Memories: Down Under

Book 1

Chapter 10 - The Family Grows

Thomas Residence, 4PM 18th October, Apartment Lounge

Tim and Trent walked in to find Zoe and Liam sitting together on the chaise lounge, Liam's arms wrapped around Zoe's waist. They also saw Sky and Cody sitting at the computer, chatting to friends on the Internet.

“Oh, hey guys. We're just enjoying the company of each other. So, are you two official yet?” Sky asked bluntly, earning him an elbow to the ribs and a disapproving stare from Cody. “What?! I asked a perfectly legitimate question.”

“Yeah, but you, my dear, have no tact, whatsoever. That question would be more at home coming from Kane's mouth than yours.” Cody replied, rolling his eyes.

“No, we're not 'official'. However,” at this, Trent got down on one knee and looked into Tim's eyes. “Tim, in the time that we've known each other, all of an hour, I feel as though I've known you my whole life, and yet I've also been waiting for you for the same amount of time. Tim York, would you do me the honour of going on a date with me?”

Everyone else in the room's hearts had nearly stopped, thinking Trent was asking 'the big question', but the question asked had everyone fighting to stifle laughs, not wanting to spoil the occasion for either boy involved.

“Uh, um, YES! Yes, of course I'll go on a date with you.” Tim said, throwing his arms around Trent and jumping up and down ecstatically.

Everyone else in the room went back to their own activities, inwardly smiling at the scene they had all just witnessed. When Tim and Trent had finished, they both sat on the chaise lounge, mimicking Zoe and Liam's position, sharing loving looks.

It was while Cody and Sky were talking to a friend in America that a Skype message opened, requesting contact details from someone whose screen name read 'super-twin-6-one', whose personal message read that they needed help immediately. Sky accepted the request, and started a quick chat with the person. It was the first reply he received that set him in motion:

super-twin-6-one says: my twin brother's been kidnapped, and they're hurting him. you have to help him, it hurts!! we're 6 years old, white, male, with brown hair and silver eyes.

“Guys! Prepare for action. Preliminary report states that a 6-year old Caucasian male, brown hair, silver eyes has been kidnapped. Report made by his apparent twin brother. Set Condition Yellow. Action Stations, I want a full report in 5 minutes. Zoe, I'll put you on the IM to talk to the twin online. I need you to get as much info as you can, and keep him calm. Cody, organise for transportation, I want a team to extract both boys from their locations. Don't assume Safe Haven until their situations have been confirmed.”

“What about me?” Kane asked.

“You, buddy, will be joining the away team, to help keep the kidnapped twin calm. You worked on your empathy with Tyler, didn't you? And you've been practising, yeah?”

“Uh huh. I'll keep him happy with my powers, and I'll talk to him and keep him distracted.”

“Good. You better get ready then. Can you also go and tell the adults, and see if one of them can help, in case we need it. And Mum needs to get ready to invoke the SHA in case we need her to. Liam, I need you to get the away team ready. All necessary precautions are to be taken. Jason, you're on the away team. Zeke, you can help Liam, from this point, you're the Second-in-Command of Security. Tim, Kyler and Caleb, you're on the team. Kyler, you're in charge of the team. Delta, Trent, you can sit back and see which post you want to try your hand at, and once Kane's team is off-site, you're the liaisons between us and the adults. Everyone move.”

5 minutes later, the away team was ready for transport, and Sky was reviewing the information that Zoe and Zeke had managed to obtain from Kosta, the twin who reported the kidnapping. “Okay guys, Kosta Watts' twin brother, Isaac Watts has been kidnapped from their house, and Kosta believes that he'll be next. The mission is to get in, get Isaac and get back. In the meantime, Mum and Auntie Ella will be going and assessing the home environment that the boys are living in. If they find anything not right, the boys will be brought back here under the Safe Haven Act. I'll be going with Mum and Auntie Ella, the rest of you know your tasks. Let's get it done safely and all be back without injuries. Let's go.” And with that, the group split up, the away team grouping up, as Kyler pulled out his communicator, and Sky went downstairs to the adults.

“Clan Short Oceanic Extraction team to Starfleet Oceanic. Six to beam to Ops Central to connect to destination to be provided upon arrival.” Kyler said in as deep a voice as he could muster, falling back to his training from supermarket work.

“Starfleet Oceanic to Extraction Team. You are second in line for transport. Stand-by for further confirmation.” The technician at the other end said.

“Acknowledged, Starfleet Oceanic. Standing-by.” Kyler replied, before turning to the rest of the group. “Okay guys, from what I've heard, transporter travel is like a tingling sensation. Just stand still, and when we get to Ops Central, stay on the pad unless the technician tells you to get down. You'd best get yourselves ready now, as once we depart, we'll be there in less than a minute. Liam, hold your fire unless the situation absolutely calls for it.”

