Note from Kyle:
How ya' been? I've missed all of you out there! Just to update y'all, things have been a little crazy since the last Memories chapter. The Clan now has three more divisions; one in Las Vegas, one in Des Moines, and one in Hawaii! The Hawaii and Des Moines guys just busted a corporate ring that was using orphanages to pad their own pockets. Me, Cory, Sean and a few of the other guys are visiting Grandma Lizzy and helping her make a couple of weddings really special. Momma Teri and Cory have added a couple of new faces to their families, and me and Ty had another son named Ezra. Oh, and Cory's got himself a Corvette with an AI in it! While we're seeing how much damage we can cause to one little island in the Atlantic, Seth and the guys who are in Orlando are gonna try to get you up to speed with some of the things going on throughout the Clan. Oh, I've hung up my Superman cape (giggle)!
Welcome back, let me and Uncle AC know what you think about what's been going on. Uncle Akeentia is helping out with some of the Ark characters in the upcoming chapters, so you're gonna get to see what they've been up to as well! I gotta go, Tommy's got a new cookie recipe and he wants me to test them!
A young boy stood on the edge of a cliff, high in the mountains. Through the darkness of the night and the light misting of the rain, his little eyes scanned the valley below, watching the winding path that trailed up the mountain. He studied the path for a moment and then looked over the valley as if looking for something. He wrapped his dark red robe tightly around himself as the wind picked up, howling as it blew through the temple behind him. He waited another few minutes before deciding that the valley was quiet and empty. But as he went to turn around he heard something behind him.
"What are you looking for young man?" said a voice behind the boy.
The boy turned to find a man he had never seen before. The man had dark hair, dark eyes, and was dressed in a uniform of some kind. He smiled at the boy as he straightened his red uniform jacket, doing his best to look friendly, but there was something about how the man looked that made the boy take a few steps backward. As he did, he could see around the man to see several more men, wearing the same uniforms, behind him with their weapons drawn.
The boy's eyes narrowed, "You're what I think I'm looking for, we do not accept visitors this late in the night, but I thought I felt something...odd...so I thought I'd come take a look. Is there something I can help you with?"
"Yes, actually, there is," the man said with a grin. "I am looking for information on something I came across in a very old text."
"If you'd like I can wake the monks for you, I'm sure they will be better able to help you then I," the boy said as he tried to head for the temple.
The man, however, stepped in front of the boy, blocking his path, "No, I think you might be able to help me. I'm looking for information on something referred to in the text as vivificus navitas."
The boy's eyes went wide with fright, "I...I can't help you, this temple contains no information on such things. You and your men need to leave this temple right now!"
"Oh, I think you can help me," replied the man as he pulled out his own weapon. "If you felt me coming then you're the one I'm looking for, aren't you? You're the Navus. Well, good thing you're just a little boy or this might have been hard. I seek to control what it is you have..."
The man laughed as he pulled the trigger.
Josiah screamed as he quickly sat up in bed in a cold sweat, clutching his chest. He looked around the room for a few seconds and then, still breathing heavily, fumbled with the sheets as he tried to get out of bed. As he stood up, though, the sheets got caught around his legs and he fell to the floor.
"Josiah?" Gavin said groggily from the bed. "Is everything okay?"
Josiah grunted as he struggled with the sheets, finally just letting his frustration turn them to dust. Finally free of the sheets, he then got up off the floor and quickly stumbled over to the sink, turning on the water as he got there.
"Josiah?" Gavin said again as he threw his own covers aside and got out of the bed. "What's wrong?"
After splashing his face a few times, and taking a deep breath, Josiah finally replied, "Its nothing, just a bad dream. I didn't mean to wake you."
Gavin came over to the sink and gently hugged Josiah, "What was the dream about?"
"It doesn't matter, it was just a dream," said Josiah as he stepped out of the hug and walked over to the closet.
"That's BS and you know it," Gavin said, the frustration evident in his voice. "This is the third night you've woken up with a nightmare, it does matter!"
Josiah stopped at the closet door, turned to face Gavin, and sighed, "I didn't know you knew about the last two nights."
"It's kinda hard to miss you screaming in the middle of the night," replied Gavin. "I just figured you'd talk to me about it when you were ready."
"I've been dreaming about...something...something that I think happened but I don't remember," Josiah said after a few seconds of silence. "I think it has something to do with me but I...I just can't remember."
"What happens in the dream?" asked Gavin.
"There's a little boy standing on the edge of a cliff, he looks like he's a monk. But then a few Starfleet officers show up and take him away," answered Josiah. "But they mention something...and they call him something...something that sounds familiar, but I..." Josiah turned back around and pulled the closet door open, grabbing his jumpsuit. "I need to talk to Seth."
"Okay, give me a minute and I'll come with you," Gavin said as he picked up his jumpsuit from the day before from off the floor.
"I'm...I'm not sure I want you to come with me," said Josiah as he put on his jumpsuit. "There are some things I need to talk about with Seth that no one else can know about."
"Yeah, well I'M sure that I'm coming with you," Gavin replied as he quickly put his jumpsuit on. "You're my boyfriend, you're important to me, and if you have a problem then its my problem too; that isn't up for discussion."
Josiah smiled, "I suppose I can't argue with that."
Seth sat in his wheelchair in Teri's kitchen sipping a fresh cup of coffee and reading the communications report from the day before. He was just about finished reading the report when Josiah and Gavin came into the room.
Seth looked up and smiled, "Hey guys, it's a bit early for you two to be up yet, don't you think? Breakfast isn't for about another three or four hours."
"What time is it?" Gavin asked as they sat down at the table.
"It's just about five in the morning," Seth said as he glanced at his watch.
"Well, why are you up?" asked Gavin.
"I go on duty at 5:30," replied Seth. "So what's up?"
"I'm having a little trouble sleeping," said Josiah.
"Actually I have too, I'm not used to sleeping in a bed," chuckled Seth. "I've gone so long with living at my computer console that sleeping for more than a few hours without sitting up is hard to do."
"Well...I'm not having trouble sleeping because of what we used to do," replied Josiah.
Seth frowned, "Oh?"
"I've been dreaming about something," said Josiah. "It's been waking me up the last few nights, and I wanted to ask you about it."
Seth set his report down, "I'm not sure if I'll have the answers you're looking for, psychology wasn't really my field of expertise, but you've got my complete attention; I'll do my best."
"Right, well I guess I'll start with the one I've been thinking about the most," said Josiah. "Where did I come from?"
Seth sighed, "Oh, THAT. Well I guess I shouldn't be surprised, I knew you'd ask me that question someday."
"Do you know?" asked Josiah.
"Kind of, but it's a difficult question to answer," replied Seth. "I only know parts of it, really."
"I expected that," said Josiah. "I wasn't born in a lab, was I?"
"From what I was told, no," answered Seth.
"Wait, I'm confused. Josiah and his brothers are clones, aren't they?" said Gavin. "I thought they were all created in a lab, or something like that."
Seth shook his head, "All of them WERE created in a lab...except the original." He looked at Josiah, "How long have you known?"
"I started to think I wasn't a clone ever since I started being able to sleep through an entire night," replied Josiah. "I've been dreaming about the same event, over and over again. Each time I'd have the dream a little more would be added to it, like it was a memory that I'm trying to recall or something. I've never heard any of the others talk about having those kind of dreams so I figured it meant something."
"Well, that's a pretty good guess," Seth said as he took a sip from his coffee. "When I first met you, your brothers hadn't been created yet. You were older than me, actually. I never got to really meet you, though, they kept you asleep, and they seemed afraid to let you wake up. But they kept saying there was something about you that was special, and it was something they wanted to copy. Me, and about fifteen others, were given a mutagenic virus that they created that was based off of your genetics. It was supposed to give us your abilities."
"I'm guessing they failed?" said Josiah.
