Memories Part 3: And A Child Shall Lead Them

Chapter 41: Poppa, I'm comin' home

Note: Events in this chapter follow up on events that occurred in CSV-DSM part 1 chapter 4. If you need a refresh on Tesnians, that's the place to go -- if you have not read Part 1 of CSV-DSM, it will fill in a few things that I'll be touching on. For details and language info on Tesnians in the CSU, please see . To prevent editors getting alcohol poisoning, I refrained from giving the dialogue in Tesnian; when possible, it is translated to Federation Standard for your reading pleasure.


"Am I ever gonna get better, Dad?" the young Tesnian boy asked from the bed he was laying on.

The elder Tesnian in the room, Afhralid, sat on the edge of the bed and ran his fingers through the V-shaped hair on his adopted son's head. "Hiafnia, you ARE getting better, it'll just take time. Your body took a lot of damage when the attack happened, so it's going to take a while to let your body recover."

"I know, but I want to walk again," the boy, Hiafnia, replied softly. "How can I get better if you gotta help me move all the time?"

"I don't help as much as I used to, son," Afhralid replied with a smile. "The time will come when my help is because you want it, not because you need it."

"I just wish I could hug you like I used to," Hiafnia whispered before closing his eyes and seemingly drifting off.

Afhralid remained where he was, his own thoughts drifting back to the days before his soon-to-be Bonded was killed by one of the planet's many large carnivores while visiting a nature preserve; the same attack being the reason the boy that he was now caring for was in the shape he was in. He reflected on how perfect his life seemed; his soon-to-be stepson and the boy that he was Tesffirapr to, Fife, had became really close and appeared to be on their way to being life-long friends, while his girlfriend was about to be officially Bonded with him.

"Do you think we'll ever see Fife again?" Hiafnia asked hopefully, unknowingly interrupting the daydreams of his adoptive dad.

As always, Afhralid answered his boy's question honestly. "Hiaf, you know as well as I do that the chances are slim, since I gave up my status to be here with you. If there is a way, I'm sure Fife will find it, but don't count on anything." Afhralid replied softly.

Before Hiafnia could reply, the buzzer sounded that indicated that someone was requesting access to the Tesnian equivalent of a long-term care hospital suite that the pair occupied. "You may enter," Afhralid instructed.

Both residents of the room were shocked when the door opened and Traania, the right-hand assistant to the Eldest, entered their temporary residence.

"Greetings, Afhralid," Traania stated as he entered the room. "The Eldest has requested the presence of both of you at his residence. I'm here to assist you with transporting young Hiafnia for your audience."

Afhralid managed to hold in his surprise as he bowed his head in respect to Traania's station. "We shall follow the request of the Eldest. May I ask why he wishes to speak with us?"

Traania shook his head. "I have been instructed to withhold that, as it involves things known to only the Eldest and myself. Just know that you will find this worth your troubles if things go as I expect."

Earth, Orlando Compound:

Aaron had finally finished with his update for Ferris and his brothers, and now the group was watching the concert once again. Timmy was now sitting on Cory's lap, watching his brothers as his daddy held him around his waist.

'Incoming!' Kyle giggled in Cory's head seconds before appearing with JJ, Adam, Justy, and Tyler.

"Okay, who are we invading this time?" Cory joked.

Kyle's serious response took Cory by surprise. "Uncle G says it's time, bro. You got some business to finish on Tesnia, and we're going with you to make sure that you're safe."

"I'm going too," Timmy stated, obviously not giving the choice.

"What's goin on?" Ferris asked as he turned his head.

"Cory's gotta go help a kid on Tesnia that Fife considered a little brother," JJ explained. "The kid was seriously injured in an attack by a local animal, and he's finally stable enough for us to get involved."

Ferris nodded, then turned his head. "Crezzy? You wanna keep an eye on things for our bros? I ain't gonna just sit here, not after what DJ just did to save me."

Creston smiled. "Yeah, Crey and I'll make sure they don't get attacked by cookies, bro!"

"We're gonna go too," Ton announced, JD nodding his head in agreement.

 Justy grinned as he saw the look flashing across Ferris' face. "Get used to it, dude; little brothers get kinda protective. This trip should be safe enough for them to go this time, and the rest of your brothers won't worry as much about you if they're going with you."

After giving Ton and JD a squeeze, Ferris replied "Okay, I just don't wanna let these guys get hurt."

Smiling, Kyle announced "Okay, we're all accounted for, let's go!" With no additional warning, everyone who stated that they were going found themselves no longer watching the concert.

Tesnia, outside the Eldest Compound;
(Conversations with Tesnian natives are translated from their native languages)

Cory and crew appeared just outside the gates of the compound, with JJ, Justy, and Adam instantly on alert. Within seconds, the group realized that a pink creature that resembled an armadillo, a bus-sized one, was charging towards them.

Before anyone could respond, Timmy broke free of Cory's hold and dropped to his feet, warpaint and wings on full display. The sound coming out of his mouth was alternating somewhere between a growl and a scream, sending chills down everyone's spine. The creature didn't stop, at least until Timmy and Red decided to gain it's attention with a shot that would kill a standard human. That got the creature's attention, which prompted Timmy to continue in a tone that seemed to contain more growls than anything. To everyone's amazement, after five minutes of Timmy doing what appeared to be a JJ-level ass-chewing of the creature, said creature gave one long whine before turning and obviously sulking away from the area.

"What in the HELL just happened!" Ferris exclaimed, holding his little brothers in a death-grip.

"You just found out why NOBODY crosses Timmy... no matter what species they are," Adam stated factually, his voice quivering. "That ... thing ... is lucky it walked away; I've seen Timmy and Red use full power, and that wasn't it."

"They ain't gonna come back neither," Timmy stated in a growl. "Ain't none of Fife's friends gettin hurt again."

"How can you promise that?" Ferris asked, still shaking.

Kyle's eyes got wide as he answered for Timmy. "Umm, I dunno how he did it, but Timmy's put up some kinda shield. I just looked, and if any of them get too close, they're gonna get fried on the spot."

As if proving the point, a smaller version of the same creature came out of the nearby trees, charging towards the group. About halfway to the group, there was a bright flash and the charging creature suddenly became a pile of ash.

"Dummy," Timmy muttered under his breath.

Ferris shook his head. "DJ didn't tell me everyone was nuts!"

"Don't worry, you'll join us in no time," JJ quipped, earning him glares from the rest of the group.

Fortunately, the responses were contained by the sound of gates opening behind them. Within a second of the sound, Timmy, Ferris, Ton and JD were in position between the gate and the bigger kids. Giggling, Tyler commented "Don't kill them, guys! They're on our team!"

JJ, Kyle, Adam, Justy, and Cory had already recognized that the welcoming committee consisted of the two species that they had expected to greet them. As they came closer, Cory recognized two of them - one was the Eldest Champion, and the other was Fife's elder friend Traania. The rest of the group consisted of a dozen of Traania's clanmates, the cross between a skunk and a panda barely identifiable behind the leather-like armor they wore.

"Greetings, Eldest," Cory called out in Tesnian as the group approached.

"Greetings to you as well, Eldest Cory," the Eldest replied. His words had barely left his mouth when his guard force screeched to a halt, quickly saluting Cory by coming to attention and bringing their left paw to their right shoulder. Thanks to his talks with Fife, Cory recognized the gesture, returning it as if it was a normal thing for him to do.

Trusting the tone in his Daddy's voice, Timmy finally relaxed, putting his wings away and hiding his warpaint. While still confused about the weird things their little redheaded "brother" was doing, Ferris and his brothers took their cue from Timmy and relaxed as well. JJ, Adam, Justy, Tyler, and Kyle remained alert, however, as none of the three totally trusted the local wildlife after their initial greeting.

Once Cory and the Eldest had exchanged hugs of greeting and introductions, the Eldest asked "To what do we owe the honor of you visiting so soon, Cory? Has there been a problem with the orphans?"

"There are no problems with the orphans," Cory replied as they started moving into the compound. "In fact, right now they are in the process of being instructed about Terra before they begin integrating themselves within the Clan. It was Fife's idea, since visiting and living there are two different experiences."

"That makes complete sense," the Eldest acknowledged. "How is Fife doing?"

"He's doing great," Cory grinned. "I've got to watch him though, he has modified the transportation of myself and a few of my Directors so that they are addicted to scented air fresheners!"

"The young do like their sensory art," the Eldest said in what resembled a chuckle. "Is there a reason he is not here?"

Cory nodded. "He is entertaining a large group of Clan family with his brothers. I expect to return with something he lost due to a political judgement which I hope will never be repeated."

Even with the limited interaction he'd had with humans, the Eldest recognized the steel in Cory's last statement for what it was; in the eyes of the leader of the group chartered by the Federation to protect youth, a line had been crossed. Now he was here to fix the transgression, and nothing was going to get in his way. "Could you please enlighten me as to what has happened?"

While appearing calm, Cory's voice could have easily cleanly split a di-lithium crystal as he spoke. "Fife's Toffprrfff, Afhralid, was in a relationship with a female who had a cub. Just before they officially Bonded, the female was killed, and the cub, Hiafnia, was seriously injured. Instead of placing the cub, who was bonded to both Afhralid as a son and Fife as a brother, with Afhralid, Fife was forced to renounce his Toffprrfff bond and any further contact with either of them to allow Afhralid to take care of the cub that was a son in his heart."

"That is one area of Council rule where I have no authority," the Eldest admitted. "While oversight to prevent these things is needed, that is one area the Council will not allow themselves to be second-guessed on."

"That's what they think," Cory stated in an ice-cold growl. "Please inform the Council that as per treaty, Family Clan Short is calling an immediate session, with no excuses to get out of it. JJ will be addressing them, as he has a much better command of the language than myself. They asked for reform, they're going to get reform."

The Eldest turned to Traania and asked "Old friend, could your Clan please assist the Council with making sure all are in attendance?"

Traania nodded. "I was not aware of this transgression against Fife. We shall execute the bidding of the Furless Bonder with haste."

One Terran hour later:

While everyone else watched from the balcony reserved for the Eldest, JJ and Adam prepared themselves to address the Council, armed with intel courtesy of Kyle. While not actually planning to speak, Adam had decided to join JJ just in case his partner's redhead went into overdrive; of everyone there, Adam was the only one who would have a chance at calming JJ down.

Once the Council was called to order, the 'Speaker' stated "The Council recognizes JJ Richardson of Family Clan Short and will grant three Federation standard minutes for a statement."

Before the first word made it out of JJ's mouth, the entire chamber heard Cory's voice as he exclaimed 'OH SHIT!' There wasn't time to reflect on it, however, because the Speaker had unknowingly pushed the very button that he needed to avoid.

"Speaker," JJ began, his voice flat as he maintained a fragile hold on his temper with remote assistance from Ty, "with all due respect, your intelligence is less than a dried heap of Jhrir Traafeen dung. This session was called by the Patriarch of Family Clan Short, who has authorized me to speak as him about procedures which are in violation of the treaty between yourselves and Family Clan Short. That means I'm running this show, and you're gonna sit your ass down and listen or I'm gonna permanently defurr your dumb ass. If you're good, I might even let you let some hot air out of your head once I'm done."

"This session is adjourned!" the Speaker stated, only to find that Adam was now holding a phaser to the side of his head, thanks to Kyle's quick responses once it was determined that there were problems.

