By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 10

As the ship orbited Mars a couple of times there was mostly silence from the men.  The ship didn’t just orbit the planet, it sailed over its surface so they could see some of the more spectacular aspects of the surface features.  The men were overwhelmed.  There was an occasional comment, but not much was said.  As they were leaving the orbit of Mars and headed for Venus, Angus spoke.

“Captain Long, where is this planet you plan to relocate people to and how do you plan to chose those who will be saved?  I thought all that sort of thing was to be decided by God at the end of time.”

“A planet in another solar system in your galaxy will become your new home.  It has been given the name ‘Haven.’  It is a class ‘M’ planet a bit larger than Earth but has similar geophysical characteristics of your planet.  It will take several months to get there.  You will live there and colonize the planet and in several hundred years, depending on the amount of destruction, the Earth will be re-terra formed and those wishing to return may.  Some may chose to remain on Haven.

To answer the second part of your question, Mr. Goodnight, if you want to consider an advanced race of people who do altruistic things in the universe as Gods, then yes, it has been decided by them.  I have computer lists of people to save who have no idea they will be saved at the last.  In your area alone, my ship will be responsible for a hundred and forty-four thousand folks and their livestock.  Livestock includes your slaves.  They will all be saved along with your families; however, adjustments will have to be made for their increased longevity if they choose to accept the genetic enhancement.  A life sentence as a slave will take on new meaning when you’re looking at a couple of thousand years.  Since new slaves are a possibility, it seems only fair limits be set for those who would serve faithfully for a period of time; otherwise, why would they consider living a longer life span if all they had to took forward to was a life of slavery.  Remember, not all slave owners treat their slaves as well as you and Master Charlie, Mr. Goodnight.”     

“How will you convince them to go with you?”  Angus continued.

“I won’t have to.  All I need is a genetic marker, some article they’ve touched.  Their information will be loaded into our computers, and they’ll be lifted into the sky into our ship automatically.  Besides, things will git so bad in the last days, folks will gather to discuss their options and fears.  Some will consider leaving the country, but the final disaster will be worldwide.  Once it begins, it won’t end until there is great devastation.  There will be small pockets of people who were not chosen who will survive; however, ultimately,— there will be no one left alive on the planet.  Those of great wealth and power who have sought refuge in caves or bunkers underground will have nothing to return to.  After a hundred years or so, for all their obscene wealth, they will have nowhere to go nor anything to spend it on.  Even a bar of pure gold bullion won’t buy them so much as a crust of bread.

Many slaves of bad slave owners will be taken without their masters.  In that case, each slave will be judged according to their time served as a slave and their sentence.  If they opt for the longevity enhancement, a new sentence will be set accordingly and they will be either reassigned a master or sold again.  Before you fear there will be more slaves than freemen consider, Australia was founded by social rejects and prisoners from the jails of England.  A man can’t be judged by his innate goodness from a couple of bad choices in life.  Many, like Travis and Rabbit are slaves through no fault of their own.  You both have examples of slaves who you know to be good, trustworthy men in spite of the reason they were enslaved.”  Lazarus looked at Shane.  Shane looked down and blushed.  “These are all minor problems that can be taken care of without much concern.”  Lazarus added.

In a few minutes the ship was approaching Venus.  The planet grew larger and larger in the viewing area.  The men were beginning to move about. They got more to eat from the buffet and Cable fixed them another drink.  Lazarus told them he had something very special to show them below the clouds of Venus.  They took their seats again as the huge ship stopped, and slowly lowered itself into the swirling gas clouds of the planet.  After sailing in some pretty violent winds the ship came upon a patch of calmer gasses.  The men could see out the viewing port what looked like large bags or balloons of gas floating and moving in the Venusian atmosphere.  

“What is that, Captain Long?”  asked Shane.

“Wow, they’re beautiful.  Are they alive, Captain Long?”  asked Travis.

“They’re very much alive, young man.  You’re looking at Venusian Atmospheric Bladder Whales.  They’re highly intelligent and can communicate telepathically with humans.  They swim the gas currents of the calmer areas of the Venusian atmosphere harvesting silicon particles swept up from the surface, strained through large baleens which they digest.  They’re one of the few natural silicon life forms in the universe.  We have one other example on board our ship who reside temporarily in my boy’s cabin.”   Everyone looked at Ox and he smiled.

“What is that sound?  Is that them singing?”

“Why, yes, Shane.  Few people can hear their song in a ship like ours; however, I can amplify their songs and thoughts.  We can even talk with them if you like.  Sometime there’s a problem with translation, but you’ll get the idea.”  Lazarus walked over to the wall and ran his hand over a control panel which came alive and looked like a computer terminal.

“Orion, let us hear and speak with the whales.”

“Of course, Captain.”  A deep masculine voice replied.  “Ready, Sir.”

“Greetings,  Chuchulack,— is that you and your fine family?”

“Ahh, is that our old friend, Captain Long?”

“It is, indeed, old friend.  I’ve brought along some folks from Earth where your cousins swim the seas.”

“How nice.  Welcome to Venus.  We’ve been listening to you as you approached.  Let’s see, there’s your Godson, Garron, with you this time, and his young wards, Waco, JR, Travis, and Rabbit.  Then the adults are Mr. Birdsall, his slave, Shane, who is the brother to the other two Goodnight gentlemen, Charlie and Angus,— correct?”

“You are correct, Chuchulack.  I knew you’d be listening.”  Lazarus chuckled.

“And thank you, Travis, for thinking we’re beautiful.  All creatures in the universe have their own beauty.  We even think Captain Long and his kind are quite handsome.”

“Thank you, Sir.”  Travis replied.  He heard a small laugh.

“We have no sex, young man.  Each of us is capable of reproducing our own kind which we nurture until they are about half the size of us adults.  To my left is my latest offspring, Chacheelian.  Do they know we communicate with our whale cousins on Earth, Captain?”

There was a gasp went through the men and they looked at each other.

“No, I thought I’d let you tell them that little known fact, Chu.”

“We taught them to sing hundreds of thousands of years ago and for centuries we have held contests between our planets as to who could sing the sweetest song.  When they were numerous your oceans were filled with their beautiful songs.  One song could carry around the perimeter of your planet within a matter of hours.  If it was good, it would become very popular and each voice would add and refine it until it returned as a splendid gift and award to its creator.  By then it was a masterpiece and every whale on the planet would join their voices together at the same time to sing it in one grand performance.   Ah, what rapture they could create.  

They won many contest with their brilliant and moving songs.  They were a prime example of a students becoming better than their teachers; however, I’m afraid their talent base is shrinking.  They’ve become so depressed they haven’t wanted to compete for the last twenty of your years or so.  A faction of humans on your planet insist on wiping them out as a food source only to bring in a couple more dollars for their selfish pockets.  Cruel!  Barbaric!  Unnecessary!  It makes us sad.  We have cried and sung many requiems for our beautiful cousins we have lost.  We miss them and their fine songs tremendously, but their songs live on in us and those of their kind who are left.”

“We agree, Chuchulack.  Many are being relocated as we speak.  They are being taken to a planet similar to Earth in the Pollux system.  A place the galactic counsel has named ‘Haven.’”

“It is good to hear our beloved cousins are being saved from sure destruction.  We know you would do the same for us, were we threatened.”

“Absolutely, Chuchulack, you and your kind have always been generous and gracious to our kind.”

“And so we shall continue to be.  When your species began to help the Orcas, they decided to stop eating man, so have we decided to give you another chance for the many kindnesses you have shown us.  Peace and a good, strong song be forever in your heart, Captain Long.”

“We wish the same for you and yours, Chuchulack.  We must be on our way, but we’ve enjoyed our visit.  We hope to see you again soon.  Until then, my friends, sail the peaceful winds and partake of the bounty.  Farewell for now, dear friends.”

“Farewell, to you all, and to you Cable.”

“Thank you for remembering me, Chuchulack.  It is an honor.”  Cable said to the giant beast.
The ship banked and took off slowly so as not to disturb the currents of the winds.  Once free of the atmosphere, the ship left the orbit of Venus and began its return trip to Earth.

“Unbelievable.”  muttered Charlie.

“Incredible.”  agreed Angus, “Why do I feel like I’ve just seen the face of God himself?”

“Perhaps you have, Angus.”  Lazarus consoled him.

“It expands the mind to be introduced to another species not from Earth.  One who has grown and evolved on their own in what would be a hostile environment for us.  They have sailed the atmosphere of Venus for thousands of years and are quite knowledgeable of our world.  They even know all the different races and tribes.  They can communicate in most all the major languages of Earth,— even a few of the lesser languages and dialects.  They have amazing intellects and have been called upon to settle disputes as neutral judges between worlds.  They are deeply aggrieved by what they see going on with our planet.”

“Are they part of the winds of consciousness, Captain Long?”  Shane asked him.

“Excellent observation, Son.  Of course they are.  It has been suggested they are the repository for the voices of the ancients.  It has been thought the intelligence and goodness of most advanced races dwell within their memories; but like our whales, they do not initiate the stream or flow of consciousness, the voices that dwell within them do that.  They are, in effect,  containers or vessels for such knowledge, just as your souls, that part of you that is you, is contained in the temporary vessel of your carbon based bodies.”

“Why do I get the feeling this brings to question a much larger picture of the universe than the one we’ve been taught from birth about our small world and our relationship to a creator?”  asked Bill Birdsall.  

“Because, I think you all innately realize it’s one of the things you must come to grips with before you will be allowed to venture out into the universe, even as refugees.  You must come to realize what worked or didn’t work  must be reexamined.  You will have to ask yourself what has brought you to the place where you must accept the offer of rescue and escape from your dying world or perish with it.  You must realize ideas and concepts must be radically altered and changed or as a species, you will be doomed to repeat it again and again.  The decision is yours, gentlemen.  No one will force anything on you.”

“So if we accept there is a God, we must also accept we ain’t his only creations.”  mused Angus.

“Not by a long shot, Mr. Goodnight.  Ox or Garron as we know him and his kind originally came from the world of Volgoron in the Betelgeuse system.  In fact, that’s where my partner and I rescued Ox.  His parents were close friends of ours and made me and my partner his Godparents when he was born.  We heard of the destruction of their world and returned too late to save them, but we managed to find him barely alive among the rubble.  Another couple of hours and he wouldn’t have survived.

Many of his kind were relocated to Earth thousands of years ago and have existed in limited numbers for centuries.  We brought him here to live among his own kind in safety.  They have been the watchers of the world and up until about a hundred years ago were able to keep mankind from slaughtering their own rich and diverse races.  Now, there are too many evil men who through great corruption have seized a strangle hold on power on the Earth.  Their obsession with greed and wealth have short sighted them into believing their money and power will protect them.  They have built their houses upon the sand.”

“Have we been chosen to survive, Captain Long?”  Waco asked quietly.

“Of course, young man, if you wish to go.  All you gentlemen, your families and slaves will be rescued.”

“But, why us?  I ain’t never been no staunch believer in religion.”  said Charlie, “My brother is a better man than me in that department.  I go through the motions, but I’m afraid I ain’t what you might call ‘born again’ or any of the other terms I hear them church people use.”

“That’s precisely why you’ve been chosen.  Believe me, Mr. Goodnight, most of them folks ain’t on the list.  They’ll all be left behind.  They are the major contributors to feeding the corrupt beasts that are devouring your world.  You and men like you are capable of thinking for yourselves and you’ve taught your children to do the same.  More of these things will be discussed as time goes on.  We don’t have to go into all of it right now.  For now, let’s return to Earth, stay the night in the ship, have breakfast and return to the ranch tomorrow morning.”

It was getting late by the time the ship returned to the ranch; however, no one was interested in being shown to guest staterooms right away.  Cable gave the men their choice.  They could stay in the ranch house where they stabled their ponies or they could have staterooms.  The choice was up to them.  Surprisingly, they all opted for staterooms.  They wanted to see what accommodations on the ship was like.  They knew what a ranch house was like.

Rabbit held Master Angus to his promise to bunk it in with him.  It was just a given that Master Bill would stay with his slave; however, his slave was quite happy with that arrangement.  Lazarus already invited Charlie to the desert and gently reminded him he would be staying with him in the Captain’s quarters.  Charlie grinned at him and nodded his consent.

 Waco decided he, JR and Travis would bunk it in with their lummox in his private stateroom that was assigned to him when the Bandersnatch was built several hundred years ago.  It was a fascinatingly new experience for Waco and Travis because it contained some of Ox’s personal treasures he collected from many trips with his Godfathers.  There wasn’t enough time to show the boys everything, but there was a couple he shared with them.

There was a tank, like an aquarium tank, embedded in the wall.  In it were beautiful crystal rocks of all kinds and colors placed in geometric patterns that were more than random.  As Ox approached the tank the crystals became excited.  They began to glow and give off enough light to comfortably see in the room.  It seemed they were happy to see Ox and have visitors.   There was no need for artificial lighting.  They were like the warming rays from our sun and seemed to penetrate the boys' skin.

<<  Oh, my, God!  How beautiful. >> Thought JR

<<  What are they? >>  Waco asked in awe.

<<  They are known as Kryscells or Kryscellians. >>  Ox replied. << Ain’t they wonderful? >>

<<  They’re indescribably beautiful, Ox. >>  allowed Travis quietly.

<<  Wonderful. >> agreed Waco.

<<  They’re the last of their kind.  Their world was impacted by a huge comet and blown apart.  They were adrift in the darkness of space and had been for several centuries.  They were dying and sent out a weak distress call on the winds of consciousness.  I heard them faintly calling for help.  With Ping and Pong’s help we got a fix on their position and rescued them.  They’ve been living in my stateroom ever since.  They are, also, one of the few highly intelligent silicone creatures in the universe.  They multiply very slowly.  It takes them over a hundred years to produce a young one.  Then it must mature for three hundred years before it may reproduce.  It took them a million years to cover less than an acre of their planet’s surface; however, the totality and depth of their intelligence and knowledge base is unknown.  They are, quite possibly, the most intelligent life forms in the universe.  They’ve more than repaid us our kindness to them.  We’ve offered to relocate them to several worlds, but they say they’re happy on the Bandersnatch for now and will know when it’s time to settle down.  For now, they’re content to roam the universe with the crew of the Bandersnatch.  

Every time the Bandersnatch has been threatened or it seems all is lost, the Kryscells have come to our rescue and saved the day.  Ping figured out a direct link with them and sometimes they act as a living computer system backup when power to our main system is unavailable.  The Kryscells generate their own power and have no need for backup energy; however, they must have periodic exposure to a class ‘M’ sun to feed and restore their strength.  It is during those periods they mate and reproduce.

The last time they helped us out of a tight spot resulted in the death of one of their young.  He nobly gave his life for us and them.  Everyone on the ship was devastated.  Ping and Pong had an idea and requested permission from Captain Lazarus to fly as near to the sun in your solar system as he could without damaging the ship.  They asked the Kryscells for the body of the young Kryscell, and they reluctantly gave it up.  Ping and Pong managed to expose the lifeless body of the young crystal to the full energy of the sun’s rays for about an hour, and miraculously, it brought the young cell back to life.  Other than being a bit shaken, it was fine.  We returned it to the joyful family, and it’s been there ever since.  It’s the one adding the rare blue light spectrum to their gift.  It’s the most healing of all the light spectrums for carbon based life forms.  Their light upon your bodies is correcting and adjusting any blemish or flaw you might have.  Take off your clothes, young master, JR and Travis.  Let them give you their gift.  They are wonderfully giving, peaceful and loving creatures. >>   

The boys quickly took off their clothes and stood in the warm glow of the crystal’s light.  The more they took in the more they could hear their voices singing to them.  It didn’t seem like a language as it was more like a higher pitched version of the songs Ox sang to comfort them.  Then the boys began to pick up a word or a phrase every now and then, until they could hear all the words and meanings in their songs.  It wasn’t English or any language they ever heard before, but the boys could understand every word.  They even conjoined their minds to sing on a repeated chorus.   

When they were done, the Kryscells complemented the boys on learning to join them in their songs.  They were welcome to sing with them again when they could spare the time.  Travis and Waco thanked them for their gifts as their lummox smiled down at his boys with love in his heart.  He could see the slight tell-tale signs their young bodies were beginning to respond to his careful guidance and encouragement.  It wouldn’t be long before others and the boys themselves began to notice as well.  He knew JR and Travis’ conditions were fully corrected after exposure to the Kryscells.

* * * * * * *

Lazarus and Charlie retired to his cabin.  It was like they lived a lifetime together in one day,— so much had happened.  Charlie was just about exhausted,— just about; however, his fascination with Lazarus had dumped more adrenalin into his system, and while he was tired, he was mellow.  He was unprepared for the luxurious opulence of the Captain’s cabin.  Lazarus had two fantastically good looking male androids to look after his ever whim.  They were naked and had no need for clothing as Lazarus’ personal servants.  They were so perfect, clothes would have ruined their beauty.

“Mr. Goodnight, may I introduce you to David and Jonathan.”

“Good to meet you, Master Goodnight.”  said David.  It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Sir.  We’ve been allowed to see you on our robo-cams, but it’s not like meeting you in person.  You’re much better looking in person, Sir.”  Jonathan allowed.  Lazarus chucked at his enthusiasm.  

“It’s good to meet you gentlemen.  Are you like Cable?”

The two androids looked at Lazarus like they didn’t quite understand Charlie’s question, but didn’t want to be rude by asking him what he meant.  With a nod of his head Lazarus told them to be truthful with him.

“Yes and no, Mr. Goodnight.  Father gave Cable far more duties than us; however, over the years we’ve helped and learned from Cable to back him up or perform his tasks when he’s not here.  We can do everything he can, but we don’t because that’s not our assigned tasks.  Our purpose, unless Father wishes otherwise, or Cable needs us, is to care for his cabin, him and his guest.  We’re fully sexually functional and many times provide company and comfort for both our fathers.  When Father is away, we are assigned other tasks.   We miss him terribly, but we know he will return to us.”

“May I,— ?”  Charlie asked Charlie indicating he’d like to feel their genitals.

“Of course, I play with them all the time.  That’s why they ain’t got no clothes on.  They understand the meaning of modesty, but I never allowed them to have any thoughts about it.  Cable only wears clothing because we have guests.  Most of the time he’s naked.  He hates to wear clothes.

“I think I can understand why.”  Charlie said as he took David’s big penis in his hand and skinned back his foreskin to see it completely.  David winced.

“I’m sorry, David, I had no idea you would be so sensitive.”

“Sorry, Mr. Goodnight.”  David replied like he was horrified he might’ve offended his father’s guest.

“Not at all, young man, it was my fault.  Your father told me you were perfect in every way.  I just didn’t realize how perfect you are.”’

“Thank you, Sir.”

“Is his rear as sensitive?”  Charlie asked Lazarus.

“Try him and see.”  smiled Lazarus at Charlie.  David immediately turned, spread his feet, bent over and grabbed his ankles.  Lazarus smiled as he handed Charlie a tube of lubricant.

Charlie lubed up his index finger and deftly slipped it into David’s asshole.  David grunted just like a human might and Charlie could feel the warmth and pulsing feeling of David’s anus.  He worked his finger in and out and David began to work his ass back to meet Charlie’s thrusts.  

“Can you make it tighter, David.”  Charlie felt David’s sphincter tighten considerably and it didn’t loosen from repeated probing.

“How tight can he make it, Captain?”

“So tight you won’t be able to get your finger out,— trust me.”  Lazarus laughed.

“That’s amazing.”  said Charlie.  He ordered David to stand, turn around and thanked him for the demonstration.

“Glad to be of service, Master Goodnight.”  David said happily.  

“You better show Jonathan a little attention; otherwise, you might hurt his feelings.”  smiled Lazarus.

Charlie fondled Jonathan to erection and played with him until he climaxed.  Charlie caught it in his hand and smelled it.  It smelled like the real thing.  Lazarus stuck his finger in Jonathan’s load and put it to his mouth.  Charlie tried it and it was delicious.  It was just a bit sweeter than organic-human come.

“You have delicious come, Jonathan.”

“Thank you, Master Goodnight.  Glad you like it, Sir.”  he smiled, pleased with himself.

“I notice they’re both uncircumcised. Is there a reason for that?”

“It’s a matter of taste and belief.  I personally believe it to be a barbaric custom to mutilate the male genitals.  Any God who demands that of his followers should never have given it to them in the first place.”

“Humm, I think you’re right, Captain Long.  That’s why my daddy never had us boys circumcised.  ‘At’s why I never allowed my boy nor Ida’s boy to be circumcised.  Hank asked me not to let ‘em do it, and I agreed with him.  You never cease to amaze me, Sir.  After all this,— what do you do for an encore, Captain Long.”

“The best encores come from the heart, Mr. Goodnight.  My idea of the end of a perfect day is to be close to someone I admire and care about.”

“But, I believe I heard your android say you have a mate,— his other father.”

“He’s correct.  I’ve had a mate for several hundred years.  He’s in the Amazon collecting plants and species before it’s completely destroyed.  I’ll request a weekend off from the ranch once a month or so to come to the ship to be with him.  We have two portals in sync with each other, one on his ship and one here on the Bandersnatch.  All he has to do is step through, like you’ve been going from place to place on my ship, and he’s here.  I have him up from the jungle, and he returns after we’ve spent some quality time together.  In the meantime, he has a young protegee to keep him occupied.  When you live for long periods of time, relationships take on new meanings.  In some ways they become more meaningful the older they get.  They become like rare old wines.  They’re best drunk only after ten years of mellowing and careful tending to.  Besides, I ain’t brought you here to take advantage of you.  We’ve had a full day.  You must be tired.  To lay naked with you and hold you in my arms would be a great treat for me.”

“I think I would enjoy that, Captain Long.  For a more mature gentleman you maintain the body of an active thirty-five to forty year old man.  I can’t say I ain’t impressed.  Were I to avail myself of your longevity gene would I remain about the age I am now?”

“Yes, Sir, without any noticeable deterioration for close to a thousand years.”

 “Is it an injection?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“When can I get it?”

“I can give it to you in the morning if you like; however, are you sure you want to this soon?  I thought you might wanna’ think on it awhile.”

“Naw, if there’s any chance in the world to be with my family and my boy longer than the average life span,— I want to try.  Furthermore, I don’t think a man who has humbled himself to work along side my slaves for over a month and not complained about anything, then took me and my family on a journey through our solar system would lie to me about this.  Besides, like you said earlier,— there’s just a trust you form with a man you rope with.”

* * * * * * *

David and Jonathan assisted the Captain and his guest with their clothes.  Lazarus offered Charlie the use of his shower and he accepted if the Captain would shower with him.  Lazarus consented and the men got into the shower together.  Lazarus usually took a sonic shower when he was alone on the ship;  however, in deference to his guest, they took a shower with water.  They stood under the warm water and held each other.  Lazarus brushed his bushy mustache against Charlie’s lips as an offer.  It was one Charlie couldn’t refuse and kissed Lazarus as passionately as they did the night of the slave ceremony.  They both got erections.

“I can see why your androids refer to you as father, Captain Long.  I almost feel the same way about you.  After seeing how you handle my slaves, your ship and personnel I feel safe with you.  I feel like I’ve known you all my life.”

“I don’t mind that at all, Charlie.  It wouldn’t be difficult for me to think on you as one of ma’boys.  I already think that way about yore’ baby brother, Shane.  I’d certainly like to feel that way about your older brother, Angus.  They’re both fine men.  Shane is a late bloomer.  He will come into his own and take his place beside his brothers.”

“I’m almost afraid to ask, but are my two younger brothers on your list?”

“I’ll be honest with you, Charlie.  They’re on an alternate list.  In other words, if something should happen to someone on the “A” list, like you and yore’ three brothers are on, then those from the “B” or even “C” list might be chosen.  A lot will depend on you, Angus and Shane’s thoughts and recommendations.  I’m afraid their fate is in your hands.  Somehow, I don’t think it’s gonna’ be that difficult a call for the three of you.  You each have a generosity and compassion they seem to be lacking.  Fortunate for them they have three such fine brothers.”

“What did your servant mean about watching us on ‘robo-cams’?”

“They’re invisible robotic cameras which have an intelligence programed into them to follow me, my boy Ox, and Ping and Pong at all times.  There’s  a set of three of them for each person that go everywhere we go to record our actions and let my staff on the ship know if one of us is in trouble.  They see everyone we come in contact with.  Here, I’ll show you.  Screen and robo-cams, Son.”  Lazarus spoke to Jonathan.

“At once, Father.”  He waved his hand and an enormous screen descended from the ceiling of the bedroom.   On the screen was three angle shots of Charlie and Lazarus naked as the day they were born.  Charlie smiled.  Jonathan handed Lazarus a remote, he pressed a button and they saw Ox, Waco, JR and Travis all laying together on Ox’s huge bed in his quarters.  Ox had JR hooked to one tit and Travis to the other.  He had his arm around Waco and he was cuddled up to his big beast as close as he could get.  Charlie sighed.

Lazarus clicked the button one more time and they watched Shane getting the b’jesus fucked out of him.  There was no doubt in either man’s mind Shane was enjoying riding every inch of his Master’s big cock.  Lazarus didn’t linger and clicked again.  They saw Angus and Rabbit cuddled up close together.  Rabbit had himself a big old handful of cowboy Master dick in his hand and was laying on Angus’ big, beefy, hairy arm.  Angus would steal a kiss from the young slave from time to time.
“This is cruel and unusual punishment, Master Goodnight.”  Rabbit complained.  The men listened as Angus let out a laugh.

“How so, Chief?”  

“So close, yet so far.  I done what you told me and got fucked royally by my master, Sir.  You were right.  Ain’t gonna’ sit around pining my heart away for the Tennent boy no more.  I got me too much where I’m at.  Master Charlie watched us fuck and that was really hot.  Ox linked our minds so we  could feel what the other was feeling and well as feel’n it for ourselves.  I know it sounds crazy, but it was the hottest fuck’n thing what ever happened to me, Sir.  Ain’t never shot like I done that night.  You sure you wouldn’t like me to pleasure you, Master Angus?”

“Naw, now, you agreed.  You gimme’ yore’ word,— I’m gonna’ hold you to it.  ‘Sides, the way you’s start’n to grow you’ll turn around three times and before you know it, you’ll be jes’ ripe for pick’n.  Then we’ll both enjoy it to the max.”

“I know, but you can’t fault a kid for trying.”  Rabbit grinned and got another laugh out of Angus.

Lazarus clicked off the screen, and it receded back into the ceiling.

“See, Charlie,— ‘at’s why you and your brothers were chosen,— you know right from wrong, and h’it don’t have to be based on no religious beliefs.  It comes from the goodness in your hearts,— from you being good people.”  Lazarus commented on the conversation they just heard.  “Come,— ” Lazarus gestured to Charlie to take his hand.

Charlie responded and Lazarus led him to his huge bed that was carefully turned down for him by his servants.  They stood at attention in their alcoves in the wall.  A pale blue light shown down upon them giving them an otherworldly hue about them.  Lazarus lay down and Charlie lay down with him.  They embraced and kissed again.  When they finished Charlie lay there with his head being cradled by Lazarus’ big arm.

“Are you tired, Captain?”  Charlie asked quietly.

“A bit, but I’m not exhausted.  It’s been a full day.  Why, do you ask?  Do you have needs you’d like me to take care of for you.”

“You have a way of cutting to the chase, Captain Long.  The thought crossed my mind.  I’ve long been the big dog, the boss man, in my world,— the Master.  I rarely get to lay back and enjoy someone taking care of me.”

“It was my impression you and Ranger Gibbons were pert-damn tight.”  Lazarus comment softly.

“We are.  We have been all our lives,— even after we got married, but it’s been a while now.  I lost my wife and couldn’t do anything with anyone for a good while,— now his wife’s terminally ill and it saps all the life out of  him.  He can’t git an erection no more.  I know that’ll pass when wife dies, and he recovers, but I love Ranger so much I don’t want him to lose her.  I’d do anything in the world if I could to keep her from dying.  In the mean time you can see where that leaves me.”

“I understand.  To be honest, I wondered about that a couple of times.  You having to be the big boss man in charge all the time must be difficult for several reasons, not the least of which you have a highly intelligent, sensitive young boy who looks up to you like you’s his personal God.  Now you got three more with his slaves, and one big lummox who adores you and Waco.  You ain’t got nobody to let chore’ hair down with,— so to speak.”

“Exactly.  You don’t know how many times I’ve almost ordered Hank Morgen to make love to me, but it would be putting him in an awkward position.  I know Hank wouldn’t never say a word to anyone about it.  It would be jes’ between us.  That’s the kind of man Hank Morgan is.  Besides, I don’t want no competition with Ida.  Lord knows I love and respect that woman.  She works her ass off for what little she gits, and she’s as devoted as they come.  I would never ask Curley.  He gits paranoid at the least little change.  I’m surprised he was the first one to come to me with the idea of make’n you my foreman.”

“Well, h’it probably ain’t the smartest thing to do to make a lover out of one of yore’ slaves.  It could have bad or perhaps even disastrous consequences you never planned on; not from the act itself, mind you, but from the leverage and pressure what might be brought to bear on you as an owner.  To be honest I thought you might be git’n yore’ itch scratched a few times by yore’ big brother.  I can certainly see what Rabbit and Bill Birdsall sees in him.  He’s the ultimate man’s man or Master, if you will.  Big, masculine to the nines, hard charging, rugged, yet he has an incredibly tender and compassionate side to him,--- just like we witnessed a minute ago in his cabin.”

“Would you believe we’ve only done it once, but it was fantastic.  I’ll never forgit it as long as I live.  It was the night ma’boy was born.  Angus followed me home ‘cause it’s on the way to his ranch.  I told him to drop by for a drink ‘cause I had a couple of fine cigars I bought jes’ for him and me.  We had a couple of drinks, I looked at him, he looked at me and we both knew what we needed to end a perfect day.  Damned, if my big bubba didn’t put the period at the end of my sentence.  Fucked me ‘til I could swear I hear’d the angels sing’n.”

“That good, huh?”  Laughed Lazarus.

“Unbelievably good!”  Charlie joined Lazarus in a laugh.  “Don’t know why we ain’t never got around to it again.  I told him later how much I enjoyed it, how fine I thought he was, and how much I appreciated his love’n.  I’ve mentioned it to him several times since then, but we jes’ ain’t never had time to pursue it.”

“He probably feels bad because of the religious thing.  You said he was a bit more devout than you.  Besides, the sodomy laws are pert-damn strict.  If’n the sex hounds could prove it they could make you and your brother slaves for life; however, what two brothers is gonna’ rat each other out?  Jes’ ain’t gonna’ happen.  I know I don’t need to tell you to be careful who you tell.”

“Ain’t never told nobody but you.  I don’t think I got me no worries with you; otherwise, you wouldn’t be holding me in yore’ arms right now.”

“You’re right, you’re safe in these arms.  The secrets of your soul are safe with me.  So,— making me yore’ foreman might have fringe benefits I ain’t never considered?”

“Could be, cowboy.”

“Would you like me to start my job take’n care of my boss a little early,  Mr. Goodnight?”

“I think I’d like that, Captain Long.  I know this is probably a foolish question, but do you have facilities for cleaning myself?”

“Of course.  David and Jonathan will assist you.  They’ll prepare you.”

Lazarus spoke to the both of them.

“David,— Jonathan, take Mr. Goodnight to the facilities and prepare him.  Be as gentle with him as you would me, gentlemen.”

“Absolutely, Father,— we’ll take good care of him.  Please, Mr. Goodnight,— if you will follow us, Sir.”

Charlie returned a while later and David and Jonathan returned to their alcoves.  Lazarus ordered them to turn around and face the wall.  They did so instantly.

“You didn’t have to do that, Captain,— I ain’t shy about that sort of thing.  I watched ma’ boy fuck his Indian slave for the first time the night of the slave ceremony.  It was incredible.  Somehow, Waco managed to link our minds with his lummox’s and I felt every sensation they were feeling.  I came hard in Blake Tindell’s ass, but I ain’t never come so hard as I did jes’ watching them boys and feel’n what they was feeling.”

“We can do that if you like.  I can let you feel what I feel as I penetrate you.”

“I’d like that very much, Captain.  I feel bad about David and Jonathan.  They were so good and gentle with me.  You should be proud of them.  Have them turn back around, Captain.”

“David,— Jonathan,— resume your normal resting position.   Master Goodnight said you may watch if you like.”

“Thank you, Father, and thank you, Master Goodnight.  It will be an honor, Sir, and will bring us great pleasure.  If we get excited, may we have permission to pleasure each other, Father.”

“All right,— but just this once.  I don’t want you and David wearing each other out when you should be doing other things.  You know I trust you, but if’n I find out you’ve disobeyed me, you know what will happen.”

“Yes, Sir, Father.  We promise, we won’t.  We don’t wanna’ have to wear those chastity belts again.”

Charlie laughed.  He never considered you might have to control android’s sexual habits.  He made a mental note to talk with Lazarus about that.

Lazarus made slow and gentle love to Charlie that only a lover with a couple thousand years experience could.  It was just what Charlie needed.  It was a total relaxation for him and only until the end when he spurred Lazarus on with his comments did Lazarus ride him hard.  He let Charlie feel every nuance he was feeling from the very start of his penetration to his ejaculation.  Charlie couldn’t hold his orgasm back a moment longer and came the same time as his lover.  It’s about as close as two men can get to seeing the face of God when they orgasm together after a long, hot sexual session.  It left both men spent and exhausted.

“Thank you, Captain.  That was wonderful.”  Charlie whispered to Lazarus as he kissed him gently.  Lazarus was still inside of Charlie.

“Shall I withdraw?”  he ask as he returned Charlie’s kiss.

“No,— you feel so good.  I could sleep with you like this all night.”

“And so you shall.”  Lazarus kissed him again.

The men fell asleep in each others’ arms basking in the afterglow of their sex.  It can be the most peaceful sleep to lay with your lover inside you all night.  At least, Charlie Goodnight thought so.  He was looking forward to his new ranch foreman working for him.  Who would have guessed it would be a man from another time and outer space?  Charlie doubted any other rancher could boast such an employee.

* * * * * * *

Lazarus’ servant androids were busy about the cabin doing their early morning chores before they dared to wake their father.  For the most part they were silent and made little noise; however, Lazarus was used to them and knew their habits.  He smiled to himself thinking how like children they could be sometimes, and at other times could floor him with their sound thinking about some things.  He liked for them to call him "Father."  It seemed to develop a slightly different relationship with them than simple Captain and crew.  He thought of them as family.  They were, for all practical purposes, his sons.

He yawned and stretched as he felt his new improved cock still docked in his new boss’s ass.  Lazarus began to grow strong again and his stretching awakened his partner.  Charlie moved his ass down onto Lazarus’ dick as far as he could get it.

“Is that an invitation for an eyeopener, boss man?”  Lazarus asked softly.

“I was a’ hoping you might see it that way, ramrod.”  Charlie chuckled.

“Hang on, Boss, this one will wake you up for sure.”   

“Yee-haw!  Cowboy up, ramrod!”  exclaimed Charlie.

Charlie couldn’t believe Lazarus’ proficiency in fucking.  The man left little doubt in Charlie’s mind he was a cowboy, in more ways than one.  Once again Lazarus linked minds with Charlie and he could feel both.  Lazarus could feel exactly the way Charlie liked to get fucked and made sure he got it that way.  It didn’t take them long before Lazarus yelled he was riding Charlie to the barn.  Charlie told him to slap leather and spur his pony hard in the flank.  Lazarus took him at his word and rode Charlie down hard.  Again they erupted at the same time with Lazarus as far up Charlie’s butt as his could get his big, cowboy dick.

“Woah,— dogies!”  exclaimed Charlie. “‘At damn sure got my eyes wide open, Cowboy.  Thanks for that, ramrod!  I shore’ ‘nuff appreciate last night and this morning.  I wonder if’n you realize what you done for me?”

“I think I have a good idea, Boss man.  I hope I can be a good ramrod for you.”

“I don’t think it’s gonna’ be a problem, Captain.”  Charlie smiled and kissed Lazarus one last time.

They got into the shower and this time they allowed David and Jonathan to bath them.  Charlie thought he could get used to being pampered like this and complemented Jonathan.

“That’s what we’re here for, Mr. Goodnight.  Glad to be of service, Sir.”

As they were putting on their fresh clothes (David and Jonathan took their cowboy clothes and cleaned them while they slept) a knock came at the door.

“Come!”  Lazarus said.  The door parted and in walked a troubled Cable.

“Father,— Ping and Pong have reported ‘suits’ are at the Goodnight ranch asking for Mr. Goodnight.”

“Don’t panic.  Is breakfast ready for my guests?”

“All is prepared and ready.  It’s waiting for you, Father.”

“Good.  We’ll have breakfast and then I’ll decide what to do.  You know I don’t like to think before coffee, Son.  At my age, I need that stimulus to get my neural circuits firing on all eight cylinders in the morning.”

“Sorry, Father,— I just thought you might like to know.”

“I do, and I’m pleased you came to me immediately with it.  You’re doing a find job, Son, I’m proud of you.”

“Thank you, Father.  I try to do the best I can for you.”

“You always do, Son, you always do.  Now, lead the way to the galley.”

Cable lead Charlie and Lazarus to the galley were the rest of the men were gathered.  They all stood and the Captain and his guest joined them.  Lazarus had them join hands and surprised Charlie by giving thanks  for the food and for the fellowship.  Everyone said ‘amen’ afterwards and sat down to a hearty breakfast of bacon, ham, eggs and cereal for the boys if they wanted it.  There was hot coffee and milk for the boys.  It was one of the few times their lummox joined them.  He had his own special chair and there was loads of extra food for him.  Lazarus asked his guest about their evening and all seemed rested and content.  They were looking forward to seeing more of the ship.

“I’m afraid we may have to call an early halt to this visit.  There are some military or government men at the ranch looking for Mr. Goodnight.  I have an idea they detected some anomaly in their instruments that alerted them to a UFO being in the area.  It’s nothing to worry about.  We’ll just tell them the truth,— we went camping in the desert and didn’t see anything unusual.  Even if they wish to ride out to our campsite they won’t find anything.  

Sorry for the interruption, gentlemen; however, we’ll have lots more time we can come out here, and I can show you more of the ship.  There’s a lot more to see, but I’m afraid this will be the last trip we can make for a while.  While the Bandersnatch is invisible to their sensors, it will cause some anomalous readings on their equipment.  Just let Master Charlie, Master Angus and me handle them.  They don’t need to talk with the rest of you.  If they try just tell them you let your Master or in your case, Waco, your dad speak for you.”

“What about Ox, Captain Long?”  Waco asked.

“They won’t see him.  Show them, Son.”   Lazarus ordered Ox.  Ox looked sheepish at the boys and the rest of the men.   Then he wasn’t there.  They gasped and Waco dropped his fork in his plate.

“Lummy?”  Waco cried.

He’s there, Son, you just can’t see him.  He’s fazed himself out of sight.  It’s a trick he and his kind discovered thousands of years ago.  It’s what keeps them from getting shot or caught.  In Ox’s case they shot him with a tranquilizer gun and threw a net over him before he had a chance to faze out.  You can return, now, Son.”  All of a sudden Ox was there again.  Waco got up and hugged him.

<< Can you teach me to do that, Lummy? >>

<< Of course I can, young Master.  It would be my pleasure. >>

“On second thought, Ox, maybe it might be better if you didn’t return to the ranch until I notify Ping and Pong it’s safe for them.  It would just be less questions to answer.”   

Ox looked sad but shook his head he understood.

“Yeah, I don’t want them taking our big buddy away from us.”  Waco smiled at him.  He returned Waco’s smile.

Lazarus told the men to eat a leisurely breakfast.  The government men were salaried.  They weren’t on any time clock, so let them wait.  The men would saddle up and return at a decent time.  They quickly forgot about the government men.  They had much more interesting things to talk about.

“Will we still have time for me to get the longevity shot, Captain?”  Charlie asked Lazarus quietly.  Everyone shut up immediately and looked at Charlie.

“Certainly, Mr. Goodnight, we’ll take you by the med center on the way to get the ponies.  It will only take a minute.”

“You got enough for three more, Captain Long?”  Angus asked.  “Me and my foreman talked it over last night, and we decided if’n we’re gonna’ be a part of all this I don’t wanna’ grow any older than I am now.  I don’t usually give my slaves a choice about vaccinations and such, but I gave my slave a choice last night, and he decided he wants one, too.”

“I’m glad for you, Mr. Goodnight, you Mr. Birdsall and you Shane.  Of course we have plenty,— there’s no problem.”

“Have you boys given thought to Captain Long’s offer of the longevity shots?”

“Yes, Sir, we done discussed it with our handsome lummox last evening.  We decided this is too great an adventure not to take advantage of it.  If we’re to play a major role in helping you, my uncle, Captain Long and his crew, we’re gonna’ need to be as young and strong as possible.  Besides, the thought of being left behind is too awful to think about.  So I’m speaking for me and ma’brothers, Dad, when I say we all want the shot.”  Waco said to his father.

“Somehow I knew there wouldn’t be a problem with you men; however, I was going to let you wait if you had any doubts.”  Charlie replied.

“We ain’t.  Look at our beast, here, Dad.  He’s had the shot, and he’s over six hundred years old.  So you gotta’ know it works.  I don’t want him growing old without me and my brothers by his side.  I don’t want you or my beloved uncles to be by yourselves.  You may need us.”  Waco explained.

“We will always need you and your brothers, Son.”    

“Amen to that.  You jes’ don’t know yet how much we’ll need you.” allowed Lazarus, “Cable,— Son,— notify the med center bots we’ll need eight longevity shots.  Tell them we’ll be there within the hour.”

“Gladly, Father.”  Cable left the room for a moment.

Lazarus had a screen lowered in the Captain’s mess area where the men were eating breakfast so they could watch what the government men were doing.  They were all shocked by their boldness.  They proceeded to go through everything including Charlie’s main house, all the barns and out building.  If there was a lock on a door they couldn’t get a key to right away they cut it off and went in.  They didn’t find anything, but the mere fact they were so bold was unbelievable.  They were acting like Nazi storm troopers.

Since the new theocratic regime had taken over, Charlie and Angus knew there was little they could do about it.  The government usually left farmers and small ranchers alone because they contributed greatly to the economic stability and well being of the country by producing what the nation needed to survive.  They did have some weight when it came to county and local government officials who could bring pressure to bear against outrageous searches.  Everyone had to live their lives like they had absolutely nothing to hide and make damn sure they didn’t.

If the government men tried to plant something, Lazarus would’ve had a recorded image of it.  He and Charlie could install a hidden camera later and claim it took the picture of the government agent planting evidence.  The new regime wouldn’t tolerate someone getting caught planting evidence.  They would turn their heads the other way if there was no proof; however, if they were caught they would throw the book at the offender.  They would be enslaved for life.  Lazarus made damn sure he sent out enough bot-cams to cover each agent’s actions.  There was a camera on each man.

The boys got a big laugh when one agent stepped in a huge meadow muffin, slipped, lost his footing, fell and sat right down on the fresh cow pie.  It was a laugh everyone needed.

The men finished breakfast and sat around talking while they finished their coffee.  They left the table and Lazarus took them through another portal directly into the sick bay or med center.  Charlie was beginning to understand how the portals worked.  Certain ones were for going from room to room and others were for going anywhere else you wanted to be on the ship in an instant.  You could be all the way across the ship through only one portal.

There were a couple androids in the med center.  They were ready and had a handheld injection device that was small and painless.  It shot the correct amount of the longevity formula into a person with only a tiny hole that barely bled.  The best place to inject it was the buttocks.  The men laughed, but no one had a problem dropping his pants.  

The robots in the med center were different from Cable, David, and Jonathan.  They didn’t have as great a range of social skills as they did.  They were sort of matter-of-fact robots that knew their jobs and acted like they were aloof or above it all,— much like most regular doctors and nurses relate to their patients.  The men were pleasantly surprised the shot didn’t hurt a bit, in fact, there was little or no blood.

“How long before this takes effect, Captain?”  Angus asked.

“You should be able to notice something before the day is out.  You may notice your energy level may be slightly increased as will your mental acuity, but then for a while, all your body functions will be stimulated somewhat until your bodies adjust to a normal level.  That should take about a week.”
“ALL body functions will be heightened?”  asked Charlie.

“Yes, Sir, All body function,— that, too.”  Lazarus winked at him.

“Damn glad I got me a new foreman.”  Charlie said under his breath winking at Lazarus.  Angus heard him and almost fell on the floor laughing at his brother.  The boys thought it was pretty damn funny, too.  Cable even laughed.
“Now, if any of you gentlemen have the slightest problem notify me immediately.  I ain’t never heard of anyone having any noticeable reaction to the injection aside from the things I all ready mentioned.  One possible rare side effect is a slight rise in temperature or blood pressure.  The other is a temporary headache.”

JR kind of sighed.

“I don’t think you’re gonna’ have a problem, Son.” Lazarus told JR, “I think Ox’s milk has helped you boys, and I know you were exposed to the Kryscellians last evening.  They would’ve corrected anything Ox’s milk might not have.  They can cure almost any disease a carbon based entity might have.”

“Best you let me tell yore’ mother about you get’n the shot, Son.” Charlie put his arm around JR and gave him a quick hug.

“I will, Master Charlie.  I don’t know what I’d tell her no ways.  She’d think I’s daft or some’um if’n I’s to tell her the truth.”  Everyone laughed with JR.  He continued, “I know Hank would believe me, but I ain’t gonna’ tell him until Captain Long tells me I can.”  They all agreed with him.

“I have no problem with you sharing your experience with Hank Morgan, Son.  He’s a damn good man, and can be trusted with anything we tell him.”

“I agree with Captain Long, Son, if’n you wanna’ tell Hank, go on ahead.  I’ll back you up.  In fact if you wanna’ tell him let me have a minute with him, and I’ll set him up for you.  I’ll just tell him you got something to share with him, and only him, and what you’re gonna’ tell him is not fantasy but God’s gospel truth.”

“I’d appreciate that, Master Charlie, ‘cause I would like to tell Hank.  He’s real special to me.”

“I know, and that’s all the more reason why you should be honest with him.  He cares about you like you was his own boy.”  Charlie assured JR.

“Don’t mean no disrespect, Master Charlie, but I love him so much I sometimes wish’t he was ma’dad.  I know he’s a slave and all, but that don’t matter none to me.  He’s been s’damn good to me and my ma.”

“I certainly don’t take no disrespect from that, young man.  I only admire you more for what you jes’ said.  You’re right, Hank Morgan is a fine man and a good slave.  He deserves your love no matter his status in life.”  Charlie gave JR a big hug and a kiss.  

“Okay, gentlemen, I’ll let you decide over the coming weeks and months about your family and slaves,— if and when you might want them to have the injection.  They won’t have to come to the ship, I can administer the injections myself.  The fewer people know about the ship the better.  With government men sitting around the ranch waiting for us to return I don’t need to impress on you the necessity to keep what you’ve seen, and witnessed to yourselves.  We don’t have to lie to them.  If’n they ask if we seen an unidentified flying object we can tell them truthfully we ain’t seen one; after all, you all recognize my ship as the ‘Bandersnatch.’  It ain’t unidentified.  We all know it’s name,— right?”   The men laughed and agreed with the Captain.

Lazarus nodded to Cable.

“Gentlemen, if you’ll be so kind as to step through this portal we’ll get your horses and you can be on your way.  The stable bots have them saddled and waiting for you.”  Cable said.

The men stepped through the portal and could smell the fresh odor of growing plants with a higher oxygen exchange rate than was in the rest of the ship.  The ship was comfortable but had a sterile smell to it, especially in the sick bay.  This air had familiar smells of new mown hay and animal dung.  To some it may sound repugnant, but to a country boy it’s the smell of all things good and wonderful,— it’s the smell of home.

* * * * * * *
The horses were ready as Cable told them.  Cable made an adjustment to the portal they just came through and they were told to lead their ponies through the portal again.  Charlie knew instinctively they would be back in the desert outside the ship and that’s exactly where they were.

Ox hugged and kissed his wards goodbye, but Lazarus promised them he would be along as soon as the government men left and Ping and Pong would come with him.  They waved goodbye as he turned and walked back through the portal.  The men thanked Cable, wished him goodbye and were on their way.

On the leisurely ride back Lazarus briefed Angus, Charlie, and Bill on how to react to the government men.  He wasn’t worried about Shane because most government men thought themselves too far above a slave to even speak to one.  They had it drilled in their heads all slaves were notorious liars.  

Charlie rode along with the boys for a while and they asked him intelligent questions about what they should say.  He told them just to play dumb.  He stressed the government type look upon country folks as ignorant bumpkins anyways so just reenforce their beliefs.  Travis and Rabbit didn’t have to worry, but if they ask Waco anything just tell them to talk with yore’ dad,— you didn’t see or hear nothing.  

As the men rode into the compound, Hank Morgan and Curley Jones came to greet them and tell them about the government men.  Waco told his dad he and his slaves would take the horses to the barn and take care of them.  He could’ve easily given them to a couple of the slaves standing around, but he wanted to make himself and his posse scarce.

The men had on all their cowboy clothes including chaps and spurs and jingled in unison as they walked toward the government men.  They sounded like they were headed for the last shoot out at the OK Corral.  Lazarus thought how apropos that thought was at that moment.

“Who’s the owner of this ranch?”  The head suit asked gruffly like he was the man in charge.

“I’m owner of this ranch, this is my brother, his foreman, his foreman’s slave, and this tall gentleman is my ranch foreman.  What can we do for you gentlemen?”

“What were you men doing out there in the desert?”

“Camping out overnight.  We heard there was gonna’ be a massive meteor shower and we wanted to git away from the ranch and any ambient light so’s we could see.  It was a wonderful display,— almost as good as fourth of July fireworks.”  Charlie laid it on thick.  The head suit spoke into his handheld communicator.

“Base,— check out meteor showers last night.”

There was a squawk on the small box and a masculine voice said, “Roger.”

“We detected some anomalous reading in this area last night.  We’re looking for anything unusual, and if you men know anything you better tell us right now, or if we find out you’re hiding anything from us you’ll find yourselves in prison without a trial, no lawyer, and no chance for bail.  You’ll rot in prison until you're sold as slaves.  So don’t fuck with me or my men!”

“What the hell are you looking for?”  spoke up Angus.  “You ain’t even told us what you’re here for.  Let me have your name and the department you’re from, Sir.”

“I don’t have to give you my name, cowboy.  Now keep your mouth shut unless I ask you a question.  Got that!”

Angus just shook his head like he’d been defeated.

“Did you men see anything unusual out there in the desert?”

“Who are you speaking to, Sir?”  Charlie asked him.

“You!  You said you’re the owner of the ranch.”

“I didn’t know, you just told my brother to shut up.  We didn’t see anything unusual but the meteor shower.  It was pretty spectacular.”

“We’ve searched your ranch and didn’t find nothing.  Who are those young boys with you?”

“One’s my son, Waco, and the other two are his slaves.”

“A kid has his own slaves?  You must be a wealthy man, Mister Goodnight.”

“They were both gifts to him for his birthday last month.  Have you asked my slaves if’n they saw anything?”

“We don’t interrogate slaves.  Can’t trust a damn thing a slave says.”

“Well, do you want me to ask them?”

“They wouldn’t be any more truthful with you than they are with us.  Don’t bother.  We done asked your cook, and she was in her house in bed all evening with one a’ yore’ slaves.  That’s disgusting.  A freewoman sleeping with a damn filthy slave.”

“Sir, this is the country.  I know about it.  They asked my permission, and I didn’t see no harm if they wanted to share something.  Ain’t chu’ never availed yourself of a slave before?”

“‘At’s different!  I’m a freeman, it’s my right to demand anything of a slave I want!”

“And she’s a freewoman.  I gave her permission to demand my slave to take care of her.  What difference is there?  She’s a woman and you’re a man?  Some folks might say you’re being sexist.  That wouldn’t set well with a lot of people.”

“Are you threatening me, Mister?”  The suit said in a menacing tone.

“How could I, you won’t even give me your name.  How could I threaten you?”

“This ain’t git’n us nowhere.”  said the suit.  There came a squawk on his communicator again.

“Giant meteor shower confirmed.”  said the voice with no emotion.  
“You sure you men didn’t see nothing last night?”

“Only the meteors, and that’s it.  What are you looking for?”

“If you need to know we’ll tell you.  This interrogation is finished.  These dumb cowboys don’t know shit!  I figured this was a waste of time,— another one of central’s wild goose chases.  How many we had over the last six months?  Hundreds of ‘em and no one sees a damn thing.  This ain’t no different.  I think them egghead scientist's instruments are off.  There ain’t nothing here.  Let’s get out a’ here!”

The head suit made a whistle and his men came from all areas of the ranch to get into the black limos.  The suit didn’t bother to shake hands or say goodbye he just jumped into the front passenger seat of the lead limo and they took off in a hurry spraying the men with rocks and gravel from their tires.”

Charlie started to say something but Lazarus poked him gently in his back.  He whispered to the men so only they could hear him.

“Don’t say anything.  They’re listening to us to hear what we say as they leave.  Your conversations may be monitored for several weeks until they get tired.  Your phone conversations will be monitored as well.  Yours, too, Angus.”

“They could a’ told us what they’s looking for.”  said Angus.

“That’s the way they are.  They don’t have to be polite or show us identification.  That’s part and parcel of the new Theocratic Republic.  There are no more personal freedoms.  Our great leader said the Constitution was just a got-damn piece of paper and he proved it.  Just be grateful they didn’t get angry and take one of us.  Once you disappear into the system you’re never heard from again.”  Lazarus told them.

He motioned for the men to follow him.  He lead them to an old RV Charlie had parked out behind one of his barns.  He told Charlie to open it and for everyone to get in.  They picked up the boys on the way and Lazarus asked them to join them.

“Gentlemen, for the next couple of weeks, be very careful what you say.  If you men have anything to discuss of a confidential nature get inside a metal shed or something like your horse trailer, Angus.  This metal RV is perfect.  They can’t hear through metal.  To make sure it’s soundproof, you boys might wanna’ consider covering the windows with aluminum foil.  They may have planted bugs in your house, Charlie, and even in the barns.  I can check it out and disable any you might have.  JR be sure you and Hank are in here or a metal shed when you tell him what you wanna’ tell him.  It’s important.”

“I understand, Captain Long.”

“And no more calling me, Captain Long.  Only on the Bandersnatch am I ‘Captain Long.’  I’m foreman, ramrod or straw boss of this ranch as of tomorrow, right, boss?”

“Indeed, you are, Mr. Long.”  he smiled at Lazarus.

“Any question, gentlemen?”

“All I can say is, I’m glad you’re here, Lazarus.”  spoke Angus resigned, like his brothers never heard him before.  It was obvious he was deeply concerned and troubled about the confrontation they just went through with the suits.  “We live so far removed from the regular world we don’t realize what’s going on out there.  I ain’t from now on.  I’m gonna’ git my ramrod to teach me how to use the internet to find out what’s going on.”

“It’s only gonna’ git worse, gentlemen.”  Lazarus assured them, “Thanks for your vote of confidence, Angus and you Charlie,— well, all you gentlemen.  We won’t let you down, but you needed to know why we’re here, and you just witnessed why.  I’m gonna’ tell Ox and Ping and Pong not to come back until the cool of the evening.  I don’t want them traveling in the desert in this heat.  Let’s git out of hear, I’m burning up.”  The men agreed with Lazarus and exited the RV.  Charlie showed JR how to turn on the air-conditioning unit for the RV when he brought Hank out.  Charlie decided to leave the RV unlocked.

Angus, Bill and Shane said their goodbyes and promised to be in touch soon.  Angus shed a few tears as he hugged and kissed his brother and nephew goodbye.  He even had a couple for his little buddy.  Rabbit didn’t want him to go, but he knew he’d see Master Angus again soon.  Angus drove out of the property to the main road.  The five men were left behind waving as they watched Angus’ big truck turn and head back on the main road.  Lazarus warned them not to talk about anything sensitive in the truck unless they had the windows rolled up and the air-conditioning going.

“Why do I feel like I’ve been reborn to life?”  Charlie asked Lazarus.

“You have in a way, Mr. Goodnight.  There’s another life awaits you and your family,— away from the craziness that’s taken over your world.  It’s only a matter of time.”

* * * * * * *

The afternoon moved slowly along.  Waco and his crew got busy helping Ida Wallace and her staff get out Sunday dinner for everyone.  Some of the slaves didn’t get to go to the fourth of July party at Angus Goodnight’s ranch.  It was regular as clockwork at Charlie’s ranch,— Sunday afternoon dinner was shared by all.  Even Lazarus and Charlie pitched in to help.  Lazarus claimed it made the fried chicken all the more sweet.

Hank Morgan was helping out, too.  Charlie was working next to him.

“JR’s got some’um to tell you about his night in the desert, Hank.”  he told him quietly so Ida couldn’t overhear.

“Good, I’ll look forward to it.  He told me he had a really good time and wanted to talk with me later to tell me all about it.”  Hank seemed pleased JR wanted to share his experience with him.

“A word of warning, Hank.  What JR is gonna’ tell you ain’t from the boy’s imagination.  It’s the God’s gospel truth.  One thing I come to find out about that boy, he don’t lie and I don’t think he’s old enough to understand all Texans enlarge on a story to make it more interesting.”  Charlie laughed.

“Humm, is it anything like the discovery of the healing powers of lummox milk?”  Hank asked.

“You might say that.  That’s a good guess, but no cigar.  What JR will tell you will change all our lives.  It already has changed our lives.  You’ll understand when he tells you.  Just don’t let him think you don’t believe him.”

“I won’t, Master Charlie.  I’m glad you warned me.”  Hank allowed.

Nothing more was said, but Charlie noticed JR sitting with Hank Morgan and Ida Wallace at a picnic table with a couple of slaves.  Waco and his crew were sitting with Charlie and Lazarus.

“You looking forward to tomorrow, ramrod.”  Charlie smiled at Lazarus.

“I’m looking forward to settling down into a quiet routine.  Yes, I guess I am looking forward to tomorrow.  I don’t plan no drastic changes in crews or work schedule.  I’m satisfied Curley and Hank pretty much take care of the day to day things.  I see my job as seeing yore’ orders or wishes are carried out and we keep on a schedule.  I also see my job as bringing things to you and presenting options you might want to consider.  Sort of running interference between you and the slaves.”     

“Sounds good to me.”  said Charlie, “I’m looking forward to spending a little more quality time with my boy.”

“You should,— he ain’t gonna’ be this young all his life and these are the years you two should enjoy each other the most.  After he’s grown he’s gonna’ develop his own set of responsibilities and the two of you won’t have as much time to share together.  Take advantage of it while you can.”

All the slaves wanted to know were Ox, and Ping and Pong were.  Charlie told them they stayed behind in the desert to take care of some personal business, but they would be back around sundown.  Sure enough, just as the sun was setting in the West, Ox strolled into the compound holding Pong’s hand with Ping riding comfortably on Ox’s big shoulder.  The boys ran to them and made over them.   They were glad they were with them again.  Ping and Pong seemed moved by the boys sincerity.  Of course they saved the lions share for their beast.  Ox was once again reunited with his boys,— his men.  Everyone agreed he really looked good in his new outfit the boys got him for the slave ceremony and the fourth of July.  Ox never wanted to take it off.  

Lazarus and Charlie were sitting alone as they watched the boys climb all over their hero.

“Ramrod,— ?”  Charlie started to ask Lazarus a question but stopped like he thought better of it.

“You know I’ll answer any question you have, Charlie.”

“Is there any chance you could do something for Ranger Gibbon’s wife?”

“I wondered why you didn’t ask me last night.”  Lazarus smiled at him.

“I wanted to, but I didn’t think it was the right time.”  Charlie dropped his eyes.

“Look, Boss,— let’s agree on one thing,— you can ask me anything or you can tell me anything, and it will never go beyond you and me.  I’ve lived too damn many years not to know how to be a friend and companion.  In the coming years, you and I are gonna’ have to depend on each other more and more.  I will always be here for you and your family.  No matter how bad things git, I got chore’ back.  I will never let anything happen to you or Waco.  We will never let you down.  We’re gonna’ need each other, Charlie, to git through what’s ahead.  It ain’t gonna’ be no easy trip through the tulip patch.

To answer your question, it depends on how bad Ranger’s wife is,— how far her body has deteriorated.  If, as you say, she has a particularly invasive form of Cancer, she may be well past the point of our help.  Ox’s milk would only postpone the inevitable.  I don’t wanna’ git chore’ hopes up, but I’ve seen the Kryscellians perform some pretty miraculous healings.  We would have to take Ox to her, he would have to hold her hand to diagnose what’s wrong with her and advise us.  He knows more about the Kryscellians than anyone in the universe.  They think on him as their savior.  They almost made him their God.  He’ll know whether the Kryscells can help her or not.”

“Whether we’re successful or not is not the only issue.” said Charlie, “I couldn’t live with myself if I thought there was the slightest chance she could be saved and I did nothing.  Just to know we made the effort, I tried to do what I could to help, would go a long way toward putting my heart as ease and maybe show my friend my love for him is greater than my selfish needs.  Sometimes those things are as important as a miracle or actually healing someone.”

“You’re right, they are important.  We can go over tomorrow afternoon if you like.  If she can be saved, we can ask the Kryscellians for their help.  We might have to take them out of their environment for a while to get them to her, but I don’t see any problem.  They would be returned immediately afterward.  I can set up a portal at Mr. Gibbon’s ranch and all we have to do is step through it."

“After explaining to me how they work, I figured the portals are the means of moving about the planet rather than risking a ship being detected, and all those anomalies the government man said their instruments picked up were other arks landing all over the world.”

“Smart man, Boss.”  Lazarus complemented him.  “That’s only the surface though,— there’s a lot more you don’t know, but you will.  You’ve trusted me this far,— trust me to tell you the rest.”

“I trust you completely, ramrod.”

* * * * * * *

It was early evening.  The sun had set and things were beginning to cool down.   Hank, Ida and JR were sitting in Ida’s living area talking about different things.  JR told his mom what a great time he had camping out under the stars with Master Goodnight and his big brother.  Ida was pleased Charlie and Waco included JR in most everything they did.  Sometimes they wanted to be by themselves, but she could understand that.

“Ma, would you mind if Mr. Morgan and I took a little walk by ourselves for a few minutes.  I got me some man things I need to talk over with him.”

Ida looked at JR and smiled.  She realized her little boy was growing up and would soon become a young man.  She was thrilled for Hank their boy wanted to talk about these things with him.  She knew how much it would mean to Hank.

“Sure, I don’t mind a’ tall.  You men go on ahead.  I got plenty to do around here.  Have a good walk and talk.”

“Thanks, ma.”  JR hugged and kissed her.

Hank stood and gave Ida a hug and a peck on the cheek.  He turned to follow JR out of the small house.  JR led the way to the RV Charlie said he could use.  About halfway across the compound, without asking, JR slipped his small hand in Hank’s like it was the most natural thing in the world for him to do and he just expected Hank to understand.

Hank was devastated.  That simple action from his son damn near ripped his big heart out.  He couldn’t hold back a couple of big hawking tears that came to his eyes without invitation.  He held his head up high and hoped JR wouldn’t notice as they ran down his ruggedly handsome face.  Too late!  He was busted!  A boy like JR never missed much.  JR smiled to himself.  He knew what his action meant to Hank, and he was pleased his message got through.

They reached the RV and JR opened the door for them to go in.

“You sure this is all right with Mr. Goodnight, Son?”  Hank asked the boy.

“It was his idea, Hank.”  They walked in and JR turned on the air-conditioner like Charlie showed him and motioned for Hank to sit down on the small sofa.  JR joined him and sat close to Hank so they were touching.  Touching Hank brought JR a sense of well being, almost like he was a part of the big man.  Hank didn’t move away or jump when JR wanted to sit close to him.  JR reached up, took Hank’s big arm and put it around his shoulders.  He looked up and smiled at Hank.  Hank pulled him close.   

JR looked deeply into Hank’s eyes and spoke to him without taking his eyes away.

“Mr. Morgan, you know you being a slave don’t mean nothing to me.  You know I love you.  I don’t love you the same way my ma loves you, but I do love you.  Now, before I tell you what I got to tell you, I want a kiss from you.  As a freeman, it’s my right to order you to kiss me, but I don’t wanna’ do that.  I want you to kiss me because you love me and care about me.  Please, Hank,— gimme’ a quick kiss.”

Hank got tears in his eyes again, but this time so did JR.  They moved slowly to each other and joined their mouths in a gentle kiss.  JR could feel the rough, sunburned, cracked lips of the man he loved so much and Hank could feel the soft unblemished youthfulness of his son’s lips.  They didn’t exchange tongue,— a gentle kiss was all JR wanted.  He didn’t want a passionate kiss from Hank.  He wanted a kiss of brotherhood and understanding.  Hank read him loud and clear and was moved to his core by his boy’s actions.  He couldn’t have been more proud or loved JR more than at that moment.  JR took out his bandana, wiped the tears from his eyes and handed it to Hank.  Hank smiled at him, nodded and wiped the tears from his eyes.

“Thanks, Mr. Morgan, I needed that.”

“To be honest, I think I did, too, Son.  You can order this old slave to give you a kiss anytime you need one, young Master.  It’s true, you know I love you and yore’ ma with all my heart.  I’m also downright proud and honored you love me enough to wanna’ share some’um with me like ‘at.  You can’t know what it means to this old slave, Son.”

“I got some’um I wanna’ tell you, Mr. Morgan, what ain’t got nothing to do with my camp out last night.  All these years when I done wrong and ma turned me over to you to take yore’ belt to me, I never understood why she’d ask a slave to punish me.  I always wondered why she didn’t take me to Master Charlie and have him do it.  I always reckoned it was because Master Charlie didn’t care enough about me to correct me, but it was more’n ‘nat.  I cain’t fault Master Charlie’s love for me and ma.  He ain’t never been nothing but good and kind to us.  He goes out of his way to see to our needs and comfort.  Him and Waco include me in most ever’ damn thing they do.  I couldn’t love him and ma’ big brother more.

You ain’t never gimme’ a lick’n but a handful of times, but when you did, they was good ones.”  JR chuckled. “I cain’t say’s I didn’t deserved ‘em none neither, Mr. Morgan, but the last time you gimme’ a lick’n I come to understand I wouldn’t want no other man correcting me.  You always talked with me first so’s I’d understand what I was being punished for and why.  I guess it was the last time you whupped me I lost all fear of you and came to accept you as someone more important to me than just my ma’s boyfriend.  Truth is, Hank, I come to think on you as ma’ pa.  I couldn’t be more proud of you if’n you was my old man, Mr. Morgan.  I wouldn’t have me no shame being the son of a slave, especially as fine a man as you are, Hank.”

Hank Morgan sat there stunned.  He didn’t know what to say.  How was he going to handle this?  He squeezed JR’s shoulder, but he didn’t dare look in his eyes.  He just continued to stare off into space praying for a miracle.

“Now, before you go off protesting and tell’n me it cain’t be so, ‘cause if’n I was the son of a slave that would make me a slave, too.  I ain’t asking to call you pa or dad.  All I’m say’n is I love you like you was my dad, Mr. Morgan, and I’m proud to have a man like you in my life.”

Hank breathed deeply and let out a sigh.  His prayer was answered.  His own boy provided him with his miracle.

“As a slave, I guess I shouldn’t have such feelings for a young freeman Master, Son, but I cain’t help feeling the same way about you.  If’n I was a freeman, I’d be the proudest most lucky man in the world to have a boy like you.  You gotta’ know I love you and yore’ ma more than life itself.  The times I had to punish you liked to have ripped my damn heart out.  I know h’it ain’t right, but I come to think on you as ma’boy, Master JR.”

“Then,— do we understand each other, Mr. Morgan?”

“We do, Son.”

“One more, Hank?”  JR asked looking up into Hank’s deep brown eyes.  

The two men sealed their bond with another gentle kiss.  This time there was a great deal more passed between them; however, it was a natural flow,— as right as a river flowing to the sea,— as right as a cooling shower on the hottest day of summer while laying with a beloved friend in the hayloft,— as right as the love of a father for his son.

End Chapter 10 ~ Waco’s Lummox
Copyright 2006 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All Rights Reserved ~
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com