Chapter 78







Aaron sighed as he watched the youngsters play hide and goose with Titus and the rest of the Kesol.  It had been a rough start at first, but he had to admit the forced vacation did him a world of good, not that he planned to rescind anything he said at the meeting.  He had about all he could stomach with some of the Earth governments.



Sitting next to Aaron on the sand dune as he looked at the youngsters playing near the ocean Tyler glanced at his lover, “I almost hesitate to bring this up, in case I undo all the rest and relaxation that we all got the past week.” Seeing Aaron turn to look at him he sighed, “I…we have a small problem on the finance side in our dealings with Earth.”



Aaron frowned as he thought about all his companies, and then quickly listed in his mind all the technology that was flying off the shelf almost as fast as he could stock the warehouses, “I’m not sure I understand, money seems to be pouring in.”



“And that is the problem,” Tyler moved so he was sitting cross legged in front of Aaron.  “The problem is we are rapidly taking more money out of circulation than the world wide economy can afford, and we are not putting enough of our money back into circulation.  If we don’t do so soon we could destabilize the world’s economy.”



Aaron scratched his head as he tried to figure out what Tyler meant.  Staring off across the ocean as he thought things through, he looked back as Tyler handed over his P.A.D.D. with the report he had complied.  Reading through the report and seeing the numbers it dawned on him, “I see what you mean now, but what to do about it.”  Tracing his finger over the graph he looked over at Tyler, “Since we conquered the U.S. it gave us time I see, otherwise we would have had this problem much earlier.”



The fact they had replicator technology is the cause Aaron mused, then again it is what allowed them to do and be what they wanted.  A lot of imagination and some time behind one of the terminals and the replicator could produce whatever one dreamed of.  “So I need to start doing some more investing to put the money back into circulation?”



Shaking his head Tyler frowned, “No, you need to do more than that, you need to start hiring people and building businesses.  The other thing you can consider is paying back all of the U.S.’s loans.  Even though the country is no longer in existence we can easily afford to repay those loans and put a large chunk of money back into the world’s economy.  It would also give us some time to come up with a long term solution so we don’t find ourselves right back here in a couple of months.”



Aaron thought about it, “Historically speaking, once a country is no longer in existence, the debts are dissolved, especially since the government that took them out originally is no longer around.”  Sighing, Aaron closed his eyes, “Pay off all the old debts the U.S. incurred, then sit down with Tim and see…no, we all need to sit down and come up with a budget for the territories of Earth and more than likely reduce taxes so we equal out the money coming in and going out.”



“We, or you, need to be careful about that,” Tyler smiled as Aaron was figuring out a solution.  “We need to keep our out go to the neighborhood of seventy five percent of what we take in, that way there is a nice cushion in case of an emergency.”



Staring at the smiling face of his lover Aaron shook his head, Tyler more than liked playing with numbers.  “After you showed an interest in the finances I’ve not really been paying attention to what comes in.  Do we have enough coming in to set back twenty five percent and still cover all the costs associated with running the territorial governments if we lower taxes like I’m thinking about?”



Giggling, Tyler had to right himself before answering, “Love, you could easily pay the salaries of every single security and police officer worldwide and not use more than a quarter of what we make from sales and such.”



“OH!” Aaron looked away before grinning sheepishly, “I had no idea we were making so much money.  After Pete developed the replicators I think we moved beyond a monetary based economy, not to mention all the gold and such deep under Altair back on Earth.  I think version 1.0 brought back with him all the world’s gold from the future he could get his hands on.  We’ve never needed to use money from the start, and I remember several times being told that not even one percent of any of the funds available to our people have even been used.”



Chuckling, Tyler moved over so he could hug Aaron, snuggling into his side he looked up, “Can you blame them?  We want for nothing, not only that we can get anything we want from the replicators.  I’m just glad as a race we are not lazy or we would be a nation of huge fat people.”



Chuckling, Aaron kissed Tyler, “Our week of vacation is up at lunch time.  I plan to go to my office and check-in to see what happened while we were gone right after lunch.  So why don’t you contact those that were holding the notes to the old U.S. government and get them paid off, that should take a nice chunk of change out of the bank.  Then, over the next couple of days, talk to who you need to and come up with a new banking system for the Earth Territories…maybe a budget too.  Take your time, but we will sit down and talk it out once you have things situated to your liking.”



Tyler stiffened in shock before relaxing, chuckling he looked up and kissed Aaron’s cheek, “In my old life I would be trembling in fear from being told to create a nation’s banking system for real; not only that to be told I have to come up with a budget on top of that.”  Twisting in Aaron’s arms so he could face him he kissed him slowly and putting all the love he felt for Aaron into it, “Thank you for everything, Love.”



Smiling, Aaron tackled Tyler’s lips and kissed him with his entire being, long and filled with passion, not releasing his lips even though Tyler was moaning and panting that he was ready.  Finally he felt several wet spurts hit his chest and chin, and slowly released his kiss and brought his passion under control.  Glancing down he grinned, he still had it he thought as he used a finger to scoop up some of Tyler’s seed and shared it with him before taking his own taste of his sweet reward.  “Thank you, Love, for making my life richer…and easier.”  Grinning as Tyler started to focus on the here and now again, “Why don’t we go take a dip in the water to wash up before rounding up the youngsters so we can go home and start lunch?”





Aaron ported to his office on Centauri station and smiled as he saw Shaolin Tau sitting behind his desk with several of his fellows moving around the room and working off the different terminal surfaces scattered about.  “Greetings, Shaolin.”  Grinning at the harried look on Tau’s face as he looked up, “I want to thank you for covering for all of us so we could get some much needed rest.”



