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The morning dawned bright – a little too bright for most in the house. Harry was up and grumbling in the kitchen, preparing himself for an early morning commute to the office, having just been informed that his presence was required for an upgrade to the networks in the office building. Where he'd normally be able to sleep in, he lamented the fact that he was Director of IT. In his mind, no amount of money in the world that he earned should have meant that he had to go to the office early, ever.
Linda, however, was grumbling the fact that she was up early, having been woken by Harry's mumbling and moaning. She was tired, sore from a full day of babysitting a group of, at times, raucous, boys, and having to deal with Harry in a cranky mood, she would not.
“Oh, good Heavens, man! We all have early morning and late night calls. You're the Director, deal with it!” she sighed.
“Easy for you to say. You're not having to go in early.” Harry retorted.
At that moment, the phone began to ring. Linda shot a look at Harry that said “If this is work, you're a dead man”, before answering the ringing demon device.
“Hello, Thomas residence, this is Linda speaking.”
“Linda, its Ella.” the voice on the other end said.
“Ella! How are you? How are the boys?” Linda asked, all frustration and tire leaving her voice.
“I'm good, and the boys are fine. In fact, Kyler seems to have found himself someone special.” Ella replied, pride filling her voice.
“Really? That's wonderful, Cody's the same. Where does the time fly?” Linda smiled.
“Who knows? How's that gorgeous little elf of yours?” Ella asked.
“Kane? He's doing wonderfully. He celebrated his birthday yesterday.” Linda stated.
“I know, that's why I'm calling. The boys wanted to come visit and to wish their 'favourite cousin' a happy birthday personally. Are you busy today?”
“No. The boys are all still sleeping. Yesterday was a big day.”
“Well, I'll load up the car, and we'll see you at about 10, 10:30.”
“No worries. I'll be waiting. I think we'll make it a surprise for the boys. Wait till you see the changes that have occurred.”
“That sounds ominous. Any problems?”
“No, not problems. You'll see when you get here, believe me.”
“Okay. See you shortly then.”
“See you, Ella.”
After Linda had hung up the phone, she turned back to Harry. “You'd best get this upgrade done quickly. I somehow doubt your sister will take the reason 'I was busy at work' seriously.”
“True. She rarely lets me get away with not seeing her.” Harry said.
“Yes, but you do love her, and it's rare that we get to see them. Why, Kyler has a special someone in his life now. Who knows how long that's been happening, without us knowing it?”
“Really? Our little Ky has really grown up. Same with Cody, I suppose.” Harry said wistfully. “Well, I'd best be off. No point delaying the inevitable, I suppose.”
With that, Harry leaned, kissed Linda, and walked out of the kitchen. The closing of the front door signalled his departure. Linda poured herself a cup of coffee, sat down at the breakfast bar, and pulled out her laptop from the bag on the bar, switching it on to check on a few things in the office.
20 minutes later, Zeke walked into the kitchen, hair messed up and still looking tired. “Morning, sunshine. What has you up so early?” Linda asked, suppressing her chuckle at the grumpy expression on the android's face.
“Kiara woke me up. She wouldn't stop licking my face.” Zeke grumbled. “And I smelled coffee, so I came down to get a cup.”
“Well, help yourself, kiddo. Would you like something solid to go with the coffee?” Linda asked with a smile.
“That'd be great. What are you making?” Zeke asked.
“Whatever you want. I can do waffles, pancakes, french toast, regular toast, bacon and eggs, scrambled eggs, oml-”
“Scrambled eggs! I love scrambled eggs!” Zeke said brightly.
“Okay, scrambled eggs it is.” Linda said, turning around to begin getting Zeke's breakfast ready. “So how was your first night?” She asked, as she busied herself.
With a sniffle, Zeke answered, “Okay, but I miss my family. I didn't get to say goodbye to them.”
Linda heard the sniffle, put down the cooking utensils, and moved to comfort the emotional android. If this doesn't prove that androids have true feelings, then nothing can. She thought to herself, as she allowed the boy to release his pain. After about 5 minutes, Zeke's tears and sniffles had stopped, and Linda sent him to the bathroom to wash his face while she finished up. By the time Zeke had finished, Linda had the eggs in the pan cooking.
It was as Zeke was wolfing down the eggs that Jason walked into the kitchen. When he looked to Zeke, he broke down into laughter at the sight of his boyfriend eating the egg as though it were the last meal he'd ever eat. It was as he was calming down that he signalled to Linda that he'd also appreciate some eggs.
“How was your sleep, Jason?” Linda asked as she began to fix some eggs for Jason.
“Great. How could it not be, sleeping next to my angel?” Jason smiled, causing Zeke to turn and smile at him, before the two shared a brief kiss, Zeke too intent on finishing his eggs to give much time to his boyfriend. Soon, Jason's plate was placed in front of him, and he joined Zeke in wolfing down a good meal.
“Thif if fantaftic!” Jason exclaimed, earning him a slap to the back of the head from Zeke.
“Don't fpeak wif your mouf full.” Zeke giggled.
“You should talk!” Linda said as he slapped both boys on the back of the head, before diving in with her own fork and scooping up a mouthful of Jason's eggs. “Yef. Fantaftic.” She agreed, earning giggles from both boys.
10 minutes later, Kane walked into the kitchen, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “Mummy, my tummy is making growly noises.” He whined.
“Sounds like someone needs some breakfast. How about some toaster waffles?” Linda chuckled.
“Yes please, Mummy.” Kane replied, brightening nearly instantly.
As Linda set about preparing the waffles for Kane, she watched Zeke and Jason stand up and wrap each other in an embrace. With another brief kiss, the two boys headed for the main bathroom for a shower.
“Mummy?” Kane asked.
“Yes, Kane?” Linda replied.
“When will I find a b'yfriend?” Kane asked with a pout.
“Oh, honey. There's no way for you to be sure that you'll end up with a boyfriend. You may find a nice girlfriend for yourself. But that's beside the point. You'll know when you've found the right person for you. Even if it takes many years, you'll find that one special person. So don't you worry that little head of yours. When the time is right, you'll find happiness.” Linda said, wrapping her arms around her youngest child in a loving embrace.
“Okay, Mummy.” At that moment, the toaster “popped”, let the two of them know that Kane's waffles were ready. “Yummy! Waffles!”
It was while Kane was eating, that Sky and Cody walked in together, already showered and walking arm-in-arm.
“Morning boys. Sleep well?” Linda asked, smiling at the affection evident between the two.
“Yep. As always.” Cody answered while a smile beamed from Sky's face.
“That's good. What would you like for breakfast boys?” Linda asked.
“We're just gonna grab a bowl of cereal each, Mum. No doubt you've been busy feeding everyone else.” Sky said with a giggle.
“Well, the only two I haven't seen yet are Liam and Zoe. Have you two seen them?”
“Oh, they're in the shower. They hopped in after we got out.” Cody said with a grin.
“A shower? Together?” Linda asked, worry filling her face.
“Mum! I doubt they're 'doing' anything. Besides, Sky and I shower together.” Cody said with a shocked face.
“I know they're not likely to do anything, but should something happen, there's a possibility of a pregnancy occuring, and I'm not sure if either of them are ready yet for a baby. Speaking of, where's Bradin?”
“Jason and Zeke commandeered him when we were going to the shower. Something 'bout 'uncle-time' or something. I hope they remember to change him.” Sky said.
At that, a yell was heard from the general vicinity of the apartment. “OH MY GOD! How can one little person make such a mess and have it smell so BAD!”
“I think it's safe to assume that they remembered, but aren't handling it too well.” Linda chuckled as she made her way out of the kitchen, to give the two lost boys a hand.
Sky and Cody began pulling out the required items for their breakfast. “Hey kiddo, how are ya?” Sky asked Kane.
“HI, Sky! I's good. I's gots waffles!” Kane enthusiastically replied.
“So I see. It's all over your face.” Sky chuckled.
“Nuh-uh!” Kane shook his head.
“Uh-huh!” Sky grinned.
“Guys, spare me the childish displays, please. I'm tryin' ta eat here!” Cody groaned, earning him raspberries being blown at him from two fronts. “How mature.”
It was at that moment that Liam came rushing into the room, panting and out of breath. “Guys, you need to come quick. The terminal's acting crazy. Zoe's looking at it now.”
All rushed upstairs to find Zoe seated in front of the terminal, furiously tapping away at the keyboard, seemingly oblivious to the goings-on around her, and the presence of the boys. When she noticed the boys standing there, she blushed and went to get up, but Cody stopped her. “No need to move. Looks like you're handling yourself there. What's going on?”
“Well, it appears that the terminal is giving me details of every Condition Yellow, or Condition Red that has ever been called. I can't seem to access real-time data on current events that are occurring.” Zoe rattled off.
“Man, that's not good. Okay, time to test the ability of the Oceanic Division. Guys, meeting in ten minutes in the apartment living room. I'll let Mum know. Zoe, since you seem to know what you're doing, you're the new comms officer for this division. Liam, I need you to come with me to the office now. I have a call to make, and it'll involve you.” Sky said in a calm manner, before turning and leaving the room, all other occupants, including Kane, breaking to perform their various tasks.
Sky and Liam met Linda, Jason and Zeke in the hallway on the way to the office. “Mum, would you mind looking after Bradin for about half an hour? Something's come up to do with the Clan, and we need to hold a meeting to come up with a few things here, including positions and what-not.”
“No problems, Sky. I'll be more than happy to look after my darling grandson.” Linda said as she took Bradin from Jason. “I'll get some food prepped for you guys for during the meeting.”
“Thanks, Mum.” Sky said, kissing Linda on the cheek, before turning to Jason and Zeke. “Guys, I need the pair of you to try helping Zoe find out what's going on. She'll brief you. Jason, you need to contact CIC, and Zeke, you've got AI.”
“No worries, Sky.” Both boys replied in unison, before turning and running off to perform their tasks.
“Wow. You'd never know that this division only opened up yesterday, bro. Seems to run pretty professionally already.” Liam said.
“Just wait. You're gonna make us seem even moreso in a little bit.”
“Me? I don't see what I can do.”
“Answer me this. If you saw any one of the people in this house or from the rest of the Clan being abused or injured in any way, what would you do?”
“I'd kick the ass of anyone who hurt any of my new family, especially Zoe.”
“Then what I have in mind for you is perfect. Have you ever done any martial arts?”
“I'm a blue belt in Go-Kan-Ryu Karate, but not much else.”
“Perfect.” Sky said as they both entered the office. Sky pulled out his communicator and keyed in the required sequence. “Thomas to Lt. Barnes.”
“Barnes here. Which Thomas am I speaking to?”
“It's Sky, you dufus. I have a question, or ten, for you.”
“Just give me a second to finish this up here, and I'll be right with you.” Matt replied, before the communicator abruptly died.
“Wierd.” Sky said, just before 3 shimmering columns appeared in the office, clearing to reveal the forms of Matt, Zac and Carrie. “Oh, okay.”
“Hey Sky. I hope you don't mind the tag-alongs, Zac's here to talk to Jason, and Carrie's here to talk to Zoe. No-one else was available.” Matt said.
“Okay. Well, the guys are all up in the apartment, just turn left out of here and follow the hall all the way to the end. Call the guys via the intercom and they'll grant you access. We've locked down our Control Centre as well.”
“Okay.” Zac and Carrie said as they walked out of the room.
“Okay, Matt. I just wanted to get Liam here started on Security training.” Sky dead-panned, causing Liam's jaw to drop, and Matt chuckled when he saw this.
“Not to tell you how to do your job, Sky, but in future, it might be best to actually tell your members what to expect before you spring the surprise on them. I've seen Teri give a good tongue-lashing for less, and I seriously doubt that your Mom's any different.” Matt said.
“I guess you're right. I just thought I'd give him a nice surprise. He's of the impression that he's not worthy to be among us.” Sky said, his head dropping a bit at being reprimanded.
Matt knelt down in front of Sky, lifting his chin to look in his eyes as he spoke. “The thought counts, but you need to plan the actions a bit. Just ask Cory and Sean. From what I've heard from my boys, there was a major disagreement between the two that nearly caused them to split, and it was all over a little surprise Cory had planned for Sean.”
“Okay. I'll remember that from now on.” Sky said as he hugged Matt, who returned it, before looking to Liam.
“Now, what's this about security training?” Matt asked playfully.
“Umm... uhh... I... I didn't know nothing 'bout this.” Liam stammered, a deep blush filling his face.
