By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 21

On the way back from the Easter festivities, Chief Tin Penny sat up front with the sheriff in the large panel van, in which he had brought his family to the Goodnight ranch.  His youngest boy, Donny, sat between the men.  Donny was enthralled by the big Indian Chief and developed a hero worship for the man as a result of his dad’s own respect for the Chief.

“Is it my imagination or are you looking several years younger, Chief.”

“I hope it ain’t your imagination.   When I look in the mirror in the mornings I could swear I’m missing several more wrinkles.  I had trouble keeping my three wives happy before the shot, but now they’re arguing with each other who’s next.”  the old Indian laughed.  Don Lassiter joined him.

“It’s good to see, Chief.  I know I feel a lot better since I got it.”

“You seem to be good friends with the Goodnights and Ramrod Long, Sheriff.”  The Chief spoke.

“I’ve grown close to them within the last year or so, Chief.  I’m more and more impressed with their ideas and attitudes toward life, people and the future.  I’ve wandered through my life looking for a star to hitch my wagon to.  I never found any real purpose other than my immediate family and maintaining a strong hold on a political position in my community that would put me above the craziness and protect my family from the insanity.  I trust them men, and I’m convinced, one day, they will save our butts.”

“I agree, Sheriff.”  said the Chief.  “In our legends and prophecies it is foretold there will come a leader born of our world but who was taken to live among the stars who would return at the end times to lead us.  Many think it was Jesus, I believe Captain Long is that man.”

“I think you’re right, Chief.  I’m certainly going to follow his advice and give him, and the rest of the ranchers in our family, my support.  By the way, I meant to ask you about something.  Since your tribe has come more and more under our jurisdiction, I been think’n about trying something new.  I don’t wanna’ intrude on tribal customs or laws.  I thought if I hired a couple of new deputies, one from your tribe and another man from the Apache tribe out near Cripple Creek, it might go a long way to gaining more trust and cooperation between us.  If we’re called out we could send a Native Deputy with one of our regular deputies to handle the call.”

“Sounds like a good plan to me.”  allowed the Chief.

“Do you have a man you could recommend from your tribe?  What about one of your sons?  I know you have two other sons besides Little Bear’s dad.  I’ve met them. ”

“Yes, Sir.  I have three sons and two daughters.  My next oldest boy, Douglas, is a fine brave and he’s in need of a good job.  He has a large family, and he’s having a hard time providing for them.  He sometimes tries to hold down three jobs at once.  I’m afraid he’s gonna’ work himself to death.  I try to help him when I can, but I can’t show one child more favoritism than another.  I’ve had a hard time even letting Little Bear’s dad, John, come around me; however, the boy made me promise I would.”

“Little Bear’s a fine boy, Chief.  I’m amazed how he’s grown and taken on a new attitude and outlook on life.  He looks upon Waco, JR, Travis, and Lucas like they were his blood brothers.  I don’t think you could pry him away from them folks now.”

“I wouldn’t want to, Sheriff.  I prayed to the Great Spirit he would watch over him, and I’m convinced he has taken him into his care.  I’m happy he’s with such good men who can be role models for him.  He accepts the fact he’s a slave, but he seems so proud to be the Goodnight’s slave, like it’s an honor for him, — he somehow overlooks his position.  They treat him as family.  I see the way Mr. Goodnight treats him.  He makes sure Little Bear and Travis are included in everything and shares his affections with them as much as Waco.”

“I think Waco is even stronger by sharing his dad with his slaves.” stated the Sheriff.

“I’ve noticed that, too, Sheriff.  Waco and that Lucas boy are gonna’ be great leaders someday.”

“I couldn’t agree more, Chief, but I think Little Bear will be standing right beside them.  I don’t think that boy will be a slave all his life.  Tell me, Chief, what’s the difference between the Christian God, the Muslim God and your people’s God.” asked with respect.

The old Chief sat in his seat looking out the front window and was silent for a moment.

“None.” he answered.  One God is still one.  There ain’t no difference.  Man is the difference.  There ain’t no father, son and holy ghost.  There is only one God, Allah, the Great Spirit, the father of all mankind.  Jesus never said he was the son of God.  He did say God was his father, but he taught us to pray to “our” father.  He included all men, not just himself, as the son’s of God.  We are no less important than the men of the bible or Koran.”

The sheriff pulled into the village compound.  He recognized Douglas Tin Penny coming out to greet them and welcome his father back.  The men talked and the sheriff urged Douglas to come to the station for an application and a sample Civil Service test to take home with him to study.  If he passed the test the following week, the sheriff told him he would hire him.  Douglas was thrilled and couldn’t thank Don Lassiter enough.  The sheriff said his ‘goodbyes’ and left.  Doug turned to his dad and they began to walk into the house.

“Dad, John is inside waiting for you.” Doug said quietly, “I didn’t wanna’ tell you in front of the sheriff.  He arrived a short while ago and parked his truck back of the barn.”

The old man shook his head and looked at the ground.

“He probably wants money.  I hope you didn’t give him any, Son.”

“I gave him a little, Dad,— not much.  We just don’t have it to give, you know that.  I’m still as angry with him as you are for selling Little Bear.  The only reason I allowed him in the house was because you agreed to talk with him after Little Bear made you promise.  I think he’s having problems with what he done and wants to know about Little Bear.  I didn’t know what to tell him, because you ain’t seen him for a while.”

“He won’t find out nothing from me.  Little Bear asked me not to tell him anything and I won’t.  The boy has rejected his father.  He’s forgiven him and made me promise I would, but he doesn’t want anymore to do with him.  I support him.  He told me Angus Goodnight had been more of a dad to him this last year than John ever was.  He confided in me he looked upon Master Angus as his dad and asked my blessing.  I gave it to him.  They’re very close and Mr. Goodnight always has time for him.  John’s lucky I don’t banish him from my sight.”

The men walked into the house.  John Tin Penny was sitting on the sofa with two of Doug’s kids.  They were watching some kid’s program on T.V.   He got up and went to his dad.  The old Chief held up his hand like he didn’t want body contact with him.  John withdrew.

“Hello, Dad.”  he said as he followed the old man into his study to get away from the T.V.  “It’s good to see you again.”

“Yeah, yeah.  What is it this time?  You come for money?”

“You know me, Dad.  I’m always a dollar short.”

“Harump!” expelled the old man as he sat in his favorite chair and grabbed for his pipe.  “Money ain’t all you’re short on.”  he muttered.

“I didn’t come to fight, Dad.”

“Why break with tradition?”  the old Chief growled at him.  John Tin Penny chuckled.  

“You got a point.”  he allowed.  “I heard you was going over to the Goodnight ranch for a visit and I just wanted to stop by and see how Little Bear was doing.”

“What do you care?  You gave up caring about my grandson when you sold him.  You never asked nobody.  You sold him right at a critical development age for the boy.  He could be scared for life by what you done to him.  The only reason you’re in my house and talking to me right now is because of him.  He got down on his knees, cried and begged me not to cast you out.  He’s a bigger man than I am, ‘at’s fer damn shore’!  He’s forgiven you, but I ain’t.  I’m only tolerating you.  He told me not to tell you nothing about him and I ain’t other than to tell you he’s in good health.  He’s written you off, and I gave him my blessing.  You deserve to be written off.  The truth is, you don’t care.  It’s part of your scheming to make me think you give a damn, so you can get out of me or your brothers what you really came after.  How much this time?  The sooner I give you the money the quicker I get rid of you.”

“Naw, Dad.  Doug gave me a couple of bucks.  ‘At’s all I need right now.  I needed a little gas money to get to a job out on the Paulson place tomorrow.”  

“How is a six pack of beer gonna’ git you out to the Paulson place?”  the old man sneered.  

“Look, Dad,— I’m sorry I sold Little Bear.  I didn’t know what else to do, and it solved several problems at once.  I couldn’t take care of him after Sparrow died.  He was running wild, and I needed the money.”

“You could a’ brought him to me.  I couldn’t give you the money you got, but he would a’ been cared for and loved like he was my own.”

“From what I hear’d he ain’t doing too bad out to the Goodnight ranch.  I went to a couple of the Junior High football games, and he and the Goodnight boy are an unbeatable team.  He’s filling out and growing like a damn weed.  They gotta’ be feed’n him good.  That Jessup kid ain’t no slouch neither.  The three of ‘em ran all over the other schools.  I ain’t never seen nothing like ‘em.”

“Hell, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  I’m warning you, John, you best stay away from that boy.  You done enough.  Don’t be going around where he can see you.  You’re gonna’ send false messages to him.  He’s confused enough as it is, but he’s growing away from you as fast as a comet crosses the sky.  He’s taken on a new family with my blessing.  You ain’t a part of his life no more.  You gave up that right when you sold him.”  

The old man took a ten spot from his vest pocket and threw it on the floor in front of his son’s boots.

“There,— go your way!  You got enough from me for one visit.  Don’t let the door hit chu’ in yore’ ass on the way out.”

“Thanks, Dad.  It’s good to see you again, too.  Oh, by the way, what are you doing?  Are you taking some new medication or something?  I swear you look five, maybe ten years younger than the last time I visited.”

“Naw, just the love of my family and the love of a wonderful grandson.  You will never know the treasure you had in that boy, and you threw it away.   You shamed me and our family.  Someday you will regret it deeply.   When you do, don’t bother to come to me for forgiveness to ease your pain.  You deserve what’s coming to you,— and it will come, John.  Mark my word, it will come.”

John Tin Penny hung his head and turned to walk out of the room.  He knew his visit with his dad was over.  He was summarily dismissed.  He hugged his brother and thanked him again.  The kids followed him out to his truck to say ‘goodbye.’

Douglas walked in and sat down in a chair next to this dad.  He didn’t say anything.  He didn’t have to.  He could feel the anger, pain and frustration pouring from his father.  He could also feel the intense love his dad had for his first born son.  It was almost palpable.  His jaw was set in a manner Doug only saw when his dad was upset with John.  He never saw him look that way any other time.  Doug was sympathetic, but almost a bit embarrassed at his dad’s overt love for John.  In a way, it was as tragic as it was amusing to Doug.  He felt sorry for his old man.  The Chief puffed on his pipe trying to relax, but it was obvious it would take him a while to lower his blood pressure.  Doug knew the tobacco would calm him.

“Can I get you something to drink, Dad?  A beer?  Some iced tea?”

“Naw,— but thanks, Son.  You’re a good man, Douglas.  A fine brave.  You deserve better for you and your family.  I knew something good was going to come your way soon.  I’ve been hearing voices lately, and they told me.  Then the sheriff asked me about you on the way back from the Goodnight ranch.  I told him you would make an excellent deputy for him.”

“Thanks, Dad.  I appreciate your confidence in me.  It will mean wonderful things for me, Shadow Dancer, and the kids.  I can help you more, too.”

“Pshaw!  You and Shadow Dancer do enough for me.  I only wish I could do more for you and the kids.”

There was a long pause between them.  The old man took several long drags on his pipe and Doug could see the redness in his face was dissipating.

“You know, Dad,— ” Doug hesitated, “I’ve always felt second to John.” he said quietly.

“You were second to him, Son.”

“That ain’t what I mean and you know it.” Doug smiled at his dad.

“You may have been born second, Douglas, but you were never second in my heart.  Never mistake an old man taking your comfortable love for granted,— taking you for second best or that I ever, for one minute, put John above you.  I know what I have in you, Son.  You and your little brother never gave me no problems.  You were always good boys.  The only times you got into trouble was when you didn’t follow your own heart and let John talk you into some mischief.  Because John was always higher maintenance than the rest of you kids and I had to work harder to keep him in line, don’t mean I love him more,— especially now, Doug.

Things have changed.  They’ve changed dramatically.  With John selling Little Bear and all that’s happening with our country.  It’s been tough the last couple of years; however, I see hope.  Through thick and thin you and your brother have stood by me and supported me.  You and Brody have become my rocks.  I ain’t been completely honest with you, Doug.  I’ve come to find out a lot of new and wonderful things I ain’t shared with you.  You know,— I never understood the parable in the Christian bible of the prodigal son.  The son who was faithful to his dad, stayed at home and worked hard never got a feast or a fatted calf killed for him.  He had a right to be hurt and a little jealous.  Trust me, I wouldn’t kill a stringy old rooster for your brother.”  the Chief chuckled.

“God help me, Son, being a strong Chief ain’t no easy job.  You don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to fall apart, chuck it all and walk away, but I never have.  You know why, Son?  You know why?  Because I knew I always had your support and love and that of your little brother and sisters.  A tree that stands alone in a storm will be blown over and break, but a tree that stands with others to share the strong winds will survive.  Together, they will weather the storm.  It is for you, Doug, you and your little brother, I would kill the fatted calf.”

 “Thanks, Dad.  That’s good to know.  I think what John said about you is true.  You do look several years younger.  You’re walking with a little more spring in your step.  I ain’t seen mother so happy with you in a long time.”  Doug smiled and raised and eyebrow at his Dad, “What’s happening to you?”

“If’n I’s to tell you, Doug, you wouldn’t believe me.”

“Yes, I would, Dad.  I’d believe anything you tell me, because I trust you.  I know in my heart you would never knowingly deceive me.  I ain’t never know’d ju’ to tell a lie.  You just ain’t that kind a’ man.”

The old Chief told his son everything about being aboard Captain Long’s space ship several times.  He told him Lazarus was due to come for a visit the first weekend in June and would bring the “Long shots” with him to administer to his sons, daughters, wives and their families.  The Chief told his son that was why he looked younger.  His body was adjusting his age accordingly to the shot he received.  He could tell it was happening.  So could his wives.  Douglas sat listening to his dad with his mouth open.

“Then, the old legends were true, Dad?” he asked in amazement.

“Apparently so, Son.  I never thought I would live to see them, but I’m thrilled our family will see it and become a part of it.  Remember, we could never understand the last part of the legend that said the white men from space would save our people in the final days?”
“Yes, Sir, I remember, and my nephew is on the ground floor of all that’s happening?”

“Not only on the ground floor, he’s become one of the movers and shakers of his new family.  He has become an honored member.  I’m very proud of him.”

Doug was quiet for a while like he was musing something to himself.

“Have you considered there might be a greater reason behind Little Bear being sold into slavery than just my brother’s coldheartedness?” Doug respectfully asked his dad.

“I think about it every day.  There’s no doubt in my mind, Son.  It has to be more than coincidence.  It’s almost like Joseph in the Christian bible whose brothers sold him into slavery.  He rose up from his slavery to become a prince of Egypt.  Like Joseph, Little Bear has a big heart.  He don’t hold no malice toward his dad, but the boy is pragmatic.  He grows stronger every day.  The support, respect and love he gets at the Goodnight ranch is turning him into a strong hearted brave.  While he may have forgiven his dad, he will never allow John to hurt or reject him again.”

“When you speak of Little Bear your heart moves to your face, Dad.”  Doug smiled at the old man.  The Chief smiled back at him.

“The shot Captain Long gave me may be reversing my physical age, Son, but I still remain an old man in my head; an old man who is a grandfather several times over and is proud of each and everyone of his grandchildren.  Each will bring to me his or her own special talent, but Little Bear— ”

“He’s sort of filled the gap in your heart John left.  He’s becoming the son you always wanted John to be.”

The old man smiled to himself and nodded to his son as the blew out a relaxed puff of smoke from his pipe.

“John has no idea what he gave up,— what it cost him, or what it will cost him.  He gave up a wealth far greater than the worth of money which can only bring you pleasure for the moment.  When it’s gone, so is your pleasure, but the love, trust and respect of a beloved son will bring you more wealth than all treasures on Earth.  The worst part is,— I can’t tell John.  He must never know; however, I have a feeling it’s like everything else in life.  What goes around, comes around, but when it comes around again to John, it will be too late.  There is great sadness in my heart for him and our loss.”

“I understand, Dad.  Thanks for sharing that with me.  It makes me feel more important in your eyes.”

“Never doubt,— you are important in my eyes, Son.  You have become my right arm and my grand children are the light of my older days.”     

“Then is this new job offer a direct result of my nephew and you?”

“Yes, but you must ask yourself the same question.  Was it by chance or good fortune you’ve been offered this job?  I think not.  There is more at play here.  You and your family will become a part of a greater family.  The sheriff will become your employer and boss, but he and his family are also a part of our family.”

“Wow.  Then this is bigger than I thought.”

“Much bigger, Doug.  We will be drawn into action and trust with these men as time goes on.  We are living in dangerous, but wonderful times, Son.  We will be witnesses to the final days of this planet.”

* * * * * * *

The days began to get warmer and the boys were looking forward to the summer.  Their lives had become much fuller with the things they were learning and, of which, they were becoming a part.  Waco, Travis and Little Bear were still visiting the Kryscells once a week.  They looked forward to their times laying in front of the beautiful crystals as they sang back and forth to each other.  The Kryscellians were much taken with the three young men and were transferring the boy’s accumulated knowledge to their protege, Lucas.  Lazarus had no doubt Lucas would be ready for the school year in the fall.  He was a little concerned the teachers and administration would find out just how intelligent and knowledgeable Lucas had become.  He was also concerned about Lucas becoming bored.

It was hard for Waco and his slaves.  They had learned so much it was difficult not to showoff in class.  Waco did a couple of times and was quickly reminded and respectfully rebuked by his compatriots.  If they must play it “cool” so should he.  Lazarus grilled it into them it was important to appear to the general public as normal as possible.  Most of the time the boys were quiet and attentive in class.  They rarely volunteered to answer a question unless the teacher would purposely call on them.  Then they would always have the correct answer with the least amount of verbiage.

