Chapter 86 

   

A sense of relief permeated the air as the five leaders of the coalition nations walked into the European command center, located deep inside the Sibillini mountain range, in silence. Moving around the command consoles to the backmost situation table, Jens shoved the troop models off to one side so he could unroll the map they had been given. Weighing it down with several of the metal tank models, he nodded his thanks when his staff turned on the camera and the map was put up on the monitors.

 

“We were very lucky today,” Gorbivonovich stated slowly as he gazed down at the map. “General Zabugornov, are you receiving this transmission clearly?”

 

“Yes, Mr. President,” the thick Russian accent came over the speakers, along with acknowledgment from the other commanders of the coalition countries.

 

“Gentlemen,” Victoria looked up from the map. “While not an expert on Alterans, I do know my grandsons rather well. I have seen the pain and frustration in Aaron’s face more and more as he has dealt with those outside his kingdom. And, to my shame, some of the frustrations heaped upon Aaron are from my countrymen.” Pulling the chair from behind her so she could sit down she stared at each of them as they too got comfortable. “I’ve watched him struggle with his desire to simply ignoring dealing with what they call outsiders, and go in and rescue those youths that need and want his help. I’ve watched him struggle with the desire to enact the penalties in the treaty that all of our countries signed with his, back during the start of World War Two.” Sighing, she tapped the map, “I know he is tired of dealing with those outside his kingdom, and has gone back to his original plans of destroying all of us if he is attacked one more time.”

 

“He has been more patient than I would have expected him to be, “Gorbivonovich stated with a sigh. “I too have noticed the tension Aaron has exuded… even after his much deserved vacation. I am only too glad he has given us this opportunity to handle the situation ourselves. Though I am more than slightly disturbed that whatever the Alterans did killed off over one million people so quickly, and without visible wounds.” Waving his hand, he added before anyone could take it the wrong way, “Granted, from reports that have reached us after returning to Earth, each of those killed more than deserved their death for what they were actively participating in.”

 

“Which leads one to wonder how many are still out there, needing to be punished, if those killed were only those actively committing those crimes at the time of their death,” Woo offered as he pulled the microphone closer. “General Chen. You have had several minutes to contemplate the target locations as we re-assured ourselves of our continued good fortune… a status report, comrade.”

 

“As you wish, Premiere,” the picture of General Chen on the monitor bowed before starting. “The moment you and the other leaders declared hostilities on those compromising the Army of God, we enacted the command links between our nations’ command and control centers. At this moment the East Sea fleet is steaming towards Columbia. General Zabugornov has informed me that the Russian Pacific fleet shall join our combined fleet five hundred nautical miles from the coast of Columbia, before splitting off and steaming for the Mexican coastline. The Japanese defense fleet will pass within fifty nautical miles of the combined fleet on their way to the Panama Canal to ensure we have covered the coastline of the targeted countries.”

 

“Our Combined Air force,” General Strathmore picked up the report, “shall commence refueling in five hours. We expect the night time HALO insertions of our advanced scouts and Special Forces teams to go unnoticed by the targets. Not to mention that the infiltrated countries will be confused at first before becoming suspicious as to why aircraft are flying an unusual route due to the fact the target locations are in unpopulated areas. Our forward recon forces will be able to verify that our targets are in residence. We plan to ensure that all seven leaders of the terrorists are either captured, or killed. We have tripled the usual sniper teams to ensure this.”

 

“We certainly do not wish fail this important test that has been laid in front of us,” General Chen stated with conviction. He shuddered to think what would happen if he and their teams failed with what they had been entrusted to take care of. He still felt horrified at the memory of what the Alterans were able to do from another star system.

 

“On another note,” Army Commander Rasmussen interrupted, “I have been in contact with my opposites from each of the coalition nations. We have activated all of our troops, including reserve forces, to blanket our nations to find and rescue those children where the Alterans had killed off their attackers. Even though we only hold one third of those children, we are rapidly running out of resources and the abilities to heal the physical wounds these children have suffered.”

 

Staring up at the monitor, Victoria was slightly horrified that in her zeal to make sure the Army of God was taken care of for once and all, she had lost sight of the children that she had seen in those images where their attackers were taken care of. Another horrifying thought entered her head, “If that young Aiden is correct, can we afford to ignore the sheer number of our next generations being rescued? At the rate he stated, we will soon fade into obscurity without a next generation to continue our countries. This cannot be allowed to continue.”

 

“Between those immigrating off world and the children being rescued…”Jens trailed off in thought as he looked over at the commander whose only duty was to be a runner during the crisis, “Commander. Please have any child that needs more than minor healing escorted to Elswick Trauma. Inform each child that I will meet with them personally after they are healed so I can make sure they have a loving home, and every opportunity to chase their dreams. I’ve heard the Alterans tell that to those they rescue time after time. So I am not going to let them be the only ones to encourage a child to dream, and reach for what they thought impossible.”

 

“General,” Victoria started, only to be interrupted.

 

“I understand, Ma’am. I’ll see to it personally that all the children our service men and woman rescue are told the same thing.” General Strathmore answered the unspoken command. He knew what needed to be done; not only that he agreed strongly with what his monarch was doing. He would talk to his wife later on tonight about taking in a child or two, when he called her to let her know he would not be home for the next couple of days. After all, the best way to get his troops to follow his lead was to be the first to step up.

 

“I would suggest we take a break as this looks like it is going to be a long drawn out event,” Gorbivonovich told them as he motioned for his aide to come over. “We can convene in four hours after refreshing ourselves.”

 

“Agreed,” Jens stood up and motioned for several of the runners over. “My men will show you to one of the rooms the staff uses during emergency drills; you may freshen up and rest there.”

