"That was awesome!" Cory exclaimed once again as they entered the house.
"So you've said fifty thousand times already!" JJ giggled, the squirrel in his arms chattering his agreement.
"Well, it was, Squirrel Boy!" Cory sniggered as he stuck out his tongue at JJ.
"Leave Dale outta this." JJ shot back with a grin. "He joined up because he was attracted by all you nuts!"
"So he chose the biggest nut to partner with?" Teri chuckled. At JJ's faux hurt look, she added "Remember, ALL of my sons are fair game!"
JJ rolled his eyes, and followed Adam into the living room. "Parents are weird..." he muttered to Dale.
Within a few minutes, after bathroom breaks and refrigerator raids, the boys were all assembled in the living room. The couples were paired up in various seats, while the singles all piled onto the couch in one big cluster. Adam retrieved the remote from the table next to him, intending to see what movies were on. As the screen came to life, it showed the Channel 5 nightly news. Adam's finger quickly slipped away from the channel up button as he saw the banner flash onto the screen to accompany the words of the newscaster. "... After these messages, breaking news about the Metro's own Family Clan Short Division."
"I wanna see this." Sean stated. "I wonder what they're covering?"
"MOM, BRUCE!" Cory yelled. "Come in here! The news is covering something about the new Division!"
The boys had almost convinced Kyle and Tyler to go move the newscast ahead in time so they wouldn't have to sit through any more commercials when the newscast resumed. All eyes were glued to the screen, each wondering what would be said.
"Now for tonight's top story." the well-dressed newscaster began with a smile. "For those not aware, Patriarch Cory Short made it official this weekend that the Des Moines compound in Urbandale is a full Family Clan Short division. With the Clan now having a permanent base at the location of its founding, we all were expecting great things, and I for one was not disappointed. In cooperation with the Capitol, the boys of Clan Short held the First Annual Halloween Bash in Wells Fargo Arena this evening. Before we go to our live coverage, the State Police have just announced that two of the top ten at-large sex offenders were captured by the Clan at the party, and are now in State custody pending trial. Now, we'll go to Bridgett, who is standing by at the Wells Fargo Arena."
"Thank you, Fred." Bridgett replied as the newscast went full-screen. She was standing just in front of a long table, almost all of the seats filled with obviously wealthy adults. The exceptions were in the center, where Jesse and Julio were seated on either side of the podium, their six new sons behind them, three to a side. "Behind me, you can see that some of the most powerful people in the Metro area are taking their seats to participate in one of the largest outpourings of unity in the history of our State. If you missed the event, which is just winding up, you missed the party of the century. It looks like things are about to begin, so you'll get to watch this as it happens."
Herman stepped up to the podium, looking to ensure that everyone was present. "Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen. For those who don't know me on sight, I am Brigadier General Herman Wilder, Retired. As the newly-adopted father of the Des Moines Division Air Wing, I am honored to have been selected to officiate this ceremony to show official support for our Division. Understand that by our, I don't mean the Clan's... I mean Iowa's. The persons assembled tonight are here for one reason only; they wish to make their support for Iowa's finest youth public knowledge." Herman then introduced the people at the table, ending with Julio, Jesse, and their sons.
Back in Teri's living room, Bruce looked at Teri in shock. "Do you realize who some of those people are?"
Teri nodded. "I know some of them personally. I can tell you one thing; this isn't a publicity stunt. At least half of them are the type that have their underlings do the publicity posturing. The fact they are doing this personally without any kind of warning means that anything they say tonight you can take at face value."
"MOM!" Cory stated, obviously wanting to concentrate on the newscast.
"Sorry...." Teri chuckled. "We'll talk later, Bruce."
Bruce nodded, and they both turned their attention back to the screen. As they watched, Julio signed mutual support agreements with all of the local medical facilities, then contracts with HyVee and Casey's for them to provide supplies to the Division at cost. Quite a few other metro companies also provided their services in whatever way would benefit the Clan. By the time it was done, Julio was obviously beginning to develop a case of writer's cramp. Herman took the podium once again, the final speaker having stepped away to shake both Julio's and Jesse's hands. "Before Director Hernandez takes the podium, I would like to comment that the last time I saw that many signatures I was enlisting in the Army."
Everyone at the table chuckled, and Julio took the podium. "Thank you, General; my eyes are starting to hurt, I think I need more carrots!" he commented with a giggle. "I want to thank all of you for the support that you've shown tonight. I know this is on the news as well, and I would like to let the viewers know that I didn't ask for this; neither did Cory. Everything you've seen tonight was done without any prompting by any of the Clan, it was proof to all of us that Iowans take care of their own. I want to thank each and every one of our new partners for their generosity; tonight Iowa's business community has taken the lead in protecting our youth. Now if someone wants to do my homework, I'll be all set!"
Julio paused as the adults gave knowing laughs. "Seriously, the party and now this have pretty much taken away my worry about how I was going to handle running the new division. I didn't need to worry, because I now know that all I have to do is ask. The Metro area will handle the rest! Thanks to each and every one of you once again."
The camera cut back to Bridgett. "As things are winding up, let me add my own thoughts." she stated. "Tonight I saw the sons of Cory Short put on a concert like no other, I saw an entire arena pay respect to the boys lost in Montana, I saw children who couldn't afford the simplest costume walk out of the arena with huge smiles, new costumes, and top of the line face-paints. I saw parents stepping up and assisting at the various attractions to ensure they ran smoothly. I've seen things tonight that you would not believe unless you saw them yourself... but the one thing that never wavered throughout the entire night was the sense of family helping family. Tonight I have seen the best of Iowa, and as anyone who was here tonight will agree, my life will never be the same after living through this event. Back to you, Fred."
Fred came back on the screen. "I'll have to agree with you, Bridgett. Unfortunately I had to leave early to make it here, but my wife and son are still there. With what just happened, any other news story would be disrespectful. So we'll leave you tonight with footage of the band 'Time Touched', the sons of Cory and Sean Short, as they paid tribute to their lost brothers with the song 'When the Children Cry'."
Everyone watched as the song played, the shot wide enough to catch the flagpoles as well as the backdrop. Once the song finished, the camera kept rolling, saving for eternity the memorial. The screen went black as Eoghan started his speech, his voice clear as the words "In memory of the brave souls who made the ultimate sacrifice in Montana to protect youth. Iowa will never forget." appeared on the screen. Eoghan's speech finished, replaced with the audible of 'What about Me?' from the concert, the memorial screen still in place. After a respectable silence at the end of the song, the screen faded and the channel switched to the tail end of the national newscast. Adam hit the mute button on the remote, fully expecting Cory to make a comment now that it was complete.
Cory looked around the silent room, pulling Sean into his side as he took in the faces around him. "I didn't know." he said in an awestruck whisper. "I really didn't know. Is our promise to each other really this big now?"
JJ waited a second, then added his thoughts. "It's only been a couple of months since we got together. How'd things get this big?"
Sean nodded, his eyes still wet from watching the memorial. "Yeah, we might have a fancy title, but we're still a bunch of kids. Why's everyone doing this?"
Kyle smiled as the first three looked at him. "I packed up my Superman cape; I'm only hanging around for the shoulder rides!" he giggled, which brought smiles to the faces of those who had first heard him utter those same words.
Teri came over, and after assisting Kyle in securing a seat on her hip, she turned to the rest of the group. "I'm not going to pretend to know the answers to those questions." she said as she poked a giggling Kyle in the ribs. "I will say that you've captured the imaginations of a lot of people, and it looks like good things have come from it."
"I agree." Bruce added. "Don't change a thing. Do whatever you need to do to free yourselves up to be able to do the kind of things that started this, but don't let the support that you're getting make it impossible for you to do what you do best."
"I'll go one step further... I'll make that 'Mom's Orders'." Teri stated jokingly.
Mont looked at Bast. "Daddy Joe said that if Momma Teri gives an order, we're to take it just like if Momma Janet gave it."
Bast nodded with a grin. "Yeah; that means we get to toss our bosses in the pool whenever they get too serious."
"Nuhh uhh!" Cory giggled.
"Actually I like that idea..." Teri chuckled, somehow managing not to be disintegrated by the glares from her non-furry sons. "Or.... if you would prefer... tongue baths... in public." she added as she walked over and put Kyle on Sean's shoulders.
"You guys are on break, so stop worrying about things and have fun. Yell if you need anything." Teri stated as she motioned for Bruce to join her as she left the room.
Once the adults were gone, Sean tickled behind Kyle's kneecaps. "Okay, Bro... any requests for movies?" he asked the giggling munchkin sitting half on his shoulders and half on the back of his chair.
"How's about JJ's theme movie, Terminator 2?" Kyle giggled.
"Sure, we can follow it with your theme movie, Shrek!" JJ shot back with a giggle.
"Hey, just because I like the movie don't mean I wanna be an ogre!" Kyle said as he braced himself on Sean's head to keep from falling off from his giggles.
"Terminator 2 followed by Shrek, got it!" Adam laughed as he keyed up the two movies.
The boys settled in, occasionally poking fun at JJ because of the similarities between him and the Terminator, and making comments about the cuteness factor of John Connor. As the first movie's credits started rolling, JJ stood up. "I'll be bahck" he stated in a very bad impersonation, then headed for the restroom.
Tyler had decided to take up residence on Cory's shoulders sometime during the movie, and poked Kyle, who was still comfortably perched on Sean. "You've got a weird brother, you know that?" Tyler giggled.
Kyle nodded. "He's good weird though!"
As JJ came back into the room, Cory turned to him with a grin. "Hey bro, Arnie called. He's gonna call back tomorrow. He needs some pointers on how to take out some bad guys in the next movie!"
JJ blew on his nails then polished them on his shirt. "When you're good, you're good... and then there's awesome like me!" he giggled.
"A little conceited ain't we?" Mont chuckled.
"Nope; conceit is a fault, and I have no faults so I can't be conceited!" JJ replied.
"I'm glad we're on some shoulders, the poop is getting deep in here!" Ty laughed.
Bast almost fell over in laughter as Jeremy, safely cuddled against his side, began singing "Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble..."
"Sit down before your swelled head takes out a wall, Babe!" Adam giggled. "We got a movie to watch!"
"I swear, the great get NO respect around here!" JJ play-whined as he plopped down on Adam's lap. "Cuddle me, everyone's pickin on me." he giggled.
Kai rolled his eyes as he tried to keep Fife from falling off of his lap in laughter. "Bruz, you're ALLnuttier than the fallout from a coconut tree!"
"Guilty!" Sean, Cory, Tyler, and Kyle all exclaimed in unison, which caused them all to fall into another fit of giggles.
"Starting the movie now, guys...." Adam laughed, fully aware that this would go on forever if nobody said anything.
"Spoilsport!" Tyler giggled as he stuck his tongue out at Adam.
Adam just grinned and nodded as the second movie started. The room somewhat calmed down as they began to pay attention to the screen. Before long, the comments started about ogres, and then donkeys. Fife was unique in the group, as he had never saw the movie. As such, the boys had no issue replaying parts of it multiple times, especially since most of the parts he wanted repeated were some of the funniest parts of the plot.
As Shrek finished, Teri stuck her head into the room. "Oh, you are alive! I thought you had all drifted off to another universe. The refrigerator hasn't been raided for hours! I've got a small snack on the table if any of you are interested!"
Teri barely managed to evacuate the doorway as the room emptied in record time. She followed the horde into the dining room, her smile growing as she found them ravenously attacking the homemade pizza that she had set out. She silently swelled with pride as her boys once again ensured that Fife's section of the pizza was left for him.
"Mom, this tastes awesome!" Cory announced in between taking bites out of the pieces that he held in each hand.
"Thanks Mom!" Tyler said as he reached for another slice, his first one vanishing faster than a Mikyvis transport.
"Thank you Cory, and you're welcome, Ty." Teri replied as she carefully watched for an opening where her hand would not be mistaken for a slice of pizza. She saw a break, and quickly grabbed two pieces for herself. Bruce had played it safe and retrieved his share before the natives arrived, and was now watching in shock as his two little angels did very good impressions of pizza piranhas, holding their own quite well against the larger kids.
Fifteen minutes later, there was no indication that the pizzas had ever existed; JJ had went so far as to lick a stray streak of sauce off of the pan in front of him. The satisfied smiles on all of the kid's faces was all the thanks Teri needed; despite various events over the weekend, her boys had finally let go and released their inner kid once again. As the boys quickly began cleaning up, Teri motioned for Tyler and Kyle to join her.
"Wazzup Mom?" Tyler asked as they followed Teri into her office.
Teri phrased her response carefully, not wanting to ruin the two boys' evening. "I had a good call while you guys were enjoying the movie. Logan was wanting to know how you two were doing."
The two boys took a seat in one of the chairs. "What did you tell him?" Kyle asked.
"I told him that I finally got to see my favorite 'Shoulder Pirate' for the first time in months." Teri replied, which brought smiles to both boys' faces.
Tyler was still grinning as he asked "Why is he worried about us?"
Teri smiled as she looked at her two angels. "Actually, he's hoping that you two are getting time to just be yourselves. I let him know that you were, and he wanted to know if you'd like some tips; he said you'd know why he's asking."
Kyle tilted his head. "I didn't wanna ask him; that stuff is private. He really wants to help us out?"
"I think so; that's what it sounded like. It is up to you, he said, and he's willing to come over if you want to have a talk without being interrupted." Teri said, her eyes saying that she knew more than she would say.
Kyle grinned. "You're not 'posed to figure that stuff out, Mom!" He then turned to Ty. "What you think?"
Tyler nodded. "Sure! You better hide all the BBQ sauce though, Mom!"
"I don't buy his favorite brand for just that reason..." Teri chuckled; "Janet and I know a lot more than you guys give us credit for."
"But we know more about what you think you know about us than you think that we know about what you think!" Tyler replied with a giggle.
"Yeah, if we gave you credit for what we know that you knew then you'd know we know; but you don't know what we know you know so you can't know all there is to know about us." Kyle added with is own huge grin.
"With all the circular logic going on here, it's almost like you're trying to describe Cory's Family tree." Logan Hayes said with a grin from behind them.
"What took you so long to say something, you've been standing there for 734.8953 nanoseconds!" Kyle giggled without turning around.
"I had to wait for you two big mouths to actually take a break." Logan said with a chuckle as he walked around and gave Teri a hug. "Hi mama Teri."
"Hello Logan; after that comment about Cory's family tree I hope these two have fun twisting your head around!" Teri said with a smile as she returned the hug. "I'll leave the three of you alone in here; it's safer for everyone's sanity that way!"
"But Mom, we wouldn't do anything...." Tyler and Kyle chorused as halos appeared above all three boy's heads.
"Now I KNOW it's not safe; you gave Logan a halo!" Teri laughed as she made her way to the door. "Just come out after you're done reformatting reality!"
"Just so you know Mama Teri... I'm severely wounded by your statement. They re-form the future, I re-form the past. Reality is just so boring to play with."
"There's no such thing as reality, it's an illusion that people use because they can't handle the universe as it stands." Kyle added, trying to keep a serious face.
"You know; the scary part is that you might be right, Kyle!" Teri said as she reached for the doorknob.
Logan watched as Teri left the room, then sat down in a chair, nodding for the two younger boys to do the same. With a tired sigh, he managed to smile at both boys. "It's good to see you two both being kids again. I've been waiting for that to happen."
Kyle and Tyler made a show of looking down the front of each other's shorts, both giggling. "Yep, looks the same, he's still a kid!" Tyler quipped as Kyle nodded his head in agreement.
"So whatcha wanna talk about?" Kyle giggled as he saw Logan roll his eyes. "Ya need us to teach ya tic-tac-toe?"
Logan sniggered softly while shaking his head. "You know the difference between maturity and being a curmudgeon? Maturity means you know when to act like a kid and when not to, a curmudgeon looses the ability to be a kid."
"Like Adam?" Kyle asked, his expression showing that he wasn't completely being serious. "I think no maturity is more fun; it makes surfing lessons a lot betterer!"
Logan laughed, but shook his head. "You've missed my point. You're both kids with more power than most of us can imagine, but you can't afford to lose yourself to that power. That's where the maturity comes in. It tells you when to be a kid and when not to. They say that absolute power corrupts absolutely, but that's not always true."
"Yeah, that's why I hung up my Superman cape." Kyle said with a smile. "Besides, Ty says it was hiding my butt from him!"
"That's only when it was all you were wearing!" Ty giggled.
Logan let his head fall onto the table with a bang. he lifted it again, and let it fall once more. All the while he muttered, "Dear Lord, please give me the patience to deal with your discards."
"Will this help?" Tyler asked as a padded mat imprinted with a target and the words 'In case of emergency, bang head here' appeared on the table between bounces of Logan's head.
"You're not helping...." Logan murmured.
Logan sat back and looked at both boys, the smile on his face almost a mile wide. "Basically, I came here to try to help you guys learn some of the lessons I learned... learned the hard way."
"You mean things like not using the three alarm BBQ sauce as lube?" Kyle asked innocently.
"No..." Logan said seriously. "I would never defile the nectar of the Gods in such a way. I was more meaning learning when to act, and when not to." Logan grew very serious as he leaned forward. "Trust me... I have learned from experience. I've fucked up more times than you guys probably want to know about."
"I know that look..." Tyler commented, "He's going 'big brother' on us and is going to teach us stuff."
"If he's gonna be big brother, does that mean we get to pounce him if he gets too serious?" Kyle asked.
"Yep. that's our job as little brothers!" Tyler replied with a grin. "It's good to be Kid!"
Choosing to ignore the comment, Logan simply shook his head and began talking with a smile. "Look guys, I know that both of you are far from stupid, but I also know that you're just coming into your powers so to say. I've had mine for as long as I can remember, and started playing early. I'm no where even close to being on the same plane as you guys are, but some of the things I learned, and learned the hard way, may help you guys out in the future, okay?"
Kyle giggled. "We're listenin', but you're gonna have fun tellin' us 'bout it even if you don't wanna."
Logan shook his head sadly. "Sorry guys, some of the stuff I'm gonna talk to you about ain't funny. some of it is though."
"You can still have fun without being funny." Tyler answered sagely. "Just watch Sean telling a joke!"
Logan sighed and shook his head, although he couldn't stop the grin that appeared on his face. "I'll be sure to NOT tell him you said that."
"Why not, it's the truth... just ask Mom!" Tyler giggled.
"Anyways..." Logan said trying, in vain, to get them back on track. "I guess I'll start on the biggest thing, and probably the hardest thing to learn. When to NOT get involved, even though every fiber of your being is telling you to."
"You mean like the time I messed up an entire planet's war because they got me mad?" Kyle asked, surprisingly seriously.
"On one side, the entire U.S. Army with arms that look like they dated back to the Great War; on the other side, one Federation starship and crew," Tyler giggled. "Guess who wins?"
"Yeah, something like that." Logan said seriously. "As I said, you guys can do things far and above what I can, which is why I wanted to talk to you guys as soon as you were ready."
"The main thing i can tell you guys is to let your heart guide you, but it's gotta be tempered by your mind. Both of you are big hearted kids who never want to let anyone suffer, but remember what Timmy said, 'Sometimes bad things have to happen, so good things can.' If you guys would allow me to, I'd like to show you a few times where I did what I though would be the best thing, would help the most people. Sadly I was wrong, and a whole lot more people got hurt and died than if I'd done nothing at all."
"Hey, a Field Trip!" Tyler giggled. "Did Mom sign the permission slips for us to go?"
"Nope... I forged her signature." Logan said with a grin as he opened up his mind and allowed the other two to join him in his mental scape.
"What? No cookies? I always have cookies for people when they visit in my head!" Kyle play-pouted as him and Tyler plopped down in a soft-looking chair.
Logan simply grinned, then suddenly it was raining cookies, until the two were hurried up to their chests in them. "Ask and ye shall receive."
"That's enough for us; what are you gonna snack on?" Tyler giggled as he grabbed two handfuls of cookies.
Logan held out his hand, and a bottle of BBQ sauce appeared in it. "This'll do me." he grinned as he dipped a cookie in it.
"Well..." Logan said as he brought them all back to where they started in his mental scape. "I think you guys understand what I'm talking about now. It's not always bad to get involved, but the hard part is figuring out how much to get involved. Right?"
Kyle nodded. "I think I understand better now what Cory was trying to tell me about doing short-term good and messing up long-term stuff."
"Exactly." Logan paused as he ran his hand through his long blond hair. "I really want to make sure that you guys never have to feel the way I do. I mean you saw what happened, I'm no better than a war criminal. Because of my arrogance, I didn't take what I was doing serious enough. I mean hell... It makes me feel like I'm a third world dictator who went into a village and killed every man woman and child, just on the hopes of getting one spy. I've always done what I though I had to, and I have no guilt about honest mistakes; even if I do feel bad about them. But you should never act without truly understanding what the possible consequences are."
"Is that why you showed us the things where you shoulda done stuff but didn't, too? So we wouldn't be stupid and not do stuff that we needta do?" Tyler asked curiously.
"Exactly. That’s the hard part of the responsibility that you guys have, simply by being what you are. You have to ask yourself, every time, what would be worse, to act, or to not act." Logan said seriously.
Kyle leaned over and grabbed another handful of cookies from the rapidly vanishing pile. "Thanks Logan; it helps a lot being showed this stuff by someone that's made goofs and isn't afraid to show other people what happened so that they'll not goof up as much."
Logan smiled and nodded. "There's no reason to not show you. No matter what I've done, if it helps you guys not screw up like I did a few times, then my job is done here." Grinning, they all exited out of his mental scape only to find a huge plate of cookies sitting on the table in front of them.
"Somebody loves us!" Kyle giggled as he reached out and grabbed a cookie from the plate. Kyle quickly looked around the room, and immediately spotted who was responsible for the cookie plate. "LEVIS!!" he exclaimed loudly as he jumped out of his chair and ran over, pulling his Ferox brother into a hug that would have made a mere human wince in agony. "I've missed you! You doing okay now? What you been doin', bro?"
Levis shook his head with a grin, and began trying to answer Kyle's questions as fast as they were being delivered.
Miah, who had wisely decided to stay a safe distance from Levis, grinned. "I see that being the leader of a species hasn't had any ill effects on your personality, Kyle."
Tyler walked over and put an arm around Miah. "It has, but we're fixin' that." he said seriously. "How are YOU doin'?
Miah looked at Tyler in wonder. "I'm okay, why are you worried about me?"
Tyler smiled. "I know what it's like being the husband of someone Fate decided to use as it's tool. Whatever's going on in the Universes, you and I are just as caught up in it as our husbands are; and we both feel the effects of what they get caught up in."
Miah nodded. "You sound just like Xanus; she had a really long talk with Levis and I about a few things that happened since we met Kyle. Things like the fact that Kyle was not far off when he called Levis his brother. She said that Kyle's direct line of ancestors were actually the ones who provided the genetic material that was modified to make her."
Tyler looked over to where Logan, Kyle, and Levis were deep into a conversation about the effects of manipulating circumstances to achieve desired results. "So you're sayin' that they're kinda brothers; just seventy thousand years or so apart?"
Miah nodded. "More or less, I'd have to look up the exact figures. Do you mind if I see how you're doing, since Kyle's obviously occupied?"
Tyler giggled, eying the bag slung over Miah's shoulder. "I knew you were gonna ask that, and I didn't even have to use my 'mighty Mikyvis powers' to figure it out! Go for it; I'm kinda curious to see if we've stopped changing into what we're 'posed to be."
Miah smiled as he began checking Tyler's changes. After a few seconds of thought and some note taking, he nodded. "It appears the changes to your bodies have stabilized. Did you consciously change your eyes to purple, or is that a genetic change?"
"They just changed by themselves." Tyler replied, quite comfortable with the sharing of information with Miah. "I can change them back or to any other color if I want to, but Timmy thinks that they are kewl, so I leave them purple to keep him happy."
"I can understand that, Timmy is addictive." Miah laughed. "I've managed to keep up with you guy's sons whenever they are in the home universe. I'm actually impressed at how fast each of them has found their niche; each of them are teaching the others and they are integrating themselves into life with humanity a lot faster than I anticipated. I actually managed to catch Dylan before we came over here; I'm looking forward to seeing the look on Xanus' face when she hears just how much work he's put into helping improve human's mood with music without causing inconsistencies in the space-time continuum."
Tyler grinned. "I'm still trying to really understand what all he's done myself; all I know for sure is that he's happy and has made himself a place where he and his cousins can help make people happy."
"That is the unusual part." Miah stated. "He didn't snap his fingers and give his cousins the ability to become a band. He told me about the process he went through; while he used his skills to make sure each of his cousins were able to learn from the person best suited to their musical style and interests, they had to learn just like anyone else. You haven't seen it, but he's actually took some lessons himself after watching how much his cousins enjoyed it. I know that you guys can't see it since you are part of it, but watching from the outside it is amazing to see just how well you and your kids have integrated with the Clan."
Tyler smiled, actually blushing slightly. "Thanks!"
Miah quickly jotted down another note. "Interesting..." he murmured.
"What's that?" Tyler asked as he tried to sneak a peek at the notes.
"No fair looking at the notes so that you can prove me wrong!" Miah said with a smile. "I know all about the sense of humor both you and Kyle have! What I found interesting is that when you blush, it's not just a visual phenomenon; your actual energy signature changes. It is quite similar to a normal human's blush in that your thermal emissions increase. It is not a normal trait for energy beings, it is something unique to your race and is quite human-like in its manifestation."
"So we blush like our brothers?" Tyler asked, trying to simplify what he heard.
"Yes, you blush just like any Human does." Miah replied. "I should have noticed this before...."
Tyler giggled. "You had more important things to worry about, namely Levis. I'll update you on one of your notes... we can sleep like our brothers again, real sleep with dreams and everything."
Miah's eyes sparkled with interest. "Really? How did that happen?"
"Ask Ezzy, I just asked him to come in here." Tyler replied.
As the words left Tyler's mouth, Ezra opened the door and walked into the room. "Wazzup, Pop?" he asked as he came up to Tyler and gave him a hug.
"Your Uncle Miah has a few questions for you." Tyler giggled. "Ezzy, this is Miah; Miah, this is your newest nephew, Ezra."
Miah grinned. "A new Mikyvis to study? Thank you, Tyler! It's nice to meet you, Ezra. How old are you?"
Ezra grinned. "Almost a day, Uncle Miah... if you're counting Alpha Prime time only. Is that Uncle Levis over there with Dad and Uncle Logan having a dimensional geek conference?"
"I heard that, Ezra!" Logan stated loudly. "Watch it, or I'll sic the Chipmunks on you!"
"Promise?" Ezra shot back. "I think it'd be fun!"
"Note to self, investigate the possibility of a sense of humor being passed genetically...." Miah muttered as he jotted a note on his pad. "What can you tell me about this sleeping change, Ezra?"
Ezra explained about the gift that Davey had given to his parents, then covered the circumstances that led to his birth and the purpose that he was given as his responsibility in the Mikyvis scheme of things. Once he was finished, and Miah had a second notebook almost filled, Ezra turned to Tyler. "That cover it, Pop?"
"Just about; you still need to get your check-up from Miah though." Tyler grinned. "I'll be over with Logan, Levis, and Kyle; y'all can join us when you are done."
"Thank you, Tyler; this should be an interesting checkup." Miah said with a grin. "Have a seat, Ezra."
Des Moines Division Headquarters:
"Now THAT was a party!" Julio gushed as the family walked into the house.
"I loved it!" Jesse added from his favorite spot... tucked securely under Julio's left arm.
Julio looked back at Mini, Alien, Lucas, and Logan; shaking his head with a grin. "You know guys, that looks sooooo wrong!" he giggled.
"What?" Mini replied innocently from his perch on Logan's back. "You try picking these guys up; they've been fed REALLY good!"
Lucas grinned from his perch on Alien's back. "Yeah," he replied in his soft voice, "we had fun with the weight guessers! They thought their scales were broke!"
Alien added his own two cents. "I'm gonna do this more often, it's a lot more fun than the weights I usually wear to simulate higher gravity when I work out. I'm liking having cute little brothers to carry around!"
Lucas had to adjust his grip quickly to keep from falling off as he reacted to Alien's words. Out of habit, he responded mentally, transmitting so that the entire room could hear. "Cute? But I'm a freak! I ain't normal! Did you just call me your little brother?"
Both Mini and Logan froze, each waiting to see just how this would play out. Logan knew just how fragile his twin's self esteem had become post-experiment, and silently hoped that Alien might be on the road to repairing it just a little. Mini, on the other hand, was feeling very protective of the brothers that had just been returned to him; at this point, if anyone hurt them in any way he was more than wiling to go off the deep end on them.
Alien made his way to a nearby chair, sat Lucas down, then turned around and picked him up again so that they were chest-to-chest. "Little brother, you are no more of a freak than me, Jesse, Cory, or anyone else around here. You are just you; nothing that has been done to you changes that. Sure there are things that you can do that I can't; but guess what? There are things that Julio can do that neither one of us can, and Robin can do things that none of us can do. My Mom told me once that the word 'normal' is a lie, every person is unique and nobody fits the definition of normal once you really know them. You two learned a lot from Mini before you were taken away; more than you realize. Logan is a lot like Mini's public face when he's trying to hide his insecurities; you're a lot like the Mini that only his closest friends and family ever get to see. Since we can all agree that Mini's not a freak, that means that neither you or Logan can be freaks since you're just like him."
Lucas locked eyes with Alien, his mind furiously trying to find holes in what he had just been told as he looked for any signs of deceit in Alien's eyes. As the spark of hope began to glow in Lucas' heart, Alien continued.
"You guys are my little brothers because I want you to be. It don't matter who you are related to, I love you guys as brothers because of what makes you guys you. As soon as you guys walked into the room, I felt the warm glow in my heart that told me that you were family. It's a different love than what I feel for Mini, but it's just as strong now that I've had a little time to get to know you guys. You can protect all of our bodies all day, little brother, but it's my job to protect the little boy that you still are and make sure that he's allowed to grow without anyone messing him up. When we're working, you're an awesome soldier; when we're at home with just family, you're my little brother and I'm gonna make sure that you get the time to BE a little brother."
The spark in Lucas' heart took hold, and quickly became a roaring fire. Mini's acceptance of them, while questionable in their minds before reuniting with him, strengthened their bond with him but didn't really affect their feelings of self-worth. Even the acceptance into the family had little effect, since they were already Mini's brothers. This was totally different; this was someone that was special to their brother going out of his way to accept them as themselves, not as the little brothers of his boyfriend. "Do you really love me?" Lucas whispered, his eyes communicating his need to hear the answer to be sure.
Alien caught the need expressed by Lucas' tone, and made sure that he was very clear. "Lucas, I love you. You're my little brother, and nothing will ever change that."
For the first time in years, with someone not related by blood, Lucas let his shield down totally and allowed his inner self into public view. His voice almost squeaked as he replied "I love you too, Alien." before breaking eye contact and burying his face in Alien's shoulder. Years of pent-up tears were released as Lucas let Alien comfort him.
As Alien had been talking, Mini had climbed down from Logan and was now standing behind him with his arms wrapped around Logan's chest. "Do you wa...?" Mini started to ask.
"No; this is his private time; I'm not going to ruin it." Logan interrupted. "I do feel like some Spence cuddles though. I heard Alien include me in that; I'll get my time with him later."
Mini smiled as he came off to Logan's side and took his hand. "Let's go find us a cuddle chair."
Logan nodded his head with a small smile; while not ready to lower his personal shields just yet, he was fully aware that the time would come soon. For now, he was more than happy to allow Mini the special access to the inner Logan that only he was allowed to see.
Assured that a fight was not about to break out, Julio and Jesse quickly motioned for all of the adults and kids to move into the Command Center to allow the four boys some privacy. Julio's eyes grew wide as he found all the console seats occupied by volunteer parents from throughout the Compound. "Mr Douglas? How did y'all get trained to operate this stuff? I haven't even had time to train my guys!"
Shawn Douglas turned in his chair, shifting his attention from supervising the console operators to Julio. "Hello Julio! I hope you guys enjoyed the party; it looked like fun from here. We all decided that there was no way that we'd allow some of the kids to miss the party because they were stuck here. I talked with Lieutenant Patrick over at Security Headquarters; with the assistance of Daileass he was able to get some of us with prior military experience doing these kind of things up to speed on the equipment that you have here. When this neighborhood was set up, we all pledged to work together to make it work; now that it's officially a Clan Division, us parents are going to step it up to make sure that you have support from ALL of the occupants of the Compound."
Julio thought for a second about what he had just heard, and considered how he thought Cory would react. Once his own thoughts were solidified, he replied to Shawn. "Mr. Douglas, I think that you might have just helped me with something that I was having trouble figuring out. I know there are a few kids who want to help out by working in CIC, but I know that I don't have enough volunteers to staff it all the time without them basically living in this room. I know that this was kinda thought of as a one-time thing, but would you be interested in taking charge of staffing CIC?"
Shawn smiled. "You just saved me from having to figure out how to suggest it to you without seeming like an adult trying to take control. You have a lot of really important things that you're responsible for; it's a very smart decision to delegate day-to-day staffing concerns to someone. I spent twenty-five years as a communications officer in the Air Force and have not had a good use of my training until now; I would be honored to help out by making sure that the kids and adults who are interested in staffing CIC get trained and placed where their skills are best used."
Julio stepped forward, and after sealing the deal by shaking hands he tapped his subvocal. "Daileass, what was Shawn's military clearance?"
Daileass giggled. "I knew you were gonna ask that! His highest clearance was 'TS2 Eyes Only'."
"Thanks, I guess the boring lecture about security won't be needed!" Julio giggled. "He's now in charge of CIC staffing, you're authorized to give him whatever support he needs. If there is anything that you're not sure of, just ask me. If Adam and him decide that reactivating his commission would assist in his ability to do what is needed, you've got my okay."
Daileass sniggered over the com. "What do you say Shawn, do you want to be re-activated?"
"If it will help to keep me from having to annoy Julio with day to day business, I'll do it in a heartbeat."
"Okay, then I will give you two choices. You can either be reactivated in the US Air Force at the rank of Colonel, or you can be activated in the UNIT forces at the rank of General." Daileass replied in a sweet, singsong voice.
As Julio tried hard to hide his giggles, Shawn asked "What is the difference? And why a General; I'm not tested out to be that rank!"
"Well here's the thing. Being reactivated with in the US Military will restrict your access to certain things, however, that will not impact your job here. If you're interesting in joining the UNIT military, you'll have to have the rank of General with full access to all but the very top level of security. It will mean a short stint of training that will take about three months on the training planet, and about fifteen minutes on Earth. That's simply because there are certain things that all UNIT officers must have training in." Daileass's voice was now rather serious.
"As far as 'testing out'... we run things differently here. You tested out when you spent six hours running CIC. It's just the way we roll."
Shawn looked over at Julio, who was having a hard time with not breaking out into laughter. "I'm not going to do my job halfway; when I say I'm doing something, I plan on doing it right the first time. When do I need to be ready for my training?"
"Is now too soon?" Daileass asked with a giggle. "We don't fart around here."
"Vance? You want to take the hot seat for a few minutes?" Shawn asked the twenty-six year old sitting at the secondary communication terminal.
"I've got it, Mr. Douglas." Vance replied as he reached out and adjusted his console. "You're relieved, Sir."
"Okay Shawn, stand on one foot, wiggle your nose, and you'll be off." Daileass said with a giggle. "Oh and Vance, you're next on my list...."
"Nice try, kiddo..." Shawn said with a laugh. "I'm not a Jarhead, gullible is not part of my job description." he added just before he vanished.
Front Gate, Des Moines compound:
Captain Hamilton looked up from his post at the entrance to the Clan Short Des Moines Division, and saw a twelve or thirteen year old boy riding his skateboard towards him. He was not really sure why, but the hair on the back of his neck stood up when he saw this boy. Knowing better than to disregard his instincts, Captain Hamilton stepped out of the booth to greet the boy, hand resting comfortably near the phaser he wore on his side. "Can I help you son?"
The kid stopped and looked the uniformed man up and down for a second, before flipping his longish blond hair up out of his eyes. "Maybe. Can you let me talk to one of the Clan guys?"
The man looked the boy in his soft blue eyes, and knew, deep down that something was wrong here. "Sure, can you tell me who you are, and how old you are."
The boy gave a half smile that never made it to his eyes, and shrugged. "Name's Garrett Tyce, and I'm twelve."
Hamilton nodded and gave the boy a gentle smile. "Just give me a second, and I'll get someone down here." Stepping back into the guard shack, the Captain picked up the radio and pressed the transmit button all the while keeping an eye on the boy. "Front Gate to HQ." He said and waited for the reply.
"HQ... go." Vance said from the other end of the radio.
"I have a twelve year old... Garrett Tyce down here asking to speak to someone in the Clan. Is anyone available?"
"Right now most of them are trying to recover from a laughing fit, but I think I can find someone who isn't holding their stomach in agony." Vance replied with a chuckle. "Someone will be right there."
"Copy that." Hamilton said then put the microphone down. He reached under the desk, and grabbed a couple of sodas from the small refrigerator there. When he stepped back out of the booth, he looked to the boy and smiled. "Someone'll be down in a minute or two. You want a soda while we wait."
The bright smile that came from Garrett radiated out, and the man couldn't help but grin himself. Garrett took the soda, popped the top and drank about half of it in one go. "Thanks mister... I needed that."
"No problem. Do you need anything while we wait?" Hamilton asked, knowing that it's best not to get into why someone is there until someone from the Clan was there as well. Garrett just shook his head, then took another sip of his soda.
Five minutes later, Hamilton looked up at the sound of a golf cart coming down the street towards them. The man couldn't help but smile as he recognized the boy driving. "Well, you're in luck." He said as he glanced over to Garrett. "That's Tracy, though he prefers to be called Alien. He's part of the Clan leadership around here."
Garrett didn't respond, just smiled towards the Captain and waited for Alien to get there. When the cart came to stop in front of the pair, Alien jumped out and walked right up to Garrett. Sticking his hand out he spoke. "Hey I'm Alien. I hear you wanted to talk to someone in the Clan?"
Garrett nodded, looking suddenly nervous. "Yeah...." He trailed off, and Alien's smile faded.
"Hey. You don't have to be nervous. I'm hear to help if you need it."
Garrett's soft blue eyes met Alien's, and for a moment he seemed to be weighing the boy in front of him. Alien had no problem meeting the slightly older boy's eyes, and waited for him to come to a point where he could talk. Finally after a long moment of silence, Garrett's eyes fell to the ground. A moment later he reached into his pocket and started to talk. "I guess I better start by giving you this." With a look towards Captain Hamilton, he pulled a Glock nine millimeter pistol out of his pocket. The way he held it by the grip with two fingers told Hamilton that the boy wasn't going to use it, still his right hand went to his phaser, releasing the strap on it, so he could draw it quickly if he needed to.
Garrett took a long look at the pistol then held it out to the Captain, who carefully took it in his hand, then set it inside the guard shack. All the time this was happening, Alien just stood there waiting to see what Garrett was going to do. When Garrett met Alien's eyes, there were tears threatening to fall from them. "I live at 309 Elmhurst Drive. Inside you'll find my father, dead, in the upstairs hallway. I... I shot him."
Hamilton gasped at the words, but Alien just took a step forward and pulled the boy into a hug. "Why?" He asked quietly into the boy's ear.
"I... I didn't want him to... do it to me again." Garrett said in a small voice, but still loud enough for Hamilton to hear. When Alien nodded to Captain Hamilton, he stepped back into the guard shack, switched his radio frequency to the tactical channel, depressed the transmit button and spoke softly into it. "Guard Shack to on call strike team."
"Captain Hayes on, Strike Team Tango on stand by." Came the professional response back.
"Alien requests an investigation at 309 Elmhurst Drive. One possible casualty on site, the father of a twelve year old boy who is at the front gate. Youth is a possible rape victim."
"Understood." Was the clipped response, but Hamilton knew the boys well enough to know that Captain Hayes had a fire in his eyes, and was all business now.
Alien nodded his thanks, then placed a hand on Garret's shoulder. "C'mon; you and I have an appointment with my little brother for a long talk."
Garrett nodded his head, fully aware that he was now past the point of no return. He allowed Alien to escort him to the cart, and sat in the seat with his head hung low as they made their way to CIC. As they made their way through the streets, Alien used his subvocal to silently contact Vance. Vance, this is Alien. Contact the State Prosecutor, give him my apologies but I need him to be on-site within the next five minutes. You are authorized to use Daileass for transport."
"Understood." Vance replied, the tone that Alien spoke in telling him that this was a serious situation.
As they were nearing their destination, Alien's communicator went off. "Alien, this is Captain Hayes."
"What did you find, Victor?" Alien responded, immediately switching to the protocol Colin taught him by using the Captain's first name, avoiding confusion over which Captain Hayes he was referring to.
"Urbandale PD were on site and had secured the premises. Based on our information, a complete search of the premises discovered materials and stained clothing which backs up the allegations. Due to the nature of the crime and the order of events, they have requested this be left open as a joint investigation pending release of whatever information you obtain."
Alien considered what wasn't said as he replied. "You have a go for joint operations, Victor. Inform your contact that I will update them within the hour on status."
"Understood; joint operation commencing immediately." Victor replied, his tone telling Alien that he'd just made the right decision. "Captain Hayes out."
"What's gonna happen now?" Garrett asked weakly as Alien put his communicator away and brought the cart to a stop.
"We're going to give you a chance to show us exactly what happened." Alien replied in a caring tone. "After that, I guess we're about to find out just how willing the judicial system is to work with us. You're in a spot that makes the outcome anyone's guess right now."
"Thanks for being honest." Garrett replied. "At least you guys are gonna try."
Alien smiled and gave a nod back, not speaking due to a man in jeans and a tee-shirt appearing on the sidewalk next to them. He motioned for Garrett to join him, then he stepped out of the cart and greeted the newcomer. "Hello. I'm Alien Busch, Clan Short Security."
"Guy Folsom, State Prosecutor's office." the thirty-ish man replied as he stuck out his hand. "I understand that I was needed here?"
Alien nodded. "Yes, we have a situation which needs to be resolved between us before the news media gets wind of it. If you'll follow us inside, we can get started."
Guy smiled, his face reflecting his genuine approval of this new procedure. "Thank you for involving us; it makes things a lot easier when the press does not get a chance to pre-judge what occurred during a crime."
Alien sensed Garret's nervousness as he joined them, and placed an arm over Garret's shoulder. "Let's get this over with; that way all of us can sleep tonight." he said with a smile. "If you wouldn't mind following me, Mr. Folsom?"
"Just call me Guy; we're working together." Guy replied. "Lead the way."
Alien guided Garrett into the CIC main entry, Guy following directly behind him. In the main foyer, Lucas was waiting for them, and motioned them to follow him into the conference room off to the side. Once they were in the room, Colin closed the door behind them and joined them as they found seats at the table.
Once everyone was seated, Alien began. "Guy, for your benefit, I am going to initially keep things vague to help you keep the facts separated from initial speculation." He pointed out each person as he introduced them. "The people here with us are Lieutenant Colin Busch, Clan Short Special Forces; Lieutenant Lucas Busch, Clan Short Special Forces, and Garrett Tyce. Garrett is the defendant in this situation. What I need to say next will depend on the answers to my first two questions. Garrett, are you willing to submit to an official full telepathic scan to determine the exact chain of events which led to your arrival here today? And Guy, are you willing to accept as de-facto evidence the results of the scans by two certified Clan telepaths to determine the State's course of action on the events which led to our requesting your presence? You will have the choice of a verbal or a telepathic summary right now, with a full transcript provided at your request if needed."
"Yes." Garrett stated firmly, realizing now just what Alien was doing.
Guy nodded his head. "I accept your proposal. I understand the lack of details now as well; it is the same reason that we dismiss jurors who have formed opinions based on news reports."
Alien smiled. "We're ready to begin then. Colin, would you take first reading please?"
Colin nodded as he closed his eyes. A minute later, he opened them and signaled to Lucas to begin. Once Lucas was done, he quietly stated "Ready, bro."
Alien cleared his mind. "Okay guys, let me see it."
As he received the readings from the two telepaths, you could visibly tell by the flush of his skin just how angry it was making Alien. Once both scans were transferred, Alien looked at Garrett. "I wish you'd came to us first." he stated, his tone suggesting that he had a personal idea of how the situation would have been resolved. Alien then turned to Guy. Before we discuss this, how would you like to view the evidence?"
Guy thought for a moment, then replied. "Going by your response, I believe that there are a few things that would be detrimental to the defendant's well being to have to listen to verbally. I will accept a telepathic transfer."
"If you require assistance with placing this information somewhere in your memories that it won't affect your normal life once you've reviewed it, just ask and I will help you." Colin stated. "I would recommend at the minimum a summary for your records once we're done today."
"Noted, and thank you." Guy replied. "I'm ready when you are."
The boys transferred the information to Guy. After turning the notepad that he was planning on using into a very tightly crumpled wad of cardboard and paper, Guy looked over at Alien. "I see the situation is unique. I believe we all know the details, so we can keep the discussion to generalities."
Alien nodded. "I have determined that Garrett Tyce has been subjected to continual non-consensual anal rape by his father from the time of his tenth birthday until yesterday at eleven PM. Today he obtained a pistol from an illegal source and proceeded to shoot his father upon his arrival from work. Due to the increasing frequency and roughness, I find the subjects belief that his life was possibly in danger to be a valid concern."
Guy took his cue from Alien's pause. "The State of Iowa agrees with the determination of Clan Short. Based on the evidence provided, it is the State's belief that justice will be best served by ceding jurisdiction to Clan Short for the rehabilitation of the Defendant. The State of Iowa hereby declines any motions to press charges against Garrett Tyce for the events of 31 October, 2004."
"Thank you." Alien replied. "As of this moment, Garrett Tyce is a Ward of Clan Short. Garrett, it is standard procedure within the Clan for a telepath or a Vulcan, depending on the situation, to assist those who have applied a death sentence with preventing damage to their mind from the experience. Due to what I know about the events, I am going to strongly recommend that you agree to a Vulcan Mind Meld to keep this from screwing up the rest of your life."
At Garrett's shocked expression, Guy explained. "There is a legal term for what you did, son. It is called Justifiable Homicide. While it does not make what you did right, it allows for the fact that what you did can be justified as an act which most of the population would do in the same situation. I would suggest that you follow Alien's advice; I know I am going to take advantage of Colin's offer to help me, and I wasn't the one who suffered."
Garrett turned his head to Alien, his emotions finally breaking loose after all he had just been through. Alien stood up, and caught Garrett as he tried to stand himself. Garrett fell into Alien's arms, sobbing loudly as he repeated "I killed him!"
Colin quickly keyed his communicator. "Daileass! Bro, I need a Vulcan, NOW!"
"S'pilash is here, I'll finish updating him and send him over." Daileass replied. "I kinda figured you'd need him."
Fifteen seconds later, S'pilash appeared next to Colin. Without a word, he strode over to the now incoherent Garrett and placed his hands on Garrett's temples, reaching around Alien's head to do it. "My mind to your mind..." he began.
The rest of the room was silent as they watched the Vulcan assist Garrett. after fifteen minutes of silence, S'pilash pulled his hands away and addressed the much calmer Garrett. "My apologies for my indiscretion in not receiving proper approval prior to providing assistance, Garrett. The state of your mind upon my arrival made it illogical to proceed immediately."
Garrett nodded his head. "It's okay. Doesn't it hurt you to remember the stuff that you walked through in my head? It's not hurting me no more, but I can still feel enough to tell me right from wrong."
"I am trained to perform the healing of the minds of multiple species. While I retain knowledge of the experiences that you suffered, I do not have the Human emotional ties to those experiences." He then turned to the rest of the group. "I find that your method of handling this situation was unique in it's logic. I find it to be a quite effective use of both judicial systems in harmony. I shall ensure that other Divisions are apprised of this option and shall recommend it's use whenever possible."
"Thank you for your assistance." Alien replied. "Will you be staying?"
"I must return to Utah. I have duties there which must be completed." S'pilash stated. "I shall accept your invitation on a future date, if that will be acceptable."
"That will be fine." Alien replied with a smile. "Live long and prosper." He added as he managed a reasonable first attempt at a Vulcan salute.
"Live long and prosper." S'pilash replied. A few seconds later, he vanished as Daileass returned him to what he had been doing previously.
Colin came over and gently moved Garrett from Alien's arms to a spot under his own arm. "Guy. if you would join myself and Garrett, I am going to introduce him to his new family. I believe our Director would also like to meet you while you are here."
Hearing the unspoken hint, Guy smiled. "I would love to do that. Lead the way, Sir."
Colin escorted the Division's latest addition out of the room, Guy following immediately behind him. As the door closed behind them, Alien took a seat against the wall and motioned for Lucas to join him. "I believe we've got a cuddle to finish, little bro." he said with a smile.
Lucas smiled, and without a word came over and curled up in Alien's arms. "I love you bro." Lucas whispered as he allowed his eyes to close.
"I love you too, lil' bro." Alien replied softly, the feeling of having his brother in his arms calming him immediately.
Five minutes later, Bob checked on his boys. His face broke into a smile as he saw the two sleeping boys, arms tightly intertwined with each other, both snoring softly. "Sleep well, Angels." he whispered as he quietly closed the door and returned to the rest of the group.