Chapter 81




Pat sat, well, the thought of floating with one’s legs under them could be called sitting.  He was in the observation lounge on Luyten Station staring at the Ort cloud reflecting off the sun as he thought about what he wanted to do with his life.  He had graduated with high honors, yet it seemed that all his lovers had planned their lives out and found their niche; he was still searching for what he wanted to do with his life it seemed.



So much had changed with his forced puberty and the early breakthrough of his gifts; he had thought he had several more years before he had to worry about what to do with his life.  Sighing, he plopped his elbows on top of his knees and leaned his chin against his closed fists as he stared out of the clear wall looking for answers.  Fifteen minutes later another sigh escaped his lips as no answers were miraculously forthcoming.  Maybe he was going about this the wrong way he thought as he sat back up and glanced down at the yellow green planet below him, a planet that for some strange reason was not part of the colonization list yet it was part of the Empire.



Aaron had just finished walking through the med bay of Luyten Station.  Reaching out with his mind, as he stretched his body, to see if anyone was around he was slightly surprised to feel Pat close by.  Feeling the strength of the contact he was very close by.  Searching actively he found him up on the observation dome.  Porting to the dome he floundered for a moment as he arrived in zero gravity, “What the…”



Using kinetics to pull Pat closer to him he wrapped his arms around his lover and hugged him tight, content to let him speak first if that is what he needed.



“The way the Ort cloud shimmers in the light is peaceful,” Pat leaned back into Aaron’s chest without turning around.  “I have no clue on what I want to do with my life; nothing has jumped out saying I should take charge of it.”  Shaking his head as he felt Aaron’s chest rise to respond he smiled out into the void, “I know deep down that I don’t have to do anything, all of you will love me the same… it’s just the feeling that something is missing, as if I should be doing something and I am not.”



Placing his chin on Pat’s head Aaron gazed out of the observation bubble at the stream of reflected light, “I think your feelings of missing something might have to do with being aged four years in the matter of a couple of weeks, it threw your whole body off balance.  If you had entered puberty normally you would have had a chance to get used to the hormonal fluctuations before the surge starting to hit you, but with the rapid aging your brain developed a different mindset.  When you are young you think things through differently, while you might arrive at the same point the way your brain takes to get there is different.”



“And your right, we would never find fault if you never studied another thing, or took up some project to help our people.  We love you dearly and that is enough for us,” Aaron kissed the top of his head.  “I know you have been floating around between the different teams helping out here and there, plus you’ve been doing some general studying.  I’ve not bothered to look into what you are studying but I know you hit the tutor about an hour a day, which tells me you’re hunting for something, and I have been content to let you come to me or go it alone.”



Adjusting his crotch so he was no longer bending the wrong way, Aaron kissed the side of Pat’s neck, “All I can do is to keep exposing you to new experiences, though it might be years before feel something fits and you said it yourself.  You do not have to ever take charge for us to love you, all you have to do is be happy with who you are and I’ll be content.”



“So, should we join the zero G club?” Pat giggled as he felt the hardness digging into his back before asking, “How did you find me anyway?”



“By accident, really.  This was the last station with the Russian teens and youngsters we rescued.  I’ve spent the better part of the past day going over the scans and treatment plans since the Omega cycle had been activated,” Aaron sighed.



Twisting his head up in shock, Pat looked at Aaron, “That is over two hundred thousand people!  Are you telling me you checked up on every single one of them?”  Seeing the slow nod he twisted around so he was face to face with his lover, “Why?”



“I could have left it to my healers, but I had to know.”  Aaron turned and looked out at the tail of the ort cloud.  “I had to know I did the right thing.  I hate the fact I reprogrammed their brains; it is not the same as just altering youngsters before they hit puberty as their sexuality has not become part of their identity yet.”  Sighing as he looked back at Pat who was staring at him, “I know most of you don’t understand why it gives me the creeps like it does, in a sense forced alterations on those we rescue that have not yet hit puberty is okay in my mind as I’m not messing with their minds that much… it is hard to explain; the power that the reprogramming gives me scares the living daylights out of me.  It is way too easy for me to abuse, or use it to fix all the problems I come across.  The more I use it the easier it gets.”



“And how many of those the Core is reprogramming agreed to it?” Pat thought back to the youngsters and teens they had captured from the Army of God group.  “I can see how this is different.  When we captured the kids from the parents of those belonging to the Army of God it was a different situation, more clear cut.  As far as we knew we needed to reprogram the kids so we did not have to end up killing them.  In fact, from what I read about in the 1.0 histories, they came up with the process for that very situation.”



“You’re right in that the Core links to the bio-tube and gives the person the choice before reprogramming them.  Aaron looked at the deck plates under their floating bodies.  “Sixty nine percent of them jumped at the chance to become one of us and welcomed the reprogramming.  Even the females are being reprogrammed, though they cannot be altered.  It is surprising that they jumped at the chance even knowing they would end up on one of the colony worlds.”



“Do you think they are stupid?”  Pat looked at Aaron incredulously, “They were given the chance to be something, to be better than they were and actually have something to look forward to for a change after they are healed.  Of course they were going to jump at the chance, no matter what was involved.  At least with us they don’t have to sell their bodies for food or a safe place to sleep, and from what I found out from researching in the Core they are even being educated while they are being healed.  I think that is where Richard got the idea of building his teacher from.”



Kissing Aaron gently, Pat looked into his eyes, “Don’t forget that once they are released most of them will be trained in whatever skill they picked during the assessment and we will set them up once they move to one of the colony worlds, so it’s not like we are making them fend for themselves.  The other thirty one percent that did not jump at the chance willingly; how many of them are you altering?”



