Chapter  70






Aaron decided he had the hard job; he had to make nice while meeting with the colony coalition as the first colonists stepped foot on their new worlds for the first time.  After today they would start moving over in groups of one hundred to claim land while the previous day’s families moved over.



Xon and Pete had worked miracles and built ten more of the replicator ships, two for each world.  The other six RS ships were off building step-off stations at the rate of nine every forty five hours. Once the initial rush to colonize was over he hoped to be able to divert another four of the RS ships to station building duties.



Now, instead of being with Xon, he was sitting here in his conference room watching the different plasma screens as the colonization project started, with the other five world leaders, while Xon and Pete were out with his fleet waiting for the Talvath to show up so they could initiate first contact.  Brian was even on Star Scout twenty six holding station near the Kathat relay station, ready to recycle it the moment the Talvath showed up; and he was left out of the fun, stuck here having to play nice.



““I say, it looks like it is going off without a problem,” James smiled at Edward who was fidgety this morning, as was Aaron, he thought.  Looking closely at the two of them watch the clock he decided something else must be going on that had them nervous.



“Indeed, the lottery system seems to work smoothly,” Gorbivonovich grinned as he watched the screen, several of his countrymen were in each group, “It is very good thing that the colonists had such a good picture and maps to choose from; it made things easier.”



Morimoto pointed to the screen, “There goes the first of the markers, the first square has been claimed.”



Aaron smiled as he watched the others’ excitement as he listened for Pete who was in Star Scout thirty nine. He was out there, several parsecs away from Xon and his command ship, waiting in full stealth mode to act as a relay for those in the Core, and to let him know when he needed to go to Tau Ceti to meet with Sesek.



Hearing running in the hallway Aaron looked over and saw Calvin running in “Sator…Sator, I got an excellent on my test…”



Scooping Calvin up before he hit the clear wall Aaron looked at him, “Tell me, Calvin, how did you get to Sol Station?” Aaron kissed his temple as he pulled him into his lap.



Calvin looked at Aaron wide eyed after seeing all the people, “Sorry Sator, I know better than to interrupt you,” he whispered, afraid he did something wrong.



Kissing Calvin’s forehead again Aaron hid his sigh, “You’re not in trouble, love.  Tell me, my little dragon, how did you get all the way from the compound all the way over here?  And does anyone know you left?”



Master Lo walked into the room looking around and, spotting his quarry, moved over, “Little Dragon, you have several people worried about you.  Not to mention the gestalt teams that transported you over here in the carrier, when they found you went by yourself, are frightened they lost you.”  Looking at Aaron who looked curious he smiled, “I’m Sorry, Prime.  It seems Calvin contacted the gestalt teams at Altare Prime and transported to the station before asking to be sent here to see you.”



Holding Calvin tight Aaron chuckled, “Of all of us to take after, you would have to take after Altor Tommy.”



“Aaron…have you seen Calvin…Oh,” Tommy rushed into the room stopping at seeing Calvin sitting in Aaron’s lap.



Laughing Aaron shook his head as Calvin chirped out happily, “Altor, you got my email.”



Laughing, and taking deep gasps, Aaron looked at Calvin, “Now, my little Dragon, what test did you pass that had you so excited you dipped into the dark side?”



Looking at Aaron with a funny expression on his face as Calvin looked around to see Altor and Patris laughing, he tilted his head as his Altor sat down and hugged him, “It was in math…”



Aaron sat amused as he listened to Calvin tell all about his tests on the tutor this morning.  Once he ran down Aaron ported a box of energy donuts over.  Taking a bite he broke off a tiny piece and fed it to Calvin who purred in satisfaction over getting to eat the special food.  “You will have to excuse Calvin, I think he takes after his Altor Tommy too much; especially the part about getting around the letter of my orders.”



A big black shaggy dog strolled in, and walked over and stared at Calvin for a minute before gently reaching and biting down on Calvin’s belt then dragging him off the chair and over to the corner.  Dropping him onto the ground he sat down and placed a paw on Calvin’s head and pushed him down, before turning around and blocking the way out.



Jens stared at the dog in awe, “I do not believe it. That dog just put Calvin in time out…”



Aaron howled out in laughter, “God’s above, Titus…now if I can only get you to do that to Tommy for teaching ours sons’ bad habits I’ll be all set.”



Whacking Aaron on the arm Tommy laughed as Calvin peaked over the massive body to see if it was safe to come out yet, “I was going to complain but after that…” he hiccupped as he laughed some more.



Edward snorted his drink out of his nose, coughing several times into a napkin he looked aver to the corner, “Titus, if Calvin apologizes and promises not to do it again, will you let him out please?”



Titus turned slowly and looked at Edward, tilting his head to the side, obviously thinking about it before nodding and scooting back then looking at Calvin with a ‘well, are you going to say anything?’ look.



Edward hid his smile behind the napkin and covered his chuckle with a cough as he heard a quiet, “I’m sorry Titus.  Please let me out, I promise not to do it again.”



Titus moved his head closer until it was touching Calvin’s forehead and stared into his eyes for a moment before getting up and moving out of the way.



Calvin threw his arms around Titus’s neck and hugged him before rushing over to Edward’s side, whispering in the little boy way, which was way too loud, “Thank you for saving me, Patris Edward; I’ll be good.”



Morimoto was staring at the large, no, huge dog who was smiling as it moved over to Aaron’s side, “That is not a normal dog!  Is it even a dog?”



“No.” Aaron smiled as he scratched between Titus’s ears, “Normal, I would hope not.  Titus is a special race, Canis Superior.  His race is more intelligent than dolphins, and best suited to looking after our children.”



James was watching his son closely as he ran his hand though Calvin’s hair while the boy curled up in his lap.  The amount of open affection he was showing was unbelievable.  Watching them he had a hint of remorse cross his mind as he was reminded of what simple pleasures he had lost; then it hit him, Patris was Latin, Latin for father.  His son was being called father by the little boy.  Glancing at his mother he noticed she had not only picked up on what had been said but knew what it meant.



Edward, glancing down, noticed Calvin was asleep and looked over at Aaron for an explanation.



“The piece of energy bar I gave Calvin; it sends our youngsters right to sleep as their bodies try to process it,” Aaron grinned evilly.



“I say, he is very cute, Rolph must be taken with him,” Jens smiled at the youngster who was curled up in Edward’s lap.



“Yes, but the one who really turned into a mother hen is Foma.  Once he won the youngsters’ hearts it was a foregone conclusion, I think,” Tommy smiled as he turned to look at the plasma.  He also was tired of waiting to hear anything.





Xon gazed at the plasma, double checking the locations of all the Star Scouts.  After seeing Pete’s scouts he had redesigned his command cruisers slightly so they looked similar, and to tell the truth, he was pleased by the aesthetics of the design.



After four hours of waiting the Talvath broke out of warp, slowing to impulse as it rendezvoused with the Timur.  Sending the signal to the fleet Xon opened his mind and pulled from the gestalt slowly and sent to Brian, “Brian, Love, they are here.  Take out the station please.”



Porting two SE110s to the bridge and engine room of the Talvath, Xon watched as his display showed the scouts move into position.  Seeing the shuttle leave the Talvath he decided it was time, “Open a channel to both ships, voice only.”



“Yes, Dragon Lord,” the Shaolin communication office acknowledged.



Switching to Universal, Xon sat in the chair and watched both bridges as they opened their communication channel thinking it was the other ship.  “Alien vessels, you have intruded into the sovereign space of the Empire of Altare; state your intentions.” Raising an eyebrow he watched the shuttle speed up and dock with the Timur before breaking away after depositing the ambassador.



Muting the pickup, Xon looked at the gunnery officer, “Do not wait for my order.  If you pick up weapons being powered up take out the engine rooms of both ships by porting over an MCA.”  Xon opened the pickup and tried again, “Alien vessels, you have intruded into Alteran Space, I will not continue to repeat myself.  Identify yourself and your intentions.”  Pathing to everyone so he would not divulge information Xon ordered the Reliant to port in and the Star Scouts to show themselves.  At the same time he switched off the magnetics on his ship causing it to appear in sharp contrast to the black background.



Sesek had reached the bridge as the second message played over the speakers and stood in shock, mind trying to deny what his eyes were telling him, as suddenly two handfuls of ships appeared followed by a larger stranger vessel.  Opening his mouth to say something, a ship larger than he could imagine being built appeared out of nowhere and started to disgorge small fighter size vessels. “Return communications.”



Staring into the view screen Sesek contemplated what his eyes were telling him, “I am Ambassador Sesek of Kathat.  We meant no purposeful intrusion.  Our guild scientists have recorded several unique power signatures that they were tracking down.  When it became apparent the systems they had visited where under intelligent control they did the logical thing and stopped to await my arrival to facilitate first contact.”



“Reasonable,” Xon stated seeing the ambassador relax, “but what is not reasonable was that once more your intruded into our space with a warship this time…explain!”



“No explanation will be forthcoming; it was the fastest vessel available for my use,” Sesek looked at the screen trying to figure out which ship was the lead vessel.



Xon raised an eyebrow.  These Kathat were indeed different from what he was used to, more arrogant, “As you are now where you intended to be the warship is no longer needed, or welcome.  Prepare it for transport outside our borders.”  Watching the captain of the warship stiffen, Xon noted that Sesek was calm where the captain was not.  “If you wish, you also will be transported outside our region of space. If your unstated intentions do not require an armed response we can talk face to face, however the Timur and the crew will have to undergo tribunal for their intrusion into our space, their own logs demand it.”



Raising one eye ridge as he gazed at Tidov, Sesek looked at the captain of the Talvath; it did not go unnoticed by him that the unknown entity knew the ship’s name, or the disquieting fact that the crew of the Timur had not reported something to the guild ruling council.  Though they had contingencies in place for this type of situation, the Talvath would pull back and go silent several hours into warp before dropping back into normal space.  He made the motion for the captain to implement the contingency plan, “Reasonable.  If you will move your ships to one side the Talvath will be on its way.”



Placing his fingers on Pat’s head Xon mentally told him, “Do not stretch yourself or Aaron will have my head on a platter, rightfully so, and you will be punished with no nookie for a year.  Use my and every gestalt crew members’ gifts to do this, Love” Xon spoke out as Pete activated the specially designed LSB, “We shall take care of transporting the Talvath outside our borders.”



Sesek blinked; one moment the Talvath was there sitting in space next to them, and the next it was gone in a sparkle of light, “REPORT!!!”



“Do not be alarmed.  We transported the warship back to your home system.  Contact your government to verify this fact…if you need to,” Xon smiled as he saw Sesek’s mouth drop open and he became flustered.  Opening the box of donuts Xon presented them to Pat, as he sighed in relief when Pat smiled back and gave him the thumbs up sign for being okay.



Listening to the reports from the frantic crew Sesek initiated the sub-space transmission to the High Council chambers personally.  After several minutes Sesek gazed at the image of Amidi.



“Logically one could conclude first contact did not go as expected, Sesek,” Amidi pointed to the monitor to one side that showed the Talvath in orbit.  “Captain Suran was quite vocal in his illogical mutterings at finding his ship back here.”



Raising an eyebrow Sesek gazed at the monitor, “I see.  I am sending you visual recordings of the contact so far.  Do you wish me to proceed or shall we take up their offer to be transported out of their space?”



“Any race that has the technology to transport one of our ships forty light years with only a shower of photons to show that anything had been there is to be treated with utmost respect,” Tenef looked at the councilors, “I find this admission of holding the crew of the Timur for tribunal troubling.  What information is Tidov not divulging?”



Xon, who had been listening in, found it fascinating that this universe’s Kathat could be so duplicitous.  He interrupted the conversation, “The crew of the Timur received, decoded and then ignored the standard warn off before launching their probe into our Colony system.”  He was amused at the shock on their faces as he interrupted their conversation, and he grinned as Sesek checked for the security protocol and found it was level thirteen, their highest.  No matter what they did it would not fix the leak as he was receiving the information directly from the SE110s stationed at each location.



That’s cruel, Love, funny as hell but cruel,” Pat pathed as he giggled at their expressions as they tried to find out how the signal was being leaked.



Sesek gazed out the view port, intrigued by this race, choosing his words carefully so he could slow down the confrontation that would ruin attempts of peaceful contact he noticed was coming. “What will your tribunal do to punish the crew of the Timur that was involved in this deception?”



“A fine will be levied, followed by a visit to one of our mind healers to insure this behavior cannot happen again.”  Xon felt he was trying to buy time for some reason and muted the pickup, “He is stalling, the question is why?  Activate long range sensors; also activate the empire wide detectors.”



Seeing a Kathat blended warship a single parsec away his eyes narrowed in anger.  “Please explain the logic of your delaying tactics,” Xon broke in once more as he noticed the surprise on Sesek’s face and the shock on the high council’s face. “So the Talvath was not the only warship you sent into our space.”



Sesek rounded on the view screen looking at Tenef, “What have you done?”



“Prepare to transport the invader out of our space.  Pete, if you would intercept and remove the engineering section before porting it back to Katha’?” Xon moved to close communications.  He had enough data to present an argument to stay clear of this dimension’s Kathat race, being that they were untrustworthy.



Sesek saw the alien vessels blink out.  Glaring at the view screen he yelled out as he saw the larger ship start to fade from sight, “WAIT… Allow me to come on board to try to salvage our meeting; I swear to you I had no knowledge of the second ship.”



“Your fine shall be the Timur itself. It shall be sent to our recyclers for its mass,” Xon stated coldly. Motioning to the gestalt team, the Kathat aboard the Timur were transported into the holding cells, before they ported to meet up with Pete.



Gazing at the warship that was dead in space Xon looked at the monitor showing the holding cell with the twenty crew members of the Timur.  “Port all of them, save Sesek, to the bridge of that ship,” he pointed to the monitor showing the listing ship.  Once all of the prisoners had been transported over, Xon ported a document and small folder to the table in front of Sesek.  He had prepared the document in Universal so it could be understood by them, “This is a treaty you will follow.  In it, it states you shall not intrude into our space again.  If you do, a state of war will exist and we will destroy your sun.”



Xon stared impassively as Sesek picked up the folder and opened it.  Reading through the treaty Sesek paled further, if it was possible.  “We will know if you sign this document or not. We intend to hold you to it even if you don’t. The loose parchment is coordinates that one small diplomatic craft may journey to, to meet with us in ten of your days.”  Xon waited until Sesek scanned the paper before porting him and the documents over to the ship.



“Love, do you think you can make one more long range port?” Xon asked Pat as he placed both hands back on Pat’s head.



Smiling, Pat stared at the plasma before closing his eyes in concentration and porting the intruder back to Kathat space.  Opening the donut box he grabbed another donut as Xon handed him an energy drink after kissing him.



“Take us home,” Xon ordered as he smiled at the gestalt team.  Pete had already outfitted his scouts with the boundary surprise they had invented and, right now, every heavy scout was placing the warp mines at a high rate of speed along the border with Kathat guild space.





Closing his eyes Aaron sighed as he watched Pete’s memory play out.  Opening his eyes and looking at Tommy he shook his head.  Hopes for salvaging the first contact with the Kathat were not that high he thought, and he had to wonder if the Tijin Fold had been treated the same way.



Calvin opened his eyes and stretched before whispering, “Patris, I have to go to the bathroom.”



Nodding with a smile, Edward nudged Calvin to get to his feet and escorted him to the bathroom. Watching the two Aaron grinned.  The rest of the boys were on their way with Rolph and Shoji, along with the rest of the Clan.  It seemed they were determined that he was going to eat lunch.  “I have just been informed,” Aaron laughed as he tapped the side of his head, “the rest of the youngsters are about to invade.  They want to make sure I eat lunch,” he stared at Tommy when he said the last.



Holding up his hands, Tommy laughed, “Don’t blame me, you’re the one that doesn’t eat lunch, and you do have to set a good example now don’t you?” Tommy smirked; he was having fun with the innuendos and the reactions he was getting from the stuffy old dignitaries.



Shaking his head Aaron laughed as he heard the excited chatter, “Gentlemen and Victoria, we are about to be invaded by our sons.  Seeing it’s lunch time I better make sure the kitchen is ready for the onslaught.  You are more than welcome to join us.”  His ‘you should find this interesting’ was not heard by anyone but Tommy who grinned as Titus jumped to his feet and stared at the door.



Morimoto stared at the creature that looked like a dog once more.  Outwardly it looked like a much larger Newfoundland, but there was no way that was a dog.  He watched it count, count for deities’ sake, each of the children that came into the room as if looking for any missing.  Not only that, but he communicated in a meaningful way through vocal sounds to the younger pups that accompanied the children.  It was clear the sounds were orders given and acknowledged; even to the point one of the younger dogs went to the door and stood, half in and out of the doorway, and did the growl yip language to some unknown question before leaving.  He watched as a minute later the dog returned with a giggling child, leading him by the arm.  “Just how intelligent are you?” he whispered as he looked at the one Aaron called Titus, and was shocked when the big face turned to stare at him and he heard “Very” in his mind.



Woo was watching his comrade very carefully and, when he heard the whispered question, he saw him pale and sit back in his chair in shock.  Considering the question, and possible answers, as he watched the dog move away he rethought once again the truth versus the tales of the great dragons; and the truth was much more frightening.



Jens smiled as Rolph walked in, his eyes falling to the silk shirt and the golden medallion resting there.  Examining his nephew he saw he was truly happy, as happy as he had been before his brother’s tragic death.  Catching Rolph’s eyes he smiled and waved, secure with the knowledge that Rolph had made the best choice for himself.



“Ray…” Ton called out as he entered the room and saw the youngster looking around sadly, “What is wrong, love?”



Moving back, Ray looked up, “I thought Sator would be here…and Calvin.”



Hugging Ray tightly Ton grinned and pointed to the door in the side wall, “It’s almost lunchtime and I bet if you looked in the kitchen…”



Looking sheepish Ray smiled, “Thank you Altor,” before running to the door and yelling out in glee at seeing Aaron, “SATOR, HERE YOU ARE…”



Moving over to the group of dignitaries after glancing at the monitors Ton nodded, “Hello Uncle, you will have to excuse our sons’ exuberance.  It is their first time to Sol Station.”



Morimoto quickly took in the silk shirt and the Clan medallion around his nephew’s neck, adding that with the massive changes to Ton’s personality, he was pleased, “You and the Clan honor us by letting us eat with your children…with Aaron’s children.  It shows a level of trust I had hoped to achieve between our two kingdoms,” lowering his voice, “tell me Ton, how does it feel to be a father?” Then, tilting his head, “could you explain the words the children use to identify you?”



Curious, the others listened closely for the explanation, though Gorbivonovich was delighted just to be playing with the children, trying to tickle them as they ran past.



“I never imagined the feeling I would get from being an instant father, it is incredible; and to know that soon I will be a father to Lee’s son is thrilling,” Ton smiled before remembering where he was.  “If you think on it, we were brought up knowing all languages have a common root in Latin, and Latin is based on Alteran.  The children call Aaron, Sator; not to be confused with Satyr,” he chuckled at Andrew’s grin and eyebrow waggle. “It would be best be described as first father, or father of all.  Altor is used to describe guardian father, the one who guards and protects.”  Smiling at Edward as he then looked at James, “Patris is best described as nurturing father, a father that loves and helps you grow as a person.”



Excited calls of Sator interrupted them as Aaron waved at them, “Lunch is ready, so come fill your plates.”  Aaron moved to the start of the line so he could give the youngsters a hug and kiss as they lined up.  Once they got their hugs Aaron moved over to where his visitors were sitting, “Alright you lot, time to get your food.  The Clan will be busy helping the youngsters get set up, and now is the time to get something for yourselves,” he smiled to let them know he was kidding.



Placing the bowls of food near the wall for the youngsters’ guardians Aaron tilted his head up for a moment before looking at the guardians, “Titus, come here a minute please.”  Ignoring the hushed room, or the excited whispers, “Samson is on his way over to replace you.  Mirri is giving birth and you need to be with your mate.”



Titus looked at Aaron and shook his head no and whined, “But she snarls at me when she gives birth!



Holding back his laughter, “I don’t care if she blames you for her condition or snarls nasty things to you; if you miss this birth she will do much worse to you.  Now go take the snarling like a man and tell her she is beautiful and did a good job and how wonderful she is.”  Aaron decided to put on a show and grabbed power from the gestalt in a long arc, “Prepare to port, Titus…and good luck.”  Aaron ported Titus out and sat on the floor and howled in laughter at Titus’s whining.  Getting control of himself he looked over at his lovers and children who looked amused and excited, and the confused looks on the visiting leaders’ faces, “Imagine the big strong alpha being afraid of a little snarling.  After all it’s not like she’s in any condition right now to carry out her threats.”



Filling his plate Aaron was still chuckling as he sat at the table and glancing at Joshua who was shoveling in the food as fast as he could, “Joshua, please slow down.  You know you won’t be able to see the pups until tomorrow at the earliest.  We have to give Mirri a chance to get all the snarling out of her system by snarling at Titus first.”



David had chosen that moment to take a long swallow of his juice and snorted it out through his nose, coughing and choking, and the pounding on his back by Derrick to help him out didn’t make it any better.  Glaring at Aaron he finally admitted, “It is funny you know…but couldn’t you have waited until I had swallowed.”



Catching a large black shape walked past towards the wall Aaron chuckled, “Hello Samson, is Titus in for a rough time?”



Samson stopped and yipped in agreement, “Oh is he! She was already threatening to bite them off if he came near her again, then she was calling him poop burrier when I left.”



Coughing and snorting Aaron glared at Samson, “Samson, watch your language, my sons are present,” Aaron chuckled as the big dog shrugged and went over to the untouched bowl and started to eat. Catching a glint of mischief from the other end of the table, “Shane, don’t you dare.  You’re at the table after all. I don’t care if it’s not a bad word to us,” Aaron laughed.



Gorbivonovich had watched Foma with pride.  Seeing him walk in with the children, dressed in a silk shirt, Clan Medallion proudly on his chest, made him as proud as if he was Foma’s grandfather, “Tell me Aaron, what do your sons call Foma?”



“You know, you are in danger of being called a big old softy,” Aaron smiled at the grin on Gorbivonovich’s face.  “They call him Patris, which I think you could have already guessed.



The rest of the lunch time was spent watching and listening to Aaron interact with his sons.  Victoria spent the whole time beaming at her grandsons while James looked lost in thought.  Finally, as lunch was over and the youngsters came back from washing their dishes, they gave Aaron a hug and kiss knowing they had to leave.



Coming back into the conference room after washing his plate and glass Aaron smirked at the sight of Morimoto washing his own place setting.  Knowing he would not be making his excuses to go meet with the Kathat was both a relief and a worry.  Turning to David, the Kathat could wait until they got home he decided.  “I think, at least so far, it looks like things are going smoothly.  Support people have moved to the colonies, and the last of the markers were planted while we were eating.  So the big question is, are things going as smoothly back here,” Aaron pointed out the window towards the earth, “as they are out there?” he pointed to the plasmas.



“One our end…” David looked at Derrick, “Yes they are.”



“After the first run of one hundred, I can give you a better idea of how long it will take the RS series to build the houses and farms,” Derrick pulled out his P.A.D.D. and looked at the screen as he pulled up the figures. “Having everyone chose the farm and house layout ahead of time, and then giving them the beacon stake, is actually working better than I hoped; another hour and the farms will be done. If tomorrow goes as quickly, I think we could easily triple the colonists moving through by Monday.  My only question is, if we triple the numbers can the quarantine facilities handle it?”



“Well I’m sure Mark could tell us, but he is busy helping Mirri give birth, and Fred is probably busy keeping Titus from losing the important bits,” Aaron chuckled.  “So, since all of you are overseeing the centers in your countries, closer than most projects I think, what do you think?”



“The states and territories do not have a problem,” David looked at his notes, “I would say half of the people in the first waves sold off their stock to start with fresh once they moved to the colony they chose.   At some point we might have a problem with adequate stocks making it through quarantine, but for right now we are okay.   I think we could easily triple the people going to the colonies.  We can always deliver the stock a day later if we have trouble keeping up.”



“Can we do that then?  I know that three quarters of those from my country are buying up stock to move with them as this gives them the chance to farm, or live the life they always wished for,” Jens added as he looked at his P.A.D.D. and his notes.  How quickly he came to rely on the wonderful device, he thought.



Aaron looked at Derrick, thinking about how their resources were being used or not used, “How easily can the RS series keep up with the load if we triple the colonists?”



Derrick sighed, “It’s not so much the ships that take the time, it’s the colonists; it takes about ten minutes to build the house and barns, but we have to wait for the colonist to plant their markers.”



Doing the math in his head Aaron thought they were not even being properly tasked, “Let’s rethink this.  We’re not even coming close to using a fraction of our resources here.”  Aaron turned the terminal on and started asking for lists of colonists and jobs they expected to do, and the amount of land they were requesting.  Checking the maps he noticed something he had overlooked before; several towns and villages had been planned and have yet to be built on all five planets it looked like, “If we start building the towns and villages that would get people through faster, and allow us to even come close to utilizing our resources properly.”



Knowing Derrick was afraid he was going to lose five of his replicator ships before he had planned on it, Aaron smiled, “Let them build those towns and villages during the down time from building the farms.  In fact, program that in and get David to run those people through orientation as fast as you can, otherwise you’ll never get done when you lose the use of five ships next week.”



“We’re going to set up classes in each of your countries for those that applied to live in these towns and villages.  We’re going to start building them now; that will advance the timetable…AH SHIT, I just jinxed myself, didn’t I?” Aaron banged his head against the table.



After the laughter died down Aaron looked at Derrick, “See how fast you can get the new projects done.  I know that doesn’t give people much notice, but we can move along that much faster than planned,” chuckling Aaron grinned, “which means all of you need to see what needs to be done over the next couple of days to make this work. If we can increase the people moving over, well, I can see how you can use this to your advantages.”



Glad for the distraction, Aaron smiled as Ru and Donny walked in with their companions, along with the person that they told them was going to be their new Veterinarian.  Seeing Woo’s face light up, the group was complete he thought.  Each of the leaders had seen their candidates today, and they saw with their own eyes that they were happier than they had been it seemed, “I’ll leave all of you to talk and plan, I think I have someone to take to the med bay.”



Shaking the young man’s hand Aaron kissed Donny and Ru’s cheek as he held out his hand, “You must be Mike.  Let’s walk to the med bay, I’ll answer…” his voice trailed off as they walked out of the room.



Woo looked at Ru and whispered worriedly, “This show of affection the King has for both of you; is this normal?”



Ru smiled; what was really being asked was, was he cheating, “Yes and no, Donny and my case is slightly different. In the next two months Donny and Aaron will have a son, while Damien and I will have a son.” Seeing the confusion on his second cousin’s face, “Clan law you see.  There must be Stranton blood flowing in all clans for them to continue, and after a tragedy it was decided that, when the bloodline was replaced, it would do so through two of us…it was the highest honor being chosen.”  Ru spun the truth with the misdirection as planned; Donny and clan council had come up with a story for the outsiders, so they would not know how recent the clan was.



Nodding sagely Woo smiled, “A great honor indeed, cousin.  So how do you enjoy your new life?”





Aaron chuckled as Mike slowly stripped out of his clothes and placed them neatly on the self, “Relax, no one is going to be jumping all over you; I’ll leave that for your new clan to do later.”



Relaxing then blushing Mike sat stiffly on the edge of the bio-tube and looked around, “If the technology is this advanced on your animal sciences side, I can see I have a lot of catching up to do.”



“Slide in and get comfortable,” Aaron smiled as he pulled the cart over, “You’ll quickly catch up, and Mark, you’ll meet him later, will help you.  I think you will actually have fun playing with all the new toys.”  Quickly prepping Mike, only the breathing and fecal tubes left to do, Aaron asked, “Did Donny or Ru mention anything about me checking out your health as we re-sequenced you?”



Mike looked up at Aaron, “They mentioned having you check me out.  I told them about a bad experience and not being able to perform since then.”  He sighed, only slightly embarrassed, “Donny said you could tell if there was a medical reason or whether I needed to sit down with the mind healers and work through it.”  Shrugging his shoulders he laid flat in the bio-tube, “I’ve not been as interested in sex as I should be.”



Aaron entered a few commands into the terminal and looked at the results as the scan started to run, “Well, we certainly can fix any medical problems, and I think if you have the right lover, who will be patient with you, well, it will make a big difference.”  Checking the testosterone levels Aaron saw they were a little low, but it was the scan that showed the false testicle that threw him. “When did you lose your testicle?”



“WHAT??” Mike sat up quickly in shock as he looked at the monitor.  Following the pointing finger, staring at the monitor blankly, he mumbled, “I was in an accident when I was fourteen, but surely they would have told me…”



“Well there is a good medical reason for some of your problems, but I think the idea of a mind healer checking you out afterwards is still a good idea.  I’ll regrow what was lost and remove the scar tissue and some of the other damage from your accident, so you should notice an improvement.”  Aaron looked back at Mike, “After you wake up we can get your old medical records and find out why they did what they did, and see if we can find out why you weren’t told.”  Seeing Mike’s stiff nod as laid back down Aaron turned on the soma unit and sighed.  Finishing prepping him, Aaron pulled the surgical frame over and in a matter of minutes the prosthesis was removed and he had programmed in the regrowth of the missing testicle and the regeneration of the damaged one.



“Hey Donny,” Aaron looked over his shoulder as the Beastmaster walked in, “Mike did have a medical problem.  It didn’t help anything in regards to his love life, and you should still get him to Colin or one of his guys once he settles in, but you can expect to pick him up Monday morning.  We need the extra time to regenerate and regrow certain parts that had been removed without him knowing about it.”



“Thanks Aaron,” Donny looked at the vet through the bio-tube and noticed the empty ball sack and figured out what needed to be fixed.  “While I have you all to myself,” he grinned as he handed Aaron an Isolinear chip, “the completed scans on all the large cats we could find, including the list of traits we need them to have.  After observing the cats in the wild, and caged, I think we are truly going to have to create a new species.  With dogs we’ve had more than several thousand years of selective breeding to make them more to our liking.”



“You’re probably right,” Aaron sighed as he took the chip, “give me a week to look through this in my spare time.  I’ll let you know which way we need to go next weekend.”  Pocketing the chip Aaron smiled at Donny, “How are the new recruits settling in?”



“Better than those that went home with their family members,” Colin smiled as he walked in, he had heard Aaron was here and wanted to talk, “But not anything like the youngsters you took in…what’s the secret?”



Aaron tilted his head, that was not quite what he meant, but, “They decided to become sons of the Clan.”



“You say that as if it means something different,” Colin stopped and looked at Aaron.  “You two were not talking about the lost ones, were you?”



“It does mean something different, and yes, I was not talking about the lost ones specifically.  I was interested in how the recruits were fitting in with Donny’s clan,” Aaron smiled as he pointed to the desk.  “Have a seat Colin, I have something for you that might explain things.  I found time to go to the Core and do some research.”



