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The night had been peaceful and quiet for the occupants of the house, the day before having been emotionally and physically draining. Kane had once again slept in a bed other than his own, this time, though; he was snuggled up to Jason, a peaceful smile on his angel face. Suddenly, he was awoken by a strange tickling sensation in the back of his head, and he was suddenly filled with a feeling of excitement. He just put it down to the fact it was his birthday today.
This thought had Kane even more excited, and he immediately began trying to wake Jason up, to no avail. He was leaning over, shaking Jason to wake the sleeping boy, when suddenly; a loud boom that rattled the windows was heard. Jason jerked and sat upright, causing Kane to topple off the bed and on to the floor below with a boyish, "Ooof!"
Jason heard this and leaned over the edge of the bed to see Kane smiling up at him. "Sorry 'bout that, buddy. You okay?" he asked the now giggling boy on the floor.
"Yup. I wasn' hurt or nufin'. I was just saprised is all. What was that big noise?"
"I don't know, but let's go find out." Jason replied. The two boys quickly pulled on a shirt and a pair of boxers each, before opening the bedroom door and making their way downstairs, to find Sky and Cody staring out of the large sliding glass door of the kitchen towards the end of the backyard. Both boys were dressed in only their underwear and their hair was mussed up, painting a pretty clear picture of what the two boys had been up to before the interruption. Jason had to fight to stifle the giggles he had.
"What's goin' on, Sky?" Kane asked.
"No idea, lil' buddy, but I think we're about to find out." He pointed to the rear of the shuttle, where a doorway was opening. Cody opened the sliding door and led the group out towards the shuttle, only to find another shuttle approaching the house. The boys watched in awe as the shuttle slowly came to a full stop ten metres away from the first shuttle.
Their attention was quickly pulled back to the first shuttle, where the main hatch was now fully opened and there was a group of boys, who looked to be from five to sixteen years, emptying out onto the lawn. Sky approached the group slowly.
"Are you guys lost or somethin'? Did you need help?" He asked.
A boy about Sky's age approached the boys and extended his hand towards Sky. "Naw, we're fine. My name's Cory and we're here for a special occasion." the boy said, seeing Kane standing with Sky and, realising quickly that he was the birthday boy, avoiding the 'p' word.
"YOU'RE Clan Short? You're kidding!" Cody exclaimed.
"No. I'm Patriarch Short, and this is my life-partner, Sean. The rest of this group are our brothers." Cory said as he gestured to the group behind him.
"Wow. I was expecting a bunch of adults. I'm Skylan, or Sky as my family calls me; this is my boyfriend Cody, our friend Jason and our brother Kane."
"Ah. You'd be the one I'm here to help. Having some experience with memory loss, I can tell you that you'll get them back most often at the most inopportune times." Cory said with a sad smile.
Sky looked shocked. "I didn't know anything about this. All I knew was that Clan Short had some doctor that was coming down to help me sort some stuff out."
"Well, I know for a fact that Dr. Richardson will be able to help you. He was my shrink during my memory loss." Cory said.
"Cool." Just then, the hatch of the second shuttle opened, and a few more boys, followed by a few adults exited the shuttle. A Starfleet Security officer approached Cory and saluted the teen.
"Patriarch Short. We have been to the Compound and collected the remaining Clan members. Also, Ensigns Richardson and Michaels have completed their preliminary sweep of the environment and report that everything is in order."
"Thank you, Lieutenant Barnes. Please tell the Ensigns that they are now on detached duty until such time as our purpose here has been fulfilled." Cory then turned to a woman standing next to Lt. Barnes. "Mom, this is Sky, Cody, Jason and Kane."
The woman smiled to the boys. "Hello, boys. I'm Teri, Cory, Sean, and a number of others' mom." She said to Sky and his group. "Are your mom or dad home?"
"Umm... I'm not sure." Sky said. At that moment, Linda and Harry walked up to the group.
"Teri, so glad to finally meet you. This is my husband, Harry, and I'm guessing you've met the boys already." Linda chuckled.
"Yes, we have. And I can see you've seen the full extent of our 'little family'." Teri laughed. "Well I don't know about the boys, but I could really do with a quick power nap. Would you have any room to spare by any chance, Linda?"
"I don't know. Our guest room is currently occupied by Jason..."
"That's okay, Mrs. T. I'll just go grab some clean clothes and make the bed for... what was your last name, sorry ma'am?" Jason finished in a sheepish tone.
"Teri's fine, Jason. No need for formalities with me unless it's business." Teri smiled at Jason.
"Okay, Teri. I'll quickly do what I need to then you can take a quick nap." Jason said.
"Thank you, Jason. While you do that, I think it would be best that we return to the house, so the other boys can get dressed and the others can take a shower if they need to." With that, the entire group returned to the house, where Jason ran upstairs to prepare the guest room, and the rest of the group went to the living room, where the adults sat on the lounges as the boys all plopped down on the floor, except the young boys, who all ran around chasing what appeared to be a raccoon.
"Boys, if you'd like a shower, feel free to use the one just down the hall in the main bathroom. It has two showers that can operate at the same time, and don't worry too much about hot water. We have a large water tank per shower in the house." Linda said.
"Thank you, Linda. TIMMY! RICKY! C'mon you two, time for a shower. You've been in salt water all day." Cory said.
"Otay, Daddy. Can Kane and Harley come wiv us?" a boy of about 6, with flame-red hair, replied.
"If it's okay with their parents, then yes they can." Cory chuckled.
"Auntie Linda! Unca Adam! Can they?"
Linda was shocked at the title given to her by the fireball. "Of course. Are you Timmy or Ricky, though?"
"I's Timmy. This is my boyfriend Ricky." Timmy said with a huge grin.
Linda quickly recovered from the second shock. "Well can I have a couple of hugs, since you consider me your aunt?" Instantly, Linda had four small bodies running at her, Harley joining in, and Kane not wanting to miss an opportunity for a hug. After the brief hug, the four boys trotted off towards the bathroom, Kane showing them the way, and a pair of boys about 9 trailing behind them.
The room filled with giggles at the young boys' antics. After it had died down, Jason walked back into the room, fully dressed and looking sharp, if the wolf-whistles and cat calls from the other boys were any to go by. Jason was blushing as he addressed Teri.
"The guest room is ready for you now, Teri."
"Thank you, Jason, but before I go for a rest, I think it'd be best to introduce everyone to the Clan, since we all already know your side of the group." Teri said with a chuckle.
"Here we go." Dan mumbled under his breath, earning him a elbow in his side and a round of giggles from all the boys in the room.
"Let's start with the usual two. You've already met my son Cory, next to him is his life partner, and my other son, Sean. The redhead that just went for a shower is their youngest, Timmy. In Cory's lap is their second, CD, and in Sean's is their eldest son, Calen."
"Wow. You two certainly have taken on a lot of responsibility there." Harry said in shock.
"It's nothing, sir. If we can't cope with something, we have Mom or Dan to go to for help. So far, the only major problem we've had was a slight 'bedding issue' we had with Timmy." Cory finished with a blush, evoking giggles from those in the group who knew this.
"Next we have another of my sons, Adam. Next to him is his life partner, JJ. Their youngest, Harley, just went with Timmy and their group to the shower. In JJ's lap is one of their newest sons, Joey, or 'Roo to us and in Adam's lap is Brad. He's a local boy."
"I remember you, Brad. I used to baby-sit
for your parents before you moved to
"JASON? I thought it was you! How you doin', mate?" Brad said as he jumped out of Adam's lap and ran up to Jason and gave him a hug.
"I'm fine, Macka. I'm living with Sky and his family now, because my parents couldn't accept me for who I am."
"Macka?" JJ asked.
"Yeah. I gave him that nickname when we went fishing a few years ago and he managed to land the biggest mackerel I've ever seen." Jason said with a smile at Brad.
"Wow. We'll let you keep that nickname for yourself Jason." JJ said.
"Okay. What've you been up to, Macka?"
"Well, Mum got heaps sick not long after we got to Amer'ca, and then when Dad found out I like blokes, he beat me up and sent me to Roo's house. His dad had just beaten him up, though, so now we both live with JJ and Adam as our Dad and Pop."
Jason tightened the hug. "Well, I'm glad to see you're happy now."
"Yup. And I'm glad to see that you're well. I missed you when we moved." Brad said, a tear running down his cheek.
"Shh... It's okay now. You never know, we may be seeing a lot more of each other now." Jason said as he wiped away the tear.
"More than you know." Cory said in a cryptic tone and with a smile.
"Next we have Tyler, my youngest son, and his boyfriend, Kyle. I must warn you now, Tyler is an Empath and Kyle is a Telepath, so it will be hard to keep anything hidden from these two." Teri finished with a chuckle.
"An Empath AND a Telepath?" Linda said in a shocked voice.
"Yes, but there's more to come." Teri said. "Next we have yet another son of mine, Thomas, or Tommy, and his boyfriend, Kelly."
"Nice to meet ya ma'am." Tommy said in his thick Southern accent.
"Likewise." Linda replied.
"The next of my boys is Aaron. You may recognise him." Teri smiled when Aaron came out from his hiding position and into full view of Linda's boys.
Five gasps could be heard as Linda, Harry and their boys realised who Aaron was. Sky was the first to regain his voice.
"Aaron Carter is your SON?!" He asked.
"Unofficially. When I first visited Mom and my brothers, I was still angry and upset after what happened when I came out to my birth Mom. Now, I have a Mom who loves me, a whole load of brothers, and David loves me more than ever, and the feeling's mutual." Aaron finished with a kiss on the cheek for David, who had stood up and wrapped his arms around him.
"Nice to see you are happy, Aaron." Linda said with a smile.
"More than I've ever been before. Things are still only getting better for me."
"Finally, we have my newest son, Gavin. He's from Rigel VII and was rescued by the Clan."
"Nice to meet you, Gavin. How are you liking Earth so far?" Harry asked.
"It's a lot different to my old home. I used to have to work for my uncle's hotel for very little money, and here, I've been allowed to play and have fun. My favourite Earth game so far has been the game called soccer." Gavin shyly replied.
"Cool! I love soccer." Both Sky and Cody exclaimed, earning giggles from the other boys and chuckles from the adults.
The rest of the boys were introduced by their own parents, and 10 minutes later, the whole group was finally introduced. At that time, Kane and the rest of the youngest boys returned to the living room and ran up to their parents and hugged them.
"Did you clean yourself properly, buddy?" Harry asked Kane.
"Yup. Kyle and Ty said we had to be cleaned up good today, but I don't know why." Kane said.
"You'll see why soon enough."
Cory then stood up and began his announcement. "Now that we're all h..."
"Aren't you forgetting the most important person, little brother?" A disembodied voice interrupted.
"Wait your turn Ghost Boy!" Cory giggled. "I only introduce people who can be SEEN!" Cory turned his attention back to the stunned faces watching him. "As I was saying, now that we're all here, I have a few things to say. First, Sky, can you please join me here?"
Sky stood and walked up to Cory, only to have Cory wrap his arms around him.
"When we first heard about you and your brothers, I had the Clan Intelligence Division do a history check on you." He continued quickly when he felt the other boy stiffen. "It's nothing bad; I think it's great actually. What the guys found was that you are related to me directly. In fact, we're cousins. It seems that your parents moved here to Australia after a falling out with my parents over another family member who was gay. Unfortunately, your parents couldn't accept the person in question, and so they moved over here when the rest of the family disowned them after a particularly bad reaction to your uncle's new boyfriend. My Mom was your Mom's sister, and after your mom married your dad, she changed and was no longer the same person."
"It's true, Skylan. We were all once good friends, but when your dad came along, it all changed. She became more reclusive and there were many times when she'd come out with us and she'd be covered in bruises." Teri interjected with tears in her eyes.
"So, you're my cousin?" When Cory nodded, Sky looked to Teri, "So that makes you my Aunt?"
"Not by blood. I adopted Cory when your Aunt Cheri passed away. One of the things we always talked about was the hope that we would one day meet you. When we heard you were born, your parents denied us contact, thinking we would corrupt you. You are still more than welcome to call me Aunt Teri, or just Teri, if you like."
"Okay, Aunt Teri." Sky said with a smile.
"Next is the main reason we are here. We caught wind that it was a special little boy's 6th birthday today, and decided to drop and to personally deliver our well wishes and gifts. Kane, can you come up here please?" Cory announced.
Kane made his way slowly up to Cory, a huge smile on his face from what he'd heard.
"Kane, from myself and the rest of the Clan, I wish you a happy 6th birthday. I think Timmy has a present for you." Cory said with a grand smile.
Timmy stood and walked up to the small group, an eagle on his shoulder and a ball of fur in his arms. "I found this when we was at Danny's house and William told me that it was his time to find his Spirit Helper."
"Danny? William? Spirit Helper? What's he talkin' 'bout, dude?" Sky asked, thoroughly confused.
"Oh man! Guys, did anyone happen to wake Danny up when we got here? He told me he was gonna take a break to integrate Clan files on the way here." Cory said in a rush.
"I'm on it, Cor." Tyler said as he ran back towards the door to the backyard.
"Sorry 'bout that, dude. We kinda left someone on the shuttle it seems. Let me explain the whole Spirit Helper thing. See the eagles on Timmy and Ricky's shoulders?" At Sky's nod, Cory continued. "A couple weeks ago, I signed a treaty with the chief of the Indian tribe in Orlando caretaking at Camp Little Eagle, the Clan's establishment for helping abandoned and abused boys. During the ceremony afterwards, the Chief called upon the Great Spirit, or Our Father, to provide spirits to help protect the land the camp is on. These spirits came in the form of eagles and chose Timmy and Ricky as their helpers. The boys can talk to the eagles and other things. The eagle on Timmy's shoulder is William, and the one on Ricky's is Duke."
"Wow. That's so cool!" Kane exclaimed. "Wait... Timmy said that the furry thing is lookin' for his Helper thingie. Is that me?"
