Voyagers

Chapter Twenty-Eight: The Attack

A Collaboration of TrueFan, Zarek Dragon and Douglas DD

[Universe Creator's Note: A little over 2 years ago, I was inspired by the 14th anniversary of a collaboration I had been reading. Yes, I am talking about the CSU. I've always loved Sci-Fi and wanted to write a story of that genre myself but realized I didn't have what it took to write a story of that type on my own. I had just finished reading "Survivors" by DouglasDD and was still working with my friend ZarekDragon on Priorities. I sat at my desk and penned a prologue for a sci-fi story where the entire crew of the ship were adolescents. I sent it to them and they liked the idea. I presented the idea of a collaborative effort and Voyagers was born. We published the opening chapter 2 years ago, today. On January 21, 2017 on storylover.us. Reaction to it was phenomenal… and the story grew… and grew. We were so excited with it (probably owing to work we were doing with our first GUEST author, TSL.) that we actually forgot our first anniversary and didn't make much (if anything) about it… but the story has grown so popular, we felt it important to mark this anniversary with a special chapter. This chapter is the culmination of that effort. It's (in my humble opinion) the best chapter we've written so far. I hope you all enjoy it. So, on behalf of my co-writers, ZarekDragon, DouglassDD and myself, thank you all for making Voyagers as much of a success as it has been. We hope to continue this story for a long time to come. – TrueFan]

 

On the way to Draconia, the Sooloo was attacked. Fortunately, Draconians, or Darastixians in their tongue, came to the rescue. Then while enjoying the pleasures of Draconia, they learned of an ancient prophecy concerning the twins, Lars and a Draconian Orphan named Koji. Koji is drawn to Kyle for some reason, possibly relating to the prophecy.

As they are eating breakfast the next morning, a race thought to be extinct, attacked. These are the same people who attacked the Sooloo.

1 October 2121

Reception Hall ~ 0700

As the breakfast feast was ending, the sound of battle could be heard. Royal guards ran into the Reception Hall and pulled the Royal Family, along with Dave and Hal out. One of the guards declared, "Sire, the Lizons have attacked the Throne Room."

Dave looked at the King, "What can we do to help? I'd offer to assist with the Sooloo, but…"

"With the way the Sooloo is right now, it would be destroyed in one hit. I can't ask you to assist us, you are our guest. I believe we can handle this, but some of your crew might get attacked because you are here."

"What about that other ship we saw docked?" Dave inquired.

The King smiled, "She's three hundred years old, but in great shape and ready for battle. She has a minimal crew but no captain. Zarek's only sixteen or he would take command. According to our customs, he's old enough to marry but can't join our military for three more years." The King looked at Dave and grinned, "That's a great idea. Yes, you can take what crew you need. In fact, it may be helpful to some of them, the environmental controls are still set to Terran for our next visit there."

KaisokusenBefore Dave could comment on what the King said, Koji came running in with the Terrific Trio behind him. "Sire, Stars want you to use the Kaisokusen.Kaisokusen. (" Kaisokusen is Draconian and means \"fast ship.\" ")

Lars stopped, "I was just about to say that when Koji took off. How?"

"The Prophecy… Koji has already established his mental link with you boys. He is learning his abilities early. What do you say, Dave, do you want to command the RDS Kaisokusen? I know the Lizons will be no match for her and you heard the boys. The stars want her in battle."

Dave just smiled at the King and started calling the officers he wanted aboard the ship as he headed for the shuttle, himself.

Danny in the Fighter ~ 0700-0900

Danny was just finishing his breakfast with Kyle and Brad when he noticed a Draconian enter the dining room. As Danny tried to place him, the Draconian approached his table. "Morning greetings to you gentlemen," the Draconian said. "Do you remember me?"

"I remember you," Kyle replied. "You greeted us when we landed. But I don't remember your name."

"My name is Endou Takumi and I am the meagear of the fighter pilots. I have come to talk to you," Endou said, pointing to Danny. "Come with me, please."

Danny pointed to himself as he squeaked out, "Me?" The squeak made him even more upset with himself. He hated how his changing voice would squeak at all the wrong times.

Endou started walking as he answered, "You are a pilot, correct?"

As he got up, Danny nodded. "Yeah, I'm a shuttle pilot."

"Then it is you I wish to speak with," Endou was walking at a fast pace.

Danny hurried to catch up to Endou. Once he did, Endou explained, "I thought it would be a special experience for a young, but very qualified pilot to fly in one of our fighters. Your surprise this morning was to fly one of our fighters, but then we were attacked. I wanted to wait and let you fly later but Prince Zarek insisted that we keep our word regardless."

Danny sighed, but the thought of being in a fight scared him. "You will be with me, right?"

"I will be in the co-pilot seat ready to take controls if you need me. You needn't worry. The safest place right now is aboard the Kaisokusen, but the second is in one of the fighters."

That helped Danny ease his tension, but he also remembered that Koji's father died in a fighter accident. Meagear Endou escorted Danny just outside the castle grounds where they boarded a small craft piloted by a boy who looked only a few years older than Danny but was nineteen in Draconian years. He quickly shuttled Danny and the Draconian pilot to the spaceport.

Danny saw ten fighters lined up on the tarmac. "Which one is yours?" he asked.

"Fighter Nineteen at the front," Meagear Endou replied. He ushered Danny into a hanger. An attendant fitted Danny for a helmet and found one his size. He also gave Danny a breathing mask. "The air you breathe will be exactly like your Terran air," Endou pointed out.

'Oh good,' Danny thought, 'no rotten egg smell.'

They then walked out to the fighter. As they entered, Danny saw that there were two seats in the front and one seat by the door. Danny waited for Meagear's okay to sit. "Either front seat can pilot and the other is the co-pilot. The backseat is used when we need a third person for targeting or communication. Sometimes it is used when we just need to take a guest somewhere. You can take the right seat as I already have it set up to pilot."

Danny couldn't believe his good fortune. He, Danny Harper, age twelve, who hadn't been assigned to an Explorer Class ship until virtually the last minute, was going to pilot an alien fighter into space.

Meagear Endou made sure Danny was properly strapped in and that his air was connected. He showed Danny where the controls were and how they worked.  'Not much different from our shuttles,' Danny thought, 'except I bet this puppy moves its ass about a zillion times faster.'

After he was satisfied that Danny knew where the controls were and how they functioned, Meagear took his seat. Meagear then went through the startup procedure with Danny and told him he would handle communications with flight control, freeing up Danny to concentrate on just his piloting.

When Danny fired up the rockets, he could almost feel the power rumble though him. He went over the procedure again with Meagear, repeating every step he had to deal with. Like the Sooloo shuttles, a Draconian fighter could take off vertically, which meant Danny wouldn't have to deal with taxiing, lining up with the runway, or any of the other things that went into a runway takeoff.

The time came for Danny to play pilot. Paying heed to Meagear's warning that the fighter's response would be much livelier than one of the shuttles, Danny eased the thruster throttle slowly as the fighter moved straight up from the ground. He hovered at the proper altitude until he was told they had clearance to take off. Meagear had told him to move the rocket to the 80% notch and he felt his head whip back as the fighter roared to life.

When Meagear yelled, "Now!" he pointed the fighter straight up while giving it full throttle. He squealed with excitement as the powerful little ship blasted its way into space.

"Yeeeeeeehaaaaaaaw!" he screamed out. "This is way better than my Orion Seven game!" Ten fighters, and Danny was in the one with their commander.

After leaving the Draconian atmosphere Meagear Endou ordered the rest of the squad to attack the Lizon ship while he had Danny put the fighter through a couple dozen different maneuvers. Danny pulled them off almost flawlessly and Endou was impressed by the young boy's skills and with how quickly he learned to pilot the powerful, responsive little space craft.

Meagear Endou set Danny on a course for Lizon. He instructed him on the way about how to deal with a moving target. As they approached the ship, several of their fighters came out. Danny counted around thirty.

As a Lizon fighter approached the fighter, it fired a laser beam which just missed the fighter. "Evasive procedures, NOW!"

Danny's pilot instincts took over and he turned the fighter sharply to port. Meagear had already told him where the Lizon's most vulnerable area was, as well as its blind spot so far as weaponry was concerned. The Lizon shifted its laser fire to its starboard lasers.

The Lizon saw that he had the fighter centered and was ready to fire the "killing" shot when Danny re-enacted his maneuver with the Raphael and did a roll. Before the Lizon could react, Danny was running the fighter straight down on him and fired his laser gun. Danny fired all his forward guns and then swerved to avoid the debris of the exploding fighter.

"That was some incredible flying," Meagear said. He'd never had a trainee react so quickly to that battle situation. He doubted that most experienced pilots could do as well. He knew that one major factor besides Danny's daring were his quick reactions and his willingness to put his fighter into a much tighter turn than most Draconian fighter pilots. Meagear attributed those quicker reactions and the tighter turns to Danny coming from a lower gravity planet.

Danny headed straight for two more fighters and they were already firing. Danny watched their fire deflect off his shields. He aimed at them simultaneously, not even realizing he could until the computer asked for a second target. Once both were marked, he fired and both Lizon fighters exploded. Danny was glad that he didn't see who was in the fighters or he may not have been able to fire. As it was, his stomach twisted, and he worried he would lose his breakfast.

It didn't take long before the thirty Lizon fighters were destroyed, crippled or retreated to the Lizon ship. With the fighters out of the way, they started attacking the ship. Meagear Endou explained, "We will keep them distracted until the Kaisokusen arrives, then we will head down to help with the ground forces."

RDS Kaisokusen ~ 0800

Kaisokusen BridgeDave went to the bridge; as he walked, one of the Draconian crewmembers approached him, "Sire, er… I mean, Sir, once your officers are aboard, we will be ready to go."

Dave noticed right away that the gravity wasn't as strong as planet-side. "I believe the King said the environmental controls were set to Terran?"

"That is correct; we usually keep this ship set to the Terran environment," the Draconian explained.

Jordan was the next one to board. Dave originally considered Jace, but the more he thought about it, Jordan could do the Operations and act as XO when needed. One thing he was sure of, when he was discussing it with Hal, Hal asked him not to use both parties of a couple. Jordan started looking at the Operations; he was happy that the Draconians had set everything up in English.

John Luke boarded next. While Kyle may have been a better choice, Dave knew that Danny would be in one of the fighters and wanted to honor his promise to Hal. In fact, Meagear Endou offered to co-pilot for Danny, while Danny would be the one doing the flying and fighting. He would be in Fighter Nineteen.