Donny smiled at Colin and stuck his tongue out at him, “The new recruits are doing great.  I was going to ask if you can find time to help induct the recruits into the clan, we’ve discussed a ceremony we would like to perform as they are inducted, even how the uniform symbol will change as they advance to full team status.”  Seeing Aaron’s grin and nod he smiled back, “Thanks, it’s very important to all of us to know you took part in our becoming Beastmasters; and if your answer to Colin can help the lost ones we took in I would be interested in hearing it.”



“Donny, stop by the compound after supper; what we need to talk about is a Clan secret,” Aaron hugged him.  “Colin, to answer your question, it does make a difference being made as son of the Clan.  They are truly being made a son of the Clan…genetically.”  Pulling a chip out of his pocket he checked to make sure it was the right one before handing it over, “Some of the studies on the brain you wanted to know about, minus the conclusions and technique’s of course.  I want to see if you come up with something different, plus I don’t think I should let you in on the secret of reprogramming someone’s mind like we did to those we took during the invasion.  I think if you come at it from a different approach you’ll get the results you want.”



“Thank you, I think I get your meaning,” Colin said quietly.  Aaron was right, his research could be turned into a weapon of sorts; he would have to be very careful he thought.  “Right then, I have something to keep me busy, I’ll talk to you later then,” giving a final wave Colin walked out staring at the chip in his hands.



“Certain Clan secrets can be shared between the clans,” Aaron smiled at Donny, “there is a way to help your lost ones out, but to do so you need to come up with an apprentice bracelet design to give your recruits and a different one to give your sons.”



“We can do that,” Donny smiled, hesitating he glanced at Aaron.  “And the Newfie’s that are no longer Newfie’s?”



That is a Clan Secret, Donny, not to be told verbally. I re-engineered the Newfoundlands to something greater; they are the guardians of our children, and not to be used for Beastmaster duties,” Aaron warned him.  They are fully sentient now and have your total wish list package and more.  By the time our son is born you will have a team of ten for your clan compound. They are never to be considered for teaming up with someone!”



Wide-eyed, Donny looked over at Dante and then back at Aaron, and agreed reluctantly. Oh how he wanted his companion to be fully sentient and to be able to hold conversations with them.  He would just have to take solace in the fact the guardians would be at the compound and he could chat whenever he wished, “I will keep this secret, from all but clan until you tell me otherwise.”



“Alrighty,” Aaron smiled, “Let’s finish this up so I can go home and find out what the hell went wrong with the Kathat. They already have a mark against them for not meeting my expectations; I mean, because of them I actually didn’t have an excuse to get out of that damn meeting.”






Leaving Edward with Fred outside the med bay Aaron walked through the new arch off to one side and looked at Mark who was cleaning up, “How’s Mirri and the pups?”



Chuckling Mark smiled, “Richard is surprising.  He’s still in there making sure they’re okay,” looking over his shoulder towards the door he kissed Aaron.  “I want you to steer him in the direction of being a vet, or at least the guardians’ vet; he is that good with them. Mirri had eight pups, the last time she will have that many at one time, of course, but they are all healthy and doing fine…Titus on the other hand.”



Entering the treatment room Aaron listened to Mirri whine and curse Titus out for a minute.



Eater of poop…Bad Titus…Tree climber…EATER OF NUTS…” Mirri whined and yelled telepathically.



“Mirri…Enough,” Aaron interrupted her, anger coloring his voice. “I know it hurt, but really, such language!   Look at what you are doing to your mate, he’s miserable, and he stayed with you the whole time.  If that doesn’t show his love for you. . .” Aaron sighed as she lifted her head and looked in his direction whining, “Are you trying to drive him away forever?”



Sorry Titus,” Mirri dropped her head, “I got carried away.  It is a long tradition to curse the father during birth.”



“Then you need a new tradition,” Aaron’s reply was short and snapped out at her as he sat down, “I find that one to be infuriating; it shows that the love of your mate is not truly in your heart.”



Mirri placed her paw over her nose and she laid her head down, looking totally miserable.   Aaron sighed, “Mirri, be the good and great lady and mother I know you are; and be the Alpha you are supposed to be.  Make sure this never happens again with any of the guardians…and we will forget this happened.” Smiling as he picked up the newborn pups in turn Aaron grinned, “Titus, the two of you do good work, very good.”  Aaron placed the pup back next to Mirri’s teat and moved over to Titus and rubbed him between the ears.  “I will be bringing in ten more Newfie’s and re-sequencing them so they are guardians.  They will be going to the Beastmaster clan eventually, to be the guardians of their children.  I hope the two of you can train them properly.  After all, two sons of the clan will be living there next year after they are born,” Aaron stood and gestured for Titus to go to his mate.  “You two need to make up, and I’ll keep the youngsters out until after breakfast, to give Mirri a chance to rest.”



Hugging and kissing Richard he led him out of the room, and after a quick stop to look at Edward floating in the bio-tube they walked into the courtyard towards the house.  Seeing the grill smoking he peaked inside, “Hamburgers and hot dogs for supper; great, I don’t have to cook.”  Spotting Fred walking towards the dining area, “Hey Fred, I see you got Edward tucked away, thanks.”



Fred smiled as he kissed Aaron, his lover, “Glad to do it,” chuckling, “I thought he was going to cream when I inserted the fecal tube, and I decided he looked uncomfortable so before the lid sealed I took care of his problem,” giggling Fred kissed Richard before looking at Aaron and whispering, “Xon and Pete are back, they want to show you something after dinner.”




Sesek could feel the fire burning in his veins, the blood lust warring with his logic as he walked into the Guild Ruling Council Chambers.  Glancing around he spotted Tenef standing in front of his desk looking angry, “What logic did you use to jeopardize a peaceful first contact by sending in a warship class attack vessel?”



“They are too powerful and we need to take measures to protect ourselves,” Tenef stared at Sesek as he realized he was one of the Khai, the telepaths he avoided at all costs.  As he felt a mild probe on his mind he yelled out, “You dare!”



“I more than dare,” Sesek stood tall before striding across the floor, “I declare you a liar.  You wanted conflict and I intend to find out why…I find it interesting…” Sesek had backed Tenef against the wall, “I find it interesting that the person that started the conflict with the Tijin is the same person who sent a warship to a first contact mission; one that could have gained us much.” Quick as a snake Sesek struck, holding the Security Guild leader against the wall by his neck feet off the floor as he placed his hand at the proper meld points, “My mind into your mind…my thoughts…”



Amidi moved over to stand by Sesek and Tenef, worried as Rorab joined her and looked at the two before he asked, “Why did you send the warship in secret?”



Tenef and Sesek’s mouth moved in unison as the two voices merged to answer, “I did not trust the aliens, they seemed too different.  And if they were too powerful I planned to destroy them, as I destroyed the Tijin for not knowing their place.  I could not allow them to be a danger to our race.”



Taking a controller out of a hidden pocket in the folds of her robe Amidi activated the recorders and sent the preceding out to the entire planet, “Why follow Sesek?  You had to know he is the best of our ambassadors, the nest of Enethe is one of the oldest after all?”



The strange dual voice answered, “It was the perfect opportunity.  I could be rid of the nest of Enethe and blame the aliens.  What better way to ignite the blood lust of our people than to have the Aliens kill off one of the oldest and most treasured houses?”



“Why…What logic could you use to do this?” Rorab stepped back in shock.



“No Logic was needed; all that was needed was the will to see our race as the pinnacle in the universe…I would usher in a new era as the leader of our people, a people that would once again embrace the ideals of the Ophikoch.”



“Paan Mokar and the Academy of History were not what they seemed, were they?” Amidi asked afraid of the answer.



“It was my secret base I used it to spy on the Tijin. I did not believe in the virtue, or direction the council was taking.  I secretly created the base and used it to spy on the Tijin, then later it became the excuse I needed to have the children slaughtered by the Tijin to start the war.”



“We committed genocide because of your machinations,” Rorab growled out as he slammed one of the tables into the wall in his anger.



“ENOUGH!” Oboxa yelled as she made her slow way into the council chambers.  She was furious and held the blood lust under tight control; the military and security personal she passed on her way to this chamber saw her posture and face and cringed; they knew why she was the most feared military Guild Leader of all time.  “Sesek, release his mind,” she ordered as she faced the cameras. “Tenef shall die for his crimes, and for dishonoring the military guild by using us as a means for his xenophobia.  He shall die here, tonight, by my hand.”  Seeing that Sesek was blinking she waited a moment longer until he dropped his hand, “Did you find all those that helped that creature in his dishonor?”



Bowing his head slightly, “Yes, Nest Mother,” Sesek responded as he lifted Tenef higher by the neck before throwing him over his shoulder to land at Oboxa’s feet.



“List them, we shall root out the cancer and remove it,” Oboxa said coldly as she let her hatred bleed through her stony façade as she looked down at Tenef.  A second later he lay dead at her feet as she slid the steel sword back into the housing of her cane.



“Logic dictates that one does not anger a foe with unknown power and technology, and surely one does not anger a foe with the type of technology they have shown today,” Oboxa moved around to sit at the Security Guild Leader’s desk.  “From this moment on our ships and vessels will not approach the borders of the Empire of Altare.”  She placed the treaty on the desk; Sesek had given it to her after meeting him at the shuttle pad after he had voiced his concerns.  “Sesek, you will follow the directions you were given to the meeting exactly as stipulated.  We will not ruin the second chance through illogical behavior.  Those crew members of the Timur shall be fined one thousand credits and handed over for their mind healers to ensure their illogical behavior does not happen again.”



“Sesek, our people need this successful first contact as a means to start down the road of atonement for what we have done; see that it happens.”  Oboxa looked at her son, “As is my right as Nest Mother of the house of Enethe I dissolve the ruling council.  The Nest Mothers of the old guilds shall serve as interim council until a new council is formed.”



“As you command, Nest Mother,” Sesek bowed his head before leaving the room.





“Comments,” Aaron rubbed the bridge of his nose as he watched the youngsters playing hide and seek, giggling as the pups found them and goosed them.



“They seem closer to the books descriptions of Klexal than anything,” Kevin looked at Pete as he snuggled next to Tim.



“The Nest Mothers taking charge like that, is it a good thing for us or not?” Tyler asked Xon.



“Uncertain; if they are governed the same way as the matriarchs from the dimension I was rescued from, it could be troubling.  Kathat society is matriarchal and they held the absolute control of life and death, they were the guardians of the oasis in that dimension’s Katha’.”  Xon looked at the frozen plasma, “They are more in keeping with the Ophikoch I am used to from that dimension.  Such a curious mix of the two,” his voice faded out as he looked at the frozen recording.



“Why those coordinates?” Mark asked as he pointed to the paper Xon had given the Kathat on the terminal.



“It is within a region known for its lack of visible stars.  Our ships would easily be able to hide under stealth,” Xon looked at Aaron.  “It is also within one port of Volosh 9 by class two teleporter’s, a planet that still has fifteen years of testing before it is declared habitable.  We can move the station to that location after the first contact meeting.”



“That will be a huge help if we don’t have to build an extra station,” Derrick told them.  Maybe they could slow down building the stations and he could keep his replicator ships where they were.



Aaron stared at Derrick for a moment before grinning, “Relax Derrick, you get to keep your ten replicator ships unless something else happens and we need to regroup.”



“Donny’s here,” Aaron smiled as he heard the message Samson passed along.  “Which reminds me; Mark, can you and Richard take on a project for me?” seeing their curiosity he grinned.  “I copied the genetic scans that the Beastmasters did over the past couple of days to the system; they want to design a new species of cat they can bond with.  They are having too many problems with the panthers to ever trust them around the youngsters, or any animal really.”  Catching Mark’s grin, Aaron looked at Richard who looked confused at first, at least until he told him, “Richard, treat this like one of my famous homework assignments, layers within layers.  What we want to do is create a new species of cat that will cover the wish list the Beastmasters need, and at the same time be more like the dogs they bond with, pack animals that see us as their pack.  The one thing I don’t want is for them to be sentient. Mark is more than willing to help you with this project.  I’ll also be working on this in my spare time, which is why I’m asking for your help; my spare time is in short supply right now.”



Nervous yet excited Richard slowly nodded his head; missing Marks face going ‘YES’ in celebration, “I will try my best to help.”



“Hey Donny,” Aaron waved as Donny walked through the dining area looking around for people, pointing to one of the bench seats on the other side of the gathering pit, “Have a seat.”



Donny looked around before finally spotting Ichiro, “None of us can really draw so I was hoping Ichiro could pull off another feat of wonder.  I brought over several concepts of what we would like to see in an apprentice band for the upper arm, and then a bracelet for our sons.”



Perking up Ichiro sat up and looked over at Donny.  Taking the paper that was handed around to him by Kenny he looked at it scrunching up his face in thought. “I can do something I think…um, what is this supposed to be?”



Giggling Donny looked at the blob Ichiro was pointing at, “I told Corey we should have used stick figures,” controlling his giggles, “It’s supposed to be a toddler or young boy.”



“Oh,” Ichiro said softly as he stared at the paper again.



“It’s okay, Ichiro, you can laugh all you want.  We all know it’s pretty bad, hell we know it is pretty useless,” Donny laughed, stopping when one of the large guardians walked in and examined Dante closely. “Greetings, Guardian of the Clan, Dante poses no threat, you have my word.”



Titus who had heard about the strange dog in the compound, looked back up at the Alteran who the dog was bonded to.  Carefully stepping around his distant cousin he stared at Donny before placing a paw on the couch and raising his front end off the floor so he could stare eye to eye to the standing teen, “The crippled one poses no threat.  The question is, do you deserve my brethrens guarding of your pups, or just the primes?”



“I hope my clan is found deserving.  I would love to sit and talk with you.  I just wish…” Donny trailed off sadly as he remembered Buster.



What do you wish, walker with those with that fly and run on four legs?” Titus drew closer to Donny’s face.



“I wish Buster was like you, so I could have known he knew I loved him,” Donny whispered through the tears as he pictured the day Buster died saving his life.  Hugging Dante tightly after he climbed up onto the couch sensing his bonded’s sadness, Titus nuzzled Donny’s face.



My cousin knew, walker,” Titus moved back after placing his muzzle on Donny’s forehead, as if he had kissed him.  We will guard your pup’s walker,” Titus told him as he eased himself down and moved over to dining hall and let out a tremendous “ WOOF” while sending “Water play time.”



Donny cuddling up with Dante tilted his head as he felt better; the guardian’s words made him feel better, “Water play time?”



Laughing Aaron pointed as the youngsters rushed around the second floor, running towards the ramp. “Showers, Titus is calling the youngsters for a shower.  They love the water after all and he just loves the attention he gets in the shower and the squeals of joy from the youngsters.  I think he likes the drying cycle the most though.”



Giggling as Dante lay down, head in his lap so he could get scratched. Donny looked around.  Seeing most of the clan getting up and leaving them he questioned Aaron with a look.



“Preparing the bedtime snack, fruit and such; some of us will be joining the youngsters in the shower to make sure it does not get out of hand…well at least too much,” chuckling Aaron leaned forward bringing up the subject they had started when Colin interrupted them in the med bay.  “I adapted the temple sensors to act as a relay, to replay recordings of what happened while someone was asleep in the bio-tube.  Kenny had a habit of visiting those being healed or re-sequenced so he could explain things to them.”  Seeing Donny slowly nod, Aaron smiled, “it got me thinking and I fiddled with different designs. But when I re-sequenced the Newfie’s, well I made them fully sentient so they needed a way to learn at an accelerated rate; so I modified the sensor once again to teach during sleep.”



Pointing to the youngsters wing, “The youngsters presented me with a unique challenge.  They wanted to be our sons, and with the technology we have, I am able to overwrite DNA, so each of the youngsters is slowly being turned into an Alteran like the rest of those we brought in. So during that process, we are replacing their mothers’ DNA with the DNA from one of us, making them in truth our sons.  I also linked the same teaching technology into their beds, so when they sleep they were being taught how to be kids again; reliving their childhood through their dreams, from there they developed naturally all but forgetting their old lives and embracing their new lives.”



“You took eleven of the lost ones, but you took them to be future clan members not sons, so I will give you modified temple sensors they can wear while sleeping, but only if they want to” Aaron sighed as he looked at the large bowls of fruit being set out, “The younger ones will only need it for three nights or so; the older ones about a week.  What will happen each night as they sleep is that they will regress during that sleep time and re-experience growing up the way they should have been raised.  At the end they are happy and well adjusted,” Aaron saw the hope in Donny’s face.  “This is a clan secret and not to be shared with anyone but your clan council.  The ability of this being abused is too great.”



“I’m willing to keep any secret you ask, you know that.  If this will help them then we should ask them to try it,” Donny wondered how to say it and finally decided to just do it, “What about the others?  The ones that went back with their family? Colin said they are not doing as well as my guys, and I think they are pretty lost a lot of the time.”



“If Colin asks me, or one of the family members asks for help, I’ll bring them to our visitor’s quarters.  They can spend the night there as the teaching units do their job.”  Aaron sat back as he stared at Donny for a moment watching him try to work through what he told him, “Each clan compound has a special connection to the core which allows this technology to work.  They will not work outside of a clan compound, their link to the Core will not be strong enough.”



“Oh, okay.  I was worried that they would be left out there in pain and lost until Colin came up with a way to help them.”  Donny glanced at the clock before smiling, “I think we were stopped, at every zoo we visited, by every staff member at least twice, trying to schedule a time we could work with them on their pet project or their favorite charge.  How long do you think Mike will take to get a handle on things?”



“Mark and I, and most likely Richard, are going to help you with the raptors.  I think Mark mentioned something about Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.”  Aaron smiled, “I’ll be going with all of you on Tuesday to collect samples.   After that I will help at your lab until Mark and Mike are comfortable with the procedures.  Mark wants to learn the technique to help with our livestock.  He’s having trouble getting some of the rarer breeds of poultry in the quantities he needs.  I told Mike he could work closely with Mark and Richard, but I think after a couple of weeks he would be handling things on his own.  Though if you are wanting to schedule different zoo’s projects,” Aaron smiled at Donny’s excited nod and grin. “I would expect after next week you could start.  Have you talked with Tyler yet on pricing your services?”



“I mentioned it passing to him the other day.  It really wasn’t that important as we didn’t have our own vet, but with Mike joining us on Monday,” Donny looked around to see if he could find Tyler, or at least which way he took off.



“It’s his night to help with showers,” Aaron chuckled, “he’ll be in shortly.  You can ask the best time to meet with him before he collapses, acting the part of a drowned rat.”  Leaning forward Aaron whispered, “Secretly he enjoys it; the youngsters like to think they are drowning him as they play.”



Sensing Dante’s need Donny stood up, “Okay I’ll do that.  I can wait around until he gets out, but I need to show Dante where he can go to the bathroom.  We’ll be back in a few minutes.”