Sky sat in stunned silence, the police report he had just read playing through his mind. He made his decision and quickly tapped the comm control by his hand. "Cody Thomas to the Ready Room, please. Cody Thomas to the Ready Room."
While he was waiting, he tapped his commbadge, "Sky to Mum."
"Mum here. What's up, honey?" came Linda's reply.
"Mum, I need you to beam up to the Melbourne, please. There's something going on here that could use your input," he said seriously.
"I'm on my way. Is this a medical issue?"
"Not a medical one, a Safe Haven one."
"I'll be there in five minutes. I just need to let your father know to pull the cake out of the oven."
Five minutes later, Linda came walking through the door, followed closely by Cody, both of them slowing noticeably when they saw the look on Sky's face.
"Sky, honey, what's got you so upset?" Linda asked gently.
"Everything, mum. I'm pissed off that a group of adults could have performed this despicable action, just because they believe they can. I'm furious that one man could have done to Christian what he's done," Sky trailed off, tears forming in his eyes, as he handed a pair of PADDs over to Cody and Linda, which were displaying the contents of the police report he had just finished reading himself.
Both Cody and Linda read the report, their faces reddening, as they got further through it.
Report located on Victoria Police server 3B542.
Case number: 459325-8H
15 May 2001.
Sgt. Nathan Thornton and Lt. Peter Michaels attended a domestic dispute at the residence of Christian and Leanna Lewis, of 3 Bainbridge Avenue, Frankston, at approximately 3:15pm. On arrival, officers observed that the husband was armed with a high-powered weapon (Evidence log: 459325-8H-1), and was brandishing it in his wife's direction, and appeared to be intoxicated.
Officers drew their weapons and attempted to talk calm into Mr. Lewis, who became more aggressive as events continued. Mr. Lewis repeatedly made reference to his wife allegedly having an affair, and made numerous threats both to Mrs. Lewis and attending officers.
Mrs. Lewis then made an attempt to tackle Mr. Lewis to the ground, at which time Mr. Lewis opened fire, killing Mrs. Lewis with a bullet to the heart (Coroner's report: 459325-8H-2). Officers then attempted to shoot Mr. Lewis to incapacitate him, and managed to hit him in the left shoulder.
Mr. Lewis then turned and opened fire on attending officers, hitting Lt. Michaels in the neck, and grazing Sgt. Thornton on the left calf. Attending officers were then forced to attempt to immobilise Mr. Lewis, shooting him in the neck.
Sgt. Thornton quickly checked the condition of Mrs. Lewis, finding no pulse, then radioed for ambulance attendance. He then checked on Lt. Michaels, but found no pulse. He then attempted CPR, but to no effect by the time ambulance officers arrived.
Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, as well as Lt. Michaels were all pronounced dead at the scene. (See Coroner's Report: 459325-8H)
A young boy, Christian Micheal Lewis, cousin to Mr. Lewis, was in the house, and was seen to and returned to his parents by Sgt. Thornton following the incident.
"Is it just me," Cody said, "Or is there something not quite right with this report?"
"It's not you," Sky said, "There's something not being said, or a lie being told."
"I don't think I understand," Linda began, "Why are we looking at a report on a domestic dispute from 3 years ago?"
"I think that will be made clearer for you in a minute, mum," Sky said, before pressing the comm control next to him, "Commander Thomas to Sickbay."
Linda's eyes widened at the title Sky had used, before nearly falling out of her head at the response.
"Sickbay, Dr. Hughes here. What can I do for you, Commander?"
"Dr., would you please have young Christian escorted up to the Captain's Ready Room, if he's allowed to leave sickbay?" Sky asked pleasantly.
"Of course," the doctor replied, "As a matter of fact, I was about to call you and ask if you could find a way to entertain him. He's completely fine, medically speaking, barring a few issues we can discuss later, but his attention span is reaching its limits. He's been an excellent patient, however. I'll have Nurse Kingsley bring him up right now."
"Thank you, Doctor. I'll be down shortly to discuss those issues with you. Thomas out." Sky replied, before tapping the button to terminate the comm.
"What's all this 'Commander' business?" Linda asked, curious.
"Oh that. Well, it seems that someone must have arranged for the Clan to receive the D'Kyr, a Vulcan cruiser, and commissioned the Clan hierarchy into Vulcan Space Fleet positions, to allow us to command the ship, plus any others that are added. By the way, Cody, when the D'Kyr arrives, I will see about you getting to be in charge of the IT infrastructure. I can imagine Tim and Zeke will wet themselves at the thought of all the tech that ship holds."
At that moment, the door to the bridge opened, to reveal an African-American woman standing there with Christian, who was still looking around the bridge in wide-eyed wonder. "Sir, I think this young gentleman is ready for some hugs, as prescribed by his doctor." Nurse Kingsley said with a smile.
"Well, we best not upset the doctor," Sky said, causing Christian's head to fly around, before the young boy flew into Sky's open arms.
"Thank you, Nurse Kingsley," Sky said in contentment.
Linda sat there watching his son for a moment, seeing the look on his face as he held the young boy, before speaking, "I have a feeling I've just caught up to the situation, but why don't you introduce me to your little friend there, Sky?" she asked.
"Mum, this is Christian Lewis, the boy the report mentioned as the cousin of Mr. Lewis. Christian, this is my mum, Linda, but you can call her Aunt Linda if you'd like."
"Don't even try that, Sky," Linda said semi-sternly, "Christian, you can call me Grandma. I know that Sky would like you to be his son. Would you like that?"
"But he's searchn' fo' my par'nts, so he can't be my Daddy, c'n he?" Christian asked in the sweetest voice Linda had ever heard, causing her heart to melt.
"Well, I don't know about that, but what say you and me head on down to the mess hall and get ourselves something to eat and then maybe some ice cream?" Linda asked with a smile.
"YAYYYY! Iced cweam! My fav'rit! Le's go!" Christian cheered, before jumping off Sky's lap, grabbing Linda's hand and all but dragging her out the door.
Sky watched all this with a smile, and then turned to Cody, to see a thoughtful look on his face. When Cody saw Sky looking at him, he spoke, "Mum's right. It's obvious that little boy has your heart already. If you don't find his parents, than we'll go to mum and do what we can to take him in. We can't turn down that boy."
"Are you sure?" Sky asked uncertainly.
"Of course I am," Cody replied, "We're doing fine with Bradin, and it would be nice to have a boy around to teach things like pulling computers apart and putting them together again."
"Well, we'd better make sure there isn't anyone out there that wants him," Sky said, turning to the terminal on the desk, "Computer, link to Clan Short Oceanic central core, maximum priority, authorisation Thomas Alpha Lima 487."
"Link established," came the reply
"Computer, begin data mining operation, target: Victorian Police officer Sergeant Nathan Thornton, all personal logs, performance reviews, case histories. Cross-reference with known child abuse suspects," Sky said.
"Data mining in progress. Estimated time to completion: 10 minutes."
Sky and Cody had just finished digging through all the information collected by the Clan Oceanic central core, and were discussing their options when the door to the bridge opened, letting Linda and Christian enter.
"Well, boys, I think I've eaten so much that I need to have a little kip. But before I do, what have you discovered?" Linda asked.
"Christian, come over here," Sky said, opening his arms again to the young boy, who quickly climbed into Sky's lap to soak up the attention he was being given, "Christian, sweetie, you remember when we first met a couple of hours ago, and I told the computer to find everything it could about you?"
"Uh huh, you said a lotsa big words, and den the 'puter said somefin back to you," Christian replied.
"Well, little buddy, Cody and I have been doing more of that, cause the computer only found one thing about you, so we had to find more in a different way. What we found tells us that, unfortunately, your mother was killed the day you disappeared," Sky paused, allowing Christian a few moments of tears for the mother he never had a chance to really know, "We also found out that your dad is alive, but due to recent events, he can't look after you, so Cody and I have decided to ask you if you'd like to be our son. No matter what you choose, though, we'll always be there to look after you."
"Why cn't my daddy look aft'r me?" Christian asked, with misty eyes.
"That's something I can't tell you until you're older. If I told you now, I'd only be hurting you more. Can you understand that?" Sky asked.
"Okay. I c'n tell you's jus' lookin' out f'r me, I can un...un...unnerstan' that," Christian replied bravely, "Does tha' mean I c'n call you 'daddy' now?"
Sky kissed the boy in his lap on the top of his head before replying, "Of course, baby boy. And Cody is your 'papa'."
"Really? I gets a daddy AND a papa?" Christian asked, looking to Cody for confirmation.
"That's right, kiddo. Now, you come with me, and I'll introduce you to your new baby brother. How does that sound?" Cody asked with a smile.
"I gets a b'by brover, too?" Christian asked, wide-eyed.
"That and more, kiddo. You also get a whole buncha uncles and aunts and cousins, too." Cody replied, pulling Christian out of Sky's lap and perching him firmly on his hip, before they both left the Ready Room, Christian' voice being heard by both Linda and Sky asking twenty questions of Cody, before the door closing plunged the room into silence again.
The silence continued for a moment, before Linda broke it, her voice filled with concern, "Okay, Sky, what's the reason you couldn't tell that boy about his father?"
Sky turned to Linda, and she could see the tears threatening to fall as he answered, "The man we 'rescued' Christian from WAS his father," Sky fell silent as his tears overwhelmed his ability to speak for a moment, "How could someone DO something like that, to their own CHILD?"
"Oh, my baby boy. I wish I could give you an answer to that question," Linda replied, as she pulled Sky into her lap and allowed him to cry into her shoulder, "Unfortunately, as long as there have been humans on this planets, there have been those that allow their greed or selfish desires to rule their actions. Just look at your Clan. Most of your brothers have lived through the worst actions that a human could do to another human, but they have lived through them, and so have you, and you're all much stronger young men for having done so,"
"Just look at the last few days. Just a few short weeks ago, I'll bet you never imagined that you could help so many people in such a short amount of time. But now, you know that everyone who survived the attack at Jamberoo did so because of you and your family. ALL of you had your part to play, and I feel this is God's way of saying 'thank you', giving you the opportunity to watch that little boy grow up, and helping him become a great man."
Linda let that sink in, before prodding him to keep telling Christian's story.
"Well, it turns out that Mr. Lewis was infertile, only they didn't know that. They were both members of the Family First Christian Church, as were Christian's sperm donor, and Sgt. Thornton. It appears that Mrs. Lewis became pregnant with Christian after a 'ritual' that the pastor performed on a regular basis. He decided that the true test of Christianity was for the brethren to commit adulterous acts to 'test' who enjoyed them the most. Those that did, were 'no longer true Christians', and were 'dealt with'. As it stands right now, we have enough reason to bust down the doors and take them out," Sky said, pausing to collect his thoughts.
"It seems that Christian's sperm donor found out about the pregnancy, and being the pastor's right hand man, obtained permission to get the boy back. He and Sgt. Thornton planned to 'dispose of' Mr. and Mrs. Lewis at the same time, knowing that the pair was considering leaving the flock, as neither of them wanted Christian growing up having to do the things they knew he would have to. Sgt. Thornton set the plan in motion, sending an anonymous email telling Mr. Lewis about the fertility test that was performed on him and all the church members, and the paternity of Christian,"
"He then had one of the church members make an anonymous phone call to 000, telling them about a domestic dispute involving Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, before volunteering himself and his partner, who was still a rookie, to handle the situation. When they arrived at the house, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis met them on the front lawn, thinking Sgt. Thornton was there on church business, when Sgt. Thornton played a tape recorder in his pocket, that had audio on it created using voice sample collected by the church's phone line taps,"
Linda was becoming more shocked by the story as it unfolded, this was becoming more and more like the cheesy soap operas she used to watch on her days off.
"This was done to create a 'smokescreen', making it appear for all intents and purposes that the situation was degrading. When Lt. Michaels heard the audio, he quickly realised the situation, and made a move to call dispatch and report his findings. Unfortunately for him, Sgt. Thornton had arranged for a radio scramble in the area, more technology that the church shouldn't have had access to. When Michaels' calling failed, he quickly drew his weapon in time to see Thornton walk up to Mrs. Lewis and shoot her point blank in the heart. Michaels then went to fire on Thornton, when he was beaten to the punch, being shot in the neck by Thornton,"
Sky paused again, his emotions turning more to anger as he progressed through the story, "Thornton then turned to Mr. Lewis and shot him first in the leg, incapacitating him, before shooting him in the neck."
"My God, how is it that the next door neighbours didn't see anything at all?" Linda asked, shocked.
"It's Frankston, most people are so used to shootings, and the neighbours weren't home, anyway. So, after everyone around him has bled out, Thornton called for the scrambling to be turned off, and then called for ambulance attendance. As they were arriving, one of the officers noticed a young boy being loaded into the back of a car, but shrugged it off as DOCS officials. Once the bodies were taken to autopsy, the coroner, who is also a member of the FFCC, falsified the reports. Sgt. Thornton returned to the station, and falsified his own report, before signaling Christian's father that all was clear."
"How did you find all this out?" Linda asked.
"Cody and I spent the last half hour sifting through the personal logs of Sgt. Thornton, the coroner and Christian's sperm donor. Believe me, it will be years before I even consider allowing Christian to read any of this. Once he had custody of his son, Christian's sperm donor arranged for his name to be changed, allowing him to keep him in the area, and spent the next 3 years 'training' Christian to service him whenever he desired. That boy has been handed around the clergy of the FFCC for years, providing his sperm donor with blackmail material in his personal endeavour to seize control of the church."
"My God..." Linda said, unable to say anything more, due to her tears.
"Cody and I have vowed that we will do all we can to erase Christian's old life from his memory, and show him the love he deserves for the rest of his life," Sky said with determination, the fire in his eyes telling Linda, more than words, that he meant every word he said.
Just then, the door to the Bridge opened, and Cody came walking in, Bradin cradled in his arms, and Christian hanging off his leg. When Christian noticed Sky, he ran over and climbed into Sky's lap, before noticing the redness of Sky's eyes, "Daddy, why you bin cwyin'?"
"Just because some bad stuff happened to you, baby boy, I hurt for you," Sky said with a small, sad smile.
"Is okay, Daddy. You s'ved me, and you gav' me a fam'ly, and a b'by brover," Christian said with a broad smile, "You're de bestest Daddy ev'r, in the whole wide world!"
"Thank you, baby boy. You just made me feel a whole lot better," Sky told the boy, causing Christian's chest to swell with pride.
"Well, we might as well make this official. Skylan Thomas and Cody Thomas, do you take Christian Lewis as your son? Will you raise him as your own, now and forever?" Linda asked seriously.
"We do," Sky and Cody replied in unison.
"Christian Lewis, do you accept Skylan Thomas and Cody Thomas as your new parents?" Linda continued.
"Yessss!" Christian replied enthusiastically.
"Then by the rules and bylaws contained within the Federation's Safe Haven Act, I hereby declare the petition of Skylan Thomas and Cody Thomas to be mutually beneficial, and I now introduce you to Christian Lewis Thomas, son of Skylan and Cody Thomas, of Clan Short. Welcome to the family, kiddo," Linda said, before giving the group a big hug.
"Than's, Grandma!" Christian exclaimed with glee.
"It was entirely my pleasure. Now, I have to be getting back home. No doubt your father has forgotten the cake... again. First, though, I do need to check in with the rest of my brood." Linda said, giving all the boys quick kisses, before walking out the door.
"Well kiddo, do you want to see if Captain Baxter would be willing to give you a tour of the ship? We should let Daddy get back to the job of making sure the people who hurt you and kids like you get what's coming to them," Cody said.
"Okay, Papa," Christian replied, "Do you fink Cap'n Baxtew would let me steew the ship?"
"I think he might just let you," Sky said, "I can tell him to let you if he says 'no' anyway."
"Thank you, Daddy," Christian replied, hugging Sky before taking Cody's hand. Cody gave Sky a quick kiss, which caused Christian to giggle, before the two of them walked out to the Bridge, to see about Christian's first 'flight lesson'.
A minute later, the comm next to Sky chimed, "Baxter to Commander Thomas."
"Thomas here, what can I do for you, Captain?"
"Sir, I have a young man here with me, who I think you know, wanting to take control of the helm for a test drive. I just wanted to request your permission, seeing as the ship is in your command right now," Captain Baxter said, the smile evident in his voice.
"Permission granted. I hope that doesn't bother you, sir," Sky replied, still unsure of his authority.
"With all due respect, sir, what I think isn't relevant right now. But, if I may be so bold, even if I were in command; I still would have allowed this to happen. It's a joy for me to see first-hand the birth of the exploration instinct in young children. I believe we should be doing all we can to nurture that desire in the youth," Captain Baxter replied.
"I'm happy you feel that way, Captain, because I have a feeling the stars are going to be filled with younger crews, soon, if my Clan have any say in the matter," Sky replied peacefully.
"That will be something to see," came Baxter's reply, "I'll let you get back to your work now, but if I may be frank, sir, don't forget to look after yourself. Holing up in the Ready Room for extended periods isn't a good thing. Believe me, I know."
"As you say, sir. I was about to go and do something elsewhere, anyway, but I think I might stop to watch my new son in action, and then grab a bite to eat, before that," Sky replied, "I'll be out there in a moment. Thomas out," Sky then ended the link, before picking up a PADD, transferring all the relevant data onto it.
As he walked out of the Ready Room, he couldn't help by smile. There in the Helm position, Christian sat in Cody's lap, the older showing the younger what each control was for, and how to lay in the course you desired. The entire Bridge crew was all watching with grand smiles, as father showed son the basics of flight control.
'Now there's a sight I'll never get tired of looking at,' Sky thought to himself, before he turned and made his way to the turbolift, directing it to take him to the mess hall.
Sky, along with Kane and Liam, beamed into the main reception area of the facility. They were met by the Director in charge of the prison, and conducted to one of the main interview rooms.
Once all were seated, two prison guards walked a man into the room and secured him to his chair. The man in question was the man in charge of the attack on the hospital â€" Christian's birth father.
Before he began, Sky took a moment to indulge in an inward chuckle at the man's appearance. He had only been in the facility for a few hours, and already, he looked as though he had been the loser in a five-round boxing match with the current Federation Champion boxer. The Director of the facility, Herman Butz (a name that had caused and was still causing giggles in the boys, despite their attempts at emotional control), was sitting to the left of Kane, who sat to the left of Sky, with Liam to Sky's right. This was to at least provide at least some protection to the younger boy.
Mr. Butz spoke before Sky could begin, "My apologies for the prisoner's appearance, Director Thomas. Unfortunately, word of his crimes somehow became public knowledge here in the facility, and neither the guards, nor many of our residents take kindly to those that cause harm to children."
"No need for apologies, Mr. Butz. I can understand that in a facility of this size, the actions of a select few are hard to monitor. While I don't condone the treatment this man has received, I certainly won't file any formal complaints," Sky replied, before turning his attention on the prisoner.
"Mr. Chase Inthalis, son of Clyde and Cynthia Inthalis, you stand accused of murder, conspiracy to commit same, blackmail, possession and production of child pornography, high treason and countless other charges. Do you require a full reading of your charges, or shall we simply proceed?" he asked in an icy voice.
"Ain't nothin' you can do to me, kid. It's only 'cause o' that freak next to ya' that you got the upper hand las' time. I guarantee that I'll be out of here by the end of tomorrow," Mr. Inthalis sneered.
"I don't think so, Mr. Inthalis. As of thirty minutes ago, the Family First Christian Church has been place at the top of Australia's terrorism list. Every law enforcement agency in the nation is now hunting down every member of your 'church', and those that are guilty of having a hand in today's attacks will be tried by the highest court in the nation, and I can tell you, none will escape, as that court will be MINE," Sky said.
"On top of that, any attempts to post bail on your behalf will fail, as every bank account held by your church has had it's funds frozen, and whoever tries will very quickly find a Starfleet Security team standing at their front and back doors. Starfleet's Transport Agency has reviewed their logs, and everyone involved in providing your church with transporter capability in the Jamberoo attack is being detained as we speak. By the end of tomorrow, the FFCC will be nothing but a footnote in the pages of history,"
"Yeah sure, that'll happen. Go back to playing Monopoly, kid. That's where you're power lies," Mr. Inthalis said dismissively.
"That just goes to show what you know, Mr. Inthalis. As the Director of the Oceanic Division of Clan Short of Vulcan, I have declared that you will face a Vulcan Tribunal to answer to your crimes against children. The rest of your crimes are outside of my purview, however, your crimes against children hold more weight than the rest combined. Throughout your adult life, you have done nothing but hurt children or plot ways to get what you want that will hurt children. You call Clan Short 'heathens', but in actual fact, YOU are the heathen, Mr. Inthalis. YOU are the one who cannot abide by the laws set out in the Lord's Book, OR by the Nation of Australia, yet you believe others of going against the Lord's word," Sky began to fire up.
"Mr. Inthalis, during the events at the Melbourne Children's Hospital, and here in this facility, you have been under constant telepathic scrutiny, courtesy of Kane Thomas, to my left, and not once during either event has he signaled to me a sign that you feel remorse for your actions. In fact, he has revealed to me that you have been reliving the events we have been discussing, relishing in them, and reviewing them to try and find some sort of legal loophole to get out of this facility. I can tell you now, that... won't... work."
Liam and Mr. Butz were both impressed with Sky's presence, Liam having never seen this side of Sky before, and Mr. Butz having never seen any young man able to stand up to a prisoner like this before. He knew there were a few guards in his employ that couldn't stand up to a prisoner of this caliber.
"Mr. Inthalis, for your crimes against the children of Australia, I find you guilty," Sky said in a chillingly calm manner, "If you had shown any remorse at all, you would have faced life on the nearest Starfleet prison planet. As you have shown none, however, I have no choice but to sentence you to death."
At this, Mr. Inthalis began to protest, trying to get Mr. Butz to intervene, but Mr. Butz was remaining silent. He knew that interfering with a Vulcan Tribunal was the fastest way to losing his job, and possibly causing an interplanetary incident.
Sky had kept going, "You are a menace to not only society, but to yourself. There is no way known that you would be able to be rehabilitated, and incarcerating you for life on a prison planet, when you will not learn the lesson needed is a massive waste of resources. Therefore, death is the only logical option available,"
"I am not without mercy. Your sentence will be carried out by way of maximum phaser setting. You will have a choice of who performs the procedure. Either Mr. Paige, to my right, can do it, or Mr. Butz can get one of his guards to carry out the sentence."
"Surely you're not gonna let a kid kill me! What kind of idiot are you, are you deaf or somethin'?!" Mr. Inthalis asked Mr. Butz.
"On the contrary, Mr. Inthalis. A person of much higher position than me has sentenced you. If I refuse to allow him to proceed, I will be fired from my job, and could even face my own Vulcan Tribunal. Now, I believe Mr. Thomas here offered you a decision, and I would suggest you choose quickly, else the choice will be taken away from you," Mr. Butz told Mr. Inthalis.
"Well then, seeing as how there's no real chance of getting out of this, I'll choose the brat. I'd love to see if he has the balls to do the dirty deed," Mr. Inthalis said smugly.
"Very well, you have chosen Mr. Paige. Liam, take your position and ensure your phaser is set to 'maximum'. There is no logic or honour in making his last seconds on this plane painful. Fire on my mark... 3... 2..."
At that moment, Mr. Inthalis made a move to tackle Liam, but was quickly fired on by Liam's phaser. In the space of a second, his body disintegrated, until all that was left were a few particles, which were quickly swept away by the ventilation system.
Sky turned to Kane, "Kane, did you make sure the tricorder got everything that happened?"
"Uh huh, Mr. Butz even allowed me to tap into the cam'ra system to get vid'o," Kane replied.
"Thank you Mr. Butz, for all your assistance today. I'm only sorry that it had to end like that," Sky said, shaking Mr. Butz's hand.
"In all my years of experience, I've learned that there are some who simply cannot see that what they've done is wrong," Mr. Butz said, "I wish you and your Clan a speedy recovery, and hope that you will all take something positive away from this experience."
"I already have. That man's 4-year-old son was rescued from his clutches, and has agreed to be my partners' son and mine. We look forward to showering him with the love that his birth father never would have," Sky said with a peaceful smile.
"That sounds wonderful, I'd best not keep the young man waiting. Good luck, Skylan Thomas of Clan Short."
"And to you, Mr. Butz," Sky said, before tapping his commbadge, "Sky Thomas to AUSMelbourne, three to beam up..."
Linda had just finished all her baking and was loading up the dishwasher, when her commbadge chimed, "Admiral Callow to Director Thomas."
'I wonder what this is about,' Linda thought to herself, before tapping her 'badge, "Thomas here, what can I do for you, Admiral?"
"Director, I have a situation that requires your department. I currently have custody of a group of children related to the officers detained as a result of recent events. Keep in mind, none of these officers, or their children, are or were members of the Family First Christian Church. The only reason they circumvented our transporter security protocols was because they allowed their greed to overcome their senses."
"I see. Well Admiral, I can be there to meet this group in about ten minutes. I just have to wait for someone else to get home first. Harry's at the office, and all the Clan members are up on the Melbourne, so it's just me, Clive and Kiara," Linda said.
"That will be fine. I'm keeping the kids entertained with a game of Monopoly. You just get here when you can. Callow out."
Linda stood in place for a moment, considering the situation, before tapping her commbadge, "Mum to any of my kids."
Linda walked in to find an intense game of Monopoly in progress. Three boys and the Admiral were all trying their hardest to psyche their opponents out. She couldn't help but chuckle softly at the sight. This caused all heads to turn to her, the Admiral blushing slightly, and the boys' faces to fall into a look of fear.
"Are you here to take us to juvie?" the oldest boy, who looked about 14, asked.
"No, I'm here to offer you a choice. You can either come with me, and live in the Clan Short Oceanic Compound, you can choose to live in a group home, you can try your hand at the adoption market, or you can go to juvenile hall if you feel you deserve it," Linda said in a neutral tone.
"But you won't MAKE us go if we don't want to?" the middle boy, a 12-year-old, asked uncertainly.
"Of course not. Now, I understand that what has happened these last couple of days is a lot to deal with, but might I suggest you take me up on my offer for lodging at the Clan Short Oceanic Compound? Once the situation has settled, we can discuss your other options, and you can choose what you want to do. It's entirely your choice," Linda said gently.
"And if we don't want to stay anymore, you won't stop us leaving?" the oldest boy asked.
"Boys," the Admiral said, "This is Linda Thomas, Director of Oceanic Federation Youth Services. Her title means that her job is to look out for the youth of Australia and the rest of the Oceanic region. She's not about to force you to stay somewhere you aren't happy. That goes against her job."
"The Admiral's right, guys. I won't stop you leaving, but I will need to know that you're going somewhere you'll be looked after. I'm not about to let you live on the streets. It could even come down to my department supporting you financially while you live on your own," Linda said reasonably.
The boys all huddled together, discussing their thoughts, before the oldest boy turned to Linda, "Okay, we'll give your Compound a go, but we make no promises. If we don't like it, we're gone," he stated firmly.
"I can accept that. Now, get your stuff. We have a cook-up to get to. The Compound is cooking a meal for the families affected by the attacks. It's just a simple barbecue, so you won't stand out in your shirts and jeans, but I still have some prep to do," Linda said, herding the boys to get ready.
"Okay," the oldest boy said, before turning to the Admiral, "Thanks, Uncle Jude. It's nice to know that we won't be blamed for what's happened lately."
"It was my immense pleasure, boys, and I don't think anyone would ever blame you for the events that have transpired," the admiral replied with a fond smile. His last view of the boys was the youngest boy tentatively wrapping his arms around Linda's waist. 'Good luck boys. I know you're going to love your new lives.'
Four transporter beams resolved into the forms of Linda and the boys in her office, where she guided the boys to take seats on the nearby couch, taking a seat in an armchair in front of it.
"Okay, guys, here's the deal. You are here on a trial basis. Whether or not you stay here long-term is entirely up to you. The only reason you would be sent away is if you become a danger to any of the other people in this Compound. This is a reciprocal rule, if anyone else poses a danger to you or any other person here, they will be sent away. You will not be punished or thrown out for being kids, you ARE kids, that's your job. The adults here know this, and will not hold any mistakes against you, as long as you show you can learn from those mistakes. Do you understand what I'm saying?" Linda said seriously.
"Yes," the boys replied in unison, before the oldest continued, "You're saying that we can do what we want, as long as we follow the rules outlined for all?"
"That's completely correct," Linda smiled, "You are not prisoners here. If you want to join any of the other guys in town, or you have a need to go into town, with good reason, one of the adults here will arrange to get you there."
"Cool," the middle boy said, "So where is our room?"
"Well, that's where it gets interesting. You don't actually get a room," Linda began, watching the boys' faces register distrust, "You will actually be assigned either a cabin together, your own cabins, or you may be pair up with a Clan member close to your age, or even invited to live in the cabin of one of the families in the Compound."
It took a few seconds for Linda's words to sink into the boys' brains, but eventually, broad grins spread across their faces as they realised just how good their new lives could be.
"You mean we can have our own cabin? That... is... so... AWESOME!" the middle boy exclaimed.
"But, before that can happen, I just need one thing," Linda said, drawing looks of question and concern from the boys, "Well, in all the excitement, your Uncle Jude seems to have failed to tell me your names. I need to put something in the cabin assignment system, other than 'boy 1', 'boy 2' and 'boy 3'. And I need your ages, too."
"Oh," the oldest boy said with a blush, "I'm Nate and I'm 14," then pointing to the middle boy, "He's Josh, he's 12," and wrapping his arm around the youngest boy's shoulders, "And this is my brother Cole, he's 10."
"It's nice to have names to put to your faces. Now, what say we head out, and I'll give you the tour after we eat? Are you guys hungry?" Linda asked, knowing that they would be. They WERE young boys, after all. Aren't ALL boys always hungry?
"Yeah!" the boys all answered, Cole's head nodding so hard, Linda worried it might fly off his neck.
"Well then, let's go get some grub," Linda said with a smile.
The barbecue had just finished, and the guests of honour had all enjoyed themselves as much as they could, considering recent events, and were currently applying for whatever FYS assistance they needed, which gave Linda the opportunity to start Nate's, Josh's and Cole's tours of the Compound, starting with a quick rundown of the emergency procedures. Once she was sure they understood what they had to do, she showed them back to her office and told them that it would be where they would find her most of the time during the day, and that her door was always open.
She then took the boys to the MPRC (Multi-Purpose Rec Center), where they got to see the pool (which they all looked forward to using), the all purpose playing courts, and were awed by the progress Tim and Zeke had made in converting the third court into a holodeck. It was when they reach the gym, that Linda got a little surprise. Nate's eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning, and he ran around all the equipment, touching every thing his saw, and his excitement grew when he saw the full complement of free weights sitting in their rack next to a wall-sized mirror.
"Oh my God, this is soooo COOL!" he gushed, temporarily forgetting that teenagers DON'T gush, before remembering himself when he heard the giggles from Josh and Cole, as well as a soft chuckle from Linda.
"Are you into fitness, Nate?" Linda asked, already knowing the answer.
"Yeah, but we couldn't afford a gym membership, so all I've been able to do is a bunch of calisthenics. I wanna be a bodybuilder. I just think that guys that have that sort of body are so ho... err... cool," he blushed after his slip, knowing that Linda would pick up on it, and kick him out because he liked guys.
"That sounds good, just make sure you get a good education, as well. There are too many bodybuilders out there today, who sacrificed their smarts for their looks, and are now penniless because their bodies have succumbed to age and gravity. I don't want you falling into that trap," Linda said.
"Oh, I won't. I'm top of my class, or at least I was. I don't know how we're gonna be able to go to school now," Josh said.
"Well all the kids in the Compound are home-schooled. We have a number of adults who are certified to train in their fields, including the three basics, as well as a number of elective courses," Linda said, guiding the boys towards to Clan CIC, "Our Physical Arts instructor is Elena, my FYS security officer. Nate, that means that anytime you want to use the gym, you need to have another of boys with you, or Elena will have to supervise you, which will limit the time you can spend there, okay?"
"Sure, I'd be pretty stupid to not have a spotter with me, anyway. That's one of the fastest ways to injure yourself," Nate said seriously.
"I'm glad to see you're not fighting me on anything so far. I have to admit, I kind of expected you and possibly Josh to put up a fight on some of the things I've told you," Linda said speculatively.
"We all grew up with Starfleet officers, Ma'am. You get used to be told what to do in that situation," Nate said.
"I'm not 'Ma'am', I'm Linda. Ma'am is for visiting dignitaries and those you don't know the name of. And in response to your statement, we're not telling you what to do, you're free to do whatever you want, so long as you follow the rules I mentioned, and school-time is one of those rules. You are all obviously intelligent boys, so I see no need to restrict anything you do. If you like working out, the gym is open to you at any time, so long as there are at least 2 people there. If you like working with electronics, Tim and Zeke are always looking for more people to help them with their projects. If you like working with computers, one of my sons and my husband are the ones you want to see. Anything you want to do, we will find a way to help you make it happen." Linda said, just as the group arrived at the CIC.
"Cool. This place looks all high tech and stuff." Josh said in awe.
"This is the Clan's Oceanic CIC. Here is where the Clan does its job in this region. It also houses the classrooms for your school hours, as well as the Clan's own R&D labs. You can't enter it until we have entered your biometric data into the system, as the security system is constantly scanning for unauthorised biosigns; so at the moment, if you were to walk in there, we'd be at Condition Red within microseconds. Now, let's go get you a cabin."
The process of choosing a cabin took some time, the three boys discussing the various pros and cons of each cabin's location, before they settled on a cabin halfway between the three main buildings, next door to Tim and Trent. Within short order, their new 'neighbours' came knocking at the door, welcoming them to the Compound, and offering any help the boys needed. This was a new experience for Nate, Josh and Cole, as they were all used to having Starfleet officers as neighbours, many of whom were usually off-planet for long periods of time, and all of whom had no children.
Josh was soon in a deep conversation with Tim, learning anything he could about his and Zeke's projects, Tim's chest swelling with pride at the younger boy's exclamations at the 'coolness' of the new commbadges, and what he'd seen of the holodeck.
"Actually, Zeke and I have decided that planetary-based holodecks should be called holosuites, because planetary installations don't actually use the term decks. That's reserved for ships and starbases," Tim said with a smile at Josh's enthusiasm.
Trent and Nate were discussing the gym, and Trent's mild annoyance that no-one else in the Clan was as into working out as he was, so he had to wait until Elena was home to be able to work out. This perked Nate up right away, as he now had a potential workout partner, and the two decided to set a time to go to the gym the next morning and see how each was coming along in their efforts.
Cole simply sat on the couch, watching these conversations take place, boredom quickly setting in, until Tim noticed his expression, and decided to try to entertain him, "Hey Cole, you're looking a little bored, so I have an idea. How would you like to see the inside of the Melbourne?"
"Really? The Melbourne? Cool! Can I Nate?" Cole asked excitedly.
"Are you sure he can? And is it safe for him up there?" Nate asked uncertainly.
"I happen to know the current Commanding Officer, and I know he'd be okay with it. Plus, the majority of the Clan is up there now, helping the people injured in the attacks," Tim said seriously.
"Well, if you're sure, I guess I can't say no. Just promise me you'll be careful up there, Cole, and don't touch anything you shouldn't," Nate said in his 'big brother' voice.
"I will, and I won't," Cole said, beaming at the prospect.
"Well, you'll need a way to call them to get up there, I think. So here," Tim said, handing the young boy a commbadge from one of his pockets, "I actually have one of each of you. They're only standard commbadges at the moment, because you haven't officially joined the Clan yet, but that will come tonight."
"Wow! Cool!" Josh and Cole said in unison. Nate simply smiled and nodded his thanks.
Cole quickly place the 'badge on his shirt, then tapped it as he had seen Tim do when showing Josh and spoke, "Cole Sparks to Melbourne, one to beam up."
"I'm sorry, there is no authorised person by that name on our records," came the reply from the transporter chief.
Tim quickly tapped his 'badge, sorry he had forgotten the lockdown protocols that were in place, "This is Tim York, of Clan Short Oceanic. I hereby authorise the request of Cole Sparks, and add him to the authorised personnel list, along with Nate Sparks and Josh..."
"White," Nate provided.
"Thanks. Josh White," Tim finished.
"Acknowledged. Names entered into authorised list. Transport on your mark," the Chief replied.
"It's your show, little buddy," Tim said to Cole.
Cole beamed, and then tapped his 'badge, "Energise."
The group watched with smiles as a cluster of transporter beams resolved into Sky and Cody, accompanied by Christian, Bradin and Cole. Nate was especially pleased to see the smile that was spread across Cole's face, this being the happiest he could remember seeing his brother in a long time. Once again, he realised just how good life here seemed already.
"Did you have fun, bro?" Nate asked.
"It was soo cool! Sky's in charge of the whole ship, and he let me take the helm!" Cole answered breathlessly.
"He is? He is?" Nate asked.
"That's right. I am in command of the Melbourne until the current situation has been resolved. I figured that, since there were only minor corrections that needed to be done, with the ship being in orbit right now, that Cole here could get a turn at the helm station. All the kids have that chance if they want it, and there's a helm officer right there with them to help and show them what to do," Sky said peacefully, "Cole here has, as Lieutenant T'Klas put it, 'a natural understanding of space physics that should be nurtured'. That's high praise from a Vulcan officer."
"Really? Cole impressed a Vulcan?" Nate asked incredulously.
"He did," Sky said, before turning to Linda, "Mum, I'm gonna take the guys into my office in my cabin, to get to know them, and answer any questions they may have," he said with a telling look.
"Okay, but be gentle. No interrogating them on their first night," Linda replied with a slight smirk, causing all three of the new boys to fill with worry over what lay ahead of them.
"Of course, Mum. I'm not THAT bad," Sky said with a small smile, before guiding the three boys out the door and towards his and Cody's cabin.
Once all were seated in the office of the cabin, Sky on an armchair and the three boys huddled together on a loveseat, Sky began.
"Guys, you can relax. Mum was kidding when she said anything about an interrogation. I only interrogate bad guys, and there's nothing I've heard about you that says you are bad guys. I just wanted to sit down with you all and get your side of the story, and to answer any questions you might have. What I need to know right now is, what are your thoughts on what has happened the past few days?"
Nate's face immediately flushed with anger, "I hate my father for what he did."
Cole immediately piped up, "Me too."
Josh said a little more softly, "I feel sad for all the kids hurt or killed. I'm sad for my mum, too. I just can't see how she could have had anything to do with this," tears soon filled his eyes, the emotions of the last few days catching up to him.
Sky reached over and pulled the younger boy into his lap, softly stroking his fine blond hair, "It's okay. I know it's hard to make sense of what's happened, and there will be times when you will miss your mother a lot, but I can promise you that if she can overcome this obstacle and pay her penance, that you will be with her again," he said softly, before looking at Nate and Cole, "And I also believe that, in time, you both will be able to forgive your father for his part in all this."
"How can you believe that?" Nate asked in disbelief, "How can you not see the evil in what he did, given what has happened to you and your family, and all those other families? How can you not think he's evil?"
"I believe in what I say, because to believe otherwise leads to the path your father has walked. I don't think he is evil, greed does not make you evil," Sky said seriously but gently, "Killing young children just because they MIGHT be different to you, THAT makes you evil."
Sky watched as many emotions crossed Nate's face. From the initial disbelief came a look of deep thought, then sadness, and then finally resolution.
"Did any of you have any questions that I can answer?" Sky asked, hoping to get away from the heavy topics that they covered already.
"I have one," Cole said, "What is this 'clan' thing your mum mentioned?"
"I have to say, I'm a little surprised you don't already know about it," Sky said in prelude, wondering how it was possible, "The Clan was formed when my cousin and many other boys, who had all sworn a oath of brotherhood, were charged with extracting justice for crimes committed against two of their members. The members in question had been abused sexually, and the abuse had been recorded and turned into pornography. The Clan's purpose is the protection of children and their rights on this and many other worlds in the Federation."
Sky paused for a second to collect his thoughts, before continuing, "As of this day, the Clan has in excess of 200 members, in many countries, each and every one of them in some way abused, neglected or affected by the harsh realities of life. Each member has sworn the same oath as the original group, and is bonded to each other as brothers."
"Wow..." was all Cole could respond with. Sky looked at the other two boys. Nate had a look of awe on his face, and Josh, still sitting on Sky's lap had a look of wonder.
"Just think, guys. By the end of tonight, you will all be a part of something huge, working towards improving life for kids all over the world," Sky said with a grin, "Kinda boggles the mind, huh?"
"No kidding," Nate whispered.
"Don't stress over it, guys. You'll have a whole heap of help in getting used to all these changes soon," Sky said, gently prodding Josh to hop down, so the group could all go back to the guys' new cabin.
Nate sat at a terminal, looking over the Clan's historical database, finding out all he could about the boys he now called his brothers. Cole was also at a terminal, chatting to a couple of friends back at his former home, trying to arrange for them to come see the 'mega-awesome' place he now called home.
Josh was walking around the Compound, his thoughts a jumbled mess. He missed his mother a lot, but was still having trouble getting past what she had done, and what had resulted.
He soon found himself at Sky and Cody's cabin. He debated knocking for a few seconds, before finally lifting his hand and striking the door three times. It took a moment, but he soon heard the knob turn, and the door opened to reveal Cody standing in the doorway, wearing only a pair of sleeping pants, and a mildly surprised look on his face.
"Josh, what can we do for you?" Cody asked.
"Umm... I was wondering... uh... could I speak to Sky? I need help sorting some things out," Josh mumbled, unsure of how Cody would react to the request.
"Sure thing, little man. Come on into the lounge room, and I'll grab him for you. He's upstairs giving Christian a bath. I'll go take over for him, and send him down to you. Get yourself comfortable," Cody said with a sad smile towards the boy.
Josh sat on the sofa in the room, looking around the comfortably appointed room. It was only a few minutes before Sky came down the stairs, sitting next to Josh on the sofa and wordlessly pulling the younger boy into his arms and holding him gently.
"I'm so confused..." Josh began.
Josh awoke from his place between Sky and Cody. He looked at his surroundings in confusion for a moment, before remembering the events of the day before. He recalled that Sky had offered the comfort of himself and Cody for the night, allowing him to join the pair in their bed for the night.
After a long conversation with the older boy, Josh found himself filled with more confusing thoughts. He had always figured himself to be straight. Though he had never done anything with a girl, his fantasies when he 'relieved' himself had always centered on girls. Last night, he had experienced deep feelings for Sky. What he didn't realise was that his feelings revolved around a need for love and understanding, something Sky was more than willing to provide. In his immature mind, these feelings equated to a deep emotional love. This created some awkwardness for the young boy, as he didn't want to cause any problems between Sky and Cody, who he could see, truly loved each other.
What he was also unaware of, was that after he had fallen asleep earlier that morning, Sky and Cody had stayed awake, watching the young boy's gentle, deep breathing, and discussing what they could do for him with their eyes. They both had come to the same conclusion, and now needed to discuss the matter with Linda, to see what their options were.
As all these thoughts were going through Josh's mind, Sky and Cody were slowly returning from the land of dreams. They both found they didn't mind the extra body that had joined them in the bed. They both actually looked forward to Christian and Bradin doing the same thing in the future. It was these moments of parenthood that they looked forward to experiencing.
Sky was the first to speak up, "Morning, Josh. You feel up to some breakfast?"
Josh quietly nodded, and soon, all three boys were up and out of the bed. When Cody opened the bedroom door, they all found Christian curled up on the floor.
"Aww, poor little guy. Must've been a little more scared than he let on," Cody said softly, "I'll just pop him back into his bed, 'til he's ready to wake up," with that, Cody picked the young boy up and walked towards his room.
Sky put his arm over Josh's shoulder and guided the younger boy towards the kitchen, before getting to work on making breakfast for the family, Josh helping by grabbing what Sky needed. Soon, the smell of cooking sausages, bacon, toast and pancakes filled the air, and Josh was relaxing even more, and was openly discussing his life with the older teen.
Just before the food was ready, Cody came walking into the kitchen, Christian in tow. Josh had to admit, the younger boy looked adorable. He hadn't yet had a shower, and his fine, soft hair was flying around his head like a halo. It was this thought that had his mind reeling once again. He decided he had to talk to someone about these new feelings.
A moment later, Sky and Cody's commbadges emitted a few pulsed beeps, indicating to them that Bradin was awake and ready to get out of his crib. Cody went upstairs to get him ready for the day, while Sky prepared a bottle for Bradin for breakfast, asking Josh and Christian to take the food out to the dining table at the same time.
Shortly, the entire family, plus Josh, was seated at the table, platters and jugs of food and drink being passed around. Pleasant conversation filled the room as the group enjoyed their meal. Sky and Cody watched as Josh interacted with Christian as an older brother to a younger one.
Pretty soon, as always happens with a group of growing boys, the food was finished. Cody and Christian took care of clearing the table and loading the dishwasher, while Sky took Bradin and Josh upstairs for Josh to have a shower while he bathed Bradin.
Linda was at her desk, going over the morning paperwork, which detailed the assistance that the families affected by the attack were to receive, when Sky lightly knocked on her door. After a quick morning kiss, Linda invited the teen to have a seat.
"So, I have a feeling this isn't a purely social call," Linda said leadingly.
"Well, I would've come to see you anyway. But you're right; I need to talk to you about Josh. Nate and Cole seem to have been able to put the attack behind them and have made a couple of friends already, but Josh seems to be having a hard time getting past his mother's actions, and the results of said actions," Sky said speculatively.
"Do you think he needs to see Ella? I can get her to come here and we can make arrangements," Linda said in thought.
"Well, I think that'll help, but there's something else I wanted to talk to you about, get your opinion," Sky said, "I was wondering what we would need to adopt Josh. Cody and I had him over at his house last night, and we both agreed that he needs someone in his life to fill that void, and it wouldn't be too weird for him, 'cause his father died when he was a baby, and all he's ever had was his mother."
"Are you both absolutely certain of this? I mean, if we go down this road, there's no going back. That boy will be your son forever." Linda asked.
"It doesn't have to be forever, Mum. I hope that one day, he'll be able to reconcile with his mother. Even if it's only temporary ward-ship, he'll at least have someone he can come to with any problems he faces," Sky said, unsure as to his mother's thoughts.
"That's just it, Sky. It would be forever. This morning, I received a communiquÃ© from the detention center that held his mother, as well as Nate and Cole's father. It seems that early this morning, a riot broke out in the facility. The management believes that the riot was simply a cover for a group of detainees who systematically went through the entire center, killing anyone who had any involvement with the attacks on the Rec Park and the Children's Hospital. Apparently, none survived," Linda said grimly.
"How is that possible? Doesn't the facility have protocols for that sort of thing?" Sky asked in disbelief.
"The protocols were in place, which leads the management to believe that there was an insider in the facility, helping those detainees that committed the killings," Linda said.
"Which means the murders were a contract hit. Obviously, the FFCC still has a few high-placed people. Were they able to track down the inside man?" Sky asked.
"They're still working through the logs of the time of the riot, trying to find the person responsible. I don't really hold high hopes for a successful resolution in this case," Linda said.
"Can you request that they send a copy of the logs to Zoe? Her decryption skills have come a long way, it's like digital code is her native language sometimes," Sky said.
"I'll put the request in as soon as we're done here. So, to get back to the original conversation, would you and Cody be willing for a permanent custody arrangement? It might still be a little strange for Josh: you are only 2 years older than him. Are you ready to deal with that sort of difficulty?"
"We have to be, Mum. Josh needs a family, and if you saw the way he interacted with Christian, you'd know that our family is the one he needs," Sky said seriously.
"Well, considering the situation, and Josh's emotional need for a family, we'll make an appointment for this afternoon to go through the legal requirements. According to his mother's personnel file, her parents both passed away a number of years ago, and she was an only child, so I don't foresee any issues in the future," Linda said.
"Thanks, Mum, I knew you'd take me seriously. I realise that this is an unusual situation, given the age thing, but Cody and I both know that this is what we need to do. I'd better go have a talk to Josh and see if this is what he wants. I'll call you with the answer," Sky said, getting up to give Linda a huge hug.
Linda watched her son walk out of her office with a spring in his step, 'Ah, Sky,' she thought to herself, 'I can see this is only the beginning for you. Your heart is far too big for just three kids.'
Well, I'd like to start out with an apology for the delay in posting this chapter. Unfortunately, when real life hits you, it hits hard. That being said, I now have a new roster that should allow me to focus more time to the creative arts.
I hope you all enjoy this new chapter from the Oceanic Division. Keep in mind that MDU will not stick strictly to the storylines sort forth in other CSU stories. I have my own ideas for storyline that will have the Oceanic Division be a self-contained division, going about the original purpose of the Clan. Major changes to the universe will, of course, affect the OD, but many of the new subspecies of humans are not likely to appear.
Anyway, let me know what you thought of this chapter, either by email or post on the Forums.