"Uh huh. William says that you just have to pull his special tooth from the backa his mouth to be able to understand him. He says that only his Helper can pull the tooth, but his sure it's you." Timmy said excitedly.
"I don't know. I don't think I like the idea of him sticking his hand inside the mouth of a wild animal." Linda said apprehensively.
"It's all fine, Linda." Mikey spoke up as he made himself visible. "Our Father would never let his children be harmed from these sorts of special occurences. William is absolutely correct in his deduction that Kane is this raccoon's Spirit Helper. I promise you, Linda, that Our Father would never allow any harm to come to any of his Children, and I have it on good authority that Kane is one of His special Children."
"I apologise, Saint Mikey. I guess my protective instincts came into play. I don't want to see my children hurt in any way. "Linda said.
"Perfectly understandable, Linda. It's easy to see how a Saint appearing in a living room telling a child to stick his hand into a seemingly wild creature's mouth is a little disconcerting." Mikey said with a chuckle.
Everyone watched as Timmy handed the raccoon to Kane and as Kane reached his hand towards the creature's mouth, it opened wide. Kane slowly reached towards the back of its mouth, before pulling his hand out, a sharp tooth held between his fingers.
"Wow." Was all that Kane could say. Mikey walked up to him, a gold chain that appeared to glow held in his hand.
"Young Kane. On this day, you have been granted the honour of being named this raccoon's Spirit Helper. So long as you wear this chain with the tooth attached to it, you will be able to communicate with your Spirit, and thus be able to communicate with Timmy and Ricky, no matter how far away you are from them. And this chain is charmed so it is unbreakable, and should it be lost, it will return to you when you wish for it." He said in a soft tone as he looped the tooth onto the chain, before placing the chain around Kane's neck and clasping it at the back.
"Cool. Thanks, Saint Mikey. Emperor says thank you, too." Kane said in awe.
"Emperor?" Sky asked.
"That's the r'coon's name. He told me." Kane said as though it was supposed to be obvious.
"Well, now that that's been taken care of, we brought you another present, this time from the whole Clan." Cory said after Kane's lingering excitement began to dwindle. "Your mom told us that you like electronics, so we brought an extra special present for you that no other little boy has ever received." He grabbed a medium-sized box from the coffee table next to him. It was brightly wrapped and had a card on it saying 'Happy Birthday, Kane. From Clan Short.' He handed the box to Kane, who immediately began to unwrap it.
Once the wrapping was off the box, Kane opened it to find a bunch of electronics pieces and circuit-boards inside. He looked up at Cory. "What's it make?"
Cory smiled at the no-nonsense question. "Those pieces, once put together, form a Clan Short version of the Starfleet personal communicator similar to what your mom and dad would have."
"So that will be what we can use to contact you guys if we need to?" Sky asked.
"Kind of. That one is Kane's." Cory then turned to Lieutenant Barnes. "Mr. Barnes, could you please issue Cody and Jason with standard communicators and Skylan with a Division Head's communicator?"
"As you wish, Patriarch Short." Matt said as he moved to do as he was requested.
Sky was confused. "What do you mean a Division Head's communicator? I'm not the head of any division."
"Not yet. Due to the size of the nation,
would be too difficult for the Clan as it stands to assist those in need as
well as the
"Danny, I'd like you to meet the Head of Clan Short's new Oceanic Division, Skylan Lampis. Skylan, this is Danny Page, Head of Clan Short's A.I. Division."
"A.I.? As in artificial intelligence?" Harry asked.
"Yes. My department deals with androids and robots that fall under the protection of the Clan Short Charter." Danny answered in a professional tone.
"Androids? I thought they were no longer permitted." Sky commented.
"Kinda..." Danny said with a grin. "It's not legal to create new androids without Federation knowledge, but the ones that already existed before that became a law are still looked after."
"Wow. So, do you like, know any androids?" Cody asked hesitantly.
"A few." Danny replied with a giggle. "On staff at the A.I. Division are 3 plus one in recovery after these guys saved him." He said, getting a scowl from Cory. "Oh yeah, I'm an android too."
"WHOA! You're an android? No way!" Both Sky and Cody exclaimed. Linda and Harry both had looks of shock on their faces.
"Yeah, I was the first android ever created to supposedly be 'True A.I.', but the scientist who created me used a neuro-image taken from myself, when I was a human. At the time, it created a major uproar and became a totally illegal procedure. Since then, I've found family I didn't even know I had. A younger brother, his son and a nephew I thought I would never see again." He answered with a smile. "These guys naming us their A.I. Division was seriously unexpected, but cool!"
As the information had finished registering with everyone who wasn't aware of this, Kane's stomach growled. "Mummy, I'm hungry. Can we have brek'fest now?"
"Good idea, Baby Boy. Would anyone else like something to eat?" The whole Clan, it seemed, jumped up at the mention of food.
"Wrong thing to say there, Linda. Do you think you can handle this group? I really need to get some shut-eye. I've never been one to cope well with jet-lag." Teri said with a smirk.
"I think I can handle this. Harry dear, could you please go install a few more cooking routines into the hologram control unit?" Linda asked.
"Sure." Harry said with a smile, before walking out of the room, the other adult men joining him.
Sky was still in shock. Cody noticed this and came up to him, wrapping his around Sky's waist. "You okay, babe?"
"I don't get it. Why didn't he make you Division Head? I don't think I'm ready for anything like this." Sky said softly.
"Shh... I think Cory did this as a way of helping you. It will help give you a sense of worth, knowing that, if needed, you can do something to help another person. If you need help, you'll always have me to help you with it. I trust you completely, babe, and I know you can do this."
"Well said, Cody." a voice behind the boys said, causing them both to jump in fright. They both turned around to find Aaron standing there, David in his arms. "Cody's right, Sky. Cory discussed it with the Clan, and we all agreed that you would be the best person for this. You have a great support network willing to help you all the way, and you may not know it, but you possess the passion for this work. Cody was also right in his belief in the reasons behind Cory's choice. What happened to you could still do damage to you. This makes it so you always know that there is a reason for you to be here."
"But Cody's the stronger of the two of us. He's the one that saved Jason."
"No, Sky, you did, when you had Kane pray for Jason that saved Jason's life. If it weren't for your actions, Jason would not have survived." David said.
"Well I still don't think so, but there's nothing I can do about it." Sky said softly.
"But you can do something about it. Better yourself and prove to Cory and yourself that he was right." Aaron said emphatically!
"I'll try." Sky said, before breaking out in a smile. "Now let's go see what Mum's cooking up."
The boys all walked to the kitchen, where they found Harry and Linda talking quietly, Linda wearing a worried expression.
"What's wrong, Mum?" Cody asked as they approached.
"It seems as though the hologram control has just broken down, which means that Clive and the other holograms are inoperable, and we have a whole bunch of young boys waiting on food." Harry answered for Linda.
"That's easy to fix." Aaron said, before pulling out communicator. "Where is Dreamworld?"
"Dreamworld? That's in Queensland; a good 12 hours drive north." Harry said in a shocked tone.
"So that's about 10 minutes by shuttle, okay. Are there any fast food places at Sydney Airport?" Aaron asked.
"Only in the International Airport." Linda said in a confused voice. "Why?"
"You'll see." David said as Aaron pressed a few buttons on his communicator.
"Starfleet Oceania Control, this is Aaron Carter of Clan Short, requesting connection to McDonald's, Sydney International Airport."
"Please hold, Mr. Carter."
A few seconds later, a male voice came onto the communicator. "McDonald's, Sydney International. Rod Furrows speaking."
"Mr. Furrows, this is Aaron Carter, representing the Patriarch of Clan Short of Vulcan. May I speak to the manager?"
"This is the manager, kid. And I don't appreciate prank calls."
"I assure you, sir, that this is not a prank call. I was enquiring into the possibility in requesting use of your store for a private party." Aaron said calmly.
"And just how many people would there be, kid?"
"A group of about 40 to 50." Aaron replied.
"Yeah right, kid. If you turn up with a group that size, then I'll consider it, but I doubt I'd allow it. No doubt you have no money to actually pay for the food."
"We shall see you shortly then, Carter out." As Aaron pressed a few more buttons, he muttered under his breath. "Or maybe not."
"Starfleet Oceania Control, this is Aaron Carter, representing Patriarch Short of Clan Short of Vulcan. We request connection to McDonald's Australia Headquarters, HR Manager, please."
"Please wait, Mr. Carter."
"Good Morning. I was just in contact with the manager of your Sydney International store and was treated to a very hostile attitude. I would like to request that disciplinary action be taken against the manager of the store, as it is very obvious that he holds no customer service qualities necessary when working in the fast food industry."
"I will personally look into this, Mr. Carter. May
I apologise on behalf of McDonald's
"Thank you. My party will be at the Sydney International store in approximately 20 Earth minutes." Aaron responded in his Vulcan-like manner.
"It will be sorted out by then. Thank you for informing me of this development, Mr. Carter." Mrs. Young responded before hanging up.
"What just happened?" Sky asked .
"Well the manager of the restaurant we're going to just got, a taste of what happens when we're messed with." Aaron said with a smirk. "Because I had identified myself as a representative of Clan Short, when he ignored the request I'd made, it was as good as ignoring a request made by Cory himself. Because of that, I had legal grounds to request an investigation by his bosses."
"So what's gonna happen now?" Cody asked.
"I have a couple more calls to make, and then we'll get going." Aaron said, "Cory! Get your butt in here. Sean too."
Cory and Sean both came running into the kitchen. "Wazzup, big bro?" Cory asked.
"Bro, Linda and Harry's house system shut-down. We can get it fixed up later, but for now, we have a whole bunch of kids that need food. I've come up with a plan. First, we're gonna go have breakfast at the McDonald's at Sydney Airport, then I have a surprise for all the Clan. Can you guys go ask Mom if she'd like to come with, while I make these last couple of calls?" Aaron asked the boys.
"Sure, bro." Sean said with a smile. "Is there anything else you needed?"
"Yeah, I need you to get ready for a shuttle ride. In order to get this group where we need them, we're gonna need to use both." Aaron said thoughtfully.
"Hmm... you're right. We'll be back in a minute." Cory said, before they both ran from the room.
Aaron turned to the rest of the group and chuckled. "I'll bet you anything the Clan will know about the 'surprise' in 5 minutes." At the confused looks on everyone else's faces, he explained. "Since Kyle is a telepath, he's probably just been told by Cory and Sean to figure out the surprise. As a general rule, if you wanna spring a surprise on this group of boys, you'd best include him in all your plans, otherwise, when he finds out, he'll spread the word before you can stop him."
"Thanks for the warning." Harry said.
"Just a couple more calls." Aaron said as he pressed a few buttons on his communicator. "Starfleet Oceania, this is Aaron Carter, representing Patriarch Short of Clan Short of Vulcan. I respectfully request connection to Dreamworld."
"Please hold, Mr. Carter. Dreamworld will be with you momentarily."
A few seconds later, a male voice came on the line."Dreamworld on the Gold Coast. David Lane speaking, how may we help you, Mr. Carter."
"Good Morning, Mr. Lane. I was calling to enquire into the possibility of holding a birthday event at your premises for a group of about 45 children." Aaron said.
"For a group that size, I can even offer you the private party discounted rates. The costs will be $40 for adults and $30 for children. If you would like, we can even close the park for your group to enjoy on your own." Came the reply.
"That is kind of you to offer, but not necessary. If you would accept a bit of a business deal though, I'd be greatly indebted to you." Aaron said with a noticeable gleam in his eye.
"And what would that deal be, Mr. Carter?"
"I would like you to offer private party discounted rates for all children entering the park today. Federation Youth Services will cover any losses incurred if necessary; however, if you could perhaps lower the price for special groups, I believe I could have it so you would make more money than usual, not including tips."
"I'm intrigued. Please tell me your plans."
"The new Federation Youth Services Department will, if the deal is agreed to, notify all institutes dealing in the welfare and care of children. I estimate a large number of children being able to come to the park. Also, it will help those children in hospital a chance to enjoy themselves and forget about operations and other such depressions." Aaron said firmly.
"I like the sound of your thinking, Mr. Carter. I'll tell you what, if Youth Services will agree to it, we will invoice the main office and only charge $10 per child that is within one of the institutes caring for children. I'll even throw in free food and drink to the value of $30 each for all children." Mr. Lane replied.
"Hang on a moment, Mr. Lane, and I'll discuss it with the Director of Youth Services Oceania." Aaron had just turned towards Linda, when she pulled the communicator out of his hands.
"Mr. Lane, this is Linda Thomas, Director of Youth Services Oceania. May I just say that the generosity that you have shown is above and beyond what the Federation expects of organisations. It will be perfectly fine for you to invoice Youth Services whatever you deem necessary. If you wish it, we can even allocate annual funding for the upkeep of amusements and such. It is my belief that an organisation such as yours needs all the assistance it can get, since it deals in providing wonderful memories for children for years to come. Thank you from all of the Federation." She said before handing the communicator back to Aaron.
"Well, Mr. Lane. I believe the plan's financial components have been agreed to. Shall I assume we have a deal?" Aaron said with a big smile.
"I think the deal has been done. I look forward to meeting your group. Thank Mrs. Thomas on behalf of Dreamworld."
"Will do. By the way, if you would like, feel free to advertise that Aaron Carter will be there today and will be more than happy to perform for patrons or sign autographs." Aaron said.
"How is that possible?" Mr. Lane asked.
"Mr. Lane, you have just spent the last 5 minutes speaking with him, and I can assure you that it is nothing for me to do." Aaron said, trying to stifle his giggles.
"Well! You would think I'd be able to put two and two together, but no. Thank you very much, Mr. Carter. I hope you enjoy your time at the park today and be aware that there may be a bit of a surprise for the birthday child. I hope to see you while you're up here."
"You can count on it. Carter out." Aaron said, before pressing a new sequence of buttons on the communicator. "Sydney International Control, this is Aaron Carter, representing Clan Short. Requesting conference with shuttle pad control."
