Justy looked over his shoulder as the group from South Carolina beamed into CIC. "Hey guys; why the down faces?"
Deej glanced around. "Hey Jus." He replied as he looked at the rest of the team and noticed their own expressions looking just as down as he felt. "Just before we left Marc's, Joey caught fire... um... I mean badly shorted out. We're all kinda worried about the little guy."
Justy got up from his terminal and gave DJ a hug. "Dude that bites. I'll check with Marc and have him keep us updated. The twins say Kyle told them a lot about Marc; from what I heard Joey should be fine. We got another problem to deal with too."
DJ looked around again. His jaw dropped as he noticed the standby screens on all of the terminals were yellow instead of their normal green. "What the heck!!! Why are we at Condition Yellow!!?"
Justy sighed. "It's a long story. Danny set it; but we got our work cut out for us. It seems that there is more to ...."
Everyone jumped as a buzzer went off on a rarely-used console off to one side. Mark ran over to the console as the rest watched expectantly. The console in question was tied into a world-wide network of child advocacy groups. While calls on it were extremely rare, when it was used it usually turned out to be serious.
"SHIT! Secured and scrambled! I think it's our unknown watcher!" Mark exclaimed as he hurriedly adjusted the console to accept the call.
"Clan Short Headquarters; Owens." Mark stated as he opened the connection.
The voice on the other end was masked by the scrambling of the secure connection in use enough to be unrecognizable. "It seems we have a situation developing which can turn major. Can I count on your assistance?"
Mark paled; this caller was not one to blow things out of proportion. "Understood; what assistance will you require?"
"I require two security personnel standing by for deployment to protect my charges at a moments notice. If things develop along current lines, it is possible that multiple full extractions will be required simultaneously. In addition, I have a child in trouble; I need your assistance in most likely saving his life. It involves an organization with vast resources and it could quite possibly place your entire extended family in jeopardy."
Mark set his jaw as he replied. "Please transfer all of the info you have over the normal channel. You have our support; you have been a great help in the past and there is no reason to doubt you now. Whoever that organization is, they have not had to tangle with Vulcan. I promise that they are going to wish they never crossed you or us."
"I value your courage Mark, but tread carefully; these people are not like anyone you have dealt with in the past. They attack from the shadows and they are very organized and skilled. Religion drives them and they have a far reach in your country. Be very careful."
Mark smiled at the caller's concern. "We'll be careful; and I think they will find that their influence has little effect on Vulcan. Fortunately we have safe areas set up which are above Terran laws and influence; they will be used as needed."
"Thank you for the assistance; I am confident in success with your family onboard. The required information will be there shortly; you have not only my thanks but also the thanks of those I am protecting."
Before Mark could reply, the connection was cut. He spun around and hit the all-call on a neighboring console. "All security personnel! Headquarters Security Division only, set condition Orange. Repeat, Headquarters Security Division is now at Condition Orange. All available personnel report to CIC." Mark then switched channels. "Headquarters to Camp Little Eagle."
"This is Chief Tecumseh."
"Chief, this is Mark. I hate to do this; but I need to activate the kids who have been taking advanced security training. I need them standing by for operations at short notice. This is not a drill."
The comm was silent for a second. "How serious is it, Mark?"
"Seriously? War Paint is appropriate Chief."
"We shall hold a celebration to prepare our warriors then. Clan Security will attend I assume?"
"Absolutely; they need the support of the Great Spirit as much as your own warriors."
"It shall be done then. Camp Little Eagle out."
Just as Mark finished, Alec's communicator went off. Alec removed it from his belt and answered. "Security; Alec here."
"Umm ... This is Edward Fraser, acting head of Security for the AI Division. Umm.... I'm showing that you've set a Condition Orange; Um... it says here I need to contact the Head of Security for instructions, but I don't have his contact info yet."
Alec smiled. "Relax Eddie; you using the cue cards?"
"Yeah; I'm still getting used to this." Eddie replied with a nervous laugh.
"Relax; I'm acting head right now. Protocol wastes time for Security issues; if you have a question about something just ask it."
"Thanks Alec." Eddie replied. "Is there any way we can be of assistance with this situation. I do have access to a full security team through our local federation cadet program. I can offer assistance if needed." Eddie said with life returning to his voice at being able to offer help.
"Actually, you've got a pretty good idea there." Alec responded with a smile. "Set Condition Orange and see if you can get some cadets on standby. You might need to beef up security there on short notice."
Eddie's pride showed in his voice. "Understood Alec; setting Condition Orange and arranging backup. I'll check in occasionally to make sure you guys don't need anything. AI Division out."
"Headquarters out." Alec replied as he closed the communicator. "Mark, you want to handle local security while I hang here and try to coordinate everything?"
Mark nodded his head. "Sounds like a plan. What's the other issue we're having, Justy?"
Justy looked around the room. "We need to find Kyle's biological father. Cory and the rest of the guys in Australia are to be kept out of it. After we find him, we need to let Danny know so he can set it up to settle Kyle's issues. Don't ask me details, these two munchkins I call brothers say we don't wanna know."