"As far as I know, I'm the only one that survived; and you can see how I turned out," Seth replied as he motioned to his wheelchair. "After that they decided that it was better to try and clone you then to create something from you. They put you into some kind of Cryo-stasis and then created your brothers. But again, they failed. All of your brothers had different abilities; none of them were like you. It was suggested once that perhaps it was something tied to your very being, to your soul, rather than to your body, but you know scientists, that doesn't agree with their outlook on things, so it was dismissed. From what I understand, the project was abandoned after they couldn't produce the result that was wanted. I remember that one of the men in charge of the project was really upset about the whole thing, claiming that he could make it work, but funding was pulled. Due to how much was spent on creating your brothers it was decided that they would still be used as intended, so Metronome was formed. You were brought out of Cryo-stasis when your brothers reached your age and then you were added to our group."
Josiah frowned, "But why don't I remember anything before Metronome?"
"I always assumed that they either gave you something to make you forget or whatever trauma you went through suppressed your memories," replied Seth. "They did tell me that they expected you to have more control then you did over your abilities, but as you got older they seemed to lose interest in your progress."
"So you don't really know where they got me from?" asked Josiah.
Seth shook his head, "I'm sorry, I never thought to ask them. You know how it was, if I didn't need to know then I wasn't told. What I've just told you is either stuff I lived through and remember or stuff I WAS told. But even I have trouble remembering stuff from way back then. I can't say that anything before us being put together was fun for me. I spent a year before your brothers were born and about two years after recovering from the virus as well as being the test subject for other things as well, and I won't talk about those."
"Do you remember who it was that led the project?" Josiah said as he stared at the table in thought.
"Yes actually, I do," replied Seth.
Josiah's eyes shot up and locked with Seth's, "What?"
"His name is Geoffrey Wido," continued Seth. "Back then he worked for the Department of Internal Affairs, which is a branch of Starfleet Intelligence."
"Was he a scientist on the project?" asked Josiah.
"No, he held the rank of Commander and just led the project," answered Seth. "The whole thing was his idea, and he always made sure everyone knew that."
Josiah jumped up from his chair, "Thanks Seth; that should be enough!"
"You're not going to try and find him are you?" asked Seth.
"Yeah, that's the plan," replied Josiah.
Seth frowned, "Why?"
"I want to know who I am," said Josiah.
"What's wrong with who you are now?" asked Seth. "The past isn't all that important to who you've become if it doesn't help shape who you are today."
"I want to know where I came from; I want to know if my past will help me better understand what I can do, and how to control it," Josiah replied as he started for the door. "And I want these dreams to go away."
"Josiah, you might not like what you find," Seth called to Josiah.
"That's a chance I'm willing to take," Josiah said as he stopped briefly at the door before leaving.
"Hey!" Gavin shouted as he jumped up and ran after Josiah. "Josiah, wait a minute!"
Seth sighed as he watched Gavin vanish through the door, "Ark, I need you to get ahold of someone for me. I need to report in."
"Josiah, wait a minute!" Gavin shouted again as he chased Josiah back to CIC.
Josiah stopped just outside the door to CIC, "What?"
"Damn you move fast," Gavin said as he tried to catch his breath. "But, what are you going to do?"
"I told you, I'm going to find this man," replied Josiah.
"And then what? Is this really important enough to chase after members of Section 31? You just got away from those people," said Gavin. "And what am I supposed to do? I can't do the things you can do; I can't protect myself like you can, so there's no doubt you're going to tell me to stay here."
Josiah groaned, "Well yeah, these people are dangerous!"
"Exactly! Which is why you should stay here!" cried Gavin. "But you're just going to go, leaving me here, so you can chase after someone that means nothing to you, just because you dreamed about something? Where does that leave me?"
"Safe!" replied Josiah. "I'm trying so hard to keep you safe that you can't possibly know what a burden it is to me. I'm more dangerous then you realize, and while you've help me get somewhat of a better control of my emotions I still struggle to keep control of my ability. It's a constant strain to not let myself over power everything around me! I want so much to not have to feel that dull ache in the back of my mind where I struggle to keep from pulling all the energy around me away! I want to wake up in the morning and not be afraid that I might have killed you in my sleep! So, if there's something I can do, or someone out there that can help me, that can give me control, then I want to find them. I'll never be able to learn control on my own; I haven't the faintest idea of where to even start. And I'm so tired; tired of being afraid, tired of the struggle, I'm just tired." Josiah paused for a second, "If I have to leave, though, I just can't take you with me. I have no idea what I'll be looking for, and no idea what I'll find. I have no way of knowing that you'll be safe, and the whole point of me wanting to learn control is so I can rest easy and know that you ARE safe."
"But you heard what Seth said, they just assumed you would gain more control," said Gavin. "There isn't anything that they know that could help you..."
"They know where I came from, and they know who my family was," interrupted Josiah.
Gavin sighed, "No matter what I say you're going to go, aren't you?"
"No, I can see that this is important to you, you're not just going to let this go," said Gavin. "But at least let me help you, even if I can't go with you, let me do something."
"Okay," smiled Josiah. "I'd like that."
"Well, then where do we start," replied Gavin. "And can we get something to eat before we do?"
Josiah sat in front of one of the terminals in the Ark Compound's System Control room, looking over Starfleet staff records, "I think I'm going cross eyed. Ark have you had any luck?"
< I am sorry Josiah, but I am finding no record of a Geoffrey Wido in any of Starfleet's records. Perhaps that is not the person you are looking for or perhaps they have a different name. > .
"No, Seth has an excellent memory, he never forgets a name," replied Josiah.
< But perhaps the name he was told was a fake. > .
Gavin came through the door, that lead to CIC, carrying a tray full of sandwiches and drinks, "How's the search going? Did I miss anything in the last ten minutes?"
"No," said Josiah. "In fact, we've found nothing."
Gavin set down the tray and handed Josiah a turkey sandwich, "We'll find something, we're just not looking hard enough."
"Yeah, well we've got Ark stumped," Josiah said as he took a bite of the sandwich.
"Maybe we're asking Ark the wrong questions. Let me take a look," Gavin looked at the results on Josiah's terminal. "Section 31 isn't considered part of Starfleet, right?" Josiah nodded as he continued to chew. "So, why would we find anything about Section 31 or the guy you're looking for in Starfleet's records?"
"Because he worked for the Department of Internal Affairs," replied Josiah as he took another bite. "They're a division of Starfleet that Section 31 does their work through."
"Yeah, but they aren't listed in the records here," said Gavin.
"Take a look yourself, there isn't a Department of Internal Affairs listed," Gavin said as he pulled up another search window. "They're probably just hidden files or something in the Starfleet Intelligence records."
Josiah looked over the original results, "Ark, what do you think?"
< Give me a minute to check as to why the Department of Internal Affairs is not listed. > .
"Okay," replied Josiah as he set his sandwich down and took a drink from the tray Gavin had set down.
Gavin sighed as he reached over and grabbed his own sandwich before sitting back in his chair, "I hate to sound anything but optimistic, Jo, but do you really expect to find this guy still listed in anyone's records?"
"No, I suppose not. But I do expect him to be listed in at least some of Ark's records," replied Josiah. "Ark has archived copies of everything, after all. And while Section 31 never really kept everything in one place, we're only looking for one guy."
< I have found something. The Department of Internal Affairs IS listed with all of the other departments. However, it did not show up for two reasons. First, it was set to simply not show. And second, the files were booby trapped with a few different viruses. While that is not a problem for me, as their viruses are not written in a way that could affect my systems, my initial search did not show the files in case those viruses could have been a risk. >.
"Okay, so what did you find in the records?" Josiah asked excitedly.
< I did not find anything that you did not already know. The Starfleet records show that a Commander Geoffrey Wido worked for the Department of Internal Affairs, and that he was 37 years old at the time the records were created. That is all that is listed. No service history or personal history of any kind is given. However, searching back through all of the archived records I have for Starfleet, his record disappears from their systems about 5 years ago. Other than that, there are no other records on Geoffrey Wido. >.
Josiah sighed in disappointment, "So we've got nothing?"
< No. I do have something. >.
"But you just said..."
< That I have no other Starfleet records on Geoffrey Wido. But this is not a record from the Starfleet systems. Someone has made a recent entry directly into my systems that gives the last known whereabouts for Geoffrey Wido. >.
"Directly into your systems? So, someone with access to your systems just made that entry?" Gavin said slowly. "That's awfully convenient. Who made the entry?"
< I am having trouble tracing where the information originated. >.
Josiah grinned, "I think I know where it came from, Ark. Don't worry about tracing it. Just give me the information."
