As the Sooloo headed home, Roger and Tai became closer, neither knowing yet what may be in store for them. Both boys thought they were straight, but now neither are sure of that.
Shasho organized the Operations Office just a bit better, causing Jordan to tease Jace. Jace made a comment, and Steve tried to prevent Shasho from hearing it. Meanwhile, Dave put some thought into who might leave the ship… or transfer to the SS Darastix.
Hal suggested that the crew make use of the "instant" communication. Dave asked Shasho to organize a fair plan for all the crew to be able do so. A lottery was drawn. Logan Kristoff won the first call. Having done so, he talked with his parents and it was decided he would need to leave the Sooloo, help his parents with a new restaurant, and then join the Darastix. Randy Jenkins would take over as the head of the kitchen.
Will's mom proved to be very upset over him accepting his sexuality. John suggested that Will speak with Jace. Will's younger brother was just as bad. Christian, on the other hand, enjoyed his call. He's hoping that his brother Ronald will be joining the crew of the Sooloo.
Tomo served his discipline with honor. Connor was happy to see Tomo, but not as happy as Juro. Juro revealed that the kaldaka cub is a female and her name is Kallie.
Thanksgiving arrived as did Łuke Trevor's birthday. At the celebratory dinner, everyone related what they were thankful for, while Steve announced his decision to adopt Shasho. Then after the meal, Ben Maxey brought out the birthday cake.
After dinner, the Senior Staff made video calls to their families. Jace requested his dad talk with Will's family. Aiden and Connor introduced Juro and Kallie to their adoptive families, their recruiters. Dave and Hal called Hal's mama.
Randy called his family the day after and had an enjoyable visit.
Kyle sat naked in the chair by the window, watching the stars move by as the Sooloo zipped at HF speed. One of the benefits of the upgrade completed by the Draconians was being able to see the stars moving past the windows of the bridge as well as through the ship's telescopes. It made for a much more interesting view than the solid gray had been. The enhanced windows were keyed into the telescopes, which could read the movement outside and interpret the data for human sight.
Kyle was casually playing with his four-inch erection at the same time he was thinking about the calculations he used to plot the Sooloo's course to Earth. The Space Fleet Astrogation Manual did not contain the parameters he needed to calculate his course; it was written with the speeds the Sooloo could reach in mind. Kyle was certain that the Space Fleet math geeks in Vegas were already at work, not only rewriting the manual, but also rewriting the programming needed to consider the new parameters.
Danny was serving as the watch officer in the Shuttle Bays while Koji was playing with Lars and the twins in one of the sections of Holodeck 2 under the supervision of Unka Steve, so Kyle had the quarters to himself. His mind drifted from math to the feelings in his groin. He looked down at his bare pubic area, hoping to see a stray hair, as if one could spontaneously sprout when he wasn't looking. At least something leaks out when I cum, so progress is being made, he thought as he picked up the pace of his strokes.
He was now fantasizing about Steve sucking Jesse Gross in the pilot's seat of the fighter while Danny sat in the co-pilot's, watching the show while he jerked off. He knew that wasn't possible right then since Steve was watching the youngsters in the holodeck. Steve is probably skinny dipping with the little imps, he thought. His thoughts returned to the fighter and as Jesse shot into Steve's mouth Kyle squirted out a clear drop that landed on his bare pubis. The release not only felt very good, it would also keep him from getting too horny before the next time he got sexual with Danny.
After catching his breath, he went to the bathroom, wiped the drop off himself, took a pee and returned to his chair with his copy of the Astrogation Manual. His mind went back to his astrogation calculations. He was happy he was finished having to do the complex math from scratch. Providing Dave doesn't start chasing stray cats, he thought with a grin. As Kyle relaxed in his chair, things started to heat up on the bridge.
The watch had begun only an hour earlier. Dave had the conn and Juro was manning the tactical station. Will Crusoe was trying his hand at Astrogation with John Luke beside him, just in case.
"Captain," Juro called out, "We are receiving a distress call from a barren planet."
"A barren planet? Who is sending out the call?"
"The beacon belongs to the SS Stephen William Hawking, Sir."
Dave inquired, "Are there any ships closer than we are?"
"There is one closer, but at their speed, it will take them six days to reach them. We can do it in three or four."
"Not knowing what the distress is, we better go. The sooner they have the help they need, the better. Inform the Kaisokusen and Shouryou. John Luke, assist Will in plotting the course. It looks like we have a stray cat to chase."
Kyle thought about getting dressed when he felt from the ship's movement and noted from the shifting star patterns that the ship was changing course. "What the fuck?" he muttered out loud. He quickly went to his bedroom area, where his clothes were strewn on the bed. He was dressed in an instant and took off for the bridge to see what was going on.
When Kyle entered the bridge, he saw that it was busy and businesslike. There was a feeling of controlled tension in the air. He went over to the Astrogation table and asked John Luke what was happening.
Dave answered for him. "We received a distress signal from a barren planet. We've determined it is coming from Danube in the Constellation Leo and that it belongs to the Hawking."
"Did they say what happened?" Kyle asked.
"We don't know a thing; they are using an emergency distress beacon… for when you have no communication."
"It looks like you were able to calculate a course in a hurry," Kyle said to John Luke.
"The course is Will's doing—all I did was look over his shoulder. He did it faster than I could," John Luke replied.
"But not as fast as Kyle could have done it," Will conceded. "Your data charts are awesome, by the way."
Kyle ignored the compliment and asked if the computer had accepted the new data.
"It was rejected at first," Will replied, "but Dave gave us a temporary override code. I entered it, and everything worked."
"I'm glad my charts worked." Kyle had worked out new calculations and coordinates to match the faster speeds of the drive upgrade and placed copies in each of the astrogation manuals.
"You should send them to the computer gods in Vegas," John Luke said. "It would really help them get the software updated if they saw how you were already doing things."
"I had the data sent when I printed my charts and graphs."
"It's really weird that Brad and Roger can't get the software to work on our computer, those guys really know their stuff," Will said. "What did Jace say?"
"The problem is more a hardware problem than a software problem," Dave pointed out. "Your 'computer gods' are working on hardware upgrades for astrogation. The Draconians were afraid to mess with the astrogation system since our software wasn't compatible, but it turns out there was more to it than software."
"But all the engineering stuff worked," Juro argued.
Dave looked directly at Kyle. "I guess engineering protocols are not as finicky and cantankerous as astrogation protocols."
"Hey, I resemble that statement," Kyle said defensively.
"No kidding!" John Luke laughed.
Kyle turned to hide his own grin and quickly lost himself in Will's calculations. "Great job, Will. You're a natural at this."
"I told you he would be good," John Luke averred. Will turned red with embarrassment. Kyle knew that because of the shorter distance involved, setting a course to their new destination would be less complicated than what Kyle had to deal with, that didn't mean the job was simple.
"I'd like to make one suggestion, Will… and John Luke," Kyle offered.
"Go for it. I want to learn," Will told him.
Kyle kicked out some figures and then said. "At 2100 tomorrow, I suggest making this course change. If we follow the course you laid out, we'll come close to Danube, but will need a few hours of sub-light travel to reach our destination. If autocorrect could adjust our course, this wouldn't be a problem and your course would have been perfect; autocorrect would make the necessary change. As you know, with our higher speeds, we can't depend on autocorrect, so we need to step in sometimes. Anyway, if you enter these coordinates tomorrow it will take us right to the front door and save us three to four hours."
"Don't you have watch at that time, Kyle?" John Luke asked.
"I do, but like you, I think it would be great if Will entered all the necessary steps for a course correction." Dave nodded his head in approval when he heard Kyle's reasoning.
"All the steps but making the calculation," Will pointed out.
"You did awesome, Will. The way you and John Luke are working together I might be able to take early retirement."
"I doubt you have enough credits in your retirement account," Dave laughed.
"Well, in that case, let's go catch us a stray cat," Kyle told everyone.
While Kyle was chattering, Will reviewed the course correction Kyle had made. For some reason, the figures didn't seem to add up. He opened his astrogation notebook, grabbed a pencil and did his own calculation for the course change Kyle had suggested. When he was finished, he had a different result than Kyle had come up with. He didn't feel as if he should contradict the Chief Astrogator, but as Commander Hanson had taught them all, "Ego has no place in Astrogation. The smallest error could be the difference between life and death."
Will took his calculations to John. "John, here is Kyle's computation. As an exercise, I wanted to see if I came up with the same coordinates for the course change." He handed John his notebook. "I must have messed up because my result was slightly different than Kyle's." Kyle watched the exchange with feigned disinterest.
John reviewed Will's figures but couldn't find anything wrong. He took the calculations to Kyle. "Will has come up with a different course than you. I can't see what he did wrong, so I thought maybe you could catch his mistake and help him correct it.
Will felt the sweat dripping down his ribs as Kyle gave the calculation in his notebook a serious going over. "Will…," Kyle said gravely before pausing. He decided it was time to end the charade. The young Chief Astrogator broke out into a wide smile and handed the notebook back to Will. "… you just passed the test. I wanted to see how you would handle the situation; see if you would review what I did or just accept my calculations without question. You were absolutely right to recheck them. I may be really good at this, but I'm not perfect. It's your life on the line along with the rest of the crew, and I AM only human. What you did was to do an independent calculation and when you came up with a different result, you went to your immediate supervisor and asked about it. You followed the chain of command perfectly. When we get through this, I am going to ask Hal and Jordan for permission to assign you a few watches a week in Astrogation... see if we can hone your skills some. I think you're going to be a top-notch Astrogator."
Will was taken aback by Kyle's revelation, and felt proud after hearing Kyle's praise. Dave had been listening and his pride in his Chief Astrogator was palpable. He spoke up, "Commander Robinson, I guarantee you that the requested watches for Mr. Crusoe will be approved and you may schedule him. Good job, all of you."
As Tomo reported for duty in the Science Labs, Hal approached him and started to speak, "Do you know what aeroponics is?" Tomo shook his head, so Hal continued, "Simply put, aeroponics is a method of growing plants in a soilless environment with very little water. Basically, it is growing without soil. Despite leaps in advancement, aeroponics actually had a fairly slow start. Techniques for growing plants without soil were first developed in the 1920s by botanists who used primitive aeroponics to study plant root structure. This absence of soil made study much easier: In aeroponics, plants' roots dangle in midair, with only the plants' stems held in place."
"May I ask why you are telling me this, Sir?"
Hal smiled, "As the Chief Science Officer, Commander Kohl would like for you to have a basic knowledge of several different sciences. By doing so, you may find a science that you would like, perhaps one that you've yet to be introduced to. Your dad specializes in Xenobiology but has the basic knowledge of several different sciences."
"That makes sense, Sir. I would like to learn about as many sciences as I can. Even once I decide which science I want to specialize in, I want to continue learning about others."
"Let's take this a step at a time; if you are serious about wanting to learn several sciences, you may need to devote all your time to the Science Labs."
"Giving up Engineering?" Tomo looked nervous. "Now, I am torn. I really like Science, but I love Engineering."
"Relax, Tomo. I'm not saying you must give up Engineering. I am saying that if you want to keep learning different sciences after you decide which one to specialize in, you might want to, or at least cut your time in Engineering down."
"I want to learn as much as I can, but I don't want to give up my Engineering. I love doing Engineering, Sir, but I also want to do Science."
"I am not saying you have to give up either, but if you did, I am guessing you would pick Engineering," Hal conjectured.
"Yes Sir, if I could only do one, I would want Engineering."
