Chapter  85

   




“Gentlemen,” Speaker Burnett stood up to address his fellows. “With the loss of seventy five percent of our forces based out of North America to those abominations, we must rethink our operational plans more carefully.” Slamming his hand down on the table in anger he rounded on each of his counterparts, “This plan that failed seven days ago, the one ex-bishop Stevens authorized; THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN!!!”

Sitting back down Burnett let the silence build before speaking. “We six… we are the last of the High Bishops of the Army built to do God’s will. As the High Archbishop I will brook no more unauthorized actions.” Glaring them all into submission he tapped the table to get their undivided attention. “We will now commence expanding our hardened bunkers for our brethren, making sure each bunker is fully stocked and able to survive the cataclysm we will unleash.” Finishing his speech with the vigor of a true zealot he smiled evilly, “After we prepare, we will unleash our final assault and wipe the unbelievers from the face of our planet. After cleansing the world we will cleanse the very universe itself.”

“Now let us start planning our offense once more, seeing as that fool lost us half of our nuclear weapons.” Burnett sneered at the group of incompetent twits scheming of world conquest, when the time was right to enact the plan he would make sure the five of them were locked outside the bunkers as the devastation started.

__

Staring down out of the window at Tau Ceti in the distance, Aaron felt Tim port into his office. Swiveling the chair around he took in his lover’s tense posture. “We’ve not seen much of you in the past week, Tim. I’m not sure what you think is important enough to spend so much time away from us, but you need to know we miss you. And,” Aaron sent love and understanding along with a mental caress to downplay his somewhat scolding words, “I think as punishment you will need to make love to each of us before tomorrow night.” Reaching out and grabbing Tim while using his kinesis to strip him, Aaron pulled him into his lap, before Tim had a chance to protest he had captured his lips and was doing his best to ignite Tim’s passion.

Tim went instantly hard as Aaron kissed him. Feeling his skin slide alongside Aaron’s he had a brief thought of when had he gotten undressed before feeling a slick finger touching that spot between his legs. Throwing his head back as the intense feelings hit his body, his lips were quickly captured once more and he started to pant as the intense feelings washed over him. Feeling a sudden emptiness, which was quickly filled with something longer and thicker than the fingers that had been there a moment before, Tim moaned in pleasure as he thrust his head back into Aaron’s chest.

Hands under Tim’s butt cheeks, Aaron carefully maneuvered so that Tim was lying on his side in front of him so he could thrust in and out freely. Picking up speed he reached around with his slick hand and grasped the end of Tim’s hard cock and palmed it in a circular motion, causing his lover to buck backwards in pleasure. Feeling the swelling of Tim’s cock, Aaron sped up his thrusting so he could time their climaxes so they would hit at the same time.

Feeling a tension he did not know how to put into words leave him, Tim put his chin on his chest as he realized by spending every free moment tracking down leads on the possible Army of God terrorists he had put a strain on himself and his lovers. “Sorry. I got so caught up in trying to prove that we got all of the Army of God freaks last time... and the more I found out the more desperate I was to prove the information was lies.” Pulling Aaron’s arms tight around him he let the troubling news he had been carrying out, “We missed more than a few. Seven of their leaders were outside of the old U.S. on some type of inspection. Which means…”

“Aaron 1.0 always did think that Mexico down to Columbia fell way too quickly,” Aaron finished for Tim. Thinking about the situation he made a decision, one that a lot of those on Earth would not like. “They’re on their own, Tim. We will rescue the children and those from our territories.”

“Aaron?” Edward asked shakily. He had walked in with Fred and Rolph at the end of the conversation.

Feeling the emotional pain from Edward, Aaron lifted his head to look over Tim’s head. Making eye contact he answered the unspoken question that was plaguing Edward’s mind after hearing what he said. “If asked, we will evacuate our allies, those from the coalition countries. But to be honest I’ve reached the end of my goodwill, and the goodwill of our people, when it comes to dealing with those on Earth.” Scooting a bit so he could sit up, Aaron opened his arms while pathing to Edward, “Come here, Edward.”

Feeling how conflicted Edward was, Aaron nodded slowly to his inner musing. Giving voice to it he looked around the room and saw Rolph was looking concerned at his statement. “Rolph, Edward, the two of you go down and bring up the coalition leaders and any who they think will be needed for this conference. Bring them up to the Tau Ceti command center, it’s past time for them to take control of what is going on down on Earth. I’ll help, but it has to be their effort to take out the rest of the Army of God.” Giving Edward a kiss on the cheek he let him get up. “Tim, if you would go after the Territorial governors, I’ll bring the rest.”