 

__

 

Kevin sat on the side of the bio-bed next to Aaron listening to Fred explain what was going on with Aaron.

 

“Aaron’s gifts were not affected by the merge at all, so that is good news,” Fred started as he tried to lift the serious expressions on his lovers’ faces as they stood in the Clan’s med bay. “Physically, the energy transfer s that everyone did for him after he disengaged the mass link did a lot to keep Aaron from going into shock. So once again that is a good thing.” Staring at Kevin, Pete and Tim who looked the most devastated, he smiled so they would know it was okay. “I think this time he really will sleep for a week, not because he needs to heal, but because the mental strain of stretching unused muscles, so to speak, will have made him over tired.”

 

Holding up his hand to make a point, Fred told them, “That said, and knowing Aaron will be alright with no problems, we will need to work hard during this week to make sure all of our projects are up to date and covered so we can go on vacation the moment Aaron wakes up. For us a week will have passed, for Aaron only a few moments will have passed, and he will need to relax for several days afterwards.”

 

“Thank you, Fred,” Kevin nodded with a smile as he stood and pulled Pete and Tim into a hug. “Turnabout is fair play; Aaron has been our rock and anchor, now we will be his. While he is asleep we will make sure everything runs smoothly and,” chuckling as he smirked at the thought of who he could dump his responsibilities off on for a week, “I think the idea of a vacation is a splendid idea. Maybe a camping trip to the cavern’s beach, you know the one with the hot spring inside.”

 

Going instantly hard, Tim nodded as he looked over to Ichiro; now that he knew everything was alright he could take care of the problem Kevin had caused by making him go down memory lane. Looking around he saw that he was not the only one affected by the mention of the hot spring.  Being careful not to get tangled up in the I.V. cuff as he leaned down to kiss Aaron, Fred moved over to Ichiro and nibbled his ear causing him to groan in delight. “We have about two hours until the kids are finished with their studies, so I think we should have one hell of an orgy until then.”

 

If anyone had looked back at Aaron as they left they would have seen a smile cross his face.

 

__

 

 “It’s strange in a way,” Victoria murmured as she thanked the steward who removed her empty dishes. Gazing down at the situation table she noticed that, while they were eating, someone had updated where their combined air forces should be at according to radio reports. Looking away from the table she saw the live satellite feeds of the targets.  She frowned as she saw the infrared image from the largest of the underground bases.

 

“What is strange, Victoria?” Gorbivonovich asked as he poured more coffee into his cup.

 

Looking startled, Victoria realized she must have spoken aloud. “Sorry about that,” Victoria told them as she topped her tea off. “I had the thought that it was rather strange the way Aaron and his people have come into all of our lives.” Looking at the considering faces around her she waved her hand, “I know that personally I owe him several lives; those of my family topmost of those he has saved.  And yet, for all that he and his people have given to help us, he has not really received much in return. So it is strange that he has done all he has for us, and only now has he lost patience with us. Only now has he said no more, I have given enough, done enough.”

 

Thinking about what Victoria had said, Morimoto had to agree. “There is the fact he has rescued so many children and taken them off planet to consider.”

 

“I do not see how adding so many humans to his people could be what he is after.  He has to be using resources better used elsewhere to handle those children,” Woo theorized, because he did not know for sure how they were handling it.

 

Sneaking a glance at Woo, Victoria knew exactly what Aaron was doing with all those rescued. He was altering them on a genetic level so they became Alteran; he had very few rescued that remained human. On a visceral level she knew this was one way that Aaron was increasing the gene pool for his people, the question was why? Were they so few to begin with, or was it something else? “Regardless of his motives, my thoughts focused more on what I, or we, can do to make his life easier. To let his people know we are not a burden that should be avoided.” To make sure her grandsons did not decide service to their people was not worth the bother now that they had a new family and people.

 

“I know that when we offered prospects to be married into his clan he was blindsided,” Jens reminded them. “That is why we decided to let any of the other countries that wanted to colonize his worlds do so through us. That way he would not be offered any other people to marry, plus we then would have the closer ties since those that married into Aaron’s clan were relatives of ours.”

 

“I think the only reason we have for Aaron to be as patient with us so far is because our relatives have married into his family,” Morimoto offered. “Though Victoria is right, we need to come up with ways to take the burden of dealing with Earth off of Aaron and his people. This action we are undertaking is a good first step to lifting the burden, though the question of what we can do to further relieve the burden remains.”

 

Several hours later, and they were no further towards an answer on how to remove some of the burden Aaron had taken as his own. Deciding to table the discussion until they had time to research their options thoroughly, they all looked at the bank of monitors.  Now it was time to watch the live feeds from the satellites picking up on their special forces as they reported ready for the HALO drop, which would commence in a few minutes.

 

Watching the infrared view of their Special Forces teams floating silently to the ground, Victoria sighed in relief when she heard the report from the team leaders that they had hit the ground without problem. “Now comes the hard part…”

 

“Da,” President Gorbivonovich stated as he moved back from the table, “The waiting until all of our forces are in position.”

 

__

 

Frowning as he looked over at Pete and Tim, Kevin had no idea why they three of them had been called down to the CORE bunker. He had just gotten out of the shower and was strapping his P.A.D.D. on when he noticed it was vibrating. Taking it out of the thigh case he was surprised to see a summons to the CORE, just as surprised to see that Tim and Pete had walked in with their P.A.D.Ds in hand with worried looks on their faces.

 

“You don’t think something went wrong and the CORE wants us to authorize a reset, do you?” Tim verbalized their unspoken fear. “I’m not sure if I could live with having to go back to how it used to be.”

 

Stepping onto the platform, Kevin stood in front of the couch Aaron used when directing the CORE to do what he needed it to do. “Identify,” he practically screamed, his voice was that forceful.

