Danny and Kyle debated about whether to adopt Duskin or not. Danny was pro adoption and Kyle was anti adoption. The two came up with a plan to help them make the right decision, one that was near perfect for both Duskin and Koji.
Aiden and Connor told Dave and Hal about the King's joke. Dave and Hal put any future adoptions on hold until they had a chance to speak with the King. Fortunately, he was only joking.
John and Will considered adopting Lakinae and Marasu. John discovered that he likes ripil xarzith awthess, or chocolate ice cream. Will likes haka flavored, or mint.
Koji taught Duskin how to play Othello. After a chat with their dad, Admiral Greg Robinson, Danny and Koji knew what the right decision was. They agreed to adopt Duskin.
The Friday evening meal had finished up. After everything was cleaned up, everyone had left except for Space Fleet personnel, who stayed at the request of King Zedrick. He stood up and spoke, "As you know, we will be taking Medici's body to be committed to our ancestors tomorrow. Unfortunately, not all of you may attend."
"I am sure you have your reasons," Mirah stated, "and while those of us who cannot may be disappointed, we understand."
"Yes, we will be travelling to a place where only Darastixians have ever been and, while it is safe, if you do something stupid, it can be dangerous. Bill, I would like for you to attend as well as Greg Robinson, and those that have Darastixian blood in them. Jordon Rivers, since your husband and children are invited, you may attend, too. Hal and Dave, would you like to join us?"
"Most definitely," Dave replied. "Juro and Tomo are both from here, but what about their fathers?"
"Connor, have you noticed anything special about your eyes?" Zedrick inquired, although he already knew the answer.
"Are you saying that I am Darastixian?" Connor was surprised, "but every DNA test –"
Zedrick held up his hand, "No, you are not Darastixian, but you are a descendant of another race. Have you ever heard of the Ajagaron?"
Connor shook his head, "Can't say that I have."
"The Ajagaron are another race that comes from dragons, such as the Darastixians and Sinocards. The big difference between them and us is, if they mate with another species, their DNA is not detectable, and only their eyes give them away."
"So…" Connor contemplated what Zedrick had just said, "I am half Ajagaron? Will I develop anything special about me? Where is my home planet?" Connor had several questions running through his head.
Zedrick laughed, "As far as I'm concerned, Ajagarons are the best engineers in the Universe. They are the ones who build our ships. My son's wife is half Ajagaron and half Darastixian."
"But I had heard that half-Darastixians can only be males," Jace was shocked.
His smile widening, Zedrick explained, "That is true, except in the case of Ajagarons or Sinocards. They are so close to Darastixians that females can also be born." Facing back to Connor, "Also, Ajagarons do develop telepathy like Darastixians, but not until they are at least thirty eorikci or years of age. As such, I can allow you and Aiden to join us. In fact, I will allow all of the Senior Staff of the Sooloo and their families to us"
Steve asked, "What about me? I mean, I'm not Senior Staff and not married to Brad, but I am Shasho's opsola."
"Steve," Zedrick spoke quietly, "you and Brad are husbands, getting married only makes it official and declares your love to everyone."
Kyle whispered to Koji, "Where we will be going, is this the island that you mentioned to Corey?" Koji just smiled and nodded.
"Kairu," Zedrick surprised Kyle, "you will probably see some of the creatures that inhabit the island. Under no circumstances should you approach them, but do not be frightened if they approach you. If they do, they will want you to pet them."
Even though Zedrick called Kyle's Darastixian name, Koji knew this was meant for him. He acknowledged, "Understood."
Zedrick informed Koji, "If a yunikōn does approach you, make a wish as you pet him, and he may grant it."
"Oh shit!!!" Danny and Kyle groaned simultaneously.
There were fifteen transports in the procession, the front transport carried Medici. It had his name on the front of it. The Second Transport carried the royal family; Zedrick, his wife Heather (her human name), Zarek, his wife Tonya, Zakku, Zifaa and baby Zarek. The next four transports carried Darastixian leaders and advisors. These were followed by five transports carrying the children and staff from the orphanage. And the final four transports carried Space Fleet personnel who were privileged to attend.
Jace asked Zarek why the transports were purple instead of black. "Earth uses black as a sign of mourning," Zarek explained. "While we are sad to lose anyone, we choose to use sililos, or what you call purple, to show that they are going to a happier life with our ancestors. And just wait until you see the service. It's nothing like you have ever seen."
Once they were on the island, guards carried Medici and placed his body on a stone altar. The encasement was removed, and the royal family bowed before his body. In like, everyone there did the same. A priestess walked up to the body, her attire appearing to be made from dragon scales. She raised her head up and called out, "Yth relgr nomeno tolgalen Duil di wer Darastrix. Kwi jennu Megrez, yth majak batobot mamiss di Medici ekess wux ekess demak coi mrith hesi opsolaic."
Kyle couldn't believe his eyes when a penguin came down and floated down to the body. It appeared to be a large live version of his stuffed Megrez. He heard in his head, "Yes, Kyle, it is really me. You see me as a penguin, but everyone else sees me as a dragon. Now translate for your friends."
Kyle repeated the Priestess' words in English, "Megrez told me to translate for you. The Priestess said, 'We call this island Lair of the Dragon. Oh great Megrez, we commit that body of Medici to you to unite it with our ancestors.'"
Once Megrez was there, Medici's body looked as if it had turned into thousands of stars and floated up to the heavens. It looked magical beyond belief.
As the Committal Ceremony wrapped up, a yunikōn approached Koji. "May I pet him?"
Kyle nodded, "Remember what Zedrick told you, but before you do, would you like to hear our decision about Duskin?"
About that time, Duskin came running over to give Koji a hug, one that he feared would be his last. Miss Dewel wasn't far behind him. She spoke to Kyle, "Duskin wanted to see his friend one last time… that is, unless you have made a decision otherwise."
Kyle looked at the two young boys hugging as if they never wanted let go of each other. The sight tugged at his heart strings, and he knew the demeanor of the boys would be changing drastically in a minute or two.
"We have made a decision, Miss Dewel," Kyle responded. "My husband and I agree that our son Koji needs a brother as much as Duskin needs a home. We have received permission to adopt Duskin." Kyle glanced at Danny.
"We think we couldn't ask for a better brother for our son," Danny added. "We look forward to making him a part of our family."
Miss Dewel breathed a long sigh of relief. "You young men do not know how happy you have made me," she said. She pointed to Koji and Duskin, who were still locked into a tight hug. "I believe those two boys are desperately ready for an infusion of happiness."
"Danny and I wanted to let you know what our decision was first, not that we expected a problem with it. But we felt it was the right thing to do," Kyle told Miss Dewel.
"All the more reason for me to believe that you and Danny are the right opsolai for Duskin. You two have a wonderful amount of integrity."
Koji and Duskin ended their hug to see what Danny and Kyle were doing. "They are talking forever," Duskin moaned. "I don't want to leave you ever and I want to know what they are going to do, and I wish they'd come over here to talk to us."
"Maybe we should go over there and talk to them instead of waiting," Koji suggested.
"We might get in trouble."
"We WON'T get in trouble because I know my opsolai. So come on and follow me."
As Koji and Duskin were discussing what to do, Kyle and Danny were finishing their discussion with Miss Dewel. "I know the adoption won't be official until Monday, but would it be possible for us to take Duskin to the guest quarters with us?" Kyle asked.
"Do you have the space for him?" the orphanage administrator asked. Since she was officially responsible for Duskin until the proper documents were signed, she wanted to make sure everything was on the up-and-up until then.
"The room is plenty big enough and we can have a portable bed rolled in for sleeping space."
"Then I don't think we will have a problem. I will release him to your care for the weekend." She looked over Kyle's shoulder and saw Koji and Duskin approaching. "I believe we are getting company."
"Ava'yorn Miss Dewel," Koji.
"Ava'yorn Koji," Miss Dewel answered. "It is nice to see you again. Let me give you a hug."
Koji was impatient to find out his daddies' decision, but he knew he was supposed to show good manners and exchanged a hug with his former mentor. Besides, he liked Miss Dewel a lot. After ending the hug, Miss Dewel saw Duskin standing a few steps behind Koji looking at her expectantly. Even though she had brought Duskin to meet with Koji, she knew how starved for attention and touching the young boy was and gave Duskin a hug of his own.
Koji then stepped up in front Danny. Without waiting for him or Kyle to say anything, he used as much force as he could muster in his young voice and asked, "What is going to happen to my bestest best friend forever?"
"He is going to become something different," Danny answered.
"Forever means always and that means forever which means it never stops so can he become something different?"
"How do you think?"
Koji stomped his foot and turned to Kyle. "Opsola Kyle, tell Opsola Danny to stop being mean and tell me how Duskin can be different from my bestest best friend ever?"
"Just like Opsola Danny said, how do you think it could happen? What could make him even more than what you are saying he is?"
Koji then turned to Duskin. "Do you know what they are talking about?"
Duskin thought he knew, but he was afraid to say it because he didn't want to be wrong, which would be even worse than the way things stood at the moment.
Danny and Kyle had hoped that the boys would quickly figure out the correct answer on their own but could see that they were going to have to tell the boys what they meant. Before they could say anything Duskin uttered, "Brothers, maybe?"
"Brothers?" Koji asked with more force.
At that point Kyle, Danny, and Miss Dewel could see the figurative light bulbs light up above the heads of the two boys who were looking straight into each other's eyes, each sporting a wide grin. "Brothers?" they called out in unison.
"Yes, BROTHERS!!!!" Kyle and Danny answered back.
"We're going to be brothers?" Koji repeated.
"And I'm going to be adopted and live with Koji on his spaceship?" Duskin chimed excitedly.
"Yes, to both," Kyle answered.
"BROTHERS!!!" Koji and Duskin wrapped their arms around each other, jumped up and down together, and screeched, "ISTHASYI! ISTHASYI!". They ended their hug and danced around each other in sheer ecstasy as they shouted, "ISTHASYI" and "BROTHERS," until Kyle gently brought them to a halt by wrapping an arm around each and holding them against him.
"You are adopting me?" Duskin asked again.
"Yes, we are Duskin," Kyle replied. "Danny and I both love you and you are going to be our son."
"And you will be my opsolai just like you are Koji's opsolai?"
Danny joined the scrum and became part of the family hug. "Yes, we are," Danny responded. "Yes, we are."
"Opsola Danny and Opsola Kyle are adopting me, Miss Dewel," Duskin told her in case she didn't know yet. Miss Dewel smiled and nodded her head. A tear ran down her cheek, both because she was happy for Duskin and sad that he was leaving her.
"When do I get to live with you?"
Kyle and Danny let the boys go so everybody could breathe again. "Tonight," Kyle answered. "We'll go to the orphanage before the day is over and get some clothes for you to wear and go back tomorrow to pack everything you own to take with you."
"It's really true? I am really going to be your son and Koji's brother and live on a spaceship, absolutely, totally for sure?" Duskin asked as if he were dreaming it all.
"Yep, it's totally true," Danny replied. "Absolutely and totally for sure."
Duskin broke out into tears and Koji quickly stepped in and gave his new brother a hug and a kiss on his forehead like what his opsolai gave him when he was upset. "Duskin, your isthasyi is here for you," Koji beamed. "What is wrong little brother?"
"Nothing is wrong, turalisj isthasyi (big brother). I am just happy, happy, happy, happy. I love my opsolai and I love you and I am happy."
"Then Koji is happy, happy, happy, and Koji loves you, too," Koji said affectionately as his tears mixed with Duskin's. A new episode in the story of the Robinson family had begun as Duskin (soon to be) Robinson became a part of it.
After being told by Kyle that he was going to be Koji's brother, Duskin looked around. When he spotted Marasu, he ran over to him, gave him a hug and a kiss. "Marasu, I get to be Koji's brother, I'm excited and sad."
"Why are you sad?" Lakinae asked.
"Well, because I love Marasu and will be leaving him," Duskin explained.
Marasu shook his head, "I was about to tell you the same thing. Lakinae and I are being adopted, too. We'll be on the ship together."
"REALLY!!!" Duskin was ecstatic. He grabbed Marasu's hand and dragged him over to Kyle and Danny. "Z'ar opsolai, nomeno ui sia drot thurirl," Duskin stated. "I just found out he's going to be on the ship, too. Can we still see each other?"
Kyle was surprised by the announcement, "You're vrrar, and you have a drot thurirl?" Danny looked confused, so Kyle explained. "Duskin said, 'New Dads, this is my boyfriend.' I commented about him being four and having one."
"And he wants to know if we'd be upset about him seeing this boy?" Danny questioned. He looked at Marasu, "How old are you?"
"Si filki xkhata jlatak woiuewr keari boja," Marasu responded.
Danny looked at Kyle to translate. "He just turned five twenty days ago."
"So… he and Duskin are just months different in age," Danny stated.
Kyle looked at Duskin, "Opsola Danny and I will discuss it and let you know before we go back to the ship."
Koji looked surprised to hear Kyle speaking Darastixian.
"There you are," Will called out as he approached Marasu. John, Drake and Lakinae followed behind him.
Kyle was surprised to see John and Will, "What are you doing here?"
"We came to observe the ceremony, like you," John replied.
"Good to see you," Kyle uttered, "but neither of you are Senior Officers, Drake isn't Darastixian and neither are either of you two, to my knowledge."
"True," John admitted, "but Will and I have agreed and been given permission to adopt these two, so Zedrick said we were invited, as well."
"So, you are the new opsolai of this one," Danny teased as he held Marasu's shoulders. "We need to talk about our sons."
Tommy walked up to Danny and was about to ask him something when Lakinae spotted him. "You?" Lakinae uttered, "you were in my dream. You were holding my hand and telling me that you love me."
"But I've never met you," Tommy protested.
"I know," Lakinae agreed, "yet… it was you. You told me your name is Tommy, Tommy Harper."
"How? What? Where? Why? Who?" It was obvious that Tommy was flustered.
Danny chuckled, "Okay, make that our sons and my brother."
"Opsolai, this would be a great place for the two of you to marry," Shasho encouraged.
Brad smiled, but Steve seemed more realistic, "Would King Zedrick allow us to? It seems like a very sacred place."
"All the more reason it would be perfect," Shasho explained. "And I'm sure he would be willing to perform it."
Before Brad could say what he was thinking, Shasho ran over to Zedrick. Returning, he had the King in tow. "I understand that the two of you wish to marry on this island."
"That would be nice, Sire, but would you allow it? It seems so sacred."
Zedrick looked upset, "Do you not believe that weddings are sacred?"
"I didn't mean that," Steve realized how that came out. "I meant that since we are not Darastixians, of course; marriage is very sacred."
"I would have no problem with you marrying here, however, it must be done before we leave. We only come here to commit our bodies to our ancestors, or if someone needs extreme healing. Are you ready to have the ceremony now?"
"Not everyone we consider friends are here," Brad lamented.
"Then perhaps a ceremony at the Temple of Dracora," Zedrick suggested. "Shasho commented about me performing the ceremony, but I think it would be good if both Admiral Mirah and I performed it."
Shaking his head, Brad explained, "No offense, Sire, but that was Shasho's idea. Steve and I would like for our Captain to marry us."
"None taken," Zedrick smiled, "I can give Hal permission. When would you like the service?"
"As soon as we can," Brad chimed.
A small dragon landed on Steve's shoulder as they spoke. Steve asked, "If I pet him, do I get to make a wish?"
"No," Zedrick chuckled, "only the yunikōn do that. The dragons simply heal you. For him to land on your shoulder, he senses something needing healed. Last month, a mother had a baby born missing an arm. A dragon touched him for just a second and the child grew the missing limb over the next three days."
Steve, Brad, and Shasho stayed out of sight as the ceremonies progressed. Their turn would be coming up soon.
"Isn't it bad luck for the groom to see the bride on their wedding day?" Steve asked Brad.
"Not if the groom wants to confirm that the so-called bride is really his husband-to-be," Brad responded.
"And have you… have you confirmed I am indeed the proper husband?"
"Your four eyes give it away. You are the only possible husband for me. I truly do love you."
"And I love you. Now let's get this thing over with."
"Should you not be thinking of the ceremony and your vows?" Shasho inquired.
"Only if we want make ourselves nervous wrecks," Brad chuckled.
"I do not understand my opsolai at all."
"Well, you're certainly not alone in that regard," Steve said.
Shasho shook his head. He loved his opsolai dearly. They were smart, fair, taught him many things he needed to know, and had no problem showing him their love— but they were often impossible to understand. Which might be one reason he loved them so much on top of the others.
Hal came up to them and asked if they were ready.
"I would be more ready if Brad didn't fill me with bad luck," Steve answered.
"They are being silly, Captain Hal," Shasho said.
"Now, that I can believe. If any pair was going to be silly on their wedding day, it would be your fathers," Hal said, shaking his head.
Sasho started at the back of the Temple and walked to the front, carrying a royal blue pillow with navy trim. Instead of rings, the pillow had neck chains.
Steve stepped to the back of the aisle; he is wearing a royal blue kimono with a navy obi, or sash. All of his friends from the ship and those he made on Darastix are seated and staring at him. Steve turned to stare at Brad, wearing a navy kimono with a royal blue obi.
Before they knew it Steve and Brad were walking together up the aisle past crewmembers they knew, along with Darastixians some of which they knew and some they didn’t. Hal was waiting for them at the end of the aisle.
Once they were at the altar, Hal handed each a candle. Steve's was royal blue while Brad's was navy. Hal read the proper words from the Space Fleet Manual, and soon he was asking Shasho to step forward so he could present his opsolai with their chains. Neither Steve nor Brad liked wearing rings and opted for neck chains instead. Each chain had an outline of the Sooloo. One had Brad inscribed over the top of the ship while Steve was at the bottom. The other had the names reversed.
Then Hal picked up a white candle, twice the size of the other two. The white candle has two wicks which become one ten minutes after both are lit. "I'm told that once these are lit, we have ten minutes to finish the ceremony, so Brad, Steve, your vows please."
Brad and Steve lit the white candle with the one they were holding, then Shasho handed Steve Brad’s chain. "Brad Kayne, I ask you to be my spouse. I promise to love you forever. Let the connections on this chain symbolize how our love connects. I vow to do everything in my power to strengthen that love." He placed the chain around Brad's neck, fastened it and kissed his soon to be husband.
Shasho then handed Brad Steve's chain. "Steve Boyer, I ask you to be my spouse. I promise to love you forever. Let the connections on this chain symbolize how our love connects. I vow to do everything in my power to strengthen that love."
Hal then sealed the deal by saying, "With the power bestowed upon me as Captain of the SS Sooloo and by King Zedrick, I hereby pronounce you legally wed. You may now share a loving kiss."
Brad removed Steve's glasses and kissed him long and hard on the lips. After Steve replaced his glasses, he and Brad walked back up the aisle amid cheers and applause. Someone commented that the two wicks of the white candle just joined.
Steve had been certain he would never marry anybody at any time even as he shared his life with Brad. But as he walked the aisle his love for his new husband hit him hard. He was totally convinced that now that he had married the boy he loved, he wouldn't want it any other way. As for Brad, this is what he had wanted all along, and now that it had happened, it was better than he had ever imagined.
Shasho looked on, full of love for and proud of his opsolai who were often goofy but were also totally serious as his parents and in their love for each other.
After the wedding, everyone went to the Courtyard for a reception. Brad and Steve saw the head table marked for them and Shasho. There were three goblets, but two of them were special. Brad looked at Zedrick and joked, "I love those goblets, I want to steal them."
Zedrick had a puzzled look on his face. "What do you mean steal them? You can't steal from yourself. I have given those to you as wedding gifts."
"Seriously?" Brad was quite pleased.
Steve joked, "Why is it that everyone seems to say 'seriously' when they are surprised with good news? Juju, Danny and now you."
8th day of Darastixian Week
Randy stood at the front of the Hall and called out, "We don't know the cause, but Steve's emails failed to reach me for three March birthdays. Ben Maxey spent the day yesterday planning the cakes and then made three this morning. He just finished the last one."
Two of the Cook's Assistants appeared, each pushing out a cart with Ben Maxey pushing out the third. "The first birthday missed was our own Cook's Assistant, Che. His birthday was on the fourth of March. He turned fourteen."
Charlie Phukets revealed the cake he pushed out. It was designed to look like vegetables on a cutting board being chopped, something fitting for a Cook's Assistant. Che saw the cake and groaned, "I think that's what I do almost all day.
Randy laughed, "And you do it well. The next person that was missed had his birthday on the eighteenth. He turned eleven years old this year. Drake Alexander Crusoe, this cake is for you."
Ben uncovered the cake he handled. This cake was a bit delicate to make, so he wanted to handle it personally. With a name like Drake, he thought a drake would be cool. "Oh wow!" Drake exclaimed. "That is so awesome. Thank you, Ben, for making such a beautiful cake for my birthday."
"Finally," Randy continued, "our last birthday was two days after Drake's on the twentieth. Scott Trevor turned seventeen. Scott, before you know it, you'll be old like Dave and Hal."
Hal laughed, "I'd be cautious about who you are calling old if I were you, Mr. Jenkins." Randy smiled and waved.
Adam Varna displayed a cake which looked like the Sooloo in a space scene. Scott's name was on the cake in yellow frosting. "That is so cool!" Scott declared. "As Drake said, thanks, Ben. As always, you've outdone yourself with your cakes."
Steve was sitting with Brad and Shasho as the cakes were presented. He waited until the last cake was shown before turning to Brad. "Speaking of emails about birthdays, Brad, have you figured out what caused my emails to fail? All of my emails are failing now," Steve complained.
Brad shook his head, "From here, I can't begin to guess, but once we are on the ship, I'm hoping to get answers. It may leave me shorthanded until it's figured out, but I will get it taken care of."
"Operations can cover every position on the ship, would you like to borrow Shasho to help?" Steve suggested. "I'm sure Kash would approve it."
"Shasho is good with computers," Brad agreed. "Maybe he can start searching for the cause and I can just check in on him."
"I'll say something to Kash. I doubt he would have a problem with it."
When Steve woke up, he put his glasses on and opened his eyes. "I must still be half asleep," he muttered, "everything looks blurry." Steve wiped his eyes and sat on the side of the bed. Looking around the room, he couldn't figure out why everything was still blurry. He hit his comm, "Dr. Tom, I think I'm having issues with these glasses. Everything is blurry."
"Stay where you are and I will come check," Dr. Tom Abernathy ordered.
Within minutes, Brad was letting Dr. Tom into their quarters. Tom scanned Steve and found no abnormalities. "We need to go up to the ship for a more thorough exam," Tom advised.
"You lead the way, I feel almost blind, my eyes have gotten so blurry."
"Hmmm…" Dr. Tom thought out loud, "could your eyes have rapidly gotten worse? Sit in the chair and let me check."
After a more thorough inspection of Steve's eyes, Dr. Tom announced, "I see nothing physical. Let's try the eye exam and see how bad they are. Remove your glasses, cover your right eye. Now read the smallest print you can make out."
Steve covered his right eye and read, "Made in Tacoma, Washington. Copyright 2121."
Tom walked up to where the chart was projected on the wall. He looked at the small print at the bottom of the chart. "Okay, now do the same with your left eye, but read a different line."
"I can still make out the 'Made in Tacoma' line, but since you said a different line, P E Z O L F C T D."
Tom shook his head, "I simply don't understand it."
"What's wrong, Doc?" Steve looked nervous.
Still shaking his head, Tom replied, "Steve, I have bad news for you."
"Go ahead and just tell me," Steve was starting to worry. "Am I going blind? Can you fix it?"
"No, Steve, I can't," Dr. Tom answered. "The reason is… there is nothing to fix. Your eyes are better than a new baby's with perfect vision. You no longer need your glasses."
"No longer need my glasses?" Steve was aghast. "That stupid dragon HAD to land on my shoulder, didn't it? I like my glasses. They make me…"
"Yeah, yeah, we already discussed that," Tom chuckled. "I guess it's time for the plain lenses that we discussed, that is… if you still want to wear glasses."
"Of course, I do," Steve reacted.
Hal was reviewing several reports from various departments when Dave entered the room Zedrick allowed Hal and Dave to use as an office. He had no sooner taken a seat when Hal’s comm indicated an incoming transmission. When he accepted the call, he saw the face of Fleet Admiral Mirah staring back at him.
"Good morning, Sir, to what do I owe the honor of this communication?"
Bill started laughing. When he'd finished, he replied, "Come on, Hal. Cut the formality, at least when it's just us talking."
Hal was taken aback by the Admiral's response.
After waiting for Hal to continue and not hearing any comment, Bill continued, "I'm curious, Captain, I would have expected to have heard the plans for departing Darastrix by now. We can't just say, 'Go that way' and be off. These things need to be planned, especially since I believe we had planned on leaving on Monday and today is Monday."
"Sir, with all due respect…" Hal noticed Bill's expression and revised his comment, "Bill, today isn't Monday."
Bill looked confused, "I'm looking at my chronometer and it says it's Monday."
Dave decided to come to his husband's rescue, "Admiral, last time we were on Darastix, we decided to adopt the same week as they use while we were here. Their week is made up of eight days, and as I am sure you know, yesterday was actually the eighth day of their week, which they call Gonichi. As such, tomorrow will be their Monday. After we leave, we'll adjust our schedule back to Earth Standard. Hal and I were just about to start planning for our departure tomorrow. We will be able to forward that plan to you shortly, if that is acceptable."
For a time, Bill was silent. The longer he kept silent, the more Hal and Dave each in their own minds worried they'd overstepped themselves. True, in the past Bill had been nothing more than a teacher and mentor to both of them, but could they have misread him?
Bill finally replied, "That would be quite acceptable. Over the past few moments, I've reviewed how things have been handled and allowed you the freedom to make your own decisions. It's true that in the past you have, while on any planet, adopted their own methods of time and calendar. This is no different. Even someone in my position needs to be reminded that he's not all-important. Thank you both for doing so in a respectful manner. I have much on my mind at this time and need to admit when I'm wrong. Please accept my apologies."
"There's no need to apologize, Sir." Dave replied.
"But there is, Zippy, please accept mine."
Dave nodded and added, "We will have the plan for our departure tomorrow ready for your review before dinner this evening."
The two officers stood and offered a salute to their Fleet Admiral before leaving the room.
On the way back to their quarters Hal asked, "Did we do something wrong?"
"I don't think so. I am sure that we will find out what has been on his mind before long. His using my nickname spoke volumes to me. I think now we should prepare a schedule for departure. Make sure to get input from all of the different departments on the ship."
Hal kissed Dave on the cheek before replying, "You never cease to amaze me, Babe."
King Zedrick invited those who were interested in seeing the Darastixian Star Charts to join him. He promised Connor that he would explain exactly where Ajagara was. Being still a part of Astro Cartography when not working on Astrogation, Will decided to attend with Connor. Jordan and Jace were curious, themselves.
Zedrick pulled out a star chart and laid it on the table. "This map shows what you see as the Big Dipper, Little Dipper and Draco from Earth. You mentioned meeting a Sinocard before. His planet is the third one from his star Aldibain."
"You have paper charts?" Will questioned.
Zedrick smiled, "We do, but if you look above, you will see what the galaxy looks like from our view. The paper charts are simply hard copies."
Everyone looked toward the dome of the Observatory. They saw a star marked "Sol" with eight planets and some dwarf planets orbiting it. Zedrick tapped a few buttons and zoomed in on Sol. "How close can you zoom in?" Jordan asked.
"I can zoom in to see the continents on Earth, but nothing closer than that," Zedrick declared. "Would you like to see Sinocard?"
As everyone else nodded, Connor pointed at Gianfar. "You have this star marked on your paper chart."
"Yes, only the stars in Draco that have inhabitants are marked."
"Which planet of Gianfar has inhabitants?" Connor was hoping since they were so close, maybe they could visit. He was also hoping that Zedrick would say it was his planet.
"Ajagara," Zedrick replied. "It is the second planet from Gianfar."
"So," Connor grinned, "that is where my ancestors from one of my parents came from?"
"Yes, yes, it is," Zedrick declared.
"Is there any way we can get a copy of this?" Jordan inquired. "I know Connor would like a copy, and I'm sure Astro Cartography would, as well."
Zedrick walked over to a panel and pushed some buttons. Soon, three rolls of paper dispensed from a chute below. "I made three copies for you."
"That should work, thank you," Jordan responded.
Will suggested, "You should visit the Sooloo and check out our holodeck with the star maps."
"I will talk to Hal and Dave," Zedrick grinned.
Hal personally gave Zedrick a tour of the ship, starting with their point of entry, the Shuttle Bay. "With all due respect, Hal," Zedrick began, "Will Robinson Crusoe suggested I see your star maps in something called a Holodeck."
"Understood, but I thought you would like to see the entire ship with us ending there."
"Now that you mention it," Zedrick smiled, "indeed, I would. Thank you for being so thoughtful."
"You have been so generous to us; I couldn't help but be."
Hal took Zedrick throughout most of the ship, and when they walked into the Medical Bay, Zedrick couldn't believe he was meeting a crewmember for the first time. Even more intriguing, he couldn't sense anything from the man. "You've not been down on the surface, is there a reason why?"
"I am afraid that I am unable to, Sire."
"Please, call me Zedrick, I am not keen on formality unless necessary."
"You may call me Howser or Doogie. I am a Howser Medical Hologram."
"You are a hologram?" Zedrick was surprised. "As far advanced as we are, we don't even have holograms capable of interacting with our people in such a fashion as you do."
"Unfortunately, I have no means of leaving the ship, but thanks to holo-emitters, I can be anywhere aboard."
"Fascinating." Zedrick looked at Hal, "These holodecks of which Will spoke of, are they similar in nature?"
"Pretty much," Hal grinned.
Zedrick spoke casually as they walked, "All these boys aboard the ship, I would hate to be the one doing all the laundry."
"We don't do laundry aboard the ship."
"What?" Zedrick couldn't believe what he just heard. "You have a room where all the laundry is stored?"
Hal took off his shirt and went to a replicator. "Zedrick, would you stain this shirt, please? Or you could rip a part of it."
"I don't want to ruin it."
"You can't ruin it," Hal laughed.
Zedrick ripped a sleeve but felt bad about doing it. Hal put the shirt in the replicator, pushed a button and the shirt disappeared. In less than a minute, a fresh shirt appeared. Hal handed it to Zedrick and explained, "The replicator breaks the material down into its primary components, then creates a new identical item, clean and completely repaired. It is also capable of creating food, but it's almost tasteless, especially compared to Randy's cooking."
"So you don't need to do laundry," Zedrick was more and more impressed.
They walked into a room with black walls containing a blue grid. "Computer," Hal called out, "Zedrick would like to see the star map that the children use."
The blue grid disappeared and Zedrick felt like he was floating in space, except he knew he was still breathing air. He touched the sun, and was surprised it felt warm, but didn't burn. Hal smiled, "I think every child aboard has touched the sun. While they interact with everything, we want them to know it gives heat but at the same time, don't want them injured."
"Is this room only for star maps?" Zedrick asked.
"What would you like?"
"I would like a waterfall leading into a stream with a cottage and woods." Suddenly, the stars and planets were gone and the scene Zedrick described appeared before him. Zedrick hadn't specified how high of a waterfall, so he couldn't see the top of it. "This is simply amazing. Can this create any scene if I describe it?"
"To whatever detail you wish," Hal replied. "We use it for training purposes as well as for enjoyment. The children create pools or lakes for swimming."
"Do you think Bill would mind if we were told how to create one of these?"
"I'm sure if you ask him, he'd be happy to help you out. Afterall, look what you've done for us."
"I wasn't going to say that. We did it because we consider you as allies, but I am happy to hear you are so appreciative that you mentioned it."
As soon as they finished breakfast, Kyle, Danny, Koji, Duskin, John, Will, Drake, Lakinae and Marasu made their way to the Hall of Records. "Oh my, we have a large group today," Michi chuckled. "Koji, I heard that you were getting a new brother."
"I am!" Koji beamed. "His name is Duskin and he's my bestest best friend."
"So I heard. That must mean you have been very well behaved for your opsolai to want to adopt another."
"Well…" Koji wasn't sure how to answer. He looked up at Kyle.
"Koji has been doing very well. We've had a few issues, but overall, we love him, and he loves us. He knows his boundaries, I can say that," Kyle offered. Danny nodded in agreement.
Michi smiled, "I can assure you, Duskin is very well behaved. I thought about adopting him myself, but my mrrandii doesn't want any vraktor."
"Your husband doesn't want any children, but you do?" Kyle questioned. "That must be hard on you."
"When I'm not here, I tend to help out Miss Dewel and that helps, but I found out this morning that I will have a whelp in seven months."
"Congratulations," Danny seemed genuinely happy for her. "You must be only two months along. How will your husband react?"
"Three months," Michi stated. "Gestation for Darastixians is ten months. I spoke to my mrrandii shortly after I found out, and since we are the parents, he is ecstatic. He just didn't want to adopt. Okay, you two have done this with Koji, so you know what to do, correct?"
"Correct," Kyle confirmed.
After Michi was done with Duskin's adoption, she turned to Will, John and Drake. "Who is adopting Lakinae and Marasu?"
"We are," John pointed to him and Will. "Drake is our son and wanted to be with us."
"It's nice when the entire family wants to be present." Since they hadn't adopted a child on Darastix, Michi explained everything to them.
When they were done, Lakinae asked, "Do you know Tomo? I think he was adopted by someone on your ship."
"Our ship," Will corrected. "You are part of the Sooloo now. And yes, we know him."
"I need to tell him that Arytiss was adopted on Sui. He's going to be upset."
John laughed, "He already knows. We found out Friday that Juro's family adopted him. Arytiss will be on the ship, too."
"Rilg!" Lakinae shouted. "Er… I mean, cool."
Will grinned, "I take it, you want to help with Arytiss? I understand with him being a baby they will need lots of help watching him."
"If you'll allow me, I want to help. Marasu would want to assist me." Marasu smiled at his brother.
"Yes, Lakinae, Will and I will allow the two of you to help."
King Zedrick walked up to Fleet Admiral Mirah, "Admiral, it was good to finally meet you in person. It saddens me to see you leaving after only met a week ago."
"Please, Your Highness, call me Bill," Bill Mirah requested. "And I enjoyed your company, too."
"If you want me to call you Bill, I insist that you call me Zedrick. Though I am king, I am no more special than any of my people."
"It pleases me to hear you say that," Bill smiled. "I wanted to thank you for donating the Darastix to us."
"Speaking of the Darastix," Zedrick began, "I have two young men who would like to travel to Earth with you and enter your Academy. They would like to work on the Darastix upon completion of their studies."
"Are they available for me to speak with, or will they be soon?" Bill asked, "I just finished packing and we will be leaving within the hour."
Zedrick smiled and walked to the door. Bill thought he was going to lead him to the boys, but when the door opened, two young men walked in. "This is Shivi Tiichir, he is seventeen years old, and is currently in the Guards, but has made the request. This other young man is his younger brother, Shivi Jiilral; Jiilral is sixteen and also a part of the Guards.
Tiichir saluted Fleet Admiral Mirah, "Sir, my full name is Shiva Tiichir de Guawysvern, which means 'Blessing from Heaven.' My parents were told that my dask couldn't bear children, so they looked at adopting. While they were deciding if they wanted to adopt, my dask started feeling sick, especially in the morning. When they found out that I was conceived, they were elated and chose my name right away. A year later, on my birthday, Jiilral was born, but Dask had to have emergency surgery and truly cannot bear any more children. We thank Dracora that Dask lived."
"So…" Bill scratched his head, "Tiichir means blessing? I thought Koji meant blessing."
"Koji means small or little blessing. It's a lot easier to say than sart or moxt tiichir."
"It does sound easier," Bill agreed. "So, what does Jiilral mean?
Jiilral smiled, "I was the second son, so I was named Jiilral. It means 'second.'"
"Fascinating," Bill seemed genuinely interested. "What would the two of you like to do aboard the Darastix?"
"We are willing to work wherever we are needed, Sir," Tiichir replied, "but if given a choice, both of us like being in the Guards. It has been a trait in our family for eorikci. In fact, when our family took on a surname, it was Shivi because all the males in our family were in the Guards."
"I will talk with the Captain of the Darastix, but I believe he needs a Chief Security and Tactical Officer, as well as an Assistant, and Security/Tactical personnel. He will place you where he believes best fits his ship and we can do your Academy Training on the ship."
"That would be wonderful, Sir."
"All departments report ready, Sir," Kash called out from the Operations station on the Bridge.
Hal responded, "Very good, Helm, set a course for…"
"Sir," Aiden interrupted, "We are receiving an automated distress call from an Explorer Class ship."
"Patch me through to the Darastix," Hal ordered.
"They are hailing US, Sir."
"On screen," Hal requested.
Fleet Admiral William Mirah's face replaced the field of stars that was before them. "We just received a distress call from the missing ship," Mirah informed Hal. "I ordered the Darastix to plot a course."
"We also received the distress call, Sir. I was planning to advise you that we were rerouting to investigate," Hal declared.
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