“Starfleet Oceanic to Extraction Team. Ready for transport on your command.”

“Energise.” Kyler said through his communicator, before the team dissolved into the usual shower of sparkles.

Somewhere near Mildura, Victoria

The shower of sparkles resolved into the forms of the members of the extraction team outside a citrus packing shed. Instantly, a gunshot rang out, the bullet ricocheting off a tractor the boys had appeared behind.

“Everybody down!” Kyler whispered. “Liam, see if you can get a clear shot, stun only.”

Liam slowly made his way to the front of the tractor, peeking around; to see the gun in question aimed out of a window, the man in charge aimlessly firing at random points. Liam took aim at the gun, firing at the hand that held it, resulting in the gun dropping out of the hand, which was pulled in, the man cursing loudly.

“Go, but be careful. I can make out one target with a gun at the hostage's head, I'll go for him. Zeke, you cover me. Kane, use your powers to help calm Isaac.” Liam whispered, before he began to make his move on the building.

The team made their move as one, Kane falling into a trance-like state, Kyler leading Tim and Caleb to the rear of the building, to wait for the signal to free the hostage. Liam and Zeke began to advance on the structure, phasers drawn and ready to fire.

Liam signalled for Zeke to hold his position, as he performed a quick count of targets. Counting three 'tangos', including the unarmed man now cradling a numb hand, he signalled for Zeke to target the second man standing guard, now alerted to the presence of intruders, as he prepared to take down the man standing behind a boy Liam could only assume was Isaac.

Ten minutes later, Thomas Residence

Sky had just completed his part of the operation, and Kosta was now wrapped around him, soaking up all the affection he could get, after his traumatic experience.

When Sky and the adults that accompanied him arrived at the address Kosta had given Zoe, they were confronted at the door by a tall, rail-thin man the group could only guess had been using drugs for many years. When the man spoke, their suspicions were confirmed.

“Ya?” The man asked in a voice that gave evidence of a high.

“I'm sorry to disturb you, sir, but we're here to speak to Kosta.” Linda said in a professional tone.

“There 'as on'y two o' ya las' time.” The man slurred out.

“Last time, sir?” Linda asked.

“Ya, when ya's came t' ge' th' oth'r one.” The man replied. “An' where's th' money ya said ya's'd give us?”

“Money? Are you saying that you SOLD your son, Isaac?” Sky asked, beginning to see red.

“Well, yah. I mean, how else we s'posed t' 'fford the E?” The man asked.

“E? As in, ecstasy?” Linda asked, already knowing the answer, and the implications it had.

“Duh.” The man laughed a drug-affected laugh. “Ya's said th' boys'd be worth a lot in movies an' all. An' th' oth'r one's even bett'r 'an th' firs'. I know, I've tried.”

“Okay, I've heard enough. Sir, you are now under arrest for the use of an illegal substance, statutory rape, selling a minor for profit, attempting to do same, and I'm sure we'll have a lot more by the end of the day.” Linda said, displaying her Starfleet ID in the man's face. “Sky, go and get Kosta. Ella will come with you and help collect some of the boys' things.”

Sky ran past the living room of the house, noticing the woman passed out on the couch, as he ran to the back of the house towards a room that had signs on it saying, 'Kosta and Isaac’s room' as well as the traditional boy's sign, 'Boys only, no girls'. Ella had to chuckle when she noticed the signs, until she noticed the sign below, written in a boyish scrawl that read 'No bad men allowed'.

Sky opened the door, and the two noticed the 6-year old seated at the computer, tears running down his face. Kosta turned and noticed the two people standing in the doorway to the room, and broke out into full sobs, as he ran across the room and almost dove into Sky's body, wrapping his arms around Sky's waist in a grip that showed he didn't intend to let go.

“Hey, little buddy. My name's Sky, is yours Kosta?” Sky asked softly, running his fingers through the young boy's almond brown hair, slightly matted from an obvious lack of washing.

“Uh huh. Is Isaac wiv you??” The young boy asked from Sky's waist.

“No, little buddy. I have a team that's now getting him away from the bad men. He'll be coming to my house once my friends have got him. Right now, I need to ask you a few questions, while my Aunt Ella here gets a few of yours and Isaac’s things and clothes to bring with us. Is that okay?” Sky asked gently.

“Uh huh.” Was the muffled reply.

“Go ahead, Aunt Ella. Okay, little buddy; let's hop on the bed, that way you can cuddle me as I ask you the questions I need to.” It took a little manoeuvring, but the boys both got themselves settled on the bed as Sky began his questions. “Okay, first things first. When did the bad men take Isaac away?”

“Two days ago. Mummy and Daddy answered the door, and then they came to our room and told us only Isaac was to go out there, and then the bad men looked at him, said 'he's perfect', and then they took him to a black van and drove away.”

“Did you see what happened from the door?”