“Only those that have four clusters or more.”  Aaron chuckled, “We have more than enough people that I decided if they were not flexible enough to want what we could give them I would treat them like the females and just heal them and retrain their minds.  I would prefer we only altered willing volunteers.”



“See, that just proves my point,” Pat smirked.  “You are not forcing anyone to be like us, you are just forcing them to change to be something better, so that they will have a better life in the long run.  It’s what any parent would do for their child and once they do all they can it is time for the child to take it from there and run with what they were given, if they don’t it is not your fault.”



Laughing Aaron kissed Pat, “Well, you’re mostly right.  I still implanted certain behaviors and commands in all of those that are not being altered, and they will never go back to doing drugs and stealing to live, or support their habit after being released.  How did you end up knowing about the Omega procedure?  How much time have you been spending in the Core talking to Corry anyway?”



“I spend a lot of time down there actually,” Pat smiled.  “I find hearing about the history of those that made it possible for all of us to be what we are today so fascinating and inspiring…”



Aaron grinned as Pat became animated and then trailed off in surprise, “I see you’ve found out something then.” Chuckling at the dazed expression on Pat’s face he kissed him, “I think you’ve found your niche; there are so many things the previous versions did to prepare and make life easier for us that I’ve not had a chance to dig out the information from the Core yet.  It is one thing to know that they built this or did that for us, but without knowing why they did it, it would be like the planet killer they built and I locked down.  I almost ordered the thing dropped into the sun I was so appalled that the thing was built.  Now, after months of getting used to the idea and the information of why they built it… well, I programmed certain simulators in the new academy so our crews would be able to use it at a moment’s notice if it became necessary.  That is the same reason I removed the ban on dimensional travel now that we have the means to protect ourselves from another race like the Scree.  Well, the things we can do by careful harvesting of plant and animals from a universe that never developed intelligent life to repopulate Earth and other worlds is too important to just ignore any longer.”



“Really,” Pat grinned.  “You’ve rescinded the edict of dimensional searching and harvesting?’



Nodding, Aaron reached down and played with Pat for a moment, bringing him to full hardness.  “Yes, I have, under certain circumstances.  I set the Core to searching the dimensions the previous versions went through in the off-chance some more of them escaped into another dimension and need to be rescued.”  Kissing Pat while tugging on his lips with his teeth to gain entrance he whispered, “Now, about this idea of joining the zero G club,” he got out as he pulled Pat over top of him so he could better reach all of his lover’s body.



Aaron had just slipped inside of Pat and started to thrust in and out while trying to keep the two of them from being pushed apart when he heard a surprised noise over Pat’s moans of pleasure.  Tilting his head he spotted Fred and grinned as he watched his body react to the vision of two of his lovers engaged in wonderful love making.  Come to join us, Love?” Aaron sent as he split his attention briefly before doing his best to drive Pat wild as he touched all the right places to give him the most pleasure.



It did not take much of an invite for Fred to move over to join in.  He slowly pushed off the floor and floated across the space, gently grabbing onto Aaron’s thigh stopping his forward movement and he twirled himself around skillfully until he was face to crotch with Pat and engulfed the almost purple head of his lover greedily.





Andrew was in a hurry, yet he did not want to start a panic so he nodded and waved as he appeared on the gestalt bridge of each of the three stations he ported through on his way back to Centauri Station.  Reaching the bridge of Centauri Station Andrew waved one more time and ported himself over to Pete’s moon base.  Walking swiftly past the UBER GEEKS sign Andrew gazed around looking for Pete.  Not seeing him near the work area or the control console he closed his eyes briefly and thought about him, reaching like Aaron taught them and found his mind in one of the side rooms on the other side of the control bay.  Carefully making his way around the edge of the room, being careful not to touch anything, Andrew stopped when he spotted the strangest thing out of the corner of his eye.  Staring briefly into the side room he gaped for a moment before backing out slowly eyes wide in shock.  Blinking back the horror and shock of what he was seeing, he decided he needed to forget what he saw for his own sanity.  Finally approaching the doorway he had felt his lover in he called out, “Pete, are you in there?  Is it safe for me to come in?…I need to talk to you.”



Popping his head out of the door with a grin on his face, “Looking for mild mannered little ol’ me,” Pete laughed at Andrew’s expression.  “Actually I’m surprised you made it past my ‘don’t bother me’ trap.  Most people look into the open doorway at the hologram and run away gibbering in terror.”



“Yes…  Well I stopped long enough to make an appointment for you to see Colin.  After all anyone disturbed enough to create something like that needs help,” Andrew grinned as he threw back the challenge.  Then he became serious as he looked over his shoulder before walking into Pete’s lab, “We have a problem, or the potential to be a major problem, on the same level of the Scree.”



Pete ignored the sound of his remote slipping from his fingers to bounce and clatter on the floor as he stared at Andrew in horror, finally finding his voice, “Explain just what you mean by that?”



“Anton came to me to ask about rebuilding the Mizhine home world and let it slip the reason the Mizhine disappeared was they were attacked by a race they called the Reptoids.”  Finding a chair off to one side Andrew sat down as he stared at Pete, “What it comes down to is the Reptoids ate the Mizhine out of existence.  And when I say they ate them out of existence I do mean that literally; the preferred method was their victims to be still alive during dining.”  Gulping at the nausea he was feeling Andrew looked over at the strange apparatus briefly before looking back at Pete who was pale and shaking.  “I ordered the fleet to mobilize and told them to secure the Mizhine system.  Once that is done they will start tracing back the Mizhine colony worlds checking for survivors and traces of the Reptoids.  I might have overstepped myself but I judged the Reptoids without meeting them and told Joe that their DNA shall be removed from the universe.”



