Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Chapter 7

Ewa Beach, O'ahu C.S.P.R.D Main Base

Wednesday, November 3, 05:07 AM

Reyes woke in the nest, disturbing his kitten, Charles. Perched on Reyes' belly, Charles meowed, "What's wrong?"

"I had a dream," Reyes whispered. "Noah noticed something about our eyes yesterday. I just realized that Ryan moves his eyes more like a human."

Standing and stretching, Charles confirmed, "You have to take care of this now, don't you?"

Reyes nodded, "Yeah, I really should."

Scampering off of Reyes, Charles padded away from the nest, to the other side of the Hundsers' basement. Carefully getting up, so he wouldn't disturb his brothers or dads, Reyes followed his kitten. Jumping up onto the arm of the sofa, Charles meowed, "Daileass, my pet needs to call AI Division headquarters."

Speaking in cat, Daileass softly chortled, "So naturally, you needed to call me for Reyes."

Charles yawned, "I'll never get him back to bed otherwise."

Reyes whispered, "Set up a video conference with Jerry Owens, please, Daileass."

Setting up the connection to the Owens' residence, Daileass silently sniggered to himself, "I really have to check my sanity circuitry. Now I'm taking orders from Rimmer kittens."

The video screen on the wall activated, showing an empty room, a doorway and a curtain covered window in the distance. A moment later, a raccoon crawled up a chair, squeaking and clicking, "Hello? This is Lil. Who are you?"

Reyes grinned, "Hi Lil, I'm Reyes. Is Jerry available?"

"He's sleeping," Lil replied in raccoon.

Charles bitched, "She's got thumbs! How come she's got thumbs?"

Reyes asked, "Could you wake him, please, Lil? I have something important to talk with him about."

Lil answered, "I can try. He's not very bright and cheery when woken up," and then jumped down, out of the camera's view.

A few moments later, Reyes and Charles heard Jerry, sleepily asking, "What, Lil?" After a few more raccoon clicks and squeaks, Jerry sighed, "All right." The sound of rustling sheets and blankets were heard. Stumbling into view, completely naked, causing Charles to cover his eyes with his forepaws, Jerry flopped into the chair and yawned, "What's up, Reyes?"

Reyes smiled, "I'm sorry to wake you, Jerry."

Waving off the apology, Jerry muttered, "It's after eleven in the morning here. Normally, I would've been awake hours ago, but we had so much fun at Myrtle Beach last night, I guess I needed a little more rest than usual."

"We did have a great time," Reyes smiled.

With his forepaws still covering his eyes, Charles complained, "Both of you sitting around chatting in the buff. Can we get on with it, please?"

Jerry giggled, "I'm sitting now, Charles. You can only see from the belly up."

Uncovering his eyes, Charles grumbled, "Why human boys show off like they do..." He then proceeded to raise a leg in the air and lick himself. Charles noticed everyone looking at him and innocently asked, "What?" while purring loudly.

"Anyway," Reyes chuckled, "I realized something in my dreams and I needed to share it with you, Jerry. Remember Noah saying that he could tell who was an android by eye movement, and then me worrying about prejudices, asking Marc to correct that flaw so we weren't so easily recognized?"

Jerry nodded, "Yup, I remember. Noticing stuff like that isn't such a big deal, Reyes."

"I realize that now," Reyes smiled, "but later I realized that Ryan has somehow altered his eye movements. He's already got the modifications in place to control his eyes like any human would."

Opening his own eyes much wider, Jerry muttered, "If we could get those routines... maybe from the satellite uplink capability..." Jerry paused and sighed, "Paul would have a fit if he knew we accessed Ryan that way."

Reyes nodded and offered, "It's not life or death, Jerry. We don't have to rush anything. As a matter of fact, if Paul learned you had the ability to connect to Ryan via satellite, but haven't in all the time they've been there..."

"It might help him build trust," Jerry finished the thought.

"Exactly," Reyes smiled.

Jerry thought aloud, "A conversation with Danny or Marc, about the satellite link, in front of Paul, would initiate a confrontation."

Reyes added, "Knowing that you guys could connect to us from satellite, but never do without the android's permission, would make a big impact on Paul. You could even find an excuse to do an uplink to me. I'd realize it was happening..."

"And so would Paul, if we did it to him, and so would Ryan," Jerry happily gushed, but then Jerry got a concerned look on his face. "Wait! Ryan won't accept that he is not a hundred percent human. I don't think we could tell him we were doing it. This isn't going to be easy." He finished with a sigh.

Reyes reminded, "Ryan and Paul are in a safe environment right now. There's absolutely no reason to rush into anything. For now, just make them aware that satellite uplink is possible. Every day that goes by where it's not used is another reason to trust you guys. Then you contact me, say with a code update or something, and we let them witness the actual uplink."

"Yes, that will work for Paul, I think. Actions speak much louder than words with him," Jerry said, then paused with a thoughtful look on his face. "With Ryan though... There is no way to discuss doing it to him that won't set him off, like the hospital did, when they insisted that he was an android and not human. In his head he is human, going by what I have gotten from Paul, and what I have seen over the last week as I have watched him. But it should do us some good to let both of them witness a discussion about your uplink. Then we can disconnect it for you as well. If Paul trusts us, then we might be able to do it. Paul would have to be included in the whole process. That way he could see for himself that we are not trying anything off." Jerry's face took on a look of concentration; his expressions mimicking the thoughts in his head as he played out possibilities.

Having a thought, Reyes carefully interrupted, "Jerry?" When Jerry looked up into the camera again, Reyes smiled, "We're human boys with positronic brains. Let me take care of getting them to understand that. I'd also like to remind you of last night's go-cart race. Danny and KC were in the lead; Marc and I were right behind them, with you, Paul and Ryan grouped together behind me. In unfamiliar situations, Ryan's looking for examples of what human boys do and how they act. I noticed something else last night, during the race on the beach; Paul and Ryan were on the dune, racing well ahead of Jonah, Dillon and Hunter. They were already proving that they were a bit more than human, Jerry."

"Well Paul knows he is an android," Jerry reminded, "but you can't tell Ryan that he is anything except one hundred percent human. Also, Paul will never refer to Ryan as anything other than completely human. He's been that way since their family died about twenty years ago. Paul will not let anyone tell his brother that something about him is not entirely human, and I think he's right. If Ryan thinks he is human, so what. It doesn't hurt anything or anyone; however, incidents like the hospital are potentially bad. I think it is a really bad idea to discuss it with Ryan at all. My understanding of what is going on with Ryan is far from complete, but I believe it is the same as a delusional disorder.

"There are six key things to this type of condition," Jerry explained. "One, it is a primary disorder. Two, it is a stable disorder characterized by the presence of delusions to which the patient clings with extraordinary tenacity. Three, the illness is chronic and frequently lifelong. Four, the delusions are logically constructed and internally consistent. Five, the delusions do not interfere with general logical reasoning, although within the delusional system the logic is perverted, and there is usually no general disturbance of behavior. If disturbed behavior does occur, it is directly related to the delusional beliefs. Six, the individual experiences a heightened sense of self-reference. Events which, to others, are insignificant, are of enormous significance to him or her, and the atmosphere surrounding the delusions is highly charged.

"I think confronting him on this delusion would be damaging to him, and Paul will not allow it anyway."

"Okay," Reyes sighed, "I guess I misunderstood your intention last night. I thought you wanted to deal with both, Ryan's insistence and Paul's protectiveness.

"You know, last Friday morning, I had thirty orphanage brothers and sisters, but I was only close to four of them; Jonah, Kaleo, Tory and Liki. By Friday night, I had eighty-seven Clan brothers and sisters. I felt an attachment to Derrick and Mike that night, where I considered them more than friends, I wanted them as father figures. I didn't understand why until Austin fixed my memories Monday night.

"I still don't understand why, but I feel the same sort of attachment with Paul and Ryan. Last night I asked myself which brother was helping more – Ryan being the jubilant kid, or Paul being the protector. They help each other constantly, just in almost opposite ways. Still, I feel something strongly for them. I must, or I wouldn't have had a dream about them that woke me up."

Reyes shrugged and meekly offered, "We've evolved, Jerry. Marc didn't think he had accomplished his goal of making a more human-like android, but he has. Look at Austin, he's telepathic. I'm empathic. Ryan has developed another set of modifications on his own too. It's not an impediment, it's an advancement." A figure moved beyond Jerry, back by the door into the room, Reyes observed.

Jerry offered, "Don't get me wrong, Reyes. I think your idea is fantastic, because we could get a better understanding of what has happened to Ryan, and it would give us a chance to make sure there was nothing damaging going on in Ryan's hardware. However, Paul keeps saying that there is nothing wrong with Ryan, and changing who he sees himself as would change who he is on every level, and he wouldn't be Ryan anymore. I think he's right about that. We need to think about what is best for Ryan. Not what is easiest, or would make him what others think he should be. It is not a simple thing, but I want you to know something..."

Noticing Paul standing in the bedroom doorway, but behind Jerry, Reyes gestured for Jerry to go on.

"In the week they have been here, I have never seen them open up to anyone like you. Paul never talks to anyone for more than enough time to tell them to fuck off, and then he simply won't talk to them anymore. You have done more for them in just a meeting than anyone else I have seen. Paul trusts you more than he does me. I could see it in the way he acted with you."

Jerry appeared almost sad to when he said the last part. "I am their brother now. I may seem overprotective, but I want what's best for them."

"So do I," Reyes assured. He then suggested, "Maybe it would be best if everyone backed off. There's nothing about either of them I would dare change, and I sure don't want JJ pointing one of his temper tantrums at me. In the meanwhile, I asked Paul and Ryan to visit me here. I've got two great new friends. Keeping them friends just got a whole lot easier." Since Paul wasn't entering Jerry's room, Reyes pointed to let Jerry know that their conversation hadn't been private for a few minutes.

Jerry turned his head, calling, "Hey, big bro. If you wanna join in, come on over."

Paul looked like a deer caught in headlights. He just stood there and sputtered for a few moments before moving into the room. "Okay, Jerry. Tell me more about this uplink thing. I don't think I like it much. I mean someone can just access my brain without me knowing it. Fuck." Reyes watched as Paul began to cry.

Jerry frowned as he turned to Paul. "I don't like it either, bro; in fact I've been disabling it any time I do an update to our family. It's a leftover from when they developed Marc, and Vision left it online as a safety in case an AI went nuts. We've got a better way now; we'll just pull the AI out and bring them here if they're having a breakdown. The only interface unit remaining from Vision is here, and only Marc, Danny, or me can access it; but that don't mean someone hasn't figured out how to build one for themselves. Marc hates the thing; he remembers how they screwed with him when he was new, and refuses to let it be used unless all three of us are in agreement that there is no other way; something like the dataport being fried or other things like that. With my new program, either the AI has to turn it on consciously, or if they are offline then at least two of us have to be present for an override. The override won't work unless the AI is in a complete main processor shutdown, though."

"Remote access without your approval might have been true for Vision, but it ain't anymore." Jerry replied as he stood up and held his arms out for Paul. "You're just as human as me; and I'm not the only one who thinks that. In fact, Cory believes it and runs the Clan accordingly. Also, Ambassador Sarek has spoken for Vulcan and has declared that you have the same rights as me."

Reyes nervously watched as Paul got himself together and put his arms tentatively around Jerry. "Maybe you guys... well, I think you guys are different," Paul muttered, "but I spent the last twenty years on the streets. Most people think of androids as things, and you know it. If you guys can do it then someone else probably can. How many androids have had their heads fucked up because of this? I had to be... I had to defend us against... They always turned on us when they found out. I mean all this time someone could have totally messed with our heads. What the Fuck!"

Jerry leaned into the hug. "I promise you that the number has been zero since the day that Vision closed it's doors. Marc has had control of the sat-link since that day, and his word, along with the amount of dust on it, proves it hasn't been used since that day. The Clan gets pretty violent when you screw with a person's head unless the person gives permission to do it."

Loudly, Paul exclaimed, "How can you know for sure that someone doesn't know about it, and has been messing with androids minds for God knows how fuckin' long?"

Sitting on the sofa in the Hundsers' basement, Reyes shed quiet tears. Charles poured on the kitty-charm, trying to calm his human. Reyes cuddled Charles, silently hoping that he hadn't messed up by making this early morning call.

Facing the monitor and camera in Jerry's room, Paul's rage suddenly deflated significantly. He wondered aloud, "Reyes, are you crying?"

Sniffling and nodding, Reyes moaned, "I'm sorry, Paul. I shouldn't have called..."

"Oh yes, you should," Paul contradicted. "Thanks to you, I know about the existence of the sat-link, and that it's not been used in a long time. Fucking bastards gotta control every little thing. I also heard you describe Ryan as evolved, that he is fine as he is, so much so that whatever modifications he's made to his programming, it's worth identifying and saving, maybe to use in other androids. Not that I'll ever let that happen unless Ryan agrees, and that likely won't happen. The fact is, you called it a positive change, not a bad one, like so many have implied... Hell! Have insisted, over the last twenty years."

Reyes only shrugged indifferently. Paul grinned, but it came across more like a grimace, "Ya know, I woke because I faintly heard your voice. Since I wasn't sure, I had to find out." Reyes wiped the last of his tears away and smiled. Paul glanced at Jerry then back into the camera, seemingly wanting to say something more, but not in front of Jerry. Paul giggled and blushed, causing Reyes to do the same.

Jerry chuckled, "Okay you two, break it up for now. Paul, we've slept about eight hours. Reyes, how much sleep have you had?"

"About two-and-a-half hours," Reyes estimated.

"Then you need to go back to bed," Jerry suggested. He told Paul, "I'll get a camera and monitor installed in yours and Ryan's bedroom, bro. You can talk with Reyes later."

"Yeah," Paul stammered, "umm... that would be good."

Jerry giggled, "Use your comm-badges until then."

"Kewl," Paul and Reyes simultaneously responded.

Paul smiled, "We'll chat later, Reyes."

"I'll probably be awake again in three hours or so," Reyes offered, and then blushed, realizing he was pushing for that call sooner rather than later.

On Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, Jerry and Paul began giggling. They both said goodnight to Reyes, and Reyes said good morning back to them. The three of them began arguing about who would hang up first. Walking away from the camera, Jerry howled laughing, "I'm gonna take a shower. Hopefully you'll hang up the call by the time I'm done."

For another minute or so, Paul told Reyes to disconnect, but Reyes playfully instructed, "After you." Paul wondered where the call-hangup button was and they both began giggling. Settling on disconnecting at the count of three, they eventually ended the call.

Charles griped, "Can we go back to bed now?"

Still giggling, Reyes nodded and picked up his kitten then went back to the nest.

Wednesday, November 3, 07:50 AM

At the Rimmer family homes, the little kids had already woken up. The Hundsers had fed their kids and grandkids breakfast. Cesar and Felipe brought their friends, Murakami and Shimizu, home to the Seavers' for breakfast. Dillon, Jonah and Reyes went to the Seiberts' with Benjamin, Randy, Latoya, Lindsay, Christel and Brandi for their morning meal.

While the adults were away from the tables, getting showered and ready for the day, serious conversations were had at the Seavers' and the Seiberts'. Cesar and Felipe wanted Murakami and Shimizu as brothers, and the latter two shared the same wish. All Murakami and Shimizu had to do was tell the Seavers that this was the home and they were the parents they wanted. At the Seiberts', Reyes and Jonah were telling the others that it was time to make separate nests and become part of one family unit. Now that the Core Rimmers were married, that night would be the best time to make the change. Once everyone agreed, Reyes promised that, as the eldest, he would share the plan with Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick.

Shafts of sunlight through the window blinds and the sounds of his mom preparing for work woke Troy Faris. With his eyes still closed, he remembered the previous night. After a great dinner with Sean and his mother, he and Sean had gone to the C.I.C. dining room looking for Prez and the other band members. Much to their surprise, all the Core Rimmers were getting married. For a short while it seemed there would be no band practice and he could spend the entire night with his new boyfriend. But Prez had other ideas. A little more than an hour later, Platinum Habits was playing before a really large audience. Troy remembered every song and how he moved from keyboards to saxophone to guitar and back again, providing lead and backup vocals. They even closed the show with a short song he had recommended and Prez enthusiastically approved. The next thing Troy knew, he was alone with Sean in the dorm.

By the time Troy met Sean in the dorm room, Sean was almost spastic, he was so emotionally excited. The prior Friday night, Sean had seen Old Habits perform and he expected a rock concert, like that one had been. This time though, Platinum Habits played only a few rockers to break up the love songs and ballads. Troy told Sean that "every song was selected to teach all the kids what love truly meant, from the smallest thrill to the saddest shared moments." Agreeing that they had accomplished the goal, Sean said the concert was nothing short of incredible from the first drum beats to the last words of the last song. After a brief conversation, the Tiger was ready to play. For about an hour they orally made love. But Troy really wanted Sean to come home with him and spend the night at the condo. About quarter to one in the morning, they walked into the apartment. Judy Faris was relaxing at home in her bed when they walked in. Troy touched base with her, to let her know that he was home and Sean was spending the night. The two boys then went to the opposite end of the apartment, to Troy's room. Troy opened the sliding glass door in his room then went outside onto the balcony with Sean to show him the C.I.C. and how the base appeared all lit up at night. Sean thought the entire base was beautiful. They spent many minutes softly chatting out on the balcony. By the time they went back inside, the television in Judy Faris' bedroom was off and she was asleep, allowing Troy and Sean to make love again, this time with the dildo, before snuggling close and succumbing to slumber themselves.

The front door closed, letting Troy know his mom was gone. On top of the world, Troy rolled over and opened his eyes. At last, he was sharing his bed with another teen boy; and not just any teenager, a remarkably humble and compassionate one that just so happened to be cute and cuddly. Sean was still asleep though. Not knowing what to do, Troy considered letting him sleep, but then thought he could wake him up slowly so they could make love again before starting their second day together. Troy realized it hadn't even been a day since Sean rang the doorbell. Now he couldn't imagine spending a day without him.

The only thing Troy recognized that made him different from Sean and his band mates was the vocabulary they used. Troy was a Jersey boy and sounded like one. Prez was from Texas and had a mixed vocabulary; sometimes he was obviously a Southern boy, but other times his vernaculars varied. All five of them used the word 'awesome' a lot. Even by the pool, Troy heard a lot of other kids using that word. A minute didn't pass without someone saying 'awesome'. Briefly wondering if he should use the word more often, Sean stirred and reached an arm out for him.

With his eyelids still fluttering, Sean softly smiled and croaked, "Hey."

"Good mornin', Tiger."

Grinning and opening his eyes, Sean warned, "Don't call me that unless you want more lovin'." Troy chuckled and considered saying something, but instead just reached over for a kiss. Sean pulled Troy over on top of him. Giggling into their kiss, they began grinding against each other.

Troy pulled back and grinned, "Now that you've seen the C.I.C. all lit up at night, what do you think?"

"I think you've got the best view," Sean slyly answered.

Tilting his head, Troy suspiciously leered, "I've got the best view?"

"On top!" Sean giggled. He then wondered, "Is your mom still home?"

Troy shook his head and answered, "She left about five or ten minutes before you woke up." Sean suddenly spread his legs and Troy partly collapsed between them.

While Troy uncontrollably cackled, Sean lifted his legs and wrapped them around Troy's ass. He smiled, "You've got my heart, mind and dick. There's only one thing left for you to have."

Sean wanted it last night too, Troy recalled. Smiling down at his boyfriend, Troy brushed Sean's hair aside and softly shushed him then softly said, "Soon Tiger, but not now, okay?"

Disappointed, Sean seriously groaned, "Why not?"

"Because this play time is just as special," Troy honestly answered. "I'm not the kind that wants only sex from you. What I want is waking up with you, brushing our teeth, showering and having breakfast together."

"That sounds really good, but I can tell you want to."

"It's only mornin' wood," Troy shared. "After seven times yesterday, I can honestly wait for a more special time. Remember, I know your past. I don't want even the smallest part of me believing that I'm fucking you. It's gonna be intercourse, you and me as close as we can be, physically and emotionally."

"You're so awesome," Sean sighed, and then smiled, "No one's ever called it intercourse before. I love that word. It's so much better than banging, boinking, screwing or fucking."

"And that's the way it's gotta be, Tiger; for both of us. We can keep each other perfectly satisfied without making that final move until we're both ready." Sean nodded so Troy lay back down on him and whispered, "My dream has always been to flip-flop; you do me, then I do you. It's gonna be so much more than orgasms. My job is to get your thoughts corrected from the scumbags that literally fucked you over. Your job is to get me physically ready. The goal we're after is for it to be beautiful, not just an act. In the meantime, we keep the tigers tamed."

Sean shuddered, "I love you so much!"

Finger-combing his boyfriend's hair, Troy warmly smiled, "I love you very much too, Sean."

At eight-forty-five, the Core Rimmers were awakened by Alden, as had been arranged. However, instead of playing any old classic rock tunes, Alden surprised them with audio from their concert. At first, the sleepy Rimmers thought they were listening to a live recording of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Feet started moving around the nest. Not until Troy's sax part played did they realize what they were hearing.

Jumping up in their birthday suits, Mike and Derrick hollered, "Holy shit!"

Prez smiled, "Crank it, Alden." A second later, the sound was blasting out of all the basement ceiling speakers.

Mike gasped, "Fuck! We sound good."

Drew croaked, "Duh!" and Corey cracked up.

Derrick smiled and nodded then asked, "Alden, when can we each have copies of the concert?"

Into all the Core Rimmers' sub-vocals, Alden giggled, "There’s a wave file copy on each of your computers."

Drew offered, "I'll run it through some software and check the mix."

Alden said, "You and Corey have all the original tracks direct from the board to mix as you like, Drew."

John and Stephen said nothing. Holding their kiss they floated about three feet above their places in the nest.

Nathan stretched and loudly said, "You guys melted hearts last night."

Jacob agreed, "Between the marriages and the concert, yeah."

Jamie added, "Things have definitely changed around here."

In triplicate, the boys sang, "They're a real Clan division now."

Breaking his kiss with Stephen, John grinned, "Something's changing tonight too."

At once, Jacob, Jamie, Beau and Nathan loudly shushed John.

Beau giggled, "That was supposed to be a surprise!"

"No it's not," John sniggered. "They're all planning on sharing during breakfast."

The basement door opened and the kids that had been upstairs came downstairs. Geoff, Gage, Sammy, Dee and Richie went directly to their dads. Geoff weaseled his way between Corey and Drew. Seeing damp hair, Prez smiled, "You guys showered already?"

Richie nodded, "Me and Dee."

"Me and Geoff in another tub," Gage added. "Sammy, Kokaku and Dewi in the other one."

Rapidly nodding and reaching for Sammy's and Dewi's hands, Kokaku told his big brothers, "Sammy says when we wash, we're showing how much we like each other."

Dewi giggled, "Sammy was washed by me and Kokaku, as far we could reach, anyways."

Sammy smiled, "I had to sit on the tub rim so they could wash my hair. And no funny business, right, dudes?"

Dewi and Kokaku proudly recited, "Brothers and uncles wash only; gotta be in love to play with willies."

Richie gushed, "And it was even nicer that way."

Dee giggled, "Poppa told us, hugs count more, so we gave away hugs too, all of us, before, during and again after we was done."

Starting to get dressed, with Jacob and Beau, Jamie sniggered, "Timmy's tribe, Ewa Beach branch."

"You guys are watchin' out for each other. Excellent!" Keith cheered, and then reached up and pulled down the two closest boys, Gage and Sammy. He kissed each of his sons and whispered, "I'm so proud of you."

Dee and Richie took Prez's hands to try and pull him up. Letting himself be dragged, Prez helplessly chuckled. Richie giggled, "C'mon, Poppa! Ya gots another concert at school today."

Slipping into the pants he wore the previous night, Mike wondered, "Where are our boys?"

As Derrick dressed, Dee answered, "At Derrick's house, havin' breakfast."

"And plotting and scheming," John teased.

Derrick huffed then grinned at Mike; "We'd better check."

Mike confirmed, "Breakfast at the C.I.C.?"

Keith nodded, "We'll meet you there." He then stretched and yawned, "Let's get motivated." Soon everybody was on the move and getting dressed except John and Stephen. "What's the holdup, bro?" Keith wondered.

John sniggered, "We don't have to go to school."

"Not your school anyway," Stephen giggled.

"We'll meet you at the C.I.C.," John laughed. "I'm feeling that some of our new kids want their own Teddy bears too." As his brothers and the kids walked up the stairs, John got more serious, and sent to Stephen, 'The first thing we have to do is get you a suit, baby. I want you to come with me to the Downings' funeral.'

Stephen sighed, "I'm really not looking forward to this."

"I know," John softly said, and then planted a quick kiss. "I need you there," John explained. "You can help me keep Bruce and everybody from getting too sad."

Checking to see that they were alone, Stephen happily confirmed, "You saved all those people just to spend another day with me?" John nodded and smiled. Stephen giggled, "We're married! I can't believe it!"

"Believe it," John nodded. Then he telekinetically lifted Stephen up off him. While Stephen hovered horizontally and giggled, John stood. He grinned then guided his floating and hysterical husband up the stairs.

Stephen loudly cackled, "Where are we going?"

"To the first available shower," John giggled. "Then I'll put you down, take your clothes off and wash you, with my own two itty-bitty hands."

"I get to wash you too!" Stephen howled.

Humming affirmatively, John opened the door and teased, "Then we'll make lots o' soapy suds."

Stephen playfully screamed, "You're evil!"

In the first upstairs bathroom, Keith and Prez were brushing their teeth when they heard Stephen laughing his little butt off. Looking out the open bathroom door, they saw Stephen float by then John waved as he walked past. Prez shook his head, spit out the toothpaste and told Keith, "All Hundser men are perfectly wicked. None of us ever had a chance."