“Well, it's an easy process to get you accredited. All I need to do is give you this,” Matt said, handing Liam a PADD from his satchel, “and give you a written test based on the contents of that PADD, followed by a practical training session and test, if you pass the written one, then get you entered into the Clan database as an accredited officer, get your commission set up, then issue you a phaser, and you're set.”
“That sounds like a lot of work.” Liam said unsurely.
“Well, I'm gonna bend the rules a little, by giving you the written and practical tests now, as I think you have enough common sense to pass it, as that's all the PADD data and test are based on. You'll still need to review the PADD contents later, but that's not an issue. All in all, it should only take about an hour, which I have right now, at least until I get called back to CIC or AI HQ.”
“Sounds like a plan. I'll leave you guys to it. I have a meeting to hold. I'll make sure that Zoe informs you later of anything important.” Sky said as he was leaving the room.
“Thanks for everything, Sky. This is soo cool!” Liam said as the door was closing.
Linda had just finished cleaning up the house, thankful for the relative quiet the current 'problem' had provided, when the doorbell rang, and she went to the entry hall to open the door.
On the other side stood Ella Thomas, a middle-aged woman with shoulder length blond hair, and behind her stood three teenaged boys, two of whom were smiling and the other of whom looked extremely nervous.
“Ella, how good to see you. You're early.” Linda said smiling, as she moved to hug Ella.
“Well, I was taking into account the usual traffic along the freeway, but there was barely any today.” Ella said as the women hugged.
“Well, the new bypass was not long completed, and I don't think the novelty of it has worn off just yet.” Linda chuckled. “But forgive me, do come in. You'll be amazed at the silence that will greet you.”
“Silence? With two boys and a dog? What'd you do, sedate the boys with their food?” Ella asked.
“Six boys, one girl, a dog and a raccoon.”
“And yet there is silence?”
“Well, in this part of the house. Anyway, I know two of the boys with you, but who is the third?” Linda asked.
“Well, you know Kyler and his friend Tim, the other half of the gruesome twosome. Well, this here is Caleb Mitchells, now the last third of the troublesome trio, and Kyler's beau.” Ella said with pride.
“Well, that's a little bit of a shock. I always figured you to be the lady-killer of the family. But that's beside the point. Come here boys, all of you.” Linda said, opening her arms.
“Hey, Aunt Linda.” Kyler and Tim said, as they hugged Linda tight.
“It's soo good to see you two again. Still landing yourselves in hot water, I'm guessing, if you three are the troublesome trio.” Linda chuckled.
“You know us, Aunt Linda. We're perfect angels, and so is Cale.” Kyler said, barely managing to hide his giggles.
“Yeah, sure. Just remember who used to change your nappies, young man. Even then the two of you were up to mischief.” Linda replied, earning her a shocked expression from Caleb, and two brightly blushing heads, as well as a good laugh from Ella.
“You boys will find the others down the hall, up the stairs and probably in the living/control room of the apartment.” Linda said.
“Apartment?” Tim asked.
“Yeah, we have a few new... additions to the house.” Linda said, hiding a smile.
“Okay. Come on, Caleb. I can't wait to introduce you to my cousins, they're soo cool. Kane's real young, but he's still cool.” Kyler said, as he dragged Caleb along behind him, who had managed to grab Tim's hand, and was pulling him behind the two of them.
“So, tell me, where exactly is that brother of mine? And what's this about four new boys, a girl, and a raccoon?”
“Harry's at the office right now, or on his way back. He got called in for a network upgrade. And I'll tell you about the new additions to the family over a cup of coffee. I have some biscuits in the oven right now that will be great with a coffee.”
Sky was just finishing up the meeting, and was going over the general appointment of positions, when Matt caught his attention and nodded slightly to the door, hand on his phaser – a position that Liam was mirroring. In the doorway, jaws slack, were Kyler, Tim and Caleb.
“KY! TIM! What are you guys DOING here?!” Cody asked, as he and Kane rushed to hug two of the three boys standing in the doorway. “And who have you got with you?”
“Um, we're here to say 'Happy Birthday' to our lil cuz, Kano. Oh, and this is my new b... uh, friend, Caleb.” Kyler replied, blushing towards the end.
“You know, we don't care if he's your boyfriend. It's great to meet you, Caleb. I see my cousin has found himself a real looker.” Cody said with a grin.
“Watch it, bucko. I'm still in the room.” Sky said, a little unsure of the situation.
“Relax, babe. You gotta admit he's not hard on the eyes. Guys, this,” Cody continued, pulling Sky by the arm to stand beside him, “is my boyfriend, Skylan. Skylan, these are my cousins, Kyler and Tim, and I guess Ky's boyfriend, Caleb.”
“Wow, your's isn't that bad either, Cody.” Kyler said with a smile, earning him a pinch to the sides from both Tim and Caleb. “OW!”
“Well, time to meet the rest of the Clan. Guys, over there on the sofa are Zoe and her boyfriend Liam. Sitting on the recliner together are Jason and his boyfriend Zeke. Zeke's an android, but that doesn't make him any different to any other person. Sitting on the floor under the coffee table is Kane's spirit helper, Emperor. Scratch him behind the ears, and you'll have a friend for life.” Cody giggled when he saw Emperor give him a look that said 'Traitor!', before dropping his head down again.
“Whoa, anything else you think we need to know?” Tim asked.
“Yup. Kane's empathic AND telekinetic, so watch yourselves. Oh, and we're also a new division of Clan Short of Vulcan.” Cody finished.
“WHOA! You're part of Clan Short?!” Caleb asked, speaking for the first time, and in an awed tone.
“You know of Clan Short?” Sky asked.
“I have a penpal online that went to this concert in Des Moines in America, where Aaron Carter, the Backstreet Boys and N*SYNC all performed. Clan Short formed not long after that, and is tasked with helping all youth that need it.” Caleb answered nearly automatically.
“That's right. This is the Control Centre of the Oceanic Division of Clan Short. Skylan here is the Head of the Division, I'm the Head of IT for the Division, and the other guys here all have their own positions, including Kane, he's the Head of intelligence and Psy Ops.” Cody said with a smile.
“Wow. So much has happened for you cuz. I remember when the three of us ran around Westfield Miranda terrorising the shoppers. Now, we're 'tied down', so to speak, and Kane's nearly all grown up.” Kyler said, a little misty-eyed.
