Hearts Across Space

Chapter Eleven – Activation What, Who?

Author's Note:

This chapter brings all the timelines into sync; from now on, other than flashbacks, the timelines will be at the same time. Some scenes in this chapter are inspired by 'Tears of Blood' by Alan Smithee AKA Dan Kirk.

Author's Note:

Some of the weaponry disclosed in this chapter is inspired by David Weber's Honor Harrington Series. However, the majority of the weaponry is from The Starship Primordial Pioneer ~ Stryker Class from an upcoming story by Sean Patrick Alexander, and is used with his permission.


 

Flashback:

 

Addendum for Marshal Castellano: 'S'ean's Companion's' have been militarized and all members' last names have been changed to Castellano for security reasons. 'The Companion's' are on Detached Duty assigned to planet Maxellus and may not be reassigned except by direct order of Grand Marshal Castellano. Mission to protect and assist Archon S'ean Castellano.

******

End Addendum] Blue "PS" sigil appears on screen and then fades into nothingness.

******

End Flashback


Seeing S'ean's utterly confused look the Commander quickly handed him a Data Xtal.

"This should explain things to your satisfaction Commander."

"I will view this as soon as we have been settled in our quarters. Is there someone who can guide us to them?" S'ean inquired of the Commander.

As S'ean finished answering his question another voice interrupted and answered it instead of the Commander.

"Commander you are dismissed I will personally escort Commander Castellano and his 'Companions' to their assigned quarters. I was going that way anyway as their quarters are in Strike Commando Territory."

"But that is not what my orders say Commodore Skywriter," was the thoroughly confused Commander's response.

"I know what your orders say, Commander... I have rewritten them as Commander Castellano and his 'Companions' will be going through a refreshing course with Death Squadron. He and his 'Companions' are now unofficially attached to my squadron and will always be considered part of it. I can have Vice Marshal Andreas or Grand Marshal D'avid confirm my orders if you would like."

"That won't be necessary Commodore, but where am I supposed to house the children..." Whatever the Commander was going to say was immediately cut-off by Lt. Cmdr. Akeentia who had just arrived.

"I don't see any children; all I see are Junior, Death Squadron Members. And their housing is also arranged. As to anything else Commander, your Security Clearance isn't high enough to know about. In fact, the Death Squadron Members you called 'children' have far higher Security Clearances than you. Theirs is even higher than mine and Commodore Skywriter's; now why don't you go back to your office and push some papers around. "

"Thank you for your assistance Commander, I have your contact information and if there is anything you can help us with, I will contact you," A'lexii informed the now embarrassed Commander in an effort to smooth things over.

"Uncle Akeentia, why did you interrupt that man, we could have handled him?" L'ogen asked the Lt. Cmdr.

LCDR Akeentia laughingly replied, "L'ogen and C'obi, I know that both of you could have taken care of the LCDR, but I wanted to keep you two as my 'Secret Weapon'".

"Oh no, why did you have to say that, you have probably created two monsters." A'lexii cried as he tried to hide behind S'ean, who was having none of that.

S'ean pushed A'lexii in front of him and then asked;

"A'lexii how could you say such a thing about our two wonderful sons?"

L'ogen and C'obi responded by running up to S'ean and hugging him while saying;

"Thank you, Daddy S'ean, we love you." The two 'imps' then turned and went after their 'brother' now Dad. "A'lexiiiiiiiiiiiiii, we gonna get you, you be mean to us. Dion help us catch A'lexii."

Dion just quickly grabbed C'obi and threw him over his shoulder, while Patrick did the same thing to L'ogen.

"Now that everything is under control let's be on our way to our quarters." Commodore Skywriter announced and then led the way.

 

That same day at a secluded Geminiian Interstellar Fleet Space Force location:

The IF Intelligence Team along with a few from "PS" were debriefing the Technician who had observed his outpost being destroyed. The team was adding his information about the Planet Ship to what they had already learned from the Shuttle Crew and the Strike Ship Crew; that they had already debriefed. Those crews had been sent to Maxellus under guard; they had also been instructed not to speak of what they had seen to anyone, and 'anyone' was stressed under the severest penalties allowed. The commander of the shuttle had been given a Secure Data Xtal to give to LCDR S'ean Castellano. The orders contained on the Xtal put both crews under the orders of LCDR Castellano and his team.

It had been decided by the investigating team the Technician should have his commission reactivated; since he was still on the Active Duty Rolls that was a mere formality, and that he be assigned to either Grand Marshal Castellano or Vice Admiral A'ndreas' commands. The third option under consideration was that he be assigned to Commodore Patrick Castellano and "Project Argonaut". If that option was chosen it would be up to Patrick to worry about the hierarchy within 'The Companions'. Of course, since all of 'The Companions' including the 'imps' had higher security clearances than anyone on the Investigating Team that wouldn't be much of an issue. The only 'fly in the ointment' to speak of was the fact that just about now LCDR S'ean Castellano would be reading his new orders which included his promotion to Commander; it would also be the next morning before Patrick would get swept away to join his new 'father'.

The Technician who was now known as Lieutenant Arnie Skiles was busy providing a wealth of information to the Investigating Team. Not only had his Data Xtals provided much needed information about "the scourge" but his memory under careful questioning contained more information than he was aware of. Lt. Skiles was totally amazed that his subconscious had calculated not only the speed that items were traveling but the amount of material being transported.

 

Meanwhile, back on The Argonaut:

The Mil/Civ Governing Council was in the middle of deciding how to go about picking the Permanent Director or Co-Directors; when they received orders putting The Argonaut on Active Duty Status immediately. Along with the orders they also received notification that Patrick Castellano with his rank of Commodore now ratified would be arriving in a few days. He would be joined several days later in route by Commander Castellano and the remaining 'Companions'. The Mil/Civ Governing Council decided to put off picking the Co-Directors until such time as they could discuss the issue with Commodore Castellano who would be resuming complete control again of The Argonaut and "Project Argonaut".

When Council finally had time to read the remaining orders after they had finished announcing that The Argonaut was now on active duty and that preparations for movement should commence. They were surprised that not only was "The Tommy" joining them but the GSF Haven and five of its sister ships.  "The Tommy" would also be joined by five of its sister ships. The six necessary Dreadnoughts would be joining them as soon as they had finished their abbreviated shakedown cruises. The Dreadnoughts had just been released from several different shipyards and had seen several design changes implemented during construction. The design changes were from not only the FAC Project but from "Project Argonaut" as well.

The new class of Dreadnoughts named the "Alexander Class" had not only updated armaments, ECM and shielding; but they had a completely new design of engines as well. Not only that; but the complete infrastructure of the ship had been redesigned as well. The midship area where the Boarding Tube was attached was so strongly built that it could tow a good size asteroid by itself and not flex a bit. The "Alexander Class Dreadnoughts" were designed from the ground up specifically for "The Argonaut Project"; they could also be used alone as necessary as the exigencies of the GSF decided. All the new ships assigned to "The Argo" except for the Dreadnoughts had been assigned above and beyond "The Argo's normally assigned complement". 'The Argo's' normal complement was being rushed to the rendezvous spot at flank speed. The normal complement for "The Argo" was as follows:

  • Dreadnoughts–8 to 12
  • Battle Cruisers–6
  • Cruisers–4
  • Light Cruisers–6–Upgraded with FAC Class Engines
  • Destroyers–Varies as necessary–used as Screening Ships and Couriers; minimum 8
  • FAC's–6

The other four Dreadnoughts needed would be joining the assembled fleet at the rendezvous point as soon as they were released from their shipyards. Their shakedown cruise would be conducted on the way to the rendezvous, as any necessary repairs or changes would be handled by "The Argo".

 While the crew of "The Argo" was preparing the ship for departure, the military crews were powering up all weapons and shields and thoroughly testing everything. Surprisingly, everything was running like clockwork and "The Argo" would be launching before Commodore Castellano arrived. He would have to board "The Argo" along the way to the rendezvous point.

 

Several Turnings Earlier ~ Introduction to The Death Squadron

Sean had gone to the GSF~IF Fleet Headquarters to have lunch with his father, however, his father was stuck in an unexpected meeting. So, instead of lunch Sean was escorted to the Flight Simulators to see how he would do flying the current GSF Space Fighter. Sean cruised through the tutorial and then began working his way through the various scenarios available to rookie pilots. Sean had no problem at all with the first five scenarios in fact, he was having an absolute blast.

While Sean was working his way through the sixth scenario Commander Lucas Skywriter entered the Simulator Control Center, he was there to set up some new simulator scenarios for his Death Squadron. His pilots hadn't seen any real action in quite a while and were getting a bit stale. Lucas had sat down at a terminal and had just activated the Scenario Creation Program when he was interrupted by the LCDR that was Officer of The Day in the Simulator Control Center.

"Sir, you need to see these scores, they are unbelievable," LCDR Shay Roberts stated and then continued,

"I will display them on the main monitor for you to see."

Lucas stood up and turned around and looked at the main monitor and he was definitely interested as the scores that he was seeing were very, very good. In fact, only a few of his hand-picked squadron had scores that were better.

"Switch the display to the scenario he is engaged in now," Lucas ordered.

The screen soon switched to the scenario that Sean was working his way through, it was a four against one scenario, at least that was how it started. When Lucas began watching it, however, it was only a two against one scenario and Sean definitely had the upper hand. His ship had suffered only minor damage, while the two other ships were showing major damage and would soon be out of commission.

"Show me his profile and ID Stats, NOW," Lucas ordered.

The LCDR complied instantly. The next words out of Commander Skywriter's mouth nearly caused the LCDR to have a heart attack on the spot.

"Only sixteen turnings and a CIVILIAN?? End the simulation and escort him to my office now!" Lucas didn't even wait for an acknowledgement he simply turned and headed toward his office barking orders to his wristcomm along the way.

Sean, was shocked and stunned when suddenly his simulator screen flashed 'Simulation Ended', before Sean could even use the wallcomm in the simulator the door opened and the LCDR Roberts asked him very politely yet firmly,

"Please step outside Sir."

Sean unhooked his safety harness and complied with the request, when he exited the simulator, he saw that LCDR Roberts was perspiring heavily and was looking a bit concerned.

"Did I do something wrong Shay or did my father comm?" Sean asked.

"Ahh, Master Castellano, not exactly and no, however, I do need to escort you to Commander Skywriter's Office as he has some questions to ask you. I have informed your father where you will be. He sends you this message 'Sean go ahead and meet with Commander Skywriter, when you see him tell him congratulations Commodore. When you are finished meeting with him, take him to lunch, as I will be stuck in this meeting until it is past the time for us to leave.' If you will follow me, please, sir?"

"Aye Sir," Sean replied with as much military formality as he could.

The following meeting with Commander, now Commodore Skywriter was the strangest meeting that young Sean had ever attended. Commodore Skywriter just barked questions at him one after another with barely enough time for Sean to respond. Sean's answers must have been the right ones as Commodore Skywriter soon stood up and then ordered,

"Follow me and quickly, we don't have a lot of time and we have a lot to do."

Sean without hesitation and without replying followed.

'What is going on, I have never met Commodore Skywriter before, he doesn't seem mad. I know it can't be because I was using the simulator as Dad had given me permission and the simulator, I was using was only the basic one for public consumption. It had none of the advanced characteristics of the latest model of Strike Fighter. The only information in that simulator is readily available to anyone that looks. There was no classified information at all, even information that my security level as dad's son would give me access to. Oh well, I'll just follow dad's directions he has never led me wrong before. The answer that I gave the Commodore that seemed to cause him concern was when he asked me if I had actually flown a Strike Fighter before, and I answered no.' Sean's musings had just finished as they arrived at a secure entry.

Upon arriving at the secure entry which was labeled 'Flight Center' Commodore Skywriter simply swiped his ID Xtal, and then put his right eye up to the Retina Scanner. The scanner beeped and then the door slid open. Sean hesitated to follow as he knew that he didn't have access to the Flight Center.

"Just slide your ID Xtal through the scanner, your father has granted you access at my request." The Commodore then entered the Flight Center. Sean had no choice but to comply or be left standing in the corridor in an area that he really shouldn't have been in under normal circumstances. Sean followed his orders and scanned his Xtal and the door stayed open, he then stepped through the opening and the door slid closed behind him.

Once Sean had entered the Flight Center, he looked around for the Commodore; he saw that the Commodore was standing in front of a counter and talking, actually barking orders to the Quartermaster Sergeant behind the counter. Sean wasn't quite sure what he was supposed to do, however, the matter was quickly taken out of his hands. The Commodore caught sight of him and waved him over,

"Over here, Sean."

When Sean arrived at the counter, he caught the tail end of a conversation between the Commodore and the Quartermaster Sergeant.

"Yes, a complete Mark V Flight Suit with no restrictions, just have him scan his ID Xtal. And no, he isn't a 'Civilian'! Sean, I'll meet you in the locker room and for the rest of the day I am Lucas and you are Sean unless others are present, got it."

Sean's only reply was,

"Yes, Sir, Lucas," Before Sean could say anything else Lucas was headed to the locker room.

Sean's face must have shown his questions as Sergeant Derek O'Brian just said,

"I am just following orders, Sir," Derek paused just a second as Sean's eyebrow rose at being called Sir, Sean just shook his head in acknowledgement and then Derek continued.

"Please strip to your skivvies, place your clothes on the counter and then step over to the scanner, close your eyes and count to fifteen, and then open your eyes and step out of the scanner." While the Sergeant was giving Sean his instructions, the scanner to the left of the counter lit up and beeped. Sean just shook his head and complied. He stepped into the scanner booth, closed his eyes and began counting to fifteen. As soon as his eyes were closed, the scanner began a series of timed beats and he saw various coloured lasers flicking across his body through his closed eyelids. If you asked Sean later, he would have told you that he swore he could feel the lasers even though he knew that was impossible.

Just as Sean reached fifteen, the scanner emitted a sustained beep, Sean opened his eyes, stepped out of the scanner and returned to the counter. By now he was beginning to feel a bit chilled, when he got back to the counter, he found that his clothes had been neatly folded. While he was deciding whether to get dressed or not the Sergeant returned and set a complete Mark V Flight Suit and all its accompanying gear on the counter, he then stepped away for a few secs, when he returned, he placed a flight bag on the counter with the name Lt. JG Sean Castellano on it. Without a word the Sergeant then picked up Sean's civilian attire and placed them in the flight bag, he then reached under the counter grabbed something out of a bin there. He then handed Sean a lock inside a case with a scanner surface on it.

"Please place your right thumb on the scanner, Sir, this is your personal lock for your locker and your flight bag."

Sean complied and the Sergeant then removed the lock and handed it to Sean,

"The locker room is that away," the Sergeant stated and pointed in that direction.

"Thank you for your assistance Sergeant, I wish I only knew what in Ebru Labadon's Castle was going on here," The Sergeant's only response to Sean was to nod his head and then go back to his regular work.

Sean then headed to the locker room, 'I hope that Lucas will begin explaining things soon as I am totally in the dark as to what is happening. The Mark V Flight Suits are still classified as Secret and aren't in general circulation as far as I know.' Sean stopped his thoughts as he entered the locker room.

As Sean entered the locker room Commodore Skywriter was preparing to exit,

"Get dressed and meet me on the flight line, I will prep my Strike Fighter, and then watch you prep yours."

Sean had no choice but to respond,

"Yes, sir," and then began to dress out.

When Sean had finished donning his flight suit, he headed out the same door that Lucas had used. That is after hanging up his civilian clothes in a locker, locking it and then for some reason grabbing his flight bag. When he entered the flight line, he was met by a Flight Maintenance Crewmen, that introduced himself as Crewman Teri Shorte. Sean had to stifle his grin and chuckle as he could tell by the way that Crewman Shorte filled out 'her' flight suit that the PC title was definitely Non-PC.

"If you would follow me, Sir, Commodore Skywriter is waiting for you at your aircraft/spaceship," then she reached over and led the way towards a Strike Fighter that Lucas was standing in front of.

When Sean reached the Strike Fighter, he just nodded at Lucas, pulled out his PADD from its pocket on his flight suit and pulled up the Strike Fighter Pre-flight Checklist. Sean then began going through the checklist as if he knew what he was doing, he did stumble a few times as this was the latest model Strike Fighter available and not the model that he had used in the simulator.

Commodore Skywriter just raised an eyebrow when he saw the model PADD that Sean pulled out, as it was a newer and more advanced model than his own. 'Must be nice to be an Archon and Commodore's Son,' he smirked and then joined Sean as he went through the checklist.

While the two were going through the checklist, Teri had pulled up the air-stair used for rookie pilots and had stashed Sean's flight bag in the cockpit. When she had accomplished that, she deplaned and then saluted the two as she headed back to the maintenance hangar.

As Sean went through the checklist, Lucas' opinion of him rose substantially, in fact, he erased his previous thoughts about the 'son' from his memory bank. This was no spoiled brat born of privilege this was a young man that was smart, no-nonsense and went about his job as a professional, even though it was his very first time and the job had been thrown at him cold.

Sean was a bit startled when the Commodore started him around, however, he quickly filed that fact in the back of his mind and continued with his checklist. Several times during the checklist he wasn't quite sure where an item was that he was supposed to be checking, whenever that happened, he paused and looked more closely at the aircraft. Both times though Lucas just tapped him on the shoulder and pointed out the part that Sean was looking for. Sean finished the checklist and had found one minor problem, Lucas agreed and then barked a few orders into his subvocal.

"Your crew-chief will be right with you, he will take care of that issue and go through the final pre-flight check with you. He will then wait while you start your engines and then he will signal you when to hover. We will be on channel RZ16, or Romeo Zebra One Six, flight control is on FC01, my callsign is 'Death' yours will be 'Rookie'. Roger?"

Sean repeated everything that Lucas had said to him verbatim and then replied,

"Roger, 10-4."

Lucas then headed for his own Strike Fighter and shortly thereafter, Sean was joined by a Chief Petty Officer followed by two ratings with toolkits. The CPO saluted Sean, and then said,

"We will have that issue fixed momentarily Sir, and then I will join you for your final check."

The ratings didn't even wait for the Chief to issue his orders and they were just finishing up the repair when the chief joined them. He quickly checked over the repair and then made a notation on the rating's PADD and then a notation on his own. 'Interesting that a 'Rookie' caught that issue, as it is a very, very minor issue, endemic to this model.' The Chief then turned and headed back to where he had left Sean standing. He then got his second shock of the day as Sean had disdained the use of the air-stair and was making use of the same hand and footholds that a regular pilot would use.

As he was climbing the Strike Fighter on the way to its cockpit Sean swore, he heard a chuckle over his flight suits comm. However, he hadn't turned it on yet, nonetheless, he had heard a chuckle as Commodore Lucas had remotely turned the suit comm on so he could communicate with Sean in case of a problem.

What Sean didn't know and never would, was that the maintenance suit worn by his flight chief was wired for video and audio for safety reasons. That way there was proof that a repair or checklist had been completed properly. So, Commodore Lucas was seeing Sean climb into his cockpit just as he had, his opinion of Sean went up another notch.

Sean pulled himself into the cockpit and instinctively fastened his safety harness and then reached for the seat adjustment levers. Just as Sean was beginning to worry his Flight Chief stuck his head in the cockpit.

Chief Petty Officer Arturo West~Key just said,

"HUD, and then Adjust Seat."

Sean complied and his seat automatically conformed to his body,

"Thanks, Chief."

The Chief just nodded his head and then told Sean,

"I am going back to the ground and make sure that you are clear to fire your engines, when I signal you and you hear me say Go, press that switch, everything else is exactly as it was in the simulator. Relax and have a great flight. Oh, and kick the Commodore's butt for us." With that, Chief West~Key began climbing back down to the ground. He quickly finished his safety clearance check. He then pulled out a light baton from his belt, flicked it on and signaled Sean to start his engines.

"Rookie, this is Death request launch clearance for Flight Plan ABC123SCDS, when cleared launch and proceed to these coordinates."

"Roger Death, 10~4," Sean then dutifully input the coordinates into his Nav Panel without even thinking about what he was doing, his brain was on autopilot now and he just followed the procedures that he had used in the simulator.

It wasn't until Sean had successfully launched his Strike Fighter for the first time in his life that he realized that he had never actually done this before. However, before that thought had fully sunk in, he heard the tone of a radar lock, and the dogfight was on. By the time it was all over the score stood Death One, Rookie One, and MAD One. Sean was amazed and Lucas was stunned, he knew that Sean was a natural from what he had seen in the simulator results, however, in actual flight Sean was even better. Like Lucas he became one with his fighter.

As soon as they both had successfully landed and taxied to their appropriate spots, the enormity of what Sean had just accomplished began to catch up with him. He never got the chance to mull it over as Crewman Shorte had arrived and popped his cockpit, and began to assist him to disconnect his harness and life support fittings.

"Commodore Skywriter, will meet you in his office after you have showered and dressed in the uniform hanging in your locker. Bring your flight bag with your flight suit, he says that the flight bag and flight suit have been assigned to you." With that she was climbing back to the ground.

Still, in a daze Sean finished disconnecting and then climbed back to the ground as well, carrying his flight bag in one hand and his helmet tucked under that arm. He was so busy returning the salutes of everyone he passed that he never thought about why they were saluting him. He quickly showered and put on the uniform that as promised was hanging in his locker. It was a GSF~IF Strike Commando Uniform with his name and rank on the right breast just above the pocket. There was no other insignia on the uniform.

'What in Ebru Labadon's Castle is going on, I am not entitled to this uniform as I am not a member of the GSF and how did Commodore Skywriter get permission to take an untrained and uncertified pilot out into space with a top of the line Strike Fighter?' Sean arrived at Lucas' Office and entered when Lucas called out,

"Come in Sean and leave the door open, we won't be here long."

Sean entered the office and Lucas was standing next to his desk with his hand outstretched,

"These are yours, you are entitled to wear them, however, you can't wear them in public yet."

Sean reached out and accepted what Lucas was handing him; he nearly dropped them as Lucas had given him a set of worn Pilot's Wings and a Death Squadron Patch.Death Squadron PatchCreated by Jeff P. ©2019

'Lock those into your Flight Bag, and let's go have, the lunch that you are buying, and we can discuss everything that happened today and the reasons why. Before I forget, we will be giving the rest of your 'Companions' the same experience and this time you get to help." Lucas then headed out the door.

Sean put his treasure into his Flight Bag locked it and then followed The Commodore out the door and onto lunch. 

Meanwhile, back on Maxellus:

 

The first thing that S'ean did when they reached their quarters was to place the Data Xtal containing his new orders into a reader, while Dion and LCDR Akeentia secured the outside of their quarters. While that was happening A'lexii had pulled out his 'Tear of Gemini' holding it in his right hand he began concentrating intensely on it. After a few short moments of intense concentration, the 'Tear' began to glow, within a sec or so the sounds of the outside world disappeared.

'Why the 'Tear of Gemini' love? Wouldn't your 'Tear of Callisto' have worked as well?' S'ean sent to A'lexii.

'I know we are supposed to keep those hidden, but I wanted to make absolutely sure that this room was completely sealed. These quarters aren't 'The Tommy' where we knew every room had been searched and secure and where probably 85% of the crew was security for us. Plus, we all trust the 'Death Squadron' with our lives, right? Besides, I am just doing my job assisting you and protecting you!' A'lexii replied to his Bond with a mental kick to his posterior.

'Duh,  I can't believe I even asked. Please forgive me, my love, I am still getting used to you helping me and me not having to do or think of everything.' S'ean sent back with a mental kiss while rubbing his sore posterior.

'Don't worry A'lexii we will help you beat him into shape.' Kevin sent across their shared link.

While S'ean was apologizing to his Bond, Lucas Skywriter was trying very hard not to laugh as A'lexii and S'ean had sent both of their answers very strongly, in fact so strongly that anyone within a few feet of the two could 'hear' them.

S'ean immersed himself in reading the orders which the Data Xtal Reader was now displaying; hoping that the displays light would obscure his blush. Unfortunately for him, it enhanced not obscured his blush. He did have some luck though as no one laughed, at least out loud anyway.

To say that S'ean was shocked regarding the orders that he had just finished reading would be a planet-sized understatement. He was completely flabbergasted; according to the orders his reserve commission had been retroactively activated to the minute he and his party had boarded 'The Tommy'. If that wasn't enough every one of his 'Companions' had been drafted as well, even, and this he still couldn't believe C'obi and L'ogen as well! He had been promoted to full Commander with A'lexii as his Aide-de-camp; the 'Companions' had been drafted as Lieutenant Commanders and his sons as Lieutenants Junior Grade or JG's. But that wasn't all that had pole axed S'ean as he and his 'Companions' had been directly attached to his father's staff. However, that was the only thing that made any sense; the orders continued to state that after they had completed their R&R, they would receive further orders regarding their duty station. Although he reported directly to his father at this time, he had no assigned duty station. Stranger yet were the orders gave him the power and the authority of a Commodore, yet he had no Flotilla or Squadron in which to hang his flag.

The only other thing in the orders that made absolute sense was the fact that all of his party except for A'lexii and his sons were to go through the Strike Fighter and Drop Commando Refresher Courses. Once that was done, they could officially wear the wings and chutes that they had already earned.

"Awesome, now we can show some of these supposed flyboys and flygals what real pilots can do," Lucas interjected with glee in his voice.

S'ean ignored what the Commodore had said and implied and continued with his recitation of the orders.

"As I was saying."

The orders further stated that A'lexii, L'ogen and C'obi were to attend Ground School for the Strike Fighters and A'lexii would also take the Beginning Unarmed Combat Class. Once he had completed that class 'The Companions' would take over and begin his Gemanji Training. In addition, A'lexii and his sons would receive Marksmanship Training. 'And this is supposed to be R&R', thought S'ean.

"Daddy S'ean when are you and Daddy A'lexii supposed to get your Bonding Training?" C'obi asked quietly.

A'lexii moved over closer to the Xtal Reader and responded.

"It looks like to me while we are sleeping."

"As to sleeping that sounds like a wonderful idea; A'lexii unseal the room so we can all get some sleep. Kevin you and LCDR Akeentia can set up a watch schedule in the morning for tonight we will trust Base Security." Was S'ean's reply to A'lexii's answer.

"Actually Commander, Michael and A'ndreas have already arranged security for tonight. This section of quarters is sealed off to anyone but your father and A'ndreas himself. So, we can all get a good night's sleep; and I will see you in the morning." Lucas announced as he headed toward the hatch.

Before S'ean had a chance to reply, only he and A'lexii were standing in their quarters.

After making sure that at least the clothes they would need for the next day were unpacked and wrinkle-free, S'ean and A'lexii decided it was time for bed.

"S'ean."

"Yes, 'Lexi what is it?" S'ean inquired lovingly.

"I just have a strange premonition that we aren't going to be here long enough for us to relax and complete our training. I think we need to go to bed and link our links to each other completely open and let our subconscious minds complete the links. I believe that way we can also merge the information about Bonds from both of our minds, hopefully that will make up for the training I feel we are going to miss. I don't know why I feel that way, I just do." A'lexii answered S'ean as well as he could.

"I wish you weren't right my love, but I feel that you are; the orders I received lead me to believe that there is a lot going on that we don't know about. That worries me plus the fact that we are quartered in the working part of Maxellus and not the R&R section is troubling as well. I think we just need to follow our instincts and get as much "relaxation" and training in, while we have time. Did you know that some of the Death Squadron gave up their simulator time to train L'ogen and C'obi how to fly a Strike Fighter?" S'ean responded to his love and then dropped a little bombshell to change the mood.

"They what..............?"

"Well, it seems that our two sons' just want to be like their Daddy S'ean and be fighter pilots. They thought that the simulator would be like a big game, however, they found out it was a lot of work. They still liked it though; that caused LCDR Akeentia to schedule them for Fight Training Classes here. He doesn't think they will like the Book and PADD learning very much and will give up their idea of becoming fighter pilots." S'ean responded while pulling 'Lexi into a loving hug.

After a little more, conversation they went to bed and cuddled lovingly. While they were cuddling their links began transferring information back and forth in the background. The two really didn't need to bond anymore as their Bond was already stronger than it needed to be. What really needed to happen was that S'ean would receive and integrate some of the Bonding Protocols that he hadn't learned. Hopefully, the information he would receive would help him relinquish more control of the day-to-day things to A'lexii. S'ean needed to get up to speed quickly or he wouldn't be able to sit down as his posterior would be too sore from all the swats both physical and mental that A'lexii would be giving him.

They settled down into a light sleep and eventually into a deep one, once Alexander joined them. 

 

Meanwhile, back on Terra:

After a very nice trip to Paris, where they found out that Chris spoke fluent French thanks to his Aunt Paulette. While in Paris they had found the perfect Engineer to be in charge of a very important segment of their plans.

The engineer Jean Paul-Bonhomme had attended his first three years of Engineering School at the University of California at Berkeley (Cal); when a family crisis called him home to Paris. He had just graduated from the École polytechnique which rounded out his University Education. He not only had the engineering background they needed but had the management and grant finding skills they needed as well. But his most important asset from Alex' point of view was his OCD regarding precision and precise measurements. Something either met or exceeded the most precise tolerances or it was trash. As far as Jean-Paul was concerned measurements were always black and white and never, ever grey!

As his family crisis was resolved unfortunately by his father's death; and having no other family he was free to leave with the trio. His first job with the trio's help would be to organize several of their new factories under the umbrella of Gemini Aerospace, Ltd.. Although those factories would be working directly with The Flying Wing Aerospace Company, that information needed to be kept under wraps for now. In fact, Jean-Paul's actual first job was to come up with any additional companies or factories that would be needed. While Jean-Paul was busy getting all the new factories aligned under the Gemini Aerospace, Ltd. Banner, Alex was busy trying to get their newest company Gemini Terra Aerospace Mining, LLC. Up and running. He was also using Chris and Jane for ideas on how to apply for the necessary permits to mine the Asteroid Belt and build their processing plant on the Asteroid 'Oumuamua. Of course, they also had to keep their plans to build their Spaceship Manufacturing Plant secret, as they weren't ready for those plans to become public as of yet.

The biggest problem getting all the necessary permits was the hodgepodge of regulations and the fact that there was no clear-cut agency to deal with. Alex, along with Chris and Jane decided that a bit of chicanery, and deception was necessary, so Gemini Terra Aerospace Mining, LLC filed proposals and request to mine Ceres, Vesta, and ten other asteroids besides 'Oumuamua. They were hoping that by applying for so many permits that they would be able to obfuscate their real plans. They called this plan Project Obfusco, they did sweeten the deal by offering to sell between thirty- and thirty-five percent of the raw ore to earth-based companies. However, they had also planned that the majority of the earth-based companies would be theirs.

 

Meanwhile, back on Gemini, at the Castellano Estate:

Jared's plans for the housing community for the displaced bondlings was moving ahead rapidly. It seems that when he submitted a status update to Archon that was assisting S'ean with the Bondling Collegiums, he was reminded that the cost was no matter as the Archonate was picking up half the cost and the Arconate of Callisto was picking up half of the remainder. That meant that the Castellano Estate was only responsible for a quarter of the cost. Barbara had impressed on Jared that she wanted the displaced Bondlings taken care of, and that if he didn't spend enough creds, he was going to be in big trouble. All of a sudden instead of having to watch his costs, Jared was able to get Phases One, Two, and Three all completed at nearly the same time, and using the best quality materials. Now all he had to do was complete the staffing.

Things were going very smoothly until one of the local contractors approached Jared and complained about a particular requirement for a very high-grade material that wasn't as easy to work with as a far cheaper one. The high grade was chosen as it was far more durable and far easier to clean, and repair later. The contractor had started to use the less expensive material; however, he was stopped by one of Jared's appointed supervisors. The contractor wanted to use the lower cost material because he could work three times faster with it than the higher cost material, in fact, he had low balled his bid planning to substitute the lower cost material and hide it with a finish. Nevertheless, he never got to do that as Jared's supervisor saw what was being unloaded and stopped the unloading. When the contractor tried to reason with the supervisor he got nowhere, he subtly mentioned a bribe, however, he was then told that unless he used the required material; he was in violation of his signed contract. The contractor wasn't happy, so he demanded to speak to Jared per his contract.

Unfortunately, for the complaining contractor, Barbara was making one of her infrequent visits she had just finished her conversation. She was in Jared's office on the site making some notations for some of the things that she wanted to purchase to make the displaced bondlings feel more at home. While she was working on her PADD, the contractor came in the outer office demanding to speak to the head person.

Jared, tried to find out what the issue was,

"I am Jared and I am the House Castellano Overseer and I am in charge of this project, how can I help you?"

"You can't be in charge you're only a kid, I want to talk to someone that is really in charge. I can't believe that the High and Mighty House Castellano would put a green, and wet behind the ears kid like you in charge." The contractor then made the mistake of trying to push Jared aside and walk into Jared's inner office. However, Travis who was acting as Jared's secretary quickly disabused him of that thought.

Barbara chose that moment to enter the outer office and very coldly told Travis,

"Travis honey, please take out that trash, but wait a second before you do that as Jared may have something to say first.  Jared, do you need him?" Barbara indicated the contractor with a tilt of her head.

While Barbara was talking to Jared, the contractor Mr. Strumpet was beginning to realize that he may have bit off more than he could chew.

"No, Mom I just chose him as he was the last of the local contractors, there are much better ones available," Jared answered Barbara, while watching Mr. Strumpet squirm, even more, when he called Barbara Mom. Travis just ground his knee a little bit harder into the contractors back.

"Okay then Son do what you need to do, I will catch you at dinner, by the way, everything looks great, you are doing a great job. And Travis, take a shower and change clothes before dinner, you will need to wash the smell of that trash off of you." With that, Barbara was gone without looking at the contractor at all.

"Travis stand him up, however, don't let go of him."

"Mr. Strumpet, your contract is cancelled immediately, and you have fifteen mics to get all of your crew and equipment off of MY SITE. Castellano and Archonate Security along with Travis here will assist you and make sure that you only take what is yours. Additionally, as you not only disrespected Me you disrespected the Mistress of House Castellano, you will not be offered any more contacts by House Castellano, not only that but you will not be given the opportunity to bid for Archonate contracts as well. I see that doesn't bother you, it seems that you have misheard me I said Archonate Contracts not Arconate. By the way you won't qualify for Arconate Contracts either. Travis get him out of my site, I will see you at dinner and hopefully smelling better." Jared then turned and went into his inner office.

 

The Next Day On Maxellus

L'ogen and C'obi along with two of the younger pilots of the Death Squadron were on their way back to their quarters when they were accosted by two non SP Crewmen. The 'Imps' had just finished their session in the Flight Simulators, and they were heading to their quarters to change for their Gemanji lessons. The two crewmen were going to be late for their next shift and had bribed an acquaintance to let them sneak through the Restricted Area to save time. They were hoping to get through the Restricted Area unnoticed, however, that plan was now down the tubes. Not being the brightest bulbs on Maxellus they decided to bluff their way out of trouble. The younger one was still only an E3 and the slightly older one had just been promoted to Petty Officer or E4. However, he had only just been promoted and more due to time in grade and too many E3s. Petty Officer Fortaman, who should have known better was the one to challenge the group.

"Hold up there folks, this is a restricted area, and it is definitely off limits and children belong in the Family Section on the other side of the base..."

When the crewmen stopped them L'ogen and C'obi automatically went to a low level of alert and moved in front of the pilots and took a slightly defensive stance. Upon hearing the word 'children' they went into full alert mode and prepared for an attack. With the crewmen's attention on C'obi and L'ogen, of the Death Squadron Pilots was busy using his wristcomm to notify LCDR Akeentia of the 'problem'. Not they were having a problem as the 'Imps' could easily wipe the floor with the two idiots. The problem was what they were doing there in the first place. Since they were very close to the Castellano's Quarters it was only a very short while before LCDR Akeentia, Dion and Steve were visible to the pilots. Before C'obi or L'ogen had a chance to respond the cavalry had arrived.

"Pilot C'obi Castellano, is there a problem, who are these crewmen and what are they doing here?" LCDR Akeentia asked C'obi and the two miscreant crewmen began to turn very pale and began to perspire heavily.

"Commander Akeentia, they stopped us and told us that we didn't belong here, you arrived before we could tell them anything," C'obi replied while standing as close as he could to attention.

"Mr. Fortaman, let me see if I can understand what is happening here, you two are here illegally, yet you stopped my pilots on the way to their Gemanji class that Pilot C'obi, and Pilot L'ogen Castellano are supposed to be teaching. Is that an accurate summation? Don't say a word just nod yes or shake your head no."

The Petty Officer turned even paler when he heard the Mister instead of his rank. Both of the crewmen smartly nodded their heads yes.

"I thought so, Pilots' Castellano please identify yourselves to the crewmen and give them your ID Xtals. I know what Commander and Bond Castellano have told you about your Xtals, however, this time these crewmen completely deserve what is going to happen to them. Their acquaintance will get his due as well."

L'ogen and C'obi snapped off nearly perfect salutes to their 'Uncle' and replied,

"At once Commander."

C'obi and L'ogen stepped forward, reached for their ID Xtals and handed them to a crewman. Then in that weird blended voice of theirs announced,

"I am C'obi/L'ogen Castellano son of Archon and Commander S'ean Castellan and his Bond A'lexii Castellano, grandson of Grand Marshal D'avid Castellano, Barbara Castellano and Vice Marshal A'ndreas Castellano."

The 'Imps' had just finished reciting their names when the crewmen were about to insert the Xtals into their standard Xtal Readers. They almost dropped the Xtals when they heard the names of whom they had stopped. Nevertheless, their bodies carried on and inserted the Xtals. They had barely inserted the Xtals when their world nearly came to an end. A flashing red hologram appeared from their readers and their readers loudly announced,

"Access Denied, Security Alert!"

At the same time red lights started flashing up and down the corridors, klaxons started sounding and the same time the 1MC began announcing in loud strident, obnoxious tones,

"Security Breach, Intruder Alert, Corridor B5 Section 111," and then repeating.

Before the announcement could repeat itself for the third time, Dion, and Steve had retrieved the 'Imps' Xtals before the poleaxed crewmen could drop them. The two 'Companions' had just stepped out of the way when a squad of SP's and 'PS' types armed to the teeth arrived and without a word shackled the crewmen and removed them from the corridor.

Commander Akeentia, turned to his pilots and asked,

"Don't you have a Gemanji class to be at?"

He then headed down the corridor flanked by Dion and Steve, the four remaining pilots looked at each other and then moved as fast down the corridor as military protocol would permit.

The four had just enough time to change and make it to the Dojo before class was to begin.

Meanwhile, Akeentia, Dion, and Steve were in the Base Security Commander's Office explaining the facts of life to the now Ex-Commander of Base Security. Steve had taken point in the explanation and was just about to explain how close the Ex-Commander had come to being pushed out an airlock without an EVA Suit or just plain shot on the spot, when the door opened, and Michael came in flanked by two 'PS' Officers. Michael looked at Steve and then inquired,

"Am I needed?"

"Other than keeping A'lexii and S'ean out of here until we are done, No. A'ndreas somehow has been in communication already with the Base Commander. I am waiting for this 'officer' to convince me not to shoot him now." Steve's reply brought a smirk to Michael's face and the two 'PS' Officers then turned around so they wouldn't be seen laughing.

"Carry on then and I will try to keep A'lexii out of your hair," Michael turned to the ex-Security Chief and calmly said,

"A'lexii would kick you out of the airlock himself, for causing his sons to be placed in danger!"

Michael then turned and exited the office.

Dion, then spoke up,

"Michael wasn't kidding about what he said A'lexii would do to you, now explain..." Dion didn't get any further because the Ex-Security Chief had passed out and hit his head on the wall.

The three then exited the inner office and Commander Akeentia told the four SP's that were waiting in the outer office to take the now Petty Officer to the Secure Wing of the Hospital and inform the Chief of Staff that the Petty Officer was to be placed on Suicide Watch and he was to have no visitors, not approved by Commander S'ean Castellano. There was also to be an armed guard placed outside his hospital room at all times, until he was transferred to the custody of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"He will be lucky if there is anything left of him by the time the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Andreas and then the Archonate get through with him! Now we need to pick up A'lexii and take him to see his sons' teaching Gemanji so that he can see they are fine. Maybe we can find a sucker, I mean a volunteer to spar with A'lexii so he can get rid of some of his anxiety and frustrations. You two will take A'lexii to the Gemanji Class and I will take S'ean to the simulators for a few hours of Dogfighting, if I am lucky Lukas will take my place." Akeentia said as they headed to find S'ean and A'lexii.

 

'The Companion's' Families to the Rescue:

While the construction was moving rapidly ahead thanks to the addition of military construction teams as well as some Arconate and Archonate construction teams. That was the good news, however, the bad news was just that, 'Bad News' and it was really bad. The number of affected presumptive bondlings and falsely Bonded exceeded S'ean, Ambrosius, Barbara, and Archon Jacob had planned for in their most extreme planning. The factory building that was being used as 'temporary' housing was at eighty percent of its capacity and the new guests would push that number closer to one hundred and twenty~five percent. Barbara and Jared were sitting there shaking their heads when Patrick's mom stopped by to thank Barbara for letting her younger son Lenny as well as Dion's younger brother join the 'New Companions'.

 

A month or so before S'ean's investiture Michael and A'ndreas realized the seven of S'ean's 'Companions' weren't going to be enough for the long term, especially with the rumours of their conscription into the GSF becoming more and more a reality. They decided with D'avid's approval to approach the families of the existing 'Companions' and a few other estate families for help. Michael had also realized the with all of 'The Companions' gone that he would be leaving the estate security undermanned. He knew that he could get some help from GSF, Archonate and even 'PS' Security. Nonetheless, he preferred to use homegrown talent whenever he could. He preferred to use people that he knew and people that knew the estate.

Michael approached Kevin and Patrick's families first and was stunned when they jumped at the chance. Although both families missed their sons they didn't want to withhold the chance for the same academic opportunities from the rest of their families. It also didn't hurt that they trusted Michael and the Castellano Family like they trusted no one else. The fact that their sons and through them the families were being paid by both the Castellano Estate and the GSF IF Division might have had a bit to do with their acceptance. Once the word spread Michael had twice as many applicants as he had planned on, however, something in the back of his mind told him to accept all of the ones that passed his and Ambrosius' testing. They were looking for not only high intelligence, but high empathic rating as well, all of the applicants would have to take a gruelling test of not only their physical strength but their agility as well. When Michael and A'ndreas along with Travis met to go over the test results they were absolutely stunned, that is except for Travis who just sat there grinning. Michael and A'ndreas turned and looked at Travis, who just replied,

"What?"

They were finally able to get Travis to spill the beans, it seems that S'ean and his 'Companions' had arrived at the same conclusion that Michael had, only months earlier. They simply stared at him intently until he began talking.

"It's like this, S'ean after talking to Alexander came up with a solution to the problem that you just pointed out. Don't ask me how Alex knew that there was a problem, he and S'ean are really freaky like that..." Travis was interrupted by both Michael and A'ndreas asking,

"Alexander, Alex...?"

Three could play that game so he cheekily responded,

"Yeah, you know the guy that sleeps with Sean every night that no one has ever seen, you know that one. Kevin knows that he exists somewhere, because he has felt Alex's arms around him a few nights when Kevin was keeping Sean company."

Travis only paused for a moment or three before he continued as he didn't want to give either Michael or Andreas a reason to attack him physically. As Travis was getting ready to continue speaking, he felt A'ndreas try to probe his mind. His shields went up, and he sent a quick weak message to A'ndreas,

'Nice Try!'

As A'ndreas would never violate his vow and oaths, he immediately dropped his surface probe as soon as he felt Travis' shield, he almost fell out of his chair when he received Travis' message.

"A'ndreas I am a weak Empath and Telepath, as you will find the majority of those that you and Michael tested. And Before you ask all of those that you have tested are at least as strong as me. Sean and Kevin approached me and a few others and worked with us a bit, they then explained what they had planned and later we asked a few more and then a few more. I believe that between Sean and Kevin and somehow Alexander, you will find that there are twenty~eight of us ready and willing to assist you." Travis paused and put up a hand in a stop motion and then continued.

"Once Kevin and Sean had vetted all of us, they began our training and that included shields, we didn't learn about Alex or Alexander as you may know him or of him until neither Sean nor Kevin could break our shields. The only time that Sean was able to break my shield was in concert with Alex, and they did it so easily and painlessly I didn't know it had happened until I saw an image of a chipmunk. Don't ask me what a chipmunk is, as all I know it is a cute little creature from Alex's mind. Only a few key members like myself know about Alex and those of us that do have the strongest shields. A'ndreas, Sean said when you find out and if you can break my shield 'without an 'EGG' or a 'Tear' and without hurting me, he will kiss your feet'. Kevin arranged for all of us to get transferred into the same higher classes and into the advanced Physical Education Classes that all of the companions had taken. Yes, that includes our younger brothers as well, they are all in the same classes, we just tutor them at home. Michael, how come you never asked me why Patrick assigned me to take over his Gemanji classes on the estate?" Michael had a stunned look on his face as he realized that there had been a 'mutiny/revolution' right in his face and he never saw it.

"So, Travis are you going to tell me that you are the equal of Patrick in Gemanji now?"

"No, Michael, I am not Patrick's equal yet, however, when he returns, or I meet up with him in space he will be testing me for my third Solarian Burst. I do believe that will be one more than yours? Patrick, and Dion and occasionally S'ean have been putting me through one on one advanced classes whenever they were available. So, trust me when I say that the 'New Companions' and your new Castellano Security members have had the best Gemanji Training available. Oh, did I forget to say that they have also been assisting me in my training?" Travis paused for a mic to let Michael recover his bearings.

"You can rest at ease the estate will be secure while you are gone."

 

In Jared's Conference Room at the Castellano Estate:

Barbara, Jared, Travis, Ambrosius, and Archon Jacob were having their weekly meeting going over the issues regarding the failed bondings and the rescue of the affected Bondlings. They were reviewing all of the reports, including the one that Ambrosius had slid into the stack. Everything was going smoothly until Jared began reading the next report from his list. Suddenly Jared began stuttering, so Barbara took over,

"Physico Report on the mental status of Jared Castellano, upon reviewing this case with the attending Physico's, their assistants, and select Castellano Staff, it is my decision that Jared Castellano needs only a monthly visit with the Physico of his choice. His mental state has reached the norm for his age and training. Well done Jared, Signed Ambrosius Senior Physico and Head of the Callisto Bondling Collegium. End Report."

Barbara then got out of her seat and gave Jared a big hug,

"See we told you everything would be fine."

Travis gave Jared a thumbs up from his seat across the table, as everyone regained their seats and Jared had pulled himself together Jared's assistant Jonàs, hurriedly entered the room with a very concerned expression on his face. He whispered into Jared's ear,

"Jared, you need to read the new report and read it now, they found more displaced and injured bondlings, and Bondlings."

Jonàs then quickly left the room before the explosions occurred.

Jared began reading the report, paled and then laid his head on the table and began to weep. As he did that everyone else began to read their own PADD's and the report.

Jared was heard muttering quietly,

"We failed, I failed, we failed..."

"Jared sit up and listen to me, you didn't fail, and we didn't fail, we just never imagined that the scope of this problem would be worse than even our worst projections. We will just have to put our thinking caps on, and find a solution..." Jane stopped speaking because Jared had jerked upright and his eyes had taken on a faraway look.

'Uncle Jared, just listen, you can't talk to us and we can't do this for long, we still love you and Daddy 'Lexi says just do it again.' And with that C'obi and L'ogen were gone from Jared's mind as if they had never been there.

Jared then hit the deskcomm button in the table in front of him,

"Jonàs get in here yesterday."

Jared then looked at everyone else, that was just staring at him,

"It's okay Mom, your grandsons just told me what to do." He paused for a second as Jonàs entered the room again,

"Jonàs, I need twice as much meadow land as we now have, if the Estate doesn't have enough  buy the land next to us, no matter what the cost. Move, I need the meadows yesterday."

While Jared, was barking orders Barbara was smiling,

'He is back and fully healed, everyone was right he just needed a kick in the rear to get him to realize that he can do this.'

"Jared son continue, you are on the right track, I will go help Jonàs as he may need me to box an ear or two for the land."

With that Barbara got up and left the room.

"Mom is right we just need to double the size of the new home that we are building, Travis get the surveyors and architects busy." Jared began barking orders to get what needed to be done to expand the number of cottages to house the displaced bondlings.

Archon Jacob was just getting ready to leave when Jared suddenly uttered,

"Oh Nooooo!", and then slumped in his chair, his head hitting the table with a thud.

"The Factory Building is full, no place to sleep, no place to sleep." Jared was repeating over and over to himself.

Archon Jacob was just about to go and get some help when the door opened and in walked Barbara, and Jonàs, followed by an unknown woman.

"Jared snap out of it, we don't have a problem, Patrick's Mom has the solution, and it is a good one. So, listen up, and smile, a frown doesn't become you."

Barbara then turned to the woman and said,

"Patricia, the floor is yours,"

"Master Jared... Okay, Jared, I was coming to talk to you and Mi... Barbara about a problem that the families of both 'The Companions' and the 'New Companions' are having, with our oldest children out of our homes, way before we were ready for them to be gone. Some of us got together, and we realized that we needed younglings in our homes, with some of our kids in Space already and some of them living here in the Manor we have lots of empty rooms." Patricia stopped speaking because Barbara had waved at her.

"Jared, 'The Keeper' must surely be looking after you, I had just come to the same conclusion that you obviously did seeing how you looked when we came in. I was counting up the empty rooms in the Manor when Patricia came in. With the families of both groups of 'Companions' assistance and a few rooms in the Manor we can house all the new younglings arriving in the next day or so."

By the time Barbara was finished speaking Jared was back to his normal self and ready to get back to work.

"Patricia, are you saying that you and some other families want to take bondlings, and Bondlings that you have never met and raise them as your own? You do realize that once their cottages are finished, they will be moving into them?" Jared stopped speaking because Patricia was trying to get his attention.

"Jared, that is exactly what I was going to say and more, some of us still have active Educational Certifications, and we would like to fill some of your open Teaching Positions, we also have some of our married children that are offering to be Cottage Parents for you as well. I will also act as your Assistant Director of the Jared Castellano Bondling Academy." Patricia had to stop speaking as her last words had stunned Jared and he was standing there with his mouth making fish like moves.

Before Jared had a chance to respond Archon Jacob spoke up,

"Jared, save your breath, it won't do you any good to protest the name of your Academy, The Archonate has already approved it with the complete concurrence of your Boss S'ean. A'lexii sends his love and says, 'You deserve, so quit standing there and get busy."

While Jacob was speaking Ambrosius had left his seat and was now standing behind Jared, massaging his shoulders. Ambrosius was about to speak some comforting words into Jared's ear when they became unnecessary.

"Okay, OKAY, I surrender I can see that I am outnumbered, I need to meet with those that want to teach as soon as possible. I want to start having classes outdoors as soon as possible, the sooner that we can get everyone back on a 'normal schedule' or close to normal the better for all of us and they can begin healing that much sooner."

No one acknowledged Jared's requests/orders they just began making the necessary calls and plans to put them into effect. 

 

The Day After The Meeting

Jared was very surprised at how quickly the unexpected influx of bondlings were absorbed, and housed. He was also surprised at how happy the new bondlings were to be housed in the manor and among families. When Barbara saw how much the new members of the Academy were living with families, she realized that in all of their planning they had never considered having the displaced bondlings contact their families, and even have their families visit them.  She knew how busy Jared was so she commed Travis instead,

"Travis, we need to get all of the misplaced bondlings in contact with their families and set up a meeting with their families."

"Mom, it's okay we have already taken care of that, all of the bondlings, including the new ones that could, have already made contact with their families. We were just waiting for the first cottages to be finished before we had any meeting with the families, We wanted them to see something other than a converted Factory building. Jared has been one step ahead of all of us on this, he is finally believing in himself and not asking for permission to do everything. Didn't you wonder why he requested so many wristcomms? We can finish this conversation over Dinner, Jared needs a break so I will make sure that he is at Dinner tonight. See you then." Travis then went to check on Jared he found him outside buried under a pile of young bondlings and everyone was having the time of their lives.

"Excuse me, guys I need to speak to Master Jared for a bit, can you let him up? When we are done, you can go back to tickling him to death."

The youngsters turned the tables on Travis,

"At once Master Travis, whatever you need Master Travis, and don't forget our Gemanji class starts in five mics and you and Master Jared better not be late, you know the Sensei doesn't like people that are late to class, he says it is disrespectful." With that, the cheeky bondlings let Jared up and then headed off to get ready for class.

"Okay, Travis what's up and make it quick we can't be late, you know what an ogre Sensei can be," Jared replied with a grin being very careful to stay out of Travis' reach.

"I just wanted to let you know that you need to be at the Family Dinner tonight, and before you ask Mom will be upset if you don't bring your roommates, now we need to change so we aren't late for class." Travis then headed back to his office to change into his Gi.

Jared stood there in shock for a moment and then headed to his own office to change as well. 'I still can't believe my old friends from the Collegium wanted to be my roommates again, especially after the way I treated them because of the way the old head of the Collegium had screwed up my head. I really need to thank A'lexii and his sons' for telling my old friends what had happened, it is great having them back in my life.'

While Jared and Travis were getting ready for the Gemanji Class, other classes were going full steam scattered throughout the Academy grounds. In fact, things were working out better than planned, more of 'The Companions'' Families and Estate Workers' Families had supplied teachers than was expected. On top of that some of the first group of misplaced bondlings were 'working' as gofers for the construction crews, others were learning about plants while helping the landscapers. When Jared asked some of the bondlings why they were working so hard outside of their classes when it was required, he was shocked by the answer.

"Because Master Jared, the sooner the cottages are finished they sooner we get to live in them, and we see how hard you are working to give us a wonderful place to live and learn and we just want to pay you back a bit. We know we don't have to do it, but we want to, and we are learning lots of new things too. Now give us a hug, so we can get back to work." Jared did as the bondling had so politely ordered and gave him a hug. What surprised him the most was how much love and caring he felt through the hug. As Jared turned and headed back to work, he looked around and saw smiling faces everywhere.

****

As Jared was jogging to the Gemanji Class, he noticed that there were Bondlings walking with the Estate Security as they patrolled the Estate. Travis jogged up next to him and said,

"They are all the top students in my Intermediate Gemanji Class and are all volunteers, they are also training with the 'New Companions' so don't worry everything is covered. BTW you are testing today." All conversation came to a stop as Travis and Jared entered the Dojo.

At Joint Confederacy Military and Governmental Conference

The conference committee meetings had come to the conclusion that they didn't have enough information about the incursions. The information that Lt. Skiles had provided was a big help, however, they still needed more information. So, they had come up with an audacious plan to get more information, they would seed the projected incursion routes with stealth passive monitoring stations, these stations would be powered by 'EGGs' and have no emissions. The stations would be dropped in front of the projected paths and a few degrees on either side of the paths. The stations would be picked up by stealth vessels, a new station dropped, and the data would be recovered and then sent to Vice Marshal A'ndreas and Grand Marshal Castellano. Once the data had been recovered, the station would be dropped in another location.

The next morning at the Main Conference Session

Patrick once again addressed the conference members,

"Gentlemen and Ladies, I have just received some very important information that I need to impart to you before I take my leave and head out to The Argonaut Project. However, before I do that, I must ask that this be a closed session and that everyone with a Security Clearance below Level 12 exit the room immediately. There are several of you that are the only members from your planetary organization, most of you have had your security clearances adjusted. Those members terminals will display your authorization to remain."

D'avid stepped up to the lectern and confirmed Patrick's order that was conveyed as a request,

"I have authorized that this session be closed per Commodore Castellano's request. Also, at the request of the Geminiian Joint Chiefs of Staff, Commodore Castellano has been promoted to Fleet Commodore effective immediately. The Geminiian rank of Fleet Commodore is the equivalent of most fleets Rear Admiral's, Congratulations Patrick." D'avid then shook Patrick's hand and breaking with military protocol, gave him a hug as well, whispering directly in Patrick's ear,

"Yes, you now outrank Sean."

While Patrick and D'avid were having their moment all the non-authorized personnel were leaving the conference room. As they finished the hug, D'avid's aide LCDR Lansing approached and informed them that the room was secure. However, he wasn't finished,

"Marshal I just received the strangest message from someone named A'lexii on your top secret comm channel the one that your Bond A'ndreas said I was never to use. This A'lexii said that he was your son, and you were to seal the room using A'ndi's 'EGG', and that Patrick was to use the 'Tear' that he had sent with Patrick. I didn't know what to say or do, however the comm screen then flashed with a bunch of security levels and authorizations that I have never seen before, and then as he was signing off, he said the strangest things, 'Tell Grandpa we love him from the 'Imps', he then signed off. I wasn't going to mention anything to you but then a hard-copy message came through to give you A'lexii's message immediately and Marshall that security clearance is higher than yours. So here I am, and I hope you understand those messages because I don't!" In the middle of Altec's message, both D'avid and Patrick stiffened noticeably, and their demeanours became very concerned.

"Altec, A'lexii is my son he is Commodore S'ean Castellan's Bond, the 'EGG' he mentioned is the large scrambler the ones locked in my secured locker in my office. Go back there and bring me two of them. As to the 'Tear', I will explain later, now go take Corporal Smith with, now hurry, We will stall until you get back." D'avid acknowledged Altec's salute and then turned to Patrick,

"Which one?"

Patrick looked at him and then whispered,

"Gemini!"

"How could A'lexii know to send it and can you... Never mind I know, don't answer. You are going to keep it hidden behind the lectern, aren't you?" A very concerned D'avid asked.

Patrick just shook his head yes and then let D'avid step back to the lectern, while D'avid got ready to make his stalling announcement, Patrick reached under his tunic and removed the Callistan Lormsilk bag with the special lining that was covering A'lexii's 'Tear of Gemini' that very few people knew existed. While he went through the calming exercise that both A'lexii and S'ean had drilled into him, D'avid began speaking to the remaining conferees.

"I must apologize, a security manner was just brought to my attention so it will be a few minutes while we take some extra precautions, meanwhile, I will go ahead with some of my comments that I was going to deliver after the Commodore had left. You can pass these words on to all of your staffs including those without the security clearance to hear Director Castellano's report." D'avid then summarized what the subcommittees had decided regarding the stealth monitoring stations. When he asked for a vote, it was unanimous. The Sub Committee Chairman got busy sending out the appropriate orders under D'avid's imprimatur. While he was summarizing the time-line Altec and Corporal Smith returned escorted by an SP Captain and Lieutenant and two 'PS' Officers.

"Marshal, we will place the scramblers in the appropriate locations, we are also running white noise generators outside of this room as well as a couple of standard Fleet Scramblers. Also, A'ndi says hi, and he also told me to get this done yesterday!" With that, the SP's and PS Officers went about their task. D'avid noticed that there were now four of the 'EGGs' not the two that he had ordered. 'I will have to ask A'ndi later.'

"We are just about ready to resume, there isn't any danger to any the conference, however, some of the information that Director Castellano will be imparting is of a very sensitive and secret nature."

The instant the 'EGGs' were powered on there was a brief hum heard and then complete and utter silence. Every communication device, including the secure terminals, went blank, as soon as Patrick heard the hum he concentrated on the 'Tear' and shielded the conference room. None of the conferees noticed when that happened.

D'avid turned to Patrick and announced,

"Director Castellano the floor is yours."

"I also want to apologize for the delay in my announcement, I thought that the security procedures and equipment in place already were enough. Nevertheless, our Chief Spook the Bond A'ndreas didn't think so hence, the delay and the highly upgraded security. Before you attempt it, I must also inform you that all recording devices in this room have been rendered inactive and any attempt to reactivate them will destroy the device. All the pertinent information will be sent by secure transportation in Secure Data Xtals to the appropriate Joint Chiefs of Staff and the appropriate BuShips as well." Patrick paused in his speech for a moment or two as he looked around the large conference room and saw outraged expressions along with quite a few very interested ones. 'This is about to get very interesting,' Patrick mused to himself.

"Now that I have your complete and undivided attention, I will continue, however, I see that several of you have been outraged by what has happened so far. Well, You will be far more outraged by the time I am finished speaking," Patrick completely ignored the muttered curses and imprecations and continued as if everything was copacetic.

"The first new item that I am going to impart to you is actually two items wrapped up as one. Most of you are aware of the new Geminiian Strike Fighters that I helped develop and you should also have received your first of the Model B's and soon a few Model E1's. The Model E's are the ECM/CIC Models and will be updated in numerical increments. Now here is a part that will either cause you to jump for joy or curse Gemini, however before you start cursing us, your first shipments are in the pipeline. The first batch of these new ships were reserved for the use of Commodore S'ean Castellan and one for Grand Marshal Castellano's Flagship use. One of the difficulties that all of our Interstellar Fleets have always had was getting Fighters to where they were needed as quickly as possible, especially those needed to fly CAP's for Flagships and other important vessels. Thanks to Tommy Castellano we can now provide you with a class of ship that can do that in spades and still defend itself with previously unknown firepower for a ship its size." Patrick paused for just a moment to chuckle internally and he heard D'avid moving around in his seat. All the murmuring and hostile voices had completely quieted.

"The new class of ship was designed by Tommy Castellano with assistance by others of 'S'ean's Companions', the class is called the Fast Attack Carrier Class or FAC. Although, they are based on the Light Cruiser design on the inside, though things were drastically different the FAC's only carried half of the external armament of the Light Cruiser design they were based on. However, what armament they did carry was fifty percent more powerful. With the reduction in armament and the twenty-five percent overall increase in size, the FAC's could carry one hundred of the new Strike Fighters and a few miscellaneous support ships and their crews. The original design called for one hundred and twenty-five Strike Fighters, but that design was scrapped in favour of the larger engines. The new engines were a full fifty percent larger than those carried by a full Battle Cruiser. The smallest Battle Cruiser was one and a half times the size of a FAC. The room not used by the vastly improved and more powerful engines was used by the new massive CIC and ECM Rooms. The new FAC's were twice as fast as a standard Light Cruiser and packed nearly the same punch. However, in addition to its onboard weapons systems, the FAC's could deploy seventy-five Strike Fighters in less than ten minutes. The enlarged CIC and ECM capabilities along with some specially modified Strike Fighters made the FAC's a truly advanced and fearful offensive platform. At the same time, the FAC's dramatically added to fleets defensive capabilities as they could deploy a much larger and faster rear guard than before. You will receive more information in the Secure Data Xtals. Now that the FAC's have been thoroughly tested the first shipments to you our allies are now in the pipeline and trust me you are going to love them they are a really sweet ships and they are as of now the fastest Starship that we know of. Now on to the reason that we had to delay the launch of my ship The 'Argo'." Patrick's last words definitely got their attention as everyone sat up straighter and the room got even quieter. 

"The reason for the slight delay was due to the fact that BuShips had determined that the replacement class for the Argonaut's assigned Dreadnought was going to complete their space trials ahead of schedule. Before I start talking about those replacements, those ships that were designated for the Argonaut are now being dispersed to our allies to help defend your Homeworlds against attacks. They are being replaced with the real reason for this closed session, The Alexander Class Dreadnoughts, this new class of ships was classified deep and so highly that Grand Marshal Castellano was unaware of them. In fact, a lot of information on these new ships is still Classified Top Secret Shoot on Sight! The ACD's are the most powerful warships in their class in space they are at least thirty percent faster than any other dreadnought in space. They are also between forty and fifty percent more powerful than any other dreadnought in space. Some information regarding the ACD's is available in the Errata VI on the Secure Data Xtal's that you will be receiving. I can personally guarantee that your Fighter Pilots will love the new Strike Fighters, as they are the deadly ships in space for their size. Your Commodores and Admirals are also going love the new FAC's for their Flagships as they were designed for that function in addition to the other functions." Patrick stopped speaking as his secure wristcomm began warbling a high priority tone.

"I will be right back, I have a High Priority Message to take, but while I am taking it here is a Holographic Presentation of the FAC's and The ACD's."

The presentation enthralled the conferees completely, although the FAC's at first didn't excite them much, that is until they saw the towing and Strike Fighter launching demonstrations. Once they saw they amazing maneuverability of the FAC's as evidenced by the Tommy's performance against the GSF Lonestar. However, once they saw the visuals of the ACD's everyone began taking mental pictures.

Meanwhile, Patrick was listening to his message and couldn't believe what he was hearing, he acknowledged the message when it finished. He then went over to where D'avid was seated, before he spoke to D'avid he barked out orders to Corporal Smith who was standing guard behind the Grand Marshal.

"Corporal Smith go to the Grand Marshal's Quarters and escort the two Strike Commando that you will find there. Do not let their age fool you, they are fully qualified Strike Commandos, oh, and they can both kill you just as easily as I can."

The Corporal paled and then immediately left on his task. Patrick then informed D'avid of his new orders.

"Dad, I have been ordered along with your other sons' to leave immediately to conduct the final round of Space Trials of the ACD's and to integrate them fully with my ship 'The Argo', S'ean's new squadron of FAC's and Light Cruisers will be ferrying us to our rendezvous, once we have completed the trials and integration, we have been ordered to proceed to Point Omega at flank speed. That is the 'good news' now for the 'bad news' your two new bodyguards are your grandsons' the 'Imps'."

TBC


Author's Note:

Another long-awaited chapter is finally finished, and I think it is a blockbuster. Any errors or those cliffie things are all A'lexii's fault as he made me do it. He was nagging me in my ears the whole time that I was writing this. I sincerely hope that this chapter was well worth the wait.

Please remember I have no Military training or Experience, everything that I have learned has been from the reading or Movies.

TSL

Email all compliments and suggestions to The Story Lover.

Email all criticisms and flames to A'lexii the Bond.

Please drop a thank you note to ACFan for the awesome cover he created at ACFan, and to Jeff P. for his stupendous Death Squadron logo at Jeff P.

 

New England Editor's Note: 

WTF, I thought I had finished up on all my reading! Now it looks like I have another story that I have to catch up with. ;) Great job TSL, I can’t wait to get all caught up. Wonderful story!

Mid-West Editor's Note:

I have the funny feeling that he is talking to me, here.

Talk about a long-awaited chapter!

I am very pleased with this new chapter.

We have learned some new things, and met some new people and a lot of things have occurred since the last chapter. I, too want the next chapter as soon as possible.

 For any of you who might not have read some or any of the earlier chapters, you have your work cut out for you.  TSL's stories have a lot of meat in them Often, a TSL chapter can be as long as someone else's whole story.

Believe me when I say that's a good thing. There are often important details that you will definitely need to know.

 Try to find some spare time and keep from being distracted. Unless you are VERY good at multitasking, I don't advise dividing your attention with anything else, while you read the story.

 Have Fun,

 Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher

 

The Floridian Editor's Notes:

I have to say that at our next meeting I'm going to have a few words with A'lexii. I just hate those cliffie things. This was definitely worth the wait, good job TSL, when is the next chapter going to be posted?

Art