Nodding slowly Tau smiled before tilting his head to the side, “I am glad we could help…” Trailing off he noticed how relaxed the Great One was, “I do have to wonder though, how you are able to do what you do.”  Waving his hand around the room, “As you can see it takes almost nine of us to do what you do, not to mention how many of both clans it took to cover for the other Dragon Lords and their duties.”



Sitting down across from Tau, Aaron shook his head in amusement when he heard Tau come out and ask him, “How do you do it and stay sane?  You make it look easy.”  Tau slowly moved his head side to side, “I do believe our people have a better understanding of all that you do and accomplish for all of us.”



“I learned very early on to multi-task.”  Aaron smiled, “Being a Prime helps out to a great degree, but it took a little bit of training on my part to divide my attention like I can now.”  Leaning forward Aaron traced a pattern on his desk top and dragged the outline of the terminal around so it was facing him before logging in. Turning the wall behind Tau into plasma screens he activated his normal information panel, letting his eyes wander at the six screen of information.  “If you practice with two plasmas open side to side you eventually will learn to divide your attention between the two and realize you are taking in the information.  It took me a little bit but I normally work on six feeds at once, that way I can get the reports over with quickly.”



Tau looked over his shoulder and stared in awe at the information flowing, looking at the awed looks from his Shaolin he muttered out, “Incredible!”



Tapping the terminal Aaron activated the slave mode and three more terminals brightened under the surface of his desk, “Actually I have my Lovers to thank for even coming up with the idea.”  Tapping in several commands and responses to queries Aaron grinned, “I woke up one morning to find Tim, Pete, Kevin and Brian standing around my office looking at the different monitors, all of them relaying telepathically back to Kevin instructions on what they were reading and seeing.  It gave me the idea to train my mind to handle…” he trailed off as his hands flew across three keypads as the plasmas merged into one screen.  “Now that is unexpected.”



Tau stared at the screen, one of the automatic detection arrays had sent in a report of finding another planet with the damned plant on it.  “This confirms that the plant is not natural,” Aaron trailed off as he read the report.



“The plant that suddenly was removed from Altare Prime by the MCAs?” Tau asked as he stared at the report, noticing something right away, “This planet still has animal life on it.”



Aaron connected to the array and replaced the report with a live feed.  He sat back with a frown on his face as he watched the plant snare and trap a large life form, in fact it reminded him of a dinosaur. Breaking away from the horrible image in front of him Aaron sent out a call, “Xon, I need you in my office, please.  Bring Joe or Chris if they are around.”



“Son of a Bitch…”  Joe swore as he appeared behind Aaron.   He had responded to Xon’s call by porting in with his command team.



“Indeed,” Xon stepped around Joe so he could stare at the screen, taking note of the coordinates he glanced over at Aaron, “What do you wish for us to do, Love?”



“Take three of Derrick’s RS ships with you and go to that system and remove those plants.”  Aaron stared at the plasma a moment longer as he realized the plant had not gotten a firm foot hold, “In fact, take several of the command class ships with you just in case, along with half a dozen scouts.”  Getting up and walking around his desk he looked back at Joe and his staff, “In case those responsible are still around, I want answers, but I want you safe at the same time.”



“Cleanse that planet of that monstrosity, then build one of our stations in orbit and fortify the system.  If you can find a trace of those who seeded...planted the plant down there then feel free to follow up.  As much I want answers…” shaking his head Aaron looked at Xon, “If you need more of the RS ships take them.  If those are dinosaurs I know of a lot of paleontologists that are going to cream their shorts to get the chance to study them.”



Joe stared at the screen one more time making sure he knew the co-ordinates and noting the transmission channel so he could get his fleet to that system, “Right away, Aaron.  I’ll let you know what we find in an hour,” Joe glanced behind him before porting out, his team looked around and ported out right behind Xon.



Shaolin Lee stared at the report for a moment longer, to his shame he had not understood the importance of some of the reports he had gone over.  “Great One, forgive this one but I did not understand.”  Filled with shame as the Great One looked his way, he quickly brought up the report he had overlooked as being unimportant two days ago and placed it on the plasma.  “Two other worlds were discovered with this plant on it, both of those worlds have no animal life on them though.  I did not understand…Forgive me, Great One,” he trembled in shame.



Aaron stared at the Shaolin with a frown on his face, “Shaolin Lee…” he sighed as he moved closer and pulled the young Shaolin into a hug.  “It’s not like it’s general knowledge what that plant truly is, so you have nothing to be ashamed of, it is not your fault.”  Not getting through to the young man Aaron picked the other’s chin up so he could look him in the eyes, “Truly you have done nothing wrong…until we discovered the true nature of that thing I had one of the vines arranged over my favorite soaking place, in the center of our compound around the hot spring.”  Nodding at the shock in the Shaolin’s face, Aaron smiled, “I thought he flowers were interesting and the scent it gave off was soothing, a good place to soak in the hot water and relax.”  Looking out of the window, “If it was not for the Kesol loathing it at first sight it might still have been there until it killed one of the youngsters.”



Moving back to his recently vacated chair, Aaron sat down as he looked around the room waving at the chairs in front of the desk, “Have a seat.”  Hands flying across the desk as he closed all the open keypads except the one he dragged over to his side of the desk, “Unless you knew what to look for in the system I doubt anyone has seen what that plant really can do.”  Replaying the video of the one in captivity, they watched as it ate several of the culled hogs before its blooms suddenly started to glow and the pollen changed from a golden color to blood red and then, as the time lapse video sped up, to suddenly exploded, seeds ricocheting off the Ionosin walls of the dome. “We finally found out how the damn thing reproduces…and before you ask, the scans indicated the pollen did in fact contain blood.”



“So now we know why the MCAs scanned the planet a second time several days later,” Tau looked around the room before staring at Lee.  “The Great One is right, Lee, you have done nothing to be faulted for, as even I did not have this knowledge. Though I could have gotten it if I was interested it seems.”



Nodding, Aaron sat back in his chair, “True, but I would even have a problem keeping my eye out for this type of invasion if I did not know about it.  Thankfully I kept an eye out and programmed the arrays to let me know when they found that specific genetic profile because of my experience with that plant, and my paranoia thinking it was an artificially created plant.”  Staring at the plasma with the live feed still on it he whispered, “And now I know.”





Xon glanced around the command deck of the CS04-01, his command ship.  One of these days he would get around to naming it, for now it served its purpose as a command and control research vessel.  His ship was unique in the fleet as all the new prototypes were outfitted on this ship first for testing; those that passed his muster were implemented fleet wide.  Seeing that all the stations were rapidly being manned he moved to the command chair.  After sitting down and logging in he plotted the course they would need to take to get to the newly discovered planet.  It looked like it would take three ports before they reached the system, the last one porting from the Vree system.  No wonder Aaron was so worried about killing this invader, along with the possibility of the mechanism of it being planted; it was one easy port from one of their own planets.



“Excuse me Dragon Lord, but Admiral Mandelin is requesting a connection,” the communications officer called out softly as he turned in his seat.



Raising one eyebrow Xon looked away from his plot and nodded his head.  Once the connection was made he stared at Joe for a moment.  Before he could get a word out Joe surprised him by saying, “The fleet stands ready. On your command we are ready to port,” Joe stood stiffly so the pickup could transmit what he considered a proper respect to his superior.



“And this command you are waiting for, why does it have to come from me, after all you are the admiral?” Xon shook his head slowly.



“Because you are Clan, you lead and we follow,” Joe stared at him intently.  Didn’t he know how everyone in the Empire felt about these guys and all that they gave up to give the rest of them a chance to reach their dreams.



“Very well then,” Xon touched several areas on his terminal sending his plan to the rest of the fleet.  “Once we get to Vree we will connect to the array and reprogram it to do a quick scan of the system before we port in.”  Xon made a few quick notations on the map and sent it along, “The Star Scouts will port in first to these positions and start scanning on the way towards the system primary.  The command class vessels will port in a globular fashion around the target planet.  Five minutes later the RS series ships shall port in and begin the planetary cleansing of the carnivore plant and seed pods, before RS02-11 thru 13 begin to construct the system station.”



Glancing up Xon noticed all the fleet captains looking back at him from the monitor that his communication officer had split into appropriate sections, “Aaron would very much like to track down the race seeding the planets with this life form.  This is the fourth planet we have found with traces of this life form, it is also the only planet still with animal life on it so it must have been seeded recently.  If we find the vessel doing the seeding care must be taken to take it intact, or as close to fully intact as we can.”  Giving them a moment to take in his orders Xon turned to the Gestalt deck, “Initiate PORT.”





Aaron thanked the Shaolin once more for covering for him as they left.  Activating the plasmas once more to go through what had happened the past week he heard a noise and looked up to see Chris walk into his office, Pete and Tim ported in before Chris had a chance to sit down.  “Well I have to wonder about the timing of all three of you coming at once…So what’s up?”



“We found the Galactica,” Tim told him as they sat down.  Tracing a pattern on Aaron’s desktop he brought up the image of the Galactica floating amongst derelicts and debris from some type of battle.



Aaron frowned as he looked at the Galactica flashing yellow…red…yellow, the universal plague ship warning, “What in the name of the winds happened?”



Pete stared behind Aaron at the image that Tim had slaved so they could see it too, “Whatever happened over in the Mizhine system, it’s a dead world now, not a single life sign, though there is a power source registered deep underground on the third moon.”



“Aaron,” Chris sighed, “we sent an SE114 over to the Galactica after approaching cautiously.  The ship was empty, but we were able to trigger the log,” he nodded over to Tim who tapped a few commands which started the playback.



The plasma blinked out and then the image of Anton on the bridge of the Galactica appeared, “To all Alteran vessels, stay away from our ship.  I have initiated plague protocols and transported my crew into the buffers until such time as a rescue party can take control…” the image froze as Aaron stopped the playback.



Holding up his hand at the questioning looks he pathed out, “Fred…Richard, I need you in my office on Centauri right now, this is important.”



A moment later Richard ported in holding a towel and drying his body, he had been soaking in the hot spring along with his Cousin and several of the youngsters who wanted to cuddle.  Glancing around the room he noticed Fred port in and froze as he saw the image of one of their ships flashing the plague warning.  Dropping his towel he swore, “Bloody Hell.”



Catching Richard’s slight tremors Fred quickly hugged him and then moved one of the couches over with a slight bit of kinesis where he sat down and pulled Richard onto his lap.  After bringing the two up to speed with what had happened so far Aaron reached out and restarted the playback.



The image of Anton on the bridge of the Galactica appeared, “To all Alteran Vessels, stay away from our ship.  I have initiated plague protocols and transported my crew into the buffers until such time as a rescue party can take control of the situation.  As soon as I finish this log, and set the automatics to play back my message on detection of one of our fleet vessels, I too shall join my crew in the buffers.  This way we can still be alive when a treatment is found.”