After spitting and rinsing his mouth out, Keith gleamed, "It's too late for complaints. Besides, I can't feel my brothers, but I can feel you, you sex machine!"

Prez whimpered then giggled and pushed the door closed.

Daileass sighed, "I love mornings. Six couples going for it simultaneously in three different houses. I think I love Hawaii." He then complained, "Storage space! I need more storage space!"

"You are a perv, Dailly," Draco muttered with what could only be described as a virtual roll of his digitized eyes.

"Thank you! Yes, I am a perv. Now, get back to cataloging my processors. With all the sex going on, I want some loving too."

"Mmmm.... processors!"

Alden groaned, "Eww!" and closed the channel.

Finishing in the shower, Prez shared, "I had a weird dream last night. It was as if I was watching creation, from the proverbial Big Bang right through the development of civilizations to the present."

Turning off the water, Keith turned and smiled, "That sounds intense."

"It was," Prez admitted, and handed a towel to Keith before grabbing one for himself. While they began drying off, Prez explained, "What made it seem so odd was that it was destiny; that one thing had to lead to the next and the next, right through all time. And it all led to the world around us. Meeting you when I moved here from Texas; coincidence or destiny? My parents dying so we could wind up living together and fall in love; coincidence or destiny? Finding Bruce last Friday; coincidence or destiny? Everything that happened before this very moment; was it coincidence or destiny?"

Toweling off, Keith nodded, "That's pretty deep, baby. But it does ring more like destiny than coincidence. My dream was strange too. I kept seeing connections, like fibers between me and everyone I know and love around me. I remember dreaming of my dad helping me with homework a long time ago. He was giving to me and I was giving something back to him. They were like brightly colored electronic filaments. You and I made love in the dream too. Together we lit up the whole room. In every scene of the dream, whether it was me with one other person, or with a bunch of people, I kept seeing those connections. They were powerful and good. Then I'd see other people outside our circle of friends and family. The connections were still there, but didn't feel good; they felt more like I was being controlled or forced. In each of those cases, it was bad, as if the feeling was making me feel weak or dizzy."

Their towels were stuffed into the laundry chute. They padded naked into their bedroom to get dressed. Prez said, "That sounds like the difference between giving and receiving abundantly versus always taking and never giving anything back, or wanting to give back, for that matter." After a brief pause, Prez wondered, "Maybe it’s more like controllers, ya know? Like people that only want to control other people? They force their points of view to the extreme where people back off and don't want anything to do with it, or them."

From the dresser, Keith grabbed a pair of boxers and tossed them to Prez. Grabbing another pair for himself, Keith pulled them up saying, "And your dream was more like a feeling of being in sync with the world."

At the closet, Prez pulled a Yes Fragile T-shirt over his head and hummed agreement. "Which T-shirt do you want, babe?"

Pulling clean board shorts out of the dresser, Keith replied, "If the blue Asia one is in there, that one." Prez crossed the room with Keith's T-shirt. Keith was holding in one hand a pair of boardies out for Prez to put on, and in his other hand, a pair for himself. Before Keith was ready for it, Prez slid his free hand down the front of Keith's boxers and began fondling his husband's goods. Laughing hysterically, Keith tossed the shorts on the bed and asked, "You want something more, sex machine?"

Prez nodded and smiled, "Next time, it's my turn. Don't you dare believe that I'm gonna be a top only from now on."

Keith giggled, "Like I might disagree while you're cuppin' my dick and nads!"

Prez smirked, "I'll just have to go for a ride next time then," and then released his husband's privates.

Wrapping Prez in his arms, Keith whispered, "I love you, baby."

Prez stole a deep kiss then assured, "I love you too, babe."

As they were leaving the room, they stopped dead in their tracks, for from the direction of the dresser, they heard a silvery, light, musical laugh. It hinted at something they thought they once knew, as if remembering a dream. Then it was gone. Each raising an eyebrow like Uncle Spock, they glanced at each other, but neither said a word.

At the F.Y.S. building, interviews were in progress. First on Jennifer Hundser's list was Mrs. Tamara Hekekia. Before she wasted any time, Jen had asked Jamie, Jacob and Beau to perform deep scans on Tamara the prior afternoon. The Terrible Trio gave their Aunt Jen a dump of what they read and thumbs-up gestures. Jen thanked them individually then processed what she had learned overnight.

"My sincerest apologies, Tamara," Jennifer began. "The boys told me most of what I needed to know. Your only crime is one of poor judgment. In this office, no one will ever make you choose between what is morally right and keeping your job. Both those things go hand-in-hand here. There are no ifs, ands or buts; the children choose their foster parents after we have assured the adults are acceptable foster parents." Pausing briefly, Jennifer smiled, "So please, tell me how you feel after this past weekend's... events."

Tamara began, "It may sound odd, but truthfully, I've never been more at peace with myself, since meeting Lieutenant Ra'Vesti. When my husband and I got home from a late dinner Friday night, we both saw what happened to the Prime Minister on TV. Learning that our own government was the root cause of all the C.P.S. problems was a relief. I called in sick Monday rather than go into what I was certain was a dead office. Then I saw Preston with the King on TV Monday night. I knew that my strong suspicions were justified."

Jennifer nodded, "Preston is not the same quiet and shy boy that moved to Hawaii seven years ago. There are eight boys running this division. Four are my sons, three are close personal friends of my family and the last, remarkably enough, is one of the boys rescued from an orphanage Friday. I couldn't be prouder of them all." She then leaned back in her chair asking, "Is there anything you would like to know about Federation Youth Services or Clan Short?"

Tamara nodded and softly asked, "What is going on with the animals here; specifically the gorillas and cat people?"

Unable to help herself, Jennifer grinned, "They're genetic enhancements. All of them are part of the security force protecting this base and the people here." Becoming serious again, Jennifer said, "What you referred to as 'cat people' are G-Cats. You might even run across a few chimps and ferrets on occasion. If ever you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable going to a prospective foster home, all you have to do is ask and you'll have a security team with you."

"That's good to know," Tamara smirked. "There have been times where I've felt very uncomfortable at some homes."

At the C.I.C. kitchen chow line, the Rimmers were arriving and lining up for their breakfast shakes. Derrick came in with his sons. Mike followed them in wearing his Shiny Priest robe. Naturally, almost everyone in line grinned, chuckled or completely busted up laughing. Immediately upon getting in line, Reyes thoughtfully scowled at the ceiling.

Keith chuckled, "Your Holy Shininess! Please tell me you're not wearing that to school."

Mike smirked, "Dull one, you shall be punished for your lack of Shiny respect."

"Yeah! You tell 'em, Shiny Daddy!" Four voices yelled down from the air conditioning vent.

Reyes rolled his eyes then huffed and turned his attention to the chefs.

Turning to Prez, Mike seriously said, "We have a small problem."

Afraid to ask, but having no other choice, Prez grinned, "Spit it out before it rusts or tarnishes." In the air conditioning duct, four horrified voices gasped.

"We've been Clan for four days," Mike explained. "We have three days to have everyone take the Pledge."

Keith, Drew and Corey simultaneously and uncertainly repeated, "The pledge?"

Mike seriously nodded, "I'm safe. Derrick and our kids are safe. Outside of my immediate family, no one is safe from Shiny theft."

"Omigod!" Drew and Corey laughed. Keith rolled his eyes.

"What's the big deal?" Prez grinned. "We're all Shiny lovers anyway. Do you want your CD's missing? Do you want any of the small PC or sound system connectors swiped?" Facing Mike again, Prez said, "Lead the way, Shiny Mike."

Putting his right hand on his heart, Mike chanted, "Repeat after me. 'I pledge allegiance to the Shiny of the Shiny Nation.'" Everyone in line paused, put their right hands on their hearts and duplicated Mike's words. "I pledge allegiance to the Shiny of the Shiny Nation, and to the Gleam for which it stands; one Nation under Shiny – sparkling, with incandescence and radiance for all!"

"I saw one who was mumbling! He's fair game!" Willow could be heard giggling.

The boy in question, Troy, gasped and quickly repeated his pledge loudly and clearly.

"Scared that your instruments would be stolen?" Prez giggled.

Troy, still wide eyed at his close call, nodded mutely.

Sean giggled, "No, more that he was scared HE would be stolen. He's got a shiny butt!" The other twenty-plus kids in line began laughing and giggling. Troy's jaw dropped and he turned ten shades of red then held off and cuffed Sean on the shoulder. Almost as red as Troy, Sean rubbed his shoulder and playfully reminded, "I told you there were things you had to take at face value as true."

Troy grinned, "But you told me that when we were in the shower and you were holding my shiny butt! Was I listening? Hearing yes, but not paying much attention."

The older four Rimmers were now laughing hysterically, trying to order their shakes. This normally simple task was made almost impossible by shiny shower shake remarks.

Out in the dining room, Mike stood on a chair and announced over the P.A., "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, for your own security, I must ask that you all pause for a moment. On this Shiny Day, all that glitters and sparkles amongst us demands that we take notice; Dull ones will be converted; Shiny Haters and Dull Lovers will be arrested or destroyed. Those of you who, like me, enjoy the brightness and warmth of the Day Shiny, then look forward to the fullness of the Night Shiny, please stand and put your right hand over your heart then repeat after me."

Everyone, regardless of whether or not they were personally taking Mike seriously, repeated the Shiny Pledge. "Thank you for your time," Mike said, and then took Derrick's hand and stepped down off the chair. The chatter level rose as did some chortling. As Mike and Derrick sat down to have their breakfast shakes, the giggling slowly dwindled. The original eighty-seven that had knowledge of the ferrets were sharing that knowledge with the newbies. They quickly learned that all of their personal shiny possessions were really at risk. It wasn't the other kids they needed to be concerned about; it was Mike's ferrets, and they could be heard scampering around the air conditioning ducts over their heads. Many of the newest street kids were especially concerned because they had sold themselves for the few articles of jewelry they owned. The Scoobies, still hiding in the air conditioning ducts, heard that some humans sold their bodies for Shinys.

During breakfast, Keith and Prez were discussing their dreams and the ramifications of those ideas with Mike and Derrick.

Mike observed, "For us, our lives have reached critical mass. What was once just four friends forming a band has become so much more. If what we and our families have together now isn't proof of destinies being changed, then I don't know what is. It makes me believe that life isn't just a series of meaningless accidents; it's going someplace. Now and then I think I see glimpses of where it's going, but the glimpses don't make sense."

Nodding agreement, Derrick added, "Like pictures out of context. Us and our families share what we think we know with open minds and hearts. We're willing to receive what we're being given and then return something. It's a two-way street. Like the energy between each of us is shared, give and take. It happens in our band all the time. I guess what I'm wondering is, did it start in our band or did it start before the band?"

Keith shrugged, "Does it really matter when or how it happened?"

Derrick shook his head and explained, "Just curious, I guess."

"What matters most is that it is," Prez offered. "How many other people have friendships only to acquire something without giving in return? How long can friendships like that last?"

"Not very damn long," Mike grinned. "I wouldn't want a friend like that."

Prez sniggered, "Why am I considering changing our concert at school?"

Derrick and Mike laughed. Keith wondered, "What kind of change?"

"I feel the need to play Yes' Heart Of The Sunrise," Prez offered. Knowing the extended bass guitar introduction that Prez loved playing, Keith cracked up.

Mike howled, "Beats the shit out of The In Crowd." They all nodded their heads, knowing they could play it without fancy effects and silently agreeing to shock the shit of Mrs. Diaz and the sophomores.

Derrick tapped Prez and pointed at several kids sitting at tables not far away. Prez kept seeing the same dark, 'Clan Short' green T-shirts on some of the kids. Emblazoned on the shirts were the band names 'Time Touched' and 'Platinum Habits'. Noticing Prez's surprised expression, Derrick tapped his sub-vocal and called, "Alden, where did the kids get band T-shirts with our band's name on them?"

Into Derrick's, Keith's, Mike's and Prez's sub-vocals, Alden giggled, "Well, there were extras, after Time Touched's big tour."

"How many 'extras' were there for a tour that hasn't happened?" Keith wondered.

Alden giggled, "A crate of each size, small, medium, large, extra-large and Omigod, widen the doorways."

Prez smirked, "Check out the dates and places; they're all over the place, at cities I've never heard of; some are 2014, some are 3075; they're unrealistic dates."

"In this universe," Alden giggled to the four Rimmers.

Mike smiled, "You obviously know something we don't, Alden."

"Okay," Alden playfully began, and marked the video camera feeds to store the expressions on the Core Rimmers faces. "Word of your concerts got out; Friday, which lasted two hours, not including the two encore songs, and last night, again over two-and-a-half hours long. Since the Clan already has recording studios set up in Orlando, you're considered signed to a label. There's no need to worry about anything at all, management, accounting, legal services through F.Y.S., which means Mister Hundser. It's all set. When you guys get the chance, talk with Keith's dad about it."

Keith interjected, "Drew was hoping to implement a design of a recording studio for us here."

Alden assured, "He'll still be able to do that, Keith. Russ will fill any niche you need; in design, in engineering, in mastering, whatever. The band has total control of everything."

"All that's very nice to know," Prez chuckled, "but what about the tour concert dates?"

"They're real," Alden assured. "Later this month, you'll leave and return."

All four Rimmers incredulously laughed, "For fifty concerts?"

Alden sighed, "You guys need to get with the program. What is time to a Mikyvis? You can leave here at eleven in the morning, be back by eleven-o-two in the morning and still do a fifty city tour, without stressing anything; you'll have all the time you want to do whatever you need, whether that means preparing for shows, writing songs, rehearsing and relaxing, doing what you love doing, not to mention seeing more of multiple worlds than even Starfleet can transport you to. To Dylan Richardson, your tour manager, Kyle's and Tyler's son, time is a non-issue."

For many moments, the four band mates silently absorbed what they had been told. Kyle's and Tyler's son, Prez thought, the child of the same two that created a twenty-foot tall wave. Maybe Dylan was more like Levi or Peter, Prez hoped.

Mike softly muttered, "We'll need to tell Troy and Reyes."

Derrick nodded, "And learn about how this is done. I can only assume time will be virtually unchanged here, but where we're going and what we're doing will take way longer than two minutes."

"We'll have to bring our kids along then," Prez offered.

"I'm not gonna let many months away pass without them," Keith stubbornly insisted.

Not too far away, John and Stephen sat with Nathan, Jamie, Jacob and Beau, having their breakfast milkshakes, when a group of F.C.C. kids came over to their table. Acting as spokesman for the younger kids he was with, Chad Bunting carefully asked, "John, can we get Teddy bears too?"

To Chad and the other kids behind him, John smiled, "Yep, I've already got that on my to-do list today. I only want to ask you guys a small favor, okay?"

Chad nodded and Rena Hawkin almost whimpered, "Will it be hard to do?"

Standing, John giggled, "Is it hard to give and get hugs?"

Chad and Rena shook their heads, and then the other seven kids also shook their heads.

"The cost for a Teddy bear is a hug, from each of you," John smiled. Starting the process, eight-year-old Rena stepped forward and shyly hugged John.

Wrapping his arms around her, John sent his first telepathic message to her. 'You're not evil, Rena. None of you are bad or unholy kids. You don't have anything to be afraid of here. No one will make you pray for forgiveness on your knees because of a little mistake. All you, and all the kids here, have to do is the best you can do. If you need or want help, to make your best even better, you've got all the Core Rimmers and all these other kids here to help you. Just ask for what you need and you'll have it, okay?' Rena nodded and smiled. John asked, "What kind of Teddy would you like?"

"A bigger one," Rena answered, and gestured with her hand. She added, "If it had blond hair and blue eyes too, that would be nice."

John nodded, "Okay, after lunch time, you'll get your very own Teddy."

Chad stepped close to John to give and get a hug. Again, John repeated virtually the same telepathic message, calming the boy; releasing fears instilled by his F.C.C. parents and taking an order for another Teddy Bear. While Stephen proudly watched, John met with and shared the same with the other seven F.C.C. kids. When he was finished, John re-introduced the kids to his brothers and nephews, so they could integrate more quickly and easily with the Pacific Rim Clan. Dewi, Bruce, Richie, Dee, Gage, Sammy and Geoff took over from there, introducing the F.C.C. kids to Cesar and Felipe, Reyes, Jonah and Dillon. By the time John returned to Stephen and his milkshake, he could hear giggling and see smiles on the faces of nine F.C.C. kids.

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

"I keep hearing Russian," John muttered. Without thinking about it, John had Alden connect him to the base P.A. and called out, "Who's thinking in Russian and why exactly?"

All John got as a reply was a lot of kids in the dining room giggling or calling out "Wasn't me!"

In a playful circular fashion, the terrible trio sniggered, "A simple question", "met with a simple reply", "can only mean", "it's time", "to check", "the", "main", "gate".

Grinning at the devious triplets, John finished his shake and sent, 'Save that for making Keith loopy, bros.' He put his glass down and smiled at Stephen, "Let's greet our new Clan kid, baby."

Concurrently, Kaleo, Tory, Sean and Troy were sharing another table during breakfast. The conversation began with the topic of the wedding. Kaleo shared, "Truthfully, I was surprised that Tory and I both passed the mind-melds. We've only been a couple since Sunday night."

Tory nodded and smiled, "That says we're on the same page of the same book, don't it?"

"Don't think for a second that I'm not thrilled," Kaleo said. "It's just that Prez and Keith and Derrick and Mike have grown up together. They've got years under their belts as couples."

Tory tilted his head uncertainly and offered, "Maybe the time we spent at the orphanage counts too? We were together even though we weren't a couple."

Sean knowingly grinned, "When it's right, time don't matter."

Troy agreed, "We were friends within half an hour, right, Tiger?"

Sean nodded. Tory giggled, "Tiger, huh?"

Troy smiled at Sean then assured, "Definitely! He's my Tiger."

"I love it!" Kaleo chuckled.

"We gotta get some kewl pet names," Tory prodded.

Kaleo looked down and softly muttered, "Non-stop."

"'Scuse me?" Tory playfully squealed as Sean and Troy began laughing.

Innocently, Kaleo sniggered, "I was referring to myself!"

"You lie so bad," Tory giggled.

Kaleo shrugged and cackled, "It was worth the shot."

Sean softly said, "I think I've got a kewl one for Troy."

"You do?" Troy squeaked.

Sean nodded then leaned closer and whispered, "If you like it, how about Minstrel? Or maybe Pied Piper? I'd follow you anywhere."

Troy whimpered. Kaleo and Tory turned to each other and smiled. Tory teased, "Did someone just mess their pants?"

Troy blushed and nodded then leaned over to Sean and whispered, "I like both. We'll see which you actually use and what I respond to."

Humming thoughtfully, Kaleo grinned, "We may have our next married couple in the queue ready to take their vows."

Troy chuckled, "Now that's moving at the speed of light. We just met yesterday."

Kaleo grinned then reminded, "John and Stephen just met Monday night. When it's right, age and time together don't matter."

Tory said, "We saw you two in the kitchen chow line. It's in your eyes, it's in the way you play and tease each other; it's the way you are together."

Kaleo nodded and smiled at Sean, "We were right in front of you and Horacio last night during the concert." Sean blushed and giggled. Kaleo chuckled, "We heard almost every word you said. Every time Troy sang or played a solo, you were totally under his spell."

Turning to Sean, Troy asked, "Were you?"

Fiercely blushing, Sean nodded, "Since before dinner last night. The feeling doubled and tripled so many times yesterday, it's infinite. Honestly, I may never be able to hear that 'troubled water' song without getting shaky all over."

Uncertain what to say or do in the very public dining room, Troy shed happy tears and wiped his eyes.

Seeing that Troy was emotional, Tory softly asked both Sean and Troy, "If you could get married next week, would you?"

"In an instant," Sean quickly answered.

With a huge boulder stuck in his throat, Troy could only rapidly nod and force a smile.

Sean wrapped an arm around Troy and softly wondered, "You okay?" Still unable to speak, Troy nodded then wiped his eyes again. Sean whispered, "What do you want me to do, lover?" Turning to Sean so fast that his neck snapped, Troy widely smiled. A little taken aback, Sean pulled back and searched Troy's eyes. Sean squeaked, "What?"

Inhaling deeply, Troy grinned, "Call me that again."

Sean uncertainly asked, "What? Lover?"

Troy nodded and cheered, "That's the one!" Kaleo and Tory cracked up. Troy leaned closer to Sean and softly warned, "You have five seconds to kiss me."

Turning fire engine red, Sean nervously looked around and giggled, "Here?"

"Time's up, too late," Troy sadly huffed. He then leaned over and tried to suck Sean's tongue off its roller.

While Sean and Troy were still locked at the mouth, Kaleo playfully recited, "I, Tiger, take you, Lover, to be my life partner, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live."

Only a few tables away, Prez over heard Kaleo and called over, "Who's marrying who?"

Gesturing at the two human vacuums attached at the mouth, Tory cackled, "Sean and Troy. I give them a week."

"A week?" Kaleo incredulously giggled. "A day or two, tops. We'll be lucky if they don't drop to the floor and go for it right here!"

Prez cracked up. Smiling widely at his hysterical partner, Keith loudly reminded, "We need a Vulcan for the mind-melds. At least give us a chance to call Uncle Spock back."

Finally breaking their lip-lock, Troy whispered, "Is Horacio here?"

Sean nodded and giggled, "He's watchin' us."

Troy whispered, "Then your dorm room is empty?"

Their eyes met. Slowly, two devilish grins spread. They got up and waved at Kaleo and Tory then went to take their shake glasses to the kitchen. Sean wondered, "Why the dorm and not your place?"

Troy held his answer until the glasses were safe on the dishwasher shelf. Pulling Sean closer, Troy whispered, "Toy number one was fun. Time to play with toy number two?"

Pulling back to look in Troy's eyes, simply to make sure he was serious, Sean whined. Quickly, they started to make their way to the exit. Sean softly giggled, "I'm glad you waited. I would've dropped the glass."

Troy cackled "I know!" then increased his pace. Sean began laughing and decided a brisk walk to the door was not sufficient. He ran past Troy to the door and they raced each other to the dorm.

Seeing Troy and Sean trying to hurry past each other on their way out of the dining room, Prez grinned, "Amazing."

Keith nodded, "Barely seems like the same Sean we talked with the other night."

Still playing the role of Shiny Priest, Mike prophesied, "Henceforth there shall be weekly weddings and concerts of ballads."

Shaking his head sadly, Derrick softly chuckled, "We'll need more housekeepers to change the sheets."

At the Iroquois Avenue gate, John and Stephen were meeting their newest arrival, seven-year-old, spiky-blond-haired, slate-gray-eyed, Francis Petropavlovski; who had been abandoned by his parents. Speaking in Russian for the boy while simultaneously doing a language dump, John asked Frankie where he was originally from. In a small voice, Frankie answered, "Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy."

Taking interest in the carved dolphin hanging from the boy's neck, Stephen asked, in Russian, "Do you like dolphins, Frankie?"

Speaking in broken English for the first time, Frankie nodded and widely smiled, "Very, yes, please, poppa."

Glancing at each other, John and Stephen grinned. John sent, 'We haven't been married much more than fourteen hours and we've been adopted. Our moms are gonna love this!' Thinking of his mother's dwindling Valium supply, Stephen went into a giggling fit.

The newest Rimmer family started back to C.I.C. dining room to get Frankie his first breakfast milkshake. In his mind, John heard Jamie giggle, 'So, how far did you and Stephen get during your honeymoon, bro?'

'Not that far!' John laughed.

Beau sniggered, 'What's the problem?'

'There's no problem,' John grinned, 'we simply didn't get there before doing more rescues.'

Jacob jumped in, giggling 'Too bad. Try again tonight?'

John replied, 'It was planned, but now with Frankie, we'll have to take an afternoon siesta.'

'It's called Private Time,' Jamie replied seriously. 'I just explained it to him; it's a thing that Cory and Sean started.'

"It's okay if you want to play with each other's stiffies," Frankie said in Russian. Flushing bright red, John and Stephen glanced at each other, and then at the boy walking between them.

'Nice Glow!' Jamie, Jacob, and Beau laughed in unison.

Suddenly, Frankie was smiling widely. Uncertainly and not expecting an answer, John telepathically asked Frankie, 'You know about stiffies?'

Surprisingly, Frankie nodded and replied, 'It happens and it feels good. It feels better, yes, when poppa plays with yours, daddy?'

John grinned, "Let's speak, so poppa knows too."

"I heard every word, from all five of you," Stephen smirked.

'Good, you learn quick!' Beau giggled. 'You ready for the advanced course yet?'

John gasped, "What?"

Jacob sniggered, 'It's feedback, bro.'

'In close proximity to you, Stephen's getting in the loop,' Jamie explained.

Stephen frowned, "If only I..."

'Could send messages,' John, Frankie, Jamie, Jacob and Beau interrupted, completing the thought.

'You're learning,' Jacob giggled. 'I give you five minutes more and we should have you up to speed!'

John, Stephen and Frankie walked into the C.I.C. dining room together. Stephen took Frankie directly into the chow line for his first breakfast shake. John began a conversation with all three of the Terrible Triplets, wondering exactly what 'close proximity' meant. The replies John got wasn't much of an answer; how close Stephen needed to be to John depended on Stephen; it could be as little as a few meters or as much as many kilometers. In time, as Stephen's telepathic skills grew, they would find out what close proximity meant.

Helping Frankie with his breakfast order and while waiting for the chefs, Stephen asked Frankie, in Russian, "Where were you before you came to us?"

Attempting to answer in English, Frankie answered, "The airport. Mommy and daddy left me sleeping on a bench."

Stephen wondered, "How did you know to come here?"

Frankie shrugged, "I felt good. I turn around when it didn't feel good more."

Absorbing that, Stephen realized he had a miniature empath on his hands and sent the thought to John. "You've been walking for a while," Stephen realized.

Frankie shrugged, "Easy, but it took a few hours. Left the airport around four, in the dark."

Accepting Frankie's food from Manuel, Stephen asked, "Are you tired; do you want to lay down after you eat?"

Fervently shaking his head, Frankie smiled, "Used to walk long time in snow. This was an easy stroll. I'm fine, poppa." Heading for the table where his mother was sitting, Stephen carried Frankie's tray while Frankie carried his milkshake.

Admitting that he could procrastinate no longer, Prez sighed then said, "Let's check on our Clan's status then get our buns to school." The other three nodded and they all stood. On their way to the kitchen, they stopped by the table where their sons were sitting. In an assembly line fashion, each boy got a kiss on the head from the four fathers.

The team of eight Core Rimmers met at the dishwasher. Looking up at Prez, John said, "I'm gonna have to change my school plans, bro."

Prez asked, "What's the problem?"

John shrugged, "There hasn't been one really. I'm just thinking a Clan Short N-Gen in public school isn't such a good idea. Stephen's gonna be goin' to school here. That's where I want to be. Lindsay's here too, so it's just better for everyone." John barely paused long enough to breathe and grin, "And my son is here too now."

Drew, Prez and Keith gasped, "Your son?"

John nodded and giggled, "A new Rimmer kid I picked up at our gate just a few minutes ago. His name's Frankie, he's Russian and he's seven." Cracking up with Mike, Derrick and Kaleo over the stupefied expressions his brothers wore, John laughed, "Stephen's poppa and I'm daddy. They were the first words out of his mouth, swear to God!"

Stunned silent for a few moments, Drew sighed and tapped his comm-badge. "Alden," Drew ordered, "monitor our mom and Mrs. Marr for Valium abuse, starting immediately."

"Got it," Alden giggled. "By the way, they're using them responsibly, right before bed."

Facing John, Keith started for the Command Center door, wondering, "What about Jeff and Tommy?"

"I'm gonna call them later today," John said. "I'll invite them here so we can get caught up. Today's the Downings' funeral too. I'm gonna be pretty busy."

Nodding, Prez asked, "Did you tell mom and dad about school or Frankie?"

"Not yet," John answered. "I'll get around to it today."

Opening and holding the C.I.C. door, Derrick shared, "Me and Mike are thinking about school too, bro."

Mike nodded, "It's already getting crazy; in bed at three and awake before nine. First chance I get, I'm sleeping for twelve hours just cos I can."

Keith whined, "Please don't give up on the jazz band. We worked half the summer for those spots."

Noticing a man in a Starfleet uniform in the C.I.C., Prez honestly told his band-mates, "The school concerts are the only thing messing us up this week. Two more days and Saturday then it's done." The man in the uniform turned from his station to face them. "Lieutenant Vorik!" Prez happily shouted.

Lieutenant Vorik nodded once and flatly said, "Greetings, gentlemen."

All the Core Rimmers gathered around the Lieutenant, happy to see a familiar face. Barely able to hide his own pleasure, Prez said, "Welcome back! I'm only wondering, what's brought you back?"

Standing at parade rest, Lieutenant Vorik explained, "It is a standing order in Starfleet that all Clan Divisions are eligible for a permanent Starfleet Liaison of at least lieutenant junior grade rank. Upon return to my duties on-board the Endeavour, I placed a request for transfer to your Division, should you ever ask for such a liaison. I received my new assignment this morning and so, here I am."

Prez cocked his head slightly, "I'm sorry, Lieutenant. It's not that I don't want you here, I could use the help, but I didn't even know I could ask for such a liaison."

Vorik nodded. "There is more," he said. "During your conversations with Jason Evans on Monday, you asked for a V.S.O. liaison. Based on your requirements, for command and espionage assistance, the assignment was presented to me and I accepted. I am also versed in diplomacy, data coalition and tactics." Pausing and locking eyes with Prez, he asked, "Were these not your requirements, Director O'Brian?"

Prez couldn't help smiling. "They were," he answered.

"Then our common objectives have intersected," Lieutenant Vorik stated.

Mike asked, "How are you V.S.O. and Starfleet, Sir?"

"I am V.S.O. and was a part of Le'Metra Division," Vorik answered easily. "I was placed on assignment undercover within Starfleet two years ago. My mission came to an end two months ago, and was simply awaiting transfer out to another V.S.O. operation. This opportunity came along, and so I took it, as I had nothing else pending. Division Commander Jason Evans found out about the Starfleet transfer request and talked to my V.S.O. Division Commander. I was moved into Dragon Division, Voice Company, and the assignment for Starfleet was pushed through. Therefore, I am both, your V.S.O. and Starfleet Liaison, as well as an adviser for anything Command orientated, should you require it."

Absorbing some composure and formality from the Lieutenant, Prez said, "I wish we could stay for a while to get reacquainted, but we have a concert at nine-fifty-five."

Lieutenant Vorik nodded, "I shall be here when you return. Congratulations are in order for your weddings. I was certain this would come to pass when we parted company Sunday." Everyone began thanking him.

Kaleo grinned, "Me too?"

"No," Vorik replied, "You and John were unexpected."

Prez went to Jimmy, asking, "What've you got for us today?"

"I wish I could say it's been quiet, Prez," Jimmy smiled. "When Derrick sent Reyes to AI Division Headquarters yesterday, they restored more of his memories. He was able to identify when the Child Prostitution ring was set up and by whom. The Prime Minister of the R.O.H. in 1998 was named. The AI Division security team came with Kuan Ti and uhh... dispatched the problem."

All heads in the room turned to Derrick and Mike.

Derrick nodded and grinned, "We haven't had the chance to tell you. Reyes, Jonah and Dillon returned from AI Division, with a half dozen kittens, then John and Stephen returned from their Enterprise Tour, then we relaxed the freaked out parents, then we got married..."

Sadly shaking his head, Prez sighed, "Moving right along," and then turned his attention back to Jimmy. "Send the report to my PADD, bro. Is there anything else?"

"The buses are here, boss," Jimmy answered.

Prez blinked, "Buses? What buses?"

Again, Jimmy turned towards Derrick and Mike.

Derrick giggled, "Oh, yeah, we have forty buses at each of our bases now, Prez."

"They've been paid for already," Mike cheekily grinned. Drew, Corey, Kaleo, John and even Keith turned away, giggling their butts off.

Rolling his eyes, Prez asked, "Is there anything else?"

"Well," Jimmy smiled, "we found a pair of turtle doves and three French hens in Shirley's cage this morning. Adjoining cages for the four calling birds are being prepared now. The jeweler called and said the golden rings were on back order, though."

Prez began pounding a fist into his other hand and softly counting down as he advanced menacingly on Jimmy.

Backing away, Jimmy giggled, "The A.I.'s are still processing those accounting records. Other than that, we've got nothing."

Prez called, "Daileass, what's the deal? You've been reviewing those records for a day, to my knowledge."

Over the C.I.C. loudspeakers, Daileass answered, "It's simple, Prez. Many of the debits that would be normal for any business simply don't exist. Alden, Draco and I are searching for possible matches across multiple corporations to find who's providing the assets and where the unaccounted for liabilities might be. As I said yesterday, it's screwy. If we did the Clan's books this way, we'd be short billions and clueless where the money went."

"Can you tell us which company it is that's causing you these problems?" Prez wondered.

Draco answered, "That wouldn't be ethical at this time, Prez."

Alden added, "It's a major California corporation, that's all we can say for now."

Prez nodded and sighed, "You'll let us know if it checks out or not?"

"Of course!" Alden, Daileass and Draco chorused.

"We're outta here, dudes," Keith announced.

Prez declared, "You've got the ball, Kaleo."

Kaleo proudly smiled and nodded, "No sweat, Prez."

The four band mates started for the door. Drew and Corey returned to the server room to work on the division web site. John placed orders for ten Teddy bears, but was advised to get a hundred, so the kids could make choices. Silently asking himself where he could store the remaining teddy bears, John considered some suggestions from Alden, and then decided to make use of the empty sub-basement at the FYS building as the division's new 'bear cave'. All the teddy bears would be delivered there. John could then bring the kids to the FYS building's sub-basement to choose their new best friends.

With the teddy bear situation resolved, John and Nathan then went to Lieutenant Vorik. The three of them went to the Intel console and began reviewing the search results on the Human Liberation Front.

Nathan shared, "Logan told me about some stuff that UNIT Intel discovered."

"Gentlemen," Lieutenant Vorik said, "let us discuss this privately in a conference room." John and Nathan nodded and immediately started down the hall.

Once they were all seated, John grumbled, "So, the H.L.F. has threatened all twelve of the Safe Haven states in the U.S."

Vorik nodded. "That is an implied threat directly against Clan Short."

Nathan said, "Logan said that UNIT Intel found that the H.L.F. claimed responsibility for the World Trade Center disaster. That's not generally known by very many people. As we all know, several terrorist organizations claimed responsibility for that, and supposedly investigations are still continuing; however, when motive is considered, the H.L.F. is high on the list of suspects, because Starfleet had offices in both buildings.

"They're smart, keeping information isolated to those directly involved," Nathan continued. "FBI and CIA investigations couldn't find how they were funding any operations. No one discovered how they could've executed the Twin Towers attack. They must be moving small quantities of cash around so it doesn't stick out. In the final analysis, the H.L.F. aren't faking; they're quite capable of executing terrorist activity so deep under the covers, we can't determine who is part of the organization or where their funding is coming from. Those responsible for Oklahoma City, were caught and brought to justice, but Vulcan telepathic scans of them got us nowhere. Each cell is completely ignorant and separate from all others, including the leadership."

Glancing between Vorik and Nathan, John asked, "How can we discover who these dirt bags are?"

Vorik considered aloud, "Their organization must be structured such that leadership is shared from multiple locations. We'll assume that communications between leaders and to operatives are coded, so that they cannot be identified. It would also be a fair assumption that they are not using voice or Internet text, which implies postal delivery."

Nathan scowled, "That means they don't accomplish anything quickly. The best that could be done via mail delivery is hours later that same day or the next day, depending on the distance."

"They're using bogus return addresses too," John huffed.

Nathan smirked, "We can't exactly interrogate all the employees of the various corporations whose addresses were used for threats already made."

Vorik suggested, "We must ask for and obtain the next threatening messages, and share that information with Terran law enforcement."

Nathan nodded and stood, saying, "Logan's already on it. I'll summarize our conversation on the Intel console for other divisions."

John smiled, "Thanks, Nathan. The Double J's are sharing what I've heard telepathically."

"Kewl," Nathan chirped, and then left the conference room.

Done with the H.L.F. topic, Lieutenant Vorik asked, "Your transition to N-Gen was painless?"

John grinned, "Pretty much, I've had worse headaches." He covered his mouth then cleared his throat. John croaked, "This sore throat from yesterday is killing me though. Can we talk telepathically, please?"

Vorik reached one hand to John's head and placed two fingers on his temple. 'As you wish.'

John sent, 'I need to ask you something. Over the last two days, since becoming N-Gen, I've been noticing some weird stuff. The ways people's minds are organized don't make sense.'

Vorik asked, 'In what manner?'

'Big differences. Like yesterday with Uncle Spock. A Vulcan mind I can understand being much more organized; like a perfectly clean bedroom, a place for everything and everything in its place. What's weird are my mom and dad, for instance, compared to Prez, Keith, Drew, Corey, Mike and Derrick. As organized as my folks are, their minds are cluttered messes. My brothers have much bigger bedrooms that are a little less cluttered. Their minds are almost like N-Gen minds, just no doors or windows to other rooms for processing other stuff.'

'You have identified what delineates the normal mind from the gifted mind,' Vorik stated. 'Your brothers are not N-Gen, but are virtuoso musicians. Drew is only beginning to build on his engineering gift. Kaleo and your parents are the normal minds.'

John confirmed, 'So gifted scientists, engineers, artists and musicians would seem larger and more organized?"

'It is quite likely that many throughout your history had the gifted minds you have perceived. For example, Vulcans are intrigued by Leonardo Di Vinci. He was an extraordinary artist and engineer for his time. We cannot know if he was N-Gen, gifted or normal in his mind's structure, because he has been deceased for five hundred years. Available information leads us to believe he was one of many that would fall into the gifted classification.'

'Okay, then these are known differences. No problem.'

'You have changed since Saturday, John. The boy is there; however, you are more adult.'

John giggled. 'I've got my parents, five fourteen-year-olds, a twelve-year-old, two eleven-year-olds and even a piece of Joel Short in my head now. And that's not including my younger son, brothers and sister. Keith and Prez are performing right now. I can hear each of them individually and all the music around them too. They're playing Heart of the Sunrise, and the teacher is surprised. It took me a while to just find the volume knob.' John sighed, 'I've gotta get ready for a funeral at eleven o'clock. Let me know if you learn something more about the H.L.F., please.'

Removing his fingers from John's temple, Vorik replied, "I will investigate further then inform you." John smiled, then turned and left the conference room. One thing John had already learned was that saying 'thank you' to a Vulcan was redundant after asking for something and getting a positive reply.

Kaho'olawe Island

10:15 AM HTZ

"All it really needs is Gilligan," Peter said to Quint.

Quint quirked an eyebrow at Peter. "Explain," he said.

"It's a TV show, about castaways on a desert island," Peter said. "And this sure is; there's no fresh water, mostly scrub with very little grassland and fewer trees. The whole eastern side of the volcanic mountainside leads to lots o' sheer cliffs. I guess we'll leave that as a nature area, for folks to go for hikes and day trip excursions. The western tip of the island has some nice beaches though. Maybe the northern tip of the island would be a good place for a transportation hub, airport, harbors, roads and monorail to the rest of the western side."

"Thinking big, aren't you?" Quint smirked. "Tell you what; let's turn it into something that will knock their socks off!"

Peter giggled. "Whatcha got in mind?"

"Let's bring this dead rock back to life," Quint grinned. "Water is primo-numero-uno," Quint explained and snapped his fingers. "Let's filter the salty waters of the Pacific through some porous volcanic rock and give this desert fresh water."

Peter was smiling and nodding, "How're you gonna get it up to the surface of the island?"

Quint giggled, "Simple, we'll heat some rock so the water bubbles up to a mountain lake that overflows to form small rivers and streams. Craters are ugly, almost as ugly as gorges that serve little purpose, until they become rivers."

"I like it!" Peter grinned. "Then I can put housing along wherever there's fresh water, right?"

"You can pump the water anywhere it's needed," Quint shrugged.

"What about all those scrub bushes?" Peter asked.

"What scrub bushes?" Quint replied as he snapped his fingers again. "Shrubberies versus scrubberies. I left some scrub up on the mountainside as ground cover, though," he added as a "Q R Green" button appeared on his shirt. "Now that we've got water flowing up through the rock, this place will support life."

"Hey, lookin' good!" Peter said. "Tell you what, let's get a Rimmer over here to check things out."

"Fine by me," Quint responded. "And if you want to bring Tory along with Kaleo, go ahead."

Leaving Quint behind, Peter popped back to Ewa Beach. "Hey, Kaleo," he called out. "You busy?"

Startled again by the sudden Mikyvis appearance, Kaleo giggled, "Just watchin' the kids, Peter. What've you been up to?"

"Fixing up a dessert island. Wanna come see?"

"Don't you mean desert island?" Kaleo laughed.

"Nope, dessert. Here, have a cookie!" Peter giggled, and handed off a chocolate chip cookie, asking, "Where's Tory?"

Pointing up at the five-meter high diving platform, Kaleo grinned, "Gettin' ready to dive."

Peter waited until Tory launched himself, then levitated him over to where he and Kaleo were, putting a purple hardhat on his head in the process.

"I'm taking Kaleo over to check out the Clan's new island," Peter told him. "Wanna come with?"

"Sure!" Tory excitedly agreed.

"Don't you think we need some clothes first?" Kaleo giggled.

"Clothes are overrated," Peter smiled, as a purple hardhat appeared on Kaleo's head, followed by miniature hardhats on his and Tory's 'little heads', held in place by purple jock straps.

Busting up in hysterical laughter, Kaleo pointed at Tory's pale pubescent crotch. Tory pointed at Kaleo's equipment, howling, "Purple on dark meat looks awesome!"

Around the diving well, Horacio, Hank, Keanu and Liki heard Tory's remark and cracked up. Sitting near Horacio, Sonia grinned and sadly shook her head. At fourteen, she was still a virgin, but she very much enjoyed her new home and the silly sexual remarks passed by many of the older boys. At last, she could be herself and not worry about what her parents might complain about. Still laughing, Horacio looked at his hopeful girlfriend and playfully bounced his eyebrows. That pushed Sonia to giggles, especially since Horacio was naked, Hispanic and also had dark skin. Although Sonia did have on a bikini top and a pair of shorts, Horacio suddenly thought it might be wise to slip into his boardies.

Mentally messaging John that he was stealing Kaleo and Tory, Peter then transported them to the top of Kaho'olawe Peak to show them what he and Quint had been doing.

Eying the two teenagers, naked except for purple hardhats on head and penis-head, Quint chortled, "Planning on a nudist resort, Peter?" Quint turned to Kaleo and Tory, bragging, "This dried up ol' lava crater is now a mountain freshwater lake, fed directly from the Pacific Ocean and filtered through rock." There were hundreds of evergreen trees as far as the eye could see surrounding the lake, making the crater rim far less obvious. "Peter and I thought the eastern third of the island could be like a natural preserve, where folks could hike and camp without having to leave the island," Quint offered, and then transported the four of them to the eastern side of the lake. Kaleo and Tory gasped at the beautiful sight of a waterfall that dropped off the cliffs in at least three stages to the Pacific about two kilometers east and far below.

"My God," Kaleo reverently cheered, and then smiled, "This is hardly a desert island anymore."

"You ain't seen nothin' yet," Quint grinned, and transported all four to the western side of the lake, where another smaller waterfall fed a river that wound down the island, split into three, one to the south and the other two to the east, and fed numerous streams in the distance. They transported again, this time to a large green field that seemed unnaturally flat, considering the location. Quint giggled, "While Peter was gone getting you two, I decided to smooth this area; it's about three kilometers long by one-and-a-half kilometers wide, so you have a good place to put an airport and harbor, at some future time."

Peter asked Kaleo, "Does Prez have any idea what this island might be used for?"

Shaking his head, Kaleo smiled, "It's way too big for a Rimmer base, so Prez gave it to Cory Short, for all of the Clan to use. I guess we can use it for whatever Cory and Prez decide."

"It's prettier than Kaua'i now," Tory smiled. Kaleo rapidly nodded agreement.

"Aww, it was nothin'," Quint cheekily giggled, and then transported the group to the western beach. "I made this like other famous beaches I've seen, so it can be used as a recreational area in the future. Palm trees line the beach, making it appear similar to beaches in Florida and California."

Quint smiled, "I saw one other place that really didn't need too much from me." He transported them to a small, secluded beach where a house already stood. Pointing to the western bluff and cliffs, and slightly further north, where the final stage of the waterfall cascaded into the ocean, Quint said, "This place is so private and pretty, I thought it would be a perfect place for a Core Rimmer retreat, so I put this house here. It's powered by solar and wind, so it has all the modern conveniences, including a food replicator, so you don't even have to worry about cooking while you're here. I thought it should be large enough for all you guys, so I copied one of the single-family homes at Ewa Beach; six bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms and a full basement. As you can see, there's no access to this spot, and I don't believe there should be a road or a dock. Just have an AI transport you to Keoneuli Beach when you want to spend some time away."

"This is awesome!" Kaleo gushed.

Peter giggled, "Whatever you decide the island is to be used for, let us know."

Quint grinned, "Let's give it a day or so before we build anything. With all the subterranean water flowing now, we have a very large aquifer under this mountain, so it needs to settle, then we can begin building whatever you guys want."

"We've got plenty of time," Kaleo offered.

Tory added, "And you dudes have turned a desert into a lush green paradise already. The Clan could do whatever we want with this island now, even if it's just a private get-away."

Peter giggled, "We're glad you like it. You wanna go back home now?"

Kaleo nodded, "Yeah, we really should. All the other Rimmers are busy and it's only Aunt Lanna and Uncle Carl watchin' the kids."

Ewa Beach

10:17 AM HTZ

Out in the C.I.C. dining room, John found Stephen with his mother and Frankie; exactly where Stephen said he would be. Hurrying over, John rested his hurt arm across his partner's shoulder then leaned over and kissed his mother-in-law on the cheek.

Kathleen Marr grinned at her son; "Either John's read my mind or you've made a wonderful choice."

Placing his virtual halo over his head, John innocently giggled, "I had no idea from you or Stephen that's what I was supposed to do. It's just what I wanted to do."

Reaching a hand up to place on John's arm, Stephen smiled, "A wonderful choice, ma. That's the way he is without using N-Gen powers. With his N-Gen powers, it's a hundred times better."

"Ten times," John playfully corrected. "You multiply it by ten to get the hundred times."

Turning towards Frankie, John asked, "Do you like your new grandma, Frankie?"

Frankie nodded and smiled, "Granny Kathy is very young and pretty. She got me tarts to go with my milkshake, daddy."

Kathleen Marr giggled, "I'm not even thirty yet and already a grandmother. Not many would believe it..."

"Outside the clan," Kathleen and John chorused.

Stephen giggled and happened to notice the wall clock. "We've got a funeral to go to, ma," Stephen explained. "Frankie and I still need to get suits too." Turning to John, Stephen asked, "How long do you think we'll be gone, hon?"

John answered, "Bruce said only an hour or two, tops. By one o'clock, we'll be back, I guess."

Stephen got up and kissed his mom, then softly said, "We'll be back for a late lunch." Sliding off his chair, Frankie gave his new grandmother a kiss on the cheek. then stood between John and Stephen.

"I'll be waiting," Kathleen smiled.

John tapped his sub-vocal and called, "Alden, take me, Frankie and Stephen to the store, by the dress clothes."

Alden giggled, "Soul and Power Rimmers in the store!" He transported them then finished, "Activating dressing room cameras."

John sniggered, "You goof! Are any of your cameras ever inactive?"

"The basement store ones were, until now," Alden giggled.

Reaching for Stephen's hand, John smiled, "Let's get you something really sharp lookin', baby."

In the C.I.C. server room, Drew was in the groove, coding away and rapidly tapping at the computer keyboard. Keith remarked once that Drew should've played piano, his fingers were certainly nimble enough. Corey had completed his graphics work and gave Drew the file names necessary to complete the majority of the division's web pages. Not quite as busy as he had been the prior day, Corey called, "Drew?"

Busily working, Drew softly replied, "Yeah?"

Corey giggled, "More."

"More what, angel?" Drew muttered.

"Babies," Corey giggled.

Abruptly stopping what he was doing, Drew spun around in his chair, smiling at Corey. "We've done it four times since we got married," Drew sniggered.

Corey shrugged then rolled his chair closer to Drew. Corey whispered, "I like it a lot."

Drew giggled, "Can you stay in idle for just five more minutes? I can finish this one page in five minutes or less."

Corey nodded, but remained close enough to Drew where he could watch every move and see every small hair on Drew's arms. He began daydreaming, remembering the first time he had seen all three Hundser brothers naked at Ewa Beach. It was over four years since that summer day-trip, where all the current Rimmer families and the O'Brians spent a day together. There was no doubt about it, the Hundser boys were the cutest on the entire beach that day. John was six, Drew was almost eight, and Keith was near his tenth birthday. Back then Corey was smitten with all three brothers. Even then, they were eye-candy. Now, Corey considered his new hubby the best looking of the lot. Reliving those memories, Corey knew that everyone there had to notice his long lingering stares at each of the three Hundser boys. Now that they had gone 'all-the-way', Corey couldn't take his eyes off Drew. Corey couldn't believe how careful and excruciatingly slowly Drew made love, not only the first time, but the subsequent three times. Drew had been asking for a turn since finishing their second time, and Corey believed he was ready to be just as meticulous as Drew had been.

Drew giggled, "I'm hurryin'."

Standing and pushing the chair away, Corey stood and moved directly behind Drew. He silently mused, "How can the back of his head look awesome?" and then started gently finger-combing Drew's hair, causing Drew to cringe and giggle louder. Widely smiling, but allowing Drew to finish his work, Corey began tracing lines up Drew's arms to his shoulders.

Drew sniggered, "The chubby I got knowing you were horny is turning into major wood."

Corey smiled, but tapped his sub-vocal. "Alden, as soon as my hubby stands and takes hold of me, transport us to our townhome's master bedroom."

Alden giggled, "I can even have him naked upon arrival, Corey."

Considering it for a moment, Corey giggled, "Another time, maybe. I'll take care of that this time."

"Signal me with 'escape plan N' when you want," Alden instructed.

"Easy to remember," Corey giggled.

Watching as Drew saved and closed the file sent Corey's expectations into overdrive. Drew stood and faced Corey, but didn't take hold of him. Drew only caressed Corey's cheek and jaw before beginning his usual tender kisses across Corey's bottom lip, and then his top lip.

Corey whimpered through giggles, knowing that Drew was purposefully delaying the inevitable embrace. When, at last, Drew moved to finish his kisses with the knock-out lip lock and hugged Corey, they opened their eyes in their bedroom, right beside the bed. Wasting no time, Corey went right to work disrobing Drew. One thing they always relished was being able to touch each newly exposed area of skin. On a mission, Corey took extra seconds feeling up Drew's torso, waist and legs. Ticklish to the extreme, Drew was soon laughing hysterically. He giggled most of the time he was undressing Corey. The few moments Drew wasn't giggling, he was kissing Corey. Drinking in each other's bodies for a moment or two, they flung themselves together and held on tightly while desperately kissing.

It took about thirty minutes for Frankie and Stephen to finish choosing clothes and shoes. Even in his navy blue suit, Frankie proudly displayed his dolphin necklace over the tie. Stephen remained dressed in a dark brown pin-striped suit and carried his other clothes. John then asked Alden to transport them directly to his bedroom, so he could get changed.

Bruce was already in the room changing his clothes. In a somber mood and sitting on a bed with a blue dress shirt on, his underwear and socks, Bruce forced a smile for John and Stephen.

