Sa'ren Part II

Chapter 1

Darkness Rising

Time: 7am EST
Location: Orlando

Joel giggled happily to himself as he made to head back to the Thompson house, his shopping bags held loosely at his side. He turned up the side of the General Store to use the alleyway behind as a shortcut home. As he drew closer to the only car parked there, a noise from inside the gateway of the store's rear courtyard caught his attention. He pushed the gate open enough to see something that made his blood boil. He moved inside the courtyard fast, and went to stop the injustice he could see taking place in front of him....

Time: 5.05am MST (7.05am EST)
Location: Camp Bam Bam

Sammy woke with a start. He was sweating, and his body felt like he had ran a marathon. His mind pounded and throbbed, yet there was... nothing. No reason. No call. No fear. Just uneasiness. Something was wrong, somewhere, somehow. He sat up and rubbed at his eyes.

"You okay?" Vishnu asked softly, so as not to wake their kitten cats that were sleeping with them.

Sammy shrugged, then shook his head. "Don't know. I feel odd," he whispered back. He turned and kissed Vishnu's nose lightly, "You stay with the babies. I'll go walk it off. Must have been a nightmare or something."

Vishnu nodded uncertainly and settled back in the bed. Sammy slipped quietly from his side of the bed and quickly got dressed, before heading out of the room on soft feet.

Outside, the early morning air was still. Fresh. Quiet. Very quiet. The light on the horizon heralded a new day filled with promise and hope. Life was good. Problems were gone.

'Utter bullshit,' Sammy thought as he shook off the thoughts of 'peace' that he knew could not be true. After all the hell of the last few days, never mind the last week, Sammy knew that the world would not be 'peaceful' for quite some time. Many of these kids here at the Camp needed a lot of help.

Something was affecting his mind. Something he could not place.

He headed for the Camp's Command Centre. He hoped Nathan was still in Utah....

Time: 7.06am EST
Location: Orlando, Clan CIC

Spock had Pauly on one knee, and Solkar on the other, and he was being fed by them both. Seth smiled to himself as he rolled up on his new wheelchair and came close to the breakfast table. "I've finally got our system to recognise the new division, Uncle," he said as he scooped a large amount of bacon onto his plate, "the fun part was telling it to not send any messages for the weekend."

"Why was it not accepting the new orders?" Spock asked between mouthfuls of plomek soup that was being messily spooned into his mouth by a giggling blond Vulcan.

Seth shrugged. "I don't know. It listened yesterday, but it went nuts about an hour ago. I don't know why. I literally had to disconnect Des Moines from the system. We'd have to manually call there now if we really wanted to."

Spock nodded, "It is well, then. They need peace over there. How is the rest of the Clan?"

"Great! Funny, but we've had no reports of nightmares and scared kids waking up this morning from Utah. It's as if... everything is... well, great," Seth trailed off, looking suddenly uncertain.

'Cody to CIC,' came a call over Seth's communicator.

"Seth here. What's up, Cody?" Seth answered after tapping the comm.

'I don't know. I have Kano here acting funny. He says something is wrong, but can't say what. Emperor is asleep as well. We can't wake him up.'

"Well, nothing is wrong, Cody. All systems are green right now," Seth answered. He felt puzzled about Emperor, but maybe the baby raccoon was simply tired.

'Just checking. Kids!'

"I hear that," Seth chuckled.

Timmy and Ricky walked in as Seth closed the channel and they were both carrying their guides. William and Duke were fast asleep, and both boy's faces were troubled.

Time: 12.06pm GMT (7.06am EST)
Location: Dragon's Nest, South Wales, UK

"Wake up, you lazy bird!" Ollie giggled as he stroked Iori's feathers.

Iori did not stir.

Antony poked his head around Ollie and Llywelyn's bedroom doorway and asked, "You okay? Your other half has been eating lunch for nearly ten minutes. We all thought you'd died, or something!"

Ollie grinned up at him. "My Iori is being well lazy, Tony. He's dreaming and flapping in his sleep, but I can't wake him. What should I do? Leave him here?"

Antony giggled. "Lazy, huh? Well, he's taking after you... in part. I just hope he's not also a sex crazed horn-dog!"

