With help from the "Terrific Trio," Kyle was able to rescue the Shuttle from the Rift. Lars gave Dave a note, which Dave wadded up. Later, Dave read the note and was able to get back control of the ship.
Kyle noticed a discrepancy with a star he was viewing and what was supposed to be there. The star was Alpha Draconis in the Draco constellation. They set course to investigate.
Randy was getting ready to say more, but Aiden Douglass called out, "We are being attacked! They came out of nowhere; shields are up!"
The first hit shook the ship and Aiden called out, "Shields are down to 85%."
"Try contacting them, and if you can't, can you get a lock on them?" Dave inquired. "Try to take out their weapons array."
"Negative, that ship is not responding to our hails, but is maneuvering around us like a butterfly. She's faster and more agile than we are, Sir. Shields are down to 70%."
"Send out a general distress call and keep trying to hail them. If you manage to get any lock on that ship, take a shot. We will not go down without a fight."
As the ship shook violently again, Randy Jenkins yelled, "FUCK!!! I just got done cleaning up the buffet from the last time. I wish whoever was flying this ship knew what they were doing."
Logan chuckled, "I hate to tell you this, but Kyle Robinson is at the astrogation table."
"What? Then why are we shaking so much?"
"From what I hear, we are being attacked."
Randy looked down, "Well, if we don't shake apart, we may have invented some new dishes. The roast duck fell into the chili, and pepper jack cheese is melting all over the sirloin and mushrooms."
"My Cherry Cobbler fell into the cheesecake ice cream. It may not be exactly what we planned, but I believe everyone will like it," Logan offered.
Several hits later, Aiden warned, "We are down to 10% shield. Next hit will leave us without shields. More ships are coming…"
The crew of the Sooloo held their breath as they watched the new arrivals attack the ship that had been attacking them. Some of these boys were crying, afraid they were going to die, and their tears turned to cries of relief. It was only five minutes since ships came to their aid, but it felt like an eternity before the first ship took off. Aiden declared, "Sir, our rescuers would like to talk."
"Put them on screen." Once Aiden did, Dave spoke, "I am Captain David Bowman of the Earth Vessel SS Sooloo."
"Glalkat (" Draconian Greeting "), Captain, I am Meagear (" Meagear means Commander in the Draconian Tongue ") Endou Takumi of the Royal Darastixian Fighter Squadron. It is nice to see Earth has progressed to this point. When I was there last, they barely even knew about gunpowder."
"Thank you for coming to our aid. We were hoping to visit Draconia…"
"Let us escort you. The planet you call Draconia is Darastix in our native tongue. I'm sure King Zedrick will want to greet you personally. Your ship has taken heavy damage. With your permission, I would like for you to dock in one of our repair docks and we will assist with repairs."
"I would like that; the way she is right now, we may be limping home… that is, if that other ship doesn't attack us again."
"I am sure the King will grant me permission to escort you to safety when you are ready to leave."
The Sooloo was crippled and barely moving, so the Commander offered to extend his shields around the Sooloo and power her in with his ship. "Just leave your controls alone until you are ready to dock, or you may break the connection; you will need to assist with docking." Meagear Endou advised.
As the ship was being towed into a space dock, the Senior Staff discussed their concerns, the atmosphere and gravity of Draconia. Dr. Tom advised, "With the heavier gravity, you will tire faster. Captain, you should weigh about forty pounds more while you are on the surface. I advise thinning our blood while we are here. It will help with the delivery of oxygen."
Dave acknowledged with a nod, then asked, "Aside from the heavier gravity, does anyone else have any concerns?"
Connor spoke up, "With the noticeable amount of sulfur being almost 5% in the atmosphere, will it smell like rotten eggs?"
Everyone made a face as Dave answered, "I honestly don't know, but if it does, try not to let it bother you, they may take offense to it."
Hal spoke, "These people seem to be very friendly. I advise just a hint of caution."
Aiden just returned from his shift and sat on the bed. Connor came in shortly after, "What the hell happened? All I could see was our shields going down quickly, with each time the ship shook."
Aiden was visibly shaking, "We were attacked. I'm not sure who attacked us, but just before we lost all of our shielding, some ships came to our rescue."
Connor sat on the bed and draped an arm around his love, "We knew this was a possibility, but that doesn't make it any easier, does it?"
"No, but I feel better, now that you are here holding me."
"Man, I thought sure we were going to die. If the Draconians didn't come rescue us, we probably would have," Randy quivered as he laid on the bed with Tom straddling him, massaging his back.
"Yeah, Connor and I were doing everything we could in engineering to keep shields up. I'm just glad we didn't know a hundred percent what was happening. You are tense."
"It got me thinking," Randy started to turn under Tom so that he could look him in the eye. "I want to ask Dave how long until we can get married."
"Are you sure?" Tom was surprised. "I mean, we've only dated a little more than three weeks. If you are serious, then I accept, but do we really know each other enough to get married?"
"Tom, when I thought we were going to die, all that ran through my head was a desire to hold you. Admittedly, some people may think we are moving too fast, but I know you are the one I want to be with for the rest of my life."
"That's how I feel, too," Tom lowered his head so his and Randy's lips touched.
Meagear Endou met Dave and his entire senior staff at the landing pads. The "Terrific Trio" were allowed to join them. Dave felt weird not leaving any Senior Officers on the Sooloo, but there was little to do while in space dock and he felt he could trust his hosts. And as the highest ranking junior officer, Lt. Commander Steve Boyer was left in charge by Dave. Everyone loaded into the vehicles provided.
Endou led them across a bridge lined with concrete dragons on the sides. Lars and the twins marveled at the Blue Dragon going up a tower. As they travelled, Kyle noticed the emblem on the flags and many banners looked very close to the emblem on the telescope Zorn had given him.
As they approached the King, Endou spoke first, "Sire, when the Earth vessel approached our planet, they were attacked."
"Attacked, by who?"
"I believe they were Lizons, Sire," Endou replied. "At least the ship looked like one of theirs."
"Lizons? I thought they died out during the war over two hundred years ago. I haven't seen one since."
Jonas looked at the King, "You're over two hundred years old?"
