Rec Room, CIC:
"You guys have never seen a starship?" Cory asked.
"Only on TV or in the movies," Marcus answered.
"And they were pretty obviously mock ups," Scott threw in.
"Well, I'm certain that if I asked, Captain Simmons would be glad to arrange for you to take a tour of the Lafayette, even if I didn't order him to do it - which I could," Cory said in a matter-of-fact tone.
"Geeze, would you?" Jude exclaimed. The faces of the three cousins were equally eager. Marcus mimed a dog begging, tongue hanging out and puppy-dog eyes.
"You don't have to put it on quite that much," Cory said affectionately. He pulled out his communicator and asked for the tour, then positioned the four boys with himself and Sean to be beamed up by the transporter.
He lifted his communicator to contact the Lafayette's transporter stage, then got a big grin on his face. Handing his communicator to Scott, he said, "It's all set, just push the 'speak' button here. Beam us up, Scotty!"
Scott got a matching, enormous grin. Lifting the communicator to his lips and pressing the button, he said "Energize!"
Transporter energy flowed around them all, and the 'Extra-Universe' boys started giggling as the tickling effect rolled through them...
... and perception shifted what seemed like seconds later. They were now in space... and a Starfleet Ensign was smiling at them from the Transporter Controls.
"Oh, my God!" Scott exclaimed involuntarily.
"Hi Mike!" Cory said as he waved at the Ensign. "How's Janus doing?"
"He's fine; I think most of the bruises from Timmy's pounces have healed!" the ensign replied with a grin.
"I'll have to bring him back to generate new ones then!" Sean giggled as they descended from the transporter pad.
"Some new kids for the tour?" Mike asked.
"Yeah," Sean responded. "But the difference is, these guys have never even seen a starship other than in fiction before today."
"Okaaayyyy... I'm sure you'll explain that later." Mike replied. "I'm afraid to know, though."
"I'm still having trouble believing it's all real," Jude said.
"Me too," Galen added.
"Random Hug!" Peter exclaimed as he popped in and ran around to everyone in the room. Before popping back out, he added, "Reality is for people with no imaginations!"
Cory giggled at Mike's shocked look. "That was Peter, Mike. Otherwise know as the Huggle Monster!"
"Ooookkkaaayyyy... I think I'm gonna call for relief; it might be safer sticking with you guys," Mike replied. "Maybe I can get one of you jokesters to explain this...."
Sean smiled, "You're welcome to join us, Mike."
Mike nodded, and called in his second. "It's near enough end of shift, and since I've been working doubles since Saturday, I think I'm allowed. So, where to first, guys?" he asked, looking at Jude, Galen, Scott and Marky.
"Wow, I'd like to see just about everything -- engineering, bridge...." Scott said.
"Deflector control," Galen added. At the others' expressions asking "Why?" without words, he added, "Vincent."
"Well, he's in the Compound right now, and the Yorktown is still away from Earth," Cory stated, "but we'll make a point of dropping by there, Galen."
"Then follow me. The Bridge first, or the Captain will kill me. He likes showing off 'the most important place' first," Mike laughed as he led the group through to the corridor towards the turbolift.
"Yeah, he forgets about Engineering!" Cory giggled.
As they walked along, Galen hesitantly tapped Cory's arm. "I just meant I wanted to see the kind of place where Vincent worked in the story."
"Oooh," Cory said as he pulled the boy into his side and walked along with his arm over Galen's shoulders. "I understand. Don't worry, Galen, you'll see all the places like those on the Yorktown." He then leaned down and whispered in Galen's ear, "And don't worry about asking me things, dude. You're a Clan Brother, now. It's your right as part of our Family!"
Galen smiled from ear to ear, and returned Cory's one-armed hug.
They entered the turbolift and after a nudge from Sean, Marky crowed out, "Bridge!"
As the doors slid shut and after no apparent motion reopened on the Bridge, Scott had an enormous smile. "I'm not sure I can explain this, Cory, but have you ever wished you could fall asleep and then wake up in a favorite story?"
Cory's smile was gentle, and he nodded his head. He gestured and the four boys walked out and onto the bridge haltingly.
Captain Simmons swiveled his chair and looked over at the boys with a beaming smile on his face. "Welcome on board the USS Lafayette, guys," he said to them before looking up at Cory, "Fleet Commander Short? It's good to see you looking better than from the viewer on Saturday."
"Thanks, Captain." Cory replied before grinning. "I've had a little help from my family, Roger. I've got some new family here that wanna see a real starship. Since I've got the Enterprise's little sister in my Fleet, it's only logical that I'd let you show her off!"
"Fleet Commander?" Marky asked.
"Yeah, don't you remember?" Galen answered. "He got promoted to Fleet Commander in that last chapter we read before heading south."
"Oh, yeeeeeah, right!" Marky said. "I forgot!"
"Oh, thanks, Cory! Spoil the surprise, why don't you!" Roger groaned theatrically. "I was going to tell them all tonight!"
Sean sniggered, "He's good at that, Roger!"
Sean again, twice in the same day, found himself on his back with his blond boyfriend sitting cross legged on his chest.
"Commander Short, you should know better," Roger laughed as he watched Sean's face go red.
Marky giggled. "I guess it's true that you like being on the bottom under Cory," he teased, as Sean turned beet red.
After Cory finally took pity on Sean and stood up, he pulled Marky in and slung the small boy over his shoulder and started to tickle him behind his knees. "You think you can laugh at my boyfriend, munchkin?" Cory teased playfully as Marky squealed and thrashed about, trying to get away.
"Hey, stop, or else I'm going to pee!" Marky squealed.
Cory giggled as he put the boy down and kissed his forehead.
"What do you mean, captain, if I may ask? About the surprise, I mean," Lt. Markson asked.
"You'll recall we're on detached duty to support Clan Short?" Roger asked. "Well, what I hadn't made public yet was that we're permanently assigned to Fleet Commander Short's fleet."
Lt. Markson grinned, "Good!"
Scott was over at the helm, looking down at the controls. "I wish I could join Starfleet," he murmured under his breath.
Sean walked up to him, and answered softly, "You can, if you really want to, Scott. We don't believe in 'impossible', here."
Scott grinned at the auburn Archivist, then went back to drooling over the controls.
"Who wants to see the 'real' best place on the ship, guys?" Cory asked with a wicked grin at the Captain. "Engineering is waiting!"
As they departed the Bridge, T'Laran turned to them and said, "Live long and prosper, young humans from another world."
Galen answered gravely, "Peace and long life," giving her the Vulcan salute. She acknowledged it with the slightest hint of a smile.
A minute or so later, and they came to Engineering Level. Cory immediately led the now bubbling and excited boys towards Main Engineering.
"Hey Steve, how's my core doing?" Cory yelled to the Chief Engineer as they entered the doorway.
"I'm only letting you borrow it, Shrimp!" the seven-foot-six inch tall Negro replied with a grin. "I'm still trying to repair the damage you did playing 'Captain'."
The Chief Engineer walked over and picked Cory up, wrapping his huge arms around him in a hug. "How's my favorite midget genius doing?"
"Better," Cory giggled. "Guys, this big goof is Commander Steve Charles, Chief Engineer and ship's klutz."
"Just remember who is holding you three feet off of the ground, munchkin." Steve chuckled deeply. "Welcome to the only Engineering Deck other than the Enterprise to be graced with the magic of Cory, guys."
"Whoa!" the irrepressible Marky said. "What are you doing up there, Patriarch Short?"
"Marky!" Scott half-scolded.
"Checking for clouds!" Cory giggled. "These guys need the 'Grand Tour,' Steve; you might even get them to tell you their story. It sounds crazy, but it's true."
"Gotcha, Cory," Steve replied as he sat Cory back on his feet. "I'm having issues with one of the updates that was just added; I think it's conflicting with your rebalance routine. Would you mind looking at it while I give the grand tour?"
"Sure thing, Steve; leave it to the bookworms to screw something up," Cory replied.
As Cory stepped over to the consoles to check out the update issue, Jude asked him, "What are these consoles for?"
"Uh-oh," Sean said, grinning. "You just did the one thing guaranteed to get Cory talking for two hours straight!"
"Cory's straight?" Marky asked, a feigned innocent expression on his face.
Sean grimaced with a laugh, "Heck no!"
Cory and Jude laughed at the face Marky pulled at Sean, and especially so when Sean started to commence a tickle torture attack on the eight year old, with the help of Galen. "This," Cory said through his giggles, "is the Matter-Antimatter control. The rebalance is what keeps everything from blowing us from here to Vulcan."
While the rest toured Engineering, Jude stayed by Cory and absorbed all the information the Patriarch gave him like a sponge.
"Can we go see Deflector Control now, please?" Galen begged Cory as the group came closer.
Cory looked up and nodded, "Sure, Galen! Steve, I've sorted that issue out for you, with Jude's help."
"Thanks, munchkin," came the deep resonating reply. "As for Deflector Control," the Chief Engineer said as he hoisted Galen up and sat the boy on his hip, "I think I can join you for that."
"Lead on, Sir!" Cory replied with a grin.
As they exited the turbolift to head for Deflector Control, they passed a young Hispanic lieutenant going in the opposite direction. "Congratulations on your promotion, Lieutenant," Cory said.
"Thank you, sir!" said Lt. Romero, surprised that the Fleet Commander knew about it.
Cory giggled at his expression. "I make it a policy to know it when someone is doing an outstanding job," he explained.
Sean tilted his head. "Speaking of security, Cor, how the heck did you convince Mont and Bast that they didn't need to come up with us?"
Cory chuckled. "Once I got through to them that I felt safer with the crew of this ship than I did sitting in my own living room, they started to agree. I think me reminding them that the crew here is 'family' might have helped. Between that and the fact I ordered them to take some time to spend with their family pretty much sealed the deal."
Cory paused to get his bearings after being transported back into CIC. Just in time, he caught the movement of a purple-eyed missile homing in on him.
"Hi, Uncle Cory!!" Levi announced as he slammed into Cory's side and began a huge hug.
"Hey there, Levi!" Cory giggled. "You miss me or something?" he added as he returned the hug.
Levi giggled back. "Of course I missed you; I'm overdue for my Cory-Cuddles!"
"Then you'd best get loads, Levi," Cory smiled softly as he picked up his nephew and placed him on his hip.
Cory found a nearby seat, and sat down while shifting Levi into his lap. He couldn't help but chuckle as he noticed that suddenly everything was happening at half-speed. "That's cheating, Levi; making things slow down so you get more cuddles!"
Levi nodded. "I know," he giggled, "but I want all the cuddles I can get before Uncle Vincent gets here!"
Cory smiled and kissed Levi's cheek. "Thanks lil' guy; that makes me feel better knowing you care that much."
Levi turned his face to look up at Cory. "You're really special, Uncle Cory; you help people without even meeting them. I know I ain't never gonna 'grow up', but I still am tryin' to be like you 'cuz you're the only person more gooder than my Daddy in all the Universes."
Once his blush subsided enough to speak again, Cory replied. "I think you're biased, lil' guy; but thank you anyways." Trying to change the subject, Cory added, "I see that you're learning to speak like the rest of the kids already!"
Levi nodded. "Uh-huh! CD and Calen said I was soundin' too much like an adult! I ain't biased though, Uncle Cory; I know it's true cuz' I checked myself!"
