Not much time later, after informing those boys on the 'list' that Seth had received that they will be going to bed really early that night (much to Timmy's annoyance), Joel and Kevin were rounding up their kids ready to go to Hawaii. Joel had seemingly made a fast recovery from the recent revelations, but that was just on the surface. Kevin was keeping himself very close so as to help when his husband's churning emotions took a downward slide. It was while pulling Verne from out of one of JJ's cabinets in the new mega–plex house that Joel realised something. "Where's Levi and Quint?" he asked as he faced Kevin. "Lil'Bear called for Quint earlier, but he never showed."
"Gone off to do something," Kevin answered as he, for the twenty fourth time, stopped Kataui from entering a random fridge in the new Clan Home. "He and Levi were called by the Guardian to help some kid from another planet. They said they'd be gone for a couple of months to them, but only a few hours or so for us."
"Oh," Joel murmured as he tickled Verne into submission. "What alien is this kid?"
"Dunno, but mostly human–like," Kevin answered. "Leevee didn't tell me much about him, other than he was in trouble and it was a time thing."
Joel nodded then rubbed at his eyes. "I'm not wearing this for a while," he said as he took of his Crown before handing it to Verne to shine up a bit. "Getting a headache." He then grinned in Kevin's general direction. "Sooo... did you and Leevee... you know... do your six days yet?" he asked with a giggle.
Kevin blushed, "Uh huh... and we've planned out that we now have to have a fourteen day love–fest with the three of us!"
Joel giggled and blushed as well. "Kewl... you really love him too, then huh? And he you?"
"Oh, yeah..." Kevin smiled. "I love the two of you... but you the most... or is that right? Not the most..."
"We're one heart," Joel explained. "You and your brother are one soul, yeah?"
"Yeah," Kevin nodded.
"The Guardian said a prophecy thing over me as Mikey was bringing me here. He said that two hearts would join as one. You and I are always going to be the closest. If you die, I'd die, and vice versa... or at least, we'd pine away and nothing could stop it. If you died, though, Levi wouldn't. Nor would Juan if I did. Only you and I are one heart."
"Who told you all this?" Kevin asked curiously as he petted the tribble in his hands.
"The Guardian, when Mamma was cuddling me earlier. He talked to me, told me not to worry about things... maybe Mamma's right – not everything in prophecy is to be taken literally. I'm to be 'destroyed' to make the Sword whole, but does that mean killed? Maybe not... but then..."
Kevin felt Joel's emotions slip slightly and moved over to him fast. He pulled Joel down to the floor and started to cuddle him. "Verne, wanna help me make Daddy happy?"
Verne smiled and nodded, "Yeah! I'll helps! Cuddles works good!" And matching actions to words, the small Ferret wiggled himself between his dads and snuggled tight to Joel.
Five minutes later, the three of them – and one tribble – were walking out of the mega–plex to meet up with the rest of their kids and Spock and Teri. Koth and Juan came over a moment later with Tumelo walking between them, and after another few minutes the four G–Cat guards of Kevin and Joel appeared; each armed to the hilt, and each with a knife held in their mouths.
"Yoo thaid aoomed tooo the teeff!" Hermes giggled at the look they were all getting from Teri.
With a roll of her eyes, Teri marched over and relieved the four Cats of the knives in their mouths before tossing them, one by one, into the air. They vanished, obviously due to some silently relayed instructions to Daileass. "The rest you can keep until you are surethat the area we'll be in will be safe for your charges, then you go back to one gun each. Understood?"
"Yes, Mamma Teri!" they all chanted between giggles. The two girls added a curtsey just for the effect.
"Are you all ready?" Spock asked as he did a fast nose count.
Juan double checked himself. "Mini–gun; check. Bowey knife; check. Napalm Launcher..." he stopped with a grin at the glare Teri was giving him, but then couldn't resist adding, "...and the Mech is on standby."
Joel patted his shoulder, where Kataui was now sleeping under his black Vulcan robe. "Yep, all here," he said as he put on a pair of dark glasses to hide his empty eye socket.
"Why me?" Spock asked no one in particular. "Draco," he then called into his comm, "transport for nineteen – plus one tribble – to the Pacific Rim Division headquarters, please."
As the transport beam took effect, Juan's voice could be heard yelling, "AND DON'T FORGET MY MECH!"
"Warm... nice... I like it here," Joel smiled happily as the two guards at the gate approached the group. "Kevvy? Can we find a comfy place on the beach to make like bunnies again?"
Kevin glanced at Teri, who was pretending she had not heard her Vulcan son, and blushed. "Talk later. Hush."
"That sounds like a logical suggestion for recreation," Spock commented dryly.
"Yeah," Joel giggled, "and you and Mama have Cory's permission to do ikky stuffs, too!"
"Exactly," Spock answered with a definite grin towards his soon–to–be wife.
"Just WHEN did the rules change so that I need my son's permission to procreate...." Teri mused dryly, trying hard not to drop into the gutter that the conversation was heading towards.
"... well, to get married under Vulcan tradition..." Joel whispered, as he pulled off to the side away from Teri fearfully, believing he had gone too far with what he had said. "... sorry."
Teri quickly moved over and cuddled her son, "You have nothing to be sorry about, Angel. I know you were just playing with your Dad."
"And TECHNICALLY," Juan added 'innocently', in order to take the focus off of Joel, "you needed Cory's permission when he became your father."
Teri stopped dead, Joel, in a hug against her chest, and looked at Juan. After thinking it through for a moment, she nodded, "That makes me my own grandmother as well... interesting."
A small cough came from the two Unit security gate–guards, making Teri and Spock turn in their direction. The two teens had impish grins on their faces at the by–play that had been going on. They saluted smartly, and the elder of the two welcomed them by saying, "Welcome to the Rimmer Base, Admiral Spock, Lady Teri – and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!"
"Has Daileass been spreading stories?" Teri asked, shaking her head.
"Yes," both teens giggled. The younger then pointed at his friend, "He's Chaz, and I'm Billy. Kaleo told us to expect you."
Chaz grinned and added, "And we volanteered to meet the parents of our Unit Mascott – Hey, Joel; you feeling a bit better?"
"In some ways, yes, Chazzy," Joel smiled from behind his dark glasses, "in others, not really. You liking Hawaii?"
"It's great," Chaz giggled as Joel moved in his general direction to get a hug. He quickly pulled the boy and and snuggled. "Never can get too many of your hugs, Elf!" he laughed.
"Save some for me, though!" Billy jumped in, laughing, to form a three way snuggle.
Juan rolled his eyes, "I trained them to be stone cold killers, but guess what? Ten seconds in the Tardis with Elf, and they went all soft on me."
"That is interesting," Koth commented, "because he makes YOU get all HARD instead!"
"I believe the Terran expression, 'TMI' would be suitable in this situation," Spock commented.
Juan started studying the trees rather than make a return comment, while fighting with his blush that was fast encroaching up his face.
Joel poked his face out from between the two Unit boys and turned it towards the large group of buildings in the Hawaii Compound. "Ummm... I think John knows I'm here, and he's upset."
Billy looked over and nodded, "Yes, he's coming, Joel."
Then Billy found he was talking to thin air, for Joel was now running blindly at the fast approaching John, Stephen, the Double J's, Beau and one of the Logan Clones, Nathan Hayes. John and Joel slammed into each other's arms bare seconds later. Which meant that, on contact with the hyper–empathic John, Joel's restrained emotions burst out of him and out of control and he started sobbing into his friend's shoulder. "Hold me... keep me safe," he wailed as John tightened his grip around the frail little teen as Joel's memories burst open like a dam and images of the Saturday attack poured out and around John. "Don't let them hurt me," he whispered through his sobs as his eyes and even nose ran with his tears.
John felt the whirlwind of memories, emotions, feelings and fears eddy around him, and his N–Gen mind did what was natural to it. He absorbed them, made them his own; stilled them. His heart could demand no less. But what he did not take into account was the fact of Joel's unique Vulcan mind – Joel's memories were not dead 'remembered' things, but living. Alive. Powerful. Happening Now.
In short, Joel did an inverted Sharing with the added fact of not just the feelings, but the experiences; and John became Joel – through all that Joel had been through on Saturday with the three Scottman brothers and their two forced prisoners; to the hell of reintegrating with his brothers, family and husband, Kevin; to the horror of breaking the news to Cory and the others; to the death of Corey Scottman on the VSO Interceptor. John felt his soul violated; his eye being ripped out; his body battered; death clawing at his spirit; loneliness and terror at no longer seeing himself as worthy of family, love and life; the painful realization that true sight will forever be denied him...
But John also felt the good that had happened – the caring that Joel's family and loved ones had poured out on him; the support of beings of power in a Realm of Dreams; a massive Lion that John felt he should have recognised; the visit to the past and to a Man that John was left realing at... all of it.
Stephen felt the echoes of this slam into him and he, too, keeled over to the ground, matching the motion of both John and Joel.
The Double J's, Beau and Nathan stepped back from them as things started, and then sent appealing looks at the others, not quite knowing what to do. The Double J's had an idea of what was happening, but Joel's mind was blank to them, now. They could not help, here. Only Joel could allow a telepath in, and only a mind–melder could do so without Joel's 'permission'.
Teri and Spock were moving the instant Joel's cries were copied by John's; and by the time they got to the two boys, John was screaming in tandum with Joel at the revived and living memories. Spock wasted no time, he simply clamped his fingers onto the faces of the two boys and pulled them into a brief meld; stilling the raging inferno of emotions and memories by helping Joel close the doors in his mind and also seperating the linking of minds that John's N–Gen abilities were causing.
In doing so, Spock did not lessen the impact of the event that had just happened. no one had ever done a Sharing of this nature before; not in recorded history, for Joel was the first in Spock's knowledge to have such a mind–setup. The Sharing that had taken place was a major lance to the wounded mind of the thirteen year old Vulcan, and John's heart was the most capable of all – with the possible exception of Viccy, the Heart of the Dragon – to bear such an event. But Viccy wasn't here. John was. And it was Providence in control, which brooked no opposition; not even from the Shaper.
While Spock and Teri were helping John and Joel, Billy and Chaz were over with Stephen, cradling him tenderly as he sobbed and cried at what he was feeling. Luckily for him, it was 'just' the emotions that he had received down a mind–join that John had lashed out with, rather than everything else including the physical sensations that John was going through. What he did receive was more than enough to curl the boy into a fetal position and make him shake uncontrollably.
Juan was at their side moments later and he focused his eyes on Stephen. "What's wrong with him?" Chaz asked his commanding officer.
Juan answered, "John. He's an N–Gen, like me, Adam, Jason and the rest. He must have panicked when whatever happened to him started, and he reached out to this kid's mind."
"Will Stephen be okay?" Billy asked, not looking up at Juan but rather stroking Stephen's face gently. Then he went back to whispering comfort to the crying boy.
"Yeah, I'm disconnecting the temporary link John's made, now," Juan said as his eyes glowed briefly blue. "This boy's name is Stephen?"
"Yeah. He and John are together, now. Just recently got together, actually," Chaz smiled, remembering the 'floating/kissing' episode from before.
"Ah, then that's why John reached out for him," Juan smiled as well as his eyes went back to normal.
Billy looked up at hearing the smile in his commander's voice, "Aren't you scared for Joel, sir?"
"No. Uncle Spock's with him, and I kinda guessed what was happening when it happened. I'm more concerned for Stephen and John, who wouldn't have been prepared for this. Something like it happened to me on Saturday, but Joel did it with anger as well as fear and I got badly hurt... I think he did it with a need for safety this time, so things should be different," Juan explained as he turned to look at his Vulcan lover and the Hawaiian Division's Head of Intel.
Spock was also standing back up at this point and he looked over first to Kevin, "My son is fine, but he will need you soon. Be aware, he may revert temporarily to how he was Saturday afternoon, and not wish much contact with you, but that is due to reliving the memories."
"I understand," Kevin said bravely, his lower lip wobbling ever so slightly as he cuddled a silently crying Lee against his chest. All of his kids were gathered around him and looking sadly at their Vulcan Daddy, but Lee was seemingly having the hardest time with it all.