The first couple of months, Waco and Travis spent extra time with Little Bear getting him caught up with them, but once he did he quickly learned to paddle his own canoe.  He was ingesting knowledge at a tremendous rate.  A couple of the teachers seemed to revel in calling on him when no one else in the class knew the answer to a difficult question.  Little Bear would slouch in his seat and hide behind the student in front of him with his head down to try not to make eye contact with the teacher.  It never worked.  They would call on him anyway.

“Little Bear,” he would cringe, “what is the answer, please?” the teacher would asked like he or she knew beyond a doubt he would know.

Little Bear would always give the correct answer.  It rarely happened, but if he didn’t have the answer, he reached out in panic to his brothers and one or the other would save his bacon.  The teacher would then beam at him with pride and smile.

“I’m glad someone in this class is paying attention.” the teacher would admonish the rest of their class, “Thank you, Little Bear, for your correct answer.  It’s a comfort to know when I draw a blank with the rest of my students, one of the Goodnight men will know the answer.  Thank you, gentlemen, you make teaching a pleasure.”

It was a subtle put-down to the rest of the teacher’s students, but it was not without it’s implied prejudices.  It said to the other students, “Even a humble slave is smarter than you.”  As innocent as the teacher might have meant the implied complement it didn’t set well with the rest of the students who considered themselves above a common slave.  There was always grunts and groans around the room and bad looks thrown the boy’s way accentuated by a few choice derogatory comments under their breath.

At the beginning of school, Waco made sure the three of them had classes together so he could keep an eye on Travis and Little Bear in case there was trouble; however, at the rate Travis and Little Bear were growing, Waco’s fears for them being bullied were fast receding.  He was sure they could take care of themselves, but there was still the stigma they were slaves and couldn’t fight back under any circumstances.  They made an easy target for bigoted bullies.

Travis already had a circle of established friends and was more easily accepted as Waco’s personal slave.  It took a while for Little Bear to be accepted; however, after the winning football season he was one of the team’s best player, he began to gain status and be included with Waco and Travis.  Some of the students didn’t want to at first, but they quickly found out if they wanted to be a part of Waco’s circle of friends, which became the A-list in crowd, they would have to ‘make-nice’ with Travis and Little Bear.

It was easier for Travis than it was Little Bear.  Travis had always been a slave, but Little Bear was still adjusting.  Travis lived with little put-downs daily, but learned to let them slide.  He was happy and thrilled for the first time since the first grade he wasn’t being picked on or beaten up a couple of times a week.  Since he became Waco’s slave his life was considerably better.  Waco tried his best to make sure Little Bear’s transition was as easy as possible under the circumstances.

After hearing several of Travis’ horror stories how he was treated when Waco wasn’t there to protect him, Little Bear decided he had it pretty good.  He would learn to cope with the small slights.  Waco was very aware and lectured Travis and Little Bear, while they may be slaves, they were also his brothers.  United and together there was nothing they couldn’t overcome.  He would also remind them they might have two more brothers in the fall.  The boys would smile at him in anticipation.

All the students knew what personal body slaves were for,— or a least they thought they did, and naturally, it was always the idea they were for their master’s sexual pleasure that most fascinated them.  Of course, they were all titillated by the prospects, but tried to act disgusted and above such.  The subject was rarely discussed in front of girls or women.  They knew and probably discussed it among themselves, but it was considered in bad taste for men to talk about such things in their presence.

What was considered rude and an uncomfortable topic of conversation among women was considered par for the course among the boys and men.  The boys were the worst.  Even though they were on the same team and played just as hard at winning as the free boys, Travis and Little Bear were always being subjected to suggestive comments.  Waco never coached his slaves how to cope or answer.  After listening to Travis relate to the boys about his role as Waco’s slave, Little Bear quickly adopted his attitude and ran with it.

“Hell!” one of the boy would exclaim, “We ain’t got us even one body slave to take care of us.  How is it Waco’s gits two?  That don’t seem fair to me.  Does z’at seem fair to you, Little Bear?”

“Yes, Sir.” he would show the boy proper respect, “Even though he’s captain of our team, he’s your teammate, you shower with him every day, but you must not know our master very well.  He’s a man of considerable passion and needs.  I have no doubt, he could probably take care of a couple more slaves if’n he’s a mind to and keep smiles on all their faces.  He also happens to be the best.  I ain’t never left his bed when I weren’t fully satisfied.”

“Ewwww,” responded a couple of the boys.

The other boys laughed and hooted at the boy who asked the stupid question and got more than he counted on.  Travis would usually come to Little Bear’s aid and support his comment.  Waco would just grin real big and wink at his slaves.  There was more than a little bit of envy from the boys, but it wasn’t directed toward Waco.  They were jealous of Travis and Little Bear.  Secretly, several of the boys wished they could be Waco’s slave.

* * * * * * *

May came and the second week Arlen began to feel a lot of activity in his abdomen area.  The twins were getting restless and seemed to sense their birth was immanent.  The gathering of the family was encouraged, and all males were present.  Several of the females were a bit upset they couldn’t be present at the first-birth, but it was politely explained to them it was a male celebration in Volgoron culture.  Such a lame excuse didn’t go over very well with the modern day women, free or slave, but they consoled each other with men needing to feel important among themselves about such things.  

Surprisingly, the woman who most wanted to be included was Ida Mae.  She was quickly overcoming her conservative way of looking at things.  Since Lazarus came to the ranch and saved her beloved companion she became more curious about what greater wonders life and the universe had to offer.  Simply put, she began to ask questions.  Her curiosity was overcoming her reticence.  Ida Mae began to see a larger picture outside her own little world and began to marvel at the greatness of it all.  Rather than try to cram it into her small value system, she decided to expand her way of thinking to encompass the flow of new information.  The surest death of a conservative comes with a volley of  knowledge.  

Everyone was there including the Trong-Fieldings and several of Garron and Strom’s family members.  They were cleaned up for the occasion and looking good.  The new birth of a bairn was certainly cause enough for celebration, but the birth of two from a single proto-infant was an unheard of occurrence.  No one could remember another duplicate birth within their memory range going back thousands of years; however, the night before Arlen was to give birth, the winds of consciousness spoke to Waco of two great Volgoron warriors who were never defeated in battle, by the ancient names of Casitor and Pollixum.

They came forward from the depths of time and asked to be considered for embedding within the Long-Jones twins.  The elders or keepers of time approved their request but would only allow it with parental approval and the agreement of the bairns themselves.  By the age of their first birth they would be developed enough to make that decision.  The elders urged the parents, Arlen and Lazarus, to be sure of their decision as it would be irreversible.  Waco went on to explained to an amazed Arlen, Lazarus and several other family members their life-force would be commingled with the twins, but the boys would develop their own personalities as they grew.  The ancient warriors understood the greatness of the time period the boys would be living through and felt they could contribute their knowledge and experience.

Arlen was all for it; Lazarus, not so much.  He was concerned because the hero warriors of old were Volgorons, and he wondered if there would be a conflict between the life-forces of the species.  Waco assured him there wouldn’t be.  They boys would have certain capabilities from birth that ordinary human infants wouldn’t, but they would be able to control them to appear as normal human children as the grew.

Lazarus’ other concern was if the boys, themselves, were contacted.  Waco smiled and reassured Lazarus he had done that himself, and it could be verified by the Kryscellians.  Since the Kryscellians were there in Ox’s stateroom on the Bandersnatch they began to glow more brightly in response to Waco’s comment.  Lazarus walked over to the case where they resided and spoke to them.

“Okay, we have all the ‘aye’ votes, but I want to know what you folks think about this request?  Do you have knowledge of them?  Are they good life-forces?  Do you see any problems?”

“We have known them for centuries, Captain Long.  They were truly heros on their world and their legend spread throughout the universe.  Even your mythological history records their exploits and bravery.  They were kept continuous within the memory of their race until most of the Volgoron were wiped out.  There were only three survivors of that dreadful battle, your son, Garron, whom you rescued and relocated here, and two other bairns located on other worlds similar to Earth.  Garron should have their memories within him.  He just never has realized them as such.  

So it will be with your sons.  Casitor and Pollixum will remain as a distant memory of a greater knowledge base they can draw upon in times of need.  The boys can only communicate with them if they want to and request them to come forward.  They cannot take over the boy’s personalities.  The boys will develop normally.  They will just have some secrets of the Volgoron race humans don’t have.”

“How will we know which is which?”  Lazarus asked.

“Pollixum will be born first.  He has only one small difference on his body to distinguish him from Casitor.  He will have a small birthmark on his navel where he gave birth to his brother.  The creation of Casitor was not random, Captain.  It could never have happened by chance.  The odds of it occurring naturally are three-hundred and ninety-eight billion to one.

Like Pollixum ages ago, Angus Jubilation wanted a brother.  Since you deposited more genetic material within your mate the evening of his creation, he had all he needed to divide his life-force and create his brother.  He didn’t do so without permission.  He petitioned the elders and keepers and they approved his request.  When the brothers, Casitor and Pollixum heard about what Angus had done they became curious and found the boys worthy.”  
“What’s in it for Casitor and Pollixum?”  Lazarus asked, “Why haven’t they come back before now?”

“They never had a similar opportunity arise and one would not leave the other.  In a way they will be giving up something of themselves, because they know they will eventually cease to exist as merely Casitor and Pollixum.  Many centuries from now, once the boys have expired, they will only exist as a memory of the twins, but the whole will be greater than the sum of their parts.  It is their first step to immortality.  It will be the boys, as well.  Together they will have taken the first step to becoming a elder, a keeper of time.”

“I guess ‘at’s pretty damn important.”

“We feel it is, and to quote one of your Earthmen, it never hurts to have friends in high places.”

Lazarus laughed. “Will they agree to be known as Castor and Pollux?”  Lazarus asked.

“They will, Captain.”  Waco answered.   

“All right,— you talked me into it.  I give my approval.  We will look forward to meeting them.  The names Castor and Pollux will be added to the boy’s names.  Who should we notify?  

“The masters and keepers of time recorded your words for all eternity the moment you spoke them, Captain.  Your words have gone out across the winds of time and great jubilation is taking place within the halls of memories.  If we were by the seashore right now you would see all manner of marine mammals leaping with joy and happiness from the waters of their birth.  They have something wonderful and new to speak and sing about.  They will be keeping close watch on the twins.  You couldn’t have named Angus Pollux Jubilation better.”  Waco spoke to him.  “But I suspect you had some unconscious push from Jubal himself.”  

Unlike babies born to human females, whose birth could vary from months early to weeks late, the latter taxing the woman’s psychological tolerance level to the max, Volgoron assisted birth via human males were regular as clockwork.  The first-birth of the proto-infants could be accurately predicted down to the minute.  So it was with Angus Pollux Jubilation and Arlen Castor Beauregard Long-Jones.

Cable, and his assistants cleaned Arlen from top to bottom, inside and out.  Strom was bathed, powdered and fluffed for hours by the boys.  He loved it.  The boys were thorough and by the time they finished Strom was a creature of awesome power and beauty.  Strom felt empowered by what was about to happen.  He understood he would become a part of something of great historical significance and have an important role to play the lives of the boys.  He would become second-birth father to the twins.  It would give the term “born again” a new dimension;  an idea the current ultra-conservative religion faction would probably consider an abomination.

Arlen lay on Garron’s huge bed with a silver sheet thrown over him which flowed about his body like liquid metal.  You could see everything about his body outlined perfectly by the quicksilver-like material.  His appearance was as if he was laying there in the nude; a shining robot with a human head.  He didn’t seem anxious in the least.  He wasn’t particularly embarrassed by the men and Volgorons who surrounded him to wish him well.  Cable and his two assistance made room so they could attend him at all times.  Strom came into the room followed by the boys.  For such a huge creature Strom lay down gently beside Arlen and slowly took him into his arms to embrace him.  Arlen turned to him and stroked his fur.

“My God, them boys outdone themselves.  You smell so good I could eat you right here.”  Arlen said to Strom.  

Strom laughed.  He had a big booming laugh and got everyone else laughing.  

“He says he wanted to be perfect for you, Captain Jones.”  Waco told Arlen.  “He insisted we take our time and do a good job.”

“He’s perfect.  I couldn’t imagine a better second-birth father for our boys than Strom.  I’m glad you decided to help us out, Strom.”

“He’s looking forward to it and wants to know how you’re doing.”

“I’m doing fine, big fellow.”  Arlen spoke directly to Strom and looked into his eyes.  He didn’t need the boys to interpret the love he saw in Strom’s eyes.  Arlen reached up and stroked Strom’s huge face and kissed him on the cheek.  “I think it’s time, old friend.  Will someone take the cover away, please?”   

Cable was right there to assist with numerous towels he sat on the side of the bed.

“Has your water broke, Sir?”  Cable asked him as he removed the liquid silver sheet.

“I felt it break just a minute ago.  It’s should be,— ahhhh, damn, that’s a good feeling.  Oh, fuck!  What a release!  What a rush!”   Arlen moved a bit in Strom’s huge arms.  Cable was collecting the fluid as fast as he could.  He was doing a good job of staying on top of it.

“Oh, my God,— I can feel the first one coming out.  Come on, Son.  Don’t be afraid.  We’re ready for you.  Come to daddy.”  Arlen cooed as he spread his legs.

Soon a small head emerged and out popped a small reddish-pink critter who looked very much like a human, but he was just a little larger than a jumbo shrimp.  He was fully formed, but his eyes weren’t open yet; however, that didn’t stop him from immediately lifting his tiny head to get his bearing.  It looked to the men like he was sniffing the air.  When he was satisfied he found the scent he was looking for, he started crawling into the lush fur that covered Strom and headed for one of his big tits.  Angus Pollux Jubilation  was born.

About that time another head popped out, but he had a bit of a struggle getting free.  

“Should I help him?”  Arlen asked Cable.

“No, Sir.  He needs to do it himself.  He’ll be fine.”

Sure enough, Arlen Castor or ‘Bo’ as he was to become known as, freed himself from his first-birth father and started his journey through the soft, strong fur of his second-birth dad.  Hand over hand he went grabbing handfuls of Strom’s lush covering to pull himself along as his tiny feet seemed to dig into the dark forest finding solid footing to help propel him along his determined way.  When he came upon the tit he was going for, he found it was already taken by his brother.  He simply pushed his brother out of the way, took it for himself and started nursing.  The men were going crazy with laughter as they watched the first born shake his head.  They could swear they saw a smile cross his face as he turned and made for Strom’s other teat.

Strom was in heaven.  His purpose in life was once again being reconfirmed.  Strom’s greatest calling was to be a parent.  He began to sing softly to his new bairns in his deep rumbling bass voice.  There were no words, just a constant drone with a haunting melody above.  There was no doubt in the men’s mind it was a song as ancient as Strom’s race and was about warriors and heros.  It went on and on and filled the room with warmth, love and gave an aura of fierce protection.  Arlen knew they chose the right Volgoron to be the second-birth dad for their boys.

Arlen was exhausted.  Lazarus lay down next to him.  They held each other as they admired the twins sucking away on Strom’s huge chest.  Everyone was talking and laughing.  The men were having a good time.  They laughed as they watched the tiny bodies balloon up in size.  They looked like tiny Buddha dolls as they finally unhooked themselves from Strom’s teat, turned and headed South on their fur covered freeway.

The twins found the entrance to their new home and dove in together.  They moved to the bottom of Strom’s protective pouch, crawled into each others’ arms and proceeded to go to sleep,— but not before Angus licked the slopped-over Lummox milk from his little brother’s face.  They were so tiny, Strom barely showed a bulge.  With all his fur, it wasn’t noticeable; however, in a couple of weeks it would be.  

Arlen was getting his second wind and was ready to party, but Cable reminded him they had to check him out and make sure everything internally was okay.  It didn’t take long and the men were in the ship’s canteen enjoying the food and drinks Cable, David and Jonathan set out for them earlier.  The sheriff and Lucas were dispatched to bring the women folk on board to share in the festivities.  They were agog at the huge Volgoron men from Strom and Ox’s family.

“You mean it’s all over?”  asked Ida Mae.

“Yes, ma’am, Ms. Ida.” spoke Scraps to her, “I watched it myself.  They were about the size of one of our pups when they’s born.  Pretty little things, they was.”  

“And they’re now in Mr. Strom’s pouch?”  she asked.

Strom gently took her hand and placed it against his lower abdomen.

“Land sakes,— they are in there.  I can feel ‘em.  Lord a’ mercy.  Do wonders ever cease?” she mused.

“When do we get to see them?”  Mary Gibbons wanted to know.

“At their evening feeding,— if you like.”  Arlen spoke up.  “They usually feed twice a day.  In the mornings and again in the evening.  Since they arrived shortly before nine A.M. they’ll be hungry again around five or six.”

“Well, I, for one, can’t go home until I see them.”  Mary announced.

“Me neither.” said Angus’ wife.

“Make that all of us.” said the sheriff’s wife.

“It won’t be long before you and Ms. Gibbons go into labor.”  Lazarus said to Elsie Jessup.

“Naw, Sir.  I’m due next week and my mistress a couple of weeks after.  I wanna’ be up and on my feet to help her when she goes into labor.”

“I’m sure you will, Elise, but don’t overdo.  Mary will have all the help she needs and then some.  She’ll probably get so tired of all the fuss she’ll demand some time alone with her baby.”

The women laughed.

“Either one of you had any problems in the last couple of weeks?”

“No, Sir, Captain Long.  Cable, David and Jonathan have been taking wonderful care of us to say nothing of the Kryscells.  They have been very good and kind to Elsie and me.  I hope they realize my gratitude.  I don’t think I could’ve done this without them.  They’ve managed to boost my body and spirit to the level I think I’m going to be ready for it.”

“Good.  We don’t want any complications.  Not for us, but for you.”  added Lazarus.

* * * * * * *

Later in the afternoon, Strom related to Waco he could feel the twins getting restless, and he thought they were getting hungry again.  Once he lay down they would begin their journey up his massive body to hook themselves up to their father’s food source.  Strom no sooner lay down on Ox’s bed when the twins peaked out from his pouch and began their journey.  This time there was no competition.  Arlen headed for Strom left teat and Angus headed for the right one.

The men let the women in front to see better.  There was much ‘oooing’  and ‘aaawing’ at the twins.

“They’re so tiny.”  remarked Mary Gibbons.

“I’m amazed they’re that fully developed they can crawl the length of Strom’s body to feed.  They’re amazing.”  said Ida Mae.

“That’s part of the one percent genetic information they get from beginning life as a Volgoron proto-embryo.”  Lazarus explained.

It was a scene they would see many times in the future as the twins would remain within Strom’s pouch for a little over nine months.  Not all their time would be spent in Strom’s pouch.  After six months, they would begin to be interested in spending more time outside, but they would still run to the comfort and protection of their Volgoron dad’s pouch.

When a woman gives birth to a human infant, it is seen as a very traumatic experience for the baby.  So it was with the bairns who had a Lummox for a second-birth parent; however, the Volgorons understood separation from their second-birth dad could be traumatic.  Strom would sleep in the same bed with the twins so they could hear his heartbeat until they adjusted to sleeping outside his pouch.

When Arlen gave birth to Bryce and Garron became his second-birth father, he slept with his dad for a year and a half before he felt secure enough to sleep alone.  A Volgoron or Lummox would never limit the time his bairn had to spend adjusting.  Some took longer than others, but no matter the time span, their dads were always there for them.  Such was the bond between bairns and their second-birth dads.  As a result, children born to a second-birth parent generally grew up to be remarkably well adjusted, considerably more comfortable with life and found it easier to happily adjust to their circumstances than the majority of human children.  They also found it distasteful and unacceptable to be bellicose unless they or someone they loved were directly threatened. 
* * * * * * *

Elsie Jessup marked off each day of her pregnancy on an old feed and grain calendar she hung upon a nail in her kitchen.  She knew the night she conceived and was keeping close watch.  She knew her time was near.  Master Long’s sons and the Kryscells told her so.  She wasn’t concerned.  She was looking forward to it, for Bobby’s sake as much as hers, but she couldn’t help admit to herself what a joy it would be to have another child.  Travis was such a joy to them, she was hoping this new boy would bring them as much happiness.  Just knowing the boy would grow up a freeman was a major incentive for having another baby.

Elsie went into labor nine months to the day of her conception.  She gave birth to a handsome, eight and a half pound baby boy right on schedule.  It was an easy birth for Elsie and she was radiant as she lay in her bed in sickbay on Master Long’s ship.  She confided to Bobby she wasn’t ready to go back to the ranch right away, because she had been pampered and treated like a queen by Master Long’s sons.  She felt like they had become part of their family.  Bobby told her he felt the same about them.  They asked Master Long’s permission to name their boy after Cable.  He told them to ask Cable.

Cable was flattered and for a few moments didn’t know what to say.  His brothers patted him on the back and congratulated him.  Of course he gave his permission and the boy’s name became Cable Gibbons.  Ranger and Mary Gibbons agreed that Bobby and Elsie’s child would be raised free.  There was no talk of inheritance rights; however, Bobby and Elsie understood the Gibbons would retain those rights for their son.  Nevertheless, Bobby and Elsie were grateful their boy wouldn’t have to go through life with the stigma of being a slave.

* * * * * * *

Elsie no sooner got home and back into her routine when Mary Gibbons went into labor.  She delivered two week early, but Cable and Lazarus said there was no problem.  The baby would be fine.  The boy only weighed seven pounds but was perfectly formed and looked like his ruggedly handsome dad.  Mary came through the ordeal fine.  She was a bit more exhausted than Elsie was, but she quickly began to regain her strength.  They name the boy Ranger Gibbons Junior.

Mary recovered quickly after she got home with the baby.  Cable insisted the new mothers still come to sickbay once a week for checkups for them and their babies.  Elsie and Mary were grateful.  Mary was certain the Kryscellians were keeping her alive and hoped they would for sometime.  She looked forward to her regular visits with them and they reveled in her joy of motherhood.

* * * * * * *

Lazarus asked Ping and Pong, assisted by David and Jonathan, to replicat several rolls of the anti-static material.  It was passed out to the ranchers and he suggested they instruct their cowboys to begin lining their hats.  Lazarus made arrangements for the ranch foremen or lead slave-cowboys from each ranch come to a meeting to teach them the proper way to do it so they could teach their men.  Slowly but surely bunkhouses and ranch houses were retrofitted with either corrugated tin roofs or the entire roof was lined with anti-static material and roofed over.  By the time they finished and were inspected by a team Lazarus taught how to check them, everyone was fairly well protected.

There was a remarkable drop in the theft of their livestock.  It wasn’t fully understood even by Lazarus and his team.  Ping suggested it might be because they were used to probing many minds and now had very few they could hear.  It might make them suspicious; however, the boys and a couple of men who could feel them trying to probe their brains and could block them threw them off guard.  They were unaware certain humans developed the mental capability of blocking them and could only let them read selective thoughts.  It wasn’t long before they were back to their illegal harvesting.

“Harvesting?  Hell!” exclaimed Angus, “Them assholes is nothing but a bunch of robbers.  No tell’n how many cattle was lost to them varmints over the years.  I think it’s high-time we done some’um about it.”

The other rancher, including Lazarus’ crew, agreed.  

“The only problem is we can’t seem to get our hands on the weapons we need.” said Stan Brown, “Me and Al here has put out a few feelers down Mexico way, but the borders are being watched too close to sneak anything across.  Besides we don’t know’s we could trust them men down there to sell us what we want.  They’s a pretty slimy lot.  They could take our money and tell us to go fuck ourselves.  In Mexico there ain’t a lot a gringo can do about it.”

“Yeah, I understand.  Tell you what, we got ships all over the world and a few in some pretty hot spots.  I’ll see what I can do.  All we need is one grenade launcher, and we’re in business.  We can move from ranch to ranch to discourage them.  Randomness is not something they cope with very well.  Be careful you don’t contract with one of them traveling gun selling caravans what stay one step ahead of the government.  They’ll sell you what you want all right, but then report you to the government so the feds will turn their heads the other way for them.  In the meantime, you’re stuck with a terrorist charge, put in a cell and they throw away the key.  You will have no trial, nothing.  Our constitution doesn’t exist anymore.  The laws of Habeas Corpus which dates back to the early thirteen hundreds was done away with by Bush the first.  You are no longer innocent until proven guilty.  You will never see your family or loved ones again.”

The men listened to the grim words Lazarus was telling them, but they already knew the consequences of their actions.  Their kids kept them up to date from their computers.  The internet was still a freeway of information and while the Theocons took over the internet in the U.S. and squashed any and all anti-government dissent, technology found a way.  The other nations of the world didn’t agree with the U.S. policy and continued to host freedom bloggers.  Most of the internet quickly became Wi-Fi and only those who subscribed to the U.S. policy used phone or cable access anymore.

Once again, technology came to save the day.  The advent of Wi-Fi (wireless internet access from a LAN network) became the standard of the day; however, the Local Area Networks were clumsy and didn’t overlap enough to give continuous connection.  It was okay if you were static, but if you were mobile, breaks in service could be expected.  At first there were many complaints and the companies realized they had to provide better to keep customers and increase volume.  LAN went WAN, World Area Network by means of satellites.  Satellite cable companies were already doing it.  The business just bought out many of the old government communications satellites and were in business.

There were problems.  No matter how they tried to protect access to non-subscribers with the most sophisticated coding devices, somewhere in the middle of a cornfield in Nebraska, some bright twelve year old kid would crack the code and have a illegal decoding device on the market before the end of the week.  It became a cottage industry unto itself; however, like everything illegal, many young men and a few women went to prison.  The demand was great and the more competition there was the lower the price for the decoding devices became.  Thus was born the great Sub-net.

With almost limitless bandwidth to play with, hackers soon developed their own uplink/downlink devices that created a complete clandestine netroots platform that no one could break into unless they could get their hands on one of their devices.  The big money communications companies lost their top engineers and technician because most of them were liberal progressives and wound up in prison.  Those who didn’t were the mice who slowly, but surely, ate away at the system’s status quo.

It became a free-for-all.  It created a great battleground; however, the giant corporations, for all their money, couldn’t buy the talent to compete with the underground.  They lost.  It was like a tsunami overwhelmed them.  It grew into an uncontrollable giant almost over night and short of destroying the satellites there was nothing they could do about it.  The techs who designed the Sub-net built in vicious protection methods for anyone who tried to tamper with it.  The greatest, most fierce battle of the Twenty-first century was fought, not on a battlefield, but within the hearts and minds of men.  There was some blood shed. Those caught were put to death under the charge of treason, as a government power play to frighten those who created the Sub-net.  It didn’t work.  They only succeeded in creating martyrs to the cause who would live forever on the net.  They were the true patriots of their age.  They were willing to give their lives for their beliefs.

The big money monopolies who once controlled everything lost control of the internet, and to the dismay of the Neocon Theocracy, it again became a free and open platform.  The anti-establishment freedom bloggers were once again in business, and they were pissed.  There was an even greater division between wingnuts of the extreme right and the more middle to far left of the public.  Fortunately, there weren’t nearly the number of rabid conservatives on the net as the more moderate folks.  They didn’t have the brains to figure out how to get on the secret net, and no tech worth his salt would give them the time of day.  Nobody listened to them any more, anyway.  Their rantings and ravings were attributed to little more than delusions of insanity; much like they are today.  All they did was extol the virtues of the takeover by the government, kiss the Theocracy’s ass and call for the rebels to do the same.  A pard doesn’t change its spots.

It was an exciting but dangerously grim time to live.  You trusted no one, and never let your guard down.  Everyone was holding their breath to see what would happen.  There was no way the government could monitor millions of people from receiving the free internet from space.  Most people in the U.S. were against what the Theocons were doing, but it was with the money supplied by the large corporations the Neocons took control of everything and they could cut off supplies to any dissenting populace whenever they wanted in the name of national security.  
There was talk of breaking the back of the Sub-net (Sub for subversive) by destroying the satellites, but there was too much pressure from the rest of the world who welcomed the U.S. back into the net because of their knowledge and creativity.  It once again became a free marketkplace of enterprise and ideas.  With a minimum of security a citizen could feel safe expressing his opinions and ideas on the net.  It looked like, for a while, that technology, which the conservatives always mistrusted, came through to save the day; however, it was only to be for approximately a decade until the powers that be decided it was necessary for national security, to destroy the satellites and put an end to the internet.  It was within the final decade of the current history of Earth the internet blossomed and flourished.

Waco kept his internet activity to the legal or government approved net.  Charlie paid a minimal charge for provider access to the only company who managed to survive the forced takeover of the government, MSM.  Bill Gates had the money to buy a monopoly on net access and it worked for a while.  He contributed highly to the Theocratic regime which was far more than he would have to pay under previous government tax laws.  Before, he had all sorts of tax loopholds that excluded him from paying a proportionate share as compared to the average citizen.  The Theocracy demanded a tithe of twenty percent.  Microsoft paid out the ass to the Bush regime.         

By that time, most people got tired of shelling out hundreds of dollars for MS’s new operating systems, getting little in return and later learning they paid their money for an inferior product.  Open source became the wave of the future.  Every year it became more attractive to consumers and began to take huge bites out of Microsoft’s butt.  Combined with the strength of the Sub-net Gate’s tower finally collapsed and to many’s glee, it happened before he kicked the bucket.  He lived to see his empire come crumbling down around him.  Well before the end was in sight, the government stepped in and nationalized the internet.  All of Gates’ fortune and properties were confiscated by the “compassionate conservative” regime.  Gates and his family were left penniless.  

Waco asked Ping and Pong about the possibility of getting on the Sub-net. (It later became known as the "V" net from the popular underground movie by the same title.  The logo for the V-net was the white face mask from the movie.  It became the symbol for rebellion.)  

“I know it’s against the law, but I hardly ever use the net because there’s nothing on there I wanna’ see.  There’s very little to chose from even though there’s thousands of government approved sites.  They’re all the same.”

<< Let me see what I can do, young master. >> replied Ping. << I’ll need  to see what technology is available for you to purchase without causing suspicion. >>

Waco turned his computer over to Ping and Pong for several days.  After three days they came to Waco.  They had him go to a site on the standard MS net that sold computers, parts and supplies.  She pointed to a two-hundred Gig removable memory chip which could be formatted like a hard drive and run the system, if need be.  Waco got his dad’s permission and ordered the chip.  When it arrived Ping took it to the ship with her and kept it for one evening.  

The next afternoon, when Waco and his posse got home from school, Ping brought the memory stick to the big house, plugged it in the USB port and told Waco to turn it on.  Waco pushed the button and the chip took over his computer.  Ping had written a totally new operating system from scratch to mimic the Microsoft system but provided much more, including access to the V-net.  

“Hoe-lee shit!” Exclaimed Lucas.

“Would ju’ look at that!” exclaimed Travis.

“Unbelievable!” said Little Bear.

“This is fantastic, Ping.  How can we ever thank you?” Waco asked.

<< You already have, Master Waco.  Your father and you have been most gracious to us and anything we can do to help is our pleasure. >>

“Well, we’re shore’ ‘nuff grateful.  What are some of the benefits of your system?”

<< There is a tri-level encryption system that has to be activated before anyone can use your computer; however, it is operated by the single password you choose.  No matter where you go on the regular net or V-net, no one can hack into your system or get into it to read or change your files.  You won’t need anti-virus programs or a firewall.  It connects to both internet systems through a proxy server so you can’t be traced.  There is a random generation device that chooses a new proxy server every time you use the net and a built in firewall that will do permanent damage to anyone’s system who tries to find out anything about you.  Furthermore, when you detatch the chip from the USB port, it reverts back to your old machine.  When you’re through using your computer you remove the chip and hide it were it can’t be found in case your home is raided and the government wants to see what you have on your computer.  All they will find is your old acceptable files on your hard drive.  You’ll want to be sure to add new things from time to time not to arouse suspicion.”
“Will it still play all our games?”

<< It is the same as before, except it has more things it can do in a shorter period of time.  Since it uses only highspeed memory, it doesn’t need to slow down for information from a hard drive.  It’s always there, instantly ready.  I think you will be surprised and pleased with the speed.” >>

The boys were already in awe at the speed of Waco’s machine.  It was incredible.  Waco had some concerns about it and how his dad might react; however, when he asked Lazarus about it, he talked with Charlie.  Lazarus assured him it was all right with Charlie and gave his approval for him to talk with Ping and Pong.  He didn’t go behind his dad’s back.  Charlie even okayed buying the memory stick.  He thought it would be a good idea to speak directly with his dad.

“You know we’ll be breaking the law, Dad.”

“Yes, I know, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.  The new administration has passed so many draconian laws everyman probably breaks one of them every day.  I want you to know more about the world outside and the real truth about what’s going on other than the propaganda the current regime dishes out.  Just be careful and use another name when surfing.  Make sure you hide the memory stick after you finish with it.  According to our ramrod, with Ping’s program no one could ever trace you.  That’s good enough for me.”

“Thanks, Dad.  We’ll be careful, I promise.”

Lazarus walked in and Waco went back to his posse and cruising the wonders of the Sub-net.  They spent all evening going here and there.  Waco took turns and each man had his turn at surfing.  Lucas was enthralled by it.

“Well, you know what this means, don’t chu’?”  Lazarus drawled as he grinned real big at Charlie.

“Individual computers for the other three.”  Charlie chuckled.

“E’aup.  Lucas would never ask me for one.”  Lazarus allowed, “Next month all their birthdays come up.”

“Damn, that’s gonna’ be expensive.”

“No, it won’t.  You let me take care of the computers.  You git ‘em some’um else.”  

“I couldn’t let you do that, ramrod.”

“Hell, I want to, Boss.  Them boys has grow’d on me.  It seems like we done lived half a lifetime with ‘em in this last year.  Damn, they’s grow’n up fast.  I swear they’s doubled in size.  Lucas is almost bigger than Sam.  He don’t have no problem taking him out in football.  Them three of yours won every game they played.”

“Yeah, I think Little Bear is the most remarkable one of my three.  He keeps me company some nights.  I always enjoy sleeping with him, but daymn,— he’s developing a find little body.  H’it’s all a can do to check ma’self sometimes.”

“Don’t I know it?  Lucas does the same to me.”

“You think’n on being his first?”  Charlie smiled.

“Think’n on it.”  Lazarus smiled.

“Be the best thing you could do for the kid, but I know you,— you won’t do nothing until he’s sixteen.”

“You’re right, but he might decide he wants some other man to take him his first time.” Lazarus said, “I already done give him my permission with the men he’s asked about.” he added.

“I seriously doubt it, ramrod.  I heard him and the boys talk’n ‘bout it, and I think he has it set in his head it’s gonna’ be you or nobody.”

Lazarus smiled to himself and chuckled.

“We’ll see.” he said.

* * * * * * *

Blake Tindell was putting up his horse for the evening.  He was out riding with his masters most of the afternoon and left the boys to work with a slave trustee he trusted.  Burt and Phil came running up to him with Jeb and Zeke close behind.  Each boy was whiter than the next.  They looked like they saw a ghost.

“Quick, Boss!  H’it’s Sam.  He done had the table saw kick back on him, and it cut off three of his fingers on his left hand.”

Blake didn’t hesitated he broke out on a run.  Sam was almost in shock.  The trustee managed to tear a sheet and wrap his hand up in it.

“Where’s his fingers?” Blake yelled.

“Over there somewhere,— on the floor.” Dan Jenkins motioned with his arm.

“Find ‘em!” Blake ordered the boys.  

Soon the boys brought him all three of Sam’s bloody fingers and Blake put them into the pocket of his shirt.

“Burt,— you come with me.  The rest of you boys stay here.  We’ll be back as soon as we can to let you know how your brother is doing.  Dan, you stay with them.  Send one of the boys up to the main house to let our masters know what happen.  Tell ‘em I’ve taken him to Cable.  They’ll understand.”

“Yes, Sir, Boss.”  Dan responded.

Burt got on one side of Sam and Blake got on the other.  They slowly walked him down to the old barn.  Blake looked at Sam and tears were streaming down his face, but he wasn’t crying.  He afraid and scared.

“Listen to me, Sam!  Do you trust your boss?”

“Yes, Sir.” Sam managed to get out, “You know I do, Sir.”

“You’re gonna’ be all right, Sam.  I’m gonna’ take you to them angel-men, and they’ll put yore’ fingers back on for you.  You ain’t gonna’ lose yore’ fingers.  Understand, Son?”

“Yes, Sir, but I don’t see how.”

“Don’t matter none!  You don’t have to see how, Sam.  Damn it!  Just trust me, boy!”  Blake shouted at him.

“I do, Boss.  I trust you more’n anybody.”

They got to the back of the barn.  Sam and Burt didn’t know what to think.  Blake hit a post three times with his fist, and a portal sprang up.  Burt and Sam stepped back and gasped.

“Shit!” said Burt.  “What the hell is ‘zat?” he demanded.

“It’s a portal,— a gate to another place.  Step through and your at a hospital.  Trust me!  Now, let’s get him through the gate, Burt.”

“You mean walk through that thing?”

“That’s exactly what I mean.  You been through it twice already ‘cept’n you’s knocked out.  Don’t have time to knock you out so do as I say and let’s walk through together.”

Burt put his arm back around his brother and the three men walked through the gate into sickbay on the Bandersnatch.

“Wow!” said Burt.

“Oh, my!” said a naked Cable, “What have you done, Sam?” he asked gently walking over to take Sam’s wounded hand in his.  Cable turned and pressed a button.  “David!  Jonathan,— drop what you’re doing and get to sickbay.  We got us a cowboy with three missing fingers.  You bring his fingers with you, Mr. Blake?”

“Yes, Sir, they’s in my pocket.”

David and Jonathan came in and took Sam’s fingers away from Blake to wash and clean them.  Cable had a hypo and headed for Sam’s shoulder.

“I’m gonna’ give you a shot that will relax you, Sam, so you’re not so frightened.  It isn’t as much as you had the last time you visit us.  We need you awake to move your fingers after we reattach them.”

Cable pushed up his Western shirt, rubbed the area with alcohol and gave him the shot.  Sam started to relax almost immediately.  Burt moved away and stood next to Blake.

“This is where you brought us, ain’t it?  I remember.  Where are we?”

“In sickbay, on board a ship, Burt.  A very big ship.”

“On the ocean?” he asked.  He didn’t feel any movement.

“Not that kind of ship, Son.”  Cable smiled at him as he unwrapped Sam’s hand.  Burt didn’t ask more.

“Clean cuts. Won’t be much problem.  We’ll get you cleaned up and then reattach them.  Now, get up in this chair, Sam, and relax.  Here, I’m gonna’ adjust it so you lay back and can’t watch what we’re doing.”  Cable laid him back and Sam seemed to relax almost to the point of going to sleep.

“I think he’s about to pass out, Mr. Cable.” Blake said.

“That’s all right if he does.  We can wake him when we need him.  I have to give him several shots to deaden the area anyway.  He can still move his fingers.  They’ll just feel like they’re asleep.”

About that time another portal sprang up and Charlie and Lazarus came through followed by Waco, Travis, Little Bear and Lucas.

“How is he, Son?” Lazarus asked Cable.

“More afraid than anything.  I got him settled down and we’re about to start reattaching his fingers.”

“I’m sorry, Master Lazarus, I just reacted.  I didn’t know what else to do.”  said Blake.

“Nonsense, Son!  No apology necessary.  You done the right thing.  Howdy, Burt, welcome to the Bandersnatch.”  Lazarus stuck out his hand.  Burt didn’t know what to do.  He knew at that moment Lazarus was his Master.  He looked to Blake for some clue.  Blake smiled and nodded for him to take Lazarus’ hand.  Burt took it and shook it, then he dropped to his knees and kissed each of Lazarus’ dusty cowboy boots.

“Come to my arms, Son, and share your love with your Master.”

Burt was in Lazarus arms in an instant.  He got tears in his eyes and Lazarus hugged him and gave him a peck on his cheek.

“Me and my brothers belong to you, Master Lazarus?”

“Yes, Son, you’re my slaves.  I’ve contracted with Master’s Hoot and Cotton to train you men and keep you for awhile, then I’ll decide what to do with you.”

“Yes, Sir, Master.  Thank you, Master Long.”

“You’re welcome, Son.”

The men turned their attention to Cable who was swiftly working with David and Jonathan over Sam’s sterilized hand.  They used some kind of biological glue that joined flesh to flesh.  When activated by an ozone emitter it formed a near permanent bond.  They attached each finger, one by one, and before they cemented them onto Sam’s hand they made him move each one.  It wasn’t easy for him but he managed.  Then cable took the small blowgun, it looked like a hair-dryer, and began to blow the ozone, created by a black light inside the gun, onto Sam’s hand.

“I can feel it bonding, Sir.”  Sam said groggily.

“Good, Son, that’s what we want.”

“You men shore’ are pretty.”  Sam smiled.  Cable, David and Jonathan laughed.

“Here, Son, I’ll have none of that.  The very idea.  Put’n a move on my sons.”  Lazarus walked over to him and smiled at Sam.  Sam knew he was only kidding.

“It’s the sedative, Mater Long.”  he grinned.

“Bullshit!”  Lazarus replied, “I have a hard time keeping my hands off a’ them myself.”  he laughed and got a smile out of Sam. “Feeling a little better, Son?”  Lazarus inquired.

“A lot better, Sir.  Sorry I’m such a klutz.” he smiled, “but I ain’t sorry I got to see this place and you again, and them beautiful naked men.”  Sam started getting an erection.

“Do you remember the crystals what sang to you before?”

“Yes, Sir.  We all do.  Were they real?”

“Yes, they were, Sam.  Very real.  They’re another life form from you and me.  Where we’re carbon based life forms they’re a silicon based life form.  They are peaceful and generous.  They love healing carbon life forms and learning about folks more mobile than themselves.  However, Waco and his posse are working on something to make them more mobile.  We’re gonna’ take you to them in a few minutes, and they’ll heal your hand the rest of the way.  They’ll sing to you again and since you’ll be awake this time you can sing back to them.  Tell them about yourself.”

“I can’t sing worth a damn, Sir.”  Sam said.

“They’ll teach you.”  Lazarus smiled at him.

Lucas walked over to Burt hugged him and kissed him on the cheek just as Lazarus had done.

“Welcome to the Bandersnatch, Burt.  I guess now you know you’re my master’s slave.  I suppose that sort of makes us slave-brothers.”

“Yeah, I guess it does at that.  Is my brother gonna’ be okay.”

“Sure, go on over there and look.  They put his fingers back on.  He can move them.”

Lucas took Burt by the arm and led him to Sam.

“You okay, little brother.”  Burt asked with tears in his eyes.

“I think so, bro.  I got me fingers back.”

Sam slowly moved them so Burt could see.

“That’s fuck’n amazing!  Oh, I’m sorry, Master Lazarus.”  Burt said.

“‘At’s all right, Son, it is pretty fuck’n amazing.” he laughed, “Ma’ boys do good work.  I’m down right proud of ‘em.”  Lazarus patted Cable on his butt.  Cable smiled at him.

“Them crystals what sang to us,— are they aliens, Master Long?”

“Depends on what you call aliens, Burt.  To me they’re good friends who just happen to be made out of different stuff from us.  Did they make you feel like you were alien when they sang to you?”

“Naw, Sir, not at all.  They took me into their,— I wanna’ say ‘hearts,’ but I don’t know if they got hearts.”

“They don’t, but they understand the concept.”

Another portal sprang up and Hoot and Cotton came through.  Their eyes were wide expecting the worse.  Instead everyone was relaxed and Sam seemed to be feeling pretty good.  He was smiling and talking with his Master.

“Hey, gentlemen.  You should be proud of your boss-man there.  He done the right thing.  Them boys is gonna’ need to know what’s what soon anyway.”  Lazarus said.

Hoot took Blake’s hand.

“You did do the right thing, Son.  Proud of you.  Proud of you for lending a hand, Burt.”

“T’weren’t nothing, Master Hoot.  Glad to do it.  Sam’s ma’ brother, after all.”

“Do you wanna’ go with Sam to see the Kryscellians, Burt?  They’d love to see you again.  They ask about you and your bothers all the time.”

“I think I’d like that, Master Long.”

Cable started helping Sam with his clothes.  He didn’t stop until he had Sam naked.  Sam was so relaxed he didn’t give a shit.  He kept a big smile on his face.  David brought in an antigrav gurney and helped Sam on it.  They threw one of the silver metallic sheets over Sam.  It didn’t hide anything but it was warm.  Burt’s eyes got real big.

“What’s holding that damn thing up?”  Burt asked without thinking.

“An antigravity generator, Son.” Lazarus told him.

“Wait a minute.  Other life forms,— anti-gravity,— a liquid metal sheet,— we ain’t aboard no ordinary ship, are we?   This is a space ship of some kind.”

“You’re right, brother.”  Waco answered.  “A big ‘un, too.”

“But how, — why,— what for?”  Burt asked.

“You’ll find out soon enough.  Nothing to be afraid of.  You’re safer here than any place on this planet, Son.” added Charlie.

“‘At’s right.” added Little Bear, “Ain’t nothing to fear ‘round here.”  he smiled.

“You ready to visit the Kryscellians, Son?”  Cable asked Burt.

“Yes, Sir.  I’ll go with ma’ brother.”

“Take your clothes off.”  Cable told him.

“In front of all these men?”

“Burt!” said Blake in a stern voice.  Burt responded immediately and started taking off his boots.  He didn’t stop until he had everything off.  David brought in another anti-grav gurney and signaled for Burt to get on it.  Burt complied and they threw a liquid sheet over him.

“Right!  We’re off to see the Wizards!” laughed Lazarus.

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtains.”  instructed Travis.

The men laughed, “Good one, Travis!” said Charlie and his put his arm around him and pulled him close.  

Cable pushed Sam’s gurney and David pushed the other.  They passed through another portal and were in Ox’s stateroom.  The men placed the boy’s gurneys in front of the case where the Kryscells were and removed the sheets. They were completely nude laying side by side, but it was warm and comfortable in the room.  The Kryscells immediately started glowing and the boys could feel their healing rays begin to pierce their bodies.  Burt reached over and took Sam’s good hand to hold.  Sam’s damaged hand was next to the Kryscells.

“We’ll be back in about an hour.  You gentlemen enjoy your visit with the Kryscellians.  Just remember to let yourself go and experience the joy and ecstacy they can bring you.” instructed Cable.

The men left.  Sam and Burt were alone.  Sam looked over to Burt and squeezed his hand gently.

“I’m glad you decided to come with me, brother.” he said.

“Me too, I didn’t want you to have all the fun.”  Burt giggled.

“Hesh, now!  I think the overture is about to start.”  Sam smiled.

* * * * * * *

The men retired to the ships forward mess which was Captain Long’s private mess.  Cable stayed behind to clean up the infirmary and to be close to the boys in case they needed anything.  He had three robocams on each boy at all times.  David and Jonathan accompanied the men to the Captain’s mess and served them coffee and treats.

“Well, I guess you got some explaining to do when you get back.”  Hoot said to Blake.

“You want me to tell them everything, Master Long?”

“May as well, they’re gonna’ be a part of everything so they may as well get used to the idea.”  allowed Lazarus.  “Besides, it might make them see a larger picture of how and why they came to be slaves.  Might make them feel more comfortable with their lot in life right now.”

“Good point, Master Long.  They been doing all right though.  I don’t think any of them boys is mean spirited.  I think they developed a pack mentality.  Whatever their big brother done, they done.  Since they been working with me, they’re developing their own personalities.  They don’t always do what their big brother tells them no more.  They’re developing morals and sense of  right and wrong for themselves.  I’ll be honest with you men, I was expecting much worse.  I thought it was gonna’ be a big challenge.  So far it’s been a cakewalk.  Sometimes I feel like I ain’t earn’n my keep.”  Blake said sheepishly.  

“Yes, you are, Son.  Don’t never think that.  You’re doing jes’ fine.  Hoot and Cotton tells me you’re way ahead of schedule on the new slave building.  It tells me them boys is learning a few things and putting ‘em to good use.  You might wanna’ teach ‘em a few more safety tips.”  Lazarus smiled.

“I certainly will.  We’re gonna’ have a safety drill every morning.”

“Being curious boys, you know they’re gonna’ wanna’ ride in the space ship.”  said Charlie.

“I don’t mind; however, I can’t take the Bandersnatch out again.  You remember the trouble we caused the last time we done it.  I can take them out in one of the smaller ships.  They’re invisible to Earth technology and the aliens, too.  They’re way beyond their technology.  Them little ships are almost invincible.”

“Are they space worthy?” Asked Hoot.

“You were in the Navy, weren’t you, Son?”  Lazarus laughed at Hoot’s question.

“Marines, Sir.”  

“Yes, they’ll go anywhere in the solar system and back with no problem.  They’re faster than this old tub, too.  I don’t mean to impugn me darlin’ Bandersnatch.  She’s a good old ship and we keep her in tip top condition.  What say we tell the boys, if they work hard and do a good job, we’ll have a celebration here on the Bandersnatch when they finish the slave quarters?  That should be around the end of the summer.  It will be a good time for all of us.”

“Sounds good to us.”  agreed the rest of the men.

* * * * * * *

The boys visit with the Kryscellians was nothing like the other times.  This was far different and much more special.  Sam and Burt not only learned to sing back to the Kryscells, they sung in a beautiful harmony that seemed to emanate from the bottom of their souls.  They told of their brothers and having been sold into slavery.  They told them about their youngest brother, how bad they felt they mistreated him and how he was sold for dog food.  

The Kryscellians were united in their sincere comfort for the boys and told them not to feel bad because they had become Master Long’s slaves.  They had no idea what they were getting into, and it was no accident they became the Captain’s slaves.  They admonished them to work hard and please their master but above all be faithful and loyal to him.  More would be revealed to them as time went by.

By the time Cable came for the boys they were exhausted.  They were like two rag dolls he had to help clothe.  Burt just couldn’t seem to get himself together.  Sam had the look of a wall eyed calf and kept holding his completely healed hand up to wiggle his fingers.  He would show it to Burt for the umpteenth time and shake his head in disbelief.

Cable took the boys through yet another portal, and they arrived in the Captain’s mess.  They were received with hugs and smiles.  They were given a cup of coffee and some sweet treats.

“You wanna’ return to the ranch or would you like to spend a night in sickbay, Son?”  Lazarus asked Sam.

“I’d love to stay with them men for a night, Captain Long; however, I think my brothers will be worried about me.  I better go back to the ranch with my brother and boss.  We got a lot to tell them.”

“Cable, David and Jonathan are aliens, too, ain’t they, Captain Long?”  Burt asked quietly.  The other men were quiet.  Cable looked at him and smiled.

“No, Son, they ain’t.  They’re my sons.  I had them built to my specifications, and they’ve been with me for a long time.  I love them and they love me.  I don’t know’s I could do without them.  They done took care of your little brother.  Look at his hand.  You don’t even see a scar.  They are different from us but not really.  They are bio-mechanical men with all the attributes you and I have; except, they’re a bit more perfect.”

“You had them built?”

“Yes, Burt, in a galaxy far far away.  They have feelings.  They can love.  They can have sex.  They can be hurt, just like you and me.  They are sentient creatures, and I’m proud to call them my sons.”

“I would be proud to call them my friends.”  answered Burt.

“We are your friends, Burt.”  Cable told him.

* * * * * * *

The time came to say ‘goodbye.’  Burt and Sam found it difficult to say goodbye to Cable, David and Jonathan.  They were even more impressed when the perfect men shed a few tears at their parting.  Lazarus and his men parted through their portal and Hoot, Cotton, Blake and the boys exited through the other back to their barn.  Hoot and Cotton left it up to Blake what he would tell them.  They were his responsibility and they would go along with as little or as much as he felt they needed to know.

Sam’s brothers couldn’t believe his fingers were back on his hand, and it looked like it had never been damaged.  They were no stitch marks or scars.  Sam demonstrated his hand to them and they each had to inspect it.  They wanted to know every detail.  Blake let them stay up a little longer than usual.  They didn’t know whether to believe the wondrous things they observed; however, they remembered the mystical, almost holy time they had aboard the ship.  Blake backed up Sam and Burt so the boys had to accept what they were telling them.  

Blake didn’t tell them much that night except they were a part of something far greater than they could imagine.  They were on the threshold of becoming children of the stars.

End of Chapter 21 ~ Waco’s Lummox
Copyright 2006 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All Rights Reserved ~
E-mail: waddiebear@yahoo.com