Castle Roland


by Zackron


Chapter 6

Posted: N/A


Copyright © 2012 - 2014 by Zackron and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

Near the end of Chapter 5 …

"Alvin, you're monitoring the Satellite images, where did they go?" Logan snapped as he began frantically typing on his own terminal.

"Keep in mind, our images are about five minutes delayed. And the resolution is not the best," Alvin reported.

"I don't care, give me whatever you can find. They should not have just vanished like that," Logan stated.

"Logan?" Theodor called out as he lowered his headset and covered the ear piece, "Sarah is on the radio, and she sounds pretty upset. She keeps going on about seeing a dragon and the boys getting eaten or something."

"What?" Logan asked with concern, hoping that this was not what he feared. "How far out is the Huey?"

"Five minutes out," Alvin answered.

Logan nodded. "Alright. Do the best you can to calm Sarah down. Once Will gets there, I'll have him link with Sarah to help calm her down even more, and find out exactly what it was that she saw."

Theodore nodded as he put the headset back on.

Chapter 6

10:10am MST – Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Footprints LogoPorting to the bridge of the Star Scout, Pete tried his best to reassure Gene when they appeared back on the command deck that Nate would be alright. It looked like he had gotten close to Nate during the time he had been stranded in this dimension. Starting his explanation before Gene had a chance to ask questions, he told him what was happening. "The four people around Nate are in our transporter buffers. Frozen in an energy flux, between moments. Nate is also in the buffers, but he is in there until we get back to the Mars colony, and your Bio-tubes, so Healer Jorge can repair the damage to his body. Once we get there, we'll figure out if those other four were telling the truth or not."

Hand reaching down the side of the captain's chair, he entered the unlock code to the gestalt generator and brought it online, "Prepare to port to Mars orbit." Pulling the energy, once the Gestalt reached full power, he said, "Port." Feeling a sense of relief to be away from Earth, Pete looked at Karl, "Return us to Z plus fifty from the center of the dome, please. While you run a scan of the colony to see what is what," he lowered his voice as Karl moved closer, "See what kind of shape the colony is really in, please. From the looks of things, Nate did his best, and if he decided to create Alterans here in this universe, I need to know what they have to work with. I'll be down at the med Center when you've finished."

Moving over to Gene, who was still worried about Nate, Pete smiled at him, "Gene, can you think of the Med Center. I want you to picture it in your mind, so I can get the portation point from you."

"I can do that," Gene felt relief. Then smiled at the familiar concept he was being asked to perform, "That's the way Nate taught us to port." Thinking clearly, he lifted Pete's hand and placed it at his temple as he brought up the picture of the med center's doorway.

"Thank you," Pete said, as he touched Gene and ported to just outside the med center. Looking around the area he smiled, it was a nice design. And he could see parts of it were taken directly from the archives. Walking into the building, he skidded to a halt. Not moving as he took in the…he was not sure what to call what he was seeing. Thinking they had gone to the wrong area, he asked slowly, "This is your med center?"

Looking slightly embarrassed, Gene nodded his head, "It's the best we could do with what we had available to us, in the way of technology and supplies from Earth. We just are not up to speed yet, to re-create Alteran technology, after all, we've only had a working Fusion Reactor for six months, and the standard size Isolinear chips and boards are just now coming off the assemblers."

Wincing at what he was seeing and hearing, Pete told him honestly, as he felt another couple of people rush in, "I'm not making fun of what you've been able to do with what you've had. I just…" shaking his head he closed his eyes and counted to one hundred, twice. Opening his eyes he pathed openly, while sending a visual of what he was seeing, 'Shaolin Wang, I need you to release every MBA the Scout has on board, and pull up replicator file nine dash EM. That is the emergency med center file. I need those MBA's down here now.'

Pete smiled in relief, as he turned to face the guy he met when he first ported in, who Gene told him led this colony, "Theo, if you give us a half hour, we can bring your med center up to Alteran standards. Then we can see about bringing Nate out of the buffers and getting him healed. I'm sure Healer Jorge will appreciate working with equipment he is used to."

"Agreed, Dragon Lord," Jorge looked around in dismay, as the MBA's started to appear along with a few MCA's to recycle the old equipment as new was brought into existence.

Med center half re-built to something recognizable, Pete hooked up the CORE feeds to the first Bio-tube that had been created and grinned as Healer Jorge finished hooking up the bio-beds across the room. Seeing Jorge heading for the next Bio-bed in the row he told him, "We have one working Bio-tube, we can get the rest hooked up, later,"

Nodding his head, Jorge moved over to the bio-tube and put it through the emergency diagnostics. When the screen flashed green, he tilted his head up and pathed to the scout, "Shaolin Wang, if you would, I am ready for my code patient in the Bio-tube in front of me."

A moment later, Nate was in the Bio-tube in front of him and Jorge quickly cut off enough of Nate's clothes to give him room to work. He would get the rest later, after rebuilding the damage to the young dragons chest cavity. Intubating Nate, he quickly emplaced the waste tube and IV cuff before hitting the red button causing the Bio-tube to initiate code procedure. Even before the lid had fully shut and sealed he had the surgical frame installed and servo gloves donned.

Moving his hands back before the lid of the Bio-tube closed on them, Pete stepped back so the healer had room to work. After thinking about what he saw in Nate's mind, he pathed Karl, 'Karl. Port the four people we have in the buffers to my position. It looks like they were trying to help Nate.'

After what seemed to be less than a second or two, the world once again took form for Daileass, Haden, Stan, and Forth. However, they were no longer in the field that they had just been standing in. Instead, they were in a building which, by the looks of things, appeared to be some sort of medical facility. However, the majority of the equipment that was visible was unfamiliar to any of them.

The healer, who had told the one called Dragon Lord; that they needed to leave quickly, had the boy they had tried to help floating in some strange tube. His hands flying around on the outside as servos mimicked his actions inside the tube.

"I believe I may owe you guys an apology, for the accusation's made against you on Earth." Pete told them in a much calmer tone than he had used moments ago, down in the field. "You have to understand, the guy you found is very important to me, or rather, important to us."

"Understandable," Daileass replied cautiously. "We did our best to stabilize him. He had already lost a lot of blood by the time we got to him."

"I know that, now," Pete agreed. He did not bother to tell them that when Nate was brought out of the buffers he linked his mind with Nate's and saw who had shot him, it was not these four kids. "That's the only reason why we're standing here having this conversation, right now. As crude and primitive as your methods might have been, from what the healer has told me, had you not done the little that you managed to do, there's a very high chance that Nate would be dead right now. But where are my manners? My name is Pete Stranton, of Clan Stranton, of the Kingdom and Empire of Altare."

Daileass looked intensely toward Pete. For some reason, he was not able to telepathically skim the boy's surface thoughts. They were there, protected somehow, and he was pretty sure he could get to them, if he pushed hard enough, maybe. But for now, he decided to go on the visual and perceptive information he was gathering, all of which told him that Pete was being up front and honest with them.

Deciding that it was safe enough to play along for now, Daileass nodded. "It's good to meet you, Pete. I'm Daileass Casey, of the UNIT, and formerly Clan Short of Vulcan, the latter of which probably doesn't mean much at this point."

"Formerly?" Pete asked with curiosity.

"It's a long story," Daileass replied truthfully. "Clan Short had meaning in the dimension we came from, but it no longer seems to exist in this one."

A light seemed to go on in Pete's eyes when he heard they were dimensional travelers. "So, you guys are not from this dimension, either? That would certainly explain a lot. More specifically yourself, and that fancy arm band your friend over there is wearing." Lowering his voice as he looked back over his shoulder to where Healer Jorge was working, he said, "I am so grounding Nate when we get home, at least until he can build a beacon that does not weaken the dimensional walls and does what it is designed to do, and no more."

Haden took a step backward, and cautiously placed his GEAR arm behind him as Pete looked in his direction.

"Is that boy going to die?" Forth blurted out, not able to take not knowing, any longer.

"Forth!" Daileass spoke sharply as he glanced toward the eight-year-old.

"Sorry," Forth replied, looking at the floor in shame.

"I guess I should introduce my friends, as well," Daileass stated. "This is my boyfriend, Haden. And over there is Forth and Stan."

Pete raised an eyebrow when Daileass identified Haden as his boyfriend, but made no further mention of it. "It's good to meet all of you. And to answer your question, Forth, he's going to need to spend the next several days in one of the Bio-tubes, but apparently, thanks to you guys, he should make it."

"Cool," Forth smiled as he looked up.

"Which brings us back to you guys," Pete said easily as he pulled out some form of hand-held device from his pocket. "Although your comment of this not being your home dimension may have helped shed a little light on this, you guys are still somewhat of a mystery."

"How so?" Daileass asked, curious at the device pointed at them.

"Well, for starters," Pete began as he looked back toward Haden, "by all accounts, you appear to be a normal Human. Yet, somehow, you were able to fully block my telepathic scan, something no Human should be capable of. In addition to that, your arm band appears to be slightly beyond the technology level that human society has right now."

"Oh, this?" Haden asked as he looked down at his GEAR. "That's just…"

"… classified," Daileass jumped in before Haden could continue, pulling Pete's full attention to him.

"Look, we can do this the easy way, or the hard way," Pete narrowed his eyes as he glared toward Daileass. "I have a responsibility to my people, part of which is an assessment of what kind of threat you pose to our colony, here."

"I can understand that," Daileass spoke calmly. "But you need to understand, I have a similar responsibility to my people, as well."

"How can you even say that?" Pete asked, sickened at the thought of what his scans told him. "According to my scans, you're not even fully finished. You're some kind of cyborg with a living body and a.." looking at the scanner again he said with a hint of disgust, "quasi technological organic substitute for a brain."

A hint of anger flashed across Haden's eyes. "Daileass is too, alive! I don't care how good those crappy scanners of yours are, they can't see someone's soul. Life doesn't just have to be biological cells and DNA coding."

"Haden," Daileass stated calmly, trying to grab his boyfriend's attention.

"Well, it's true. Besides, how do you think your attack on my mind was blocked? It wasn't me, I suck at the whole mind telepathic stuff, it was Daileass that jumped in to protect me."

"Haden, stand down," Daileass spoke with a bit more strength, causing a concerned and hurt look to flash across Haden's face as he was concerned that he might have gone too far.

Pete nodded slowly as he looked at Haden, "I'm not here to pass judgment on your beliefs. My concern is as I stated, for my people.

"I know my word probably doesn't mean much to you at this point," Daileass said as he spread his hands apart, as if to show he meant no harm, "But as long as your intents are as noble as you claim, you have nothing to fear from us."

Pete gave a single nod in response. The question was, did he trust them enough to help them. Admittedly, coming from another universe was in their favor, but then again, who is to say they had been truthful. He would need to scan one of their minds to be sure if they were telling the truth. Until that happened, he would treat them like the humans of his dimension, teenagers that were searching for their own way.

"Is that a Bio-bed?" Stan spoke up pointing toward a strange looking bed off to the side.

