Julio, Jesse, and Benny staggered into the family room, still suffering from the stress of the previous night and the fitful sleep it resulted in.
"Daddy! Poppa, Pops!" Terry exclaimed as he jumped up, ran over, and grabbed the first hands he could attach to, "C'mon! Unca Colin is gettin' irrigatored!"
"Inaugurated, little bro!" Riley and Reese giggled in unison.
"Yeah, what they said!" Terry giggled.
Their sons homed in on them to ensure that their parents had prime seats for the show. As soon as Julio, Jesse, and Benny were seated, they found themselves being cuddled by the entire family, with even Fyhrr taking a spot behind the sofa to 'shade' his foster parents.
Once each of the boys took their turn with hugs, and Terry was securely in his place of honor on Julio's lap, with Felix and Lyle sharing Jesse and Benny's laps as well, the family turned their attention to the ceremony that was in progress.
"... to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God." Colin Powell finished, his right hand on a Bible and his left held in midair.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the President of the United States," the Justice intoned as the cameras zoomed in to capture Colin's first official words as President.
After moving to the podium that was waiting, Colin glanced at the teleprompter as he began. "My fellow Americans," he stated before pausing, then ripping the teleprompter out of the podium and tossing it on the beach. "Whoever wrote that shit needs to go back to preschool!" he exclaimed before starting over.
Ignoring the off-camera snickers of his PRD security, he looked directly at the cameras as he ignored any prepared speeches and spoke from the heart. "Today, I have taken a position which I never planned on striving for. The lives lost that made today possible should have never happened, and if I have a damn thing to say about it, it will never happen again. To those who had the balls to attack Earth, I speak for all of Humanity when I say 'Paybacks are a bitch'! This has become personal, and the forces that are taking the fight into the home of the scum who tried to take us out are already on a seek-and-destroy mission; I highly doubt there will be anything to turn over to the Federation when they are done.
"Before I go any further, I need to thank each and every citizen of the United States who stood up in our time of peril and fought no matter where they were in the world. Thank you also to the members of the Armed Forces, who found themselves in a position they never trained for and still came out on top. All of you deserve recognition, and I'm damn sure going to find a way to do it. There is one group that I'm going to recognize right now, one group that stepped up to the surprise of everyone, DESPITE everything they have went through."
"If you remember the news a while back, there was a para-military attack on a family in Montana after they were acquitted in a court case and were returning home. At that time, the group of youth that go by the name 'Clan Short' stepped up to help the family, and in the process exposed a major threat to our way of life. To say they were not initially prepared for the scale of the attack is an understatement; but you stepped up and gave them the support they needed when it mattered most."
"On November Fifth, Two Thousand and Four, Family Clan Short paid the world back ... with interest. The core officers of the Clan kept the United Kingdom from being wiped out. Without any guidance from those same core members, the Divisions which have formed within the group stepped up and proved that they deserved the help that they had been given. Some examples of how they took the help they received and used it to ensure victory are as follows, and I'm damn sure there is a hell of a lot more that I'm not aware of."
"To start the list, their Northeast Division was visiting Washington DC to sort out a problem they were having with local authorities. Thanks to them, the ship that tried to wipe out the Capitol found itself being redirected out to sea, and they then managed to evacuate the surviving Government to a secure location where they were not in danger. While doing that, they initiated an evacuation plan that has the adults of countless emergency services still scratching their heads as they try to figure out how it was pulled off. Not satisfied with that scale of confusion, they are also one of the two Divisions which provided endpoints for refugees."
"The next group goes by the designation 'Alligator Alley', and I can personally tell you that their bite is damn sure worse than their bark. The Division literally came online with the issuance of the Terran Call, but that didn't stop them from making their mark. The first thing you need to know about them is that the CIA would have hired them if the Clan hadn't of got to them first; they are that good at Intel. Fortunately for us, they managed to break into the communications network of our Armed Forces just as the invaders were taking them down. They then took the resources which they had been given, and created a new world-wide network that worked around the jamming of the invaders, and allowed coordination between various forces to pass on what was working to defend ourselves."