Sitting down hard on the floor of his lab Pete shook his head.  This nightmare could not be happening. After all they had gone through and accomplished this had to pop up and rear its ugly head.  “I think we need to have a Clan meeting, and we need to do it now.”  Closing his eyes and reaching for his lovers he called out, “Everyone, please make your way back to the Clan compound.  We have a slight problem we need to figure out what to do.”  Standing up as he felt the responses from his lovers, Pete pulled Andrew from the chair and led him out the door, “We need to move to the central command center to be able to port out of here.”



Curious about the summons Aaron walked into the compound, arms around both Fred and Pat, following Titus who was also moving around the dining hall.  Stopping at the top of the recreation pit he let his eyes gaze across his Lovers, silently counting heads he saw everyone was here.  Letting go of Pat and Fred, Aaron went to the chair near the base of the plasmas that looked like it had been set aside for his use.  “Pete, you sounded and felt disturbed when you called for us to meet, what’s wrong?”



“It has to do with the Mizhine and the reason they are gone.”  Pete started off by pulling Andrew up from his seat so he was standing next to him.  “The story begins with Anton, the captain of the Galactica coming to Andrew to ask something; from there it gets ugly.”



Glaring at Pete for the introduction Andrew sighed as he ran his hand through his hair as he gathered his thoughts.  “If this wasn’t so serious I would declare you bottom after spanking your arse.”  Frowning at Pete who looked ashamed he glanced back at Aaron, “The story begins with Anton thinking I knew what they had found in the Mizhine archives, which I did not.  The Mizhine as a race started colonizing worlds about seven hundred years ago roughly, then…”  Pulling his P.A.D.D. out he checked the data he had downloaded, “After they established their fifteenth colony world they met a race that attacked them.  The race utterly destroyed every man, woman and child on the colony world, and when one of the colony transports showed up with the next load of colonists to their horror they found this reptilian race feasting on the colonists that they had come to join.”



“After a running battle the colony ship escaped and the war started, a war that went on for four hundred and some odd years.” Looking at Aaron who had gone emotionless at the word feasting he continued slowly, “The drug that was dusted on the Mizhine home world was designed by the Reptoids, as the Mizhine called them, as a way to knock them out so they could be harvested; harvested so they could be eaten.”  Slipping his P.A.D.D. back into its pouch Andrew stared for a moment, “In the name of the Clan I mobilized the fleet.  Right now half of all of our star ships are securing the Mizhine system, and from there they are entrenching the system with all of our best protections, the most lethal of them to be built first.  The drug is being removed from the planets dying ecosystem by a wing of Derrick’s RS ships.  Anton had originally asked me about bringing the planet back to life for when we eventually found the Mizhine survivors and I started that before the other information set in.”


Still no reaction from Aaron he continued, more nervous now.  “I, in a sense, overstepped my bounds slightly as I told Joe I was standing in judgment of the Reptoid race and they were to be removed from the universe’s gene pool…  I told him any race that feasted on other living intelligent species was to be destroyed…  I then ported to Pete to tell him about what I had done and to ask him to get a hold of all of you so I could tell you what I had done so far.  The military command teams will be showing up at the compound later this afternoon after they have a chance to plan their response.”



Moving back to his seat he looked at the floor, “I also told Joe to send some of the scouts out towards the Mizhine colony worlds so we could check for survivors and maybe try to find out more information about the Reptoids.”



“So that was the race that caused the original seeders to send out their ships full of carnivorous plants,” Kevin mused loudly and shrugged when everyone stared at him.  “What?  I planned to tell everyone tonight about what I found.”



“Are you saying the plant we are eradicating was designed to be the solution to the menace of the Mizhine’s killers?”  Richard glanced around to see all the serious faces.



“I can only guess,” Kevin looked over at Aaron.  “The plant was designed to remove every bit of animal life it came across.  The thing is, it is violent when it comes to reptiles.  If we could get a sample of the DNA of these Reptoids we would know for sure…  But I think it’s a good guess that the race that designed and created the seed ships probably came across the Reptoids at one time and this was their answer.”  Lowering his voice he glanced at the floor, “I do know the race that sent out the seed ships is long gone.  They died long ago and the computers they created are the ones still carrying out the final orders before their masters all died off.  I sent Shane and his ship off to the coordinates of the Seeders’ home world to see if we could find any records of what happened for sure.  I also wanted to stop anymore ships being built.  He left this morning right after breakfast; I would think it was before Andrew activated the fleet to action stations.”



Aaron closed his eyes as he got his emotions under control.  If he had not spent all that time months ago dealing with his previous version’s memories he would be having more problems right now.  “The question comes in how long ago did the race you are calling the ‘Seeders’ create this bio-weapon, or did they just alter something they were already using to terraform planets.  We know this system was prepared for us by the version 1.0 crew sending the remotes and Core back almost a thousand years, and the planet had no animal life on it then.  In fact, it had been empty long enough that no fossil remains could be found in the previous timeline.”  Groaning he shook his head, “Talking about time travel really fucks with your mind.”



“So, on the one hand we have Shane taking the Atlas in search of the original home world of the Seeders, and then we have half the fleet barricading the Mizhine system and the two could be and most likely are related.”  Aaron frowned as he glanced over at the console in thought.  “You did not overstep your bounds, Andrew.”  He had felt Andrew’s nervousness and let him know he was more than okay with what he did.  Shaking his head as he decided there was nothing to decide yet he looked back at his Lovers, “There really is nothing we can do until we have more information, though go ahead and start bringing Mizhine back to life.  Rolph, have you found out anything about the hidden moon base yet?”



“I was about to go down and explore when Pete called.  The Marine scouts are waiting for me to give the word to enter.”  Rolph had listened to the report and with what he had found out he thought he had a pretty good picture of what happened in the final hours of the Mizhine war.  “If my guess is correct the only thing the base will give us is the location of the cryogenic facility.  The Mizhine knew their home system had been found out and they would not have considered keeping it in the system.  If I had to guess I would think they did something like place it in hyperspace off of a beac…”  Turning to look at Pete, “Pete, did you examine any of the debris that we found in the system?”



Shaking his head, “No I didn’t, never gave it a thought really.  Why?” Pete wondered what Rolph was thinking as he jumped up to stare at the plasma that Rolph was pointing to.



“Because I had to wonder if some of that debris… well, most of it really, is not from warships like was first thought but from a huge jump gate.  Some of the components remind me of what I saw in your lab.”  Rolph had moved over so he was next to Pete as he pointed out the sections he was questioning.



Mind racing, Pete stared at the screen, “But if they destroyed the jump gate it would have destabilized every single jump gate in this sector, it would have taken down and destroyed every jump gate they had built or linked to.  That is the main reason why I don’t like jump gate technology, the other being travel is to slow.”  Pointing to the fragment near one of his scouts his eyes narrowed in concentration, “If that piece is to scale, then the gate was massive… what the hell would they need with something that large?  Hell, when the thing went up it probably took out every ship in the system…  OH!”  Rushing over to the console Pete’s hands flew across the terminal as he brought up scans and programmed the Core to run a scenario.



Everyone sat there as the simulation played back on the plasma.  It showed the gate blowing and devastating the planet, in fact the list of damage to the environment started to scroll with the blinking word ‘Confirmed’ at the end.



Aaron watched the devastation wave hit the planet and destroy almost all life as the shockwave barreled through the atmosphere, “So now we know the Reptoids did not kill the planet off.”  Gazing at the second screen, that was once more replaying the devastation shock wave pulverizing all ships in orbit, “At least they took them with them when they went; the question is…  Why?”



“To keep the Reptoids from following the cryogenics lifeboat,” Rolph moved over so he could enter his own information and pointed to the blinking ghost on the plasma.  “The only reason they would need to have a jump gate that large, and the only thing I can think of that fits the facts that were bothering me.”  Facing Aaron he looked awe struck as he told them, “The sixth moon of the seventh planet is missing, and I think it was not destroyed in the war like Anton thought, I think it went through the jump gate before it was blown up.”



Rubbing his face with his hands Aaron had to agree that his Lovers took some interesting conclusions from facts most people would overlook, the thing was almost always they were right.  “Pete, Kevin, I want you and Rolph to go back to Mizhine and comb that base for every hint of information you can get.  If Rolph is right, and I don’t see why he wouldn’t be, there is the biggest life boat in the universe out there waiting for us to find it.”



Staring at Andrew as he considered it, “Andrew, go ahead and rebuild the Mizhine home world.  Get whoever you need to start working on it, give priority to our academy students working on their thesis papers.  Then take three of scouts, make sure they are crewed by Shaolin, I’m placing the whole mission under clan seal… you are authorized for dimensional harvesting of plant and animal life to use to restock Mizhine.  Check the Core for dimensional coordinates of uninhabited versions to harvest from, but make sure only clan members are on those ships.  Once you’ve filled the buffers you can spot plant sections that Brian and Mark will have prepared for your return.”



“If you can wait about four hours I can install some extra buffers, the ones I designed for the med bays,” Richard smiled when Aaron nodded in agreement.



“There are four new scouts that just came off the line, you can use those,” Pete waved as he came back out of his bedroom fully dressed in his battle armor.  Seeing several questioning looks he shrugged, “None of us are going to take any chances when we enter that base for the first time.”



Sending his love and pride towards them when Rolph and Kevin met up with Pete dressed in their battle gear, Aaron grinned at Rolph’s uncomfortable look before turning serious.  “Be safe and don’t take chances.”  Eyes fixed on each of them he did not blink until they each nodded back, “Andrew, Richard needs four hours to prepare your ships, that should give you enough time to get your crews together and get the coordinates from the Core.  No matter what, I want all of you back by supper time.”  Getting a quick nod he waited until the five of them had left before looking back at the rest of his Lovers, “Kenny, were you able to get your egg layers?”



Kenny stared at Aaron in shock, “How???”



Chuckling, Aaron winked, “A little birdie told me.”  After getting control of his laughter at the comical expression on Kenny’s face he snorted in amusement, “What?  You don’t think I check the system anytime all of you have a meeting and decide to post it.  The minute you posted it to the system my P.A.D.D. beeped and I watched to find out what was going on, and I have to say it made me proud to be your Lover when I watched all of you take command like that to ensure that everything was in place before we released the rescued. David and Derrick got involved by building housing for all of them; the sheer number of RS ships appearing was noticeable as they started building.”



“After lunch we can pick them up; by then the money transfer will have gone through and we can have them placed in the buffers for transport,” Kenny glanced over at Doug before staring at Aaron. “We were actually on our way to the mall when Pete called.”



“Well, I think I am just going to stay here for now, maybe go soak for a little bit and think.”  Aaron grinned, “There’s not much we, or I, can do until later so you might as well get back to what you had planned to do today.”  Glancing at the corner of the dining hall he heard the sound of running feet, the youngsters must be finished with their tutor session he thought as he grinned as the loud yells of ‘Sator is home’ rang around the room after he was spotted.





Pete kissed Rolph as he looked at Kevin, “Well, standing out here is not getting us any answers.”



