Portions contributed by ACFan, Akeentia, Darkstar & Roland
Special thanks to D & B and Ilúvantir for their help as well!
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Dedication: Throughout the course of writing this chapter, it was my intent to pay tribute to a television series and it's actors in which I hold a rather large amount of respect towards. Circumstances as they were in that time period, I was not able to watch in its entirety on the original air dates but, thanks to DVD and one generous person online filling in the gaps; I have now. Ironic as it may be, this plan was well before the passing of this series' leading actor; a man I do truly admire and respect. Some may be able to tell from this dedication which series I am speaking of, some may not. Either way, one portion of "Sentenced to Life" has always been planned to be introduced as my own personal "Hats Off"... Now even more so as a farewell, to those involved who are no longer with us in the creation of an idea that I believe had great merit as a concept; had it been given a better run.
"The twenty-first century. Mankind has colonized the last unexplored region on Earth, the Ocean. As Captain of the seaQuest and her Crew, we are its guardians. For beneath the surface, Lies The Future."
seaQuest DSV/2032 - September 12, 1993 to June 9, 1996
In loving memory...
Royce D. Applegate: December 25, 1939 - January 1, 2003
Jonathan Gregory Brandis: April 13, 1976 - November 12, 2003
Roy Richard Scheider: November 10, 1932 - February 10, 2008
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"Call on line four Lieutenant." The voice on the intercom startled the detective, who was enthralled with the case he was reviewing.
"Thanks Marge." Rich replied as he rubbed his eyes and picked up the phone. "Special Crimes Division, Murphy here."
"And where is he NOT supposed to be?" The voice on the other end asked sternly.
"Oh, Hi Sergeant." Rich sighed. "I swear I was just tying up the loose ends on the Foster case and I'm on Vacation."
"Rich, you were supposed to be on vacation after that McKensie case was closed. Now as your friend, I'm concerned that you are overworking yourself. You spend too many hours in that little office of yours and not nearly enough time at home where you are supposed to be."
"I will be, I just need..." Rich just barely got out before he was abruptly cut off.
"Go Home Rich. Go home before I have a physician remove you for your own good."
"Alright already." Rich said as he powered down his computer. "I'll leave my notes out because this case needs to be closed."
"I suppose you are the only person in the department who is able to close and file it, right?" The voice said with a laugh. "Say goodbye and leave the building. I'm on my way there now. If you are still anywhere in sight when I get there I'll see to it that we will all be visiting you in a hospital room. Do I make myself understood?"
"Okay! I'm leaving." Rich half laughed as he grabbed his briefcase. "I'll talk to you in two weeks." He said as a click on the other side told him he didn't want to hear any more. "Old Fart." He laughed as he opened the door and turned out the lights.
"Leaving Lieutenant?" His secretary asked with a smirk.
"Like you weren't in on that." He smiled in reply. "Yes, I was just ordered to leave and begin my vacation."
"It's about time." Marge laughed. "Enjoy yourself Rich."
Getting into his car was more of a relief than he expected. It's been two full months since he had taken a day off and now with the thoughts of two weeks at home becoming more of a reality, he smiled as he put his patrol car in gear and stepped on the gas. The fifteen minutes it normally takes for the drive was over before he even realized it. It gave him a smile as he watched a rather surprised looking thirteen year old on the front steps of the house break out in an ear to ear grin the moment he recognized the car.
"You're home?" The boy bounced up as Rich stepped out of the car and locked the door.
"You sound surprised." He smiled as the boy ran at full speed to wrap him in the tightest hug his small frame could muster.
"Well, yeah." He replied with a grin. "I figured it'd be late before you got home so I hadn't even thought about lunch yet."
"Screw it." Rich said as he melted into his boy's embrace. "We're both on vacation now. John, you wanna eat out?"
With a huge smile, John's blue eyes lit right up. "Really?"
"Yeah, really." Rich said as he sat down on the front steps. "I kinda feel like Italian, how bout you?"
"Mmmmm. Wanna hit Giovanni's?" John asked as he hugged Rich's arm when he sat down.
Rich sighed as he looked over at his excited young friend and smiled noting how cute the little blond looked in his backwards baseball cap, a tee shirt, cargo shorts and deck shoes. "Why go somewhere that we have to get dressed up better? I meant Italian, as in pizza and a coke."
"Sweet!" John almost sang. "How bout D'Amore's? We haven't been there in a long time."
"Hmmmm.... You thinkin what I'm thinkin there short stuff?" Rich smiled.
"PIZZA BIANCO!!!" The two both yelled as if they were reciting a battle cry, complete with fists in the air and smiles plastered on their faces.
"We have a plan." Rich laughed as he stood up and turned to go into the house. "Let me get out of uniform and we can hit the road then. Maybe a movie or something afterward too."
"Yeah." John said as he chased after Rich and began following him up the stairs after closing and locking the front door.
"Where you going? You're fine the way you're dressed." Rich said after he stopped in the middle of the staircase and halted the smaller ball of energy.
"Someone's gotta help you dress." He grinned. "Can't have you lookin like my dad today."
"Okay, but no funny stuff. We haven't gone out in a long time. I'm looking forward to this."
"No, we'll go along with your plans." The boy said with an evil grin. "Until we get home."
An afternoon out was just what the two needed to unwind after such a stressful couple of months. Stuffed with pizza, the two decided to simply drive around, in absolutely no rush to get home. "You wanna hit a movie or something?"
John took his hat off and ruffled his shaggy blond hair while at the same time, twisting his facial expression as if in thought. "Nah, there's nothing out that I really want to see; unless you have a movie you want to see."
"Not really, just a thought." Rich smiled.
"You wanna just take a ride out to the pier?" John asked with a smile.
"Haven't been there in a few years." Rich smiled. "You remember the first time we went there?"
"Duh." John giggled. "I had you so convinced I was gonna push you off into the water."
"Yeah, I STILL owe you for that." Rich laughed. "Don't forget, I have weight and size in my favor now."
"Oh please." John giggled. "That worked when you were like 20. Now old age is your problem."
"Really?" Rich shot back, raising his eyebrows. "Technically, you're only 10 years younger than I am. Besides, I'm in damn good shape."
"Psh... Yeah, for your AGE!" John laughed before getting a serious look on his face. "I wish I could still be your big brother sometimes."
"You are." Rich smiled as he turned the corner and continued to drive. "I wish you would stop over thinking stuff like that. If Dad were still alive, he'd be giving you the 'Flesh and Blood' speech you know."
"I miss him." John quietly said as he looked out the window. "Can we go see Mom and Dad instead?"
Rich nodded his head before turning into a nearby business to turn the car around. Back on the road, a warm smile crept into John's youthful expression; gaining Rich's attention. "Whatcha thinkin?"
"Android or not, that's my blood running through those veins of yours tiger. Don't you ever forget it." John said in the lowest voice he could muster. "It never mattered to him, or Mom."
"Or me." Rich added before pulling up in front of a florist's shop. "The usual?"
"Yeah, you get Mom's flowers and I'll run next door to get Dad's coffee and newspaper." John giggled before holding out his hand.
"Why is it I have to pay all the time?" Rich laughed as he pulled out his wallet.
"You got the better paying job." John laughed. "Besides, my allowance sucks. We need to have a talk about inflation and the cost of candy again."
"Oh god." Rich laughed. "Not again."
"Oh yeah." John giggled. "How can I be expected to survive without Ho-Hos? I mean, come on!"
"You're so lucky I love you." Rich laughed as he handed the boy a twenty. "Keep the change my good man."
"Works every time." John laughed as he rushed to get out of the car.
"You pay the dentist next visit then!" Rich shouted before watching as his friend sprinted off toward the nearby variety store. "And share some of that energy, will ya?" He laughed before locking the car and heading into the florist's.
About 15 minutes later, the two were rounding the last corner and slowly pulling into the gates to the cemetery. Without a word said, the two remained silent as the car rolled to a stop in front of a headstone with the name 'Murphy' eloquently etched into its surface. As if rehearsed, John grabbed the cup of coffee and newspaper he had bought while Rich opened the box he had picked up that contained one dozen roses and two groupings of blue Forget-me-nots.
"Hi Mom, Hi Dad." John said as he approached the headstone and placed the coffee and newspaper at its base. "Giants are taking a beating this year Dad." He continued with a grin as he watched Rich set the flowers next to the newspaper.
"Those are pretty." John said as Rich sat down and motioned for John to join him. Sitting down and using Rich's chest as a back rest, John sighed when Rich wrapped his arms around the boy's chest and gently gave a squeeze. "Do you ever wonder what they're doing now?"
"Nope." Rich replied. "I know they're up there keeping an eye on their two 'hooligan' sons." He continued with a chuckle.
"Yeah." John barely said as he stared off through the trees to the slowly setting sun. "I kinda wish I was really their son sometimes." He got out before quickly raising his hand. "Before you say it, I KNOW they felt that I was and biologically I am so don't argue. Being born and being created and activated are two different things. Doesn't matter how you look at it."
"You're the only one who looks at it any differently you know." Rich sighed.
"Not in the real world." John said as he snuggled into Rich's chest. "I'm sick of always playing 'The Son' when I was 'The Big Brother' and am in love with someone who the rest of the world consider sick because of it."
"Here we go." Rich said as he hugged the boy tighter as soon as a sniffle could be heard. "You are the cutest dork I ever saw." Rich whispered, earning more sniffles and a weak laugh from John.
"I remember the first time you ever said that." John said as he wiped his eyes with the back of his hands. "That was when I got jealous about you having a date for your freshman dance."
"You were going too and also had a date." Rich laughed. "She was a cutie too, Christine right?"
"Yeah." John grinned. "Who knew she was gonna turn out to be a total psycho."
"Oh, like my date was any better." Rich laughed. "Robin the 'I'm the hottest and don't you ever forget it' date from hell."
"I think it was the funniest when we found out that I was dating a girl and you ended out dating a M.A.R.C.I.E. Unit that was all about how awesome she was." John giggled with a sniffle. "It was a fun night overall until Robin decided to start that fight with Christine about who was more popular."
"Weird." Rich replied. "After having the argument before leaving the house, we ended out spending most of the night together anyway. I'm telling you, it's destiny."
"No." John grinned. "It just proves that we are not good at picking out sane girls."
"Doesn't matter, I ended out with the person I wanted to be with anyway." Rich said as he reached over and opened the coffee. "Stealing a sip Dad." He smiled.
"Hey, I didn't buy that for you." John protested. "I'm telling."
"Whatever dork." Rich laughed as he took a sip and put the cup back in its place. "Like he ever had a coffee all to himself."
"Yeah, that's true." John giggled as he reached for the cup. "Me too Dad." He laughed.
"Hey it was his own fault. He never let us have our own when we were kids, but it was okay for us to have a sip." Rich grinned.
"Yeah, then he had to make like four cups just to get one whole one for himself." John replied before he started laughing. "Remember when he gave us that long 'Coffee will stunt your growth...' speech?"
"Oh god yeah." Rich groaned. "You and him debated that for like three days."
"He even went as far to call Vision Industries to have one of the technicians give me a long BS story about how it would stain my teeth, cause that's all they could come up with for an argument." John said before getting quiet once again. "I wonder how many androids were lucky enough to get cool families like I did."
"Quite a few I'd imagine." Rich softly replied. "Did I tell you about the one we found out near Point Dume?"
"Yeah. The one who was listed as missing for years." John shook his head. "That poor guy."
"He's doing well from what I last heard." Rich smiled. "Would you like to meet him?"
"Serious?" John turned his head with his eyes wide. "Yeah! That'd be sweet."
"Cool, tomorrow morning I'll give them a call and see if they're up for some company." Rich said before looking at his watch. "We still have most of the day ahead of us; you want to hit the pier before we decide what we want to do for dinner?"
"Okay." John said as he got up and grinned before grabbing the coffee and taking another sip. "Thanks Dad." He giggled as he set the cup back down. As rich got to his feet, John blew a kiss to the grave site and with a tear in his eye whispered; "I love you guys." before feeling an arm wrap around his shoulders.
"Me too." Rich grinned. "Me too."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"You can get anything you want, at Alice's restaurant..." They sang as the car rolled down the freeway. "They still haven't opened that place back up, have they?" John asked as the car got silent.
"Nope." Rich grinned. "Maybe they refuse cause they know we'd be there singing."
"Oh god." John groaned. "You're the one who can't sing."
"No way, your voice cracks windows."
"Yeah, well your face cracks mirrors." Rich chuckled.
"Oh yeah, your face stops clocks!"
"I can't hear you." John said as he reached for the radio and quickly turned it on and up really loud to some news broadcast. "Music! I want music!" He whined and was about to turn the station before Rich grabbed his hand.
"Wait a minute." Rich said as the two listened.
"As I'm sure you are all aware, earlier this afternoon CPD, in conjunction with our local division of Clan Short of Vulcan, responded to what appeared to be an act of aggression in the state of Montana regarding the personal attack of a Montana, Campbell County police officer's family by a rather well known religious organization. What appeared to be a minor incident, at first report, has become a full out act of terrorism and has totally overwhelmed supporting entities. I don't appear to have an actual report regarding loss of life but I am prepared to state that many casualties have been reported. As of 1:27pm, S. Carolina officials have elevated police action at both the Clan Short outpost on Sullivan's Island as well as their newly founded medical facility at the former Charleston Naval Hospital...."
"Oh my god." Rich gasped as he grabbed his cell phone and started tapping away on it while John turned the radio down. "Marge, it's Rich. Yes I know I'm on vacation. No, I need you to do me a favor. Look, I just heard on the radio that the organization that helped us with that McKensie case is in the middle of some serious... Look, I need you to relay through local and state that this organization works in conjunction with us. Request that if at all possible, we wish to offer any assistance we can. No, I'm not coming in. I planned to visit their facility anyway so I'll be in South Carolina. Thanks Marge, call if you need anything." Rich got out as he grabbed his Patrol radio's mic and keyed it. "Dispatch, seven charlie fourteen, 10-10 is running code three, east bound Canan road to I101 north. Over."
"Seven Charlie Fourteen, 10-10 and code three. Acknowledged."
Rich quickly flipped on the lights and siren before leaning into the accelerator. "Looks like we're gonna be planning that trip sooner than later." He said as John turned the radio back on.
"Ladies and gentleman, I have just received information from our officials in Columbia. As of 1:32 pm, S. Carolina is cooperating under the flag of the planet Vulcan. State officials are to be dispatched to aid in maneuvers of local law enforcement. The National Guard has been placed under alert and will aid in securing our borders. This is the only information I am authorized to release at this time. Thank you for coming."
"That's not good." John said as the patrol car nearly leapt onto Interstate 101. "Are we gonna help?"
"We're gonna see if we can." Rich said without diverting his gaze from the road. "We need to haul ass back to the house. I have the number for their installation in my study."
"Okay." John simply replied before he started to laugh.
"What's so funny?" Rich asked, still remaining focused on the road.
"You just called in and told them you were off duty but running lights and siren. Is that even legal?"
"Did you hear them question me?" Rich grinned.
"Nope." John smiled. "Crooked cops." He managed to get out with a giggle.
"Oh shut it." Rich laughed as they banked off the highway.
Finally reaching the house and calling in, both Rich and John sprinted for the door. "You want me to dig out the suitcases while you call?" John asked as he started running up the stairs.
"Please. I'll be up in a few." Rich said as he rushed into his study. Reaching into a box on one of the nearby book cases, he pulled out a handful of notes; all bearing the same contact number. "I still need to figure out who was planting these all over the office at work." Rich chuckled as he brought up his terminal and punched up Clan Short's A.I. Division.
"Clan Short of Vulcan, A.I. Division. This is Lieutenant Scott Shannon, how can I help you Lieutenant Murphy?"
"Lieutenant, I need to speak with Noah Barnes if at all possible regarding your current situation." Rich replied with a serious expression on his face.
"I'm sorry; Assistant Director Barnes is not available at this time. Can I relay a message?"
"Actually, You may be able to help me." Rich said with a smirk. "May I call you Scott?"
"If you wish, Rich?"
"Yeah." Rich replied with a smile. "Scott, Noah helped our Department out a great deal in solving a missing person case that has been open and on the books for quite a few years." Rich managed to get out before Scott interjected.
"Keneth McKensie. I know of that case."
"Well, the short story is, I just heard what's been going on over there. I've requested our adjoining law enforcement agencies to offer whatever assistance or support they can, You should be receiving a communication from the State of California sometime very soon."
"Thank you sir. I'm sure the head of our division will be very grateful."
Rich nodded before continuing. "The deal is, I am on vacation as of this morning and was planning on taking a trip to your area for, a social visit." He continued with a smirk on his face. "I have two free months available and my partner is more than capable to assist the A.I. division's medical. Could you use some help in security or at the hospital or both?"
"Are you joking?"
Rich laughed before resting his elbows on his desk. "I would like to repay your Assistant Director for the favor. We both would." Rich managed to get out before John bound in the doorway.
"I can't find your su... Oops!" John got out before coming into Scott's view with his hand over his mouth. "Sorry, I didn't know you were still in a call."
"No problem." Scott smiled. "Rich, to be completely honest; we really could use some help. Our division is losing it's trained Security Personnel to aid in the ongoing efforts in the field. I should be dispatched to assist as well but, lack of trained officers on site is making that impossible. Would you feel comfortable handling our base of operations at our Sullivan's Island and Charleston locations?"
"Standard Security Detail?' Rich asked while John listened in.
"Vulcan Diplomatic Rotations."
"That wouldn't be a problem, provided I can file my reports in a standard Terran language." Rich grinned.
"That works. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have the position if Vulcan was the required language."
"I can help too!" John added with his eyes open wide. "I'm a standard release M.A.R.C. series android with the common medical sub protocol programming as well as detailed information for all current and pre-release A.I. units. If you have more of us there, you may know what I am capable of." John got out and grinned at the shocked look on Scott's face.
"That'd be awesome. I'll notify Dr. Furst that you will be arriving and would like to offer assistance. I'm sure he'll be happy."
"Sounds like we have a plan then. Could you tell your team to expect us to transport in as soon as possible?" Rich asked.
"Consider it done. I'll ready Terra Main and arrange for the relayed transport. Thanks for contacting us Rich. This is seriously going to help us out."
"It's the least we can do." Rich replied. "See you in about half an hour. Murphy out." Rich said as the screen went blank.
"Did he say Doctor Furst?" John asked as Rich stood up from his seat.
"Yeah, I think so. Why?"
"As in Marc Furst?" John asked, this time leaving his mouth hung open.
"Yes." Rich replied again, this time shrugging his shoulders.
"Marc Furst as in the prototype for the M.A.R.C. series... Like all of us!" John continued as Rich chuckled and began to walk out of the room. "That's like... Huge! I've never met him in person!"
"Get a grip twirp. We're going there to work not fill our autograph books." Rich chuckled as he made his way up the stairs.
"Shut Up!" John shouted as he chased him up the stairs. "You just don't understand!"
"True." Rich laughed. "I can't understand most of the stuff you come out with. Maybe while were there we can finally get someone to check out your brain and tighten a few of the loose screws."
"Oh, you are sooooo gonna get it later." John got out as they both went into the bedroom to continue packing.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Earlier that same day - Bridge: Deep Quest, United States Naval Deep Submergence Vehicle (Prototype)
"Captain, there is an incoming message from Starfleet. Should I put it on the main viewer?" The communications officer asked before looking up from his console when he didn't receive a response. "Captain?"
"Oh, I'm sorry Lieutenant. Still getting used to the new title." Jim replied with a half smile. "On screen, please."
"Captain Strafford, I hear you are having a very successful maiden voyage." Spoke the image of Admiral Morrow.
"We are Admiral." Jim replied with a wide smile. "Deep Quest is going to be quite an asset provided the Navy accepts her for active duty."
"Oh, I have it on good authority they are already discussing that. Not to mention what their plans are for her active duty Captain."
"I hate to think of that." Jim replied seriously. "Hard to picture handing this many years of work over to someone else. Besides, this crew is shaping up to being one of the finest I've ever worked with."
"Good to hear." Admiral Morrow smiled. "Jim, could you have your communications officer transfer this call to your wardroom? I'd like to speak with you privately if you don't mind."
"Of course." Jim replied, tilting his head in question. "Mr. Brodey, transfer the call please. I'll be in the wardroom if any of you need me. Commander Shaw, take command please."
"Aye sir." Both replied as Jim made his way off the bridge.
"Okay Admiral, you have my attention." Jim smiled as he sat down at the long table and stretched. "Please tell me you aren't calling and interrupting our maneuvers to try and get me to change my mind about that job you keep harassing me to take within Starfleet development. I haven't changed my mind. Unless deep space is filled with ocean water, I'm still not interested." Jim chuckled.
"I still think that's a mistake on your part to not even consider it Jim, but that's not why I'm contacting you this time. Look Captain, I just got off the line with your commanding officer. We have a serious condition brewing in your hometown and in other places throughout the country. I have been promised two vessels to be stationed off the shore of Charleston. The U.S.S. Iowa is already being dispatched leaving us in need for one more vessel. We agree Deep Quest should be that other vessel."
"Admiral?" Jim questioned as he glared at the view screen on the far wall. "This boat is a prototype and classified, you're aware of that right?"
"Yes, we are. With all due respect Captain, Deep Quest is one of the most heavily armed subs in the fleet at present. Considering the location of our newly formed division of Clan Short, we want the big guns securing the surrounding waters. We believe the combination of your vessel and the fire power of the Iowa to be the best for these circumstances. You have been testing her fire power and all reports are coming back positive."
"She's not even half tested, this crew is still being broken in and from a military stand point, I am nothing more than a ship designer who was lucky enough to have naval training." Jim sighed. "Isn't there a better equipped vessel in the area?"
"Not in under a day's sail, there isn't. Are you saying you are not fit for command? Because in that case, we can have a commissioned officer assume command during this crisis."
"Not at all sir." Jim replied, his back becoming ridged. "Is the U.S. Navy reactivating my commission?"
"If you accept, yes."
"Can I assume since we are being brought in that this project is being declassified?" Jim asked as he crossed his arms.
"To be completely honest, I never believed there was a reason to classify the project. It must have been rough on you and your son. All those months at sea and not being able to explain why."
"Admiral, is this conversation on the record?" Jim asked as he rubbed his eyes.
"It doesn't have to be." The admiral laughed. "Not all of it anyway. Just the outcome."
"Good." Jim said as he poured himself a glass of water and took a large gulp. "Harry, you know damned well that I have been sneaking around to get the funding and the people to make this project work. Having to lie to Marc about where I am or what I'm doing is killing me on top of it all. He loved being involved in these projects. After the life he's had, I hate shutting him out. Don't use the fact that you know how hard this has been to get your way with me or this vessel. That's dirty pool and I'd expect better from you."
"Whoah Jim, that's not what I meant at all. Marc does have a strong pull on this decision though."
"Oh really?" Jim questioned. "I'm all ears then."
"Look, you've been at sea for about a week now. Marc has no communication with you at all so I'm sure you have no clue what the situation is there. I know he's not biologically or even legally your son but you are very protective of him and his well being, you've demonstrated that to me time and time again."
"He's not going to work for you either. He's said that before." Jim shot back.
"Well, even if that was an option, it's simply not possible now. Let's just say he has some news for you when you arrive home."
"If he's in a Starfleet uniform when I get back, I'm going hunting for Admirals and you are number one on that list you know." Jim laughed.
"As much of an asset as he could be to the Federation, he is well beyond our reach now. That boy of yours can move mountains if he wishes and I think he's beginning to learn that now. Unfortunately, he's waist deep in the situation that has caused the Federation to take active control over all of Earth's defenses."
"Meaning the situation is interplanetary?" Jim questioned.
"It just became interplanetary, yes. Considering the situation I believed regardless of your current status, home is where you belong. If that means declassifying the DSV project, it's a small price to pay. Not to mention that I have complete faith in the abilities of your craft and crew under your command."
"Nice of you to say." Jim sighed. "Cutting this shake down cruise short isn't exactly wise though. Most of this equipment is experimental and quite a few of our weapons systems haven't even been brought online."
"Are they dysfunctional?"
"No." Jim laughed. "Just untested."
"So, start flipping some switches then."
"Very funny." Jim smirked. "$2.6 billion dollar toy. I love how you space cadets think."
"Look, if you break anything we'll pay to have it fixed. Just accept this assignment and stop being so stubborn. Once this crisis is clear, you and your crew can enjoy a couple days of shore leave while your vessel gets a once over in Charleston. Then you can go back to testing your heart out."
After a moment of thought, Jim looked over to a picture of his bridge crew that was taken moments prior to leaving it's berth for the first time before smiling and looking back at the main viewer. "In that case, we accept Admiral. Deep Quest reporting ready for assignment."
"That's what we were hoping. Your orders are to make best speed to Charleston and rendezvous with the USS Iowa. You will receive further orders upon your arrival. Fire up your tactical weapons Captain, we need you ready for anything. I will further brief you in one hour. Best of luck Captain. To you and your crew. Morrow out."
Jim nodded his head as the screen went blank and quickly got up and returned to the bridge. Once there, he looked around the brand new bridge of his vessel and noted to himself the mixture of nervousness and surprise before he grinned once his gaze met with his Executive Officer.
"What's our status Commander Shaw?" He asked as he returned to his command chair.
"Captain. We're receiving orders from Starfleet. Are we being activated?" The Executive Officer questioned as she tapped away at her console and everyone eagerly looked at Jim to hear his answer.
"They don't waste any time, do they?" Jim shook his head. "Mr. Brodey, bring up ship wide communications please."
"Aye sir." The man responded before the whistle alerted the crew for their attention.
"Well boys and girls, it appears our playtime just ended. Effective immediately, Deep Quest is on active duty and will be responding to secure the United States sea shore in the South Carolina area. This is not a drill. From this moment on we are on full military alert. I expect to have all of the bugs worked out before we arrive. Let's show off what this boat is really capable of." He said before he motioned to communications to close the connection. "Any concerns people?"
"Just one sir." The young helmsman spoke up.
"And?" Jim replied with a smirk.
"Sir, according to your specs Deep Quest is capable of obtaining at least ninety knots under full power."
"That's correct Mr. Miller. Are you saying we don't have the capability?" Jim questioned as he slowly walked up to the helm and motioned to the officer to sit down.
"No sir." The officer said as he punched up his display. "I think that's sort of an understatement." He got out before a few people started to snicker.
"So I understated her on paper." Jim laughed. "Bring her about and let's find out what her top speed really is." Jim ordered. "Any other questions?"
"Why us?" Navigations spoke up. "According to reports there are 4 other subs in that area that are commissioned and ready for assignment."
"Get us underway." Jim said to the navigations officer before confirming the course laid in at the helm. "Two reasons I think Mr. Ramsey." Jim said as he returned to his command chair and brought up a situations display. "We are slated to be the fastest and most heavily armed for one. This boat is one of a kind and they are relying on that for two." Jim said as he closed his eyes and rubbed them. "They also know my son is in that area. I'm sure if they didn't assign us Charleston they assume I would have requested to be relieved of duty to be with him."
"Understandable." The navigation officer nodded.
"Sir, roving periscope alpha-two just lost communications. We're blind port side." The Chief Sensor Officer cut in.
"Blinky, as always. We really need to go over the sensor array in that unit. Note our location. We'll come back for it later. Deploy alpha-four and hope it can keep up."
"Blinky? Where are these nicknames coming from? I didn't read about them anywhere in the documentation." The officer asked as he deployed the fourth RP.
"The development team Mr. Ingersol. Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde; RPs Alpha-one through four." Jim laughed.
"They were named after the ghosts in a pretty famous arcade game back when the Captain was a kid." The Executive Officer said with a smile on her face. "Pac-Man, wasn't it sir?"
"See, someone on this boat has had the proper training." Jim said with a smile. "Commander Shaw, I'm going to my quarters to make a phone call. Bring us up to transmitting depth and maintain course and speed." Jim said as he leaned closer to his second in command. "Set some speed records."
"Aye Captain." She responded before Jim turned to leave the bridge. "You heard the Captain, alter course and speed Mr. Miller."
Back in his quarters, Jim grabbed the phone off his table and tapped the alert button. "Is ship-to-shore available Mr. Brodey?" He asked as soon as he was connected.
"Good, could you patch me through to my residence in South Carolina please?" Jim asked as he kicked off his shoes and listened as the connection switched over and began to ring.
"Clan Short A.I. Division. Lieutenant Scott Shannon speaking, how can I direct your call?" The young sounding voice on the other end quickly stated.
"Clan Short?" Jim asked as he shook his head. "I must have been connected to the wrong number; I was attempting to contact 3199 Marshall Boulevard."
"The address is correct sir." The voice replied. "Who were you attempting to reach?"
"Um..." Jim stammered. "Marc Furst. Last I checked, he lived there."
"I'm sorry sir. Mr. Furst is unavailable at this time. Can I take a message and have him contact you?"
"Wait a minute, is this Danny?" Jim began to laugh. "Nice to see your sense of humor recovered. Now will you put your brother on the phone please?"
"Sir?" The voice questioned. "Director Paige is with Dr. Furst at the Naval Hospital in Charleston."
"Okay, I'll play along." Jim chuckled. "Tell Doctor Furst his Father will be home ahead of plans and needs to talk to him." He managed to get out with a snicker.
"Yes sir. I will have the message delivered as soon as possible. Will there be anything else sir?"
"No, I don't think so." Jim said before holding the receiver away from his ear and shaking his head at it.
"Very well then. Have a nice day sir."
"Same to you." Jim said as he set the phone down. "As if one clown in the house wasn't enough." He sighed before putting his feet up.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"What's goin on?" Danny asked as he poked his head around the corner and saw a dumbfounded look on Marc's face.
"I just got a report in from Scott. The officer that rescued KC is on his way to help out with security. His partner will be heading over here to give us a hand." Marc stated as he stood up from his seat behind the desk at the Nurses' Station.
"That's a good thing, we could use the help." Danny replied coming the rest of the way around the corner. "So why do you look confused?"
"No reason I guess." Marc replied as Danny rested his elbows on the counter that was separating them. "His partner is a M.A.R.C. Series Android."
"Oh yeah?" Danny shrugged. "That doesn't bother you, does it?"
Marc crossed his arms and closed his eyes before shaking his head. "No. It just brought back some memories." He got out before powering down the computer and standing up. "I'm actually looking forward to meeting him."
"Dr. Furst!!" Nurse patty shouted as she ran down the hall, making both boys jump. "We have more incoming. The injuries are getting worse as they come in. I don't know where we're going to put these patients."
"Dan?" Marc said as he stood up. "This is getting bad. We have one biobed that's not in use according to the last reports, which are probably out of date already and absolutely no room except for the parking lot."
"Oh, there's an option." Danny groaned just as his communicator went off. "Now what?" He griped as he flipped the unit open. "Page here."
"Danny, it's Noah. Number Fifteen just informed me that we are running out of supplies and beds. We have more on the way in, mostly severe."
"Oh boy." Danny said half under his breath. "Noah, do we have any non criticals that we can clear to the waiting room?"
"No. We've kept them clear. The waiting room is overloaded and anyone already treated has made their way down to the cafeteria. Dude, we have no more room."
"Don't panic." Danny replied as he took a deep breath, rubbed his eyes and wiped the sweat off of his forehead. "Where are you and do you know where Rylan is?"
"Yeah, he's right here with me. We're down near radiology."
"Good, step out into the reception hall. Both of you. We need to do some serious juggling." Danny said as he waved to Marc to follow.
"On our way."
"You have an idea?" Marc asked as they started to walk down the hall.
"Nope. Not really." He said as he raised his communicator once again. "Page to Doctor Herron."
"Right here Danny."
"Chris, do you have any idea where Phil is?" Danny asked as Noah and Rylan emerged from the ER and trotted to meet them in the hall.
"Yeah, he's running supplies near the ambulatory entrance. You need him?"
"Yeah, can you get someone to cover for him? I'm planning on taking him away from you." Danny said as Marc looked at Nurse Patty, Rylan and Noah and shrugged his shoulders.
"He'll be with you in five. Herron out."
"What's the plan?" Noah asked as Danny stuffed his communicator in his pocket.
"We're gonna have to pull off miracles here guys." Danny said as he looked at Noah. "How low on supplies are we?"
"We almost completely wiped out everything we had with that first wave." Noah said as Rylan started to laugh. "Dude?"
"There were no plans beyond what you had stocked?" Rylan said after clearing his throat.
"We had no idea how bad this was." Marc offered. "It was a serious magic trick to get what we already had."
"What about replicators?" Rylan asked tilting his head.
"Not functional with the exception of the unit tied into the transporter system. That's off limits though because we need that system clear." Danny answered.
"Not a problem." Rylan grinned. "Ark, I need two replicators. An organ replication unit would help too."
< They will be there shortly Rylan. >
"Thanks Ark." Rylan smiled. "Supplies are covered and the Medbots can be more efficient with an organ replication unit on site."
"You are the man." Danny smiled. "Can you work with Nurse Patty to teach her how to run them. We're going to need to refill quite a few cabinets."
"On it." Rylan said as he waved for Nurse Patty to follow him back into the ER.
"You called Danny?" Phil, the construction foreman shouted as he jogged down the hall.
"Perfect timing." Danny smiled. "Phil, I need you to pull a really big rabbit out of your hat." Danny started as his communicator chirped. "Danny here."
"Danny, O'Keefe here. I have a John Murphy on the pad. He's transporting in from our compound to assist."
"Direct him to the ER please Billy. Thanks." Danny said as he quickly closed his communicator. "Phil, I need clean rooms. What do we have that can be opened and used?"
"Oh god." Phil sighed. "I can give you part of the second floor. But those are just empty rooms except for the three you guys used before you left."
"I'll take them." Danny smiled. "Noah, go check on Teri's group in the waiting room. Make sure they're doing alright. Marc, meet your new doctor. Phil and I are going to go buy ourselves part of a hospital. I'll keep you up to date." Danny grinned as Marc stood frozen with his mouth hung open while Noah ran for the hallway. Just before they got out of ear shot Marc finally shouted and froze them in their tracks.
"Wait! What do I do with the incoming?"
"We'll ask Ark to hold them, just to give us enough time to get more space set up!" Danny shouted back before both he and Phil rounded the corner.
< How long shall I hold them Marc? >
"I don't know Ark." Marc replied as he leaned up against the wall. "We need enough time to get a few more rooms open and try to get some of these other patients stable enough to move them. How long is safe?"
< I believe I can give you enough time to prepare but, after monitoring your groups recent plans I have located the specific sections you plan to populate within that structure and have determined that a significant percentage of the area is in fact contaminated. >
"No." Marc whined. "We need those areas badly." He got out as Rylan came back out into the hall.
< Marc, the material within your location that endangers your group is easily detectable. If you wish, I can offer to have your building scanned with more detail and remove all traces without endangering those at your location. >
"It can't be done without causing it to become airborne Ark." Marc sighed.
"Bring the Techbots online Ark!" Rylan shouted as his eyes opened wide. "Let them scan the entire building and simply teleport all traces that they find out of here. It will be a lot safer than the way they planned originally."
< I agree Rylan. Four units will be at your location momentarily. They will not require any assistance Marc. Simply keep your group in the locations they are in currently and they will be safe. >
"You can really do that?" Marc questioned as he stared at Rylan.
"It's an easy contaminant to trace." Rylan smiled. "Besides, those units really SHOULD be used for something." He added crossing his arms.
< Rylan, I have had no need for them. Nyo has been exceptional in performing his duties. This fact has been established. >
"True, but it will be nice to see them used since quite a bit of time went into their design." Rylan huffed. "Maybe we can have them start looking at some of the primitive electrical systems in this building. If asbestos wasn't going to keep them from using this location, a fire probably would."
"We've had one already." Marc mumbled as he rubbed his eyes.
"Send them down Ark. Get the scans that you need from them and then I'll take care of the rest." Rylan said just as a new face turned the corner and started walking in their direction.
< As you wish Rylan. They will be at your location shortly. >
"I don't know how to thank you guys." Marc said placing his hand on Rylan's shoulder.
"Thank us?" Rylan grinned. "With everything that we have seen going on within this Clan and for all the years we have waited to see it? This is our way of thanking you." He said before he turned and went back into the ER.
"Doctor Furst?" The blond teenage boy who had entered the hallway carefully asked as he approached.
"That's me. Are you John?" Marc asked with a tired smile.
"Yeah." The boy replied as he extended his hand. "I can't believe I'm really getting to meet you."
"Yeah, well. It would be better if the conditions weren't so bad." Marc replied as he waved John toward the entrance to the ER. "You and your partn... um... father going to be around for a while?"
"We plan to be." John replied as he stopped and tilted his head. "Rich is a little of both."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to say it like that. I just wasn't sure." Marc replied as they made their way through the rushing groups to the Nurses' Station. "From what I've read, your living arrangement is a lot like the one I had with my original father."
"I know." John replied as Marc grabbed a stack of folders and a P.A.D.D. off the desk. "If it's cool, I'd really like to talk to you about that someday."
"Well, you and Rich are more than welcomed to stay for as long as you like. I'd really like to talk to you about it too." Marc smiled. "For now, I need you to access your emergency medical files and have them readily available. Today hasn't been much more than a living nightmare so far." Marc said as he handed the P.A.D.D. to John. "Considering what is reported to be on the way, it's not getting much better yet either."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"I think I got it all." KC said as he took a deep breath. "How he's made it this far..."
"I know." Caleb replied as he tapped away at the biobed's controls. "I'm still seeing lots of fluid in his lungs and his heart rate is a little erratic."
Just as KC was about to reply, screaming from the hall caught his attention. Looking up he got a glimpse of a gurney being rolled down the hallway, followed by Kyle; who paused for a moment to look into the room. After a moment, Kyle's face seemed to become cold and angry. Just as KC opened his mouth to say something, Kyle shook his head and quickly walked out of sight in the direction the screaming patient was taken.
"I'm gonna hear screaming in my sleep for years after all this." Caleb said just over a whisper as he took the small child's hand in his own.
"Yeah." KC said as he slid a seat over for Caleb. "Sit down dude, all we can do is wait now."
"Did you know this kid's father did this to him? His own father." Caleb said with a sniffle as he pulled the chair closer and sat down, not once releasing the boy's hand.
"Well, when he pulls through you guys are gonna have to look into it I guess."
"Oh, we will." Caleb replied. "That I promise." He managed to get out as all the lights in the room seemed to dim for a moment; setting off alarms on half of the operating equipment. "What the hell was that?"
"Not sure. Running a self check on the biobed." KC quickly replied as more alarms began to sound. "The bed's cutting off the stimulant that's keeping his heart rate stable." KC said in almost a panic. "It won't let me override!"
As the words were leaving KC's lips, Caleb froze when the boy took a deep breath and then began coughing. "Easy little guy." Caleb whispered as he ran his fingers through the boy's hair. "He's regaining consciousness."
"I don't know how." KC replied with his eyes open wide in shock. "The amount of pain he should be in would be enough to put a full grown man into shock."
"Wh... where am I?" The boy asked with a gurgle in his whisper.
"You're in a hospital." Caleb whispered in as soothing a tone as he could manage.
"I can't see." The boy calmly stated after attempting to open his eyes. "Am I gonna be blind?"
"We don't know yet big guy. We're doing everything we can to make sure you won't be though." Caleb answered. "My name is Caleb, what's yours?"
"Hunter." The boy answered. "It don't hurt no more." He continued with a calm smile. "Did you save the boy?"
"Which boy?" Caleb asked as he looked over to KC.
"The one in the wheeled chair. My Dad tried to shoot him, but I stopped him I think." Hunter said as he coughed once again, bringing up some of the fluid from his lungs which was heavily laced with blood.
"Breathe slow buddy." KC said as he frantically tapped on the bed's controls. "You need to take it really slow and easy, okay?"
"Who's that?" Hunter asked as he still attempted to look in the direction of the new voice.
"That's my friend KC." Caleb replied as a tear made it's way down his cheek. "He helped me get you all fixed up."
"Oh." Hunter replied as his breathing slowed. "Thanks."
"Thanks? Thanks for what?" Caleb asked as he took Hunter's hand in his own again.
"For fixin me up." Hunter answered before he paused and looked as if he was deep in thought. "Am I gonna die?"
Caleb looked at KC, tears now streaming down his cheeks. "We don't know." KC answered honestly. "You are doing lots better than we thought you could though so, you may be better than even we know."
With another sniffle, Caleb gave Hunter's hand a squeeze just as a tear fell from his cheek; landing on the boy's hand. "Are you cryin?"
"A little." Caleb sniffled and answered quickly.
"Lemme touch your face..." Hunter started as he reached out his hand. "...please." Caleb leaned closer to his outstretched hand and released the one he was holding. Hunter gently touched his mouth and worked his way to Caleb's eyes, wiping away the tears. Then he continued to gently feel his way up to Caleb's hair before he brought his hands away. "What do you look like?"
"Um..." Caleb mumbled as he took the boy's hand back in his own. "I've got green eyes, just like yours." He started. "Blond hair that's grown a little longer than yours is right now..."
"Yur not old." Hunter cut him off.
"No. I turned 12 in April." Caleb replied.
"And you're a doctor?"
"No, just someone who's trying to help."
"You should be a doctor." The boy said as he tried to smile. "You'd be an awesome doctor."
"Thanks, but KC did a lot of the work." Caleb smiled just as Hunter winced and his body became ridged. "KC!?!"
"Checking." KC shouted as he frantically looked over the bed's display.
"I wish you were my dad..." Hunter managed to get out before his small body was wracked with a violent seizure. "Help the boy... th... the one in the... w... wheeled chair..." he managed to get out before the seizure took control of him.
"I can't...he's...oh god." KC started to shout. "His heart rate is off the chart! He's going into cardiac arrest! Beginning artificial respiration sequence." KC shouted as he banged on the controls. "We're gonna lose him! Stand back, We gotta shock him."
"Go ahead, I'm monitoring." Caleb shouted back as he rushed to the other side of the bed.
"Stand clear, defibrillating thirty percent intensity." KC shouted a moment before the whine and hiss of the bed filled the room and the boy's small body lurched with the shock.
"No rhythm." Caleb said as he wiped the fresh tears out of his eyes.
"Fourty percent charge." KC stated as the boy's body lurched once again.
"No rhythm, blood pressure dropping rapidly." Caleb almost cried. "Blood oxygen levels critical! We're losing him!"
"Not yet we aren't." KC replied as the heart monitor continued to beep away the boy's unevenly slowing heart rate. "Continuing artificial respiration, defibrillating fifty percent intensity. Increase pulmonary stimulants!"
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"Marc, I need you for a minute." Rylan said, poking his head into the curtain that enclosed a bed that was surrounded with Medbots.
"What's wrong?" Marc asked as he slipped away from the team and stepped outside the curtains.
"Nothing really." Rylan grinned. "Your building is completely sanitized and the second level, including the permanent operating rooms will be functional in about 3 hours."
"Damn." Marc gasped. "What's going on up there?"
"Well, let's just say we have four very happy Techbots on site." Rylan smiled.
"I guess." Marc got out as Noah came into the ER being followed by an adult. "Hey Noah, Who's your friend?"
"Someone who wanted to meet you." Noah smiled as they approached. "Doctor Marc Furst, this is Chad Kroeger."
"Nice to meet you Doctor. I've read all about you and your efforts after the company you helped to build closed down." Chad said as he shook Marc's hand.
"Cool a fan." Marc smiled. "Just call me Marc though." He added before looking at Noah, who was grinning like an idiot. "Okay, what are you so goofed about?"
"Doesn't he look familiar to you?" Noah asked as Chad rolled his eyes.
"Kinda." Marc said looking at Chad a bit closer. "Wait... Chad Kroeger? Not Chad Kroeger, the lead singer for Nickelback."
"That's me." Chad laughed with a little embarrassment surfacing in his voice. "We were touring with Jon Bon Jovi when your Red Alert was called. Jon knows the leaders of your group so; he wanted to come here to see if he could help out in some way. We tagged along too."
"We?" Marc asked with a grin. "Your whole group is here?"
"Around here somewhere." Chad smiled. "We were all going to head down to your cafeteria to see if we can cheer up some of the kids, I just asked Noah if there was any way I could meet you first."
"That's sweet!" Marc smiled. "I'm a big fan of your music."
"We need to talk then." Chad replied. "Cause I'm a really big fan of your work. Have been since I was a kid."
"Deal." Marc smiled as he looked at Noah. "Rylan says we're in really good condition now."
"Just in time." Noah laughed. "Did you hear that we have assistance offered from the state of Iowa now? Even more hospitals willing to take our overload."
"Are you serious?" Marc asked as his eyes opened wide. "Have we started transporting patients?"
"Small groups only." Noah answered before looking across the hall to a bed Danny and a Medbot were frantically working on a patient at. "Marc, why don't you take a few minutes and show Chad the way to the cafeteria. You look like you could use a break. I got the ER covered."
"You sure?" Marc grinned as he asked.
"Yup." Noah replied as he powered on his P.A.D.D. and tapped away at it. "We have more incoming but, as soon as I clear some beds we'll also have more hands."
"Sounds good. Later on we really need to contact the Hospitals that are helping out and thank them." Marc said as he patted Noah on the shoulder.
"We will." Noah replied. "Don't forget though, this is their way of thanking us for what we're doing. Wait til you talk to some of these people. It's unreal."
"Okay." Marc said as he motioned to Chad. "I'll be back in five."
"Make it ten. Android or not, you need a break too." Noah smiled without looking up from the display.
"Fine." Mark giggled. "You want me to bring you back some OJ?"
"You know it." Noah smiled. "Anything for you Rylan?"
"What's OJ?" Rylan asked shrugging his shoulders.
"Orange Juice dude." Noah giggled. "Just bring him one." He added with a laugh.
"Gotcha." Marc replied as he and Chad left the ER.
"I know what Orange Juice is you know." Rylan said with a smirk. "Oranges have been around for a really long time."
"But you never called it OJ?" Noah asked seriously.
"No." Rylan smiled. "Seems like this cycle is too lazy to simply use full names for just about everything."
"Really?" Noah grinned. "FYI, it saves time."
"FYI? See? If you need to explain each abbreviation it actually takes up more time. How is that worth the effort?"
"And you guys are responsible for Ark's technology?" Noah giggled.
"We did it all while drinking Orange Juice, not OJ." Rylan shot back seriously before both broke out in laughter.
"What's so funny?" Jerry asked as he approached the group with a freshly bandaged cadet in tow.
"Orange Juice." Rylan barely got out before Noah's giggling got him laughing again.
"See." Jerry said looking back at his patient. "This is why you need to go downstairs and relax. You'll get all whacked like these guys."
"Gotcha." The uniformed teenager replied as they both left for the cafeteria.
"No sense of humor." Noah shrugged. "Okay, seriously. We need to group up the patients that are stable enough to move. If we can clear enough space, we can have Ark teleport the group he's been holding."
"Don't forget you have operating rooms available on the second floor now." Rylan smiled when Noah looked up from his display with a shocked expression. "The Techbots are just about finished with the second floor."
"Serious?" Noah asked.
"Yeah. Phil gave them the blueprints for the refit and they've been having a blast." Rylan said before he tilted his head. "Seems a little unfair though."
"Really? What does?" Noah asked before looking over toward the bed Danny and Medbot Fourteen were working at, noticing how pale Danny was looking.
"That they get to have all the fun." Rylan smiled. "Ark, could you send 8 more Techbots to the AI hospital? You know, to let them stretch their legs."
< Their legs are comprised mostly of an aluminum alloy Rylan. It is impossible to stretch them without rendering them inoperable. >
"It's a figure of speech Ark." Rylan sighed.
< Much like abbreviating commonly used words? >
"Who programmed you with a sense of humor anyway?" Rylan laughed. "Just send them to the second floor to join up with the other four. I think they'll enjoy this building."
< They will be at your location shortly. >
"Thanks Ark." Rylan said with a smile. "I have to run my checks on the Medbots You need anything?"
"No, I think I'm going to review our notes and start getting groups of 10 at a time transported out to Iowa."
"Okay, see you in a few." Rylan replied as he turned and went right over to the bed Number Fourteen and Danny were working at.
"Self status?" Rylan asked the busy Medbot.
"Self status acceptable. All systems fully operational." The Medbot replied without even pausing in its duties.
"What about you Danny?" Rylan asked, getting a quick glimpse from Danny as he too did not pause in his work.
"I feel like a million bucks." Danny replied with a forced grin.
"And you are a bad liar." Rylan smiled and shrugged as he moved along to the next Medbot.
"Is it hot in here." Danny asked as he wiped off his forehead before continuing his work.
"The temperature is currently seventy three degrees Fahrenheit director." Medbot Number Fourteen replied. "Your temperature appears to be two degrees below normal for your species however."
"Really? It feels more like one hundred and seventy three." Danny said as he took a deep breath, grasped the side of the biobed and closed his eyes. "Number Fourteen, I can't focus..." he managed to get out before taking another deep breath.
"Director? Do you need assistance?" The Medbot paused and asked.
"No... I'll be fine." Danny replied sternly before releasing his grip on the side of the bed. "I just fee..." he managed to get out before his eyes rolled back and he crashed to the floor.
"DANNY!" Noah shouted as he dropped his P.A.D.D. and ran to help, nearly crashing into a young looking boy in army fatigues, obviously appearing to have come right off the battle field. "Sorry dude." Noah apologized before they both knelt down next to a confused looking Danny.
"That is alright, my name is Chang, I am a doctor, may I be of assistance." The boy replied as he looked down at Danny and then up at the person he was working on before he collapsed.
"That'd be sweet dude, thanks." Noah replied before brushing Danny's hair out of his eyes. "What happened?"
"I tripped." Danny weakly answered as he tried to sit up. "I'm fine, really."
"Really?" Noah asked looking at Chang.
"From what little I have seen, and what I can tell just by observing him, as well as what I am sure he has had to deal with recently, it seems to me that he is suffering from classic signs of exhaustion. I would suggest that you find someplace to relax for a while, you will do no good to these patients in the condition you are in." Chang replied.
"I agree with Doctor Chang." Medbot Number Fourteen added. "Director Page is showing signs of extreme fatigue. He is running a low temperature, his blood pressure is also low and he complained about his vision being impaired shortly before losing his balance and collapsing."
"Really Noah, I'll be okay. Just give me a second to shake it off." Danny said as he tried to sit up once again.
Noah nodded his head and sat back on his heels while he pulled his communicator out. "No deal dude. Two doctors to one, you're benched." Noah grinned as he flipped his communicator open. "Noah to Marc."
"Marc here. What's up?"
"Marc I really don't want to panic you, but I have a medical emergency you need to handle." Noah replied as he shrugged his shoulders.
"Yeah." Noah paused. "Some thing's wrong with Danny."
"On my way! Marc out!"
"Do you believe that you can handle this until the other doctor gets here, because if you can I believe I should help out this other patient?" Chang asked as Noah closed his communicator.
"The doctor should clean up first." Medbot Fourteen stated before both boys stared at it blankly causing Danny to start laughing weakly.
"They are practical." Danny said with a weak grin.
"Yeah." Noah smiled. "Chang, there's a washroom over on the other side of the Nurses' Station down this hall." Noah said while pointing out the way before the boy practically broke out in a run. "Can you stand?"
"I think so." Danny replied as Noah wrapped his arms around him and helped him to his feet.
"The truth, what's wrong." Noah asked as the two made it to an open biobed and Danny struggled to crawl up on to it.
"I'm not sure." Danny replied as he closed his eyes. "I feel really tired. Almost like a human that hasn't slept in days."
"You slept last night right?" Noah asked as he started the biobed.
"Yeah." Danny answered just as Marc came running up to the bed.
"He collapsed." Noah replied.
"I tripped." Danny weakly added.
"Sure you did. Just sit tight bro, we'll find out what's up." Marc said as he waved to a nearby Medbot. "Number Thirteen, could you take Director Page to examining room 8 and alert Dr. Murphy where he is. Just tell John that I'll be there as soon as I can."
"As you wish doctor." The Medbot replied as Marc stood up and looked at Noah seriously.
"Who's responsible for the last group that came in?" Marc asked as he led Noah away from the bed.
"Which group?" Noah asked shaking his head.
"The patient I took from that last wave. The only name I have on record for him is Alvin." Marc said shaking his head. "I think he's part of the Unit that took over on the field. I need to speak with whoever is in charge of that kid."
As the words were leaving Marc's lips, a uniformed teenager quickly turned and approached. "Excuse me, but is Alvin okay? I heard you say you needed to speak to someone about him. My name is Adam Casey, commander of the Unit."
"Commander." Marc said in greeting as he shook the boy's hand. "I'm Doctor Furst. Can I speak to you privately about Alvin?"
"Of course doctor, please lead the way." The boy said with his eyes wide.
Marc leaned in to whisper in Noah's ear. "Security to the ER." He got out before he turned and smiled. "We'll be in Examining room 3. Right this way Commander." and he led the way into the Exam room.
Just as Marc closed the door, Adam quickly turned and asked "Is Alvin okay?"
"Physically I think he'll be functioning fine really soon." Marc said shaking his head. "Commander, are you familiar with the components in an android?"
"Ummm... not really all that much, Logan would be the one to ask about Androids... if it's techy, he knows it." The boy replied.
"Oh, I should show you something then." Marc said as he approached the controls next to the bed and brought up a display. "I'm sure you can tell that this display is showing a human looking cranium with a Positronic... er... Android Brain I mean. I mean it's pretty obvious in this image, right?"
"Ummm... yeah." The boy again replied as he looked over the image, obviously a little confused at the questions.
"That's great." Marc said as he punched off the display, with a little more force than needed. "Do you think you can tell me why that android brain is in this human's skull?" Marc asked as he clenched his fists. "Exactly what kind of experimentation has your organization been doing out there?"
The boy looked at the bed and then back at Marc a couple of times before his eyes widened. "Hold on a second Doctor, obviously you don't have all the facts here."
"Oh, I'm all ears Commander." Marc said with ice in his voice as he folded his arms and leaned up against the wall.
"First off Dr. Furst, we had nothing to do with any of what was done to these kids. About four months ago, he, and about one hundred other kids escaped from a lab where the military was trying to create super soldiers. That kind of lab is where most of US came from." Adam said, obviously trying to keep himself calm.
Marc looked at the expression in Adams face before he tilted his head and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry." Marc said as he looked down toward the floor. "I tend to get a little upset when I learn that a child has been murdered in an attempt to incorporate android components within a human. It wouldn't be the first time it's happened." Marc got out as he quickly pulled out his communicator. "Marc to Noah. Stand down."
"Gotcha Marc." Marc's communicator sounded back.
"Apology accepted, now, however, I have to wonder how many more of us have Computer Brains?" Adam replied causing Marc to gasp.
"You mean it's possible this was done to more of your people?" Marc asked as his Jaw hit the floor.
Adam sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "Yeah, see Alvin and twelve others are actually clones of Logan, they were "made" to be the intelligence teams. However, there were just over one hundred other kids in that facility. So your guess is a good as mine. Not to mention that myself and four others came from other labs that were all a part of the same project."
"Holy shit." Marc practically coughed out. "Do you know who's responsible for this?"
"General Adams is the one who is in charge of the Genesis project... and this is just one more thing that he'll have to answer for when I get my hands on him." Adam said with tension building in his voice.
"Unreal." Marc said as he walked closer to the bed and put his hand on Alvin's arm. "I can answer your first question at least. Alvin is going to be fine. The gunshot wounds to his chest luckily missed any major organs. One shot grazed his left lung but that will heal without any real issues." Marc said as he turned and faced Adam again. "The shot to the head was the problem." He continued as he brought up the display once again. "A Human Skull is a lot more fragile than an android's. This display shows the crack he has in his skull."
"Is... is he gonna be okay?" Adam asked with a crack in his voice.
"Yeah, he'll be fine." Marc said as he patted Adam's shoulder. "See, a Positronic Brain is just as fragile as a human brain. The only real benefit is that his brain shut itself down out of self defense upon impact. Luckily, the only damage was a severe scoring of the external casing. That score will always be there but nothing inside was damaged at all. Had that shot impacted one inch higher and we would have been looking at total loss of the unit, possibly loss of the stored personality imprint."
"Oh thank God. I don't know how I would have been able to tell Logan." Adam said with a sigh. "You see, Logan got shot, and Alvin jumped on top of him to make sure Logan didn't get hurt anymore. I don't know how Logan would have handled it had Alvin died saving his life."
"He's not going to die." Marc said with a smile. "He is going to need time for his injuries to heal though." He paused and then continued; "The other question would be, what will his response be when he finds out about what was done to him?"
"I'm not really sure, however, the question I have right now is how many of the others have the same thing... I think I need to find Dr. Tony, he was one of the doctors at that lab, although he dealt primarily with the Cat/Human Hybrids." Adam said as if he was talking out his thoughts.
"Well, if your Doctor Tony needs anything from me or my staff in assistance; let him know he has it. If you guys have a lot more of these experiments in your group, I can't see how it's going to be easy to get through." Marc said as he motioned toward the door. "I need to get back to work. Your people are welcomed to come in and visit with him once he wakes up. If your Logan has any questions about any of this, just have him get in touch with me." He said as he opened the door. "I really am sorry for the grilling I was lining you up for when I first got you in here, and for the news I just dropped in your lap."
"Thank you very much Doctor, I'll let you know." Adam said as Marc just nodded and went out the door.
"That went well." Marc said as he rolled his eyes to Noah who was standing right outside the door. "I'm gonna go check on Danny and then hopefully we can take a few and grab something to eat. I'm starved." He said as he turned and walked down the hall.
"Sounds good, just grab me when you're done." Noah said before looking up toward the doors and seeing KC standing there with a lost expression on his face, almost as if he were on the verge of crying. "Hey KC!" Noah yelled as he jogged to meet him at the door. "What's wrong dude?"
"We lost him..." KC got out before tears began to run down his cheeks.
"Whoah... Lost who?" Noah asked as he led KC behind the nurses reception desk and sat him down.
"Hunter? You mean the little boy Caleb rolled out of here?" Noah asked as he knelt down in front of KC.
"Yeah. He regained consciousness for about two minutes and then..." KC said before he openly began to cry. "We tried so hard... His little heart couldn't take any m... more."
"Where's Caleb?" Noah asked as he grabbed KC's hand.
"He won't leave him." KC said through his sobs. "They were taking him down to the morgue."
"I'll go find him as soon as I can." Noah said in a worried tone. "Dude, you guys did all that you could. Even that little boy couldn't have asked for more."
"If I ever get my hands on that kid's father..." KC began.
"Won't happen. Kyle has him right now." Noah winked. "I don't think there's gonna be much left."
"Good." KC replied as he wiped his eyes with the back of his hands. "I just wish that was enough to bring the little guy back."
"I hear ya." Noah said as he shook his head. "At least the little guy isn't hurting anymore."
"I hope Mikey and Davie find him." KC said as fresh tears left paths down his cheeks.
"I know they will." Noah replied as Marc approached the counter with a smirk on his face that instantly melted the second he laid eyes on KC.
"What happened?" Marc asked after taking a deep breath.
"Caleb and KC lost the Russell boy." Noah sighed.
"Oh man." Marc quietly said as he reached over the counter and gave KC's shoulder a squeeze. "I'm so sorry."
"I'm alright. I'm worried about Cal though. He's taking this really hard." KC said as he wiped at his eyes once again.
"I can imagine." Marc said as he pulled out his communicator. "Marc to Caleb."
After almost a full minute, Caleb's voice could barely be heard in his response. "Caleb here." He got out after clearing his throat several times.
"Cal, I just wanted to make sure you're okay. KC just told us what happened." Marc said as KC stood up from his chair and wiped his eyes again.
"I... I'm fine. Really."
"Where are you now?" Marc asked before looking at Noah.
"I wa... I mean I'm leaving the morgue now." He managed to get out before muffled sniffles could be heard. "Oh god Marc, this is so unfair. That little boy never hurt anyone. He was trying to save the life of another kid."
"Look, I can send Noah to meet with you. We can manage without him for a while if you need him." Marc said nodding toward Noah.
"NO!" Caleb almost cried. "I just wanna be alone for a while. I'm okay, really."
"I'm right here if you need me, okay?" Noah spoke up as he leaned in toward Marc's communicator.
"I love you." Noah said as his eyes began to well up.
"Love you too." Caleb answered really quickly. "Caleb out."
"Maybe you should go be with him anyway." Marc said as he put his communicator back in his pocket.
"No." Noah said as he wrapped his arm around KC's shoulder and walked out from behind the nurses desk. "If he says he needs time, then we need to give it to him." He got out before taking a deep breath. "How's Danny?"
"Oh yeah." Marc smirked. "That's why I came over here."
"Some thing's wrong with Danny?" KC tilted his head and asked just as John came over and pulled off a pair of gloves.
"Not anymore." John smiled. "At least for now."
"A new guy?" KC asked as he stared at a well tanned teen in a doctor's gown, his shaggy blond hair peeking out from all sides of his cap.
"Yeah, I'm John Murphy. My Dad is the officer in Malibu that found the android that you guys repaired and reactivated." The boy said as Marc looked at KC and grinned.
"Your Dad found me?" KC said after he shook his head a couple of times.
"Oh wow dude, you're Kenny McKensie?" John asked with a wide smile.
"Just KC." KC said with half of a smile. "You surf?"
"Yeah." John answered as he tilted his head. "How'd you guess that?"
"Shark tooth." KC answered as he pointed to the boy's necklace. "I guessed you were either a tourist or you actually spent time on the water."
"Good guess." John replied. "A friend of my dad's rides waves. This tooth actually comes from a shark that bit him once."
"Whoah! You serious?" KC asked with a smile.
"That or he was really drunk and knocked it out with a bottle by accident." John said with a laugh. "He does love to tell stories either way. He gave me this on my birthday a few years back."
"Sweet." KC grinned as he looked at the necklace even closer.
"So, did you find what I did wrong in Danny?" Marc asked as he crossed his arms.
"Yup." John replied.
"What was wrong with him?" Noah asked opening his eyes wide.
"Well." John began. "It appears that there were a few physical differences between the prototype brain and the prototype M.A.R.C."
"What does that mean?" Noah asked as he watched the other three nod their head as if it all made perfect sense.
"It means that even though Danny's upgraded programing has been telling him to sleep it hasn't been triggering his low power maintenance mode." Marc offered.
"Is that bad?" Noah asked getting a giggle from KC.
"Picture going for over a week without sleep. Just lying down and closing your eyes." KC replied. "He shoulda collapsed long before now really."
"I already adjusted his programming and the biobed has given him enough to go for a while longer before he's really going to need sleep." John said as he waved the other three toward the room Danny was in. "He's a little cranky." John added as they pulled back the curtains and saw Danny strapped to the biobed.
"Marc, is this really needed?" Danny asked as he tried to raise his arms.
"If you weren't so stubborn, no it wouldn't be." John replied before turning to look at Marc and grin. "I liked him better when he was asleep."
"No lollipop for him then." Marc giggled.
"Har har har." Danny said with a sneer in his voice. "Look, I'm fine and taking up a bed that we need."
After appearing to ignore Danny, Marc strolled over to the controls to the biobed and released the restraints. "You get to come with us to the cafeteria while the staff continues to ship people out. You will eat something to give your system something to recover with and then you will find a nice quiet place to take at least a half hour nap."
"Whatever." Danny said as he sat up and rubbed his wrists. "I want to go over our status first though."
"I'll allow it." Marc said. "The call is actually Noah's though. With you under medical watch, he is in command right now."
"Gee, thanks Marc." Noah groaned as he grabbed Danny's hand and helped him to his feet. "I'll grab a P.A.D.D. if you promise to get some rest afterward."
"Like I have a choice." Danny grinned.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"This is good." Marc said as he tore into his slice of pizza.
"Yeah it is." Danny answered with a nod. "I actually feel a lot better now."
"Nice try. You are still going in for a nap though." Noah said as he tapped on the display of his hand held. "So we have just about 100 who have already been transported out and we're still sending small groups as each of the four hospitals in Iowa report their readiness. Not counting the ones we can't move yet that should just about clear us out before we have more incoming."
"Ark is still holding a group, right?" Danny asked as he began to rub the stiffness out of his neck.
"Yeah." Marc replied with his mouth full. "There are even more in the field waiting. Ark is actually still slowly feeding us a few at a time as we clear out so we can treat and ship."
"That works." Danny smiled. "Where do we stand as far as the ones we aren't shipping out?"
"Roughly 15 that aren't stable enough." Noah said as he tapped away. "Mike Reynolds is close; he just hasn't regained consciousness yet. Samantha Perry is still in surgery, her chest wound was worse than we originally thought. She's in OR #3 being worked on by Medbots Sixteen, Seventeen and Twenty." Noah got out as he took a bite of his pizza.
"Number Fourteen says that she's expected to recover though." Marc added.
"That's good news." Danny smiled. "Marc, what about that android boy that came in earlier? I haven't heard anything about him since he first was seen."
"Teddy?" Marc questioned.
"Yeah, what's his status?" Danny asked before looking at Noah.
"Um..." Noah replied as he tapped away some more. "Theodore Carr?"
"That's him. I think Austin took him after I got buried." Marc replied.
"He did." Noah said, pausing to read the report. "John Murphy took over recently. He reports that the direct cause of his weakened system is partly due to malnutrition." Noah continued as he read further. "Here it is. Subject in a state of forced partial low power shut down due to overload and failure of regeneration circuits caused by biological deficiencies due in part to neglect. Malnutrition, in addition to stress induced by physical, mental and sexual abuse are assumed to be contributing factors."
"Mind if we join you?" Chad asked as he and his entire group approached the table.
"Sure." Marc smiled. "We can go over the rest of this later, right guys?"
"That's cool." Danny said grabbing the P.A.D.D. from Noah and powering it down. "Every thing's pretty much handled."
"True." Noah smiled. "You guys been busy down here?" He asked as Chad's group sat down.
"Not as busy as we thought we'd be." Chad replied. "Mike and I sang a couple of songs for the kids earlier, Daniel's been playing hide and seek for about an hour now and Ryan's been lending a hand in the kitchen."
"You guys volunteered?" Danny asked as he looked at Chad.
"Oh yeah, Danny hasn't met you guys yet." Marc giggled. "Danny, these guys are Nickelback, they were touring with Bon Jovi when the Red Alert was issued. All the guys came straight here to see if they could help."
"Sweet." Danny smiled. "That explains the guitars."
"It's all we had with us." Mike smiled.
"Dan doesn't keep a spare drum set in his back pocket?" Marc asked with a laugh.
"No." Daniel Adair and Danny said at the same time before looking at each other and laughing.
"You play drums?" Daniel asked with a smile.
"Yeah." Danny replied sitting forward in his seat and resting his elbows on the table. "I could have my set transported in from the house if you wanna play."
"Nah." Chad said getting a frown as a reply from Daniel. "Most of our equipment isn't here."
"Maybe some other time bro." Daniel said with a smile. "We should get you to sit in during a practice or something sometime."
"That'd be fun." Danny said with a yawn as he noticed Sean and Cory approaching the table and Noah getting out of his seat so Cory could sit down. "Hey guys." He said with a weak smile before sliding over in his chair to make a little room and waving to Noah to sit back down. "Plant it Barnes, you're off duty."
"Slave driver." Noah grinned as he walked around the table and plopped down, instantly finding an arm wrapped around his shoulder.
"Better watch it bro. I'll have KC give you another black eye." Danny grinned before looking back over to Sean and Cory as they sat down. "How are you feeling Cor? You haven't had much recovery time and really should be taking it easy."
"I'm okay I guess; Sarek put Sean in charge until I recover." Cory replied. "I'm more worried about you guys though; I'm really sorry I dragged you into this mess."
"Dragged us into this?" Danny questioned as Marc tilted his head and scowled. "No one dragged anyone into anything, family sticks together through the good and bad times."
"Thanks bro." Cory replied softly. "It just hurts knowing that people I love are going to have nightmares for a long time because I didn't realize how bad it was until it was too late."
"There was no way any of us could have known what was going to happen Cor." Sean said softly. "I talked to Justy and Seth while you were in conference with Sarek about the D'Kyr; none of our intelligence picked up anything that could have warned us."
"They were going after Sammy publicly." Cory replied while shaking his head weakly. "We should have expected them to try something else since that was not working."
"Should have, could have... You know Cory, life is full of those." Marc said as he rubbed his eyes. "If I had only known how hard things could get when you guys first showed up at our house, I might have refused your help and missed out on making new family. I made that choice, just like everyone else in your family that is standing at your side and refusing to stand anywhere else. No matter how bad it could get."
"You're not even being fair to yourself Cory." Noah said in barely above a whisper. "Or to us by saying this was some kinda mistake."
Cory sighed. "You're right; I'm sorry bros. Ever since I came down here I've been going over everything that happened trying to find a way I could have done something different so nobody died. No matter how hard I try I can't do it though. The Federation has declared a worldwide Red Alert and has taken command of all Terran Armed Forces; then they gave command of those forces to Adam and his group. Last I heard at least four states have declared themselves 'Safe Haven' states and are doing everything they can to help us. Right now, the Lafayette and the D'Kyr are orbiting Earth at full Red Alert. Even with all of that, things still went bad."
"So stop blaming yourself. Stop thinking there was a better way." Noah said as a child in a sling ran past the table toward a small group of kids that were playing on one of the mattresses on the floor. "Next time you do, look at one of those kids. If we ALL weren't willing to sacrifice for this, where would they be right now?"
"He was right." Marc smiled before scanning the room. "I think we all have something to be really proud about here. Just think about how much good can actually come of this."
"Or already has." Danny smiled. "Care for a report Patriarch?"
"That's Sean's job; I'm on the sick list." Cory replied, his mood slightly improved with finally admitting he was not to blame. "This might qualify though. Did Austin tell you that you're a grandpa now Marc?"
"Excuse me?" Marc almost choked. "No!"
"You are old enough." Noah jabbed in quickly, earning a laugh from everyone at the table, except Marc.
Cory tilted his head towards Austin. "He adopted those two angels sitting on his lap."
"No kidding." Marc said as he looked at the three who were obviously enjoying some needed quiet cuddle time. "The fair skinned one almost looks as if he could be diagnosed with Albinism." Marc said tilting his head.
"Give it a rest Doctor." Noah laughed. "Danny, can we take his batteries out or something?"
"What, he does. Look at him." Marc almost whined.
"I'll save you the trouble; Conner's a full-scale albino." Cory replied. "If I understood Austin right there's some surgery he needs done for his eyes. That's between you two; I'm not getting near another operating table for a long time."
"I can talk to him about it." Marc replied. "I hope he doesn't intend to perform the procedure himself. He may have the programming, but his emotions get in the way."
"So that's why he was down here." Sean stated. "He changed the subject when I asked."
"Speaking of androids not in the ER, you have relation that came in on the D'Kyr Marc." Cory said as he turned to look at the three boys who were supervising the cuddle party on their pet. "They brought their pet Sehlat 'Marjur' down about an hour ago; Timmy already asked for one."
"Why doesn't that surprise me?" Marc laughed. "Are they M.A.R.C. series?"
"If you want, I can go get them so you can ask them yourself." Joe said as he walked up to the table. "You're starting to look better Cory."
Cory quickly twisted his head. "Hi Joe! If you don't mind that'd be great. We could do introductions all at once then."
"Definitely." Marc smiled as everyone at the table nodded in agreement.
"Danny." Chad spoke up as the rest of the band members began to stand up. "We're going to skip out on you for a few. Have a couple of calls to make and would really like to check up on a few of the kids we met today."
"Oh sure." Danny said with a smile. "You guys aren't taking off soon are you?"
"Not for a while." Daniel said with a grin. "I was actually hoping to get a look at this drum set you mentioned."
"Oh great." Noah moaned. "No one'll be sleeping tonight."
"Wah." Danny laughed. "Sweet, I'll look for you later."
"You got it." Daniel replied as the group made their way toward the door.
"Those guys are awesome in real life." Marc said as he watched them leave. "You should have seen them jump in and just start helping. It was unreal."
"They are cool." Noah nodded. "Even if they did bring in another Danny who likes to pound on things."
"So you've got a lotion shortage at your place too?" Sean giggled.
"What Danny does in private is his business." Cory added.
"Perverts." Danny laughed.
Just then Joe returned with the three boys. "You wished to see us Patriarch?" Sipek asked.
Cory nodded. "I'd like you guys to meet some more of your family. First let me give Joe a proper introduction. Guys, this is Judge Joe Lewis; he's the one that made it so I was able to live with Mom and my teddy bear again. The new blond here is Skirk. His black-haired brother is Syzik and his brown haired brother is Sipek. You guys already know me and Sean; the rest of the guys here are Marc, Danny, and Noah."
"Great to meet you." Noah said with a smile.
"Welcome to the family." Danny added before turning and looking at Marc; who appeared to be lost in thought. "Dr. Furst. Helloooo." He said with a giggle. "The mute says hi."
"I'm sorry." Marc said with a grin. "It's great to meet you. I just can't remember any of our kind being transported to Vulcan. Were you adopted?"
"It is an honor to meet you too." Sipek replied for all of them. "Our original owners ordered us to star in an off-Terra entertainment series. Upon termination of the series we were sold to another person who intended to use us for illegal films. Due to a mishap on the ship we were ejected in an escape pod and picked up by the D'Kyr. Our performance on the D'Kyr brought about the logical inclusion of the three of us into the ship's crew. The exact location escapes me at the moment; but you appear familiar Marc."
Cory smiled. "I bet I know why. He's Marc Furst; the entire M.A.R.C. series is named after him. He's also the R&D Director of the Clan AI Division. Danny there predates even him; he's the AI Division Head. Noah's the oddball; he's human but he's also Danny's second-in-command."
"I can see I've got a few months of catching up to do!" Joe chuckled. "Do you offer a speed course for remembering all of this Cory?"
Cory grinned. "Just talk to Kyle Joe; he'll get you up-to-date in about ten seconds."
Sipek tilted his head. "That would explain my recollection; I had an internal component failure twenty-seven years ago and was returned to Vision Industries for repair. At that time I overheard a conversation which stated the original M.A.R.C. was on the premises."
"Too bad our paths didn't cross." Marc smiled warmly. "I do remember reading about three of our own ordered for off planet entertainment, never thought I'd ever get to meet them though."
Skirk gave a small smile. "It is nothing like meeting the two people who made us possible. Patriarch Short has told us that we should attempt to be less formal with family; due to our immersion in Vulcan culture for over a decade it will take some time to reacquire our dormant emotional responses fully. I wish to apologize in advance if we seem detached for a while."
Cory giggled. "That reminds me Marc; is there any way you can reprogram them to call me 'Cory'? Some of the munchkins are trying to be like their new 'space heroes' and are addressing me as 'Patriarch' now!"
"I'll look into it Patriarch." Marc giggled.
Cory shook his head. "Thanks a lot bro. Danny; since your R&D department head has gone senile, do you have any good news?"
"Nothin new." Danny replied after a brief stretch. "With all the external help we are receiving we should be able to have this location shut back down by morning so we can get back to renovating this place."
"Thanks to Rylan, that's not going to take long." Noah added. "Dude, they cleared the asbestos and then just started going crazy on the wiring up there." Noah directed toward Cory. "Phil is havin a blast just watching them."
"They who?" Cory asked, tilting his head. "How can you remove asbestos with people here?"
"Oh sorry." Noah laughed. "Ark sent four Techbots here when we found out there was a small amount of airborne asbestos in the areas we were hoping to use. They scanned the entire building and teleported it all out, then just started fixing stuff on their own. You should see them work!"
"Ahhh!" Cory giggled. "Maybe I should talk to Ark about borrowing one after you guys have finished with them; when Austin starts wrestling with his brothers things get messed up quick!"
"I don't know." Noah laughed. "Three of them are playing up on the Sixth floor right now."
"Playing?" Danny turned and asked, tilting his head.
"Yeah." Noah said as he sat back in his seat. "They started ripping out the walls and the old wiring. It looks like a bunch of kids in a playground. Seriously."
"Kinda like you and Caleb going through Microsoft code?" Cory asked with a giggle.
"Yeah, kinda." Noah answered with a grin. "We stopped when we were finished though. One is still finishing up in the brig area and the other three just started goin house upstairs. They even stole the blueprints right out of Phil's hands. It was seriously funny."
Cory nodded. "That actually is good; from the sounds of it that is one less thing you guys need to worry about." He glanced over at Danny, who appeared to be on the edge of nodding off. "Tell you what; why don't you guys get Sleeping Beauty here to a bed; we'll start getting everyone outta here so you can close this place back up. We'll talk tomorrow sometime; right now I think the only reason I ain't passed out for the night is Ty trying to give my head a chance to sort all of this out. I'm gonna have to pin down Kyle and have him teach me how he does it."
"A bed?" Danny asked opening his eyes wide. "I don't look that tired, do I?"
"All of us do Danny; and from the looks of it I'd say you're pulling a Cory and trying to take it all on yourself." Sean giggled.
"Yeah right." Danny smiled. "Like he doesn't?" He said pointing at Noah. "I mean look at the bag under his eye." He got out as Noah covered his black eye and tried not to laugh.
Cory shook his head. "Y'all are nuts. Sean and I are gonna formally introduce Skirk and his brothers to a few people then we'll get everyone we can outta your hair. If y'all need anything get a hold of Sean; Tommy found out that Grandfather Sarek took me off duty so he refuses to even give me a chance to do any work."
Sean grinned. "That's our little brother for ya; hard headed as ever!"
"Yeah, it's back to work I guess." Danny replied as the group got to their feet and stretched. "I'll report in as soon as we have some kind of a time table figured out here."
Sean giggled. "Report in tomorrow when the rest of us can think without Ty messing with our heads to keep us sane. That's an order!"
"SIR! YES SIR!" Danny and Noah chorused seconds before Marc playfully slapped them both in the back of the head and pushed them toward the door. "Sean." Marc said with a smile. "Make sure Cory gets rest, okay?"
"You got it Doc!" Sean replied.
"It was nice meeting you guys." Marc said turning to the newest additions to the family. "We need to get together sometime and trade some stories."
"It is an honor Sir; we look forward to sharing the experience." Syzik replied.
Marc shook his head and grinned. "The proper response would be more like 'Sounds cool, can't wait' or something like that. You guys really need to recover your original protocols."
"Look who's talking." Danny giggled before running for the door.
"Oh, I'll recover your protocols dork!" Marc yelled before breaking out in a chase.
"Wouldn't they make a cute couple?" Noah said in just over a whisper to Cory.
"They're not a couple?" Skirk commented, overhearing Noah's whisper.
Noah snickered as he wrapped his arm around Skirk's shoulder. "No they aren't, but we're working on that."
Skirk grinned. "If android Elders are like Vulcan Elders you will be required to work very hard; they are very much set in their ways at times."
"Nah." Noah laughed. "I'll explain it to you sometime."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"So." Noah said as he walked back to the busy ER, finding Danny behind the desk at the nurses station.
"So?" Danny questioned, looking up at Noah.
"What member of security would you like me to have come and restrain you?" Noah asked; an evil grin forming on his face.
"Excuse me?" Danny said in shock as he stood up from his seat. "For what?"
"You are off duty and under orders to get some sleep. Or did you forget?" Noah said as he almost failed to stifle a giggle. "Maybe two security officers. I could have them rough you up a little too. That'd be fun to watch."
"You're kidding, right?" Danny questioned as he watched Noah pull out his communicator. "JESUS DUDE! I'm goin... Damn!"
"Good boy." Noah said, finally laughing and putting his communicator away. "The consultation office is quiet, dark and has a really comfortable chair in it." He said with a grin. "March!"
"Does Caleb know how much of a control freak you really are?" Danny asked as they entered the room and Noah led him right up to the chair.
"Yup." Noah smiled as he gave Danny a push, getting him to sit down; causing them both to laugh. "I'll come back and get you in about an hour bro. Get some real sleep, okay?"
"I will." Danny said with a yawn as Noah walked back toward the door. "Hey Barnes!" Danny said with a grin.
"What now?" Noah asked with a smile as he reached the door.
"Thanks." Danny replied, getting a nod from Noah as he closed the door. The second Danny's head hit the back of the soft chair, his eyes fell shut out of exhaustion.
"Ah Danny, what's your opinion?" Tyne's voice loudly echoed in his ears as if a part of his dream were coming to life.
"Yes, yes I think it's very important. What do you think Danny? Should we do it?" Cyna's voice added, finally getting Danny to open his eyes.
"Huh? What the..." Danny gasped as he nearly fell out of his chair. After rubbing his bloodshot eyes and blinking several times to try to focus, He looked around at the group at the table and simply shook his head. "Did I miss something here?"
"Oh don't tell me you were sleeping!?" Tyne said trying to sound like he was offended.
Kyle fought off giggles as he waved at Danny.
Danny mumbled as he looked around the table. "I was asleep, at the hospital..." He began as Kyle lost the battle and began laughing. "Yeah, you'll pay leech." He smiled before looking back toward Tyne. "Seer, I believe the answer to your question is, yes. We should definitely not take naps with leeches around."
"So that's yes to wild sex in the pool, but only when the leeches are not around," Cyna said purposely ignoring half of the comment. "I'll have the papers drawn up, thanks Danny."
"Oh..." Danny said with a yawn and a stretch before attempting to straighten out his shirt. "Glad to help." He giggled. "Any chance we could have a coffee break now?"
"We're just starting Danny, no breaks I'm afraid," replied Tyne. "But I'm sure we can get you a caffeine injection."
"Whatever works." Danny smiled as he pulled his chair closer to the table. "So, why are we meeting?"
"Now that a certain SOMEONE is done messing with people....." Cory stated while looking directly at Kyle.
Kyle tried to appear innocent. "Tyne SAID we needed everyone here!"
"Right, so now that we're all here what should we begin with?" said Tyne.
"Well we've got a list," Cyna said as a clipboard appeared in his hands. "We should probably start with the recent events, which will start with the attacks on the Clan, then move to the attacks on the Ark."
"Do we have any more information on this FCC other than the basics we've already got?" asked Tyne.
"Ark has been complaining about the amount of bodies it dumped," said Nyo. "If that counts."
"Um... That's my fault I think." Danny said as he lowered his eyes.
"They had to go somewhere." Cory replied. "I haven't had a chance to see what Clan Intelligence has found out yet, so I can't give any more information."
"We're still putting the data together." Kyle added. "The Clan Special Forces Team is following up on some leads to get more information, and once everyone has recovered from the shock of today's events we'll be able to put together a detailed report."
"That's pretty much what I figured, but I thought I'd ask anyway," said Tyne.
"Actually, I have something to add," Nyo said as he placed the camera he had been carrying with him onto the table. "I have reason to believe the attacks on the Clan and the attacks on the Ark were connected. This camera was found in CIC about an hour ago, it was phase shifted so it wouldn't be detected. It belongs or rather belonged to Axon. From what else we found that lead us to this camera we believe he has been watching the Clan as well as the Ark Compound for some time. While he may not be directly involved with the FCC, Ark thinks he might have been pushing them towards more extreme actions through his contacts."
"Have those cameras been found anywhere else Nyo?" Danny asked, now finally appearing to be more awake.
"Some of the connections we found were dead, meaning something happened to the camera but most of the ones we found were still active," said Nyo. "Ark is working on tracing the dead ones. While the others link to different locations where we have either visited often or have people stationed. Three of the active ones were in the Ark Compound itself, two were here in CIC; two of the dead ones were found to link to the AI Hospital, though we have only traced it and have not found the cameras yet. With the state of the building though I'm sure it wasn't hard to damage the cameras there. Another one of the live ones was watching a house in Montana. Three more go to different locations inside of Camp Little Eagle, which I'll be deactivating soon. The rest of the active cameras go to locations around the world, watching leaders here and there. We still have two more dead links to trace so I don't know where those are yet."
"I bet I know which house in Montana..." Cory muttered.
"I do too." Kyle replied. "Nyo; you might want to check with Xedyan and Miah to see if either of them can help you with locating them and spotting them if they get replaced. I'd like to get with you to check out how he did it so I can try to think of something too."
"We actually have scanners that can find them, we just don't normally install them in our locations," said Nyo. "I'll be looking into anything I can though for fixing this problem. Thank you for the suggestions."
"Hopefully that'll take care of any planned attacks but what are we doing about security in general?" asked Tyne.
"I've been working with one of the new security teams at the Ark Compound for the last few hours," replied Rusty. "While they still need more training they had some good ideas for keeping the compounds more secure. Ark also had some suggestions for equipment we could be using to detect anything that comes near any of the compounds within a hundred mile radius. While the hundred miles might be a bit much here it wouldn't hurt to have it. If nothing else Ark can keep an eye on it if we set up the grids."
"I like that," said Tyne. "But as soon as we have more security personnel able I want to start or double our patrols."
"Oh that reminds me, we had a Phasenmorph die," Cyna added. "The poor thing did its job up until it ran out of energy; it was Adam's Phasenmorph."
Cory hung his head, and audibly sobbed before commenting. "I saw it happen. The idiot strapped a live grenade to his chest then jumped on Adam. All I could do was watch as he tried to kill my brother."
"His Phasenmorph saved his life." Danny said as he looked around the table. "Without that protection, I know he would never have survived that blast."
Sean wrapped his arms tightly around Cory. "He didn't die babe; our bro didn't die. Don't think about it right now; you'll hurt yourself if you do."
"I'm trying."Cory sobbed as he pulled Sean's arms tightly around him.
"Cor; let Ty help you bro." Kyle said softly. "Don't try to deal with your pain alone this time; we love you bro, we're here to help."
Cory nodded his head, and a few seconds later looked up and over at Kyle. "Thanks bro."
Danny watched silently before turning his attention toward Tyne. "I feel bad that the little guy was lost, I mean you guys may not look at them the same way some of the kids do but we may need to address Adam's feelings towards receiving a replacement." He said with a sigh. "I'll also wait to get together with Marc and Nyo regarding the issues of an AI and a Phasenmorph integrating. Now that I've see what those little creatures are capable of, and now that we know just how bad, bad can get; it would be irresponsible of us to not look deeper into it."
Xain nodded. "Your suggestion is logical Danny. Considering the probable outcome if a Phasenmorph had not been present; I believe it would be logical for us to investigate the possibility of increasing the distribution of Phasenmorphs to those who have anything more than a minute possibility of becoming subject to the attention of the aggressors which have targeted us."
"I don't want anyone walking around with a Phasenmorph if they don't have any training," Tyne said slowly. "But I agree that more of us need to be carrying them. I'd also like to look into a way to increase the ability of the Phasenmorph for situations like what we ran into today."
"I'll have Javyk look into it," said Nyo. "After I give him a basic run down of what not to try with a Phasenmorph, I think I'm the only one that really knows anything about how to modify them."
"Good, we can put his talents to use for what they were intended," replied Tyne. "Oh, speaking of talents I'm not sure if any of you noticed but we have a new Council member with us. I've asked Brant to be the Head of Council Human and Environment Affairs, making him Council Ingenium. And even before I gave him the title he already started working to help us out."
Brant blushed before responding. "Thanks Tyne; I'm still kinda in awe here. I know we've been given a lot of help from people, but I've been approached with an offer from somewhere I didn't expect. The Moroi here in Florida have been silently backing us since the Clan moved here; in fact they've went so far as to deport or send to the next life any local Moroi that did not accept the responsibility. The 'Elder' Moroi for this area has offered to have the Moroi in Florida perform intelligence for the Clan. He did say they would not act on it unless there was immediate danger or we ask them to solve the issue. I'd been waiting to discuss it with Tyne before I gave him an answer; when I brought it up is when Tyne told me about my appointment here."
"I wanted to know if anyone had any objection before we tell Brant to give him the go ahead," said Tyne as he looked around the table. "So...any objections or other views?"
"I believe the assistance would be beneficial." Xain stated.
"Well unless anyone has anything else to add I believe you have the go ahead Brant," Tyne concluded. "Oh, that also reminds me, if any of you see Brant walking around in the day don't freak. We recovered a device from the encounter we had with Larry Malvya that he was giving to his Moroi. It negates the problems that Moroi have with the sunlight and reverses their sleep schedule. It powers itself using energy from the host so it won't fail on him either. But I just wanted to let you know that Brant has one of these devices so don't panic if you see him up and about tomorrow."
Kyle smiled as he commented "That's awesome!"
"Thanks Tyne." Cory added.
"Um, Tyne?" Danny asked as he scratched his head. "Is that device something that Brant can't easily loose? I mean, there's no danger of it coming off say, mid afternoon while he's in the sun out with his family or anything. Is there?" He asked looking back toward Brant. "I just wanna make sure he's gonna be safe."
"While it has an arm band, if he puts it under his shirt on his actual skin it seems to cling to the skin as long as the device is active," replied Tyne. "And it's not easy to deactivate since it's running off of the body. He should be safe. It also appears to be weather proof. If you'd rather run more tests on it before allowing him to use it though I'll understand, but Javyk and I couldn't find any drawbacks."
"No, I'll trust you guys on this. I was just worried that we could put him in danger if it was easy to separate from the person wearing it. Just wanted to be sure." Danny replied as he sat back in his chair.
"Thanks for worrying though Danny." Brant said, obviously overtaken by the concern shown towards him.
"No prob bro." Danny smiled warmly.
"So, since we have that done...can I bring up something that's been worrying me?" asked Cyna.
"Go ahead," said Tyne.
"What the heck is up with Kyle?" Cyna began. "Am I out of the loop on something? I don't have any records of him being teleported anywhere yet here he his, I've got strange readings all over the sensors but no physical representation of that. Can someone clear this up for me?"
"Yeah; it's kinda freaky when he decides to take you somewhere but don't ask anyone to do it." Cory replied. "What's up with that bro?"
Kyle giggled. "That's nothing; Ty can do that too."
Nyo frowned, "What do you mean Tyler can do it too? What did you do to Tyler?"
Kyle got serious as he replied. "Miah is still figuring out the details; basically when Ty and I took a nap, my brain decided that since I was the only Mikyvis in existence it was logical that the person who means the most to me in the whole universe should join me in forming our species."
"I guess that means he's not asexual," Cyna mumbled with a grin. "He had to convert someone so they could continue the species."
Tyne glared at Cyna as he replied, "It won't happen every time you sleep next to someone, will it?"
Kyle shook his head. "No; I was really worried about losing Ty because of what I'm turning into. That kinda helped push it. I went back and checked out what happened; I can control it and actually can do it any time if I need to."
Tyne was quiet for a few seconds before finally speaking, "That's a power you need to be careful with, Kyle. That can cause a lot of unbalance if you use it too much. Don't convert anyone else without at least running it through us first please. Tyler is fine since he's your partner but that's something we need to be more careful with then even Vifer conversions."
Kyle nodded. "I agree; it would take a pretty extreme emergency before I'd consider it. If someone asks for it they need to ask everyone here; I ain't gonna take that responsibility."
"I'll be holding you to that," replied Tyne.
"Has Tyler been checked out by a Medbot?" asked Cyna.
"Okay Tyne." Kyle replied. "Cyna, he's been checked out by the one Ferox who knows more about my new species than anyone else. I'm not sure if a Medbot could figure him or me out Cuz."
"I'd still like him to be checked out by a Medbot," said Cyna. "They can determine whether or not he's stable. We don't want him walking around with a chance of blowing up."
"Since Kyle's never been stable, and Kyle made Ty what he is, chances are pretty good ...." Cory said with a small smile.
"I can see Ty's helping you bro. By the way...bite me!" Kyle replied. He then turned to Cyna. "I actually agree Cuz; I've been watchin him and he seems to be staying stable as far as this plane goes. I didn't know Medbots could do that though; it might not be a bad idea for them to check both of us out so they can set up a base reference for the future."
"That's a good idea," said Cyna. "I'll make sure you guys make it to the Medical Bay tomorrow."
Tyne grinned, "You'll make sure?"
"If they don't I'll make sure they never forget again," replied Cyna. "They could wake up in some very strange places."
"Right, so do we need to cover anything else regarding Kyle and Tyler?" Nyo asked as he looked around the room.
"Yes actually, if Miah has a list of what Kyle knows how to do that would be a good thing to have around," added Tyne.
"One thing you need to be careful of with Miah." Kyle interjected. "He was Levis' Socius and is not taking it well at all. Be careful how you approach the subject; they were working together trying to figure me out."
"Thanks Kyle," Cyna said with an understanding smile. "We'll keep that in mind when we talk to him."
"So, what else do we need to discuss?" asked Nyo.
"Wellllll," grinned Cyna. "Speaking of Socius we have a growing list of review requests."
"Yeah -- we could even start with the two couples that are already here!" Kyle said with a grin.
Xain looked between Kyle and Cyna. "By any chance is there a genetic tendency to plot in your bloodline Cyna?"
"Yes Xain, more than you'll ever know," Tyne said as he shifted in his seat uncomfortably, "This is going to be strange, I can't review myself and I'm not sure if Cyna is allowed to head the review. Regardless, I haven't done a Socius review in a long time. Are we going to be performing any marriages after the reviews?"
Kyle's grin got bigger. "Tyne; do you remember what you told me earlier? I think I can cover for you, unless the start of the meeting automatically canceled it. Am I thinking that right Ark?"
< Your 'Voice' authority technically ended at the beginning of the meeting as that is what was stated for the limits. But in this case any of the other Council members can volunteer to head a Socius review in Tyne's place. Cyna would not be able to since in life he was Tyne's last Socius. If you wish to volunteer to head that review, and no one objects, then you are welcome to. >
To everyones shock, Kyle's reply was serious. "Thank you Ark. I actually would like the honor of paying Tyne back in a little way for saving me from destroying my own head."
"Awesome, the job's yours then," Cyna replied with a large grin.
Tyne blushed and looked down at the table, "I'd rather not go first though."
Cyna rolled his eyes, "You said the same thing when we did it."
Kyle smiled once again. "This time you can be second Tyne; I'd like to see how it's done with another couple so I get it right."
"I didn't think of that," said Tyne. "I suppose that works."
"Great!" Cyna said excitedly as he bounced around in his chair. "So, who's first then?"
"I think Cory and Sean should be first." Brant replied seriously. "They're the reason we all ended up being here."
"I agree with your logic." Xain told Brant. "Those-who-are-my-brothers would have never become known to me without Cory and Sean."
"I agree too," added Rusty. "None of us would be here if it wasn't for them. They're the reason we all found each other, the reason we were rescued, and the reason in some cases why we strive to be better then we are. They're the foundation of the family they started; I think it's only right that they be the first."
Danny nodded. "Rusty's got it right."
"Very well," Tyne said as he stood up. "Cory, Sean, are the two of you ready?"
Sean gave Cory a reassuring squeeze. "I'm ready Tyne."
"So am I." Cory said with a blush. "And Kyle; tell your boyfriend to get his mind out of the gutter. This is serious."
Kyle nodded. "Already taken care of Bro. He promises to wait until your honeymoon for any more comments like that."
Cyna giggled causing Tyne to glare at him. "What? It's funny!" Cyna said, not even trying to stop himself from laughing.
Tyne just grinned and shook his head, "Alright, let's begin then."
"Do you remember where to start?" asked Cyna.
"As difficult as our review was, yes I remember," replied Tyne as he straightened up and looked over at Sean and Cory. After clearing his throat he began, "Socius, a form of marriage but there's more than that to it. Socius isn't just marriage but a kind of permanent relationship between two people and it's considered just as permanent if not more permanent than marriage. As laid out by Jyris Oraculum, founder of the Founder Council, this bond is never considered broken. Nothing, not even the Seer of the Council can grant the termination of a Socius once entered into. It is because of this that the Council itself regulates and controls who is fit to be bonded, requiring that those involved be completely reviewed by the Council. If for any reason the Council finds either of the people involved to be incompatible in any way then the request for Socius is not granted. But this is not just a simple question and answer session, there are no right questions that can determine if we should grant Socius so we use another method, telepathy. Those wishing to be reviewed must willingly open their minds to the one heading the review and then the one heading the review will pass their findings to the rest of the Council after the scan is complete. But it's not just memories that we scan, in fact memories have very little to do with it. Rather scenarios are projected into the minds of those being reviewed and how their mind reacts to those scenarios is what is looked at. This isn't an easy thing to go through, your mind will believe what it's told until the scan is complete, but it's for a good reason. For it's not who you are underneath but what you do that defines who you really are and as such your reactions state your true feelings. That being said, do you still wish to continue?"
"I do." Cory and Sean expressed in unison.
"Tyne?" Kyle interrupted. "Ty said to tell you he's putting a temporary block on Cory's emotional reactions to recent events. He's backed out of Cory's head until you are done; then he'll go back in, remove the block, and resume feeding it to Cory in small doses so it does not mess up his head."
Tyne frowned, "I don't think you understand then Kyle. What do you think I'll be projecting for scenarios? They are meant to tax you, stress you, and see how you deal with life at your low points as well as your high points. This isn't something easy or simple; there's a reason I remember mine and cringe. I know today has been hellish and to add to that wouldn't be wanted but it's emotional responses I'm looking for."
Kyle held up his hand for a few seconds then replied. "I just asked Ty what he did exactly. Cory, you're using all of your head except the one particular thing that happened that your brain is overloading on." He turned to Tyne and added "Ty says all of Cory's reactions will be normal for him; until he has had time to talk with the three new Vifers that particular memory of what happened is causing stability problems."
"Alright, I suppose that's good enough," mumbled Tyne.
"Cory, are you sure you're ready for this?" Cyna asked looking very concerned. "Tyne's going to be rather rough."
Cory closed his eyes for a minute then opened them and replied. "I trust Tyne with my life Cyna. If I can't handle it now, what's saying I could later? I'm ready Tyne."
"Just remember that it's okay to cry, I did," Cyna added as he turned to Tyne. "The review is yours, Seer."
Tyne nodded his head and then focused on Sean and Cory, throwing all of his attention at them. Over the next few minutes he proceeded to project visions of loss, anger, joy, sadness, guilt, and depression into their minds. Each one was evident on Sean and Cory's faces as the situations they were seeing changed. Tyne kept at it until he couldn't stand to throw any more scenarios at them without breaking down himself. After stopping Tyne quickly gathered the resulting data in his mind and then finally he released Sean and Cory from his projected attention. Tyne sat back down, feeling exhausted and sighed, "Give me a few minutes to review what I gathered, and then I'll give it to the rest of you to do the same. Cory, Sean, the two of you can relax for a few minutes."
Cory and Sean held each other tightly as they both recovered from the stress they had just went through; each drawing strength from the presence of the other. Kyle closed his eyes as he silently went back and reviewed what Tyne had done; all the time making sure that Tyler did not get wind of the process. Danny and Brant watched as everyone prepared for the next part.
Tyne closed his eyes for a few minutes, thinking silently to himself before he finally opened his eyes and looked around the table, "I'm done reviewing what I've found, I am pushing the results towards everyone else. To receive it just open your mind and the information will appear in your mind."
"That's rough!" Danny muttered as he reviewed the information.
"Woah; you didn't miss anything." Brant added.
Kyle tilted his head as he reviewed Tyne's condensed version of what Cory and Sean had 'seen'. He quietly did some internal projections based on that information, then straightened his head. "I've decided my vote."
"Does anyone have anything they would like to add or any questions they would like to ask of Cory and Sean?" asked Tyne.
Brant nodded. "I have one thing I didn't see which I know from experience is a possibility. If both of you were to be given extended lives, to the point that each of you appears not to change, can you still live with the commitment you are making. Think about it really good before you reply."
Both Cory and Sean were quiet as they mulled over their thoughts on the subject. Sean replied first. "I told Cory I'll love him forever long before I learned how long forever can turn into. I still stand by my promise to him."
Cory smiled before adding his reply. "I've lived with Sean most of my life; we argue a little, have fun a lot, and know what little things each of us does that the other has learned to ignore. After my stay in the home, I learned that even being apart Sean did not change. Everything good AND bad about him is what makes him the one I want to spend my life with; no matter how long it is."
Tyne nodded and then looked around the room, "Is anyone opposed to granting Socius to Cory and Sean?"
"My projections match their responses; I approve." Kyle replied seriously.
"I approve." Brant replied with a nod to Sean and Cory.
"Add me to the approve list." Danny said.
"I believe the union is logical." Xain stated.
"Me too," added Rusty.
"I see no reason not to grant it," said Nyo.
"I approve," Cyna grinned.
Tyne nodded, "After having put you through a very difficult and taxing review this Council finds you both to be fit to be bonded. I approve and as Seer of the Founder Council I grant Socius to Cory and Sean Short. You may be joined at any time, just let me know when you want the ceremony to be performed."
"Thank you Seer." Cory and Sean replied.
"I think after the Council Meeting; something good to end the day." Sean added.
"Do the two of you know what vows you'll be speaking to each other?" asked Cyna.
Cory blushed as he responded. "We've discussed that a million times since we found out it was possible. We'd like to do something traditional; the problem is we don't know what Traditional Socius Vows are."
"Get with me after the meeting and I'll help you out with that," said Cyna. "I can tell all about both Traditional Founder Vows as well as non-traditional."
"We had very traditional vows for ours," added Tyne.
"Speaking of that, you're next to be reviewed," Nyo said as he started to look through a list of people they still had to review before the end of the meeting. "Are you ready?"
"I...I suppose so," Tyne replied as he looked over at Rusty. "Are you ready for this Rusty?"
Rusty grinned, "I'm ready when you are babe."
Tyne nodded and looked over at Kyle. "Kyle, do you have any questions or do you understand what you need to do from watching me?"
Kyle nodded seriously. "I went back and followed what you did; I believe I understand it now. Let me know when you are both ready."
Tyne slipped his hand into Rusty's and gripped it tightly as he nodded his head, indicating that he was ready. Rusty smiled, squeezed Tyne's hand, and nodded as well.
Kyle closed his eyes; more to keep from being distracted than anything else. He followed the procedure Tyne had used on Cory and Sean; filing the reactions in a separate part of his brain to be combined once done. After he was sure of their possible reactions, Kyle opened his eyes. "Okay Tyne and Rusty; you guys can relax now. It'll take me a minute to break this all down for everyone."
Tyne pulled himself into a ball and nodded as he started to mumble to himself. Rusty wrapped his arms around Tyne and kissed his forehead, "okay Kyle. Thank you."
"You're welcome Rusty." Kyle replied. "Is everyone else ready?"
"Fire away Kyle," said Nyo.
"This should be interesting," added Cyna. "Judging by Tyne's reaction though I'm afraid to know what you projected."
Once everyone had indicated their readiness, Kyle pushed the results out to the rest of the members. "Let me know when you have a decision."
Cyna grinned as he went over the data, "Not bad for your first review. Somehow I feel bad for those being reviewed though. You definitely were not easy on them. But regardless, I vote to grant their request for Socius."
"I agree with Cyna," Nyo said looking some what shocked. "On all of it."
"We really need to talk Leech." Danny commented. "I vote to grant it too."
Xain and Brant both signaled their approval too; both wearing expressions that made it obvious they did not expect what they got.
"Jeeze Kyle!" Cory said as he shook his head. "I approve of the granting of Socius."
Kyle turned to Tyne and Rusty. "After having put you through a very difficult and taxing review this Council finds you both to be fit to be bonded. I approve and as Voice of the Seer of the Founder Council I grant Socius to Tyne Oraculum and Rusty Timberlake."
Rusty finally got Tyne to relax and un-ball himself and return his hug. Feeling Tyne relax against him Rusty sighed contently, "Thank you Kyle. Tyne thanks you too."
"I'm surprised you got him out of his ball that fast," said Cyna. "It took me two hours after our review. I guess you're just good like that."
"So let's see who's next on the list shall we?" Nyo said as he picked up his handheld again. "Adam and JJ are next."
"By the time we find them Tyne should be fine," Rusty added.
"I've got them standing by." Kyle stated. "Before I bring them in, I think we need to discuss something. Cory, Ty is gonna let you discuss this without him stepping in unless he sees that you're losing control. I think there might be a new issue; Adam is now a Vifer while JJ is not. What should our response be if that is brought up as an issue by them?"
"I can't very well say no to JJ," Tyne said as he straightened up in his seat and blinked a few times. "I went Vifer so I could be with the one I loved."
"I'm with Tyne on this one," said Rusty. "For the same reason."
Nyo frowned, "It's not an easy thing being Vifer though. When they say a long time in regards to living they really do mean a long time. I'm over fifty thousand years old myself. I know JJ is going to want to do it so that he can be with Adam but he needs to understand that it can't be undone and forever really is a long time."
Kyle nodded. "I think Tyne will be able to determine if they really can handle that; his scenarios can be adjusted to take it into account."
Cory tilted his head as he silently used Sean's presence to keep control. "In their case I think they can do it. We also need to think about Tommy and Justy though; if we allow it for one this time the others might expect it."
"Cory's logic matches my conclusions." Xain added. "My projections using the data I have available show a high probability that if allowed all concerned would handle the duration acceptably."
Brant grinned. "Shrink the big words and Xain just spoke my thoughts too."
"They've got the personalities for making it." Danny added.
"I say we grant it, it's their choice to make," said Tyne. "I'd just prefer them to either be in or mostly through puberty."
"If it can be added to their Socius review like Kyle suggested and they get approved, with that in there, then I approve," Nyo replied.
"I agree with Nyo and Kyle," said Rusty.
"I think that's everyone; unless you need an official vote I'm ready to bring them in on your command Seer." Kyle stated.
"Go ahead," replied Tyne. "We still have a lot of people to go, each just as important, so let's get rolling."
Kyle nodded, and a few seconds later Adam and JJ appeared in the room.
Cory stood up, and as everyone watched he made his way over to them, silently pulling both into a hug. "I'm sorry..." Cory began to whisper.
Adam cut him off gently. "Shhh .... there's nothing to be sorry for. If you and JJ hadn't forced me to get a Phasenmorph I wouldn't be here now. That's twice you've saved me bro; stop beating yourself up."
JJ gave Cory a squeeze. "Adam's right bro. I know what can happen when you start blaming yourself; I had Ark run over the entire event for me to see it for myself and I promise you that you did everything you could do. Get that brain cell of yours back on track; all of us hurt when you are hurting yourself."
"I'll try." Cory whispered. "Since you don't hate me like I was afraid you guys would I feel a little better now."
"Get back to your cuddlebear." Adam said with a smile. "We both still love you as much as ever bro; we can talk about it more later."
Cory gave them both one last squeeze then made his way back to Sean.
Tyne slowly stood up, doing his best to keep his balance, and addressed Adam and JJ, "Welcome, Adam it's good to see you up and about again. But let me begin; you've been brought before this Council because one of you put in a request to be reviewed for Socius, the Founder form of marriage. Do either of you feel that you are not ready for this kind of review?"
"Does my being Vifer now have any bearing on it?" Adam asked quickly.
"Don't worry about that Babe." JJ replied just as fast. "I've already thought it over. Seer; I wish to petition the Council for permission to be made a Vifer."
Adam was speechless, which gave Tyne time to reply.
"It has already been brought to our attention that you would ask such a thing," replied Tyne. "As such we have agreed to integrate a few extra things into your review that would also test whether or not you could handle being Vifer. You won't know the difference but it will be in there. If you pass the review then your Vifer request is approved."
Both boys nodded. "I'm ready" they replied in chorus.
Over the next few minutes Tyne projected different scenarios into their minds, testing them and pushing them. Afterwards he gathered and shared with everyone else what he found. Having found them ready for Socius everyone was then asked to go over another set of data to determine if JJ should be allowed to become Vifer. No one objected in the least bit, especially since the data proved that both of them would be happier and healthier together through the years rather than apart. After telling JJ that he could report to the Ark Medical bay at any point to have the Vifer procedure done, Tyne had Kyle bring in Kelly and Tommy, as well as Justy and Dean, to have them reviewed for Vifer approval for Tommy and Justy. The Vifer approval went faster then the Socius review and a few minutes later they were sent back out with approval to have the procedure done. Tyne then had Kyle bring in the next couple, Travis and Gabriel. The Council quickly reviewed them as well as Clint and Crystal, Gavin and Josiah, and Nyo and Stepan finding all the couples ready for Socius before they came to their last couple.
Tyne sighed and looked over at Kyle, "Kyle, you and Tyler are the last couple that we need to review today. You can go ahead and bring him in so we can start."
Kyle smiled. "One cute Mikyvis coming up!" Kyle scooted back, and two seconds later Tyler appeared directly in front of him. Kyle immediately reached out and pulled Ty back onto his lap. "Yummmm ... You smell GOOOD!" Kyle giggled.
Ty blushed and giggled as he replied. "I'm in charge of making cookies! Helen's lettin' me do it all myself!"
Kyle turned Ty's head to give him a kiss. "You're my favorite cookie." he whispered as he leaned in.
"Hey, save that for later," shouted Cyna. "If I can't have any then while you're here neither can you."
Tyne grinned, "Cookies? Weren't you supposed to be guarding the door?"
Tyler smiled as he replied. "That's easy - CD and Calen are helping me. I'm popping back and forth, and I'm listening in their heads when I'm away from the door. They're feeling really good about helping guard their parents and Uncles. I'm still watching through them even though I'm in here." Tyler paused, then a plate of still-hot cookies appeared on the table. "Helen sent these; she says don't work so hard."
"I can't have those either," mumbled Cyna.
Nyo rolled his eyes, "I'm sure you'll get over it. We aren't going to give up a snack for you; sex maybe but a snack? I don't think so."
Tyne shook his head and grinned, "Right...so Tyler, we had Kyle bring you here because he put in a request while you guys were on the moon to have a Socius review the next time the Council met. So here we are and we've come to the two of you in our list. Do you feel up to a review?"
Ty nodded. "I've been waiting! Besides; my cuddlebunny here needs to know I was serious when I told him I was keepin him no matter what."
With a snicker, Brant and Danny looked at each other and in the sappiest voice they both said; "Awww... Cuddlebunny, how cute." Earning a few snickers from the room.
Kyle giggled. "You're just jealous cuz' I'm getting some and you ain't!"
"Oh no, I got some." Danny laughed as he held up his cookie and Brant snatched it out of his hand.
"You had some." Brant laughed as he picked a chocolate chip off of it and popped it in his mouth just before Danny was able to grab it back.
< Cuddlebunny, that is a new one. I shall add that to the list along with cuddlebear. I am noticing a trend in Clan naming conventions for significant others. >
Cyna rolled his eyes, "We'll have to work on their creativity then."
Tyne smiled and continued, "Do you know what is involved Tyler for this review?"
Tyler nodded. "Kyle filled me in already."
"Awesome, so do you think that you're ready then?" said Tyne as he looked back and forth between Kyle and Tyler. "And that question is for both of you."
"Yes." both boys chorused as Ty climbed off of Kyle and into a nearby chair.
Tyne sat up straight and focused on Kyle and Tyler as much as he could throwing all of his attention on them. He proceeded to project scenario after scenario into their heads using everything he had, knowing he didn't need to do this again and that he needed to give it more to make them believe it. He immediately found that he was right to do so because it felt harder to project into their heads since he didn't use his projection skills all that often outside of the normal controlled situations and their heads were definitely different. Almost five minutes later Tyne collapsed back against his chair holding his head and gasping for air as if he had been holding his breath.
"Ta...take a few...take a few minutes to rest while I gather the information and...and share it with the rest of the Council," Tyne said when he was able to calm down a little. "And Ark, can I get something for my head please? I think I hit my limit for the day."
"Are you okay Tyne?" Tyler asked with concern in his voice as he rejoined Kyle.
Kyle looked over Ty's shoulder. "We didn't hurt you did we?"
"I'll be fine, it was just a little harder then I thought it would be to project into your heads," replied Tyne as a glass of water and two pills suddenly appeared in front of him. "Are the two of you okay?"
Kyle and Tyler both nodded. "We're okay."
Tyne quickly took the pills and then sent the review data to the rest of the Council, "Despite it being taxing, on me that is, I think they did very well."
"I think they tested you more than you tested them Tyne," Cyna added as he went over the data. "I approve."
Cory glanced over at the pair. "You guys barely broke a sweat over this?" he said in awe. "Tyne I approve; but I really think we need to find out what all these two are capable of."
"Yeah we do; that batch is gonna give me nightmares!" Brant agreed. "Mark me as voting approved though."
"Makes me glad I'm not going through a review like this." Danny said as he rubbed his eyes. "Yeah, I approve and from what I just saw; you two are perfect for each other."
"I approve and I agree with Cory," said Rusty. "As well as Brant."
"I approve but I wanna get with Miah and trade notes," replied Nyo. "You guys just be careful."
"We are." Kyle replied seriously. "It's actually easier now; Ty and I can run things back and forth between us and figure out what might happen without actually doing stuff."
"Make sure you let Miah know of anything you discover," said Tyne. "It might help him figure out if there is anything we should make sure you control, like your converting others."
"I will Tyne." Tyler replied. "Thanks for doing this for us; I gotta run though, I need to check the cookies!" he added as he popped out of the room.
"So, is there anything else we need to cover with this meeting?" asked Cyna.
"I do have something I'd like to bring up. Danny said as he looked at Tyne and rested his elbows on the table. "We have a ton of assistance at the hospital from Ark right now. Medbots, Techbots and right now Rylan has been coordinating it all. My whole division really appreciates all the help. I mean, I have no idea how we would have managed everything without it. Our division is doing everything we can to get the Medbots back as soon as possible so we aren't tying up Ark's resources for too long, but I was wondering if a couple of the Techbots could remain behind for a little longer. In just a few hours they made the hospital safe to be in and could really help to get the entire site up and running so we would be better prepared for situations like this in the future." He stated as he quickly scanned the group. "Hopefully, we'll never need it to this extent again, but I'd rather be prepared next time."
Tyne frowned, "Danny, you're not tying up any of Ark's resources. The help is given to you because you need it, you're family, and we want you to succeed. We don't really expect those bots back, please make use of them. Ark was created with over Five Hundred Techbots and Two Hundred Medbots to help it out, most of which Ark doesn't use. In fact Ark doesn't like the Techbots and hasn't used them in a very long time. The Techbots are itching to help you since they haven't done anything in fifty thousand years. They were designed to LOVE doing their job and they hate sitting there doing nothing. You should see the area that we had them stored in, it's the cleanest place on earth right now because they have nothing else to do but maintain their own systems and clean. So the bots are yours to keep if you need them; and if you need more than what you have now just let us know and we'll give you more. We won't be running out anytime soon and it's not like you having a couple dozen Medbots and Techbots is going to slow us down any."
"I can just make more if we ever find ourselves low anyway," added Nyo.
"Please, make use of them and keep them," said Tyne. "If you don't I can't see anyone else using them."
"Well, we have more than enough problems in that building to keep them happy for a long time." Danny giggled. "Thanks guys. Oh and Ark." Danny said looking toward the ceiling for lack of a better place to look. "You seriously bailed us out a few times back there. For a being that doesn't really have a heart, you sure are good at emulating one." He finished with a grin.
< Having a heart is a state of mind, not a physical trait. I have known a good many people that physically have a heart but are evil. But thank you Danny, I am glad I could help you. I think sending Rylan to you helped me realize what you needed as well. >
"Rylan has been awesome." Danny smiled. "Well, I still owe ya that hug Ark and someday I'll figure out how to deliver it."
"I can't wait to see that one!" Cory said with a smile. "You know; I think I might have an idea for some more of the Techbots. We have the D'Kyr in orbit right now; if I understand Sarek right it's about to be turned over to us. I know we don't have the manpower to maintain something of that size; do you think they would be adaptable to something like that?"
"Turning a ship over to us?" Danny asked as he shook his head. "When did that happen?"
"This afternoon; they were not supposed to be here for a couple of days but they somehow got it here today." Cory replied. "You've met the three androids that came in with it."
"I did, but no one ever said anything about a ship." Danny giggled. "Well, at least nothing about it being turned over. That's awesome."
"Yeah, if the Techbots are available I won't be as worried about staffing; we're overloaded as it is. Sarek has plans for us to make more ships too." Cory replied.
"Wow." Danny smiled. "We'll have to talk more later."
< Techbots can work on any system that you want them too, just make sure that I have access to the information they would need. I am their information database. Although they might need to be readapted to use the ships systems instead of mine if we do not have instant communication. >
"We can have Javyk work on communication systems like that Ark," said Tyne.
< If so then they do not even need readapting. >
"Thanks." Cory replied. "I feel a lot better about accepting the ship now. Do we have anything else?"
"That's all we had on the list for this meeting," said Nyo. "Unless you have anything else to add Seer?"
"No, I do not," Tyne said as he got up. "This was a good meeting, we got a lot accomplished; well done everyone. This meeting is hereby concluded. Let's all relax a little now and maybe get some rest."
"Speaking of which;" Kyle added with a smile, "I know a plane where time moves differently and you could get 8 hours sleep in about 15 seconds of real time if you are interested Danny."
"No thanks." Danny said as he sat back. "That wouldn't be fair to the rest of the team back home. We'll all get some real sleep soon though."
"Okay, but if anyone gets too run down let me know; I'll hook them up." Kyle replied seriously. "You ready to go home?"
"Yeah." Danny said as he tilted his head. "Wait a minute. Did Ark bring me here or did you?"
"I did; Ark deserves a break." Kyle replied.
"Yes, it does." Danny replied as he glared at Kyle. "The rest of us deserve notice before you drop us into a meeting too, twirp." He got out before he started to laugh.
"I didn't want to interrupt your beauty sleep!" Kyle said innocently.
"Yeah, thanks for that." Danny giggled. "I'll talk to you all later."
Kyle smiled. "Give everyone our hugs!" he announced just before Danny found himself back in the chair in the consultation room at the hospital. The lights in the room were now on and a very unhappy looking Noah as well as three security officers stopped and glared at him.
"Have fun?" Noah asked as he waved to the officers.
"Dude, I can explain..." Danny managed to say before Noah cut him off.
"Tie him down guys." Noah ordered. "If he tries to disappear again, stun him."
"Are you serious?" Danny asked as one of the Security Officers drew his Phaser and adjusted its settings.
"Try having Ark teleport you like that again and you'll find out how serious I am." Noah shot back, crossing his arms and leaning against the wall.
< I am not responsible for teleporting him Noah. >
"Well, he didn't transport out, I checked the logs." Noah said as he let his arms fall to his sides.
< Danny was teleported to your CIC for a founder meeting. He was not given an opportunity to object. >
Noah looked at Danny and then at his security officers. "Okay then." He said as he began to pace the room. "Ark, can you prevent him from being teleported anywhere else? Danny really needs to rest."
< No. Unfortunately I had no warning that he was to be teleported and I do not believe I could have prevented it even if I did. >
"Great." Noah sighed. "Maybe I'll just drug him and make him sleep. What good is he to anyone if they can't wake him up?"
"Noah!" Danny yawned. "I won't be any good here either."
< Danny makes a really good point although I really do not believe he is in danger of being teleported anywhere else at the moment. Natural sleep in your current situation would be the safest method as it would not impair him in any way in the case of an emergency. >
"Good point." Noah said. "Okay guys, we're gonna try to leave him alone again. Danny if you need anything..." He managed to say before he realized Danny had already drifted off. "...just call." He got out with a laugh. "Clear out guys."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"Where's Noah?" Marc yelled as Medbot Fourteen started to sort through the latest batch of incoming injured.
"He's on his way." Rylan shouted as he finished up a repair on another Medbot. "From what I heard, we lost Danny." He continued with a shrug.
"Lost him?" Marc stopped and looked over.
"Misplaced?" Rylan grinned. "I don't know. That's just what I heard."
"Right." Marc said as he shook his head and started toward the newly arrived patients.
"Deceased, deceased, internal bleeding, multiple abrasions, broken leg, deceased..." Number Eighteen droned as he sorted through the bodies.
"Eddie!!!" Jerry shouted from across the room. "Oh my god!"
"What's wrong?" Marc asked as he approached Jerry, freezing when he looked at the body Jerry was standing over. "Oh no... What was he doing out there?"
"I don't know." Jerry said as tears began to stream down his cheeks.
"What's his status?" Marc asked as Medbot Thirteen approached the table.
"He's gone." Jerry got out with a sniffle.
"Yes sir, Doctor Owens is correct." Number Thirteen confirmed. "Massive hemorrhage due to a severe chest wound. The patient's left lung and heart were severely impacted."
"I thought he was at CIC!" Marc stated as he noticed Noah approaching. "Noah! Who is heading up security at CIC?"
"Eddie." Noah replied as he approached the group. "He hasn't checked in...OH MY GOD!" He blurted out. "What the hell?"
"I don't know." Marc said turning his back to the table and pulling out his communicator. "Furst to Lieutenant Shannon."
"Shannon here. What's up Marc?"
"Who's heading up security at CIC." Marc asked as he draped his arm across Jerry's shoulders.
"I am sir. Eddie had me transport down so he could assist in the field."
"Okay." Marc said shaking his head. "Who's in charge here right now and WHY were we NOT notified?"
"Eddie was going to report in as soon as he returned. I can contact him if you like."
"No." Marc said as he took a deep breath. "No you can't."
"It's not a problem. He told me to contact him if I needed him."
"Scott, Eddie's here now." Marc said as he almost choked on his own words. "He was pronounced dead approximately one minute ago."
"Um... he... dead?" Scott gasped. "I spoke to him... Oh my god Marc."
"I know bro." Marc said with a sniffle. "Who do you have backing you at our compound?"
"Lieutenant Murphy from California."
"Okay." Marc replied giving Jerry's arm a squeeze. "We can't lose it yet. Scott, report in to Corporal Jackson. He needs to know what happened."
As Marc began to lead Jerry away from the table, a tear ran down his cheek. "I'll notify Eddie's father. Marc out."
"Marc?" Jerry asked pulling out from underneath Marc's arm. "Would it be okay for me to go down stairs fro a little while? I just wanna see Joey."
"Go ahead." Marc sighed as he stuffed his communicator in his pocket, dried his eyes and turned toward one of the open examining rooms. "Take whatever time you need." He got out as he turned to enter the doorway without waiting for an answer.
"Oh Marc." Nurse Patty said as soon as she noticed Marc approaching. "I have another ready to be transported up to the Lafayette."
"I'll have Noah add him to the list." Marc replied looking over the patients files. "A sniper huh?" Marc asked as his eyes narrowed.
"Yeah, what's it to ya?" The man shot back as he struggled to sit upright.
"Was just wondering." Marc answered. "You got any kids?"
"Not that it's any of your business but yeah, two." The man replied.
"Must be hard to raise two kids and then go out and try to kill someone else's." Marc blurted out without even flinching.
"You've got a lot of balls kid." The man said gritting his teeth as the pain from his wounds forced him to lie back down.
"Nice to hear..." Marc said as he tapped at the biobed's controls. "You know, from someone who has none."
"Doctor!?!" Nurse Patty gasped.
"Terminating pain control." Marc said, blatantly ignoring Nurse Patty's shocked expression. "This guy is too much of a MAN to need it."
"Marc?" Rylan, who had overheard the conversation while passing said as he stuck his head in the doorway. "Can I speak to you for a second?"
"Sure." Marc grinned as he looked the man in the eyes. "Enjoy your trip, asshole."
"MARC!" Rylan raised his voice.
"On my way." Marc said still not breaking his eye lock on the patient. "Nurse, He's ready to be transported."
"I'll notify Noah." Nurse Patty replied as she looked back and forth between Marc and Rylan. "I'll take it from here Doctor."
"You may want to log his info as well. FYS might be interested in looking into his children's well being." Marc said before storming out of the room, right past Rylan.
"Marc?" Rylan asked as he rushed to catch back up. "Marc wait a second!"
Rushing past the Nurses' Station, Marc slammed through the first door he passed. Rylan followed, just in time to see Marc punch the wall and slide down it to sit on the floor; pulling his knees up to his chin. "Marc? Are you alright?"
"No." Marc said as the tears began to stream down his cheeks. "I can't do this anymore. I can't keep pretending that the people I'm helping weren't just out there killing children! They don't even care."
"I don't blame you." Rylan replied as he sat down on the floor next to Marc. "They deserve death for what they've done. Just think of it like you are helping them live long enough to be punished for this."
"Yeah, right." Marc sniffled. "That's not gonna change the way they think. These guys are all so convinced that they were doing the right thing and we're the ones who are wrong."
"Of course they think that way." Rylan said as he crossed his arms. "That's the true nature of humanity and the reason it's taken this long for a large enough group to make enough noise to make the rest of humanity stand up and hopefully take notice. You will never change the way these people think but you can send a really loud message into the future that these acts will no longer go unpunished and that the so called helpless aren't as helpless anymore."
"But is that enough? I mean really. How many more people have to die before that message is really heard?" Marc asked as he wiped his tears off on his knees before hugging his legs tighter to himself.
"One group willing to kill for no good reason and another willing to die to stop the killing. What message do you think is louder?" Rylan asked before standing back up. "The message has already been loud enough." He continued as he opened the door. "Now, let's go find out who was listening."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"Feeling better?" Noah asked as Danny entered the ER, his sleepy eyes and mussed hair clearly showing that he just woke up.
"Yeah." Danny half smiled. "How long was I out?"
"Long enough." Noah grinned. "My report is on this P.A.D.D. and I really need a few minutes when you are awake enough."
"I'm okay." Danny said as he grabbed the unit from Noah and sat down. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine. It's just been a nightmare around here." Noah said as he stood up. "Now that we're down to about forty patients with half of those on their way to other hospitals I want a few minutes to go find Caleb."
"He's not up here?" Danny froze as he asked.
"No." Noah replied as he took a deep breath. "KC told me the last time he saw him was down in the morgue. I'm really worried about him."
"Go." Danny said without hesitation. "I'll call if I have any real problems."
"Thanks Danny." Noah said as he turned and jogged toward the door.
"Take him home if that's what you guys need, okay?" Danny shouted.
"I will. Thanks bro!" Noah shouted back as he ran through the doorway.
"Where's he off to?" Marc asked as he and Rylan approached the counter.
"Caleb hasn't been seen in hours." Danny replied before looking up and seeing Marc's reddened eyes from crying. "Oh my god, are YOU okay?"
"He's fine." Rylan smiled. "Just a little worn out."
"Well, Noah's got us winding down." Danny said as he looked back at the hand held. "Actually, I doubt I could have done better. He's got a time table laid out here." He continued, tilting his head and grinning.
"Excuse me Director Page." Nurse Patty cut in as she quickly approached the counter. "Is there anyone who could be available to help me detain one of these feline kids? I can't dress a wound that they refuse to stop licking."
"I'm on it." Marc said with a weak smile. "It'll be a nice change from the hostiles I've mainly been dealing with."
Patty crossed her arms and laughed. "Really? Wait til you meet him. We've been trying to wrestle him down for about half an hour now."
"Good luck." Danny giggled. "I'll be right here trying to catch up with what I missed."
"Chicken!" Rylan scoffed as he turned to leave the group with a laugh.
"What? Are my feathers showing again?" Danny laughed before scratching his head and continuing to read. "Feline kids..."
"Military Genetics." Marc grinned as he grabbed a tissue and blew his nose. "The ones I've met so far have been really cool."
"Oh, I know." Danny yawned. "It just sounds weird."
"When you two are through..." Nurse Patty shot in, tapping her foot.
"I'm coming." Marc giggled. "We sooo have to keep her on staff. You know that, right?"
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"Cal?" Noah called out as he entered the hallway leading to the morgue as soon as he heard the soft sobbing of his boyfriend. "Cal, you in here?"
"I...I'm here." Caleb sobbed.
Rushing toward the sound of Caleb's voice, Noah froze as soon as he saw him. Sitting on the floor with a small child's tear and blood stained shirt grasped tightly in his arms. "Are you okay?" Noah asked as he quickly sat next to Caleb and pulled him into a hug.
"W...w...we couldn't s...save him." Caleb cried as he buried his face in Noah's shoulder.
"I know, I heard." Noah whispered as he rubbed Caleb's back and pulled him into a hug. "You guys did everything you could."
"I know." Caleb replied as he tightened his grip. "But he didn't deserve to die. He was trying to save another little boy. It's all he was worried about the whole time we got to talk... before he died." He managed to get out.
"Any idea who it was?" Noah asked, maintaining his eye contact.
"No." Caleb sniffled as he regained control over his sobs again. "He just called him the boy in the wheeled chair." Caleb grinned as the tears began to flow all over again. "It was so cute the way he said it."
"I know exactly who you're talking about." Noah smiled. "In the very first wave of incoming wounded, a boy in a wheelchair was brought in. His name is Brian."
Caleb's expression got serious as he wiped his eyes and cleared his throat. "Did he live?"
"Yeah. He's gonna be fine." Noah replied as he turned to sit next to Caleb on the floor. "That little kid kept him from being hit." Noah sighed. "He's a hero and he doesn't even know it."
"Yeah." Caleb hoarsely said as he looked at the shirt in his hands. "He was so tiny..."
"Bigger heart than most though." Noah quickly added while he watched Caleb hug the shirt to his chest again. "I talked to KC a little while ago. I guess while he had some extra time he did a little research into the Russell family. Looks like it was just the kid and his father. His mother passed away four years ago. They were living with his grandmother, until she passed away last year."
"Where's his father now?" Caleb asked.
"I don't know for sure." Noah replied with a slight chuckle. "I guess Kyle took care of him."
"So he might be dead?" Caleb grinned.
"Knowing Kyle, probably not." Noah replied. "If I had to guess, he set him up to be punished for what he did. Maybe he sent him with something to think about as well."
"So Hunter would have been all alone?" Caleb got out before balling up the shirt and hugging it tight.
"From what KC told me, he was alone anyway and has been for a while." Noah replied as he slowly climbed to his feet. "Look, I know this is hard for you. It's been hard on us all." He said as he grabbed Caleb's hand and helped to pull him to his feet. "Let's go over to the Cafeteria and get something in your stomach. Then we can go get away from this insanity for a while."
"What about Hunter?" Caleb asked.
"I'll talk to Danny about him." Noah replied as he pulled Caleb into a hug. "You tried so hard for him, I think it'd be nice if we could be family for him and help with all the last details." He got out as Caleb buried his face in Noah's shoulder. "It's not a lot but, from now on; he'll never be alone again."
"You'd do that for me?" Caleb's muffled voice came from Noah's shoulder as he squeezed the hug tighter.
"No." Noah smiled. "I'd die for you. This I'm gonna do for him." He said as he raised Caleb's eyes to meet with his gaze. "So, will you come with me?"
"Yeah." Caleb smiled as Noah reached up and wiped away the tears. "I just need to look in on him before we go."
"To say goodbye?" Noah questioned.
"No." Caleb said before swallowing hard. "To say that I'm not leaving him." He said before turning and beginning to walk toward the closed doors of the morgue. "I don't plan to ever say goodbye. Maybe just see you later."
Before Noah was able to respond, Caleb froze and watched as the doors to the morgue slowly opened and a familiar form appeared in the doorway. A glowing form inside the room held the door in place until the first form stepped into the hall and fully into view. "Hu...hun...Hunter???"
"Are you Caleb?" The small boy asked as he padded in bare feet a little closer as the room behind him became dark once again.
"Yeah." Caleb replied with tears once again flowing steadily down his cheeks.
"A man named Mikey sez hi." Hunter said as he looked over his shoulder to watch the door as it slowly swung closed. "Can I have my shirt? I'm kinda cold."
As if waking from a dream, Caleb literally ran to Hunter and wrapped him in a tight hug to both warm and protect him while he whispered over and over again; "Thank you Mikey... Thank you so much..."
To Be Continued…
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Notes from the Author:
I'm not even sure what to enter for notes on this chapter. Seriously. I mean we still have so much up in the air in Charleston that even to me it feels like nothing from part one got answered. At least we can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. The boys are tired, worn out and not in the best of moods now I'll bet. I know it was a roller coaster to read but, if it's any consolation... I held my breath while writing out some of the scenes myself.
We have quite a few things to look forward to. Looks like Marc's Dad is on his way home and bringing a huge surprise as well. Just hope he doesn't freak when he sees the house. LOL! The Techbots are playing a full building game of "Rip out the wall" and having some fun in the process as our construction team watches on in amusement. Wonder how long it's gonna take to get the place in shape now :) That should help to give the Clan some down time. They definitely need it now, that's for sure. A special hug is reserved for little Hunter as well. The purpose behind him needing help made it really hard to simply write him off. Caleb must have felt that as well because he refused to give up on him too :) With a little help from our friend with the wings and halo, looks like we're actually going to get to know him a little better now...
Huge amount of thanks to all the help I got with the characters from Ark, Out of the Past, The U.N.I.T. and Memories in this chapter. This chapter was a rough one to get through. The good news is I recently learned to juggle... Paragraphs ;)
As always, gotta remind ya... Those of you who haven't read "The other CSU stories" are truly missing out on a very important part of this story. You just gotta read em all, right now! Hehehe...
You can find "Memories" by "ACFan" Parts 1 & 2 at http://cornercafe.us and don't forget to keep an eye out for the events also unfolding in "Memories: Down Under" by: "Boi From Aus" at http://acannex.us as well as "Ark" by Akeentia at http://paddedroom.us, "Out of the Past" by "Darkstar" at http://cornercafe.us, "The U.N.I.T." by Roland at http://storylover.us and "Dear Diary" by Boudreaux at http://jeffsfort.com to get the whole picture so far! (Yes, that means the Clan Short Universe is growing from our own perspective. Hold on tight as this list begins to grow out of control, I hope that chair of yours has a seat belt ;)
*HUGZ* from myself and everyone at the Clan Short; Artificial Intelligence Division!
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Clan Short Archivist's Review Notes:
Well the final piece of "All Hell Breaks Loose" Part Two is now completed and it filled in several gaps. We also know a lot more about a lot of the new characters and that is a good thing.
One of the most outstanding thing about this chapter and all of the chapters in "All Breaks Loose" Parts One and Two is that although the individual stories are very tightly intertwined they have all retained their own character and style. That is not an easy thing to do in a collaboration of this size and complexity. My hat is off to the wonderful job done by all of the authors and their assistants in this saga.
I am looking forward to future chapters with a renewed interest as Jeff has incorporated several more intriguing story lines to follow.
Thanks for another wonderful chapter Fearless Leader now where is the next one?
The Story Lover aka TSL
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Assistant Archivist's Review Notes:
Having read this chapter in pieces and parts as it was being written, I know some of the events as they were occurring, However I was pretty surprised at the wonderful ending of this chapter. Thank you, Mikey and Jeff for saving Hunter. I really wanted him to pull through. I want to let everyone know how happy I am at the way this entire set of chapters has come together and intertwined. I truly feel proud and happy to be a part of bringing this monumental undertaking into being. TSL is correct; there are still a lot of wonderful things still ahead, and I know everyone will be very excited to see what is going to happen in many of the stories pretty soon. As you may know, I edit for several of the CSU authors, and therefore I can say with certainty that you will really love what will be coming next, from several different directions. I can't make any promises as to exactly when these chapters will be ready, but I assure you that they will indeed be worth waiting for. Congratulations everyone; this was a wonderful triumph over a lot of difficult circumstances. Thanks to everyone for putting all the incredible work into this and making it great.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher