Admiral Greg Robinson got married on Valentine's Day. After attending the wedding, Scott and Łuke spent some quality time with just them. Kyle had some guests for the weekend.
Kyle took time to explain to his father about how Al Bear became Kyle Bear. The twins brought the bear to reintroduce him to Greg.
Kyle had a proposal, which he wanted to share with the command staff…, but before we continue that proposal…
Ronald Gordon lay in bed with his stepbrother. The two boys were naked, sweaty, and well satisfied. "Thanks, bro, you were good," Ronnie told Kyle.
"You were pretty good, too. That big thing of yours knows where to tickle me," Kyle grinned.
"You're really tight. And you topped like a senior officer should, even though your hubby says you like the bottom."
"I'm not very big and I don't have pubes," Kyle protested.
"Pubes don't matter with what we've done. And you know what to do with what you've got… you made sure we both enjoyed ourselves. I hope we meet up again in a couple of years—I think you'll totally blow my mind."
The two exchanged a brief but heartfelt kiss and snuggled.
"What do you think Danny and Koji are doing?" Ronnie asked.
"Probably sleeping. I know what they didn't do, and that was mess around. Danny and I have very strict rules about that and it's one of the rules Koji knows we will never back down on. I mean, he's caught us in the act a couple of times, but that's different. We know he wants to stay and watch, but he knows he'd better turn around and leave. We've had talks about what to do in different kinds of situations."
"Damn, for a couple of horny little dudes, you guys are good dads. Koji is lucky to have you."
"We're lucky to have Koji, too," Kyle said as he wrapped himself tighter around his stepbrother's athletic body.
"Now that we've had the fun and are having what I guess some people call pillow talk, I need to talk to you about something serious."
Kyle felt his heartbeat rise as he wondered what the serious topic could be. One thing Kyle had learned on his first tour on the Sooloo is that he would rather go head-to-head with a rogue star than deal with personal issues. "I'm listening," he whispered.
"Well, it has to do with Danny and Koji changing their last names. This afternoon I talked with Danny and later with Mom about it. Both said I should talk to you. That's why I wanted to sleep with you tonight, but, well—"
"—we both got horny."
"Exactly. I think us being horny was meant to be. I feel closer to you than I have to anybody in my life outside my parents. And yeah, I still feel close to my dad even though he's been gone since I was seven." Ronnie's father, who had been first officer on a space transport, died when fighting a fire on board the Galaxy Traveler, caused by failure of new software. He was credited with saving a half-dozen lives, including three children, before the fire consumed him. Vincent Gordon had died a hero, and that was how Ronnie had always seen him.
The name change that Ronnie was referring to was Danny changing his last name from Harper to Robinson. Danny had been deeply hurt by his father's rejection of Kyle as his husband and not accepting Koji as his grandson. While Danny's father was in no sense abusive, he distanced himself from Danny, especially after learning he could not annul the wedding.
While Danny's mother was supportive of her son, she also felt she had to stand by her husband. She begged them both to come to their senses, pointing out how Kyle and Danny had mended their fences with Kyle's father, something nobody thought would ever happen. When Danny told her of his plan to change his name, she told him that while she didn't like the idea, she understood why he was doing it and would support him as much as she could.
Koji's name would be changed from Robinson-Harper to Robinson to coincide with Danny's change. Danny's name change had to be approved by a Space Fleet judge, but Greg's attorney said that would be a formality. Since Danny and Kyle were married according to Space Fleet regulations, Danny's name change should have no problem being approved. Koji's change was simply a matter of filling out the proper paperwork.
Kyle wasn't sure what Ronnie's purpose for this conversation was. "Do you have a problem with what Danny is doing?" he asked.
"None," Ronnie replied. "But it got me to thinking. My father's last name is Robinson, my mother's last name is Robinson, my brother's last name is Robinson, my brother Danny's last name is about to become Robinson, and so is my nephew's. So, what I was thinking is—"
Now Kyle knew exactly where Ronnie was going. "—you were thinking your last name should be Robinson, too," he grinned.
"Exactly. Mom said I needed to talk to The Admiral, as she likes to call our dad, about that. She said he would approve of what I wanted, totally and absolutely. So, I had a third talk today and that was with The Admiral, about him adopting me before I returned to the Victorious."
"What did he say?" Kyle hoped that his dad's answer had been "YES!"
"He didn't even fucking let me finish." Kyle's heart dropped instantly. "He was on the phone talking to the lawyer about applying for adoption. He already has the paperwork."
Kyle rolled the bigger boy on his back and flopped on top of him. "Ronnie, that is the BEST news in the entire fucking world. You're going to be my real brother and I can't wait. Is Dad awesome, or what?" Kyle planted a long deep kiss on his brother's lips.
"Yes, he is totally awesome," Ronnie gasped when Kyle finally let him up for air. "Because you will be leaving soon and I will be leaving not long after, The Admiral had his lawyer arrange a quick adoption hearing. It will be this Tuesday; the same day Danny and Koji should get their name changes. I will be meeting with the judge tomorrow."
"I am so excited about this, I can't stand it."
"You're not close to being as excited as I am."
"The two Robinson brothers aren't the same color, which can only make us even closer brothers."
"You are so right," Ronnie agreed. "So totally right."
Kyle was very aware of his now erect penis rubbing on Ronnie's boner. "Do you have one more left in you?"
"I'm fourteen," Ronnie chuckled. "What do you think? Can big brother be the top?"
Kyle rolled off Ronnie and flopped on his back. "This is your party," he grinned as his big brother got into position.
The Admiral and his family sat in the Space Fleet courtroom waiting for their case to be called. They were the next one on the docket. Greg thought about the whirlwind of the last few days as he waited patiently for Judge Jack Sherman to decide the case currently being heard.
Ronald's hearing went well. Judge Sherman had interviewed Greg, Alicia, Kyle and Ronald individually. He also conducted group interviews first with Greg and Alicia, then Kyle, Danny and Koji, followed by Kyle and Ronald. Judge Sherman notified the family the next day that he would officially approve of Ronald's adoption in court on Tuesday.
The excitement was palpable as the bailiff announced the next case. The judge then called up Danny and ruled in favor of his name change to Danny Robinson. Dave Bowman had been his onboard guardian, but since Danny was declared emancipated by Space Fleet, he would no longer need a guardian.
The next ruling was the approval of Koji's name change to Koji Robinson. Kyle accompanied Koji to the bench. Even though Kyle had explained to Koji that the judge was simply rubber-stamping the already approved name change to make it official, Koji whooped, danced, and yelled out, "I am a Robinson!"
Judge Sherman slammed his gavel on the bench, causing Koji to jump in fear. But the grin on the judge's face said it all. "Young Master Robinson, I suggest you go quietly to your place and comport yourself in a way that will make all of the Robinsons proud of you."
"Yes, your honor," Koji had been coached as to how to address the judge. "And thank you for making me a Robinson, your honor."
While the judge's approvals of Danny and Koji's name changes were simply the simple rubber-stamping of a bureaucratic decision, making them official, Ronnie's adoption was a judicial decision.
"Ronald Gordon and Admiral Gregory Robinson please approach the bench," Judge Sherman ordered; Ronnie did as he was ordered. The judge stepped down and handed a certificate to Ronald. "Ronald Gordon Robinson, it is my privilege to hand you this Certificate of Adoption. You are now part of a proud family. Whenever you return to Earth from your explorations in space, you know you have a loving father and mother awaiting your return." He looked toward Kyle, Danny, and Koji and grinned. "And who knows who else might be there at that time."
The courtroom burst into applause. Twelve of Ronnie's crewmates were in the gallery for the hearing, as well as Dylan Bowmont, Ronnie's captain. Hal, who was also in attendance, had brought Jason, Jonas, Lars and Oliver with him to support Koji. Steve Boyer, Brad and Randy Jenkins also attended the hearing.
Judge Sherman banged his gavel and looked out over Ronnie's family and friends. As soon as the audience quieted, he continued addressing the gallery. "With Commander Ronald Robinson's permission, I would like to relate something he told me in our interview. When I asked him why, even though he was a legal member of the family, he wanted to be adopted by his stepfather, his reply told me all I needed to know about him.
"He said, 'My father died in space a hero. I am proud to be his son and to be Ronald Gordon. Now I am part of a family that is all about space. My mother is an expert on alien cultures. My stepfather is a Space Fleet admiral and served in space. My brothers are in the Space Explorer Program and serve on a spaceship, and my nephew was born on an alien planet. I want to be completely part of that space family, which means being a Robinson. I am keeping my father's name as my middle name to make sure he is always with me." Judge Sherman looked directly at Ronnie. "Ronald Gordon Robinson, it was a privilege to know you and to meet your new family. They, and your birth father, can all be proud of the young man you've become."
After Judge Sherman dismissed them, the entire group went out for what had been a young person's favorite food for over 100 years—pizza.
"Hey, have you guys ever heard of the ancient book called The Swiss Family Robinson?" Steve asked the Robinsons, as they were all scarfing pizza.
The three Robinsons shook their head. "What's it about?" Kyle asked.
"It's about this family that becomes shipwrecked in the South Seas. They have to survive on their own and end up living in a treehouse. It's a mom, a dad and three boys."
"Okay, other than to confirm that you know everything, why did you bring this up?" Brad asked.
"I love you, Brad, but sometimes you can be terribly dense. Look who we're sitting with—we have at this party a mom, a dad, and three boys who are—"
"—oh, yeah," Brad grinned. "Congratulations to the Space Family Robinson!" That brought a round of cheers and applause from the partiers at the Grand Pizza Parlour.
That night Ronnie, Kyle and Danny shared Kyle and Danny's king-size bed. It was agreed that no matter what the paperwork said, Danny and Ronnie were in the Space Family Robinson, and were therefore brothers. They agreed that as brothers they needed to bond that night, and they agreed how it would be accomplished. It was left to Ronnie to decide who would do what with whom.
Ronnie bottomed for Danny, the wild stud. Kyle bottomed for Ronnie, who loved getting into his little brother's insides. And they finished with Danny doing to Kyle what he had done so often.
"We'll let you watch the next time we switch," Kyle assured Ronnie after they had finished cleaning up. "And maybe some time, you can give Danny a sample of how you do it."
"With pleasure," Ronnie grinned.
"We might not have a bed in a treehouse," Kyle said. "but I can't think of anybody I'd rather be stranded with than my two brothers."
"Too bad we're not on the same ship," Danny mused.
"Even though we're not, I can tell you this," Ronnie said forcefully, "no matter where we are, no matter how far apart we are, and no matter what happens to us, the brothers of the Space Family Robinson will always be together."
Kyle entered the assigned conference room fifteen minutes ahead of the scheduled time and took a seat. The room was empty except for the cart of snacks and drinks he had arranged for the meeting.
At 1420, Jordan, Hal and Dave entered. They took seats, after taking a drink from the cart and Dave, as senior officer present said, "Okay, Commander. Thanks for arranging for the snacks; to what do we owe the pleasure of this meeting?"
Kyle swallowed back the slight reticence he'd felt and stated calmly and confidently, "Sirs, as you may know, I have been working with a young man, helping him to get into the Academy and ultimately, the Explorer Program."
Hal inquired, "Corey Adams?"
"Yes, Sir. Commander Hanson took on the task of preparing Corey for the changes he'd need to make in his life to make his desires come to pass. I didn't really have full confidence that he'd be able to pull it off, but in the past few weeks, I have been watching him. Had I not known him before, I wouldn't recognize the changes in him. He has completely turned things around. He's been working harder than I could ever imagine. Turning in projects ahead of schedule, doing extra work without being told to do so, being a model of what a Space Fleet Cadet would be.
"Corey had been, much like I was, a bully. In the weeks since, he's actually approached the individuals he'd been bullying and apologized to them. In addition, he witnessed one of his former bully friends antagonizing another student and not only did he step in to stop it, he instructed the bully that he should go to the others and let them know that bullying of any kind would not be tolerated. He would make sure of that."
"This is all well and good, Commander," Jordan interjected, "but what does that have to do with the Sooloo and her shakedown cruise?"
"Sirs, what I am about to propose is far on the fringes of what might be considered standard operating procedure."
This statement piqued Dave's curiosity, "Go ahead, Commander."
"Sirs, I would like to arrange for a temporary assignment as a Cadet to Corey and invite him to accompany us on our shakedown cruise. I would suggest that he spend his time observing each and every department on the ship during the cruise and, upon our return, write a report to the command staff of the Sooloo, Commander Hanson, and the Admiralty of his experience. I feel that this would solidify Corey's desire to become a Cadet in reality. In addition, I believe it would let him know that we've been watching, and he's earned a reward for his efforts so far. I think it would cement his desire to follow the plan outlined by Commander Hanson and redouble his efforts to get into the Academy in the Fall."
"Commander," Hal opened, "please step into the hallway for a moment so we can discuss this further."
Kyle grabbed a bottle of juice from the cart and exited the conference room. He sat there for nearly an hour, his nerves starting to have an effect on him, when he was called back into the conference room.
Obviously, through the door on the opposite hallway, Commander Hanson, Admiral Mirah and Admiral Robinson had entered the conference room. When Kyle entered, he was astounded to see the new faces.
"Commander," Admiral Mirah stated, "please take a seat."
With far less confidence, Kyle sat, his attention on the other officers in the room.
Commander Hanson opened the comments, "I was both surprised and in the same measure not surprised by your proposal. I, too, have been watching Corey and his actions, and I concur that your proposal may accomplish what you intended."
Kyle spoke up, "I suspect there is a 'but' coming."
Everyone in the room chuckled at this, but it was Admiral Mirah who continued. "It has never been done where someone who hasn't even been accepted into the Academy be given, if even temporarily, the rank of Cadet. However, I have the power to make something like that happen. My question is, who on the Sooloo would have the time to escort him around the ship to each of these departments?"
"Admiral, I've given this some thought, and we commissioned Jinzo as an Ensign on the Sooloo; he is assigned to the Operations Department, knows each and every duty station on the ship and would be the best possible guide for Corey."
Mirah turned to the other officers to gauge their reactions then turned to Hal. "Captain Tietokone, the decision to allow this will ultimately be yours. Assuming you have the backing of those present, what would your decision be?"
Hal was quiet for a moment before stating, "Commander, make the invitation to Corey Adams, but make certain to get his parents' WRITTEN authorization before asking Corey."
Kyle was all smiles, "Yes, Sir. I am going to enjoy this task. Thank you all."
Greg Robinson and Bill Mirah were relaxing in Bill's office, taking the rare opportunity to just sit and talk as friends over a glass of 100-year-old brandy.
Their discussion was light in nature for the most part, but Greg had something on his mind. Knowing his friend as he did, Bill looked over at Greg and said, "A penny for your thoughts."
Greg laughed and made some reference to archaic sayings and the vernacular of using items of currency no longer in use. Bill's reaction was mirthful, replying, "Old dogs...new tricks."
Greg then, looking nowhere in particular, said, "I was very proud of the work Kyle put into that presentation. He covered all the bases... I only regret that I was there to hear it… since it's Kyle, and it is in regard to Corey Adams... Kyle, because he's my son, and Corey, because he's someone I've taken under my wing as his mentor. I don't want it said that I levied any undue influence to make it happen."
Bill smiled, "I was hoping that was what you were thinking." He handed Greg a PADD with a statement on it. Greg read the statement and smiled.
Greg started reading:
I, Admiral Gregory Robinson, hereby recuse myself from any decisions, now and in the future, in regard to Commander Kyle Robinson, and soon-to-be Cadet Corey Adams. I will, in an advisory capacity only, offer my opinions to Admiral William Mirah, Fleet Admiral of Space Fleet, and Commander Hanson of the Space Fleet Academy, Mentor of Corey Adams.
"It seems we are on the same page."
Greg placed his thumbprint on the PADD, signing the statement and hit the 'release' button to send it to the appropriate departments to have it made official.
This was the last session before the class graduated; Danny walked up to Juju, "Are you ready for your dogfight, Ensign Danvers?"
"Aye, Sir," Juju smiled.
Danny smiled, "I hope you didn't have your heart set on dogfighting any of your classmates."
"While most of the pilots have fought a classmate, I don't know if I could. I like these guys," Juju explained.
Danny smiled bigger, "Well, I have arranged for you to go against a different pilot, one who thinks he can beat you. Juju, I believe in you or I wouldn't have arranged this."
"Oh, I know it can't be, but PLEASE tell me that I get to dogfight loud mouth."
Danny started laughing, "If you mean Ensign Robbins? Yeah, that is exactly who you will be dogfighting. Commander Jenkins gave him an ultimatum. If he dogfights you and wins, he will be in the next training class. If he loses, he has to strip to his boxers, get down on his knees and apologize to you."
"He accepted that deal?" Juju was surprised.
Danny had a twinkle in his eye, "He doesn't think he will lose. I can't wait to see him apologizing."
Juju was smiling as he entered his simulator. He strapped in and Danny spoke to both pilots about the terms of engagement and the rules. Both fighters were identical, but Juju's fighter took off from a simulated Explorer Class vessel while Robbins started already in space. Robbins thought that gave him an advantage. He headed toward the Explorer Class vessel, ready to pick off the twerp before he knew what happened.
Juju moved away from the vessel, giving a wide berth while he looked for the other fighter. They were too far from each other to show up on each other's sensor screen. Juju thought about extending his sensor’s range but learned in class that makes smaller vessels harder to detect. He kept watching and looking. Finally, a fighter did appear at the edge of his screen. He moved closer, watching the heading of the fighter. Apparently, the other fighter had not detected him.
Juju maneuvered behind the other fighter. As soon as he had a lock, the other fighter realized where he was and moved out of the way, trying to shake Juju's fighter, but the boy stayed behind him. Robbins took his fighter to max speed. Juju let him push his engines hard and gain a little distance. Juju fired a torpedo and it exploded just in front of the other fighter.
Marcus Robbins was shitting himself after the explosion almost took him out. He had to pull a hard right. As he did, the fighter behind him took a hard right as well. There was another lock on his fighter, but this time he couldn't shake it. He tried pulling up into a loop to get behind the other fighter. The fighter pulled up, barrel-rolled right and was heading directly for him. Juju had just fired another torpedo when Ensign Marcus Robbins exited the simulator. He yelled at Danny, "That was bullshit and you know it. Put you or that twerp in a real fighter, and I will get in another one, and we'll see who really comes out on top."
Danny remained calm, "You owe Ensign Danvers an apology. He is ten times the fighter pilot you will ever be."
"No, I don't owe him a damn thing. He never beat me…"
Danny interrupted, "Because you left the simulator before his torpedo destroyed you. You've been disrespectful to me; you've been disrespectful to this class, and you owe an apology to Ensign Danvers. You will apologize or resign. If you opt to do neither, I will file charges against you."
"I'll tell you what," Robbins glared at Danny, "You get in your fighter, I will get in one of the new fighters. If you win, I will strip naked and apologize, but if I win, you have to resign from Space Fleet."
"That is NOT an option," Danny scowled.
As per usual, Kyle arrived at the home of Bob and Ellie Adams ten minutes ahead of the scheduled 1000 time. He had chosen this time so that he could talk to Corey's parents while Corey would be in school.
After being invited in, the trio took a seat at the kitchen table. Kyle was offered a glass of orange juice, which he accepted. After taking a drink he started, "I wanted to talk to both of you while Corey wasn't going to be here. That way you can make the decision I'm going to ask you to make without any undue pressure from him."
Bob Adams knew there was something afoot but calmly said, "We appreciate that, Kyle. What's on your mind?"
Kyle spent the next fifteen minutes going over his proposal. When he was finished, he did the only thing he could do, he shut up, allowing Corey's parents a chance to discuss it.
Bob immediately said, "I think this would be a fantastic opportunity for Corey, Ellie."
"I agree, but... are you sure it's the right thing to do? He's only twelve."
"Babe, he's wanted to go into space for as long as I can remember. If he gets his way and applies himself, he can do what I wasn't able to... be an officer. I think this exposure would be a fantastic push for him to accomplish what he set out to do. As far as his being safe, he'll be on a starship run by Space Fleet. Kyle will be on the ship as well as some other officers I have come to respect."
After some questions and answers for Kyle, the parents agreed to Kyle's proposal. Kyle had them sign (electronically, of course) the documents needed and took his leave to go find Corey and give him the news.
Kyle sat in the seat across from Commander Hanson, barely able to contain his excitement. The door was closed, and Commander Hanson had issued an immediate summons for Corey Adams to report to his office on the double.
At first, Commander Hanson wasn't in favor of Kyle's suggestion to summon Corey in this manner, but he could see the humor in it as well as the enhancement of the feelings Corey would have at the end of the meeting, so he went along with it.
Barely three minutes later, there were knocks on Commander Hanson's door. "Enter."
Corey opened the door and it was obvious he'd run the entire way to the Commander's office. He stepped inside and before noticing Kyle sitting there, he asked, "Did I do something wrong, Sir?"
It was obvious from Corey's demeanor that he was scared. It was then that he noticed Kyle sitting there with a Cheshire Cat grin.
"Take a seat, Corey. Commander Robinson has something to discuss with you."
Corey sat down and Kyle couldn't wait..., "Corey, how would you like to go into space with the Sooloo?"
Kyle got the reaction he expected, "Sir, I don't think it's fair that you say something like that. I haven't even been accepted into the Academy yet. You know I would give my left nut to go into space, I might even give them both to go into space on the Sooloo."
Kyle laughed, "No, you don't need to give up your nuts... I think you'll have use of them in the future, but I was being serious. The Sooloo will be leaving on the first of March for a three-day shakedown cruise. I have presented a proposal to Space Fleet and they have accepted it. I have already discussed it with your parents, and I am here now to ask if you want to go with us for the shakedown."
Expressions passed over Corey's face... surprise, fear, tears and elation... all within a moment. Corey then leapt from his chair and wrapped his arms around Kyle giving him a very passionate kiss.
"Ahem," Commander Hanson interjected, causing Corey to break away from Kyle, stand up, fix his clothing, look directly at Commander Hanson and say, "I'm sorry, Sir, but that news was just so big I lost control for a moment."
Hanson smiled and said, "Nothing to worry about, but in the future, you will have the training to restrain your emotions better. You have yet to receive that training, so your reaction was quite expected. I assume that from that reaction, your answer to Kyle is 'Yes'?"
"Sirs, I am deeply honored by this opportunity. If Kyle has gone through the trouble of getting this approved, I would be ungrateful if I declined. I am very excited at the prospect."
"Very well, Commander Robinson, make the necessary arrangements. Cadet Adams, remain here, I have some things to go over with you."
Kyle stood, "Thanks Commander, congratulations, Corey, you've earned it." Kyle then kissed Corey on the cheek and exited the office, closing the door behind him.
After the SS Sooloo had completed her refit, Fleet Admiral Mirah gave Commodore Bowman, Captain Tietokone and Commander Rivers a tour, beginning with the Bridge. "You will notice, not much has changed here, but we did extend the Astrogation Table. The Astrogator will still do the navigation part, but we have included a helm. I'm not sure why we didn't do that in the first place."
Dave spoke up, "Probably because with the limited crew we had, it would cut some of the 'off watch' time down too much."
"You are probably right," Mirah concurred. "The helm will be officers or crewmen from Astrogation, Operations or Engineering. I doubt you will need to, but 'worst-case' scenario, even Information Systems personnel can be used."
"I bet Kyle will love having his duty on the Bridge cut in half," Jordan commented.
"And it'll be his choice if he wants to navigate or "drive" when he is on the Bridge. It would give him a good chance to train others in Astrogation."
From the Bridge, they went to the Officers' Quarters, "Those who are single and do not have children had to give up some of their space. Not counting Dr. Abernathy, whose quarters are by the Medical Bay and therefore not affected, none of the Senior Officers will be affected, and only two Assistant Chiefs will have slightly smaller quarters to help with having dedicated school rooms, a lounge for the school-age boys, plus quarters for the additional Junior Officers."
"And if I am not mistaken, Dr. Abernathy won't be single long," Jordan added.
"Oh? Is he dating someone?" Mirah inquired.
"Yes, Christian Abernathy."
"Ronald's brother?" This surprised Mirah even more, "I thought those three were related."
Hal confirmed, "Same last name, but no relation; however, Christian is the Assistant Chief Medical Officer."
"As long as the relationship doesn't affect their work, I have no problem with it. If I did, I couldn't have let Dave and you, or Jordan and Jace serve on the same ship. I specifically left any regulations concerning relationships out. I mean, you were planned to be aboard for thirty years, relationships were bound to happen."
Danny sat on the stage of Space Fleet Headquarters' auditorium. He looked over the sea of boys clad in their dress blues sitting in the front rows and took in the murmuring of the crowd. Seated behind them were families, friends, crewmates, Space Fleet officers and non-coms and a few general curiosity seekers who had the time and the clearance to gain admission to the auditorium.
Those are my boys, my pilots, Danny mused. After I pin their wings on them, they will be graduates of my first command, the fighter training class. Danny thought of how most of the students seemed to like him, some didn't much care, two or three probably hated him, and some thought he could be a little brat. They aren't alone, he chuckled to himself, my husband sometimes thinks the same thing. But through it all, he knew they all respected him and his assistants, and every one of them worked his ass off.
Every boy but one who started training finished training, and the one boy who didn't finish had to drop out when he became seriously ill. There were plans to finish his one-on-one once he was well enough to proceed. Danny was proud of what had been accomplished.
Three Admirals sat on the stage with Danny: William Mirah, Gregory Robinson and Loren Dubois, who oversaw the retrofitting. As soon as Admiral Mirah stood and strode to the podium, the crowd quieted.
Admiral Mirah welcomed the graduates and the guests. He summarized what the fighter program entailed, why it was started and what the young pilots had to master in order to earn their wings.
"Congratulations to our graduating pilots," the Admiral said. "You make us all proud. You are all a credit to Space Fleet and to the quality of young men who are serving in the program. Each and every one of you should be proud of what you've accomplished. As soon as you receive your wings, you will be qualified not only to fly the shuttles, but also the fighters on your ship.
"I would like to compliment Lieutenant Robinson on the accomplishment of him and his staff. They put together an amazing training program, making you the best pilots any of us could ask for." At that point, Mirah had to pause as the graduating pilots stood and gave Danny a loud standing ovation. Danny could feel goose bumps course throughout his body.
After everyone was seated and quiet, Admiral Mirah continued. "Lieutenant Robinson will read the list of graduates. The graduate will come on the stage and Admirals Robinson and DuBois will hand each graduate his certificate and pin their wings to their uniform. You will find me at the end of the gauntlet to shake your hand. I would like to let the parents know that this will not descend into chaos—Lieutenant Robinson and Ensign Danvers ran them though a rehearsal that was every bit as rigorous and efficient as their pilot training." After the laughter died down, Mirah called Danny to the podium.
While listening to Bill Mirah's talk, Danny's mind had gone to the first time he had addressed his trainees and how he was almost paralyzed by fright, worried that he really didn't belong where he was. Now, as he rose from his chair and stepped to the podium, he faced his soon-to-be graduates with the confidence of the leader he was. He was not only their trainer, but during their training he was also their commanding officer. He knew that to be a fact, as did his trainees.
The graduates were seated in the order in which they would be called—standard operating procedure for a graduation. The first name Danny called was Julian "Juju" Danvers. The thirteen-year-old stood up, but didn't move for the stage, knowing that Danny had some words to say first. "Juju came into the program as a crewman who was a shuttle pilot on the Sooloo. He became my right-hand man. He will be right next to me as my assistant on the Sooloo. Thank you for everything, Juju—I couldn't have done this without you." A round of applause followed Juju onto the stage.
Each graduate was called by name, and if known at the time, the ship he was assigned to. The next pause for praise came when Danny called out, "Felix Gonzalez, Victorious. Because some ships arrived at different times, we set up training to make sure we covered everything with everybody. Felix zipped right though his training and helped me with the trainees who were behind because of when their ship arrived. Thanks, Felix, for all of the extra work. You were a gigantic help." While every graduate received applause, Felix's was a little louder and longer. The twelve-year-old Mexican boy was one of the few preteens in the fighter program. He had become very popular with his fellow trainees for his hard work, sweet personality and his willingness to put in extra time to help his fellow trainees.
Troy Miller, who was fourteen, of the Endurance received an extra comment as well. "As the class knows, Troy became one of my able assistants and will be the fighter commander for the Endurance. He was a great teacher and will make an excellent commander."
When the name the fighter commander of the Darastix came up, Danny paused for another comment. "Faita Bureibu knew more about the fighters and how they operated than anybody. He was always ready to share that knowledge with me and helped make sure the training session covered everything that needed to be covered. Faita Bureibu means Brave Fighter. He is that and a whole lot more. Thanks, Faitia, for always being there for me."
When the last wing was pinned and the last hand had been shaken, everyone moved to the great hall of the headquarters building where a buffet had been laid out. Danny shook hands with many of the graduates, dished out praise and received praise. Even one of the graduates Danny was sure hated him thanked Danny for helping make him a better officer.
"Great job, love," Kyle said as he and Danny got into one of the food lines. Kyle had hung in the background while Danny mingled. He was wearing his dress blues—the husbands looked very striking standing together in their blues.
"Thanks, Kyle." He leaned close to his husband and said, "I expect a special reward tonight," he whispered as he gave Kyle's ass a pat.
"Consider it done," Kyle grinned.
The boys filled their plates and found the table where Ronnie was sitting. "I think your fantastic work put you onto the command track." Ronnie said after his brothers were seated.
"Not me, I'm too flaky. That's Kyle's job; he's the one who wants to be a captain someday."
"Ronnie is the one who's going to be a captain," Kyle pointed out. "But Danny is right about one thing—I do want to work to be one, but who knows when and if it will happen."
"I'm happy being Danny," Danny said.
"Did Kyle agree to reward you tonight?" Ronnie asked.
"Of course," Danny grinned.
The conversation changed direction when Juju and Troy sat at the table to thank Danny for trusting them to be assistants. After desserts were finished, the hall started to empty out and soon the ceremony was over except for the cleanup.
That night Kyle and Danny did have a special night. Danny was on the receiving end the first and third times and Kyle on the second. The love the two boys felt for each other was stronger than ever.
With eight in their party, they were using a Darastixian Transport instead of a Space Fleet Shuttle. Besides, this was more of a Darastixian matter. As they were loading onto the transport, Kyle hugged Danny, "I'll see you when we return."
"I still wish that I could go," Danny pouted.
Zarek came over, "I was planning to fly the small craft, but if you would like to…"
"Seriously?" Danny was pleased and accepted the offer.
Once the transport was off the ground, Medici turned to Kyle and smiled, "Upon the death of my grandfather, King Kairu, my mother told me that I would see his resemblance in a great explorer. Kyle Robinson, I am happy to see you. It was shortly after my grandfather's death that Mother sacrificed her life for our people and my beloved brother took the throne. He was almost as amazing as Grandfather. He loved me and treated me with love…" Kyle noticed a tear run down Medici's face, and he almost seemed to glow as he spoke of his older brother.
"He loved you, and you truly loved him," Kyle spoke softly.
"Yes, and even though he was well loved, we both worried about some of our people being loyal to me. Ryoujin didn't know if there was a way to prevent that from ever happening," Medici explained, "then I suggested my family coming to Earth. Ryoujin cried that he didn't want me to leave, but he thought that might be the best solution. Everyone kept calling this MY sacrifice, but it was as much my brother's as well."
Jace whispered, "I can see that. Zarek told me that one of my ancestors came with you."
"Yes, he was worried that when Ryoujin passed, there could be the same issue. He too, loved his brother greatly and didn't want any conflicts."
"You mean my grandfather, King Shouryou and his brother, Kokuryuu?" Zarek asked. "We just built a ship and named it after Shouryou. We want to name the next two ships we build the RDS Kokuryuu and the RDS Medici."
"Are Darastixians going back to exploring?" Medici asked.
"Yes, Uncle Medici. Now that Earth has reached out to us, and the prophecy had come to pass, we feel that it is time for us to continue exploring."
Medici looked at Kyle and the boy trying to hide beside him, "Young Kyle, if you don't mind a nearly one-thousand-year-old man hugging you, I would like to, and your son, Koji."
Koji whispered, "How did he know my name?"
Kyle whispered back, "Look at his white beard, he's like Santa Claus." Then as Kyle got close to Medici, he spoke normally, "You don't look a day over one hundred." Kyle gave a cheeky grin, and Medici laughed as he wrapped his arms around Kyle.
When Medici hugged Koji, Jonas and Jason, who had been sitting quietly, asked, "Do we get hugs, too?"
After hugging the twins, Medici looked back and forth between Jace and Kyle. He smiled, "Would you prefer I answer your questions as I detect them in your thoughts, or would you like to ask them?"
There was an air of excitement and anticipation when all of the Senior Staff and Department Chiefs of the Sooloo met in the large conference room at Space Fleet Headquarters. Dave thought back to the first time he was in this room... it was the day Admiral Mirah told him of the Explorer Program.
The only noticeable absence from this esteemed group was the Assistant Chief of Operations, Steve Boyer. With twelve minutes left until the announced start time of the meeting, the door opened, and Steve entered, followed closely by his son, Shasho.
After pleasantries were passed, Kash asked the assembled group to sit. Steve and Shasho at one end of the table and Commodore Bowman at the other. The rest of the staff filling in the sides of the table. Shasho positioned himself next to the display board which would show the outline he and his father had prepared over the previous several days.
When the meeting commenced, Kash was still standing, introduced himself as the new Chief of Operation for those he hadn't met, yet. "Commodore Bowman asked me to have Steve and Shasho devise a plan for reembarking onto the Sooloo. Normally, that would have been my job, but Dave thought I should just observe so I understand my team better. Steve, if you would like to present the plan..."
Steve outlined the plan. Those in the room at that time (and their families) would be returning to the ship first, commencing four days after this meeting. They would then have 36 hours to make final preparations for the remainder of the crew to return.
Shasho had written detailed checklists of items that needed to be done prior to the crew's return and, after answering several questions, and answering them with an understanding which surprised just about everyone in the room, Shasho's plan was accepted by the group.
When the meeting ended, Dave walked out of the room and, as agreed, over to the offices of his friend, mentor and superior, Fleet Admiral William Mirah. "That boy is simply amazing, Bill."
"You are right, Zippy. Had I not been watching the meeting, I wouldn't have believed it. I wonder how much his father influenced his decisions."
"If I know Steve Boyer, I would say he probably guided his son, but let Shasho make the final assignments and decisions. Looking at this plan, I don't think anyone could have come up with one that is better. According to the plan, everyone will be on board 36 hours prior to the scheduled launch, except Corey Adams who will arrive 18 hours prior to launch."
Still in the conference room, Shasho finally took a seat and exhaled. "I guess they liked the plan, Opsola."
"Son, I can't express how proud of you I am. You came up with the plan like you've been doing them all your life. It was flawless. You anticipated questions and had answers ready."
Brad walked over to his partner and Shasho and wrapped the boy in a hug. Kissing the top of his head he reinforced Steve's praise. The three left the conference room, Shasho holding each of the father's hand as they went to their quarters to pack. The rest of the Senior Staff would be arriving on the Sooloo in four days, but the Boyer-Kanye clan would be arriving that evening. They had preparations to make before the rest of the Senior Staff arrived. The only crew members other than them on the ship would be the kitchen staff.
Randy Jenkins had overseen some enhancements or changes to the kitchen and had insisted that some of his staff be on the ship to train on the new equipment. Steve was happy for this because that meant they'd be eating well.
Sitting in the office he'd been using since his return to Earth, Logan Kristof set the PADD he'd been working with aside. The restaurant his parents had opened upon his return was doing well, his efforts to train the staff now complete.
He reflected for a bit about his time working with Space Fleet and on the Sooloo in particular. He'd requested and been approved to transfer from the Sooloo to the Darastix, giving him time to help his parents with their new restaurant; not that they really needed his help.
He grabbed a different PADD, one that outlined the enhancements and upgrades he'd recommended to Space Fleet for the Explorer ships, when they reported back to Earth for retrofit. Many of these enhancements came to him when he first toured the kitchen facilities on what is now named the SS Darastix. To change anything in that particular kitchen would actually be a downgrade.
His recommendations for the Explorer Fleet Kitchen Upgrades had been approved with ease, not that he expected much in the way of argument. His thoughts now turned to the young man who would replace him on the Sooloo, Randy Jenkins.
Logan had never seen a more natural cook; in many ways, Randy was better than he was. He had an understanding of flavor profile more honed than many Chefs twice his age. The Sooloo would be returning to space in a matter of days, so Logan decided he should stop by and wish Randy well, as well as see his upgrades in place on an Explorer vessel.
He picked up his comms and called Randy. "Hey Buddy, I thought I'd take a trip to the Sooloo and see how you've done with installing the upgrades. Are you going to have some time to take a shuttle up to the ship with me?"
Randy laughed. "Logan, I'm sorry, I don't think I can meet you at the shuttle when it leaves Earth. I've been on the Sooloo for a couple of days now, overseeing the upgrades and retrofit, but I would welcome you coming up."
Logan agreed he'd take a shuttle up to the ship that morning and the two could inspect the new kitchen facility.
Logan watched as the Sooloo got bigger in the view screen of the shuttle. The thing that surprised him was that there wasn't the usual chatter between the pilot and the shuttle bay. He asked about it and was told that there wasn't an actual shuttle bay crew. Just one guy who was manning the station so he could open and close the doors.
Logan shrugged his shoulders, knowing that had Dave or Hal known this, they'd have made some arrangements for a more suitable crew. When Logan disembarked the shuttle, he was even more surprised that the one guy they'd assigned to the shuttle bay was fast asleep in the chair at the console. Logan took a picture and forwarded it to Hal, the ship's new Captain. Without a word, Logan left the shuttle bay and went to the galley.
When he arrived, he was surprised that the person he saw wasn't Randy Jenkins, nor was it anyone Logan knew from the crew; as a matter of fact, the boy didn't look like anyone Logan knew who were in the employ of his family. He appraised the boy and, even though he looked young, Logan didn't think anything of it. After all, many of the crew of the Sooloo were young.
When the boy recognized that someone had entered... which was only a few seconds after Logan did, he turned to Logan and said, "You must be Chef Kristof. Chef Jenkins is in his office."
Logan was impressed with the boy's respectful tone and use of titles. He went to Randy's office. "Who is the new kid out in the galley?" Logan pointed out the door as he asked.
"I'm surprised you didn't notice the resemblance. That's Gordy, my little brother. He got a few days off school and convinced our parents to let him tag along with me while I finished up the retrofit."
Logan called out and introduced himself to Gordy.
For the rest of the day, Gordy and Randy showed Logan the upgrades. Logan was impressed both with the way Randy had implemented the installation of the new equipment, and even the changes Randy made to Logan's 'plan.'
During Logan's stay, the chatter between the brothers took on a more risqué bend. Logan could only smile as the banter got more and more sexual. Having spent the past few months on the Sooloo, it seemed nothing really surprised him anymore.
On the Shuttle back, Logan finally allowed his laughter to escape. When Gordon gets a little older, he's going to make someone a fantastic boyfriend.
"What the fuck is that?" Ronnie asked Kyle after stepping into his brother's room.
"That's my dick?" Kyle pointed to the hammer standing tall in his hairless crotch. He and Ronnie were both naked.
"I'm not asking about that; after all, I do have some experience with your little beauty."
"Then what the fuck is the fucking thing you're asking about?"
Ronnie pointed to the shelf above Kyle's dresser. "I'm asking about that weird looking stuffed animal up there. What little kid does he belong to?"
Kyle pointed to himself and said, "He belongs to this little kid."
Kyle sat on his bed and patted the spot to his right. Ronnie parked himself next to his new brother and put his arm around his shoulders. "Okay, bro, I know there's a story here, and I want to hear it," Ronnie hummed.
"That weird looking stuffed animal is a penguin, and his name is Megrez," Kyle responded.
"As in Megrez the star?"
"Why haven't I seen it before? Have you been hiding him?"
"I haven't been hiding him, I've just placed him where he wasn't as obvious."
Ronnie gave some thought to the next question in his mind. He thought the question was so off the wall that Kyle might think he was some kind of weirdo. But he decided to ask it anyway, "Does this have to do with the whole business of giving Megrez, the star, a planet and you saving the Sooloo from crashing into the planet?"
"It has more to do with creating the planet than avoiding crashing into the planet, at least as far as Megrez is concerned."
Kyle then went into detail about his listening to the stars since he was around six. He talked about his father's adverse reaction to his claim he could hear the stars along with his father's negativity as far as his then ten-year-son still having a stuffed animal.
"Megrez went into space with me—Megrez the penguin that is. The star was already there," Kyle snickered. "By then Dad accepted Megrez and gave me the stuffed bear who became Kyle Bear for the twins, who had stolen Megrez."
"Ooh, I bet that made you mad," Ronnie observed.
"More than that, it pissed me off totally, and it scared me. Megrez had become much more than a stuffed animal."
Kyle then went into the story of Azazel, the rogue star, and how the stars, Megrez in particular, helped defeat the rogue and save the Sooloo. The stories of Azazel and of creating the planet for Megrez, the star, were ones Ronnie had heard before, but never in the context that Kyle was telling them.
When Kyle got into his Draconian heritage, Ronnie stopped him. "You mean your mother was part Draconian?" he asked incredulously.
"Nope. For reasons I don't understand a female can't be part Draconian—she must be full Draconian. Only a male can be a half breed."
"That seems to go against all of the rules of genetics I learned. Did you ask my mom about it? Afterall, she is an expert in extraterrestrial lifeforms."
"I did, and she explained it to me. She even drew genetic charts to show me how it works," Kyle shook his head, "I still don't get it. Plotting a blind course through a nebula seems simpler than all those genetic chains."
"I'll have to ask her myself. I've been listening to that kind of stuff from her since I was a little kid. I heard you have royal blood in you as well. Is that true? I mean, that didn't make any sense to me until now."
"Yes, I do, but it doesn't mean much to me. I'm happy being Commander Kyle Robinson and will be even happier if someday I make captain and command a ship."
Ronnie looked long and hard at his new brother. The only noise in the room was the breathing of the two boys. The long silence was making Kyle feel uneasy and he was wondering what to say to break the silence.
Kyle started to open his mouth, but Ronnie beat him to it. "You mean I have a little brother who is part alien? Why wasn't I told this before?"
"Well, probably because…," Kyle started.
"I bet my mother is eating this up. Imagine, a leading expert in extraterrestrial beings having a stepson who is part alien and grandson who is all alien—and in more ways than one," Ronnie chuckled.
"Well, it's not really…"
Once again Ronnie cut Kyle off. "You want to know what I think about all of this?"
"You could let me finish talking you know," Kyle grumbled.
"Yeah, so you can tell me it all doesn't mean jack, which we both know is bullshit. So, I repeat my question, do you want to know what I think?"
"I guess you're going to tell me, no matter what."
"Exactly. And what I'm going to tell you is that me having sex with my little brother is one thing, but having sex with my exotic, extraterrestrial brother when I KNOW he's an ET is something else again."
"How? Well, fuck, let's have some interstellar sex and find out."
Kyle grinned when he realized where his big bro was going. "Do you think you can handle a wild and horny Draconian."
"Oh fuck yeah, as long as he can handle a hung and horny teenage Earthling."
"Well, then, I guess we should see who can do what to whom," Kyle giggled.
The sex between Kyle and Ronnie stepped up from satisfying to incredibly erotic. Whether or not it was because of what the two of them had just talked about was a major factor in creating their extra passion became meaningless as the two stepbrothers discovered new links between themselves they never knew existed.
"That was something special," Ronnie breathed after they finished.
"I love you, Bro," Kyle replied. "For a mere Earthling you're… well… you're very good in bed."
Danny was spending the night with Brad and Steve. As a result, it was a rare moment when Kyle and Ronnie could have sex and sleep together. The two fell asleep wrapped in each other's arms, bonded together by a special closeness that was far beyond anything they had felt for each other before. Megrez sat on his perch above the dresser, looking down at the two boys with total approval. Kyle had invited Corey for dinner with his family that evening. He had been thinking of this since Corey asked him about Megrez on his last visit. Corey had seen Megrez perched on his shelf above the dresser and asked Kyle if it was his or Danny's. Kyle told him it was his and that it was a talisman that dated back to when he was five or six. Corey had accepted his answer, but Kyle could sense that his friend wasn't entirely satisfied with the answer.
When Ronnie saw Megrez and started asking the same kind of questions as Corey, Kyle realized the need to enlighten Corey had become even more pressing. After Corey arrived, Kyle took him up to his bedroom and beckoned him to sit on the bed. Kyle took Megrez off the shelf, sat next to Corey, and proceeded to describe, much as he had with Ronnie, the purpose Megrez filled in his life.
"So, you really talk to the stars?" Corey asked. "Like, can you ask them to do stuff for you, like Santa Claus or something?"
"It's more like they talk to me, especially Megrez. They aren't at all like Santa, since unlike the big fat jolly elf, they are real."
"Did you name your penguin Megrez after you found out about the stars?"
"Nope. I named him Megrez long before I connected him with the stars. My dad gave me a telescope and I loved looking through it. Ursa Major fascinated me, and so I named him for one of the stars in the constellation."
"Wow, what a coincidence that was."
Kyle gave Corey a sly smile and shook his head. "Knowing what I know now, I don't think it was a coincidence."
"There's a lot more to space than I thought. How does somebody learn about the stars the way you learned? I seriously want to know way more about them. Do you think they would ever talk to me?"
"I don't know how it works, I just know it works. I wish I could tell you more but…."
Before Kyle could finish, Koji entered the room dragging a stuffed unicorn that was literally larger than he was. Corey looked at the extra-large animal, wondering what to say.
Koji set the unicorn on the floor and said simply, "This is for you. We all have something that links us to the stars, but most people don't know it. The stars want you to have this. If the stars ever need to talk to you, Yunikon will connect you to them."
Kyle could feel the sense of awe emanating from Corey. "You mean I'll be able talk to the stars like Kyle?"
"The stars talk to you when they want to and if they can," Koji explained patiently. "Yunikon will help them do it. They want you to have it because they like you and think someday you can help them, or they can help you."
Corey asked, "Why a Unicorn?" Kyle and Corey waited patiently for the little boy to answer the question. Kyle smiled as he listened to his son explain the purpose of the big stuffed animal.
"There is an island, not on any of our maps," Koji replied. "There, what Terrans think were mythical creatures, they actually exist. There are darastix, or what you call dragons, and yunikōns, what you would call a horse with one horn."
Kyle was proud of how his often-unfocused son patiently explained what was happening to Corey. "You mean a unicorn, right?" Kyle asked. "And why didn't we go visit this island when we were on Darastix?"
Koji showed his irritation with his Kyle Daddy. Koji thought, he always gets upset when I put lots of questions together instead of waiting for an answer, but it's okay if he does it. The young boy kept his poise, which he wasn't known for doing, and answered both questions. "Yes, they are called unicorns by you, but we call them yunikōns. And Darastixians rarely go to the island, and nobody else ever visits because we keep it a secret. They are very shy, like me, and we don't want to disturb their peaceful existence."
"Since when did you become shy?" Kyle chuckled.
Koji glared at his daddy and then went on, "Darastixians hardly ever get sick, but sometimes someone does, and they might need magical healing. Yunikōns are magical beings. They are very kind and loving of those who will return their love. I heard they can be quite fierce, when they need to be, but hardly anybody has seen it. Children used to ride them all over this island."
Kyle snickered when he heard that and said, "Corey, he's talking about riding in the saddle, not its' horn up your butt."
Koji then looked sternly at his father. "Opsola, be quiet, I'm talking!"
Corey raised his eyebrows when he heard Koji sass his father. He didn't even want to think of what his own father would say if he sassed him like that.
"Koji, that is not how you talk to me and you know that," Kyle growled sternly. "Koji!"
"I am sorry, Opsola." Koji took a deep breath and faced Corey. "His name is Yunikon, by the way," he finished contritely. He hoisted the big stuffed animal's front legs onto Corey's lap. "He is yours. I want you to have him so when you get to be like Daddy Kyle you have your own animal."
Corey wrapped his arms around the big, soft unicorn. He shook his head, afraid that somebody might notice his tears if he didn't. Just a few weeks ago he would have punched anybody out who told him that someday he would want to cry over receiving a stuffed animal. That person would have been fucking wrong, Corey said to himself. Yunikon is going to go into space with me.
He was about to thank Koji for his thoughtful gift when he saw Kyle with his arms wide open. Koji stepped to his opsola and accepted his hug. "You did an amazing job of telling Corey about Yunikon," Kyle told his son with a soft, sincere voice. "I am proud of how you expressed yourself and proud of you. I was wrong to interrupt that by saying something silly and I apologize."
"I am sorry I yelled at you. It is bad to get mad and yell at your Opsola."
"We both made mistakes and we both apologized. I accept your apology and remind you to pause before you say anything when you are upset."
"Koji accepts his Opsola's apology." It was the first time he'd referred to himself in third person through the entire affair, which Kyle thought was great progress on Koji's part. It was something he would mention later.
"Thank you, Koji, for giving me Yunikon," Corey said. "But now you don't have an animal."
Koji hopped on the bed, hugged Yunikon and then hugged Corey. "I have Chidrag. He is my wyvern and he is special like Megrez is and like Yunikon will be for you, if you… if you love him. You have to love him, and he will love you and the stars will love you," Koji said authoritatively.
"I will totally love Yunikon." Corey then told Koji and Kyle what he had told himself. "I am going to take him into outer space with me and love him forever."
Koji grinned and took Corey's hand in his. "Come with me and I will show you Chidrag. Chidrag loves me like Megrez loves Opsola, and like Yunikon loves you." Corey picked up his unicorn with his free hand, struggling to not to drop the big critter.
Kyle broke into a broad smile as Koji and Corey left the room hand-in-hand. Koji is such a special boy, he thought. I am so proud of what he did today. And Corey—wow, there seems to be more and more to Corey every day.
Kyle picked up Megrez and left the room to join his son and his friend.
Hal thanked Logan for the heads-up and closed the communication. Dave, looking at his husband's expression, could tell that Hal was livid.
"What's up, Babe?"
"I can't believe what Logan Kristof just reported to me, but I will confirm it." Hal turned to his computer and called up the video record from the Sooloo upon Logan's arrival. What he saw confirmed the report and, if it were at all possible, Hal looked even more angry.
After a moment to confirm the other half of Logan's report, Hal asked, "Who is responsible for coverage of the Sooloo shuttle bay while our crew are on leave?"
Dave looked something up before replying, "It says that Space Fleet's Maintenance Logistical Support Division handles temporary staffing for ships during retrofit when the assigned crew are off the ship."
Hal opened a communication to Logistical Support Division. He was able to find out who the officer in charge of the Sooloo Refit team was and opened a call to that person.
When the call was answered, the voice on the other end stated, "Lieutenant Commander Wesley Moore."
"Commander Moore, this is Captain Hal Tietokone of the Sooloo. Would it be possible to meet with you sometime this afternoon?"
"Yes, Sir. I'm in my office at Headquarters and will be until 1900."
"Thank you, Commander. Commodore Bowman and I are on our way."
Fifteen minutes later, Hal and Dave were shown into Lt. Commander Moore's office. Wesley Moore was a career officer with Space Fleet. He was 43 years old and in his final year of service, having served since he was 18. He had put in his 25 years and was set to retire from Space Fleet that summer.
There was a common feeling of dislike among the 'regular' space where the 'explorer brats' were concerned. The belief was that the younger contingent of Space Fleet's staffing that they did not deserve even a small modicum of the respect, but outwardly, they treated the Explorers as they would any Space Fleet personnel.
Hal didn't start with any pleasantries. "Commander, is it common practice for Logistical Support to ignore safety protocols on a ship during its retrofit?"
"I'm sorry, Sir. I don't understand what you are asking." Moore fully understood but could not let on that he knew.
"I have received a report that firstly, your shuttle pilots do not communicate with the ship they are going to on approach. Also, when one of the officers arrived today, the shuttle bay was 'manned' by only a single individual and that individual was literally sleeping in his seat."
"I seriously doubt that he was actually asleep, Sir."
Hal stood and leaned over the desk of the commander. "Commander Moore, are you saying that the video record I just viewed was not accurate? I saw your crewman obviously asleep unless you commonly have members of your staff leaning back in their chairs with drool leaking from the corners of their mouths."
Moore lost control of his anger at this point and his true feelings of the Explorer Program shown through. "You little pissant! You come into my office and talk to me without the respect the 25 years I've served Space Fleet is due?"
Hal was about to respond when Dave, in a quiet and calm voice said, "I'll take it from here, Captain."
"Commander Moore. Last I knew, a Captain outranks a Lt. Commander, am I correct?"
Dave's attitude took the wind out of the sails, so to speak, of the Lieutenant Commander's rebuttal.
In a much calmer tone, Moore continued, "I find it demeaning for a person more than 20 years younger than I am to take me to task for a job I've held for almost 20 years and have been given more than a few commendations for the way I do my job."
Hal had reigned in his own emotions somewhat when he said, "Commander, when I informed you of the actions of those under your command, you could easily have said, something to the effect of, I'm sorry, Sir. I wasn't aware. I will take care of the issue, thank you for bringing it to my attention. But instead, you chose to attack me verbally. I may only be seventeen years of age, at least until my birthday tomorrow, but age is of no consequence. I am a duly commissioned officer of Space Fleet, holding a rank higher than yours. You have no right to speak to any superior officer in the manner you spoke to me. Rest assured that I will be making a formal protest which will be placed into your personnel file."
This shocked Moore to the core, "But Sir, I am slated to retire in a couple of months. In 25 years, I have never had any negative actions placed in my file and you filing one could affect my pension."
"I would have thought of that before allowing my emotions to give me a severe case of hoof-in-mouth syndrome. I suggest you go see your personal physician and have him treat you for an acute case of cranial rectosis. I expect copies of your report on the discussions you will have with your shuttle pilots and the person who was present in MY shuttle bay this morning by 1600 tomorrow afternoon. After seeing how you handle it, I may decide not to file a negative report in your file. Good Day, Commander."
Hal and Dave then stood and left the office. They had not gotten ten feet away when Hal's comm rang. Noticing who the caller was, Hal answered, "Good Afternoon, Admiral."
Dave had transmitted the conversation as it happened to Bill Mirah. Admiral Mirah simply said, "You handled that well, Hal. Let me know if he doesn't follow through on the order you just gave him."
"I will, Admiral." Hal closed the communication, took his husband's hand and walked away from the building where the meeting took place.
As they walked, Dave said to nobody in particular, "It's terrible that any Space Fleet officer would hold any other group of Space Fleet officers in such contempt. I think it should be suggested to the Admiralty that this be addressed with all of Space Fleet."
Hal smiled and the pair headed back to their headquarters offices.