By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 19

The party broke up early.  Everyone said goodbye and left.  The Stamper boys were impressed by the ramrod from the Goodnight ranch and his son.  They were somewhat confused, because Lucas was his father’s slave, but they also noticed all the men went out of their way to include him in everything.  One or the other of them, including their Masters, had an arm around him, holding him close at all times.  He was rarely left alone.  He seemed to be genuinely enjoying their attention.  

Everyone left and the boys were alone with their boss.  Blake complemented them on the way they behaved themselves and told Sam he did a good job of paying homage to the free men and Masters.  His brothers agreed with Blake.  The boys begin to get ready for bed.  They had several questions for their boss before they left for the showers.

“How much do you know about Master Long’s son, boss?” asked Sam.

“Not much.  I know he’s a good and honest young man.  I play football with him, Master Waco and his slaves every Sunday.  I always play on Lucas’ team.  He’s the quarterback, and he’s a damn fine athlete.  I’d hate to judge who was a better quarterback, him or Master Waco.  I would have to pick Lucas, but that’s because I play on his team.  I know he and Master Waco, Master Waco's slaves, and his little brother, JR, are tight with him.  They think on him as one of their brothers.  I know he loves his Master very much and waits on him hand and foot.  He helps out in the kitchen at the big ranch house.  He’s a hard worker and a concerned person.  He’s gone out of his way to be a friend to me.  I love him like he was my little brother.”

“He looks a lot like his dad, but he don’t act like Master Long is his dad.” said Phil.

“That’s because Lucas is a slave and his dad is his Master.  They don’t have a typical father-son relationship.”

“Yeah, but he’s jes’ too devoted to his dad to be normal.” added Burt.

“What’s normal, Burt?  The kind of relationship you had with yore’ dad?  I don’t think so.  Lucas loves his Master who jes’ happens to be his dad.  After a while, you’ll come to respect, love and appreciate Master Hoot and Master Cotton.  I already done told ju,’ when I was first a slave, they was my trainers.  I fought them tooth and nail,— harder than you men ever’ thought about.  ‘Course I was a little older than you and set in ma’ ways.  I thought I’s the roughest, toughest, meanest damn cowpoke in the whole of West Texas.  It took ‘em damn near three full months to break me, but when they did, I gave up my old ways, and I never had me no more problems.

I began to learn to trust and respect them.  I even loved them for breaking me, because before I was a bullheaded, strong willed, self-centered, redneck, cowboy asshole what done exactly what he wanted with no thought or consideration for anyone else’s feelings but ma' own.  Once they broke me, they began to work with me and teach me, not only how to be a slave, but also how to be a decent human being.  After a while, it dawned on me one morning, I loved them for molding me into a good person, a productive slave, and a better'n average cowboy.

You can’t understand what I’m telling you now, but you will.  One day you’ll be proud to stand up and tell any man you love Master Hoot and Master Cotton,— jes’ like Lucas ain’t ashamed to tell no man he loves his Master.  Maybe you might even find room in yore’ hearts to love a cowboy as flawed as yore’ jigger boss,--- yore' crew leader.”

They all looked at him funny, but no one said anything.

“I already do, boss.” said Jeb quietly.  “None a’ the rest of ma’ brothers may admit it, but we learned a lot from you in this past month, and if’n we can’t go to school, I’m looking forward to learning more from you over the next year.  I’ve learned more here in a month than I ever learned sit’n in a classroom at school.”

“We’ve learned a lot from you, Jeb.  I appreciate your comment.  If’n we hadn’t worked as a team, we wouldn’t have this nice place to stay in.  You made it possible, gentlemen.  You made it happen, so be proud of yourselves and know whatever comes your way in the future, you can handle it.”

The other brothers came to him one by one to sake his hand and thank Blake for being understanding with them and teaching them things.  It touched Blake, and he began to wonder if he was going to have any problems with them.  Even Burt seemed to be sincere and changing his attitude.  He seemed to be growing closer to his brothers as he began to appreciate their talents and what each one brought to the team.  They were beginning to think of themselves not as closely related individuals but as brothers bound together in a situation not of their choosing, but one which forced them to bond to each other.  That evening the boys luxuriated in the simple pleasure of enjoying enough hot water to take a long, languid shower together in the room they created.

* * * * * * *

Lazarus had his arm around Lucas all the way back to the ranch.  He took his hand in his other hand.

“I’m proud of you, boy.  You done good this evening.” he said quietly.  

“Thanks, Dad.  I couldn’t a’ done it without everyone’s support.”

“We’re all proud of you, Lucas.” said Charlie. “I kind a’ hope you don’t never tell them who you was.”

“I have no intentions of telling them any time soon, Master Charlie, if at all.  I was sit’n there thinking I was so close to them, but so far apart from them.  I really didn’t wanna’ close that gap between us.  I like where I am now, and I don’t know if I would enjoy being their brother again.  My brothers are Master Waco, Ox, Travis, Little Bear, JR, Bryce, and Mr. Tindell.  Oh, yes, and Cable, David and Jonathan.  I couldn’t have me no better brothers.  At least I know I can count on them to be there for me.”

“Well said, young man” agreed Hank Morgan.    

* * * * * * *

Blake completed the plans for the new slave quarters.  Hoot and Cotton decided they didn’t care for the idea of a two story structure.  They thought it might be too dangerous in case of fire.  They wanted everything to be on the ground floor, ranch style; however they weren’t opposed to creating four separate wings joined by a common room.  They wanted to attach a common room to their other slave quarter and have Blake and the boys continue their remodeling of the current common room so they could use it as another slave quarter.  

Blake and the boys had their work cut out for them and as soon as the plans were approved, the material delivered, they set into work.  By that time, Blake had all the tools he needed and several extra Skil saws so the boys wouldn’t have to be fighting over them.  The foundations were laid as one complete unit; however, they built one section at a time.  The further they went the more experienced the boys became until they were working at peak output as a team.  Blake was proud of them.  He hadn’t had any major problems with any of them.  In two months they almost had one wing of the structure completed.  It was Blake’s plan to complete one wing as the boys permanent residence, and they would finish the rest from there.  It was turning out to be nicer than anyone expected.  The boys were looking forward to moving into it.

* * * * * * *

Arlen started to show.  He was such a big man he could carry extra weight, and it didn’t look bad on him.  He looked like your typical rancher who ate a little too much too often and had a belly hanging over his big cowboy belt buckle.  Waco, his boys and Lucas decided it made him very sexy in a redneck sort of way.  Since he was getting more lummox fortified milk, everything seemed to be going alone fine, and his complection was perfect.  He was positively radiant.  The cowboys would put an arm around him and tell him what a pretty little mother he made.  Arlen would howl with laughter.

Shane, Bill Birdsall and Angus were particularly interested in his progress and spent a lot to time with him getting his impressions of pregnancy.  Shane made no secret of it, he wanted to have Bill Birdsall’s baby.  He figured his Master would never marry, and he wanted to make damn sure there was a couple of little Birdsalls around to carry his name.  Bill wasn’t sure, but Angus was a big influence.  The more he saw Arlen and how he was doing the more he was swayed to let his slave-brother have his ramrod’s baby.

Bryce couldn’t be more attentive with his dad.  He came to the ranch more often.  He really enjoyed Sunday dinner and playing football with the boys.  He was also developing a secret crush on Blake Tindell, but he didn’t let anyone know but his little brother.  Lucas told him he considered Blake to take him for his first time.

“I even thought about asking you, big brother.  I know dad wouldn’t mind.  He was really sorry for the misunderstanding you two had.  He loves you very much.”

“I know he does.  I over reacted, like I usually do; however, I’m learning not to.  Working in the jungle I have a lot of time to think and I realize I’ve got to change some of my short comings if I ever expect someone to love me.  I don’t think I want a relationship with another man.  I shore’ ‘nuff enjoy sex with other men, but I’d like to meet a good woman and raise a family; however, right now, for a cowboy buddy I’d like to play with, I got Blake Tindell in my sights.”

“You couldn’t go wrong with that cowboy.  He’s gonna’ reach the end of his indenturement in a couple of years.  He’ll be a freeman, but he’ll still be on probation another five years.”

“I don’t care if he’s a salve.  You know I don’t make distinctions between slaves and freemen.  I try to treat all men the same.  So do you.  I see the respect and the love you show Travis, Little Bear, Hank Morgan and Blake Tindell”

“You’re right.  I love them men equally.  They been good to me.”

* * * * * * *

April came and the weather began to warm up.  The small orchard Charlie let the slaves plant was in full bloom.  Charlie agreed to buy them any fruit trees they wanted in the quantity they asked for as long as they would take care of them and Ms. Wallace got some of the fruit for the main house.  That was fine with them.  It meant they could supplement their diets with fresh fruits of the season.  They planted several varieties of peaches, pears, plums, apricots, and apples.  The last several years they had so much yield they couldn’t use it all, even after giving a good tithe to their Master’s household.  With Charlie’s approval, they took buckets of fruit to the church to give to the elderly and poor of the community.

Charlie bought them a huge canning pressure cooker and many cases of Mason jars to can their fruit and make preserves.  Ida Mae usually put up a bunch of things every year so she could have condiments for the table.  She helped the men and taught them how to can the fruit.  They built shelves and had row after row of canned fruits and vegetables to last them the year.  It was a busy time of year and everyone pitched in to help.   Even the boys were at the slave quarters every afternoon after school for several weeks lending a hand.  The slave-cowboys enjoyed having them around.

The ladies were still going to see their ‘boy friends’ as they jokingly referred to Cable, David and Jonathan to their husbands.  Ranger and Bobby weren’t threatened in the least and told them they looked on them as much their boy friends as theirs.  They would sometimes go along with their wives to sit in the galley, have coffee and delicious pastries, and bullshit with the Captain’s sons.  They were as fond of them as anyone.  Ranger and Bobby laughed at each other.  They would keep erections the whole time they were visiting on the ship.  They would sometimes pair off with one of the androids and share a few moments of passion.  Later,  Ranger and Bobby would compare notes about which android was the best.  Of course, Cable, David and Jonathan did the same.

* * * * * * *

Bad news flows on the winds as well as good.  Waco was the first to know.  He received word through the winds of consciousness before anyone, including Ox.  He discussed it with the Kryscells and asked their advice.

“You have heard the news, young one?” they sang to him of sorrow and loss.

“How did you know?  I was going to wait to tell you, but then, I’m not surprised.  You have a connection with the winds as well.”  Waco told them, “I wanted to ask your advice.  Who should I tell first, Ox or his Godfather?”

“We have studied human protocol along with other fascinating points of interest including your rich variations of sexual apatites.  It is our opinion you should tell his Godfather first and let him decide how to proceed.  We understand your close relationship with our savior, and in your society you currently own him, but as you know that is only a metaphor he allows to exist.”

“I know.  He’s my slave only because he loves me enough to want to be, and I love him enough I don’t think I could live without him now.  I’ve come to lean on and depend on him for his strength, his love and his gentle encouragement.  I have come to understand, he's unique among the creatures of the universe.  I sometimes wonder whether he’s my slave, or I’m a slave to him;  however, I’m comfortable with either thought.”

“He certainly is unique, young one, and your feelings for him are accurate.  They also show how intertwined your spirits have become.  That’s not a bad thing.  We love him without measure, and we’re so happy you have each other.  He is going to need you more than ever right now, but still, our advice would be to tell Captain Long.”

“I will, and thank you for your advice.  I guess I knew in my heart it would be the right thing to do.  I think the winds have not spoken to my lummox because, they are waiting for me to make a decision.  With your help, I have.  I only learned last evening.  I will tell Captain Long today.  Today is Sunday and everyone, including slaves, have dinner together.  My slave don’t care for human food much.  He prefers the rich, whole goodness of slave chow and biscuits.”

“We wonder sometimes what it might be like to consume plant material.  We wouldn’t want to know about consuming animals.  The thought is repugnant to us.”

“I’m working on that.” smiled Waco.

“We know.  You’re good at hiding things from us you don’t care to share with us right away, or you want to surprise us with, but we know you have some radical plans in mind.  We know Captain Long has given you a charge to develop ideas to make us more mobile so we can experience more things.  We will work with you and our savior.  He must have final approval of any plans we mutually agree on.  It’s good you’ve developed the power to lock us and others out.  It will keep your mind safe from nefarious factions in the universe.  They will be able to probe only so much of your mind.  Most won’t be as sophisticated as we are.  They will be able to sense the secret chambers.  Work on that.  Develop it more.  Teach your brothers.  It will be useful to you in the future.”

That afternoon, before Sunday dinner, everyone was gathered.  Charlie had Angus, his ramrod, his slave and family over for dinner.  All the major members of their extended family were there.  Waco pulled Lazarus aside and asked if he would take a walk with him to let his pony Ranger out of his stall.  Waco rarely asked anything of Lazarus, but he sensed the boy had something important to discuss with him.  They almost got to the new barn, and Waco looked at him and spoke.

“Captain Long,— Pangle is dead.” he said quietly.

“Oh, my God.  Are you sure, Son?” Lazarus looked grief stricken.

“I’m sure, Sir.  I discussed it with the Kryscells yesterday and asked their advice about who to tell.  They suggested I tell you first and let you tell my slave.  I agreed with them.”

“Do you know how it happened?”

“Naw, Sir.  I ain’t got no particulars.  All I got was the message she was dead.  The Kryscells confirmed it.”

“That’s awful.  A damn shame.  What a loss for Garron, Strom, Garron’s boy and Garron’s two daughters.”

After they got into the barn, Lazarus grabbed Waco, held him and stole a kiss.

“Thanks, Son.  You done the right thing.  I have to tell him this afternoon.  You may have to do without him for a while.  I know he’ll want to go to his other dad, Strom, and his boy.  They will be devastated.  Don’t worry, he will return to you.  If you weren’t in school right now, I’d ask Charlie to send you with him.”

“I want to be by his side, Captain.”

“I know you do.  We have a ship in their general area.  The Captain and his first mate happen to be good friends of ours.  Remember the holographic video you watched of Captain Trong and his mate Commander Fielding?”

“Yes, Sir, I certainly do remember them.” Waco emphasized the word ‘certainly’ and grinned at Lazarus.

“Captain Trong got that command, because there’s a large population of lummox what live in the far North along with a few hybrids like yore’ Ox’s boy Bron.  He’s a fine looking creature.  You’d fall in love with him, and I know he’d fall for you.  He might not let you come back.” Lazarus winked and laughed.  “He’s half Volgoron and half human.  He got the best of both species, especially his human daddy’s good looks.  Let me see what I can do.  I can arrange a portal between ships.  If’n I can talk Charlie into letting you go, maybe you could miss a couple of days school.”

“Maybe you haven’t heard,— we’re out for the rest of next week.  It’s Easter break.”

“Sweet.” said Lazarus grinning at Waco.   

That evening after the football game, Lazarus took Ox aside with Waco and told him his surrogate mother was dead.  Ox let out a wail that could be felt to the bottom of your soul.  Everyone gathered around the barn to see what was going on.  Waco went out to tell them the news, and they all felt bad for him.  

“Look, Son, I’ve been in contact with Captain Trong and Commander Fielding.  We’ve established a portal link to their ship.  They say Strom and Bron are in the area, but they don’t know exactly where.  They have robo-cams on them, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find them.  I talked with Master Charlie, and he’s willing to let Waco go with you.  You need someone with you.”  

Ox looked into Lazarus eyes.

<< Thanks, Dad.  I wish you could go with me, but I know you have responsibilities here.  Can I bring my family back if they’ll come?  We talked about asking Trong’s help with your twins.  I can’t think of anything to help him recover quicker than having to take care of a pair of new bairns. >>

“Of course you can.  That’s a wonderful idea.  Even if they can’t live around here, we can keep them on the ship for a while.  I don’t see why we couldn’t clean Trong and Bron up and have them live among us.  You’ve been accepted pretty well and we’re a long way from other folks for anyone to get upset.  Your tribe has lived in arid places before.  If fact, Ping and Pong tell me there are several families within a hundred mile radius of us.”

<< Tell Master Charlie I’m grateful to him for allowing me to take Waco with me.  I will guard him with my life.  He won’t be in any danger. >>

“I know, Garron.  Charlie trusts you completely.  Waco begged him to let him go.  He knows you’ll be hurting and you need him right now.”

Charlie came into the barn and took Ox into his arms to comfort him.

“I’m so sorry, Son.” he said to Ox.

“He says he appreciates your comfort, Master Charlie.”  Lazarus told him.

Waco didn’t pack anything.  He just got his favorite heavy coat, his rain gear and hat and was ready to go.  At Lazarus’ suggestion, he did wear a pair of long johns under his clothes.  Ox decided to go native and left his favorite costume behind.  He was going home and wanted to look like his kin.  After saying ‘goodbye’ to their loved ones, they stepped through the portal onto a cargo deck on the Archimedes.

They were welcomed by the Captain and his first mate.  Captain Trong was even bigger than Waco remembered in the video.  He towered over Ox a good foot and a half and out weighed him by a hundred pounds of solid lummox muscle. He was one hell of a good looking lummox.  He was massive.  Commander Fielding was far more handsome in person than he appeared in the video.  ‘No wonder Captain Trong fell in love with him, and the Commander fell for the big lummox.  They look like they belong together.’ Thought Waco.

“Why, thank you, young man.” said Commander Fielding reading his thoughts.  Captain Trong laughed.

<< Forgive me Captain Trong.  I didn’t mean to be rude. >>

<< Nonsense, young man.  It’s perfectly all right.  It’s refreshing to find someone who thinks out loud. >>  he chuckled at his play on words.

<< Garron! >>  projected Captain Trong to Ox and held his arms open for him.  Ox went to him and shed a few tears in the big lummox’s arms. << We’re so sorry.  We heard about an hour ago it was a tragic accident.  There was a freak lightening storm and there was a huge fire.  They were foraging in the highlands and the fire swept up the side of the mountain engulfing everything in its path.  Everyone was running from it, but a burning tree fell and pinned Pangle to the ground.  They couldn’t get it off of her because it was on fire.  The folks we talked with say she died instantly and was burned beyond recognition.  There was nothing Strom or Bron could do to save her.  They tried.  They got some logs and tried to wedge them under the tree, but she was already dead. >>

“We’ve managed to locate them since we talked with Captain Long.  They’re in the Bonzall Falls area, about a day’s walk from here.  We thought about going to pay our respect if you don’t mind company.”  said Commander Fielding.

<< No, not at all.  I brought my young Master with me.  I’m sorry I haven’t introduced you, Sir.  Captain Trong, Commander Fielding, this young man is my Master and savior, Waco Goodnight. >>

The big man and his lummox companion took Waco’s hand and shook it in turn.

“We’ve heard a lot of good things about you, Master Waco.  Welcome to the Archimedes.” said Commander Fielding.

<< It’s not often we find someone so young able to communicate with us, Master Waco.  It is a treat to be able to send and receive from you.  Welcome aboard the Archimedes. >>  projected Captain Trong.

“It’s a pleasure to be here and an even greater pleasure to meet you.  I feel like I know you from your reproduction video.  Viewing that video was one of the best experiences of my young life, gentlemen.”

They laughed and told him it was why they made the video, for the education of people who might have some questions or reservations about interspecies relationships.

Ox and Waco had a light dinner with them and their family and found them the ultimate gracious hosts.  Their bairns were well mannered and interested in Waco.  The oldest boy was human and Waco’s age.  The youngest of the six was a female lummox still in her dad’s pouch.  Waco hardly noticed because Captain Trong was in his full Winter coat; however, as they were having supper she decided she was hungry and started crawling up her daddy’s stomach to his teats.  She climbed like an expert rock climber hand over hand with the toes on her little feet closing around his fur for support.  She didn’t stop until she was hooked up to his right teat and began sucking like it was her last meal.  He smiled at her and put a giant paw to her back for support.  She seemed to know it was him.  She sort of sighed and relaxed to engorge herself on her daddy’s milk.  They told him her name was Theeta Loom.

“She seems to like his right teat for some reason.” observed the Commander, “I’ve always thought his milk is sweeter from that one.”  he laughed.

They suggested they get a good night's sleep, and everyone would start out early in the morning.  Since Waco was with him, Ox agreed it would probably be best.  The oldest boy wanted to go with them, but obviously they told him he couldn’t go; however when he found out Waco was the same age he asked again.

“Father Trong, please let me accompany you on this trip.  Master Waco’s the same age I am.  I won’t be a burden.”

Trong looked at the Commander.  Keith Fielding barely nodded his head and Captain Trong knew it was all right with him.

“All right, young man, but you better keep up,— and no complaining.” Trong spoke out loud.

Waco was stunned.  It was the first time he heard a lummox speak and Captain Trong had a booming bass voice that reverberated around the room.  The boy, Gavin, threw his arms around his lummox father and planted a big kiss on his cheek.

“I promise, Dad, I’ll keep up.”

Then the next youngest lummox and human wanted to go but the Commander put his boot down.

“With Captain Trong carrying a young one,— will that be a problem?”  asked Waco.

“No, not a bit.  We just won’t take her along.  Captain Trong’s father is on board our ship, and he babysits all the bairn when we need to be away.  With all the young ones around, he produces lots of milk.  She’s used to staying in his pouch.  Trong has a hard time convincing him to give her back sometimes, but that’s jes’ because he loves her so much.” The Commander laughed. “He would’ve joined us for supper, but he’s busy with several of his orphaned bairns he takes care of here on our ship.  They are too young to go out into this harsh environment and fend for themselves.  Besides, we’re trying an experiment to raise them more as Volgorons than Earthly lummox.” The Commander explained. “We take them out into the environment regularly, but there’s no sense in keeping them out too long in our current winter weather.  We’re expecting snow for tomorrow and possibly a blizzard for the next day, so we have to get there and back before it hits.”

“Could we get lost?” asked Waco.

“Not very likely.  Lummox and Vologrons have a much more highly developed sense of direction.  Even limited hybrids like our human children inherit certain talents from their other dad in their one percent.  That seems to be one of them.  We also have much more advanced geo-positioning technology than that available on Earth.”

They went to bed early and Waco slept as close to his lummox as he could get.  Waco wasn’t going to let his Ox pleasure him, because of the gravity of their situation, but Ox insisted it would help relax him to bring pleasure to his young Master.  Waco couldn’t say ‘no’ to his ‘Lummy’ and gave himself to him.  Waco only wished he was older and big enough to satisfy his Ox, but he was willing to wait.  He was growing every day.  Waco was a bit surprised they got a good night’s sleep.  Ox didn’t let go of him all night and clung to Waco like he was his lucky talisman.

They were up before dawn having breakfast the next morning.  They were being served by a staff of androids who were naked like Captain Long’s; however, they weren’t nearly as perfect and life-like as the Captain's men.  They spoke very little and went about their work without much emotion.  Cable, David and Jonathan would be joking, laughing and relating with their guests.

The humans pulled on their heaviest garments.  The Commander replicated Waco a pair of heavy moon-boots to ward against the cold.  They were waterproof and fleece lined.  They were also electrically warmed to keep his feet toasty in the coldest snow covering.  He also replicated him a full length, heavy parka with a fur lined hood to cover most of his head.  It too was electrically warmed.  They were powered by small batteries of subatomic engines that would never wear out.  Their boy, Gavin, loaned Waco a heavy pair of electric gloves and one of his electric scarves to cover his neck and face against the cold.

Waco thought it was a bit too much until they informed him they were within a couple hundred miles of the arctic circle.  After he’d been out in the cold for less than an hour, he began to appreciate the warm clothing.  Ox and Trong wore nothing else.  Their fur insulated them against the cold.  They were built for cold weather and the Commander told Waco their blood produced an anti-freeze like substance that protected their innards from the cold.

Waco didn’t know if he could keep up the pace with all the clothes he was wearing, but he managed.  The humans had to wear snow shoes strapped onto their moon-boots, but the lummox didn’t.  Their feet were so big they would leave a deep impression, but their huge feet would compact the snow so tight it would support their weight.

It was late afternoon before they came to the frozen waterfall.  Waco had never seen such a beautiful sight.  He couldn’t even imagine a frozen waterfall but there it was,— a hundred and thirty feet of frozen water.  It looked like a waterfall suspended in time and space,— like a still shot from a movie of a waterfall.  It was incredibly beautiful.  Waco stood for a moment admiring it.  His hiking companion, Gavin, stood next to him.

“It’s really something, ain’t it, Waco?”

“Unbelievable.  Nobody at home is gonna’ believe me.” he replied.

“I got your back, brother.” he smiled.

“Hope you can come visit with us, Gavin.  I’ll put you on the back of my favorite pony, Ranger.  He’ll treat you real good and give you a fine ride.”

“I’ve never been on a horse before, Waco.  I’d love to come visit.”

“Hell, come live with us for a spell.  Me and ma’ brothers would love to have you.  Go to school with us.  There’s plenty of room.”

“Don’t know if my dad’s would go along with it, but thanks for the kind invitation.”

“I can speak to them for you, if’n you like.”

“Would you?  That would be really nice of you.”

“Shore,’ we be brothers ain’t we?”

“To the bone, brother!” Gavin drawled.  They shared a laugh.

“Come along men,” said the Commander, “it isn’t much further.”

The party of lummox and men walked around the next bend and came upon a great outcropping of rocks.  Captain Trong led the way in, around, over and under rock formations until they came to a hidden opening.  He and Ox had to dig some of the snow away to find it, but sure enough there was an opening just large enough for a good size lummox to crawl through.

They all went in single file and crawled for about thirty feet until they came to a greater opening where they could stand.  When they did, they were in a great cavern within the side of the mountain.  It was surprisingly warm inside.  The temperature was somewhere in the high seventies and the humans immediately began to feel too warm with all their protective clothing.  Waco thought to himself, ‘How is this possible?’

<< Geo-thermal vents, Son. >> Captain Trong sent to him.  Waco forgot and left his thought-channel open.  He smile to himself. << This is a high volcanically active area.  There are heated pools and mud-pots all through these caves.  Our people have used unknown caverns like these for centuries to withstand the cold during the winters.  Their dead relatives are brought here to one of several chambers for the final resting place of their bodies; however,  their spirits and intelligence live on within us.  We all share a portion of Pangle.  Her spirit isn’t dead to us, just her physical body.  She travels on forever with us. >>

Waco heard about it from Ox and Captain Long, but he never had to consider it until now.  He could understand the mixed feelings it might bring.  He never considered if he tapped into the winds, he might feel and sense Pangle and keep a part of her within himself.

“Of course you can.” spoke the Commander who had been monitoring their conversation closely. “It’s something new to you and you just haven’t learned to do it yet.  I share memories and consciousness of Pangle.  We all do.  She will never die away in the sense that human’s understand death.  She may choose to return someday in a new lummox bairn; however, she won’t for a while.  She needs to digest the physical life she just completed.  Our greater concern isn't for Pangle.  She's happy and comfortable living among us.  We're concerned for the living,--- for Strom and his family."

They crossed the vast expanse of the main cavern and came to an area where several paths ventured off in different directions.

“This is one of the largest caverns on the North American continent, Waco, but it has never been discovered by white men.  Only a few Native Canadians and mostly lummox know about it.  It goes on for many miles in every direction.  We don’t know if it’s ever been fully explored by either species.”

Ox and Trong knew exactly the way to go to the main room to find the family.  Their sense of smell was almost as good as a dog's.  After a while Waco could smell the unmistakable scent of Sasquatch and it got stronger and stronger.

‘I wonder if I'll ever get used to the smell?’ he again thought to himself.  

<< You might be surprised. >> responded Captain Trong.  << I lived among them for sometime and took on their habits.  You do get used to it, but they can adjust to the human condition.  True Volgorons never allowed themselves to become so rank; however, here on a savage world with many different species competing for food and shelter, it was a natural development for this branch of our family.  They can be acclimated to living among humans.  Look at your lummox.  He’s a perfect example.  Well, maybe not perfect.  He started out as a proper Volgoron. >> the Captain laughed.

They finally came to another giant cavern where the family were gathered around warm pools, cooking their food in the hot water bubbling up from the ground.  All around were comfortable looking fur skins spread on the floor.  It looked like any family encampment of a prehistoric people.  They all stood as the men entered the cavern.  There must have been a hundred and fifty of them,— all ages and sizes.  The youngest ran to stand behind their elders.

Waco saw one lummox that towered over the others.  Next to him was what looked like a hairy man covered in animal skins.  He wasn’t the cleanest looking man Waco ever saw, but he couldn’t help be impressed by the man’s physical beauty.  He knew immediately the man-lummox must be Ox’s son, Bron.  He saw Ox and they ran to each other.  They embraced and began hugging and kissing one another.  The giant lummox stood a couple of feet taller than Ox or Trong and had another fifty to a hundred pounds on him.  He was the most enormous creature Waco ever saw.  

When he came to embrace Ox and Trong there was no doubt in Waco’s mind, the giant lummox was Strom.  He sobbed in his son’s arms as Captain Trong stroked his back in comfort.  After a while, Ox introduced the rest of their party to them.  They already knew the Commander and his son, Gavin. They offered their hands, but Bron and Strom wouldn’t settle for anything but full body contact, so they got embraced.  One wouldn’t argue such a small point with such a huge critter as Strom.  Waco made a mental note not to.

He was the last Ox introduced.  Bron hugged him and Waco got an erection.  At that moment, he was glad for all the extra clothing he was wearing.  Waco forgot he was half lummox and probably could smell his sexual arousal.  Bron smiled at him.

“Don’t worry, young one, I feel the same way.” he spoke to Waco.  

“Thank you, Bron.  I don’t feel so embarrassed.”

“Just watch out for my granddad behind me.” he laughed.  Strom pushed Bron out of the way and grabbed Waco gently.  He hugged him and kissed him on top of his head.  He smelled like a garbage dump on a hot day, but he was loving.  Waco couldn’t help fall in love with him.  He was too damn big not to.

<< It’s so good to finally meet you, Sir.  I’ve heard so much about you.  I’m so sorry for your loss.  Your loss is my loss, Strom. >>

The big creature shed a few tears in Waco’s arms.  He sat down and pulled Waco into his lap.  Waco could feel his enormous penis poking him in the back through his heavy coat.  

<< My mate is at peace now, Son.  She left this plane swiftly. There wasn’t a lot of pain, she tells us.  After the fire was over, we went back and brought her here.  Her body has joined her ancestors, but she is still with me and our family.  She can hear us and see you.  You may speak to her if you like,— she’ll hear you. >>

<< I’m so sorry I never got to meet you in person, Pangle.  Garron, or as I call him, Ox, has told me many wonderful stories about how good and kind you were to him over the years.  It broke his heart when he heard the news. >>

<< I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you, Waco.  I love Garron with all my heart.  While he didn’t come from our bodies, Strom and I loved him like one of us.  He gave us three wonderful grand children and several great grand children.  We are glad he has you to love and you will live a long life with him.  Be good to him.  I know he will be good to you. >> Pangle told him.

<< Thank you, ma’am.  I try my best to be good to him.  He doesn’t have to try, he's naturally good to me.  I don’t know if I could live without him. >>

<< That’s a true sign of love, Son. >> she added.

The Commander suggested they remove some of their clothing.  They would stay for a while.  Trong and Ox wanted to pay respects to Pangle’s body.  Waco didn’t think he could see her, but he told Ox he would go with him if he needed him.  Ox hugged him and told him his coming with them was enough.  He would go with Strom, Trong, and the Commander.  They left Waco and Gavin with Bron.  That was all right with them.  They both found Bron easy on the eyes.

Waco didn’t notice two human looking male children hiding behind Strom at first, but since Strom left they were now clinging to Bron.  The oldest looked to be close to the same age as Waco and Gavin, but was very shy.  The younger of the two was obviously his younger brother.  Both boys looked like Bron.  Waco assumed they were his sons.

“Waco,— Gavin,— these two shy critters are my sons.  The oldest is Bronc, after his grandfather, and the youngest is Ts’gan.”

Waco wondered where Bron’s mate was?  It was obvious the boys were also human-lummox hybrids, but their mother was probably lummox.  It was like Bron read his mind.

“My mate Lulook is with another clan.  She found a lummox mate she liked better than me, and I released her from our bond.  Our agreement was for her to leave my sons with me.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Bron.” Waco responded.  Gavin didn’t know what to say.

“It happens.  I’m a hybrid and so is my boys.  We aren’t fully accepted within the lummox society.  Lulook mated with me because she was Strom and Pangles’ grand daughter.  We were attracted to each other, but I think we mated just to please her parents.  They were also my surrogate grandparents.  After the boys were born, she didn’t want anything else to do with me.  Come to find out, she wanted to have full blood lummox bairns with a mate who could carry her children.  Hybrids can produce milk, but we don’t develop a pouch like a lummox male.  Bronc and Ts’gan had to be carried by Strom.  I helped feed them, but Strom gave second birth to them.  She was always a little resentful toward me for that.  Since that time, I’ve decided if I’m to have any more children, I’ll find me a lummox mate and have them myself.  Strom has offered, and since Pangle is gone, I may take him up on it later.  So you see, our society isn’t much different from humans.”

“I just never considered separation might happen among Volgorons or lummox.” said Gavin.

“Don’t worry, Son.  Your parents are solidly bonded.  I hope to find me a good Volgoron male to bond with someday.  There is much less problems between a lummox male and a human male.  In fact, some say it is the strongest bonding in the universe.  I promise you, Captain Trong and Commander Fielding are bonded for life.  You will never have to worry about them separating.”

“I hope not.  I couldn’t imagine doing without either one of them.  Each gives me something the other can’t.  Though I’m human and my secondary dad is Volgoron, I sometimes think I love him more than my human dad.”

“That’s normal.  It’s well known when human males and lummox males mate the offspring is generally most loved by the opposite parent.  Your human dad will have a tendency to be more loving and spoil his lummox kids and your lummox dad will have a partiality to you and your human brother and sister.  It’s similar in humans.  A mother will many times show her son more affection than her daughter, and a father sometimes loves his daughter more.”

“I know I’ll never have to worry, but if my parents split up, I would want to live with Dad Trong.  I know my little brother and sister would, too.”

“Perfectly natural.  Your lummox brothers and sister might feel the same about Commander Fielding.”

“They do,— I know they do.” confirmed Gavin.

Waco also met Bron’s sisters.  Bron and his sisters had different birth fathers.  Their primary birth father was also human, but they were planned to be full blooded lummox like their secondary father.  They remembered their primary birth dad and loved him greatly.  They had several grandchildren for Strom and Pangle to spoil, and Waco met their huge lummox mates.

Waco, Gavin and Bron talked about many things.  Little by little the boys opened up to Gavin and Waco and began to join in the conversation.  They were never around human boys their age before.  Waco invited Bron and his boys to come to Captain Long’s ship for an extended visit.  He would be happy to show him them the ranch and introduce them to his family.  Bron seemed very interested in seeing the ranch.  He also expressed a desire to get his granddad away from the family group.  Strom was their accepted, unofficial leader, but because of the stress of leadership and the death of his mate, Bron was worried about his health.  

“We have a project we need help with, Bron.” Waco spoke.

“What’s that, Son?”

“Did you ever meet Captain Jones?”

“Of course.  Me and my boys have known him all our lives.  He was one of my granddads and he and Captain Long are Godfathers to my boys.  Both my boys were born on the Bandersnatch.”

“Well, Captain Long and Captain Jones decided to have a bairn together.”

“That’s wonderful.  How far along is Captain Jones.”

Waco laughed to himself.  Bron just assumed it was Arlen.  It was like Bron somehow knew it wouldn’t be Lazarus.

“He’s due about the second week in May, only there’s one problem.  Ox’s proto-embryo split in two, and he’s carrying twins.”

“My God, I’ve never heard of that happening before.”

“Neither have they.  They contacted all the medical men on several worlds and there’s never be a recorded incident in male/male pregnancy.  Male lummox with a female lummox happens on occasion.”

“So my dad is worried about carrying twins?”

“No, he don’t seem worried at all; however, he’s providing a great deal of milk for a number of other infants, it might just overload him.”

“That would be perfect for Strom to get him out of here and carrying twins to term.  He thinks on Arlen and Lazarus as his human sons.” Bron mused.

Trong, the Commander and Strom returned and joined the group.  The Commander had some bad news.

“We went to the opening of the cave to check the weather and the storm hit early.  It’s already dark out and just too damn dangerous to try to head back to the ship tonight.  We’re going to have to stay here for the night and hope the storm lets up by morning.  It’s supposed to be moving at a fast pace, but you never know with winter storms.  It could hang around for days.  At any rate, I brought a portable replicator with me.  We won’t go hungry.

Captain Trong and I have discussed it, and we decided we don’t have to go back the same way we came.  We also brought along a post for a portal.  The only reason we would need to stay the night is to convince Strom to return to the ship with us.  Besides, we planned to place a post here anyway in case we need to reach this place in a hurry in case of an emergency.  We don’t know when all hell will break loose on the planet and we might have to gather the clans as quickly as possible.  The family knows to gather here at the first sign of trouble.”

“Strom needs to get away from here and do new things.” said Bron. “Grandfather, Master Waco has invited me and the boys to visit Captain Lazarus’ ship and live among his people for a while.  They want you to come live with them, because Captain Arlen is carrying twin bairns of Captain Long’s, and they need a secondary parent to carry them to term.  Dad would do it, as he was the one to impregnate Captain Arlen, but he has a number of other young ones he’s providing milk for.  He’s also not sure he can handle two bairns physically.  They thought since you’re so much bigger you would have no problem carrying both boys.” Bron finished.  Strom was quite in his own thoughts for a moment.

<< Are you going, Son? >> Strom asked Bron.

“Yes, Grandfather.  It’s been sometime since Lulook left me and the boys.  She’s happy now, and I’ve accepted the fact she won’t return.  There’s no reason why we can’t begin a new life.  I’ve been thinking about it for some time.  I want the boys to experience more of the world and learn more than how to just survive.  If it’s true what we’ve heard on the winds, we will all be relocated from this planet in the near future.  I want them to be a part of it.  I want them to know what’s happening and be able to contribute to our escape.  Since their mother has abandoned them, I want more for them than having to spend their lives barely existing from one handful of food to the next.  I want them to go to school and learn.  I want them to learn to interact with good, decent humans.”

<< Will we have to be slaves to them like my beautiful son, Garron? >>

<< Not at all, Sir. >> projected Waco. << You, Bron, Bronc and Ts’gan will be treated as honored guest and be absorbed into our greater family.  The only reason your son, Garron, is my slave is for his protection.  He is also deeply loved and honored among my people.  His being my slave is only a metaphor for his true place among us.  In truth, I have become a slave to him.  I can’t imagine a world without my beloved friend and companion by my side.  He will not always be a slave, I assure you. >>

<< Captain Arlen is pregnant with Captain Lazarus’ bairns, you say?  Twins?  Are you sure it’s twins? >>

<< Yes, Sir, we’re very sure.  Captain Long’s medical crew confirmed it. >>  Waco sent to the large lummox.

<< I’ve never heard of that happening with a proto-embryo. >> he mused. << It is a sign.  These bairns are very special.  I have heard of a prophecy about a set of twins one of us will help into this world.  Perhaps, they meant me.  If they need me, then I must go, but can we wait until morning?  I need time to say ‘goodbye.’ >>

“Of course, Sir.” Commander Fielding spoke to him. “With your permission, I will set the post for the gate.”

<< You have my permission, Son. >> projected Strom.

The Commander reached into his backpack and brought out the small brass-like button and the setting gun.  He picked a spot away from the folks and told them there would be a small movement in the Earth as he set the portal.  They all nodded they understood.  He quickly placed the gun-like device to the rock floor of the cave and fired it.  There was only a brief sound not unlike the firing of a small hand gun.  Then everything was quite.  Suddenly there was a rumble in the ground and the whole cave shook.  The post imbedded itself in the bedrock.  It was secure and grounded.

The Commander held his small remote activation device in his hand, set the coordinates for a cargo bay on the Archimedes and pressed the button.  The blueish gate sprang up and began to move like water across the surface of the opening.  The Commander smiled, turned and walked through the portal.  Many of the lummox gasped at his disappearance.  In a moment he returned with a big smile on his face.  He waved to everyone he was all right and shut down the gate.

“We’re all set.  We can leave in the morning if you wish, Sir.” he spoke to Strom.

<< Thank you, Son.  I appreciate the time to say ‘goodbye.’  I don’t know when I’ll see these folks again.  Come son, you, your Master, Bron and my great grand sons,— we must pay our respects to those who will remain behind. >>

They first went to Ox’s daughters, their mates and children to say a tearful goodbye.  They performed elaborate parting rituals that were a part of the culture of their society that must be done so one may be apart but never considered separated.  These rituals were taught to many Native Americans and Canadians and have been passed down from generation to generation.  It took the better part of the evening to include everyone in the clan.  Finally, Waco was exhausted and went to sleep in his giant slave’s protective arms.  

Ox carried him to a warm corner of the cave, carefully undressed his cowboy Master and gently tucked him into his bedroll.  He lay down beside him and held him through the night.  Strom came to him before he slept and sat with him for a while.

<< He is a good human, Son. >> Strom allowed, << His heart is big and strong.  He speaks truths a human of his age should not know.  Captain Trong told me he knew of Pangle’s death before you did. >>

<< That’s right, Dad.  He has a direct line into the winds of consciousness.  He’s special.  He’s the human boy you sent me to find and protect, but he found and rescued me.  Now, he protects me.  I will gladly be his slave until he doesn’t need me any more or wants to move on with his life.  I won’t have to worry about outliving him.  Dad Long gave him the longevity serum some time ago.  He will live as long as Dad Lazarus.  It is foretold, he will become a great prophet and leader of his people. >>

<< I have consulted the winds, Son, and they have spoken to me.  They told me I must go with you.  I must help my sons. >>

<< I’m glad, great father.  You will be welcomed. >>

<< I suppose it means I have to give up my body’s identity. >>

<< When men live among us, when I lived among you, while my son and his sons have lived among you we have accepted your ways.  It’s only fair, Dad.  It won’t be so bad.  You’ll be surprised how quickly you adjust. >>

Strom settled down for the rest of the night and the cave became quite except for the occasional snore or loud fart from one of the folks.  To Ox it was like being home.  Lummox farts can be as loud as an elephant trumpeting.  It’s why they never sleep close to an open fire.

* * * * * * *   

The next morning, Strom, Bron, Bronc and Ts’gan departed through the portal onto the cargo deck of the Archimedes.  They were quickly followed by Waco, Gavin, Captain Trong, Commander Fielding and Ox.  The portal the Commander brought was extra wide and high to accommodate the larger bodies of the lummox; however, Strom had to stoop and turn sideways to go through.  He was about a foot taller than the nine foot gate, and wider than the three feet width.  He was the largest lummox anyone could remember.  One would think such a big critter would be ferocious.  Strom could be ominous, but to those he knew and loved he was the most docile of creatures.  The young loved him and would crawl all over him without fear.  He would never allow one to come to harm.  Waco knew Strom was bound to make an impression on the men of the ranch.  He already made a huge impression on Waco and Gavin.

It was so much warmer on the Archimedes the men took off their clothing immediately.  The Commander encouraged Bron and his boys to remove their skins.  The would be treated to a good cleaning, and new clothes would be replicated for them appropriate to the area they were going.  Waco and Gavin volunteered to help and immediately began to shuck off their clothing.  Trong and Keith Fielding had never seen their boy take such an interest in other people like he had since Waco came to the ship.  Whatever Waco wanted to do, Gavin wanted to do.  Trong winked at Keith and smiled.

<< I know what you’re thinking, my handsome mate. >>  The Captain sent to his partner.

<< What else is new? >> the Commander sent back to his Captain and laughed out loud. << I think it’s time. >>

<< It is time.  He’ll do fine.  We need to let him go out into the world and learn to interrelate with his own species.  Exposure to you and androids isn’t enough.  He needs to be around his own kind. >>

<< What about his little brother? >>

<< Gavin will take care of him.  It will give him the sense of belonging he needs.  He will see Jeremiah in a new light.  He will see him as a responsibility.  We must instill in him he will only be allowed to go if he accepts the charge to look after his little brother. >>

<< Do you think he will ask to go with Waco and Garron? >>

<< Do you think you’ll get fucked later this evening? >>

<< Dear God, I hope so, Captain. >> Keith looked at Trong in frustration.

<< There,— you have it, my love. >> Trong smiled at him.

* * * * * * *

With a full compliment of naked androids, Ox, Waco, Gavin and his little brother, Jerry, they managed to get Strom, Bron, and his boys cleaned up.  It was more like an initiation party and everyone seemed to be having a good time.  Waco couldn’t believe how handsome and masculine Bron began to look the cleaner he got.  The old adage of the fruit not falling too far from the tree was true in Bronc and Ts’gan’s case.  They were every bit as handsome and attractive as their old man.  Bronc was almost the same age as Waco and Gavin; although, he was larger physically.  His little brother was two years younger, about JR’s age, but was about Waco and Gavin’s size.  Waco could only dream of the football games he would have with these men.  He was hoping Gavin could come with him as well.  He didn’t know about Jerry.  He wasn’t sure the Captain and the Commander would allow him to come.

Strom was the one who got the most attention.  Even though he was having to give up part of his personal identity he lived with for hundreds of years, he was enjoying the young one’s fussing over him; bathing him, combing him, brushing him, playing with his private parts.  He wasn’t shy.  Even his grand kids got into the act of helping clean their grand dad.  They couldn’t help take a turn sucking on his teats.

Gavin watched enviously as Bronc and Ts’gan sucked away on Strom’s teats, but when they had enough and he saw Waco slowly move to one of Strom’s teats, Gavin had to try one for himself.  He never had another lummox’s milk but his dad’s and Trong cut him off a number of years ago.  He forgot how much he loved sucking his dad’s teats and lost himself in Strom’s milk.  Strom gently put a giant paw behind each boy’s head and held them tightly to his breast.  He began to sing to them.  Each lummox sang a different song, and Strom’s were particularly soothing.  The more he sang to them, the more milk they wanted.

Waco had become a fair barber from taking care of his lummox’s fur over the last year.  Bron wanted his hair cut short like Waco and Gavin’s.  They both wore military crew cuts.  Bron saw it as less to worry about, and it would always grow back should he need it.  He looked like a different man when Waco got through.  He caused Waco and Gavin to get erections they couldn’t get to go down the rest of the evening.  It was just as bad when Bronc and Ts’gan wanted their hair done the same as their dad’s.  They were equally stunning.  Waco knew he would probably have to lock up his slaves.  Not for their protection, but to protect Bron, Bronc and Ts’gan from them.  He laughed to himself.  He was glad he had such lusty slaves.  They made life more interesting.  He wondered if it was the lummox milk.

He and the boys brushed, powered, and combed Strom until he became so lulled by the relaxation of their small hands on his body, he fell asleep in the chair and started gently snoring.  The boys just continued their grooming.  Strom was enjoying the attention.

Later that evening, over their last dinner together, Gavin asked if he might accompany Waco and Ox to the Bandersnatch and live with his family for a while.  Naturally, what his big brother wanted to do, so did Jerry.  

“Do you think you’re ready for something like this, Son?” the Commander asked him, then added, “You haven’t shown a great deal of responsibility toward your little brother of late.  You sort of just tolerate him.”

“Let him come with me, Dad.  I promise, I’ll take care of him,— that is, if he’ll let me.  He can be a pretty independent little cuss.”

“Agreed.” allowed the Commander looking at Jerry and frowning. “If we agree to let him go along he must accept the fact you are in charge, and he must obey you.  If he doesn’t, he will be brought back immediately.  Also you must be fair with him and not demand of him what you wouldn’t want for yourself.  Is that understood?” Keith Fielding ask his oldest son.

“Yes, Sir, Dad.  I understand.  I won’t expect more from him than I would myself.”

“That’s a good way of putting it.  I can see you do understand.  Well,— you have my approval.  Now, you must get your father’s approval.”

“Please, Dad.  Can we?” Gavin pleaded with Captain Trong.

<< As long as you do as your dad has told you, I see no problem.  You may go, Son. >>

Gavin and Jerry got up from their chairs and ran to Trong.  They threw their arms around him, hugged and kissed him shamelessly.  There went up a ‘whoop’ around the table from the boys and Bron.  Even Strom roared his approval.  Ox just smiled and winked at Waco.  He could read his thoughts without tapping him.

“Why is it he’s the one who gets all the hugs and kisses around here?  What am I, chopped liver?”  the Commander chided his boys.  They ran to him and gave him the same attention they gave Captain Trong.

“That’s more like it.” allowed Commander Fielding.

Waco and Keith replicated Western clothes for Bron, Bronc, Ts’gan, Gavin and Jerry.  They looked pretty damn authentic by the time Waco got through with them.  None of the boys wore boots before, but they liked Waco’s.  They liked the ones he and Keith replicated for them.  Waco knew he could dress them better when they got to the ranch.  Waco wondered if Strom would want an outfit like they made for Ox?   He could envision it in his mind.  Unfortunately, once again, he left his channel open as he looked at Strom.

<< Is that the way you’d like to see me, young one? >> Strom looked down at Waco’s growing erection in his Wranglers.  Waco sent him a shot of his son, Garron, in his full harness and tall boots.

<< Very handsome, indeed, Master Waco.  Is that the dress of a slave? >>

<< Naw, Sir.  Most slaves don’t dress that fine.  It’s the favorite dress of my beloved “Lummy,” my very own Volgoron. >>

<< I see it has some social applications to it.  It’s almost like a symbol of trust and affection. >>

<< Yes, Sir.  That it is.  Everyone who sees him dressed that way knows it’s to please the human what loves him.  I think, if the truth was known, it pleases him to wear it. >>

<< That’s what love is all about, and do you love me, Master Waco? >>

<< I do, father Strom.  I have drunk your milk and have enjoyed caring for your body.  You can’t be that intimate with a body without forming some affection.  With you it goes much further.  I have heard about you and imagined you in my mind for almost a year now.  It is with great love I ask you to accompany me and Garron into our world.  You will be loved and treated with the respect you are due.  It will be a great honor and privilege for me to present you to my father, my little brother, and my slaves. >>

<< You’re slave was right, my Son, you are a special human.  I’m becoming very fond of you, Waco. >>

* * * * * * *

Everyone spent the night on the Archimedes and returned to the Bandersnatch the next morning.  Lazarus, Charlie, JR, Lucas, Travis, and Little Bear  were there to greet them.  They walked through the gate on the Bandersnatch at seven A.M.  Ox and Waco were the last to come through the gate.  Lazarus was hugging and welcoming Bron, his boys and took Strom into his arms.

“You don’t know how good it is to see your handsome face again, my friend.”  Lazarus said to him, “I’m so sorry for your loss.  I hope you can find some solace and a new life here, among folks who love you and need you.”

<< You always have been such a good friend, Lazarus.  It’s an honor to be here.  I heard you and your mate needed me, and that was incentive enough for me to come. >>

“I swear you’ve gotten bigger since the last time I saw you.  We do, indeed, need you, Strom.  My mate is pregnant with twins.  I’m sure Garron could handle twins, but as you can see, we have a number of bairns and a number on the way that will need his attentions.  It’s wonderful you brought Bron along with you.  He can help feed some of the small ones.”

<< He was the first to agree to come.  I have to go where my favorite grandson goes. >> Strom smiled at Lazarus.

“I understand, old friend.” Lazarus assured him.

Lazarus introduced Strom, Bron, Bronc and Ts’gan to Charlie and he welcomed the men.  He was wowed with the two boys he had seen in the video of Captain Trong and Commander Fielding.  Waco introduced them to him as Gavin and Jeremiah or Jerry for short.  Charlie shook both boy’s hands and welcomed them to the Bandersnatch and the Goodnight Ranch.

Waco introduced everyone to Lucas, Travis and Little Bear.  Little Bear was so impressed with Strom he didn’t want to let him go.  Strom sang to him.  Bron, Bronc, Ts’gan, Gavin and Jerry were impressed by Lucas.  They were stunned by his beauty.  Lucas was so comfortable with himself, he didn’t let it bother him.  He just went out of his way to make them feel comfortable around him.  He was pretty impressed by them.

Lazarus’ android sons were there to greet their old friend Strom.  They had met him on several occasions when he visited Captain Long’s ship.  They also knew Bron and his boys.  They were having a ball greeting everyone and meeting Captain Trong and Commander Fielding’s boys.  Gavin and Jerry were enthralled by the three naked androids.  They had naked androids on their ship, but not like these men.  

“How is it, my boy can go away for two days and come back with four new brothers?”  Charlie laughed.

“Ya’ can’t have too many brothers, Dad.”  Waco smiled at him.

“I guess you can’t at that.  We certainly have the room and it will be nice to have some new faces around the supper table.” allowed Charlie.

The men left the ship through the portal and walked out of the barn into the compound of the ranch.  Scraps, Happy and Ranger were waiting to greet them.  Scraps wanted to be on the ship when Waco and Ox came back, but Charlie thought it would be too much confusion for him and Happy to be on board.  Scraps was hurt until Lazarus explained to him they were expecting folks who never saw dogs before, and they might be frightened by them.  That made more sense to Scraps, and he wasn’t so upset.

When the men walked out of the barn Strom, Bron, Bronc, and Ts’gan were stunned by the animals.  They never saw domesticated dogs before or horses.  The knew what wolves were, but they lived so far North there were no horses.  Of course, Ranger was bigger than the average horse so he was pretty impressive.  They were a bit wary of the dogs at first but saw them jumping all over Waco and Ox and the male dog was talking to them.

“Master Waco,— Ox,— I’m so glad you’re home.  I was worried about you.  Are you okay?”

“We’re fine, Scraps.  How are you and Happy getting along?”

“Wonderful, Master Waco.  I love Happy.  I think she loves me.  I ain’t been this happy in a long time.  We been talking about having a family.”

“Good, Scraps.  I’d like to see some pups running around after you, pulling your tail and nipping at yore’ heels.”  Waco laughed.

Ranger stood very still as Bron and Strom walked up to him.  Bronc and Ts’gan stayed behind their dad.

<< Go ahead, Father Strom, you may touch my partner, Ranger.  He won’t bite.  He’s a good friend . >>

Strom stuck out his huge paw and gently stroked Ranger’s big head.  Ranger shook his mane and snorted a little.  Strom immediately withdrew his paw.  Bron stuck out his hand and began to stroke Ranger’s neck.  He seemed to know what he was doing and Ranger responded favorably.

Ping and Pong were there to greet the men.  Strom and Bron knew them well, but Bronc and Ts’gan had never met them before.  Neither had Gavin or Jerry met them.  The boys were fascinated by them.  Bron kept referring to Ping as “Little Mother.”  Charlie heard him and looked at Ping.  She blushed bright red.  Charlie opened his arms to her and she jumped into his arms.  Charlie held her and looked into her beautiful eyes.

“I should have known.  You are even prettier than the day I first met you.  I just attributed it to good food and being comfortable here at the ranch.  That ain’t it at all, is it?  All females blossom like flowers when they’s carrying young.  Congratulations, Ping, I’m so happy for you and Pong.  How long now?”  Charlie asked.  Waco was standing beside him.

“She says a month.  They have only a hundred and twenty-three day gestation period.  The men on the ship tell her she is having two, a male and a female.”

“That’s wonderful, Ping.” said Charlie, “Is there anything special you require we can get for you?”

Ping shook her head at Charlie and pointed to Bron.

“Bron’s got milk, Dad.  When he sensed Ping was pregnant he immediately started lactating.  He will provide her with milk and help feed her kits.” Explained Waco.  “May I tell my brothers, Ping?”  Waco asked her quietly.

She blushed again, batted her beautiful eyes, and nodded.

All the new men and lummox were forgotten for a few minutes while everyone made over Ping and Pong and congratulated them.  Ping shed a few tears and was gently chided by the men as Pong held her.  She didn’t stop blushing until Mary and Elsie rescued her from the cowboys and took her off to talk ‘mother’ stuff with her.  Ping was grateful they included her.  Charlie was right, she was more beautiful that ever.  She made her mate look almost drab by comparison.

* * * * * * *

Charlie and Lazarus got their heads together to decide where to put everyone.  Strom was no problem.  He would stay in the loft of the barn with his boy, Garron; although, Ox was staying in the new bedroom with his Master more and more.  Strom was amused at how bundled up all the men were against the chill of the Winter’s day.  He and Ox were very comfortable.  It certainly was warmer than what Strom was used to near the arctic circle.

Lazarus invited Bron and his boys to bunk it in his house with Lucas and him.  There was plenty of room.  Lucas showed the boys the two upstairs bedrooms and then showed Bron the downstairs bedroom for himself.  The boys didn’t want to say alone without their dad.  Lucas couldn’t understand.  They had two big rooms available to them.

“They’re used to spending all their time with their family, Son.  They grew up that way.  They were taught to stay close to Bron and their family least they be preyed upon by some larger critter, so the others could come to their rescue in a hurry.  They would be very uncomfortable sleeping by themselves.  They’ve slept every night of their lives within reaching distance of their dad.  You ain’t gonna’ tear them apart overnight.  They have to get used to not being so afraid.  They’ll come around, but they have to do it on their own.  Seems to me you stuck pert-damn close to yore’ old man not too long ago when we paid a visit to them Stamper boys.”

“Good point, Dad.  I can understand their feelings.  We can offer them a couple of single beds to put in the large bedroom downstairs.”

“Offer them, but don’t insist.  I have a feeling that huge bed in there will do for all three of them.” Lazarus grinned and winked at Lucas.

“Like yore’ big bed would be big enough for both of us, Master?”

“Touche’” laughed Lazarus as he grabbed Lucas and hugged him. “How many nights you slept alone this last week?”  He smiled at Lucas.

“Only one, but that was one too many.”  Lucas smiled, “I had to get up early to help Ms. Ida, but I didn’t wanna’ disturb you.”

“You never disturb me.  There’s some’um you and I need to talk about.  Remind me later this evening.”  he told Lucas.       

Charlie volunteered to take Gavin and Jerry into the big house.  There were plenty of extra bedrooms upstairs and a couple downstairs.  He was going to give each boy his own room, but Gavin spoke up.

“My dads said I have to be responsible for my little brother, and I promised them I would be, Mister Goodnight.  One bedroom will be fine for us.  I don’t mind bunking with my little brother.”

“Whatever you feel most comfortable with, Son.  I understand completely.”  

Charlie and Waco put them in a big room with a large bed across from Waco’s original room.  They would share the boy’s new improved showers and restroom with them.  There was plenty of room.  It also became Waco and his boy’s responsibility to groom the huge lummox, Strom.  Lummox, unlike humans who mostly took care of themselves, tended to be more like animals who needed tending to or they might easily lapse back into their old ways.  

From the very first when Ox became Waco’s slave, Charlie insisted Waco take care of him like any other animal on the ranch.  Waco took his job seriously and just accepted Strom as another project.  Gavin and Jerry became welcome additions to the brotherly workforce as they came to be known.  When Bronc and Ts’gan found out the boys were taking care of their granddad they wanted to be involved.  They were, after all, family.  Naturally, Lucas found it a greater part of his bonding with the boys as brothers.

 Strom was as weak as Ox at the attention of the boys.  He couldn’t keep his big paws off of them.  To have six human boys all running around naked tending to him and his surrogate son, was about as close to heaven as Strom could imagine.  Waco was his favorite.  He could certainly understand how his son became so enamored of the young human.  Next was Captain Long’s adopted son, Lucas.  Never had Strom seen such beauty in a young human male.  Strom became close to the young American Indian boy who called him ‘honored father.’  The ranch was just what Strom needed to keep him from going into a deep depression from his loss of Pangle.  She was content her beloved mate found some happiness and wished him well.

* * * * * * *

The new guests to the ranch just had time to settle in when Easter Sunday rolled around.  Charlie and Lazarus decided to have a blowout Easter party, egg hunt for the kids under six, dinner and football game.  Lazarus decided it was too much for Charlie to handle alone financially.  He had been losing a lot of stock lately from mysterious disappearance of cattle only to be found later drained of all blood with certain parts surgically removed.  Many of the bones in their body would be broken like they’d been dropped from great heights.  Angus, Cotton and Hoot, the sheriff, Ranger Gibbons and several neighbors were suffering the same losses.

Angus wasn’t about to let Charlie foot the bill for such a big blowout and he contributed almost as much as Charlie and Lazarus.  Ranger Gibbons caught on to what they were doing and added his help.  It was intended to be a family thing, but like all Goodnight functions, it got out of hand.  All the extended family got invited.  Lucas even suggested Lazarus invite his new slaves to attend with Cotton, Hoot, and Blake Tindell.  Lazarus also got in touch with Captain Trong and invited him and his family.  Of course, he invited Arlen and Bryce.

Everyone accepted Charlie’s invitations including the several football coaches.  They wouldn’t miss another football game at the Goodnight ranch for anything.  Over the year, the boys and slaves plowed and leveled a field behind the main ranch house and planted it in winter rye grass.  They kept it mowed and come Sundays would chalk it off into yard lines.  They even built goal posts.  They created a football field.  It was as professional as you could get without being officially sanctioned.  The coaches loved it; however, they were totally unprepared for the raw talent they would see play that Sunday afternoon.

Arlen and Bryce arrived Saturday morning on the Bandersnatch.  There was only Lazarus, Charlie, and Lucas with Cable, David and Jonathan to meet them.  They had no idea of the other folks who arrived at the ranch several days earlier and they had yet to meet Happy.  They were floored when they walked out to the barn to be greeted by everyone.  Arlen and Bryce were in tears to see Strom, Bron and his boys again.  Strom didn’t want to let Arlen go.  He felt his belly, patted it and grinned real big.  He leaned down and put his ear to Arlen’s stomach.  He listened intently.

<< Good strong heartbeats.  They are healthy bairns. >> He projected to Arlen.

“I’m so glad you’re here, great father.  I feel better now.”  Arlen spoke to him.

<< I will take care of you, little father. >> Strom sent him.  As big as he was, next to Strom, Arlen was little.

Arlen met Captain Trong and Commander Fielding’s bairns before, but when they were much younger.  Gavin remembered him, but Jerry drew a blank.

“How are your parents, young’un?”  Arlen asked Gavin as he gave him a hug.

“They’re fine, Captain Jones.  They’re due in an hour or so.  You can ask them yourself.”

“Wonderful.  I’ll look forward to seeing them again.”

Captain Trong and his family arrived shortly after and there were several people on hand to meet and greet them.  Gavin and Jerry were settling into their new living arrangements and took their parents by the hand to show them their room.  Charlie was somewhat concerned the number of lummox were now three, plus the Captain and Commander had their two young lummox bairns with them.  Angus assured him none of the friends and neighbors they had would say a word.  They would accept them in stride, and so they did.  They were all anxious to meet the large men but they knew from their experience with Ox they were gentle creatures.

Lazarus’ sons asked if they might attend the festivities.  Charlie encouraged him to let them if they would dress for the occasion.  They were happy to and came dressed in their finest cowboy clothes.  Mary Gibbons and Elsie Jessup were all over them to say nothing of their doting mates.  All the boys were standing around engaging Cable, David and Jonathan in conversation while Scraps and Happy were under foot vying for their attention.  At one time or another every man, woman and child who were familiar with them sought them out to speak with them and welcome them to the festivities.  They were the hit of the afternoon and were ultimately recognized by the Stamper boys.  They looked familiar, but they couldn’t place where they knew them at first.
“My God, they’re the three naked angels.” Sam said to his brothers.

“No, it can’t be.”  rebuked Burt, “H’it’s yore’ imagination.  They might look similar, but the men what took care of me weren’t no cowboys.  They ain’t the men what took care of us at that clinic, are they, boss?”  Burt turned to Blake.  He smiled but didn’t answer.

“I think it is them, Burt.” said Jeb. “I won’t never forgit their faces.  H’it’s them all right.”

They were awestruck their ‘angels’ were at an Easter party at the Goodnight ranch, dressed, for all the world, like any other buckaroo.

End Chapter 19 ~ Waco’s Lummox
Copyright 2006 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All Rights Reserved ~
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com