Kevin nodded towards the Marine Captain, “Take you scouts in, Captain; we are going to be five seconds behind you.”  Smirking at the panicked look on the Marine’s face Kevin activated the airlock opening the door into the base.  Stepping to one side, he grinned at the thoughts uppermost in the minds of the Marines that rushed past them.  Motioning for Pete and Rolph to enter first, Kevin looked around at the small room they entered, “Can you read the writing on the walls, Rolph?”



Moving closer Rolph stared at the wall as he read from right to left and bottom up; for some reason the Mizhine warriors started in the lower right hand corner and moved to the left and up, very strange to his way of thinking.  Paling slightly he broadcast loudly, “Everyone, stop and don’t move!!!”



Moving to the wall he pressed several symbols and was rewarded as the letters lit up.  Sighing in relief he turned to Kevin while pathing, “The corridors are a trap, the only access to the information we want is behind this wall.  Everything else was set up as a trap in case the Reptoids made it into the base; all the doors and rooms are death traps.  Everyone needs to port back to the airlock right now.”



Sighing in relief as the Marine team suddenly appeared behind them Pete counted heads, “Everyone is accounted for.  Now, how do we get into this room?”



Studying the wall for another tense minute, Rolph smiled as he quickly spelled out the names of the three casts, causing the letters to glow bright red.  Once the letters were glowing he stared at the wall once more and grinned as he then spelled out the three aspects of sexuality from the glowing red letters causing them to turn blue.  Once he had finished he stepped back as grinding came from the wall and the section with all the strange writing on it slid down into the floor.



Peaking inside Rolph checked for any hidden traps or messages.  “It’s all clear, no other warnings.”  Pointing at the chair-less station in the center of the room, “I do believe that is the terminal we are looking for.”



Walking carefully into the room Pete kept hold of Rolph so once he stopped in front of the console and looked down he had someone to translate for him, “Okay, this is really your show since you took the time to learn the language, what do we need to do first?”



Feeling Kevin touch his shoulder in encouragement Rolph glanced around the console controls before touching several crystals in sequence.  The console lit up and the front wall ghosted as an image flickered into existence and started to speak.  He quickly linked his mind with Pete and Kevin’s so they would understand what he was hearing.



The council has decreed that, once the future of our people has made its way through the jump gate, we will set the self destruct mechanism we built into all of our jump gates to trigger once the majority of the Reptoid fleet enters Mizhine space.

We have left this place as a point to recall the key that will lead you to the race vault that houses all of our children in a state of extended sleep, only one of our race, or those that come after our time but understand our ways, may activate the recall key.


Only one who has the head to cross casts and break the staff shall be able to key the recall and bring our children home.  If our temples and fields are no more we lay this task at your feet, protect the vault at all costs as the present have done all they can to ensure the past and future live on.



Pete glanced at Kevin and groaned sarcastically, “That was ever so helpful.”  Shaking his head he looked at Rolph, “Not like it was helpful at all, being so cryptic and full of circular garbage.”



Sighing, Kevin had to agree with Pete, yet as he watched Rolph who was frowning he felt the excitement start to rise from his newest lover.  “Somehow I have the feeling you are not as lost by that little message as the rest of us.”



“It is a riddle that if one truly understands their society makes it easy to activate the call,” Rolph stared at the console before looking up.  “The question I have though is, should I activate the recall key… and what the hell is a recall key?”





Seeing that they were done for now, Andrew hugged the youngsters telling them he would see them at supper time before porting to the Shaolin compound.  Once there he made his way to the central office area the Elder Masters had taken as their own.  The office was bustling with activity; the emotions of those rushing around were best described as joyous ones, as if they were happy to finally be doing what they wanted to do for years.  Spotting Master Sung off to one side Andrew quietly made his way over, and catching the elder’s attention he motioned for him to join him in the corner out of the way.  “Master Sung, is there somewhere we can go where our conversation will only be overheard by the Shaolin of Clan Shaolin?  What I am here for will end up being clan sealed.”



Looking up in shock Master Sung motioned to be followed.  Maneuvering his way through the crowd he lifted the fabric curtain over the doorway and tapped the small bell causing it to ring out as he led the Young Dragon into the conference room.  Waving his hand at the seat at the head of the table he bowed slightly, “Please be seated while the Shaolin of Clan Shaolin gather to hear the words of the Young Dragon.”



Sitting in the offered chair at the head of the table Andrew looked around as Master Sung took his seat and the other masters filtered in.  After several minutes where he was lost in thought he was startled as one of the Shaolin cleared his throat.  “Thank you for taking time out of your day to come here,” Andrew started as he looked around the table, “On the orders of Aaron Stranton, Prime of Clan Stranton, what is heard here, and the mission that will be discussed and acted upon, is to be clan sealed.”  Giving them a moment to consider his words he started to explain once they all were paying attention again.  “Shortly, Aaron will release the news of what we found in the Mizhine home system to the Core for viewing, and what we plan to do there.  But for now, what I need is enough Shaolin to crew three brand new specially modified scouts. These scouts will be going on a harvesting mission into another dimension so we can rebuild the Mizhine home world; Aaron has rescinded the order for dimensional travel.”  Tapping several commands into the built in terminal Andrew posted a notice to the system about the project to rebuild Mizhine.  All those that wanted to volunteer on the project needed to show up tomorrow at Mizhine Station so they could get started. “I get to head the first mission to another dimension so we can bring back plant stocks to start the reseeding of Mizhine.  Later on, once we know the plants have taken hold and stabilized, we will harvest some of the animal species native to that world.”



Master Wi who was closest to Andrew read the notice as it was being typed out, “I see.  You plan to bring the dying world back to life.  May one ask if it is because the Great One plans to bring back the Mizhine race at some future point?”