Ollie picked up his eagle and poked his tongue out at Antony before following him out of his bedroom.

Time: 5.12am MST (7.12am EST)
Location: Utah, Camp Bam Bam

Sammy walked into the Command Centre to find the Chipmunks playing a game of Uno with Daileass and Draco. Feeling somewhat reassured that nothing could be the matter if they were all playing, he went up to join them.

"Morning, Sammy," Simon giggled before calling out, "UNO!"

'I HATE YOU!... well, no - not really; but I felt that was the proper response,' Draco giggled.

Sammy half smiled, "Good morning."

"Why are you up so early? I thought you said you wanted to sleep in?" Theodore asked curiously as they reshuffled the cards on the data padds they were using.

Sammy sat down with them, "I don't know. I don't feel right, like something somewhere is wrong."

"Why?" Alvin asked half heartedly as he focused on his padd. "It's a great day, Sammy!"

"That's what's wrong, guys!" Sammy exclaimed. "We've a whole bunch of hurting kids from all over the States, Canada, the Genesis bases and even South Africa! How could today BE so fucking great when most of them should be feeling like shit and wanting and needing us to HELP them!"

The Chipmunks blinked at him, and Simon's eyes started to become more and more focused on what Sammy was trying to say. "Y...yeah... I... you're right... I think."

"Draco?" Alvin looked up at the digitized Vulcan face on the monitor. "Is there a problem anywhere?"

'No,' Draco answered after a brief pause.

Daileass added, 'All is quiet, Alvin.'

< I have just scanned for all Clan members, Alvin, and everyone is safe. They are either asleep in bed, or eating,>  Ark interjected.

Time: 7.22am EST
Location: The Great Barrier

Sensing that his power had been taken, Vae'Za paused in his struggle for release and stretched out as much of his feelings as he could.

\\Marvel at life, for it is fleeting... you have come against me, Shaper - and so I bring doom upon your world!\\

Another burst of energy burst out as the Fallen God resumed his assault on the Barrier...

... and it went deep into the reaches of Creation - far beyond Alpha Prime - and it interfered with a life that was not, but soon would be, connected with the Clan...

Time: Non-existent
Location: Somewhere Else

The sky flickered oddly as if with lightning, but there was nothing there to cause it. The ground and surrounding land was barren of life. Rocks and pitted stone as far as the eye could see, all surrounded by impassable mountains. Life could not - should not - exist here.

Yet in that wasteland world in a realm of Timelessness, a spark of life appeared through a green sparkle of transporter energy. A small form levered itself up from the floor and turned slowly to examine its new surroundings. It scanned the area, then engaged its automatic distress beacon: searching as far as power would allow for the Others.

Nothing. No response.

Selecting a likely route to find shelter, the small being made its way carefully towards the nearest point of that surrounding mountain range.

If it could cry, it would have.

It was so alone. And it had never been alone in its memory.

For now, the voices were gone, and silence was all that was in its mind.

No thirteen year old should be this alone.

Time: 7.25am EST
Location: Orlando - Gibson's Store

Ralph glanced at the security monitors and flicked between locations. All was quiet in the storeroom, and out in the delivery bay. He then turned and grabbed the file his dad was searching for and went back into the main store to give it to him.

In the storeroom, however, everything wasn't quiet. Six figures were gathered near the back - three were crying and sobbing... two were afraid and remembering pain... one was experiencing absolute agony... three were having fun and the time of their lives... and five were flush with the after-effects of their orgasms.

There was red and green blood everywhere...

Time: 7.35am EST
Location: Dining Room, CIC

Bones, Kirk and Spock were each eating, and also talking with their various children / grandchildren / nephews / adopted 'whatevers'... Bones had never had so much fun before.

"When does your son and daughter-in-law arrive, Doctor?" Spock asked while fighting with Belar for the spoon still held firm in the little Bajoran's mouth.

Bones grinned at the giggling Belar before answering, "Later this afternoon." Dylan stopped any further comments by popping half a pancake into the Starfleet Doctor's flapping mouth.

Kirk had it easiest, for he had a quiet and subdued Timmy cuddled on his lap. William the Eagle was still asleep, but Levi had assured the small boy that his bird was healthy. It still did not make Timmy feel less uneasy, however.