They watched as Anton sat down heavily in his chair, “We arrived in system twelve hours ago and found what you see around us, the remnants of a huge battle.  No life signs were detected in the system, though we have detected a hidden base on the third moon.  The surprising thing is it still is powered up and my science officer speculated that it could be a cryogenic facility,” a tired smile appeared on Anton’s face, “Vasily is one who loves his science fiction stories Da…”



Anton looked away before they heard him sigh, “We are not sure whether we did in fact come into contact with a plague, or if it was more likely a poison like Kinsey our medical officer thought.  He did not have time to investigate as whatever is affecting the crew quickly affected him.  He fell down after exposure and moved quickly into a coma.  When that happened I initiated plague protocols and locked the ship down tight.  Afterwards I ported to the replication deck after evacuating the air and replacing it with a replicated atmosphere.  While not pleasant it kept me alive long enough to use the transporters to place my crew into the buffers for safety.”



“The only way we could have gotten infected is when several of the Marines ported down to the planet’s surface to what one of my officers told me was the main temple of the religious cast from the movies.”  Anton looked torn as he frowned, “I take full responsibility, of course…” Shaking his head he looked back at the pickup, “We had hoped any records of what had happened would be found at the main temple.  We found many skeletal remains that would match up with the fictional accounts of the Mizhine race,” they watched him look confused for a moment, “which brings up the question of why so many of the science fiction books and movies seem to match real live races we have found once we have left Earth.”



Shaking his head he frowned, “I must apologize and focus, the first symptom of whatever has hit us seems to be the inability to focus on matters at hand; either that or it is the stress of the situation and having my command practically decimated before my eyes.  Luckily there were no deaths, at least not yet, though I do hope the answer of our cure and release does not take centauries.”  Shaking his head once more he tapped a few commands on the armrest, “Everything we know about the symptoms of this malady have been encoded in this transmission.  I have to move to the transporters now before my mind wanders too much and I am unable to place myself in the safety of the buffers.”  They watched as the screen went black as Anton pressed a section of the armrest.



Aaron sat back in his chair deep in thought.  It was a fully ten minutes before he looked at Chris, “Did you bring the encoded reports with you?”



Releasing the hold he had on the thin case holding one of the Isolinear chips, Chris slid it over across Aaron’s desk.  “Everything that was sent is on that chip, including the reports of the environmental systems after we tied into the Galactica’s command net.  I ordered the Galactica to be opened to the hard vacuum of space, if it is an air born contamination it should be purged by now…I hope.”



Tapping the chip against his hand Aaron looked at Chris before glancing at Richard, “Richard, how close is your invention to being complete?”



“It’s done and ready,” Richard stared out of the window.  “The ones in our med bay and the Kesol bay, I finished those before we went on vacation.  The one on Sol Station can be finished in several hours if needed.  Whether the Rhawbar, Fred’s birthday present, is done is another matter.”  Pulling out his P.A.D.D. he synched it to the system and pulled up his file as he glanced over at Pete.



Pete sighed as he looked at Fred’s surprise, “It’s almost done, Richard.  The only thing I haven’t finished is the drive section.  I’ve not finished my dimensional drive yet so I held off telling you it was ready.”  Waving his hand he added, “It’s ready to go as long as you port it to where you want, and the secondary drives are installed and tested, just not the main drive yet, but it is warp capable.”  Grinning as Richard placed the image on the plasma he pointed to it, “Happy Birthday, Fred.  We built you the ultimate hospital ship as one of your presents.”



Fred pushed Richard off his lap onto the couch next to him as he stood up to get a closer look at the screen.  Aaron stared at the plasma as it listed the attributes of the hospital ship, reading one of the lines he looked at Pete, “What the hell is an interlaced buffer network?”



Pete grinned, “The transporter buffers are great, but Richard told me what he needed for his system to work efficiently was the ability to transfer from one buffer to another without rematerializing the person or object in the buffers.  That way there would be no stress or contamination along the way. Which sounds like the exact thing we need here, the only problem is the Galactica has not been upgraded yet.”



“Which means the Galactica’s crew would have to be transported out of the buffers before I could run them through the filters,” Richard smiled at Fred’s flabbergasted look before looking back at Aaron.



Aaron was pretty much ignoring the discussion as he went through the data that Anton had encoded into the message.  Seeing something that looked strange he stopped scrolling and stared at the readings, “I don’t think we are dealing with a plague…” Bringing up the image of the Marines getting covered in dust he pointed to the plasma, “I think what we are dealing with is an inhalation poison or contaminant. Pete, start cycling the fleet through the shipyards for upgrades so Richard’s invention is installed as quickly as you can.  Afterwards we are going to  change how things are done, I want a room built like an air lock so that those who visit other worlds can port into it and then go through a decontamination dematerialization.  I don’t think it would have helped the Marines in the short term while on the planet, but it sure would have kept the rest of the ship from becoming contaminated before they had been cycled through your nifty invention.”



Chris looked at the monitor frowning, “How sure are you that your right?” Sitting back quickly Chris looked sheepish, “Not that I’m doubting you, but this is going to freak people out big time, including Anton and his crew.”



“Ninety nine percent sure,” Aaron smiled so Chris knew he was not upset.  “I have the added advantage of knowing intimately our race’s genetics and what can and cannot affect us.  I’ll have to examine Kinsey to be sure, but I think whatever they picked up is acting like a drug to our systems…affecting our brains like a barbiturate from the symptoms reported in the log.”



Sitting back in his chair Aaron brought up the blueprints of the command class cruisers, “We are going to have to go in with the MCAs and decontaminate the vessel.  Opening it up to space works if the agent is biological or germ based.  Most times it will also work on viral agents to an extent, but if this is a contact contaminant like I think it is, well, it is very hard to blow dust out of a ship completely, which explains why Anton was affected after replacing the atmosphere.”



“So we should take over an RS ship instead of the new hospital ship then?” Tim nodded to himself, “We’ll have to program the MCAs to remove everything and set them to remove at least several microns of matter from the ship itself, then the Galactica will have to be dry docked to replace it, not to mention do the upgrades Pete and Richard want to do to the med bay.”  He looked over at Pete thinking about it, “Can you redesign the med bay slightly so the decontamination room is actually part of the med bay?  That way if something were to happen they would be where the need to be to be helped.”



Looking through the blueprints Pete nodded slowly, “I should be able to do that, we can redo section nineteen at bulkhead thirty.  It’s a storeroom attached to the med bay right now,” he said as he traced a finger along the blueprint for the small med bay deck.



“Alright, this is what I want done.” Aaron stood up as he made up his mind, “Chris, get a crew over to the Galactica in full biohazard gear and port the ship to sector seven.  You’ll have to pull the co-ordinates off the system, but it’s a dead world with several of our mining assemblers located there…well, according to the information left from the 1.0 crew.  Take three of Derrick’s beloved RS ships before you move the Galactica and upgrade the facilities there, including the station.  Once you are ready, port the Galactica over and sterilize it like Tim suggested, then we can move in and bring Anton out of the buffers and run him through the decontamination cycle to see if I’m right.  If so we can quickly release and heal the rest of the crew…let’s plan to have everything ready so I can start in four hours.”



“Right away Aaron,” Chris smiled eager to get things done as he launched out of his seat and rushed out of the room.



Shaking his head Aaron watched Chris leave, “What is it with people and not porting out?”



Tim laughed, “I think they remember your common courtesy lecture, like porting to someone’s porch first.  I bet you anything as soon as he hit the hallway he ported out.”



Aaron stared at him slowly shaking his head, “Richard, could you go along with Pete and build your medical suite on the station?  I remember glancing through the plans to the station and don’t remember a med bay listed, as the station was designed to be fully automated.  Find an empty hold to use for now, I guess.”



Accepting several long kisses from Richard and Pete, Aaron glanced back to see Tim sitting across from his desk bringing some information up on the plasma.  Sitting down he looked up at the screen and saw Tim was pulling up information on the territorial security forces, “Do we have a problem?” Aaron asked hoping it was not something that would cause him to get another headache; after all he had just spent the past week resting.



“No,” Tim grinned, “I was thinking about the last meeting, and I want to move the training academy for my security people to Proxima.  If the rest of Earth is about to step into space we might want to build a separate Space Security Force.  The military is good and all, but they have a different mindset.” Looking up at Aaron he smiled, “Rightly so, but we still need peacekeepers…similar to local cops and state troopers, with our military arm being the state troopers or the big guns.  We can’t expect our people to become the security force of the universe after all, no matter if we do have the gifts that make us the best.”



Aaron leaned back in his chair thinking about it.  If he had to be truthful he never gave it a thought, but he could see where it could become necessary, “Tell me about your idea?”





Xon stared at the plot as they ported into the outskirts of the Vree system.  Glancing at the live feed from the array he noticed what appeared to be movement from the lower corner, it could have been a shadow or signal noise, or it could be the ship that seeded the planet was still there he decided.  “Let’s do this last port as if we were invading the system.  Go to battle stations before porting in, and be advised there was a signal artifact picked up on the live feed from the array that could be signal degradation or a vessel.  We will assume it is a vessel and act accordingly.”  Glancing back at the captains that were once more looking at him from the plasma screens, he looked at Joe and barked out, “Battle Stations!”



“Star Scouts, port in three…” Xon looked at the plot as he counted down silently.  Once he hit zero he looked up, “Star Scout fleet PORT!”



Tapping a few commands into the terminal Xon glanced at the six captains of the command class vessels as the plasma widened and he started to get live feeds from the star scouts as he instructed the array to go to full power.  Looking at the display and not seeing anything he turned to Joe, “Prepare to port in three…” counting down silently his eyes never left Joe’s, “PORT!”



Sparing a glance to the gestalt deck, Xon inwardly grinned as a fresh gestalt team took their stations once they appeared in system.  “Sensor scans on maximum please, Gunny.”  Going back to looking at the data coming in from the array Xon frowned in thought.  Something had been here right before they ported in.  Following the ion trail towards the edge of the system he looked at the main plot to see which crew was closest, “Have Star Scout Omega trace back the ion trail to its source Mr. Perez, if you would.”



Eyes scanning across the plot one more time he looked up.  “Have the RS ships port in and start to remove the plant based carnivorous life form from the planet if you would, Mr. Perez,” Xon ordered as he stood and moved to the forward window and looked out towards the world they had come to save, the world looked so green with life.  Silently he watched as the RS ships appeared in orbit around the planet and the MCAs started to swarm around the ships before being directed into the planet’s atmosphere.  Soon, he thought, soon that thing would be removed from the planet.  If push came to shove and he had to admit his feelings for the plant, he would have to admit a certain grudging admiration for the design.  On the other hand he would be the first to shorten the lifespan of the person that invented the damn thing; it could have hurt one of the youngsters.



Damon listened in through his communicator before glancing back towards Xon, “Sir…Captain Dadikoff has found the probable vessel that seeded this system and disabled it half a parsec outside the system boundary.”



Xon, hearing his communication officer relay the news, broke out of his thoughts and turned around, eager to finally get the answers Aaron needed.  Looking up into the plasma’s pickup Xon had an almost feral expression mixed in with the eagerness he was feeling, “Joe, as soon as the RS ships have cleared the planet get them building the station before you get the system defenses online.  There’s enough mass in the outer belt to support everything we want to build here with plenty to ship back to our shipyards.”



Joe nodded, “That should really clean up the system for travel…” Staring at Xon on the plasma he looked at his own plot, “How much of the fleet do you want to leave here with me, and how many are you going to take with you as you investigate the alien ship?”



Xon stared at Joe for a moment trying to come up with a polite way of telling him he wasn’t planning on taking any of the fleet as backup when he realized he was being foolish.  Sighing he moved back to his chair and sat before answering.  “I’ll take star scout three, nineteen and twenty one along with Bridger’s Daedalus as backup.  I already know if I don’t take enough backup you more than likely would send them anyway.”  Looking over at Damon he ignored the grin on Joe’s face, “Mr. Perez, contact those ships and give them the co-ordinates for porting.  We’ll port as soon as everyone acknowledges they have a clear visualization.”



Five minutes later Xon was staring through the forward view port at the alien ship frowning as he tried to figure out what the hell it was.  “Gunny, port over a series of SE110s.  Let’s see what the hell that thing is.”  Or how much of a threat it is going to be Xon thought as he watched the feeds start to come life on the forward plasma.  He sat back and watched and listened as his bridge crew did their jobs, directing the SE110s around the outside of the asteroid that swallowed a ship.  He could not imagine a race building a ship like that on purpose, but to each its own he thought.



Xon leaned forward when one of the probes spotted a window and was ported inside, a firsthand look of the inside of the ship.  The corridors were narrow and not all that tall.  Catching movement to one side of the pickup Xon turned towards Gunny Billocks, but before he could say something Dennis had already directed the probe to move over and follow the shadow.  Sitting back in shock Xon stared into the plasma as several small robotic constructs went about their maintenance duties.



“Xon, looks like we have movement near the tail end of the ship where the Omega removed the drive section…It looks like more of those robots,” Denny the chief engineer pointed out as he walked onto the bridge to see firsthand the other feeds from the rest of the fleet.



Damon grabbed his ear covering his communicator before looking back at Xon, “Sire, Captain Dadikoff is reporting his SE110s have reached the bridge and found it to be totally automatic.”



Frowning, Xon tapped a few commands on his terminal bringing up the feed from the Omega’s SE110s and looked into the pickup under the plasma.  “Victor…”trailing off as he noticed the unmanned stations, well that was not totally true he thought they were mechanically manned. “Have you found any life signs aboard that thing?”



“Our See110s did, Sir,” Shane interrupted his friend as his image appeared on the next screen.  “We found what looks like the breeding area for those damn plants, and they have recently been fed too well as the robots are busy picking up all the little seed pods and storing them in containers.”



“No other life signs onboard though,” Xon asked as he checked a few things out on the terminal.  It looked like the scout ship MCAs would fit the corridors without any trouble.



Zooming in on the end of the ship Xon noticed the little maintenance bots were preparing the ends of the ship for repairs, and it looked like they planned to re-attach the damaged section.  “We need to remove the robotic droids; all Star Scouts concentrate on the inside of that ship with your MCAs, the rest of us will remove the ones from outside.  I will take care of removing the plant life along with the seeds,” he told them as he felt for the replication deck and ported one of the MCAs inside the alien ship near the SE110 from the Orion.  Hands flitting across the terminal he pulled up the DNA profile of the devil plant and waited until the replicator controls acknowledged the override to remove biological matter before activating the cycle.



A few minutes later Xon’s eyes went wide as the ship launched what could be mistaken for a missile if it were not for the fact it was heading away from their fleet, his orders to capture it went unvoiced as the Orion deftly snagged it in a transporter beam, stopping it’s progress as it shimmered in and out of phase before it finally solidified in a slow drift.  “Good work, Captain Shane,” Xon grinned as he directed several SE114s he had ported in to the bridge area towards the console, “Let’s get the computer core data retrieved before removing it.  On second thought, once we have everything we can possibly use knowledge wise off of that ship we should turn it into mass to be used…just in case.”






Aaron sat back in his chair watching the plasma as Xon took care of the alien ship; so the alien race sent out what amounted to a robotic ship he thought.  Well, it made sense in a way seeing how deadly the plant was.  On the other hand it made their job of tracking down the race that sent it in the first place harder.  Looking back at Tim, who had been explaining his idea before they received word that Xon had in fact found a ship, “Well, I now know for sure about that damn plant.”  Glancing at the clock, he needed to get a move on if he was going to be able to meet with Richard and Fred like he had told them, “Do me a favor, Love…Get with Kevin and see if he can create a virtual system for the computer core Xon is about to bring back, then see if he can make sense of it.”



Eyes still on the screen as one of the Star Scouts moved out of the way for the RS ship that was approaching the severed drive section Tim glanced up as his lover stood, “I’ll get right on it.  Hopefully Kevin can find the answers to the mystery race that sent off that ship.”  Standing up, Tim hugged Aaron close and kissed him slowly, “I’m not sure if I should be pleased or not now that we know for sure that plant is a weapon like you thought.”



“I know…”  Aaron trailed off as he looked at the plasma with Tim’s proposal on it.  “Your plan sounds like a good one, so go ahead and get with Derrick to build your academy on Proxima.  Place it on the outskirts of the space academy Derrick is building along the edge of the second continent.”  Giving Tim one more kiss he squeezed him tightly before letting go, “I’ll be home as soon as we get the crew of the Galactica squared away.”  As he ported out Tim smiled as Aaron’s parting words faded away, “I should have stayed on vacation…now I have two mysteries to figure out.”



Appearing a moment later on the small bridge of the station overseeing the mining operations in sector seven, Aaron looked around at the old equipment shaking his head at how useless it was now that they had Pete and Xon’s invention.  Walking out into the hallway he followed the sounds of voices coming from around the corner to find two of his lovers hard at work putting the finishing touches on the containment room so they could release the crew of the Galactica and use Richard’s quantum filter on them.  “I see I’m right on time.”



Whirling around at the sound of Aaron’s voice coming from behind, Richard grinned at seeing him standing in the doorway smiling at them.  No matter what, being around Aaron made him very aware at how much he was loved and wanted.  ”You’re right; we are almost ready to bring the new system online.  We were just talking about the best way to do things while waiting for you to show up and activate the fusion generator.”



Pulling Richard and Pete into a hug Aaron looked through the clear wall into the small first aid station they had set up.  It looked like it was nothing more than a simpler form of the modern bio-beds they used.  “And what have the two of you decided then?” he grinned after hugging each of them and moving over to the fusion generator and logging into the front panel, activating the generator after the computer system acknowledged his DNA.



Pulling up the image of the Galactica, which was just off the docking ring near the mining station, Pete activated the remote functions on the Galactica and brought up the environmental systems in the hold where the transporter system was located.  “We thought, if you agreed, we could bring the crew out of the buffers one at a time while on the Galactica, then Richard would use his transporter system to transport them onto the station keeping them inside the quantum flux until you both are assured that whatever is affecting them is gone.  Afterwards we would finish the transport inside the med station and you could check things remotely…well, at least with Anton at first.”



Thinking about it, Aaron walked over and peered through the clear Ionosin wall.  Turning to look at Richard standing next to his invention, “Alright…” Moving so he was staring at the mobile console, Aaron looked up at the plasma screen before nodding to Pete, “Pete, anytime you’re ready bring Anton out of the buffers.”



Turning back to his own terminal Pete quickly initiated the commands needed, “Rematerializing…now.”



Hands shaking slightly, until he felt the calming mental caress sent to him by Aaron, Richard prepared to initiate capture once Anton was fully out of the buffers on the Galactica.  Watching the screen intently he noticed how Anton appeared and took a hesitant step as he looked around frantically before he used his own system to capture him and initiate the quantum scan.  “Well, I have him…and scan reports coming up now.”



Aaron stared at the plasma monitor as he once again had to convert things in his mind.  He would have said something earlier to Richard, but it seemed Richard had learned to think of things on the micro cellular level instead of system wide like he had been taught; and frankly it was the better way to do things, at least with this technology.  Staring at the screen he saw something he had not thought he would, “Well hello…I wonder why your system is flooded with histamines?”



“Histamines?” Richard looked at the display as he wondered what that had to do with…”Are you telling me that everyone getting sick and passing out is from an allergic reaction?”



Shaking his head as he pointed out the group he wanted Richard to remove, “This whole section here, let’s get rid of the excess histamine then we, or in this case you, can scan for foreign substances in the lungs.”  Glancing over at Richard with a curious frown on his face, “Well, so far all the facts, or symptoms if you will, could easily fit an allergic reaction.  If your scan can find an irritant in the lungs than it would be a pretty safe bet that is what happened.”



Shaking his head Richard set the filters to remove the excess histamine, being careful to set the levels so that he would not remove every trace, just back to a more normal level.  Hands moving across touch pads he brought up an image of Anton’s lungs and looked at the image the system built.  Tapping the plasma he frowned, “You mean like these particles here?”



“Exactly like that,” Aaron stared at the screen for a moment, “Is there a way to filter these out but save them?  Maybe place them in a sealed vial for later study?”



Slowly shaking his head no, Richard’s fingers danced around the terminal, “Afraid not, but I can get a quantum signature off of them and I’m sure you can get all you need from the Galactica, or the planet.”  Looking sideways to see if Aaron was upset, he let out the breath he was holding and smiled shyly, “I never thought of adding something like that to the filters, I never thought we would need to do something like that.”



“I can do it the old fashioned way then,” Aaron grinned as he saw the shy smile after the slow release of breath.  “Richard, your invention does not have to be the cure all for everything, you know.”  Holding his laughter at the feelings of confusion Pete was broadcasting,  “I wanted to compare a pure sample of the irritant against the ones Richard is removing to see if there is a difference.  I can always use an analog later on.”  Stretching after looking through the scan one more time, “I think that is everything.  Nothing else is left, except what should be in his body anyways.  Go ahead and release him into the med station section.”



“So, are we banned from going back to Mizhine then?” Pete walked over as Anton appeared in the med station room and waved at him and smiled at seeing the relief in the man’s eyes.



“No…”  Aaron shook his head as he went over to the wall, “We can go back.  I probably can create an antigen for the allergen, if not, breathing packs and a shower should work, at least long enough to get what we need information wise.”  Smiling as Anton walked over he sent to the confused scout captain, “Hello Anton, before you ask it’s been a little over a week.  With everything that has been going on it took Chris’s teams this long to get to you after you were overdue to report in.”



Giving a slight start from the clear and strong mental contact Anton smiled, “Da…So what hit us?” Holding up his hands he smiled as he noticed how steady they were.  Looking back at his King he grinned, “I see it must not have been too troubling for you to fix.”



Leaning against the wall, Aaron grinned at the easy banter hiding the relief in Anton’s thoughts.  Whatever the marines brought back with them acted like an allergen,” seeing the confusion on his face he grinned, “What hit all of you would be like getting stung from a bee to those who are allergic to them.”



Anton stared at Aaron in shock…this was so embarrassing, he thought.  At least if it was a plague that had brought them down he would not feel so embarrassed.  Groaning he shook his head before laughing, “I shall never live this down.  You know that, don’t you?” Seeing the amusement all over Aaron’s face he looked around, “So when do I get out of here, for that matter how do I get out of here?



Pointing over towards the back of the room Aaron grinned, “Through the shower back there.  Once you shower down and go through the airlock to be dried, you just need to be scanned one more time to make sure you are no longer contaminated and then you are free to go.”



Seeing the door, now that it had been pointed out, Anton walked over towards it chuckling in relief muttering under his breath, “A bee sting…



Aaron laughed as the door closed behind Anton with his veiled threat to have words with Kinsey and requesting he might want to consider a refresher course.  Evidently as far as healers go he must be getting forgetful.



Wiping the tears off his face, Aaron turned to face his lovers with a grin, “Let’s get Kinsey out next, then he can help with the rest of the crew while I go back home and start supper.”



Giggling, Richard nodded at Pete, “I’m not sure who is going to be more embarrassed, Kinsey or Anton…all the same its going to be fun to watch.”





Disconnecting from the system Aaron stared at the plasma for a moment.  Xon would be on his way back shortly, the invader had been truly taken care of, nothing left of the ship at all after the MCAs had finished with it.  The automated torpedo that had been fired would be the biggest clue on tracking down the race that had built the seed ship.  He would have to remember to tell Shane how pleased he was with his quick thinking.  Moving towards the hot spring he thought now all he had to do is send a scout or two to the location on the beacon’s navigation computer.  He might finally get some answers to who was behind the seeding and why.



Ducking his head under the hot water cascading down the fall Aaron opened his eyes when he felt the ripples from somebody entering the hot spring.  Smiling at seeing Ivan and Igor looking nervous, “Hello you two, why so nervous?”



Seeing Aaron look at them, Ivan looked at Igor as they stopped in the middle of the pool, “We’ve been talking…” Sighing, he moved closer and found a place to sit down near Aaron.



“And other things,” Ivan grinned as he moved to Aaron’s other side, “I…We want to thank you for making sure we had time to explore with each other, and letting us be the judge on when to join in sharing ourselves with the rest of the Clan.”



Smiling, Aaron looked at each of them and felt their eagerness, “We would never have forced you to do anything, and all of us wanted to be sure you were ready to take the next step.  We all felt how much each of you loved each other, and we wanted you to be sure that you were doing what you would be comfortable doing.”



Igor shook his head grinning.  Did he not know how they felt?  “Yes, but all along you treated us as a single candidate so we would not lose each other.  Even when we were too frightened to let each other know how we felt towards the other.”  Leaning over he kissed Aaron gently then with more feeling before breaking off and staring into his eyes, “For that we thank you, it means so much to us.”



Being careful with his words Aaron nodded, “Like I said, we wanted you to be sure of your feelings towards us and each other; after all, if you did join with us, it is a decision that cannot be changed nor one to take lightly.”



“We know,” Ivan smiled at Igor, “and one we have been talking about as we have spent the last few nights watching as you all made love to each other.  We wanted to see if we felt…” hunting for the right words he looked over at Igor.  “We wanted to know if we felt a pull…no, a connection, besides the lust we felt as you made love with each other.”



At least they were thinking things through, Aaron thought, “And what did the two of you decide?”



“Besides being scared?”  Ivan shrunk down so only his chin up was out of the water.  Averting his eyes as his words caused Aaron to turn his full attention on them, “We decided that if we do not try making love with at least one member of the Clan we will not know for sure if our hearts truly desire what our brains are hinting at us.  That if we do not truly see if we can join with all of you…”



Igor picked up as Ivan trailed off, “We have a place here with all of you.  Even jobs and duties that are not only worthwhile but needed.  We have watched how the rest of our new people treat all of you, and how much all of you do to show the rest of us the way; and in a way it frightened us when the youngsters started to show the same level of attention our way, to the point we each have a group that helps us with our chores.”  Igor moved closer so he was facing Aaron who looked curiously at them.  “We talked and we decided we felt proud of ourselves, that others looked up to us for what we had done and were doing.  It was very easy to fall into the same rolls all of you take on, leading by doing…and we found out we liked it, not only do we like it, but we have greater respect for ourselves and we feel at the end of the day we have accomplished something…that we are part of something greater than we were and we only have to take that last step to truly join what we strived for…for what we denied ourselves thinking we were not ready…not worthy.”



Moving next to Igor so he could show Aaron how important this was to them, to show them by their expressions and by broadcasting their feelings on purpose and Ivan blushed, “Igor was my first kiss, and the first one to show me pleasure in all things save one.  We have been holding back with each other for some reason, and finally we found out it was because we saved that last thing for you.”  Smiling shyly now, Ivan glanced over at Igor as he felt something very hard brush against his leg.  “It took us this long to figure out that we were wanted, that all of you wanted us but respected us enough to give us the chance to find out about ourselves.”  Tilting his head to the side as he looked on the gentle face of the one he saved that last part of themselves for, “We both realized that we did in fact have feelings that we wish to explore with all of you, and that we both wanted to share ourselves with you, and that we could and did see ourselves as part of the Clan.”



Aaron smiled.  Trust the Russians to go about something so simple in a long convoluted way that ended up being slightly romantic at the heart of the conversation.  “If you are both sure this is what you want,” seeing their excited nods he grinned and leaned forward and kissed each in turn.  “Then later on tonight, after supper, you shall get your wish.”