Spock then turned to Juan, "You were correct, son. John did reach out to those he loved, but only Stephen was close enough for such a generally directed reach for help." He then glanced at Teri, "I shall need to perform a full meld with both Stephen and John, soon. I have placed a temporary hold on any emotional trauma in John, and I believe Juan would have done the same with Stephen..." Juan nodded in agreement as Spock continued "... but it will only hold for a few hours at most."
"Good," Teri nodded as she stood with Joel in her arms, leaving John to be picked up by the Vulcan man. "I'll talk with Jennifer Hundser and explain the situation to her, if required."
Mercury walked over to Spock, "Shall we go inside right now, or..."
"It may be best to have other young people around to help my son, John and Stephen get back to what they should be – young people themselves. My son has made tremendous progress in recovery, but this episode can either lead to that being improved or worsened, depending on what happens in the next hour. In John and Stephen's case, it will simply be a massive help." Spock looked at Chaz and Billy, "Where would most of the younger members of this Division be at this time of day?"
It was John who answered. "By the pool," he whispered weakly. "That way," he pointed from Spock's arms.
After gathering all the boys – and two girl–cats – together, they all made their way over, with John, Stephen and Joel being carried tenderly. When they got to the pool, they were practically mobbed by loads of kids. Most of them knew Spock from school lessons on Starfleet or the television reports of his exploits, and were in throws of hero worship. A lot of them knew Kevin, Joel and Juan from their earlier visit to the Division. All of them fell to the challenge of cuddling the three hurting boys to make them feel better.
Kevin watched for about ten minutes before telling his kids to go mingle so that he could cuddle with their daddy for a while. However, when he reached for and touched Joel, Joel pulled back violently. "Don't touch... sorry, Kev... not yet... please not yet," he whispered.
Kevin nodded slowly as he whispered sadly, "I understand. I love you, Sa'r."
"I... I love you, too," Joel managed quietly as he hung his head.
John and Stephen had more or less recovered themselves and were both sitting close to the little–kid–mobbed Joel when the exchange between Joel and Kevin happened. John sighed heavily, then caught Stephen's eyes. "I need to go to the boy's room," he said.
"Me, too," Stephen nodded. "And we need to talk," he added.
"Yeah, then we need to help Joel with Kevin," John added as they both moved off towards the boy's changing rooms and toilets.
While they were gone, Jamie and Jacob were dragging a dripping wet Kaleo over to greet Teri and Spock, while Beau and Nathan went to find Corey Seaver and Drew Hundser. They found them – in the middle of yet another rimming session in the CIC Command Centre Server Room, much to the amusement of the watching Daileass – and had to threaten to drag them out butt naked to meet the Director of Federation Youth Services and the famous Vulcan Admiral from the Enterprise.
Once all the introductions had been made, and much teasing poked at the two literal 'Rimmers', Joel moved to stand by Teri, and he slipped his small hand into hers. "Mama, can I have a cookie, please?"
"Sure," she answered as she handed one to him, "did your cookie bag run out?"
"No," Joel shook his head as he ate half of it and then fed the other half to the furry creature under his robe on his shoulder. "Kev has it, and he's over the other side of the pool." He then felt his hand get taken by whom he instantly knew to be Lee, then a finger started drawing signs over his palm. "Yes, sweety. I'm okay now and you can show the kids how well you can climb a tree."
Lee grinned and kissed Joel's palm before scampering off to the nearest tree that was just a few feet from the pool before climbing it quickly, running along a branch and then dive–bombing the pool, to the loud cheers of the kids watching.
"Show off!" Sue the badger yelled as she made sure her specially designed sunglasses were secure over her eyes.
Lee blew a raspberry at her as he started on a lazy backstroke to get to the pool edge.
Feeling a slight brush against his mind, Joel sighed sadly and sent, 'Yeah, Kevvy?'
'Aunt Jen is coming, Sa'r,' was Kevin's soft answer down their link.
Joel turned his head slightly and extended his Vulcan senses. Sure enough, a woman was approaching, and catching the scent of her perfume in the air, Joel reasoned that it was certainly Mrs Jennifer Hundser. 'Thanks, Kevvy... love you.'
An answering mental hug was Kevin's only responce, but Joel knew that Kevin was smiling a bit again. The little Vulcan was determined to get over this fresh 'funk' he'd slipped into fast so that he could feel with his fingers a perminant smile on his beloved's face again.
He felt Teri's hand squeeze his own, "There's someone coming. Is that Mrs Hundser?"
Sniffing the air, Joel nodded. "Yeah, she's here," he smiled slightly as he turned. Suddenly feeling very nervous, he started to introduce John's mother to his parents and new family.
After Jennifer Hundser and Teri had walked off talking, Joel, Kevin, their four Cat guards, Stephen and John started to wander around the Hawaii Compound, with Spock a few feet behind, keeping watch. Ahead of them all were all of Joel and Kevin's kids, little Tumelo, and a host of other rugrats from the Hawaii division, all chattering together like mad.
"How do you like the land Unca Iokii gave to you?" Kevin asked John as he and Joel walked along hand in hand, their joined arms swinging back and forth.
John and Stephen were walking on Joel's other side, and they had their hands linked in the same way. Well, walking wasn't the term – floating along would be a better discriptive for it.
John smiled, "I know, from Prez and Keith, we got a lot of land from Uncle Iokii. None of us have had the time to check out the other bases yet. All we know is that they're set up like this one. All of us love this base, Kevin; the kids are calling it home already."
Both Kevin and Joel grinned, and Hermes smiled. The four cats were walking behind the four boys in front, and they had paired off into their own boyfriend–girlfriend groups as well. Hermes said, "Looks like everything's the way it should be, then."
"Yeah," Joel giggled, "but you're floating, ain't ya, John?"
John nodded. "Yes, but how can you tell?"
"I can see you..." Joel grinned, his face pointed forward.
John was about to ask how that was possible when he saw Kevin was looking directly at him – and Kevin's normally brown eyes were blue. "That's so cool!" he yelled. "You can see through Kev's eyes?!"
Both Kevin and Joel nodded as the group of rugrats (and Lee, who was adament that he was a rugape) came to a halt before them and turned to pounce all over the older boys (and two Girl–Cats).
Spock, now standing before a pile of arms, legs and tails, rolled his eyes briefly before finding a good place to sit down to wait for the children to cease playing.
Joel managed to clamber out of the mound of giggling bodies, pulling John out by his foot behind him. John was howling with laughter, for Joel's other hand was busy pulling off John's sneeker and then tickling his bare foot.
Joel only stopped his foot–tickling when he reached where he sensed his dad was sitting. "John... you need to talk with Daddy. You and me... we Shared, and it was not normal. He said you'd need his help, so better now than later. I'll go get Stephen while you two chat," he grinned as he bent down, picked up John easily by the waist, and plopped him onto Spock's lap.
Being picked up by the smaller Vulcan boy, John delightedly cackled, "I would've gone, Joel! I've never... mind–melded before, that's all!"
"You'll love it," Joel giggled before kissing John's cheek and heading back over to the pile of laughing bodies, whereupon he dived right in on his Stephen–Seeking mission.
John looked up at the Vulcan man on whose lap he was now sitting and smiled. "Hi!" he giggled.
Spock allowed a small smile to tug at the corners of his mouth before nodding his head slightly. "Greetings, oh favoured John of my Sa'ren."
John cracked up laughing.
When he had calmed down some, Spock said, "There is no need to feel apprehensive, child. There is nothing to fear from a mind–meld if done correctly; and I would do nothing less than a perfect job."
John wondered, "I won't forget it all, will I, Uncle Spock? I don't want to forget it, ever."
Spock shook his head. "No, for to take away a person's experiences would change who that person is. What you have just learned from my son has not yet had such a wide reaching effect upon your life, but to remove it would alter who you are now. In the short time it has been, you have already changed. I would never do that to you, son. What I will do is to help you deal with what you have gained from my son's life and history. Only a few have experienced Sa'ren's mind in the way you just have. He is unique, even amoung Vulcans, for his ability with his memory. There are many who have what you call a 'photographic memory'; most of my race has such, through training if not naturally; a growing number of Terrans have the ability, some through genetic manipulation, some through training and some naturally. What my son has is different, yet seems the same."
"He remembers it as if it is happening now," John whispered, a far away look in his eyes.
"Correct. Any pain, feeling, emotion, sensation, taste, smell... it happened and is still happening to the mind of my son. I showed him how to 'close certain doors' in his mind that will allow him to 'remember' those events as you or I would, but not to feel them as he has had to deal with all his life. For you, I will help you to build, control and manage what my son Sa'ren and my son Jason call 'rooms in your head' in which to deal with what you gained from Sa'ren. You will never forget it, but you will be able to live and grow with it. Does this explain it better for you, John, Son of James?"
"Yeah," John nodded. He telepathically called Stephen to be close by. When Stephen's smiling face popped up from the pile of kids on the grass, John confirmed, "I'm ready."
Joel's head popped out a foot away from where Stephen was trying to clamber out of the pile, and he pounced out himself, landed on Stephen, then proceeded to drag John's boyfriend over to Spock in the same manner in which he'd dragged John. Stephen was laughing just as much as John had done.
Spock waited until Stephen had stopped giggling – which meant it was after Joel had finally ceased his tickle attack – before placing his finger tips on John's face. Stephen watched with interest and concern as the two became as still as statues. "What's it like?" he asked Joel seriously. "To meld?"
Joel shrugged. "Could you explain what an orgasm is to someone who's never had one?" the Vulcan teen answered with a question of his own.
"Well... not really. Kinda, but..." Stephen blushed.
"It would be the same for me to explain a meld to someone who's never had one. Like sex, it can be good or bad, depending on who does it, how well it is done and the reason why. In John's case, it'll be good in parts and a little sad as he'd have to see – but not feel – those memories he got from me. You'll have it easier; you only got an emotive burst from John."
"Do I have to meld?" Stephen asked.
"Not if you really don't want to, no. But it would be highly recommended. Talk to John when he's finished, Stephen. He might be able to show you at least a shadow of what a meld is like once Daddy's done," Joel smiled.
Stephen did not have long to wait, for a minute later Spock lowered his hand from John's face and said, "Finished. How do you feel, John?"
Wiping stray tears from his eyes, John shrugged, "Not too different at all, really. My brain is tingling again though, like after I became N–Gen."
"You have had a mental 'work–out', John," Spock stated simply. "I have gifted you with a few pieces of knowledge I deemed suitable from my years in Kolinahr training, and made sure that your sub–concious ran over the 'exercises' a few times. You will discover what each does as you look through the doors and rooms you and I just set up."
John nodded, "Thanks, Uncle Spock." He reached out to all his mental contacts, starting with Stephen. When he felt his boyfriend's uncertainty he implored, "It's okay, baby. Let Uncle Spock meld with you, too." Giving Spock a big thank you hug, John slid down off his lap then telepathically touched his brothers, parents and Kaleo, only to make sure the links were still in place. Satisified they were in place and certain the were slightly stronger, John pulled Stephen closer to Spock and sent, 'It's easy, Stephen. Anything you felt from me will be put right.'
Stephen nodded before sliding onto Spock's lap – since John had been there, Stephen reasoned it would be the thing to do – and looked into Spock's face carefully. "I'm ready... sir," he said softly.
As Spock, with well practiced ease, talked quietly to Stephen to calm him before beginning his meld, John moved to stand beside Joel, while still checking out his abilities and capabilities that he had already learned – trying to find what Spock had done.
"He could have just strengthened some things, John," Joel said as he guessed at what his friend was doing. "Have you opened any of the doors yet?"
"Just about to..." John answered, and then broke down laughing.
"What?" Joel asked curiously.
John sent a mental image to Joel – a picture of Joel's face from a meld he had had with his father on Thursday. The image of Joel rubbing at his eyes and yelling, "Ewwww!" after having seen Spock's memories of all the times he and T'Sara had mated.
"Damn," Joel blushed. "Why do parents like doing that?"
"Doing what?" John spluttered through his laughter.
Joel groused, "Show their friends pictures – or images – of their kids doing embarrasing things!"
It wasn't long before Spock had finished with Stephen's meld, and then it was two boys giggling while looking at Joel that the young Vulcan had to contend with.
"What have you been showing them?!" Joel wailed as he play pouted at his father.
Spock raised an eyebrow, "Not much."
"Humph!" Joel grunted before turning and taking a running dive back into the still play–fighting, tickling mound of kids behind him.
Stephen and John both joined him – still laughing.