Something was wrong... somewhere.

In CIC, Sarek was talking with Patriarch Misak of Great House R'Kath.

"Sarek, there is nothing further I can do. Siprak has called for a Full Conclave of the High Council, and you must attend. It will be held on Monday."

Sarek repressed a sigh. "I had hoped for longer with my family, but if my presence is needed to bring logic to the illogical, then I shall arrange transport immediately. As for my other query, has..."

Misak held up a hand, "Old friend, I am sorry. I know what it is you wish to ask - and I had hoped that the situation would never come to this - but what you requested cannot happen right now."

Sarek's eyebrow raised quickly. "Who has the authority to stop my request? As Ambassador to Earth and Head of the High Council..."

"That is the problem, Sarek..." Misak almost whispered.

Seth, seated not too far away from Sarek, decided that he wanted to be elsewhere quickly.

Things were about to get ugly.

Time: 5.40am MST (7.40am EST)
Location: Camp Bam Bam

Sammy walked into the canteen and grabbed the first thing that came to hand to eat before walking over to where Vishnu was sitting with Adam, Logan and the others. Sitting down next to them, he said, "I couldn't sleep. I don't know why or how, but something is not right."

Adam reached over and squeezed the boy's shoulder briefly. "I get that sometimes. It was probably a dream, Sammy. Forget about it and eat up. You'll feel better soon."

Sammy was about to reply but the sound of singing coming closer from outside of the canteen door made him stop and listen. Everyone else eating breakfast also paused and strained to hear what was going on outside.

'I am recording this... oh my God! Am I recording this!' Daileass laughed.

It was Amur Khan and Runt - singing...

"Look for the bare necessities! The simple bare necessities..."

"Wait, wait! Shouldn't that be 'Tiger'?!"

"No; 'bare', Puss-puss!"

"I'm not a bear!"

"No, but you are bare - just like me!"

"I'm furred!"

"But still bare!"

"I give up... start again?"

"Yeah, and get it right, Puss-puss!"

The door was nudged open and in they came - Sammy immediately burst out laughing, for the large Tiger-teen came in on all fours, naked, with an equally naked 10 year old looking boy, Runt, riding on his back.

Jory snorted with laughter so hard that the cornflakes he was eating rushed up and out through his nose, causing him to go into a choking fit. He continued to laugh, however, as the two naked lovers started to sing again:

"Look for the bare necessities,
The simple bare necessities:
Forget about your worries and your strife!
I mean the bare necessities,
Old Mother Nature's recipes,

That brings the bare necessities of life!"

Logan howled with laughter, "They got that song so right, it's WRONG!"

Tyr, Thor, Vishnu and Kartik got up and ran over to quickly nuzzle in with their big brother... and with the boy on his back.

Sammy grinned at Adam, "Looks like Runt stole his heart!"

Adam couldn't reply for tears of laughter.

Amur trotted up, still surrounded by his brother cats, and easily stood while pulling his new boyfriend around from his back to his front. He held the small kid in his arms, and mock glared at his brother cats, "Paws off. He's mine!"

Runt just giggled, "We can get dressed now. Remind me never to dare you to do stuff, Puss-puss!"

Amur purred into Runt's neck while muttering, "Don't call me that - and if you want to dress, go back to the cave... I prefer you this way, anyway!"

Sammy took off his light jacket and handed it to Runt, giggling, "But he don't have fur like you! If he don't wear nothing, he'll be a fourteen year old frozen boyfriend!"

Time: 7.50am
Location: Orlando - Gibson's Store

"Ralph? Can you tell Jerry to take over for you? I need you to get something from the stockroom," Mr Gibson called from the till where he was serving a customer.

Ralph looked over and nodded before running to the back office and relaying the message to the only other member of staff in that morning. He then ran up to his dad. "What ya need?"

Mr Gibson passed his son a list he had briefly put together and smiled as his son nodded his head and walked off, reading the note.

Opening the door to the stockroom, was like walking from a normal day into a nightmare. A dark feeling of helplessness slammed into Ralph, causing him to pitch to his face, full out on the ground. The door to the sales area closed behind him, leaving him spread eagle on the floor. He lifted his head, which felt like a leaded weight, and glanced down the way towards the back of the stores... from where soft, weakening sobs could be heard.

What was that stuff seeping across the floor?

Who was that near naked boy covered in green paint, and why was he huddled near to the fire escape?

Those large, adult shaped shadows - to whom did they belong?

Ralph was deeply afraid, and scrambled to his feet.

He was about to turn and run for his dad when he felt - he was so sure that he felt - a scarred hand touch his shoulder. He felt his heart respond to an unspoken command.

He reached and snagged a fire-axe from the wall... then, screaming like a Viking, he charged down towards those moving shadows.

He did not know it, but his actions were suddenly mirroring those of Saint Mikey.

He also did not know it, but his eyes...

... they were aflame...

Time: 7.51am EST

Corey's hips bucked against Joel, and he felt his orgasm building yet again. The fourteen year old raised the knife in his hand and, just as his pleasure took over, started to bring it down.

"No," was all the small Vulcan he was violating managed to say before the knife plunged into his chest.

Feeling a thrill run up his spine, Corey pulled out of Joel's violated anus. He wiped himself with the tee-shirt that they had torn from the frail boy's body less than an hour before. He grinned at the 11 year old quietly sobbing by the fire door. He glanced with a pleased grin at a seventeen year old lad who was slowly jacking off over the small boy. He then laughed, for an eighteen year old young man was just finishing making another boy, a twelve year old, blow him. Corey chuckled, "Throw him with his shit-head brother, and..."

Screams started, startling Corey and the two older lads. Corey spun around, while zipping up his fly in one motion. His eyes popped open in stark terror upon seeing a boy with flames leaping from his eyes, wielding an axe that seemed made of fire, and bearing two burning red wings come charging at him.

"Leave them!" Corey shouted quickly. "Dillon! Levi! Get to the van! NOW!"

All three bolted, but not before Corey ruthlessly shoved Joel off of the stack of boxes that the others had used to rape him on and onto the floor. The small boy landed with a sickening crack coming from his head, which was the first to connect to the ground.

So too did the two smaller figures, for Ralph's current appearance had so scared them that they both lost control of their bodily functions as well. Almost naked, both the beaten and bleeding boys ran out after the other three, but took a different direction to flee in.

The rage inside Ralph, a rage not his own, seemed to lift as he skidding to a halt by the sprawled and weakly breathing Vulcan child. Getting a look at the boy's face, Ralph instantly recognised him from earlier that morning. "Oh, Joel..." he cried. Then, turning his head towards the door to the main store, he screamed, "DAAAAD!!! DAAAD!!"

Mikey sheathed his sword as the darkness of the Fallen dissipated. All around, the light of Heaven's Host seemed to bleed out the shadows and gloom that had been pressing against the world. Mikey was just about to make himself visible to help Joel when Prince Gabriel stopped him.

"You are needed in Des Moines," the Archangel said seriously.

"But Joel..."

"Mikey. If you do not go now, all that is shall be no more. When this started, your brother Cory became empowered. Creation lies in the balance, and only Cory keeping his temper will allow us time to fix this."

Mikey's eyes widened in horror as he processed that information as well as take in all of Joel's injuries. He turned his burning, flame filled gaze back to Gabriel. "What of these?" he asked, flapping his blood red wings. "I can't go to them looking like this? What isthis?!"

"You are the first Avenging Angel," Michael said seriously as Kuan Ti and the rest of the Martyrs joined them. "Your task is now to avenge, not save."

Mikey's face grew pale. "But... my family! My Sainthood! No! I can't do that, Michael! I WON'T!"

Michael smiled, then glanced at a suddenly eager looking Tiger. "I think we know of one who would relish it... what do you say, Kuan Ti?"

The tiger teen nodded his head so fast that it nearly came off.

Once he had stopped, he said, "Oh, yes please!"

"You already are," Gabriel smiled, patting the now Re-Gold-Winged Mikey on the shoulder.

Kuan looked to his side and saw his own wings had changed to deep, blood red. He glanced back with his now flamelike eyes at Saint Mikey, "What next, boss?"

"I have my orders. You... you get your brothers ready... blood calls out for blood, and you know what your brothers are like," Mikey replied seriously before shimmering out to go to his own immediate family.

Kuan Ti looked at the other Martyrs, nodded at the Archangel, then took off, heading for Utah.

The Powers of the Air - the Fallen not destroyed in the battle - took note of the fury that suddenly burst in a streak of power from Orlando. And it soon became known in the Fallen's ranks to beware the flaming eyes of the Tiger....

Kuan Ti, The Avenging Angel!

Time: 7.51am EST
Location: The Thompson Residence

Allen stretched and yawned. Glancing at his bedside alarm clock, he realised that he'd slept nearly an hour more than he had intended to. He started up from the bed, waking Billy up in the same motion, and slipped a bathrobe on before heading towards the en-suite. He never made it, for the screams coming suddenly from Kevin and Kenny's bedroom almost stopped his heart.

He and Billy sprinted from the room and out onto the landing, where the sounds of screaming were joined by roars and snarls from Blackie, I-Cheya and the two she-cats. Billy quickly stopped to check on the two girls, who were both as confused as he and Allen were, while Allen ran for the twins' bedroom. Just as he reached the door, Xain and Jake's door burst open, and a distraught Kenny came running out and into his side. The boy was followed by a startled looking Jake and Xain.

Allen, one arm holding Kenny close, quickly thrust open the door to the trembling boy's room and found his smallest looking son thrashing about in his bed, screaming and crying.

Time: 7.51am EST
Location: Rec Room, CIC

Kirk was now seated in the Rec Room with Timmy and Ricky on his lap. The two boys' eagles were still asleep next to them on the sofa. "I don' know what's wrong with them," Timmy whispered, gently prodding his eagle friend as if trying to wake him up.

"He'll be fine," Kirk whispered back, squeezing both boys close for a moment.

How wrong could one Captain be.

All fucking hell broke loose as Timmy and Ricky flashed into war-paint a split second later and started to scream in agony. Their eagles woke up screeching before going into a fit themselves.

Austin, coming in from Main CIC with Jason Evans, pitched forwards to land on his face, screaming and kicking. His skin was now in the same mode as Timmy and Ricky's.

Time: 12.51pm GMT (7.51am EST)
Location: Dragon's Nest, South Wales, UK

Antony was still scanning Iori the Eagle, with Ollie hopping from foot to foot at his side, when Ollie suddenly burst out in war-paint. The eight year old clutched the sides of his head, and started yowling as if in agony before collapsing to the ground.

Iori started fitting, causing Antony to back away. Those claws were sharp.

"Draco! Set VSO Condition Red! Something is wrong!" the young Founder shouted as images started to rush through his mind.

Time: 5.51am MST (7.51am EST)
Location: Camp Bam Bam

Sammy was still trying to eat and not giggle at the blushing Amur Khan and Runt - currently being teased rotten by Nathan Evans - when suddenly he clapped his hand over his left eye. Agony seemed to flood out and pierce his very brain, and his chest became almost too tight to breathe. All his ribs felt out of place, and his butt felt like a train had fucked itself up him. Even his balls ached, as if he'd been kicked repeatedly between the legs.

He fell off his chair screaming and thrashing about.

Janet got up and came over to him, pulling a tricorder out in one fluid motion. After passing it over the thrashing boy's body briefly, her forehead creased, "There's nothing wrong with him. Nothing."

Adam and Chang both rushed to her side. Chang touched Sammy's forehead briefly and jerked his hand away as if burned. "Pain," he whispered. "So much pain."

Sammy, somehow, managed to force out one word through his screams, "Attacked..."

Adam also touched his forehead, and tried to use what Jason had taught him to pull out some of the convulsing boy's pain - but nothing seemed to work.

He too felt like his hand was being burnt, but he did pick up a sense that this was coming from 'elsewhere'.

And that one word - 'attacked' - well, that could only mean one thing:

"Daileass, Battle Stations. Everyone is to report to their duties and to full battle readiness NOW!" Adam yelled into the air. "Someone find out what the FUCK is going on. NOW!"

Time: 7.52am EST
Location: Thompson Residence

Kevin was still screaming and crying, and Allen could not find any way to get through to him. The two cheetahs outside with the youngest of Joel and Kevin's kids came running inside with them fast.

"It's Kev. He's hurting, and we don't know why!" Aphrodite shouted downstairs to them in response to their cries as to what was going on. "Joel's missing! He's not up here, brothers! He's not ANYWHERE!"

I-Cheya was in a blind rage, and so was Blackie; and as soon as the two cheetahs made it up the stairs with the little ones, I-Cheya caught them with his gaze.

Save Boy! Save Boy NOW! Come!

Mercury nodded, smelling the large Sehlat's fear.

Both he and his brother ran ahead of the two pissed off Spirit Guardians and opened the door, then - at I-Cheya's insistence - they climbed on his back.

Hold tight... and Cover Ears...

They did, and then they found out why - I-Cheya roared... the cry of an enraged Sehlat. Not a call to a hunt... but to a slaughter.

Then, with Blackie in the lead finding the scent path, the two creatures started to run faster than the cheetahs could have.

It took three minutes to reach Gibson's Store... and find the horror that awaited them...

Time: 7.52am EST
Location: Gibson's Store

"Quick, Dad! You got your phone? He's DYING! There's blood everywhere!" Ralph screamed as he heard his father approaching. His hands were slick with Joel's blood as he tried to stem the flow from multiple wounds.

The Vulcan had at least two ribs that were punctured through his chest, and the knife that seemed to Ralph to be piercing his new little friend's heart was bouncing with Joel's laboured breaths.

Mr Gibson's gasp of shock was soon followed by the tone of a speed dial. "Hello? Yes! We have an emergency - a Vulcan child has been badly messed up. He's been stabbed and his eye... oh GOD! One of his eyes has been.... What? Yes, the address is..."

Ralph tuned out the rest. He just had to. Joel needed him. But, after a moment or so of silence, a startled oath from his dad made him look back up.

"Are you sure you can't...? Oh! Quick! Please, he doesn't have long left!" Mr Gibson cried out, his face a mask of pity and sorrow for the sight before him.

Ralph asked through his own panicked sobs, "What are they doing?"

Mr Gibson covered the mouthpiece, "They're putting me through to Clan Short..."

Time: 7.54am EST
Location: CIC, Clan Short

Tommy and Seth both made it to the communications consoles at the same time. Seth was preparing a General Clan alert, while Tommy was rushing to answer an emergency call that was being transferred from the Local Authority's 911 line. Tommy was no dummy. His relaxed accent belied an amazingly fast brain that his brothers knew he possessed, but strangers would usually think him backwards.

He had pieced together the meaning of that incoming call before he answered it, and fear clawed at him: one, someone linked to those with mystical war-paint was hurting. Two, the 911 line in their area was only forwarded to them if an alien child was in need of emergency treatment. Both together could only mean one thing - Joel was hurt.

"This is Clan Short of Vulcan, Tommy Short speaking. What is the emergency?" he asked, dread well hidden from his voice.

"Oh, please! We have a Vulcan child here, one of your guys - Sa'ren Short? He's been badly hurt... he's dying! I think he's been raped... Please get..."

Two things happened at once:

One - Spock was already in the doorway listening, and his mind was faster than Tommy's could ever be. He went into a blind, unthinking rage.

Two - behind the emergency caller's voice, a massive roar, howl and crash resounded. I-Cheya and Blackie had just found 'their Boy'...

... and Hell was about to pay the piper...

Time: 5.55am MST (7.54am EST)
Location: Camp Bam Bam

The canteen had emptied fast. Janet and Chang had carried Sammy out and to the med bay, while Adam, Logan and the rest of the command level members of his family moved with haste to the Command Centre. As they approached the doors, however, Nathan pitched over and started to retch loudly.

"Fuck, not him too?!" Amur Khan spat as he and Runt went to the blond boy's side and tried to help him.

Nathan wiped his mouth roughly, "No, not like them... oh, GOD, Adam... it's..."

He never got to explain, for over their communicators, Seth's voice came...

Med Bay:

Sammy was quickly put under sedation, but even in this state, he was thrashing about slightly.

"This is not normal, Mom," Chang whispered as he scanned and rescanned the boy on the bio-bed.

Before Janet could answer, Daileass shouted at them, 'You're needed in the Emergency Room - Right NOW!'

Time: 7.55am EST
Location: Clan CIC

"This is a critical message to all Clan Short Divisions. I repeat, this is a critical message to all Clan Short Divisions. We have an unknown situation involving Joel Short in Orlando and request that everyone be at station and ready to assist at a moment's notice. Please respond immediately," Seth said, while the sound of screaming could still be heard coming through the doors leading from the Rec Room.

"Oceanic Division also reports an unknown development: may be linked," came the frightened voice of Skylan Thomas. "Kano and Damon are screaming the place down, and Emperor is so worked up he is biting anyone getting near him. What's going on?"

"Received and stand by, Sky. We'll tell you once we have full info! All I can say for sure is, Joel has been hurt," Seth sent back quickly as the console beeped at him.

It was Jonas McConnaghay from North East Division, "North-east is on Standby, Seth." Jonas went on, "What's up? Everything is calm here. We have a new member to report, when you're ready."

"Please stand by. We'll explain fully when we can, but please pray - Joel's hurt. Keep yourself ready," Seth sent back as his console beeped yet again. He clicked off the call with N.E.D. then hoped Jonas would understand why he'd not even confirmed anything regarding the new member. He pressed the button to receive the next call.

"Special Forces reporting," Adam Casey said to open. In the background, a siren was blaring. "We also have an issue. Sammy. He's screaming, too... is that what I can hear your side? And what was that about Joel?"

"Yes, we have kids screaming, Adam. As for Joel..." Before Seth could say anything further, Draco's voice came over the entire Clan Communications Grid, cutting him off:

'Dragon Division to Alert Status. This is not a Drill. Repeat, this is not a Drill. We have a Code 975-Charlie - Sa'ren Short's life is in danger. I repeat, Code 975-Charlie. Sa'ren Short's life is in danger... Daileass is activating emergency teleport. All VSO operatives - Blue and Black - are to report to Arming Stations. Absolute Sanctions are authorised. Anyone preventing the gathering of information or preventing the cause of justice is to be eliminated. I repeat...'

Since Seth had recently learned what the VSO codes meant, upon hearing this he broke down in tears...

Time: 5.55am MST (7.55am EST)
Location: Camp Bam Bam

"What the fuck code is that?" Adam asked Nathan as he and the others did an about turn and started racing for the med-bay.

Nathan, his eyes now almost aflame with rage and grief, answered in a hollow voice, "975-Charlie. Charlie is the code for 'Joel, heir of Spock'. 9 is the code for 'Likely In Mortal Danger'. 7 is the code for 'Torture/Attempted Murder/Severe Trauma'... and 5... 5 is the code for..."

"For what?" Jory asked as he ran next to Tristan and Donna. Koth, running the other direction, passed them muttering sulphurous oaths in Klingon and continued on towards the Command Centre.

Nathan couldn't answer, but Donna did. She knew that code well. So did Tristan. "It's the code for 'Raped', love. Joel's been raped..." she said, tears rolling down her face.

"DAILEASS! Are the Strike Teams ready?" Adam screamed into the air as impotent fury flooded through him.

'Yes... well, they WERE, but that insane wolverine fucker, Logan the Cat Fighting Headcase, heard my positronic boyfriend's announcement and has just torn five M-16's and four M-60's into tiny pieces with his bare claws and is looking like he's ready to fuck over everyone: including God! Just give us a few minutes, here!'

Adam shouted back as he closed on the doors to the med bay, "TELL HIM TO SAVE IT FOR THE ASSHOLE WHO DID THIS..." Then he muttered under his breathe as he burst into the med-bay reception area, "Fucking wolverines! God damnit..."

Time: 7.55am EST
Location: Gibson's Store

Hermes had one paw on Joel's neck, looking for a pulse, and the other was tapping his communicator.

"Daileass! Wake the FUCK up and transport EVERYONE in this area to Med Bay - RIGHT FUCKING NOW!"

The whine and hum of a transporter started, but stopped an instant later. 'Not advisable. Joel cannot take a transporter. Teleporting now!'

Joel, the cheetahs, the two spirit guardians, Ralph and Mr Gibson vanished in the blink of an eye...

Eternal Realm:

Clan Short needs a Guardian Protector. Who among you is willing to go?

'I am the Ancient, Guardian of Earth. I stand willing,' the massive Silvery Wolf-Spirit Cynoeswr answered as he appeared at the Gates of the Realm.

Next to him, the even larger White Sehlat T'Kahr appeared, 'I am the Ancient, Guardian of Vulcan. I stand willing.'

Ancient of Earth: The Task is yours. Ancient of Vulcan: stand ready. Now is the hour not Seen but Known. Now is the Test. Friendships shall be tested. Bonds shall be strained. War comes, and the Blind shall lead

Cynoeswr howled and vanished.

T'Kahr roared and vanished.

The Host of Heaven drew their swords... and waited.

Time: 5.55am MST (7.55am EST)
Location: Camp Bam Bam - Med Bay

Juan had been up all night with Koth, and both were taking it in turns to read to their son, Tumelo. The little boy was still jumpy and fearful, and alternated from listening calmly to the story and sobbing about his dead family. Anyone new entering the room would then cause him to shuffle closer to either his poppa Koth or daddy Juan.

However, when he was able to listen to the story, he really got into it. And Juan found his son an engaging listener to "The Hobbit".

All the fuss and chaos now taking place outside of the Med Bay and throughout the Clan went by unknown to both Juan and Koth, for the Med Bay was completely cut off from standard communications and alarm systems - for the sake of those meant to be recuperating.

"Read it 'gain, pwease," Tumelo asked, for Juan had just finished the scene where Smaug the Dragon had been talking to Bilbo Baggins the Hobbit.

Juan giggled, then put on a deep, growly voice and said, "'Revenge? Revenge? The King under the Mountain is dead! Girion, Lord of Dale, is dead; and where are their son's sons that dare approach me?...'"

He did not get much further, for even though the Med Bay was not on the same communications links as the rest of the base, Koth's personal communicator was on the VSO link. Draco's urgent voice came over suddenly, cutting Juan off from further talk:

'Dragon Division to Alert Status. This is not a Drill. Repeat, this is not a Drill. We have a Code 975-Charlie - Sa'ren Short's life is in danger. I repeat, Code 975-Charlie. Sa'ren Short's life is in danger... Daileass is activating emergency teleport. All VSO operatives - Blue and Black - are to report to Arming Stations. Absolute Sanctions are authorised. Anyone preventing the gathering of information or perverting the cause of justice is to be eliminated. I repeat...'

Koth dived off the bed one way, and Juan off the other. Both said together "Stay there, Tumelo - we'll be back soon!" as they raced out of the door.

Juan, however, skidded to a halt when something impacted his senses.

Joel's pain. Joel's fear... and Joel's approaching death.

Koth was already racing out of the door towards the Command Centre, but Juan turned and ran towards the emergency room. As he grew closer, the blackness of death seemed to get heavier and heavier.

Bursting through the door, he found Chang and his mom, Janet, picking up a small, thin body and placing it on the nearest Emergency Bio-Bed unit - and the body was covered in green blood. He ran faster and skidded to a halt right next to the unit, his heart almost stopping at the sight before him.

"Juan - please step back and let us work," Chang said calmly without looking at his little brother. He needed to focus, and the sight of a sibling in pain wouldn't help right now. Chang then tapped his own communicator, "Chang to Doctor McCoy. We need you in Camp Bam Bam immediately. We are losing Joel."

Juan never heard him. He was already walking back the way he had come. His eyes were shinning blue-yellow, and his very posture was as if carved from ice.

Rage. Blood-lust. VENGEANCE...

"'...I kill where I wish, and none dare resist. I laid low the warriors of old, and their like are not in the world today. No, thief in the shadows. I am indestructible...'" Juan recited as he walked down the hallway.

From the entrance, he saw Adam and Logan and the others racing towards him and the room he'd just come from, but he passed them without a word.

As he threw open the door leading outside, he turned and stared back towards where his 'little' big brother was dying.

"'... my breath... is DEATH!'"

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes:

Oh my! I'm not certain; of course I will have to check carefully to confirm this, but I honestly believe this could be considered a CLIFFHANGER!

No further comments can be made at this time, as I can't see the screen to see what I have written.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher