Note from AC:
We are going to spend a chapter catching up with Tracy and Karl while Orlando prepares for a very unique birthday party. Hang on, I think Cory's giving lessons!
Peter, Eli, Benji, and Leg vanished, only to reappear seconds later with Galen, Sammy, Sebastian, Ezzy, and three new boys. All of the boys had leis around their necks, and grins on their faces.
"Sorry it took so long," Peter explained, "we stopped off at a party we went to earlier to relax before the final move. This is John and Stephen, they're from Pacific Rim Division, and Robin from Des Moines Division."
"Hi!" Robin giggled. "I just met Kyle and Tyler before Pacific Rim and Des Moines were officially Divisions! Time loops are FUN!"
"At least I got to actually see the luau concert this time," John giggled. "Last time, I was backstage with Joel, Kyle and Tyler."
Stephen grinned, "The cutest part was Kyle realizing he had just left you, and then he saw you again, far away from the stage."
"I'll leave the cabinet unlocked, Gary." Barnaby quipped.
"That won't be needed; I've realized they are just being normal boys." Gary chuckled. "They're being a lot more responsible than you'd expect, but they're still all boy."
John and Stephan exchanged amazed looks. "We need to send a few dozen parents over to talk to you!" John stated with a smile. "We do this stuff around them and their eyes cross while their faces starts twitching!"
"You need to try harder," Doug interjected. "You're not really effective until you make them drool out of the corners of their mouths."
Robin giggled. "A challenge! Uncle Mick is sooooo gonna get it!"
Fortunately for everyones sanity, a Techbot walked in and approached Peter. "Sir, the house is now on internal power. All external utilities are disconnected."
"Thank you, Number Seven." Peter replied. "Once the house is relocated, please ensure needed utilities are provided, then coordinate with Eli for structural changes that have been discussed."
"Acknowledged," Number Seven replied before turning around and heading back to the main utility room.
Noticing Glenn's curious look that appeared at the mention of 'internal power', Benji stated "I'll explain after we land. Fortunately, none of your neighbors can see the house here. We've already warned your new neighbors, so they're expecting us. You might feel a little weird, since Ezzy is going to shift us slightly out-of-phase with the real world while we move. After what just happened, a house flying through the air at just under the speed of sound wouldn't be good. This way, nobody will be able to see us, but you will be able to watch the scenery as we go by if you want to."
"Another thing," Tracy added, "Kyle just told me that normally it would be a good thing to tell our companions where we are moving to. Since a lot of you have never seen Alligator Alley, he has a suggestion. Glenn, since you bonded with the herd second-in-command, Kyle thinks he can help you pass the word. The catch is, he'd have you join you in your head, kinda like he did with me. He won't do it without your permission, though. If you say yes, you can discuss with him if it's temporary or permanent."
"What's it like?" Glenn asked.
"Really kewl!" Tracy replied with a grin. "Kyle is literally the very first person Cory rescued. I'm learning stuff I never knew while we sit in my head and play computer games. It's like having a friend over without the parents making him go home."
"If you say yes, you'll only see Dad and Pop." Ezra added. "A couple of us have set up stuff like that, with one or two close friends, but we all agreed that anyone Dad and Pop claim is off-limits to the rest of us."
"What the heck," Glenn sniggered. "It's worth a try; I'm feeling kinda lonely with only one me in my head, I can't argue with myself."
"This should be fun!" Cody giggled as he adjusted his arms around Adrian. "Kyle's gonna freak when he finds out what Glenn, Liam, and Jerry went through."
Glenn's eyes got wide for a second, then a peaceful smile crossed his face. A few seconds later, a mist drifted in directly in front of him, with his Alanakon friend appearing shortly after. With Kyle's guidance, Glenn communicated using simple mental pictures to tell his stallion what was about to happen and where the herd should go to rejoin their new friends. After a minute of Glenn's effort, the stallion pulled back enough to nuzzle Glenn's neck, acknowledging that he understood. He then spun and trotted away, vanishing as he reached the doorway.
Thoughtfully scowling, Stephen softly asked John, "If we brought only one or two home, how much extra Valium do you think our parents might need?"
"It really depends," John grinned. "Aunt Lanna prob'ly won't need any." He paused to tell the gathered group, "She's already got twin six-year-old telepaths to keep her in check, and it's lookin' like she might have eleven-year-old twin telepaths by the end of the week. Then there's Aunt Anna and Uncle Carl, with seven-year-old quadruplet telepaths; and let's not forget the Taylors, with twelve-year-old quads." He shrugged, "Would Alanakons like the climate in the ROH, and do they like islands and ocean?"
"Kyle says climate doesn't affect them," Glenn replied. "If you're interested, he'll ask Pe'asgasu to bring the herd around to meet you. They choose those they believe are pure in heart; Kyle thinks you'll qualify easily."
"Kewl!" John and Stephen cheered.
John suggested, "Let's work it so they meet us back when we return from this little escapade." He grinned, "If this is done the right way, maybe we can reduce our moms' Valium intake to every other night or less."
Stephen giggled, "We can only hope!"
"Kyle just told Cory and Joel!" Tracy giggled. "Cory says they've already been there, you just haven't seen them yet."
Stephen only appeared confused. Pulling him close, John sniggered, "That's why I asked, so this could work."
Doug shook his head. "Boys, pass the word around your Divisions; I'm starting a support group for parents of multiple telepaths and any adult who has been scrambled by a certain group of time-twisting munchkins."
"We'll build a place on Maui," John giggled. "When parents aren't using it, the teen Core Rimmers would enjoy it."
Always thinking ahead (or behind, depending on the perspective), Peter muttered, "About ten thousand square feet, not including the basement."
"Ohhh!" Robin giggled. "I can think of at least forty off the top of my head who'll join!"
"Kyle says he's coming to the Director's meeting on Maui too." Tracy and Glenn said in unison.
Grinning, Tracy added "His kids confuse him just as much as they confuse us!"
"Speaking of confusing, Tracy," Glenn giggled, "Why did Kyle just invite me to go hang-gliding in your memory? He's giggling too hard to explain it!"
"I'll tell you as soon as I get done tickling him... in about a month!" Tracy replied with an evil grin.
"If he pees in my head, you're gonna get it!" Glenn laughed. "We ready to hit the beach? I've never been to the ocean."
"There's gotta be something in the Safe Haven Act that classifies that as abuse!" Tracy giggled. "Jerry, get on that, and make sure Krane knows that I'm adding it to his charges as soon as you find it!"
"You are just evil, Trace," Jerry giggled. "Wait until Dad tells your dad what you're doing."
"He'll agree!" Tracy giggled.
"You've got a point goofball, you better comb your hair so it ain't visible." Jerry prodded.
"Speaking of that, what's trying to eat my hair?" Steven yelled suddenly as he waved his hand beside his left ear as if fanning a fly away.
"Did it get caught in the ferris wheel again?" Eli giggled.
"Told you the flea circus was a bad idea!" Benji added.
"Next time, get a roller coaster." Robin quipped.
John wasn't giggling, but rather looking around his beloved's head. "There's nothing... what just licked my fingers?" he murmured as he glanced down quickly at his hand.
"Nobody Clan," Galen laughed, "We all know where they've been!"
Steven blushed as John glowered at Galen. "Something licked my fingers... and now is breathing in my ear! Who's there?" he asked, turning around and looking at empty space.
"Sorry," a voice giggled. "I'm just checking you out, John. We can't get to Hawaii yet, due to that irritating little lover of the Doctor."
John tapped his foot. "Well? I'm waiting. If me and Steven are being checked out then you get to be too... who are you?"
"Ki'Lathau," replied Ki'Lathau as he made himself visible and solid beside the two boys. His yellow cat-like eyes were level with John's due to the long neck of his, and his body, as small as he got it, was curled on the floor. "I'm a Vol'Kier Voth. I know you're from 'not now', so by the time you get back to 'when-ever' I might be able to come visit with my broodmates. Do you like horses?"
"I ah.... pardon?" John giggled as he ran his hands over the Vol'Kier's face.
"You'll find out. They can get to Hawaii, but we can't yet. That feels good... rub the scales under my eyes... ahhhh.... nice scratch!"
"Kyle just informed Prez that he is in no way responsible for things that already happened that Prez hasn't experienced yet!" Tracy giggled. "It worked; I'm caught up with his score again! Keep it up, John; I might actually beat him this round."
"I'm not doing anything to change the score, I just think this dragon is kewl!" John giggled.
"Thank you... oh, someone wants a word with you... and I'm in trouble... they found out I escaped!" Ki'Lathau moaned as a twelve year old Vulcan appeared next to him.
"You know you're not meant to leave the nest until you're four years old, Lathau. What were you thinking? Your broodmother is going to polish your hide for you!" Sa'ren giggled as he snuggled in quickly between Steven and John.
"Sneaky vulkeen dragon," John giggled. "If you don't tell my mom I'm here, back four days earlier, then I won't tell your mum?"
Lathau giggled but said, "It's my broodmother, not my mother. The one in charge of.... umm... oh! School! I skipped out, as you hoo-mees do!"
"Have you been sharing your methods, Master Glenn?" Barnaby asked with a completely straight face.
The rest of the group were on the floor, holding their sides and trying not to pee.
Only slightly giggling, Sa'ren squeezed Steven and John tightly. "I need to talk to you. I know you're both here from a few days into the future - so tell me nothing, please, or things could get strange - but I need to ask something of you. Mainly you, John, but you need to agree too, Steven."
John simply whistled for the nearest Mikyvis taxi service.
Giggling harder, Sa'ren winked. "I don't need their help to go places anymore... remember that I'm... wait, do you know I'm Kal'Ras, yet? Prez might not have told you..."
Sighing, John smirked, "Prez has pissed off chicken feathers in his head, along with Kyle! Moving right along..."
"HE HEARD THAT!" Glenn and Tracy yelled.
"Oh dear... well, that big silver Dragon that appeared with the Golden Warrior in London on Friday? That was me. I'm the Seventh god of the Vol'Kier... anyhoo.... I need to take you two to meet my friend... the Guardian of Forever. You okay with that?" he finished quickly, rushing over the revelation quickly but not really hoping that John would miss it. He knew the boy too well to think he would.
Noticing Stephen was getting that worried, 'time-loop, within a knotted spaghetti time-loop' expression, John nodded and smiled, "We have a house to move, some time this millennia, so let's make this happen."
With a grateful smile, Sa'ren nodded. "We'll only be gone from here for a few minutes at most. Doesn't matter how long we'll be on Forever World - as the name suggests, Time is no issue for my friend. Be right back, guys!" he grinned at the rest as he, John and Stephen (and Lathau too!) melted out through liquid air.
Expecting confusion, Peter explained. "The Guardian is kinda a super-being. He's higher than us Mikyvis, but not as high as the Angels. He's the highest being without being angelic, and he's been around even longer than the Vol'Kier. If you hear a voice coming from nowhere, it's probably him. He likes giving surprise advice to the friends and families of his High Race 'kids' whenever he can."
Peter then squealed as he received a Guardian-style wedgie.
"Did we mention that he's also the universe's oldest little kid?" Galen giggled. "You need some help with those undies, cutie?"
"We'll be right back, we're going to borrow a bedroom!" Peter mumbled with a blush just before him and Galen vanished.
Greta smiled as she shook her head. "They're such little cuties. I think they'll make great parents someday."
A few minutes later, Peter and Galen reappeared, a grinning ten-year-old redhead holding their hands. His face and body were more freckles than anything, which was quite obvious since he was still wearing his birthday suit.
The boy looked around the room in wonder. "Daddy? Poppa? Who are all of these people?"
His eyes fell on Tracy. "Why you blushing?"
"Your Uncle Kyle just explained how you got here," Tracy stuttered. "Ummm... Happy Birthday?"
Peter giggled. "Sorry it took so long, we just found out that when you make a son it takes some work to get him ready to introduce to the public. Everyone, this is our son David Brian Lambert, he wants to be called 'DB'."
Greta and Janice quickly made their way to the trio. Janice got there first, and asked "Is this your first child?"
"Yes, Ma'am." Peter and Galen said in unison, causing DB to giggle.
"He's even cuter than his parents, which is quite an accomplishment." Greta commented, causing all three boys to blush from their heads to their toes.
"That's so sweet!" Janice smiled. "DB, I'm your Aunt Janice, and this is your Aunt Greta. Why don't you let your parents get ready for their big project they are working on? You can come with us and we'll give our little prince his first meal while his cousins and uncles introduce themselves to him one at a time."
"I don't see a prince? Where is he?" DB asked.
"You're the Prince." Greta stated. "Princes need food so they can explore their kingdom, and give Princely cuddles."
Suddenly the voice of George came over the nearest speaker. "Incoming message from Grandma Lizzy. 'It is my understanding that Prince Peter Lambert, Duke of Arkham, and his spouse Prince Galen have just added to the Royal linage. I shall arrive shortly to welcome the newest addition.' End Message."
There was an audible gasp from everyone who had joined the Clan in the last day when seconds later, Grandma Lizzy appeared.
"Yes, he's definitely a Mikyvis child." Grandma Lizzy stated as she spotted DB. "Very cute, and underdressed just like his cousins. Georgie was kind enough to assist with introductions on my end..."
"Grandma! PLEASE don't call me that in front of them!" George's voice pleaded over the speakers.
"The lack of a humanoid body does not exempt you from my grandmotherly prerogative, Georgie." Grandma Lizzy said with a smile. "As I know all of you, the youth here may address me as Grandma Lizzy. I will accept Mother or any of its derivatives from the adults present."
"But... but... but you're the Queen of England!" Jerry stuttered.
"You are an angel for how you've accepted Glenn, Jerry." Grandma replied. "Cody was kind enough to have Georgie notify me of what has occurred today. I approve of the choices made today, enough to decide to visit personally to welcome everyone into the family even before they are at their new home."
"I'm sorry, Your Highness," Glenn asked with a confused look, "but how did we earn the right to address you as 'grandma'?"
"You earned it the day you first snuck in to comfort Liam," Grandma replied. "Otherwise, as children of the Clan you are legally my grandchildren by an old treaty between myself and Vulcan."
"How...?" Glenn started to ask.
"The only person in this room with a higher security clearance on Clan matters than me is Tracy," Grandma replied. "Kyle's husband Tyler provided me an outline of your history from the secure Intel storage that George doesn't have access to; he was correct to believe it would be useful. I will settle that matter once I ensure my newest great-grandson is properly dressed."
Grandma Lizzy turned to where DB was happily munching on a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich while his two new Aunts whipped up something more substantial for the newborn Mikyvis. "Your parents outdid themselves with you, little one."
"Grandma Lizzy!" DB giggled, "You're gonna make my freckles glow!"
"Yes, I can tell who your parents are, DB," Grandma smiled. "While most of my grandchildren have but to ask to receive the title of 'Prince', some receive the honor by my decree. The Mikyvis branch of humanity is such a case." She held out her hand, and a circlet appeared. As she placed it on his head, she commented "Now you are properly attired, Prince DB Lambert."
"Daddy! Poppa! You hear that? I'm REALLY a Prince now!" DB exclaimed in glee. "Thanks, Grandma!" he added as he jumped off the chair and gave her a peanut-butter-and-jelly hug.
"Welcome to humanity, little one," Grandma replied as she returned the hug, unconcerned with the new patterns appearing on her clothes.
As DB broke the hug, he realized what he'd done. "Sorry Grandma, I'll fix..."
"You'll do no such thing," Grandma smiled. "I think I will put these clothes up as a memento of your birth. I believe your Aunts somehow decided to give you your Uncle Kyle's favorite special breakfast as a first meal. Blueberry waffles are usually saved for special occasions, and your birth qualifies."
"Kyle says blueberry syrup and whipped cream." Tracy added.
Giving Tracy a knowing smile, Grandma added "I believe you just received the seal of approval from Prince Kyle Richardson, KG, little one. While you enjoy your meal, I must attend to some pressing business."
"Okay, Grandma!" DB giggled as he hopped onto his chair and awaited the new treat.
Grandma Lizzy turned back to Glenn. "I am aware of many things in the histories of my grandchildren. Most would cause any reasonable person to cringe at the least. While what you have experienced pales in comparison to some others present, there are actions which you have taken that are unusual for the majority of the population of Earth."
"Taking care of my little brother is unusual?" Glenn asked in confusion.
"Continuing such contact in the situation you were in, despite receiving injuries which will require Clan specialists to regress the damage, is something most could not accomplish," Grandma Lizzy explained. "Maintaining the caring over a three year period is commendable in itself. Bringing your brother to safety the instant you found an opportunity, then guiding a brother that you just gained into emotional recovery is commendable. In addition, you have shown compassion towards your father even before realizing he was a victim himself." Pausing, she turned to Liam. "Liam, would you be a dear and bring me the pillow and box that George is going to put on the table?"
"Yes, Ma'am," Liam replied in shock. His eyes got even wider when Adrian and Cody walked over to join him, both now in uniforms and carrying swords.
The referenced items appeared on the table, and after some quick whispered instructions from Kirk, Liam carefully placed the pillow on the black box then started towards Grandma Lizzy with Adrian and Cody flanking him. Without a word being said, all of the room except for DB stood to honor the proceedings as Grandma Lizzy seemed to flicker and suddenly was in full regalia. DB tried to stand, but was waved back to his waffles by Grandma Lizzy, something that he wasn't about to argue with.
Liam reached the Queen, Adrian and Cody coming to attention next to him with swords crossing their chests.
The Queen then began. "When my father met the Vulcans for the first time, he learned of their culture. He approved of their family relationships, and so folded into our own Family and House many of the traditions of Vulcan - namely, in this case, A'nirih and M'aih and Ugan-Than-Sakai. Adopted Father, Mother and Brothers by Vow. I have acknowledged this Vow with Family Clan Short. Family Clan Short and all those claimed as brother and sister are my Grandchildren; all are members of my House, British by Joint Nationality, and Subjects within my Dominions."
"Kneel, Glenn." the Queen commanded as a velvet-covered stool appeared in front of her.
Affected by this more than anything else so far that day, Glenn followed her instructions and knelt in front of her. She took the gold circlet from the pillow, and gently placed it on Glenn's head. She then held out her hand, and a sword floated over from Eli and landed in it.
"We have recognized the compassion, valor, honor, and perseverance of Prince Glenn," The Queen stated as she laid the sword on Glenn's right shoulder, then moved it to his left shoulder. "We hereby declare that he shall be addressed forevermore as His Highness Sir Glenn Gaussman, Knight Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. We command Prince Glenn to affix the suffix KBE to his surname from this point forward. Arise, Prince Glenn, to receive your decoration."
Noticing his new brother's shaking, Jerry rushed over and helped him to his feet, standing close just in case he was needed once Glenn was standing.
The pillow floated away from Liam as the black leather box opened, revealing a pale yellow silk interior containing a light blue enameled cross with a crimson ring in its hub, with a rose-pink ribbon having pearl-grey edges attached. The Queen lifted the badge from it's resting place, and installed it hanging from Glenn's neck.
As she stepped back, the air between her and Glenn seemed to shimmer for a second. Suddenly, in full dress uniform, Jory Casey appeared. Adrian and Cody quickly shifted, their swords now extended in salutation.
"Attention!" Cody stated seriously. "All rise for the presentation by His Highness, Prince General Jory Casey KG GCB, Commanding General of the Terran Guard."
"Keep it up, Cody," Jory muttered. "Sooner or later I'll convince Cory to let me strap you to one of our trees."
"No you won't; you love me too much, brother!" Cody shot back with a grin.
"Anyway," Jory said with a smile, "Relax, Glenn. Grandma says there are times for this fancy crap, and there are times to just get things done. I'm only wearing this clown suit because I just finished doing a few field demotions and field promotions. Don't ever put yes-men in positions of authority, they're too busy practicing their ass-kissing to notice small things like planetary invasions."
Glenn relaxed, yet took Jory's words seriously. While there were a few awards that he didn't recognize hanging from the chest of the boy in front of him, the ones he did know told him Jory had seen hell that he'd only had nightmares about. "Thanks; I have a feeling we're gonna need that advice really soon."
Jory smiled, then glanced at Adrian and Cody. "Could you two put your butter knives away before you hurt someone?" he quipped. "You're making me nervous!"
"Yes, SIR!" both boys grinned as they sheathed their swords.
Jory's ploy worked, for Glenn was now trying very hard not to giggle. "Glenn, it has been a while since I've done this in public; most of the time we just do it in private with the person involved. When the Clan finds someone who is a survivor of mind-games that cause damage to their mind structure, the Unit steps forward to assist them in recovery, adopting them as honorary members. Your brothers qualify for that, and Killian is going to sit down with them later today to discuss it. Clan procedure is to have any medical scans of Clan rescues reviewed by senior Clan or Federation Youth Services Medical officers. Yours were reviewed by Uncle Bones, and after calling me in he taught me a few new cuss words. The obvious remnants of your injuries were reported at the trial; the more detailed review showed just how badly you suffered. DB has passed to me the detailed scan that you just allowed him to do, and he'll be standing by in Charleston when Marc takes over your medical care. Anything beyond Marc's ability to fix, for both you and Liam, DB is authorized to help with."
Jory paused, allowing the seriousness of the situation to sink in. He knew that the entire group was now fully aware of the Mikyvis ability to seemingly do miracles, and wanted it to stand out that at least one had just been ordered. Once he was satisfied that his point had been made, he continued. "Grandma Lizzy's already done the official stuff. You've shown that you have something that very few people have, even those of us that were bred for it. You have a devotion to honor and duty towards those placed under your care, even if the rest of the world doesn't know that said people are under your care. I have discussed your history with Xain, and he has authorized me to do what I'm about to do. You already carry the authority of the Clan Diplomatic Corps, I'd like for you to also hold another position. You have shown your strength, and I would like for you to join me as the head of the Terran Guard diplomatic team. If you accept, Xain will adjust your training accordingly, and he will give you full access to the Clan Diplomatic Corps, as you need them in performance of your duties."
Glenn did the best impression of a fish out of water that Jory had seen in some time, doing everything but flopping around on the floor.
"This is where you say 'Yes, Sir'," Jerry said as he lightly poked Glenn's side. "Either that, or live with endless ribbing from your little brothers for the rest of your life!"
Glenn turned his head, and smiled as he saw the mischievous grin on Jerry's face. "Now I know where Liam gets it from!" Glenn quipped with a small smile. "Nobody told me that being a big brother meant the little brothers could push me into doing what they thought was right!"
"That is family love, Glenn," Grandma Lizzy stated, still standing behind Jory. "Your brothers will drive you to being your best as you guide them to being their best."
"Either that, or they'll drive you sane!" Jory added with a grin.
"Please, anything but that!" Glenn smiled. "I like my long-sleeved hug-me jacket! They're on a roll today, everything they've pushed me to do has turned into something good. I'll accept, if for no other reason than I've got to live with myself, me, and them."
"You're gonna be glad you did." Jory stated as he fished around in one of his pockets. "No, that's next... Oh, there they are. Who put cookies in here?" he mumbled, pulling out a peanut-butter cookie and placing it in his teeth to hold it as he pulled out a black box. "Jerry, put these on your brother, I need to take care of these cookies I just found."
As Jory munched on the cookies, Jerry opened the box and grinned as he saw the contents. He kept it out of Glenn's view as he removed the recently-placed Lieutenant bars, then replaced them with gold oak leaves. "My brother, the Major! Wait until I go back to school!" Jerry giggled, his pride evident.
"At this rate, he'll be a General by dinner!" Cody offered helpfully.
"Naw, it'd ruin his appetite!" Jory giggled as he finished off the last cookie. "I hear you're already getting sword training, so I'm gonna hook you up with one to use when you don't want to show off your primary one. Save it for when it's needed, that way you always have the upper hand." With that, Jory reached into his pocket again, this time pulling out a sheathed katana about twenty-eight inches long.
"How'd you do that!" Liam asked in surprise.
"Deep pockets!" Jory said with a wink. "Glenn, you have shown your honor to those close to you; you have earned the right to carry this katana as a badge to the world of that honor." Jory then stepped forward, fastened the sash around Glenn's waist with the blade in its proper edge-up position, then stepped back. "You will be trained in its use as you are being trained in the use of the sword which is now part of you and your armor. Just don't go around chopping down trees; Cory, Tracy, and me need those to blow off steam occasionally."
At Glenn's confused look, Tracy interjected "Cory's gonna have Jory teach me tree-launching!"
Glenn shook his head. "Grandma, is it always this crazy?"
"No dear; many times it is much worse." Grandma Lizzy replied with a smile as she pulled Jory back and into her side for a cuddle. "I believe now is when you cuddle with your new grandmother, Glenn."
Taking the hint, Glenn stepped forward and took the unoccupied side of Lizzy. After a minute of quiet cuddles, she stated firmly "Both of you are to remember that you are boys first and officers second. The youth of this and other worlds, Clan Short or otherwise, have mobilized and are spearheading the recovery efforts. Their refusal to accept 'this is how things work' has already upturned some very outdated procedures which were overdue for review. Society as it was is staggering due to the attack, but it is being supported as the younger generations attempt to build a more resilient replacement. The League has voted to not only support this effort, but to assist whenever humanly possible. The Earth needs you boys to follow your hearts, learn from the past but don't repeat it, to ensure we never get caught by surprise like this ever again."
Jory tilted his head towards her face. "So you're saying do something like KT's doing with the Clan surface fleet? Throw out the old bottlenecks and put better procedures in place?"
"That's a perfect example, Jory," Grandma Lizzy replied. "After the infiltration of my Naval fleet, my Admirals were about to overload things with even more red tape. After a 'quiet' discussion with myself and JJ, they decided it would be more productive to find which statutes were used as shields. As they find them, they are being lifted or reduced to a point that they may no longer be used to subvert the defenses of Great Britain. As of an hour ago, three whole departments have been reassigned to other duties, as the services they were providing were either redundant or recursive; at least one was just there to place information in a virtual 'black hole' unless someone specifically asked for it."
As Grandma was speaking, John, Stephan, and Joel had returned. Joel was busy giving Liam an extra cuddle, while John and Stephan were interested in Grandma Lizzy's comments.
"So," John interjected, "Does that mean if you're getting overloaded with information, you need to find out why people under you can't decide it themselves instead of making a group to help you?"
"Exactly, Johnny," Grandma Lizzy replied. "One person in the right spot is more effective than a hundred in the wrong spot. Corruption is also easier to catch when there isn't a whole department to hide behind."
Glancing from Jory to Tracy and settling on Grandma Lizzy, John sighed, "There are a few things that need to be discussed after we get this move done. A nice walk along my virtual Ewa Beach would be proper for this chat."
"And a proper cuddle session with your Grandmother afterwards at Windsor Castle will be mandatory." Grandma Lizzy added with a twinkle in her eyes. "You will bring your husband, of course."