"I was nineteen when I fought in that bloody war. We lost over a million good men in the thirty years we fought, but the Lizons lost nearly ten times as many. We didn't want to fight, but they kept invading us." King Zedrick then turned to Captain Bowman, "We will gladly assist you with repairs, but I hope you don't mind using what you would probably call Draconium instead of Terran steel."
"Actually, the hull is alumitanium, a synthetic compound that is light like aluminum but as strong as titanium. How would Draconium compare to that?" Dave inquired.
The King smiled, "It is ten times as strong as any metal that was on Terra two hundred years ago, half the weight of aluminum and will last ten times as long steel. If you have a Terran diamond, I could plunge a pin right through it without breaking the diamond."
With an impressed look on his face, Dave replied, "I definitely don't see an issue with that. Too bad the entire hull can't be replaced with it."
"Well most of it already needs repairing; we can replace it all if you have the time. It'll take us about five days to make just the repairs, and only eight days total to replace the entire hull. Your ship will be much lighter, making it faster and more agile as well."
"You can replace the hull that fast?" Again, Dave was impressed.
"Just leave whatever amount of crew on board that you feel comfortable with, and the rest may enjoy the pleasures of Darastix. Switch them out as you normally would so that all may visit. I hope that all may enjoy the hospitality of Darastix, but not to a point that causes uneasiness."
Dave spoke up, "I appreciate your hospitality, Sire. We barely know you or your people, yet you've come to our aid and…"
"I understand, Captain, or you prefer Dave," the King interrupted. "I sense your uneasiness and can assure you that we mean you and your crew no harm."
Dave started thinking… with the rescue, the Draconians had proven their ability. If they wanted to harm his crew, they could have.
King Zedrick looked at Kyle but offered all of them, "Would you like to join me in the Observatory? We have seven ancient telescopes that I am sure Commander Robinson will find fascinating." Kyle looked at Dave as the Captain agreed.
King Zedrick took the senior officers to the top floor of the Observatory. Kyle noticed the ancient telescopes that matched his. "Sire," he started, "I have a telescope that looks just like this one. Zorn, a Sinocardian gave it to me, and I noticed the symbol on the case was almost like your flag."
"A Sinocardian?" the King pondered, "Allow me to share with you the history of these telescopes. We don't know how true this is, but it is commonly believed. Many, many einens (" Einen is Draconian for many years. ")ago, like ten thousand einen ago, a star came to our planet and took the form of a dragon. He said his name was Megrez." That caught Kyle's attention as the King continued, "He made eight of these telescopes and said that they were magical. If you truly believe in the stars, you will see things that no one else can see."
Kyle interrupted, "I believe, and I can tell you it's true for me."
Dave assured, "Kyle had been communing with the stars since he was very young. Thanks to that telescope, he led a group who rescued us from being trapped in a rift."
"I'm glad it helped," the King stated, then continued, "Two thousand einen ago, we sent a ship on a mission. We were never sure what caused it, but that ship crashed into the planet Sinocar, or at least, that is how we referred to the planet back then. It may have changed names by now. We had attempted many trips to rescue what was lost, but the stars would not allow us. My great-great- grandfather claimed that Megrez spoke to him. Megrez cried to him, 'All personnel died on impact; what a sad loss, but they didn't suffer. There are items that needed to stay there, so please leave it be.' At that point, King Kairu, which would translate to Kyle in Terran English, ended the rescue missions. I find it interesting that you and my great-great-grandfather have the same names. I believe Megrez orchestrated all of this. One of those items was the telescope you now own."
"Wow, that is really interesting. I think you're totally right about Megrez, ... um ... Sire," Kyle said excitedly before putting the brakes on in his youthful enthusiasm. Kyle took a deep breath and went on. "A lot of strange things have been happening around him. Would you like the telescope back?" he asked in a more subdued voice. "I mean, I would love to keep it, but it rightfully belongs to you." Kyle felt obligated to ask the question, but he desperately hoped the King would allow him to keep the prized instrument.
"No Kyle, I believe Megrez made that one for you. It is yours. If you look on the side of the lens, you will see the letters 'KR.' We had no idea what they stood for, the pilot who died on Sinocar was named Eitaro. Being you are a child of the stars, I would like to make you an honorary Darastixian. (" Darastix is the Draconian word for Dragon or Draconia; a Darastixian is another name for a Draconian. ")"
Kyle couldn't help but grin, "I've never noticed the letters there, I'll have to look."
"It is on the objective lens, not the eyepiece, and you may need to turn the telescope over. Some reason, Megrez put your initials on it. And that was the only telescope to be given letters, too," the King averred.
Jace joked, "I may have to start calling you Kairu."
"And you are half Darastixian," Zedrick stated, looking at Jace.
Jace nodded, "Yes Sire, I am, but we've been calling it Draconian."
Zedrick smiled, "That is the correct Terran term for us. In your language, it IS Draconian, but in Dragon tongue, it is Darastixian. If you would like to go with one of my sons, he would like to explain everything you may go through."
"Can my husband and boys join us?"
"Ah yes, you have a husband. Odd for a Terran Vessel, how old are you?" the King inquired.
"I will be sixteen on my next birthday, but special permission was granted."
"All is good, it's just that you look so young, even by our standards, but here, we do allow marriage at thirteen. In fact, I am sensing some of you wanting to marry. Connor and Aiden, if your Captain will permit it, you may marry while you are here, and he can even perform the ceremony, provided I give permission," the King chuckled at the last part. "I sense others wanting to marry as well. Kyle is technically too young, but if he were to ask, I might allow it."
Connor and Aiden looked at each other in surprise… a pleasant surprise. All the officers considering marriage had a surprised look on their faces. How did he know?
Kyle thought back to his conversation while en route to Draconia. Was he still not ready to get married with this opportunity before him, or had he changed his mind. If they were going to stay on the planet for eight days, he had time to consider his options. Would marriage really change what they had, or how will it affect them? He would need to have a serious talk with Danny before fully deciding. What if Danny wanted to get married now?
As Kyle was thinking about his options, a boy appearing to be five years old came running into the Observatory and hugged his leg. As soon as the boy latched on to him, Kyle looked down. In a squeaky voice, the boy asked, "Are you my daddy?"
"Koji!" King Zedrick spoke sharply, "you know you should be with Miss Dewel." The boy looked sad as he nodded his head. Then in a softer tone, the King ordered the boy, "Let her know that you will be with me and you may join us."
