Justin nodded. "I'm not completely sure what to think of this Don just yet, but if he's on the up and up, he certainly sounds like he could be a valuable alley."
"It does," Emily agreed from her station. "But almost too good to be true. There has to be some motive behind him wanting to do all this for us. Maybe to try to cover for something he doesn't want us to find?"
"Now I can see why you were picked as head of security," Chase commented. "Are you this trusting of everyone?"
Emily stared at Chase. "When it comes to the safety of the people I'm responsible for? Yes."
"Lance?" Brent asked changing the subject. "If you're going to get to the UNIT base, and back in time to grab something to eat."
Lance nodded. "Yup. Forth? Stan? Come on guys, you can come to meet the new kids as well, if you want."
Both boys nodded as they quickly followed Lance out of the large double doors toward the conference room.
Twelve-year-old Leroy Dalton missed most of the activity that was going on around him, as he was still laying on the ground trying to deal with the intense pain in his side. He was fairly sure that this time they had broken some of his ribs, since he was usually pretty good at blocking out the pain, but there was no such luck this time. Two hours ago he had made the mistake of trying to prevent the officers from taking the smallest kid in the group, little five-year-old Dwight. Rumor had it, that the little guy was thrown in with the rest of them by his own father. Over the last few days, as he continued to get to know him, he was able to confirm some of those rumors and then some.
As he laid on the ground, he did his best to try to distract himself, and began to think about everything that had happened over the last ten days. That was actually when this hell he seemed to be in started. That's when he saw three kids trying to gang up on his Herbert. For all that he loved him, he also knew that he was the type of kid who wasn't going to be able to defend himself, and would actually make things worse by trying. When Leroy stepped in, that number went up to five. He was actually holding his own fairly well, even when one kid pulled a knife on him. The mistake he had made was one that he will always remember about police in the states. When he spotted two officers walking toward them, he slowed himself down thinking that they would step in and help break things up.
Before he knew it, the officers had him beaten to the ground with their batons, and had his arms cuffed. The next thing he knew, both he, and Herbert had been taken to the juvenile police station, were booked, and locked up. He found out later that the kid that pulled the knife on him was actually the son of one of the police officers. That mistake cost him several days of pain, as not only he and his boyfriend had to sit in jail, but he had to sit there with a few bruised ribs, since the officers there refused to do anything to help him.
From his experience growing up in Brazil, Leroy was well aware of the concept of government corruption. However, when he moved back to the states when his father's tour of duty was over one and a half years ago, he was still not prepared for the amount of corruption he had run into here, especially with law enforcement. During his stay in jail, he had seen a number of little kids as young as seven or eight that should never have been there. Then, four days ago, an even younger kid who could not have been more than five was thrown in with them. Immediately, Leroy made up his mind that he would do everything he could to make sure none of the other kids did anything to him.
Over the last two days Leroy was finally starting to feel a bit better. In fact, he was feeling good enough that, when one of the officers that was known to usually hurt any kid he came for, came to take little Dwight, Leroy went a bit too far in trying to prevent the officer from taking him, and then had six officers on top of him, beating and kicking him back down. Since then, he had been on the floor, as any attempt to move him caused the pain he was feeling to increase to a point that he knew he was close to passing out.
Leroy did his best to try to not to worry his boyfriend, who was being kept in one of the other cells, from worrying too much. However, it was fairly obvious to anyone who looked at him, just how bad of shape he was in. Even when all the shouting and firing of guns in the hallway outside of the holding cells started, Leroy was only vaguely aware of it. He was so far out of it, that it didn't even register when some of the other kids started talking about other kids in military uniforms literally taking out all the officers and taking over the station.
It wasn't until the world around him completely changed that he and his body took notice. In an instant, he knew he was somewhere different. The temperature was different, the lighting in the room was different, the smell was different, all the concerned voices and sounds of various types of equipment was different, even the pressure in the room felt different.
With his adrenaline starting to kick in, Leroy forced his body to twist around, as two kids in white coats, neither older than fifteen, were walking toward him, "What's going on?"
"It's okay, your safe now," One of the kids said as he started scanning him with an odd looking device. "Oh damn," the boy said before calling out, "Doc! We got a real bad one over here."
A few moments later, an older lady, perhaps in her late twenty's, walked over dressed in a white lab coat. "What do you have?" Before the woman had finished speaking, she was already taking out another device similar to what one of the kids had been looking at.
"Multiple broken ribs, massive internal bleeding, and that's just to start with," the kid replied.
The doctor nodded, "It's a wonder this kid is still alive, let alone conscious. Get him on trauma bed seven. We need to deal with that bleeding stat."
"Wait," Leroy did his best to call out as he noticed the room he was in getting more crowded. "What about Herbert? You guys need to help him."
"I'm right here," Herbert called out from somewhere close by. "I'm okay. You need to let them help you."
Leroy groaned in agony as pain shut through his body when someone tried to lift him up.
"This won't work," one of the medic kids said. "Daileass, could you teleport this guy to trauma bed seven? I don't want to risk moving him any more than we need to."
Moments later, the world around Leroy shifted again as he found himself on something soft. Looking around, it looked like he was on some type of strange bed. Moments after that, the doctor, the two medics, and Herbert walked up to the foot of the bed.
"Will he be okay?" Herbert asked with concern as he watched the main doctor pressing several buttons on a panel attached to the foot of the bed.
One of the medic's walked over and wrapped an arm around the curly, auburn haired eleven-year-old to pull him back a bit. "Don't worry, next to Doctor Janet, Doctor Linda is one of the best doctors we have. She'll get your friend fixed up."
"You guys need to help Dwight," Leroy stated, with his voice clearly full of pain. "He's the smallest. They're going to hurt him, I... I know..."
"Leroy?" Herbert gasped as his boyfriend stopped in mid sentence and his entire body relaxed.
"It's okay," the medic that was holding onto Herbert tried to reassure. "The biobed just put him to sleep so that he can start repairing his body."
Seeing that Leroy's chest was slowly rising and falling, confirming he was asleep and not dead, Herbert relaxed slightly.
"Who was Dwight?" the boy asked. "I don't think any of the kids that were in the cells were called Dwight."
"He was a really little guy, who was dragged out of the holding area about two hours before you guys arrived," Herbert stated. "He's only five years old, short dark auburn hair, really cute soft blue eyes."
Both of the young medics shared a quick glance, and the one that was holding onto Herbert deflated. "Could you come with me for a moment?"
Herbert followed the boy across the room and into a second, smaller room which only had four of the special medical beds in it. Walking to the back of the room, he stopped at the same bed that the kid he was following did, and saw little Dwight laying on it.
"Is this him?" the medic asked. "Is this Dwight?"
Herbert slowly nodded, "Yeah, that's him. Is he going to be okay?"
The medic typed a few commands on the panel at the foot of the bed, and glanced at some of the output that was displayed as a result. "He will be. It was touch and go for a bit when he first got here. If it was another ten to fifteen minutes later, he wouldn't be alive right now. But since none of the telepaths have been able to stop by yet, we don't know anything about him."
"I think his name is Dwight Bouchard, he's been in the holding area for the last four days. His dad, who is one of the officers at the station, put him in there because he wouldn't lie for him to get an older kid in trouble."
The medic shook his head as he typed in the updated information on the bed's panel. "I don't understand adults sometimes."
"Kids aren't always the nicest either," Herbert added.
The teen nodded, "Has anyone checked you out yet?"
Herbert shook his head, "Other than being a bit tired and hungry, I feel fine. Leroy helped a lot in getting the other guys to leave me alone."
The boy nodded as he walked over to one of the empty biobeds. "That sounds good, but still, if you don't mind jumping up and laying down on here real quick, I still think it would be a good idea to get you in the system, and make sure there is nothing else wrong with you."
Herbert nodded and laid down on the biobed as he was asked to do.
"What's your name?" the boy asked as he started typing commands in the panel.
"Herbert Sharp," he answered.
The boy nodded. "Hum, this says your physically eleven years old? But you seem to be a bit small for elelven."
"Eleven and a half," Herbert corrected. "And I've always been on the small side, ever since I was a little kid."
"I'll need to get Doctor Linda to confirm this, but if I'm reading this right, it looks like there are a lot of nutrient deficiencies," the boy stated as he tried to make sense of the information he was seeing.
"My mom didn't really have all that much money, so food was hard to come by sometimes," Herbert replied.
The boy nodded, "Okay, well beyond that you seem to be fine. I want Doctor Linda to look over this just to see what she thinks, but now that you're added into the system, she can pull that up from any station."
"So I can get down now?" Herbert asked.
"Yup," the boy replied as he put the biobed back into stand-by mode. "Although, I have one last question for you. What is your favorite flavor? Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, or blueberry?"
"Hum, probably strawberry. Why?" Herbert answered.
"Here ya go." The boy answered by handing Herbert a large strawberry milkshake that mysteriously appeared in his hand. "It's a special protein milk shake that a number of other kids here like drinking. It's been specially designed by Doctor McCoy to not only help to repair some of the damage and lack of nutrients caused by malnutrition, but to also taste good."
Herbert took a sip from the the thick, icy cold shake and his eyes immediately lit up. "Wow, this really is good."
"Told ya you would like it," the boy grinned. "Now, let's see where you should go while we figure out what's going to happen to you guys next."
"Actually," Herbert asked, "Would it be okay if I stayed near Leroy? I promise not to get in the way."
The boy nodded as he lead Herbert back to the other room where Leroy was at. Already, Herbert could see where the large black and blue bruise on his side was starting to fade away, as were several of the other bumps and bruises he had.
For the next hour, that's where Herbert stayed, watching in awe as his boyfriend's body literally healed itself in front of his eyes. At one point, when things seemed to start quieting down a bit, he got a little adventurous and went to check on Dwight once, but most of the doctors and medics that were walking around wanted to keep people out of that room.
Herbert was lost in thought, thinking about how lucky he was to have someone as special as Leroy who would love him for who he was, and would go as far as letting himself get arrested for him, and would fight to protect him, when so many others were quick to cut him down because he wasn't the tallest or coolest. He was knocked out of those thoughts when a new group of people entered the room, six kids and an adult.
"Dr. Linda?" a thirteen-year-old, short brownish-blond haired boy called out.
"Yes?" the doctor replied as she looked up from one of the biobeds she was checking.
"I was told that I could find you here," the boy replied. "Um, I'm Brent Knocks."
The doctor stopped what she was working on and walked over toward the group. "Ah yes, the Nevada Division Director. It's nice to meet you."
"Thanks," Brent smiled. "This is my boyfriend, and one of the Assistant Division Directors, Lance. The two guys behind me are two of the kids we rescued earlier, Darrin and Tyson. These little guys trying to break away from us to explore the room are two of our clones, Forth and Stan. And this gentleman next to me is Dominic Torricelli, Ronnie's friend."
"I see," the doctor deflated a bit at the mention of Ronnie's name.
Picking up on this, Dominic glanced around the room until he saw the biobed that Ronnie was laying on, and immediately made a b-line for that location. "Ronnie!" Seeing the sleeping boy on the bed, he looked toward the doctor, eyes filled with concern. "Will he be alright, doc?"
Linda sighed as she hit a few buttons on the panel at the foot of the bed, and glanced at the displayed report. "We've fixed most of the physical issues that we can fix. However, it appears he's taken a few strong blows to the head. There was some mild damage to a few portions of his brain that is beyond the biobed's ability to repair."
Dominic gasped and a look of horror filled his face.
Linda quickly continued before the man had a chance to say anything. "With this light of injury, it's possible that there may be no visible effects at all. On the other hand, it's equally possible that there may be some memory loss, or other type of functionality loss. There's really no way to say until we're able to wake him up."
"You can't wake him up either?" Dominic's voice was full of emotion.
Linda shook her head to stop his line of thinking. "It's not that. The biobed has Ronnie in an artificial coma right now. We are waiting for the last amount of swelling in the back of his head to go down before we allow him to wake up. Looking at the current decrease of swelling, I would say we will probably be able to do that in about one and a half to two hours."
Dominic nodded with understanding as he looked at Ronnie, and then back toward the doctor, "May I stay here with him?"
Linda nodded understandingly, "Of course. There is a chair over there, or of course your welcome to stand. You can hold his hand if you want, but I would ask that you please don't move him or do anything else to him, as the biobed has very sensitive equipment that it is using to monitor him."
Dominic agreed, "Thanks."
"How are the rest of our guys?" Brent asked.
"For the most part, fine," the doctor motioned for one of the younger medics to come over. "However, before I get into that, this is Jon, one of our trained medics. If Darrin and Tyson don't mind, he can take care of doing their initial scans and get them into the system. Mainly, we are wanting to make sure there are no medical issues that need to be addressed."
Brent looked up toward the two older boys, who each nodded their heads.
Once Jon had lead the two older boys to one of the biobeds to start their checkups, and had given Forth and Stan permission to go watch, Doctor Linda continued, "For the most part, most of your guys checked out fine. There were a few bumps and bruises here and there that we fixed up, a few cases of malnutrition, but nothing that major. Many of the children showed signs of recent abuse. I'll make sure a full report of our findings is made available to you for use in dealing with those responsible for this."
"Thanks Doctor," Brent stated and Lance agreed.
"Please, call me Linda," the lady replied.
Brent nodded, "Okay Linda. You said for the most part, I'm guessing that means that's not true for all of our guys?"
Linda sighed and shook her head. "The five-year-old that one of the strike teams brought in, who we've been able to identify as Dwight, is still in serious condition. He had, well, almost too many injuries to mention. Had he not gotten here when he did, things would have turned out far worse. As it stands, he's still going to need another hour or two on the biobed."
Next, the doctor looked toward a biobed with a twelve-year-old boy laying on it, and a skinny eleven-year-old standing next to it. "There was also a twelve-year-old who had three broken ribs, and serious internal bleeding. Given the amount of time that the boy was suffering since the ribs were broken... Well, to be honest, it's nothing short of a miracle that he was still alive when he got here."
"They beat him up, when he tried to stop them from taking Dwight," the boy standing next to the biobed stated.
Lance looked toward the boy, "You know him?"
The boy hesitantly nodded.
'His name is Herbert,' Lance heard Daileass say in his mind. 'He's worried you won't accept him or his boyfriend, Leroy, who is the boy on the bed.'
Lance nodded, and walked closer toward the bed so he could get a better look at the shirtless, very well built, boy who was laying on it. "Your name is Herbert, right?"
Herbert blinked in surprise, "Yeah, how did you know?"
Lance looked deeper into Herbert's eyes and saw not only the fear that Daileass had tipped him off to, but also a huge amount hurt and sadness. "You don't need to worry anymore. Your under the protection of Clan Short now, and no one is going to ever hurt you again."
"Yeah, right," Herbert sighed. "You're just a kid like me. I don't see how you can make promises like that."
Lance started to giggle.
"What?" Herbert asked as he gave Lance a weird look.
Lance shook his head, "Sorry, it was just funny. If you had told me that a few days ago, I might have believed you. But over the last month since I've been a part of the clan, I've seen example after example of how being a kid doesn't have to mean your weak and powerless."
"He's right," Brent agreed. "In fact, the entire reason you guys are here right now, and not back at that shit hole they called a jail, is because someone tried to hurt a kid that was under our protection. As a result, we took down the police station that was holding him."
"Here's another example," Lance added. "If you remember, the guys that came in and took over the station, they were also kids. The telepaths that came and scanned you guys were kids, and most of the medics that are helping people here in the med bay are kids."
Herbert shrugged his shoulders and looked back toward the biobed, "I just want Leroy to wake up and be okay."
Seeing Lance throw a questioning glance in her direction, the doctor nodded. "All of Leroy's injuries are chest and lower body related, which the biobed is very good at fixing. It should have all of those as well as a bunch of older injuries that appeared to have gone untreated, fixed up, and he should be as good as new in about an hour."
Herbert nodded and smiled as Lance walked back toward Brent and the doctor.
"The only other real issue," Linda stated, "is the malnutrition that several of the kids are suffering from in one degree or the other. Is your base doctor familiar with Doctor McCoy's special protein milk shakes?"
Lance and Brent glanced toward each other, and Brent sighed, "Actually, although we have a nice medical facility with sixteen biobeds that was setup last week, we don't have any real medical staff yet, which is why we had to send all our guys over here."
"You guys are a Clan Division and you have no medical staff?" Doctor Linda asked with concern.
Brent nodded, "Our compound was just built last night, and we didn't become an official division until today."
Linda's concern shifted more toward understanding. "Okay, that's not as bad then, but we do need to see about getting you guys a staff."
Brent seemed a little lost, "We talked with General Casey last night, and he said that we were free to hire any medical staff we needed, but things have been so crazy today, we really don't know where to start."
Linda nodded, "I think I know someone who might be able to help with that." Before Brent or Lance could say anything, the doctor was already tapping her comm badge. "Doctor Green to Doctor McCoy."
A few moments later, the rather irritated sounding voice of an older man replied, "What is it? This had better be good, My god son is feeling... a little feverish, and I'm hearing strange voices in my head telling me to come release them or something."
Linda was momentarily caught off guard, "Um, Sorry to bother you doctor," she stated cautiously, "I have a few people here that could use some help in finding some good doctors and nurses to fill out their medical staff."
"Dammit Linda, I'm a doctor, not a human resource officer," McCoy replied with his voice somehow sounding even more irritated than before.
Linda grinned, which was a reaction any of the boys listening were expecting. "I understand that doctor. However, I figured that since the people in question are the kids from the new Nevada Division, I thought that perhaps..."
Doctor McCoy's voice cut her off before she should finish, "The Nevada Division? Why didn't you say that to begin with? I've heard some good things about those boys. If that division is going to be anything like the rest of the divisions in this Clan, they are going to need some top notch staff. None of this second rate crap that Human Resources will probably try to push off on to them. I'll be right there."
As Linda closed the call, Brent and Lance looked at her with shocked expressions.
Linda smiled warmly, "He may seem like a grouchy old man, but he has one of the biggest hearts I've ever seen in someone."
Brent nodded, "We know exactly who Doctor McCoy is, and he's one of the top, if not THE top, doctors in Starfleet, and that he helps out the Clan a lot. We were just surprised that he is interested in personally helping us out."
Doctor Green nodded, "Well, it would seem that you have already impressed him somehow. Which, I might add, is not an easy thing to do."
At about this time, Forth and Stan bounced back over to Brent and Lance, with the two older boys close behind.
"Did everything go okay?" Lance asked.
The heads of both Forth and Stan started bobbing up and down as Forth answered for them, "Yup. We got to see Jon work the biobed, and we got to talk to one of the gorillas.
"Gorillas?" Brent asked, a bit confused.
"Yeah," Stan replied as he pointed across the room toward two rather large, nearly eight foot tall gorillas, that appeared to be keeping an eye on everything that was happening in the room. "That one there. He's really nice."
"Welcome to the UNIT base," Linda chuckled. "Those are some of the many hybrids that you will find around here."
Brent nodded, "I'm aware of the hybrids, we have some of the cat hybrids in our personal security team. I just didn't know there were also Gorillas, and that they were that... big."
Both gorillas began to smile in Brent's direction.
"And apparently they have really good hearing too," Lance observed, which was confirmed by each gorilla nodding.
"We've had a number of rescues today, in addition to your guys, so they are helping out with security," Linda offered.
Brent nodded, "Speaking of rescues, where are the rest of our guys at, they don't seem to be in here."
Linda glanced toward the door. "I believe they are in waiting room eight. Until we knew what was going to be happening to them, we figured we should try to keep them separate from the other intake kids."
"Thanks," Lance offered. "I think the plan is to see if any of them have caring parents that are willing to accept them back, and for the ones that don't, to give them the offer of either staying with us at our compound in Las Vegas, or to go to one of the other Clan divisions."
"That's a good thought," Linda agreed. "Usually the kids that are rescued end up having parents that no longer want them, or that are unfit to be parents. But it's still good that you are at least thinking of checking."
"Okay, where are they?" Everyone's attention was drawn toward the entrance of the room as Doctor McCoy made his way in and started looking around. "Where are those Nevada boys that need some expert staffing help?"
Instinctively, Forth hid behind Brent, and Stan hid behind Lance.
"Don't worry guys," Daileass stated from one of the terminals, "Doc McCoy might seem like a real meanie, but he's actually one of the nicest doctors in Starfleet."
