Alex was assigned to the Chiri'kuta, a ship with a seriously bad reputation. Though no one deserves what Alex will be subjected to, no one is more deserving than him.
In the Leif Erikson Dorms, the new cadets were introduced to their dorm "Big Brother," Hayden Barlow. They also got their room assignments and met the Dorm Resident Advisor, Ian Quinn.
Connor had dinner with Ronnoc, his father who was discovered on the rogue planet. He also discovered that Megrez named him.
After his service on the SS Joseph Hooker, Kash earned a promotion to Commander. He was also placed as fourth in command of the Sooloo.
After that meeting, Hal had a meeting with Ronnoc. Ronnoc would be evaluated by Space Fleet Medical, and possibly serve as a nurse on the Sooloo.
On the way to view Olympus Mons, Koji gave a short lecture about what he had learned about the volcano. While visiting the viewing tower, he made a new friend. His friend's name is Marsh Ian Dawkins, and he was born on Mars.
Former Senator Allen Cooper was tried by Space Fleet and was sentenced to 18,450 years in the Neptune Penal Colony. He may be up for parole after serving a minimum of 6,150 years, should he live that long. Jimmy realized that it wasn't Timothy's fault, and asked to start being called Jim.
Captain William Robinson faced an inquiry concerning what happened to his ship. It was determined that no charges would be made, and Robinson was promoted to Vice Admiral. Not only that, but he was also given his own fleet, a transitional fleet between the Explorer Program and the Regular Fleet.
While in Florida, Oliver went back to his "old neighborhood," so to speak. It was a dark alley where he hung around with his former "family." Lars went with him and met Matthew, Oliver's former lover. After meeting them, Oliver did what he could to get his friends out of that life and into one where they could make something of themselves.
Before going onto the Sooloo, Space Fleet Medical did a current evaluation of Ethan, Mason's son. It was determined that Ethan was no longer aging at a fast rate, and his DNA showed that he was 100% human.
While heading to the SS Mars, Danny and Kyle noticed what looked like someone had painted an "h" onto the shuttle, renaming her the SS Marsh. Naturally, Koji was the prime suspect, but he didn't do it. Who did? None other than Kash Rivers, but it wasn't paint. It was a magnetic decal. He and the boys were playing a prank on Kyle and Danny.
Steve, Brad and Shasho decided to take a walk through Wayne Bunker Family Park. At one end was a skate park, so they went to watch. Shasho pointed at a blond boy wearing glasses, "He looks pretty good."
Brad joked, "Yeah, and he's not bad on the skateboard, either." Steve elbowed him.
The boy walked over and asked Shasho, "Do you want to try?"
Before Shasho could answer, Steve commented, "You looked really good. At one point, I thought you were about to lose it, but you recovered in air."
"Instinct, I was born with," the boy replied. "Mom said I get it from my dad. I can anticipate almost anything minutes before it's needed"
"What's your name, if you don't mind my asking," Brad inquired.
The boy replied, "I don't mind; it's Steve Boyer."
Brad and Shasho gasped in surprise, but Steve said, just barely audible, "No fucking way."
"Why fucking not?" the boy giggled.
"That's my name," Steve answered. "Who are your mom and dad?"
The boy shed a tear, "Mom's name was Brenda Boyer. We had her funeral last week. Dad took off when he found out Mom was pregnant."
"So, who are you staying with?" Brad questioned.
"Family friends took me in until my Grandma Kanye gets here."
Steve and Brad looked at each other and mouthed, "Kanye?"
After a few minutes, Shasho and the younger Steve started cracking up. Brad looked sternly at Shasho, "What's so funny?"
Steve replied, "I met Shasho earlier. He told me that I reminded him of his dad so much. My name is Steve, but it's Steve Bowers. The rest of the story is true, except my grandma is Grandma Bowers."
Steve took a few seconds to let everything sink in. "So, you really did bury your mom last week, and will be living with your grandma?"
The boy nodded his head. Steve gave the boy a hug while Brad spoke what they were thinking. "Wish we could adopt y..."
The boy interrupted, "Not necessary. Grandma put her house up so she could live here. I love my grandma but wouldn’t mind if Shasho and I could be friends."
Steve, still holding the boy, was quick to respond, "Yes, of course, and if you ever need to talk to Brad or me about anything..."
"Well, there is one thing," the boy began. "While I really like this hug, you're a little tight."
It was then that Steve realized he was still holding the boy and let go.
It took a while for the Mars to get clearance. Apparently. There was a big meeting in Vegas for all the Heads of State. But once they were given clearance, Danny flew directly to the Sooloo's shuttle bay.
As they were leaving the Bay, Captain Tietokone was entering, preparing to head back down to his family. He gave them a funny look, "Does that shuttle have a red 'h' added to its name?"
Kash chuckled, "Yes Sir, I added it for Koji, but it's not permanent, just a special magnet. We were planning to take it off later."
Hal looked like he pondered the idea for a few seconds. "Leave it, I know a certain boy likes having it there, and it doesn't hurt anything." Koji grinned at Hal and then hugged him.
Once Hal headed for his shuttle, Koji asked, "Can I invite Tei to swim with us tomorrow?
"If he can invite Tei, can I invite Jason and Jonas?" Jay inquired.
"What about Marasu?" Duskin begged. "He's my boyfriend." Danny just shook his head at Duskin claiming to have a boyfriend at his age.
Koji added, "We should invite all the boys under ten. Since school is on break, we don't get to go swimming together as much."
Kyle gave his son a funny look, "School just went on break Friday. Why don't you come up with a plan for swimming with them this Friday, and tomorrow it will be just us, that is unless Kash doesn't mind you inviting them. He is the one planning this."
"I agree," Kash stated, "tomorrow should be just us. I will reserve the holodeck for you boys on Friday at say 1100."
"Okay," Koji sounded a little disappointed, but yet glad that a plan was being made for him to get what he wanted, just at a different time.
Kyle looked at Koji, "I want you to plan the event, and then either Danny or I will approve it."
"Really?" That perked Koji up even more.
Upon their return to Earth after their week-long visit to Mars(h), the two boyfriends returned to the Academy. When they entered the dorm, they were greeted by Hayden. Haydon is the Dorm "Big Brother" for the Leif Erikson Quarters. He looked like he was angry about something. In a gruff, an almost angry voice, he said, "You two, report to my room, now!"
Gordy looked at Robbie, and it was apparent that he was as mystified as his boyfriend. He replied, "Yes, sir, but are we in trouble for some reason?"
Hayden's only reply was, "Get your butts to my room, I'll be there once I've gotten Ian. We will both see you at that time." Ian is the Resident Advisor for those same quarters.
The pair went to Hayden's room, and waited outside, not wanting to presume they had permission to enter. Both silently wondered what this was all about. Before they could talk about it, Hayden and Ian arrived. Without saying anything, they opened the door and entered. Hayden had to indicate that the boys should enter. Once they had, Ian locked the door.
Hayden just looked at the two for several moments before saying, "Are you two aware of the penalty for being AWOL? I don't think it appropriate for the two of you to go off and party together when your families thought you were here."
Gordy started to say, "But sir…" but was cut off.
Ian stated in an equally menacing tone, "We don't want to hear any lame excuses out of you two. You’re both lucky we don't request that the two of you be expelled."
Gordy and Robbie looked like they were about to burst out into tears. Hayden couldn't finish what he'd started. "Ok, guys, I didn't realize you would both take it so hard; we just wanted to prank both of you. We were informed by Admiral Robinson that you two were accompanying family for a week on Mars. We hope you had a good time."
The boys looked both perturbed and relieved at hearing this. Hayden and Ian, then proceeded to tell the boys what they needed to know and what they had missed out on while both vowed silently that they'd get back at the older boys.
A man had just gotten off one of the shuttles traveling between Earth and the Sooloo. He was dressed in business attire, minus the tie. He approached a group of crewmembers securing one of the shuttles. "Excuse me," the man interrupted their work, "I was told I could find a John Luke or William Crusoe on this ship. I have a visitor's badge from an Admiral Crusoe."
"I can take you to them," Crewman Jesse Gross offered.
As they walked, Jesse kept looking at the man. "You look awfully familiar," Jesse finally declared. "Do I know you?"
"Have you ever been to Snow Shoe, Pennsylvania?" the man asked.
Jesse shook his head, "Never."
"I've lived there all of my life," the man averred. "This is my first time to leave. I doubt you've ever seen me."
Jesse just couldn't shake the feeling there was something familiar about the man. As they arrived at John and Will's quarters, Jesse pressed the chime. Drake opened the door, "What can we do for you, Uncle Jesse?"
"This man wishes to speak with your dads."
Drake let the man in and went to get John and Will. Jesse had left, but once he did, it hit him why the man looked so familiar.
"Can we help you?" Will inquired.
"I just found out that a distant relative had passed away, leaving a son."
"Okay," John responded, "and what does that have to do with us?"
"My name is Wyatt Vern Alexander," the man replied. "My friends call me WyVern, sorta as a joke. And the son is…"
"Drake," Will nervously interrupted, having put the pieces together.
"Exactly," Wyatt confirmed.
Drake had been sitting beside Will the whole time. He looked like he was scared and about to cry. He clung onto Will. Wyatt made a mental note of that.
"I don't know you," Drake blurted out. Fear could be heard in his voice.
"Drake, I am something like your fourth or fifth cousin, so we've never met."
"So, why are you here?" John asked. He was a bit angry but waiting to know for sure if he needed to be.
"To be honest, I wanted to see if I needed to take Drake home with me. He is a relative, so I would have…"
"Would have?" John verified, breathing a little easier.
"Yes," Wyatt commented. "But Drake seems happy here, and we don't know each other. As I said, we are related, so if I didn't think he was happy, I would have gone to court for custody."
"We adopted him," Will declared.
"True, but since I am his closest relative and I didn't consent, I could have used that. Since I see that Drake IS happy here, I do give my consent. I don't want to disrupt Drake's life, especially since he seems to have a good one."
Drake finally let go of Will. "So, you were concerned about me? Why didn't you come get me when Mom died?"
"As I said, I just found out about her death," Wyatt answered. "Snow Shoe is a very small town with a population of just over 700. We are still using twenty-first century technology."
"So, what now?" Drake inquired.
"Now, I'd like to get to know you at least a little bit, then I will go home. You will continue your life here."
No longer feeling threatened, John offered, "Would you like to spend the night? You can always head home tomorrow."
"I would like that if Drake doesn't mind."
Drake smiled, "I don't mind."
Will called out the other two boys, "Lakinae, Marasu, come out and meet a distant cousin of your brother's." Once they came out, Will and John introduced them to Wyatt.
Koji, Duskin, Danny and Kyle arrived at the Holodeck exactly ten minutes before 1300. They were surprised not to see Kash. Kyle asked, "Computer, where is Kash Rivers?"
"Kash Rivers is currently in Holodeck 2," came the Australian teenage male voice of the computer.
"That explains why we don't see him," Danny surmised. "Shall we go in?"
As they entered, there was a waterfall feeding a giant lake. By the lake was a tent. Kash and Mason were folding clothes and placing them neatly on a bench beside the tent. "What's the tent for?" Kyle asked. "And where are Jay and Ethan?"
"The tent is in case anyone wanted privacy," Kash replied, "and the boys are already in the lake."
"Can we go get in the lake?" Koji inquired.
"Take off…" Danny began instructing, but Duskin and Koji were out of their clothes before he could finish. As the two ran for the lake, Danny shook his head, commenting, "I swear, those two get out of their clothes so fast."
"Yeah, you should see Ethan," Mason chuckled. "He may give them a challenge as to who strips faster. I'm surprised he doesn't just rip them off."
Kyle laughed, "Don't say that too loud. Koji just might."
"At least if he does, the replicator can repair it," Kash whispered.
Kyle agreed, "True, but there are some things I wouldn't want to have replaced by the replicator, like Koji's kimono, which has sentimental value to him."
"I can agree on that," Mason stated. "It looks like the boys are having fun in the lake, why don't we join them."
"Last one in is a rotten egg," Kash declared.
"No fair, you and Mason are already naked, Kyle and I still need to undress."
"Speak for yourself, Love, I've been taking lessons from Koji," Kyle laughed as he raced towards the lake.
Later that evening, Koji sat on his bed double checking his holodeck program. He'd had a perfect score on his programming test in school, but this was the first big program he had tried on his own. His next step would be to have one of his opsolas approve the program. Even though his test scores were high enough to allow him to use his own programs, his age meant everything needed parental approval before he could log into the holodeck.
"Is it ready?" Duskin asked eagerly.
"It's ready little isthasy (brother). All Koji needs is an opsola to say it's okay even though I say it's okay, that means it's okay, but I guess being little means a big boy has to say it's okay." Kyle and Danny encouraged their sons to use English when talking to each other to help them improve their skills at a quicker pace. That didn't stop them from throwing some special words into their conversations, however. Also, Koji had decided that the rule didn't apply to any chats they had when they were in their beds after lights out.
School didn't happen in the dark; the lights were always on except sometimes when they were watching a vid, but because the screen was lit up that didn't count as being dark. Koji reasoned that school wasn't in the dark because it was hard to learn and study in the dark, so that should apply to improving their English as well, so when their bedroom was dark, they would use Darastixian since they already knew it and didn't have to study it.
The boys didn't have to wait long for Koji's program to be checked as Kyle entered the quarters just a few minutes later. Koji had hoped his Daddy Danny would be the one he would talk to since he wasn't as strict as Opsola Kyle. But he wanted to get his program approved as quickly as possible so he could talk to his Marsh friends about setting up a time they could all go to the holodeck.
Koji and Duskin walked out into the living quarters. "Hillo Daddy Kyle," Koji said.
"Hello, Koji and Duskin. A reminder to you, Koji, that the greeting is hello and not hillo," Kyle said.
"I thought we weren't supposed to say bad words."
"You're not, but 'hello' is a good word, not bad word."
"But it has the h-e-l-l word in it and that's a bad word."
"True, but in this case, hell is not a word it's a syllable—a part of the word. So, it's okay to use it then," Kyle explained patiently.
"You just said the bad word."
"I did, but I used as part of a lesson, so it's okay."
"It's all very confusing," Koji lamented.
"Just keep practicing and learning; it will all make perfect sense before you know it."
"I have something to show you and for you to, I think the word is, approve."
Kyle ruffled the young boy's hair. "That is the perfect word. See what a good job you're doing?"
Koji grinned with pride and handed the PADD with his program to Kyle. Kyle spent a few minutes looking it over, nodding as he read. "It looks really good, Koji. I see one possible error, but I'll need to look at this on the computer to be sure."
After a couple more minutes on the computer he called Koji over. "On this line here, I think you wanted a rack near the lounge chairs to hang your towels and instead you programmed in a post for hanging empty cups on." Kyle showed Koji where he had switched a nine and an eight. "Because what you wanted to put there made sense to the computer, it didn't call you on the mistake."
"Thanks for teaching me things, Opsola."
"It's what dads who love their sons do." Koji glowed when he heard the love word. "When are you going to invite your friends to your swim party?"
"I already told Ethan and Jay who are our Marsh friends, since we couldn't do nakey swimming when we were on Marsh. Koji thinks…I mean, I think the swimming pool I picked to use looks a lot like the one we swam in on Marsh, only this time we'll be nakey."