"Sydney International Shuttle Control, how may I help you, Mr. Carter?" A male voice answered.
"I was calling to notify you that two Diplomatic shuttles shall be arriving at the Airport in approximately 10 minutes. We will need shuttle holding space for approximately 45 minutes, while we attend to business within the airport." Aaron said.
"Acknowledged on two Diplomatic Shuttles landing in 10 minutes for a duration of 45 minutes. What is your final destination today?"
"Out final destination will be Dreamworld, Queensland. Request that co-ordinates be uploaded into shuttle Nav systems while in holding."
"Acknowledged. Final destination Dreamworld. Co-ordinates to be uploaded. Thank you, Mr. Carter. Shuttle Control out."
"Thank you. Carter out." Aaron said before closing his communicator. "There. All sorted."
"How did you manage all that?" Sky asked. "That seems pretty unlikely that they would follow those requests."
"As Cory's lieutenant-in-charge, I have some major pull around the place." Aaron said, as Cory and Sean returned to the kitchen, Teri following closely behind.
"Aaron, what's this I hear about an 'excursion'?" Teri said in mock anger.
"Hey Mom. I just organised for Kane to have a big birthday party. The hologram control here has busted, so we're all going to McDonald's for breakfast, then we're all going to Dreamworld for the day." Aaron said.
"REALLY?" Cory and Sean both said just a little too excitedly.
"Don't even try that, you two. I know that as soon as I said 'surprise', you'd have gone straight to Kyle and had him scan me for info. Just remember, I know how you two work." Aaron said, one eyebrow raised.
"Who... us?" Both boys replied, trying to look innocent.
"Yeah, you." Aaron replied.
"Was there anything else, Aaron?" Teri interrupted.
"Well, I talked to the manager of the park, and we're getting in on discounted rates, but what was a true piece of genius, in my opinion, is the fact that I organised it so that all the orphanages and kid's hospitals in Australia would be able to take their charges to the park for only $10 with free food and drink. Add to that the fact that the kids will know I'm there and be able to get a free concert and autographs, and I think that there will be a lot of happy kids."
"I'm very proud of you, Aaron." Teri said, moving to hug Aaron. "Not only did you do something to save Kane's birthday, you also made plans for lots of children to get a bit of happiness out of it too."
"Hey bro. I seem to remember you doing something similar in Des Moines. What are you, the angel of giving or something?" Cory giggled. At Linda, Harry, Cody and Sky's confused looks, he elaborated. "On Aaron's first trip to Des Moines, where we lived before we moved to Orlando, Air Boy here organised a huge concert for all the schoolkids in the area. There was him, N*Sync, Backstreet and the Clan. And the best part was that he used it to raise money for the local orphanages. The donations were huge and came from all over the galaxy, cause Ambassador Sarek challenged all the planets of the Federation to match Vulcan's donation."
Harry and Linda looked to Aaron with looks of pride, while Cody and Sky looked positively ecstatic.
"Well guys, unless you wanna invade McD's and Dreamworld in your underwear, I think it would be best for you to get dressed." Harry said with a chuckle. Instantly, both boys were out the door and running upstairs to get dressed. "Before we leave, I need to take Kane upstairs and organise something." Harry then walked - more calmly than the boys - out the door and towards the dining room.
"I think we'd best go inform the boys of the change of plans. Let's just hope there's still furniture in your dining room." Teri said with a chuckle. The group all walked out towards the dining room, where they stopped in the doorway, before Teri emitted a loud, shrill whistle. "Okay guys, settle down. Now there have been a few changes in the plan for the day, as I'm sure you've all been informed by a certain someone." At this Kyle blushed; a deep red while trying to stifle his giggles. "Just to give you the details, in 5 minutes, we will all be leaving and travelling by shuttle to the local airport. And I DO mean 5 minutes, anyone not ready misses out."
"After breakfast at McDonald's in the airport, we will be going to Dreamworld. This is a privilege, which means any arguments or bad behaviour will result in you being sent back to Danny's house to stay with Marc, Jerry and everyone else still there. Be warned now, that there will still be lots of people in the park, including sick and injured children there for a special day. Be considerate towards them. Now, let's get ready." After she had finished, the boys all started running around, pairing up with their significant others to straighten each other up to look presentable.
5 minutes later, the whole group - Sky and Cody dressed in matching outfits, which caused quite a few giggles from the other boys - were standing around the shuttles. Cody, Sky, Kane and Jason travelled in the same shuttle as Danny, Sean, Cory and other Clan members, including Aaron and David, and their parents. Sean piloted the shuttle (to the boys' surprise) and he had David co-piloting, after a discussion on the need for a few more qualified pilots. Cory was on his communicator talking to someone named Justy, and Aaron was explaining a few things to the boys.
"Sky, I know you must be feeling unsure about the position you've been given within the Clan, so I can answer questions you have on the way there. Danny, the same goes with you." Aaron said to the boys around him.
"What exactly is Clan Short and what do we do?" Sky asked.
"We are representatives of the Family of Surak of the Planet Vulcan. When 'Bastian and Sammy came to join the Clan, it was because your old father had hit them in front of John. Later, JJ and Kyle were able to find out from the boys that their father and his friend were sexually abusing them. They had taken photos of the boys and were selling them over the Internet. Their father's friend was also pimping them out for his friend's. When Ambassador Sarek found out, he made it so that we became a sub-Clan of his family, with Cory as the Patriarch. This was because Justy and his brothers were related to Ambassadir Sarek. You'll meet Justy and the twins sometime."
"Wow. So what happened to their father?" Cody interrupted.
"I'm getting to that. As representatives of the Family of Surak, we have diplomatic immunity and only follow Vulcan laws. We are above Federation law, but we recognise when Starfleet's jurisdiction is more appropriate in a situation. Because of what had happened to 'Bastian and Sammy, we were given the responsibility of bringing those responsible to justice. The twin's father was already in Federation custody, so they took care of him, but his friend was our responsibility. On Alec's birthday, Calvin, the twin's old father's friend, tried to kidnap and kill the guys and Eli and Benji. With the help of Eli and Benji's special abilities, Calvin was apprehended, and subsequently faced a Vulcan trial, with Cory and Sarek presiding He was found guilty and executed on the spot." Aaron then took a breath before continuing.
"Following that fiasco, we were placed in the position where we could help all children who have been abused or abandoned. Our laws are those of the Federation's Safe Haven Act. When we find a child in need of help, it is our duty to do all we can to help them."
"What about us? What is our part in this?" Jason asked.
"You are the Clan's Oceanic Division. You are the people we will go to for help with children in need within the Oceanic Region. All those nations that are part of this region fall under your jurisdiction. If we obtain information leading to a child in need in this region, we call you and you are given the responsibility of helping them." Aaron said.
"But why did Cory choose me as Head? Why not Jason or Cody?" Sky asked.
"Cody and Jason would both be suitable candidates for the position, but Cory felt as though this would give you a sense of worth. He discussed his thoughts with me before we got here, and I agree. If you need help, all you need do is ask and you'll have your support network here and the rest of the Clan backing you up. You are in charge here. You only answer to Cory, as Clan Patriarch, and Sarek, as Family Patriarch." Aaron said seriously.
"It just feels like too much. Less than a week ago, I was in hospital after my parents beat me, and now I'm being told I'm in charge of a branch of a huge group. I'm not worthy of this. I was weak, and ended up in hospital for it." Sky said on the verge of tears.
"I'm only going to say this once, but don't ever let any of the guys hear you talk down about yourself. You might feel weak, but you pulled through dark times, and look what you got for it. A new family and a boyfriend that I can see, loves you more than anything else in this world. One of the things this group focuses on is that sometimes bad things have to happen so that good things can happen. You ended up in hospital, which is always a bad thing, but because you pulled through and didn't give up, you are now seeing only a fraction of the good thins in life."
"Wow. I never thought of it that way. I guess you're right. Did you have to go through this when you were put in charge of the A.I. Division, Danny?" Sky asked with a small smile.
"No. Instead I lost what the rest of these guys have dubbed the 'logic war'. I tried to use logic to prove Cory wrong, but he whooped me well and truly." Danny said, causing giggles from the boys.
Just then, Cory ended his call and looked back at the group. "Well that's that. Danny, your Division has just finished being integrated into the Clan Network, and Sky, your's is gonna be done when we're done with today. How's the interrogation going?"
Aaron giggled. "Convincing Sky was hard, but at least he didn't start throwing logic at me." This caused the occupants of the shuttle to break out in laughter.
Just then, David called out from the cockpit. "Guys, we're almost there. Mr. Page, please ensure that all passengers are secured."
"Me? Shouldn't Cory do it?" Danny asked.
"Dude, anyone can do it, and I decided to pick on you. You know, I've always wanted to do that to someone. It's fun." David chuckled, Sean joining in, before turning to David.
"Mr. Gallagher, please contact the tower and request clearance." The rest of the shuttle burst out laughing at the look of shock on David's face.
"Y-y-yes, sir." He managed to stutter.
"Relax, David. You've seen Cory do it often enough. Just do what he does."
"I'll try." David said as he switched to the airport tower's frequency. "Sydney Control, this is shuttlecraft Mississippi requesting clearance to land."
"Shuttlecraft Mississippi, this is Sydney Control. Acknowledged on request for clearance. Please state pilot and co-pilot names." Came the reply.
"Sydney Control, this is Mississippi. Pilot is Ensign Sean Short. Co-pilot is Clan Short Member David Gallagher." David replied.
"Acknowledged, Mississippi. You are clear to land on landing pad 1. Pad is clear. Welcome to Sydney International."
"Acknowledged, Sydney Control. You have us cleared to land on pad 3. Pad is clear. And thank you for the welcome. Mississippi out."
"Sydney Control out."
David turned to Sean. "How'd I do?"
Sean smiled as he replied. "Perfect. And nice reflexes on the co-pilot ranking."
"Thanks. I wasn't quite sure how to respond to the situation, so I went with what I knew."
Sean slowly brought the shuttle to a gentle touch-down, before turning on the cabin intercom. "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Sydney International Airport. We hope you enjoyed your fight with us today and we remind you yet again to please take all rubbish with you. Also, please remember that the shuttle will be leaving in one hour." This caused giggles throughout the shuttle.
As Sean was shutting down the systems, Aaron came up to the cockpit and wrapped his arms around David from behind. "Way to go, babe. I knew you could do it." He said before kissing him on the cheek.
"Okay guys, save that for tonight. Right now, I wanna try some McD's from a different country." Sean said, causing Aaron and David to crack up.
"Dude, it's the same company, with the same food. There's not gonna be any difference." Aaron managed to get out between laughs.
"Still, it'll be strange." Sean said.
"Whatever, bro. Next you'll be saying that Domino's will be different here as well." David giggled.
"Let's go." Sean said impatiently.
Aaron walked up to the counter. "Can I see the manager, please?"
"I'll get her for you." The awe-struck teenaged male behind the counter said.
A few moments later, a woman approached the counter. "Can I help you?" She asked Aaron.
"Yes, my name is Aaron Carter. I called earlier about the possibility of holding a rather large party here."
"Ahh... Mr. Carter. My name is Doris Young. We spoke earlier. I must say that you did me a great service today. It turned out that the old manager of the store had been underpaying his employees. He has been fired and I'm now managing this store until such time as a suitable replacement can be found."
"I'm glad to hear that. My party and I wish to use the store for a birthday breakfast, is that still possible?"
"Of course it is. Which of you is the party for?" Mrs. Young addressed the group. When Kane shyly stepped forward, she spoke directly to him. "Well, Happy Birthday. I hope you get all you wish for."
"Thank you." Kane shyly responded.
"I have organised for your group to use one of the airport's private function rooms upstairs. Please follow me." Mrs. Young said as she led the way to a large room, a large cooking area visible behind a counter. "Feel free to order whatever you wish. Mr. Carter, I will have to ask for payment details now, company policy." Aaron handed for his Starfleet Dependent's Financial Services access card.
"Thank you and enjoy your meal." She said after taking down the account number.
"Thank you for your assistance." Aaron said before Mrs. Young walked out of the room.
The boys then made their way up to the counter to make their orders. When it was Danny's turn, he hurriedly placed his order while grabbing at Cory's arm.
"Dude, what's wrong?" Cory asked as the boy turned to assemble his order.
"Look at the nametag of the kid serving me" Danny said.
Cory looked the boy over carefully before focusing on his name tag and gasping. "Shift Supervisor - M.A.R.C.?!?"
"Yeah bro, I think that's a M.A.R.C. series android." Danny said as he watched the boy quietly rushing back and forth behind the counter; appearing to be working alone.
"He doesn't have a name other than M.A.R.C.?" Cory asked.
"I dunno. Marc said that androids created after him were given names by their adoptive parents. He never said anything about them just going by the series name." Danny paused and continued to study the boy; who was simply and efficiently doing his job. "Unless he's being used as a servant."
"Servant or Slave Laborer?" Cory growled. "I say we look into this. It all smells worse than Sean's soccer shoes." He added.
At that moment, the boy returned to the counter with Danny's order. "Was there anything else with that?"
"Just a few questions. What's your name?" Danny asked.
"I have no name. I am a Multi-Modal Adolescent Research Companion. My primary function is to serve customers." the boy replied.
"Now I know there's something up here. Aaron, call Mrs. Young and have her come back up here. Danny, call Marc and see what he has to say about this." Cory said. "Sky, can you get your mom and mine to come up here?"
The three boys chorused, "Sure thing, Cory." before running off to do their own things.
Sky ran up to Linda. "Mum, Cory wants you and Teri to join us at the counter. I think something's up with one of the employees."
As Sky led the two women back, Aaron had opened up his communicator and called the store downstairs. When Mrs. Young was put on the line, Aaron said to her, "Mrs. Young. Would you kindly return to the function room? We have found another problem that may have been a result of the negligence of the former manager."
"I'll be right up." Was the reply.
At the same time, Danny had opened his communicator and established a connection with Marc. "Marc, this is Danny."
"Marc here. What's up, bro?"
"Dude, we just ran into a M.A.R.C. series android. It looks like he has had some sort of personality wipe or something. He says he doesn't have a name and his Primary Function is to serve. Cory and I believe he is being used as a slave labourer. Is there any way to restore his personality imprint?" Danny hurriedly asked.
"A M.A.R.C. series? There weren't too many in that area that I know of. Whether we can save his personality is dependent on whether there's still a personality to save. Did Caleb install that uplink in the shuttle for you?"
"Yeah, but I don't think the shuttle's onboard systems could handle a personality imprint manipulation though." Danny replied.
"No, I was thinking use it to access him directly, but don't even try until we identify him. I need you to get me his I.D. from below his uplink port so I can look him up in the system. Then we'll know if it's safe to do a direct connect."
"We should have access to him shortly Marc." Cory said over Danny's shoulder.
"Ok, I'll get access to the old database and wait for you to call back. Marc out."
"Thanks bro. Talk to you in a few. Danny out." Danny said as he clipped his communicator on his belt and looked at Cory. "Let's just hope we can get access to him."
"What's wrong boys?" Teri asked as she and Linda approached Sky, Cory and Danny who were now separated from the group and looking extremely serious.
"I came up as fast as I could. What can I help you with?" Mrs. Young asked as she almost jogged over to join the group.
"That boy behind the counter..." Danny began. "He's a Marc series android."
Teri looked at the boys with a confused look on her face. "Is there something wrong with him?" She asked.
"Mom, he believes he has no name or any other function other than to serve people." Cory injected noticing she still appeared to be confused. "Someone altered his brain, to make him think that's the only reason he has to exist."
"Free labour." Mrs. Young almost spit out as she crossed her arms and looked behind the counter. "I swear to you if I had known half of what I am finding out about how this location was being run, that man would have been on the street a long time ago."
"It's slavery, isn't it?" Sky asked his mother.
"It has happened in the past." Linda replied shaking her head. "What can we do for him?"
"Mrs. Young. Danny has access to the A.I. registry and has the ability to identify him. We would like to request that M.A.R.C. unit be relieved from duty so we can attempt to repair whatever damage you manager did to him." Cory asked containing the anger that was obviously growing by the minute.
"Absolutely, I will send him right out to you. If there is anything I can do to help. Pleas let me know." She said as she quickly retreated behind the counter and pulled the young android aside.
Cory watched Mrs. Young retreating behind the counter. "That bastard." he growled. "He better hope I don't find him before the police do; I know a few prison planets in need of workers."
Teri glanced over at Linda. "Follow me; you're about to get a lesson in being a Clan Mom." Teri then laid a hand on Cory's shoulder. "Cory; come off to the side for a minute. I think you need some 'mom time'."
"How could anyone do something like this?" Sky asked as he and Danny watched the android boy look in their direction nervously before heading out from behind the counter.
"Some people refuse to believe we have any rights or feelings. We are pieces of equipment and don't deserve to be treated any differently." Danny replied patting Sky on the shoulder.
"That's just wrong! How can anyone think that when you guys look just like us?" Sky replied furiously.
"My manager said you needed to speak with me sir." The M.A.R.C. unit said in a worried tone. "Is there something wrong?"
"Yes there is, but nothing that's of any fault on your part I promise." Danny said as he motioned to the table next to them and they sat down. "Um... Marc, we have reason to believe that you have been involved in somewhat of a disreputable circle here." Danny said softly in an attempt to not worry the boy. "My name is Danny, I am also an android."
"Have you come to replace me? Have I done something wrong?"
"No, you've done nothing wrong." Danny replied, forcing a smile. "I don't want to upset you, but M.A.R.C. series androids were never built to serve. I believe the people who put you in this position altered who you really are inside, to use you as nothing but a worker. I would like your permission to retrieve your identification and relay it to my staff so we can find out who you should be."
"You can trust them, they are here to help." Sky added with a reassuring smile.
"But there's nothing wrong with me. I function above the established guidelines of our management team." The android said in a worried tone.
"If it's ok, I would just like to check, just in case. I promise I won't harm you and if everything is fine, you will be able to get right back to work.
"Ok then." The android said as he reached behind his head and opened his access port.
Danny walked around behind him and flipped open his communicator. "Marc, this is Danny."
"This is Marc, did you get his I.D. number?"
"Yes I did." Danny replied as he read off the contents of the androids Identification.
"One sec bro." Marc said as you could hear him tapping at a keyboard. After a few seconds, the tapping stopped and you could hear Marc gasp. "Dude, I don't believe this."
"What did he find?" Cory asked as he returned to the table looking a bit calmer.
"His name is Zeke Thelander. Danny, remember I told you about the android who promised his father he would forever watch over his family?"
Danny held his communicator at arms length and glared at it before answering, "Yeah I do. This is him?"
"According to his I.D. at least it was him. Let's hope he's still in there."
"What do we do next?" Cory asked as he and Danny walked out of hearing distance of the M.A.R.C. unit.
"Danny, it's safe to connect directly to him. You will need to go in and see how his personality was disabled and undo whatever was done to him. Cory while he's doing that, you may want to have someone monitor Zeke with a tricorder. There is the possibility if he has suffered trauma before his bypass that he could be overwhelmed with the rush of information. We need to make sure he doesn't overload."
"Sure thing bro. Is there anything we need to know before we proceed?" Cory asked.
"Not really, if Zeke overloads all you can do is make sure he doesn't convulse before shutting down. He could do damage to himself and to Danny if the cable is still attached."
"Wait, wait, wait!" Cory half yelled. "This could damage Danny? No, there has to be a safer way to go."
"Easy bro." Marc quickly got out. "The connection itself won't harm him. If he convulses you will need to hold him down so the uplink connection isn't yanked out. That's what could do the damage. Danny will be very aware of what the situation is from inside. You just gotta keep Zeke from thrashing and yanking that connection."
"Yeah, you just need to keep an eye out for signs of overload and overheat. That will tip you off as to when he could go into convulsions. The brain loses control of motor functions when it is too occupied with a system overload." Danny added as a clarification.
"No harm will be done in the process to either. It's just a precautionary measure to keep a close eye on him."
Cory looked relieved and nodded his head in agreement as they turned and walked back to the table Sky and the android were sitting at. "Ok, we need to get to the shuttle then. Do you guys wanna hold off or do this now?"
Marc replied; "I would as soon as possible. In his frame of mind as it is, he may be confused and a little scared that his primary function is now obsolete, meaning he could be facing replacement. That may stress him out more than anything right now. Is it possible to separate from the group for maybe 15 minutes or so?"
"That can be done." Cory added then turning to Sky. "If it's ok, I'd really like you to join us bro, so you know what all is goin on."
"I don't know how much help I'll be." Sky said looking toward his feet.
Cory reached out and lifted Sky's chin. "Cuz, I want you with me. Forget about the old family you used to have; you have a new family here in Australia and you've been reunited with the good side of your family from the States. I need you there as the head of this region; but I need you more as my family. This is your first chance to see how we do things; and it's Danny's first official action as A.I. Division head."
"I need you there too." Danny snuck in with a loud whisper so everyone could hear him. "Us rookies gotta to stick together." He finished with a giggle earning a grin from Sky.
Cory felt a hand snake around his waist. "Wazzup babe?" Sean asked as he pulled Cory into his chest.
Cory gave a small smile. "Hey Teddy Bear. Sky and Mr. Roboto have to do a little work; you think that you can keep Mom and Aunt Linda occupied for a few? We'll just be a couple of minutes."
"Mr. Roboto!?!" Danny shot at Cory playfully. "You are sooo cruisin bro."
As Sky giggled at the playful interchange, Sean gave Cory a squeeze. "No problem bro; if ya' need me just yell. I'll find out what's up from Kyle."
"You guys always pick on each other like that?" Sky asked with a smile and a snicker.
Cory giggled back at Sky. "Naw, sometimes we're worse! C'mon y'all; we're missin' a party here by standin' around!"
"Ok." Danny replied becoming serious once again and turned toward the table. "Zeke?" He called out getting no response. "He doesn't remember that name at all." He added with a frown. "Marc?" He called out this time gaining the android's attention with an instant smile.
"Yes sir?" The M.A.R.C. unit stood up and replied in question.
"Just Danny ok?" Danny replied before adding, "We have determined that we can help you regain the memories of your previous life and identity if you will allow us too. May we have your permission to try?"
The M.A.R.C. unit looked to be deep in thought but was brought back by an arm being placed across his shoulders.
"S'ok mate. I promise they won't do ya no harm." Sky said with a relaxed smile earning one from the android boy.
"Not much help?" Danny asked a grinning Cory as the two watched Sky and his new friend turn for the door.
Cory smiled. "Yeah; kinda reminds me of a certain android who had a loose screw and thought he couldn't do the job. C'mon bro, let's go work some Clan Short magic."
"Your right." Danny replied with a smile. "Yeah, let's go see if we can free Zeke. Keep your fingers crossed this goes well bro."
"Ok, have a seat and put that seat belt on Marc." Danny said motioning toward one of the passenger seats. "Cory, you got a tricorder on ya?"
"No, but there's one in the Med kit!" Cory giggled. "Want me to get it?"
Danny shot a confused look at Cory and grinned at the smirk he saw on his face. "Nah, you just use your super-blond vision to monitor his vitals. I hear that works pretty well." Danny got out with a giggle as both boys saw Sky take the androids hand and smile over the interaction between Cory and Danny; finally getting him to let loose and giggle.
"Wait'll I tell Marc you're making blond cracks!" Cory giggled as he got out the tricorder. "He musta missed a lot of screws in that head of yours! Ready when you are, oh ancient one."
"Nice..." Danny said busting out with a laugh. "At least my loose screws can be fixed, yours on the other hand..." He managed to get out before the soft case for the tricorder bounced off of his head, getting a laugh from everyone. "C'mon, let's go to work." he added as he connected the cable first to Zeke and then to himself taking a seat at his side. "Close your eyes bro, I'll meet you in there." He finished, pointing at the androids head.
Zeke nodded his head and closed his eyes. "I'm right here bro." Danny heard Cory say as he closed his eyes and smiled.
All the adults of the group were fast becoming impressed by the behaviour of the group of boys in their charge. After Sky's group had left, the boys all settled down and awaited the return of the other group, while finishing off their breakfast. The boys had all split up into 3 or 4 groups, each holding their own conversations, but despite the close proximity of each group to the next, the volume of their conversations never became too loud.
Linda watched as Kane sat with Timmy, Ricky and Harley, the four of them giggling when Kyle ran by, being chased by Ty after he had dropped an ice cube from his drink down Kyle's shirt.
She then returned her attention to Teri and asked,
"Are all the boys always this civilised?" which caused the adults
"Civilised? Well, I've heard this rowdy mob called many things, but civilised isn't one of them." Teri said as her laughter died down to the occasional chuckle.
"To be truthful, Linda, these boys can be quite a handful when in private, but they are very well behaved in public. That's mostly because of how they were brought up, many of them were excessively punished for bad behaviour, but it's also because when they're in public, they take on the mannerisms of a true Vulcan Clan. At times like these, they use logic as their guidance, rather than emotions." Dan said.
"That makes sense." Harry said. "I've been able to see a change in Sky already, just from the way he handled the situation with Zeke. If that's what Cory had in mind when he appointed Sky as Division Head, then I'm happy with his decision."
"Just watch." Dan said. "I'm sure you'll soon see Sky's confidence and sense of self-worth growing in leaps and bounds."
The adults continued to watch over the boys, before Teri stood up from the table. "I'm going to go get a few drinks."
The other adults watched as the boys all laughed and joked with each other, and when Teri returned to the table, carrying a tray full of drinks, none noticed her until she spoke up. "Linda, Mrs. Young. I'm going to take these drinks to the boys at the shuttle. Would you like to join me?"
When both women had agreed, Linda turned to the men. "You fellas reckon you can keep this group of monsters under control for a bit?" At the men's nods, the three women made their way down to the shuttle pads, Jason following a few minutes later, intrigued by the mysterious boy.
"How's everything out here?" Teri asked as all three women entered the shuttle.
"Ok so far Mom. Everything seems to be going smoothly, for now." Cory answered as he continued to carefully watch the tricorder for any changes.
Linda looked at Cory with surprise. "Teri? Does he know what he's doing with that?"
Teri grinned. "Don't let his hair fool you, Linda. Cory's really good about not doing something unless he is sure what he's doing. If he says everything's okay, you can count on it."
"Not you too Mom!" Cory moaned without shifting his gaze from the display. "What is it about blond jokes today?" He got out just as Zeke sharply inhaled and his entire body stiffened. "Oh boy, here we go. Blood pressure just heightened. Heart rate increasing but not critical."
"He's crying." Sky added wiping the tears from Zeke's cheeks. "Is he in pain Cory?"
"I don't think so bro. I think the integration just happened so any hurt he felt in the past is coming to the surface." Cory added risking a quick glance at Zeke.
Jason chose that moment to join the group in the shuttle. He saw Sky wiping the tears from Zeke's face and hurried over to join him. "What's wrong with him Sky?" Jason asked as he took a seat next to them.
"I'm not sure. Cory says he's ok though." Sky replied as Danny's eyes opening startled him.
"Danny?" Cory asked as Danny's eyes began to tear up and he disconnected the cable and walked quickly out of the shuttle, patting Cory on the shoulder on his way by. "Danny?" Cory once again shouted after him as he quickly scanned Zeke one more time and saw his vitals begin to return to normal. "Mom, can you monitor him? I need to make sure Danny's ok."
Teri reached out for the tricorder. "Hurry up, go take care of your brother Cory; I'll take it from here."
The party had proceeded with all the boys in happy moods, until the two eagles screeched and the raccoon squealed, and Timmy, Ricky and even Kane broke out into full warpaint. Instantly, Kyle went into concentration as the noise level dropped to nothing.
Sean quickly ran up to the young telepath. "Kyle, what's happening, bro?"
Kyle opened his mouth to answer, before Kane broke down into angry tears. When he noticed Timmy and Ricky looking at him in confusion, he spoke. "Zek's really sad, and Danny's angry. He thinks tha' what happened t' Zek' was really mean."
Ty spoke up from the other side of the boy. "He's right, bro. I can feel it too. Danny's pissed."
Straight away, Sean recognised what was happening with Kane. "Tyler! Work on calming Danny down. The last thing we need is an angry android. Kane, buddy, can you close off your mind to Danny?"
"I dunno. Why do I feel all sad?" Kane whimpered.
"I think you might be like Tyler, and be able to feel other people's emotions. If we're lucky, you may also be able to affect their emotions. What you need to do is try to block out Danny's anger. Focus instead on Zeke's sadness. You think you can do that, buddy?" Sean said softly, rubbing circle's on the little boy's back.
"'Kay, I'll try." The young boy concentrated for a moment, and the group watched as the anger in his face slowly faded, leaving a face filled with sadness.
"That's it, buddy. Now, do you think you can think of happy things, to try and make Zeke happy? Thing's like your family, who all love you very much."
Sean and the group watched as the tears slowed, and a small smile crept onto Kane's face. "That's it, buddy. Hopefully, you've just helped Zeke overcome his sadness a bit. We can't be sure, and you may not yet be powerful enough to affect other people's emotions. Way too go, buddy, we're all very proud of you." At that, Sean looked up at the worried face of Harry. "It's ok now, Harry. You can have the little guy. Give your Daddy a big hug, kiddo, you did good."
Everyone watched as Kane launched himself into Harry's arms, wrapping his arms around Harry's neck and his legs around his waist.
Teri watched the tricorder as Zeke's vitals slowly got closer to normal, and the tears suddenly slowed, Zeke's cries slowing to hiccups and occasional sobs, a small smile spreading on his lips. 'That was sudden. Thank you, Tyler.' she mused.
"Why was he so upset?" Jason asked.
Sky smiled at the protectiveness behind the questions as he answered. "He's fine, bro. I think regaining his last memories was just a bit hard is all."
Jason calmed a bit at the answer. Then, Zeke's eyes fluttered as they opened, and Jason found his heart breaking at the pain and sadness contained within them.
Zeke looked around at his surroundings, wondering how he got here. When he noticed everyone watching, he spoke in his original, musical voice. "What's going on? Where are you taking me? Why'd you kill my parents?"
This lasted question shocked the occupants of the shuttle. After a full minute of silence, Teri was the first to speak, her shock evident in her voice. "Shh... it's alright. We're not here to hurt you. Can you tell me your name?"
Zeke looked at Teri. "My name is Zeke Thelander, and I've never met you in my life. My parents have just been killed, and I can only assume you're all responsible for it."
Sky quickly moved to kneel in front of the still distressed boy. "Hey. We're not the ones who killed your parents. My name's Sky, and most of the people here are my family. Do you know what the date is?"
"It's the 23rd of August, my little brother's birthday, why?"
"It's actually the 17th of October, my little brother's birthday. You've been locked away inside yourself for almost 2 months now. I know it's a lot to take in, but we need to ask a few questions, so that we can help you, okay?" Sky said softly.
Zeke nodded hesitantly.
"Okay, what is the last thing you remember?" Sky asked softly.
"I'd just woken up, and I was walking to the kitchen, ready to surprise my little brother with his present. I'd gotten him a new bike. As I walked into the kitchen, I saw my family, lying on the kitchen floor. There was a man standing over them, he had a knife in his hand. When he saw me, he pulled some sort of gun out and shot me with it. All I remember after that is darkness."
Sky gasped and, when Zeke looked at him, he spoke softly. "I had a nightmare the other night about my family being murdered, and it was all the way you just described it. I thought it was a prophecy of some sort, but instead, it was an insight into your life."
Zeke suddenly looked fearful. "You dreamed about me? Why?" He asked timidly.
"I dunno. I think it was so I can help you, since I know what you felt when you saw that. It scared me when I thought it was my family, but, since you'd been with yours since forever, it would have been a lot harder to deal with. Can you tell me what happened in the lead-up to that day?" He asked softly, not wanting to push the boy too soon.
"Well, I was always happy with my family, and when my original father passed away, I made a promise to him that I would look out for his family forever. After Dad died, my younger brother, who had grown up by then, adopted me into his family, making him and his wife my new parents, and I loved them all dearly. I remember my younger brother had always had this one friend that was always fascinated by the fact that I was an android, and he'd tell my brother so all the time. When he became the manager of a McDonald's at the airport, he kept trying to convince my brother and his wife to have me work at his store. Because I'm an android, though, they always felt that it wouldn't be very good, since someone might get suspicious."
"Zeke, buddy. This'll be hard to hear, but you are at the airport. We found you working behind the counter of the store, although it was up in the function room that we met. Now, I just need to check something, okay?"
Zeke slowly nodded. "Okay."
Sky pulled out his new communicator, and after a full minute trying to figure out the controls, contacted Cory. "Cory, this is Sky."
"Cory here. What's up, Sky?" Came the reply.
"Dude, Zeke doesn't seem to remember anything past the day of his family's deaths. Is there a way to be able to integrate his memories of that time into what he remembers?" Sky asked seriously.
After a moment of silence, Cory's voice came through the communicator, full of hesitation. "I dunno. Danny's saying yes cause he left him in an emotionally suppressed state of mind, but he tells me that what he saw while connected to Zeke may cause him to lose control. He hasn't said what happened, but it would have to be pretty serious for him to have even walked out of the shuttle the way he did. Go with your best judgment. I trust you fully, just be prepared for a pretty self-destructive android. See if you can lessen the impact of him remembering."
Sky looked up to see Jason's worried face and broke into a small smile. "I think I have the perfect person to comfort him right here. Thanks, cuz. Sky out."
"Jason! Get over here." Sky said, giggling at the mix of fear and worry on Jason's face.
"What's up, Sky? Did something go wrong?" Jason asked timidly.
"No, but I need you to do something for me." Sky said seriously.
"W-what? I don't know anything about androids." Jason stuttered.
"But you know how to comfort someone don't you?" At Jason's hesitant nod, Sky continued. "I need you to keep Zeke calm for me for a minute. I'm going to Try to make him remember. From what Cory told me, some of what happened is pretty heavy. Just make sure he stays calm for me."
"Okay," Jason said hesitantly, "but I don't see how much help it'll be."
"Trust me, bro, it'll help." Sky said with a smile.
Jason nodded and moved into position, gently wiping the fresh tears from Zeke's face. "C'mon Zeke. I'm here for you. Just let the pain out." He then pulled Zeke into a gentle hug.
Once Sky noticed Zeke calming a bit, he tried to recall what he knew about androids. After finding out Zeke was an android, his mind had slowly begun piecing together his memories of androids. He was a bit shocked at first, but when Cory noticed, he had told him to let the feelings take their course. Now, his memories of androids and their operation was back and he used this to do the task at hand.
"Zeke, I need you to physically access your personal files dating from your little brother's birthday to present. They are there; your brain just isn't letting you see them." He said firmly.
When Zeke replied, it seemed as though a sudden calmness swept over him. "Understood Sky, accessing files now."
'Okay, now to do this with hopefully as little pain as possible.' Sky thought to himself before continuing. "Zeke, integrate all memories since last personality blockout. You need to re-integrate and then access, ok?" Sky then crossed his fingers as everyone watched Zeke nod his head in acknowledgement and then close his eyes.
Five minutes later, Zeke slowly opened his eyes. "Memory integration complete." This worried Sky, as he had no idea what to expect next.
"Okay. Everyone cross your fingers. This may be a bit rough for him. Jason, get ready to work some magic." Sky said to all the occupants of the shuttle. "Zeke, think back to that day. You do remember, it's all there."
Instantly, the dam walls broke, and Zeke began to cry. Jason quickly responded and pulled Zeke into a hug, rubbing circles on the small boy's back as he whispered soothing words in his ear.
Everyone in the shuttle watched when five minutes later, Zeke's tears subsided to the occasional sob and hiccup. At that point Sky knew that the task was done, and he breathed a sigh of relief that it had all panned out. Linda walked up to the boy and wrapped her arms around him. "I am so proud of you, Sky. You did it perfectly. I think Cory did the right thing making you the head of his new Division."
Sky let loose the tears of fear he had been holding in as he wrapped his arms around her in a tight hug. "Thank you, Mum. I was so scared I was going to do something wrong."
"Shh... it's okay. Zeke is fine, and it's all thanks to your quick thinking. By the way, how did you remember android operation protocols?" Linda asked softly.
"When I first found out Zeke was an android, my mind started itching or something, and when Cory noticed, he told me to let what would happen, happen and when I did, my memories of my Android Operations classes came back to me."
"Well, I'm glad to see that you're regaining your memories. I'll have to thank Cory for helping you." Linda said with a smile.
At that moment, Sky noticed that Zeke had completely calmed down and was now hugging Jason for comfort. "Zeke, buddy. Do you think you can tell us what happened while you were working here?"
Zeke slowly nodded, but didn't speak for a few minutes, using Jason's support to build his courage. "After the men kidnapped me, they brought me to the friend of my brother, where he powered me up again and he paid them for the job they did. He didn't even seem upset when they told him they had killed my family. After that he took me to a small shop thing in the city, where the guy must have reprogrammed me. From what I can recall of the old programming, my brother's 'friend' had me programmed to be a servant, with only basic emotions, just a robot to used to serve his customers. There was also another part to the program, but I'll get to that."
Zeke took a slight pause to recollect his thoughts before continuing. "Anyway, the manager had me working in the store from opening to close, without breaks, and he had me on the payroll, but all the wages I had earned, totalling about $4000, went straight to him. He would buy me new uniforms when my old ones were wrecked, and some food, but it was only bread and sometimes milk to go with it. All the employees, except a couple, used me as a robot and had me serve the customers and do the cooking when it was quiet, while they all relaxed and did nothing. Because I'm an android, I was able to meet the expectations of the programming, and so they got paid to do nothing. There were a couple of guys that helped me when it got busy, but they usually got fired for no apparent reasons."
Zeke paused again as he reached the part of his story that was the most painful, before finishing. "At the end of the day, the manager would take me to his house, under the pretences that I was his son. He was even trying to legally adopt me, but nothing ever came of that. When we got back to his house, he would feed me two slices of plain dry bread and a glass of water or milk. After that, he would command me to shower and go to his bedroom." Tears started to run down Zeke's cheeks again as he recalled these experiences and Jason tightened his grip on the boy. "When I got to the bedroom, he would be laying on the bed, naked. He would make me come to the bed, where he would pet me and call me things like his 'pretty, perfect little robot boy'. Then he'd stroke my... thing... until I came on his hand, and he would lick up my semen. Sometimes, he would even give me a blowjob. This was all part of his programming. He had me programmed to beg for more, until he would lubricate himself and begin raping me. At that point, I was programmed to scream in pain and beg for him to stop. He was a sick bastard. Every time I screamed, he would smile, and if I screamed too much, he would hit me and tell me that I would soon like it, although I was programmed to never like it. After he came in me, he would pull out and tell me to go sleep in the lounge room, on the floor, naked."
At this point, Zeke was on the verge of breakdown, and after he had finished, he started screaming and crying uncontrollably. Jason rocked him as he soothed him, crying himself from the pain the boy had obviously felt. The rest of the occupants watched this in shock and anger. They couldn't believe this had happened. Sky was the first to verbalise his feelings. "If I ever see that bastard, he'll wish he had never been born. That is the most disgusting thing I've ever heard." At that, he fell silent as he pondered what to do for Zeke now.
Eventually, Zeke had calmed down, and he looked up to be shocked at all the angry faces looking at him. In a scared voice he asked, "You all hate me now, don't you?"
Linda walked over to the distressed boy, kneeled down and wrapped her arms around him. "No, Zeke. There's nothing to be angry with you for. You were the victim of a sick and deranged man, and you had no control after they had stripped you of it." Linda paused in consideration for a moment, before speaking to the young boy. "How would you like to become a part of my family? You'll have 4 brothers, who would all love you very much, and Harry and I would love to be able to care for you. I know it won't be the same as your old family, but this way, you'll still always have a family that love you."
Zeke couldn't answer due to his shock, and instead wrapped his arms around Linda and cried, tears of sadness being replaced by tears of joy. When the two broke apart, Linda said with a smile; "Shall I take that as a yes?"
Zeke nodded a big smile on his face. "Well then, we'll take care of that up at the party, so everyone can congratulate you properly. Welcome to the family, son." The two then embraced again, this time joined by Jason and Sky. Teri and Mrs. Young watched on with smiles.
While the group was hugging, Cory and Danny returned to the shuttle, both with angry expressions on their faces. Teri immediately walked up to the teens and wrapped her arms around the both of them. "Calm down, guys. Zeke's getting over it, with Jason's help." This caused both to relax a bit.
"Sky, if I ever meet the monster who claims to be a human, I'm going to hold an interplanetary tribunal. You'll need to watch what I do carefully, because in future, you have the legal right to demand to hold such a tribunal in the case of a member of your family being disrespected or hurt. Do you think you'd be able to handle that?" Cory asked Sky, after him, Zeke and Linda had finished their group hug.
"What about the guys who kidnapped Zeke and killed his family?" Sky asked. "They deserve to face the consequences of what they have done."
"Our Intelligence team will track down the ones who committed those acts, but we will hand them over to Starfleet Security, let them deal with it." Cory said, while grabbing Sky's shoulders and rubbing them to calm him.
"Okay. Thanks for helping me, cuz." Sky said with a smile.
"No problem. I always look after my family." Cory said with an answering grin.
"Well. What say we all go back to the party and try to have fun?" Linda said, which met with instant agreement from the boys. The whole group then made their way back to the function room, Cory with his arm over Sky's shoulder and Jason with his over Zeke's shoulder.
The group from the shuttle walked into something resembling a war-zone. Each and every one of the kids were covered in what looked like fries and salt, while the men watching over the group were cowering behind their table.
"What is going on in here?!" Linda shouted.
An audible gulp could be heard from throughout the room, even from the table the men were hiding behind. Kane was the first of the group to be able to speak. "Mummy, Daddy called us all monst'rs, so we threw chippies at him, then all th' adults threw their chippies at us, and then it turned int' a foo' fight!" He said excitedly.
Linda's gaze turned to the men hiding behind their table. Each one of the men sank even further behind the table when her eyes met theirs. "I thought you said you'd be able to handle this group." Linda said in an even tone, not betraying the laughter that was desperate to escape.
Dan stood and spoke, clearly fearful of the danger of the three women standing before them. "Well, we thought we could, but then Harry opened his mouth and said the wrong thing, and it all just escalated from there."
"Well, I don't think we'll be leaving the children in your care without at least one woman with you for a long time now." Linda said.
Teri then turned to the group of children behind the women. "Alright you animals! Each of you is to make sure the one standing next to you is presentable. No salt or chips or to be seen on any of you, otherwise, we'll call the flight to Dreamworld off."
This brought an immediate reaction from all the boys in the room, who hurriedly turned to their neighbour and began plucking the fries from their hair, and brushing the salt from their clothes. In 5 minutes, each of the boys looked as though they had just dressed in the clothes they were in, with no fries or salt to be seen.
Just then, a knock was heard at the door to the function room. Linda went to answer the door, and a man in his thirties followed behind her when she walked back to the group. "This man is Rod Furrows. I believe a few of you all will know who he is." She said before backing away and leaving the man facing the large group of boys.
Aaron stepped forward and began. "Mr. Furrows. My name is Aaron Carter. I believe you will remember me as the 'kid' who called you this morning about using your store for a party?" He said with a small smirk.
"Yeah, you caused me to lose my job, you punk-assed kid." Mr. Furrows sneered.
"On the contrary, Rod." Mrs. Young interrupted. "It was your own breach of the company policy that caused you to lose your job, and I believe it is your flagrant disregard for the laws of our society that will end with the loss of your freedom."
"Well the hell do you mean?" Mr. Furrows demanded. "What exactly is going on here?"
"Commander Martin, I am taking jurisdiction of this matter, as Patriarch of the Clan that Zeke is to be protected by." Cory said as he stepped forward, with Sky standing just behind him and to the side. At John's nod, he continued. "Mr. Furrows, you are hereby contained to this room until such time as this Interplanetary Tribunal has reached its conclusion. JJ, Gabe, cover the doors. Minimal force only."
As JJ and Gabe moved over to the doors, they pulled out their phasers, and Mr. Furrows' eyes widened as he took in the scene of these youngsters holding deadly weapons. "What do you mean 'contained'? You can't do that!"
"I can and have, Mr. Furrows. It's time for you to face the consequences of your actions over these past months. Mr. Furrows, you have been detained on the initial charges of false imprisonment, illegal reprogramming of an artificial life form, embezzlement, sexual abuse and prostitution. These charges are based upon the testimony and subsequent mind-scan of one, Zeke Thelander. Do you have anything to say to those charges?"
"You can't prove anything, kid. That robot doesn't know anything about what's going on." Mr. Furrows sneered.
"That ANDROID has a name, and a life, both of which you stripped him of when you had him reprogrammed to be your work and sex slave. When we restored his personality, he revealed EXACTLY what you made him do, both here and at your house." Sky said, barely containing his rage.
"On top of that, I have a team of Vulcan-trained telepaths that will each have scanned you the second you were introduced. I don't think I need to tell you that a telepathic report bears more weight in a court than a sign confession." Cory then turned to Kyle. "Kyle, what do you have to add to this?"
Kyle stepped forward. "From what I saw in his mind, Mr. Furrows has never shown any remorse for his actions. He has wanted to sleep with Zeke since he found out he was programmed to be gay. When Zeke's family prevented Zeke from working for McDonald's, he began planning a kidnapping and showed no remorse for the deaths of his old friend and his family. Also, he showed great pleasure in hearing the programmed pleas of Zeke during the frequent rape sessions. Right now, he is planning a method of kidnapping Zeke again after this tribunal."
"I have all the information I need to pass judgment. Mr. Furrows, would you like to add anything?" Cory said in a serious tone.
Mr. Furrows was in shock, having just had his thoughts revealed to all by a 9 year-old. At the extended silence, Cory continued. "As there is nothing else to add, I hereby find you guilty on all charges and sentence you to death." He said as though it happened every day.
"What? You can't sentence me to death! You don't have the right." Mr. Furrows spat out when he had found his voice again.
"On the contrary. Mr. Furrows, you were just passed sentence by the most powerful 14 year-old on the planet. Cory here is known as Patriarch Short of Clan Short of the Family of Sarek of the House of Surak of the Planet Vulcan. As you have just faced an interplanetary tribunal over which Patriarch Short presided, you will find that Patriarch Short's decision is final. I believe that if Ambassador Sarek were here, he would agree with Patriarch Short's decision. The series of crimes you have committed are considered some of the lowest acts possible on Vulcan." John said from Cory's side.
"Mr. Furrows, you have 2 minutes to make a final statement before your execution. Is there anything you wish to express?" Cory said seriously.
"Just that if I could, I would do it all again. These past two months have been the gre..."
"THAT'S ENOUGH! JJ and Gabe, prepare yourselves now." Cory said, before glaring at Mr. Furrows. "Mr. Furrows, your lack of remorse in this issue is proof in point that you cannot and will not be allowed to live in this world. It is people such as yourself that create problems for the world when it comes to tolerance and acceptance. While I would dearly like to see you suffer for the pain you have caused Zeke, it is against my nature to allow it. JJ and Gabe, ensure your phasers are set to 'Maximum' and prepare to fire on my mark."
JJ and Gabe both adjusted their phasers and moved to either side of Cory, aiming the weapons at Mr Furrows. "Three... two... one. MARK!"
At the point of impact of the beams, Mr. Furrows was reduced to a small pile of ashes. Just then, all the occupants of the room felt a tingling sensation in their heads. All the occupants suddenly found they had trouble remembering the events of the past minute.
"Kyle, Tyler, what just happened?" Cory asked the two specially gifted boys.
"I dunno, Cory, but I just felt a massive surge of telekinetic AND empathic energy radiating... from Kane." Kyle said.
Everyone turned to Kane, whose eyes were still shut tightly and whose muscles were tensed. Sky walked up to the young boy. "Hey lil' buddy. What's wrong?" he asked softly.
"Is the bad man gone?" Kane asked timidly, slowly relaxing and opening his eyes, now shining with unshed tears.
"Yes he is, lil' buddy. But I have to ask you, what is it that you did to everyone?" Sky asked, again softly.
"I just wished that ev'ryone wouldn't see what happened to the bad man and I felt a tingle in my head." Kane said timidly. "Am I in trouble? Please don't be mad at me, Sky."
"You're not in trouble, Kane. We were all surprised is all. It seems that you are a very special little boy, and I know you're a very special little brother to me." Sky said, before wrapping his arms around the young boy and picking him up into a hug. He then turned to the rest of the group. "Any ideas on how he did that?"
"I might have one, but it's a bit unbelievable." Kyle said.
"This whole situation is a bit unbelievable, so your theory can't be too far off." Sky said seriously.
"I think that when he 'wished' that we didn't know what happened, he somehow tapped into my ability and used it to transmit the subconcious command to forget the event. As I said, it's hard to believe, but I could swear I felt an almost invading presence in my mind when it happened." Kyle said.
"Wow, that's different. Anyone have any ideas as to why that happened?" Cory asked.
"I think maybe Kane's empathy, mixed with what seems to have been telekinetic energy, caused my brain to automatically transmit the signals to forget the events of moments ago." Kyle said.
"Wow. I knew you were special, but even I didn't know you were THIS special, kiddo." Sky said as he tightened his hug on the young boy in his arms.
"So, I'm not in trouble? I wasn' naughty?" Kane sniffled.
Cory pulled the young boy into a hug and said, "No, lil cuz. This just means that you'll make Kyle more dangerous to bad guys. Just think, if you don't like someone, for all they know, they could end up thinking they're a dog or something. Think you could do that?"
This provoked a giggle from Kane. "You're silly, Cory."
"That's me. Now, whatsay we finish breakfast and get to Dreamworld? We gotta party to have." Cory said, effectively ending the discussion for now.
After the commotion had died down, the whole group, including Zeke, who was clinging to Jason like a liferaft, made their way back to the shuttles to continue with the big day.
Everyone travelled in the same shuttle as their trip to the airport, Zeke joining Jason in the shuttle piloted by Sean.
Sean asked Cody to make sure everyone was strapped in, and as David completed the pre-takeoff checklist, Sean contacted the second shuttle on his comms system. "Ensign Short to shuttlecraft Newton."
"Shuttle Newton, Lieutenent Barnes speaking. What's up Sean?"
"Matt, I would like you to begin training someone to co-pilot the shuttle, preferably one of the Clan members. We need more qualified pilots to control the shuttles, since those already trained aren't always going to be available."
"Good idea, Sean. I'll start training Adam; I can see he's been itching to do some flying of his own. Was there anything else?"
"Yes. I'm going to organise it with Admiral Morrow to make you the training instructor for piloting, and I'd like you to evaluate David for me. He co-piloted to the airport and I think he can handle the qualification. Once he's qualified as a co-pilot, we'll begin his piloting training."
"No problems, Sean. I'll go over his transcripts later tonight when we get back to base, and once you have everything organised, we'll look into getting his qualifications. Barnes out."
"Thanks Matt. See you at Dreamworld. Short out." With that Sean cut the connection.
"Everyone's strapped in, Sean." Cody called out from the cabin.
"Thanks Cody." Sean then turned on the cabin intercom. "Welcome aboard Clan Short Airlines, this is your captain Sean speaking. A special welcome to our new passenger, Zeke. Today we'll be taking a standard flight to Dreamworld, via the Sydney Harbour Bridge. For those of you not familiar with said bridge, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the main platform from which Australia 's main New Year's Eve fireworks display is launched. A reminder that all safety devices are to be used until we reach cruising altitude. If you'll look to the front, your flight attendant Cory will give you the pre-flight safety demonstration."
"Bite me, Sean." Cory called out from the cabin.
"Maybe later, babe." Sean giggled back, before turning to David. "Mr. Gallagher, please request takeoff clearance."
"Aye sir." David said with a mock salute, giggling as he keyed in the airport tower's frequency. "Sydney control, this is shuttlecraft Mississippi, requesting clearance to takeoff from pad 1."
"Shuttlecraft Mississippi, this is Sydney Airport. Confirm clearance to takeoff, pad 1. Engage thrusters and hold position. Please state pilot and co-pilot names and final destination."
"Sydney Control this is Mississippi. Pilot is Ensign Sean Short, co-pilot is Clan Short Member David Gallagher. Final destination is Dreamworld, Queensland. Confirm engage thrusters and hold. Awaiting final orders."
Sean engaged the thrusters, and a moment later, the control tower came back onto the comms system. "Shuttlecraft Mississippi, this is Sydney Control. You are cleared for departure, heading 005. Transfer to Brisbane Control upon reaching Coffs Harbour. Have a safe trip. Control out."
"Sydney Control, this is Mississippi. You have us cleared for departure, heading 005. Transfer to Brisbane Control at Coffs Harbour. Thank you, Control. Mississippi out."
"Way to go David. I got that. Everyone hang on, cause Dreamworld, here we come!" With that, Sean engaged the impulse engines and the shuttle rocketed away from the airport. A few minutes later, Sean guided the shuttle over the Harbour Bridge. "Here's your chance to see the bridge guys."
Immediately, all the boys from Orlando crammed into the cockpit to catch a glimpse of the bridge. After their curiosity had been satisfied, they all returned to the cabin. Cody, Sky and Jason were giggling at the antics of their overseas visitors. Zeke just sat quietly, until Jason started talking quietly to him. "Hey dude, what's up?"
Zeke looked up at Jason with tears in his eyes. "I feel so lost. I feel like I'm in some sort of nightmare. The family I vowed to protect is all gone. I failed in my promise to my father. I now, I'm watching all of you run around acting like kids, and yet, just 15 minutes ago, you were all so serious. I feel as though I have nothing left."
"That's not true. You have a new family. Our family. I know it won't be the same, but we all love you all the same. If you need to talk to someone, then come see me. The first time I saw you, I felt this overwhelming need to protect you, even though I didn't even know you. Everyone else here is the same. It doesn't matter how you came to join us, you're here and we're never gonna let you get hurt again." Jason said softly, before planting a gentle kiss on Zeke's forehead.
"Did you know I was programmed to be gay?" Zeke asked suddenly, surprising both himself and Jason.
"No, and it doesn't matter to me. I'm gay, and so are all the boys in this shuttle, except maybe Kane. And I can tell you now that the vast majority of the boys in the second shuttle are gay as well."
"I was programmed to be gay so I could be a companion and maybe a lover to my first father's son. He was bisexual, but when he married, he and his new wife had me be the carer of their children. They also didn't care when one of their sons experimented with me. I miss my old family so much!" At that, Zeke broke down into tears once again. After they had subsided again, he looked up at Jason. "Why are you being so nice to me? I couldn't even protect my old family and I don't think I can protect my new one."
"Shh... it's not your duty to protect this family. That's our duty to you. This is a new life for you. We don't intend to replace your old family, just add onto it. Also, I wanna protect you all by myself. I just feel this strange attraction to you, and I can't explain it. I know you won't be able to age physically, but mentally, you're a lot older than me, but you're still a boy. I don't even know if I'm making sense here." Jason rambled.