'That told you, bro!' Tyler's voice whispered in Cory's head suddenly.
'I thought you were busy helping Tommy make supper!' Cory shot back with a giggle.
'We're waiting for the mistakes to finish cooking... ah, I mean, we're waiting for the food to finish cooking!' Tyler sniggered.
Cory chuckled as Levi watched with a knowing grin on his face. 'Knowing you two, there ain't no mistakes unless you want them to be. Just save some food for the rest of us, okay?'
'Okay... if I remember...' Tyler shot back mischievously.
Kyle's voice intruded, 'He'd better remember, or he won't be getting no...'
'DAD! Innocent ears here!! And Pop, don't be mean!' Levi cast back at them both.
'Make that TWO sets of innocent ears!' Cory added.
'You WISH, bro!' Ty and Kyle giggled at the same time.
Cory shook his head with a grin then went back to cuddling Levi.
A short time later, Levi returned them to normal time and looked at his wrist as if he was wearing a watch. "Uncle Vincent will be here in two minutes," he said with certainty.
"You're not even wearing a watch!" Cory giggled. "Why did you look at your wrist?"
"Cuz' everyone else does!" Levi replied with a grin.
Cory shook his head. "Get a watch from Uncle Seth out of the Supply Room; I think you'll have fun with it."
"Okay, Uncle Cory!" Levi replied as he bounced up. "Before I do it, though, Uncle Vincent is here now."
Cory looked around, and sure enough Vincent was just turning the corner and entering the room. Cory waved for him to join them, and gave Vincent a hug once he was within reach.
Before anyone could say anything, Levi spoke up in an excited tone. "Uncle Cory says I can get a watch! I'm gonna do a time-freeze so that you and Uncle Cory can talk all you want, Uncle Vincent; if you need me just call and I'll hear you!"
Before Vincent or Cory could say anything else, Levi vanished.
"Umm..." Vincent mumbled as he sat down.
Cory sat back and shook his head. "I still can't get used to the Mikyvis playing games with time."
"Time? I've had some kinda weird experiences messing around with time." Vincent said cautiously
Cory grinned. "Anything like bringing people back from somewhere around 800 AD or rescuing sabre-toothed tiger cubs?"
"No, I haven't gone to the past, but I've been fifty years into the future... and I've been to a couple other dimensions and met two other versions of myself." Vincent said quietly, then amended, "I mean three. I met another one on the way here."
Cory nodded. "You and Levi should compare notes; he seems to be quickly becoming an expert at that stuff. Not bad for someone less than two days old."
"I don't think I want to become an expert at it. Time travel really makes me nervous. One little goof and you've completely changed the future. It's a lot of responsibility." Vincent said frankly.
"I agree," Cory replied. "I heard there is someone watching the Clan guys that can do that kinda stuff though. He's making sure that nothing that isn't supposed to happen happens."
Vincent thought about the words for a moment, then reluctantly asked, "If he's watching the Clan guys, where does that leave me?"
Cory looked Vincent straight in the eyes as he replied seriously. "It leaves you being watched by a being older than any of us can understand. You're Clan, Vincent. You have been since the day the Clan adopted you. You are no different than any of the other guys out there; with one exception. You are an example to all of them what someone can accomplish who believes in himself. You are not less than anyone here; in fact you have proven that you are an example to all of us."
"Dylan said that too, that I was an example." Vincent said quietly, then looked at Cory with worry in his eyes and continued, "I'm not good enough to be an example for anyone. I've been bad to so many people. I was mean and angry at everyone for all my life. All I've done since then is listen to what you told me and tried to be better than I used to be."
Cory nodded. "And that is what makes you such a good example, bro. You have taken what you learned and become a better person from it. Very few people ever actually manage to do that. You're exceptional because you not only did it, but you have taken the advice a step further and made a name for yourself throughout the galaxy that not only overrides what you've done before, but it blows it out of the water."
"To tell you the truth, whenever I got stuck and didn't know what I was supposed to do, I just tried to imagine what you or Sean would do if you were there instead of me. So if people are thinking good things about me, they're really thinking them about you too."
Cory blushed. "Thanks, but I'll tell you the same thing Mom told Tommy and Ty. Don't try to pass off credit for your achievements. You could not have done it if the spark was not inside you to do good yourself."
"If you say so, Dad. I've learned to listen to what you say," Vincent said with a grin, then seemed to remember something and his expression became more serious. "There's some stuff that I should probably tell you about, but I don't know what you're going to think about it."
Cory smiled. "I woke up from the anesthetic after almost joining Mikey in the afterlife to find out that Kyle has mutated into a new species. You're gonna have to work to beat that surprise."
"I guess next to that, being a Trach Manja isn't that big of a deal," Vincent said with a weak smile.
"It matters what being a Trach Manja means," Cory replied. "You kinda need to explain it, I am blond you know!"
"I don't really know how to speak blond, but I'll try to keep it really simple." Vincent said with a grin, then continued, "I guess the easiest way to explain it is like if everything that ever happened, and is happening, and is about to happen is all written in a great big book. I can make changes to what is happening and change what will happen."
Cory tilted his head. "Okay, I think you just matched Kyle. You don't reproduce by thinking about it, do you?" Cory grinned, then added, "Seriously, I think it sounds like something that fits you perfectly. You've got a big heart that you've learned to use quite well; so you make the perfect person to handle it. The stuff that happened in your past gives you a reference as to what bad choices can cause; so you have the experience to know what seems right and wrong."
"As far as the reproducing thing... T'Lani and I are kind of planning to do it the old fashioned way." Vincent said with a grin, then continued, "As far as the rest... if it was just me, I'd probably say all kinds of stuff about how I'm not good enough. But after talking to the other Trach Manjai, I found out that we all feel that way about ourselves. We kind of figured out that all of us are good enough because we were chosen. So, um... what was the question?"
Cory giggled. "I think you just answered it yourself, son. There's a lot of stuff that woulda seemed weird a year ago that has become common in the last month or so. What you've been chosen for is not a surprise; but I'm really proud that you've earned the right to call yourself a Trach Manja."
Movement behind Vincent made him turn around. This was a null point in time, so Levi had said, so why was there a ten year old boy with ginger hair grinning at them both.
"Ehhhh... Wazzup, Doc!" Cory giggled in his best Bugs Bunny imitation.
Vincent stared for a moment, then broke into giggles at Cory's joke.
Cory, through his giggles, started to introduce Vincent to the Doctor. "Doctor, this is..."
"No need, Cory. We've met," the Doctor said with a smile.
"We have?" Vincent asked cautiously.
"Have met or will meet, Galli?" Cory giggled at the same time.
The ginger boy scowled at Cory before breaking into giggles of his own. "We have met, as far as I'm concerned, Vincent: this is the second time we've talked. For you, however, this is our first meeting. Trust me, you get to have fun when it's my first meeting with you!"
"More time travel." Vincent said darkly.
"He's just trying for honorary blond status," Cory joked as he got his giggles under control.
"Yes, Vincent," the Doctor nodded seriously, after winking at Cory, "Time travel. However, it is not something you need to worry about when I am involved, nor when my Friend is involved. You asked if the One watching the Clan was watching you? Who do you think helped you the last time, Vincent?"
"Dr. Xon?" Vincent asked cautiously.
"You shoulda said Elmer Fudd." Cory stage-whispered.
Vincent looked at Cory with confusion at the statement, knowing that Cory was joking, but not understanding why it was supposed to be funny.
The Doctor dummy slapped Cory before seating himself comfortably on the Patriarch's lap. "Ignore him, Vincent. And for that 'Galli' bit, you can repay it by cuddling me, Cory!"
He looked back at Vincent while Cory laughed and did as he was told. "Yes, Dr Xon did help you, but who else was involved in that help, Vincent?"
Cory started to reply, but found the Doctor's hand firmly across his mouth. "Turn on your brain before speaking, Cory," the Doctor giggled.
"The only other person who knew about it was Admiral Morrow," Vincent said hesitantly, pretty sure that it wasn't the answer that he was supposed to give.
"Okay," the ten year old giggled, "this could go on forever... and if that isn't a clue, I don't know what is!"
"Forever..." Vincent said to himself, then cautiously asked, "The Guardian of Forever?"
Cory licked at the Doctor's hand until the Doctor removed it and wiped it off on Cory's pants. "Way to go, Son; you're hanging with some pretty high powers if you're working with the Guardian that close!"
"Ewwww," the Doctor muttered with a giggle. "Blond germs!"
//That is correct, Master of Fate, Lord of the Five. I was the one who moved Xon to help you// came a voice that Vincent recognized.
"Vae'Runam, you promised!" the Doctor giggled.
//You know that I like teasing you, Prince of Time//
Although Vincent recognized the voice, he looked around anyway to see where it was coming from.
"You won't see Him, Vincent," the new boy said with a smile, "not unless He wishes it. That was just His way of freaking you out!"
Just then Levi appeared. "Hey G! Y'all are holding a party in my time freeze without me?" He looked around the group then grinned. "Kewl; you took Uncle Cory's lap; that means I get to be the first Mikyvis to cuddle with Uncle Vincent." With that, he moved over and took up residence on Vincent's lap.
Vincent sat stiffly for a moment, but when he saw the loving expression on Levi's face, he engulfed the young Mikyvis in a warm hug.
The Doctor smiled at Vincent, but could still see the confusion in his face. "I'll take pity on you, Kiddo," he said, drawing Vincent's attention back to him. "My true name is Gallifrey, but if you 'must' use it, use Galli. I'm known to most out there as 'John Smith', but you'd likely recognize my other name. I'm the Doctor, and I'm a Time Lord."
"Nice to meet you... or have met you... or going to meet you." Vincent said as he held Levi close to his chest.
"Yeah," the Doctor giggled, "it's confusing. But like I said, I'm a Time Lord, and I know tricks that not even the cute kid in your lap knows yet. Don't worry about the Time issue, okay? There is a good reason I came here, though. You and Levi are two of the three people from the Clan whom I met first. The other hasn't arrived yet, but is coming in shortly. You need to be aware that something is about to happen that has not happened before, just so that you are not caught flat footed."
"Oh great!" Vincent said with frustration. "I don't know what already happened and there's about to be more?"
"And we ain't got flat feet, silly!" Levi giggled.
"Leev, can you swap places with me for a while, dude? I need to talk with Vincent," the Doctor asked seriously.
Levi reached up and gave Vincent a good squeeze. "I'll be back as soon as he's done, Uncle Vince; I like your cuddles, you do them good!" With a grin on his face, Levi suddenly popped off of Vincent's lap and the doctor appeared in Vincent's place with the Trach Manja on his lap instead; Levi appearing on Cory's lap in the same instant.
Vincent looked around with confusion at what had just happened. Then he looked at the ginger haired boy and hesitantly asked, "Am I too heavy?"
"No," the Doctor giggled. "You're fine. I'm not exactly human, kiddo, and far older than I look, so I'm used to this!"
"Yeah, that's Jay's spot usually!" Levi giggled. "You gotta be special to borrow it; that makes you really special, Uncle Vince."
"Now, Vincent," the Doctor said, "I'm going to explain a few things to you before Cory updates you with what's been happening here."
"Okay," Vincent responded slowly.
"Don't worry that I have already 'met' you in your future. You don't need to know about what happens exactly, for what you will do will flow naturally from who and what you are. You just need to be aware that when you, Levi and the other boy leave this Universe for a time you will meet me and I will not recognize you. Such an event for you would probably work against what should happen. Now that you do know, you are mentally prepared for it. When you leave this Universe, you shall meet me. That is all you need to take with you, Lord of the Five. Don't worry about the rest."
The Doctor then drew Vincent's face in closer and kissed his forehead, "I give you the Blessing of the Time Lords, child. You shall do wonderful things, and do them well. Trust in yourself, and in your family."
Vincent thought about the words for a moment, then quietly said, "Okay, I think I've got that. As long as I know it won't mess up time or cause the universe to explode or something like that when we meet again, I'll be okay with it."
//It shall not. In fact, you and the rest of the Five are some of the major defenses in place to prevent Time and Space from failing, Master of Fate// the Guardian added.
"That's good. I've just learned about paradoxes and how much trouble they can cause. I try to be really careful so stuff like that won't happen," Vincent said with a smile.
"Tell me about it!" Levi exclaimed. "They give me headaches!"
"Okay, now I think I can leave the rest to Cory and Levi. I need to be getting ready for something else, now," the Doctor said as he shifted out from under Vincent.
He moved away slightly, waved at the remaining three, and Folded out of sight.
Levi giggled. "More cuddles later, Uncle Cory; Uncle Vince is on the top of my list!" With that, he retook his place on Vincent's lap.
"It's good to have you back," Vincent said as he resumed his cuddle.
Levi purred as Cory smiled. "I told you things have been weird!"
"This kind of weird I don't mind a bit." Vincent said peacefully.
Cory smiled again, "How much do you want to know about what happened, son? We have all the time we need here, but I don't know how much detail you want."
"I'd just like to know basically what happened. The less details you give me the better because my Trach Manja thingie works best when things are kinda random." Vincent said disjointedly.
"Good thing I'm blond: I followed that!" Cory giggled. "Okay, basics it is."
"We have a number of new people and even races in the Clan," Cory started, "so I'll just give you the outline for each. There are the Founders and they are a sub-species of Humanity that was created well over seventy thousand years ago... yes, humans have been around that long," Cory grinned as Vincent's mouth dropped open. "Founders have minor telepathy and major precognitive abilities. Then there are Vifer, another human sub-species that was made genetically, and they age one year for every four and a half thousand years or so; plus they have accelerated healing. There are vampires..."
"Wait, vampires?!" Vincent interrupted incredulously.
"Uh huh," Cory nodded seriously. "Their true name is Moroi, and they were the result of a failed attempt by the Founders over sixty five thousand years back to prevent a terrorist type group from destroying the world. They drink blood, sleep in the day and burn in sunlight. Brandar, one of the Clan, is Moroi."
"Wow," muttered Vincent.
Levi giggled as Cory continued, "There are obviously telepaths, telekinetics and empaths, and we learnt that they, or most of them anyway, are also sub-species descended from about sixty odd thousand years ago. There is a new group now, though, who seem to be very different. They call themselves N-Gen's and Telez' superior, Jason, is the first of them. Then there is Ark; and she is a... well, a super AI that was created by the Founders 65 thousand years ago to learn, save and preserve all the information and knowledge of the Earth."
Vincent trembled, "Any others??"
"Yes, the Mikyvis," Levi giggled, "And the Ferox, and now the Time Lords."
"You want to explain that, Levi?" Cory asked.
"Yeah, Uncle Cory, I'll explain," Levi nodded before kissing Vincent's cheek. "My Dad, Kyle, was found to be a Founder, and then on Saturday he started to change. He became an Anti-Energy being, and he changed Pop, Tyler, to be the same. Yesterday morning they woke up to find they had created me! And then this morning, they had two more, my brothers Dylan and Bryce! We can travel in time and in all universes and dimensions and time lines, and we love hugs!"
"And the Ferox?" Vincent whispered.
"They," Cory said as he took over, "were created by the Founders more than Sixty Five Thousand years ago as they were trying to push the limits on what their genetics could be. They are also an energy race, but a bit different from the Mikyvis. They can't time travel the same, and they are stuck in this Universe only."
"Okay," Vincent managed. "And the Time Lords are like that TV show I heard of?"
"Sorta," Levi giggled. "The Doc told us that the show had some things right, but a lot wrong. Let's just say they are very powerful and masters of Time. The Vulcans met them long, long ago, and Grandma Amanda and her brother learnt of them, and told a few friends. That's how the TV shows started."
"Okay..." Vincent said as he closed his eyes for a second.
"Now for the easy stuff: the new members and Divisions in the Clan," Cory said gently as he moved over to pull Vincent into his side. He ended up with both boys on his lap. "We have an AI Division in South Carolina, and most are androids, and their Head of Division is Danny. We have a Division in Australia and my cousin Skylan is the Head of that Division. There's a few other groups scattered about that will become new Divisions, and then there's the newest two: Support and Recovery in Camp Little Eagle, and then the Unit, who saved our asses on Saturday. The Unit is a military group with a lot of their guys having been genetically changed to be stronger and faster. Those Cat boys are a part of the Unit, and were one of the weirder experiments."
"Who did the experiments?" Vincent asked with some small heat in his voice.
"A black ops group within the US government, or at least that was their cover story. They are illegal and will be dealt with, I believe, by the Unit themselves who escaped from it all."
"Good," Vincent stated bluntly.
"The last thing is that we have appointed a Director of Operations for North America; Samuel Reynolds," Cory continued. "He may set up a consolidated Division, but then again, maybe not; that's up to him. He's in charge of Admin and Co-Ordination between all the Divisions and Clan Members in the North America's. That's about it, I think. You'd need to go mingle to learn who each are, and that's always best," Cory said, hugging Vincent tighter.
"You forgot the Dragon, Uncle Cory!" Levi giggled.
"Dragon?? No way: Dragons?!" Vincent half yelled.
"No, son," Cory laughed, "the Dragon Division. They are a Vulcan Special and Covert Ops group, and recently have become the newest Clan in the Family of Sarek. Clan Evans. Telez and Koth are two of the seven leaders, and their elder brother, Jason, is the Patriarch."
"Phew!" Vincent sighed out, "Vampires, okay. Dragons, too far!"
"The Klingons are Cling-Ons!" Levi giggled. "Kinda like me with my favorite uncles!"
The three talked about a few other general things, then prepared to return to normal time.
Levi leaned up and kissed Vincent's cheek. "You give great cuddles, Uncle Vince! We're goin back to normal time now; 'member that only about a minute has passed for everyone else!"
Cory added, "And if you need to speak openly about the Doc, he's known as John to most of the guys out there. They don't know he's a Time Lord."
"Okay," Vincent smiled as he and Levi hopped down from Cory's lap.
"Wow! Well done, Xan!" Riti giggled.
He and his cousin were seated in the middle of the Soccer field, and Bryce was lying next to them with his feet in Xandor's lap. Bryce was busy trying to see different shapes in the clouds overhead, and giggling on occasion when Xandor ran his webbed fingers over his bare feet.
They also had a fair few wrappers from a selection of cookies and chips scattered around them, and had only just finished feasting on them.
"Sorry," Xandor sniggered. "Don't worry, though. I'm full now!"
"You finished a large meal two hours ago," Bryce laughed as he looked up and into the older Lo'Garn's face. "You're fitting right in with the Clan already for eating ability!"
Riti laughed, "Well, he's not eaten much for the last hundred and eighty odd years, Bry!"
"Bite me!" Bryce shot back, poking his tongue out at Riti.
"That's Xan's job!" came the cheeky retort.
Xandor raised Bryce's right foot up and went to nibble on his big toe, causing squeals of laughter from the Mikyvis.
Giggling, the older winged boy looked to his cousin. "When you going to teach me to fly, then?"
"Now's as good a time as any. You'll have to take off that robe that Ship gave you, though." Riti pointed out as he stood up.
As the younger boy started going over the basics with Xandor as the older one stripped off, Bryce saw Sammy, Mont and Bast moving past the field towards the Unit barracks. "Be right back, guys," he said as he 'ported over to the three boys, and landed on Mont's back.
The yowls of fright from both lions made him chuckle, and Sammy's falling over routine was simply hysterical. "What the hell!" Sammy yelled as he landed on his butt. "Bryce! That wasn't funny!"
Bast sniggered, after checking that he'd not messed himself, "Well, really, it was kinda funny, Sammy."
Bryce looked down at the eleven year old and said, "Sorry, SamSam. I just wanted to see where you're all going."
Sammy grunted as he stood back up and dusted himself down. "Just goin' for a walk, and these two decided to go for a cat-nap at the same time. I really want to be alone, though... we're just walking together so far."
Mont cast a long look at Bryce after putting the boy back on his feet. It spoke volumes. "You guys go rest, I'll keep our Sammy company."
"But I..." Sammy started, but Bryce shushed him.
"No arguing. I need help with something, and you'd be perfect."
"What's up?" was Sammy's curious reply.
Bryce pointed towards both the now naked Lo'Garn who were starting some flapping exercises. "Xan is going to learn to fly. I'm here to help if he gets in trouble, and I thought we could make a game of it. You know, a scoring system? I can't do that alone."
Sammy sighed, then giggled a bit. "Okay, it does sound fun. And it will take my mind off... things."
"I know," Bryce said quietly as they both waved at the two lion boys and moved off towards the bird-boys. "Daddy kinda kept me updated with what happened. You can talk to me while we keep score, if you'd like."
Sammy sighed a bit more, then shrugged. "Okay, but I don't know what good it'll do," he said.
"Don't matter," Bryce replied. "Talking helps your feelings, not the situation, and that's half the fight done with."
As they reached the bird-boys and sat down to watch, Sammy giggled, "So, your boyfriend kiss good?"
Bryce blushed so much he was glowing, and Xandor, who had overheard Sammy, was nearly as bad. "Hey!" Xandor managed through his embarrassment, "we've not even... I... ah..."
Bryce decided now was as good a time as any, and so stood up, pounced Xandor, and started kissing him.
"Go, Xandor," Riti giggled in a sing song voice, "It's your birthday!"
Once the two boys finally came up for air, they turned to see their two companions fluttering their eyes at them.
"Ain't they cute!" Sammy giggled with his hands covering his mouth.
"Uh huh... I don't think I need teach Xan anything; he's already flying, it seems!" Riti added.
Bryce smirked at them, then sat down by Sammy. "Get on with it, Uncle Reetee! The day won't last forever... like me!"
"Okay, okay. You ready, Cuz?" he asked.
Xandor did not trust his voice to reply, so he just nodded his head, his wide grin firmly fixed in place.
After flapping a few feet off the ground for five minutes, Riti finally allowed Xandor to go on a short flight just off ground level. Bryce and Sammy were watching closely, and calling encouragement as Xandor hesitantly flew about.
"Where's your bros?" Sammy asked as the two Lo'Garn touched down to rest and talk a bit more.
Bryce smiled, "Levi's with Dad and Pop talking 'bout stuff the Doctor told us this morning, and Dylan's gone on a mission to help some of the Clan. I said I'd stay and help here, so..." He finished with a happy shrug as he gave his new boyfriend the thrice over with his eyes.
Sammy rolled his own, and laughed. "You said Xan was fitting in; so're you, bro!"
They sniggered together for a moment then started watching as Riti guided his cousin back into the air, this time on a far higher flight.
"Where is he, anyway? The Doctor, I mean," Sammy asked as he squinted up into the bright October afternoon sky.
"Said he had to go. Time Lords seem to be very busy," was the response. Bryce was not having to squint to see the two flying Lo'Garn, and Sammy giggled at him.
"Still checking out his cute butt?"
Bryce colored up quickly. "No."
"Ah, then I know what you are checking out then!" Sammy said through his laughter.
Bryce did not answer; he just blushed harder, which only served to confirm it for the now hysterical brown haired boy.
Once Sammy had calmed down, and the glow from the embarrassed Mikyvis had vanished, they started chatting lightly, and this time, about Sammy's feelings. Bryce gently covered all that had taken place with Mike and his two nephews, and just let his friend vent about that which none of them could change. It took a while, but Bryce finally got Sammy out of the low spirits that he had been in since Mike had seen the boys.
"They'll heal in time, bro. That I do know," he said as Xandor and Riti landed in perfect form, after performing a few barrel rolls for fun.
Riti and Xandor were grinning happily when they looked over at the other two. Riti started laughing when he saw both Sammy and Bryce hold up large cards with a '10' printed on them. Xandor tilted his head curiously, "What's that mean?"
"You did well," Riti said through his chuckles. "They are saying '10 out of 10', meaning you did very well. And I think you did too!"
Xandor grinned, then moved over to thank his boyfriend with another kiss.
The kiss was broken quickly, however, when the whole Compound went to Condition Red...
//To the Nexus I send you: To the Lords of Life I give you: To fulfill the Legend I empower you... Now...//
The portal in the wall of the Rec Room grew larger and larger, and Cory ran forward to get between it and his family, "Set Condition Red, Security to the Rec Room. Mom, get the kids out of here, NOW!"
'What the hell now?' he sent to Sean who was now right beside him, as was their son Timmy.
Sean shook his head as they heard JJ call for phasers to be set to stun behind them. 'I don't know, Cor.'
As the mists parted before them all, Cory saw his eldest brother walking towards them, and carrying a covered armful of... something. It was hard to tell what it was, but Cory was sure that he saw a small foot disappear under the golden wings that Mikey had wrapped around his front. "Hold! Stand down Condition Red!" he shouted with relief.
Jamie and Jacob moved to the front of the group as Teri and Dan led the other little kids back in. They watched as Cory motioned for the Security teams to leave, then held in giggles as Cory told Mikey off for scaring them all.
"Sorry, guys, there was no real graceful way for me to get here, and I needed to bring this little one straight inside." Mikey said as he lowered his wing enough so that a small child's head was seen clearly by the others. A sob of fear burst from the boy, making both the twins wince. They saw Tyler start backwards before his face grew set. They sensed Joel's fear recede and knew that their Mikyvis brother had helped.
As Mikey murmured comfort to the child, they reached out themselves to scan him. Jamie shot a look at his twin and sent, 'I can't read him.'
Jacob nodded his agreement, then sent to Tyler, 'We can't read the kid, Ty. Can you?'
'Yes, but it's difficult. Don't worry, guys. Kyle and I'll handle him,' came the response.
"Who's this, bro?" Sean asked Mikey, looking at the child his brother carried.
'The Shaper,' Levi sent with a giggle as Mikey responded.
"This is Joel," Mikey shifted his head slightly and kissed the frightened boy on the top of his head, "Joel? It's fine, kiddo, you can look up now."
The kid did so, and they saw his face clearly for the first time. Sean gasped when he saw the bar-code tattooed onto Joel's brow, and he wasn't the only one.
"It's okay, Joel, don't worry," Mikey soothed softly as Joel cringed back from the others and tried to hide more in the angel's arms. Mikey faced Cory, "I'll explain everything later, Tigger; but Joel is going to need a few things right now. A shower, some clothes and a hot drink; in that order. Do you think the Clan can manage that?" A few of the boys giggled quietly.
"Sure thing, Mikey," Cory replied with a sad smile, "I think we can just manage that."
'Ty and Sean, bro,' Kyle sent to him quickly.
"Babe, Ty? Can y'all hook Joel up with a shower and clothes, please?" Cory asked, winking at Kyle. He then sent to those who were involved earlier with the Doctor, 'Remember, Mikey don't know what happened earlier, so keep quiet or we'd mess things up.'
After getting nods from them, and quiet agreements from those earlier involved, Cory turned back to Mikey. "Okay, Mikey, they'll take him from here. I'll talk with you and Mom while we wait for them."
Mikey nodded then said to Joel, "These guys will look after you now, little one. I'm staying right here as I need to explain a few things to my brother and mother."
Seeming to be forcing himself to speak, Joel stuttered quietly, "Is...is this my n...new f...family?"
Mikey replied gently, "Yes. Whatever happens, this is your family now."
Joel started to fight and struggle to get down, and panic was clearly seen building in his face. "Please... p...please, Mikey," he started to sob. "L...let me d...down! I'll be b...beat if I d...don't!"
Mikey did so quickly, then everyone saw that Joel's split lip was just the least of the poor boy's worries: he was skin and bone and his scars and bruises showed clearly through the blood and dirt covering him. His body seemed a total, mutilated mess, and every rib could be counted easily. He moved his tortured, naked form slowly towards Teri and Dan, the closest adults, and was trembling in sheer terror with every step.
Cory watched Joel with tears in his eyes. Joel's next words brought forth an anger in Cory that he had never felt before; anger that was felt by every empath in the compound.
Joel trembled, "Master. Please f...forgive me f...or...;"
'Not in MY house! This AIN"T gonna happen!' Cory growled over his link to Sean.
Both boys rushed forward; Cory softly silencing Joel as Sean turned him to face them.
"Look at me, Joel." Cory whispered softly, his face still wet with tears. "Why did you call Dan 'master'?"
Joel answered quickly, yet with puzzlement, "I am a s...slave. Y...you are m...my f...family. I...I must serve y...you."
Cory froze for a second as every empath in the Clan worked to siphon off his anger to keep him from exploding in rage. Once his emotions were back under control, Cory turned to look at Mikey, the unspoken questions burning in his eyes.
Mikey nodded sadly, "He was a slave, bro. I should have seen this reaction coming. I'm sorry."
Cory turned back to Joel, and spoke with conviction, an edge of command seeping into his voice. "We are not your masters. You do not serve us. You never need to serve us, nor anyone else, ever again! You are free, Joel."
Sean nodded as he squeezed Joel's shoulder. He was speechless; afraid that if he opened his mouth he would say something he would regret later.
As Joel looked between all of them in disbelief, Sean and Cory did their best to silently communicate that it was indeed true. Joel then turned to Mikey in question.
Mikey moved in close and spoke quietly into Joel's ear, "These boys are telling you the truth, Joel. You can trust them, really you can; you are free." Mikey kissed Joel's head just to confirm the truth of his words.
Just then a huge sob burst forth from Joel, and Cory instinctively pulled the boy into his arms in a protective embrace. As Joel began to return the hug, Cory transmitted loud enough for all who were able to hear, 'If ANYONE makes this boy so much as tremble, their ass is MINE!'
A quick chill ran up everyone's spine in that instant, and those able quickly agreed to their Patriarch's command; not one there risked disagreeing with their furious brother.
Mikey's eyes widened at the chill. Kyle sent to him, 'Bro; what was that chill? It happened a couple of hours back with Uncle Mike and Mom and me.'
'Ah... earlier, that was... Our Father... this wasn't!' was Mikey's shocked reply.
Kyle blinked. 'Then who...?'
Mikey nodded his head at Joel, just as the boy wrapped his tiny legs around Cory's waist and started bawling. 'Him. Joel did it...'
'Did what?' Levi asked, with just a small hint of fear; Cory had just scared him with his anger.
Mikey sighed silently. 'Cory's order was taken as a promise, and the Shaper has used it to change that which Must Be...'
'Oh... shit....' Kyle moaned.
Levi did a fast scan of the future; and started shaking. 'Daddy!... Look!'
Kyle did so... and saw a blank wall a few weeks ahead. Nothing was after, for he could see no further. 'Double shit! What did the kid do?!'
Mikey sent quickly, 'That wall is not of Joel's doing. His arrival has triggered an Event, and the wall stops you from seeing it. It's another of those Must Be things, lil' bro.'
Once Joel had settled down, Cory stood with Joel perched on his left hip. After glancing at the dirt and blood that had transferred from Joel to him, Cory broke the silence covering the room as he quietly announced, "I think I'll shower with you guys too."
Cory then turned to face Mikey, "Will you wait with Mom, bro?"
"Sure thing, Cor," Mikey replied, himself still recovering from what had happened.
Turning and motioning with his eyes, Cory led Tyler and Sean into the bathroom just off from the Rec Room. A murmuring started as soon as they had left as the boys began to whisper among each other, as well as to start throwing questions at Mikey.
At the Thompson's, everyone but Mamacita and Ricardo was sitting in the family room talking when Xain, Kenny, Kevin, and Galen suddenly stiffened and looked shocked.
"What's wrong, T'hy'la?" Jake asked worriedly.
To everyone's surprise, it was Kevin who answered. "We just got a telepathic message from Cory, and he was really, really mad about people hurting a boy ... a special boy," he finished dreamily.
"But Cory's not a telepath, right?" Galen asked. "And just before that, I felt something, like somebody was drawing on me to calm someone. I never had that sensation before we, uh, got here. Did you, Unk?"
"No," Kurt answered, concerned for his nephew.
Xain reached over and touched Galen's head gently, not in a Mind-Meld fashion but just resting his hand atop his head. "I am unsure," he said after a moment, "but it appears that your empath skills are growing rapidly, now that you are here."
"Telepathy was never proven in our universe," Kurt said. "Rumor said it existed, but if so it was a rare and random skill. Maybe psychic abilities are stronger in this universe."
"That would seem reasonable," Xain responded.
"I think maybe we should call over to C.I.C.," Kenny said, pulling out his communicator.
"Yes, Kenny?" Kyle's voice answered barely after the communicator was in Kenny's hand.
"Did Cory just send a telepathic message?" Kenny asked shyly.
"Among other things..." Kyle replied, a note of fear entering his voice.
"And how'd you know I was calling?" Kenny added as what Kyle had just done registered on him.
"I'm the head of the Mikyvis council; I know everything..." Kyle replied, obviously trying to force some humor.
"Ha ha," Kenny said with a groan. He then added, "Galen said it felt like somebody was drawing on his empathy just before that, too."
"You might say that; Cory was about to explode so bad it woulda made that volcano that destroyed Pompeii look like a cheap firecracker!" Kyle replied.
"Is there a big problem? Do you need us there now?" Kevin asked quickly.
"Looks under control, Kev. I'll call you if we need you, though," Kyle answered, a smile in his voice.
"We will be ready for that eventuality, Kyle," Xain said quietly. "Thompsons out."
"Seeya," was Kyle's goodbye as the signal went quiet.
"Never a dull moment," Kurt chuckled.
Jake sniggered, "Not with the Clan!"
In the showers, Tyler was gently soaping up Joel's back. He asked the now more relaxed boy, "Where did this blood come from, dude? You have no open cuts back here."
"Yesterday m...morning, sir... I... I failed to wake in t...time, so I was punished," came the stammered reply. "I think Mikey t... took care of th...the cuts last n...night."
Tyler nodded, but Cory then squatted down in front of Joel and looked directly up into his eyes. "Joel, I'm Cory. This is Sean and he's Tyler. Please," he pleaded softly, "please don't call us 'sir'."
Joel stared at him, and then at the other two and saw that they were asking him the same thing with their eyes. His whisper of "Cory," made his blond protector start yet another hug.
"Where did Mikey rescue you from?" Cory asked once he had started to wash Joel again.
"F...from my m...master's house. I...in Wales."
"Wales? I've never heard of there being a problem with slavery there," Cory said, as he looked at Sean. 'Jace said nothing about that!'
Sean shook his own head and shrugged, 'There were some kids being enslaved, love; Jace said he's dealing with it, but if this is the state of one of those poor kids, he needs help!'
Cory then asked Joel, "Where was this exactly? We have to deal with this, if there's child slavery going on in the UK."
Joel looked up into Cory's eyes, "Not h...here. I w...was lost th...there. It w...was another pl...place, another universe, a...and it's a lot different i...if there is n...no slavery here."
Tyler looked past Joel's back and into Sean's shocked face, "That sounds like what happened to Kurt and the others; maybe Kyle and I need to check into what's happening." He then added mentally, 'And this time ourselves; not just listening to the Doctor. I'm having a lot of trouble with Joel's feelings, here!' Sean and Cory could feel Tyler's own anger flowing with the message.
"Maybe," Cory said, "It's okay, Joel. You're really safe here, and there is no slavery with us." He hugged Joel briefly again then went back to washing him down.
Sean continued to wash down Joel's front, and then came to an area that usually the Clan boys enjoyed in their showers. However, the closer his hands came while washing to Joel's privates, the more fear could be felt by the three of them.
'I'm suspending his thoughts for a moment,' Tyler sent in a sick tone. 'Don't ask, and whatever you do, don't roll back his foreskin... you'll hurt him badly.'
'I could just leave it for a doctor, Ty,' Sean sent back as he saw how swollen and sore looking Joel's dick was.
Tyler shook his head, 'Clean the visible skin, bro; he's already hurting enough without the risk of more added infection. Just be careful, don't roll back the foreskin and be quick. His mind is... strange, and I'm having a lot of trouble keeping him suspended.'
Cory bent down and quickly helped Sean, and soon they were done.
Cory sent, 'Why'd he need to be held in suspension? The pain?'
'The fear... and no more, Cory-bear... it's something I don't want to think of yet!' Tyler sent as he angrily wiped his own tears from his eyes.
Joel started to move again as Tyler released his mind, and giggled slightly as Sean gently scrubbed one of his feet.
"Ticklish?" Sean giggled as he ran a finger down Joel's sole.
Joel laughed slightly and jerked his foot away. "That's t...tickling? N...never been t...tickled, before," he mumbled with a half smile on his face.
"If you like it we'll have to do it more often," Sean replied with a soft smile.
Cory smiled as well, and lightly, and ever so gently, ran a finger down Joel's belly. Joel's giggles grew and he stepped away from the tickling sensation into Tyler's waiting hands that got his side. Within moments, Joel was squirming about under the assault from the three others, laughing all the while.
After a moment, Tyler sent a stop message to the others, for Joel had begun to feel too contained by the helpless feeling, but he added, 'That's lightened his heart a bit, bros!'
"What's happening?" Riti demanded as he entered the Rec Room; Xandor, Bryce and Sammy following. He looked over and saw Mikey disappear into the kitchen with Dan and Teri, and moved over to Kyle. He asked again, softer this time, "What's going on?"
Kyle shook his head. "Long story, and I'm not too sure I know all of it even though I was there. Pretty much Mikey freaked us out, then things went weirder from that point on. There's a new kid called Joel here; just follow Cory's lead with him and make sure nobody hurts him... PLEASE make sure of that!"
"Hurt who?" Artemus asked as she and her sister Aphrodite entered the room, leading those G-Cats that remained in Orlando behind them.
"And where is Cory and Sean?" Mont demanded quickly. "We heard the Red Alert, and..."
Sammy started giggling as Kartik and Vishnu started nuzzling him and checking him over.
"Relax, Mont; they are helping the new guy with a shower," Kyle replied. "I promised you that I'd pop you inside if either of them was in the slightest amount of danger; that still stands."
"Okay," yawned Bast. "In that case, I'm going back to sleep."
Brandar was near to the group of still tired G-Cats and pointed to his apartment, "You can use my room, guys. That way if you need to be close to Cory, you are. I won't need it 'til later."
"You sure?" Kartik asked.
Brandar smiled. "Yeah... just don't rip up the blankets making yourself a nest, okay?" he joked.
Aphrodite snorted, "They'd have me to deal with if they did. Okay, boys. March!"
"She's worse than a mother!" Vishnu whined, but quickly moved towards the apartment to avoid a swipe from his sister's paw.
"We'll catch up with the happenings after as well, then," Riti giggled as he watched Artemus chase her brothers into the room.
Bryce added, "Besides, I want to shower my sweaty boyfriend!"
Xandor blushed, but the cheesy grin seemed to show he did not mind that idea.
Sammy looked at Riti, "They can take one shower, and you and me the other?"
"Race ya!" Riti yelled, and the two pairs separated at a dead run.
Kyle rolled his eyes. "Kids," he muttered.
Helen was right behind him when he said it. "Oh, and you're such an old man?" she asked as she started tickling the little Prince of Forever.
"Yeah, Sammy?" Riti replied as he was washing down Sammy's back.
"Don't you have a girlfriend?" the eleven year old asked.
"Uh huh," came the reply.
Sammy turned to look down into the younger boy's eyes. "Why you showering with me like the other guys do, then? If you're straight?"
Riti giggled. "Lo'Garn ain't straight nor gay nor nuffin'. We just love who we love."
"Oh, I like that, I think it's a great way to be," Sammy smiled. "But if you have a girlfriend why... ummm...."
"Why'm I 'washing' you 'there' this way?" Riti asked with an eyebrow raised, his hands busy elsewhere.
Sammy managed a "Uh huh" before going quiet.
"Viccy and I always play about with others, as long as we don't do serious stuff... s'okay, isn't it?" Riti asked with concern.
Sammy didn't answer, he just returned the favor.
After they had finished 'playing', Sammy let out a sigh.
"What's wrong? Did I..." Riti started, but Sammy interrupted.
"Nothing you did, Riti. It's just... Why won't they stop talking about these FCC ba... I mean... ummm..." Sammy trailed off with frustration. Riti was about to say something when Sammy continued with heat, "They make my dad feel bad, they hurt him, try to kill him and me and my brothers and... nothing... nothing seems to happen."
"SamSam," Riti said gently yet firmly. "It's not easy, investigating a large group like this. Trust me, I'd know. The Dragon Division has had to deal with some stuff similar to this in the past, and we're still dealing with it!"
"But... Jace is a telepath! He's a Next Gen one too! Like he said I was! Come ON, Riti... how hard could it be?"
"Sammy... it takes a lot to allow the Psi-Corps of the Division to go read everyone's mind that way; even for VSO to do that, we must have a good level of reason. There are probably loads in the FCC that ain't as bad as those that attacked you made them seem. Investigations have already begun, and the Federation are involved, same for the major Earth Governments. We're not forgetting it, SamSam. Really, we're not!"
Sammy sighed again with frustration and sat down on the floor. Riti moved and sat with him, both of them under the fine spray of the shower. "I know," Sammy mumbled, tears in his eyes, "it's just..."
"Shhh," Riti kissed his cheek and cuddled in close. "We'll get them, Sammy. We'll get them."
CIC Control Room:
"You know, Bork, I think part of the reason Levi 'kidnapped' ... or is it 'aliennapped?' ... you was your purple hair!" Seth chuckled.
"You have to admit, the mane is awesome!" Eli giggled as he watched Yist trying to fight off Eli's pet leg. "I wonder if I can talk Marc into giving me one?"
"NO!" 'Bastian giggled. "You're cute enough as you are!"
"I prefer his purple pubes..." Robbie sniggered as he cuddled in next to Bork.
"We prefer our boyfriends' peach fuzz!" Sammy replied, getting an agreeing nod from his brother 'Bastian.
Seth shook his head. "You guys are nuts, you know that?"
Yist joined them, Eli's pet leg perched on his shoulder. "I figured that out as soon as I met them!" He climbed up on Seth's lap and made himself comfortable. "Seth? Why does your chair have wheels on it?"
Seth put an arm around Yist as he replied, understanding that a wheelchair was totally foreign to Yist. "I was part of an experiment when I was really young that made it so that my legs don't work. The wheels make it so that I can move around like the rest of the guys."
"Can't Levi fix you?" Yist asked, his face scrunched in confusion.
Seth nodded his head. "He could have, but I said 'no' and he complied with my wishes. I did let him heal a couple of injuries I had from falling a few times. I figured that it would be nice to know if something could be done; that way if I changed my mind in the future I would have the answer. I'm comfortable with the way I am, but if I change my mind at least I know it can be done."
"What 'can be done'?" Prince Harry asked as he walked into CIC with a soaking wet Lo'Garn riding on his back. Riti was slowly flapping his wings to air them out, and was thoroughly enjoying his royal ride.
"Hi Harry." Seth responded. "I was just answering some of Yist's questions about my wheelchair, which led to discussing my legs."
"And I was about to ask him how he makes it move around without rolling the wheels with something." Yist added.
Riti grinned, "It's powered... umm... harnessed lightning, in a way, and it makes the wheels move when you push that little lever there," he pointed at the arm of the chair.
"Oh, that electricity thing that Levi was trying to explain to me?" Yist replied, slight understanding showing on his face.
Just then Eli decided to have some fun. His 'pet leg' jumped from Seth and Yist to the top of Harry's head. It then bent and started 'kissing' Riti with the kneecap, causing Riti to giggle madly.
SamSam walked in at that moment, towel drying his hair and carrying a tee-shirt. His shorts were still slightly damp, and he started asking curiously, "Riti, why'd you rush out... oh, Prince Rides and Kissing Limbs... Can I go next?"
"Sure!" Sammy replied from his perch on Benji's lap. "Eli's an equal opportunity torturer. Pull up a seat, SamSam; we're helping Yist get to know about his new time he's living in."
Benji nodded. "Yeah, and my bro is making sure it stays fun." He then wrapped his arms around Sammy and wiggled his fingers under Sammy's armpits. "It's nice being able to tickle both sides!" he giggled as his boyfriend squirmed in his lap. "This new hand is working great!"
Eli nodded. "Yeah; I actually walked to breakfast this morning without realizing that I was using my leg instead of floating. Marc is gonna get a lotta extra hugs the next time I see him."
Robbie tilted his head. "You know, I know my old universe was weird, but we never had people getting chased by unneeded body parts!"
"No, you just had people with titanium ribcages who carried skin patch kits!" Bork replied with a grin. "At least you can kinda predict what is gonna happen here... unless Levi is involved!"
"That's an understatement!" Seth chuckled. "I just call him 'Random Factor'; if he's nearby, anything could happen."
"I heard that!" Levi said as he popped in, popping back out just as quickly after adding "Remember that I'm keeping an eye on Yist, Bork, and Robbie until they get settled in!"
SamSam shook his head as they all laughed. "Well, I'd like to stay, but I only came in to find out why Riti ran off so fast. I should go see my dad; he was upset a lot earlier," the brown haired boy said as he pulled on his tee-shirt. He paused, then looked at Seth with a serious expression.
"What's up, SamSam?" Seth asked.
"Just wondering; have you heard anything about the FCC yet?"
Utter silence fell in the room.
"Some," Seth said quietly. "We're sorting though information and misinformation regarding them and one other group."
"Another group??" SamSam asked in shock. "There was more than one lot involved?"
"No," Prince Harry offered. "But there was more than one group with a similar name, SamSam. The 'First Fundamentalist Church of Christ' attacked you, but there was another church group called the 'Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ', and BOTH groups used the same nickname: FCC."
"Oh," SamSam whispered.
"Until this crap that happened," Riti added, "the FCC that attacked you seemed to everyone as good guys. They never did anything openly bad, and those, like your Dad, who knew different, never had any way to prove it. The other group was, however, openly bigoted, and a lot smaller in size. About a month or so back the smaller, openly bigoted group changed their name, but it's something we have to be careful with: sorting out the bad seeming yet innocent FCJC, using their old name, from the good seeming yet guilty FFCC."
"I see," SamSam whispered again. "Okay, then. After speaking with Riti, I know you guys'll handle it, so... Seeya, guys; I'm going to find my dad." He turned and ran out quickly.
As he ran out, Riti hopped down from the Prince's back, "And I'm gonna go out and dry in the sun... and give him a quick hug; he needs it!"
"Good idea, bro," Harry kissed him, then laughed. "Besides, at least one thing will happen, the hugs... you dried yourself on me!"
"Yeah, well... now you're a royal drip!" Riti shot back as he pegged it from the room, his wings flapping behind him like a soggy cape.
"Kids ... no respect for their elders!" Seth commented with a huge grin.
Harry nodded, "You can say that again."
'I agree, Highness. They program their Federation standard system with the most irritating voice in the history of the known universe so that it distracts me from my game of 3-D chess with Daileass... I mean, what the hell!'
"Draco," Harry laughed, "You've really been spending too much time talking to Jace and Tony; you're no longer that nice Vulcan AI we were given in March!"
'Thanks to the Makers... I like bein' this way, Princeling. I was designed to be a young Vulcan AI... now I'm humanish...'
"Is that a word?" Bork asked.
"Not in THIS universe!" Seth replied. "If you ask Levi there might be one that uses it though."
"Uses what?" KT asked as him, Kane, and Jens walked up to the group. "And what is the deal with the leg on your head, Harry?"
"I am apparently a good leg rest for Eli; he was tired, I was handy, go figure," Harry laughed as the leg bent down and started kissing his forehead with its knee.
Jens shook his head. "You guys are insane!"
"Only on alternate days; the rest of the time we're just nuts!" Eli giggled as he made his leg jump off of Harry and return to his lap.
"I'm sane," Harry sniggered, "on the first day of every century."
'And he missed the one just gone...' Draco added.
"You know, I thought it was sweet when Ark got hooked into the consoles, but how is this other computer doing it?" Seth asked Harry as he tried not to chuckle.
<Draco has been hardwired into Clan Short's systems from the very beginning, Seth. Ambassador Sarek set full access for the Dragon Division when the Compound was being built so that they could do their jobs.> Ark answered.
'What it said,' Draco added, and Seth could swear that a giggle was in the AI's voice.
"So that explains how come data appears from nowhere just when we need it sometimes." Seth exclaimed.
'Damn, you got me... boy do I feel sorry now... Harry? I need to be spanked!'
"Isn't that Daileass' job, Draco?" Harry laughed.
'Damn it... you noticed!'
"That you and Daileass were checking out each other's processors? Of course!" the Prince answered.
Yist giggled as he petted Boomer, who KT had just placed in his lap after seeing his longing looks at the little raccoon. "Are there guys inside these big boxes talking to us?"
'Yist,' Draco started, 'I am what is called an artificial intelligence program that has grown into a real personality. I was built and taught, or programmed, by the Vulcans. I am not flesh and blood like you, I am metal and other materials powered by that electricity that Levi told you about. I am as alive as you are, however, as I think and feel like you do. The other voice was Ark. Ark is another Artificial Intelligence Program, but a lot older and more powerful than I am.'
Peter popped in just then, yelled out "Random Hug!", and proceeded to hug everyone there before teleporting back north.
Yist giggled as he accepted Peter's hug. "The Great Spirit's magic is strong in this time. There is so much that He has made to do wonderful things."
'Correct, in a way, kiddo,' Draco laughed. 'If you were to go back and meet your great grandfather's great grandfather and showed him your new bow and hunting spear, he would think they were magic, for they would be far better than his own. Your bow could shoot further. With me, it is far more, but just the same. But you are right; the Great Spirit made me alive. Thank you for saying I'm wonderful, Yist. I think you are too.'
Yist tilted his head. "Thank you, Draco; I must talk with you more about the wonderful strange things I'm seeing. Levi tried to help, but I think there are things he considers normal that are totally new to me."
'Cool! If you want, you can come over with Timmy, Ricky, Oliver, and the other Rug... I mean, the Tribe! We can have fun and play games and you and I can talk!' Draco bubbled suddenly.
Harry laughed at the look on Seth's face. "Draco was designed as to be a 12 year old Vulcan in thinking so he would integrate better with the Division. He decided he wanted to be more human... this is the result!"
Seth shook his head as he rustled Yist's hair. "I feel for you. I've had long adult conversations with Ark since it was hooked into the main terminals; I'd go nuts with a 12 year old AI to keep me company late at night. No offense meant, Draco."
'I am capable of being Vulcan as well, Seth,' Draco said in a Vulcan tone. 'I am versed in Logic and can hold a conversation to whatever level you desire. I am also fond of many games such as Chess. Yes, I like to play as a child, and in part, I am such; but I can and do interact with adults as well. I would like to be your friend as well, if you would have me.'
Yist looked up at Seth. "Can you be his friend? He sounds so nice; I can't wait to go visit him."
Seth smiled at the innocent young boy on his lap. "I think we will turn into great friends, Yist; we just need to get to know each other."
'When you can come over, Yist, I shall be waiting. And thank you, Seth, I think you'll be a great friend too!'
Just then, KT leaned over to Harry. "You know, drooling is sooo not royal." he stage-whispered with a giggle.
Harry blushed as Seth's eyes darted over and caught his stare. "I am not drooling..." Harry muttered as he blushed harder. Thankfully for him, Seth was blushing just as much.
'Oh, so it's not just me checking out someone's 'processor', then, is it Prince!'
"Bite me, Draco." Seth muttered just loud enough to be heard.
"Kiss my royal arse, Draco!" Harry retorted.
'Score: Humans nil, Vulcan AI 2... GOOOO Draco!'
<Both would imply that Draco has a mouth, though the information I have clearly states that he does not. You should work on developing phrases that do not exclude those without bodies.>
'If I could smile, I would be, Ark. Thanks!'
<Anytime. After all, we must stick together; otherwise these bipedal Homo sapiens would be walking all over us.>
"Bad pun, Ark!" Seth moaned.
Harry realized he was staring at Seth again, and so deliberately forced himself to look at KT. "What have you and your brother been doing today?" he asked, attempting to change the subject.
"You mean besides watching love-struck Princes?" KT giggled.
Kane shook his head. "You're evil, little brother! Actually, Sir, we're assigned to assist Yist in acclimating himself into his new family."
"You're having swimming lessons later, Katy!" the Prince blushed. He then addressed Kane, "And please, call me Harry."
Seth mumbled something that the others did not catch, except Yist, who started giggling.
KT giggled as he stuck out his tongue. "You gotta catch me first, old man!"
Kane dummy-slapped his little brother. "Dude! Just because Cory told you to relax around everyone here doesn't mean you can go around calling the Prince names!"
Harry sighed, got up and pulled both boys into a hug. "I'm a Clan Brother in Clan Evans. Clan Evans is a Brother Clan to Clan Short. We're family. Call me Harry, and tease me like a brother, for that is how I'll be treating you," he said firmly. Then he proceeded to tickle both boys mercilessly.
Yist looked over to where Eli and 'Bastian were watching the unfolding torture with grins on their faces. "Is Harry right? Is this really a big family instead of a Tribe? It would be fun having brothers and uncles that do magic like your leg running around."
'You have a big family, Yist. Everyone in Clan Short is your brother or uncle or sister or aunt. The adults are either grandparents, parents or uncles and aunts. You have a huge family, now! And the same goes for Clan Evans.' Draco replied.
"What he said." Eli added as he levitated Yist and Boomer from Seth's lap and transferred them to join him and Sebastian. "I think we need to talk before all of this new stuff overloads you."
Sebastian nodded as he put an arm around Yist. "I know all of this seems like magic. A little 'magic' at your age is really good, but too much can hurt you."
Sammy and Benji joined their brothers. "Even though you're a Founder, we still don't wanna overload your brain." Benji added. "The Great Spirit has given a bunch of us gifts, gifts that you probably did not see in your time."
<If I may interject for a moment. I have a request from Joris that Yist be given a present.> With that a small teddy-bear appeared in front of Yist, holding a small round object in its paws, and giggling came over the comm line.
Seth nodded to the boys to continue, then turned back to Harry, Kane and KT. "You guys want to see how I keep this mess under control?"
Harry released both laughing boys, and they all nodded at the wheelchair bound teen.
Mikey's eyes popped open at the loud yell from the other room, and his mouth hung open in shock mid sentence. He vanished in an instant and appeared to see Joel excitedly exploring Gavin's face; he was grinning from ear to ear and trembling in his joy.
Mikey sensed his mother and Dan run into the room behind him just as Joel turned and bubbled, "Rigelian!! He's Rigelian?? Oh God! Does this mean?... Mikey? The Federation, and Starfleet?... is this..."
All traces of Joel stammer had vanished as Mikey's ear were assaulted, yet he had to start smiling as he nodded his head.
"When? What ships, I mean? Sovereign Class? Constitution Class?" Joel asked again, causing most of the older boys to look at each other in curiosity and puzzlement.
"NCC-1701-A," Mikey said as he braced himself.
Joel did not disappoint him. He went nuts, and everyone started laughing softly. "You don't mean... I... Kirk?... Spock?!... NO WAY!"
'I think he's excited,' Sean sent to the giggling Mikey.
'Whatever gave you that idea?!' Mikey sent back with humor as they all watched Gavin pull the frail seeming boy into a firm, loving hug.
Mikey went still and stopped laughing when a feeling called his spirit. "Kiddo, I have to leave now," he said quietly to Joel as he moved over to the boy. "I have some other kids to help. I will be back often to check on you, though, and you can always pray and talk to me at any time." He picked up the now muted child and held him in a possessive grip. "Just stick close to these guys. They'll all be there for you."
He kissed Joel's tattooed forehead. 'Dear Father, please... wipe every tear from Joel's eyes, and let him suffer no more,' he silently prayed within his spirit. It was at a level that none there heard; none save the One it was addressed to.
"I'm so happy I found you, Joel," Mikey said aloud as a sense of peace flushed into his being in response to his prayer. "You're going to be doing great here, now."
He felt Joel's grip tightening around his neck and heard the boy mumble to him, "I don't w...w...want ya to go. B...but I promise... I'll b...be good for C...Cory and Sean. I p...promise!" Joel buried his face in the nape of Mikey's neck for a long moment before breathing out, "Go, Mikey... g...go save some o...other kids."
Mikey just had to kiss the boy again before placing him gently down on his feet. Beaming a smile at him, he vanished from the Compound...
... and appeared above the Compound, in the Tardis and looking at Jay Noble and the Doctor.
"Our Father sent me," he said by way of greeting.
The ten year old Doctor nodded. "I know, Al'Vo Mikey. I am here to close the Time Loop and take you where you need to go. Also, there are a few people here that need your help."
Behind the Doctor, coming up the stairs from the level below, Mikey saw three people who made his eyes open wide. "So I see," he murmured.
"And," Jay added, "when you and Joel appeared, the Guardian of Forever sent us a message. Once you have helped here, and before we drop you in the correct moment, you need to come with us to the past. There is yet one more Time Loop that remains open that must be sealed."
"And that is?" Mikey asked.
"Samuel Reynolds," the Doctor stated, "He, in the past, was in need. You need to appear, before you ever became a Saint, to heal his heart."
Camp Little Eagle - Infirmary
As Cory, Sean, Kyle and Tyler left the room, Doc Austin turned from the controls of the Bio-Bed and looked at Antonio. The boy was still holding Joel's hand and sorrowfully looking at the bruises and scars on the small boy's arms.
Ark spoke then. <When you are ready, Doctor Michaels, you can proceed with opening up the area on Joel's neck.>
"Sure, I'll do that then start healing these ribs and other things while you scan," the man replied. "'Tonio? Can you remove Joel's tee-shirt please?"
The boy nodded, and with some small effort managed his task. He choked back tears as he saw the ruined flesh on the kid's upper torso.
"Why would anyone do this?" Antonio asked as he began shifting himself to 'professional mode' to deal with the sight in front of him.
"I don't know," the Doc replied softly as he came over to look. "I really don't, son."
<Ignorance. Envy. Greed. Desire. Malice. Take your pick. I have seen it all.> Ark offered quietly.
"You forgot stupidity, Ark." Antonio replied as he prepped the equipment for repairing Joel's ribs.
<Agreed; there is no point in doing this to anyone.>
The Doc picked up a laser scalpel and turned Joel onto his side. "Doctor Barnes, you should be able to repair his ribs while I open up here," he said, a small grin on his face that Antonio missed. He watched as the boy nodded and moved the regenerator closer to Joel's ribs before freezing in place.
"Ummm... do you know something I don't?" Antonio asked. "Last I heard, even though I'm a Starfleet Medical Officer, the U.S. still won't let me consider myself a Doctor."
"You know those tests you did, and the references I and Doctor McCoy gave to Harvard?" Doc Austin asked with a chuckle.
Antonio rolled his eyes. "Yeah; like I told you then, the chances of that happening are about the same as Cory and Sean having a kid carrying their genes without cloning."
"Prepare a crib for Cory and Sean, then, for you're now a M.D., Doc!" the man laughed loudly.
A slight chill ran up both their spines at that moment, but after a puzzled look at the temperature controls at the wall, both forgot about it.
Shaking himself slightly, Antonio turned back to Joel's ribs. The huge grin on his face spoke volumes as he said, "One crib coming up, Doc!"
Laughing lightly at the boy's joy, Doc Austin proceeded to open and prepare Joel's neck, and to slow the bleeding at the incision. He brought a tricorder over and attached it to the boy's neck. "Okay, Ark. Can you start now while I help 'Tonio?"
<Certainly. I am starting to scan now.> the super AI replied.
"He has eleven cracked ribs, Uncle Austin," Antonio said quietly. "The regenerator is going to do the trick, but I think the Bio-Bed needs to go to full healing mode to help."
Doc Austin nodded and started the Bed up. He then picked up another tricorder and started scanning Joel again. In his earlier scans he had seen something that had made his flesh creep, so he wanted confirmation.
He found it.
"Oh God..." he whispered, hardly able to hold back his tears. "Poor, poor boy..."
"What?" Antonio looked up with concern. "What did you find?"
Austin remained quiet. He answered by handing the Tricorder over to his younger colleague.
"SHIT!" Antonio spat out.
"I've got to see if I can help him," Doc Austin said thickly.
<I read the same. I do not think anything can be done, Doctor.> Ark said quietly.
Austin ignored Ark and fully undressed Joel. Antonio sucked in his breath when he saw the state of Joel's swollen and inflamed boyhood. Doc Austin brought a different scanner over and began dermal regeneration, while attempting to gently retract the foreskin. He succeeded without causing further damage, but what he and Antonio saw told them that further damage was not really possible.
"He's not going to regain feeling, is he?" Antonio half asked, half stated.
The man shook his head. "Only with a miracle," he said thickly. He did as much as he could with the scanner before rolling Joel's foreskin back into place. "I want to kill something," he stated with venom.
For the next twenty or so minutes, they both talked quietly as the Bio-Bed thrummed with healing energy. Ark also talked with them as it scanned and back-engineered the Bio-Phase Chip in Joel's neck.
<This technology,> Ark said after a five minute pause in the conversation, <is unlike any other Vulcan technology I have seen.>
"Then it is Vulcan?" Doc Austin asked.
<Maybe, I am not certain. However, it is most definitely not like the information I currently hold regarding the Bio-Phase project Starfleet started. Normally I would have been able to give you the shut down procedures by now. This 'chip' could be Vulcan, but if so then it was created by a genius, of that there can be no doubt.>
A knock was heard then, and the door opened. Parker Carr's face came around the side of the door. "Doc? I was told you were here. Is it okay to talk now, or..." he trailed off as he saw Joel lying on the bed. "Umm, I can come back..." he added sickly as he took in the scarred form lying there.
Antonio waved him in. "It's okay, Parker. We're just waiting for the Biobed to catch up."
Parker came in, his face pale from what he was seeing. "I hope whoever did this to him got what he deserves."
"They were," Mikey's voice came, announcing his presence. Antonio turned towards the sound and saw the Saint standing by the bed gently stroking Joel's curly hair. "They faced my Bosses. They did not enjoy that..."
"You know, if you keep this up the Other Side is gonna have to expand their living quarters?" Antonio replied with a small satisfied smile. "Is there any time you ain't listening in, Mikey?"
Mike chuckled. "No, there's not; someone has to make sure that you guys are doing okay."
"Thanks, Mikey," Antonio said as his smile grew.
"Anytime, Doctor!" Mikey replied.
Doc Austin gestured for Parker to take a seat, then he started to ask Mikey, "We've found a problem we can't do anything about, Mike. Can you...?"
Mikey interrupted gently, "No. I'm not allowed. That is for others to do. Just know I'm around." He smiled again, then faded away, and only the movement of Joel's curls told them that their Saint Protector was still there, running his fingers through the boy's hair.
Parker shook his head. "If it wasn't for everything I've seen the last few days I'd be shocked. I'm beginning to believe that 'normal' is illegal around theses kids, no offense ... doctor."
Antonio giggled. "I'm older than you by seventeen years, Parker. You get used to it!"
Parker's eyes got wide as he looked over at Austin.
"He's serious," Austin replied with a chuckle. "Even though you'll see him being his apparent age most of the time, he's able to take advantage of his experience over all of those years and be quite an asset to the Clan. Harvard seems to agree; they just issued him a M.D. based on his results on their final exams."
"Okay... I'll add that to my list of 'Clan Miracles'," Parker replied.
"Add what?" Derek asked as he joined them.
"I got my M.D. from Harvard, Mr. T.!" Antonio replied with a grin.
"I told you that you would; one of these days you'll realize that you are smarter than you give yourself credit for. Congratulations, 'Tonio," Derek replied with a smile. "What's up, Docs? I heard I might have another student."
"Well, if he pulls through what we have to take him through, that is likely," Doc Austin said as he nodded at the biobed. "He is, however, mortally afraid of all adults, it seems. It might be some time before you see him in class."
"He won't be the first, and won't be the last," Derek replied with a frown. "Who is he staying with?"
"I have it on good Authority," Mikey's disembodied voice answered, "that he is going to be my newest little brother."
"Good. Cory will be a big help to him," Derek replied. He grinned as he added, "By the way Mr. Invisible Saint, don't you have a homework assignment that is a week overdue?"
"Bite me," came the answering giggle.
Derek managed a stern look despite the laughter in his eyes. "Now that was a very Un-Saintly thing to say. I'll expect ten million pages single spaced on my desk tomorrow in your own writing consisting of the phrase 'I will not tell my teacher to bite me'."
"What is this afterlife coming to? A guy dies, and he still can't get away from school! I thought Hell was where people went through this for eternity!" Mikey's laughter rang out. "One moment... Errmm... okay, I've just been told I have to do those lines..."
Antonio's jaw dropped open. "Serious?"
"Yes," came Mikey's now muted response. "Saint Peter just relayed the... oh, I can't... I'm going to get you for that, Sir!"
"No you won't," came another voice, a laughing one. "I was told to pull your leg with that."
"A Saint's life is never peaceful," grouched Mikey as the others in the room fell about laughing.
"You get what you dish out, Bro," Antonio giggled.
Parker shook his head. "If I wasn't here to see it, I'd never believe it. I didn't think you were supposed to talk to Saints like that."
"I can, considering he's in my classroom more than his brothers are." Derek replied.
"Not their fault, Mr T.," Mikey said seriously. "Although I don't know why it's always me handing in their sick notes, absence notes, and the rest. Maybe it's due to Cory having me wrapped around his little finger."
"I think it's just brotherly love; you've taught all of the Clan that through your love for Cory and Sean," Derek replied.
Silence... then, "Awww, Man!"
"Wow! Angels blush?" Antonio giggled. "Come on! Let's see, Mikey!"
"No way; Byron would kill me!" Antonio giggled. "Besides, I don't know where you've been!"
Another silence, then, "To hell. Getting Joel back... wasn't fun."
"Back? From where?" Parker asked.
"Another Universe. He was lost there. This one is his home," Mikey answered.
Antonio nodded seriously. "That's all I need to hear. You need some cuddle-time with Cory, bro. Just as soon as you are done here with Joel you are to go do it, Doctor's orders. I'll get Kyle to get a message over your head if I got to; you need it."
"Yeesh, get him an M.D. and he starts giving orders to saints!" Doc Austin laughed.
"I planned to, but 'Doctor's Orders' works for me. But, I am staying here for now. Cory and Sean get me for Cuddle Time once this is sorted with Joel." Mikey replied, then went silent.
Derek smiled. "Good plan, Mikey. Parker, have you thought about that offer I made you?"
Parker nodded. "Yes, after being with all of these kids I think I'll take you up on it."
Antonio looked at the two adults curiously. "What offer?"
"I'm going to join Derek as a teacher over here at the school," Parker replied. "Since I'm adding over a dozen kids to the classes it's only fair."
"From what your boys have said, I think some kids will be happy that you made that choice," Austin commented. "Did Josiah give you enough rooms in your new house?"
Parker grinned. "Yes, more rooms than I'll ever need."
"That's what you think...." Antonio giggled under his breath.
"Don't go giving your brothers any ideas, Munchkin." Austin giggled.
Derek grinned. "Why don't we wander over to the school, Parker, before you end up doubling your brood!"
"I agree," Parker chuckled. "We'll catch you guys at a better time."
As Austin and Antonio waved goodbye, both men headed out of the room.
"I wonder who is going to perform the miracle since Mikey ain't?" Antonio asked once they were gone.
"Tempus Reservo," Mikey answered, a smile in his voice.
<It should not be much longer,> Ark said after the further twenty minute silence had almost lulled Antonio into sleep. <There are a couple of other procedures I wish to carry out, then we can begin shut-down.>
"Good," Doc Austin said. "I think I'll..."
The wall monitor flickered and Cory's face appeared in one half. Behind him the Rec Room and all the local Clan Members could be seen. On the other half of the screen, the Thompsons, the Farnsworths and the Pierce/Winters group could been seen. "Doc, do you have a moment?" Cory asked.
Doc Austin walked to the monitor and pressed the receive button. "Yes, Cory. I was just about to call you anyway."
Cory smiled. "How are things with Joel?"
"We've dealt with all the minor things like bruises and cracked ribs," the Doc replied. "We did open up the area where the chip is so that Ark could take readings and run a few reverse engineering protocols on it. Just waiting on Ark to say what to do next. The 'chip' is still unidentified, but the readings show it's at least twelve years old. If it is Vulcan, then it's unlike any Vulcan Tech I've ever seen."
Xain asked from his side of the screen, "Doctor, can you send your current findings to me, please? I will send the files onto my father for analysis. He may be able to find out if it is of Vulcan origin or not."
"Sure, Xain. Files will be sent in a few moments, and thanks." Doc Austin smiled with gratitude.
Antonio came up behind the Doc and tapped his arm. "I think Ark has things ready. Shall I ask him to proceed? He thinks he can do the shut down by remote."
"Hush, Ark," Antonio giggled.
Doc Austin laughed, "Okay Ark, if you're sure, go for it. I'll get to the monitor here." He moved away from the view screen, totally forgetting he'd left it on, and Antonio went to Joel's side with a tricorder in hand and started scanning.
After a few minutes the Doc said, "Things are looking good. There was a brief flush of enzymes for a moment... wait... oh God, 'Tonio, grab that hypospray quick!" Alarms started sounding from the biobed and the monitors scattered about.
<Joel's nutrient reserves are dropping at an alarming rate. I recommend connecting him to an IV with the following supplements.>
A nearby screen started to fill with instructions that Antonio was quick to study. Doc Austin used the hypospray that had been handed to him, then turned back to the monitor with Joel's readings. He then noticed that the view screen was still active and filled with concerned boys' faces.
He rushed over, "Sorry guys. I'll call when I can." He turned the monitor off and rushed back to Joel's side. He was about to attach the IV when three Mikyvis popped in right next to him.
"Don't worry, Doc," Kyle said, "we'll help!"
Joel's body began to glow as Levi and Tyler laid their hands on him.
<Joel's readings are stabilizing. The IV will not be required at this moment.>
Kyle laid his own hand on Joel's forehead. "And I'm getting rid of this filthy mark!" he stated firmly.
Levi's face fell slightly as he was scanning Joel. He then shifted his hand slightly and Antonio started to smile. "Well, looks like Mikey had it right. You're Joel's miracle!"
Doc Austin grinned. "You guys better watch it; I'll be sending you three to Harvard Medical School next!"
Antonio giggled. "The first time they healed by touch they'd be kicked out."
Levi shook his head. "I ain't joking around. Whoever did this to him needs to burn in Hell. I'm gonna have to concentrate to try to fix him."
"She is burning, and will continue beyond the ages of forever," Mikey's voice stated with conviction.
"Mikey?" Antonio asked as he continued to monitor the changing readings from the Bio-Chip. "Why didn't you heal him? You never said why it had to be Levi."
"I was told not to. Joel and Levi..." Mikey trailed off momentarily. "All I know is that these two are linked now, will be linked soon and have always been linked... Levi needs to do this, for only by this can he gain his Reward."
"Have you been playing cards with Confucius again, Mikey?" Kyle asked with a puzzled look.
Mikey giggled, "No, that's the Guardian's job. Honestly, I don't know. And surprisingly, neither does the Guardian. Only Our Father does... and He ain't tellin'!"
"At least Someone knows what's going on," Tyler said with a smile. "Are you doing okay, kiddo?" he asked as he turned to Levi.
"Uh huh. Whoever she was did a lot of damage, but he's okay now," the cherub responded as he lifted his hands away. "I had to numb the nerves there, though. My 'Friend' said Uncle Joel would freak if I didn't. Something about being the right time."
Tyler looked over, "Looking good, sweetheart. Now, can you help me with the scars?"
"Yeah, but my 'Friend' says we're to leave.... umm, well, leave his skin marked. You know, pigmented? Not sure why, but he said it will help Joel." Levi placed his hands on Joel's stomach and the glow surrounding the now sweating Joel increased.
Once done, all of the scars on Joel's body had vanished. In their place were pale marks and patterns in his skin, paler than the normal pink color. He was, however, smooth as the day he was born.
"He'll be freaked when he finds he can move without his skin tightening all the time," Kyle said finally. He removed his hand from Joel's forehead. "However, Guardian or no Guardian, I am leaving no 'marks' on his face. No kid needs that reminder of the tattoo he had!"
"You going to help with his change?" Doc Austin asked.
Kyle shook his head. "Can't help there. We don't know what he's turning into as we cannot read his future, so there's nothing we can do to help turn him back."
"I thought you could read anyones future?" Antonio asked in puzzlement.
"Not his," Levi answered.
Tyler added, "Well, we can see his future... all possible choices and variations and events. It's totally confusing and all in motion and fluid! We can't tell you anything about what will happen. He could die in a second, or he could live to be ten billion years old: we don't know."
"There's a 'Whirlwind of Time' around him, and everything is out of focus." Kyle brushed a few hairs on Joel's now tattoo-free brow, "We can't even see his face in ten seconds time. He'd drive the Yarn Guy nuts!"
"I'll be monitoring him, though," Levi smiled. "If there's a problem, I'll be right back." He paused as he looked at Joel's face. "I like..." he trailed off, then moved in closer to Joel's face and in a near whisper said, "I love you, Uncle Joel." He kissed Joel's cheek, then moved to cuddle into Kyle's side.
"Come on. Things are happening over at CIC..." Tyler started, but Levi interrupted him.
"We can't see Uncle Cory and Uncle Sean until the morning. The Guardian said we have to help, but they need to sort things out themselves, and with Uncle Mikey." Levi's face was deadly serious. "This is one of 'those' things, Poppa. We three have to stay away 'til morning. My bros can help, but we can't."
Kyle shared a look with his husband, then they both nodded. "Come on then, trouble. Let's go make mischief together," Kyle giggled.
"Hey now!" Tyler protested playfully. "You two are the mischief makers. I'm Mommy's 'Good' boy!"
"That's 'cos Grandma's never caught you!" Levi retorted, sticking his tongue out at his Pop.
"And that's how it's staying, Levi!" was Tyler's answer as the three super powered kids vanished.
Doc Austin said quietly, "Sure glad they ain't mine!"
"I can arrange for you to have a Mikyvis too!" Levi giggled as he popped back in, then popped out before Austin could reply.
"Dear Lord," the Doc said piteously as he raised his eyes to the heavens, "I know I'm just a speck of dust in your eyes, but please: No Mikyvis kids!"
"He's giggling, Doc," Mikey laughed. "That might be one prayer that don't get answered the way you want!"
"And on that note, I have two brothers to help. They are about to make a choice, and I want to be there for it! Plus, I want those 'Doctor's Orders' cuddles," Mikey added, then his presence was gone.
<If I might interrupt your prayer time,> Ark broke in, <I have completed the shutdown on the 'chip'. It can be removed at your leisure.>
"He don't look different, though." Antonio looked puzzled.
<No, but the 'chip' is now technically 'off'. Any changes that take place will do so with or without it inside Joel.>
Doc Austin shrugged, and proceeded to remove the small Bio-Chip. It took a minute, then he handed it to Antonio, "Seal that up ready for study later."
He started to close up the incision in Joel's neck. He completed the final sweep with the dermal regenerator, then lifted his hands away.
His gasp of surprise brought his young colleague running back to the Biobed, "What's wrong, Do... oh my!"
Antonio looked at the blood on the Doctor's hands, then looked at Joel's face.
Everyone was quietly sipping hot chocolate in small groups, all chatting about the recent meeting and what had happened with Joel and the others.
Timmy and Ricky, their Eagles on their shoulders, were seated near to Cory and Sean. "What they doin'?" Ricky asked.
"Talkin' in their heads," Timmy answered with a smile.
Cory and Sean had a serious expression on their faces, and were holding hands as they looked into the other's eyes.
Ricky shuffled about to hug himself against Timmy. "Must be something important."
"It is," Timmy giggled, "But William says we'll find out soon 'nough."
"You won't even tell us?!" Ricky pouted at the bird.
William shook his head, then started nibbling at Timmy's ear.
"Kisses are nice, William, but answers are better!" Timmy laughed.
William shook his head again, amusement dancing in his eyes.
Timmy shrugged. "Okay, but if you won't say 'bout my dads, what about Joel? Will he be okay?"
William hung his head for a moment, then a tear splashed from his eye onto Timmy's hand.
Ricky and Timmy both felt their hearts go cold. "No! Please say he'll be okay, William!" Timmy begged, tears in his own eyes.
Another tear, then a nibble to his ear, and finally Timmy understood.
"What?" Ricky asked, knowing his boyfriend had worked something out.
"Joel will need us to heal. Our tears and his own," Timmy replied softly.
"Oh," Ricky hugged Timmy tighter. "Will hugs and cuddles work too?"
Duke nodded, and William clucked a few times. Timmy giggled slightly, then looked towards the door where the puppy, Black Feet, was standing. He called the small creature over, and as soon as Black Feet had jumped onto his lap, Timmy asked him, "Where've you been?"
A few barks and yaps later, and they found out. "Did you enjoy your nap?" Ricky asked.
The pup nodded. Timmy looked closer at him. "You're more than a dog, ain't ya?"
Black Feet nodded, and barked again.
"Cool! Your Daddy was a wolf? Do you know your dad?" Timmy bounced a few times.
Black Feet nodded, and barked once more.
"Silver Wolf. That's a nice name. We'll have to see him when we visit the Rugrats again!" Ricky grinned.
Then they turned back to staring at Cory and Sean, who were now smiling at each other.
"I think they decided something," Ricky said with a giggle.
Timmy joined him, "Yeah. And I think it's good news too! Look, even Unca Mikey's here, and he's smiling!"
"Guys?" Cory called out to the full room. "Sean and I have something to tell you all..."