Scott Trevor sat down at the Tactical Station. He no sooner sat down when Connor called up to report he was down in engineering. Brad found the IS department and started looking for ways to speed up the system. He was ecstatic with how efficient the systems already were. For the most part, his job was just to observe and be ready.

Once everyone was aboard, Dave ordered the ship out of space dock. One of the Draconian crewmembers was piloting the ship.

Guest Quarters

It had been almost two hundred years since the Lizons were thought to be wiped out. How many were in existence was unknown. The lone ship in orbit was capable of carrying three hundred personnel. Most were on the planet, but a skeleton crew was on the ship firing down at the planet.

Once the fighting started and Jordan went to be on the ship, Jace took all four boys to the guest quarters. He told them to stay in the quarters until someone from the Sooloo let them know it was safe. "I mean it, do NOT open this door for anyone you don't know," he warned them.

After he had the boys as secure as he could, Jace went to see about a weapon. The Draconians allowed the security personnel to carry their weapons, but it was unusual for the common people to carry any kind of firearm. The regal class did adorn themselves with ceremonial swords or daggers while the remainder of the people carried tantos properly placed to not be threatening, yet ready if needed.

Jace found Zarek and asked, "You have any lasers? Give me one and I will help you."

"Follow me," Zarek shouted as he ran toward the castle. "If you know how to use one, I can get you a sword. Energy weapons will be no good on the planet. Their body armor will just absorb the energy; we need to use blades or projectiles."

"I've been studying martial arts since I was five, that includes many of the martial art weapons, but… what about their ship?" Jace was concerned for his crewmates. Jace thought, 'If the body armor absorbs, wouldn't the ship's shields?'

Zarek sensed Jace's concern, "If we were shooting at their ship with standard lasers, yeah, its shields could absorb the blast, but our ship's lasers will do damage. Our fighters hurt it yesterday and the Kaisokusen is way more powerful. If we can make it to the bottom of the castle, we have a dojo with several weapons."

Jace got on his comm and warned everyone not to use their lasers. Then he and Zarek made their way to the dojo with little incident. One Lizon did attack Zarek but was easily put down by the two boys. Zarek DID have his ceremonial sword at his side. He explained, "We don't normally like taking a life, but if they keep attacking us, what are we supposed to do?"

KatanaJace nodded, "It is in defense of your planet, I understand."

Once in the dojo, Zarek handed Jace a sword. Jace thought it was a beautiful sword… completely blue, even the blade. They each grabbed a tanto and some shurikens. Jace grabbed a few extra weapons that he could stow in his belt to give to any crewmembers he might see.

Lizon Ship ~ 0845

Having his fighters quickly dispatched by the Draconians, the Lizon commander set course for the space dock. He knew this was their last attempt to overthrow the planet and he was going to take out their ship as well as the one they were repairing. He looked at his second in command, "We will set the self-destruct and then evacuate the ship. I will stay on board to keep her on course and continue firing."

"But Sir, you will be killed when she explodes."

"I will get off just before we reach the space dock. That will give me time to get safely away. Leave one fighter and get everyone off the ship."

The two set the self-destruct and the XO did as he was ordered. The Commander was surprised when he saw the Kaisokusen coming out.

RDS Kaisokusen ~ 0900

Once everyone had reported aboard and ready, Dave gave the order to leave the space dock. Quickly and efficiently, the Darastixian pilot navigated out of their mooring. Dave ordered them to come to 'Battle Ready' status and once confirmed, he ordered the pilot to bring them to where the Lizon ship was firing… bombarding the planet surface.

Dave battled his conscience, wanting to at least give them a chance to surrender before firing upon them, but he had little knowledge of the Lizons. He asked his Darastixian bridge officers, "Are they likely to listen to reason if offered a chance to surrender?"

He heard what he had hoped he wouldn't… the Lizons wouldn't even acknowledge such an offer and he shouldn't waste the time, his breath, or element of surprise. Dave reluctantly then gave the order, "Engage the enemy. Weapons, fire at will."

After the first volley from the Kaisokusen, Dave saw a swarm of fighters emerge from the ship. "Weapons, get these gnats off our back and then go back to attacking the main ship."

The fighters, after a few having been destroyed easily by the Kaisokusen, broke off any attack on the ship in orbit and headed toward the surface. Dave opened a comm channel and said, "Meagear Endou, Danny, be advised you have several Lizon fighters heading toward the planet."

The reply was by Meagear Endou, "Thank you, but we're ready for them. Your pilot is first rate!"

The Lizon ship started firing at the Kaisokusen. Her shields absorbing the hits easily, but it still made for a bumpy ride. Connor reported from Engineering that the ship's shields on the starboard side were sustaining the brunt of the damage and advised Dave to try to put the port side facing the enemy ship, there was no danger of collapse at any time in the near future, but it wouldn't hurt to be careful. His exact words in that regard were, "Sir, I'm hoping I'm reading these instruments correctly, and if I am we're in no real danger yet, but I'd feel safer if we turned to present the port side instead of the starboard, Sir."

Dave gave the order, then asked, "Is there any part of their ship that is more vulnerable?"

There was a brief discussion in the native Darastixian dialect when the Senior Darastixian on the bridge reported, "Sir, at the bottom of the ship in the center there's a small port which allows the engine internals access to the vacuum of space to cool itself. That's probably the most vulnerable place on their ship as their shields are weakest there as well."

Dave then remembered an old Earth movie where a pilot had to get an explosive into a small 2-meter hole in the surface of a space station. He ordered the pilot, "Z minus 20,000 meters, then change attitude so our weapons are firing directly at the ship. Once done, advance on that spot on the ship. Weapons, feel like hunting wabbits?"

Scott Trevor joked, "Shhh… I'm huntin' wabbits!" Then, more seriously said, "Aye, Sir."

ExplosionIt took 4 shots before Scott was able to get an effective hit on that port. Once he hit it he reported, "Bullseye, Sir."

Dave ordered the ship to come about and move to full speed away from the Lizon Ship. He ordered the view screen to aft. Moments later the screen got bright as the Lizon ship exploded. Dave then ordered them to return to Space Dock.

Aiden

LizonHaving been warned by Jace, Aiden started looking for bladed or projectile weapons. He saw a bow with a quiver of arrows on the wall. As Aiden grabbed the bow, he heard someone breaking the door down. With a quick nocking of an arrow, he let it fly and watched a lizard looking man fall at his feet. Retrieving the rest of the arrows and the one from his target, Aiden sought to help defend his fellow crewmates.

Guest Quarters

The boys heard banging on the door; they watched as the door began to splinter. As all four boys cuddled close together, Lars' rune began to glow. One of the Lizons was standing in the doorway and Lars shouted in a tongue he had never heard before. The Lizon stopped, stared at the boy and dropped his weapon. Koji picked up the fallen axe and buried it in the Lizon's leg. The Lizon toppled, screaming as the boys ran past him. He tried grabbing each one but couldn't reach them. "Com'on, we gotta go save the King," Koji hollered.

As the boys ran, Jonas asked, "What was that? What just happened?"

Koji replied, "The stars told Lars to shout at the lizard in his own tongue and gave him the words."

"What did I say?" Lars was curious.

"You told him that he was already dead, the stars said so. But the fact you did it in his language is what scared him. Now, the stars want us to tell the King to duck. I just hope we are on time."

The boys found the King with two of his guards; they were fighting three Lizons. A Lizon stabbed one of the guards through the chest and turned toward the King. Koji shouted, "DUCK!!!" just in time. The King did as Koji requested and felt the wind of a blade pass overhead. He also saw the head of the Lizon he was fighting fall. Taking his sword, he jabbed it hard behind him and twisted. Then, with an upward movement, cut the Lizon in twain. He assisted his guard with the remaining enemy.

With their fighting done, the King looked at Koji, "Koji, I sensed he was there, but wasn't sure how close. I believe you saved my life, fulfilling the prophecy. You boys stay with me."

"That was awesome to watch," Jonas declared, "well, except for the guard dying."

"Yeah, I will miss Hanabusa Erikku. He leaves a ten-year-old boy named Juro."

"Can we meet Juro?" Jason asked, "I want to tell him how brave his dad was."

"Perhaps I can arrange it after the battle, but for now, we must remain here, where we will be safe."

Koji turned pale, "No Sire, stars want you to go to dojo."

The King didn't argue. He thought it was risky having only one guard and the four boys, but he knew the prophecy said to listen to what the stars said through these boys. As they made their way, the King looked back to see several Lizon enter the room they were just in. Fortunately, they didn't see them. He thought, 'The stars were right again.'

Fighter Nineteen ~ Ground attack

Danny loved fighting space battles on his computer. There were explosions with lots of noise, there was fancy flying, pinpoint marksmanship, lots of color, and nobody got hurt—especially himself. But a real space battle was different; people had died and luckily, he wasn't one of them. He didn't know the Lizons from a herd of crocodiles. He had no idea why he was doing what he was doing, why he was shooting, who he was shooting, or why the Lizons and the Draconians were even fighting. The battle wasn't his—all he wanted to do was cuddle up with Kyle and play a computer battle and get to know his new son. He wanted to fly his fighter right down to the planet's surface, land it, and get the fuck out.

But he understood that if that was going to happen, he was going to have to deal with the Lizon fighters firing on the planet and, according to Meagear Endou, preparing to be part of an invasion. In order to survive he would have to continue to fight. See if I ever accept another invitation to take a fun ride in somebody's super-powered fighter again, he mumbled to himself.

"What is that one ship? It looks more like some kind of a shuttle than a fighter," Danny asked Endou.

"It is a shuttle and is unarmed. I cannot tell you what is its purpose, but it is Lizon. It may be more troops, or knowing the space battle is lost, they may have evacuated any women and children. We need to keep an eye on it," Endou replied.

As Danny digested that information the fighter received a warning that they were in weapons range and Lizon weapons were locking on them. Meagear Endou pointed to an icon on Danny's screen. "Go after that one," he ordered.

Danny flipped the fighter "upside down" as the Meagear gave instructions to the other nine fighters in his flotilla. Danny's position locked his weapons onto the Lizon fighter's weak spot. As he fired his weapon, he couldn't help but wonder if the Lizons were so stupidly brave because they were basically stupid. The fools must not know they have a weak spot under the hull or they wouldn't expose it to me like that. The Lizon fighter blew into small pieces as Danny worked to keep his breakfast from filling his breathing mask. Meagear shook his head; his young pupil was doing maneuvers he never dreamed of.

Then something happened to his left that pumped the adrenaline back into him. Three Lizon fighters ganged up on a Draconian fighter and blew it into tiny pieces. "Cowards!" Danny roared. He quickly took out the closest of the three Lizon fighters, hitting right in its Achilles heel.

"Fighter centering on you," Endou warned. "You take him, and I'll shoot at the one coming under us." As was the case with all of the Draconian fighters, Fighter 19 did not have a vulnerable spot underneath, which was fortuitous as the Lizon fighter scored a hit but could not penetrate 19's shields.

In order not to throw Endou off, Danny shot straight ahead at the third Lizon fighter. His shot didn't destroy the Lizon, but it did knock the fighter out of commission. At the same time, Endou hit at the second fighter's shields hard while Draconian Fighter 15 came up from behind the fighter and destroyed it.

"Seven to two," Endou told Danny, telling him that the Draconian fighters had destroyed or disabled seven Lizon fighters while losing only two. "That's it, the rest of the fighters have landed. Prince Zarek reports that those with the shuttle surrendered as soon as they landed. The shuttle WAS women and children."

"So, are we done? Can I return to the spaceport?" Danny asked.

"Not yet, we still need to take out any ground support still resisting. Fly as close to the ground as you feel comfortable and take out any Lizons you see still fighting."

It surprised Meagear Endou with how close Danny was flying, Danny had to watch for even the slightest of hills. When the boy saw his first Lizon, he thought, they are ugly, but still a living being. As he aimed, he just couldn't find it in him to fire. "I… I… I just can't do it; I'm sorry," Danny expressed.

"No need to apologize; it just shows that you are a good person with a good heart."

As Endou aimed his weapons at the Lizon, Danny shouted, "HE DROPPED HIS WEAPON AND IS RAISING HIS HANDS!!! I think he is surrendering."

"And not a moment too soon. I was just about to fire. Land so I can detain him. It looks like there's another purpose for that third seat."

Danny landed the fighter and Endou jumped out. He quickly restrained the Lizon with what looked almost like a Velcro strap. Endou sat the Lizon in the extra seat and sat back down. "Take us back to the spaceport so I can turn our prisoner in."

Danny did just that. He was hoping that he was done flying in this battle. As soon as he landed, Endou was greeted by a guard. "What's the report?"

The guard replied, "Slightly over two hundred Lizons were killed, the remainder either surrendered or were captured. This one is the last."

Danny sighed in relief. Endou requested more information, "And us?"

"Counting the two fighters, we lost eighteen, total. One being one of the King's guards."

"But the King survived?"

"Thanks to Koji and those boys from the Sooloo." Danny swelled with pride upon hearing Koji's name.

Draconian Flight WingsEndou turned to Danny, "You are an amazing pilot. If you ever want to fly with me again, I'd be honored. I have something for you." Endou reached inside his flight jacket and pulled out a metal object. "Danny Harper, for your amazing flying ability and courage demonstrated during a fire fight, I commend you with these Darastixian Wings."

"Thank you, but what does vees schtockvey mean?" Danny sounded the words on the wings out as best as he could.

"Vs'shtakvi means courageous or brave. You definitely showed that."

"To be honest," Danny admitted, "even though you told me how safe I was, I was a little scared, and when I saw that fighter destroyed… I don't deserve this."

"Courage and bravery do not mean that you don't have fear. They mean that you acted appropriately despite that fear. You have earned these wings."

Danny hugged Endou quickly then went to find Kyle. He couldn't wait to show his wings.

Danny Reflects

Danny decided to look for Kyle at the guest lodge first. Like many of the Sooloo boys, he had become adept at riding the tube system. He rode the tube from the spaceport to the stop near the guest lodge. During the short trip he started to wind down from his surprise adventure.

Memories of the battle came back to him. He remembered how afraid he had been. He remembered guiding Fighter 19 into position to fire a kill shot on the Lizons. He remembered killing living beings like himself and wondering why he was even fighting in a battle that had nothing to do with him and everything to do with Meagear Endou and the Draconians. He remembered wishing Endou would take over control of the fighter, he remembered wanting to cry, he remembered the rush of anger and adrenaline that washed through him when the three Lizon fighters ganged up on Fighter 12 and destroyed it, killing Endou's fellow pilots and friends. He remembered the shields of his fighter absorbing a hit—no matter what Endou said, Danny knew he had been in danger. He became so lost in his thoughts that he almost missed his stop.

Squeezing his wings, Danny detrained and walked out of the station into the sunshine. As he walked to the guest lodge, his legs kept feeling heavier and slower.  'I'm not slow because of the gravity,' he thought. 'No, it's because I fought and killed people and I don't like the feeling.'

Danny entered the big dining room, but since dinner was over an hour away, it was empty except for Brad, Whit, and Steve playing a card game at a table in the corner. He didn't notice a fourth hand of cards lying in front of an empty chair.

"Hey, Danny, come on over and tell us about your flying adventure," Steve called out.

Danny had no desire to say anything to anybody except for Kyle. He turned and left the lounge, bumping into Kyle just outside of the door.

"Oh, there you are," Kyle grinned. "I was just at our room looking to see if you were there. Come on and join me and your friends and tell us about the big battle." Danny stood passively with a blank stare on his face.

When Kyle noticed the look of distress on his lover's face, he lost his grin. Instead of seeing the usual twinkle of Danny's blue eyes, he saw what almost looked like dull gray. The mouth that so often had the beginnings of a mischievous grin was downturned. The air of boyish confidence that almost always emanated from Danny's being was gone. The boy Kyle saw standing in front of him was not the roughish boy who lived for friendship, laughs, roughhousing, flying, and yes, wild sex. What Kyle saw was a boy who looked lost and crushed.

Kyle placed his arm around Danny's shoulder. "Let's go up to our room," he instructed his lover and long-time best friend quietly.

After Kyle entered their guest room, he closed the door, edged over to the miserable looking boy in front of him and gave him a hug and a gentle kiss on the lips. "All we've been hearing from the Draconians and from the Kaisokusen is how you kicked Lizon asses and then you come here looking like your dog died. What's got my Danny so glum?"

Danny tried to fight off his tears but didn't succeed. Kyle could feel the warm drops fall on his uniform tunic. He led Danny to the twin beds and pushed him gently into a sitting position. "Tell me what this is all about?" Kyle had an inkling of what was bugging his friend, but he wanted Danny to say it. That was a technique he knew Dave often used on him and now he was going to use it to put Danny on the spot.

"Brad, Steve, and Whit saw me," Danny said as if that was a criminal act. "I don't know where Randy was—cooking, I suppose."

"And this was a problem because?"

"I don't want people to see me like this."

"I know how I want to see you." Kyle pulled off his tunic. Danny rolled over on his back and stared at the ceiling, ignoring what his friend was doing. In seconds, Kyle was naked. "I want to see you like this."

"I'm not in the mood for…"

"I don't give a rat's ass what you're in the mood for, I'm in the mood to see all of you and have you cuddle up next to me and tell me what the problem is so we can solve it."

Since he was not in any mood to argue, Danny kicked off his uniform and underwear without getting up from the bed. He tossed it all on the floor and then wrapped himself around the boy he loved so much. He slowly started telling his story starting with Meagear Endou taking him away from breakfast.

Danny described his joy flying the fighter and quickly moved his narrative into the battle with the Lizon fighters. "Kyle, I was good, and I knew I was good. I was better than them and was blowing them up and killing them and it wasn't even my war, it was Endou's war and the Draconians war and…"

Kyle clamped his hand around Danny's mouth causing his next words to be unintelligible "Umphs". Once the sounds stopped Kyle loosened his grip.;

"What are you doing?" Danny asked angrily. "I said I was killing…"

"Shut the fuck up and let me talk or I'll keep my hand over your mouth." Reluctantly, Danny shut his mouth. He knew better than to argue with Kyle once he started building up a head of steam. "What fucking starship did you arrive here in? Have you even thought about the bullshit you've just said and what the fuck you're thinking is about?"

"Yeah, sure, and quit cussing at me."

"You must have been sitting in the bathroom taking a giant dump when the Lizons came out of nowhere and attacked us for no fucking reason. You must have missed the shaking of the Sooloo from their blasts. You must have missed us being one direct hit away from being destroyed. And I know you missed me pissing my pants on the bridge when I thought we were all going to die." Kyle had pissed more into the pants than the small spot he'd told King Zedrick about.

Kyle felt more of the tears that were streaming down Danny's cheeks. He cursed himself for not pausing and being more sympathetic with the kind, gentle boy whose naked body was wrapped around him. "I'm sorry, Danny," Kyle said gently. "I was being mean, and I didn't want be mean. But sometimes you don't connect the dots really well and sometimes I don't accept that really well."

Danny's thinking was often the concrete thinking of a preadolescent and he didn't connect cause and effect; he focused on the moment instead of on the big picture. When he went into the battle, the fear and the stress had him totally in the moment. That focus on the moment had as much to do with Danny's performance in battle and keeping him and Endou alive as his instincts and skills did.

"I never thought…it's not like I forgot, how could I forget something like that?" For the first time since Kyle had seen him in the lounge, Danny flashed a smile. "I can tell you that I wasn't taking a crap when we were attacked, but I sure wanted to when it was over. I was helping Jesse inspect the shuttles to make sure they were in shape to be used. It was scary as shit being closed up on a shuttle in the shuttle bay with the ship banging and shaking and having no clue what was going on. I dunno, maybe I blanked it all out."

"You were under a lot of stress," Kyle said as he stroked Danny's thick mop of blond hair and took in the beauty of his friend.

"That's no excuse for not thinking about it when I got back here. Where was my brain?"

"Maybe it was still fighting the battles, just like I was on the bridge and… well… shit, I'm so sorry, Danny. It's not your fault. I mean… fuck… I was thinking how scared I was in the bridge when we were ready to die and I… I…" Kyle felt his own tears flow… I forgot to treat you right. I was acting like my dad acted." Kyle sniffed up some snot, "I didn't act like me. I thought how scared I'd been and yelled at you and it's like I know now exactly how you felt when you were scared." The boys kissed and lay quietly for a few minutes."

Danny finally broke the silence and started telling Kyle about how the Draconians let the Lizon shuttle land without firing on it and how the soldiers on the ground surrendered when they knew it was surrender or die. "Meagear Endou took over the fighter when I said I couldn't shoot a Lizon on the ground. Doing that was way different than shooting at somebody shooting at me in a fighter. And that last soldier, Endou was about to shoot him because he was gonna fire on us and then he surrendered so I yelled at Endou that his hands were raised and he didn't shoot."