"Then Engineering should be your primary station, but that doesn't mean you can't come to the Science Lab, and put some time in," Hal stated. "You can still learn various sciences, but it will just take you longer. Look at Ali, he's mainly a teacher now, but he's still working in the Science Labs. Will Crusoe is an Astro-cartographer, but Kyle and John have been training him to work at Astrogation. Myself, I am the First Officer, and much of my time is on the Bridge, but I like to come to the Science Labs occasionally."
"I don't mind that, I am willing to put in whatever time it takes."
"Now, let's get to work," Hal suggested and started teaching Tomo about aeroponics.
Dave, Hal and Jordan had been meeting in Dave's Ready Room for thirty minutes prior to Dave calling for Jace and Steve to join them. Jace was first, he had the Conn on the bridge and merely turned it over to Kyle Robinson.
When Steve joined them, Dave opened, "Gentlemen, Hal, Jordan and I have been discussing things considering Operations. Jace, since you are the Chief of Internal Operations, and are helping Ali with teaching, we would like for you to drop the Assistant Chief of Operations. Your office would still be in the Operations Office, and for you, nothing would really change, except maybe one less watch per week."
Jace looked a little surprised by this request, but he also saw it as nothing serious. It would give him four hours more per week to spend with the twins. "I don't have a problem with that, Sir," Jace felt necessary to be formal, even though Dave wasn't in his "formal tone."
"Good," Dave responded. Then he looked at Steve, "That frees up the Assistant Chief of Operations, which I would like to offer to Steve."
"Seriously?!?!" Steve was both excited and not sure this was really happening.
Jordan smiled, "Yes, Steve. We discussed it and Dave asked my opinion of whether Jace would drop the title so we could give it to you. I was sure my husband wouldn't have a problem with it, so it is yours as a way of recognizing what you've been doing for me… for us."
"Now that I know why I was asked, I really don't have a problem with it," Jace grinned. "Congratulations, Steve."
Steve sat up proudly, "I accept the position."
"One last thing before this meeting breaks up," Dave declared, "I would like to promote Shasho to 'Acting Ensign' and assign him to the Operations Department. I was waiting for him to officially be staying aboard the Sooloo before doing so." Looking at Steve, Dave added, "Since you have adopted him… I can make the offer."
"I am sure he will be very honored to be offered that position. So, officially, he would report to me?" Steve inquired.
Jordan nodded his head, "That is correct."
"I believe that is one Operations Officer who will listen to me or I'd ground him... but he knows the procedures as well as I do, if not better... I'd probably find out that if I grounded the little bugger, I'm the one who's going to find himself being grounded," Steve chuckled. "It seems we are lowering the average age of our officer corps."
"True, but then, Shasho IS older than Juro and Tomo and not that much younger than Kyle," Hal pointed out.
"I would like for this to be effective as of first watch this morning. Steve, can you make it official?"
"You know I can, Sir. One last thing…"
"Yes, Steve?" Dave looked inquisitive.
"Well, I know we won't be on the ship on Christmas, but shouldn't we have a Christmas party before we reach Earth and all of us go our own way?"
"Excellent idea, Steve, and since you thought of it, you and Shasho can organize it. Set it for Saturday, the twentieth, and maybe add a big birthday party for everyone who has a birthday between then and March. I'm not sure when we will leave Earth again, but hopefully, that will cover everyone."
"Gift exchange?" Jordan asked.
Dave replied, "I'll leave that up to Steve and Shasho to figure out, but if we have one, we can do like a secret Santa, where each person only gives one gift."
"We can do like we did for the lottery," Steve suggested, "only instead of time slots, it would be crew names."
Dave was working on reports when the door chime rang. He called out for whoever it was to enter. Aiden came in and after being welcomed, took a seat across from Dave at his desk.
"Sir, I wanted to discuss something with you... It's regarding my Assistant Chief and his family."
Dave's expression changed to one of concern, "Which Assistant Chief? Is there a problem, Aiden?"
"No, Sir. I know we try to encourage the older adopted kids to learn about ship's function, and well... Sukotto, Scott and Łuke Trevor's son, has been spending a lot of time watching and learning Tactical. The boy is like a sponge learning what is done at that station. He and Juro have been talking a lot and Juro has been showing Sukotto a lot of what he's learned. I would like to recommend that Sukotto be given the same title that you've given some of the other adoptees, 'Acting-Ensign,' and we train Sukotto more about Tactical, officially."
Dave considered this before making the announcement, "Would Scott and Łuke Trevor please report to the Captain's Ready Room."
A few minutes later, the two officers rang the chime and were subsequently seated at Dave's conference table. "Guys, Aiden just made a recommendation and since it concerns your son, I wanted to discuss it with you."
Łuke looked over at his husband, then Scott asked, "What is it, Sir?"
"Well, Aiden says that Sukotto has shown an interest in Tactical. I have been asked to make him an 'Acting-Ensign' and allow you to train him in the Tactical stations. I would be happy to do so, but I need your approval first... after all, he's your son."
Łuke, answering for his husband as well as himself replied, "I am sure Scott will agree with me that we think that would be an excellent opportunity for Sukotto. My only concern is, wouldn't that interfere with Juro's position?"
"I don't think so. Juro's duties are split between Tactical watches on the bridge and watches in Engineering. Sukotto would learn what he needs to do for the Tactical position on the bridge and once he passes his bridge officer qualification, he can cover watches when Juro is in Engineering."
Aiden agreed that it was a workable plan so, after further discussion it was agreed to ask Sukotto what he thought. Dave called for Sukotto to report to his Ready Room.
When he arrived, Sukotto walked in and saw Aiden and both of his parents there with the Captain. He immediately wondered if he was in trouble for doing something wrong, but he couldn't figure out what he could have done.
His fears were put to rest when Dave asked him to take a seat. They presented Aiden's idea and suggestion to Sukotto and asked what he thought.
"You mean you'd give me the same rank as Juro and Tomo and I could do watches on the bridge?" Sukotto was smiling brighter than any of the nearby stars.
Aiden answered, "You would be given an 'acting' rank; in order to do a watch at Tactical on the bridge you have to be an officer. Just as Juro did, you would have to pass the bridge officer simulation before you could be assigned solo watches, but we don't feel as if you would have any trouble passing those. The question is, are you willing to give up your free time to learn about being a Tactical officer on the ship? You will still go to school and that will be your primary responsibility. If your schoolwork suffers, you will not be given any watches on the bridge, even after you've qualified."
"I understand, but I would still like to learn it," Sukotto replied honestly.
Dave then responded, "I am entering your acting-commission into the ship's log. Later today, you should go to the Operations Office and pick up your uniform. Any time you are on the bridge working at Tactical, whether alone or just learning, you must be in uniform."
"Thank you, Sir. I will do my best to make you all proud."
Scott went to his son and wrapped his arms around the boy. "You have already made us proud, Son."
Dave then said, "If there is nothing more, you are dismissed. Aiden, I do have something more to discuss with you."
It seemed as though Sukotto's feet never touched the floor as he walked out of the room.
Crewman Noah Marquis was working in the Ops office for the 1200-1600 watch when Sukotto Trevor entered.
"Excuse me, but Captain Bowman told me to come here to get a uniform." Sukotto stated, slightly nervous. "My name is Sukotto Trevor."
Noah had been studying something on the computer and hadn't noticed who it was that entered. When he looked up, the twelve-year-old's eyes beheld someone that almost literally took his breath away. Something about the boy attracted him like nobody ever had before in his life.
"Um, Hi." Noah barely squeaked out. "My name is Noah… what's your name? What brings you here?"
Sukotto smiled but held back the laugh that was about to come from his belly. "My name is Sukotto; Captain Bowman appointed me as an 'Acting-Ensign' and told me I needed a uniform. He said I was to come here to get one."
Noah didn't know what to say. He appraised the boy and believed him to be the most beautiful person he'd ever seen. It was definitely influencing him... mentally and physically. "Take off your clothes and I'll get you measured for your uniform." In reality, all Noah had to do was to tell the computer to replicate a uniform for Sukotto. It already knew his sizes, but his mind wanted to see if the boy would get naked for him.
Sukotto blushed, but not knowing the proper procedures, stripped. He stood there unabashedly naked in front of the young crewman.
It was at that time that Noah realized that he'd probably crossed a line or two in the regulations. He pressed a couple of buttons on the replicator and within seconds it had fashioned a uniform for Sukotto. Noah watched as Sukotto dressed, had anyone looked they'd have seen that it appeared that his own uniform trousers were cut incorrectly in his crotch.
Once Sukotto was dressed, Noah turned to him, "I'm sorry, something about you got my mind going in a direction it has never gone before. I am going to be very honest with you, Sukotto, I am attracted to you. Do you have a boyfriend?"
Sukotto blushed and shook his head indicating he didn't have a boyfriend. He too was attracted to the other boy. "N… no, I don't have a boyfriend... that is, not yet."
Noah's mouth went dry, but he was able to get out, "Would you consider going out with me?"
Sukotto smiled and replied, "I would like to go out with you. Next time though, it will be your turn to get naked. You've seen me, it's only fair I get to see you."
Noah blushed several shades of red before smiling and excitedly stating, "Cool! Do you want to have dinner with me tonight in the mess hall? I get off watch at 1600, we could meet at 1700 if that works for you."
Sukotto smiled and waved his hand seductively, "I will see you for our first date at 1700. Bye, Noah."
Sukotto left the Ops office wearing his uniform and carrying his other clothing. He went to his quarters where his parents were sitting and told them about his encounter. They, at first, were a bit concerned about Noah asking their son to get naked until Sukotto explained that he thinks that Noah was just flustered and just spoke without thinking. Sukotto said he didn't mind, and Noah didn't do or say anything naughty. He explained about Noah asking if he had a boyfriend and admitted that he was attracted to Noah in that way as well."
Scott and Łuke gave their son 'the talk' but agreed that it was okay if he dated Noah. Sukotto then told them that he'd agreed to go on a date with Noah that evening at the Crewman's Mess at 1700 and that he needed to get ready.
As Sukotto went into his 'room,' Scott and Łuke looked at each other and grinned. Their son was growing up and they couldn't be happier.
Sukotto was dressed in a silver kimono with a black Nagajuban, or under-kimono. As he came out of his room, Scott looked at him, "You look very handsome. If I wasn't your dad, I'd want to date you."
"Hey!!!" Łuke exclaimed, then added, "If I wasn't his dad AND wasn't married to a very handsome young man, I would want to date you, Sukotto."
"Thank you both," Sukotto responded. "I feel handsome and am glad I look alright. I'm heading to my date."
Sukotto was at the Crewmen's Mess a little early. He decided to have a seat and wait for Noah. Five minutes before the agreed time, Noah walked in. He was surprised to see Sukotto waiting. Part of him feared that Sukotto would chicken out; he almost chickened out.
Aaron Maxwell came to their table, "Can I get you anything to drink?"
"Ummm, I would like a remonsui?" Sukotto asked.
Aaron had a blank look on his face, "What is it?"
"It is the juice of a yellow citrus, but you add water and sweetener. You have it, I get it all the time in the Officers' Mess, but you call it by another name."
"I think you mean lemonade," Aaron explained.
"Yes," Sukotto smiled, "that's it."
Noah declared, "I would like a lemonade, too."
Aaron brought two lemonades, and Noah asked what the special was. "We are serving lasagna, but Randy likes making Tramp Spaghetti, as he calls it," Aaron informed them. "Tramp Spaghetti is one really long spaghetti noodle in a pasta sauce with six meatballs. He got the idea from an old video called Lady and the Tramp, but since no ladies are onboard."
"Sukotto, does that sound good to you?" Noah asked.
"I think I would like lasagna. We need to work up to the Tramp Spaghetti."
"Make that two lasagnas, please, and I would like a side chef salad with ranch dressing."
Sukotto chimed, "I'll have the same."
The two chitchatted as they waited for their food. The salads were served first with a few minutes before the lasagnas came out.
"If you don't mind, can I ask you your age?" Sukotto asked between bites of his lasagna.
"I will be thirteen on the first of March. You?"
"My dads tell me with the conversion to Earth's calendar, I will be twelve on the twentieth of April," Sukotto replied. "So… you are a little more than a year older than me."
Noah blushed, "I hope I don't offend you, but looking at you, I feel like I am robbing the cradle."
"That might be because if I had lived the same amount of time on Earth as I did on Darastix, I would barely be nine."
"Did you just calculate that in your head?" Noah was impressed.
"Arithmetic comes easy to Darastixians. When we were doing classes at the sixth-grade level, we had to race a computer, and out of a hundred questions, you have to beat the computer at least eighty times before you may advance."
"How many times did you beat the computer?"
Sukotto looked down, "I'd rather not say. But I will tell you, Shasho beat it one time more than I did. He is very intelligent… and organized."
"I've seen what he did in the Operations Office. So, how many times did Shasho beat the computer?" Noah pushed.
"He beat the computer every single time," Sukotto gushed.
Noah was amazed, "So you beat it ninety-nine times?"
"So… tell me about you…"
It's a rare occasion that Tomo and Juro found themselves both having an entire day off on a day where they didn't have school. Tomorrow just happened to work out that way due to Dave proclaiming, "Emergency Protocol." With the distress call, Dave wanted all the officers to be fully prepared for any eventuality.
Juro and Tomo wanted to spend the night with Zifaa and had gotten permission from their respective parents to do just that. Connor looked at Juro, "I hope you boys have fun, but don't forget tomorrow is Jonas' and Jason's birthday. I expect you boys to be at Holodeck One for the party."
"We will, Opsola, and thank you."
They had eaten their dinners with their respective parents, or guardians (as Dave and Hal were to Zifaa) and met in Zifaa's quarters. Within minutes of their arrival, their clothing was left somewhat neatly on a table then the three of them were sprawled on Zifaa's bed, glorious in their nudity.
Tomo looked at Zifaa and asked, "Has your kiiren (" Draconian slang for the Male Body Part, Cock ") gotten bigger in the last two days?"
"I don't think so, I'm just really happy to spend the night with the two of you. If you want, you can get a good look... and a taste to see if it has," Zifaa laughed.
"What I really want is for you and me to try to perform kliiss (" Draconian term for the act of procreating "), even though it won't work the way it would with a female. Juro and I want to try that together too, but I was watching an old Earth vid called History of the World - Part 1 the other day by a man named Mel Brooks. He played the part of a King and at a wedding he kissed the bride and said, 'It's good to be the king.' You aren't a King, but you're the closest we have. Juro and I agreed that the first one to do that to both of us should be you. We love you, Zifaa."
Over the next two hours, Zifaa initiated his two friends to the wonders of the most intimate relations two boys can have... by the end of the evening all three were exhausted. Juro and Tomo had even gotten the opportunity to experience the act from both sides, giving and receiving from each other.
The boys fell asleep in a tangle of arms and legs. Most people who might have seen them would have trouble understanding how they could be comfortable in that position, but for anyone who has experienced it, they know that the entanglement is more than comfortable, it's contentment.
Dr. Tom Abernathy and Christian Abernathy had been exploring a possible relationship for a few days by this point. They each felt that there was a definite attraction. Dr. Tom took the lead and asked, "So, Christian... I like you very much, and I hope you like me as much. What would you think if I were to ask you formally to be my boyfriend?"
Christian smiled and in his usual off-hand manner replied, "I would much rather you ask me informally, but however you ask, I would give you the same answer… I would love to be your boyfriend."
The two hugged, at which point Dr. Tom started doing a lingual examination of Christian's tonsils. Minutes later the two were naked and in Dr. Tom's bed, performing full examinations of each other.
This activity went on for some time. Dr. Tom, always multi-tasking, a practice he'd learned early in his training as a Doctor. He counted his blessings at the fact that while the ship was in transit there was little chance of his being needed for an emergency. This left him and his staff time to pursue other interests. At this point in time, both Christian and Tom's other interests were each other.
Lying in bed with Dr. Tom after 'exploring' their attraction, Christian chuckled, "It seems I am going to be the most thoroughly examined crew member when it comes to our Doctor."
Tom smiled and said, "I couldn't have asked for a finer specimen. You are so good looking, and you have a fantastic body."
Christian blushed as he added, "At least you know my prostate is in good health."
Tom looked thoughtful, "I don't know... I may need to re-examine it frequently."
"It's our birthday, Pappy, and we want everyone in their birthday suits," Jonas requested.
"You said you wanted your birthday party on the beach, that's what you are getting. As for birthday suit, some of those on the ship may not feel comfortable being naked."
"We were all nakey after dealing with the rogue star," Jonas argued.
Jordan nodded, "Yes, but we also picked up some boys since then."
"We get nakey for our swimming at recess," Jason debated.
"Which you haven't done since we left Draconia this time," Jace reminded them, "What if we give everyone a choice? We can make it clothing-optional and let those that want to wear their birthday suit do so, but those that feel uncomfortable can wear a bathing suit."
"Okay," Jonas pouted.
As everyone entered the holodeck, there was sand that extended into the ocean. Those that were willing lost their clothes right away. Some did wear a bathing suit, like Akage. Kage decided to wear his suit as long as Akage did, as did Jaku and Tei.
A table was set up with plates and chips. Che Sisitsky stood at one grill cooking hamburgers while Aaron Maxwell was at another grilling hot dogs. Randy Jenkins was cutting watermelon. The cooking staff were wearing only their aprons.
Before they ate, Shasho approached Akage, "You wanna go swimming?"
"You're juivend'veh (" Draconian word meaning naked. ")!" Akage exclaimed.
"I know," Shasho grinned, "Opsola Unka Steve suggested it. It's fun. You should try it." Shasho pulled the string on Akage's suit.
Akage felt weird, "I don't know."
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have untied your string. I didn't mean anything by it, but I believe you will have more fun without a suit on."
Akage kept staring at Shasho's face. Sukotto ran up, "Are you two joining us in the water?"
"Yeah, I just need to…" Akage started lowering his suit.
Shasho smiled, "Can I kiss you?"
"You really like me?" Akage was surprised. "I think you look cute and if you wanna kiss me, can I kiss you back?"
"I… I… I hope you do," Shasho turned bashful, but he grabbed Akage and pulled him closer. As he did, Akage's suit dropped.
Kage nudged Jaku and pointed at the new couple. Jaku asked Tei, "You want to get juivend'veh, too?" Tei nodded his head.
Once the food was ready, everyone came out of the ocean and started eating. Ben Maxey waited thirty minutes before bringing in the cake and ice cream. The cake was a peppermint cake with cream cheese icing. The side of cake was blue, Jonas's favorite color with icing life preservers. The top of the cake was red for Jason with a water scene. The boys' names were in gold and "Happy 9th Birthday" was in purple. Two naked male dolls were sitting on top of the cake.
Jordan walked up to Ben, "Don't you think that is a little too risqué for the boys?"
"The boys wanted a naked birthday party on the beach, and these dolls are not anatomically correct. I think the cake is appropriate for this party."
"You do have a point, and knowing the boys, the two dolls will be doing stuff," Jordan conceded.
The Senior Officers were allowed to chat with their families on Thanksgiving, but they were also in the lottery. Jace and Jordan had earlier times but traded them for back-to-back time slots on the last day of the lottery calls, 2 December 2121, the Twins' birthday. Those that traded were happy to be able to call sooner, and Jace and Jordan were happy to talk with their families on their sons' birthday. Ironically, Will Crusoe was one of those who had traded with them.
As the video screen came to life, Jessica Rivers and Heather Blackwell were seated in front of the screen while Jim Rivers and Jason Blackwell stood behind their wives. A lady that neither Jordan nor Jace had ever met was in the background rocking Jace's baby brother, Christmas. She had a boy beside her. Jace thought he recognized the boy but wasn't quite sure. His face looked familiar, Jessica and Heather yelled, "Happy Birthday!!!" and the twins faces lit up.
"How did you know our birthday is today?" Jonas asked.
"Your dads let us know." Jessica confessed.
"Umm… who are that lady and boy? I feel like I should know them," Jace seemed unsure of himself, an expression Jordan had only seen one time before.
Jason looked serious, "Danielle, Robby, I'd like to introduce my son and his husband to you. Jace, Jordan, this is Danielle and Robby Crusoe."
Jace smiled, "You are Will's mom and brother."
"Is it true? Is my brother really a fag and wanting to have sex with me?"
"Robby, Will is the same guy that you have always known. Did he try to have sex with you before he joined Space fleet?"
Robby shook his head, "No, he watched out for me, even beat up a boy his age that was picking on me."
"That sounds like Will. He loves you very much, but as his brother."
"Does he still carry Kochab?" Danielle asked.
"It almost got him in trouble." Jordan explained, "Before we discovered Jason and Jonas were on the ship, our Chief Astrogation Officer lost a penguin almost identical to Kochab, and our Security team thought Will had stolen it. He told us how you've repaired his penguin several times. You are his mom, and he loves you very much."
"I love him, but I don't know if I can accept him loving another boy."
"You should see him and John together; you would see how much they love each other. He is still the same person you have always known, and shouldn't his happiness be more important than the gender of who he loves?"
Robby cried, "Will you tell Will that I am sorry that I called him a fag? He's my brother and I do want to see him."
"We will tell him, won't we, Pappy?" Jonas offered.
"Yes, we will tell him, and I'll suggest that he try chatting with you again."
Danielle looked serious, "No… that is, not unless he has John with him. I want to see both of them, then maybe I can accept his love for another boy."
Jordan wiped his eyes, "We will tell them; I'm sure that will make Will happy. John told Jace that Will was broken hearted after your last chat."
"That wasn't my intention, but I was raised believing homosexuality was wrong, and he sprung it on me. I'm sorry I took so much of your time. I know you called to talk with your parents."
Jason had been sitting quietly on Jace's lap, "That's okay. If we helped Will out, it is the best birthday present you could have given Jonas and me."
"Well, happy birthday, boys, and I think you did help me understand Will better, which does help him."
"I'm glad; we like Will," Jonas added.
The grandparents took back the conversation and chatted with the twins for the remainder of the time they had.
Jace, Jordan and the boys were eating breakfast when they saw John and Will walk in. Jace called them over, "We spoke with our families yesterday and your mom and brother were at the house."
"And?" Will was almost afraid to ask.
"Well, when we started talking, I don't think your mom was ready to come to terms with you being gay. Robby asked a few questions about you. We asked him about how you were before you left and explained that you are the same person as before, that loving John didn't change you."
Jonas shot in, "Robby said he's sorry about calling you a fag and he wants to see you."
"That's a start, thanks." Will started to leave.
Jordan raised his voice, "Wait, Will… there's more."
"Your mom wants you to call her again, but she wants John with you when you do. She's hoping that will help her accept who you are. She's on the verge."
"My birthday is coming up on Sunday. Do you think I can make arrangements to talk with her then?"
Jordan nodded, "I will see to it, and try to get an earlier slot than we have been doing. Do you know what time your mom wakes up? And what time zone she is in?"
"Mom usually wakes up around 0600-ish and she lives in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, so Eastern Time Zone."
"So…" Jordan calculated the time in his head, "she would be waking up around 1100 our time. I will talk to the Captain and see if we can arrange maybe a 1300 conference call for you."
"That would be awesome, thanks," Will chimed as he gave Jordan a hug.
"Captain, we are approaching the planet from where the distress beacon is emitting," Juro announced. "Also, the Shouryou has just joined us."
Dave ordered, "Scan for debris. Did the Hawking crash onto the planet?"
After fifteen minutes, Juro responded, "No sign of a ship, or debris, and I am picking up only one human life sign, Sir."
Dave clicked a button at his station, "Aiden, once we establish orbit around this planet, I would like for you to take a team down. There is only one human life, so two or three of you should be fine."
"Should I arrange for Danny to fly us down?"
"Negative, Aiden, you and either Lieutenant Trevor are qualified to fly a shuttle. I prefer you to keep the team to Security Officers only."
"Understood, Sir. I believe I will keep the team to Łuke and me."
"That should suffice," Dave replied.
Good luck Dad, and be safe, Juro thought.
Aiden and Łuke boarded the Leonardo and flew down to where the beacon was originating. They found a boy fast asleep. After a quick scout around, Aiden woke the boy up. As the boy aroused, Aiden asked him, "Are you from the Stephen William Hawking?"
The boy responded, "I am, or I was. I was the Chief of Tactical and Security, but when the Captain said that he was going to attack Earth, I said I didn't want any part of it, so they dropped me off here with a distress beacon and enough rations to last me a week."
"He said what?!?!" Aiden was surprised. "We need to get back to the Sooloo. You can tell us more after we are on the ship. Łuke, you're flying, I want to speak with Dave on the way back."
After having Kyle set a course back toward Earth, and the SS Stephen William Hawking, Dave joined Hal, Jordan, Aiden and the rescued boy. The boy began to speak, "My name is Commander Frank David. I was the Chief Tactical and Security Officer aboard the Hawking. A few weeks ago, we had visited a planet; it was devoid of animal life but had plenty of foliage. Shortly after, I started noticing many members of the Senior Staff acting different."
"Different, how?" Hal inquired.
"The Captain became gruffer; the First Officer ordered my Assistant Chief Tactical Officer to show Earth's weakest points. Then, five days ago, Captain Aaron Reagan called a staff meeting. He told us that we were going to attack Earth and take over the planet. I told him that he was crazy, and I didn't want anything to do with it. As a result, I was left on that planet. I was given a week's worth of rations and the distress beacon."
"A week's worth, and you've been down on the planet for five days? You still had four days' worth of rations."
"I wasn't sure how soon someone would find me, so I was eating the minimal amount I could. I wanted to extend my chances of being found."
"That makes sense," Aiden conceded.
"The Hawking has a five-day head start. They weren't going full speed, but probably will once they detect you. I don't know how you can catch up, but you need to stop him."
"Has the Hawking been upgraded with the Sinocardian update?"
"No Sir, what is it?" Commander David inquired.
Jordan explained the upgrade and then told him about the increased speed they received from visiting Draconia. He didn't tell him about everything, just enough to let Commander David know that catching up was not an issue.
"Please, if you can just disable the ship, Captain Reagan was a good man before we visited that planet. Maybe your doctor can find a cure for whatever caused all of them to go insane.
Dave and Fleet Admiral Mirah had been discussing various aspects of changes to be made to the crew of the Sooloo. Dave had informed Bill of the promotions he'd done, including making Sukotto an 'Acting Ensign' and assigning him to be trained as a Bridge Tactical Officer.
"I reviewed the plan you sent me that young Shasho prepared for the calls home for the crew. I was extremely impressed how well organized and complete the plan was." Bill averred.
"You and I both, Bill. I have been very impressed with Shasho on many levels. If you saw how he took the already uber-organized Operations Office and made some suggestions and changes that have proven to increase the efficiency of that department by nearly fifteen percent. He is currently working on developing a celebration we want to have just before arriving at Earth. One to allow the crew a chance to celebrate Christmas together in addition to birthdays that will happen while we're on Earth and it would be unlikely that the crew could celebrate together for each of those birthdays."
"Looks like Commander Boyer got very lucky in finding a son who is so much like he is. It's almost as if Shasho was Steve's actual offspring."
"Bill," Dave began, he and Admiral Mirah maintained a very informal posture when it was just the two of them talking, "I would like to put Shasho in for a formal commendation from Space Fleet. He has acted in a manner that would be cause to recognize any fully commissioned officer. Just because he's only at 'acting' status, I don't see why we shouldn't give him the same honors."
"Zippy, I agree. I had a meeting with the Admiralty yesterday to go over your 'acting' officers. They have unanimously approved offering each to take the Ensign's exam and upon their passing, be granted full commissions. I was literally shocked when I called the vote and there wasn't a single dissenting opinion. Write up the recommendation for Ensign Boyer's commendation. I will have it ready to present to him upon his passage of the Ensign's exam."
"There is one other matter I would like to discuss with you, Bill."
"Currently, you have someone on your personal staff, Ronald Abernathy. According to the roster he's listed as your liaison to the Science departments. As you probably know, his twin brother is serving on the Sooloo. Our current Assistant Chief of Sciences, Ali Bakabazi, has elected to give up that position so he can focus on being the head of our ship's school. I would like to offer Ronald the position."
"I will give it some thought. He's been doing a great job for me and I would hate to lose him, but on the other hand, I would never want to get in the way of his advancing his career if the right opportunity presented itself."
"He was fully qualified to be assigned to one of the ships, but with the sheer number of Science qualified candidates, he got passed over."
Bill thought about it for a few moments and replied, "Zippy, consider him transferred as soon as you arrive back on Earth. I will notify him. You have permission to formally inform his twin of the change as well."
"Thank you, Sir."
The two finished discussing several other matters before closing the call.
One thing Will noticed and loved about the ship, with only a few exceptions, the entire crew did their best to make each person aboard the ship know that their birthday was a special day. Today was his, and everyone that he saw today had wished him a happy birthday. Kyle was nice and took a double watch to give John Luke time off to be with Will, but John had to work a double from 0400 to 1200. He should be on his way to meet Will.
As Will approached the Mess, John was standing outside the door. John greeted him with a "Happy Birthday," and the two walked in. Captain Bowman was standing at one end of the Mess and when the two walked in, he cleared his throat, then said, "Today is a day that will live in infamy. On this date in 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, then in 2106, Danielle Crusoe dropped another bomb and Will Robinson Crusoe was born."
Will chuckled, "Thanks, Captain for comparing me to Pearl Harbor."
"All in fun, Will."
When Logan asked Will what his favorite dish was, he had told him pollo francaise, an Italian dish consisting of chicken breast strips cooked in a lemony-butter and white wine sauce. That was being served for lunch.
Around 1230, Ben brought out the cake. This cake was easy for Ben to decorate. John had approached him and made a special request for a simple cake. As Ben brought it out, John dropped down to one knee. He said, "Will…" then pointed to the cake. Will couldn't believe his eyes when he looked at the cake.
He looked at John, "But you said we weren't ready when I asked you…"
John shook his head, "I said we were moving too fast, I wanted to slow things down. We have shared my quarters for over a month, and I know that I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
"John, stand up," Will requested. Everyone thought Will was going to turn John down. As John stood up, Will picked the ring off the cake. "I got this ring for you. I love you more now than the day I got it. The only way I will say yes is if you wear this icing covered ring and kiss me."
John let Will slip the ring onto his finger, then he pulled his love in for the most romantic kiss he could give him.
Jordan approached "Will, I feel like I am rushing you, but you have an appointment in the conference room. Dave said for you to take as much time as you need, but don't let on to everyone else about this."
"Understood and thank you very much."
Will and John raced to the Conference Room and were seated for a few minutes before the monitor flicked alive. Robby Crusoe was standing before them. "Happy Birthday, Will, and I'm sorry for the last video. When will you be home?"
"We expected to be there in about a week, but we were detoured, so it's looking like two weeks."
"A detour in space? Were some space engineers filling in a black hole or something?"
"No Robbie, I can't go into what caused the detour. Where's Mom?"
"Still getting dressed, she said she wanted to look her best for when she meets John. Hi, John."
John chuckled when Robbie waved his hand, "Hi Robbie, I have heard so much about you. Will really loves you and said that you are a great kid. We want to adopt eventually, and Will said that he hopes they turn out as great as you."
"Even after our last chat?"
"His feelings for you have NEVER changed. Yes, he was hurting, but that doesn't mean he changed his mind. On the ship, we have several boys, and their parents have been talking a lot about unconditional love. We forgive you for what you said and are happy that you've had a change of heart."
"Jace explained to me that Will is the same person. Here's Mom."
"You look beautiful, Mom," Will responded.
Danielle smiled, "I was hoping you would like it. I know red is your favorite color, and this is my only red dress."
"It is beautiful, Will's Mom," John added.
"You must be John. You are a handsome young man. And if you are dating Will, you can call me Mom. "
"Mom, John had my birthday cake white with red letters on top, and on the side, he had 'Happy Birthday' in purple."
Confused, Danielle asked, "If Happy Birthday was on the side, what was on top?"
"Well, Will had asked me to marry him a month ago, but we had only started dating, so I wouldn't accept his ring then. So yesterday… I grabbed the ring out of Will's drawer and spoke to the guy who would decorate Will's cake. I asked him to keep the cake simple. He put the open ring box in one corner and the ring in the diagonal corner. Then in red, I asked him to inscribe, 'Will you marry me?'."
"So, you two are getting married? When?"
"We want to get married while we are on Earth, but we would also like for our Captain to perform the ceremony. Unfortunately, he needs to be on a vessel for which he is captain."
Robbie piped in, "Can it be any vessel? Mom, Grandpa gave you that yacht which we have yet to use."
Danielle got excited, "If I make your Captain the Captain of my yacht, can he marry you? It has a ballroom that can hold eighty, so it would be a small wedding."
"I think so, Mom, but I would have to check with Dave," tears of joy ran down Will's face. He knew that his mom not only accepted him being gay but was excited about him marrying John.
John kissed Will gently on the cheek, then looked at Danielle, "Thanks Mom, you have no idea what you just did for Will."
"Yes, yes, I do, I can see how happy he is, and I am glad that I helped make that happen. You are the main person who makes him happy, so please… promise me that you will do everything to keep him happy. Life may not be easy, but if you two strive to keep each other happy, and make compromises, you can make it work."
"Will's happiness is my utmost concern. I love him, and that is an easy promise to make."
"I love you, Will."
"I love you, too, Mom… and you Robbie."
"See you in a couple of weeks, Bro," Robbie replied with a grin.
As John Luke and Will left the conference room, Jordan, Jace and the twins were waiting. Seeing tears running down Will's face, but a smile, Jordan asked, "Well?
"My mom wants to make Dave the captain of her yacht, so he can marry us aboard it," Will gushed.
Jace gave Will a hug, "That is wonderful."
Jonas asked, "So when we talked with your mommy, did we help?"
John replied. "Yes, when you talked to Will's mom, you really helped. She was ready to accept Will being gay before she even spoke with us."
The group went back to the Officers' Mess to celebrate.
"Captain, they've detected us and have increased their speed to max, their max."
"Kyle, increase speed to HF10. Juro, open hailing frequencies."
"SS Stephen William Hawking, this is Captain David Bowman of the SS Sooloo, please respond."