This is the
next in my one-shot series set in the Atlantis
Unleashed universe. As this story started coming together, I came
to some rather startling realizations about the universe as a whole.
Those realizations will be revealed in my next few stories set in
the universe as well as the ongoing story: Cattin' Around.
Part of this story was an experiment in
writing for me. I am planning on participating in the November
National Novel Writing Month to see if I can churn out 50k words in 30
days. I think I can do it.
This story is set after the events of Paraforce 1; Paraforce 2;
and the Lords of Atlantis. It gives more background on the events
that led to the destruction of the cities of Orlando, Florida and
Mecca. It also is a little harder sci-fi than others. I
think I've managed to capture the spirit of R.A. Heinlein's adult
novels. For the most part the science is correct where it can be.
There is action, adventure, intrigue, and sex. If it is
illegal for you to read this or you find it offensive please do not go
any further. This story involves bisexual and group sex of
teenagers in a non-human society where those things are not only
accepted but are boringly normal.
words. The Shan language consists of a mixture of verbal and
sonar components. The presence of an apostrophe in Shan words
indicate that a sonar signal is generated at this point in the word.
names: The presence of a sonar signal indicated by an apostrophe
after the first letter of a name indicates a male name. The
presence of an apostrophe before the last letter of a name indicates a
POV. D'an'a's self image is both male and female. Sometimes
she feels female, and sometimes male. To reflect that, D'an'a's
POV is written in the mode that he/she is identifying with at that time.
studied her old friend from across the well-appointed office on Illia,
the floating surface-side of the Shan city two hundred twenty-two miles
off the coast of Texas. The last time she'd seen Miranda was at
her first husband's funeral, seven years ago. After Dillon's
murder, Leighanne had gone from being a field-agent to simply a
profiler so as to better raise her son, Corey. And of course
Corey was why she was here, hat-in-hand. She hated to think about
it that way, but she was honest enough to admit it to herself. She'd
exhausted all her other options. She was by no means out of
money, but the money was useless at this point. The government
had stepped in and simply said no.
good to see you
again, Leighanne," Miranda said sitting down across for her.
Miranda Hassan appeared to have changed very little over the last
seven years. She didn't appear to have aged very much, her mocha
complexion showed no signs of wrinkling, and her black hair hung down
her back in an iridescent cascade of ebony. If anything she appeared to
be more toned, but Leighanne concluded that was due to a life of living
in the in the water. Leighanne felt her old partner's mind reach
out and briefly touch her shields. With some effort, she dropped
them and let Miranda scan her.
Miranda asked mentally. Her mind-touch was as light
and gentle as ever, only touching the old channels they shared when
they worked for General Presley. Leighanne knew that there would
be no hiding the turmoil of her soul except behind the strongest of
shields, and that would be rude at this point.
She lowered her shields
and spoke from her heart, "I need your help, Randi. You're not quite my
last hope, but you're my best hope."
"What can I do?" Randi
asked, the concern not only evident in her voice but in her mind as
my son, Corey,"
Leighanne said fighting back her sense of desperation. "He's been
hurt, and the government insurance won't pay for the treatment, and
they won't let me pay for it either."
Miranda's eyes narrowed at
her words, two wrinkles appearing in the dark skin above the bridge of
her aquiline nose. "Corey hurt? When? How?"
years ago, when
UNIPACT Beta attacked Birmingham. He was there visiting with some
friends. When Neutron started blasting away at Storm Force,
Corey was caught in the crossfire. He tried to get an old man out
of the line of fire, and was hit himself. He was burned horribly,
but the worst damage came from the radiation. It did something to
him. He's in a coma, the doctors say he's stable, but he's not
getting any better. The problem is that health panel for my
insurance refuses to allow treatment anymore. They say the
resources could be better used elsewhere. I offered to pay for
the treatment out of my own pocket, but the doctors say that if they
take payment, then they'll lose their license." It was everything
she could do to keep the desperation out of her voice, much less her
She literally came out of her seat to come over and sit next to
Leighanne. "Why didn't you tell us? We would have helped."
"There was nothing to do.
At the time, they were just trying to get him stabilized.
That took almost six months. He's not getting worse, but
he's not getting better either. I wouldn't have come if the
insurance hadn't forced my hand."
"What kind of insurance
company would do something like that?" Randi asked.
"It's the the one for
federal employees. When the new health-care bill was passed our old
provider went bankrupt. The agency forced us into the government
option," she said. The last three years had been a nightmare for
her as she watched her then eleven year son, slowly vegetate. His mind
had turned in on itself as his body tried to heal. She
couldn't reach him telepathically, but she knew he was there. She
hoped the advanced biomedical technology of the Shan could do for her
only child what the best doctors in the States couldn't.
Randi put an arm around
her shoulders and said, "What can we do?"
"Can you have your healers
look at him? I can pay you," she told her, trying not to sound
too desperate but knowing that she was failing miserably.
"Of course, we'll have them look at him," Randi said.
"When can you have him here?"
thanked her old friend, "Tomorrow if you want. George is working
on getting a medivac flight scheduled on the contingency that you can
"George?" Randi asked.
"Oh, you haven't met
George. I remarried," she said. Last year, she and George
had finally tied the knot. It seemed like they'd been friend
forever. She Dillon and Corey had stood by George and his son,
Chris, as George's wife Melinda died of brain cancer. Six months
later, Dillon had been killed in the line of duty. She and George
closed ranks in order to try and raise their sons who'd been best
friends since they were toddlers. Over the years, a day didn't
seem to pass that they didn't see or check in on one another.
When Dillon had died, it was George who stood by her and Corey.
Then Corey had been hurt, and if it hadn't been for George, she'd
probably have gone insane. Only George's steady presence had kept
her on an even keel, kept her fighting for her son.
"We'll send a craft,"
Randi said confidently. Then looking to the ceiling, she said, "Mother,
would you inform the medical center that we're bringing in a human
"Right away Randi," a soft
woman's voice seemed to originate out of thin air.
Leighanne almost jumped
out of her seat at the sound. "I'm sorry, that was Mother, the colony's
electronic intelligence. Who all do you want to come with you? So
I know many to tell the squ'ks to prepare for."
Leighanne shook smiled,
"George, Chris, maybe Chris's girlfriend, Bonnie."
"Bonnie? That was
the little girl I saw standing with Corey at the funeral?" Miranda
"Yeah, she and Chris and
Corey have been inseparable for years." She smiled weakly, "I'll never
forget the day, when they were about five, that she sent both boys home
without any pants. Their game of "I'll show you mine if you'll
show me yours" turned just a little surreal on them."
Miranda chucked and then asked,"Now
exactly what are they saying about Corey?"
Leighanne reached into her
purse and pulled out a flash drive. "Here's all the files; all
the tests; and all the results. They say it has something to do
with the radiation poisoning."
took the flash
drive and lay it behind her on her desk. She knew the desk would
immediately scan and download the information. "But what have
Leighanne shrugged, "It's
radiation poisoning, and it's something else. The doctors have
hinted that it's the AGG virus but won't come out and say so. I
think he's afraid that if he does, the government will pull the plug
"How old is he now, about
twelve?" Miranda asked.
Leighanne nodded, "He just
turned thirteen back on Independence Day." It was one of the
saddest days of her life. No child should miss their thirteenth
birthday. It was such a rite of passage for them. She had
planned on going alone to the hospital that day, to spend it quietly
with him. She wasn't the only one with the idea though. As
the day wore on, Bonnie and Chris, then George, and several of his
friends from school had wandered in and out. Only Bonnie and Chris
spent the whole day there with her.
see what we can do for him," Randi told her. "I can't promise you
anything, but we'll do our best. If itisthe
AGG virus, there may
not be much we can do short of rebuilding him from scratch. For that,
we'd have to do a brain tape." Leighanne had heard of the brain-taping
that the Shan did as a matter of recourse. It was a way of preserving a
person's memories to be restored after brain damage, or even if cloning was needed.
"I appreciate anything that you can do for
him," Leighanne said.
stopped and looked deep into her
old friend's eyes; something that Leighanne found strangely comforting.
Leighanne remembered the rumors that used to circulate through office
back in their days together at the Department of Nocturnal Affairs. A
third of the office was convinced that she and Miranda were lovers;
another third thought that she and Dillon, Leighanne's husband were
stepping out; and the other third were speculating that it was a
threesome. What none of them understood was that Randi was so dedicated
to a love she thought she couldn't have that she really had no interest
in either Leighanne or Dillon as anything other than friends. Finally
Randi said, "I have to ask this. I don't want there to be any
misunderstandings later. Before you bring your family to Illia,
especially before you bring Chris' girlfriend, you are aware of Shan
cultural differences, aren't you?"
nodded her head. In a droning
voice she quoted, "Yeah, I've been watching the news, and I've heard
all the talking heads on both sides arguing about it. By the nature of
their environment, Shan are generally nudist; and by biological
necessity they are bisexual." Her voice resumed a more normal
tone, "That's not a problem with me, or my family. As for Bonnie, her
parents are pretty broad minded. I think that as long as George and I
are here, they won't have a problem with it."
"It's not just that Leighanne, you most
probably will be exposing yourselves and your children to concepts that
a lot of humans have difficulty understanding. Many if not most are
shocked by the idea. From about the biological age of ten or eleven for
baseline shan, and around three for defenders, they become openly
sexually active. It's part of their socialization- especially for the
defenders. It's not unusual to pass recreation center or even a park
and see a group of children engaging in a rather vigorous game of what
we call pin-to-the-bottom."
"But no adults are ever involved?"
Leighanne had heard the reports, and she'd done the reading for
herself. The Shan were very open about their sexuality, and for them
sex was both a form of recreation and a for reproduction. They had a
great deal of control over their own biological directives, and
generally chose when to become pregnant. An adult female would not come
into estrus without intimate contact with another adult female, and
then only if she chose to. An adult male had to take on the genetic
material of another adult male to complete his own code for
reproduction. It created a society where reproducing families consisted
to at least two males and two females. However, children always played
with children and adults with adults.
"No, adults play with adults and children
with children," Randi echoed her thoughts. "There is some crossover at
the cusp but it never lasts long," Randi told her. "But you will be
exposing your stepson and his girlfriend to what could be considered a
shocking experience. Shan children do not usually invite human children
into their games- not from any lack of interest mind you- but because
we've asked them as general rule not to. Also since humans don't
breathe water, it could be fatal. We don't want any misunderstandings
with our human guests," Randi told her.
"I heard that you had baby here while
back. How do you cope with it?" Leighanne asked.
smiled at her, and Leighanne could
sense the turmoil in her own friend's mind. "D'an'a is a defender,"
Randi said. Leighanne could sense her choosing her words very
carefully. "Defenders age much more rapidly than human or even baseline
Shan in the first three years of their lives. I've watched my child
grow from an infant into the puberty in three years. I'm told that it
will now settle out to something more normal for the next eight or nine
years and then stop completely. But D'an'a is the first Human/Shan
hybrid so we don't know how things will work out. We're in entirely new
territory. D'an'a also inherited mine and Adam's transhuman gene as
well as K'hori's first defender genes. Things didn't turn out exactly
the way we expected them to. Hell, she even has a minor
mage-gift, not that she'll get much use out of it around here.
I'm thinking of sending D'an'a to Wolf Creek for a year or so for
further training when they get it rebuilt."
Leighanne could tell there was much more
to it than she was being told but chose not to pry. She smiled and
said, "I can't wait to meet her."
"You'll get your chance tomorrow evening.
You of course will be staying with us," the dark haired woman smiled.
"That way you can meet my husbands and my wife."
"We don't want to be any trouble,"
"You're already trouble, Leighanne,"
Miranda said with a smile. "That's why I love you, girl."
smiled at the comment and said,
"I don't want to put you out...,"
"Leighanne," Miranda said seriously, "If
you hadn't convinced me to transfer out of the DNA, I would have never
been in a position to go on that first-contact mission, I would have
never met K'horal and I would have never confronted Adam with what was
going on in my heart. I owe you more than I can ever repay. This is a
"Helping my son live is never a small
thing, Randi. He is literally facing a bureaucratic death
sentence. This is more than I can ever repay," Leighanne told her.
Randi smiled and said, "You don't have to
repay anything, it's what friends do. I'll do what I can.
In the meantime, why don't I take you down to speak with some of
our med-techs." She looked back up at the ceiling and said,
"Mother, would you please download all the information on the flash
drive on my desk to the medical computers?"
"I have already done so, Randi," the voice
said. The medical center is awaiting your arrival. I have
taken the liberty of informing your family that you will be having
guest as of tomorrow evening."
"Thank you Mother," Randi said.
"Please, don't make a big deal out of our
staying, Randi," Leighanne tried to soothe her own pain for having to
turn to a friend for help. Deep down she felt a burning anger
toward the people who were exacerbating Corey's condition.
make a big deal out
of it, Leighanne. Mainly because I'm glad to see one of my oldest
friends. We're going to get Corey the best treatment possible,
and while we're waiting for him to recover, you and I are going to
catch up on old times, and get to know each other's families and I'll
show you the sights of the colony," Randi told her as she stood.
"Now, why don't you and I go downstairs and talk to the doctors.
I'm sure they have all kinds of questions."
minutes and a tube ride later
Leighanne found herself almost a mile below the surface of the Gulf of
Mexico. The technology she was seeing was fantastic. She'd
heard that the Shan were masters of biotechnology, but this was almost
unbelievable. For the first time in three years, she started to
have hope for her son. These people had built- no, they'd grown-
a civilization in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico. They were
living Captain Nemo's dream.
Some of what she was seeing took a little
getting used to though. She felt somewhat overdressed, actually
she felt rather conspicuous in the fact that she and Randi were the
only people wearing clothing. Worst of all, she got the feeling that
the only reason Randi was wearing her smart business outfit was because
of her. She briefly wondered if she would have the courage to "go
native" while here. If it were just her and George, probably.
She didn't know if she would with Bonnie and Chris present.
The Shan themselves were a handsome
people, all tall and lean with long flowing hair that ran the gamut of
colors from almost black green to what could only be described as pale
pink. The only colors seemingly to be missing were dull browns,
and black; even the blonds had a vibrant hue to their hair that
no dye-job could ever imitate. She noted that nobody seemed to
be any older than their mid-twenties- which made sense since they all
had come out of the birthing chambers less seven years ago.
Outside of the hair color, webbed hands, and the fact that their
feet only had two toes, one big toe and and broad flat fused surface
where the rest should be, most Shan were very human in appearance.
Their skin tone wasn't even unusual as it tended to run between
the light pecan of Randi's own Semitic tone to the pale side of
Around her, she could see dual
passageways: one dry and the other filled with seawater. They
seemed to have no barrier between them reminding her of looking at the
surface of a tub turned on its side. At one point she reached out
and touched the water and found that she could insert her hand into it.
It was surprisingly warm for this deep in the ocean. Randi
smiled at her and said, "Don't ask me how they do it. Adam and
K'horal both have tried to explain it to me, and I still don't
Leighanne smiled back and shrugged as they
continued on down the walkway, their shoes making a slightly muffled
sound. She did note that there were more people moving through
the water-filled side of the corridor than on the dry side. Most
of them were swimming along carry small satchels of equipment or gear
totally oblivious of the human who'd invaded their aquatic domain. Now
and again she'd see a defender jet by, easily discernible by
the broad wing of flesh that ran from just above their wrists along the
back of their arms to join at the small of their back. She'd read
that the defenders used their wings as diving planes for quick
ascensions and submersions in the water. Few were carrying the huge
trident like harpoons that were a mark of their position and
Mixed in among them were smaller beings
that were about the size of an infant, with long tails that had a flat
spade like surface at their ends. They too had the defender
wings, and were nude except for small pouches on their forearms that
held various tools. They didn't seem to be Shan and most of the
people around them were simply ignoring them as they went about their
Oddly enough, even surrounded
by all of this life, all of this hustle and bustle, she detected very
little pressure against her mind shields as she moved deeper into the
city. No wonder Randi found this place so so peaceful. It
was every telepath's dream to find a city full of people who weren't
constantly assaulting you with their minds.
"Who are they?" she asked pointing out one
of the tiny beings.
Randi smiled, "They're called squ'ks."
When Leighanne gave her a confused look she said,
pronouncing it. The Shan recognize the human word squ'ks. There's
a sonar signal between "q-u" and the "k" that you can't hear."
"What are they they?" Leighanne asked.
"They're a pre-sentient domesticated
species that we keep for general repair and maintenance work. They
aren't quite pets, and they aren't quite children. They adore the
defenders, and K'hori is their favorite."
Leighanne gave her a slightly confused
Randi smiled, "Oh sorry. I guess thatisgoing to be a problem.
The Shan use nicknames
too. K'horal, my husband, his nickname is K'hori. I guess
it sounds a lot like your son's name without the requisite sonar
Leighanne smiled and replied, "I guess a
lot of the Shan language has a sonar signal to it?"
Randi laughed, "Just about all of it.
Fortunately it does adapt to English, German, and most of the
Romance languages quite well as long as you leave the sonar signal out.
It plays hell with Hebrew and Arabic though; not so much with
Farsi but it's an Indo-European language. You just have to
remember that a whole range of tactile, and volume information is
missing without that the sonar signal. All Shan names have a
sonar signal to them. A signal after the first consonant
indicates a male, a signal before the last consonant denotes a female."
She shrugged, and added, "But all of the Shan speak English, and
about a fourth speak Spanish as well. It's a good idea to know
the language of your neighbors."
They arrived at a wall of water that
Leighanne suddenly realized was retreating from them. She watched
as it literally shrank back to the far side of the room and and then
disappeared from sight into the stone-like wall. As it retreated it
revealed a room with equipment all along the walls, the floor and even
the ceiling. It took her a moment to realize that in an
underwater environment, one was not limited to just using the floor.
Standing in the middle of the room was a very attractive young
woman with long light blue hair that was pulled back into a pony-tail.
Like everyone else, she was nude. She smiled at Leighanne
and said, "Hello, I'm Jale'n, Mother asked me to look at your son's
Leighanne nodded to the young woman and
asked, "I realize that you've only had a few moments to look over them,
but do you think there is anything you can do?"
She exchanged looks with Randi and then
said, "There is always something we can do.
The question is, how
far do you want to go?"
"As far as it takes to save my son,"
The woman nodded and indicated a large
egg-like piece of equipment. "This is one of our birthing
chambers. We can use them to heal those who've been wounded or
injured of all but the most severe traumas. But they require an
uncorrupted genetic code. I'm not sure we can get that from your
"I thought you said you could help,"
"I think we can use some gene splicing
techniques to rebuild him, but I need to study the issue further.
How soon can you get him here?"
"Is tomorrow soon enough?" Randi asked.
Jale'n smiled and said, "Not for my taste,
but it will have to do." Leighanne took an immediate liking to
the woman. "Let's discuss our possible options before we go any
further though," the woman said indicating a low sofa that was rising
out of the stone floor. Leighanne nodded and sat.
She spent the next three hours discussing
various options. Most of it depended on the stability of Corey's
genetic code and the effect the possible AGG virus was having on it.
Jale'n though was confident that she could work around even that,
it was just a matter of how much they had to rebuild her son.
seeing Leighanne off on a Shan
shuttle, Miranda returned to their home deep inside the floating ring
of Illia. It was at the bend where the vertical sides of the
floating city turned at a forty-five degree angle to begin to slope
back toward the main shaft leading the ship below. It was one of the
nicer homes, and they had direct access to the ocean outside from their
apartment. Still, she took the "dry" passageways from topside to
her home, of for no other reason than to avoid ruining a six hundred
dollar outfit she'd bought the last time they had been in New York
City. It had been a draining day, and she was glad to get out of
her clothing and slip into freedom of their own apartment. She
did however, choose to drain it. She wanted it to dry out completely
before her guests arrive and she needed it dry for another reason as
She smiled at herself at the irony of that
thought. All four of D'an'a's parents could breathe water.
It was one of hers and Adam's transhuman enhancements, and of
course both Jord'n and K'hori were defender Shan so that ability was
natural to them as well. But it was the merger of the transhuman
and Shan genes that caused her problem.
As if summoned by her thoughts, which of
course considering that they were both telepaths was very possible,
D'an'a appeared through the moon-pool in the center of the apartment
and climbed out. "Is there a reason the apartment is dry?" she
called hopefully from the drying pad next tot he pool. Randi
noticed that she used English. The atmosphere in the apartment
was too thin to speak in Shan without shouting. Randi knew what
she was hoping for. It was the other reason for leaving the
apartment dry. Human foods- especially bread was not possible to
prepare in an aquatic environment.
"How does baked spaghetti and garlic rolls
sound? Maybe with a fresh garden salad?" she asked with a smile.
D'an'a, K'hori, and Jord'n could never get enough bread products.
The traditional Shan diet was heavy on kelp, sponges, reptile,
and the occasional fish. Most vegetable products were a rare
treat for them, and bread especially so. Shan would swim several
kilometers out of their way for a week old piece of bread. The
fact that it had to be prepared in a dry environment was a small price
to pay. Grasses were just starting to appear on Earth when the
Shan fled the effects of the Sslelkian atomic war on the surface, so it
was a food they had little contact with.
"Mom, did you run up the credit card
again?" D'an'a asked with a grin, and implying that she was making a
peace offering to the family.
Randi turned and smiled at her only child.
D'an'a's body was still in that stage where it wasn't sure if it
was going to put on mass like a boy or become more curvy like a girl.
Randi suspected that her offspring would always have a somewhat
small frame, that wavered on the edge of androgyny- which considering
the child's particular condition made sense. Long blue-white bio
luminescent hair was pulled back into the functional ponytail worn by
most defenders, male or female. Randi could detect that her baby
was starting to develop breasts, already at a small A-cup.
She took a moment to look D'an'a up and
down and could tell that puberty was starting to really work its magic
on the lithe body. A sparse tangle of the same blue-white pubic
hair was starting to come in above the lengthening form of what looked
as if it was going to be an impressive penis sitting atop a set of
testicles that were already beginning to drop. Just behind and
lower to those, she could detect where the scrotum disappeared into the
opening of D'an'a's vagina. Long lithe powerful legs split from
there to support a rather attractive androgynous frame. D'an'a's
hermaphroditic condition was becoming more evident as he entered the
final stage of his development.
"No I didn't max out my credit cards.
That's why I have investments, lots of investments. I can't
max out the credit cards. Besides which, the last time we made a
huge purchase, that was your father." she said with a smile. "I
want the apartment to dry out for a while. We're having human guests as
of tomorrow and I want them to be comfortable."
"Who?" she asked.
"An old colleague and friend of mine,
Leighanne Leight, or Leighanne Carstairs now, and her family."
"The one you worked with at the DNA?" she
asked coming over and pulling the plates down for the table.
"Yeah, that would be her," Leighanne said.
"So, why are they visiting?" she asked.
"Their son is going to be in the medical
center to see if they can repair some damage from radiation poisoning,"
"Radiation poisoning?" she asked.
"How was he exposed? I thought that he mess at Orlando had been
cleaned up," D'an'a asked referencing the nuclear attack on the city of
Orlando two years before the Shan had returned to Earth.
"He was Birmingham when it was attacked."
"The UN didn't use nukes on Birmingham...,"
"No, but more than one UN operative was
creating using radiation, and more than one uses radiation as a weapon.
He was caught in a blast while saving an old man's life," she
"So he's a transhuman?"
"No, not that we know. Corey was
just a kid doing the right thing at the wrong time," Randi told D'an'a.
"K'hori?" she asked obviously using the
sonar signal for one of her father's names.
"No C-o-r-e-y," Miranda said spelling the
"I thought we'd given the humans an
effective treatment for radiation poisoning. Why didn't it work?"
"The new insurance program that my friend
is forced to use by the government, won't pay for it, and won't allow
her to pay for it," she said. "So they're coming here, so see if
we can cure the radiation sickness, and maybe the burn damage."
Leighanne hadn't said that specifically, but Randi knew it was an
issue. The images she got from her friend's mind were horrific.
She knew that even if he were healed tomorrow, he'd never lead a
normal life because of the scarring.
"I see," D'an'a said obviously picking up
the image from her mind. "What would you like for me to do to
Corey's stepbrother and his
girlfriend around," Miranda said.
D'an'a shrugged and said, "Unless they can
breathe water or are qualified to use a rebreather there's not much to
"Well, they both are master divers,"
Miranda told her remembering Leighanne mentioning that when they were
D'an'a nodded, and said, "Then teaching
them to use a rebreather won't be difficult."
"Actually, they probably already know how.
Chris' father is George Carstairs who's done some work with our
engineers. I know that his divers are trained on rebreathers.
Leighanne tells me that Chris and Bonnie spend so much time in
the water that she sometimes think they're part fish. I'm sure they've
both been trained on them."
D'an'a smiled and said, "It should be fun
then." She stopped and thought a moment, "Do you want me to wear
something while I'm showing them around?"
"Not if you don't want to," Miranda said.
"What will you guys be wearing?" she asked.
"I'll be wearing what I normally wear,"
"Normally wear around the apartment and
the city, or when dealing with humans and gandma and grandpa?"
"Considering that my routine is not going
to change that much, I thought I would wait and see their reactions
before I adjusted my attire. Leighanne has always been fairly
open-minded, and I've never met George, so we'll see."
D'an'a smiled and put the bowls and plates
on the table. "How about school?" she asked hopefully. "Do
you want me to miss classes?"
"What are you studying right now?" Miranda
asked. It wasn't that D'an'a was actually learning any new
knowledge, Shan children had most basic skills and knowledge
brain-taped directly to them. It was a case of attending training
in the practical application of that knowledge.
"Mornings is naval tactics of World War II
simulations, and comparing them with modern tactics. It's really
kind of boring, since I got most of that already from playing war games
with father." D'an'a said referring to Adam's favorite hobby.
Most Shan children did not attend military style training, but
defenders were charged with the defense of the civilization.
Combat and military training was mandatory for them. "Early
afternoon is sculpture, I'm ahead in that class. My piece is
almost finished. Then late afternoon is Ship's drive system
repair. Not something that I think we're going to need anytime in
the near future."
Miranda smiled at her as Jord'n surfaced
in the moon pool. "Evening', Sugar," she called to her wife.
Jord'n was tall and lean like all defenders, and had electric
pink hair that always reminded of Randi of cotton candy- hence the
"Good evening Miranda," the tall woman
stood on the drying pad until the device had pulled all of the water
off her body and hair which went from a deep rose to a hot pink in a
matter of moments. "Hello, D'an'a. Mother tells me we are
having guests starting tomorrow."
"Is there anybody she hasn't told?" Randi
tilted her head to the ceiling and asked.
believe that repair crew working on the
outlying intake valves are unaware of the event," Jord'n said with a
smile as she kissed their child on the head before kissing Miranda.
"But she told me that she'd informed you that she was informing us."
Miranda then recalled her mentioning it.
"Just wait until they get back into the
city," D'an'a said rather snarkily. "Haven't my noble parents yet
figured out that their daily lives are the source of much speculation
and gossip among the general populace?
"I'm not sure whether or
not we should be insulted or run away to the bottom of the Puerto Rican
Trench," Randi said.
"I would settle with being insulted,"
Jord'n said. "From what I've heard from our husbands, that is not
a pleasant place. Some of the creatures there date back to from
our time on this world."
"What have dad and father discovered?"
"That the trench has managed to preserve
some creatures that put fear into the heart of even a first generation
defender," Jord'n said. "But not to worry, they are trapped
there, only a First Defender can reach them."
"In other words, Dad."
"In other words, both of your fathers,"
Miranda added. She looked at Jord'n and asked,
"And what were
they doing exploring the Puerto Rican Trench?"
"They were looking for place to safely
drop the reactor of that Chinese submarine that attacked yours and
Adam's mini-sub on the first contact mission," Jord'n said.
"I take it then the Trench is out?"
"It is a unique ecology upon which such an
action would have a very detrimental effect. We've decided to
enlist the aid of the Atlanteans instead. For now, the reactor is
off-line and inside a containment field."
"Mother says that I may be able to skip
some of my lessons to act as a guide to our visitors," D'an'a said
Jord'n gave her a questioning look and
Randi said, "I said it might be possible, depending on where her
"And your studies are where?" Jord'n asked
"I'm pretty much ahead in everything, and
I'm bored out of my skull in my tactics class," D'an'a said hopefully.
"Everything that Defender Mr'ell is covering is the same stuff
father and I go over in his war games simulation. I've had plenty
of practical application of it in the games tank."
Jord'n smiled over at Miranda and they
said in unison, "We'll wait and discuss it with K'hori and Adam over
"Which I suspect is baked spaghetti?"
Jord'n asked hopefully.
"Spaghetti, salad, and garlic rolls with
cheesecake for desert. Also Leighanne gifted us a bottle of good
California wine which considering most of the state is now under water,
is rare as hen's teeth these days," Miranda said.
"Hens have teeth?" Jord'n asked bringing
the salad makings of out of the fresher and began chopping them.
"Exactly," Miranda said with a smile.
To Miranda's surprise, both Adam and
K'hori thought the idea of D'an'a showing Chris and his girlfriend
around was a good idea. They both felt that it would give her an
opportunity to meet some humans who hadn't completely adjusted to Shan
culture. It was also decided to wait and see how Leighanne and
her family acted toward the Shan tendency toward casual nudity before
determining on whether or not clothing would be worn in the apartment.
Randi desperately hoped that her friend would not be embarrassed,
and would take it in stride. She knew how Jord'n tended to react
to humans who who became prudish about such things.
"They said they'll do it," Leighanne told
her family that evening over dinner.
"No stipulations?" George asked.
Leighanne shook her head, "No
stipulations. I told you Randi wouldn't play politics where he
godson was concerned."
"I believe you," George said pulling out
his cell phone. "I'll call the airport now and get the flight arranged."
Leighanne shook her head, "Don't bother.
Randi's sending a medical shuttle to pick him up at ten in the
George gave a sigh of relief.
Leighanne knew that he was worried about getting clearance for
helicopter to take a patient all the way out to Illia. Some
pilots refused to fly outside of US territorial waters, and being as
the city floated two hundred twenty-two miles due south of Port Arthur,
Texas in the Alaminos Canyon it had taken a lot of work to find one
that would. As it was, the flight would have to be from where
they lived in Miami, to Mobile, Alabama where they would refuel, then
fly to New Orleans for another refuel, and then on to Port Arthur where
they would change over to a Sikorsky that would take them out to Illia.
That was a lot of favors to call in, but he was willing to do it
for his stepson.
Putting the phone down he said, "You do
realize that doing this is probably going to cost you your job at the
agency. Again, I'm not criticizing, and I'd do it in a heart beat
myself, but I want to make sure you know what's going to happen."
She nodded her head, "Yeah, Deputy
Director Jennings has already told me that if I don't cut ties with
transhuman contacts, that my job could be in jeopardy. You know
how it is with the pencil-pusher types."
"Just so you know," he said.
"It's not like I need the job. The
only reason I kept it was to keep insurance on Corey. No other
insurance company would take him if I changed jobs, and under the new
law I'm not allowed to pay for treatment out of pocket. If this works,
it won't matter. With the investments I've made over the years, we can
afford it. The house is paid for, the cars are paid for, Corey's and
Chris' college is paid for. I don't give a damn about the job.
I do give a damn about getting my son better."
Sweetheart," George said. "I just want to make sure that you're
"George love, when it comes to my family,
I don't think clearly. I think about protecting them," she told
He nodded and then looked to where Bonnie
and Chris were sitting quietly listening to the conversation, almost
afraid that if they said anything then the adults would send them away.
"Go pack for two weeks in Illia," he told them.
"In a Shan city, that could just be a
toothbrush and a comb," Chris said snarkily.
"I will if you will," Bonnie replied.
"Uh..., uhhh...," Chris started to say.
"Remember how the last game of I'll show
you mine if you show me yours, went, guys," George warned. Then
noticing his son's deep red color, he added, "Besides Bonnie, we're
talking about a twelve year old boy and cold water. Not a good
combination in his mind."
"Dad! I'll be thirteen next month!"
"Yes, but we're going to Illia tomorrow,"
George said. "Now go pack your wet suits. I'm sure you'll
get a chance to see the city, and it does get cold that deep."
"Yes sir," the both said.
"I'll walk Bonnie, home," Chris said
looking outside. "It's getting dark."
"Good boy," Leighanne said kissing them
both on the forehead.
next day, Leighanne found herself standing in the medical center with
Jale'n as they pulled Corey's burned and emaciated body from the
stretcher and placed it inside one of their healing chambers.
Leighanne's heart was breaking at the sight of her once vibrant
healthy child now reduced to a scarred husk. "Mother, please run the
diagnostics that we set up," Jale'n said.
"Beginning scan, now," Mother said.
Jale'n turned to Leighanne and said,
"These scans will take about an hour to complete. After that we
need time to study the results. I should have a beginning of an
idea of how to proceed by this afternoon. You can stay here and
wait, or you can go and get settled in with your family." It was
clear to Leighanne that the woman would prefer to work in peace, but
she was giving Leighanne the option of staying.
"I think I'll wait outside in the corridor
and give you room to work. If you need me, I'll be right
outside." She slipped out into the passageway and was
surprised to find a bowl-shaped stone chair sitting off to one side.
Smiling, she sat down and waited.
watched as people came and went at the
medical center. After a while, one of the small creatures that Miranda
had called squ'ks came up to where she was sitting. It stood
there with it's huge blue eyes and looked at her curiously. She
noted that his large head head was somewhat out of proportion with its
body. Furthermore, unlike the shan his fine green hair was short,
almost in what we would call a page-boy haircut, but she got the
feeling that it was its natural length. His long delicate fingers
reached out and brushed against her wrist. He made a series of
clicking noises at her and smiled.
"He says, Jale'n fix," Mother said.
Then she made a series of clicks and wails to the him.
creature gave Leighanne a long sad
look and patted her knee. Leighanne smiled at him, nodded and said, "I
hope so, little one. I hope so."
To her surprise the small creature crawled
up into her lap and hugged her around the neck, his long eyelashes
tickling her face. When he let go, he settled down in her lap,
lay his head against her breast and crooned softly to her. "I
think he means to stay with you," Mother said.
Leighanne found herself holding the small
creature as he sat in her lap singing to himself softly. After a
while he reached into one of the pouches on his arm, pulled out a small
device and some tools and began to tinker with it.
Leighanne lost track of time after that. She lost herself
in memories. Memories of Dillon, of Corey, and of happier times.
guests carefully as she stood in the living room with the three of
them; an older man, and a boy and girl of about his own developmental
stage. "Cool, I've been trying to finagle a trip here, since you
guys landed," the boy called Chris said as he, his girlfriend- D'an'a
wondered if that term was right; it implied that humans saw
cross-gender friendships differently than same-sex friendships- and his
father set their bags down in the main room of the apartment.
"You'll have to forgive Chris," the pretty
brown-haired girl, Bonnie said. It was strange to hear a name
without a sonar signature associated with it. "Sometimes his
mouth engages before his brain does."
"That's not an uncommon trait among
teenage boys," D'an'a's father, Adam said. He noted his father
was wearing what he called trunks for their first meeting with his
mother's old friends.
"Nice to see you again, Commander," the
father, George said. D'an'a noticed that for a man who was
supposedly in his fifties, for a human supposedly past his prime, the
man was remarkably well built, and trim. His salt and pepper
short cut hair was the only indication of age on him.
"You too, Chief- wait a minute?
You're Leighanne's husband?" his father said in surprise.
"Guilty as charged Commander," George said.
"We're not in the service anymore, George.
Call me Adam." D'an'a's father said.
"Am I to understand my noble father knows,
Mr. Carstairs?" D'an'a asked formally.
"Noble father?" George asked.
"It's a Shan custom," his father said
somewhat sheepishly. "D'an'a only uses it when he's being snarky."
"Children, snarky? Never!" Chris
said pertly. "We always respect our elders." He winked at D'an'a.
"And to answer your question, D'an'a," his
father said. "Yes, George and I served together as SEALS. George
here liked to blow things up."
"A predilection, evidently shared by my
noble father," D'an'a said with a smile. "I believe Dad once said
that your first solution to any problem was the correct application of
"Wait a minute, Dad. You were a
SEAL? You never told us!" Chris protested.
"You never asked. You knew I was in
the Navy," George replied.
"Yeah, but a SEAL? I mean, they're
the best of the best. Runeclaw was a SEAL!" Chris said.
D'an'a noted that both his father and
George rolled their eyes at the mention of the transhuman, Runeclaw.
His father said, "Yes, Commander Greenbough was a SEAL. He
could also drink an elephant under the table."
"A herd of elephants," George added
"That's why I always bet on the man in
drinking contests," Adam, D'an'a's father said.
"Did you know him?" Chris asked hopefully.
"We worked together a time or two," George
said. "Adam here, graduated Annapolis with him."
"We were in different brigades," Adam
commented. "It was the only thing that kept either of our
brigades from dominating the cadet competitions. We kept
canceling each other out. Of course he also kept disappearing
"According to my wife, he was already
working for General Presley," George added.
Adam said, "Ah, the DNA has long arms."
"Leighanne worked with him a time or two
while he was there," George commented.
"Really?" Adam asked. "Uh..., you do
know his reputation."
"She was already married to Dillon at the
time, and you know as well as I do, that he doesn't play with the
married ladies- or gents for that matter," George said.
"I hadn't heard that about him," Adam
"Scared the piss out of me the first time
I turned around in combat and found seventeen feet of weretiger
standing behind me though," George said changing the subject.
D'an'a's father took a deep breath and
said, "Yeah, I know what you mean. He and I went toe to toe a
couple of times in combat training, and although I could take just
about anything he could dish out, there was still this underlying
reaction to a cat that damn big. It was like looking down the maw
of a twenty-foot little death." He shook his head, "Uh, great
George chuckled and then looked over to
where both Bonnie and Chris seemed to be staring at him. "Chris,
Bonnie, it's not polite to stare."
"Yes sir," they both said and tore their
"How do you get your hair that color?"
Bonnie whispered. D'an'a smiled.
His father gestured toward him. There was no
hint of condemnation in his voice, something he knew that difficult for
him to control when it came to D'an'a. "Is this going to be a
"No," George said. "I suspect when the
kids get over the novelty of it, that it won't be." He turned to
D'an'a and smiled, "Please bear with them for a little while. It's
outside their cultural norms, but I think they'll adjust to seeing you,
and everyone else nude after a day or so."
D'an'a nodded, and said, "I don't think
it'll be a problem. If you feel uncomfortable, I'm willing to
adjust to your cultural standards for the duration of your stay."
He really didn't look forward to wearing clothes for an extended
period of time, but he was willing to make the sacrifice for his mother.
"I'm sorry, I'm just wondering how you got
your hair such a beautiful shade of white," Bonnie said.
"Uh, it' s natural?" D'an'a replied.
Blushing, he said, "Actually it's bio luminescent."
"Huh?" Bonnie asked.
"It glows in the dark," Chris told her.
"Cool," Bonnie replied.
then the adults had moved off to where
his father was showing George the suite of three rooms prepared for
them. He wondered briefly why they needed three rooms, but did
not press the matter. He would ask his mother later.
"Do you mind if I ask a personal
question?" Chris asked.
D'an'a shrugged, already seeing the nature
of his question in his mind. His mother had taught him not read other
people's minds indiscriminately but when they were mentally shouting, :She's
got dick, and damn it's bigger than mine! I'm so
hosed here,: it was kind of hard not to.
"I am both male and female," he said answering his question.
It's a genetic anomaly that occasionally crops up in the gene
pool. Unfortunately, it lined up with my Shan genes to the extent
that if it was removed, I'd also lose my ability to breathe water."
"That's gotta' suck," Chris said.
"If I understand the nature of that
particular expression," she said. "Yes it does, and not in the
"You understand it," Bonnie said as she
slapped her boyfriend upside the back of the head.
the head slap, D'an'a asked, "You a
student of Agent Gibbs?"
"Yes, yes I am," Bonnie said. Then
in a cult like voice she said with a smile, "All must memorize the
rules of Gibbs. I'm surprised to find that a Shan knows about
"It's one of the few entertainment
programs, my parents will allow in our home. That and something
called Babylon 5. I can watch all the educational programs and
news I want however."
"You sure your mom and mine haven't been
talking for three years?" Chris asked.
"One never knows. However, I believe
that if Mother knew of your brother's situation, she'd have have
offered our services before now."
"Up until now, the Doctors had hope.
The health-care bill pretty spelled the end for Corey."
He cocked his head sideways at the young
human. His sonar was giving him some conflicting information.
"Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?"
"I'm an open book," he said.
"Actually, you're not," he said.
"I'm a telepath too. I have
difficulty reading both of you."
"What's your question?" Chris asked.
"What's it like to have a sibling?" he
"Fun, annoying, and generally a wild
ride," Chris said. "But Corey and I were only best friends. We
didn't become brothers until after he was hurt."
"So you are step-brothers?" D'an'a asked.
"Yeah. But we've been best friends,
all three of us, since we were about three," Chris said.
"Is he aware of your relationship now?" he
"Mom's told him. But we don't know if he's
actually heard her or not," Chris said. "We're pretty sure, he'd
be happy for us."
"Pretty sure?" D'an'a asked.
"What the lunkhead here is trying to say,
is that we don't think there would be any jealousy over it," Bonnie
"Jealous of your relationship with Chris,
or his with you?" D'an'a asked.
"No, no, no," Bonnie said. "Corey's
the one that threw Chris and I together. I'm not Corey's type."
"But is Chris, Corey's type?" D'an'a asked
unknowingly getting to the root of the question.
looked around and then said, "Yes
and no. He likes Chris, and probably wishes it was that kind of
relationship, but he knows that Chris is straight. So, he told me
he'd rather have a brother and a friend than a lover."
D'an'a nodded. "Sounds like your
friend has pretty level head on his shoulder. He took a deep
breath and told them something that he hadn't even told his parents
yet. "I'm still waiting on the right person or persons to start
that kind of experimenting with."
"What?" Chris said. "I thought Shan
kids your age were already experimenting. Mom called it playing pin to
"I..., haven't found anyone yet to play
with," D'an'a said. "You have to understand, there are certain
problems for me. First, is my dad is the leader of the colony,
and very much a legend among our people. That scares quite a few of my
age-mates off. Secondly, there's this." He indicated his
body that now showed the sexual characteristics of both male and female
very prominently. It wasn't such a problem when he was smaller.
His male organs tended to hide his female ones, so people most
treated him as young boy. Now that the breast were starting
to develop and the muscle mass wasn't always where it was supposed to
be, it confused even some of the Shan. "Most of the offers I've
had so far, have been more out of prurient curiosity and a certain
level of bragging rights than any interest in me personally." He
shrugged, "Sometimes being a telepath can "suck" worse than being a
Bonnie smiled and said, "Well, there's no
pressure here from us. We would like to see your colony, and make
some friends though."
D'an'a smiled and said, "I think I'd like
to show you around. Mother said that you may already be trained
on the use of a rebreather."
Chris nodded and said, "Yeah, we both
have. Dad's construction company does a lot of underwater
construction. Corey and I got trained fairly early, and Bonnie
learned so she could keep up with us."
"More like to keep an eye on you," the
brown-haired girl said sarcastically. "Sometimes they pull some
pretty boneheaded stunts. Somebody has to be there to call 911."
D'an'a chuckled and said, "Well, we can
fit you with rebreathers and warm-suits and take you out in no-time."
"We brought our own wet suits," Chris
D'an'a asked, "Are they rated for three to
four degrees Celcius?"
"No," Chris said shaking his head.
"Only for reef diving."
"We're a hundred and fifty meters below
the surface. The temperature is much colder than most humans
prefer. I think we'd better outfit you with a couple of
"That might be a good idea.
Hypothermia would kill us in a matter of minutes," Chris said.
"See what I mean," Bonnie commented taking
the boy's hand in hers.
"Yeah," D'an'a said. "Let's go see
the dive master and get you your rebreathers. If you have your
certification with you, he'll accept that and just show you the
differences between Shan and human rebreathers."
"What are the differences?" Bonnie asked
following her out into the dry passage.
"Mainly in the duration of effectiveness.
Most human rebreathers are only good for about six hours.
Ours are designed to allow for indefinite diving for humans. We've also
eliminated the large backpack. Our entire
system is contained in a full face mask that allows for open
communication," D'an'a told them. "An added benefit is that since
they control the oxygen release much more efficiently, they require
less decompression time."
"I'm looking forward to trying it," Chris
said genuinely excited to see actually get to use a new technology that
was practical to his own experience. D'an'a could tell that he
thought it was cool to think about blue-green lasers capable of cutting
plate steel under water, but that was something he knew he wasn't
likely to have much of a chance to use. However, he was a diver,
and a rebreather like D'an'a was describing was something he could
Ten minutes later, Tan'a was fitting both
of her companions with warm-suits. D'an'a briefly smiled at the
outline of effect the attractive dive master was having on Chris in his
warm-suit. His father was right. Human boys reacted to just
about anything they saw. To D'an'a, seeing the dive master or any
other Shan nude was no big deal, but he could tell the young man was in
a state of perpetual excitement. He could also sense that
watching her boyfriend react this was was disturbing Bonnie somewhat.
He took a short lull in the training while Chris visited the
"facilities" to approach the young lady. "He's not doing it on
purpose," he told her.
"Huh?" Bonnie asked.
"Chris not reacting that way on purpose,"
D'an'a said. "My father says that human males are hard wired to
react to visual stimulation, and teenage boys especially.
Considering the cultural norms of your own society, seeing an
attractive nude female, is not something he's experienced much in life.
He can't help but react the way he does. It is not meant as
a slight to you. I'd say that if you were to present him with a
similar sight, he'd react much more strongly than he is now."
"Why would your father tell you something
like that?" Bonnie asked candidly.
D'an'a smiled, "Because he knew something
like this was likely to happen. He was afraid I might misread
this kind of thing and act wrongly around humans. That I might
think that under these circumstances that Chris' reaction was an
invitation to play."
Bonnie, nodded and smiled. "Do you
really think that he would have a stronger reaction to me?" she asked.
D'an'a laughed and touched his temple and
said, "I know so. I can read minds you know, and he's literally
screaming it at me."
"Thought you said you couldn't read our
minds very easily," she said.
"I can't normally. But like I said, there
are some things that he is screaming at me. His attraction to you
is one of them," D'an'a told her.
"Out of curiosity, what are some of the
others?" she asked him.
"Do you really want to know?" D'an'a asked.
"Is it anything bad?"
"Not really," D'an'a said. "It could be if
I took offense easily, but I understand these kinds of things.
I've heard them a lot lately."
"Such as?" Bonnie asked.
D'an'a smiled and said, "Well one thing
was he was surprised at my own anatomy. I think that his mother
told you that I was a girl. His comparisons of our penises was quite
flattering to me, and somewhat of a let down to his own ego."
Bonnie smiled wanly, "So he's
worried about size? It's good to know that I'm not the only one
who looks at all of you fantastically beautiful Shan and find myself
not stacking up. It's not exactly like I compare to someone like
D'an'a smiled and said, "Neither one of
you are unattractive Bonnie. And, you're young, and haven't fully
developed yet. So am I," he said and indicated his own budding
breasts with his hands. "But then again, so are our age-mates and
that's who we are supposed to play with; not Tan'a and not any of the
other adults. Trust me, you've got enough to keep Chris'
Before Bonnie could reply Chris returned
from the changing room, the long outline in his warm suit now reduced
to a bulge at his groin. D'an'a knew exactly how the boy had
managed to get his recalcitrant organ to go down. The images the
boy was conjuring up were quite powerful and quite clear. And
really was a shame that the girl had not been there to help him with
it, but that was a cultural difference between their peoples. It
would have facilitated their getting underway more quickly.
Ten minutes after that, they were cycling
the airlock between the dive master's station and the outer ring.
D'an'a usually preferred to use the moon pool in their apartment,
but he thought that an air lock might be more comfortable for his
guest. As the water began to rise, he reached over and touched
the light amplification mode on the side of each of their masks.
This deep underwater, less than one percent of the sun's rays
reached the city.
Of course there were various lights all
around the city, but due it was dispersed rather quickly. If all
of the lights on the upper city were shut down at night, one could
still not see the grow lights almost a mile below on the bottom.
D'an'a could see just fine in the pitch darkness of the abyssal
plain below, and probably could even see at the bottom of the trench,
not that he'd ever ventured there. Add into his senses, his
sonar, and he could maneuver quite easily in the darkness, but Bonnie
and Chris were obviously another matter.
As the lock cycled open and they were free
to move about the exterior of the city, D'an'a generated a column of
water down his legs, spread his arms to deploy his wings and jetted out
ahead of his guests. A quick sonar ping told him where most of
the traffic around him was. He noted the presence of a rather
large oceanic white-tip shark about a kilometer away, but for the most
part it was cruising and not hunting. Most of the sharks had
discovered that their life expectancy was rather short this close to
the city, especially if they wandered into the cattle pens.
He watched as his companions ventured out
of the safety of the airlock and look around. He could tell that
they were both very accustomed to being underwater, and handled the
experience rather well. He found himself smiling and showing off,
making wide circles around them. Two thirds of D'an'a's genetics
might have been transhuman, but he was purely a creature of the sea,
Shan to the cartilage that made up his skeleton, and he was never felt
more happy than when he was underwater.
"What would you like to see first?" he
Both Bonnie and Chris looked at him in
surprise. "You can speak underwater?"
D'an'a laughed and nodded his head saying,
"Our language is not all sonar. We can speak."
"I heard that you guys had brought back
the plesiosaurs," Chris said, referring to the fact that Shan had
brought the genetic code of many of their time's flora and fauna with
them. As soon as the city went online, they began breeding their
primary food stock- a smaller large headed, short-necked member of the
pleisosaur family known as the trinacromerum. D'an'a's people
called them 'cau.
"You want to see the cattle pens?" D'an'a
asked in surprise.
"I've never seen a dinosaur," Chris said.
D'an'a swam up to him winked and said,
"And technically you won't now. From what I've read of your
classification system, the plesiosaurs are not technically in the
Dinosauria superorder but are instead Sauropterygia. I'll be glad
to take you to see them though."
and Bonnie exchanged glances and
then she said with a smile, "By all means."
the pens were not too far away
and he knew a route to them that would take them through several sites
that might be interesting to Bonnie and Chris. He waved for them
to follow him, and gently glided downward along the sloping outer hull
of the city. They crossed the four hundred meters of the outer
ring to enter into the open area of the outer pond. It was
basically an expanse about a kilometer wide between the outer ring, and
the next of three rings inward to the core shaft.
As they ascended they reached the edge of
the city's predator defense field. He warned them, "The next
twenty meters or so, you'll feel a pressure in your ears and be
somewhat uncomfortable. It's a field that keep sharks and other
large predators out of this area. It'll pass." He was careful to
take it slow so that Bonnie and Chris would not suffer from
decompression sickness They were now basically between a two
vertical walls that rose two hundred meters above them to the surface.
It was one of the few near-surface areas where the smaller
children were allowed to play.
As they exited the field, they were bathed
in lights from two ring they were in between. Several baseline
and one or two defender children of various ages were playing in groups
all around. There was a rather intense game of tag going on, of
which not even D'an'a could determine the rules. Some of the
older ones were clustered together against a wall, and were exploring
each other in more intimate games.
As soon as Bonnie and Chris entered into
the main area, D'an'a could hear the calls of "Look, it's them!" echo
around the play area. Even the half dozen that were against the
wall turned to see their visitors. It wasn't often that Shan
children got to see human children, especially in their own world.
D'an'a was surprised that they weren't suddenly knocked back by
all the sonar pings that hit them. She know they had to have felt
In a sudden swarm, the children were
chattering around the new comers asking all kinds of questions in
English. "What is your name? How old are you? Where
are you from? How long have you known how to use a rebreather?
Can yo speak Shan?"
"I'm Chris, this is Bonnie," Chris said.
"I'm twelve, and she's thirteen."
"We're from Miami," Bonnie said. "I've
been able to use a rebreather for a couple of years."
Both shook their heads and said, "No we
can't speak Shan, but we'd like to learn."
"Do you want to come and play with us?"
One of the older girls asked Bonnie running a hand across her warm suit
"Yeah, that would be fun," one of the boys
said touching her other breast. D'an'a noticed Chris moving in,
and decided it would be best to interpose himself before someone got
hurt. Chris really was at a major disadvantage because of his
D'an'a pushed jetted between him and
Bonnie to gently push the other two Shan children out of the way. He
said quickly in English, "Remember about asking first."
The others quickly back-paddled and began to
blush deeply. "My apologies," the girl said.
The boy nodded and said, "I as well. I
D'an'a could sense Chris beginning to calm
down behind him. The anger that flashed so quickly had
dissipated. He wondered how humans could become so angry so
quickly about such a small thing. "I believe no harm is done."
"You could always come and play with us,
D'an'a, the girl said.
D'an'a shook his head, "I don't think so.
I have duties to attend, and our guests wish to see the cattle
"Ah well, we are scheduled to return to
the classroom soon anyway. Maybe later," the boy said.
D'an'a had seen what was in his mind. He had no intention
of letting the other boy touch him. He was the kind who was much
less interested in the pleasure of his playmates as he was in his own.
It was an attitude that would eventually cause him problems if he
did not work it out before he reached adulthood.
D'an'a turned to Bonnie and Chris and
said, "Come on, the pens are on the other side of the interconnecting
spoke. It's about two kilometers in that direction." The
three of them swam off in the warming waters.
took a long hard look at the
stuffed suit in front of her. He was short, swarthy, with a hooked nose
and a greasy complexion. He reminded her the kind of self serving
ideologue who'd been giving her grief ever since her identity became
public knowledge. The kind that had turned their eyes and saw
nothing wrong with the "honor killing" of her parents for daring to
convert from Islam; the kind who turned a blind eye to the fatwa issued
for her own murder because she refused to return to the faith and
because she dared to practice her mage gift openly. He was the
kind of man she'd take a great deal of satisfaction out simply spitting
in his face.
knew that she would never do it, or a hundred other things that she
wanted to do. It was the real reason K'hori preferred to have her
with him on these excursions to New York instead of Adam or Jord'n.
Adam would simply lose his temper and beat the man to a pulp.
Jord'n on the other hand would likely start a war. Miranda
knew she was the best person to help put a more human face on the
negotiations, and her own gifts were much more useful in the conference
room. After all when dealing with politics, it was always good to
have a telepath along. She just wasn't happy about this emergency
meeting. She had a very close friend back home who needed her help.
She knew that Adam and Jord'n would see to her and her family's
needs, but she felt she was letting her down. But K'hori had been
right. The needs of the colonyhadto
come first, and this
was the kind of threat they could not pass up.
The special UN envoy had requested their
presence for a meeting to try and avoid a diplomatic incident.
She looked deep into the man's eyes and let her mind scan his. At
first she felt the presence of an artificial mind shield. It had a
strange feel to it that vaguely reminded her of her brief contacts with
Sundancer back before he died defending Cape Kennedy. There were
gaps in its frequency however, and it wasn't difficult to attune her
mind to slip through those gaps.
The Saudi envoy was pushing this conflict.
Oddly enough, of all people the Chinese had threatened to veto it
in the Security Council. The general consensus was that the
Chinese were trying to make amends for trying nuke Ship when K'hori
first brought him back to Earth. But the Saudi's had something up
their sleeves and this man didn't know what it was.
"I am uncertain as to why you have
requested us to attend this meeting," K'hori said. "Illia is not part
of the United Nations, and with its present policies, it is not likely
to become a member." Miranda noticed that he'd at least given
over enough to human conventions to put on a long ceremonial style loin
cloth with an orchalchum belt. He carried his three pronged
harpoon with him as a badge of his office. Even mostly naked in
this room of diplomats and power suits, he commanded their attention.
"It is absolutely necessary for you to
come to chambers half naked?" one of the delegates asked sarcastically.
Miranda could tell the felt his own manhood threatened by the
presence of her husband. He was after all, a fine specimen of a
Shan defender. Standing almost two meters tall, and a body of
sculpted muscle that would make the most dedicated gym rat hang their
head in shame he cut a striking figure. Add in his long flowing
green hair held back in a pony-tail by a single circlet of orchalchum
and his water wings marking him as a defender and it was enough to make
most men shrink back and question their own masculinity.
"Not at all consul," K'hori reached for
his belt. "I can always appear fully naked if you prefer. I
am dressed as I am out deference for your own customs."
Randi reached down and touched his hand.
"Not yet, Love," she said.
"Illia is not part of the UN. Why
are you wasting our time again?" she turned and asked the panel of
diplomats. "Do you have something you wish to trade?"
"We are concerned about the massive
increases in the Shan population over the three years since you've
arrived. You have gone from an initial population of just over
three hundred to nearly half a million. Our intelligence suggest
that you are using your advanced teaching techniques to breed and train
an army of aggression," Andreii Belanov, the Russian consul said.
"We are a peaceful people, Consul," Randi
said. "Our population increase is a natural process of growing
the Shan culture. We expect the population to again double in
another twenty years, at which time we will found a second city further
out in the Atlantic."
"You are training your people in what many
of us consider combat and support skills," Belanov said.
"I don't understand your concerns Consul
Belanov," Randi said. "What combat and support skills?"
"You people are trained through some form
of electronic brainwashing that gives the skills to make emergency
combat repairs, you train your defenders in fleet tactics. You
have a fleet of armed submersible vessels. Even the United States
is starting to look askance at your build up."
"Consul Belanov, you served in your
country's submarine corps. You of all people understand the need
for all crew persons being able to repair as many systems as possible
aboard a submersible craft. The entire city of Illia is a
submersible craft." She stopped and thought, "Oh, never mind, you
are still having trouble keeping your submarine fleet seaworthy.
Perhaps its that lack of training that downed the Kursk."
Randi did not feel like playing nice.
"We are also concerned about the
corruption of your youth," Consul Balyuzi of Iran said.
"Corruption of our youth?" K'hori asked.
"There have been stories, videos, and
photographs appearing on the internet of your children and adults alike
engaging in what can only be described as pornographic orgies," Balyuzi
"I find the concerns of a country who
hangs its youth for the crime of loving their own sex to be laughable,"
K'hori said. "My people do what we have done since we left this
planet sixty five million years ago. What you describe as
pornographic is simply socialization for us. You wish to remain a
sexually repressed people, that is your business. But you will not
enforce it onto my people."
"You are corrupting your youth," Balyuzi
said. "Even the American Christians, even the Vatican have spoken out
"And you enslave your women, and marry off
little girls to old men. Our children play with children and our
adults play with adults," K'hori said. "I believe you have a
saying about attending the beam in your own eye before worrying about
the mote in the eye of another. Now your communique suggested a
diplomatic incident was brewing. What is the probem?"
Consul Martinez of Venezuela cleared
his throat and said, "It has been decided by the General Assembly that
unless Illia allows immediate access of UN observers and peace keepers,
turns over its biotechnology to this body for world distribution, and
allows free and open elections, then we will impose economic sanctions
against your government."
"Free and open elections?" Randi asked. "This coming from
the representative of a country who shut down the opposition media and
has apresident for life?
when has this body given a damn about free and open elections?
Surely not in Saudi Arabia, not in Cuba, you turned your backs on
student protests while Iran cracked down and murdered its youth; yet
you want to dictate to us, a people not even a member of your
organization what we should do? Go ahead and impose your
sanctions. You are not hurting our economy, only yours. We
have good trade relations with the North America, Oceania, Northern
Europe, and Britain, Japan, South Korea, and Israel, plus a host of
other countries through them. Your resolutions and sanctions mean
nothing to us."
"There is a military option as well," Martinez replied.
"What military option?" she asked. "The last time you sent
your replicants into battle, they came back to you in body bags, and
the top of a mountain was sheered off."
"Ilia does not have access to the nocturnals that the Americans
did. Shadu was winning that fight until night fell," Balyuzi said
"We don't need the nocturnals," she said. "We have the Defenders,
we have our defense force, and we have a series of space based lasers
that will burn your surface forces to the waterline. On top of
that, we have our our mutual protection pact with International
Alliance which includes Atlantis. Do you really want to pit your
stolen Meirrian technology which you still don't completely understand,
against the Defenders,andthe US Navy,andthe Atlantean Legions?"
"I think I have heard enough," K'horal's words were spoken at
normal volume, but his tone cut through the room with a simple
statement. He tapped the butt of his harpoon against the floor
and echoed across the room. Randi noticed that the marble under
it cracked. "This is not diplomacy. We have degenerated in making
threats and bragging of our military mights. Illia is not part of
this organization, so it is not bound by any of its resolutions.
You have pulled us away from important business to give us your
ultimatum. I tell you now that, we will not allow the armed
forces of any other nation or world body on our city. If you come
with us to trade, then we will do so, but do not deign to impose your
rules on us. We will be leaving now. " He turned his back
to the panel and walked out of
the room with Randi in tow.
When they cleared the main plaza and headed across Ford Drive and
then East River Drive to the stairs leading down to the river where
they parked the shuttle he asked, "What was all the threats about,
Randi? That is not your usual style of diplomacy. Are you
that concerned about your godson?"
"That wasn't diplomacy, K'hori love. That was the UN trying
to treat Illia like a recalcitrant child caught being naughty.
They weren't there to negotiate, they were there to bluster and
threaten, and they didn't' know why. Nobody in that room knew why they
were there," she said. "They'd been ordered to make those demands
but not told exactly why. Each and everyone of them carried some
kind of artificial mind shield, but it had so many holes in it, that
I'm sure they had no idea how to properly work the technology.
They were a front for something else, a stage show put on for the
general populace of trying to make a great show at diplomacy. They
weren't the true players in what ever game being played," Randi told
him as they entered the shuttle.
"Then to paraphrase a certain detective, "What game is afoot?"
She smiled over at him and said, "You had to go and actually read
Sherlock Holmes didn't you?" Turning her head back to the portal
and watching the water bubble and swirl up and and around it, she said,
"I don't know."
"Then why the sword shaking?" he asked.
"I think the term you mean is saber rattling," she replied.
"Because I wanted to remind them that they lost the last battle
they were in; big time. I want them to think long and hard about
the resources they'd lose if they tried that kind of stunt again."
"Hadㅜ't Shadu become a rogue agent by the time that fight
happened? Did not the UN sever ties with him before he attacked
the Greenbough farm?" K'hori asked.
"A diplomatic fiction to give them cover. Revealing that
they had a Nazi war criminal working for them was a diplomatic
disaster. I think now they're trying to flex their muscle; trying
to become relevant again."
"What of their threat?" K'hori asked.
"I don't think they want to lose that many soldiers. Illia
is not without its defenses, and I'd pit our defense force and
defenders against their replicants any day."
"I still would not wish to see valuable resources wasted on
waging an unnecessary war," K'hori said.
"Neither do I, Love. Neither do I. But to be honest,
unless they've got some kind of new weaponry we are unaware of, I don't
think it's likely," Randi said.
"I'll mention that possibility to Mother and see what she can
extrapolate," he replied. "It would be best to be prepared for
"I agree. I just wonder what's up with the whole psi-shield
"Probably nothing," K'hori said. "I think they are being
watched as Chris and Bonnie bounded into the
medical center all excited. She smiled up at George at their
enthusiasm, "Mom! They've got real live pliesiosaurs!"
"I had heard that," she said.
"Actually they aretrinacromerum," a
white haired youth said from behind them. Leighanne turned her
mind toward the child with them and was surprised to find a rather
well-developed set of mind shields there. "They are a family of
the plesiosauridea sub order."
"This is Dana," Chris said. "He's,...uh..., she's....,
uh...," her stepson looked to the youth, and Leighanne could see why he
was confused. The child was tall, lithe; almost painfully
beautiful, and obviously a a defender. But to confuse the issue
were the budding breasts and the long male sex organ in front of what
appeared to be an equally functional female organ. "I'm sorry,
Dana. English is woefully inadequate to describe you. This is our
hosts' kid," Chris finally said.
Leighanne was somewhat surprised with the
grace that Chris exhibited covering up his confusion of what pronouns
to use. Leighanne began to understand Miranda's own reticence to
speak of her child yesterday. "Hello, Dana," she said with a
smile. "I'm sure I'm mangling your name, because I get the
feeling that there's a sonar signature there I can't make. But
it's nice to meet you."
"Two actually," D'an'a said. "It's duh," there was a brief
pause where Leighanne felt a slight pressure in her ears, "aen,"
another pause and pressure, "uh." The child then smiled over at
her stepson and said, "And thank you for that wonderful compliment,
Chris. I find you and Bonnie both to be refreshingly
indescribable as well."
Leighanne watched both human children smile and blush deeply.
"Dana sounds just like Corey, doesn't he or she?" she said to
"You know, now that you mention it," Bonnie said. She
turned to the other child and added with a smile, "I think you and
Corey are going to be pretty good friends when he's better. You
both like a lot of precision in your language, but both of you are
"May I ask you a personal question?"
Leighanne asked the child.
"Of course, Mrs. Carstairs," D'an'a said.
"You are obviously both genders. Which pronoun do you
prefer to be used to describe you? We don't want to give offense."
The child smiled broadly at the direct question and Leighanne
couldn't help but be enchanted by way that simple courtesy lit up his
or her expression. "I identify equally with both genders, ma'am.
Growing up, most people only saw my male genitalia and treated
tended to treat me as a boy, but telepathy is a female gift among my
people, so with my powers and when my breasts began to develop it sort
of shifted over toward female. Personally, I switch back and
forth rather easily. Use whichever you find the most convenient."
Leighanne smiled and said, "Well with that killer smile, and long
hair, right now, I guess I see you more as a girl, so if you don't
mind, I'll use the female pronoun."
"You just want a daughter," George teased her.
"That too, and as soon as we get Corey taken care of you, can
work on giving me one," she replied.
"'Speaking of Corey, Dana tells us that Mother says you want to
talk to us about his treatment?"
Leighanne nodded and said, "Doctor Jale'n has given me some
options and I've decided on which one we should take. I do want
your input on some other things though."
Leighanne looked up at Jale'n and said, would you describe the
options you've given me, to my family please?"
The tall woman nodded and said, "The hypothesis that the reason
he was not healing was due to the presence of the AGG Virus was both
correct and an understatement. It was the presence of both the
virus and the gene combined with the genetic damage done by the intense
radiation of Neutron's attacks. Evidently he'd been exposed to
virus which was beginning to activate the gene and rewrite his genetic
code. When the attack occurred, it damaged that genetic code. It
set up an impasse in his body where the only thing that could be done
was maintain the status quo." She sighed and said, "However, we
know that the doctors in Miami were wrong about on thing.
Contrary to their belief, he was and still is in an agonizing
level of pain from the nerve damage. That is why his mind has
retreated on itself."
"Oh my God," Bonnie said horrified. "He's been in pain for
three years, and nobody has done anything for it?"
The doctor nodded her head and asked, "You were with him when the
attack occurred, do you have any idea where he might have been exposed
to the AGG virus?"
They shook their heads. "No, the only place he was that we
didn't go, that we couldn't go, was that Quantum flew him to the
Doctor Jale'n nodded and said, "That might explain it."
"What are you doing for the pain now?" Chris asked.
"We've installed a nerve block for the pain receptors to his
brain. It is a temporary measure."
"What are the options you were talking about?" Chris asked
suddenly very serious.
"The damage is too severe for us to be able to rebuild his body
as it is. What we would get would simply be a mass of stem cells
with no code on what to become. We could do one of two things.
We could brain tape his mind now, let this body die, and grow him
a new one cloned from hair follicles your mother has from before he was
injured, and tape the memories into it."
"But that means that the Corey we know would be dead. He
would simply be a copy," Bonnie said.
The woman nodded. "He wouldn't know the difference, but you
would know that therewas a difference."
What's the other option?" Chris asked determined.
Leighanne could sense in him that he'd rejected the first option
as quickly as she had. The idea of letting Corey die was just not
an option as far as he was concerned, and he was willing to argue God
into a corner about it.
"We could give that mass of stem cells a template to follow."
"From his genetic code in that hair sample?" Chris asked.
"No," Jale'n shook her head saying. "The AGG-virus is still
active as is his own gene. It would overwhelm that genetic code
and we'd be back where we started."
"Then what?" Bonnie asked.
"First Defender genes," D'an'a said.
Jale'n nodded. "Yes. We can piggy-back the code from
the hair follicles onto First Defender genetic samples. But to do
that we need your father's authorization."
"What is First Defender genes?" Bonnie asked. "I mean
what's the difference between First Defender and just defender genes?"
"First Defender genes are genetic material from the
first nine Defenders that appeared among the Shan seven thousand years
before my dad left Earth to find a new colony world. Before they
appeared, the Shan were on the way to mass extinction. The
predator-filled shallow seas were barely a refuge for our people from
the predator-filled land. Baseline Shan are not that different
from baseline humans. They can breathe water, and have sonar, and
they can withstand great pressure and cold, but they are no stronger,
no more durable than an average human. We were dying as a species
until my dad and the other eight First Defenders showed up."
"Showed up?" Chris asked.
"Were born, all but dad managed to kill their mothers in child
birth. Giving birth to a Defender can be difficult for a baseline
Shan or even human for that matter. We are quite strong even as
infants. First Defender genetics are very powerful. It is
one of the reasons that more than one defender in a pod is usually
discouraged. The genetics overwhelm even the baseline Shan and
create defender children. If only one parent is a defender, we
still get a dose of two baseline to one defender set of chromosomes.
That splits the defender influence down enough so that only half
of all children born in a pod with a single defender parent are
"But two of your parents are defenders," Chris said.
D'an'a nodded and said, "Yes, but there are extenuating
circumstances there that have to do with my dad's position among our
"Rank hath it's privileges?" George said.
"Not quite, Mr. Carstairs," D'an'a replied. "My dad watched
his brother and sister defenders kill each other over mates because
they had no mind bond with their parents. The reason that
telepathy is considered a female trait is because the marriage bond
isn't forged until the mother gives birth to their first child.
That bond is forged around the child, and since their mothers
died, the bond connecting them to their pod was never formed.
They had no sense of belonging to a family unit until it was too
late. My Dad was left picking up the pieces of the second
generation, and forging what we call the Defender Code into them."
"He'd been given an ultimatum by the Illian, the old government.
Get the defenders under control, or all would be executed as a
danger to the entire species. He spent seven thousand years
forging the defenders into what we are today, never taking a mate, and
never podding. When he and Mom were willing to forge a pod with
two transhumans, nobody was willing to protest. They were honestly glad
to grant him a bit of happiness. I can't say I can argue with the
results so far."
"What does all this mean for our Corey?" Chris said.
"It means that he will become a First Defender, with parts of his
old genetic code piggy backed onto it. It will also mean that
whatever transhuman gene he carried will be expressed." She sighed and
said, "It also will affect his sexuality."
"You mean he'll like girls?" Bonnie asked.
She nodded, "Most probably, but I know how humans are about this
particular issue. He'll be biologically and psychologically bisexual."
Leighanne watched Bonnie and Chris exchange glances, "Dr. Jale'n.
Corey was already gay. He told us that before he was injured."
"He told you?" Leighanne asked. She knew of her son's
sexual orientation simply because she was a telepath and his mother.
She didn't know that he'd actually started to come out to his
Both nodded and Chris said, "It was right before Bonnie and I got
serious. He wanted to let me know that he didn't object and why."
"That could give us an clue as to what his AG gene was then,"
Jale'n said. "Doctor Green's work on transhumans pretty much
confirmed that the transhuman gene for durability and strength was
linked to same-sex attractions in males."
"So he'll get the defender gene plus a dose of transhuman
strength and durability?" Bonnie asked.
Jale'n nodded, "Most likely. That is why we are suggesting adding
some autonomic nervous system algorithms to his subconscious via brain
taping so that he can use his enhanced senses, sonar, and hydro-genesis
instinctively. He hasn't had a lifetime to grow up using sonar,
hydro-genesis, the ability to speak underwater, and the strength to
pull a submarine off the ocean floor. We want to avoid any
accidents. We are also going to add some general knowledge to make up
for the fact that he's lost two years of school while in that coma.
The regrowth period will take almost a month and we have
considerable amount of time to work with what is basically a brain that
will be geared toward learning a wide open knowledge set."
"I've made a request to give him some advanced skill sets.
I think that any kid that has had to miss two years of his life
in a painful coma deserves some kind of compensation," Leighanne said
quite fiercely. "I know he had an avid interest in marine
biology. I think a Shan defender would make an outstanding marine
"Don't forget about his music," Bonnie said. "I can't say I
care too much for his taste in it, but it is important to him."
Leighanne smiled. She'd not considered her son's rather odd
taste in music for a pre-teen. He'd sit for hours strumming his guitar
or playing the piano to some very old and twangy country and western
tunes. He had a natural gift for music, but she'd always wished
that he'd picked a different genre. But she realized that right
now she'd give her right arm to hear him sit and singWhispering
Pinesin that soft mournful voice of
his. "I don't know if the Shan have a musical skill brain taped."
"Actually, we do," D'an'a said. "My mother has quite a few
musician friends, and some of them volunteered for the first human
tapings to find out how effective it is. I'm afraid their
repertoire is limited to what people call honkey-tonk. Mother has
horrible taste in music."
"Sounds like Corey," Chris said.
"But Corey could already play the guitar and piano," Chris said.
What would this do?
"Widen his range of instruments mainly."
"Okay," we'll add those.
It went on like that for quite a while. Leighanne knew that
he son's life was going to get much harder when he came out of that
birthing chamber. He would stand out among humans in ways that
few transhumans did. He'd never be able to maintain a secret
identity with the chromatic hair and water wings, so she decided to
give him as many advantages to counter act it as she could. In
the end, they actually added very few things. Increase his scientific
and musical knowledge, give him a general understanding of Shan biology
and how to use his gifts, and modified version of the Defender Code.
She also decided to add the full range of the Shan language set.
Being able to speak multiple languages was always an advantage
these days. The real problem was that she was still going to have
a ten year old boy in a thirteen year old's body. But he at least
would still be her baby.
George finally asked, "How does brain taping a skill set work
with base-line humans, and what about certain gene splices?"
"We're still working on that," Jale'n said. "We've had some
success, but it's still very much in the experimental stage. It
requires opening the brain's neuro-pathways up in ways that leave
humans very vulnerable to suggestion at this point for several months.
As for the gene-splicing, we're currently working on a procedure
to grant humans the ability to breathe underwater. Right now it
takes a major rewrite of your gene code that computer models suggest
would have some undesirable side effects."
"Side effects?" George asked. "What kind of side effects?"
"Loss of lung capacity on land, a hardening of the dermis and
epidermis. We want to grant you the ability to enter our world,
not turn you into fish," Jale'n said.
"If possible, I'd like to be kept appraised of your work.
It would be something I'd be very much interested in," George
"You and about half the navies of the world," Jale'n said.
"Well, I'm interested in it for more personal reasons. If
my son going is a defender, I'd like to be able share his new world
Jale'n smiled and said, "I'll make sure you get regular updates
then Mr. Carstairs."
The fiery pain
ended abruptly. His body no longer felt as
if he were melting. Now he felt nothing. He briefly
wondered,Am I dead?No,
think so. He could still detect his mother's mind touch, and surely if
he were dead, that would be gone too.
Another mind began to touch his. It wasn't the soft gentle
reminder from his mother that he was not alone- the reminder that he
couldn't answer. It was something different, something alien, but
not cold. Somehow it too was caring, like a mother. It began to
fill his mind with information. Information about how to use
parts of his body that he never knew he had; information about the
seas, about science, math, technology, music, language. He
imagined his mind a great sponge soaking up more and more data, asking
for yet more.
He felt a link
forge between himself and his other Mother, for
that was her name: Mother.
:You are not
dead little one. You are healing. Your mother has brought
you to me to make you whole again.:
:Who are you?:he asked.
:I am Mother, the electronic personality
of the Shan colony.:
:You mean the aquatics who came from the
:Yes, that is us.:
:What happened to me? Why was I hurting? Why can't I
feel my body now?:
:You were injured saving an old man.:
remembered! It was a cool December day in Birmingham. He'd
gone into the city to see the transhumans from the UN the mayor had
invited as a peace gesture. Actually, he just wanted to get out
of Chris' aunt's house, and knew that Bonnie and Chris would appreciate
the time alone. He tried not to think about about that; of giving
up what he knew he couldn't have.
He'd used the big celebration as an excuse to get away from them,
hopefully to clear his head. There had been a huge pavilion set
up downtown next to the library, and he'd taken a bus there. It
wasn't every day that you got to see genuine transhumans, active
transhumans up close. Yes, he knew about his mother, but this was
different. These guys had costumes and everything.
The Mayor had announced that he was giving UNIPACT Beta the
key to the city. He was authorizing them to help deal with the crime
problem. Some people were saying that was a code word for
bringing down Night Angel. When Silver Lightning told the crowd
that his team was not only helping, but that they were taking over the
city, they'd been stunned. He declared martial law in the name of
the UN and began reading off a list of things that were and were not
allowed. Then the soldiers began pouring out of the buildings,
and planes suddenly appeared overhead.
People began to run but the soldiers had already surrounded them.
One of the people in the crowd had pulled a gun and fired at Silver
Lightning, and then the soldiers opened up on the crowd. He'd
felt himself pulled along by the surge and tried to find away to get
away from the crush of bodies. He heard the sounds of high energy
bolts ripping through the air and knew things had gone from bad to
worse. Storm Force showed up and the fight got really nasty.
There was an old man trying to get away too. Corey grabbed
his hand, and tried to pull him to safety; tried to get them out of the
crush of bodies. Suddenly the crowd stopped and everyone looked
up. Above them Razorwing and Neutron were grappling. Corey
and the old man stopped to watch. It was a stupid thing to do, it
was a kid thing to do. He should have kept going, trying to find
a way out the crowd but he didn't. They should have ran, but they
didn't. Nobody in the crowd did. Two transhumans were
fighting less than a hundred feet above them. Neutron in his
electric blue and black costume was trying to twist his way out of
Razorwing's grip. The golden-winged hero had him in an aerial
full-nelson, his metallic wings sending blasts of cold December air
down on top of them.
Suddenly Neutron slammed both elbows back into the sides of
the blond hero's head, and tossed Razorwing toward the ground,
following it with an energy bolt. The hero didn't dodge, he
couldn't he was already unconscious. Neutron simply missed.
It was a wild shot, and it went wide. Corey knew were it
was going to hit before it ever left the UN transhuman's fists.
Without thinking he yanked the old man out of the way and behind
Then the fire hit him. He screamed in pain as every cell in his
body seemed to suddenly be ablaze. He couldn't think, he couldn't
move, he couldn't run. Some white hot energy poured through his
body setting every nerve on fire. He blacked out, but the pain
kept coming. He curled into himself as his skin melted away, as
his muscles caramelized.
You were very brave that day,:the voice told him.
:I was very stupid that day.:
:Do you regret your actions?:
:No, only that I didn't think of something smarter to do, like
dive at him. I was afraid of hurting him though.:
:Your first instincts were to protect those who couldn't protect
themselves, little one,:the voice said.:That
is never stupid. Your tactics were not well-chosen, but you were
not a warrior; not a defender:
:What's happening to me? Why can't I feel my body?:
:The next several weeks are going to be very unpleasant for your
body. We're having to construct you a new one. That will
take a lot of energy, and it will be very unpleasant. I have
disconnected your brain's ability to feel your body for that time.:
:I read somewhere that sensory deprivation was insanity inducing:he
:That is why I am using this time to
:Teach me what?:
:How to use your new body. How to use your new abilities.
I'm teaching you new things about your world, new languages, new
skills. Your mother thought it was a good idea.:
:Can I pick some of what I learn?:
:Of course, what would you like to learn?:
:Can you teach me how to fight? How to make sure that if I
never need to protect someone again, I won't get myself hurt?:
:Of course little one. I will include that in your
:Programming? That suggests I don't have a choice.:
:You always will have a choice. This is just a knowledge
transfer. I am not allowed, nor would I insert anything that
would change your personality. It is too precious as it is.:
:Okay. Just so you don't change who I am.:
:There will be some changes to
who you are.:
:What do you mean?:
:We can't give you back your original body. The radiation
damage destroyed a great deal of your genetic code.:
:Who's body are you giving me?:he
:It will be your own. It will simply have Shan defender
characteristics as well, Commander K'horal's characteristics
:You mean all muscular, with the water wings, the long green hair
and hung like a horse?:
:Hung like a horse?:
:You know what I mean.:
:Yes it will be muscular, yes you will have water wings, and yes
you will be able to breathe under water.:
:And the other?:
:I believe you will be more than adequately endowed .:
:But inside, I'll still be me, right?:
You already had the Atlantean Gifted Gene for durability,
strength and regeneration. Those will be amplified by your Shan
characteristics. Your bones will be cartilage like a Shan and you
will have the sonar apparatus of a Shan located in your chest and your
throat. You will still have your human face, your human memories,
and your human tastes- for the most part.:
:For the most part?:
:There is a question as to whether or not it will affect your
sexuality. Your mother and friends tell me that you already
preferred your own gender. I could have told them that from looking at
your gene code. But you will also probably develop a reaction to
females as well.:
:So I will basically be a Shan defender's body with my mind stuck
:That is fairly close. You still carry several human
qualities too though. The mind shields you developed over the
years from close contact with your mother will still be there. I
cannot change the shape of your brain without changing who you are, and
that is something we wanted to avoid. Unlike most humans, you
will not be susceptible to suggestion when coming out of this procedure
:Why is that?:
:Because of those mind shields, and because of your experiences.
You have a very strong will, little one. Stronger than any
human I have ever heard of, stronger than even Commander K'horal.
You have fought to live, to maintain who you are, through three
years of agonizing pain. Even without those shields, few people would
ever be able to dominate your will. You will be my finest
creation, little one. Make your mother's proud.:
had been a long month. Although she had immensely enjoyed the
time with Leighanne as her guest, Miranda would be both sad and glad to
see her return to her own home. George and the children had left
their quarters for their home in Miami about a week after they arrived.
There was really nothing they could do for Corey in the interim
before he came out of the chamber, and George did have a business to
Miranda was glad to see that Leighanne and D'an'a were bonding in
a way she had not expected. Her child seemed to find a third
mother in the form of Leighanne, and the two would sit and talk quietly
for hours. Miranda got the feeling that perhaps D'an'a was asking
her old friend for advice that might have been embarrassing to inquire
of either her or Jord'n. She was very aware of what D'an'a
considered to be her shameful secret- that she had not yet engaged in
any of the games of pin-to-the-bottom with her age-mates; and she knew
She'd heard several of the nasty thoughts among some of the Shan.
D'an'a's not true Shan; her transhuman parents were the reason
she was 'avad'a- a hermaphrodite. They seemed to forget that the
condition was at least common enough to have a word for it their
language. She also knew that D'an'a had heard the same thoughts.
She'd chosen not to get involved with people who only were
willing to play on a dare, or who were looking for some kind of
bragging rights because of her dad. It was sobering to realize
that even though she and Adam had been accepted by their pod-mates'
people, that even the Shan could hold prejudices.
There was little she or any of her pod-mates could do to help
their child through this difficult time. They were there to
support her, to help her when she needed it, but they knew she really
had to find her own currents to follow. It seemed that Leighanne
was beacon for the young defender- someone D'an'a could turn to and ask
those difficult questions. D'an'a too was a source of strength
for Leighanne. She knew of her old friend's desire for another
child- a daughter, and D'an'a was filling a surrogate role for in that
way for a while.
Miranda was of course also busy with the business of helping run
the colony. Mother had speculated on what kind of technology the
UN may have either developed or recovered from the several downed
Meirrian space craft they'd managed to get their hands over the last
few decades. She suggested that they may have somehow gotten
their hands on the psi-shield technology from some of the equipment
that they'd recovered when they killed Sundancer.
From what she understood, the former Gemcorpsman had been
stripped of his status and his powers for the crime of being a
replicant. It seemed the Meirrians were very prejudiced against their
genetic creations- something she was afraid would eventually bring them
into conflict with the Shan. When it was discovered that the
former hero, their greatest hero was a cross-gender clone, they'd acted
brutally and swiftly. They removed his powers, and his status and left
him on the planet with his family.
But you can't keep a hero down, and he'd simply adapted available
technology to continue to good fight. He'd met his end three
months before the Shan arrived in a battle to defend Cape Kennedy from
UNIPACT Prime. The problem was when their transhuman operative
Psyche tried to use the technology, it self-destructed on her, killing
about four of their operatives.
Mother thought that they may have adapted the shards of his
psi-amplifying crystals into the mind shields they were using.
Those crystals were supposed to be attuned to a specific person,
and that might explain the holes in them. Finally, she had to go
to the Atlanteans to find out anything. According to Cyberstar,
they really were based on Meirrian technology, but he didn't know where
they were getting them. He also said that they couldn't stop a
Class fifteen or above telepath, or a Class ten or above Mideanite
telepath. She smiled at the thought of what her old colleagues,
Midean Knight and Dreamweaver would have done to those things.
Mother thought they might be trying to develop psi-technology to
use. They'd used telepaths in the past. If it hadn't been
for Night Angel, Runeclaw, and Avalon, the world would have never known
that Shadu used telepaths to coerce the affirmative vote on Resolution
1666 back in the nineties that cost Adam his career in the Navy.
Things had been quiet for the most part on that front.
Nothing else had come of their threats for sanctions, and the
best anyone could tell, they weren't massing a fleet to try and take
the city. That was the reason she'd begun to relax and actually
enjoy spending time with Leighanne. She was rather pleasantly
surprised when about two weeks into her stay,
after George and the
children had left, she exited her quarters nude.
thought I'd see how it felt to go native," she blushed deeply at her
"You'll be fine. Just remember though. You still
can't breathe water," D'an'a said.
Miranda turned to her child and asked, "Did you have anything to
do with this?"
D'an'a just shrugged and said, "She asked me what I thought, and
I told her I thought it would be a good idea."
"My major concern, was Chris and Bonnie," Leighanne said.
"I didn't want to give them the wrong idea."
D'an'a gave her a strange look and asked, "You are aware that
those two are already playing their own version of pin to the bottom,
"D'an'a! You aren't supposed to rat on your friends like
that," Miranda scolded her daughter.
"Rat?" D'an'a asked. "A small pest in the rodent family?"
Then as if remembering the slang meaning of the term she asked,
"Are they ashamed of each other, or that they care enough to want to
please each other that way?"
"No, they aren't," Leighanne said. "And she's not ratting.
I already knew. There was just too much detail in Chris' mind
about Bonnie's body for it to be anything else."
"Why were you concerned about them?" Randi asked.
Leighanne shrugged, "I may have known that they are having sex, I
just didn't want to them to think I was giving them permission.
You know how our culture is; nudity is heavily tied to sex."
thought you wore clothes because you got cold easily. Chris was
always complaining about not wanting to get into the cold water naked,"
"That has more to do with shrinkage," Leighanne said with a smile.
"Shrinkage?" D'an'a asked.
"Human males are very much concerned about comparisons of their
manhood to each other. Cold tends to cause the tissues in their
penises to contract making them appear to be smaller."
D'an'a looked down at his own penis which hung long and low and
said, "That's not a concern for Shan males. Physical activity
which may require blood somewhere else may have an effect, but not
cold." He seemed to look confused, "I have never noticed that
much a difference in father in the cold water?"
"Your father is one of the few exceptions to the rule. Besides,
Adam is a transhuman," Miranda told D'an'a. Not even the cold of
the trenches affects him."
D'an'a nodded and said, "Ah."
"How do you know which parent she's talking about when she says
father?" Leighanne asked. "Telepathy?"
Miranda chuckled and said, "No, and it's not a sonar signal
either. Haven't you noticed? K'horal is Dad, and Adam is
Father. I'm Mother, and Jord'n is Mom."
Leighanne grinned and said, "Leave it to me to miss something
that simple." She came to the bar and sat down looking around.
"I really wish I could experience your life underwater. I
mean I wish that my presence here didn't keep you from flooding the
place and living the way you normally do."
"It's not that much of a change," D'an'a said. "Mother
drains the apartment about twice a week anyway."
"Really?" Leighanne asked. "Why?"
"Spaghetti night!" D'an'a said.
"My family loves human food. Neither K'hori nor Jord'n are
ever late on spaghetti nights," Miranda told them. "Your presence
here means that I"m cooking more human foods, so that more than makes
up for any inconvenience not having the place full of water might
"I'm at least glad there is an upside to it," Leighanne said.
told you that you were trouble girl, and because you are trouble is why
I love you," Miranda said.
Leighanne was excited. Corey was coming out of the chamber today.
Everything that Doctor Jale'n and Mother was telling her was that
his body and mind had accepted the treatments quite well. About a
week ago, Mother had begun to remove the blocks on his pain receptors.
She reported at first there had been some discomfort as his brain
adjusted to receiving stimuli again. She said that there may
always be some ghost pain, but it shouldn't be severe, and it shouldn't
be constant- more like a leg that ached in bad weather. That was
something George could understand.
Evidently, during that week, his body was put through a rigorous
series of exercises to reconnect the neural pathways for control so
that he'd be able to walk and move about without pain when he came out.
He was still going to have to go through a period of
readjustment. Although he had the skill sets for controlling his
body, he still had no practical experience. That was going to be
D'an'a's job- to put him through his paces and get him up to speed.
Over the last week, she'd been able to slowly reconnect with his
mind- when Mother wasn't in the process of running teaching tapes that
is. It wasn't exactly conversations as much as it was simply
feeling that he was doing okay, letting him know that she was there,
and that all was well or was going to be well. She'd almost cried
when she went to touch his mind yesterday to find it whole and
dreaming. Of course she didn't think she'd tell Commander
K'horal what he was dreaming about. She did hope that he'd
eventually pick someone a little closer to his age and that wasn't
Last night, the rest of the family had flown in, and they'd
discussed what would happen today. It was then that K'hori had let it
slip that Leighanne had gone native for the past three weeks.
They didn't want to give Corey too many shocks when he awoke, so
they decided it was best not that they all wore their clothes today.
Of course there were clothes and then there were clothes. They'd
all opted for summer shorts and tank or halter tops, and no shoes.
The living floors of the city were so warm and soft that shoes
seemed like a sin.
Leighanne turned to K'hori and said, "I do want to thank you for
authorizing the use of First Defender-yourgenetics
for this, K'horal." She sent a little mental squirt of the sonar
signal in his name to him.
looked at her in surprise and then smiled broadly. "I see you
have picked up my wife's trick of simulating the sonar aspects of our
language with your telepathy. And I am pleased to have been of
help." He winked at her and said, "You realize that in some ways,
this makes your son,our son."
She nodded to him and said, "Yeah, I'd been thinking about that.
He does have a certain admiration for you. I think he'll be
pleased with the connection."
"Really, I was unaware that he even knew I existed," K'horal said.
"Oh yeah, he stayed glued to the television set when they first
started covering the initial fist-contact with you. For a while,
he would read everything that got released from the Ship and then from
the city," Bonnie said. Leighanne noted that she at least had the
good grace not to mention the school-boy crush they all knew her son
had on the big man.
"Then I hope not to disappoint him," K'horal said.
"Oh, I think....," suddenly Bonnie stepped on Chris' foot
interrupting his comment.
"What?" he asked. "I was just going to say that Corey had a
"Keep it to yourself, Chris, or so help me I'll twist something
you may want to use later off," she said both quietly and menacingly.
"Okay, okay," Chris said looking somewhat hurt.
Leighanne watched George lean in and whisper something to his
son. Suddenly he turned beet red, nodded and swallowed.
Suddenly Leighanne detected her son's mind in distress. I'm
:You are not drowning,
calm down, Corey,:she sent to him mentally.
Suddenly the whole chamber rocked and the door bowed outward.
not not drowning Corey,:she reiterated strongly, but felt her
thought slide off his shields.
"Mom, I even heard that," Chris said from where he was standing.
He turned to George,
"Dad can we get this thing open?"
"He's jammed the aperture!" Jale'n said. "He
panicking. Mother can you do anything to calm him down."
"When the aperture jammed the chamber went offline," Mother said.
"Don't worry, the chambers are designed to withstand the full
strength of a defender," Miranda said.
"I'm not worried about the chamber, I'm worried about him hurting
himself," Jale'n said.
Suddenly small cracks began to appear in the formerly unblemished
metal. Water began to leak from them as the two foot-shaped forms
began to appear in the hull. The metal began to scream.
YOUR NOT DROWNING!!!:Leighanne
mentally shouted. The metal ceased to groan.
"Mom?" For the first time in three years, Leighanne heard her
son's voice. "Where am I?"
"You're okay, baby," she leaned against the metal and said.
"You're in a Shan healing chamber."
"It wasn't a dream?"
"No honey, it wasn't a dream."
"The mechanism is jammed," Mother said. "He's warped the
metal to the point that it won't open," Leighanne could have sworn she
heard the hint of pride in the electronic personality's voice.
"Help me, D'an'a," Khoral said as he went to one side of the
chamber and began to pry his fingers under the metal.
D'an'a nodded and moved to the other side, and sank her fingers
in there. "I'm ready."
K'horal nodded to her and they began to pull in opposite
directions. The metal groaned and began to warp further.
Water began to pour out of the widening hole. Suddenly two
sets of webbed fingers slid through the hole and pull the metal apart.
Itl began to rip and tear and water gushed out.
Leighanne noticed a slight musty scent beginning to fill the air.
She felt her heart begin to race, her skin became flushed, and
she began to breathe faster. She looked around and noticed the
same thing happening to everyone in the room. Poor George and
Chris suddenly had tents in the front of their shorts, and she could
see Bonnie's nipples harden under the fabric of her halter top.
It was as if the room suddenly was too hot, and her own reactions
With a sudden surge of strength the chamber violently ripped wide
open and her son stumbled out into D'an'a's arms. She could
still see the face that she knew was her son's but it was accented by
shan defender traits: long green hair, lavender eyes, and water wings.
Her eyes kept flitting across his body admiringly, and she found
herself staring at him, and thinking thoughts that no mother should
have about her son.
Suddenly Miranda was pulling her and Bonnie out of the room.
Adam had George and Chris and was pulling them along behind.
"We'd better wait outside while they clean up," Miranda said. Looking
over to her old friend, she could see where her nostrils
were flared and her pupils were wide.
"What's happening to us?" Leighanne asked.
Miranda smiled, and said, "I guess we forgot to warn you about
that. It's the pheromones that defenders generate when they use
their powers. We just got a triple dose of it."
"Huh?" Leighanne asked through a fog of lust and desire.
Miranda shook her and asked, "Look, are you going to be all right
or am I going to have to lock you in a room with George for a while?"
"George?" suddenly the image of her husband came to mind and she
felt herself having very intimate memories of last night in their bed.
"Ah shit," Adam said carrying Chris and Bonnie down the hall one
tucked under each arm.
"Where's he taking them?" Leighanne asked.
"Back to the apartment," Miranda said.
Leighanne felt her head start to clear. She took a deep
breath and looked over to where George was leaning against the wall
trying to get his breath.
"What just happened?" she asked.
Miranda smiled and said, "You know, you're cute when you're
"It's the pheromones," Miranda said. "Whenever defenders
exert themselves they generate pheromones that both sexes find almost
intoxicatingly arousing. It's nature's way of making sure their
genes get back into the gene pool. We all just got a triple dose
of it from K'hori, D'an'a, and Corey."
"Miranda, I had thoughts..., uh never mind what I had thoughts
about. Is this going to be a regular problem?"
know exactly what you had thoughts about, Leighanne. It's normal
under these circumstances. But you're a big girl and you can
control your urges. That's what you've got George for. You'll get
accustomed to it before long. After a while, you'll build up a
"Why did Adam take Chris and Bonnie back to the apartment?"
"To give them something to drink and then lock them in one of
their rooms," she said.
"That is unless you want your step son to
have one of the worst cases of blue-balls in his life. You did
say that Bonnie was on birth control didn't you?"
Leighanne nodded, "Yeah, her mom and I decided it was best to put
her on the shot."
"Good," Miranda said.
"When can I see Corey?" Leighanne asked.
"In about an hour I should think," Mother suddenly said.
"Give him a chance to recover and clean up. Don't worry, I
won't let anything happen to your son. K'hori has left the
medical center. D'an'a is assisting Corey. I've sealed off
the room until they are ready."
D'an'a's caught the boy who'd fallen into his arms and held him
while Corey tried to get his legs to work. The touch of Corey's
skin sent an electric shock through him, and he felt his own heart
begin to beat faster as he flashed hot. He looked over into the
deep lavender eyes thought, He
has nice eyes..
He felt Corey pull himself up along his body, and
the two stood there holding each other.
He felt his sex begin to
rise between them, and the other boy's was pressing hard under his
balls and lay along the slit of D'an'a's vagina.
Corey pulled back and blushed deeply as he said, "Uh I'm Corey."
"Uh, I'm D'an'a," he replied, but neither seemed to release the
Because he couldn't think of anything better to do, he leaned
over and kissed Corey. The newcomer's lips were soft and wet, and
D'an'a could feel the beating of both of their hearts behind their
chests. He felt a moistness between his legs and realized that
all he had to do was raise up on his toes, and Corey would slip inside
"Wait a minute!" Corey pulled back for a second.
let go of D'an'a and shook his head. "Look, I'm sure you're a
nice guy and all, but I just learned you name. This is way too
fast." He bent over double as if he was trying to catch his
breath. Suddenly he blushed even deeper and said, "I'm confused here.
"What?" D'an'a asked as the enormity of what almost happened just
hit him. This boy shared a quarter of his genetic code. He
was as close to a brother as D'an'a had right now- literally.
Corey looked down and seemed to realize that they were both
standing naked and erect.
D'an'a, D'an'a noted that he included the correct sonar signal in the
name. "I'm Corey."
"Is that along the lines of You Jane me Tarzan?" D'an'a asked
with a smile.
"Nah, that would make Chris Cheetah." Both boys began to
laugh. "Why are we standing here naked?" Corey asked.
"Because you just came out of the healing pod and kind of freaked
out, and since I'm Shan
I go naked most of the time," D'an'a said.
"Dad and I had to break you out after you jammed to door.
That set off a series of pheromones, and Mother and Father
cleared the room so that we wouldn't all end up in a very socially
"We generated pheromones and they got horny?" Corey asked.
"Not just them," D'an'a pointed to Corey's erection and then his
"Why do I get the feeling that it was good thing we stopped when
we did?" Corey asked.
"Because I just realized that we're technically brothers." D'an'a
haven't the first time," D'an'a said.
"Haha, cute," Corey replied. "I have a little brother?"
"Not exactly," Mother suddenly broke into the conversation.
"It was D'an'a's father's genes we used to repair yours, Corey.
You share approximately tweny-five percent of the same genetic
structure. And technically D'an'a is as much your sister as she
is your brother."
"How can we share twenty-five percent?" Corey asked.
"Because Shan males only contribute twenty-five percent each to
the genetic code of offspring," Mother said.
"Okay, I think I understand," Corey said. "So what you are saying
is I was about to do the naked nasty with my brother."
"Or sister, but essentially yes," D'an'a said.
"Can I ask another question?"
"Why do you have boobs? Not that I'm criticizing, mind you.
They're very attractive."
"Long story. I have a vagina too."
"Cool," Corey said. "Now the question is why are we
standing here alone?"
"Easier to clear the room and not have anyone affected in an
embarrassing manner by the pheromones. I believe your mother and
stepfather are outside with my mothers, and Doctor Jale'n. My Dad
has left to clean up before joining them. My father has taken
your step brother and his girlfriend back to one of the quarters so
they can have a bit of privacy."
think you called it the naked nasty," D'an'a said. Although I don't
think it's all that dirty.
"Just a term."
Corey looked down and seemed to study his body. He held out
his hands and turned them over studying them. He then looked at
the wings of flesh that connected the backs of his arms to a line up
his spine. He reached out run a finger along the little half ring
of an opening in the wings under his arm pit. "I wouldn't do that
right here if I were you," D'an'a tried to warn him.
She watched him suddenly tremble and the softening erection
sitting below a sparse crop of blue-green curls suddenly rose at his
crotch again. "Oh," he said with a look of surprise.
"That's a pretty intense erogenous zone for us," D'an'a told him.
"Mind if I ask you a question?"
"Sure?" Corey said suddenly blushing deeply.
"Why can't I read your mind?"
didn't know Shan could read minds," Corey said.
"Most can't. I inherited it from my mother. She's a
"Oh," Corey said sitting down. "I don't know. Mother
said that I had a strong will and that I had inherited some shields
from my mother. Maybe that's why."
"You know, Corey. I really think you're probably a nice
guy, but right now I really wish you weren't my brother."
Corey looked back over at him, and grinned, before saying, "Don't
take this wrong, but so do I."
"Then take him out to the playground and both of you find a
playmate or two," Mother said exasperatedly.
"Nah, I don't think he's quite ready for Shan juvenile politics
quite yet," D'an'a said hoping the bitterness in her voice didn't show.
take it there's more to it than just a quick game of I'll show mine if
you show me yours," Corey said.
D'an'a sighed. "Let's just say, that reading minds can
sometimes be more trouble than it's worth." She looked him up and down.
"I can see my dad in you. That means quite a few kids out
there would pin you to bottom in heart beat."
don't pin that easily," Corey said.
"Neither do I," D'an'a said bitterly. "And that's the
problem. If I didn't read their minds, I wouldn't know what they
were thinking about me, and could just enjoy it."
"So you find me attractive because you can't read my mind?" he
"In a way. But you're attractive anyway. Besides, you
don't have the cultural bias that most of my age-mates have."
"Because you're 'avad'a?" Corey asked.
She looked at him in surprise, "You can speak Shan?"
"It was one of the languages Mother programmed me with. And
you didn't answer my question."
"For some of them. Others think that it would be a neat to
be able to say that they were my father's child's first playmate.
Now they're starting to think that since I won't play with them,
that I think I'm better than they are. It's stupid cycle that's
starting to drive me insane. I just want to find someone to play
with, who'll accept me for who I am."
Corey chuckled, "You know I'm probably going to have about the
same problems when I get home. There's going to be no hiding what
I've become. That means that I'm going to catch more grief now
"You caught grief before?" she asked him. Suddenly she realized
that she was reacting to
Corey differently. She knew from talking
to Bonnie and Chris that Corey's primary attraction was to males, but
almost as soon as they broke their kiss she started reacting to him as
"Corey," Mother said. "I'm going to flood the room and then
drain it again to remove the pheromones. Are you going to panic
again if you are submerged?"
don't think so Mother," he told her. "I panicked because I was in
a strange environment.
I think I would like to see what it is
like to try and breathe underwater."
"Very well," Mother said.
"Don't," D'an'a told him.
"Don't try to breathe under water. In the water you
respirate through your skin. There is a valve in the back of your
throat that closes your lungs off to the water. It only opens to
expel air so you can speak."
"Oh," Corey said as if suddenly remembering something. "That was
why I panicked. I knew I was supposed to be able to breathe the
water, but I couldn't get any of it into my lungs."
The water began to rise around them slowly and the damaged
healing chamber melted into the floor. She looked over at him
enjoying the view. He was an attractive boy, and he had an
innocence about him that added to his charm. As the water reached
their knees, she noticed him begin to look around the room. He
was a little wide-eyed but he was fighting it. "Just relax.
Your body has already begun to take in oxygen from the water."
"How do I get air into my lungs to speak if I don't breathe in?"
"Your blood automatically circulates part of the carbon dioxide
to your lungs for expulsion. Your lungs will fill up every now
and again no matter what; forcing you to exhale."
She smiled as the water began to flood around both of their now
soft sexes, making them float in front of them. She could sense
it also carrying away the last of the lubricant shed generated when his
penis was at her entrance. "You know, you are very beautiful," he
said, echoing her own thoughts.
was thinking the same thing about you," she said as the water rose to
their chins. In a second they were submerged. She watched him
instinctively take a deep breathe as the water covered their faces.
A look of wonder slowly spread across his face, as they floated
in the chamber.
looked up and pushed off the floor and launched himself almost to the
Mother said. "D'an'a can you get him to relax.
If he'll relax, the electronic teaching will take hold and he won't
launch himself through the overhead."
"I'll try, Mother," she said jetting up and took his hand.
"Don't use your legs, you're a defender. Use your jets."
"What jets?" he asked.
"Your hydro-genesis. You can take water into your body and
launch it down your legs as a form of propulsion. Like this," she
didn't see you do anything different," he said.
Suddenly it hit her. The only pinging in the room was coming from
her. "Don't look at me with your eyes, look at me with your
"My son..., ah,..." he said. He began to ping rather
"Softer," she said holding her hands to her ears.
nodded and his signal lowered in intensity. She smiled at herself
teaching one of the little ones.
think I understand," he said. Suddenly he was rocketing
across the room. She laughed as he instinctively pulled his body up
almost face planted the wall.
"You don't do things in
half-measure do you?" she asked.
looked at her sheepishly and said, "I guess not. I'm just happy
to be alive."
"We're all happy for that," she said realizing it was the truth.
Her long conversations with Leighanne, both verbally and
telepathically had given her a connection to this boy that she didn't
know she had.
"You two keep that up for a few more moments," Mother said.
I want to get all the pheromones out of the room."
After several moments, the water level began to drop, and the two
descended to the floor.
"That was incredible!" Corey said.
"There is so much more to show you little brother," D'an'a said.
I want to show you the whole of the city!" As the last of
the water drained away, she threw herself into his arms and kissed him
soundly on the cheek.
"Ahhhuuummm!" Leighanne said entering the room. "I thought
you said there was no hanky-panky going on."
"It was a sisterly kiss, Leighanne," she told the woman as she
touched both of their penises. "See we're not even excited."
"Girl!" Leighanne said with wide grin. "That's my son
you're handling there."
"Mom!" Corey said suddenly racing across the room to pull his
mother into a hug.
"Corey, ribs! I need them!" she gasped out as he lifted her
off the floor.
Blushing sheepishly, he put her down. "Sorry," he said.
Earlier, D'an'a noticed how much he looked like her father. Now
she could see the deep resemblance to Leighanne as well, there were
traces of someone else as well. She realized that Corey was in
many ways just as Shan as she was. He had the genetic code of two
males and a female; her father, his birth father, and his mother.
D'an'a watched as the woman ran her hands along Corey's face, and
then settled them on his shoulders. "It worked. I can't
believe it worked. You're really here, really alive and well,"
she said softly
grinned back at her and lay his head on her shoulder. D'an'a
realized that Corey hadn't yet hit his growth spurt. In a few
years he'd be much taller than she was. But for now, he was very
much a little boy, like any other Shan or human little boy who'd been
reunited with his mother after a long illness. She felt her eyes
begin to mist.
Corey was still trying to absorb it all, actually it
was more of a case of him trying to process it all. Mother had
done a very good job of programming his body for certain concepts, and
reactions, but he still had to give it a practical application.
Trying to process all of that on top of trying to catch up with
three years of being in a coma was proving difficult- especially on a
His body was reacting in ways that he didn't really yet have much
experience in controlling. What happened last week when he came out of
the chamber- which thankfully had been repaired- was a prime example.
It's one thing to have knowledge in your head, it was entirely a
different one to not only apply it, but to recognize when to apply it
That was what this week had been all about. After about
a day of getting reacquainted with his mother and family- he
couldn't believe that she and George had finally married; evidently
Chris, Bonnie, and his plan had worked- he'd been turned over to D'an'a
to be put through the paces. The other defender was a tireless
task master, and he came back to the apartment each evening exhausted
and had fallen asleep right after dinner.
But the things he'd seen and done in the past week had been
awe-inspiring. He'd gotten to see much more of the city than
Chris and Bonnie had, as he could free dive with D'an'a and keep up
with his sibling in ways that his stepbrother and his girlfriend
couldn't. She showed him how to ascend rapidly without getting
the bends by expelling the nitrogen in his blood through his skin as
part of his water jet. She showed him the "secret" of navigating
the huge series of concentric floating rings of the surface city of
Illia, and then showed him the sprawling city that had been grown out
from the ship on the bottom and in the canyon below. It was much
larger than the present Shan population needed, but would be there for
future planned growth when they needed it
And she showed him how to control his body in ways that he would
never had understood as a human. She showed him how to use his
wings as a diving plane for quick dives and ascensions. She
showed him how to use his sonar not only to see what was around him,
but to seeinsidean
object. She showed him how to use it as a weapon too. She
also showed him how to generate a water cannon, and to narrow it down
to a knife that could slice through reinforced armor. Some of it
was surreal and some of it was downright embarrassing. She
pointed out several differences that the two of the shared from not
only baseline Shan but from even other defenders. The baselines
did not have water wings to use as diving planes. She and he had
several vestigial organs they inherited from their transhuman parent
that neither the baseline Shan nor the defenders possessed. Even
though their feet were now two fused toes, each of them possesses four
little separate toe-nails on the broad part of each foot, and one on
the big toe where their toes would be if they were separate- something
that Shan do not possess. They both had a much better tympanic
membranes than most shan- especially baselines did. Most
baselines were fairly hard of hearing outside of the water.
Some of what he learned was awe inspiring, and some of it was a
delicate discussion to say the least. They were about half way
between the upper and lower cities, just taking a rest from her
teaching him how to pull tight high speed turns. She'd been
surprised at how fast he could actually go. There was one point
when they were racing back to the city when his sonar completely
blanked out and the water behind him suddenly exploded. He
braked, and the two glided to a stop just about a hundred meters from
the main anchor column. The drifted over to the one of the ledges
and sat down giggling. They slowly figured out that he'd managed
to hit the sound barrier just before he backed off. In the water
that was almost a mile a second.
That scared the hell out of both of them. "Ive never heard
of anyone swimming that fast, Corey," she said. "Not even Dad."
Corey shook his head and tried to get his heart rate back under
control. "My sonar completely blanked out. I couldn't "see"
anything," he said.
"You were getting to the object at the same time as your sonar
ping. That's dangerous," she said.
know. If I were to hit something at that speed, it would be
splat, no more Corey," he said. That thought sobered him quite a
bit. Then he smiled over at her, and said, 'You know what this
means though don't you."
"What?" she asked.
"It means that when I have to go home next week, I can still
visit fairly easy. If I stay at a quarter of that speed, Miami is
still less than an hour's swim."
"Can you maintain that kind of speed for very long?"
don't know. I'm breathing hard, and my heart is still pounding,
but that may mean because I simply scared myself shitless," he
said. She gave him a strange look at his use of the word,
and that reminded him of another rather delicate subject. "Can I ask
you a personal question.., uh..., not a personal to you, but personal
to Shan, to what I've become?" he asked.
She smiled at him and said, "I promise not to be offended."
"It's not offense, it's just a delicate subject, not something
people normally discuss in polite company."
"What?" she asked.
"I've been out of the chamber for a week now. I haven't
gone to the bathroom, uh... you know, number two, since then.
When I've done number one it's been kind of thick and white."
She smiled at him and said, "Your colon works slightly
differently now. Unless you start eating hard bone, most of your
bodily waste will be expelled as a thick urine like substance."
"You mean I won't have to defecate?" Corey asked knowing his body
was blushing all over.
She nodded, "Not nearly as often, and when you do it is expelled
in a membrane coated package."
"Why is that?" he wondered.
"Because for Shan males, the anus is a reproductive organ," she
said. Male sex cells only generate either eleven or twelve
chromosomes instead of the twenty-three generated by the human male or
the Shan female. That means for you to generate a complete set
of genes to impregnate a female you must first take on the sperm of
another male and combine it with your own. That is done through
the anus, where there are ducts designed to absorb the genetic
material and transport it to a gland between your testicles where it
will combine with your own to create a complete sperm cell. Cells with
eleven will combine with cells from your partner with twelve and vice
versa. The ones where you give twelve chromosomes grant a y sex
chromosome resulting in a male child, the ones where you give eleven,
line up with another x chromosome resulting in a female child.
Only after they've combined can you impregnate a female, and then
only if she is capable of being in estrus and has chosen to do so."
"How long does it take for the sperm to become whole?" he asked.
"Whole isn't exactly the term. A completed cell is called a
haploid cell. When it fertilizes an egg, those cells become
diploid. The cells your body generate without another male are
called quatroid. But the process usually takes about two hours."
"How is it your dad was able to combine his quatroid cells with
your father's haploid ones? I mean you shouldn't have been able
to be born. Human cells don't come in a quatroid form."
Corey remembered enough of the basic biology Mother had
programmed him with.
"First Defender genetics are very powerful. It has been
speculated that First Defender sex cells aren't unlike the AGG virus.
They simply attached themselves to the human cells they absorbed,
and rewrote either eleven or twelve chromosome positions."
Corey blushed at the thought of the next question, "Does it feel
different to orgasm with a complete set of haploid cells?"
D'an'a blushed and shrugged, "I don't know. I've never
absorbed another male's sperm. I can't yet, and neither can you.
Puberty for Shan hits in two stages. The first stage is about our
age. Our secondary sexual characteristics begin to develop.
Breasts grow for females," she indicated the small buds of
breasts on her chest, we develop pubic hair, the testicles drop and the
penis lengthens for males, " she indicated their groins, which much to
Corey's surprise had not started to react to the discussion. "We
become sexually active, but not procreatively. It is a time when
sex becomes a social game for us, not a time for having babies."
"What about beards?" Corey asked.
She shrugged and said, "Shan don't have beards
or any kind of facial hair. Whether or not we will, is still up
for grabs. We both still do have one female, and one male human
or transhuman parent. So far I haven't needed to shave, but then
again, I'm kind of unique."
"Why can't we absorb another male's sperm right
"Around the physical age of nineteen or twenty,
those ducts open up in our bodies. It's sort of a second puberty.
For females, it's when the body starts to actually allow the
fallopian tubes to open up and release an egg."
"Are there any signs of it? I mean does
our body do anything that lets us know we are ready? You know,
like boys having wet dreams, and girls getting their period?"
"Female Shan don't get periods. We
release an egg when we choose. Expelling blood into an aquatic
environment for five days would be an invitation to dinner for many
predators, with the female being the main course. But no, there's
not any real signals. It just happens."
smiled at her and said, "Thanks for being open with me about this. You
are definitely one of a kind little sister," he told her.
"Little sister? I've been Shan longer than you have," she
"Yeah little sister," he told her. "You're still smaller
than I am. So you get to be my older brother, although I'm
technically older than you, and at the same time you get to be my
"That doesn't make any sense, Corey."
"It doesn't have to make sense, we're family," he said.
Before she could reply, he felt a pressure against his mind
shields, an imperative demanding that he stand down, do nothing.
"What the fuck was that?" he asked.
looked over and saw D'an'a holding her temple and shaking her head.
"I don't know. It feel's strange, like someone is trying to make
me be still."
"Corey, D'an'a" Mother's voice came over the communicators they
each wore on their wrists. She sounded disturbed.
"Yes Mother," D'an'a answered almost immediately.
"Are you all right?" she asked. "Don't respond with your
"We're okay Mother. We've experienced some kind of mental
compulsion, but it is under control. Corey's shields seem to be
pretty damn near impenetrable, and I can slough it off."
"Good. Listen carefully, all of the defenders have gone off
line. Whatever the compulsion it is, it's echoing through the family
bonds. Right now two thirds of the city's population has gone
sluggish. The only people I can find who seem to be able to move
about freely are a few human guest, Randi, Leighanne, George, Bonnie,
Chris, and you two. I'm detecting three submerged vessels closing
fast with the city. Because of protocols I can't activate the
city's defenses without genetic authorization from a defender."
"What do you want us to do?" Corey suddenly asked.
Before Mother could answer, the water was suddenly filled with a
cacophony of sonar signals, signals powerful enough to damage marine
life. The main effect of it was to totally scramble their own
sonar, making echo-location almost impossible. Fortunately for
the two defenders, they could still see in spectrum of light thatdidpenetrate
this deep into the water.
"One of the vessels has launched two hundred twelve fighter class
craft toward the city. The larger ones are surfacing and appear
to be engaging aerial drives. The smaller ones are heading
toward the city at approximately thirty four kilometers per hour.
They should be here in half an hour," Mother reported. "I
really need one of you to come to the main control center and authorize
me to activate the city's defenses," Mother said over the
D'an'a turned to Corey and said, "I know the city better than you
do. I'll go and authorize mother to fire on our attackers. You
see what you can do about intercepting those closing fighters."
"You want to split the party?" he asked.
She smiled at him and said, 'You sound like Father. Yes, we
don't have a choice. It'll take me at least that long to navigate
through the city."
"Then what are you waiting for? Go. I'll take care of
"Corey, they probably have torpedoes," she said.
"Yeah? But I can swim faster," he grinned and jetted off
away from the city's support column and out from under its shadow into
open water. Touching the pad on this communicator, he said,
"Mother, they're scrambling sonar. I'm sonic blind. Can you
give me a direction they are approaching from?"
Miranda felt the compulsion hit her like ton of bricks. It
was powerful, and it was directed specifically at the the defenders.
Her shields popped up immediately and she felt the attack bounce.
She was still a little sluggish in responding though, her
connection to Jord'n and K'hori was letting the compulsion leak through
her shields. Her connection to D'an'a was tight as ever. She clamped
down as hard as she could and did what her code name
suggested: Caster cast her mind out to find out what the hell was
She could feel the pressure on her mind coming from outside of
the city from two different directions. She looked first
to the south and found there, a small hive of nasty little minds, and
one powerful gestalt personality. It was from this gestalt that
the pressure on her mind was coming. :There's another one to
the east,:Leighanne's mind voice came to her.
sense it too?:she asked.
yes. It 's not affecting me, George, or the kids though. It
seems to be directed at the defenders. Have you heard from Corey
they are outside the city.:
:Let's hope they're safe,:Leighanne said.
"Miranda," Mother's voice broke her concentration.
"There are three craft closing with the city. They've
launched attack fighters both underwater and in the air. Those in
the air will be over us in a matter of minutes. I cannot activate
the city's defenses without genetic authorization from a defender."
"That's a hole in you're programming we're going to have to work
"It was put there before we left. It is part of my basic
"Do you know where Corey and D'an'a are?"
"D'an'a is on her way to the command center. Corey is
engaging the fighters in the water."
"They're only children!" she protested.
"They are defenders, and they are the only defenders we have
"Summon the defense force!"
"Only a third have reported. They're deploying now, but they are
woefully out-numbered right now."
"What can I do?"
"According to my scans, the aerial craft are carrying armored
paratroopers. Is there anything you can do to stop them?"
Randi thought about it for a moment. There was no way she
could raise a forcefield strong enough to block that kind of
deployment; and if she did, she'd be ignoring the gestalt mind from the
subs. "I'm not that strong of a telekinetic, Mother. The
only person I know who is, is Coldfire."
"Although I do not understand how it works, what about magic?"
Randi realized that she'd been living so long with a people who
had no concept of magic or spirituality that she'd completely ignored
that particular gift. "How long before they'll be in jump range?"
"Six minutes," Mother said.
Randi raced to bedroom of the apartment and grabbed her bag.
Tossing components left and right she gathered what she needed
and cast the circle. It was going to be close, and she was out of
practice, but she might just make it. "Mother, can you activate
the storm warning on the upper city? Get everyone inside and
secure the hatches."
"Yes, but the storm hatches won't stop an armed assault."
"They won't have to," she said. "Just do it."
She threw her mind out to Leiganne, and said,:Leighanne, the children
are not necessarily okay. D'an'a is heading toward the command
center to activate the city's defenses. Corey is engaging the
incoming fighters. You me, and they are all we got right now."
baby is out there, fighting submarines?:Miranda could feel the
panic in her friend's mind. She'd just got Corey back and he was
in danger again.
I said, he's all we got, Leighanne. Snap out of it. I'm
going to be busy for the next five minutes. I need you to keep
those gestalt minds off my back.:
are you going to be doing?:
:Magic.:She sent her friend a
explanation of her plan as she began to the ceremony. This was
not combat magic. It wasn't the quick and dirty on-the-fly kind
of magic you could cast in a fight. It took a lot of
concentration, and she had to trust Leighanne to protect her flanks
while she was vulnerable.
She cast her mind out,
and praised the elements at what she'd found. Water, andwindwere what she really
needed, butfirewas there too and in some
ways even more important. She smiled wickedly and began to expand
the circle outward in her mind. She could feel the elements come
to her bidding. Firstfire, she needed heat to do what she wanted to
do, and it was late in the season. Butfirewas
ever her friend and always eager to help. She directed the
element to the air around the city. She began to build her heat
engine. Sweat began to pour off her brow.
Then as the air
suddenly began to heat up and rise,windcame to do her bidding.
A column of warm air suddenly blasted upward high in the
atmosphere. Nature abhors a vacuum and morewindcame
rushing in to fill the void and began to rotate slowly. That wind
pushed waves up and dispersed the water into the air. That made
the fire more effective as the water became vapor and rose faster.
She could feel the storm building outside.
"Miranda, the air
temperature outside just climbed twenty degrees Celsius. The winds are
picking up and the waves are growing," Mother said.
She couldn't afford the distraction to answer Mother, but instead
continued to concentrate. She felt something try to press against
her mind. :Wait! Stop! What are you doing? It's
the witch! What's she doing? I don't know. She's
doing something to the weather! Stop her! Bring her down!: Eight different voices spoke with
one mind. She felt their minds press against her.
Suddenly Leighanne's mind was there, shunting their attack aside.
:Who? I don't know! We have no information on her!
She's only one, we're eight, kill her and return to the witch.
If we are too long from the defenders, they'll awaken.
Hurry then. Hit her hard. NOW!"
Miranda felt the psychic blow aimed at her
friend. It was horrible, it was powerful, and it was augmented by
something. She couldn't spare the attention away from what she
was doing though or the elements would get out of control and it would
all fall apart. She briefly sent up a silent apology to the
people living in the Gulf.
Again, she directed the fire where she wanted it. The
winds began to circle as the column of warm air rose higher. She
knew above them, the eye of a hurricane was building. It was
almost there . A few more moments and it would continue to build
on its own volition, and pull heat from the water to fuel its fury.
Weathermen across the US were about to mess their drawers.
Storms don't just appear this suddenly out of nowhere, but this
one was. There. She released her will and watched it begin
to grow. She could sense the aircraft closing with the city.
She could see their little minds relishing in what they thought
was going to be an undefended population. With a wicked smile,
she gave the elements her last command. :That way. NOW!:
She felt the magic flow up and out through her. Suddenly
the clasp holding her ponytail back grew white hot and melted through
her hair with an acrid burning odor. Damn! She forgot about the
orchalchum she was wearing. She had forgotten about its magical
qualities. Suddenly the deck under her rocked as the hurricane
began to blow in earnest. "Name this one Miranda, boys and
girls," she said with a smile as she grounded her energy and left
the circle, the magic having been cast.
Leighanne felt the force of the attack slam against her shields.
It was powerful, and it was augmented by more than just the
gestalt. She could feel an echo of each mind in the gestalt as if
the numbers in it were doubled. It hit her with the force of a
freight train; so powerful that she physically recoiled, reacting with
an actual gesture in an attempt to reinforce her shields. Pouring
energy into the reflexive action, she felt the attack flow around her,
pound at her, but not penetrate. Powerful as the mind was, and it
was horribly so, it was dispersed, distracted. If they'd been
able to bring the entire force of their will against her, Leighanne
knew that she would have fallen.
After several moments, the attack stopped. Leighanne was
unsure if they considered her destroyed, or had lost their focus or
what. She reached out with her mind to see what was happening.
The pressure on her mind subsided, but she felt it pick up again
on the defenders. They couldn't maintain an attack on her
and keep five hundred defenders under control.
She followed the pressure out and found its source. Two of
the three subs that were approaching the city each housed one of the
gestalt minds. The one that attacked her came from the south, and
she thought she'd deal with that one first. She scanned the area
and found a Russian surplus Typhoon class ballistic submarine. Locking
on the moving vessel, she found the locked room where eight
telepaths sat commanding the defenders to stand down. Armed
guards stood outside the door to ensure they weren't going to be
She reached into her purse and pulled out her Baretta
clicked off the safety, and smiled. "I'm gonna' disturb you sons
of bitches. My son is out there, and you're a threat to him."
She smiled and willed herself to the room. In a blur of
speed, motion, and a rainbow of colors, the room on Illia disappeared
from sight, and the wooden paneled room of the telepaths appeared.
She looked around. Eight people sat around a short metal
table with their eyes closed. She saw sitting at each of their
throats was a glowing half dollar sized tear-drop shaped crystal.
She could feel the power pouring though the crystals in her own
mind. This was what was augmenting them. With a grim
determination she jammed the lock on the door, took aim, and fired.
The Baretta spoke, and four crystals shattered, four throats were
blown away. The gestalt began to break up. Before the other
four could come out of their trances she switched her tactics and
changed her aim.
Four skulls shattered from nine millimeter rounds between the
eyes. She reached across the table and grabbed the four remaining
crystals. The guards at the door suddenly started pounding
on it and the wood began to split. Leighanne nodded at the door
and willed herself back to the city. Speed, motion, and color and she
was back where she was supposed to be. She arrived just in time
to feel the deck begin to roll under her feet. "What the hell?"
she said out loud. Explosions began to rock the city.
D'an'a watched as Corey swam off into the depths. She
turned back toward the city and began to weave her way through the
living stone canyons of Illia. She couldn't go full speed, there
were children just hanging in the water, there were people just
floating at neutral ballast, a strange blank look on their faces.
She didn't know what the source of this attack was but it was
effective. She could feel the pressure on her mind, but her own
gifts, her own training was letting her resist.
She couldn't think about that right now. She had to get to the
command center. She had to give Mother the order to activate the
defenses. Inside the rings of the city, the sonar scrambling was
muffled and she could navigate more easily. Suddenly something
rocketed past her and homed in on the inner ring of the city. It
exploded in a pressure wave of sound and force driving her backwards.
She smelled blood in the water and realized in horror that the
torpedo had hit one of the classrooms.
she caught her bearings and cleared her head she turned to see an
armored sled heading toward the hole the torpedo had just made.
It was about three meters long, and half again as wide.
There was a polycarbonate clear shield that gave the pilot a clear
field vision from the front, the bottom and to the sides. She
could see where he lay on his stomach inside the vehicle as he directed
it past the floating pieces of bodies of the children and their
teacher. She launched herself toward the sled at full speed.
As she passed over it, she lashed out with a water knife at close
range. More blood spread in the water as the two halves of what
was left of the sled began to fall to the bottom below.
Grimly she turned back toward the hole in the city wall.
She swam through debris searching for survivors. Her first
duty was to the safety of her people. She found that none had
survived the explosion, only bodies and pieces remained.
She would have nightmares about that search for the rest of her
life. Finally, determining that there was nothing else she could
do, she resumed her journey as fast as she could. Something
happened out to sea; suddenly the pressure on her mind lessened, and
she wondered who'd brought about the downfall of their some of
attackers: her mother, or Leighanne.
took her almost twenty minutes to reach the main command center at the
heart of the city. By the time she did, she could feel the walls
around her rock and shake as if it was riding out a hurricane.
Explosions were rocking the city from all over, and they were
getting worse. People simply floated as the passageways seemed to
be falling apart around them.
She barreled past the defenders who stood motionless at the
entrance of the command center; past her father, past her dad, both of
them seemed to be in the same trance. "Mother! I authorize
you to activate the city's defenses!"
Suddenly she felt the command center's scanners penetrate her
body. "Confirmed." Mother said. Suddenly, she felt the
center shift, scanners and targeting computers came online. Data
began to fill the screens. "The city's defense systems have been
activated. There is a mass of fighters three kilometers to the east of
the city. Defender Corey is engaging them."
D'an'a flashed to the weapons locker and pulled two harpoons out
of the rack. Technically, she wasn't authorized to use them yet,
and Corey sure the heck wasn't, but she'd let them dress her down for
it later; if there was a later.
Corey closed with the armored sea sleds in the distance. He
noticed that many of them had a single torpedo mounted on the
undercarriage. Along the angled surfaces of the top, there were
two racks of what looked like pressure-harpoons. He could see the
head and shoulders of the pilots inside them. The disadvantage to
them scrambling sonar signals was that their own signals were scrambled
as well. He knew that they couldn't use it to see him either.
There was a cluster of them closing from the city off to his
left. He spread his arms and accelerated in their directions.
Remembering the explosion created when his sonar blanked out, he
poured on the speed as he barreled between them. He was in the
middle of them before they could react, and then he gave it everything
Suddenly the water behind him erupted in a powerful explosion as
he rocketed out of the mass of armor. He felt the pressure wave
try to reach him, but he banked hard and then dove. He felt the
pressure begin to lessen as the force was absorbed by the water around
him. Turning back he could see several of the armored sleds begin
to spin down toward the canyon below.
Others were trying to regroup and find him. He knew though that
until they stopped the sonar jamming they couldn't. He rocketed
back toward them and accelerated again. Another explosion and a
few more armored sleds went to Davey Jone's locker. "Corey, what
are you doing?" Mother's voice came from his communicator. "I'm
detecting several sonic explosions in your area."
"Sonic booms underwater can be a bitch, Mother," he said.
"Sonic booms?" Mother asked.
can swim very fast, Mother, very fast," he said.
"They're armored, Corey. Unless you penetrate their armor,
you won't do any good. You'll just stun them."
"Maybe so, Mother, but the water's very deep here," he said.
see your point," Mother said.
don't know how to use my powers well enough to be truly effective with
anything else," he told her.
told you I would teach you how to fight, how to defend the innocent,
Corey. That knowledge is in your mind, use it."
braked hard and turned back toward the scattering armored sleds.
Several were launching torpedoes in random directions. Others
were speeding off toward the city. Above him, he could feel the
currents begin to change. Something serious was happening up top.
He was less than seventy five meters from the surface, but there
was no light. He stopped and looked below. The sleds were
regrouping and heading out toward the city. He thought about his
idea came to him. He remembered his lessons with D'an'a and what
she'd taught him about the water knife. Hydro-genesis
concentrated into a tight beam could slice through plate armor.
He dove toward the lead group of sleds. With a quick pass,
he generated a thin powerful column of water across engine the
compartment of two of the sleds. These two would be going nowhere.
Suddenly the water was filled the sounds of whirring screws. He looked
around to where several small torpedoes were streaking
toward him. He wondered how they were guided without their sonar.
He raced for the surface, expelling the nitrogen from his blood
like D'an'a had taught him. He could see a grayish yellow light
filtering down from above, something was definitely wrong topside.
With half a dozen torpedoes on his tail, he breached the surface
arced high into air as the torpedoes collided with each other below
him. He knew there was an explosion, he saw the flash of light,
but the sound of it was lost in the howl of the wind. The
stinging rain and the powerful wind caught his wings and slammed him
face first into a forty foot swell. The storm surge drove him
back under water and he shook his head to clear it.Where the
hell did a hurricane come from?! He
began to dive through the swirling currents around him, away from the
raging sea above and back down to the safety of the armored sleds
trying to kill him.
hundred fifty meters down, through all the sonar clutter he heard an
intense pinging. What caught his attention was the rhythm of the
pinging, it changed pitch, had a tempo to it. Damn it somebody
was using their sonar to make music, and he recognized the song!
He homed in on its sound and changed course. It wasn't long
before he found D'an'a hiding under a thermalcline, a change in water
temperature that would bounce sonar. She had in her hands two of
the defender harpoons.
"When did you learn "Whispering Pines?" he asked.
"Your mother taught it to me when you were in the healing
chamber. She said it was one of your favorite songs." She
smiled at him. "It's somewhat mournful for someone your age, don't you
shrugged and said, "Only because I was pining, pun intended, for
someone I couldn't have and knew it." He looked at the harpoons and
asked, "Where did you get those?"
"In the weapons locker at the command center. The other
defenders are still out of action, so it's up to us. They can
yell at me later," she said handing him one of the harpoons. It was
heavier than steel would be, but still light in his hands. "Do
you know how to use one of these?" she asked.
"Mother implanted the knowledge."
"They're harder than steel, and razor sharp. They'll also
psycho-reactive in that they'll let you channel your powers through
Corey nodded and said, "So you ready to take on the UN?"
"UN?" she asked.
"Didn't you see the outline of the Earth between two olive
branches? That's the UN insignia," he told her.
"Well, that explains who they are, the question is what to do
"The subjugation of Illia so they can plunder its technology."
"Over my dead body," she said grimly.
"That's their idea. I have others," he told her.
hefted the three pronged golden harpoon in his grip and said, "You ever
heard the song, Battle of Bull Run?"
She shook her head and said, "No."
said we'd run 'em to Atlanta, and to Galveston Bay, but they ran us
back to Washington and Pennsylvan-i-a, Pennsylvan-i-a," he sang to
goal, not a strategy or a tactic, Corey. Do you have any
suggestions on how to carry it out?" she asked.
"Any idea what their objective is?"
She shook her head and said, "No but I can find
He watched as she closed her eyes and
concentrated. He wondered what it would be like to be able to
read minds, to know the thoughts of your enemy. Suddenly her eyes
flew open, wide with fear. "We've got to stop them! If they
can't take the city they're going to detonate two nuclear devices
carried by of the two submarines!"
"You take the sub on the right, and I'll take the one on the
left?" he asked.
She shook her head and said, "No, the captains will detonate the
nukes if they're ships are attacked with anything less than
"We are overwhelming force," Corey said.
"No, we're not, but I know something that is. I have a
plan, to run them back to Washington so to speak. Start herding
the sleds toward the submarines. We'll spear two fish with one harpoon."
nodded, and dove toward the approaching group of armored sleds.
"And Corey, when Mother tells you to dive, don't argue, just do
it. Dive as deep and as fast as you can. I've had at least two
classmates tell me they want to play with that cute little butt of
yours. They'd be very upset with me if I let you get it burned
"Yes ma'am, General Lee ma'am," he said with a smile and dove in
front of the sleds.
soon as they saw him, they reacted. Harpoons and torpedoes all
lanced out toward him. He felt something in his mind click.
He stopped thinking about what he was doing, he just did it. The
harpoon in his hand became an extension of his will. He twisted
and dove in the water, he lashed out and the tines of his weapon sliced
away fins, wings, engines, and the occasional human limb. He
dodged and dove, and and began to herd the sleds into a single ball of
frightened replicated humans.
had told mother he could swim very fast, and swim very fast is exactly
what he did. He felt the occassional bite of one of their
harpoons, or a piece of shrapnel from an exploding torpedo would rip
into his flesh, but it healed almost instantly. His attacks hit
home much more often than they did, and they began a slow
retreat. He drove them back away from the city, away from his
mother, his stepbrother, and his stepfather. He drove them back
away from the people who'd given him a second chance at life.
With a determined will he drove them back toward their own vessels.
D'an'a dive!" he heard mother call over his radio.
question he followed the order. He arched his back, kicked his
legs toward the surface and fired everything he had back along the and
propelled himself toward the ocean floor below. Behind him, he
heard a dull roar and felt an intense heat. He didn't know what
had happened but the water where he had been a moment before had heated
almost to the boiling point.
please stay where you are," Mother's voice told her.
mother, I can stop the attack on the defenders," she said.
realize that, but so can I, and what I have to do will insure that the
city is safe. Please do not teleport to the other sub. I do
not wish to be the instrument of your death," the computer told her.
thought sobered her. "I take it that D'an'a was able to reach you
she was. She has brought new strategic data to my attention that
must be acted upon immeadiately or none of us will survive.
Please stay where you are."
was smart enough to know that there was more intelligence at work than
with what she was working. She cast her mind out to Miranda and
asked, :Do you know what's going on out ther?:
and you don't want to know?:Miranda
hell, I don't. My son is out there!:she
I'm not about to broadcast it in the clear. Not with there still being
telepaths out there who may be listening. Yes, both Corey and
D'an'a are in danger, but if I tell you what it is, it'll only increase
that danger. You know better than to ask.:Miranda's voice was firm.
Leighanne hadn't been out of the fieldthatlong, she understood. That
didin't mean she had to like it, but she understood it.
can I do to help, Mother?" Leighanne finally asked.
you come to the command center? I could use your advice on the
information D'an'a sent me," she said.
on my way."
your family," Mother said.
you want, but I don't understand why?"
I don't trust them not to get involved in the fight right now, and some
of the automated drones I've sent out have been told to kill anything
without a Shan genetic code."
they recognize a defender when they see one," Mother said.
gather them and will be there in a moment."
minutes later, Leighanne noticed that the number of explosions she'd
been hearing in the background was lessening. The trip herding
George, Chris, and Bonnie along the indicated "dry paths" would have
taken too long. Instead the four of them had stripped to warm
suits and rebreathers and cut straight down the main column to the to
the command center. It had been eerie floating past Shan who all seemed
to be either immobile or sluggish. The closer she got to the
command center, she noticed that she had fewer of the former and more
of the latter. She could already feel them trying to shake off
the effects of the single gestalt mind left.
they entered the large circular room complete with holotanks and
tactical readouts, she noticed that there were a few baseline Shan
swimming about unhindered. With a sense of chagrin she realzied
that these were the few who were not in some way connected to a
defender. Mother had done a very good job seeding her defenders
through the whole population in order to avoid one family or another
having too much influence.
won't you let me take out the other gestalt?" she asked as they floated
there above he tactical holo-tank.
as soon as you do, then two of the submarine captains will arm and
detonate the thermonuclear devices they each carry on their vessels,"
Mother said. "Do you recognize these designs?" Suddenly the image
of Russian Typhoon class subs appeared in the holo-tank.
class. They have multiple redundancies in their hulls. They're
damn hard to kill," she said remembering the data on them cleared by a
certain CIA operative a few decades ago.
thought so," she said. "I have to take them out simultaneously
and in one stroke, "Mother said. The tactical field changed
again. She saw a three-dimensional image of the city. To
the south and east were the two Typhoons. Between each of
them and the city were what could only be described as a furball of
sleds attacking lone defenders. Off to the north was a single sub
of a design she had not seen before. It vaguely reminded her of theConstellation,the submersible carrier the
US had recently deployed.
cannons are now fully charged, Mother," one of the techicians announced.
D'an'a, dive!" Mother called.
watched as the two defenders broke off their individual attacks and
dove straight for the bottom. One of them rocketed to the bottom
so fast, that by the time the image refreshed itself, it was embedded
in the sea-floor. The lights of the city suddenly went dark and
three beams of light shot out from the rings of the city, one toward
molecules were stripped of their elecrtrons and accelerated outward at
nearly a quarter the spead of light, slamming through the water and
creating a forty meter in diameter column of vacuum through the
water. Three point two nanoseconds later, a powerful x-ray laser
followed along the path to subs. For an instant, the subs sat
there suspended in a column of vacuum. Before gravity could make itself
known to the metal behemouths, they were vaporized when their surfaces
were instantly raised to half a million degrees Kelvin. When the
beams cut off, the water came crashing back in to fill the vacuum in
the column of water. Leighanne noticed that the two Typhoons were
totally destroyed. Where the third larger vessel was, the water
was boiling where what was left of the hull melted and began to fall
away toward the bottom.
the defenders and the baseline Shan around them began to blink and
shake their heads. The first to react was Adam, then K'horal who
both raced toward the weapons locker. "We stil have stray hostile
sleds in and around the city. There are also paratroopers in the
water trying to ride out the hurricane," Mother said.
do you want us to do with them?" Adam asked.
them of their armor and bring them inside," K'horal said.
Mother, Leighanne, and Miranda said in unison.
will drown," Adam said unsure if he was believing his ears.
take a shuttle out, and pile them in it. But not bring them to
this city. Take Miranda, D'an'a, and Leighanne with you.
Some of them may be telepaths," Mother's tone would brook no argument.
floated silently in the water watching the repairs on the city
below. Off to her side Corey and a small gathering of other
defenders in their age group floated as well. Mother had declared
the city to be on high alert until her parents returned from New York,
and it was decided that the younglings would act as a watchful eye over
the repairs while the adults did the heavy work. They were all on
rotating two hour shifts. Mother had been quite pleased with hers and
Corey's performance during the crisis, and had petitioned her dad to
grant both of them their harpoons. That was still up in the
air. For now though, they stood silent guard.
had beens several torpedo hits on the structure, and for some reason
they'd all hit the worst possible places. The one that streaked
past D'an'a had been one of three that had struck classrooms,
playgrounds, or recreational centers with large numbers of children.
The death toll had been extremely high from those hits- two hundred and
eighty-three children, and fourteen teachers. Others had hit
places like the cattle pens, and when the trinacromerum had gotten into
the corridors they began to feed on the poor squ'ks. It had taken
a week to clean the mess out of squ'k's quarters. Two had hit the
maternity wards of two different medical centers, and one had actually
hit one of the power conduits between the outer ring and the next one
in. It was as if the the attackers had chosen the softest targets they
looked over to where her brother floated beside her and reached
out and placed her small hand in his. It felt good to have a
brother, even if he wasn't part of her actual pod. The two found
that they could discuss almost any subject and he'd been making
suggestions for various groups for her to, as he called it, "hook up"
with. Some of his ideas were outrageous, and others were actually
pretty insightful. She'd also started steering a few other
youngling defenders and one or two baselines his way. So far, he
hadn't taken them up on a game of pin to the bottom, but she knew his
resistance was wearing down.
detected a slight shift in the way her agemates were seeing her now.
They were looking at her mind-gifts as less of something freakish, and
more of a special tool that had helped save the city. With that,
they were also seeing her sexuality in a different light, and were
actually starting to seeherinstead of an amalgalm of
male and female sexual organs.
know, if your dad comes back with good news, we're heading home
tomorrow," he said.
know. But we can still visit each other," she told him.
but it won't be the same." He grinned down at his nude form and added,
"And I'll have to start wearing clothes again."
adjusted rather better than your stepbrother," she commented on the
fact all of his family had managed to "go native" except for
Chris. She understood the other boy's reticence though. It
wasn't so much that he was ashamed of what he had, which was about
average for a shan male of his age, as it was that he'd reached a point
where while Bonnie was nude, he had a perpetual spike in his
trunks. Walking around with an erection on Illia was
considered an invitation to play.
are you going to adjust to life back among the humans?" she asked.
don't know. I've missed a lot. Mother tried to fill in the
gaps, there's so much that just doesn't make sense. I went into a
coma with a president, I may not have liked, but I could at least
respect and woke up with one that I have no respect for and like even
less. I'm so behind culturally, that's frightening. Did you
know that Michael Jackson died?" he asked with ruefull smile. "I've got
a lot of catching up to do. Mother said that middle school we're
going to be attending though is willing to work with me being a
transhuman. They've been hinting that a couple of their students
in the past have been too."
raised an eyebrow, "You've had the equivalent of several PhDs directly
copied onto your brain and you're still going to go to middle school?"
says that I should for no other reason than why Shan teenagers have sex
all the time," Corey said.
it's fun?" she asked with a smile.
you would know," he accused back.
considering some of your suggestions," she told him squeezing his
hand. "But what does having sex have to do with going to middle
socialization," he told her. "Schools play as much a role in
teaching humans how to get along as it does with teaching us how to
read and write. It imparts valuable, and sometimes
not-so-valuable cultural knowledge to us."
couple of giggling voices came from behind them, "Mother says we are to
relieve you. You've both been on watch for the last eight hours.
That's four watches each, and that's too much." D'an'a
turned to see two other youngling defenders floating there.
to head home and finish this conversation?" she asked.
she said that you are not to return to the apartment," one of them said.
the command, center, or the medical center, or the classroom. She
said that you two have both been remiss in social obligations and are
to report to any of the recreational centers you wish to, but only
those and any cafeteria were the only places you were to go for the
next three hours."
she and Corey looked at each other and smiled wanly. "I think
that someone is starting to get too big for her electrons," Corey said.
mean it," Mother's voice came over their communicators. "Corey's
parents want to be alone in the apartment. I've sent Bonnie and
Chris on an errand, so you two stay out."
to then?" D'an'a asked.
a party over at Rec Center Three," one of the young defenders said.
have parties?" Corey asked.
we have parties," D'an'a said. "But to be honest, I couldn't tell
you what the ones our agemates have are like. I've never been to one."
let's check it out," he
want to do what with my little sister?" Corey asked the smaller
baseline menacingly. He wasn't much older than Corey was when he'd gone
into the coma. He had long electric blue hair, and and was somewhat on
the thin side. He was also sporting half an erection under the
fine peppering of matching pubic hair that was just starting to grow in.
boy smiled up at him, and said, "Do I have to spell it out for you, or
do all those muscles crowd out your brain cells, seaweed head?
Will you get out of my way so I can ask her?" Corey was a little
surprised to hear the smaller guy talk to him like that.
smiled at the little guy and jetted off to the side. "Fine, go right
ahead." He reached out and put a hand on the smaller boys shoulder and
stopped him for a moment. "But you better make sure she enjoys it as
much as you do, or I'm going to twist that thing off and feed it to the
that absolutely necessary, Corey?" S'vann the youngling defender that
he'd been talking to for the last hour asked.
smiled at him and said, let's watch and find out. He turned to
watch as the young baseline swam over to where D'an'a was eating a
strip of steak the Rec Center was providing. He couldn't hear
what they were saying over the steady strumming of what passed for
music among the Shan. Shan music was heavy on the bass ranges,
and seemed to carry for kilometers underwater. He briefly
wondered how they'd react to to a good old Nashville style jam-session.
The boy spoke for several moments, before D'an'a shocked Corey
and reached out and began to run her hand along the boy's leg.
She finally took his cock in her hand and pulled him to her in a kiss.
Corey noticed that young hermaphrodite's own dick began to grow.
I never expected to see that happen," S'vann said.
not?" Corey asked.
isn't exactly the most confident boy I've ever known. But he's
admired D'an'a since she was old enough to start noticing. Since
she's turned everyone else down, nobody expected him to have a chance
smiled over at the other boy and said, "I'd rather her be with someone
who isn't the captain of the sports team, but who admires and respects
her than some muscle-bound noob who just wants to get his rocks off and
felt S'vann press his own body against his from behind him and say,
"Speaking of someone who admires you." Corey caught a glimpse of
S'vann's day-glow pink hair floating past him as the other boy reached
around and began to run his fingers along Corey's chest. He gently
began to nibble on Corey's ear, and Corey could feel S'vann's sex
harden against him until it lay along the crack of his butt. He
could feel the head brushing up against the point where his wings met
in the small of his back. Corey felt himself respond to S'vann's
gentle touch along his nipples with one hand while another drifted
lower. "You know, you're worth a certain amount of bragging
rights yourself, Corey," he said.
shrugged. He didn't really care about that. Over the last two
weeks, he'd come to grips with something very important. Chris
was his step brother. Even if he wasn't straight, even if he
wasn't so dedicated to Bonnie that every time he saw the girl nude, he
just about left a puddle in front of him, he could no more sleep with
Chris than he could D'an'a. That idea might be okay for some people,
but it didn't sit well with who he was.
the other hand, S'vann was very attractive, fairly experienced, very
handy, and more than willing. He knew it wouldn't last.
Shan didn't make permanent bonds at this young age. But he did
want to find out what it was like. He started to twist around but felt
the other defender clamp down tight with his arms. He licked up
Corey's ear and said, "Do you know why they call it pin to the bottom?"
shook his head. He knew he could break the grip, and he was fairly sure
that S'vann knew it too. "No, do you want to tell me?"
felt S'van slide down his body slightly until his dick was pressing
between Corey's thighs. Corey looked back and found the boy
smiling at him good naturedly. "Because in neutral ballast like this,
it's almost impossible to stay inside your lover when things get
intense. You have to pin them to something." Suddenly he felt
another body against his front. "Now the question is, do you want
to pin me, or do you want me to pin you, or do you want to pin, Ant'l?"
turned to look at a very attractive baseline female. She was just
a little smaller than B'near, and had his same oval-shaped facial
features, and the same the electric blue hair. She kissed him
gently on the lips and then ran her fingers down his sides until they
found the hardening half-rings of flesh under his armpits where his
wings separated from the back of his tricep and stretched out to meet
his back. That sent a shiver of pleasure thrugh him that made his own
dick literally vibrate. "Hi," she said, pulling back from the
kiss. "Can I play too?"
looked down her body admiringly. Her breasts were still small
conical protusions from her boy-like chest. She was lean and trim
and noticed that her pubic area was almost totally bald. He found
her to be strangely attractive. He nodded and said, "Do you want
she want to?" S'vann asked. "Whose idea did you think this
looked over to where D'an'a was now pinned against the wall, her legs
wrapped around B'near's waist. The boy's butt was flexing and
back and forth as he drove his sex inside her, his head as buried in
the nape of her neck. D'an'a had her head back and her eyes
closed, and Corey didn't have to have her telepathic gifts to know that
she was enjoying every minute of the first time she'd ever had someone
else's dick inside her. He turned back to see Ant'l turning back
to him and saying, "My brother has had a crush on D'an'a for quite a
while. I'm glad to see he's finally getting a chance to get close
still stands, Corey. Do you want to pin me, or me to pin
you, or you to pin Ant'l?" He felt head of S'vann's dick press
harder at his backside.
his legs slightly he pushed back on the hardness and felt the head of
the other defender's dick slip into him. He was surprised to
suddenly feel himself open up, and muscles he didn't know he had began
to suck the other boy's dick deep inside him. He reached out and
pulled Ant'l to him. He smiled as she spread her legs and wrapped
her thighs around his waist. She reached down and took hold of
his dick and placed it at the opening of her bald pussy.
the cool water surrounding his organ turned to a tight hot slickness
he'd never felt before. "See, I told you he'd be a natural," she
smiled and kissed S'vann over his shoulder. She reached down and
ran her fingers along the inside of his wings again and that set his
cock to throbbing. "I love to do that to defenders," she
whispered in his ear.
could not believe the feeling of fullness he was experiencing. It
was nothing like he was expecting it to be. It wasn't painful, on
the contrary, it was stimulating in a way he'd never expected. He
felt a series of ringlike muscles in his anus begin to try and pull
S'vann deeper inside of him.
careful," S'vann said into his ear as the three of them began to thrust
back and forth against each other. "Ant'l is a baseline. You
don't want to hurt her."
nodded as he wrapped his large arms around the smaller girl and
continued to gently make love to her as S'vann made love to him.
He would thrust back on S'vann and and pull part of the way out of
Ant'l, then push forward into her, and pull off of S'vann.
didnt' know how long they continued to move against each other. At one
point he had S'vann backed up against the wall of the Rec Center and
was looking across the room to see where D'an'a now had B'near bent
over on the floor and was entering him from behind. In a way, it
was surreal. Here and there were groups of twos, threes and even
fours engaging in sexual activity ranging from oral sex to what he and
his partners were doing. At the same time there were other groups
simply sitting and talking or playing games. Nobody paid any
attention to it.
a while, he felt something begin to build at the base of his spine, or
at least where his spine would be if it was anything more than
cartilage. It radiated down into his ass and across to his
dick. He could feel S'vann really starting to pound back against
him, while Ant'l ground her very tight sex against his pubes.
Suddenly he felt his ass begin to spasm, his balls pulled up inside him
and his whole body vibrated with pleasure as he blasted his first
orgasm as a Shan into Ant'l.
walked beside her husband as they entered the conference room. It was
the same conference room as they'd left a month ago. This time Jord'n
and Adam stood beside them as well She could feel the controlled
fury that K'hori kept in tight check in his mind. This time, they
all stood nude before the room full of humans. One would have
thought that they would feel at the psychological disadvantage in the
situation, but the exact opposite was true. The were liberated,
they had nothing to hide. Their presence in this way made their
counterparts much more uncomfortable than it did them. The only
thing Miranda wished was that her hair looked better. She'd seen
Leighanne's stylist to see what could be done with what was left after
it had been burned away by the orchalchum when she cast her
spell. The best they could come up with was very boyish looking
close-cropped European style. At least there would be no
mistaking her for a boy while she was standing there nude.
"Consul K'horal of Illian, you have been asked not to appear
before this body in such a disrespectful state of dress," the same
consul who complained last time said.
"Actually you asked me if Ihad to appear wearing what I
was last time. I explained no, that I could appear this way," he
said. Randi recognized the tone in his voice and did not envy
them what was probably about to happen.
don't know, if he wants degrade his wives this way, who am I to
complain," Consul Balyuzi said.
"You are already degraded, Consul Balyuzi," Miranda said told him
in Farsi. "Do you have the courage to stand before your enemies
so boldly? No, you hide behind your clothing concealing your
pitiful manhood behind a power suit, and hiding your lies and treachery
with with a pert tongue. I need no suit to know that I am
stronger than you."
"Enough," K'horal said. "I am not here to discuss my
attire, and as my wife has indicated, I am here to address my enemies."
"You consider the United Nations, your enemy?" Consul Belanov
consider the enemy of my people any government or organization that
would send three warships to attack my city. Three Typhoon class
submarines and one of unknown design."
"How dare you!" Belanov bellowed and rose from his seat.
"Sit down and shut up, Consul Belanov," Adam said.
Belanov started for the door and Adam said quietly, "You walk out
that door, and Moscow will be a hole in the ground in twenty minutes."
Belanov stopped in his tracks and looked Adam up and down.
Miranda could feel the challenge in the man's mind, but he was
just concerned enough to sit back down.
"Last week, Illia was attacked by two Typhoon class submarines
with a contingent of telepaths on each one whose role it was to
dominate the Shan defenders to keep us from defending our city.
The telepaths on those vessels are dead as are the submarines. We
have, however recovered twelve Meirrian psionic amplification crystals.
They've been turned over to the Atlanteans for investigation into how
they fell into human hands. We also have eight of your telepaths,
and seventy five of your replicant paratroopers who were rescued after
they dropped into the middle of a hurricane," K'hori said.
"Let me show you what happened to your submarine's gentlemen,"
K'hori told them putting a portable projector on the conference table.
He touched a key and holo-tank projected a three dimensional view
of the three vessels being destroyed by the city's defenses. "We
know that those captain's had orders to detonate multi-megaton
thermonuclear warheads should their missions fail. Unfortunately
to neutralize that particular threat without having to unduly risk Shan
lives, we had to totally destroy the vessels."
watched as the men around the table stared at the looped data.
When he was sure they were all suitably impressed, he said, "The
beam that destroyed those vessels was thirteen kilometers away, and was
forty meters in diameter. They were vaporized in less than a hundredth
of a second. The weapons we now have in orbit around this planet
can be widened to a five hundred times that diameter and not lose any
effectiveness from space. Your capital cities are now targeted,
gentlemen. Should our city's electronic personality detect any
more attacks on our people she has been given instructions to fire on
your capitals and work her way out until nothing lives inside your
borders. Then she is directed to defend the city. Do you
understand me gentlemen? We are now engaged in Mutually Assured
Destruction. Your ballistic weapons mean nothing to us. We
have fought back from the brink of extinction. If you wish to push us
there again, we'll take you over the precipice with us. We returned to
Homeworld to live in peace. We've been met with threats and
hostilities. You feared us and attacked us. Three thousand
two hundred and six Shan died in your last attack. Almost
thirteen hundred of those were children. Now we go to mourn our
dead. See that you do not bother us again. You can't afford to
play this game." He scooped up the projector and turned on his
heel. "We are done here."
"It's time for the truth between us, Mother," Leighanne said to
the ceiling in her quarters.
"What are you talking about Leighanne?" the electronic
"Things turned out exactly they way you wanted them to with
D'an'a and Corey."
"The Shan have no strong natural telepaths, and you've just
guaranteed that natural telepaths will crop up within a very few
"Why would I do that?"
"Because you've read the data and you know something you're not
sharing. I also know that Shan don't accept non-Shan into their
pods that easily. You rammed Miranda and Adam down their throats.
Now I know that part of that was because K'horal tends to see
most of the Shan as his children for a lack of a better term, so he was
reluctant to pod with most of them. But you went for a very
specific genetic combination that was right where you could get your
hands on it when you needed it. Now with Corey, you have another
unique genetic combination. I'm more than willing to play ball
with you, but let's get one thing straight, if you don't tell me
exactly what's going on and what you've got planned, you and I are
going to have some unpleasant words. Nobody plays with my baby."
"Earth is a cradle."
"Okay, I understand that. Eventually everyone has to leave
"Humans preach diversity on a regular basis. However, the
vast majority of those preach it the loudest, are the most afraid of
it, and the least practitioners. They want diversity on their own
terms. They want diversity that agrees with them. They do not want
diversity of thought, and they do not want diversity of the
individual," Mother said.
"Okay, so they give lip service to it, but they don't want to
"They do more than give lip service to it. They use it as a blunt
weapon to beat down those who disagree with them, not seeing the
hypocrisy in the actions or their words. They are moving to destroy the
individual on this planet, and enslave all those who would stand out
from the group."
"But the Shan are one of the most cooperative people I've ever
met when it comes to protecting their own."
"Yes, but we cooperate for personal safety and for survival.
We relish and praise the individual. There's a difference between
duty, and coercion."
"All right mother. Just how long do we have?"
"My estimations are that the transhumans will be forced to either
conquer humanity or leave the planet within a century and a half.
Like I said, Earth is a cradle. It is a cradle for a new
civilization that will grow from the combination of various transhuman,
shan, and other forces."
"And you don't think that we'll go for conquest?"
She actually heard mother snort. "Not with K'hori, not with
Cobalt-Blue, and not with most of the crop of transhumans that will be
in the leadership positions in that time. Most of you are so
noble that if I had hair, you'd make it hurt." She was silent for
long moments before finally changing tacks. "Ship is dying. There
is no way he will ever heal. That is why we traded with the
Atlanteans for their star drive. That is why we are building
alliances with the Atlanteans, the transhumans, and if I can figure out
a way, the nocturnals."
can help there," Leighanne said.
"Really?" Mother asked and Leighanne realized that she walked
right into her trap.
"Really, but if you ever try to manipulate me again, I'll crack
open your main processors and pour a pound of grape jelly in it."
"Deal," Mother said.
"Now, let's get down to brass tacks..."
Two days later, she was standing on the main deck of the topside
of the city. Most of the trees had already been replanted, and
the damage repaired to the parklike environment. For the first
time since he'd come out of the healing chamber, sh'ed managed to get
Corey into clothing. He was wearing a over-sized white pirate
shirt, blue jeans, and cowboy boots. Sometimes she wondered where her
son got his personal tastes. With his long blue-green hair pulled
back in a pony-tail, and the cowboy hat in his hand, he cut a rather
striking if unusual figure.
was currently hugging the nude form of Miranda. She was saying
something to him quietly and he smiled. Leighanne did wonder if
the hug he shared with D'an'a was a little long. She knew something had
happened a few days ago, but both of their minds were blocked to her.
Finally, he and of all people, Commander K'horal stepped away and
spoke quietly. She had no idea what was said, but in the end, her
son hugged the bigger man and walked back to the shuttle.
"Oh, I almost forgot," Adam said.
"What?" George asked.
"There's an installation crew coming to your house tomorrow."
"What ever for?" Chris asked.
"Two things, the first being air filters. The second to
install a genetic locked safe."
"Why do we need a genetic locked safe?" George asked.
"For this," D'an'a said, reaching into the shuttle and pulling
out a defender's harpoon. "You don't want this much orchalchum
just lying around. Too many mages out there who might let their
greed get in the way of their common sense."
She saw Corey's face light up at the sight of the defender
weapon. "I don't know what to say."
"Say thank you," Bonnie said.
"No, you earned, it," K'horal told them "One does not thank
responsibility. One is thankful for it."
"Oh, and I'll be coming to visit fairly often," D'an'a said.
"Mom's found me an instructor in magic in your city."