Picking his pants off the floor, Danny reached into a pocket and took out the Darastixian Wings that Endou had awarded him. He had stuffed it into his pocket when he undressed, not sure if he wanted to show Kyle something that he may not have earned.

"Endou gave me this." Danny showed Kyle the wings resting on his palm. He pointed to the inscription on the wings. "He said this means brave and courageous. He told me I can be brave even when I'm scared. He thought I earned it, but I wasn't sure because I was so fucking scared."

"You're so totally brave and courageous I can't even start to tell you how brave you are. You're the one who flipped off my dad when he kicked you out of my house naked and threw your clothes out the door. Fuck, I'll never forget you flying the Raphael through that rift like it was as wide as the galaxy." He gave Danny a kiss and a knowing grin. "And you didn't piss your pants when you knew the Lizon were shooting at you."

"Well, that was because I was able to shoot back, and you weren't." Danny's comment was wiser than either boy knew; he had evaluated the situation perfectly.

Danny let Kyle hold the Darastixian Wings "This is amazing. They are so beautiful, so detailed, so special…," He kissed Danny's lips, "…and so are you." He handed them back and asked Danny what he planned to do with them. "Are you going to wear them or pin them on your uniform or what?"

"I'm not sure yet," Danny replied as he clasped the wings in his left fist. His answer was entirely true. He was toying with an idea, but he wanted to think it over more. 'I'll tell Kyle when the time comes, if the time comes. And even if it doesn't come, I might use my idea anyway. There is somebody very brave who deserves these wings as much or more than I do, and I hope I get the chance to pin them on his chest.'

Kyle and Danny snuggled together, basking in the feel of his partner's nakedness. They napped, content and guilt free until dinner time arrived.

Castle Darastix

The King was standing in front of a large group. In the center were about a hundred Lizons who were relieved of their weapons and armor. Dave and the crew from the Kaisokusen had just returned. The King spoke authoritatively, "We do not wish to kill, but this attack has forced us to do so. This was the last attack. If you can live peacefully with my people, you may live here…"

"I would rather die," a Lizon interrupted.

"That is an option, but let me finish," Zedrick demanded. "As I said, if you can live peacefully, you may remain here. Another option is to transport those of you who wish to a planet in another system. It will be your choice, and if neither of these choices appeal to you, you will either spend the remainder of your days locked away or be put to death. I have no desire to kill any of you, but if that is what you choose, I promise a fast, painless death." Many of the Lizons chose to transport to the planet.

Hanabusa House

Connor and Aiden, once reunited after the battle, held each other. They had originally planned on visiting one of the orphanages in the capital city on Darastix. However, Jason related to them the story of the guard who gave his life to save the King. They told him that the man's death now left a boy, ten Darastixian years of age as a new orphan.

Lars then turned to them and said, "The Stars…"

He was interrupted by Koji who said, "The stars want you to meet the boy, his name is Hanabusa Juro." He explained that the family name was first, then the given name so the boy's name was Juro.

JuroThey knew better at this point than to ignore anything deemed necessary by the stars, so they agreed. They arranged transport to the boy's home and knocked. Juro answered the door and looked at the young Earth boys he'd heard about from his father just the evening before but never assumed he'd meet. He respectfully bowed to the older boys and invited them into his home.

"Hello, Juro. I'm Aiden, and this is Connor. We wanted to meet you. The young boys here were there when your father saved the King from death. They wanted to tell you personally how bravely he fought to save the King even at the cost of his own life."

Juro's eyes blinked but he held back the tears that wanted to fall. In the pure, unbroken voice of a young boy he replied, "I am deeply honored that you would go to the trouble to come inform me personally. Thank you. I am not sure what will happen to me now since I have no other living relatives."

Koji spoke up, "You won't have to worry about it." But he didn't give any further details.

Juro hugged each of the boys before thanking them for coming all that way. Connor, Aiden, and the Fabulous Four then returned to the palace.

Castle Darastix

Having met Hanabusa Juro, Connor and Aiden went to speak with King Zedrick. Juro was the son of the guard that had been killed while protecting the King. With just a brief meeting, Connor and Aiden became fond of him.

"Sire, we wanted to talk to you about Juro. He looks almost ten and we're almost fourteen and fifteen. That's only a four or five-year difference."

Zedrick nods his head, "He is a good boy and would listen to you. He'll be eleven on his next birthday. His mother died in childbirth. And you know what happened to his father."

Connor looked down, "If we don't adopt him, what will happen to him?"

"He will live in the orphanage until he turns thirteen, then he will have to leave. At that time, he will be given a home for a year, assisted in finding his place amongst the work force and society and taken care of until the year is up, or he can take care of himself. Every orphan is well taken care of with one exception. They all want parents. Age is just a number, the important thing is, do you believe you can love the boy?"

Kyle and Danny's Room ~ 1400

Kyle and Danny had enjoyed a full day exploring Draconia with Brad, Roger, Aiden, and Connor. Dr. Tom and Dr. Muskalla cleared Kyle to take part with his crewmates and friends but cautioned him not to push himself.

"Watch over Kyle and if he even starts to think about being tired make him sit down for a rest," Dr. Tom told the group. "And as for you, Commander Robinson, remember how you felt yesterday, remember that a relapse is possible if you push things. Best case will have you in bed for the rest of your stay. More likely you'll be on the next shuttle to the Sooloo. Remember that you are not immortal because the worst case would have us giving you a funeral."

"I'll be careful," Kyle sighed.

"Don't believe him," Danny joked. "I'm holding his hand to make sure he follows doctor's orders." Which is what Danny did. Kyle had no problem holding his boyfriend's hand for the day. When he got tired, he asked to sit. The rest of the group had no problem sitting as well, as the gravity wore them down just like it did Kyle.

They returned from their excursion in time for dinner. The six of them sat at one of the large tables, strengthening their friendships as they enjoyed each other's company.

The only one with an issue was Brad, who missed Steve terribly. He hoped that Dave chose another senior officer to relieve Steve soon. The best-case scenario in his mind was Dave choosing him as the relief officer with Steve staying on board.

After dinner, Kyle and Danny returned to their cozy little room. Brad and Roger came with them and helped push their beds together.

"Dr. Tom gave us some pills to help with one of the high-gravity problems," Brad said with a leer.

Kyle's eyes widened. "You mean, you and Roger are…,"

"Oh, hell no, we have enough problem jerking off. Not that we don't like each other as friends, but you know how it is. I'd have to clear it with the file clerk first. I might not even need them, since my powerful sex drive had me very hard a couple of times today. The wonders of being thirteen. I mean if I were sixteen with a big, thick 25-centimeter (10 inch) cock needing gallons of blood to fill it then maybe…"

"Cool it, Brad, you'll be lucky to if your little needle dick hits 15 centimeters (6 inches)," Roger needled.

"Steve's happy with it."

"Guys, could you take the cock fight to your room?" Kyle asked. "Danny and I have to talk about something."

"Just talk?" Brad smirked. "Do you need one of my pills to step things up?"

"You have a dirty mind, Brad, which I know is common knowledge. But 10 centimeters (4 inches) or little dickeys will work just fine. Really, we want to talk. See you guys in the morning."

"We'll be looking forward to it." Roger gave a little wave and he and Brad left the room.

"Brad is a total sex fiend," Danny chuckled. "Do you think they're going to, you know?"

"They'll go as far as Brad is willing to go, and we know how far that is." The restriction Brad and Steve had with each other on anal sex applied to anyone.

"Yeah, but I wouldn't mind going as far as I can with him after we get home. And I bet you're ready to enjoy Steve's magic teeth."

As the boys talked, they stripped naked and plopped onto the bed. Danny was partially erect while Kyle was flaccid. They paid minimal attention to each other's condition. Their long day had tired them out and they wanted to have their talk. After that they would think about sex if they had any energy left.

Kyle lifted Megrez from his perch on the nightstand and sat the stuffed penguin between Danny and himself. He didn't know if the stars would be following the discussion or if they even cared. What he wanted was to have Megrez be a part of the conversation that he knew would be the most serious one he had, one with his long-time best friend and boyfriend ever had.

The boys were on their sides facing each other. Kyle could feel the love pulsing between them with a power he had never felt before. He didn't know if the presence of Megrez between them or the stars themselves magnified the feeling and he didn't care. What he did know was it was a sensation he hoped would stay with him for the rest of his life.

"I love you, Danny," Kyle whispered.

"I love you, Kyle. I'm feeling… feeling… I don't know how to say how I'm feeling except that it's like you and I are one and I'm a part of you and you're a part of me. Damn, that sounds stupid, but it's how I feel."

"I feel like that, too. I want to be part of you and for you to be part of me for as long as we live. Hell, I want it forever."

"King Zedrick says he could give us special permission to get married if we wanted to and since you're an honorary Darastixian, I bet he'll do it."

Kyle kissed Danny gently on the lips. The presence of Megrez kept him from pushing his body in tighter, but he and Danny both understood that was one of the reasons Megrez had been placed between them.

"We're twelve," Kyle said wistfully. "We both said it's why we weren't going to talk about being married—that we'd just keep being boyfriends."

"I know, but I feel like I'm older than twelve, not that I'm an expert or anything," Danny said.

"I don't care about the age anymore. I care about how much I love you and how I want us to be together like this forever and, well, we both want it. Getting married is the right thing to do."

"And even if we get married, we can still enjoy Steve's magic blow jobs," Danny giggled, relieving some of the tension that had built up.

"You're almost as bad as Brad." He gave Danny another smack on the lips and said, "And we can both enjoy Brad, too. We'll follow the same rules we set up as boyfriends, at least for now. Who knows how we'll feel when we get older?"

"I don't know, you don't know, but I'm sure we will know when we know."

"Yeah, sure, whatever you say, Danny." Kyle took a deep breath. "And now we have one more problem."

"Koji."

"Yep, Koji. We don't even know what being married is about. I mean, think about it, we're talking about still having open sex, and now we're going to talk about adding a five-, six-, seven-, or whatever the fuck he is year-old boy into this."

"When you kissed his cheek yesterday after he read about loving you, it was like he changed from a pesky little kid that somebody older like Aiden and Connor could have, into a kid who belonged with us. At least, that's how it felt to me."

"It did that way to me, too. I had the same kinds of sensations then that I am having with you."

Family, the three of you are family, all are family, the familiar voice in Kyle's head said. Kyle looked at Megrez, but the little stuffed penguin sat impassively, revealing nothing. 'No matter,' Kyle thought, 'the stars have told me what they think.'

"The stars want this," Kyle revealed. Danny didn't doubt it. "It will be hard work. I mean we're not even teens and there are so many times I wish I had my dad to talk to. And I mean my dad like he is now, not my dad like he was, like the one who split us up."

"You have Dave to talk to."

"Yeah, and you know I've gone into his ready room to talk about problems. What you don't know is sometimes I've cried at his desk and he's had to wipe off my tears. Is that like a dad? I mean, Dave is only seventeen."

"You cried with me, too," Danny reminded his boyfriend. "But you never told me you cried in the Captain's ready room with him."

"Don't remind me. Sometimes I'm such a crybaby. I wonder what my dad would think of that?"

"He'd love you. Just like Dave loves you, like I love you, and like Hal loves me."

Kyle gave Danny a surprised look. "You've gone to Hal and cried?"

"A couple of times. Sorry I never told you, but, well, I guess I thought like you think. You're always the big strong senior officer and I didn't want you to know how sometimes I just had to cry. But, I'm telling you now, because I kept that a secret and I don't want us having any more secrets."

"I agree, which is why I told you about me and Dave. And you thought I was strong when I've cried in bed with you?"

"Like I've done with you, but that's different than crying with a command officer because, well, you just feel lost and lonely and need somebody older to help you."

Kyle turned the subject back to Koji. "How do we know how to be a parent when we're only twelve and need to almost treat Dave and Hal as parents?"

"We learn from them, I guess. I mean, Hal and Dave have Lars to raise and they barely know him. They're what, seventeen? And Jordan and Jace have the twins and they're fifteen. What do they all know about being parents with no adult to be like a grandfather and tell us what to do? But I think they're doing a pretty good job."

"They're doing a great job. Hell, they could almost be grandparents to Koji and help us in that way. And we'll have Uncle Connor and Uncle Aiden and Uncle Brad and Uncle Steve." Kyle gave Danny another peck. "We won't be alone, and that's what counts. We have a family to help us."

"But what about our privacy? I'm not giving up sex, that's for sure."

"Have you seen what Jace did with their quarters? The quarters were built so partitions can be set up. With Connor's help we can do that so Koji has his own bedroom, we will have ours and we have a family area."

Danny started to giggle. "What's so funny?" Kyle asked.

"You better make sure there is a lot of acoustical material between the sections, since you're a screamer."

"I am NOT a screamer!"

This time Danny kissed Kyle. "Whatever you say, my love."

"Now we're going to have to get Dave's blessing for our marriage and for adopting Koji," Kyle stated. "And I think we'll need to talk about setting up some kind of a school program and a place for kids to be when we're not able to be with them." He patted Danny's shoulder. "You'd make a great teacher, since you won't be flying when we're in deep space."

"I do have my astrogation watches, and I'm not giving those up."

"Not even to spend a day with the Titanic Trio plus one?"

"Call them the Fabulous Four?" Danny asked with a grin. "But seriously, I think we've made our decision. Now we need to talk to Dave in the next couple of days."

"Agreed." It was Kyle's turn to start giggling.

"What's tickling your funny bone?" Danny asked.

"You've heard the saying about kids bouncing off the walls, right?"

"Yep, but they don't do it literally."

"Yeah, except in Koji's case when all that energy of his gets unleashed in low G, well, it might actually happen. We may need rubber walls in here." The two boys had to fight their laughter since it was literally making their bellies hurt.

After they regained control, Kyle moved Megrez back to his perch on the nightstand. "Speaking of energy, how's your energy level?"

Danny pulled the covers back and pointed to his hard-on. "I've got enough energy to see if we can make something happen in this gravity."

"I'm with you on that."

The two tweens learned that sex in heavy gravity was difficult but not impossible. It was a successful evening for the two lifelong friends who were about to take their lives to another level.

2 October 2121

Randy Jenkins and Whit ~ 0500

"Damn, you snored loud last night," Randy complained as he shook Whit awake. Randy had awakened a couple of minutes before to his alarm and decided it was his responsibility to wake up his lover who had a way of sleeping through alarms.

"Like that gives you the right to wake me up when you feel like it," Whit mumbled sleepily. "Hell, you woke me up draping your naked body over me, so don't even begin to complain about my snoring."

"Most guys on the Sooloo would kill to have a naked boy draped over them in their sleep," Randy chuckled.

"Or a girl for some of us—not that I'm complaining. Your naked body can drape over me any time, just don't wake me up with it."

"I think we would both sleep better if we made our sex faster and harder and maybe got off a couple more times."

"No argument here," Whit grinned, "but we were lucky to get it done once. Now we know what it will feel like to be older and not be horny 24/7."

"I don't have a problem with being horny, it's getting it up that sucks sometimes. I guess it's because of the blood thinners as much as it is the gravity. Thanks to Dr. Tom and 'The Howser' for coming up with their magic elixir to bone us up."

"I think Tom came up with it because he was ready to get off with a certain somebody."

Randy gave Whit a look of surprise. "Who?"

"Rumor says its Nurse Antonio."

"No way."

"Yes way. But nobody knows for sure."

"I suppose it would make sense, but still, Antonio reports to Dr. Tom. But then, Danny reports to Kyle, so who the fuck knows how all this shit works. Speaking of sex, what do you think of the Draconian females? You know they wouldn't appeal to me since they are females."

"I think the word to describe them is… um… erotic."

"Erotic or exotic?" Randy giggled at Whit's word switch.

"Yeah, I meant exotic. And a couple of them could get me in bed with them if it was allowed. But, truth be told, I'd rather be fucking you in bed than one of them. I'm not gay, but you are my boyfriend, and I'm done trying to figure out what it all means. I'm sleeping with you, having sex with you, and just plain being with you."

Randy returned the kiss. "And the feeling is mutual and then some. Now I have to get up and help the Draconian chefs with breakfast. You still have an hour to sleep in."

"Why can't you just take some time off and relax?"

"Because cooking and food is my obsession and there's so much to learn from these dudes."

Whit gave Randy a quick kiss on the lips. "Like cooking skunk?"

"Well, there is that. I think it's on the breakfast menu again today. Who knows, I might even think about giving it a taste."

"A lot of the guys say they like it."

"I know, and those are the guys who know nothing about food and eating." Randy rose from the bed and trudged to the bathroom. He showered quickly, adjusting the water pressure to compensate for the higher pressure of the Draconian showers. Whit had already fallen back to sleep when Randy came back into the bedroom.

Dining Hall ~ 0530

BadrasRandy had a blast helping the Draconians cook breakfast until Badras, Head Chef of the Castle, started to prepare a shimasukanku omelet. 'Skunk is way easier to say,' Randy thought when he saw what the chef was preparing. Badras placed a sheet of cut up meat into the broiler. Randy had to admit to himself that the meat had an enticing smell.

As Badras and his assistant sliced abuchino, a red root vegetable much like a carrot, into a bowl, Badras explained how the meat and vegetables would fit together in the breakfast dish he was preparing.

"Take a taste," Badras said slowly as he worked through the translator attached to his belt.

"We don't eat skunk on Earth," Randy told him as politely as he could. He did not want to hurt the feelings of his pleasing host. Ben Maxey, one of the assistant cooks, was standing behind Randy and fighting hard not to laugh. At thirteen, Ben was the youngest of the kitchen staff. Despite his youth, or maybe because of it, he had a gift for working with food.

"But this is shimasukanku, not your skunk," Badras explained patiently. "Yes, they can make stink.  We remove the glands in the shoulder and hip carefully and do not use the meat they are attached to. Then we prepare the rest of the meat with special salts and spices. It is very tasty, as some of your…," he paused a moment,"…colleagues have learned."

Badras took the cooking meat out of the broiler and shook a spice on it. "Niedhousen salt," he said, "from the inland Niedhousen Sea. It is the best salt on the planet." He picked up another shaker and added a different spice. "From the reshpoto plant, it's slightly spicy like your… um… garlic; it enhances the flavor of the meat." Randy was wondering how one could enhance the flavor of something that sounded inherently awful.

Ben was recording the process, so Randy wouldn't have to take notes. Badras added his vegetables and then pulled a large egg out of the refrigerator. The egg was double the size of the chicken eggs Randy and Ben were used to. "This is a dachou egg," he explained as he broke the shell and filled a frying pan that had been heated on the stove with the raw egg. He placed a piece of meat on a fork and offered it to Randy.

"No, really, I appreciate it, but it's just not my thing." Randy could almost smell the skunks that had lived in the woods on the farm where he grew up.

"You must eat what you cook to know it is done properly," Badras admonished him.

Randy knew the Draconian chef was right. Even though he wouldn't eat some of what he cooked as a meal, he would taste it as a chef, even if he thought it tasted like shit. Reluctantly, he took the fork, and placed it in his mouth, removing the fork and leaving the meat. Once again Ben was fighting laughter. 'The little shit is going to get his taste of this, too, whether he wants to or not,' Randy told himself.

He chewed it reluctantly and was ready to eat it so as not to insult Badras. He was ready to spit it out in the garbage if given the chance, but after one bite he knew he would not be spitting anything out. He wasn't about to admit it yet, but the meat not only didn't taste like a skunk smelled, it has a variety of amazing flavors that seemed to change with each chew.

"Well?" Badras asked as he dropped the remainder of the meat and vegetable plate into the frying pan as he cooked a Draconian omelet.

"It's good," Randy confessed. He could have used broader terms, but he wasn't ready to concede that he was wrong about the Draconian skunk meat.

Randy and Ben were impressed when Badras picked up the frying pan and flipped the large omelet. Randy was quite a skillful frying pan flipper, but he wasn't sure if he would have been as adept flipping something as big as the omelet. Ben, who was still learning the art of flipping was awestruck by how Badras tossed the omelet into the air and caught it adroitly in the pan.

He dished the omelet onto a plate and handed it to Randy. "Now taste the omelet. You will like, I know you will like."

After having tasted the meat, Randy wasn't about to argue with him. He grabbed a fork and fed himself a mouthful of omelet. He mmmmmm'd and almost purred as he tasted what may have been the best omelet he'd ever had. He handed the plate over to Ben. "Dude, you've got to taste this. Who wudda ever thunk it could be this good."

"No thanks," Ben replied instantly.

"That wasn't a suggestion, Ben," Randy said sternly. Ben then took a bite and, like Randy, fell in love with the changing flavors the dish provided. He looked at Randy and nodded his approval. Badras was beaming with pride when he saw how the two reluctant human cooks were enjoying their sample.

A shimasukanku omelet order arrived and the assistant handed Badras another sheet of meat to broil.

"Your turn," Badras told Randy.

With Ben taking over the vegetable slicing, Randy went to work. He remembered all of the steps and Badras helped Ben cut the proper amount of vegetables and helped Randy mete out the right quantity of spice. When flip time came, Randy looked at Badras, who nodded for him to go for it. Randy's prefect flip of the large omelet earned him applause from Ben.

Whit peeked into the kitchen and told Randy he was ready for breakfast. Randy asked Badras if he could cook up two omelets for them, which the chef did, using Ben as his assistant. Randy then went into the dining room to join Whit at a table.

"This isn't the skunk meat is it?" Whit asked when one of the servers and Ben brought out three omelets. Ben joined Randy and Whit at the table.

"No, this is shintamessinku… um… shimesitksu…" Randy stumbled.

As he took a big bite of his omelet, Ben said, "Shittymessku sounds good to me."

"Simisuqanto." Whit gave his try pronouncing the word a bit more serious effort than Ben had.

"Skunk!" Randy finally called out after swallowing his mouthful.

"You're joking. I can't eat this."

"Try it," Randy and Ben told him in unison.

Badras, who had walked out to check on the boys' reaction to their omelets, listened with amusement as the boys stumbled through their pronunciation of the word. "It is shimasukanku, or we just call it shimmy."

Whit decided he should make an effort to be a polite guest. He took a small bite and chewed tentatively. He then took a bigger bite and smiled as his palate was hit by the changing flavors. He smiled at Randy and said, "You got to figure out a way to get this shit on the Sooloo."

"Omelets for breakfast. Or, we could make skunk and eggs. Skunk burgers for lunch. And Badras says it makes a great dinner roast."

"You have just revolutionized eating in the Sooloo mess halls."

"Who knows, maybe I can invent some new skunk dishes."

"Why are you calling it skunk, when it's not a skunk?"

"Because trying to pronounce shimasukanku is a pain in the ass. Even the Draconians figured that out by calling it shimmy." Randy gave Badras his winning grin. "Shimmy works great." 

"I can provide you with 900 kiroguramujuu (equivalent to a kilogram) of shimmy. We keep it frozen for feasts, and it tastes almost as good as fresh," Badras offered.

"Great, you're on!" Randy gushed. "Logan and I will get together within the next couple of days to complete an official order. And, what kind of eggs are those?"

"And we can call it shimmy from now on, because what dork wants to eat skunk?" Ben asked.

"Not us," Randy answered as the three downed one of their best breakfasts of the entire trip.

0630

The Dining Hall had just officially opened, allowing the staff to have their breakfast before they started serving everyone else. Dave and Hal sat at a table, then Connor and Aiden entered. They asked if they could join Dave and Hal… and of course, were welcomed. After giving their order for their breakfast to the steward assigned to the dining room, Aiden turned to Dave.

"Sir, Connor and I wanted to talk to you about something… personal."

Dave smiled and replied, "First of all, if it's not official ship's business, you can forget the 'Sir' and secondly, what did you want to talk about?"

Connor picked up the discussion, "Well, Dave… Hal… as you probably know, Aiden and I have committed to each other and are planning on marrying. We had originally planned to wait a while and have you perform the ceremony, but in light of the offer made by King Zedrick, we have been considering getting married now."

Before Dave could respond, Aiden nervously added, "Not to mention, Dave, the little boy… Koji… I know he wants Kyle and Danny to adopt him, but if they, for some reason, don't want to, we wanted to let you know we'd be happy to adopt him and bring him up as our own. We are also considering an older boy named Juro."

Dave was all smiles. He turned to Hal who simply nodded. "Guys, first off, I think you two getting married now, here, on Darastix is a great idea. I have no idea what Kyle and Danny will say about Koji, but I think you two would make excellent parents for him if need be or Juro. So... officially, Commanders Marlin and Douglass, I give permission for you two to get married and adopt young Koji or Juro. There, the official part is done, from me, Dave, your friend, congratulations!"

Hal simply responded, "Absolutely, congratulations!"

Castle Grounds: Northwest Corner ~ 1300

DachouAfter lunch, the boys were playing kids games. Jordan and Jace told them if they stay within the castle grounds, they wouldn't need someone to watch over them. They agreed. As they were playing, Jason asked, "What are those birds over there?"

Koji was happy to reply, "Those are dachou. They lay the eggs that we had for breakfast. Want to pet one?"

"They look mean," Lars stated.

"Can we ride one?" Jonas inquired.

"They're not mean, but they won't let you ride 'em either. They will let you pet them."

As the boys approached the birds, they were surprised to see the king approaching them. "Boys," he called out. Once he was close enough, he added, "You boys saved my life yesterday. What would you like as a reward?"

"Can we go skinny-dipping? We like swimming with no clothes on." Jonas asked.

The King just chuckled and called a guard over. At first, Jonas thought he was in trouble for even asking, but then he heard the King tell the guard, "Take these boys to the pool. Make sure no one harasses them. They are permitted two hours of swimming without their clothes."

The boys were elated and followed the guard to the pool. They forgot all about wanting to pet a dachou.

Dave and Hal's Guest Quarters ~ 1900

Dave and Hal were relaxing after dinner in their temporary quarters. The guest residences at the palace on Darastix were opulent, much swankier than either of the two were used to. They were cuddling on the couch, just talking when the chime sounded.

Hal got up and answered the door finding Kyle and Danny there. "Come on in, how are you two enjoying our host's hospitality."

"Now that the attack is over, it's been great," Kyle started, a nervousness in his voice, "but there is something we need to talk to you and Dave about. Are you free for a few minutes?"

Hal smiled, he'd been expecting this, "Sure, come on in and have a seat."

As the pair approached where Dave was sitting, he stood and smiled, "Have a seat, guys. Can I get you a drink?"

This gave the younger pair a chance to breathe, "Sure," Danny stated, "I'd like some of that juice the Darastixians serve." Kyle agreed and asked for the same.

Dave got the drinks, handing one to each boy before asking, "So, what can we do for you?"

Kyle gulped down his nervousness, then looked at Dave and said, "Um… would you approve if Danny and me wanted to get married? The King said it can be done, but we wouldn't if you said no."

Dave smiled, "Hal and I have already spoken about this, and we approve of you two marrying. There is one more question, though."

Danny spoke up, "You mean if we want to adopt Koji?"

It was Hal's turn to smile, "Yes, how do you feel about that?"

"Scared shitless. We don't really know how to be parents. But if we can ask you two and maybe Jace and Jordan for help and advice… the little guy has already wormed his way into my heart… both of our hearts, actually." Kyle replied.

Danny nodded, signifying his agreement with his future husband.

"Well," Dave started, "I guess we can let his Majesty know there will be a wedding and an adoption."

3 October 2121

Dining Hall ~ 0515

Dave left early for the Dining Hall; he was hoping to speak with the King before breakfast. As he approached the Castle, the King was heading for the Dining Hall. "Dave, you passed the door."

"I was hoping to speak with you before we eat, Sire."

"If I am going to continue calling you Dave, I insist you call me Zedrick."

"But you are the King?"

"Does that make me any better than you? No, it just means I decide what I think is best for my people. I am not different than anyone else on this planet."

Dave nodded, "And that attitude is probably why your people love you so much."

"So, what did you want to see me about?"

"I have two couples wanting to get married…" Dave started.

"Make that three. I sense your Chief Science Officer is looking for you to get married as well."

"Okay, three couples wanting to get married. One is Kyle Robinson and Danny, and they want to adopt Koji."

"Yes, I knew they would even when they had doubts. They have my permission. We can do the weddings on the twenty-first and the adoptions on the twenty-second. Then, your ship will be ready on the twenty-third. If you wish, you may leave at that time, but you are welcome to stay as long as you like."

"I'll take that into consideration, but isn't this the third?"

"Perhaps on your calendar, but this is the seventeenth day of Gogatsu on ours. I guess on your calendar the weddings will be on the seventh, adoptions on the eighth and your ship will be ready on the ninth. Three days after will be Koji's seventh birthday."

"I'll let Kyle Robinson know that."

King Zedrick inquired, "Have Connor and Aiden discussed with you the adoption of Juro?"

"They have and would like to. But then, you knew they would; you said adoptions, not adoption, when discussing the dates."

"I did."

They walked to the dining hall and were met by Randy Thompson and Tom Kohl. "Captain," Randy got out.

"Dave," Dave returned, "if this isn't official ship business, call me Dave."

"Dave, Tom and I would like to…"

Dave interrupted him, "Permission granted and it's already set up."

"But we haven't even asked yet."

"Zedrick knew you were planning to and has already had everything planned. Are you planning to adopt, too?"

Tom was quick to reply, "Eventually, but not yet, we would like some time being just us before we do."

Danny and Kyle's Guest Quarters ~ 1600

"What do they mean we have to write wedding vows?" Kyle squawked. Danny was sitting next to Kyle on the double bed they'd created in their room, listening patiently to his best friend's rant. "No wonder kids our age aren't supposed to get married. That kind of shit is for adults!"

Danny decided it was time to calm Kyle down, something he had been quite adept at in the almost seven years they'd been friends. "It's the way it works, Kyle. Aiden and Conner will be doing the same thing, so it's not like we're being picked on or something. How about we say something quick and simple and then sit our asses back down as happily married husbands?"

"Yeah, sure, why not." Kyle gave Danny a cloying look and said in a treble sing-song voice, "I love you, Danny. I promise to love you forever." He then returned to his normal voice and said, "Short enough for you?"

Danny sat silently. He had learned that when dealing with one of Kyle's tangents the best thing to say was nothing. He wanted to tell Kyle that the vows were serious, and he should take them seriously, but he knew that he would just be adding fuel to Kyle's rant.

After ten seconds or so, Kyle broke the silence. "I suppose if I love you forever, I should promise to treat you right to show my love." This time Danny knew that the silence was Kyle working through things in his mind. "How about, I will always treat you the way I want to be treated?"

Danny was not surprised that Kyle was starting to get serious. He had known Kyle since they were almost six years old and quickly realized that when Kyle paused to think, his mind almost always focused on the task at hand. 

"I've got it," Kyle continued. "I love you, Danny Harper, like I love no other person in the galaxy. I promise to make every effort to always treat you the way I would want to be treated so our love will last forever." He looked to Danny for an opinion.