As the boy scurried off, the King explained, "Koji's father was a fighter pilot. He had an accident about a week before the boy was born and he didn't survive. His mother named him Koji, which means 'Little One,' or 'Little Blessing' in your language. Then she died last year leaving Koji as a kojaku, or orphan. I feel he was hoping one of you would accept him as your son."
Jace, Jordan and Prince Zarek, the King's eldest son, were walking by the koi ponds, "Grandfather brought these back from Edo."
"So, these fish are over two hundred years old?" Jordan inquired.
"I suppose that does seem like a stretch, but the lineage goes back that long. I wouldn't be surprised if some have lived that long, if not longer. We don't have the harsh radiation as Terra receives from your sun."
"So, I know thanks to the Draconian lineage, I will live for a long time…" Jace started.
"How long until you turn sixteen?" Zarek inquired, but then answered, "seven months and eleven days."
"How did you know that?" Jace was stunned.
"Full Darastixians are full telepathic, usually from the age of thirteen. I turned sixteen about five months ago. Those that are half-blood will be telepathic, just not complete. Some races may be hard to read. You should start experiencing the ability any time, with reaching your full potential by your next birthday. At first, you will sense emotions."
Jordan commented, "When Jace told his dad that we were a couple, I thought his eyes turned red. That was just how the lights hit them, right?"
"Not if he was mad. When a Darastixian, or I'm gonna say Draconian since that is what you know us by, gets upset, his eyes turn red. The brighter red his eyes are, the madder he is."
"I've never seen Jace's eyes turn red. They have always been a pale blue."
Zarek smiled, "You cause that. He is very happy in your presence and his eyes are that shade because he loves you."
Jace gave Jordan a kiss, "See what you do to me? You keep me calm."
"Pappy's eyes were red when we were in that evil place," Jason blurted.
Jace looked down, "They were?"
Zarek looked at Jason, "Wh… wha… what's your last name?"
Jace was curious as Jason replied, "Blackwell-Rivers."
"No, I mean before you were adopted…" a worried look appeared on Zarek's face.
"Medici, why?" Jonas answered.
"I need to speak to my father right away," Zarek responded as he took to a sprint back towards the castle.
King Zedrick was having a private chat with Dave when Zarek came running in. "Father, I'm sorry for interrupting, but this is important."
King Zedrick looked at Dave, "Can we chat later? My son wouldn't interrupt, normally." Dave just nodded his head so Zedrick instructed his son to explain what was on his mind.
"I believe the prophecy is coming true," Zarek declared.
"Which one?" Zedrick asked.
"The one about Dracora's descendants, the twins coming. Wasn't one of Dracora's children Medici?"
Dave piped up, "Jordan and Jace's boys were named Medici before they were adopted."
"Exactly," Zarek commented, "And they are full-blooded Darastixians."
"Full-blooded? Does that mean there are still full-blooded Draconians on Earth?" Dave couldn't believe his ears. "I thought Draconians all had dark hair."
"Apparently, or at least their parents were. Dracora was the only blond Darastixian, but the prophecy…"
"What exactly is the prophecy?" Jace asked as he came in.
"The main part of it is, 'In a time when everything appears prosperous, an ancient enemy shall rise and attack at the heart of the great nation. The King shall fall if this prophecy is not heeded. Four boys, two descending from the goddess Dracora and the third, a star child, shall rescue the great nation. The fourth will be a Kojaku. Heed what the stars tell you through these boys for the very Nation depends upon it.' If you read the rest of the text around the prophecy, it explains that the descendants were twins, but one would have blond hair like Dracora."
"So, Jordan's and my boys are descendants of your goddess?" Jace seemed confused.
Zedrick went on to explain how Dracora became a goddess, how she sacrificed her life to save the Darastixians. He explained how when Dracora was twenty-three, the planet was attacked. Dracora had never fought before but was willing to defend her people. When she was killed, the people rose up and defeated those who would have enslaved them. The stars took pity on Dracora and returned her to life but in the sky as a goddess. She had two sons at the time of her death, the oldest is the head of the line for our Royal family, and the younger was Medici. That would explain the attack on your ship."
"So, what can we do to help?" Dave asked.
"Truthfully? Just be here so the prophecy can be true. We now understand who Dracora's descendants are, is the other boy…"
"You mean our son, Lars?" Hal inquired as he put an arm around Dave.
The King nodded, "Yes, could he be the child of the stars?"
"I suppose it's possible, the stars did use him," Kyle replied.
A serious look on his face, King Zedrick stated, "The Child of the Stars could be him or you, Mr. Robinson. Obviously, Koji would be the kojaku. Unless anyone has a problem with it, he should play with the other three until all becomes clear."
Dave looked at Kyle, "He seems drawn to you, can you take Koji and the trio to play?"
As much as Kyle loved the Terrific Trio, he wanted to deal with them on his own terms, not as an assigned babysitter. And at five years old, Kyle thought Koji was too young for him to relate to, which made him even more resentful of his assignment.
"What are we going to do first, Unka Kyle?" Jonas asked.
"We're going to ride on the Tube to the Spaceport to meet Danny," Kyle replied. The Tube was a high-speed subway system that crisscrossed the capital city. The few places that were above ground were clear tubes, giving it its name. The Sooloo crew had been given a map of the system and instructions on how to ride. They were also given tap cards, courtesy of King Zedrick, which were good for unlimited rides. The Spaceport had a larger launchpad to accommodate the size of larger shuttles such as the Bubbas.
"Oh, awesomely goodie," Lars said, mixing up his words of excitement some. Lars had watched the trains whooshing through the Tube that was exposed. "I was hoping we'd get to ride. And then what do we do?"
"What do you want to do?" Kyle hoped one of the trio had a preference. He felt too tired to decide.
Lars pulled out his pocket computer and brought up the map of the city that had been downloaded to every member of the Sooloo's contingent. "We could go to the big park and there's a lake there where we could skinny dip."
Kyle liked the idea of skinny-dipping but wasn't sure what the inhabitants of Draconia would say, "I think we should wait until our next holodeck adventure," he said warily.
"But the next time we get to skinny dip, right?" Jonas asked eagerly.
"Promise?" Jason pleaded.
"And you and Unka Danny and Unka Brad and Unka Steve and Koji all skinny dip too, right?" Lars asked.