Moving over to his desk, Aaron traced the command codes to open a channel Empire wide. Looking at the pickup he waited a moment for everyone to stop and listen, “The next few hours will determine how we deal with Humanity from now on.” Holding up a hand he tilted his head slightly, “The Army of God is not destroyed. We did not get all of them it seems. So now we will determine what we will do, if anything. I am calling the Coalition Leaders, along with our territorial governors, to the Command Center auditorium. I also ask that all of you watch and listen to what is being said and debated. If you have a comment or question you think I need to know the answer to, then activate your pickup and ask, or come in person. I want to make sure that when I make my ruling that I have taken in account everything possible, and that is where you, my people come in. Ask, Speak up, let your views be known so I know what to take in account as I make my ruling.” Giving his people time to let that sink in Aaron stood tall, “In our long history there has only been recorded one single time that a ‘gestalt of mind’ has been called. This will be the second such calling. Please ready yourselves, for in several hours time we will link. Stuff yourselves with calories over the next two hours to prepare for what is to come.”

Shifting as if he was looking at a crowd, Aaron finished, “To ease any discomfort during the link, find a friend or three so you are in physical contact with them. This will keep the link from being too draining. If you are stationed where that cannot happen, make sure to draw from the gestalt generators.” Aaron started walking directly towards the pick up on his way to the door, “Prepare yourselves!”

Moving quickly to the Command Center, Aaron traced several commands on the wall terminal before stepping back so the room could change. Loud gears and seals hissing could be heard as walls unsealed before moving to the side.


Looking into the mirror, Edward noticed that what he was wearing now outclassed the most regal ceremonial attire that the English crown had been known to wear. Calming himself, he turned to look at his other lovers who were dressed similarly. Noticing Rolph, Foma and Ton looked as imposing as he did, he was about to move over to his guard team when Kenny walked into the room, decked out like they were, but his circlet was glowing with untapped power.

Kenny looked at each of his lovers with a serious expression on his face. “Most of you are new to being Alteran. That was not said to belittle you, or diminish what you are about to do. The only reason I am bringing it up is that you might have not gotten that far into our history to know what Aaron just invoked. What will happen is that, at the end of the discussion Aaron will draw in and link with every single Alteran. This is what sets a Prime apart from anyone else. By being a Prime he can act as a focus for the Overmind our people will become without burning up. This ability will let him chose the best path for our people, and everyone will know it is the best path for our people from being linked mind to mind.”

“Alright,” Rolph said slowly as he thought about what Kenny said. “I can see that knowing this will make it easier on us, not as shocked when it happens.”

Nodding slowly, Kenny motioned for the security teams to come closer, “Yes it will. But understand this, while being a Prime will protect Aaron from being overloaded and burning he will still be affected. He most likely will collapse as the link is dissolved and need to sleep for a week… and we will need to act as if this is normal to those outsiders present, the leaders of the coalition countries.” Waiting until he felt they understood he motioned for Friedrich to come over, “I will go after the Chinese Premier.” Eyes flashing he ported out with his team.

Edward and his security team ported to the Palace foyer causing security to go on high alert. Ignoring the startled cries and whispered demands for explanations from palace security, he and his team climbed the steps and walked down the corridor to the family section. Finding his father and grandmother talking to several chancellors he waited until they noticed him.

James noticed the group first. Looking up and seeing his eldest standing so formally he felt a sinking sensation hit, “Edward?” Glancing over at his mother he saw she was equally shocked. “Is there something wrong?”

“Victoria England, Queen and Leader of the British realm,” Edward started formally as he gazed at his Grandmother who had gone pale. “James England, son and advisor to the Queen. Both of you are being called to stand in witness to Judgment.”

Rising slowly on unsteady legs, Victoria was unable to tell what Edward was feeling, “May one ask who is being judged?”

“The people of Earth,” Edwards’s soft reply shook her to the core.


Foma had chosen several heavily armed Marines to round out his security team. Porting down to the Government House in Moscow he put on his best Russian sneer as he walked up the steps. Ignoring the guards who had opened the doors for his party, he started for the President’s office. Nearing the door to the office several guards blocked his path. Waving his arm he used his kinesis to push them out of the way without missing a step. This was too important to his former countrymen to be derailed by political posturing. Seeing the President looking up at him with a smile, that dropped off half-formed, he spoke, “President Gorbivonovich, you are being called to stand in witness of judgment.” Looking around the room he asked, “Do you have an advisor you wish to bring with you?”


“Uncle,” Ton greeted his uncle and cousin as he walked into the office of the Emperor of Japan. “Both of you are being called to stand in witness of Judgment.”

“Nephew,” Morimoto gulped out as he stood and took in the uniform and honor guards his nephew brought with him. “How dire is situation?”

“The Army of God has not been destroyed. You and the other coalition leaders… your actions and answers will determine how much help we, the Alteran people, give Earth.”


Outwardly Kenny was cool and collected; inside though, having everyone he walked past drop to one knee and bow their heads was slightly intimidating, no matter how much he would deny it.

A trembling man approached and bowed low, “This way, honored Dragon. The Premier and his Council await your words in their chamber.”

Nodding his head, Kenny followed the nervous man, the fear that was rolling off of him was stifling. Entering the chamber the level of fear he could feel rose, and he had to control his wince of pain as he clamped down on his empathy. “Premier Woo, you may bring one advisor with you. I am here to notify you that you have been called to stand in witness of Judgment. We shall watch and question the coalition as the information we bring forth today is given to you all. From your answers and actions Judgment will be rendered.”

Looking into those terror inspiring eyes, Woo had to wonder what the hell was going on, and who had pissed of these warriors once more. Motioning for Vice Chairman Wang Lu to follow him down to the floor, he answered the request, “Honored Dragon, as we are called so we shall come.”


Jens was still confused. He had met his fellow coalition leaders in the transport craft and they seemed as confused as he was. Between the five of them they shared what they had been told and still had no clear idea of what was going on, or would happen. Walking into the room they had been escorted into, he looked around with a slight amount of fear creeping in. It was a cross between a courtroom and an auditorium, and it seemed, as they were escorted to a table off to one side, they would be the defendants.

Aaron stared impassively as the coalition leaders were brought into the room. He could feel the tension and fear screaming from their minds as they hesitantly say down while trying to look around to figure out what was going on. Stepping forward into the circle of light that had formed on the floor he felt his Clan, his lovers, take up position behind him. And he knew without looking that their children stood in front of their fathers, and most likely they were dressed as formally as the rest of his Clan.

Opening his mouth to start the proceedings, Aaron hesitated a moment as he caught sight of, out of the corner of his eye, Titus and Mirri stride in. Not showing any reaction on his face he was slightly amused at the expressions of the coalition leaders as they took up positions on either side of him and sat, their heads equal in height to his. Nodding once he made a motion to Li Su, Shaolin master and clan elder, to activate the SE114s. Facing the Coalition leaders he started, “This meeting and the Judgment that will follow is being broadcast to each of your respective countries as well as being viewed Empire wide by my people. You have been brought here today to witness the debate that will determine whether my people will continue to help Humanity, or if we will offer our allies rescue as those on Earth destroy themselves.”

Kevin stepped from behind Jack and made his way into the large circle going around Titus as he did so. Facing the coalition leaders he knew that only the people of the coalition countries were viewing these proceedings. He had made sure of that himself while Aaron was waiting for these five to show up. “The gift of pre-cognition is a heavy and debilitating curse to our people. Four hundred years ago those with the gift started to have the same vision of the future. Not the multiple futures they would normally get, but one terrifying event that destroyed the Earth and Humanity. We planned and prepared, nudging humanity from the shadows. And only the barest of nudges, as we had left the Earth to the younger race that had infested the planet of our birth.” Looking up into the pickup of the SE110 he continued, “Our King changed the way we interacted with Humanity after meeting some of you and finding you worthy. From that day we changed our plans and came out from behind the stories and legends and worked to help and guide Humanity as a friend and big brother.”

“A choice that weighed heavy on our hearts and minds,” Mark added as he moved next to Kevin so he could be seen. “A plan was created to rescue Gay and endangered youth. Those that were most vulnerable; yet those who we rescued would be the future of your race. And the more we rescued and healed, the more the feeling of unease grew in our people with what we had planned.

Brian made his way around to the other side of Aaron to stand near Mirri, “Then came the first attack on our people directly in over a thousand years by members of Humanity. Our embassy in Berkley, New York, in the Old United States came under attack by corrupt police officers. Those invaders were led by an officer who had seen our people shelter several gay youths that he had been forcing into prostitution to cover the expense of him protecting them. He gathered an assault team and, using a search warrant for a suspected drug facility in another part of the city, convinced them what they were doing was legal. And once they invaded our embassy they shot several of our people, critically injuring and forever crippling one of us.” Sensing the rising fear as the coalition leaders listened to the damning evidence being presented, he held off on reassuring them. “Instead of destroying the United States as the treaty between our two peoples allowed, we invaded and pacified one state. We removed all those corrupt or criminal from their positions of authority and planned to leave the state, satisfied that those responsible had been punished without killing innocents. And to our surprise the people wished to stay under our laws, ruled as one of our territories. This act allowed us to push past the anger of the attack and once again see that Humanity was worthy.”

Pat hugged Jay before taking his spot next to Brian, “And then the day came that an agent of a corrupt government tried to seize what was ours and shot our King… Aaron Stranton of Clan Stranton, Prime and King of the Kingdom and Empire of Altare. That act alone should have had us destroying Humanity in retaliation.” Glaring into the pickup so they could see his anger he continued, “Every Alteran was shocked. Worse than being shocked, they were enraged as never before, and the calls for your extermination were loud and from all corners of our empire.”

“And yet our King, our leader, blamed himself more than you,” Pat told them stiffly, showing in his posture he did not agree with that statement. “Instead of destroying you, once more we punished only those involved and tightened our ties with your people.”

“We even went to war with the old United States to defeat the enemy of Humanity that our people cursed with precognition foretold would be the destruction of Humanity,” Kevin picked up the explanation. “We invaded and totally destroyed a nation and country to save the rest of Humanity. Our people acted swiftly and ferreted out all those who would enslave and destroy those who were different. We neutralized Humanity’s Enemy, The Army of God, and it seemed as if peace was possible; that Humanity had started to leave behind the teenage years and move into adulthood.”

Donny marched with Dante at his side to stand next to Mark, “And then the unthinkable happened. One of our children was kidnapped; he was tortured to death by those seeking to gain the means of our gifts.”

James looked down at the table as tears ran down his face just like the young man who was telling his tale. With the no nonsense way all the painful encounters were being brought out their people were doomed, there could be no other action taken he felt.

Ignoring the tears running down his face, Donny stood tall, “That day one of my clan was taken from us. He had such potential; the way he led his age mates and helped them learn and overcome any obstacle in his pack’s way. Early on he had shown his true character and, when he achieved his rank as Beastmaster, he would have been elevated as an elder of my clan. Being elevated to a leadership position that would guide the direction of the clan at such a young age showed how special and uniquely suited to being a Beastmaster he was. But that day took him from us. And to end his suffering I was forced to give grace to one of our own.” Head tuning to face the coalition leaders with hate shining in his eyes, “That day I had to consign one of my own to the Winds was the day I knew, deep down, that Humanity was not worth saving. Only a few are worth saving, the rest…” Too overcome with emotion, Donny shook his head.

Shaolin Tonaka, the one chosen to bring Clan Stranton blood back into the Shaolin by being the father of Lee’s son, walked into the light, closing the circle. “And yet we continued to be the best big brother to Humanity we could be. We tried to ignore the pain, the anger and the loss at the hands of Humanity because those who were worthy far outnumbered those who would doom your race. Until Today.” Feeling a gestalt point become active under his feet he let the raw energy crackle around his body as visible lightening, just as everyone else in the circle was having happen to them. “Let the Discovery begin!”

Tim walked around the glowing circle one time feeling the energy crackling in the air before stopping. Staring for a moment at Victoria, who looked pale and beaten down, he slipped through the bodies outlining the circle and stood in its center. “I am Timothy Stranton of Clan Stranton of the Kingdom and Empire of Altare. I oversee all non military security forces in our Kingdom on Earth and all the worlds of the Empire.” Turning slowly, and stopping to face each of his lovers and clan leaders in the circle, he looked up at the pick up, “Seven days ago a prime level pre-cog entered a killing vision, and because of his warning we were able to save every single person that inhabited the Philippine Islands before disaster struck. This disaster was not the workings of nature, but a deliberate act of war by members of Humanity.”

“We had thought we had decimated The Army of God,” Tim said coldly. “We would be fools to think we had gotten them all, but we did not realize that one third of their leadership escaped our attack. These leaders have bidden their time up until one week ago. The attack used nuclear weapons that had to have been built in the old United States and removed from that country to be hidden in an unknown location.” Letting the information sink in, Tim took a deep breath before telling the last chance scenario they had theorized on. “All our intelligence proves that the remaining members of the enemy of Humanity are limited to Central and South America, with the possibility of Mexico being compromised. Security recommends the sinking of those landmasses into the oceans to ensure the total destruction of any member of The Army of God. This time we will ensure that scourge is removed.”

All over the world people who had gathered fearfully in front of the nearest television set heard their leaders gasp in shock. Wondering in fear at first, when their favorite show was interrupted with the broadcast proceedings, then in anger and shame as their failings as a race were brought into the light, and now, again fear set is as they heard the recommendation to sink several nations.

Jens looked between his fellow leaders and felt like sighing in relief that they were not the target of this trial. Then, as it set in that they were talking about killing off one third of the population of Earth just to ensure that they got every last member of that terrorist organization, he paled.

Premier Woo had sat through the proceedings so far with haunted eyes. As each of the incidents were told into the record he winced knowing that not every incident was being told, only those involving deaths that should never have happened. And he knew there were more deaths of Aaron’s people that had not been read into the record just now, but those were not children. He watched the young dragon drop to one knee and bow his head before standing and walking out of the circle, and he truly wondered if they would lose all they had gained. Gorbivonovich’s statement back during that crisis had proved to be prophetic; Aaron’s people were calling for vengeance.

“The seeking of consensus begins,” Aaron’s voice broke the silence that had fallen after Tim gave his report. “All those who wish to be heard shall come forth.”

Morimoto watched in dread as a small boy limped into the circle; he knew without having to ask that the boy was not one of Aaron’s people, otherwise the boy would not be injured, or look like he had gone through a war.

Muscles trembling from walking from the med bay to the room where everyone had gathered, Trevor swayed as he stopped in the center of the glowing circle on the floor and he looked up at the man who had his people save him and his brother. “If I could, I would condemn each and every adult on Earth, I would see them exterminated. Not one adult in our home village came to my brother’s or my aid as the caretaker beat us for not working hard enough in getting the day’s work done for the company he ran. We were given sanctuary by our rescuers and told we would be healed and have a safe place to chase our dreams. I don’t’ want to be human anymore. Humans are barbarians who should not be allowed to survive.”