"It sounds really good to me. Just like you said, it's short and sweet and says everything important to me, except for one thing."

"What?"

"You should end it by promising not to scream every time you have an orgasm." Danny tried unsuccessfully to suppress a giggle.

"First, I thought we were supposed to take this seriously, and second, I am NOT a screamer."

"Brad says otherwise," Danny smirked.

"And as much as I love Brad, I can still say he's full of shit sometimes. Now, let's get this down so we can move on to something else." Kyle coughed to clear his throat and stood straight and proud. His treble voice rang with confidence as he started his recitation of the vow with a couple of slight changes. " Danny Harper, I have known and loved you since we were little five-year old boys. I love you like I love no other person in the galaxy. I promise to make every effort to always treat you the way I would want to be treated, to help our love grow and get better…no…um…to help our love grow and flourish forever." At that point he had to stifle a giggle of his own as Danny's screaming comment came to mind. "And if I lose it when we say the vow your ass will be in a sling. Now, it's your turn."

Danny reached out with both arms and Kyle followed suit. They took each other's hands into their own and looked straight into each other's eyes. "Kyle Robinson, I have known and loved you since we were little five-year old boys. I love you like I love no other person in the galaxy. I promise to make every effort to always treat you the way I would want to be treated, to help our love grow and flourish forever." Danny's voice, which had started changing since coming to Draconia, cracked in a couple of spots, something he hoped he could avoid when he recited the real vows at the wedding. He blamed the sudden change on the gravity, but knew it really was because he was growing up.

The smile he gave Kyle spoke of love from one corner of his mouth to the other. "Now, we drop our hands and kiss," Kyle whispered. He placed his lips against Danny's and kissed him hard. They wrapped their now free hands around each other and within seconds, they were side-by-side on the bed, kissing wildly, moving their hands inside each other's shirts and rubbing the warm, smooth skin of each other's bellies and chests. They wrestled each other, fondled each other, pulled off their shirts, pants and underwear, and took care of the intense desires their declaration of love had produced.

After the cum shot and the rage of hormones died down, they looked into each other's eyes, their naked bodies snuggled together. "I think just a kiss should be enough at the wedding," Danny grinned.

"Agreed, but not nearly as much fun," Kyle chuckled. "I love you Danny Harper."

"And I love you, Kyle Robinson, my best friend since I was a little shit, and soon to be my husband for life."

7 October 2121

Dracora Temple ~ 0900

Draconian Wedding Altar

Dave was standing at the front of the Temple, waiting for his Officers to make their way down the aisle. With having three couples, each couple walked down the aisle together. Dressed in a ceremonial kimono provided by the Draconians, Randy and Tom were the first couple, followed by Kyle and Danny, with Aiden and Connor finishing. As Kyle and Danny made their way, everyone could hear the voice of a boy shouting, "That's my daddies." Everyone chuckled, but Kyle and Danny started turning red.

Once all the couples were in their places, Jason, Jonas and Lars walked down the aisle carrying pillows with the rings. Once they reached the front, they each moved close to a couple.

"Since the days of the first ships, Captains have enjoyed the joining of two people together in the bonds of holy matrimony. There is no greater joy for a Captain than to unite members of his crew. Today, I have the privilege of presiding over the bonding of three couples. Normally this would need to be done aboard my ship, but King Zedrick has granted me special permission." Dave turned to Tom and Randy, "Tom?"

Tom turned to Randy, "Our love has grown like a wildfire. It was just a month ago that I attempted to make your birthday very special and you made my life so much more special. In this short time, I discovered that I desire to spend the rest of my life with you. I promise to love you in sickness and in health and to be there for you no matter what life sends our way."

Randy didn't wait to be cued, "Tom, after my party was done, everyone went about their busy lives, that is, everyone but you. You made my birthday the best one that I've ever had. Since that day, we have moved closer and closer together. In a time when I thought we were all going to die, my only thought and concern was for you. I knew at that time without any doubt that I wanted to marry you. I love you now and forever. I will do my best to show you in every way possible how much I love you."

Dave turned to King Zedrick who turned to Danny and Kyle. He spoke softly, "Today also marks an important day for the Darastixian people, Danieru and Kairu, having helped fulfill an ancient prophecy. I have already granted honorary Darastixian citizenship to Kyle, but I hereby decree that Daniel is as well. So, Congratulations to my two newest subjects, Danieru and Kairu... Would you like to say your vows?" Once they recited the vows they came up with, they started to kiss. In a hushed voice, Dave admonished them, "We aren't to the kissing yet." The boys separated and blushed a second time during this ceremony.

Dave turned to Connor and Aiden. Connor turned to Aiden with tears in his eyes. "Aiden, before this grand adventure we're on was even a possibility, I felt so alone. I hoped and prayed that I could find someone to be a friend. What I found was so much more. When we met the first time, I was drawn to you. As time has gone by since, you have become one of the reasons I draw breath each and every day. My love for you has no bounds. Here, on this beautiful planet, it's warmth mirrors the warmth I have in my heart for you. I vow, from this day forward, to try to be the warmth in your heart. I will cherish our every moment together, even if we have reason to argue. I love you now and will love you until one of us draws his last breath and beyond."

Aiden, without being prompted, took his hand and caressed Connor's cheek. Leaving it there, he said, "Connor, as with you, my life was empty before we met. Since, you have filled my life with joy and my heart with happiness. We had decided to wait to marry until we were older, but this opportunity presenting itself was, in my heart and soul, a sign that we were destined for each other. I will be at your side, at least in my heart if not physically, for the remainder of my days. I want to build a life with you, a family with you. I vow to love, honor, and cherish you from now until the ending of the universe."

After the vows were said, Dave asked one person from each couple to take their ring and place on their husband's finger. "Do you, Tom, Kyle and Connor take Randy, Danny and Aiden, respectively, to be your lawfully wedded husband?"

In unison, the three boys replied, "I do."

Dave asked the other three to take the rings and do likewise. As they slid the rings on, he asked, "Do you Randy, Danny and Aiden take Tom, Kyle and Connor, respectively to be your lawfully wedded husband?"

"I do," the boys replied.

"I now pronounce you husband and husband, husband and husband, and husband and husband. Now, you may kiss," Dave chuckled.

Danny and Kyle's Guest Quarters ~ 1200

Danny and Kyle heard a knock on the door of their room. "That must be them," Kyle said.

Danny got up to answer the door; he tried to keep Kyle's efforts to a minimum whenever possible. Zarek stood at the door holding young Koji's hand. "Good to see you both," Danny grinned as he ushered the guest in.

Koji wrapped his arms around Danny, looked up at him, and said, "Hi, Daddy." He then hopped to the bed where Kyle was sitting, sat next to him, and gave him a hug and a greeting as well.

"Hi, Koji," Kyle said. "We're happy to see you." He smiled at the little boy whose face was impassive.  "Can you give us a smile—you look like you're not happy to see us." Koji maintained his expressionless look. Kyle wrapped his arm around the boy's shoulder. Kyle felt not only his thinness but his strength.

"Thank you for bringing him, Zarek," Danny said.

"I was honored to do so. Koji helped save the life of my father and has become a little hero to all of us," Zarek replied.

Danny joined Kyle and Koji on the bed, sitting so Koji was between him and his husband. "Please, sit down, Zarek." Danny pointed to the chairs and table across the room from the bed.

"I believe what will be said here is very private; I will wait outside. Call me when you have finished, and you can then tell me what you wish." Zarek gave the three young boys a quick bow of his head and left the room.

Koji moved his head from side to side, looking from Kyle to Danny. He repeated the action twice and was feeling afraid and intimidated.

"Did Zarek tell you why we wanted to see you?" Kyle asked. He and Danny had requested that Zarek keep the purpose of the meeting a secret, but that they also trusted his judgement if he felt Koji needed to know.

"No, but I am a-scared."

"There's no reason for you to be afraid. You were at the ceremony when Danny and I were married, so you know what we did there."

"You are my daddies," Koji cracked a smile for the first time since he entered the room.

"Yep, we heard you say that, Koji, and it made Kyle and me really happy," Danny assured him. He didn't mention that he had also caused the two of them a slight bit of embarrassment. He could see that Koji was uneasy and didn't want to add to any distress he had, especially since Koji's enthusiastic shout had given them a happy feeling.

"I know you've heard a lot of talk about being adopted," Kyle said.

"Aiden and Connor and Miss Dewel and Zarek said it is when I get parents who want to have me," Koji told Kyle and Danny in the precise voice young children often used in order to show they were certain about their answer. "And I have to want them to be my daddies."

"Do you like Aiden and Connor?" Danny asked.

Koji scrunched up his face. He wondered what all the questions meant. Didn't his daddies want him? Finally, he answered in a loud, confident voice. "I like Aiden and Connor who are nice to me. But I love my daddies and they are not my daddies. I want to live with my daddies."

"Which means you want to live with Danny and me, right?" Kyle chided himself for stating the obvious and for treating Koji like a little kid who didn't really know what he wanted. He knew Koji was more than just a little kid. He knew Koji was a bright boy, a brave boy, a boy, who, like himself, had a connection to the stars. He was a boy who might seem childish at times because he was a child, and yet he was a boy who was so much more and had to be respected as such. Kyle knew it was time for him to treat Koji the way he deserved to be treated.

"Danny and I want to be your daddies for real. We want for you to live with us and grow up with us," Kyle told his future son.

"You are my daddies for real, just like my real daddy was my daddy for real, though I never knew him. Danny daddy flies just like my real daddy so that means Danny daddy is even realer." Koji gave Danny a kiss on his cheek.

"To make it really real, Danny and I have to get permission to adopt you and sign things and do things to make it all official and, um, really real and realer."

"Koji will live with you," Koji said. He sometimes spoke of himself in third person when he felt stress, tension, or exceedingly happy, which was how he was feeling now. Danny and Kyle both felt Koji's happiness just from the glow on the face that had been so serious and impassive just minutes ago.

"When Kyle said we wanted you to grow up with us he meant that we will be your daddies, but we're boys like you," Danny said in an uncharacteristically long speech. "That means while you are growing up, we are growing up." Danny was reiterating some of what Hal had told him during a short discussion Hal had had with him and Kyle.

"Things will change a lot for everybody," Kyle added. Koji didn't understand the gist of what Danny had said, but he did understand that everybody was growing up. He knew from his time in the orphanage that growing up happened to all boys, so he questioned what difference it made to him and his daddies.

