Him Who Made The Seven Stars
By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 66

"There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia." ~ Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., The Sirens of Titan

Monday morning, after breakfast, Nellie Peterson decided she needed to get back to Tall Pine and Wilbur volunteered to take her back and stay for several days. Billy didn't have any problem with Wilbur spending time with his family back in Oregon. He decided to leave it up to Wilbur. He knew the young man and his mother enjoyed a close relationship with each other. Wilbur never seemed to develop an anger or resentment for his mother to prompt him to flee the nest as seen in many children's adolescent angst to free themselves of the real or imagined tyranny of their parents. They seemed to exist on a comfortable plane together; one of mutual respect and understanding for the other.

Randy and Pard helped open a gate to the old double car garage Monday afternoon. Billy, his pa, Boomer, several of his cowboy angels, and the boys saw them off. There were many thanks exchanged. Nellie and Wilbur passed through the gate, the boys shut it down, and everyone went on with their afternoon. After supper, there came a pang in Billy's heart for Wilbur he couldn't explain, but when he mentioned it to his pa, Nick laughed at him. "You see so much of yourself in Wilbur. You've come to love him like another little brother, but ya' ain't the only one. Didn't you see the watery eyes and forlorn looks on your cowboys' faces. Them two smaller buckaroos cried when they told him goodbye," Nick said, "I predict it will take Wilbur sometime to untie his mother's apron strings, Son, and realize where his heart truly belongs. He's doing what he thinks is best right now. He's trying his hand at being a grown-up," Nick added.

"I hope so. I feel like that boy done walked away with a big chunk of ma' heart, Pa," Billy said.

"The next morning, early, as Billy and his family were having their coffee, Billy's cell phone rang. He looked and saw it was Wilbur. He smiled and winked at Nick as he pressed the button. "Good morning, Cowboy. How you doing, Little Brother? Is some'um wrong?" Billy asked.

"Naw, sir, Master Billy. I hate to sound like an immature wuss, but I'm afraid I'm already homesick for Texas, ma' cowboy brothers, and the ranch. Can I come back this morning, sir?" Wilbur asked sheepishly.

"You want me to open a gate for you or do you think you can transport yourself?" Billy asked.

"I don't feel too confident with my transporting skills, yet. I think I might need a little more practice, sir," Wilbur said

"No problem. You in the garage, Son?" Billy asked.

"Yes, sir, I didn't want to wake mom or Gower. I left mom a note on the bar," Wilbur said.

"Okay, stand near the door, and I'll open a gate. Just walk on through," Billy said, waved his hand, a gate sprang up in the living area of the line-cabin, and Wilbur walked through. Billy closed the gate, and Wilbur was in his arms in an instant with a big hug and a kiss. Wilbur didn't stop with Billy. He had to hug and kiss the rest of Billy's family.

Nick got a big smile on his face. "Good to have you back, Son," Nick said.

"It's good to be back, Captain Nick. I guess I got a lot to learn," Wilbur lamented.

"How so, Little Brother?" Billy asked and saw another big grin on Nick's face.

"I thought I was doing the right thing volunteering to go back and get some things done for mom, but after we been there for a while, I got the feeling I was in the way. After we got back, Mr. Flint made over mom like she was the most beautiful woman he ever saw. Then I noticed mom and Mr. Flint were real quiet and not saying much. They spoke softly with each other and whispered a lot. They talked in low tones and would hush-up when I came around. I thought it was strange, so I went to bed early. I lay there thinking, and then it dawned on me -- I was in the way. They wanted to go to bed together, but I knew mom wouldn't consider it as long as I was there. She can be sort of old fashioned that way. I decided to call you to see if I could come back to the ranch and let them two love birds have their way with each other. Far be it from me to stand in Cupid's way," Wilbur said and Billy laughed.

He pulled Wilbur to him and gently kissed him on his forehead. "You done the right thing. How do you feel about them make'n the beast wiff' two backs, Son?" Billy asked. Nick winced. Boomer and the twins laughed.

"Happy they're finally getting together. Gower is a good man. I couldn't wish for a better step-dad, if they decide to get hitched," Wilbur said.

"I think you're right. Gower impressed me as a good man who needed a second chance. I think they both need a second chance and why not together? You can offer your help, and I'm sure, once they's comfortable with themselves, they'll be fine with allowing you back into their world," Billy said, "I'm sure it's only a temporary thing," he added.

"I know. I made an effort to be a good son, but I was uncomfortable being in their way. I thought I'd come back and work for you until they's comfortable enough to invite me back," Wilbur said.

"I'd say that's a wise, mature decision on your part, Mr. Peterson. Welcome home, Cowboy," Billy said and gave Wilbur a big hug.

"Believe me, it's great to be home, Master Billy," he replied.

Wilbur drank a cup of coffee with the men and ate a Hosanna cake before they transported to the big house. Billy made Wilbur wing-up, and he and the young man transported everyone. Billy wanted Wilbur to get used to transporting from place to place. The family made over Wilbur like he was the young prodigal who returned home to his family. Wilbur was thrilled and shared his feelings with them. There were many knowing smiles and nodding of heads, like they understood, and expected it might happen. Billy's family gave Wilbur just what he needed, a lot of love and support. Wilbur was like a young seed who fell into a well tended garden, sprouted, was quickly sending down roots, and was beginning to flourish. He felt like he found his place in the sun.

* * * * * * *
After breakfast, Billy told his little brother, Wilbur, to stay close to him for the day and his posse transported to the ship. When they arrived, the giants, with Odin, Erin, and Marcus were finishing their last cup of coffee. Jethro was standing chatting with them in his full demon form having another cup before he went off to his suite of offices to continue his work as director of the project. He was having an informal meeting with them about the delays in finishing some projects when he needed them completed to get others accomplished. Naturally, in the progress of building, some things need to be finished before they could progress to others. Jethro was complaining things were slowing down because of misunderstandings and incorrect scheduling. He couldn't do his job and be on the site to make sure the work is properly scheduled and finished on time.

Odin and Erin hailed their master and his men to join them. Marcus's mouth dropped open. Among Master Billy's entourage was a huge beast what looked to him how he thought a Bigfoot might look. Also with him was one of the most handsome young cowboys Marcus ever saw, and he got a lump in his throat in memory of two young men he lost in prison to gang warfare. Like everyone, Wilbur was taken with Jethro's demon persona, but there was a new man with Odin and Erin which shook the young man to his core when he saw him. He wondered if he was the prisoner Master Billy and his men rescued. If so, he was sure Master Billy already processed him. To Wilbur's young mind, the big man was just about perfect in every way. He was obviously a refurbished older gentleman, but there was a rough-cut, sure-of-himself nature, an animal look about him which excited young Wilbur's sensitive manhood to full salute.

The gathered men, including Marcus, we're hanging on Jethro's every word. Marcus was particularly fascinated by Jethro in his demon form and couldn't get over how much in love with the giant demon his underlings were. They were all over him. Jethro kissed and petted each one, and called them by name like they were his beloved children. Marcus was most impressed by the flying Sun Bears and their devotion to the great demon. They broke their conversation for a few minutes to acknowledge their master and his crew and for Billy to introduce his newest cowboy-angel, Wilbur, to them. Wilbur and Marcus shook hands and there was an awkward silence between the two men as they stood and looked into each other's eyes like they were sounding the depths of their souls. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Obbligatto, and welcome to our family, sir," Wilbur said with perhaps a tad too much sincerity and blushed a deep red color like a young schoolboy meeting his first pretty girl.

"Thank you, Mr. Peterson, it's a pleasure and honor to meet such a fine looking young cowboy-angel as yourself; but please, call me Marcus, Son, it would be a great honor," Marcus said and gently pulled the young man to him, surrounded him with his massive arms, and gently kissed him on his forehead. It was exactly what Wilbur wanted, but how did the big man know? He longed to feel Marcus' massive arms around him.

Wilbur blushed even more and spoke quietly. "Thank you, sir, it would please me very much if you called me, Wilbur," the young man said.

"Wilbur it is," Marcus replied, stole another kiss, and released Wilbur. Wilbur acted like he didn't want Marcus to let him go. The young cowboy smiled sweetly, and returned to his master's side. "I must have missed you yesterday. I would have remembered such a handsome young cowboy," Marcus said.

"Wilbur's mother visited the ranch for the weekend to see his new home and get to know us better. She lives and owns a large bar and restaurant in a small town in upper Oregon, and he left us to see her home safely yesterday. He didn't get back until early this morning to join me, my pa, and family for breakfast. Wilbur ain't been with us long, but he's already made a place for himself among my immediate family. We've become quite fond of him," Billy said.

"I can certainly understand why, Master Billy. I will look forward to getting to know you better, Wilbur," Marcus said.

"I would like to know you better, too, sir. While you are quite handsome to me, your face tells me you've traveled many miles and have gained great wisdom. Perhaps I could learn some important things from you, sir. My older friend who lives with me and my mother used to tell me I should leave myself open to mature wisdom as well as seek the new," Wilbur said.

"I would say your friend is a wise man, indeed, Young Master," Marcus said in return.

Billy looked at Nick who had a blank look on his face. << Leave it alone, Kemosabe! >> Billy heard in his head.

<< I hear'd that, Tonto. I'm run'n the other way as fast as my boots can carry me, >> Billy returned and Nick heard him laugh.

<< They both need an anchor and beneath that big, mean-looking, rough-cut facade of Marco's beats the heart of a tender and compassionate lover, >> Nick sent.

<< I totally agree, but I'm not beyond playing big brother for Wilbur. He ain't never had no sexual experience. He needs guidance, Tonto, >> Billy sent.

<< Bullshit! You never had any guidance, Kemosabe, but you handled yourself pert-damn good, >> Nick checked him.

<< Like Hell I didn't. I had two of the most seasoned lovers in the universe take me for my first times and compassionately taught me the joy and blessings of good sex, >> Billy returned, << But I see what you're getting at, Pa. Perhaps I'm underestimate'n Marcus, >> he added.

<< That's ma' boy! Marcus could be every bit as experienced and as skilled a lover as either me or old Boomer, >> Nick replied and grinned at Billy, << Ease up, Son, let nature take its course, >> he added.

"Erin and Odin need to get to their jobs. Why don't you make the rounds with me and my posse this morning, Marcus, and you gentlemen can get to know each other better?" Billy asked.

"I think I would enjoy being with your family and young Master Wilbur very much, Master Billy," Marcus replied.

Billy felt more at ease after Marcus' reply. With one small word of respect, Marcus put Billy's heart at ease. He was not a prison 'wolf' seeking a young vulnerable lamb to prey upon. Billy thought it was amazing how one subtle word of respect for Wilbur by referring to him as 'Master' could relay the big man's respect and compassion for the young cowboy's sensibilities while resetting his master's predator alarm from defcon D.O.M to a benign amber.

Perhaps his pa was right. Maybe Billy was underestimating Marcus. He remembered a conversation he had with Odin and Erin before they rescued Marcus; the big, massively built con was the only long termed prisoner they knew who never took another younger man for a mate during their time in prison, and it wasn't because he didn't have offers. Marcus was a much sought after man because of his physical size and his imposing ability to intimidate other prisoners. The word in the yard was, you didn't fuck with Marco. Odin Bluetooth shared with Billy, in Marcus' early years in prison he tried twice to have a relationship with two young men who became devoted to him, but he lost both of them to prison politics and jealousy. He made another attempt after his first mate was killed, but after the second one was brutally murdered, it broke him, and he blamed himself for having placed them in such a position. He could protect himself, but he couldn't always do the same for his mates.

Marcus never took another man for an intimate cell mate or steady sex partner. Billy wondered about Marco's original orientation, but he concluded it was very unlikely black-ops mentality would ever allow an agent into their ranks for whom they held the least suspicion about his sexual druthers. Marcus could still recall the homophobic speech the commander gave when he was assigned to infiltrate the Texas Rangers back in the middle teens. "Them cocksuckers just can't be trusted. They's vicious sum'bitches! Why, they'll sneak up behind you, throw you to the floor, rip yore' clothes off, and suck yore' cock down their throat like it was a plumber's helper, and you got a stopped up drain. They's slicker'n goose shit and can make you shoot your sacred baby-batter down their godforsaken throats faster'n greased lightening," the commander raged like a gospel preacher.

He continued, "The late sainted Pat Robertson said they might as well be eat'n yore' babies. Old Pat warned us, it was all part of the gay agenda to drink as much of your baby batter as they can to rob you of your sacred male essence and weaken your judgment. They's waging war agin us when they consume your babies. They's eat'n children you could be raising up to be good god fear'n Christians men like yourself, so's they'll vote like their daddies to keep them queers in their place under our boot heels and deny them nasty-butt-fuck'n varmints any civil rights. Do you want one a them infernal homos marrying your son? I should hope not. What would Aunt Agnus say when he brung the sugar-plum fairy home for the holidays and introduced him as his husband? Who knows, one a them sperm of yorn could sire you a son what might grow up to be another Ronald Reagan, or George W. Bush -- two of the greatest presidents our nation has ever been blessed with. Or they could be the founders of another Duck Dynasty; except, in Texas it probably should be the Hog Dynasty, because we got more a' them than ducks, but also in memory of another great governor of the lone star state, James S. Hogg, who named his daughters Ima and Ura Hogg.

"Once't they eat yore' babies, they'll ever-so-lovingly lick your cock and balls clean. Then they'll tell you how good it tasted and beg you for seconds. As tempted as you might be, believe me, you don't never wanna' give them bastards seconds. You do and you might be hooked for life. The next thing you know you'll be paying them for blowjobs, rye-cheer, deep in the heart of Texas. The worst part is, you may have nightmares for several years afterward about how tight their throats were, how soft their lips felt while they made love to your old hoss, and what a big-country cowboy load you done blow'd-hard down their gullet like an oil gusher shoots in Lubbock.
It might cause you to go into your old lady's bedroom and demand she give you a blowjob so's you can fuck her face good'n hard to get you over the memory and the nightmares. Good luck with that. And that's why we don't allow no queers in the Texas Rangers. Now, if we can only get our governor to trim his hair and stop acting like a dumb homo frat boy, maybe we can keep gay marriage out of Texas for at least another decade," the commander, the lone-star ranger said.   

Odin and Erin confirmed their master's conclusion, but added, prison levels the playing field when it comes to sexual orientation. Some men tried to sublimate their sexual activities by being the undisputed 'husband' of a coupling and reinforce his masculinity by being hard and needlessly aggressive to his partner using demeaning terms meant to change his partner into a female substitute. They would demand and take what they wanted with little or no affection; much like Christianist men treat their women and take them for granted. The old saying, "Keep 'um in the kitchen, barefoot, and pregnant," originated in Texas.  

To Marco's credit, he never treated either of his two young partners inhumanely. That alone, endeared the big man to them more than anything else; however, he developed his own psychological ploy to skate around the labels of 'hetero' and 'homo' which seemed to work well for him. He treated them like dogs; albeit, beloved companions. It was no-frills basic, but it made sense to Marco. He simply came to think upon his young male partner as his pet. He often referred to his bonded cell-mate as his 'pup.' While Marco respected them as men and appreciated what they freely gave to him, he quickly learned he could get anything he wanted from his partner with a little honest concern. Marco could be as strong and demanding as he pleased, if he slowly but steadily trained them to be the best companions and sex partners they could be for him. He was patient, respectful, compassionate, encouraged them with goodly consideration, and rewarded them with a healthy dollop of affection and compliments for a really outstanding performance.

The big Tuscan man neither spared his love nor did he ever physically punish his pets. If they displeased him, he carefully explained his reasons, and simply withheld his affections. It never failed to achieve its desired effect. After a while, they would come to him, kneel before him, kiss his feet, and beg him to forgive them. They would promise to work harder to please him and never make the same mistake again. Marco would magnanimously take them into his huge arms, hold them, kiss away their tears, forgive them, and then he would take them with such passion they never doubted his sincerity. Those were the times he remembered the best. Like any man who owns a well trained dog, he made them feel like they were the most important part of his life. Marco would reinforce their love by assuring them they had nothing to worry about, he loved them more than ever, and they became devoted to their master.  

It took the death of two male partners to cause an epiphany within Marco Ceasare Del Obbligatto. He remembered dogs he owned as a young man who were his beloved faithful companions. They passed away from either an accident or natural causes due to old age. He remembered how the loss made his heart physically ache for a good while after they were gone. He never felt that way about the loss of humans. He lost his mother, dad, and an older brother, with whom he was close, but he accepted it as a part of life, and after a reasonable period of grieving, he would get on with his life; however, for years afterward, the memory of his beloved pets could still reduce him to tears if he ran across a lost toy or a picture of one.

So it was with his two young men he trained to become his partners. His epiphany came when he began to make the connection between his dogs and his male-mates in prison. He chastised himself for making the comparison, but he couldn't escape the truth. After the death of his second mate, the bubble burst, the veil lifted, and the big Tuscan man was struck by an even greater epiphany. While it was a lovely metaphor, and it worked for him for a while, they were not dogs, and they were not his pets. They were men, and he loved them both beyond measure.  

He began to wonder if, by some miracle he got out of prison, he could ever find the love and understanding with a woman like he achieved with his two young male partners. You can't train a woman. The mere idea is repugnant in most civilized societies, unless you're a member of some far-out cult like the Mormons, Fundamentalist Quiver Full movement, or Middle Eastern religions who have almost no regard for women's rights and consider them little more than cattle. Besides, Marco considered the women from his past were easily influenced by their cycles which sometimes controlled their mood swings to such a degree he didn't care to invest the effort to cope with them.

'High maintenance' he referred to them, and easily walked away leaving them behind. Added to his rather unique situation, as an active member of a black-ops organization, he had little time away from Spooksville to devote to romance. Marco neither spent enough time nor was he ever able to form a close enough bond with a woman to want to settle down with her. (He called it his 007 syndrome. He rationalized his lack of continued interest in the fairer sex by suspecting James Bond very probably had a steady, burly boyfriend with whom he could let his hair down after one of his capers?) Marco found it easier and less complicated to pay-for-play and rarely experienced sex with a woman more than once.

Then came the final revelation to his epiphany. They say no man is an island, but Marco Del Obbligatto was an exception. He became an impenetrable rock, an island built from a volcano of untapped male hormones, emotions, and sexuality inside an insane sea of loneliness. After the loss of his last beloved mate, he decided never to try again. He chose to be alone and celibate, except for masturbation. When he took himself in hand, he never fantasized about a woman, but dreamed and conjured up sweet memories of having wonderful sex with his two cell mates he lost. It became a never ending cycle. Marco was never able to put them to rest long enough to consider training another partner. Neither did he wish to take the gamble he might lose another. He didn't relieve himself often, but when he did, he wondered if anyone ever married the ghosts of two lost loves and his own hand. They were all he had to keep him going.  

* * * * * * *
Billy saw the look on Marcus' face when he caught sight of Boomer. "You asked last evening what a watcher is, Marcus? This is Boomer, my number one slave, my watcher-protector, and my bonded mate. Boomer is my husband and the father of our unborn son, Billy Daniels Junior, who is currently in his fourth month inside a lovely Irin lady who is also one of my slaves," Billy said.

"Is Boomer also known as a Bigfoot, Master Billy?" Marco asked.

"He is. We have a stomping of them what roams the thickets on our ranches, and where they forage for food. We try to help them as much as we can, and they cooperate with us. We weren't blowing smoke up your ass last night about a watcher sleeping with you until your wings grow in. The males produce a wonderful milk, and it's the finest, most natural food in the universe. It will add greatly to your strength and stamina when you start fledging. Come over here and shake Boomer's hand, and if you ask him nicely, he might let you have a taste," Billy said and grinned wickedly.

Marco didn't turn green. While he did seem to lose a bit of color in his face, he wasn't a man to be afraid of a challenge. Boomer seemed like a well-groomed beast. Marco thought he might be domesticated if Master Billy weren't kidding about being his husband. How could that be? Boomer was enormous compared to Billy. Marco just accepted the fact he was a stranger in a strange land and should just go with the flow. He shook Boomer's huge hand and smiled. Boomer bowed slightly to Marcus.

"Would you like to show our pre-fledged new cowboy-angel we ain't pulling his leg, Little Brother?" Billy asked Wilbur.

"It will be my pleasure, Master Billy. May I Boomer?" Wilbur asked.

Boomer got a big smile on his face, reached out with his huge paw and pulled young Wilbur into an embrace. Boomer suckled Wilbur several times before and helped the young cowboy while he fledged. The giant beast took his other paw and gently guided Wilbur's head to his right teat and held him close. Wilbur began to suck and drink Boomer's sweet milk while making obscene noises of a happily contented Bigfoot teat-sucker. After a minute or two, Billy laughed at Wilbur and told him that was enough. Wilbur groaned his disappointment to everyone's amusement and pulled away. Boomer held the young cowboy and with his big black tongue cleaned his chin and around his mouth where he spilled some. "Thank you, Boomer. You are a gracious host," Wilbur said and stole a kiss from the monster. Boomer smiled at him and nodded.

"Would you like to sample some, Mr. Obbligatto?" Billy asked.

"Meaning no disrespect to you or your fine looking husband, I think I'll wait 'til later if you don't mind. I'm not used to such good food, and I'm afraid I stuffed myself at breakfast, sir. I'm satisfied for now. I have no problem with the idea if it's what it takes to grow my wings," Marcus said.

"That's fine. We'll see a lot more watchers today, and you can pick one you think you might like to attend you, but whatever you do, don't give him a name. If you give a watcher a name, it means you accept him in bond, and he will become your protector for life. There'll be plenty of time for that later," Billy explained.

Wilbur and Marcus followed Billy and his men around that morning. Wilbur was familiar with some things, but many parts of Billy's new world they were experiencing for the first time together. Billy toured the four enormous greenhouses to see the progress of the first crops of the Texas Tea plants, and they seemed to be flourishing. Since the greenhouses were constructed, there were four more just finished and the greenhouse team were in the process of getting set up. When they came upon the layout and beginnings of foundations for the new city Billy was building, the men were more than a little impressed. People were running here and there trying to get things done, but everywhere they went it seemed to be mass confusion. Some were working, but others seemed to be standing about with nothing to do. When Billy inquired what was the delay, he was told they couldn't begin work until the other crew was finished with their part.

Time is money and to have people standing around with nothing being accomplished was eating up capital. Even though Marcus was in awe with what Billy was trying to accomplish, Billy would see him look at a group who seemed to be working but weren't getting much done, and shake his head in disbelief. He saw Wilbur and Marcus get their heads together. They were discussing and pointing to different things going on and seemed like they were agreeing things were not going smoothly. Billy walked up to them, "Would you men care to comment or let me know what you're talking so intently about?" he asked.

"Meaning no disrespect, Master Billy, but I think we'll reserve our opinion until we see more, sir. Are we in agreement, Master Wilbur?" Marcus deferred to the young cowboy.

"I fully agree, sir, I think we'd like to see what plans or models you're working from, Master Billy," Wilbur said respectfully.

Billy looked at them and grinned. "Absolutely! By all means. No problem, Gentlemen, we'll take you to see the walk-through model and then to the main control center in the castle on the ship where Master Jethro and his team have the plans tacked up to the walls and spread around a great room," he said and invited them to walk with him. They transported to the ship and the balcony off the planning offices, and the men were stunned at the model of the great sapphire city. Billy took them through the diminution gate, and they arrived on the tram dock. Jethro alerted one of his dwarfs and soon a tram pulled up to take them to the monorail line. It was like nothing Wilbur or Marcus ever experienced before.

Billy gave them the entire tour, but got little feedback in return; however, once again the two men would drift away from their group, have their heads together making observations and comments, calling each others attention to something they saw back at the building site; shaking their heads in disagreement or nodding when they agreed. They devoured the blueprints referring to each other to make a correlation to another point on the plans or what they saw earlier. Shorty before noon, they seemed satisfied they saw everything they needed to see to answer Billy's question he asked earlier.

Billy called a halt for everyone to knock-off work for lunch and decided to have lunch with his work crew in the cafeteria on the ship. He looked at Nick as Wilbur and Marcus walked ahead of them talking low to each other thoroughly engaged in conversation. "What?" Nick asked, "Don't look at me. You have a tendency to only skim the surface of them reports on people the Irin send you about people like Marcus," his pa accused.  
"You know some'um I don't, Pa?" Billy asked.

"A lot. I watched the whole damn video," Nick said and grinned.

"You ain't gonna' tell me, are you?" Billy asked.

"Not this time. I gotta' give them ancients credit, they know what they's doing. How many times have you needed the right man for a job when they suddenly fall into your lap out of left field?" Nick asked in return.

"Okay, I ain't got no argument. You got me dead-to-rights. I don't particularly like to think about it because you gotta' admit, it's downright spooky. It's like they're moving folks around like pieces on a chessboard to get the best results. Are you saying Marcus was sent for more than just a rescue-key for your brothers?" Billy asked.

"Not only Marcus, Kemosabe. Keep going," Nick said a grinned.

"God I hate it when you're being obtuse, Tonto," Billy said and laughed, "Are you telling me Marcus and young Wilbur were planned to arrive about the same time, and they's a team?" Billy asked.

"I ain't say'n another word unless I'm so ordered by my young master, Kemosabe," Nick said.

"No, I won't do that. You threw up a red flag on the play. I wanna' see for myself," Billy said, hooked his arm into Nick's and placed his other hand on his arm, as they walked to the dining hall.

Jethro notified the staff their master and his posse would be joining them for lunch, and they were once again thrilled. They served large family style salads and a spicy vegetable gumbo over wild rice Billy introduced to them. He bought great quantities of wild rice for them, and they were beginning to grow it in their agricultural farms. Marcus and Wilbur sat together across from their master and his surrogate dad. They were cordial and polite. Marcus was the consummate gentleman and didn't try to dominate the conversation. As a matter of fact he didn't say much at all, and his young companion didn't either. As they were having their dessert of baked pears with cinnamon and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, Billy couldn't wait any longer. "I can't help be curious. Will you men please tell me what's on your minds?" he asked.

Marcus looked at Wilbur and nodded for him to tell their master what they were about. "You need a yard manager, Master Billy. A construction site project coordinator, and he needs an assistant. Together, we will need another four men for each project you got going. We've only seen the two so far, the greenhouses and the city, but if there's more, we will need more men accordingly," Wilbur said like he was quite sure of himself and his words.

Billy was impressed with his young cowboy-angel and smiled at him. "Is there more?" he asked.

"Master Marcus has an impressive background in construction site management. Before he was recruited into government black-ops programs, he worked for his older brother as his 'yard-dog' site manager. He built no less than four of the major buildings in downtown Houston, two in Dallas, three in Austin, and one in San Antonio. Without cutting corners or safety factors, he brought each project in on time and within projected budgets unless there were last minute changes insisted on by the clients which required more time and money. I will be his apprentice, assistant, and 'yard-pup' for your projects. We don't ask you to take our word for our talents, skills, or enthusiasm. Give us sixteen full work days, that's four of your weeks since you only work your people half a day on Fridays, and if you ain't pleased with us, we'll gladly step down and take whatever job you might find for us," Wilbur said like a young lawyer presenting his case.    

"Do you have anything to add, Master Marcus?" Billy asked.

"Obviously I wasn't very successful working for the government in black-ops, Master Billy, but my buildings are still standing. Surely you have means of checking my background with an operation as large as you have going here," Marcus said.

"He does, but he don't always pay attention to the fine print or the extended version of a man's background and achievements, Master Marcus," Nick spoke up, "I assure you, Kemosabe, young Master Wilbur's list of achievements for his chosen bossman are accurate, but not complete. He didn't include a string of shopping centers, apartment complexes, and a couple of churches as well," Nick added.

"When can you men start?" the giant red demon asked like he was about to jump across the table and consume Marcus and Wilbur with hugs and kisses. "Pardon, Master Billy," Jethro added and grinned.

"No pardon required, Master Project Manager, but I would like to hear these Gentlemen's answer," Billy said.

"How long will it take me to go through the fledging process, sir?" Marcus asked.

"About another forty-eight hours after you start to fledge which will probably be this afternoon or evening sometime; however, you should have a couple of days to learn to park your wings and transport from place to place; I would say next Monday morning at the latest," Billy allowed and Nick agreed.

"Yeees!" Jethro exclaimed in a great hiss as he jumped up leaned over the table and shook each man's hand, "Welcome to the team, Gentlemen. We'll be looking forward to working with you," Jethro added.   

"Mmm," Billy growled in his throat, "Red-man speak with forked-tongue, Tonto," Billy said to Nick in his best Lone Ranger voice.

"Of course he does, Kemosabe, all Kagoli have forked-tongues. So do you when you become my demon son," Nick said and laughed, "Why do you think I forbid you to say the name 'Shirley' when you morph?" he asked and laughed harder.

Billy laughed with him. "You men can morph like Jethro?" Marcus asked.

"Master Nick and Master Billy are quite handsome in their demon form, sir," Wilbur said.

"Yes, when we're home alone and want to relax, we sometimes morph and play daddy demon and his demon son," Billy said and grinned, "I learned recently, practically the rest of my extended family have learned as well," Billy added and laughed.

"It takes a while to adjust, Master Marcus," Wilbur said and smiled.

"I'll take your word for it, Son," Marcus replied.

It was time for Master Billy's crews to get back to work. Everyone said a fond farewell and left after complimenting the cooks and staff. Billy joined them and told the staff everything was excellent. As they were leaving the dining hall, in a great flash of light Bubba, Jack, Grover, and Bubba's Brute appeared before them. Bubba, and Jack disappeared for a second and returned without their wings.

"This is a nice unexpected visit," Billy said, hugging each man, and Brute, then introducing them to Marcus. Wilbur already knew them well. "What brings you men this way?" Billy asked.

"We done heard you's look'n for a watcher to help nurse your new cowboy-angel through his fledging, Master Billy," Jack said, "And since Grover's spending some time with us we invited him to come along," he added.

"We just finished lunch with David and Cletus. Brute insisted we come over. He wouldn't tell me why; said he'd tell us after we got here," Bubba said.

Billy went to Brute, gave him a hug and a kiss on his cheek. "You don't need no excuse to come visit anytime," Billy said, "What can we do for you, Brute?" he asked.

"Nothing for me, sir. Something for you, and your new cowboy-angel, Master Billy. I was called to Retikki Prime to bring my biological brother back to Earth with me to be Master Marcus's watcher-protector. He is a gift from the great Oracle who appeared to him in the desert of Turkey many years ago. Show yourself, Brother," Brute said firmly. Immediately, a handsome watcher who looked a lot like his older brother appeared next to Brute. He was a bright yellow color with white highlights around his facial hair which made him look almost angelic.

"My god he's stunning -- one of the most handsome watchers I've ever seen -- next to you, Brute," Billy added and smiled.

"Thank you, Master Billy," Brute said.

"Does he have a name?" Billy asked.

"Master Marcus is the only one who knows his name," Brute said.

"Yes, yes, I know his name," Marcus said and walked to the fine looking beast, "And do you have sweet milk, my handsome watcher?" he asked.

"As much as you wish, sir," the beast answered.
"And will it taste like your name?" Marcus asked.

"I can make it so, if you like, Master," he replied.

"I would like that very much. May I sample your milk, kind sir?" Marcus asked.

"Certainly, sir, you wouldn't buy a cow without tasting her milk," he replied and got a laugh from everyone.

Marcus moved toward the beast's teat, and with his huge paw the giant gently guided the big man to it. Marcus began to suck and his mouth was filled with the most wonderful vanilla flavor but slowly it began to change and while it was still sweet it developed a citrus bite to it until it became the full flavor of an Italian ice covered with Lemoncello. It was delicious and brought back such fond memories of his home in Tuscany the big man began to weep. He took several large gulps and pulled off. He threw his arms around the beast, gave him a hug, and kissed his furry cheek.

"What? What does it taste like, Marcus?" Billy asked like a little boy.

"You taste his milk and tell me," Marcus said.

Billy took a couple of hits, swallowed, then a couple more. Finally he pulled off. "That's unbelievable. It's incredible. I thought they all tasted alike. I never knew they came in different flavors. It's like a lemon cordial or a lemon ice. It's fantastic. But what's it got to do with his name?" Billy asked.

"It's an old drink made in my home in Tuscany called Lee-mon-chey-low. That's his name, sir," Marcus said. "And them ancient critters I hear Master Billy and his men talk about sent you to me as a gift?" he asked Lemoncello.

"If you you will have me, sir, I would be proud and honored to serve you and your young assistant," Lemoncello replied.

"Want you? Of course I want you, but what would happen if someone was to deny you, Son?" Marcus asked.

"I would be taken back to Retikki Prime and terminated, sir," Lemoncello replied.

"Jesus, H. Christ, of course I want you!" Marcus exclaimed, "I would never allow something like that to happen to such a handsome creature," Marcus threw his arms around Lemoncello and wept, "What kind of fuck'n universe are we living in?" he wailed.

"Gees, Marcus, I can certainly empathize with your feelings and appreciate your own healthy empathy for Lemoncello, but remember, we just rescued you from the pit of death. I'm amazed you asked that question? You, Odin, and Erin above everyone gathered in this room should understand there are people and intelligent creatures still living in untenable situation in every part of our world, perhaps even the universe, but on an individual basis, there ain't much we can do about it; however, I don't think Lemoncello's situation is as bad as it might sound. I will share with you two similar incidents, other experiences which might make you reconsider your thoughts. By the same token, we ain't shared everything we know about your ultimate fate if we left you in Huntsville.

"Blue and Baby Blue know, and may share with you at some later time when you're stronger and ready to listen. We can only correct one wrong at a time, but the more resources we build and bonded family members we gather the more we can do. You must never lose sight, you were brought among us not only for yourself, but for your new family, and to help create a more gentle understanding society, the likes of which, has never been seen on Earth before. You done the right thing by accepting Lemoncello. It's a major step in the right direction for you and tells me you will fit in here even better than I might have hoped. I don't think you will be disappointed by your decision to take on a new family member. I know I never have been," Billy said.

"I meant no disrespect, Master Billy, only deepest empathy for my new friend, and as you described him, my new family member," Marcus replied.

"None taken, Marcus. We understand. There are others still in prison who are there only for minor drug charges or political reasons and being branded as terrorist for standing up and speaking out about the abuses of their constitutional rights. That's why we must create a new society and live a different statement. We must cast off the failures of the past and learn to live in harmony with each other and the nature of our world where everyone may have the same chance to progress, but those less gifted or whose lives have become complicated and wounded by the slings and arrows of hard lives, should neither be punished by circumstances nor made to live in abject poverty," Billy said.

Billy didn't elaborate on the similar situation he, Boomer, and indirectly Nick, experienced with Boomer's uncles. He was wise enough to realize everything was being recorded, and he didn't wish to cause them any further embarrassment. He would relate the story later to Marcus when they were out of sync with time and space in a separate dimension, like the cloakroom, where communication devices of any kind other than telepathy fail to work.

He never discussed it with Nick, because his surrogate dad was still under the impression he would be terminated if he didn't conform with the old universal law he must become Billy's slave because the young cowboy saved his life. Billy was wise enough he hoped from other visits and communications from his uncle-in-laws the ancient form of intimidation would be done away with. If not squelched completely, it should be downgraded to an individual choice to obey the old ways or live with the guilt. Even to agree to live as an indentured slave to a good master for a period of time would be better than termination.

* * * * * * *
The rest of the day was spent touring the other building projects. Billy and his posse were joined by Bubba, Brute, Grover, Jack and Marcus's new family member, Lemoncello, who eventually became known as 'Lemond.' (Pronounced: Lee-mond) as Marcus would refer to him in his Tuscany dialect. Names have a way of transmogrifying until they find a comfortable niche. The three newest members were agog at the rest of Master Billy's projects and listened intently to conversations the men were carrying on. Billy asked Bubba how things were going on his ranch.

"Tolerable, right tolerable," Bubba replied and smiled. Jack and Grover looked at each other and laughed.

"Is he telling me the truth, Gentlemen," Billy asked Bubba's close friends.

"He's gonna' find out sooner or later, Bubba," Grover said.

"We got some new projects going. You remember about a month ago you weren't here, and I asked your Uncle Nate to let me in the safe to get a couple of things from my uncle's strong box?" Bubba asked.

"Yeah, vaguely. I remember Uncle Nathan said something to me. I didn't pay it much mind. I figured you got a right to your uncle's papers and knew what you were doing," Billy said.

"I remembered a paper Uncle Brad left on top in an envelope about categories and learning instruction. Aunt Helen was still in your main house at the time, and I asked her to reduce what I wanted, put it into a file on a thumb-drive so's I could peruse them off line. She done a good job, and I been going through his plans for the ranch he never shared with me nor took the time to implement. You wouldn't believe some of his ideas, but the best part is, after the awakening of my enhancements when I was a kid on Retikki Prime, I could understand them. I mean down to the mathematical calculations and projections. I got plans to implement them but before I do it, I need to build me some more living quarters for more Irin workers, if you can spare them," Bubba said.

"I'll certainly be happy to talk with you about it and work something out. Would it help us and the other ranches as well?" Billy asked.

"Absolutely!" Jack said and Grover agreed with him, "How to make a ranch an enormous organic food creator and recycling machine which uses nothing but natural means to accomplish its goals," Jack added.

"Incredible stuff, from free energy, to the actual creation of fertile lands from rocky soils, to creating your own atmosphere to control the weather. Each ranch could become a microcosm of perfectly healthy paradises of food production and growth. It's all right there in Brad Kirkendall's papers in black and white. Ain't no doubt in my mind it could be accomplished with minimal investment and physical work. After a certain point, you make the ranch itself take over the work, and if minimally tended will operate efficiently for years," said Grover.
"What if we set up your place to be a prototype?" Billy asked.

"That's what we's hope'n for, Master Billy. We already got us some projects underway, but before much longer, we're gonna' need extra help," Bubba said.

"When can we come over and take a look?" Billy asked.

"Anytime you can get away. We know you got your mind on rescuing the rest of Captain Nick's brothers, and if we can be of help let us know," Bubba said.

"We will, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what you got going. Can you men stay for supper?" Billy asked.

"Sure, we ain't got nothing scheduled for this evening. We'll let David and Cleet have the place to themselves. They sometimes like to go down to the old barn and share a meal with their watcher family," Bubba replied.

Billy and his posse came upon a group of cowboys working with the regular cattle. Working just as steady and hard as the other men were Master Billy's three punishment slaves, Orville, Harley-Buck, and Earl Hickson. They were dressed in their usual harnesses and cod pieces with boots and hat. Billy wouldn't allow them to wear their plugs until after they finished work for the day. It was dangerous enough working as cowboys to add one more difficulty to the equation. Billy learned his lesson with Harley-Buck. The big cowboy-slave wore his rings with pride. He even made Orville feel proud of his rings. Naturally, Marcus wanted to know about them and why two wore rings, but the other one didn't. Billy explained the difference between regular volunteer slaves and punishment slaves.

He was originally going to have every punishment slave ringed, but he changed his mind after Erin came to the ranch. He explained, he figured Erin suffered enough in prison, he didn't need any other signs he was a punishment slave. Everyone knew it, but treated him with the same respect as everyone else. Harley-Buck, on the other hand, risked his life to save a runaway pony's life and asked to be rewarded by a set. Billy granted his wish and made up his mind at the time, he would only ring those who wanted to be ringed as a reward for something above and beyond the call of duty. Marcus and Wilbur shared their admiration for Orville and Harley-Buck's body jewelry.

It was getting late in the day and Billy called for his slaves to knock off work and clean up for the evening. They wanted to see Marcus and Wilbur back to the ship. Billy invited Wilbur to have supper up to the big house with him and his guests, but Wilbur graciously declined. He wanted to stay with Marcus and see him through his fledging. Billy smiled at the young cowboy, "You're pretty taken with that old ex-con, ain't chu, Cowboy?" he asked rhetorically. Billy already knew the answer.

"I will never lie to my master, but there may be things you don't understand, Master Billy. I've dreamed about someone like Marcus to come along and love me for a very long time. I knew it was Marcus the first time I looked upon his face. I don't know why. I ain't particularly good. I try to help when I can, but for some reason, he's been sent to me. I know he's much older than I am, but since you refurbished him he could be my older brother or --" Wilbur didn't complete his sentence, and blushed.

"Your dad, Wilbur?" Billy asked.

"Yes, sir. I don't even know if he might be interested in me, but I have to try, sir. I need Marcus, and I think he needs me, Master Billy. When we were talking about your projects it was like we were working as a team," Wilbur said more assured of himself that he ever was before.

"I won't argue the point. I think you need each other. I been where you are right now. I think that's why you and I become brothers. Neither of us really had no dad to speak of. My granddad was taken away from me when I was ten. My Uncle Nate was good to me, but he never tried to be no dad. Them ancient races done sent me Captain Nick to become my surrogate dad. I won't presume to advise you, Son, but hold some back for yourself. I worry about you getting hurt. I don't think you will be. There are too many signs you and Marcus were brought together for a purpose, and as soon as he fledges, I will know for sure. Go with him, but take it slow. He's an old hand at dealing with young men. Listen to him and let him train you. You'll be glad you did," Billy said wishing the young cowboy well. Billy was trying to be a big brother, but reminded himself, he was only a year older than Wilbur. He worried he might be unwittingly sending mixed messages to the young man.

Billy left Marcus, Wilbur, and Lemond with Odin and Baby Blue in their apartment. They were getting ready to go down to the dining hall for supper. "Do you plan to stay with Marcus through his fledging, Son?" he asked Wilbur.

"Yes, sir, I helped with Sheriff Andreeson and Gower's fledging and cut them both. If I have any problems, Master Oatie and Project Manager Jethro are joining us for supper. Beside, I got Odin and Erin in the same apartment with us. They'll give a call if we need help, sir. Thank you for trusting me, Master Billy," Wilbur said.

"Of course I trust you, Son. I have faith in you and know you're capable. Marcus is in good, loving hands. I just hope he realizes how lucky he is," Billy replied knowing in his heart he was being foolish. He just couldn't help mother-hen, Wilbur. Their pasts were so much alike, Billy felt a strong connection. He wanted desperately for it to work out for the young cowboy.

Nick raked Billy's ass over the coals when they were alone together, and they weren't even in Kagoli form. "Some things you can't control, Kemosabe. It just might be the greatest union of two souls we may ever have a chance to witness. Maybe even greater than Gilgamesh and Enkidu and they weren't even of the same species. They both have suffered pretty singular lives. I'm betting the merging of two singularities will create a whole new universe for them two more wonderful than all them stars we created from our bell ringing sessions combined," Nick predicted, "Tomorrow will tell the tale when we see his wings," Nick said like the voice of a prophet.

* * * * * * *
The kitchen staff went out of their way to fix a special supper with one of their charges getting ready to fledge into a cowboy-angel and with Jethro and Master Oatie Breedlove as the guests of the staff and village people. Everyone was in a good mood and anticipating great things with the news Master Marcus and Master Wilbur would be working closely with them. In a more mundane consideration, it meant they could take on three, maybe even four more kitchen-dining room staff to help with the extra work. There would be a goodly increase in their weekly salaries, as well. They couldn't have been more happy. Jethro was beside himself he was finally getting the help he needed and could concentrate more on his job and not have to be interrupted when called out to the site upwards of five to ten times a day to direct traffic and settle disputes.

As the men were laughing and having a good time, the giants wanted to know who would be joining them in the tubs after supper. Almost every hand went up from the group. Jethro waited for his master's input. Through Jethro's stories of his work, Oatie came to appreciate office politics and the hierarchy of benevolent control to gain maximum cooperation from your staff. Sometimes schmoozing with your family of employees went a long way to form strong bonds and strengthen allegiances. He knew Jethro wanted to stay for a while to cement relations with his staff and the heads of the new positions of 'yard-dog' and 'pup.'

Oatie still had their honeymoon ahead to look forward to, and he knew if Marcus and Wilbur were firmly entrenched in their positions, Jethro would be more at ease and able to devote himself fully to their romantic get-away. He wanted his husband's full attention and not have him worrying about work. It was an easy decision for Oatie. He enjoyed the diversity of the giants and the other odd-ball characters housed in the castle. They were becoming a close lot, and he always wanted to be included in their inner circle as well as being the husband of one of their most popular project managers.

The men came down to the steaming tubs and the grooms were there to accommodate anyone wanting Texas Tea or to be groomed for the evening. Odin and Baby Blue provided Wilbur and Marcus with robes to wear down the back stairs. It was warm and everyone went barefooted. Marcus went off to his bedroom and invited Wilbur to join him to change. Wilbur followed dutifully like he wanted Marcus to be in charge. They removed their clothes, and in a moment of hesitation, then exasperation, they turned to look upon each other. Wilbur stood looking at the fullness of Marcus's massive body and large appendage, with correspondingly ample testicles, and the young cowboy almost became light headed. Marcus was equally impressed by the enhanced package Master Billy bestowed upon his younger brother, but the big, mature man wasn't seeing Wilbur's handsome, fully packed body. Marcus was projecting ahead in his mind three years down the road and watched as his imagination turned Wilbur's firm body into a that of a young god. Marcus knew he could do it. It was only a matter of time, encouragement, cooperation, and leadership on his part. He was stunned by what he saw.

He opened his huge arms to Wilbur. "Is it too early to get a brotherly hug and a kiss from my caretaker this evening?" he asked.

Wilbur was in his arms in an instant and they kissed a gentle kiss. It was perfect. They held each other as they both became erect. "Do not fear me, little one. I promise I will never take advantage of you," Marcus said and sealed his troth with another gentle kiss, "Thank you, Son, now let's join the others," he said and Wilbur complied. They donned their robes and walked down the stairs followed by Lemond. The grooms automatically took Lemond aside. They took him to the showers. Cleaned him from top to bottom, blow dried him, and combed out his fine thick hair and powdered him for his evening of seeing to his master.

The men spent a relaxed time in the tubs. Marcus and Wilbur didn't say much. They sat holding hands under the water. They weren't fooling anyone, but everyone was empathetic and thrilled for them. After an hour or so Wilbur asked Marcus to lean forward. The hot water masked any pain he might be feeling, but his wing-nubs were swollen to the point of popping through the surface of his skin. The others saw it and marveled.  Oatie came to look and decided they should get Marcus upstairs to his bed as soon as possible. Wilbur wouldn't let him put on his robe. He explained, it would only irritate the skin, and Marcus didn't need to be modest when he was among family. Marcus smiled to himself from the authority and strength of purpose his young keeper displayed. He dutifully obeyed his smaller companion. Master Oatie and Jethro followed the men up the stairs to Odin and Erin's apartment and to Marcus's bedroom.

They got Lemond in bed first and instructed Marcus to lay in his beast's arms and began to drink his milk. Marcus didn't ask any questions, he did as he was told, and was amazed at how comfortable and relaxed he became in Lemond's great arms. His beast's milk was wonderful and the great watcher-protector began to sing to Marcus which took away any fear, apprehension, or pain. Oatie came along to supervise, and motioned for Wilbur to do the cutting. He knew the young cowboy-angel was skilled. It was a relatively simple operation and Wilbur was sure of himself; however, he did ask Master Oatie to follow his cuts and heal them instantly. Oatie agreed. The cutting of Marcus took only a few minutes. The bloody nubs of his new wings popped-up through the skin and began to grow. Wilbur placed his hand on the back of Marcus's head and put him into a deep sleep. Lemond licked and cleaned his master with his large black tongue, but Marcus's ship already set sail for the land of nod; a land of peace and regeneration. He remembered nothing until he heard the voice of young Wilbur calling softly for him the next morning.

Confident the young master had everything under control for a successful fledging for another one of Master Billy's cowboy-angels, everyone left and Wilbur relaxed in the large overstuffed chair next to Marcus's bed. After pulling a sheet and a light blanket over Marcus and Lemond, he relaxed in the inviting chair and drifted off to sleep. He dreamed peaceful dreams and didn't wake until he felt a hand take his. Wilbur awoke and looked down to see Marcus holding his hand, but he was still fast asleep in Lemond's arms. Wilbur didn't let go and drifted off to sleep to join his new friend.

Wilbur was transported to a beautiful seaside where the sun was shining bright and sea birds were flying, calling to each other as the waves made a gentle sound as they dashed themselves against the great rocks which formed a cove and a private beach. Wilbur was holding Marcus in his arms as the huge Tuscan man's massive new wings grew into place. He suddenly realized Lemond was kindly sharing the wonderful experience with him. Lemond's gesture of compassion by including the young human told Wilbur the great beast was not to be feared as an adversary but to be considered a blessing as a strong ally.  

* * * * * * *
Wilbur and Lemond managed to get Marcus dressed in his Wranglers and cowboy boots, but he would have to wear his new wings down to breakfast. Wilbur volunteered to bring him a tray from the dining hall, but Marcus was determined he could join the rest of his family. He was working hard, trying to learn to stand and walk with the heavy appendages. He couldn't understand the strange smile, almost a smirk, young Wilbur wore on his face. He chalked it up to an unspoken tease that the young man probably adjusted quicker. Wilbur's smile had nothing to do with teasing.

Anxious to see how Marcus was coming along, Billy and his family transported to Captain Nick's ship and went directly to Odin and Erin's apartment. Erin met them at the door and explained Big Blue and Lemond were walking Marcus back and forth to get him accustomed to balancing the considerable weight of his new wings. Erin ushered the men and Boomer into the room. Billy caught sight of Marcus's wings and almost broke up laughing when he felt his pa's elbow in his ribs and quickly caught himself. "Sweet Jesus, Marcus couldn't you have grow'd a prettier set of wings?" Billy teased him. They were actually quite beautiful. They were a light power blue color, changing to deeper blues, and finally deep indigo hue; almost black toward the tips of his feathers around the edges. The were exactly like Wilbur's wings.

"I did my best, sir, but blue is my favorite color and to my way of thinking the combination is very handsome," Marcus replied.

"I'm only kidding, Master Marcus. They are a strikingly handsome pair of wings. You should be very proud of them," Billy said.

"I am, sir, and I'm beginning to feel more accustomed to them. If I take it slow and have a great beast on both arms, Lemond and Boomer perhaps, I think I can make it to breakfast," he said bravely.

"You need food, then come back up here with your family, drink more watcher milk, and relax for a while. There's nothing urgent for today so you can take it easy," Billy said and motioned for Boomer to take Odin's place to give the big man a bit more support.

"Have you men told him yet?" Billy quietly asked Wilbur.

"No, sir, we ain't had the nerve. I told Master Odin and Erin I wanted your support and approval before we told him anything," Wilbur replied.

"Tell me what, young'un?" Marcus asked.

"Go ahead-on, Son, show him," Billy urged Wilbur.

The young cowboy removed his western shirt, disappeared for a second, and reappeared fully fledged with his heavy black leather harness. Wilbur's wings were an exact copy of Marcus's.

"Hosanna!" said Erin in awe.

"Hosanna, in the highest!" replied the rest of the men.

"Oh, my God! Was this your doing, Son?" Marcus took Wilbur into his arms and held him tight.

"I can assure you, Wilbur had nothing to do with the color of your wings, Master Marcus," Billy said firmly, "This was planned by higher powers than we got as a message to all of us. You may interpret it anyway you like, but to me it's a strong admonishment not to try to second guess or interfere with their plans or wishes. What does it say to you, Master Marcus?" Billy asked.

"We were meant for one another. They want us to be together," he replied quietly and stole a kiss from Wilbur.
"I'd say it was a pretty sure bet. Every paired couple in our family, their wings are the same," Billy said.

"Really? Blue and Baby Blue?" Marcus asked. They shook their heads in unison. "Well, I'll be damned," he said quietly.

"No, you been blessed," Billy contradicted him and everyone laughed.

* * * * * * *
Boomer helped Lemond walk Marcus down the stairs into the dining hall. Everyone stopped what they were doing to see the new cowboy-angel's wings and applauded their approval. Billy and his family said their goodbyes and promised to check on his progress later in the day. They transported to the big house to have breakfast with their family. Billy and his immediate family no sooner arrived when the phone rang in the kitchen.

Nathan answered. "Daniel's ranch, Nathan speaking," he said and listened for a minute, "Sure, Sheriff, he's here. Just a minute," Nathan said and handed Billy the phone.

"Good morning, Sheriff, what can I do for you, sir?" Billy asked.

"Me, dad, and ma' little brother come into town early to have breakfast at Willow Creek before I start my day. We ain't even got to the restaurant yet. They's a mature cowboy in an older truck, Montana license plates, a double horse trailer, two horses, and two cow dogs in the bed parked in front of the station. We stopped to see if he was in trouble or needed emergency help. He's fine. He just wanted instructions how to get out to your place. Seems the watchers in his area of Montana done told him you was rounding up some giants; men of old; men of renown; said you would understand, and his name is Zeke Mildew," Will Tate said with merriment in his voice.

"Did you tell him you's one of our posse?" Billy asked.

"I didn't tell him nothing 'cept I'd give you a call," Will replied and giggled.

"Why don't you men drive out and have breakfast wiff' us and have him follow? We'll wait for you," Billy suggested.

"Sounds like a plan. I like Ms. Kate's cook'n better'n Willow Creek's any day," Will said and laughed.

Will walked back over to the men with a big grin on his face. "We been invited out to the Daniel's ranch for breakfast, Gentlemen. So, if you just follow us, Mr. Mildew, we'll take you out there. H'it ain't a fur piece," Will said in his best cowboy lingo. He knew the old man would pick up on it.

"Is you men some of Master Daniels' boys, Son?" Zeke asked in a comfortable drawl.

"We are, sir, we been enhanced and each have fledged. You got a watcher in the back of your truck, sir?" Will asked and smiled.

"E'aup, he's in the back wiff' ma' dogs. He's been my protector for over two hun'nert years. I call him 'Pooh Bear,'" the cowboy replied. "You think they might have a few scraps for him and ma' cow-dogs, sir?" he asked.

"They'll fix you up, Brother Mildew. You can take my word for it, they's good folks. You'll like them," Will said and smiled.

"If'n they's anything like you and your family, I'm sure I will, Son," Zeke complimented Will.

"Why, thank you, sir. Just follow us out, and we'll tell the guard cattle to let you pass," Will said.

"Irin cattle?" Zeke asked.

"Yes, sir," Will replied.

Zeke smiled, tipped his hat, and headed for his truck. He followed the Tates out to the Daniels ranch.

"Do ya'll think Billy will fall in love with him or what?" Will Tate asked his family on the way out.

"He should! They speak the same language," Buster said, and they shared a laugh.
When Billy hung up the phone, he explained a need for a brief delay of breakfast as the sheriff was coming with his family and an old cowboy from Montana what says he's one of the fallen angels and traveled all the way to join up with us," Billy said.

"What's his name, Son," Nick asked.

"Will said he called himself Zeke Mildew," Billy replied.

"Ezekiel!" exclaimed Nick. Clyde and Balthazar and the other family angels agreed it must be him.*

"He's one of the archangels. I heard he went to live among the indigenous people in the new world to escape the roundup. He became a great medicine man to several tribes. They called their healers 'midews'; probably, because they didn't have an 'L' sound in their language at the time. 'Mildew' comes down from earliest languages as the morning moisture on plants the Sumerians thought had healing properties and prolonged life," Nick explained.

"It will be good to see him again, "Clyde said, "He was one of the most rebellious of our brothers and was always getting his'self into trouble for trying to help humans have a better life. Ezekiel was put down and severely punished by our reptilian overlords; however, later he was assigned as one of the archangels to lead the round up to place us in stasis. Instead of complying and betraying us, he went from one to the other to tell us what they planned to do. Only a handful believed him and either hastily made other plans or were physically removed by other advanced races. It's only because of Zeke we're here today. He was the one who went to the Grigori and Irin to seek their help," Clyde finished.

Billy and his men met the Tates and Zeke Mildew in the compound. There were many brotherly hugs, heavy-duty pats on the back, swearing, and stolen kisses from Billy's angels, Nick, Clyde, Cowboy Andy, Mack, Garth, Balthazar. Slipweasel and Rumdum were living on the ship and were taking their meals with the giants in the dining hall. The Daniels' cowboy-angel family was growing too large to accommodate everyone in the main house. The men went into breakfast. Boomer already ate his breakfast, and Billy dispatched him and the McMartin watcher, Caesar, to take some slave chow out to Zeke's watcher and cow dogs in the back of his truck. Zeke was introduced around and given a warm hill country welcome by everyone. They talked about many things. Learning what he could from his own angels about Zeke, Billy assumed the mature cowboy might know more than his group about the politics of the final days of the early angels and their ultimate fate. He wanted to know what happened to the angels who were the muscle for the overlords and responsible for the final round-up of the angels.

"Using your own applicable metaphor for the combination of the two terms, I'm sorry to say, I was once considered one of the overlord's main muscle-men cowboy-angels. We not only had to carry out their every order, we also got caught in the back-draft from the fallout of their stupidity and mistakes. They were asking those who were created for a specific purpose to perform other functions which weren't included in our original programming. We found ourselves between a rock and a hard place. We were damned if we did and many thought we were twice as damned if we didn't.

"We discovered something about the evolutionary path of humans our overlords didn't know, and it's my belief not one of us ever shared it with them. Later they found out for themselves and began to investigate by abducting people and putting them through horrible tests and monitoring them. Over the centuries, man evolved a bi-cameral brain which, in many ways, was superior to the overlord's. However, one must not forget the overlords had thousands of years longer to evolve into their own civilizations, but they knew they were heading for extinction because they began to mess with their own genes until they created a society of a staunch cast system where there were only a handful who knew everything and only allowed so many of their kind and various subordinate worker classes to survive. Thus came all the myths of Gods living on Olympus who only existed to be worshiped and manipulate the peasants living on Earth under their thumbs.

"No matter how you look at any religion, it's always the same, from multiple gods, to one supreme deity. They gather all the wealth, be it money or precious metals, and power unto themselves, and they dictate their desires and wisdom, if any, to the unwashed masses struggling to survive and pull themselves up from the primordial mud. It's been imprinted on the human mind for so many centuries, when you get a greatly divided society like we have today, you will still find the more fearful and conservative of the peasants fighting tooth and nail to protect the one or two percent who have managed to manipulate, rob, and steal from the middle class and the poor. It was planned that way from the beginning. It's genetically imprinted on their minds. Robin Hoods will not be tolerated.

"The biggest mistake the reptilian overlords made, was to cancel out all random mutations in themselves until they reached what they considered a pure and perfect race of beings. Talk about bad planning. There is no such thing as perfection within a species. Mutations can cause terribly flawed offspring or create others of awesome beauty and advanced understanding who may be able to tap into visions of greater things to come. To reach a point where a minority of any society decides everything is prefect like it is, and there shall be no more evolving, is the height of hubris and the horror of conservative thinking.

The poor dears didn't just forget how to evolve, they engineered it out of their evolution. By doing so, they signed their own death warrants. Even after they began to observe the huge jumps in intelligence in humans, they lost the ability to understand the need for themselves. They just never could quite grasp the idea of evolution and evolving. Their race, though highly advanced, reached a point they never varied in their approach to problems or developed a greater understanding of the universe. For the sake of ultimate control they gave up natural selection and settled for a bag of sameness in which they never changed. They gave the term 'status quo' new dimensions. It might even be called 'stagnant quo.'

"Us angels were basically made to be meat and muscle machines; highly intelligent information processors, but being organic in origin and construct, we came fully functional except for procreation. We possessed the built-in ability to evolve and grow into far more than the purpose for which they bought us. We had the ability to have every emotion and soon learned right and wrong, empathy, compassion, and even love. We also learned to reason and hate. Our purpose was to act as prison guards for the masses of humans who were created to be nothing more than slaves and work animals to rob their planet of its mineral riches and magnetic engine materials for the overlords which they greatly needed for their vehicles.

"Education, arts, music, drama, literature, science, mathematics, philosophy, and even the more metaphysical parts of religions will slowly begin to advance a civilization and ultimately project it into another realm of consciousness. The reptiles and the grays gave up those things for the sake of undying uniformity; for the sake of sameness; austerity at its worst. They became artless and forgot how to create beauty. What pleasure is there to live forever if you have no art? If you create nothing and become a parasite to the ethos? The mere creation of a work, be it music, painting, crafts, writing novels, poems, plays, singing, dancing, or celebrating life by being an excellent and talented coder or care taker, connects you with the universe, and a part of you, the God-head within you understands what you create, will live forever. No information is ever lost, even if a black hole was to swallow up our galaxy tomorrow. What you create today will still be retrievable eons from now.*

"And for the last ten thousand years the reptiles have been observing and studying humans trying to reintroduce into their biology the things which make up the human 'soul,' but they have failed miserably. It's too late for them. You can't jump-start genius. It only comes about by evolution. Basically, they have engineered themselves into oblivion. They can only keep recreating themselves like ginger bread men out of an oven who will look alike and act the same without any motivating force other than to be workers or remain overlords. They have become a parasitic race contributing nothing to the universe. The reptilians have three classes, and they have three models of grays. The royal class of reptilians control everything, then the scientific 'doctor' class, and servant class. They are immortal in the sense they can transfer their intelligence from an old body to a new one and so can their scientific class. The servant class ain't allowed new bodies. They are grown and trained. When their time is up or their model becomes obsolete, they are terminated; and by terminated, I mean eaten.

"The grays have the same cast society; the large-bodied manager class; the intermediate sized 'doctor' class, and the small drones. All classes are expendable, but the manager class and scientific class live much longer lives than drones. The drones are expendable and can be grown in quantities. They have limited intelligence transferred to them while they're still in the growing vats. When they get too old, they just round them up and push them into a vat of a strong biological acid which recycles their chemicals to create another generation of gray drones. Endless recycling of one kind cancels any need for evolution, but it becomes stagnant with no art greater than control and endless boredom. Alas, without art, they lost the ability to jump-start their evolution engines. They have become a hive mentality, which ain't really fair to compare with some of the more evolved hive critters in every galaxy. The honey bee is a work of perfection. Most hive insects on Earth are still capable of evolving unless the chemical overlords of man wipe them out first.

"The reptilian critters created the grays to have a hive mindset and only exist for the sake of the whole without an ounce of consideration for themselves. They are drones with no emotions or feelings for any species other than a dedication to work, protect, and provide for their overlords. We were bought in hopes of becoming 'messengers' or go-betweens for the overlords to the people. Did we appear as snakes to Eve in the garden? No. The concept of metaphors is the basis for most religious myths, and like everything invented by any society, will be biased by political ideals and installed as truth, by force if necessary, by the most repressive part of society. It is carefully structured to insure and support the conservative minority's strangle hold for their selfish purposes of what is and what is not allowed to be believed. While there may be a grain of truth to some myths, most are products of overwrought imagination or purposely created to manipulate the masses. Once a 'true believer' has decided to switch off his 'reason' gene, he is committing suicide; not only for himself, but also for his children, and the rest of society at large. He has essentially joined the parasitic race.

"Your Captain has suffered the brunt of the guilt for nasty political propaganda created over the centuries. He was singled out as the heavy in the creation story of humans due to ultra-conservative minds writing history to insure their point of view. Hell, we were all guilty of the same thing, but if slanted partisan propaganda and downright lies can make saints out of low-life scum like Ronald Reagan and the lowest-growing shrub of the Bush family, why should it be surprising an angel with a good heart and a liberal mind can be made to play the role of a demon monster? There again, you get different readings from ancient texts and no two agree. One writing says the devil was punished by casting him into a fiery pit for eternity and another says he's the angel who rules over Hell. You can't have it both ways. However, maybe Hell wouldn't be such a bad gig. All the fun people are going to be there anyway," Zeke said and everyone laughed.

"Why is Nick sometimes portrayed as a demon and other times as a snake in the garden?" Billy asked.

"The bible and most religious writing are biased not toward the message of the Christ or messiah but cleverly written to admire and encourage the worst parts of the reptilian overlords. Us fallen angels were accused of taking the daughters of men as wives and having children with them what turned out to be giants. That would have been a neat trick, but every damn one of us is mules. We have the equipment and can do the dirty deed, but we can't multiply our kind. If we could, there was always the possibility we could multiply too quickly, grow into a larger society and become a threat to the overlords. It was all a lie to cover up the genetic failures the overlords made with their hybridization programs. There again, it depends on who writes the history or tells the tales around a campfire to be passed on to younger generations. Most of the major religious writings were created from myths and stories told by shamans and each adds or subtracts depending on his point of view," he added.

"The snake is the symbol for the lowest of creatures. 'He shall crawl on his belly like a snake for the rest of his days,' the bible say, but it's pretty obvious that's the way the early church fathers wanted Samu'el represented. If you research the subject of Satan or the Devil on the Undernet with one a them 'lectro-willie-gates machines you will find hundreds of references with different names attributed to demons with specialized powers associated with Lucifer or any of the many other names he's known by. It makes you wonder how many demons does it take to keep them lawyers in line," Zeke said and got a groan out of several of the cowboys. Everyone laughed at them.

"You must have some lawyers in your family, Master Billy," Zeke observed and grinned.

"Two and one judge, sir," Billy replied.

Zeke continued his story, "The truth about the garden of E-dan is, the earliest humans were told not to eat certain foods because their overlords were worried the enzymes might possibly trip sensitive genetic information within the slaves what would make them more 'aware' of their situations of being a slave race, and they might rebel. Of course it's all right for them reptilian overlords to kidnap men, women, and children to do their tests on, genetically alter young kids, kill and eat them for food, impregnate women, and steal their babies for their research trying to create a hybrid race to fulfill their needs, and eating their mistakes.

"Early humans longed for more than they experienced in one dreadful life as a slave. It triggered a spark of evolutionary leaps and para-psychological advances their creators didn't expect. Humans developed an extrasensory subconscious which anchored them to a greater realm of consciousness than their masters ever considered. In fact, some speculate the reptiles and the grays have no concept of it due to their deeply-centered concentration of self, lack of compassion, and artlessness. It's a concept they just cain't seem to grasp. But it just ain't humans what surprised them. Every creature on Earth of higher intelligence displays compassion for their young, their family group, and lasting bonds created by affection between species is not unusual. If you ever owned a dog or a horse, you understand; to say nothing of having a bonded watcher-protector by your side. I swear ever' dang one a' them's been imprinted with a Jesus complex without the schmaltz of Ruth's 'whither-thou-goest-routine.' I defy you to find a more pure form of love and affection in any other critter.

"Humans began to develop another consciousness they refer to, for lack of a better term, as their 'soul,' which is universal in concept and eternal in scope. It has been recently confirmed by my contacts, the human psyche is coming into sync with the rest of the universe, but there are still those of lesser development severely lacking in compassion for their fellow man who still believe, cling to, and are highly influenced by the life choking conservative religions set into place by the overlords who have been indirectly ruling and monitoring this planet for over ten thousand years. The humans who fail to make an attempt to understand and change, will be the ones on the wrong side of history. They will be the ones left behind," Zeke said.

"What finally triggered the angel rebellion, sir?" Billy asked.

"The reasons for the angel rebellion weren't difficult to understand or predict. Basically, we had more in common with humans than we did the overlords. Like step-parents, we did everything we could to encourage them to eat more fruits and vegetables, and we tried to help make their lives more bearable by teaching them to be resourceful, take care of themselves and one another. For those reasons, and several others, the overlords decided to terminate the angel-human program.
That's when the monkey got his tail caught in the fan, and all Hell broke loose. They have no emotions. They were very blunt, and there was no reasoning with them. They declared our services were no longer needed, and they were going to place us in mothballs until they found another use for us. They asked us to betray our own brothers; the only family we knew. As a matter of fact, one of the first of our brothers to sell us out was named Betray-el.

"Why do all the angels have -el tacked onto the end of their names?" Billy asked.

"Remember the Ford Model A and T. The designation 'el' on the end of our names meant we were of the same model of a manufactured lot just like they do cars today. It was to designate we were bought and owned by "El" the head reptilian overlord. He was also the god of the Canaanites from which came the Israelites, later known as the Jews. The Jews moved away from the people of their origins and named their country after three gods, Isis, Ra, and El. It is a well known fact, they were originally polytheist and only became monotheist after separating themselves from the Canaanites. The Hebrew bible speaks of God's wife Asherah in several places. Why would a god need a wife? Of the rebellious angels, there was only one who didn't have the suffix designation -el and his name was Metatron. He was a rank above us and considered our general to make sure El's wishes were carried out. At the last, there were six Archeangels; Me, Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, and Sama-el; not to be confused with Samu-el or Captain Nick. Samuel was originally one of the original archangels, but he was demoted due to his compassionate work with the humans. There was one other with us, an immortal man with superpowers named Sandalphon. He chose to stand with us.

"When the majority of the so-called fallen angels were rounded up, except for a dozen or more, and placed in stasis, the seven of us who stood alone afterward found ourselves being double-crossed. They told us we were also to be imprisoned in a special place until we were needed again; which we realized, very probably, meant never. Metatron was overcome and was being held by the reptiles. I was more suspicious than my mates, but I managed to talk them into keeping an ace up their sleeves; a trap door, just in case we found ourselves in an untenable situation. They were weary enough they listened to me and agreed. Good thing they did. Part of our plan was to save our ramrod Metatron. We never told him about no backup plan, so if it didn't work, he could claim he didn't know nothing about it. Then, too, we was just a mite uneasy about where his loyalties lay. We reached an impasse negotiating with the reptiles. It was an in-your-face stalemate with much posturing and threats from both sides.

"The only way the overlords would allow us to escape was if Metatron willingly surrendered himself to them. They were under the mistaken understanding, us angels were like them and their hive-mentality hierarchy; that is, without their top overlords their underlings would fall apart and cease to function. They didn't know no better, and we certainly weren't gonna' tell them no different. Metatron was disillusioned and deeply hurt by our lack of support for him, but after everything was said and done, I think he understood we didn't have no choice. If we didn't take a stand, the reptilian overlords would seal us up forever. If we made it to freedom, perhaps we could one day rescue him and the rest of our brothers.

In deep disappointment and extreme frustration, he wept, but he surprised us. They were crocodile tears. It was a performance for the reptiles and the grays. Metatron was a brave angel and became our hero. He ultimately sacrificed himself for us, but he refused to submit and go quietly until he was sure his archangel-brothers were released, and he knew we were safe. Otherwise, he agreed the eight of us would fight them to the death. Since we were built to be immortal, they would possibly suffer greater losses than we would. We said our tearful goodbyes, scattered to the four winds, and left our leader to his fate. Metatron's whereabouts is unknown.

"What about the other five Archangels and one enhanced humanoid: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Samael, and Sandelphon?" Billy asked.

"We managed to get away, and we scattered to the four winds. I don't really know what happened to the archangels or Sandelphon, but if any of them survived, I'd put my money on Uriel and Sandelphon. They joined together as a team. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Samael were too caught up in the power structure of being archangels. They were unprepared to work on their own. They were too use to following Metatron's and the overlord's orders. Unless they changed their ways, they were sitting ducks for the reptiles to track them. I heard rumors Samael went to South America and worked with the Olmecs, the Incas, and the Aztecs, but he left. They began human sacrifices, and he wouldn't be a part of it. Human religion-based politics can get pretty warped sometimes. Uriel and Sandelphon helped the Babylonians for a while; then, they went into Russia and on to the orient. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael worked for the Catholics until they wiped out the Cathars and the inquisition. After the bloody crusades, they decided the Catholics were no better than the Aztecs.   

"Do you know about or have you run across any of the other fallen-angels what escaped stasis in your sojourn on this world, sir?" Billy asked.

"Yeah, I done run across Zagan Vine, Orobas Gamagyn, Eligor Bathin, Uzza Forcas, and Gator Gap, living in several different communities on the bayous in the swamps in Florida and Louisiana.* Old Gator Gap is a well kept secret among the natives. He's known as a shaman and a warlock to the Cajun people. He heals them and makes up better potions to heal than the doctors prescribe. He pretends his powers are part science and part swamp magic taught to him by Indian shamans and the old witch Marie Laveau," Zeke said.    

"Once't ever fifty years or so we'd get together deep in the swamp where nobody could find us, raise a little Hell, and have us a good old time. Being immortal, you got to drop out of mortal societies from time to time and go live some'ers else to hide your difference. It's a never ending hurt to have to tear yourself away from those you come to love. Ipos Kokabiel studied medicine and became a great doctor to the southern Indian tribes down around Arizona and New Mexico and parts of Southwest Texas," Zeke said.*

Everyone finished their breakfasts and the ladies began to clear the table while the men finished their coffee. "I'd like to know a bit more about your watcher, sir. Is he really two hundred years old?" Billy asked.

"Yeah, he's my Pooh-bear, and believe me, he fits his name. He's getting older and don't digest skunk cabbages and wild garlic as well as he used to. I let him stay in my cabin wiff' me and ma' dogs during really cold weather, but I don't let him sleep near the fire no more. I bought a big blanket I throw over him to keep him warm. He dang near blew my cabin apart and singed his butt pert-damn bad from one of his unscheduled gas releases. Talk about a big bang. It sounded like an awe-tonic bum," Zeke allowed and broke-up everyone around the table. "I saved his life and healed him up good when he's just a young tyke, but I never could get rid of him after that. He followed me ever' where. I knew I never should a' give'n him a name.

"After a while, he grow'd on me, and he was all the time getting me out of bad scrapes. Pulled me and ma' horse out of quicksand a couple of times. Threw his'self over me in a buffalo stampede once't and later a cattle stampede. He was busted up pretty bad, but I healed him. I just up and asked him one day if'n he wanted to be my slave and protector for life? He asked me what I meant by 'wanna' be'? He reminded me he'd been doing the job for three decades. He wanted to know if the title come with more benefits, and I told him no. He told me he'd stay wiff' me until he got a better offer," Zeke said, slapped his knee, and got everyone laughing. Billy loved him. Any cowboy what had more bullshit in him than Billy was an instant love object.

"'At was a mighty fine meal, Mrs. Daniels. Ya' got a dang good scald on 'nat one. Thank ya,' ma'am, for allowing me to sit at your table and enjoy you kind folks' hospitality," Zeke complimented Kate. She told him he was welcome and thanked him for his kind words.

The sheriff and his family took off right after breakfast to get Will to work on time. Buster and Everett returned to the Tate ranch to begin their day. Billy assigned a couple of his Irin cowboys to see to Zeke's horses and let his dogs out of the back of his truck. They were both hybrid shepherd mixed with more border collie than cow dog in them. They were bright, healthy, active, and minded Zeke well. One was named Dolly and the other Pancake; they were both females. Billy gave Zeke a choice where he wanted to stay. He told him he could put him up in one of the regular bunk houses with his Irin slaves, or he might be more comfortable in a room in one of the apartments in the castle on board Captain Nick's spaceship.

Zeke wanted to see the ship. They transported and gave him a quick tour. After seeing the village people, meeting Jethro in his demon form, and being introduced to the other aliens and giants living on the ship, he decided to stay with the giants in the castle. While talking with Jethro, and Billy's gathered posse, Zeke claimed he ran across several of the Kagoli race one time whose spaceship crashed on Earth in early times before the white man came. While he tried to help and protect them as best he could, they eventually succumbed to the harsh elements, diseases, and were occasionally killed by frightened natives.

Zeke fell in love with everyone on the ship. He became fascinated by Marcus and Wilbur. They were walking around in their beautifully matched pair of wings until Marcus got used to wearing his. Wilbur continued to wear his out of pride and support for his new friend. Zeke could feel and sense the close bond between them. He admitted he shared a bunk with several male human lovers in his many years on Earth and found Marcus and young Wilbur's growing bond comfortable. Zeke asked Billy how these men could be wearing wings? He never experienced humans having wings before. Was this an evolutionary event?

"I guess the best way to answer your question is by saying 'yes' it is an evolutionary event, but not one of evolutionary biology. I was chosen by two advanced races of aliens, the Grigori and the Irin with whom I think you might be familiar," Billy started.

"Yes, I never met them, but I know from other angels a dozen or more of our brothers were rescued by them and carried off to their worlds. We never knew for what purpose, but we assumed it was for good. Later a couple of our brothers returned and told us they were well and thriving," Zeke said.

Billy explained himself, "After I rescued Nick, I was called off to Retikki Prime and took my watcher brother with me. We will share with you the details later, but there I was enhanced and given several slaves who volunteered to come back to Earth with me to help me create a new society. Then we were invited to the Irin world of Fort Adam Lear and were enhanced again. I was given the power to enhance anyone I find worthy. My family was called to visit Retikki Prime and Fort Adam Lear and even though I enhanced several, they were enhanced again.

"I don't know why I was chosen, but to be honest, I ain't stopped long enough to ask why other than with my immediate family. Some of my older cowboy-angels seem to know and tell me everything will soon be revealed to me. I hope so. I'm getting a little frustrated feeling my way through like I was walking in the dark," Billy lamented. "We have sent out word through the watchers to notify any other surviving angels on Earth who want to be part of rescuing their brothers from bondage, so we can give them the option of joining our family if they wish," Billy added.

"Give it a few days, my good master, if one gets word to old Gator Gap, the rest of them swamp-rat-angels will be contacted. The Southwest is teeming wiff' stompings of Bigfoot. Yippy Kokabiel, the cowboy-angel who put the 'Yippy' in 'Yippy-ki-yi-yo,' will hear within a day or two. The reason I heard so quickly was the rumor spread by the family of watchers in Northern Oregon who became the protectors to a couple of members of your extended family. Several came to see for themselves and marveled at your powers. I told ma' Pooh-Bear we must come see for ourselves," Zeke said.

"I'm glad you did, sir, enjoy yourself, and you're welcome to stay as long as you like," Billy said.

"Son, you should know better'n to tell a cowboy that, especially one as old as I am," Zeke said and laughed. He broke up everyone in Billy's group.

"I did mean it, and I stand behind my words, Master Ezekiel," Billy said firmly.

With Odin Bluetooth's urging, and Master Billy's permission, Zeke decided to take another bedroom in Odin and Erin's apartment. They didn't have any problems with his dogs or watcher provided he made sure they were clean and groomed regularly. There was a complete staff on the ship who did nothing else but groom others. Billy made a mental note to increase the grooming staff with at least six more men and perhaps a couple of women to tend to the ladies of his family.

Ezekiel agreed and moved in that afternoon. He parked his old truck and horse trailer out behind the barn and made himself to home. His watcher was particularly happy. Pooh-bear saw the move as an upgrade in his position. It worked out fine. He could more easily digest the slave chow and nutrient biscuits without creating massive gas in his intestines. Zeke even dropped the 'Pooh' part of his name and began to refer to him as 'Bear.' (Not to be confused with the Tates' watcher-protector they named Bear. They simply changed his name to 'Tater-bear.' Get it? Tate family plus Bear equals Tater-bear? Don't worry, it makes perfect sense to Texans.)
* * * * * * *
The weekend was coming, and the following Saturday would be the Fourth of July. Billy was in touch with Clara Mae by e-mail almost every day. They decided she would play the Bach Concerto for Oboe D'amore BWV 1055, and one other short piece for Oboe and orchestra the coming Saturday afternoon barnyard concert. Billy asked her to bring her oboe, oboe d'amore, and English horn to demonstrate the differences for his audience. He asked her to get in touch with the Byrds to see if dad Byrd and his boy had a couple of pieces they could play for his folks, and he could use the lady Byrd string players with the Bach concerto and a few other things. Billy sent her an e-mail about the music he wanted.

"Did they get extra checks in the mail?" Billy asked when he called Clara Mae.

"We all did, and we can't thank you enough. Everyone's had time to watch the video, and they're impressed it's about as professional quality as you can get, and the sound is phenomenal, Master Billy. I don't wonder it's gone viral like the first video. I'm getting calls and e-mails from all over the world. Everyone wants an interview with you, but I keep telling them you're much too busy right now; maybe later," she said and giggled. Clara Mae loved the excitement and being a part of a new movement in classical music; best of all, she was getting in on the ground floor.

"Have you gotten feedback for the Fourth of July?" Billy asked.

"Everyone wants to go to the ranch for the Fourth. We ain't got nothing," she said and giggled, "Oh, dear, I'm starting to talk like a cowperson," she said and laughed. She got Billy laughing. "They plan to have a couple of the Armed Forces bands and one military orchestra play in the park, but we didn't get any invitations. Why should they pay us when they don't have to pay a government band anything? They get a monthly salary. It's their full-time job. They go and play where they're told. I don't want to blow up your ego, Master Billy, but every member of our orchestra is at your beck and call; in fact, I had to start a private blog for orchestra members only, which I update every day about scheduling at the ranch. You have a full symphony for the fourth, I guarantee," Clara said firmly. She paused for a second, then began again, "We won't start playing our regular season until the middle of September. That's a long dry spell not to have a regular income coming in. Most of us have to take full-time jobs from the end of April through September. You can't know what a joy it is for us in more ways than just the money," she added.

"Were you able to get the score and orchestral parts for the short oboe piece?" he asked.

"Yes, sir, it's ready to go, and I've learned it. I hope you like it," Clara said.

"I'm looking forward to hearing it, Pretty Lady," Billy said.

"How's my furry pals?" she asked.

"We ain't seen hide nor hair of any of the Johnson household. I talked with Jessie yesterday and got his input for the fourth and he's playing a couple of solo pieces for this coming Saturday. As far as I know they's fine. Have you ever considered a furry companion for yourself, Ms. Clara?" Billy asked.

"Oh, I couldn't, Master Billy. Not again. It liked to have killed me to have to say goodbye to my last little friend. For all the love and joy they bring, I don't think my old heart could take breaking like that again," Clara lamented.

"You're exactly the kind of person who should have another little friend, Ms. Clara. I'll bet if your last little buddy could come back and speak with you, they would tell you the same," Billy said sincerely.

There was a brief silence on the other end. "I know you're probably right, Master Billy, but I need more time. I have a lovely time with Daffy and Chloe. Forget the money, they're my icing on the cake when I come to the ranch," she said quietly.

Billy didn't push further. He was satisfied they had the coming Saturday Barnyard Concert planned. They agreed to meet at Uncle Tom's cabin in The Woodlands at eight in the morning on Saturday. They had several things to run through. They said their goodbyes and disconnected. Billy sent her another e-mail and included a list of pieces he wanted the orchestra to play on the fourth. As he was working, his e-mail announcement chimed, and he went to his e-mail host. There was an e-mail from Ramrod Randy. Subject: Contact Griffins: Got a tickle from Tommy. He's fine but his mom got some bad news from the doctors Monday afternoon. Overbearing cancer in her female parts. She has to have a total histerical-rectomotomy. (Billy almost fell on the floor laughing at his little brother's attempt at medical terms) Mr. Griffin's been hesitant to contact you. Afraid he's asking too much. It's time for another treatment for Tommy this weekend. I'll leave the rest up to you. We had a busy and productive week over here. I done the right thing when I made Ram Snoddy my temporary Bossman. Look forward to seeing you for breakfast early Friday morning unless they's been a change of plans. Love ya' big Bro.; and it was signed Ramrod Randy.

Billy whipped off a quick reply: Can't tell you how much I's look'n forward to Friday morning, a big Cowboy hug, and one a them big wet sloppy buckaroo kisses, Honcho. Damn, I missed you this week! We got Marcus fledged and guess what? Him and Wilbur got the same color wings down to the nubbings. Another one a them Earthbound sky-critters come driving up to the sheriff's station this morning from Montana. His name is Zeke for Ezekiel. He done brung his two horses, two dogs, and his watcher-protector named Pooh-bear. We got most of Barnyard Concert planned for Saturday. You got anything new worked up? How's the fiddle coming along? Is your sight reading better? Remember to tell me Friday morning. Invite your sister for Friday morning breakfast, too. Love you, Cowboy! Your lonesome big brother, Billy. He typed and hit the send button.

Billy punched the button on his cell phone for the Griffins in Hearst, Texas. Ed Griffin answered the phone. He saw it was Billy Daniels calling and his voice picked up. "Master Billy, how are you and your family?" Griff asked.

"Tolerable, sir, right tolerable. C'ain't complain none. How's life treat'n you good folks?" Billy asked.

"Oh, pretty good. You know, like every family we got our ups and downs," Griff said holding back, "Tommy's fine, and the watcher you assigned him comes every evening to share his milk. We provide him with slave chow and a couple of those biscuits. Sometimes Doris makes up a plate of food for him," he said hedging.

There was a goodly pause between them. "Them boys been tickle'n each other. There ain't no secrets in the Daniels family, Griff. When can you good folks be ready to transport to the ranch? Tomorrow morning? Friday morning, early?" Billy asked. There was a dead silence on the other end of the line, then he heard the big man weeping. "It's all right, Griff. My second memory, Ramrod Randy, done sent me an e-mail to remind me Tommy's due for another treatment and check up. He said your wife's got the overbearing cancer and is gonna' have to have a histerical-rectomotomy," Billy said and laughed. He got Griff laughing. "I swear to you, Griff, them's the Bossman's exact words," Billy confirmed and laughed again. "Let us take a look at Doris and see what we can do for her. You got a better chance with us than them doctors in Temple or Houston," Billy said.

"I don't know what to say, Master Billy," Griff said.

"A time you'll be ready will do fine, Griff," Billy said and laughed.

"Tomorrow morning at nine?" he asked.

"I'll send a posse of my cowboys for your family at nine sharp. They'll open a gate to the ranch in your garage. Be sure you got everything closed up. You don't have to bring your watcher. We got plenty here with lots of milk," Billy said, "Just be sure to leave some food out for him for a couple of days," he added.

Griff agreed he would.

* * * * * * *
Billy disconnected and immediately got a call from Oatie. "Hey, Brother, what's up?" Billy asked.

"Remember Mrs. Henderson, the kind little old lady what used to be so nice to us as kids and went out of her way to remember our burf-days and send us cards with a couple of dollars in it at Christmas?" Oatie asked.

"Yeah, I remember her well," Billy replied, "Grandma Kate made me sit down and write her a thank-you note every time. I hated it then, but I'm glad now she made me do it," Billy said.

"She passed away two days ago, and her neighbor found her. She had to call Lima Bean out to the house because her little dog wouldn't let anyone touch her. Poor thing was alone and lost her mistress, and she didn't know what to do. Lima didn't want to put her in the pound with them other rough dogs so she brought her to me. Billy, she's the cutest little thing. She's a pure bred King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. Lima found her papers and brought them along. I don't know what to do with her, and I don't want to leave her here overnight. She's a mite distraught. You got any suggestions?" Odie said fishing.    

"What's her name?" Billy asked.

"Molly," Oatie replied without hesitating.

"How did you find out?" Billy asked.

"She told me herself. She's awful bright," Oatie said.

"You learned to tickle your patients?" Billy asked.

"Not all of them yet, but I took a chance with Molly, and she answered me right away," Oatie said with some awe in his voice.

"Have you checked her out physically?" Billy asked.

"Yeah, I done checked the basics, and she's sound as the dollar was on the gold standard," he said and got Billy laughing.

"Can you bring her out on your way home. I'll tell Jethro to hang around, and you can have supper wiff' us," Billy said.

"I like that plan. See you in about an hour, Cowboy, unless I get me some last minute patient, but it's been slow today. Ain't expecting nothing," Oatie said.

"See you then, Doc," Billy said and disconnected.

* * * * * *
Oatie brought the little dog to the back door of the big ranch house. He didn't bother with a leash for her. Molly realized Oatie was a good man, and he promised to help her. He placed her on the seat of his truck next to him, and told her to relax, they were going to take a short ride. She curled up and lay quiet the whole time. When they got to the compound of the ranch, Molly had a little trouble with the big steps, but she made it up all right. Oatie opened the door for her and bid her enter. The family came out of the kitchen area when they heard Oatie call. There were many 'oohs' and 'aahs' at the pretty little dog. She had brilliant reddish coloring on her ears and down her back like a saddle, and her tail was the same color. She had a white face and the rest of her body was a pure white color. She looked up at them and saw a big young cowboy standing before her.

<< Welcome to the Daniels family ranch, Miss Molly, I'm Billy Daniels, >> said a voice in her head.

<< Thank you, sir, it's good to be here, >> she replied.

<< We're going to take you to the barn first so I can check you out and give you a couple of enhancements. When we get through, you'll feel a lot better, and a good meal will lift your spirits. I'm so sorry to hear about your mistress. She was a wonderful lady. Ms. Henderson was always good to me and the other children of our community. She will be greatly missed, >> Billy sent.

Billy and a couple of his cowboys, including Oatie and Jethro, went with them to the slave processing room in the barn. After sampling a tiny bit of her blood, Billy reversed Molly's age to about one year old, and he gave her the gift of speech. While they were working on her, she told the men what happened and how frightened she was. She said her mistress just stopped breathing, and she knew something was wrong. She tried to bark at her several times to wake her, but to no avail. She said after a few minutes, Mrs. Henderson's spirit rose up from her body, said goodbye to her, and she could hear beautiful voices calling for her mistress to come join them. Molly said there was a great tear in the fabric of time and space and a couple of angels came to get her mistress and took her with them. Then the tear sealed itself up in an instant, and she was left alone. She stayed for two dreadful days lying next to her mistress trying her best to keep her warm. Several of the cowboys openly wept as the beautiful little dog told her story. It seemed to help Molly the angels on Earth empathized with her loss, and Master Billy was right, she did feel better after he and Master Oatie, the animal doctor, worked on her.

Molly took up with Kate, Zelma, Roz, Dorcas, Aunt Helen, Evangeline, and Pard Andreeson. Billy remarked Molly had good taste in people. She told Billy she could sense a mature soul in the young boy. Billy explained Pard's background, and it didn't seem unusual to her. She thought it was wonderful Pard was getting a second chance at life. She asked Billy if it was what he was doing for her since he returned her body to that of a much younger dog? Billy agreed he did it because she lived a good life as a faithful companion to Ms. Henderson. Molly's attachment to the female contingency of his family seemed like a natural thing to Billy, but he stressed it was to be a temporary arrangement. He thought Molly should be around the family for as long as it took for her to feel safe and secure. When she was ready, she could pick someone or a family of which she might wish to become a part.

Pard spent most the the day Thursday with Molly by his side. They went everywhere together. And everywhere they went everyone fell in love with her. As long as she was with someone in the family, she was at ease and sociable. Molly knew they wouldn't place her in harm's way, and even when she was introduced to the most scary of critters on the ranch, she had no fear and was an equal opportunity lover. Madame Spartza wanted to adopt her as her own. Molly discovered she could communicate mentally with Pard, the great giant beasts they call watchers, and they would sometimes offer to share their wonderful milk with her. Pard found out she loved to play ball and would run for yards to get a ball and bring it back to him. She pretty much captured the hearts and imagination of everyone on the ranch in one day's time.

The next day was no exception, and she was working hard learning to speak. Friday brought more young boys, Randy, Rory, Calhoun, and Tommy Griffin. She didn't know life could be so full, and she could have so much fun; however, she still missed her mistress. The ranch was just what she needed. It took her mind off her loss and the boys never let her stop long enough to sit and pine her little heart away. She was amazed there were so many humans who could speak mind to mind with her and would have a good word for her. Molly loved the ranch and the people. She was comfortable and became a free spirit.

End of Chapter 66 ~ Seek Him Who Maketh The Seven Stars, and Orion
Copyright ~ ~ 2012 ~ 2014 ~ 2015 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All Rights Reserved ~
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com
WC = 20528

* Archangel Ezekiel: originally Tzadkiel for whom the prophet Ezekiel was named. Tzadkiel used his powers to remove the baby Ezekiel from his mother's womb without giving birth. He was a breach birth with the cord wrapped around his neck. Without the angel's intervention the mother and child would have died.

* Leonard Susskind on The World As A Hologram: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DIl3Hfh9tY

* Zagan Vine (a hero on a black horse who can transform objects and can become a mighty Lion); Orobas Gamagyn (can morph into great or small horse. Brought succor and provided emergency medicines and food for the poor.); Eligor Bathin (A goodly Knight who fought for the weak and disenfranchised with a great sword riding a pale horse); Uzza Forcas (Incredible strength, protector -- taught humans logic and ethics); Gadreel Gaap became Gator Gap (God is my helper, bat-like wings, possibly Kagoli infected, or he fucked Marie Laveau one too many times.)

*Ipos Kokabiel (head of a lion, star of God. Holy healer. Became known as the gentle trickster, Kokopelli: a spirit of healing and fertility who appeared at the change of seasons to the southern American Indian tribes. His legend can be traced back 3,000 years. He is an excellent musician; played a flute to announce his coming, and always carried a pack on his back. http://www.kokopelli.com/whowaskok.html

Attention Nifty Readers: If you enjoy this story or others on Nifty, please send a generous donation to Nifty.org -- http://donate.nifty.org/donate.html -- to help support and maintain this free service so it may continue to remain available to everyone. Also, if you enjoy a particular story, it costs you nothing to send an e-mail to the author to let them know you appreciate their hard work creating these stories for you to read. A compliment or a couple of words of encouragement goes a long way to stimulate creativity... or anything else you might have in mind. ~ Thanks. Waddie Greywolf