Startled, Andrew stared at Master Wi for several long moments, “One of the things the Mizhine did before their system was invaded by a race they called the Reptoids was to turn one of the moons of one of their outer planets into a life boat, with the children and I assume young adults placed in cryogenic sleep.  They then sent the moon through the largest jump gate I think I have ever heard of being built.  Pete along with Rolph and Kevin are tracking down that life boat right now.  Aaron thought it would be a nice gesture to rebuild their world for them, so once we rescue them they have a home to go to.”



Nodding his understanding Master Lian smiled, “We understand, Young Dragon; after all, one does not let a youngster flounder on their own when we can help them.”



“True,” Andrew grinned.  “From what Aaron told us, and the little bit I looked at from the dimensional mining that Pete did awhile back, the Mizhine will be very close to our people.  For some odd reason we can interbreed with them, if that is our wish.  And they truly honor and cherish any children, even if they are gay.  Aaron told us that out of all the races we might meet he would be willing to trust the Mizhine fully as our equals.”



“A great honor he bestows on the Mizhine people,” Master Sung bowed slightly.  “And no greater endorsement is needed.  I shall pick out the crews carefully, while we all will take turns leading the scouts.  When do you wish the crews to show up?”



“Three hours from now,” Andrew stood up.  “Our first run to another dimension shall have only an hour and a half to harvest the basics like algae for the waterways and simple plant life and bacteria.  It will be on the future trips we start to gather up the more complex plants needed to stabilize the planet.”  Smiling in anticipation, Andrew nodded to the group, “I can’t wait actually to go through the dimensional gate and start rebuilding Mizhine.  Just think of all the species we can reintroduce back on Earth.  We’ll just have to make sure no one knows where we are getting our stock from, as far as the rest of the universe goes we are the masters of creation genetics and, well, leave it at that.”



“Indeed, the mission is very exciting.  It will be a joy to be part of bringing a planet back to life,” Master Sung stood and bowed slightly.  “We will see you in three hours at the scout base, Young Dragon.”



Once outside the conference room Andrew was startled as several Shaolin teens gathered around waiting for him, Isolinear chips extended with grins on their faces.  “Young Dragon, we noticed the call for help rebuilding a planet placed on the system and we request you consider us for your team.  Our background information and qualifications are on these chips for your consideration.”  They practically oozed their eagerness when Andrew took the chips.



Tilting his head Andrew controlled the urge to groan, “You could have just emailed me, you know.”  Grinning he pocketed the chips, “Meet me at Mizhine Station tomorrow morning around ten, I’ll be using Aaron’s conference room… on second thought, I better use the situation room at the end of the hall so I’ll meet you there.”  Smiling as the teens congratulated each other, he ported to the moon base so he could meet with Richard to find out just what these new scouts could do.



Walking down the hallway towards the construction docks Andrew smiled as he heard Richard and his brother talking.  Edward was excitingly chattering about the concept design some of the different business and military designers had shown him.  Stopping in the doorway he gazed at the two with a smile on his face for several moments, long enough for Edward to wind down on some of his descriptions.  “You know,” he giggled as they jumped around as he interrupted him, “By my watch we have at least two hours before anyone shows up, long enough that we can have a good shag or four to pass the time.”



“As much as I would love to do that, Love, we’ve been talking and, if we are lucky, we have enough time for a good long snog before we have to go through the new designs of the scouts, and Aaron gets here to unlock the dimensional gateway.”  Edward smiled shyly, “Tell you what though, we’ll definitely make it up to you as soon as you get back tonight, right after supper in fact.”



Andrew glanced down at his half hard member and sighed before grinning, “I’ll hold you to that… later then.”  Moving closer to the two Andrew looked out the clear wall at the three scouts floating in their docking cradles, they were slightly different looking.  “So, what is different in these scouts besides the color, that is?”



Slotting a chip home in his P.A.D.D. Richard glanced down at the screen, “Well actually, once the remotes finish putting the new buffers online those three ships are nothing more than one large transporter buffer.  Each can hold the same amount of buffered plants and animals as twelve of Xon’s transport scouts.  According to Pete’s notes he designed these to be the ultimate transport for the colony planets to free up our people for explorations duties.”  Looking up from the P.A.D.D. Richard stared at the scouts, taking in the information he had read.  “The only downside is those three scouts have no weapons.  I definitely don’t like the idea of you going to another dimension in ships that have no weapons.”



“I have a simple solution for that,” Xon strode into the room and kissed each of his lovers.  “I, and my command ship, shall be going with you to provide protection in case we encounter obstacles.”



Andrew craned his neck so he could look out the wall towards the lane that led to the outside, “How in the world are you going to get one of the command ships through the main lane into the moon base.  I thought the opening was too small?”



“It is,” Xon hugged Andrew close.  “The dimensional gate is not located inside the moon base, if it was the planet destroyer would not be able to enter or leave its docking area.  Aaron will have to give us the coordinates of where we need to move our ships to.  Logically one would assume the previous versions, when they set up the docking bay for that ship, would have taken in account that the gate needed to be accessed by more than one ship and planned accordingly.”





Aaron kissed Foma as the water ran down their bodies one last time before touching the drying cycle.  Once dry he grinned as Foma smiled at him, “With David and Derrick taking the youngsters with them, what are you going to do with a free afternoon?”



“I get more free time to work on my projects than you think; after all, I spend my morning while the youngsters are on the tutor working on my own degree, plus there are enough of us so that they spend their afternoons with one of us in turns as we go about our chores.  They really like going fishing with Ivan and Igor on the new pleasure boats.  The real question is, when are you going to let them spend the afternoon following you around?”  Foma kissed Aaron as they left the bathroom, “And my afternoon is already planned, this afternoon I will be going back to Russia to visit friends.”



