CSV-DSM Part 2

Chapter 6: Just what have we done?

Wells Fargo Arena:

'... and I'll send them over once they finish.' Daileass responded.

"Thanks, D!" Julio replied. "Des Moines out."

Julio turned to join Jesse and Benny as they looked out the windows of the press box at the sobering scene below them. The arena was now far from empty, in fact it was barely keeping up with the influx of displaced persons from around the world that were popping in as fast as others were sent to their new temporary homes. Janice and Grandma had done well with the flow for the incoming refugees; as soon as they arrived, the medical team evaluated them while Security ensured that any possible troublemakers were flagged to be rerouted to the alternate processing center at Fort Dodge. Once the immediate medical issues were handled, they were guided towards one of the fifty tables set up with staff to catalogue their names, original residence, and destination. Any missing family members were also charted at this time, with each of the three crews at each table receiving real-time updates on their terminals to quickly reunite separated families.

Throughout the crowd, roving Clan security patrols were busy making sure the ordeal was as comfortable as possible while they kept an eye out for troublemakers. Some of the younger members of the Des Moines compound took it upon themselves to be the Comfort Team, popping back and forth between the buffet set up in the Event Center and the crowd waiting in the lines to provide food and drinks. Intermixed in the 'Comfort team' were most of the clones from Las Vegas, who brightened everyone's day with their cheer. In the air, various birds provided overhead observation, reporting through Johnny anything that seemed out of place or might possibly require the assistance of one of the other teams.

"Daddy!" Terry exclaimed as he popped in next to the trio, making all three jump. "Gran'ma says stop micro-mangling an' get over there an' get some food!"

"We better do it!" Benny giggled once his feet touched the ground again, "Grandma scares me, and I'm VSO!"

"Chicken!" Julio sniggered. "Okay, Kerry? Could you pop us over to wherever Grandma is terrorizing at the moment?"

"I heard that, Julio!" Grandma Morrison stated as Julio, Benny, Jesse, and Terry appeared next to her. "I'll have you know I haven't had to put anyone in their place for at least five minutes!"

"Kerry, you traitor!" Jesse exclaimed.

"Grandma wanted to know if you argued!" Kerry responded in defense. "You're just a Director, she's my Grandma!"

Rolling his eyes, Julio muttered "Less than a day, and she's already corrupted Kerry. That didn't last long."

Grandma just smiled as she firmly grabbed the back of Julio's neck and guided him towards the buffet set up for the staff. "Now, Director, you and your family need to eat and let the rest of us worry about making sure our visitors are taken care of. If you're needed, I'll let you know."

Before Julio could respond, Benny turned and gave him a hug. "I think that Grandma's telling us to make ourselves available for the big stuff and let our guys worry about the rest."

"I know," Julio replied, looking over the food. "It just doesn't seem right if I'm not doing something."

"I'm sure that between Jesse and me we can find SOMETHING to do!" Benny giggled.

"You're weird, Poppa Benny." Terry stated with a straight face, causing all three older boys to giggle.

"Yeah he is, munchkin!" Jesse said as he pulled Terry into a cuddle. "That's why we love him!"

Julio realized just how hungry the stress was making him once he actually began paying attention to the food. Before he realized it, he had run out of space on his plate as he kept spotting things on the buffet that looked good. The rest of the boys were just as bad, the four of them making a noticeable dent in the food supply.

They made their way to a nearby table, their hands full of food and beverages - all four having large chocolate shakes. Jesse and Julio grinned as Benny found that he was sharing a chair with Terry, each of them took a seat on either side of the grinning pair.

Shortly after the command team were seated, four boys appeared near the table, two wearing Unit officer uniforms. Two of the boys were obviously twins, about nine years old. Of the older two, one of the eleven year olds was obviously the twin's older brother, despite his short hair being black instead of dark brown. The other eleven year old also had black hair, and his steel grey eyes seemed to be focused more on his older companion than the occupants of the room. One of the twins and the older brother were the ones in uniform, while the other twin's clothing was of an unusual style. 

Looking up, Julio asked "How can I help you, guys?"

The twin in uniform stepped forward. "I'm Haden Rothwood from Las Vegas. I ... umm ... well we ... uhh ... do you ... can you use our help, Director?"

"Haden? Sweet! Daileass said he was going to see if you were free!" Julio replied with a smile. "Grab some food and have a seat; if you're quick we might be able to talk shop while eating without Grandma catching us."

"Not likely, Julio!" Grandma's voice announced from out in the hallway. "That nice boy Daileass did say that none of your four friends have stopped to eat since this started either. You may discuss things, but none of you are to work until you have had a proper meal."

Julio rolled his eyes. "See what I gotta live with?" he grumbled. "Sounds like you're busted; might as well get it over with, since even Daileass is scared of her."

"Effern!" Haden's twin exclaimed under his breath.

"What's wrong, Barrett?" Haden asked.

"Klaus says we're stuck here on our own, he won't cross this Grandma either!" Barret pouted.

Resigned to the fact that he'd been set up, Haden pointed out the members of his group. "My twin bro is Barrett, my big bro behind me is Evan, and his boyfriend back there is Jimmy Casey."

Julio nodded. "I'm Julio, the big cutie over there is Jesse, the bigger of the two between us is our boyfriend Benny, and the little guy is our son Terry."

"C'mon guys, let's grab some food!" Jimmy exclaimed with wide eyes. "I GOTTA hear the explanation for THIS one!"

Once the four new boys finished decimating the buffet mid-restock, they returned to the table. As they were sitting, Jimmy asked with a grin "So, is husband-collecting the new trend with Clan leaders now? Seeing who could collect the most sons wasn't good enough?"

"Yeah, you're related to Adam," Jesse sniggered, "Same weak sense of humor!"

Jimmy sat there and stared at Jesse, a fork full of pancakes halfway to his mouth. His expression made it clear that he was torn between being insulted or being proud of being told he was like his brother.

"If you ain't gonna eat that..." Evan giggled before leaning over and eating the food off Jimmy's fork.

"Hey!" Jimmy exclaimed "I'm not feeding you unless you feed me!"

"Sounds like a plan!" Evan replied as he shoved a piece of bacon into Jimmy's mouth.

"Next time they complain about us acting like kids I'm gonna remind them of this!" Barrett told Haden with an evil glint in his eyes.

For the first time since arriving, Haden smiled, "Oh yeah, they ain't living this one down."

"Poppa Benny?" Terry asked, "Are ALL old kids weird?"

"Naw, just the ones over ten!" Benny giggled, figuring sitting with Terry would protect him.

Julio started to react, until he saw the all-too-familiar look on Haden and Barrett's faces that indicated plotting over their twin-link. Figuring an age war wouldn't be good with food around, Tracy sat back. "You'll pay for that later, BenBen!"

"You got lucky, Cutie!" Jesse added.

The eight boys settled into eating, with the entertainment consisting of a combination of two acts; the first was Evan and Jimmy trying to feed each other, while the second was Benny and Terry having a food-face competition on their plates. As the older boys finished, they sat back and watched the fun with Benny and Terry.

After everyone finished, Haden looked up. "Kerry, do you think you can arrange some privacy for us? Without Grandmas?"

"Sure Uncle Haden!" Kerry replied, "I'll even get Grandpa Klaus to help!"

"Grandpa?" Klaus' voice jumped in. "I'll give you grandpa! Just as soon as you get a body, I'm dunking it in the North Atlantic!"

"You gotta catch me first!" Kerry giggled.

"Just wait until I ..." Klaus was replying as the voices faded out.

"We made them kids why?" Haden and Barrett questioned in unison.

"You made a good choice; the AIs being kids has helped a lot with them being accepted by the newer Clan kids." Julio said seriously. "Is there a reason we needed to be locked down?"

Haden nodded. "There's a good chance that some things we discuss will be need-to-know only."

Jimmy nodded. "Seriously, we're talking things that Cory's not been cleared for yet."

"They're right." Benny added, suddenly serious. "Just by who's here, we're already in an interesting situation. Haden, I was preparing Terry telepathically during the meal for this situation, so he is now elevated to a proper clearance level."

"Thanks, Sub-Commander Roberts." Haden replied, acknowledging Benny's position. "There is a possibility you might learn more than was in the release we authorized to the VSO."

"Sweet, I'll be one up on Dad!" Benny giggled. "Thats what he gets for being old!"

Julio tilted his head. "Why is it I get the feeling I need to check my Intel reports more often?"

"You won't find what they know in the Clan Intel reports." Benny advised seriously. "Right now, there is a lot that is only passed verbally; trust me."

"Exactly." Haden nodded. "Your briefing was supposed to come from Benny, but he's been too busy with his past demons to give it to you."

"I liked the purple speedos, though!" Barrett added with a grin.

"How?" Jesse blushed.

"Haden was introducing me to Dylan." Barrett replied. "Need I say more?"

"I'm sorry!" Benny giggled. "It coulda been worse... it coulda been Bryce! I thought the purple speedos were hot too, though."

"ANYWAY!" Julio interrupted, "Daileass said that you might have some ideas that would make things go smoother here?"

"Directors are so impatient," Evan giggled to Jimmy. "Someone needs to teach them to chill."

"Guys, control your brother!" Julio giggled.

"Why? He's right." Haden deadpanned.

"I get no respect!" Julio giggled, smiling at Haden to prove he had no ill feelings about the comment.

Haden returned a small smile, his expression saying Julio had just passed an important test. "Most of your insanity can be taken care of easily, but there's one thing that we need to handle now. None of your security is experienced in a refugee situation this large; with your permission I'd like to get a couple of people in place to lead the teams, people who have been through this type of situation before."

"Ummm, who has THAT kind of experience other than maybe the Federation?" Julio questioned.

"A couple of the members of my team have been around a while." Haden replied, which caused Barrett, Evan, and Jimmy to snigger.

Julio glanced at Benny, who was just sitting there with a grin on his face. "Well?" Julio asked.

"Red One." Benny replied.

"Okay, that answered my question really good, Cuddle Brat!" Julio said as he rolled his eyes. "But seriously, since you obviously ain't saying no way, I'll take the chance and say it sounds like a plan."

"Good choice," Benny said cryptically.

Haden nodded, then tapped a point under his ear. "Clas Totus is activated. Rainer to Control, deploy Klaus teams at your discretion for support. Easol, stand by with Rainer for deployment as he needs you. Everyone else come to my location for assignment. Our objective is to provide necessary support to refugee operations resulting from the attack on Earth."

"Acknowledged for myself and Easol; he's right here." Rainer replied. "Just to clarify, what should I be assisting with?"

"This is a rescue and recovery operation," Haden stated. "You've got the resources of Klaus and Clan Short at your disposal, find the most efficient combination to bring refugees into whichever intake system is most appropriate. Hostiles are to be detained or dispatched as determined by the on-site teams."

"Understood," Rainer replied, "I am arriving at Control, will be active in thirty seconds."

As Rainer was talking, the rest of Haden's team appeared behind him. Within seconds of arrival, Haden and Barrett found themselves being pounced by a hyper five year old screaming their names.

"Hey Caedon!" Haden giggled as he tried to pick himself up off the floor. "You miss us or something, little guy?"

"Uh-huh!" Caedon replied as he nodded his head energetically.

Barrett looked around, and noticed that the only blond in the new group was trying hard not to giggle. "MOUSE!" Barrett groaned.

"Hey," 'Mouse' replied as he let his giggles free, "When he heard that I was going to meet up with his big brothers, even Klaus couldn't keep Cae from joining me!"

"I'm gonna be just like Barrett and Haden when I grow up!" Caedon added as he wiggled around to cuddle up to Haden.

Julio grinned as he said "I just finished getting my Intel briefing from Benny; I think you've made a really good choice, little guy. Just remember, you have to remind them how awesome they are sometimes."

"EVAN!" Haden and Barrett yelled in unison, "The mean Director guy is picking on us!"

"Sorry little brothers," Evan giggled, "It isn't picking when he's right!"

Pouting, Haden pulled Caedon into a cuddle as he stated "Barrett, you wanna do introductions while I protect our little brother from these mean old guys?"

"Got it, bro." Barrett replied. "Julio, the team's already been briefed on everyone here while Caedon was saying hi, so I just need to get you caught up. The eleven-year-old redhead holding the little redhead is Hac, he's Haden's XO; the little guy he's holding is his new son, Lonto. The other eleven year old redhead is Brudei Ni, he's Hac's second. The twelve year old brunette who just hijacked a pizza from the food table without moving is our TK, Trevois Klystron. Hey Trev, you gonna share some of that pizza?"

"You already had some; this is for the rest of us, Zon Pri!" Trevois replied with a grin.

"Kids these days, no respect!" Barrett giggled. Anyway, the little blond over there's Malory Sperry, otherwise known as Mouse. He only looks ten; he's really fourteen, and can almost keep up with Haden when it comes to hacking."

"I'm getting better though!" Mouse added, "Haden's teaching me to think like him."

Julio smiled as each team member was introduced, but went back to the one person that caught his attention just as soon as introductions finished. "Hac, I recognize Lonto's attachment to you; Terry's still like that in new situations with me, Jesse, and now Benny. You've got my respect for taking on one of the hardest jobs in the world, helping a severely abused kid heal."

Hac seemed to tilt his head for a few seconds, then gave a small nod. "I think you and I need to talk, Julio."

Benny looked up. "Jess and me'll start getting things set up with Haden, Julio. You and Terry go ahead and talk daddy-son stuff with Hac."

"Thanks, Ben," Julio replied as Terry scrambled over to take up his favorite leech position on Julio's side. He stood up, motioning for Hac to join him as the rest of the team found seats at the table. Once the four of them were far enough away to not be overheard, they sat down, each parent with a son securely attached to them. "What's up, Hac?" Julio asked.

"When you made that comment, I had Klaus fill me in on how you ended up with Terry," Hac stated. "I have ordered Klaus to make additional resources available to Alden to help the Pacific Rim guys with the more serious cases as soon as possible. Are you aware of a rescue that happened on a ranch over in Russia recently?"

Julio nodded. "Yeah; it sounded pretty bad. Weird thing was that intel just stated the kids are being helped with no details."

"That's because the type of help they needed can't be stated where the public can find it," Hac stated in disgust. "There were thirty-one kids. Twenty-four required immediate medical attention. Of those twenty four, five were transferred to Klaus for advanced medical procedures. Three, including Lonto, required the assistance of a little redheaded Mikyvis kid."

"Redhead?" Julio queried. "I wonder, is Kyle having kids without telling us again, or was it just one of them hiding his identity?"

Hac grinned. "I'm not telling. I'm supposed to tell you that you'll figure it out sometime soon."

"Figures," Julio giggled, "I'll have to remember to tickle Kyle next time I see him."

Hac nodded. "The three that needed help had suffered irreparable organ damage. It seems the assholes who ran the ranch wanted their 'stock' to retain their usefulness as long as possible, so they drugged them with cyproheptadine and melatonin to suppress their growth. They put it in the food and water, so the doses were not regulated at all. Lonto only looks nine; he's actually twelve about to turn thirteen. He was at the shithole since he was seven. The little redhead fixed all three of them up enough that they became safe for Vifer conversions, then took them to Ark to have the procedure done, since Ark had perfected the process."

"Oh shit!" Julio muttered as he unconsciously pulled Terry closer to his chest. "What happened to the other two?"

"I've been looking for someone I could trust with the twins," Hac replied seriously. "I think I finally found him."

Julio tilted his head, his eyes getting a far-away look. After almost a minute, he came back to the conversation. "I'm beginning to like having a telepathic partner," he stated. "Terry, both Pops said it is up to you, and I agree. You heard how bad those twins had it; do you want to meet them and see if you want them as your brothers?"

"You mean it?" Terry asked with wide eyes. "I really get to choose? What if I'm wrong?"

"The only way you can be wrong is if you don't listen to your heart, Angel" Julio stated patiently.

After a little thought, Terry's face became determined as he prepared to make the biggest decision he had ever been allowed to make in his short life. "Can you bring them here, Uncle Hac?"

"Uncle?" Hac grinned "I think I could get used to hearing that!"

Before Hac could continue, Lonto started wiggling around until Hac put him down. He quickly walked around the table and faced Julio, reaching out to turn Julio's face so he could stare him in the eyes. Once he was satisfied, he leaned over and pulled Terry into a hug, softly whispering the first words he'd uttered since his arrival. "I asked Ark to tell me what happened to you, all of it. You got lucky and got yourself a really good daddy, you gotta protect him so you don't lose him. I got lucky too, and I'd really like it if Lyosha and Feliks get what we've got. My Daddy isn't ready for more kids yet, but maybe your daddy is."

Terry nodded as he returned the hug. "Daddy says God saved me so that I can help other kids. He musta saved you for the same thing, so we gotta work together to do it the bestest we can."

Lonto smiled, a gleam coming into his silver eyes that was previously missing. "Thank you, that makes sense I think."

Julio decided that now was a good time to interject. "Timmy, he's the first kid Patriarch Cory adopted, said something that's become the Clan motto. 'Sometimes bad things gotta happen so good things can happen'. You've both seen the bad, now it's time for you to make the good happen."

"I'm tellin' Uncle Cory you called him a Patreeark!" Terry giggled.

"Thanks ... Uncle Julio?" Lonto said, obviously nervous as to if he went too far.

"You're welcome, Lonto," Julio replied, "and yes, I would be honored to call you my nephew."

Lonto reached one arm up to give Julio a quick neck-hug, then twisted around and ran back to Hac's side of the table. "Dad! You hear that? Julio says he'll be my new Uncle!"

Hac nodded as he pulled Lonto into a hug. "Congratulations, son; I'm proud of you and of who you chose to open up to."

"Can I go get them, Dad?" Lonto asked hopefully.

"Sure, try to be quick though," Hac replied. "Klaus, please take Lonto to wherever the twins are hiding."

Lonto vanished, then Hac stated "You just managed to break down one of his walls; I owe you one. Both of you. Just so you know, the twins arrived there the same time as Lonto did, and are twelve. You can probably guess what kind of shape they were in by what you know already."

"Thanks for the heads-up." Julio replied seriously. "By any chance are they like the rest of my twins and telepathic?"

"If they are, they haven't admitted it." Hac replied as he tilted his head. "But going by a few things I've noticed, chances are they are at least sensitive to telepathy."

"I wouldn't admit it either if I had a secret that could protect me from assholes." Julio stated.

"Point taken. Here they come," Hac warned.

Lonto appeared with a pair of what looked like twin ten-year-olds on either side of him. To anyone in the know, it was obvious that Ark had needed to do more for them than what was done for Lonto; not only were their eyes silver, but their light blond hair had an obvious silver hue, as well as their pale skin looking not quite natural.

Terry quickly rushed over and wrapped his arms around the twin on Lonto's left side. After two minutes, he swapped to the other twin, having said nothing. Two more minutes later, he turned and grabbed the hands of both twins. "C'mon, you gotta inneduce yourselves to our Daddy, then we'll go meet Poppas!"

"Hug test?" Hac queried.

"Telepaths," Julio stated. "When you have six other sons who can do it, you learn the signs."

"Terry says you'll let us look in your head," one of the twins said softly.

Julio nodded. "He knows I let his brothers do it when they feel insecure. You need to remember that I keep secret Clan stuff in there too, so if you find something you can't get to, there is a reason."

"Okay," the twins replied in unison. They closed their eyes, remaining quiet for a full five minutes. When they opened them, there was a new glimmer of hope. "Will you really adopt us?"

"If Terry says he wants you guys as brothers, you'll be learning how to spell Hernandez before you take your next breath." Julio said with a smile. "I promised him that it was his decision."

The twins gave Julio a small smile, glad to see that he honored a promise that he really didn't need to. Terry thought it over seriously, then blurted out "Kerry! Daddy just 'dopted me two new brudders! Feliks is the one on my left, an' Lyosha is the one on my right!"

"Guys?" Julio asked, "Do you want to keep your old first names, or do you want new ones to go with your new last name?"

Surprised at the unexpected offer, the twins both thought over their answer. Feliks answered first, "Can I change the spelling of my name to the English spelling of Felix?"

"You got it!" Julio nodded.

Lyosha finally made his decision as well. "My name sounds like a girls name in English; could I be Lyle?"

"I think that sounds good, son." Julio replied as two pieces of paper appeared in front of him. "Here you go, guys; your new birth certificates with your new names!"

Amazed, the twins took their respective paperwork and stared at it in awe. "Are these real?" Lyle asked.

"Yes!" Klaus announced over Julio's commbadge. "All topside records are updated; including Federation databases. The only ones who know you were not born with those names are the AI systems associated with either me, Clan Short, or Ark. The old yous no longer exist."

"How did you do that?" Felix asked.

"AI SUPERPOWERS!" a chorus of voices answered in unison.

"Come here guys, I'm waiting for my first group hug with my new sons." Julio said to the shocked pair as he held out his arms.

Still a little unsure, the twins slowly allowed Julio to hug them. After a few seconds, they relaxed and began softly sobbing on his shoulders.

Noticing this, Hac asked "Terry, I think your new brothers need some Daddy time. Would you like it if I had Klaus send up some micropets for you and Lonto to play with while I talk with your pops?"

"Can he send some up for my new brothers when they're done with Daddy too?" Terry asked.

"Of course, little guy," Hac said as he guided the two boys back to the other group.

"I was wondering how much we were stressing Kerry's remote access points," Jesse admitted. "You sure Klaus can handle the load?"

Barrett nodded. "Yep; he was designed to run a global defense network, and we've done quite a few upgrades over the centuries. He joined into the CSNIC network, then told us after it was already a fact. If I understand it right, when CSNIC is active, any one system can perform actions as another system as long as the destination system approves the action. That means Klaus can free up Kerry to monitor the Midwest region, which allows the other AIs to do their part without covering for Kerry."

"Okay, so what do we need to do to get this rolling?" Jesse asked.

"Get what rolling?" Hac asked as he rejoined the group. "Barrett, you think you can find some micropets for my son and nephews? Julio just made the twin's day."

"Already a step ahead of you," Barrett grinned, "Benny's been giving us a play-by-play."

"What we decided," Haden added, "is that you're going to take charge of security for the entire operation, with Brudei being in charge of this location directly. Mouse is going to be onsite Intel coordinator, passing anything that requires off-site response to Des Moines CIC or Klaus depending on what is needed. Trev is going to team up with grandma for roving patrol, while me, Barrett, Evan, and Jimmy assist Des Moines Command in keeping this under control."

Hac thought it over for a second. "Okay, that makes sense, especially giving multiple points for people to find a command response. Where do you plan to have Rainer in this?"

"He needs to coordinate with you," Haden stated. "It would be wasting time if he had to go through one of us. He's already been in on the planning."

Hac nodded. "Good; it sounds like we're set. Do we have an ETA for full transfer of control?"

Benny spoke up. "Julio just gave it his final approval too, so all three of us are on board."

"Now," Haden stated. "Klaus, initialize transfer of control, notify all staff of command updates. Place all security teams on standby for fast deployment. Ask Ardell if he wishes to set all compounds to Alert status."

"Acknowledged. I have assumed data control." Klaus replied almost instantly. "Clas Totus Control is monitoring security team status and standing by for deployment." Klaus paused. "ATTENTION! All compounds set high alert on order of the Ternios. This is not a drill; all compounds set high alert!"

"Klaus, if you see something that needs a team, pass it to Rainer," Hac added quickly. "We don't have the luxury of extra time to play chain-of-command."

"Gotcha!" Klaus replied.

"Okay, now that we've got that out of the way," Haden asked, "what's Julio up to?"

"Comforting the twins," Hac replied.

"Did I hear my name used in vain?" Julio giggled as he rejoined the group, a twin under each arm.

"You wish!" Evan sniggered.

After sticking his tongue out at Evan in reply, Julio stated "Gentlemen and Evan, I present to you Felix and Lyle Hernandez!"

"Nice comeback, I gotta remember that one!" Evan laughed. "Congrats guys, I think you're gonna like your new family, even if your Dad is a nut."

Barrett grinned as a box appeared in front of him. "Felix? Lyle? Your micropet bunnies are in here, plus a new one for your little brother. Lonto's micropet wolf cub's here too, along with Caedon's duck. Do you think you can show Terry how they work?"

"Yeah, Uncle Barrett! Thanks!" both boys replied as Lyle grabbed the box. Both boys then headed over to join Caedon, Lonto and Terry, who were immersed in their game.

"I think a little family bonding will do all of them good," Jesse commented as he watched Terry pause the game to learn about his new toy.

Before anyone could comment, the sound of a four-wheeler tearing down the hallway got their attention. A few seconds later, Grandma came flying through the door, riding on two wheels as she made the turn through the doorway.

"Is there a problem?" Hac asked quickly as Grandma came to a landing.

"My, but you're a cuter little cub than Klaus led me to believe!" Grandma Morrison stated as she killed the engine. "These new toys are fun, they handle quite well once you get the spare wheels off the ground!" Spotting Brudei, she added "Both of you are cute cubs!"

"KLAUS! You're DEAD!" Hac and Brudei yelled in unison, while Haden, Evan, and Jimmy collapsed in laughter.

"That is paybacks for that prank you pulled 1300 years ago!" Klaus replied with a giggle. "I TOLD you I'd get both of you back sooner or later!"

"And THAT," Benny giggled, "is why you NEVER prank an AI!"

"Which Benny knows from experience, don't ya BenBen?" Julio laughed.

"I plea the fifth!" Benny replied with a blush.

"But you looked so cute in that pink ballerina leotard!" Daileass giggled.

"You know, I was wondering how you found one so quickly, Daileass!" Hac commented with a grin. "Is there a fixation that you want to share with the class?"

"Ummm... I gotta get back to work!" Daileass commented before falling silent.

"He got you in one too?" Benny asked.

"Yeah," Hac replied. "It was legit for the operation, but I'm not sure the color was really necessary."

"Same here." Benny admitted. "Sounds like we need to put our heads together about this problem."

"You're on, just as soon as this operation is over." Hac replied with a grin.

"There you go, now you sound like the charming boys I was expecting!" Grandma laughed. "Kerry, would you be kind enough to grab another four wheeler from the pool for my partner?"

"Sure, Grandma!" Kerry replied. A few seconds later, an identical four wheeler to Grandma's appeared next to her, bouncing as it landed on the floor.

"Grandma gets short-term visions of things that happen," Julio explain at the confused looks he was getting from the Klaus team. "Just go with it, she's batting a thousand on being right."

Trevois grinned. "If I get to ride like her, I don't care what she sees!"

"I like your attitude!" Grandma laughed. "Hop on and follow me; I'll run you through a quick tour. We need to get more popcorn for Forth, he's almost out!"

Trevois scrambled over to the brand-new four wheeler, hopping on and goosing it as soon as it started. Nodding her head, Grandma hit the air horns, which began to play 'Dixie' as she took off, the front wheels only touching the ground when she needed to change direction.

"YEEEHAWWWW!" Trevois yelled as he took off after Grandma.

"What have we unleashed?" Hac asked as he shook his head in disbelief.

"This!" Kerry giggled as a screen on the wall came to life, showing Grandma and Trevois taking a small shortcut... in midair... across the center of the arena.

"Okay, that gives airborne support a whole new twist!" Julio giggled. "Richie's gonna be mad he didn't think of it first!"

Hac just stared at the screen, slapping his forehead when both riders did a barrel roll mid-arena. "Did he forget the covert part?"

"Our enhanced skills guys are making their presence obvious," Julio said as he put a hand on Hac's shoulder. "It's making it easier for the telepaths to catch troublemakers before they actually do anything. Besides, it's fun to hear the comments when a pair of raccoon hybrids wander through the crowd."

Sensing that much more of this would make being here very uncomfortable, Benny asked "Hey Mouse, you wanna come down to the on-site control center with me? I think the two of us would get more done there than here."

"Sounds good!" Mouse agreed, fully expecting Hac to blow his top any moment.

As the two ran out the door, a voice came over the speakers. "Security to Control, we have a situation in sector C-3."

"On my way, Security." Brudei replied quickly. "Klaus, Sector C-3; Control, stand by for scramble."

As Brudei vanished, Evan looked at the remaining team. "If you guys want to walk around to see how things are going, Jimmy and I can try to keep the kids occupied here."

Julio nodded and went over to the boys. "Guys? Would you be okay if Uncle Evan and Uncle Jimmy are here to watch out for you, while we go out to see how things are going?"

Felix, Caedon, Lyle, and Lonto quickly nodded their heads, as they knew Evan and Jimmy well and trusted them. Terry saw how fast his new brothers agreed, and added "My brothers trust them, so I'll trust them too, Daddy."

Julio smiled at the bond that was already forming between the three boys. "Okay guys, be good for your Uncles!" he said as he gave all three of his sons a hug and a kiss on the forehead. Noticing the looks he was getting from Lonto and Caedon, Julio gave them a hug and kiss as well before heading back to the command group.

"Thanks bro," Hac said softly as Julio rejoined the group. "You're really helping Lento too; he's starting to open up even more."

"Thank Terry; he's learned a lot from our Triple Twins." Julio replied.

"Whatever!" Hac chuckled. "C'mon, let's see what we're missing out on the floor.

The group had split, with Haden and Jesse checking on how things were going at the tables, while Hac and Julio walked the perimeter for an overview. Having caught up with their Command team, Tucker and Kris split off to cover Benny. The Raccoons had decided to go with Jesse, leaving Colin, Lucas, Logan, Mini and Alien to keep an eye on their wayward director.

Colin looked over at Hac. "The team's all cleared to the highest security levels, so you can discuss the things you think Julio should know."

"How?" Hac started to ask, before stopping, obviously listening to a report from Klaus. "Oh SHIT! I didn't know we had..."

"Neither do they." Colin interrupted. "I prefer to keep it that way."

Hac nodded. "Okay, I assume you're taking point, Sir?"

"Call me that again and you'll get a workout like you haven't had in centuries," Colin stated, his smile somewhere between a warning and an indication of playfulness.

Hac nodded as he dropped back, not really willing to find out if Colin was serious.

"What was that about?" Julio asked Hac as Hac dropped back to be at his side.

"All I'll say is don't piss off Colin, ever." Hac stated. "Anyway, there's a few things I'm guessing that you wanna know. Ask away, I'll answer the best I can."

"Okay," Julio replied, inwardly grinning at Colin's habit of freaking people out. With what Benny had shared about Colin with him, Julio knew enough to be confident on his compound security leader being able to handle situations as they arose. It seemed as if he'd just put Hac in his place, which made Julio breathe easier. "I was kinda curious where Klaus suddenly appeared from," Julio admitted. 

After listening for a second, Hac nodded. "Okay, Ardell agrees it's time for you guys to know some answers. Klaus is actually what you would call a conglomeration of the KLS 3 autonomous defense system and the assassinated six-year-old son of his creator, Hertus Klystron. After I joined the team, we found that Dalrus, the six-year-old, had been killed to ensure his father's cooperation with the project."

"Did you kill the bastards?" Julio growled. "When did this happen?"

"It happened in the middle of what Ark terms the second cycle," Hac replied, "and yes, the men responsible suffered a slow and painful death. Father was never told what we did, but I suspect he figured it out. Just so you know, we have settled on using Ark's cycle designations, as it gives a universal time reference."

"Good, I'd hate to have to find a Mikyvis to take me back to dispense justice." Julio spat.

"I think I see why Colin likes it here," Hac muttered. Recovering, he continued. "The KLS 3 system had formed a friendship with Ardell, and when it was given orders that would have wiped out over half of the world's population, some advice that Ardell offered gave it the determination to fight its programming, refusing to carry out the destruction. Father, that's what we all called Hertus, had put in an emergency core on top of the three known cores of the KLS 3. The KLS was able to partially retreat into that core as it was being shut down. Between that, and the fact that Ardell had ran to one of the KLS cores just before complete shutdown, things worked out such that Ardell was able to bring one core back online, which allowed the KLS to attempt a recovery. Father had been shot, and the KLS found something on him as it stored him in the teleport buffers that helped it to recover from corrupted personality files; it found the neurological imprint of Dalrus which Father kept in a locket. That resulted in the birth of Klaus, who to this day virtually keeps Dalrus alive in a way."

"Nine O'Clock, floor level!" Julio interrupted.

"Klaus, teleport us to floor level, bearing 270," Hac quickly ordered. As they appeared on the floor level, Julio and his team took off towards a closet in the nearby wall, Hac quickly following them.

'Door locked' Logan sent as he arrived at the door first and tried it. 'Hac, mental only, we relay to non-telepaths on operations.'

'Understood.' Hac thought back, surprised that the twins were strong telepaths. 'I smell the fear; the door opens in, so stand off to side and prepare to move as soon as it opens.'

'Go!' Logan ordered as a path was cleared.

Getting a running start, Hac shouldered the door, shearing off the latch and causing it to fly open. Before he even had a chance to shake his shoulder back into its socket, the rest of the team with the exception of Julio swarmed the room. A thirty-ish man was in the process of forcibly removing the clothes from what looked like an eleven-year-old boy, but had stopped at the sudden intrusion. He didn't get much time to react in the small room, as Mini and Alien grabbed the boy and pulled him off to the side. The man barely had time to piss himself as he realized that he was now looking down the barrels of two semi-automatic rifles, the grim faces of the twins behind the triggers giving no question as to their determination to turn him into swiss cheese if he moved a finger.

"He's clear of weapons," Colin growled, "... unfortunately. Director, you're clear to enter."

"Mini Minis, report!" Julio ordered as he walked into the room.

"Serial abducter, rapes his victims then leaves them to bleed to death. Enough telepathic skills to screen casual scans. Stand by for evidence." Lucas stated in his soft voice.

Julio nodded. Seconds later, he had his report. "Report verified. I hereby find George Hanson guilty of violations of the SHA, State, Federal, and Federation laws regarding abduction of children, rape and murder. The sentence is death, to be carried out immediately."

As if Julio's words gave him permission to act, the now-recovered Hac tackled the man and twisted his neck almost completely around.

"Hac, stand down." Julio ordered as the man's body began its death twitches. "That is sufficient."

Hac glared at Julio for a second before his eyes softened. 'Hac, it has been ordered by the Circle that the Clan Directors have the authority of the Ternios' in surface matters.' Ardell's voice informed Hac over his subdermal communicator.

"Understood, Director." Hac replied as he stood up. "What should be done with the body?"

"It will be added to the Sehlat lunch wagon," Julio replied flatly. "Before we go any further, please explain the look you were giving me."

Realizing he had greatly underestimated Julio, Hac hung his head as he replied. "I'm not normally under any orders other than those of the Ternios or Haden. There is not normally much left of someone I catch hurting a youngling."

Julio nodded. "If you plan on participating in any more operations with my Division, I will expect you to control that urge. Your method of delivering my sentence was acceptable; wanton destruction of the remains is not, as the remains provide sustenance for other races which support the Clan."

"Understood," Hac replied. "I was informed of the changes to the command structure that the Ternios have adopted for operations concerning Clan Short. In Clan matters, you speak as a Ternios by your station as a Director."

"Now that we've settled that," Julio said with a smile, "you might want to move; 'Cheya hates it when lunch is cold."

Hac nodded and smiled back; Julio had asserted his position and left it at that. After the rumors he had heard about Julio resembling Cory's leadership style, Hac now really wanted to meet Cory in person. Natural Alphas that were humble were rare among humans, but Julio had just proven his mettle and earned Hac's respect as a leader.

Now that the immediate problem was taken care of, Julio turned his attention to the freckled ginger who was now giggling with Mini. Alien, Lucas, and Logan. "What they up to?" he asked Colin.

"Just their normal evilness," Colin replied. "I can't wait to see Dad's face."

"Oh crap!" Julio giggled. "Should we go over and get the official plot they've schemed up?"

Hac joined them as they made their way to the other group. As they got closer, Julio was drawn in by the new kid's green eyes that almost seemed to glow. He definitely looked eleven, and his curly ginger hair almost touched his shoulders. "Hey guys, what you scheming this time?" Julio giggled.

"Oh nothing!" Mini exclaimed innocently, "Julio, this is Glen O'Bairn Busch, he's Colin's new son!"

"WHAT!" Colin exclaimed, looking between Mini in shock and Julio for help.

"Hmm, personality-wise that's a good fit!" Hac giggled.

"I thought you said Dad was getting a new son!" Colin exclaimed.

"Well, a grandSON is a type of son!" Alien giggled. "That's what you get for trying to sneak in on negotiations!"

"Would you please be my new Dad?" Glen asked softly. "You're a lot like my old Dad was before he got killed; Lucas showed me all about you."

The rest of the group watched silently as Colin took the conversation mental. Julio crossed his fingers behind his back; his gut feelings being that this opportunity could very well be what Colin needed to escape the demons of his past that still haunted him.

After five minutes of silence, Glen shook free of the twins and rushed over to Colin, wrapping his arms tightly around Colin's chest. As Colin returned the hug, he finally spoke. "On my life, the first person to harm so much as a hair on my son will die being force-fed their own intestines."

"Damn!" Hac muttered. "The next person that complains about me being too hard-core needs to meet Colin!"

"That was just the foreplay." Colin replied to Hac, having overheard him. "I plan on ripping their heart out and shoving it up their ass before it stops beating."

"Showoff!" Julio sniggered. "Congrats, Colin; I think you made the right choice."

"Don't go ruining my rep, boss; there's still a few tricks I ain't taught the triple twins," Colin shot back with a grin.

"Sticks and stones may break my bones..." Julio giggled.

"... but whips and chains excite him!" Mini added as he quickly bolted towards the door.

"Three dozen cookies for the person that catches him and traps him!" Julio announced as he took off after Mini.

The room quickly emptied of everyone except Colin, Glen, and Hac. Grinning, Hac commented "If Glen wants to ride piggyback, we can join in the chase; he should slow me down enough to keep it fair."

"Why waste our breath running?" Colin grinned back. "Daileass, put us about seventy feet in front of Mini, please."

"As you wish, evil one!" Daileass replied as the trio vanished.

Out in the aisle, Mini was giggling as he weaved through the crowd, quickly increasing his lead over his pursuers. Suddenly, he found his path blocked by Hac, so he attempted a slide to miss the arms of his potential captor. Just as he was sliding past, Glen pounced on top of him, quickly latching on to prevent escape. As Mini tried to wiggle free, Colin walked up and chuckled "Nice try, Mini - you lose."

"No fair!" Mini giggled, "Glen's your son for less than fifteen minutes and you're already teaching him your dirty tricks!"

"Yep;" Colin laughed as Hac motioned for Julio and crew to join them, "he's a quick learner, I'm proud of him!"

Julio led his group over, and couldn't help but laugh at Mini's expression. "Kerry, please deliver three dozen cookies in a travel container to Glen, he won the prize. Also let Doug know that one of his guys just got bested by Colin's son!"

"What's so special about catching him?" Glen asked softly, "It was easy!"

"He's one of the players on this year's Little League World Champions." Julio explained. "He knows how to dodge and run."

"Oh." Glen replied with a serious face. "You mean the guys that can't do more than run in circles for 240 feet if they get lucky and hit a home run? I can do that running backwards!"

Noticing the scowls on the baseball player's faces, Colin added, "Glen runs the 800 meter and cross country. There's not one of us that'd give him competition at those distances, not even me."

The scowls turned to looks of respect, as all the boys realized that, even with Glen being his son, Colin would never admit to being outclassed without merit. Before they could comment, however, they were interrupted by the sound of a four-wheeler tearing towards them.

"Cookie delivery!" Trevois yelled as his machine bounced to a stop. "They're still warm! Welcome to the family, Glen!"

Shaking his head, Hac muttered "Why me?"

"Because you love me, furball!" Trevois shot back as he handed the hard-case backpack full of cookies to Glen.

"You know, after almost forty thousand years, you would think that you would understand 'covert'." Hac prodded.

"Covert:," Trevois responded with a grin, "according to Webster's, covert used as an adjective means 'not openly shown, engaged in, or avowed'. However, the definition given in the Clan Short Training Manual, published October 2165, states 'An operation which due to unusual repercussions must be kept from general knowledge. Examples include ripping out a violators heart and flushing it down the garbage disposal while hijacking law enforcement professionals to join Clan staff, or any operation where JJ is likely to lose his temper'."

"See what I've got to deal with?" Hac groaned to Julio.

"Yeah, welcome to the club. Don't worry, it only gets worse; whatever you do, don't ask how he got that book." Julio replied as he looked for his temporal pain killers.

"If you find them boss, give me some!" Colin groaned. "I'm trying to decide if I need to kill off the Mikyvis, the AIs, or both."

Julio looked at Colin strangely for a second before the pieces fell into place. "Oh shit!" he mumbled as he found and pulled a bottle out of his pocket. He opened it, then dumped half the contents down his throat before passing the rest to Colin, who finished it off.

"Klaus?" Hac exclaimed, "Julio and Colin each just swallowed half a bottle of some type of pills!"

"It's okay, Hac," Klaus replied, "You can't overdose on temporal tranquilizers unless you are at a Gamma level universe or outwards. The worst side effect they'll have is they might be normal for a few hours."

"From what I've seen, that might be a first," Hac commented in relief.

Glen, munching on a cookie, slid under Colin's arm. "This is fun! Is it always this nutty?" he asked as he offered a bite of his cookie to his new dad.

"Sometimes it's a lot worse," Colin replied as he leaned his head forward for a bite. "Wait until you meet Ezra!"

"Kewl!" Glen giggled.

Julio looked over to find Mini cuddled up to Alien's side, with a twin on either side of them. All four boys were grinning at their leaders. "What's the grins for?" Julio asked.

"Mission accomplished; you were gettin' too serious!" Alien replied. "C'mon, we can have fun while helping people."

"Has anyone told you that your command team is strange?" Hac giggled.

"I tell them that at least three times a day; it doesn't help," Julio giggled as he stuck his tongue out at Alien. "Your crew isn't much better, though."

"I heard that!" Trevois announced, "And I'll have you know I'm the sanest member of our team."

"That's what worries me!" Julio giggled in reply.

"Let's see," Hac continued as they walked along the skywalk, "when Klaus came online, he ended up having to take out everyone occupying the base except Ardell, Father, and Trevois, even though they didn't know Trev was there at the time. Barrett stumbling around outside set off an alarm, and he was brought in by Ardell and Father. During that mess, Klaus had to do some emergency gene resequencing to save Ardell's life, then after Barrett came in Klaus had to do it again for him. Shortly after that, me and my team got into a fight with some security guys outside the complex. Klaus detected it, and the next thing we knew both groups were isolated in separate holding cells. Thanks to Ardell, we ended up all working together, and the core team that built the Klaus society was formed. Ardell and Barrett found Trev in a cryo-sleep canister, and once they woke him up he became part of the team as well."

"I thought Cory was bad!" Julio giggled.

"We taught him everything he knows!" Trevois giggled as he rode alongside. "Osmosis!"

Shaking his head, Julio asked "Just how big IS Klaus?"

Hac grinned. "Due to the nature of the Second Cycle in the middle, almost all of the defensive compounds were built underground or in mountains. Between the ones that Klaus was initially networked with, the ones that the Coalition added, and the few we hijacked that were worthwhile during parts of the Third Cycle, we're pretty well set. We added a few of our own as well, especially ones like our North Pole base. Once you take out the ones that were lost during the nuclear wars at the end of the third cycle, the total size of what we have left combined is about the size of Arizona."

"Damn!" Julio whistled, "I thought I was doing good taking over a neighborhood!"

"Yeah," Hac grinned, "but we've been doing it for almost forty thousand years, you've only been doing it for around fifty-seven thousand minutes!" 

"Speaking of that," Julio mused, "I keep getting the impression that you've been around the entire time. What gives?"

Hac was silent for almost a minute, his face suggesting he was having an argument with someone. Finally, with a grin he said out loud "After all this time, Ardell STILL wants to debate with me when I'm right!"

"Great," Julio giggled, "and I was hoping Benny might learn... thanks for the cheery outlook."

"Hello Julio," a strange young voice said over Julio's subvocal, "I'm Ardell. We'll meet later today, I promise. Don't let the cuddly furball fool you, we found that debating major decisions helps us come up with ideas that neither of us would have thought of on our own. Benny and Jesse are your best resources if you let them help you talk things out. I'll see you later, tell Hac I hid his chew toy again!"

Giggling, Julio followed instructions after a silent 'thanks'. "Hey Hac, Ardell says to tell the furball that he hid your chew toy again!"

"I shoulda killed him before I got to liking him!" Hac muttered. "Before you ask, yes, I'll be explaining that too."

Julio just giggled, curious as to what kind of weird story he was about to hear this time.

"Okay," Hac said as he sat on a bench in the skywalk, motioning everyone else to join him, "first off, the genetic stuff that was done to the Genesis guys is minor compared to the messing around with genetics that was common in the middle of the second cycle. You already know about a couple of the more common ones; phasenmorphs and Vifer. One of the problems was that some kids were being genetically enhanced before they were born, while most of the rest were given drugs via an armband so they could keep up academically. We were really active in the early years regarding those armbands, since one of them almost killed Ardell. They figure into a lot of what happened later, too."

"That ain't right!" Julio muttered.

"It gets worse," Trevois stated seriously. "Lots more worse."

"Tell me about it." Hac agreed. "Julio, how much do you know about werewolves?"

"Other than they're a legend that there's never been proof of?" Julio replied.

Hac grinned. "Congrats, you're sitting next to a legend!"

Julio tilted his head, looking sideways at Hac. "Okay, I TOLD Cory that doing this would make me hear things. I swear I just heard you say you're a werewolf!"

"Yep!" Hac giggled.

"Okay, one of us, or maybe both, have been hitting the medicated brownies a little too much!" Julio stated with a straight face.

"Dang it!" Ezra complained as he suddenly appeared, "I try to take a five millisecond cookie break, and Julio calls me!"

"I didn't call you, Rainbow Boy!" Julio giggled.

"You were going to when Hac said he'd show you when you had some privacy." Ezra explained with a grin. "Time bubble engaged, have fun Uncle Hac, nobody will see you, not even Uncle Ardell or Klaus!"

"What the..?" Hac exclaimed.

"Ezzy got his time loops tangled again!" Julio giggled. "You'll get used to it... or you'll become addicted to Valium, one of the two."

"Don't worry Uncle Hac," Ezzy giggled, "my Pop's the bestest Empath in the Universe, and he taught me some stuff! I'll help you with the control so nobody gets hurt!"

"Nothing personal," Hac stated with a grin, "but there were very few mutations in the Second Cycle that could control what was done to me. There is a reason the two of us that are left have not bred; we don't want to be responsible for letting that loose on the Earth ever again. I'm not too sure what you Mikyvis can do, but there's nothing born in this cycle that can affect me."

"Are you sure about that?" Ezra asked as he let the neutral energy shield that covered his body become visible. "How many people did you know that were anti-energy?"

Hac's jaw dropped as he witnessed the swirling colors streaming around Ezra's body. "Anti-energy? That's not possible!"

"We'll be right back!" Ezzy giggled as him and Hac seemed to flicker. "Okay, back!"

"JEEZUS!" Hac exclaimed. "Give a guy some warning! Okay, I lost track of how many places we went! How long were we gone?"

"You left?" Trevois asked seriously. "It looked like you flickered, not left."

"Told ya they wouldn't miss you!" Ezzy giggled.

"Where are those medicated brownies?" Hac moaned.

Julio passed Hac a familiar bottle. "Temporal tranquilizers." Julio stated. "Take half a bottle and call the Doctor yesterday. I have eternal automatic refills."

Deciding that now was not the time to question, Hac took the bottle and dumped half the contents in his mouth. After swallowing, he commented "Chocolate chip cookie flavored? Thats a first!"

Giggling, Julio asked "Okay, now what's all this got to do with furry fantasy creatures?"

Hac looked over at Ezra. "Okay Rainbow boy, if anyone gets hurt doing this, you're lunch."

Ezra just grinned. "Nuh-uhh! I'd give you the Universe's worst tummy ache ever!"

Hac glared at Ezra as he quickly stripped off his clothes. At Julio's raised eyebrows, Hac explained "I kinda like these; we haven't found anything that stretches right."

As Julio watched, the naked eleven-year-old in front of him started sprouting hair as he transformed into a walking nightmare. The surrounding air temperature seemed to drop five degrees as what seemed physically impossible occurred before Julio's eyes. "Damn!" Julio muttered.

"Dad?" Glen whispered as he decided the safest place was under his new father's arm.

Colin pulled Glen into his side. "Don't worry, Glen. He's got more control than he thinks he has."

"How do you know that?" Glen asked.

Realizing that he had two choices, either lie or reveal things that he kept hidden from everyone, Colin made the hardest choice in his life. As he noticed Lucas and Logan seeking security under Mini and Alien's arms, he made up his mind. "Ezra, I need a full lockdown. Include all AI systems except Ark and Klaus in the lockout."

"Good choice, Uncle Colin," Ezra stated. "Dreamcatcher Extreme engaged. Telepaths, your outside access is shut down until this is done."

Colin nodded. "Get over here, Hac. You're not getting out of this either."

Hac nodded as he shrank back down to his normal size. The rest of the boys suddenly noticed that it became extremely hot in the area as he was shrinking. "I'll explain the details after Colin finishes." Hac stated as he put his clothes back on and joined Colin and Glen.

Colin looked around at his suddenly attentive audience. "Okay, most of you guys know a little of my history. What you don't know doesn't leave this time bubble, ever." At everyone's nods, Colin continued. "You guys know what happened to the trash that gave birth to me, but you don't know why. Honestly, only three people here can come close to really understanding; that is three too many. To put it simple, I can speak from experience telling you what kind of damage electricity does to a body when applied repeatedly over long periods, especially when applied to sensitive parts of the body."

"Shit!" Julio muttered.

"Yeah, boss." Colin nodded. "Put it this way, while I'm enhanced, I'm not a Genesis kid. the records say I am, but even Adam and Logan can't get to the truth in my head. Hac and I've been putting on an act since he showed up; we're blood brothers in a way."

Hac held up his hand. "Stop. I know how you get when you cover your past. I'll handle the rough part."

"Thanks, bro." Colin nodded.

Hac's face grew serious as he took up the story. "This was way before the Clan was organized. Klaus had picked up on a very disturbing group that was making videos torturing younglings. What started as an interventional rescue went south quickly once my team was about to go out and solve the problem. We had found that a group of parents were 'renting' their offspring to a group who made torture videos. This particular day, a new kid appeared for filming, and just before we got onsite 'shock treatment' was started with one of the electrodes in his butt and the other attached to a collar on his neck. They were slowly increasing the power while molesting him; at the point we arrived they had just reached the point that organs were starting to be permanently damaged. What we didn't know at the time was that his own parents had been doing low-grade 'treatments' like this on him from the age of five; but they contracted out the murder of him due to his age being old enough to get them busted."

Hac had to pause; he could smell the anger from the Clan boys listening, anger that bordered on uncontrollable rage. The strongest was from Julio, and Hac recognized it for what it really was; Julio was truly his pack's Alpha, and was preparing to go into battle to avenge a wrong done to a pack-mate. "Julio, vengeance has been delivered." Hac stated simply.

Julio nodded, accepting the message that was not said. He consciously worked to calm himself, realizing that his reactions would be mirrored by his crew.

Satisfied that Julio had regained control, Hac continued. "The parents were not present at the time, which gave Colin the chance to avenge himself later. As you guys know, after something bad like this closure delivered personally is sometimes necessary. Klaus barely managed to extract Colin before his heart was damaged beyond repair; the adults present had no such luck. All of you know the legends of my species; when a youngling is being hurt, the two of us that are the remnants of what gave rise to that legend turn into walking nightmares. Brudei and I fed on a dozen still-quivering hearts that day, and the Heavens heard our howls as the bodies were dismembered like chickens after slaughter. Every youngling there was sent to our Compound; all but Colin only requiring what we consider minor operations to repair their bodies."

Hac wiped a stray tear from his eye then continued. "When I returned to the Compound, I checked in on Colin. What I found in the medical bay almost sent me into the worst rage I had experienced since my escape from the lab; Ardell was the only one that was able to keep me from going back up to the surface on a murderous rampage. Despite our medical beds being a combination of tech from the second cycle through today, they were barely keeping Colin alive. There was just enough undamaged heart left for the bed to regenerate a replacement; but the damage to his liver and kidneys was so thorough that no procedure we had could stabilize him enough to even allow the in-place replacement of his heart that the bed was capable of." 

"For some reason, I reached out and brushed some of Colin's hair from his eyes. When I did that, the bed gave a loud squeal, and Ardell quickly looked at the display. He turned to me, and ordered me to get my furry ass on the bed right now. Somehow, the bed decided I was a perfect genetic match to Colin. Using my organs as a repair template, the bed was able to rebuild the inside damage that was too severe to repair otherwise. The good news was that with my help, Colin was able to fully recover. The bad news was that due to some of the modifications done to me back in the second cycle, Klaus had to do some fast application of a few genetic tweaks to keep Colin's body from tearing itself apart trying to mimic my change into a werewolf."

"That explains the 'unknown species wolf hybrid' flag," Julio muttered with a nod.

"Yeah," Hac commented, "Kerry's pretty sneaky about finding info that you're not supposed to know." After pausing, he continued. "Due to the organs that were copied from me, Colin inherited another of my curses. The chemicals in the 'learning' bands had a nasty reaction with most of the second cycle genetic modifications that we did not realize until too late. While most of the modifications increased lifespan, when applied to someone with the drug in their system it caused an unintended reaction."

"This answers one of your questions, Julio; the interaction between the two generally increases lifespans to the point that those of us that were modified along with having the learning drugs in our system seem immortal. We can be killed or commit suicide, but those of us from the beginning have aged about six months on average in the last forty thousand years. Colin's not that bad at least; Klaus says he has aged a year since we rescued him ten years ago. Klaus has been keeping the surface records modified to reflect that until Colin joined the Clan. He was about to vanish for a records refresh when he got assigned here. The only reason he hasn't vanished is the way Clan Short accepts long-life members."

As one of the few that was still thinking clearly, Alien asked "Why is Colin in the Unit instead of just staying in the Klaus compound?"

"Lucas and Logan understand the answer all too well." Hac replied. "Colin needed closure; he needed to deal with the trash that caused him to suffer. Once we were sure he was stable, he started training with Brudei and me to build up his strength and stamina. All I will say is the only people who have seen what he is really able to do haven't survived to spread the warning; his Unit training was a walk in the park. Initially the plan was to use the Unit's resources to find his birth parents; the set of Twins over there changed that quickly. Colin was a natural telepath before, after our repairs he got really good. Even though Lucas and Logan didn't know it, they leaked just enough info for Colin to realize that they had been through hell as well. His first report about them informed us that he wasn't going anywhere until their pain was avenged as well. Once Colin found his own parents, he notified us and the mission was set into motion."

"The only ones in on the mission were Colin, me, Brudei, and Daileass, with Daileass sworn to the highest security. There's a reason Colin is heavier than he looks; part of the genetics that transferred to him from me was increased muscle density. The results of that became clear when we arrived at his former home; Brudei and I basically stood guard as Colin released all of his pent-up rage. You've all heard the stories of emotions causing increased strength in times of trouble, right?"

"Yeah," the rest of the group replied.

"Okay, take someone with unnatural muscle density, add the adrenaline boost from uncontrolled rage, and place him in front of the reason for the rage. Without going into detail, I'll just say that Daileass vomited even without having a stomach when Colin began dismembering his former parents... while they were still alive and conscious. As fast as a body part was removed, Colin would yell out a random destination for it to be sent to; and I'm positive that Daileass had to do some creative relaying through Federation transporters for some of the destinations."

"Yeah, I was a little pissed." Colin commented. "If I didn't respect Adam, the parents of Mini, Lucas, and Logan would have had the joy of experiencing that as well."

"Thanks, bro," Mini said softly, "just knowing that you wanted to do that much means a lot, really."

Colin gave a small smile. "You can ask Hac, I was planning on spending the rest of my life without any family. You three changed that; you gave me family before I had a chance to notice it and run away. I'm only comfortable with adopting Glen because you guys have got it through my head finally that I'm not damaged goods. Just so you know, the three of you are listed as his Godfathers; the first one of you that argues gets to wrestle with Hac while he's in wolf form."

"Promise?" Lucas and Logan giggled in unison. "It sounds like fun!"

"Yeah, you're definitely Colin's brothers!" Hac giggled. "Not an ounce of sanity!"

"Since you're my brother as well, that says a lot!" Colin grinned. "You do realize that Dad's gonna be wanting to adopt you once he meets you, don't you?"

Hac's eyebrows raised. "You know how..."

"I know that Father would kick your furry ass for not taking the opportunity," Colin interrupted. "Ardell will back me on this, bro, so don't even try to fight it."

"But..." Hac tried again.

"You do realize that we'll help our big bro kick your butt, don't you?" Logan warned. "You saved Colin's life, then you saved it again by giving him part of you. You ain't too old to be taught family Clan-style."

Hac tried to open his mouth again, only to close it when two more people joined them, one of which seemed to be a hologram. "Thanks for the sync, Ezzy." the golden haired eleven-year-old hologram said.

"No problem, Klaus." Ezzy grinned. "Guys, the see-through guy is Klaus, and his solid friend is Ardell."

Ardell wordlessly walked over to Hac and wrapped his arms around him. "You know, after all this time, you're still just as hard headed as ever." he giggled.

"Tell them..." Hac started.

Ardell grinned. "Guys, thanks for giving Hac what he's needed since Father passed on. He's earned another family, and yours is the perfect one. A family that's also a strike team fits awesome."

Klaus giggled. "You're not alone, Hac. Julio and I just confirmed with Frank and Nancy Morrison their intention to adopt Ardell."

"You WHAT!" Ardell exclaimed as he spun around.

"Hey, if Grandma Morrison decides her son and daughter-in-law are gonna adopt me, I'm not gonna leave my first and best brother hanging." Klaus said seriously.

Ardell smiled. "You put it that way, I can't argue. How's this going to affect our collected family?"

"I called for an emergency vote in the Circle when the offer was made. As you know, the Circle is sitting in session until we stand down from this operation," Klaus explained. "Since it involved you and Hac, Geoff and I agreed it would be best to not unbalance the vote by having two affected persons sitting on the Circle. The Elders have learned from the experience with Haden; with issues regarding Clan Short they now move quickly. Geoff barely finished his explanation of what was being offered before the Elders called it to a vote; the real-time polls went nuts. All of us agree that despite your statements saying otherwise after Father passed, you really need a family to call your own again; in fact there was a forty percent approval within minutes of the question. As the one that pushed for our first meeting with Clan Short, the Elders believe that accepting the honor of being adopted by a Clan family is fitting. The final determination was that you being part of Clan Short is a logical step in the direction we are now going, and the Circle has no issues with you expanding the Society to include both of your families if you so choose to go this route."

"Julio," Ardell giggled, "you and I are going to have to sit down and figure out just when we lost control of our own lives."

"I already figured it out!" Julio laughed. "It was when Cory was born!"

"You may be right," Ardell grinned. "Now, Hac? Are you going to go meet your new family nicely while I'm meeting mine, or do I have to set your newest little brothers loose on you?"

Hac shook his head with a grin. "Colin? What is it our family has about pledging our support to overbearing tyrants?"

Colin shrugged. "Hey, as long as they continue paying us with fresh cookies, why complain?"

"Good point, bro!" Hac laughed. "By the way, the temperature changes you guys felt? While my body contains the mass to transform, during the transformation it either draws energy from the surrounding air or bleeds it off, mattering if I'm expanding or contracting."

Julio nodded. "That actually makes it make more sense."

"Now that we've settled that!" Ezra giggled, "Guys, the parents are waiting for you over in Vets. You wanna walk or take the Mikyvis taxi?"

"WALK!" Julio exclaimed. "I've seen you driving, Squirt!"

"Chicken!" Ezzy giggled. "Bubble's dropping, have fun guys, I'll see you yesterday, tomorrow!" Ezzy then pulled two cookies out of thin air, and tossed one to Ardell before taking a bite out of the other and vanishing.

Forty-five minutes later:

Grandma Morrison watched with satisfaction as her latest plot played out. Klaus' image was deep in conversation with Nancy Morrison, while Ardell was perched on Frank's lap with his head pressed against Frank's shoulder, obviously not planning on going anywhere soon. The Morrison kids and their partners made their rounds back and forth, welcoming their new brothers with hugs when they could, and words when they couldn't.

The next table over, Bob Busch was busy with his own expansion. Grandma had been busy; not only was Hac joining his family, but Brudei got roped in as well. As the rest of the family gave their support, Colin opened up about his past while sitting on Bob's lap; Hac and Brudei assisted from their guard stations cuddled up to either side of their new Dad.

Julio grinned as an evil thought hit his head. 'Kerry, start the log. Get Klaus on channel as well.' Julio ordered via subvocal.

Jesse and Benny noticed the look on Julio's face and began giggling. "What?" Haden asked curiously as him, Mouse, and Barrett looked around.

"Watch Julio!" Benny whispered. "Paybacks are a bitch!"

"It looks like you're having fun, Grandma!" Julio said innocently as he walked up to Grandma and Trevois. "Me, Jesse and Benny just adopted Mouse, and thanks to you Trev can call both of the furballs his nephews."

Grandma's eyebrows vanished behind her hairline. "Could you clarify that, Director?"

"I heard that you commented that if Trev was your son he'd never have to worry about the things he went through ever again. His response that he wished something like that could happen was enough, I approved the adoption on the spot. You have an appointment in the Klaus medical bay for a medical refresh at 3 pm local time tomorrow; I have instructed your grandsons to ensure you appear and comply with all directions."

"And if I don't?" Grandma asked.

"Do you really want to cross me, Grandma?" Julio replied seriously.

Grandma tried to stare Julio down once again, giving up after five minutes. "Excuse me Director, I must get more appropriate transportation from the motor pool for my new son." As Grandma pulled her still-shocked newest son into a hug, she added "Watch and learn from Julio, he does more things right by accident than people who have trained all their lives for leadership."

Once Grandma and Trev vanished out the door on her four-wheeler, Frank stated loudly "Everyone, a round of applause for our Director, the only being to stand up to my mother TWICE and walk away the victor!"

"Yeah Daddy!" Terry, Felix, Lyle, Bobby, Bruce, Kent, Kurt, Riley, Reese, and Kanin exclaimed as they executed a mass pounce, Not wanting to be left out, Jesse, Benny, and Mouse quickly joined the pile. Off to the side of the room, Fyhrr just stood their, shaking his branches in laughter.

Hearing the rustling of Fhyrr's branches, Hac quickly shifted his focus from laughing at Julio's plight to a possible issue. "Why is that tree moving?" he muttered as he began to stand.

Overhearing the mutter, Bob pulled Hac back towards him. "Don't worry, that's just Fyhrr." Bob quickly explained. "He's just laughing at what his brothers are doing to his dad."

"What the hell?" Hac exclaimed as he stared at Bob in shock.

Colin giggled. "He's an Archnanian tree, bro. They are sentient, and the young ones are quite mobile. He's training to join Johnny's intel team, and he thought it would be good practice to guard the food."

"How do I get one of those pill bottles like Julio has issued to me?" Hac whined as he held his head.

Seconds later, a squirrel came running up carrying a pill bottle in his mouth. He jumped up on Hac's lap, dropped the bottle, chattered, then hopped off and ran away.

"He said Johnny sent it as a welcome to the family gift." Colin laughed as another squirrel delivered a matching bottle to Brudei.

"After almost forty thousand years," Brudei chuckled, "Hac finally loses his sanity because of a tree!"

"Stuff it!" Hac giggled as he gave Brudei a playful swat.

A few minutes later, things were somewhat back to normal. Julio was just about recovered from the pileup when Kerry announced "Incoming friendlies, Boss!"

"Thanks, Brat!" Julio replied as he stood up to greet whoever was appearing next. To his surprise, he actually recognized three of the five new arrivals before they fully solidified. "Hey, Bruce!" Julio said with relief.

"How you holding up, Julio?" Bruce Collins asked with concern. "I would've been back sooner, but we were out touring the Grand Canyon; it took a bit for Kerry to be able to get a good lock on us."

"Don't worry, Bruce, it's fine," Julio assured him. "You gonna introduce the new guys?"

Noticing that Julio avoided his most important question, which was an answer in itself, Bruce nodded. "You know my two rats; the older of my new responsibilities is my nephew Nathan, the mini version of him is his little brother Lucas."

Julio looked over at Nathan first. He looked to be thirteen, with blond hair that was short on the sides and a little longer on top. He was about five foot four, and his eyes captured Julio even before Julio noticed that the left one was blue and the right was green.

"He thinks you're hot and wonders if his boyfriends will let you join the family!" Lucas blurted out, his seven-year-old face sporting a huge grin.

Even the AI's were unable to tell who turned into a tomato faster, Nathan or Julio. Bruce reacted quickly, however; pulling Lucas out of immediate strangling range of his brother. "That didn't take long!" Bruce muttered as he waited for the explosion.

Julio recovered first. "Telepathic little brothers are a pain, ain't they?" he giggled as he reached out to shake Nathan's hand. "Welcome to Des Moines, I'm Julio, the Director of this zoo."

"Thanks!" Nathan replied, obviously still embarrassed about his little brother's outburst.

Noticing that, Julio added "Dude, eight of my twelve kids are telepathic twins, there's nothing that Lucas can do that they ain't done to me at least once already. I'm guessing you're going to be moving to Headquarters with your Uncle Bruce; if so, the Double J's will help him get things under control... after they help him embarrass half of the command staff."

"You serious?" Nathan asked cautiously.

"Yep," Julio grinned. "The Telepaths keep their skills honed by providing comic relief when things get too serious. The ones you gotta watch for are the Telekenetics; they'll toss you in a pool from the other side of the room, or Eli will have his pet Leg chase you around the house."

Nathan tilted his head. "So you're saying being weird is normal here?"

"Nobody's weird here," Julio replied, "at least nobody under twenty. Some of the adults I really wonder about, though. Wait until you meet my Dad!"

Guessing that Nathan would need a few seconds to absorb the Clan difference, Julio turned to Lucas. As he turned, he saw Nathan shift to an offensive posture, obviously protective of his little brother. Julio dropped to his knee to seem less threatening, and then said "Lucas, come here a sec please."

It took a nod from Bruce before Lucas would move, but he then slowly moved towards Julio, his greyish-blue eyes wet with tears. "I'm sorry." Lucas whispered.

Once Lucas was close enough, Julio slowly reached up to rustle the young boy's messy short blond hair. Julio noticed, however, that his slow movement was half the speed he was intending for some reason. "You're fine, little guy, I'm not mad. In fact, I'm happy that you can do that; right now things are really nuts and telepaths are good. Have you learned to transmit yet?"

Surprised that this big kid wasn't yelling at him, Lucas shook his head. "How do ya' do that?"

"I don't know myself, but my little brother does." Julio admitted. "Let me see if he's available; if so maybe you two can sit down and teach each other stuff."

"Wow! Thanks!" Lucas replied with a grin. "That'll be cool!"

"Go give your big bro a hug, Lucas." Julio said with a grin as he stood up. 'That's funny, why do I feel so sluggish?' Julio pondered.

Noticing how Julio was moving, Bruce turned his head. "Nathan..." he said, leaving the sentence hanging.

"What?" Nathan answered innocently.

"You know what," Bruce replied seriously. "Julio is the Director of a Division of Clan Short; lay off."

"But..." Nathan started to reply before Lucas wrapped his arms around his big brother.

"He's okay, bro," Lucas whispered. "He's nice, he don't like hurting people."

Nathan nodded, and suddenly Julio found himself moving normally. Julio looked over at Nathan and made sure that he saw the smile Julio was giving him.

Tapping his commbadge, Julio said out loud "Eddie, are you clear to sit down with a really good telepath who's just a little younger than you?"

"Yeah, bro. Cerrt is pretty much running things right now on this end, I'm just reviewing stuff that needs double checked. I'll bring Johnny too, he won't take a break just like you."

"Okay, both of you get your little butts over here then, we have pizza!" Julio giggled.

"Where!" Johnny and Eddie exclaimed as they suddenly appeared behind Julio.

"Over there!" Julio shouted from shock as he tried to slow down his heart. 

"Go on with your friends," Bruce told Casey and Tina as they started with the puppy-dog eyes. The two youngsters took off like rockets, Casey almost hitting Julio on his way past.

Julio rejoined Nathan and Lucas. "C'mon, grab some food!" he offered. "Nathan, you and me need to sit down with Colin and Hac. That's a pretty unique thing you did; mattering on how you do it, that would be great for the guys who guard the Directors to know. those two can figure out if it is able to be imitated."

"I'll tell them, but Mom and Dad can't figure out how I do it. I just can." Nathan replied.

"That's kewl, Nathan," Julio nodded. "you're gonna meet a lot of guys and girls with unique skills in the Clan. You won't make friends because of your skills, but the ton of friends you make will appreciate your skill. You earned my respect when you used it on me to make sure that your little bro was safe; that told me more about you than a thousand questions could."

"Has anyone ever told you that you're weird?" Nathan asked with a grin.

"Yeah," Julio laughed, "Cory did just before making me a Director!"

"Nath'?" Lucas interrupted. "Can I go get some pizza? Casey's there to watch me!"

Finally starting to relax, Nathan nodded. "Go on, save some for me!"

Julio watched with a smile as Nathan's eyes didn't leave his little brother until he was sure Lucas was safe with Casey. "You really love your little bro, don't you?"

Nathan nodded. "Yeah, he can be a pain sometimes, but he's my bro and he trusts me to protect him."

"I understand," Julio replied as he tilted his head towards the giggling group of boys raiding the pizza. "The two munchkins that popped in unannounced are my little brothers Johnny and Eddie. They were one of the Division's first rescues before we were really a Division. I made Mom and Dad adopt them, and I've watched as they grew from being scared of their own shadows into little wonders who do everything they can to emulate me. It's kinda weird knowing that you have someone looking at you and thinking that you can do no wrong, but it's a good weird and it helps me remember to do the right thing so I don't disappoint them."

Nathan grinned. "Tell me about it!" Wordlessly, he tilted his head to look behind them.

Julio turned and smiled. Heading towards them were Lucas and Johnny, both carrying plates piled high with pizza. "We brought you a snack!" Lucas announced proudly.

"Thanks, little bro!" both Nathan and Julio replied in unison as their little brothers reached them, causing all four to giggle.

Note from AC:

Due to the authors of Klaus not being able to continue it, I am bringing it into the storyline via events within the chapters themselves. Klaus as a story has been placed under Fan Fiction, as there are things happening in the CSU which might invalidate some assumptions made during the initial writing. I will bring in sections as I can, some possibly as excerpts in side chapters to go along with the main storyline. Please be patient as I work out ways to ensure that all the hard work that has been done is not lost!