< Although I am not comfortable with not knowing where the information came from, I will trust that you know what you are talking about. The information is now on the terminal in front of you. >.
Josiah sat up in his chair and quickly started reading over the information on the console, "Hey, that's better than I had hoped for."
"What does it say?" Gavin asked as he scooted closer to Josiah.
"Well, according to this, he was last seen in the Xinjiang region of China," Josiah replied excitedly as he scrolled through the information. "Not far from Tianchi lake. And it looks like he's going by a different name, too. But he shouldn't be too hard to find. I mean, how many white guys LIVE in that region of China?"
Gavin grinned at Josiah, "You know, I wouldn't know the answer to that question. I've only seen the bits and pieces of Earth that I've visited with the family."
"Oh, right, I forgot that you're not from here. You'll just have to trust me when I say that it shouldn't be too hard to find him. He'll stick out like a sore thumb," said Josiah.
Gavin gave Josiah a weird look, "Stick out like a sore thumb? What's that supposed to mean?"
"It just means that he'll be easy to find because he's different," giggled Josiah as he pulled Gavin into a hug. "I guess I also forget that you don't know all of our stupid little sayings."
Gavin returned the hug and sighed, "So, now that you know where he is, when do you plan on leaving? I mean, are you planning on leaving tomorrow morning? Or are you leaving right away?"
"I'll probably leave sometime today," Josiah replied as he tightened his grip on Gavin. "I won't be gone longer than I have to; I promise I'll be back soon."
Gavin nodded and he looked down at Josiah's half eaten sandwich, "Will you at least finish your sandwich before you leave?"
Josiah laughed as he started to release Gavin, "Yeah, I'll finish the sandwich. And I was kinda hoping that you'd help me pack."
"What am I going to tell mom?" Gavin asked as Josiah picked up his sandwich and took another bite.
"What do you mean?" replied Josiah as he chewed.
"Well, we've kinda go everywhere together since we've been boyfriends," Gavin said softly. "She's bound to notice that you're not around."
"I would have thought that you'd be more worried about what Cory might say," Josiah said frankly.
Gavin shook his head, "No, I can explain all this to Cory and he'll understand. But mom might ask questions."
Josiah grinned, "Yeah, from what I hear, moms are like that."
< Perhaps you could tell her that I have sent Josiah on an important task. I will, after all, be tracking your every movement, Josiah. I am just as concerned about your well-being as Gavin is. >.
"Thank you, Ark," smiled Gavin. "That'll make me feel a little better, knowing that you're watching after him."
"So, will you help me pack then?" Josiah asked hopefully.
"Yes, but not until after you've finished your lunch," replied Gavin as he stared at the half eaten sandwich in Josiah's hand. "I worked hard on getting us lunch."
Josiah grinned, as he took another bite, "Helen made this, didn't she?"
"Yes," chuckled Gavin. "But it was hard work watching her make it! Now eat! We'll get you packed only when you're done."
"So what all will you need to take with you?" Gavin asked as he watched Josiah start laying items out on their bed.
"Well, since Ark has them available, I'll be taking a cloak device, a sub-vocal, and a handheld," said Josiah as he ran his fingers over the devices, before going back to rummaging around in the nightstand, next to the bed. "But I'll also need food, a blindfold, an ace bandage, a handkerchief, a bottle of rubbing alcohol, a paperclip, and a stick of gum."
"Umm...that's an...interesting list. I guess that means you're travelling light," replied Gavin as he watched Josiah pull all these things, including food ration packets, out of the nightstand. "But why are these things in our nightstand?"
Josiah shrugged his shoulders, "Force of habit, I guess."
"I'm not sure I want to know exactly what habit," Gavin said with a grin, as another thought occurred to him. "You didn't mention clothes in that list. Do you plan on running around naked? I mean, I'm sure the weather in that region is nice this time of year..."
< The average temperature for the Xinjiang region of China, at this time of year, is 23 degrees Fahrenheit. >.
Gavin giggled, "Or maybe it's not."
Josiah looked up from his odd selection of items with a puzzled look, "Clothes? Oh...yeah, I guess I might need at least one change of clothes. But nothing more than that; I need to be able to carry everything I'm taking with me. And the clothes need to be something that'll fit that region of the world."
"Right, well I can help you pick something out, but I don't think you have anything that would fit that region in your current wardrobe," replied Gavin as he stared into the closet, which was full of Ark Compound jumpsuits.
Josiah grinned, "I don't think I've ever had ANYTHING exciting in my wardrobe. Section 31 was very fond of black, so I had lots of that."
"Yeah, and now you wear lots of gray," replied Gavin as he continued eyeing the closet.
<Gavin, if you would like to use the terminal on the desk, I can show you what clothing options I have available.>
"Thank you Ark," Gavin replied as he wandered over to the terminal. "I think between Ark and I, we can come up with something more exciting than black."
"And what's wrong with black?" challenged Josiah.
Gavin grinned, "Nothing."
"Please don't dress me like a clown," begged Josiah as he pulled a messenger style bag out of the closet and started filling it with the stuff he had laid out. "I kinda need to blend in."
"I promise I won't dress you like a clown," replied Gavin as he flipped through the options on the screen. "I'll pick something discreet."
"Although, I think you might look good in this," Gavin said with a huge grin, as he pointed at the screen.
Josiah looked over at the screen and blushed, "Ummm...not this trip. Remember, I need to blend in."
"Well what about this one?" Gavin said as he flipped to the next option. "I think this one would look good on you too."
Josiah set the bag next to the bed and then looked up at the screen again, "Ark! Will you please make sure he sticks to the right clothing section of your available options? Please?"
< Considering the fact that he has black hair, I believe the purple one would look better, Gavin. >.
"Hmm, you might be right," Gavin said consideringly as he tapped on the color option.
"Hey, don't give him suggestions! God, now I know how Dominic feels!" said Josiah as he fell back onto the bed.
Gavin giggled, "Okay, okay, I'll save it for when you get back."
"Do you really think you can get me into something like that, anyway?" Josiah said challengingly.
"Yes, I think I can," Gavin said with an evil grin.
Josiah almost whimpered as he looked at Gavin with wide eyes. Gavin did his best evil laugh as he turned back around to face the terminal screen again, "Ark, go ahead and bookmark this for me and then take me to something for a colder climate that would fit that region better."
Josiah looked himself over to make sure that he had everything that he would need on him. Surprisingly enough, between Gavin and Ark, he was dressed in something that actually looked old and worn, but would still keep him warm and allow him to fit in. Ark had also loaded his handheld up with everything he could possibly ever want to know about the region he would be visiting, just in case he should need it.
"Well I think I have everything," Josiah said as he looked over at Gavin.
"Are you going to say goodbye to anyone else, other than me, before you go?" asked Gavin softly.
"No," Josiah replied as he pulled his blindfold on, and then lifted the left side of it, tucking it under his hat, so that his left eye remained uncovered. "I don't want to have to explain to them why I'm doing this, only to have them try and talk me out of it."
"And I would probably agree with them," Gavin said as he shook his head, "I still don't entirely agree with you going alone, or even going at all."
"But I..." Josiah started to say, but Gavin held up his hand.
"I said that I don't like it, but I know that you feel that you need to go," Gavin continued softly. "You want to know answers to things that I, sadly, can't help you with or answer for you. And I know that you can fend for yourself. You're probably trained better than anyone in this compound in how to be stealthy and careful. But I still don't like it. I just have this nagging feeling, in the back of my head, that I'll never see you again."
Josiah quickly closed the distance between them and pulled Gavin into a firm hug, "Gav, I'm coming back. The whole reason I want to do this is so that I can maybe learn enough about myself that I can finally feel comfortable being myself around you and our family without fear. I'm just so afraid that I'll end up hurting you, or worse, killing you, if I lose control."
"I know," Gavin sighed, as tears started to well up in his eyes. "I know we've already talked about it, and I know I can't change your mind. But I still don't want you to leave. You don't even know how long you'll be gone for or what you'll find."
"I won't be gone for any longer than I have to be," Josiah said gently, as he began to pull away.
Gavin tightened his grip, stopping Josiah, "Promise me that you're coming back. I want you to actually say the words. You've never lied to me, so if you say it then you have to mean it!"
