DJ smiled as he looked around the living room; after breakfast, Rand had asked if anyone would be interested in watching Looney Toons cartoons. As soon as DJ, Chek, and Tanner signalled that they were interested, all of their sons and grandsons were suddenly onboard with the idea. Now, the boys were scattered in random cuddle-piles on the floor in front of their parents, giggling as they watched the insanity on the big screen. The rest of the families in the house joined as well, deciding that spending time together sounded like a great idea.
The room was full of giggles after Daffy Duck lost his beak once again. After tilting his head, Rand scooted over and whispered something to Chris, who suddenly became serious. After exchanging a glance with Finn, Chris stood up. "Guys, your Dad and me need to go help someone. Are you okay with staying with your grandparents while we handle it?"
"Sure, Pop," all their sons smiled.
"We're going too," Davner stated as him, Aiden, Terry, and Todd stood up.
Recognizing a war party forming, DJ stated "Kopa? Kovu? Could you go with them?"
Both cats nodded, their intentions clear as they instructed Rand's AI core that was monitoring them to outfit them in full gear. "Who is Team Lead?" Kopa asked seriously.
"Me," Finn stated, now outfitted in Clan robes like the rest of his team. "Zane and Zeke, we'll need you too. Suit up, then Dav's going to get us to where we need to be."
Shocked that they were being included, the Double Zs quickly ordered robes as they bounced to their feet. Suddenly finding themselves on the 'team link' being hosted by Davner, they were quickly in-the-loop about what was known.
Once everyone was ready, Davner bounced them to Archnania so they could openly discuss what triggered the need for them. Looking around the group seriously, Chris began. "Okay guys, now that we won't freak out the little ones, here's the deal. Just before the Battle of Earth, the Pacific Rim Division took out some orphanages run by a company called Zorro Communications. I'll put it this way; the best of the kids they rescued make AJ and Axel look like happy, normal kids; the worst of them are only human by their genetics, they've regressed into animals mentally. While Rand was chasing the reprogramming camps so that they can be dealt with, one of his leads led to something that Alden from PRD was just getting to."
Stopping to make sure that everyone was onboard still, Chris looked around the group. The anger he saw in each of their eyes told him that they fully understood. "Okay, now for what we know. We know the place was ran through a few shell companies by a man whose last vision was a group of ferrets terminating him in the desert. Alden's taking down the companies from the top down; we're going in to get the kids and start the process from the bottom up. Telepaths, everything you get, give it to our furry friends Kopa and Kovu. They'll pass it to the UNIT tactical channel, and the UNIT teams will coordinate their response with the FBI response."
"By being at the camp, any kid we find is immediately a Ward of Clan Wagner until DJ declares otherwise. Finn and me will be doing on-site triage; Telepaths, force scan the adults first, then ask the kids to let you get evidence from them. Kovu and Kopa, Davner's with you for security, and Finn will be judging. Aiden, it's time to use your skills; keep your eyes open and relocate anything or anyone that you think needs it. Dav, you compile the charges in one of the rooms in your head and get it to Finn. Any questions?"
"If terminations are ordered, who is going to do them?" Kopa asked.
"Either one of you, or anyone that you call in to take over," Chris stated. "Alden's already called for a Vulcan to be ready for all of us afterwards, since only a few of us have seen this kinda stuff before."
Kopa nodded, "That works for me; we'll see how many and why, then we'll decide if we need to call in someone."
"Good plan," Finn interrupted. "Telepaths, are you ready to start grabbing? There's a chance Kopa and Kovu might need to stun the adults to protect us."
"I'll freeze time on them if we need it," Davner stated, "They'll have time."
"Thanks, bro," Finn smiled. "Once everyone's ready, let's hit it."
Markie Ferguson appeared to be watching the 'demonstration' being given of what happens to sinful boys who stimulate their private areas, but he had actually retreated into a safe area that his consciousness had created in his mind. The six-year-old was just glad it wasn't him this time; the last time had put him in bed for a few weeks while his throat and rectum healed from the surgery that both had required. Suddenly, his subconscious pulled him into the front of his brain, where he realized that everyone appeared frozen in position.
Seconds later, a group of kids appeared in the room, two of which were furry and holding phaser rifles. The smallest boy, a kid with bright red hair, ran over to Markie with a curious look on his face. "Hi, I'm Davner. How'd you do that?"
"Do what?" Markie asked, "Why ain't they movin?"
"Because I saw what they were doing, and I stopped it before he was hurt more," Davner stated. "We're here to rescue you and the rest of the kids from these buttwipes. I can see into heads, can I come in yours and see how you didn't freeze, and I'll explain what I did to do this."
"I guess," Markie shrugged, figuring if he said no that this kid would do it anyway.
"I wouldn't force you," Davner stated mentally. "That's against the telepath rules unless you're a bad guy. You wanna take a walk with me through your memories of what has happened here? That way we know who needs punished for hurting you."
Markie started to reconsider his impression of this little kid. "You're just kids. What can you do?"
"I'm not from Earth," Dav replied, telling the truth, just not all of it. "We're part of Family Clan Short; it is our jobs to take out buttheads that rape kids. Those guys that are raping the boy over there will be dead before we leave; Vulcan justice states if we witness it happening, there is no other choice."
Markie mentally nodded. "I wanna watch. They think it's funny when we have to get surguried."
Davner was relaying things as he found them; that little tidbit caused both cat-boys to hiss, communicating in no uncertain terms that two men were going to pay dearly. Davner began going through memories, shielding his mental host when needed to prevent him re-living the abuse. Once the investigation was completed, Davner looked into Markie's mental structure. "Oh crap!" Davner exclaimed audibly. Mentally, he stated "I'm glad we found you; I'll explain later, but for now I can say that you've got a very special brain. It's all good, but if you didn't know people that can train you, it coulda turned bad."
"Okay," Markie replied, something deep inside him telling him he could trust this boy absolutely. That same something had served him well through his short life, warning him if he should try to avoid a certain person; unfortunately, his parents were unavoidable no matter what that instinct told him.
While Davner was busy with Markie, the telepaths found that they were able to still scan the multiple adults in the room while on a different time standard. By the time Davner stepped back from Markie, they had completed their scans and reported their findings.
In a flat tone that could instantly freeze boiling water on the surface of the sun, Finn stated, "Kovu, Kopa. Stand by to terminate those two as soon as everyone's unfrozen, as required by Vulcan Law. Aiden; before we unfreeze, see if you can pull them out of this kid. Chris and I will catch him if you can't hold him too. Davner, you've got emergency medical on the kid; use your judgement on how far you need to go. Everyone else, spread out so that you can start talking to the kids while we handle the assholes. Hit it!"
The only thing that kept Aiden from ripping the two men away from the eleven-year-old with extreme prejudice was the possibility of injuring the boy even more. Once they were no longer in physical contact, however, he put all of his anger and disgust at what he had seen into forcibly throwing them at the only wall not blocked by kids that were being forced to watch. Before anyone could say a word, both men had been implanted in the drywall of the nearest wall.
Quickly scanning the pair with a tricorder, Finn announced "No life-threatening injuries, but they'll definitely feel it the few seconds they have left. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the wall."
"Check me, Chris," Davner added. "I think I got it all; he's lucky we showed up."
Chris quickly ran a scan, then stated "What you didn't do, I can handle after we're home. You did a good job, Dav."
"Is Ivan going to be okay?" Markie asked as he joined Davner. "He tries to be a big brother when they ain't lookin'."
"He's going to be better than he's been in a long time," Davner stated. "Stick next to me, and look out for flying adults; I'm getting ready to unfreeze time the rest of the way."
"I'll handle the rest of the perverts," Aiden growled. "I promise they will not see the Happy Hunting Grounds if they do more than blink."
"Keep an eye on Ivan, bro," Finn stated. "I think he realized who stopped his torture, according to Zeke. The partial freeze that Dav had to use so that you could do your part, and he could do his healing, allowed Ivan's consciousness to pick up on what was going on. That means he probably knows that you launched the assholes into the wall."
"Anyone gets near him, I practice bowling," Aiden stated firmly.
"I'll keep score," Finn replied. "Everyone ready?" Once he was sure that they were ready, Finn nodded at Dav to go ahead.
As soon as they were signalled by Davner that time was back to normal, Kopa and Kovu took aim at the two men trying to pull themselves out of the wall and vaporized them. This caused the rest of the adults that were standing up to pause long enough for the two cats to turn towards them. "On the floor!" Kovu growled. "Now, or you join the other two in Hell immediately!"
Not willing to chance the temper of the two cats, all four adults immediately dropped to the ground. After glaring at them, Finn turned to the seven wide-eyed nude boys who were trying to figure out just what was happening. "Welcome to Family Clan Short, guys. I'm Finn Wagner, son of DJ Wagner, Patriarch of Clan Wagner of Family Clan Short. Within micro-seconds of us arriving, every single one of you were declared as wards of the Clan, which means you get to leave with us. We're gonna let you watch as we judge these adult asswipes who were using you all to get their rocks off. You're gonna hear some voices in your heads shortly; our telepaths are going to ask you to help us make sure we know everything that was done to you. Telepaths can't lie in your head, so you can ask any questions you have. Once I know everything these assholes did, we'll hold court."
Next to Aiden, Ivan asked "Why ain't I hurt like I usually am?"
Aiden smiled, keeping his eyes on the adults. "Davner's my little brother, and he's really special. He fixed you so you could watch us sending these perverts to Hell."
"I dreamed that the two that just got shot floated away from me then flew into the wall with nobody touching them," Ivan whispered.
"That wasn't a dream; I can move stuff with my thoughts," Aiden stated, hoping he wasn't saying too much too soon.
"Thank you, they were being really rough," Ivan said softly. "I thought I was gonna die."
"I won't let that happen any time soon," Aiden replied. "We'll have lots of time to talk when we get home, where I know that you're safe.
Ivan's reply was a small smile; from the sounds of it, his savior wasn't planning on letting him go anytime soon.
Now that he had all of the reports, Finn turned to the cowering adults with his temper only being held back by his desire to exact justice. "As authorized under the Federation Safe Haven Act, Clan Wagner of Family Clan Short of the House of Surak of the planet Vulcan hereby claims sole jurisdiction over the events both locally and remotely from this location which affected the youth present. After review of telepathically retrieved evidence, the relationship between all youths present and their genetic parents is hereby revoked permanently, subject to judicial review, due to violations of the Safe Haven Act. Clan Wagner hereby takes guardianship of all present youths until such time as they are able to be placed with suitable families. This court finds the adults present guilty of imprisonment, non-consensual rape of multiple minors, attempted brainwashing, failure to provide adequate food and clothing, and multiple counts of murder. All adults are summarily sentenced to death, said sentence to be delivered immediately. As son of DJ Wagner, Patriarch of Clan Wagner, my word is given."
Turning to the two cats, Finn stated, "You may proceed, brothers."
"Wide beam," Kovu ordered, "Time to restock the Sehlot Food Bank."
Kopa nodded, and made the necessary adjustments. "On your count, bro."
"Three ... two ... one ... FIRE!" Kovu counted, then fired his phaser rife.
Once the two cats secured their weapons, Chris verified no life signs on any of the four adults. Once verified, he asked "Dav, could you deliver these four to FCS Headquarters? I'm sure Mar'jur is waiting for his snack."
"He's already wearing a bib," Davner giggled as the four bodies vanished.
Relaxing now that the adults were gone, Finn stated, "Guys? Lets go outside, that way you can watch your nightmare being destroyed. Once that's done, we'll swing by Clan Headquarters, then after we're done there we'll go home and do introductions while we're watching cartoons. Chris and his brother Antonio will do medical workups on all of you, then as soon as they say you're okay we'll get you some real food. You don't need to worry, you're not going back where you came from, and some of our uncles are retrieving your brothers for the ones who had siblings. Your former parents are being evaluated, and from what I saw most of them will probably go to jail for a long time. If the parents are innocent, whoever is responsible will be prosecuted; even the FBI is not immune to us. Innocent parents will be invited to join the Clan for their own protection, and their families will be restored."
"We don't have any clothes to put on to go outside," Ivan informed Finn.
Tapping his commbadge, Fin stated "Could one of you AIs please get some clothes for the new guys?"
"I'm getting sizes now, Finn," George replied. "I'll drop them in front of each of the boys. When you stop by my CIC before you go home, we'll take care of emergency health issues. I've got an update for you; the family checks are completed for your group of boys, and the teams are now working on former 'camp' prisoners. Seth and Justy will assist you with getting your rescued boys situated, and Grandpa Spock will handle post-trial melds."
"Got it George, thanks!" Finn replied as piles of clothes started appearing.
"The clothes have been chosen with probable long-term injuries in mind," George added. "Kyle and Ty are standing by for your arrival as well, that way they can assist if the doctors decide it is needed."
"Okay, we should only be a couple of minutes," Finn replied. "I've got two brothers who need to de-stress, one Archnanian and one Navajo; I'm sure they'll only take a minute or two to level this place!"
"I've got it set to show it on the big screen!" George chuckled. "I'll be watching!"
Finn grinned, then checked to make sure everyone was dressed. "Okay guys; you need to leave the pain and guilt about what was done to you inside here; that way it gets destroyed with the building. Once you're done tossing it on the floor, meet me outside and we'll set these two loose to blow off some of their anger about what was done TO you."
"Damn, they're good!" Jory giggled as he watched Aiden and Davner pulverize the former 'camp'. Turning to the two adults next to him, he stated, "Mr. and Mrs. Goldblum? You're going to need to tell Kris up front that you know what happened to him, and that it was not his fault. He needs to know that you still love him."
Mr. Goldblum looked over at the three youth standing nervously on the other side of his wife. "If everything goes well, him and the other boys are going to have a big brother and two other brothers to remind them."
Jory nodded. "Remember, it's their choice."
Just then, the rescued boys and the Clan Wagner team appeared on the other side of Seth. Antonio popped in a second later, scanning the group as soon as he saw them.
"Dammit!" Antonio cursed as he started getting initial results. "Kyle? Ty? Get your asses in my head; these boys ain't in no shape for the normal route. I'll call it, you fix it; me and Chris'll deal with the small shit later."
Jory sniggered at the shocked looks on the new adult's faces. "Talk to Mom; she'll explain 'Tonio. He's being nice right now; he gets a little wound up about crap like this."
"George! Insta-dip time! Jory, North Atlantic!" Antonio growled as he started doing detailed scans on each of the rescued boys. "I swear those son-of-a-bitches were trying to kill these boys! Ty! Hurry, this one's about ready to rupture! Good thing you killed those elephant-ass-licking low life assholes, Finn; you saved me the trouble."
As Antonio did his thing, Chris walked over to the Goldblums. Not bothering with introductions, he stated "Every single one of them is malnourished to some extent. All of them are on a semi-soft diet for the next couple of days until their throats and rectal regions have recovered completely. Most of them have at least one joint that has been dislocated, and your biological son is now recovering from two cracked ribs. Do NOT try to be alone with any of them; they will need to have at least one of their siblings present for their own mental stability for some time. Do NOT try to make them talk about what they went through; they will tell you once they have dealt with it in their own way AND they learn to trust you."
"I understand, I've been there," Mr. Goldblum stated. "I'm Jake Goldblum, and this is my wife Hannah. You are?"
"Doctor Chris Barnes, Family Clan Short Medical," Chris replied.
Deciding that after the way they were contacted that there was a high chance that Chris was really a doctor, Jake stated "After what we went through to verify it was safe to get Kris back, if he wants it, I have no problems with your orders. Teri has already arranged for us to move in here, so I'm sure that if we need help, she can call the right Clan members in to assist."
"You do that, and Kris has a chance at becoming a survivor," Chris stated. "You're going to be watched, both for his protection and yours."
"Ours?" Hannah asked.
"Sometimes abused kids become physically or emotionally dangerous," Jake stated before Chris could answer. "There's a reason we don't see my family much; due to half of them turning a blind eye, I'm not confident that I wouldn't kill at least a few of them."
"He's right," Chris nodded. "That also means that he understands where I'm coming from; like him, most of the youth, kids, and teens here know what to look for, because they have either been there or helped one of their friends. If its caught early, then it can be fixed before someone gets hurt."
The fifteen-year-old that was waiting to see how things worked out moved over towards Chris. "Doc? I'm Owen; one of those guys is my little bro, and I kinda hope more of them become my little brothers. What do I need to do?"
Chris turned to Owen. "You're gonna have the hardest job if that happens. You've got to BE a big brother. That means when they need to burn off stress or an emotional overload, you need to let them wrestle with you. When they need to talk, you need to listen, not judge them, and keep what they tell you private unless it could hurt them. When they are scared, you need to let them cuddle with you, even if you don't know what is scaring them. They're going to come to you before any adult; if you need to get an adult to help or to answer something that you don't know, you have to get their permission first."
"I can do that," Owen replied after some thought. "What if I mess up?"
"Tell them that you messed up, and talk out how it makes you and them feel," Chris replied. "That's how we do it in the Clan, and anyone affected is involved in the discussion. It works, and the entire group learns something at the same time."
"Okay," Owen nodded.
With all of the boys healed and Spock's melds completed, Finn got their attention. "Okay guys, I've got some updates. Kris? Your parents passed all of our checks; the school shrink and the judge that sent you away are on their way to a prison planet after what we found. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the parents didn't make it; the ones that were involved directly with trying to get their son reprogrammed have joined the judge and school shrink. One other set felt they would be unable to deal with the situation, and turned over custody."
"That figures," Ivan grumbled, "they were never real parents anyway; that's how my aunt got her claws in me."
Finn nodded. "I thought you'd figure it out. Just so you know, your aunt was the one who led her church to recommend that camp, along with getting paid for each kid she referred. She's not going to prison; she was terminated due to purposely continuing the process with full knowledge of what was happening."
"I hope they vaporized her," Ivan mumbled. "I don't know what a Sehlot is, but they don't need to eat her poisonous carcass."
"They did," Finn giggled. "Here's the deal; those of you that had siblings, they are waiting for you to decide where you are going so that they can join you. Since they not only passed our checks, but decided to move into this compound to help the Clan, the parents of Kris have offered to adopt any of you that would like a family that includes someone that you know understands what you lived through. Kris, not only do they still want you, but your Dad lived through abuse of his own, so he's able to understand your feelings and fears. You have the choice still, but I promise that they still want and love you."
"Thanks for checkin' on the stuff I was worried about," Kris stated softly. "I'm goin' back; it ain't their fault, they tried to stop me havin' to go."
"Does anyone want to legally become Kris's brother?" Finn asked.
All but two hands raised; neither Ivan nor Markie had any intention of living anywhere away from their rescuers. Fully expecting this based on what he knew, Finn stated "All of you that are getting adopted, go with Kris to meet your new family; Jory's going to handle making it official. The rest of us will sit down with Ivan and Markie to figure out what they're looking for in a new home. Don't worry, all of you will be able to keep in contact and visit each other if you want; we just live over across the field."
"Uncle Kyle?" Davner asked, "Can you come home with us? Markie's moving into my bedroom with me, but we need your help in his head."
"Sure," Kyle replied, knowing better than to question an Archnanian.
Ivan looked around the remaining group. "I'm goin' wherever Aiden goes." he stated firmly.
Aiden smiled, having already been warned by the telepaths that Ivan was making that decision. "I just talked to my cousin Ty; he's getting the bedroom reconfigured for three of us. You'll like Ty; he's really good at explaining how being part of the Clan is different."
"You have to share a room with your cousin?" Ivan asked.
"No, it ain't like that," Aiden replied quickly before Ivan could continue. "I just joined the family, and Ty asked me if I wanted to share with him. The bedrooms are huge, and since he's twelve, it made it so there was someone close to my own age to talk with before going to sleep."
"Oh, okay," Ivan replied. "That don't sound too bad, then."
Finn finished making sure that the kids that were staying at Headquarters were comfortable with Jory getting them set up with necessities. He rejoined his group just in time to hear Davner explaining the plan he had for their return.
"... What I'm gonna do," Davner was explaining, "Is drop us back in time so that everyone thinks we were only gone a couple of minutes. Mom, Dad, and Pop will probably guess that I did that, but the other guys will just ignore it. I gave enough time for Aiden to talk to Ty, so everything's good."
"You've been hanging around Dilly too much, Dav!" Kyle giggled. "Let's go, we're missing Bugs Bunny!"
"We're back!" Finn announced as they re-entered the room, having arrived just outside the door to avoid surprising the rest of the kids.
"How'd it go?" Tanner asked as him, Chek, and DJ stood to welcome the new faces they saw. "Only two? I expected a few more."
"One set of parents passed," Finn explained. "The rest decided to join their family, they're moving into Grandma Teri's place. The big new guy is Ivan, and the little guy is Markie, Ivan's planning on looking into all the families here before he decides, but Markie's swore that only Dav's family is what he wants."
After asking Rand to pause the cartoons, DJ had walked over to the new kids and introduced himself. "Welcome home, guys; I'm DJ, that's Tanner, and that's Chek. We're the parents of Finn, Dav, Aiden, and about a third of the other kids here. You'll hear them calling me 'dad', Tanner 'pop', and Chek 'mom'; since Chek is from a place that doesn't have boys or girls, he's Mom since he gave birth to Dav."
Ivan started to reach out to shake DJ's hand, only to find himself pulled into a hug. Speaking softly, DJ added, "Ivan, I'm the Patriarch of Clan Wagner too. That makes me the parent of everyone here, including the adults. No matter which family you choose, I'm always here for you."
For the first time that he could remember, Ivan felt the comfort of someone in charge of his well-being actually caring about him. It didn't matter that DJ was only slightly older than him; what mattered was that DJ had taken the time to personally ensure that he knew he was family now. Instinctively, Ivan latched on to DJ, unable to find words to express what he was feeling.
While DJ was busy with Ivan, the rest of Clan Wagner was welcoming Markie to the family. Davner guided Chek off to the side after he'd given Markie a quick welcome cuddle; Dav wanted to make sure he'd not messed up. "Mom? I had to teach Markie about time-walking; I couldn't loop him without his help. He ain't able to be bubbled unless he knows it and allows it."
In less than a second, Chek and Davner were joined by Kyle, Dylan, and Thomas. Without warning, Kyle brought Chris and Antonio into the group as well. "Could you repeat that?" Kyle asked with concern.
Davner nodded, knowing that this could be major. "Markie can't be bubbled, his head blocks it unless he knows about it. He has to move himself in time loops, I can't move him."
"Oh, shit!" Antonio muttered. "The tricorder can't go that deep." Tapping his subvocal, Antonio stated, "Council Medicus to Ark. Are you able to identify and deep scan the youngest boy that was just rescued? I need a full profile on Markie, including genetic trace."
< I anticipated your request, Medicus. Tyne and Miah are reviewing my initial report while I gather the historic data. Once they have added their conclusions, it will be delivered. > .
"Thank you, Ark," Antonio replied before tapping his badge again. Looking around, he told the group "If Tyne called in Miah, that means there's a good chance that we just gained a very unique little brother."
"Do you realize that one'a Ark's full reports weighs more than you do?" Kyle giggled. "If anything was serious, Tyne and Miah would already be here, so now let's get Markie welcomed."
Trying to be helpful, Davner commented, "When I was goin' through his head for stuff for evidence, even though I couldn't see it, his head kinda felt like Uncle Dilly's head, just not as empty."
As everyone else began giggling, Dylan sputtered "Hey! What did I do to deserve that!"
Realizing what he'd said, Davner grinned. "I meant I didn't feel all the rooms you got, but since there are a buncha empty ones in there, I guess I was still right!"
"We'll get the munchkin later, hon," Thomas stated with a grin. "Right now, we've got a new nephew to help."
Dylan nodded after giving Davner one of his rare grins that indicated his plotting of revenge was well underway. "Okay babe. Dad? Does what Davner said mean what I think it does?"
Kyle vocalized his thoughts. "Based on that, my first guess would be Founder roots, at least partially. Even though that would explain the structure, it doesn't explain the time warp immunity. That one's got me stumped."
"Antonio and Kyle, this is Tyne. Stand by for an audible summary report over subvocal." Tyne's voice announced on Kyle's commbadge.
"Gotcha, Tyne, thanks from both of us!" Kyle replied.
"Should I be worried?" Chris asked. "A secure private summary?"
Antonio shook his head. "Tyne don't play that way. If there was a problem, he would have stated it; this just means that they think there are things that are best kept away from general public knowledge. My guess is that it's related to either something from back when the Founders were active, or it's a mutation on restricted tech from a previous cycle that re-appeared in the gene pool."
Before anyone could reply, both Kyle and Antonio tilted their heads, signalling that the report summary was coming in. As they were listening, Davner suddenly stated "I'll be right back, Uncle Tyne needs me!"
"I bet he wants to see what Dav saw in Markie's head," Dylan stated at the surprised looks from all but Antonio and Kyle.
Davner popped back in, a huge grin on his face. "Daddy, Pop, Mom? Uncle Miah says I'm interesting, but Uncle Tyne says you're giving him a headache, so stop it! He says to tell you the Universe don't need more subspecies!"
After a quick conference in Kyle's head, Antonio looked around the group, which now included DJ. "Okay, thanks to Miah and Tyne, we have some answers. A while back, we found out that there were backup kids in God's plan in case Kyle didn't make it to becoming King of the Mikyvis; since he did, they are not gonna go all the way like he did. Miah actually consulted with Quint, and they think that our cousin Kane down in Australia and Markie were the two closest to switching. Kane was close enough that he had to turn, but Markie seems to have been Kane's backup, so he's not critical."
"Now for the fun; Markie's time twisting skills actually activated anyway, just limited to what is actually going on wherever he is physically. He's gonna need trained, or else weird shit's gonna happen around him as he gets older. Like Kyle, he's got Founder genetic roots, but his seem to be random and weaker; he's about seventy percent somehow, yet his parents were only carrying recessive genes. He's got the triple rooms, plus a few more that he seems to be using on instinct only right now."
Kyle took over the report. "We think that because he's also got almost all of the pieces to be N-Gen might be why he's able to use Time, since that's one of my primary skills. I don't wanna do it, because it feels like I'm playing God, but considering he's six but has been at that reprogramming camp for eight years, I think I'll have to take him to fully N-Gen to stabilize him."
"Hold on, Uncle Kyle," DJ interrupted, "I don't think that's you playing God. You've had to do a lot of stuff that saved the world, but now you're being given a chance to help one of the kids who almost had your destiny. Is there a chance this might just be a reward for all that you did?"
"I dunno," Kyle admitted with a shrug. "This feels like a fixed point, but no matter what I do the future ain't changing."
"I guess that means to turn off that multi-dimensional brain of yours, and listen to your hearts ... both of them," DJ prodded with a smile.
"Stop using Cory's tricks!" Kyle giggled. "He just said the same thing! I wouldn't want anyone to go through what I did, so my hearts say help him however he needs me to."
"Well get to helping, and take Dav with you since he already knows his way around in parts of Markie's head. Just fill me in once you're done, okay?"
"I'm telling Timmy that you're getting too much like his Daddy," Kyle threatened. "See if I share my cookies with you any more!"
"You ready yet, Uncle Kyle?" Davner and Markie chorused from behind him, causing Kyle to jump in surprise.
"You're definitely DJ and Tanner's kid, Dav," Kyle grumbled after his feet hit the ground. "C'mon you two, I need to get back home so I can plot getting even with your Dad."
Trying hard not to giggle as Kyle, Dav, and Markie headed of for a private area, Antonio stated "Ark's identified a genetic sequence in an area modern humans haven't figured out yet that Kyle, Kane, and Markie have in common. Ark thinks it might be a good marker of anyone else like them, and it is doing a full scan to see if it can find any others."
"Thanks, I was starting to worry about that," DJ admitted. "Let me know if any positives are found. Let's join everyone else, we really need more cartoons right now!"
DJ got a pleasant surprise once he sat down to resume the cartoon marathon; while Finn and Sylys were in their expected spot on his lap, Aiden, Ty, and Ivan decided to form a cuddle-pile directly at his feet. As Aiden had guessed, Ivan and Ty hit it off instantly, and now all three were in the process of getting to know each other better.
By the time the next cartoon started, Kyle, Dav, and Markie were back in the crowd, relaxing as they watched along with the rest of the boys. The cartoons helped the two new boys relax; sharing time with their new family giving them a sense of normalcy that had been missing from their lives.
Matt found himself in the center of his own cuddle-pile. Since Danny had insisted that Noah and Caleb take a few days for family time, Hunter and Ron insisted on catching up on Grandpa cuddles as they watched the cartoons and got to know their new twin cousins. Gabe and Travis received their own surprise, as JR, AJ, and Axel decided to join Davey and Jimmy. Small groups gathered around those who were familiar with cartoons, asking questions as they learned about this strange new type of entertainment.
Realizing that nobody was planning on moving anytime soon, after the first hour Mary worked her way out of the room to visit the kitchen. When Rand saw what she was doing, he joined her in case she needed some help.
Once they were in the hall, Mary asked "Don't you want to watch the cartoons?"
Rand grinned. "I am watching; I'm monitoring one of the cameras! Let me guess, you're worried that nobody's asked for snacks?"
Mary smiled. "Close; you better have Caleb check your logic circuits. No matter how hungry they's gettin', ain't a single one of those boys gonna miss the first normal kin time they've had with the families they got now. Some of them ain't never had it, and I'm not 'bout to ruin it."
"I know what you mean," Rand acknowledged. "I'll give you a hand, and once we've got everything ready, I'll take care of setup and delivery. Going by what I know, you probably need to make it clear that accidents happen, but nobody will get in trouble. If I can't clean up what they don't or can't pick up, Dilly just told me that he'll help."
"Knowin' what some of those boys done gone through," Mary noted as they walked, "I think it's the adults you gotta watch; them boys are gonna be careful out of habit."
"Especially Matt," Rand sniggered, "he's worse that his sons!"
Arriving in the kitchen, Mary asked "Is there anything I need to watch out for with the new boys or our guests?"
Rand nodded. "Semi-soft food for the new guys, and like a lot of the others they're on the nutritional shakes. I'd go small for everyone, and if they want another I can get it for them; maybe we could do a self-serve cooler to save running?"
"While that would work, how are you going to get it cold before we need it?" Mary asked.
"Let me check with Stevie, I think the AI Hospital has a few they use," Rand stated. A few seconds later, he added, "Stevie says they have four free right now, he'll send one over as soon as it's loaded; the kitchen staff insisted after they heard the count. He says they've got pictures and words for labels, so even the little guys should be able to find something they like. Since the hospital kitchen has drinks handled, we just need to worry about food."
"This will take getting used to," Mary smiled, "but I think I'll learn to like having help like that."
"You wanna see our bedroom?" Ty asked as Ivan finally managed to finish the blueberry shake he had grabbed.
"Uncle Dilly says he'll meet us there to help get what you want when you're ready," Aiden added. "He already got your things from your old house, all you have to do is decide what to keep."
Still having doubts about the claims that the bedroom wouldn't be crowded with three of them, Ivan shrugged as he replied "Why not?"
Recognizing the tone in Ivan's voice, Ty smiled as he stated, "I know how you feel, Cuz; I didn't believe it either. This is all for real, though; insane, but real."
"I'll get back to you on real," Ivan quipped, "but I agree about insane."
After a quick stop to let their respective parents know where they were going, Ty led his cousins out of the living room into the second floor hallway. None of the three noticed the knowing looks they had received as they left the room hand-in-hand, nor had they heard when Markie softly asked "Please God, let Ivan be happy."
"We'll walk this time, this is the second floor. The first floor's where a lot of official stuff is done." Ty explained. Pointing to his right, he asked, "You see those things that look like elevators?"
Ivan nodded, "Yeah?"
"Those are turbolifts, just like on starships," Ty said. "Any one of them will take you to any other one here, or any that are in the rest of the buildings here in Orlando. It's one big network; George, the AI over at Headquarters, runs it, and I guess Rand helps him now. Since Aiden's just used them to get around here too, I thought it would be fun to walk around and look at things as we're going to our room."
Pointing at the only door in the hallway to the turbolift, Ty explained "That's the conference room; we use it for important meetings that we only need some of us at." He then led them through a doorway at the end of the hall in front of them, which led to another hall. Pointing to his right, he added, "That goes to where the adults live, and to a viewing room where people can watch what's happening in the pool."
"The adults don't live with us?" Ivan asked skeptically.
"Nope," Ty answered, "They know that there are a bunch of us who wouldn't feel as safe, so they decided to have their own area. It makes it easy if you need an adult at night too, since all of them are right there, and they don't care whose kid you are if you need help, an adult to talk to, or just adult cuddles."
"That don't stop them from sneaking into our room, though," Ivan stated.
"No, but Rand does," Aiden interjected. "He's our security too, since he never sleeps. If any of them tried anything bad, Rand would catch it before they touched you. Rand would teleport them into the nearest security cell, and then wake up Dad. Since they're parents of Clan members, trying to do anything like those buttwipes did to you is an immediate death sentence, under Vulcan Law. The only reason Rand won't do it himself is that Grandpa Cory and Dad won't pass sentence until there's been a telepathic check."
"You actually remembered all of that from what I told you when you asked what Ivan did?" Ty grinned.
"Yeah, I knew it was important," Aiden giggled.
"You made it sound like it's happened before," Ivan noted as Ty led them through the doorway to the left.
"It did, but the asshole never made it to the point of trying anything," Ty spat. "He had blocked part of his head from regular telepaths; he screwed up and mouthed off to the wrong people, which caused Grandma Teri, Patriarch Cory, and Kyle to be called. Kyle caught the block, and turned the guy's head to jelly breaking it and getting the real story. Cory ended up vaporizing him, and now everyone gets checked for blocks before getting the OK to join us."
"Damn," Ivan muttered, suddenly understanding just how serious his new family was about protecting their own. "Did he have kids?"
"Yes, and they were immediately placed with another family that they were already familiar with, after Cory verified that they still trusted the Clan and wanted to be part of it," Ty replied.
"Thanks," Ivan stated, now understanding that the assurances of his safety were actually based on previous events. He looked around the large room they were standing in, and exclaimed "HOLY CRAP!" before he could stop himself.
"That's what I said too!" Aiden giggled. This is the Rec Room; we've got games, toys, racetracks, old time video game consoles, and even a couple of really old pinball machines!"
"Does everyone just leave stuff when they're done?" Ivan asked as he noticed half-built Lego projects, partially done puzzles, and random things scattered throughout the room.
"The little guys like bouncing around and doing three or four things at once," Ty grinned. "The standing rule is put it away if you're done, but you can leave it if you're coming back. Sometimes, there's projects that a group are working on, and they'll leave it so each of them can do stuff when they have a minute; that Lego project is a castle that the munchkins are building."
"How'd you get the adults to allow that?" Ivan asked.
"I'll take that one," Aiden replied. "It makes more sense to me, since I grew up in a tribe. A Patriarch is kinda the same as a Chief of a Native American tribe or nation. Grandpa Cory would be the Chief of a Nation, and Dad would be the Chief of a Tribe. We are all part of Clan Short, so that makes Cory the head of our family, even the adults. We're also part of Clan Wagner, which has Dad as the Chief of our tribe. Since even Grandma Teri falls under Grandpa Cory in Clan Family matters, it makes Cory his own grandpa. This house is Dad's Tribal Grounds; that means anybody here answers to his rules, no matter how old they are. The only place he's let an adult set the rules is in the kitchen and dining room, because he trusts Aunt Mary to look out for all of us and keep us safe."
"Is that why the adults look like they're treating everyone like they're just like them?" Ivan asked.
"Yes," Ty replied, "and it takes a few days to get used to it, trust me! Once you're comfortable, ask my Dad about it; he's really good as explaining it from his side of things."
The three boys had moved towards the large window in one wall of the room as they talked, and Ivan turned his attention to what was on the other side. "Whoah! That's a HUGE indoor pool! Is that the viewing room over there that you were talking about?"
"Yep," Ty giggled. "If you can't swim, let Rand know and he'll hook you up with another kid who can teach you."
"Or just ask me," Aiden giggled, "Everyone thinks I'm half fish!"
"This is unreal," Ivan stated with a grin. "I had to beg just to get my aunt to let me play in the sprinkler, and now I live somewhere with an indoor pool?"
"Just wait," Aiden stated as he decided to give Ivan a hug. "It gets better."
"Make some room!" Ty quipped as he moved to join them, "I want some hugs from you two too!"
"Hey Deej, you're a bad influence!" Rand sniggered as he walked over.
"What? I'm innocent, I swear!" DJ replied, earning him giggles from his lap campers.
"I'm actively tracking Ty, Aiden, and Ivan as they're working their way towards their room," Rand explained. "This close to a rescue, I didn't think it was a good idea to not be ready for the chance Ivan could have a breakdown. Good news is that Ty and Aiden are answering all the questions he is thinking up; he's already made it through over half of the things that confuse new arrivals. The bad news is that what started as a three-way hug just became a three-way tonsil inspection ... at the big window in the Rec Room."
DJ smiled. "Thanks, bro; let's just see where it goes, don't push it. Let Matt know too, that way he's prepared."
"Gotcha," Rand nodded as he swiped a cookie off of the plate next to DJ before turning to find Matt.
The three boys stepped back slightly, each one taking the nearest hand of the other two in their own. All three had matching goofy smiles, and were exchanging eye contact back and forth as their brains tried to decide if what had just happened had really occurred.
Aiden found his voice first, whispering "Thank you Great Spirit for answering my dreams."
"Which of us was your dream?" Ivan asked hesitantly.
"Both of you," Aiden stated. "My dreams told me that there were two souls which would join with me to complete all three of us. My soul says that we have found each other."
"I've never felt this way," Ivan admitted, "but now I feel the same way about both of you. I don't know what to do."
"I know what I want to do, but I'm afraid of what I'll feel if it's the wrong thing," Ty admitted.
"I've always been told to listen to your heart," Aiden stated. "My heart tells me what I need to say, but it also tells me that I must wait until your hearts have spoken. This is the time Logic must wait for Leadership and Strength."
Ty immediately picked up on Aiden's reference, as even now he was considered the leader of all of his brothers. After taking a slow breath to calm his nerves, he stated "If both of you want to be my boyfriends, or more, I accept."
Taking his cue from Ty, Ivan added "I want to spend the rest of my life with both of you, if you will let me."
Aiden smiled at the proposals being hidden in offers of acceptance. "That's cheating, giving me the answers so I'd have to ask the questions! I'm not gonna let you off that easy; now you gotta answer again! Since both of you said pretty much the same thing, will you both join me in a three-partner marriage?"
Aiden's brain barely had time to process the double "YES" that he got in reply before he found himself once again in a three-way hug. All three quietly held each other tightly, reassuring the other two without words that the event they had just experienced really happened.
Once all three had their emotions back under control, they each gave their other two partners a quick kiss before making their way out of the room, all three once again holding hands.
Back to playing tour guide, Ty said "That's the Family Room off to our right, and if you turn left then right, you'll get to the dining room and kitchen. We're gonna take the stairs up to the third floor that are right in front of us."
As they reached the top of the stairs, Aiden pointed out "That's Dad, Pop, and Mom's room on the other side of the turbolift; they made sure I knew where it was in case I needed them."
"All of the bedrooms are spread out over this floor and the fourth floor," Ty added. "All the young parents have bedrooms that are on both floors, so nobody has to go up or down to get to them."
"Kewl," Ivan replied.
Ty led the group to the right, almost immediately turning right again into another long hall. They stopped long enough for Ty to point out the bathroom just before the corner that was nearest to their bedroom. While they were stopped, Ivan looked out the window across from the bathroom. "Dudes! The little guys have got a HUGE playground out there!"
"That's not just for the little guys," Ty giggled. "Us big guys can play on it too; it was made so that our little brothers can have us with them when they play."
"We're gonna have to try it out with Markie," Ivan commented, earning him nods of approval from Aiden and Ty.
"Our room is the first door around the corner," Aiden added. "Did Dylan tell you what to expect, Ty?"
"No, he just said it's ready for three people," Ty shrugged. "I learned not to ask, you get less headaches that way!" He stopped at the door, and stated "Rand, authenticate Ivan as resident of this room."
"Authenticating," Rand's access VI replied. "Biometric scan confirmed. Awaiting vocal identification. Ivan, please state your full name."
"Ivan Jiri Jostrzebski."
"Voiceprint activated. Access approved Level One. Proceed to enter."
"Just ask Rand to unlock the door," Ty stated at Ivan's confused look.
"Rand, could you please unlock the door?" Ivan risked.
The door immediately clicked and opened a few inches. Ivan unwillingly led the trio into the short hall inside the door, coming to a stop when he heard Aiden close the door behind him.
"Our closet moved!" Ty stated in surprise.
"Closets can't move," Ivan giggled.
"They can if Dilly called in the Mikyvis Construction Team," Ty replied. "They freeze time, do a year's work, then unfreeze it a few seconds later. I get the feeling this ain't the room we left this morning."
"Ya think the curtains at the end of the hall that wasn't here before might be a clue?" Aiden quipped with a grin.
"I think one of my future husbands is begging for the other two to throw him in the pool!" Ty rebuked with a grin. "Let's see what Dilly did this time."
They made their way through the curtain, only to find that they were now the owners of an entertainment center, with a large couch, two recliners, a wall mounted monitor, a stereo, and multiple gaming systems. Off to the left, a new stairway led to a previously-nonexistent second level of the room.
"Congrats, guys!" Dylan stated from his seat in one of the recliners. "Pop says he'll meet you upstairs in a couple of minutes to make your marriage official."
"Slow it down, Time Brat," Ty stated as he shook his head. "Would you mind explaining what in the heck is going on?"
Take a seat," Dylan replied, pointing at the overstuffed couch. Once all three were seated, he explained. "Time's like a tree, and us Mikyvis are surfing that tree even if we are not thinking about it. Almost all of the time, we don't know something's gonna happen until it does, because we're not thinking of looking at it. Most of the rest of the time, we're looking, but only see the possibilities. You three did something really rare; you make a yes - no branch that made all of us look, in fact we couldn't keep from looking. What I saw was either you were friends for life, or married; there were no other choices. That hit us as soon as Aiden asked if Ivan could share the room; once Ty said yes, all of the rest of the possible branches vanished."
"Why do our branches mean so much?" Ty asked, since he was already used to the normal time loops.
"Not just yours," Dylan stated, "but all time branches originating on Earth. I think that means that sometime way in the future, there's a major event that could have went multiple ways if the three of you were separate, but it can only happen one of two ways if you're together, and those two ways depend on if you're married or just friends."
"Okay, who turned up the weird to one hundred?" Ivan asked seriously.
Ty and Aiden burst into giggles. Grinning, Dylan raised his hand. "Blame Dad and Pop, everyone else does!"
Ivan shook his head. "If I ever get used to stuff like this, buy a straightjacket, because I've totally lost it!"
"When we get to Hawaii, ask Prez if you can join the Pissed Off Chickens tournament," Dylan advised. "It helps him a lot!"
"So, how does that explain our room?" Ty asked.
"Uncle Petey followed his gut feelings," Dylan shrugged. "Did he mess it up?"
"No," Ty admitted, "I like this little area where we can cuddle and just spend time together. I'm just scared as to what he did upstairs."
"Don't worry, I'm in charge of furniture upstairs," Dylan explained. "So no vibrating beds unless you ask for them!"
"NO!" all three boys exclaimed in unison.
"Hey, I tried!" Dylan grinned. "You ready to go up top?"
"Why not, I still have some sanity left," Ivan quipped as all three extracted themselves from the couch.
With Dylan in the lead, the group headed up the stairs. They came out into a room much larger than the one below it, with three doors on the interior wall, windows on all three exterior walls, and one door leading to the open-air walkway that surrounded the open courtyard.
"The two end doors are closets, and the middle one is a full bathroom with a three-person shower," Dylan stated. "I guess we need to start big; are you gonna share a bed, or do you want more than one in here?"
"We can always change it later," Ty said, "but it's up to Ivan; only he knows what he's ready for."
"Thanks," Ivan acknowledged, relaxing at the thought that they both cared what he thought. "What about one bed for all of us, but a second one for if one of us is sick or hurt, or if we have a friend over?"
"Okay," Dylan grinned. "One Alaskan King and one Full Bunk coming up! You got it, Rand"
"What color of bedspreads?" Rand's voice asked over the in-wall speakers.
"Dark blue?" Ty suggested, getting nods from Aiden and Ivan.
"Incoming!" Rand warned just before the two beds appeared in the most logical locations, already ready for use. "I've got three matching recliners if you want them."
"Go for it," Aiden replied as he pulled Ivan and Ty over to test the bed. "Sweet! This thing will definitely hold all three of us!"
"They'll need the usual tables, lamps, and chairs," Dylan advised. "Get them the big TV and some shelves, too."
"Got it, Dylan," Rand replied as the requested items appeared. "Guys? When you're ready, I have all of your personal belongings in storage to bring over."
"When we get back from Hawaii," Ty replied. "I don't want to have to rush putting stuff away."