“No. Um, Isaac and me can, kinda, see and hear what the other one sees or hears.” Kosta said, fear lacing his voice.

“That tells me that you two are very special. That's a special gift that I've never heard of before, but I think that out of all my friends, one of them can probably help the two of you to hone that gift. Would you like that?” Sky asked, shocked at the description of the gift he'd just heard.

“Really? So we're not freaks?” Kosta asked.

“No, not at all, little one.” Ella interrupted. “Anyone who calls the two of you freaks doesn't understand that your gift is from God, and He gave it to you for a reason. That gift may just be used in the future to help others in a very positive way.” She finished, gently wrapping her arms around the scared little boy in her arms.

“SKY! We need to get ready to go! The local police need an empty house to perform their investigation.” Linda's voice said from the entry hall.

“Coming, Mum. Okay, Kosta. What's gonna happen now is you'll come with us to my house, and then once my brothers get Isaac, they'll meet us there, okay?”

“I guess so.” Kosta replied.

“Okay, lil' buddy. I need you to hop up, so I can stand up and we'll go with Auntie Ella back to my mum. You won't have to see your mum and dad if you don't want to. It's all your choice.” Sky said.

“I wanna tell them I won't miss them.” Kosta said.

“Sorry, lil’ buddy, but I don't think it'd be a good idea for you to do that. That's not good for your mental health right now. If you wanna say goodbye nicely, then we'll do so, but I'm not about to let you say that to them, okay?” Sky said in a firm tone.

“Okay. But I won't miss 'em.” Kosta said, tears welling up in his eyes.

“That's fine, but I can't let you do that to yourself. So, do you wanna say goodbye nicely?”


“Let's go then. Auntie Ella, you ready to go?” Sky asked.

“Ready when you are. Anything else you want to bring with you, Kosta?” Ella asked.

“No. We don't gots any special stuff. Just clothes.” Kosta replied.

“Come on, lil’ buddy.” Sky said, leading Kosta out of the room and to the living room, where they were met with the sight of Kostas’ parents handcuffed and under the supervision of local authorities, Linda watching and waiting.

“Kosta wanted to say goodbye to the two of you before we left.” Sky said firmly.

“Like I wanna talk to that little snitch. No doubt he's been telling lies about being forced to do 'things'.” Kostas’ mother said venomously.

“As a matter of fact, your husband did that for him. Maybe, if you ever get out of jail, Saint Mikey forbid, you should teach him to not open his mouth when he's on a high. I was going to give you the benefit of the doubt, but your own big mouth just blew that up.” Sky then turned to the police officer in charge. “Excuse me, Sergeant Jacobs. I do not have my ID as of yet, however, I am Skylan Thomas, Head of Clan Short of Vulcan's Oceanic Division. I must inform you that as of now, I must take jurisdiction over this investigation, under Vulcan law. If you wish to verify this claim, please feel free to contact the Vulcan Embassy in San Francisco.”

“I'm going to have to do that. Standard Procedure, I'm afraid. Once I have verified the veracity of your claim, I'll gladly step aside. I have heard many a good thing about Clan Short. I'll only be a moment.” Sergeant Jacobs said, then turned around and began speaking into his radio.

“Are you sure about this?” Linda asked.

“Positive. From the evidence we have at our disposal, it would be logical to assume that a death sentence is unnecessary. Until such time as the determination is made on the investigation, Starfleet Oceanic can hold them in a cell, separate of course.” Sky said.

“If you're sure. Ella, would you like to take Kostas’ things to the car? That way, we can get out of here as soon as this mess is sorted.” Linda said.

“Sure.” Ella replied, as Sergeant Jacobs turned around again.

“Well, that's that sorted. Mr. Thomas, you have access to any resources of the Victorian Police force that you need, care of the Commissioner. Might I commend you and your Clan on the fine work you are doing to tackle society's problems.” Sergeant Jacobs said.

“Thank you for your assistance today, and please thank the Commissioner on behalf of my Patriarch.” Sky said professionally.

“I'll do that. Hopefully, the next time we meet is in a much better situation.” Sergeant Jacobs said, before turning to address his officers.

Sky turned to Linda, “Mum, I'll need you as witness to this tribunal, and I'll need to borrow your opinion.” He then turned to the handcuffed individuals on the floor. “Mrs Watts, as your husband is evidently too inebriated to know what's going on around him right now, I'll trust you to explain it all to him when he comes back down.”

Sky then pulled his communicator out and keyed it to the Control Centre at home. “Director Sky to Clan Oceanic Control.”

“Control, Vander here, go ahead sir.” Zoe's voice came through in a professional tone.

“Zoe, I need you to tie my communicator into the terminal and begin recording. Priority One.”

“Acknowledged. Communicator uplink established. Recording initiated. Proceed, Director.”

“Thank you.” Sky said, before placing the communicator on the coffee table in the room. “The following is the tribunal of the parents of Kosta Luis and Isaac Geoffrey Watts, both aged 6, of the town of Balranald, New South Wales, in the country of Australia. This tribunal is on the following charges: two counts of possession and use of an illegal substance in the presence of minor children, four counts of attempting to sell minor children for profit and two counts of statutory rape of a minor child, on the part of Mr Watts. This investigation shall be considered open until a full telepathic scan can be performed on all involved parties to determine a full list of charges that apply. Have either of you anything to say thus far?”

“This is sounding ridiculous, ain't nothin' a punk like you can do.” Mrs Watts said venomously, as Ella returned to the room.

“That's not true, Mrs Watts. I happen to be the mother of this young man, and I can vouch for the fact that once he's decided your sentence, there's no court in this universe that can over-rule his decision. The only hope you would have is that one of the two people he answers to would change the sentence, but in this case, I think they'd be more inclined to worsen the punishment, so I'd be keeping quiet if you have nothing pleasant to say.” Linda said in an icy tone.

Ella watched the unfolding scene before her with a sense of awe. Sky gave Linda a look of thanks, then returned to the task at hand. “For the benefit of the recording, the preceding statement was entered by Linda Thomas, Director of Starfleet Oceanic's Youth Services Division. This investigation will be continued, after a telepathic scan to gather any and all evidence in the investigation. Until such a scan can be completed, the suspects shall be detained at Starfleet Oceanic. Thus concludes this portion of the investigation.” Sky said, and then picked up the communicator from the coffee table. “End recording thank you, Zoe. Add that file to the Watts case file.”

“You got it, Sky. File saved and added to case file. There have been shots fired at the retrieval area.” Zoe said.

“No worries. Thanks for that, Zoe. We'll be back shortly, as soon as I've tied up these loose ends. Keep me up to date on what's happening with the extraction team. Thomas out.”

“No worries. Vander out.” Came the reply.

Sky tuned a new frequency into his communicator. “Director Thomas of Clan Short to Starfleet Security.”

“Security, Ensign Mainz responding. How can I help you, Director?”

“I need personnel to transport two detainees to separate medium security detainment cells. They are to be held indefinitely, until such time as a Clan Investigation can be completed.”

“Right away, sir. Mainz out.”

Sky closed his communicator and then turned to Ella, “Aunt Ella, is Kosta all set to go?”

“He is, Sky. And when we get everything settled down, I want to talk to you in private. Nothing bad, but I am a psychiatrist, and I feel I need to help you the only way I can.” Ella said firmly.

“Okay, Aunt Ella.” Sky said.

Their attention was directed back to the situation at hand by the distinct sound of transporter activity, as two uniformed Starfleet Security officers beamed into the living room. Sky pointed to the two people on the floor, speaking to the officers. “There are your escorts. See that they are placed in the right hands. They need a nice early start to their lessons in what happens when you mistreat a child.” He said in a cold voice.

“Aye, sir.” One of the officers said, as both helped the detainees to their feet, before they were enveloped in another shower of sparks as they were beamed out again, the detainees disappearing with them.

“Well, what say we get out of here, and make sure the other team is okay?” Linda asked no one in particular.

“Agreed.” Came the response from both Sky and Ella, before the three of them all walked out of the house, Linda pulling the door shut behind her.

Now, they were sitting there waiting for the other group to return from the divisions first away team mission, Zoe maintaining a communications link with Kane to keep on top of any new developments.

“What's gonna happen to Isaac and me now?” Kosta asked from his position, face planted in Sky's chest, slightly muffling his voice.

Sky manoeuvred the young boy so that he could look him in the eyes as he replied. “Well, kiddo, that depends on what you want. I'm gonna guess that you want to stay with Isaac, and we're not going to separate the two of you, even if you didn't care. What we're gonna do, is wait for Isaac to get here with my brothers, and then, we're gonna figure out where to place you, but don't worry, it'll definitely be with one of our families, so you'll be seeing a lot of me in the future. How's that sound?”

“I like that idea. I love you, Sky.” Kosta said boyishly.

“I love you too, kiddo. In fact, if I didn't have Bradin already, I'd take you myself. You're a special little boy, and I'm glad I'm going to get to watch you grow up.” Sky said with a smile.

“You'd really take me and Isaac in?” Kosta asked in awe.

“Of course. Unfortunately, I'm thinking Aunt Ella has already begun sinking her claws into you. I think it's a safe thing to say that by the end of the day, you'll be starting your new life with your new family.”

“Cool.” Kosta replied softly.

It was at that moment that the telltale sound of a transporter beam could be heard from the backyard. The group in the apartment quickly made their way downstairs to the backyard. As they approached the group that had beamed in, Kosta broke away from Sky and ran to his twin, and the two brothers threw their arms around each other, tears flowing freely from their eyes. Zoe quickly threw her arms around Liam, before planting a brief kiss on his cheek.