Seeing the boy crumple to the floor in pain, Fred moved through the circle to his side. Touching the boy’s shoulder he closed his eyes as he pictured the trauma bay and ported him over so he could be treated. Glaring at the coalition leaders he left the circle and resumed his place with the sons of the Clan.

In the silence that had fallen with the boy’s transportation out of the lit circle, Jens craned his head around to find out where the clicking noise he was hearing was coming from. Spotting a gray haired youth walking down the metal steps he glanced over at his companions and wondered what was going on in Premier Woo’s mind because he looked like he had been frozen in place.

Walking past the Shaolin, Samuel nodded his head in acknowledgment before stopping in the center of the circle. “Humans by their very nature fear what they do not understand. But the truly disturbing characteristic they seem to have is their fear turns to hate which overrides their reasoning. These traits are not conducive to long term survival of the species. I have examined countless Human minds during our occupation and subjugation of the United States. While they have great potential for good they also have the potential for great evils. If asked, I would recommend the evacuation of the Kingdom’s allies off world and blockade the planet while the Earth humans destroy themselves.” Finished with what he had to say, he knelt on one knee and bowed his head towards his King.

Less than a minute after Samuel left the circle a young boy dressed in the brown and orange of the Shaolin walked into the circle. His hands concealed in the sleeves of his robes and his head bowed he spoke without looking up, “This young one acknowledges the validity of those who have spoken before this one’s turn came. This one wishes to remind our people that we have taken on the duty of being shepherds to Humanity. We have assumed the role of parent and elder brother to Humanity, and just because the errant child has misbehaved does not mean we should abandon them.” Looking up into the pickup his tone changed, “This one also reminds our people that we should keep in mind that by letting Humanity off the planet of their birth and welcoming them into our worlds we have fulfilled our vow to be guardians of Humanity.”

Walking down the steps, Jessie controlled his nervousness at speaking to all of their people. “It almost seems like ages ago,” he started once he stopped in the middle of the circle, “that I was rescued and offered sanctuary here among the Alteran people. I was given the opportunity to dream again, not only that, I was encouraged to grab onto my dream. To understand why this is so important you have to understand my rescue.” Closing his eyes so he could call up the memory so it was a little clearer, “To say that the people of Earth are cruel is an understatement. So far in my researching the history of intelligent races I have yet to come across a race that hunts its own for sport. FOR SPORT!!!”

“I, along with five others who had either been kidnapped or sold for the purpose of being intelligent prey…” trailing off, Jessie told himself he would not cry as he felt the tears welling up. “The people who were running this hunters camp worked for the Sheriff’s department. The very same people who were sworn to serve and protect were the ones who were killing off those they felt undesirable… different. The humans have a saying, ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Humans should be left to wallow in their own destructiveness, let them kill themselves off. We will all be safer that way.”

Colin walked down the steps to the circle below. He felt he should be the voice of reason since he came from a background where he was not rescued or abused. Looking around the room slowly before stopping so he could stare into the pickup, “I am the Chief Healer of the Mind Healers Guild. It is very easy to group all humans into the same category as those who prey on the innocent.” Shifting his stance he glanced at the rest of the Clan who his message was truly for, “We have dealt mostly with the worst Humanity has to offer. Do not forget that Humanity does have much to offer and most are not like the scum we have dealt with.” Turning to face the Clan he finished his plea, “If Humanity was not worthy of the chance they have been given, Aaron… Our king would have consigned them to oblivion long ago.”

Aiden placed his hand on Colin’s shoulder as he exited the circle before taking his place, “I have met with every single person we have rescued. I’ve heard their stories, and most are nothing but horror after horror. I brief Aaron, Prime of Clan Stranton and our King, every morning of the numbers and histories of those we rescue.” Looking over at the direction Colin had gone in he offered an apologetic thought before he let his views be known. “I say ENOUGH!!” Letting the silence build he turned in place slowly so he could see everyone’s face, “I would have thought that things would be getting better for the youth of Humanity. They have not. The only option I see before us is using Delta Omega.” Seeing the unease of those in the room, Aiden faced Aaron as he was the one he had to convince to use those protocols one more time. “The numbers don’t lie. If the current trend holds steady we will be intervening and rescuing half of all of Earth’s children under eighteen.” A sad look crossing his face he shook his head slowly, “And as history has proven when dealing with Humans, time and time again our plans and estimates are destroyed as reality sets in and we are left with results that far exceed the worst we thought possible. Too many are being lost and injured, an unacceptable number that is increasing as more and more come to us for help… I beg of you, activate Delta Omega.” Rising after kneeling and bowing everyone could see the tears falling silently.