"They didn't stop there. They organized a safe and secure closing of the financial markets, as well as taking on the immense job of coordinating the rescue and relief efforts of multiple organizations. Additionally, they were the designated final destination for the battleship Iowa, which was to be a memorial to those who lost their lives in defense of the Clan. Fortunately, the Clan had other ideas, and had made arrangements with the Federation to upgrade and keep the Iowa active instead of being mothballed as a memorial. Those arrangements allowed the ship to be credited with the kill of the redirected ship that Northeast Division had sent out to sea, thereby preventing the destruction of the East Coast. The crew of the Iowa took their cue from the members of Clan Short they had met, providing the primary rescue services to a cruise ship full of youth from Pennsylvania at the same time as they were taking out the attacking vessel."
"The Clan has multiple Divisions in the Central and Western States, and under the leadership of the Des Moines Division they spearheaded an effort which has provided safe and secure lodging for refugees while at the same time they ensured that their areas were kept safe. Des Moines provided the central intake and classification point for the Americas, coordinating tightly with local governments, other Clan Divisions, and numerous National Guard facilities to ensure that not only was every possible refugee helped, but that families were reunited as fast as possible. Their efforts allowed the other organizations to concentrate on the evacuation, knowing that they did not have to worry about where the refugees were going to be placed."
"While I don't have details, I have been told that the Divisions in Australia, Russia, and Wales were equally effective, making use of their own resources as well as world-wide Clan resources to ensure victory for Earth. The Clan Special Forces provided assistance in more places than I can list without violating security protocols. All of those actions are either completed or winding down, with one exception; they have taken the attack on their homeworld personally and are not willing to wait for others to sort things out. As we speak, an elite group of Earth's finest, led by the founding members of the Clan's Special Forces, have left Earth's orbit and are enroute to do some inter-universal house cleaning."
"In an attack of this scale, more people are disabled than are killed. Normally, we would be dealing with the after-effects for years, slowly fitting assistive devices to injured persons as they come available. A while back, there was a company called Vision Industries who created androids so good that they became self-aware. Thanks to a rescue done by Clan Short, the original youth android, who had become the caretaker of the assets of the company, was empowered by them to use his medical knowledge. This medical knowledge all Vision Industries android people were programmed with as part of their core program, and Marc has continually updated it as new discoveries are made. He is now the Medical Director of the main Clan medical center in South Carolina. His work to expand the technology used in androids to assist injured Clan members, technology expansion that under current Earth laws was only possible because of Diplomatic Immunity that came with being part of a Vulcan Clan, has ensured that as many people with physical body damage as possible are already returning to a normal life. His work gives patients fully-functional replacements for severed limbs, and from what I understand they can even work around some spinal damage. He didn't ask, he just did what any doctor who takes his oath seriously would do - he provided the necessary medical procedures to give injured citizens their normal lives back. As with any other intervention the Clan does, it was done at no charge with no strings attached."
"The last Division I'll mention is right here with us today. The invaders attacked every single safe-point that was designated in the case of destruction of the Capitol. I was airborne when the attack started, and redirected to the closest place that wasn't being attacked. That happened to be the Republic of Hawaii, which seemed to be a good choice due to us being aware that Clan Special Forces have a Rapid Response Base located here, as well as a Division."
"The Pacific Rim Division didn't even blink an eye; by the time I landed they had already arranged a secure location with intelligence feeds to allow for me to get the picture of where we stood. Their strike forces can count their own kill of an invading ship, which appears to have been headed to Starfleet Headquarters. They have provided transportation to allow me to see first-hand where we stand and where we need to concentrate for recovery. They have used their resources to turn an entire island into a home for refugees - a permanent one for any that wish it. They assisted their home with the attacks on the Republic, with the Director himself receiving burns from performing rescues in a burning hotel. Thanks to them and their Clan brothers, the US Government has been restored as much as possible and is outfitted with what we need to move forward."
Colin paused, and managed the impossible; his glare reached out through every single video feed.
"I need to make one thing very clear - every single one of the groups I just mentioned is completely run by youth well under the age of eighteen. These youth took it upon themselves to do whatever was needed to ensure Earth survived. Make note of these names, because they are the reason that you will live to see tomorrow. Cory Short, Preston O'Brian, Brent Knocks-Downing, Julio Hernandez, Skylan Thomas, Jason Evans, Tracy Butler, Marc Furst, Daniel Page, Jonas McConnaghay, Dixon Wiggins-Blankenship, Jackie Sabre, Adam Casey, Sammy Reynolds, Tzar Alexei Romanov, and Dylan Chang. Every single person on this planet owes their lives to those sixteen young men and the teams that they lead. EVERY. SINGLE. DAMN. PERSON. Without their efforts, the defences of Earth would have failed. Without their efforts, the streets would be filled with families that lost their homes. Without their efforts, the fatalities would still be piling up. Without their efforts, the United States would be no more. Without their efforts, Humanity would be well on the way to extinction, as would our allies from other cultures."
"Tell 'em about the Romulans masquerading as humans in the US Government, Uncle Colin!" Prez yelled from the crowd. He barely finished the statement before cameras focused in on Prez's voice. The entire video audience watched as Keith, Mike, Derrick, and a trio of gorillas all congregated and carried Prez away, before anything more could be interjected.
"Did I mention that being a Director tends to make the boys slightly outspoken?" Colin chuckled. " Now where was I?"
"You would think that the help would have stopped once the all-clear was sounded, but this group of young men and women from throughout the Federation were on a roll. I have visited the refugee camps that they set up; it is very obvious that they are not going to allow others to suffer as they did after Montana. They reached out to those who have helped them, asking for help for the refugees, and in the process gave normalcy in the chaos. Right here in the Republic of Hawaii, an island that was planned for future Clan expansion has been turned into a complete village that allows those who lost everything to re-start their lives immediately. These citizens are not sleeping on cots in some gym; they have been given proper housing and the opportunity to resume their original work or branch off and do something they always wanted to do. All of this without charge, and all of it with the Clan ensuring they have what they need to keep their families safe and secure."
"In the Northeast Region, and also in a few select areas across the country, abandoned military bases that were gifted to the Clan by the previous administration are no longer eyesores in their region. The Northeast Division has made use of their Federation contacts, along with the construction companies that were inherited by one of their core officers, to provide for the youth who lost their families in this attack; no matter where on Earth the youth came from. These are not orphanages, they actively solicited adults and families to turn the bases into family campuses. The construction of one of those locations led to their request for help in Washington; they have been provided with Federal Marshals and FBI agents as permanent staff to assist them with jurisdictional issues, as well as providing expedited assistance when violations which are not normally under Clan jurisdiction are found."
"As Clan Short recovered from the Montana attack, multiple planets in the Federation pledged their support to the group. As we speak, my cabinet is coordinating recovery assistance from those same planets. By my cabinet, I mean the teams headed by Julio Hernandez, Preston O'Brian, and Tracy Butler. Those three young men have assembled an amazing group of adults and youth who make dealing with the recent insanity look like a normal day at the office, and in these tragic times I would be a fool to not allow them to complete the work that they have started without anyone asking them to."
"Speaking of Tracy, don't ever play chess with him. He found out that two of the ships which assisted the Iowa were about to be de-commissioned. To say he took exception to it would be putting it mildly; he refused to give up until he was assured that the heroic efforts of the crews were recognized by the saving of the ships. Due to his efforts, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans will now have dedicated fleets of ships that are Federation-modified to provide a first line of defense for any future attacks on Earth from outside our planetary sphere. When not practicing taking out invaders, they have pledged to assist the United States Navy and Coast Guard in their efforts to combat human trafficking and drug runners."
"Have no doubt; together we WILL rebuild and recover from this attack on our home planet. Be fully aware, however, that the League of Nations has declared that what the world will be when the rebuild is complete WILL have fundamental changes in societal norms. The United States WILL NOT TOLERATE a repeat of the terrorist activities of the last year BY ANY PERSON OR GROUP WITHIN OR EXTERNAL TO OUR BORDERS. IT. WILL. NOT. HAPPEN. AGAIN. PERIOD."
"Let me make it perfectly clear. The very second that youth of the Earth's societies had to take protection of their own into their own hands, the societies of Earth failed. The very second that an attempt was made on a family's lives because an organization did not like the outcome of a trial, Earth's societies failed. The very second that key members of worldwide governments were killed and replaced with hostile aliens who worked to destroy governments from within, Earth's societies failed. THIS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE. Freedom does not give the right to destroy the lives of others for not following your beliefs. Freedom does not give the right to destroy the physical or mental capabilities of a youth. Freedom does not give the right to destroy the societies of the world to advance your personal goals. Our brothers and sisters of Vulcan have given Clan Short the tools to ensure the innocent walk free while the guilty are identified; the United States from this point forward commits to working with Clan Short, coordinating resources to ensure that together we can prevent another stain on this Country's history."
"Due to information uncovered by the Clan during the attack, the FBI is in the process of completing over two hundred open cases. This type of information has not made the news, but it is not unusual. Law Enforcement across the country are getting used to reports from their regional Clan Divisions that make their jobs easier, safer, and less likely to be overridden on a technicality. This cooperation at the local levels has increased the safety to local citizens immensely, and it is now ordered that all sections of the Federal System accept and process immediately any such information that the Clan should provide as if it was generated within their own system."
"Tonight, the citizens of Pennsylvania are suffering an additional grief due to the attack. I extend the condolences of myself and the Government of the United States to the families and friends of those who were lost when the cruise ship "Atlantic Son", which was chartered for the staff and clients of the Pennsylvania Boys Club, was attacked by a Romulan invader. It is only thanks to the crew of the Iowa that there were not more casualties, but even one was one too many. For those of you who are still awaiting confirmation as to if your family member or friend survived, please be patient, as the staff of Alligator Alley and the Clan Short Fleet are personally ensuring that each and every determination is being relayed in person to those affected."
"Just before I came up here today, I was informed by Director O'Brian that one hundred percent of the ship's occupancy had been confirmed, including the three stowaways. Those that are receiving medical attention that will require longer recoveries have been prioritized to ensure their families are present to support them. I have informed Clan Short that the US Government is assuming the obligation for any costs not covered by the Clan directly under their Charter from the Federation. Once I have been assured that all families have been contacted, I will make an official announcement. Our prayers are with you as you await the news; I have been told that the presence of the Iowa actually assisted in reducing the loss of life, as a large part of the passengers were on the outer decks to witness it arriving in the area. Any of you out there who believe in a Higher Power, I ask of you to thank that Power for those that survived, and request that Power's help for those fighting for their lives."
"Despite the best attempts of the invaders, the Government of the United States was at no time completely disabled. Thanks to resources that were provided to Clan Short for their own protection after Montana, military chain-of-command and communications were maintained throughout the invasion attempt. Those two together maintained State and Local Governments through the worst of the ordeal. Our Founding Fathers are smiling down on us tonight, as they witness their dream withstanding the hardest challenge it has ever faced. We face another challenge, one which humanity has a history of failing. That challenge is going to test the resolve of every single person worldwide; I am counting on my fellow Americans to set the example."
"We MUST NOT give in to the temptation of transferral of blame based on appearance! As in any society, there are elements which survive on distress; Romulus is no different. The attack that we just experienced is indicated by intelligence to have been from a rogue cell, and was not sanctioned by the planetary government. The method used to reveal the imposters resulted in explosive termination, which took out the worst of the group. Multiple organizations have worked together to identify the locations of any unlisted Romulan visitors, and are actively tracking them if they have not already verified their status. These are being handled on a prioritized basis, so at this time it is safe to say that the immediate dangers have been located and detained."
"It has already been determined that entire families were brought along for the invasion, in some cases family members had no idea about the intent until it actually happened. Those family members do not have a home to go back to; the actions of one person in a family on Romulus is applied to the entire family, and they would be executed if they were to try to return. I will not stand for that, and as Americans neither should you. Some of these refugees will have decided that they feel comfortable in our society; those we WILL welcome with open arms, and assist them in integrating themselves. Others will wish to find a new home somewhere else; in those cases, it is our responsibility as Americans to do our best to guide them to a neutral party which will assist them in their wishes. Vulcan Embassies, which includes any Clan Short property, have been designated by the Federation as points of contact to streamline the process. They will arrange transport to one of the Moon bases to provide those in need with a safe location to explore their options."
"Going by the snores of my security, I have taken enough of your time. If you are in need and are unable to get through to a Government Department, please contact one of the Clan Short hotlines, as they are currently assisting with re-routing around damaged infrastructure. Thank you, and bless every single one of you. Good day."
"Why was Uncle Colin using bad words?" Terry asked as the screen shifted to a talking head who was going to try to summarize the speech. "He sounded mad."
"I think he was mad a few times," Julio replied. "He used the bad words because some people don't understand nice words."
"Your Daddy's right," Mick added from across the room. "That doesn't make it right to use them, but you still have to sometimes to be understood."
"Besides, he makes it sound bloody awesome!" Benny sniggered.
"Dad?" Kent asked, "Does what he said mean there might be Romulan kids here who ain't got no family anymore?"
Julio nodded as he lightly elbowed Benny. "Yeah, I think so. If it is anything like with Cory's kids, you guys are going to be looked up to as far as being examples of what to do. Would any of you turn away a Romulan who wanted to be your brother or sister?"
"No way!" Reese exclaimed as his brothers nodded their agreement. "We're Hernandez kids, we never turn down more brothers or sisters!"
"Yeah!" Johnny and Eddie yelled, their brothers giggling as they nodded their agreement.
"I'm going to kill Cory," Mick muttered as his head drooped to be cradled in his hands.
"It's not that bad, Dad," Julio giggled as he noticed Mick's actions. "All of us Directors have agreed that our brother and sister count can't pass Momma Teri's adoption count!"
"It would be hard to do," Jesse deadpanned. "All of the Clan are her kids, so we'd have to start our own to catch up."
"Besides, with three parents we can have more kids!" Benny added.
"DON'T YOU DARE!" Mick groaned theatrically.
"You're no fun, Dad!" Julio giggled as he stuck out his tongue.
"Poppa?" Felix asked softly, "Isn't Dad going to get in trouble for talking to Grandpa like that?"
Jesse shook his head. "No, Grandpa and Dad are just playing around. It takes getting used to, but it isn't bad."
"That's how we keep the old people watching us," Benny added with a grin.
"Okay," Felix replied as him and Lyle settled back into their cuddle.
"Holy Smoke!" Mark exclaimed. "The Clan did all THAT?"
"Mark, the phrase is 'Holy Shit'," Grandma corrected firmly. "I am aware of quite a number of things he did not list, which is commendable.
"Allow your son to grow, Frank;" Grandma admonished, "it will not be long until him and Lucas are adopting their own sons. If they are to be recognized as adults, they need to have the same language skills as adults."
"Grandma!" Mark and Lucas chorused as they began blushing for the fourth time in the last twenty minutes.
Frank shook his head, keeping up appearances of being a protective father as he silently agreed with his mother's plan.
Fortunately for Mark and Lucas, the doorbell rang, interrupting the conversation. "I'll get it!" Brian exclaimed, hoping that the visitors would sidetrack Grandma.
A few seconds later, Brian returned with Lucas, Mini, Alien, Jake, and Thomas. "Hi everyone!" all five new arrivals giggled as they waved.
"Hi guys, how are you boys holding up?" Frank asked as he waved back.
"We're okay," Alien replied for the group. "Having a live-in General that understands what's goin through our heads helps a lot. He thinks us five need to go raid the mall to have a little normal, but Dad says our mob ain't big enough, and the rest of the guys want to go with Evan and Hayden to check out the Klaus compounds."
"Since we just moved here, we don't really know the area," Nancy stated. "What kind of neighborhood is the mall in?"
"We're thinking of going to Jordan Creek," Mini replied. "It's got more stores than Southridge or Merle Hay. Don't worry, it's on the rich side of the Metro."
"You just want to terrorize the Apple Store again!" Kerry giggled from his seat on the couch.
"Who, ME?" Mini, Alien, Lucas, and Logan chorused.
"Those fake halos are almost enough to make me want to go along to assist with your training on dealing with retail establishments," Grandma sniggered.
Noticing the looks on the ones who still didn't know Grandma that well, Mark giggled "Grandma likes shopping like we do, she only goes adult when some stupid security guard tries to ruin our fun."
Nancy snickered as relief washed over the faces of their visitors. "Our family has quite a few new boys who could use a mall trip. Why don't you all go, and take Grandma with you in case someone tries to give you trouble because of your ages. Kerry, will you be okay taking your body so you can have fun with your brothers and in-laws?"
"I'll be fine, Mom." Kerry replied with a huge smile. "Klaus and Ark have set up multiple relays for those of us with bodies."
"I'll be tagging along with Kerry," Klaus' hologram added. "Marc says he thinks they'll have a beta body to test for me next week."
Noticing that his mom was putting on her leather jacket, Frank replied "I think you guys have things covered. Go unwind, your Mom and I will take the Yoders on a tour of the compound while you're out. Have fun, and leave something for the other shoppers."
"That brings up a point," Nancy added. "How do you guys plan on making purchases?"
"All of us have Clan cards, Mom," Kerry explained. "They run through us AIs; we keep track of what is spent and why, then deduct the stuff that's not considered new kid setup from the weekly allowance. One of my VI systems is always keeping track, and it lets me know if I need to talk to the kid to see why he wants something. Sometimes, thing that you'd think were just impulse purchases are actually covered by the Clan because they lead to a kid following his dreams."
"You mean like the guitar that Mark got me?" Adam asked.
"Yep," Kerry nodded. "Grandma's gut feeling that it'd be something that would help you try out one of your dreams was right on, and she did just what I do; made sure that you had it at no cost to you."
Nancy nodded. "I'd like to learn more about this, but we'll talk later; Mom's ready to go. Have fun guys, and mom? Try not to get arrested for once!"
Grandma's glare at Nancy caused all of the boys to giggle. Figuring he'd better play it safe, Kerry ordered one of his VI systems to teleport them to the mall parking lot before Grandma let loose on Nancy.
To the shock of the general public visiting the mall complex, fifteen boys dressed in cargo shorts and matching black polo shirts bearing the Des Moines Division logo, along with a grandmotherly woman in a black leather jacket bearing the same logo, appeared on the sidewalk outside Joe's Crab Shack.
Noticing the sign first, Jeff giggled "Hey Grandma, you ever have crabs?"
After allowing a full minute for those who didn't know her well to worry about the upcoming explosion, Grandma replied "Only once, and I believe Andrew is still in assisted living because of it."
Smiling at the shocked boys that were now staring at her, Grandma explained "If there is a good reason for any of you not to know something, I'll tell you. Otherwise, you're going to get the full answer. Some of you are now classified as adults by the Federation, and three of you are older than every single person in this mall put together. All of you concentrate on being youth, I'll worry about teaching you the things that others wrongly assume you are too young to hear. Now get your little asses in gear, there are crab legs waiting for us!"
"Yes, Grandma!" the group giggled as they turned and headed towards the door.
Once they were inside, they were immediately greeted by the host. "Welcome to Joe's Crab Shack. How may we help you today?"
Grandma smiled, replying as Trevois and his five new brothers joined them, all six with wet hair and swimsuits instead of shorts with their polo shirts. "My sons and grandsons need a small snack before we go shopping. I believe one of each flavor of the Crab Daddy Feast should work, and include enough sides for twenty-one people. Once they finish the appetizer, then we will place our orders, so your kitchen should have time to prepare."
After re-attaching his jaw to his face, the host smiled. "Would you prefer a banquet room, or general seating?"
"General seating please," Grandma replied. "I see no reason to isolate these boys from the public."
"Follow me please; our wait staff will be with you shortly to get your drink orders," the host stated as he retrieved a handful of menus.
Once the boys and Grandma were seated, Grandma looked around the table. "I expect all of you to get what looks good after our snack. Let me worry about the bill, you just get what you want."
Just then, Mini realized what Grandma's initial order was. "Holy shit! Grandma, that order you told the guy was THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS!"
Grandma shrugged her shoulders. "So? Making sure my family is fed is worth it. Kerry, dear, could you tell your brothers and uncles what my current bank balance is, and what my investments are worth?"
Kerry seemed to concentrate for a second, then replied "Your current balance is almost down to 1.5 million; your investments are currently worth 13.8 million."
"WHAT!" everyone except Kerry asked in unison, even the double twins.
Grandma smiled. "Not counting the compensation I received when Fred lost his life while testing some new Air Force equipment, I met two very nice boys before I was married out in California. I kept in touch with them, and when they asked if I was interested in helping them raise funds for the two companies they were starting, I gave them each five thousand dollars to help out. Billy and Steven made sure that I was issued stock in their companies, and I've just mostly let it sit unless I needed a cash boost."
Noticing the confused looks, Kerry added "Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, guys."
"Why didn't you tell us?" Brian asked as the rest of the boys tried to re-engage their brains.
"You never asked; neither has your father or mother," Grandma replied. "I still have that because I never let it be obvious that I have money. Now that you all are aware of it, you are expected to learn to act the same way."
"But Dad's not rich like you," Mini stated.
"Have you ever asked him?" Grandma challenged.
"No," Mini and Alien answered in unison.
"Don't make statements without knowing the facts," Grandma advised them. "I don't know his situation financially, but for him to take the two of you in like he did, while not having an obvious full-time job, indicates he is not hurting for money. CPS pre-Clan would have never allowed it unless he had ways to support you."
Mini and Alien exchanged glances as they realized the truth behind Grandma's statement. Sensing the thoughts they must be thinking, Grandma added "I would not be surprised if your Dad could have adopted any time he wanted to. He never wanted just any kid; he picked the two of you because he felt that you would be what he wanted in a family."
"He picked all four of us, Grandma," Logan corrected. "Me and Lucas were included the day he took Spence home, even though we weren't there yet."
"I stand corrected," Grandma admitted. "He is proud of all four of you by the way, especially with how you've expanded the family and welcomed each new kid."
The conversation was paused long enough to allow the waitresses to get the drink orders, then Grandma turned to her six newest sons. To the left of Trevois, there were her triplet blond sons David, Michael, and Sammy, who were seven years old with hazel eyes. On his right were ten year old Callihan and his blood little brother six year old Cael, both of which, in true Irish form, sported bright red hair, green eyes, and tempers that made Grandma proud.
"Did you guys have fun playing with the dolphins?" Grandma asked.
"YEAH!" Cael exclaimed with a big grin. "They let us ride on their backs in the big pool and we got to race and play tag and all kinds of other stuff!"
"The one I was playing with kept taking my swimsuit off!" Callihan added with a giggle. "I finally gave up and swam nude."
"They are really smart; they could even tell us apart!" David stated. "Do we get to go back?"
"It was fun, the other kids there are really nice," Michael added.
"Yeah, Mikey found a boyfriend!" Sammy giggled as he slid under the table to avoid retaliation.
"Trev, is there any reason that you can't take your brothers to visit there often?" Grandma asked. "Also, what do you think about taking your nephews to visit?"
"It went really good, Mom," Trevois replied. "I just got the report from the teachers, and they said the overall effect of spending time with my brothers on the kids down there was positive."
Turning to Ardell, Trevois asked "What do you think, Ardell? Should we try it with your brothers too, just to see how it works with a larger test group?"
Ardell nodded. "I don't think opening it up to everyone in the Clan at once is a good idea just yet, but we can try with all of my brothers and all of yours at the same time. Boyfriends and kids included, obviously. If that still works out as a positive, we'll have the AI's coordinate with Klaus to open up the rec areas to Clan members to give them someplace to go away from the regular public."
"I'm confused," Mini admitted.
"Get with Ardell and Klaus when we get home," Grandma replied. "Trev took his brothers on a cultural field trip, the details on location are better left to private discussion."
"Gotcha, Grandma," Mini nodded, accepting without question that there were things that were for Clan internal knowledge only.
"David?" Grandma said to get his attention. "It appears that you'll all be returning, and introducing your nephews to your new friends while you are at it. Please enquire of Michael's new boyfriend if he would like to visit, and you are in charge of dunking Sammy if he continues to pick on your brother for finding someone he is interested in."
"No fair!" Sammy pouted from his 'safe' spot cuddled on Brudei's lap.
"It may not be fair, but it will be effective," Grandma stated with a smile as the first course arrived. "Everyone, pay attention," she added. "This is how I was taught to eat crab up in Maine; it is a good way to start until you figure out what method works best for you."