After the rescue, Kyle went about trying to relax. Zorn left to complete his mission. Jordan chatted with Jace about how he was feeling. Devin French proved to be a surprise. After a power source was discovered on the Southern Continent, Jace took a team down to explore. Walker and gang were court-martialed, and those who proved themselves were rewarded… Well, most were. Lt. Commander Kyle Robinson was about to award the last commendation.
As Jace's shuttle flew down, Gillespie reported that the energy sources were starting to mess with the shuttle's controls and he needed to land as quickly as he could. "Sir, this is as close as I can get the shuttle. Any closer and there will be such a power drain that we won't be able to lift off."
Jace nodded his head, "Understandable Crewman, I'm glad you're aware of that. Stay with the shuttle."
Jonas was a little scared from having to land as they did. "Dad, is it safe for us to be here?"
"It's safe, I can sense it," Jason told his brother.
"We didn't detect any life signs, Zorn didn't detect any, so yeah, it should be safe. I wouldn't have let you two come had I not thought it was." That was good enough for Jonas to be less nervous, but still, he clung to Jace's leg. "You're making it hard for me to walk," Jace chuckled.
"Sorry, Dad." Jonas grabbed hold of Jason's hand.
Jason smiled, looked into Jonas's eyes and thought, 'You've always protected me, now I protect you.' Jonas smiled and felt completely at ease.
Lt. Commander Thompson reported, "Sir, these ruins are not that old. I think they were actually built to resemble ruins."
"Built as ruins? Why?" Jace looked confused.
Surprising Jace and the other officers, and scaring the twins, three men came out of the ruins. "These ruins hide the entrance to our village. We have been watching you ever since you landed… yesterday. I had a feeling that you would be back. We also know about your ships going to one of the Northern Continents. Those are some good people, but they turned their backs on technology a century ago. Perhaps, your visit will re-spark their interests and we can open diplomatic channels with them"
"You speak our language?" Jace asked, as the twins were each back to grabbing one of his legs.
"That surprises you? Our ancestors came from Earth over a hundred and ninety years ago. The Norwegians migrated to one of the northern continents while Canadians moved to the other. This continent was inhabited mainly by Americans. There are a few other cultures, but they melded in with one of the three main cultures."
"Over a hundred and ninety years ago? We didn't even have rockets back in the 1920's or 30's, how?"
"Aliens abducted a large group of people from all over the globe back in 1930. We are their descendants. I'm sorry, I haven't introduced us. I am President Zachary Lincoln; this is Vice President Darrell Washington and my Chief of Staff James Earp."
Jace was surprised, "And, you're the top three guys of your community? Isn't that a bit brazen?"
"Commander, we have nothing to worry about. If you check your weapons, they are drained of power. You've detected our energy field. Your ship landed far enough to prevent the energy drain. We have nothing to worry about, and we do carry projectile weapons."
"My ship is busy dealing with Norwegians, but I would love for us to learn more from you; whatever you want to share. And we can share what we are allowed. Commander Thompson here specializes in Alien Culture. While yours isn't totally alien to us, I'm sure he will be fascinated."
Lincoln declared, "If he would like to spend time with us, he may. Your Security Officer can stay with him and one of your ships can pick them up tomorrow."
"Can I, Sir?" Thompson requested.
"Just tonight. Captain Bowman may not like it if you're still down here on the seventh," Jace gave Randy Thompson a wink.
"The seventh? What's so special about the seventh, Sir?" Randy smiled.
"You know what that day is, don't play coy with me. How old will you be?"
"We'll see you two, tomorrow. I will look forward to your report." And with a good feeling, Jace and the twins went back to the shuttle, then back up to the ship. He informed Dave right away about allowing Thompson and Enzan to spend the night.
Kyle walked up front. He saluted Dave and stood at attention. "Commander, you went above and beyond your duty with setting up this base camp. I understand that you had help, but you chose the people, with a few exceptions. You organized the search party and rescued Commander River's missing party. Commander, I am proud to present you with this commendation."
"Thank you, Sir. Coming from you, it means a lot."
"Now Commander, would you do the honor of giving out our last commendation? It was your idea."
Kyle barely had time to experience the pride and warmth he felt as a result of receiving his commendation. He looked at the crewmembers of both star ships who seemed ready to smother him with their mere presence. He'd never in his life had to speak to his many people.
He took a deep breath and started speaking. To him his high-pitched pubescent voice sounded weak, but most in the audience heard strength in his presentation. While his speech might not have been polished, it was smooth, and he got his points across.
"Captain Bowman was right. I had lots of help. Lots of really good help from guys who were the best anybody could ask to work with. One of those guys was somebody I didn't pick for the mission. He isn't even a crewmember of my ship. Even so, I guess in a way I did pick him. My second in command, Brad Kanye suggested I make him my second instead."
Devin French had been half-listening to Kyle wondering which one of the members of the Bubba team he was talking about. When he heard Kyle mention second in command, Kyle suddenly had all his attention.