"As far as YOU go..." McCoy said as he spun around to face the terminal, "Don't you go thinking for one second that just because you might not have any flesh and blood running through that posa-whatever-you-call-it that I can't arrange to have a full level five diagnostic performed on each of your processor cores."
The terminal made a sound which could only be described as a 'gulping' sound. Immediately after that, the entire terminal went dark.
"Now that we have that settled," McCoy said as he turned back around with a satisfied smile on his face, "Where is that new division director at."
Brent hesitantly raised his hand.
McCoy nodded as he walked toward him. "I figured as much. You definitely have that division leadership look in your eye. And you even have a little guy hiding behind you." McCoy took hold of Brent's hand as he was lowering it, and made some careful observations. Releasing his hand, he looked closer at his eyes, "And, you haven't been getting the right amount of sleep, or nutrition, from the looks of it."
"The last week has been pretty crazy," Brent tried to defend himself.
"That's no excuse," McCoy snapped back. "I can see that I was called just in time. I think I know the perfect person to head up your medical facilities. She's not one of those push-over doctors either. No sir, she certainly knows her stuff. Which shouldn't be too surprising, since I helped to train her."
"Can you check me out too?" Forth said as he hesitantly stepped from behind Brent, with one of his hands raised in the air, mimicking what Brent had done.
McCoy looked at the eight-year-old, and walked over and knelt down in front of him, lowering his hand, "Well, I'll be," he began to say before looking more closely at some of Forth's features. "This is one of the A.G.E. Clones?"
"Yes," Brent nodded.
"How old are you, son?" McCoy asked in a much calmer, softer voice.
Not knowing which answer he should give, Forth looked toward Lance, who just nodded, "Six months," he answered shyly.
McCoy nodded, "I thought so. The distance between the eyes is off slightly, and the forehead is too small. I'm betting he still has a soft spot in the back of his head?"
"I think that's what it's called," Lance replied. "But to be honest, we don't really understand all the genetic stuff."
McCoy shook his head and grumbled. "Damn Geneticists, always trying to play god with their gene splicing's, but never willing to stick around and be accountable for the kids they leave behind."
Getting very little reaction from anyone else, McCoy stood back up and turned toward Brent. "I'd like to come and personally inspect your medical facilities if you don't mind. From what I've heard, it sounds like a Starfleet requisition job, and they would forget to send hypo sprays if it wasn't on their list."
"Okay," Brent answered as he looked at the time. "But Lance and I have to run a trial in about a half an hour. Maybe after that's over?"
McCoy nodded, "Fine. That will actually give me some time to make a few phone calls. Will you be free in 2 hours?"
Brent looked toward Lance, who nodded, "We should be."
"Perfect, I'll expect to see you then. Doctor?" McCoy looked toward Linda, "Do you have a terminal around here that I could use to make some private calls?"
Doctor Linda nodded. "Sure, you can use the one in my office, across the hall."
With a nod, McCoy left the room.
"He really does mean well," Linda offered after McCoy had left.
Brent agreed, "I'm sure he does. But we really are starting to get low on time. Do you think you could show me how to get to waiting room eight?"
The doctor nodded, "Sure, I'll take you there."
"One thing first," Brent said, stopping her, and looking over toward Herbert. "Herbert, would you mind coming with us. What I need to say, you should probably there as well. It won't take long, then you can come back to be with Leroy."
Herbert nodded, and followed Brent and the others out of the room.
The light, guarded conversation that was going on within waiting room eight abruptly stopped as Brent and the others entered. At the same time, eighteen pairs of eyes turned toward him, with many of the kids having recognized both Brent and Lance from earlier at the station.
As Brent looked at the group of kids staring back, he still couldn't believe how young some of them were, with a few being the same size, if not smaller than Forth and Stan were. "Hey guys," Brent began. "I can see the concern in most of your faces, so let me start out with this. I'm not sure how many of you know about Clan Short, but as soon as you guys came to this facility, you were all placed under the protection of our clan. None of you will need to worry about being hurt or in many of your cases, falsely accused again."
A few of the kids sighed with relief, but many of the kids remained skeptical. "What happens to us now?" One of the kids asked.
"That depends," Lance answered. "If any of you have loving parents that still want you, and are willing to care about and for you, and raise you, you can be returned to them if you would like."
Several kids shook their heads as another kid's answer seemed to resonate with many of the other kids. "My dad threw me out on the streets in the first place, he ain't never going to want me back."
"In that case," Brent took over, "If any of you are interested, you are invited to come live with us at our compound in Las Vegas. Or if you don't want to stay with us, you can stay at one of the other Clan compounds across the country. Or, if you don't want to be associated with the Clan, we can turn you over to Social Services."
At the mention of Social Services, several of the kids coughed or made gagging sounds.
Brent let himself grin a little, "Okay, so the Social Services idea is out."
"What do we have to do for you if we stick around?" One of the older boys asked.
"How do we know you guys will be any better than Social Services?" Another, slightly younger boy asked.
"I don't know," A third boy offered, "I've actually heard a lot about Clan Short, they seem to be doing a lot to help kids all over the country."
Brent nodded as he was thankful for the small amount of support. "To answer the first question. You will never have to do anything sexual if that is what you mean. In fact, you will never have to do anything like that again, unless it's an action you willingly take with another willing individual. The only thing you will have to do, if you stay with us, is to continue your education, and strive to become the best person you can be."
"That's it?" The same older kid asked with an obvious tone of disbelief.
"Well," Brent continued, "There are a few other little things, like you will be expected to keep your bedrooms clean and stuff. Then there will be some other optional jobs you can sign up for to get some extra spending money. Not the jobs you guys are thinking about, but jobs like helping out in the kitchen, or helping to pick up trash outside and stuff. But as far as required, expected stuff, that's about it. Your schooling, and keeping your personal areas clean."
Seeing no additional challenges to that question, Brent continued to the next. "As far as the other question, about how to know we will be better than Social Services. I can't really give you guys any proof other than what some of you have heard about Clan Short already. But, what I can do is give you guys an option. If you guys want, come and stay with us for a week or so and see how things work out, and after that if you decide it's not your thing, then we can send you to anywhere else of your choosing that is willing to take care of you. Or, for you guys who are 16 or older, you can test your luck out on the streets, if that's really what you want."
"You would really let us test you guys out, and then leave if it's not for us?" Another kid asked in disbelief.
Brent nodded, "Yes."
Many of the kids looked toward each other.
"I know this is a big decision for many of you, so you guys can think about it for a bit, and then let us know." Brent stated.
"Besides, the fact that anywhere is better than rotting away in juvey jail, if you guys are willing to put a roof over our heads, and feed us, and only expect us to get an education, I'm definitely in for trying it," one of the fourteen-year-olds stated.
Immediately, nearly every kid in the room began to agree.
"Cool," Brent replied after waiting a few moments for things to quiet back down, "Is there anyone that does NOT wish to come with us?"
Brent spent a few moments looking around the room to see if anyone would raise their hand, which no one did. "Okay, Herbert, you can go back to Leroy now if you want. The doctor should be contacting us as soon as his, or any of the other guys that we have here, status changes."
Herbert nodded as he left the room.
"As for everyone else," Brent smiled and then became concerned, "Um, Daileass, how will you transport a group this big? Do you need us to all get in the middle of the room, or something?"
With a small hint of amusement, Daileass's voice could be heard from the speakers in the room, "That's easy, I'll just do this..."
As the A.I.'s voice trailed off, every kid that was in the room vanished at the same time, leaving behind a completely empty waiting room.
General Jack Bryce straightened the collar of his full military uniform as he inspected himself through the mirror. The head of the UNIT base was mildly surprised at just how sparkly and shiny his multiple metals were. Although he would often gripe at the antics of the ferret hybrids, nothing could ever be said about their ability to really make things shine.
With the majority of the UNIT command staff currently deployed in Russia, he was slightly apprehensive in doing anything that would take him away from the base. However, once Daileass had given him all the details in regards to the developing events at the Las Vegas base regarding the Farthing trial, he refused to allow anyone else to handle a situation that was this delicate.
Feeling that his uniform was as good as it was going to get, he made his way out of his room, and down the hall into the small office area where two, somewhat young looking, Vulcans were waiting for him. One of the Vulcans was a female, dressed in a Starfleet uniform, while the second was a male, dressed in traditional black robes, with a dark brown tunic occasionally showing.
"General Bryce," yhe robed Vulcan stated flatly as he took a step forward, "I am Sylok. I have been dispatched by the Vulcan embassy to assist with the pending Las Vegas trial."
The female Vulcan stepped forward to join Sylok. "I am Ensign T'Livi. Starfleet has assigned me from Terra Main to assist with the same."
Jack nodded. as he knew both Vulcans were very distinguished telepaths. "That will be acceptable Sylok and Ensign T'Livi. Please ready yourselves, we shall leave as soon as our security escort arrives."
Both Vulcans gave a very slight nod of acknowledgment.
"Daileass?" Jack asked, "Is there anything else we should be aware of?"
Before Daileass was able to reply, three boys who were each around fourteen years old, and also dressed in full dress uniforms, entered the room, nodded toward Jack, and took up positions behind the two Vulcans. To any other person, the three boys would have seemed like normal kids. But having known each of them personally, Jack was well aware that they were each genetically enhanced genesis kids, and were very well armed.
"I think your good to go Jack," Daileass replied. "I've been able to confirm that all individuals in question are exactly where we are expecting them to be. "
Jack nodded as he joined the rest of his assembled group. "In that case, please teleport us as soon as you are ready."
Moments later, Jack found himself standing at the end of the sidewalk that was in front of a middle sized white house with off grey shutters. There was a single light that shone through the window that was closest to the red front door.
Almost immediately on arriving, the three men and three boys made their way to the door, where Jack knocked on it. A few moments later, a pair of eyes briefly appeared looking out through the blinds in the window. Seconds after this, the front porch light turned on, and the door opened revealing a middle aged man and woman.
Immediately, on seeing the uniform of the four star general, the man snapped to attention and saluted. The reason he saluted was not as much for the rank of the man standing before him, but was more a result of seeing the congressional metal of honor that was draped down around the man's neck.
The man held his salute until Jack saluted as well. "Samantha and Desmond Meyers?" he asked in his naturally authoritative voice.
"Yes?" Samantha replied, after giving a questionable look to her husbands behavior.
"My name is General Jackson Bryce of the special forces division of Family Clan Short of Vulcan," Jack introduced. "I apologize for bothering you so late in the evening. I was wondering if I might take a few minutes of your time."
Samantha looked up toward her husband who quickly nodded, "Of course General, please come in."
Jack and the rest of his group followed the couple into the front room. Although the General took the seat that was offered to him, the two Vulcan's choose to remain standing slightly behind the General, while each of the three boys took up positions so that they were standing in the background, but also formed a triangular pattern around the room, the the General in the center of their triangle.
"Can I get you a drink, General?" Desmond asked.
"Thank you, but I'm fine." Jack replied.
Desmond nodded and sat down next to his wife. "What's this all about, General?"
Jack nodded and began, "Are either of you familiar with a Mrs. Glenda Farthing?"
The couple looked at each other, and each of their faces paled. "That was a long time ago," the woman answered. "But she was the councilor at our oldest son's middle school who first... first discovered the abuse that was being done to him."
Jack nodded, "Your son Steve, right?"
"That's right," Samantha's answer was noticeably guarded. "Why is that important?"
"You may or may not be aware of this," Jack stated, knowing full well that they were not, "but Glenda Farthing was arrested earlier today, and is currently under investigation for several charges of irreparable harm she may have done to a number of children she had come in contact with."
The two adults looked at each other in surprise. "Mrs. Farthing is a good woman, General," the woman defended. "She is very dedicated and very concerned about every child she meets."
Jack nodded, doing his best to keep his professional composure. "Mr. and Mrs. Meyers, what I'm about to ask might seem a bit odd, but the reason I'm here this evening is to ask for yours and Steve's permission to perform a telepathic scan on him."
Desmond sat up a bit straighter and became somewhat alarmed. "You want to telepathically scan our son? Why?"
Jack did his best to sound as reassuring as possible. "The only thing we are interested in is in regards to Farthing. The two Vulcan's you see behind me are trained Vulcan telepaths, they will only be looking for, and recording information only in regards to your son's interaction with Farthing, or Herman Kemp."
Just as Jack had expected, there was a very noticeable reaction at the mention of Herman's name. Finally, after a few seconds, Desmond replied, "General. As I'm sure you are aware, Herman is the root cause of most of our family issues over the last three years. He's the one who not only molested our son, but also brainwashed him and scared him so much that he, even to this day, refuses to admit what that dirty old man did to him."
Samantha nodded toward her husband. "Normally we would not want to have anything to do with telepathic scans, but this has destroyed our family life for the past three years, so if this might have any chance of finally helping Steve admit and deal with what was done to him, we would be willing to go along with it."
Jack nodded, "I can not make any promises, as this is simply a telepathic scan. However, given the nature of the mind melds that would be occurring to perform the scan, such things are certainly not out of the question. I probably should also mention that before the scan happens, Steve would also need to agree to it. If the boy doesn't agree, then the scan will not happen."
Desmond shook his head, "I don't think you really understand how much this has torn our family apart, sir. As Steve's parents, we give you permission to perform the scan regardless."
Jack nodded, "I am well aware of what you are saying, and I can appreciate the situation you are in. However, as you are probably aware, Clan Short is a very strong believer in the rights of a child. Therefor, if Steve were to say no, then it will not happen."
Both adults nodded as Desmond turned his head and called out toward the stairs, "Steve, please come downstairs for a few moments."
"What?" An annoyed voice called back. Moments later, a sixteen year old boy with a spiked haircut, wearing a skull and crossbones T-Shirt, stomped down the stairs, followed not far behind by a twelve-year-old.
"What's going on?" the younger boy asked.
"It's nothing Kenny," Samantha replied. "Be a good boy, and go back up stairs."
The smaller boy huffed and sighed, but turned around and made his way back up stairs. Of course, Jack knew that the boy was still standing their listening, just out of sight.
"Steve?" the father began, "General Bryce here has a few questions he would like to ask you."
Seeing how the older teen immediately stiffened, Jack decided to change his plans slightly and stood up from his chair. "Actually, if you two don't mind, I would like to talk to Steve alone for a few minutes. I promise nothing will be done without both of you being present."
Both adults reluctantly nodded, as Jack took a few steps forward, and motioned for Steve to follow him down the hall and into the kitchen. The entire time, Steve stayed a few steps behind the man, and kept a very guarded eye on him.
"How are you doing, Steve?" Jack began.
"Fine," Steve answered flatly. "What's this all about, General?"
Jack nodded and agreed that getting right to the point would probably be best. "Please, call me Jack. As far as what this is all about, would I be correct in assuming you are familiar with a Mrs. Farthing?"
"You could say that," Steve answered defiantly as his eyes narrowed and his face filled with anger. "I thought you guys would have given up by now. I'm still not changing my answer. Nothing happened between us."
Jack was glad that his instinct was right about how strong of a chord he hit and was glad he decided to speak to Steve alone to start with. "Actually, I believe you that nothing happened, and I'm not here to try to get you to change your mind."
"You believe me?" Steve spoke in disbelief, not expecting to have heard anyone say that.
Jack nodded, "In fact, Mrs. Farthing was arrested earlier today."
"Serious?" Steve asked as the anger began to disappear from his face.
Seeing that the boy was in a slightly better condition to listen to him, Jack decided to go into a little more detail. "Part of the reason I'm here is to gather information in regards to Farthing. The two Vulcan's that you saw out in the other room are very skilled telepaths. With your permission, I would like one of them to scan you for the purpose of gathering information in regards to Farthing and Herman to be used as evidence against her in her trial this evening."
Steve blinked, still not convinced that after fighting this for the last three years, what he was hearing was correct. "Nothing happened between us."
"I understand that," Jack agreed, "That is also what this scan will help prove once and for all."
Steve sighed, "You could have a hundred telepaths scan me, and I don't think anything will ever convince my parents. They keep nagging me about this so much, they are even starting to turn my own little brother against me."
Jack nodded his understanding, "I know. That's the second part to why I'm here."
"What do you mean?" Steve asked curiously.
Jack took a few moments to make sure he worded what he was about to say correctly. "If things turn out the way that I think they will with the scan: there might be a chance that portions of that scan can be shared with your parents. Then, they would see exactly what happened between you and Herman, and what your life has been like for the last three years."
Steve stumbled backward and barely stopped himself from falling. "You could do that?"
Jack nodded, "It may be an option, yes. But keep in mind, if it were to happen, they would see everything, even the little things that you have done wrong."
"I don't care," Steve said seriously. "They've been holding this over my head for the last three years, and nothing I've said or done has been able to get them to listen to me. If you're not lying to me, and you're being serious, then I don't really care if they see the little things."
Jack sighed, as he could already see a small glimmer of hope appear in the boy's still heavily guarded eyes. He could only imagine what the last three years must have been like for him. "Like I said, it's not a decision to be made lightly. You don't have to make it now, you can continue to think about it until I let you know that it's an option."
Steve nodded his head, "Alright."
"Do you have any questions for me before we go back out to join the others?" Jack asked.
"Will the scan hurt much?" Steve asked after thinking for a few moments. "I've seen movies where people who were scanned would scream out in pain."
Jack shook his head and sighed, "I wish movies like that were never made. But no, it won't hurt at all. One of the Vulcan telepaths will put his fingers on your head for a few moments, but that's about it."
Steve nodded, and with that, the two walked back out to join the others.
"Steve has decided to accept the scan," The General announced as he walked back into the middle of the room, followed not far behind by Steve.
Both adults appeared to be visibly relieved. "What does he have to do?" Steve's father asked.
"It's relatively simple," Jack explained. "Steve will just sit down in the chair here, and Sylok will place a hand on his face for a few minutes while he initiates the mind meld, and performs the scan."
As both adults nodded, Steve did as instructed and sat down on the chair as Sylok kneeled down beside him, placing his hands in the standard mind meld positions on the boy's face.
"My mind to your mind," The Vulcan began. "My thoughts to your thoughts...."
A few minutes later, the Vulcan stood up. "It is done," he stated with a small hint of mental effort. "Please allow me a few moments to share what I have learned with my colleague."
Sylok then walked to the back and melded with the other Vulcan. Two minutes later, when their meld broke, the Vulcan turned toward Jack. "General Bryce, I am prepared to give you a copy of the meld as well, if you so desire. However, I must inform you that you may not find its contents that agreeable."
Jack nodded, already knowing that this was something he would need to do. "Please proceed Mr. Sylok." The Vulcan nodded, and walked to Jack and initiated the meld.
A few minutes later when the meld was complete, Jack's heart fell as he not only intimately knew the sixteen-year-old that was sitting in front of him, but was also now aware of just how much his life had been ruined over the last three years by Farthing, and his parents refusal to believe him.
Jack remained with his back turned toward Steve's parents for a few minutes longer as he struggled to compose himself. Unlike the Vulcans, he did not have the strong emotional control that they had, so it took almost every ounce of effort that he could muster to prevent himself from strangling both of the parents, and running over and wrapping his arms around Steve.
Finally, when he felt he had calmed down enough, he turned to the two eagerly watching adults. "Mr. and Mrs. Meyers," Jack began in as calm and collected voice as was possible. "I would like to thank each of you for your cooperation this evening."
"It's our pleasure," Desmond answered as both he and his wife nodded.
Jack continued, "Before I go, however, I believe that I may be able to offer you something if you are willing. You have each stated that the last three years have been difficult for you in dealing with Steve and his inability to admit what you felt the truth was."
Both adults hesitantly nodded, no longer sure where the General was going with this.
"Assuming that you are willing, and Steve agrees to this, I can have the Vulcan telepaths provide each of you with a copy of the mental scan that was taken from your Son. This would allow each of you to know exactly what your son has and has not done with Herman, as well as everything that your son has been through over the last three years."
Neither adult said anything for several moments, but they both ended up agreeing to the idea. Since they were still convinced that Steve was refusing to admit the truth, they both saw this as a way to further support their argument, leaving Steve little room other than to finally admit the truth and move forward with his life.
Jack then turned to Steve, and was momentarily taken back by seeing the boy's face filled with tears. "Steve, I have a feeling I already know what answer your going to give me, but I still need to ask. If you agree to this, your parents will know everything about you that has occurred over the last four years, everything you've done, everywhere you have been, and every thought you have had. Please think very carefully before you say yes, because once they are given a copy of the scan, it can not be undone."
Steve slowly shook his head, tears still flowing out of his eyes with the thought that his three year nightmare might soon be over. "They won't listen any other way," Steve answered with a broken voice, "I don't care about the other stuff, this is more important to me."
Jack nodded and turned back toward the two adults, "Mr. and Mrs. Meyers. What you are about to get is the complete mental scan relating to the last four years of your son's life. I would ask that you please keep in mind that your son is still a kid, and like all kids, occasionally will do things that do not always match the rules that have been set up for him. Steve has agreed to open himself up to each of you in a way that a child rarely will do with a parent. So please, keep this in mind, and do not hold anything that you might see against him."
Once both parents nodded their agreement, Jack sighed and nodded toward the two Vulcan's. Immediately, they each walked toward, and knelt down next to one of the parents, and began the mind melds.
As the meld broke, both adults became paler than a ghost as, in an instant, the full weight and force of everything that Steve has been through over the last four years hit them like a pile of bricks. The mind dump these two received began with the thirteen-year-old Steve in the high point of his Lawn Mowing business, that he was once very proud of, and the first time that Herman Kent agreed to become one of his customers. They were not only able to see, but feel each of the eleven times that Steve had been paid by Herman to mow his lawn, and how, after each time, the older man allowed Steve into his house, and would give him an ice cold glass of lemonade to drink while he would go fetch the money to pay him. And how, on some occasions, Herman would explain the historical meaning of some of the pictures on his wall that Steve was curious about.
Not only did both adults intimately learn that Herman had never once laid a finger on Steve, as was claimed by Farthing, but they also lived from Steve's perspective, the entire process of Farthing first starting to call Steve to her office, and question him about Herman. How Farthing tried to manipulate Steve to admit that Herman had behaved in an inappropriate manner. How, as time went on, Farthing tried to get Steve's classmates to force Steve to lie about Herman, and how, in the end, Farthing had even convinced his own parents to try to get Steve to lie about him. They were able to experience first hand the grief and isolation that Steve went through, how he was forced to give up his lawn mowing business, and how desperately he tried to get his parents to believe him.
Both parents were able to live through the bouts of depression and emptiness that their son went through, and constantly faced over the last three years as he was socially isolated from everyone around him as a result of the lies that Farthing was spreading, and how those lies continued, as she once promised Steve they would, when the legal system failed to find enough, or rather any, evidence to convict Herman on any charge. They experienced the times that he tried to experiment with drugs as an escape from the hurt he was feeling, and how one of his only friends, that he still managed to keep, managed to talk him out of experimenting further. They even felt everything that Steve was feeling the several days that he sat on the edge of the Grand Canyon, inches away from offering himself to the canyon below.
"My god," Desmond said slowly as everything began to sink in, and his eyes began to fill with tears, "What have we done?"
Samantha sat there slowly shaking her head as her own set of tears began to appear. Her mouth opened and closed several times as if to say something, but nothing came out.
"Three long years!" Steve shouted out in a combination of anger and relief as his own eyes were still filled with tears. "For three years you wouldn't believe your own son, how could you do that to me?"
"I don't know, I just don't know," Samantha began. "She was the professional, she was so convincing. You always hear that kids don't always tell their parents the truth." She took a deep breath and through the tears, did her best to continue. "We should have known. You never outright lied to us. This was just so serious that all we could think of was protecting you. I couldn't handle knowing that you were molested. I let her lies take over. How are you ever going to forgive us? Oh God I am so sorry. Will you ever be able to forgive us?"
Steve, after taking a moment to wipe the tears out of his eyes and catch his breath, saw the looks on his parent's faces and knew at once that his nightmare was over. Somehow, he knew that he had his parents back. Slowly, he stood and cautiously approached his parents. The moment his mom opened her arms toward him, he melted into them, and quickly found himself in a mess of crying, hugging parents.
As the hugging and crying continued, none of those involved heard the soft, careful footsteps making their way down the steps. In fact, it wasn't until Kenny was standing a few feet in front of his parents and older brother that anyone noticed.
"Come here son," Desmond offered as he outstretched one of his arms toward him.
Not completely understanding what was going on, Kenny hesitantly took a few steps forward, and was immediately consumed in the ball of hugs. Although he was slightly surprised from the close contact, as the display of strong affection was another casualty of what the family had been through over the last three years, he soaked in every ounce of love he could get.
The hugging and crying continued for nearly five minutes as the first steps toward mending their broken family were taken. Finally, when the hug broke, Desmond stood up and approached Jack.
"General Bryce, Sir?" The father formally addressed Jack, and waited until the man looked up toward him. "I would like to request that you place me and my wife under arrest on the grounds of gross abuse and neglect toward our son, and the fact that we are unfit parents."
Jack blinked with surprise. He was unsure how to respond as he had never expected anything like this occurring.
"Pappa?" Kenny asked, still very confused with what was going on.
"Dad, no, you can't," Steve stood up in protest.
The father's haunted eyes looked back toward his older son, "With everything that we put you through, with all the times we failed to believe you and listen to you, how can you possibly say that?"
Steve glanced toward his little brother who was still in the arms of their mother, and then looked back toward his father. "You made a mistake, yeah, sure. But we learn from it and move on."
Desmond slowly shook his head, knowing that this was too large of a mistake to recover from.
"Besides," Steve continued, looking toward his younger brother again, "Kenny needs loving parents. If you two are arrested, he'll have no one." He paused for a moment as he looked back toward his father, "I need loving parents."
"You would still want us as parents, even after everything that's happened?" The adult's voice with full of disbelief.
Steve slowly nodded his head and managed to croak out, "Yes."
Jack stood up pulling Desmond's attention back to him, "I would be inclined to agree with your son, Mr. Meyers, throwing the two of you in jail would not help anything, or give your sons the love they need," he stated in a compassionate voice. "Besides, if you are really wanting to make amends for what you have done, I can think of a few other options."
"Anything," Desmond quickly replied. "Just name it."
Getting a nod of agreement from Samantha, Jack continued, "Alright. This evening there is going to be a public trial held for Mrs. Farthing. I think it would make a very big statement if you and your wife were willing to attend and offer your testimony against her."
Desmond turned to his wife, and after seeing her nod of agreement, turned back to the General. "It would be our pleasure to."
"Mom? Dad?" Kenny asked cautiously, "what's going on?"
Samantha, with her arms still wrapped around Kenny, kissed him on the forehead. "Your father and I have learned a lot about your brother, and how we've been hurting him... hurting both of you, over the last few years."
"But, what?" Kenny asked further, "We've learned a lot about Vulcan's and mind melds in school. I want to know why my brother is always so sad."
The room was silent. Everyone realized that Kenny was actually asking to receive the same mental scan information that everyone else had received, but no one was quite sure how to answer him.
Jack tried to think rationally about the situation. From his experience with all the kids at the UNIT base, he knew that many kids had the ability to be a lot more mature, and handle situations that were far more complex and difficult than most adults would give them credit for. At the same time, he also knew that some kids would not be able to handle the three years worth of feelings and emotional baggage that the scan would involve. Which type of kid was Kenny? He really didn't have a way to tell. On the other hand, everyone else in the household would now share something special and intimate between each other. Would it really be fair to leave Kenny out of this?
"Sir?" T'Livi took a step forward, "Would I be correct in assuming that right now you are attempting to determine if the child could effectively deal with the emotional and psychological characteristics of his older brother's mental scan?"
Jack turned toward the Vulcan and nodded.
"I believe I may be able to offer a possible solution," the Vulcan stated. "In our work with the various children of the UNIT base, we have been able to improve our understanding of the minds of human children. I believe it would be possible for me to perform a surface topical scan of young Kenny and determine the probability of him being able to effectively deal with the weight of the scan in question."
Jack nodded and thought about what was said for a few moments. "If we are going to even consider giving him a copy of the scan, I would like to know what we are getting into, before just dropping it on him. So, if the parents and Kenny both agree, I don't see a problem with it."
Desmond looked toward his wife, who cautiously nodded. "I think there has been enough secrets and misunderstandings in this house. If you feel he can deal with it without it hurting him too much, I would agree to it as well. But I also think it's something that Steve needs to accept, since it's his thoughts and memories being passed around."
Jack smiled, "That comment right there further supports my belief that you and your wife will still make very good parents for your children." Jack then turned toward Steve, "What do you say Steve, do you mind the scan that your parents received also going to your little brother?"
Steve shook his head, "I don't think I've been as good of a big brother to him as I could have been, so I think he at least deserves to know why."
"I can agree with that," Jack nodded as he turned his focus toward Kenny. "That brings it to you, Kenny. Is this something you would really like to receive? Keep in mind, there is going to be a lot of hurt and sadness involved."
Kenny thought for a few moments, and then nodded his head, "I'd like to know."
Jack looked closely at Kenny to make sure he was being sincere. Seeing that he was, he motioned toward the chair that Steve sat in for his scan. Without needing to be told anything else, Kenny sat down in it, and patiently waited for the Vulcan to kneel down next to him and initiate the mind meld.
Not long after she started, T'Livi stood up and turned toward the General. "Sir, by my calculations, there is a 97.65% chance that young Kenny would be able to efficiently deal with the knowledge contained within his older sibling's scan without suffering any significant damage which could not be healed by a healthy amount of... expressed human emotion from his parents and brother."
Jack glanced toward Kenny and Steve's parents, who each nodded. "Very well, that sounds good enough to me, as long as Kenny is still okay with this, then you may proceed."
Getting a serious nod from Kenny, T'Livi knelt back down next to the young boy. Before she had a chance to move her hands to Kenny's face, however, Kenny leaned forward and whispered something in the Vulcan's ear.
A few moments later, T'Livi raised an eyebrow. "Fascinating," the Vulcan replied as Kenny sat back in the chair. "Are you certain of this?" After getting a nod from Kenny, T'Livi moved her hands into the proper position on the boys face, "Then I shall proceed."
A few minutes later, T'Livi stood up, leaving a very shocked and stunned Kenny sitting in the chair.
Everyone in the room remained silent as they waited to see what the boy's reaction would be. After a few moments, Kenny pulled himself out of the chair, and slowly made his way toward his brother, his face mostly blank and expressionless.
"I'm sorry Kenny," Steve said softly as he looked at his younger brother.
Instead of saying anything, Kenny simply threw himself on his older brother as his damn broke, and tears and sobs openly began to flow. A few minutes later, Kenny pulled himself away from his older brother, and repeated the same process with his mother and father.
As Steve sat quietly, watching his younger brother receive comfort from his parents, he was a little surprised to see T'Livi standing next to him. "Hi?", the boy said hesitantly, which at the same time grabbed Kenny's attention as well.
"Steve," the Vulcan began, "I must inform you that before I began the mind meld to give Kenny your scan information, he stated that he did not feel it was fair that only your personal thoughts and experiences were being shared, and expressed a desire that I preform the same scan on him, so that his experiences could be shared with you."
Steve sat back in shock, "Kenny?" He did his best to say without breaking into tears again. "You would do that for me? Even after I was as mean to you as I was sometimes?"
Still unable to speak due to how much he had been emotionally overloaded, Kenny only nodded.
Steve looked back at the Vulcan who was standing over him. "Okay," he managed to squeak out.
Once again, T'Livi knelt down and placed her hands on Steve's face to begin the process of sending Kenny's scan to him.
As the Vulcan stood and walked away a few minutes later, Steve became more shocked than he thought possible. When Kenny had made the offer to him, he was expecting to feel how hurt and upset that Kenny was with how bad of an older brother he had been. Although, there was a little bit of that mixed in there, it was very minor in comparison to how much love and understanding Kenny had toward his older brother. Kenny remembered how much Steve had paid attention to him when he was younger, before the bad things started happening, and he allowed that attention and love to carry forward, as he waited for when his older brother would feel better again. Steve now knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, just how much love and respect his younger brother had for him, and how, even though he might have been short with him when he was hurting and empty, he still very much desired to be around, and learn from his older brother.
Before Steve knew it, his eyes were so filled with tears, that it was impossible for him to see anything. Therefore, he was surprised yet again when he felt small hands take hold of his own, and for Kenny to wrap himself around his older brother, softly crying as well.
Both boys remained there for several minutes, crying and letting their emotions out until finally the cries became soft sobs.
Both Desmond and Samantha stood up and walked toward Jack. "General?" Desmond asked quietly, "When is this trial you spoke of earlier?"
Jack blinked a few times, still very much effected by the scene that was playing out in front of him. "At seven o'clock," He finally managed to get out, "And please, call me Jack."
"Okay, Jack," Desmond nodded, "If you wouldn't mind keeping an eye on the boys for a few minutes, Samantha and I will go get ready."
"I would be honored to," Jack replied seriously.
As the two parents made their way upstairs, the two boys remained completely oblivious to everything else happening around them, as they continued to let the damage that had been done over the last three years slowly slip away.
Maurice and Andrew were walking across the grass between the circular admin building and the swimming pool building when Brent, Lance, and the other twenty-two kids that were with them suddenly appeared a few feet in front of them, causing both gang kids to jump backward in surprise.
"Welcome to the Clan Short Las Vegas compound, guys," Lance announced once the group appeared. Although the sun had already set below the western mountains, it was still light enough to get a good view of the area. As a result, several ooo's and ahh's could be heard coming from some of the kids in the group.
"This is your compound?" one of the younger kids asked, "This place looks sweet."
"If you think this is cool, wait till you see the huge indoor swimming pools we have," Brent commented with a grin before he caught sight of Maurice and Andrew walking toward them. "Hey guys, what's up?"
"What's up?" Maurice replied slightly annoyed, "Daileass needs to be more careful where he drops you guys, that's what's up. Y'all nearly dropped on our heads!"
"No way, man. This can't be your compound. I recognize those buildings. Those are the Cynthitech buildings," one of the older boys stated.
"Yeah, Marcus is right, those are definitely the Cynthitech buildings, but I don't remember seeing all these other buildings," another boy standing next to Marcus added.
"You guys are right, we are at Cynthitech," Brent admitted. "It's kind of a long story which I'm sure you will all hear about later. But in short, it's under new management now. The other buildings that you see were built for us last night."
"You can't build buildings like this in a night," Marcus challenged.
"Can too!" Forth replied.
Marcus looked toward the small 8-year-old, "No, you can't."
"You can, if you have the resources that this clan has," Maurice replied, "But don't worry, I was pretty skeptical too when I first met these guys as well."
Marcus frowned as he looked toward Maurice. "Dude, don't even try it. You don't know anything about me or the others here, or what it means to live on the streets, so don't even try it."
"Really?" Maurice asked as a sly grin appeared on his face as he began walking toward the other boy who was about his same size.
"Maurice..." Brent called out as he took a step forward to stop the confrontation that he was sure was going to happen.
"No, Brent, this has to be handled now or never," Maurice replied as he turned his focus back to Marcus, "Because if this punk really had any street experience, he would've heard of the Twain Street Boys, and if he had, he'd have known that was my crew. You wanna to talk street experience? Where you been for the last five years? Dodging school classes, hanging out near a convenience store, and callin that street experience? Try spending five years dodging the rape gangs, while at the same time tryin to protect kids younger than you from them as well, the whole time, always wonderin where your next meal is goin to come from cause you don't have shit for money. So come on, let's talk street experience."
"Okay, okay, peace man," Marcus held out his hands trying to fend off Maurice's glare toward him. "It's just we've all heard this talk before. Life will be so much better for you here, we know what's best for you, just do what we tell you to, and it will all be fine."
Maurice gave a knowing nod, "Yeah, but how many of those places gave you the option to try them out for a week before you decide if you really want to stay there or not?"
Marcus shook his head, "I don't think any."
"I'm not going to tell you what to choose, dude. You have to decide that for yourself," Maurice stated as he backed off a bit. "But, I'll tell you this. You'd be a fool if you turn away their offer without even lookin at it first."
Marcus slowly nodded while all the other new kids in the group remained silent.
While Marcus and Maurice were having their short chat, Eric had walked up on the other side of the group holding a small box in one of his hands. Brent was just about to say something when Eric beat him to the punch.
"Why are you two trying to have a peeing match about who knows what it's like to live on the streets?" Eric asked seriously causing most of the kids there to turn toward him, noticing for the first time that he was standing there. "It doesn't really matter. I know none of you have met Cory Short, or the other kids that make up the core leadership of Clan Short, but I have, and as far as I'm concerned, some of the kids that are responsible for starting the clan have all of us beat in ways we will never be able to imagine."
"What's that suppose to mean?" Marcus asked more out of curiosity than spite.
Eric thought for a moment, "Well, you talk about street experience, but how many of you had to risk your lives on a daily bases dodging bullets while being a runner for a local drug lord?"
Both Maurice and Marcus, along with several other kids in the group shook their heads.
"How many of you have been forced to regularly get fucked by animals?" Eric continued.
A few of the kids stepped back in disgust as the rest shook their heads harder.
Eric tilted his head, "No? Well, how many of you have ever gone to a birthday party and had some fucked up pimp show up and try to get one of your brothers?"
More head shaking.
"How about loosing someone so close and important to you that you literally had a mental breakdown and forgot everything that you knew?" Eric continued.
Still more head shaking.
"Well, that's just a small sample of some of the crap Cory and the other kids that are at the heart of this clan have had to live through. And believe me, there is a lot worse stuff than that." Eric stated.
Marcus wiped a tear from his face, "Shit man, I had no clue."
Lance walked over and gave Eric a hug, "It's not something that is really publicized a lot, but everything that Eric as said is true. Brent and I have also met Cory and the other core clan kids. We spent an entire night just listening to what some of them have had to live through... and well... some of that still gives me nightmares sometimes."
Marcus slowly nodded, "I don't really know what to say. I'm sorry I said anything at all."
Brent shook his head, "Don't be Marcus. Your concerns were valid, and you had no way of knowing any of this ahead of time. Beside, the clan isn't about finding who has had the worst life stories, it's about moving beyond all of that, working together as a family, and helping each other become something more than what any of us could have accomplished on our own."
"I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I like the sound of that," one of the other older kids stated.
"Yeah, me to. If what you have said is all true, you guys can count me in for staying," another boy commented.
Within a few moments all the other kids began to agree as well.
"So Eric, what brings you out here? I thought you were hanging out with your brothers?" Lance asked.
"Oh," Eric stated nearly forgetting the reason he was there in the first place. "Daileass wanted me to bring these out for you guys since everyone here is already in the system."
Lance took the offered box from Eric and looked inside. "Man, Daileass doesn't waste any time, does he?" Lance asked as he pulled out a communicator from the box.
"Guess not," Brent grinned as he slowly shook his head. "Okay guys, time to teach all of you about communicators."
Herbert stood patiently at the side of his twelve-year-old boyfriend's bed as he watched his chest slowly rise and fall.
"Please get better soon, Leroy. I never meant any of this stuff to happen to you." Herbert whispered quietly.
"He must mean a lot to you," a voice from across the room stated.
Herbert looked up and saw the tall, slender man who came in with Brent and Lance earlier. Although he was probably only in his early 20's, the boy in the biobed that he was standing by couldn't have been any older than his Leroy. Since the other boy's shirt was off as well, he could tell that although he might be the same age, his build was no where close to that of his boyfriend's. If anything, it was closer to his own build.
Realizing that he was standing there staring at the man and the other boy, Herbert nodded, "He does. He suffered a lot for me."
"I'm sure you would have done the same for him if you could," the man replied.
Herbert shrugged, and turned his gaze back toward Leroy. A few moments later, he looked back up toward the man but saw that he had already turned his own attention back toward the bed that was next to him.
Not feeling comfortable with just letting things drop, Herbert carefully made his way across the room toward the man. As he got closer, and could get a better view of the other boy's bare chest, he could see that boy was actually less developed than he was, and in some ways skinnier than him. Not from a nutritional stand point where you could easily see his rib cage and such, but just from the boy's overall stature.
"No," Herbert spoke softly as he kept his gaze focused on the other boy, "I'm not as strong as Leroy, not even close. There is no way I could have done for him what he had done for me."
The man carefully nodded as he could feel just how much on edge the eleven-year-old, who was now standing next to him, was. "I'm Dominic, by the way."
Herbert looked up and saw the man's warm, caring, green eyes looking back down at him. "Herbert."
Dominic nodded and looked back at the boy who was in the bed next to him.
"Is that Ronnie?" Herbert asked. "I heard some of the doctors talking about him earlier, he did something really brave or something."
Dominic sighed, "Yes, that's Ronnie. I still haven't heard the full story yet, I'm just glad he's alive. Not to mention, I'm thankful for having met this clan."
Herbert nodded, "Yeah, I don't think Leroy or Dwight would be alive right now if it wasn't for them. From what I heard, we have you and Ronnie to thank for that."
Dominic shook his head as he lifted Ronnie's hand up slightly and squeezed it. "I don't believe you, you know?"
Herbert tilted his head and looked back up at Dominic, "What do you mean?"
Dominic kept his focus on Ronnie as he spoke, "Earlier you said you wouldn't have done what Leroy had done for you because you were not strong enough. There are ways to be strong other than just physically strong. You might not be able to left weights as good as Leroy, or run as fast, or do as well in a fist fight, but I bet if you really thought about it, there are ways that you can be just as strong, if not stronger than him."
"Like what?" Herbert asked curiously.
Dominic shrugged. "Like being emotionally strong, or mentally strong, being someone that he can always count on to be a friend, being someone that will never lie to him, or hurt him."
"I'd never lie to him, not ever," Herbert softly replied.
"Exactly," Dominic agreed. "And I bet in school subjects you probably run circles around him."
Herbert smiled shyly.
Dominic gave a knowing smile with a knowing nod. "You see, you are each strong for each other, just in different ways."
"Thanks," Herbert replied seriously, "I guess I never really thought of things like that."
"You're welcome," Dominic replied as he turned his focus back to Ronnie. Although he said nothing else, Dominic knew that a few moments later Herbert left his side to walk back over to Leroy's side. Now, however, the eleven-year-old had a bit more to think about.
General Jack sat in the chair opposite the two brothers who had ended up falling asleep in each other's arms as a result of the roller coaster of emotions that they had each been through. The entire time that Samantha and Desmond were upstairs getting ready, the two Vulcans that had accompanied the General were standing quietly behind him, while the three security team members maintained their triangular positions around the front room.
Less than ten minutes after they had left, the two parents walked back downstairs and into the front room. As soon as Samantha saw her two sons, she immediately wrapped her arm around her husband. "Look at that, Desmond. Can you remember the last time we saw them so close together?"
Desmond looked at the boys for a few moments and sighed, "It's a real shame that we need to wake them up."
Samantha nodded as she walked over and gently touched Kenny on his shoulder. Instantly, both boys were awake and looking up toward their mother. "There isn't a lot of time before we need to leave, do you two want to take showers now or after the trial?"
Steve looked toward his younger brother still trying to wake back up from his short nap.
Kenny looked up at his mother and then back toward his older brother. "Steve?" The younger boy asked hesitantly, "Do you remember how we used to take showers together before... well, before all this started three years ago? Do you think we could do that again now? If we both took a shower at the same time, it should be fast enough for us to take one now before we leave."
Steve blinked and looked toward his parents.
Desmond was about to object, but Samantha quickly shot him a look that told him that he had better think through what he was about to say. After taking a few more moments to think about the question, he finally nodded, "Go ahead."
Steve looked back toward his younger brother and nodded, "Come on, Ken, let's go take that shower."
Immediately, a huge smile came across Kenny's face as he jumped off the chair, and grabbed hold of his older brother's arm and began pulling him toward the stairs, just as an eight or nine year old might have done.
As soon as the two boys disappeared upstairs, Samantha turned toward Jack, "Are you sure you would not like something to drink, General? I'm going to make my husband and I a glass of iced tea."
"Actually, I think I would like that, thank you." Jack replied.
Samantha nodded toward the General, and walked down the hall into the kitchen.
As soon as his wife left, Desmond sat on the couch and looked toward Jack, "You certainly seemed to have done your homework before visiting us General, I would like to thank you for that."
Jack nodded, "I only presented the means for you and your wife to learn the truth. The actions you have taken beyond that for you and your kids have been all you. And please, call me Jack."
"Not just us, General... erm... Jack, but also our two sons. It's been three years since we have seen them that close together." Desmond corrected.
"I'm glad that what I and my Vulcan friends were able to provide today has been taken in such good light. You have an opportunity here that few get, a chance to start over. I hope that you and the rest of your family are able to put it to good use."
"Oh, we plan to, I promise you that," Desmond agreed. "Tell me, did the homework you did before visiting us include anything further on Herman?"
"A little, why do you ask?" Jack asked carefully.
"Well, the last we saw of him was about two years ago when he was literally ran out of town thanks to what Farthing had done. Sadly, my wife and I may have played a significant role in that."
Jack shook his head, "You might have played a part in it, but I believe it was a much smaller part than you might have thought. One of the things that we are learning is that Farthing was a master at manipulation. Even if you and your wife stayed out of it completely, more than likely Herman would still have been run out of town."
Desmond took the offered glass of iced tea from his wife as he looked back toward the general. "Either way, Samantha and I talked about it while we were upstairs, and we have both agreed that we need to somehow track Herman down one day so that we can personally apologize to the man, and do whatever we can to try to make amends for the part that we played."
Jack nodded solemnly, "I can understand and appreciate your reasoning behind that, and perhaps one day we might be able to find him, but sadly, we preformed a search for him at the same time we searched for you, and the man seems to have disappeared off the grid."
Moments later, Jack's comm badge beeped, and Daileass's voice came across it. "Please excuse the interruption General. Due to the current security situation I have been monitoring your comm link. The information that you have just stated is not completely accurate."
"The voice you just heard is Daileass, he's our main A.I. system that helps us to run things," Jack explained as he saw the surprised expressions of the other two adults. After getting nods of understanding from both parents, he tapped his badge. "Daileass, could you please explain that?"
"Certainly, General," Daileass continued. "At the time that you left to visit the Meyers, you were correct, we had not located Herman. However, once I heard the direction that the conversation there was taking, I assumed that you would probably want to make finding Herman a higher priority. As such, after using a few more resources, I believe that I have managed to track him down."
"Really?" Desmond asked as both he and his wife sat forward, "Is this A.I. of yours really able to do that?"
"If he says that he has, then yes. To be honest, he has more capabilities than even I am aware of," Jack nodded. "Daileass, where exactly is he at?"
"I was able to track him down in the Southwest portion of North Las Vegas," Daileass replied.
"That's amazing," Samantha stated.
"Would it be possible for us to visit him one day?" Desmond asked.
"What happened?" Kenny asked as he and his brother walked down stairs. Steve's spiked hairstyle was gone, and in it's place he, as well as his younger brother, had nicely combed, yet still very wet hair.
"It sounds like General Jack's computer system might have been able to locate Herman." Samantha replied.
Steve stood their speechless as another flood of emotions hit him.
Kenny wrapped his arms around his brother, and seemingly was absorbing the conflicting emotions that his once-more best friend was suddenly feeling.
Jack checked his watch, "Actually, Daileass has the ability to teleport us to him right now, if you would like."
Desmond was shocked. "Is that truly possible? If it is, my wife and I would be eternally grateful to you."
Samantha looked toward Steve, and saw the expression on his face. "Are you alright, Steve? You don't need to come with us if you don't want to, but this is something your father and I really need to do."
"I think I should warn you guys," Daileass interrupted, "From what I can tell, the last two years have not been kind to him. From what I can tell, he currently lives on the streets."
Steve's eyes went wide in surprise as he took a step back. Samantha immediately put her hand in front of her mouth as she looked toward her husband.
Desmond nodded slowly, "That's even more reason for us to see him as soon as possible, General. If it is at all within your power, I beg you to please let me know where he is at, or take me there if it is not too much of an inconvenience for you."
Jack nodded and stood up, "Very well. It would be my pleasure to take you. Any of you who wish to come along, please come over here and stand next to me. I'll have Daileass teleport us to him."
Desmond immediately stood up as well, and walked over to the General. Samantha was not far behind him.
Steve hesitantly began to walk toward Jack next, only to be stopped when the General looked directly at him.
"Steve, you are more than welcome to come along if that is what you want. However, I know that your last memories of visiting Herman were good ones and well... from the additional information that Daileass has been giving me in my earpiece... Seeing him as he is now could be a bit unsettling for you."
Steve stood there, saying nothing. The expression on his face, however, said everything that might have been needed as it was very clear the emotional war that was going on in his head.
"I'll go and be their right beside you, if you decide to go," Kenny said as he looked up at the pained expression on his brother's face.
After a few more moments of thought, Steve finally nodded. "It's been almost three years since I've seen him. I've always wondered how things would work out if I was ever able to see him again... Now that the opportunity is here... well.. I think I need to go."
"Are you sure, son?" Desmond asked with his voice full of concern.
Steve nodded with a greater degree of resolve evident on his face, "Yes."
Desmond simply nodded as both Steve and Kenny walked over to stand next to their parents.
Shortly after that, the Vulcans and the security team fell into positions behind Jack and the family.
"Alright Daileass, Please teleport us to Herman's location, but not too close. I don't want to surprise him too badly."
Without saying anything, Daileass teleported the entire group. In the blink of an eye, the Meyer's front room faded out of existence, and in it's place, everyone found themselves standing outside in a rather rundown looking part of town.
Although the sky still had a few hints of color to it, more light was coming from the street lights than from the sky itself. That is, for the streetlights that were still functional. At least half of the lights were either out completely or flickering on and off.
Everyone in the group looked around briefly once they appeared. There were a few people on the streets, but for the most part they were ignored.
"Whoa, that teleport thing can really make you woozy," Kenny commented causing T'Livi to raise one of her eyebrows.
Jack looked back toward the younger boy as well, "That's odd, the teleports shouldn't cause any noticeable effects at all. Do you feel anything else? Dizziness? Nausea?"
Kenny thought for a moment and shook his head, "Actually... I feel fine now, maybe I was just imagining it or something."
"Was this your first time ever being teleported or transported?" One of the security kids asked. Once Kenny nodded, he then looked toward Jack. "Sir, occasionally people getting teleported for the first time can feel a bit disoriented."
Jack nodded, "Perhaps that's all it is, but still, it's something we should probably keep an eye on. Kenny, please let one of us know if the feeling comes back."
"Oh my god!" Samantha gasped as she placed one hand over her mouth and used the other to point down the street, "There he is."
About a block away in the direction that Samantha was pointing, everyone could see a shopping cart resting next to a worn down building; filled with what looked like tattered bags, clothes, and other objects. Sitting next to the cart, leaning against the building, was an old, frail looking man who was bundled up in two or three different light jackets, and a beanie hat on his head. In the man's hands was a bottle of some sort, wrapped in a brown paper bag.
"That can't be..." Desmond began, but stopped as soon as he saw his wife nodding her head. Having been one of the main objects of her hatred over the last three years, Herman's image was burned inside of Samantha's head. Even though the unkempt man looked considerably different from how he looked two years ago, she could still easily recognize him.
"No one else needs to go any further," Jack stated, mainly for the benefit of Steve. "However, I think this is something that Desmond and Samantha feel they need to do."
Steve swallowed hard as he got his first look of what the kind old man he had once known, had become. Shaking his head, he was determined to continue along with everyone else.
As the group moved forward, Kenny was sure to stay very close to Steve's side.
Even when the group was still a good twenty to thrity feet away from the man, a foul stench could be smelled that caused several to wrinkle their noses.
"Herman?" Desmond asked as he approached the man. "Herman Kemp?"
"Who wants to know?" The man replied in a slurred voice as he took another drink from his bottle.
Desmond knelt down a few feet from Herman as the rest of the group held back, "Don't you remember me? I'm Desmond Meyers."
"Desmond?" Herman replied showing no indication that he knew the man as he began to sway back and forth slightly.
"Yes, I'm Steve's father." Desmond replied as he looked over the man's torn and tattered clothes. From the looks of them, and from the foul stench, he would not have been surprised if he had not changed clothes once over the last two years.
"Steve?" Herman asked as he began waving his hands around. "Oh, no no no... I never touched the boy... not Steve... never Steve... Leave me be!"
"It's already... I know that now." Desmond stated, trying to find some way to reassure the clearly agitated man.
Herman took a large gulp from his bottle and allowed it to fall to the ground. "I didn't do anything I tell you, I didn't". Herman then tried to stand up only to fall back down as soon as he did, and then slouched over on his side unconscious.
Desmond stood back up in shock as he looked toward Jack, "Is he alright?"
One of the security kids took out a small scanning device and pointed it in the man's direction, doing his best to only get as close as absolutely necessary. "He's passed out. Other than an extremely high blood alcohol level, he should be fine... relatively speaking."
Jack nodded and tapped his comm badge, "Daileass, could you teleport Mr. Kemp and his... um... belongings to the UNIT base so that he can dry out a bit?"
"If I have to..." Daileass replied moments before the man and the shopping cart next to him disappeared.
Jack then walked up behind Desmond, "Your heart was in the right place by wanting to see him. Let's give him a few hours to dry up, then we can go visit him again."
Desmond nodded and then looked toward his older son to see the boy's eyes filled with tears. "Are you alright, son?"
Even though he now knew his parents were very apologetic for what they had done, Steve couldn't help but feel some anger toward them for what Herman had been reduced to. Unable to directly face his father out of fear of what he might say, he instead turned toward Jack, "When is this trial?"
Jack checked his watch. "It's scheduled to start at seven, although we could probably head over there now."
Steve stood there for a few more moments trying to decide what to say, with his eyes still clearly filled with anger and hurt, "Will I get to testify?"
"You can, if you are sure that is what you want," Jack replied carefully.
"It is," Steve replied in a tone that left no room for argument.
Jack nodded slowly, "In that case, Daileass, can you teleport all of us over to the Malaya?"
"Sure thing, General." Daileass replied just before the entire group disappeared.
After Brent finished explaining about the communicators, and managed to get them all handed out, he looked over toward Maurice and Andrew; who were quickly becoming good friends with Marcus.
"So Maurice, you think you and Andrew can handle this group for a few hours?" Brent grinned as Maurice shot him back a dirty look.
"Hey, you didn't make me Assistant Division Director for nothing, ya know," Maurice shot back. "You two go on and get out of here. Just promise me you won't go light on that bitch."
Brent nodded and took a step back to stand next to Lance, "Daileass, if you would?" Once he was gone, Both Maurice and Andrew found themselves with twenth-two pairs of eyes looking back at them.
Rubbing the back of his head, Maurice took a few moments to think. "Um, well, I guess we should start by giving you guys a tour or something. So let's see, over that way is where the quads are at, which is where you guys will be sleeping. The event center which is also where we will be eating is that building over there. Oh, and that one on that side is the pool center, and I guess that's the admin building. So, where would you'll like to go first?"
It took almost no time at all for twenty-two voices to call out in near perfect unison. "Pool!"
Andrew smerked toward Maurice. "Like you really had to ask that."
"Okay guys, the pool it is," Maurice shrugged as he tapped his comm badge. "Hey Daileass, Andrew and I are going to take the new guys swimming for a bit, could you let the others know that they can join us if they want?"
"Sure thing, Maurice. I'll also see if I can grab one or two of the adults to stop by as well, since we are not sure how good your newest fan-club members are at swimming yet," Daileass replied through Maurice's comm badge.
"Um, thanks. I think." Maurice stated as he and Andrew lead the group toward the pool center.
Although Maurice's group was the first to arrive, over the next five to ten minutes, more kids continued to trickle in from around the compound. Nearly all of them choosing to swim in the standard clan swimwear.
Philip and Ronald were the last of the gang kids to arrive. Seeing everyone already in the various pools splashing around and enjoying themselves, the two boys stepped into the locker room planning on staying just long enough to change into the proper attire, and throw their clothes into one of the empty lockers.
Before they could leave, however, they saw two of the ten-year-old clone kids, Art and Devin, already undressed, standing in the back of the room facing away from them, just standing there next to each other.
Seeing that no one else was in the room, the two gang boys walked toward them to investigate.
"You guys okay?" Philip asked with concern.
Devin twisted his head toward the two new kids, and nodded. "Um, yeah. We're fine. We're just waiting."
"Waiting for what?" Ronald asked as they reached the two ten-year-olds. Looking down between them, and seeing Art's excitement, he quickly realized that he probably didn't need to ask the question after all.
"Nothing," Art replied sheepishly as he began turning a few shades of red.
"Oh," Philip grinned. "I wouldn't worry about that guys, that's normal."
Art shook his head, "Not for me, it's just started doing this a lot over the last week or so."
"That just means you need to... um... take care of it more," Ronald added with a smile.
Both Art and Devin looked at Ronald oddly. "What do you think we are doing?" Devin answered "We're waiting for it to be taken care of right now."
Philip and Ronald shared a knowing look with each other. "I think there might be some important... um... educational information that people have neglected to share with you guys."
"Like what?" Art asked curiously, still several shades of red.
Philip glanced around the room. "Um, this is probably not the best place to get into that, but if you two catch up with us tonight, Ronald and I can probably show you a few things you can... um... do with that, which will probably make you feel like you never have before."
Ronald instantly shot Philip a dirty look, but then quickly smiled and nodded.
Art and Devin, for their part, looked toward each other and shrugged. "Okay," Art replied. "Sounds interesting."
"Well, let's hit the pool, guys." Philip said as he motioned for Art and Devin to follow him and Ronald.
"What about Art?" Devin asked.
Philip shrugged. "Trust me, no one will say a thing about it. It's something that happens a lot to guys our age."
Appearing to be convinced, at least for now, Art and Devin followed Philip and Ronald out to the pools.
When Brent and Lance arrived in the large convention center, there was already a large amount of activity going on around them. Toward the front of the room, a large stage had already been setup, complete with podiums on each side, as well as a raised, boxed in area in the center, which looked like a fancy judge's box. A table with two microphones facing the judge's box was also setup.
Around the rest of the room, workers were busy setting up hundreds of more chairs on the sides and in the back of the room. Many of the chairs in the center were already being filled up.
"Brent, Lance," the two boys heard Tristen calling their names, and waving to them from a door leading into a room with a large see-through window in it. As they walked closer to investigate, they noticed that there were a number of chairs setup in the room to look out toward the trial area. Several cameras were also being setup in the room.
"Hey Tristen, What's going on?" Brent asked as he and Lance reached where Tristen was standing.
"Not much, I've mainly been helping with coordinating sound line access to a bunch of the local news crews that have been getting setup. Right now, I've been talking with one of the local reporters, who is also going to have a mock jury during the trial," Tristen answered.
Lance looked a bit surprised, "I didn't know Vulcan trials had juries."
Tristen grinned, "They don't. This is more like a discussion panel of viewers. While the trial is going on, they're going to be offering their commentary and opinions to their viewers, and then at the end, they are going to take a vote and see if what they decide matches what you decide."
Brent looked a bit uncertain.
"Don't worry, nothing they decide is in any way binding," Tristen did his best to try to reassure him, "Actually the reporter that is going to be doing this seems to be one of the fairer reporters that I met earlier. Her name is Heather Klein. In fact, there she is now."
Brent and Lance turned around to see a nice looking, shoulder length brown haired young lady in her late 20's walking up to them. "Okay, the final hookups should be done with our control truck," she said as she looked toward Tristen. "I really appreciate how helpful you've been with this Tristen."
"My pleasure," Tristen bowed slightly. "Also, I would like to introduce you to our Division Director, Brent Knocks as well as one of our Assistant Division Directors, Lance Phillips. Brent will be the one standing in judgement in today's trial."
Heather nodded and extended her hand toward Brent, "It's a pleasure to meet you Brent. It must be a high honor for you to be able to stand in judgement in today's trial."
Brent took the offered hand but shook his head, "Not really. The only reason I'm doing this is because as Division Director, it's one of the jobs that I'm expected to perform."
"So, this isn't something your looking forward to do doing?" Heather asked, seeming a bit surprised.
"I can think of a number of other things I would rather be doing," Brent answered truthfully. "Standing in judgement of someone else's life is never something to be taken lightly. So, although it's something I'm willing to do, it's not really something I'm looking forward to, because I know that someone's parent or grandparent or friend may not be coming home tonight. Good or bad, right or wrong, that's not a trivial thing."
Heather nodded and smiled, "Your right Tristen, I think I do like him."
Seeing Brent's confused look, Tristen grinned and shrugged.
"Excuse me, Mr. Knocks?" Brent heard Emily call out from behind him.
"Yes?" Brent hoped that she was here to rescue him from the reporter.
"They are ready for you in the back," Emily answered.
"No problem," Brent smiled and nodded. "Sorry guys, but I need to get ready for the trial. It's been nice meeting you Mrs. Klein."
"Please, call me Heather, and it's been nice meeting you as well," Heather stated as she waved as Brent left the room with Emily.
"Thanks," Brent said with relief as he and Emily made their way down the side of the convention center room, and into a small back area.
"For what?" Emily asked as she opened the door for Brent.
"For saving me from Heather. Did I mention that I don't like reporters much?" Brent grinned.
Emily nodded, "I can understand that sir, I dislike reporters as well. But I don't know how much your going to thank me."
"Hello Brent," An eleven year old boy with brown hair called out.
"Brent, this is Samuel Reynolds, Sammy, Brent knocks," Emily introduced.
Brent nodded and shook Sammy's hand, "Hey SamSam. Yeah, we have actually met at the wedding last Thursday. So, what brings the North American Director of Operations here?"
"I came to watch the trial," Sammy smiled, "You'd be surprised how much interest this has been generating."
"Yeah, I just came in from out front and saw all the camera crews setting up," Brent agreed.
"That's the other thing I wanted to talk to you about," Sammy became a bit more serious, "Walk with me?"
Brent followed Sammy as they walked to another section of the room, out of ear shot of the others, "What's on your mind?"
Sammy looked Brent up and down as if looking for something, "So tell me, how has your first day at being a Division Director been going?"
"It's been... interesting, that's for sure," Brent thought out loud. "From waking up in the morning to seeing a bunch of new buildings that weren't there when we went to bed, to the attack this morning, to the raid on the police station, to getting things ready for the trial. I'm wondering if every day is going to be this exciting."
Sammy nodded, "Sounds like your handling it pretty well. So, not planning on handing the director position over to someone else yet?"
Brent seemed a bit surprised, "What do you mean? Actually, even with everything going on, I've kinda been enjoying it. Actually, I'm a bit disappointed that I waited so long to make our group official."
"It definitely has its rewards, that's for sure," Sammy agreed.
"What's this all about Sammy? Do you feel I need to step down or something?" Brent asked seriously.
Sammy quickly shook his head, "No way. You've been doing great, especially for your first day. You've seen things that needed to get done, and you've done them. That's exactly what the Clan does. Mainly, I just want to make sure you understand that you don't have to do everything alone. For example, if you wanted, I could easily take over running the trial for you. Since I'm the North American Director of Operations, no one would think anything of it, or see it as anything against you."
Brent nodded and thought about what Sammy was offering. On one hand, he really wasn't looking forward to the trial, and being up in front of that many people. It would be very easy to let Sammy handle it for him. Then he could sit in the crowd and watch with Lance. But then again, what type of precedent would it be setting for them to start something, but not be willing to follow through with it? What type of example would he be setting? Nah, although it might not be his first choice for having fun, he could only see one real option.
Before Brent even gave his answer, Sammy was already smiling, since he was very closely following the mental conversation Brent was having in his head.
"I appreciate the offer Sammy," Brent started, "But unless you are ordering me to allow you to stand in judgement, if I'm going to be an effective Division Director, I think it's important that I set a good example, and finish what I start."
Sammy nodded, "That's exactly the answer I was hoping to hear. Thanks Brent, I think you're doing this for the right reasons, so I think you'll do great."
"There you are," Ryan Casey, one of Brent's personal security, called out to Brent as he and Lincoln Hayes entered the back room area. "What happened to just going to the UNIT base to pick up your kids?"
"Oh crap," Brent slapped his forehead as he and Sammy re-joined the rest of the people that were helping to get ready for the trial. "I'm really sorry man, I completely forgot. As soon as we got back, Lance and I jumped here. Things are a bit crazy now."
Ryan laughed at Brent's panicked expression. "Relax dude, I was just giving you a hard time. You and Lance have already made it clear you're not going to try to ditch us on purpose. Daileass let us know that you came over here shortly after you left, so that's not a problem."
Brent sighed with relief, "Cool. I'm glad that didn't cause any issues. Um, where's Jolin?"
"Right behind you," Jolin's deep voice bellowed out.
Brent jumped with surprise as he twisted around to see the huge cat walk out from the shadows, "Okay, that's a cool trick."
A huge grin came over Jolin's face.
"Excuse me Brent," Daileass's voice came over one of the speakers in the ceiling, "But there is a video call for you from Adam and Logan."
Brent looked around the room, and saw a laptop that no one was using and walked over to it, "Go ahead and patch it through here, Daileass."
Moments later Adam's image appeared on the screen. His hair was slightly messed up, and he didn't look that happy, "Hi Adam."
Adam picked up a small data pad. "Damn it Brent, I go to bed and wake up to find that not only have you used my strike teams to take over a police station, but now you're about to stir up a shit storm across the country by conducting a public trail, something that no one else in the Clan or UNIT has done?"
Brent's face instantly paled, as fear and dread filled him. He knew that the actions that he and Lance were taking could be seen as questionable, but the last person in the world he would have wanted to disappoint would have been Adam, the one person that seemed to believe in him the most. And now, it appeared that he had managed to do exactly that.
"Adam, I'm sorry," Brent started, but couldn't really think of anything else to say.
Seeing the tears starting to form, and the dread in Brent's face, Adam decided to not risk carrying on his little joke any longer, and smiled. "Brent, I was just joking with you. I'm not mad at you at all. In fact, I'm pretty damn impressed."
"You are?" Brent asked hesitantly, not sure what to believe.
"Hell yea," Adam nodded as he took a sip of something from his mug, "I figured it would take us a good week or two to get you worked up to the point of being pro-active, and getting done what needed to be done. But you've gone and done it on your very first day. You see kids being put in danger, and you are using all of the resources you have been given to ensure their safety. And when an agency tries to get in your way, and is clearly in the wrong, you make sure they know that Clan Short is not someone they can fuck with. In my opinion dude, you are acting exactly how Clan Short Division Directors should be acting."
"I second that," Logan said as he entered the picture as well.
Brent sighed with relief as color slowly began to return to his face. "Okay, thanks Adam, that really means a lot to me, especially coming from you. All night I've been wondering if I have been doing the right thing with this or not."
"You have," Logan agreed. "And that's another reason you're going to make a great director. A good leader is always questioning and challenging himself to make sure he's doing the right thing. But at the same time, does not allow that to paralyze himself from taking action."
Adam nodded as he took another drink from his mug.
"Okay, if your not mad at me, then why did you call?" Brent asked. "The way Haden was talking earlier, there is some super secret, really important, thing you're in the middle of doing."
Adam smiled, "I am. However, you're important too, Brent. Logan and I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone in this, and you don't have to run the trial. Just give the word, and Logan or myself will be more than willing to step in and deal with it."
Brent sighed, "Thanks Adam, but Sammy just got done having a similar talk with me. With everyone asking me to step aside and let them handle the trial, it's making me think that you guys feel I've done something wrong, or that I can't handle the trial or something."
"I think your misunderstanding everyone," Logan replied seriously. "No one is saying that you need to hand the trial off to someone else, or that you have done something wrong. What we are trying to say is that you are part of our family, and you don't 'have' to do it if it's not something you feel comfortable with. That option is there for you, if you choose to use it. If you feel comfortable running the trial, then as Division Director, it's yours. No one will try to take that from you."
Brent thought about what Logan said for a few moments and nodded, "Okay, I guess I can understand that. Thanks for making the offer guys, but I really think this is something I need to do. If for no other reason than to prove to myself that I can do it."
Adam smiled and nodded, "That's good enough for me, Brent. Just remember, you don't have anything to prove to me or anyone else. You're a Division Director because you've already shown that you can do it. If you mess up from time to time, don't worry about it. Even I mess up sometimes. Heck, although he probably won't admit it, Cory has messed up sometimes too."
Brent nodded, "Thanks Adam. I'll try to remember that."
Adam smiled, "Okay then. We have to run and... take care of other stuff. Good luck with the trail."
"Thanks," Brent said again as the link went dead.
As Brent turned around to return to the rest of the group, he was a bit surprised to see a young, yet distinguished looking, Vulcan standing behind him.
"Hi," Brent said with surprise. "Sorry, I didn't see you standing there."
The Vulcan gave a very slight nod, "There is nothing to apologize for. I did not wish to interrupt your communication."
"Okay," Brent replied.
"My name is S'pilash, Envoy to Ambassador Sarek," The Vulcan continued, "The Ambassador sends his regrets that he will be unable to attend the proceedings this evening. Instead, he has requested that I attend in his stead."
"That's understandable," Brent agreed, "I know Ambassador Sarek is a very busy man. To be honest, I don't see why so many people are taking so much interest in this. It's just a small trial."
S'pilash raised an eyebrow, "I do not believe you fully comprehend the magnitude of your endeavor."
"Your probably right," Brent shrugged. "With that being said, to what do I owe the honor of you visiting me?"
S'pilash returned the bow, "Sarek has requested that I come to prepare you for the trial. I believe that I may be able to provide you with some important insights in regards to Vulcan and Clan law that you might run into."
"That sounds logical," Brent stated trying to sound as Vulcan as possible. "Let us proceed."
S'pilash took Brent off to the side, and for the next ten minutes, the two spoke quietly amongst themselves.
"Good evening Las Vegas, as well as everyone else across the country who may be joining us. This is Heather Klein of KTNV Action News, reporting from inside the convention center at the Malaya Hotel in downtown Las Vegas. This evening, the Malaya will be serving as the host to a very historic event, the very first public trial to be held by Clan Short of Vulcan."
"For many of us, Clan Short first made headlines a week ago when they came under direct attack by the Fundamentalist Church of Christ, also known as the FCC. Over the past week they have continued to make headlines by the actions they have been taking to protect young people across the country, and the world. KTNV has also learned that over the past several days, since Clan Short has opened its phone lines to the country, it has rescued and is now providing food and shelter to over 10,000 kids."
"Tonight, for the first time ever, we will be given a very unique glimpse into the justice system of the Clan. In just a few minutes Brent Knocks, Division Director of the North American West Division of Family Clan Short, will begin proceedings for the trial. KTNV Action News will be here to bring you every moment of the trial as it happens. In addition to this, because this is such a historic event, we have assembled a group of ten random members of the public who have agreed to sit here with us, and share their thoughts and opinions of the developments of the trial as it happens. At the end of the proceedings, they will also vote on a verdict, and we will see how closely their verdict reflects that of the actual trial."
"Thank you for joining us this evening, panelists," Heather turned toward the panelists, who were arranged in two rows of five, with the top row slightly higher than the bottom row.
All ten individuals nodded and in various ways, and said 'hi'. The group as a whole consisted of five men and five women, all of whom were between twenty to fifty years old. Four of the individuals, two men and two women were white. Another man and woman were of African decent. The group was further rounded out by one of the men being an Asian, and another being Native American, while one of the remaining women was Hispanic, while the other was Asian.
Heather listened to something being said in her earpiece for a few moments before continuing, "Now, it's my understanding that, very shortly, we are expecting the North American West Division's information officer to come out in just a few minutes to get things started. In the mean time, let me start things out by asking all of our panelists this; By a show of hands, how many of you have never heard of Clan Short before today?"
Only one of the middle aged women raised their hand.
Heather nodded, "And out of those of you who are familiar with the Clan, how many of you have had any type of direct interaction with any Clan member, or the Clan as a whole?"
Each of the panelists shook their head.
"Okay, none of you have had any direct involvement, but have any of you heard any," Heather stopped in mid-sentence and a few moments later, continued. "Actually, I'm just being told that Tristen Fleming, the Division's Information Officer, is making his way up to the podium. So, let's listen in to what he has to say."
As Tristen walked onto the stage with microphone in hand, the noise in the room quickly died down as thousands of eyes turned toward the twelve year old.
"Good evening," Tristen began as he looked out toward the nearly packed room. "First, I would like to thank all of you for joining us, especially on such short notice. The proceedings will be getting underway in just a few minutes. Before they do, however, I would like to give everyone a little information about what to expect tonight. First, for those of you who do not know me, my name is Second Lieutenant Tristen Fleming, Family Clan Short Special Forces, Divisional Information Officer of the North American West Division of Family Clan Short of the House of Surak of the planet Vulcan."
"For those of you who may not be familiar with who or what Clan Short is, I would recommend picking up one of our fliers, which you will find on several tables that are setup on the sides of the room. There, you will find some basic information about the Clan, as well as our web address, e-mail address, a general information phone number, and our rescue hotline number."
"As a Clan, operating under Vulcan Charter, Family Clan Short is tasked by the Federation Council to enforce Federation law as it pertains to children. This includes those situations where those laws dictate that the Clan take appropriate logical action to address transgressions against the Clan itself, one or more of its members, or that which the Clan is mandated to protect. These proceedings are typically handled in the form of a Vulcan Trial. For those of you who may be interested in learning the specifics behind Vulcan trials, you may visit the Vulcan Embassy's website. A link to their site is also available on the Clan Short website."
"One distinguishing element between most Earth Trials, and Vulcan Trials is the fact that Vulcan Trials will depend more on the use of telepathic scans to ensure the absolute highest accuracy possible in understanding all the facts related to a case, while allowing the judge to render an appropriate, logical judgement, and if necessary, sentence. In an effort to give the general public a better understanding of the Clan, this evening, the North American West Division of Family Clan Short has decided to open the proceedings of one such trial public."
"Typically there would usually be very little to see in a normal Vulcan trail, which would usually consist of a few mind melds to preform telepathic scans, and then the pronouncement of a judgment. In order to better allow members of the public to witness and understand what is happening, a few changes to the normal format are being made. Keep in mind, however, the final outcome will be the same. All telepathic scans of the accused, as well as any witnesses involved, will be conducted by two different Vulcan trained telepaths, and that information will be telepathically sent to the judge, who will analyze and review the information, and render an appropriate judgement."
"One of the main allowances that will be made in this evenings proceedings involves the presentation of witnesses. All witnesses that you will see this evening will have already consented to a telepathic scan. They will then be given the opportunity to either orally give their testimony themselves, or to allow one of the Vulcan Telepaths to orate the testimony for them."
"As an important note, I would like to remind everyone, that once the proceedings begin, the entire convention center hall that we are in will be considered a Vulcan courtroom. Anyone who chooses to remain in the room will be giving their consent to be surface scanned by telepaths for the safety and security of both the spectators and those involved in the trial itself. Any acts of violence or attempts to disrupt the proceedings will be dealt with swiftly and efficiently by the multiple security teams that will be monitoring the room. If anyone does not consent to these conditions, you are advised to leave the room at this time."
Tristen paused for several seconds as he scanned the room to see if anyone was standing up to leave. To his surprise, about six different people got up and made their way out of the room.
Once it was clear that no one else planned on leaving, Tristen continued. "Thanks. Finally, although I'm sure most of you have read this on the pamphlets you were given when you arrived, I feel this is important enough to be said. Another place Vulcan and Earth laws differ, is that depending on what verdict is deemed most logical, sentence may be carried out immediately following that. There will be a brief intermission from the end of testimony and the rendering of the verdict where anyone that may not feel comfortable with seeing this sentencing carried out may leave. Parents with young children are strongly encouraged to take this into consideration. This applies to those watching here, as well as those watching the trial by video feed. And with that, I will turn the remainder of this evening's proceedings over to Brent Knocks, North American West Division Director of Family Clan Short of House Surak of Vulcan, who under Vulcan law, will sit as Judge for this trial."
As Tristen made his way off the stage, Brent took a deep breath. Then, with a small amount of anxiety, dressed in the standard Clan dress robes complete with the Clan Short house logo, he made his way up the small ramp to the stage. Already he could see the thousands of eyes piercing through him as he walked toward the back to enter the small judges box that had been setup for him.
After taking a moment to adjust the height of his seat, he was surprised at just how well his slightly raised position afforded him a near perfect view of the rest of the stage area, as well as the room full of onlookers. Shoved nearly in his face was a large black microphone, and under that, concealed partially from view by the front of the judges box was a laptop computer. The laptop was setup in such a way that it was linked directly to Daileass, and would serve as a primary source of contact and information during the trial, especially if any unexpected developments were to occur.
Almost immediately, he noticed that there was already 1 pending message for him. He had to smile inwardly as he pressed the button to read it, and saw who it was from. 'Good luck on the trial, I know you can do it - Love Lance'. 'Here we go,' Brent thought to himself as he cleared his throat, and flipped on the Mic.
"Good evening," Brent began as the room once again became silent. "In accordance with Vulcan law, as North American West Division Director of Family Clan Short of House Surak of Vulcan, on this day, Monday, November 1st, of the Earth year 2004, I declare this court to be in session."
As soon as Brent finished speaking, a ceremonial Vulcan chime could be heard echoing around the room.
"Is there any issue to be brought before this court?" Brent asked as he looked around the room.
Almost immediately, Joshua, the thirteen year old telepathic Genesis boy, who was part of Lance's personal security team, stood up from where he was seated in the front row of chairs, "I stand to bring an issue before the court."
Brent gave a single nod toward Joshua, "Please approach and identify yourself before the court."
Joshua walked up the front ramp onto the stage, and stood in front of one of the two microphones that were setup on the table directly in front of the judges box. "I am Corporal Joshua Flint, commanding officer of the security task force assigned to Assistant Division Director Lance Phillips of the North American West Division of Family Clan Short."
Brent gave another single nod toward Joshua, "The court recognizes Corporal Flint. For what issue do you stand to bring before the court this day?"
"I stand to bring the issue of grievous harm and injustice preformed against Ronald DeGarren and others by Glenda Farthing," Joshua answered.
This time, Brent gave no nod, but went right to his next question, "You are not Ronald DeGarren. By what right do you present this issue?"
In a slightly more official tone, Joshua answered. "By the right of Ronald DeGarren being a protected member of my clan, and that the same is currently in critical medical condition in the UNIT medical facilities, and unable to present this issue himself."
Brent responded with another nod, "This court recognizes your right. Is there an advocate that is knowledgeable in Vulcan law and custom who will stand for the injured in this issue?"
Still in his official tone, Joshua replied, "I stand as advocate by proxy of the injured. I am familiar with Vulcan law and custom, and by logic, agree to submit to the court for a scan of intent and competence."
Brent paused for a few moments before he looked out toward the room, "The court accepts your appointment as advocate to the injured by proxy. Let it be known that the advocate has already been scanned prior to the trial, and has been found to have met all the conditions necessary to serve as advocate." Brent then looked back toward Joshua, "Advocate, please take your position with logic as your guide."
Joshua nodded and then walked to the right of the stage where he stood behind a smaller podium, which was angled such that it faced the judges box.
"Please present the accused," Brent stated. As soon as he said this, two individuals armed with phaser rifles and wearing full UNIT dress uniforms, escorted a rather unhappy looking, middle aged, lady up the ramp to the stage, coming to a halt at the table in front of the judges box.
"Glenda Farthing," Brent began, "You stand accused before this court. Do you have an advocate that you wish to provide to stand for you? If not, this court will provide an advocate for you."
"I have nothing to say to you," Farthing replied defiantly.
Brent sighed, "Very well. As it is illogical for an accused to stand alone, this court shall appoint an advocate for..."
Before Brent could finish, a large amount of commotion in the room drew his attention away. Walking down the center aisle was a tall man with short golden hair wearing a very flashy, expensive looking suit, holding a medium sized briefcase in his hand.
"Permission to approach the court?" the man spoke loudly with a thick Texan accent.
Slightly surprised by this unexpected development, Brent glanced at the screen of his laptop where a small message was waiting for him, 'Brent, not sure how this guy found out about this or what he's hoping to do, but there are no immediate security concerns - Emily'. Under that was a picture of the man, and a small amount of profile information for him. The man's name was Franklin Black, and according to the provided information, he was a rather well known lawyer who often represented high profile clients.
Without waiting for a reply from Brent, the man stopped just short of the ramp leading up to the stage, "Franko Black, your honor, I've been retained by the school board of Clark County to stand as advocate for the accused."
Brent blinked, "Um, I'm sorry Mr. Black, but unless the accused requested you herself, that would be out of line."
Farthing, not being stupid, immediately picked up on the fact that this was something that the brats running the trial were not expecting, and as such could only be a good thing for her. "Oh I do your honor, I fully request that Mr. Black stand as my advocate."
Brent glanced toward his screen to read the waiting note. 'Your call, Brent - Emily'. After reading the note, Brent thought for a moment. "I'm sorry Mr. Black, but given that you were not here for the pre-trial, This court can not recognize you as an advocate."
"I beg the court's pardon," The man replied. "It's not my fault that you rushed the trial, and did not give me a chance to respond. Further, the woman that stands accused has requested that I stand as her advocate. I am well versed in Vulcan law and procedures, and I submit myself to the court for a scan of intent and competence. So, unless you wish the entire world to believe that this trial is nothing more than a staged PR stunt, I beg the court to reconsider."
Brent glanced at his lap-top again for a few moments before he replied with a nod, "Very well, Mr. Black. This court has reconsidered your request, and pending that you pass a scan of intent and competence, will permit you to stand as advocate."
The man nodded and waited patiently.
"In order to accomplish this, we will now need to present the Vulcan trained telepaths who have volunteered to take part in these proceedings. Will those individuals please present themselves before the court at this time?" Brent asked in a voice that sounded slightly more confident.
From each side of the stage, a male and female Vulcan walked up the side ramp and onto the stage. The female was dressed in a Starfleet officer's uniform, while the male was dressed in traditional black vulcan robes. They met each other in the exact center, and at the same time, turned toward the judges box and stopped in front of the table with the microphones. Both Vulcans appeared to be in their early 30's, still rather young in Vulcan standards.
The female in the Starfleet uniform spoke first, "I am Ensign T'Livi currently assigned to Terra Main. I freely offer my services to this court as a Vulcan Trained Telepathic Witness."
Brent gave a single nod to the female, "Your credentials have been received and are known to the court. Your services as court telepath are accepted, T'Livi of Terra Main."
T'Livi nodded and stood a few feet to the right of the front table.
Next, the man in black Vulcan robes spoke, "I am Sylok currently assigned to the Vulcan Embassy on Earth. I freely offer my services to this court as a Vulcan Trained Telepathic Witness."
Brent gave a single nod to the male, "Your credentials have been received and are known to the court. Your services as court telepath are accepted, Sylok of the Vulcan Embassy."
Like T'Livi, Sylok nodded and stood a few feet to the left of the front table.
"At this time, the court requests that one of the court telepaths meld with and scan Mr. Franklin Black for the purpose of confirming his intent and competence to function as advocate to the accused."
Being closest to the ramp that Franklin was standing in front of, Sylok walked down to him, and in front of the entire audience, placed his hands on the man's face, and began the meld.
As the room waited patiently for the meld to complete, off in the side room with the panelists, Heather Klein turned toward the camera. "Well, there you have it friends. With the actual trial not even starting yet, I think it's safe to say that there are a large number of surprises in store for us. The first surprise being the arrival of Franklin Black, a very well known, and high profile lawyer. He's especially known for several cases he has recently taken here in the valley defending such clients as H&H Construction, and MGM Studios."
Heather then turned toward the panelists, "While we are waiting for the proceedings to continue, let me ask this question to all of you; what is your initial impression with how the Clan is handling the trial? And, as is standard for our panels, any of you may feel free to jump in with an answer."
Darren, the older of the two white men, was first to speak up, "Well Heather, if you ask me, I think this just proves what I think a lot of people already knew about the Clan. They are a bunch of fluff and window dressing, out to attempt to impose their own social and cultural views on the rest of the world, while hiding under the flags of Starfleet and Vulcan. If you ask me, they are just a bunch of brats that need to have a good spanking from their parents. Kids need to learn to respect their elders. By letting the kids of Clan Short run rampant like we do, what message are we really sending?"
"An, interesting thought," Heather commented as she winced. "Do the rest of you agree with that?"
"Absolutely not, Heather," Fillies, an African female stated as many of the other panelists shook their heads, "I couldn't disagree more with that. The Clan has done nothing but try to help kids since they first showed up. For that, they have been ridiculed and attacked. If the actions of the Clan are making some adults feel uncomfortable because a group of kids are pulling things off that most adults would never dream of accomplishing, maybe that's a good thing. As a mother myself, I would personally applaud the parents of the clan for how well they have raised their children. I only wish that my child could have been like some of them."
"Not only that, but let's also not forget that it was the Fundamentalist Church of Christ that attacked the clan last week, and not the other way around," Hitesh, the Asian man commented.
"That's over-exaggerated," Darren retorted,
"I'm sorry panelists," Heather cut in as she listened to her ear piece, "But I'm being told the proceedings are about to continue, so let's rejoin them now."
"Sylok?" Brent asked as Sylok returned to a position in front of the table. "Have you been able to successfully complete your scan?"
"I have," Sylok replied flatly. "Mr. Black does, in fact, intend to defend Mrs. Farthing to the best of his ability, and is in fact familiar with a sufficient enough amount of Vulcan law to allow him to act as advocate."
Brent nodded and looked toward Franklin, "Mr. Black, you have been found to be an acceptable advocate for Mrs. Farthing. However, I feel it is important to remind you that the proceedings of this court do not function in the same manner as a traditional Earth court. There will be no arguments of semantics, or usage of other standard earth law legal trickery. The ultimate determination of this court will be determined by logic, and based primarily on the telepathic testimony obtained from the accused and when available and logically appropriate, secondary consideration will be given to telepathic testimony obtained from witnesses. If you are in agreement with this, you may take your position as advocate to the accused."
"Of course, your honor," Mr. Black grinned slyly as he made his way up the ramp, onto the stage, and over to the small podium that was next to where Mrs. Farthing was standing. The two briefly exchanged glances as the man opened up his briefcase on the podium.
Turning back toward the room, Brent continued. "Have the court telepaths been able to successfully meld with, and telepathically copy all relevant information from the accused?"
"I have," Ensign T'Livi announced.
"As have I," Sylok agreed.
"Very well," Brent stated. "Please present the charges of the accused."
Ensign T'Livi took a step forward and began to emotionlessly speak. "On this date, the first day of November, of the Earth year 2004, after reviewing and analyzing all pertinent information, Glenda Farthing, daughter to Rosemary and Foghorn Farthing, is hereby charged with the following Safe Haven Act violations that occurred during her time as an employee of the Clark County School System; 142 major counts of section 11.2, Threats of beating, strangulation or physical restraint. 8 minor and 1 major count..."
The Vulcan was interrupted by Franklin speaking loudly in his microphone, "Objection your honor. For the case of brevity, I would like to request that the specific charges be skipped at this time."
Brent glared at the grinning lawyer, "Mr. Black, perhaps I have did not make myself clear earlier, but this is not an Earth court, and the typical legal maneuvers that you might use in an Earth court will not apply here. It is traditional and logical for all the charges against the accused to be read for all to be aware of. Please continue T'Livi."
Franklin's grin disappeared as T'Livi nodded and continued, " One hundred forty-two major counts of section 11.2, threats of beating, strangulation or physical restraint. Eight minor and one major count of section 12.1, brainwashing or mentally programming children to believe that there is only one religious or social belief system. Forty-one minor and two major counts of section 12.2, isolation of children from their peers and normal socialization. Sevem major counts of section 12.3, depriving children of necessary interaction with close family members without justification. Sixty-one counts of section 17.21, punishment of children for normal developmental stages. Eight counts of 21.4a, intentionally subjecting children to mental or emotional abuse severe enough to lead to suicide. Twenty-one counts of section 21.4b, unintentionally subjecting children to mental or emotional abuse severe enough to lead to suicide. Seven counts of section 81.2, failure of the appropriate authorities to take the actions necessary to protect the children under their authority. Sevem counts of section 81.8, failure to follow procedures stipulated in this act in cases of danger to children. Seven counts of section 81.9, negligence resulting in increased danger to children."
The room sat in silence for several moments after the reading was completed.
Heather still seemed to be recovering as the camera turned toward her and the panelists, "Well... Um... Now that we seem to have a small break in the action, do any of our panelists have any initial reactions to the charges?"
Linda, the woman who had indicated earlier that she had not heard of the Clan, was first to speak, "I may not have heard of Clan Short, but I am very familiar with the school board, and although it sounds appalling, I can not honestly say I'm surprised."
"I for one am very surprised," Sue Ti, the only Asian woman on the panel added. "To subject our children to this type of monster. It is.. it is... unthinkable."
"Darren, I don't suppose you have any comments, do you?" Heather asked.
Darren, who also looked slightly surprised, swallowed before answering. "I admit the charges do not sound that favorable, but I think we should wait until we hear the full story before we jump to any conclusions, prematurely."
Before anyone else could say anything, Brent began to speak again, which caused the cameras to return to the trial.
"The court has made a record of the charges," Brent said gravely. "Sylok, do the stated charges concur with what you have scanned from the accused?"
"They do," Sylok replied emotionlessly.
"Very well, is there anyone that has merit to add to the listed charges?" Brent asked.
"If I may address the court?" Joshua asked and waited until Brent nodded in his direction. "I would also like it noted that over her fifteen year tenure, Glenda Farthing's actions were also directly responsible for the unjust separation of ten pairs of children and adults."
"Can the court telepaths confirm this statement?" Brent asked.
"We can," Sylok offered. "However, it should also be noted. that one of those separations were indeed warranted. as the adult in question was a legitimate Pedophile, and was indeed hurting the child."
"The court will take this information into advisement," Brent stated before he turned to Franklin. "Mr. Black, at this point, it would be logical for the accused to be allowed to make a statement on her behalf, or for you to be allowed to call any testimonial witnesses, if you have them."
Franklin sparkled in the light as he grinned, "Thank you, your honor. I believe I would like to begin by calling our witnesses."
Brent seemed slightly surprised by the statement, "You have witnesses?"
Franklin smiled, "Of course your honor. You didn't think I would come unprepared, do you?"
"Mr. Black, if your witnesses are willing to adhere to the procedures that have been established for calling witnesses in this evenings proceedings, which include willingly submitting to a telepathic scan to collaborate the truthfulness of their statements," Brent stated, and watched carefully for what the lawyer's reaction would be.
"I can fully agree to that, your honor," Franklin replied.
Brent nodded, "Very well, then you may proceed with calling your witnesses."
"Thank you," Franklin bowed. "The first witness I would like to call is Matilda Gardner."
"Who?" Brent asked as he searched his laptop's list of names. As he did this, many eyes in the room turned to see a large, waddling ball, of a person slowly make her way into the room and toward the ramp of the stage. The lady looked to be in her mid 40's, and had to weigh at least 400 pounds. As she made her way onto the stage to stand in front of the table, several noticeable cracking sounds could be heard from the raised surface.
Brent blinked, "Mrs. Gardner, do you agree to tell the truth, to the best of your ability and knowledge, and to have your testimony telepathically verified by one of the court telepaths for accuracy and completeness?"
The lady looked toward Mr. Black, and when he nodded, she looked back toward Brent, "I do."
"To start with, what is your involvement with the accused?" Brent asked.
"I was Glenda's co-worker for the last eight years." The lady bellowed out.
"Okay," Brent nodded. "Please proceed with the statement you wish to make."
The large lady rotated herself so that she was facing the crowd, and began to speak in an overly dramatic voice. "Glenda Farthing is a good woman. She is very hard working, not only in her own work, but also in being willing to assist any of the other office staff in anything that needed help. Many of the students regard Glenda as one of their favorite counselors. It has not been uncommon for former students to return to our school to meet with Glenda to tell her how appreciative they were to her help and support, and how much their lives have benefited from her involvement."
Matilda waited for a few moments before she continued. "Sure, the counts against Glenda may sound like a lot, but when you consider that there are thousands of students at the school that she is dealing with on a daily basis, it's really not that large. Everyone makes mistakes, but for someone who is as loved and cherished by all the students as Glenda is, you can not hold all of them against her."
As Matilda rotated to face Brent, Brent nodded toward Sylok who went and preformed a quick mind meld with the lady. Moments later, Sylok took a step back. "Beyond the inaccuracy of the statement that 'all' students love and cherish the accused, she believes her other statements to be accurate."
"Thank you Mrs. Gardner," Brent nodded toward the lady, "your excused."
"But, don't you wish to ask me more questions?" the lady asked.
Brent shook his head, "I believe we are good, thank you."
Matilda scowled toward Sylok as she waddled her way off the stage.
"Mr. Black, just how many witnesses do you have?" Brent asked.
"I have several dozen your honor," Mr. Black grinned.
"Very well," Brent nodded. "However, you need to be advised that trial witnesses should be limited to witnesses who have directly been effected by the accused, and who are able to directly speak toward the charges and provide logical, factual information. Character witnesses, and those offering opinions only will not be permitted."
Franklin looked like he was about to argue, but instead grudgingly went through his stack of papers pulling out several sheets. "Very well your honor," he replied in a rather disappointed voice, "In that case, I only have one more witness."
Brent nodded, "Proceed."
"The next witness I would like to call is Lon Cote," Franklin stated, being sure to speak into his microphone.
As a man in his late twenty's made his way into the room, and toward the stage, Brent again checked for his name on the list, and this time found him. Lon was the one kid that Farthing actually managed to protect from a Pedophile.
"Mr. Cote, do you agree to tell the truth to the best of your ability and knowledge, and to have your testimony telepathically verified by one of the court telepaths for accuracy and completeness?" Brent asked.
Lon quickly answered, "Yes."
"Okay. To begin, what is your involvement with the accused?" Brent asked.
The man seemed to think about the question for a few moments. "She was one of my middle school counselors fifteen years ago."
"Okay," Brent nodded, "Please proceed with the statement you wish to make."
"This is something that is still a little hard for me to talk about," Lon began as he looked out toward the crowd. "So let me start by sharing a little story. It's a story about a young boy who was in the seventh grade and had just turned thirteen. This boy used to live in Virginia, and had just moved to the Las Vegas area because his father accepted a new job there. He was in a completely new neighborhood, a completely new school, and had no friends. For all intents and purposes, this boy was isolated and alone. Even his parents, who were both still trying to get established in their new jobs, had little time to spend with him."
Lon took a deep breath before he continued, "Then one day, about two months after he had moved here, he met a man. He was a very nice man, at least that's what he thought at first. This man was not that bad looking, he was in his early twenty's, clean cut, and didn't look anything at all like those dirty old men that people told you to stay away from. But most importantly, he paid attention to this boy, and listened to him when no one else seemed to. In the beginning, things went pretty well. They talked a lot, he would help the boy with his homework, he even took the boy out to the movies sometimes, or out for fast food. But then, about a month after they had met, the man started doing things to the boy, and touching the boy in places that made him feel uncomfortable. The entire time, he would tell the boy that this kind of stuff was normal for kids his age. With no other friends that he could really talk to, the boy was none the wiser."
As every eye in the room watched him, Lon paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. "Well, things continued to get progressively worse for this boy. Since the boys parents both worked rather late, the man started picking the boy up from school, and continued to get more and more involved with the boy to the point that he would start to make him do things... with himself at first... and then... with him... When the boy started to say he didn't want to do that kind of stuff, the man told him that he had to, and no one would believe him if he tried to tell anyone, and the man would just beat... beat him."
With tears now filling his eyes, Lon stopped for a moment to clear them away before he continued. "As you can probably guess, the boy in this story was myself when I was thirteen, and the man was Malcolm Wilkerson. What no one around here knew at the time was that this very nice looking twenty-three year old man was a Pedophile who was wanted in three other states for repeatedly molesting three other boys. He would find a target, get to know them, and work them up to the point that he would rape them on a daily basis. I was very quickly on my way to becoming boy number four, if it weren't for the sharp eye and keen observation of a school guidance counselor who recognized the signs and took action to end my nightmare, and get the monster arrested and thrown in jail."
Lon was clearly fighting with his emotions as he tried to continue, "If it were not for Glenda Farthing, I have no doubt I would have been another victim, another statistic. But when no one else bothered to care, when no one else saw the signs, she did. She saved me, and she saved countless other victims. I owe my life to her, and all I can say, is she does not deserve what your trying to do to her. That's all."
At this point Black walked over to comfort the man as he looked up toward Brent, "Well, go ahead and have one of your telepaths scan him to make sure he's not 'lying' to you."
Brent, visibly effected by the man's statement as well, nodded toward T'Livi who walked over to Lon and began the meld.
Heather Klein blinked a few times to clear her eyes as she looked toward toward the camera. "With only two witnesses having given statements so far, I think it's safe to say that we are in for a pretty big emotional roller coaster tonight."
Heather turned toward the panelists, many of whom were also clearly effected by the last testimony. "As we wait for the meld to be preformed, do any of you have any comments on what you've seen and heard so far?"
Darren was the first one to speak. "I'd just like to point out Heather, that I think this is a perfect example of what can happen when you try to judge someone too early. This is clearly a good woman who has the best interests in mind for the kids she interacts with. I have to question why Clan Short would even bother with something like this."
Although she knew better, at that moment in time and after hearing testimony like that, Heather was finding it difficult to disagree, "Do the rest of you feel the same way?"
Maria, the only Hispanic female on the panel, hesitantly raised her hand. "The charges that Farthing has been charged with seem pretty serious. However, although I hate to say this, after listening to Mr. Cote's testimony, I have to wonder if this woman is really as bad as she's being made out to be."
Heather nodded, "Well, I'm sure we will get a chance to see fairly quickly. It looks like the Vulcan has just finished up the meld, so let's return to watching the trial."
As she completed the meld, T'Livi faced Brent. "To the best of his knowledge, everything that Mr. Cote has said was accurate. However, I should point out that he was rather vague in some of the details. The actions done to him by Mr. Wilkerson were much more graphic."
Brent nodded and looked toward Lon, "Mr. Cote, the testimony that you gave was clearly difficult and the court appreciates you being willing to share that with us. If you don't mind, we would like you to stick around for the rest of the trial in the room we have setup in the back, just in case there is anything else needed. There are also people there that can offer you any emotional or psychological help you might need."
"Thank you," Cote gave a slight bow as he walked off the platform and toward the back room.
"Mr. Black?" Brent turned toward the lawyer, "Do you or Mrs. Farthing have any other comments that you would like to make to add to the witness testimony that you have presented?"
Franklin, who seemed remarkably pleased with himself, smiled. "I believe that the testimony we just heard speaks better than anything I could say, your honor. We have nothing further to add."
"Very well," Brent stated as he turned toward Joshua. "The advocate of the injured may proceed with calling any witnesses that you wish to be heard."
"Thank you. I would like to begin with the person that this all started with, Dominic Torricelli," Joshua clearly stated.
Moments later, Dominic walked out from the back room, up the ramp, onto the stage and stood before Brent. As soon as he stopped, Brent looked down toward him. "Mr. Torricelli, do you agree to tell the truth, to the best of your ability and knowledge, and to have your testimony telepathically verified by one of the court telepaths for accuracy and completeness?"
Dominic nodded, "Absolutely."
"Please start by telling the court what is your involvement with the accused?" Brent asked.
Dominic thought for a moment, "She is Ronnie's guidance counselor."
"Okay, and what is your relationship to twelve year old Ronnie?" Brent asked.
"I'm a friend of the family, and help his mother out by watching him from time to time when asked," Dominic answered.
"Okay," Brent nodded, "Please proceed with the statement you wish to make."
Dominic looked out toward the crowd of people. "Well, as you just heard, Ronnie is currently twelve. This is his first year attending Walter Johnson Jr. High School here in the valley. I've known him, and have been involved in helping to watch and care for him at the request of his mother, who is his only current surviving relative, for the last year and a half. For all of last year, while he was attending Reeves Elementary School, there were no issues. Things were going fine this year as well, I guess, until about a month ago; which is when Farthing saw me give Ronnie a hug when I dropped him off for school one morning. Since then, on multiple occasions, she has called Ronnie into her office, trying different ways of getting him to admit that I was hurting or molesting him. Of course, since that never happened, he always said no."
"Objection your honor," Franklin called out. "He's using speculation and non-factual evidence."
