Chapter 06

 

 

                                           

 

 

Aaron looked up from the center station where he had been working on answering emails and studying the replies of the first phone interviews that he had sent to Joe, it seemed that roughly half of them would be on their way to San Francisco for a face to face interview. In fact it looked like the interviews would take two days, seeing Kenny sitting next to his brother quietly whispering to him, Aaron noticed the time, it was time for them to get a move on. Standing up, he made his way to Kenny’s side, “You know three of these guys are going to be released tomorrow afternoon, so you will have some new neighbors upstairs, well, at least in the beginning, until they decide if they want to stay here or go back and take their chances with other family or on their own.”

 

 

Kenny smiled as he looked over to the three younger boys in the bio-tubes “Do you think they might want to be friends, father never allowed us to have friends” leaning forward, he whispered, “I think he was frightened about what might happen if anyone found out how he treated his own sons.” Standing up after looking up at the clock, Kenney leaned over the bio-tube and kissed the plexi right above his brothers face, “I will see you tomorrow, big brother, right now I am going on an adventure to help some little boys, just like the stories that you used to read to me before bedtime.”

 

 

Rubbing his eyes before the tears had a chance to take hold, Aaron silently followed Kenny out of the trauma pod as he led the way to the arrival area. Stopping outside the doorless entry, Kenny looked around and spotted the crest, built into the ground and pointed, “That is just like the books David used to help me read, the ones we snuck into the house, telling stories of magical places and people with special…” Kenny’s eyes got real big as he glanced up and stared at Aaron who had his arm held out for him to grab onto. Placing his hand gently on the arm he blinked as they ported, “Maybe that lady writer had the real story to begin with.”

 

 

Aaron chose not to answer or comment, as he ported them directly into his office and walked over to the only chair in the whole circular room, and instead of sitting down, he reached to the side of the chair and pushed a button, exposing two flat metal plates near the end of the arms, placing his hands on the ends, he felt the power start to build in the fusion reactor deep inside the mountain. “Now might be a good time to hold onto me, Kenny, I have almost pulled enough power so I don’t have to use any of my own to get us there, after all, it is halfway around the world.” Aaron smiled at his tired joke as Kenny quickly jumped over to where Aaron was standing next to his chair, placed both hands around Aaron’s waist, and in a blink of the eye, the only sound in the room was the covers once again hiding the metal panels as they ported out of the room.

 

 

Arriving in his cabin on the Alteran Prince, Aaron smiled, as he had used none of his own power and surprisingly found it had energized his energy levels. He felt invigorated, hopefully it would cut down on his recovery time, if so, he knew he would be installing small fusion plants in key locations in the future, might be a good idea anyway, he thought. “Welcome to my cabin onboard the Alteran Prince,” Looking at the awe on Kenny’s face as he walked around the cabin, “let’s go to the bridge where you can meet Chris again, this time when you are awake,” He chuckled before sending a brief mental message, “Chris, Kenny and I are on board and on our way up to the bridge.”

 

 

Kenny, who was at the window looking out at the ocean at night, nodded his head and followed Aaron to the door.

 

 

Stopping outside his door, Aaron pointed to the blank black panel on the wall next to the doorframe, “If you place your hand on the panel, it will light up with a map of the Prince so you can find your way around.”

 

 

Kenny moved over so he could put his hand on the panel; reaching up he placed his hand on it and smiled as it lit up, showing the passageway with a you are here flag blinking, tracing a finger along the path of the ship to the bridge he nodded his head in pleasure at how simple it was to work the controls, for as his finger moved along the map the picture changed, showing him the new decks as his finger went upwards.

 

 

“The stairs are over this way and we have to go up three decks to reach the bridge,” Aaron pointed over his shoulder before turning and following Kenny, who had taken off in the direction he pointed.

 

 

Kenny stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked behind him, “Man look at all of these steps, how come we did not just teleport to the bridge?” thinking for a moment, he answered his own question, “is this more of that it is rude to do it that way stuff?”

 

 

“Except in an emergency, it is bad manners to just port in where ever we wanted; what if by porting in, we distracted someone on the bridge at the wrong moment? Aaron smiled back at the puzzled expression on the youngsters face, “plus, if I ported everywhere I wanted, I might become lazy and get fat.” He pinched his sides to check to see if he had gotten fat, causing Kenny to giggle before running up the stairs screaming back “me too.”

 

 

Aaron started up the steps smiling, on the surface, Kenny seemed to be adjusting well, unfortunately, he knew that he still had a lot to work through, after all, he had nine years of that bastard training him. Picking up the pace and taking the steps two at a time, he had to work to keep Kenny in sight, luckily when he reached the top of the steps, Kenny was standing there looking through the door. He had waited for him, instead of running right in. placing a hand on Kenny’s shoulder he escorted him onto the bridge while calling out, “Hey Chris, how long until we go to station keeping?”

 

 

Having been warned ahead of time that Aaron was on board, Chris was not surprised when the little tyke walking in along with his boss separated from Aaron so he could gaze in wonder at all the controls, “Your just in time, we are two minutes from station keeping and there are two choppers inbound; the first has the boys, while the second contains the parents and the doc you invited…I think the guy's boss is on it also.” Shrugging it off as unimportant who was on the choppers, as they had the correct pass codes, “Carl is already down at the med bay getting a couple of gurneys to the elevator.” Looking over towards Kenny who had climbed onto the communications station chair so he could gaze out the window, “Hey sport, what’s say you help me out here while the boss goes off to help in the med bay, afterwards we will make our way down to see everyone?”

 

 

Kenny looked over towards Aaron pleading with his eyes to be allowed to stay on the bridge. Laughing, Aaron smiled, “Go ahead and stay with Chris, Kenny, he can even teach you how to park this tub” he laughed at the pained expression on Chris’s face, as Chris yelled, “Hey," before winking at him as he noticed Kenny trying to hide his giggles behind his hands.

