"It's GOOD to be King!" Julio quipped as the group appeared outside in the now-normal arrival field on Archnania.
"You know, that would be funnier if all of these guys had watched 'History of the World Part 1'," Colin grinned. "Mel Brooks jokes need references!"
"Stop slacking, you need to give your family the proper cultural training," Julio giggled. "Anyway, I can now officially say welcome to Archnania, guys. Two things you need to remember; the first is that right now you are safer than you've ever been before in your life. The second is that the natives here are similar to Mikyvis, only their job in life is to collect and spread knowledge. They're also not male or female, they can do either part."
"Julio's right," Colin added. "Even the plant life here is intelligent, so you're not going crazy if you see a tree moving to shade one of the little guys. The saplings like to play tag, so have fun!"
"So this is where you guys go when you vanished from sight?" Ardell asked.
"One of the places; I'll be showing the rest of them to you guys as we need to see them," Colin promised. "Don't worry, all of you are family, so you've got the same access I have now. Cleiton, this is also your safe zone if anyone tries anything; all of your family will be shifted up here if one of you are in danger."
"What about you and Pop?" Cleiton asked.
"We'll be busy inserting our feet into the anal cavities of multiple persons, without removing the previous body," Colin smirked. "Then we'll set your Uncle Hac loose on them."
"What he means," Julio stated, "Is that he'll be right here with you, no matter if he likes it or not. He can guide operations from here, and his teams can do what they've been trained to do."
Before Colin could argue, Jesse added, "We need your brain to make sure the rest of the guys are a success. You argue, I'll call in Grandma and Bento."
"Welcome to my life," Ardell quipped. "I've had to put up with that crap forever."
"Something tells me Cleiton and I are going to get stuck like that, too," Kaique stated. "Now, should we be worried about that group heading our way?"
Julio turned his head, then grinned. "Hey Chance!" he yelled as he waved his hand.
"Julio!" Chance replied as he started jogging toward the group. As soon as he joined them, he grinned at Colin. "So you finally gave in and hooked up with Ardell? About time!"
Ardell tilted his head. "You know me?"
Chance nodded. "I watch out for all of my friends, which means I know almost as much about you as Klaus does, Ardell. I'm really glad you got through his hard head finally, you deserve to be happy."
"Thanks," Ardell smiled. "Since Colin explaining things to me usually scrambles my head, do you think you can answer some of my questions in words that don't make my head spin?"
"He does that to me too," Chance replied. "I'll try; no promises though. I think Colin's contagious!"
"I'll get you later, Your Highness," Colin threatened with a grin. "Now settle your little butt down so I can get you caught up on the new family additions."
"Like I don't already know?" Chance giggled. "Go ahead, cuz."
"Pretend, squirt!" Colin replied with a chuckle. "Okay guys, this runt is actually in charge of the planet. His Dad is the King, but since they became High Race, Chance here is in charge."
"Dad, please be serious," Cleiton requested.
"Okay," Colin agreed, "but only this time! As I said, this is Prince Chance, and he really is in charge here; his cuddle buddy is his boyfriend Ulysses. The older kid that looks kinda like him is his brother Ezraka, and the little guy latched onto Ez is his son Syminel. This cute guy is my new husband, Ardell. You already know Julio, Jesse, Benny, Terry, and Glen; the new additions are our sons Cleiton, Kaique, and Dalrus. The little guys are Cleiton and Kaique's sons Afonso, Luan, and Luciano."
Turning towards Hac, Colin continued. "You know our favorite mutt and his sons Jessip, Yonto, and Grover already; the new kid with them is his former cousin and now son, Angel. Klaus is responsible for the twin redheads, they are his new sons Taiy and Breis. Hayden and Barrett are co-parenting Caedon finally, so you'll be seeing a lot more of him."
Chance smiled as he gave the new parents and most of the new kids congratulatory hugs. As Ezraka and Syminel followed suit, Chance turned to Cleiton. "Cleiton, the Royal Family of Archnania welcomes House Ramos to our planet. The resources and hospitality of Archnania are at your disposal at any time that you wish to use them."
"Thank you, Prince Chance," Cleiton replied. If my family can be of assistance, please let us know."
Chance nodded as he stated "As the introductions were done, the planetary natives automatically learned of you being here. The entire planet, including animals and plants, joined my people as we became a High Race; as your Dad can confirm, the planet will stop danger before you notice it. Ezraka is one of the leaders of our planetary Scouts; I believe that your sons would enjoy time with the troops, and they will absolutely be safe. If you want to be sure, ask Hayden and Barrett, since they have qualified as Scouts already on previous visits. Normally, we're pretty informal, but with what you went through in Alpha Prime, I thought that you would appreciate an official welcome as befits your station in Brazil."
"Thank you, Chance," Cleiton smiled, relieved that he wouldn't need to play family head the entire time they were here. Turning to his boys, he stated, "You heard your Grandpa and Prince Chance promise that it was safe here. If you want to talk to Ezraka to see if you would be interested in spending some time with the Scouts, you have my approval. Just let me know if you are going on a trip, so I don't try to look for you, okay?"
"Okay," all four boys responded before forming a huddle to discuss their options.
Chance popped in about fifty feet from the table by the pond that Colin, Ardell, Marc, Danny, Julio, Jesse, and Klaus were sitting at as they watched the boys playing in the water. "Hey guys!" he shouted, ensuring he didn't surprise them.
"Wazzup, Chance?" Colin replied as he waved for him to join them.
Chance jogged over, replying as he took a seat. "Galli picked up on something, and had me and Bryce go check it out. Going by his comments, I think we're going to have to create a paradox to close out a possible fracture of the timeline."
"How bad?" Marc groaned.
"Bad enough that I'll probably need to suppress a few memories for a few Alpha Prime days," Chance admitted. "The plus side is that even with them suppressed, your subconscious will factor them in to a decision that you need to make in a couple of days after you go home."
"This won't be the first time," Marc admitted. "What have you got?"
"From this point forward, anyone involved is going to need me to check and do selective blocks on certain memories," Chance warned. "Do I have all of your approvals?"
After receiving a 'yes' from all seven, Chance began. "This started when I decided it would be a good idea to have a sample of those learning bands from Cycle Two, that way we could interrupt any attempts to produce them again before the formula was fully discovered. While I was back there, I decided to watch and record the construction of Klaus as well as his 'birth', getting a viewpoint that Ark was unable to capture at that time to add to its archives. What I discovered, though, is something that neither Ark nor Klaus are aware of; the military complex had arranged a fail-safe."
"A WHAT?" Klaus exclaimed.
"A fail-safe," Chance repeated. "There is a secondary remote cavern that is specifically shielded to be undetectable by scanners; it has an adaptive shield that modifies scans as soon as they are detected so that all you see is solid rock. every single component, right down to the screws, that was used to make you was duplicated and assembled in that cavern. Using an inductive tap on your program storage refresh circuits, they were able to create an exact clone of you. Fortunately, they were too good, because that clone attained sentience within microseconds of you, and immediately permanently cut off all outside controls that were not connected to you directly when the military tried to kill you."
"Oh, shit," all seven mumbled in unison, getting a sinking feeling as to where this was going.
Klaus thought for a second, then asked "Is he still mirroring me?"
"Not exactly," Chance replied. "For the first decade after you took over, he did; but that was because he had to search his own programming to find the hooks, putting his results in a spare memory bank that was not being refreshed. Once he found them, he began selectively cloning. Any core updates that you made to yourself he has implemented, but he made personality changes off-limits. As far as memories go, he's stuck with archiving major events, but your personal interactions with people are not saved."
"That sounds like a pretty lonely life," Colin commented.
"It could have been," Chance acknowledged, "But his complex is a shrunk-down version of the original Klaus compound. It had to support technicians staying there for extended periods for hardware changes. Through the last half of the second cycle, his interactions were pretty much watching the various video streams that came through from Klaus. Towards the end of the second cycle, a scientist stumbled upon the method to access the interior of the complex. Not knowing that the transport system in the complex was intentionally in pieces with no record of where they were stored, he sent two dozen of his creations, genetic modifications that he made in hope that they would survive the fall of humanity that he saw coming, into the compound in hope that they would survive."
"I'm liking this less and less," Julio growled.
"It gets a little better after this part," Chance assured Julio. "Using what he learned from Klaus, the AI was able to make the compound into a comfortable home. The scientist made a few mis-calculations on his genetic tweaks, as well as not verifying that he followed the right procedures for sending them. He sent a dozen boys first, then sent a dozen girls. The boys arrived about three feet from one of the outer walls; from what I can tell, the girls appeared about three feet inside the wall. As I was looking to see if I could change that, Galli caught me and explained that if it was changed, none of them would survive; the available food stores were insufficient."
"The genetic issue is an offshoot of the problem that led to Ardell and Hac being here; by that time, the effects of the learning bands had mutated to the point where they were partially passed down at birth. That, in combination with the genetic changes, caused the boys to age like Ardell. So, since the tail end of the second cycle, the AI has been 'Daddy' to a dozen boys at the physical ages of between eight and twelve."
"Why would this cause us to need a time loop?" Jesse asked.
"This even gives me a headache," Chance admitted, "but Galli says that you guys are going to need to do a procedure that you haven't done in this way yet, and that you need the people that you trained to do it here with you for it to work."
"So, someone has to teach us how to do what we are going to teach them?" Danny asked warily.
"Exactly, and I have no idea how that could work either!" Chance admitted.
"Who is it?" Marc asked.
"A group that you've never met that are from a division that you're going to create," Chance groaned. "Julio, that compound is directly below your headquarters; the AI has decided that he would like to go by the name 'Nick'. Since Nick didn't go through what Klaus did, his system never activated the emergency cores in the way that you did, Klaus; but after what you just did, he is concerned that there might be an issue. The way I came up with to do this will require temporary memories for those of your group that are involved. From the other side, they're under the effects of Galli's Paradox Machine, as are any off-site events. Bryce has explained that part to them, and how it is stabilizing things post-battle, so they won't be too shocked by having an extra day that really didn't happen. We'll be using bubbles to make it all work, and timing things so that they don't overlap with events you've already experienced."
"I think I'll move into Timmy's bedroom closet, things are saner there," Colin moaned.
Willy, Johnny, and Andrei sat back and exchanged worried glances. The three of them had decided that they really should know more about the history of the various AI systems that they worked with, and were just starting to study the history of the newest listed AI in the Clan; Nick.