Trent approached Tim, unsure whether he should hug him or not. Tim eliminated his worry, when he threw his arms around the other teen, glad that he could do so with someone. Trent then wrapped his own arms around the other boy, soaking in the obvious feelings of happiness emanating from him.

Sky walked up to Cody, wrapping his arms around him, and planting a kiss on his lips, reality fading away for the two boys as the kiss deepened. It was only the sound of Delta clearing her throat that caused them to break their kiss. “Someone wants their daddies.” She said, as she handed Bradin to Cody, who smiled in joy at the little boy in his arms.

“Hey, buddy boy. Were you a good boy for Auntie Delta?” He cooed to the boy.

“Wow, I don't think I ever want to get used to hearing that. 'Auntie Delta', that's just too cool!” Delta said.

“Well you should get used to it, it is official after all.” Sky said with a smile.

“Oh, your Mum sent me out here to get the group to come inside. Sky, once the Clan debriefing's over with, Aunt Ella said to tell you she expects to see you in the office.” Delta said.

“'Aunt Ella'? She got you too, didn't she?” Cody asked with a smile.

“That she did, and I for one would not want to be on the wrong side of that woman.” Delta replied with a laugh.

“No, I pity the foolish person to argue with the fearsome Aunt Ella.” Cody said with a chuckle.

“Come on, guys. Let's get the business side of things done with, so we can relax a bit.” Sky said.

As the group walked towards the house, Kosta ran up and held Sky's hand, as Isaac ran up and held Cody's.

The group walked into the living room, where the adults were all gathered, and all took their seats, Kosta and Isaac sitting in the laps of Sky and Cody, respectively.

When everyone was seated, Linda stood up. “Okay, guys. We're here to find out who Kosta and Isaac will be placed with. Is there anything we need to know about the boys before we proceed?”

“That won't be necessary, Linda. Ben and I will take them in. Kosta wormed his way into my heart, and it's easy for me to see that Isaac will do the same. Boys, come here.” Ella said.

Kosta was faster in approaching Ella than Isaac, but both boys had hopeful looks on their faces, as they were pulled into a loose hug by Ella. “Would you two like to join my family as my sons? And just know that this is forever, and if you say yes, I'll hold on to you as best I can for the rest of our lives.”

“But, what if we're freaks?” Isaac asked, shocking everyone in the room, except the group that had extracted Kosta.

“We're not freaks, 'Zac. Sky tol' me that we's special, and that God still loves us.” Kosta said proudly.

“Really? We're not freaks, ev'n though we can see through each other's eyes?” Isaac asked, hope shining in his eyes.

“No, baby boy. You two are special boys who have a gift that helps you make sure your twin is safe. You see that boy your age sitting on that big boy's lap?” Ella asked, pointing to Kane, who had perched himself on Jason's lap, and waved slightly to the two boys in Ella's arms.

“Yeah. That's Kane, he was wiv the big boys that saved me, an' he made me feel safe while the big boys was tyin' up the bad men.” Isaac said, smiling slightly at the memory.

“Well, I'm willing to bet that one of the reasons why he was able to make you feel safe is because he's what we call empathic. That means he has a special gift just like you and your brother. But, while yours allows you to see and hear what Kosta does, his allows him to know what you're feeling, and possibly change what you're feeling.” Ella said, smiling at Kane.

“An' I'm tel'pafic. That means I can move things wiv my mind!” Kane said excitedly.

“See, he's just as special as the two of you. And I think the three of you will be able to work together to improve your abilities.” Ella said.

“Wow, you really DO luv us!” Isaac said in awe.

“Of course. Now, see that boy there?” Ella asked, pointing to Tim.

“Uh huh. He was one of the big boys that came and rescu'd me.” Isaac said, smiling to Tim.

“That's your new big brother.” Ella said.

“REALLY?! We gots a big br'ther?” Isaac and Kosta asked in unison.

“Yup, now come here, guys. Your new big brother wants a big hug.” Tim said, kneeling and opening his arms in invitation. The twins both rushed him and threw their arms around him tight.

“I wouldn't think either boy would be so willing to engage in physical contact with a near stranger.” Linda said speculatively.

“Think about it like this, Mum. Isaac’s just been involved in a major situation in which Tim was the one to personally cut the ropes binding him, so to Isaac, Tim is a larger-than-life hero. Kosta is able to know what Isaac is thinking due to their primitive 'Twin Link', and so he can see the trust that Isaac has placed in Tim, and that incentive enough for him to trust Tim himself.” Cody said in thought, as the room watched as Kosta and Isaac soaked in the love they were receiving from Tim.

Once the three boys had separated, Linda stood and addressed the group again. “Well, we'd best make this placement permanent; otherwise we may have some problems later. Kosta and Isaac, do you want to live with Ella? And remember, this is a permanent arrangement. Ella will be your mum forever and even longer than that.” she asked formally.