Joe decided that someone needed to speak out on behalf of Humans, because from what was being presented so far, well it did not show Earth in a good light. Walking past Pat he stood in the center of the circle wearing his best dress blacks. “As the Admiral in charge of our fleet I have another perspective to offer. While those who have offered witness today are those who have suffered the most, and I will not belittle their suffering, I can offer an insight into those who have come to us of their free will that had the best home life growing up. Those that had loving parents and wanted our offer of chasing their dreams would be saddened by lumping all of humanity into one category… that of abusers. Humanity is in flux, and needs our guidance and understanding the most right now. To judge them on the actions of only a part of their race is not wise.” Seeing the thoughtful looks on some of the Clan’s faces he dropped to one knee like all those that had gone before, but after rising he snapped to attention and saluted Aaron. Hiding his chuckle at seeing the amusement in Aaron’s eyes, he did a perfect military about face and left the circle.

Over the next two hours Woo listened to more and more of Aaron’s people speak both for evacuation of the coalition countries and for the destruction of one third of the Earth’s population. He had been keeping tally of what was being said mentally and had hope that at least his, and the other coalition countries, would be spared when the next person to enter the circle made up his mind that he needed to speak.

Glancing at his clan leader briefly as he walked into the circle Anton took courage as he saw the pride in Donny’s eyes. “Mikhail was my friend; he was my everything, and the only one who made the sun rise in my heart.”

Taking in the expression of his comrades Woo decided he would be the next to speak. The worst they could do would be to kill him for interrupting their proceedings, the best would be they allowed him to have his say and ignored it. Standing, he moved away from the table so when the youngster was done he could quickly enter the circle.

“The young ones call Earth ‘The Devil Planet’,” Anton’s voice broke as he shook his head and changed track. “I was told Justice, not vengeance.” Tears streaming down his face he held back the sobs he wanted to let lose, “I…The…Vengeance is…I can’t forgive them.” Losing control, the pain filled sobs wracked his body as he shuffled out of the circle.

Woo quickly closed the distance between the table they had been sitting at and the center of the circle. Carefully looking to Aaron to see if he would be struck down he let a sigh of relief out when Aaron’s expression did not change. Turning to face the young boy who moments before was standing where he was, Woo swallowed loudly as he saw that he was wrapped in several sets of arms as he sobbed uncontrollably. “You’re right, young one, that Humans are a vicious race. But the thing is, most of us are indifferent unless it affects us directly. And to my shame my government does have a history of inhuman treatment of our own, but that changed when Alterans once more let it be known they had not disappeared.”

Catching the young one’s eyes he bowed low, “Your King is a wise and loving leader. And he is right to ask you to seek justice. But I am not Alteran, I am Human. So I will give you the vengeance your heart calls for.” Standing up and looking into the pickup he practically growled out, knowing his people would hear his orders. “General Chen, I order you to set Defense Condition to level two. From this moment on The People’s Republic of China is at War.”

Seeing the startled looks on his comrades’ faces he turned back to Aaron, “At this moment China is at war with the Army of God and all those who would torture a child will be destroyed.”

Thinking about it, Gorbivonovich decided it was the only way to salvage the alliance and the possible future they were building. Standing up, he walked to just outside the circle and looked around for the floating camera. Spotting it he stared at it before bellowing out, “General Zabugornov. Place all of our forces on high alert. Ready our troops to be deployed to South America to ferret out the threat to humanity. The Russian people are at war.”

“Move aside, James,” Victoria calmly whispered as she rose from her chair. She too would go to war to save the alliance and what it meant for her people. “General Strathmore, recall all troops and prepare for deployment.”

Catching Morimoto and Jens out of the corner of her eye, she smiled as she heard them give the order to their commanders to prepare for war. Looking back at Aaron, she held out hope as she saw the interest in his eyes directed their way.

Stepping out of the circle, Woo made his way over to the distraught youngster. “Those that took your Mikhail away from you are dead, and those that worked for them are either in jail or dead as well. While we can do nothing to help your feelings of needing vengeance against those who directly harmed you and yours, we can make sure that those you set about protecting us from are taken care of. In the process we will do what should have been done all along…we will protect the children.”

Aaron waited several long minutes after Anton had his say followed by those from Earth before gazing around the auditorium to see if anyone else would approach to be heard. Not seeing any and not sensing anyone new on the station he spoke, “The seeking of Consensus has been accomplished.”

Pulling energy from the gestalt points in the floor Aaron opened his mind as he called out, “Judgment begins!” Sending a pathed message out to everyone at once he braced himself, “Link with each other through touch. Then think of me and I’ll accept the link. Trial by mind begins.”

Victoria quickly scanned the room as she noticed how silent it had become. Shock descended as she saw each and every Alteran had their heads tilted to one side and were gazing up slightly with closed eyes. She stumbled back into her son’s arms though as large electrical arcs started bouncing off each of the Alterans in the circle. What was truly frightening was the large ball of plasma forming in the center of the circle.