"You guys know how the ship works. It will be me and somebody depending on the duty schedules." Kyle couldn't wait to get back aboard the Sooloo. The heavy gravity was wearing him down, even after all the blood thinners and other preventive medications Dr. Tom had given them.
The crew members were told that some of them would wear down in the higher gravity faster than others. And no matter what, they would have to rotate back on the ship for at least a day before the hull replacement commenced and nobody should stay planet-side for more than two weeks without spending at least three days on board the Sooloo. Kyle knew that Steve Boyer was busily creating a rotation schedule.
Kyle was amazed by how well the Trio were adapting to the gravity. Even so, he could see by the speed of their movements that the gravity affected them just like it did everyone from the ship. None of them will be chasing down loose basketballs in this gravity, Kyle thought. He wondered why he was feeling so tired compared to the twins. After all, he was only twelve.
As they plodded to the tube station, Koji slipped his hand into Kyle's hand. He looked up to Kyle and flashed the older boy a big grin. Kyle didn't follow all the ins and outs of the prophecies, but some part of them apparently linked him and Koji in some way. If that was the case, he certainly didn't feel any kind of link; not like he did with the twins and Lars. With them he felt there were links through the stars, especially with Lars and Jason. The only feeling he got from Koji was that he was a friendly, but annoying, munchkin.
"Go faster," Koji implored.
"Sorry, kid, but I can't. I'm all weighed down by extra gravity."
"I'm not. Lars not. Jonas and Jason not."
"You're right, you're not, but those three are. They could go faster if they weren't weighted down."
"We can go faster now," Lars said, and he started to run.
"Lars, stop now!"
The young blond obeyed and stumbled to a quick stop. "What did I do?"
"Remember what we were told about trying to do things too fast. If we take a fall, we could easily break a bone or two or more."
"Then you have to see Doctor Tom or The Howser," Jason said knowledgably.
"That's okay, I was getting tired anyway," Lars confessed.
They came to the tube station and rode the escalator down to the platform level. It was the first time Lars had been on an escalator and he babbled about how the steps moved and how "cooly fun" they were.
Kyle checked the digital map on the wall, saw they were on the proper platform and that the Green 7 train was about to enter the station. Lars pointed to the fast-moving green 7 on the map. "That's ours," he said confidently. Lars had been showing an affinity for using and reading maps, causing Kyle to wonder if he might not be an astrogator in the making.
The sleek silver train zipped into the station. As soon as it stopped the barriers separating the platform from the tracks dropped straight down into the platform and the doors opened. The boys waited for passengers to detrain and then boarded. Kyle was pleased to see four empty seats together which would make it easy for him to keep his eye on the boys.
He sat facing the front, so the slight G force created by the train starting up would push him against the seat. As much as he didn't want to do it, he had Koji sit on his lap. He wasn't about to allow one of the boy's stand on the moving train or leave to find an empty seat.
The quick start by the train surprised the boys, but especially Kyle, who had to bear the brunt of Koji's weight being pushed against him. "Damn you're heavy, kid," Kyle complained.
"That's because he eats a lot," Jonas snickered. "You should see him."
The train moved to the next station quickly and within minutes they were at the spaceport where they detrained. Kyle led the younger boys to the main gate. The guard had been advised of their visit and as soon as he saw the boys coming off the escalator, he called their guide to inform him that the boys were arriving.
While waiting for the guide, Lars and Jason babbled on about the up escalator and how fast the train traveled through the tunnel. "I wish we had one of those at home… I mean… at my old planet," Lars said.
The chatter stopped when Yedard, their guide, arrived. After everyone was introduced, they rode in a small vehicle to the terminal. "You're shuttle ship is almost here," Yedard told them.
Within a couple of minutes, they saw Bubba Loo coming in for a landing. Dave knew that in order to move such a large number of the crew the Bubbas would have to be used. Not only that, the Bubbas had more power to help overcome the strong gravity. Type B Shuttle Mars was also being used to take care of smaller moves between the Sooloo and Draconia.
Kyle noticed the slow movements of eight crew members getting off the shuttle right away. He noticed it even more when Danny disembarked since he had his boyfriend's movements etched in his brain.
Kyle and Danny moved toward each other as quickly as they could and exchanged a long hug and a quick kiss. "This gravity is a bitch," Danny observed, "both for landing and for plain old walking."
Kyle introduced Danny to Koji who quickly wrapped his arms around Danny. "Are you my daddy, too?" the little boy asked.
"No, I'm not your daddy."
Koji let go of Danny, walked over to Kyle and grabbed his hand. He pointed to Kyle's head and said, "I think he's my daddy. And he kissed you."
"I see," Danny said, even though he didn't have a clue about what was going on. What Danny did know was that he was off duty for the next two days and planned on taking advantage of every minute with Kyle. He did not expect to also be greeting by the Terrific Trio, Lars, and the strange little boy, Koji.
Danny turned back toward the Bubba to retrieve his gear, but Yedard told him it would be delivered to where he would be quartered and that he should have fun with his friend and the smaller children. Yedard couldn't help but think of Kyle and Danny as children as well. Physically, that was probably true. What he didn't understand was the high level of intelligence and maturity that the boys needed just to perform their basic jobs on the Sooloo, He certainly did not know about the acts of heroism displayed by the two boys in the face of deadly danger which raised their wisdom and experience level even higher.
Yedard took Danny, Kyle, and the boys to the subway station where they caught the Blue 1 to the Royal Park. The boys enjoyed the playground at the park. Lars, Jonas, and Jason were disappointed when they were told they couldn't climb and play on the bars because of the danger of a serious fall in the heavier gravity. Not hearing his name mentioned, Koji quickly jumped on the bars and started showing off.
"See what I can do," he yelled. His behavior quickly led to resentments by the Terrific Trio.
Kyle and Danny realized their tactical error immediately. Danny told him to get down, but Koji was slow to move. Kyle felt too tired to intervene but worked up the energy to order Koji to get off the bars.
"Koji, when Danny or I tell you to do something, we mean for you to do it now. If you want to do things with us we expect you to do what we tell you."
Koji dropped off his bar right away and ran over to the two older boys and wrapped his arms around Kyle's waist.
"Why didn't you get down when Danny asked you to?"
"Because you're my daddy."
Frustrated and tired, Kyle took a deep breath. "Koji, I am not your daddy. And when Danny says to do something it is just like me telling you, okay?"
"Oh, he's my daddy, too, because you kissed him, right?"
Too exhausted to get into a discussion with a five-year-old, Kyle simply nodded and sat back down on the park bench next to Danny. Koji sat down on the other side of him and leaned his head against Kyle's chest, letting out a sigh of contentment.
Kyle and Danny were both relieved that it didn't take the Terrific Trio long to run out of gas. They led the four boys on a plodding return to where the crew was provided quarters. That is, everybody but Koji plodded; Koji was busy running circles around Kyle, Danny and the trio.
Kyle and Danny were even more relieved when Connor and Aiden met them and let them know they now had babysitting duty.
Tom and Randy were enjoying time to themselves in the most peaceful prefecture of Draconia. While Yodisha was the smallest of the prefectures, it was also the most populous. Despite that, it had more of a calm tropical nature.
Tom looked at his lover, "What do you think about getting married here? The King offered, and I don't think Dave would turn us down."
Randy couldn't help but smile, "I think that is a splendid idea. Let's rest for a few and then talk to the Captain about arranging it."
After thanking Aiden and Connor profusely, Kyle and Danny went to their assigned room where Kyle collapsed on the bed. "I am so tired I can hardly move," Kyle said listlessly before passing out. Danny had been concerned about Kyle from the moment he saw his boyfriend at the spaceport. He had looked pale and tired then, and now he looked worse.
His call to medical was answered by Antonio Vargas, the head nurse. He listened to Danny's concerns and told him someone would be there in a few minutes. That someone was Dr. Tom. The fourteen-year-old Chief Medical Officer woke up Kyle, gave him a quick checkup, asked a few questions, and came to a decision.
"Kyle has gravity sickness. We're going to need to send him back to the Sooloo."
"Is it really that serious?" Danny asked. "I mean how can he be sick like that. He's only twelve and he's in good shape and…"
Tom cut him off and said, "It has nothing to do with age or physical condition. Did you read the handout we gave you when you got your blood thinner and meds?"
"Um, I kind of skimmed it."
Shaking his head, Tom went on. "It's like motion sickness. Some people are simply more susceptible to the effects of heavy gravity than others. Kyle is one of those. We'll have him on this evening's departure of the Mars."
"I don't want to go back," Kyle mumbled. "I'm not a wuss." He closed his eyes as his body shook and he moaned with pain.
"Nobody said you were. Everyone knows how big those rocks between your legs are," Tom told him as he cranked up his best bedside manner. He took Danny aside and said, "I think you should return with him. He's going to need you."
"Is he that sick?"
"He should recover physically as soon as he is brought back down to Earth gravity. He's going to need you for the mental side of things. He's a proud boy, and as you've been observing, he doesn't accept being ill very well."
"What are you two saying about me?" Kyle barked crankily.
"We were talking about what a pain in the ass you are when you're sick," Danny barked back. Tom gave Danny a shocked look. "He needs to have his head size shrunk sometimes," Danny grinned.
"You know him best."
"I'll ask Dave for permission to return with him."
"No need. I will take care of everything."
"You're pretty good at this doctoring business."
Tom gave Danny his best physician smile. "That's why I get paid the big bucks." Tom left them, telling Danny he'd let him know when they'd be picked up once the time was established. Danny nodded and lay down on his bed for a nap.
The nap was interrupted an hour later when King Zedrick paid a surprise visit with two companions and Dr. Tom. He had the companions wait outside while Tom gently woke Kyle and Danny.
"Time to go?" Danny asked sleepily. Unlike Kyle, he wasn't sick; the four young boys had worn him out and a nap had sounded good.
"No," Dr. Tom said. "You have a guest who thinks we can make it possible for you to stay." He gestured for the King to take over.
"The King is here to see us?" Kyle croaked. He raised his head off the pillow. "He's here to see us two kids?" He immediately dropped his head back on the pillow.
"Hello, my young friends," King Zedrick said softly. "You are more than just kids. Your captain has told me of your exploits. Your bravery is sure to become legend."
"Didn't feel like that when Sooloo was about be destroyed by those ships. I thought I was dead. I was about to piss my pants when you guys rescued us. No offense, Your Majesty."
Kyle cringed and moaned loudly. "Shit, that hurt bad."
"King Zedrick brought one of his own doctors and a nurse," Tom said.
"My people have explored space for many centuries. We, too, have had to deal with many sicknesses. What you have is one of them. I heard of your plight and said to your wonderful Captain Bowman that I thought we could help. Dr. Muskalla is going to give you a shot to help with your illness."
"It won't counteract the effects of gravity, of course," Tom explained, "but it will help your body cope with it."
"But, I'm human, not Draconian," Kyle moaned.
"Our physiological makeups are close enough that this shot should work with no side effects. After all, we can breed with humans, for example, Jace is half Draconian."
Kyle moaned with pain again. "Should work, not will work?" he rasped.
"Will work," the King said emphatically. "I trust my doctors fully. Some of your medicines originated from our visits to your planet so many years ago."
"Dave said it's up to you," Tom explained. "We can put you into an antigravity capsule on the Mars in a couple of hours and fly you home to the Sooloo, or you can take your medicine and most likely stay here for a few more days."
Kyle moaned again. "Give me the shot. Put me out of my misery."
"Shots. One now and the second in an hour."
"What the fuck ever, just do it."
King Zedrick understood humanoid behavior as well as anyone alive thanks to his mastery of his extrasensory talents. That was part of what made him such a great leader. Kyle's language did not offend him because he had the ability to understand exactly where the young boy was coming from.
Dr. Muskalla and the nurse sterilized their hands. The nurse pulled out a syringe. He shoved a cartridge into the back of it. The cartridge contained the medication and a tiny amount of pressurized air. The doctor checked Kyle's vitals and nodded. The nurse found a vein, placed the needle in the correct location and pressed. Kyle heard a slight "pffft" but felt nothing. The injection was accomplished in less than a second. The doctor checked him again and nodded to the nurse. As they packed up to leave, Tom assured Kyle that they would return in an hour.
"Why do they have to come back? I'm already feeling better."
"The first shot is a short-term fix. It sets you up for the second which will be good for thirty days," Tom explained. "Before it wears off you will have to return to the Sooloo. Dr. Muskalla says that the procedure can't be used again for two Earth months because of the possibility of serious side effects, so you will have to be removed from the heavy gravity until then. The way I understand things, we could all be back in space in eight days unless Dave decides to extend our visit, so the deadline shouldn't be a big deal."
Kyle looked up at King Zedrick. What he saw was a man who exuded authority yet was able to display a kindly, understanding smile at the same time.
"I can't believe the King himself came here to help me," Kyle said, his voice displaying more strength. "It's a real honor, Your Majesty."
"It is I who should be honored," the King replied. "As I said, you and your mate are a heroic pair of young men."
"Even if I almost pissed my pants during that attack?"
"You would not have been the first brave man to do so," the King chuckled. "For you it was much easier to be the person in charge, doing things, than to be the person who is helpless to do anything but watch the battle. Even so, your pants stayed dry," he smiled. "I believe that you were born to command. I will need to leave soon. Before I leave with some final remarks, do you have any questions of me that I may have the answer to."
"Yes, sir, I do. But first, I have to confess that I had a wet spot on the front of my pants that I did my best to hide. Anyway, I'd like to know what the logo on the telescope Zorn gave me means."
"The symbol is steeped in our history," the King replied with obvious pride. "The emblem on your telescope, with minor changes, is what we were using when the telescope was made all those einens ago. Prior to the Draconian-Lizon war, there were three nations on Darastix, or rather you know our planet as Draconia. Each realm is represented by the three stripes and three sections of the circle. When the great war began, the two minor nations joined our realm, creating one nation. The war lasted for thirty years and we all saw the benefits of being one nation. They all loved my father as King, and I believe this holds true of me today.
"Our flag has the same origins. Ten stripes in three colors, which represents thirty years of fighting. The three colors depict and honor these former nations. The dragon represents our ancestry. My father was the King when the flag became official. Does that answer your question young Kyle Robinson?"
"Totally. And thank you, Your Highness."
"You can just call me King, or Sire if you wish to be a bit more formal. It all works with me. In private, I don't even mind my friends calling me by my name, Zedrick."
There was a knock on the door. Danny opened it and saw Zarek, the King's son, standing at the door. "Father, the leaders of the Yodisha Prefecture Council await you at the castle. And Dr. Muskalla says he will be here on time."
"I must go quickly, I have a planet to govern." King Zedrick told them. "But, before I go, I must ask you to please consider the prophecies. I believe deep in my heart you are a part of them along with young Koji."
"How am I part of them? Is it because the stars talk to me?"
"Perhaps, or it could be the legacy of King Kairu."
"It must be because I'm still tired, but all of this has me very confused."
"I must leave you now. Zarek will explain. Again, it was an honor to talk to the two of you. Both of you need to talk about the prophecies as well as how you two and Koji all fit together."
Danny wasn't sure what to do as King Zedrick turned to leave, so he bowed. Kyle was sitting up on his bed, so he followed suit and bowed his head.
"It is good to see you looking healthy," Zarek said.
"I should be getting my second shot soon," Kyle told him.
"Yes, Dr. Muskalla and Nurse Ichiro are on the way. We can also adjust the gravity level of the guest quarters just a bit, down to eighty-five percent, which is still 1.105 times Terra. It'll only help while you are in any of the guest quarters."
"Not sure that would help with changing gravity each time I come and go," Kyle explained. "I guess your father wants you to tell me a lot of stuff."
"Not a lot, just a little. For now, you need to rest so you can do a full day tomorrow. It is important."
"What's going on?" Danny asked.
"That would be a surprise."
At that point Dr. Muskalla and the nurse arrived. The nurse gave Kyle his second shot, the doctor checked his vitals, and they left with little fanfare.
Once the door closed Zarek quickly explained the prophecies, especially where they involved King Kairu, Megrez, and Koji. "We believe you are a part of the prophecies. It is even possible you may have a Draconian ancestor."
"What? How? No way!" Kyle sputtered.
"Most likely not since your hair is so light, but the possibility exists. Without testing your physical and genetic makeup we cannot be sure, and even then, the results may not be definitive. But there is no question you are connected to us in some way, as well as to young Koji."
"Well, I sure ain't his daddy," Kyle said with the hint of a pout. "I think I would know that."
"But he is a kojaku, an orphan, who seeks a father and he has found you, which is something else that connects you to the prophecies. 'Kojako ga atarashī chichioya o mitsuketa toki, sonotoki wa mōsuguda,' or in your tongue, 'When the Orphan finds his new daddy, the time is nigh.'"
"But he is only five," Kyle protested. "How does he know what he wants? He is too young for me to even talk to. He says the same things over and over."
"He only looks five years old to you, as a Draconian we age slower than you. He is actually six, almost seven. But even for an Earthling, he would be small for his age. As for repeating, he is saying what he knows. Koji is very bright and is already soaking in your language. He is very articulate for his age in our language. And he is even learning to read. You will be surprised by how quickly he picks things up."
"I know you learn to speak English through your ESP skills, but Koji isn't old enough to have that ability, so how does he learn to speak it?"
"The same way as you Earthlings. Study and work. Since we've been to Terra, or Earth, we have been teaching our people the languages of your planet in preparation of when we return there, or you come here. We start at the age of four and hearing news of your arrival, we accelerated his learning. My father felt it was needed."
'That was probably because of something in the fine print of the prophecies,' Kyle thought somewhat sarcastically. "But how do you learn to read?"
Zarek smiled. "You are familiar with the Rosetta Stone?"
"Yeah, it was used to learn the meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphics. But what does that have to do with your reading?"
"We have electronic books that can place our writing on one screen and translate it to yours on a second screen. The entire process is more complex than that, but we can use it to learn to read different languages."
Kyle shook his head as if he were trying to remove cobwebs from his brain. "I guess I'm either not smart enough or too tired to figure out all of this prophecy business. If it wasn't for the stars talking to me, I wouldn't pay any attention to it at all." Kyle truly was tired and wished Zarek would leave so he could take a nap, preferably with Danny, who had been sitting on his bed saying nothing.
"Most of you Earthlings are too literal—too concrete. You have lost touch with the parts of the universe that can't be seen or felt. You are one of the few who can see some of that universe, thanks to your contact with the stars. We Draconians have visited Earth and left clear evidence of our visits behind, all of which is either not properly understood or simply ignored by your literal thinkers. "
Before the discussion could continue there was a knock at the door. Danny got up and answered it. "Connor! Aiden!" he called out, letting Kyle know who was there. "Come in, come in." The two Sooloo crewmen entered along with little Koji, who was carrying a small electronic device, like a notebook. Kyle groaned inwardly; he wanted a nap badly.
Zarek greeted them, reminded Kyle to think seriously about the prophecies, and gave them these closing words. "Remember, it is possible for you to be married before you are thirteen to become what Koji so badly wants." He left the room, closing the door behind him.
"What was that about?" Connor asked.
"Kyle would say it was about Draconian superstition," Danny replied. He looked straight into Kyle's eyes. "Or it could be about Earth reality."
While Connor still didn't understand, he elected not to pursue the issue. "You sure look a lot better than when I last saw you," he told Kyle.
"Thanks to Draconian medicine," Kyle grinned. "I don't hurt or feel sick anymore, but I am tired and would love a good nap."
"We'll be quick," Aiden promised. "But Koji wanted to see you and show you his book."
Koji handed his device to Connor and plopped on the bed next to Kyle. "Daddy, you are happy. You smile. Koji happy." He rolled on his side and wrapped his arm around Kyle's chest. This time it didn't hurt. The little boy gave Kyle a kiss on his cheek and then returned to his supine position.
Kyle was stunned by the feelings of warmth and love that coursed through him as a result of the innocent gesture by the small boy. 'Was there really some kind of connection between them?' he thought.
"Aiden and I had a lot of fun with Koji. We like him a lot. He's a fun little boy. We had to bring him here because he kept begging to see you. He was hoping you weren't sick any more. I think your smile made him happy." Connor placed Koji's notebook on the boy's chest. "And, he wanted to show you something."
Koji opened the book and powered it up. He looked over to Kyle and grinned. Kyle could see that Koji had the Rosetta Stone-like book that Zarek had mentioned. The left screen had writing in Draconian script and the right screen was in English. Kyle read what that screen said and felt himself starting to tear up.
Koji pointed to the left screen and read what it said aloud. It was Draconian and nobody except Kyle, who could read the English translation, knew what it said. Koji then pointed to the right screen and read it aloud. "I love you, daddy," he recited in the precise diction of a beginning reader.
This time Kyle rolled on his side and wrapped his arm around the small boy's chest. He kissed Koji's smooth cheek and ruffled his thick hair. "And I love you too, Koji," he said as his tears moistened his cheeks and Koji's right cheek.
Koji squealed with delight, set his book down, and ran over to Danny. "I love you, daddy," he said with more emotion and confidence. He kissed Danny on his left cheek, hustled back to Kyle's bed, and picked up his book.
He looked up at Connor and Aiden. "Daddy is tired. Nap, nap, nap. We go now."
"We're glad you're feeling better," Connor told Kyle. Aiden took Koji's hand. Kyle thanked them for coming and for bringing Koji.
Connor and Aiden left the room with a strange combination of sadness and happiness. They'd had their doubts about Kyle and Danny being a married couple when they weren't even teens yet, and they were all but certain they wouldn't want to deal with a young boy like Koji as parents. What they had just seen changed their perspectives. The scene in Danny and Kyle's room told them that a change of mind was about to happen if it hadn't already.
As a result, they were saddened because they found that they had learned to like young Koji a great deal as they both saw him, and the feeling appeared mutual. But there was no doubt whom it was Koji loved. They were happy because of the door opening to Danny and Kyle's hearts returning that love. Nothing was set in stone yet, but they would later discuss how they could become Koji's uncles in the same way Kyle and Danny were uncles to the Terrific Trio. That thought made them very happy.
Back in the small bedroom, Danny and Kyle looked at each other and said nothing. Often, the silence between them was a telling piece of communication. This was one of those times. Danny finally broke the silence. "We need to talk."
"Yep. But not now. Nap, dinner, sleep is what I want," Kyle replied softly. "Tomorrow is breakfast and then we talk." He flashed his long-time friend a look that told Danny everything he needed to know. And then Kyle put the cherry on top. "I love you, Danny. I love you so much I can't even begin to think how to say it."
"I love you, Kyle." They undressed in silence, took care of their evening toilet obligations, and lay in their own beds, knowing that they had to put the beds together the next day.
Kyle had set the alarm on his comm to wake them fifteen minutes before the posted dinner time. They quickly washed up and put on fresh uniforms.
Scott sat on the bed, "Are you upset that I've not been ready for sex, yet?"
"Not at all. I care enough about you that I can wait for as long as you need. If we never have sex, I am happy being with you."
"Well, I am ready to do more than just kiss, but with the blood thinners," Scott flashed a smile.
"Yeah, I know what you mean, but there are other things we can do. I'll let you lead since…" Łukasz didn't want to finish his sentence since it hurt him thinking about it and worried how it would affect Scott.
Scott could feel the love coming from Łukasz, "I trust you Łuke, and know you love me. Until the blood thinner wears off, maybe we could just do massages or whatever. Once we are back on the Sooloo, I would like us doing more, but I don't want to totally top or bottom."
"Fine by me, but no matter who tops, we discuss what we want before doing it."
Scott wiped tears from his eyes, "I so love you and am glad that you will be my first since my uncle hurt me."
"You want to get a massage first or do the massaging," Łukasz asked.
"I'd like to massage you first," Scott replied with a chaste kiss.
Connor had just dropped the boys off at the Guest Quarters of Jace and Jordan, then retired to the quarters provided for him and Aiden. The boys were no sooner in the quarters, then ran out to the pool. Koji joined them, and they quickly lost their clothes before diving in.
It wasn't long until two guards spotted them. One went to get the parents while the other confronted the boys, "You boys need to get out of the water and come with me."
"Can we get dressed first? Our clothes are…" Lars started.
"No, you will come with me as you are."
The boys did as they were told but were upset about how this man was treating them. He marched them into the castle and before King Zedrick. "Sire, I caught these four boys swimming in the pool without any clothes on. Other than Koji, their fathers have been summoned."
King Zedrick looked at the four naked boys, "Where are your clothes?"