"Course!" John grinned, "We've got our mickey-mouse to create timeloops within timeloops and around other timeloops."
Pointing at his Archnanian watch, Stephen giggled, "It takes any time loops and keeps on tickin'!"
"Oh dear," John frowned, and begged his hubby, "Please don't start playing Pissed Off Chickens?"
"Why not?" Tracy giggled. "Prez says it's funny to see the girl's faces when he starts walking into their dressing room by accident!"
Stephen grinned, "Prez can keep his chickens and dressing room visits, thanks."
Suspiciously eying Tracy, John asked, "Is Kyle sending you messages from Prez? You haven't even met Prez... yet!"
"Kyle's holding a Divisional Director's tournament in my memory bay!" Tracy giggled. "Jory, you're up, stop checking out the ammo dump!"
"Sorry, I kinda got distracted in there!" Jory grinned. "I've never seen that much open area in someone's head before!"
"Batten down the hatches!" John loudly laughed, "Tracy's whippin' up a tornado to help move this house, Oz style!"
Figuring it was best to not comment, Glenn glanced around the room. He spotted Sa'ren just as he was finishing making sure Liam was comfortable at the breakfast bar, a plate of blueberry waffles in front of him. Sa'ren then headed over to Glenn and his group. "I've got to go, I'm needed yesterday for something happening tomorrow!" he announced with a giggle.
"I told you Kyle's kids would teach you bad habits!" Jory sniggered. "Have fun, Elf!"
"Wait until you see what I'm teaching them!" Sa'ren giggled as he stole Jory from Grandma Lizzy long enough to get a quick hug in. He then made the rounds of Glenn, Adrian, Cody, and Grandma Lizzy, before grabbing John and Stephen in a double-cuddle. "Remember what you were told," he whispered seriously.
John and Stephen both nodded as they returned the hug, then Sa'ren stepped back and vanished.
Peter floated above the group, counting heads, then announced "Okay, everyone's here! Welcome to the first flight of Quintessential Airways. Please ensure your seatbacks are in a vertical position, and avoid wandering near the edges of the platform. Dinner will be served upon launch. Enjoy the flight!"
The moving crew got busy, going outside to prepare. John and Stephen lifted off first, hovering over the roof of the huge house. Sammy and Sebastian took up spotter positions on the front porch and the office entry deck, while Eli and Benji floated over each end. Galen, Peter, and Ezra formed a triangle around the house, and all three began to glow as they started siphoning the energy needed to break the house free of it's present home. A purple bubble formed around the entire premises, sealing it off from the natural world.
"Perimeter clear!" John announced as he took Stephen's hand and his eyes began glowing. "Ready for liftoff!"
Galen fed energy to his N-Gen brothers as Ezra phased the bubble slightly out of time. Peter concentrated as he announced "Liftoff!"
Once the house was a foot off the ground, Ezra popped outside long enough to separate all but the upper two feet of the landscape from the house itself. After the soil was returned to its proper resting place, he popped back inside. "Okay, a little shaping and you'll never know a house was here!" he announced. "Bryce is playing with the planes, so we've got a clear lane to Ft. Lauderdale. Let's run at five hundred feet as much as we can; that way I don't have to keep us pressurized all the way."
"Great idea, Ezzy!" Peter replied. "Okay, I think we'll pop up and take the shortest route to the coast, then settle in to cruise over the ocean."
"Got it!" the telekenetics replied in unison. The house began rising, slowly at first but quickly accelerating. Ezzy maintained it out of phase enough to allow them to run at just over Mach Two without affecting the environment around them. An interesting side-effect he added was that while about an hour would pass for those traveling with the house, outside the bubble only minutes passed for the rest of the world.
Inside the house, Greta systematically peeled kids and adults from the windows and managed to get them seated. She couldn't help but to smile, however, when she reached DB and Liam; the pair left matching blueberry face and handprints on the window they were sharing. "I think two little angels just found their first friend to go with their new life!" she commented as she guided them back to the breakfast bar. "The two of you can sit here and get to know each other better. This way the rest of us won't interrupt you," she added as she scooted their chairs closer together and pointed out that Janice had refilled their plates.
As the rest were seated, Tracy noticed Robin was still inside with them. "Robin? Don't you have to be outside to help?"
"I'm on internal stability duty," Robin replied. "While the rest of the guys concentrate on the bubble, I'm keeping the house level and making sure nothing flexes. We take turns, since there's a lot more to do in here once we're moving than there is outside."
"Couldn't you guys have popped us out and then popped us back in where we're going?" Rex asked as he joined them.
"We could," Robin explained, "but then we'd have to take a week off at the office on Archnania to 'recharge'. It hits us TKs hard, because we have to stabilize it immediately as it's appearing. That's not much of an issue if we are at the site when smaller things appear like the modulars, since Petey can usually catch them as they're popping in and hold them long enough for us to take over. A big house like this he can't do himself without taking a chance of flexing it; on top of that we need to be riding along for possible in-flight stresses, which means we're already starting to need a recharge by the time we arrive."
Just as he finished speaking, the rest of the crew from outside wandered in, huge grins on their faces."Who's driving?" Robin asked with raised eyebrows.
"No, Quint is!" Benji giggled. "He's never flown a mansion at Mach Two before, so he told us to take a break while he has a little fun!"
"Don't worry, Bryce is playing navigator!" Eli added.
"Why is Kyle asking if my life insurance is paid up?" Tracy and Glenn asked in unison.
"Because putting those two together is like using a flamethrower to look inside my explosives cabinet!" Jory exclaimed as he felt around the chair. "Okay, who hid the damn seatbelts!"
Still near the window, Doug observed "We just passed an all-black battleship... three times. Does anyone know the speed of a sixteen-inch shell?"
"2690 feet-per-second. Why?" Jory asked with worry.
"If I remember right," Doug said as he suddenly started sweating, "the speed of sound at sea level is roughly 1125 feet-per-second. Just how fast are we going, exactly?"
"Bryce says Mach 2.4, so we've got a Mach advantage of .01," Ezra giggled. "Don't worry, KT knows it's us, so he's keeping the birds in their nests."
"Ezzy?" Adrian asked, "What would happen if one hit us?"
"We might feel a little bump," Ezra explained. "You'd see some pretty lights too, if it hit just right. I'm using a filter shield so we get fresh air; that would be a contaminant and would be dispersed to feed the shield's energy."
Adrian grinned as an idea formed in his head. "Can hits be captured and brought inside?"
Ezra tilted his head. "Yeah, Bryce could do that. Why?"
"Tell him to get ready, then relay me through the time warp!" Adrian giggled. "Watch this, Cody!"
Cody grinned; seeing the joy on Adrian's face made his chest feel like it was glowing, and something told him this was going to turn into a weird type of fun.
"Quint says about time, he was getting bored!" Ezra giggled. "I'm relaying your commbadge."
Adrian smiled. "Task Force Cookie Monster, this is Big Apple..."
"Task Force Cookie Monster, this is Big Apple. Prepare to authenticate for operational orders."
"Big Apple, this is Big Bird. Authenticate." Terry replied as he waved for Leon to join him. After making sure he was muted, he said, "Uncle Leon! Adrian's calling in!"
Leon ran over, hoping this had something to do with the ghostly object teasing them. He watched over Terry's shoulder as the authentications were exchanged, grabbing a headset to listen in.
Sure that he was actually speaking to Adrian, Terry replied after getting a 'ready' signal from Leon. "Big Apple, authentication acknowledged. Proceed with traffic."
"Big Bird, operational orders follow. Neuter all birds for this exercise, and load practice shells with full powder load. I am a passenger on the object that you are tracking. All turrets are activated task-force wide, and the first turret crew to score a direct hit gets a week of all-expenses paid shore leave. Any hits will be captured and held for verification against registered serial numbers. You have until I finish my dinner to hit us. Good luck!"
Leon gave Terry a thumbs-up to tell him he'd heard it all, then turned to pass the word to the Weapons Department and give a general announcement of the exercise to the rest of the crew and the remaining passengers.
"Message received and confirmed, Big Apple. You better be drinking from a sippy cup, we're gonna rock your world!" Terry replied.
"Not if I know my pilot, you won't!" Adrian giggled. "Big Apple out!"
"Quint says you're insane; he'll give you a hug later!" Ezra laughed.
Adrian giggled as he decided to share a chair with Cody and cuddled into Cody's side. "I just thought the guys would like some fun!"
Ezra nodded, then put his arms around his two partners. "I want both of you to know something. Cody knows that part of being boyfriends means I don't use my genetic stuff to cheat when it comes to your thoughts and actions. Bryce, Levi, and Dilly taught me that. That makes it so I always worry that something could happen to Cody anytime I leave his side. Knowing that if one of us has to do something the other two can look out for each other makes me feel a lot better. I'll be taking my turn at one-on-one cuddle time with both of you, so don't ever think that you're pushing me away if you're spending time with each other. I love both of you, even if you're the two most insane boyfriends a person could ask for!"
"I love both of you too!" Adrian replied with a grin. "Ezzy, you realize that calling us insane means we get to find out if you can get hickeys?"
"I like that idea!" Cody grinned. "I love you both, and if we can give him hickeys I think we should cover him in them!"
"Ohhh!" Adrian giggled. "We're gonna be busy all night!"
Ezra looked around for help, only to find Jory taking bets on the chance of success and the quantity if successful. He realized it was a lost cause when he heard Kyle placing his wager through Glenn while Tyler was placing his through Tracy.
Once the bets were taken, the meal was finally served. Grandma Lizzy was given the seat at the head of the table, with Glenn off to her left and Gary off to her right. After assuring 'her' two blueberry-covered 'angels' that she had set portions aside for when they got hungry later, Greta brought out the first course. Some got salads, others fruit bowls, mattering on their normal diet. The freshly-restored order was almost lost when Barnaby wheeled in a battery charger from the garage, placing it next to Ezra.
"I believe you will require this, Sir, if your companion's plans are fruitful." Barnaby stated loudly with a completely straight face.
"You will notice that the Mikyvis have the cutest glow when they blush." Grandma Lizzy added, which didn't help Ezzy in the least.
"Are me and my little brothers invited to Maui?" Glenn pleaded as he turned to Tracy.
Still fixing his Mach 2 wind blown hair, Stephen said, "Our Maui base has got refugees. It's gonna be a while there."
"But we'll have new condos built at Oneula Beach, in Oahu, by the end of the week," John shared. "Two of 'em will be twenty stories and have nice penthouse apartments, from the fifteenth floor and up."
"Is it saner there?" almost all of the permanent residents of the house chorused. The only one who didn't add his voice was Liam, who was too busy giggling at the new game him and DB were playing; their blueberry mess was now appearing and vanishing like a strobe light.
Thoughtfully scowling, John and Stephen turned to each other and shrugged. "It's a matter of perspective," John grinned. "If you have no problem with Prez playing Pissed Off Chickens on and off during the day, or skinny dipping at the pools..."
"Or gorillas and G-Cats playing hide-and-seek in the trees, with unsuspecting kids that get too close to our fences," Stephen giggled.
"Not to mention, two sets of telepathic twins and two sets of telepathic quadruplets reading and sharing your every thought..."
Checking his hair in a nearby mirror, Stephen muttered, "And then there's Platinum Habits, the leaders' band, playing the raciest rock they can remember, then you might be fine, for at least a few days." He suddenly hollered, "WHICH IS MORE THAN I CAN SAY ABOUT MY HAIR! I NEED MIKYVIS STRENGTH STYLING HERE!"
Peter and Galen hurried to Stephen's sides, held their hands up, and turned puffed up auburn hair into a giant auburn 70's style Afro that stuck out at least a foot from his skull. Everyone in the room roared laughing. Thankfully there was a high ceiling for John to float up to and hide his own laughter from his hubby.
"NO!" Stephen screamed.
In seconds, the 'fro shrunk down and left Stephen with a closer buzz cut than Robbie Taylor.
Still hovering up at the ceiling, well out of Stephen's reach, John giggled, "It's fine like that, baby."
Stephen whimpered, "Same length, same style as before the Mach 2 wind, please?"
"Oh!" Peter and Galen giggled, "Ya shoulda said that in the first place!" In a flash, Stephen's hair was returned to its normal pre-Mach 2 style.
At last happy, Stephen hugged each of the two prankster Mikyvis.
Glenn rolled his eyes. "I'm glad I'm already nuts!"
"You're my favorite nut, bro!" Jerry giggled as he got up and gave Glenn a hug from behind.
"Thanks, I needed that," Glenn whispered as he reached up and pulled Jerry's arms against him. "I love you, little brother."
The smile that appeared on Jerry's face lit up the room. "I love you too, big bro," he whispered back as he leaned his weight onto Glenn's back. With just minor coaxing, Jerry soon found himself on Glenn's lap, with his brother's arms holding him securely.
As Greta moved Jerry's remaining salad to his new seat, she told the boys "This house has been waiting for the day Glenn could openly comfort a brother. Today this room has had more joy than the last three years combined; from what I've heard it is all because of one friend helping another. Tracy and Jerry are truly the heroes of all of us here today, for without that one simple act of friendship, all of the wondrous things we've experienced today would not have happened."
Trying to change the subject, since Glenn was keeping him from joining Tracy under the table, Jerry commented "Now that I'm safe, I guess I gotta give back this kewl new necklace I just got."
<That is incorrect, Jerold,> Ark interjected. <The Council Cautela has reviewed your profile. Both him and the Seer agree it is a cute one, so they reviewed your qualifications. Your upcoming training is to include the necessary instructional aids to prepare you for induction as what translates to Council Chamber Security. You will notice minor modifications to the necklace as you progress, as the one I provided is the badge of office for the five persons personally selected by the Seer and Cautela.>
"Woah!" Cody exclaimed. "Way to go Jerry! Cory's Council Crafter, and I still ain't allowed in the Chamber!"
Noticing Jerry's impending meltdown, Rex spoke up. "Everyone, meet Ark, the oldest AI on the planet. Ark already knows all of you, trust me. Since you were being monitored, Jerry, I'm guessing that Ark noticed quite a few things that the rest of us saw bits and pieces of, then submitted the information to Rusty as part of a standing request for a specific type of person. It's probably more of what you didn't do that got Rusty's attention than what you did do."
<Very good, Rex. You are within the margin of error enough that Rusty will handle the specifics once initial training is complete. Cody, Tyne said to inform you the Council Chamber is not designed to handle two descendants of the Scott linage at once. It barely survives your big brother.>
"We're not THAT bad... most of the time... at least if someone's looking...." Cody commented with a grin.
The fact Ark didn't reply told the old-timers Cody had managed a rare feat; he caused Ark to bite it's virtual tongue.
Greta noticed the amused glances being exchanged, and decided it was best to redirect the wandering minds of the young guests. "Boys, the main course is waiting on you."
Her ploy worked, as the sound of utensils quickly scooping food tripled in volume. As she looked around, she noticed Grandma Lizzy motioning for her to come over.
"Is there a problem, Your Highness?" Greta asked as she made her way to the head of the table.
"Teri Short used to call me that," Grandma replied with a smile, "but she learned her lesson when I declared her a Princess. I much prefer Mother or Mom from my family."
Not sure that she wanted to test the Queen after what just happened with Glenn, Greta started over. "Is there a problem, Mom?"
"Much better," Lizzy replied. "My other daughters who are responsible for ensuring all of my grandchildren receive adequate quantities of food have established a network to keep each other aware of special needs. This network also assists when a Division has a sudden influx of new children, which is quite common. Due to recent events, I foresee a need arising that was not considered in the design of current facilities. The dining arrangements in current facilities are designed for the fostering of family relationships; even Teri's private dining area is designed for her close family to bond. There are going to be times when the boys will need to host heads-of-state formally despite their wishes. While they have the facilities at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace at their disposal, situations will arise where the use of them might seem improper."
"I think I see where you're going, and I have been discussing just that with Janice on a family scale," Greta commented. "Glenn is almost a twin of his father before the witch got ahold of him." Greta paused, smiling at the blushing boy listening in. "I suspect him, his brothers, and Janice and Doug's sons are plotting some sudden changes in the company they just inherited. While the clients in general prefer a casual atmosphere, when it comes down to business they expect to be hosted in a manner that reflects a stable, trustworthy corporation. As I showed the boys earlier, that is my job; I make them look good by doing the things they shouldn't have to worry about. This house was designed to hold the type of meeting that you are referring to, and I believe that with our common interests the network you are referring to will be a welcome addition to the changes of today."
"I think you will fit in perfectly," Grandma Lizzy stated. "All of them strive to make smiles appear on the children's faces. You are joining with Cajun matriarchs, five-star chefs in Hawaii, Southern United States cooks, the former owner of a catering service in Charleston, some of the best chefs in Wales, and my own personal Royal Kitchen. That is just the list of which I've had the joy of sampling their work."
"Please join me after dinner, I will give you a proper tour of the facilities," Greta said with a smile. "We can discuss it more then; right now I need to assist Janice with the main course."
"I accept the offer." Grandma Lizzy replied. A second later, she added "Jorge! A gentleman does not leave his chair when chewing on the edge of the table while waiting on his food!"
"Rarrwee, Rarnrawrrr!" Jorge answered as he pulled his head back and returned to his chair.
"That sounded better, Jorge," Greta complemented as she detoured to give him a quick ear rub on her way to the kitchen. "You'll be reciting Shakespeare in no time!"
The grin on Jorge's face said it all; he really felt like one of the boys now. No longer did he consider himself less than his big brothers; he finally believed their words telling him he was equal to all of them.
As the main course was being brought out, Tracy had a thought, and he quickly got up to go to Jorge's side. "Hey little bro, I just thought of something!"
Jorge tilted his head. "Wrrrar?"
Tracy grinned. "I broke my thumb really bad a couple of years ago, and had one heck of a time eating. I think the genetics are giving you a couple of bonuses, because your fingers look longer than a bear's fingers. I think you might be able to use silverware like I did; holding it with three fingers and using my arm instead of my wrist to balance the food. It's hard at first, but it gets easier. You wanna see what I mean?"
"Ruh!" Jorge nodded.
Tracy grinned, and began his demonstration. He made sure not to use his thumbs at all, since Jorge's hands didn't incorporate human-style thumbs. He held one corner of the rolled-up silverware and used his other hand to push it open, then pushed a spoon until it was clear of the other utensils. Hooking his middle finger over it to keep it in place, he pushed lightly on the bowl with one hand as he slid the index and ring fingers of the other hand under the handle. Once on his fingers, he used his middle finger to pull it up tight against his hand. After showing Jorge how he manipulated it to avoid losing food, Tracy put the spoon back on the napkin by releasing the grip of his middle finger. "It took me a while to get that good, bro, so don't get mad if you have trouble, just keep trying."
Jorge nodded, then tried his luck. He quickly found that his claws gave him an advantage once he was able to get the handle on them; with just a slight flex, he was able to use all five claws to stabilize the spoon. After a few minor drips from the drink that he decided to test with, he was scooping water into his mouth like a pro.
"Rawrrr!" Jorge exclaimed in glee.
"Way to go, little bro!" Tracy said with a smile. "I knew you could do it!"
As the boys took turns congratulating Jorge, the new adults exchanged glances. With that one action, Tracy had quantified in their minds what Clan Short was really about. All of the insanity meant nothing to these boys; all that mattered was taking care of those they called family and sharing what they'd learned in their lives. As the meal progressed, Tracy continued with occasional suggestions that helped Jorge through his first meal using silverware.
Glenn, Jerry, Liam, the triplets, DB, Cody, and Adrian had moved into the formal dining room shortly after the house landed to discuss the recent findings of Emrys and Alden.
"Okay, give us some details on the financials, Alden." Adrian said as he resisted the urge to personally fry the Board of Directors over a slow fuzzymore heat.
"Let's talk about component quality," Alden suggested instead, and then explained, "Not only are the pickups related to a certain female, which shall forevermore be dust; they are poorly designed and manufactured, in fact there's even some aluminum fret wire in stock. As you all know, frets are usually steel or stainless steel, so aluminum will wear out quicker and create a need for repair or replacement. She also got cases of cheap tuning heads, instead of the quality Grover 14:1 heads most companies and players prefer. She even found a way to scrimp and save money by sacrificing quality on the strap pins."
"So that's what Dad meant by fixing her fuckups." Glenn growled, earning him a giggle from Liam for his language.
Emmy went next. "Uncle Tracy's calling a friend he made yesterday. Alden found a few interesting things out about the current Board of Directors. I just checked on where you guys sit, and it ain't good. The witch was doing insider trading to get control from your Dad. She devalued him to where at this point he only had twenty-seven percent of the stock. She had eighteen percent herself, which puts you guys at an even forty-five percent. After some research, I found one shareholder who has one share over five percent in the company."
"Tommy Shaw?" Glenn asked, an evil smile forming on his face.
"Yes, good guess!" Emmy replied. "Unfortunately, you would need either his direct vote or a proxy signed by him to have a majority right now, at least until Alden gets things set up for you."
"Some valuable side notes," Alden relayed, barely suppressing a giggle. "The cedar and spruce you guys have been receiving the last year are primarily from the Christmas Tree business one of your board members is sole owner of. Another two board members own maple tree farms, which make some of the worst maple syrup out there because it's young growth. So your maple shipments haven't been great tonewoods either. Yet another board member owns the machine shop your low quality tuners are coming from. And for the grand finale, another board member is the primary stock holder of Sumin Guitar company, a competitor that's been growing while Glennwood has been shrinking."
Jerry quickly placed his hands over Liam's ears as he began his rant. "Who in the Hell put those scum-sucking skid marks in the undershorts of life on the board? I'm not gonna let my brothers lose what little they have left of what Krane built because some flake from a leftover wet dream stain wants to fill their piggy bank at our expense. Who appointed those bastards?"
Alden laughed, "Scum-sucking skid marks in the undershorts of life? Good one! I'm passing that to JJ! You could get a promotion from that, Jerry!" After another few moments of giggling that wasn't going over very well, Alden said, "Three guesses who the appointer was, and the first two don't count. It was her idea to take the company public."
"Does Tommy Shaw have video capabilities, Alden or Emmy?" Adrian growled, already having an idea of what Glenn had been considering by his surface thoughts.
Before either AI could answer, Sawyer announced "I just told Tracy to tell his friend that we're moving NOW!"
"One video terminal, coming up!" Emmy replied. "Does that answer your question? I'm hooking it into Krane's feed from the office, so it'll look like you're calling from there."
Getting new information from Tracy, Alden relayed, "The Chairman of the Securities Exchange Commission and a Federal Judge are preparing to join us, guys." After a brief pause, Alden said, "King Aalona of the ROH will make some calls so you guys can get koa to replace your stock of tonewoods."
"Tell him thank you very much; and we'll be over to thank him personally once we take out some trash." Glenn replied as he got a quick terminal lesson from Adrian.
"The message has been passed, Glenn, and He looks forward to meeting you," Alden replied.
Satisfied that he knew the basics, Glenn opened a comm channel and placed the call. A few seconds later, Tommy Shaw appeared on the screen, wearing a tee-shirt that read 'I fought the law and the law ran'. He wasn't looking at the screen, and automatically answered "Hey, Krane! Whazzup?"
"Hey, Uncle Tommy." Glenn said with a slight smile despite his mood at the moment. "We need to talk. I'm Glenn now, Dad suggested it."
Tommy's head snapped to the screen, and he immediately spotted the award still hanging around Glenn's neck. "What the hell! What happened, are you and your Dad okay?"
"The witch crossed Clan Short and lost. She's dust, and thanks to her, Dad's in jail. I'm fine, I guess, but I need to ask you a huge favor." Glenn replied.
"I'll tell you the same thing I've told your dad; anything you need, I'm here for you."Tommy stated seriously. "Dust, huh? Couldn't have happened to a better person. I'll have to send a thank-you card to Clan Short. What do you need?"
"We found out she stacked the board of directors with slimeballs." Glenn explained. "We're wanting to do a very hostile takeover, but we kinda need your voting shares to have a majority due to some insider trading. I'm about to call a meeting, with the SEC and a Federal judge standing by."
"You've grown up so fast!" Tommy said with a fake sob. "It seems like only yesterday I was changing your diaper while your Dad replaced a pickup on my Gibson. Now you're doing corporate takeovers! When is the meeting? I've got your back, kiddo."
"As soon as you grab a monkey suit." Glenn replied through his blush. "You're gonna pay for that other comment later, Uncle Tommy."
"Bring it on, Munchkin." Tommy laughed as he jumped up. "It's been years since the last time you tried to get even, I thought you'd finally learned your lesson."
A few seconds later, Tommy reappeared, a suit in his hands. "One monkey suit, but I'm still..."
"...here?" Tommy finished as he looked around the formal dining room. "Okay, how'd you pull THAT one off? That wasn't no transporter!"
"Family secret!" Glenn said with a grin, DB's soft giggles telling him exactly what had happened. "A lotta crap's happened today, most of it good. After we finish taking out the trash, you can sit down with us and we'll fill you in."
"I'm not leaving until one, I'm sure you're safe, and two, you explain why there is an ocean outside your window in the Pennsylvania foothills." Tommy stated seriously.
Cody giggled. "Emmy, grab enough clothes for him to stay a few weeks! Pick one of the nice bedrooms and put them in there. This is gonna take a while!"
"Okay, Uncle Cody!" Emrys replied with a giggle, causing Tommy's eyebrows to raise even more.
Glenn took pity, and began introductions. "Guys, say 'hi' to Tommy Shaw. I call him 'Uncle' even though we're not related; he's been like family all my life."
The boys all waved, then Glenn introduced them. "Uncle Tommy, these are my brothers Liam and Jerry. I've been waiting three years to show off Liam to you, and Jerry shoulda been there too. All of us are Gaussman kids now. Just trust me; you'll understand later."
"I understand too much already; I saw the looks they gave you." Tommy stated. "Liam, Jerry, come over here, please."
As Tommy sat down, both boys made their way to stand in front of him. Tommy motioned for them to take a seat on his lap, then wrapped his arms around them as he spoke. "Guys, I'm pretty sure I can say that I know your big brother better than anyone here. Body language doesn't lie; I can tell that all three of you love each other like the brothers that you are. Krane, sorry, I mean Glenn, has called me Uncle since he started talking, and after seeing his face when he introduced the two of you, I expect both of you to do the same. You're 'family' in the Chicago region definition of the word as well as in the normal definition, and I'll make the same promise to both of you that I told Glenn. Anything you need, call me. I promised to look after his family if anything happened to Krane Senior; that promise applies to both of you as well."
Liam just smiled and leaned into the cuddle, basking in the fact that he was accepted by someone who his biggest brother trusted. Jerry tilted his head as he commented "I don't know Krane like Liam and Glenn do; they call him Dad along with our Dad we live with, I can't really do that yet. All I really know about him is stuff that happened after the witch got her claws into him. Can you help me learn what he's really supposed to be like? If he gets better, he'll get outta jail; I can't help my brothers help him if I don't know what he should be like."
"It looks like I WILL be here at least a few weeks," Tommy replied. "You've got a deal, Jerry. I'll do that, and also help straighten out any other messes you guys find."
"Thanks... Uncle Tommy," Jerry replied with a smile, one less worry on his mind.
Liam was comfortable, but Jerry decided to get up so he would be ready for the upcoming meeting. DB took the opportunity, running over to take Jerry's spot. "Hi Uncle Tommy! I'm DB, me and Liam's the bestest best friends!"
Tommy laughed as he helped DB get comfortable. "I guess it's a good thing I can hold both of you, since 'bestest best friends' should always share! It's cool to meet you, DB."
Both lap-monsters giggled as they wiggled around until they were as close as possible to each other. After they were settled, Jerry introduced the triplets. "Uncle Tommy, these are my boyfriends Linos, Sawyer, and Heath."
Tommy grinned. "We've got to be related by blood somewhere down the line! I was going steady with triplet girls in high school until their family had to move away. It's great to meet you, guys; give me a day or two to get to know you and I should be able to treat you like the individuals you are. It pisses me off when people don't even try to separate identicals and get to know each one as a unique person."
Linos smiled as he replied for all three. "Since we're gonna marry Jerry, I guess I should say, 'Thanks, Uncle Tommy' for all four of us! Mom and Dad can help you if you want; they know the secret."
"I'll take you up on that, Linos." Tommy replied. "Once we're done here, would you introduce me?"
As the three boys decided to give their betrothed a triplet-hug, Glenn brought Adrian and Cody over. "Uncle Tommy, this is Sub-Commander Adrian Jobs, Family Clan Short Fleet Intelligence, and his boyfriend Prince Cody Short."
"Before you ask, yes, he's my big brother, by blood." Cody giggled, already guessing at Tommy's unasked question.
Tommy smiled. "Actually, I could already tell as soon as I heard your name, Your Highness. I'm honored to meet you. Commander, it is a pleasure as well; something tells me that a few people are going to regret this upcoming meeting if you're present."
Adrian gave an innocent smile. "Only if they think!"
"Going by what I've seen of their actions with the company, all of them should be safe from you then!" Tommy chuckled. "You got any Cliff Notes on what you think they've pulled?"
"Emmy, can you fit the condensed version on a Padd?" Cody asked.
"Already doing it, Uncle Cody," Emmy answered. "I'm making one for the SEC guy with Uncle Tracy, I'll just copy it. Here you go!"
A Padd appeared on the table by Cody. Cody picked it up and took it over to Tommy. "Here ya go, this'll cover the basics."
Somehow, despite the two boys in his lap, Tommy quickly browsed the list, just paying attention to the bulleted points. Sensing the disgust of his new uncle, DB had a little fun and provided 'smoke' rolling out of Tommy's ears.
Not realizing it was a Mikyvis illusion, Glenn asked "Uncle Tommy? Do I need to find a fire extinguisher? Your ears are smoking, for real!"
"It's nothing a little warm blood won't put out." Tommy muttered darkly. "I'm ready, believe me."
As if on cue, Tracy and Karl appeared with two grown men accompanying them. Both boys were in full dress, wearing black bodysuits and full-length cloaks. Tracy's cloak bore the insignia of a Vulcan Commander on the right collar, while Karl's bore the Commander, JG insignia. Both bodysuits had the Divisional Crest on the breast, with the word 'Command' inscribed underneath in Vulcan.
"Oh, crap!" Cody muttered. "George, I need my full dress kit now!"
"Here you go." George replied over Cody's subvocal. Seconds later, Cody was dressed in a similar fashion, the exceptions being his rank of Captain and the Family Crest on his breast. Adrian's clothes were changed as well, fully armed with his Sub-Commander insignia and the divisional crest. Without warning anyone, the AIs decided to upgrade the clothing on almost everyone; the exceptions being DB (for obvious reasons) and Liam. DB took care of his new friend personally, suiting them both in dark purple tuxedos.
Tommy's eyes were wide at the sudden changes. "Umm, who owns this suit? I don't own one like this!"
"You do now, Tommy," Tracy and Karl stated in unison. "Consider it a gift from Alligator Alley Division." After a pause, Tracy added "Guys, this is Carson Taggert, Chairman of the Securities Exchange Commission."
"And this is The Honorable Justice Marvin Hollingsworth, First Circuit Federal Court." Karl stated.
"We ensured they both knew all of you using video feed before we came in." Tracy explained. "While the Federal circuit has accepted Vulcan-Certified telepathic evidence for a while, the SEC is just now beginning to use it, mainly because of the success of the recent Pacific Rim operation."
"Going by what I've seen, something tells me some people are going to have a very bad day." Tommy commented. "It's an honor to meet you, Mr. Chairman and Your Honor. Please excuse my not standing, a pair of overdressed lap rats have claimed my attention."
"Perfectly understood, Mr. Shaw." Judge Hollingsworth stated with a smile. "I personally wouldn't stand either in your situation. Once Chairman Taggert has verified the parties involved, I believe we can begin."
"While he is doing that, I will introduce you to the officers performing the scans." Karl told the judge. "They're on their way in now."
The judge and Karl turned around just in time to see Jory and Jorge, both wearing full-length black cloaks with the hoods over their heads.
"Your Honor, it is my pleasure to introduce His Highness, General Jory Casey KG GCB, Clan Short Special Forces and Commander of the Terran Guard; he is a Vulcan-certified telepath."
"I'm attaching you to the same tree as Cody!" Jory sent to Karl as he extended his hand to the Judge. "It is a pleasure, Your Honor."
"The pleasure is mutual, Your Highness. I look forward to working with you," the Judge stated with a smile as he shook Jory's hand.
Trying to hide his grin, Karl did the next introduction. "Your Honor, our other telepath is my little brother, Major Jorge Butler, Clan Short Special Forces and Alligator Alley Security."
Jorge extended his front paw from the robe's sleeve. "Urr Waarwrr."
The judge maintained his composure quite well, only meeping once and maintaining full control of his bodily functions before shaking Jorge's extended paw. "It is an honor, Major Butler. I think you're going to give the defendants a good reason to think before speaking."
"Uwrr Uwrr!" Jorge giggled.
"I believe we are ready to proceed once the Commissioner is prepared." Judge Hollingsworth stated, deciding it was best to not question having a conversation with an adolescent grizzly bear who was standing on two feet.
"I'm ready, Your Honor. Jerry is now set to vote as proxy for Liam." Carson stated as he rejoined them. "Adrian has offered to have the Clan Short AI duplicate the conference table from the other room and place it at the head of this table. This way all affected parties will be seated in one area, and the board of directors will be at the table that is already here."
"Jorge and I won't need seats," Jory stated. "We plan on assisting the board members with finding their seat... whether they like it or not. Adrian will be providing security for the head table."
A minute later, the tables were set. Carson and Tommy helped the boys sort out who sat where. It was finally decided to have Tommy, Tracy, Karl, the Judge and the Commissioner sit to the right of the corporate officers while the triplets, Cody, and DB sat to the left. Adrian remained standing off to the side, while Jorge and Jory took up position near the first chair.
"Emrys, we are ready for the board. Please deliver them on General Casey's command." Tracy ordered.
"Understood, Director." Emrys replied, now running a dedicated VI to handle and record the upcoming events.
"Send in the first one." Jory ordered.
The first board member arrived, holding a knife and fork, which fell from his hands as he found himself in a different chair. Jory quickly scanned his surface thoughts, then stated "John Garvey, you have been summoned to this emergency board meeting at the request of the owners of Glennwood Guitars and the SEC. Reserve any questions until the full board is present."
Scowling and blinking fast, Mr. Garvey groused, "I was having dinner. This better be quick or someone owes me a prime rib."
DB blinked cutely, and a prime rib dinner straight from the Royal Kitchen appeared, complete with fresh utensils and a glass of red wine.
Picking up the utensils, Mr. Garvey smiled, "Carry on. I'll be occupied until my input is required."
At the raised eyebrows, Tracy explained "One of the guys here is very special, and while he won't judge people he will give signals to our security as to if anyone is a problem."
DB giggled, "Aww!" The blush he should've had was transferred to Tracy, who took on a bright purple glow for a couple of seconds.
After rolling his eyes, Jory ordered "Next, please."
A bald man in his late fifties appeared wearing a flowered towel, obviously halfway through shaving. He was still holding his razor, and had shaving cream covering one side of his jaw and lower cheeks. "Mitchell Nimus. Your presence is required at an emergency board meeting called by the owners of Glennwood Guitars and the SEC." Jory stated as he reached up and snatched the razor from the man's hand. "You won't be needing this."
Normally, the boys might've laughed, but the sagging flesh on the man made Glenn, Jerry and Liam grimace like they might become violently ill. Sensing trouble, not only from his three new Clan brothers but also from the gross older man, DB gave him a flowery robe and had him seated in a chair.
"Nice robe, Mitch," John Garvey teased, and continued carving his prime rib.