The three boys sat in silence. Kyle and Danny were starting to feel out their element and were wondering, not for the first time, if they were doing the right thing. Koji wondered why his daddies were telling him things he didn't understand. Why didn't they all just go where they had to go to make things official.

Kyle was unsure of what to say next, so he said the first thing that popped into his mind. "You know that when we adopt you, you will be leaving your home."

Koji only half heard what Kyle said. His attention was focused on a little black and white stuffed creature on one of the nightstands. He didn't know what the creature with the funny green cap was or why it was talking inside of his head. 'Show them who YOU really are,' the voice said. 'Show them ALL of you, like when you go skinny dip. Show them your HOME.'

Koji kicked off his sandals and stood up. He then pulled off his shirt.

"What are you doing, Koji?" Kyle asked.

The little boy ignored him as he stepped out of his shorts and then his blue underpants. He stood in front of his daddies as naked as the day he was born and frightened beyond belief as he hoped the voice was not lying to him. Danny and Kyle shared a look of total confusion. They had no idea why Koji had stripped naked and waited for an explanation.

Instead of explaining, Koji walked to the nightstand and gently picked up the penguin. "Meg---rez said to," Koji whispered in answer to Kyle's earlier question. "He said for Koji to show all." He pointed to his naked body and repeated the thought in his head that in his own way he fully agreed with. "This is Koji, and Koji is home." Then he pointed to Kyle and Danny and then pointed to Megrez.

'Join your son, show him our real selves as he showed you his. Be brave as your son was brave. Show him how you love and trust him and how you are one with the stars.'  Kyle was as surprised by the wordiness of Megrez and the stars as he had been by Danny's speech. There was now only one thing he could do; he started to strip.

"Kyle, what…?" Danny asked in shock.

"You, too," Kyle whispered. It then occurred to Danny that the mysterious stars had to be at work here, so he joined his husband and stripped. The three boys stood naked and admired each other's beauty and each other's real home. That home was their bodies and the beauty of the souls that lived inside that home.

Koji gave Danny a tight hug. "I love you, daddy."

Danny kissed his soon-to-be son on his forehead. "I love you, Koji." Koji and Kyle repeated the hug and kiss, but Kyle didn't let go of his warm and oh so special son.

"Koji, my beautiful son, who I love so much, you are home. Danny and I, we are your home and you are part of our home." Kyle had no idea where those words came from, but he knew they were as true as anything he had ever spoken. Danny stepped over and joined the hug and the love and became part of the special warmth that flowed through the room. Kyle, Danny, and Koji knew in their youth and confidence and unconditional love that they were in the right place with the right people at the right time. They were a family and when they were together they would always be home.

Aiden and Connor's Guest Quarters ~ 1200

Aiden and Connor, still dressed in their ceremonial Kimono entered their guest quarters. The room had been decorated in Darastixian Royal Blue with Gold accents. A table had been set up with food and drink. There was very relaxing Darastixian music playing from some unknown source. The lighting was subdued, but they could still see easily.

They went to the couch and sat. Connor leaning into his new husband's chest and they merely held one another. No words were said… not yet. They just wanted to bask in the love they shared. Maybe thirty minutes later, Connor stood, held out his hand to his husband who grasped it. Together they walked to their bed.

Aiden silently began to remove Connor's Kimono, allowing it to fall to the floor. He gazed at his now naked husband and a tear fell from his eye. "You are just so beautiful… I am the luckiest guy in the entire galaxy."

Connor reached over and caressed his husband's face, wiping away the tear. He undressed his husband, also allowing his Kimono to fall gracefully to the ground. They embraced and kissed. Their bodies melting against each other, trying to become one. Without thought, the two bodies glided toward the bed and next they knew both were lying side-by-side, never having broken the kiss.

Over the next several hours, Connor and Aiden made love. They'd had sex before, but the feeling each experienced in this particular instance far surpassed everything they had felt for each other prior. After Aiden left more of his essence inside his husband, the two rolled onto their backs. They lay there for a time before Connor said, "Tomorrow morning we will be a family of three. I am so excited. It's like every dream I ever had is coming true."

Aiden smiled and said, "This far exceeds even my wildest imagination, Babe. Juro is such a sweet boy, he's intelligent, good looking, and I can tell, a loving soul. I just hope we can live up to the example of his heroic father."

They held one another once again, basking in the love they shared. Connor, ever thinking, stated, "He's older than the other four, almost as old as Kyle and Danny. Do you think he may want to be more than just a child on the Sooloo?"

"Shhh… let's not worry about that yet. As King Zedrick has said, things will happen as they are supposed to happen. We just need to follow our hearts, and everything will work as it should."

The two got out of bed, not bothering to dress and sat at the table where the food had been placed. They shared a meal, feeding each other. Once sated, they retired back to their bed for another round of lovemaking.

They must have lost track of time because there was a knock on the door.  When Aiden got out of bed, not bothering to dress and opening the door unconcerned in his nakedness he saw Dave was standing there with King Zedrick. Aiden bade them to enter.

"The adoption is in thirty minutes." Dave announced.

Aiden looked at Connor, each with a shocked expression. They'd stayed up all night making love. Both giggled before Connor said, "We'll just take a fast shower and get dressed. Feel free to sit and relax."

"We still have another couple to make sure are awake and ready, so we'll see you at the Hall of Records when you're ready." And with that, Dave and Zedrick left.

Connor led Aiden to the shower and the pair washed each other lovingly. They didn't take time for other concerns that happened to pop-up during their shower. Once they had finished cleaning each other, they stepped out, dried one another and dressed. They had a son to adopt. Hand-in-hand they left their suite confidently, very much in love.

Randy Thompson and Tom Kohl's Guest Quarters ~ 1300

Randy and Tom went back to the quarters they were sharing in Yodisha Prefecture. Though their surroundings were the epic paradise, they didn't care. They went in their quarters, slipped off their sandals at the door, blacked out their windows and put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. Randy looked at Tom and declared, "I believe the blood thinners are wearing off. I don't think Dr. Tom expected us to be here this long when he gave the injections, and I am definitely getting aroused."

"I think you're right. Just looking at you, knowing you are now my husband, I am definitely feeling the stirrings in my loins," Tom acknowledged as he moved closer to his new husband.

Tom gave Randy a quick kiss then slipped off his kimono. Randy put his hands upon Tom's shoulders, then slipped Tom's kimono off. After some hugging and kissing, Tom reached over and untied Randy's hakama, the pants of the kimono. With nothing holding them in place, they fell to the floor, leaving Randy completely naked. Tom took a deep breath as he admired the naked form of his husband.

Randy pulled Tom close and pressed his lips to Tom's. As they kissed, Randy untied Tom's hakama. Once Tom's hakama dropped, they moved to the bed. For a long time, they just lay there holding each other.

Tom finally broke the silence, "Do you regret me not wanting to adopt a Draconian child? At least not yet?"

"Babe, we are still getting to know each other. Do I wish we could adopt one? Eventually, but as you said, we need some time to ourselves first. Perhaps if we are ever back in this area, we can talk to Dave about borrowing a shuttle, or something to come back. Or perhaps when we visit another planet."

"Perhaps… part of me does want to adopt one of these orphans."

Randy caressed Tom's cheek, "We can talk to Dave and get his advice, but for now, I want to explore your body."

Tom chuckled, "Take me, I'm yours… but when you are done, I will have my way with you."

"I love you, Tom."

8 October 2121

Draconian Hall of Records ~ 0800

Dave wasn't required to be there, but he joined Kyle, Danny, Connor and Aiden at the Hall of Records. Signing the papers was just a formality, but everything had to be done properly. King Zedrick brought the boys, Koji and Juro.

The recorder asked, "Since the King already approved the adoptions, I will be handling the filing. Before you sign these papers, are you sure you wish to adopt Koji? Will you treat him as though he is your flesh and blood, and meet all his needs?"

"Yes, of course," Kyle responded. Danny smiled and nodded his head.

"Koji, do you want these two to adopt you and be your daddies?"

"They are my daddies," Koji insisted.

Turning back to Kyle and Danny, the recorder explained, "Place your thumb here to digitally sign the adoption form. Once you do so, Koji will officially be your son."

As Kyle went to "sign," Koji grabbed his hand, "What are you doing, Daddy?"

"I'm making it official that I am your daddy," Kyle sniffled. Koji squealed. Kyle placed his thumb where he was told, and then Danny did.

The recorder turned to Connor and Aiden. Before she could ask her questions, Connor stated, "We are positive that we want Juro as our son."

"Juro?"

"They aren't my dad, but since he is gone…" Juro started crying and hugged Aiden. Aiden put his arms around the boy.

"That tells me what I need to know, if you'll place your thumbs here."

Connor and Aiden looked at the screen before placing their thumbs to sign. They looked perplexed and asked, "Konaa and Eiden? Who are they and why aren't our names there?"

King Zedrick chuckled, "Those are your Draconian names. It is our way of honoring you for accepting the task of raising Juro in place of his honored father." Satisfied with the King's response, they placed their thumbs where indicated.

9 October 2121

This had certainly been an interesting stop on their voyage. First being attacked, rescued, and attacked again; then the outpouring of friendship from the Darastixian people. Three couples from his crew married and two of them adopted Darastixian boys.

Young Koji was to have a birthday in a few days, but the ship was ready, and he wasn't sure he should delay their departure.

Dave approached Zedrick, "Zedrick, our ship's repairs have been completed, but I am troubled. I want to allow Koji to celebrate his last birthday on his home planet, but I am not sure I should delay our voyage any longer. I seek your advice."

Zedrick turned to him and replied, "If you need my advice, Dave, then you shall have it. Our prophecy stated the number of days the ship of the stars would stay with us. By that reckoning, you should stay with us another three days."

Dave was taken aback. If the stars said it, he didn't DARE go against it. For all he knew, if he tried to leave earlier, the ship might not even start. Instead he invited King Zedrick, and anyone he wished to invite, to a tour of the Sooloo.

The Darastixians had made many improvements to the ship. Her hull was now completely made of the alloy the Darastixians use for their ships. Her hull was 300% stronger and only 40% of the original weight. They had assisted in fine-tuning the engines even further after the implementation of Zorn's adjustments. They had taken on a load of fresh and frozen foods from Darastix, including 900 pounds of Shimmy meat.

It was agreed that there would be a celebration on the planet for Koji's birthday. Dave sent Steve Boyer to the planet to coordinate the arrangements.

 

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End Notes:

This work is a collaboration of 3 authors. We will be posting chapters of this story as we are able. When commenting, please cc all three authors. Authors of Voyagers