"It somehow makes sense to me, and thank you for saying it, but we can't be boyfriends. As you said, I'll never be able to grow up, and who wants a boyfriend that'll never get older." Zeke said sadly.
"That's not true. You do grow up, just in the mind. Remember, you're already older than me. Besides, I don't care that you won't grow up. That just means I get to look after you for a long time." Jason said, lifting Zeke's face.
"Really? You wouldn't just forget about me just cause I won't grow?"
"Never." And with that, Jason slowly leaned in and placed a soft kiss on Zeke's lips. When he pulled back again, Zeke's face had relaxed.
"I love you Jason. I don't know how it's happened so quickly, but I really love you." Zeke said softly.
"I love you too, my little Zeke. You'll never be alone again." Jason replied with a smile.
"Hey guys, what's happening?" Sky asked when he noticed how quiet the two were being."
Jason turned to Sky. "Zeke and I are now boyfriends. That is, if Zeke's okay with it."
Zeke had a huge smile on his face as he replied. "It's more than okay with me. You all have made me feel so welcome. I don't know how I'll ever be able to repay you."
"There's no need for that, Zeke. You're my older young brother, I'm happy to see you so happy. You too, Jason. It's nice to see you happy after what you were like two days ago when we went shopping. Hey! Does that mean we get to go shopping for Jason and Zeke now?!" Sky suddenly asked, causing giggles from the boys and chuckles from the adults in the shuttle.
"Linda, dear. I think we have a shopaholic in our care now. I blame this on you." Harry chuckled.
"Don't you dare. You're the one who agreed to take in Sky." Linda laughed, then looked at Sky. "I think it might be a good idea to go shopping. I think Zeke and Jason can have the third bedroom in the apartment. How's that sound, guys?"
"You mean we won't be living with you?" Zeke asked, a little worried.
"You will be, Zeke. However, when we took Sky in, we had a guest apartment on our house finished off. There are three bedrooms, and that's where you boys will be living. You'll still be able to get into the house, but because the apartment is pretty much self-contained, you won't always need to come down to the house when you're hungry. Speaking of which, Kane honey, did Daddy have you pick a room?" Linda asked the small boy.
"Yep. I gots the second big one, and Sky and Cody got the main one, Daddy said. That means that Jason and Zek gets the room nexta me!" Kane said happily.
"That's Zeke, not Zek, honey." Linda chuckled.
"Sorry, Zeke." Kane said, a little embarrassed.
"That's fine, Kane. It's a hard name for little boys to say. How are you liking your birthday?" Zeke asked with a smile for his new little brother.
"It's cool! I gots a commun'cator, a r'coon, and a new big room! And I even gots a new big br'ther!" Kane said happily, before jumping into Zeke's lap and wrapping his arms around his chest.
"I'm happy to hear that, little brother. And I'm also happy to have you as a little brother." Zeke said, returning the hug.
"Wuv you, Zeke." Kane purred.
"Love you too, Kane." Zeke replied, kissing the top of the young boys head.
"Guys, strap yourselves in. We're nearly at Dreamworld." David called back from the cockpit.
A few minutes later, Cody called out, "We're all strapped in, David."
"Thanks Cody." David replied, before dialling Dreamworld's office number in the comms system. "Dreamworld, this is shuttlecraft Mississippi, requesting clearance to land."
"Shuttlecraft, this is Dreamworld. There are two spaces marked out in the carpark for you to land. You free to land in the red marked zone. Zone is clear."
"Dreamworld, this is Mississippi. Confirmed clearance to land red zone. Thank you. Mississippi out."
"That's cool of them to mark out a couple zones. I guess they don't have shuttle facilities." Sean said as he brought the shuttle about to face the carpark.
"Aaron must have told them we were coming in by shuttle. It would only be logical to give a commendation to the park for their forward thinking." David said with a grin.
Sean looked at David. "Remind me why you're not in Starfleet. You sounded just like Spock then, it's scary." He giggled.
"You know I'm leaving Starfleet to you and Cory." David giggled.
Sean slowly brought the shuttle down for an easy touchdown, before opening the hatch and beginning the shutdown procedure. "Let's go have some fun, Aussie-style." He said.
Everyone on the shuttle made their way onto the concrete just as the Newton began it's final touchdown. They waited as the occupants of the shuttle joined them on the concrete, before the entire group made their way to the main entrance of the park.
Aaron approached the ticket window first and spoke to the young woman behind the window. "Hi, my name's Aaron Carter, and I'd like to see the manager while you sort this group behind me out, if possible."
"Of course, sir. I'll just call him for you." The woman replied.
"Thank you." A few moments later, a middle-aged man approached the group.
"I was told a Mr. Carter wished to speak with me." He said as he took in the size of the group before him in awe.
"Ah, Mr. Lane, I presume?" Aaron said as he approached the man and extended his hand.
"That's correct. Is this Clan Short?" Mr Lane asked.
"Yes, this is Clan Short." Aaron replied, before pulling Cory up to him. "And may I introduce Cory Short, Patriarch of Clan Short of the Family of Sarek of the House of Suvak of the Planet Vulcan."
"It's a great honour to meet you, Patriarch Short." Mr. Lane said with a bow.
Cory chuckled. "No need to bow, Mr. Lane. And please, call me Cory. I don't like using my title unless necessary. I'd like to thank you for your hard work in helping us today. No doubt this will be a very special day for both the birthday boy and all other kids."
"I don't doubt that, Cory. Mr. Carter, we haven't advertised your coming here today. I thought perhaps you would like to use the P.A. system to announce your free concert to all the guests?" Mr. Lane said.
"That sounds like a plan. Where would we be able to hold this concert? And please, no need to be formal around me. I'm still just a kid after all."
"Very well. Our crew are right this minute putting the final touches to the sound and lighting systems at the Big Brother ampitheatre, and I called the producers, and they have contacted the host of Big Brother to host the concert. Without pay, no less. Mrs. Killeen is a big sponser of children's charities after all, and she jumped at the opportunity. After the concert, Mrs. Killeen will take you and all those who attend your concert on a special guided tour of the Big Brother house, and I've been told a few of the last housemates will be there to sign autographs and spend time with the guests." Mr. Lane said.
"Wow, you have been busy. I thank you personally for the effort you are putting into the day, and you can be assured that yourself and all your staff will be publically commended for your work with helping these children." Aaron said.
"Well, it looks as though your group has finished being admitted. I'll leave you to it." At that, Mr. Lane began walking away, before turning around again. "Oh by the way, what time would you like to hold the concert?"
"I think we'll make it at 12pm. That way the guests can have some lunch to the sound of pop." Aaron said.
"A great idea, just have one of my staff show you where the P.A. system is, and feel free to make the announcement. Have fun and enjoy the day, Aaron."
"Thank you, Mr. Lane." Aaron said.
Aaron and Cory approached the ticket window, where the attendant handed a microphone to Aaron, who then made his announcement. "Hey gang, this is Aaron Carter comin' at ya from Dreamworld. Come to the Big Brother amphitheatre at 12 for a free lunch-time concert hosted by Gretel Killeen, and performed by yours truly and my brothers. After the concert, join me, my brothers and Gretel on a free guided tour of the Australian Big Brother house. Hope to see ya there."
As he and Cory finished going over the payment details that
had been organised, John led the rest of the boys into the locker area of the
park. "Okay guys, I want you to put all your loose valuables into one of
these lockers. Take about 10 dollars with you, all the guys from the
At that moment, Cory and Aaron joined the group. Cory whistled to gain everyone's attention. "Guys, I want you to form groups. Stick together in these groups, so we have less hassles tracking everyone down. Leave your communicators in the lockers, then see Brady to be issued with a cheaper version for today. The oldest boy in the group will be responsible for the communicator and the safety of the younger boys in the group. Any questions?"
"Yeah, when can we get on a ride?" JJ quipped.
"When we're finished here." Cory said with a slight glare at JJ. "We hope to get through today without losing anyone or any injuries."
Soon, the boys had split up into 6 groups, with an adult escort to ensure no accidents or problems occured. The leader of each group approached Brady to be given a communicator and earpiece for hands-free operation.
Once everyone was set, Cory announced to the group, "Okay guys. Just remember there are a lot of sick kids around here and some who may be untrusting of strangers. It is all of our jobs to ensure the reputation of Clan Short is upheld. If there is a kid wanting to use a ride you want to use, either let them go first or have them join your group. Now let's all go have some fun. I want everyone to meet at the entrance to the Big Brother Amphitheatre at 11:30. Make sure you stop at a stand and pick up a map if you need one."
Instantly, all the groups dispersed and made their own way through the park. Sky and Cody were in the same group, along with Cory, Sean, Danny, Jason, Zeke, Kane, Timmy and Ricky. Harry was escorting them as their adult. Harry asked the boys, "So guys, what ride do you wanna go on first?"
None of the boys had ever been to Dreamworld before, so they didn't know what rides there were. When they told Harry this, he looked thoughtful for a moment. "Okay guys, let's go get ourselves a map." They all made their way over to one of the information stalls set up for the day and picked up a map.
As they looked over the maps and the rides available, Danny broke in. "Hey, the Tower of Terror sounds cool, let's go there."
The local boys and Harry all knew what the Tower of Terror was, but said nothing, exchanging evil grins, before Harry spoke up. "Okay, let's go to the Tower of Terror. Kane, Timmy and Ricky. That ride might not be suitable for you, but how's this sound? If the older boys go on any rides that you can't go on, we'll go to the Nickelodeon area of the park and you three will get to ride any of the rides there on your own, the same number of rides that you can't go on in the main area of the park."
"Okay, Daddy." "Okay Mr. Thomas" the boys chorused.
Harry chuckled as he said, "Timmy, Ricky, please call me Uncle Harry. Since Sky is Cory's cousin, that makes you family, and there's no need to be formal with family."
"Okay Unca Harry." Timmy and Ricky smiled.
The group then made their way over to the Tower of Terror. When they got there, they found a fairly short line, many of the people in charge of the other children in the park claiming the ride was too much for the children to handle. Harry looked at the rules of the ride before saying, "Sorry, little ones. This rides is for children 10 years and older. So that makes one rides at the Nickelodeon area."
As Harry was speaking to the young boys, Sean was looking at one of the cars of the ride. His excitement was short-lived, however, when the car was launched, racing up the almost vertical track of the ride. "Uh guys? Suddenly I'm not so sure this is a cool ride. Where's the sides and roof of the car?"
The other boys all looked at Sean, and burst out laughing. Sky managed to catch his breath first. "Sean, bro, there's nothing to worry 'bout. The ride only lasts about 10 seconds. We're all gonna be going with you. There's nothing to worry 'bout." he repeated.
After they had calmed down, it was their turn to strap into the cars. Sean was shaking in his seat throughout the process of being strapped down and secured. Cory noticed this from his seat next to Sean. "Sean, bro. Chill. Nothin' bad's gonna happen. It's just 10 seconds of adrenaline rush. It's just like the speed of the shuttle. "
"In no way is this exactly like a shuttle! For one, a shuttle has sides and a roof, to prevent falling off. I feel as though I'm gonna topple over the edge of my seat, and that drop looks pretty bad! Also, I don't see any brakes to be able to stop the ride. How do we know we're not gonna over shoot the damn track! Besides..."
During Sean's rant, he failed to notice that the operator had finished the explanation of the rules and had counted-down from 5. At one, the car was propelled to a speed of 100km/h that had Sean's rant cut off by his own scream of terror, and Cory screaming next to him in unbridled joy.
A minute later, the ride had been cleared of all its wobbly-legged occupants and the boys made their way to Harry, who had pulled out his camcorder to record the effects of the ride on the boys, and who was now chuckling.
"Never again..." Sean grumbled. "If I ever get my stomach out of my throat... That was nearly as bad as Cory's driving... Seriously dude... "
"DUDE!! That was SWEEET!!" Cory shouted. "What's next?" he asked as he punched Sean in the arm for his comment.
"What say we go see the animals?" Harry asked, chuckled at their antics.
"Sounds good to me." The boys all chorused, Sean's coming out more as a groan than an agreement.
The group all made their way down the exit ramp of the Tower, waving at JJ and Adam's group, who were heading towards the entrance to the ride, John escorting them. The group made their way to the animal habitats, where they got to witness the tigers being fed their lunch (Sean almost losing his contents at the sight). Soon, the boys became hungry, and Harry took them to a cafe, where they all ordered hot dogs.
Soon, the boys' appetites were appeased, and they made their way to the Wipeout. As the boys lined up to get on the ride, Harry walked up to the operator and whispered in his ear.
The boys met a boy and a girl in the line who were a couple. The two 13 year-olds said they were from different children's homes, and only saw each other when their homes attended the same events, which wasn't often.
Sky asked them, "Why are you in children's homes?"
The boy, named Liam, replied, "My parents died a couple of years ago in an explosion at their work, and I was sent to the Home, but because of how old I am, no-one wants to adopt me, especially since the Home tells everyone that I'm trouble."
The girl, Zoe, answered, "My mum died giving birth to me, and my dad couldn't cope, so I was sent to live with my grandparents. We didn't have very much money, cause Grandpa couldn't work after he did his back in, and someone from school told DOCS and they took me away from them and put me in the Home. I haven't seen my grandparents in 5 years, and I really miss them." Zoe started crying, and Liam wrapped his arms around her in a tight embrace.
"Wow. My parents found out I was gay, and beat me up and abandoned me, but now I live with Cody, Kane and my new family. Jason and Zeke have just joined our family, and we're here with my cousin and his family." Sky said, then realised what he'd said, "Uh... I mean... um."
"It's okay. A lot of the boys in my Home are gay, and are at the Home because their parents kicked them out. Most of my friends from the Home are gay, so I don't have a problem with it." Liam said with a small smile.
"Cool. So what about you two? How long have you been a couple?" Sky asked.
