Randy and Tom decided to adopt a ten-year-old boy named Tomo. He is a friend to Juro, and they were friends with Prince Zifaa. The three boys built a submersible with the help of Juro's father.
Danny had become nervous about flying, spoke with Hal and then conquered that fear.
Koji's birthday was on the twelfth and Ben Maxwell decorated the cake.
"Captain, the Shuttle Bay reported that the Raphael has returned and is docked."
"Thank you, Aiden," Dave responded. "John, did you and Kyle set a course?"
"Yes Sir, we took care of that as soon as we were aboard."
Jordan was curious, "Where are we heading, Sir?"
"I have no idea, let's find out. Steady as she goes, Lieutenant, remember, she is practically a new ship. FTL Three once out of the space dock"
"Captain, are you serious about not knowing where we're heading?"
"John Luke is the Astrogator on watch," Dave replied. "I assume he knows where we're going."
Aiden knew he was getting his chain yanked, and he also knew he could do nothing about it, so he turned to John and asked where they were heading.
"Kyle is the head Astrogator and calculated our destination and course. Since I don't want to reveal any top-secret information, I suggest you ask him," John Luke said with feigned innocence.
"That's okay, I think I'll just remain ignorant and hope the two of you didn't set a course that will send us plummeting into the heart of a star."
"Aiden, I am so disappointed in your opinion of our astrogating abilities."
Aiden let out a deep sigh and opened his communicator. Everyone on the bridge knew he was going to call Kyle and they all did their best to hide their amusement.
As the teasing on the bridge was unfolding, Kyle and Danny were taking Koji on the tour of the Sooloo. They showed their son the officers' mess and lounge, sickbay, the locations of the quarters of Koji's friends, and took him to the holodeck. Danny keyed in their code for the meadow and pond and they entered one of their favorite holodeck scenes.
Koji was awestruck. "There really is a lake on the spaceship. Koji did not think it was something real."
"Well, in a sense... it isn't real, but after putting together all of the physics involved, it turns out to be as good as real," Kyle said.
"And Koji can skinny dip on the lake?" Kyle hoped it wouldn't take too long to end Koji's habit of referring to himself in the third person.
"Yes, he can," Danny replied. As soon as Koji started unbuttoning his shirt Danny realized he had spoken too soon. Koji had obviously taken his reply as permission to go into the water. The boy was quickly shirtless and was opening his pants before Danny could get him to stop. "Skinny dipping will come at a later time," he told his disappointed son. "We have other things to do and see while we have the time."
"May I just swim to one side and back so Koji can see what it is like in a lake in a ship? Please?" He continued undressing and was naked in seconds.
As he started toward the water Kyle barked out, "Koji, stop!"
Koji understood what Kyle's tone of voice meant and came to an instant halt. Before Kyle could admonish his son for not paying attention to directions his communicator signaled an incoming call. He saw it was from Aiden and assumed it was an official call, which in a sense it was.
"Robinson," Kyle said in a curt, but professional manner.
"Kyle, it's Aiden." Aiden identified himself even though he knew Kyle had seen his name on his screen. By so doing he let Kyle know that his call wasn't official business. At least, Aiden didn't think it was, but the way he was getting teased by Dave and John Luke made him wonder.
"What can I do for you Aiden?" He saw Koji starting to inch toward the shore of the pond. "Koji, I said stop! Put your clothes on and wait next to Danny Dad."
"What was that about?" Aiden could feel all the eyes on the bridge focusing on him.
"Long Story. Danny and I are still learning how to deal with our headstrong son."
"Sorry to interrupt what sounds like an important father-son moment. I wish you the best of luck."
"It's okay. Go ahead and ask your question."
"It's a simple one. Where are we going?"
"Koji... get dressed NOW!"
"Please." Danny stepped in and handed Koji his shirt.
"Didn't Dave tell you?"
"He said he didn't know."
"I guess John Luke hasn't told Dave yet."
"You mean Dave just said for you guys to go where you want to go?"
"Not exactly." Kyle saw that Koji now had his shirt on and was pulling up his underpants. "It was like a multiple-choice test. He gave us five destinations and told us to pick one, but not to tell him right away."
"So where are we going?"
"Why didn't you just ask John Luke?"
"I did. He told me it was top secret and to ask you. Now could you just tell me, I'm tired of getting the runaround from the bridge crew."
Kyle wanted to laugh about the hijinks on the bridge while at the same time he wanted to yell at Koji to put his socks and shoes on. Danny saved Kyle the trouble by telling their son face-to-face.
"Well, since you're a fellow senior officer, not to mention a fellow new dad and my friend, I will end your suffering," Kyle said with a humorous lilt to his voice. "Tell Dave that Bible and I picked choice C."
"Thanks, Kyle... I think. And good luck with Koji. It sounds like he's going to be a handful."
"Oh, he already is," Kyle chuckled.
Kyle saw that Koji was now fully dressed. Koji knew that his dads were not happy, but he wasn't sure why. "I said please," he reminded his dads.
"Yes, you did," Kyle responded, "and Danny Dad and I both appreciated that. But, instead of waiting for an answer, you just kept getting undressed, and that was what you did wrong. It is VERY important on a starship that you do what we say is okay to do, and not what you think we might say because you think it is okay." Kyle wasn't sure that what he said made sense, but it was the best he could do.
"Koji is sorry he did wrong," Koji said contritely.
"Say, 'I am sorry I did wrong,'" Kyle instructed.
Koji paused and then said, "I am sorry I did wrong, and Koji is sorry, too."
Danny laughed and ruffled his son's hair. "Don't worry, Koji, you'll get it all down as soon as your school gets started."
Kyle could see that Danny was becoming the good cop in their relationship with Koji. He wasn't sure whether that was a good thing. It was something they would have to work out between them. He needed some good parenting advice and felt this might be his first father-to-father discussion with Dave.
On the bridge, Aiden ended his call with Kyle and looked around triumphantly. "I know something our captain doesn't know," he grinned.
"And what would that be?" Dave asked.
"Where we're going."
"And, just where are we going?"
"Like John Luke said, it's top secret. You'll have to ask your chief astrogator." Aiden gave Dave a mock salute and left the bridge.
Tomo and Juro were watching the gauges as the ship was in flight. "Opsola, are these gauges always this low?" Tomo inquired.
Tom looked and called Connor over, "Are we only running impulse? Normally when we are in FTL, there is more stress."
Juro added, "And look at the Speed Indicator Gauge."
Connor called up to the bridge, "Captain, what speed are we currently running at? The indicator says FTL Three, but the speed indicator show we are moving almost at a speed equivalent of FTL Five and the stress level is that of impulse. We may need to recalibrate the gauges."
"We are set at FTL Three, but if you feel a need to recalibrate, we can do that as we head to where we are going."
As the ship travelled to their next destination, they did so at various speeds so Connor could recalibrate his gauges. Connor let the boys, Juro and Tomo assist, but advised them that conversation needed to be restricted to that of the recalibration.
Once Connor was pleased with the calibration he called to the Bridge, "Captain, the calibrations are completed. The ship is way faster than it was. Juro and Tomo advised me that the Draconians refer to their speed as Hyper Flight. With this improved speed and since the name really doesn't make a difference, I'd like to start referring to it as such."
"As you stated, Commander, the name doesn't matter, we can start calling it Hyper Flight, though some of the boys may miss the thoughts FTL gives them."
"Our new top speed is HF 11, before the hull starts stressing and the engines are taxed. Dave, that is almost two thousand times the speed of light. It is 1936, to be precise. Our top speed before was eight hundred times the speed of light."
Dave was amazed, but stayed professional, "Good to know... unless we have an emergency, I don't see a reason to travel at that speed, but it's nice to know."
After disconnecting the comm from Dave, Connor looked at Juro and Tomo, "We just worked five hours straight without lunch. Are you boys hungry?"
"Starved," Juro replied.
"Running late, Commander?" Logan Kristoff inquired.
"We were busy down in Engineering. You should have seen these boys helping me. Tom Kohl ran the rest of Engineering while I took care of the recalibration with these boys."
"We just finished and Opsola asked if we were hungry," Juro explained.
"Tom was here earlier. We were just about to breakdown from lunch and start setting up for supper. You got here just in time."
"What's left?" Connor inquired.
"We have some shimmy stew, macaroni and cheese, or grilled cheese with tomato soup."
"We know what shimmy stew is, but what are the other things?" Tomo asked.
Logan took time to explain and Tomo asked for grilled cheese with tomato soup. Juro asked for macaroni and cheese while Connor had the shimmy stew.
As they ate, Juro brought up, "Opsola, when we were back on the planet, you know Tomo, Zifaa and I did almost everything together."
"Yes, and we have your submersible aboard as proof."
Juro was slightly agitated, "Opsola, you don't understand what I am saying."
"I'm sorry, why don't you explain so I can."
"Some nights, Tomo would spend the night at my home, some nights, we stayed in the castle with Prince Zifaa. We... " Juro hesitated, not sure how to explain.
Connor took that time to suggest, "Experimented together, maybe sexually?"
"Ummm, I guess you could call it that."
"There's nothing wrong with that and nothing to be ashamed of. Almost everyone on this ship has experimented at some point."
"So, you wouldn't be mad if Tomo and I continue experimenting?"
"Thank you for asking," Connor smiled, "just know that Dad and I don't need to know WHAT you do, but if you ever have questions, we will try to answer you. Also, Koji is too young..."
"Ewww," Tomo commented. "Don't get me wrong, Koji is a great boy, but as you said, too young. Heck, I'm not even sure the boys that were already aboard are old enough."
"I'm glad to hear that. The Twins and Lars are less than two years younger than either of you, so they are old enough, but I am glad that you don't feel as if they are."
"We think anyone more than a year older or younger is too old or too young."
Connor acknowledged, "That means you two will be stuck with each other."
"How old is Kyle?" Juro inquired.
"He'll be thirteen on his next birthday, which is fourteen days after Tomo's eleventh. Besides, he's married."
"You must admit, he IS cute, but he is too old. Still, I wouldn't mind sucking his dekachin."
"Juro!!!" Connor shouted. Connor wasn't a hundred percent sure if dekachin meant what he thought, but he had a strong feeling. "Does that mean what I think?"
Juro started to blush. "Probably, it is Darastixian for male parts. I think you call it a penis."
"Okay, no more talk like that. If you two do it, I have no problem with it, and I'm sure Dad won't either. It's part of being a growing boy. Dad's on duty tonight, but I know he will agree with what I said. I will discuss it with him tomorrow."
"Can I spend the night with Tomo?" After his comment, he wasn't sure Connor would let him, but still he wanted to ask.
"If Tomo's dads don't mind."
"Thank you, Opsola."
Tom had finished his watch and was lying on the couch when Randy walked in. "You look worn," Randy commented.
"Connor left me in charge of Engineering while he and the boys worked on recalibrating. That sounds easy enough, but when you have a crewman who thinks he knows what he is doing, it can wear you down."
"So, where is Tomo?" Randy questioned.
"He's with Connor and Juro. I swear, if you see the boys interact, something tells me that they are more than just friends."
"Take off your uniform top and let me massage your shoulders."
"Tomo isn't here," Tom grinned, "we COULD do more."
"When will Tomo be returning?"
"I don't know."
"Well, if you want to do more, let's go into our bedroom so Tomo doesn't walk in on us."
As if on cue, Tomo and Juro walked in. "Dad, Opsola, can Juro spend the night in our quarters? My bed is big enough for both of us." Tom nodded at Randy.
"Not tonight," Randy stated. "This is our first night together aboard the Sooloo."
"I understand," Tomo acknowledged. "Maybe tomorrow?"
"Maybe," Tom offered. "We can discuss it."
Just before bed time, Jonas and Jason started a conversation with their dads in their quarters.
"Dad, you said that Jason and I can do stuff with Lars because he's close to our age? Are Koji, Tomo and Juro close enough?" Jonas inquired. Jace knew exactly what Jonas meant by "stuff." He looked at Jordan for an answer.
"Well, Tomo and Juro are less than two years older than you," Jordan told him. "That's pushing the boundaries, but if they want to do anything, I think it might be alright. Koji is just under two years younger than you. Again, it's pushing it, but if he's wanting to, well we won't say no. Just don't force anyone to do something they aren't ready for or let them force you."
Jace asked, "Are you interested in any of the boys in general?"
"Well, I do think Lars is kinda cute and Jason likes Koji, but we don't want to limit ourselves just yet."
"Okay," Jace chuckled. "just remember what Daddy said about forcing or being forced."
"Thank you," Jonas said with a mile-wide grin on his face. He and Jason retreated to their compartment, babbling away with each other.
"Were you that horny at their age?" Jace asked Jordan.
"At their age, I was learning French from Mr. Angèlo. I think I kinda had a crush on him, but also thought he was too old. I wasn't on a starship surrounded by a bunch of hormone-crazed adolescent boys. Who knows what kind of effect that is having on our little sex fiends," Jordan laughed. "How about you?"
"I never even thought about experimenting until I met you."
"Dads, when do I get to start school?" Koji asked as he and his dads prepared to head to the officers' mess for dinner.
"Danny, have you been keeping track of how often Koji has asked that question over the last two days?" Kyle asked.
"No, but I'll say this much - it's great to see him enthusiastic about his schooling."
"You keep saying you don't know, and I think maybe you found out, so I ask when school starts because you might know."
While Kyle wasn't sure of what Koji had just said, he was pleased that his son had described himself in first person in two straight statements. Progress was being made. "Okay, one more time, here is what Daddy Danny and I know. Lieutenant Boyer, Commander Kayne, and Ensign Fujima are busy putting together a computer learning system for all you boys."
"My learning will all be on computer?"
"Most of it will be, but there will be officers and even crewmen who will give live lessons, too. Someone will either be assigned to the classroom or be available for instant contact." Kyle planned on being one of the instructor/tutors and was creating a math assessment on his computer, so he would know where all the boys stood. "When we know more, Koji, you will be the first to know."
"When are we going skinny dipping?" Koji asked. Kyle had no idea what generated that sudden change of topic other than his being satisfied with the answers to his questions.
"Daddy Kyle and I hope in the next day or two," Danny replied.
"Lars wants to ask Koji something but first he is talking to his daddies."
"What does he want to ask?"
"Koji cannot tell you yet."
"Say, I cannot tell you yet, Koji. Remember what we've been telling you about what person you talk in."
"Koji talks in Koji person," the young boy grinned. Kyle and Danny weren't sure if that was an intentional quip or if Koji was getting confused again.
Lars had the same chat with Dave and Hal as Koji and the twins and received the same answer; it's okay if everyone completely agrees. Tomo and Juro were still feeling their way around. Thoughts of sexual experimentation with the Sooloo boys weren't seen as anything to act on outside of maybe a masturbation fantasy. If either of them had a strong fantasy it was the boy crush Juro had on Kyle.
After his chat with Lars, Dave wondered if the twins had a similar chat with Jace and Jordan. He took advantage of the first chance he had to ask and was not surprised by the answer. What did surprise him was Kyle relating his talk with Koji. Apparently, the curiosity wasn't one way. As a result, he talked to Aiden who told him the topic of sex hadn't been broached with his son.
"We're still trying to figure out whose toothbrush is whose," he laughed.
After receiving a similar answer from Randy, Dave hoped the sexual play between the boys wouldn't escalate, even though he knew that boys will be boys. After all, he thought, look at the relationships that have sprouted among the boys of the crew. Dave hadn't realized how doubling the number of adopted boys on the Sooloo would make things so complicated.
Koji, Lars, Jason and Jonas were inspecting the progress of the work on the new classroom. Tomo and Juro were at the shuttle bay learning how the Sooloo's shuttle operation worked.
Three crewmen were busily installing a wall in what had been an unused Junior Officers' Quarters. Whit Olson, Jesse Gross and Alan Hole had been pulled from their regular duties to complete the remodeling work. They were technically under the supervision of Jace Blackwell, but Jace turned the hands-on supervision over to Steve Boyer. Steve gave the crewmen the plans for the classroom and the specific tasks he needed completed during their shift and worked with crewman Marquis to move the equipment out of the construction area. Most of it was stacked in the corridor.
"Why are you making the wall?" Lars asked the crewmen in general.
Alan wanted to tell the brat that it was so they could lock them in the room all day and keep them out of their hair, but he knew it would not be a good idea to give the Captain's son any kind of shit. He'd been called on the carpet more than once by Captain Bigshot and he wasn't in the mood for another visit.
Jesse took it upon himself to answer the question. "This is a big room that was only used to store a lot of things, but we've moved a lot of stuff around since the launch. So, we're dividing it into three sections. The first section will be where you study on computers. The middle section will be your classroom with a teacher. And the last section will be where you can sit with a teacher, one-on-one to help with any struggling."
What an ass-kissing prick, Alan thought. He used to be a pain in the ass like me, but ever since he helped Boyfucker and earned a blowjob when we battled the rogue star, he's been like a fucking model crewman.
"With computers and desks and books and a teacher?" Jason asked.
"Well, I don't know about books, but I know they'll be setting up computers and desks and stuff as soon as we're finished. Now, how about you kids moving on, you are kind of getting in our way."
"But we're in the hall," Lars protested, "and you're working on the room."
Alan decided it was time for him to step in and get rid of the little fuckers, so they could get their work done. "Take a look at the tools and shit around you, that might give you a hint we're using the corridor as a work space too. Not that we want to strain your brains or anything before your school starts, so move your butts."
The boys scurried off. That had been the first time they'd dealt with Alan and the four of them quickly agreed they didn't like him. They would have left in a couple of minutes anyway, since they were supposed to meet Kyle and Unka Brad at the holodeck for skinny dipping.
"You could have said that a little better," Jesse said.
"You guys sure weren't getting rid of them and the little dumb shits didn't look like they were going to leave just because we were asking them nicely, so I took care of things. I got rid of them, didn't I?"
"Yes, you did," Whit said. Jesse and Alan looked at him in surprise. Whit was a boy of few words, so it was almost always a surprise when he opened his mouth. Everyone thought the relationship between quiet Whit and chatty Randy Jenkins was an interesting contrast in personalities. "But you forgot their fathers are all senior officers."
"Big deal. They were in the way, and I got rid of them. And I didn't say anything I wasn't supposed to say, so let's get the fuck to work."
Whit didn't like Alan either, while Jesse was wondering why he ever wanted A. Hole to be his friend.
Alan Hole and Richard Head had been friends from the moment they entered the Prep School when they were ten. Their fates had shown they had a warped sense of humor when A. Hole and Dick Head were assigned to the same room as roommates. Both boys came from dysfunctional families and neither of them was well liked by his classmates. But, they liked each other and found they had a lot in common from their totally stupid names to their total dislike for their peers and authority. Between them they learned how to hide their own personal dysfunction.
They were smart, or they would never have been accepted into the Prep School, but they were also lazy. While neither were ever placed on full academic probation, they often flirted with it.
They learned that they enjoyed seeing each other naked, so they quit wearing clothes in their dorm room. They started sleeping which each other, enjoying the touches and hugs and eventually the kisses they never received from their families. By their second year, the then eleven-year-olds were active sexually.
They read up on sex and sexual activities. They were active in bed, active in the shower, active on the floor, and became active in many venues outside of their dorm room. Not long after they had both turned twelve, they worked up the courage to try anal sex. In another joke played on them by the fates, eighty percent of the time they fucked, Dick Head was the bottom for A. Hole. The irony of the situation didn't escape them.
As they hit thirteen, their 'them-against-the world' attitude netted them few friends, but they weren't totally isolated either. If nothing else, some of their peers hung around them because of their wealth of knowledge about sex. Richard and Alan, as they preferred to be called at the Academy, were more than happy to share that expertise.
Both boys were bigger than average for their age and they worked out religiously making them stronger than their peers. They started working harder to get their grades up and gave due respect to faculty and to those who held superior rank. They had high opinions of themselves and weren't surprised to be chosen for the Space Explorer program.
They had to work to be a finalist and, better yet, find a way to get assigned to the same ship.
After being chased away by the crewmen working on their new classroom, Koji, Lars, Jason, and Jonas whizzed down the corridors to the holodeck where they would meet Kyle and Brad for some fun. When they arrived, they could tell that the section of the holodeck Kyle had reserved for them was occupied.
"I think we are early," Jonas said.
"I know we are," Lars agreed, "or else, Unka Kyle and Unka Brad would be here waiting for us."
To fill their waiting time, the boys started in on some idle chatter. "I think I am going to like our school," Koji said. "We will have lots of room. And, Daddy Kairu said he was going to teach us maths."
"Aren't you supposed to say 'math'?" Jason asked.
"Koji learned in my school that you say maths," Koji replied as he once again twisted his syntax.
"I hope we all get to sit together and have the same teacher," Lars said. "If we have a teacher; my pop said that sometimes we learn on the computer."
Jason and Jonas started telling Koji about how they sometimes helped Unka Kyle with his basketball shooting. "We get to chase the ball nakey," Jason said.
The red light above the door for Holodeck Two turned to green. The door opened, and Randy Jenkins and Ben Maxey stepped out. Koji made a move to enter but Randy stopped him. "You have to wait just like your friends are," he told the boy. "You need an officer to let you in." Randy closed the door behind him.
Ben reached into a bag he was carrying and counted out some chocolate chip cookies, handing one to each boy. "Save them for when you go in," he said.
"Unka Kyle and Unka Brad need cookies, too," Jonas pointed out.
"I dare you to wait," Randy grinned. "I just found out that Mister Klutz-in-the-Kitchen not only can ice a great cake, but he makes a mean chocolate chip cookie. The little fart just won the Sooloo Baker of the Month Award."
"I did?" Ben asked in surprise. "Do I get a trophy?"
"Nope, you get to clean out the mashed potato pots before they go into the washer."
"But I do that anyway," Ben groused as he and Randy walked away from the boys.
"True. But now instead of being your job it becomes a privilege."
Right then Brad and Kyle arrived from the opposite direction. "Hey guys, sorry we're a couple of minutes late," Brad said. "Kyle seems to have been born with a late gene." The jabs from Randy and Brad were going over Koji's head, but he understood it was the kind of teasing that friends did to each other, like Zack used to do to him.
Kyle tapped his card on the reader and the door opened for them. He stepped inside the small foyer first and punched in program KR2, which was the scene with a green field, some bushes, and, most importantly, the lake for wading and swimming.
"Look, Unca Kyle, we got cookies from Randy and Ben," Jason said as he held up his cookie for display.
"Did you get any for us?" Brad asked. Jonas handed him the two extra cookies. "Good job, guys. And Kyle and I brought lunch, just like we promised." The boys cheered and started to strip. Since Koji had skinny dipped with the other three boys on Draconia, he knew the drill. Brad and Kyle set the tote bags they'd been carrying on the picnic table and watched four naked little asses streak for the pond.
"Well, Kyle, what are we waiting for? The water beckons." He and Kyle stripped their clothes off, Kyle took a beachball and the two older boys did their own streak to the pond.
The quartet of boys were screaming, yelling, grabbing each other everywhere, jumping on one another, and having a boyish good time. Kyle and Brad shrieked as they dashed into the water.
Kyle tossed the beachball to Koji and they soon had a game of 'keep away' going. Kyle and Brad wished they could have gotten involved in the naked wrestling and horseplay, but they understood they were performing a balancing act. On the one hand, they were still pubescent boys who desired to do the fun kinds of things they had watched the quartet doing. On the other hand, they were senior officers on a starship and, in Kyle's case, the father of one of the boys and they had to behave accordingly.
Playing 'keep away' with the beachball was a compromise. They could still play naked in the water with other boys while not being inadvertently involved in any inappropriate gropes. When the game started morphing into a combination of beachball game and wrestling, Kyle suggested to Brad that they get out of the water and set the lunches out.
Brad had told Kyle, as they waited for Randy and Ben to pack the lunches, that Steve was going to manipulate the schedule after the Megrez stop so Kyle, Randy Jenkins, Danny, maybe Ben Maxey, if he was willing, as well as Brad and himself, could have a skinny-dipping party of their own. "One where anything goes, just like those little rug rats only better," Brad grinned.
"On this one, we're the crew rug rats, right?" Kyle asked.
"Yep, anyone fourteen and under who we think would be into a skinny-dipping party. That could end up including some guys I didn't mention. Steve doesn't think he'll be able to get everybody scheduled at once, so we might need two parties."
Kyle was really uncertain about the idea, "That could become too weird. We'll have guys who we know want to be there, some guys who wished they could be there but weren't invited, and guys who were invited but would never do something like that. In other words, not everybody is going to be happy."
"Damn, you've always been a prude, Kyle."
"This has nothing to do with being a prude and everything to do with keeping the Sooloo working together."
"I guess that means no crazy, full bore skinny dipping for us. Well, we deserve it as much or more than those kids."
Kyle finished setting the sandwiches on a serving tray and Brad started pouring fruit juice into paper cups. "I never said we couldn't have a skinny-dipping orgy," Kyle said. "But let's keep the party just for our close friends to start. We could make you, Steve, Danny, me, Randy Jenkins and figure out one more to make six. Then, if somebody hears about our fun and wants to be part of a party some other time, they could be added on. If we start by inviting people who aren't our close friends, it's just not going to work."
"Why not?" Brad chuckled. "We had everybody on the ship getting naked not that long ago, thanks to you."
Kyle debated, "That was different."
"You know Kyle Robinson, for a little shit with no pubic hair, you sure are smart."
"Hey, I have a few little strands of pubic hair starting."
"Make those tiny strands," Brad laughed.
They finished setting up lunch and called the boys to eat. "At least we don't have to make sure they washed their hands," Kyle said as the quartet reached the table. Kyle and Brad noted that Koji and Jonas each had popped little boners.
After lunch the quartet talked quietly among themselves. Finally, Lars asked if they could go to the field on the other side of the pond and digest their lunches.
"Go ahead, but no swimming yet," Kyle replied. He and Brad knew the Terrific Trio well enough by this time to know there might be some exercises happening in the field behind the row of brush that would have nothing to do with being in the water. What Kyle wasn't sure about yet was how Koji would respond to it. After the talk they had, Kyle was confident his new son would be okay.
Jason grabbed a beach blanket from the supply box and the boys marched around the bush and out of sight. Lars had told Koji what to be ready for and Koji was not surprised to notice that the twins now had erections as well.
The four boys lay supine on the blanket. Koji watched as Jonas and Jason played with each other's peckers.
"Want to do the same?" Lars asked. Koji nodded and soon, he and Lars were engaged in mutual masturbation as well. This was not a first-time experience for Koji. He and Maaku Akihiro at the orphanage had done it with each other a few times and kept wishing Zack would ask him to do something. Since Zack was a prince, Koji had never considered asking Zack.
Kyle and Brad were sitting side-by-side at the picnic table engaged in the same exercise as the quartet. They sat where they could detect anyone coming around or through the bush and felt safe from detection. What they really wanted to do was get on the ground for a rousing sixty-nine, but once again their responsibilities trumped their raging hormones.
"The only difference between us and them," Brad said as he pleasured Kyle, "is we're going to have a mess to clean up and we're WAY hornier than those little rug rats, no matter what they think."
Tomo and Juro were working at a console that Connor had assigned them to. Connor had just left them when Captain Bowman entered the Engineering section. "Why do I have two civilians working in one of the most critical and dangerous part of my ship?"
Hearing Dave's raised voice, Connor rushed back to the console. "I'm sorry, Sir," Connor apologized. "They were so good with helping me calibrate the speed of the engines..."
"So, this isn't the first time you've had civilians working in Engineering?" Dave interrupted, hoping Connor didn't catch on right away to what he was doing.
"No Sir, but I knew they were capable. If you had seen the submersible they built..."
"I've seen it. It looks like a damn fine piece of work, but I can't have civilians working in Engineering. Is THAT clear?"
"Yes, Sir," Connor replied. "It won't happen again."
"You're damn right it won't happen again," Dave stated as he turned to leave. Connor started apologizing to the boys, but then Dave stopped at the hatch and turned back toward them, "Acting Ensign Kohl, Acting Ensign Marlin-Douglass, you two are out of uniform. Report to Commander Boyer to rectify this immediately. Once that is done, report back here to Commander Marlin-Douglass so he may schedule your watches. Commander, remember, they will have school starting soon."
"Yes Sir, I will bear that in mind, as well as other parts of the ship they may want to work as well."
While Operations was Jordan's domain, Jordan allowed Steve Boyer to handle all things concerning uniforms. Steve had received a comm message from Dave about the boys coming to get uniforms. He started replicating the uniforms right away. The boys knocked on the hatchway even though there wasn't a door. Steve gave them permission to enter. Being the older of the two, Juro spoke, "Commander Boyer, Captain Bowman told us..."
Steve raised his hand, "I am aware and thank you for being so formal. One thing you will learn about this ship is, unless it is absolutely necessary, we aren't that formal."
"How will we know when we need to be formal?" Tomo inquired.
"You'll learn, trust me. Here are your uniforms. Juro, you only need one since you will be working in Engineering and Tactical and they wear the same uniform. Tomo, the one with the blue is for Engineering. The one with green is for the Science Department. These are to be worn ONLY when you are on duty. When they get dirty, ripped or just need changed, place them in the replicator and it will break it down into its proper components and replicate a new one for you, including the silver bar."
"What does the silver bar mean? My dad has a gold bar and Juro's dad has three gold bars."
"Well, the silver bar actually means Cadet, but since no cadets are aboard this ship, we are using it to mean 'Acting Ensign,'" Steve replied.
The boys took their uniforms and went back to their quarters to change before reporting back to Connor.
After their skinny-dipping session in holodeck one, Koji and Lars spent their time convincing their fathers that this was a good time for their first overnight. They thought their best argument was since their classroom was almost finished and they should be able to enjoy a night together before school started.
Their persistence paid off. Lars, Koji, Kyle, Danny and Hal shared a table in officers' mess for dinner. After dinner, Lars went with Koji and his dads to Koji's new quarters. The boys enjoyed playing some games and looking through Koji's new telescope. After the boys were put to bed by Kyle and Danny, Koji had a warm naked body sharing his bed.
Lars showed Koji something Koji had heard about at the orphanage but had never seen or done – oral sex. He told Koji that the twins did it as well and he went over the rules his dad had explained to him, which sounded remarkably like the rules Koji had learned from his own dads.
The next morning, Danny arose early since he had watch at 0800 when he would be taking charge of getting two shuttles and the shuttle bay ready for use. This was standard procedure when approaching a new star system since a shuttle might be needed at any time. Kyle had the navigation watch on the bridge from 1200 to 1600.
A big reason Kyle approved of Lars spending the night, other than it made Koji the happiest boy in the space exploration program, was so he could prep Lars and Koji, as well as the twins, for what he thought they should expect as the Sooloo approached Megrez. Jace had assured Kyle the night before that he would make sure the twins would report to his quarters by 0830.
Kyle got out of bed after Danny left and woke up Lars and Koji. "You two get showered. Your breakfast and the twins should arrive in about twenty minutes." Kyle had taken the boys' breakfast orders the night before.
After their shower, the boys set up three trays in Koji's bedroom. Koji would eat at his desk while the Trio would use the trays. Kyle would be eating at the small table in the living area and would link his computer to the mainframe so he could get the picture from Telescope Three.
The twins arrived carrying their stuffed animals. Jonas was carrying Kyle the Bear while Jason had the stuffed blue dragon Jace had replicated. The twins knew they had to be in the nude for their star talk with Megrez. Kyle told them they could get naked any time before then, so of course they stripped down immediately. They joined Lars and Koji, who were already naked, for breakfast.
Lars and Koji shared their mutual experiences the night before. Jason told Koji that Lars learned how to make somebody feel good with his mouth from them. They acted as if they had invented the blow job and wanted to make sure Koji knew how clever they were. While Koji knew the twins weren't as clever as they thought, he diplomatically kept his mouth shut.
Kyle could hear their enthusiastic banter, but couldn't make out what they were saying, which he thought was probably a good thing. After breakfast he had the boys gather in the living area. Kyle had given the four boys an idea of what the meeting would be about and why they all would be naked.
Kyle asked Jonas what the name of the dragon was. "Pappy told us that in the Dragon tongue, 'ulhar' is the word for 'blue' so we named him Ulhar."
"It is," Koji squealed. "I named my pet Chidrag."
He signaled them to sit on a large beach blanket he had laid out on the floor where he joined them. Megrez, Kyle Bear, Ulhar and Chidrag were on the blanket as well.
Kyle told the boys about Megrez. Much of it reviewed what they'd already known but there were also some new facts. "We are entering Megrez's star system and he is going to talk to us all together."
"How do you know?" Jonas asked.
"He told me."
The four boys gave the penguin a glance, but they knew Kyle was telling the truth. All of them had had experiences with Megrez and the stars. They also noticed that the big screen was showing the image from Telescope Three, which was the slowly approaching disk of Megrez. The star was still a long way off, but the powerful digital lens on the telescope made it look much closer than it was.
Kyle positioned the boys so they would be close to how they had been situated on the Raphael, when they were battling to overcome the Rogue Star. Lars was sitting between his legs, Jason was leaning against Kyle's left side, with Jonas on Jason's left and Koji, who was the wild card, leaned against Kyle's right side. Kyle hoped that having Lars' naked body leaning on him wouldn't present a physical problem for him, especially since the sense of emergency that was present on the Raphael did not exist in his quarters. Fortunately, the situation was serious enough that the boy Kyle felt would in three years or so be beyond sexy did not affect libido.
They followed Kyle's instructions, the four boys were holding stuffed animals. Jason was holding Ulhar, Jonas held Kyle Bear, Lars was holding Megrez, and Koji had Chidrag. They all looked at the disk on the big screen.
While this wasn't a meditation session, someone entering the room could easily mistake it for one. The five boys sat quietly for a couple of minutes until Lars' squeaky young voice said in as serious a tone as it could muster, "Megrez welcomes you to his home." Lars swore that Megrez the penguin suddenly felt warmer in his hand.
"Megrez is happy," Jason said. "Very happy."
"Megrez says to close our eyes," Lars added. The awestruck boys immediately did so.
Kyle saw the image of a starship heading toward a star he knew had to be Megrez. The ship was moving quickly into what looked like a cloud in space moving toward the star, but not as fast as the ship was moving. He wondered if the others were seeing the same image as he was. It looked much more real than a dream, so it had to be something Megrez was showing them for some reason.
The ship started to move through the stellar cloud when Kyle's mind was filled by a bright light. He could hear the younger boys squeal at the image. Kyle could make out flames engulfing the ship before they died quickly as the oxygen was either consumed by the flames or was dispersed into the vacuum of space.
"Open your eyes," came the voice of Megrez. The last image Kyle saw before opening his eyes was the burned-out hulk of the starship.
"What... what... what happened?" "What did I see?" "Something exploded!" "I'm scared!" came the crescendo of voices as Kyle looked at the four frightened boys sitting against him.
"Shh, quiet down," Kyle said soothingly. "Everything is okay." He stroked Jason's bare shoulder as he felt his little body tremble against his.
"You frightened us," Kyle said to the empty room. He rarely spoke out to a star; they always talked to him.
"I did not mean to frighten, but to teach. My apologies to you and to your young charges for not being more careful. I wanted to speak to you only, but the boys would still hear me. That will not happen again."
Kyle believed Megrez. The stars had never lied to him. "What happened? Did you do that?"
"You have read about me. You know I have no family of planets."
"I read that. You have disks that move into you and get destroyed when they hit you."
"One day I will have a family. Your solar system was once wild, much like my star system, but now Sol has a family around him." Kyle wondered if the system could be called a Megrez System. "The ship you saw was a Draconian visitor many, many hundreds of your years ago, long before they went to your planet. It came here to explore. There was nobody who could hear me, to warn them and they went into the cloud and hit discs and were destroyed. They could not see what was in the cloud."
Kyle incorrectly surmised that the Sooloo could see into a cloud like that. He was willing to bet the Sooloo would never hit one of the discs. He would have been wrong.
The quartet was getting restless. Now that the situation was no longer frightening it felt more like school. "You must all listen and help as your Sooloo comes into my realm. You are all needed." The words of the star settled down the boys. This was not school; they were going to be needed. For the trio the situation was now more like what they did on the Rafael.
"We wanted to explore," Kyle said. "But there's nothing here to explore... is there?"
"Explore you can do. There is nothing here to find but there is much here to learn. You, your young charges, your crew have much to learn."
"I will tell Dave what I saw."
"There will soon be danger before you. I will help you through it and show you what to discover. You are now near my realm where I am my strongest. You will no longer need to touch. You may wear your clothes. Lars and Jason and Koji, if you have animals, I can speak to you, but Kairu must hold his Megrez for you all to be able to speak to me. Jonas must touch Jason for Jason to hear because Jason is not able to communicate with me alone."
"What about me?" Lars asked.
"Your talisman, the necklace your dad gave you, will work. I will tell Kairu where your ship should go and soon you will discover secrets. I am now leaving and will return shortly. Remember, for you to be safe you must be ready to listen, and you must do exactly as I say."
Kyle looked at the screen and was certain he saw the light of Megrez flicker on the screen as if the star had waved to them.
Dave, Hal, Jace, Jordan, Kyle, Danny, Aiden, Connor, Tom, Randy Kohl and all their boys were waiting in the conference room. Ali Bakabazi walked in, "As you know, we tested all the boys to see where they will fit in for school. Koji is seven years old and should be in second-grade, but he tested very well and is at a fourth-grade level."
Kyle cooed, "I knew he was smart."
Ali continued, "Jason surprised me. Mind you, at his age, he should be in third, but he tested at a sixth-grade level in math, but everything else, he tested at a fourth-grade level. Jonas was fourth-grade across the board."
"And Lars?" Dave was getting anxious.
"Lars did very well, also. Naturally, he didn't on Earth History, but overall, I think he should train at a fourth-grade level as well."
Danny pondered, "So all the younger boys should train at a fourth-grade level, even though Koji is almost two years younger?"
"Well Draconians train their students at an advanced level. If this were a Draconian school, Koji would be in his fourth year, counting kindergarten as the first. I believe Koji could almost skip to fifth-grade, but think he would get more out of it if he's in the same grade as the older boys."
"That makes sense, and I agree," Danny stated.
Aiden questioned, "What about Juro and Tomo?"
"As you know, they are of fifth-grade level age-wise, but again, with the accelerated training of Draconian school, they both tested at ninth-grade level."
"Now, who is going to instruct them?" Kyle asked.
"The first four hours will be computers teaching a variety of courses. I will be teaching the younger boys in science and Randy has agreed to teach the older two. Kyle, I believe you volunteered for math."
"That's right," Kyle responded.
"I have you scheduled to help the younger boys. Jace will be teaching math with the older boys. The class will begin on Monday, the twentieth."
As everyone else filed out, Dave and Hal asked Danny Harper to stay. Once everyone else was out of the room and he sat back down, Danny was told that he had made a serious impression on the Draconians with his flying ability. "I had intended on informing you sooner, but with your 'issues' with flying I felt it would be better if you handled that first," Hal explained.
Dave and Hal sat with Danny in the conference room and Dave said that Meagear Endou had left a message for Danny. Dave starts playing the recorded message...
On the screen Endou was standing in front of two new fighters, one that had not yet been given a name, and there was a covering over the designation of the other. As is usual for pilots, in addition to their numerical designation, the pilots gave a name when referring to the craft. Endou walked over to the new fighter with the covering over its designation...
"This is my new ship, the new Fighter Nineteen. It's advanced even by our standards. I have chosen to honor you, Danny, by giving it the name, 'The Harper.' Also, this other fighter should be in your shuttle bay before you leave Darastix. I hope you never have need of its capabilities, but I am sure you will have no problem handling her if she's ever needed to defend the Sooloo and those you hold dear. It was an honor to serve with you, Meagear Harper."
Danny's mouth was open in shock; he had no idea what to say. Dave broke the silence, "Effective immediately, you are an Honorary Meagear or Commander with The Darastixian Military, which, by the way IS their highest rank. However, with Space Fleet, I am hereby promoting you to the rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade. Congratulations, Lieutenant Harper."
"Thank you, Sir," Danny was finally able to say. Dave ceremoniously added the silver bar to Danny's collar making the Ensign insignia a Lieutenant Junior Grade insignia. Danny couldn't help but grin from ear to ear. "Wait until I tell Kyle."
Before starting his watch, Kyle dropped the quartet of boys off with Dave in the Captain's quarters. The boys scurried back to Lars's room while Kyle told Dave what he had learned from the star Megrez.
"It is important that I have my Megrez with me for the entire time we're in the system," Kyle said. "I think Megrez wishes for us to discover a secret or two which will mean a course change or two. If I don't have my penguin, we could get lost in a cloud just like the mystery ship Megrez showed us."
"We will do whatever we need to do. I know you totally trust Megrez and as a result so do I," Dave said. "I have one more thing to tell you. While I know he would like to tell you first, there is so much happening right now, it may be awhile before he can. But, when you see your husband, you may want to congratulate him on his promotion."
"Sir? Really?" How?"
"There is a lot to it. Just know that as of now you are married to Lieutenant Junior Grade Daniel Harper."
"Wow, that is so completely and totally awesome," Kyle said with pride.
Dave nodded and got back to the business at hand. "I know that those four boys in Lars's room are important to us negotiating through this system. I will be coming to the bridge momentarily and will bring them with me." Dave would be taking over the conn from Hal in mid-watch as the Sooloo approached an area of gas clouds and hidden discs. Since he did not want all four boys together on the bridge without him being present, he would bring them with him.
Kyle then went to the bridge and started his watch, relieving John Luke from the Navigation post. He did some calculations at the Astrogation Table with Megrez penguin touching his elbow. He stated, "Commander, we are approaching our destination."
Hal smiled, "Very good, Commander; put Megrez on the screen. I'll let the Captain know."
As if it were what he was ordered, Kyle walked up with his stuffed penguin, Megrez, and attached the penguin onto the screen.
Several of the bridge staff laughed, and Hal shook his head at Kyle's impromptu humor, until he got a serious look on his face, pulled the stuffed penguin down and returned to the Astrogation table. Those nearby thought they heard him whisper to the penguin, "I'm sorry." Kyle set the penguin down momentarily in order to calculate their ship's bearing before Dave appeared. He didn't notice Alan Hole glaring at him from his post on the bridge.
Everyone was looking at the screen as they approached the star Megrez. Crewman Alan Hole was manning the Tactical Station, something he did not do often. When he did, it was usually during one of the shifts between 2000 and 0800, with 0000-0400 being the likeliest. Aiden didn't really care for Alan Hole, the guy was the opposite of personable, he was very unpleasant. When Head was his assistant, he tried getting Aiden to give Alan the best shifts. Head used to get upset when Aiden didn't follow his recommendations. Normally, when Alan Hole was on the bridge, the bridge had the fewest amount of people. A Hole commented to Kyle, "See, Megrez is just a star, how can it talk to you?"
"I believe stars are alive," Randy Kohl stated. "Who is to say they can't speak telepathically? We cannot hold alien life forms to our forms of speech. Remember, on the old Star Trek videos, there was a silicon life form instead of carbon-based. Aliens do NOT need to follow our knowledge of life forms. Besides... who are you to speak to an officer, ANY officer like that?"
Kyle felt good that another officer jumped to his defense. Then the crewman responded, "He got my friend demoted and then killed. How can you even DEFEND an officer like that?" Alan snarled, twisting Randy's words around.
"That is enough crewman Hole!" Hal barked.
"Richie was the best friend I ever had and this asshole with his fucking penguin treated him like shit and that killed him when he was just doing his job." Alan rose from his seat and before anybody could stop him, he snatched at Megrez from the Astrogation table, ready to tear it apart down to its stuffing.
But as his grip tightened his hand was struck by a strong burning sensation causing him to screech in pain and toss the penguin off the port bulkhead. He dove to the deck while Hal called security to the bridge and ordered the Sooloo to be brought to all stop – he didn't want to deal with a hazardous section of space while pandemonium was breaking out on the bridge.
Kyle stepped in front of Alan, but the crewman shrieked and sidestepped him. He had a clear path to the penguin on the floor and planned to stomp on it. Randy ran up behind Alan, ready to tackle him as Alan raised his left foot for what he hoped would be a fatal stomp.
Before his foot could come down, however, another pain shot through him. It felt like somebody was taking a bat to his ass. Instead of stomping on Megrez he stumbled away from it. He screamed in agony as a second "whack" hit his butt, dropping him to his knees.
At this point, Dave entered the bridge and saw his normally disciplined environment in chaos. He turned and ordered the boys to go to his ready room. Two members of the security team passed the boys as they raced to the bridge.
Before Dave could say anything, the final stellar blow was unleashed in a scene everyone who was on the bridge would remember and talk about forever. Alan Hole was down on his elbows and knees with his ass sticking up in the air when the third blow landed on both butt cheeks. Each of Alan's hands grabbed a butt cheek as he cried, "Make him stop! MAKE HIM STOP!" and dropped prone onto the deck panting madly. "It hurts, it hurts, it hurts," he whined. Hal had the foresight to call Dr. Tom, who followed security onto the bridge and knelt next to Alan.
"My ass," Alan moaned when he recognized Dr. Tom. "That piece of shit of an officer kicked me in the ass three times for no reason and it fucking hurts."
"Security, arrest Crewman Hole and lock him in the brig as soon as the doctor has cleared him," Dave ordered.
"Can you stand?" Tom asked.
Alan ignored him. "Why are you arresting me?" Alan protested. He pointed to Kyle who was standing on the other side of the Astrogation table holding Megrez tightly to his chest. "He's the one who kicked me in the ass just because I was touching his stupid penguin that burned my hand. How did it burn my hand? I didn't do anything wrong and that pecker head assaulted me, and it hurts."
"Can you stand?" Tom asked again. Alan tried to stand and slipped back. His ass was bruised and throbbing with pain. "Get a stretcher and move him out."
When order finally returned to the Sooloo's bridge, Dave asked the obvious question: "What the hell just happened?" After Hal told him the sequence of events, Dave shook his head and said. "It would appear that the crewman dug a rather large hole for himself, no pun intended." Dave knew that he was going to be devoting a lot of time dealing with counseling and disciplining Crewman Hole. "But what was happening to his butt?"
"Captain, I believe Megrez the Star did not appreciate Megrez the Penguin being abused," Kyle replied. "I think Alan received what could be called a stellar butt kicking."
"I will never cease being amazed by Megrez and his cohorts," Dave laughed. "Well, we may as well bring the boys back and get ourselves back on track. Hal, could you please fetch the little urchins."
"With pleasure," Hal replied.
Kyle received his first direct message from Megrez since the big chat with the boys in his quarters. Kyle considered Megrez's handling of Alan Hole to be an indirect, albeit powerful, message. "Sir, Megrez said to tell you that he apologizes for injuring your Crewman, but he did so to protect the Penguin and the Sooloo."
"Tell Megrez his actions were much appreciated."
"I think we are about to get some coordinates."
Before Kyle could say more, the boys entered the bridge, each one but Jonas carrying a stuffed animal. Jonas had his right hand firmly planted on his brother's left shoulder.
Lars spoke up as he had during the Rogue Star incident. "Course change to fifteen degrees starboard and twenty-three degrees vertical." He looked down at Ulhar as he spoke each word precisely to ensure the numbers would not be misunderstood. He was grateful that Jonas let him hold the stuffed animal.
"It looks like we're on our way to wherever it is we're going, which lately has been something I never seem to know. Let's follow the star and see what happens. Engage." Kyle set the course and engaged the drive.
They entered a large gas cloud filled with space debris that was being drawn into the star Megrez. The boys on the bridge had learned about the wild beginnings of their own solar system and the amount of loose debris whirling around and into the sun until eventually order came from chaos and planets were formed. Megrez's system had yet to reach any kind of order from what they could see.
While the Sooloo wasn't flying blind, Dave and Kyle agreed that it was likely Megrez had a better idea of what objects were moving about in the cloud, as well as where they were and their direction of travel, than even their most sophisticated instruments could determine.
"Twenty-four degrees port and seventy-seven degrees vertical," Lars called out. The vertical degrees were the number of degrees from the horizontal plane that the Sooloo was on at the moment. One-to-ninety meant moving up from the horizontal and two hundred seventy-to three hundred fifty-nine meant down.
Lars was obviously getting tired, but he clutched Ulhar tightly and tenaciously called out the coordinates as he received them from Megrez.
Kyle looked at the viewscreen. "Sir, we're out of the cloud," he announced moments after changing their course. "And there is a large object at ten o'clock."
"All stop," Dave announced. The object looked like the burned-out hull of a spacecraft. "I think we may have found the mystery ship Megrez showed you."
Now that they had found the relic, they had to decide what to do about it. Dave ordered the screen to magnify on the hulk. Seeing it close-in revealed nothing worth getting excited about. Dave pondered whether to take the risky action of an out of ship activity for what looked like little or no return, but there was always the chance of something interesting to discover among the debris.
Because the ship was Draconian, Dave was leaning toward exploring the wreck as a favor to their allies who had lost the ship centuries before. His mind was made up when Kyle looked at Dave. "Megrez said to discover," he said.
"Then I guess the decision is made. Hal, put together a boarding party to see what secrets that ancient hulk still holds."
Hal soon had a boarding party consisting of himself, Enzan Kage, Brad, Connor and Kyle. Hal felt Kyle might be the most important member because of his connection to Megrez. Danny would be their shuttle pilot, flying the Raphael.
Since they didn't know how they would enter the derelict, Hal decided they should put their spacesuits on before boarding the shuttle. Because the shuttle didn't have an airlock, Danny had to wear a spacesuit as well.
Jesse Gross had the shuttle bay doors open and the bay readied for launch by the time the boarding crew was on the Raphael and ready to leave the Sooloo. Danny eased the Raphael out of the shuttle bay and within ten minutes had brought the shuttle as close to the wreckage as he dared.
Hal launched three lines to the Draconian ship, getting two to catch onto the loose metal. He had Danny back away a notch to see how strong the connection was; the lines held. They would be used to guide them to the hulk. They would also connect themselves to the Raphael before making their way over to the derelict.
Danny and Kyle stayed on board; Danny because he was the pilot and Kyle because it was standard procedure to have a crewman remain to be available to provide aid, if needed. Kyle was the logical person on this mission since he could also hold on to Megrez the Penguin should Megrez the Star attempt to communicate.
For the next forty-five minutes, Hal and his crew of three moved around the ship but found that almost everything had either been blown out into space during the explosion or burned into unrecognizable pieces of melted metals and other materials. They moved about gingerly to avoid sharp corners and edges which could rip into a spacesuit.
Hal was about to call off the search since they obviously were not going to come across anything of importance when Enzan Kage, who was at the likely front of the ship, radioed his crewmates that he had found something. Brad and Connor started to move but stopped when Hal held up his hand and radioed them to stop.
"I'll take a look and see if it might be something worth spending some time on," he told them. Enzan had opened what looked like an undamaged box jammed into what was remaining of a bulkhead. What he saw inside amazed him and he shouted his find instantly.
What Hal saw when he came over amazed him as well. It was a Draconian relic of some sort that was undamaged except for some heat smudges. Whatever material the box was made of was obviously very fire resistant.
Hal wiped the black smudge away with a large towel he had clipped to his suit just for this purpose. He then used his comm to send pictures of the relic to the Sooloo. Dave asked Koji if he could read the runes that were visible.
The boy studied them and said. "They are very old. Koji learned to read some in class last year and I can read some. Tomo knows how to read them very good."
Dave called Tomo to the bridge. He had been in his room with Juro. They were watching the images and communications from EVA at the wrecked spaceship with rapt attention. When the image of the runes came up Tomo tried to read them, but his screen wasn't big enough to get a clear image. He was about ready to zoom in on the runes when he received the call to report to the bridge immediately.
"That must be about the runes," Tomo told Juro. "They want to see if I can read them. You are good at ancient things, too, so come with me, Juro." The two boys raced through the corridors to the bridge.
"I'm glad to see you in uniform, but did you take time to change, or were you wearing them while off duty?"
"We were wearing ummm..." Tomo started to blush.
Juro was blushing too, but he wanted to help his friend, "We only had on our fundoshi (" The fundoshi is the traditional style of underwear worn by Draconian or Japanese males, made from a length of cotton. It is formed when the cloth is wound around the hips so that there is an excess of apron, <img style=\"float: right; margin: 10px;\" src=\"\/chapters\/Voyagers\/Fundoshi.png\" alt=\"How to Tie a Fundoshi\" width=\"50%\" \/>which is brought back again between the legs and twisted around the belt-cloth in back. The fundoshi is often twisted to create a thong effect at the back. It was also the standard male bathing suit. ") and didn't think you would want us reporting almost naked. And since you called us, we figured we should be in uniform."
"That was a good and intelligent answer. Can you read these runes?"
"Yes, I can read that," Tomo said when Dave showed him the image of the runes. Tomo was pleased he had guessed the purpose of Dave's summons and reveled in the nod and the smile he received from Juro.
Tomo stared at the picture on the viewscreen and read, "A gift for the, um... something... star. With... um, something... from... your friends on Darastix and then there is a something like a name, but the runes are hard to read."
Dave had Kyle zoom the camera on the last set of runes.
"Hal, can you move that relic to the Raphael?" Dave asked as Tomo studied the enhanced image.
"That's why I have three lines between us and the shuttle," Hal replied. "We can secure it outside of the Raphael and carry it over."
"Great. Take care of it."
Dave saw Tomo and Juro whispering between them. "Captain Bowman, sir," Tomo said, "Juro and I agree about the name.
"Great. What is it?"
"It is the name of the great ancient King, Kairu."
"Daddy Kyle is Daddy Kairu, too," Koji beamed.
"That confirms we have discovered something very important, just like Megrez said we might." He called the three boys up to his command chair.
"Thank you for your help Koji. Suggesting Tomo was an excellent idea." He then nodded to the two older boys. "Tomo and Juro, once again your service has been invaluable. Thank you so very much, boys. The three of you have helped us make an important discovery that may be of benefit to Draconia and perhaps to Megrez, as well. It will be interesting to learn the story behind the ship and its long-lost cargo."
Dave suggested that Juro and Tomo head to the Shuttle Bay and await the return of the Away Team with the artifact. Then he turned back to John Luke who was at Astrogation. "Keep us synchronized with that ship, Bible; I don't want us drifting anywhere we shouldn't be." Dave closed his eyes and his thoughts drifted... in his mind's eye he saw a regal figure, dressed in a ceremonial Darastixian kimono. He seemed to be showing Dave the artifact and a hidden trigger...