"My new second and I did not have a very good history together, as many of you all know. But, from the moment I asked him to be my second, he became a solid rock who helped make the setup of the Bubba tent go smoothly. I can't even begin to say how important he was to me on the rescue mission. It was like he was born to work with me." Kyle had given hard thought about how to handle the entire co-commander business and finally decided the best thing to do was to skip it and get right to the heart of the matter.
"Commander Devin French, you did so much more than what was expected of you. The help you gave to me and to everyone in both of our missions, was way beyond the call of duty. Devin, I wish to present you with this commendation for performing above and beyond the call of duty. It doesn't even begin to say how important you were to my first mission command."
Devin came forward, his face red with emotion. Kyle presented Devin his commendation and then surprised Devin by taking a step toward him and giving him a heart-felt hug. The fact that the mission commander was so much smaller in stature than his second in command was not lost on those in the audience, but neither was the fact that the diminutive twelve-year-old looked at the teen standing in front of him straight in the eye with a look that said, 'yes, I was in command, but you were an essential part of the success of that command.'
"Was this really your idea?" Devin whispered.
"Yes," Kyle whispered back.
Devin returned to his seat with a smile on his face, He smiled because he was proud of the commendation that said to him for the first time since he had started training that his efforts were appreciated. He also smiled because the commendation had been the idea of Kyle Robinson, a person he once hated. Yet, Kyle Robinson, who he'd always seen as a spoiled little brat ignored what he, Devin French, thought and was now one of the biggest influences in his life. He would never forget Kyle, whom he now loved as a friend and as a special human being.
Knowing it would be his last chance to delve into the history of his family in an indirect way, Hal decided to spend the last half-day on the planet with what he had come to call, 'his people.' During that time, the little boy, the grandson of the chief elder, Lars had been his constant companion. He had grown quite fond of the boy and had promised that if it were possible he'd take him to the Sooloo and let him see it.
It is true that Lars was with them on the ship during the trial, but he had been confined to the guest quarters that had been assigned to the elders. They were still not totally convinced that the boy would be safe.
After proving the fact that the boys from the Sooloo were indeed honorable, Elder Arvid, Lars' grandfather gave his permission for the boy to accompany Hal to the ship. Lars was unaware of another agreement that had been forged.
So, at 1330, ship time, Hal boarded a shuttle with Lars, and since there was no pilot, Hal flew the two of them to the Sooloo. This time, Lars was seated in the co-pilot's seat instead of in the back of the shuttle with his grandfather. This time he had a spectacular view of his planet from above, something he'd never even imagined. But, when the shuttle breached the planet's atmosphere, Lars was enthralled. He saw the absolute vastness of space for the first time, for real.
Hal was even more surprised when Lars started speaking to Hal in broken English. It wasn't perfect, but it showed the boy had a real aptitude for learning languages. Upon docking on the Sooloo, Hal took Lars to meet with Dave for a few minutes before taking him to his next fun destination.
After the ceremony, many of the senior officers went back to their ships. Jordan left Lt. Commander Steve Boyer with a crew to break down the hut and load it onto Big Bubba. Connor, Aiden, Jordan, Jace and the twins took the shuttle Michelangelo up to the Sooloo. Connor commented out of the blue, "Aiden and I would like to take the twins to the holodeck, sometime."
"You did say that you wanted to help with them, any idea of when you would like to?"
"Well, we both have two hours before either of our watches start. We were hoping maybe once we get back on the ship."
Jordan turned to the twins, "What do you boys think? You want to go have fun with Connor and Aiden on the holodeck?"
"What will we do?" Jonas asked.
Connor replied, "Well… I grew up in an orphanage in Texas, and all I could dream about was riding horses. I was…"
"Horseys?" Jason interrupted.
Jace looked at Jason, "I know you're excited and you love animals, but it's impolite to interrupt."
"I'm sorry," Jason started to pout.
Aiden teased, "Better get that lip back in or a horsey might poop on it."
"Ewww," both twins said in unison.
"So, do you boys wanna go with Connor and Aiden?" Jordan inquired.
"Not if a horsey is gonna poop on my lip," Jason stated. Everyone laughed.
Once the shuttle was in the bay and it was safe to exit, Aiden and Connor headed to the holodeck with the twins. Jordan and Jace went to have another session with The Howser.
Being from Texas, Connor announced, "Computer, we need a horse ranch like one you would find in Texas, perhaps around the Guadalupe Mountains. Complete with a watering hole we can swim in." The twins got excited about the horses and hearing they would swim.
"What breed of horses would you like?" the computer asked.
"We will each state what type of horse we want. All will be with Western tack since this IS a Texan ranch. I'd like a palomino quarter horse," Connor replied.
Aiden said, "I want a black mustang. What horse would you like, Jason?"
"I want a purple one," Jason announced.
"OK, so a purple mustang?" Aiden wanted to laugh but held it in; after all, this was "make believe."
Jason shouted, "Can I have a purple unicorn?!?"
"I want a flying horse," Jonas declared.
Connor chuckled, "Okay, we need a purple unicorn and a Pegasus."
The computer created all the horses that were requested, and the twins got excited at seeing the "horses" that they wanted. Aiden and Connor helped the twins mount their horses prior to climbing onto theirs.
They rode for twenty minutes before they were interrupted by the opening door. Commander Tietokone was standing there with one of the Native boys. "Gentlemen, twins, let me introduce you to Lars. Lars, this is Commander Douglass, Commander Marlin and the twins are Jason and Jonas."
"I'm Jonas; he's Jason," Jonas stated.
Lars looked surprised. He looked up at Hal, "I understand him, too."
"Yes, the universal translator lets you hear instantaneously in your language as long as your language is in our library. Your language is close enough to Terran Norwegian, which is how I am able to speak with you."
Lars ran over to the twins, and said, "That is cool. What are you on?"
"They are called horses, but Jason wanted a unicorn, and Jonas wanted Pegasus, the winged horse," Connor explained.
Aiden asked, "Would you like to join us? We can create a horse for you."
"I don't know anything about horses," Lars admitted. Hal left, leaving Lars in the capable hands of Aiden and Connor.
Connor assured, "That's alright, and the computer can create the perfect horse for you. Or if you want, we can just go swimming."
Lars lowered his head, "I've never been swimming. It's too cold outside and the water in the caves are used for cooking and drinking."
"Swimming is fun," Jonas assured.
Jason added, "Yeah, we usually swim nakey."
Connor looked strict, "Not this time, you have a guest. You will wear something."
"But Daddy and Daddy lets us, and we swimmed nakey with Unca Kyle and Unca Danny," Jonas begged.
"You heard what Uncle Connor said; not this time!" Aiden insisted.
Jason started to pout, "Me wanna swim nakey."
Connor knelt down to look Jason in the eye, "I understand that, but that might be rude to Lars. How about you wear a swim suit today and then I will ask your dads for next time."
Jason was reluctant to respond but then pointed, "Look!!!" There was Lars, completely naked and jumping into the watering hole.
Aiden shrugged his shoulders and Connor just said, "Well, if he's naked, I don't see any reason why you can't be."
In Unison, the twins yelled, "Yeah!!!" and started taking their clothes off. Connor and Aiden changed into swimming trunks and joined them. They thought about swimming nude but weren't sure what Jace and Jordan would have thought about it. They swam until their time was up, at which time, everyone got dressed and headed to the Officers' Mess for some ice cream.
Commander Zapphire and Lt. Commander Tomalok were standing at attention. Captain Garcia was busy looking at his computer monitor. After several minutes, he finally spoke, "You gentlemen may take a seat."
They each sat down speaking in unison, "Thank you, Sir."
"You may wonder why I asked you here."
Commander Zapphire responded, "The thought crossed my mind, but I suspect it has something to do with Walker being in the brig."
"It does, and he was my Chief Operations Officer. I need to find a replacement for him."
"If you are considering Commander Tomalok, I would hate to lose him, but he is a fine officer; even more so since you started enforcing discipline."
"Aside from one slight flaw, I think you would be a better choice, Commander," Tomalok declared.
"Slight flaw? I know I'm not perfect, but what flaw?"
"I believe he is referring to how you grade Kuc on your reports, Commander."
Zapphire hung his head low, "To be honest, I have been ranking him low. He is a hard worker and has proven himself on this planet. I know Commander Rivers was very pleased with his actions. Kuc would make a fine Assistant Chief should you promote either of us."
"I'm glad to hear you say that. It tells me that promoting you to Chief of Operations and Third Officer is the right choice. Commander Tomalok, I would like to promote you to the position of Chief of Tactical and Security."
"I'd be honored to take that position, Sir."
"I would ask if you would like to promote Ensign Kuc to be your Assistant Chief of Security, but Captain Bowman tells me that Commander Rivers requested he transfer to the Sooloo."
"Is there any chance that I could get Ensign French from the Sooloo? He or Kuc are my top two choices."
Eric started to laugh, and the two officers just looked at him. Finally, he explained, "Ensign Denver French would like to transfer over so he can be with his cousin."
"So, we are exchanging one ensign in Security and Tactical for another ensign in Security and Tactical. With your permission, I would like to offer Ensign French the position, Sir."
"Permission granted, Commander. Let him know that the promotion will entail him being made a lieutenant."
"Thank you, Sir."
Hal entered the quarters he shared with his husband. "Babe, I had my meeting with Elder Arvid. He made a request that I am certain you will accept, but I told him I had to clear it with you first."
Dave looked at his husband with a look that said, 'I am not sure, but I have a feeling I know what's coming.' "Well, when do we tell him?"
Hal looked back at his husband, "How could you have possibly figured it out? I only had the idea when Arvid came to me to explain the situation fully."
Dave wrapped his arms around the love of his life and simply stated, "Because, I saw how happy you are when you're with the twins… and I saw how happy you were dealing with all the kids on the planet. When Arvid and I were talking, he told me of the event that took Lars' parents, and the custom that children whose parents die are basically left to themselves if they don't have other relatives. Arvid also told me of his own situation and that Lars would be left with nobody very soon. I simply put one and one together and came up with three. You and I are the two ones, he's the three. We will have to make one more trip to the planet to make it official, but by the time we leave 'New Earth' you and I will be parents.
Lt. Commander Devin French rang the chime and Eric Garcia gave him permission to enter. In a solemn voice, Devin stated, "Sir, there is something that I need to tell you, but I think I should be telling Captain Bowman and Commander Robinson at the same time." Captain Garcia was sure he knew what Devin was going to tell him, and he felt proud of his Chief Astrogator for coming forward.
He escorted Devin to the shuttle bay and they grabbed the first flight over to the Sooloo.
With both Captains and Kyle present, Devin started to say, "I received a message from Richard Head. He gave me a code that would have killed Commander Robinson, but I swear I would have never used it. Even when I hated him, I still couldn't kill him, and now that we are friends, I thought you should know so the code can be…"
Devin's announcement was interrupted by the computer, "WARNING!!! WARNING!!! Danger Kyle Robinson!!!"
"What the…" Captain Garcia looked puzzled.
"Calm down, calm down," Dave ordered. "We knew about the code, but we didn't know if you would have used it, so we changed it to do that. Question is, if you are here, who just tried to use it?"
"To my knowledge, I was the only one who even knew about it," Devin was on the verge of tears, afraid he was going to be blamed.
At that time, Captain Garcia's comm went off. It was Commander Zapphire, "Captain, our power blinked for fifteen seconds and Walker escaped from the brig. We are searching for him, now."
Garcia looked at Devin, "Walker was your roommate, could he have known about the code?"
"I suppose it is possible, but I never showed it to him. He may have looked at my messages while Kyle was figuring out my mistake."
Dave called Jace and Brad to his Ready Room. Once they arrived, Dave asked, "As you heard, the code was just used. Devin was here with us at the time. Is there any way to pinpoint where the code was used?"
Brad had a big smile on his face, "I can look at the computer and tell you exactly where it was used. I hope you don't mind Captain Garcia, but while I programmed the code to sound the alarm here, I also placed a force field around the station where it was used on your ship. Whoever used it should be trapped within that force field."
Captain Garcia, "Mind? I think that was a brilliant idea. Where can we find the culprit?"
Brad looked quickly and said that the station used was in the Shuttle Bay. Security Officers went to the location Brad pinpointed and found Walker trapped like a bug under glass.
Lt. Commander Tomalok pressed the chime to announce that he was there, and then waited for one of the Junior Officers assigned to these quarters to answer. Ensign Tai Fujima was the one who answered. Tomalok asked, "Is Ensign Denver French around?"
"He should have just gotten off duty a few minutes ago and on his way here… unless he went over to the Endurance. Oh, here he comes."
"Commander Tomalok, good to see you again. What brings you here?"
With Tai being in the quarters, Tomalok asked, "Can we walk, do you have time?" Denver nodded. As they walked, Tomalok continued, "I understand that you would like to transfer to the Endurance."
"Yes Sir. Since my cousin and I have started getting along, I would like to get to know him. I haven't heard yet whether my transfer will be approved."
Tomalok smiled, "I've been promoted to the Chief of Tactical and Security. I am here to offer you the position as my Ass't Chief of Security."
"If my transfer gets approved, I think I would like that."
"Welcome to my staff, Lieutenant French."
"I'm only an…" Denver stopped to soak in what was said, "wait, are you saying that my transfer is approved and that I am getting a promotion by taking the position?"
"Yes, Lieutenant, your transfer has been approved. I will have your lieutenant insignia for you once you report to my office."
"Yes Sir, thank you for the news and the promotion."
"Just one more thing, Denver, if I may call you that."
"You may, Sir."
"Good. Denver, when it is just us, you may call me Kye; that's K-y-e."
"Kye? Is that Hawaiian?"
"K-a-i is Hawaiian but pronounced the same. Kai means sea. K-y-e is Norwegian and means slender. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't understand any of those runes or the language that the villagers were speaking. No one in my family has spoken Norwegian for as long as I can remember."
"Understood, Kye. I couldn't even tell you the first word in French and that's my last name," Denver chuckled.
Devin French waited patiently at the Shuttle Bay for the Endurance shuttle Goddard to arrive. It was on regular shuttle duty, which would end at 2000 as the Endurance, and the Sooloo readied themselves to leave planetary orbit. His cousin Denver was on the shuttle along with all his worldly possessions. As was the case with most crewmembers, those possessions didn't take up much space.
Devin heard the alarms go off and peered through the viewport as the Shuttle Bay doors opened. Soon after, the Goddard made its appearance and Devin made his way to Dock C. He arrived just as Vinnie Royce expertly docked his shuttle.
Denver French broke out into a wide grin when he saw Devin waiting for him. The cousins traded a long hug. "Welcome to the Endurance," Devin grinned.
They then set to work unloading Denver's gear. Devin had procured a TransVee and a driver. He was surprised that the driver was Keegan Mills, the Transport Chief who had given Randy and Kyle so much grief.
While on the Sooloo it wasn't unusual for the Transport chief to operate a TransVee, he knew that hadn't been the case on the Endurance. Devin didn't know whether Keegan was driving because he had volunteered or because he had rightfully been put in his place and he didn't care. He looked at Keegan Mills being his driver as one more sign that things were constantly improving on the Endurance.
Because the corridors serving the various quarters were too narrow for a TransVee, Keegan dropped Devin and Denver as close to Devin's quarters as he could. He unloaded a cart from the TransVee as well as Denver's gear, which he placed in the cart.
Devin could tell that Keegan wasn't very happy about his task but gave him credit for keeping his mouth shut about it. Devin knew that a few days ago he would have given Keegan all kinds of grief for being their driver. One of many things he'd learned in watching Kyle and the other officers of the Sooloo was how professionally they acted and how they showed respect for their crewmen.
Devin and Denver both reached for the handle of the cart, but Keegan grabbed it saying he'd go with them since somebody had to bring the cart back, and it might as well be him. After dropping off Denver's gear in Devin's quarters, Devin thanked Keegan for his help. Keegan grunted, but Devin noted a slight smile of appreciation trying to break out on the Lieutenant's face.
"Welcome to the Endurance," Devin said again as they set Denver's bags next to his bed.
"I'm looking so forward to serving here. I mean, I loved the Sooloo, but somehow with you here, and with all of the changes being made by Captain Garcia, this just seems like the right place for me to be. Maybe I can break out of my shell here."
Devin knew that his cousin had been a loner on the Sooloo. While he didn't know why, he suspected some of it had to do with how Denver had been bullied by him and some of his lackies when they were younger.
"At least you didn't put the beds together," Denver grinned.
"We're cousins, not lovers." He saw Denver's smile drop and quickly added, "At least that's what we want people to think. We're big boys and can always put the beds together and move them apart."
"How long do I get to stay here with you?"
"As long as you want. We both know Angelo Walker won't be returning here."
"How did you guys become cabin mates? I mean, you're a senior officer, you could've had the room to yourself."
"That's a long story for one of our nightly chats. Now, give your big cousin a kiss to thank him for letting you live with him, and then I'll take you on a tour and introduce you to everybody I can."
Denver kissed his cousin on the lips. The kiss lasted a bit longer than he or Devin had planned, but neither one was complaining.
"Where did you learn to kiss so good?" Devin asked.
"From Roland Bates during our training. He said I needed to learn some things a teen needs to know. He said he learned from his girlfriend, but I was cuter than her."
"Good teacher. Plus, he's probably right about needing to learn since you are pretty cute," Devin said sincerely. "Where did he end up?"
"On the Intrepid," Denver answered. "Why do I need a tour of the ship? They're all designed the same."
"True, but one thing I noticed between the Sooloo and the Endurance is that the architecture might be the same, but a lot of stuff is stored in different places and some space is used differently and our crew does a lot of things differently from the Sooloo. Now, let's go get your first tour."
Denver found the crewmembers of the Endurance to be very friendly. Some of them already knew him from the rescue mission. Others knew of them. Even the ones who knew nothing about him other than he was one of the transfers were welcoming.
One of the most important persons Devin needed to introduce Denver to was Dae-Ho Park, the ship's Administrator. Park was 15. He was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea. His math abilities and love of space and astronomy gained him entry to the Academy when he was eleven and later into the exploration program.
His job was essentially the same as Steve Boyer's, but the two of them handled it much differently. Dae-Ho handled it like a bureaucrat. He was efficient and competent but demanded that everything be handled by the book. Steve essentially threw out the book and used what worked best for him and the Sooloo. His motto was "if it ain't broke, there's a good chance it still could use some improving." The difference between Dae-Ho Park and Steve Boyer was that Park enjoyed his job and was good at it, while Boyer loved his job and was brilliant at it.
Dae-Ho was friendly, however, and made Denver feel like a valued addition to the crew of the Endurance as he made computer entries, created Denver's keys, some needed tabs for general entry and equipment use, gave him his ID code, among other bureaucratic necessities. When Dae-Ho finished, Denver had everything he needed to function and was an official member of the crew of the Endurance.
Devin took Denver to the Officers' Mess for dinner rather than the Senior Officers' Mess. He felt his cousin would meet more people there, which was the purpose of the tour and the meet and greet.
One of the introductions caught Denver a bit off guard. He and Devin had finished eating with three other officers. Denver was made to feel welcome and brought into the conversation. One topic was the scene where Devin stunned Angelo Walker and saved Denver's life. Denver didn't really want to talk about it much. Thinking and talking about the incident often made him break out into a cold sweat.
After they left the mess, Denver and Devin met a slender black boy in the corridor. "Denver, this is Ensign Nelson Graham, the person who makes the Shuttle Bay run at high efficiency. Nelson, this is my cousin Denver who has transferred to the Endurance."
Nelson put out his hand and Denver shook it. "I've heard lots of good things about you," Nelson grinned. Denver said nothing as he stood in front of Nelson holding his hand. For Denver, seeing and touching Nelson was sending bolts of electricity through him and Nelson was experiencing the same feelings. Neither boy knew what to say, so they just continued to hold each other's hand as they admired the other boy's beauty.
"Hey, dudes, wake up," Devin said lightheartedly. Even someone as dense about the ways of love as Devin couldn't miss what was passing between the two. Denver shook his head and let go of Nelson's hand.
"I'll be seeing you around a lot, I hope," Nelson grinned as he walked away.
When they returned to Devin's cabin later in the evening they unpacked and put away Denver's gear. "I think Nelson likes you," Devin said as they worked quickly.
"Yeah, he seems pretty nice. He's kind of good looking, too."
Devin elected not to say more, but he knew something had connected between his cousin and Nelson Graham. "Want to put the beds together tonight?" he asked instead.
Denver nodded. They put the beds together, got naked, and went under the covers. After a lot of kissing and making out, they got into some serious fondling and hugging and kissing and humping until they enjoyed orgasms within a minute of each other.
"I like it here," Denver said as they came down from their sexual high.
"Because of the sex?"
"No, although that's nice. It's just that I feel this is where I belong." Denver couldn't come up with the right words that told how he felt. He wanted to express how special bonding with his cousin was to him. He wanted to express how he loved being on the Sooloo, but how after less than half-day on the Endurance it felt like he had come home. And he wanted to tell how Nelson Graham had given him a hard-on just by shaking his hand.
Denver French couldn't say any of those things before falling asleep wrapped around his cousin's naked body. It wouldn't take long before he could, because his older cousin Devin had moved up the ranks from cousin to big brother and close confidant.
Gillespie had just landed the shuttle when Thompson and Enzan were coming out of the ruins. They climbed into the shuttle and Thompson started talking about the history of the people on this continent. "If anyone is interested, President Lincoln is not a descendant of Abraham Lincoln. Abraham's lineage died in 1985 with Robert Todd Lincoln. There were rumors that he did have a son, but they were never proven. While it is possible that President Lincoln is related to Abraham, they don't have any record prior to when William Lincoln was abducted."
"Still kind of interesting that he became president here," Gillespie threw out.
Enzan added, "Vice President Washington is not a descendant of George Washington, either. I mean, how could he be since George and Martha had no children?"
"That is true. Darrell is descended from a man named Ray Washington, and his wife Darla Hooker-Washington. Again, all their records start with the day their families were abducted and brought to this planet," Randy Thompson explained, "so they have no idea who they may have been related to on Earth, and they are not interested in finding out. As far as they are concerned, their history started with them on this planet."
Lt Commander Randy Thompson disembarked from the shuttle once it was safely docked and capable of opening its door. Per Jace's orders, he met with Jace and they went to Dave's Ready Room to give his report.
Lt. Commander Randy Thompson had reported to Dave what he and Enzan had shared with Gillespie, and then continued, "I guess it's a good thing that Walker didn't land on the other continent. While the Canadians on Earth are very friendly, the ones here do NOT trust outsiders. Walker and his team would have been killed immediately, no questions asked. According to Chief of Staff James Earp, and yes, according to the stories passed down, he is related to the famous lawman; anyway, he said that ever since they were abducted, they've grown distrusting of anyone not with them."
"I can understand that," Dave acknowledged, "I was thinking of sending a team down so they wouldn't feel left out, but not if that team will probably be killed."
"Also, the Science Stations have reported why they believe the flora is purple on this planet instead of green. It has to do with this planet orbiting a red dwarf while Earth orbits a yellow dwarf. Shortly after they placed the plants under a yellow artificial sub light, they started turning green."
"That is interesting to note."
Randy finished giving his report, then he and Jace were dismissed.
Once the others had gone, Dave called Hal and had their other guest escorted in.
Ensign Łukasz Kuc of the Endurance entered Dave's Ready Room and saluted. "Ensign Kuc, reporting as ordered, Sir."
"Ensign Kuc, I wanted to personally congratulate you on your commendation. However, I am placed in a questionable position. It seems that I am a man short in my security department now and have a dilemma that needs solving. I would like your help in solving it."
"Sir, I would be happy to offer any assistance you require." Kuc replied formally.
"Well, it appears that one of my Security/Tactical officers has requested a transfer to the Endurance. Based on a recommendation and request by my third in command, Commander Rivers, I would like you to consider transferring to the Sooloo to fill the void in the Security/Tactical department. I am aware that your previous Chief had not been very favorable in your performance reviews; however, I have done my own research. Would you consider such a transfer?"
Łukasz didn't even hesitate. "Sir, I would like at this time, to formally request a transfer from the SS Endurance to the SS Sooloo in the best interests of Space Fleet."
"Lieutenant, I have already spoken to Captain Garcia of the possibility of this transfer and it is hereby approved. Welcome to the SS Sooloo."
Kuc didn't even catch the fact that Dave had addressed him as a Lieutenant before he responded, "Thank you, Sir. I request that I be dismissed so I can return to the Endurance and collect my personal effects."
"Not so fast, you are out of uniform." Dave quipped, barely able to hold his smile.
"Sir? I believe my uniform is complete, I mean, I made sure I wore my dress uniform to come to you as ordered."
"Oh, the uniform is correct and proper, however, your rank insignia isn't. Think back to what I said a few minutes ago."
Finally, the penny dropped and Łukasz Kuc's smile grew. He noticed the box that was open on Dave's desk, reached to his lapel, removed his Ensign’s insignia, and replaced it with those of a Lieutenant. He saluted crisply and stated, "Sir, Lt. Kuc, requesting his leave to collect his personal effects from the Endurance and return immediately to the SS Sooloo."
"Permission granted, congratulations and welcome aboard."
Hal returned with a very happy Lars to their quarters. Lars went to Dave, gave him a hug, and started spouting off in broken English. Dave was certain the words were actually being spoken by the boy or he'd have to get on Jace and Brad for the failure of the translator.
Once Lars had finished talking about all the fun he had with Jason and Jonas, Dave sat him on his knee. "Lars, I need to talk to you about something serious. I am aware of what happened to your parents, and I know it makes you sad to think about it. I also know you love your grandfather very much, but what you don't know is that your grandfather isn't a well man… he's actually very sick. He has known for a while now that he will not live to see you turn nine-years-old."
Tears were forming in Lars' eyes, but he had known of his grandfather's condition, but had no clue what he would do. He did not answer Dave; he merely sat on the young man's lap, quietly.
Hal came over, sat next to them, put his hand on Lars’ back, and spoke to him quietly, "Lars, we have spoken to Arvid and he agrees that having parents would be better for you than having to fend for yourself, or even the possibility of being cast out into the cold. We would like you to stay with us on the Sooloo as our son. If you like that idea."
Lars was wrought with emotion; he threw himself at Dave and hugged him tightly, kissing him on each cheek, then leapt over to Hal, giving him the same treatment. "I consider myself very lucky… I went from having two dead parents and a grandfather who loves me, to having two fathers that I already love. Grandfather is showing me how much he loves me by letting me go with you. Does this mean that Jonas and Jason and me can swim naked together all the time?"
With a laugh, the two officers hugged their new son. They escorted him to the Shuttle Bay where Danny was waiting to fly them back to the planet. Lt Commander Boyer had prepared the official documents that Space Fleet would need for this adoption to be recognized, and they were waiting onboard the shuttle.
The trip to the planet was a happy one for all. They landed nearby to the entrance to the cave and went in to see Elder Arvid. He gladly signed the papers and with a tear, he kissed his grandson for the last time.
After allowing Lars time to go get the items he wanted to take with him and say goodbye to his friends, they all went back to the shuttle and ascended back into space and home.
An investigation was conducted, only to discover that the power outage was manmade. According to scans, the person who caused it was none other than Makeweather. Makeweather protested, claiming he was in his quarters at the time, but the computer confirmed that he was not. "I was giving you a second chance and within seven hours, you threw that away."
Makeweather declared, "I swear, it wasn't me. I'm being framed!!!"
"Yeah, take a look at who was at the terminal where the code was entered to shut everything down. According to the computer, you rebooted the computer systems."
Makeweather's expression went from looking innocent to that of shear disgust, "Fine, you caught me, but here's something to figure out. You were never the Captain this ship deserved. Nearly every officer aboard this ship was ready to throw you in the brig so we could run this ship the way it should have been. Your time will come, and when Walker is the Captain, we plan to eject you out into space."
Eric looked at the Holographic doctor, "Can you put Mr. Walker and Mr. Makeweather into a medically induced coma? That should make their escape that much harder than using the brig."
"I can place then in stasis, Sir. Then, should the ship lose power, we would have six hours before they would awaken. And, it will only use a tenth of the energy required for the brig."
Zapphire looked at Garcia, "I wouldn't worry about what Makeweather said. There was some truth in the fact that several of us were not happy with how lax the ship was becoming. We had planned to talk with you and see what was needed to get us where we thought we should be. We NEVER planned to mutiny, at least most of us, but we did want to voice our concerns to you. I can attest to the fact that all of us are happy with the changes that you've made. We should have started in our own departments, so we are just as guilty as you, if not more. I'm sorry that we were hypocritical in that regard."
"Thank you for saying something. I will need every officer's assistance, but I believe we have a good crew and with just a little discipline, be close to as good as what the Sooloo set as an example."
"I'm sure you will have every officer's help. This is what we were wanting, and I am proud to have you as my Captain." Commander Zapphire saluted Garcia as a sign of respect.
Garcia then tapped his comm and stated, "Bridge, please ask Commander French to lay in a course to where we were supposed to be, let Captain Bowman know that we are headed out and thank him for all he has done for us. The last shuttle has docked, so once French has his calculations programmed, go to FTL 1."
At Noon, Lt Commander Randy Thompson headed for the Senior Officers' Mess. Unbeknownst to him, Captain Bowman had every officer that was off duty in there waiting. Randy walked in and everyone shouted, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!"
Randy Jenkins had baked a spice cake with cream cheese icing and brought it out. He placed sixteen candles on the cake and lit them. Thompson attempted to blow the candles out but left two. With a quick huff, he blew them out. Someone made the joke, "I wouldn't hire him…"
Randy snapped back, "Hey, I'm good at THAT… just ask Antonio."
Antonio just laughed and agreed, "He IS good."
Once all the Senior Officers had their cake, Randy Jenkins moved the remaining cake to the Regular Mess for the crewmen to enjoy.
Lt Commander Boyer was just going over the final check of his paperwork (on a memory stick, of course, who actually used paper in these days?) when he received a notification of an incoming message from Space Fleet. Obviously, they had been stationary for a long enough period for the signal to reach them. He clicked the necessary verification string and a message appeared on his screen, the message read:
Request for formal adoption of Jonas and Jason Medici is hereby approved. From this time forward, they shall be named Jason and Jonas Blackwell-Rivers. In addition, Captain Bowman's request for promotion of Lt. Commander Kyle Robinson is also hereby approved. Please pass on my personal congratulations to Commander Robinson. Please make sure he knows I am very proud of him.
Robinson, Gregory, Admiral – Space Fleet
Steve printed three copies of the message, left his office and went to the Captain's quarters to deliver it.
Dave sat in the Captain's chair with Hal on his left. Lars was seated on his lap. He turned to Kyle and asked, "Commander Robinson, have the calculations for our next destination been computed and verified?"
Kyle, more confident than he had been prior to this planetfall stated formally, "Course calculated, verified and laid in, Sir."
Dave turned to Jordan next, "Commander Rivers, can you call Commander Blackwell to the bridge on-the-double!"
Jordan was taken aback. Typically, it was not usual for the Chief of Internal Ship's Operations to be on the bridge when leaving a planet, but he replied, "I will, Sir." Jordan then went on the shipwide, "Commander Blackwell, to the bridge immediately!"
Just a few minutes later, Jace ran onto the bridge, "Commander Blackwell, reporting as ordered, Sir."
Dave, again in his official voice called out, "Commander Robinson, Front and Center!"
Kyle's eyes opened wide, his confidence shaken, if only briefly and he moved to stand in front of Captain Bowman and offered a crisp salute. "Reporting as ordered, Sir."
"Commanders Rivers and Blackwell, Front-and-Center!"
Jordan and Jace looked at one another momentarily before replying as Kyle did, using their own names.
Dave then nodded to Hal who handed each of them the communique that had been received. All three Senior Officers had tears in their eyes as they read the document. Jordan and Jace because of the fact that the twins were now officially their sons, and Kyle because his promotion had been given to him by his father, and the final personal message that was at the end of the message.
"Congratulations Commander Robinson, and to Commanders Rivers and Blackwell, congratulations on the adoption of your sons." At that moment, Dave's ready room door opened and Jonas and Jason ran out to their fathers.
"Commander Robinson, I do believe we have an adventure to continue. Please take us away from the planet and onward to our next destination."
"Yes, Sir." Kyle went on to issue the appropriate orders to break orbit, then to make preparations to jump to FTL.
Lars watched with sorrow, trepidation, and excitement all rolled into one as the only home he had ever known grew smaller and smaller on the screen, until it was no longer visible.
When I first came up with the idea for Voyagers, I knew it was a project I would not be able to do on my own. I solicited the best authors I knew to join me in this venture. I got the idea of making this a collaboration after reading another collaborative effort. Yesterday, October 22, 2018 marked the 16th anniversary of that collaboration. I would like to offer my personal congratulations to ACFan and the entire CSU Author's Group on this achievement. It is my hope that we are all still around in 2033 for the 16th anniversary of Voyagers. DouglasDD and Zarek Dragon, I could not want for better companions in this endeavor. Also, I want to recognize Zarek Dragon for his talent at creating all of our extended content, in many ways Steve Boyer is the representation of this fantastic Author, a person I am proud to call my brother, since he's much closer than any friend, maybe we should borrow another concept from CSU and call Zarek the Voyagers Universe Archivist.
Having just read this chapter, I found it to be extremely heartwarming and powerful. I had tears in my eyes when I read the letter, and again when Kyle read it. That was totally appropriate. I loved it.
I, too congratulate ACFan and the others associated with the CSU and wish everyone the best and hopes for a long and successful continuation of both endeavors.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher