Chapter 09

 

                                               

 

 

After their torture session, I mean practices session where they tried to keep from climaxing as long as possible Kevin, Tim and Pete jumped up off the hide a bed and started to put the room to rights. Once the room was back together, Kevin remembered that Aaron had told them, after becoming Alteran they would be able to gain access to the racial history section. “Guys, remember that Aaron told us to look at the racial history, once we logged in, if I remember right, he said that a lot of our questions would be answered if we looked through it. Maybe we should check it out while Aaron is gone, we have a couple of hours until he gets back and we go shopping.” Kevin went towards his bedroom door, the others following.

 

 

Logging into the terminal, Kevin started searching the screen for the section he was told was there and not finding it, he looked over his shoulder to see if Tim or Pete had any ideas. “Try under education, its history, after all,” Tim suggested with a shrug.

 

 

Touching that icon, a new screen opened up and off to one side, just under placement testing was the section he was looking for; throwing a quick smile back at Tim for his suggestion, Kevin tapped it, expecting the screen to open up with text, he was surprised when a video started.

 

 

My name is Aaron Stranton, King of the Alteran people and the year is 2257, you are viewing this history lesson right now, because our last ditch effort to save the human race from itself was successful. This body you see on the monitor is almost entirely artificial; my brain is the only thing still organic, which is how I was able to travel into the past, as I was the only one that still had some part of my brain that was organic. I made this recording just after arriving in the past, so that the future citizens of Altare would know how to avoid the pitfalls that created the future. And, as I plan to contact my past self and alter him so that he is the first Alteran, as I was the first Alteran, but I plan to do this one hundred years earlier than in my timeline. I have set into motion events that will kill the twenty key players that started the spiral into darkness, this by no means should make you relax, as the hate is still there, some others will move up to take their place, but as I am not there any longer, it means that enough of the past has changed so that my timeline has been erased. So listen carefully, and be ever vigilant, young caretaker of the human race.

 

 

The screen flashed black for a moment before the image returned once more, this time the future Aaron was sitting down on top of a desk.

 

 

The year is 2007 and the politicians in the United States have just passed sweeping legislation all in the name of protecting the children, it did not matter if the legislation was so restrictive that it, in effect, not only stripped people of their rights, it also created a new wave of homeless people that after the first one was killed set the precedent for the legal hunting and killing of any one registered on that list.

 

 

But in actuality, the story begins in the late 1980’s with the widespread acceptance and use of the internet. For the first time, gay people from all over the world could create communities and network together, sharing what worked in the struggle of equality. The religious zealots of that time scoffed at the idea that gay people would be a danger to their way of life, for everyone knew there were so few of those types of people. That is, until one day in the late 1990’s, they took notice, the online community had grown to millions, now they were frightened and started to plan for the eventual destruction of the abomination that they saw us as.

 

 

So with the start of the legislation in 2007 aimed at sex offenders their plan was finally set in motion, with the relabeling of sex offenders as child victimizers. The stage was set, even if the crime was not sex related at all, it just had to involve a minor, which, in the closing session of congress, someone had inserted language into an omnibus bill that legally changed the definition of a minor to be someone under twenty five, of course they were referring to certain rights, like drinking, but it was carefully worded so that it could be used in the new laws that were forthcoming.

 

 

In the last omnibus bill passed in 2007, partial language was inserted in so many differing sections that had nothing to do with crime. Those laws once passed were joined together in the spring of 2008, and they began the war against gay people in earnest. It all boiled down to if you were gay and committed any breach of the law including walking across the street in anything but a crosswalk, it was a felony, so if you were gay and were caught jaywalking and they ran your name against the list they spent years compiling from the gay online community, you were charged with a felony and given the title child victimizer, thus making you one of the worst things to walk the earth and legally hunted.

 

 

Of course, there were outcries and legal challenges from almost every corner, but it being an election year and all the judges were selected by the voters, they fell in line denying any petitions to redress these laws after several of their number were called champions of child predators by the news media and the fact that every single one of them died in horrific ways, the rest felt it safer to let someone else handle it, as they were not about to put their families on the chopping block.

 

 

Reading between the lines early on, once the law in the name of protecting children was put into effect, and the states bullied into either passing more restrictive laws based on the federal ones or lose federal funding across the board, I chose to leave the country of my birth and travel to South America, I bought a section of land nestled between two mountains and though I was lonely at first, I was safe from the madness happening in the U.S.

 

 

Then in the summer of 2009, I acted, I set up an underground railroad that would eventually funnel gay people and their families to my hidden valley. By the summer of 2009, gay people were outlawed as the religious takeover of the government was complete.  Once the takeover was complete, not only was it a death sentence to be gay in the U.S., they also hunted down the parents and siblings of gays and killed them, for in late 2008, it was proven without a doubt that being gay was genetic.

 

 

You might be wondering about the rest of the world and the United Nations, and why they did not step in, well, they tried but failed. In March of 2009, the United Nations passed a measure that would send foreign troops to U.S. soil to evacuate the persecuted, when the first plane carrying French troops landed against the order of the U.S. Government, the president ordered the bombing of France with Nuclear weapons, he made the whole country nothing more than a glass parking lot. This caused all other nations to stop what they were doing and regroup.

 

 

By the winter of 2009, with the support of the free thinking nations of the world, my little retreat had grown to several thousand and the stage was set for global war. The brightest minds of the world, Straight or BI flocked to my valley in the hopes of creating the means to leave this planet forever, our goal was Mars, and by the summer of 2011, our knowledge had grown by leaps and bounds and the first breakthrough in genetic engineering happened, and I had been pushed into the role of leader which later would make me a King, this is not something I wanted, but the will of the people prevailed against my attempts to duck out of that calling.

 

 

In 2017, America invaded Canada and that year they also finished the extermination of all visible gay people and had started in on those deemed not Christian enough.

 

 

By 2019, almost all of the Jewish populations had fled the country, and the U.N was dissolved. That is also the year that we had discovered a way to slow down the aging process and created nanites.

 

 

In the summer of 2020, with the pacification of Canada, which in reality meant that half the population had been killed off, the United States formally changed its name to the North American Holy Land; this year also marked several other changes. This new country officially declared the Catholic Church and Rome to be abominations in the eyes of God and it also marked a new round of holy crusades.

 

 

While not important in the scheme of things, the fall of 2025 saw the discovery of cybernetics and the creation of replacement limbs that integrated directly with a human’s nervous system.

 

 

In the spring of 2027, Columbia fell to the invading forces and it was time to finally fight back. As the advancing 'forces of God' invaded Brazil, my people who had been funneling research and weapons north, in the hopes of overthrowing the 'Land of God' and giving it back to the people rushed to the rescue and pushed the invading forces back to Columbia and we held them. In the fall of 2027, the Former U.S. launched nuclear missiles in an attempt to wipe out resistance, lucky for us, we had discovered a way to make an impregnable zone that would cause anything electrical to cease functioning immediately. With that, we were able to cause the missiles to fall short of their intended target, unfortunately, when the dust cleared Panama was gone, in its place was the ocean, for the first time in the history of the earth, North and South America were no longer joined. The resulting fallout destroyed a large portion of South America, including all of Brazil and all of Central America.

 

 

2030 saw the lifting of a short nuclear winter, only to find that the world was down to a billion people and two casts had emerged in North America, those religious zealots in charge who benefited from technology, and the serfs who had been reduced to an early 1900’s lifestyle. It was also the year that Europe fell to the crusade, with the help of zealots in their own countries. When the year ended, there were three major powers left in the world the eastern pact which comprised of Russia and China along with Japan, The Gods land which comprised just over half of the world and the Altare Empire, the remnants of South America.

 

 

In 2032, I discovered the means to create the first Alteran and tied it to the genetic codes that determine if a person is gay or not. Only I, held the key that made this alteration possible, and only I, knew how it was keyed to the gay genes, thus ensuring that the Armies of God would not gain these powers. As they actively tested every new born and if they tested positive for being gay, they were put to death before they had a chance to enjoy even a full day of living. These abilities were key to us being able to bring to a halt the armies of God for a full twenty years.

 

 

In 2047 we perfected the ability of in system planetary travel and a joint coalition between Altare and the Eastern Pact started to build a new city on Mars, one that we would eventually evacuate our people to.

 

 

Unfortunately in 2052 the Armies of God released a bio agent into the Eastern Pact and within three months every man woman and child had been killed. We spent the next two years moving everyone to Mars and setting up a new world. For the next fifteen years we had a semblance of peace, though research and development worked at a feverish pace as the World of God as they started to call themselves were working hard to develop planetary travel so they could once and for all wipe us out.

 

 

The year 2059 led to some breathtaking discoveries including fusion power and the confirmed life bearing world orbiting Alpha Centauri. We had a new goal to be able to develop a way to travel to the new planet and start over on a new world. That year we also discovered how to link with external power sources so that those high classification teleports could learn to port large loads an incredible distance.

 

 

In 2060 a class two teleport boarded a newly created scout ship and in three ports, made it to the new world circling Alpha Centauri. A new race was on to create colony ships that would allow us to leave the earth system behind, as minor skirmishes around the lunar surface were increasing.

 

 

In 2063 a small research colony had been established on Alpha Centauri, staffed by over one hundred Alteran’s. Though the race against time was drawing near as the World of God started to lob nuclear missiles from the lunar surface towards Mars and it took precious resources, better spent building escape vessels, to knock those missiles off trajectory.

 

 

In 2067 the universe paused as reality fell apart. Not being able to telepathically snoop on our enemy, they came up with a new weapon, one that would reach Mars, and they used it to destroy two thirds of our population. In retaliation, the combined linked minds of every Alteran reached out and killed every single religious zealot that we could reach with our minds.

 

 

Being severely injured in the attack, but being the strongest teleport still in the solar system, I and the survivors, boarded the half finished vessels and I ported us to Alpha Centauri, where I expected to die. Unknown  to me, as soon as the teleportation was over, the doctors rescued my brain and implanted it into a cybernetic body they had built for research purposes.

 

 

2069 with heavy hearts and a dying race as only Alteran’s had survived to journey to the new planet, a discovery was made that gave new hope to the survivors; we discovered and created the first of many artificial wombs, a way for us to have children. With renewed hope, we set about discovering the means of traveling back in time to hopefully erase what had happened, and we spent the next one hundred years researching everything we could, before the final breakthrough came and instead of just being able to view the past, we were able, for the first time, to interact and make slight adjustments to the timeline.

 

 

2170 started Operation Change and for the next ten years, small changes were made to the timeline to streamline our ability to go back in time to the target date and make sure when we created a new nation, it would have the wealth and equipment to not only survive but to lead the world in a different direction.

 

 

We spent the next fifty years making slow changes to the timeline and building the secret city you are watching this recording in now. We spent those fifty years refining every single scientific discovery and invention and we almost did not make it. We had put everything into project Change and did not even consider that the enemy we had left behind could have followed us. In 2230, a single lone generation ship made it into the system in stealth mode and being so focused on changing the past, we did not see them until they had opened fire.

 

 

I was the only survivor, and that was because I was deep inside the planet's core, fixing a power feed. Being the only cyborg on the planet, my body could survive at those depths and the incredible heat. What would have taken a month to implement, took twenty seven years by myself, until I finally felt ready and made one last alteration to the timeline, and it was the biggest one yet.

 

 

I sit here in my house recording this, as my younger self is in the bio-tube being altered, and because my brain is an exact match, while he undergoes alteration, he is also learning at an accelerated rate. In two days time, the first of thirty accidents I have arranged will occur and the blood will be on my hands, not that of my younger self. If everything works, I will fade away if the timeline has made a large enough change to erase the future I came from. If this happens, you the new Alteran’s must take up the burden of being the guardian of the human race, nurture and guide it, so that the future I gave the high points of does not come to pass. The downfall of the human race came as a war against gay people…now, with a two hundred and fifty year technological advantage, the future of the human race lies in the hands of gay people. This is the burden I ask you to shoulder. You can make a difference…be proud of being who you are meant to be; take hold of your dream and run with it, by doing so, know this…you are saving the world and making it a better place.

 

 

The image on the monitor seemed to shimmer for a moment before smiling, something major must have changed, for I feel myself slipping away, the timeline has shifted and made a correction, it is up to you now to make the most of this second chance.

 

 

They watched in shock as the person on the screen faded from sight before the monitor went dark. Pete finally spoke, “Well that answers a lot of questions on how this place is so advanced, hundreds of years ahead of everyone else.”

 

 

“And these new gifts, it explains so much…but the real question is how do we help?” Kevin wondered out loud as he moved over to the bed to cuddle with the others.

 

 

“For now, we rescue as many as we can, we build a new home here and then…then” Tim started before being interrupted.

 

 

“And then we become a super power, intent on nudging the world onto the right path. “Aaron stated, as he walked into the bedroom through the open door. “It’s already started with the new hospital on Altair Minor, how many people are going to turn their backs on gay people when those same gay people hold the key to the recovery of their child. Think about it for a minute; think about how the world will crucify those that openly attack the people that hold the cure that saves children’s lives. Instead of waiting for gays to flock to us, we seek them out and help them chase their dreams. As a super power, we help direct world policy and prevent what we can and pick up the pieces when we can’t.”

 

 

“We can change the world just by rescuing gay youth in danger and giving them the means to reach their dreams. The ten percent myth is a little bit low, twenty percent of the population is gay, whether they act on it or not and the world has just over six billion people alive; do the math. We can be a force of change and it starts with the simple act of saving one person, who then saves another and passes it along.” Sitting on the edge of the bed, Aaron chuckled, “It also helps that we have a couple hundred years on everyone else.”

 

 

Pointing at the monitor, “That future will not come to pass, I left that recording in the system, so every new Alteran would watch it and learn how we came to be and why we do the things we do.” Looking at Pete, “and to dispel any thoughts that we are alien or use salvaged alien technology.”

 

 

“Are you ready to go shopping, I thought we night also hit the mall, the new guys need at least one change of clothing, so they can go shopping tomorrow if they want, I also want to stop by one of the warehouse clubs to stock up on staples before hitting the grocery store.” Aaron stood up smiling to lighten the mood, “So go get your passport and debit card and meet me in my office on the second floor.”

 

 

Going up to his office, Aaron pulled a drawer out of the wall near the stairs and removed three waist pouches out of the drawer, along with some cash. Hearing the sounds of running, Aaron smiled at the trio as they raced up the stairs, clutching their passports with the debit cards inside. Handing out the waist pouches, “Here you go; these will hold your passport, and in case the store does not take a debit card or it’s only a couple of dollars, here is fifty dollars in cash for each of you.”

 

 

Looking around, Tim did not see who he was looking for, “is Kenny not going to come with us?”

 

 

Shaking his head, “He decided to stay until he could go with his brother, actually he is looking forward to the trip to San Francisco on the Prince at the end of the week, he can’t wait to set sail for the first time. I think he is hoping he can convince Damien to go with us and share his cabin.” Aaron winked before laughing.

 

 

Walking towards the center chair, Aaron tapped a command into the terminal off to one side of his chair and motioned for the trio to come closer, “One at a time, place your limiter on top of the glowing panel on the chairs arm rest, I am going to reset your limiter, so you can port up to twenty feet. This is a `just in case' precaution, that I hope you don’t have to use. First thing tomorrow afternoon, your firm butts are mine.”

 

 

Aaron laughed as Tim bent over slightly and wiggled his ass at him, “Maybe that too, but I want to start your lessons, so we can dispense with the limiter before we leave for San Francisco on Thursday.”

 

 

“Gather round,” Aaron told them, after Kevin, who was last, had his limiter changed, “If you look carefully, you'll see that this chair has a direct feed from a small fusion reactor, the power supplied is in a form that is almost perfect for our needs, and it can be accessed by this plate here.” Aaron pointed to the metal plate on the top of his chair that had been exposed after tapping a command into the terminal. “You need to avoid grabbing power from anything but one of our reactors, unless you have no choice, it will leave you with a huge migraine and possibly blow up the power source.”

 

 

Seeing the expression on the teens' faces Aaron laughed, “I know, what does this have to do with our shopping trip…simple, an Alteran class three or higher, when borrowing power, does not have to be touching someone else to port them, even without the extra power boost, a class one does not need to be touching someone after they have fully mastered their gift,” holding up his hand to keep Pete from saying what he was about to, “But by touching, it will drastically reduce the power drain.”

 

 

Seeing the nod from Pete as he settled down, Aaron placed his hand on the plate and every one could feel a static like electricity start to build up around them, “We are going to port into an out of the way place, outside the Stonestown Galleria in San Francisco, and maybe an early supper at Olive Garden in the mall before we leave, are you ready?” Aaron waited for their nods before touching his finger to the panel and porting them to an out of the way area near the loading docks. Steering them towards the mall doors, “Shall we?” Aaron told them as he opened the door so they could walk in.

 

 

Walking over and stopping at the mall directory, that sign that was in every mall in America, Aaron traced the route to Olive Garden, “Okay, unless you want to follow me around, and if you want to stay together that is fine, I am going to Abercrombie and Fitch for some clothes for the new guys and then from there I am planning on stopping at the book store and I will meet up with you in front of Olive Garden across from the food court in two hours.”

 

 

As the three teens started to excitedly move towards the main hall, Aaron called out to stop them, “Remember, I am only a thought away and if you need it, remember your passport.”

 

 

Watching the trio walk off, Aaron went the opposite way, pulling his P.A.D.D. out of his pocket, he looked at the list with the new boys' measurements on it and seeing a shoe store, went in, intent on finding some deck shoes. Smirking at the bemused clerk, as he ordered the deck shoes he had found, in four different sizes. Swiping his card to pay, Aaron signed the receipt and gathering the two bags, he walked out of the store, hoping he would not have similar problems in the other stores, after all it’s not like parents hadn’t been buying things for their kids for years.

 

 

Scanning down the list one more time, now that he was in the clothing store, Aaron shook his head in disgust, why the hell couldn’t mall stores be bothered to have shopping baskets at the very least. Spotting a sales clerk, a cute one, he motioned him over.

 

 

“Can I help you?” the young male clerk practically purred.

 

 

Tasting the clerks surface thoughts, Aaron saw that the clerk was interested in adding him to his long list of quickies. He was no one’s conquest, so they could brag about it. “Yes, if you can tone down the fuck me now vibes, I need some help carrying items up to the counter as I chose them.” Smiling as the clerk stepped back as if slapped, he waited until the clerk blushed before moving his eyes back to the rack, removing four shirts and handing them to the horny clerk, “I have four nephews that lost everything in a fire, so I am buying them one outfit each so when they are released from the ER, they will have something to wear.” He created a fictitious scenario that would be believable.

 

 

Looking around, he spotted the shorts, and ignoring the clerk, moved over and searched through them, he was looking for something with the most pockets, finding some he liked, he set about finding the right sizes, finding three in the right sizes, Aaron glanced back down at the screen before handing them to the clerk, “Do you have one like this in a men’s size twenty two, Fred is just at that age where he can move into men’s sizes?”

 

 

Frowning as he looked at the style chosen, the clerk thought for a moment, “I am not sure we have it in this shade of brown, but if you choose the light tan, it would match the style we have in men’s. I assume you are going for the most pockets variety, and can I ask why you are picking all the same colors?” the clerk walked over to the style he was talking about and picked one up for Aaron’s approval.

 

 

Nodding his head at the choice, “I’ll let the boys pick out what they want, colors and such. For now, everything I am picking out will go good while on my yacht, so they will more than likely be used for that, as light colors and multiple pockets come in handy, but for now, it will work until the boys can go shopping.” Aaron glanced around muttering, “Underwear and socks,” as he searched.

 

 

“Over by the counter on the other side, we mix the two sections together so it would be near the men’s side,” the helpful clerk had replaced the shorts with the new ones and pointed over towards the counter.

 

 

Turning his PA.D.D. off, Aaron placed it in his thigh pocket and went over to the area pointed out and started to glance through the varieties offered, finally, finding a small section of boxer briefs, he chose three pairs and quickly grabbed some white ankle socks before going to the other side of the rack for a pair in Fred’s size. Taking his items up to the counter, he placed them with the shorts and shirts, “This should do for now, the boys can go shopping tomorrow now that they have something to wear…so what’s the damage?”

 

 

Swiping his card one last time, Aaron signed his name on the capture device and gathered his belongings; as he started to leave, the clerk handed him a folded piece of paper with his name and phone number on it. Reading the intent behind the paper, Aaron started to hand it back, “I don’t do casual, any hope of getting my clothes off goes out the door unless you are willing to not make me another notch on your belt.”

 

 

Shocked at the refusal, the clerk blushed as he understood what had been said, and he was not willing at this point to commit and settle down, taking back the paper, he whispered, “It could have been grand.”

 

 

“You have no idea,” Aaron muttered softly as he left the clerk standing there, mouth open. Walking out into the crowded mall, Aaron made for the doors they entered through, and once out of sight, ported the purchases directly to Chris’s dining room table before turning and making his way to the bookstore.

 

 

Entering the bookstore, Aaron noticed Pete in the gardening section and walked over, “Hey Pete, taking up gardening?”

 

 

Smiling as he had sensed Aaron walking up behind him, Pete looked over his shoulder, “I was thinking of finding something for Tommy, he wants to be Alteran, so I thought I would find him something he might like as he waits until he can undergo the procedure. I thought of something to do with horses or farm animals, but they really don’t have anything more in depth that does not need to be ordered.”

 

 

Glancing at the titles as he ran his finger along them Aaron picked out a title, 'Aquaponic Systems', and handed it to Pete, “Here, this is something that he will never have come across before, and I will be setting up a system on the top side shortly.”

 

 

Flipping through the book, Pete grinned, “Cool, this is something that looks like fun, and has a lot of web sites he can go to, to download more information.” Checking the price he smiled “good, I have enough cash to buy this.” Walking towards the register, “I decided that I would use the cash as found money and buy little things for the new guys. I got them each a book” Pete lifted his hand showing the other books that were hidden by his body when Aaron walked up. “I should have just about enough, I think.”

 

 

“My, what an eclectic taste you have, young man,” An elderly woman told Pete as she rang him up.

 

 

Pete beamed up at the older lady, “My friends lost everything, so I thought I would get them each a book to read while they got back on their feet,” He placed the two twenty’s and ten on the counter.

 

 

“Fifty one dollars and seventy five cents,” the lady clerk smiled as she picked up the money.

 

 

“I guess I forgot to think about tax,” Pete muttered looking down as he opened up his belt pack to dig inside for his card, “do you accept debit cards?” Before he could pull it out, two dollars were placed on the counter from the man in the next line.

 

 

“Here you go lad.” An older gentleman told him, as Pete held up his debit card.

 

 

“But I have…thank you,” Pete said with a smile, when he glanced at the surface thoughts of the man.

 

 

“No…thank you, you are doing something most people your age would not even consider…you are thinking of a friend and a way to pick up their spirits in a time of need. So the least I can do is skip my afternoon coffee and chip in,” the older gentleman told him with a smile, before picking up his newspaper and walking away.

 

 

Pete smiled as he picked up his bag of books from the kind older lady, clutched them to his chest and smiled all the way out of the bookstore where he caught up with Aaron, shopping done for the moment, as he had found a music CD and got the gifts he wanted. Just as he stopped in front of Aaron, they both got a glazed look in their eyes as Kevin mind called Aaron, and Pete overheard.

 

 

Aaron I think I am being followed…there are two guys, and they look out of place and feel a little bit too interested in me, after I came out of the jewelry store.” Kevin sounded frightened.

 

 

Where are you exactly? I want you to go into the next store, and if the guys still follow you have the clerk or manager call security. Just tell me the store name, so I can find you.” Aaron sent calming thoughts as he started to look around for the mall map, they were everywhere until you needed one, he thought.

 

 

I’m on the second level…and the next store is GNC , a health food store.” Kevin sent, as he entered the store, looking around for someone to help him, spotting a body builder type in a GNC logo shirt, he walked up to him as he glanced over his shoulder like he was looking at the sale display and saw the two men watching him from outside the store. “Excuse me, can you help me, those two old dudes out there have been following me; can you call mall security or the cops,” Kevin fidgeted nervously, as he asked the wide eyed body builder for help.

 

 

Ty heard the plea from the young teen and seeing the very real fear in his face, pointed for him to go over by the register, out of sight of the front door.  “Those two dudes against the planter in the brown and red shirt, are those them?”

 

 

“Yeah, that’s the two, I noticed them after I left the jewelry store downstairs, I went all over the mall and they stayed behind me, even when I went up the escalator and they followed me, I ducked in here to ask for help,” Kevin said, as he remembered the communicator and pulled it out of his bag and placed it in his ear “I called my friends and they are on their way; Aaron told me to ask for help…for someone to call mall security until he got here.” Rambling on, as he was unsettled, “we each wanted to do different things before meeting up for supper at Olive Garden.” Seeing the men start for the store, Kevin sat down on the floor leaning against the counter “SHIT!”

 

 

Catching the kid duck down behind the counter, Ty turned to look back and noticed the two dudes walking towards the store, walking to meet them near the front door, Ty thought to head them off, until the kid's friends could show up, maybe with a parent, seeing he looked too young to drive, “Can I help you today?” he asked, as he stepped in front of the men, they would have to walk around him to get into the store. Luckily, he noticed an older guy rushing through the crowd with another kid by his side, so he just had to hold them off until the kid's friends made it here, another minute or so at most.

 

 

“There is a kid that went into your store; we want to have a word with, blond hair about so tall,” the one on the right held up his hand about head high.

 

 

“What’s the kid done?” Ty wondered if he had misjudged the kid and he was harboring a shoplifter or something.

 

 

“Never you mind, that’s none of your business, why we want to talk to the kid; just let us pass,” the guy on the left threatened.

 

 

“I don’t think so. I don’t take kindly to people stalking kids, so why don’t we wait for security to show up and we can all sit down and talk this out in a nice safe environment.” Ty bluffed, hoping it would work if not, there was always the panic button, he could yell for the kid to push it.

 

 

Sighing, the guy on the right looked at his partner before trying another way, “Look we’re both police officers and you can be arrested for interfering…”

 

 

Ty did not let him finish as the tall guy that was rushing towards the shop slowed down and was behind the two now, so if needed, there was help here now, he looked like a wiry fellow “Look, not that I don’t believe you …but I don’t believe you, the two of you are not dressed like cops, and you did not identify yourself as cops, so that leads me to believe you’re not cops. So unless you tell me what law the kid broke, you are not going in my store.”

 

 

“Yes, please tell me what American law Kevin has broken. I am beginning to think coming to San Francisco for an afternoon of shopping was a mistake.” Aaron told them, the very chill of the arctic in his voice causing the two men to jump in surprise. His cold gaze not leaving the two men who all of a sudden became nervous, called over their heads, “Kevin it is alright to come out now, if either of these two make a single move towards you, they will be dead before the thought leaves their head,” Aaron sent the last mentally.

 

 

Pulling out his passport, and opening it up, so everyone could see it, “Now gentlemen, I do think it is time to indentify ourselves, don’t you?” Aaron commanded, expression leaving no room for doubt. Eyes still on the two men who looked sick, “Kevin, if you would please show us your passport…the one showing your diplomatic immunity.”

 

 

Sensing Pete holding up his passport, open so that everyone could see the red diplomat stamp running up and down the pages, Aaron’s voice became more menacing, “Well, do I have you placed in custody and demand extradition for possible kidnapping, or do you show me your identification…identification that had better clearly show that you both are police officers.”

 

 

Kevin, who had finally peaked over the counter and seeing Aaron, stood, and at his urging pulled his passport out and walked forward, still hesitant of nearing the two men and nodded his head in answer to Aaron’s, “Are you okay?”

 

 

Glancing back at the kid behind, and seeing the same diplomatic passport in the kid’s hand, and its matching picture to the kids face, Rollins blanched, 'Shit' he thought, 'We fucked up this time,' “Jones, pull out your ID slowly, we fucked up; the kid has a diplomatic passport he’s not the runaway we are looking for.”

 

 

Growling in frustration, Jones pulled his wallet out of his back pocket and flipped it open, showing the badge inside; "Fuck, this just what I need. how the hell am I supposed to work like this? Randy needs me and I don’t have any days left to take,” he mumbled under his breath.

 

 

Aaron heard the mumbling and looking at the men’s ID and badges, nodded his head and returned his passport to his pocket. Motioning for Kevin to come close, Aaron pulled him into a hug and kissed the top of his head briefly in the same comforting manner parents do to a frightened child, so no suspicions would be raised. “So, what brought Kevin to your attention and why the hell did you not just identify yourselves and show some ID, instead of chasing him around the mall scaring him half to death?”

 

 

“We are looking for a runaway, we had a tip he was in this mall he’s blond and about his height, what brought Kevin to our attention was he spent an awful long time in the jewelry store downstairs, after spotting us, or at least we assume he spotted us, he left with a tiny box and he used a credit card for the purchase.” Jones sighed, he knew it was not much to go on.

 

 

“Debit card…” Kevin spoke up, as he looked at the two cops, “It was my debit card.”

 

 

“Never gave it a thought; it could be a debit card, after he left the store we started to follow him and he started acting real cagey, as if he was trying to get rid of a tail, so we remained interested, we figured he must be doing something wrong,” Jones told them, not the slightest bit apologetic.

 

 

“I was in there so long because they had the time to make me this,” Kevin pulled out the small box and removed the clear crystal photo, tears in his eyes, hand caressing the top of the crystal “Mom and dad can’t get ruined now,” he whispered as Aaron pulled him tight doing his best to send comforting thoughts to him.

 

 

“That is pretty special Kevin, I bet if we check, there has to be more pictures of your parents out there, after all, they had friends, all we have to do is contact them and ask,” Aaron held him, as Kevin put the photo crystal back in its box. Seeing the questioning looks from the officers, “His parents were killed in an accident not too long ago.”

 

 

Glancing down at Kevin and seeing he was pulling himself together, Aaron glanced at Pete before asking “Where did you guys leave Tim? I thought he would be with you guys, as it’s almost time to meet up for Olive Garden.”

 

 

Tapping the side of his head where the communicator was Aaron spoke up into the mic, “Tim where are you?”

 

 

“I left him at Babbage’s, he wanted to look around and maybe pick up a game or two he has his communicator with him, I watched him put it in his pouch.” Kevin said, worried now that he noticed the time.

 

 

In between, Rollins' cell phone rang, after answering it, he paled as they had received a call from one of the local stores reporting a possible shoplifter being detained, a young boy, moving to the side, he asked dispatch to connect him to the duty captain and started to sweat. If the kid was as young looking as the one with the older guy, he  might not be believed by the store clerk of having money, he had been in that store before and the woman was very snotty and belligerent unless a kid was with an adult. Quickly he explained the impending international incident that had almost happened and how he had a bad feeling about this call as one of the diplomat’s boys was in that store and not answering his radio.

 

 

Yelling with his mind Aaron was worried, “TIM!!” getting nothing back but an image of pain he covered it up wincing and bringing his hand up to cover the communicator as if he had feedback. “Where is Babbage’s.” turning to face the GNC clerk who was watching everything in fascination, “Thank you for helping Kevin, it is nice to know there still are people willing to help out teens instead of looking the other way.”

 

 

“It’s back this way, on the first level near the end,” Kevin took off running down the mall pushing people out of the way followed by Pete.

 

 

Aaron glanced over to the two officers and noticed how pale they looked before he took off running after the boys and he heard the one tell the other the call was from Babbage’s they had detained a kid suspected of shoplifting. He could hear them running after him but ignored them intent on reaching Tim.

 

 

In less than two minutes, Aaron ran into the store as some nasty woman was cussing out his guys for running in the store. Pete pointed to the desk and the pouch on the back counter “That’s Tim’s and she has his communicator.”

 

 

“Where…is…Tim?” Aaron asked through clenched teeth; his rage getting the better of him as he felt Tim’s pain.

 

 

Maureen was lived how dare those brat’s come running into her store like that she would have the police take them in custody along with the other one “Who the hell do you think you are coming in my store and ordering me around.” She got out from behind the counter.

 

 

“Those belong to a member of my family…my Clan; I will not ask again; you will tell me where Tim is, or I shall break your neck,” Aaron let his rage show as the woman backed up briefly.

 

 

Rollins was out of breath as he rounded the corner into the store and had to push his way through the gathered crowd yelling “POLICE!  Let me THROUGH!” While his partner pushed his way through the crowd, Jones got his cell phone out and called for backup.

 

 

“Where is the boy that those belongings should be with?” Rollins was curt in his demand as he flipped open his id case showing his badge.

 

 

“He’s locked up in back, couldn’t let him wander off before you showed up.” Maureen spat out, as she watched, the one guy that was demanding, threw open the back door, “Hey you can’t go back there.”

 

 

Putting his hand out to stop the woman, Rollins asked, “Why do you suspect him of shoplifting and under what grounds did you take his belongings from him.”

 

 

Pausing, Maureen was not stupid and she winced as she heard the tone of the cop's voice, he was not happy. “That little street urchin tried to pay for an expensive game with a stolen credit card, he denied it when I confronted him and got mouthy and asked for his card back when I threw it in the trash, his type are nothing but trouble. I don’t want their type in my store.”

 

 

Rollins looked at the woman like she was crazy, here she was creating an international incident and jumped at the large bang from the back room and she smirked. “He is locked up tight, I don’t expect him to get in without the …” she trailed off as all eyes were on the tall man carrying out the young teen who was bleeding from a split lip and crying, the crowd started to mutter angrily.

 

 

Setting Tim down on the floor Aaron caught, out of the corner of his eye, the woman stepping towards him and using his whole body came up and backhanded her sending her flying across the room. “Tim certainly did not look like this, when we entered this blasted place. Consider this the request for extradition for trial on charges of kidnapping and attempted murder.” Aaron’s hate filled gaze pierced Rollins as the crowd was parted by a large number of police officers.

 

 

Returning to Tim’s side, he took out the scanner from his other pocket and started to examine Tim’s injuries. Taking the wet cloth from Kevin with thanks, he started to clean up the blood on his face and was slightly concerned by the swelling and bruising already forming around his left eye. The scanner did not show any internal injuries or cranial bleeds, but the confusion and pain Tim was radiating, clearly showed he had a concussion, “This is the last time we go anywhere without guards.”

 

 

Patricia Wright, the regional manager for Babbage’s walked into the store, by telling the officers she was the manager and her fiancé Brad was by her side as she walked to the counter where a teenager was digging through the garbage looking for something, she noticed he stood up holding a broken credit card or maybe it was a debit card, curious she picked up the small metal case on the counter and looked at the cover hearing Brad mutter softly “Dear God, don’t let it be true,” before he gently took the case from her hand and opened it paling further. “Brad…” she started to say, as he handed the closed case to the angry teen behind the counter who was gathering up the belongings. She watched him stumble back to the counter as the teen spoke up.

 

 

“Aaron, Tim’s debit card is in two pieces and his communicator was broken, his CD’s that he bought are gone” Pete brought the stuff over to where Kevin was sitting looking frightened, hugging him, he waited while Aaron finished the scans.

 

 

Waving Kevin and Pete over, “Relax guys, he has a mild concussion and a split lip, he’ll probably have a black eye until we get him home and into the med bay, he is confused from the pain right now. We don’t leave home without guards and a med kit from now on though,” Aaron said gently as he stood up, “Now cuddle with him and try to give him as much comfort as you can…” his voice got loud and cold, “I have a bitch to kill.”

 

 

Aaron ignored the cries of “EMT’S let us through until they went to pass him and he held an arm out to stop them. “He stays here, a cold pack and treat the bleeding only, do not move him,” before walking away.

 

 

Seeing the EMT about to say something, Brad pulled his id out of his pocket and rushed over, his shock pushed back for the moment he had an international incident to avert, at least he hoped he could.

 

 

“Captain Barnes this is…” Rollins looked down at his notepad to double check “Aaron Stranton…”

 

 

Brad, having instructed the EMT’s and assured they would follow his orders, walked up as the officer introduced the division Captain to the tall young man and when he heard the name it slipped out, “Fuck me hard, what a cluster fuck.”

 

 

“Maybe later,” Aaron smirked, before turning back to face the police Captain, “What are you planning to do with that?” he pointed at the woman handcuffed between two officers.

 

 

“She will be charged and tried for what she has done, she will not have an easy time of it in jail, I assure you.” Captain Barnes tried for diplomacy not knowing who this person was other than he had diplomatic immunity.

 

 

“We, of course, will bring the full weight of the state department behind this, getting her convicted, she will not get off, I guarantee it,” Brad assured the very angry young man.

 

 

“Twenty years State Department, twenty years without parole or the accord of 1941 is null and void,” Aaron told him coldly, as Brad flinched back at the intensity in Aaron’s eyes.

 

 

Feeling a hand on his arm, Aaron turned around replacing his anger with a gentle expression before facing Kevin, “Hey love, what can I do for you, does Tim need me?”

 

 

“He starting to make sense again, though he is in a lot of pain…no, I wanted to run back to the music store since we could not find the CD’s he bought, I was with him and wanted to replace them before he asked for them. I thought I should ask before rushing off, especially after all this,” Kevin said softly, as he looked back at Pete and Tim, Pete looked devastated.

 

 

Thinking about the request, Aaron was torn, on the one had it was a good idea, on the other they just learned that it was not safe at this mall and then Aaron noticed the news crews and frowned.

 

 

Captain Barnes noticed the frown on Aarons face and turned to look in the direction he was facing and muttered to himself, just what they needed the fucking vultures masquerading as news media. “We will be happy to provide an escort, and the music store is only ten stores down on this side, so it won’t take long.”

 

 

Aaron nodded his head at the offer, “There and back real quick…here,” he dug into his pouch and pulled out ten twenties and handed them over, “Use this, no sense wasting either of your allowances, just make sure you bring me the receipt because that thing is going to pay for the new CD’s.” Aaron watched Kevin walk over to the officers who had been motioned forward and he was escorted out of the store past all the reporters.

 

 

Going back over to Tim, he used the scanner one more time to check for internal bleeding or swelling while the EMT’S looked on in awe, seeing everything was still negative Aaron sat down across form Tim and turned the scanner off, before putting it back in his pocket. “What happened, Tim?” the question of course caused everyone to go quiet as they too wanted to hear what had happened.

 

 

Tim looked up and tried to smile at Pete, “I’m fine, or will be once we get back home.” looking at Aaron he felt safe, as even though he did not have a chance to call for help, he still came after him, and rescued him. “I looked around for a bit, looking for something to play like a simulator or something all the guys could play together. That woman, she started to yell at me for looking and taking too much time, so I picked one of the games I was trying to decide on, and went to the counter, I figured maybe we could go to best buy or something after eating. She rang up the game and told me it was sixty nine fifty and when I tried to swipe my debit card she went ballistic. She tore it out of my hand and when I asked for it back she told me she was going to keep it she said kids were not allowed to have credit cards…” Tim looked at Aaron, tears running down his face, “I tried being nice and told her that it was a debit card from my bank account, that is when she hit me the first time, then she picked me up and tore my belt pouch off my pants and dragged me in the back room. She told me she was going to drain my account dry and no one would believe a brat like me anyway and she threw me in that cage and I hit my head, I don’t remember too much after that, until that nasty smelling stuff was waved under my nose and the ice pack placed on my eye, I think she took my money too, it’s not in my pouch with the rest of my things. She broke my debit card and the communicator you gave me,” Tim broke down and fell into Aaron’s chest.

 

 

“Shh…Shh, it’s going to be alright, Tim, those things can be replaced very easily.” Aaron softly told him as he rubbed his back and sent comfort his way, with his free hand he motioned for Pete to come closer and pulled him into the hug also, so Tim was sandwiched between them.

 

 

A few minutes later, Kevin snuck back in, holding the bag from the music store, smiling as he sent to Aaron, “The guy from the music store was waiting for me, he had gone back and looked up the sale and had the CD’s at the counter, he refused to let me pay for them, his manager told him about what happened as she’s watching in the crowd and told him to replace them.”

 

 

“Feel like getting out of here?” Aaron asked Tim, now that he had worked it out of his system, “from now on, we don’t leave home without a lot of guards surrounding us. This will never happen again, I promise.”

 

 

“Can we get something to eat?  I’m kind of hungry,” Tim questioned as he was helped to his feet by Pete and Kevin while Aaron watched Rollins walk out of the back room, shaking his head with a person with a camera.

 

 

Standing up, Aaron looked at Tim one more time to make sure he was steady, “Maybe something light and then if you keep it down, you can eat whatever you want.” He compromised, “If we go to the food court and get something from the Chinese place like won ton soup, something like that, and it does not make you sick, we will go get something a little more substantial to eat.”

 

 

Turning around and looking at the crowd of reporters and media camera’s pointing their way Aaron groaned  before looking at the pained expression on the police Captain's face, as he walked closer, “Tell me they did not hear every word that was just said and broadcast it out live?”

 

 

Captain Barnes looked over his shoulder and seeing the lights on the top of the cameras slowly nodded his head, “I’m afraid so.”

 

 

“Can you find out who is in charge over there, and ask them to come speak with me, without a camera or microphone, I am going to be very unhappy if that went out live, showing the boys faces.” Turning to Brad, Aaron added for good measure, “And you, Mr. State Department, had best make sure that the story is not picked up by the national stations with the boys' face’s showing, I assure you that you would not like the fallout if that happens.”

 

 

“Hello, my name is…” the reporter walked up, holding out her hand but was interrupted by Aaron, “I really don’t care who you are at the moment, I realize that you consider what happened here news, but I want assurances from you that the boys' faces were not shown, that the newsroom noticed they were minors and took it upon themselves to fuzz out their faces, especially showing on television the victim of a crime's face, a victim who happens to be a minor.”

 

 

Startled, the reporter stepped backwards as Aaron drove his point home and she nervously looked back to her camera man for support, “I really don’t know if they did or not…I should just check on it…”  She stuttered at the hard look on Aaron’s face before slowly pulling out her cell phone and hitting speed dial as she stepped back a few more steps. Talking into her phone for a few minutes, she sighed in relief as she hung up. Looking over to her camera man, she made a motion to shut off filming and walked back. “I talked to the newsroom, they have not broadcast the clip yet, they planned on making it breaking news for the six o clock segment. Legal is now wary of using the clip at all.”

 

 

Nodding his head Aaron threw a bone to the reporter, “I don’t care if you use the clip with the police’s permission, the only thing I want to make sure of is that all of the boys' faces must be blacked out at all times, if you use it. Now, if you will excuse me, I have three hungry teens to feed, and hopefully the one will be able to keep it down.”

 

 

Walking back to the boys, Aaron smiled, “Okay news media taken care of, nothing with your faces can be used, let’s go get something to eat.”

 

 

“Rollins and Jones will tag along with you if you don’t mind, that way we can be assured that nothing happens while you are eating.” Captain Barnes motioned for the two undercover officers to step forward before moving back to the police line.

 

 

Aaron gazed at the two for a moment before coming to the point, “I know we got off to a bad start, but don’t you have to go home and be with your families instead of babysitting some foreign diplomats, that were just trying to go shopping without all the hoopla surrounding them like a state visit?”

 

 

“Well time and a half is nothing to sneeze at, and we get dinner out of it to boot,“ Rollins smiled, while Jones looked pained.

 

 

Gazing questioningly at Jones, he finally sighed, “I need the overtime, my son is sick and unfortunately medical costs are mounting so the extra money is very helpful right now.”

 

 

Watching the mob start to disperse and the news crew start to dismantle their equipment, Aaron decided now would be the time to leave, before anyone else approached them, “Let’s sneak out now while everyone is distracted.”

 

 

Careful not to look too obvious, the group left the store and headed back to where they entered the mall in the first place when Pete asked the question Aaron had been trying to figure a way around, “How are we getting to wherever we are going, we have no car here, we can’t port in front of them” he sent the last to Aaron.

 

 

“Are the two of you planning on following us, or did you have something else in mind?” Aaron asked, as Tim moved into his side and looked up, “Can we still go to Olive Garden like we planned, I can get a cup of chicken soup first, but I was looking forward to eating there at least once.”

 

 

Thinking about it, Aaron nodded his head and gave Tim a hug before changing directions so they headed to the other side of the aisle and the doors leading to the outside of the mall on the opposite side of where they had entered. Sensing the confusion among his three, Aaron smiled, “Olive Garden is in front of the mall on the other side of the parking lot, there is no reason to be lazy and drive around when we have perfectly good working legs.”

 

 

Kevin and Officer Jones took the lead, as they walked across the parking lot, while Pete and Tim each to one of Aaron’s sides and officer Rollins brought up the rear. Glancing behind him, Aaron made sure his voice did not carry “So what is wrong with Officer Jones' son?”

 

 

Moving closer to so he could whisper, Rollins whispered, “Leukemia. They’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work, there is a new treatment his doctor wants to try, he called Jones all excited about it right before we caught sight of Kevin. Only problem is, it won’t be available for a month until the new hospital has a chance of being fully staffed, evidently they pioneered the treatment, but I don’t think Neil will be around at the end of the month.”

 

 

Aaron did not say anything and they finished the crossing in silence. Entering the restaurant they asked for an isolated table in the back, and after having to talk to the manager to get the table they wanted, as the section was closed, they finally got to sit down. All through dinner Aaron was quiet. The two outsiders just believed he was pensive for some reason that had to do with Tim’s attack, but in reality Aaron was having a conversation with Chris who had ported over to Altair med bay to question Theo.

 

 

When they passed on desert, Kevin, who had slid next to Aaron so Pete could be closest to Tim discretely passed the ten twenties back to Aaron under the table. Taking the bill and the little book from the waitress, Aaron glanced at it before putting six of the twenties inside and placing it on the table and catching the waitress’s eye, he tapped it and nodded his head.

 

 

“Well gentleman, I thank you for your company, even though I know you would have preferred to be home with your son, officer Jones, this is where we leave you as our ride should be outside by now.” Seeing their questioning looks that passed between them, Aaron smiled as the guys stood up before tapping the side of his head under the communicator with his head turned so they could see. Finally coming to a decision, Aaron picked up the pen off the table and grabbed one of those comment cards and wrote down an address before handing it over to Jones, “The Alteran Prince will be docking Thursday night at this address, while the Altair hospital is not staffed yet, the Alteran Prince is. Though the Prince can only handle four emergency patients…well the med bay is normally empty and seeing as the Prince will be in port until the following Monday, I see no reason that your son can’t be treated while the Prince is in dock, after all, there should not be any reason for the crew to use the med bay, under normal circumstances emergencies don’t happen while docked.” Aaron left the table with his three, and left two very stunned officers behind.

 

 

Walking outside, the foursome made their way to a dark corner and Aaron pulled them in close and ported them all back to the island, just outside the main med bay, “Come on Tim, a few minutes on a bio-bed and a dose of Nanite’s should have you fixed up in no time.”

 

 

 

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