Sentenced to Life

Co-Written By: ACFan & Boudreaux

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Without giving anyone a chance to ‘Help’ him, Marc broke out in a run for the basement with Jerry leading the way. He stopped for a second as Jerry opened the door and a small cloud of smoke billowed out into the hallway. “Stay here!” He almost shouted as he pushed Jerry away from the door and hurriedly made his way to the bottom of the stairs with Noah and Alec right behind him. Just as Jerry described, smoke was literally pouring out of the computer Joey was connected to. A smaller amount of smoke was visibly coming out of the open access port on the back of Joey’s head and his body seemed to be involuntarily convulsing as the power seemed to be arcing within the terminal. With one swift kick, Marc was able to break the connection, as well as the computer it was attached to.

“What happened?” Eli asked as he cautiously crept his way to the bottom of the stairs with Benji right behind him. “He’s not really on fire is he?”

“No.” Marc replied as he waved at the smoke in a futile attempt to clear it away. “I should have come down here with him when he hooked Joey in for his nap.”

“Benji, could you start opening some of the windows to help clear some of this smoke while I help Marc?” Eli asked as he and Marc rolled Joey on his side and attempted to unlatch the connector while Noah disconnected the computer’s AC cord.

“No problem.” Benji replied running for the windows, flipping each open.

“It’s melted too badly.” Marc snapped as he continued to try to get a grip on the molten plastic clips holding the connector in place, only being able to touch it briefly before jerking his hand away in pain. “OW! Leave it til it cools off.”

“Is it safe to come down?” Austin shouted from the top of the stairwell.

“Yeah.” Marc answered as he and Eli laid Joey back down and then simply stood and looked at Joey’s twitching little face.

“Is he in pain?” Noah asked after trying to feel Joey’s forehead and jumping back as Joey broke into another fit of convulsions.

“I hope not.” Marc replied as Jerry and Austin reached the bottom of the stairwell followed by Alec, Mary, Jon and JR.

“What did I do wrong?” Jerry cried as he reached the side of the table, his voice seeming to calm the convulsions, if only a little.

“You didn’t do anything wrong.” Marc said as he opened the medical kit on the workbench and pulled out the tricorder, switching it on and approaching the table. “I think it was that old computer. It looks like the power supply fried.” He said as he continued to try to figure out how the tricorder worked. “Noah? Do you know how to work this thing? I need to scan for brain activity.”

Noah took the unit from Marc and started the scan. “I don’t understand these readings but this might help.” He said as he handed it back to Marc.

“Oh man… There’s so much damage.” Marc almost sighed and shook his head in disbelief. “It was his power supply that failed, not the computer’s.” Marc added showing it to Noah.

“Dah… dahd…” Came a sound from the table.

“Oh my god!” Marc choked out. “He’s regaining consciousness.”

“I’m here Joey. I’m right here, can you see me?” Jerry asked with a sniffle as he grabbed Joey’s hand.

“Ih… Ih id sweepee ahn id ho… hod im hewe…” Joey managed to get out before his small body convulsed once again.

“Marc we gotta shut him down.” Jerry cried out as a loud crackling sound could be heard from within Joey’s head.

“Dad! What’s his manual override command? We can isolate his brain from the failed power supply and power it down.” Austin said quickly as he stared at Marc intently waiting for his answer.

“He doesn’t have one.” Marc replied looking Austin in the eyes. “His build is Cynthetilife. Standard commands won’t operate the same in his case. The connection can’t be cut off.”

Austin exhaled loudly as he watched Joey’s eyes open once again. “Aouw… Aushim? We… ware ish dahdee?” Joey managed to get out with a trembling voice.

“I’m right here, I’m not leaving.” Jerry answered in as soothing a voice as he could manage.

“Ih cannow she eauh… Ih sweepee.” Joey got out, but stopped suddenly as he could here Jerry sniffling. “Id oday Dahddee. Isa gunna sweep ahn be oday.”

“Yeah.” Jerry coughed out. “Go to sleep little guy. I’ll be right here.” He said as he watched Joey relax and close his eyes.

Everyone froze as they watched Joey twitch one last time, and then take one final deep breath before becoming completely still. Jerry’s eyes widened as he realized Joey wasn’t breathing and he silently stood up from the table. Tears now streaming down his cheeks, he leaned over and kissed Joey on the forehead before turning and running to his father and burying his face in his chest. “He’s gone!” Jerry sobbed into his father’s shirt as Jon hugged his son.

“What just happened?” Austin asked as he redirected his gaze toward Marc. “Dad, what just happened?”

“Total systems failure.” Marc replied closing the tricorder and handing it to Noah.

“What caused it?” Austin asked again watching Marc slowly sit down in a nearby chair.

“His power supply was unstable apparently.” Marc answered, nodding to Jon and Mary as they motioned that they were bringing Jerry back upstairs.

“Then replace it.” Austin almost demanded with tears welling up in his own eyes.

“I can’t. The power surge destroyed large sections of his positronic matrix. The damage isn’t reversible.” Marc said resting his elbows on his knees and leaning his face into his hands.

“That can’t happen!” Austin exclaimed. “Normal protocol in the event of a power supply malfunction with THEM is to sever all fuseable links to the brain. He just needs a new power cell and those links replaced, right?”

“No.” Marc replied sitting upright once again. “He doesn’t have a Cynthetilife brain. It’s one of ours. Those links needed to be bypassed to include a power inverter so his power supply would be compatible with his brain. When his power cell failed, It overloaded the inverter and blasted his matrix with a surge that completely destroyed a few large portions of his systems.” Marc answered as he sat back and looked Austin in the eyes. “He’s probably better off now, in that body, he would never have matured right.”

“BULLSHIT!” Austin shouted as he swept Joey’s mussed hair off of his forehead. “He should have been built right in the first place. Whose idea was it to put him in this junk anyway?”

Marc looked at the floor before clearing his throat and answering; “It was mine. The equipment was in good working order when he was assembled. It’s impossible to tell the condition of the power cell until it’s in practical use.”

“Oh.” Austin replied before sniffling and gently stroking his fallen brother’s head. “What can we do for him now?”

“If anything, we may have to start over. Meaning a new personality upload into a new brain in another body.” Marc answered watching Austin’s eyes open wider with each word.

“Won’t you lose the real Joey that way?” Alec asked putting his hand on Marc’s shoulder.

“Yeah. He’d lose all that he became since his activation.” Marc answered as he watched Austin attempt to hold back the tears. “We can bring him back, but it will be a new activation and there’s no promising that this could never happen again.”

“Unless we do it the RIGHT way!” Austin barked. “You don’t know that he’s not recoverable! We could at least try to recover him.” He got out before the flood walls broke. “He’s my little brother… he can’t be gone… I wanna try!”

Marc slowly approached the table and opened his arms. “We’ll try.” he managed to get out before Austin turned and buried his face in his father’s shoulder. “Give Jerry some time to decide what he wants done.”

“Done about what?” Jerry asked as he slowly walked back down the stairs with Antonio and Byron close behind. His face still tear stained and puffy.

Noah met Jerry at the bottom of the stairs and gave him a hug before answering; “Jerry’s older brother wants to try to help him if he can.”

“His brain isn’t ruined?” Jerry asked with a sniffle.

“It is, but we don’t know how badly yet.” Eli answered as the group gathered around the table. “We can all help, I mean I don’t know anything about this stuff, but I can learn.”

“Me too.” Benji added while wrapping his arm around Eli’s waist. “The little guy deserves to have us try at least.”

“You know we’ll help.” Antonio added with Byron nodding in agreement as they both rubbed Jerry’s shoulders.

“Marc, why don’t you give Danny a call and let him know what happened. We’ll discuss what we can do down here and see if we can’t come up with a plan, okay?” Noah stated as everyone around the table looked up at him. “Alec, you guys are gonna be leaving soon, why don’t you go up with Marc, let everyone know the situation down here is under control.” Noah added motioning to Marc to go ahead upstairs. “Could you send Caleb down? We may need a few more hands.”

“Okay, let me know what you guys come up with.” Marc said before heading up the stairs pulling out his communicator and heading for the back deck. Once he was seated and Alec ran off to help with the cleanup, he took a deep breath and initiated the call. “Marc to Danny.”

“Danny here, you miss me already Bro? It’s been what 20 minutes, if that?”

“Yeah.” Marc said with a forced laugh. “I called to report an incident bro.”

“A what? What happened?”

“There was an instability in Joey’s power supply. His brain suffered total system failure about 10 minutes ago.”

“Oh no. Is Jerry okay? Oh my god, is Austin alright?”

“Everyone’s fine, just shook up. Noah, Austin and Jerry have a team on it now. We need to assess the damage before going any further.” Marc said, his eyes welling up with tears again. “I should have never suggested that body.” Marc got out with a sniffle.

“Easy little brother. You didn’t know what Jerry’s biomechanical knowledge was at the time. You made the right decision to let him do it himself.”

Marc inhaled deeply and swallowed hard before answering; “But that decision cost Joey his life.” He got out as Caleb slowly approached the stairs to the deck.

“Don’t think that way. Worst case we start over, he’ll lose a little of his past but will still be Joey. Let the guys work on the issue. You rest up, and make sure Austin does too.”

Marc smiled weakly at Caleb as he pulled him into a half hug while he continued his conversation. “There’s no way I can pull him off this project, he was so upset.”

“Then don’t sweat it. Jerry and Noah won’t let him over do it. You’ve got a good team on it. Let them work some magic for you. You need to keep your head straight so you’ll be there for them when they need you.”

“He’s right you know.” Caleb whispered into Marc’s ear.

“Okay bro. We should have a definite answer for you by the time you come home.” Marc said wiping his eyes. “Thanks by the way.”

“Thanks? For what?”

“For reminding me I’m not alone anymore. Coping with issues like this has always been just me alone, and it can be so hard sometimes. I guess I kinda forgot that these guys are just as capable.” Marc said as he leaned into Caleb’s hug.

“No prob. If I hadn’t reminded ya, they sure as hell would have. *Giggle* I’m a quick call away if ya need me, okay?”

Marc smiled and sniffled as he answered; “Okay, thanks for the kick in the butt bro. Love ya.”

“Anytime! Love you too. Danny out.”

Marc closed his communicator, wrapped his arms around Caleb and let out a sigh. “Thank god you guys are here.”

“I will. You may wanna Thank Mikey and Davie too.” Caleb said with a giggle as he broke the hug. “Gotta get downstairs; you need anything, just yell.”

“I will, thanks.” Marc replied with a smile as he watched the team finish cleaning up from lunch. “Hey Doc!” He shouted as he noticed Doc Austin carrying some boxes toward the Owens’ house.

“Hey Marc. How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay. Um… Can I ask a question?” Marc hesitantly asked.

“Always.” Doc answered setting the boxes on the steps and sat down with Marc. “What’s on your mind?”

“Well, we just had a problem and I’m not sure how to handle it.” Marc explained shrugging his shoulders. “We… um… Jerry’s son just suffered a total system failure.”

“Oh no. What can I do to help?” The doctor asked placing his hand on Marc’s.

“Well, I have a team working to find out if an imprint extraction is possible. We don’t know if his personality was lost yet.” Marc said beginning to tear up again. “We have all the materials needed to activate a new body but, we don’t have the equipment. The Panda is in use still and the Biobed has already been dedicated to activating the implants for Eli.” Marc got out with a sniffle. “Is there any way we can borrow a second Biobed? I mean this accident is hurting Jerry and his family as well as Austin and I don’t want to see them hurt any more for any longer.”

“Give me a second.” Doc said as he pulled out his communicator. “Doctor Michaels to Doctor Herron.”

“Herron here. What can I do for ya Austin?”

“Chris, can I get an update with the Naval Hospital setup.” Doc asked smiling at Marc.

“Not even a full 24 hours and you’re already getting pushy. Some things never change. Hehehe.”

“You have no idea. Our AI Division has had an emergency and I need to assess what resources we have available, if any. Give me good news, we need it.” Doc said, sitting back in his chair.

“You’re not joking, are you?”

“Not this time, no.” Doc Austin replied winking at Marc earning a grin.

“Okay, then I have some good news for you. Structurally the hospital checked out for the most part. The power is sub-standard for what we’re going to need but, we have the new ER up at about 70% functional with equipment still arriving. I’ll be brave and say 90% by day’s end. Level 1 and level 6 transporter rooms are still nonfunctional but in the process of being set up. Levels 2,3,4 and 5 are undergoing a total remodeling and are not usable yet, all Levels above those haven’t even been approached yet. Correction, level 10 cargo transporter is being installed but also won’t be functioning for quite some time.”

“Chris, we need access to at least a couple of Bio-beds and possibly an OR with AI capabilities. Is that possible?” Doc asked, tapping his fingers on the table.

“Absolutely. I’ll have a team set up OR-1 for you and we can have 2 portable beds with AI upgrades available immediately if needed. Will that work for you?”

“Marc? Does that sound okay?” Doc asked with a smile as he watched Marc’s mouth hang open in amazement.

“Um… Oh god yeah!” Marc replied with a huge smile. “We just need time to get everything together.”

“Chris, I’ll arrange a site to site transport through Terra Main for the equipment and Dr. Furst’s team. I don’t think they’ll need assistance to get set up but I’d appreciate it if you could remain available for them, if that’s at all possible.” Doc Austin said with a smile.

“Consider it done Austin. Have Dr. Furst notify me when he’s ready to send his equipment. I’ll see to the setup personally.”

“Thanks Chris, I owe you one.” Doc replied.

“You owe me a few. Hahaha! Herron out.”

“You guys didn’t waste any time.” Marc said with a grin.

“Nope. The plan was to get you guys as functional as possible in the best time we could manage. Now if we have the materials needed to begin work on Joey, we’ll just transport him, whatever equipment you need and your team directly to the hospital. I’d plan to leave security in place here and a small team to continue with the local set up. That will give you all the time you need, as well as continue development on site here.” Doc said with a smile. “Does that help a little?”

“Are you kidding?” Marc said as he jumped up from his seat and almost tackled Doc with a hug. “That’s just amazing. I don’t know how to thank you.”

“Bring Jerry his son back. That’ll be thanks enough for me.” He replied as he stood up and picked the boxes back up. “I’ll notify Terra Main that you will require medical transport so they will be expecting your call when you are ready.” He added, smiling when Marc’s communicator chirped. “I’ll see you before we leave.”

“Okay. Thanks again.” Marc replied as he opened his communicator. “Marc Here.”

“Marc, this is Alec. You’re needed at the security shack as soon as possible.”

“Something wrong?” Marc asked as he began to walk off the deck to go out front.

“No, your new security team needs to check in.”

“New security team? Already?” Marc asked in shock. “Is Will with them?”

“Yup, he says he’s in no real rush if you’re busy.”

“Oh, okay. I’ll be there in an hour or so then.” Marc said with a giggle as he turned the corner and waved at them.

“Exactly one hour, in ANDROID time.” Alec quipped with a laugh once Marc reached the group.

“Marc, I’d like to introduce you to Junior Cadet Lieutenant Edward Fraser. He’ll be reporting to you directly.” Will said as the teenager stood at attention.

“Reporting for duty sir.” The Cadet announced and saluted.

“Um… At ease lieutenant?” Marc almost questioned looking to Will for direction, who simply smiled and nodded.

“Eddie, This is Doctor Marc Furst, He is the Clan’s AI Division Medical Director, Acting Division head at this time.” Will said and turned to Marc. “Marc, I’d like you to meet one of our finest. Junior Cadet Lieutenant Fraser has been in our program for two years, has successfully completed his primary training and is currently one of the few Cadets we have who have completed courses through Starfleet Academy as well as be authorized to handle firearms while on duty.”

“Wow, sounds like you’ve been working hard.” Marc said with a smile.

“Yes sir. This is my first real assignment.” Eddie said proudly. “I’ve acted as secondary security for our local law enforcement, I’m listed as on reserve with Starfleet and have even completed my primary defense training through the Academy. I can provide you with transcripts from all courses if you require them.”

“That won’t be necessary Mr. Fraser. I’m sure Will must have quite a bit of confidence in your abilities to have placed you in charge.” Marc said as he turned to Alec. “Alec, do you think you could give Eddie a run down on the policies JJ and Matt put in place? Maybe give him a tour of the property and let him meet a few of the guys before the rest of you head for home.”

“No prob Marc.” Alec replied as he grabbed Eddie’s arm. “C’mon! Everyone’s out at the beach.”

As Will and Marc watched Alec practically drag Eddie around the side of the house, Will put his hand on Marc’s shoulder. “He requested this assignment.”

Marc tilted his head in question and motioned toward the steps to sit down. “Anything I should know about him then?” Marc asked as they took a seat.

“Well for one, out of all our Cadets, he really is one of the most dedicated I have seen in quite some time. After his parents divorced, he joined our summer program and since then has buried himself in his training.” Will said leaning back and resting on his elbows. “Between his training, school and working part time for his father, I have no idea when he’s had a chance to just be a kid. This placement is actually a blessing in disguise.”

Marc looked at Will with a puzzled expression. “How? This will just give him more work. Won’t it?”

Will chuckled and sat forward. “Yup, but it will be one thing to focus on. He spreads himself too thin.” He said as he stood back up. “Let him concentrate on this position and hand off some of his other work. I’ve seen how you guys interact with each other. He may take your lead and break down and be himself now and then.”

“Ahhh. I gotcha.” Marc replied as he walked Will back to his patrol car. “You think he’s up for some ‘Clan’ training?”

“I hope so.” Will replied with a chuckle. “If not I think he’s in for a pretty wild ride.” He continued as he got in and started the car. “I’ll be bringing 4 Cadets out in about 3 hours. Eddie will handle them once he is situated. He’ll handle scheduling shifts as well as reporting directly to you, Danny and Matt as required.” He added as he put the car into gear. “I think you’ll be impressed with his performance.”

“If he can get situated in under 3 hours, I think I will be.” Marc said with a laugh as Will nodded and pulled out of the driveway.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“Nonono! We really need to make that decision now.” Austin was saying as Marc wandered down the stairs.

“Report Mr. Short!” Marc barked out with a giggle, earning laughs from the entire group.

“Me?” Austin asked with a confused look on his face as he looked up from the computer screen.

“Who else would I be talking to?” Marc said with a smile. “It is legally Short now you know. Your last name I mean.”

“Sorry Dad.” Austin replied with a smile. “It’s just gonna take some getting used to.”

Marc smiled as he looked at the computer screen Austin was working on. “Is that what I think it is?” He asked in amazement as he pointed at the screen and looked his son in the eyes. “You got it?!?”

Austin’s smile widened as Jerry turned the corner with an arm load of parts, followed by Noah who was carrying an entire upper torso endoskeletal structure. “ALL of him!” Jerry exclaimed with a bounce in his step. “I couldn’t believe it either!” He continued as he placed the parts he was carrying into a box next to the table Joey’s lifeless body was still occupying.

“Awesome job guys!” Marc almost shouted as he giggled watching Noah fumble with the torso before setting it next to the box.

“You could build an army with the parts you have in there.” Noah said as he walked over to an empty chair and plopped down. “Worse than a squirrel storing nuts for the winter.” He added with a giggle.

“Hey, don’t pick on my nuts!” Marc said bursting out in laughter. “They came in handy tonight, didn’t they?”

“Your nuts came in handy? Whatever Squirrel boy!” Noah half laughed out. “I’d keep that to yourself if I were you.”

“Has everyone beamed out?” Caleb asked as he wandered out of the store room carrying a set of youth legs.

“Yeah, a few minutes ago.” Marc replied as he looked into the doorway of the storeroom and saw Eli levitating and moving large cartons of parts around the room as Benji pointed at the items he wanted. “That’s how you got this stuff so fast?”

“Yup.” Jerry answered as he looked at Austin. “I don’t know what to decide on.” He said as if continuing a previous conversation.

“What are you deciding?” Marc asked as he grabbed a chair and sat next to Austin.

“He needs to decide on the primary DNA string so we can assemble the body and begin the activation as soon as the Biobed is free.” Austin answered redirecting his stare toward Jerry. “He can’t make up his mind though.”

“What are your thoughts Doctor? Maybe we can help.” Marc suggested with a smile.

Jerry wrinkled his nose in deep thought before looking at Joey’s body. “I want him to be Joey. I mean similar to this.” He said gesturing toward the table. “I know I want to do a DNA cross for his family heritage, but I don’t know how to get a sample from one of the most important people.”

“You lost me.” Marc said as he sat back in his chair.

“Okay. I want his DNA to include mine, but be crossed with his brothers and his uncle.” Jerry said as he watched Marc nod his head. “Mine is no problem to get, Austin and Timmy are already crossed so a sample from Austin will biologically make Timmy his half brother, but he was designed to look more like Davie. I can’t choose Davie’s dominant characteristics if I can’t get a DNA sample from him. I kinda wanted his DNA to be predominant” Jerry said as if in defeat.

“Maybe your parents have a clipping of baby hair or something you can use.” Caleb suggested.

“No, my mom told me that all Davie’s baby pictures and stuff like that were lost years before he was adopted.” Jerry replied.

“The police may have a sample.” Marc said causing Jerry to shrug his shoulders.

“That could take months to get though, if they even filed his DNA.” Jerry argued.

“Did you oil it yet?” A voice seemed to come from where Noah was sitting.

“Huh?” Jerry asked looking toward Noah as Davie’s form materialized in the chair next to him, causing Austin to gasp.

“My glove. You forgot didn’t you?” Davie asked with a smile and a shrug of his shoulders as Jerry ran over and tackled him with a hug.

“Yeah, sorry. I’ve been really busy.” Jerry answered as he plopped himself in his brother’s lap.

“I noticed that.” Davie answered as he winked at Marc. “Just make sure before you oil it, you clean that blood stain out of the inside palm. You remember when I cut myself climbing the park fence to chase after that WILD PITCH of yours.” Davie said with a laugh. “I never did get around to cleaning it out.”

“Yeah, I remember that. You were trying to teach me how to pitch.” Jerry said with a giggle as he looked over at Marc and Austin and smiled. “I was awful. Threw it way over his head and he had to hop the fence to go get it. Cut the palm of his hand pretty bad on the top of the fence but kept playin… Wait a minute!”

Davie laughed as his brother jumped up out of his lap. “And he’s supposed to be the smart one.” He said pointing at Jerry, earning laughs from everyone in the room.

“We got your DNA!!!” Jerry literally shouted, hopping around like he was about to burst. “I gotta go get it! We need that to Map Joey’s DNA structure. We can extract it with the Medical Tricorder!” He continued to ramble as he ran for the stairs and then turned as if he forgot something. Running full speed back toward Davie, he shouted “Thanks Dork!” as he gave his brother a bear hug and then ran full speed up the stairs.

“Has he always been that excitable?” Caleb asked with a giggle.

“No, but you have no idea how good it is to see.” Davie said as he began to fade. “Tell Booger Brain I still want it oiled.” He said as he disappeared.

As the boys all giggled, Austin simply sat and stared at the now empty chair. “That was Jerry’s brother?” He asked looking over at Marc. “Is he a ghost?”

“Angel.” Caleb said with a smile. “You do believe in angels, don’t you?”

“Well… yeah. But I never planned on having proof.” Austin answered tilting his head in disbelief.

“Wait til you meet your Uncle Mikey.” Marc said as he stood up from his seat. “Once Jerry gets back, we need to get this stuff ready for transport.”

“Transport?” Antonio asked as he looked up from the biobed’s control panel.

“Well, yeah. We have a ton of work to do.” Marc started. “We have Eli’s prosthetics to work with, Joey’s activation to handle and Kevin getting ready to come online. None of the new systems are functional yet and we don’t have the equipment we need to get it all done here. Not to mention the house doesn’t have the power to run all of the equipment we’ll need.”

“So where are we transporting all this stuff too then?” Byron asked as all the boys looked at Marc.

Marc smiled as he began to slide the boxes closer to the biobed with Caleb and Noah helping. “Doc Austin arranged it so we have some medical capabilities at the new hospital.”

“Already?!?” Noah asked with a gasp. “Wow they aren’t messing around!” He continued as Jerry bounded down the stairs with his brother’s baseball glove in his hand.

“Not at all. We’ll have the equipment we need to get all of this up and running there, as well as an operating room when we’re ready for Eli’s implants.” Marc said as the boys continued to load up boxes and roll equipment over next to the biobed.

“That reminds me.” Jerry said as he grabbed Antonio and whispered into his ear before both ran into the store room.

“They’re up to something.” Austin said with a giggle as everyone watched the doorway until they both returned, Jerry hiding something behind his back.

“Benji, Marc… Can we talk to you both?” Antonio asked as Jerry began to grin.

“We’re in trouble.” Marc said to Benji with a grin. “What’s up guys?”

“Well, we was workin on getting the stuff ready for Eli when we had an idea.” Antonio started. “Benji, give Jerry your left hand.” He said with a grin.

“What are you two up to?” Benji asked as he held out his hand toward Jerry.

“We didn’t think it was fair to do all this work for Eli and never ask you if you would want one too.” Jerry said as he took a modified section of an android’s hand and held it in place so Benji could see it. “So we kinda made one for you, if you want it, I mean.”

Benji looked at his hand while Jerry smiled wide and continued to hold the part in place. “You didn’t have to make me one, Eli needs them, I don’t.” Benji said as he pulled his hand back. “Just make sure Eli is okay, I don’t really need it.”

Marc watched as Jerry and Antonio’s smiles quickly faded; and walked over to the boys. “Benji, your brother is gonna be fine. This surgery has been done before and has a huge success rate. I can do this for both of you since the boys designed the part for you.”

“But it’d be better if you worry about just him. That’s what I want.” Benji said softly as he looked over his injured hand. “I’ve learned to live with it this way.”

“I’ve learned to live with this bro.” Eli added in from across the room as he quickly unstrapped his leg and held it up.

“That’s different.” Benji got out before Eli got up and joined the group.

“No it’s not.” Eli quipped. “I can live without a working leg and arm. I have been living without them just fine. I just think it’s really nice that they all came up with a way to be more whole.” He said as his brother rolled his eyes. “I think it was really nice that they thought of you too.”

“We’ll keep it in case you change your mind Ben.” Antonio said as he and Jerry both looked more at the floor than at anyone else. “We didn’t mean to make anyone upset, it was just a thought.”

“Benji?!” Eli said as he levitated the part out of Jerry’s hand and used it to tap on Benji’s shoulder. “You can go through therapy an stuff with me if we do it at the same time. You should do it, and you should say thanks cause they thought about you and put all that work into it.”

“It would be easier to train you both with the new parts at the same time.” Marc said as he smiled at Benji. “Not to mention your brother won’t have to go through it alone.”

“AHEM!” Sammy cleared his throat from in the doorway at the top of the stairs. “BENJAMIN! I thought we settled this at the hospital! We heard what the guys offered you, don’t go being a dork and turning it down just because you feel responsible for Eli getting hurt! You ain’t gonna pull that again; these guys might not know better but I do. Do I gotta call Mikey in to straighten you out?” Sammy got out on his way down the stairs as the rest of the gang stood back and watched.

“That’s not what I meant.” Benji snapped back quickly. “I just want them to worry about him first.”

Sammy tapped the side of his head. “Bullcrap. You know you can’t fool me; and there ain’t no way I’m letting my boyfriend try to pull off a stunt like that on these guys. I’ll love you forever Benji; but that does not mean I’ll let you pass up something just because you can’t get it through your thick head that none of this was your fault. You saying you are ‘used to it’ is BS too; I still have to suffer through watching you get frustrated because you use the wrong hand to try to do something. Jerry and ‘Tonio busted their butts to try to surprise you; get your head outta your butt, thank them, and get ready to join your brother in surgery.”

The room got dead silent as Benji looked at the device, held it up to his hand and then out so he could look at it. “I’m sorry.” He said as he looked at Antonio and Jerry. “Sammy’s right. This was really cool of you guys.” He said as the boys looked up at him. “Thanks.” Benji added with a smile.

“So two for surgery when they’re ready?” Marc asked with a grin as he watched Sammy begin to smile.

“Is it gonna hurt?” Benji asked when the hand suddenly jumped up and poked him.

“Only when it does that!” Eli got out through his laughter. “This is gonna be sooo cool! You guys are awesome!” Eli said with excitement as he followed his leg over and gave both Antonio and Jerry hugs.

“Yeah, for both of us Marc.” Benji said as he looked at Sammy and squinted his eyes. “Okay?”

Sammy glanced over to where Byron was showing Sebastian the parts for Eli. He turned back to Benji and replied “Yeah; thats better. You need to be happy too, Babe; I owe it to you to make that happen.” Sammy then reached over and pulled Benji into a hug.

“How soon will they be ready?” Sebastian asked as he carefully placed the arm back in it’s container.

“Once the activation sequence has started, 36 hours before the surgery, 48 until they are stable enough to begin using.” Marc said with a smile. “So the sooner we get this stuff to the hospital and set up, the sooner we’ll be able to get started.”

“We’re not all going, are we?” Caleb asked.

“All those involved. We can use as many hands as we can get.” Marc replied.

“Permission to remain, Sir.” Caleb said as he stood at attention causing Marc to laugh.

“Um, okay… Granted I guess.” Marc answered with a giggle. “What’s up?”

“Nothing major, just have a whole network to configure still.” Caleb answered with a grin.

“Oh yeah, do you need a team?” Marc asked as JR rushed over and stood at attention next to Caleb while obviously trying to contain a laugh.

“Sir! Request permission to… um… stay and do team stuff… and um… help.” JR barked out with a laugh.

“You’re both nuts.” Marc said with a laugh. “How many people do you need Cal?”

“Honestly, JR is all I need if you need everyone else. I gotta run the wires and stuff still. Danny and I got the systems in place already so it’s just mainly gonna be configuration and programming at this point.” Caleb said as he turned and saw JR still standing at attention and elbowed him in the side with a laugh.

“Sounds good Caleb, I’ll notify security and leave you in charge here, just yell if you need anyone else.” Marc said as he looked at the rest of the full room. “Everyone else can plan on taking a field trip. Noah, if you wanna stay behind with Caleb, It’s okay.”

“Can’t. I promised Danny I’d make sure you didn’t overdo it.” Noah said as he gave Caleb a hug.

“I’m fine, really. Honestly with all the work we gotta do, we won’t have much time for each other.” Caleb added with a wink.

“Well then, let’s make our final preparations. Departure in one hour gang so we gotta shake a leg.” Marc said as he watched Byron pick up Eli’s leg and begin to shake it in the air earning laughs from the whole gang. “Oh, this is gonna be fun.” He sarcastically added with a smirk as his communicator chirped; “Marc here.” He said after flipping it open and sitting back down at the desk.

“Marc, this is Edward. I have orders from Alec acting as security head at HQ to set condition Orange and prepare to increase security. Request permission to contact Corporal Jackson to ready all cadets who are field ready for possible maneuvers.”

Marc raised his eyebrows and looked at Noah who simply folded his arms, smiled and nodded.

“Permission granted Lieutenant.” Marc said with a grin. “Awesome call dude. I’m not used to these different alert status settings Eddie so I need your help here, we are scheduled to move operations to the old naval hospital in about an hour leaving a very small team here. Are we allowed to continue or do we need to put that move on hold?” Marc asked with a scowl.

“No sir, you are allowed to relocate operations. I will coordinate a security detail to arrive before you do to secure the premises.”

“God dude, he’s on his game!” Noah said just above a whisper with a huge smile.

Marc smiled and nodded his head in agreement before replying; “Thank you Lieutenant. By the way Eddie, I feel very safe with you in charge out there. I’m really glad you requested this assignment.”

“Um… Thanks Marc. Um… Will told you I requested this position?”

“He did.” Marc replied with a grin. “He just neglected to inform me that you were so thorough and run such a tight operation. I just feel a lot more confident assuming my position with you manning the guns, so to speak.” Marc said winking at Noah.

“Thank you sir! I’ll do my best to earn that compliment.”

“You already earned it dude.” Marc replied with a smile. “I will notify you prior to beam out. Marc out.” He stated as he closed his communicator. “Damn, we have a kick ass security head.” Marc said as he stood up.

“He’s not divisional head…” Noah got out before Marc cut him off.

“Yet.” Marc said with a giggle getting a smile from Noah. “He keeps up what he just started and I can see him losing that Cadet title real fast.”

“No kidding. He sounds like a veteran.” Noah said as he watched the group in the room shuffling equipment. “You ever think this operation would be moved when you set it up?”

“No.” Marc replied as he picked up an empty carton and began filling it with notes and tools off of the desk. “I can’t wait to see what our new facility is gonna look like.”

“Doc Austin planned it all. I’ll bet it’s gonna be sweet!” Noah said with a laugh as he started to help pack.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Decommissioned Naval Hospital: Charleston SC.

“Dr Furst?” The young looking man asked into the group once they materialized.

“Dr. Herron?” Marc stepped forward and extended his hand.

The doctor smiled and took his hand. “You can call me Chris if you like.” He said as he handed Marc the P.A.D.D. He was holding. “I have quite a bit of good news for you, Doctor. It seems we are a bit further along than originally reported.”

“Marc.” Marc said as he looked at the display.

“Huh?” The doctor replied with a confused look on his face.

“Just call me Marc, Chris. Fair is fair.” He said with a grin before opening his eyes wide at what he was reading. “According to this we have 4 operational O.R.’s, 2 with A.I. Capabilities and more than half of the ward is operational!?!” Marc read in amazement before looking up. “Am I reading this wrong?”

“Nope, after I spoke with Austin, I pulled in a few favors and we had a full team setting up and configuring. I figured it best to get one step ahead just in case.” Chris replied with a smile.

“I can’t wait to get a look at them.” Marc said with a smile as he scanned over the equipment listings. “This is so much more advanced than I have ever worked with.”

“Mostly Federation rated equipment with the alterations requested. By the time we are finished, your hospital will be somewhat of a hybrid. Each and every operating room, med-lab, outpatient and even therapy will be equipped to handle human, alien and android with no problems, as per your request.” Chris stated.

“My request?” Marc asked in somewhat of a stunned voice.

“Well, your headquarters gave us the requirements to meet. We just decided to use what we could to exceed those requirements. I know the main medical facility will be primarily Federation Youth Services Medical, but there’s no harm in advancing capabilities to handle any crisis which may arise. The same stands for medical capabilities on your division’s levels. I want to see you guys ready to handle anything, anywhere you need to when we are finished.” Chris said with a smile.

“I’m sooo beyond impressed right now.” Marc said as he looked back at the P.A.D.D. “Jerry, Antonio & Noah.” Marc shouted out silencing the group. “It’s time to go to work. Get your teams together.” Marc said as the boys rushed and separated into three groups. “Chris, can I hold on to this so I don’t get lost?” He asked with a giggle.

“Absolutely.” Chris replied as he grabbed another off the reception desk and brought up the layout. “Now, Your patient, Joseph Owens is in O.R. 1. My team received the equipment and materials you sent and should have everything set up for you.”

Marc nodded and looked up from his display. “Antonio, your team is in O.R. 1.” He said as he pointed down the nearby corridor.

“Okay guys, let’s get moovin.” Antonio said and without wasting a moment of time rushed out of sight.

Chris watched in amazement before shaking his head and looking back at his P.A.D.D. “Um… Let me see… The materials for your two prosthetic recipients are in O.R. 4. I made sure it was equipped to handle two patients and have the equipment you will require to perform micro-surgery. We have post-op set up to handle neurological patients for now since the wing Neurology will be in is still being renovated. By the time you’ll need it, we will have recovery rooms available. It will be another 48 hours before we have physical therapy equipped. Is that going to be soon enough?”

“Oh yeah, it’ll be a few days before we’ll be able to get started on P.T. That’ll work out great.” Marc said with a smile before redirecting his attention back to the group. “Jerry, your team is in O.R. 4.”

“Let’s go guys!” Jerry said, as his group, followed by one lone leg, practically ran down the corridor.

“These guys don’t mess around, do they?” Chris asked with a smile.

“Not when it comes to work.” Marc replied with a smile. “Where did the Panda unit get set up?”

“That was a tricky one.” Chris replied. “It’s actually in one of the larger treatment areas off of the new E.R., near radiology.” Chris said shrugging his shoulders. “Meeting the power requirements for that older device was a challenge since the electrical capabilities of this building were beyond substandard.”

“That’ll be fine, were there any problems getting it online?” Marc asked as he waved to Noah to follow as they began to walk down the corridor toward the E.R.

“You may want to give it a once over. None of my team has ever worked with a full sized Panda before. It’s systems checked out and read normal by the book.” Chris said with a grin. “The book lies sometimes.”

Marc giggled as he looked down the hall they were walking down. “I wouldn’t say lie, it’s more like leaving out the unit’s quirks and minor tweaks that get made up along the way. That unit has an issue with Carbon Dioxide build up.” Marc said with a shrug of his shoulders. “No good reason for it, other than it just likes Co2 I guess.” He finished with a giggle.

“Is that something an environment scan would pick up?” Chris asked with concern showing in his face.

“Normally, yeah. Sometimes you need to specifically scan Co2 levels for it to pick it up. If it’s a little too high, a standard environment report simply states nominal, even if it’s elevated.” Marc replied.

“Wouldn’t the unit be in danger of building up Co2 during a shutdown and reactivation?” Chris asked as Marc looked at Noah then back down the hall.

“We better move!” Marc barked out as all three broke out in a run.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Decommissioned Naval Hospital: Charleston SC. (O.R. #1)

“‘Tonio, was this the torso that was picked?” Byron asked as he looked at another box with a second torso in it and scratched his head. “This is getting confusing.” He continued.

“Yeah, that one.” He said pointing out the different boxes. “An’ that head, those arms an’ that pelvic and leg set over there.” Antonio answered, further confusing his boyfriend.

“Let me help.” Benji said as he began to sort the boxes out while Byron laid them out on the bed for assembly.

“How do ya know what’s what?” Byron asked with a giggle. “They all look the same.”

“Cause I’m good!” Benji said as he covered the writing on the box with his hand and giggled.

“It’s written on the boxes!? You cheater!” Byron shouted as Antonio shook his head and continued to set up the terminal and link it to the biobed.

“When you two are done clownin’ around, we gotta get the biobed online so I can have Jerry come in and do the final check and get the start up goin.” Antonio said as Byron began making the connections and assembling Joey’s new body.

“How many optical lines are in one harness ‘Tonio?” Byron asked as he sealed the first connection.

“Bout a thousand or more I think. Depends on the harness size and what it’s for I s’pose.” Antonio answered grinning at Byron’s shocked expression. “So ya gotta be careful how you attach them or else he’ll think his feet are his hands an stuff.” He added with a giggle causing Byron to freeze.

“That can happen?” Byron gasped.

“He’s playin with ya.” Benji added sticking out his tongue at Antonio. “If a connection is wrong, it won’t fit. Jerry already told me that. Besides, his brain receives signals from his human nerve endings. These optics are mainly for diagnostics and cellular acceleration and stuff.” He said with a smile as Byron sighed and seemed to relax. “You can’t mess him up like that. This is just an assembly cause this body was already used. Anyone who is careful enough can do an assembly, the hard part is building one from scratch.”

”Well unless you’ve done it before.” Said Austin as he entered the operating room wheeling a computer cart piled with cables and tools.

“How’s Jerry’s team doin?” Antonio asked as he rushed to the cart and began grabbing the cables he needed.

“Great, they’re already preparing for activations.” Austin said as he grabbed the little androids head and walked over to the bed. “You ready to be a partial android Benji?”

“It’ll be cool I guess.” Benji replied as he continued to go over the connections in the legs.

“You’re lucky Sammy isn’t in here.” Austin said as he pulled the connection harnesses that were neatly tucked into the neck section out and prepared them for connection. “He’d probably be on your case again.”

“It’s not that.” Benji replied sliding the pelvic section up to meet with the torso. “I’m kinda nervous.”

Austin looked at Benji and smiled. “You know you are gonna be cared for by some of the best in the field, don’t you?”

“Yeah.” Benji answered with a shrug as he continued to connect the harnesses.

“Not to mention people who would never let harm come to you.” Austin added.

“It’s the whole being put to sleep thing.” Benji sighed out as he locked the two sections together. “It kinda scares me. I mean, I’ve heard of people dying on the operating table and stuff. It’s dumb.”

“No it’s not.” Antonio said as he dragged the cable over to the biobed and connected it. “It’s rare but has happened.”

“Would you rather stay awake?” Austin asked with concern. “This can be done while your awake you know. Neurological surgeries used to require the patient be awake during the procedure. It’s not required anymore, but I can talk to Dad and see if he can do a local anesthetic if you want.”

“Can he do one on Eli?” He asked stopping his work and looking Austin in the eyes.

“Ah, I see what you’re getting at now.” Austin replied. “Unfortunately, no. The work on Eli is way too extensive for him to stay awake for the procedure. I mean it would be painful for him to be awake for that long, not to mention agonizing to remain that still long enough.”

“Then I go to sleep too.” Benji stated nervously and continued to fumble with connections.

“Yur makin too big of a deal outa this ya know.” Byron said, causing Austin’s eyes to open wide.

“Oh, am I?” Benji asked stopping his work and looking up with a scowl.

“Yeah, I mean if humans were doin’ the operation, I’d be scared an’ stuff. But it’s gonna be Marc!” Byron said with a shrug of his shoulders. “You think he’s gonna do anythin less than a perfect job on him?”

“Well, no. I mean sometimes things happen that can’t be controlled. Human or not.” Benji replied as he continued once again.

“Worst thing that could happen is the procedure could be a total failure. Then what?” Byron asked as he sharply slid a box across the floor.

“Nothing gained?” Benji questioned softly.

“Right, so what’s lost if you don’t even try?” Byron asked as he watched Benji simply shrug his shoulders. “You lose the chance to ever gain anything!” He answered for him as he got up and made his way to the door. “You don’t wanna scare Eli out of a chance like this, do ya?” He asked a quiet Benji as he opened the door and turned before stepping through it to see Benji freeze in thought. “Think about it!” He finished as he stepped out of the room and slammed the door.

“He’s right.” Benji said as he looked up at Austin.

“I know he is.” Austin answered with a smile. “You just had to realize it for yourself.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Decommissioned Naval Hospital: Charleston SC. (O.R. #4)

“Eli, stop playin with that arm!” Jerry said with a laugh. “If you don’t leave it on the biobed I can’t start the activation sequence, bonehead!”

“I know, but it’s sooo cool!” Eli said with a smile as he placed the arm back on the table next to the leg. “I’ll go play with the backup.” Eli said with a grin as Jerry simply shook his head and sighed.

“S’ok Eli.” Sammy said with a giggle. “You’ll have lotsa time to play with it after the operation.”

“Very funny.” Sebastian said with a laugh. “Jerry, I think Benji’s hand is ready, you wanna check it?”

“Great, thanks!” Jerry excitedly replied as he rushed over and checked the bed’s display. “Awesome job Bastian!” Jerry said as he stood back up. “You sure you’ve never done work like this before?”

“No.” Sebastian answered to a smirking Jerry. “What? I swear! Never!”

“Suuuure…” Jerry replied patting Bastian on the back with a smile as the door swung open and Byron stormed in.

“Eli, your brother is doin it again!” Byron said crossing his arms and tapping his foot.

“What’s he done now?” Eli asked putting the skeletal backup arm he was playing with back in its box.

“Now he’s afraid of you not wakin up after the surgery an stuff. He’s just bein impossible!”

“Oh really?” Sammy asked as he walked over to Byron and then turned to Jerry. “Jer, is it okay if I go set him straight?”

“Never gonna happen.” Eli said with a laugh. “Oh, you mean calm him down?” Eli added as the rest of the boys in the room rolled their eyes.

“Go ahead, just don’t be angry with him.” Jerry said as he completed activating the biobed the lone hand was on and stood up. “He’s got real reasons to be worried, it’s a surgery. There’s always a chance something could go wrong,” He continued; “It’s just not likely.”

Sammy looked at the floor before Byron opened the door and stepped out into the hall. “I know, I’ll go easy.” He answered before quietly letting the door close behind them.

“Is that generating already?” Bastian asked as he looked at the display Jerry was just working at.

“Yeah, why? Something wrong?” Jerry asked as he winked at Eli and they both began running through a checklist on the second bed.

“I did it right?” Bastian questioned with amazement as he scratched his head.

“You did perfect.” Jerry answered keeping his back turned to hide his grin. “You thought I was kidding when I asked if you had done it before?”

“Well… yeah.” Bastian replied crossing his arms and smiling. “Wow, that’s so cool.” He muttered to himself.

“Well, stop admiring it and get over here and do it again.” Jerry ordered through a giggle. “Eli can’t wait much longer ya know.” Jerry said as Eli finally broke and laughed.

“What?” Bastian asked as he made his way to the other biobed.

“Nuthin, I just thought it sounded funny. Jerry wouldn’t have you doin stuff he didn’t think you could, ya know.” Eli said as he stopped laughing, only to laugh again at Bastian’s scowl.

“How’d ya know I could do that stuff? I didn’t even know.” He asked with his hands on his hips.

“I didn’t.” Jerry replied. “I just explained it to you, and when you didn’t stare back at me like I had 5 eyes, I figured you got it and let you get yur work done.” Jerry said with a smile and a giggle.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Decommissioned Naval Hospital: Charleston SC. (Radiology: Temp. PANDA Lab)

“Marc!” Jerry shouted as he and Austin turned the corner, causing Marc, who had dozed off while watching the status screen on the Panda; to jump and knock over a tray full of tools.

“Oh my god guys, you tryin to give me a heart attack?” Marc asked as he rubbed his eyes.

“Were you asleep, Dad?” Austin asked as both boys started to giggle. “We’ve been slaving for hours and you’re in here taking a nap?” Austin continued with a chuckle as Noah rounded the corner at the other end of the hall.

“Electricians report the power is as stable as it will ever be with this old wiring Marc.” Noah said as he approached the group. “They said they’ll get a team together and run a new line in here just for this unit when they come back tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow? What time is it?” Marc said as he stretched and yawned.

“Not sure.” Noah answered looking at Jerry and Austin who simply shrugged their shoulders. “Gotta be somewhere between 1 and 3 in the morning I think.” Noah answered looking at the dust covered clock on the wall. “That says seven.” He added with a grin as a crumpled up ball of paper bounced off his head.

“It’s said seven since we got here, dufus!” Marc said with a laugh. “Got a report for me guys?”

“Yup!” Jerry said with a smile. “O.R. #4 reports all systems activated and functioning perfectly. We are right on schedule despite Eli constantly playing with his new parts.” Jerry finished with a giggle.

“Great Job, hows it goin in O.R. #1 Austin?” Marc asked, still rubbing his eyes.

“We’re ahead of schedule as well.” Austin answered with a smile. “We have fully assembled and tested out our new endoskeletal structure and components, mapped and integrated our DNA string plus all additional parameters required. Biological accelerated regeneration and startup sequence was completed about 15 minutes ago. We’re standing by to upload Joey’s personality imprint and estimate partial activation of systems in approximately 36 hours.”

“Those biobeds are amazing.” Marc said as he shot a dirty look at the Panda unit. “Sounds like Joey and Kevin will be coming online at about the same time as it stands now.”

“What? I thought he was closer than that.” Jerry said with his eyes open wide. “What happened?”

“Well, excluding the usual issues with environmental inconsistencies and issues with fluctuating power, we’ve learned the old unit doesn’t like to be moved.” Marc replied shaking his head in defeat. “I’m thinking this is going to be it’s last activation.”

“Will it be able to complete this one?” Jerry asked as he patted the unit’s console.

“Provided we don’t trip another leg. I don’t know how many more times it’s going to be able to recover from partial power loss and surges from being restored.” Marc said as he looked at the ceiling. “I’m guessing sub-standard power was one of the reasons this place was retired.”

“Trip a leg?” Austin asked scratching his head.

“Yeah, The Panda unit requires a three phase power supply and it needs to be stable. This area of the hospital was equipped with the right wiring but is proving to be more of a fire hazard than a help.” Marc said with a giggle as Noah patted the fire extinguisher; which appeared to have been used recently.

“It caught fire?!?” Jerry almost shouted while Austin simply stood with his mouth open.

“The unit? No.” Marc began. “The new connection, sub panel, transformer and my patience went up in flames a few times though.”

“The Panda survived all that?” Jerry asked while trying to suppress a laugh.

“Not well, but it’s still stable enough to complete the epidermal layer. We’re gonna to have to wait til Kevin is stable enough to move so we can complete his imprint transfer and final biological activations on a biobed though.”

“Epi.. epider…” Noah started to attempt to word.

“Epidermal. You know, skin.” Jerry cut in and said as Noah knocked on his own forehead.

“I must be really tired.” Noah replied with a grin as Marc’s communicator chirped.

“Marc, this is Danny.” Marc heard as he opened the unit, which instantly brought a smile to his face.

“Marc here. What’s up, bro?” He asked as he sat down and rubbed his eyes once again.

“Dude, we just ran into a M.A.R.C. series android. It looks like he has had some sort of personality wipe or something. He says he doesn’t have a name and his Primary Function is to serve. Cory and I believe he is being used as a slave laborer. Is there any way to restore his personality imprint?”

Marc squinted his eyes before shaking his head and continuing; “A M.A.R.C. series? There weren’t too many in that area that I know of. Whether we can save his personality is dependent on whether there’s still a personality to save. Did Caleb install that uplink in the shuttle for you?”

“Yeah, but I don’t think the shuttle’s onboard systems could handle a personality imprint manipulation though.”

“No, I was thinking use it to access him directly, but don’t even try until we identify him. I need you to get me his I.D. from below his uplink port so I can look him up in the system. Then we’ll know if it’s safe to do a direct connect.” Marc said as he watched Noah pull Jerry and Austin aside and begin talking to them.

“We should have access to him shortly Marc.” Marc heard Cory cut in.

“Okay, I’ll get access to the old database and wait for you to call back. Marc out.” Marc said as he quickly stood up and grabbed his P.A.D.D.

“Thanks bro. Talk to you in a few. Danny out.” Danny’s voice got out before Marc flipped his communicator shut.

“Guy’s, I think it would be a good idea if you all make use of those cots in the ER. Noah, if anything goes wrong with the Panda, it will sound it’s alarm again. I want you to contact security and have them station a man here while you get some sleep.” Marc rushed to say as he practically ran around the room, appearing to be running through a checklist before putting his P.A.D.D. back down. “I’m going back home to get the info Danny needs, Noah, Until I get back, You’re in charge.” He added before flipping open his communicator. “Terra Main, This is Dr. Furst at Clan Short’s new medical facility again.”

“They must love us by now.” Noah whispered to Austin before both started to giggle.

“Good Morning Doctor, How many to transport and to which coordinates?”

Marc laughed before finally asking; “Have I called ‘THAT’ many times?”

“No sir, you need three more calls before it becomes ‘THAT’ many times.” The young man’s voice on the other end replied before laughing himself.

“Great, a goal!” Marc said with a giggle. “Just one this time, current location to the Sullivan’s Island Compound. I’ll be returning but not sure when exactly.”

“Great, that brings you down to two more calls before we’re forced to offer you some sort of frequent materialization program or something.”

After everyone recovered from laughing Marc finally composed himself enough to reply; “I’m glad you’ve been getting these calls. I’ve kinda been worried about becoming a pain in the butt. Anyone else might have gotten annoyed.”

“Annoyed?” The voice replied in question. “No way, this is the most fun I’ve had covering the board in months.”

“It’s that dull?” Marc asked with a giggle.

“No, I just don’t normally work communications. I’m just covering tonight.”

“Ah, what position do you normally hold?” Marc asked as he scooped up the pile he intended to take home with him.

“Transporter Tech. I took communications at the academy so I can double. I’m actually aiming for a career in engineering primarily.”

“Awww, so that means I’m not gonna get to bug ya on a regular basis?” Marc asked sticking his lip out.

“Aren’t you guys gonna have transporters on site?”

Marc grinned and nodded his head. “Yeah, they’re being worked on now. I think we’re gonna have three on site and one at the compound.” Marc froze in his steps as his eyes opened wide with an idea. “Hey, our staff is gonna need training. Interested?”

“Me? I’m only one year out of the academy. You’ll be able to find someone with more practical experience with no trouble.”

“Oh, so you don’t really know what yur doin?” Marc asked with an evil grin as he winked at Noah. “You’ve dealt with us all night, I just thought it would be cool to get a chance to work with you. I mean it’s cool if you aren’t interested.”

“Oh no, I’m interested. From talking to you it actually sounds like fun. I just don’t know how I would get a position like that.”

“Well, I can talk to our Patriarch and see what he thinks. I’m sure the Federation would rather training of this nature to be based on their specs and meet their standards. We sure want to make that happen, I’ll just happen to mention I know this guy…” He trailed off as he began to giggle. “I just need to know who you are.”

“Oh… Um… Billy, well William actually. Lieutenant William J. O’Keefe. I’m stationed at Terra Main so I’d be easy for him to locate. You sure about this?”

Marc smiled as he said; “I am unless you aren’t.”

The voice on the other end was quiet for a minute before finally breaking his silence. “No Doctor, I would very much like to have the opportunity to work with your staff. You officially have my request sir.”

“Keep calling me sir and I may reconsider my decision Lieutenant.” Marc replied with a laugh. “Now about that transport?”

“Oh yeah, coordinates entered, standing by to energize.”

“Guys, I’ll be back as soon as I can. Noah, contact me should you have any trouble.” He said getting a nod from Noah as Jerry and Austin each gave Marc a hug and turned to run back down the corridor they entered from. With a smile Marc turned his attention back to his communicator. “Energize Mr. O’Keefe.”

After watching Marc beam out, with an evil smirk on his face, Noah flipped open his own communicator. “Barnes to Headquarters.”

“Alec here Noah, wassup bro?”

“Alec, the A.I. Division is preparing to get transporter systems online. Our staff here is in need of Federation trained personnel and…” Noah continued as Alec cut him off.

“What are you scheming?”

“I’m not schemin nothin!” Noah exclaimed with a giggle.

“Yeah right.”

“Okay, tonight Marc found someone stationed at Terra Main who was really interested in filling that position. They really seem to get along great too. I just kinda thought it’d be cool if I could help him get some of the planning done.” Noah replied as he sat down at the terminal that was set up just outside the old X-Ray labs. “I told Danny that I’d look out for him and I think this’d be a big help.”

“Have you contacted Admiral Morrow yet?”

“No way, I wanted to get instruction from Headquarters first. Chain of command dude, you know.”

“Well that chain started with Marc, bonehead.”

“Yup it did. He found the guy for the job, I’m gonna see if we can hook it up.” Noah said with a giggle.

“You are so full of it dude! Just call the Admiral and see if it’s doable, you have the okay.”

“Thanks bro! I owe ya one.” Noah replied with a smile. “Barnes out.” He continued as he closed his communicator and began to initiate the call using the terminal.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“I’ll be damned!” Marc said as he closed his communicator and set the terminal to standby.

“Wassap?” Caleb asked as he wandered into the lab rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, startling Marc.

“Oh god you scared me!” Marc exclaimed as he spun around in his seat. “I didn’t wake you. Did I?”

“Nah, I was havin a hard time sleeping anyway.” Caleb replied as he leaned against the doorway.

“Not used to sleeping without Noah?” Marc asked as he stood up and motioned to Caleb to follow him out to the kitchen.

“That’s part of it I guess.” Caleb said through a yawn. “JR talks in his sleep.”

“I’m gonna grab a coffee, you want something to drink bro?” Marc asked as he pushed Caleb into his seat.

“Just a glass of milk would be cool, thanks.”

“No problem.” Marc replied as he grabbed a glass and a coffee mug. “This the same coffee I made before we left?”

“Yeah, JR hates coffee and I’ve been drinking all your soda.” Caleb replied with a giggle.

Marc poured himself some coffee then grabbed the milk and poured a glass for Caleb before adding some to his cup, and giggling as he looked into his cup. “Oh, it’s sooo burnt. Should keep me awake for a while.” He said as he slid Caleb’s glass across the table and put the milk down on the table. “How’d it go here?”

“It went great. JR and I got all the rooms wired up and the systems ready to be configured. We still gotta run the new wiring to the second floor and get the lower lab ready to receive new equipment which will also be tied into the system.” Caleb said as he took a couple of gulps from his glass. “We’ll probably get on the wiring in the basement first since Matt put in that request for a transporter on site.” He continued as he raised his glass again, half emptying it. “Why are you home anyway? Something go wrong at the hospital?”

“We had a few problems, but nothing major. I came home cause Danny called. The guys found an android in Australia that was reprogrammed to be nothing but free labor.” Marc said as he took a sip from his coffee, and almost choked on it. “God that’s awful tasting!” He exclaimed while making gagging gestures toward the cup.

“Android Slave?” Caleb asked as he laughed at Marc’s expression.

“Yup. Worst part is, I came here to identify him and it turns out I know him. I just hope it all turns out okay, he’s a really nice guy.” Marc replied as he choked down some more of his coffee.

“What’s his name?” Caleb asked as he rubbed his eyes and sat back in his chair.

“Zeke Thelander, he was a really early release M.A.R.C. Series. His original father died years ago and asked him to look after his family. That’s what he’s been doing for years now.” Marc said as he looked down at the table and shook his head. “I hope they make whoever is responsible for reprogramming him accountable for what he’s done. It’s just as bad as brainwashing a human.”

“They will. Cory will see to it, trust me on that one.” Caleb replied with a smirk. “I don’t think he or Sean have ever looked at you guys as even close to being any different than we are. None of us do really. If this Zeke was brainwashed by someone just to make him a slave, he’ll be on the hunted list. I’ll guarantee it.” Caleb finished with an encouraging nod. “I should probably head back upstairs and try to get some sleep. Tomorrow’s gonna be busy, I think we have a federation team arriving early.” He said as he stood up. “That reminds me, we got a grant.”

“Huh?” Marc shook his head as he looked up.

“Yeah, you need to contact… Um… I think it was the CEO of a company called Dyson Industries. The message is stored in the system for you. I can’t remember the name of the contact.” Caleb said as he leaned on the chair after pushing it in. “I got the call a few hours ago. Sounds like they want to help with the medical facility.”

“Hmmm.” Marc replied as he looked at his coffee, scowled and pushed it away before reaching for Caleb’s glass and refilling it. “Name sounds kinda familiar.” He mumbled before taking a large gulp from the glass. “I’ll have to contact them in the morning.”

“You stayin here or goin back to the hospital?” Caleb asked as he watched Marc empty the glass, putting it back down with a large belch. “Good one!” He giggled out as Marc stood up and began clearing the table.

“I’d like to but I really need to head back. We had some problems with the Panda unit and I don’t want to stay away too long. Kevin means a lot to Danny so I want to make sure nothing more goes wrong. His activation has already been delayed by at least a couple of days.” Marc replied as he put the cups in the sink. “You want me to have Noah come home? I mean will you sleep better if he’s here?”

“Nah, a night or two isn’t gonna kill us. I got work to do and so does he. I just gotta get used to sleeping with clothes on.” Caleb said as he pulled out the waist band of the shorts he was wearing and let it snap back to his stomach.

“You got dressed for bed? What’s up with that?” Marc asked with a grin.

“I had too. You should have seen how red JR’s face got when he saw what I was gonna wear to bed.” Caleb said with a giggle. “Hope you don’t mind that I borrowed these.”

“Nah, I don’t mind.” Marc said with a laugh. “Those are Danny’s.”

Caleb laughed as he looked at the shorts. “Oh, in that case I may keep ’em then.” He got out with an evil grin.

“JR got embarrassed? Wait til the gang comes home.” Marc said with a laugh as he walked over to Caleb and gave him a hug. “Go get some sleep. We’ll deal with seeing how red that kid can turn some other night.”

“If he gets any redder than he was, he’s gonna glow.” Caleb said as he turned toward the hallway. “Night Bro.”

“Night, oh and thanks! You’re doing an awesome job here.” Marc shouted after him as he pulled out his communicator.

“Thanks! Good luck over there!” Caleb shouted as he ran up the stairs.

“Terra Main, This is Dr. Furst at Clan Short’s A.I. Division compound, ready for return transport.”

“Predetermined coordinates entered and awaiting your order sir.” A young female voice replied.

“Hey, what happened to Lieutenant O’Keefe. Did we finally burn him out?” Marc asked with a laugh.

“No sir. He’s been reassigned.”

Marc looked a little disappointed as he stepped to the middle of the kitchen. “I hope it’s a good assignment.” He said with a smile.

“I’m sure it was sir, awaiting your orders.”

“Oh sorry, Energize.” He got out as he immediately began to dematerialize.

“You were gone for a while, everything okay back home?” Noah asked as he stood up once he noticed Marc beam in.

“Everything’s fine, I’ll explain later.” Marc replied as he looked at the young man dressed in a federation uniform who was sitting next to Noah.

Noticing Marc’s bewildered look, the officer stood from his seat and stood at attention. “Lieutenant O’Keefe reporting for duty sir.”

Noah laughed as he watched Marc’s jaw drop wide open. “Billy?” Marc managed to get out before turning his gaze to Noah. “How?” He managed to get out.

“I’ve been reassigned.” Billy replied as Noah started to laugh.

“When did this happen?” Marc asked more toward Noah than Billy. “How did this happen?”

“Well, you wanted to find out if he could help, so I, um, made a few calls while you were out.” Noah replied with a giggle. “Turns out, Admiral Morrow thought it was a great idea and accepted your referral, he checked Bill’s qualifications and then contacted him with the details. Lucky for us, he accepted this assignment.” Noah said as he smiled at Billy. “Isn’t that great?”

“Um, yeah… Yeah it really is.” Marc said seeming to begin comprehending what was being said while still staring at the Lieutenant.

“I just called Dr. Herron. First thing in the morning he’s going to place Billy in charge of the transporter installations, which will be a huge help to him and he’ll also be heading up the team that will handle the unit being installed at the house.” Noah said noticing as Marc’s expression remained glazed over. “You already proposed the idea, I just thought it was something that would help sooner than later.”

“Oh no…” Marc replied. “That’s unreal, I mean that you handled that so quickly.” Marc said as Noah’s accomplished smile made him grin. “Welcome aboard then Mr. O’Keefe!” Marc said with a smile as he shook his hand and noticed an alert flashing on the terminal. “Is that something you guys were waiting for?” Marc asked as Billy seemed to gasp.

“Oh yeah, if you’ll excuse me for a second. I have to report in.” Billy said as he remained at attention.

“Of course.” Marc said while watching Billy turn and practically run for the terminal as he grabbed Noah’s shirt and dragged him further away. “How old is he?” Marc asked in a loud whisper.

“I don’t know. Why, is something wrong?” Noah asked as he straightened his shirt back out.

“If he is who I think he is, we may have designed a unit for his family years ago. Same face, gray eyes, brown hair. It’s just weird and took me by surprise I guess.” Marc replied as Billy finished his report and set the terminal into standby.

“All set, looks like I’m all yours now.” Billy said with a smile. “Your orders sir?”

Marc grinned and stood at attention, causing Billy to stiffen his stance. “Your orders Mr. O’Keefe are to stop calling me sir, get into your Clan uniform and prepare for a good nights rest.” Marc said as Noah stifled a laugh.

“Clan Uniform?” Billy said as he looked at his clothes. “You guys are wearing civilian clothes.”

“Yup, I hope you brought the appropriate attire.” Marc said with a smile.

Billy tilted his head as he looked down towards his feet and then back at Marc. “I’m required to wear this while on duty.”

Marc grinned as he walked over and brought the Panda’s console up to check it. “You’re on detached duty, civilian attire will be acceptable and preferable. There are sections of this building that have no climate control yet. Some sections are dirty, unused and just too hot to be in a formal uniform. Besides, our division has no set uniform.” Marc said as he nodded at the display and placed it into standby. “Functioning normally.”

“Aye sir. Permission to contact my family and arrange for transport of my personal belongings and clothing?” Billy requested, once again snapping to attention.

“Go for it. Communications are at your disposal. Once you’re set, I think it would be a good idea if we all turned in for the night.” Marc replied as Billy smiled and turned back toward the terminal to make his call. “How long do you think it will take him to lose the military attitude and actually relax?” He asked Noah once Billy was out of ear shot.

Noah laughed as he unclipped his communicator. “He may not, wait til you see his service record. To be honest, I’m surprised Admiral Morrow let him go.”

“Good record?” Marc asked with a smile.

“Spotless record. His goal is to become a Chief Engineer someday and he is well on his way. Check it out when you have the time.” Noah said as he opened his communicator. “Barnes to Doctor Herron.”

“Herron here, what can I do for you Noah?”

“Chris, we’re going to try to get some sleep. Could you send a man down to monitor the Panda unit like we talked about earlier.” Noah asked as he watched Marc cross his arms and watch Billy.

“Absolutely. I wouldn’t want to take any chances. Someone will be there in about 5 minutes.”

“Great, Thanks Doc. We should be up around seven. I’ll let you know once our engineering team is ready for the transporter units.” Noah paused as Marc turned and nodded in agreement. “See you in the morning, Noah out.” He said as he clipped his communicator back on his belt. “Sleep?”

Marc smiled and nodded as Billy terminated his call and stood from his seat. “Sleep sounds good. Tomorrow’s gonna be a busy day.” He said as he began to lead the way out of the room.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“Marc! Marc!” Byron shouted as he bolted into the room.

“Wh.. What?” Marc replied rolling over and groaning at the alarm clock. “9:30?!? Why didn’t you guys wake me up?” He asked as he stretched and put his feet on the floor.

“Noah said you needed the rest.” Byron answered with a smile. “But you gotta get up now, you gotta answer an urgent call from the compound.” Byron barely got out as Marc practically sprang to his feet and hurried to get dressed.

“Is any one hurt?” Marc said as he fumbled with his shorts.

“Nah, Jerry went home to change and he got a call. Says it’s an emergency.” Byron answered.

“Okay, let’s go!” Marc shouted as he ran for the door with his sneakers and socks in his hand. Once they reached the terminal in the radiology department, Marc punched up the call that was on hold and began putting on his socks. “Jerry, what’s goin on bro?”

“That was quick, Byron said you were still sleeping.” Jerry replied as he appeared to be typing. “I’m bringing up the details of the situation so you can read it while I route the call.”

Marc quickly read through the transcript Jerry sent him before Jerry interrupted. “Marc, they are connecting. We’ll be doing a three way with Mrs. Wiggins.” Jerry got out as a second window opened and a grainy image of an old woman appeared.

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Wiggins, I am Marc Furst, medical director for Clan Short AI Division,” Marc stated as he watched the woman’s shocked expression. “Don’t let my youthful appearance fool you. I assure you I am exactly what I say I am as is Jerry whom you have already spoken with.”

“I am sorry, Dr. Furst,” the old woman finally managed to apologize. “You just remind me very much of someone I haven’t seen in a very long time.”

“I hope the memories are pleasant,” Marc replied as politely as he could. “How may I help you?”

“I’ll be as brief as I possibly can as we are racing the clock Doctor.” The old woman began. “My great grandson, whom had been abducted as an infant has been found. The authorities here merely found out due to a brutal assault that has him in the hospital. The woman claiming to be his mother, attacked him with a knife.” She managed to get out as she quickly began to wipe away her tears. “She cut his little body so bad he’s gonna need skin grafts over thirty percent of his body. But the worst…the worst she did…. She took that knife and cut off his…. She castrated him.” Once again she paused as she wiped away the tears that began to flow. “The doctor I spoke with says that Daniel is gay and has decided on his own authority that it would be best for the boy if he were to be made into a girl. Judge Legette gave me instructions to contact you. He said if anyone could help, you could.” She said as the teenager who had been standing behind her listening, seemed to stumble backward and literally fall onto a bed that was in the room.

“I have to confess to you, Mrs. Wiggins, I am a little out of my range here,” Marc replied after taking a deep breath. “You see, although we have established the Medical Center here at the old naval hospital, we haven’t had the chance to fully staff or equip the building yet. Right now we are operating from my home. That in itself isn’t a problem as much as the other confession I have to make. I am trained as a medical doctor, but my specialty is Artificial Intelligence. I have never had a human patient before.”

The old woman appeared to squint her eyes as she responded. “Young man, I pride myself on being an excellent judge of human nature,” Mrs. Amee began. “I believe you are the right person to help me for several reasons. First, there is the fact that you have the credentials necessary to remove my grandson from the nightmare those Arkansas idiots have planned for him. Secondly, you just told me that you are unsure of yourself. I have never trusted a doctor that claimed to know all the answers, and I never will. Will you help my boy?” She asked as the sound of Jerry sharply gasping grabbed Marc’s attention.

“Marc, we have to act fast,” Jerry interrupted with a panicked expression showing on his face. “While you were talking, I checked Dixon’s files at the hospital in Monticello. He is being transferred to the Baptist Children’s Hospital in Little Rock right now. They have the surgery team waiting for his arrival to immediately begin the sex change operation.”

“No!” Cried the teen from behind the old woman.. “Mrs. Amee, you can’t let that happen.”

“No, she can’t, and neither can I,” Marc affirmed. “Jerry, contact the hospital in Little Rock. Tell them if they admit that boy, then they will be in violation of Interstellar law and the Safe Haven Act. I am placing Dixon under the protection of Clan Short as of this moment.”

“Thank you so much, Doctor Furst,” Mrs. Amee said, her voice breaking with emotion.

“Please call me Marc, Mrs. Wiggins,” he told her with a smile.

“And I’m just Jerry,” Jerry said as he continued to tap away at the terminal.

“Well, thank you Marc and Just Jerry,” the old woman said with a mischievous grin gaining Jerry’s full attention. “You boys can call me Mrs. Amee; all my friends do.”

“It would be an honor,” Marc said sincerely, as Jerry blushed profusely. “We’ll handle things from here and I will get word to you when Dixon is here. Clan Short out.” Marc got out as the call was terminated. “Jerry, give me a few minutes to get a couple of things taken care of here and we will be beaming back to the house. Place that call to the hospital in the mean time. Marc Out!” Marc got out as Noah and Eli rounded the corner and saw the look on Marc’s face.

“Oh my god, what’s wrong bro. You look pissed!” Noah said as Marc fumbled with the antiquated phone system in the hospital trying to figure out the PA system.

“I’ll explain in a minute, Get ready to move.” Marc replied as his shuffling suddenly got louder through the speakers in the ceiling. “Can I have everyone’s attention! This is acting Director Marc Furst. At this time I require all clan members, Lieutenant O’Keefe and Doctor Herron to convene in the emergency room reception area immediately.” He got out and repeated one more time before hanging up the phone receiver. “Let’s go!” He waved to Noah, Eli and Byron as they broke out in a run through the swinging doors leading to the area Marc mentioned.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“Transporter status Mr. O’Keefe.” Marc ordered as Dr. Herron rounded the corner and the gathering was complete. “If you plan to amaze and impress me, now is the time to do it.” He got out raising his eyebrows as Billy took a deep breath and stood at attention.

“Sir, first level transporters are functioning as is the cargo transporter on level 10. Teams are working on the two other units as we speak, but it seems there will be at least 24 hours before installation at the compound will be functional and a structural issue is holding up installation on level 6. I can’t foresee installation for at least a week as crews repair damage to the flooring and structural supports.” Billy got out without so much as blinking his eyes.

“So we do have transporter capabilities?” Marc questioned.

“Aye sir.” Billy replied. “We are operating at about 50% at this point.”

“Okay then, I’m amazed and impressed Billy.” Marc said with a shocked expression. “And will you please stand at ease Mr. O’Keefe. Detached Duty, remember?” Marc added with a smile as Billy relaxed a bit. “Awesome work dude!” Marc said with a smile. “Chris, I require a man stationed in radiology again, preferably someone familiar with the operation of the Panda unit this time.”

“I’m sorry he woke you back up last night Marc. He wasn’t aware the unit signaled for every environment cycle.” Chris said with a grin. “Besides, he was supposed to wake me up if there were any problems.”

“Maybe we can put him to work with the refit team instead.” Noah said as he took a seat next to Marc.

“Or, maybe he’s been reassigned already.” Chris added with a grin. “I’ll have a doctor stationed at the unit. When can we expect your return?”

Marc looked over the group and sighed before standing up and continuing. “Guys, it looks like our division is going to be handling a recovery. I’ll give you all the details once we have contacted the hospital the adolescent is currently being held at. Billy, I would like you to man the transporters. Apparently we may need to relay a transport through Terra Main to receive one patient from Baptist Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. He’s been badly injured and requires medical attention as soon as possible.” Marc stated as he began to pace. “Noah, you’re coming with me. Byron, Antonio and Austin, prepare OR3 for possible surgery. The rest of you continue work with existing projects until you hear from me.” Marc got out as everyone in the room nodded and began to stand. “I’ll contact you once I have all the details. Let’s get to work guys.”

“When will you be beaming out Doctor?” Billy asked Marc as the group filtered out of the room.

“At your earliest convenience Mr. O’Keefe.” Marc replied as Billy pulled out his communicator.

“O’Keefe to transporter room 1.” He said with a smile as a male voice responded. “Prepare for immediate transport of two from this location to the Sullivan’s Island Compound. O’Keefe out!” He said as he flipped his communicator shut.

“You run a tight ship, huh?” Noah asked with a stunned look on his face as they began to walk.

“Have to if you want to amaze and impress the commanding officers.” Billy said with a grin.

“I was kidding Billy.” Marc said with a giggle.

“I’m not.” Billy replied with a serious expression as he led the way to the brand new transporter room. “Looks like hell but works like a charm now.” Billy said as he motioned to all the loose wiring and open access ports.

“I thought you said it was finished.” Marc said as he and Noah took their place on the pad and Billy took the controls.

“No, I said it was operational. You never asked if it was pretty.” Billy said as he confirmed the settings. “Coordinates entered, awaiting your command Marc.”

“You’re gonna fit right in.” Marc said with a nod and a grin. “Energize, Chief.” He barely got out with a wink as they began to dematerialize, almost instantly reappearing in the living room at the house. “Jerry!” Marc shouted.

“I’m in the lab.” Jerry shouted as he ran for the living room. “The hospital has me on hold while they get the doctor that was supposed to perform the surgery.”

“Okay, I’ll go wait for him to come on the line. Why don’t you guys run downstairs and get the medical kit. We’ll transport there to get him, and accompany him to our hospital.” Marc said as both boys nodded and ran for the basement.

After retrieving the supplies they needed, both boys dropped it all off in the living room before they heard Marc raise his voice in the lab. “Excuse Me!?!” his voice echoed as they both ran through the door and froze once entering the lab. “Prepped for surgery?!?” Marc nearly shouted at the viewer causing Noah and Jerry to take a step back and open their eyes wide. Marc visibly calmed himself down and became stone cold serious as he continued; “I’ll warn you just once doctor, not a hair on that boy’s head is to be touched. You will surrender custody of him to us upon our arrival or, you will face legal proceedings. I’m sure you don’t want to find yourself standing in front of a Vulcan council for punishment.” Marc said with a flat tone of voice. “Do I make myself clear, Doctor?”

“Go back to your sandbox kid!” the doctor replied with an obvious sneer. “You have no right to decide what is done with this boy; and if you show your pimple-laden face around here I’ll have you arrested.”

Jerry audibly gasped at the doctors comment as Marc turned an even brighter shade of red. “Oh really?” Marc replied calmly while clenching his fists tight enough to turn his knuckles white as Caleb and JR entered the room and froze just as Jerry and Noah had. “Then may I suggest you call whatever authorities you think will help you and expect my arrival. Furst out!”

Jerry grabbed Noah’s arm as the four watched Marc literally slam the system into standby. “Doesn’t he remind you of Cory when he’s mad.” Noah whispered receiving a slow nod from Caleb.

Marc took a deep breath and spun in his chair to look at the boys. “Where’s Eddie?” He simply asked as he stood up.

“Um… He’s out front at the security shack.” Caleb answered to Marc who stood and began to leave the room with a determination none of the boys expected as he was talking. “Wait up!” Caleb shouted as he and the rest followed.

“Eddie!!! Eddie!!!” Marc ran out to the yard shouting with the rest closing in. “In an emergency where a child is in mortal danger, what would be the correct course of action from this division?”

Eddie thought for a moment and looked at Marc curiously. “You would request condition to be set to red and then advise HQ of the proposed course of action required, why?”

Marc’s voice cracked as he took a deep breath and replied “Then… Um… Set condition red, Mr. Fraser. We need to go to work like, now…”

Eddie looked at Marc in shock for a second and scanned the faces of Caleb, Noah, Jerry and JR. After noticing all the serious expressions, he then flipped open his communicator. “Headquarters, this is Lt. Fraser. Set Security Condition Red on orders of Dr. Furst. This is not a drill; set Security Condition Red on order of Dr. Furst. Acknowledge.”

“Understood and acknowledged Mr. Fraser. Condition red has been set per orders of Dr. Furst, AI Division. Relaying condition status, All Divisions!” Alec rushed to say before everyones communicator squealed “Condition Red; Condition Red – this is NOT a drill! All personnel contact AI division HQ for assignment.” Repeating the announcement two more times before going silent.

“Your orders Dr. Furst?” Eddie asked in a professional tone as he drew his Phaser and set it’s level.

“Mr. Fraser. We have to assemble a team to handle a rescue, possibly a forceful extractio…” Marc managed to get out before his communicator alerted him of an incoming message. “Jerry, could you give him the details while I take this?” Marc requested as he unclipped his communicator.

“Yes Sir!” Jerry snapped as Marc separated from the group. “Dr. Furst here.” Marc answered.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Oceanic Division HQ:

Danny was sound asleep, cuddled up with Cory and Sean. A sudden noise brought him into a semi-awake state. At first he thought he was still dreaming, but then the message that was being announced got through the fog in his brain.

“… Condition RED, Condition RED! This is NOT a drill! All personnel contact AI Division Hq for assignment.”

Danny and Cory both sat up and looked at each other.

“What the heck is that?” Danny asked.

Cory shook his head. “I don’t know; but we’re gonna find out!”

One of the boys had flipped on the lights in the room. Danny looked around, first seeing Skylan, the new Australian Oceanic Division Head, staring at them in shock as the rest of the group rubbed their eyes and sat up.

“Oh SHIT!” Danny exclaimed as he watched Timmy, Ricky, and Skylan’s little brother Kane transform into full war paint. “Cory; there’s trouble!”

Cory glanced at the boys. “Oh shit is right! Sky, we need a terminal NOW!”

Sky nodded his head and motioned for Cory and Danny to follow him. “Sean, wake Mom and Linda. I’m gonna find out what’s up.” Cory ordered.

As they walked out of the room, Cory flipped open his communicator. “Headquarters, this is Patriarch Short. Patch Doctor Furst into this call – Priority One!”

“This is Alec; I’m on it Cory. HQ reports ready for action.”

“Good deal Alec; notify Terra Main I require transporters standing by for emergency transport. Condition Red confirmed.” Cory continued.

Just then, Marc came on the line. “Dr. Furst here.”

Before anyone could respond, Danny spoke up. “Marc, what’s wrong?”

“Dude, I just finished a call with some prick in Arkansas claiming to be a doctor.” Marc said with the stress in his voice showing through the professional tone he was attempting to maintain. “They have a child who was brutally assaulted and plan to make things worse, The bastard practically dared me to attempt to stop him.”

“Report, Dr. Furst.” Cory responded in an emotionless tone.

“Yessir.” Marc replied, knowing he had Cory’s full attention by his response. “Earlier today we received a distressed call from a Mrs. Amee Wiggins regarding her previously missing great grandson, Daniel K. Wiggins, IV of whom authorities recovered in an extremely battered condition. He is in medical custody as his mother, I should say abductor is being held as they dismiss the charges against her claiming it was self defense.” Marc paused taking a deep breath. “The woman who had abducted young Daniel when he was merely a toddler attacked him with a knife after learning he was gay. It is reported that out of self defense she slashed at his arms repeatedly, literally shredding his flesh and then proceeded to cut his shorts off of him and remove um…” Marc sniffled, not being able to continue without regrouping first.

“Alec; Intelligence and Security scramble – NOW!!” Cory announced with a steely tone to Alec, who was still monitoring the conversation. “Continue, Doctor.”

Marc took a deep breath. “Dixon is in the process of being prepped for a sex change against his will. I have all but ordered them to halt their actions but they are refusing.” Marc choked back what very well could have been a sob and continued. “I can help him Cory. They are treating this as if he deserves to be made into a girl, and laughing in my face because they plan to proceed to fix the… um… as they call him, The Little Queer!” He finished almost spitting out his final words. “Please, we gotta get him out of there.”

“Alec, are the twins far enough in their training to work alone?” Cory growled.

Alec paused, then replied. “Yeah, I think so, but …”

“Inform them to stand by for immediate transport. Marc needs telepaths; he’s getting the best. If J.C. has any questions …”

“Tell him to call me!” Teri growled from behind Cory.

Cory continued. “Marc; take a team, get that kid no matter what. Alec; any support Marc needs give it to him. If that so-called doctor touches that boy, castrate him – and I mean that literally. MOVE!”

“Team assembled and standing by sir.” Caleb could be heard reporting to Marc. “We will have him here within the hour.” He added.

“Thank you Cory.” Marc replied to his communicator through an obvious sniffle. “I’ll inform you when this operation is complete. Marc out.” He said as strength built in his voice as he spoke and signed off.

Cory turned around and faced his mom. “This one’s ours.” he stated in a steely voice.

“Understood.” Teri replied before turning to Skylan’s mother Linda, whose white face clearly showed she was in shock. “Linda, this is what these boys are all about. They’ve got it under control; I don’t know about you but I need a coffee about now.”

Linda nodded weakly. “He wasn’t serious about what they could do to that doctor, was he?”

“Dead serious; and perfectly within his rights.” Teri replied grimly as they left the room.

Danny laid a hand on Cory’s shoulder. “What now, bro?”

Cory pulled Danny and a still-shocked Sky into a three-way hug. “Now we hope Marc gets there in time. If not, there is one doctor who will be sitting down to take a leak for the rest of his life.”

Sky finally spoke. “HOLY…. You were SERIOUS?!”

Cory nodded grimly. “When Marc made that call, the boy was put under our protection. Vulcan laws apply now; and if they screw up they’ll find that out the hard way.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

A.I. Division Compound:

“Report Mr. Fraser.” Marc stated as he and Caleb rejoined the growing group on the front lawn as the rest of the boys from the hospital had already beamed back in.

“All units standing by, Terra Main reports the U.S.S. Lafayette ready for site to site transport. We are awaiting final arrivals.” Eddie got out just in time for the twins to beam in. “Correction, team assembled and awaiting final orders sir.” Eddie said nodding over to Jamie and Jacob.

“Okay then…” Marc stated nervously as he opened his communicator. “Lafayette, this is Dr. Marc Furst, acting Diplomatic Clan Short A.I. Division head, requesting Site to Site transport for 9 from current location to Baptist Children’s Hospital in Little Rock Arkansas. We are operating under emergency status and will require relayed transport for ourselves plus one patient to Clan Short’s new medical facility in Charleston, S. Carolina.

“Acknowledged, Doctor. Standing by for your order under clan issued Red Alert; you have full priority until further notice.”

“Thank you.” Marc replied, “Team, um… draw phasers and um… God help us.” He ordered as best as he could. “Lafayette, energize.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Baptist Children’s Hospital: Little Rock Arkansas

Moments later the team materialized all with phasers drawn in the middle of the hospital’s ER.

“Secure all exits!” Eddie barked as he followed Marc to the nurses station, where the staff was cowering behind the counter.

“I’m Doctor Marc Furst; Clan Short of Vulcan. I require access to Daniel K. Wiggins immediately.”

The head nurse scowled from her hiding spot. “Like you’re really a doctor.”

Eddie flipped out his identification as he pointed his phaser in her direction. “I regret to inform you that you are mistaken. I am Lt. Edward Fraser, Clan Short, A.I. Division, head of security. You are speaking with the acting head of Clan Short’s South Carolina Division; and he is considered a Vulcan Diplomat. I would suggest providing the information he requests if you wish to avoid an interplanetary incident.”

The nurse’s face went pale. “O.R. number three. They just started, so you can’t …”

“THEY WHAT!!!!!” Marc growled. “O.R. three – where’s it at?”

Before the nurse could respond, Jamie shouted “GOT IT! Follow me!”

The entire group ran down the hall following Jamie as he swerved dodging nurses and equipment before screeching to a halt outside of a set of doors and pointed at them.

“Move in!” Marc shouted as Eddie kicked the doors open freezing the team surrounding the operating table.

“Back away from him!!!” Marc shouted as Jacob sneered at one of the doctors. “Which one dude?” Marc asked seeing the icy stare emanating from Jacob.

“Him, he’s the one in charge here.” Jacob stated as he squinted his eyes and continued; “He’s already begun the procedure.”

“He WHAT!?!” Marc shouted as he ran up to the table and slapped the instrument he was using out of his hand. “You were ordered to cease this procedure you son of a bitch!” He growled as he wrapped his hand around the doctors throat, knocking him off balance and into the nearest wall.

“Marc, I have some info for you.” Jacob announced with concern in his voice. “Can I put it in your head?”

“In my head?” Marc turned just barely enough to see Jacob without breaking his grip in the doctors throat. “That is what you said right?”

“Telepathic report Marc, it’s faster and will give you instant access to the information he has for you.” Jamie cut in.

“Oh. Okay. Yeah, go ahead Jacob.” He said as his expression suddenly went blank before turning his gaze back toward the doctor, now even more infuriated.

“What’s Dixon’s status guys?” Marc asked through clenched teeth.

“Marc, we gotta move!” Jerry answered. “The initial incisions have been made already.”

Marc used every ounce of strength in his body to slam the doctor against the wall one more time before releasing his grasp and backing over to the table. “You better pray he survives this or we’ll be seeing each other again when you answer to charges of murder!” He said as he looked over the lifeless body in the bed. “Byron, this piece of trash is yours, you okay to assume command?” He asked as Byron nodded his head accepting command. “Antonio, Jerry, you’re with me.” He continued as he opened his communicator. “Lafayette This is Dr, Furst. 4 to transport directly to predetermined coordinates immediately.”

“Acknowledged Doctor. Energizing now.” Marc’s communicator announced as almost simultaneously the transport began to dematerialize the team.

Once the room was secure, Byron turned to Jamie. “Intelligence team, audible report.”

Jamie scowled at the doctor before clearing his face of all emotion. “We have performed a telepathic scan of the subject. We found that he willingly disobeyed instruction to cease medical procedures on a ward of Clan Short. He also broke Terran laws by performing this procedure on a minor without written parental consent and release.” Jamie looked toward the floor before Jacob saw that his brother was having trouble continuing.

“Byron, he started cutting Dixon before the anesthesia took full affect. He enjoyed listening to him scream in pain. It was his way of punishing Dixon for being gay.” Jacob said as he put his arms around his brother. “He enjoyed it…” He repeated in disbelief. Jacob lifted his head and stared directly into Byron’s eyes. “As stipulated in Vulcan law and instructed by Patriarch Short, this so-called ‘doctor’ is subject to punishment up to and including castration for his actions.”

“That’s a lie!” the doctor shouted as he started to charge towards the twins. His anger turned to shock as he suddenly found himself flying through the air and slamming into the wall hard enough to crack it.

“Your decision, Sir?” Eli growled as he unfastened his leg and sent it flying at maximum speed into the doctor’s genital region.

Byron gave a small smile. “Thank you Jacob. Continue to hold him Eli.” He said as his expression became a dead stare toward the doctor. “Doctor, you have violated your Oath as well as interplanetary statutes. As the victim in this matter is under the protection of Clan Short of Vulcan, it is my responsibility to met out justice in accordance with Vulcan laws. It is my decision that you shall suffer the fate of your intended victim both physically and mentally. As such, the Intelligence team will insert the undesirable emotional responses you have inflicted upon Dixon directly into your conscious mind and make them your own. In addition, as ordered by the Clan Patriarch, you are to be castrated on the spot.”


To Be Continued…

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