“It will have to be a day when I am not working the med bay, that is where I spend most of my afternoons,” Aaron smiled.  Being able to get his hands back into the work he really wanted to do helped with his stress levels, plus training the next generation of healers was fun.  “One day next week I’ll switch so I spend the morning at the med bay and the afternoon at the office, that way they can come to work with me.”



“They’ll love that, you know.  They like to spend as much time with their Sator as they can, even if you do spend all evening with them until bedtime.”  Foma kissed Aaron one last time after getting dressed, “We both need to get a move on, I’ll see you later, Shoji planned something different for supper tonight.”  Stopping at the doorway, “Do you know why Ichiro has locked himself up in his studio?  The youngsters miss him being around to help with their snacks.”



Nodding with a smile on his face Aaron finished fastening his thigh pouch before looking up, “It should only be for a couple more days.  He was inspired by something he saw on the training world and has been busy painting.  He’ll show us when it is ready.”



Nodding as he looked over at the door leading to Ichiro’s rooms, Foma waved one last time before porting away.



Aaron, ready now, ported down to the Core chamber and started up the stairs.  As he hit the third step he was thankful the Jeeves program had been killed.  Laying down on the recliner he closed his eyes for a moment, “Identify.”



After the standard DNA scan the Core’s voice echoed, “Identity confirmed… Aaron Stranton, Prime of Clan Stranton…  King of the Empire of Altair.”



“Corry, please unlock the seals on the dimensional gateway.”  Aaron stared at the plasma that came to life with his order.  So that is where the gate is, Aaron thought, as dust started to cloud up into space around the eighth planet.  “Please give me the waveform coordinates for Mizhine in the unpopulated universe.”



“Waveform Key being created,” Corry echoed across the platform as the console under the plasma lit up, “Waveform coordinates 0.00345 by negative 0.0.0154… the key has been created.”



Getting up from the recliner Aaron went over and picked up the strange looking Isolinear chip.  It was key shaped and had an obvious section that had to be twisted in place to cause the leads to engage, very strange he thought.  “Corry…” Aaron trailed off as he thought once more about the Mizhine, and if he was doing the right thing crossing dimensions to rebuild their home world.  Holding the key in his hand he went back to the recliner and sat down as he went over in his mind once more the history of the Mizhine.  They celebrated gay people as a needed third sex for procreation in their world.  That was the main reason he was so interested in bringing them back, plus he knew from researching the chronicles that the Core had downloaded during Pete’s dimensional search that they were an honorable people that would be their closest allies.  He just had a very irrational fear of dimensional travel.  Closing his eyes he searched his mind; it had to be a leftover imprint from version 1.0 that was causing it and he was determined to find and eradicate it.



An hour later Aaron opened his eyes still no wiser on the cause of his fear or its solution, “Corry… Initiate environmental system activation on the dimensional gateway bridge.”  Grasping the key tightly, he waited until he heard the Core state that the bridge was habitable before porting out towards Pete’s playroom on the moon base.



Glancing around as he strode down the corridor he smiled as he walked into the ready room at the tail end of Andrew’s explanation to the Shaolin crew assembled.  Moving next to his lovers he added a comment at the end of Andrew’s, “Once your ship has passed through the gateway you will be in a duplicate to this system with one difference, Middle Earth will be very different from what you are used to seeing so don’t be shocked.”  Tapping a command on the podium’s terminal he pointed to the eighth planet, “The dimensional gate is built into the surface of the eighth planet.  Once on the other side you need to be very sure you mark the location of the displacement phenomena, so you know how to make your way home.  Once through the gateway I expect your ships to make their way home two and a half hours from now at the latest.”



Staring at the assembled group, including Xon standing on front of his ship’s crew, Aaron looked curiously at them before shrugging it off; evidently Andrew decided to make sure he had protection, which he thought showed foresight.  Smiling he nodded at each of the crewmembers in turn, “Alrighty.   Andrew, assemble your crews, you leave in ten minutes.  I’ll engage the gate and let you know as soon as you can safely pass through.”  Kissing Andrew before moving over to Xon he whispered to both of them, “Stay safe.”



Looking at the monitor and the image of the control bridge Aaron ported to the gateway bridge.  Looking around he noticed the command console on the far wall.  Running his fingers over the key he hesitated before moving over to the console, looking for the slot that would fit the strange chip.  Finding it on the wall, not the console, he lined it up and pushed it home before turning it which locked it in place as the console lit up and went through its diagnostic routine and the coordinates scrolled across the screen.  Twisting his head to look at the three scouts along with Xon’s command ship floating in space as if waiting patiently, he turned back to the command console and activated the gate, eyes glued to the readout.



After several tense moments the gateway activated and an image formed on the plasma in front of him.  Aaron sent one of the SE110s through the gate and rotated it once it was above the planet.  Sighing, he could not hold it off any longer and he still did not know why he was having so many reservations about the whole thing, he activated the pickup.  “Andrew, you and your fleet are clear for entry and dimensional travel… be safe, Love, and come home to us… all of you.”



Smiling at Aaron who was worried, Andrew nodded, “I will, and since Xon will be shadowing me he will be sure to bring us home.”



Xon stared at Aaron on the plasma, “This worry is unlike you, do you have information we are lacking?”



Shaking his head Aaron sighed, “I’m worried, and for some odd reason I can’t find a source of the worry, whether it is remnants from version 1.0 that is clouding my mind or another reason…” Looking up he shrugged his shoulders, still worried, “If I had any precognition it might be different; I’m just worried and have no clue why which just makes the worry greater.”  Staring at his lover on the plasma Aaron pulled the chair out and sat down, “Just be careful, Xon, and don’t take any chances.  Even though this universe is supposed to be empty of all life, I...Just be careful and be home in two hours.”



Nodding in understanding Xon turned away from the pickup, “Mr. Pierson, take us through the gate.”



Aaron sat there worried as he watched the last scout move through the gate and maneuver above the plane of the ecliptic before porting out.  He hoped his worry was nothing more than the leftover remnants of memories, if so he had to start a new pad of the things he wanted to smack his previous version around for.





Pete watched Rolph scan the console for clues before playing back the video once more, feeling slightly left out when Kevin and Rolph started comparing different theories he almost missed it when Rolph perked up and quickly started activating controls.



“That’s it,” Rolph beamed.  “The clue was there in front of us all the time.  All we have to do it to break the word for staff by spelling out the name of the one that crossed casts when the council was created.” Pointing to the words on the edge of the console he grinned, “Spelling out the name will break the name of the councils ceremonial staff into two equal pieces.”



Pete moved around the other side of the console so he could see what Rolph was pointing out.  Watching Rolph touch the symbols and them light up he quickly reached out and grabbed Rolph’s hand before he could complete the sequence.  Sensing the shock and disappointment he smiled, “I think, before you finish that, we need to alert the Reliant to activate all our sensors system wide so we know where the signal goes.  If this is a key, or leads to the key, we need to know where to go.”



Pulling his hand back Rolph nodded slowly as he watched Pete contact the fleet and give the orders to place the sensor net to full activation.  He smiled as he felt Kevin pull him close and kiss his neck as Pete finished up.



“Done,” Pete smiled as he pointed to the swarm of SE110s that entered the base.  “We’re ready for you to activate whatever it is now.”



Rolph eagerly reached out and pressed the last two letters causing the console to light up as a grinding noise started from the far wall as it slid apart exposing another console and monitor screen.  Curious, then slightly shocked when an image appeared on the screen and actually turned and looked around the room before resting on them, Rolph moved closer to Kevin as the image spoke.



“You are not Mizhine, yet you knew enough to activate my program.  Who are you?” the image spoke.



Tilting his head Rolph looked at Kevin who was the expert in artificial intelligence and computer system when he answered, “We are Alteran.  We discovered this system on one of our patrols, and after investigating it we found your history on the dying planet below.  After that we followed the energy signature back to this moon base when we discovered that you had created a lifeboat for your people.  Aaron, our King, has decided to rebuild your world and has tasked us with retrieving the lifeboat so we can bring your race back into the universe.”  Kevin was watching the monitor closely and noticed the slight wincing the image was doing, that and the subtle emotions that flowed across the image’s face.



Dawning realization caused Kevin to step around the console and approach the wall, “You are not a program, are you?  You have emotions, even though you try to hide them… Your people succeeded in linking a brain to the computer system permanently, didn’t they?”



Showing shock for the first time the image flickered as it checked the sensor nets and played back the recordings of everything said from the moment the base had been breached.  Satisfied the intruders on the surface appeared to have no hostile intentions the image nodded, “Yes, my body and brain were separated and I was placed inside the computer network; until now I have been asleep.  That is until you woke me up.”  Checking internal programming the image showed surprise once more, “I have been sleeping for three hundred and seventy years.”  Looking up at the group of strangers, “Have the Reptoids been defeated?”



“I have no clue; I do know we have not encountered them.”  Pete stepped around shaking his head, “We have part of our fleet in the system and we will have finished fortifying it in another day.  Several of our scouts are following the trails back to your colony worlds to check for survivors or traces of the Reptoids, as you call them, but it will be several days before we get reports back from our scouts.”



Kevin was staring intently at the equipment lost in thought.  The desperation that they had had to have been under to even contemplate placing a brain inside a computer system; if it was not for the fact it had been sleeping all this time it probably would have gone insane long ago.  “Before the three of you start to rehash history or current fleet movements I need to know something.”  The image on the screen looked startled as it refocused on him.  “I need to know if you have a link to the lifeboat and if all systems are at optimum.  If not, all this talking to get to know one another is putting lives in jeopardy.”



The images features became harsher, more un-wielding, “My primary purpose is to be the guardian… the key to recalling the sleepers.”  The voice and image faltered as it reached out for the connection to the sleeper vessel and found it failing.  “NOOOO!” the image screamed out as it turned to face one of the walls which started to move apart, “The power source is failing… I have failed in my sacred task.”



Turning to face the three once more he stared at them intently, “I no longer have a choice…  I must trust you, or fail my race completely.  The sleepers’ power source is failing; there have already been significant losses of life.”



They watched in surprise as a tear rolled down the images face, “I have initiated the recall.  The sleepers will appear at the point they entered hyperspace shortly.”



“Joe…”  Pete slapped the side of his head activating the communication gear as he stared at the blinking screen showing the space where the moon would reappear, “Emergency port all ships out of grid forty three, the lifeboat will be phasing back into the system in that spot.”  He turned to look at the image when Rolph asked his question.



“We need to know what you used to power the life boat so we can synch in our power generators,” Rolph quickly moved in front of the image capturing its attention.  Seeing only confusion Rolph huffed in annoyance, “Your power generators.  We need to know what you used so we can synch our generators in with your system before the rest of your generators fail, killing all the children.”



Before Rolph could get an answer the image froze with a look of horror as several wall screens came to life with information, “What have we done?” It cried out in horror.  “The Sleeper ship has been heavily damaged by the explosion and the power levels are at critical.”