“Yes, please. We want Mummy to be our new mummy.” The twins answered in unison.

“Oh, it's been years since I've been referred to as 'Mummy'.” Ella said, wiping her eyes.

“Ella, do you accept permanent custody of Kosta Luis Watts and Isaac Geoffrey Watts?” Linda asked Ella seriously.

“On behalf of myself and my whole family, we do.” Ella answered reverently.

“Then that's official. The boys are now members of the Thomas family. The official name changes will take place at the earliest possible time. Congratulations, guys.” Linda finished with a smile.

After about 10 minutes of everyone congratulating Kosta, Isaac, Ella and Tim, they all split up and proceeded to go about their own thing.

“Hey, babe. What say we go to our room and spend some time together with Bradin?” Cody asked with a peaceful smile.

“Sounds good. You head on up, and I'll be there in a second, I'll just let everyone know that we'll be out of sight for a bit.” Sky said, before the two shared a quick peck on the lips, and Cody went upstairs to the apartment.

Sky made his way to the kitchen, where he found the adults and Delta, all engaged in a serious conversation. “Mum, Cody and I are going to our room to spend some time together with Bradin. I think we might also have a nap while we're at it. I know I'm tired, and I wasn't even involved with getting Isaac.”

“Okay, sweetie. Can you send Tim, Trent and the twins in if you see them? We need to discuss a few things with them all.” Linda replied.

“No worries.” Sky said, walking back to the stairs to return to the apartment. When he walked into the apartment's lounge room, he encountered the rest of the gang. “Tim and Trent, you and the twins need to go downstairs to the kitchen. The oldies wanna chat to yas.”

“'k. Let's go, guys.” Tim said, as he and Trent each picked up one of the twins, throwing them over their shoulders, before walking out the door, the twins giggling madly as they bounced up and down on their 'rides'.

Sky then made his way into his and Cody's room, locking the door behind him, and made himself comfortable on their bed.

Downstairs in the kitchen, Delta sat and listened as the other adults discussed the move, relationships and future actions. She felt as though her life was nearing a level of stability she had never known before, and was extremely glad she had met Sky and Cody at Dreamworld. As an adult, she knew that her parents couldn't do anything to stop her from following Trent in moving to the new compound, but she was worried that their parents would do everything in their power to stop Trent from living his own life, away from them, if only to keep Delta (and her income) in the house.

Trent and Tim then entered the room, each carrying one of the giggling twins, before putting the boys down, who then ran up to Delta and climbed into her lap, chorusing “Hi, Auntie Delta.”

Delta's smile grew as she wrapped her arms around both boys, kissing each on their cheeks. “Hey boys. You having fun?”

“Uh huh.” Both boys chorused again.

“Well, I need you to be quiet for a little bit, while we adults talk about stuff that concerns everyone here, even you, okay?”

“Okay. We'll be ver' quiet.”

“Okay. So, Trent and Tim. I think it's a little obvious to everyone that there's a relationship developing between the two of you, yes?” Ella asked.

“Yeah. You don't think my parents will be disappointed, do you?” Tim asked uncertainly.

“Honey, if they do have a problem with it, they can deal with it. If it comes down to it, we'll be there to care for you. But honestly, I don't see your parents having a problem with the relationship. It's more likely they may have a problem with having to relocate, but that's for us adults to deal with, not you guys.” Ella said, standing and pulling both boys into a hug.

“Now, as you're aware, there's a new compound being built for the Clan Oceanic team. This new compound will have accommodations for all Clan members in the form of cottage-style houses. What we need to know is if you and Trent will be in the same house. Trent, if your parents disown you, as Delta believes is likely to happen, you can be assured that you'll have a place at the new compound.” Linda said.

“Thank you.” Trent said, tearing up.

“No worries, mate. We all need to take care of our own.” Harry said, throwing his arm around Trent and squeezing slightly.

“Well, that's settled. Just so you know, Harry and myself will be taking you home later, that way we can make sure that if anything happens, you don't have to stay there, unless you want to.” Ella said.

“Thanks. I don't think they'll like hearing that I'm gay. I don't think they'll hit me or anything, but they won't be happy.” Trent said sadly.

“Hey, little brother. I know, and I don't care, so you're not losing the whole family. And Grandma and Grandpa were okay with Uncle Louis when he came out to them and introduced them to Uncle Kent.” Delta said with a small smile.

“I know. It's just, you were always the loved one, and I don't hold that against you, but it was hard to see them get so excited about anything you did, and if I did something special, I was cast aside as though it was nothing, even when I won the school swimming championships in freestyle, and even set the school record, they just said 'Swimming won't get you anywhere in life'.” Trent said softly.

Delta then pulled her brother into her arms, rocking him gently as she spoke, “It's almost over. You have something even I don't have, and there's a chance I may never find it. And that's someone that truly loves you for you. Whoever I find, there's always the chance that they're only interested in the 'celebrity' factor that comes with me. Right now, all I need in my life is you, little brother.”

“Thanks Del.” Was Trent’s muffled reply.

Meanwhile, upstairs

Zeke and Jason were enjoying some time together in their room, when Zeke heard cries coming from Sky and Cody’s room. “Hey, Jase. I’m gonna go get Bradin. He’s just woken up, and those two will need their sleep.” Zeke said, placing a quick kiss on Jason’s cheek.

“Ok, babe. I’ll straighten the bed while you do that.” Jason said, getting up.

At the same time, in the apartment lounge room, Caleb was working on designing a roster program for the members of the Clan’s Oceanic Division. As he was putting the final touches on the template for the data entry form, the terminal chirped an incoming audio-only transmission. As Zoe and Liam were currently off doing their own thing, he decided that he should just answer the call.

“Clan Short Oceanic Control, this is Caleb.” He said in his most professional voice.

“Um... my name is Katherine Vander. I was told that my grand-daughter was staying at this terminal location.” Came the reply.

“Oh... Mrs. Vander. Are you looking for a Zoe Vander?” Caleb asked, smiling.

“Yes, that’s our grand-daughter. Is she okay?” Mrs. Vander’s worried voice came through.

“Zoe is fine, Mrs. Vander. She’s not able to come to the terminal right now, but would you like me to get one of the adults in the house to talk to you?”

“Adults? You’re just a child?” Mrs. Vander’s voice was shocked at this revelation.

“I’m 15, but that explanation would probably be best left till you meet everyone here, then you’ll understand better. I’ll just go get one of the adults for you.” Caleb replied, before placing the transmission on hold, and racing out of the apartment and downstairs to the dining room, where the adults and those that were called downstairs were just finishing up their discussion.

“Aunt Linda, Zoe’s grandparents are on the terminal. I’ve transferred them to the office terminal.” Caleb said breathlessly.

“Thank you, Caleb. I’ll go take that now.” Linda said as she stood and made her way towards her office.

She seated herself comfortably, and then entered her personal code to increase the encryption level of the transmission to the maximum possible, before taking the transmission off hold. “Mrs. Vander, my name is Linda Thomas. How may I help you today?”

“How much do you want?” Came Mrs. Vander’s pleading reply.

“Want?” Linda enquired.

“For the safe return of Zoe. Please, whatever you want, we’ll get it for you, just please don’t hurt our little girl. She’s all we have left in this world.” Mrs. Vander begged.

“Mrs. Vander, I assure you that no harm has or will befall Zoe so long as she is here.” Linda said, shocked at the way the conversation was going.

“Don’t lie to me. The man in charge of the home Zoe was placed in called us and said that Zoe had been kidnapped and was being held for ransom.” Mrs. Vander’s voice had taken a sharp edge.

“Mrs. Vander. Perhaps if would be best if I were to introduce myself with my full title. I am Linda Thomas, Director of Starfleet Oceanic’s Youth Services department. I am tasked with the job of maintaining the Federation’s commitment to helping children in need in the Oceanic region. If you require any more proof, please feel free to contact Starfleet Oceanic and ask to be connected to the Director of Youth Services and you will be connected to me.” Linda said in a firm tone.

“Oh... I’m so sorry, Mrs. Thomas. I was just so worried about Zoe. I don’t need any further proof. You sound like you are telling the truth. My name is Katherine Vander.” Mrs. Vander said.

“I too must apologise, for the forceful tone I just used. I must also assure you, that the director of the home that Zoe was in is obviously trying to cause problems for my department. The home is involved in the repression of the children in its care, and my department is investigating its practices and procedures.” Linda replied professionally.

“Please don’t apologise. You had very good reason to use a forceful tone. My husband often tells me that I need anger management courses.” Mrs. Vander said.

“If my husband said that to me, it’d take him 3 months of kissing up to be able to sleep in the house again.” Linda laughed.

“I hate to ask, but is there any possibility of us being able to visit Zoe?” Mrs. Vander asked.

“Of course there’s the chance, and I can even do one better than just a visit. Provided all goes well with the reunion, I can place Zoe with you permanently, and not an agency in this universe will have the ability to change that.” Linda said with a smile.

“But the psychiatrist said that it would be bad for Zoe’s wellbeing for her to be with us.” Mrs. Vander said.

“Trust me when I say, Mrs. Vander, that the psychiatrist that said that was obviously on the payroll at the facility, and therefore was either under orders, or didn’t care about his charges in the least. I have a very strong feeling that living with you and your husband is going to be just what Zoe needs.” Linda said.

“You think so? Oh, we’d love to have her with us again. The biggest problem I can see is that neither of us have jobs, and the superannuation we’re receiving is barely enough for the two of us.”

“Well, I think I may just have the solution for all the problems facing us.” Linda said.

One hour later

Zeke and Jason walked into the kitchen to find Linda, Harry and Ella moving around the room, preparing dinner for the whole group.

“Anything we can do to help?” Zeke asked.

“Could you boys please set the table in the formal dining room, and then get the others to get ready to eat. Hands, faces and all that.” Linda said gratefully.

“Sure mum.” Jason replied, causing Linda to almost drop the pan she was holding.

“Oh, you have no idea how good it is to hear you call me that.” Linda said, tears shining in her eyes. She quickly put the pan she was holding on the bench, approached the boys, pulling the both of them into a tight hug, before releasing them to go about their tasks.

Ten minutes later, everyone was seated at the dining table, enjoying a dinner together, complete with lots of conversation. Ella was grilling Sky and Cody on their feelings on the last few days, Linda was catching up with Kyler, Caleb and Tim on the latest events and news from Kiama (read “Love with an Out-of-Towner" for some background info on the boys), a slight lull in the conversation occurring when Tim’s grandfather’s passing was mentioned.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, honey. Grandpa Kevin was a sweet man. He was always gentle, never a bad word said about anyone.” Linda said.

“You knew Grandpa Kevin?” Tim asked, shocked.

“Well of course. Heck, I even slept over at his and Grandma Catrina’s quite often when your mum, Ella and I were young.” Linda said with a fond smile of remembrance.

“Wow.” Tim said, still in a state of shock. His shock was eliminated, however, and replaced with a smile, when Trent grabbed his hand under the table, his eyes filled with love and compassion.

“Trent, there’s no need to hold his hand under the table. We adults know about each and every one of you boys, and there’s no problems to us in your showing each other affection.” Linda said.

As the meal progressed, Tim paid more and more attention to his new brothers, enjoying having siblings to lavish his love and attention on. Trent was paying careful attention to the twins as well, thinking of them as his own younger siblings as well.

When dinner was finished, the boys all helped each other to do the dishes, as Delta and the adults went to the office to make some last minute arrangements in relation to the up-coming relocation.

“Hey guys, after we’re done with the dishes, I think it might be good to watch a couple of DVDs and go to bed. Anyone got any ideas on what we can watch?” Sky said, as he was loading the dishes Kane and the twins were passing him into the dishwasher.

“What about ‘Over the Hedge’?” Cody suggested, which garnered a unanimous chorus of agreement.

“Okay, ‘Over the Hedge’ it is.” Sky said.

Two hours later

Linda made her way upstairs to the boys’ apartment, where she was met with what she now knew, thanks to Teri’s info, was called a ‘nest’, in which each of the group was cuddled up on a pile of blankets in front of the TV, the menu for ‘Over the Hedge’ on an endless loop.

“Why’s...” came Ella’s voice, before she entered the apartment, took note of the scene before her, and dropped her voice to a whisper, “I guess that’s why it’s so quiet. Linda, can you spare your spare room for the night. It’s too late to drive, and I just don’t have the heart to wake my part of this group. In fact, since we’re organising to all move in together, I’ll call Ben and tell him to take some vacation leave, and he can come here, if that’s okay with you, that is.” Ella said.

“Like I could stop you, Ella. I’ve tried before and it gets me nowhere.” Linda laughed.

As the women retired to their own beds, Harry was already sitting in bed, working on his latest Sudoku puzzle. When Linda was settled, he spoke. “So, honey. I thought we were having a barbeque for lunch, and yet, we somehow end up with lasagne. How is that?”

“Because, dear, you burn everything you put on a barbeque plate. Goodnight.” Came Linda’s reply, as she leaned over and turned her bedside lamp off.

To Be Continued...

Author's Note:

Ha! Bet you’d thought I’d forgotten about Harry’s idea for a barbeque lunch. In fact, I had this little tidbit planned for ages, hoping that it would amuse you enough to reduce the anger and animosity over the expected delay in this chapter.

So, there you have it. The Oceanic Division’s first set of twins. And I have a feeling Kane will play a part in their lives for years to come, but that’s a little obvious, since they’ll all be in the same Compound.

Things will hopefully be returning to a less frenetic pace, reality-wise, so I think you may find a new chapter released sooner than the recent ones have been, after all, I do need to catch up to the rest of the CSU.

Till Next Time,


Clan Short Archivist Review Notes:

It seems that the Oceanic Division of Clan Short has come through their second baptism under fire with flying colors. Sky and Cody seem to have worked out an efficient duty roster and it works very well. It is refreshing to see the adults adding assistance and support but not trying to run things; except for when it is in their purview of the jobs.

Boi From Aus does seem to have contracted the incurable disease AAKD but luckily for Sky and Cody they will gave a new compound to move into very shortly.

I am eagerly awaiting the further adventures Sky, Cody, Kane and the rest of the Oceanic Division.

The Story Lover