 

 

Seeing the blinking lights in the distance approaching, Chris touched a control and the Prince lit up like a Christmas tree, while the landing pad became bathed in light with a circle of lights blinking around the edge. Looking back up to tell Aaron that they were almost here, he saw he had already ported out.

 

 

Porting directly to the landing pad, Aaron walked over towards Carl who was inside the elevator, doors open waiting for the chopper to land, extending the mic down, Aaron tapped it twice opening a channel so he could listen in on the radio traffic.

 

 

“Med Evac two nine to Alteran Prince on final approach; be advised this will be a hot landing.” The voice crackled over the channel.

 

 

Reaching up to tap the side of his head where the communicator was, Aaron glanced at the panel near the door, “Med Evac two nine, this is the Alteran Prince, wind is two five miles out at heading three seven nine, I repeat wind is twenty five miles landing is confirmed to be hot. Please advise are you coming in code patients.” Aaron crossed his fingers as Carl inhaled sharply.

 

 

Another voice was heard over the radio, “Negative on code patients,” then more informally, “But it is only a matter of minutes.”

 

 

Motioning for Carl to grab the second cart, Aaron saw the chopper hovering off to one side, “Med Evac one, land that thing NOW!  The pad is stable.”

 

 

Even before the chopper had fully landed, Aaron followed by Carl, was pushing the carts out of the elevator towards the back hatch on the medical helicopter, heads down to avoid some of the downdraft form the rotors. They made it to the back hatch, just as the wheels touched down. Banging on the back hatch Aaron was impatient for them to open it and practically ripped it open as the hatch clicked after the locks were released. Finding the latch to the stretcher, Aaron released it just as the onboard medic dropped the IV bags on the stretcher and motioning for him to follow the stretcher out, Aaron started to pull the stretcher onto the gurney, slow enough that the medic could keep up with the artificial ventilations of his AMBU bag. Pushing the gurney along the chopper so as not to get close to the tail rotor, Aaron handed the gurney off to Carl and pulled the empty one over, so he could repeat the performance with the other stretcher. Once the toddler was secure, Aaron quickly joined Carl in the elevator and elbowed the door button closing the doors and starting their rapid descent two decks to the med bay.

 

 

While they were descending, Aaron and Carl worked to quickly apply the sensors while pulling off the leads and pads that the hospital had used, by the time the door opened, they had both boys stripped and were working on applying the gel to the boys' right elbows in preparation for the IV setup. As soon as the door opened, they rushed the gurneys over to the two prepped bio-tubes, leaving behind a trail of equipment on the elevator floor.

 

 

Mandy, the flight nurse that was providing artificial ventilation on the toddler was about to make a scathing comment about removing all the monitoring equipment, but when a panel at the foot of the gurney popped up, and started scrolling information that was more detailed then what their equipment was capable of, she held her tongue, seeing the BIOX level was only eighty two, she increased the timing of her ventilations, hyperventilating the boy in the hopes of increasing his blood oxygen level.

 

 

Stopping the gurney near the open bio-tube, Aaron looked at the flight nurse, “We need to get him in the bio-tube, and leave all this shit behind, once he is in the bio-tube the ventilator connection is to the left side of his head, once it is connected, move out of the way of the lid as it will seal itself pretty quick, once I get the new IV line in.”

 

 

Waiting until she nodded her head, Aaron quickly ripped the IV line out of the boy's arm, trying to be as gentle as possible, so as not to cause more damage, while locking eyes with her, counted down, “On three, one…two…lift” lifting the boy off the stretcher, Aaron and the flight nurse gently lowered him into the bio-tube and he quickly snapped the open elbow collar around the right elbow as the nurse attached the ventilator connection, before moving back a step and calling out “Clear.”

 

 

Uncovering the red button, Aaron pushed it home, causing the lid to slide back and seal as the bio-tube rapidly flushed the air out replacing it with the regen fluid, within seconds, the tube was filled and the boy was floating gently in the middle of the tube, completely surrounded by the fluid. Moving to the monitor, Aaron started to scan the reports on the wall as he tapped out commands on the small screen between the tube end and the wall. Increasing the regen fluid being injected along with the fluid in the IV, Aaron tapped the command administering a second unit of nanites, while listening with half an ear so to speak, as Carl talked his way through the procedure.

 

 

Carl had his toddler in the tube and started the cycle and knowing that this was the first time he had done this on his own, started to verbalize everything he was doing “Cycle initiated, emergency scan complete…Heart stressed and functioning at eighty percent...Brain mostly undamaged, just slightly hypoxic according to the readouts.”

 

 

By this time, the parents of the two boys, along with the others had entered the med bay and were standing just out of range, watching in amazement as the two worked while the boys floated in something out of the movies, and science fiction movies at that.

 

 

Carl looked up at the warning beep as the screen changed on the monitor, “SHIT I have a liver fracture…no, check that, the lower lobe of this kid's liver was being held together with hope, it is mush, and bleeding out, the spleen is also bleeding out.” He called out, letting a little panic enter his voice.

 

 

Glancing over his shoulder and seeing the bio-tube was prepped just like his, for surgical intervention, Aaron stepped around the flight nurse hovering by the console, and made his way over “Switch patients, Carl, concentrate on tracing back the pulmonary blockage, his lungs are not getting the blood flow they should be getting, that is the cause of the decreased blood oxygen level, after that, concentrate on rib repair.” Aaron pulled the gloves off the cart as an older gray haired man moved to the other side of the tube from him and offered to help, “I can glove up if you need another hand, oh, Dr. Theodore Myers at your service, Dr. Stranton.”