Josiah worked to pull away from Gavin so that he could look into his eyes. Gavin stared back at him with fear in his eyes. Josiah sighed softly and then pulled Gavin into a deep kiss. It may have only lasted a few seconds but he poured everything he could into that kiss, before pulling back, looking deeply into Gavin's eyes and replying, "I promise you that I'll come back. You're not losing me and I'm not leaving you; okay?"
"Okay..." Gavin said quietly as he looked downward. "Please be safe."
Josiah let go of him and took a few steps backwards, "I will. Ark please standby."
< Awaiting your command. >.
"And Gavin?" Josiah said as he stood up straight.
Gavin looked up and locked eyes with Josiah.
"I love you," Josiah said softly.
Gavin grinned weakly, "I love you too."
Josiah nodded, "Ark, now please."
Josiah suddenly vanished from the room, leaving Gavin by himself.
"Ark, will you try to keep an eye on him for me?" Gavin asked quietly.
< I will do the best that I can. >.
"If there is anything I can do, any time where you think he needs me, please let me know."
< I promise that I will. >.
"Thank you," Gavin replied as he slowly sat down in the chair by the terminal.
After a few minutes of thought, with tears starting to form in his eyes, Gavin stood back up, "Hey Ark?"
< Yes? >.
"Can you take me to my Mom please? I really need her right now."
< Of course, Gavin. >
And with that Gavin vanished from the room.
"How's it going, guys?" Helen asked as she walked into CIC.
"Not too bad, Mom." Travis answered from where him and Gabe were watching a terminal with grins on their faces.
"Going by your smiles, am I correct in guessing that the Des Moines division's first stand-alone operation was a success?" Helen asked, glancing at the relieved faces of Seth, Alec, Andy, and Kelly before turning back to Gabe and Travis.
"Yeah, we're just watching them do a little post-rescue redecorating!" Gabe giggled.
"Do I want to know?" Helen asked with a roll of her eyes.
Seth giggled. "They just removed three houses to allow a dead-end street to become a through-street." he paused, then added "Nice job, too; they didn't damage anything nearby."
"So now you guys are getting into de-construction?" Helen chuckled.
"Why not? Peter up in the Northeast Division's into construction!" Travis giggled. "He's even hired Eli and Benji!"
"You are all something else!" Helen said with a smile. "Seth, I know that you just ate before coming on duty; do you mind if I steal your helpers for a snack before they get back to following up on anything Des Moines has left hanging? Sammy and his crew just popped in, so I've thrown something together for everyone. You can yell if you need them, then they can relieve you for a break as well."
"That'll work; we ran this in parallel on the old systems while George was running his final post-install checkout." Seth replied. "I'll go ahead and finish the switchover to the new setup while we have a break, he's been bugging me about how antique the old equipment is since shortly after the rescue started."
"if you need anything, just yell." Helen said. "The rest of you, get cleaned up and head to the dining room."
"Okay Mom!" the boys replied in unison as they scrambled out of their seats.
Seth watched with a grin as they evacuated the room. He was actually quite impressed with how the group had formed into a team that he knew he could count on to give him the support he needed whenever an operation was in progress that needed HQ monitoring. While all of the core group in Orlando still took their turns in CIC, this particular group had taken it upon themselves to be the on-call team whenever Seth was on-duty. The decision had made things start running smoother, since each boy knew exactly what the other boys would be doing without asking.
"Hey George! You done testing out your new hardware yet?" Seth asked the newly-installed Headquarters AI as he began taking the old VI permanently offline.
"I finished that fifteen minutes ago; right now I'm going through all those pictures of Harry that you had stashed on the old drives. Five hundred forty seven baby pictures is kinda extreme, isn't it?" George replied.
"Bite me." Seth replied with a blush. "Grandma Lizzy asked me to keep them safe."
"Sure; keep telling yourself that...." George teased. He paused, then seriously added "Incoming call from Des Moines Division; Director Hernandez on terminal five."
Seth spun his wheelchair to face the proper terminal. "Activate, George."
"You're live.... perv!" George giggled. "Recording."
The terminal came to life, and Seth found himself looking at not only Julio, but also a blond kid who looked to be about eleven. Seth could swear he was able to feel the boy's nervousness, which put him on edge and caused him to unconsciously hover his finger over the alert button. "Hey, how's the new division coming together Julio?" Seth asked.
"I'm going to strangle Justy next time I see him." Julio replied with a small grin. "You got George online yet?"
"Unfortunately, yes." Seth replied, his smile betraying his true feelings.
"Good... George, could you get the background info from Kerry and display it for Seth so we can save some time?"
"Auxiliary three, Seth." George stated. "Security set to standby status pending situational analysis."
Seth quickly scanned the information scrolling on the screen. "Shit... you've really dug up a hornets nest." he said with disgust. "You want to handle this? I'll sit on the side and monitor it for you, and I'll step in to help if you need it."
"Thanks; I think that will work. I wasn't sure how to handle this since it's in your area." Julio admitted.
"Don't worry about it; as long as you involve the people responsible for an area it's not an issue." Seth stated. "Is that Adam standing there behind you?"
"Yes; I really hope that this works out. He's felt like he was missing something all his life, and now I think we'll be able to help him find it."
"We will. How is yet to be seen, but it'll happen." Seth stated. "Double Trouble will kill me if I don't make sure that happens. Selling kids... I really feel sorry for the parents. Adam, you're gonna remember today forever; I'll make sure of that."
"Thanks, Sir." Adam replied softly.
Seth set his jaw. "Stand by; I'll pull you in once connection is established. George looked up the house; they have video capabilities, so I'm going all out."
Julio nodded, and Seth shifted his chair slightly. "Terminal six, George. Level Seven."
"Connecting, and Carrie is on standby for FYS if needed." George replied. "Naples Police frequencies on audible."
"Thank you." Seth said as he keyed a code into the terminal. "Let the dining room know that we're at internal condition yellow."
"They're grabbing their food and on their way in now." George replied.
Mark, Jeff, and Brian were in the middle of the floor in the family room, deep into a serious game of Monopoly. The three eleven year olds were obvious to almost everything as each did his best to beat his brothers. Jeff and Brian were the identical twins of the group, both with sandy blond hair and green eyes. Mark had a much lighter blond hair than his brothers, and had blue eyes that would grab you. They had received the game for their birthday, and were just getting the chance to try it out. The unusual part was the fact that a fourth place was set on the board, the money laid out neatly and the car token sitting untouched on the "go" square.
The boys were interrupted by the ringing of the terminal on the desk near the doorway. "Could one of you get that, please?" their mom asked from the kitchen. "I've got to get these cookies out."
"Sure Mom!" Mark yelled back as he bounced up. He keyed the answer sequence, and waited impatiently for the one second it took to synchronize security levels. "Holy Shit!" he muttered, just loud enough for his brothers to hear, which made them immediately look towards the screen, which said in large letters:
Family Clan Short of Vulcan
Official Business - Secure Call
This call will be recorded, acceptance
of the connection implies full consent
to FCSV use of information for purpose
of rescue or prosecution or other needs
at our sole discretion.
Mark reached up and accepted the call. "This is Mark." he stated as Seth appeared on the screen, boys carrying food scrambling for seats at consoles near Seth.
Seth kept his professional demeanor as he saw a mirror image of Adam answering the call. "Hello, Mark. I'm Seth with Family Clan Short Headquarters. Is you mother available? I have Director Hernandez from our Des Moines, Iowa division standing by to speak to her on an important family matter." As Seth finished, the screen split to show Julio's feed as well.
"Just a minu .... Oh ... my ... God ...." Mark stated, his eyes going wide as he saw the boy standing behind Julio.
Jeff and Brian spotted the same thing as Mark at the same time, and all three boys screamed MOOOOOOMMMM!!!!! at the top of their lungs in unison.
Nancy, the mother of the three boys, came running into the room, a spatula still in her hand from where she was removing the cookies from the pan. "What's wrong?" she asked, obviously worried about the emotional overload she heard in their voices. The three speechless boys just pointed at the screen, their eyes all glued on the boy standing behind Julio.
Nancy looked at the screen, and her eyes flew open. Seth softy asked "Mrs. Nancy Morrison?"