Once some semblence of order had been restored, John and Stephen continued the tour of the facilities before heading back to the pool area.
As they drew closer to their destination, John said to Joel, "Prez and the others are back, bro. They're waiting to see you, and Kaleo has just told them that you've been hurt – to prepare them."
Joel nodded seriously, his mood darkening. It was happening a lot, Joel thought to himself. Every time he had to see someone from 'before' who hadn't known until just now, he started to feel rotten and bad again. With a sigh, he sought about his mind for something to take the edge off of the pain that was creeping out from behind those 'closed doors' in his head.
He gave a small grin as the group came within sight of Prez, Keith, Kaleo and the others at the poolside. Reaching out to see through Kevin's eyes again, Joel kicked off his boots and planted his feet firmly into the grass. His toes wiggled in the dirt of the Earth as he reached out his hands towards where – through Kevin – he could see Prez.
"I am on Seleya," he whispered in a monotone as his body became stiff and his senses ready, "I feel the winds of my Homeland. I see the Sands of the Forge, sense the flames of the Fields of Fire, hear the call of the Eldest of Sehlats."
A strangled "JOHN!" came from Prez, who suddenly rose up into the air by a foot or so and then the teen started to float backwards towards Joel. "Stop it!"
"It's not me! Blame the Elf!" John hollored back while giggling. He was seriously impressed; he did not know that his Vulcan friend was a telekinetic, too!
"Feel the Sands of the Forge; Embrace Forever... feel the Sands of the Forge," Joel kept repeating as Prez drifted closer and closer.
In just a few seconds, Joel would be getting a hug from his Hawaiian big brother...
Joel and Kevin and the others had just finished a slap up meal as provided by their hosts, and then had the privilage to witness Stephen getting reunited with his mother. Joel simply grinned from ear to ear as everything was happening around him, knowing that at least one family was going to be safe and well and happy from now on – and it couldn't have happened to a nicer set of people, he decided.
While Stephen was in his mother's arms, crying with happiness, Joel was standing near to John. He then felt a touch upon his mind – what he now normally associated with a broadcast telepath who was either trying to tell him something or attempting to read his thoughts. Knowing that it was John, Joel not only allowed 'access' for his friend to speak to him, but also opened his mind up generally. He no longer had anything much to hide from his friend, other than some deeply personal or dangerous things. Those were always closed.
John sent, 'Umm, Stephen's gonna hug and kiss me as soon as he lets go of his mom. We're gonna start floating and she's gonna freak out! We gotta go someplace, really quick!'
With a smile and a giggle, Joel turned to Spock, "Daddy, can I give John and Stephen a tour of the Enterprise?"
Joel heard John gasp.
"Spock to Kirk," was what Joel heard as his answer from his father before excited chatterings started up from around him.
"A tour of the flagship!" John squealed. "Please say we can go?" he begged his father.
Jim Hundser chuckled, "I don't see a problem with that. Remember, Jamie, Jacob and Beau are here, too, though."
Joel stepped in to answer that. "It shouldn't take much more than a few hours. We'll be back by dinner time," he said, knowing that a nice tour really wouldn't take more than that. It wouldn't be a full tour, of course, but more than enough to give his friends the time of their lives and some privicy to boot.
Jim nodded, "That's fine."
While Jim Hundser led Stephen's mother out to the kitchen, and while Spock remained in a whispered conversation off to the side with Kirk over the comm, Joel just reached out with his sense to feel the joy and happiness around him – he decided to more or less ignore the words the others were saying, for the emotions spoke volumes louder. It was far more enlightening and beautiful to the Vulcan teen. He curled his fingers around his pendant and sent out a message to Juan, just to tell him where he was going.
'Me too!' Juan sent back insistantly.
Joel shook his head, even though Juan was not in the same room to see it. 'You promised that you'd take Prezzy and the rest through their training, T'hy'la. You can't break your word. Besides, I know why you wanna keep me near you, and I understand it, but the Enterprise! It's more than secure, T'hy'la. It's home to me, just like Orlando... and I've got the four cats. Please? Don't worry?'
'I'll ALWAYS worry... I don't like it, Joel... I don't want you to die!'
'The Legends say I'd be destroyed where I was made – that's Vulcan. I'm not going to Vulcan, Juan.'
After a few swear words, Juan grudgingly sent, 'If you even HEAD in that direction, I will kick your ass for you. Okay, Elf. Don't get into trouble.'
'Trouble usually finds me,' Joel sent back with a giggle before sending a mental hug, kiss and 'nibble' down the pendant–link.
Then Spock returned. He said to his son, "Your Uncle James has agreed for a tour to be granted, with a few 'surprises' as well. Orders have been given for Acting Captain Sa'ren Joel Short, Acting Commander Kevin Thompson, and Acting Lieutenant Commanders John Hundser and Stephen Marr to report immediately to the Enterprise and await further instruction from the Admiral."
Joel felt Kevin's attention shift, and knew that his husband had called over Hermes, Mercury, Aphrodite and Artemus. He then giggled, pulled Kevin close to his side, and smiled towards Stephen and John. "Ready, Commanders?"
John, his eyes as wide as an owl's, nodded his head foolishly.
After checking that his Tribble was still sleeping on his shoulder, Joel tapped his communicator, "Short to Enterprise, nine to beam up."
"Locked on," came the response, "Acquired... wait. Illegal lifeform? Excuse me for a moment, Ensign Short."
The kids all looked at each other and shrugged. Joel whispered, "Levi's not with us – he'd trigger that response. John? Do you have antimatter underpants or something?"
John laughed and shook his head. "No," he said, as he realized that Joel couldn't see the head shake. "Just normal boxers!"
Stephen giggled, "Plaid cotton. I helped him put them on."
The next voice heard over the comm was that of the most famous Starfleet Engineer John knew about – Captain Scott. "Sa'ren Joel Short!" he barked, "Where in th' Seven Circles of Satan's Spawn did ye' aquire that ungodly creature, laddie?"
Joel's eyebrows raised. "One of what, Unca Monty?"
"That there blasted TRIBBLE! They're all dead! The only good thing those thrice damned Klingons ever did!"
"Ummm... Oh! You have a restriction on Tribbles? Still?" Kevin giggled.
"She won't be a problem, Unk!" Joel said sweetly.
"SHE'LL BREED, an' I'd be defurring the Lady's innards for months!"
"She won't breed. She's controlled."
"She be clipped?"
"Well... no. Not really, but she's controlled. She's a Borg."
"Laddie, have ye been sippin' Romulan Ale? There be no creature I've been made ken to known as Borg."
"I been... no! No... well, not... NO! No drinkies! Never mind, Unk... she's... snipped," Joel sighed, giving up.
Kevin glared at the back of Joel's head. "When did you go drinking Romulan Ale?!"
"Tardis... with Juan... he was a little... squiffy... after..."
"And what about you?"
"I got the biggest hard–on of my life! You enjoyed THAT night, Kevvy!"
John felt Stephen's embarrassment and smiled at his boyfriend, playfully bouncing his eyebrows. 'We've gotta try some of that Romulan Ale, baby. You're plenty big already, but... just wondering.' John and Stephen broke into fits of giggles.
Then Scotty's answer came back, "I'll be trustin' you for this time, Laddie... iff'n I hear whisperin 'bout any nestin' of those creatures in Spock's stateroom, I'll be puttin' you over my knee!"
Joel blinked, then giggled. He knew his Uncle Scotty would never really carry out such a threat. "Can we come up now?"
All eight kids – plus one shoulder–riding tribble – appeared on the transporter pad facing the Transporter Chief and the Chief Engineer of the Enterprise. With his eyes narrowing slightly at the lump on Joel's shoulder, Scotty moved around from the console to stand before them all. In that time he managed to 'ignore' the purring lump and instead smile at the kids, "Welcome to the Enterprise, young ones. If you will follow me, we will get you all properly attired for your task."
John glanced at Joel, "Attired?"
"We're acting as ranks in Starfleet," Joel giggled. "We need to be in uniform!" he grinned as he and the rest followed Scotty out and down the corridor a ways.
Scotty led them to a medium sized meeting room and pointed out four full uniforms, and four other specially tailored jackets and kilt–like items for the four G–Cats. "The Admiral didn't think about it, but yours truely did," he smiled at the four Cats. "You're all acting Lieutenants, Security Department for the duration of this exercise."
"What is it we'll be doing?" Kevin asked curiously.
Scotty winked and turned to leave the room, "Ye will find out on the Bridge, laddie."
The door hissed closed behind him.
Joel shrugged and slipped out of his clothes, placing the now awake and purring tribble on the table top.
The cats shrugged off their robes and took off the single gun and knife they were each carrying before examining the modified uniforms that Scotty had left for them. John and Stephen were down to their small clothes when Stephen really took much notice of the two She–Cats and he started blushing. "You're..."
Artemus giggled and winked before wiggling her tale at him.
While Artemus continued to embarrass Stephen, John walked over to Joel, in just his undershorts and asked, "That's a tribble? Why didn't you show it to me earlier? Why didn't I see it in your mind?"
Joel smiled, "That memory wasn't in the room that broke open, lil'bro." He picked up his pet and showed her to John, "Her name's Kataui and she will love you!"
Then, the mischievous Vulcan, looking through Kevin's eyes again, reached with his other hand and yanked open the top of John's shorts and tipped in the purring, vibrating, furry mass.
Not knowing a tribble from a clawing kitten, and believing his privates would be raw meat, John squealed in fear. His facial expression softened then he blushed and giggled, "Umm... it's purring... feels nice."
Standing in only briefs, and feeling John's growing excitement, Stephen cackled, "John! Don't you dare!"
From John's shorts Kataui called out, "Franks and beans! ASSIMILATE!... joking... maybe... nibble only?"
Joel fell about laughing at the panicked look he could see on John's face through Kevin's eyes.
John's giggling turned to loud laughter. The tribble's nibbles felt like crushed velvet rubbing against his penis. Intensely blushing, John shared what he was feeling with Stephen. Realizing he and John were popping major wood, Stephen hurried to get at least the pants on. He failed, instead allowing his pants to the floor while moaning.
Kevin and the four G–Cats howled with laughter. Joel, seeing all this through Kevin's eyes, fell on his arse and rolled around, completely hysterical. What had just started happening was not what he had expected at all, but it was just too funny to stop.
"POPCICLE!" Kataui yelled, and then John's blushing face escalated.
Kevin, his ribs hurting yet keeping his eyes on what was going on so that Joel could see as well, managed to ask, "What has Nine taught that thing, Sa'r?! Is it doing what I think it's doing?"
"I think so!" Joel spluttered as he hammered his fist against the deck.
Stephen had fallen over completely by this point and was near the point of no return.
Aphrodite and Artimus, already half into the Starfleet uniform jackets, were trying to hold themselves upright on the table but were starting to fail miserably. The two boy Cheetahs were just lying on their backs and beating the floor with their forepaws and hindlegs, screaming with hysterical laughter.
First John, and then Stephen, broke into a light sweat and, in moments, whimpered as they shared their first tribble induced dry orgasms.
Kataui did not stop 'nibbling'.
A second incredible orgasm overwhelmed John and Stephen.
Revved up and playful, John pulled the still nibbling tribble from his boxers and stuffed it in Stephen's briefs. Stephen squealed.
Grinning insanely, John pulled Stephen's emotions into his mind. After the third shared tribble induced tremor shuddered through their bodies, John pulled the tribble out of Stephen's underwear then evilly grinned at Kevin, prepared to share the tribble's skills.
"No special sauce... yet... we will wait..." the tribble purred from John's hand.
Kevin, still laughing, picked the creature up and plopped her on his shoulder. He was blushing beet red at the thought he knew was racing through John's mind, but he shook his head slightly, his eyes flashing to Joel who was still rolling around on the floor. He focused his eyes on John and sent telepathically, 'I don't think Joel could handle that right now – not after the slight... backslide... he had today... but now that the idea is there...' he trailed off with a rosier blush.
John nodded with a more gentle smile and shakily got to his feet. "I'm all sweaty," he whimpered, still fighting with his blush.
That was when his blushes increased, for the two she–cats grabbed him and Stephen. Artimus grinned, "We'll sort that problem out!" They then proceeded to strip completely and cat–bathe the two boys who were still flushed from their orgasms.