"At least the food looks good." Mitch commented, just as an overcooked hotdog on a stale bun appeared in front of him, accompanied by a paper cup filled with warm water.
"What the fuck is this?" Nimus bitched, "He got steak and wine."
"He's nice," DB plainly stated, his purple eyes taking on a slight red tint. "I wouldn't try standing," DB growled. Of course, the geezer tried anyway, and found that he was somehow attached to the chair he was in.
"Make me mad, and I find out if I can run that hotdog through your digestive system - in reverse." DB warned as the red in his eyes migrated out and started forming a red aura around him.
Suddenly the hotdog seemed much more appealing than prime rib, as Nimus crossed himself before paying more attention to the food than the terrorizing sight of a glowing redhead child who quite possibly could carry out his threat.
"If I have nightmares, Peter's getting a visit," Jory muttered before stating "NEXT!"
A man in his mid-thirties appeared, a set of keys in his hand. The fact a doorknob was hanging from the keys pretty much showed he had just been arriving somewhere. Jory gave the man, Paul Green, his quick spiel, then 'invited' him to take a seat.
Paul looked around the room, noticing the meals of his companions as he took stock of his situation. "Well, I think my evening just got interesting. Would it be possible for someone to return my doorknob? I think my wife might throw a major witch-fest if she finds it missing."
"Sure," DB said as the doorknob vanished and a plate with country-fried steak, green beans, and mashed potatoes appeared, along with a cup of coffee. "Have a seat!"
As Paul was sitting, two more plates appeared along with his eleven-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter. DB stared at the two new kids as he said, "Paul, your wife will arrive in a minute. I've given her an hour break to decompress, since someone has given her trouble all day today."
"I would suggest eating quietly as you ponder your actions," Jory warned the pair. "Otherwise, I might just need to ask my partner to have a talk with you."
The sight of a bear paw waving at them from the other robed figure got the point across, as both youth quickly turned to their plates, giving them their full attention.
"Yes, this is going to be a VERY interesting evening!" Paul muttered to himself with a smile.
"Next!" Jory ordered with a grin as him and Jorge moved to the other side of the table.
The next arrival was built like a linebacker, and arrived with his five-year-old son riding on his shoulders. "Daddy! Where'd the shuttles go? I wanna see the shuttles!" the boy complained loudly.
Adrian smiled as he beat the new arrival to an answer. "Shane, your Daddy has to be here for a meeting, then we're gonna take you for a ride on a real shuttle! You get to be like a real space guy!"
"Do we still getta eat 'pagetty?" Shane asked with wide eyes.
"All you can eat!" Adrian smiled as two piled plates of spaghetti and meatballs, complete with garlic bread, appeared on the table.
Jory moved in close, and quietly told the man "Maury Flanigan, this meeting has been called by the owners of Glennwood Guitars and the SEC. Please refrain from questions until all are present."
"Now wait just a damned minute!" Mr. Flanigan loudly complained, "I had this day planned with my son. After yesterday's bullshit, I am not missing..."
"You're not going to lose family time with your son, if you can keep your temper under control." Jory stated flatly. "He's getting a shuttle ride; your actions will decide if you join him."
Reaching up and lifting his son up and off his shoulders, Mr. Flanigan placed his boy down in a chair before a plate of spaghetti. The boy knelt on the chair so he could reach the table and immediately dug in. Watching his boy scarf down, a single soft chuckle escaped Flanigan, and then he took the next chair and sat down.
Everyone was paying attention to Maury and his son, so they didn't catch the concerned look crossing DB's face; nor did they notice as John, Stephen, and Robin suddenly appeared outside the windows. The first hint that something was about to go very wrong came just after Jory ordered 'Next'. Liam, the triplets, Paul's kids, and Shane suddenly found themselves floating up to the ceiling. "I'm a SPACEMAN!" Shane exclaimed, causing the airborne group to break into giggles as they found themselves eighteen feet off the floor, swimming around and looking at the ceiling.
Those left on the ground were not laughing, however; they were staring in shock. The final arrival was standing there, pants around his ankles, being 'serviced' by an eleven-year-old boy. All but one froze for a split second, the one who didn't freeze released a growl that froze the blood of all who heard.
Note that the average wild grizzly bear is actually quite timid. A grizzly won't usually attack unless backed into a corner, unable to escape. Unfortunately for the board member who had just appeared, Jorge only looked like a grizzly. Even more unfortunate was the fact Jorge was telepathic, and within the blink of an eye knew exactly what led to the situation in front of him. The part that really ruined the man's day, however, was the fact Jorge was standing, and able to put his full weight into what happened next. The shocked silence was broken by the sound of multiple ribs shattering from the impact of Jorge's right paw, immediately followed by the wet thud of the man hitting the nearby wall while still in midair.
"Emrys, take out the trash." Tracy growled. "Introduce him to the witch."
"I still detect brain activity, Director." the Emrys VI replied.
"Good. Execute termination." Tracy ordered.
The body vanished, followed a few seconds later by the VI informing Tracy "Termination completed as ordered, Director."
Outside, just barely heard by those indoors, John started howling hysterically, "He's not quite dead yet, he might yet recover! Oops!" The boys at the ceiling began slowly floating down to return to their meals.
Inside, Jory stared at Tracy in surprise. "When did you start following the Special Forces code?"
"When I found out he bought boys for long-term self pleasure." Tracy growled.
Meanwhile, Jorge had thrown his robe off, dropped down, and had began comforting the sobbing boy on the ground. Jorge had both arms wrapped around the youth, who latched onto his rescuer like his life depended on it.
Confronted by a memory from the future, John quickly led Stephen away from the window.
Tracy, Karl, Adrian, and Glenn quickly joined Jory and Jorge. Having a little more experience in these situations, Jory began. "Corbin, it's over. We're from Clan Short, and you're now one of us."
"Someone fill me in on exactly what put him in that situation." Glenn asked.
"Here you go." Jory replied.
A few seconds later, Glenn's face turned scarlet in rage. "This ain't happening. Corbin, I don't know if I could do this by me being a Clan member, but I sure as hell can by the ranks given to me by Queen Elizabeth. As a Prince of the British Commonwealth and a Knight in service to Her Majesty, I hereby release you from all contracts of servitude entered into upon your behalf. You're welcome to attend the beheading of the asshole that sold you later tonight."
Picking up on a forming thought, Adrian reached in and rubbed Corbin's back. "What you had to do to survive doesn't reflect on who you are," he said softly. "You've got a large family now that will help you make good memories and forget about what was forced on you. That teddy bear you're holding onto has sworn justice on every person involved in what happened to you; I think you can count on being safe from them now. You think he'll make sure that you're safe?"
"Uh huh." Corbin stated softly, muted by his face being still buried in Jorge's chest.
"Rarwen?" Jorge said softly.
"Yeah?" Corbin replied, unaware that he just understood Jorge perfectly.
"Rawr arw raahrh ow whrer." Jorge explained softly. "Rawr rror ro wrr awrrawr hror rehre. Rawrh ruhrwr rwrarr Rahraee? Wr hrruwhr wurwr wrorwrww rawr rarwrr R rawr rarer rawhrarrwr."
Ezra had appeared with John and Stephen as Jorge was talking. Both boys did double-takes as Corbin pulled his face away from Jorge's chest.
"You sure that your brother Nathan will protect me?" Corbin asked. "I've never been out of the United States, Hawaii sounds nice."
Jorge nodded seriously as Jory added "Nathan is like Jorge and me; he'll die protecting you if needed. Any time you want to see or talk to one of us, just say it out loud; the AI in Hawaii has you under priority watch as soon as you arrive."
"When we leave here, we're time-jumping to Wednesday in Hawaii." Ezra added. "By that time, Jorge and Jory will have taken care of anybody who could be a danger to you from your life before today."
Stephen grinned, "What a day! Early to rise, out to Charleston to greet thirty kids, back home, school, dunked in the diving well, a Core Rimmer team meeting, back to the diving well, go rescue a teenager, bring him back home, take a Mikyvis trip back to Saturday, and we're jumping back to when on Wednesday?"
"Before dinner, at the pools, so Corbin can meet Nathan and some more kids, to get used to his new home," John answered. He then told Corbin, "I'm Intel director at home. It wouldn't surprise me if Nathan knows more about you than I do, dude. Nathan has a quirky habit of keeping things secret, especially from me and the rest of the Core Rimmers."
"Just because I gave him the full report already, including mental scans?" Jory asked innocently.
"Oh, that was assumed," John giggled. "What's gonna be even more fun is what happens here over the next four days that I haven't already read about."
Corbin had a ghost of a smile flicker across his face. "You're being weird! Jorge says I will be safest in Hawaii, so let's get going."
John and Stephen reached out their free hands and took both of Corbin's hands.
A taxi meter appeared floating in front of Ezzy. "Destination Wednesday! All Aboard!" Ezzy giggled as he raised the flag on the meter and the 'mileage wheels' started spinning like a slot machine. The four boys disappeared with an audible 'pop', a plate of cookies left in their wake.
"ARAAAWR!" Jorge excitedly cheered, and dove for the plate of cookies. When all that remained was nothing, he looked up, spat out the plate, and burped.