 

 “Identity confirmed… Kevin Miller Stranton…Authorization Tier Omega, Level Bravo Omega One…”

 

“Standby… Standby…”

 

“Processing Directive Aaron sixty nine…”

 

The three of them were slightly shocked when a hologram appeared in front of them of Aaron.  Looking at each other, they had no clue what was going on, or if this Aaron was their Aaron, or the one from the previous timeline.

 

The Hologram of Aaron seemed to look at each of them before smiling and, when it spoke, they knew it was their Aaron that had recorded this. “Hello Loves. Tim, the first one of my Loves that I met that day back in Florida; Pete, I would have preferred to meet with you when you had not been beaten by those thugs. And Kevin, my brave Kevin, doing his best to protect his friend. We have come far, and grown for the better since those days.” Waving his arm at the couches behind the three he bid them, “please sit and be comfortable as this might take a while.”

 

Once again the hologram of Aaron waited to give them time to sit, “I’ve spent a fair few days down here in the CORE, programming protocols to activate in the event of every scenario I could think of. While most of you, my loves, unconsciously created different escape plans or technologies after the reset that Kenny from a different timeline created, I sat down here wracking my brain to come up with every situation I could think of, and a response plan.”

 

The hologram shimmered for a second, and they could see Aaron had changed; he was naked in this hologram. “Now that the first message is out of the way, I can tell you Directive sixty nine is now in effect.” Waggling his eyebrows, the hologram of Aaron chuckled, “I’ll let your minds stay in the gutter for about thirty seconds before continuing.”

 

The three of them laughed at that comment and relaxed. If Aaron was joking this could not be too serious.

 

“Alrighty then,” the hologram of Aaron smiled as the image of him across the room changed so they could see he was now relaxing on the couch Kevin was sitting on. “This message would be triggered by the sixty ninth scenario out of one hundred and twenty nine I came up with. Which means that I anchored the linked minds of all of our people; and I will be unconscious for at least a week, leaving no one in this time period, while I am not aware, that can directly control the CORE, except in the event of a reset being ordered, of course. No other orders that any of you would give would be obeyed by the CORE system, and because of how we have expanded, and met other space faring races, this situation is something that cannot be allowed to stand.”

 

Smiling, as if he was seeing the shocked looks on Kevin, Tim and Pete’s faces the hologram continued. “Now there is one sure fire way of fixing this solution, but this also would mean I would have to tell one of my most closely guarded secrets; and one of Aaron 1.0’s biggest mistakes, and the reason why there cannot be any random breakthrough of a Prime during alteration.”

 

“The three of you were the first I let into my heart,” the hologram of Aaron smiled at them. “This does not mean that the rest of my lovers in the Clan do not have a place in my heart, it just means out of all of my lovers you three have known me the longest and could tell what I would do in any given situation the best.” The hologram chuckled as if seeing the shock and blushes cross the three’s faces. “I know my statement just created an intense curiosity in the three of you, and each for different reasons.”

 

“When Aaron 1.0 and his scientists first discovered the ability to genetically modify our people, to give us our gifts, there was not as big of a random factor as there is now. Over half of the people altered were Primes…” the hologram paused when the CORE registered voices being spoken.

 

“Holy SHIT!!” Tim yelled as he looked at Kevin and Pete to see their shocked expressions.

 

Pete’s mind raced as he took in Aaron’s words and asked, even though he expected no answer, “Why the drastic change then?”

 

The hologram nodded proving that it was slightly interactive, shocking Kevin as he knew what type of programming was required to get to that level. “There is a very good reason why Aaron 1.0 tied our gifts into the gene clusters that determine if a person is gay or not. During the war they altered everyone, male or female; gay or straight. And it split the resistance to the point it broke several times. It had almost gotten to the point where they were going to turn on each other, using their gifts against one another instead of the enemy.”

 

“But you see,” the hologram of Aaron looked sad at what he was saying. “Aaron was the chief geneticist on the project, and early on he had taken his alteration to a higher level than anyone else’s. When he saw what was happening he lost his trust of heterosexuals, and because he was the strongest, power wise, out of all those altered he crushed the minds of every one of those rebelling with each other in one swift move. Since they had gathered together to hopefully hash out a resolution he was able to make it look like an enemy attack.”

 

“FUCK!!!” Kevin looked at the hologram in horror.

 

“After that he went to each of the early versions of our bio-tubes and did a genetic scan on the occupants. If the person inside being altered was straight he destroyed their mind.” The Hologram stared at the ceiling for a long moment, as if gathering his thoughts. “To ensure that the technique would not get out, he erased the minds of all the scientists involved in creating the alteration process so he was the only one who knew how to alter people. Then he did two things…”

 

“He went back to the drawing board, so to speak, and tied the gifts into the gene clusters that only gay people have,” the hologram of Aaron looked back at each of his lovers. “And then he tweaked the process so there could not be any other prime level Alteran unless they were born that way.”

 

“He made sure that our children could have the chance of gaining Prime status,” hologram Aaron told them. “It was a way to ensure that those who did develop into Primes were raised in our culture, the Alteran culture, instead of bringing the baggage of their being raised in the human culture with them.” The hologram stared at the three of them intensely, “All three of you are probably wondering several things. But topmost of those is why I am sharing this horrific past my previous version had?”

 

“Because, at the end of what I have to tell you, one of you will be given a choice,” hologram Aaron told them. “Now returning to the story of how he created our race. After what 1.0 considered the betrayal, they finished up with their ship building and moved to Mars. It was at this point the rebel faction, or freedom fighters as Aaron liked to think of themselves, split into two colonies. You see no one knew who had developed the process to alter humans, no one knew that the technology had not been lost; all they knew was that Aaron still possessed those gifts and hoped that they could convince him to breed with as many females as possible to infuse the gifts back into the race.”

 

Feeling disgusted at the thought of doing it with a female, Pete gagged, “That is just wrong.” Shuddering in horror at the thought of actually putting his favorite toy into a female he spat out, “Disgusting! Not that a gay person would be able to perform for that; maybe shoot off into a bottle.”

 

“And Aaron 1.0 agreed with your feelings, Pete,” hologram Aaron told them. The CORE sensing their shock relayed another canned response, “We’ll get to the fact I can be interactive with all of you later. Let’s just say it involves too many hours of sitting here recording every possible response that would be needed, and stretching my little skill with computers to the breaking point several times.”

 

“So during the years they built their cities on Mars, on opposite sides of the planet, mind you,” hologram Aaron smiled. “Aaron 1.0 built his city on the side of Mars that spent the most time facing away from Earth. During these years both cities sent plenty of rescue missions back to Earth, but Aaron’s missions always involved rescuing gay people. And when bringing those they rescued back to Mars, Aaron was secretly altering all those in his city. Though in the end it was not as secret as he thought it was, because the other city eventually found out. Instead of confronting him about it, they started to let some of their technological knowledge fall into enemy hands in the hopes of causing Aaron to need to alter more people to deal with renewed hostilities.”

 

“And it was this final betrayal that cemented in Aaron’s mind that Heterosexuals were only good for one thing.” Hologram Aaron winced as a disgusted look crossed his face, “So he changed the orders of those he rescued to include females of breeding age. And the newly christened Alteran people started to look to the stars for escape.”

 

Kevin was speechless, gazing at his two lovers he saw they too were affected, “I knew Aaron was ruthless, but his previous incarnation was ruthless to the extreme.”

 

“Yes he was,” hologram Aaron nodded in agreement. “And while his people turned to the stars and the search for a new home world, he immersed himself in finding a way to have children that did not involve keeping females to breed with. He had already tweaked the new genome so that they were in fact a new species, and their genes would be aggressively dominant, but now he needed a new way for his people to have children to ensure that they were not an evolutionary dead end.”

 

“After five years of intense research and experimentation he succeeded,” hologram Aaron smiled. “He already had bio-tubes, so smaller versions used as incubators were not the issue. What he needed to find out how to do was to create ova from male cells, or, in this case, create ova from abdominal cells.” Smiling sadly he continued, “By this point Aaron was feeling an immense guilt for the way he had treated the human females, and was prepared to release his new discovery to the other city to help with the problem they were having of low birth numbers, but once again he was betrayed.”

 

“You see, the others in city facing Earth became extremely jealous and envious of the power shown by Aaron’s people when they defended Mars from the Army of God’s bombs.” Aaron’s hologram sighed, “They had done the unthinkable, you see.  They made a deal with those on Earth to spare them if they gave them spaceships to erase the Abomination as the Earthers called Aaron and his people. Of course, the first target the Earthers bombed was the other city, but it set the stage for the final exodus from Earth’s system.”

 

“I think I have told you about how the undersea city on Earth could become a lifeboat,” Aaron smirked in Pete’s direction. “Just as I’m sure I know Pete knows how it works, because it was one of the first things he would have looked up.”

 

Kevin joined Tim in laughing at Pete’s expression, “He knows you well, love.”

 

“So the Alteran city launched itself from the surface of Mars and headed to the outer system boundary while they continued to develop new technology to help search for a new planet at a frantic rate. By the time they reached Pluto the Army of God had built a huge fleet of spaceships to chase down and destroy the Alteran city. This point in history was when Aaron’s people, who were thriving with thousands of children in the incubators, demanded that Aaron enact one final solution to their problem. They demanded he destroy the planet of their birth to ensure the children would survive.”

 

“I’m starting to see where our cultural mores come from,” Tim sounded thoughtful as he put the small snippets of information together in a different light.

 

“It’s interesting, isn’t it?” Aaron’s hologram mused as he answered Tim’s comment. “Without any outside interference we developed a culture that closely resembles those in timeline 1.0 developed.”

 

“The good news was, that using long range SE111s they discovered Centauri Prime, our home.” Hologram Aaron brought a knee up and wrapped his arms around it, “At the moment Aaron linked with every mind, and the first crude gestalt generator, to port them to Centauri Prime, he fired off several dozen Nova Bombs towards Sol System’s Sun.” Pausing for a moment, Aaron’s face turned harsh, “he made a big mistake in doing that.  He should have ported them to terminal distance in front of the sun. Because of how he set the missiles in motion he allowed the fleet to take shelter behind Jupiter, so when the sun went nova they were mostly protected. He ended up leaving forty thousand pissed off humans alive, bent on revenge.” Leaning back he closed his eyes, “Though that mistake is what allowed the reset to occur, and a new chance for all of us. It allowed all of us to find each other and to bond, making each of us a part of a greater whole.  It still was one of the worst decisions 1.0 ever made.”

 

“I need to wrap this up,” Hologram Aaron sighed as he looked up as if trying to figure out where he left off. “You already know the rest from viewing the racial secrets; BUT, there’s one point I was working towards. When the sensors they left behind in Sol system reported back that most of the fleet had survived, it caused Aaron to actively search Sol System to see what they were up to. He found to his horror that they were building generation ships and hard docking their warships to them. This is what caused the first linking of Consensus to occur. And this is where they came up with the idea of time travel and resetting the timeline to avoid what they had gone through. From that point they spent hundreds of years working to build the technology to travel back in time and to prepare for the contact and alteration of… me.”

 

“All of you have heard me curse to hell my previous self, and you have seen me have issues dealing with some of the memories he downloaded directly into my brain.” Hologram Aaron got up of the holographic couch and started to pace in front of his three lovers. “I was not that Aaron who ended up crossing the line of his morals, and yet, I can see that when push came to shove I would cross those lines to protect our people and the children.” Stopping and looking at the three of them he looked pained, “That is not an easy thought to carry in my head. And, for the most part, I’ve succeeded with Earth where my other version did not. I never had to cross that line… even though I have come closer to crossing it than I would like to admit to.”

 

“One last bit of information,” holographic Aaron looked at each of them. “Aaron 1.0 did not leave any hints of how to create a prime in the CORE or my mind, but he did leave the means to make one more Prime level Alteran.” Waving his arm around, the screen behind him split. The wall started to move aside to reveal a single old fashioned bio-tube, “I can alter one Alteran to make them a Prime, and, to my mind, the only ones I can trust not to let it go to their heads is one of my lovers… my Clan.”

 

“As I told you at the beginning of this recording, you three know how I would react to any given situation the best out of all my loves,” the hologram told them with a smile. “So I will give you two options: the first is to choose which of you enters that bio-tube and is elevated to Prime,” holding his hand up he grimaced. “I will warn you though, it will be a painful six hours. The other option is to give all of you, Kevin, Tim and Pete, command access authority of the CORE. This also will hurt like the dickens as the CORE links to your mind and takes an image, but the pain is brief and fleeting. The choice is yours, my loves.”

 

After staring at the hologram for several long minutes Kevin looked at Tim, and before he had a chance to say anything Tim backed away, waving his hands in a no way motion.

 

“No way, no how,” Tim stuttered when he saw Kevin look at him. “As much as it would be cool to be like Aaron, a Prime, I want nothing to do with it. Hell, you heard him, the history of the Primes that have come from humans instead of being born Alteran leads to a power struggle. Not going to happen to me!”

 

Seeing Kevin look at him, Pete’s expression turned horrified, “NO!!! Tim’s reason is enough for me, besides I’m comfortable with what I have and see no reason to have more.”

 

Kevin frowned because he had hoped one of them would volunteer. Then again, thinking about their reasons, he had to agree. Glancing down to the central hub and the rest of the Clan standing there listening in he must have stared at them a few minutes too long because Mark called out a negative.

 

“We might have come down here after you realized the message was not an emergency, and truly not meant for us to hear,” Mark started as he pulled Doug closer to him, “but I think I speak for all of us when I say we want nothing to do with what Aaron is offering. We have what we want…”

 

“Agreed,” Fred called out next. “We each have our dreams and more. Having an increase in our abilities does nothing to change that.”

 

Seeing nods from all of his lovers, even the new ones, Kevin nodded. Looking back at the hologram his next words caused it to smile, “There is not one of my lovers, not a single person in the Clan, who would take you up on your offer of being elevated to a Prime. As I think you knew,” Kevin relaxed seeing the knowing smile on Aaron’s face. “Although I can see why, after telling us this secret, you had to make the offer…”

 

“Especially since you could only offer it to one of us,” Pete added in. “And I know you well enough to know you would not even think about deciding to choose one of us over the other.”

 

“Giving Kevin command authority to the CORE is more than enough to cover all the bases, Aaron,” Tim told the hologram knowing the CORE would tailor the responses to what he said.

 

“Agreed,” Pete quickly piped in. “I don’t want CORE Authority access. Kevin’s the programmer and understands the CORE better out of any of us.”

 

Feeling the mental agreement from all of his lovers combined, Kevin sighed in defeat before agreeing, “I’ll do it.”

 

The hologram shimmered, and where Aaron once stood naked he now was dressed in his battle armor, crown glowing with power on his head, “So be it…” Pointing to a circle of light that appeared on the floor in front of the middle recliner he told Kevin, “Stand within the circle and repeat exactly back to the CORE how it identifies you.”

 

Waiting until Kevin had stepped into the circle, the hologram of Aaron stood serenely. Once Kevin was standing in the circle he started to speak, “Initiate reclassification, DNA profile Kevin Miller Stranton…”

 

“Reclassification commencing… holding for tier level authorization…”

 

“I was the first,” hologram Aaron said. “I was also the last; Alpha and Omega as Greek Scholars would tell their students as they taught them the alphabet. And now I am not the one. Alpha level access confirmed. I tell you three times…Reclassification…Alpha Level…Tier Alpha Omega.”

 

Kevin winced as he felt a presence invade his mind when Aaron said he was not the one, blinding pain hit him, vision going white as if staring at a bright light, he stumbled to one knee as the Core seized an image of his mind, tasted his worthiness.

 

“Reclassification complete…I hear you three times…Identify Kevin Miller Stranton father of the Crown Prince to be…”

 

Throwing a glare at the ceiling before looking back at the floor, Kevin repeated the identification as he vowed to find some way to get even with the CORE, “Kevin Miller Stranton father of the Crown Prince to be.”

 

As soon as the light went out Fred ported to Kevin’s side, scanner already out and reporting its findings.

 

Taking a deep breath Kevin lifted his head and smiled slightly, “I’m alright, Fred. Aaron was right, it hurt like the dickens at first, but it’s fading just as fast.” Taking another deep breath Kevin stood up when the sounds of trumpets sounded in the CORE chamber. Glaring at the ceiling, he knew how Aaron felt at being blindsided by the CORE. “Cory…Respond in voice command mode…”

 

“Active… Awaiting your commands,” the Core’s more human interface acknowledged the order.

 

Hugging Fred, because he cared and worried over all of them, Kevin smiled before ordering what he knew would ensure a reset if something happened to Aaron. “Cory… Destroy the bio-tube chamber housing the Prime conversion protocols… Erase all information on the existence of the Prime alteration bio-tube… Erase all information pertaining to the secrets Aaron disclosed in this chamber to us from the logs… I tell you three times…”

 

“Alpha level command acknowledged…”

 

“Standby… Standby…”

 

A bright flash of light came from the chamber where the old fashioned bio-tube was housed. Several MCAs had flown over and started to recycle everything in the chamber, destroying the ability to make one more Prime through artificial means.

 

“I hear you three times… Commands complete…”

 

Turning and facing his smiling lovers, Kevin pathed to them, “As Aaron said, we complete each other. We know deep in our hearts that we are loved. We are Clan… and we are better because of it.”

 

Seeing a new hologram appear in front of all of them it became clear it was a live feed. The feed from the med bay showed Aaron resting comfortably on the bio-bed with a smile on his face.

 

“I think we should head back up before our sons finish their tutor session and go looking for us,” Richard told them as he gazed lovingly at the image.

 

Nodding his head in agreement, Kevin was the last to port out. Though the feeling of responsibility that had settled on his shoulders weighed heavy, he knew it was only for a week. Plus he might finally be able to fulfill the request Aaron made while they still lived on Earth, he might finally be able to get the Core to hand over a list of all the directives and protocols that 1.0 had programmed in.

 

--

 

 “Deozhnera,” one of the numerous aides to the Nine came rushing into the room intent on getting the news to her before the Nine could leave. Stopping in the center of the room, one of the only places lit up except for those nine circles, he tried to catch his breath.

 

“Aschen,” Deozhnera focused on the aide, who not only was out of breath but looked horrified.

 

Bowing his head Aschen calmed himself long enough to tell the news. “The forces of Darkness have destroyed the Humans’ off world colonies. The remaining refugees are being hunted down as they flee towards their home world.”

 

Staring, unblinking, as the horrific words sank in, Deozhnera gripped the staff tighter to keep from showing how shocked the news had left her. Shaking off her shock she glared over her shoulder at the warrior clan leaders, “Once again you have proven to be wrong.”

 

The sounds of boots walking on deck plate sounded loud in the silence, “You were right to push for us to go to the Humans’ aid, Deozhnera.” Walking into the light the Mizhine was clad in full warrior regalia. “For with the fall of the Humans there is no buffer between our worlds and those from the uncharted deeps.”

 

“Kaukot,” Deozhnera turned to face the First Warrior when she heard his voice speak.

 

Holding up one hand to stop her from saying what he knew she was going to, “I understand your reasoning and, while I might not have agreed with your views, I did agree with the principle that we needed to go to the Humans’ aid when they were attacked, unprovoked.”

 

Nodding her head sideways in acknowledgement of thanks, Deozhnera ignored the Nine as she gave the Warrior caste their orders, “Kaukot, is the fleet ready?”

 

“As always Deozhnera,” Kaukot sounded amused as his gaze caused some of the Nine to flinch.

 

“Then send them,” Deozhnera moved to stand in front of the large framed warrior and gazed into his eyes as if testing his resolve. “Secure what is ours, and then… then we will exact retribution for those who dare to attack our children.”

 

Bowing his head slowly, Kaukot backed away with head still bowed, “As you command, Deozhnera.” Whirling around so his cloak swept behind him the sounds of his boots hitting the deck plate was the only thing the Nine heard as they noticed that Deozhnera had also left.

--

Holding his hand up and closing it into a fist, Lieutenant Williams scanned the area around the barracks for any sign they had been noticed. Not hearing or seeing anything he looked over his shoulder at his team and, with two fingers stabbing towards his eyes, he pointed to several of his infiltration team before making a circular motion he ended it with his finger pointing to one side of the barracks. Knowing his team would follow his hand signals, he pointed to two more of his team to stay with him while pointing the rest of them to the other barracks.

 

Waiting until he was sure that his team so far had gone unnoticed, he slung his MP5 over his shoulder as he double checked the loads in the specially designed tranquilizer rifle. Slamming the clip home he started the slow duck walk towards the low windows of the barracks in front of them. He knew without looking his team would be doing the same as he and, as he approached the barracks, he could just make out the soft whoosh of a tranquilizer gun being fired. Rifle at the ready position, he led with the barrel as he snuck a peak into the building.  Spotting several of his team with the infra-red visor covering his face he smiled as Thomson moved silently through the barracks, weapon softly whooshing as he moved back and forth sending all the occupants to dreamland.

 

Back to the wall of the barracks, he glanced around as he strained to hear any sound that would indicate they had been found out. Not hearing anything he pumped his fist up and down twice before making for the next barracks. If everything went as planned they would be able to move through the camp in an hour or less, making sure that they sent to dreamland every single teen recruit.  The tricky part would be, once they had everyone knocked out, they needed to secure them and then load them into the specially designed vehicles that would allow them to cram as many as possible into the restraining seats, and still allow them enough room to breathe freely. Coming up on the next building, he concentrated fully on the task at hand as he slipped silently into the bathroom window, finger curling on the trigger on instinct as he felt a presence in the room. Scanning the area he was pleased to note that, not only had he hit the target dead center, but after staring through the open door into the barracks that no one noticed anything wrong.

 

Muzzle leading the way he swept the room in a back and forth motion, each time the muzzle of his rifle crossed over one of the sleeping teens his finger tightened around the trigger sending another dart full of sedative into action. Stopping in the middle of the room he ejected the clip and silently pushed the next clip home before moving on. Reaching the end of the barracks he scanned the room with a practiced eye, double checking to make sure every bed had a dart moving up and down as the person it was sticking out of slept the sleep of the drugged.

 

Checking his watch he motioned for his squad mate to let the follow up team into the building. Waiting until the team made its way into the building he nodded silently as The Russian Staff Sergeant pulled a handful of zip ties out of his pocket and quickly bound the drugged teens. Checking his watch again as he motioned for his second to take point, he switched back to his MP5 since he was out of tranquilizer darts.

 

Glancing at the large monitors that showed the same scene being played out in fifteen different locations, Morimoto was uncomfortable. While what they were doing was needed and, if he thought about it, more than justified, watching the images on the screen in all their grayed out glory was a slippery slope that he was not sure he could ever be comfortable witnessing. Seeing the drugged teens being carried out of the buildings to be strapped into hard point harnesses in the back of the trucks which had moved into the complexes a few minutes ago reminded him of packing sardines into those little cans.

 

Leaning forward so she could see the image from one of the SAS team leader’s head camera clearer, Victoria nodded before she sat back in her seat. All precautions looked like they were being taken care of then.  The teens were being carefully secured in the back of the lorries into a contraption that reminded her of those thrill ride carts. The teen was being placed into a seat and a ‘U’ shaped bar was brought down over the teens head and locked into place securing the main torso to the back of the seat. She watched as the SAS officer then secured the teen’s hands to the front of the chest bar before securing the teen’s thighs to the seat. She thought it would be rather difficult if not impossible for the teen to move if the drug wore off early. “Where did those contraptions that our teams are securing the children in come from?”

 

“That would be my doing, your Majesty,” General Strathmore answered from the communication link. “We had been developing rapid deployment pods that could secure our troops during re-entry of a damaged space craft. One of the Scientists on the team is a rabid coaster fan, you see. So I am sorry to say that I stripped all the equipment from our local amusement park rides, and had the parts fast welded onto the Lorry frames. The prisoners will be quite secure and, if something were to happen to the Lorry, well, unless it was blown up, those kids will survive with barely a scrape.”

 

“I see,” Victoria nodded in understanding as she thought about what her armed forces commander told her. “I expect the parks will be quite cross with us then.”

 

Laughter could be heard as General Strathmore replied, “I think the parks were right chuffed to help out, after all it was their people who did most of the welding on the lorries.”

 

Gorbivonovich made careful note of the back of the trucks.  With some modification he thought it would be the perfect restraint system in their planned space craft.

 

“Echo Nine to Command,” a voice from the speakers interrupted any further contemplation. “Target location pacified. Zero, I repeat zero casualties. Intel was incorrect; target location does not house any females or pre-teens. Moving to secondary location after re-supply; ETA two hours to kickoff.”

 

Steepling his fingers as he sat back listening to each of the teams reporting in turn, Premier Woo thought long and hard about the intelligence reports that had been presented to them that morning before the kickoff of operations. He just knew there was something he had overheard that might be the clue they were looking for, that would explain why no females at those bases. “General Chen…” Voice trailing off he chased down the thought he had once overheard soon after the war with the old U.S. “If my memory serves me right, those who are part of this terrorist organization consider females below them.” He would be damned if he would acknowledge those terrorists as a religious organization. “I believe I once overheard a conversation as I walked through Sol Station that these terrorists consider women to be nothing but a means to produce more sons. So my question is, where are they getting all these teens from?”

 

Startled by the question, Jens looked closer at the live streaming video of the teens being secured into the trucks. “Commander, have one of the ground officers turn on a light so we can get a good clear close up of the prisoners’ faces.”

 

“Command to Rover Niner Seven,” the communications officer hurried to comply with his King’s orders. “Day light and scan slowly each face.”

 

Victoria’s indrawn breath was quite loud in the suddenly silent room. Each of the teens being spotlighted with the hand torch was not a native from the country where they had been captured. A silent chill ran up and down her back as she took in the clearly Caucasian faces, something she had not given thought of for years rose to the surface. “We never did account for all the Nazis after the war.”

 

“VHAT??” Gorbivonovich turned to face Victoria, his scream of surprise accenting his Russian accent to the extreme.

 

Victoria pointed to the screen, “Someone has been building an army that is influenced by that madman’s dreams. The real question is where have they gotten all those teens from? The facial characteristics of these teens are not those of that region.”

 

“If we look at the figures worldwide,” Jens started to say as he figured it out. “Worldwide there must be thousands of reports of missing children each year. Children that are never found.”

 

“Yes,” Morimoto nodded in agreement. “These are the type of people who would do just that, a quick way to increase their numbers without having to take the time to father them themselves. And as we have just seen…” he pointed at the monitors showing the faces of drugged younger teens being spotlighted for the camera’s before being loaded into trucks for transport to the pickup zone. “Those youngsters are being raised military style. I’m sure if we looked hard enough we would find the graveyards of those that did not survive the indoctrination.”

 

“Do we have pictures of the leaders of those camps?” Victoria asked as she looked around for someone to ask to have the teams answer.

 

“Break… All Rover Teams… Break,” The communication officer did not have to be asked as he called for a change of orders. “All Rover Teams… Imperative that we have live feed of those in charge of the camps.”

 

Woo watched carefully as the teams on the ground quickly moved to comply with their new orders. He had to hand it to each of the team leaders, the multinational teams were working together seamlessly, which just showed how highly trained they were. Watching the monitor of the team that was first to subdue their camp, he watched the crazy jangling angle of the camera as the team leader rushed the command bunker. Once inside he swore as he saw that those in charge were barely out of their teen years, if at all.

 

“Shit,” the voice came over the speaker, “most of these guys don’t look old enough to shave, let alone be in charge of this setup.”

 

“We must not make war on children,” Woo stated as he pointed at the image. “That is obviously a child. Are there no adults in those camps?”

 

“It does not look like it, comrade,” Gorbivonovich replied slowly as he pulled some of the intelligence reports across the table to go through them again.

 

“What have the forward scouts reported about the enemy complement at the main bases?” Morimoto asked as he took several of the reports from the pile to rescan the information.

 

“Change the satellite feed to the one passing over the enemy bases,” Jens ordered as he too started to go back through the intelligence reports looking for clues.

 

“Please zoom in on screen four,” Victoria asked after spotting several people milling around the guard post.

 

All five of them stared at the screen as the operator zoomed in on the people. While young, the soldiers were clearly adults. With a sigh of relief they relaxed just a fraction knowing they would not be attacking those that were underage.

 

Several hours later, just as the sun had cleared the horizon, the five stood in front of the television camera that had to be dusted off waiting for the signal to begin.

 

All across the world news anchors interrupted regularly scheduled programming as their producers whispered frantically in their anchor’s ear buds about the emergency signal and placard message.

 

Finally the red light on top of the camera lit up and Victoria’s voice went cold, “Less than forty eight hours ago the five Colonization Leaders were called to witness Judgment by the people of Altare.”

 

“I will remind all the world leaders of the day we all came together because of the criminal actions of top business leaders in killing one of the Beastmasters’ children.” Gorbivonovich took over, “I warned all of you that it would be the people of Altare we needed to reach out to and prove we were not like those who would torture a child. I warned you that, at some point, the King of Altare would bow to his people’s demands.”

 

“And with the Judgment that our countries’ people witnessed, that almost prophetic warning has come to pass,” Morimoto stared at the camera unblinking as he spoke.

 

“We sat through hours of testimony by both children the Alterans had rescued and their own people,” Woo stepped forward. “And what was the cause of this Judgment being called for?”

 

“The Army of God that Aaron and his people invaded a country to save the rest of the world from is not as destroyed as we thought,” Jens was the one to drop the bombshell.

 

“As I sat through all the damning testimony several things became clear to me,” Woo told the world. “We as people of Earth love lip service more than doing what is right, or what we promise to do.”

 

Checking the screen off camera Victoria nodded in satisfaction as she saw the assault had started, “Thirty seconds ago the combined military might of the Five Coalition Countries have launched a pre-emptive strike on the last bases of the terrorist organization known as the Army of God.”

 

“The Bases are located in several countries in the Central and South American Region,” Gorbivonovich added as his accent become thick once more.

 

“In the pleas of all those who came before the King and clans,” Woo told them, “two options were spoken by Aaron’s people. The first to sink the landmasses those hidden bases were located on, which would have killed off one third of the Earth’s population. The second was to evacuate the Colonization Coalition Countries off world and blockade Earth while you destroyed yourselves in the Chaos that would follow.”

 

Stretching slowly to get the kink out of his leg, Woo gave them a moment for those two options to sink into their minds before continuing. “Then a few started to give testimony pleading for caution, to not mark us all with the same brush stroke as those who would torture and abuse others for pleasure or gain. I had started to have hope that there might be another way… then in walked a young man who had lost everything.”

 

“Into that circle walked the one person who smashed all hope for any sentence but the total obliteration of all Humans on Earth,” Woo struggled with his emotions even now after hearing the boy’s plea. “His words were a call for vengeance. For people from Earth had taken in his words ‘my everything’, ‘the one who made the sun rise in my heart’”.  Swallowing loudly he got control of his emotions so he could continue, “At this point I knew, deep in my heart, we would be a small footnote in history as most of those who testified consider humans an infestation on their world.”

 

“It was at this point I walked into that circle, not caring that I could be killed for interrupting their Judgment,” Woo stared unseeing at the camera as he re-lived that single moment. “I gave my word to that young man who had everything taken from him by humans… our people. I vowed to give him vengeance where his people had only given him justice.”

 

“Premier Woo and the rest of us stood up and declared war on those who the Alterans call the enemy of Humanity.” Morimoto stepped forward to stand next to his emotional comrade. “Each of us declared war on those who refer to themselves as ‘The Army of God’, and no national border will stop us as we hunt each and every one of them down and remove them from the gene pool.”

 

“Our troops have already started to remove the threat,” Victoria saw from the monitors behind the camera that they were well into the attack and winning. “If any military or police officer’s of the countries where the threat to Humanity is hiding interferes, we will invade in force. That country will fall.”

 

“The Alterans are a strange people by our standards,” Jens diverted the conversation to give the people time to process the warning. “When they give their word it is sacred to them. We,” motioning so the camera would pick up the wave of his arm to encompass the viewer, “gave our word to the Alterans after one of their own was taken and tortured… to death.”

 

“And we intend to see to it that it is kept,” Morimoto snapped out.

 

“There are those in the governments where we are taking action against the enemy that have been lied too.” Gorbivonovich told them. “Whether by leaders, or those that report to their leaders, lies have been spoken. And enemies to all the people of Earth have been allowed to fester unmolested… that ends at this moment.”

 

“The coalition Leadership herby orders every leader of each country in the world to a conference,” Jens who had been the spokesman for that day moved in front of everyone. “At this conference once again a vow will be taken; your word will be given to uphold adult ideals. And this time it will be before a telepath, who will scan you for truthfulness. All those who fail this test will be removed from the gene pool and the next in line to lead their country shall be given the choice to give their word and mean it.”

 

“Those countries that refuse this should know;” Victoria’s televised image scared the dickens out of every person who saw it. For she was not the gently leader, the grandmother everyone could call their own, at that moment. No, instead she was a ruthless leader who would see her will done. “Ignore this order at your own peril, for we are at war and our sights can easily be directed elsewhere.”