After introducing Frankie to Bruce and getting a weak attempt of congratulations, John smirked, "It ain't workin', bro," and then began changing clothes.

Bruce sighed, "Do me a favor, please, John?"

"Anything," John answered.

Bruce softly said, "Don't help me today."

Pausing, John locked eyes with Bruce and asked, "Are you sure?"

Bruce nodded and wiped his eyes saying, "I should feel it today. I keep telling myself, 'bad things happen so good things can happen'. It makes sense, but it ain't workin'. No N-Gen empath tricks, not today."

John nodded and promised, "No N-Gen empathy, just the same empathy I had before Monday. I can't stop that; not ever and 'specially not with you."

Bruce nodded and again forced a grin, "I couldn't ask for a better brother. You've helped me so much already. Since Sunday night, you've been great, really."

"That's what you'll always have now, Bruce; brothers that care," John assured.

Stephen reminded, "Don't forget your little sister, Carmella. She thinks the world of you, Bruce."

Fumbling with his white dress slacks, Bruce nodded, "I know it. It's not that I don't love it here. I do. It's just... my..." Breaking down, Bruce dropped his pants, wiped his eyes with both hands and wailed, "My mommy and daddy! Everything was so simple! There weren't abused or abandoned kids in the world. What I didn't know about wasn't there. Then I was left alone, a whole night! The next day I was found by nice people. Later, almost a hundred kids were worse off than me. By the end of the weekend, I was just like them! I'll never dress in costumes on Halloween ever again! From now on, the last four days of October will always feel different.

"I ain't stupid. They were dead Thursday night, that's why they didn't come back. It took three days for them to be found. That means they were driftin' in the ocean all that time. All I want to know now is what happened on that boat? Once I know that, I think maybe I can start feelin' better."

Bruce continued to sob, with his eyes covered by his fists. John looked helplessly at Stephen. He sent, 'I want to go to him, but I can't. He won't accept that I'm just holding him. Can you do it, please, baby?'

Stephen only nodded and went to sit on the bed beside Bruce. Frankie followed his poppa and sat on the other side of Bruce. Stephen barely got an arm around Bruce's back before Bruce grabbed hold of Stephen and bitterly cried. John gave Stephen all the help he needed to help Bruce. More than anything, John wanted to be sitting with Bruce and holding him while he grieved. For the second time since Monday, John wished he could give away his N-Gen abilities. They got in the way when he first met Stephen and now they were in the way again with Bruce. He sent those thoughts and feelings to Stephen while he continued to dress. Stephen offered his own thoughts to John, so he could realize that his N-Gen skills were helpful more often than not. Once John was completely dressed and only had to grab the suit jacket, he went to Bruce. Picking the pants up off the floor, John held them open and Stephen helped Bruce step into them.

In a short few minutes, they had Bruce dressed. Leading him to the bathroom, John wet a washcloth and cleaned him up. It was already after eleven. They were supposed to be at the Iroquois Avenue gate by eleven. Alden was called by John and the four of them were instantly transported to the security station at the gate. Already waiting were Jim and Jennifer Hundser and Bruce's closest friends; Reyes, Bane, Benjamin, Dillon, Geoff and Jonah. Bruce's newest little brother, Dewi, also wanted to come along. No one was certain how much Dewi knew of funerals, but he wanted to be with Bruce and John. John introduced his parents to Frankie, the newest rescued boy, and telepathically told them that he and Stephen had been adopted by Frankie, making the Hundser adults Frankie's unofficial grandparents. Already occupied with Bruce, neither Jen nor Jim said a word. John felt his parents' surprise, but the only other thing he felt from them was concern for Bruce. The Scooby Gang was lined up, dressed in their new shiny black patent leather belts and hats. A separate Hummer carried six security personal. Once their passengers were loaded, the two vehicles started for the Waipahu Soto Zen Temple. It was only a few miles away and took about fifteen minutes to arrive.

Bruce was dressed in a white suit with a navy blue shirt and a white tie. Monday night, while they were choosing suits in the C.I.C. store, Bruce had shared that white was more proper for the family of the departed at Buddhist funerals. The other boys felt that Bruce should be easily identified as the relative of the deceased. They therefore chose suits of dark blue, charcoal gray or black.

In the room were the two closed wooden caskets. Before each casket was a small altar. The altars had photographs of the deceased, bowls of fresh fruit and small arrangements of flowers from Bruce's grandparents in the United States and from Clan Short. Between the two altars was a third altar holding a small sculpture of Buddha and traditional flower arrangements.

Buddhists do not believe in expensive, extravagant displays for the deceased during their funerals. As with many other religions, the body without the soul is an empty vessel, nothing more than the remaining matter.

Bravely, Bruce walked into the room first. He went to the center altar, clasped his hands together and bowed before Buddha. The group of seven monks sitting in the lotus position behind the caskets began chanting. Following Bruce's lead, John, Stephen, Frankie and Dewi in turn clasped their hands together and bowed before the altar. When everyone had shown their respect before Buddha, they all sat and waited for the monks to complete their chant.

The monk in the center of the seven stood. So did Bruce and therefore everyone followed his lead. The monk said, "Hinder not yourselves, Ananda, by honoring the remains of Tathagata. Be zealous, I beseech you, Ananda, in your own behalf. Devote yourselves to your own good! There are wise men, Ananda, among the nobles, among the Brahmins, among the heads of houses, who are firm believers in the Tathagata; and they will do due honor to the remains of the Tathagata." The center monk then resumed the lotus position and all seven chanted for several minutes. Bruce, his family and friends sat quietly until the center monk stood again.

Once the assembled group was standing, the monk recited verses for contemplation. "Short, alas, is the life of man, limited and fleeting, full of pain and torment. One should wisely understand this and lead a holy life, for no mortals ever escape death.

"Just as the dewdrop, at the point of the grass blade at sunrise, very soon vanishes and does not remain for long; just so is the dewdrop-like life of men very short and fleeting.

"There are some cases in which a person overcome with pain, his mind exhausted, grieves, mourns, laments, beats his breast, and becomes bewildered. Or one overcome with pain, his mind exhausted, comes to search outside, 'Who knows a way or two to stop this pain?' I tell you, monks, that stress results either in bewilderment or in search.

"A blessing: friends when the need arises. A blessing: contentment with whatever there is. Merit at the ending of life is a blessing. A blessing: the abandoning of all suffering and stress. A blessing in the world: reverence to your mother. A blessing: reverence to your father as well. A blessing in the world: reverence to a contemplative. A blessing: reverence for a Brahmin, too. A blessing into old age is virtue. A blessing: conviction established. A blessing: discernment attained. The non-doing of evil things is a blessing.

"Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real. Discover that there are virtuous things and there are non-virtuous things. Once you have discovered for yourself, give up the bad and embrace the good."

After another few minutes of chanting, the center monk stood again. He said, "Transference Of Merits To The Departed. Idam me natinam hotu, Sukhita hontu natayo. Idam me natinam hotu, Sukhita hontu natayo. Idam me natinam hotu, Sukhita hontu natayo. Let this love of family accrue to our relatives, and may they be happy!"

The remaining six monks then recited verses of thanksgiving. "Just as the full flowing rivers fill the ocean, even so what is given from here accrues to the departed. Whatever you wished or wanted may it quickly be. May all your wishes be fulfilled as the moon upon the fifteenth day, or as the wish-fulfilling gem."

Shortly after eleven that morning, Troy and Sean emerged from the dorm and went to the pool. Almost all the kids were there, but both teen boys perceived far less chatter and joyful children yelling. They swam around the pool then went and dove into the diving well. Everyone seemed to be having fun, but it was far too quiet. Finally, Sean's curiosity got the better of him and he went to Lanna Seaver. That's when they learned of the Downings' funeral. Troy didn't know who Bruce was, but learned from Lanna, Sean and Carmella. Having had Buddhist friends in New Jersey, Troy knew that the kids shouldn't be acting reserved and quiet. The lives of the deceased should be celebrated in a respectful way. Lanna agreed, but couldn't flip a switch to change almost a hundred kids. Sean and Troy went to Kaleo.

"Something's gotta give here," Troy told Kaleo. "It's bad enough now, but when Bruce comes back, he needs normalcy; kids playing and willing to play with him."

"There's not much I can do," Kaleo said. "Yeah, I can have Alden patch me across the P.A. and make an announcement, but that's not gonna change anything."

Sean softly said, "I have an idea." Troy, Kaleo and Tory looked at him. Sean asked Troy, "Do you know some sing-a-long songs?"

Troy shrugged, "Yeah, a couple."

Kaleo smiled, "That would do the trick. It would get them all out of their funk." Before Troy had a chance to say anything, Kaleo tapped his sub-vocal. "Alden, transport Troy's guitar here."

A second later, Troy's guitar case was on the ground beside Kaleo's chair. Troy grinned, "Don't you guys believe in walking to get stuff?"

Kaleo chuckled, "Time is of the essence."

Kneeling down, Troy took his guitar out of its case, saying, "You guys need to help me out. A sing-a-long with only one person singing doesn't really qualify."

Kaleo smiled, "You start playing and I can almost guarantee, some kids will hear and join in."

Troy stood, began playing and singing. "It's a world of laughter, a world of tears, It's a world of hopes and a world of fears, There's so much that we share, That it's time we're aware, It's a small world after all.

"It's a small world after all, It's a small world after all, It's a small world after all, It's a small, small world."

Drew, Corey, Richie, Dee, Gage, Sammy and Clint came over and were the first to join in singing with Troy.

"There is just one moon and one golden sun, And a smile means friendship to everyone, Though the mountains divide, And the oceans are wide, It's a small world after all.

"It's a small world after all, It's a small world after all, It's a small world after all, It's a small, small world." While Troy repeated the final chorus, more kids came over and joined in.

After the fourth repeat, Troy ended the song then started a different one. "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands! If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands! If you're happy and you know it, And you really want to show it, If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands! If you're happy and you know it, stamp your feet! If you're happy and you know it, stamp your feet! If you're happy and you know it, And you really want to show it, If you're happy and you know it, stamp your feet! If you're happy and you know it, shout hooray! If you're happy and you know it, shout hooray! If you're happy and you know it, And you really want to show it, If you're happy and you know it, shout hooray! If you're happy and you know it, do all three! If you're happy and you know it, do all three! If you're happy and you know it, And you really want to show it, If you're happy and you know it, do all three!"

By this time, there were the two adults, at least forty kids, some older and most of the younger ones, gathered around Troy, Sean, Kaleo and Tory. Judy Faris came over to gather towels for the laundry and saw what her son was doing. The rug-rats that were over by the playground heard the singing and came over too. Troy continued playing and singing 'Yellow Submarine', 'All Together Now' and 'Give Peace A Chance'.

Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick returned to the base from school to hear almost a hundred voices repeating, "All we are saying, is give peace a chance," over and over again. Following the sound of kids singing, the foursome walked from the housing complex, where they had arrived, to the pools. Kaleo got up and told them what was going on. "It didn't take much prompting either," Kaleo grinned. "Sean suggested it, I had Alden get Troy's guitar and he went for it."

Prez waved his team further away from the loud singing, to the far side of the pool house. "Y'all know what we have here?" Prez prompted.

Drew and Tory shrugged. Corey giggled, "A better time than we were having!"

"Exactly right," Prez smiled. He then tapped his sub-vocal and called, "Alden, log this date and time."

"Go ahead, Prez," Alden replied.

Prez grinned, "Effective immediately, there are two new members of the Core Rimmer team. Sean Moorhead and Troy Faris are the Morale Rimmers. When any of us notices the kids are down, the Morale Rimmers will be called to come up with some activity to get them up again."

Keith howled, "Morale Rimmers now!"

Kaleo cracked up and laughed, "Get them up again?"

Tory joked, "Any of us could've easily done that!"

Mike snickered, "No, no, getting the boys up is only half the battle."

Derrick playfully wondered, "Is that part of their job too as Morale Rimmers?"

Shaking his head sadly, but smiling widely, Prez chuckled, "How long has the sing-a-long been going on?"

Drew shrugged, "About twenty minutes."

Troy finished the song and the other Rimmers hurried over to the mass of kids. At the end of the song, they all clapped their hands along with the kids. Prez loudly asked, "Is everybody havin' a good time?" More than a hundred positive replies burst forth. "Right then," Prez laughed, "there are now two new members of the Core Rimmer team. Sean and Troy are the Morale Rimmers and report directly to Kaleo, the Mouth Rimmer." Having started another load of towel laundry, Judy Faris walked out of the pool house and heard the announcement. Beaming with pride, Judy began laughing. About a dozen of the older male ex-prostitutes cracked up, but most of the remaining kids cheered.

Bewildered, Troy and Sean looked at each other. They then shrugged and Troy said, "You'll have to outline what our jobs are, Prez."

"No problem," Prez nodded. He then loudly said, "Lunch time!" and again the kids cheered. The Clan got up and started towards the C.I.C. Prez told Sean and Troy, "We'll chat while we eat."

Troy put his guitar back in its case then Kaleo had it transported back to Troy's condo. Troy and Sean walked with Prez, Keith, Mike, Derrick, Kaleo and Tory to the dining room. Troy said, "I don't even know what it means to be Clan. What can I do to help besides play and sing? I really don't feel worthy or prepared for this."

Shaking his head, Sean softly queried, "Now you don't feel worthy?" He pulled Troy close and assured, "You're way more worthy than me, Lover."

Keith grinned, "Come on, dudes, enough of that worthiness garbage. Guess what; we didn't feel worthy either on Saturday when Joel made us Clan. What makes you worthy is what you do naturally, without instruction. After last night, the kids know you and trust you, Troy. That's more than half the battle, right there."

Prez nodded his agreement, saying, "You guys can do a lot just by being around. How much you take on is up to you. If you want, you can organize soccer teams or basketball teams. Or maybe we can have various different activities; stuff that gives kids something more to look forward to."

Mike offered, "How about monthly dances for the teenagers? Just think of alternatives that groups of kids might like."

Derrick chimed in, "We could use help with the various rescues too. Monday night we had three rescues. Last night at midnight, we were transporting from base to base and picked up another nineteen."

Prez said, "I won't require you two dudes to do that, but if you're willing, I won't refuse the help."

Troy shrugged, "I don't even know what that means. What kind of rescues?"

Mike explained, "Sometimes kids come to our main gate and we go get them. Other times, we transport to our other bases and pick up kids."

Expanding on it, Derrick added, "And once, we had a group transported to us by the UNIT Rapid Response Base Commander." Noticing Sean's bewildered expression, Derrick wrapped an arm around him. When Derrick, Sean and Troy came to a stop outside the C.I.C., the entire group stopped.

Sean softly asked, "Why make me a leader?"

Prez smiled, "I have several reasons. First of all, when we were showing new kids to dorm rooms, you were there and doing the job every bit as well as any of us. Secondly, you and Troy are not only boyfriends, but have become a team. Teamwork is extremely important in this division. I can't do the job alone. Cory Short doesn't even expect me to do it alone. I need teammates; Keith to bounce ideas off of; Mike and Derrick as historians; Drew and Corey and John and Kaleo all have their bits to do. How can I possibly manage a hundred and fifty by myself?"

After planting a quick kiss on his partner's cheek, Keith nodded and elaborated, "Think of it this way – there are four dorms here, that's four hundred kids. We're eventually going to need leaders in each of the dorms at each of five bases. The eight of us can't possibly manage two thousand kids across five bases. The first eight of us originally included Bruce. But Bruce had his own stuff to deal with all weekend. He's putting the finishing touches on his situation right now. When Bruce has pulled himself together, he's going to be a Core Rimmer too, just like Joel originally intended. John's made Stephen his partner. When Stephen feels more stable, he'll eventually become a Core Rimmer too. In the long term, we're going to have chances to give lots of kids leadership opportunities. They may or may not be Core Rimmers, but they'll report to one of us. The job is huge and has to be shared, Sean. You made yourself a leader, just by being yourself."

Kaleo moved closer to Sean and said, "Saturday and Sunday, I didn't feel too capable in my job either. But these guys have made me feel like a brother each and every day. Their belief in me gives me the self-confidence I never thought I'd have. If I can participate then you can too, Sean. Sometimes it’s so easy it doesn't even feel like I'm doing anything worthy of praise. You'll see – it'll be the same with you."

Troy squeezed Sean's hand and reminded, "I told you that you are worthy; you're worthy of me and so much more. And best of all, we get to work together just like all these other guys get to work with their partners."

Mike nodded, "That's the trick right there, Sean. We each affirm the others' abilities to do the job. No one goes out of their way to do the wrong thing. When it happens, it's how others deal with it that makes the difference. Don't attack as if the world is ending because of a simple mistake. You talk about it. Me and Derrick talk about stuff alone. Every one of the couples on this team has their own conversations. Then we get together and deal with stuff as a big team." He then grinned and reminded, "Like my Shiny Pledge announcement this morning. Do you think I just did that without saying something to Derrick?" Sean shook his head and giggled. Mike added, "I know, it's funny, but it is a serious issue we all have to deal with. I heard some of the kids talking about it too. Standing in front of amplifiers hasn't blown my hearing to hell yet."

Smiling widely, the entire team went into the C.I.C. for lunch. Glancing over towards the corner of the room, where Shirley's cage was, Prez noticed that four new cages existed. Shirley now had two turtle doves and three French hens with her. The four calling birds were making their presence loudly known.

Troy and Sean were near Mike and Derrick in line. Troy had planned the positioning and asked Mike, "Tell me about the ferrets, please?" Mike went through the entire tale of how he met Spike, how Logan mentioned shiny music and how he had simply ran with it. Without Mike intending for it to happen, Spike came to love and respect Mike and wanted to be adopted. The next thing Mike knew, he was a ferret-human hybrid father and Shiny Priest. Troy thought the story was sweet and really wanted to meet the Scooby Gang. Mike explained, "Imagine a ferret, but slightly larger and with human intelligence. When they stand upright, the Scoobies are about two feet tall, but at least half the time, they're scampering around on all four limbs. What you wind up with are furry kids that still have a fascination with shiny objects. Thus, the Shiny Pledge, The Shiny Anthem and The Shiny Religion."

Sean and Troy grinned and uncertainly repeated, "The Shiny Religion?"

The boys made their way to a table and, as they sat, Derrick explained, "Take the Bible, for instance. 'In the beginning the Great Shiny created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without shinnies and void, and dullness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of the Great Shiny moved upon the face of the waters. And the Great Shiny said, Let there be Shinies, and there were Shinies.' As I understand it, all the world's great religious texts are being adapted and translated."

"Ultimately," Mike added, "you can blame Joel. He made all the ferrets really believe it's real. Only High Priest Dave believed it before Joel did something. Now they're all Shiny fanatics!"

At a nearby table with Jacob, Jamie and Beau, Nathan interjected, "I think it was Logan who explained them the best. Take someone who will probably never lose the wonderment of a child, and give them something that they truly believe in. Ferrets have it hard coded into their DNA to like shiny things. They are the perfect thief in many ways; now add in human intelligence."

Troy grinned, "They're gonna love me and my saxophones then."

Prez nodded, and between bites of his cheeseburger, smiled, "Especially if you keep them polished and shiny."

Turning to Sean, Troy asked, "What do I do when I put my guitar away?"

Sean swallowed and answered, "Wipe down the body and especially the strings."

Keith smiled, "And your saxophones are shiny brass with Mother of Pearl keys. Did you wipe them down yet?"

Blushing, Troy nodded and softly giggled, "Right after we made love. Right, Tiger?"

Sean smiled, "Before we even showered the saxes were cleaned." Turning red, Sean softly added, "The best part was, Troy hadn't even dressed so..." Troy nudged him and they both began chortling at the memory.

Derrick grinned, "They might not have trusted you at first for mumbling the Shiny Pledge, but if they see you caring for your instruments, they'll know you as a true Shiny Lover."

Sean asked, "And the difference between Dull Ones and Shiny Haters?"

Derrick answered, "Dull ones have not accepted or denied the Great Shiny. They can be converted and saved. Shiny Haters and Dull Lovers would be like Satanists are to Christians."

Keith nodded, "Bad scene for the Shiny Haters."

"You treat them like more human than ferrets then," Troy recognized. "That's really great!"

Beginning to pick on his French Fries, Mike said, "To us, they are kids. Just like we let our other kids do their thing with other kids, we let the Scoobies go do their thing."

Prez said, "For that very reason, keeping morale high around here won't be such a big job. The kids are kewl and split off in groups to keep themselves entertained. Today was the exception to that because Bruce has a lot of friends and family here now."

Kaleo had finished eating while the others chatted, but now chimed in. "With the sing-a-long, you guys changed them in no time. In the next hour or so, Bruce is gonna be back home. If Bruce is still feeling a little out of it, and I expect he will, the kids will take care of him. Only if he's not ready to participate will there be another problem like there was before."

Sean wondered, "What should we do then; another sing-a-long?"

Still chewing, Prez held up his index finger to signal a pause. When he swallowed, Prez called, "Alden?"

Alden replied, "Here, Prez."

"We'll need two sub-vocals and two comm-badges, one of each for Troy and Sean," Prez instructed. Four small boxes appeared on the table before Prez. In a few minutes, Troy and Sean were educated about the use of the communications devices. Prez finished by saying, "Anything you need to keep the kids occupied, you have authorization to get. If you think balloons will turn the tide, then get a couple hundred balloons and a tank or two of compressed air..."

"Or helium for floating balloons," Keith suggested.

Troy grinned, "Water balloon fights."

Prez nodded, "Whatever it takes to keep the place running smooth."

Derrick reminded, "Soon we'll be getting into the rainy season. I'm foreseeing a lot of kids hanging together at the C.I.C. on rainy days."

Mike verified, "You've been to the dorms now. Have you seen the rec rooms?"

Sean nodded, "I showed Troy around last night and again this morning."

Troy added, "I've got a nice big bedroom in our apartment. All the kids have bigger rooms and the common rooms are awesome too."

Mike finished, "Kids are gonna be gathered around various public places like here, the rec room next door or in their dorm rec rooms."

Surprised, Troy asked, "There's a rec room here too?"

Everyone pointed at the double doorways on the north wall of the dining room. Keith explained, "There are arcade games in there, billiards tables, dart boards, Foosball tables, televisions and a jukebox. And there's the indoor rec center too so kids are gonna be spread out on rainy days."

Troy had one more question. He pointed to the doorway into the Command Center and asked, "Do I get to see what's in there?"

"If you want to, we can show you around," Prez answered. "If you really want to be Core Rimmers, dealing with rescues and all the other parts of Clan Short, then we can arrange for access."

"Why wouldn't I?" Troy smiled, "In for a penny, in for a pound." Sean nodded agreement.

Prez seriously asked, "How much do you know about Clan Short?"

Troy answered, "Stuff that made the news in the U.S. I know about Montana too."

Sean nodded and added, "I told him about the orphanages and the Prime Minister too. Troy's been great about all of it."

Thoughtful for a few moments, Prez turned to Keith. Keith shrugged, "Break them in like we've been getting broke in, baby. Let them participate in the easy pickups and rescues. Then Sean and Troy can choose if they'd like to continue."

Kaleo said, "It's easy, but pretty long hours. After the concert last night, we had pickups here, Hawai'i and Maui. By the time we got nineteen kids fed, clothed and over to the dorm, it was almost three in the morning again."

Prez added, "It was that way Monday too. Three times in one night we were down in the store, then getting newbies settled."

Keith reminded, "Even Sunday night, after an early evening pickup there were two kids who showed up at the gate looking for help."

Troy hummed then softly said, "Sounds like you guys need all the help you can get."

All the Rimmers nodded. Mike bluntly asked, "What do you think of our gorillas and G-Cats?"

Troy grinned, "New and interesting; kind o' like New York City subways."

Derrick, Mike, Kaleo and Tory cracked up. Prez and Keith only smiled and turned to each other. Since everyone had finished eating, Prez suggested, "Let's show you dudes the Command Center. Then we can talk about a few other things."

While everyone was standing and gathering their trays to take to the kitchen dishwasher, Troy asked, "Prez, are you thinking we can't handle it?"

Rapidly shaking his head, Prez then held eye contact with Troy and honestly answered, "No, that's not it, Troy. I can't say that I know you or Sean well enough to know if you can or can't deal with being full time Clan. I'm assuming you can because you want to. Wanting to do something is more than half the battle." Prez began walking to the kitchen and continued. "To make matters more complicated, you and Sean are just beginning your relationship. Loving relationships come first, in the Clan and to our families. I don't want to scare you off or make you feel uncomfortable, but I wasn't quick to accept being Director of this division. You and Sean really need to take your time and think if you really want in. You, in particular, need to talk with your mom too.

"There are a lot of benefits to being in the Clan," Prez continued. "We're Starfleet Ensigns and considered adults. That's allowed us to adopt our kids. They're so great, like little mirrors we can look into, and they help us remember to be kids ourselves. It's allowed us to get married. I guess all I'm saying is that I know I'm not the same dude that walked out of school last Friday afternoon." Leaving his tray at the dishwasher, Prez glanced at his teammates asking, "Am I the only one that feels that way?"

Keith, Mike and Derrick shook their heads. Kaleo answered, "I'm glad I'm not the same fuck toy I was last Friday morning. Now my friendship with Tory has become a full fledged partnership."

Tory nodded, "I feel the same way. I want to be Clan and a Core Rimmer too, Prez."

Prez only nodded and led the group to the Command Center. Drew noticed them all going in and thought that there was something important going on. Corey felt Drew becoming concerned and Drew explained they should go see what was happening. They finished their lunches and quickly went to the kitchen.

Inside the Command Center, Prez directly asked Tory, "Tell me why you want to be a Core Rimmer?"

"So I can spend even more time with Kaleo," Tory quickly answered. "When he's gone, doing Core Rimmer stuff, I'm alone and bored out of my mind. I also want to pay back the Clan for rescuing me and him from the orphanage."

Prez then posed the same question to Sean. Sean answered, "To pay back Clan Short too. I'd like to spend more time with Troy and all you dudes too. I know I'm not as confident as you guys, but I want to be. Like I told Troy yesterday, I feel so different already. It's like I know where I need to be, but I don't know how to get there. A good way to accomplish that would be hanging with dudes I look up to."

Finally, as Drew and Corey walked in the room, Prez posed the question to Troy. Troy said, "Since meeting Sean and falling in love with him, I've learned the real story behind the news clips I heard. Not until Sean told me did I know how bad it was for him and a lot of these other kids. It makes me angry. If I can help change things so that stuff never happens again, then I want in. And truthfully, I don't care what my mom has to say about it." Troy reached for Sean's hand and said, "I'd kill the first son of a bitch I saw fucking a little kid and be glad I did it."

Accepting all their answers, Prez turned to his team mates. They all nodded. Prez said, "I'm going to give each of you an opportunity to think on it. We didn't have that opportunity." Locking eyes with Troy, Prez said, "How you make the decision and who you talk to is up to you." Prez then turned around and called, "Lieutenant Vorik. Could we have a few minutes of your time, please, Sir?" As Lieutenant Vorik approached, Prez explained, "I would like to expand the size of my team." Gesturing to each boy, Prez introduced Troy, Sean and Tory as the new additions. He then asked, "Is it possible for you to perform brief mind-melds with each of them?"

Lieutenant Vorik nodded, "It is; however, I fail to understand the necessity."

Leaning closer to Prez, Keith whispered, "Prez? You're trying to relieve yourself of responsibility for them." Pulling back, he then slightly grinned, "I feel you, T'hy'la."

Placing a hand on Prez's shoulder and firmly squeezing, Derrick said, "It's not required, Prez. We chose without our parents' direct consent. Let them choose for themselves too."

Glancing at Mike, Corey and Drew, Prez saw them mutely nodding agreement. Prez sighed, "You're all right." Returning his attention to Vorik, Prez said, "I am sorry for involving you, Lieutenant. It's not your decision, it's mine and theirs."

Lieutenant Vorik reminded, "I am here to provide the functions you requested, Director O'Brian. Command decisions are within the realm of those functions. I suggest we adjourn to the conference room to discuss this decision further."

"Good," Prez nodded. The ten boys and Lieutenant Vorik went into the conference room. Once the door was closed and everyone had taken a seat, Prez told Lieutenant Vorik what had happened and that he had made Troy and Sean responsible for morale. That relatively easy decision blossomed into the current discussion.

Lieutenant Vorik asked, "Your request for mind-melds was for what purpose?"

Prez shrugged, "It was a stupid idea. I thought you could check to see if they were capable; the right temperament. I think lack of sleep is catching up with me."

"And the reason why you would like to expand your team?" Lieutenant Vorik wondered.

"Because we have been so busy and working until the wee hours of the morning," Prez honestly answered. "In addition to that, I can't see how only eight of us can be responsive to up to two thousand kids across five bases. Cory Short agrees that I have to delegate authority. Adding to the Core team seemed to be a step in the right direction."

Vorik nodded, "A valid concern and wise decision."

Keith explained, "When Prez and I discussed this, we thought it would be a good idea to have leaders at each base that report back to us. Specifically, at least one boy and one girl in every dormitory. We'd have like levels of responsibility, a tree structure similar to a chain of command."

Lieutenant Vorik nodded once saying, "Also valid and reasonable."

Prez sighed, "I guess what concerns me most are Sean and Tory. They both want to pay back Clan Short for being rescued. No one we rescue needs to feel like they should pay us back."

Drew reminded, "They're already Clan, Prez. Tory and Sean are both from the original group. They've got the most experience with the Clan and with us."

Kaleo knowingly grinned, "Did you worry so much when you made me communications officer, Prez?"

Prez huffed, then chuckled, "No, I didn't."

Mike sighed, then leaned across the table and asked, "You're worried about more dangerous rescues, aren't you, Prez?"

Prez nodded, "Yeah, I am."

Mike then turned to Sean, Tory and Troy in turn while saying, "We're getting phaser training. Someday, we may very well have to use those phasers to disable or kill people. Do any of you have an issue with that?"

Tory quickly said, "Not at all. If I'm aiming a phaser at someone hurting a kid, I'd have no problem firing."

Sean nodded, "Same here."

"Me too," Troy answered.

"I wish I had known this yesterday," Prez chuckled. "Now I'm gonna have to get Juan to give another class."

Sean reached for Troy's hand and giggled, "We were busy yesterday anyway."

Mike teased, "You were busy or were gettin' busy?"

Troy laughed, "Same difference!"

Corey helplessly cracked up and set the others off laughing.

Lieutenant Vorik waited for the laughter to subside, then said, "You have your new team members, Director O'Brian. I recommend that each of you who did not get adequate rest last night, retire for a short nap."

Prez said, "We have additional phaser training today at three."

Lieutenant Vorik reminded, "It is not yet thirteen hundred hours. I will notify you if activity requires it." Prez nodded and chose to not argue with Vulcan logic.

"Alden," Keith called, "one more sub-vocal and comm-badge for Tory Burgas. He's a Core Rimmer too, working with Kaleo in communications, effective immediately."

Before Tory appeared two more small boxes. Kaleo got his partner's sub-vocal fitted and proudly pinned the comm-badge on his T-shirt.

Prez smiled widely at Sean and Troy. He playfully asked, "Are you ready to join the Rimmer Funny Farm?"

Sean giggled and nodded while Troy laughed, "Yeah. We're ready."

Prez nodded, "Since you two weren't working until three in the morning, you're in charge until we're done with Juan's phaser training later this afternoon. John and Stephen will be back any time now to help out."

Everyone stood and started to leave the conference room. Keith said, "The rest of us will meet back here by three."

Prez stood before Kaleo, Tory, Sean and Troy softly explaining, "I really do want all of you on this team. You know that, don't you?"

Tory, Sean and Troy nodded. Troy asked, "What scares you, Prez?"

Prez sighed, "We're appreciated by many, but loathed by a few radicals. The first time anyone on this team gets hurt, I'm gonna lose it."

Kaleo softly reminded, "The F.C.C. and anyone like them."

Troy droned, "Oh, the Montana mess."

Keith nodded and said, "We've also rescued teen age prostitutes. Not only do we have to be a little more forceful with them, at first anyway, there are about twenty of them now that are older than us."

Troy shrugged, "No biggie. I've dealt with prostitutes in New York City before." Sean turned to Troy and raised his eyebrows. Slowly, Keith, Prez, Kaleo and Tory smiled. Troy giggled, "Not that way!"

As the group walked out of the conference room, Prez reminded, "Kaleo and Tory, get some rest too." Kaleo and Tory widely smiled. Prez smirked, "Whichever way you decide to rest is your decision."

Keith then swiftly swept Prez into his arms. Having never seen them do this before, Sean and Troy cracked up. While Prez cackled hysterically, Keith whispered, "The honeymoon isn't over yet!"

By placing his hands on their shoulders, Lieutenant Vorik stopped Sean and Troy. Both turned to face the taller Vulcan man while Keith danced Prez out of the Command Center. Vorik said, "Gentlemen, I will arrange to have personal security assigned to you. Whenever you leave secured locations, such as this base, your security contingent will accompany you."

Sean nodded. Troy asked, "We need security?"

"As Clan leaders, yes, it is required," Lieutenant Vorik replied.

"So if I want to take Sean out on a date off base, security needs to come with us?" Troy confirmed.

Lieutenant Vorik nodded, "Any unsecured location, yes."

Troy huffed, "Well, that kind o' sucks. What if we want to be alone?"

"Your security will be as anonymous as possible," Vorik answered.

Sean told Troy, "Whenever Prez and the guys go to school; they've got security with them. If they can deal, we can too, Lover." Any desire Troy had to argue vanished with that one simple word. He whimpered and Sean giggled, "We'll be over by the pools."

"Very well," Lieutenant Vorik nodded. He then set about arranging for six additional security personnel for Sean, Troy and Tory.

Sean and Troy walked into the dining room. At the other door, Sean noticed John walking in with Stephen, Bruce and those that had been to the Downings' funeral. Sean told Troy they should let John know what had happened the last hour. Already having done a light scan, John was obviously more than pleased with the team additions, and told them so, then introduced Frankie. Sean also mentioned that the rest of the team was taking a two-hour break. He and Troy then went to the pools.

Once there, Sean and Troy mingled around and many noticed their comm-badges and sub-vocals. Within minutes everybody knew they were new Core Rimmers. By the diving well, two of the older street kids, Kelly Littlepage and Lance Elling, went to them asking for dance music at the pools.

Sean smiled and nodded, "We can do that. The only thing is that we have to keep the volume reasonable, so if any of the little kids need help, we can hear them over the music."

Lance said, "That's totally kewl. We don't need a big P.A. system or live music, just a little ghetto blaster with a radio."

For the first time, Troy tapped his sub-vocal and called Alden.

"Morale Rimmer!" Alden giggled. "Do you know how appropriate that is for you?"

Troy laughed, "Ooo! You're a teasing little shit, aren't ya?"

Alden playfully hummed affirmatively, then asked, "What can I do for you, Troy?"

"The kids want to dance," Troy smiled. "All they need is a decent boom-box."

Alden said, "I have an alternative idea. I'll just connect the speakers by the pools and rec center to a station. Which station do they want to listen to?"

Troy asked, "Got a favorite station?"

Kelly checked with Lance and suggested, "KIKI Hot 93.9?"

Lance smiled, "Yeah!"

Troy forwarded the information to Alden. A second later, dance music was playing out of the poolside P.A. system. Soon, most of the older kids were dancing together. Horacio and Sonia were among them. Troy and Sean went over by the main pool and discovered many of the younger kids were dancing. Even Teddy Bears were trying to dance, but generally only bouncing and waddling.

"Mission accomplished?" Sean grinned.

Troy nodded and smiled, "I can think of only one other thing we can do."

Sean leaned closer and whispered in Troy's ear; "Wanna show you something." Three other times Sean spoke those words and each of those instances left Troy gasping for breath. The next thing Troy knew, his boyfriend was dancing a few feet before him. Once again, Troy wasn't disappointed. Sean had natural rhythm and moved fluidly. Troy got his groove on and joined him. Barely five minutes later, out of necessity and before they overheated, they tossed themselves into the diving well. Not that it cooled them off very much. Sean leaned back with his arms draped over the edge of the well. Troy swam closer and attached himself to Sean's waist with his legs.

Reyes, Bane, Benjamin, Randy, Dillon, Geoff and Jonah were the first of those that had been at the funeral to arrive at the pool. Gage, Sammy, Richie, Kokaku, Carmella and Dee quickly welcomed them back. Dee asked Reyes, "How's Bruce doin'?"

Reyes shrugged, "He's okay, for the most part. Aunt Jen and Uncle Jim are talking with him, John and Stephen now."

Benjamin offered, "The worst part was in the limo goin' there. Once we got there, he was very kewl. When the monk stood, Bruce did and we all did."

"It was real pretty," Jonah relayed, "not scary or sad or nothin' like that."

Bane smiled, "I liked what the monks said. It wasn't like any church service I've ever seen before."

Gage and Sammy then told the guys what had happened on base since they left. Not knowing any better, Reyes went to congratulate Troy and Sean. Reyes' four-and-a-half foot shadow, Jonah accompanied him. Finding them together at the diving well, Reyes grinned and started to laugh, but an odd, squeaking sound escaped his mouth. Quickly, Reyes performed a self-diagnostic and his hand covered Jonah's eyes.

"What?" Jonah giggled, and tried unsuccessfully to pull Reyes' hand out of the way. Reyes picked up his little bro and started to walk away. Jonah laughed, "It ain't like we never seen dudes makin' out before!"

Sean called out, "Reyes? Did you need something?"

Reyes giggled, "It'll hold."

Jonah cracked up. Between giggles, he told his overprotective big bro, "They're already holdin'!"

Rolling his eyes and shaking his head, Reyes took Jonah to the other pool and jumped in the deeper end.

John, Stephen and Frankie went home with Bruce and Dewi. All the boys changed out of their suits. Emotionally exhausted, Bruce wanted to lie down and take a nap. Dewi cuddled close to Bruce and joined him in bed.

John, Frankie and Stephen brought the F.C.C. rescued kids to the FYS building's sub-basement, where one hundred Teddy bears were waiting to meet their new best friends. During the elevator ride down, John explained to the kids how the Teddy Bears bonded, and told them to take their time choosing. When the elevator door opened, all the kids and Teddy Bear intermingled. Frankie quickly found a Teddy named Medved. In less than half-an-hour, the Teddy bears were waddling out of the FYS building and back to the pools with their friends. John had the remaining Teddy bears stay in standby mode until the next group of young kids wanted friends and he returned to the new 'bear cave'. Alden placed orders to replace the Teddy Bears that had been befriended.

Everything was back to normal and all the kids were having fun when John, Stephen and Frankie arrived at the pools. Carmella was the first one to greet them and wondered, "Where's Brucie?"

Picking his sister up the normal way, with his arms, John smiled, "He's okay. It's just been a tiring day for him, so he wanted to take a nap. Dewi's with him and so are Zed and Dex." Soon John, Stephen and Frankie were surrounded by Kokaku, Gage, Sammy, Richie, Dee and Geoff. The miniature news team was bursting at the seams to tell John all that had happened that morning, but John had already felt what was going on, primarily from his brothers. John and Stephen introduced Frankie to his cousins, aunt and uncles. Letting his sister down, John let Carmella go play with her friends. He then led the remaining group to the diving well.

At the edge of the diving well, away from where others were diving, Troy and Sean still hadn't moved. They were holding each other close and quietly talking. When John saw them joined at the hips, he grinned, "Teenagers!" then powered up. Unwillingly separated, Troy and Sean rose up out of the water, screaming and shouting, above the five-meter high diving board. Frankie and Stephen howled hysterically. When the coast was clear in the diving well, John powered down. Sean and Troy dropped into the well. Before Troy or Sean rose to the surface, John glanced at the kids and grinned, "Pounce time!" All six boys laughed and took off for the diving well. They jumped up, grabbed their legs and landed rear ends first, cannon-balling the two startled lovers.

Sean knew better than to even try to retaliate, but Troy didn't. He swam quickly for the edge of the diving well with Sean loudly laughing, "Don't, Troy!" But it was too late. John's eyes blazed blue and Troy found himself swimming twenty feet in the air, going nowhere but further up.

John loudly giggled, "Welcome to the team, bro!"

Troy howled, "Put me down! Gently!"

So John did put him gently down – on the peak of the pool house roof.

While Troy laughed and ranted, Stephen giggled, "Evil, plain evil!"

John shrugged and smiled, "Just a newbie Rimmer initiation ritual."

Sean went over to John, softly chortling, "Can I have my boyfriend back, please?"

John laughed, "But look around! Morale's as high as he is now!"

"Except for mine," Sean giggled.

Knowing Troy wanted to get even, John grinned, "You can keep him under control?"

Sean hummed then laughed, "I can keep him under lots of things."

Thoughtful for a few moments, John then instructed, "Put your arms out, Sean." Sean did as he was told and John powered up. Troy lifted off the pool house roof and over, above Sean, then slowly lowered into his boyfriend's waiting arms.

Troy softly giggled, "Suddenly, I feel the need to play heavy metal."

John heard Troy's playful remark to Sean. Sean put Troy down before he dropped him then landed a quick kiss. Holding up his hands to prove he was defenseless, John offered, "Truce?" Sean and Troy both nodded. John then asked, "Do you mind if I do quick mind scans of you both?"

Sean rapidly assured, "No problem, John."

Taken aback, Troy faced Sean and giggled, "You don't even care why?"

Shaking his head, Sean honestly said, "Joel thought enough of John to make him a Core Rimmer. I trust him."

Looking up at the two taller teens, John explained, "I'm not looking deep. I've just noticed a few things about others. It's like categorizing. Like the rest of my family and the other Core Rimmers, I'll set up rooms for you two. This way I'll know when you're in trouble and can get you help."

"Go ahead, John," Sean said, "but tell us what you see."

Focusing on Sean first, John hummed, then softly said, "Drop those abuses in the nearest trash can and you'd be far less cluttered in there." Before Sean could say a word, John nodded, "I know you're trying and Troy's helped. Think of 'em like a bunch of lies and half truths. They don't matter anymore, bro." Pointing at Troy, John said, "Tell him everything then dump the dirty memories. Keep everything since Friday and you'll be kewl, bro."

Facing Troy, John asked, "Ready?"

"This should be interesting," Troy smirked.

John softly muttered, "Wow." He then smiled, "Lots of kewl memories; the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, World Trade Center, songs, music, guitars, horns, little musical notes all over the place. In case you didn't already know it, you're gifted, just like Keith, Prez, Mike and Derrick. They're virtuosos on one or two instruments. You chose to know lots of instruments. You don't play trumpet anymore because of chapped lips? That's silly, especially here. You like how snow looks, but don't like the cold. Welcome to Hawai'i! You wanna see snow; take a trip up the mountains. When you're done, come on back down and get warm again." John then thanked Troy for the virtual tour of New York City and asked, "Do you wanna see something prettier?"

Sean grinned and nodded. Troy shrugged, "Sure, why not."

Gage asked, "Can we go too?"

Tapping his sub-vocal, John called, "Alden?"

Alden giggled, "Soul Rimmer?"

John ordered, "Take the nine of us to the Kaua'i base, by the main gate, so the Starfleet guys don't freak out."

Troy was just about to say something, but they had already been transported. Troy grunted at the sudden relocation then chuckled, "We're supposed to be watching the kids."

Waving him off, John assured, "The kids are fine." He then reached his hand in his pocket and pulled out his I.D. to show the on-duty Starfleet security personnel. He told them, "We're just gonna take a quick tour then we'll go back home."

John called Alden again then started his tour at Secret Beach. Richie and Dee immediately recognized it and practically tore their clothes off to go play in the water. Letting go of Stephen's hand and covering his mouth, John cleared his throat then complained, "I should've brought some cough drops or hard candies."

Alden giggled, "Look in your left pocket, John."

John reached his hand into his shorts pocket and smiled, "You're the best, Alden." After popping a peppermint candy in his mouth, John waved his good arm around and croaked, "This is where it all began." Since his voice wasn't cooperating, John began sending thoughts to Stephen, Frankie, Gage, Sammy, Troy and Sean. 'We met Joel, lots of the rescued kids and some of Clan Short right here.'

Taking Troy by the hand and walking down the beach, Sean excitedly gushed, "It was an awesome day. We swam and ate and swam some more." Pointing further down the beach to his right, Sean smiled, "A bunch of us came running down that bluff." He then pointed to his left by the shore and smiled, "Prez and the guys were right over there. We saw them naked and got naked too."

Noticing the lighthouse in the distance, at the edge of the peninsula, Troy sighed, "It's really pretty here."

'That's Kilauea Lighthouse,' John sent to the group. He then wondered, 'Gage and Sammy, why aren't ya swimming?'

Gage grinned and countered, "Why aren't you swimming?"

John actually had to think for a moment or two. He admitted, "Guess it's the funeral still messin' with me." He then took his shirt off and sent to Stephen, 'I wish Bruce was here. I think it would've fixed him up, at least a little bit.' Frankie, Gage and Sammy stripped then joined Dee and Richie in the surf.

Stephen suggested, "Bring him here later or tomorrow, hon."

John nodded and smiled, 'You won't take your shirt off?' Stephen shook his head then glanced at Troy and Sean, who were many paces away. 'Don't worry about them, baby,' John assured. He then grinned, 'Watch a teenager turn into a little boy.' He sent Sean a short message. 'Toss-the-kid?'

Spinning around to face John, Sean began laughing and quickly taking his clothes off. Troy smiled at his suddenly hysterical and naked boyfriend. Smiling widely, Sean told Troy, "It's a favorite Sehlat game."

"A Sehlat?" Troy grinned, "As in a huge Vulcan bear?"

John giggled and, to both teenagers, sent 'Minus the Sehlat slobber,' then powered up and lifted Sean.

Looking down at Troy, Sean giggled, "I'll tell ya about it later."

Actually tossing Sean was John's concern. Sean was similar in height and weight to Keith and Prez, about five feet eight inches tall and a hundred-thirty or so pounds. Telekinetically lifting him was one thing, but tossing him was a new feat. If John didn't toss Sean hard enough, he'd land in only inches of water and get hurt. So, John walked nearer to the water line and began bouncing Sean in the air.

After the third bounce and midfourth bounce, Sean loudly laughed, "Any time today, John!"

John grinned, "I ain't a Sehlat with tossing practice! I want you to go out far, but not so far that you'll be swimming back for an hour."

Sean howled, "I've got a sub-vocal. If I have to, I'll call Alden."

Walking closer to John and Stephen, Troy giggled, "It's not that I'm not liking the view, but he's gonna puke. Then he'll be wanting kisses, but getting none."

John laughed, "Okay, okay! Hold on to your jewels, Sean." Quickly reaching down with both hands, Sean cupped his privates just in time. Like a human missile, he flew out about a hundred yards and splashed down. "Ooo!" John croaked. "That was way further than I expected." Shaking his head, Stephen broke into fits of giggles. Frankie laughed so hard that he fell on his butt into the sand.

Dee, Gage, Richie and Sammy hurried over to John, naked and ready to be tossed. Troy walked down the beach and into the water to meet Sean. John grinned, "Okay, Gage and Sammy first, so they're around in the water to help Richie and Dee."

Simultaneously, Gage and Sammy shouted, "Me first!" It was then, while the two boys argued over who would get tossed first, that John realized how much taller he was than Stephen and his four nephews. He was about six inches taller than Dee and Frankie, about four inches taller than Stephen and Gage, about three inches taller than Sammy, and at least a foot taller than Richie. Since Sammy and Gage hadn't managed to choose who would get tossed first, John lifted them both at the same time. Figuring that Sammy was tallest, John sent him flying out over the bay first. He didn't go near as far as Sean, but still further than John expected. He had to get the proper push settled in his mind, or Richie would need help getting ashore from Sean and Troy, not Sammy or Gage. Sending Gage flying next, John found that he went about as far as Sammy had. Frankie gleefully screamed as he sailed out and splashed down.

Troy walked out in the surf to meet Sean as he rode a wave to shore. For some reason though, Sean stopped and stood in chest deep water, waving for Troy to come out and join him. Grinning, Troy broke through a few waves and met his boyfriend. Sean reached for Troy and pulled him close. Troy felt his boyfriend's condition and excitedly laughed, "Again, Tiger?"

"Just from the waves," Sean smiled. After a brief pause, Sean shared, "I've been wanting to say something to you, but haven't been able to until now."

"What?" Troy softly queried, and then reminded, "You can tell me anything, Sean."

Sean nodded then pulled Troy's head a little closer so he could speak softly. "Ya know last night and this morning, I wanted intercourse?"

Hugging Sean tighter, Troy nodded, "Soon, Tiger. Both toys, one and two were incredible. You were great in every way."

"I'm really glad you enjoyed it too," Sean admitted. "That's what I have to tell you about." Sean smiled and shared, "I'm a bottom boy, Lover. I can and will do you too, when you're ready, but I have to admit, bottom is what I like most."

Many yards to their side and well above them, Dee screamed as he was tossed. Relieved that Sean wasn't going to share another horror story from his past, Troy giggled, "I wish the water was a few degrees colder."

Feeling Troy's growing problem, Sean laughed then planted a kiss and locked eyes with him. "I ain't ever leaving you. Luck don't even begin to cover my life since Friday. Charmed is more like it; maybe even blessed."

"I feel the same way," Troy admitted. "The only difference between you and me is, your life changed five days ago. Mine changed a day ago, when you knocked on my door."

Sean asked, "Does it make you angry when I ask for intercourse?"

Troy shook his head and smiled, "I'm trying to live a dream with you, Sean. I really do want to wait so I'm ready for you too. Then we'll go absolutely crazy together."

Sean slyly smiled, "It sounds great to me too, but I gotta admit, I want you bad."

"Every time you ask, you're wearing me down too," Troy revealed. He then shrugged, "We'll see how it actually works out for us."

"I need to ask one tiny favor," Sean giggled, "Get my shorts, please?" He then smirked, "There's no reason all these guys need to see me hard."

Troy laughed, "You realize that me walking back with your shorts is going to say all that needs to be said?"

Sean shrugged and grinned, "Let's not advertise. The product has already been sold."

Prez, Keith and the rest of the Core Rimmers showed up on the bluff with their kids. Sliding down the bluff on his butt, Reyes loudly complained, "I can't believe you dudes came here and didn't tell us."

Helping Jonah and Dillon down the bluff, Mike and Derrick landed on the beach. Derrick smirked, "Didn't you think we'd like to reminisce too?" Also sliding down the bluff were Corey and Drew, who was carrying Geoff on his lap. Kaleo and Tory tried to remain standing, but laughed hysterically as they once again fell on their asses on their way down the steep bluff.

Reyes, Jonah and Geoff went into the water with Richie, Frankie and Dee. Gage and Sammy hurried up the beach to Keith and Prez to give them welcoming hugs. Gage smiled up at Keith, "This place is awesome! You guys met Joel and everybody here? It's so pretty."

Hugging his son, Keith nodded, "This is where it all happened."

Suddenly, a loud gunshot was heard causing everyone to snap their heads in the direction of the gunfire. Those standing behind John saw the back of his head had exploded outwards, and he was dropping to the ground. Before anyone else could move, they heard an explosion. At this time, all eyes went to where Reyes, Jonah, Frankie, Geoff, Richie and Dee had been standing; however, that is also where the rocket propelled grenade hit.

Reyes was in pieces. His head, torso, arms and legs were spread around a ten foot circumference. Red, blood-stained water washed over the remains of Jonah, Frankie, Geoff, Richie and Dee. Body parts of the five small boys washed ashore in the surf. Stephen dropped to the ground with his husband, screaming his name, demanding a response that would never come.

Yelling, "HOLY FUCKING SHIT!" Mike and Derrick were the first to drop flat onto the beach. Sean and Troy went under water and disappeared from sight. Corey, Drew, Kaleo and Tory were next to lay flat, prone on the beach.

Nearest the bluff, Prez bellowed "Alden! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?" Beside him, Keith screamed and collapsed into the sand. Prez dropped down beside him and saw blood gushing from a wound just above his left knee.

Prez reached up to tap his communicator, when suddenly it went off. He wasn't sure who's voice came over it, but what the kid said made his veins run icy. "RED ALERT!" The voice screamed. "Pacific Rim Division under attack! Orlando, Utah, Wales and Australian Clan divisions are off the grid. All surviving Clan members are ordered to fall back to the O'ahu..." Prez heard explosions in the background, and then suddenly the line went dead.

Over their screaming, everyone could hear boat motors racing towards the beach area from the extreme northwest of Secret Beach. Kaleo drew his phaser first and set it to maximum with a wide beam, loudly ordering Tory, Corey and Drew to do the same. Firing first upon the closest of the ten boats, Kaleo and Tory hit the bow at the water line. The front of the boat disintegrated and the boat flipped at high speed, sending six men flailing out in all directions.

While Prez took his shirt off and tied a tourniquet around Keith's leg, Sean popped up out of the water and fired upon the first man he saw that was still moving. Several yards away, Troy surfaced and fired upon another swimming man. Drew and Corey fired upon the second boat, sending it flipping and spinning sideways across a wave. None of the six aboard could have survived.

Returning gunfire from the boats caused all the boys to duck for cover. The boys on the beach that had been firing were now scrambling for tree stumps and logs. Drew and Corey ran over to where Stephen was crying and clutching the body of his dead husband. He protested loudly, but was overpowered as the larger boys grabbed him and started to drag him to where Keith and Prez were.

Meanwhile, Keith and Prez were trying their best to lay down cover fire for Sean and Troy, who were making their way back to the beach. Every few seconds, one of the two boys in the water would turn around and fire at one of the oncoming boats.

By the time that Sean and Troy made it to the beach, there were only six boats left that were racing towards the beach. Both figured they had less than thirty seconds before the boats would land.

"GET BEHIND SOMETHING!" Mike screamed as he found cover behind a tree trunk. Derrick was running towards Mike, with both Gage and Sammy trailing him. The two younger boys got to the tree just as Derrick hollered and hit the ground hard.

"DERRICK!" Mike cried out. He kept firing as well as running towards where Derrick went down. He was thankful to see his husband was still alive and was trying to crawl towards him. Grabbing him by the shirt, Mike started to pull him back. Derrick had barely avoided the bullets that hit the ground right where he had been.

"SHINY DADDY! We're here!" The Scooby gang screamed at the top of their lungs.

Spike and Xander had finally made it to the top of the bluff with the fifty-caliber machine-gun they had been dragging behind them. They were setting the gun up on its stand while Willow and Faith were busily getting ordinance in place and loaded.

"Those fuckers! Look what they made us do to the shiny gun," Spike grumbled, with a disgusted look on his face.

"The Dull Ones will pay for their blasphemy with their lives," was Xander's solemn response.

Willow shook her head in disgust. "I hope Juan never finds out we dragged a gun through the sand unprotected."

"He'd never let us live it down," Faith earnestly said.

Willow decided to take charge and began barking orders. Soon, Spike took up his place at the trigger while Faith and Xander got in place to aim the gun. Willow took up her place to feed the ammunition. "Die, you fuckers!" She screamed as she gave Spike, Xander, and Faith the signal to start firing.

Spike began to fire at the men in the boats and the Scooby gang began sliding down the bank. The gun was obviously too big for them, but somehow they were managing to do serious damage to the enemy.

"You Dull loving sons of bitches will all burn!" Spike screamed at the top of his lungs. He was gnashing his teeth and growling.

The gun would begin to slide down the bluff and Spike would pull the trigger again in very controlled bursts with Xander and Faith aiming for him. It would right itself again and begin the slide all over again.

Willow saw that Mike was hurt. He was bleeding. Tears came to her eyes. "You hurt the Shiny Daddy! Now you will suffer! Not one of them is to live. They all die! I'm going to slice your fucking nuts off, ram them down your throat, then shove this gun up your ass and blow your head into chum for the fishes!" She was literally shaking and almost foaming at the mouth.

Again and again Spike would let go with a burst of fire and the gun would slowly right itself. Several of the enemy would drop, riddled with bullets. It would have been a comical scene watching the Scoobies slither down the bank like a sidewinder if it wasn't for the seriousness of the situation.

Hit in the left shoulder, but still able to fire on the enemy, Mike blubbered, "I've never heard them talk so much shit before!"

"Yeah, but they've taken out more of the bastards than we have!" Derrick said, and popped up again to disintegrate another boat, leaving six of the remaining eighteen men with no cover at all.

Having lost two of his boys, a nephew, a brother, and with his husband bleeding profusely, Prez was running amok. The four-letter 'F' word that Prez rarely ever used was pouring out of his mouth in nonsensical strings of profanity while he fired. Two men and another boat disintegrated by Prez's phaser blasts. Finally, Prez dove behind the tree where Gage and Sammy were hiding. Sean, Troy, Kaleo, Tory, Drew and Corey got the six men that were left uncovered.

The fifty-caliber machine-gun came to a stop at the bottom of the bank. The ferrets quickly uprighted themselves and took aim again.

"You sheep loving, fart sucking, motherless sons of whores will live in terror for the rest of your lives!" Willow screeched. Then a look of serene vengeance washed over her face as she became all business. Two more of the enemy dropped as the last of the ammunition was spent. "Too bad for you that it is only going to be a few minutes more." Willow gave the sign.

Almost as one the Scoobies grabbed their machetes and took off silently into the bushes.

The enemy had managed to move across the beach and get themselves some cover along the bank. This made it difficult for the Rimmers to hit them. The Rimmers exchanged a few more volleys with the enemy and it quickly became clear that it was a standoff.

Suddenly, the enemy began screaming. Several more screams and a few seconds later, a man flopped into view and dragged himself along the sand away from the protection of the bank. A furry blur rushed out and jumped on his back. Six hard lightening fast chops with a machete reduced the man's head to chum. Another man staggered out and was dropped by a burst from Prez's phaser.

Two more ear shattering screams ripped through the beach. Another two men charged out from behind the cover of the bank. The first man was falling from Xander slashing his Achilles tendons. Prez didn't waste any time as he drew a bead and phasered the man into the next life.

The second man emerged holding a ferret by the scruff of her neck. Mike knew instantly who it was by the string of profanities coming from her mouth. The man had a gun to the ferret's head. "You fucking brats need to drop your weapons now! I mean it. I'll blow its fucking head off!" He smacked Willow in the head with the gun. "Shut it, you fucking rat!"

Willow bit the man. As she was falling, she took the first shot to her chest. The powerful projectile shredded her small torso. The next several shots hit Xander and Faith. Mike screamed at the top of his lungs "NO-O-O!" Tears streamed from his eyes as he leaped to his feet and took aim. He fired, disintegrating the man and his body turned to dust.

Wearing combat boots, camouflaged Speedos with a SuperSoaker water pistol slung under his right hip, and a yellow polka-dotted bikini top that had a hand grenade filling each cup, Juan proudly strode across the beach and stopped before John's body. Without so much as a grin, he seriously said, "In this altercation, you faced sixty enemy attackers. You killed all sixty, but ten Rimmers died and two were wounded. Welcome to war." Suddenly all the boats, dead bodies and piles of dust on the beach disappeared. John stood up, with all four ferrets appearing behind him.

The Rimmers were completely perplexed and speechless. Both Keith and Mike realized that their wounds were gone. Extremely confused and pissed off, Prez rounded on Juan. Prez growled, "What the fuck is going on?"

Juan gave him a very sad smile. "Having the knowledge on using a phaser or gun is great, but having the willingness to actually use one, is something entirely different. A weapon that one either cannot or will not use is simply another weapon for the enemy."

"You mean this whole thing was in your head; no one actually died?" Mike excitedly asked, gently kneading his now not wounded shoulder.

"This was real to you guys, and that's what matters." Juan turned and looked squarely at Prez, who was still fuming. "Prez, I know you’re angry, and you have every right to be; however, hear me out on why I did it this way. I have seen way too many kids in the past week or so that thought war would be cool, and playing with the big guns would be fun. Every single one of them had something like this happen to them, simply to show them that war is not fun, or exciting, or even something to look forward to. War fucking sucks, but until someone really sees it, they don't really understand it."

Juan paused looking around to make sure he had all of their attentions, not to mention hoping that they had let go of their anger and were actually listening to what he was saying. "Does it make it any easier to know that you guys killed sixty guys that were hell bent on killing you? Does it make it any easier knowing that you only lost ten to their sixty?"

One by one, all the Core Rimmers shook their heads. "Exactly." Juan continued, before starting to pace in front of the group. "I had to take John out first because he is an N-Gen; no matter what I did, I could have only fooled him for a few minutes before he realized what was going on. I explained to him what I was going to do to make you guys believe what you saw, and he agreed to play dead. Before you get pissed at him, know this, I did not give him a choice. I told him to either play dead, or I would not involve him in this. He doesn't realize it yet, but he didn't need to do this. Since his live fire experience yesterday, he had his certification. The book knowledge is needed, but easy. It's the willingness, and the ability of using the weapon that I care about. Shooting at targets in a controlled environment is not the way to make sure someone won't freeze when the real thing happens. I am happy to say that none of you did that."

Pausing again, Juan made sure everyone was on the same page as he was before he delivered his final statement and letting them say what they wanted. "Kaleo, Tory, Mike, Derrick, Prez and Keith are all still asleep, the rest of you knew you were coming in for a scenario, but before you came in, I just blocked those memories. When you all leave this place, it will seem no more real to you then a realistic dream. I know what it is like to lose family, so I won't make you live with the thought that this was actually real."

Mike couldn't help it, he had to know. "All the little kids aren't here anymore. I am assuming that means they weren't actually here?" When Juan nodded, Mike kept going. "So that means the Scoobies are actually here. Why?"

Juan couldn't help grinning widely as he knelt down by Spike and placed his hand over the ferret boy's shoulder. "Well, when I decided I was gonna use them in here, I realized that I ain't crazy enough to play them right. You and Derrick would have noticed they weren't acting like themselves, so I pulled them in after explaining what I was gonna do. Again, I got their okay before bringing them in, but they didn't remember it when they showed up. Everything they did is exactly what they would have done had this been real."

Grinning, Spike bounced up and down. He ran away from under Juan's hand, only to jump up into Mike's arms. "Yup yup! We did what we shoulda done. Did we do good, Shiny Daddy?"

Willow, Faith and Xander all crowded around Mike and Derrick for a group hug. Willow was the first one to speak after the hug broke. "We's did exactly what we's s'pose to. Once we got here, we got them before they got you."

"You guys did great!" Mike said, trying not to cry at seeing Willow alive again after being killed just a few minutes earlier. "From now on though, I don't want you guys getting hurt."

"Why not?" Faith asked in a confused voice. "You guys be the humans, we's just hybrids. It's better if we's get hurts or killed then if yous guys do."

"It's not better to me or Derrick," Mike softly explained. Giving up any pretense, Mike wept, "You're not hybrids to us; you're our kids. If we were to lose one of you, never mind three of you, I'd go fucking insane." Seeing only confusion on the ferrets' faces through his tears, Mike huffed, "How can I make you understand? It don't matter that you're hybrid; you're every bit as important to us as Dillon and Jonah, our human kids. Reyes is an android and every bit as important as our human kids. The loss of any one of you would snap my brain into hundreds of pieces. Clan Short could kiss my ass one at a time or as one big group. Every time I picked up a guitar, I'd remember you guys too, so there goes that life, out the window. Anything shiny would put me into fits of crying. Everything my life was before, and has been since I met you, would seem different. Your lives are that important to me." Shaking uncontrollably, Mike leaned against Derrick and hid his face on his husband's shoulder.

Rubbing Mike's back, Derrick softly added, "You wanted fathers. We want to be your fathers. This is love; this is caring. If you want to show us how much you care, all you need to understand is that you're our kids, not hybrid kids; not less important than human kids, but every bit as important. Your lives matter that much to us." With that the family came back into a hug.

Juan wiped his eyes as he watched the two older boys try and crush the ferrets between them. "I think you guys are now really starting to understand what being parents to those who were raised as a soldier is like. It is very hard to break the brainwashing that we all went through. I will be totally honest here; there are times when I feel just like they do. It will take them some time to get over that. Thankfully, they have you guys to help them recover their self-worth." He waited for everyone to get done crying, before he skillfully changed the topic.

"Now, I am going to go through and tell you guys where you did well, and where you could have done something different. Please don't argue with me, because nothing I say is meant to make anyone feel bad, just to think about. No one did anything that was actually wrong. Everything that every one of you did was perfectly understandable." First he turned towards Drew and Corey. "You guys did exactly the right thing when you pulled Stephen back from John's body."

He then turned to Stephen. "Understand, I know why you did what you did, and no one here will say anything bad about it, but had this been real, you would have died." He held up his hand as he walked over to Stephen and pulled him into a hug. Into Stephen's ear, Juan whispered, "I didn't say that to make you feel bad. I know how you feel about John, and know I would be a total wreck if I lost Koth. However, crying over a body will do nothing except get yourself killed. If that ever happens, make sure the bastard that killed him pays for it... with his life."

Juan stepped back from the hug and smiled at Stephen. Stephen wiped his eyes and nodded. "It's never easy, nor should it be. But when the time comes, this will have helped you." He stepped back a few steps and regarded the group again for a moment. "I know you guys don't want to ever have to actually kill someone, but as you saw here, there may be times when it is kill or be killed. There may come a time when someone won't allow you the option of running. Killing should never be easy, nor should you ever use lethal force unless you need to. However, now all of you know that you can. Remember the pain you're feeling now, but don't let it paralyze you in the future. Within an hour of you waking up, you will have all the papers filed with Starfleet that are needed. You will then be allowed to go to the Armory and get a sidearm issued to all of you. It will be up to you all to decide on when and where to carry it; however, I would suggest that you never go into an unsecured area without carrying one. Now, are there any questions?"

Everyone shook their heads. Juan congratulated them once again, then let them out of his mind.

Standing beside John and shaking his head, Stephen muttered, "I think I had a nightmare about this place. I feel like I've been here before, but I know I haven't."

Locking eyes with his husband, John nodded and reassuringly smiled. 'It was only a bad dream, baby.'

Out in the bay, Troy looked to the northwest for approaching speed boats, but saw nothing. Sean looked over his shoulder where Troy was looking, then slyly asked, "Can I have my shorts or do I have to show off?"

"Sorry," Troy mumbled, and then shrugged, "Guess I'd just as soon stay here with you for a few more minutes."

John scanned everyone still really on Secret Beach. As expected, Frankie, Gage, Sammy, Richie and Dee had no memory of anything. Stephen, Sean and Troy all seemed to believe it was a déjà vu episode. Satisfied that everyone was fine, John sent to everyone on the beach, 'Let's go check the fields where the concert was.'

In the townhouse where Mike and Derrick were sleeping, Mike woke with a start from the nightmare he'd just had. Derrick reached for his husband and croaked, "You okay?"

Taking in a deep breath, Mike sighed, "I guess. Gotta find the Scoobies and our kids."

In the townhouse next door, Prez got out of bed and was putting his clothes on when Keith awoke. He yawned, "Prez? What's the hurry?"

Pulling his T-shirt over his head, Prez answered, "I just need to find our kids, T'hy'la."

Sitting up and moving toward the edge of the bed, Keith wondered, "Did you have a weird dream too?"

Sitting down to slip into his sandals, Prez nodded, "A really bad one, like our kids were in danger."

Reyes and Jonah went back to the diving well again to congratulate Sean and Troy on becoming Core Rimmers. Reyes noticed that not only were they gone, but so were John, Stephen, Frankie, Dee, Gage, Sammy and Richie. Walking all the way around the pool house by the diving well and then returning to the main pool area, Reyes noticed only kids dancing and others playing. He asked his little brother, "Does this mean we're in charge?"

Jonah giggled, "Don't look like anybody needs anyone in charge." He then poked Reyes in the belly and added, "But if they do, you're it!"

"That's what I was afraid of," Reyes smirked.

Back on Kaua'i, John and his small party had left Secret Beach and were roaming the fields where the concert had been. In the grass and ground, indentations could still be seen where the stage had been. Sean estimated where center stage was and told Troy, "The Prime Minister would've been about here." He then moved and said, "Joel and I-Cheya were about here. Then there were lots of bangs and noises and a scream." Sean pointed and smiled, "We were way over there, hiding behind video displays and speakers. When we came out from hiding, the Prime Minister was no more."

Stephen meekly offered, "I wonder if this division would've been created if the Prime Minister hadn't been discovered by John?"

John shrugged and croaked, "We'll never know. I guess we would have still been formed, but had a bigger job from the start." Pulling another candy out of his pocket, John unwrapped it and realized his brothers were waking up. He sent, 'C'mon, you guys. Let's get back home.' Soon, everyone was gathered around John and Stephen. John tapped his sub-vocal and asked, "Take us back home, by the pool please, Alden?"

They all arrived on the walkway between the pool and the soccer field. Richie looked up and cheered, "Thanks for tossing us, Unca John!" Dee, Gage, Sammy and Sean repeated the sentiment. Then the little kids took off running for the pool.

After shadowing his dad and pop all day, for the first time, Frankie wanted to play. Uncertainly shuffling his feet, Frankie frowned, "Daddy? Poppa?"

John smiled, 'Go ahead and play, Frankie. We'll be close by. Later, I'll want to introduce you to some of my friends.'

Widely smiling, Frankie's face split in half. He gave his daddy and poppa quick hugs, then went to play with his cousins.

Sean turned to Troy and sighed, "You never got tossed."

Troy grinned, "No, but I did get a good view of everything while you were getting bounced." Sean turned red and giggled. Before John knew it was coming, Troy quickly reached over and tickled him. Laughing hysterically, the candy John had been sucking blew out of his mouth and stuck to Troy's T-shirt. Sean, Stephen and John cracked up.

Prez, Keith, Drew, Corey, Mike and Derrick arrived at the pool. The three couples split and went directly for their kids. Once Reyes, Jonah and Dillon were gathered and had been hugged, the family went for a walk to find the Scoobies.

Acting like he hadn't seen his kids in a month, Prez hugged each boy tightly. In Prez's arms and holding on tight, Richie softly wondered, "Wha's wrong, Poppa?"

Relieved all the boys were fine, Prez sighed, "Nothin'. I just love you guys that much."

Richie giggled and landed a kiss on his dad's cheek then happily gushed, "Unca John took us to the beach where we met. We was over by where the stage was too."

Overhearing this, Keith's eyes almost shot out their sockets. John and Stephen walked up. 'I just told Mike and Derrick so I'll tell you too,' John sent to his brothers. 'Those dreams weren't just nightmares. You've already passed your level two live fire tests. Don't answer aloud so the kids won't get scared, but I'm just curious, how much to you remember?' John scanned his brothers and realized they only recalled tiny portions of their 'nightmares'. Just like Mike and Derrick, Prez and Keith only remembered the worst parts; what had happened to their kids. John nodded and smiled. 'You dudes were awesome! Even Sean and Troy passed with flying colors. I'm doing a mind dump of Starfleet Security Regulations and Procedures. We've got one hell of a team to lead this division. Juan couldn't be happier or prouder. Congratulations, you've all been promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade.'

With Gage wrapped under his left arm and Sammy wrapped under his right, Keith happily cheered, "That means we've got the rest of the afternoon off!"

John covered his mouth and coughed then sent, 'The only thing I need is for Stephen to be made a Core Rimmer too.'

Uncertain, Stephen asked, "You really want me, hon?"

Rapidly nodding, John sent, 'You were awesome yesterday, baby. Where I go, you go.'

Stephen wrapped his arms around John and sighed contentedly. Closing their eyes, they began floating and Stephen playfully groped John's tush through his boardies. Suddenly they were three feet off the ground and giggling.

Prez tapped his sub-vocal. "Alden, one more sub-vocal and comm-badge for Stephen Marr, please, dude. He's a Core Rimmer too, Intel Division, effective immediately."

Alden replied, "On the patio table to your left, Prez."

Keith quickly realized, "That makes twelve Core Rimmers and six couples." He then chirped, "Sweet!" Keith went over to the Terrible Triplets to ask that the newest Rimmers get all the information about the Safe Haven Act and Clan Short Charter. Before actually asking though, Keith received triplicate confirmation that the task was already done. Stopping in his tracks, Keith began chuckling and shaking his head.

Prez went to the table and got the two communications devices for Stephen. The problem was that Prez was looking directly into John's and Stephen's shorts. John sent, 'Just stuff the boxes in my pocket, bro. I'll take care of Stephen later.'

Doing as John instructed, Prez playfully huffed, "Seems you're already taking care of Stephen." Giggling like crazy, Stephen hid his face on John's shoulder.

At the C.I.C., Lieutenant Vorik received a report from Alden, Daileass and Draco regarding the accounting records of the California corporation they had been investigating. Since Director O'Brian was believed to be resting and he saw no need to immediately inform him, Vorik made strategic and tactical plans. He then contacted Kekoa, so the Pacific Rim UNIT detachment would be prepared. Kekoa reviewed Vorik's plans, then contacted Donnie at the Rapid Response base. In order to execute the plan, four more teams of ten would be required.

Just before three that afternoon, John, Stephen and Lindsay walked back to the Hundser's house to call Jeff and Tommy. Minutes later, Kaleo and Tory finally made it to the pool. Of course, they were confused since it was now after three in the afternoon, but no Core Rimmers or Juan ever showed up at the C.I.C. for level two phaser training. Prez filled them in on what they had already done. Once again, to Kaleo and Tory, it was just an intense dream.

Two gorillas made a rare appearance at the pool. With them were two teenage boys dressed in fatigues. They went to Prez and asked where Sean and Troy were. Only two lounge chairs away, Sean and Troy looked over. Each of the boys identified themselves to their new personal security guards. The four boys and two gorillas went for a walk together to get to know each other. Thanks to Lieutenant Vorik and Troy's remarks about wanting to go on dates with Sean, the two UNIT security boys, Jeremy and Lakota, were also gay partners.

As the boys were out walking amongst the trees, Sean asked Lakota, "Are you Hawaiian?"

"No," Lakota smiled, "Native American heritage."

Sean smiled, "That's great. I'm kind o’ interested in Indian culture."

Lakota smiled and nodded understandingly, saying, "First thing you need to know is we're not Indians. Indians are from India. We're Native American."

"Oh, my bad!" Sean squealed. "Sorry, dude."

"It's a common mistake," Lakota shrugged. "It doesn’t bother me so don't let it bother you."

Troy looked between Jeremy and Lakota asking, "How long have you two been partners?"

"About a week," Jeremy replied.

"You're just starting out, like us," Sean smiled.

Troy nodded, "We've only been partners two days. It feels like we've known each other much longer."

Jeremy nodded and grinned, "And in a few more days, you'll feel like you've known each other forever."

Glancing up and over at his gorilla, Sean asked, "Have you thought of a name for yourself yet?"

The gorilla nodded then softly answered, "Is Leo okay with you?"

Sean giggled, "It's better than a number. Leo works fine for me as long as you like it."

Seemingly standing more upright and prouder, the gorilla smiled, "Leo."

Troy turned and walked backwards to ask his gorilla, "And your name is?"

Shrugging, the gorilla complained, "Can't think of a good one yet."

Troy asked, "Ya want some help?" The gorilla nodded, so Troy said, "Well, when I look at you and think of your job as a protector, I think of a knight." The gorilla smiled and nodded. "Okay," Troy giggled, "The most famous knight I can think of is Sir Galahad. I would probably call you Gale for short. Is that kewl?"

The gorilla snarled, "Galahad? Gale? No."

Quickly thinking of an alternative, Troy offered, "How about Gary? Gary the gorilla."

The gorilla tilted its massive head from side to side, obviously uncertain. Leo said, "I like it."

The gorilla wondered, "If you were in trouble and calling me, how would it sound?"

Uncertain, Troy shrugged and loudly called, "Gary!" Leo unexpectedly swept Troy up in his huge hairy arm. Wide-eyed and truly shocked, Troy hollered, "GAR!"

Troy's gorilla evilly chuckled. Leo put Troy down again and Troy's gorilla said, "I'll respond to that. Gary works."

Coming out of the pool house, Dee went directly to Keith. Leaning closer to his dad, Dee whispered, "Daddy, I got diarrhea. My butt ain't burned this bad since Saturday."

Keith softly asked, "Did it just start?" Dee nodded and frowned. Sitting up, Keith sighed and turned to Prez saying, "Tacos two days in a row."

Rolling his eyes, Prez grumbled, "We should've thought of that."

Keith offered, "I'll take care of Dee," and stood then took Dee's hand.

Prez nodded, "I'll check with Richie and the other kids."

Suddenly, Dee shook free of Keith's hand saying, "Uh oh!" then raced back into the pool house to use the bathroom again.

Keith quickly followed, but waited outside the closed commode door. Hearing Dee sniffling, Keith asked, "Are you all right, son?"

"It burns!" Dee whined.

Keith softly assured, "I know, Dee. Me and Poppa should've known better than to let you eat tacos."

Dee softly cried, "I'm scared, Daddy."

"It'll be okay, I promise. If you'll unlock the door, I can at least hold your hand."

Since he wasn't defecating at the time, Dee hurried off the toilet and unlocked the door. Keith had barely stepped in before Dee took his daddy's hand and sat his rear end back on the bowl. Keith wiped the tears off Dee's face and assured, "We'll take care of this, Dee."

"I don' wanna die!" Dee wailed.

Gently brushing Dee's blond hair, Keith softly shushed his son and promised, "You won't die. When you're done, we're going home to give you medicine and plain white rice. That should get you fixed up real fast."

Dee nodded then got a huge wad of toilet paper rolled around his hand and wiped his butt. Without looking at Keith, Dee softly said, "I never told you, I was fucked by a mean man."

"It's okay. You didn't need to tell me, Dee. We know all about the bad stuff done to you guys."

Dee whimpered, "He hurt me, Daddy. His dick was real big, like yours and Poppa's gets. A boy helped me Saturday so my butt-hole didn't burn or hurt no more."

Knowing it had to have been Peter Lambert, Keith nodded and considered giving Peter a hug the next time he saw him. If only the little Mikyvis would stay still long enough to get a hug. Keith sighed, "Remember what me and Poppa said, little boys should play with other little boys?"

Flushing the toilet then pulling his boardies up again, Dee grunted, "Uh huh."

"This is why," Keith carefully said. "When you get older, your dick's gonna be bigger, like mine or Poppa's. That's too much for little boys to ever have to deal with. Only very bad men would want boys to play with their dicks, or play with boy dicks. Do you understand?"

Dee nodded and forced a small grin, "You love me like a Daddy, not like a bad man. That's why you're here with me, in this smelly bathroom, ain't it?" Dee reached for and took Keith's hand.

Leading the way out of the pool house men's room, Keith smiled and nodded, "You're my boy and always will be, even in smelly bathrooms."

Once they were away from the crowded pool areas and on their way to the house, Dee prodded, "Daddy, when you and Poppa... does it hurt your butt too?"

Realizing what Dee was asking, Keith shook his head and smiled, "No, it doesn't hurt, but the first few times it was a little uncomfortable. Even when bigger boys make love, it's something the body needs to get used to. Me and Poppa were friends for years before we started playing with our dicks. We spent a long time using our hands to play with our dicks. One day, I told Poppa that I wanted his dick in my mouth. I couldn't even explain why I wanted it, but said I wanted him to feel good. He said I could, but only if he could have my dick in his mouth. It was after we turned twelve that we started trying butt play. We both had fun learning and trying. He never forces me and I never force Poppa. Now it's really beautiful, and we both look forward to it because it feels really great, and most importantly, we know we're showing our love." Dee seemed satisfied with the answer and didn't say anything more, so Keith asked, "Do you like boys more than girls, Dee?"

Dee shrugged, "Dunno. It's like... I don't wanna be hurt or hurt someone else like that ever."

More than pleased with his son's answer, Keith stopped and squatted down. Lifting Dee and carrying him, Keith softly said, "That was a good answer. Let me try to explain something to you. Making love is beautiful in every way. Fucking is bad, hurtful sex. Does that make sense to you?" Dee nodded, so Keith took the opportunity to explain, "Boys your age don't have to choose between liking boys or girls. Me and daddy were very lucky to find each other when we were only seven-years-old. We've been best friends since then, with Derrick and Mike. The four of us were split into two couples and still as close as friends could be. Someday, you might find a special boy or maybe a special girl. When you feel something in your belly like butterflies, it might mean you’re nervous or it might mean you're falling in love with that person."

Absorbing that, Dee asked, "So you won't be mad if I like a girl that way?"

"Never, Dee," Keith quickly answered. "Me and Poppa only want to see you grow up happy and healthy. What me and Poppa would both like, is for you and your brothers, to tell us when you start feeling those butterflies in your belly. That way we can help you decide if you're nervous or falling in love."

Dee nodded and smiled, "'Kay, Daddy."

Back at the pools, Prez had just finished roaming around and checking that the kids were feeling well. Kaleo jogged over to Prez and sniggered, "Head Rimmer?" Overhearing this, a bunch of kids began giggling before Prez could even turn around to respond.

Facing Kaleo, Prez grinned, "Mouth Rimmer?" This only added to the group of giggling kids. Some of the closer teenagers were coming up with their own "rimmer" handles for their friends.

Kaleo smiled, "We'll be getting a few more guests any time now; from Des Moines this time. I told them to transport here, by the rec center and pools."

Prez nodded and hummed then suggested, "We could put our clothes on, at least temporarily?"

Kaleo laughed, "Why? They're looking forward to being warm for the first time in weeks. I'd bet their clothes will be shed in under two minutes."

"You're probably right," Prez chuckled. "At least I'll make an effort for folks I haven't yet met." Picking up his boardies, Prez asked, "Do we know who is coming?" and slid into his shorts.

"The division head, Julio Hernandez, his partner and second in command, Jesse Crowley, and over a dozen more family and friends," Kaleo replied, and then reminded, "They'll need your approval to open the shield portal for transport, Prez."

Prez nodded and picked up his T-shirt, confirming, "Jimmy's already aware?"

"Yup," Kaleo nodded.

Prez slipped his T-shirt over his head then tapped his comm-badge and called, "Jimmy?"

Replying from Prez's comm-badge, Jimmy said, "Here, Prez. What's up?"

"A group of Clan visitors from Des Moines will be contacting you," Prez said. "As soon as they're ready, give me a heads up and allow transport."

Jimmy chuckled, "We just got the call, boss. Heads up!"

Before Prez and Kaleo, a few seconds later, all but one of the new arrivals appeared poolside. The last one appeared over the pool, and was soaking wet a few milliseconds later. Prez smiled, "Welcome to Pacific Rim Division Headquarters, where clothing and sanity are optional." While laughter or soft giggling traveled around the new group, Prez introduced himself and Kaleo then continued, "Our leadership team are scattered around right now. My hubby and second in command is taking care of one of our boys. Dee's feeling a little under the weather."

The teenage boy in the front of the pack grinned at the extended introduction, offered his hand and pleasantly said, "Hey, Prez. I'm Julio, director of the Des Moines division." Prez shook his hand and pulled him into a quick hug. Julio giggled, and continued his introductions with his partner, Jesse. Prez shook Jesse's hand and offered him a quick hug too. Prez wondered who the boy was that was transported over the pool and was now swimming to climb out. Julio grinned, "That's Colin, our head of security. The dunk was planned."

Seeing Kaleo and Prez standing with a group of new arrivals, Tory quickly got his shorts on, grabbed Kaleo's boardies, and then hurried over there. Kaleo quickly pulled up his boardies, so he could greet the new Clan brothers with more than a handshake. Drew, Corey, Geoff and Lenny also joined the group. More introductions traveled around as the new Rimmers arrived.

Over at the edge of the pool, a blond boy was helping Colin out of the pool. His two companions, Lucas and Logan, both of which looked like miniature versions of him, were being no help as they stood there giggling. "That's what you get for picking on JJ," Lucas said softly in response to Colin's complaints.

Locking eyes with Julio, Prez wondered, "Were you folks here last night, for our wedding concert?"

Shaking his head, Julio said, "We couldn't make it, but Daileass sent us a digital copy. That's part of why we're here today, but mostly, we just wanted to meet you guys and get some sun."

"Very kewl," Prez chuckled. Glancing around the group of three adults, Prez offered, "Please make yourselves at home. If anyone's hungry or thirsty, just head over to the C.I.C." He led the pack over to where the Rimmer adults were sitting. He introduced Mrs. Lanna Seaver, Mr. Carl Seibert and Mrs. Laura Gibbons to Bob Busch, Mick Hernandez and Janice Hernandez.

Realizing the entire group was following him around, Prez chuckled and called, "Richie? Gage? Sammy?" Once all his boys arrived, Prez introduced them to the younger kids and asked that his boys show the kids around and introduce them to others.

Immediately, without even saying a word to Prez, Richie beamed and went to the youngest twins, Frank and Fred. With the twins was Agapito. Richie asked their names and took their hands, leading them back to the pool. Gage and Sammy gathered Abejundio, Abelard, Johnny, Eddie and Robin and three more sets of twins, Bobby and Bruce, Riley and Reese, and Kent and Kurt, then led them to the diving well. Kekoa took another set of kids, Mini, Alien, Lucas, Logan and Colin, for a quick tour of the Rapid Response Base.

Now with a much smaller group, Prez asked about the layout of the Des Moines base. Learning it was a secured neighborhood with a few visible modifications, Prez was surprised to hear that their C.I.C. was below ground, underneath a bunch of homes. Roaming around with Julio, Jesse, Ricky and Rocky, Prez reviewed their first days and joked around at the insanity that had already become commonplace. They hadn't even left the pools and rec center when Prez noticed Johnny, Eddie, Sammy and Gage floating high above the diving well. Naturally, he looked around for John. Not seeing his youngest brother, Prez scowled.

Jesse grinned at Prez's confused expression. Julio laughed, "That's Robin doin' that, Prez. He's an N-Gen, telekinesis expert."

"Oh dude," Prez softly chuckled, "we're in trouble now. My brother's N-Gen too. Two N-Gens at once? I don't think the R.O.H. can cope." He told his guests about John, his empathic and telepathic skills and how John's new husband had made him a much stronger telekinetic.

After making the phone calls, John, Stephen and Lindsay walked to the main gate on North Road to meet Jeff and Tommy. Nearing the gate, Stephen tightened his hold on John's hand. When John looked over, Stephen asked, "Why are you so scared?"

John shrugged, "I can't remember the last time I didn't call either of them for five days."

Lindsay shook her head and huffed, "Hello? A little bit busy here! I've got a new brother and a new sister. You've got a new sister and three new brothers, not to mention a new husband and a son."

John nodded and softly admitted, "That's gonna knock 'em for a loop too."

"Stop!" Lindsay forcefully shouted. "We've been friends since we started school together. If either of them gives you any shit for marrying a boy you obviously love, I'll kick both their asses."

John giggled, "You would too."

Stephen asked John; "Would you rather I wait at the pool or at home, hon?"

"That's not even an option," John quickly answered. "They either accept everything that's happened or they walk right back out the gate."

Lindsay smiled, "That's better."

When they arrived at the security station, John told both UNIT guards that he was expecting visitors. They only had to wait another few minutes before John and Lindsay saw their friends approaching. From opposite sides of the fence, they all shouted and waved. Jeff and Tommy hurried to the gate and John signaled for the guards to open the shield portal and gate. Just as they had Friday afternoon, the four friends clasped hands and spun each other around. Stephen couldn't help giggling at them.

Noticing the sling on John's left arm, Jeff wondered, "What happened to you?"

John croaked, "A little accident. I'll be fine tomorrow."

Tommy asked, "Did you catch a cold too?"

Shaking his head, John grinned, "Part of the same accident. A few things have changed." John's voice cracked mid-way through the last sentence, so he cleared his sore throat.

Jeff and Tommy shook their heads. "A few things have changed," Tommy teased.

Jeff howled, "We figured that out when Prez was on TV Monday night!"

Feeling John getting nervous again, Stephen stepped forward. John popped another candy in his mouth and restrained himself from sending telepathic messages. Stephen couldn't help feeling proud of his husband. John felt it and reached for Stephen's hand saying, "Stephen, these are my friends, Jeff and Tommy." The three boys greeted each other. Then John said, "My arm and throat were hurt yesterday. We were aboard the Starship Enterprise for a tour..."

"The Enterprise?" Jeff and Tommy incredulously shouted.

John grinned and nodded. Smirking disbelievingly, Tommy teased, "Sure you were. Then you woke up!" Jeff cracked up.

Lindsay giggled, "He really was. So was Stephen."

"It's a perk when you're Clan," John struggled to clearly say. Becoming frustrated with his voice and wanting to get most of the questions answered quickly, John croaked, "Ya know what? I've never hidden anything from either of you before. Ya wanna know what really happened?"

Not knowing any better, Jeff and Tommy nodded, "YEAH!"

Right then and there, John pulled Jeff, Tommy, Lindsay and Stephen into his mind. He reminded them of Bruce, introduced them to Galli and showed them the inside of the Tardis. Then they all watched what happened on Secret Beach; a little Vulcan boy and big Sehlat and a Vulcan security team and thirty naked kids. John then fast-forwarded through the concert and luau to Saturday morning, when Joel had created their new division. Then there were gorillas and G-Cats and surfing and helicopter trips at Anahola Bay. Again, John fast-forwarded through Sunday, for the C.I.C. orientations and learning of the Downings' deaths, but slowed down Monday morning, showing his flight with Riti, Dewi's rescue, how he became an N-Gen, meeting Cory and Sean Short, and what happened when he met Stephen. Once more, John fast forwarded to Tuesday afternoon. He showed them the Enterprise and the space battle and how he managed to save two people from getting blown into space. John finished his little show with Admiral Kirk explaining things to his parents and finally, five simultaneous weddings and the concert. He released them all from his mind and watched as Jeff, Tommy and Lindsay glanced at each other.

Lindsay giggled, "Even I didn't know he could do that!"

Finally free to show some affection, Stephen did so and wrapped his arms around John. They floated a foot above the ground. Knowing Stephen wanted a kiss, John smooched his hubby hard, pushing Stephen backward slightly in the process. When they kissed, they rose about another two feet, but then slowed themselves and returned to a few inches above the ground.

Watching Jeff's and Tommy's jaws drop as John and Stephen floated; Lindsay shook her head and grinned, "Once a show off, always a show off."

With his head draped over Stephen's shoulder, John sent, 'That's everything that happened since we left you guys Friday night. That's why I couldn't call you dudes until today.'

Tommy noticed the clock in the security station and shouted, "You showed us all that in only a couple of minutes?"

John nodded. 'In about two minutes, actually.'

"Awesome!" Jeff reverently cheered.

Tommy nodded, "Totally wicked! What else can you do?"

Throwing his head back and laughing, John powered up and lifted Jeff, Lindsay and Tommy. He and Stephen walked above the ground, pulling the other three along with them. John, Lindsay and Stephen gave Jeff and Tommy a leisurely tour of the base. Now much more relaxed, John realized that there was a new, strong mind present on base. John sent a warm hello to the new N-Gen and offered, 'We're heading toward the pools now, dude. We'll be the one's floating about a foot off the ground.'

Feeling somewhat embarrassed, Dee told Keith that he'd rather stay at home and near the bathrooms than be seen running into and out of the pool house boys' room. Keith carried Dee upstairs and put him in a bedroom, where he had a TV, stereo and PlayStation to keep him occupied. Once he was certain Dee was resting comfortably, Keith returned to the pools where he joined Prez, Julio and Jesse.

Prez asked Julio and Jesse, "Would you like to chat about last night's teleconference with Cory?"

After checking with Jesse and getting a confirming nod, Julio nodded, "Sure, but obviously not here."

"Definitely not here," Prez and Keith chorused, and then stood. Julio and Jesse also got up from the lounge chairs they were occupying.

"Alden?" Prez called.

"Where to, Prez?" Alden answered.

Humming for a moment, Prez then replied, "Our Maui base, indoors so we aren't seen by the Starfleet security teams." In a blink all four were inside the unused Maui base's dining room.

Upon arrival, Keith instructed, "Alden, record our conversation, in case decisions become an issue at some future date."

Into all four leaders' sub-vocals, Alden stated, "Recording is now enabled."

Taking a seat at the nearest table, Prez began, "At this point, only our brother John knows what Keith and I know." Keith, Julio and Jesse all took seats at the table too.

"I'd rather he didn't know," Keith sighed, "but he's N-Gen and woke up when we started getting nervous."

"He's head of our Intel team and will keep the secret," Prez told Julio and Jesse. "That's part of the decision I'm struggling with; keeping the secret, from whom and for how long. Part of me would like to tell my entire command team. Cory, Starfleet and the Federation are preparing evacuations, but we all know people are going freak out, no matter how well prepared we are."

Keith nodded, "I'd like to tell all the members of our team, and our parents, but I don't want to create additional stress and worry. God forbid the kids found out, we'd be dealing with six weeks of crying kids."

Julio nodded and offered, "I understand where you're at. We've got a few telepaths and N-Gen's hanging around Des Moines. I'm pretty sure Colin knows."

"So does Johnny," Jesse added.

"That's probably only the tip of the iceberg too," Julio smirked.

Glancing around for input, Prez queried, "So telling the rest of the command team wouldn't be a terrible idea?"

Seeing Julio and Jesse shaking their heads, Prez heard John in his mind saying, 'Not Stephen, bro. I'll tell Stephen when I think the time is right. Him and his mom are just starting to feel like their lives aren't jinxed. Telling them now would only make that feeling worse.'

Prez grinned, "John says to not tell Stephen. So the first chance I get, I'll pull everybody except John and Stephen aside to tell them."

Reaching for Prez's hand, Julio smiled, "Trust your team, bro. Imagine how we'd all feel if Cory hadn't shared this information with us. He trusts us to cope with everything that we'll have to deal with in a few weeks, when we start evacuating this planet. Trust your team the same way."

Prez nodded and sighed, "I do trust them; with my life, with saving other lives, but it's not everyday you get to save six billion lives. If I wasn't adequately blown away last Saturday, I think I am now."

Keith asked, "Are we done here, baby?" and then grinned, "We've left John and Robin unsupervised. Everyone on base might be floating thirty feet in the air by now." Suddenly, Keith disappeared from the chair he was sitting on. He reappeared thirty feet above the Ewa Beach diving well and dropped, screaming, "JO-O-O-OHN!"

Waking from their nap, Bruce and Dewi put boardies on then went over to the pool. Back from Maui with Julio and Jesse, Keith and Prez were relaxing on lounge chairs while Gage, Richie and Sammy played in the pool with their new friends. Seeing the two recently orphaned boys together, Prez glanced at Keith. Already aware of what Prez planned to do, Keith smiled and nodded. Turning to Julio and Jesse, Prez excused himself, got up then leaned over to kiss Keith before walking away and meeting his two new little brothers.

Making his planned talk easier, Dewi raced to Prez. Catching the tiny four-year-old boy and picking him up, Prez kissed his cheek and chuckled, "It's good to see you too, Dewi."

"Don't get ta sees you too much," Dewi giggled.

Prez nodded, "I'm working a lot, but I'm trying to change that." Prez looked down and smiled at Bruce, "How're you doin', bro?"

Bruce shrugged and forced a grin, "Okay, I guess."

Prez nodded, "I'd like to talk to both of you alone for a little while, if that's okay?"

Dewi rapidly nodded. Bruce said, "Sure. We were only going to the pool before supper."

"Let's just walk around," Prez suggested. "While we walk, I want to tell you guys some stuff about me." Starting for the trees to the south, Prez softly explained, "A little more than two years ago, I was at my house with Keith, Derrick and Mike. We were playing music after school, like we almost always did."

"Ya do still!" Dewi giggled.

"That's right," Prez grinned. He then continued, "Before dinner time, Derrick, Keith and Mike went home so they could have dinner with their families. I waited for my parents and even made myself a sandwich because dinner was going to be late. It had happened before; little delays that I didn't think too much about. Keith came back over to my house and we did our homework. It got late and Keith had to go home, but my parents still weren't home, and he didn't want to leave me alone. So he called home and got permission to stay the night with me. He went home, but then came back with his mom. They both stayed with me. That night, my mother and father never came home from work." Prez inhaled deeply and said, "The next morning, we learned that their plane never landed. It was another two days before the plane was found. They had crashed into the ocean off the coast of Lanai and had both died."

Bruce nodded and softly realized, "Three days, just like my parents."

Dewi innocently asked, "Was you sad, Prez?"

Prez nodded, "Very sad for a long time." Looking down at Bruce, Prez admitted, "I was still a little sad when we found you last Friday afternoon."

"You didn't seem too sad," Bruce challenged.

"When Keith and I got home from school, I was thinking of my parents. But Keith's my best friend and he helped me feel better. We went to the beach that afternoon believing that the luau would be there, not at Kaua'i. That's why I'm afraid of planes and flying."

Bruce hummed thoughtfully then asked, "So even two years later, you still feel sad."

Prez nodded, "That's why I wanted to talk with you dudes. You'll never really forget your parents. The bad times will seem less bad and the good times will seem even better. Not only have the three of us lost our parents, it was at the same time of year. For Bruce and I, it was October."

Dewi said, "But my mammy and daddy was bad."

A little stunned, Prez locked eyes with the imp on his hip and asked, "You know that now?"

Dewi nodded, "Yup! My new mammy and daddy is more nicer!" Uncontrollably, Bruce giggled at Dewi's enthusiastic response.

Prez grinned, "Yes they are! They're my mommy and daddy too, ya know?"

"Yup! Daddy 'splained it."

After many silent steps together, Bruce softly wondered, "Will it ever stop hurting?"

Prez nodded, "In time. It's really only Octobers that mess with me now. With every passing day, it'll hurt a tiny bit less. Soon, you'll find yourself living each day, doing the best you can; but you're doing it for them as much as yourself and the people around that you love." Prez paused then smiled, "We're brothers now and always will be. When it hurts, I'd like it if you guys came to me to talk about it."

Bruce reminded, "You're so busy though, Prez."

Pulling Bruce close and holding him by the shoulder, Prez said, "I'm never that busy, Bruce. Family always comes first. It was that way with my parents; it's that way with the Hundsers and with Clan Short too. If I'm not available, you've also got Keith, Drew and John to talk to. We're all brothers. Behind all the goofing around and teasing we do, we really love each other. We really love you two dudes too. Sharing problems is the best way to make them go away fast."

Also happening that afternoon, Mike and his family were with the Scoobies, walking amongst the trees south of the school buildings. At the root of an old, dead tree was a large, wide hole. With some prompting from the Scoobies, Mike followed the ferrets down the hole. Behind Mike were Dillon, Jonah, Reyes and, bringing up the rear, Derrick. The tunnel had twists and turns and larger passages that led to dead ends. For almost twenty minutes, they crawled on their bellies, following the Scoobies down the dark passages. It would've taken longer, but several parts of the tunnel were smooth and could be slid down. Dillon and Jonah thought it was the most fun they had ever had, even when they slid into each other in the dark. Coming around another bend in the tunnel, Mike saw small blue flames ahead. Popping up from some deeper area, Spike grabbed Mike's hand and smiled, "This is it, Shiny Daddy!"

Filthy and sore from crawling, Mike grumbled, "This is what?" The few blue flames turned into dozens, and then, as Mike looked around above him, he estimated there were hundreds. The Scoobies had managed to connect pipe work from natural gas lines to create the lighting.

"Yous can stand now, Daddy," Willow giggled. She tilted a mirror and the cavern was quickly well lit. Mike turned to the passageway to help his kids and husband. Once they were all standing, they faced the ferrets, all of whom were happily bouncing on their hind legs and widely smiling.

"This be our Shiny Vault!" the four ferrets chorused.

Glancing around quickly at various Shiny objects, Mike wondered, "Are we even on base anymore? Where exactly are we, Spike?"

"Under the auditorium's basement," Spike happily cheered.

Faith nodded, "Near where Shiny Daddies first plays us Shiny music."

Xander pointed up at another passageway saying, "That leads up to the auditorium basement." It had to be twenty feet up a sheer wall, maybe two or three feet below the ring of gas flames.

"We's can get anywhere on base from here," Willow squealed.

At the many Shiny objects neatly organized and reflecting light from mirrors and gas flames, Derrick gasped, "My God!" The boys roamed around the cylindrical shaped vault. There were aluminum sculptures, chrome car and truck wheels, a pile of at least a hundred pearls, hub caps, various pieces of polished metals and piles of what appeared to be genuine gems of assorted sizes and shapes.

Out of curiosity, Mike wondered, "What's the most valuable thing down here?" He half expected the Scoobies would pull out the Hope Diamond from some secret hiding spot, but instead the foursome scampered to the largest aluminum sculpture. It had to be about fifteen feet tall and was absolutely the ugliest piece of modern art he'd ever seen. It would've taken Mike, Derrick, Reyes and the remaining Core Rimmers hours to move the hunk of junk a few yards.

The Scoobies cheered, "This is the Shiniest!"

Closely examining the piles of gems, Derrick recognized diamonds, jasper, quartz, rubies, Tiger's eye and turquoise. He softly asked, "Do you guys always crawl in and out of here?"

Xander shook his head and seriously answered, "We's can transport in and out with Shinies if we's need to."

Mike grinned, "Well, that answers how some of the larger Shinies got down here. This place is awesome guys." He paused and wondered, "How come I don't see any guitar picks?"

Crawling up Mike and parking herself on her daddy's shoulder, Faith replied, "Oh, we's keeps them always!"

"Them's from you, Shiny Daddy," Willow reminded, and then crawled up Mike's other side until she arrived at his opposite shoulder.

Reyes asked, "All this stuff came from Dull Lovers and Shiny Haters?"

Xander nodded, "Some of it. Most we's found."

Spike frowned, shook his head sadly and growled, "Tossed asides like garbage! Blasphemers!"

Nodding and forcing a frown, Mike huffed, "I know, it's very sad."

Pointing at four large tikis adorned with pearls, Reyes wondered, "Where did you find these?"

Willow answered, "They was buried here already."

Scratching his head and scowling, Reyes muttered, "They were here?" All four Scoobies replied affirmatively.

Derrick asked, "What's wrong, Reyes?"

Reyes sighed, "Tiki carvings are of Hawaiian gods, usually put at burial grounds. Tikis like these, with all these pearls, they must've been extremely important, guarding graves of very important people."

Mike gasped, "Tiki gods guarding burial grounds?" He asked the Scoobies, "Did you guys find any human remains here?"

Spike fervently shook his head, replying, "No Shiny Daddy, no bones, just Shinies."

Xander explained, "That's why we's picked this spot; it already had lots of Shinies."

Willow nodded, "Yup! We's cleaned the buried Shinies up."

Derrick checked his wristwatch then asked, "Are we done here?"

Mike nodded and suggested, "Let's go out under the Day Shiny. Then we can all have dinner together."