"About a year now. We don't see each other very often, but I know that Liam's the one I wanna be with forever." Zoe said, before kissing Liam on the cheek, causing the boy to blush.
At that moment, one of the staff members looking after Zoe came over. "What's this? Why did you just kiss this boy? Answer me, Ms. Jones. And you, young man, can keep your hands to yourself. These children don't need to see such a disgusting display from you."
"Uh... sorry Mrs. Harrum. I didn't mean..." Zoe began, before Sky cut her off.
"Excuse me, Mrs. ... Harrum, was it? These two are together with us trying to enjoy a day at Dreamworld with each other. The LAST thing they need is someone berating them for showing how much they care for each other."
"Young man, how dare you talk to me in that manner? Didn't your parents teach you to show respect?"
"In future, call me Mr. Lampis, or better yet, Mr. Thomas. And I'll have you know that, while my birth parents weren't the best role models, I know to show respect... to those who deserve it." Sky said with a fire in his eyes.
"Why you little... where are your parents?" Mrs. Harrum all but yelled.
"Allow me to get my new father for you." Sky said, before turning to Harry and motioning him to join them. When Harry had joined them, Sky did the introductions. "Dad, meet Mrs. Harrum, a staff member of Zoe's Home. Mrs. Harrum, this is Harry Thomas, Director of Starfleet Australia 's IT Division, and my father."
"A pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Harrum." Harry said cordially.
"I wish I could say the same, however, your son shows no signs of respect for his elders, he just tried to verbally abuse me over the handling of these children, when I see no reason for him to be involved." Mrs. Harrum said haughtily.
"My apologies, Mrs. Harrum, but my son is the Head of the Australian Division of the most powerful children's protection group on the planet, or in the universe. He has a lot of input in this." Harry said.
"The child is too young to be involved in such matters. He has no concept of the importance of behaviour." Mrs. Harrum said incredulously.
"Be that as it may, right now, my son has the ability to have young Zoe removed from your care with a few simple calls." Harry said seriously.
"I'd like to see him try to do so." Mrs. Harrum replied.
"Very well. Sky, contact your mother and have her join us. I think it's time a couple of kids were given a good home. Also, call your aunt and have her join us." Harry said, handing Sky the communicator.
"Really?" Sky asked. At Harry's nod, he returned to his professional demeanor as he opened the communicator. "Skylan Lamp... Thomas to Director Thomas."
"Sky? What's wrong? Is someone hurt?" Linda's voice said over the link.
"No one's hurt, Mum, but we need you to join us at the Wipeout. Also, do you know where Aunt Teri is? We need her to join us." Sky replied, expressing his need for urgency.
"She's with me now, Sky, and we're on our way." Linda said.
"Thanks, Mum. Thomas out." Sky replied, before closing the communicator and turning to Harry. "Mum and Aunt Teri are on their way now."
"Thanks Sky." Harry then turned to Mrs. Harrum. "Mrs. Harrum, I can assure you that by the end of your conversation with my wife, young Zoe will no longer be in the custody of you or your organisation. Now would be the best time to reconsider your attitude, else you may end up facing alot more than just the loss of custody." he said seriously to the woman.
"What the hell do you mean? There's no way one person can just take children out of their homes." Mrs. Harrum said, furious at the turn of events.
"I will remind you again to reconsider your attitude, and ask that you mind your language. I am currently escorting 3 young boys that certainly don't need to hear THAT sort of language. Therefore, you should consider your words carefully, or the parenting side of me will come through, and I assure you, it won't be pleasant." Harry said firmly.
"Mrs. Harrum, my mother is Starfleet Oceania's Director of Youth Services. She has at her disposal the Safe Haven Act; a series of laws, passed by the Federation Council in 2002, aimed at the prevention of abuse of any kind against children within the Federation. Simply by invoking the Act, my mother can removed Zoe from your custody, and can at worst, force the closure of the Home at which Zoe resides, thereby removing all children from your custody." Sky said professionally.
"I'd like to see her try and remove Zoe from the Home. She won't get far." Mrs. Harrum said haughtily.
At that moment, Linda, Teri and their groups approached Harry's group. "What's wrong?" Linda asked, as Teri watched with an apprehensive look.
"Mum, this is Mrs. Harrum, one of the staff from the Home that Zoe here is in. Mrs. Harrum, meet my mother, Linda Thomas, Director of Starfleet Oceania's Youth Service Bureau. Next to her is my Aunt Teri, Director of Youth Services. Mrs. Harrum has, in the course of the past 10 minutes, insulted myself, as well as made numerous threats to the various people here, including Zoe. On top of that, despite numerous warnings from Dad, she has continued to use language unsuitable for the group's youngest members to hear." Sky said seriously.
"It's inappropriate for children of that age to be behaving that way in public." Mrs Harrum said.
"I hardly think that simple small kisses and holding of hands is inappropriate, Mrs. Harrum." Sky said forcefully. "All they were doing was showing each other how much they care for each other. If they were 'making out', it would be another thing entirely, but what they were doing is not a major issue."
"And what would you know?" Mrs. Harrum asked.
"Mrs. Harrum, I must caution you to step lightly." Linda said. "I'm sure you have been informed of what I am able to do, but Sky here is even more powerful than me. You are now talking to the three most powerful boys on Earth. Any one of them can, and would, create a lot of problems for you and your Home."
"Yeah sure. What's a group of punk teenagers gonna do?" Mrs. Harrum asked with a smirk.
Cory's face went totally emotionless. "Mrs. Harrum, you are making illogical assumptions using incomplete data. It would be logical for you to reevaluate your statements once you have all pertinent data. To my immediate left Is Daniel Page, Director of Operations and Divisional Head of Clan Short of Vulcan Artificial Intellegence Division. To my immediate right is Skylan Thomas, Director of Operations and Divisional Head of Clan Short of Vulcan Oceanic Division. I am Cory Short, Patriarch of Clan Short of the Family of Sarek of the House of Surak of the Planet Vulcan. Directors Short and Thomas are limited in their powers by Federation regulations; I suffer no such limitation as my authority is given by Ambassador Sarek." Cory paused and turned his head towards the youngest boys. "Timothy; contact Kyle and inform him to standby for remote scan using yourself as a relay. Inform him to refrain from scanning until ordered to perform same by Skylan."
"Yes Sir. He is standing by." Timmy replied seriously.
Cory turned back to the adults. "Director Short, Director Thomas; at this time Clan Short Oceanic Division is assuming jurisdiction. Mrs. Harrum; if you fail to satisfactorily respond to the inquiries of Skylan he is authorized to take whatever measures he deems necessary to protect Liam and Zoe. Rest assured that we are totally serious; The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation has two agents on a Federation prison planet for failing to accept our jurisdiction."
Sky then felt a slight tingle in is head, like what happened with Kane. 'Sky, it's Kyle. Can you hear me?' Sky heard in his head.
'Kyle? Where are you? Why can I hear you in my head?' Sky thought back.
'Hehe, I'm a telepath, dude. DUH! I'll be keeping an 'eye' on Mrs. Harrum during the questioning. If at any time, I find she's lying or tellng you just what you wanna hear, I'll let you know through this link.' Kyle said in Sky's mind.
'Cool. Sounds like a plan. Get ready then, lil' bro, cause it's about to go down.' Sky thought to Kyle, before turning to Mrs. Harrum. "Mrs. Harrum, are you fully aware that this questioning will be used to determine the outcome of the matter centering on the custody of Zoe Vander, and the treatment of said person and Liam Paige?"
"I highly doubt this will have any bearing in a legal court." Mrs. Harrum answered. 'She understands, Sky. You have her worried.'
"Mrs. Harrum. I must remind you that a Vulcan-trained telepath is right now reading your every immediate thought, as well as anything pertaining to this situation. I don't think I need to remind you that a Vulcan Mind-Meld's findings hold more bearing in any court on Earth than a signed testimony." Sky said seriously.
"I don't appreciate having my mind invaded by what is no doubt another snot-nosed little punk." Mrs. Harrum said with venom. 'I take offense to that! I mean... she understands, Sky.'
"Mrs. Harrum, I believe I already see your opinion when it comes to children, therefore I find that in future, you will be ineligible to work at any workplace involving children within the Federation of United Planets. Patriarch Short, would you please inform the Clan Archivist to put this restriction in place?" Sky said without emotion.
"Of course, Skylan." Cory replied, before turning to Aaron. "Aaron, could you please contact Justin and have him put the order in effect?"
"Yes, Patriarch Short." Was Aaron's reply, before he left the group, taking Teri's offered communicator with him.
'She's worried, Sky. Time to question her about abuse. I can force my way into her mind, but it's better to have the thoughts at the forefront of her mind when she answers the questions.' Kyle said in Sky's head.
'Thanks, Kyle. I wasn't sure what to do next.' Sky thought.
'I know. I'm in your head, remember? Hehehe.'
'Yup. Now get on with it. Cory's gonna wonder what you're doing.'
"Mrs. Harrum, have you or would you ever, physically 'discipline' a child?" Sky asked.
"No. I have never, and would never hit a child." Mrs. Harrum answered. 'She lied, Sky. She once slapped a girl for going to the bathroom after lights out. She's never hit another child again, because someone saw the handprint she left on the girl's arm.'
"The telepath reading you tells me that, although you lied, you've only ever physically disciplined a child once. Whether you stopped out of fear for the child's wellbeing, or your own job security is irrelevant, as you did stop. Have you ever verbally abused a child, Mrs. Harrum?" Sky asked.
"Only when disciplining them. And it's never too bad." Mrs. Harrum said, her anger visibly leaving her face.
"Mrs. Harrum, ANY verbal abuse is damaging. It destroys a child's self-esteem, and if it continues, it gets to the stage that they lose their self-confidence and self-respect. This makes verbal abuse just as damaging as if you were to lay a hand on a child." Sky said. "That said, there is no evidence to suggest that criminal charges need be brought against you."
"Mrs. Harrum, Skylan has found that you have nothing to answer for except your views on children. That being dealt with, you are free to go in peace. However, should this Clan ever hear of your working for a company dealing with children, or that you in any way abuse another child, you WILL face the full power of the Clan!" Cory said.
"Of course. I will go now. But I will be appealing this decision. After all, you have just ruined any job opportunities I may have had for the future." Mrs. Harrum said, some anger returning to her voice.
"Feel fee to appeal to the highest court you can find on Earth, Mrs. Harrum, but it will do you no good. And I hardly think that there's nothing else you are capable of doing for living." Cory said.
With that, Mrs. Harrum "humpf"ed and stormed away from the group. 'Way to go, Sky. You did great. See you at the concert.'
"Hey cuz, I'm proud of you. You did great." Cory said, as he pulled a still-shocked Sky into a hug, Cody and Kane joining in.
"I can't believe I actually did it. It was like something came over me and all I saw was the logic in the situation. She's right though. Someone her age will have alot of trouble finding a new job with that comment on her permanent record." Sky said.
"Not if the Clan helps. We aren't only in the business of helping kids. We help all involved in these situations. She'll probably find an email in her inbox in the next week with an offer for employment." Cory said, giggling.
"Guys, let's go. We gotta concert to throw!" Aaron said, gaining everyone's attention.
"AWWW MANNNNN! We didn't get to ride the Wipeout!" Cory moaned.
"Cory! March! Let's go!" Aaron said, fighting back a bout of giggles.
"Zoe, Liam. You guys are with us for the rest of the day. Come on. You may even get to sing on stage." Sky said with a giggle.
As the group headed towards the Amphitheatre, Liam mumbled just loud enough for Linda, Teri and Harry to hear. "Nobody said anything about singing. I hate singing." This caused the three adults to start chuckling.
When the group had reached the Amphitheatre, Liam moaned when he saw the size of the gathered audience. It seemed that all the occupants of the park were there to see the Clan (or more specifically, Aaron) perform. When they moved to the backstage area, Mr. Lane approached the group, along with a middle-aged woman that the Aussie members of the group instantly recognised as Gretel Killeen. They could see that the rest of the Clan was getting ready for the show behind Mr. Lane and Gretel.
"Ah, Mr. Carter. The final preparations are now going in place. The stage will be ready in about 10 minutes. Just give your set list to the stage manager behind the mixing table and it'll be ready for you. Also, allow me to introduce you to Mrs. Gretel Killeen. Gretel, this is Clan Short of Vulcan, and this young man is their Patriarch, Cory Short." Mr. Lane said.
"It's a great honour to meet you, Patriarch Short. I have to say, this is one of the biggest events I've seen organised for Children's hospitals in Australia . If it is agreeable with you, I've organised for the performance to be recorded as put on a CD. The audience members' receive a free CD, and the rest will be sold with the proceeds going to the Starlight Foundation and the Make-A-Wish Foundation." Gretel said formally.
"No need for formalities, Mrs. Killeen. I'm just Cory right now. And I think you're idea for the CD is a great one. We did the same thing in my old town in Iowa. I think there may even be a few surprises in store from my Patriarch, if he catches wind of this performance. It has been known to happen." Cory said with a giggle.
"Well, I think it's time to get ready, let's not keep the masses waiting shall we? I just hope I can cope with the pressure." Gretel said with a chuckle. "An eviction crowd is one thing, but this is a group twice the size of that, and mostly all children!"
At that, the entire group giggled and chuckled. They all then split up and went about getting ready for the concert.
Wow, what a chapter. Didn't seem to wanna end. I know some of you (not naming names) won't be happy that I ended before the concert, but it was the best place to end so I could get what I had out to you to co-incide with the "Memories" and "Sentenced To Life" series.
Next chapter, the CONCERT and what happens with Zoe and Liam?
Big thanks to all those who, through their whining about the delay in chapters, have shown me that they truly enjoy this series. Also, *HUGZ* to Lukas-Aske and Taylor-Ashke for being the best little brothers a uy could ask for. And *HUGZ* to TSL, ACFan and JeffsFort for their contributions to this chapter (and for keeping me 'on-track', a *pinch* :P )