While the two she–cats, and once recovered from laughing the two cheetahs, dealt with them, Kevin and Joel finished getting changed. They then sat and waited for the cats to finish, with Kataui now comfortably ensconced on Joel's left shoulder – a Starfleet icon–badge velcoed to her fur.
"Who, umm... taught you how to do what you did, Kataui?" Joel asked curiously as he petted his pet with one hand.
"Timmy!" the tribble answered.
"Wha?!" Joel spluttered.
Kevin's eyes were wide. "Timmy?! Our innocent, angelic... never mind. Scratch both of them! But... Timmy?!"
From out of the tribble's fur came Kataui's laser sighter. "Yes. Timmy, Ricky and those called the Tribe and the Rugrats were together two nights ago – the night you and Friend Levi made love," Kataui explained. "Timmy was explaining what he knew about sex to those who did not know. Some of the others who knew more did not share their knowledge, so I tapped into Nine's memories to help Timmy explain. He had me on his lap at the time, and when Belar asked what a 'blow–job' was, I showed him – on Timmy. Timmy enjoyed it. Then he passed me to Ricky. He, too, enjoyed it. Then Jessica from the Rugrats. It continued until all in Timmy's room understood what a 'blow–job' was. They fed me lots of cookies after."
"You're a little slut!" Artemus giggled from where she was finishing up her bath on John. "I approve!"
"I do not understand that term – I gained no physical enjoyment from the explaination," the VI intellect of the tribble stated seriously.
"You... gave out sexual favours for treats," Joel managed though his laughter.
The tribble turned in his hand, "I did not. They fed me after. I did not demand such for what I did."
"You didn't feel it was wrong?" Kevin asked, trying to stop giggling.
"No. Sex is a biological function of most bipedal races. They asked, I showed them."
"You could have just explained," snorted Joel. "Then again, Timmy should have known better... but then again... as long as you weren't hurt or upset, I don't mind."
"How'd you manage to do the girls, though?" Mercury asked, but Hermes slapped him.
"Don't answer that, Kataui! There are some things better left not explained!" Hermes instructed firmly.
John, now released from the cat–bath, was hurridly pulling on his clothes, blushing to the roots of his hair. "I'm just glad you didn't bite," he giggled at the Tribble.
"I do not have teath," the tribble answered, and John could have sworn that it shrugged – well, to shrug as well as any creature can when it doesn't have shoulders... or a neck... or a head. Never mind, thought John.
Joel smiled, "Besides, I'd not put something dangerous down your pants, bro. I didn't think she'd do what she did, but I knew she wouldn't hurt you. Tribbles only eat plant matter and dead flesh. They won't eat 'meat' that is still alive, so your dickie was quite safe." He turned his face slightly towards the tribble on his shoulder, "I think she likes blowjobs, though."
"No Special Sauce!" the tribble exclaimed, before a funny hiccup–purr started, which John guessed was laughter. "Timmy did not make any either!"
Kevin laughed and stood up, "When the cats are ready we can go to the bridge."
Hermes was the last to get his kilt fitted right, his single gun fitted in his belt around his waist properly. "Okay! We're ready!"
"No underwear?" Stephen asked curiously, blushing again as he looked at the two girl–cats.
"We don't wear clothes unless we have to for human modesty," Aphrodite answered with a soft smile before pulling in and hugging the blushing boy. "We've seen it all before, Stephen. Don't be shy – just think of us as aliens or something."
"Besides!" Mercury grinned, "underwear would squish our tails!" He swished his tail about just to prove his point.
After checking everyone was all dressed up and ready, Kevin led Joel out of the meeting room and looked around for Scotty. "He's not here," he said, looking puzzled.
Joel smiled, "Then we go to the Bridge and see Uncle Pavel."
And so saying, he and Kevin led the others – two of them still blushing to their hairline – down the corridor towards the nearest turbolift.
"What's this pin for?" John asked as he pointed to the two rank insignias on his shoulder strap. The turbolift was running smoothly up to the Bridge, and he was bouncing slightly in anticipation. He'd never been on a starship, before, never mind the Enterprise.
Kevin peered at it. "The one on top is for lieutenant commander and the one under it is for cadet. Just means you're..." He stopped, then turned to Joel, "We're on a training voyage, Sa'r."
Joel nodded. "I guessed, when Daddy said we had high ranks. This isn't going to be a normal tour."
Stephen was looking at the undershirt sleeve that was around his wrist, just past the jacket top. "Is that why our shirts are red?"
"Yeah," Kevin nodded. "Red is for trainee or cadets..."
"Or anyone with a deathwish," Joel added, before giggling. "Expendables!"
"Pardon?" Kevin asked, looking rather shocked.
"Star Trek," Joel said simply, making Stephen and John look at each other with a lost expression.
"Oh... never mind, then," Kevin sighed, rolling his eyes. Then he said, "As I was saying before I was so rudely and illogically interupted..."
Joel blew a raspberry.
"... red is for cadets and trainees," Kevin continued, ignoring the noise from his beloved, "blue is for medical and sciences, orange is for technical and engineering and white is for Command and Operations."
"Spock has white," Stephen pointed out. "Isn't he a science officer, though?"
"Yes, but in the command structure. He's cross trained, and so chooses which to wear," Joel answered as the doors hissed open as they arrived at the Bridge.
"Captain on deck!" Chekov called out as he stood up from the Command Chair.
While Joel had been expecting to be placed in charge of a 'mission' of some kind, he was slightly taken aback by this reaction. He gripped Kevin's hand tightly as his husband led him out towards Chekov, "What's happening, Unca Pavel?"
"You have been given a mission, Captain," Chekov answered formally, ignoring the use of the family orientated honourific.
Uhura smiled softly and sadly as the group of children walked past her. 'Poor boy,' she thought sadly at seeing Joel's once beautiful and now marred face.
Pushing his surprise down, Joel drew himself up straighter. "Please relay Command's instructions, Commander," he ordered.
"The Enterprise has been given emergency supplies to take to Alpha Centauri B 7, Centauri Colony," Pavel Chekov relayed from the datapad that he was holding. "Once there, oversee that the cargo is delivered correctly, then bring the Enterprise back to Terra Main for debriefing. For this mission, Sa'ren Short is in command, Kevin Thompson is his first officer." Once he had finished, he held out the pad for Joel to take. His eyes narrowed slightly once he realised what he had forgotten and shifted his arm to hand the pad to Kevin.
Taking the pad, Kevin smiled his thanks before looking at Joel, "Your orders, Captain?"
"Prepare the Enterprise for departure," he said quickly as he felt his way onto the Command Chair, "inform Mr Scott that we will need all the power he can give us, and get me a large, chocolate chip and caramel toffee cookie, please."
Most of those on the Bridge burst out laughing before they could help it, but they did start to get the ship ready to leave.
Rolling his eyes yet again, Kevin went over to Spock's usual station and started relaying the orders – including a call down to the mess hall for the largest chocolate chip and caramel toffee cookie to be brought up to the Bridge post haste.
With Stephen at his side, John walked over to the ops station and stood next to Chekov, once the Commander had sat down. He turned around to grin at Joel – whose legs were dangling off of the edge of the Captain's chair and swinging back and forth freely. He watched as Joel reached and pulled a Crown from nothingness and slipped it over his head. "How the...?"
Joel smiled as the symbols on the Crown shifted around until the cross and infinity symbol was prominant. Then his eyes went into blue energy mist form.
John then spluttered, "What the...?!"
Kevin laughed as Joel answered the two half finished questions. "My Crown lets me see, only not like you see."
Most of the Bridge crew were staring open mouthed at the sight as they, too, listened to this. Joel continued, "You've a pretty soul, John. You, too, Stephen."
Stephen looked to John for some explaination. Shaking his head, with no answer to give, John gushed, "You see our souls? That's a trick and a half, Joel. What do souls look like? Specifically, what do our souls look like?"
"Indigo, the colour of a Young Race in the transitional phase to Middle," Joel answered, using the words and phrases Levi had taught him. He tilted his head to the side, "Mostly white, but the core in your head, over your heart and by your belly button – they are indigo. Both of you. And I see everything... you're both good, but like mischief at times..."
"Typical kids," Uhura mumbled in awe as she watched Spock's eldest in the chair.
"... you're both loyal to the point of insanity, and... you're in love! I see it! Wow, that's soooo CUTE!" the little Vulcan laughed while clapping his hands.
Stephen's mouth dropped open and his face turned bright red. He stammered, "You can see that we're... in love?"
Rather than embarass Stephen further, John giggled and sent, "After several dozen bounces against the shower ceiling this morning, did you think I only liked you? Liking you floated away about the first time we did, baby."
Giggling, Joel turned his head slightly to look at Chekov, "Is the ship ready, Commander?"
"Aye, Captain," he nodded in response.
"How long will it take us to get to Centauri Colony at maximum warp?"
"Five hours, sir," Chekov answered.
"I think we'd better try out our new engines," Joel giggled. "Unca Jim'll kill me! Unca Scotty?" he called, hitting the comm.
"Aye, Nephew... I mean Captain Nephew?" Scotty chuckled back from the Engine Room.
"Is the Slipstream ready?"
Scotty chuckled some more, "Aye, but I'd recommend just the lowest levels for now. I wanna make sure this ol' girl can take it."
Turning back to Commander Chekov, Joel ordered, "Then set course for Centauri Colony, and go to Slipstream once we're free of the System Traffic. Set the speed to Factor 2 of the new drive."
"Aye, sir," Chekov smiled as he turned back to his station to get the ship moving.
John and the still blushing Stephen turned to watch, as well, through the viewscreen, and were cheering as the ship hammered up and into Warp. Soon, the Enterprise would be able to go to Slipstream, and then there would be a new sight for them all to see.
Joel giggled again and started singing, "Star Trekkin' across the universe, On the Starship Enterprise under Captain Kirk! Star Trekkin' across the universe; Boldly going forward 'cuz we can't find reverse!"
"I heard that, Laddie! Ye be needin' to check ye' intercom channels for bein' open!" Scotty's voice said with a laugh over the bridge speakers.
Kevin noted from Spock's station that at every floor comm he listened in to he could hear laughing.
Joel just shrugged and then asked, "Where's that cookie?"
Seeing as Factor 2 of Slipstream would get them to Alpha Centauri in an hour, Joel and Kevin spent that time giving Stephen and John a tour of the more important – or basically the more interesting – parts of the starship. Then, after arriving at the colony, Joel and Kevin left their friends – and Kataui – in the capable hands of Captain Scott while they went to oversee the offloading of the cargo.
It was on the Bridge that Stephen and John – and Kataui, now on a dog leash with a little dog–tag attached to one of her Borg–tubing – met back up with the other two. The Enterprise was now heading home at the same speed that they had used to get to the colony, while Chekov, acting as the Trainee Overseer for this exercise, gave both the Vulcan boy and his husband a brief critique of how they had handled themselves.
Once Chekov had finished and had retaken his seat at the Comm, John plopped the purring tribble, complete with leash, back on Joel's lap. "She's greedy, so Uncle Scotty made sure she couldn't 'run' off."
"He still thinks she's gonna breed like a rabbit?" Joel giggled.
Stephen laughed, "Yeah!"
A loud beep came from Uhura's station, and Joel's face became very serious. It was an emergency beacon call.
A few seconds later, Uhura looked over, "A ship under attack, Captain..." She looked past Joel to Chekov, who was in reality the most senior member of the command staff on the Bridge.
Sighing, Joel slipped from the Captain's chair so that Chekov could take over, but Chekov waved him back. "I'm the best at this station, Joel. I've seen your simulator test results. You're the Captain, Captain... under Vulcan Rank if not Starfleet. The ship is yours."
"On speaker," Joel ordered Uhura, as Kevin helped him back onto the chair.
One button press and over the speakers came: "... Passenger Transport Hudson, en–route to Earth: we are under atta... ...om an unknown shi... ...eed assistance! I repeat, this is the Passen...."
There was a burst of static that made Uhura pull her earphone out of her ear with a yelp, and then silence.
"Commander Scott," Joel called out over the comm, "I need all the speed from Slipstream that you can give me."
"Ye'll have it, Laddie!"
"Chekov, maximum speed to..." Joel looked at Kevin, who had gone quickly to Spock's science station.
"51 by 62 by –03," he called out.
"Roger," Chekov called. "Course laid in."
"Go!" Joel ordered. "Kevin, has the Enterprise got the upgrades my brother fitted?"
"That and what the Hood has," Kevin answered a moment later.
Joel slipped from his chair and ran over to join Kevin. His fingers started flying over the controls, feeding information down to Engineering. "If Uncle Scotty can't keep these readings in this narrow band, then I'm a jellyfish," he smiled as he gave Kevin's arm a squeeze. "Kev; look inside my head and use my memories to do this," he added, showing Kevin a few different codes he was inputting quickly.
Kevin, his eyes distant for a second, nodded. "Got it, love," he whispered.
Joel raced back to the Command Chair. "How long until we get to the Hudson?" he asked.
"Two minutes, thirty seconds," both Chekov and Kevin yelled back.
The small Vulcan looked over at John and Stephen, "Sorry, bros. I didn't expect this."
The two shit–eating grins he got back really didn't mesh with the seriousness of the situation – but then it wasn't every day you went to battle on the Flagship of the Federation! John sniggered and said, "I do hope your life insurance is paid up, Joel!"
"I'm not going to die," Joel said softly, with more force in his voice than John had expected from a joke. "Why'd you say that?" he asked, his eyes narrowing as he looked at the now startled John.
"Umm... 'cos my Mom'll kill you? Sorry, bro... it was just a..."
"Don't be sorry," Joel sighed. "You didn't know. I'll make sure Auntie Jen gets her baby Johnny–wonny back in one piece."
"Hey!" John protested as he blushed quickly. "Not that name, Joel! I hate her callin' me that!"
"'Johnny–wonny'?!" Stephen howled as he cracked up laughing.
While the two Hawaiian boys giggled and, in John's case, fought with a blush, Joel turned his attention back to the viewscreen.
He watched the counter move down to zero, and then the green–swirly mottling of the stars outside – caused by the Slipstream they were in – flashed out to be replaced by a scene that made his jaw drop open.
The Earth Transport was spinning around its z–axis in space, its running lights flashing off and on as power fluctuated inside. Circling her, and obviously finished with firing on her, was a ship the likes of which he had never seen nor read about before. In the back of his mind, he heard a faint growl, as if a giant beast was looking upon a mortal and hated enemy, and a single word came to his mind: z'Kath.
Who or what a z'Kath was, Joel had no idea, so he dismissed the feeling and the word quickly.
The ship was a colossus, easily two thousand feet across at its longest section; but what was most disturbing was that it seemed to be shifting shape, as if made of energy rather than matter.
"Kev? What do you make of it?" he called.
"Unknown, sir," Kevin answered quickly, going into a mindset that he had been taught by Kyle and the Double Js when they had trained him up on his telepathy. "No record of such a ship on the database."
Joel nodded at Uhura, "Open hailing frequencies."
"Done," she said, pressing a button.
"This is Captain Sa'ren of the USS Enterprise. Identify yourself and explain your unprovoked attack upon citizens of the United Federation of Planets!"
On the screen, the Colossus turned what Joel assumed was its bow to face the Enterprise and the fluctuations on its 'skin' seemed to increase. Over the speakers came a voice that sent a chill down everyone's spine; a voice like a breath of air over gravel at the entrance to a tomb. 'We are doom. We are death. Stand not before the Eldest of Ha'Threis; bow to us and your passing shall be swift. Fight, and we shall bring unknown torments upon you for aeons.'
Again, the back of Joel's mind started to growl, and an unknown, gutteral language started to pour out of the small boy's mouth.
The voice from the Colossus hissed over the comm. 'Vol'Kier... Jak'laran mas n'kana! You shall die before you unite with them, Child of Destiny!'
Joel's Armour appeared without warning, as, too, did the Sword of Sa'ren. The Sword hovered a foot off the floor before him, while his Armour snapped into place around him. The Crown on his head seemed to melt through the helm of the Armour to take its rightful place. "All hands, brace for impact," he called out as twin lances of plasma–fire hammered out from the Colossus to smash into the Enterprise' shields, nearly knocking Joel out of the chair.
"Shields down to 82%," Ensign Miller called from Firing Control. The ship shuddered again. "Make that 55%. We can't take too many of these, Captain!"
Kevin sprang into action with the information he had just gained from Joel's mind, and the screen phased blue as energy passed outside the ship. "Modulation is running, Sa'r!"
Ensign Miller nodded his head, "Shields back up to 89%," he smiled as the ship rocked slightly at a third blast from the Colossus. "Each hit is just taking of a percent or two, now."
"And now," Joel grated, "we fight back."
The Enterprise started moving fast, circling the Colossus, who seemed to match her movements with ease. Phasor fire and plasma–fire was traded evenly back and forth for a while before the Enterprise flickered into psudomotion as she lept to warp to appear off the opposite side of the Colossus. She opened up with aft torpedoes and phasors in a surprise move. They impacted upon the Colossus, causing small ripples to flow across the ship's skin.
"How are we doing?" Joel called back at Kevin.
Kevin sighed, "Minor fluctuations in what I think are their shields, but... Sa'r, I don't think we can do this alone. We're just not having much impact, even with the upgrades we have from the Hood."
"We have help on the way," Uhura said, as the Enterprise listed to port at yet another blast from the Colossus, "but they're coming from Wolf 359 and won't be here for another twenty minutes."
"We won't survive that long," Ensign Miller stated calmly from his station. "Shields now down to 45%."
"Working!" Kevin called, but after a moment of feverish work, he only managed 15% more power to the shields. "Fucking bastards!" he yelled as he was pitched into the console.
Joel looked sadly at John and Stephen. The smiles had left their faces by now, and they looked more than a little scared. They were here because of him, and he had led them to their deaths. John caught his eye, and he nodded. Just a single nod. It was enough for Joel, who felt so much pride inside for his younger friend.
Then he had an idea. He punched in a VSO code to his chair console while calling down to Engineering, "Uncle Scotty! Can you put these codes into the main computor for the phasors?"
As the ship bucked and heaved around him, Joel waited for Scotty to look over the notes. Then, "Aye, lad, but she'll never take the strain. We don' have the power nor the means."
Joel was looking at his Sword that was still hovering before him. "Yes we do," he whispered as he laid his hand on the Shattered Blade. "Sword of my Fathers, you know where to go and what to do."
/I obey/ the Sword said as it wavered, ripped the air around itself... and vanished.
Stephen had been staring unceasingly at the Sword, but when it disappeared he looked at Joel. "What was that, and where did that Armour come from?"
John smiled, "I'll tell you later, Baby. I saw that on Saturday."
Stephen nodded, before turning his white, scared face back to the viewscreen.
"Can you explain to me why I have a blasted SWORD hovering inside of the intermix chamber of the warp–core, and why am I reading a 500% increase in output, Joel?!" Scotty yelled up a second later.
Joel yelled back, "I'll explain later! Just get those codes put in, or we'll all die with my Sword's power!"
"Thirty seconds!" Scotty called back, not at all happy at having a piece of what he considered Iron Age weaponry floating in his 21st century engine.
"Not enough time," Ensign Miller called out as the ship gave a massive lurch to the side, "shields are about to fail..."
It was then that another ship appeared out of a green–blue elongated hole that had appeared in space. It slipped out of Quantuum Reality and appeared two hundred yards off the port bow of the Colossus...
... and fired what Joel thought was a reletively small house sized chunk of rock at the side of the enemy ship! It must have been traveling at some high percentage of the speed of light for it looked like a blur of motion as it travelled the short distance between the new ship and the Colossus.
When it hit, it exploded with such force that a concussion wave radiated out and back into the new ship as well as into the Enterprise, throwing everyone on the Bridge to the floor.
Amazingly, the enemy ship was still in one piece, but the rippling effect of the energy on the hull was haywire. It listed badly to one side, and the light of it started to dim and then brighten and then dim.
Pulling himself back onto his chair, Joel heard Scotty state that the coding for the phasors was ready. "Time on target!"
"Locked and ready!" Ensign Miller called back with a wolfish grin on his face.
The Colossus was hit on both starboard and port at the same time: the Enterprise hammered at it from one side while the new unknown ship that had come in to assist did the same with rapid fire projectiles on the other. The projectiles were very much smaller than that first 'house' that had been lobbed into the Colossus' side, but the combined firepower of the two ships did what the Enterprise alone could not do. Plus, the new energy flowing through the Enterprise from Joel's Sword was having some extreme effects on the skin of the enemy ship.
The Colossus started to move away, seeking a clear path out so that it could escape.
'We shall return. Now is not the time, but know this: your friends are dead, Son of Destiny. We will seek out their world and burn them with fire for this affront! no one fires with impunity at the Eldest of Ha'Threis!'
Then the Colossus did what Joel had never seen a ship do before – it changed shape. It became living; a white creature in space, borne on winds of solar power and vacuum. He knew what the creature was, but that was impossible. Eyes of blood fire seemed to peer at him through the viewscreen. 'Beware us, Destiny's Child – your worlds are doomed, and your Crown shall deminish...'
Then, in a burst of psudomotion, the white, beastial, colossal thing vanished.
"Was that a..." Ensign Miller started, but his lips went dry.
Kevin nodded slowly, "I think so..." He turned on Joel, "Okay! Explain that language you were speaking and why that... those... whatever they were! Why they seemed to know you!"
"I don't know, and we don't have time right now anyway," Joel answered softly. "Commander Uhura, any contact from the Hudson?"
"No, but I am reading weapons fire from inside – I think they've been borded," she answered quickly.
The Vulcan nodded, "Okay, well, open communications with our new 'friends'; I want to know who they are and what they fired just then! Also, get the security teams ready to beam over to the Hudson – we need to help them."
She nodded again, and pressed a button to initiate contact with the new ship, while at the same time contacting Security to assemble at the transporter rooms.
Joel turned to the screen, and said, "I am Sa'ren, Captain of the USS Enterprise. Thank you for your assistance; we were getting into a lot of trouble back then."
There was no answer from the new ship. Instead, it turned, blinked its lights a few times in what Joel recognised as Morse–Code, and then vanished back into Slipstream.
"Interesting," Joel said.
"What is interesting?" Stephen asked curiously.
Joel smiled, "They sent, 'You are Welcome, Sa'ren of Vulcan. Live long and prosper.' That means they know of my people, and they know of our customs. I think they are friends that we just don't know about yet."
"Oh," Stephen and John said together before shrugging.
Ensign Miller turned from his possition, "Interesting ship they have. Next to no shielding, but their hull is composed of a reinforced compound that I am not familier with; and they were using mass effect projectile weaponry. That says a lot about where they could be from."
"Like?" Kevin asked.
Joel answered, "A remote area of the galaxy, for one. Most mainstream peoples, those in contact with others to form a chain between one race and the next, tend to be on similar paths of technology. Shields, energy based weapons, etc. If you arose in a quiet area of space, however, you'd not likely have contact with that, and therefore what we've just seen would be one of many logical paths for technology to go down." He paused for a moment, "I'd not want to face them in battle; they would seriously make any fight a headache!"
Joel then turned to Kevin. "Come on," he said as his Sword appeared in his hand. "Let's get to the Hudson and find out what is going on. Our 'friends' are a mystery for another day."
"You're going nowhere without us," Mercury insisted as he and his twin, plus the two She–Cats, moved to join them.
"We're coming, too," Stephen and John said together, causing Joel to stiffen slightly.
It was bad enough that they had been here for a space fire–fight, but to take them into a hostile situation; that was quite another.
"We insist," John added, crossing his arms. "I'm not going to let you get hurt after everything you've been through."
With a sigh, Joel just pointed the way. There was no arguing with John when he got like this – he knew that very well from their shared experience of earlier that afternoon.
Joel turned to find that Chekov was standing by the turbolift with his arms crossed. "You might be Captain, Sa'ren, but you are CadetCaptain, and only temporary. I trusted you to fight the battle we have just survived, but boarding another vessel to rescue our people is another matter. You don't have the training..."
"Commander Chekov, I have been trained by the Commander of the Clan Special Forces Division, and I am a Captain in the UNIT," Joel said simply. "I am more than capable. You have the Bridge."
Chekov glanced at Uhura, who shrugged and quickly started checking the computors. After a few moments she said, "Confirmed. He is a Captain in the Unit, and therefore Clan Short and the Vulcan High Command recognise the rank."
With a sigh and a shake of his head, Chekov stood to one side to let Joel and the others past.
In the transporter room, Joel handed the phasors out to Kevin and the other two boys, and attached one to his waist where it seemed to click against the Armour he was wearing. His Sword rode easily on his back, attaching itself to the back of his Armour and to the cape that was tied against his belt to stop it getting in the way. "They are set to stun," he explained to John and Stephen, "and these two buttons control the two standard settings; stun and kill. The ones here don't worry about. This is the trigger; point the dangerous, glowie red end at a bad guy and push here and that's it... and no, not that type of glowie red end, Stephen; dirty mind your boyfriend has, doesn't he?" he added looking at John.
Helplessly blushing, John laughed, "Sorry, but it does glow red, ya know?"
Stephen squinted and playfully warned, "Be good, hon."
Bouncing his eyebrows, John sent, 'It wasn't only good, it was awesome, baby.'
"Sith," John sighed, shaking his head, "I'm surrounded by Sith. Even my hubby!"
"Well, we can't all be cute, green and delicious like you, Sa'r," Kevin grinned cutely as he turned and watched more Security personel enter the transporter room.
"..." Joel simply stared at Kevin, blushing bright green and with his mouth hanging open.
Chekov entered, "We have the beam in co–ordinates. Four teams, one fore, one aft and two in the centre. We need to secure the Engine Room and the Bridge as well as make sure the passengers and crew are protected. Captain, you three are going to the centre with the two middle groups: you should be safer there." Before Joel could protest, Chekov added, "I mean it, Sa'ren. You are my responcibility until we get back to Earth. I am not going to be torn in half by your father for letting you get hurt needlessly."
"Uncle Pav?" Kevin giggled.
Chekov looked at him with a raised eyebrow.
"Can I borrow your gun?" Kevin asked with a toothy grin.
Chekov went so far as to reach for a non–existant sidearm when he narrowed his eyes. Swearing in Russian, he aimed a kick at the seat of Kevin's pants, but the small imp was already scuttling for the transporter pad. "Just go before there's no one left to save," Chekov glowered, his eyes still fixed on the face of the laughing Kevin.
Joel nodded and got onto the pad with Stephen, John, the Cats and four other men and women. He kissed Kevin back to silence, then nodded at the other group of eight were waiting for the next cycle. "Energise," the small Vulcan commanded, and he and the rest vanished in a mist of transporter energy.
The first person Joel saw once he had materialized was one of the crewmen of the transport. He was crouched to one side of the corner where the corridor turned ninty degrees holding a type 3 phaser rifle in his hands. He blinked in shocked surprise at the help that had suddenly beamed in – not because Starfleet had come to aid them (they did that, you see – well known fact) but because four of the eight who had appeared were children.
"Uhhh... are you like those head case fuckers we have on board?" he asked uncertainly.
"Huh?" Kevin tilted his head to the side.
"Never mind that," Joel said with authority, "do you know the numbers, type and dispossition of the forces that have boarded you, crewman?"
The man gulped. This 'boy' certainly wasn't talking like a standard kid. "Yessir! About a dozen have beamed onboard. They seem human. We have them pinned down outside both the Bridge and Engineering, but three or four have broken from those locations to try taking hostages."
"Did they get any?" Kevin asked quickly.
"No... no, sir!" the man answered, noticing the 'commander' rank on Kevin's shoulder strap. "We have... three surprise guests that we picked up a few hours ago..."
"The 'head case fuckers' you mentioned?" Joel clarified as eight more security guards beamed in behind him.
"Yessir," the man nodded quickly, then ducked as a phasor blast followed by a disruptor whine and blast smote the wall near to his head. "SHIT! Yes... they are kids, younger than you, I think. Strong too... one of the boarders got himself ripped into pieces by them: one grabbed the guy's head, and the other two his legs – you do the math. Wasn't pretty. Anyway, when the attack started, all passengers as well as the three boys were taken to the most secure area of the ship – the armoury. It's not large, nor well stocked, but the most heavily shielded. When the boarders started through the ship, the thee kids ran out and fought them off."
"How far from here to where they are?" asked Joel.
"Down that corridor, passed the asshole shooting at us," the crewman spat, pointing over his shoulder towards the direction the phaser and disruptor blast had come from.
Joel nodded. "Stay here. We'll deal with this. Kev?"
"Head in the direction of the Bridge and meet up with the Bridge relief team Chekov sent in. Take Arti and Dite with you, and John and Stephen. Your morph will keep the lot of you safe. I'll go with these four plus the Cheetahs after the passengers, then head for Engineering to meet up with that team."
John's mouth hung open. "Wha... what about you? I'm not letting you go off alone, Joel!"
"I'll take half the squad we've brought with me, don't worry, John."
"Nuh huh. Stephen is going with Kev. I'm coming with you."
"I gave you a direct order, John," Joel insisted.
John shrugged, "I'm not Starfleet. So sue me."
Joel gave up and gestured for the crewman to get out of the way, "We'll take it from here."
"If you're sure," he grinned as he handed his rifle to Joel.
The Vulcan boy looked at the weapon, set it to stun, then slung it on his back to join the Sword. Poking his head around the corner quickly, Joel took a fast count of what they were up against. Phaser fire slammed into his face, but the shielding of his Fo'Wain Sa'ren negated it easily. He pulled himself back and gestured at Kevin, Stephen and his group to start heading to the Bridge.
John, however, was having kittens. So were the two cheetahs. "You... you got... how did...?"
"Let's just say, my Armour's that good, and leave it at that," Joel grinned before turning to the four security officers that had remained with him. "Two men, good cover and not much chance we can get to them without a lot of injuries."
"Beam passed them?" a woman offered.
"Nope. We Kataui them," Joel grinned through the helm of his Armour as he reached under the cape over his left shoulder and extracted his pet ball of fur.
One of the security men shrugged, "What the hell is a tribble going to do against them?"
Joel ignored him and looked at his pet. "Kataui. We are at war. Two targets down the corridor. We need you to get down there and take them out."
"Acknowledged." The tribble plopped from Joel's hand and rolled to the turn in the corridor. Her laser sighter poked out and around the corner to scan the area. "Toss me. Will be faster."
"You won't get hurt?" Joel asked cautiously as he picked up his little friend.
"Negative. Toss me... but not a word to the cookies!"
"You've been watching me and Juan's favourite film again, haven't you?" Joel sighed as he sprang around the corner and threw Kataui with all of his strength. "INCOMING BALL OF FUR! I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU, ARSEHOLES!" he yelled as more phaser and disruptor fire pinged harmlessly off of his chestplate.
John winced as screams of surprise turned into yells of anger, followed by squeals of pain and terror... then silence.
"Oh dear," Joel winced.
"What's wrong?" the security woman asked carefully.
Joel sighed, "I forgot to forbid her from eating the fallen... oops!"
Hermes shrugged. "Did you bring cookies for her dessert?"
"As long as John can make 'special sauce' for her, sure!" Joel added with a wicked smirk before turning down the corridor and retrieving his pet.
"It's on backorder!" John giggled with a rosy blush.
"No, let the ear go, Kataui!" they heard the small Vulcan command before the sound of something wet and soft plopped to the floor. "It's okay, you can come down now... if you're not squeemish, that is!" he called helpfully.
John and the four adults ran quickly over to Joel and looked at the mess. The tribble had managed to eat a surprising amount of dead person before Joel had stopped her, John thought to himself.
One of the officers pointed to a door, "The armoury, sir. I'm reading a large group of people in there." He shook his tricorder, "And three part humans, if I'm reading this thing right, and one of them is showing faint life signs."
Wasting no more time, Joel ran over to the door and pressed the button to open it. Sealed. He hit the comm, "This is Captain Sa'ren of the USS Enterprise; we're here to help. Check the monitors you should have in there; you'll see it's safe."
After a long moment, the door hissed open and a group of scared civillians were staring at the Armour clad Joel and the Starfleet Uniform garbed others. "Thank God!" a woman cried as she hugged her two year old child to her chest.
A man came over to them and asked, "Do you have any medical training? One of these boys has been hurt helping keep us safe – we don't know what to do to help him."
With a glance, Joel gestured for the two medically trained security officers to step over and help. The two cheetahs moved a little ways down the corridor to keep watch, so it was only Joel that got the first look at the three 'part–human' boys. With his Crown sight, he could only see things in azure blue shades, as well as the souls of living beings. Individual features were not as easy for him to see, but something about the three triplets before him was pulling at his memory. He tapped his comm, "Sa'ren to Enterprise – do you have a lock on the people in this room?"
"Aye, sir," Scotty answered, obviously now at the transporter controls of the main Transporter Room. "Reading three hundred and 21 life signs, not including yours or the landing party's. The other areas of the ship are still in the middle of fire fights, so transporting is out, but I can start with the civillians, kiddo."
"Do it," Joel ordered, "and the three with Lieutenant Bowerson," he added as one of the medics stayed with the triplets while the other moved back to stand by Joel and the rest.
"Aye, laddie. Taking the wee ones first," Scotty answered as the triplets and the medic, and three other kids vanished. Then some of the teenagers vanished, then a baby and mother did so. Obviously all of the Enterprise's transporter rooms were working as one.
Joel left them to it and started on towards Engineering.
Joel arrived at Engineering with just two of the remaining Security officers and his two Cat Guards, and they joined up with the group that had been asigned to clear that part of the ship. "Where's the enemy?" Joel called as he slid over to join the Lieutenant Commander in charge.
"They've broken into part of Main Engineering, sir," the man answered, "they're pinned down from both the Core and us. But they could easily get the engine core from where they are, so we don't want to rush them. Weren't there others with you, sir," the Commander asked as he looked around.
"Yes, but our remaining medic stayed back there to help one of the Hudson crewmembers, and my friend stayed with him to help. How many do you have here?" Joel asked quickly.
"Only three. I think we're looking at no more than ten boarders, sir."
"A crewman I passed back there said there were a dozen," Joel reported, his eyebrow's narrowing.
"What crewman?" the security commander asked in shock. "They've all been forced here or to the Bridge – they got the passengers to safety, then did what they were trained for! Hold the Bridge and Engineering! Who was this, Captain, and where?"
Joel's face paled, however, as he turned in the direction of the Bridge – an enemy was behind them somewhere, and either John, Stephen or Kevin could pay the price for that mistake.
"Pass me the regenerator," the medic asked John as he held a compress against the open wound of the injured man on the deck. John grabbed the item he believed was right, and thankfully his guess was on the money for the medic grabbed it quickly and started to seal up the bleeding wound.
"Anything else?" John asked, his voice strained as he kept his phaser drawn and his eyes locked on the door towards the corridor to Engineering. The other door in the meeting room they had taken refuge in was behind him and he felt he was safe from that direction as they had already come from there. Further back that way was Kevin, Stephen and their security group, which should have joined up with the group that was to render aid to the Bridge.
The medic shook his head, "No, this is bad but not critical. I'll have this young lady stabilized for transport in a few minutes."
Before John could breathe a sigh of relief, he heard a foot fall from behind him. He spun around to see the crewman that had been there when they first beamed in. "Hi! Is there anything wrong?" he asked quickly.
"Of course there is," the crewman smiled, holding himself easily with a phaser held carelessly in his hand. "You came to help these fools, but we had already worked out various strategies. I'm glad my brothers were able to distract you with their 'attempts' on my life – made my job so much the easier."
John's eyebrows furrowed. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Of course not," the man said as he continued to smile coldly at him, "you're nothing but a child playing hero. You'll be a nice pet back on Alpha."
Before John could do anything else, the man raised his phaser and fired at him.
John's reflexes were good, but not that good. The beam was set on high and to fine, and it burned a line across the boy's right upper arm as it hammered passed and into the leg of the medic behind him. The pain was incredible and the scream from John was loud and long.
Or was it?
It was instinctive. As John was falling to his left, his right arm feeling like it was on fire and a scream of pain, fear and rage ripping itself from his throat, his still managed to raise his phaser.
John's aim was sure, and his stun took the intruder directly to the chest. He got slammed back three feet into the wall and slid down it, unconscious.
At the same time, John slammed into the deck, his left shoulder taking the worst of the impact, bringing another scream from the boy. He fought through the pain coming from both arms and turned to the medic, who was crumpled next to the injured Hudson crewman that they had been helping. "You okay?" he called over as he staggered to his feet. He dashed tears of pain from his eyes as he managed to get to them, only to see that the medic was painfully trying to right himself and get up.
"My leg's useless for now," he hissed through his teeth, "hopefully Doctor Chapel can repair the damage. Where's that regenerator? It fell! I have to save this man and... what's that?"
John turned at hearing what the medic had. The wall of the room, the bulkhead to space itself, was groaning. It had been making wierd little noises since they had taken shelter in the meeting room, but now the noise was different.
"OUT! GET OUT!" the medic yelled as he started to pull his patient towards the door.
John tried to stumble after him, but the pain from his arms was radiating down his entire body and his mind was swimming. Why was he even running? He didn't know. He fell against the internal wall of the room, and a panel opened, revealing wires and support structure and bars behind.
Then the hull began to collapse and open the room to the vacuum of space...
In Engineering, Joel and his team had taken out the three enemies that had been there. Joel had tried for simply stunning them, but getting an aim on any was a problem and he wasn't about to kill to achieve his ends.
Kataui had no such problem, however, as her small but powerful weapon bore holes through non–critical machinery to vaporise the three invaders. Not before one of them managed to get a shot off in the direction of the Warp Engines, however.
Thankfully they missed the intermix chamber and the antimatter storage units, but one of the main cooling conduites was now venting plasma. The Hudson was headed for a core–breach.
As he worked at the controls with the uninjured members of the Hudson Engineering crew, Uhura informed him of the arrival of three starships from Wolf 359 to assist. Then, as more engineers and security forces were beaming in around him in Main Engineering, he received a message from Stephen that the Bridge was retaken, and Kevin had been hurt but not seriously.
Of John, there was no sign or word and Joel had no idea if he was okay or not.
The alarm to signal a hull breach raised the fear in him that maybe – just maybe – his little tour for his Hawaiian friend had just cost John his life...
The air in the room John was in, which was at a nice fifteen pounds per square inch of pressure, decided that it had had enough of being inside the starship and wanted to see what life was like the other side of the hull.
Which meant, of course, that it vacated the room through the small yet growing breach in the hull.
Now, fifteen pounds might seem a small amount, but pressure is force over area. Increase the area, you increase the force and thereby increase the pressure.
The breach in the hull was about two foot square, give or take.
Physics, having nothing what so ever to do with 'playing fair', remained a constant.
The air from the room hammered out of the breach with a massive 8640 pounds per two foot square of pressure.
Thankfully, John had managed to hook his hurting left arm around a bar in the freshly opened wall, as well as grab onto what looked like thick, solidly fixed wires. He still felt himself getting sucked towards the currently small but growing breach. To his horror, was helpless to stop the medic and the injured crewman from being sucked forward – or was he?
Reaching out with his mind, he grabbed a hold of both the crewman and the medic and held them down on the ground, negating the forces of physics which, by this point, were demanding in no uncertain terms that being outside of the space craft was now in vogue.
John even tried reaching out to hold the betraying enemy that he had stunned, but in doing so felt himself loosing his hold on the Starfleet medic and the innocent member of the Hudson crew. He just had to choose, so he let the invading 'crewman' go and closed his eyes.
Good thing, too, for watching a six foot one inch 180 pound man get sucked through a fairly small hole by those types of pressures is not something one would want to see before a large lunch. Or at any time, really.
Just as the last of the air was going, John felt his left arm dislocate. He would have screamed, but the air that he had been trying to hold in his lungs had already been 'sucked out' by the vacuum he was in. His eyes were suddenly dry and he found he could not blink at all. Panic filled him as he felt the artificial gravity of the ship regain control from the laws of physics. He looked at the crewman and medic he had just saved and saw the medic try to crawl towards the door.
His heart hammering in his chest and the veins at his neck feeling about ready to rupture, John struggled in that direction too. The medic, his badly injured leg unable to help, fell over and pointed at the wall by the door. John just made it as his eyesight started to fade.
'Hold on!' he told himself, as fear mixed with pain hammered through him. He could see the buttons the medic was pointing at and, as his sight went totally, he brought his hand down on them both.
Then he fell over as consciousness fled.
"Wakey wakey, Johnny–wonny!"
John scrunched his face up in distaste at the name. "MOM! I told you not to call me that!" he grouched moodily as he kept his eyes shut tight. He had had such an odd dream, and he really didn't want to go to school today after it. Dreams of sucking on vacuum and being shot at by insane humans on a starship that was as fucked up as the Titanic wasn't what he had ordered from the Sand–Man, after all.
A voice giggled. No, make that three voices giggling. John cracked open his eyes to see Stephen, Joel and Kevin looking down at him. Kevin had a red mark across his forehead, and had a wicked black eye going, but otherwise he seemed fine. John glowered at them, "Don't like that name..."
"That's okay," Stephen giggled, "we do!"
Poking his tongue out at his boyfriend, John struggled to sit up and look around. "Where are we?"
"Terra Main," Joel smiled. He glanced around himself, then looked back at his young friend, "You've been out cold since we found you."
John reached up and rubbed at his left shoulder, and found that his left arm was in a sling. "What happened?"
"After you saved the transport, or before?" Kevin asked with a smile.
"Me?! What did I do? I only stunned that... that lying bastard who tricked us, not..."
"That lying bastard had a small antimatter bomb strapped to him. When you let him get spaced, the bomb got through the breach unharmed and was detected and retrieved by the Enterprise," Joel explained. "We think he was going to do a suicide bomb run of the Engine Core, but thankfully, you stopped him, first! Admiral Morrow and Admiral Kirk are well pleased with you..."
Kevin elbowed Joel in the ribs lightly, causing his alien husband to giggle, "Don't forget your heroics in Engineering, Baby!"
Joel simply grinned modestly. He carried on explaining to John and ignored what Kevin had said, "You saved Ensign Howard and Crewman Jefferson, and then repressurised the area you were in. I'm amazed, John."
John grinned shyly. "I didn't know what the buttens would do; I just hit them as... Ensign Howard?" Joel nodded, so John continued, "I just hit what he was pointing at. It hurt, Joe... it really hurt."
Joel just nodded seriously. "Yeah, I guess it would. Still, you did what no one without training could have done, and that's amazing, bro."
John sighed and flopped back on the biobed that he was on, nursing his aching shoulder. "Why didn't the new air that would have come in also blow outta the hole in the wall?" he asked curiously as he rubbed at his shoulder.
Kevin explained, "The air wasn't completely gone from that room or the corridor outside it, John; shielding managed to cut in but still, it wasn't enough for you to breathe or anything. The shields kept the new air in."
John nodded again, then asked, "Can I have some pain killers?"
A Vulcan nurse came over on hearing this. "Young man, take this," he said simply as he handed a small drink to the boy.
John chugged it down fast, then his face paled. "Oh GOD, that was disgusting! What was that?"
"Medicine," the Vulcan said, raising his eyebrow. "It is not meant to taste pleasing, just do its job."
"Urgh!" John whined. Then he looked at Joel, "Why didn't the biobed completely heal my arm?"
Joel answered, "Because it doesn't need to. That would take longer, and use up more of your body's reserves – and you're not exactly a rolly–polly, John, and the docs here wouldn't want you weakened just to heal you up beyond what was needed. Your phaser wound was the most serious, and that's dealt with. Your left arm was dislocated, but that has been strengthened. It'll still hurt for a day or two, though. Same for your throat."
John raised his hand to his neck, and then realised that he'd been rasping when taking. "Oh... that don't hurt. Why?"
The Vulcan nurse answered, "You are still in shock. The pain from your arm would be more than the minor irritation you received when you tried to hold your breath in a vacuum. That is currently hidden."
"Oh... okay," John croaked as he sat up and dangled his legs off the end of the bed.
"Come on, get dressed," Joel giggled as he tossed John's Starfleet jacket at him. "Admiral Morrow wants to see us."
Once dressed, John followed the other three boys out of the Medical Centre and down a corridor, where they were met by the four G–Cats. They all entered a Turbolift and Joel commanded it to go to the command centre. On the way up, Stephen filled John in on the adventure that he and Kevin had had on the way to the Bridge, including the screen that had exploded next to Kevin's head after being thrown by one of the invading humans. "I zapped him good. He went up in a puff of smoke!"
"You had your phaser set to kill?" John asked in awe.
"Uh huh! Those bastards were trying to kill us, so I don't care!" Stephen replied proudly. "I saved Kevin. That's what counts!"
Kevin smiled and patted Stephen on the back just as the doors of the lift opened onto the command centre of Terra Main. As they left the lift, they saw the Commander of all of Starfleet standing nearby with Admiral Kirk. John and Stephen's mouths dropped open. Admiral Kirk? Here?
John felt his knees go a bit weak, and it was nothing to do with the hurting shoulder this time.
"Ah, the heroes of the hour," Kirk said as he turned in their direction. "I've finished reviewing the logs of your rescue of the Hudson, boys, and I agree with Admiral Morrow – you deserve some recognition for what you just pulled off."
Morrow took up where Kirk had left off, "As of this time, I hereby promote Cadet Ensign Sa'ren Short to the full rank of Commander. Also, Cadet Ensign Kevin Thompson is raised in rank to full Lieutenant Commander. John Hundser and Stephen Marr; I hereby grant you the ranks of full Lieutenants in Starfleet for your heroic actions this day."
As all four boys tried and failed to pick their jaws up from the floor, Kirk added to it. He turned and picked up a box from the table the two men were by, "Lieutenant Stephen Marr, for your actions, I am pleased to award you with the Starfleet Command Commendation for Conspicuous Gallantry and The Legion of Honor. Wear them with pride, Lieutenant."
He opened the box and Admiral Morrow took out two medals, which he fastened to the blushing boy's jacket top.
"Lieutenant Commander Thompson," Kirk continued, looking now at Kevin, "I award you with Starfleet Command Commendation for Conspicuous Gallantry, The Legion of Honor and the Starfleet Purple Heart. Wear them with honour."
It was then Kevin's turn to have three medals placed on his chest. His eyes were filling with tears as Morrow added the last of them; he was now decorated five times over, far more than most eleven year olds would ever hope to achieve by that age.
"Lieutenant Hundser," Kirk smiled at John, who gulped. "I am proud to award you with the Starfleet Distinguished Service Medal, Starfleet Silver Lifesaving Medal, Starfleet Purple Heart, and... the Medal of Valor. This is our second highest award for military action, John. You have earned it."
John was in tears as these medals were fixed to his chest by Commander of Starfleet.
"Finally, to my Godson, Sa'ren of Vulcan, Commander in the Crew of the Enterprise – I award the Starfleet Distinguished Service Medal, the Starfleet Silver Lifesaving Medal and also the Medal of Valor. I am so very proud of you, Commander," Kirk whispered at the last as he handed the box to Admiral Morrow and personally fixed the three medals to the front of Joel's jacket. Then he placed a kiss on Joel's forehead...
... to Joel, that kiss was the greatest of all awards his hero and godfather could have ever given him.
While Morrow gave then two newly minted Starfleet Lieutenants a tour of the command areas of Terra Main, Joel and Kevin stood with Kirk and just watched the various monitors and viewers in the main room they were in. One was showing the location of all Fleet ships in all four hubs of the Federation, although Joel knew that for the distant three hubs, these were projections of known courses and locations only. The distances were too great for a live showing, after all; with the technology they had at present in the Federation at any rate. He smiled to himself at the developements he and the others had made while on the Knowledge Planet, Archnania. Some of them might be funnelled out to the benefit of the races of the Federation, once Cory was ready.
Or he could finally put down on blueprints the knowledge he held and give them to Admiral Morrow. Just to see if a grown man could publically shit himself, anyway, he grinned more to himself. While Cory had told him to keep what he'd already shared with his big brother secret, there was an overriding order inside of him by the Guardian; his knowledge was for when he deemed it ready to tell.
But for now, he kept his peace.
"Uncle Jim, can I ask you something?" Kevin asked after a few moments had passed.
Kirk smiled, "Sure."
"Why did you give us these ranks? I'm not experienced enough to be a lieutenant commander. I don't think I'm even old enough..." the small brown haired boy asked worridly.
"Can you tie your own shoelaces?" Kirk asked with a small grin.
Kevin blinked, while Joel sniggered quietly. "Sure I can," Kevin answered, not understanding the complete change in topic.
"Well then, in my personal opinion, you are more qualified to be an officer than ninety percent of the Admirals in the fleet!" Kirk replied, his smile getting wider. "Some of them can't even see their shoes, not to mention the concept of a bow being well above their thought processes."
While Joel broke into peels of laughter, Kevin narrowed his eyes. He muttered, "I'm serious. I don't think I'm ready. Sa'r probably is, but even so, he's still young to be a full Commander. What right do we have to outrank so many people who've gone through the acadamy, proven themselves on starships... everything?"
"I was serious, too. If you don't believe me, ask Bones." Kirk replied. He grinned as Kevin's eyes narrowed even more, and knew that an eleven year old having a major wobbler in Terra Main's command room wouldn't be a good thing. "You've passed all the tests we threw at you, Kevin. You and Joel both. Jude too. You've 'passed out' already, even without the years in the acadamy. Sure, there are some areas you've only read about and not put into practice, and others that you've not covered; that is why you are both asigned to the Enterprise. I am now your mentor, and will begin your training once I am sure you are both ready for it, and when you come to me to begin it. The rank would have been awarded to you just on the final results we had from those simulator tests yesterday, just not until you had come forward as ready to join the Fleet.
"It was the events today that pushed that forward. Not only did you 'pass out' with the tests you performed you have also earned a 'field promotion' due to your actions on the Enterprise and the Hudson. You are a Lieutentant Commander, and you earned it. I will now endevour to train you up completely to fulfil that role, and since the Enterprise is on detatched duty under my command, you do not have to worry about affecting the Fleet if you make a mistake while learning. The same for Joel. He has earned being Commander," Kirk finished.
While Kevin mulled over, what he had just been told, Joel grinned up at his godfather. "I wouldn't have said no to being a captain, Unk!"
"You're already a captain, twice over, imp," Kirk chuckled as he tickeled the boy's ribs lightly, "thrice over would have made your head swell."
Kevin grinned briefly, "His head swells enough already, thanks... oh, sorry! Wrong 'head'!"
"Kev!" Joel spluttered.
"Sa'r!" Kevin giggled.
"Boys!" Kirk gave up before laughing at them.
Those officers and crew around them who had heard this exchange chuckled quietly as both boys shot the Admiral dirty looks.
Leaving John and Stephen with Kirk and Morrow, Joel and Kevin went off in search of the rescued passengers and crew from the Hudson. The transport ship had been towed into Spacedock by the three Starfleet ships that had arrived to assist the Enterprise, allowing the Enterprise to make a full Slipstream jump directly to Earth with the rescued people.
More specifically, Joel was interested in seeing the three boys that had helped the crew of the Hudson after the initial assault had taken place by the invading men.
Things were not as good as he had hoped, once he and his equally miniature husband got to the Medical Centre, for while two of the three boys were awake and seemingly fit and healthy, the group of medics, doctors and nurses around the third's biobed was a sign that things were not well. Joel walked up to Doctor Chapel, who had beamed over with the three from the Enterprise. "What's wrong?" he asked with concern.
Christine Chapel sighed heavily and answered, "Extensive phaser damage to his nervous system. If he was a normal human, he'd be dead already, but even with his healing ability he's fading."
Joel's face scrunched up in thought, "What's his biology like?"
Chapel handed him her tricorder. "See for yourself."
He did so, his tongue sticking out of the side of his mouth as he concentrated. He'd seen a DNA reading such as this before, when he had pranked Adam and Logan after the training in the Tardis. He glanced over at Kevin who nodded at him. "They are identical to Adam," Kevin whispered so as not to let the other two hear him.
"I can see that," Joel whispered back before looking again at the tricorder. "That wasn't a normal phaser that hit him, I can tell you that, as well. It's still affecting his cells, stopping them from regenerating properly."
Doctor Chapel added, "The biobed is keeping him from dying for now, but I project less than an hour left. There's nothing we can do."
The two uninjured boys looked over with tears in their eyes. One said, "Thank you for trying."
The other added, "Seth would thank you, if he could..."
Joel blinked at him, the mist from his eyes turning paler in his sorrow. Then he looked down at the recumbent form on the biobed. "Screw this," he snapped as he called his Armour to him. It snapped in place around him and he walked to the head of the biobed. Laying his hands on the forehead and scalp of the dying child he whispered, "I won't let you die, Seth. That is not your destiny."
Kevin shivered, and smiled as he recognised what was happening. The other two of the triplets looked at each other as they could feel something running up their spines.
Joel's Armour glowed slightly. "Be healed, Seth; and come back to us," Joel ordered, causing the Armour to glimmer all the more.
A sweet, bell–like tone vibrated the room.
The doctors all stared at the biobed's readings as they leveled off, and the nurses gathered held their collective breaths.
Seth's eyes popped open and he gasped. His eyes sought and found Joel's mist–power ones. "Who are you?" he whispered hoarsely as his two brothers pounced over with cries of joy.
"Your new friend," Joel smiled back as he petted the smaller boy's hair. "More, if you'll have me. I like you. I think I'll keep all of you."
Kevin rolled his eyes and chuckled. "Adam is not going to be happy if you steal his brothers before he can get a chance to meet them, Sa'r!"
"We, not just me, lover," Joel grinned back over.
"Oh, involve me as well! Cool!" Kevin laughed harder.
"Keep us?" Abel said with a grin. "We're not pets..."
"Nope, you're our sons if you want," he answered. "You're eight years old, right?"
"Yup," Abel smiled.
Cain nodded, his eyes narrowing slightly. "Sons? Yeah, right – What are you realy going to do with us?"
"Tickle you, maybe," Joel grinned, "but otherwise, just what I said; if you want it, that is. What you do is really now up to you, guys. You've even got blood family on Earth, if you want to meet them and stay with them instead."
Cain hissed in his breath. "I knew it. You're working with that bastard who sent us to be tortured for so long, ain't ya!" he raged as he jumped off the biobed and got into Joel's face.
To his surprise, Joel didn't back away. He blinked at him from two inches away and asked, "I would imagine you're talking about the late General Adams?"
"Yeah, I am, you... wait..." Cain trailed off as he took a step back.
"The late?" Seth asked as he struggled to sit up with Abel's help.
"As in dead?" Abel added as he hugged his brother.
Joel nodded. "Yup! Quite, from what I've been told."
"So... this family you're on about..." Cain started.
"Your brother, and all the others from the Genesis Project; and Clan Short, in which your brothers and sisters are now a part."
Abel opened his mouth but nothing came out. Seth found his voice first, "Brother?!"
"Yeah," Joel nodded as he raised his hands and ran them over Cain's face. "Sorry, but other than what my Crown shows me, I can't see you. I'm blind. Ah," he murmured as he felt Cain's features, "looks like we're right. Your big brother – Adam Casey."
"Who?" all three chorused.
Joel drew in his breath and held it for a moment, then let it out slowly. "You're clones. Triplet clones, going by the DNA readings I just looked at. The person that the Genesis guys took your donated DNA from is one of my brothers, the leader of the group called the UNIT. That is the group where all the Genesis Project people have grouped together."
Abel was nodding his head slowly as he slipped from the bed to join his stunned brothers. "I kinda guessed we weren't normal kids," he said slowly. "Our memories only go back to when we were five. We've got perfect memories, so why don't we remember anything before? Well, being Clones kinda fits," he finished. "But we never even heard of this 'Genesis Project'."
"That's not surprising," Joel said simply. "If you've been sent off world, I doubt General Adams would have given you more information than he would have wanted loose. Being genetically enhanced clones would be enough information."
"So we're double freaks?" Cain asked, tears beginning to appear in his eyes.
"Oh, no! No, no, no," Joel said seriously as he reached and pulled the smaller boy into a hug. "You're not the only ones who are clones. Nor the only ones different, like your DNA suggests. You're real people, just like me, no matter what was done to your genetics."
Cain stiffened for a moment, but he felt a warmth in Joel's arms, and just surrendered to the hug.
"Are you sure?" Seth asked, his own face pale and filled with doubt.
Kevin moved over to join them, "Yes, we are. See those four Cats over ther?" he asked, pointing out of the window to where the two She–Cats and Cheetahs were watching with their mouths on their chests in shock. "They are Genesis too, only far different from you. They are NOT freaks either. We're all Clan, and we'll make sure you're loved and cared for. We're family."
"We have no family," Abel said. "We don't know this Adam, nor do we know you. Only 'father', that scum sucking bastard, was our family... and now he's dead and we don't have the privilage of killing him."
Kevin continued to smile, "I felt the same when I was rescued, but I found more than just a family. I found a reason, a purpose. Stay with us. Try and see if we're telling the truth."
"You'll never be hurt like you were before; not while you're with us," Joel said as he released Cain from his arms.
"How do you know...?" Seth started, but Joel pointed at Kevin.
"I'm telepathic, like you," Kevin smiled. "I just took a look in all your heads and then sent it all to Sa'r."
"Sa'r?" Seth cocked his head to the side.
"Me," Joel giggled. "Sa'ren Joel Short."
A moment of silence, and then Cain asked suspiciously, "Is that why we have headaches? You scanned us?"
Kevin shook his head, "Nope. I think you need to see Levi... or Jason... you're changing..."
At that, Levi appeared along with Quint. "Been looking for you everywhere! What have you been up to, Joel?!" Levi giggled as he took in their uniforms – which were now with white undershirts rather than red – and new medals.
"Explain later," Joel smiled. "Can you check our three new friends out? Kevin thinks you or Jason might be needed – so I gather they are possibly N–Gen."
Levi nodded before reaching and pulling the nearest triplet, Seth, over. Seth started to protest, but when Levi's eyes lit up and glowed purple, Seth thought better of continuing with his protests.
"Yeah, they are. That was some fight to get off that base, guys," he grinned. "Get on the bed and I'll sort you out. Then you're going to Jason for trianing."
"Who's he?" Cain asked, still suspicious.
Joel giggled. "Another of my brothers."
Seth turned his head to look at Joel, as if wanting to be with him rather than the strange purple eyed kid who was now pushing him back onto the biobed.
"I like them," Abel giggled. "I'd like to be kept by them... what's your name anyway?" he asked Kevin. "I guess this boy with the eyes is Levi, but... you are?"
"I'm Kevin," Kevin giggled. "I think I agree, Joel. Shall we have three more kids?"
"Kids?" Cain grumbled as Levi tossed him up onto the bed to join his brothers. "Wow! How'd you...?"
"Hush," Levi giggled. "And sleep!"
They fell asleep between one thought and the next.
"Evil," Kevin giggled as he tickled Levi. "So, how was your trip?"
"Good. Apart from a little side trip to get Cory and Xain – which we'll get done in a few minutes – me and Quint are done there, now. We'll just have to wait to see if anything comes of it." Levi then moved over and looked at the triplets. They started to glow purple as Levi worked on their minds. "There," he said after a few moments. "Done. Jace can train them up and then they'll be fine. Ummm... Joe?"
"Yeah?" Commander Joel giggled.
"If you and Kev adopt them, could I be a poppa too?" Levi asked cutely.
Kevin shrugged, "You're already a poppa to our kids, or soon will be going by the card I saw Rafe making before we left for Hawaii. Why not?"
The picture of happiness on Levi's face was priceless. He might not be able to bond with either of these boys due to Joel's inability to match him as an energy being, but any time spent with either of them was all he could wish for. Being a 'pop' to the tribe of kids Joel and Kevin had already collected was more than just a bonus to that.
"Before we make any decisions, we're going to have to ask these three what they want – AND tell Adam that he has three clone brothers. That is going to be fun – not!" Joel said seriously. "Okay, Levi. Wake them up, then we can go back to Hawaii and let John and Stephen's moms know what we just did!"
It was then that the four shocked cats came into the room and all started asking questions at once as to why there were three Adam Casey lookalikes asleep on the biobed...
Very interesting chapter!
I was glad to see the triplets rescued and doing their own rescuing, to boot. That was great.
I wonder who or what those beings in that strange ship were. They were definitely not pleased to be so totally defeated. I suspect we will see them again. I guess that the people who boarded the Hudson were from the colony that Enterprise sent supplies to, but I am only guessing about that.
I am sure that Adam is going to be surprised to see that he has three clone brothers.
I am positive there will be more fallout about all this, but, of course, we will just have to wait and see what happens next.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher