"Where are we, Uncle Vamp?" Conner asked, copying Ezra's mode of address in his fright. They were in shadowed darkness that they were moving, or flowing, quickly through. Hints of light, even sunlight, seemed to come from many different places. All diffused. All unreal.
"... can you be more specific?" came the sarcastic response from the now not so scared child.
"Did it stop you being afraid?"
If they could have seen the face Conner was now pulling, all would have laughed. As it were, they all chuckled at the offended silence.
After what seemed like a second and an age at once, Vampire spoke, "I found your heart, my lovely one... and those that did take him. You were taken by darkness, he by evil a day later... now, vengeance's light shall shine, borne by those whose hands know only darkness, and love shall kindle love at the ending of life... Be ready, we..."
It was a bright, sunny day, with a few fluffy clouds overhead. All was peaceful in the Parklands that abutted the Eastern Way, the road that lead into the City from the valleys to the east. Peaceful until that stillness was shattered by heavy shadows 'sucking' out of trees and from under rocks to POP into five vampires and a large silver Sehlat.
"... have arrived," Matthew finished as his eyes muted in color in the sunny light around them.
"Umm, vampires... sunlight?" Conner commented, still in sarcastic mode.
"ARRGH! I'M MELTING! I'M MELTING!" Brant cried out in a high, fake witches' voice as he squirmed around in the bright sunlight. Then he fell over giggling at the sheer outrage showing on Conner's face at being the butt of a joke he didn't know was a joke.
Marcellus brushed at his hands briefly before blinking up at the sun with a deep joy. "After so long..." he whispered, and Winston nodded in agreement. Then the Professor shook himself out of old memories and reached to pat the young Conner on the arm gently. "We are no longer on Earth, child. Only on Earth does the sun burn us. An alien world and atmosphere is of no concern to us... generally."
"Let me guess; on the test too?" Conner groused.
"Only as extra credit." Winston stated with a telling look at Marcellus.
"Lovely one," Matthew whispered into Conner's ear.
"Yeah, Unk?" the boy whispered as he looked back into Vampire's face.
"Life is a test, lovely one. You'll never know it all... just know enough to know you're still learning, and you'll pass with flying colors."
After a serious think and a quiet sniff, Conner pecked a kiss to Matthew's lips. "Thanks," he whispered happily.
Brant picked himself up and grinned at his lover and nephew. "Okay, Squeeky," he said, earning him a glare from Matthew and a giggle from the other three (a quick, dignified one at first from Marcellus before Winston's dig into his younger brother's side made it a full belly laugh), "where are we off to? I'm in the dark... while in the light!"
With another glare (and a thumbs up at Brant from Conner at the AWESOME laugh), Matthew nodded his head toward the city. "In there, pain in the neck... we have to let the local Federation Rep know that five vampires have broken quarantine... technically four of you have. I'm VSO and beyond all rules save our own and Vulcan's... come on, lawbreakers... let's go show ourselves to the humans who think only of myth at our names!"
"Hey, we're all Clan, what do their laws have to do with us?" Brant giggled, knowing the answer, but wanting Matthew to vocalize it for Conner's benefit.
"Protection from the worst of humanity... and the Dark Gift can so easily bring out the worst in humanity... without the light of Sol on Earth's atmosphere even the Elder Council would be unable to bring control to our people, and even with the... limits... imposed by the Lord of Shadows, we would become a terror, the likes of which brought the Old World to ruin... In the Darkness of Earth's night we must remain, and the Federation knows that the only measure able to control those of us who turn to evil will be lost at our leaving our cradle," Conner said after Matthew whispered the answer to him. "More bonus points, Prof?"
"You better hope he listened, it's on HIS test!" Brant giggled. "Give him bonus points for teaching you, Professor!"
"One hundred lines. 'I shall not backchat Professors', single spaced. On my desk before dawn," Marcellus grinned at the impudent Brant.
Laughing between themselves, and with I-Cheya chasing three foot wing-spanned butterflies, they all made their way to the Eastern Way and started trying to fit in with the few people walking in both directions. It was hard to do, not due to their glowing eyes, but because of the scene made by the frolicking Sehlat pup.
It took about a half hour to reach the Federation Embassy building, but far less than Brant expected to be ushered in to see the Ambassador. This shouldn't have been too much of a surprise due to Matthew, or Commander 'Vampire' of the VSO throwing his considerably cute weight about, but what did surprise him was the fact that he was listed on the Federation Data-base as Commander Brant Maddox, Clan Short Fleet and Vulcan High Command! Making notes to give Cory a kiss and a wedgie (in no particular order), Brant followed Matthew (who seemed to know his way around) down the corridor to the ambassador's office.
"Nice... so much better in daylight than at night," Winston murmured. At the look from Brant he explained, "It's a similar design to the Embassies on Earth... I had to get into one to catch dinner one month... pretty, but better in the day."
"Oh," Brant said and let it go at that.
"We're here!" Conner called from his perch on Matthew's hip. "Come on, oldies! We've got someone's day to fu... mess up for them!"
"You tell them, boyo!" Vampire giggled.
With a glare from the two eldest of the oldies, and a wink from Brant, Matthew and Conner went through the door they were by, with I-Cheya fussing and moaning over the bit of butterfly wing caught in his teeth behind them.
"Ah, Matthew! Good to see you again... are those conta... wait. Wait..." the Ambassador started to say cheerfully before he realized that there were five boys and teens before him with glowing yellow eyes. It was only his knowing Matthew and trusting to the lad's VSO training and rank that kept him from activating the emergency beam-out and alarm settings. "Commander Matthew of the Dragon, as a registered envoy of the United Federation of Planets I must demand an answer - why have you five left Earth? You are breaking the 1st Article of the Shadow Proclamation of the UFP!"
"Four," Matthew responded.
"Four of us have broken that article. I am not bound to it due to having been VSO before being turned. Technically none of us have as this is a classified VSO operation and these four are critical to the success of the mission... or would you rather we leave and let the six vampires nesting in this city, with members of the Eldar terrorist group that was involved with yesterday's attack on Earth, to continue to remain here?"
The ambassador blinked, trembled and sat down quickly. "What?" he hissed. "How... how did they even..."
"The Eldar had allies no longer with them that facilitated the spread. This was a testing zone, to be fully activated should Earth have been taken by them. But without their allies they have not activated this project... yet," Matthew explained. "I have only just found out about them and came to this world to rout them out. I will require the Alpha-Squad on standby to receive orders as a containment group. It is we six... the Sehlat included... who will deal with them all."
"That was fun!" Conner giggled as he bounced out of the office ahead of the others. "It's cool to pretend to be monsters at times!"
"In their eyes, we ARE monsters, as they don't understand us." Winston stated factually.
With a classic kid sigh and roll of his eyes, Conner nodded. "Yeah, I know, but you know... I mean to really play it up. To be there, looking all scary and serious and stuff..."
"Old folks just don't get it, do they Conner?" Brant giggled.
"I enjoyed it tremendously," Marcellus said with a grin. "I still feel twelve at times. My old brother, though, was and is a bit of a fart..."
"Thanks..." Winston retorted before giving his brother a wedgie. "Now then," he said, grinning at the hysterically laughing Conner, "shall we find the quarters of this Alpha-Squad? What are they anyway, Matthew?"
"Vampire hunters," Matthew replied seriously as he reached his hand to the nearest shadow and pulled out five suits, one specifically made for a Sehlat to use (obviously made by Levi for there was a nice little note in pink writing on it in Sehlat claw-script for I-Cheya to read and huff happily at.) "They are stationed on every Federation world within one hundred light years of Earth as a net to catch any stray blood-suckers. In their power armor, Vulcan designed with a neural suppression field that extends for about 10 feet per suit that stops most of our gifts, and weaponry based on the weakness we have to our sunlight in Earth atmosphere, they can capture anyone breaking the Shadow Proclamation. It's not often they need to kill... that's left for the Elder Council on Earth. It's why I'm having them as containment not attack... if they go in with us we won't be able to use our abilities, and we might need them."
"Now I'm scared... POWER ARMOR?!" Winston breathed.
"Makes them strong enough, fast enough and resilient enough to more or less match us," Matthew continued. "It's not QUITE at our level, but with the rest, and the disorientation of the field it generates, they haven't lost anyone yet. Just be happy they are not allowed to be active on Earth outside of Embassies, Starfleet buildings and Federal structures... that was the agreement reached with the Elder Council."
"You know, we need to grab some of that for the Clan teams." Brant said thoughtfully. "Adapted, of course... not anti-Vampire but just general..."
Conner was, now, stomping his way down the corridor, making buzz-phussh noises that he imagined the suits made.
"Kids," Matthew grinned at Brant.
His lover nodded, "Cute... I'd adopt him, if I didn't know something Ezzy said."
'Really? he has a family?' Matthew sent.
Brant nodded, 'Tell you after. Come on, he's going to get lost if you don't lead us!'
After a smile at the rest, Matthew ran after Conner, still buzz-phusshing his way along the long corridor and picked him up. If he wasn't able to adopt this kid, Matthew thought, then he wanted some more cuddle time in.
Conner just enjoyed the attention, unaware of the rest.
"Are you seriously going to tell me we're taking orders from five vampires?!" Private Mercy grated. "Look, I have no personal problem with them, if they do what they agreed and help us the way they do, but for God's sake, Sarg..."
"No more, Mercy. That is an ORDER. We are taking orders from a VSO Commander, and vampire or not, if he gets it into his head that we'd be logically better off scrubbing the middens for the next galactic cycle, we'd end up doing it. One of the others is a Commander in the VHC! You WILL show proper respect and you WILL follow orders. Am. I. Crystal. Fucking. Clear. Soldier?!"
"Yes Sergeant!" the private shouted, snapping to attention.
It was at this moment the doors opened to let in a furry faced I-Cheya, with a handsome fifteen year old vampire teen on his back, being followed by four cuties that made the mothering instinct kick in with Private Mercy. 'Cute! Why did they have to be cute! Ah well... damnit, training says one thing and now... damnit... cute... too cute!'
Both Matthew and Marcellus exchanged a glance before giggling silently at what their abilities had instantly picked up. 'You're cute!'
'No, you're cuter, Old One!'
"Behave, children," Brant sighed as he poked both of them.
"Is Prof being naughty again?" asked the hyper excited Conner before his attention shifted to the soldiers. "Can I see your armor? Can I see inside? How's it work? Does it go buzz-phufft when it goes? Can I...?"
"And the Federation are scared of these five being off world? For all that is holy..." laughed another of the privates from the back. "Sarge! If it's okay, can I show the imp the suits? I'll keep the field off..."
"If Commander Parnell allows it, certainly," the Sergeant replied before moving to greet the VSO clad boy. Conner received a silent 'yes' from both Matthew and Marcellus before speeding over as only a Vampire can to pounce gently into the private's arms. "Can I drive it? what super-powers do it have? Can you... Can I... will it..." trailed off as the laughing man carried the boy into the bay area of the barracks. "OH MY FUCKING HELL!" was next heard, followed immediately by a very quick, "SORRY PROFESSOR... BUT YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS!"
"I'm sorry, Sergeant," Brant grinned as Marcellus was heard mumbling about foul mouthed vampires these days. "Can we chat about the mission in a moment? I don't know about the others, but I'm curious about these suits too..."
"Same," said the two eldest unliving boys.
"Never actually seen one up close and personal, even before I became as I am," Matthew added.
"This way, then," the smiling Sergeant grinned.
When they got to where Conner was, sitting on the shoulder of the private who was already in the suit, they all made similar expletives. Each suit was ten feet tall. The hands of the suits were manipulated by an internal mechanism in the 'lower arm' when the soldiers were inside them. The feet of the suit extended down two feet from where the soldier's feet would be, inside the lowest part of the 'shin' of the suit. A helm covered the face, and no part of the man's body could be seen. It whirred and hissed as the man moved about. All of it was sleek and beautiful... and very deadly looking.
"Fuck me sideways," Brant breathed.
"After," Matthew grinned.
"Do you have small ones for me to use?" Conner bounced on the shoulder. "This would be AWESOME!" he yelled out, rattling the walls as he forgot to control his voice enough. "Oops, sorry!" he giggled as the Sergeant wiggled his fingers in his ears.
"Yeah, we do," the Sergeant said, once he could hear his own voice again. "For some of the others in the squad from worlds where they are about your size. We could easily outfit each of you, if you think you'd need it. As for the suppression field, that part could be removed, thus allowing you to use your... abilities more freely."
Marcellus shook his head slowly, "They would slow us down. But thanks for the offer."
"Sir," the private in the suit of power armor said, his voice slightly robotic from inside the helm. "Sir, these suits amplify our strength and speed... it's only limit is our own, within reason... I believe they would amplify your own, within limits. The speed, maybe not as much, but if one of you, the strongest, were to use this, you'd be a force to reckon with against this nest of vamps..."
Marcellus looked at his brother and seemed to ask something, to which Winston simply said, "Me, the boy and Brant... You have skills that this suit would hinder..."
"And I don't need it," Matthew said softly.
They all looked at him, and only Winston and Marcellus seemed to understand. "What do you mean, love? You're strong, but you're only a few days old. Even Conner would be more resilient than you," Brant said.
A small, almost sad smile played over Matthew's lips. "Sergeant, turn on a suppression field, please."
Conner left from his perch and ducked behind Winston, who was backing up himself. "Will this hurt?" the Professor asked hesitantly as the Sergeant looked a little out of place.
"Yes and no. You won't like it, but you'll be unharmed. Think of a head-cold and not being able to get your balance. But we'll all need to know, just in case we 'bump' into a bubble when these guys are caging in the building," the Commander said seriously. "Also, we need to fully explain how this is so devastating to our abilities... bar a few of us," he added, looking down at Connor specifically.
"Wha... me? I can... umm..." the boy trembled.
With a nod from his superior, the private in the suit said quietly, "Activating in three, two..."
"Get ready," the Sergeant said.
"Urggh..." Brant doubled over, groaning. He wasn't alone, for Marcellus and Winston also did the same. Conner weaved about as if drunk.
Matthew stood there, wincing and blinking but otherwise unmoved. "Turn it off, please," he asked.
The field fell.
"That was... unpleasant," Winston grated as he pulled himself and his brother to their feet.
"You're sleeping with the entire Tribe... AFTER I feed them three cases of pixie styx!" Brant grumbled.
Giggling and rubbing his head, Conner managed, "Is this while you're regrowing your winkie after Uncle Scary-Pants bites it off?"
"You, squirt, are sentenced to a year in Timmy's bedroom!" Brant shot back.
With a shake of his head, Matthew ignored all this (but inwardly pitying Conner), and explained, "The field is an adaption of a neural suppresser. Most Dark Gifts are psionic based: you know, telepathy, empathy, telekinesis. In one form or another, no matter how specialized, our gifts tend to fall there... bar a few. Going through solid objects or teleporting yourself isn't something to do with mind powers. Nor is bending shadows to your will or ripping a person's soul to shreds before getting nasty with them. If Conner had braced himself he'd have been able to function more like me, then. Brant, you too... have you told them yet? Do you even know it, yet, sweetie? What he gave you?"
Marcellus, in the dark, looked deeply at Brant. "There's something there, but I can't quite grab at it... you're a, what was your term? Oh, a Jello-Maker... but..."
"Shall we tell them, or would it be too much for them to know?" Matthew asked his lover seriously.
Brant shrugged, "The World of Darkness will learn of it soon enough, once Victus decides to introduce himself to the Council."
"Point," came the giggle from Vampire. He turned to the others, "Victus Moroi, the second to be turned, the brother to Vedius Moroi, the first of us and the first leader... he is the Lord of Shadows... it was his voice all Vampires heard yesterday at the Battle of Earth. It was he that turned the sky to amber to allow all vampires in the UK to walk in the daylight... and it was he that passed on what he had contained from our race through all the ages since the great falling... to Brant. Sweetheart," Matthew continued as he looked back at his lover, "you're like me. I sensed it when you turned me, but didn't recognize it as anything other than you being a vampire. How would I know you were like me until I'd met or come close to all others on Earth? You're a Jello-Maker. That's your first natural gift... your other NATURAL one is the one gifted with the Core. You're a Wraith too! If you want to use it, that is. You'll have to let that part out... I'd recommend you don't... you don't like killing... but you might be able to let out Shadow-Bending and Walking and the like..."
Ignoring the conversation, namely because he was pondering what Slider had told him about Timmy's room, Conner finally came to a decision as to his response. He pounced Brant, going THROUGH Matthew in the process. "Really! You're REALLY gonna let me visit Timmy's room! he asked as he tackled Brant.
"Gonna shave that pooch... would kill him, but I love his best friend, and wouldn't want to irritate my fav Kyle," Matthew groused as he brushed at his front, from which Conner's head had been the first to exit. "Good job that I love you, imp," he muttered as he shook himself and wrapped more shadows around him. "There... shielded from impish attacks..." he added with a raspberry.
Marcellus was still working his way through the recent revelation. "The Lord of Shadows... that would make Brant the new Lord of Shadows? In a case of power? Being Father of the Darkness, I mean? Oh my..."
"I'm not calling you Daddy." Winston stated seriously.
While hugging Conner, Brant looked at Matthew, "Let's get ourselves prepped, bro. You were explaining the power armor?"
"Yes... yes I was. We'll chat about the rest later, if you all want. In short, the suppression field stops most of our powers, and for those whose powers are not suppressible, another aspect of the field is to disrupt slightly the parasite that makes us what we are. Which is something all of us, even Brant for now, is susceptible to. And on top of that, their weapons will make us feel like we're on a sunquest. It's bad, so no playing with their guns, guys. But we'll be fine to use this armor... you will, anyway. I'll literally stick to the shadows and do my thing. Now, Sergeant... can you give us a crash course? We're Vamps, so we'll pick it up real quick..."
Evening was falling when the emptying streets became suddenly busier as thirty three Starfleet Marines in Power Armor flowed down them, going in multiple directions, to all converge on a building towards the northern sector of the city. Thirty of them formed a ring around the outside, staying just over ten feet from the walls, while three of them, two being smaller than the rest, moved closer. A small figure was seen flitting between all the suits quickly, in company with a large, silvery creature that was hard to make out, even with its color and size. Also, what drove people from the streets even quicker, was the dread that the shadows were giving off as they moved and jumped until one 'mass' of them vanished into the doors of the building ahead of the creature, the flitting something and the three power armored people.
'Upstairs... our six brethren are upstairs,' the shadows sent to the other four vampires. 'Seventeen human adults on this floor and three below... with a larger group... oh no... they have prisoners... lots of them. Professor, move to the only stairs leading down. I will take out the three below and come up. The rest, raise hell...'
"TRANSFORMERS... ROLL-OUT!" a young voice screamed as they started moving in.
The Sergeant outside with his twenty four squadmates, listened as shouts and screams started from inside, as well as flashes of some form of fire from upstairs spurted out of the windows at them. The flames vanished against the suppression field activated and overlapped from all their suits as they ringed the building. Twenty five out of thirty suits. The remaining five moved by remote control towards the front door and stood in line... waiting.
Inside, the first of the six criminal vampires was at the foot of the stairs yelling orders, and behind him came the other five. The humans on this floor, as well as the three downstairs, were now either unconscious, dead or wishing to be either. The six red-eyed monsters glared at the three power armored forms before them, especially at the smaller of them all, standing no more than three feet away from them. "You're vampires! Why are you doing this?"
"Justice," Conner squeaked fearfully from out of his helm as he started to back up. He had obviously realized he was too close. Brant and Winston had also noticed and were jumping closer to help when the six criminals moved. Two to engage Winston and Brant, knowing that there would be no suppression fields there to hinder their Gifts of enhanced strength to match the power armor. The remaining four latched onto Conner's suit and started to tear it and the boy apart - Conner's screams were loud and long...
... and continued from the small patch of shadow inside of the helm once the suit had been torn to shreds.
"What the fu..." was all one of the four attackers could manage before one of the five suits that had been outside burst into the building, ran at him and tore his head from his body.
"Surprise!" Conner giggled as he ported out to get another suit, and another, and another, until all five spares were insides. Then, he popped between them at will, not letting the enemies know where he was until a sucker punch would land.
The remaining five vampires, however, were over a hundred years old each, and no easy prey. They kept our three heroes busy... or was it that our heroes kept them busy while a flickering being around the room read everything he needed from their minds... then...
"Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?"
Everyone became as still as stone. The five perps were now in a mass, all facing out, and all trembling as deep abiding fear lanced at them and through them.
"Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away..."
They started screaming as, together, they saw five images of Matthew rise up out of the now heavily darkened room. "Fear and dread shall fall upon them..." each intoned together as more and more shadows built. Each of the five were scanned, each had their histories and choices judged by a stolen gift of Reading... and then, "Vengeance is mine... I WILL REPAY!"
The shadow-forms of Matthew each jumped and grabbed a vampire while the real Matthew appeared out of the darkness and took hold of one at a time, and drained them dry. His shadow-cloak with its six faces suddenly found five more added.
"I am Death... the destroyer of worlds," he finished as he dumped the last husk to the ground. "I-Cheya can munch on them after... he is comforting the children downstairs and healing them... except for a few. I need your help, guys... we can't get them to Earth fast enough... and I see that they are to be our kin also... but I cannot turn five at a go... one each."
He looked at young Conner, who had popped out of his suit and was looking at him fearfully, "Your love, your Jerome, is one of them... come fast, little one..."
As they all vanished in shadow, Brant quipped "It's good to be King!"
Jerome was wrapped in shadow and wasn't breathing, but Conner could see what he had gone through and that his life was going to be over once the shadows left. He was breaking his heart. He half watched as Brant, Winston and Matthew turned three of the four remaining children and cradled them as Brant added a drop of his own blood to the one Winston turned. "It'll quicken her transformation," he said to Marcellus. "The girl I turned will be up in five minutes, this one in another ten."
"What about the boy with Matthew... never mind, of course. Your blood is in him. You're his sire," the Professor smiled before looking down at the boy before him. "You will be a brother to Connor and his younger brother, child... my second childe..." he whispered as he ripped at his wrist and poured his blood into the boy's mouth while simultaneously sinking his fangs into the child's neck.
One done, Brant did the same to the boy as to Winston's new Childe.
"What do I do? Should I?" Conner trembled as he brushed his hands at the blood tears pooling from his eyes. "Should I, Professor? Will Jer forgive me for doing it to him? Will he want this, or better to go be with God... what do I do?" he cried.
"Childe... follow your heart," the twelve year old, two hundred year old vampire said softly, love in his eyes. "I did."
Sniffing, and unsure of himself yet also mentally shouting at himself that if a day old Matthew could do it, he could for the boy he loved, Conner moved to Jer's neck.
"Wait, little one," Matthew said quietly.
Conner glanced at him, unsure.
"I would give thee a gift of the power that is in me. You will not gain the many gifts I have, just the strength of my blood to join with that of your sire's... I... I feel that for my love to add a drop of his blood after would pull back from what you would want to be to your own love. If you take my blood into thee, and thine returned, then the strength to quicken Jerome's rising shall be all thine... I make this as a suggestion, but I order you to make your own choice, not to just take what I say as an order of an elder," Matthew said, a parental love clear in his eyes.
Conner knew then that, if things were different, Matthew would have taken him as his son in that moment. He looked long at the Professor, his sire, but no movement or hint at a suggestion came from him. Nor from Brant or Winston.
This was all on him, this choice.
All his alone.
Moving away from Jerome, Conner moved to Matthew. Rather than offer his wrist and take the older boys' own, he cuddled into Matthew's chest and shimmied up so that he could bite the boy's neck and have his own bitten in return.
Thus did they form a rushing circle of vampiric blood between them, and when Conner was set back to his feet, his eyes were almost black-red in color, as was Matthews. "I love you, Uncle. Thank you," he said as the history of Matthew's pain and gained strength melded itself into his memories, as did his own in Matthew's.
He then turned back, ripped his wrist and did for Jerome what he had seen the other four do for the newborn fledglings.
After fifteen minutes had passed, the ten vampires sat there talking and explaining. Well, eight were. Two were blushing shyly at each other, holding hands, mind talking and listening.
"Tracie, Mauretta, Joel and Clark," the Professor said seriously. "Above all, you need to know that sunlight is our greatest foe..."
Mind to mind, Matthew sent to Brant, 'Sooo... we have a cat-boy, a human girl, a vampire girl and her two vampire brothers... now what? You wanting to extend the family? I think Joel will LOVE another Joel in the Compound!'
Winston was cuddling the two girl vampires there tightly.
'Well, I know who gets the girls!' Brant giggled silently. 'And I think Clark is latching onto his sire,' he added as Clark was holding the professor's hand tightly... and sucking his thumb as any four year old in a strange situation would. Brant reached out and ran a finger over Joel's ear, bringing the boy's attention to himself. The happy grin he had from the seven year old confirmed it. 'Your childe Joel and his uncle Joel are going to cause nightmares!'
Matthew simply grinned.
After another fifteen minutes of talking, questions, and shy kisses from the corner where Conner had pulled Jerome off to, I-Cheya poked his fuzzy face around the door from the other room, where a LOT of noise was coming from. [Fifty six boys and girls... all want food... I no girl-Sehlat. I no make milk. Get them home, Brant-boy!]
[Gator place... they want Gator place... tell Ollie-boy the ones he 'died' with there too... NOW, Brant-boy! Cubs HUNGRY!]
Outside the building, the streets were empty. Once the fighting had stopped, as well as the screaming, the Alpha-Squad had been signaled by Brant to go back to their barracks. Their nice shiny suits had been removed and stowed, and the ones the others had used inside the building had been returned to be fixed up... except for the first one destroyed with the Conner-tactic. That was binned.
They were not, therefore, expecting sixty six children and teens to simply waft in with the shadows and demand nibbles. Prepared for most things, but that... well, fifty six were demanding nibbles. They were just glad that the five vampires who had fought had had their fill, and the newly turned five child-vampires were only JUST turned so not hungry yet!
I-Cheya plodded in... eating another butterfly.
"Where's the pet butterfly you promised me?" Conner playfully asked the munching Sehlot.
[Was hungry. Ate it] came the response, with a Sehlat sized raspberry.
"Meanie!" Conner giggled back.
I-Cheya looked at him, nodded, then pulled another butterfly from God-knows-where and ate that too.
Shaking his head, Brant turned to Matthew. "You know, with this many hungry kids, there's only one thing to do."
"'Cheya road trip?" Matthew asked with a nod.
"Yep!" Brant replied. "Cheya, we need Mom!"
[Munchie run for fang-boys new pups!] I-Cheya huffed before vanishing in a shower of sparkles.
Robert and Joanne smiled as they watched the boys interacting with the crew of the ship. Even Daren had relaxed, joking and playing as long as either Kalen or Leon were near him. Since both never ventured far from his side, he was actually enjoying the party.
Emmy's voice interrupted the party over the speakers. "Daren, Robert, Kalen, Beau, Jamie and Jacob? Can you guys meet Cory out in the passageway?"
Beau was nearest to Robert, and growled, "It's time to take out the trash. Let's go."
Robert's eyebrows rose at the ice he heard in Beau's voice. He didn't get a chance to reflect on it, as his hand was taken by Kalen and he was pulled to the hatch.
They exited the wardroom, to find Cory, Tracy, JJ and Adam standing there, all dressed in formal black robes with blank expressions on their faces. Jamie looked up at the ceiling, ordering, "Emrys, formal robes and engage trial logging."
"Logging enabled, Sir." Emrys' voice replied in a flat tone as robes appeared for the boys. Robert received a set of robes as well, with a symbol he's never seen before on the breast.
"What's this?" Robert asked as he fingered the insignia, which consisted of the scales of justice, only with an alligator as the scale. In the background appeared the Clan crest.
"Clan Judicial Review Corps. You're heading it now." Tracy stated.
"Okay, just what does that mean?" Robert asked
"Get with Jim Hundser in Hawaii," Cory explained, "he runs the Youth Services version of your job. Take your base from there, and make changes as you think you need to."
"If you ain't sure about something, ask Emmy; he's tied into the commbadge that looks like a logo on your robe." JJ added. "You make the rules now; use your experience to straighten this crap out so Daren doesn't happen again."
"You? JJ? Talking about rules?" the final member of the trial team stated as him and Ezra appeared in the passageway. "Kokomo is still recovering from your last visit!"
Robert felt Kalen and Daren cuddle into his side at the sight of the new boy. Dressed in a black skin-suit, with obvious weapon pockets, a hooded cloak, and a black facemask, the new arrival was intimidating. The only thing you could see that wasn't covered was his eyes and lips. "Dad?" Kalen asked in a frightened tone.
"It's okay, Kalen. This is Colin, from Des Moines." Cory explained. "He's here to deliver our judgement once we decide it."
"I'm Special Operations." Colin added. "During the trial, please refer to me as 'Nightmare'; trust me, I'll be causing plenty of them if the intel I got is accurate."
"You're doing a good job already," Robert muttered.
Colin locked eyes with Robert for a second, then turned his attention to Daren. "Daren, you and I need to mind-talk before this starts. I'm not gonna let you turn into me."
"Shit!" JJ exclaimed as he realized what wasn't said. "Nice time to tell us, Colin. Daren, take him up on it, I'm pretty sure none of us want the details."
"Dad?" Daren whispered.
"He's Clan, or he wouldn't be here." Robert replied softly. "It's your choice, but I doubt he'll hurt you."
Unsure, Daren glanced around. When he saw Jamie and Jacob nod, he relaxed a little and answered, "Okay, I guess."
Colin dropped his hood and removed his mask. "You're not alone, little brother," he whispered as he dropped down to be at Daren's level. "I'll explain in your head. Just think back, I'l hear your answers and questions."
Daren nodded hesitantly, still not totally sure.
'Can you hear me?' Colin asked mentally.
'Uhh, yeah....' Daren thought back.
'I understand, dude.' Colin responded. 'I'm scared too, because you're going to be the first person I've shared any of my past with. Even the triple threat don't know my past; I don't think they can handle it.'
'Why me?' Daren asked curiously.
'Let me tell you before I chicken out; I think you'll understand.' Colin replied. 'I used to have a big brother. He was very protective of me, just before I got sold, I found out just how protective. I was beat by both of my parents a lot; I've still got the scars to prove it. What I wasn't aware of was the fact that he used to intervene and take beatings for me, telling them that he did whatever they thought was done wrong instead of letting me be punished for it. One day, they had some guy visiting them. Jared and I were in the kitchen, getting drinks for the adults, and I dropped a glass. They came running in, and Jared said, "I'm sorry! I dropped it, Colin's just helping me clean up!" Even though they had a guest, my father started punching Jared, making him fall and hit his head on the counter. The visitor came in when I screamed, said "here's your money" as he hit our father over the head with a suitcase, then ordered something into a radio. The next thing I knew, Jared and I were laying somewhere that looked like a hospital. They rushed Jared out of the room, and I never saw him again. I got put through some genetic modifications that made me stronger, but I never found out what happened to him. All I can assume is he died to protect me. I hunted down my parents, and made them pay for the loss of my brother very painfully. Both of them have been sent to their final judgement.'
Daren thought about the feelings and images that Colin was sharing as they talked. He knew that he should be horrified at them, yet they resembled what he'd been through so closely that it was like watching his own life from outside. In a moment of clarity, he realized why Colin was sharing this. The anger and hurt Colin had felt is what made him so efficient as a Special Ops agent; but they still were eating him up inside. Daren understood now; Colin wanted to make sure Daren saw what happened to him by not letting his feelings out. 'You mean if I try to protect my new family by not sharing, I could go crazy?' Daren asked.
'I guess you could put it that way,' Colin replied. 'The jury's still out on me being crazy, but I sure ain't normal. I'm afraid to feel; if I do, I don't know what will happen.'
'Colin Busch, at the completion of this operation you are to report to the Ark compound by order of Kyle.' three voices said in unison in Daren's head, which made it so Colin could hear them.
'Where are you hiding, Prince?' Colin sent in surprise.
'You ain't the only one with blocks, Colin.' Jamie's voice replied. 'We're on watch in Daren's head to make sure he don't have your reaction. Now that you at least opened up to someone, we can help your stubborn butt. You just showed us that Daren ain't alone; now get it through your thick head that you ain't either.'
'Do you guys hear everything I'm thinking?' Daren asked with concern.
'Not unless you push it at us.' Beau explained. 'Anything super-mental we're watching right now, since we don't know if your egg-donor knew any tricks. That means Colin triggered us listening when he started talking to you.'
'Okay, you're just protecting me, I guess.' Daren replied with a mental sigh.
'Yes they are, and they're the best person you can have watching out for you, even if they did snoop on purpose to find out what I was telling you.' Colin assured Daren.
'Why does everyone want to care about me?' Daren asked, even his thoughts whispering.
'My new Dad says it's because he believes in me.' Colin replied softly. 'I can't say I understand it, but there's something about knowing you have people that care that makes every day a little better. I still wake up scared every day, but it's starting to be less scared, and I realize I'm safe a lot sooner. Let everyone help you, and your defenses will start to back off enough that you can learn love. Trust me, it's not easy, but every little bit makes the day better.'
Without really realizing what he was doing, Daren fell forward against Colin's chest, silent tears beginning to run from his eyes. As Colin wrapped his arms around his frail new friend, he dropped his shields for a split second, knowing that Jamie, Jacob, and Beau would be watching.
"Oh shit!" all three telepaths muttered as one. Noticing the looks from Cory and Tracy, Jacob explained. "Nightmare's just swore a blood oath to protect Daren."
Cory, Tracy, JJ, and Adam all looked up at the ceiling, saying in unison, "God help us!"
"He says you're on your own with this one!" Mikey's disembodied voice giggled from the ceiling.
"Thanks a LOT, bro!" Cory exclaimed sarcastically. Seeing the confused looks on Robert and Kalen's faces, he added "Dead Saint brothers are a pain in the butt!"
"We'll explain later!" Adam giggled as they became even more confused. Noticing that Colin had picked up Daren and was now effortlessly holding him as if he was Timmy's size, Adam added "Ezra, Cell block Charlie, please."
"Yes, Sir," Ezra replied.
The group vanished, only to re-appear in a room with only one door. Cam was waiting for them, standing by the locked door.
"Where are we? Robert asked, looking around the bare room.
"One of three holding cells in the Alligator Alley compound." Cam replied. "Hi new guys, I'm Tracy's brother Cam. Refreshments will be served in the Rec Room upstairs after the festivities!"
"I don't think a celebration would be appropriate." Robert commented with a scowl.
Cam looked Robert in the eyes. "You don't know what we've already found. Mattering on what Prince finds, this can become a very quick trial. Any time justice is done, even if it is setting someone free who is innocent, it is a reason to celebrate. I'm pretty confident Mrs. Michaels won't be joining this one, though. That's not my decision, that will be whoever is going to judge."
"Cool down the nanotronics, Cam!" Colin sniggered. "Robert, you're about to see Clan Justice in action. Open your mind, and you'll understand by the time we're done."
"Fair enough," Robert replied with a nod. "Is their a courtroom in here?"
"We don't use one," Cory explained. "After SOMEONE decided to play hero, we learned that having obstacles in the trial can be a danger."
"JEEZE!" Beau moaned. "I lose my temper ONE time, and y'all won't let me live it down!"
"Join the club!" JJ giggled as he put an arm over Beau's shoulder.
"Okay," Cory grinned, "let's hit it. Colin, Prince is primary on extraction, you've got shield on the boys. If there's danger, you're authorized to shut her down however you deem appropriate."
"Gladly!" Colin replied with an icy tone.
Robert felt a chill run down his spine at the tone in Colin's voice, and he was suddenly glad Colin was on his side.
Cam opened the door behind him, and led the group through the door. Once all of them were in, Cam ordered "Emrys, relocate the prisoner for trial."
The next few seconds would haunt most of the room's occupants for the rest of their lives. Everyone but Cam, Jamie, Jacob, Beau, and Colin was hit with the urge to release her from her force-chair. The telepaths picked it up, and immediately blocked the urge. Next she tried a focused attack on Robert, willing him to attack the boys surrounding him. Colin picked up on it first, but not before Robert's brain put up its own fight.
Colin's eyes turned black as he growled and sent a focused attack down the very wavelength she was using. The room echoed with her scream as Colin's retribution burned out the synapses in her brain used for the weak telepathy she had. "Drain this bitch!" Colin ordered.
"On it!" all three telepaths exclaimed at once.
Colin marched over, still holding Daren, and used his free hand to grab the woman's neck. "You try anything else, bitch, and your sentence is gonna be delivered to your corpse. You understand me?"
Fighting to breath through the vise-like grip on her neck, the woman barely was able to nod her head.
"Good." Colin growled. He spun around, and looked Cory in the eyes. "The execution of the sentence is mine." he stated flatly.
"I already planned on it," Cory replied with a nod. "You haven't hid as much from General Adam as you think you have; I called him and he specifically requested you for this detail."
"Nice. He better practice running." Colin stated sincerely before carrying Daren back to the rear of the room.
"I don't know if I should warn Adam or tell Daileass I want copies of the recording," Cory muttered.
"If in doubt, always go for the pictures," Tracy snickered.
"You, little brother, are evil!" Cory replied with a grin. "It's time to get to work, you ready to back me up?"
"Don't you trust me to do it?" Tracy asked seriously.
"I don't want you to suffer more than you are already, little brother." Cory replied as he pulled Tracy into a one-armed hug. "Slow down some, one of us with a screwed up head is enough."
"Jeeze - you're a big brother for less than a day, and you're already goin' all protective and stuff?" Tracy snickered.
"Yep, now pay attention." Cory replied with a grin.
Unaware that Cory had staged the conversation just to relax him, Tracy turned with Cory to view the accused. All traces of emotion left Cory's voice as he began. "Loraine Beatrice Michaels, you have been brought before this Court for abuse of your biological child, Daren. The testimony of the injured party states this occurred in the State of California of the United States on Terra. Based on your actions upon entering this Court, your testimony has been retrieved by Vulcan Certified telepaths."
"What makes you think you have any jurisdiction, brat?" Loraine spat. "I want my lawyer."
Before Cory could respond, Tracy piped in. "I'm sorry, but your lawyer is unavailable. He's in a holding cell on Terra Main pending Federation charges coming to trial."
"This trial is being held on authority of Article 200, Section 200.4(a) of the Federation Safe Haven Act." Cory stated. "Due to the nature of the accusations, Clan Short has claimed sole jurisdiction as supported under Interplanetary Federation law."
Tracy turned his head, "Judge Robert? Do you wish to view the evidence that she will be tried on?"
Robert nodded, surprised at the seriousness of the two boys. "Please."
Tracy glanced at Jamie and Jacob, who nodded that they'd heard the instructions. Cory nodded that he'd heard as well, and continued.
"Telepaths, deliver your testimony to the designated parties."
Seconds later, Cory, Tracy, Colin, and Robert knew more about Loraine than she consciously knew herself. Unconsciously, Robert exclaimed "Holy Mother of God!" as his mind processed the evidence.
Cory and Tracy kept quiet, as they were busy in a three-way mental conference being hosted by Kyle. The sheer magnitude of the violations they were reviewing would have caused even Cory to call in help if he was alone; with Tracy assisting, the evidence was split between them and became manageable. Still, it took a full five minutes before either of them spoke.
"A decision has been reached." Cory stated, causing most of the rest of the room to jump. "Loraine Michaels, you have been reviewed by a Vulcan court under the provisions of the Federation Safe Haven Act. By unanimous decision of three officers of Clan Short, you have been found guilty of violating the Federation Safe haven Act as I am preparing to detail. After review as determined by Articles 67 and 68 inclusive, it has been determined that you have committed a combined nine hundred and forty seven violations of Article Eleven of the Safe Haven Act based on the requirements of Sections 11.3 and 11.4 inclusive. You have violated Sections 11.1, 11.2, 11.5, 11.6, and 11.7 repeatedly and habitually. We also find you guilty of one thousand, nine hundred and thirty two violations of Article 12, Sections 12.1(d) and 12.4 inclusive; Article Fourteen Section 14.2; Article Seventeen Sections 17.4 and 17.21; Article Twenty-One, Section 21.4(a). In addition, it has been determined that you are directly responsible for ordering one hundred and fourteen actionable violations of Article 81. By order of the Federation Prosecutor General, based on evidence found during this trial, the jurisdiction for the trial for the death of your husband Damon Michaels has been ceded to Clan Short. You are hereby found guilty of first degree murder of Damon Charles Michaels on July Fifth, 1994, Terran Standard Calendar. Due to your willing and habitual participation in these acts, this Court sentences you to death, sentence to be carried out by an agent of Federation Security Special Operations."
Tracy turned around. "Commander Nightmare, this Court releases the defendant into your custody for immediate termination."
"Custody accepted, Sir." Colin replied quickly, saluting Tracy. "I will require Daren and Kalen to be present to witness the termination."
"Accepted." Tracy stated with a nod. "Emrys, transport all other trial personnel to Alligator Alley Rec Room. End recording."
"Okie dokie, Uncle Tracy!" Emmy replied as the group vanished from the room.
Now that the room was cleared of non-essential personnel, Colin dropped his hood and pulled off his face mask. "You're both going to sit down with the nearest Vulcan after this, okay?"
Kalen and Daren both nodded, unsure of what was about to happen. "What are you going to do?" Kalen asked.
Colin looked the two boys in the eyes. "A lot less than I would have if you two were not here. For you, I will keep this to Justice."
As Colin was about to continue, Ezzy popped back in with an eight-year-old strawberry blond at his side. "Hey there Daydream! Mind if we crash the party? Jason's got the munchies!"
"I'll give you daydream, Rainbow Brat." Colin growled playfully. "Whats with the new guy?"
"You can take off your shirt, Jason; they'll understand." Ezra said in way of an answer.
Jason nodded as he turned around and slowly lifted his shirt. Instead of a smooth eight-year-old back, the rest of the room saw a scar-covered mess, almost every inch covered with spot burn scars.
"Who did that to you?" Kalen asked in shock.
"My parents thought I was bad a lot, so they'd put out their cigarettes on me." Jason replied softly.
"You want me to tell them?" Ezra asked with concern.
Ezra nodded. "He was repeatedly burned by his parents, who became lunch for his sire. The sire had his own uses for Jason; fortunately those never left permanent physical scars. Marcellus ran across Jason's sire one day, and took exception to how Jason was being used. Jason's sire went on an involuntary sun quest, and Jason's been learning how to live his new life after death."
Kalen walked over to Jason and wordlessly wrapped his arms around him. After a few seconds, Jason returned the hug, softly sobbing into Kalen's chest. After a minute of indecision, Daren joined the hug, covering Jason's back with his chest.
Colin glanced at the reason they were there, only to see she was absolutely motionless. Ezzy giggled, "Time freeze, Uncle Colin. Jason needed to meet his new parents."
"I wish," Kalen whispered.
"Wish granted." Ezzy stated with a smile. "I'll make sure Emmy has your apartment ready."
"But I'm dead, nobody wants a stupid halflife," Jason's small voice said from somewhere between Kalen and Daren.
"You feel plenty alive to me; in fact you cuddle almost as good as Daren!" Kalen stated supportively. "Mr. Spock was telling us how we could have our own families if we really felt like someone would fit. I think you'd be a great son."
"Besides," Daren said softly, "Colin just showed me that you need others who really understand what you've been through to start figuring out how to get over it."
"What do you..." Jason started to ask, before somehow spinning around between his new parents. "She WHAT?" Jason growled, the innocence replaced with anger in his voice.
"Time freeze off, start taking notes Nightmare; the Iceman cometh." Ezzy said seriously.
"Oh how nice, you brought me another toy!" Loraine commented with a cackle as the freeze dropped and she spotted Jason. Her smile faded quickly, however, as Jason broke free and turned to face her. As his eyes began glowing red, his posture changed to that of a cat preparing to pounce its prey. His fangs dropped, and with a feral growl he jumped the distance between them and ripped into her neck.
"Umm, yeh..." Colin stated as he looked anywhere but at Loraine. "As ordered by the Court, I hereby order that you be terminated... damn! Next time someone says I'm dangerous, I'm bringing them to meet Jason!"
The only one watching was Daren. As he watched, he could feel the shackles she had placed on him slipping away as Jason drained her life. When Jason dropped off her just before the blood loss was enough to kill her, Daren was confused, at least he was until he noticed that the room was suddenly getting uncomfortably cold. At that point, getting warm was suddenly more important.
"What's happening?" Kalen asked as he sought warmth by cuddling Daren.
"I don't... oh shit!" Colin replied as he joined the pair and gathered them into his cloak. "Have either one of you ever seen advanced frostbite?"
"Nn nn nnooo," both shivering boys replied.
"Look at her." Colin advised as he mentally vowed never to cross Jason.
They turned to look, and saw Loraine's skin progressively turning black from the feet up. Jason was standing a few feet away, seemingly not aware of the cold. A low whine was passing Loraine's lips, as if she was trying to scream but couldn't. Even that stopped suddenly, followed a few seconds later by the blackened skin migrating up her neck. In no time, she was completely blackened by frostbite, and frost began appearing all over her as the moisture in the air settled on her body.
Without a word, Jason spun around, his eyes still glowing. He marched over to Colin, pulled the gun out of one of Colin's pouches, loaded a bullet into the chamber, and fired it at his 'meal'. Ezzy reacted fast, preventing hearing damage from the gun being fired in the small room, so all three humans were not distracted by damaged eardrums as they watched Loraine Michaels became millions of tiny ice shards.
"Yeah, uhhh... I think that qualifies as dead, Jason. DAMN!" Colin muttered. "Could I please have my gun back?"
Overhearing Colin, Daren began to giggle, which turned into laughter as he realized that Jason was patrolling the shards, seemingly making sure none were still moving. Daren broke away, and while still laughing joined Jason. Daren took the lead, and shortly both boys were happily seeing how many ice shards they could pulverize by stomping on them.
Colin gave Kalen a squeeze. "Go on bud, help your fiancé and son destroy their monsters."
Kalen nodded his head against Colin's chest, then joined the other two in playing 'Stomp the Witch'. Colin glanced over at Ezra, who was watching with a small band in his hand.
"Well?" Colin asked.
"Get over there and join them Uncle Colin!" Ezzy giggled. "Stop tryin' to be so grown up!"
"Brat!" Colin grumbled as he took Ezzy's advice and joined the stompfest.
"I love it when a plan comes together!" Ezzy giggled to himself as he watched Colin loosen up and join the fun.
Now fully into the game, all four boys chorused "That one moved!" as they jumped and landed on some of the larger remaining chunks.
"Any idea why he wanted the boys to stay behind?" Robert asked as he got his bearings from the sudden transport.
"Recovery." Beau explained as he joined his hubbies in a three way snuggle in one of the chairs. "They need to see for themselves that the threat's gone for good."
"I think I get that," Robert replied. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around the trial, though. Things moved so fast...."
"Did one of the leeches give you a copy of the Safe Haven Act in your head?" Cory asked.
"Yes," Robert replied thoughtfully, "and I can't find a single thing that you missed or applied wrong. I'm amazed at how well you did."
"This was probably the hardest one I've ever done," Cory admitted. "It took me and Tracy, with Kyle helping point out things he thought might apply, to sort it out. Kyle's not only our favorite little brother, he's also the most unique telepath in the Universe. He keeps a part of himself in my head and a few other people he calls brothers' heads. He was about to call in Prez from Hawaii, but we decided blowing up California probably wasn't a good idea today."
Appearing in the room and taking a flying leap into his dad’s arms, Timmy giggled, "Weez is gettin’ the redhead brigade together fer those kindsa emergencies. After the ZCC stuff, Prez has a itzy bitzy grudge named Caleefornia."
Chuckling, Cory said "Robert, this is my little fireball Timmy. Timmy, this is Robert, Kalen's dad."
"I know, Daddy!" Timmy giggled. "Lucas says Bobby's still hard-headed!"
Slowly blinking because he’d just been slapped down by a six-year-old, Robert smirked, "Eight years of college and years in the public sector taught me that trials take many months of preparation. This entire affair was wrapped up, nice and..." Pausing to watch as his boys, Colin, and Jason pounced the last remains of Lorraine Michaels on the wide screen off to his left, Robert chose to not complete his thought aloud, but instead snickered, "In a matter of minutes."
Timmy climbed off of Cory, and walked over to stand in front of Robert, William dropping down from the ceiling light to land on his shoulder. After looking at Robert for a minute with his head tilted, along with a few clucks between him and William, Timmy spoke up. "Unca Bobby, you gotta move on!" Turning his head towards the ceiling, Timmy yelled "Unca Mikey! Stop playin kissey games wit' Aunt Candy an' get you feathery butt down here!"
Once again confused and bamboozled, Robert wondered who Mike and Candy were.
It didn't take long to get an answer, as two be-winged teens appeared with a shadow of a figure between them. "You called, rugrat?" Mikey giggled.
"Duhh!" Timmy sighed with an obviously fake stern look. "Will'm say you gots work ta do! Get ta' work!"
"Yes Chief! Right away, Chief!" Mikey replied with a smirk as Candy came over and picked up the now-giggling Timmy. "Robert, I'm Saint Mikey of Urbandale, and I've got your Guardian Angel here to see you. You ready?"
Always a firm believer in "God helps those who help themselves," Robert was momentarily silenced by the appearance of angels. He softly and respectfully said, "It’s been a long time. Honestly, I can’t say that I’ll ever be ready. A life time of beliefs have been changing all morning; shattered is a more accurate description. What the heck, now’s as good a time as any."
"One guardian angel, coming up!" Mikey giggled.
The shadow next to Mikey took form, revealing a twelve-year-old boy in white robes. Grinning, the boy said "Sit down, you oversized goof; I've got some cuddles to catch up on!"
Recognizing his long gone lover, Robert shivered, began shedding tears and stumbled back into a chair. Actually, Cory pulled the chair over and held it steady while Robert collapsed. With hot tears streaming down his face, Robert choked out, "I never got over it, or got over you." As if Lucas were still injured and dying, Robert carefully held him and sobbed, "Nightmares of so long ago replayed a few days ago, and now you’re here?"
"I never left, goofball!" Lucas stated with a smile. "I still owe ya a few kicks in the butt though for the times I had to get Jimmy to keep you from doing something really stupid!"
"It still hurts, more than 27 years should allow."
"I know." Lucas replied seriously. "I was pullin my hair out trying to get you to notice Joanne. She knows that sometimes you think of me when you're doin the dirty; and she's okay with it. By the way, both of your sons are technically mine too by what you were thinking when you created them!"
Not knowing whether to cry harder or laugh at the truth no one else could’ve known, Robert did both and weakly admitted, "She’s the best, but not you. Once they were discussed, she never asked about the memories."
Slightly changing the subject, Lucas asked "Umm, Bobby, can I ask you a really big favor?"
Lucas' tone caused Robert to pause and think before answering, "Sure, go ahead and ask."
"Well, I kinda had a wish that I've been thinkin of since Kalen was born ..." Lucas started, watching Roberts face carefully.
"Twelve years is a long time to wait. Go ahead, tell me."
"Wellllll ... when things went bad, I asked if I could help out more ..." Lucas said, his voice unsure.
"You’ve saved my life, through Jimmy, probably hundreds of times. What more would you want to do?"
"I... well, I was kinda allowed a physical body for a little bit because Joanne was losing it with worry..."
"Back when Kalen was born, or more recently?"
"Very recently, by how you see time." Lucas said, unsure of how this was going.
"If you’ve been allowed, who am I to deny it?"
"It affects you a lot." Lucas admitted. "Joanne knew who I was, even though the boys were kept unaware that I was there. They were kinda busy anyway, but that's their business..."
"What’re you driving at; you want to be in Kalen’s, Daren’s or Rodney’s body?"
Lucas shook his head. "No; I asked Joanne if she would help me give you a present, and after thinking about it she agreed..."
Robert frowned, softly muttering, "Joanne? Sorry, I can’t see you in her, Lucas. Joanne is one love, and you’re another love. The two are separate in my heart and can’t be melded together."
"No, I couldn't BE her, goof! I've got a pole, notta hole!"
"I remember, sometimes too vividly!" Robert laughed. "Return to your own body, as you are or as you would be now. Actually, the latter is a better idea than the former. What I remember is how you once were. What I often ask myself, is how you might’ve turned out, as an adult man."
"That's one wish I've never voiced, as it seems selfish." Lucas said softly. "But I want you to have a gift, one that even if I survived I couldn't give you"
Now thoroughly confused, Robert smirked, "You gave me everything you had to give, and everything I ever wanted. Go ahead, guardian angel, make our wishes come true."
Deciding to go for broke, Lucas rattled off "Joanne is pregnant with twin boys and I am the father and I want you to raise them as your own PLEASE!"
"That was quick!" Cory giggled. "He's got Mikey's helper written all over him!"
"Agreed!" Tracy laughed.
"Shush, bratty little brothers!" Mikey chuckled
Leaning back and looking into eyes that were full of life, and full of worry, Robert swore, "I would be proud to be the father of your children. And if I’m understanding correctly, your spirit would be in one of the two, which would give me the chance to show you what a real father is like, instead of the drunken, murderous, child abusing bastard that took you from me."
"Actually..." Mikey interrupted, "I think his spirit's gonna be busy...." Seeing the looks he was getting, Mikey added "In good time, guys."
Almost simultaneously, Cory, Lucas, Robert and Timmy shouted, "MEANIE!"
Lucas leaned in to cuddle Robert, relieved that he hadn't screwed up. A few seconds later, however, he felt a weird tingle running through him. "What's happening?" he asked with worry. "Do I gotta leave already?"
Mikey shook his head. "No, not at all. Your twin brother that didn't make it is getting ready to spend some time with you; he's been a part of you since birth."
"Brother?" Lucas asked in wonder.
"Yes." Mikey said as he floated over to the chair and spread his wings. "Candy, could you give me a hand? You've given birth more than I have."
"You men, getting squeamish over a little birth!" Candy snickered as she came over with Timmy in her arms. "You ready to do what we discussed, little one?" she asked Timmy seriously.
"Yep! This's fun!" Timmy grinned.
Candy interlocked her wings with Mikey, and a glow surrounded them. As the glow faded, Mikey softly said, "To sacrifice thyself for the one thou loves is the greatest gift that can be given by the living. To continue that sacrifice after death is an action pleasing in Our Father's eyes. Lucas, your Love in the face of Hate has proven you worthy to receive Our Father's greatest Gift; in that Gift you shall be guiding Larry to learn the power of Love."
The two Saints parted, to reveal Robert sitting there in shock with a ten-year-old and a twenty-six-year-old sitting on his lap. Both had bright red hair and freckles, and both sets of grey eyes were wide as they looked at each other in awe.
"Lucas," Candy stated, "You are as you should have been if your destiny had run it's course. You are starting at the time you would have been taken, and have a new Destiny before you. Larry, while your Destiny is to do that which remained undone, your Time is not set for returning Home. Your actions will determine your fate."
Robert finally found his voice, and began whispering "Just like I remembered and imagined..." over and over.
Timmy, on the other hand, was grinning as he climbed down from Candy and pounced Cory. "Daddy! Guess what! Aunt Candy says I'm just like Uncle Lucas was when he was a kid so she was able to use me to give 'em both bodies and that means they's my brothers kinda just like they's my Uncles too isn't that awesome I got uncle brothers an' Aunt Candy even let them have warpaint like me because she says special kids get warpaint and she says I'm the most special nephew she has!"
Wondering about his boy’s lung capacity, Cory found himself hyperventilating and swooning.
"Hey Timmy?" Tracy giggled, "Breathe little guy, breathe!"
"You're goofy, Unca' Trace!" Timmy giggled. "Whadda ya think, Daddy?"
"Sounds ... awesome... " Cory replied. "Glad ... your ... uncle ... Kyle ... translated!"
"You're a weird old guy, daddy!" Timmy said with a roll of his eyes. "Love ya' anyways though!"
"Love you too!" Cory said as he quit exaggerating and began tickling Timmy.
"DADDY!" Timmy laughed as he dropped down to the floor and tried vainly to escape Cory's tickling fingers.
At that point Ezra popped in with Colin, Jason, Kalen and Daren. "Dang it, I miss all the fun! Be right back!" Ezra announced. A second later, he reappeared with Joanne and Rodney at his side.
All three boys stared at their father sitting there with an unknown man and boy on his lap. Joanne, however, recognized the faces and exclaimed "Lucas?"
"Ummm... hi Joanne!" the eldest of the two on Roberts lap said with a sheepish grin. The younger version just giggled at the expression on her face.
Robert grinned, "Our family is growing, dear."
Joanne turned to Ezra, wondering, "When can we make that trip to Hawaii?"
Robert asked, "Why in the world would you want to go to Hawaii?"
"Valium," Kalen, Daren, Rodney, Ezra and Cory sniggered.
Joanne smirked, "I can’t prescribe for myself, or at least I couldn’t under California law." Glancing around, she wondered, "Has that changed in the Clan?"
"No way!" Cory giggled. "We don't need Rimmer parents ODing!"
"Besides, drugged parents ain't as much fun to mess with!" Tracy added with a grin.
"We heard that!" Teri, Byron, and Clyde chorused as they entered the room with Spock.
Before any responses were able to be made, the peace of the room was shattered as Mont and Bast came running through. "HELP!" Mont pleaded as he caught Cory's eye.
"What...?" Cory started to ask, when he saw Pauly, Wayne, and Erin in hot pursuit, each carrying a different color bottle of fluorescent hair dye.
"Kewl!" Timmy shouted. "Emmy, I wan' purple!"
"Aye, Chief!" Emmy giggled as a purple bottle appeared in Timmy's outstretched hand.
"Oh SHIT!" both cat-boys screamed as they dived towards the nearest dimensional door, now having FOUR boys in hot pursuit.
Cory shook his head with a grin. "Some bodyguards they are! Scared of four innocent little boys!"
Most of the adults who knew the aforementioned boys sputtered and coughed. Spock just raised an eyebrow and stated "It would be prudent for you to learn the definitions of large words before making use of them, Cory."
"Unc... uh, Pop Spock?" JJ asked, attempting to keep a straight face. "Was that another blond joke?"
"Correct, JJ. You are an incredibly smart and astute young man... which is only natural, of course, not being one of the aforementioned."
"I like you Pop Spock," JJ grinned widely, watching a now spluttering Cory (and a group of other 'aforementioned' types) looked between each other. "A LOT!" he added, giving in to his giggles and diving out of the way of a dummy slap that was incoming from Adam.
"We'll get you back, Dad, you know that, don't you?" Cory managed, attempting to look serious.
"Of course I know it, Son," Spock assured. "I'm not blond!"
Jason actually noticed Spock, and shyly came over next to him. "Sir? Are you reallyMister Spock?"
Spock looked down, immediately realizing that the eight year old asking him was Moroi.
Reaching out slowly with his arms, and having the offered hug accepted by the wondering little boy, Spock drew the boy to his hip and replied, "I am indeed. Unless you know of another who goes around pretending to be one of the only three Vulcan Admirals in Starfleet."
Jason blinked, giggled, then pointed over at Sa'ren. "I've seen him trying on your jacket, not five minutes ago... does he count?"
With the smallest of smiles, Spock answer, "I should have been more specific. Do you know any other mature acting person who goes around pretending to be one of the only three Vulcan Admirals in Starfleet?"
"Oh, no! I don't!" Jason giggled as he saw Sa'ren's offended face.
"My turn, I take it, Sa'mekh?" the boy almost hissed.
"Of course... you were laughing at the 'Double Js' just a touch too hard just now!"
"Sir?" Jason asked again. "Ummm... when the Professor was teachin' us 'bout Vulcans, he said that some knew howta go inta your head and help ya fix the stuff from bad things that happened. I got a new Dad an Pop, can you do that so I ain't gotta remember the bad stuff done to me?"
"I can certainly do so. As could my son, Sa'ren," Spock replied in complete seriousness. "I am a registered mind-healer, my son is not, but he is the Sa'ren and has a talent I have never seen for dealing with stress. Before you ask either of us to help you, I would like you to talk to my son first. He can also do 'the Sharing' which will allow for clearer thought on your decision on which of us to ask for this."
"Sorry I bugged you." Jason said as his head drooped.
Spock used his free hand to gently lift the boy's chin, "One of my children, that includes you for you are in the Clan, asking me for help is not and will never be 'bugging me', Jason," the Vulcan man whispered. "I only mentioned my child as he has had to deal with much from his own life, has repaired a fractured boy's mind who had been through much the same, and who can effortlessly understand the pain another is going through. I have the same experiences, just through my son's eyes. Do you wish me to help you? Right now?"
"Please?" Jason begged.
That same hand, which was still cupping the child's chin, moved to fix fingers to the side of his face. "My mind to your mind. Your thoughts to my thoughts. Our minds are merging," Spock said softly in the now dead silent room. He finished the age-old saying, however, with his son's usual words, "our hearts are one..."
Cory noticed Ezzy was acting unnaturally innocent. "What's up, Rainbow Boy?"
"Nothin', Uncle Cory." Ezzy replied with a smile. "Just watching Grandpa fixin' timelines."
"Not mature," came a mutter from a sulking Elf. "I'll show him 'not mature' when he goes for his shower tomorrow... I'll get him ba... Hi Mama! Nice day, wot?"
Teri just glared at the now bright green blushing Vulcan boy with her arms crossed.
"Don't worry, Mammy. I'll make sure the prank doesn't affect you!"
"Good..." Teri said, then, "Wait, that's not what I wanted to..."
"Bye, Mama!" Sa'ren giggled as he sped away quickly... with unspoken permission from his mother for whatever dastardly plot his mind had hatched.
Over with Cory, Sean and a suddenly visible Mikey were taking notes. "Why didn't we think of that, big bro?"
"'Cos we're not as smart as Elf, kiddo! Live and learn..."
"Or die and learn..." Cory put in, poking Mikey in his wings.
"True, true," Mikey responded, internally overjoyed that Cory could even say this in jest after all the family had been through. "Mind you, you come close to Elf-Mother-Control, Tigger."
"Yeah... who do you think gave him pointers to get him started?"
"Evil, love, evil," Sean sighed. "Why not teach us, though?"
"Elf's cuter than you two. You're hunkier, Sean, but sorry, Elf's our little cutie."
"Point again! That's two from Tigger and minus fifty six billion for Lil'bro," Mikey put in evilly.
Teri, not even close to being able to catch up with Sa'ren, had instead elected to stay close and listen to all this. "Corners. The three of you. Except you, Cory, sweetheart... come with me..." she said with a sickly sweet smile.
"BUSTED!" everyone else chorused.
"If my wife has finished disciplining my wayward children, including a Saint that should know better," Spock said, Jason giggling like crazy from his arms, "then I have something to say before dealing with my blood-first born. Draco, Ark, Dailaess: please record the following and transmit to all Starfleet stations world wide, and all embassies of the League, as well as all belonging to off-worlders: As of this moment, all Vampires classed as 'half-lives' are hereby wards of the House of Surak, children of Families Sarek and Clan Short, with all rights and responsibilities deeded to Vulcans - with just one exception. Free travel from Earth is restricted to purely Vulcan holdings: Homeworld and our Colonies. All Half-Lives. Everywhere. You now join with those who stood forward at the Battle of Earth to fight for this world. You are classed as my children and as heirs of Vulcan. Your first point of contact, the Liason between House Surak, Family Sarek and Family Clan Short, is the Professor, Marcelus. End recording."
Cory picked his chin from the floor, then muttered, "Brant says there's about 256 half-lives in Hawaii alone! Better warn Prez!"
"Too late," Seth called from CIC, laughing. "He just quit!"
"Sorry, it's for life, Prez!" Cory yelled back.
The faint, but clearly heard response from the Rimmer Director made Cory grin, "WTF?!?! Folks come to the ROH for sun and fun, but now the nightlife isn't even alive! Alden, my PADD. Pissed Off Chicken, pissed off vampires, pissed off head rimmer.."
Over Emmy's speakers, Jason responded to his less than happy Hawaiian counterpart, "Be glad, matey! The UK and Europe are just a touch older than your Isles... we've already got them banging on the doors asking for any wrong-doers to go... as if we have doggie bags pervert sized.... sheesh... "
Also over the comm, Sa'ren could be heard, "DAD! I-Cheya is fat enough as it is! I've got Kano here asking if he can come down to Oz to clean up after the "welcome to the Clan" party that LEVI SOMEHOW ORGANIZED BEFORE YOU SAID WHAT YOU SAID! Cheya's gonna be to big to be transported, soon! Ezzy's already told me that Mikys can pop something that fat already!"
"I am NOT altogether pleased about this!" Danny shouted over the speakers. "It wasn't bad enough when I had that crazy ferret in Vegas scrambling my positronics? It wasn't bad enough that these looney Rimmers made all our AIs size queens? Now I've gotta call Peter and have special housing built for vampires! If I can't quit, I retire! Off to Archnania I go!"
With an audible roll of his eyes, Spock put in seriously, "Being a Ward of the House does not mean they have to move in with the various divisions. Any that have no place of safety, of course, would not be turned away, but many - from what Jason informed me in our meld - have safe havens already. Help is what is required, as and when it is needed. Most will not want to just 'throw their lot in' with unknowns, no matter how well spoken of the Clan is with the world of darkness. That takes time. However, I do know that a fair number will seek out shelter this very night with us. I can see it in Marcelus' face that he is about to send messages. Do not do yourselves a disservice, children. You are better than this."
Cory gulped. A mass Clan chew-out by Spock? Terrifying... and he was CALM! 'I have to learn this power,' he giggled in awe in his head.
'No. You don't!' all the telepaths sent back to him.
'Don't listen to them!' Kyle giggled in Cory's head. 'We'll both learn it!'
The Core Rimmers and a good chunk of the AI division, all on Kaho'olowe, sang; "I've got a lovely bunch of cocoanuts, here they are all standing in a row... DIDDLEE-DEE!"
Then, as a counterpoint to the humor some were going through, and ass-chewing others were, in walked Sa'ren... with a baby in his arms. "This is why we're needed," he said in all seriousness. "Draco just told me that someone left this child outside just as dawn was coming not a minute ago. He 'ported him here. Some absolute bastard turned a seven month old, guys!"
He was right. The baby boy had glowing red eyes and was in a right, ear-splitting state of a meltdown due to hunger.
Cory's face went pale, and Brant was going the same way. "Who left him, Elf?"
"The vampire girl in the other room with Aunty Helen having a cry. It's her little baby brother that was turned with her. His FANGS HAVEN'T FORMED! She thought that the only thing left she could do was to let him die so the pain would stop! Everyone OUT OF MY WAY! I need room for this... don't even know if it can work, but I HAVE to try..." the little Vulcan sobbed in anger and pain at what he was feeling from the helpless Vampire in his arms.
As everyone backed out of the middle of the room to give Sa'ren space, Brant whispered to Cory, "It's what would normally happen, bro. Any that are far too young turned don't form properly... they die slow or fast with a Sun Quest..." he finished sickly.
With a flash of light Sa'ren was covered in his Armor and his Sword was riding on his back. Tears poured from the helm after pooling on the inside. "This is going to hurt..." he whispered fearfully, his hands reaching out to the child, then pulling back as if he was daring himself to thrust them into fire. "Hurt... pain... so much to give and undo... /I don't want to do.../... it but I must do it..." the teen's voice alternated between that of himself and his Sword, then his Armor started, all in the same vein. "I don't know... ///if I can, but.../// ... I am Clan and... /I must.../... do this... Daddy, order me? Please?" he begged in fear.
"Not alone," Kevin said. "Merge with me, Sa'ren."
"Me too," Levi added.
"Us too," Sean and Cory said in unison.
Tera blinked and nodded, "Me as well, husband."
"... and me," came the ghostly voice of the only 'Aspect of Sa'ren' now gone from the world of the living. Juan, dressed in white combat armor and winged with green feathers.
Sa'ren blinked around at them all, sobbing in relief. He moved like water into Kevin, then the new 'person' flowed into Levi. On and on 'Sa'ren' flowed until just It stood there. All the Aspects: Kevin the Strength, Juan the Preserver, Cory the Justiciar, Levi the Purity, Sean the Mercy and Tera the Comfort. All in and with and one with The True Sa'ren, garbed in the Shield, the Armor, and holding the Shattered Sword.
\Behold, I am It. First in Time to set what is Dark to Light. Second in Time to open the last door. Third in Time shall we be parted to summon the Undying. Last in Time with he not yet born and he who is kept to return the Oldest to our world. Mary, Sister of Nathaniel. Come to me and to your baby brother\ The Sa'ren said forcefully.
From the other room a little girl walked in, blood-tears rolling down her face, hand in hand with Helen. Her eyes widened at the form standing over her brother.
\Sit, with him in your arms\
She did so.
The Sa'ren moved to stand almost on top of them, and became as liquid light around both. \Change what is to be anew... once only this is to happen, for never again will Providence allow a change... those who wish the Sunlight, step into me now, or never again get this chance...\
From out of the air, little children appeared, pushed by scarred hands, into the Light of Sa'ren. Many of them. Multitudes. Some adults also appeared, with angel feathers falling around them, and into the light they went. Teri stopped counting.
\It shall do It, He shall guide\
The Light flared, blinding all watching for a moment. Movement and shouts of joy as more angel feathers fell, and those scarred hands appeared to pull child after child away from the Light and out into life again.
Then Sa'ren was seen, without Armor or Sword, with his wife and husbands and lost-love Soul-mate in a circle around the two remaining human children on the floor. The girl and her baby brother.
Each were sweating, even Juan, and Sa'ren was trembling as if ready to shatter. "So much. Time was open. Eternity was there. Now it's gone. I know what I'm to do, but I cannot remember it..." he panted before shaking himself. "Mary and Nathaniel. I place you in the care of Helen McCarthy. She is now your mother, and never again will you fear the Sunlight. You are human again. As are a million others who answered us, led by angels and the Angel. Go on, baby girl," he smiled at the eight year old Mary, "go say hi to your new Mom!"
As Helen welcomed her new family, and Teri comforted the rest of the participants, Tracy took one look at Cory and made a decision. "Emmy! Transport me, Karl, Cory, Sean, the technicolored lions, and the Rat Pack to our garage. The Patriarch is on break; Jason's got the ball until we get back."
"Aye aye, El Capitan!" Emmy giggled as the aforementioned group vanished.
"Hey, don't forget us!" Kyle and Tyler chorused as they vanished as well.
Colin noticed the confused looks scattered around the room, and commented "Cory just thinks he runs this circus; really the directors all do. Cory's taking a break, no matter how much he argues."