""No it's not," Adam growled. "Your days of using your position to declare children as orphans so that you can profit off of them are, however. After scanning by two Vulcan-Certified telepaths, I find you guilty of illegal slavery based on local and Safe Haven ordinances, and sentence you to the maximum punishment allowed under local procedures. You are hereby declared banished, and are to immediately be delivered outside the safe zone." Looking up, Adam added "KYLE, TYLER, YOU MAY PROCEED."

Almost instantly, the former Speaker vanished. Adam looked around, asking loudly "Does anyone else want to join him?" After a few seconds of silence, Adam added "I didn't think so. You may continue, Mr. Richardson."

Now that the initial target of his anger was out in the middle of nowhere running for his life, JJ kept a cooler tone as he described, in very 'colorful' detail, just what had been done to Fife and those associated with him, indicating exactly which sections of the SHA the decisions had violated. He then stated that the Council was allowed one of two choices; either the Eldest was to be given unconditional veto over their decisions in cases that affected a cub or youth, or Family Clan Short would be required to approve any such decision before it would be binding. Once finished, he gave Adam instructions as the temporary Speaker to call for discussion and a vote, then sat down to supervise the deliberations.

Like any political body, there were more opinions than there were excretement orifices. Once the deliberations finally calmed down, it was put forward that the Eldest was to review all decisions, and was to involve Family Clan Short on any that appeared to violate the rights of the youth or cub. In such cases, it was codified that any decision made by the Eldest Champion of Family Clan Short was absolute and could not be overridden, while decisions by the Tesnian Eldest could be appealed if the decision was questionable to a majority of the Council. As Speaker, Adam presented this third option to JJ, who after a mental discussion between him, Kyle, and Cory agreed to it. Once it was written and sealed, JJ spoke up again.

"While the rest of you here haven't crossed the line, some of you are really close to joining your former Speaker. Those of you in that position know who you are, and I'd suggest either try to avoid putting yourself in a position where you bend the laws, or step the fuck down and keep your family's honor intact. That's all I'm gonna say on that. Now, while almost all of your fuckups are getting ready to regain their lives in Clan Short, there is one left here that we're gonna settle right now. I've already told you about him, and I'm fully expecting you to recurse yourselves from fixing it. Please do, because Eldest Champion Cory is going to settle for nothing less than restoral of the relationships that should have been maintained. If you have the guts to say that you screwed up and trust the higher ups to fix it, just maybe the public will trust you to check yourselves instead of being know-it-all asswipes."

"Do I really need to repeat that before it goes up for a vote?" Adam asked as he looked around at the rest of the Council. He smiled as he saw the members quickly indicate they had understood it the first time, and saw no need to irritate JJ by making him sit through them hearing it again. While there was debate, it centered on just how far it needed to be kicked up, as they all could see where they went wrong initially after JJ's colorful description of their initial decision. Finally, it was decided that to prevent the appearance of a conflict of interest, the Tesnian Eldest was to make any and all decisions with the full backing of the Council. This quickly passed, and the senior Council member quickly drafted the proclamation that released the case to the Eldest Champion. Once completed and approved, Adam made one suggestion before closing the session. "Right now you have no Speaker. If I were you, I would ask the Eldest to sit in as Speaker until you can find a way to prevent someone from getting overpowered. I'd say either limits on time, rotate the position, or make it a separate appointment decided from outside the chamber. You figure it out, and if you want help just ask. Session adjourned."

Now in the private residence of the Eldest with the rest of the group, Cory was explaining things  to Ferris "... that's why I had JJ do it; he kills with words, while I get pissed and just get rid of the problem."

"Hey! I resemble that remark!" JJ giggled from off to the side as he wrestled with a pair of Tesnian children. Both were stil in the middle of the child stage, not even starting their furring yet. Due to the hazards of the planet, they had ended up in the care of a Senior who was on staff in the Eldest's residence, and their natural curiosity led them to latch onto the funny looking humans that were visiting. Even though they were wrestling with JJ at the moment, they had actually attached themselves to Ferris; directing all of their questions to him and constantly looking to make sure he approved if they were doing something without him.

Poking Ferris in the side, Cory joked "Ya know, I think they wanna keep ya!" as the pair stopped once again to make sure Ferris was watching them.

"I finally get real parents, and now you're trying to get them to kill me?" Ferris shot back as the two youngsters decided JJ had enough and it was JD and Ton's turn. Not to be left out, Timmy decided that Justy had enough and joined the pair in their attack.

The Eldest and the Senior who was their caretaker had came up behind Cory and Ferris, overhearing the conversation before interrupting. "After witnessing today," the Eldest commented, "I doubt your new parents have that option. Patriarch Cory has proven to me that his actions mirror his words. Arffij is nearing his time, and has petitioned me to ensure Hiaare and Raijhi have a strong Ffirapr to carry them through their growth. With the assistance of Champions Kyle and Tyler, I have determined that you, Ferris, would be a fitting Ffirapr for them. Do not doubt yourself, for I have seen how your brothers interact with you."

"But what if they don't want it?" Ferris asked.

Cory smiled. "I got an idea. We'll blindfold them, and with the rest of us making sure they don't trip over something we'll see if they can find you. Fife can find anyone he considers family, but anyone else he ignores their scent."

The Eldest smiled. "You are right, Cory. For the younger ones, it is even more selective, so the test is valid."

"Hey, that works for me," Ferris shrugged, trusting Cory's experience over his own doubts.

After enlisting Kyle's help to ensure that Ferris was in a totally random spot, they told the boys about the game of 'find Ferris' that they had planned, then sat back to see how it played out. Feeling mischievous, Kyle popped Ferris into multiple parts of the room before finally landing him in a safe area to be found, which laid a few false scent trails. At that point, the boys were set loose with blindfolds on and twitching noses. At first, both of them seemed to be wandering randomly, then each of them finally picked up on something and started homing in. At ten feet away, they picked up the pace; at five feet each of them was confident enough to run to Ferris' side and hug him.

"We found you, Ffirapr!" Hiaare exclaimed before covering his mouth once he realized what he'd said.

Ferris smiled as he lifted both blindfolds off of 'his' boy's faces, then pulled the pair into a hug. "Okay, you found me; but you gotta let your Rfffafrapr know if you want to keep me."

"I don't think there's a choice in the matter, daddy," Cory sniggered.

Ferris rolled his eyes then asked "What's the deal with kids becoming parents? Don't I gotta go through crap to do it?" As he asked the question, his boys decided to go visit with their uncles.

Justy beat Cory to the answer. "Dude, if the kids need someone and you fit, all you really gotta do is promise to ask for help if ya need it. This time, even Cory's not in command of what happens. You're gonna get the chance to adopt by Tesnian rules, just like when Cor and Sean adopted Fife; if it happens, all we're gonna do is update Vulcan with the names of your new sons, then be there for ya as you learn what it is like being part of a Tesnian family."

Before replying, Ferris glanced over to see what the boys were doing now. To his surprise, both of them were cuddled under Ton's arms, while JD seemed to be in deliberation with their Senior. "What'd I miss?"

"Not much," Cory replied. "JD's making sure that both sides agree to this before he'll let the Senior make anything official with you. Kyle's in JD's head, and he says that JD is doing really good with asking the right questions so that the boys can understand what they're doing and why. When we get back, if you don't mind I'd like to have him meet Xain right away. Your little brother just might find himself part of the Clan Diplomatic Corps before his next birthday, going by what I've seen him doing."

"You'll probably have to take Ton and me with you," Ferris stated. "JD's already told me that he's planning on catching up on having big brother stuff every chance he gets, so I doubt he'll go with you without me and Ton."

Cory nodded. "You're probably right; he's emotionally bonding with both of you, just in different ways."

The conversation came to a stop, due to JD escorting the Senior over while Ton brought his prospective nephews. JD stopped in a position where he could address the proper people, then began. "Eldest Champion and Patriarch Cory, I have discussed the situation with the Senior in regards to Hiaare and Raijhi with the help of Clan Intel. The health of the Senior makes it logical to allow the proposed bonding to be attempted, and if it works for the Eldest Champion, then I think that Family Clan Short should allow it."

Catching the expression that JD was trying hard to hide, Ferris stated "You did great, little bro. Thanks for helping me before I realized I needed it."

JD's sudden smile said it all; the one person he had allowed himself to actually trust had just made this the best day of his life.

Trusting his gut instincts, Cory stated "Senior, the Clan Diplomatic Corps has determined that this should proceed, and I am in full agreement. Eldest Champion, Family Clan Short wishes to petition for the Bonding of Ferris as the Ffirapr to Hiaare and Raijhi with allowances for his genetic differences due to being Human."

The Eldest nodded seriously. "I have witnessed the Bonding test, and find the response to be fitting to the life stage of Hiaare and Raijhi. Proceed."

Having been given the luxury of a preview of what Fife had done by Tyler, Ferris took a seat on the ground and smiled at his prospective sons. Raijhi went first after a quick discussion with his brother, coming over to climb on Ferris' lap to sit chest-to-chest. Ferris massaged the area on the boy's back that would one day be covered with a mane and pony tail, while Raijhi buried his face under Ferris' ear and imprinted even more on his scent. A minute later, Raijhi lifted his wrist, which Ferris guided his own nose to. Making sure to concentrate, Ferris was able to detect the scent of Raijhi that was being secreted by the glands on the young boy's wrist. After about another minute, Raijhi shifted so that he was nose-to-nose with Ferris, then stated "Ffirapr," before giving Ferris a quick kiss. Raijhi then continued, "Your scent is in me, and mine in you. I am your little one, and you my Father."

Whispering as well, Ferris responded "Son, your scent is in me, and mine in you. I am your Father, and you are my Little One."

After a hug to seal the promise, Raijhi moved to repeat the process with his Uncle Ton, while Hiaare took his place on the lap of Ferris. The ceremony was repeated for Ferris, Ton, and JD; the only difference being that JD and Ton were Bonded as Uncles. After Hiaare finished with JD, the Eldest stated "The Bonding is complete; go forward with my Blessings as one Family."

"Kyle, could you please have whoever is, was, or will be on duty now log it, bro?" Cory asked with a grin.

After sticking out his tongue, Kyle responded "Seth's gonna run in and do it. Ferris, Seth says congrats!"

"Thanks!" Ferris replied as he finally figured out how to get both of his new sons to cuddle at the same time on his lap.

"Me and JJ will handle explaining things to your Mom and Dad," Adam offered. "Knowing Fife, he'll probably be giving you pointers as soon as he finds out, so you'll have it easier than we did."

The mention of his new parents caused Ferris to finally recognize one of the emotions he was feeling, which led to him putting himself in the virtual shoes of his new family. "Thanks, guys," he replied before turning his head towards the Senior. "Senior, is there a way the boys can contact you so they can keep you involved in their lives?"

Smiling at the concern, the Senior replied "Such contact would grieve them, as I am reaching a rapid decline. Just know that the Eldest has pledged his care in my last days."

Thinking for a second, Ferris made a decision. "I'm not going to allow them to lose you completely. Bond with me; make it so they know that you are with them whenever they are with me."

Shocked, the Senior replied "That would jeopardize the connection with your genetic parents, young one. The bond you request in Tesnian culture is only applied in cases where the birth bond is unhealthy for the cub."

"Ton and I's birth givers are dead to us in all ways," Ferris replied, his disgust obvious. "If that's what it takes to get rid of them the rest of the way, show me where to sign."

"Eldest," the Senior requested, shaken by the obvious hatred he sensed from Ferris, "I would like your guidance in how to proceed."

After looking at Ferris and Ton, the Eldest replied "While I see that there is pain, without more knowledge of the circumstances a decision is not possible."

Since he knew from Cory's earlier comments that Kyle could somehow get in people's heads like DJ could, Ferris turned to him. "Tell them, please!"

"Okay, Ferris," Kyle replied. "Eldest, would you be willing to accept a telepathic report on the conditions and events which led to Family Clan Short rescuing Ferris and Ton? Ton has mentally agreed to provide his information as well, since it overlaps with his brother."

"Proceed, Champion Kyle," the Eldest replied formally. Within seconds, the visitors got their first look at an extremely enraged adult Tesnian; hair on end, pulsing muscles, and a guttural growl that would rupture any Earth-produced subwoofer. "Senior, you are declared Toffprrfff to Ferris and Ton, and are instructed to initiate the Bonding of the Family of the Banished. It is ruled, and it shall be done. If JD wishes the same, it is granted with no additional evidence required."

"I shall comply," the Senior responded, suddenly glad he didn't know details after seeing the response of the Eldest.

Justy, Tyler, and Timmy moved over to Ferris. Justy smiled as the two cuddle-monsters latched on, then said "Guys, there's some stuff on Earth that really scared Fife until he understood it. Do you guys wanna sit with us and talk about that stuff while your Daddy and Uncles Bond with your Senior?"

"Daddy?" Both boys chorused as they looked up at Ferris' face.

"If they can help you not be scared, don't you think that would be good?" Ferris offered.

"Yes," both boys admitted after some thought.

"I'll be right here, and Timmy's there to protect you too," Ferris stated softly. "Pay attention, then you can tell me all about what you learned."

"Okay!" the boys replied, now energized because they were going to help their Daddy.

Once Justy, Tyler, and Timmy had the boys off to the side, the Senior began the detailed Bonding that was reserved for the worst situations in Tesnian society. Once done with Ferris, he moved to Ton. Without prompting, JD took a turn as well; unconsciously creating a human bond with his brothers that would be theirs alone for the rest of their lives.

Inside the Eldest's private residence, one hour later:

Relaxing after the rapid pace of their visit so far, the visitors were enjoying a virtual tour of the planet being given by the Eldest. On one seat, Cory had Timmy on his lap, Ferris had Hiaare and Raijhi on his, with Ton and JD cuddled together between the two parents. JJ, Adam, and Justy had the other seat, with Tyler and Kyle stretched out across the three older boy's laps.

Just as the Eldest had finished answering some questions that Timmy had asked, a chime sounded. Turning to Cory, the Eldest stated "I believe our guests have arrived, Patriarch."

"Great, this should make their day!" Cory responded with a grin. "Kyle, Ty? Check out the little guy; he's Fife's brother, so give him whatever you decide is needed, bros."

"Gotcha!" Tyler responded for both of them.

Knowing what was planned, Timmy shifted off of Cory's lap and joined his friends. Kyle and Tyler sat up as well, clearing the laps of their brothers just in case. Just as they were all in position, Traania entered the room, pushing a chair bearing a Tesnian boy and being followed by a Tesnian adult male.

"Eldest," Traania announced, "I present by your request Afhralid and his Bonded cub Hiafnia."

"Thank you, Traania; please allow Champions Kyle and Tyler to help Hiafnia be comfortable while you join us," the Eldest instructed. "Afhralid, please make yourself comfortable; I can assure you that your cub is going to be in safe hands."

"As you wish, Eldest," Afhralid replied with a bowed head.

To everyone's relief, the Eldest beat Cory to the punch. "Afhralid, within my walls all are equal. Please be seated and relax, as I do not pass judgment on guests within these walls."

"Thank you, Eldest," Afhralid replied, at least now looking the Eldest in the eyes. He took a nearby seat, then looked over to see what was being done with his son. He found him sitting in a soft chair with a human boy on either side of him, all three talking soft enough to not be heard.

Trying to reduce the stress of the latest arrivals, the Eldest did introductions. "Afhralid, Hiafnia, let me introduce our friends from Family Clan Short." Walking over to place a hand on the shoulder of each person as he introduced them, he continued, "Eldest Champion Cory Short, Patriarch of Family Clan Short. Champion Timmy Short, Cub of Eldest Cory. Overseer JD Schaffer. Overseer Ton Schaffer. Eldest Overseer Ferris Schaffer. Overseer Hiaare Schaffer, Bonded cub of Ferris. Overseer Raijhi Schaffer, Bonded Cub of Ferris. Family Champion Justy Short, brother of Cory. Family Champion JJ Richardson. Champion Adam Short, Bonded of JJ and Brother of Cory. Champion Kyle Richardson, Bonded brother of Cory, JJ, Justy, and Adam. And lastly, Champion Tyler Short, Bonded of Kyle, Brother of Cory and Justy."

"It is a pleasure to meet all of you," Afhralid acknowledged, his surprise at the titles indicated by the Eldest obvious.

After taking a seat, the Eldest explained "It has come to the attention of myself and Cory that the Council exceeded their authority, thinking themselves above the laws they themselves had written. Thanks to a very ... educational ... presentation by JJ, they have seen the errors of their ways. With that said, it would be best for Cory to explain the rest."

"Justy, you're up," Cory stated. "Due to personal involvement, I'm afraid I might not maintain control."

"Gotcha covered, bro," Justy nodded before standing up. "Afhralid, I know for a fact that you know my nephew, Fife. He became an orphan when his parents were killed in a pirate attack, and thanks to Grandpa O'Neil he was brought to Earth and bonded with Cory as a son."

"Was he hurt?" Afhralid interrupted.

"Not physically," Justy assured him. "Emotionally, it took Cory and Sean some time to help him recover. Thanks to him, we've learned a lot about Tesnia that is not general knowledge." Justy paused, turning his head. "Eldest, may I have your blessing to speak as you?"

"Your statements are as if they are my own," the Eldest confirmed.

"Hey Leeches, start recording!" Justy ordered before continuing. "Under authority of the Eldest Champion of Tesnia, Family Clan Short has reviewed the events following the death of the Family Female of Hiafnia. On the actions of the sitting Council requiring Fife to relinquish his Toffprrfff bond under duress it is ruled that their actions exceeded their authority under established precedents. Their ruling and the dissolution of the Toffprrfff Bond are hereby overriden, and Afhralid is ordered to resume the Tesffirapr and Toffprrfff Bonds that were unlawfully stripped from him. As the Bonded Parents of Fife, Patriarch Cory Short and his Bonded Husband Sean Short hereby accept the status of Afhralid and Hiafnia, and are prepared to finalize all bonds necessary to complete the Family."

"How?" Afhralid managed to ask, his mind still trying to catch up with the sudden turn of events.

"Don't ever let Cory catch a family being destroyed by authorities," JJ snickered. "By all rights, right now you should be raising Fife and Hiafnia. Fife escaped becoming Underclass by sheer luck, and once we found out about you, it was decided that one way or the other we were going to put his life back together. That means giving Hiafnia medical help that nobody else can provide, and giving you a chance to put your life back together on Earth without losing either one of your boys. Fife will remain Cory and Sean's son; you will just resume your place in his life as if his birth parents had survived."

"Eldest?" Afhralid asked hopefully.

"By the treaty between us and Clan Short," the Eldest explained, "things as they were are no longer the same. While I was given unilateral jurisdiction over this case by the Council, I have exercised my options under the treaty to allow Family Clan Short to resolve the issues discovered. Our culture has been chosen to help the Clan in their efforts to protect cubs of all planets; I believe your position in the Patriarch's family will be a comfort to our fellow families as they settle into their chosen positions within the Clan."

"Can we, Daddy? It sounds like fun!" Hiafnia purred as he climbed into Afhralid's lap and collected some long-overdue snuggles.

"I'm thinki... HAIF? YOU JUST WALKED!" Afhralid exclaimed in shock.

"Uncle Kyle and Uncle Tyler fixed me!" Hiafnia explained proudly. "They said there's still little stuff that Uncle Antonio's gotta fix, but the big stuff that's been messed up too long to be fixed by him they fixed for him so I can have fun with all of my brothers."

Afhralid's head spun to look at Kyle and Tyler, only to find them playfully swatting at the purple halos over each other's heads. "How? That's not possible!"

Justy tried to form his own halo as he commented "Darn it, I knew I forgot something! Our little brothers over there are one of the possible futures of Humanity. They're all human, but have some extra tricks up their sleeves that they use to fix things that weren't supposed to happen. You'll get used to it; just wait until you see their dragon illusions!"

Feeling pity for the man, Cory added "Afhralid? It's for real, and sometimes it's not quite this nuts. Compared to a lot of the residents of the Universe, Tesnia's the least likely to need our constant intervention. You're getting a look at how we look out for families, but since a lot of the Clan were not as lucky as me, JJ, and Justy we need adults who can help new families learn positive values. Fife almost worships you, so I can promise that you've already passed every test needed to join us and help out. The choice is ultimately yours, but you can count on us never allowing you to end up in the position you just spent the last couple of years in. You are Family to Fife; that makes you Family to me, and me taking care of those I consider family is what started Clan Short."

Enjoying the feeling of Hiafnia hugging him tightly for the first time in years, Afhralid considered the statements. Once certain of his thoughts, he replied "I see no other reasonable choice but to accept; you have went to great lengths to repair something that my own family just accepted as a fact of life. I have become a burden on them, and believe they would accept the reduced contact knowing that I have the chance to be productive once again."

"We'll help you swing by to tell them personally before we go," Cory offered. "Fife's not aware of what we're up to, so the arrival back home should be fun!"

"Tyler!" Justy giggled, "Make sure Tonio and Chris got their full kits!"

"I've got a dozen cookies that says Fife doesn't touch the ground between the stage and Afhralid!" Adam added.

"No bet, bro; he's trained by Timmy!" Cory stated with a grin, earning him a thumbs-up from his favorite son.

Two hours (Terran Linear time) later:

After a pit stop on Archnania to prepare the new arrivals for life on Earth (and Timmy's zoo), the group popped in and re-joined the rest of the Schaffer family. Fife was midway through the vocals on Queen's 'We are the Champions' when they appeared, but stopped mid-lyric when he realized who was standing with his Dad. 

One of many unique features of the Tesnian physiology is the dual sets of vocal chords they have; a feature that gives them an amazing vocal range, one that tests the limits of Human hearing due to each set being 'tuned' to a different frequency. In normal conditions, one or the other set is generally used. The main function of the dual sets is used less often, reserved for times where it is needed to be assured others are warned of danger. While there was no danger at this time, Fife's emotions still triggered the reflexive glandular and neuro-muscular response that caused his voicebox to go into overdrive, becoming the living equivalent of a pair of seriesed amplifiers as both voiceboxes operated in unison, the first amplifying the one following it.

"AFHRALID!" Fife yelled as he sprinted towards the edge of the stage. The unexpected 120 dB yell hitting the sound system inputs sent the cones of three stage monitors flying, and tripped two of Russ' three sound boards into overload protection. Fife cleared the first ten feet of spectators, then was caught and assisted to the ground. There was barely enough time to brace himself before Afhralid found his chest occupied by a crying, shaking, emotionally overloaded youth that was latched on for dear life.

On stage, after multiple tries DJ finally found a still-working mic at Pauly's drum kit, then announced "Hey y'all, we're gonna take a break to check on Fife. After he's recovered and Dilly's fixed what broke, we'll try that song again. Anyone with ringing in their ears, catch one of the Docs!"

With that said, the stage quickly vacated, the entire band wanting to know what caused this reaction from their brother.

Meanwhile, Cory was enjoying some cuddles from Hiafnia while Fife had Afhralid occupied. "You're about to get to meet the rest of your brothers," Cory stated to the furry leech attached to his side. 

"Brothers?" Hiafnia asked curiously.

"Yep," Cory replied. "Fife says that you are his little brother, and by Clan rules that makes all of his brothers your brothers. I'm surprised Timmy didn't tell you that."

"He was telling me the important stuff like how to get more cookies and where to hide things from Grandma." Hiafnia giggled. "He gave me a best cuddlers list too!"

"That's my Timmy," Cory laughed. "he makes sure his brothers know what he thinks is important."

Just then, DJ arrived and asked "Dad, what's goin' on? Fife's not talking to anyone right now."

"Deej, meet your little brother Hiafnia," Cory used as a start for his reply. "You remember Fife talking about the guy who was a cross between a Big Brother and a Godfather? That's who Fife's attached to right now. Hiaf is the cub that was injured, the one Fife calls his little brother." After a pause to make sure DJ understood, Cory added "Oh, Ferris went along with us, and was adopted by a pair of little Tesnians, so get ready for some 'Uncle Cuddles' requests."

By the time Cory finished speaking, DJ had transferred Hiafnia off of Cory's lap onto his own, and was getting ready to make the brother bond official. "Awesome. we knew you'd fix things!" DJ commented before turning his full attention to bonding with his new brother.


"Mom, Dad?" Ferris asked cautiously as he pulled his new sons close to his side. "I kinda got adopted by a pair of kids as their Daddy while we were out helping Fife's friends."

Julius and Viola exchanged glances before focusing on the group in front of them. The two little guys were obviously not human, but were latched onto Ferris as if they wanted to make sure he didn't go anywhere. Next to the new family, Ton and JD were both watching the reaction of their parents carefully, their posture signalling that they would step in if the wrong thing was said.

Julius smiled at his sons and apparent grandsons. "After meeting some of the other young parents here, my old reaction obviously isn't valid in this timeline. I think we all need to sit down with Cory to understand how they've made it work, but since you were with him I see no reason to doubt that they are really your sons."

Viola shook her head. "You think too much, hon. Ferris, congratulations! After everything Ton's said about you, I think you'll make a great daddy, and I'm looking forward to getting to know my new grandkids."

Relaxing now that he knew there wasn't going to be a fight, Ferris responded "The little guy on my right is Hiaare, he likes to be called Harri by family; on my left is Raijhi, he goes by Raij."

"You're a pair of cuties," Viola stated with a smile as she dropped to one knee. "Can Grandma have some 'welcome home' cuddles?"

"Go on boys; let me explain Bonding to your Grandma and Grandpa before you decide to start, okay?" Ferris said softly as he gave the boys a squeeze.

"Okay, Daddy," both boys chorused before launching towards Viola.

"Bonding?" Julius asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah!" Ton replied before Ferris could say anything, "It's awesome! Tesnians can smell each other from really far away, and when they bond with you they can tell where you are without even looking for you! Poppa Cory's Bonded with Fife, and he's so good that he can find Fife too!"

Smiling, Julius stated "JD, I see how you're watching Ton; if you guys are becoming more than friends, you have my full support. Ton, thank you for opening up; that sounds really interesting. Have all of you already done this?"

"Yeah!" Ton replied with a grin. "It was fun! That's how Tesnians tell they are family, because of the Bonding."

After giving Ton a quick hug, JD spoke up. "It ain't nothin' really hard, just cuddles and sniffin'. Something happens though, you can feel it when it's working."

"Interesting," Julius admitted. "I'll take my lead from you guys, since you know what to expect. You did a great job accepting another culture and becoming a part of it. I'm proud of all of you."

"Yeah, you guys did great," Ferris added as he pulled his brothers into a hug. "I'm glad you're my brothers." He then added "Dad? JJ and Adam said they'll fill you and Mom in on the details that you'll need."

"Thank you; something tells me we'll need it," Julius replied.

Looking over the heads of his little brothers, Ferris sniggered as he realized just what his new sons were up to. Obviously they had no concept of modesty, as evidenced by what little they had been wearing laying on the ground. What was even funnier was that their curiosity was triggered by their new discovery: female human breasts. In the process, everyone watching received a crash course in Tesnian physiology, with the two young ones giving animated demonstrations when they were not trying to feel the odd lumps their new Grandmother had on her chest.

"Dad?" Ferris asked to get Julius' attention, "I'd better warn you before you're next; Tesnians ain't really boys or girls. They got all the parts to be either, it's just that they are hid inside unless they are doing it. Their boobs are inside too, that's why the boys are fascinated with Mom. When they are furred, the ones that will physically do better as moms have a different tone to their fur."

"Well, they're persistant!" Julius chuckled. "If they can be either, why do you call them boys?"

"Cory told me that since what they're called in Tesnian doesn't translate, him and Fife discussed it. Pretty much until they give birth, the term 'boy' is close enough that Tesnians accept it as a Human equivalent. After they are parents, then man and woman are the acceptable words to use."

"I'll try to remember that," Julius acknowledged. "Are they always this free about their bodies?"

Ferris nodded. "If you saw some of the other residents of their planet, you'd understand. Think of a big pink bus with huge teeth and a mouth that could swallow you whole. Clothing slows you down, and if one of them is coming at you slow is the last thing you need. We saw two of them, and I'm probably not gonna be able to even fart for a week or two!"

"Yeah," JD added, "I thought we was gonna be lunch, but Timmy fixed it."

Seeing the question being formed by Julius, Ferris explained "Don't ask, Dad; really, you wouldn't believe it if we tried to tell you. Just remember to never piss off Timmy; Dylan's Dad and Pop are still trying to figure out how he did what he did."

Curious as to how Ferris' parents were taking his sudden new family, Justy had wandered over and overheard Ferris. "Good call, Ferris, I'm gonna see later if Mikey can figure it out; I'll let ya know if he's got anything. How's it goin'?"

"Pretty good, if you don't count my boys trying to check out their Grandma's boobs!" Ferris grinned.

"Just wait until they get up the courage to take a shower with you," Justy laughed. "Cory blushed for two days after Fife decided to try it."

"How do they wash up?" Julius asked, reading between the lines.

"They don't usually need to," Justy explained. "They don't sweat, and their fur doesn't hold dirt like our hair does. While they do have a scent, it is controlled and doesn't build up like our sweat does. If they need to clean up, they just wipe down. Being submerged in water is unknown to them, since chances are they'd be lunch if they tried it at home. Fife's getting better about it, but you still won't see him in a pool or at a beach."

"That pink thing Ferris was talking about?" Julius asked.

"Yeah, if it sounded unreal, he wasn't telling ya everything." Justy nodded. "The creature translates as 'Death Walker'; after seeing one live, horror movies will be about as scary as a kid's cartoon."

One hour later:

After looking over the pile of now-scrap electronics that Dylan had piled on one corner of the stage, (Complete with a sign that stated "Fife: 27, KC: 0, Timmy: 0.), Fife took Hiaf's hand and made his way towards center stage. He grinned as he noticed that all of his bandmates were now wearing military-grade hearing protection, and KC was standing with Timmy waiting for him to reach center stage.

"No fair!" Timmy challenged as the groups merged, "You launched cones and they ain't the ones made to launch!"

"Yeah, give us some warning next time, furball!" KC added, his smile giving away the fact he wasn't mad. "You almost hit the little twerp on drums with one of those cones!"

 Fife turned, and saw the cone that Joey had wedged under the band of his hearing protection. "He's your little brother, Crash; he's good at ducking!"

"Ain't that the truth!" Jerry Owens yelled from the crowd, signifying that the microphones were live.

Deciding that his family didn't need any more ammo, KC pulled the other three boys into a four-way hug. "I'm just glad everything worked out. Ya' ready to play?"

After the hug broke, Fife asked "Do you think CD would be up for some CTA?"

Once everyone was in place, Fife signalled Russ to activate the front'stage microphones. "We're BACK!" he announced with a grin. "For those of you that missed it because you were trying to kick soccer goals against Allie in back, this little guy here is my little brother Hiafnia! That means I gotta share him now, since he's just became OUR brother. He's not singing our first song, but he's gonna help out later, I promise. Before we start though, I gotta say one thing. Us Short kids have the best family in the WHOLE UNIVERSE! Dad, Uncle Justy, Uncle Kyle, Uncle Tyler, Uncle JJ, and Uncle Adam took Ferris, Ton, and JD to go fix something from my past without telling me. On Tesnia we have a relationship that is like a Godfather, best friend, and advocate all rolled into one; Daddy Cory went and rescued mine, bringing him and his son back to share with all of my brothers. This song is dedicated from all of us to our family that took us in at our worst times... thanks to you, we are 'Alive Again'  and kickin' butt!"

As Fife and Toby prepared for the lead vocals, Timmy, Pauly and Joey started the lead-in, quickly joined by the brass section and percussionists. Once Brandon came in on the bass line, the band settled in to the main body of the music.

Fife started off the lyrics, with Toby starting to harmonize with the second stanza. One thing was obvious, both vocalists were directing their full attention at Cory and Sean, ensuring the pair knew the song was just for them. Having planned ahead with KC, Fife immediately guided the band into their next song as soon as the final brass notes faded away. "Family Clan Short! Listen up, cuz' 'For Those About To Rock' we salute YOU!"

Anyone who had never seen Fife sing stared at the stage in shock, as they never would expect someone of his size to be able to drop that many octaves to match the vocals from AC/DC. To add to the effect, Fife announced "This one's for you, Uncle JJ!" before making it a double-header with 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap'.

The band worked through a few more songs, rotating lead singers as needed. While DJ was taking a shot as lead for 'Livin' On The Edge', Fife was fitting Haif with one of his spare faux boom microphones, which had been redesigned to provide Boron gas delivery for when Fife was singing. Once Fife was sure his brother knew how and when to use it, they waited for DJ to finish.

After finishing, DJ waited for the crowd, then stated "We want to apologize to all of our four-legged and winged friends ahead of time; Fife tends to go above human hearing range sometimes, and now he has help! Give us a minute to get ready, then we'll get going again."

"Bite me, Deej!" Fife joked as he took over the microphone. "You should hear what the birds say about you!" He adjusted it for Hiaf, then shifted a second one over for himself before saying "Go ahead, little bro."

Hiaf looked out over the party in awe before settling his gaze on his step-father. "Me and Fife learned this song because my ... Mommy ... used to listen to it all the time. We'd sing it with her and we got really good. I still hear it in my head, even though she's gone now. Mommy, I hope you're listening, because we're singing this for you."

For once, the party fell silent, respectfully waiting for Cory's latest addition to honor a parent he obviously loved. Onstage, the band triple-checked themselves, determined to give their brother their best effort.

CD raised his arms, signalling the strings and brass that he was ready to begin. As soon as he saw Fife's nod, he dropped them, and the band launched into the Bee Gee's 'If I Can't Have You'. Fife had the vocals up until the first chorus, then Hiaf finally joined in, giving the vocals more depth. Once the song finished, the pair of Tesnians shared a long hug while the crowd applauded their performance. As the crowd settled, KC grabbed a microphone and announced "We'll be back later; we've got a new little brother to spoil!"

To be continued...