Slightly surprised that Stan would have any knowledge of Alteran technology, Pete nodded as he looked at the youngster. "It is."

"Cool! Are they as good as the Star Fleet bio-beds?" Stan asked excitedly.

"Can we test it out?" Forth jumped in, his words trailing Stan's by Milli-seconds.

Welcoming the change of topic, as well as fitting in perfectly for his hopes to get a much more detailed scan of these guys; he might even be able to get a quantum signature and find out what dimension they came from. Pete smiled at the hyper youngster, so much excitement was exuding off of him he looked like he was vibrating; he looked toward Daileass, to see if the smaller boy would raise any objections.

Daileass sighed as he made a mental note that in the future, Stan and Forth should probably not go on first contact missions. However, he couldn't think of any real reason to object to the scans. If anything, perhaps it might help foster some additional trust between their two groups. "I wouldn't mind seeing some of your medical technology in action as well," he finally nodded.

"Okay," Pete began as he walked over toward the bed. "I need one of you, and only one of you, to climb up and lay down on on the Bio-bed."

Forth and Stan glanced at each other for a few moments. "Stan can go first," Forth sighed, causing Stan to smile.

While Stan did as he was instructed, Pete walked over to the display panel and activated the full diagnostic function by tracing the commands on the terminal next to the head of the bed. While not a healer, the fact Aaron and Fred were healers, did leave him with more than a working knowledge of the equipment. Deciding on giving them a brief overview as he watched the screen light up and kept an eye on the lower corner, where the first green grouping appeared he told them, "The Bio-beds main purpose is to treat minor wounds and illness that would require an overnight stay. Anything requiring longer treatment, or if the patient was a young child who could not stay confined to the bed, we would use one of the Bio-tubes. In just a few moments, the screen behind the bed should start displaying it's initial findings. The healer can then use the provided information to devise an appropriate treatment plan."

"The healer determines the plan?" Haden asked curiously. "Why not let the computer A.I. make that determination?"

"From our experience, a well trained healer is almost always able to devise a more effective treatment plan than the software, The healer could determine that a minor problem the system wants to fix now should wait while a seemingly future problem should be addressed instead. We've found it shortens the treatment by a couple of days…" Pete replied, then trailed off as he as he began to look at the initial set of results, along with a number of various red blinking messages.

"What's wrong?" Forth asked as he saw the worried frown on Pete's face.

Pete remained silent for several moments as his hands brought up different explanations for the warning messages he was seeing at a fast pace. He then began to quickly flip through the many different treatment screens looking for a solution. "Well, that answers that question," he mumbled to himself.

"What does it say?" Stan asked with concern as he sat up.

With a sigh, Pete stopped looking at the screen, and instead walked several steps away from the Bio-bed before turning back toward Daileass and the others. "I saw a few things that may be of concern. But before I can really be sure if we can help you, I need to ask you some questions that may seem a bit personal. I'll fully understand if you guys choose not to answer them."

"Okay," Daileass nodded, not really sure what could have rattled Pete so much, as he internally pulled up the medical scan results he had personally taken of Stan the day before.

"First, you need to understand our equipment is incredibly detailed, especially in terms of genetic analysis," Pete continued. "In reviewing the genetic structure of Stan, the CORE found a lot of low level sequencing abnormalities. If I didn't know any better, I would go as far as saying his DNA was haphazardly thrown together by someone who had no clue what they were doing."

Daileass nodded in understanding. "Stan and Forth are both clones. They were artificially grown in a laboratory, and born at the age of eight."

"That would explain what we found so far," Pete said as he began to pace back and forth. Mumbling under his breath about tearing a new asshole in the person responsible for playing with things they didn't understand.

"I ran a full medical scan on both boys yesterday, and I found nothing wrong with them at all," Daileass was quick to offer as he started to worry.

Pete nodded as he walked back over to the display panel. "On the surface, you're right. Stan appears to be a healthy eight years, and eleven month old boy. As I said, however, our equipment is incredibly detailed. Even with your higher tech, I would be very surprised if you had anything that came close to this."

"Okay, fine. So just what are your scans showing?" Daileass asked, becoming concerned himself.

"In addition to the slapped together genetic structuring that seemed to have been done, the system has so far identified at least twenty-nine base pair anomalies that can lead to long term complications, leading to catastrophic cellular degradation," Jorge, who had finished the surgery on Nate came over to see what had Pete so upset, waved at the screen displaying one particular genetic sequence. "As an example, this anomaly in chromosome eight will most likely lead to a total breakdown of several key organs, and an inability for them to mature to a proper size as the rest of his body will initiate growth when he begins to start puberty."

Daileass glanced at the displayed sequence of genetic code and shook his head. Even with his vast medical knowledge, what he was seeing made very little sense to him, beyond being a series of thousands of letters strung together. "This doesn't mean anything to me at all."

Haden took a step toward the monitor, and intensely starred at it for several long moments. Blinking a few times, he looked toward Daileass. "I don't understand this either, but Barrett seems to understand it perfectly. Although he can't say for sure what this would do, he's pretty confident that the amino acid pairings displayed here do involve vital organs, and spindle timing abnormalities. He is saying something about two completely different specimens being merged together, but nothing seems to have been taken into account for segment offsets."

"I see," Daileass replied gravely. "Forth is a clone similar to Stan, does he have the same problems?"

"The Bio-bed would need to scan him," Pete said as he watched Jorge enter the commands to save the readings on Stan to the CORE for later research.

Daileass nodded in understanding as he looked toward Forth. "Do you want to be scanned as well?"

"Yeah, I guess," Forth replied as he traded places with Stan on the bed.

A few minutes later, Jorge was reviewing the results. Shaking his head, he turned toward Daileass and the others. "They are not the same exact issues that Stan had, but Forth's genetics appear to have been just as poorly put together, and within two to four years, definitely before he starts puberty, he's going to have his own set of complications, with the same prognosis as Stan."

"Thanks, Pete, for identifying and sharing this information with us," Daileass stated. "Is there any way we can get a printout of some sort to take with us so that we can give it to our lead geneticist? If they have two to four years as you have stated, that should be more than enough time for her to develop some corrective gene therapies for them."

"I could do that," Pete thought out loud as he saw Jorge nod his head. "However, unless you already have a strong mastery over genetic engineering, which I'm going to assume you don't, by your surprise at the two's scan results. Otherwise you would have spotted these abnormalities yourselves, even with this information, your looking at decades of sustained medical advancement and research before you get to a tech level needed to repair all of the abnormalities."

"Perhaps, but we can also be incredibly determined when we need to get something done," Daileass replied. "Besides, what else would you have me do, sit back and watch them both get sick and die in two years? It doesn't look like we have a whole lot of options."

"Or," Pete said as he saw how uncomfortable Theo was with these people here on the colony, he hoped he would not take it the wrong way when he made the offer. "You can let us heal the damage." Looking at Healer Jorge, he pathed, 'You can fix what is wrong, right?'

Looking back over his shoulder at the monitor, Jorge hid his wince. What Pete wanted him to do was something he was sure only Aaron could handle. Thinking about it, as the silence grew, his mind fixated on the fact that the alteration process was designed to return a person to perfect health as it converted them to the Alteran genome. 'There might be a way…But I'm not sure if it will work." Looking at Pete he sent, "They are both dead in two years, no longer than that. And it will be painful in the end as their organs literally turn to jelly as they lose all structure. The only thing I can think of that might, and I say might, work is to alter them to the Alteran standard. I give them a fifty fifty chance of survival if we do that.'

The answer was a simple one Pete thought, then again this was not his dimension or colony. And he did not think it would be wise to take these two children back to his dimension when he left, the quantum shift might be to far out of safe parameters for them to survive in their dimension without stabilizers. And that was not something he was willing to build, not after seeing what had happened to Xon. So it was not his decision to make, pathing privately he asked, 'Theo? This is your world your building, they would be your people if we altered them. I can't make this decision for you. It wouldn't be right. This is something you have to decide if you can be comfortable with.'

Glancing at the two scared little kids, Theo walked over to the Bio-bed and stared at the monitor. Not having the faintest idea what all the information was telling him. Tearing his eyes away from the monitor he pathed to the healer that had come with Nate's father, 'Are they Gay?'

Spotting the frown on the Daileass kids face, Jorge answered verbally, "Stan tests green, eight out of eight clusters. While Forth is seven out of eight clusters green."

Ignoring the kid who was starting to look pissed off, Theo turned to the two boys and addressed them, "Hi." Sitting on the edge of the Bio-bed he motioned for Stan to climb up next to Forth, once he was seated next to his friend he hoped he would not scare them further. "My name is Theo, I'm the leader of the Alteran colony on Mars. Pete, over there," he pointed to Pete who was watching carefully, is married to the Leader of the Alteran people. His Clan leads all Alterans everywhere," he nodded at Pete when he said that. Even when Nate left, he would only lead by their permission, he, at times, still thought Nate had made a mistake when he chose him to lead the Alterans in this dimension.

'He didn't,' Pete pathed along with a mental hug.

"Really?" Stan asked while his attention perked up. "That sounds a lot like our clan, Clan Short. Cory and Sean are the leaders, and everyone says they are really good at it. We never got to meet them, but Eric has, and he says they were nice."

"Yeah, and they are married to each other as well," Forth added.

"Guys, this is serious," Haden whispered.

"It's okay," Theo smiled at Haden before he turned his attention back to the two boys next to him.

"I'm not sure how much you understood," Theo said as he shrugged. "Probably about as much as I did. After all I am not a healer." Sighing, he decided he would give them a chance, "there may be a way to fix what is wrong with you. But by doing so, you will be changed. You'll be different than humans." Sliding off the edge of the Bio-bed he grinned, "You know what? Why don't we go take a look at the Bio-dome. Walk through the gardens, we can talk about what it means to be an Alteran. One of our people, because the healer thinks the only way to save both of you is to make you into one of us."

Waiting until Theo had escorted the two boys out of the med bay, Pete answered the frustrated Daileass's unspoken questions by telling him, "They have two years of life, after that their bodies will, for a lack of a better term, melt. Painfully, while they slowly die. Jorge thinks he can give them a fifty, fifty chance of survival by altering their genetics to ours. But it is not our decision, either of ours. It belongs to those two boys who will be given the chance to chose for themselves."

After listening to Pete's explanation, and after a very quick mental meeting with Logan, Barrett and a few others in the mental scape, Daileass nodded as he choose the words for his reply very carefully. "First, I would like to thank you for everything you, Theo, and the others are doing here to help us. By all accounts, your people seem to be technologically advanced enough that what we might say or do is effectively insignificant to you. There are a few things, however, that I feel you need to know before we go much further."

Seeing Pete nod guardedly, Daileass continued. "First, what Stan and Forth said about Clan Short was correct, in the dimension we come from, our clan numbered in the tens of thousands, with Cory Short being the patriarch of that clan. Almost all of our group that ended up in this dimension are also part of a smaller group, known as the UNIT. I guess you could say we functioned as the military arm of the Clan and were charged with the protection of all clan members. The leaders of the UNIT, who also happened to get stuck in this dimension with us as well, are Adam and Logan. Although Stan and Forth are not formal UNIT members, until we can find a way back home to our own dimension, both Adam and Logan will do everything in their power to protect them, just as they would any other member of UNIT. The reason I am telling you all this is so that you understand that there are more people involved in the decision that Stan and Forth have been given, than just them."

Seeing the look on Pete's face, Daileass could tell the taller boy was not liking the direction this was going in. Before Pete could jump in, however, Daileass held up his hand to stop him. "With that being said, however, through the mental bond that I and several of my brothers share, we had a brief meeting where I've filled Adam and Logan in on everything that you guys have informed us of, so far. What it gets down to is Barrett, Haden's twin brother, has literally thousands of years of experience working with genetics, has more or less been able to confirm the key points of your findings, at least to the degree of understanding, we are nowhere close to having the needed technology to help them."

"As such," Daileass continued, "given that this procedure would only have a fifty, fifty chance, if it is something that Stan and Forth decide they are willing to do, then we will not stop them. Especially since it's a lot higher of a chance than we could give them. We would, however, be interested in knowing whatever other details about this process you feel comfortable with sharing. We're not looking for any information you would consider sensitive, but as I said, both Adam and Logan feel very strongly about watching out for the well being of the boys. For example, are there any concerns we will need to worry about should the operation be successful? What would be expected of them, would you simply turn them back over to us, or how specifically would you see things needing to work out?"

How to spin this, Pete thought, without giving out too much information. Especially seeing as it looked like this dimension did not have Aaron in it. Which meant that the Army of God might succeed. And that frightened him far more than letting something slip now, "There are a lot of issues I can see, that would have to be worked out." Hopping up on the Bio-bed Pete stared at the two 'dimensional travelers', he was taking them at their word, mainly because of the tin head asking questions. "First, IF they decide to go through with the procedure, they will be placed in the Bio-tubes, like Nate is, over there," he pointed to his son's Bio-tube. "And while they are asleep, we will alter them on the cellular level; their deepest genetics will be altered and changed to something not human any longer. There are a huge amount of advantages they will gain by becoming one of my race. The immunity from all known diseases is just a small one. They will also gain the ability to travel to anyplace their mind can reach, talk to any of our race mind to mind and by the sheer power of our minds alone, we can move any object we want. Not to mention the longer life and increased intelligence we have."

"As far as returning them to you," Pete winced slightly, enough, tin head picked up on it. "They would not fit in with your people any longer. With all of our advanced gifts, we do have some unique requirements. I doubt you could deal with breakthrough sickness when they entered puberty. That is when our gifts come fully online and we can use them other than by instinct. And I doubt you would deal kindly with them slipping into every male's room as they had an incredible need to have sex as Puberty hit them." Pete grinned at the blush he got from the one called Haden.

"I think Stan and Forth are the last two that you would ever have to worry about running off and trying to sneak into someone else's bed," Haden managed to get out with glowing cheeks.

"Actually, you would be surprised what just a few minor tweaks to someone's genetics could do to their feelings and emotions," Daileass pointed out. "I wouldn't be surprised if there was a genetic tweak that could make you like girls. And, from the sounds of it, they are going to be doing a lot more than minor tweaking."

A look of shock and horror filled Haden's glowing face at the mention of him liking girls. Other than a few very strong head shakes, to indicate his objection, he remained silent.

"What I foresee happening, is if they are altered, they would live here on our colony world," Pete shrugged, knowing that tin head was not as comfortable with that answer, and he would not be with the next statement he made. "While they would be free to travel back and forth to Earth as much as they pleased, between studies, that is. You would not be allowed to visit them here on the Mars colony. To be Human and on Mars is an instant death sentence." Spearing Haden with a look he told them, "No one but those in this room, and Theo, know you are human, Haden. And it will stay that way until you have been returned to Earth. I can do this, because my Clan leads our people and I am higher in the hierarchy than Theo is. The most Aaron will do to me is to make me sleep on the couch, unlike what he can and would do to Theo," he lied.

"I can tell you that if Forth and Stan do survive," Pete told them. "Which I hope they do, even to the point of dragging out their treatment until Aaron can ensure success, the very stars will be their playground."

Having recovered slightly, Haden spoke in a much more serious tone. "As much as I would love to stay here and figure out how all your technology works, at least the electronic side of it, I can understand how dangerous technology like this can be in the wrong hands, and humans, as a race, are nowhere close to being ready for it, so I can understand your position on that. As far as allowing me to be here without killing me, I think I'm a little thankful for that as well. I promise you, other than my link brothers who already have access to everything I've seen or heard, I will not share anything that I've seen or learned here with anyone else. I think I can also safely say that unless you ever try to hurt them directly, none of those that share the link with me will share any of that information either."

Daileass nodded in agreement. "What Haden says is true. As long as your people never directly threaten us, nothing that we learn here will ever be given to anyone else. Believe it or not, I think there may be a lot of similarities between our two groups. A large part of what Clan Short does involves rescuing gay and abandoned youth, and giving them access to education and opportunities that would otherwise be completely out of their reach. From what you have told me, you have very similar views toward your people."

Nearly half an hour had gone by since Haden and the others had vanished. Since that time, Will had linked with Sarah, and shared the memories with Logan and the others through their mental link. Since Sarah was not able to hear anything that was being said, they could only go by what she had seen.

What Sarah had seen was more than enough to make everyone, including Logan, feel a bit on edge. Although the significance of the plasma-based dragon was unclear, it was fairly obvious that it was an intentional effect by the group of kids that had appeared. It was equally obvious that the same group of kids were responsible for their abductions. Unfortunately, little could be determined of their intents, other than they seemed really concerned about the kid that had been shot. Even less could be figured out about where they might have gone, since they disappeared as quickly as they had arrived, leaving only Sarah behind.

None of this helped with Barrett's concerns. Although he had managed to find himself a chair to sit down in, so he was not in the way of the others, the fact that they had been snatched away so easily was of great concern to him. In fact, if it weren't for the fact of the dragon, or how the group appeared with one of it's members completely nude, he almost would have suspected that it might have been people from the KLAUS society. But their tactical formation was all wrong for it being anyone from KLAUS, at least if it was the same as 'his' KLAUS society.

"They're back!" someone cried out, pulling Barrett from his thoughts.

"Where are they?" Logan snapped as he ran over to Alvin.

As they spoke, Barrett could literally feel the mental connection with his twin re-establishing itself, almost as if the part of him that had been missing for the last thirty minutes was put back in it's place, making him whole once more.

"GPS can't find them, at least on Earth," Alvin replied.

"Mars," Logan whispered, "They're on mars."

Alvin's fingers flew across the keyboard. "That's a possibility with the GPS results I'm getting, but the GPS system in place is really crappy, to put it nicely."

Logan nodded and closed his eyes for a few moments. 'Mentalscape meeting in my head, now.' Logan sent to everyone in the room that needed to be aware of it. Everyone else in the room was completely oblivious to the small shift. The only sign that something might have been happening was with Barrett, who was not used to being pulled into mentalscape meetings, as his eyes fluttered closed, and his head tipped back in his chair for a few seconds.

"Barrett? Are you okay?" Hac asked with concern.

Barrett opened his eyes to find himself in a huge open area which, from the one or two other times he had been brought here in the past, he quickly recognized as the mentalscape within Logan's mind. Nearly all of the UNIT leadership was there, including Adam, Logan, the chipmunks, Juan, Jory, Chang, and Daileass. But most importantly, Haden was there.

"Haden!" Barrett cried as he ran over to his twin, and wrapped him in a hug. "I was so worried about you."

"Um, okay," Haden answered with a small degree of surprise.

"You guys have been completely out of contact for thirty minutes," Logan stated.

"Yeah, we've been going crazy trying to find you," Barrett added.

"Confirmed," Daileass announced. "All of my internal chronometers are off by twenty nine minutes and thirteen point seven zero five seconds from Logan's system."

"Thirty minutes? Seriously?" Haden asked with surprise.

"We must have been held in some type of stasis," Daileass answered. "Either that, or a temporal flux."

Haden thought for a few moments, before he shook his head. "No, they already had the kid in some kind of weird bed-tube, so we probably were in some type of stasis device."

"Okay, Let's assess the situation, people," Logan announced as everyone took a seat at the large conference table that was there. "Since we arrived in this dimension forty-eight hours ago, this is the first indication that we have had that any high-tech society is in play on the planet. As such, we may need to re-evaluate a few things."

"Is it possible that we are dealing with a Star Fleet derivative? Maybe one that did not originate on Earth? Perhaps the Vulcans?" Will started things off.

Daileass shook his head. "I don't think so. Other than the teen that was in black armor, none of the other guys were wearing any type of uniform. Plus, from what I've seen of the technology that is in the room we are currently in, there is nothing at all that resembles Star Fleet tech."

"I agree," Haden added. "Although I didn't focus much on Star Fleet protocol, I'm pretty sure it's not standard procedure to have a member of your landing team completely nude."

"I don't know," Tommy offered. "It could make for a far more interesting Star Fleet." There were a few chuckles around the table, but the seriousness of the situation ensured that they were short lived.

"I think we can assume we're not dealing with a Star Fleet," Logan stated. "First things first, though. Are you guys in any danger?"

Daileass shook his head. "Honestly, I don't think so. I think the worst part is over. I'm not sure why yet, but these guys seem incredibly concerned about the kid we were helping. Before you pulled us into the meeting, one of them called Pete, who seemed to be their leader, was apologizing to us."

"I think being concerned about one of your own makes sense, I can see us being concerned if the tables were turned," Haden added.

"Yeah, but we wouldn't start kidnapping people that we found trying to help one of our guys," Ronnie replied

"That's not exactly true," Will countered. "There have been several instances in the past where some of our guys might enter an unknown situation, and the best way to secure the situation would be to have Daileass teleport everyone to holding cells until we could sort things out."

"We could have been in their version of holding cells," Daileass agreed. "Although, I have to admit it's a bit unsettling to have the tables turned on us like that. Going from being the ones with superior tech, to the ones having to deal with other groups that utilize superior tech."

"Agreed," Logan stated. "I don't suppose anyone has any plans for getting these guys off Mars if we have to?"

"Don't look at me," Will threw up his hands. "You ain't going to get any of my birds anywhere close to that high off the ground."

"About the only thing that we've seen in this universe that might have a chance would be NASA's space shuttle, but that thing is so fragile, it would be a logistical nightmare to try to pull off," Simon offered.

"I hate to say this, but the way things look now, the only way we are getting back is if these guys bring us back," Daileass replied.

Logan thought for a few moments, before slowly nodding in agreement. "Unfortunately, I think Daileass is right. As much as I dislike being placed in this position, any real chance of getting you guys back rests in the hands of those who abducted you."

"Don't we have the plans to some of the higher tech stuff?" Adam, who had been silent up to this point in the meeting, asked as he looked toward his lover, "There should be something in either your computer or in Daileass."

"There is," Logan agreed. "Unfortunately, it's all based off of higher tech that doesn't exist here. We would need to build the tools to build the tools to build the facilities that can build the technology to create the higher tech tools and so forth. We're looking at several generations of tech level we have to jump through. That's not something we can pull off overnight."

Adam sighed and nodded.

"I think we're safe for now," Daileass continued. "We'll go ahead and continue talking with these guys, and see what we can come up with."

"Alright," Logan replied. "Unless anyone else has any objections or anything else to offer, let's run with that. Go ahead and talk to our new friends, see what you can learn, and see if you can figure out what their intentions are. Once we get a better handle on the situation, we'll reassess the situation from there."

When he had finished, Logan spent a few moments looking around the table. Seeing that no one had anything else to add, he stood up, causing the others to stand up as well. "Just remember guys, no matter how far away from here you are, you are still representing UNIT."

Haden and Daileass both nodded before they faded away. Moments later, everyone else that was part of the meeting faded away as well.

"Barrett? Are you okay?" Hac asked with concern.

A few seconds later, Barrett lifted his head back up, opened his eyes, and smiled. "Yeah, now that I know Haden is safe, I am."

Hac looked like he was about to say something, before he stopped himself. "Lemme guess, that mind place thing again?"

Barrett nodded as he stood up. "Yeah, I guess that's one way to call it."

Hac sighed. "Well, whatever it is, you no longer seem to be as torn up about what's going on, so that's a plus at least."

"Yeah, but now we have to figure out how to get Haden back from Mars," Barrett commented. "Which means the importance of getting that transmitter up and working."

Hac looked around and quickly pulled Barrett off to the side, out of the earshot of anyone else. "Even if our society exists here, it's not like we have a space fleet we can send up to grab them."

"The class 2 and class 1 assault drones are orbital and pressure certified," Barrett countered. "That was one of their design requirements for their deep water operational modes. Plus, I even know of a few 'unofficial' tests that occurred in taking them out of the earth's atmosphere," Barrett stated.

Hac sighed. "Even if that were the case, there is a huge difference between having a drone skim the outer atmosphere, and surviving a trip to and from another planet."

"Look, my brother, the one I just met less than a week ago, is trapped on Mars right now," Barrett said with a bit more force. "I'm not going to loose him this soon. If he's stuck on Mars, and I have the resources to help him, then I will."

"Okay, okay," Hac gave up, not wanting this to turn into a fight, especially with how emotional Barrett was acting at the moment. "First thing's first, though. We have to find out if there is a society here, and if they even have the same drones that we had."

Barrett nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I know."

Theo escorted the two eight year olds out of the med center and watched as their innocence showed as they stared at the wonders that was the administrative section. The brightly windowed columns, people walking around and over the bridges while several long boats floated in the river. He even saw them staring at the coffee shops that had sprung up along the promenade. "Come on, you two, we'll start our tour by going through part of the bio-dome where you can see the gardens. From there, we will go to the habitat section where you can see what the apartments you would live in look like. Afterward, we can finish walking around level one of the bio-dome and end back here so you can see the school and training centers.

Having very seldomly ventured outside of the Vegas compound that had been built for them by the Clan in their old dimension, almost everything Stan and Forth's eyes fell on was something new and wonderful to be absorbed. Sure, both boys had heard the stories of the older kids that had visited the Vegas Compound about how cool it was to go into space, or to another planet, and they had read and studied about what life was like off world, but it was a totally different ballgame when you were actually experiencing it.

Although both boys were very interested in looking at everything they could, Forth seemed to be far more curious and prone to stopping than Stan was. Finally, it got to the point that Stan grabbed hold of Forth's hand, and pulled him forward so that they could keep up with their guide.

"Through here." Theo took them through the large airlock. "We enter Level one, section nine of the Bio-dome. This is mainly the section we've planted tropical fruits like banana's and Mango. If you look between the fruit trees, you can see the vegetable gardens that have been planted. I think this section has sweet potato's and watermelon planted in it right now." As he talked, Theo skimmed Stan and Forth's minds. They were an open book, and some of what he saw in there, he had to really clamp down on his emotions so he would not scare them. Even if it were not directed at them, his anger at what happened to them was hard to control. Pointing to the left, he smiled, "The habitat section is this way."

"Forth!" Stan cried out as his best friend slipped away from him, and ran over to the railing.

"Whoa! You need to see this," Forth replied, as he waved Stan toward him. "This place is ginormous!"

Sighing, but unable to resist the chance to see something cool, Stan quickly ran over to the railing that Forth was standing next to, and gazed in wonder as he looked down. From what they could tell, they were standing at the top level of a huge underground complex. They could easily see four or five other levels below them with even more plants and trees, as well as a lot more kids, many of which didn't have a single piece of clothing on. Not only that, but a bunch of the kids looked like they were having a lot of fun playing with each other. Although they couldn't tell for sure, one of the games of choice seemed to be some variant of 'tag'.

Looking above them, the boys could see one of the largest domes ever, showing a star filled sky outside. Forth was convinced that the open area was large enough that a small starship could easily fit inside the place. Down toward the bottom of the large open air area they could see rivers and even more trees and plants.

"This place looks way cool!" Forth stated in a voice filled with wonder and delight as he looked back toward Theo. "Stan and I would really be allowed to live here?"

"Yes you would, if you chose to let us try to fix what is wrong with you." Pointing over the railing Theo told them, "There are five levels planted just like this one. Though the crops are different on each one. And each level has a living habitat linked to it, but for now, we are going to go to habitat one, level one, for your tour. The final sixth level is a large lake that is linked to all the other Bio-domes by the underground river.

"There are more of these huge domes?" Stan asked with surprise.

"Of course there are," Forth answered. "Didn't you just hear him say that!"

Stan sighed as both boys eagerly followed closely behind Theo. "Do you think he will let us ask him questions?" Stan whispered to Forth as they walked.

Hearing what Stan asked, Theo stopped and faced the two young boys. "You two can ask me any questions you might have."

"Okay, well," Stan began slowly. "We did a lot of research about the other planets in our solar system, and if I remember right, Mars doesn't have all that much water, but this place seems to be filled with rivers, lakes, and tons of water everywhere. Were our lessons wrong?"

"That's a dumb question," Forth glared at Stan. "Haven't you been paying attention the last two days. We're in a different dimension, now, so probably this Mars is different from our Mars."

"A well thought out question, Stan," Theo smiled as Stan beamed at him. "Mars indeed does not have water on its surface, instead, most of it boiled off ages ago when it lost most of its atmosphere. One of the nifty things we can do is create water from the soil, even import it from the ice fields around Jupiter. You'll find that we have more water in lakes, streams and rivers, meter for meter, than Earth does."

As Theo gave his explanation, Forth allowed his eyes to wander away. Apparently Stan's question wasn't as dumb as he thought. As he glanced around, his eyes spotted something off in the distance in one of the next areas or sections or whatever it was Theo referred to them as. Blinking a few times to make sure he's eyes were not playing tricks on him, all concerns about Stan's question were forgotten as he saw what looked like real stalks of corn growing. And of course, where there was growing corn, that could only mean one thing. Without really thinking about it, Forth's hand slipped into his pocket where he still had the popcorn seeds that Sarah had given him the day before.

"Are those the apartments?" Stan asked excitedly as they entered another section, pulling Forth out of this thoughts. "Can we go see them?"

"Yes, those are the apartments," Theo smiled, still surprised at how much energy and excitement the two boys were filled with. "That's where our tour was going next, so yes, we can go look at them."

"Cool! Come on Forth!" Stan replied excitedly as both boys took off toward the first set of apartments. "Look, they even have plants growing on top of the apartments. That means we would get our own personal garden!"

"Sweet!" Forth chimed as he joined Stan. "I wonder if we could grow popcorn in our garden."

"Probably," Stan answered. Before the boys managed to reach the first apartment, Stan stopped dead in his tracks, causing Forth to do the same. "Look, past that apartment over there, it looks like there is a park or playground or something there."

"We'll have to check that out, too!" Forth bounced. "I wonder how many people here like popcorn, maybe if we meet a bunch of new friends, we can have some of them growing popcorn in their gardens, too!"

"Maybe," Stan replied thoughtfully.

"When you are first assigned an apartment," Theo told them as he started for the apartment across from his and Gene's place. "Gene and I live across the path by the way. They each are pretty much basic, like this one. It will be up to you to personalize them, so they fit your personalities."

"Can we look in one of them?" Forth asked hopefully.

Theo nodded. "You probably shouldn't go into any of the other apartments, but you are welcome to check out Gene and mine. We really haven't had a lot of time to do much personalization to it with everything else that has been going on, but it will at least give you…"

Theo never got a chance to finish his statement. Before he was half way though with it, both boys were running toward the apartment that Theo had indicated. For the next several minutes, they ran in and out of every room in the place, and thoroughly checked out every possible nook and cranny both inside and out. This, of course, meant several trips up to the roof of the apartment to check out the flowers that were growing on top of it. The entire time, Forth would occasionally make comments about different places where they could have their popcorn growing.

Once the boys had checked every possible spot they could possibly check, in the apartment, they began to do a second check of everything, and after that, a third check.

"At this rate, you two are going to know these apartments better than the assemblers," Theo chuckled.

"We can't help it that they are so cool," Stan replied as he and Forth stopped their investigation, and walked over to Theo. "I still can't believe that we would be able to get our very own apartment like this."

"Yeah, that's going to be really super cool!" Forth agreed, with a serious nod of his head.

Shaking his head as he listened to their thoughts, Theo followed the hyper duo back up to the rooftop garden. Pointing down the tunnel at all the other apartments, he told them, "We all live in this habitat, mostly because there are not more of us on the colony, right now."

"Why not?" Stan asked curiously. "I can't think of any kid alive who wouldn't want to live in a place like this."

"You can't just go grabbing every kid you see, and bringing them to someplace like this," Forth countered. "Remember how many mean kids existed back in our own universe. And remember what Robert was telling us last night about the kids in his school that would beat him up because he was different from them?"

"Yeah," Stan slightly deflated at the memory. "Well, then we could just find the nice kids, the ones who wouldn't be mean."

Forth nodded. "Yeah, back in our own universe, that's what our clan did. We would help find kids that needed help, and give it to them. I bet we could do the same thing here, and we could find as many kids as you wanted, to live here!"

Stan bobbed his head up and down in full agreement with Forth.

"Lets go back to the dining hall, I want to show you something," Theo told them, thinking about what they had said. Only to be blocked by Forth who had his hand in his pocket.

"I have one more question," Forth stated seriously as his resolve quickly melted, "I mean, if you don't mind." Seeing Theo nodding for him to go on, Forth continued. "So far, we've seen all kinds of cool things here on Mars. I don't think Stan or I have ever seen so many different plants and flowers and trees in one place before. However, we haven't seen anything in regards to popcorn,

yet. Can popcorn even exist on Mars?"

"Popcorn?" Theo asked as his eyebrows raised slightly.

"Oh boy, here we go," Stan slapped his forehead. "We can ask about this later, Forth."

"No, we can't, I don't know about you, but I don't think I would be able to survive a day in a place that didn't have popcorn," Forth turned toward Stan with a dead serious look on his face before he looked back up toward Theo. "I don't know if you realize this, but popcorn is one of the most essential elements to any kid's diet. Without popcorn… well, you don't even want to think about what could happen. Believe me, I've done a lot of research into this. You know all the school fights and stuff that go on? Well, ninety-five percent of the time, there is no popcorn involved. And your typical school bully? Almost every interview I've read, they never once state that they had a sufficient amount of popcorn in their diet! If you really want your colony to survive, and the kids to get along good with each other, then you need to fully understand just how vitally essential delicious tasting popcorn is to a kid's well being."

"I think he gets the picture," Stan stated meekly.

Forth shook his head. "I don't think so. Look at that expression on his face, he looks like he's almost an adult, so how could he truly know? Don't you understand the magical and spiritual transformation a single popcorn seed goes through to blossom into a fluffy white kernel of corn? Every bite of popcorn that someone takes, it's like experiencing the miracle of nature in your mouth. It's like, you get to share in a small part of the wonders of the universe, and it helps you understand things on a whole new level that you never thought possible before. Not to mention, it tastes really yummy. So how could you possibly deprive kids of such an important element to their lives? How?"

As Forth finished, Stan took a step backward and looked toward the ground, feeling convinced that Forth had most likely just ruined any chances they had of being able to live in such a cool place as this.

"I suppose you can have some garden space, just like everyone else can have their own garden space. To plant some popcorn," Theo said slowly. Skimming their surface thoughts on why they were so fixated on popcorn.

"Come on, I think you will like the snack I know we can get," Theo told them as he walked down the steps and led them back to the kitchen area. If they were fixated on popcorn he would give them a treat, maybe then, they could forget about it and think about what they were supposed to be considering. Moving to one of the cupboards, he pulled a bag off the shelf and scanned the barcode before handing it over, "We do have something you might like, its called cheese-corn."

With Forth's thirst for popcorn seemingly satisfied, the two boys began to chat with each other as they cheerfully munched on their newly discovered snack. They started comparing notes on all the cool things that they had seen on their tour, how things might be different here as compared to living in the UNIT base where they had stayed for the last two days, or even back when they lived in the Quads with Eric and their other brothers before they ended up here.

Theo was slightly surprised about the seriousness and depth of consideration both boys seemed to be giving this decision as they looked at all the different angles which choosing to live here would mean, even going as far as talking about how it might impact their other friends if they choose to stay. The one thing both boys very clearly avoided was mentioning anything about what they had learned in the med center.

Stopping at Section Twenty, Theo pointed to the newly tilled up soil, "If you want to plant popcorn you can have a section here in this garden. It will be ready to plant sometime next week. Walking back to the administrative section in silence, Theo stopped at the railing and pointed out different areas they could explore. Then turning to them, because he picked up they had made a decision he asked, "So do you need to know anything, or are you ready to make up your minds. If you want to do this, and the only people we will listen to are the two of you, all you have to do is say so. It's your lives we are talking about."

"What do you mean that we are the only ones you are going to listen to?" Stan asked curiously. "Daileass is in charge of our group, and Adam and Logan are in charge of all of us. Forth and I are just kids, we don't have any rank or anything. So even if we were to decide we wanted to live here, if they said no, then they wouldn't allow us to stay."

Theo looked up through the dome as he tried to come up with an answer that would not confuse them. "How to say this without being mean as you put it earlier, Forth." Looking back at the two of them he saw them staring at him, "Haden is human, so he has no say, here. Not that I am going to hurt him or anything. Pete already gave him a free pass for today. And your Daileass, well, he is not human, but I'm not sure what he is. And while he may be your friend," he held up a hand to stop Forth from defending his friend, "He also has no say here."

Sitting down on the path, Theo looked at the two so he was not towering over them, "You are on our colony, now. So the only people who really have any say are Pete and I. And Pete has more say than I do. But I agree with him; these are your lives we are talking about. If you don't get fixed up, you will die. Not of old age, but soon, like two years soon. There is a chance, and I do mean a chance we can fix you up. But that means you would live with us, become one of us. And I have to be truthful with you. This chance is only a fifty, fifty chance. Which means it might work, and it might not. But it is a chance that no one but the two of you should decide to make. You can ask Haden and Daileass what they think, but you…each of you have to make the choice."

"Do I think you should take the chance?" Theo said as he looked at their scared faces. "Yes, I do, because, a fifty percent chance of living is better than no chance of living. No, I think you both deserve that chance. You are good people. Even with what has happened to you in your lives, you want to help others. And have fun doing so," he grinned at them as he added that. One of the tenants, the things that set my people apart from others, is we actively tell our children to chase their dream. And we give them everything they need to be able to do that." Standing up, he brushed the grass clippings off his legs as he started for the air lock, waving at the two to follow him.

Stopping at the railing he waited until they silently stood on either side of him. Pointing to spots along the promenade, "The medical center is the big red column in the center there. To the left on the other side of the bridge is one of our schools; imagine the things you can learn in there." Pointing to the lower side against the wall, "We have offices and such where you can direct the assemblers to build your projects. If you wanted to build a space ship, you could, but I have to warn you, you would have to wait your turn, just like everyone else.

Once Theo seemed done pointing things out to them, Stan and Forth shared a serious look with each other for several long moments, before both boys nodded at each other. "Theo? I think we've decided. We would like you to try to fix us, so we can become one of you, and live here on Mars."

"Is that your choice as well, Forth? I'm pretty sure I know what your choice is, but this is an important enough decision that I need to actually hear you say it," Theo said softly.

Forth slowly nodded. "Yeah. That's my decision as well. I mean, even if the part about Stan and I dying in a few years didn't exist. I still think I would like to stay here and become an Alteran. Stan and I aren't soldiers or fighters, I'm not even that good at laser tag. But I think a place like here, well, maybe we could make a lot more of a difference here helping others."

Theo nodded in agreement. "Alright, if you two are sure, then let's go share your decision with the others." Both boys nodded as they followed Theo back toward the medical center.

Pete was still quietly talking with Daileass and Haden when Theo, Stan, and Forth walked back into the room.

"Hey guys," Daileass stated as he looked over toward the new arrivals. "Did you enjoy your tour?"

"Oh yeah!" Stan bubbled as both boys ran over to them. "This place is awesome. Actually it's way beyond awesome."

"Yeah, and they even invented a totally cool new food, called cheese-corn!" Forth added.

"Oh boy, I think I can already tell what Forth's decision is going to be," Haden grinned.

Daileass nodded as well. "So I take it you two have made a decision?"

"Yeah," Forth answered seriously.

"We want to let them try to help us, and then live here with them," Stan spoke in an equally serious tone.

"I kind of expected as much," Daileass replied solemnly. "You guys understand that there is only a fifty, fifty chance that this will work, right?"

Both boys nodded their understanding. "What are the chances if we don't?" Forth asked in response. "Zero, zero?"

Daileass sighed, "I won't lie to you guys. Right now, we don't have the knowledge to even start to understand how to help you. But, I can say this. Two years is a really long time, and I can assure you that Doctor Janet will work as hard as she possibly can to figure out how to help you."

"It's not just that," Stan jumped in. "Even if they weren't going to try to fix us, I think Forth and I would still want to live here. With the UNIT being all military and all, well. Forth and I never really seemed to fit in. I mean, yesterday, Logan just gave us fake positions to make us feel good and all, but we don't know anything about military stuff."

"Yeah, I'm not even good at laser tag," Forth offered.

"You guys know that if it was something you wanted, we could easily teach you about military stuff, right?" Daileass asked, although in his heart, he already knew that both boys had made up their minds, and nothing short of forcing them back to Earth would change that.

"We know," Stan confirmed Daileass's belief. "But Forth and I both think that we can make a lot more of a difference being able to live here."

"I have no doubt in that," Daileass agreed. "If that's truly how both of you feel, I'll fully support your decision."

Relieved that Daileass was not mad or upset with them, Stan and Forth each threw their arms around Daileass, as he wrapped the boys in a hug. With a single nod from Daileass, Haden joined in the hug as well.

While they hugged, Daileass shifted himself so that he could give both Stan and Forth a kiss on their forehead while at the same time briefly skimming each boy's surface thoughts just to make sure this was something they both truly wanted. Once the hug broke, Daileass looked seriously toward Theo. "Okay, I think we can all accept the choice that Stan and Forth have made. How do you want to take things from here?"

"Now," Pete nodded at healer Jorge. "Stan and Forth will be placed in one of the Bio-tubes. And the repair procedure will be started." Looking at the two he smiled, "Come on over here so I can show you what will happen. I can use Nate as an example." Moving over to the bio-tube, Pete noticed the Clan Medallion on top of the Bio-tube. Just like Xon's when he had been placed in their version of the Bio-tube. Picking it up and placing it in his pocket he smiled at the two eager boy's. Not even minding the tin head being overly inquisitive. "Nate is floating in a liquid we cal Regen fluid. And if you look closely, you can see two small tubes going to the cuff around his arm." Waiting until they said they did he continued, "The medication he needs to be healed is sent through those tubes. There is one other tube that the healer inserted into his butt, that one removes all the waste so he does not have to go to the bathroom while being healed." He skipped over the lack of a catheter, hoping they would not ask about having to pee. "And finally the tube going into his mouth, well, it allows him to breath while being submerged."

"Wait," Forth frowned as he looked at the boys chest, "Where are the holes from when he was shot?"

"The healer fixed those," Pete told them. Toning down his explanation for them, "He has a nifty device that can cause the skin to go back together like it was never cut in the first place." He noticed the widening of Daileass's and Haden's eyes at that bit of info and filed it away.

"Unlike Nate, who had damage that needed to be fixed by the healer from the bullet holes, the two of you would just need to climb in one of the bio-tubes. One each," Pete told them as he went over the telepathic report Theo was pathing him. "Then Healer Jorge would clean an area on your temple, then your chest and finally on your arm. He will place a sensor on your temple and chest. So we know what is going on inside your body at all times."

Going over to the next Bio-tube, Forth and Stan peaked inside the open lid. Picking up various tubes and looking at the imprint of where a person would lay down. Glancing over his shoulder, Forth asked, "We are going to have to take our clothes off, aren't we?"

"Yes, But we…" Pete trailed off as he ducked when a shirt came flying his way. Blinking he wondered briefly if they had met his sons in a past life. It was almost like they disliked the idea of clothes as much as the sons of the Clan did.

Falling back on Xon's favorite facial expression he turned and stared at the two visitors, one eyebrow raised in annoyance. Not getting the reference to, 'Spock, set eyebrows to stun'. Evidently they thought it was hilarious. Once Stan and Forth had been placed into a deep sleep by the SOMA Unit, he cleared his throat, "Now that Stan and Forth's treatment has started, what are we going to do with the two of you?"

Haden watched for a few more moments as one of the other healers walked over and started the intubation process for Stan, before he shifted his attention back to Pete. "Well, although you have been beyond generous in making a special exception for me in regards to your rule about Humans not being allowed on Mars, you have also made it clear that I would not be welcome here by your people. I don't know what could possibly have happened to cause you to hate all humans so much, but that's not really my place to ask. It's how you and your people feel, and I need to respect that. So I'm guessing that it would be best for me to leave as soon as possible. If it's within your power to easily get me back to Earth, or you can put me on a ship, or some other holding center that you might have that's not on Mars."

"I doubt Adam and Logan would allow me to stay away from them for however many days it will take this process to complete, either," Daileass stated. "However, there are a few other minor details that I am curious about. For example, is there any way that we would have to get in contact with you, or a best way for you to get in contact with us. Also, you gave both boys a fifty, fifty chance of surviving this process. Is this a situation where you will not know until the entire process has run it's course as to if they will survive it or not, or something that you will know at some stage prior to it's completion?"

Nodding his head, Pete decided to answer the second question the tin head posed, "I would think we would have a good idea of how well the treatment is taking hold sometime tomorrow. We will know by then how long the treatment will take and if we need to try to slow it down until Aaron can get here," he told them as he sent agreement back to Theo. Stan and Forth trusted these two on a deep level, so he would cut them some slack, because from what Theo just sent him, they were going to need all the help they could get. Without an Aaron Stranton here in this dimension, the Army of God looked like it was going to win.

"We will give you a frequency that you can use to contact us, But in the future, for our peace of minds, if nothing else, I think it is best that dealings between our two people, for now, lay with these two," Pete pointed at Stan and Forth floating in the bio-tubes. "It seems they trust the two of you to a great degree, more so than I would have thought from their memories." Smiling at their shocked, looks he told them, "We, as a race, are true telepaths, we routinely skim the minds of outsiders, not to pry, but to determine how truthful they are in their dealings with us."

"Can you transmit along VHF at 419 Mhz?" Pete asked, as he sent a message to Karl to place a long range SE114 in orbit above the spot where they had rescued Nate.

"I believe so," Daileass said slowly as he stared at the strange kid trying to figure him out.

"You can send messages to Theo, the Colony leader, on that frequency," Pete said as he looked over at Haden who did not look happy. Spinning a story that was based partially on history he told them, "Earth was not always home to just Humans. We had our roots on that world, before we left it behind, that is. Humans have a history of destroying what they fear. And they fear what they do not understand." Leaning against the Bio-tube as they blinked at him in confusion, he told them, "War is coming to that world. A war begins even now, that you think you know the cause of, and you would only be partially correct. There is another faction, a hidden power behind the war that is about to hit Earth. And they will not stop until all those who do not believe in their God, and ways, are destroyed."

"So, the reason, Haden, why my people do not like Humans are many." Pete was honest, well as honest as this dimension's history would let him be. "Humans forced us off our world, long ago. Luckily we were advanced enough that by the times of the crusades, we escaped Earth. But a lot of us died during that escape. And there are still harsh feelings over that. The other is less complicated and at the same time more of an instinctive reaction. Alterans only have one sex, male. And from our experience, only food animals that have no intelligence have two sex's. And humans have two sex's." Tapping his chin as he chuckled on the inside as he wondered if they would give him an opening to give the 'talk' to them he bypassed it as he saw Haden was getting upset, "But I think the real reason why this colony will not allow humans to step foot on Mars has to do with the feelings of a large part of the population living here. We have rescued and altered, like we are doing for Stan and Forth, many gay youth who would have died at the hands of the Humans down on Earth. They are the ones that have the strongest dislike for Humans. Because for them, they were tortured personally by Humans. They no longer consider they had a start as a human, as a coping mechanism."

After Pete finished his speech, Haden took a few moments to process everything that had been said before he let out a long sigh. "You know, there are times I almost feel ashamed for being human. What you have described sounds very similar to what we know of the history of our own Earth from our dimension. There, over a forty-thousand year period, humanity nearly wiped itself out three times because of petty wars over people being different. Each time, technology was basically bombed back to the stone age, and humanity had to start over again. Even with the Clan, and Star Fleet, and everything else we have going for us in modern times, the governments of the world were still at each other's throats, and it still seems like humanity is once again trying to kill itself off."

Daileass nodded in agreement. "Not to mention the fact that this Army of God you speak of sounds vaguely similar to a group in our dimension that called themselves the FCC, the Fundamentalist Christian Church. Basically, they were against anyone who didn't believe in their doctrine, or that was different from them. Less than two weeks ago, our clan had a major confrontation with them, which resulted in the deaths of a lot of good kids and teens. You see, where we come from, there weren't Alterans or an Aaron to take people away to a far off place where they couldn't be hurt, so Cory and Sean Short, along with a bunch of other kids, formed their own group, and as they grew and got the support of larger groups, worked very similarly to what it sounds you guys are doing, rescuing gay and oppressed youth, trying to give them as safe of an environment to grow up in as possible, while empowering them with as many opportunities as the clan could offer, so they could become whatever they wanted to be."

"You know," Haden thought out loud, "We would have to compare the histories more, but what we have learned about this Ashwood guy, and his hatred for gays almost has a religious undertone behind it. What if Ashwood isn't the real enemy, here, and it's something much larger? Just as Pete suggested?"

Daileass closed his eyes for a few moments before he re-opened them and nodded. "It's possible. If you look at all the major events and news stories over the last two years, it does seem a bit much for a single person, or even a single administration to pull off on its own. Either way, especially with it looking like Ashwood is going to reject the legitimacy of yesterday's elections, he's probably who we need to focus on the most at this point."

"Yeah," Haden agreed. "I'll say this much, though. If anything like that Army of God were to show themselves on Earth, even though this isn't 'our' Earth, I definitely see both Adam and Logan using every resource they had to stop them. Not just because it's what the UNIT kids were grown and trained to do, but because of trying to hurt or kill a kid just because he thinks or feels different is wrong, no matter what universe or dimension you are in."

Once he finished replying to Daileass, Haden realized that Pete and several others were still there. "Sorry about that, Pete, sometimes things frustrate me enough that I just start rambling. I appreciate you sharing with us what you have. I wish I could say I disagreed with you, and that you were wrong, but I can't. Nor do I feel it would be right for me to ask you to make a special exception for me from your rules."

Pete didn't have to be a telepath to pick up on the flood of feelings and emotions that were coming off of the young boy standing in front of him. Initially, he thought Haden's disapproving expression was directed at him. In truth, however, it was directed at his own race. Although he had not gone into this conversation with the ideas of recruiting more Alterans, what type of leader would he be if he didn't at least present the option, especially to someone who already seemed to be so like minded? Although he was being blocked from reading the boy's mind, just from what he had said, and his body language alone, Pete could tell the kid had been through a lot more than your typical nine-year-old, and in many ways was screaming for a place to fit in. With his mind made up, Pete nodded. "It's not a problem. Verbalizing frustrations can often be a good way of dealing with them. It's probably pointless of me even bothering to mention this, since I'm sure you're happy right where you're at, but the option of becoming Alteran is open to you as well."

"Really?" Haden asked with surprise as the images that Daileass had shared with him from Stan and Forth's short tour once again flashed through his head. "But, I'm not sick or injured or anything like that."

"You're right, you're not," Pete nodded in agreement. "It's true that Stan and Forth's situation was a bit more dire, but the majority of humans that have decided to become a part of our race were fine physically, or at least would be able to recover and continue to live normal human lives. The vast majority of Alterans that you meet, other than the naturally born, join us not because they have to, or are forced to, but because they want to. They are looking for a place to belong, a place to call home, a place where others will respect them for who they are. They choose to join us because they are tired of the constant fear of living in an environment where society teaches everyone around you to hate and fear you because you're different."

Haden blinked. The more he learned about the Alterans, the closer it seemed to fit with what the Clan believed in. Perhaps, Alterans and this Clan Straton that had been mentioned a few times was this dimension's version of Clan Short. "Would Daileass be allowed to become Alteran as well?"

Several seconds went by before Pete slowly nodded. "It would be a bit more complicated, but our people do have the means to pull it off, if it was something he truly wanted. Of course, it would mean loosing the machine in his head, and having an imprint of his consciousness transferred into a real body."

Seeing Haden turn toward him expectingly, Daileass quickly shoot his head. "Thanks for the offer, but I'm happy just the way I am. And I'm pretty sure Haden is as well, right?"

Haden spent several long seconds looking toward Daileass, until finally he turned back around without saying a word.

"You're not seriously considering this, are you?" Daileass asked. After several more seconds went by without a response, he grabbed ahold of Haden's hand and started pulling him off to the side. "Excuse us for a few moments."

Theo, who had been there for the entire conversation, took a step forward to stop the tin head from interfering, only to have Pete move his arm out to stop him. 'This is something we need to let them work out for themselves,' he heard Pete path to his head. 'If he's meant to join us, he will.'

Once he had Haden off to the side, Daileass looked deep into his eyes, where he could see a mix of emotions. Sighing, Daileass allowed his forehead to brush up against Haden's, while at the same time he pulled both of them into his own mental-scape.

Unlike the last few 'emergency' meetings that they had to discuss Stan and Forth in Logan's mental-scape, this time Haden opened his eyes to find the familiar surroundings of Daileass's mental-scape. A few feet away from him, Daileass stood with a concerned look on his face.

"I guess this is something you really think I shouldn't do?" Haden started the conversation off.

Daileass sighed and shook his head. "It's not my place to make your decisions for you, Haden. If you choose to join them, then that's your call."

Haden looked at Daileass, seeing that his expression really didn't seem to fit his words. "But, from your perspective, you don't want me to?"

"No," Daileass blurted out before he could stop himself. "Well, I don't know. I think right now I'm just caught by surprise, and am wondering why… why would this be something you are even considering? Aren't you happy with me, with us? With the friends… the family that is already here for you?"

"Daileass," Haden sighed as he took a few steps forward so that he could wrap his arms around him. Seeing Daileass take a step back, however, caused him to stop. It had now become very clear to Haden just how much Daileass was being effected by all this, even if he didn't want to admit it. "Okay," he finally stated, taking a step back himself.

This was a question that Daileass was clearly looking for an answer to, so Haden spent the next several moments trying to think of one. Of course, moments quickly stretched out longer, since in many ways, Haden himself was not completely sure why he was considering it. Daileass was right, he was happy with Daileass and the other UNIT kids that had been tossed into this dimension. But at the same time, Haden knew there was more to the issue than that, he just needed to figure out how to put that into words. As seconds stretched into minutes, Daileass seemed content to give Haden as much time as he needed to figure out his answer.

"I can't really think of any one specific reason," Haden finally began. "It's like I've been living in a dream that became a nightmare, and now, well I don't really know anymore. I don't know how to really explain it."

Daileass nodded in understanding. "Just do the best you can, Haden. Regardless of what you decide to do, I think it's important that you at least know yourself why you are doing it. Remember, we're in the mental-scape, so you have all the time you need to think about it."

Haden began to pace around a few times before he continued. "When the Clan first rescued Evan and me, my life got turned upside down. Neal and Rick showed me that not every adult acts like our dad did, and the other guys showed me that it's okay to be different. I even got to chase my dreams, working with electronics, and creating real things, and not just messing around with junk that was found in a trash can."

"Yeah, I remember you growing a lot back then," Daileass agreed. "Even though you met up with the clan a good month before Adam and the rest of us did, I was able to go back and review all the various reports and conversations to see just how much you grew in such a short time. I don't think I ever really mentioned this to you, but that was one of the many things that really impressed me about you."

Haden sucked in his lower lip, and looked toward the floor. "I was able to do and accomplish things that I never would have thought possible. Making those contacts with Wayne Industries, having them actually build my designs, and even getting to use that first System 27 that showed up at Cynthitech. Those were some of the best moments of my life that I don't think I'll ever forget."

Daileass walked over and wrapped his arm around Haden. "All of that happened because you demonstrated through your actions that you deserved it."

Haden shrugged his shoulders. "And then, all a sudden you were talking to me about joining you and your brothers in the special mental link that you shared together. That completely surprised me."

"Believe me, it surprised me as well," Daileass agreed, forcing himself to let out a small chuckle. "I never expected to find someone outside of my brothers who I felt could really and truly not only understand me, but except me for who I was." A look of concern suddenly flashed across Daileass's face. "Haden, you don't regret becoming a part of our link, do you?"

Haden quickly shook his head. "No, never. That was the scariest and awesomest day of my life. I still don't know why you and the others felt I was so special, but, no, I don't regret it, I loved it."

"Even if you don't always believe it yourself, you are special… you're very special," Daileass stated with a hug.

Haden shrugged. "And that's where things started getting crazy. Before I knew it, we were being whisked off to Russia, I learned about this super old being that was living inside me, then I get whisked off to some other dimension where everyone tries to convince me that I'm some great military leader, and everyone wants me to lead them, and then no sooner do I get back from that, but we meet the Eyryadain, and then after that, we get whisked off again to Archnania where we spent even more time developing even awesomer stuff, then getting back from that and learning about KLAUS, learning about a twin brother I never knew about, some ancient society wanting me to lead some task force from them, then going off to find some weird shape shifter who lived in a giant star sphere seven or eight galaxies away…"

"Well, when you put it that way, that does sound like an awful lot," Daileass nodded. "But you have to admit, this will make for one heck of a story to tell your kids, one day."

"And then we ended up here," Haden continued with a sigh. "I've lost Evan, I've lost Ordath, Brent and Lance, and everyone else I've known. Man, if it really is eight years after we left, Evan most think I'm long since dead, by now."

"I doubt that," Daileass replied seriously. "Weird things can happen when you start going between dimensions. Besides, you're not the only one that was torn away from people you cared about. All of us are in that exact same boat."

"I know, that sounded really selfish of me, and it wasn't really what I was trying to say," Haden sighed. "I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's not me." Seeing the questioning look on Daileass's face, he continued. "It's not that I regret having any of the experiences that I had, or doing any of the thing that I've done, but… I don't really know how to explain it, other than it's just not me. I know Adam, his brothers and the other genesis kids were designed to be solders, and I guess in some way you and the chipmunks and the other logan clones were, too, so maybe all of this stuff comes easy to you, I don't know. But I just don't think it's me. I don't really like the constant fighting, I don't like the idea of having to lead people into battle, of people living or dying based on if I make the right decision or not. But… I don't know."

Daileass's questioning look turned to one of confusion. "Haden, if this is how you really felt, how come you never said anything? If you never wanted to do the UNIT training on the training planet, you never had to. The only reason you were sent is because everyone believed it was something you wanted to do."

"It was something I wanted to do. More than anything, it was something I wanted to do. I didn't like people always having to protect me. I wanted to learn how to be strong, and how to protect myself. I wanted to learn how to protect my brothers if I ever had to."

"You just never liked the part about being a leader, and having to lead people in battle?" Daileass asked.

"Exactly," Haden replied. "I never asked to be a battalion leader, I never wanted to tell a hundred other kids what to do, and then hope my choice was right or else have them die."

"Then why did you do it?" Daileass asked curiously.

Haden shrugged. "I don't know. Everyone around me kept telling me how good I was at it, and I don't know. I guess I just went along with it, I convinced myself that if I just tried it for awhile longer, it would get easier, and I wouldn't mind as much, or something,"

Daileass gave Haden another hug as he could see the tears starting to form in Haden's eyes.

"I want to do what's right, and what's expected of me," Haden continued. "But… I also want to know what it's like to be a kid, what it's like to not have the lives of lots of people held in your hands. It's not part of who I am to have that constant desire to want to fight. And, I don't know, but it sounds like these Alteran guys might be the closest thing this universe has to a Clan Short, to a place were I can maybe do what I'm best at, maybe make things to help others, and not have to worry about making the wrong choice, and people dying as a result."

"Oh Haden," Daileass sighed as he gave him another hug. "Just because Adam and the others might have been created to be good at fighting, that doesn't mean that any of them like the idea or want to always be fighting. But I guess I can understand where you are coming from."

"You can?" Haden asked with a hint of surprise.

Daileass nodded. "Yeah. You've been through so much in such a short period of time. Just because you have the ability to do something, doesn't necessarily mean that it's the right thing for you to do, or what you need to be doing. I wish I could tell you that you were wrong, and that you weren't seeing things right, because, to be honest with you, I don't like the idea of you being further away from me. But the truth is, you're right. Every indication that we've seen over the last few days that we've been here suggests that the country, if not the entire planet is going to get a lot worse before it get's better, especially if yesterday's elections are any indication. So, if you feel that your heart is leading you to join the Alterans, then that's what you need to do."

"But at the same time, I don't want you guys to think that I'm abandoning you, especially if I'm needed around the base," Haden stated.

"If we had this discussion yesterday morning, I would probably have agreed with you, because there were only a small handful of us," Daileass agreed. "However, now that we've found Donnie and the others, we're not going to be as short handed anymore, are we?"

Haden shook his head. "I guess not."

"Exactly. So, if this is something that you are really wanting to do, then you need to do it. The only thing I am wanting to make sure is that not only are you really wanting to do this, but that you are doing it for the right reasons. Because, if I'm understanding things correctly, this is not something you can change your mind about and reverse," Daileass stated seriously.

"Yeah," Haden wiped his eyes. "Do you think I'm doing it for the right reasons?"

"You're doing it because that is the direction your heart is leading you, and that's where you feel you would fit in best. Not to mention I can tell just how badly you are wanting to get your hands on some of that advanced Alteran tech," Daileass grinned.

"Maybe," Haden cracked a very small smile. "But that's not the only reason."

"I know," Daileass cooed, as he held Haden tight. "I know. I guess when you look at it, assuming that Stan and Forth survive this, it will also be nice for you to be able to be here with them, as well."

"What about us?" Haden asked the one question that he knew they were both thinking about, but afraid to ask.

A few long moments went by before Daileass answered. "That, I am not really sure about. I guess we will have to wait and see what happens. You may realize you like your new Alteran friends so much, you'll completely forget about me and the others."

Haden strongly shook his head in Daileass's chest before looking up into his eyes. "I'll never forget about you, Daileass. I promise you that."

Daileass nodded in understanding, "I know you won't. So let's cross that bridge when we get to it. If something is meant to exist between the two of us, then it won't really matter what you or I eventually become."

This time it was Haden who wrapped his arms around Daileass tightly, as he whispered in his ear "I'll always love you."

"And I, you," Daileass replied. After several minutes of holding each other, they finally broke apart. "I guess we should do this?"

"Not quite so fast…" Logan said as he was standing off to the side.

"Logan," Haden called out with surprise, "I didn't know that you were here as well."

Daileass, on the other hand, did not seem surprised in the least at seeing Logan. In fact, it was almost as if he was expecting him. After an ever-so-slight nod toward his older brother, Daileass took a discrete step back, giving the other two boys a clear line of sight between each other.

"Haden, I have been here the entire time… since about 20 seconds after they brought you out of the flux they had you in. I have been looking around, scanning things, and listening in on the conversations that have been going on." Logan said as he concentrated a bit and changed the room they were in to a much more comfortable looking sitting room. With a motion, he indicated that Daileass and Haden should sit on a small couch, while he took a chair for himself.

Logan sighed while taking a moment to organize his thoughts. Finally he looked at Haden and shook his head sadly. "First off, understand, I will never tell you what you are allowed to do with your life. If you really want to do this, then you will have my full support. However, since you are one of my brothers, I feel I need to make sure you know as much about what you are getting into as possible. Also, before I go any further, I need to apologize to you."

"For what?" Haden asked seriously.

"For not realizing that we were pushing you too hard, that we were forcing you to do things that you did not really want to do, or were not comfortable with doing. With everything else that has been going on, I did not do what I should have, as a big brother, and make sure you were okay with everything that was going on. It is my fault, and for that I am truly sorry."

"That's not the problem at all," Haden sighed as he was getting frustrated with the fact that he was having such a hard time getting across what he was trying to say. "You see, as I just told Daileass a few moments ago, I was okay with everything that was going on. I don't feel that you guys were forcing me to do stuff I didn't want to do, or didn't feel comfortable with in the slightest. Well… actually, that's not exactly true…"

Haden took a few moments to re-collect his thoughts. "I would be lying if I tried to say that there weren't points during my training where I didn't feel comfortable, or where I felt like I wanted to give up, and go home. But, I think that's just part of what the training was meant to do. But still, I don't think you forced me to do anything I wasn't willing to do. If you remember, I was the one that went to Colonel West, to accept his offer that he gave everyone to join the UNIT, because I felt that I needed to learn to be strong so I could protect my family. I was the one who pushed to let you guys let me stand up for the Clan when KLAUS society put us on trial, because I felt it was the right thing for me to do at the time."

"Yes, I know that, Haden. But what you are not understanding is the fact that I should have seen that the military lifestyle is not for you. Command life is NOT something that is easy for anyone to live. Not even Adam. What I did not give to you was an outlet, a way to deal with the issues you were facing. But honestly, that does not have anything to do with what we are dealing with now, I just wanted to apologize for missing something with you."

"Thanks, Logan, I appreciate that," Haden nodded in understanding. "Just know that I do not regret anything that I've learned or have been able to help with. If given the chance to do it all over again, I don't really think I would change anything."

"That doesn't really make sense, Haden," Daileass jumped in. "How can you say you wouldn't change anything, and you don't regret any of it, but you still seem willing to throw it all away?"

"Honest, I don't know," Haden admitted as he lowered his head. "I guess… well… it seems like everyone in the UNIT lives for the fight, and clicks really well with the military way of life. From what I know of the Genesis Program, that's what you guys were created for, so it kinda fits. For me, I don't have that same attachment, that same feeling in every fiber of my body. I guess what it gets down to is the difference between doing something because it's what needs to be done, and is the right thing to do, verses doing something because it's something you enjoy and love doing. If a fight were to break out right now, and I was needed to help in it, I would, without question, not because I feel you guys are forcing me, and not because it's something I enjoy doing, but because I would be there, and it would be the right thing for me to do."

Haden took a moment to take a breath. "I don't know. Maybe I'm looking at all this wrong. Maybe this is all just a silly thought on my part, and I should just accept living for the fight like you guys do. Maybe I'm the one that needs to be apologizing here, I don't know."

Logan stood up from his chair, and knelt down in front of Haden. He took both of the boy's hands into his own, and looked deep into his eyes. "Haden, there is only one thing that I think you truly do not understand. Every single member of the Unit, every Genesis Augment fights, not because they were made for it, or they enjoy it, but because if we didn't, who else would? Yes, it's what they were made for, but it's not ALL that they are. Adam would love for nothing more than to put his guns up, and just live like a normal kid. Most of them would, including Juan… although, don't tell him I told you that." Logan gave a short laugh, which both Haden and Daileass shared.

"What you don't seem to understand is this. The Genesis Augments fight, not because they enjoy it, or they are good at it, which they are, but they all look at it the same. If they don't, then who would? Where we came from, the choice would have been easy for Adam to rescue the other Genesis kids, and then just live out our lives without having to fight. The government would have been nuts to try and re-take them with as well armed and trained as they were. They would probably have just hoped they didn't decide to come after them. But in truth, they saw what was going on, saw what was needed, and used what they were taught to do what they could to help others. That's what it all comes down to. We do not ENJOY fighting, but we do it because it's needed. You are NOT strange, or anything else like that, you are feeling EXACTLY the same thing as every single one of us does."

Haden nodded in understanding. "So, by making this choice, you feel that I'm not being fair to Daileass and the others? Because if they all were given the opportunity to make this choice, they would also jump on it, but then there would be no one else left to fight the fights that need to be fought?"

"Not at all." Logan said sadly. "I can almost guarantee that had 99% of the UNIT been given this choice, they would not. Not because of any reason that you are thinking right now, but because simply, they would see what the Alterans are doing, and have done, as running away and abandoning their people. Most of the UNIT would find them to be cowards."

"Cowards?" Haden asked curiously. "Because they are living here on Mars, and not on Earth?"

"Thats part of it, and understand, what I am saying is coming from the mindset of a UNIT member. The Alterans did not stay and fight to protect their homes, their lives, they simply took off, leaving everyone else behind. What would have happened if the entire Clan or UNIT decided to go to the training planet, or to Archnania, and leave the people on Earth to all the bad guys running around? What would you have thought about us had we simply taken those that we thought were 'good enough', or had the 'proper mindset', and left everyone else to suffer and die? I don't know about you, but I don't think I could look at myself in the mirror if I did that." Logan said passionately.

"I probably wouldn't think that highly of them," Haden answered. "Humm, maybe joining a race of cowards is not such a good idea after all."

Logan laughed, let go of Haden's hand, and sat down, on the floor in front of them. "Of course, you do realize that what I said is completely subjective, and only takes into account what little we have learned about them. They may not be the cowards we think they are. But I fear we've really gotten away from why I wanted to talk to you about this." Logan sighed, stood up and started to pace.

"This choice is completely up to you, no one, not me, not Daileass, Adam or anyone else, will tell you what to do. But I truly want to know that you fully understand what you are getting into. You've known these people for less then one hour, and you are ready to become one of them. Let me ask you one simple question. How do you know that they are telling the truth? Do you know what is going to happen to you when you are altered? Are you going to be allowed to live on Earth? What about the rest of us that really do care about you, and would not be happy if you left, and did not come back? What are you going to be able to do? I mean Pete talked about abilities they have. Do you know what they are, what they would mean to you, how do you use them? I could go on, but I think you are starting to understand what I mean."

"Your right, there are a lot of questions that we don't know," Haden stated. "Although I feel everything that I've told Daileass is true, if that was the only reason, then I would probably agree with you, and I would probably see there being too many unknowns to jump into it. Because you're right, there are a lot of questions we don't know the answers to yet. However, one thing I know for a fact is that Stan and Forth are already floating in those tube things, and, assuming they survive, will be Alteran. Who's going to be there for them? What if things don't work out that well as you suggested they might not? I think me being there for them will give them a lot better chance of dealing with whatever it is they have to deal with. So that's a large factor I have to account for as well."

Logan nodded in agreement. "And that is a very noble and proper response. However, do you realize that you will, very likely, be leaving everyone you know, everyone you call family, and… even very possibly giving up Daileass?"

Haden shook his head. "No, I would never give up on Daileass. If becoming Alteran meant that I would never be allowed to see or be with Daileass again, then I wouldn't do it. But from everything that we've heard so far, that's not going to be the case. Is it possible that Pete is lying to us, and intends to never let us step foot on Earth again? Maybe. Like you said, there is a lot we don't know about them. But if he were to try that, then I would do everything in my power so that Stan, Forth, and I would be able to get back to earth. So yeah, this is a direction that I feel my heart is leading me in, and I want to be there for Stan and Forth, but I will also make it very clear that I am absolutely not willing to do this at the expense of Daileass, or our love for each other."

"Again Haden, I am not trying to talk you out of this, since it seems your mind is made up. However, as I said before, I need to make sure you understand what this means. Daileass asked Pete if Stan and Forth would be able to come back and live on Earth. This would now apply to you. Pete said that no they would not be allowed to live on Earth. You would be able to visit, 'in between your studies', but, at least as I far as I have been able to figure out, you would be forced to have one of them bring you to Earth, at least until you hit puberty. I do not doubt the strength of the love between you and Daileass…. I feel it, but that sort of relationship where you will only see each other every once in a while, is difficult to maintain.

"I guess you're right," Haden nodded in agreement. "Although my heart feels that this is the right direction for me, I can't ignore the fact that there really are a lot of questions that we don't know the answers to. And you are also right in the fact that this probably isn't a decision I want to immediately jump into without having a little more time to think about it."

Haden let out a sigh before looking up toward Logan. "Thanks Logan, for pointing that out to me."

Logan moved over to Haden, smiled as he pulled the younger boy to his feet, then into a hug. "That's what brothers are for. As I said before, if this is truly something you want to do, feel that you need to, or whatever, I will fully support you. But I also need to make sure you know as much about this decision as you can, before you make it."

"Yeah," Haden replied. Moments later, the mental-scape slowly dissolved around Haden, as he felt himself being pushed back into his own body.

Once he had Haden off to the side, Daileass looked deep into his eyes, where he could see a mix of emotions. Sighing, Daileass allowed his forehead to brush up against Haden's, where the two remained for a few seconds. Shortly after that, Daileass separated himself from Haden by a few steps. After another shared look, and a nod toward each other, the two boys walked back over to the group.

"I have a lot of questions I need to ask before I can make up my mind one way or the other," Haden said slowly as he and Daileass moved back over to where Pete was standing. "There are so many things I need to know…" trailing off, he looked at Daileass.

"One of the things we are afraid of is what will happen to us," Daileass said, as he raised his hand, intertwined with Haden's. "Then there is the issue of our family back on Earth." Seeing Pete nod his head and look like he was going to write off the offer, he was quick to add, "What we are asking for is time. Haden needs time to come to his decision after finding out everything that is involved."

"I agree with you," Pete smiled gently at Haden who looked torn. "How about I return both of you to Earth and give you several days to come up with questions. So you have firmly in your mind all of your concerns that you need answered before you come to your decision." Looking over at the tin head he tilted his head as he saw how expressive his face was, "Some of your hesitancy must come from not knowing who and what we are. When you decide to ask those questions, I can sit you down and let you go through the standard disclosure we let all those who are thinking about joining us go through, so they have the information to make an informed choice. Afterwords, I'm sure some of your questions will have been answered, and others will take their place." Chuckling, he nodded at them and decided to reach out by giving them some information, "The Army of God started over one hundred and fifty years ago. And their goal is the total enslavement of the human race, they would ensure only those of a certain caste had access to technology and the ability to read and write. All others would be nothing but serfs good for nothing but their ability to keep them in comfort. One of their main labs is in Utah, just outside Fish Springs National Park, a lab they are working on bio-weapons that will remove the gay menace as they call Gay people."

"Why the hell are you not doing something about it," Daileass all but growled at Pete.

"We left the Earth over four hundred and fifty years ago," Pete glared right back at the slightly enraged cyborg. "We've only been back in this system less than two years. What do you want us to do? Go down to Earth and invade it? Killing off all those involved and treating the humans like children that need to have their asses spanked." Shaking his head slowly, he told them, "It takes time to find information, to determine if humans had advanced past their destructive ways.

"I think he has a valid point. I know we were use to being able to expect instant change, but look at how much backing and support we had. Here, they are only a small handful of people, so I don't think it's fair of us to expect immediate change overnight," Haden stated as he first looked toward Theo, and then back toward Daileass.

Daileass nodded. "I'm sorry, that's not really how I meant to come across. I know you guys are doing the best you can with what you have. It's just… well, there was a point in time where you could have said I personally controlled one of the most powerful computer systems known to humanity, which went a long way to being able to make a difference. Over the past few days, I've really started to see just how limited I've become when all of this crap is going on around us, and I can't do anything about it."

"You've given me a lot to think about," Haden stated as he turned back toward Theo. "I think I'll take your suggestion and think about this for a bit, and see what questions I come up with. At the same time, I want to make sure you understand how much we appreciate you being willing to work with us. I know it's not something you have to do, and that it's well within your rights and experiences to kill me where I stand, for being Human. But you have chosen not to. I think that right there says a lot in itself as to not just your character, but that of your people's.

Haden glanced back toward Daileass to see if he had any issues with what he had said. Daileass slowly nodded his head in agreement. Facing Pete again he told him,"I appreciate your willingness to give me more time, and not wanting to force me into making an immediate decision."

Knowing this med bay had gestalt access points built into the walls, because he had placed them in the plans personally, Pete nodded once and reached with his right hand and pulled power from the wall. As a long arc of energy crashed into his hand, he smiled in glee as he saw the shock on Daileass's face when he caught the energy and let his plasma dragon ghost around him. Wrapping the energy of teleportation around Daileass and Haden, he ported them to the field they had been occupying earlier in the day. His words echoing in their mind, "Monitor the frequency I have told you to use. You will be contacted, so you know how the two youngsters fare, even if the news is not welcome. When you are ready to talk to us, we will bring those of your family that need to be involved in this decision to one of our bases. Who knows, Aaron may be here by then and you can talk to him about your decision. After all, you can't lie mind to mind."

Although the SUV was no longer there, Logan already had Will heading back to their location with the Huey. As such, they were only standing there a few minutes before their ride home arrived to take them back to the UNIT base.


Editor's notes:

And so ends another action packed chapter of this wonderful story.

I was in tears during the scene with Hayden and daileass, and the difficult decision that will need to be made, one way or the other.

It is good to know that Stan and Forth will have at least a fifty fifty chance to survive.

I also have a nagging fear that there might be other genetic issues with some of the other kids. But, hey, I can only hope that does not become an issue.

I wonder what will happen next.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher

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