 

 

Giving it a brief thought, Aaron nodded his head as he removed the tray of surgical instruments from the airlock at the end of the bio-tube. Glancing around, he noticed the flight medic still standing off to the side as Dr. Myers moved to stand across from him. “Not to be rude or anything, but if you are going to be sticking around, I can use your help to be my eyes on the monitor while we are busy.” Seeing the man jump as his eyes locked with him as he realized he was the one being spoken to, he rushed over to the side of the bio-tube nearest the monitor.”Thanks, I will talk you through what needs to be done; you just need to keep your eyes on several different readings for me,” smiling at the serious nod he received he added, “just relax, everything is going to be fine, as long as the heart and brain are fine, we can re-grow or fix the rest.”

 

 

Myers looked up suddenly at that statement and narrowed his eyes, as he heard the indrawn breaths from the parents and the whisper of “Prometheus” from the father of the two toddler’s boss.

 

 

Glancing back in time to see Dr. Stranton push a button on the top of the panel over the tube, he noticed the movement of servo’s inside the tube and glanced back up as he noticed that as Aaron, if he remembered correctly, flexed his fingers, so did the artificial hands inside the tank.

 

 

“Ok flight medic, the first thing you have to learn to recognize is this: on the same line as the word nanite, there are two numbers separated by a slash. If the second number drops to five thousand or below, you need to use the stylus, which you should pick up and hold onto, and tap the word Nanite gently once, that will administer another unit of nanites into the bloodstream, ten thousand per unit. The screen is laid out in three main sections with the far right being the pharmaceutical side and underneath the listing is the word 'administer', which is the command, so if I tell you to administer something, you tap the command then the action you want to happen.” Changing students, Aaron glanced at Dr. Myers “Dr. Myers…can I call you Theo, oh and call me Aaron.”

 

 

“Of course, my boy, or Aaron, I agree; let’s not be stuffy it takes too long, especially as it slows down the work.” Dr. Myers grinned.

 

 

“Fine with me; now the first thing you need to know…” Aaron glanced over at the medic who was busy watching the monitor screen on the wall and looking back down at the terminal, ‘we use instruments slightly different than you are used to using,” Aaron picked up the cellular scalpel and made a large reverse Y incision, to the raised eyebrows on Theo’s face “skin is easily and quickly repaired, but I need room to work in here. This is a cellular scalpel, and unlike your bladed variety you are used to using, this one breaks the cellular bonds cleanly, so when we go to fuse the skin back together, it will be without any scaring.” He instructed as he opened the flaps of the abdomen up, to a wash of pink as the regen fluid hit the abdominal cavity and mixed with the blood leaking out of the of the fractured and ruptured organs.

 

 

“Carl, how goes tracing back the blockage?” Aaron asked, as it had been awfully quiet over at the other bio-tube.

 

 

“Dr. Stranton, the BIOX levels are dropping fast,” the medic called out as he looked at the main screen.

 

 

“Listen carefully and tap in this order,” Aaron said, as he grabbed another instrument and dissected the damaged section of the liver from the healthy section, or at least the section that did not look like mashed potatoes. “Administer, then meds, then choose IV and hit the letter R.”

 

 

“Right, 'administer',” John tapped the screen and saw the word become highlighted before going to the top and tapping 'meds', which changed the screen to an alphabet “meds and then…R…done.”

 

 

Concentrating on sealing the blood vessels, Aaron floated the damaged section of the liver out of the abdominal cavity as he quickly sealed the rest of the tiny bleeders with concentrated nanites, programmed for blood vessel damage and nothing else. “Scroll through the list, until you find Regen Fluid three percent oxygenated, and then tap on that one, a new screen will pop up and give you the option of activate or cancel; tap activate….Carl, what is the BIOX reading on that little guy?”

 

 

Mandy, who was standing to one side watching closely spoke up, “Ninety one percent, it is up three points.” And Carl, with a smile to the flight nurse, “I found three sections of pulmonary artery that are at least seventy percent blocked, it is going to be at least another twenty minutes before the blockages are eliminated and blood is flowing without hindrance.”

 

 

“Nurse, if you relocate to the center console, you will find a station that is slaved into the Bio-tube Carl is working on, and you can help out by giving him a hand, administering the medications so he can concentrate on the blockage.” Aaron, satisfied that the liver was at least under control, moved over to the spleen and continued to demonstrate the advanced tools to Theo.

 

 

Mandy moved over to the center desk and, seeing that the right station was the one slaved to the bio-tube she was watching; she sat down, picked up the stylus and called out that she was ready and her eyes roamed the screen as she followed the rapid fire instructions, issued by Dr. Carl, as she eagerly tapped away the instructions into the computer.

 

 

“‘Right then, medic, you need to find the center screen on the console, it will have an image of the abdominal cavity on it and underneath, the word 'procedure'.” Aaron then explained to Theo, “the second tool I am using is filled with pre programmed nanite’s who’s only job is to seal off blood vessels, they do it in such a way that later, when we re-grow the damaged sections they are able to match the sections up for a perfect fit.”

 

 

“Sir, my name is John and I have found the section you asked me to, and the BIOX level is now stable at ninety five percent.” John told him, as he glanced at the readouts, before his hand hovered over the touch screen.

 

 

“Ok, John it is, now what you need to do is touch 'procedure' and then as tight as you can, draw an outline around the liver on the screen, before tapping, inside the outline, once that happens, another menu will pop up and you will need to chose the option that says 're-growth' instead of 'regenerate', then activate it. If a screen pops up warning that you do not have enough nanite’s, tap 'administer' then 'nanite', twice, since you are in the process of a command routine.” Aaron glanced up at the main screen and nodded his head towards it, so Theo would follow along.

 

 

A loud beeping could be heard form Carl’s station, and the nurse called out, “I have a warning of a thoracic aneurysm lower, descending Aorta.”

 

 

Carl looked up with panic in his eyes towards Aaron, who nodded his head and smiled in a reassuring way, “Well Theo, you wanted to get your hands wet, now’s your chance, as I can’t be in two places at once.” Aaron gazed at him, to see him smile and nod his head.

 

 

Walking quickly over to the other station, Theo looked at the cart next to the panel and pulled on the gloves, once they were on and secure, he hit the same button he had noticed Aaron do earlier, and smiled when he saw the Servo hands follow along with his flexing fingers he reached over to the airlock door, like he had seen Aaron do and opened it, to pull his own tray of instruments out, and picking up the cellular scalpel, he opened the toddlers chest and lower abdomen with a very large double Y incision, he agreed it was better to have full access than not enough room, especially in one so small. Seeing Carl relax, He concentrated on exposing and finding the aneurysm, so it could be repaired.

 

 

“Procedure activated, BIOX Now at ninety seven percent, though blood glucose levels are at the lower end of the range indicator and the white count is rising,” John sounded confused as he studied the readouts.

 

 

“Alrighty, let’s administer some dextrose. So just like before when you administered Regen fluid, just choose dextrose bolus, twenty five milligrams, once that is activated let's work on administering some gamma goblin, to help fight the infection, while you are at it, what is the numerical percentage next to the liver status readout?” Aaron asked, as he tried one last time to seal the spleen before deciding to remove it and re-grow it later.

 

 

Quickly tapping the sequence to administer the dextrose, John glanced up and scanned the screen quickly for the information, not finding it where he thought it should have been, he looked from left to right on the screen and finally found it in the lower left hand corner, “Forty nine percent.”

 

 

Finished and capturing the section of free floating liver and placing it in the basket with the spleen, Aaron looked up to see the quizzical expression on the flight medics face, “I removed almost half of the liver and it is stressed out and bruised deeply, so it is to be expected to be that low.” Placing the instruments on the tray, he waved his hand to move the regen fluid around the abdominal cavity, to flush any stray debris or blood out of the way. “Now, before I get any further, I want you to program the system to automatically administer nanite’s as needed, because after I close up, I am going to give a hand to Theo, or at least let him borrow my mind and you can move to the center console and its slaved controls, so you can sit down.” Aaron instructed, as he picked up the cellular fuser and started to close the wounds.

 

 

“In the upper left hand corner, you will see the word 'Autodoc', tap it once, then the word 'administer' then 'Nanite', after that, a numerical touch pad will pop up, then tap in five thousand, then 'activate'. What that does is have the computers monitor the nanite’s and automatically administer another dose when the threshold level of five thousand is reached. Once the command is accepted, tap 'Autodoc' once more and the system will be in control until you override it from the center desk, or this console.” Aaron looked up as his hands moved to the second side of his incision and started to close it.

 

 

Hearing John mutter to himself as he tapped out the commands, he heard footsteps quickly walk away, and glancing up, he noticed the station console was empty, he smiled before thinking it odd that an active duty Med Evac team was still around, “Not that I am ungrateful, but shouldn’t you guys be on call and back at your base, I mean the extra eyes and hands have made the difference of hours in the stabilization of these two, but what about your job?”

 

 

“That would be my fault, or doing, Sir,” Bob Miller spoke up from the back of the room, “I hired an air ambulance service for the transfer, as it was easier to convince the attending physicians we were serious about transferring the boys to another facility…I just, carefully and deliberately, neglected to tell them which facility.”

 

 

Shaking his head with a chuckle, Aaron looked up after sealing the last of his incision, before deciding to fix the others which had been done by the surgeons that stabilized the boy, before he got his hands on them. Picking up the scissors, he quickly removed the stitches and staples and started running the fuser along the skin, knowing that he would be leaving scars, as the other incisions were not as precise as the ones done by a cellular scalpel. “Very good thinking Bob, it shows me that you are the right man in the right position.”

 

 

Placing the instrument tray inside the airlock, and starting the cycle to flush the airlock dry so the spent tray could be removed, Aaron tapped the button shutting down the surgical system, removed the gloves and placed them on the cart with a sigh, as  he stretched his muscles. “Ok John, in the lower left hand corner, tap 'diagnostic' and then activate a full system scan. I’ll worry about fusing the bones tomorrow, once we are assured the organs are healed; while you are in the system, let's administer the gamma goblin.”

 

 

Aaron walked over to the youngest child’s bio-tube and noticed that the chest and abdomen were still open, and Carl was softly answering questions. “How goes it over here?”

 

 

“Full body scan activated, how long does that take?” John wondered out loud, as he prepared to administer the gamma goblin, he remembered seeing it as one of the first options listed when he administered the other drugs to the boy. “The screen pops up with gamma goblin twenty seven already checked off.”

 

 

“That is a good general all purpose immune booster, so go ahead and accept that one, after the full scan, we can change it to one of the more specific ones if needed.” Aaron saw that the repair had been taken care of, and noticed the wire wrapped ribs “While you have him open, let's remove all that metal from his chest and Carl can fuse the bones while you are closing, leave the chest cavity opened until last, in case you need to hold one of the ribs in place until the field can do it, everything else looks clean.” Dropping his voice so it would not carry to the back of the room, “if not a little to abrupt for my tastes, but hey, they were trying to save his life and did not have the tools we do.”

 

 

Walking away, Aaron informed Theo, “Carl is getting pretty good at fusing bones.” It was time to talk to the parents before sitting down.

 

 

Spotting who he assumed was the mother sitting in a wheel chair with her arm in a sling and her leg in an air cast “‘Mr. and Mrs. Stevens greetings, I wish it was under happier circumstances, but things happen.” Aaron told them, as he shook the offered hands “your sons will be running around the yard falling all over themselves in about ten days, they most likely will be in the bio-tubes for a week, as we will have to re-grow some organs like the spleen, and there is the partial liver that needs to be re-grown in the oldest one, but all in all, until the full scan is complete, assume a week to ten days before they can be taken home. Come on over, you can look in on the older boy now, and shortly you can assure yourself your youngest is fine too.”

 

 

They followed Aaron in a daze and he led them over to the bio-tube so they would not be able to catch a glimpse on their younger son as he was still being operated on, and he led them to the side that had their backs to their youngest and Carl made a good door. He glanced back to the parents when he heard their inhaled shock, “the stitches…his skin looks whole.”

 

 

“Well, you just had a firsthand demonstration of the new technology that would be announced next month, unfortunately for you, the demonstration was on your sons, but at least you have the comfort of knowing that they will make a one hundred percent recovery.” Aaron tried to be gentle.

 

 

Frank Stevens, the boy’s father, turned with tears in his eyes, “Whatever you want, it is yours, just say the word; we can never repay you for what you are doing.”

 

 

Shrugging, “If I had to decide again on keeping all this…” Aaron waved his arm around the room, “A secret for another month, or saving the life of a child and letting the secret be known ahead of time…I would chose saving the child every time.” Piercing the other with his gaze so he could see he was sincere, “you had an unfair advantage over most other parents out there today, in similar situations. You work for me, so I found out what happened and did what any ethical person would do…I came to help,” clasping the man on the shoulder he started to move away, “oh Mrs. Stevens, once your boys are stable, Carl will fuse your broken bones.”

 

 

Catching Bob Miller's eyes, he motioned for him to follow him to the side, once they were alone, he whispered harshly, “If I hear you mention Prometheus once more to anyone else, before it goes live next month…” Aaron left the threat open ended as the man paled, “make sure everyone else that has talked to you about it knows I am not happy that it is even being thought about.” He left him standing there shaking in fear with the simple words.

 

 

Walking over and standing in front of the center desk, Aaron smiled as a grinning Dr. Myers walked over, after closing up the youngest boy, “So how does it feel to get a hands on taste of future medicine?”

 

 

“Amazing…it is simply amazing; I left Carl to close up the normal incisions from the earlier surgery. It is simply unbelievable that even those, closed up so quickly and the things Carl told me that this technology can do…I have only one thing to say to you about all this,” Theo smiled as he leaned up against the counter, “When do I start?”

 

 

Laughing, Aaron shook his hand shaking his head in wonder, “I suppose Carl told you about the plans to unveil the new hospital on Altair minor next month, one of the smaller tropical islands in my kingdom. The hospital and facility are complete; the only thing I need to do is find the staff, I have a long list of interviews starting next week, but the staffing of such a large facility will take a month, before we can start accepting patients on a limited basis and then it will be at least another month if not longer to get the staffing levels up to where we can really hit our stride.”

 

 

Leaning against the counter, Aaron looked around the room before looking back to the very eager faces next to him, “To tell you the truth, it has not been a priority, I have too many other fires clamoring for my attention, I had hoped to open the emergency facility with a small core staff and let it snowball as it becomes more known, after all, most people would give up their left nut, so to speak, to get hired on.” Aaron laughed at his small joke, “My main focus is and will be, the rescue of endangered gay youth, hell, the last six teens we rescued had been tortured to try to change them and the hospital is just a way to hopefully change people’s opinion over time, but mostly, it is for the youth we rescue that dream of becoming their hearts desire to have a safe place to find their dreams came true; plus I was not planning on building on the island anytime soon, so it was there, so…”

 

 

Smiling in glee when his offhand comment about working for him was not refused, Theo knew a way around the problem, after all, he was an old hand at getting things done and he had a secret network of likeminded colleagues, “Four weeks? That is plenty of time for me to get a dozen of my colleagues together, as senior staff. Most, like me, are finding that while it is rewarding to be teaching the up and coming physicians of the future, it is boring as hell. Some of them would be able to bring out of retirement, several of their core staff, plus their favorite students.”

 

 

Theo knew he had won the argument, as Aaron really looked like he was thinking about what he had offered, and when he looked behind him at the eager faces of the Med Evac crew, he could see the wheels turning as the ideas were forming.

 

 

“I never gave a thought to buying a private service to provide the transportation needed, that will take a load off my hiring woes, as they only will have to get used to the new technology of the faster planes.” Aaron took in the eager expression on the flight crew's faces, before turning back, “If, and I do mean, IF, I agree to this, every single person involved would have to be accepting, not just tolerant, but accepting of gay people and couples showing affection in public, just like straight couples. You have to understand this project grew as a result of the main hospital, I felt we could offer treatments to the world, and at the same time let it be known that we were a safe place for those that were gay and persecuted to make their way to us. In the scheme of things, this project is not even fourth on the list of things I am juggling, as it is sitting empty at the moment, but…alright, if you can assure me you can get me the staff in a week’s time, so they can spend the next three, working on learning how to use the new technology…”Stopping because Aaron noticed the frowns on the once eager faces, “Is there a problem, you were all smiles and bursting, ready to ask for a job, until I mentioned the accepting of gays.”

 

 

“Not with us accepting gay people,” Mandy started out, “but it was sounding like you might buy our company out, I know old man Wilson is getting on in years, and his kids want nothing to do with the company, and he would be open to an offer…”

 

 

“But half the staff is severely homophobic, as old man Wilson blames gay people for the loss of his second born son to AIDS. So he surrounded himself with top execs with those less tolerant attitudes, and I doubt he would sell to anyone who was gay or accepting.” John finished the explanation, a sad expression on his face.

 

 

Frowning, Theo looked at the two like they were making something out of nothing, “wWell, unless you are under contract for repaying tuition, give your notice. It sounds like there is already a fleet of craft that just needs people.”

 

 

John shrugged, “Okay with me, I am just a part time temp, I fill in for special details like this, while working full time at my parents' catering service, that way I can do both of the things I love to do, emergency medicine and cook.” He smiled as he realized that a hospital needs… “Hey do you need someone to run your catering service for the hospital, I can easily hand over the reins to my younger brother when he graduates in six weeks from the culinary academy.”

 

 

Theo laughed as he turned to Aaron, “Well, that fills two positions and solves another empty department, as long as he does not get all healthy on us, one of the biggest complaints by patients is that the food tastes like shit.”

 

 

“Too true, healthy eating can be tasty, but so many dieticians take the easy way out so there is less work, so even those who are not on a restrictive diet get the same foods as if they were.” John thought about it for a moment, “I think a lot of it has to do with how they approach the kitchen in the first place; they run it like an assembly line instead of a restaurant.”

 

 

Theo looked at Mandy to see what she would say, “I have no problem with gay people, my brother is gay and I think it is cute when they visit and end up cuddling on our couch, my husband just laughs and teases them. I am definitely interested, but unless I could be based out of L.A. it might not work, my husband is a pilot for one of the major…..” Mandy’s eyes got big as she realized what she had just said, “Kevin is a pilot.” She grinned.

 

 

Chris walked in, carrying a sleeping Kenny in his arms and smiling; Aaron took him from him and told Chris to show Carl how to work a bio-bed so he could fuse Mrs. Stevens broken bones while he got the little one back to bed and checked on his patients, he also told him to get those three in touch with Joe, to make travel arrangements for the group to meet him Friday night.

 

 

Walking back to the excited group, Aaron interrupted the conversation while Chris went over to explain the differences in the bio-bed to Carl if he had not already dug the information out, “Ok I need to get this one back to bed, it has been a long exciting day for him, after being released from the bio-tube a few hours ago.” Seeing their looks of confusion he simply told them, “he and his brother are one of the rescues I mentioned earlier, his brother is still undergoing treatment for the next four days, so I am watching out for this little guy in the meantime. Chris…Captain Banks will give you contact information, and a meeting place for next Friday night, we will talk again then. Make final arrangements and go over salaries and such, though you pretty much can plan on them being better than your current ones, I do pay top scale for loyalty. I am off to bed. Theo, there are plenty of empty cabins on board, so if you want to stay, ask Chris to show you to one, you too, if you need to stay. I will be checking in by video conference at morning rounds. So I will see you then.”

 

 

Waiting only long enough for everyone to say good night, Aaron walked out in the passage and ducking into a room around the corner, he ported back to his house, walked across the common room and placed Kenny in the spare bed, before moving to his bedroom and glancing at the monitor screens across the plasma terminal in his room, set to mimic the hospital screens before stripping down and going to bed himself, relying on the automatics to wake him if anything should go outside set parameters.

 

 

Sensing movement in the room with him, Aaron opened his eyes to see the morning sun streaming in the plasma screen that doubled for a window, showing the view from topside, one of the island farms. Rolling over in bed, and snuggling the blanket closer to his half awake body, Aaron spied the cause of him waking up, there in the chair by his desk, sat Kenny and he was staring at him quietly, “Hey there, you’re up early.” Aaron folded his pillow in half so he could prop his head up.

 

 

“I thought I was dreaming, then I woke up in a strange bed and no one was around,” Kenny told him that stoned faced and without emotion, which set off alarm bells in Aaron's mind, waking him up instantly. “I walked around and then remembered where I was and came in here and watched you sleep, to prove to myself that it was real.”

 

 

Patting the top of his bed, Aaron scooted back, “Climb up here, remember me telling you that if you needed a hug, just ask?” Aaron patted the bed again, as Kenny slowly made his way to the bed and gingerly sat down close enough to the edge of the bed that he could jump away if he needed to. Slapping a pillow down in front of him, “Hey it is kind of hard to hug you when you are all the way over there, and I am buried under the covers…come here, Kenny, I don’t bite.”

 

 

Kenny stiffly scooted back and then lay down next to Aaron, who pulled him in close and hugged him tight. While he did this, he tasted the thoughts going around in Kenny’s head and sent reassurance and comfort towards him, hoping to relax him enough so they could work through what was causing this bout of retreating into his shell. “You’re safe here, you know?” Aaron whispered in Kenny’s ear, as he held on tight, listening with both his mind and his ears.

 

 

Worried when he did not sense anything from Kenny and he did not move, Aaron checked and smiled when he found that the boy was fast asleep, throwing part of the blanket over him, he curled up around him and went back to sleep himself.

 

 

A little before eight, Kenny started to stir, waking Aaron up. Confused, he felt the arm around him pulling him close to another warm body behind him, glancing around the room without moving, he realized where he was and he felt safe, especially when his hand went under the covers and he realized he was on top of the bedspread and fully clothed, he was in Aaron’s bed, but he had no idea how he got there.

 

 

“Awake, Kenny?” Aaron quietly whispered, as he shifted in the bed, the young boy's thoughts had woken him up, they were quite different from earlier, abruptly different, he realized. He would have to give this some thought and maybe quietly ask Theo if one of his friends he was inviting to the meet and greet was a child psychologist, as this was definitely out of his league.

 

 

“Yes sir,” the quiet shy voice responded to his whispered question. “I think I need to remind you that I am not your father.” Aaron hugged him briefly to his side, before scooting back trying to get out of the tangled covers after all, he had to pee. “Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom before I have to change my sheets.” He smiled as Kenny giggled and bounced on the bed throwing the blanket off of him.

 

 

Kenny jumped to the floor and froze when he noticed Aaron getting out of bed; looking at him, he saw he was naked. Mouth hanging open, he blurted out, “Gosh you are not wearing any clothes…my father would have beat us until we could not walk if we did that, or even if we saw him without a shirt on.”

 

 

“I told you everyone that lives here is a nudist, no reason to wear clothes when the whole city is a girl free zone.” Aaron was flippant, but once again reminded of the underlying training that bastard had done, and wondered if this morning was a result of that and maybe add in sleepwalking. “Well, I am going to shower and I have to pee, so after I get dressed...” saying the word dressed in disgust to more giggles by Kenny, “We will just have time for breakfast before going over to the med bay to check in with the Alteran Prince, about the two new patients.”

 

 

Sensing Kenny was following him into the bathroom, Aaron touched the shower control and waited for the steam to start, before walking in and feeling flesh brush up against his leg, as the door closed behind him, he saw a naked Kenny scoot by him.

 

 

“This is so cool,” Kenny giggled as the warm water hit his body from all angles as he danced around the large circle.

 

 

Aaron looked down at the naked boy dancing around him and placed his hands on his shoulders stopping him off to one side, “Stand there for a minute, if you would, please.” He told him as he turned to the side to let fly.

 

 

“Why?” Kenny looked up confused then “OOWW you're peeing in the shower.” He giggled, seeing the light yellow stream through the fog, several feet in front of Aaron’s body from the back.

 

 

“What part of shower and pee did you not understand?” Aaron chuckled, as he shook the few droplets off the end, before turning around.

 

 

Scrunching his face up, Kenny thought about it for a moment before turning to face away and giggle as he followed Aaron’s example and peed in the shower, aiming to one side away from Aaron.

 

 

Shaking his head, Aaron pressed a button on the panel, stopping all the water except what was coming from above and grabbing the soap, he started to wash, not saying anything as he passed the soap to Kenny, very aware that he was watching him closely. Hearing the mental question on why he washed himself like that, Aaron thought about it, after all, Kenny was circumcised before, so he would not know anything about proper hygiene, so he carefully explained how to keep himself clean.

 

 

Kenny watched Aaron clean himself, and blushed when the frank discussion on how to keep himself clean came up, and even though he was blushing, it was fascinating to see Aaron pull the skin back and clean around the head, but he winced in imagined pain when he heard what could happen if he did not clean himself every day, turning to the side and peeking to see if he was being watched, and seeing Aaron’s back was to him, he quickly pulled the skin back and using soap, washed himself down there. With his father’s hatred of anything naked and the punishment for asking questions, Kenny just knew if he had this extra skin back when he was with his father, he would be in some serious pain as the wicked old man would never have told him how to clean himself, let alone take him to a doctor if he got infected.

 

 

“Ready for the rinse cycle?” Aaron asked with a smile, as Kenny handed the soap back to him and he reached forward and tapped the panel starting the Omni directional shower once more. Listening to the giggling coming from next to him, Aaron lifted his hands so the water could get under his arms before touching the panel one more time, turning the water off, “Okay, now for the dry cycle, you might want to hold on for this.”

 

 

“Onto what?” Kenny looked around frantically as Aaron touched the panel once more and powerful warm air jets swirled around them “FU…DGE” Kenny changed the word at the last moment, as the powerful air jets almost blew him off his feet, after the surprising shock, he decided he liked it.

 

 

Silently laughing, Aaron waited until he was dry and gave Kenny a moment to get used to the dry cycle before shutting it off, opening the door and stepping out, “Do you want me to port you back to your apartment so you can brush your teeth and get some fresh clothes, or wait until after breakfast?” Aaron gave him the choice as he pulled on a shirt and shorts before picking up the clothes he wore yesterday and put them in the laundry bins, separating by type, an old habit from his college days he had done that so that once a bin was full, it went into the washer then later into the dryer.

 

 

Kenny once again paused, he was given a choice, and he was not used to having the option to do what HE wanted, stomach growling, he grinned, “Food first, please.”

 

 

Nodding his head, Aaron walked out into the bedroom and started for the hall, “Bob Evans' sausage gravy and biscuits along with hash browns sound good?” not hearing any reply, he looked back and saw Kenny smiling while rubbing his belly and nodding his head. Laughing, he made his way to the kitchen, pointed to the chair over by the counter and pulled the ingredients out of the freezer then started to prepare breakfast. Twenty minutes later, Aaron was pouring chocolate milk into a glass for Kenny and serving him up a big helping of hash browns topped with biscuits and smothered in sausage gravy. “Dig in, and if you want more it is over on the counter, just help yourself; remember, eat as much as you want.”

 

 

Nodding his head, Kenny dug into the food, all smiles, while Aaron thought about three more mouths to feed come lunch time and how to best handle three more traumatized kids; the only good thing is his three would be out of the bio-tubes this afternoon and hopefully they would be a help, in fact, he would make sure they were released before the other three; that way, they would be on hand to help him with their adjustment, that put Gordon being released tomorrow, and then the next day he would…no that would not work, he needed to start the alteration as soon as Carl returned, if they were to be finished by the time Carl’s parents were released. Finishing his double portion, He placed his plate in the sink and washed the dishes real quick and pointed towards the food, offering Kenny a third helping if he wanted it.

 

 

Kenny, declining more food, looked at the rest of his plate with a frown, he was full, but there was still food left.

 

 

Aaron, hearing the inner debate, placed the leftovers in a container and placed it, and the lid in front of Kenny, “Here, scrape what’s left from your plate into the bowl and we can put it in your refrigerator for tomorrow, or a snack later, if you want.” Seeing the hesitant look on his face, Aaron tried a different way, “Remember, I am not like your father, so until you have to walk sideways to go through doors, you can eat anytime you want, as much as you want within reason, meaning we do not have all kinds of junk food here on the island, what we have is a lot of good tasting food.” Getting a nod and a small smile, Aaron smiled back as Kenny hesitated as he scraped the food into the bowl before putting the lid on it.

 

 

Ok, wash your plate, fork and glass and put it in the drainer and we can go, Aaron looked at the clock and noticed he was running behind, he would have to send a message that he was going to be late unless, “I have a call to make in five minutes to check up on the other two boys from last night, so while I put the leftovers in YOUR refrigerator, run and grab your toothbrush and toothpaste and some clothes, if you want to wear any, you can dress over at the med bay and use the bathroom over there to brush your teeth, after I finish, you can go along when I visit the farm.”

 

 

Kenny quickly pulled the drain and rinsed his dishes before putting them in with all the others and taking off, running for the balcony before skidding to a stop and racing back for the bowl of leftovers and handed it to Aaron before running back towards the balcony once more, looking over his shoulder to see if Aaron was coming.

 

 

Laughing, Aaron decided it was either seeing his brother again, or the mention of the farm that got Kenny all excited and increased the length of his stride so he would not have to run to keep up. Not even getting a chance to put his arm out, Kenny grabbed onto his arm as soon as he walked through the door so he ported them to Kenny’s apartment and he had barely arrived before Kenny took off down the hall. Chuckling, Aaron walked to the kitchen and put the leftovers in the refrigerator, and walking back, he saw a blur as Kenny rushed past him heading for the balcony. So, walking out the door, he repeated the performance porting them directly into the med bay as time was tight.

 

 

Pointing over his shoulder to the door behind the desk, “Bathroom is in there don’t forget to give your teeth a really good brushing.” Aaron told him as he connected the terminal to the Alteran Prince’s med bay and started to download the log reports as he turned on the video conference monitor. Not seeing anyone yet, he glanced through the reports and logs and compared it to what the current monitor showed, the med bay on the Prince could be slaved into the med bay here or his office, it was a way to be two places at once.

 

 

The first person he saw that came into the range of the video pickup was Chris, who saw him on the conference screen, “Good, I hoped to talk to you first, I told both Carl and Theo you held rounds at quarter after nine normally, that way, you had fifteen minutes to review reports before you started.”

 

 

“I take it you are underway, what time do you expect to make Altair Minor harbor?” Aaron asked, as he looked up and focused his full attention on Chris.

 

 

“Sometime shortly after seven tonight, I should inform you that Doctor Myers and John Stewart stayed on board, and Dr. Myers has been very busy making phone calls all morning, I think the little get together you are having Friday night is going to be larger than you expected, I overheard him asking John if it was too short of a notice to get a party of a hundred and fifty catered.”Chris laughed at the horrified expression on Aaron’s face.

 

 

“One hundred…” Aaron stared to say, in horror, as Chris chimed in grinning, “And fifty. Joe finally broke down and started chartering a couple of planes to make the rounds to pick up everyone.”

 

 

Staring out over the pod, Aaron finally let his eyes settle down on Kenny who was once again sitting next to his brother, chatting away, telling him all about the adventures he had been having. After a few minutes, Aaron turned back to the pickup, “Where the hell did he find that many accepting people in what amounts to a few hours?”

 

 

Walking into the med bay with Carl, Theo heard the question, “Simple really, it is amazing how many of us that have reached the top are secretly gay, in a profession that outwardly says it is acceptable, but privately shuns us, most, end up in academia teaching when we would rather be doing.”

 

 

Aaron blinked at the smiling face on the monitor screen for a moment, as his words sunk in before he could say anything, Theo rushed on, “Seventy percent of those invited are gay or lesbian and the other thirty percent are parents or siblings and very accepting, we have our own secret network and all I had to do was put the word out. I even found two mental health professionals, the best in their field, that are jumping up and down at the chance to work with at danger gay youth, both had reservations made with the airlines before the conversation was over.”

 

 

Ignoring the information for the moment, as it needed to sink in, Aaron looked at Carl who looked a little nervous, “Relax Carl, I'm not going to bite your head off, that’s not what morning rounds are supposed to be.” Aaron smiled at him, “Morning rounds in my hospitals are a chance for me to test your knowledge, while it might seem as if I am questioning every decision you made and are about to make, it all boils down to me finding out if you understand what you see and your proposed treatment is going to do what you think it is. It will be intense and leave you feeling like you chose the wrong profession, until you get used to them and how they can help you be a better doctor, so let’s start with the younger boy…”

 

 

An intense hour later, Aaron signed off and Carl, sweating profusely, leaned against the counter, glad it was over, Aaron was good to his word that was one of the most intense things he had done, even his examiners at school during their mock runs of morning rounds so they got a feeling of what they could expect at morning rounds had not come close to the real thing. He needed to sit down and make a few notes before some of the things they went over slipped his mind.

 

 

Theo, who had watched on in silence, was at first appalled at the anatomy lessons that seemed to have no bearing on the patients, then as the questioning and planning went on, he realized how easily tunnel vision was created early on with specialization, evidently, Dr. Stranton expected his emergency residents to be masters of none, and experts of all, only handing off patients once they were totally healed and only for follow up if needed. And that excited him, even though as a top general surgeon, ninety percent of the conditions he would have normally been called upon to perform his art could now be performed without surgery, the ten percent that was left would test his abilities, and he could not wait.

 

 

Glancing at Carl, who was busy putting notes into that wonderful device called a P.A.D.D. Theo thought of the brilliant smack down given to his student when he mentioned the onset of type one diabetes in the oldest boy and needing to schedule a follow up for the gene resequencing needed to fix that minor problem, and asked, “Explain to me this ability to restructure DNA on a whim.”

 

 

Aaron turned off the video conferencing mode and glanced down at the monitor with a smile. Carl did good for being put through the wringer, now he needed to check Kevin, Pete and Tim deciding that they would be released before the rescued boys, they could help him with getting them to adjust to being free, and settled in the apartment up above Kenny and David.