Mark glanced over to the twins; his jaw dropped when he saw their faces. Once they had come out of their shells, it was rare to see either of them without a smile on their face. Right now, both of them were thin lipped and had a fire in their eyes which closely matched their hair. "Whaa..."
"Don't ask." Jamie growled.
"It's time to pay Kyle back for helping us." Jamie added.
Jacob: "Kyle's past is more than you know,"
Jamie: "It's so bad he still can't handle all of it."
Jacob: "It's time to close it out ..."
Jamie: "before it eats him up inside."
Jacob: "When we find him"
Jamie: "we are gonna take turns"
Jacob: "beating on his nuts"
Jamie: "with a big hammer."
Jacob: "If he passes out,"
Jamie: "we'll have 'Tonio revive him"
Jacob: "until he can't be revived anymore."
Mark's head bounced between the two boys. "Y'all make it sound like it's something serious ..."
Jacob broke in. "When JJ finds out he's gonna skin Kyle's old father alive - IF Cory don't do it first. Drop it; we gotta find the slimeball NOW."
Alec interrupted the interchange. "Guys, we can argue it all day. Let's get to work. We're at condition Orange; we need to get all of this equipment online and start trying to sort everything out."
Later that day:
Helen carefully opened the door leading into CIC. As she stepped into the large room, she froze in shock. Every single member of the Clan left in Orlando was present and scrambling around the room. As the door closed behind her, Johnny ran past carrying a disk, exclaiming "Uncle Xain, here's the D.C. stuff!"
Helen looked around the room again, this time noticing there was an organization to the chaos. Robby, Reuben, Ricardo and Johnny were acting as runners between the various groups; Xain, Kevin, Kenny, Deacon and Lawrence were gathered around a table sorting through piles of paperwork. Off to their left, Justy, Jamie, Jacob, Mark and Zac were intently scouring screens of data. Kelly, Alec, Travis and Ian all had headsets on; each absorbed in their individual conversations. Behind them, DJ, Tanner, Toby and Beau were plotting points on a chart table as fast as Clint and Crystal were able to pass the information to them.
Helen's thoughts were interrupted by Gabe. "What's up Helen?"
Helen looked down and froze; instead of Gabe's phaser being on his belt, it was in his hand. "What's going on here Gabriel?"
Gabe looked Helen in the eyes. "We are at Security Condition Orange. We have multiple emergencies we are dealing with at the moment; access to this area is limited to Clan members and family only. Could I see your identification please?" Gabe's serious expression was ruined by a giggle as he added the last sentence.
Helen relaxed at Gabe's attempt at humor. "Smart ass! I was wondering how many to plan for supper; is everyone going to eat here?"
Gabe stuck his tongue out then replied. "It looks like it; I think we'll end up eating in here though; you really don't want to know what we are finding."
Just as Helen was about to reply, the secure terminal announced an incoming message. "Be right back, Helen!" Gabe announced as he turned and ran to the terminal.
"Clan Short Headquarters, Michaels speaking."
"Good evening Gabriel. Things have escalated. I am sending coordinates to you as we speak; is it acceptable for your personnel to remain undercover while onsite?"
"I have no problem with that. Could you hold one minute while I inform them to stand by for transport and to follow your request?"
"Go ahead Gabriel."
Gabe turned his head. "Ian! Clint! Grab your equipment and stand by for transport! Standing orders are that you are undercover while onsite unless situation requires otherwise. Scramble!"
Ian and Clint immediately dropped their projects and picked up the equipment sitting next to them. "Got it Gabe!" they replied in unison.
Gabe turned back to the console. "I have two personnel standing by. Will someone be available to brief them on arrival?"
"Yes, I have contacts which will brief them before they are introduced to my friends. How are you doing on the other matter which I discussed with Mark?"
"We are making progress; the youth is definitely alive. We are still narrowing down an exact location; as soon as we are sure we will extract him and bring him here for full mental and physical checkups."
"Excellent! I just wish we could take care of the people causing the problem instead of just chasing the results of their actions."
"Say an extra prayer tonight." Gabe giggled. "You never know when wishes might come true."
"Just be careful; they know how to make things backfire on you."
"Don't worry; right now we are gathering the info. If they make the mistake of crossing us they WILL regret it."
"If that happens, you have any assistance I can provide you. Have a good evening, Gabriel."
"Thank you. Have a good evening yourself." Gabe replied as the link closed.
"One more minute Helen!" Gabe shouted as he went to an open terminal. "Clan Short Headquarters to Admiral Morrow. Priority Message."
A few seconds later, he received a response. "This is Admiral Morrow."
"Admiral, this is Gabriel Michaels, acting head of Clan Short Security. Is the Lafayette still in orbit?"
"Yes; is there a problem?"
"We are at Condition Orange; would it be possible to have the Lafayette stand by for assistance as needed?"
The Admiral visibly stiffened in his chair. "May I ask what assistance you might need?"
"We will possibly need point-to-point emergency transport. Current data suggests possible need for security backup as well."
"Understood. I have no problem with that; stand by one minute." The Admiral muted the connection, and came on a minute later. "The Lafayette is at your disposal. They are standing by for your orders. If you need any additional assistance let me know."
"Thank you Sir; we will do that. Clan Short out."
Gabe hurriedly switched channels as Robby handed him a slip of paper. "Lafayette, this is Clan Short Headquarters."
"Go ahead Clan Short Headquarters."
"Lafayette; stand by for two to transport to the following coordinates." Gabe read off the coordinates from the paper then continued. "I don't want to overstep my bounds; but would it be possible for you to stand by at Yellow Alert?"
"The Captain says if you think it is necessary he will comply with your request. You know what is going on better than we do. Standing by for transport."
"Energize." Gabe replied. As he watched Ian and Clint beam out, he added "Thank you Lafayette; we will update you as soon as possible. Headquarters out."
"We got them. Thank you, Lafayette out."
Gabe turned back and rejoined Helen. "See what I mean?"
Helen placed a hand on Gabe's shoulder. "Yes I do. I think it might be best if you have everyone take a break though, Gabe. Y'all have been working all day; if you keep pushing like this you are going to make mistakes; from the sounds of it the mistakes could be life-threatening. Why don't you have the guys hit the pool for about an hour; by then I'll have supper ready and all of you can eat. After supper you can come back in and look at things with clear minds."
Gabe tilted his head in consideration. "You know; that kinda makes sense Helen. Thanks Helen!" Gabe turned and yelled across the room. "Justy! Wrap everything up; get everyone to the pool in ten minutes for a break. We'll pick it back up after supper!"
Justy started to ask why, but noticed how stiff he was getting when he turned to look at Gabe. "Umm ... I hate to say it but you're right. C'mon guys; break time!"
CSHQ Dining Hall:
After a stint in the pool, the boys were much more relaxed. In groups of two and three, the boys filtered out of the showers and followed their noses to the dining room. Once they were all seated, Helen rolled out a cart full of lasagna. "Stop drooling on the plates, guys; there is enough for everyone!" Helen chuckled.
Within seconds of the food hitting the table, the boys had their plates overloaded and were busy shoveling food into their mouths as fast as they could swallow it. In between mouthfuls, Kelly giggled "KEWL! Cory's gone and we get REAL garlic bread!!"
Helen laughed. "You got it kiddo! I don't want you guys to suffer!"
The boys finished with dessert finally, and just sat back. Doc Austin looked around the table, then asked "What's going on guys? I have not seen any of you since we got back."
Alec gave him a small smile. "Not much that you gotta worry about yet Doc. We have a couple of projects going on, one of which might give you someone to check out. We'll fill you in when we know more, okay?"
"Sounds okay to me. Just remember that you guys have us to help if you need it; you don't have to prove yourselves just because Cory is away."
Justy moaned from the other side of the table. "DOC!! C'mon now! We're just doing our jobs, nothing more. It's just that a lot's happenin right now. Besides, Cory needs a break, so we're not gonna let him get involved."
Doc Austin nodded. "Good point, Justy. Just remember to take breaks guys; you make mistakes if you push too hard."
"Will do Doc; we'll lighten up, all of us got kinda stiff earlier." Justy replied, then quickly added as the giggles started around the table "Not THAT way you pervs!"
Doc Austin just shook his head. "You are all incorrigible! Get out of here; go save the world already!"
Alec giggled. "Sorry Doc, the world's too small; we're shooting for the whole galaxy!"
One hour later:
Xain verified his readings on the console. "It appears that our subject is located at a residence 12.38 miles southeast of Missoula, Montana. Information from the Lafayette indicates the presence of one adult and one youth at the location."
"Great job, Xain." Alec responded as he looked around the room quickly. "Andy; Rusty! Suit up; you got a kid to grab! Xain, have Lafayette stand by for transport and possible emergency pickup."
"Acknowledged, Alec." Xain replied as Andrew and Rusty scrambled to assemble their gear. Xain adjusted the terminal and initiated the call "Clan Short Headquarters to Lafayette."
"Lafayette; Lieutenant Chambers. Proceed."
"I require Priority One transport to the coordinates I am uploading at this moment. Two personnel will be transporting in; we require transporters standing by for immediate extraction on their orders."
While Xain was making arrangements, Andrew and Rusty got their phasers out and ready; double checking that they were set on heavy stun as they awaited what was to come.
"Clan Short Headquarters we are ready to initiate the transport on your command"
Alec looked at the two boys. "You guys ready? This'll put you a little bit away from the site, but ya should be able to see it fine"
Andrew looked at Rusty, then both ensured their shields were active. "We're ready Alec" they chorused.
"Okay, good luck guys; keep your communicators open until you're done" he told them before nodding to Xain.
"Lafayette; Energize" Xain ordered.
Andrew and Rusty heard the faint hum and then felt the familiar sensation of transport beginning. Moments later, they materialized in a group of trees looking out on a small mobile home; in front of the home a young boy was playing, while an older woman was sitting on the steps by the door watching.
Andrew moved the communicator to his lips and softly said "We're here. One youth and one adult visible."
There was no response as Alec didn't want to alert anyone to the team's whereabouts; but Andrew and Rusty both knew they were being monitored and that a security team would be on standby if needed.
Rusty turned to Andrew "Bro let me just go up there and say I'm lost; she won't even suspect anything until she's down."
Andrew didn't look to happy; knowing this was Rusty's first action. He looked at the boy he considered his brother; worried that he might get hurt. Andrew considered their training and Rusty's history, and realized that he was the best chance of getting the kid without any harm happening to anyone, themselves included.
"Okay, but you be careful." Alec told Rusty; who grinned impishly up at him and quipped "Quit ya worrin; ya's as bad as pop and dad"
Andrew didn't say anything, but his expression showed his worry as he watched Rusty bend down and smudge a bit of dirt on his face and then ruffle up his clothes as well to look the part.
"Love ya bro" Rusty said softly.
Andrew pulled him into an embrace and said "I love you too bro, no chances you hear?"
Rusty looked back up at him as he let him go and said "I won't" before palming his phaser so he could fire in a split second if he needed to and then headed off into the bushes.
Andrew watched anxiously as Rusty walked a little distance away from the place where he was hiding, stopping about a hundred feet away before starting to crash through the brush and then stumbling towards the trailer.
The boy had stopped playing at the first sounds coming from the trees; and the woman had quickly stood up as well, walking towards the boy as Rusty became visible. Andrew watched as the woman's expression changed from one of fear to confusion and finally concern as she saw the obviously distressed child approaching her.
As Andrew watched, she walked out in front of the young boy. Rusty approached where she had stopped; mumbling "Help me please." As Rusty collapsed to his knees, the woman quickly started forward to help
That was all Rusty needed. He suddenly straightened up, brought his phaser up, and fired; striking the woman squarely in the chest with the blast from the phaser
Andrew was running before Rusty had even lowered his arm, and reached his side as the woman hit the ground and stopped moving. Both of them surveyed the area around them for any further danger, and then Rusty went over to the terrified young boy who was standing several feet away from him.
As Rusty headed to the boy, Andrew ran over and into the trailer. A minute later, he announced "CLEAR" and walked over to where Rusty was quietly reassuring the boy
"Strike team, report!" they heard from their communicators.
Andrew sheepishly pulled his from his belt and informed Alec "We have the youth secured, no team injuries, and one adult suspect down, all secure"
"Stand by for transport of the suspect" Alec said; moments later the woman disappeared in a shimmering column of sparkles.
Andrew smiled as he watched the four year old boy who was now perched on Rusty's lap. He was definitely healthy, with just a little baby fat still visible. His collar-length dark blond hair was mussed as would be expected of a boy at play; and his gray eyes were just beginning to get a glint of hope as Rusty softly told him who they were.
Andrew knelt in front of them and held out his arms. "Hey lil' guy; you must be Matty! I'm Andy; do you think I can get some of those cuddles too?"
Suddenly Matty had more fear in his eyes than the beginnings of hope Andy had seen. Matty looked back and forth between the two boys before saying "I wanna go home"
Andy looked at Rusty, who was looking back at him obviously at a loss for words. He returned his gaze to the child, preparing to explain what was going to happen to him; He started off by asking again "Can I get some of those cuddles, please?"
Matty looked at Andy suspiciously. "Wusty saved me. Why you wanna cuddle; you aint gonna do nasty stuff is you?"
Andy looked at Matty in shock. "No way little guy! I don't make little boys do nasty stuff! Who told you that cuddles meant nasty stuff?"
"The preacher an Daddy an Daddy's friend who was watchin me."
Andrew gave Rusty a sad look. "Matty;" he said softly, "all of those people were taught stuff that was wrong. They were trying to teach you the same stuff. I know it's hard, but you need to trust us lil' buddy."
Matty's expression didn't change in the slightest as he continued to stare at the older boy.
"It's okay Matty, Andy won't hurt you" Rusty said to the young boy in his arms.
Matty looked at him with a slightly more trusting expression, but it was obvious the higher trust was not by much. "I wanna go home" he repeated
Andrew looked at Rusty; they passed a look between them which Rusty knew meant Andy wanted him to try his luck at explaining.
"Matty we're gonna take you home little guy but not for a little bit, we're gonna...." Rusty started to say; but suddenly he found that he now had a screaming four year old fighting and trying to get away.
Matty took Rusty by surprise as he pushed him and yelled "NO, I WANNA GO HOME!" Rusty fell backward and Matty took off; trying to escape his newest captors.
Andy was expecting some type of negative reaction; before Matty had gotten more than a few feet away, Andy reached out and latched onto him.
What Andrew wasn't expecting though, was a four year old fist connecting with something very, very sensitive as the boy screamed "No! Leave me alone!" The next thing Andy knew, he had joined Rusty lying on the ground; the only difference being that Andy was in much more pain.
Once again, Matty was free; but Andy had gained Rusty enough time to start to regain his feet. Rusty sprinted after Matty; ignoring Alec calling through the communicators, asking what was wrong and demanding a status report.
Neither boy was in a position to be able to answer him; Alec's calls became more frantic while Rusty chased after Matty.
Andy finally caught his breath and began to be able to concentrate on something other than the pain he was experiencing. When he saw Rusty still running after the fleeing child, Andy stumbled to his feet to try to assist; still amazed that a little guy could hit that hard.
He finally caught up to Rusty as they approached the trailer once again; and for the first time they seemed to be in luck as Matty, without realizing it, ran up against the back of the porch.
Matty turned and snarled at them as they blocked his escape. "Leave ... me ... alone!" he shouted.
Rusty once again tried to reason with Matty; despite the fact that he was definitely not interested in being reasoned with. "Matty it's gonna be alright" Rusty told him.
Matty, not buying one second of it, screamed "I said LET ME GO! I wanna go home!" To the surprise of both boys, Matty suddenly charged them; running straight forward and hitting Rusty and causing both Rusty and himself to tumble to the ground. Andrew took advantage of Matty's temporary disorientation; quickly grabbing the kicking, screaming and biting four year old in an unsuccessful attempt to control him and help Rusty.
On the other end of the communicators, Alec sounded as if he was having a stroke. He could be heard screaming even with the noise being made by Matty. "Andrew, Rusty! Answer me now or I'm sending a security team from the Lafayette!"
As Andrew went down with the boy in his arms; Rusty grabbed his communicator and called in, gasping for breath as he said "Alec...emergency transport...ah we got a little problem here!" Matty screamed at the top of his lungs; seemingly trying to prove the point. With ringing ears, Rusty added "Alec, you better have Xain standing by!"
Rusty put his communicator back on his waist, then jumped in to help Andrew keep control of Matty. Matty continued to scream at the top of his lungs, even as the familiar hum of transport settled on the group.
Rusty's last thought before he dematerialized was that he would have to remember to get Doc Austin to check his hearing. Silence fell across the yard as the transporter took two beaten boys and one kid from hell out of Montana and back to Orlando; hopefully to convince one young boy to accept the help offered him.
"Lafayette; hold them in buffers while we prepare to receive them." Alec ordered.
"Acknowledged. Let us know when you are ready."
Alec looked around the room. "I don't know what the heck happened; let's prepare for the worst guys. Rusty said to have you standing by Xain; get as close as you can without violating the safe zone. I want every exit here double-blocked guys; all security personnel triple check that your phasers are set at low stun. Don't use them unless you have to! Jamie, Jacob; stand by to assist Xain if needed. Places guys!"
Once he was sure everyone was in place, Alec reopened the communications channel. "Lafayette; transport to prearranged coordinates."
"Acknowledged. Completing transfer."
A few seconds later, Alec replied "We got them, Lafayette. Thanks; Headquarters out." He barely heard Lafayette's reply; Matty's head butt in his stomach suddenly had his full attention. As Xain moved to intercept the adrenaline-laden four year old terror, Matty made a break for the nearest doorway, still screaming madly. Alec's decision to stack everyone at the doorways saved the day; when the little missile hit the group trying to break through, the sheer number of boys slowed him down enough for Xain to reach out and touch the young boy's shoulder. As Matty collapsed into unconsciousness on top of his final victims, Xain turned to where Jamie and Jacob were standing off to the side.
"Brothers, it is imperative that we isolate the causes of Matthew's emotional distress before he is permitted to regain consciousness. Alec and Justin; despite standard procedures it would be logical to perform a mind meld with Matthew to assist him with his distress. I would require your approval before commencing such a procedure in the absence of Patriarch Short."
"Just do it Xain! Jamie, Jacob; help him!" Alec groaned from the floor.
"You heard Alec; I agree." Justy added from the bottom of the pile in the doorway.
Xain effortlessly picked up Matty and placed him on a nearby couch. As the twins joined him, he placed himself in a comfortable position and proceeded to enter the young boy's mind.
Twenty minutes later, Xain looked up as they finished the combination mind-meld and telepathic link. "Alec, I must report that I have discovered suspicious mental manipulation in Matthew's mental processes. The normal physical interaction which is expected at his maturity level has been blocked by repeated instruction that such contact is a form of molestation. Jamie and Jacob have completed repairs on his mental structure to allow coherent thought. In addition I have inserted information into his memory regarding his current situation and the steps we shall take before returning him to his maternal parent."
The mood lightened in the room as Xain glanced at Matty lying peacefully on the couch. "It is fascinating that such a small stature can contain such muscular power."
"You may call it fascinating; I call it possessed!" Alec quipped from in the midst of the injured boys huddled off to one side.
Just then, Matty began to stir. "Wusty? Wusty! WUSTY!"
"Right here lil' guy." Rusty replied quickly before Matty panicked again. He carefully worked his way over to the couch; ensuring the back of the couch was between them just in case.
As Rusty carefully peered over the back of the couch, Matty slowly sat up and reached out to caress his face. "Did I give you the ouchie on yous eye Wusty?"
Rusty warily nodded. "Yeah ...."
"I'm sowwy. Now you hate me." Matty said as his chin dropped and tears started flowing freely.
Rusty's mind was torn between comforting the young boy on the couch and preserving what few areas were left on his body that were not bruised. After a few seconds of deliberation, he slowly reached over the back of the couch and caressed Matty's cheek. "I don't hate you lil one. I'm kinda scared though; you hurt a lotta guys bigger than you when you got scared."
Matty looked straight into Rusty's eyes. After a few seconds, he softly said "I thought you was gonna take me like those othew bad people. You weally saved me Wusty. I ain' gonna hewt you no mo'. I twust you."
Rusty leaned forward and rubbed noses with Matty. "You think you can listen without freaking if I let you cuddle with me? We gotta talk about what's gonna happen; I know it's not how you would like it to happen but we gotta keep you safe."
Matty wrapped his arms around Rusty's neck. 'I pwomise! Yous like my big bwothews, theys nice too."
Rusty carefully picked up Matty and came around the couch to sit down. As soon as they were seated, Matty was like an octopus as he wormed his way tightly into Rusty's chest. "Matty, this is Xain. He's gonna explain what we are gonna do for you."
Matty looked up and giggled. "You got funny eaws! Is you an elf?"
Rusty giggled as Xain raised both eyebrows. "Xain is a Vulcan, Matty. He's one of my brothers, he's okay. Vulcans don't lie, so you can trust him too."
On the other side of the room, Jamie and Jacob finally relaxed. "Bathroom break bro; looks like Xain has got it covered." Jamie said as he turned to the doorway. As they finished their business and prepared to head back, they found their way blocked by something they couldn't see. Out of nowhere, a voice said "Please help us."
Both boys immediately went to maximum scan to see who was there and where. Just as they started, they heard "OWWWW!!!!! Stop, please stop it, that HURTS!!"
Jamie looked at Jacob in shock. "What the HECK!! Who ever you are, we ain't gonna help ya if we can't see ya'. Stop playin games before we call the rest of the guys and find ya the easy way. You ain't gonna be able to hide from all of us."
Another voice spoke up. "Not here; can we go somewhere a little more private? I promise you we won't disappear."
"And I thought just being around Kyle hurt," the first voice said softly. "Either these things need a pain killer added to them or I need one added to me."
Jamie's eyebrows rose. "Kyle?? Dude, I feel for ya; if we hurt you Kyle hadda almost kill ya." He then looked at Jacob. "Bro, what would Cory do?"
Jacob thought for a second. "They say they need help; he'd try to help if he could. Tell Justy to keep the on-duty suite clear for a while, we'll fill him in a little bit."
"Yeah, but last time we used our minds we hurt one of them."
One of the voices spoke up. "I should be okay as long as only one of you does it and you don't push hard."
Jamie nodded, then went silent for a minute. "Justy says okay; he figured we needed rest after helping with Matty. Follow us guys."
A minute later, they entered the suite set aside for anyone working overnight in CIC. Jamie giggled as the door closed and locked behind them without either of them touching it. "Okay we're in private. Show your faces dudes; if we want to talk to air we'll find Aaron."
"Just a second," said one of the voices. In a hushed tone he added "Do you think we can trust them?"
"It's a little late to be asking that question again DT," replied the other, who suddenly became visible. He looked to be about the twin's age, with bright blond shoulder length hair; somehow he looked to be leaning on thin air with his eyes closed.
Suddenly another blond boy became visible where the first one was leaning, "Hi, my name is Dmitry. And this is Dominic."
The other boy, upon hearing his name, waved in the twin's general direction.
Jacob giggled. "Nice entrance dudes! How long you guys been sneaking around like that? And why do you need help? And what the heck is on your arms!"
"About three days," said Dmitry. "Give or take a few hours. I'm not really sure how much we are allowed to say. Oh, this is Giggle; he's kinda like my protector from telepaths and stuff. That's Eyes on Dom's arm. They are Phasenmorphs."
"We were assigned to your group when you guys were in South Carolina," mumbled Dominic from Dmitry's shoulder. "We're supposed to be observing you guys for a particular reason that we can't explain right now."
"Well on the first day our group leader followed Cory and Sean out to the Battery," Dmitry continued. "Whatever happened there caused a panic and he was pulled back to base. Shortly after that we lost contact with base completely."
"We're sure they'll come back for us," said Dominic. "But it's hard to keep hidden when our cloaks are dying."
"That and Dominic's eyes have been bothering him since we got up this morning," added Dmitry. "And I'm worried about him."
Jamie shook his head. "Ummm ... let me get this right here. You've been around for three days without any of us catching you. You are assigned to watch us, but can't tell us anything. Now you somehow got stranded and you can't hide any more. About the only thing that makes sense is Dominic's eyes are hurting him and he needs to have someone check him out. The rest of it is either crap or really weird."
"Really weird? Sounds about right to me," said Dominic. "But if it is a bunch of crap then please tell me why I look like I do."
Dominic suddenly opened his eyes and looked at Jamie clearly showing off the fact that his eyes were mechanical rather then organic like they should be.
"No I have a better Idea," said Dmitry. "Dom close your eyes, you're going to make your headache worse; lay down on the bed over there."
Dominic didn't argue and quickly plopped down on the nearby bed.
"You want to know if I'm lying?" asked Dmitry. "Scan me."
"DT, I don't think that's such a good idea," Dominic said from the bed.
"No I think it is," replied Dmitry. "I'll tell Giggle to stop blocking and you can have a look for yourself, but only if you promise to keep my thoughts to yourselves."
"You realize that whatever I see is going to be the absolute truth don't you?" Jacob asked; giving Dmitry a chance to back out. "I've been trained to seek out the truth in peoples minds, I know how to find everything; there is no way you could send me false information."
Dmitry nodded his head. "I kinda figured that out. I'm ready, go ahead."
"DT, are you sure you'll be okay?" Dominic asked. "I don't want them bring up something from before we left Russia that could hurt you."
"I'll be okay," answered Dmitry. "Just rest for now Dom."
Jacob sat down and concentrated on Dmitry. After a few seconds his eyes started to tear up; then suddenly his face went emotionless. About a minute later, he opened his eyes. "I have concluded that your previous statements were correct. I would suggest you instruct your protectors that the telepathic activity about to commence is safe and that they are not required to protect you. I must confer with my brother on the procedure best suited to securing the data I have acquired."
The twins were quiet for almost five minutes. Once they were finished, Jamie looked over at their two guests. "Okay guys; you just redefined weird. Dmitry, while Jacob was in there he set it up so that what happened before you were saved is not going to come back to haunt you. Dominic; if you want we can do that for you too. From what we found out it'd be a good idea."
Jacob took over. "One other thing; if you guys are gonna stay around here we're gonna have to do something or else Kyle will kill your protectors just by being around. Jamie and I figured out a way to shield the mind from Kyle; Cory needed it because Kyle was worrying too much. What happens is we teach you how to split into two memories, public and private. You can access both easily, but telepaths only see the public area. It would save a lot of wear on your protectors."
"Hey if you can help us block Kyle without having to have Giggle or Eyes do it then that would be great," said Dmitry. "It's kinda taxing on the system when we're around him right now, the Phasenmorphs have never come across someone like him before and they end up being over protective just to make sure he's blocked.
"I wouldn't mind not having my arm feel like it's on fire," added Dominic. "For now I'll pass on your other offer though, I'd like to keep my thoughts mine if that's okay with you."
Jamie smiled. "No problem; but the offer is open anytime you need it. It'll only take a second to teach you the blocking; one side effect is you can sense when someone who can scan you is nearby. It's pretty much automatic normally, but with just a thought you can fully block or fully open your mind. We need to talk about your eyes though; I'm not a doctor but something don't sound right. We gotta figure out a story that'll cover for you so that we can check them out and make sure you are going to be okay."
Dominic smiled a weak smile, "Thanks for understanding. And it sounds like being able to block our minds like that could definitely be helpful."
"For Dom's eyes I'm not sure if he needs a doctor or an engineer," said Dmitry. "Nyo's no doctor but he had to help put them in because of their mechanical properties and how they mesh with our genetics. Do you have anyone that knows how to work with hardware to wetware interfaces?"
"Let's have Doc Austin look at him first." Jacob replied. "If it's not something he can handle then it'll be mechanical and the AI division can probably handle it. How does that sound? I know Doc just got back, so he could be right over to check Dominic out, that way if it's something bad we catch it right away."
"Okay that sounds good," said Dmitry. "Dom what do you think?"
"That my head is going to explode," moaned Dominic. "Yeah that sounds good, just make it stop."
Dmitry went over to the bed and softly spoke three short words to Dominic in Russian. Dominic, despite the way his head felt, looked up at Dmitry, smiled, and then replied in Russian.
Dmitry then turned to the twins, "I'll see what information we have on Dominic's eyes on our handhelds; it might help your doctor if we have anything."
The twins giggled. "You guys are really a cute couple; you're gonna fit right in here." Jamie announced. "You know, 'I Love You' sounds kewl in Russian! Jacob, fix up their heads real fast; I'll go get Doc while you guys see what you can find in the handheld. Think of a way that Doc can read the info you find on the handheld too. I'll be right back."
Dominic blushed a deep red and tried to bury his face in the bed, "DT I think you taught them Russian."
Dmitry giggled, "Congratz guys, I haven't seen Dom blush since..."
"HEY!" exclaimed Dominic. "I'm red enough as it is, no more."
Dmitry smiled and then pulled out his handheld, "Okay, do you guys have a computer in here?"
Jamie giggled as he headed out the door. Jacob pointed to a cabinet on the far wall. "Terminal is in there; go ahead and see what you can find. I can fix you up while you are working; you'll just 'know' what to do if you need it. Just relax Dominic; we'll get you fixed up real soon."
"Okay sounds good," replied Dmitry. "It looks like I have something although it's not much but I'll have it ready for your doctor when you get back, I'll also do a few more checks in a few other related topics. Either way it will be ready."
"Jacob?" Dominic said from the bed. "Thanks."
"You're welcome from both of us bro." Jacob replied with a smile. "Dmitry, you want a hand?"
Ten minutes later, Jamie returned dragging Doc Austin behind him. Once the door was closed, Jamie stopped. "Doc, anything you see, hear, or experience in this room is Top Secret Clan Intelligence business. No logs, no discussion outside of this room. Understood?"
"Let me get this straight Jamie; you want me to violate my instructions from Cory, your Patriarch, and perform medical procedures on Clan Members without informing him? You better have an awfully good reason for this young man"
Jamie gave Doc an emotionless stare. "You misunderstood Doc; these boys are not Clan members. This is a delicate situation under direct supervision of Clan Short Intelligence. All reports are required to be routed through us due to sensitive information which must not be disclosed to anyone without explicit need to know. At this point in time, despite his status as Patriarch, Cory has no need to know on much of the information we possess. Information will be released after negotiations with the other involved parties are completed. Due to a medical issue, you are being allowed access to some of this information to assist you with diagnosis; but that information needs to stay right here."
Doc looked at the four boys in the room; two of which he knew quite well and two he had never seen before. After considering Jamie's statements he replied. "I really have no choice, do I? I'll probably understand when I'm done, but right now I'm in a spot. I'll compromise with you; I will not report any details, but I will report to Cory that medical procedures were done at the request of CS Intelligence and that I was told all reports will be made by them. Considering the implied urgency, let's stop playing politics and fill me in on who has what problem already."
"Hi Doctor, my name is Dmitry," Dmitry said from over by the terminal. "That's Dominic on the bed; he's the one that needs your help. Dominic has prosthetic eyes due to an incident that I'd rather not talk too much about. What I can tell you is that he has only had these eyes for a few days now, and this morning when he woke up they seemed to be bothering him. Over the last few hours the problem has been getting worse and worse; now they are actually causing him pain. Due to the situation, though, the technician that fitted him with his eyes can't be contacted."
Doc Austin walked over to Dominic. "Dominic, I'm going to scan you in a minute to see what is wrong. You're going to have to put your pet down though, whatever it is."
Dominic giggled. "Sorry Doctor, but Eyes is kinda attached to me. He's a Phasenmorph; he protects me from telepaths and other things. All I gotta do is tell him that what you are doing is okay so he don't tell your tricorder wrong stuff."
"Thank you Dominic. I guess we'll see what happens; I'm not sure how the tricorder is going to handle two life forms."
"That won't be a problem Doctor; he'll hide himself from it."
"That should work." Doc Austin said as he unslung his tricorder and scanned Dominic. "What the ....??!!"
The twins both giggled madly. Jamie caught his breath enough to say "Get with Dmitry Doc; He's got some info to help you."
Doc Austin shook his head as he headed over to the terminal. "You little rats did that on purpose! Just wait until your next physical!" He turned his attention to Dmitry. "Okay, could you explain the strange readout I just got?"
Dmitry smiled, "Let me guess, it told you something along the lines that his blood has an unrecognized metal base to it rather then something you would expect, like iron. Well I can't really tell you what it is unless it's vital to you being able to treat Dom; just know that we are a sub-species, kinda like the twins just different. Anyway, I don't have much info for you but a little is better then nothing so I'll give you what I have."
Dmitry tapped his handheld and the screen in front of him brought up a profile in Russian. "Ooops, wrong language." He tapped his handheld again and suddenly the profile came up in English, "There. Okay, most of this information is correct I think; hopefully it will make more sense to you then it does to me, I'm not an engineer or a doctor. I think that the only thing that might be different is that the sensitivity of his eyes had to be turned up two times higher then it recommends here because of his genetics; some of this info also describes how his body and eyes interact as well as how to access the internal interface for the eyes. That's pretty much all I have."
Doc Austin looked over the information, then quickly typed a code into the terminal. "Could you upload that to this? I believe the new AI handler we just programmed into the biobed will be able to work with that information easily. A good side effect is that it will register as an AI variation instead of a new species; that way even if Federation Medical was to access the data from Headquarters it would not raise any flags. I definitely think the biobed would be able to make those adjustments easily with the information you have here; I'd say twenty minutes tops once we get to the medical annex. Does that work for you?"
"Yeah, that would be perfect," replied Dmitry. "It should be just as easy as when I uploaded info into...just give me a moment."
Dmitry entered a few commands on his handheld and then looked up at the screen, "That should do it, transfer complete." Dmitry turned off his handheld and strapped it back onto his belt. "Okay doctor lead the way," Dmitry added as he got up and went over to the bed to help Dominic up.