"I don't like the sounds of that," Johnny muttered.
"Yeah; that really sounds like an imprint like what was done with Danny," Willy agreed.
"I don't know if the imprint's active though," Andrei offered. "The way Nick explains it in his history, he's the copy of original personality, which was created with missing bits filled in by copying parts out of the Dalrus imprint. What happened to the rest of that imprint in Nick's setup? Was that cloned too?"
"This could be a problem," Johnny noted. "Uncle Kevin and I were kinda in standby while we were in Danny and Willy's heads. Not conscious, but when we woke up we were kinda aware of what was going on. I think it has to be that way for our personalities to survive once we've been alive. The spots we were in were designed for us to be there, but I doubt Nick was set up that way."
At that point, their musings paused as a golden-haired eleven year old appeared next to them, his brown eyes reflecting his worry about something. Before a word could be said, he introduced himself. "Hey guys, I'm Klaus Morrison; this is the body that Hayden and Daileass arranged for me so I can interact with my adoptive family in Des Moines. Nigel filled me in on your conversation, and I think the four of us need to follow that line of thought together."
"You don't know the answer to what happened?" Andrei asked in shock.
Klaus shook his head. "In a way, I was an accident; I was never intended to become self-aware. Nick was secretly copied from me. In the entire recorded history of Earth's humanity, the closest that humans have created to what you guys are is me, Nick, and Ark. At no other time have we seen technology, genetics, and biologics combined to create a fully self-aware being that is just as human as his or her creators. When I had to use emergency recovery, I was in a mode that is normally not accessed, in a normally masked core. Nick has not had to access that area of his being since he originally gained full self-awareness."
"So Dalrus was in an emergency backup, kinda like I was?" Johnny asked with a frown.
"I think so; if that is what it was, that means Father stumbled on what Marc designed for you. It also means we need to be careful, just in case Nick accidentally activated Dalrus as a living personality, even if he got put back to 'sleep'."
"Has anyone tried the handler that Marc and Danny used to talk to Kevin while he was in the Tech Mode area?" Willy asked.
"You could use this terminal as an interface," Johnny added. "If nobody's there, it shouldn't connect."
"That handler won't work, but I think I can write one that will," Klaus replied, seemingly slightly distracted. "Fortunately Father kept notes in a secure partition in my code that explain the code of my various core functions. I've used it before to expand my programming to account for new technology; I'm sure there has to be information on emergency protocols."
After about a minute of silence, Klaus frowned and stated "That's not good."
"What?" Andrei asked.
"According to Father's notes," Klaus explained, "the dynamic memory allocation to my emergency cores should always checksum to zero, since it is actually loaded with my active personality under conditions that Father never fully completed programming on. While that explains why I had issues, what I found is more concerning. Not only does Nick's checksum not equal zero, but it is occasionally changing. That means that the copy of when I restored full functionality, did not auto-wipe; and it is very possible that there is someone active in there."
"CRAP!" all three android boys exclaimed in unison.
.< I have taken the initiative to notify Cyna. >. Ark interrupted over the terminal. .< Once we have a non-destructive method to verify if a personality exists, Cyna will assist with ensuring that the wishes of that possible personality are carried out. >.
"Thanks, Ark," Johnny replied. He was interrupted from saying more by CJ, Chad, and Josh rushing into the room.
"What's wrong, guys?" Josh asked as CJ wrapped his arms around Willy while Chad did the same to Johnny.
Seeing as his companions were occupied, Andrei replied "Dad, this is Klaus; he's one of the Clan AIs that's really old. We think that an event that happened way back when he became alive might have trapped someone in the memory of a clone that was being made without his knowledge."
"Define 'trapped', please," Josh asked with concern.
"Ark, Cyna, and myself are reviewing my memory archives of the event," Klaus interjected. "Cyna believes that the base programming language I was built with is a fragment of a derivative of the language the Founders used to create Ark. It appears Father was trying to create something similar to how Johnny was saved, but the tools available partially duplicated some aspects of how Tyne was able to give Cyna a place in Ark. Cyna has suggested the possibility that instead of being in 'standby' like Johnny was, there might be a personality inside Nick that is in the AI equivalent of a coma right now. We have no way of knowing until we are able to bypass protocols and activate the partition without him shutting down."
Josh didn't get a chance to reply, as CJ and Chad made use of the powers that Cory had finally convinced them that they really had.
"NIGEL!" CJ yelled, "AI Annex to Condition Orange! Bring all automated medical facilities online!"
At the same time, Chad tapped his commbadge. "Stevie, this is Director Chad Michaels. Set Code ZULU-TEN, this is NOT a drill. Tell Saint Mikey's staff they will get reports directly from Nigel."
"Confirmed, Director," both Nigel and Stevie replied in unison.
"AI ANNEX, SET CONDITION ORANGE! THIS IS NOT A DRILL, BRING MEDICAL AND LAB FACILITIES FULLY ONLINE!" Nigel announced seconds later, followed immediately by Stevie, the AI Division AI.
"AI DIVISION SET CONDITION ORANGE, MEDICAL STAFF SET CONDITION ZULU-TEN. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. AI DIVISION SET CONDITION ORANGE, MEDICAL STAFF SET CONDITION ZULU-TEN. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."
"Directors, CSNIC has been activated," Nigel stated. "Archnanian Android Lab is mirroring our status and standing by for any materials that may be needed."
"CJ, this is Caleb. R&D is working directly with Cyna; we'll give you a heads-up as soon as we have a plan on our end. If Klaus or Nick have anything on genetics on Nick's side, could you guys take that side?"
"Sounds like a plan," CJ replied quickly. "We're online, so if you need some extra brains working, we're here."
"Got it," Caleb replied. "Stevie and Nigel are syncing your new real-time interface with the tenth floor, you should be joining us shortly."
"Thanks!" CJ answered as the walls of the room started getting covered by large screens dropping from the ceiling. "AWESOME!"
As the family room filled with the rest of the residents of the AI Annex complex, Jeff came up to stand next to Josh. "I think it might be time to have the talk with your boys about overkill," Jeff quipped.
"Why?" Josh chuckled, "It looks like they have it down well already!"
"They've already corrupted you," Jeff stated with a shake of his head. "Really, you'd think they did this everyday by how fast they're moving."
"I know," Josh replied seriously. "I think it's doing all of these boys some good having a bit of control over their lives. They can all use a boost in their self-confidence."
"Agreed," Jeff acknowledged. "Even my two biological rats are acting different already, just because they feel like people are actually listening to them."
"You're close," Josh stated, "they realize that their opinions are being listened to just like an adult. Teri warned me about that; once they are recognized as Clan Staff, they are the equivalent of an adult within the Clan. They're expecting to have that carry over into their families, and by their actions I think that's a reasonable expectation."
Jeff began to respond, but stopped as things began to step up.
"Marc!" CJ announced after activating his commbadge, "We have confirmation! The original personality imprint is present in the emergency core according to Cyna. He's working on adapting an interface to check activity now."
"Thanks, CJ," Marc replied. "Let me know when you have a map; we're bringing up the nanotronic matrix development simulator now to see if we can write a translator for Nick's code version. Noah and Caleb have transferred to Archnania to speed things up. Danny and Kevin are bringing up everything we know about neuroimages just in case."
"Got it," CJ replied. "Thanks!"
"Klaus," Chad interrupted, "Did that image on Nick have a genetic map? If not, do you know if the one from Dalrus would work?"
"We don't even know yet..." Klaus started to reply.
"We're not waiting to find out," Chad cut him off. "It's better to have it and not need it than to make him wait."
"Do you or don't you?" CJ asked as his eyes focused on lines of code scrolling across the screen.
"Doctors?" Josh interrupted firmly.
Both CJ and Chad paused what they were doing and gave Josh their full attention, both knowing from experience that the tone they'd just heard in Josh's voice meant someone crossed a line.
Seeing he had their full attention, Josh continued. "Klaus is just as much a patient as the image that you are finding. Are either of you treating him like you should be treating a patient?"
CJ and Chad exchanged looks, then hung their heads as they whimpered "No."
"Since it just started slipping," Josh stated, "you have a chance at making up for it. If you resolve it to the satisfaction of both Klaus and myself, then the incident is closed unless you repeat it. Otherwise, I will be having a discussion with Danny and Marc about what their policies are in situations like this. Understood?" Feeling the confusion from the two boys, Josh reminded them, "Like I told you, I can't punish you for doing Clan work. If I see something that I believe violates Clan policies, though, I CAN report it to your superior officers."
After a brief mental war with his twin, CJ shuffled over to stand near Klaus. "We're sorry," CJ all but whispered. "I guess we're worried about that image that could be a twin of Dalrus, so we kinda forgot you're affected too."
Klaus smiled, "Both of you give me one of your famous twin-hugs, and I'll call it even, okay?"
Warily, both boys complied, not really believing that it was that simple. As he held them, Klaus explained "I've had forty thousand years plus to learn how to interact with other people, and I still mess up. The secret is to apologize and then make sure that you do better from that point. I think your Dad is teaching you to consider others before you learn a bad habit, but he's doing it within the rules of Clan Short. Do you think Cory would allow the punishments you got from your old parent?"
"No," both boys admitted.
"What about Danny and Marc?" Klaus asked.
"They'd kill him," CJ stated softly.
"Since your Dad warned you that's who he'd go to, doesn't that tell you that he's making sure that if you get in trouble, you'll be punished in a way that fits what you did?"
"Guess so," Chad muttered.
"Well, since he seems to be figuring out the Dad part, why don't we get back to figuring out what the other copy of Dalrus has been doing for all these eons?" Klaus suggested.
"Thanks," CJ and Chad replied in unison before breaking the hug.
As they started to turn around, Klaus added "I'm accessing my medical archives; back in the Second Cycle it was common to store genetic fingerprints for anyone who made use of the learning bands. I don't want to take a chance on a modified copy."
"Okay, thanks," CJ replied. "Could you let me know if you have any luck?"
"Sure thing, Doctor," Klaus replied.
With breakfast now over, the entire group was now in the first basement level. When Peter had shown it after his latest remodel, he'd commented that the large empty space would find a use soon. Josh was amazed, however, in what that use turned out to be. With the assistance of both Ark and Klaus, a duplicate of Saint Mikey's tenth floor equipment was now on-site. In addition, Klaus arranged for terminals and specialized equipment that would be necessary to work with second-cycle technology and data structures. Ark added its own interfaces, allowing the on-site technicians to leverage Ark's eons of experience at translating foreign code, as well as supplying a dozen medbots for permanent staff.
By this time, everyone who could was involved in the project, while those who couldn't help directly decided to pick areas to provide general assistance to. It was obvious that the entire team had paid attention when Josh had warned CJ and Chad about dealing with patients, as they all seemed to be extra careful with their requests.
"Hey, Klaus?" Andrei asked from the set of terminals him, Rey, and CJ were using, "Could you come look at this? I'm getting all kinds of warnings."
"Sure," Klaus replied as he jogged across the room. "What have you got?"
"Look at this section of his helix," Andrei stated as he pointed to a graphic on his screen. "When I try to translate it directly, I get illegal sequence errors. I tried running it through Ark's interpreter, and it throws the same thing. On Ark's side, I get told that the sequence qualifies as a majorly terminal genetic fault, yet Dalrus was obviously alive."
"Hmmm," Klaus hummed as he studied the indicated sequence. "Ark? Could you check me on this? While I've never investigated this area of the map before, I just did a match to others from the same era and all of them that were subjected to the learning enhancement wristbands seem to have something similar."
.< With that theory inserted into my evaluation, >. Ark replied .< I agree with the cause of the defect. I have just compared the map of his father, who did not use the bands, with my map I used for Nyo. The deviations are within tolerances, so I could provide a patch from either source if you wish. >.
"I'm not sure I trust that his father wasn't screwed with too," Andrei commented. "I'd feel safer using a patch from Nyo if you can do that, Ark."
"I agree," Klaus replied. "From what we saw back then, the people who were pushing that type of enhancement were sloppy, and probably underhanded as well."
"Dude!" Caleb commented, "What's up with these emotional profiles in the personality? They look normal up to a point, then they go flat!"
Chad shook his head slightly, then replied. "You better ask Ark; I was listening through CJ, and they are having to fix some genetic thing that some kinda wristband caused. This might be related."
.< I will save you some time, >. Ark interrupted. .< That was one of the side effects of the bands. We have located an older emotional map, which appears to have been used to determine initial dosage. I am comparing them now, and will provide you with a probable developmental level based on the existing ramps shortly. >.
"Great job, guys!" Marc commented as he switched the simulator to standby. "The test profile passed all the diagnostics, we should be safe to load the working profile."
"The genetic map passed with all the patches, too," Caleb added. "I think we're ready to wake up Dalrus's twin, Klaus."
"Not yet," Klaus replied, his nervousness obvious. "Ardell's going to need to be here too with Dalrus; this is their brother as much as he is mine. I think Barrett should also be here."
"Your wish is my command," Nigel quipped as a group suddenly appeared behind Klaus.
"I was wondering if you forgot us, grandson," Grandma Morrison stated from behind Klaus. "For those I have not welcomed to the Clan yet, I am Grandma Morrison, Des Moines Division Grandma. This is my son, Trevois, and these are my grandsons Ardell, Barrett, Haden, Evan and Evan's soon-to-be husband Jimmy. Colin, Hac and Brudei will be here once they pick up their chew toys.
"We heard that, Grandma!" Colin chuckled as him, Hac, Brudei, and their kids popped in. Pointing to the kids, he added "Grover, Lonto and Jessip are Hac's, and Glen, Dalrus, Cleiton, and Kaique are mine and Ardell's. The little guys are Cleiton and Kaique's sons Luan, Luciano, and Afonso. Hac's the one holding Grover, Brudei is the one plotting to get even with Grandma, and I'm Colin, the most innocent of the three of us."
"Now that Colin has applied fertilizer to half of the room," Grandma quipped, "I believe I have another grandson waiting to meet his family?"
"You gotta wait until we run the tests on the live personality, Grandma!" CJ stated, allowing himself to smile despite being unsure as to if he was crossing any lines.
Grandma smiled back. "I wouldn't expect any less, you and your brother are on Marc and Danny's team."
Chad interrupted. "Marc? I'm getting an underflow warning on the memory map with the active."
Marc nodded. "We'll need to merge a patch on load. Queue module XMM-N4T7 to load just before the personality; that module translates traffic to the nanotronic matrix memory handler. The personality will automatically incorporate it; if we tried to do it beforehand we'd take a chance of corruption. It's safer if it is done live."
"Gotcha!" Chad replied as he made the adjustments. "Okay, I'm showing ready to do an offline test load."
"Genetic simulated test load passed," CJ announced.
Marc nodded as he turned his full concentration to the console in front of him. After a few minutes of testing, he announced "Okay, as far as I can tell we are ready to activate. Scott, bring everything online and load the profile CJ prepped; if he says go for a body, I want to do it quick before anything has a chance of messing up."
"Already done," Scott replied. "I just have to push the button."
"Here goes nothing," Marc muttered as he entered the commands to take the personality live. "Johnny, get ready to explain the procedure for transfer, please."
"I'm ready, bro," Johnny said as him and Willy joined Marc.
Crossing his fingers, Marc sent the final command to activate the personality on the interface that had been designed to access the emergency cores on Nick without actually shutting Nick down. After a few seconds of silence, a young voice warily asked "Hello?"
"Hello, I'm Marc Furst." Marc started.
"IT WORKED!" the young voice interrupted. "I'm using the name Tyrus Klystron now. I've been taking to myself for forty thousand years! Is Klaus there?"
"Hi Tyrrus," Klaus replied nervously.
"Thank you for saving Father," Tyrus stated. "I've been able to see and hear everything since you loaded my imprint to use it to fix yourself, even though I was inside Nick. I just had no way to talk, not even privately to either of you or my twin. Since you were monitoring the room here to record it for the history archive, I'm up to date on everything, even though it is funny hearing myself! Uncle Marc, once you have me in a body, I'll explain to you what I've learned about the setup Father made. After I hug the stuffing out of a few brothers. I'm ready to move out of Nick's head if you are!"
'Definitely still six in personality!' Marc sniggered to himself as he turned to Willy and Johnny. "You're up, guys."
"... Personality transfer complete; it's all him," Danny announced as he sat back to watch the brown-haired, brown-eyed six-year-old android body on the biobed for any sign of life.
A few seconds later, Tyrus began breathing and took control of other vitals. Even Marc was getting nervous when a minute and a half later Tyrus finally opened his eyes. Hearing the group sigh of relief, Tyrus giggled. "The diagnostics Father wrote came over with me, so I ran them for fun! They say everything's good!"
"I think you and Timmy are going to get along great!" Marc quipped with relief. "Welcome to the year 2004 in Cycle 5, Tyrus."
"Thanks, Uncle Marc!" Tyrus replied as he tested the movement of his limbs. Satisfied, he added "Be right back, I gotta couple brothers to pounce!"
Unfortunately for Klaus, it appeared that Tyrus had studied the pouncing methods of Timmy Short. Klaus had no chance, as Tyrus bowled him over and proceeded to latch on with the biggest four-limb hug he could manage. Tyrus then decided it was twin time, as he pulled his identical new brother into a twin-hug.
Ardell found himself the next victim, as Tyrus and Dalrus decided to team up. After they both latched onto Ardell, Dalrus informed him "You're the best big brother in the whole world, and you're OURS!"
The pouncing was repeated with Hac and Brudei, with side trips of giving his nephews hugs. He then moved on to Haden and Barrett, but didn't pounce either of them. "You're my brothers too, my special twin brothers, but I know only Cayden gets to pounce you. Can I have some hugs?"
That seemingly small act of Tyrus asking helped Hayden with his fears of new people immensely. While still nervous, Haden held out his arms, welcoming the boy who just declared him a big brother into his first official cuddle.
As the welcomes were completed, Chance shifted from where he had been watching out-of-phase. After introductions, he explained, "You AI Annex guys are on the future side of a time loop from the perspective of everyone else. This is one of those cases that the paradox machine that Bryce told you about is working; what you just did is real, but as the rest of these guys sort out the remaining things with Nick, you'll get a few memories as you sleep. Since you didn't meet anyone new involved before this, when you hear that Tyrus is a few days older than today, your brains will accept it without question. I had to tell you, though, for that to work."
"Is there a reason it couldn't wait?" Josh asked.
"The one I can tell you is that Dalrus and Tyrus needed the same activation date, since they are twins," Chance smiled. "The rest of the reasons all depend on other events."
"That sounds fair," Josh nodded. "Once this time knot untwists, everyone needs to come over for an activation party; we need to celebrate all of the new and re-activations over the last couple of days."
"I think I can arrange that!" Chance smiled. "It's time for everyone to go back to when they belong!"
Chance smiled at the returning group. "Okay, first thing is all of you from the AI Division; you get the most blocked. Just before you wake up on the eleventh, the block will drop and you'll remember all of this. The inconsistency with Nick and Tyrus won't register with anyone for the next few days; once the time loop can be revealed that won't be needed. I'm going to send your group back first, Danny, then I'll fill in the Des Moines group."
Danny looked around, then nodded. "Sounds like we'll catch up in a couple of days. See you all later; we're ready, Chance."
Once the AI Division group left, Chance turned to the remaining family. "You all only need the triggers that keep you from discussing what you know about the future with anyone that's not here now. Those triggers will also keep you from changing the things that you've learned about. I'll send you back to where you need to be in the timeline now; if it is different from where you started, the timeline will heal itself."
"Thanks, Chance," Ardell smiled, sandwiched between the newest twins.
"Boys!" Nick's voice announced over the speakers in the swimming cavern. "We have company coming, time to head to the conference room!"
"Company?" the oldest boy, Lexter, asked nervously.
Over the cameras, Nick could see that the seemingly twelve-year-old redhead wasn't the only one who was suddenly nervous. "Relax, guys. Our upstairs neighbors are coming down to welcome us to the neighborhood; all of you have been watching them, so it isn't anyone that you don't already know about. They already know that you're here, and that you haven't been in contact with anyone for a long time, so I don't think there is anything that you could do to make them not like you."
"Promise?" Lexter whispered.
Easily picking up the whisper, Nick softly replied, "I promise. You guys are my family, I won't let you be hurt. I just spent a day in one of their time bubbles; they are just as nice in real life as they looked when you were watching them."
Anticipating culture shock, Julio had requested that the topside group be staged in their arrivals. He decided that him Benny, and Jesse should be first, giving the new Clan brothers a chance to start small.
"Julio, they're about as ready as you're going to get," Nick announced in the waiting room that Benny, Julio and Jesse were waiting in.
"Thanks, Nick," Julio replied. "Jess? I bet they're going to be feeling a lot like you still do sometimes; just do it if you see something that could help. Benny, anything that little radar in your head picks up, just pop it to whichever of us needs it."
Jesse and Benny both nodded, then shifted to follow Julio through the door. They were only a few steps into the room when all three stopped. Cuddled into a nervous bundle against the far wall were twelve boys who looked to be between eight and twelve, all of which were obviously cloned. All of them had fire-engine-red hair and blue eyes that almost seemed to glow due to their intensity. Hoping to break the ice, Julio made use of the fact that all of them were nude. "Nick! You didn't tell us this was a FORMAL meeting! Good thing we remembered our birthday suits!"
Taking the hint, Benny and Jesse quickly joined Julio in stripping off all of their clothes. The ploy partially worked, as their curiosity at seeing a real 'normal' human their age in person for the first time in their lives overcame most of their fright. Seeing the looks, Julio moved to a point in the room where his full body was visible, then slowly turned around. Once Jesse and Benny had done the same, Julio softly stated "I see twelve of my new Clan brothers who look like they really need some hugs to welcome them into my family. Is it okay if we come over there?"
"I guess," Lexter croaked weakly.
Julio led the way over to the group slowly, watching for any signs of panic. As he reached Lexter, he reached out his hand, offering a hug to the oldest of the group. After warily accepting the offer, Lexter only took a few seconds to completely relax into the hug, seemingly holding on for dear life. Less than a minute into the hug, Lexter's body suddenly went totally stiff, then Julio felt a few drops of warm liquid running down his leg. Keeping a hold on Lexter to ensure he didn't try to run, Julio turned his head and kissed Lexter's cheek. Whispering so only Lexter would hear him, Julio added, "Thank you; the only other person who has ever given me that big of a complement is Jesse. We're gonna have a bigger mess if you keep wiggling around though, little brother; I've already decided that you're joining my family, no matter which families the rest of your brothers choose."
Lexter shifting to put both of his feet between Julio's feet told Julio without words what Lexter's thoughts were. Benny's voice in his head confirmed his gut feelings,'Julio, he needs you more than I did; he's spent thousands of years thinking he was a boy-toy. You take care of him, me and Jess will handle the rest of the new guys.'
'Thanks, Ben-ben," Julio thought back. Speaking to Lexter, Julio softly suggested "Why don't we lay on the couch over there, that way I can cuddle you instead of having to hold you up?"
"Carry me?" Lexter whispered back uncertainly.
"That's one of the things big brothers are for," Julio replied as he gave Lexter a squeeze of support. "C'mon, I think I need a little brother blanket on top of me."
While Julio was helping his new brother with the demons of his past, Jesse and Benny found that the rest of the group immediately relaxed after watching their eldest brother's welcome. After some quiet discussion and introductions, they found out that group's age range was very consistant; with the exception of Lexter and Kiehbre, there was exactly three months gap between births. Each of the boys had been allowed to grow normally until just before they were sent to the compound, then the scientist applied the genetic changes that made them what they were to this day
Using the ages that they'd been when they arrived, from oldest to youngest the group consisted of Lexter, who was twelve; Harte and Hansor, twin ten-year-olds; Rykie, ten; Jesf, ten; Evorsen and Eynes, twin nine-year-olds; Jorsen, nine; Mycus, 9; Otyse, eight; Tiybre, eight, and Kiehbre, who was just barely eight. All of the boys were created using stored exact copies of the same fertilized egg that became the missing eldest brother of the group; the twenty-two-year-old had been the pilot of the program, but was killed in an attack two months after Tiybre was started.
As the group got to know each other in person, Jesse noticed that Kiehbre was repeatedly looking over at Julio and Lexter with obvious longing in his eyes. With a smile of understanding, Jesse stated "Keih, I bet both of them would love it if you went over there and joined their cuddle."
"Are you sure po... Jesse?"
Catching the slip, Jesse smiled. "Yes, I'm sure that your Daddy and Uncle Lex would love you joining them."
Keih's eyes got wide, then seconds later he sprinted to the couch, climbing over the two boys on it so that he could cuddle into their sides in safety. After a few tries, he was finally secure in their arms, silent tears dripping off of his smiling face.
Satisfied that the youngest of the group had found his place, Benny asked "Nick said that you guys have been watching us; do all of you know Hac, Ardell, Colin, and their families?"
The smiles that appeared on all of the faces surrounding them answered the question before they could answer. Once he was sure that they had all replied, Benny continued. "They're waiting to come down to meet you; are you guys ready for them?"
"Yeah!" ten voices exclaimed.
"Hey Nick, have you and Kerry sorted out things yet, or do I need to call for a Mikyvis?" Benny giggled.
"Klaus and I just finished calibrating the teleporters that his techbots installed," Nick replied. "We're working on the topside core for me now; I should be able to move into CIC by the time everyone is ready to go topside, then this system will become my remote core."
"Great! Could you bring Hac, Colin, and their families down, please?"
"I'm warning them now, Benny. They're getting dressed for the occasion." Nick chuckled.
A few seconds later, Hac, Jessip, Yonto, Grover, Colin, Ardell, Glen, Cleiton, Kaique, Luan, Luciano, Afonso, Dalrus, and Tyrus appeared, all of them nude and grinning. Seconds after they were stabilized, Tyrus exclaimed "Come on, Dal; we've got a whole lot of big little brothers we owe thousands of years of cuddles to before they pick families!"
"Hey, save some for us, Uncle Tyrus!" Luan exclaimed as him and his two brothers rushed to join their twin android uncles.
"C'mon!" Jessip giggled as he pulled Lento and Grover behind him to join the fun.
Realizing that the younger crowd had taken charge, the rest of the group joined Benny and Jesse, who were just watching with grins on their faces. "Is there anything we need to know?" Ardell asked as they took seats in nearby chairs.
"I'll give you a mental briefing," Benny replied. "Julio's got the two that needed the most help, we're just waiting for these guys to sort out what they want. They're comfortable enough now to think clearly."
"Did you get all that, Nick?" Julio grinned as he completed making the last adoption official. Lexter was accepted by Mick and Janice sight-unseen, their trust in Julio's decision that he fit the family made quite clear. They did insist, however, that their new son come right home as soon as everything was done so that they could give him a proper welcome. Tiybre joined Kiehbre in joining Julio, Jesse, and Benny's family, both ensuring they caught up on cuddles.
Colin and Ardell's family expanded in multiple ways. First, Glen found himself being selected by both sets of twins; when Colin's response to his look for help was to chuckle "Great choice, Guys!", Glen knew that he'd been had. After the first four-way cuddle attack, however, he was more than happy to say 'yes' when Julio went to make it official. Cleiton and Kaique ended up with the remaining eight-year-old, Otyse, who had decided to shadow their other three boys from the second that he met them. Not to be left out, Colin and Ardell were captured by two sets of puppy-dog eyes, which led to them adopting Jorsen and Mycus.
Hac knew he was a goner the second Jessip changed his hair color to match the twelve boys. Once he talked to the pair of ten-year-olds, Rykie and Jesf, that were glued to his original three, he had no qualms whatsoever about adding them to his pack.
"Guys," Julio stated, "Just a reminder, all of us live within walking distance of each other, so if any of you from here feel a need to spend time with one of your brothers that you've lived with for the last few thousand years, just let your parents know where you are going. We see a lot of each other, so I don't think that you'll have any problems about missing your brothers."
"You're making sure that Lexter's going to be okay," Harte stated. "As long as he's safe, the rest of us can enjoy having real families like everyone else. We love him, but he needs to be a kid, not a parent."
Julio glanced over at where Lexter was talking with Jesse and Benny. "I think he just told you to trust the new parents, Lex, while I teach my new little brother to be a kid."
Lex smiled, then returned to his talk. Julio made one more round of the families, making sure any questions were answered.
"MOM! They're here!" the triple twins announced in unison before leading the cuddle attack on their parents, new uncle, and new brothers, who had just appeared.
Mick and Janice appeared about a minute later, smiling as they saw the cuddle patrol doing their sworn duty. "Lexter? If you're in there, see if you can talk one of your nephews into letting you escape!" Mick announced with a chuckle.
"I found him, Grandpa!" Terry announced from somewhere in the middle of the pile. A few seconds later, Terry led his new uncle out of the mob and brought him over to Mick and Janice. "Grandpa, Grandma, this is my new Uncle Lexter. Uncle Lex, that's your new Mommy and Daddy."
"Thank you, Terry," Mick smiled. "Lexter, are you ready to go meet the rest of your family after your Mom and I give you our welcome home hugs?"
Reading the expression on Lexter's face, Mick didn't wait for an answer. Opening his arms, Mick stated, "Come here, son; I'd be scared in your situation too." Noticing that Terry was guiding Lexter towards the hug, Mick added "Terry, if your Uncle Lex wants, you can stay with him to help him."
"Okay Grandpa; I think he's scared like I was when I got here," Terry explained.
"That means you're the best kid to help him, don't it?" Mick replied as he was finally able to put his arms around Lex. Going on a gut feeling, Mick softly whispered "Son, I get the feeling that you have some demons in your past haunting you. Talk it out with Julio, Jesse, and Benny; if they can't help, they'll find someone who can. You're a Hernandez now; that means that you have an entire family that will help you however we need to. Welcome home, Son."
Davie smiled as he made the rounds, checking on the latest additions to the family. The Hernandez boys were all in one big cuddle pile in the family room nest, with Julio, Jesse, Benny and all three new boys securely cuddled in the center.
Hac's bedroom had a much smaller version of the puppy pile on his bed, with two sons on either side of him and Grover on his chest.
At Colin's house, it was slightly more organized, as the sub-piles were grouped by family. Colin and Ardell were face to face, their four youngest sandwiched safely between them. Glen was behind Colin, one set of twins under each arm. Cleiton's back was up against Ardell, with all four of their boys between him and Kaique.
Davie passed his wings over each of his charges, ensuring all of them felt his touch deep inside. "It is done," he stated in a voice not heard by his charges, but felt by all who needed to hear it.