"So, you're going to do this with Ethan, Jay, Duskin, and yourself, right?"
Koji nodded. "And all the other boys under ten like we said in the meeting. I will invite Jonas and Jason, and Lars, Oliver, Tei, Lakinae, and Marasu"
"That sounds like a nice group of friends. You guys will have a lot of fun swimming. Plus, you put some fun things in your program," Kyle said.
"And don't forget there will be lots of food."
"Of course, how could I forget that?"
The discussion was interrupted by Danny entering the quarters. He and Kyle exchanged a quick kiss and he then turned to hug the two boys who came up to him expecting hugs. After the exchange of loving family greetings everyone sat down. Kyle quickly brought Danny up to date on how Koji had finished his holodeck program and who had been and would be invited to the party.
"Koji, you are amazing. Come here and get another hug." Koji beamed as he went for his hug, not needing to be asked twice.
"Koji, I have an idea," came a quiet voice from behind Koji after Danny finished giving his hug. Koji turned to face his little brother.
"Oh, I'm sorry Duskin. You get so quiet, and I get so noisy, and I don't talk to my isthasy Duskin that I love a lot when I should." Koji adored his little brother and always felt genuinely bad when he forgot Duskin was in a room with him. "Daddy Danny, you need to give Duskin another hug like you did me."
"I'd love to." Danny beckoned Duskin who virtually jumped into his arms for a big hug of his own.
"What was your idea?" Koji asked when Duskin sat down.
"You know who. We talked about it in bed."
"Oh, but that was just fun talk. There is no way we can do it, but it would be more funner than anything."
"More fun," Kyle corrected.
"Or just funner."
"Nope. It would be just fun. Funner is not a word." Kyle wished he had kept his mouth shut.
"You keep getting confusing. But Ali will tell me all about because I want Duskin to tell you who he meant."
"Marsh," Duskin said shyly.
"Marsh?" Danny and Kyle asked in unison.
"We were just talking, and we thought Marsh could be at the party because he could swim nakey too. But I said it can't be Marsh because he is on Marsh and not on the Sooloo." Koji went deep into thought for a few seconds. Kyle and Danny knew that look and wondered what their older son was about to come up with. "Can we try to get Marsh here? Please, can we? Marsh is our friend, and he can be everybody's friend at the party."
Kyle looked at Danny. "What do you think, Love?"
Danny shrugged. "It can't hurt to ask."
"Really? We can do it?" Koji shouted.
Kyle laid his hands on Koji's shoulders. "Calm down, Son," he said with quiet firmness. "What your Opsola Danny said was he will ask about it, just like you did."
"Who will you ask?"
"Captain Hal, to start. If he gives us permission, we ask Marsh if he wants to come, and if he says he does, then we ask his parents for permission. But before we do any of that, we need a plan."
"The plan is simple," Danny said. "We ask for the use of a shuttle to fly to Mars. We land at the spaceport, pick up Marsh, and fly him to the Sooloo."
"I think we'd be more likely to get Marsh's parents to agree to this if we invited them to accompany him," Kyle said.
"Good idea. What do you two think?" Danny asked Koji and Duskin.
"I think our opsolas are really smart opsolas," Koji said.
"And they're really nice," Duskin added.
"Flattery will get you everywhere, as my mom liked to say," Danny grinned.
"Then we have the start of the plan," Kyle said. "Danny and I will put the details into our plan and Koji and Duskin can put the details into their plan."
"And Captain Hal will look at what you did and say yes or no and our opsolas will look at what we did and yes or no," Koji said.
"It looks like we all know what to do. Now we just have to go do it."
Returning to Vegas after visiting Mama, Oliver started pestering his parents to go see his friends. Oliver finally secured permission to check in on his friends at Colonel Savage's house. Surprisingly, Dave and Hal arranged for a car to take him and Lars to the Savage home, allowing the boys to go on their own.
The whole way there, Oliver was very nervous. The constant expression of his worries was slowly making Lars wish he hadn't come.
They finally arrived at the house. Almost before the car had come to a full stop, Oliver was out the door. As he approached the front door, it swung open, and Matthew took Oliver into his arms, hugging him tightly.
"This place is great, Oli. I can't ever thank you enough for doing this."
Oliver blushed when Matthew planted his lips on Oliver's, giving him a very deep kiss. About that time, Darla came to the door. She smiled at the pair and, when they broke the kiss, she said, "I guess you're happy to see him, Matthew?"
Matthew just grinned and nodded his head.
Darla invited them in and took them to the living room. Once they'd taken a seat, a little boy came over. "You're Oli. I remember meeting you."
Oliver smiled and replied, "You're Stanley… and I remember meeting you too."
The little boy grinned and leapt into Oliver's lap and gave him a hug. He kissed Oliver's cheek and said, "Are you really my Daddy?"
Oliver laughed, remembering what Matthew had told him when he first met Stanley. "Well, sorta, I guess. Matthew thinks of you as our son, so… if you want me to be, I'll be your honorary papa."
Stanley had a puzzled look, "But you're nice, not ornery."
Oliver hugged the boy and said, "Not ornery, which means mean, but honorary which means that I'm acting in the role of your Daddy."
Darla then started explaining to Oliver all about what's happened since the boys arrived. She was very impressed that these boys, who had been street kids are very well behaved.
Matthew laughed, "Stanley has her wrapped around his little finger. She's totally loving taking care of him."
Darla then inquired, "How long were you going to stay with us?"
Oliver replied, "Well, our Dads said we should call when we were ready to be picked up."
That was when the door opened, and Colonel Javier Savage entered. "It's good to see you guys again. I have to admit, when you told me what you wanted to accomplish, Oliver, I was dubious as to whether it would work out. However, I am happy that my reservations are proving unfounded."
Matthew asked, "Would it be okay if Oliver and Lars stayed overnight?"
Javier gave Darla a look, "What do you think, Hun?"
Darla gave nothing away with her expression and when she didn't answer right away, Matthew started getting nervous. Finally, she replied, "If their parents okay it, I don't have a problem with it. If that's the case though, House of Pizza is going to get yet another large order." Then she looked at Oliver, "These boys know how to eat, and I assume you and your brother are the same."
Javier opened the comm unit and called Dave. "Good day, Colonel Savage, how can I be of service? I hope my boys are behaving."
"Commodore, they're being very good. The reason for the call is that we'd like to invite Lars and Oliver to spend the night. I can bring them back to your home on base in the morning when I go in to work."
Dave had expected this development, so much that he and Hal had already discussed the possibility. "If you're sure you want to increase your adolescent count for the night, we have no problem."
Oliver called out, "Thanks, Dad!"
Dave smiled and said, "You two better behave, we're trusting you."
Lars was the one to reply, "We will, I'll make sure of it."
Dave then wished Colonel Savage luck and ended the call.
"Does anyone have a special request for what kind of pizza they want?" Darla asked.
After getting the selections from the boys, she placed the order. Lars and a couple of the boys went to play games while Matthew grabbed Oliver's hand and took him to his room. Stanley stayed with Darla to help get things ready for dinner.
Oliver and Matthew sat on Matthew's bed. Matthew was telling Oliver about what he'd been doing since going to live with Javier. He told Oliver about taking the test for the academy and he got the results already… he passed and so did all the other boys.
They talked about what it was like on a starship and what Matthew could expect. Oliver told him that he was very proud that he and the others were taking this opportunity seriously.
They talked for about thirty minutes when Darla called everyone in for dinner.
The conversation at dinner was light, until Javier asked for everyone's attention. "I want to tell you all that I am very happy with how things are going. Darla and I have been talking, and, if you guys are agreeable, we'd like to adopt all of you."
There was instantaneous silence after Javier said those words. At first, he was concerned, but then he looked at Matthew and the other 'street-kids,' and he saw what he thought might be tears in a few eyes. As the de facto leader of the group, Matthew spoke, "First off, thank you, Colonel Savage, and Darla. When I heard that Oliver got adopted, I was happy for him, but sad that I was still on the streets. When he came back and worked it out for us to come here, we spoke about you adopting Stanley and me, but we never expected anything like this. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we'd be honored to be adopted by you."
The mood after dinner was festive. The former street kids finally found a place that they felt safe, and moreover, a place they wanted to stay at. The idea of going to the Academy was something none of them had expected, but when they thought about it, they were getting more and more excited as the days went on.
A couple of hours after dinner, Darla and Javier said they were going to bed, they asked the boys to keep the noise down and not to stay up too late. Javier reminded Oliver and Lars that they would have to leave at 0800 the following morning.
The group of boys sat and talked for about thirty minutes before deciding to go to bed themselves. Ricky, one of the street boys took Lars by the hand and said, "I'd like it if you slept with me."
Lars took a look at his brother who said, "Have a good night."
Matthew then took Oliver by the hand and led him to his own bedroom. Once the door was closed, Matthew took Oliver into his arms and gave him a loving hug, repeating the deep kiss on Oliver's arrival. When they broke the kiss, Matthew started to undress Oliver.
"Matthew… I'm not sure I should do this. I have a boyfriend and I don't want to cheat on him."
Matthew thought for a moment before responding, "Does he know about me? That we were once lovers?"
Oliver nodded his head and Matthew continued, "He also knows you're coming to visit me, right?"
Again, Oliver nodded his head.
Matthew said he didn't think there would be a problem, but if Oli felt that strongly, they'd limit themselves to hugging, cuddling, and kissing.
This was something Oliver felt that Drake wouldn't be upset if that was all that happened.
Oliver and Matthew woke up and decided to shower. Of course, being conscientious young men, they shared the shower for the purpose of conserving water… (at least that's what they told themselves.)
After showering and dressing, the group went out to the dining room for breakfast. Since they had guests, Darla made a large breakfast of scrambled eggs, hash browns, and, with some help from her husband, had secured a couple of pounds of Shimmy bacon.
Matthew commenting after tasting his first bite of the bacon, "This doesn't taste like regular bacon... it tastes..." he chewed a bit more, "it tastes out of this world."
Oliver and Lars laughed, having recognized the taste. Oliver, then looked at Matthew and commented, "You have no idea."
Breakfast consumed, Oliver and Lars said goodbye to the group, each giving their respective bed partners some serious lip-locks and went to Javier's car.
As they drove, Oliver and Lars thanked Javier and asked him to thank Darla again. Javier smiled and said, "You guys are welcome any time you get permission to come. I will tell you that it sounded like both of you had some fun last night."
Both Lars and Oliver's faces took on a bright shade of red from embarrassment. Javier laughed once again, "Don't worry, guys… I was young once too. I'm just happy you guys had a good time."
Twenty minutes later, Javier pulled up in front of Dave and Hal's base home. The boys thanked Javier again as Dave and Hal came out to meet them.
"I see you're still alive and it looks like your hair is still on your head," Dave joked.
Javier told them that the boys had been well behaved, and they were welcome to come back, either one or both of them whenever it was convenient.
After Javier left, Dave and Hal led their boys inside. "We want you two to know that we are proud of you. We trusted you to behave and you did. Next time, we will be more easily convinced to let you two go alone."
Oliver hugged his parents and said, "I need to go call Drake. Is that okay?"
Dave put his arm over his son's shoulder and said, "It makes me happy that you want to tell him about anything that may have happened while you were visiting, I am sure they will appreciate your honesty."
Oliver blushed again and thanked them for being such cool parents. Lars then followed Oliver into the house and said he was going to call Jonas while Oliver called Drake.
Both boys told their respective boyfriends what had happened the night before, both having actually gone further than they'd expected. Both Jonas and Drake were perfectly fine with the fact that they had done what they had, even commenting that it was not much different than when they did group stuff. And they were pleased that they were told immediately, not being kept in the dark.
When Hal received a call from Kyle and Danny asking to meet, he flew up to the Sooloo. Dave and the boys would be flying up later.
The Robinson family entered the Captain's ready room together. At first Kyle felt that he and Danny should meet with Hal and take care of business quickly and efficiently. But as he thought about it, he realized that the reason for the meeting was because bringing Marsh to Koji's party was an idea Koji and Duskin had come up with together. As a result, he told Hal that since the meeting concerned the entire family, then the entire family should be there. To Kyle's relief, Hal readily agreed.
Hal was sitting at his desk when the Robinsons entered. He had set four chairs in front of the desk and indicated that everyone should sit down.
"It's nice to see the Sooloo branch of the Robinson family all together," Hal remarked. "What brings the four of you to a meeting with your honorable captain?"
Kyle and Danny had told their sons that to allow the meeting to proceed quicker they would do most the talking. Koji had been about to protest when Kyle shushed him by promising he would be given an opportunity to speak and that he and Duskin could have their say before Hal made a decision.
Kyle spoke for the group. "As you know, Koji and Duskin are planning a swimming party for the boys on the ship who are under ten years old. Koji has used the skills he learned from Ali in school to create his own holodeck program, and he has done a fine job. I sent you a copy of the program."
"Which I have seen." The Captain looked straight at Koji. "I have to say that you did a fine job young man. I can see why your dads are proud of you."
Koji blushed with embarrassment before giving Hal a shy "Thank you."
"The point of the meeting is that Koji made a friend during our stay on Mars. His name, interestingly, is Marsh," Kyle informed. "Koji would like to say a couple of words about his new friend Marsh."
After being revved up to talk, Koji found himself in a position he wasn't used to—which was having trouble getting the words out. But after a couple of hems and haws he was able to say something. "Marsh lives on Marsh, and we met each other at the big Olympus mountain in the big tower and we became really good friends really fast, and I want him to come to my party." Koji said what he had to say as fast as he could while he could talk.
Hal smiled and nodded. "I take it he was visiting Mars and you want to have him hop a shuttle from Earth and back."
Koji shook his head. "Marsh lives on Marsh."
Hal was a bit confused by the two Marshes, but he was able to get the gist when he figured out that one Marsh was the boy's name and the other was Koji's name for Mars. "It's going to be just a bit difficult for you friend to hop a shuttle from Mars to here."
Kyle gave Koji the signal that they had agreed on that he or Danny would take over. "Our plan is to first see if Marsh wants to attend the party, and if so, then ask his parents for their permission."
"One thing we will suggest to his parents is that one or both of them can ride with us," Danny added.
"After the party, Marsh and his parents can stay on the Sooloo and we'll drop them off on Mars on our way out of the Solar System," Kyle finished. He was pleased that the family was doing a good job of working together. He hoped that Duskin might want to say something before they finished but understood that because of his innate shyness he might just sit and listen. He could see that Duskin was alert and interested in what was being said and was pleased that he and Koji were holding hands.
"And what about the cost of running this operation?" Hal inquired.
"I talked to the master of budgets, and he said it won't cost much at all," Danny replied.
"By master of budgets, you must mean the all-knowing Commander Steve Boyer."
"You got it. He said that since I am getting paid anyway the cost of the three hours or so the trip will take won't be much at all—just the fuel use, and the drive of the Mars won't be using a lot and what it does use will be charged to the Sooloo's crew entertainment budget. The only costly item would be the berthing fee on Mars. Since the trip is being charged to crew entertainment, Steve says that makes it an official trip and we can use the space fleet hanger at the spaceport which cost us nothing. He will reserve the space we need once we set a time to pick up Marsh."
"I'm impressed," Hal said. "You guys have thought of everything. I assume you haven't contacted Marsh or his parents yet."
"Not until you give us permission for the um…operation," Kyle said.
"I want to get a second opinion from Dave to make sure I'm on solid ground here, but my feeling is this should be a go."
"Fantastic." "Awesome." "Yipeeeeee" "Yipeeeeeeeee." Kyle, Danny, Koji, and Duskin shouted out their reactions at the same time.
"It helps that I know Commodore Bowman very well," Hal grinned. "By the way, what kind of work do his parents do on Mars?"
"Marsh's father is the Chief Administrator of the Earth Federation Colonial Administration on Mars," Kyle answered.
"That should seal the deal with Dave," Hal said as he left to call Dave in private. He was back in less than five minutes. "You're good to go. I want a complete itinerary no later than twenty-four hours before you leave and your passenger list before leaving the Sooloo and before you lift off from Mars. Also, Dave reminded me that interplanetary shuttle flight requires two qualified pilots on the shuttle. Technically you are flying from starship to planet and back to starship but because we are in orbit around Earth this will be considered a planet-to-planet flight."
"Danny and I thought it was planet to planet, so we planned on me going. Either way, I planned on going. Koji and Duskin will be the first on our passenger list."
Hal dismissed the family, complimenting them again on their job of planning and their great presentation. Kyle and Danny knew that their next task was to see if Marsh would even be able to come.
William Robinson was in his quarters after the reunion thinking about his life. Even though he enjoyed the gathering immensely, he couldn't get over his feeling that it seemed like everyone had some significant person in their life. He was happy that Miranda found someone like Bill Buckner. William truly felt that he was a quality person, and Miranda deserved someone like him in her life. He had come to terms after a decade in captivity that he was sure his wife, or former wife, would have moved on. He honestly hoped she had, at least.
It had been nearly two weeks after the reunion, and William began thinking it was time he started looking for someone for himself.
This posed a conundrum. He was 36 years old when they left Earth on their voyage. But being held on that planet for 25 years made him chronologically 61. Add to that the fact that he hadn't aged, at least noticeably, left him still feeling like a fairly young man of 36. Anyone his actual age would feel he was too young. But once a woman of his apparent age found out what had happened could feel he was too old for them.
He pondered these facts for a time when he heard the chime indicating an incoming communication. He looked at the ID, he was surprised when he saw it was Admiral Roberts.
"Good evening, Admiral. To what do I owe the pleasure of your call?"
There was a momentary silence before April responded. "This isn't an official call, please call me April."
That response piqued William's interest. "Then call me William." He realized that her response hadn't given the reason for the call but decided to wait for her to tell him in her own time.
"William, this may seem odd, but I heard about your reunion with your former wife, and I wanted to make sure you were okay."
"Thanks for your concern, it was actually something I'd been thinking about before you called."
"Would you like to join me for dinner tonight?"
This was the last thing he'd expected, but he was hungry… "I think that would be great. Where and when should we meet up?"
"We'll… if you can be ready in a half hour, I could pick you up."
"I'll be ready. See you soon."
April sounded a little flustered as she replied, "Great, it's a date." The line disconnected at that point as April ended the call.
Her last statement surprised him. He thought, "Is she coming on to me or am I misconstruing her comment?"
William then thought of April as she was when he left. A gangly teenaged girl. Would it be right for them to become more than colleagues? He decided to wait and see what she was thinking.
He spent the time before she arrived getting ready.
After comparing the time on the Sooloo with the time in Mars City, Kyle and Danny decided that the best time to call would be in another hour or so. There was a difference of two hours and waiting to make the call would make it more likely that the family would be home.
Kyle made the call using the Sooloo's faster than light communications system. A lady, who Kyle assumed was Marsh's mother answered the call. She was surprised to see the caller ID read SS Sooloo.
"This is Krista Dawkins." She felt a stab of trepidation at getting a call from a starship.
"Hello, Mrs. Dawkins. This is Kyle Robinson from the Sooloo. We met a few days ago."
"Yes, I remember you. You're Koji's dad. Marsh loved your family." Kyle had the communicator on speaker, and he could see Duskin's disappointment at not having his name mentioned with Koji's. He was about to say something when Krista said, "And we loved his little brother, too. He was such a cute young boy." Duskin broke out in a wide grin. "He was such a quiet little boy that his name escapes me. It was Dusty or something close to that, I believe."
"Duskin," Kyle corrected.
"Yes. Sorry for the memory lapse. To what do we owe this call?"
"Koji is having a holodeck swimming party on Friday. He would love to have Marsh attend the party and introduce him to his friends on the Sooloo."
"I don't see how that's possible. You would have to leave tonight to get the round trip between planets in."
"We will be using one of our shuttles equipped with a new type of engine. It can make the trip in as little as thirty minutes, although it will be more like thirty-five from the way the planets are aligned. So, a round trip would be just over an hour."
"I've never heard of such a thing. Let me have you talk to my husband." She handed the comm over to her husband Sean.
Sean introduced himself, then listened to what Kyle had to say. He was familiar with the Explorer program and had heard rumors about the Explorer ships being retrofitted with the ultra-fast engines and was pleased to learn those rumors were true, although judging by the shuttle's schedule on its visit he was reasonably certain that the shuttle had made the journey from Earth much faster than any standard engine could have done it.
"So, an hour roundtrip, you say," Sean said.
"And then you'll repeat the journey after the party, correct?"
"No, sir." Kyle went on to explain about the plan to drop Marsh off at Mars on Monday when the Sooloo left orbit to begin its next mission. "And before you ask, both you and Marsh's mother are on our approved passenger list, and we'd like for you to take the journey with Marsh."
"Who will pilot the shuttle?"
"My husband Danny will. He's the Sooloo's chief pilot and is an ace pilot."
"Unfortunately, I will not be able to take that journey. The new Secretary of the Department of Colonial Affairs will be arriving Saturday for a weeklong inspection tour, and I will, of course, be the host. But Marsh's mother will be more than happy to enjoy the ride, right dear?"
"I would not let Marsh go without my being able to accompany him, so count me in."
"We do have one more question," Kyle said.
"Does Marsh want to go. It certainly is not going to happen without him."
Kyle could hear Marsh's father chuckle in the background. "Marsh, we need you to come talk on the comm," he called out.
When Kyle told Marsh what he had in mind, it took Marsh all of five seconds to scream his answer. He sounded like he was ready to go that instant.
"Well, I guess that's decided," Kyle stated. "Either Danny or I will contact you tomorrow about scheduling the pickup. It will have to be in the morning so we can get back to the Sooloo well before lunch. The party is scheduled to start at 1100."
"Anything should work from our end," Krista said. "We'll look forward to talking with you tomorrow."
The details would be worked out the next day and the pickup would be the day after. All that was really left to do was fly the Mars to Mars and back to pick up Marsh and his mother.
William and April rode in her official car to the restaurant. When they arrived, William thought it odd that they were at the most renowned restaurant in town if you wanted to have a romantic dinner. He started thinking he had not, in fact, misconstrued her comment.
The two placed their orders and, after the waiter left, April looked at William and took his hand into her own. William was too shocked to resist.
"William, I know how odd it must be to come back to Earth after all that time and basically be physically the same age as when you left."
William was about to respond when April continued.
"I know I was only 15 when you left, but…" April blushed as she continued, "but, I had a major teenage crush on you; you were way too old for me, and…"
William interrupted her at that point. "I was married with a young son. However, that has changed. I no longer have a wife, and my young son looks about my age, even a little older and is an Admiral, just like you."
"Don't forget, you are a Vice Admiral too. We're the same rank so…" April let that comment go unfinished.
William was quiet for a few minutes while April thought she'd made a grade-A ass of herself. She was relieved when William replied, "This is something that feels a bit odd, but in all honesty, I don't think I could find anyone I'm more attracted to if I tried. Why don't we date for some time and discuss where the relationship goes from that point."
April was happy with his response and the two shared a nice dinner together. When April dropped William off at his quarters, she was surprised when he gave her a kiss. It was a kiss she had heard about where fireworks were going off in her head. She was truly hoping the relationship went well. The two said good night, but not before William invited her out for another date. He too was feeling very positive about where it may lead.
Jordan’s lunch had just been delivered and with it came Dr. Black. "Commander Rivers, how's the meatloaf and asparagus?"
Jordan finished the bite he had just taken before answering. "It's very good. The asparagus taste like it was fresh, and the meatloaf surprisingly tastes like Randy's."
"That might be because he's the one who made it. He's been very kind to help the hospital kitchen staff. I never knew someone so young could cook as well as he does."
"So, what's the word?" Jordan inquired.
"The good news is you are 100% back to normal."
"And the bad news?"
"That will be your last meal in the hospital. Once you finish, you will be released."
Jordan chuckled, "Then we may need to kidnap your new cook and put him back on the Sooloo."
"Oh no…" Dr. Black feigned nervousness, "then we'll be going back to great but not stupendous meals." He and Jordan laughed together.
Admiral William Robinson opened his eyes. He felt better than he had in at least a decade, maybe longer. He turned his head to see April Roberts still asleep, her nude upper half on display. William thought back to the night of lovemaking the two had experienced together after their second date. William wasn't surprised when he realized how much he missed sex. Miranda had been a great partner in bed, but maybe because it had been so long, William thought that the previous night with April was better than any sex he'd shared with his former wife.
As he lay there daydreaming about her, April awoke, rolled over onto her side and kissed William's chest. "Good morning, Admiral Stud." She finished the comment with a silly giggle.
William replied, "Good Morning, but if you keep doing that, we'll never get out of bed. April laughed when she noticed the tent in the covers as her good morning greeting caused a reaction in the man next to her.
"I wouldn't mind if we didn't, but I guess we should shower together and get ready to go to work."
William looked at her and quietly, almost as if he was afraid of the reply, inquired, "Do you think we should tell anyone?"
She laughed when she replied, "Just one look at us, and everyone will know."
The pair showered together, limiting the extracurricular activities to a minimum. They then, after drying each other, got dressed and April called for her car to take them to their office.
William entered his office to find his son, Greg, sitting in a guest chair, waiting for him. "Just one look at you tells me you had a great night. Who's the lucky girl… or boy?"
William actually blushed before responding, "Well, I hate to go against a new trend in the family, but she is a 'she.' April…"
Greg smiled, "April? As in Admiral April Roberts?"
William was puzzled, "Is that a problem?"
"Hell no. I'm happy for you, and I'm happy for her. As long as you're both happy about it. Are you two thinking it's going to be a long-term thing?"
"We've discussed it. We would both love it if that's how it happens, but we're going to take things as they come. Let the chips fall as they may."
Greg chuckled, "Kyle is going to flip."
William was about to object about telling his grandson, but realized, everyone would know soon enough. Kyle deserved to hear it from William, directly."
Danny slowed the shuttle Mars as it approached the planet Mars. It was time for him to call Mars City Space Traffic Control.
"Explorer shuttle Sierra-Lima-X-ray-zero-three-one to Mars City spaceport control," Danny announced into his microphone.
Mars City control copied, and Danny requested permission to land at the Space Fleet terminal.
"You have Foxtrot-Mike-Lima-one-one-seven (Ford Mining Ltd.) in line ahead of you zero-three-one. You're instructed to move to Mars orbit Alpha 2 until given clearance to land."
"Copy that Mars City. Moving into orbit Alpha 2 until given clearance to land."
Danny followed the guidance signal being broadcast by traffic control into the assigned orbit. Ten minutes later he was given clearance to land and once again picked up a guidance signal to follow his landing course. Danny expertly brought the Mars down to an expertly executed vertical landing on the Space Fleet terminal tarmac. The traffic controller and the commander of the terminal were both amazed at the skill displayed by a pilot who was so young his voice was just starting to break.
Koji and Duskin looked out of two of the ports as Danny shut down the shuttle's engine. "There they are!" Koji shouted as he saw Marsh coming out of the terminal doors with his mother and father. Danny lowered the stairs and Kyle started down to the tarmac followed by his two sons.
As soon as they touched ground Koji and Duskin ran to Marsh and started dancing around him, causing the Martian boy to break out into delighted laughter.
"It looks like the party is starting early," Marsh's father, Sean Dawkins, chuckled.
"It started for Koji and Duskin the second they learned Marsh could come to it," Kyle commented.
Danny came down the stairs, greeted Sean and Krista and then stepped in front of Koji and Duskin to give Marsh a hug. "You guys can board the shuttle with Kyle and I'll go into the terminal and file my flight plan with Space Fleet," Danny stated.
Kyle took Krista and Marsh's bags and set them on the cargo lift, which Danny had lowered along with the stairs. Kyle pushed a button on the control and the lift raised the bags into the shuttle. Kyle then led the group up the stairs and into the shuttle.
"This little craft has quite an efficient design. I'm impressed. And I was impressed by the landing. I've seen enough of them to know they aren't always that smooth," Sean declared.
Koji and Duskin guided Marsh to his seat, which was next to a port, and told him the rules he had to follow. "You're not being picked on because Duskin and I, we have to follow the same rules."
"I'm still not sure I feel right about putting the safety of my son and me in the hand of an inexperienced boy," Krista said. "No offense."
"None taken," Kyle averred. He understood the importance of being polite even when he didn't like what was being said. "Let me assure you though, that Danny is an ace pilot. He's certified by the Space Academy as a pilot instructor and is the commander of the pilots on the Sooloo. You couldn't find a better pilot of any age."
Before Krista could say anything, Sean stepped into the conversation. "So far the boys haven't led us down. I am familiar enough with Space Fleet to know they wouldn't trust a spacecraft like this to someone they didn't feel was more than competent. Remember, dear, that Danny piloted the shuttle to Mars just a few days ago and got everyone here safely from Earth and back again." He gave his wife a hug and a quick kiss on her cheek. "Trust the boys—they're good at what they do."
"I know." She looked at Kyle. "I apologize for my attitude; I just wanted to be absolutely sure my boy was safe."
"Trust me, he is," Sean replied. "Right Kyle?"
"Exactly," Kyle grinned.
"And my husband knows and understands the system," Krista said. "I'm going to sit back and enjoy the trip. No matter how nervous I am," she grinned at her husband.
Danny came on board and announced that his flight plan had been accepted. "I'm going to call traffic control and see if we can get cleared to launch in thirty minutes."
"I guess I'd better leave," Sean said. "If you get cleared for that time, I'll have just enough time to watch the launch." He gave Krista a very loving kiss, gave Koji and Duskin hugs, and finished by giving Marsh a hug and a kiss on his forehead.
After securing the Mars, Danny contacted traffic control who told him he was on the docket to launch at the requested time. Danny and Kyle put the Mars through a pre-launch check and were ready to launch. The tower gave them clearance for a horizonal launch, which Danny had requested.
The Mars lifted off the ground enough to taxi to the end of the runway and made a U-turn. Upon getting final clearance, Danny opened up the engine and the Mars surged ahead, throwing the heads of the five boys and one woman against their seat backs. The shuttle lifted off the runway and when it reached optimum speed, Danny hit the button for full launch mode, causing the Mars to turn straight up toward space. In what seemed like just minutes later the shuttle was in space and speeding toward Earth and its meeting with the Sooloo.
Marsh spent the half-hour trip staring out of the port, even though at the speed the Mars was traveling there wasn't much to see expect passing colored lights. But when they approached Earth, it slowed, and Marsh could see the beautiful homeland of humanity as something other than a light in the sky for the first time. When Krista saw the look on her son's face, she knew she had made the right decision to allow her son to attend Koji's party. No matter how much fun he had at the party, the look on his face would never match what she saw when her son saw Earth fill his viewport.
As the shuttle approached the Sooloo the smile remained on Marsh's face as the Mars made its way into the shuttle bay and into the arrival berth. It was an hour before party time, which left plenty of time to show Krista her quarters and Kyle and Danny's quarters. Marsh would be rooming with Koji and Duskin. A temporary bed had been wheeled into the room. Kyle and Danny agreed that there was plenty of room on their sons' bed to sleep three and wondered how long it would take for Marsh to change beds.
But for now, it was time to head for the holodeck so Koji could load his program in finish his preparations for the party.
Tei was waiting outside of Holodeck 2A when Koji arrived with Duskin and Marsh. Koji had arranged for Tei to meet him and help with the setup. Koji then placed his palm on the screen next to the door. As soon as it was read the door unlocked and the four boys entered the empty holodeck.
Marsh looked around the dimly lit room wondering what Koji had programmed. Koji had been intentionally vague about what he had created because he wanted Marsh to be surprised. Marsh wouldn't be the only one to be surprised. In a sense, Koji was going to be surprised as well. He had seen the results on a computer screen, which was different than seeing it fully produced on the holodeck. He had begged for a dry run, but his Opsola Kyle had told him that what he had created would work just fine.
"What works on the computer will work just fine on the holodeck," Kyle assured him. What Kyle didn't tell him was that he had run the final copy on the holodeck the day before and it was, indeed, perfect. Kyle was proud of his older son, who had worked hard and had done a marvelous job on his program.
The boys entered the control room and Koji entered his program into the computer. A couple of lights flashed, the screen lit up saying "Program Running" and the lights in the holodeck came up. They watched in wonder as Koji's program came together in front of them. Within minutes a computer voice said, "Program completed," and they saw Koji's big swimming pool, the big patio with chairs and a big picnic table, and the meadow with hideaways located behind bushes and small trees.
"Great, great, great," Tei said quickly. He gave Koji a big hug and shouted, "GREAT!" with gusto.
Koji grinned and then announced to the three other boys that it was time to get "nakey!" He wanted the stage to be set when his invited friends started to arrive. He didn't need to repeat the announcement as he, Duskin, and Tei were stripped before Marsh could react. He knew the plan was to skinny dip, but he wasn't prepared for Koji to ask them to strip before everyone arrived.
"Aren't you going to get nakey?" Koji asked him. Marsh nodded slightly but made no effort to start undressing. "That's okay, you don't have to do it."
Marsh wanted to get naked with his new friends, he just needed to get his mind set. "I want to," he finally said and got naked as quickly as the other three had.
He spun around in a circle. "You like?" He grinned.
Koji breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Marsh's enthusiasm. He was worried that Marsh might ended up backing out of the naked fun.
"Everybody has a box over there on the other side of the tables," Koji informed. "It's got your name on it and you can put your clothes in it."
"Wow, you've thought of everything," Tei declared with an element of pride. He turned and walked to his box where he placed his clothes.
The outer door of holodeck opened, and Kyle and Danny walked in. Knowing how Koji operated they weren't surprised to see the four boys were already naked.
"I thought you weren't going to be here watching us," Koji questioned.
"We're not, but we do want to see what your program looks like in live 3D and the tell you to have a great time," Kyle responded.
"Your program looks awesome," Danny said. "You did a great job."
"Opsola Kyle helped me with a couple of things," Koji responded modestly.
"But you did ninety-nine percent of the work," Kyle reminded him. "It's about time for the guests to start arriving, so we'd better get going. You guys make it a great party." Kyle and Danny started for the door when Koji stopped them.
"Will Jinzo be here?"
"He'll be in the control booth and totally out of your way." Ship's regulations required an adult, or an older student, be on the holodeck anytime it was in use. Koji was happy it would be Jinzo the android who probably wouldn't care that they were running around nakey and playing around with each other.
Jinzo entered the holodeck along with Jason, Jonas, Lars, and Oliver. Jinzo greeted Kyle and Danny, acknowledged Koji, and went behind the hedge that hid the door to the control booth. Kyle and Danny exited through the main door.
As soon as they saw the already naked boys, the four newcomers stripped off their clothes. After they placed their clothes in their bins they were introduced to Marsh, who they thought was mega-cute. Jay and Ethan were the next to arrive. Since they had met Marsh on Mars, they treated each other like old friends.
All of the boys except for Duskin, Marsh, Tei, and Koji made their way into the pool. Dunking, wrestling, grabbing, and groping soon became accompanied by screams and laughter got the party off to a spirited start.
Duskin started getting antsy when he noted who hadn't arrived. Even though it had been less than a couple of minutes, Duskin felt like it had been hours. He screeched when Lakinae and Marasu entered the holodeck. He ran up to Marasu and the two good friends exchanged a long, hard hug. After Marasu stripped of his clothes they exchanged another one, this time with both of them naked.
Screeching with laughter, Jonas and Jason splashed the two boys as they hugged. Koji, who was splashed as well, finally introduced Lakinae and Marasu to Marsh and then the entire group joined the fracas in the pool.
A half our after the start of the party, Randy and two of his assistants arrived with a food cart. The three laid out a feast on the serving table Koji had programmed in. One of the changes Kyle had suggested to Koji was that he should move the serving table a much farther distance from the pool. Seeing the water being splashed out of the pool by jumping, diving, and wrestling boys, Koji was happy he had listened and made the changes.
The boys were soon called to lunch. They took towels off the towel racks, dried off and got in line for a lunch of shimmy burgers, French fries, and baked beans, with a dessert of chocolate cake, and ice-cold lemonade to drink. Koji and Duskin had thought up the menu, which Randy said it sounded like a perfect party menu.
Nobody commented on the fact that Jason, Lars, and Tei all had erections when they climbed out of the pool. None of the three were embarrassed by it—it wasn't like they all hadn't seen each other sporting erections at some time or another. Marsh felt uncomfortable about it at first, but once he saw nobody was bothered by them, he didn't feel badly about giving them long looks.
As lunch progressed some boy cocks went up, some went down, some stayed flaccid, while Jason's and Tei's remained hard the entire meal.
After lunch the boys relaxed on the warm pool patio. Marsh soon noticed Duskin and Marasu disappear behind a distant bush and Koji and Tei slip into a stand of small trees.
"Where are they going?" he asked Oliver, who was the boy nearest to him.
"They're going to have some boy fun," Oliver answered.
Marsh thought about it for a moment and then said, "You mean, like naked fun, fun, fun?"
"I think so. But just to make sure Lars and Jonas can take you back behind that bush and show you." Oliver pointed to a bush at the other end of the pool from where the other boys had gone.
Marsh was certain he knew what was going on, but he wasn't sure if he wanted to do it. But then he thought of overhearing some of the older boys in the locker room talk about fun things that were kind of like sex things. "Okay," he responded, figuring that said all that needed to be said.
And so, the young boy from Mars learned some of the things boys can do together when they're naked from two boys on a starship. The two main things he learned were that what they did felt really good and that he wanted to do it again—and by again he meant doing it a lot of times. He assumed everyone else who had disappeared were doing similar things.
When he returned to the pool, he saw that Jason and Jay had disappeared somewhere while Duskin and Marasu were in the pool. He jumped into the pool to join them. However, Lars and Jonas went back to the bush where they had given Marsh his boy fun lessons.
