Chapter 20





Five a.m. the next morning came pretty early as Aaron woke up and looked at the clock, not glaring at it exactly as he was used to getting up early to do chores, more like wanting to roll back the time so he could get a few more hours before he had to deal with all the shit the emails were creating. When he had finally gotten back last night, he had gone through all the emails and was not surprised to find more coming in from different U.S. agencies demanding changes or back door access to some of the technology he had released that was flying off the shelves. Some of the departments like the FBI were getting downright nasty in their demands, adding open threats to their emails. There was even one posting of a law suit being filed against Altare Technologies which, from Roger’s comments, all boiled down to the fact the company was not happy not being able to reverse engineer any of their chips or mother boards and wanted full access to the plans to be competitive.



Turning over, he found his bed empty, frowning, he distinctly remembered falling asleep last night with both Pete and Tim spooned next to each other. Getting up and taking a quick shower, Aaron dressed in shorts and grabbed a shirt to wear later on before heading out of his room and heading towards his office for a quick scan of his emails before heading topside. Glancing around the empty rooms, he wondered where everyone was at. He knew Fred had spent the night topside with Mark, so that left David and Derrick spending time with Kenny and Damien, so there should be four guys around somewhere and none of them had breakfast duty this morning as it was David’s turn to cook. Curious, now that he was upstairs and had not found anyone, Aaron peered over the railing to look out at the city a moment, before hearing sounds coming from his office.



Stopping at the door, Aaron saw the missing teens, Kevin was in his chair while the other three stood in front of different sections of the wall reading from the plasma screen monitors. “Good morning loves, how long have you guys been up and what on earth are you guys doing,” Aaron's tone was curious as he saw the different screens being accessed as if by separate terminals which he knew was not possible, there was only one terminal in the room, after all.



Kevin glanced over his shoulder towards Aaron, “About fifteen minutes, we wanted to get some of this out of the way and I wanted to make sure the new filters on the system Core were working.”



Feeling the curiosity coming from behind him, Pete turned around so he could face Aaron and grinned, “Tommy has Kevin’s P.A.D.D. and because he is logged into the terminal he can control his monitor with it, while Tim and I just path Kevin, next, delete or whatever.”



Blinking in thought, Aaron slowly nodded his head, that would explain what was going on and he had to give them credit, he would never have thought of doing things that way, to them it made sense and more importantly, it worked. Grinning at Pete, “What a novel way to get things done…so, anything interesting this morning?”



Tommy grinned, “Mark will be happy to hear his purchases made it to the quarantine center and should arrive Friday, I forwarded that to his account and I signed up for a short course in the Virgin Islands, a long weekend at the university there giving a hands on experience and classroom study on Aquaponics, it’s a four day course though…” his voice sounded excited before trailing off to hopeful, “if I can go, I need to pay for it by Wednesday.”



Seeing the hopeful expression, Aaron considered before nodding, “Use the Clan credit card and make sure that there is room for the three security officers that will go with you, if you have to sign them up for the class to get them in, do so.”



Looking over at Tim with a smile, “How about it Tim, anything interesting in what you are looking through?” Aaron asked, moving behind him so he could look over his shoulder so to speak.



“Not really, there were a couple of emails testing the waters on whether we can help them or not, but they really didn’t say what they needed help with, I’m thinking maybe a web site or two might be helpful, but have no clue on how to go about building one. But it might cut down on a lot of the bullshit emails we are getting, especially for the hospital, I think half of those were requests for the cost of a particular treatment,” Tim sounded frustrated as he felt Aaron's arms come around him and pull him in close.



Leaning over and whispering in Tim’s ear, “Just do what I do when I need something done that I don’t know how to do, I find someone that can, and hire them to do the job. Place an ad at monster dot com or one of the other online job listing sites and find yourself some computer geeks, it might be helpful in ferreting out the locations of other re-educations centers if you had a staff of people doing the looking. And if they were young and gay there would be incentive, try listing a couple of ads in England to see if you can snatch the interest of a young geek or two and let them do the hunting for you for the rest of the staff needed.”




Tim smiled and melted back into the warm embrace, Aaron’s warm embrace, and nodded his head, “I can do that, first thing after lessons.”



“I thought we were going to have a picnic and go horseback riding, or some of you were going to start learning to ride, plus it’s Sunday.” Aaron protested, this day was all for relaxing and being together.



Giggling Tim looked up at Aaron’s chin, “We are, the only lessons this morning are the ones we are giving the Miami Six in porting, were all going to pitch in so it takes less time and then later on we’ll each help David and Derrick with telepathy and Kinesis during the day on and off.”



“Besides, you need to meet with the Queen and her grandsons this morning, you never did go back over there last night and she must be worried,” Pete said, as he walked over, “Tommy, you might want to consider getting some horses and setting up a stable over on Altair so there are things for the families to do, I bet a lot of the sick kids, after being fixed up, would like to spend a day doing things they never could, because they were sick.”



“We could, probably after Brian’s father gets here to kind of watch them; there are barns over there after all, why?” Tommy left his screen after shutting it down and walked over.



Fidgeting a little, Pete looked to Aaron for support, “Well I was thinking, the prince's can’t come here, but it would be nice to talk with them again and they are probably pretty bored with nothing to do and I assume they know how to ride, but we don’t yet, it still might be fun and a way to get to know them better.”



“Well, the horses could be moved over there, but the island is only about three miles across either way, maybe…” Aaron was thinking aloud, “there is no reason we have to have our picnic here, and while I am meeting with the Queen this morning and being available to the staff, as the first of the patients are released from the bio-tubes, and meeting with the pilots so they can get their hands on the ram jets, maybe you guys can snag the princes and go exploring, visit the farms and Tommy could stop by the sea farms and freshwater farms and get them started. I bet the two prince's have never really been to a working farm before, not that there are any animals there yet, but it would give you guys a chance to talk, we can have a picnic on the beach there, even go fishing. I suppose I can even port the horses over for the day with their tack, and you can start lessons there, but part of this day was to be us spending time together, so after say two in the afternoon, we would move back here and I could arrange a cookout on the beach and we would spend the rest of the day together, all of us…well Mark and Fred will miss out, as they start alteration later this afternoon, so talk it over with everyone, and let me know at breakfast what you guys want to do, I expect with the youngest prince being released from the bio-tube tomorrow, you would have one more day to get to know them better, before they leave to go home on Tuesday.”



The four teens looked at each other, thinking about the choices offered, before nodding their heads, Kevin stood up and logged off the terminal, “We have chores to get started, let’s talk to Mark and Fred to see if they are willing to spend some time with the prince's, since they are going to be gone for two days, but the chance to get to inspect the farms over there might do it, maybe we should spend the morning over there and have the picnic and be together over here, that way we can do both.” Smiling at Aaron as he waved to the seat he had vacated, “I got it all warm for you, we’ll handle chores this morning and David said last night breakfast would be ready at seven thirty.”



Sitting down Aaron smiled, “Thanks, hopefully I can get caught up, tell you what I’ll bring the Miami group up along with the Graves brothers, I’ll talk to Scott or John this morning to see when they think they can get someone to open the dining hall over here, or maybe just make extra food that can be ported over for now. Once the city starts filling up with people, I’m sure there will be plenty of volunteers to take turns in the dining halls or even open a restaurant or two.”



Aaron watched their pert firm butts walk out off the office before logging into the terminal and sighed at the sheer number of emails still left to go through. Well, complaining about them will not get them read any faster, he thought as he opened the first one, starting with the easy ones first, he thought, those that came in from his businesses.



An hour later found Aaron staring at the monitor at a carefully worded invitation from the White House; political pressure must be intense, he thought.` So far sixteen separate governors had sent requests for face to face meetings to formalize trade agreements and the possibility of constructing a hospital in their area. After reading those, he had opened this one and now his mind was going over all the possibilities, on one hand, you had the state governments begging for his business, and on the other the federals wanted to control his businesses. He had placed on hold the buyouts of several companies that Roger was working on, not about to extend his holdings any further in the U.S. which had a nasty habit of seizing assets that did not belong to them, and with the latest batch of threats from federal agencies and the lawsuit which asked that the RICO ACT be invoked, stating they had an unfair monopoly on the new technology.



Saving the request along with some others he was going to share with Victoria this morning, Aaron moved to the next email which was a request by the U.N. Security Council to meet and become a signatory to a whole list of accords he did not agree with. Typing out a reply that would not agree to anything other than further discourse face to face, at a location of his choice, he sent it off.



Finding that folder now empty, Aaron checked through some of the others and found, for the most part, they too had been taken care of. Thinking about things, he decided that if the meeting this morning went as he thought it would, he would move the headquarters of all his American based companies to Canada or the UK, leaving the American firms as distribution points for the American consumer.



He was about to log out of the system when the screen flashed red with the warning of an approaching jet, it seems it had tripped the first warning boundary. Activating the system so he could watch and listen live while it was recorded, he sat back expressionless as events unfolded in front of him.



“Attention approaching aircraft, you are headed into a no fly zone; correct course to two zero three immediately.”



Fiddling with the scanners, Aaron was rewarded when he heard the pilot’s voice calling back to its base.



“Romeo Foxtrot Flight to command, have breached outer boundary two zero miles from border, repeat I have breached boundary twenty miles from border and have been warned off.’



“Copy that, Romeo Foxtrot, proceed as planned.”



“Roger that, tying in radio traffic now, camera’s are active.”



“Unidentified aircraft, you have breached the outer marker and are approaching Alteran Airspace…you are ordered to turn to heading one eight zero…you have now been classified as hostile, if you enter Alteran Airspace, you will be destroyed.”



“Romeo Foxtrot, you are to clear all weapons…proceed with mission as planned.”



“Roger that base…approaching Alteran airspace, enter………”



Silence greeted the listeners on board the air craft carrier, as the reconnaissance pilot's voice was cut off mid word, the captain looked over at the air boss who was glued to the shoulder of one of the communications officers, who was frantically trying to establish contact.



“Romeo foxtrot, repeat last….Romeo foxtrot repeat last transmission.”



Aaron knew there would not be any response; he had watched the screen as the jet had crossed the invisible barrier surrounding his kingdom, as soon as the jet was inside the barrier, it immediately stopped working and dropped like a meteor, the escape hatch being chemically operated deployed, but the jet had gone into a rapid spin and the pilot and its chair did not eject as the electric bolt did not disengage trapping the pilot as the jet crashed into the ocean at a high rate of speed, breaking up on contact. The pilot had not survived impact; the first test of their defenses in sixty four years had taken place and a man had died because some politician did not want to believe the treaty that they were forced to sign in the forties, as world war two broke out, when his future self had started carving out the kingdom and setting the defenses so sixty five years later, a place would be built and ready for when he made the trip back in time.



“Captain…Romeo Foxtrot seemed to fall straight down, once it breached Alteran Airspace, it’s as if the jet was smacked down out of the sky.”



“Communications, get Washington on the horn we need to report this, hard port…..”



The captain must have realized he was speaking over a live mic and disconnected, Aaron downloaded a copy of the transmission, and what his pickups had transmitted to him to his P.A.D.D.  without thinking about it, he stared at the screen trying to decide how he felt, a man had just lost his life by someone else’s orders. Shaking himself out of his thoughts, he quickly brought up some draft emails he had been working on and gave a few final instructions before sending them, it was time to go underground with their activities in the States…Miami house would be the only obvious recruitment center, while the others would be carefully hidden, even if relations would become friendly with the United States. With that decision, the universe paused and took notice; the last possible chance of the future that spawned the current rewrite had of coming into being was destroyed with that single decision.



Sitting at the table eating breakfast, Aaron laughed along with the others with the joke one of the twins made, all in all, it was a very enjoyable breakfast that helped to put out of his mind the event that happened an hour and a half ago. Gathering his dishes so he could take them to the kitchen to wash, the table became silent which caused Aaron to look up.



Seeing Aaron gathering his plate and silverware, Adam, after being nudged in the ribs from both sides, by his brothers, nervously got to his feet and shuffled over to the table Aaron was sitting at and stared at his feet for a moment before clearing his throat and looking up, looking up from his feet he found himself staring into the curious eyes of the person he wanted to talk to, “Um…” shuffling his feet he wondered why this was so hard.



“Come here Adam, I don’t bite... unless you ask me to,” Aaron smiled at his attempt of levity, sensing how nervous he was, he held out his arms, “do you want a hug.”



Nodding his head shyly, Adam stepped forward and was drawn into the warm embrace of the man responsible for sending help to rescue them. “I checked the email drop this morning, Dad left a reply to a message I left.”



Jerry and Terry moved over so they were standing behind their brother, opening his arms up wider, Aaron reached over and pulled them into the hug, when he saw tears in their eyes, “What happened?”



“They found mom's body, or the Air Force told Dad they did, they also told him we were presumed dead too,” Terry cried, “And they won’t let him come home.”



“Dad said to ask for as…aslum…something like that and to stay put until he could find a way to escape.” Adam whispered.



“You mean Asylum…” Aaron gently corrected, by then, all the guys had gathered round to offer their support and comfort. “Asylum means one country gives a person protection from the country they were born and raised in, well, it is a little more complicated than that, but it will work as an explanation, so we’ll start with that.”



“Terry Graves…Jerry Graves…Adam Graves, I herby grant you asylum in the kingdom of Altare, I sever all ties to your birth country the United States, and make you citizens of the kingdom.” Aaron smiled gently, “Now all you need to do is drop an email to your dad and find out the best place for us to pick him up in a week’s time, let’s see that would be next Saturday or Sunday real early in the morning, wherever he thinks its best.”



Adam shook his head, “That won’t work; he’s on an aircraft carrier.”



Aaron went cold, remembering the jet from several hours ago, “What does your dad fly?”



Terry smiled, “He’s in search and recovery he flies a helicopter…a jet one I think.”



Aaron slowly let the breath out, for a second there, he was really worried, “It might take a bit longer, but we should be able to pick him up, even if he has to jump off the ship and we pick him up in the water, he just needs to find a way to let us know where to pick him up.”



The Graves brothers, still sad but having a purpose now, moved off to be with the Miami guys in line to get transported back to the city near their apartment, giving Kevin more practice on porting people and objects by sending everyone back to the arrival area by the med bay, Tommy shyly made his way over to Aaron with a scanner in his hand, handing it to Aaron he smiled, “I took a reading this morning, and the number of sperms is up…um how high does it need to be before I can be altered?”



Taking the scanner from Tommy with a smile, Aaron activated the screen and glanced down from the nervous teen to the screen to read the report, he’d gone from a couple hundred to five thousand in a week's time, “Well, it looks like Friday morning your mine, just keep practicing like you have been,” Aaron smirked, “welcome to puberty, Tommy.”



“YES….YES…” Tommy jumped in the air in joy at hearing what he was hoping to hear.



Laughing at Tommy’s antics, Aaron waited until he calmed down before handing back his scanner, “Well guys, have you decided what you’re going to do this morning?”



Kevin walked back, after porting the others down, Pete had ported sandwich fixings into the dining hall so they would have something to eat later while they were off having their alone time this afternoon, “We left it up to Mark and Fred, they are the ones that did not get all that much sleep last night with the other cow giving birth and all.”



Glancing Mark’s way, Aaron smiled at the tired looking duo, “Hard delivery?” taking in Fred’s blush, he laughed, so the delivery was only the start or finish to another kind of delivery.



“We decided to go with your suggestion; we’ll spend the morning over there and have our lunch here before breakthrough.” Mark stifled a yawn.



“Breakthrough?” Aaron, slightly confused because of the conversation jumping around, stood up preparing to get a move on, waving the others to follow to the gestalt column.



“If we are going to be around non Alteran’s, we need to get into the habit of always referring to the procedure by what would happen if we were born Alteran,” Tim brought up the rear of the group.



Thinking about it for a moment, he did vaguely remember saying something about how those born with the gifts would have them appear at puberty, they must have done some reading to find that vague reference. “Alrighty, we're porting to the sea farm, all the farms are near the opposite end of the island from the hospital, and they all share the same reactor, so I’ll power it up and then we can head over on a few of the electric haulers, that should give you roughly three hours with the prince's, to get to know them better.” He sent the visualization of the farm at the same time he spoke to all who could port, and then remembered the medallions.



Porting the box that held the medallions to his hand, Aaron quickly gave the same speech to David and Derrick that he had to the others so they would feel how he ported, and slowed down the process after linking to their minds so they could see what he was talking about. Once he arrived, he saw Tommy staring impatiently at him while standing next to the terminal. Laughing, he walked over and kissed him silly, letting him go when Tommy’s eyes glazed over and his shorts tented to an uncomfortable level, “That’ll teach you.”



Logging in, Aaron entered the codes to start the pre-warming cycle and called everyone over, “I have something for you guys, a way for you to always carry the Clan Crest around without wearing dress clothes all the time.” Opening the lid on the box, Aaron showed them the contents and pulled the first one out and smiling at Tim as he unclasped the lock with a bit of Kinesis and twirled his finger around so Tim would face away from him. He placed each medallion around his lovers' necks in the order they joined, Tim, Pete and Kevin being first and then Mark having his placed around his neck last.



Kenny, beaming at the medallion he was holding in his hand, looked up and around at all the smiling faces, and when he found Aaron, he noticed he was not wearing one, “Hey where’s yours, we all got one, but you don’t have one.”



Smiling, Aaron held out his right hand so they could all take a good look at his ring, “Mine's right here,” pointing to the medallion Kenny was holding, “That is the symbol of our Clan, all members of our Clan are entitled to wear it, the clan leaders would be slightly bigger and more colorful, but only the king can wear his crest on his ring.”



Kenny compared the ring to his medallion he thought his was nicer, “But yours is not as pretty as ours.”



Laughing, Aaron stood back up and initiated the reactor start up, “But mine, when pressed into sealing wax, makes a neat 3-d image in the wax that makes the document legal.”




Picking up the box and closing the lid on the last two medallions inside, he was planning to give them to the two British boys when he brought them out of their bio-tubes this morning. He had thought about what to do and had come up with a new information packet he would download into their brains before waking them, that way they would have had a chance to work through the pain of their parents rejection and get used to the new changes in their lives. Unethical as hell normally, except these two were being adopted into the Clan in a way that gave him a little wiggle room, hell, Kenny and Damien had already fixed up their rooms to welcome them to the family in their section of the Clan Hall.



Walking out of the barn slash office last, Aaron broke into laughter when he saw the scowl on Kenny’s face as he had disconnected the hauler from the charger and stomped the gas pedal and nothing happened, he had forgotten that these haulers wouldn’t be charged up. “Sorry guys, I forgot that the haulers would not have a chance to charge with the reactor offline, give me a minute to port over some spare jumper packs and we’ll be all set.” Closing his eyes, Aaron searched with his mind the construction bays deep under the island for the jumper packs, finally finding them, he ported seven of them to his location and smiled when he opened his eyes and saw that they had indeed made it. Picking up the first pack with the jumper cable dangling, he went over to Kenny’s cart, “Watch carefully and I’ll show you how to install one of these if you ever have to do it in the future.”



Releasing the catch that held the back of the hauler bed in place, Aaron pivoted the bed up exposing the engine compartment below, sliding open a white and red striped panel, he lowered the jumper pack into the open space and clicked the end of the cable into the receptacle, “Pretty easy, actually, the only thing you need to remember is to remove the jumper pack before you plug the hauler back in for charging, so it doesn’t blow up.” He smirked as he saw Kenny’s eyes go wide and double check to see how close the compartment was to his seat,  by his antics Kenny thought it was too close.



Lowering the hopper and pushing until he heard the click of the latch catching, Aaron stood up and noticed everyone else installing the jumper packs into the haulers, “You're good to go, Kenny.” Aaron told him, moving back, as Kenny stomped down on the peddle, causing the tires to spin dirt as the hauler took off. Laughing, he grabbed the last jumper pack and quickly installed it before climbing in and bringing up the rear, hopefully Kenny, who was leading the others knew where he was going, otherwise he would be the only one to get to the hospital this morning. One of the others must have yelled that same question as he saw Kenny waving his P.A.D.D. in the air.



Pulling behind the hospital near the kitchen, Aaron saw John and Scott sitting outside the receiving cooler on the bank wall, talking while holding hands. Telling the others to go on and find the prince's that he would join them in a few minutes as he was going to see how John and Scott were getting on.



“Are they always that full of energy,” John questioned, as Aaron walked over near them.



Laughing, Aaron nodded, “Pretty much, we're all pretty energetic and get up early, he’s had three hours to blow off steam; you should see him first thing.”



Scott shuddered, “it’s all I can do in the morning to get up and out of bed, let alone have that much energy.”



Taking a seat on the low wall, Aaron looked at the couple, “So you’ve cooked a full three meals in an unfamiliar kitchen for upwards of a thousand people, and we’re not at full capacity yet; so how’d the day go?”



Laughing, John smirked at his brother who was his lover, “Scott here, walked into the kitchen yesterday grumbling the whole time about not having time to do things properly and how he would not be able to find anything. Well, I swear, as soon as he walked in the kitchen, his eyes grew huge and he started shivering like he was creaming his shorts. He does this for oh about a minute before he takes off running around the different areas and looking through the clear walled coolers.” Ducking his brothers arm he bounced up and back laughing, “we had pretty much decided on sandwiches and maybe burgers and hot dogs, simple things for lunch, while acclimating to the kitchen, and doofus here started grumbling about not finding the hot dogs anywhere and what kind of children’s hospital did not stock hot dogs?”



“Oh sure, laugh it up while sleeping on the couch, brother dear…how the hell was I supposed to know that we were supposed to make things from scratch, you conveniently left that out,” Scott scolded his brother, before turning a leer on Aaron, “Well? When can I get my hands on it…”



Aaron blinked at the innuendo and stared at the young man before smirking back, “Stand in line…older and wiser than you have tried to get their hands on it.”



Scott blinked in shock, before blushing, stuttering out denials, “What…who….me…you…that’s not what I meant; get your head out of the gutter.”



Rolling on the ground laughing, John wheezed out with tears in his eyes, “Watch it lover boy, that’s the man who signs our paycheck…right, your Majesty?”



Scowling at the laughing buffoon on the ground, Aaron finally chuckled, “I knew what you meant. Later today, I’ll send you a file with my sausage recipes in it, the only thing I have to say is, that you will not skimp with the quality, no fat goes in any of my sausage.”



Standing up Aaron brushed his shorts off, “Consider this a trial run, once the hospital is empty on Tuesday, you can spend the next two weeks practicing and planning menus while you use that time to build up stocks. Remember, everything is to be made from scratch after this crowd goes home. I have a feeling that instead of the four weeks I had planned to get everyone settled in, we will be lucky to have two before this place fills up once more.” Sighing, Aaron looked down at the two,” are you going to need more staff?”



Kneeling behind his brother, John nodded his head as he massaged Scott’s shoulders, “We’re keeping barely ahead right now, but we normally have a staff of thirty and only twelve came with us, well, only twelve are gay so we knew without a doubt they would not have a problem being accepting. I put the word out that we would be hiring and a brief description of the job, as we want all gay catering staff, but it is going to be tough filling the slots in just two weeks.”



“Put the word out worldwide then, place some ads in the major job advertisers and hit the overseas ones as well, you can do the first interview by phone, then a second by video conference and for the lucky candidates, we’ll fly them in for the final interview and run them by the telepaths to make sure they’re trustworthy.” Aaron leaned forward and whispered, “That is until we get the two of you through the alteration process, and you can screen them yourselves.”



Hearing a stampede behind him, Aaron glanced over his shoulder, smiling as his crew came bounding out of the hospital practically dragging the two prince's, the younger of which could not tear his eyes off of Fred.



Kevin, who had come out first, heard the end of the conversation, “Try to find two extra gay chefs, young ones, they can run the dining hall by the med bay and if you can find a real cute young Japanese one that can handle other styles, we could use some help in the Clan Hall with supper several nights a week, giving us all time to relax with each other, they could pop in, fix supper and pop out, Aaron likes Chinese food and none of us can figure out how to cook it.”



Staring at the younger prince who was seriously crushing on Fred, Kevin almost missed Scott’s question, “How young is too young?”



Turning back distracted, “Old enough to shoot sperms,” Kevin then pathed to Pete and Tim, “just how friendly did you guys get the other night the younger one is doing some serious crushing on Fred.”



Since he was not being careful on pathing the message, everyone heard it, so Aaron along with David and Derrick turned to look at Andrew and Fred at the same time Pete and Tim did, the young prince’s older brother, noticing the movement turned to look at his brother to see what he was doing to cause everyone to glance his way.



Distracting the older prince, Aaron asked, “Where are all of you off to?”



Tommy stepped between the older prince and his brother, blocking the view, ‘I’m off to initiate system start up on the sea farms over here and meet up with Brian to see if he’s made a choice yet, Kevin’s going to go with me to do any heavy lifting needed.”



“Try to be back by eleven thirty, that’s when I plan to release Patrick and Douglas, it would be helpful if you guys were there to help out by making them feel welcome,” Aaron told their retreating backs as they headed for the haulers, chuckling as Kenny and Damien had grabbed the older prince by the hands and were dragging him to their hauler.



Saying his goodbyes, Aaron made his way into the hospital and stopped by Theo, who was releasing the first patient from the bio-tube with a crowd of colleague’s and residents around, Carl and Gordon must be elsewhere, he thought. Smiling as he was stopped by thankful parents every so often he finally made his way to the trauma corridor where the British contingent was located. Like the other grateful parents, he expected a repeat of yesterday so as he walked down the corridor he was slightly shocked when instead of the back slaps and praises he was expecting, he received respectful bows and your Majesty from the parents in greeting.



Walking into the trauma pod that held Douglas and Patrick along with the youngest prince, Aaron kept glancing over his shoulder at the strange actions of the parents of the other children. Seeing the chuckling British monarch standing near her grandson he looked at her with a funny expression still on his face, he pointed over his opposite shoulder with his hand, “I’m afraid to ask…I was thinking pod people at first, but with you laughing, now I’m not so sure.”



Moving towards the stairs leading up, Victoria looked over her shoulder, “I hope you don’t mind, we commandeered one of the empty rooms so we could have a planning and meeting room.”



Following Victoria up the stairs, Aaron still from time to time glanced over his shoulder, expecting at any minute the strange pod people to come after them, “No, I don’t mind at all,” he sounded distracted.



Taking a plush chair over by the table where all the plans were once again unrolled, Victoria laughed at Aaron, “They are rather taken with you, especially after yesterday, they are thrilled beyond belief to find out that the people responsible for hurting their children are going to be handled. To be honest, they are quite chuffed that a monarch from another nation is more than fancy words and actually gives a damn.”



Jerking his head around to Victoria at her language, Aaron flopped down into one of the chairs, “With the emails and your explanation just now, I can see how they would feel that way, surely though, they know you care?”



Nodding her head, Victoria frowned as he mentioned the emails, her spy’s had informed her of what was going on, and she did not like it one bit, it smelled of a cover up in the works, “They know, and it was shocking to me that most of them asked what could be done to give the power back to the crown, they are fed up with the actions of their government, they are rather ticked off that they have to get permission to even buy a butcher knife if it is over three inches in length.”



Aaron looked at her like she was insane, as he pulled his P.A.D.D. out of his thigh pocket and placed it on the table between them, “I had no idea it had gotten so bad so quickly over there.”



“It has, as the politicians are trying to cement themselves as the absolute rulers over all the kingdom. In one stroke of the pen, I am prepared to roll back those stifling laws,” Victoria stared sourly at the device he placed on the table, the last one she had looked through angered her on a deeply personal level, “More bad news? I pray it is not more from home.”



“No, this time it is mainly from the Yanks, though there is also a bit of very troubling news, that I’m not sure how I am going to deal with, yet.” Aaron prepared to play back the incident from this morning, “the only slightly troubling news from the States is the invitation from the White house to a meeting with their President, at Camp David. I’m not sure how to respond to that one, as I gave orders to hold off on further expansion in the States and prepare those companies I do own to move their headquarters overseas.” Pressing play on the P.A.D.D. Aaron sighed, “Why don’t we listen to the incident, and we can go from there.”



“Attention approaching aircraft, you are headed into a no fly zone correct course to two zero three immediately.”



“Romeo Foxtrot Flight, to command, have breached outer boundary two zero miles from border, repeat, I have breached boundary twenty miles from border and have been warned off.’



“Copy that Romeo Foxtrot, proceed as planned.”



“Roger that, tying in radio traffic now, camera’s are active.”



“Unidentified aircraft, you have breached the outer marker and are approaching Alteran Airspace…you are ordered to turn to heading one eight zero…you have now been classified as hostile, if you enter Alteran Airspace, you will be destroyed.”



“Romeo Foxtrot, you are to clear all weapons…proceed with mission as planned.”



“Roger that, base…approaching Alteran airspace enter………”



Silence for a moment was all that was heard as Victoria watched the jet smash into the ocean in such a way that it was obvious there were no survivors.



“Romeo foxtrot, repeat last….Romeo foxtrot, repeat last transmission.”




“Captain…Romeo Foxtrot seemed to fall straight down, once it breached Alteran Airspace, it’s as if the jet was smacked down out of the sky.”



“Communications, get Washington on the horn, we need to report this, hard port…..”



Aaron reached over, turned off the playback and watched the shocked and pale face on the British Queen's face “The treaty…the fools would violate the treaty. I remember the day my father signed the treaty, afterwards he warned me, he told me to make sure that we never violated the airspace or even got within a hundred kilometers of that restricted zone, he told me anyone who breached that zone would end up dead, but the country that did it would end up destroyed,” her words sounded horrified.



“I was ready to start pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into their economy, but that is certainly not going to happen now,” Aaron sighed, as he returned the P.A.D.D. to his pocket. “I have sixteen governors and one state assembly begging for face to face meetings, they want to know what they have to do to get me to bring jobs to their areas, while the federal government is trying its best to control me, even going so far as to threaten me with racketeering charges and building an unfair monopoly. So many different branches of the U.S. government working against the other. It’s ridiculous, and to top it off, the President wants to meet with me to talk about cementing ties with his government.”



Shaking her head sadly, Victoria muttered, “Oh Sid what are you thinking,” before seeing the disgusted look on Aaron’s face, “there’s more?” she asked, incredulous.



Nodding stiffly, Aaron sighed, “The UN sent a polite order for me to stop by so I can sign and ratify all the accords that the rest of the world already has agreed to, and to discuss what dues and support I will be providing.”



Reaching across the table, Victoria placed her hand over top of his, “I’m sorry Aaron, that things have gotten so out of hand, I’m sorry for asking for your help now.”



Looking back, Aaron smiled, “I’m not,” giving her hand a squeeze he leaned forward to examine the plans, “It was the right thing to do and in the long run, it is going to save me a lot of frustration, dealing with the Yanks. So how quickly can you get these channels dredged down to thirty meters deep?” Aaron tapped the port plans.



Riding along with the speed demon, as Damien called him, was actually fun Edward decided, Kenny got this so serious look on his face, where he screwed it up in concentration as he was driving; it was hilarious. Stepping onto the ground, he followed everyone as they walked and chatted, moving behind Tommy and Marc who he had met, he listened in as they talked to the new guy they picked up on the way…Brian was his name.



What was really shocking Edward thought was each of the Alteran Royals were very familiar and knowledgeable in their particular areas of interest; he had never given it a thought before of where his food came from, he just knew if he wanted shepherd’s pie he just had to pop down to the kitchen and ask the cooks to make it for him, he never gave it a thought of where they got the ingredients, he just assumed they went around to the grocers, but listening to the Alteran Royals talk, it seemed it took a lot longer to grow the ingredients than he ever imagined. His thoughts were interrupted when this huge burst of bubbles broke the surface out in the ocean, the sea looked like it was boiling, “I say, what’s going on, I thought the water was supposed to go into the tanks?”



Laughing and nodding his head as he continued to tap commands into his P.A.D.D. Aaron was so right that it was very helpful to be able to control the system from tank side, Tommy finally looked up, after changing the direction of the pumps, “I had to make sure that the pipes were clear of debris or creatures, before activating them, otherwise it would be a mess and Aaron probably would make me crawl down there and clean and fix them myself if I forgot that step.”



“Incredible,” Edward muttered as the first water column started spouting from the pipe in the basin, before the next in line followed, soon all four pipes had filled the basin they were anchored in and the water was cascading over the edge into a huge underground tank.



Tommy tapped a few more commands and moved away, intent on checking on the freshwater system down the way, oblivious to the prince he left behind.



Realizing he was being left behind, Edward ran after Tommy and when he caught up to him he heard him muttering to himself about something he could not quite make out, interrupting him, “Do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?”



Startled, Tommy blushed, “Um…oh, sorry about that, I forgot you were with me. I sometimes get sidetracked,” smiling he stopped so the prince could catch up, “what would you like to know?”



Thinking about how to start, Edward decided to just outright ask, “Well, it is very strange that all of you seem so knowledgeable about everything that goes on, more so than I do back home, I mean if I wanted something to eat, and the grocer was out of something, I would curse the grocer for not planning ahead; I had no idea that it took so long to grow things. And what you’re doing here? I have no clue other than filling tanks up with water, but why are you filling the tanks in the first place?”



Finally, a question, Tommy thought before he remembered something, British royals were so insulated from the people, it was no wonder they lost most of their power, “I just realized something; your family lost control of your empire when the people stopped looking at you as leaders, and more as rulers, you lost touch with the people and it was easy for them to demand change, because you had lost sight of what was important.” Quickly tapping a message on his P.A.D.D. and sending it over the Clan channel, Tommy grabbed the older prince’s arm, “come on, we need to get back to Aaron. We need to fix things, or no matter what we do in opening the hospital and embassy, it won’t be enough.’



Very confused, Edward let himself be dragged back towards the vehicles they came in, wondering how his question brought to light what Tommy thought was a serious problem they had overlooked.



Twenty minutes later, the group, led by Kenny, who had discovered another entrance closer to the trauma pod that would keep them from having to fight their way through the crowds, ran into through the pod pushing the two confused prince's in front of them up the stairs. Not bothering to knock, the group opened the door and rushed into the room just as Edward called out, “Bloody Hell, would you stop dragging me around; it’s undignified, what is so important that you could not at least explain it to me first.”



Aaron looked over to the out of breath group and catching Tommy’s surface thought that was screaming ‘major problem’, he looked at him, “Take a deep breath…hold it and let it out very slowly Tommy, do that a couple of times, and the rest of you find chairs, while Tommy catches his breath so he can tell us the major problem he discovered.”



Edward spun to face Aaron, “How…” to see Aaron tapping his head.



“Telepaths remember, Tommy’s mind has been screaming major problem, as soon as he hit the room.” Aaron was tapping the side of his head to remind him he was a telepath.



Catching his breath, finally, Tommy settled down and stood in the middle of the room between Aaron and his lovers, “We were out at the sea farm starting the pumps, and on the way to the freshwater farm, Edward asked me a question that got me to really thinking about something different, and when I did, I found a serious flaw in the plan we all agreed to, and if we don’t correct it, they’ll be back in the same situation in a few years.”



Seeing he had all of their attention, Tommy looked at the older prince before turning to Aaron, “He asked me why I was filling the tanks with water in the first place,”



“But what does that have to do with finding a major flaw in our plans and dragging me all the way back here, instead of answering the Bloody question,” Edward fumed.



Seeing Aaron smile at him to go on, Tommy took a breath and turned back to face the older prince, “It was the statement you made before you finally asked your question that got me thinking, you said it’s very strange that all of us seem so knowledgeable about everything that goes on, more so than you do back home. Then you told me if you wanted something to eat and the grocer was out of something, you would curse the grocer for not planning ahead and that you had no idea that it took so long to grow things.“



Waving his hand back to the table littered with blueprints, Tommy connected the clues for them, “The British monarchy lost power when they became rulers instead of leaders. Over time, it just got worse as they insulated themselves from the common person until finally they became nothing more than figureheads.”



Walking over to the table, Tommy tapped the blueprints, “Unless they learn to lead once more, instead of rule, no amount of building hospitals and embassies or even funneling jobs and wealth into the country is going to do any good, if they end up back where they started from.” With that, Tommy sat down in the empty chair next to Aaron and looked back to the others who were seriously thinking about what he said, while the two prince's were clearly confused.



Finally Edward spoke up, looking at Tommy first then his grandmother, “I don’t understand aren’t they essentially the same thing.”



Curious about the answer, Victoria told her grandson, “I always assumed they meant the same thing, but the way everyone else is acting leads me to believe otherwise.”



Looking up at the ceiling for a minute, Aaron his eyes still looking up, his voice still carried around the room, “Let me ask a few questions of you Edward. Now I’m not doing this to put you on the spot, but I hope the answers to my questions will answer your question.”



“This is more of the stuff we went through the other night, right, like how you explained the cycle of nature, then showed us how by breaking it caused mad cow?” Andrew said very slowly as he looked at Aaron for conformation.



Looking at the younger prince, Aaron smiled, “Yes it is.”



“But why don’t you just tell us and save all the trouble,” Andrew was curious, then indignant when all the Clan started laughing so hard, “what?”



“That’s the easy way,” Kevin told him, between laughter.



“If Aaron tells you, you have the answer, but if you discover it, you KNOW the answer.” Tim sounded as if he was repeating a mantra.



Kenny groaned before grinning, “At least you have it easy, you don’t have to go through the 'discovery' every day.”



“Sure, take all the fun out of it,” Aaron laughed before leaning forward, "but once you have your answer, you know it, don’t you?”



Kenny nodded his head and sat back giggling, just glad he was not being included this time, then seeing Aaron’s smirk he gulped uh oh he thought.



“I think I remember reading something about you playing polo,” seeing the older prince nod his head and smile, Aaron went into teacher mode which caused the others to sit up and pay attention, which did not go unnoticed by Victoria. “Horses that are stalled or confined are fed hay…I probably should warn you that as I ask you these questions, I am going to ask one of my guys for the answer also, but I will pick someone that has no interest in the subject so it will prove my point.”



“The first question, as you like horses and are familiar with them is…so you know how long it takes to make hay, and then tell me why you don’t want it to get wet?” Aaron asked the confused prince.



Looking around the group sitting there as he thought about the question, he noticed those that smiled as if they knew the answer and several that looked like they were thinking about it, “I have no idea on how long it takes to make hay, I assume they go in the field and cut it and put it through the machine that puts it in those bales, and I know if it gets wet it can make the horse sick.”



Andrew looked horrified at Aarons expression for a moment before turning to Kenny and whispering, “Good lord, he looks like a shark about to eat my brother for lunch.”



“I heard that, and just for that, you get some questions too,” Aaron laughed at the horror struck expression on the younger prince’s face.



“Damien…” Aaron started, and laughed when he got the trapped animal look on his face, “I know other than feeding the chickens and collecting eggs, you’ve not really been hanging around Mark as he does his chores, so what do you think?”



Sighing in resignation, Damien sat up, “I know that after being cut, the hay has to lay there and dry out before they can bale it, I also know if it gets wet it ruins it somehow, so that horses can’t eat it, but cows can, unless it gets rained on a lot, I think.”



Nodding his head, Aaron smiled, “Fair enough, and close enough as you are not a farmer, which is what I am getting at. The hay, once cut, right before it is fully grown and mature, needs either two days or four days to dry properly, being turned every day, so it all dries out. If it gets rained on, the water will leach the nutrients, the food, out of the hay and it will not be worth anything, if it is really wet, it will start to mold which can be poisonous, the thing is, if it starts to mold in the field, you still have the expense of baling it so you don’t kill off your hay field.”



Seeing the quizzical confused look on the prince’s faces, Aaron held up a hand, “I’ll tie it together in a bit, so stay with me.” Waiting for them to nod, he continued, “the first question was to prove that you really don’t pay attention to the happenings around the sport you love to play, Damien picked up his information by overhearing Mark and Tommy, most likely listening to them talking.” Smiling at Damien’s nod of agreement, he continued, this time choosing the younger brother, “Now you, young man…”



Startled, Andrew pointed to his chest and slid down into the chair and sighed when Aaron told him, “Sit up straight, the quickest way to catch my attention is to slouch down in your chair, it tells me you don’t want to be called on which means, to me, I should call on you.” He laughed at the shocked expression on Kenny and Damien’s faces. Nodding, he looked at them “Yes, it really is that simple.”



“I’ll ask one that you should have covered somewhat in biology class, or you should have if the teachers were worth anything.  It’s food related, and ties in with the one I asked your brother, now, if you plant some beans that you eventually plan to on eating, how long does it take before they are ready to eat and what about too much water or rain on them?” Aaron was hoping he did not have to really go any further, once he tied these two questions together.



“Well, in school we did not do anything like this, but my mate told me his mum's flower seeds washed away in the heavy rain once, and I suppose like anything, too much water might drown them,” Andrew reasoned.



“Or make it so you can’t get in and pick them because of the mud”, Derrick offered.



“Right on the money, Derrick, or you can’t get in to pick them, hence the grocer might not have them, so he can’t sell what he can’t get.” Aaron was looking directly at Edward when he said that, “Now, for the amount of time it takes before you can start harvesting after planting the seeds, it depends…if you go with the green beans we had with supper the other night, then it would be sixty nine days after planting before you can expect to get your fist bean to eat.”



“Blimey, that's a long time,” Andrew whispered.



“Now, let’s try to tie these two events together, the one major connection is the weather, in this case, too much rain,” Aaron told them and seeing them nod their heads, “Now we have established that too much water can affect more than just hay for horses, it can effect hay for beef cattle which you will eat in your steak pie or even the vegetables you buy in the grocers to fix that pie for dinner.”



“So the single act of too much rain does not seem like a big deal at first, I mean it only affects a few plants after all, but when you start to look at the larger effects, you notice that not only does it drive up the prices of hay or of food,” Aaron looked at each prince in turn, "But it affects you all the way in London when you went shopping at the grocers.”



“Cause and effect,” Andrew sat up suddenly excited, “the rain was the cause, and the effect was spoiled hay, or not being able to get in to pick the vegetables, and right up the line all the way to the grocer not having the produce to sell, to my brother not getting what he wanted to eat that night.”



“Alright, I can follow that, but what does that have to do with being a leader and not a ruler?” Edward asked, and his brother nodded in agreement.



“Now that I have your brains thinking, let me say this, a ruler is only as good as the people surrounding him, a leader does not rely on those that surround him to think for him.” Aaron drove home the point before asking, “So, someone mentions to you that it has rained every day this week in Brighton, what would you do, Victoria?”



Having had the tables turned on her was a surprise, but she was following along so far and thought she knew what he was after, “I would have nodded my head and dismissed it with some non committal words before; now I would ask how much rain they had and was it enough to flood the area.”



“The first is a ruler's answer, it does not affect me, so why should I notice it, the second is a leader's answer because I know about cause and effect, is it bad enough that the locals are going to be flooded out, is it bad enough that the crops are damaged or lost, is it bad enough that the other local areas can’t pick up the slack.” Aaron explained as he sought his next victim. “David, South Wales is under water; a ruler tells an aide to go take a look, a leader…”



Smiling as they were used to playing twenty questions like this, “A leader gets in the car and drives down there and takes a look himself,” David smiled when Aaron nodded his head.



“A ruler listens to an aide tell him how to fix the problem, a leader…” Aaron started to ask but Mark jumped in.



“A leader listens to those affected and tries to understand how they would fix the problem so he can give them the means to do so.” Mark smiled.



Grinning, Aaron looked at the two prince's who were staring off into space, thinking about what they were hearing. “I’m sensing a trend here Edward, the common thread here is a leader is not insulated from the people he leads, a ruler is insulated and relies on others to do the job, so he is not bothered…a leader listens and pays attention, even if it does not affect him, because eventually it will…a ruler has the answers handed to him by others, a leader comes to the answers by asking questions that will give him the answers.”



“Now to go back to your question you asked Tommy, or the comment you made to Tommy before the question, I bet, if I asked for a show of hands for those that heard Tommy discuss what he was going to do in your hearing, everyone would raise their hands but the two of you, that goes back to my earlier comment of you not paying attention to what is going on around you, whether it effects you or not, a leader needs to pay attention to those around him, even ask a question or two to show that he is paying attention, and that he cares,” Seeing that Edward was getting upset but trying to hold it in, Aaron ordered, “Stand up and come over here a moment.”



Once Edward was standing in front of Aaron, he reached up and pulled him into his lap and hugged him tight, fighting the stiffening of Edward’s body, “It’s called giving comfort…when someone is upset by something that is being told to them by one that is family or in this case a teacher, in my Kingdom, it is expected that comfort will be given. Right now, your body is telling me you are freaking out…that you are not used to being given comfort physically…a hug can do wonders as it proves beyond a doubt that someone cares.” Feeling Edward finally relax into the hug, he felt the silent tears hit his bare arm.



“I’m not picking on you, truly I’m not…but I needed to show you the difference between a ruler and a leader is mostly attitude and how you approach life. Someone who leads truly does that, they lead. If a leader passes a hurt child on the street he does not order his guards or hangers on to help the child, he bends down and picks the child up and comforts them while taking the child to a place of safety and healing. He does not order others to do what he is perfectly able to do, he does it himself. And the person who watches the leader do this, in the future finds a hurt child, remembers and does what his leader showed him was right, he offers comfort and takes the child to a place to be healed.” Aaron smiled, as Edward finally relaxed into his embrace.



“The people would follow a leader into hell if asked, because they know the leader will be the first through the door…not only that, he will bring them back safely and be the last through the door on the way back home.” Seeing the slight jealous look in the younger prince's posture Aaron waved for him to join them, and when he got close enough he pulled him into his chair and the hug also, “A ruler, if he was dumb enough to go through the door to hell first, would turn around and find another ruler had taken his place and the people were nowhere around, for as soon as they saw where he was taking them, they scattered in fear.”



Victoria stood up and dragged her chair around the table so she could sit in front of Aaron and look at her grandsons, “Where did we go wrong?  I remember my three sons growing up and how they each were hugged and shown they were loved, but somewhere along the way, we lost the touching aspects of our family, it started as not showing affection in public as the media talked it up and made things out of it that were not there, to now my grandsons most likely never knowing what a father's hug is.”



Shaking her head sadly, Victoria looked at her two grandsons, “Edward, your father will not be king, he divorced your mother, and under the old laws which we will be returning to, that invalidates him from wearing the crown…you will be king, and it is time you learned to be a leader as well, otherwise our country and people will continue to suffer when we are trying to help.” Sighing, she looked from her grandsons to Aaron, “Young Tommy was right. But if you teach my grandsons to be leaders, then, then we have a chance of really doing what is needed for my people.”



Aaron looked around the heads of the two teens in his lap towards his lovers, for without their help, it would not be possible to teach the young prince's, getting their slow considered nods of agreement Aaron looked back to Victoria’s hopeful face and nodded his head also, “We’ll help, but it won’t be easy and there are certain problems that have to be overcome, the biggest is that they may not step foot on Altare itself where we live work and play for the most part, so everything will have to take place here on Altair Minor, and when we leave the kingdom to travel the outside world…hmmm. Alright, even when you all are back in England, they should expect to be tutored by one of my people at least three times a week in the beginning, it will be following my guys around as they work and do rescues or talk to people to set up supply lines and business ventures,” Hugging both teens, and letting go so they could stand up, Aaron smiled at their shy faces, “You will learn by watching, then by doing and finally you will end up just doing…”



Laughing, “Sounds cryptic as hell doesn’t it. But you’ll learn,” Aaron smiled as he noticed the time and stood, “Well Douglas and Patrick need to be released, then we have things that have to be taken care of this afternoon, I would think one or two of the guys might stop back in after supper to chat with the two of you, in the meantime, practice your listening, notice what people are saying and worrying about around you.” Moving towards the steps, Aaron nodded to Pete and Fred, “shall we?”



Moving down the steps, Aaron went to the monitor next to Patrick’s bio-tube and seeing it was green across the board, started the release cycle, and since this was a public hospital, he had to take a couple of extra steps in unlocking the DNA lockouts to initiate the release cycle. Handing the box to Pete that had the medallions in it, Aaron waited until the lid unsealed, and taking the cloth, wiped Patrick’s face before removing the breathing tube, once that was out of the way, he moved over to the side and removed the IV cuff and the sensor array from his chest. Placing both hands on either side of Patrick’s head, Aaron closed his eyes and inserted the information package and telepathically helped him work through the surprisingly small amount of pain his families rejection caused him. Opening his eyes Aaron turned off the soma unit, removed the temple sensor and leaned over and whispered, “Wake up Patrick.”



Patrick woke with a start and sitting up quickly, he threw his arms around Aarons neck and whispered, “Thank you Sir, for taking me and me mate in, sir.”



“You’re welcome, and the name is Aaron not sir, Pete has something for you,” Aaron whispered back, as he picked the boy up and out of the bio-tube and set his feet down on the floor.



Pete smiled as he handed over a pair of shorts Patrick could slip on and then opened the box and turned it so Aaron could remove the medallion.



Waiting until Patrick had slipped the shorts on, Aaron opened the lock with a bit of kinetics and looked Patrick in the eyes, “This medallion is proof that you belong to Clan Stranton,” snapping the clasp together after putting it around Patrick’s neck, “You have a home and family now that will help you chase your dreams until you can reach out and grab hold of them, making them yours.”



Edward was watching carefully from the side, watching and listening. And he was not surprised when he noticed Aaron catching the tears on the boys face and grabbed him into a hug and kissing him on the forehead, holding him until the sobs stilled, before Pete moved into the hug and gathered the boy in his arms, softly talking to him. He watched as Aaron only moved away when he knew that Patrick was calmed down, though he never did go very far, always watching out of the corner of his eye for where Patrick and Pete were.



Aaron repeated the procedure with Douglas and as he implanted the information in the boys head and he was saddened to find there was no loss or rejection only happiness at finally being part of a family. Waking Douglas up like he had Patrick Aaron smiled down at the shy smile he received back and helped lift the boy out of the bio-tube and placed his feet on the floor. Removing the medallion from the box Fred was now holding, Aaron showed it to Douglas, “Douglas, like Patrick, you are now part of Clan Stranton and this is the symbol our family wears,” Aaron snapped it in place as Fred handed over a pair of shorts he had brought with him so Douglas had something to wear out of the trauma pod.



Even though Douglas outwardly did not seem to need it, Aaron still pulled him into a hug which he melted into, and it was only after Douglas was safe in Aaron’s arms that Edward noticed the trail of silent tears and heard the whisper, “Why couldn’t my pa ever hug me like this?”



Looking at his grandmother and his brother, Edward made his way to the stairs, they had a lot to talk about and more to think about.



Looking down into the smiling sleeping faces of Mark and Fred, Aaron ported back to the beach so he could rejoin the party that the three of them snuck away from twenty minutes ago. Arriving and taking a seat, Tommy crawled up into his lap and kissed him, tongue touching tongue before looking at the two new Clan members running around with Kenny and Damien, “All in all, it was a pretty good day, even with all the shit that had happened.”



Editors section:





RadioRanchers Musings: Yes some real successes, I would say. It also seems that maybe there were some lessons learned.



A/N: a hug such a simple thing is so powerful.

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