up." Four sparkling silver shafts of light enveloped the Vulcans and they vanished from Mrs. Hekekia’s home.

Aboard the Endeavour, databases on Walter Saunders and family were reviewed and scans performed on the house on Puolani Street. Since the entire family of four were inside the house, a detail of eight armed Vulcans were transported to the Saunders' home.

Upon materialization, the Vulcan men and women heard angry yelling from inside the house. Lieutenant Ra'Vesti opened his communicator and requested an additional six security personnel be immediately transported to his location. Moments later, when the six had materialized, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti ordered, "Create a perimeter outside the dwelling. Any human attempting to escape is to be stunned." The six sharply nodded, then walked off to surround the house.

Lieutenant Ra'Vesti knocked on the front door once, but the yelling inside did not pause. Remembering that humans often used an electromechanical door bell, he quickly found the little white button and pressed it.

A man's voice inside shouted, "God damn it! Who the hell is here now? Someone answer the fucking door!"

Moments later, the door opened and a small female appeared before the security detail.

"We are here to speak with Mr. Walter Saunders," Lieutenant Ra'Vesti announced.

The girl turned and screamed, "Daddy, it's for you!"

"Fuck me!" the man hollered, "All I want to do is sit down, relax and watch TV..." He paused at the front door and upon seeing the Vulcans, loudly asked, "Well! What the hell do you want?"

"Are you Mr. Walter Saunders of Child Protection Services Honolulu?" Lieutenant Ra'Vesti queried.

"Yeah, what do you want?" Mr. Saunders angrily asked.

Lieutenant Ra'Vesti said, "We would like to speak with you regarding..."

"See me at my office!" Mr. Saunders interrupted and pushed the door closed.

Lieutenant Ra'Vesti easily caught the door and said, "Sir, I insist that we speak now."

"This is private property!" Mr. Saunders spat and pulled his right arm back, then landed a punch on Lieutenant Ra'Vesti's jaw. The door slammed closed.

Lieutenant Ra'Vesti softly commented, "Irrational and illogical," then rapidly pushed at the door with both arms and broke it down.

"WHAT THE FUCK!" Mr. Saunders yelled and spun around. "You're going to pay for that, you muthafucking alien bastard!" he shouted and hurried over to physically remove the trespassers.

But before he took a second step, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti aimed his phaser and fired. Mr. Saunders crumbled and fell to the floor. Lieutenant Ra'Vesti waved for his detail to pick up the unconscious human. Two lifted the man and Lieutenant Ra'Vesti opened his communicator then said, "Beam up security detail." Mrs. Saunders came to the room just in time to see her husband and several Vulcans disappear before her eyes.

Aboard the Endeavour, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti led the two dragging Walter Saunders to the brig. Laying the suspect down and securely restraining his arms, legs and torso, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti began his interrogation via mind meld. It took many minutes, but Lieutenant Ra'Vesti discovered more information before Saunders regained consciousness. Walking out of the brig holding cell, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti activated the force field, then went to a nearby console and pressed a few buttons to activate communications.

"Vorik," came a voice through the console.

"This is Lieutenant Ra'Vesti. Allow me to speak with Patriarch Short."

Several moments later, Joel's voice was heard, "This is Patriarch Short."

While continuing on the console to search databases Lieutenant Ra'Vesti said, "Patriarch, this is Lieutenant Ra'Vesti reporting."

"Yes, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti?"

"The CPS worker identified was cooperative. She falsified information under orders of her management, one Walter Saunders, who is now held in our brig. Interrogation of Saunders has revealed that he is part of a larger conspiracy. Members of the Republic of Hawaii Ministry of Commerce have been identified. What are your orders, Sir?"

Joel hummed thoughtfully and asked, "Do we know where they are?"

"Yes. One is on O'ahu in Honolulu. The other two are on Kaua'i. They are there at the luau, Sir."

"Understood, Lieutenant," Joel replied, and then said, "I think it would be best if we didn't cause a fuss here. Let's do this quietly and tidy it up later. Transport the two on Kaua'i directly to the Endeavour and apprehend the other on O'ahu, then continue with the investigation and report back to me. I will talk with the Prime Minister and the King and Queen as soon as we have more details."

In the background came the harmonized voices of Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike singing; "I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts. There they are all standing in a row. Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head. Give them a twist a flick of the wrist, That’s what the showman said." And Joel howled laughing.

Raising an eyebrow curiously, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti said, "Very well. Ra'Vesti out." Purposefully, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti contacted the transporter room and sent the coordinates for each of the three individuals and holding cells for each. One after another, three men appeared in three separated cells. At first they were confused, but quickly became irate. Ignoring the various rude comments and obscenities, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti waited patiently until they all finished complaining. Then he began explaining where they were, summarized why they were brought to the Endeavour's brig, and finally that he intended to interrogate each of them. "You may choose to cooperate, in which case any judgments against you may be reduced, or you may choose to remain defiant. No matter which you choose, consider your answers carefully, as they will be considered testimony in the case and will be verified via mind meld." Again the men began yelling and screaming, protesting vehemently.

From their various statements, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti postulated that none would be cooperative. Therefore he simply entered a command and stunned the man in the first cell to the left, then he went over and inactivated the force field to perform his duty. One after the other, he went through the same process. In less than twenty minutes he had extracted all the information required, but Mr. Saunders came to and began ranting. Uncharacteristically for a Vulcan officer, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti stunned him silent too, simply to gain a little peace to prepare his report. As he sat at the console, he paused thoughtfully. "I believe I will need to put in for some shore leave on Vulcan – I have been spending too much time around Terrans."

Lieutenant Ra'Vesti's final duty was to transport to the brig the remaining eleven individuals and the Republic of Hawaii's Minister of Commerce that had been identified from the mind melds he recently performed. Making his task infinitely simpler, all twelve were on Kaua'i at the luau. One by one, shafts of sparkling light appeared around the fields south of the Kilauea Lighthouse creating new conversations about their disappearance. After calling for assistance to perform interrogations on the dozen new suspects, Lieutenant Ra'Vesti left the noisy brig to contact Patriarch Short.


What a ride that was!! Did Eggman catch a wave or what!! Darn, Prez, Keith, Mike, and Derrick all in Hawaii!! All I gotta say is "Surfs Up" and we are riding a big wave now!! They end up right in the middle of all the action with Clan Short and a nasty investigation. What on earth have the gang got themselves into now?!! Well, it has definitely been an interesting and fast first chapter. I wonder where all this will lead our foursome? What's up with all these kids's being left on the beach? I don't think Mrs. Hundser is all too happy about that! Oh, now we have Joel, Kevin and a Sehlat then there are disappearing kids!! Gosh, what is Eggman up too? Well we can only hope that another chapter is soon to come around the corner!! I for one can hardly wait to find out what happens next.

Till the next chapter! Your friendly neighborhood editing pupper!!