While Xander climbed the wall to flip the mirror and turn off the gas flames, Derrick gathered Dillon, Jonah and Reyes. Spike held onto Mike's leg and asked, "Yous can find us now, Shiny Daddy?"

Mike honestly answered, "I probably couldn't make my way down the tunnel without getting lost, but at least I know where to find you."

The lights went out. Willow said, "Yous can call for us from any street drain. We'll hear yous down here." A few moments later, Xander was holding onto Mike's other leg. Mike called Alden and a split second later, the entire family was back outside and by the pool house.

Most of the other Core Rimmers were back by the pool with their Des Moines guests. John had led his friends, husband and a troop of kids to learn how to play soccer in the nearby field. Corey saw first how dirty Mike, Derrick and their kids were and cracked up laughing. Prez covered his eyes briefly and chuckled. Keith grinned and pointed at the pool house, saying, "No pool for you dudes until you shower."

Mike loudly bitched, "That's why we're here, Dull One."

Suspiciously glaring at Keith, Spike wondered, "Is he really a Dull One, Shiny Daddy?"

"No, he took the pledge," Mike answered. Turning around and following his other kids into the pool house, he smirked, "Keith just likes to tease and bother me. So I tease and bother him too, every chance I get."

Soon after Derrick, Mike and their boys emerged from the pool house naked and clean, Prez introduced them to Julio, Jesse and some of the Des Moines Division near the pool, then began performing poolside adoptions. First on the list was seven-year-old Lenny Cutler being adopted by Drew and Corey. Geoff now had an older brother that was about two inches taller than he was. Next, Frankie Petropavlovski was adopted by John and Stephen, with Jeff and Tommy witnessing the proceeding. Completely blown away at their best friend, John, being married and now adopting a slightly younger boy, Jeff and Tommy overflowed with congratulations.

Reyes, Dillon and Jonah had talked Mike and Derrick into adopting seven-year-old Randy Beale. Next were five-year-olds Murakami Junichiro and Shimizu Atsushi, who were adopted by Bill and Lanna Seaver. Cesar and Felipe now had their two best friends as brothers. Anna and Carl Seibert adopted six-year-old May Hickox, giving Brandi the sister she very much wanted; and two former F.C.C. boys, seven-year-olds Chad Bunting and Herbert Trumbo. Knowing his parents and how they still grieved over the loss of their first son, Carl Junior, Derrick widely smiled, knowing his parents would happily fill their large new home with kids of all ages. When Jim and Jennifer Hundser arrived at the pool, Dewi was officially made their son, and Rena Hawkin, an eight-year-old former F.C.C. girl was made their daughter and Carmella's big sister. Just after five o'clock, the last and largest set of adoptions were four-year-old Aaron Pendergrass, five-year-olds Randall Mcfarren, Alan Mchugh and Tami Hepner, all of which were former F.C.C. kids and were adopted by Laura and Rob Gibbons.

When the adoptions were complete, Reyes, Jonah and Dillon gathered all the Gibbons-Seibert kids together for a final chat. That night, the eleven boys planned to sleep at the Seibert's house while the six girls, including Lindsay, would sleep at the Gibbons' house.

Kaleo and Tory were interested in the songs Platinum Habits had played during their concerts and jam sessions. They spoke with Troy first, telling him that a lot of the kids preferred the music the band played, because it wasn't the sort of dance music they had previously been forced to "perform" for adults to. Keith overheard the conversation. Between Troy and Keith, Kaleo was able to order a large collection of compact disks in the classical, jazz and rock genres. Without realizing it, Kaleo had ordered over a hundred CD's that now covered his bed. Keith also asked Alden to send Kaleo a copy of the prior evening's wedding concert.

Just before dinner time, Prez learned that a veterinarian, two nurses, two receptionists, six landscapers, eight housekeepers and twelve chefs, had been hired. The two nurses and two receptionists had already started work at the Ewa Beach main base. The new chefs and housekeepers would work weekends at the main base until additional bases opened. The new landscapers were directed to report to the Ewa Beach Incoming base, only about two miles west of the main base, by the next morning. Two of the chefs, one landscaper and one housekeeper had large families that would occupy the four single family homes at the incoming base until the condos were built. They could then move into large, five-bedroom and four-bathroom apartments that were actually larger in square footage than the single family homes. Five of the other planned employees would move into the townhomes on that base. The remaining employees would commute to work until the condominiums were built. Lastly, Jim Hundser told Prez that they had already hired enough ex-C.P.S. employees to fill the F.Y.S. offices on the main base and there would be three at each of the other four bases, starting the next Monday.

Grinning, Jim told Prez, "There is one other thing, not directly related to hires."

"Like what, dad?" Prez wondered.

Jim began, "You and Keith have four sons in less than a week. Derrick and Mike have four sons in less than a week. Drew and Corey have two sons. John and Stephen now have one of their own."

"Oh God," Prez groaned. "You’re not thinking…"

"I'm not only thinking it," Jim chuckled, "it's only a matter of time before you have eight sons per couple, then maybe add four girls per couple, and so on." Prez began sweating and helplessly giggling. Jim explained, "Your families and team are expanding, Preston. Carl Seibert came to me with an idea to build specialized housing for the Core Team members at each base. Basically, the team you have now must stay here on the main base. Kaleo and Tory are married now, so in time, we can foresee them having families. Troy and Sean aren't married, but from what I’ve seen and heard, they might as well be."

"All true," Prez sniggered. "What do you need from me, dad?"

"Only your approval so Carl can begin work on the additional construction projects," Jim smiled.

Tapping his sub-vocal, Prez said, "Alden, Mr. Carl Seibert intends to build specialized housing for the Core Rimmers, on each Pacific Rim Division base. The project is approved, effective immediately."

"Got it, Prez," Alden replied.

Before dinner, Robin and John had met and shared some telekinetic tricks. At dinner time, the two telekinetic pranksters ordered extra asparagus and zucchini. Sitting on opposite sides of the dining room, another veggie battle began. This time, John paid extra attention to his parents, so that every time they looked up, launched asparagus and zucchini suddenly flew way up to the ceiling and hovered there until the adults had looked away. It soon became necessary for inter-dining room ballistic asparagus and zucchini missiles to slide across the dining room ceiling before dropping down to the intended targets. Prez was happily chatting with Keith, Julio and Jesse, holding a spoonful of apple sauce in front of his face when an asparagus warhead dropped and splashed apple sauce around the table. At a nearby table, Mike, Derrick and Reyes noticed the mess and roared laughing.

Robin noticed Reyes laughing and, with total innocence on his face, dropped three cauliflower bombs into Reyes' soup. Prez, Keith, Julio and Jesse howled laughing. The adults finished their meals and left the dining room. A full-fledged 'leftover' war began seconds after the last parent exited the room. Veggies of every sort served, dinner rolls, French Fries and clumps of mashed potatoes were flung from every direction. An unsuspecting chef peered around the corner to see why the dining room had suddenly gotten so loud and was promptly splattered with a potato grenade. The last remaining adults in the area joined the kids in their play war, armed with large ladles to launch mass quantities great distances, and using serving tray covers to protect themselves from incoming barrages.

The worst of all of the remaining adults was Bob, who borrowed a slingshot from Logan and began launching deviled eggs at any available target. Along one table, the entire strike team that had come over from Des Moines pooled their resources and systematically began 'taking out' any of the teenagers who happened to move within range.

With the last of the ammunition splattered against the walls, floor, ceiling and even the cages surrounding the defenseless partridge, turtle doves, French hens and calling birds, the two instigators began telekinetically gathering the wasted food items and dropping it, en masse, into the nearest trash cans. This task was also made fun as John and Robin tried to make the grossest, squishiest plopping noises from the trash being deposited into the cans. Kids began leaving the dining room for the nearest showers at the dorms and over at the pool house.

After the dining room was mostly cleaned, Keith returned from the men's room with Dee. Keith sat down and Dee shuffled onto his dad's lap. Facing Prez, Keith sighed, "I think we're gonna have to call Antonio. Dee's still got the runs."

Overhearing that, Nathan turned and said, "Can I suggest a quick checkup by Reyes instead?"

"Why Reyes?" Keith and Prez simultaneously wondered.

Nathan grinned, "He was upgraded. Now he's got the knowledge of any General Practitioner stored in his positronic memory. It would just be easier for Reyes to check Dee over real quick."

Reyes was at the next table over with Derrick, Mike and their kids. Prez called Reyes to come over. Keith explained the situation to Dee, who enthusiastically agreed to have Reyes play doctor with him.

Reyes was appearing a little uncertain, but then widely grinned, "Holy crap! I know exactly what to do!" Derrick and Mike began laughing as Reyes hurried to the Command Center to retrieve a tricorder. In less than a minute, Reyes returned and easily operated the tricorder, as if he had been doing it all his life. After scanning Dee, Reyes smiled, "He's not even a little dehydrated. I don't foresee any major problems, just discomfort from going so often. We can even take care of that. Let me just confer with Doc Andrews and Doc Howard. I'll come back with a hypo-spray and Dee will be done running to the bathrooms." Turning and slowly walking away, Reyes then tapped his comm-badge to call the two doctors.

Noticing Dee smiling for the first time all afternoon, Prez asked, "That was easy, wasn't it?"

Dee nodded and giggled, "He's a good doc too."

Cuddling Dee closer, Keith whispered, "There's nobody better than one of your best buds."

Prez suggested, "Would you like Reyes to be your doctor tonight, at least until we're sure you're better, Dee?" Dee enthusiastically agreed.

Reyes returned and administered the hypo-spray in Dee's arm, saying, "This will take care of the diarrhea and lower abdominal cramps."

"How long will it take?" Prez wondered.

"Two minutes," Reyes answered. "The intestines are packed with blood vessels." He then rapidly shook his head and giggled, "I'm gonna have to access the various new databases I have!"

Mike howled laughing. Derrick softly called Reyes over for some one-on-one father-son cuddle time. Instructing Dee to drink plenty of water for the next few hours, Reyes then went to Derrick. "I want you to think about something," Derrick whispered to Reyes. "With all your new databases, you're an incredible asset to this Clan. If you want, you can become a Core Rimmer too."

Reyes blushed and grinned, "I don't know, dad. Playing on stage with you guys last night was awesome. That's really all I'm looking forward to."

Pulling Reyes close and firmly hugging him, Derrick smiled, "You'll get more and more chances to do that too. As your databases become more integrated, all you have to do is tell me what you'd like to do. If you say yes then we'll talk with Prez." Still uncertain, Reyes shrugged at first. Seeing the pride in Derrick's eyes and realizing that his dad wanted him to join the command team, Reyes considered it more carefully and teetered on the fence.

Jeff and Tommy stayed with John, Stephen, Frankie, Nathan, Jamie, Jacob and Beau through dinner and the subsequent food fight. The Terrible Triplets had to leave as well, since they were expected in the U.K. for Joel's and Kevin's wedding. The three boys gave goodbye hugs to John, Stephen, Frankie and Nathan. Prez and the rest of the Core Rimmers were next to get hugs goodbye. Cesar and Felipe heard triplicate goodbyes from their older friends and teachers. Jacob, Jame and Beau then raced across the compound to hug Lanna Seaver and give her three goodbye kisses. They finished their farewells with the rest of the Rimmer parents before transporting out.

Frankie went to play with his cousins. Before they had to leave for the night, Jeff and Tommy had gate passes and comm-badges to call John and Lindsay, so they could visit often. John, Lindsay and Stephen walked them back to the North Road gate. With all that was available for entertainment and a hundred and fifty kids to play with on the base, they promised that they would be back almost every day.

"Vorik to Director O'Brian," came the call from Prez's comm-badge.

Prez tapped his comm-badge and formally responded, "O'Brian here. How can I help you Lieutenant?"

Vorik answered, "There is a situation requiring the attention of your command team, Sir."

"Acknowledged," Prez replied, and then informed the Vulcan Lieutenant, "I have Clan Short guests from Des Moines. Would it be acceptable to have them join our team, Sir?"

"Yes, that may prove advantageous," Vorik answered.

"We'll be right there, Lieutenant," Prez said. Within a minute, most of the Pacific Rim Division team was gathered. Prez knew that John would be along as soon as possible. Julio and Jesse rounded up Colin, Chris, Logan, Mini, Lucas, Alien, Doug, Travis, Johnny and Eddie. The large group entered the Command Center, where they found Kekoa already waiting with Lieutenant Vorik.

On the way back to the C.I.C. from the gate, John began getting a queasy feeling in his stomach. Stephen worried that dinner didn't agree with his husband. John slowly shook his head and sent, 'I've been so preoccupied most of the day, I didn't feel it before now. Something big is going on.' Together, the two boys ran back to the C.I.C. and across the dining room into the Command Center. There they found all the rest of the Core Rimmers, the Des Moines Division team leaders and Kekoa gathered around Lieutenant Vorik. Rather than interrupt, John listened and began scanning his brothers to learn about the situation.

A major California technology company named Zorro Communications Corporation was getting tax benefits for operating social services in the form of orphanages spread across the state. However, their accounts for the social services spinoff didn't add up. Money that should have been spent to adequately clothe, feed and shelter about two hundred kids wasn't being spent. Not even their utilities bills made sense; water, electric and natural gas must have cost them way more than they were accounting for. Additionally, since what was required didn't make sense, not a single U.S. Dollar could be found to be spent on any game or toy.

Pacific Rim Division was preparing to raid sixteen orphanages in eight California cities. In San Diego, there were two orphanages; in Anaheim, there were two; in Los Angeles, there were three; in Santa Barbara, there was one. Two orphanages were in San Jose; three were in San Francisco, two were in Sacramento and the final one in Fresno.

When Prez called Jack at the Rapid Response Base to arrange for him to join in the planning, Jack asked who else was participating. As Prez ran through the list, Jack began evilly laughing.

"Do I even want to know what you think is so funny?” Prez smirked.

“Just wait,” Jack replied. “I've been waiting to give paybacks for a prank that I was the victim of. This is better than any prank I could come up with to retaliate!”

Turning to Julio and Jesse, Prez grinned, "At least I'm pretty certain most of my team haven't pulled any pranks on you, Jack."

Julio nodded. "Maybe not any of your guys; but I'll bet you I can give a full list from my side. In fact, the list of innocent people is a lot shorter!"

Colin had overheard the conversation, and interjected "I think I know who he's talking about. And not only can't he spell 'innocent', he's never experienced it!"

Jack chuckled. "Not bad, Wet Dream... as soon as I get Daileass ready to record my fun, I'll be over." All the Core Rimmers' eyes shot open and they cracked up, each silently wondering who "Wet Dream" was. They could only assume it was Colin.

Colin gave a feral grin in the direction of the Rapid Response Base. "You need to sleep sometime, Jackie boy... and when you do, I'll be there."

"This is going to be AWESOME!" Daileass announced. "Can I save it as a training film, Colin?"

"Sure thing, little brother," Colin replied. "Make sure I get a copy though, okay?"

"You got it!" Daileass exclaimed, his joy obvious at being able to film Colin in action.

Jack wasn't intimidated at all. "Just remember who cooks your food when you're here, Captain Hallucination!"

Nathan Hayes turned to Prez and the remaining hysterical Rimmers, chuckling, "This is how all our operations start. It's like a pre-release of tension... or at least that's the best excuse I can think of."

"Or in your case, a 'premature release' of some sort," Kris giggled under his breath.

Nathan smirked, "Uhhh... only eleven here... there ain't much release of anything... YET!"

"Will you pervs stop comparing your lack of pubic hair and get back to business?" Logan declared between giggles.

Daileass giggled, "Business? What business? Oh yeah! Some of you guys want to play soldier?"

Suddenly, Jack disappeared from the screen everyone had been watching. He appeared in the Command Center, directly behind Logan and, in a flash, pulled Logan's underwear and shorts down to the floor.

Logan kicked his shorts away, and pulled his 'Terminator' briefs back up, proudly showing off the "I'll be back" lettering across the posterior. "Who needs shorts, they just catch on things! Thanks, Miss Jackie!"

Jack reached down and grabbed the back of the Terminator brief and lifted Logan off the floor. "Did you say something, Logan?" All the Rimmers groaned in sympathetic pain.

"Yeah, is it that time of the month for you already?" Logan giggled, obviously ignoring any pain he might have been feeling.

"It is whenever I'm around you little shits. I don't know what it is about you guys," Jack said as he started to bounce Logan up and down by his underwear. "But just to make my day even more complete, guess what? You're in charge!" Jack then let the boy drop back down to the floor.

"What are you smoking? I'm a guest! This is your area of command!" Logan replied, trying to decide if Jack was still messing with him.

"Not today, Lieutenant," Jack seriously said. “It's time for you to get in some real command and control practice."

Logan straightened his briefs, then looked around the room before looking back at Jack. "I hereby relieve you of command for this operation, General." Logan stated, his tone making it clear that he wasn't playing anymore.

Jack nodded. "I accept your relief, and will be available if you need any help. You've earned this, Logan; good luck."

As difficult as it was to be serious after all that, especially with the young commander standing in stretched Terminator briefs, Prez wheezed and giggled, "So Logan's taking over our Command Center while my team and I are out?"

Julio smiled as he came over and ducked under Logan's legs, putting the freshly-minted commander on his shoulders. "I'll handle this, Little Admiral!" Julio stated, earning him a playful swat on the head from Logan. "Just so you guys know, Logan is Second-in-Command of his strike team. General Adam Casey has been grooming him for full command. He's a veteran of more battles than I want to think about. Based on what Dad and Bob have explained to me, the best way to work it when you're doing something major, is to have the guys who have been trained to do it run the show, while we just advise them on the direction we want things to go in."

"Kewl," Prez smiled. He turned to the Core Rimmers and said, "Logan is our manager. Requests into the Command Center go through him." Facing Julio and Logan again, Prez told them, "Lieutenant Vorik is our Starfleet and VSO Liaison. Any assistance Logan needs can also be funneled through him."

Logan nodded. "Okay, Julio, get your face sucking done with Jesse, we got work to do." As Julio put him down, happy to comply with Logan's first order, Logan began contemplating his staff. "Jack, you take Lucas with you to the Rapid Response base; if he tells you to do something, it's from me. John, what is the Intel situation here?"

John answered, "Since I'm going too, Nathan has the ball for Intel stuff. He and Lieutenant Vorik can handle it."

"That works; Tucker, Johnny, and Eddie, you guys work with them and sort out positions. Kris, you have tactical; Colin, and Dutchmen left are on standby for backup, that's your ball."

With that, the Core Rimmers and Julio, Jesse, Doug and Travis left the Command Center. They went to the dining room where one-hundred and sixty troops were waiting and ready for the operation.

Gathered were all one-hundred-twenty Rimmer troops, plus forty from the Rapid Response Base. An additional twenty from the Des Moines Division strike teams were on standby, should backup or circumstances dictate help was required. The six Core Rimmer couples would be in command of ten of the sixteen brigades raiding the orphanages. Of course, the Command Teams’ personal security guards would also be in attendance. Julio and Jesse would command another brigade. The last command team would be Doug and Travis, also from Des Moines. All sixteen orphanages would be invaded simultaneously at two in the morning Pacific Time. By the time adults on the premises knew what was happening, they would already be under arrest.

Depending upon how tired the kids might be, they would all be brought back to Ewa Beach to be fed, then clothed before housing was arranged. Hopefully some of the kids would accept the idea of sleeping at the dorms, but everyone knew the youngest amongst the rescued would want to nest. The best news was that there would be three Rimmer homes with kids. Two hundred kids wouldn't fit in one basement, but could easily fit in three, if needed. The final preparations were made by contacting the chefs and the Rimmers’ parents to be prepared for the largest group of rescued kids yet. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, all the raids could be complete and the kids back in Hawaii between midnight and one in the morning, Hawaiian time.

Prez was annoyed that another U.S. corporation was cooking their books. At the same time, he realized that Lieutenant Vorik, Kekoa, Donnie and all the Clan Short leadership teams had come up with a great plan. Arriving at the best way to allocate his command teams, Prez sent the youngest and most recent Core Rimmers to cities where there were only two orphanages. The helpful Des Moines Clan guests would go to cities with only one orphanage. That left Mike and Derrick in Los Angeles. Keith and Prez would command from San Francisco. A coordinated attack in the middle of the night would catch the adults off guard. The only unfortunate effect of the plan is the kids would be woken up and probably scared to death. For the benefit of the kids, the plan was to get them back to Ewa Beach and out of the frightening situation as quickly as possible.

In the C.I.C dining room, the last thing Prez told the assembled teams was; "I demand minimal casualties on both sides. As many as possible of these supposed 'care-givers' are to be captured alive. They are to be arrested and subjected to mind scans. What I really want to know is who is responsible? Is it the social services spin-off or is it from the corporation's board of directors? Are the city or state governments involved? I want answers; Cory Short will want answers. There will be no loose ends. Last Saturday, the news from the R.O.H. traveled the globe. Tomorrow, the news from California will do the same. We'll have all those bastards under arrest and all the kids will be safe here with us." Pausing and glancing around the assembled group, Prez asked, "Are there any questions?"

Facing the troops, Kekoa confirmed, "Does everyone have the new MP5-AX?"

One hundred and sixty troops loudly replied "Sir, yes Sir!"

Before Prez could ask, Kekoa explained, "These new weapons have phaser capability, ammo that delivers a disabling electrical charge, and of course, they can also accept standard ballistic ammo."

Prez grinned and nodded; "Unless there's a major problem, communications will be limited to what can be passed by the A.I.'s via sub-vocals. We need virtual silence, folks; surprise is our ally. If you've got to fart, do it quietly."

The large group of strike teams began to separate to prepare for transport. At exactly 10:45 PM Hawaii Time, the Ewa Beach C.I.C. dining room was emptied of all strike teams.

Prez and Keith went with one strike team to San Francisco. Mike and Derrick were in Los Angeles. Kaleo and Tory were in San Diego. Sean and Troy were in Sacramento. Drew and Corey were in Anaheim. John and Stephen were in San Jose. Julio and Jesse were assigned to Santa Barbara. Doug and Travis went to Fresno.

Upon arrival at the sixteen orphanages, Police Departments in all eight cities were contacted by the Command and Control Center at the O'ahu Rapid Response Base and forewarned that Clan Short Pacific Rim Division had justification for the planned raids. Not a single law enforcement agency argued and they promised to steer clear of the orphanages. While the main attack troops moved out to encircle the orphanage properties, the Core Rimmers and Des Moines Command Teams hung back with their security personnel.

Even across the street from the orphanage, John felt intensely painful pangs in his belly. It was far worse than the painful jabs he felt about Joel's rape or from Dewi. This was a chronic, constant pain, and it was spreading such that his arms, legs and head hurt.

Shedding tears, Stephen felt a small part of what John felt, but Prez had ordered silence, so he said nothing to John, yet he watched him carefully. Holding his belly and looking at Stephen and then at Lucky, John began sweating. Feeling like he might hurl, John leaned forward, his arms braced on his knees. Remembering what Jacob, Jamie and Beau taught him about protecting himself from empathic and telepathic overload, John reasoned that's what had to be happening. He began the process of shutting down his N-Gen empathy and telepathy. It lessened the pain, but not so dramatically that he felt very much better. Slowly shaking his head, John tried to keep to the plan, but the pain was too much to bear. Shaking violently, John tapped his sub-vocal, softly sobbing, "Alden, to all command teams. Prez,'s very wrong. Go now, bro."

Hearing the desperation in his brother's sobs, Prez ordered, "All teams; go now!"

All the strike teams responded and sixteen orphanages were raided simultaneously at 1:47 AM Pacific Time, Thursday, November fourth.

Sirens blaring and lights flashing, an L.A. Police squad car skidded at high speed around the corner less than a quarter mile from where Mike and Derrick were standing. "Sonofabitch!" Mike grumbled. "God-damned cowboys! They were supposed to stay away!" Raising his phaser and with Derrick following his husband's lead, they fired on the squad car, taking out the lights and then the two front tires. Out of control, with steel rims digging into the concrete street, the squad car screeched to a halt. Mike and Derrick fired on the grill and took out the siren horn. Derrick's gorilla, Talib, fired two fifty-caliber rounds at the squad car's engine block. Two officers scrambled out of the car with their hands prepared to draw their weapons. Mike's and Derrick's teenage security guards, Manny and Dave, saw immediate threats to their charges and fired their silenced MP5-AX rifles at the officers, hitting them both in both of their knees with high current electrical charges. Frozen for many seconds, the two men fell to the ground, bouncing and flopping around like fish out of water.

"Wow!" Manny softly chortled, "It fucking works!"

Smirking at his security guard, Mike softly hissed, "Ya think?"

Dave shrugged and explained, "They're new weapons. We've fired them at dummies before, but they don't dance like that!"

Mike's gorilla, Rafiki went to the two officers and called, "Terra-Main, two to beam up for medical attention and prosecution."

Back in Ewa Beach, eleven minutes before eleven o'clock, Cesar and Felipe Laurito woke screaming. Naturally, the piercing sound woke the two younger and recently adopted boys sleeping in the same room; Murakami Junichiro and Shimizu Atsushi. It was the first night all four boys chose to sleep at the Seaver home instead of in the Hundsers' basement. Startled, Bill and Lanna Seaver raced up the stairs. What the twin boys described was considered a nightmare by the two adults, a result of their previous lives at orphanages and foster homes. The boys couldn't be consoled or calmed. They wanted to join the nest at the Hundser's.

Lanna made a quick call and spoke with Jennifer. Minutes later, Bill and Lanna walked the four boys over to the Hundsers'. After getting the four boys settled in the nest, the four adults had tea and chatted, unaware that this was anything more than a required adjustment period. The adults had no idea where their sons were; they only knew that they would be returning with close to two hundred orphans.

Felipe sent to Cesar, 'John's not here. None of our leaders are here.'

Cesar cuddled closer to his brother and replied, 'It's really happening, I know it. We need to be here.'

'I'm scared.'

'Me too.'