Aaron felt this mind expand as each group linked with his. The group mind soon surpassed a million minds as more and more of his people linked with him. Then suddenly the mass mind focused on Earth. Searching out every mind they could find, they soon had a list of names and locations for every single Army of God supporter. While scanning the planet over a million lives were terminated as the mass mind destroyed those who were actively abusing children.

In the center of the circle images started to appear as the group mind began searching out the Army of God. The coalition was awed as every Alteran in the room seemed to speak as one, “A listing of all the enemies of Humanity is yours.” A map along with several bound volumes of names and addresses appeared on the floor near the Coalition leaders. Then the images changed. Woo softly snarled in anger as images of adults abusing kids started to cycle through. But then he paled as each image ended with the adult grabbing their head and falling to the floor or ground. They knew without asking that each of those people they were seeing had been judged and found guilty of crimes against children, and would not be getting up.

“Dear God,” Victoria muttered as more and more images flashed of children being abused and their attacker being eliminated. She felt is she blinked she would miss hundreds of people being judged the images were flashing by that fast.

Morimoto shook his head in shame as he watched the Alterans doing what they should have been doing all along. All too soon the images stopped flashing and the voices once again spoke, “We have interfered in Earth for the last time. You have this one chance to prove yourselves to us. All children of the enemy of Humanity under the age of eighteen shall be handed over to us for mind healing.”

“Prepare for the day that Humanity goes too far and is judged a danger.” All the Alterans in the room turned and opened their eyes and stared at the Coalition leaders. Their eyes glowed with power as their final words chilled everyone watching, “On that day all of our allies and territories shall be evacuated before the final option is activated. Thus removing for all time the pestilence known as Humans from the planet of our birth.”

One by one the linked minds separated from the merge, each returning to their senses with the feeling of love and comfort that Aaron was famous for washing over them. Blinking back to reality each turned to a friend or lover that they had linked with and smiled knowing that the right thing had been done. Those that were pushing for the elimination of Humans also felt the decision rendered was the right one.

Finally freed of the mass mind, Aaron smiled at his lovers before closing his eyes and crumpling to the floor, totally exhausted from expending so much energy.

Fred quickly moved over to Aaron and scanned him with his scanner that he had pulled out.

Knowing that Aaron had used so much energy, and he had a surplus after the gestalt generator had shut off, Kevin moved over to Aaron’s side and briefly kneeling he placed his hand on Aaron’s chest and pushed almost all the extra energy that was still coursing through him into his lover.

Seeing what Kevin was doing, each of the others that had anchored the circle moved to Aaron’s side and gave him of themselves, their excess energy.

Fred smiled in satisfaction as Shaolin Tonaka rose to his feet after transfusing energy into Aaron. He had seen Aaron’s energy levels returned to close to normal. Putting his scanner back in his thigh holster he placed his hand on Aaron’s arm and ported the two of them to the gestalt bridge and then home.

Moving over to where Aaron had been standing, Kevin placed a hand on Titus and Mirri where their necks met their muscular shoulders, and his impassive eyes speared the coalition leaders, “Judgment has been rendered. It is up to you now to show the universe that you are responsible adults.”

Edward moved beside Titus and nodded to his father and grandmother, “By marrying into Aaron’s people, to his Clan, the people that look to the Crown have a secure place in the universe to evacuate to if the worst would happen. The other candidates that volunteered for their country to join the Alteran people have secured the same for each of the other coalition countries.”

“We have been more than welcoming of those who have joined us in the wider expanse of the universe,” David moved closer to Kevin while holding Calvin close. “But as with all things our patience is not limitless, all of you have been given one last chance to save the world of your birth… It is up to you now to either embrace it or prepare for the exodus.”

With that last remark every Alteran ported out of the room leaving the coalition leaders looking around in worry.

__

Oboxa rapped her finger on the tabletop, silencing all discussion in the chamber. “We meet this day to bring to light a secret that we dare not contemplate. We, as a race, are dying.” Letting the silence stretch she sent for Opoku to enter the chamber.

Walking into the chamber, Opoku glanced around. Seeing that she had been called in front of all the Nest Mothers she bowed her head and waited silently.

“Opoku,” Oboxa started to explain her reasoning, “the logical conclusion of your data is that our race is dying.” Waving her arm at the other mothers in the chamber, “Elucidate on the data you have gathered and your conclusions.”

Nodding once, Opoku looked at her notes. “Six cycles ago the birthing healers reported a strange occurrence that they assumed was an aberration. Thirty percent of the eggs being incubated in the hatching grounds failed to survive past the first turnover. The healers first realized the problem as several of the eggs exploded due to the unborn child decomposing inside the shell. During this traumatic event the healers concentrated on the parents to ensure they did not lose themselves to the ravages of the mindless animal in grief.”

“Because of this they did not realize that more than several of the eggs were effected,” Opoku continued tonelessly. “Each successive cycle has increased the numbers lost until, in this cycle, we are faced with three live hatchlings out of five thousand and eighty children being placed in the hatching grounds to finish their gestation in their egg form.”

