Chapter  79







Aaron stared at Anton as he walked into his office, wanting to sigh out loud, first Kinsey now Anton, “Hello Anton, I hope you’re not here trying to do something I won’t like, like resign your command?”



Stopping halfway to Aaron’s desk, Anton gulped as he became very uncomfortable.  How in the world did he know what he had come to talk to him about?  This was going to be an uncomfortable conversation he thought.  Continuing towards the chairs in front of Aaron’s desk Anton sat down and gazed past his Majesty at the dead world below as the RS ships finished converting the old sector seven mining station down into mass to build the fleet infrastructure.  “I guess that was the main reason I came to talk to you, not only did I get my crew into a situation that could have killed all of us, I panicked.”



“BULLSHIT…” Aaron stared at the Galactica’s captain before sighing as he leaned back in his chair.  “Anton, I just had a similar conversation with your ship’s healer.  He too felt he was at fault for what happened.”  Leaning forward so he has over his desk Aaron pierced him with his gaze, “I am going to tell you what I told him; how the hell can you take the blame for an allergy?”



Watching Anton carefully Aaron sat back, “I sent Pete out to Mizhine the day after you were released, and he brought back several samples of the dust that caused the problem.  Do you want to know what I found out about it?”  Not letting him answer Aaron waved him silent, “Even if you were human or Kathat, now that we will be trading with them, it would have still caused an allergic reaction in all of us. The only good thing is our physiology is different enough we will not die from it.  If all of you went unconscious at the same time, you would eventually have come around on your own.  Your bodies would have fought off the allergen and then immunized you from it.  In a sense all of you have one important thing the rest of the fleet doesn’t.”



Shaking his head, Anton whispered out, “What is that?  I really have a hard time thinking…”  Aaron’s laughter stopped his downward spiral as he looked at him in shock.



“Simple really, your crew is the only ones we have right now that have been exposed to the allergen and are now immune to it.  Your crew is the only one that can safely explore Mizhine and hopefully tell us what the hell happened to that race,”  Aaron shocked him as he smiled.  Seeing the disbelieving look he grinned, “It really is that simple.  Until Fred or I find the time to work on a general immunization booster for our fleet personnel your crew is the only one that can do the job.  I should also mention that the other two races, if they were exposed to whatever the hell the dust is, would end up dying from the allergic reaction.”



Pulling a blue banded chip out of his drawer Aaron widened his grin as he slid it across the desk, “Your orders.  It’s all explained on the chip, but for the most part it is pretty simple.  You and your crew will depart back to the Mizhine home world tomorrow morning and try to find answers to the question of what happened.  The second part of your mission is to investigate the power source on that moon, this time in full containment suits in case we are now carriers to whatever killed off their race.  The hope is that it is a cryogenic facility.”  Tapping the desk near the chip, “The chip also contains all the data the Core recorded on the other dimensions Mizhine race, including language databases and customs.”



Once Anton took the chip Aaron smiled, “I looked at the data and watched some of the recordings.  More so than meeting and forming an alliance with the Kathat, I would be pleased to find that some of the Mizhine had survived.  They are a good and honorable people that I would gladly call friend…And they are more like us than any other race we have met so far, and that includes the humans back on Earth where we got our start.”



Anton smiled as he gazed down at the chip.  He had heard the unsaid message and felt a thrill run up and down his spine.  Standing up he saluted Aaron causing him to scowl. Laughing, “Thank you Aaron…I’ll get with my crew and we can start planning the best way to find out what you want to know.”



Joe had listened in from out in the hall hoping he would not be losing one of his better officers, and smiling as he held back his laughter, he quickly ported down to the other end of the hall when he saw Anton stand up.  After all, he did not want to get caught eavesdropping.  Waving at Anton as he walked by in the hall he quickened his pace so he could get to Aaron’s office for the meeting Aaron had called. Chris porting in right in front of him caused him to grin as he quickly reached out and goosed his lover, laughing as Chris yelped in shock before rounding on him.



Arms around each other’s shoulders they walked into the office and slowly disentangled themselves from each other when they saw it was going to be a full staff meeting.  Xon, Rolph and Andrew ported into the office directly, and Xon had brought the CAG while Otto walked in from the conference room with several Shaolin elders.



Once the furniture had been arranged so everyone could be comfortable Aaron glanced at the door and kinetically closed it, “We have a lot of ground to cover this morning and what we discuss here will hopefully not cause me headaches in the future.”  Tapping a few commands into the terminal the windows turned black before splitting into multiple screens, “Let’s start with some of the simple things and then go from there.”



“First off let me start by saying that Sector Seven is the new command headquarters for the military and space services.  We will keep your offices open back in Centauri, but for the most part those will be for the elite service branches that are comprised totally by Alteran's.  In the future this sector might end up hosting mixed species crews for our fleets.”  Aaron frowned before smiling, “It all depends on how well we integrate with the Kathat or the rest of the people on Earth.  I expect we will see Earth humans working out of here more and more, and being part of the crews on some of our exploration ships,” Aaron smiled as he pointed to the CAG who was fully human and one of the few straight people in his command crews.



“Now that it is official, let’s start with Earth, then Proxima, before moving onto purely space related incidents like the seed ship or the Mizhine,” Aaron looked over at Otto and smiled as he pointed to him.



Otto tapped a few commands into the table top and pointed to the screen behind Aaron, waiting until he had turned to look at it before starting.  “I’m sure Aiden will need to give a separate update later on rescues and his findings, but I’ll start with the New United States.”  Hand moving around and tapping the terminal he brought up the map of the four states that had reformed under the old style of government, “The New United States, a hot bed of corruption and graft.  And, until Aaron released several thousand weapons drones along their borders creating a ten mile wide no weapons zone, a place where the criminals and gangs felt safe enough to go wandering across our border to ply their trade.  Unfortunately there are rumors that the politicians are mumbling about building up arms to take back what they feel is rightfully theirs.”



Staring at the screen Otto frowned in thought, “The spook squads are having all kinds of fun, and keeping on top of things, so far all the mumblings are just that, mumblings, but you might have to consider interdiction barrier in the future.”  Seeing Aaron’s slow nod he smiled, “The rest of the old U.S. which is now part of the kingdom is flourishing, though it will be another two weeks before we move through all the prison systems scanning those requesting telepaths to prove they’re innocence; and of all the requests that have come in ninety percent of them have been innocent of the crimes they were convicted of.  Aiden should have the true numbers, but for the most part my Marines have done almost all the scanning of the prisoners so I should be pretty close.”