Jonas explained, "Back at the pool, this man wouldn't even let us get dressed."
"Jeison, go get their clothes. You should have let them dress."
"Yes, Sire." The guard retreated from the castle.
After the guard left, King Zedrick looked at the boys, "Just so you know, we don't allow public nudity here, but off the record, when I was your age, I got in trouble for it, too."
"You did?" Lars asked.
"I did, only I was actually swimming in a river, and not a private pool," the King chuckled.
"So, what's going to happen to us?" Lars questioned.
The King just smiled at the boy as Jace and Jordan, followed by Dave and Hal entered the room.
The guard returned with the boys' clothes, and as they dressed, Zedrick explained, "We don't allow for public nudity, but since you are visitors, we will let it slide this once. Koji, you should have known better, but I will let your infraction slide as well since you were with the other three."
As they left, Dave and Hal put an arm around Lars. Dave whispered, "We'll talk when we get back to our room."
King Zedrick stated, loud enough he was sure Dave and Hal heard, "Remember, they are just boys and we were that age once."
Jace put an arm around Jason and Jordan put an arm around Jonas. Jace looked at Koji standing by himself, "You can join us for the night, Koji."
As they turned to leave, King Zedrick announced, "I'll see you boys in the morning. Since we weren't prepared for a feast tonight, we will have a welcoming feast in the Reception Hall in the morning, around 0600 your time. Here, it'll be what we call the fifth hour, or first light."
"We'll see you there," Jordan replied.
Lying together in their bed, after a wonderful session of lovemaking, Connor turned to his mate, "You're being quiet. Normally after we have sex you like to talk. What's on your mind?"
"Well, I've been thinking about what the King offered. You know, getting married. I really want to, and I know you do; we discussed it and we want Dave to perform the ceremony. Then this whole business of Koji… you know, wanting Kyle to be his daddy. I have a feeling from the way Kyle reacted that he's not really interested in adopting a 5-year-old."
Connor had a feeling where this was going, "Ok, what are you thinking?" Aiden didn't notice the big smile on Connor's face.
"Well…" Aiden paused briefly before continuing, "if Kyle and Danny don't get married, or they do but don't want to adopt Koji, and we do get married, I was thinking that we might possibly offer to adopt him."
Connor was quiet, acting like he was considering Aiden's thought, but before he was able to answer Aiden stated, in a disappointed tone, "You hate the idea, don't you?"
Connor pulled his mate to him and kissed him deeply. When the kiss was broken, "No, I don't hate the idea, but we should discuss this with Dave and Hal before we make any final decisions. I would be in favor of both of your ideas, for your information."
"You're looking a lot better," Danny told Kyle.
"Except for the drag of the gravity, I feel almost human. I don't ever want to go through that gravity sickness shit again. I think I felt like some 100-year-old dude must feel every day of his life."
"I'm glad you didn't say that must be how Dave feels every day of his live," Danny giggled.
"Wait until I tell Dave you said that. He'll have Boyer put you on the midnight watch for the next six months."
"That would mean no enjoying my ass until the time was up."
"I would have time to see if my ten fingers are an improvement."
Danny smacked Kyle on his ass and said, "There is no doubt those shots worked. You're your usual ornery self."
They ended that conversation when they entered the dining room. Kyle saw three tables of what looked like ten Draconian men and two women at the far end. There were a large number of Sooloo crewmembers at the end of the dining room where they had entered.
As everyone entered, the King announced, "I want to thank everyone for coming. We are gathered today to honor our guests from afar, and those from the Northern Island of Yodisha Prefecture. For those who are still aboard the Sooloo, we will honor them, later. Everyone will receive menus for other items, but I must request that everyone try our shimasukanku rolls. I believe they are divine. One platter will be set at every tray."
As the platters were being placed, Ensign Cox asked, "This has an interesting aroma and tastes really good. What is it?"
The King chuckled as he responded, "I would rather not say until everyone has had a chance to taste it. We like it, but if you knew what it was, you would probably be reluctant to eat it."
"Well, I like it and am curious," Benjamin J. Cox assured.
The King walked to his table and whispered, "The meat is shimasukanku, which very much resembles a black critter with a white stripe from Earth, ours do not have the stripe."
Cox looked aghast, "You mean a skunk?" He looked like he was about to get sick.
"That's why I didn't want to tell everyone," the King chuckled.
Brad and Roger, who were seated at a table for four, waved them over. Brad invited Danny and Kyle to sit with them, which they did. A Draconian waiter appeared out of nowhere; he looked to be twelve or thirteen, the ages of the four boys at the table. He gave them their menus, took their drink orders, and retreated to the kitchen.
"How did we luck into getting this place?" Danny asked.
"Dave told us all about it after we all met here," Roger replied.
"Danny came planet-side later, so he missed out on the fun meeting," Brad reminded him.
Kyle, who was feeling much more chipper after his nap, told Danny how the complex was for visitors to the capital city. "It's kind of like a big convention center."
"Yeah, those dudes eating at the other end are here for some kind of meeting with King Zedrick," Roger said.
"They would probably be the leaders of the Yodisha Prefecture Council," Kyle informed them.
"And you know this how?" Brad asked.
"I know important people."
"So, it wasn't the stars who told you then," Roger said.
"When Kyle says important, he means IMPORTANT," Danny emphasized.
Roger and Brad tried to pry names from their tablemates with no success. Kyle said they'd reveal who their visitors were if it was necessary. The waiter ended the inquiry by bringing their breakfast.
Before they started into their food, Connor, who was sitting at the table next to them, turned and told Brad and Roger who the "important" visitors were.
"Whoa, I'm going to have to get sick, too, if it brings the King himself to come for a visit," Brad said.
Roger commented, "Look at BJ Cox, he's getting sick AFTER the King came over."
"That isn't why he or Zarek came, though," Kyle told him. 'At least not the main reason,' he thought.
"Okay, so why DID they come?"
"That's what we really can't tell you. We didn't reveal their names because we couldn't say anything more."
"And does this have to do with the stars?" Roger asked. "I know the Draconians are huge on all that stuff."
Kyle dug into his breakfast. "This Draconian food is really good. Randy should try getting some of their vegetables and stuff and pick up a few recipes." The inquiry ended as the boys dug into their still ample plates of food.
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."