“How can this be possible?” Amidi was horror struck at the information.

“After our attack on the Tijin home world itself, in the opening days of the war, several warheads made planet fall on Katha.” Opoku looked over at Amidi, “It was assumed that the warheads were non-functional. We assumed wrong.” Bringing up several pictures on the main computer monitor she pointed to the right hand side of the screen, “This object is called a Prion. From what we were told a Prion is on the order of magnitude smaller than a virus is to a bacterium. We only were able to find this Prion as the cause of the deaths of the un-hatched by using the technology showcased during our visit to the Alteran University. This Prion is the death sentence to our race.”

Reading through the information that was on her computer monitor, Amidi tried to comprehend that there were actually diseases caused by something smaller than a virus. “What do we do?”

Oboxa acknowledged the question by asking Opoku one of her own, “Were you able to determine if the technology the Alterans use routinely will be able to save our race?”

“You go too far, Oboxa,” an older Kathat spat out. “You overstep your bounds and go against our oldest laws. I repeat my earlier statement. You broke our most sacred laws when you allowed those aliens to touch your Aeraeli. You have brought shame upon your house.”

“What you believe to be a law was never ratified by the council of Nest Mothers eons ago,” Oboxa interrupted as she glared back. Picking up the folder she had filtered out of the stack when she was challenged, “I would do far worse to ensure the survival of our race than sharing my Aeraeli with the person who had the power to destroy our race if found unworthy. If you would rather see our race disappear then logically you should leave the conference.” Opening the folder she would have smirked if she had not found it illogical. “Without the assistance of the very race you vilify, your nest shall be broken within two cycles of ten.”

Ignoring the sputtering fool, Oboxa returned her gaze to Opoku who was staring at the wall intensely. “Opoku, do you believe the Alterans have the means to correct our race’s problem?”

“As you know from the healing the young Alteran healer performed on your body, healing injuries cycles old with ease unheard of, they do,” Opoku replied. “I have found information that verifies the comment the young healer made the day he healed you. They are indeed masters of controlling organics to the micro cellular level.” Changing the picture on the monitor to one she had taken during the tour she and her fellow healers had been given of the university, she pointed at the main monitor, “This picture I have placed in the monitor is something they call an incubator. As you can clearly see it is an artificial womb which allows the fetus to be brought from conception to birth.” Tilting her head to the side because she caught movement to her right she finished her report, “This technology has the possibility of alleviating the decimation of our population during the time it will take to affect a counter to this Prion the Tijin used as a weapon, to make sure our race paid for the treachery of committing an act of war against their species.”

“Speculation at best, Opoku,” Amidi snapped out as she continued to read the report, only to look up in shock when she was defied.

“Your logic is faulty, Nest Mother,” Opoku glared at the former councilor. Changing the image on the monitor back to the one previous, “If you had taken the time to read what was displayed you would have seen that the image on the left was from one of the warheads kept in the Museum of Conquest. That sample is pure and very much active. It was our arrogance of requiring all of our children to parade into that display area to boast of our glory that has doomed us. Our actions infected all of our people.”

The silence in the chamber was deafening as Opoku’s words of damnation sank in. They had helped the Tijin destroy their race.

“We have no choice,” Oboxa stood as she looked at every single Nest Mother. “If we as a race wish to survive we must ask the Alterans for their help. To do nothing means our extinction.”

__


Deozhnera strode into the council chambers and looked at the nine standing in the only lit areas of the shadows, “We are at a crossroads in our War with the Darkness.” Twirling around to look at each of the hooded nine she sneered, “You have counseled to watch and wait as the war was fought by the humans.” Rounding on another she glared at the hooded figure, “They are not of our people or race, you have said.”

Seeing the slight twitch that spoke of being uncomfortable at her words, she rounded on another, “It does not affect us you have said.” Deozhnera whirled on one of the hooded figures she knew was of the warrior class, “It does not affect us you have said. So why should we get involved you have said… repeatedly.”

Stepping into the center where the staff of leadership rested in its display, Deozhnera punched through the glass casing so she could grab and retrieve the staff. Holding it in front of her the blood from the lacerations garnered from breaking the glass case ran down the staff causing it to glow. “I warned you of what would happen because of your inaction. I pleaded with you to join the fight before it was too late.”

Banging the staff on the deck plate a ripple of energy jumped to of the staff billowing the cloaks of all in the room. “You ignored the warnings…” Twirling the staff around, leaving a glowing arc in its wake, she spat out, “Now it is too late. A transport carrying hundreds of our children was destroyed by those that serve the Darkness.” In other times she would have been gleeful at shocking the Nine, but now all she felt was contempt.

“As rightful holder of the Staff of leadership I dissolve the Nine,” Deozhnera announced. “Where you would do nothing, I shall not. We will aid the Humans in their fight. We shall take retribution for the attack on our children. The Darkness shall pay with blood.”