Brent glared toward the lawyer, "What part of 'Vulcan Trial' do you not understand Mr. Black? Mr. Torricelli's testimony will be telepathically confirmed at the end of his statement. If he is lying, then the court will deal with him appropriately. But that is not for you to decide."
Franklin sighed and sat back down.
"I apologize for that Mr. Torricelli," Brent stated as he still kept one eye on the lawyer. "Please proceed."
Dominic nodded and continued. "That pretty much brings us to the present. Last Friday, I got a call from Mrs. Farthing, telling me that Ronnie's grades were starting to slip, and that he was at risk for failing this quarter and that I needed to stop by her office today to talk to her about it. As it turned out, Ronnie's grades were fine, and she was trying to set me up to get arrested by Clan Short, but the Clan Short person that was there, I guess, had a telepath and saw that she was being deceptive, and let me go. From the school, I went to grab something to eat, since I hadn't had anything yet. Then I went home expecting to find Ronnie at my house working on his homework. When he wasn't there, I drove past his house to see if his mother was there. Instead, I saw two cop cars at his house, and his front door busted down. The only thing I can add after that, is that after contacting Clan Short, I was later taken to the hospital where Ronnie is recovering."
"If I may address the court?" Joshua asked, and waited until Brent nodded in his direction. "Given how recently this has happened, and Mr. Torricelli not having received all the details yet, I believe it would be logical to extend his testimony with the information that was received from the telepathic scan preformed on Farthing."
Brent agreed, "As long as everything the advocate says can be personally verified by the court telepaths, you may proceed."
"Mr. Torricelli, I apologize that this trial is the first place you have to hear this," Joshua stated and then turned to the crowd. "Once Glenda Farthing saw that the Clan would not 'play ball' with her way of thinking, she panicked. As soon as we left her office, she made a call to one of her friends in the Las Vegas District 4 Sub-Station, and arranged to have Ronnie arrested under false pretenses. She also explained how it was important that Ronnie provide some type of incriminating evidence against Mr. Torricelli as quickly as possible, and that she would be down shortly to provide a false statement to support their actions."
"As a result, two of the detectives of that station, who were in strong agreement with Farthing's 'the ends justify the means' philosophy, proceeded to nearly kill Ronnie in their attempts to force him to make a statement. Farthing herself was arrested at the sub-station while she was in the process of filing her false statement." Joshua finished.
Brent sighed, "Can the court telepaths confirm this statement?"
"We can," Sylok offered. "However, it should also be noted that Farthing was not directly aware of what the detectives planned to do to force Ronnie to give his statement."
"The court will take this information into advisement," Brent stated before he turned to Dominic. "Do you have anything else to add to your statement?"
"No," Dominic stated, clearly effected by learning, for the first time, the specifics of how Ronnie came to being in the condition he currently was. "I do not."
Brent sighed, and nodded toward Sylok, who went to Dominic to begin his meld.
Heather looked toward the camera as it focused on her and the panelists. "With the advocate of the accused having finished with his witnesses, we have now heard the first witness called by the advocate of the injured, and what a testimony it was. One thing that immediately comes to mind is just how recently, after an event has occurred, that we find ourselves at the trial stage, something that would be unheard of in any Earth court room."
"Let me pose this question to our panelists. How do all of you feel about the way that Vulcan trials are held in comparison to Earth trials? Do you feel that we could learn something from the Vulcan?" Heather asked.
This time, Hitesh was first to answer. "I actually find Vulcan law rather refreshing. It seems to take a lot of the unnecessary stuff that has trials going around in circles for months."
"I couldn't disagree more," Frank, the other white male who hadn't said anything yet, spoke up, "All that unnecessary stuff that you are referring to is something we Earthlings have come to take as our basic rights. It's called due process. If you don't like it, maybe you should move to Vulcan and grow some pointed ears?"
"Well, we certainly seem to have touched on in interesting topic, which we will certainly want to revisit in the future," Heather interjected, "However, it seems the current meld is finished, so let's return to the trial."
"Maybe you should learn to have a bit more respect," Hitesh was heard saying before the panelist microphones were turned off.
Sylok turned toward Brent as he finished the meld, "To the best of Mr. Torricelli's knowledge, his statement was truthful and accurate."
Brent nodded, "Thank you Mr. Torricelli, you are excused. Please remain in the back area in case you are needed for anything else."
Dominic nodded and headed off the stage.
"The advocate for the injured may call his next witness," Brent stated.
"Thank- you," Joshua replied. "The next witness that I would like to call is Edgar Hamilton."
As soon as Joshua called out his name, a young man in his early twenty's, with short, light brown hair, walked out in the same manner that Dominic had, and stood before Brent. Again, Brent asked the same question he had asked very other witness, "Mr. Hamilton, do you agree to tell the truth to the best of your ability and knowledge, and to have your testimony telepathically verified by one of the court telepaths for accuracy and completeness?"
Edgar nodded, "Yes, sir."
"Okay, please tell the court what is your involvement with the accused?" Brent asked.
"She was my guidance counselor for two years when I lived here in Las Vegas," the man answered.
"So you don't currently live in Las Vegas?" Brent asked.
"No sir," Edgar answered, "We currently live in California."
Brent nodded, "Okay, please proceed with the statement you wish to make."
Edgar nodded toward Brent, then turned to face the crowd. "I guess it started out about eight years ago, it was my second year at junior high. I was in the seventh grade. Normally, my dad would drop me off at school, but he had to go out on a business trip for a week, and my Uncle Doug offered to drop me off instead. One day, I guess Farthing saw him kiss me on the forehead, and she decided that wasn't right, even though he was my uncle, and started asking me questions that all related to whether he was molesting me or not. Of course, he wasn't, and I tried to tell to tell her that, but she refused to listen to me. She insisted that I was in denial or that he was threatening me to force me to protect him."
"Maybe a month after all this started, Farthing started talking to my parents, telling them what she felt my uncle was doing to me, and how I was trying to help cover it up. Well, my parents are pretty smart, and they saw right through the bullshit, excuse my language, that she was trying to sell them. So when my parents didn't go along with her, she started spreading rumors around some of her friends in the community that they were supporting a child molester, even going as far as offering their own child to be molested."
Edgar paused a moment to take a breath, "Well, my parents tried to fight what she was saying, but it was kinda useless. You see, sir, when those kind of things start getting spread about you, no one really cares if they are true or not. They just kinda stick. My ma lost her job as a librarian, and my pa was told, in no uncertain terms, that he needed to retire. To make a long story short, we ended up having to leave because of all the rumors Farthing was spreading. We ended up moving to Carson City, but when she found out, somehow she got the rumors spreading there as well. We ended up having to leave the state completely. Now, both of my parents have crap jobs, because of how much all of our lives have been messed up by Farthing."
Brent sighed, "What happened to your Uncle?"
Edgar thought for a moment before answering, "He runs his own business on the internet, and Farthing wasn't able to do anything to him, other than the investigation she tried to have the police do on him, which came up with nothing. I think that's part of the reason why she went after my parents, because she couldn't do anything to Uncle Doug."
"Objection your honor," Franklin called out. "There is no logic to his statement. He is only stating an opinion, in which he has no way to back up one way or the other."
Brent thought for a moment on how he wanted to handle this. As much as he hated to admit it, this time Mr. Black had a point.
Before Brent had a chance to say anything, T'Livi spoke up. "Sir? I feel it is my duty to inform the court, that based on the telepathic scan that I preformed on the accused earlier, I can confirm Mr. Hamilton's statement. As a result of her anger toward not being able to cause further harm to the uncle, Glenda Farthing intentionally targeted the parents instead."
"I concur," Sylok added.
"So noted," Brent stated as Franklin slumped back into his chair. "Do you have anything else you wish to add Mr. Hamilton?"
"No sir," Edgar shook his head.
Brent nodded, and signaled for T'Livi to approach the man to begin the mind meld.
As the camera went back to show Heather, and the panelists, Frank and Hitesh were now seated at opposite ends of the panel. "What seemed to start out as a possible slam dunk for the accused, and raise questions about why the trial was even happening, has clearly began to shift now with testimony from the second witness complete."
"Panelists?" Heather asked, "As each of you sit here watching the events of the trial unfold, what is going through each of your minds?"
As usual, Darren was the first to jump in. "Personally Heather, I'm still taking a wait-and-see attitude. We already tried to jump to conclusions once, at the beginning of the trail. I'm pretty sure that this trial still has more surprises to come."
"As far as I'm concerned," Linda added next. "I don't care how many people you have helped. Some of the things this woman has done are just flat out wrong."
"Doesn't the school board do any type of background checks on their employees? How could someone like Farthing ever get a job being so close to kids anyway?" Sue Ti asked.
"Don't you guys feel your jumping to conclusions just a little bit here?" Darren shot back.
"No," several of the panelists answered at the same time.
"Clearly, our panel is divided," Heather jumped in. "However, with the meld apparently over, it's time to return back to the proceedings."
T'Livi turned toward Brent as she completed the mind meld with Edgar. "To the best of Mr. Hamilton's knowledge, his statement was truthful and accurate."
Brent nodded, "Thank you Mr. Hamilton, you are excused. If you don't mind, I would like to ask that you please stick around in the back until the end of the trial."
Edgar nodded and headed off the stage.
"The advocate for the injured may call his next witness," Brent stated.
"Thank you," Joshua replied. "The next witness that I would like to call is Steve Meyers."
Moments after his name was called, a sixteen year old boy with collar length, jet black hair walked up the ramp, onto the stage. Unlike the others before him, there was a glint of determination in the boy's eyes.
Once he was standing in front of Brent, he waited patiently as the standard initial question was asked, "Mr. Meyers, do you agree to tell the truth to the best of your ability and knowledge, and to have your testimony telepathically verified by one of the court telepaths for accuracy and completeness?"
Steve nodded, "I do."
"Okay, please tell the court what is your involvement with the accused?" Brent asked.
"She was the bitch that destroyed my family for the last three years," Steve answered coldly
Brent sighed, "I can understand how this may be emotionally trying for you, but I need to ask that you please try to keep a degree of impartiality to your statements."
"Yes, sir," Steve replied, but the look he gave Brent told him just how disappointed he was. "She was the guidance counselor at my junior high school."
Brent nodded, "Okay, please proceed with the statement you wish to make."
With Brent's words fresh in his mind, Steve took a few moments to rethink what he had originally planned on saying. "When I was younger...," he began as he glared out to the crowd behind him, "When I was younger, I considered myself one of the lucky ones. I was a relatively happy kid. We were not really rich, but both of my parents had good jobs, but more importantly, they loved me, a lot. And I loved them. I also had a little brother, who I also got along with really good. Well, all of that changed when that... when Farthing decided... to rearrange my life, and take all that away."
Although Steve was doing his best to try to do what Brent had asked him, as he thought about what he was going to say next, images how terrible the last three years had been for him, kept flooding his head. He could feel himself starting to shake with how angry he was getting. At the same time, he could feel tears starting to form in his eyes, with how hurt and upset he was. 'Hold it together, Steve', he said to himself as he tried to get his emotions under control.
Off to the side of the large room, in an area that no one was really paying that much attention to, two eight year old boys appeared in a spot where moments before, no one had been standing. One of the boys, the one that had collar length silver blond hair and steel grey eyes, surveyed the room carefully. He had just tried to do what was natural to him, to help filter off some of the overly strong emotions that the boy who was currently giving his testimony was feeling. But when he did, he suddenly became aware of another presence in the room. Someone else was trying to do the same thing. This other person was no where close to being as good as he was, but the fact that it was occurring, in itself, was enough to grab his attention.
The other boy standing next to him, the one with shoulder length dark brown hair, and matching dark brown eyes, could sense that his boyfriend had picked up on something. "Whatchya find, Tyler?" in a mischievous tone.
"Something I think we need to stick around for," Tyler replied seriously.
Back on stage, after having better luck at getting his emotions in check, Steve continued, "When I was twelve, I started mowing lawns in the spring and summer to make some extra money. It wasn't anything major, just something I did on weekends and after school. I didn't even have many customers at first, but I guess word got around that I did good work, and my customers slowly grew. When I was thirteen, I had a bunch of new customers, including a nice older man who lived two blocks away from me. His name was Herman Kemp. He was probably one of my best customers. He was always really nice to me. On hot days, after I would finish his lawn, he would invite me into his kitchen and would give me a glass of ice cold lemonade while he went to get money to pay me. He also had a lot of different pictures on the wall, and a bunch of different nick-nacks laying around. Everything had history behind it, and sometimes he would tell me about them, if something caught my eye and I asked about it. Like one time, he had a picture of this old plane and..."
Steve caught himself rambling, and took a moment to regroup his thoughts. "Well, I guess that's not really important. Somehow, Mrs. Farthing found out that I went into Herman's house. I don't even know why it was important to her, it didn't even have anything to do with school. But she started poking around and asking questions about him. She started to suggest that he was trying to molest me, and even tried to get some of my other classmates to convince me. Well, when that didn't work, she started to talk to my parents. And, well, they believed her."
"After they talked to Farthing, my parents flipped. They started asking me what Herman was doing to me, and asking me why I didn't think I could talk to them anymore and be honest with them like I use to. I tried to tell them that nothing ever happened, but for some reason, they wouldn't believe me. My dad even made me quit my lawn mowing job, saying that if I couldn't be mature enough to be honest with him, then I wasn't mature enough to have a job. And things went down hill from there. Farthing started to spread rumors to more students at school, and soon a lot of the people I thought were friends; well, they weren't as much of a friend as I thought they were, since most of them didn't want to have anything to do with me anymore."
"I still had a few 'real' friends that stuck with me, but Farthing was always there trying to egg things on. She kept at it for the rest of that year, and all the following year. It basically tore my life a part. It tore my family apart. For three years, my parents and I couldn't really talk much. Conversations always seemed to come back to how I couldn't be honest with them anymore. Even my little brother and I started to get into fights. I can't start to say how many times... how many..."
Steve had to stop for a moment to wipe away his tears, and to take a deep breath, as the emotions inside of him went up and down like a roller coaster, "How many times I nearly ended everything. Because... Because I had nothing you see... no one."
"I'm sorry, I'm done," Steve finally said as he could no longer see through his eyes, and he ran off stage to the back room.
As the rest of the room was still recovering from what Steve had said, Sylok spoke, "It should be noted that both myself and T'Livi have acquired telepathic scans of Steve Meyers prior to the start of the trial, and that the verbal testimony he gave was, for the most part, accurate. However, what was left out was the fact that he had also ended up turning to drugs at one point as a way of escape, but fortunately was turned away from prolonged drug usage by one of the few remaining 'friends' that he felt he had."
Brent blinked a few times to clear his own eyes. "The court will take what has been said into consideration. Further, the court accepts your statement as indication that a meld to confirm accuracy of testimony has already been given."
"Your honor?" Franklin spoke out. "I request that Steve's testimony be removed from the record."
Brent glared at the lawyer, and in a voice that sent chills down the spines of most of the people in the room, spoke one word, "Why?"
Franklin stood there for a few moments and shook his head. "Never mind."
Brent then turned his focus back toward Joshua, although he was not sure how much of this he could take. "Does the advocate for the injured have any additional witnesses?"
"Yes," Joshua replied, "The next witness I would like to call is Sidney Grimes."
At first, no one walked out. But after a few moments, a small seven or eight year old boy began making his way up the ramp and onto the stage. As he did so, T'Livi walked up so she met the boy at the table in front of the judges box. As both turned to face Brent, although he wasn't sure why T'Livi was there, he asked his question anyway. "Sidney Grimes, do you agree to tell the truth to the best of your ability and knowledge, and to have your testimony telepathically verified by one of the court telepaths for accuracy and completeness?"
"Uh huh," the boy answered.
"Sir?" T'Livi asked. "Given the young age of this child. I would ask permission to preform the meld now, so if he encounters difficulties while giving his statement, he may be assisted."
Brent nodded, "That sounds logical. Proceed."
T'Livi knelt down in front of the boy. "Please do not be alarmed, this will not hurt at all."
Sidney nodded, "I know. The nice man in the back told me about it."
After a few moments, T'Livi stood up, indicating that she was done.
"Okay, please tell the court what is your involvement with the accused?" Brent asked.
Sidney thought for a few moments, and then as sincere as an eight year old could be, answered. "She killed my big brother."
"Excuse me?" Brent asked not expecting that answer.
"Sir? If I may," T'Livi interjected, "I believe he is attempting to say that he is the younger sibling of a boy that was targeted by Glenda Farthing, whom, as a direct result of those actions, terminated his own life."
Brent blinked and nodded, "Very well. You can proceed with the statement you wish to make."
Instead of turning to the crowd, Sidney continued to face Brent as he talked. "My brother's name was William Grimes. He would be fourteen now. When I was six and he was twelve, the lady at his school thought our neighbor was trying to hurt him, but he really wasn't. She started saying things about him that made other people not like him. Mom and dad tried to tell the lady to stop, but she wouldn't listen."
As the boy continued to talk, the hurt could be seen building up in his face. "After awhile, he started to get sad, because his friends didn't want to talk to him anymore. They kept saying he was dirty and stuff. Mom and dad tried to cheer him up, but it didn't help. That lady kept saying more and more bad things about him... until... well... When my mom came home from work... well... she... well... In the bathroom... she..."
"If I may?" T'Livi interjected again. "I believe the child is having difficulties stating the fact that he and his mother found his older brother's body in their bath tub with his wrists slit open."
Sidney nodded, "Yeah, that. I miss my brother a lot. He used to take me fishing, and to the park, and we had a lot of fun together. But now I don't have a big brother anymore... because he's gone and... and..." Before he could say anything else, the boy threw himself onto T'Livi and burst into tears.
T'Livi looked helplessly toward Brent, who only nodded in agreement at the unspoken question. With that, the female Vulcan carefully picked up the boy, and carried him to the back.
"Do something you idiot. What do you think the school board hired you for?" Mrs. Farthing said loudly enough for their microphone to pick up.
Brent turned his glare over to Franklin who was standing up to speak at the podium. "Is there something you wish to say Mr. Black?"
The lawyer stood there for a few moments, first looking at Mrs. Farthing, and then toward Brent. "I believe, your honor, that it is not logical for me to remain here." With that, the man closed his brief case, took a final look at Mrs. Farthing, and then made his way off the stage.
Daggers could be seen shooting out of Glenda Farthing's eyes as she watched the man make his way out of the room.
By the time that Franklin had made his exit, T'Livi had made her way back onto the stage, "Sir, for the record, the child's testimony was accurate from his perception. There are other minor details that he left out, but I do not believe they would be relevant to the overall testimony."
"Noted," Brent stated before turning back toward Joshua. "Does the advocate to the injured have any more witnesses?"
Joshua shook his head, "No further witnesses."
Brent nodded, "Okay. At this time, the court telepaths will present the telepathic scan that was taken from the accused."
T'Livi, being the closest, nodded and approached Brent and began the mind mild. Once she finished, Brent's eyes seemed to sink into his head as he did his best to prevent himself from loosing his lunch.
"Are you okay sir?" T'Livi asked with an unusual degree of concern for a Vulcan.
Brent nodded, and replied as best as he could, "Proceed with the verification."
T'Livi stepped back, and Sylok approached Brent and initiated another meld. When he stepped back, he confidently announced, "I have confirmed that the judge has correctly received the scan information from the accused."
Brent, using all of his strength to keep his emotions in check, looked back toward Mrs. Farthing. "Do you have any final comments you wish to make on your behalf before judgement is rendered?"
With a tone of both anger and defiance, Glenda Farthing stood up and glared at Brent. "I do not have to answer to this heathen court. My judgement will come down from the almighty, and he knows that what I have done has been in his Name and is Righteous."
Brent slowly nodded. "Very well. In that case, this court will take a short recess while I review all of the telepathic testimony and scans involved with tonight's proceedings; before judgement and sentencing is passed."
A low murmur of conversation within the room began the moment that Brent stood up and made his way off the stage, with T'Livi and Sylok following not far behind.
As Brent entered the back room, Lance took one look at the face of his lover, and knew at once just how bad he was taking this. Without saying anything, he wrapped his arms around Brent, and hugged him tight.
"I had no clue a single person could have so much anger and hate built up inside of them," Brent whispered as he soaked up as much of Lance's love as he could take.
Lance lovingly brushed his hand down the back of Brent's head, feeling his soft hair. "You going to be okay, love?"
"I think so," Brent answered as he pulled away from Lance just as Neal was walking up to them.
Shaking his head in his usual disapproving manner, Neal sighed. "I don't like how this is eating you up Brent. If you have the information you need to make a judgement, why not have one of the Vulcan's here get some of that out of your head?"
"Not until after the trial," Brent sighed. "I'll be fine until then."
S'pilash, who had not been standing that far away, walked over to the small group and added himself to the conversation. "If I may, I believe I can offer a more viable alternative to your current predicament," the Vulcan stated, and waited until the others recognized him. "As a specialist in mind melds and mind healing, I believe that I can assist you in being able to organize your mind and thoughts in such a way as to allow you to better deal with the intense emotions that you are, no doubt, experiencing. It will in no way remove from the actual information that is currently there."
"You can do that?" Brent asked cautiously.
S'pilash directly faced Brent, "Given my experience and knowledge in the area, I can. Although the benefits you would gain in the area of emotional control would only be temporary, I believe that it will be enough to, at least, get through the remainder of the trial, which was your stated objective."
Brent wanted to scream at the Vulcan telling him to stop standing around and get to doing it already, but instead he did his best to answer in as good of a Vulcan tone as he could manage. "What you suggest sounds logical. Please proceed."
S'pilash gave an almost unnoticeable nod before he placed his hands on Brent's face, and began the meld. A few minutes later, the Vulcan stepped back as Brent blinked a few times.
"Feel better?" Lance asked with concern.
Brent nodded, "I think so. There is still so much stuff there that was in her head, it's not fun to think about. But at least, I don't really feel like I need to scream or strangle someone."
"Not wanting to strangle anyone sounds like an improvement," Lance replied with a small grin.
"Thank you, S'pilash. My head does feel a bit clearer now." Brent stated as he turned back toward the Vulcan.
"You were in distress, and it was logical for me to assist you," S'pilash answered flatly. "You should be advised, however, that humans are not able to accept and deal with full telepathic scans without training. As such, I still recommend that you allow either myself, or one of the other Vulcan's here, to remove the bulk of that information as soon as possible. Once you have received training, you will be able to deal with these situations more effectively."
"Will it harm me?" Brent asked. "If you don't help me after, I mean?"
"Not physically. Emotionally, yes, but not permanently. It would mean far more work in the future than a short amount of work now to remedy it. Once this is all over, if you feel that you would like training, speak to one of the Clan's trainers and they will assist in preparing your mind to act in this manner without mind-melds being needed."
"That sounds logical," Brent agreed. "As soon as the trial is over, I will accept your help, and then talk to others for the required training."
"Indeed," the Vulcan stated has he began to turn and leave.
"Um, may I ask another question?" Brent asked quickly before the man had managed to go that far.
S'pilash looked back toward Brent, "You may."
"I'm trying to work through what the most appropriate punishment to fit Farthing's crimes would be. I've read enough of the past Clan trials to know that something like torture is generally not seen as being logical, but nothing really said 'why' it wasn't. When I think about it, it almost seems that it could be an effective behavioral deterrent, an indicator toward others that if you do bad stuff to kids, that there are things that could happen to you that are worse than death."
S'pilash raised an eyebrow, "Torture is not something that has been acceptable on Vulcan for a very long time. In what ways do you see it as being an effective deterrent? The only thing that torturing someone would accomplish is to be an emotional outlet to express one's anger. Beyond that, it has no logical function or purpose. There are, however, a number of other alternatives besides death, which could potentially fill a similar purpose, while still providing some other logical benefit. For example, the federation has a number of work colonies setup on remote planets where one could provide some benefit to society through hard labor. The individual would be forced to suffer and endure something more than death, while at the same time, you would not be dehumanizing yourself, but would instead benefit others."
"Hum," Brent thought out loud, "I guess I didn't really think about looking at it that way. If we are going to punish someone for taking their anger and hatred out on a child, what message would it send if we turn around and do the same to them."
"Precisely," S'pilash agreed. "Beyond that, from a more legal point of view, the Federation, along with many other races and cultures, have rules that protect their citizens against torture."
Brent nodded, "Okay, thank you for your assistance, S'pilash. You have been most helpful."
S'pilash gave a slight nod, and then made his way to the other side of the room to see if he could be of any assistance to others.
"Sir?" Ryan Casey, one of the UNIT kids that were assigned to Brent's personal security, called out, "From the conversation you just had with S'pilash, would I be correct in assuming you are currently leaning toward finding Farthing guilty?"
Brent had to force himself to not burst out laughing, "Pretty much. I don't think it's a question of guilt or not, but more of an appropriate punishment."
Ryan nodded, "I believe I understand, sir. I understand it is not really my place to get involved in such matters, but I would like to present you with another alternative based on what choice you make."
Brent sighed, "Maybe part of my problem is that I still don't completely understand the whole military thing enough yet. But, as far as I'm concerned, you, Lincoln, and Jolin are just as much a part of this division as anyone else. So your feedback, and insight, is welcome just as much as everyone else's is."
"Thank you, sir. Part of the friction you are getting is most people don't feel that way. So, as a coping method to us, we just assume everyone will treat us that way until proven otherwise," Ryan gave a slight smile. "Anyway, if you should decide that the most appropriate sentence is death, I would like to offer to be the one to carry the sentence out for you."
Seeing Brent's slightly confused look, Ryan continued. "I know that me and the rest of the UNIT guys have only been around you and your guys since this morning, but even in that short amount of time, we've all seen something special in you. You seem to approach things with a certain degree of hope and, well, please don't take this the wrong way, but innocence. That seems to add a lot to what you're creating. And well, when you have to take someone else's life, it kind of changes you in a way that no Vulcan mind meld can ever really put back. I've had to kill before sir, so I can state this from first hand experience. I thought that I was strong enough, and disciplined enough to prevent it from really effecting me, but it still does. I guess what I'm saying is, I would hate for that to have to happen to you, if it doesn't need to."
Brent nodded and thought about what Ryan had told him for several moments. Although he couldn't claim to know exactly what Ryan was talking about, a lot of it made sense. Everything he had done over the last month, all the 'unofficial' operations they had preformed, with the modules he had always had his GEAR configured with, he never really actually killed anyone. At best, he had only seriously stunned someone, or damaged someone enough that they would be in the hospital for a few weeks, but no one had ever really died at his hand before. In some ways, Brent could see how that would make things different.
At the same time, something else was nagging at him. Ever since they first learned about the UNIT several days ago, and how incredible of a setup they had, and what the core beliefs of just about every member of UNIT he had met were, they all seemed to focus on a few key points. One of the largest of which, was the idea that leaders lead by example, in a similar manner that Adam lead. The other was that a good leader would never order someone to do something that he himself would not be willing to do. Sure, he didn't have all the military training that the UNIT guys had, and a lot of the military stuff still confused the hell out of him, even with the military knowledge dump that Adam shared with them last night, but these few key concepts made a lot of sense to him. What right did he really have to say that someone deserved to die, if he was not willing to be the one to pull the trigger. How could he sleep at night knowing he ordered someone to kill someone else, if he were not willing to do it himself, even if that other person had killed before, does it make it any more right?
It was about this time that Brent realized that he was focusing an a lot on how Farthing's death would be carried out. Did this mean that he had determined that she needed to die instead of being sent to a work camp, or be rehabilitated, or something? Brent nearly laughed again, as he thought of the idea of rehabilitation. With as much hatred and anger that the woman had, there was not as much of a hint of remorse in her, and definitely nothing to rehabilitate, so that option was out. That left him with work camp or death. With Farthing being over fifty years old, and only having worked in an office type setting, how much real work would she really be able to do? Besides that, something he hadn't thought about yet was closure. If Farthing was just sent off to some work camp somewhere, would that really give her victims the closure they needed or deserved? Finally, what about the kid she drove to suicide. Was that in itself not worthy of a death sentence?
Brent sighed, without realizing it, he had already worked out the fact that there was really only one possible sentence that could logically be given. Although his feelings and emotion, his anger and rage demanded otherwise, the logic and the laws that the Clan, which he was representing in a public trial, pointed to a single option. It was about that time that he realized that Ryan was still looking at him, with his question unanswered. "Thanks Ryan," Brent began, "I think I understand what you're saying, and that says a lot about you for thinking enough about me to make that offer. But, if I'm understanding the whole leadership thing, and setting an example thing correctly, I think this is something I really need to do on my own. I don't know how I could really sleep at night if I told someone else to do it, and I wasn't willing to."
Ryan nodded in understanding, "Not a problem, sir. I just felt that I should at least make the offer."
Brent smiled, "Thanks, now if you will excuse me, I need to go find a Bible."
"I understand," Ryan replied. "You want to pray before you give sentence?"
Brent shook his head, "Nope, I need to look something up."
Heather sat up a bit straighter in her chair as the camera focused in on her and the panelists. "This evening was started with the expectation that we would be in for a show, and I don't think anyone could say that we were disappointed in that regard. However, I don't think any of us could really have guessed some of the testimony that we would have witnessed."
"Panelists?" Heather continued, "As we promised at the beginning, in just a few moments, we will be taking a vote to see if your verdict and judgement will match that of what is actually decided by the judge. However, before we do that, do any of you have any final comments you would like to make, or things you feel your fellow panelists should know and take into consideration?"
No one was surprised when Darren was the first to speak. "Well Heather, I'll tell you one thing. I think it is clear that Franklin Black should loose his Bar certification as a result of his very disappointing behavior tonight. I mean really, walking out in the middle of a trial on a client like that? That is something that no self respecting lawyer would ever do, and I hope no one ever hires him again."
"What they hell are you talking about, man?" Frank asked. "After learning about the type of trash that he was defending? How could any self respecting man not walk out? If anything, I think the guy needs to be given a medal for having the balls to do something like that."
Linda agreed, "And did you see how she tried to claim that God told her to do the things that she has done?"
"I am sorry," Sue Ti jumped in, "But if your God asks you to destroy the lives of children and families, I do not think I want to have anything to do with that God."
"Our God would not," Maria argued. "But just like any other religion, we have our fanatics. Wackos that try to twist the word of God so that it fits their own perverse intents."
"Perverse from who's point of view? Isn't good and evil, right and wrong all relative?" Darren threw back.
"Please boyfriend," Fillies flicked her hand toward Darren, "Now I know you ain't going to try to play that card, are you?"
At this point, Heather jumped back in, "Well, it seems we certainly have a wide range of opinions in a number of different areas. But since we are starting to get short on time, I think it's time to vote. Panelists, on the right arm of each of your chairs, you will find a set of buttons. The buttons are already labeled for you. Press A for not guilty, B for partially guilty with no or minimal punishment, press C for guilty with rehabilitation as a punishment, D for guilty with work colony or prison planet as punishment, or E for guilty with death as a punishment. Go ahead and enter your votes now."
Several moments passed as the various panelists thought about, and then locked in their votes.
Once the last person locked in their vote, Heather continued. "Okay. Now that each of you has cast your vote, let's take a look at the results." On the monitor in front of them, and in the bottom of the screen for those watching on TV, the results appeared. "60% of you selected option E, guilty with death as a punishment. 30% of you selected option D, guilty with a work colony or prison planet as punishment. And finally 10% of you selected.... umm... option A, not guilty. Gee, I wonder which of you might have been the one to pick A?"
One of the men in the panel began to blush bright red.
"Well," Heather continued, "It looks like the court telepaths are making their way back onto the stage, so let's rejoin the trial and see just how close our panel came to being right."
With a sullen look on his face, Brent sat back down in the judges box. "This court is now back in session," he stated as the ceremonial chime sounded again. "After reviewing all of the information from the telepathic scan taken, and further accounting for all given witness testimony, this court has come to a decision."
"Glenda Farthing," Brent began as the lady stood up next to her podium. "Although the telepathic scans and testimony from the witnesses that we have heard this evening would, in themselves, have been enough to more than satisfy any doubt of your guilt, all of that pales in comparison to the sheer amount of transgressions that can be confirmed and verified from your own mind. Therefore, I do not believe it will surprise anyone when I say that, in addition to finding you guilty on all counts of Safe Haven act violations that you have been charged with, it is the opinion of this court that after further reviewing all available information, that several more counts of child abuse, endangerment, and neglect could also, very easily be tacked on."
As Brent gave his speech, Farthing simply stood stone faced and defiant, matching Brent glare for glare.
After pausing for a moment to let his words sink in, Brent continued, "With that in mind, the real question that is placed before this court, is to determine what an appropriate sentence would be for you. Given the wide degree and breadth of your charges, and the sheer number of lives you have effected, there are any number of ways that it might be possible to approach this topic.
"From a purely emotional point of view, I am sure that many people would argue that the best course of action would be to sell you to the person that could guarantee your slowest, and most painful death. Unfortunately, as Family Clan Short is a Vulcan based Clan, and the Federation guarantees that all citizens, even those as low as yourself, will not be tortured as a legal punishment. Then that option must be considered off the table.
"Then, there is the logical point of view. From that perspective, you were directly responsible for the death of a child, by your deliberate and intentional actions to drive that child to suicide. More over, the only regret that you had in the matter is that the child in question did not choose a slower form of death. You also made several other attempts to drive other children to suicide. Combined with the fact that there was not a single transgression that you made in which you felt the slightest degree of remorse or regret for, the only logical course of action would be to sentence you to death.
"However, there is another point of view that must be considered, especially after a comment that you made earlier. That is from a spiritual point of view. Now, on the off chance that you might have been right, one of the things I did during the break was to do a few quick searches in the Bible."
Before Brent continued, he placed a small gold covered Bible on the stand in front of him, such that everyone could see it. "Do you know I ran several full searches in several different online bible versions, and I could not find any translation of the Bible anywhere that stated that God has commanded us to go out and destroy the lives of a Child, or of a Child's Family solely on the grounds that the child might be gay, or 'tainted' by someone who was gay?
"I did, however, run across a rather interesting verse. Perhaps you are familiar with it? It comes from the book of Mathew, chapter 25.
"The people of every nation will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right but the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, my Father has blessed you! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me into your home. I needed clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me'."
Farthing, with searing anger in her voice interrupted Brent's reading, "How dare you! How dare you blaspheme his word! How dare you try to twist his words to fit your own sick perverse desires."
In a calm voice, Brent answered, "I believe that you are talking about yourself. You claim to be following holy orders, yet I do not see you doing so. You do not accept the truth, you see evil everywhere and you have ruined people's lives to back a flawed and erroneous worldview. God demands us to love, not to hate. To protect our children, yes, but to seek truth. 'Be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves,' as Jesus said. You have done neither, and yet you still claim holy orders?"
Completely unaffected by Brent's statement, Glenda nearly shouted, "I will not be told what I am meant to be by a heathen little shit like you, boy! I do what the bible says, and it says God hates gays! Child molesters need to be stopped, and anyone who is gay is a molester of children - they all are! I will be in heaven, standing at my God's side as he tells me 'Well done!' for making these sick bastards pay for their sins against the almighty."
"You think your in charge here?" Farthing continued with conviction. "Well, you're not I tell you. You're dead, all who support 'their' way of life are dead. You can't harm me, boy, for I speak the divine will of God, and he shall protect me from any and all harm you might try to bring to me. In fact, I call upon all of the faithful servants of the almighty that are here paying witness to this blasphemy of a trial to rise up and to strike you and all the other gay and bigot lovers that are here with you."
"Rise up, I say!" Farthing stated again while rising her own arms into the air.
The room was completely silent.
"Superintendent Thompson," Farthing called out as she focused her gaze on an older man that was sitting in the third row on the right side of the room, "Surely, of all people, you can see all the good that I have done protecting the children at your school. Surely, of all people, you can see how this trial most come to an end. Come, stand by me in support of the Almighty’s cause!"
The superintendent for all 250+ Clark County schools was slightly surprised for, not only being recognized, but singled out. After a few moments, the man rose from his chair and spoke in a loud voice. "Permission to approach the bench."
Unsure of how something like this should be handled, he glanced toward T'Livi and Sylok, both of who nodded, answering Brent's unasked question. Finally, Brent nodded, "Given your position as the superior to Farthing's immediate superior, it would be only logical that your request be permitted. You may approach the bench."
The size of the smile on Farthing's face was immense as the man made his way to the center isle and then toward the small ramp to walk up to the table. Surely, the clan would not disregard the wishes of the superintendent of the school board, she thought. Soon she would be vindicated.
Once the man was in front of one of the microphones, he adjusted it slightly. After clearing his throat, he began his impromptu speech. "As... Mrs. Farthing... pointed out, I am Dixon Thompson, Superintendent for the Clark County school system. And, on behalf of the Clark County school system, I would like to thank Clan Short for bringing to light the type of filth and trash that exists in our schools. Please allow me to assure you that racist and narrow minded viewpoints that this former school board employee has expressed in no way reflect the opinions of this school system. "
After waiting a few moments for his words to sink in, the man continued. "Over the course of the last hour, I have been in brief contact with other members of the school board. Although it was our intent to announce this tomorrow, I now feel it is appropriate to announce now. Beginning tomorrow, we will begin a full review of all school board employees in all of the 253 public schools in the Clark County school system, and will be systematically identifying and removing anyone that is found to not reflect the high standards that we expect our employee's to have, starting with Walter Johnson Jr. High School. Further, on behalf of the school board, I would like to request that Clan Short provide any and all assistance they feel appropriate toward this endeavor."
As surprised as he was at Mr. Thompson's proclamation and offer, Brent did his best to remain in character for the trial. "Superintendent Thompson, although your offer is generous and will go a long way in showing that the Clark County school system does not condone or support the viewpoints expressed by individuals such as Mrs. Farthing, I do not believe that the middle of a trial is the logical time or place to make such offers."
"Of course, your honor. You are correct, this is not the right time or place. I apologize," Thompson stated immediately.
"No apologize is needed. I believe the school board already has the Clan's phone number, if you will call that tomorrow, they will know how to get in contact with me, and we can work from there."
"Thank you, your honor," Thompson nodded and turned to walk off the stage.
The shocked look on Farthing's face was priceless. "But... but... I'm still an employee of the school system. I have my rights."
The man turned to look at Farthing and shook his head. "I'm sorry Mrs. Farthing, but you are mistaking. As of thirty minutes ago, your employment had been terminated due to gross breach of contract. Should you somehow walk away from this trial, you will find your termination notice in your mail box." With that, the man walked off the stage, down the center aisle, and out of the room.
"Glenda Farthing," Brent brought everyone's attention back toward him. "I do not believe it is my place to decide your ultimate fate. I believe I shall leave that to whatever higher power exists. Instead, the only logical sentence I can pass is the sentence of death, to be carried out immediately."
Farthing, with her face having paled and her legs slightly shaking with unsteadiness, said nothing.
Brent stepped out from the judges box, and walked across the stage to where one of the UNIT guards, who had been guarding Farthing during the trial, stood. When Brent held out his hand, the guard handed over his phaser rifle.
As Brent took a few steps back, he turned to look toward Farthing, "Glenda Farthing? Do you have any final words before sentence is carried out?"
"I was right... I had to be right," The woman muttered weakly.
With a final nod, Brent raised the phaser rifle, and as JJ had instructed him prior to the trial, made sure all the settings were correct to ensure a clean, single shot disintegration. With everything appearing to be in order, he aimed the rifle toward the woman.
Nearly everyone in the room held their breath for the several moments between the point that Brent aimed the rifle until the point that a yellow beam of energy shot out from it, striking the woman. After a brief flash of light, the woman that had been standing there only moments before, was gone. The only thing left to suggest that someone might have been there was a small pile of dust.
Handing the weapon back to the person he took it from, Brent turned back toward the room. "Court adjourned," Brent stated with a clearly pained expression on his face, before he turned and quietly walked down the back ramp. Those closest to him could see a single tear fall down his cheek, as he could barely hold in the emotions any longer.
I do know one thing, there are going to be several different viewpoints on this chapter.
I won't comment here. There was the rescues, the boys from the police station finding a new home, Steve and his family healing. Will we see more of Lon Cote, Edgar, Edgar's parents (will we find a library in the the new Nevada Division?), his Uncle Doug, and Sidney? What is Herman Kemp's reaction going to be when he is well? This chapter brought several tears to my eyes. And a lot more questions.