“Now, the problem children of the middle east,” Otto sighed.  “For the most part they are scared out of their minds and are doing everything possible to keep under the radar so to speak, afraid we will start looking towards their countries and use what they are calling the Iraq solution on them.”  Chuckling he tapped another set of commands in changing the screens once more.  “Two months ago I could have reported that there were an easy dozen wars going on around the globe.  Now, after the invasion of the old U.S. and then several other factors, I can report there are no active wars going on.  On the other hand we still have several countries that are actively attacking their own people, the only thing we have done so far is to watch them.”  Staring at Aaron he sighed, “They have been very careful not to target children, those under eighteen, fearing what you would do if they did so.”




Frowning Aaron looked away from the plasmas and back to the group in his office, “The only thing we can do right now is to watch carefully for an opening…Well, unless they would happen to do something stupid like attack our people or declare war.”  Thinking about the atrocities being committed in the African continent he shook his head, “If they give us an opening we’ll take it, otherwise we wait.  Who would have thought that China the nation known for some of the most horrendous human rights atrocities would turn out to be one of the new world leaders espousing human rights so quickly?”



Andrew grinned, “I think it has to do with the fact of the immigration policy.  Those that want to leave can, and those that like what they had stay, so the pressure is gone.  Not only that, but from what Tyler was saying the other day, the standard of living in those five coalition countries has jumped by a factor of ten.  The people are happy and content so there is less strife for the state to crack down on, hence the fact China turned around so quickly.”



Thinking about it Aaron nodded, “You’re more than probably right on that, I can feel out the coalition members later after lunch when they come to Proxima for our meeting.”  Looking back at Otto he grinned, “Anything else we need to cover about the happenings on Earth?”



“Just for me to mention the French people have replaced their government,” Otto grinned in satisfaction, “The arrogant one was dragged out of his Presidential Villa by a mob made up of National Assembly members led by the Prime Minister.  They’ve been calling for them to be publicly flogged; they have even brought it up in their Assembly for a vote so when he is convicted that could be part of the sentence.”



Aaron swallowed his chuckle.  It was amusing, but at the same time he could feel for the French people just a little bit, “Moving on then.”  Bringing up the reports on Proxima he smiled, “Luckily Derrick did not have to build another city for the youngsters we rescued.  After altering those not in puberty and moving them to our home planets we have more than enough room for all those that have been applying to go to one of our schools.  I’ll go over that later with Adrian and the others, but what I want to know is how far along are we with the space academy and the military academy?”



Chris leaned forward and glared at Aaron, “You know if it wasn’t for the fact you brought over the Alteran Prince and had Derrick build both academies on the coastline I would be highly pissed with you for making me the commandant of both those schools.”  Waiting for the laughter to die down, Chris sighed and leaned back in the chair with a small pout on his face.  “Fine, be that way…” before chuckling at his own predicament, after all he could have told Aaron no when offered the job.



“The first official class on the new campus for the military recruits started yesterday and I have to admit the facilities are top notch.”  Motioning with his finger and a judicious bit of kinetics Chris dragged the table in front of him so he could log in and bring up his own reports, this time placing them on the screen behind him so Aaron did not have to turn around.  “The space academy will officially open on Friday.  So far we have five hundred first form students along with another three hundred advanced students that already hold a maritime certification and want to upgrade their certifications to include space operations.  Of these eight hundred or so, the advanced students are from the coalition countries and will compromise the officers of their respective fleets once they’re built.”



Checking the report Chris turned back towards the group, “I think we have all the bases covered.  We’re going to use some of our upperclassman from the military academy to help teach some of the courses.  I was thinking of bringing in some of the better instructors from Earth to help teach some of the basic courses, the only problem is that a lot of them won’t be gay or be eligible to be altered.”



Looking away from the monitor Aaron stared at Chris long enough that he fidgeted, “If they are willing to undergo telepathic scan, and if they are more than accepting of others, I don’t see a problem with it. On the other hand I would like to keep to the minimum the number of outsiders teaching at our schools.”



“A best of the best type of thing then,” Joe smiled as he nudged his lover.  “If it would help we can rotate the scout and cruiser crews through the academy, say in four week stints.”



Aaron started to grin evilly, “And when you get to the module on plagues and decontamination procedures for the crews that survey new worlds, we can rotate through some of Anton’s crew to give firsthand accounts.”  Touching several spots on the terminal he changed all the plasmas in the office to the information on the seed ship, “Before we get into the discussion of who and possible whys of the race that sent out the seed ship, let me tell you what I have decided.”



Sitting back Aaron closed his eyes as he considered his words, “The possibility of there being more of those ships out there is very high, so standing orders will be drawn up that pretty much states all such ships we run across will be destroyed after we download their computer cores so we can try to track the ship to the planets it has visited and try to reverse the damage.  Any trace of the carnivore plant is to be eradicated when we come across it.  The system then will be protected and a watch station built near the world, Pete will come up with some fancy design that he can tie into our Empire detection nets.”  Pausing to gather his thoughts, Aaron continued, “I want the race that sent out those ships found, and then I am going to demand an accounting of all the ships they sent out so we can destroy them.  I’ll stand in judgment of the seed ship race if it comes to it…. but the seeding of worlds with life on them so it can be destroyed is going to stop.”



Glancing towards his lovers Aaron smiled, “Xon, was Kevin able to get coordinates from the drone that was fired from the seed ship?”



“It has taken him most of the week.  He has been working on the alien computer to decipher a common language.”  Xon started as he linked his P.A.D.D. into the system and changed several of the plasmas.  “The coordinates the drone was set to go to is a section of space that is empty to our knowledge.  The possibility exists that it is a transfer point, a place where a relay station has been set up at.  Pete and I have been busy the past day modifying one of the Star Scouts specifically for this mission.  It will end up having two separate drive systems besides the gestalt deck, but more importantly it will have stealth cloaking capability.  It will be ready to be crewed in two days which gives Joe just enough time to come up with a crew for him.”



“May I make a suggestion, Prime?”  Shaolin Li interrupted Joe’s reply by moving closer to the desk without leaving his chair.  Seeing Aaron turn to him and nod he bowed slightly, “I humbly suggest that this scout be crewed by one of the Shaolin infiltration teams.  The team I have in mind can spend the next two days working side by side with the Dragon Lords as the ship is modified so they can leave within an hour of the completion of the scout.”



Seeing the relief in Joe’s face Aaron nodded, “Alright, get with Xon after the meeting so your team knows where to report.”  Checking his list one last time he looked up, “Lastly I have sent the Galactica and Anton back to the Mizhine home world.  Because they were exposed to the allergen they are now immune to whatever affected them down on the planet.  Their mission is to find out what the hell happened and to see if the power source deep underground on the moon is in fact a cryogenic facility.”



Looking at the excitement in Rolph’s eyes Aaron grinned, “And this is why you are here, Rolph.  As soon as Fred and I come up with an inoculation, I want you and Andrew out in the Mizhine home system.  Anton has orders to not disturb the sleepers if it is a cryogenic facility, to wait until you get there to initiate first contact.  If you look in the data base you will find everything we found out on their race from the dimension search Pete did some time back.  I want you to take several RS ships to the system and clean it up, build one of the step-off stations there; we can always move it later after we are finished.”



“We will have to build one more station along the route to Mizhine;” Shaolin Sung referred to his P.A.D.D. “It would be prudent to build a station that the Young Dragon can base out of instead of one of the command ships.”



“We can then use the command ship to patrol the borders of the system,” Joe leaned over so he could see Shaolin Sung’s P.A.D.D. “Right there,” he tapped the screen, “Build the station near the Spider Nebula, System 239, the last leg of the journey will be a simple forty five light years from this station.”  Pulling the information up on his own P.A.D.D. Joe frowned, “It’s listed as a mining resource, yet it does not list what is being mined there.”



Pulling up the system data Aaron frowned as he read through it, “Well, right now nothing is being mined there, but when the system was scanned they marked it for mining because they found…” Sitting up, Aaron looked down at the top of his desk as he read through the report, mind working furiously as he considered what he had read.  Now that they had replication technology there was not the same drastic need, “Element 136 is the main fuel source we use in the fusion generators, mainly because at the temperatures the reactors run at it is very easy to convert it into element 137, and once it cools down it converts back to element 136.  It does double duty then and it is the reason we don’t have to keep feeding our generators fuel, making them self contained.”



Pointing to the plasma screen in front of him that he changed to show the information about the system, “System 239 is very rich in element 136, and in fact several of the asteroids are almost pure.”  Aaron frowned in thought, “Now that we have replicator technology I’ve not bothered to reactivate the mining facilities that timeline 1.0 built for our use.  Hell I don’t think I’ve activated anything the previous version left for us except for those in Centauri…there’s been no need.”



Joe started frowning as he thought about what Aaron said, “Is there a military application to this system then?  Is that system something we should secure and keep to ourselves?”



“Well…”  Aaron trailed off as he searched the terminal for that information, eyes widening in surprise he nodded his head, “Very much so…I never realized what else that element is used for.”  Looking up he reached for Derrick, “Love can you come to my office on the sector seven station, I need you to build another couple of stations and a few other things with your wonderful toys.”



Tapping a few commands into the system Aaron designated the information about element 136 under the heading of clan seal, removing it from the public net.  “Derrick is on his way and any further information about element 136 is now clan sealed.”  Starring at the shocked expressions of his military commanders he did not bother to sigh, “I’m sorry to do that to you Joe, but I never realized what exactly…”  Shaking his head Aaron leaned back in his chair, “I have to leave it at the system is important, important enough that we will not build your step off station there.  By the time this meeting is over in a few minutes the Core will have locked all information about that system and element down so I would appreciate it if you would not mention anything, even to each other.”



Pulling up the star map Aaron stared at it for a moment as he looked at the worlds in the empire and under testing, and those the Mizhine in the other dimension claimed as their own.  “Even though it would be more direct to go with the direction Joe suggested we will build a station here at Nightingale.  This system was just discovered and scheduled for testing to begin in another month.  In fact I was going to use this world for your project, Andrew; I was planning on having your teams practice with this system.”



Andrew leaned forward closer to the plasma; he wondered when Aaron was going to get around to doing something with his homework assignment from all those months ago.  Grinning he looked at Derrick as he ported in and pointed to the screen, “I am going to add a station to Aaron’s list.  If you could build one in this system I can finally contact my teams and get them moving.”



Accepting Xon’s hug and Rolph’s kiss Derrick glanced over at Andrew who was broadcasting his excitement, “O…kay.”  He did not get much further as Andrew reached over and kissed him, at the same time he sent the memory of the past half hour of their meeting so he would know what had been discussed and needed to be done.  Blinking as he was finally released Derrick glanced around the room and noticed almost everyone not part of the Clan was doing their best to adjust themselves and smirked.



“Dammit all to hell…”  Joe adjusted his shorts as he looked at Chris, “You guys really need to stop doing that during meetings.  I felt that kiss all the way over here and now I need to take Chris to my office and shag him silly.”



Laughing, Aaron motioned for Elder Sung to stay for a moment as he broke the meeting up, “We were finished anyway, at least for now.”  Wiping the tears from his eyes as Joe reached over and grabbed Chris and ported both of them out of his office, he looked over at Elder Sung after everyone but his lovers had left.  “I am going to turn the security of system 239 to the left hand of the dragon.”  Tilting his head he let the sigh he had been holding out, “I never knew that all of our most powerful weapons use element 136 as a catalyst to increase their power.  That system must not fall into any other races’ hands, the devastation that weapons made with that element…” Shaking his head as he moved around his desk and sat next to his lovers, “If I knew how to create a black hole I would shove everything in that system down it’s hungry throat.”



Standing and bowing low Sung looked grim, “As you command, Great Dragon.  May this one suggest that while we are guarding this system we use our technology to turn the whole system into mass for our replicators?  Thus over time the danger of this element will have been removed.”



Aaron did not hesitate, “Do it!  The weapons that could be created from that element could damage our defense nets around our secure worlds.  The youngsters must be protected.”