All too soon, as far as most of the boys were concerned, Koji's time on the holodeck had run out. A warning buzzer sounded, indicating the program would shut down in 20 minutes. Boys rose from their lounge chairs, climbed out of the pool, or in the case of Marsh and the twins, came out from behind a hedge sporting satisfied grins. Marsh was able to a have a close look at all of the Jason and Jonas and noted that they looked close to identical everywhere, including their privates. The only real difference was the color of their hair. Marsh now knew what the boys in the locker room and at school were talking about and couldn't wait to become a part of it.
Jinzo came out of the control booth to help supervise the cleanup. Since Randy and his cook's assistants had cleared out the food cart a little over a half hour before, all the boys had to do was make sure all of their clothes were accounted for—in other words, they were fully dressed. When a second warning sounded the boys knew they had had to be out within the next ten minutes. The boys exited the holodeck before the five-minute warning sounded. They all thanked Koji for an awesome party and for creating a great holodeck program and hoped they could do it again sometime.
"It was way better than a school nakey swim," Oliver stated, "because the big boys weren't around to boss us around and take up all of the room." Everyone knew that even though Oliver was exaggerating the effects of the older boys, he still made a good point.
Marsh went with Koji and Duskin to their quarters where he would be spending the next three nights on a cot set up in their room. What he didn't realize was that he would be spending only ten minutes on the cot and the rest in bed with Koji and Duskin where he received more lessons on boy fun.
Marsh, Koji, and Duskin dressed for dinner. Marsh had packed lightly for the trip and was convinced that what he had in his suitcase was all he needed for two days on the starship. His mother disagreed, however, and added one of his best shirts and his dress pants to the suitcase. Marsh knew it would be a waste of breath to object, so he docilly accepted the addition.
As he watched Koji and Marsh dress for dinner, he could see they were donning more than their regular clothes and pulled his good clothes out of his suitcase. He silently thanked his mother for packing what he didn't want, or he could have looked shabby compared to his friends.
"Do you always dress like that for dinner?" Marsh asked.
"No. We usually wear regular stuff," Koji answered. "But, Captain Hal said today and Sunday were special dinner days, but I don't remember why."
"He said it was something about leaving Earth and going back in space," Duskin reminded his brother.
When they went out into the living quarters, they saw Kyle in his dress uniform. Danny stepped out of his room and was also in dress uniform.
"We leave Earth lots of times. I don't understand getting dressed," Koji complained.
"I think Hal wanted an excuse to do something different," Kyle suggested. "He gets that way sometimes. Steve told me a few days ago he thought Hal needed to come up with an excuse for us to wear our dress uniforms to make sure they still fit since we're all growing boys."
"Yours both fit," Marsh observed.
"We both tried ours on once we found out what Hal was conspiring to do. Danny had to get a new uniform replicated." Kyle looked at Marsh and grinned. "I'm glad you packed some nice clothes."
"My mom did that." Kyle didn't tell him that he had suggested that Marsh's mom pack a set of dressy clothes.
Their trip to the senior officers' mess included a stop at the guest quarters where Krista Dawkins was staying. She took one look at her son and knew she had done an outstanding job of picking his wardrobe. "You look very handsome, Marsh." She gave him a quick hug.
"I think he looks really uyoz," Koji offered.
"Very what?" Marsh and Krista asked together.
"Uyoz. It means handsome in Darastixian."
"Ahh," Krista nodded.
"I like it," Marsh grinned. "Uyoz. That's me."
The group entered the officers' dining room and where Randy greeted them and took them to the table, he'd had put together for six people. The executive chef had stepped up to serve his friends.
Randy introduced himself to Krista. He had already met Marsh on the holodeck. "You're on your own after this meal," he told them. By that, he meant they would have a server, but not the special executive treatment. "I recommend the shimmy stew," Randy told them as they perused their menus.
"What is shimmy?" Krista asked.
Randy had anticipated the question and told her the Darastixian skunk story. He expected Krista to be horrified, forgetting that she lived in the Mars colony and was used to interesting foods coming from other colonies settled in the galaxy. "I think I remember Martha telling me about that delicacy," she said. "She told me it was delicious." She ordered the stew. Martha was her sister, and Marsh's aunt.
When Marsh saw that Kyle, Koji, and Duskin had also ordered the stew, he did as well. Danny, who was getting tired of shimmy, ordered spaghetti with pork meatballs and sauce. Marsh was surprised at to how good the stew was. Krista, who thought highly of Martha's opinions on the culinary arts, knew she had to get the recipe from Randy and find out which of the Mars City food markets might carry shimmy.
"Did you have fun?" Krista asked her son as the group dug into their supper.
"Loads of fun", Marsh answered. "I swam, floated on an air mattress, made friends and learned some new things from my new friends."
"Oh? What kind of new things?"
Koji, who had been eavesdropping, wondered how Marsh was going to answer that question. Koji was certain that Marsh meant what he had learned about feeling really good when you're naked with your friends.
"Like what Koji calls nakey swimming." Koji felt himself flush with embarrassment. He wondered how Marsh's mother would react. He couldn't believe that Marsh had just told his mother. Thinking the worst, Koji thought this would be the end of his being friends with Marsh.
"But you have done it with your friends at home," Krista said as if being skinny dipping with a group of new friends was nothing out of the ordinary. What Koji didn't know was that Marsh's mother and father were aware of the occasional skinny dips in the pool at the club they belonged to. His father had assured his mother that the skinny dips was a boy thing, and she should accept it as harmless fun.
"Yeah, I know, but when we do it at the pool, we don't have a beach to lay on and wade from. And nobody was embarrassed by it. When I said that some guys got embarrassed at home sometimes, they said they do it all the time and it's fun and nothing to be embarrassed about. I gotta tell everybody about it, right Koji?"
"Yeah, right," Koji said as he went through a rare moment of not knowing what to say. As the conversation moved on to a different subject, Koji was relieved that Marsh didn't talk about what he learned behind the hedge.
When the Robinsons dropped Krista off at her guest quarters, she gave Koji a hug. "Thank you for being a good friend to Marsh. I can see that he is having the time of his life."
Marsh's good time continued that night as Koji and Duskin reviewed what Marsh had been taught about feeling good with other naked boys. Marsh couldn't believe how lucky he was.
The next day Marsh and Krista learned new things together as they received a full tour of the Sooloo. Kyle and Steve Boyer conducted the tour, with various bits and pieces thrown in by Koji, Duskin, Tei and the twins. Tei, Jonas and Jason had asked to accompany the tour the day before after learning about it. Koji was more than happy to have them come along and Kyle approved as soon as he was asked.
The tour covered the ship from the shuttle bay, to engineering, the medical department, the bridge, the various lounges and mess halls, as well as Krista's favorite part, the kitchen area.
Duskin spent the night with Marasu. Koji taught Marsh that two boys could have as much, or more fun that felt good, as a group of boys. The friendship of Koji and Marsh had become more solid almost every hour since they had met at Olympus Mons, and their first night alone together cemented that friendship.
On Sunday, Koji and his friends, along with Kyle, Danny, Steve and Brad met in Holodeck 1B and played basketball. While the ship had a gym with a small basketball court, Kyle had shown Koji and some of the other boys, like the twins, how to play the game on a court created on the holodeck. The court was roomier, and it was easy to adjust the height of the baskets. The holodeck court was where Kyle would shoot free throws when he felt he needed some alone time to relax. It was on the holodeck that Jonas and Koji had fun showing off their dunking skills. Marsh was playing in a half-court pee wee basketball league at his club's gym. Even though he had felt some of the effects of the heavier gravity during his time on the Sooloo, he hadn't felt it nearly as much as he did on the basketball court. Even on the lower baskets shooting the ball took more effort, but he still had fun. The lower gravity on Mars was the biggest thing he was looking forward to enjoying after he returned home.
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