“I know, but we're still young enough to enjoy ourselves as kids. Like yesterday, we went to Dreamworld for Kane's birthday. Man, it was soo cool. Next time the guys from Orlando are here, I'll have to get you to come meet them. Cory is the Patriarch of the Clan, but he's just another normal kid like us most of the time, and Sky's his cousin too.” Cody said with a broad smile.
“Um, babe? I need to finish off the meeting, and since your family is here, they might as well join in for the end.” Sky said from Cody's side.
“You mean 'our' family. And since that's the case, I move that they be inducted into the Clan.” Cody said seriously.
“I second that motion.” Jason added. “I think Tim looks like a real blast to hang around.”
“Motion carried, then.” Sky said seriously, before turning to the three new attendees, “Guys, you've just been invited to expand our division of Clan Short. Whether or not you accept is up to you, but if you do accept, you gain all of those here, except that old guy, as brothers. The old guy becomes an uncle to you.” Sky said.
"Sky, it's best not to go insulting a person with a phaser." Matt chuckled.
“I'm in. I can't believe I'm actually going to be a part of Clan Short!” Caleb said immediately.
“Count me in. If my baby wants to do it, then I'll be part.” Kyler said.
“You might as well have the whole troublesome trio, so I'm in as well.” Tim said.
“It's official then. Congratulations, guys. Now that that's done, let's close off this meeting and get to relaxing...” Sky began, before a beeping from the terminal interrupted him.
Zoe immediately got up and moved to the terminal. “According to this, our connection to the Youth Services network and domains is up and running. Guys, I'll be able to monitor the status of different cases that we're involved in, and keep everyone updated.” She said, as she began scanning the files within the main FYS network.
“Sounds good. I'll put in an acquisition order for a PDA for you that has the required connectivity for you to be able to stay on top of things when you're away from the main terminal.” Sky said. “While I'm at it, we might as well get PDAs for all division members, that way; we can keep in contact in situations where a communicator draws too much attention or something like that.”
“Consider it already put in, Sky. Starfleet Supply in the US will ship the necessary electronic equipment to Supply Oceanic, and that already covers PDAs, PADDs, as well as Clan Communicators.” Matt interjected.
“And if you need more of anything, just give me a call at the Compound. I'm in charge of Clan Supply, between 'Mom Emergencies'.” Carrie added.
“Cool. Well that covers nearly everything, except positions for the new members. As you can probably all tell, Liam is now Oceanic Division's Head of Security. He passed his phaser certification training in record time. Zoe is now Head of Communications. Now, for the three newest guinea pigs...” Sky said.
“I think it would be best if we had an Archivist. I'd get Zoe to do that, but you never know when a day will be busy or quiet, so at least on quiet days, she'll have some free time to herself. So, Caleb, if you're willing, would you like to take the position as Division Archivist? You've already displayed signs of being more than qualified for the job. It would simply be a case of any research that is needed will be passed to you, and you'll be in charge of maintaining the Division's databases.”
“Sweet! Finally, I can put all that work from I.T. on databases to use. I'd love to accept that offer.”
“Done. Now, what sort of skills do you two boneheads have?” Sky asked the others.
“Boneheads? Dude, that is soo 5th grade.” Tim said with a laugh. “By way of skills, I'm pretty good with my hands.” Tim's response was met with complete silence.
“Umm... dude. TMI.” Kyler whispered.
The lightbulb went off in Tim's head. “NOT LIKE THAT! Oh my god. You're all a bunch of pervs! I meant that I like working with electronics.”
The group all cracked up laughing, causing Tim to blush a deep scarlet. “Shut up.” He mumbled. Kyler heard this and wrapped him up in a hug.
“Well, I think you might be best as Head of Research and Development. You'd be working closely with Cody, he's the Head of IT, and the both of you are tasked with ensuring Clan Short is up-to-date and even beyond the technological limitations of Starfleet. We are the cutting edge of child protection, and we need everything we can get to achieve that goal.”
“What about me?” Kyler asked seriously.
“What sort of skills do you have?” Cody asked in consideration.
“Well, I've worked for Woolworths for 4 years, 2 as an Assistant Manager. I can stocktake, manage, all sorts of things.” Kyler said speculatively.
“Well, I think you might do well as Quartermaster, and in my absence, Deputy Head of Division.” Sky said seriously.
“Deputy Head? Shouldn't that, like, be Cody?” Kyler stammered.
“Cody doesn't have extensive management skills. He is capable of heading IT, as that's his area of expertise, but I feel he'd be overwhelmed at having to run the whole division.” Sky said seriously.
“That's right. I wouldn't know the first thing about running this whole division, but if anyone tells me how to run my department without my permission, I'll have their throat.” Cody said with a smile.
“Well, if you're sure...”
“Positive.” Cody and Sky said in unison.
“Hey, congrats, babe.” Caleb said as he hugged Kyler, and planted a firm kiss on his cheek.
“Well, to recap everyone else's positions, I am Head of Clan Short Oceanic; Kane is Head of Oceanic Intelligence and Psy Ops. Zeke is our AI Liaison, and Jason is our HQ Liaison. Cody is Head of IT; Liam is Head of Security, and Zoe's Head Communications Officer. Liam, could you please join me up front? The rest of you can take a seat.” Sky finished, back in his serious persona.
After Liam had joined him up front, Sky turned to Matt, who handed him a box, as well as a phaser. Sky then turned back to Liam. “Liam Paige. It has been brought to my attention that you have been trained and qualified as a security officer. However, to fulfil your job to the fullest, you need extra qualifications. Therefore, it is my duty, and pleasure, to present to you these Starfleet Ensign insignia, which, if you accept them, will automatically indicate that you accept a commission with Starfleet Security, effective immediately. Do you accept this commission?”
“Yes, I do.” Liam said, as though it was his most solemn vow ever.
“Then I now present you these insignia, and announce you Ensign Liam Paige, Head of Security for Clan Short of Vulcan Oceanic Division. Congratulations, brother.” Sky said formally.
A light applause filled the room as everyone present congratulated Liam on his commission. Sky then handed him his new Clan phaser, which he quickly checked the setting on, before tucking it in his shorts and covering it with his shirt.
“Well, I think that's enough seriousness for now. What say we let Matt, Zac and Carrie get back home, and we go raid the kitchen?” Sky said, all seriousness gone from his voice.
Linda and Ella were sitting, discussing how the newest members of the Thomas family came to be with them, when the group of children all came barrelling down the stairs, the sound equivalent to a herd of elephants, followed by a gaggle of geese.
“Whoa, guys, no need for the noise. What's going on?” Linda asked with a smile.
“We're hungry, so we're gonna get some food.” Sky said.
“What happened to all the snacks I put out?” Linda asked in confusion. At the deadpan looks she received from the group, she chuckled. “Fine, next time I'll remember to put more out. Just don't go removing yourselves from my custody on grounds of starvation.”
“Why would we do that, Mum? Who'd feed us then?” Sky giggled.
“I hope I'm not interrupting anything.” Harry said as he walked into the kitchen.
“Uncle Harry!” Kyler and Tim said as they ran to hug Harry.
“Hey guys. My, you ARE getting tall. And who's your friend?” Harry asked as he hugged both boys.
“Oh, sorry. Uncle Harry, this is my boyfriend, Caleb Mitchells.” Kyler said nervously.
“Boyfriend?” Harry asked, surprised. At the hesitant nod from Kyler, he continued. “Well then, why aren't you here getting hugged?”
As Caleb moved to hug Harry, Sky noticed something amiss with the situation. “Mum? Where's Bradin?”
“Oh. I gave him a bottle and then he got sleepy, so I put him in our room for a nap. It should be just about time for him to wake up anyway.” Linda said.
“Okay. I'll just go get him.” Sky said, before briefly kissing Cody and walking to the stairs.
“Bradin?” Ella asked.
“Just wait. You'll see.” Linda said with a secretive smile.
Moments later, Sky returned, Bradin securely held in his arms. “Ella, this is my new grandson, Bradin Lukas Thomas, son of Skylan Matthew Thomas and Cody Mitchell Thomas of Clan Short of Vulcan.” Linda said formally.
“Cody and Skylan are the parents?” Ella asked hesitantly.
“Yes we are. We are members of Clan Short of Vulcan, and as such, have been granted the status of adults by our Patriarch, my cousin Cory Short. Bradin was in a group home, and wasn't being looked after properly by most of the staff there, so we took custody of him, so now, he's our son, and I vow to make sure he grows up to be happy, healthy and free to make his own choices in life, so he can grow from the consequences of those choices.” Sky said seriously.
“Well, good for you. I'm sure he'll be one of the happiest boys on this planet with you and Cody as his parents. However, if you ever need someone to baby-sit, just let me know. I think I could quite enjoy getting to know this little one.” Ella said with a smile.
“We will, Aunt Ella.” Sky said shyly. This characteristic of Sky amazed her. His ability to transform between shy teenage boy to fledgling young adult at the drop of a hat was quite endearing to her.
“Come here and give your Aunt Ella a hug.” She said, pulling Sky and Bradin into a loose hug.
About that time, Harry finally managed to extract himself from the group of boys that had decided to tackle him to the ground.
“Well. That was a nice game guys, but I need a shower, and then we'll all have a nice barbeque for lunch, how's that sound?” Harry said.
“KEWL!!” Was the unanimous response.
“Hello, Harry. Nice to see you. How was work?” Ella asked her brother.
“Oh, you know. The upgrade started out well, but then of course, a few things didn't work, and before you know it, I have Engineering Department's finest crews inside the main core, trying to introduce the required fine steps that the new software needed. It all seems to be working now, though.” Harry sighed.
“Well, that's good. And how are you handling things here at home?” Ella asked.
“It's great here. Since Sky burst into our lives, nothing's been the same, but I wouldn't change a single thing. Our family has grown exponentially since he came along, and I couldn't be happier. The only problem is, with the rate the family's growing, we're gonna run out of rooms in two days.”
Just at that moment, a faint chime was heard from Harry's office. “Here we go. Wonder what's wrong this time.” Harry sighed as he moved to answer the comm, before being blocked by Zoe.
“Let me get that, Uncle Harry. I'm training to be Comm Officer for the Clan's Oceanic Division, so I'll need as much practice as I can get.” Zoe said.
“Go ahead, honey. Far be it for me to deny that.” Harry chuckled.
Zoe then moved to Harry's office, sat down, and pressed the answer button. “Thomas residence, this is Zoe speaking. How can I direct your call?” She said professionally.
The viewscreen came to life to show a late-aged man in a Starfleet Admiral's uniform. “Well, this is a shock. I wasn't aware Director Thomas had a daughter.” He said.
“Admiral Callow!! Sorry sir. Zoe here is a Comms Officer in training. She's not my daughter, just a new niece. What can I do for you, sir?” Harry said quickly.
“Enough with the 'sir' stuff, Harry. How long have I known you? You know to call me Jude when we're in private, and a niece is hardly not in private.” Admiral Callow replied.
“Sorry, Jude. I was expecting some sort of problem, after the upgrade and all that.” Harry mused.
“Oh, believe me, there are no problems with the new systems. Your people have outdone themselves again. No, I'm calling on other business. Are your sons there with you?”
“Not with me. They're in the dining room with guests right now. What do they have to do with this business?” Harry asked.
“All in good time, Harry. Could you please get them for me? They need to know what's going on. Just Skylan and Cody is fine.”
At that moment, both Sky and Cody walked into Harry's office. At Harry's quizzical gaze, Cody replied. “Zoe called us in on the communicators. Something about an Admiral and 'business'?”
“Yes boys. This is Admiral Jude Callow, CIC of Starfleet Oceanic. He apparently has some business to conduct with the pair of you.” Harry said. “Jude, I believe you know Cody. This blond-haired scamp is my new son, Skylan.”
“A pleasure to meet you, Skylan, or do you prefer Sky?” Admiral Callow asked.
“Either one is fine. If this is major official business, however, it would probably be best if my full name were used, as a sign of courtesy. The informal form invites friendship, which should never be a factor in any business dealings.” Sky said formally.
“Sound advice. And to think it came from the mouth of a 14 year old.” Jude chuckled.
“If you know anything about the Patriarch of Clan Short, you'll know what to expect from Skylan. It seems to run in the family.” Harry deadpanned.
“I'll keep that in mind. Anyway, to business at hand. I have a proposition for you. One that will be greatly beneficial to your Clan, and therefore, all children in this country.”
“I am listening.”
“What we would like to do, is to extend an offer to your division of Clan Vulcan, for Starfleet to construct a Compound, similar to that which is found at Orlando, for you to use as a base of operations, and a permanent housing development for all your Clan Members.”
“That is quite a generous offer, Admiral.”
“And that's not all. To go with the new Compound, we would also like to commission two shuttles for the exclusive use of Clan Short for operations. Further, as Clan Short is a fully self-sustained operation, it is safe to assume that you'd rather handle all internal operations, including shuttlecraft piloting, and security. Therefore, it will be my honour, to present you, and any other member of your Clan that requires it, with a Starfleet Commission, including full pay and rights.”
“Well, that is indeed, quite the generous offer; however, it is not part of my 'job description', as it were, to make such a decision on my own. The housing decision comes down to Mum and Dad, and the rest of my crew. I will however, hold a meeting of my crew to discuss what we all feel about this new surprise thrown our way, before I can make a decision for you.” Sky said seriously.
“Of course. I will await your answer. Callow out.” With that, the screen returned to its standby state.
Sky turned to Harry. “So, what do you think of the offers?”
“Intriguing. If you're asking about the housing situation, I can definitely see the advantages of a compound. If this group grows to only a third of the size of the Orlando group, we will need it.” Harry said in thought.
“I will need to confer with the rest of the group as to their thoughts. Would you excuse Cody and Me?” Sky asked, still in a Vulcan-like mode.
“Sky, the conversation's finished. You don't need to be a Vulcan right now.” Harry said with a smile.
“On the contrary, Patriarch Short discussed it with me yesterday. He told me that he finds it best to make the hard choices by thinking things through as a Vulcan would do. He also said that I would need to consider how best I would work, but I tend to agree with him. Thinking logically makes these situations easier.” Sky replied.
“Well in that case... go hold your meeting. I'll chat to the adults.” Harry said with a smile.
Sky walked over to the intercom on the wall. “All Clan Members, report to Oceanic CIC immediately. Repeat, all Clan Members to CIC.”
Sky and Cody then joined hands and made their way to the CIC Room themselves, Zoe following behind. When the three walked into the room, everyone else was seated and waiting, except Liam, who was standing guard, hand on phaser.
“At ease, Mr. Vander. There's no security threat behind this meeting.” Sky said, noting that, while Liam relaxed, his hand remained near his phaser. “I called this meeting for us to discuss something that was just put to me by the C-in-C of Starfleet Oceanic. It seems that Starfleet believes that the Orlando Compound is a success, as they have offered to construct a compound here for our Division. They also offered to commission two fully operational shuttles to be kept at the Compound. These offers are open to discussion, as I don't want to simply make a decision and expect you all to just follow along.”
Jason stood up. “Sky, I think I can safely speak for everyone in this room when I say that you should accept that offer. By the sounds of it, these won't be the only things that Starfleet will help us with. If we end up with a group as big as the guys from Orlando, we'll soon have people sleeping in the kitchen.”
“Well, I don't think it'd get THAT bad, but since we all agree, pending the adults' decision, we agree to accept the offer made to us. Now, I need status reports, we'll start with Communications. Zoe?”
Zoe stood up and checked her PADD. “Our network is about 75% operational. I have uplink requests going out to all major child-related facilities all over the country. If they agree to the uplink, they'll be able to leave messages in the system regarding children in need. If they refuse, their facility will be placed on the watch list I created, just in case. I don't think it's wise that anyone refusing a simple thing like an uplink should go unwatched.”
“Sounds like a plan. Co-ordinate with Caleb. As Archivist, he'll need the info for cross-referencing and the like. Security?” Sky said.
“I'm going over security protocols at the moment, and developing plans for various situations. I'll have them done up on the terminal, and sent out to all Oceanic Clan Members, so we all know what to do. Other than that, I plan to check on the defense mechanisms tomorrow to ensure they're all in good order. I'll have a full report on your desk by the end of tomorrow.” Liam said.
“Very well. Intelligence?” Sky smiled as Kane stood up.
“I's been talkin' to Liam. He's tol' me what I gotta do in 'mergencies. I's also been practicin' my powers. I can lift things in th' air and hold 'em up!” Kane said proudly.
“Keep it up, kiddo. You need to be able to do it with hesitation. Liam, make sure you keep up with helping him practice.” Sky said.
“Will do, Sky.”
“Nothing to report at this time. All terminals and associated devices are functioning normally. However, Tim and I would like a private chat with you after this meeting to discuss a couple of plans we're looking to get approval on.” Cody said.
“Okay. Once the meeting's done, we'll head to the bedroom. Supply?”
“I've completed an inventory of what we currently have, and I am making a order request with HQ for what's left.” Kyler said.
“Very well. I think that's it for the status reports. Until HQ's Condition Yellow is lifted, I think it's best we didn't disturb them. Unless anyone has anything else to add, I think that's it. Meeting concluded.”
Everyone went back to what they were doing, as Sky, Cody and Tim all made their way to Sky and Cody's room.
Once they were in the room, all the boys took a seat wherever they could. “So, what'd you have for me?” Sky asked no-one in particular.
“Well, as you're probably aware, Tim and I know each other fairly well, and even if Kyler weren't involved, I think we'd still be really good friends. But that's beside the point. 3 years ago, the two of us both went to a Starfleet camp for those that were interested in the technical part of starship operation. While we were there, they showed us a prototype holographic controller, that I can only assume they have in place on various Starships. The thing is; Tim and I think we can do better than the one they created.” Cody said.
“How do you mean?” Sky asked.
“The device they showed us had some major flaws. The power requirements alone would render a low-class Starship immobile while the device is in use. At to that, the fact that the imaging controller's resolution is blurred, at best, it's not the best projection technology. But we think we've found a way to improve the technology, with your permission. This 'Holodeck', as we called it, would be a great tool for Phaser and Flight Training, as it would have safety protocols to prevent injury from the program itself, twisting your ankle would still hurt, but a punch from a moving target would do nothing but embarrass a person training for Security. And it would even be able to recreate anything you wanted to, so long as it had something to draw 'inspiration' from.” Tim said.
“Sounds like fun. I'll give approval for the two of you to work on that. Anything else?” Sky asked.
“Well, there's another part to this Holodeck. We're gonna try to develop a voice-command computer system for use with it.” Cody said.
“But Starfleet vessels already have voice-command computers. There's not all that much you can do to improve on that, is there?” Sky asked.
“As a matter of fact, there's lots that can be done. We're not talking a computer that you need to be next to when commanding it to do the simple things. We're talking a system that can perform ANYTHING you tell it to do, without needing to be there. It will, hopefully, integrate a Positronic Matrix from an AI unit, specially adapted to the task, to allow it to autonomously modify program parameters as needed, as well as creating base programs.” Cody said.
“How did you come up with using a Positronic Matrix?” Sky asked, shocked. “And how do you know that it'd be okay according to Danny and Marc?”
“I talked to Danny about it yesterday. He's actually the one who suggested that we use the matrix. He said that it can be later upgraded to allow it to create its own holographic image, so it wouldn't just be some slave for us.” Cody said.
“Well, if you think you can pull it off, you have approval to research this, but I want periodic status reports.” Sky said seriously.
As the three boys walked back into the Control Room, they were met with a flurry of activity. Everyone, including Kane, was moving about, doing something to do with their job. Sky walked up to Zoe. So what's our status?”
“I've finished looking through the files on the Youth Services Server. I'm now in the process of creating a program that will give real-time alerts on high priority cases, and will allow us to track the progress of these cases, increasing our response time should we need to intervene.” Zoe said, not looking up from the screen.
“Keep me posted. I need to go see a few adults.” Sky said before turning to Cody. “You coming, babe?”
“Tim, Caleb and me will join you.” KJ said. At Sky's questioning look, he continued. “Well, if we're gonna be of any use to the Clan, we're gonna need to be a bit closer.”
“True. I think there's a number of locations we can choose from. If we can be a bit more south, you'll be closer, and more available to help out.” Sky said speculatively.
As the five boys entered the kitchen, they were met with the adults having coffee, a speakerphone on the table. “So we're in agreement, then?” Harry asked.
“I think so. This should be good for the boys. I'll call Jim and let him know, as well as Kate and Jack. I'm sure they'll be pleased with the outcome.” The voice on the other end of the line said. The adults then said goodbyes and ended the call.
“Boys, we adults have decided that should you accept the offer Admiral Callow put to you, we will support it. If there is the possibility of choosing the location of the Compound, I recommend that it be located somewhere close to Wollongong. The good news is that your three newest Clan Members and their families, will be moving with us, into the Compound. Also, their friends in Kiama will have the choice of joining us, with their families. If all goes to plan, we will have all the families together, and you will have a few more members of the Clan.” Harry said to the boys.
“COOL!!” The boys responded.
“Well, Sky. What's your decision?” Linda asked.
“Let's do it! A location near Wollongong will help when the case involves patients in both Wollongong and Sydney hospitals.” Sky said in thought.
“Well, get to it. You need to let Admiral Callow know the answer.” Harry said with a smile.
“Okay. C'mon guys. Let's go make a call.”
“Hang on, young man. You have a little one that needs some 'Daddy Time'.” Linda said.
“Yes, Mum.” Sky said, walking towards her. “Hey, Little Man. You come with us and talk to a spaceman?” He cooed.
As the boys were walking to the office, the doorbell rang throughout the house. When Linda went and answered the door, she was surprised to see Delta Goodrem standing on the other side.
“Ms. Goodrem. My, my, what a pleasant shock this is.” Linda said.
“Please, call me Delta. One of the boys gave me your address after the concert yesterday, and I thought I'd pop in. Pretty easy, considering my family live in this area.” Delta said with a smile.
“Well, come on in. I'm just about to put some lunch together. Do you like lasagna?” Linda asked.
“Actually, it's my favourite food.”
“Well then, I insist you join us for lunch. The boys are currently taking care of some Clan business. They should be down shortly.” Linda said, guiding Delta towards the dining room.
“Actually, I'd like to talk to Sky, if possible. There's something I need to ask him.” Delta said, suddenly nervous.
“Okay. They're in the office, down the hall, third on the left.”
Delta walked into the office to hear the tail end of the conversation on the Comm Unit. “Then it's settled. I'll look into possible locations for the Compound and forward the list to your Comm Officer. Enjoy the rest of your day, Mr. Thomas.”
“And yourself, Admiral Callow. I look forward to finalising the arrangements.” Sky said, before signing off the unit. He turned and noticed Delta standing in the doorway, a look of mild surprise on her face. “Delta! What are you doing here?”
Delta snapped out of her musings enough to say, “Just popped in to say hello. And, I also wanted to ask you a question.”
“Well, go ahead. We were just finalising some plans for the Clan.”
“Well, my younger brother, Trent, came to me last night, and he told me he's gay. I still love him like nothing else in my life, but I'm not all that sure that that's enough. I was wondering if you might give me some advice to help me prove that I support him. He hasn't told our parents yet, and I don't think he should, they're not very supportive of him, and they seem to focus all their love on me.”
“How old is Trent?” Tim asked.
“He's 15. He apparently knew when he was 13, and it's taken him this long to work up the courage to tell me.”
“Well, bring him over and he can join us for lunch. At least he'll know a lot of other gay boys like him, and even a straight boy to be his friend.” Cody said.
“Are you sure?” Delta asked, hope shining in her eyes.
“We wouldn't say it if we didn't mean it.” Sky said with a smile. “Besides, he might be able to learn a few pranks to play on you from the younger ones.”
“He doesn't need help with that.” Delta laughed. “I'll just head home now and bring him here.”
With that, Delta left the office. The boys then chatted among themselves for 5 minutes, before Bradin started to fuss in Sky's arms. Sky started to get up, but Tim came over. “I'll take care of the little man, if you don't mind.”
Sky smiled, “Sure, thanks.”
After Tim had left the office, Kyler spoke up. “I think you'll wanna watch what happens when Tim meets Trent. I think it'll be interesting.”
“What do you mean?” Cody asked.
“I mean, Tim is a very liberal person when it comes to homosexuality.... too liberal. I get the feeling that deep down; he is, in fact, at least questioning his own sexuality.” Kyler said.
“And you think Trent will be a catalyst for this?” Sky asked seriously.
“He could be. I've seen pictures of Delta with her brother in magazines. He looks to be a combination of myself and Caleb, and I'm sure I've seen Tim staring at me and Caleb for no reason sometimes. Besides, Tim's ego is very easily shattered. If he was gay, I don't think he'd be able to find a boyfriend anywhere, as he'd be too scared of rejection. The fact that he now knows that Trent is gay might just push him along. Also, his relationships never last more than a week, and all his relationships so far have been with girls.”
“Well, you make some good points there. I mean, Zoe IS drop-dead gorgeous, but he didn't even bat an eyelid.” Cody said in thought.
“And he's the same with Joanne... in fact; I think Joanne may already know. The two of them are always going out for lunch, and Dave doesn't seem to have a problem with it. Perhaps he's in on it as well.”
“Well, we'll find out soon enough, won't we?” Caleb said, snuggling into Kyler.
“Well, we'd best go make sure Bradin's okay. I'm sure Tim has him changed by now.” As Sky finished his sentence, the doorbell rang again. “We should get that, first. It's probably Delta.”
The group answered the door to find Delta standing there smiling, a nervous 15 year old boy standing next to her. “Delta, from now on, you don't need to ring the doorbell, simply walk on in.” Cody said.
“Sure. Guys, I'd like you to meet my brother, Trent. Trent, these are the guys I told you about yesterday. This is Sky Thomas, Head of Clan Short's Oceanic Division, and his boyfriend, Cody Thomas. Um, the other two are new guys, and I'm afraid I didn't catch your names.”
“Oh sorry. I'm Kyler Thomas, and this is my boyfriend, Caleb Mitchells. We arrived this morning with my mum to visit. My friend, Tim York, is inside with Bradin.”
“Oh, can we go see Bradin? I feel like he's my little nephew.” Delta said. “I heard about what happened after the concert, and it's like he's the embodiment of the message of the concert.”
“Well, if you're to become a more permanent part of his life, then I see no reason that you can't be his aunt.” Sky said cryptically.
The group all moved to the kitchen, to find Tim standing there, playing games with Bradin, who was giggling and smiling at Tim. “Don't go spoiling my son too much, Tim.” Sky said jokingly.
“It's my prerogative as his uncle to spoil...” Tim said as he turned around, stopping short when his eyes landed on Trent. The rest of the group watched with smiles as both boys' eyes went misty as they stared at each other. “H-hi...” Tim whispered.
“Hi.” Trent shyly responded. The staring competition ended when Bradin cooed from Tim's arms, obviously disgruntled by the sudden stop to the playtime.
“Hows about you let Delta take Bradin from you, Tim, so that you and Trent can become acquainted?” Sky said, fighting back a bout of giggles.
”O-okay.” Both boys responded, blushing. Delta took Bradin from Tim's arms, cooing to the small boy.
“My name is Tim.” Tim whispered.
“Mine's Trent.” Trent replied just as softly.
Kyler giggled as he stage whispered to the others, “See, told ya so.”
“Told who, what?” Delta asked, Bradin happily playing with her shirt.
“Look at those two.” Kyler said, pointing to the two shy, quiet boys. “I had just finished telling the others before you and Trent showed up that Trent may be just what Tim needed to poke his head out of the closet, so to speak. And I'd say that from their reactions, I was on the money.”
“Well, I hope they're both happy with each other. I always hoped Trent would find that special someone. He deserves it.” Delta said with a fond smile.
“And what about you, Delta? Anyone special in your life?” Cody asked slyly.
“That, little brother, is none of your business.” Delta replied, slapping Cody upside the head.
“OW! No need for violence.” Cody smiled.
“BOYS! DELTA! Lunch is nearly ready! Get cleaned up and get your butts into the dining room!” Linda voice carried into the room.
“We'd best not keep her waiting.” Cody said with a small grimace. “Someone'd better get those two moving to the bathroom.” He finished, gesturing to the two boys still lost in each others' eyes.
Delta and Kyler both shared a look, before grinning. “Food.” They said in unison.
This snapped the two boys out of their trance-like states. “Where?” They both asked.
“Come on, you knuckleheads.” Delta said. “We have to wash up first. Come on, all of you, march.”
The group of youths had all returned to the apartment, to plan out the layout for the new Compound, and to take care of other Clan business.
“Okay guys. Last order of business. Delta and Trent, would the two of you like to join the Clan, and help kids who need help?” Sky asked.
“I'm in.” Delta said instantly.
“Cool. Trent?” Sky asked, having seen no sign of recognition from the other boy.
“I just asked if you'd like to join Clan Short and help kids around the country.” Sky said, fighting to keep from giggling audibly at Trent's vacant look.
“Uh, sure. Is Tim a member?” Trent asked with a blush.
“He is, but why do you wanna know?” Sky asked slyly.
“No reason.” Trent replied, blush deepening.
Tim and Trent both broke away from the group once the meeting was done. Trent's attention was more on Tim than the communicator he was issued on joining the Clan.
“So, um, uh, are you... seeing anyone?” Trent asked cautiously.
“That... that, kinda... depends.” Tim replied.
“Oh. I just... I just thought, maybe...” Trent trailed off, disappointment evident in his voice.
“Well, it depends on... I guess... would... um... doyouwannagooutsometime?” Tim asked, nerves causing him to muddle the words together.
Tim cleared his throat before looking into Trent's eyes. “I was asking if you'd like to go out sometime.”
“Um, uh, I mean, YES! I'd love to! You do mean a date, don't you?”
“Um, yeah, I mean a date... I think.”
The two boys then looked deep into each other's eyes, slowly leaning into each other, to share a chaste kiss. They then gave each other shy smiles, before taking each other by the hand and walking back into the apartment's lounge.
Well there you have it. I know, again it's taken forever for this, and I'm afraid the prognosis is it may be as long a wait for the next chapter, as I've realised that I'm young, therefore the seemingly genetic wiring in me is provoking me to chase dreams out on the open seas. However, until I can actually get out there, I'm in the midst of planning a relocation to more opportunistic locales in Oz.
I thought it best to end the chapter here, in a nice point, despite the fact that the chapter kept falling from my fingers like a vocabularial waterfall (How quaint, I just used both a word that likely doesn't even exist, and a simile that probably doesn't even work *giggle*) Next chapter, there is likely to be a few more things of action to occur.
I for one am very glad to see another chapter in this Clan story from Down Under. It is amazing what changes a little love and acceptance can cause in those who are in need and receive them. Sky and Cody keep blossoming and growing more assured of themselves and their lives everyday. I also like the fact that Sky and Cody attempt to involve Kane and Bradin in almost everything they do; that will go along way towards building those youngsters self esteem. I just hope that Sky and Cody rely on Harry and Linda if the pressures of their Clan expanding so rapidly overwhelm them. Sky and Cody don't have a Big Brother like Aaron to help them.
Here's best wishes on your relocation Boi From Aus and hoping that you find a job that suits you to a "T"