With one last bow Sung turned and walked towards the door, porting out towards the Shaolin clan compound as soon as he passed through the doorframe.



Glancing at the clock Aaron kissed Derrick with passion.  He had about an hour before he had to be at his office on Proxima, enough time to shag Derrick silly before letting him get started.





Looking both ways to make sure he was unnoticed Craig scurried across the small section of the open field towards the small cave opening near the base of the rock wall.  Breath coming in gasps as he frantically checked around to make sure he had made the run across the open ground unseen, he threw the bag with what little food he was able to find in the garbage cans and dumpsters into the hole before quickly erasing his tracks after leaving a false trail up the hill towards the gorge.  Slipping into the hole backwards so he could sweep the ground with the branch he had taken from the cave opening he finally relaxed as he caught his breath, being very still as he waited and watched to make sure he had made it unseen, hoping that the group led by his father had lost his trail.



An hour later Craig finally admitted that he had given the searchers the slip and moved back into the cave and slid under the small shelf outcropping before rolling over the edge into a small passage.  Worming his way along, while pushing the small bag of food in front of him, he finally entered the large cavern where he had left his boyfriend and their brothers, whispering out as he moved the rock door they had fashioned back into place with the piece of two by four they had brought in from one of their forays into the outside world, “Stan…It’s safe, its only me from across the sea.”



Hearing the password that they had come up with to tell each other it was safe and he was alone, Stan moved the blanket aside from the small opening causing a bright light to flood part of the cavern as the fire they kept going to give off heat and light bathed that part of the cave. “Thank the lord you’re back, Tony is in a lot of pain.  Were you able to get any aspirin or something for pain?”



Moving into the light Craig looked down at his boyfriend who was sweating in pain as he moved from side to side uncomfortably.  He dropped the bag as Mickey hugged him in relief.  “Afraid not…but I found several swamp willows near the stream and got some fresh green bark.  We can make a tea with that to give him some relief; it’s what the Indians used to do over in America.”  Opening his bag up he pulled out the baggie full of soft green bark, and the box full of stale donuts and the bag of the slices of pizza he had salvaged from the dumpsters.  Opening one of the tins of beef broth he moved it closer to the fire so it would warm up and he would have something to give his boyfriend after he had made the tea.



Mickey sat in front of Stan as they greedily started to eat the pizza watching Craig carefully shred the bark into the hot water, “Did you make it to a phone and call for help?”



Looking up as he used one of the two spoons they had to stir the tea, “I didn’t have time.”  Seeing tears start to fall he tried to lift his boyfriend’s brother’s spirits, “I did find the telephone number I need to call, but I got spotted before I could dial it.  Give me a few days so Tony is mostly awake and I’ll hike over the mountain to the campgrounds and use the payphone over there to call for help.  When the Alteran's answer the phone we should get help really quick.”





Aaron had barely logged into his desk terminal on Proxima station when a huge brownie Sunday was plopped down front of him, licking his lips he looked up into the smiling face of one of his lovers, “Thank you, Damien,” looking around his lover he grinned, “and Doug, what are the two of you up to?”



“Just on our way back from a meeting with Donny and the rest of the Beastmasters.  They needed some help planning some of the farm buildings they need to put up,” Damien grinned as he sat down on  top of Aaron’s desk.



“And they wanted to know if I could increase my sheep herds so they could have prey animals for their new project of raising replacements for all the endangered species on Earth, wanted to give me a heads up so I could be ready,” Doug smiled as he broadcast the pride he was feeling for being looked to for answers.  He felt like he was living up to the rest of his lovers now.



Picking up on Doug’s broadcast thought Aaron stared at him for a moment before putting his spoon down and reaching over and drawing him close enough to kiss him, “We’ll talk about you feeling like you are not living up to the rest of us later, Love, because it’s not true and I hope you know it…Now tell me about needing to expand your herd.”



“It’s not just my heard they want to talk about expanding,” Doug sat down in Aaron’s lap and leaned back against his chest now that Aaron had finished his treat, “In a couple of months, once they start decanting the incubators, they are going to need a steady supply of meat animals that the carnivore type animals they are raising can eat.  Brian will even have to add a few things he doesn’t normally grow for us to his fields.”



Before Aaron could say anything a chime interrupted them.  Curious, he opened his email program.  Opening the email from the system Tutor program his eyebrows disappeared as he looked at the doctorates Brian had just received.  A total of three including bio-engineering besides the standard genetics each of his lovers seemed to be racking up, “I see it was Brian’s turn to use Richard’s teacher.”



Nodding his head Doug grinned, “I can’t wait until I hit puberty.  Kenny and I have been making a list of the doctorates we want to get using the teacher.”



“I’m almost afraid to ask you who plans to use it next,” Aaron sent a quick email telling Brian he was proud of him and asking what project he had created to get his bio-engineering degree.



“Tommy is,” Damien smiled as he saw Aaron look at him curiously, “He plans to get his Aquaculture and the standard genetic and bio-engineering out of the way.  He has some ideas he wants to try out.” Still seeing the curious look, he felt that Aaron wanted to know if he planned to use the teacher, “Not yet. I’m not sure what I want to do yet.  I’ve been working with the Beastmasters so far helping them set up, but I don’t fit in, not really, and soon they won’t need me helping out.  This is a good thing I think, I spend less time with them than I did in the beginning and I have been working on setting up Edward’s clan structure now.”



Nodding slowly Aaron smiled, “You have time, Love.  Nothing says you have to get a doctorate or even a Masters, just do what you want.”  Grinning he looked at Damien, “Are you having fun setting up the clan charter and structure for Edward’s clan? If so, would you consider taking on the duties of ‘keeper of the clans’?”



Thinking about it Damien found he was excited, “What all is involved?  That is before I say yes,” he grinned.



Chuckling, Aaron looked at the clock, the coalition leaders would be here shortly so he needed to get dressed.  Porting some shorts and a shirt to his hands he nudged Doug off his lap, “Besides ensuring the charter requirements and structure of all clans and new clans, the keeper would be in charge of keeping track of what clans do what, making sure that any resources they need to do their jobs are there for them, stuff like that.  You’ve pretty much been doing what the job entails with your work with the Beastmasters…Oh, you would have to make sure that their clan connection to the core is always functioning, and, besides me, you would have access to all of their clan records.”



Jumping off the desk Damien kissed Aaron as he nodded his head vigorously, “I’ll do it.”



Kissing him back Aaron received a message from the gestalt officer of the day telling him the carrier from Earth had arrived with the coalition leaders, “The coalition group has arrived, so if the two of you are sticking around you need to put some clothes on.”



Taking his turn to kiss Aaron, Doug grinned, “Actually we need to get over to Gene Corp with our expansion plans so they have time to find the stock we need.” Grabbing hold of Damien he started for the bathroom so they could port out from the conference room, “We’ll see you at supper.”



Shaking his head as he grinned, Aaron glanced over at Brian’s achievements one last time before blanking the plasma so he would be ready for his guests.  Seeing Toshi leading the group into his office he chuckled softly, “Afternoon everyone.”  Seeing the grin on Victoria’s face he sat down, “Victoria, you look positively gleeful…so which politician did you smack upside the head now?”



Laughing as she sat down on the loveseat, “Now Aaron, you should know the royal WE would not stoop so low as to physically touch one of the politicians like that.  On the other hand, slipping a word or two into that wonderful Hilde’s ear about several skeletons hidden in their closets…”



Porting in the refreshment tray he had prepared Aaron paused in pouring one of his juice blends so he could laugh at Victoria’s comments, “That is positively evil…I love the way you think.”



Once everyone had a drink, Aaron sat back in his chair and glanced around the room.  Taking a sip of his juice he swallowed, “Before we touch on any new issues let’s discuss the colonization project so far, later we can get to new business and talk about how the world is reacting to your news releases, then we can decide the best way to break the news about the Kathat to the people of Earth.”



“So many changes.  Do you think the world is ready to know about others in the galaxy besides ourselves?”  Woo sounded very worried.



“Eventually,” Aaron replied as he sat his empty glass down and poured some more juice.  “That is what we will have to decide; eventually, once you launch your fleets into space, the word will leak out.  Plus I think by then the world, or at least a portion of the world, will be expecting that we will make contact with alien races.”  Seeing the excitement and the worried faces Aaron hid his sigh, “That is why we need to discuss it now, and plan the best way to ease the world into the knowledge you are not alone.  And we need to make it clear that Earth is safe near the center of the Empire, so it is protected even if it is not part of my Kingdom.”



Gorbivonovich looked up with a serious frown on his face, “The best way to do that is to prepare a place near your outer borders we can use as a first contact and trade center.  Later on, several years after meeting and working with the newly discovered race, we can invite them to Earth…That is if you would be willing to do this?  It will allow us years for the populace to become used to the idea while at the same time knowing they are safe.”



“I already have a place set up like that, Volosh 9; it’s on the outer edge of my empire’s border nearest the Kathat systems. I’ve set it up to be the only safe way through my outer borders,” Aaron tried to reassure all of them as he smiled.  “Eventually it will become the shipping center for my Empire and the outer worlds, a trade hub if you will.”



Activating the plasma screens so they showed the information on the five colony planets, Aaron thought for a moment before starting off, “We are almost a full 3 months…well, over eleven weeks, into the colonization efforts and, at least on our end, things have been moving smoothly.  We’ve moved over roughly fifteen hundred families a day for the past three weeks, those that wanted to farm or have received at least a full square of land; and another two hundred families per day for those wanting to live in the towns and cities around the colonies.  The rough totals are around three hundred and seventy thousand people moved so far.  Granted, it is not a lot in the scheme of things when we spread it out over your five countries, but David and Derrick think we can double the number of people going through per day starting next week.  I guess my question is, how are the people in your countries dealing with our pace?”



Victoria sighed, “Back home no one dares say anything about it after what was discovered and how quickly action was taken to punish those who attacked the children…Well, no one dares say anything, but they are mostly relieved we have not been bumped off the colony program.  Otherwise I think the people are pleased knowing that things are going as fast as they are.  No one is screaming about the unfairness of anything to my knowledge.”  Cocking her head to the side she smiled, “We are still too early in the process for jealousy to rear its head; those that signed up so far are the lucky ones that were able to easily and quickly get their affairs in order.”



“I would have to agree with Victoria,” Jens smiled as Aaron glanced his way. “So far in my country those who have moved to the colonies have been the ones who had yet to settle down, or those that have yet to finish their move from one part of the country to the other, so they had the resources available to quickly jump towards one of the colonies.”



“It is the same in my country,” Morimoto glanced at his son, “My people have yet to fully embrace the colonization project, they too are still mostly in the planning stage.”



Looking over at his Russian counterpart who he had had a long discussion with this morning Woo told Aaron for both of them, “We too have not seen but the beginning of those wanting to move to the colony worlds, we have seen an increase of those preparing, of getting their affairs in order so they may apply and move quickly.”



“Da…” Gorbivonovich smiled, “It seems those planning on moving to your colony worlds are making preparations before applying.  At some point you will get swamped with requests as many people are ready at the same time.”



“Oh...” Aaron managed to say as he sat back while he thought about what he was just told muttered, “So at some point more and more people will be ready to move at the same time, which will cause the problems I am looking for now…”  Tapping his desk as he thought about it, he frowned causing several of the coalition leaders to get worried.  “You know…” looking back up, “The only way this is going to work without a later bottleneck, as those wanting to move are finally ready, is to get people through the training ahead of time.  We, or you, need to let the people know that if they are considering moving to one of the colony worlds they need to at least attend the classes ahead of time, so that when they are ready all they have to do is show their proof of passing the classes and pick out the location and type of home they want to move into on the colony world of their choice.”  Watching their faces Aaron let slip something he had been holding back, “Hopefully I don’t have to open the other four worlds I have been holding in reserve just in case we were overwhelmed; at least not until the other colony worlds are full of the first through settlers.”



Shaking his head as he saw the intense stares directed his way he smiled, “The real question is, even though only a small number have moved to the colonies so far, has the economy or…” tilting his head to the side Aaron sighed, “if Tyler was here he could tell me the proper terms I’m looking for.  What I want to know is, if the people are happier or have the standards of living gone up since they know deep down now that there is something better for them.”



Jens was the first to answer, “I think I understand what you are trying to get at, and for the most part it seems as if the people of my country have taken notice, and for once they do seem to be excited about the possibilities that the future will bring.  I do think that once we announce the fact that we will be building and crewing our own space ships and exploring the galaxy that my people once again will become excited as a new age opens up for the world.”



“While the economy of Russia has settled down, I believe it will not be until the announcement of the space ships being built that my country will once more be well on the road of recovery.  At the moment my people have begun to hope once more,” Gorbivonovich nodded vigorously as he saw Woo nod in agreement.



“My country is also in the beginning stage,” Morimoto told Aaron. “Soon my people will have recovered from the shock and realize the opportunities being offered to them might be taken up by others, and they will rush to take advantage of them before they are gone.”



“All of that just reinforces my belief that we need to get those that will eventually immigrate to one of the colonies to at least get started now, even if they are a year away from moving.  If we can get them through orientation class and at least find out what they want to do, whether it is living in the outskirts of one of the small villages or cities, or going as far as to live and work out in the wilds, so to speak. Then we would get an accurate picture of how we need to handle our resources…I’m sure Derrick would appreciate it, even if he would never complain to me about it.”



Tapping in a few notes he planned to send to Adrian and Derrick after the meeting, Aaron picked up on several thoughts wanting to discuss what his people had done in England.  Sending the emails he sat back and stared at the group for several moments, “I hadn’t planned on saying anything about it but three of you are thinking so loudly about what happened when my people went through England it is hard to miss. So what do you want to know?”



Frowning then smiling, he should have known that no one could keep a secret from a telepath, Gorbivonovich stared at his comrade for a moment.  The true reason for their meeting yesterday and today had been about this very subject and now they might get answers.  “We have talked about this, and we wish to know what was done with the youngsters.  The news media has made…large waves I think it is, about the fact the children were taken away.”



Victoria frowned, the news media in her country had not made a big issue over the children being rescued.  Pointing over her shoulder at the world below them she answered, “I have to wonder about your news media then, it has been all over our news stations and papers.  The children have been relocated to Proxima.  In fact, from what I understand, there is an outcry for us to allow the rest of the children to try to garner a spot at the academy down there.” Glancing Aaron’s way she smiled, “I had planned to talk to Edward about this later, but there has been a huge outcry to allow the other children the same opportunities you have opened up for some of our children, not just the ones you rescued.”



Chuckling softly Aaron had to smile, “We have been discussing that very thing.  Actually we discussed what to do about it if someone made a fuss on the same day we started the rescues.”  Laughing at the eager expression on Victoria’s face Aaron decided to let her in on it and not make her wait, “It was brought up that those that were not less fortunate might take offense that the children that were disposable, according to some, would get to reach for the stars while the rest that had good homes would be stuck on Earth.  I have decided that we would open our schools on Proxima up to any coalition nation that allowed us to set up several embassies to base our rescue operations out of, even if it was only frontage to an office where those that needed help could walk in and get it.”  Leaning back as he watched the others carefully, “Education in my kingdom is free, completely underwritten by the crown. And frankly I’ve been told I am taking in too much of the world’s economy without putting enough of it back into circulation.”  Seeing the proverbial light bulbs of recognition Aaron smiled, “The same exact reason I paid off every loan and outstanding debt by the old United States, and even then it only gave me breathing room of several more months before I ended up back in the same position.”



“I had wondered why you repaid debts not your own, and from a country you conquered out of existence.” Jens had wondered about that fact, so much so he had even had discussions with those countries that held the notes that had been paid off, and they could tell him nothing other than a member of the Clan made arrangements to pay off the loan one day, and paid it in cash the same day.



“So after much discussion, a discussion that took all of five minutes,” Aaron laughed, “I decided that any student that can pass our entrance exams for the lower academy will be given a spot; that is as long as they keep their grades up.  They can be day students and take one of the transports from the embassy offices daily.  We will even offer boarding for a small fee.  Tommy told me he thought our academy would be considered the best of the best, and once the door was open to outsiders we would have parents knocking down the doors to sign their children up.”



“But only those children from the countries you have been allowed to open offices around their country?”  Morimoto said slowly as he thought about it, another option that would excite his people.



Nodding in agreement, Aaron smiled, “The secondary reason for opening a large amount of rescue points in your nations…that is, if you wish to take advantage of the offer.  We would then teleport the children from the rescue offices to Proxima for classes and back at the end of the day.”  Sensing the excitement did not match the faces on everyone Aaron grinned, “One of the other things that I don’t think anyone not part of my kingdom realizes is, if a person graduates our academy they automatically are accepted into our higher academy or the academy of sciences, and their schooling is paid for no matter what degree they go after.”



“But what of the young children you rescued that are not of school age?”  Woo was still worried over several of the reports the news media had been broadcasting.  “Surely you did not place them in a dorm environment and leave them to fend for themselves?” Glancing around the room and seeing how unconcerned Victoria seemed to be, “I think the media have left critical information out of their broadcasts to slant the report.”



Snorting in derision Victoria glared at the wall for a moment, “Don’t they always!”



Shaking his head sadly, Aaron thought about how much to share.  Even though everyone in the room had lockouts placed in their minds some things just did not need to be told.  “Only those that have entered puberty are given the option of attending the academy in a dorm setting, we feel by then, while still needing supervision, they don’t need the same degree of supervision.  Siblings, of course, are kept together in crèche style apartments, but for the most part all the male children are offered the choice to be adopted by my people, to become Alteran.”



“But surely those that are too young to make that decision…how do you handle them, or the females since you don’t have any females in your race?” Jens was confused, he felt like he was missing something.



Sighing, Aaron closed his eyes, “Not that I’m snooping but all of you for some reason today are broadcasting on the loud side.”  Seeing the looks the others gave each other Aaron rubbed his temples, “You are missing part of the puzzle.”  Pulling up the figures Adrian had given him the other week he placed them on the plasmas so everyone could see them.  “I Think Ton said it in a way that opened our eyes.”  Pointing to the screen and the lines which showed the numbers of each sex rescued he explained the shocking figures, “Ton told us in Eastern culture it is the female that is the throw away; well in western culture everyone dreams of a little girl so the boys are the ones thrown away.  So far it has been very easy to place the few girls we have rescued with loving families where they will have the same opportunities to grab their dreams, the cultural thing of western society placing a higher value on girls than boys and finding them loving homes.  And so far all our rescue efforts have been in the so called Western World.”



Jens was shocked; no, he was in denial, “No…the numbers have to be…” he trailed off.  Aaron’s people were trained telepaths, so the numbers were correct but it went against everything he was brought up to believe in.  In a way it showed that underneath everything the people who were supposed to protect the children were sexist at their core.



“I’m afraid to my shame Aaron is right,” Victoria looked at her contemporary from Denmark sadly. “Unconsciously those in children’s protective services in my country have always sought to protect the girls over the boys, thinking the boys can take more abuse or some such rot.  In the old United States the children’s services there, I have been told, thought no parent could raise a child correctly, only the state knew what was best for children.  Most times they made it worse, and it only took the slightest hint of something wrong before the state stepped in and removed the children…thank goodness that monstrosity was dismantled when the United States fell.”



“I hear the words, Victoria,” Jens shook his head, “But I am not willing to accept them.  All the children should be protected the same.”  Frowning he looked at Aaron, “Aaron, as a personal favor, I am begging you to let me hire some telepaths to go though our protective services department.  I am not willing to allow something like this to go on, even if it is on the unconscious level.  How soon can you build your rescue points as you called them?”



“I’ll have Ton come by first thing in the morning, right after breakfast, as he is the one who likes to play with real estate in the Clan,” Aaron smiled.  “Once the sites are picked out we can have them built in a day and then you shall have your Shaolin to go through your children’s services department.”



Morimoto grinned, “So my nephew has become the real estate baron?”



Chuckling, Aaron nodded, “To a certain extent, he thinks of it as a hobby while he works on his masters.  I think he is thinking about a career in the medical field, towards the research end I think.”



Morimoto puffed up in pride as he grinned at those assembled, his nephew was bringing such honor to their house and country.  “Please have my nephew see Toshi and my advisors; we can expand rapidly on the rescue scheme you put in place in my country.  We will make sure there are enough rescue points, as you call them, to not overload the teleporters for those of my people who will jump at this chance to study at your academies.”



“While I agree in principal with my esteemed colleagues, I must use caution,” Woo frowned, “I wish to take advantage of the opportunities offered but I must sit down with the party advisors and plan the best way to implement this offer before announcing it.”



Aaron nodded slowly; China would be a sticky problem, at least until more of the people had immigrated off world, so their leaders would be extremely cautious, afraid of rebellion.



Gorbivonovich cleared his throat to get Aaron’s attention, “There is a large problem with homeless youth in my country right now.  While we have tried to make their life better, and with the help you have given the world, it has gotten better, but we will need to have more help if we are to reach more of them.  The problem is, some of the ones who have been on the streets the longest have created a culture of pre-emptive action against those in authority in certain areas…and from what I understand, historically they have reason.”  Looking away from the intense stare directed his way he sighed, “We have been trying to come up with a way to ask for your help.  We have tried to bring some of the youth off the streets into a proper environment, a loving environment, to see if that would work before using that to model how we deal with the homeless situation…but all attempts have failed unless the youth has spent only a short time on the street…the drugs or glue they use see to that.”



Aaron was gripping his desk so hard his knuckles had turned white, releasing his hold on his desk and massaging the blood back into his fingers he sighed, “How many homeless youth are we talking about?”



Wincing in frustration and pain Gorbivonovich whispered, “Hundreds…of thousands.”



Jumping up from his chair, Aaron moved to the window and stared out at Proxima below them, ignoring everything else, even going as far as to raise a hand and send a glare when Victoria started to say something.  His mind was racing trying to find a way out of the only option he knew would be one hundred percent effective in fixing the problem.  He did not want to use it…he really did not want to have to do that again.  He stood there in silence, tears making their way down his face unnoticed as he gazed down at the beautiful world below.  He could not find any way out of using that option, not if the kids had built a new culture, one that revolved around drugs to reinforce the fantasy world to escape.



The group of coalition leaders started to fidget after ten minutes; they were worried when twenty minutes passed and still Aaron stared out the window without saying anything.  President Gorbivonovich was very worried now, all his hopes to bring his country back to a proud state hinged on being upfront and honest, and treating the children right; this one situation could doom them all.



Chin touching his chest Aaron finally wiped the shed tears, he could not find another option, and he would have to use the same techniques he had on the children of the Army of God.  Forcibly altering them and reprogramming their brains, it was the only way…if only he didn’t feel as if he was going down a slippery road.  “This does not leave this room!”  Turning around so he was facing everyone Aaron stood stiffly as he gazed at the Russian leader, “I will give you several hours to warn your key people not to interfere.  As the sun starts to set tonight my people will move in and go through your country, mostly in secret.  We will rescue all the homeless youngsters and we will heal them mind body and soul.  As I did for the children of the Army of God I will now do for your youngsters that have been thrown away.  When the sun rises tomorrow all those needing rescued shall be rescued, and as your people go about with their morning business I doubt most will notice anything happened.  This will not be mentioned again, it will not make its way to the news media…and because you truly only wish the best for your people and you have tried to do everything you could, I will not bring this disaster to the public’s attention or take any action other than to rescue those needing it.”



Seeing the Russian let out the breath he was holding in relief, Aaron shook his head in sadness before moving to his desk and tapping on the built in terminal, “As far as new business…I’ve read the reports on your engineers and scientists’ requests for study time at the academy, including the library.  What I am surprised at though is that I did not see any engineering designers request time to study at the library.  So I have to wonder if your teams are planning to build your ships in some ugly blocky design.”



Blinking at the sudden change of topic Victoria looked at her fellow rulers, “I am not sure we understand?”



Chuckling slightly Aaron sat down, “If you leave the design to the scientists you will end up with ships that are square blocks.  As far as they are concerned if the ship is going to be in space there is no reason to streamline it or make it anything but useful.”



Getting an image of a long square tube Victoria groaned, “Oh…I never gave it a thought really, but I can see what you mean now.”  Thinking about Aaron’s ships, including his scouts, she vowed to have several words with the admiralty about what an appropriate design should look like.



Smiling as he picked up on Victoria’s thoughts Aaron turned to the rest, “So besides the new business of the Russian rescue, is there anything else any of you wish to talk about?  I was thinking about all of you meeting the Kathat ambassador in two weeks time on Volosh 9 station if you would like.”



Jens felt like a ping pong ball getting bounced around; when Aaron decided to get things done it was hard to follow along, but he realized he had done this before, to make sure what needed to be covered was covered before going off on the next emergency it seemed.  “I do have a question.” Ignoring the slight surprised looks on his colleagues’ faces he frowned, “I was wondering if you had a contact with any government in South America, well from Mexico south that is.  I find it very strange that except at the one meeting we have not had any representatives contact us, placing feelers for colonization and what they needed to do to be allowed to join in.”



Hands hovering over the terminal Aaron stopped and stared at the group, “Not a single person?”  Seeing five negative shakes of his head he frowned, “The only government that had taken any type of initiative was Brazil when they approached me to buy the technology I was releasing wholesale.  They had come up with a business plan to fund their government and services for their people from the profits of being able to sell the technology to the other South American nations.”  Bringing up the military deployment figures Aaron stared at the top of his desk in thought, “Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I think I’ll send a few people to visit several countries down there just to see what they see.  After all they could be like India which seems to be insular and wanting to ignore the fact there is a whole new universe that opened up.”



Sending out a quick email to Chris to send in a spook squad or three to visit each of the South American nations to find out what was going on, he attached the last few minutes of the meeting so the spooks would know what to look for.  Finished he looked back up, “I’ll have some people look into it, I agree it seems very strange.  This is the type of information that is easy for us to overlook as I deal with the rest of the world through all of you for the most part.”  Laughing at their pride filled looks, “Well, unless I am making a point that is.”  All of his emails sent, now all he had to do was wait for several hours before he would have to move to Sol Station to oversee the rescue.  Aaron sat back and ported several plates of brownies in, one large plate appeared on his desk while the other appeared on the table between his guests by the pitcher of juice and water.  “A small chocolate break is called for while we discuss things that have no life shattering revelations attached to them.  I think by now all of you have been to each of the colony worlds; tell me what do you think?”




Aaron stood in the situation room gazing at the Earth below them on the main plasma as the rest of his lovers, his Clan, gathered behind him deep in thought.  He was not quite second guessing what he was about to do, just brooding about it.



Fred looked at the stiff posture and the unease Aaron was barely radiating and walked over and hugged him, “It is the right decision you know.”  Looking up into Aaron’s haunted eyes he hugged him tighter as the rest of them moved closer to offer comfort, “I know you don’t like relying on that option, but you have to know deep down they will be greater than they were after we alter them.”



“But they’re not being asked, I’ve taken the choice away from them,” Aaron sounded haunted still.



“Bullshit!” Kevin moved over so he could hug Aaron, the other father of his son and heir to the throne, “I spent several days in the Core talking to Corry about what happened when we captured and altered the kids from the Army of God.  When you activate that option the Core will merge with their minds and give them the choice, the choice to be better than they were, and most will take it knowing what will happen.  They will go into the alteration with their eyes wide open.  Even the little ones will be given a choice, if they are anything like the youngsters from the first time less than ten percent will be altered against their will… and you always could just heal them and alter their minds and send them to one of the colony planets if it bothers you that much.”



Aaron didn’t say anything, he knew that but it bothered him on some deep level; not so much that he was not giving them a choice, it was more the Core re-programming their brains that he found distressing. Shaking his head and getting control of himself Aaron smiled sadly, “I know that, it’s just deep down I cringe that I might be tempted to use this as the solution to other problems…taking the easy way out.”



“But you shouldn’t make yourself sick with worry either,” Pete looked at Tim who was frowning, “I honestly don’t believe what you are doing is a bad thing.”



“None of us do, you know,” Tim told him.  “Personally I think this is not only the right thing to do, but it gives us more people so we can do our jobs as the guardian of humanity.”  Shrugging his shoulders Tim looked out the window at the fleet assembled and waiting for the word to start.



Aaron stared at Tim for a moment before sighing, “Let’s get this started so I don’t brood on it anymore,” he smiled and tried to grin at his little joke.



Turning to face the side wall where the images of all the captains of the Star Scouts where waiting patiently Aaron stood tall and formal, “I want all Scouts to go black.  Magnetics on full.  Once you get to your assigned quadrants I want your teams to release the SE110s. We are going to do something different this time, as we rescue the youngsters I want them placed in the transporter buffers until we are ready to place them in the bio-tubes.  Each of you have been pre-assigned a station to take the youngsters to.  Once you have reached full capacity don’t wait for orders, port to your assigned station and once you have delivered your passengers start on your secondary target.”



Looking over at the Shaolin masters and elders who had taken up stations at the command consoles Aaron became grim faced, “The scouts are only going to find a third of those we plan to rescue readily.  So it will be up to the Shaolin to find the rest, and it is going to cause some pain but the Shaolin will need to scan the minds of the youngsters as they come across them, to assure us that we find all of them.”



Glancing over at Donny who was standing next to Ru with their bonded Aaron smiled.  “The Beastmasters’ first assignment, Donny,”  Seeing the nervous grin on their faces he chuckled, “Your teams will have to plan to be fluid, taking direction as the Shaolin call on you to help search out those in hiding.  Tell your clan to think of this as a practice search and rescue run for the real thing.”



Moving over to the center desk Aaron placed his hand on the scanner after unlocking the voice system, bathed in a bright light as the scanner activated he looked up, “Activate…All Stations…Activate Plan Delta Omega…Pass code…Phoenix Rebirth.”



The room plunged into the deep blue of battle stations, red lights started to strobe over each door as the Core unlocked protocols and the station came to life and the left wall split into seventy screens showing duplicates of the command center they were standing in, the counterpart of this room on all seventy step off stations. They all showed the same thing; the room plunged into a deep blue with red lights flashing over the doors.



“DELTA OMEGA…AUTHORIZED…” boomed down the corridors.



Fred hugged Aaron one more time before moving to the door along with most of the Clan, they had duties to perform on the other stations and needed to get there before the rescued teens and youngsters arrived.



“PHOENIX PROTOCOLS NOW ACTIVE…” boomed over the station speakers as the Core on Earth Linked up with the Core on Centauri.



Aaron looked down and let his breath out slowly before looking up in determination as he said the word to activate part of the bug out plan, “Deploy…”