"Yes ... sorry, this can't be real... I never expected...."
Seth smiled. "We're Clan Short, reality is just an inconvenience. The young man on the other side of the screen is Director Julio Hernandez, Family Clan Short Des Moines. If you're ready, I'll let you two talk, but I'll be here if you have any questions Julio can't answer."
Nancy nodded, her head seeming to clear from the initial shock. "Please, my husband needs to be here for this. I'm a mother, and I know what I'm seeing. Excuse me for just a second."
Captain Frank Morrison smiled as he watched the Chief of Police, Gary Hubbell, once again put the mayor in his place about how police resources were to be used throughout the city. After one of his sons had vanished from the hospital shortly after birth, the offer to join the Naples Police force was a Godsend, it had probably saved his sanity. He had been pleased to find that the leadership was no-nonsense, a trait which carried on to this day.
"Frank, what are your thoughts on the boardwalk coverage?" Gary asked.
"I think that our current plan is working quite well; the spotter and standby on the pier while a team runs north and another runs south has worked for years. Cutting our forces on the beach would cause an increase in crimes with nobody available to respond. We have one of the safest beaches on the Gulf Coast; I don't like the thought of risking that."
"Mr. Mayor, I believe that answers your request. We're not reducing our manpower on the beach just so you can put gardens in the medians. The safety of our residents and guests is our priority, and we will not bend on that."
Just as the mayor was about to respond, Frank's phone activated, sounding the unique ringtone that was triggered when select people remotely overrode the silence function. Frank immediately pulled the phone from his shirt pocket and activated it. "What's wrong?" he asked as the room fell silent.
"Get your butt home, Clan Short is on our terminal... THEY FOUND OUR MISSING SON!!!" Nancy said loud enough for everyone to hear.
Frank dropped his phone on the table in shock. Gary quickly picked it up. "He'll be right there, Nancy. The meeting is over, NOW." Gary closed the phone, then pulled out his radio. "Attention all units. Attention all units. We have a Code 923 for Captain Morrison. All non-occupied units stand by for a rolling roadblock."
Gary let the dispatcher take care of acknowledgements as he grabbed Frank's arm and escorted him out of the room. He saw one of the Highway detail preparing to leave the office, and flagged him down. "Jack, you mind firing up the intercepter for a Code 923?" Gary asked, his tone suggesting that a no answer was not going to be accepted.
Joe took one look at Frank's face, and immediately dropped everything but his keys. "What are you waiting for, Chief? Let's roll."
Seth was all smiles as he watched Jesse and Julio work to help the family through the first steps of reunion. After Frank had arrived at his house, the two boys had transported to Florida with Julio's little brother Johnny to perform the required telepathic scans prior to full custody transfer. Adam, the boy who had been standing behind Julio, had met his brothers and parents and had just left the room with Mark when Seth's attention was drawn away by an announcement on the police radio channel for Naples, which he had forgot to tell George to disconnect.
"Attention all officers who participated in the recent rolling roadblock. This is the Mayor. As of this moment each of you are hereby suspended without pay pending a judicial review of your insubordinate actions. As this affects the Chief of Police as well as the entire Command staff of the Department, I will be assuming control of Public Safety and will be arranging for private companies to assume your duties due to the fact that only two officers did not respond to the improper requests of the former Chief of Police. You have 12 hours to turn in your badge and equipment. That is all."
Seth quickly triggered the remote terminal at the Morrison's to PA mode, due to the Chief and most of the off-duty police force being there to celebrate their Captain's reunion with his son. "Everyone stand by and disregard the Mayor's transmission until I get back to you." Seth growled. "He just fucked with the wrong people with the wrong organization watching. I'll be back."
Seth slammed his hand on the mute, then announced "George, give me the Gov's private hotline." He then twisted his head, "Guys, go hot! I want us to be able to take communications control the second we're told we've got the ball. Monitor the hotlines, if needed call Uncle John's men to fill in until we've restored public safety."
"We're on it, Seth." Gabe announced. "Trav, Andy, take 911. I'll inform the State Police of the situation and that we are redirecting all calls to their call center."
As the boys scrambled to assist their Naples neighbors, George was talking to Seth.
"You got it, Seth. Save something for Brant to snack on though; you know how he hates it when they bleed to death after you get done reaming them a new asshole."
"I'll think about it." Seth replied. "Terminal 12."
"Connecting now, Seth."
A few seconds later, the Governor appeared on the screen wearing a tee-shirt and jogging shorts. "Hello Seth. Considering the line you used, I'm assuming this isn't Tommy needing another of my wife's recipes?"
Seth shook his head. "Not even close, Gov. We are in the process of reuniting the Captain of the Naples Police Department with his son, who was stolen from the hospital at birth. The Captain and the Chief of Police were in a conference with the Mayor when we contacted them, and the Chief of Police made a command decision to get his Captain home safely and quickly for the reunion. The problem that you need to be aware of is the actions of the Mayor after his meeting was cut short."
"I'm starting to get a bad feeling here... go ahead."
"This transmission was sent over the Naples police radio approximately four minutes ago." Seth stated. Without prompting, George replayed the radio traffic. Seth could see the blood pressure of the Governor rising as the transmission played through.
"Stand by, Seth." he growled. A few seconds later, a side panel appeared on the screen, quickly filling with the faces of Florida State representatives. After having Seth repeat his explanation of events and replay the transmission, the Governor stated "I will not stand for a public official putting an entire city at risk to flex his muscles. In addition, there is no provision in Florida law that I'm aware of that allows private companies to perform public safety functions."
Ray DuPreie, the Collier County Senate representative, interrupted him. "Sir, with all due respect, I must tell you that the exact wording of the law is that 'Within the boundaries of the State of Florida, no entity which is registered as a for-profit Corporation within or external to the State shall be contracted or otherwise engaged by any political body to provide primary public safety functions as defined by the State Legislature.' Based on this, I hereby request that a 'State of Emergency' be declared for the City of Naples and surrounding incorporated and unincorporated areas."
"I second the request and move that it be placed to vote without debate." the Orange County Representative stated.
Two minutes later, Naples and the surrounding area were declared under a State of Emergency; five minutes later the Mayor was, unknown to him, stripped of his powers. Ray once again addressed the group. "With all due respect to the fine persons who provide public safety functions in the State, I believe that our current forces would be stretched thin trying to cover this area, and quite honestly I am inclined to agree with the recent actions of the Governor of Nevada. He has given the Las Vegas Division of Clan Short jurisdiction over a problem area station due to corruption within the former staff. The Naples Police are an important backup to our State forces in the apprehension of children being used as mules by the drug trade, seeing as Naples is one of the two southern ports preferred by the drug lords for entry into our State. As the State of Florida has officially recognized Family Clan Short as a political entity within our boundaries and we have already included them in our Emergency Response protocols, I hereby request that Clan Short be approached for assuming management and organizational control over the law enforcement needs of the Naples area. In addition, I request a Governmental Decree reinstating existing Naples Police personnel to active status with all fraudulent charges filed by the soon-to-be former Mayor being dismissed."
"Come on kids, It's time to eat." Diane Mercer called out into the Pod. Her answer was the sound of five running kids; all simultaneously charging down the steps, sliding around the corner in the common area, and charging into the kitchen. They all lived on the fourth level of the Unit base, in one of the smaller six bedroom pods, yet to all of them it was the best home that they could ever dream of.
Diane and her husband Tony had come to the Unit base over a week ago to try to help out. Tony was a software engineer who could do his work anywhere, and Diane had been a Law office Secretary. When she told her boss what they were thinking about, Mr. Dixon wished her well, and told her that if she ever needed anything from her old boss, all she had to do was call.
The two of them had always wanted children, but unfortunately, when Diane was much younger, at the tender age of seven, her 'loving' uncle had robbed her of that ability, permanently. When the news broke about the Clan, and then the Unit, and the fact that the Unit needed parents to help protect, love, and raise abused kids, Diane and Tony jumped at the chance. Since then, they had never been happier.
The first boy to round the corner and come into the kitchen was also the initial boy they met when they first arrived in the base. Trent Jacobs was a scared little boy, housed in the body of a fifteen year old. His former father had made sure that Trent knew his entire life just how worthless and unwanted he really was. Nothing the boy could do would please the man. Trent grew up not knowing what love really was, and since he wasn't 'good enough' to do anything right, he never developed the normal teen friendships. Thankfully an observant teacher noticed the signs of trouble in Trent's demeanor, and called the Clan the instant he was aware of them. In the little more then a week that Trent had spent with is new family, he had already made major progress in his move from a scared little boy to a confident young man.
The next two arrivals, Steve and Dustin, were both thirteen and boyfriends. Neither Tony nor Diane had a problem with that, especially since Tony's brother was also gay. The boy's new Uncle Rob had been a huge help in guiding the two teens in their relationship, answering questions that stumped Diane and Tony.
They were both good looking blond boys. The first one to slide in, Steve, had bright green eyes, and although he was the smaller of the two he was by far the more assertive. The larger of the two, Dustin, sported bright blue eyes and the classic 'skater' body type. Diane had never seen love between two people so young before, but all anyone had to do was watch the two boy's eyes when they looked at each other, and it was obvious just how much they loved each other.
Carter and Connie were next, the blood-related pair giggling as they tried to keep up with their big brothers. Carter represented the typical fun loving all American nine year old boy, full of energy, and even more mischief. His seven year old sister, Connie, seemed almost as bad, but in different ways. She was the little princess that Tony had always wanted, and he fussed over her in ways that just made everyone else laugh.
Rounding out the herd was the love of her life, Tony. Tony Mercer was a large man, with an even larger heart of gold. Even though he was every bit the geek that a software engineer has to be, he was also very well built, and kept himself in shape with his constant triathlon training. Tony and Diane met in college, and it was love almost instantly. By the time they graduated, they were already married, and working towards making a life for themselves. They had talked seriously about adopting, but just hadn't taken the time to do it yet. Now, in less then a week, their little family grew by five, and they weren't looking back.
Dinner was just about over when a soft chime sounded in the kitchen area; even though it hadn't happened often, they all knew it meant that someone wanted to speak to the people in the room. All conversation ended, as they waited to see who needed them. After a second of silence, Daileass's voice came over the speakers. "Sorry to interrupt your dinner, but there is something that is going on that I think Steve really needs to be made aware of."
Steve sighed and looked up towards the ceiling speakers. "Are we being activated again Daileass?"
Both Steve and Dustin had gone through the Unit's military training that had taken place on the Tardis, Dustin opting to learn medical, while Steve found out that he had a knack for long range shooting. They had both participated in the rescue of the Genesis base, and then had entered into the UNIT's 'reserve program'. While both boys liked what they were trained to do, it wasn't something they wanted to do all the time. Knowing that there were a lot of kids who felt the same way, Adam developed the reserve program. The program consisted of attending three days of refresher training a month, along with being on standby for emergencies. So far they had only been activated twice, and both boys were really happy with the combination of military life and civilian freedom.Tony and Diane were naturally worried when the boys went out on missions, but they were also immensely proud of them and never forgot to show it.
"Not this time Steve... This actually has to do with your former father." Daileass replied, expecting an explosion due to what he knew of Steve's previous situation.
Steve had just picked up a piece of the garlic bread that Diane had made to go with the spaghetti that she had made for dinner. However, the second that Daileass mentioned Steve's father, the piece of garlic bread in his hand crushed. "What did he do THIS time..." Steve growled out with more anger and hatred then anyone, save for Dustin, had ever seen in the usually fun loving boy.
Daileass's voice was equally as serious in his response. "Let's say he really stepped in it this time. Can I transport you to the Control Room. It will be easier to explain there."
Steve thought for a moment before he stood up. "Only if my REAL family can come along."
Dustin was immediately out of his seat, standing next to Steve, followed quickly by the rest of them. "If they want to come along, they are more than welcome." Daileass said, inwardly smiling at the family unity he was seeing.
Tony was the first one to speak. "If there is something going on with one of 'my' sons, they I willbe involved." Steve couldn't help letting his bad mood slip and a smile radiate across his face as his 'dad' spoke up.
"Okay, get ready..." Daileass said, and less then a second later, all seven of them were standing in the middle of the Utah control room.
Quickly walking up to them was one of the Logan clones. "Hey guys, I'm Sgt. Gabe Hayes, lead Intel Officer on duty." he stated as he stuck his hand out, first for Tony to shake, then for the rest. "Let me give you a run down of what is going on. About three hours ago, The Des Monies division got some interesting information that reunited a couple of siblings. Adam was one of the boys rescued by them, and his biological family lives in Naples, Florida. Steve, you and Dustin are very familiar with that area if I am not mistaken."
"You could say that." Steve said darkly, before turning to his new family. "Long story short, my ex-dad is the mayor of Naples." Even though both Tony and Diane wanted to gasp, they kept their emotions in check.
"Right..." Gabe said, getting them back on track. "Adam's father is a Captain in the Naples police force, and was in a meeting with the Chief of Police and your father, when the call came in. My understanding is that your father didn't take kindly to the meeting being ended early, simply because the Captain's son was found."
"Doesn't surprise me. If something wasn't in the best interest of keeping his rich and powerful friends around, he didn't care." Steve said as he watched the main view screen at the front of the room. It was quickly filling up with people who seemed to be talking back and forth, although there was no sound yet.
"Seth, the guy in charge of CIC in Orlando, overheard your father go off the deep end and fire every single police officer, save for two, because they helped Captain Morrison." Gabe said.
"Oh Shit...." Steve said quietly.
"Yeah. Well your 'ex-father' really put his foot in his mouth on this one. Seth is very good friends with the Governor of Florida; He's the man in the upper left hand part of the screen, and you could say that he took exception to the firing. We're not sure yet how this will involve you, if at all, but I figured you may want to watch as the Mayor gets his balls chopped off." Gabe finished, grinning as he mentally told Daileass to turn the sound back on.
The sound came back on, just as Seth started to play the radio dispatch that the Mayor had sent out. Tony looked over at Steve just in time to hear his new son mutter "Arrogant prick." As much as he would like to chastise Steve for his choice of words, he couldn't help but agree with him.
Once the recording was over, the Governor spoke first. "I will not stand for a public official putting an entire city at risk to flex his muscles. In addition, there is no provision in Florida law that I'm aware of that allows private companies to perform public safety functions."
"Oh if you only knew some of the things he's done." Steve said a little louder then he'd expected. That got a few curious looks from those around him, but most just stayed quiet and listened to the exchange that was happening.
Tony had expected another outburst from Steve when it was said that the Mayor had been stripped of power, but when he looked, all he saw was a satisfied grin on the boy's face.
"OH SHIT!" Gabe said out loud when the state legislature voted unanimously to ask the Clan to take over the police force in Naples.
"Ohhh... can I go practice my Police brutality on my sperm donor?" Steve asked hopefully.
"Steve..." Diane said in a warning tone, which immediately shut Steve up.
"Headquarters to Unit CIC; who all you got in the room, Gabe?" Seth's voice announced over the speaker.
"Well Seth.... As usual, you're a bit slow. I got a surprise for everyone." Gabe said as he saw the light indicating that the cameras were active. "With me I have the Mercer Family. Tony and Diane are the parents, followed by their eldest son, Trent, the two in the middle are Steve and Dustin, then Carter and Connie." With a flare for the dramatic, Gabe stepped over, threw his arm around Steve's shoulders, and pulled him a few steps forward. "The one that you will be most interested in is Steve here. His full title is actually Lt. Steven Mercer, second in command of Reserve Strike Team Typhoon, as well as a fully certified sniper. He has been awarded the Combat Action medal for his participation in live fire combat rescue missions. He has also earned a Purple Heart, and a Distinguished Service Medal." Steve blushed deeply, but he also saw looks of respect and admiration come from the others on the call.
"Now all of that is cool, but the things that make him interesting to this conversation is that he has taken more then a few optional classes that deal with proper interaction with local law enforcement, and has said that he might like to be a police officer when he grows up." Gabe said, and could see many of the people on the screen nodding, and smiling, as they realized that this would most likely be the person they would be dealing with.
Gabe's love for the dramatic came out in a big way now. "Oh... and one more thing I forgot to mention. He is also the son of the soon to be former Mayor of Naples, Florida."
The Governor laughed out loud. "Seth, by any chance have you been giving drama lessons on the side?"
"I have no idea what you might be talking about, Sir." Seth replied, putting on his best angel impression.
Gabe laughed, but thought it best not to say anything. Angering Seth was never a good thing to do in the best of circumstances. Not that Seth would ever do anything to hurt Gabe, but Seth had a way of making people's lives hell if he wanted to.
Seth's voice became serious, and it suddenly became very clear why he held the position in the Clan which he did. "Governor, this call is being recorded by multiple AI systems, and Clan Short hereby notifies you that all communications from this point shall be legally binding under Federal, League, and Federation law. I require not only yourself, but each member of your legislature present to either accept these conditions or disconnect from the call."
The voting system came to life, and almost as one the background on every single representative took on a green tint. The Governor nodded. "The State of Florida hereby acknowledges entry into a binding agreement with Family Clan Short of Vulcan. All Legislature members present have signaled their agreement with an 'Aye' vote." He paused to collect his thoughts, then continued. "As a result of the State of Emergency declared by the Legislature of Florida in the Naples, Florida region, and by unanimous vote via teleconference, as authorized by Legislative vote and Florida Statutes I hereby ratify Emergency Response Bill 2004.11.100 as submitted. As stipulated in said bill, I hereby request Clan Short of Vulcan to assume managerial duties of the public safety departments in Naples and surrounding designated areas. Clan Short shall have full responsibility for maintaining law enforcement, and shall have access to same in their mission to protect youth."
Seth nodded. "Clan Short accepts the contract as stated, and reserves the right to specify more detailed requirements once the situation at the location has been evaluated. We require a vocal acceptance of these conditions; our systems are capable of separating channels to ensure each vote is recorded properly."
About thirty seconds later, Seth had visual and vocal confirmation from each of the Florida attendees. "Thank you; this contract is accepted by Clan Short. Please stand by while I begin our response to the situation in Naples."
Seth turned his head to the monitor which gave a direct feed to the Unit CIC. "Lt. Steven Mercer, front and center."
Steve took two steps forward, went to attention, and saluted. "General?"
"Are you aware of the situation in Naples, Florida, Lieutenant?"
"Yes sir." Steve answered.
"I will give you the first opportunity due to your history. Are you willing to activate your commission and accept indefinite Active Duty status assigned to Clan Headquarters Enforcement, with a duty station of Naples, Florida?"
"I do on one condition sir, and that is that my real family gets to join me." Steve said seriously. Immediately Tony looked to Diane, who nodded her assent.
"Steve, we're with you if you want to do this." Tony said quietly.
Steve turned fully to Seth and nodded. "Sir, I accept the reactivation."
"Acceptance noted. Sergeant Hayes, log it. Assemble your team, Lieutenant; I expect you to report to me in person fifteen minutes from now with a roster. You and those on your team are authorized to use the Clan Emergency Relocation services as necessary for your personal effects."
"Understood sir." Steve said, then popped a crisp salute, turned on his heel, and strode out of the room.
Seth turned his head back to the other screen, inwardly smiling as he saw the amazed expressions on most of the faces on the screen. "I must be going, I have assumed temporary command of the Naples police department pending arrival of our staff in approximately thirty minutes. Thank you to each of you."
The Governor nodded. "Thank you Seth; I believe you could very well have averted a few tragedies today. I speak for all of us when I say we really do appreciate the assistance Clan Short has provided to Florida." With that, the screen went dark, and Seth's crew began the procedures they had rehearsed many times for the possibility of being activated in the Florida Emergency Network.
"I have communications." Andy announced. "All channels scrambled with new seed, selective remote reprogram of mobile radios successful."
"George, you have 911 on channels 247 through 523" Travis added.
"Seth, Southeast North America Starfleet Security alerted. Response teams scrambled and monitoring secure channels." Alec quickly added to the reports.
Seth nodded. "Great job guys; monitor the situation down there while I work on getting our staff in place. If you see anything that needs done, just do it."
"Gotcha!" the team responded in unison as they began checking for fallout from the announcement over the police frequencies made by the mayor.
"George," Seth said after thinking a second, "monitor the mayor... if he tries to vanish, lock him down. He has an appointment with his son that he's attending whether he wants to or not."
"I'm looking forward to seeing this!" George giggled. "I've took over the feeds into his scanner as well as all communications into the building... the Don over in Vegas is taking his calls right now!"
"I like the way that you think!" Seth laughed. "Let me know if anything pops up that could interest me."
Less then ten minutes later, a small group of people appeared in the middle of the CIC. One of the boys, a smallish thirteen year old with blond hair and bright green eyes took a step towards Seth, then snapped a salute. "Lt. Steven Mercer reporting as ordered sir."
Seth returned the salute before looking at his watch. "Not bad, you're learning." he said with a smile.
"What can I say?" Steve said with a grin. "I got a dinner date with my dad, I wouldn't wanna make him wait." The innocence dripping from his voice made everyone in the room giggle.
Once everyone had calmed down, Steve got a bit more serious. "With your permission sir, I'd like to introduce you to my team."
Seth nodded, then sat back. Knowing what he did about Steve, this should prove to be very interesting. "First off," Steve started, "My family will be joining us once we have things under control. I figure by tomorrow morning we should be moving our things into my former fathers second home."
Again Seth nodded, so Steve turned to the group that came with him. First is my partner, and second in command for this operation, as well as chief medical officer, Second LT. Dustin Mercer." Seth nodded and held out his hand for Dustin to shake. After he did, Dustin stepped back and Steve moved to the next member of the team. "Next is Corporal Jax Davies." Steve said as he indicated the smallish cheetah hybrid. "He's physically eleven years old, trained in wilderness tracking and survival as well as the normal UNIT Assault Team training."
Seth raised his eyebrow at that one. Those who have earned the right to be a part of an Assault Team were highly coveted. They were the best of the best that the Unit had to offer, and rarely were they not assigned to Assault Teams.
"Then there's Frank Graves." Steve said as he moved to the next member of his team. Seth chuckled as he immediately noticed the yellow eyes that denotes a vampire. "Frank here is the night time half of the Drug Task force. Between him and Jax, they're gonna shut down Alligator Alley."
"Finally there's Fatinah Das. She's thirteen and one of Aiden's group. She volunteered to come and help with the administration side of things." Steve paused and turned fully to Seth. "Donnie has said I have access to more if I need them, but for now, I thought a small team would be good to get a feel of what's going on, and then figure out what I need once we figure out what we'll need to do."
Seth grinned as he snapped his fingers. "Not bad at all, but I think you missed one. Don't worry, you wouldn't have access to this guy to recruit him." Seth paused. "George, file Charlie Tango Fifty, authorization Un63V2oYtv88. Activate him, tell him to report to me in full gear."
"Ummm... opening file...." George replied. "Oh shit! For someone who likes working shirtless, you sure have a lot stuffed up your sleeves!"
Steve simply nodded to Seth. He didn't like the idea of someone he didn't know being put into a command team, but one, it didn't look like he had a choice, and two, this was one of those times he'd just have to trust someone. Deciding he better get some more information, Steve asked his next question. "Do we have a duty Station yet, or will we figure that out when we get there?"
"I figured that you'd probably be able to determine the best location. You know the area better than I do, even with the intel I've got here." Seth replied seriously. "George has one office area in the historical district tagged for you to use however you wish; it was donated to the Clan when a gentlemen from Cyrus Three had to return to his home for a family emergency. He thought it was a fair gift due to the help we gave him with arranging transport."
Steve nodded thoughtfully for a moment, then spoke. "Well why don't we see what's going on, on the ground. We'll start at the Police Headquarters, have a chat with the Chief, and then go an execute an arrest warrant." Steve said the last part with a grin. "If it's okay with you, I'll start by giving daily reports at 0900 and 1700, just to keep you appraised of whats going on. You'll also get a written report by no later then noon on the previous day's activities. I expect things will get messy for a bit, but once the drug runners learn they can't use Naples any more, things should calm down."
"That sounds like a good plan." Seth replied.
Just then, a small boy in a green cloak appeared next to Seth. Due to the hood being pulled over his head and the looseness of the floor-length cloak, no real details could be observed by those looking at him.
"Hello, Adrian." Seth said with a grin. "How was your vacation?"
"Okay." the boy replied in a very quiet voice. "I didn't have to deal with anyone trying to make friends to get in good with my parents for once."
Steve raised an eyebrow, his interest peaked, but still didn't know enough to make any decisions yet.
"You don't need the cloak in here Adrian." Seth prodded. "I'm assigning you to this team. They're working an area you're quite familiar with."
"No shit." Adrian replied with a hint of a giggle. "You of all people should know that I'd know that already!"
"Bite me, Rat." Seth replied. "I've known where you were all along; now that you're done draining George of all the info on the mission, show yourself."
"Okay, spoilsport!" Adrian replied. A few seconds later, a nine year boy with long blond hair made himself known next to Steve and the hooded figure vanished from their sight. "Hi Stevie!" Adrian giggled, his green eyes sparkling with amusement.
"Gentlemen, as Steve already knows, I would like to introduce you to Adrian Parker Jobs, codename 'Rat'." Seth laughed. "When he's not screwing with people's heads, he's just as much a computer geek as his Dad."
"Oh boy." Steve muttered to himself. "This is gonna make things interesting." He turned to Adrian with a somewhat forced smile. "It's good to see you again. I take it you've been fully briefed?"
Adrian nodded. "Yes, Daileass gave me the full briefing, and then I caught up on the latest developments while you guys were looking at thin air."
Steve smiled slightly. "Okay, that means I won't have to bring you up to speed. I guess we'll figure out what part you're gonna play later on. For now, I think we'd better get down there and see whats going on."
"Steve?" Adrian asked. "I think before we go, since you're the team commander I probably better brief you on just what I'm on Seth's 'special' list for. Knowing the way Clan and Unit operations go, I don't want to surprise you by having to do something before I can tell you about it. I kinda hid a lot from you when all of us kids got shuffled off so the politicians could try to get money out of the parents."
"Okay?" Steve said hesitantly. "Do you wanna do that here or when we're set up down there?"
"Knowing Naples and the mess your ex-sperm donor has made over the years, here might be better." Adrian giggled. "You're not the only one who knows just about everything he did."
"Oh?" Steve asked somewhat surprised, but not really. Adrian had always been one of the more intelligent kids that he'd dealt with. Not like some of the others who only sucked up to him, or tried to be a hanger on.
Adrian nodded with a grin. "Being what Seth calls a 'surface telepath' helped me a lot; he was always thinking of his next semi-criminal act or gloating over what he'd just done. The only reason I didn't say anything is that he'd have blamed you, and I like you so I wasn't gonna let him take his stupidity out on you."
"That makes sense. Until I got rescued by the UNIT, I didn't think there was anything that could have been done about what his assholeishness was doing." Steve gave a lopsided grin. "By the way... I trust I don't have to worry about you telling other people what I was thinking about back then?"
"I try not to even think about that; I'm only nine!" Adrian giggled. "Besides, I think you hid the really good stuff deep! Seth had the Double J's take a look at me when Dad suggested that I help the Clan. They said I'm a weird telepath; I can't look deep, but I am almost as strong as them reading the surface and just a little stronger than them affecting the surface. That goes with the fun stuff I can do I guess."
Steve laughed loudly. "I guess that means you didn't know what I was thinking about when I was thinking about the wipes, and ropes and Dustin.... And well..." Steve grinned at Dustin's blush. "Anyways... another telepath will be good to have. Once we know what's going on, I'll fill you in on what we need you to do." Steve gave a somewhat evil grin. "Understand, I plan on shaking things up big time in the next few hours. There's gonna be a lot of arrests made, and I think Jax and Frank are going to feed well for many months." Steve laughed as both Jax and Frank licked their lips.
"Oh," Adrian said with a grin, "to answer your question, Frank; Seth made sure I was fully trained as soon as he found out my favorite mind toy!"
Frank raised his eyebrow in surprise. "Impressive. I think you and I could have some real fun together."
Seth was watching with amusement as Adrian had his fun. "You know, Rat, you probably should tell them your primary skill sometime today."
"Yeah... I gotta a dinner date soon, and Frank gets cranky if he has to wait." Steve said with a chuckle.
Suddenly each of the team found themselves looking at exact duplicates of all of them, each acting just like the real person. "I can do this!" each of them seemed to say, all in the voice of the person they represented.
Steve didn't respond right away, but slowly an evil grin began to spread across his face. He was silent for a few seconds as the rest of his team was exclaiming at what they were seeing. Finally Steve held up his hand, and everyone feel silent. His eyes were locked on Adrian, even though he was speaking to Seth. "Sir, I think it's time for us to leave. We have a mission to accomplish, and someone to 'deal' with."
"Rex and I are ready!" Adrian added as the illusions vanished and a phasenmorph became visible on his arm. "Just so you guys all know, I'm qualified in energy and ballistic defensive weapons, so you ain't gonna have to worry about protecting the weird rich kid!" he added with a giggle.
Steve grinned, having already been updated by Daileass on the rest of the surprises the innocent-looking blond boy next to him had hidden behind his green eyes. "This is turning into something I'm really going to enjoy. Team, prepare to deploy!"
"Have fun!" Seth replied with a grin. "I'll be down to check to see how well you remember how to operate your swamp boat later this week. You guys have full access to George for any assistance that you need."
Steve nodded, then stated "George, Naples Police Headquarters please."
"The Chief of Police will be slightly delayed, but you guys can get setup while you're waiting. From the comments I've monitored him making, I believe he would like to be a witness to your 'family reunion'." George stated. "If you wish, I can coordinate with him to allow you time to retrieve your primary target before he heads into the station."
"Thanks George; as soon as I see what the station situation is, we'll go from there." Steve replied. "Deploy!"
As the team vanished from the room, Seth turned to Gabe. "Monitor the station, if they get pinned down I want every person responsible hanging from a meat hook."
Gabe shook his head with a grin. "You know, Dan holds classes on anger management!" he giggled.
"I have no problem managing my anger." Seth laughed. "Other people have problems with how I manage it though...."
"They don't live long enough to get a chance to!" Travis giggled.
"Y'all can bite me!" Seth laughed as he returned his attention to the screen monitoring the house in Naples.
After realizing that George had shifted video feed to the dining room, his smile returned as he saw that Adam had returned and was opening a huge pile of presents with the assistance of his brothers, obviously stocked up from birthdays long gone going by the age-inappropriate items that were arranged carefully in front of him. "I'm sorry to interrupt," Seth said softly, noticing that most of the police force was still there and watching the event, "I have just returned from a conference with the State Legislature. As of this moment, I am assuming command over the Naples Police Department pending arrival of permanent Clan Short Staff as provided under the State of Emergency declared for Collier County. As of this moment, you are all reactivated as Law Enforcement agents in Naples and any charges or grievances filed by the Mayor are hereby nullified."
Gary turned his head in shock. "Oh crap... where does that place me?"
Seth smiled. "Running the everyday operations of your department, like always. You're all back on-duty, and in thirty minutes or less full communications will be restored. Until that time, I will be using Clan resources to provide dispatch services. I have access to all of your personal communication devices, so dispatch will not be hindered by the actions of local persons associated with the Mayor; all incoming lines to the Dispatch Center are being redirected here. Frank? You are on paid personal leave until such time as you decide how to move on from this point."
"Thank you." Frank replied, obviously shifting his gaze to Adam. "I believe you will know my plans just as soon as Director Hernandez files his report.
It's only fitting that this chapter appears on the tenth anniversary of Memories. That's right, ten years and I'm nowhere near done yet! I must thank Akeentia, Roland, and The Eggman for their input into this chapter; this small event is giving life to a whole new series of storylines! If you haven't already, check out the various other stories of the CSU - While I was able to cover this side of the rescues in Michigan, there is a lot more to it! As of this time, this one event has touched Eric 382, CSV-DSM part 2, Clan Short Pacific Rim Division, Phoenix Rising, Jigsaw, and even Nightfall! (Believe it or not, you're going to learn something new on each stories coverage of how their particular part of this rescue played out!)
Thank you for ten years of fun and support! I look forward to even more fun in the future!