By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 26

“Did you get an invitation, brother?” Lyle Chambers asked Chet Baker in town one morning when they met on the square and decided to have coffee at the local diner.  They didn’t care what rumors were going around town.  As long as they met in public the town could think what they wanted.  No one knew anything for certain.  Any rumors were just that, hearsay.  They decided to take the sheriff’s advice and not be retiring or hiding out from the town’s people.

“That’s the worst thing you can do!  Don’t act guilty!”  Don Lassiter told them.  “Meet in public places where no one can say anything about you without causing themselves a lot of embarrassment.  Don’t let them bastards intimidate you.  They’d like nothing better than to see you men tuck your tails between your legs, turn and run from them.  Then they have control over you.  They win whether they did or not.  Don’t let ‘em!  Stand up to ‘em!”

At first it was tough, but as time went on Chet and Lyle ignored them and stood tall.  Many in the town began to wonder if things they heard wasn’t just wishful thinking on the preacher’s part.  Several suspected him of not being quite right on the homo/hetero scale of normal.  Even though he was married, he didn’t have any kids and could sometimes be awfully affected in his speech patterns and actions.  Evangelical preachers tend to be a flamboyant lot by nature.  The higher the hair, the closer to God.  

“Yeah, I did get an invite.  Not only for the boy's birthday, but also a supper the Friday night before.  I understand Friday is a men’s only affair and they have facilities for us to stay the night.  Then our family is to join us the next day. You up for it?  You and me drive out together Friday evening?”  Chet asked Lyle.

“You sure?” Lyle hedged.

“Why not?  We ain’t been together since the incident, and I need you, brother.”

Lyle melted.

“Yeah, I feel the same.  They offered before, but we ain’t felt comfortable enough to take ‘em up on it.  Let’s do it.  How about Carol?”  Lyle asked.

“I already done got her permission.  They’ll drive out the next morning in our SUV.  Can we take your truck Friday?”  Chet asked.

“Sure.  Pick you up about five.  There’s a reception and drinks at six.  We should be able to make it out there in an hour.  If we’re a little early, so what?” Lyle told him. “I’ll look forward to it.  I can’t wait to see what wonders them boys is gonna’ show us this time.”

“Yeah, I been thinking about that myself.”

* * * * * * *

Lazarus stood and Keeke returned to Waco’s shoulder.  

“Forgive me, Son,” Lazarus spoke to Waco, “For a moment I mistook your new slave for someone else; a Shushonni lady I knew years ago.”

It was a lame excuse for Lazarus’ action, but it was the best he could come up with at the moment.

“Do you know of the Shushonni race, Captain Long?” Waco inquired.

“Yes, the family tattoos Garron and I have were given to us by the Shushonni, the Visallians and the Volgorons.  We fought shoulder to shoulder many times in their struggle for independence from the same reptilian races who seek to overtake this planet.  It was just such a shock to see a beautiful Shushonni female again.  Please, introduce us, Master Waco.”

“Keekepata, I’d like you to meet two fine gentlemen.  The gentleman you just spoke to is Captain Lazarus Long, and this other fine looking gentleman . . .”

“Is your father.” Keekepata finished for him.  “Mr. Charles Goodnight.  It is a pleasure to meet the father of such a fine young man as Master Waco, Sir.”

“Why, thank you, Keekepata.  It’s an honor to meet and welcome you to our family.”

“And it is a pleasure to meet you, Captain Long.”

“Welcome, Keekepata, to Earth and my ship the Bandersnatch.”

“Thank you, Captain Long.”

“I have a feeling there is much more to this story, and I will look forward to hearing about it at your convenience, Master Waco.”  Lazarus added the ‘Master’ to emphasize his respect for Waco’s position.  “May I complement you on your dress, Keekepata.  It’s very pretty and the colors become your beauty.”
“Thank you again, Captain Long.  It was designed by the male nurse who cared from me so graciously and made by a kind lady in the small town ”
“May I inquire in what capacity you’re visiting Earth, Keekepata?”

“I am here as Master Waco’s slave, Sir.  I have fallen out of favor with my family and Lord protector by my wrongful actions and thoughtless deeds. I have been banished to Earth to live as Master Waco’s slave.”

“I hardly think breaking a jar of blackberry preserves on my back porch would qualify as reason enough to enslave you, young lady.” Lazarus grinned wickedly at her and raised an eyebrow.  Charlie laughed.

“It was more than that, Sir, but I do apologize for the broken jar of food.  I was hungry and couldn’t get the top off.  I pushed it off the shelf, but it was too tart for me to eat.  I’m so sorry, Captain Long.”

“If you had come to me, I would’ve provided for you; however, you probably didn’t know who you could trust at the time.”

“Yes, Sir.  You’re very wise.”

“No, just older, Keekepata.  I know the ways of a young Shushonni.  My guess is you met Master Waco when your Lord protector delivered Blue to our people.  You felt a strong kinship draw to him and jumped ship to stowaway on one of our scout ships.  Now you’re stranded here and your family has refused, or for other reasons, can’t come get you right away.  They’ve decided since you’ve made this bed for yourself, you should lay in it until you’ve learned your lesson, whatever that may be.”

“You’re correct, Sir.  I’ve accepted my fate and will gladly serve Master Waco and accept what punishment my family and Lord protector instructs him to administer.  I am bound by contract with my family, my lord protector and Master Waco to be his slave.”

“And who might your Lord protector be, Keekepata?” Lazarus asked.

“Captain Vinceeth.”

“Hogarth Treygor Vinceeth of the seventh house of Bardoz?” Lazarus asked her.

“Yes, Sir. Do you know of my Lord protector?”

“I certainly do.  I know him to be a fine Visallian man; one of the finest warriors your world has ever produced.  Comes from a long line of strong, faithful, dedicated warrior stock.  Captain Vinceeth and his family are legend on many worlds.  I fought side by side with his grandfather Stewart Alcomb Vinceeth and his father Hayward Glissando Vinceeth in the liberation of your planet from the Dregnaughts and the Orggs.”

“Do you know of my family, Sire?” Keeke asked him.

“Let’s see, the Pata line runs through the Bool dynasty, if I’m correct.  I fought with your Greatgreatgrandfather Preneeal Fingooly Bool and greatgrandfather Aspergillus Lambwicki Bool in the insurgent wars against the Orgg for forcibly enslaving your people to work in their amber mines.  I’ve sat many an evening and watched the twin suns of your world go down, and the rising of the four moons over the snow capped mount of Pachaneeku while sharing a pipe of Drootsaytar and a cup of Andromachus Treacle to ward off the night chills and the venom of the Two-shoo fly with your grandfather Tartonni Ambidartos Pata; a great Shushonni leader and warrior.”

“You couldn’t be that old, Captain Long.”  Keekepata’s eyes sparkled.

“Two thousand two hundred and twenty Earth years, young lady.”

“I stand corrected, your Lordship.  Then you must be the noble Lazarus Long of the Long family I read about in history spools.  How dense of me.  I failed to make the connection, Sire.  You are like a God to our people.  Forgive me, I owe you a debt of gratitude and my allegiance, Sir.”

“Nonsense.  Could happen to anyone who wasn’t around back then.  No matter how or why you came to your current circumstances, Master Waco couldn’t have come by a prettier Shushonni for a slave, Keekepata.  He is, indeed, a lucky man, and you are fortunate to have him for your master.”

“I agree with my ramrod, Keekepata, you are very pretty.” added Charlie, “My son is a lucky man.  Once again, I welcome you to our family.  All our slaves are considered family.” said Charlie.

Keeke was visually shaken and moved by Charlie’s words.

“Thank you, Mr. Goodnight.  What is a ramrod, Sir?” she asked.

“It is a title on a ranch, Keeke.” Waco spoke up, “It means Captain Long is in charge of all the cowboys who work for my father on the Goodnight ranch.”

“I see.  It has no other connotations?” she smiled.

“None that I know of.” Waco answered.  He wasn’t about to get into semantics over something as loaded as the word, ‘ramrod.’  Once again, Waco  was impressed with Lazarus’ knowledge and experience.  He could only imagine what the fine looking cowboy standing before him had seen or done in his very long lifetime.  He wondered if he would have as many experiences.

* * * * * * *
The guests started arriving.  Cable, David and Jonathan were catering to everyone’s refreshments.  There was some alcohol served, but most of the men chose not to drink and had a cup of non-alcoholic punch as they were told there would be wine served with the meal.  As the guests went down the reception line they stopped at each man and chatted for a few minutes.  Most were as stunned by the addition of the mobile Kryscells, and Blue.  Another Waco was almost too much for them to handle; however, the addition of Keekepata blew them away.  None had ever seen such a beautiful creature.  Keekepata overheard more than one man mention the name ‘Tinkerbell.’  She smiled to herself.

Hank Morgan arrived with JR.  They were a little early but JR wanted to show off his handiwork to the man he most loved in the world.  After paying respects to Master Charlie and Ramrod Long, JR took Hank by the hand to personally introduce him to the Kryscellians.  They effused and had wonderful things to say about how JR’s designs for their vessel won out over all the other boys.  It was no secret to them Hank was JR’s dad.  Hank got to see JR’s prize first hand.  Hank observed the craft and the work that went into it was stunningly beautiful.  JR stood holding Hank’s big hand in his and with his other hand drew attention to several details of his work Hank might have missed.  JR describe in detail how the external bands were manufactured and how he was the one who finished the clean up and polishing of the final product.  Hank Morgan couldn’t have been prouder of his boy.  He began to see what Ida Mae feared.  Their boy was, indeed, growing up.

JR introduced Hank to Blue.  Hank couldn’t say anything he was so stunned.  JR tried to prepare him for the shock, but try as he might, he was totally unprepared for the likeness of the man who stood before him.  Blue was standing right next to Waco and dressed exactly like him.  They could have been identical twins. ‘No,’ thought Hank, ‘they look closer than identical twins.  He looks like what he is, and exact copy of Waco Goodnight.’  Hank was equally unprepared for Keekepata, but he was a gentleman and introduced himself as Master Charlie and Waco’s slave.  Keeke was charmed and impressed by Hank’s unassuming but honest personality.  They talked together for some time.  Hank couldn’t wait to tell Ida Mae he’d met a real live fairy; Tinkerbell.

JR took his place in the reception line next to his big brother.  Waco greeted Hank, shook his hand, gave him a big hug and a kiss, and welcomed him to their party.  JR insisted Hank stand right behind him while he greeted guests.  There was just something about Hank Morgan.  JR wanted everyone to know Hank was his best friend, his buddy.

* * * * * * *

The Trong-Fieldings arrived and immediately caused a stir.  Captain Trong was no longer just a huge furry Lummox.  It seemed he adopted Ox and Strom’s summer fur shedding and was wearing the same heavy, black leather straps and boots Waco and his men designed for Ox.  Captain Trong looked particularly handsome in his.  He was big enough, he could carry it off without embarrassment.  His mate found him fetching in his new outfit and that was enough excuse for him.  His mate wasn’t the only person who found him attractive.  The boys found him irresistible.

Strom took particular interest and complemented Captain Trong and Commander Fielding.  He even went so far as to ask Waco if he could have such a uniform after his delivery of the twins.  Waco assured him he would be more than happy to provide him with just such an outfit and told him he thought Strom would look very handsome.  Little did they know, Waco provided Commander Fielding with the exact designs for his Captain’s outfit.  

One other thing was noticeable about the Trong-Fieldings.  For this visit they were alone.  They left the rest of the clan on the Archimedes in the care of a couple of Captain Trong’s relatives currently living on the ship.  They explained, as an aside to Captain Long and Charlie, they needed a night to themselves to get away from everything and share an evening together.  They planned to take the boys up on their invitation to find lodging for them for the night, and although they hadn’t seen Gavin and Jerry in some time, the boys would not be staying with them.  They felt Gavin and Jerry were old enough they should understand, while they loved them without measure, there were times when their dads needed time to themselves to do what dads do for each other.  The way Captain Trong pulled Keith Fielding to him with his giant paw and smiled at his mate, there was no doubt in Lazarus or Charlie’s mind, the Commander would be riding the big one later that evening.

Trong and Keith were very popular among the men who were gathering and everyone came up to them to say ‘hello’ and find out how their lives were going.  They all witnessed the Captain and Commander’s coupling on videos and the actual birth of their last bairn.  They felt like they were part of their family.  Trong and Keith were so laid back they accepted the men’s attention and affection with good humor.  Gavin and Jerry were excited to see their parents and showed them down the reception line, except now and then another boy would run up to Gavin or Jerry with a clip board with a question about some last minute decision.  They would stop and take care of the situation in a very business-like manner.  It was a revelation for the Captain and Commander to witness.  They were seeing a more assured, self-assertive side of their boys they never saw before.  They were sure it only began to develop since the boys came to live at the ranch.  They were impressed and pleased with their boys.  They were convinced they’d done the right thing for Gavin and Jerry by letting them come to live with the Goodnights.

* * * * * * *

There was much commotion when Angus arrived with his ramrod and baby brother.  It was hard for the boys to maintain their place in the reception line, and not drop everything to run to Angus.  It was especially difficult for Angus’ most ardent admirer, Little Bear.  He wiggled and fidgeted as Angus worked his way down the reception line, awaiting his turn.  Finally, he couldn’t stand it any longer and broke the line to run to Angus’ waiting cowboy arms.  Angus grabbed him up and spun him around.

“Dayamn, Son, you’re git’n bigger ever’ time I see you.  You be growing like a damn weed.  It’s good to see yore’ filling out, and better to see you happy.”

“It’s so good to see you again, Master Angus.  Permission to pay homage to your boots, Sir?”  Little Bear almost had a begging tone to his voice.

“Permission granted, my handsome slave.”  Angus was floored.  He didn’t really expect any slave who was an invited guest on the Bandersnatch to go through the ritual with him, but it almost seemed natural for this to be happening between him and Little Bear.  Had the ritual become more between him and the boy than just a social reminder of place?  Was this a form of male/male bonding Angus hadn’t thought about before?  He made a mental note to discuss this with his ramrod.  When Little Bear finished he found Angus’ hand and completed the ritual.

“Get up here in yore’ Master’s arms, little one.  I got me some powerful honggries for some slave love’n.”  Angus bellowed with affection.  Little Bear was all over the big man.  

Little Bear’s enthusiasm didn’t stop there.  He personally took Angus by the hand to take him to his brother and master, Waco.  He let Waco take it from there, but Little Bear stayed right by Angus’ side.  Angus was blown away by Waco’s new brother.  So was Bill Birdsall and Shane.  Shane couldn’t keep his hands off Blue and from what Waco was observing, Blue didn’t mind a whole lot.  Waco noticed Blue’s tackle was getting erect from Shane and Bill Birdsall’s attention.  Blue sent out to Waco,

<<  Is it normal for my sexual organs to become engorged, brother? >>

<< If it’s happening, then it must be normal, brother. >> Waco chuckled in amusement.  Then he added, << Our cousin and his master makes my dick do the same thing.  Just look down at the wet spot at my crotch. >>

Waco caught Blue looking at his full crotch and smiled a wicked smile.

<< Thank you, brother.  Glad there ain’t nothing wrong with my new body. >>  They shared a laugh.

Angus knew of the Kryscells but had no idea Waco and his men had undertaken a project to mobilize them.  He was impressed.  So was every man there.  At one point Angus asked Waco if his other brothers were coming.

“They ain’t been included in anything dealing with the Bandersnatch, Uncle Angus.  They’re invited to our birthday party tomorrow.  Without Captain Long’s approval, I didn’t think it would be appropriate to invite them.  Besides, how the hell would we explain Blue, the Kryscells or Keeke to them.  They ain’t got no concept of these things and would probably wig out if they found out.  They had a difficult time accept Ox as my slave.  You know they’re both hard core Republican Christianist; or, at least they used to be Republicans.  Last I heard they became independents.”

“Yeah, I heard that, too.  Surprised the hell out of me.  I suppose you’re right, Son.  Sound thinking on your part.  We can barely get them out here for the holidays.  Perhaps it’s Charlie and my faults as much as theirs.  We let it be known a long time ago we weren’t traveling into the city.  I think Charlie and me, we sort of blamed them for what’s been happening with our government.  They was big Boosh supporters.  It was our way of showing our disapproval without cutting them out.  I think they’re resentful over that.  They probably have a right to be.  We shouldn’t be treating our brothers that a’ way, but when we had to make Shane a slave they wanted to. . . well, let’s not get into that.  Best we forgive and forgit; however, we ain’t gotta’ let ‘em walk all over us neither.  They think because they got themselves college educations and Charlie and I opted to be ranchers, they know so much more than us.  I’d say that boot was definitely on the other foot right now.”  Angus bellowed with laughter and Waco joined him.  It was good for Waco to hear his uncle laugh again.

* * * * * * *

Not surprisingly, the man who accepted it all with the greatest ease, grace and reverence was Chief Tin Penny.  His sons were a close second.  When they finally came to Little Bear the old man held his grandson and wept.  His uncles did, too.  They wept not because their family member was a slave, but because they saw his life to have a larger purpose, a greater meaning than he would’ve ever experienced with his father.  Little Bear was proud of his heritage and his family.  He had a right to be proud.

Little Bear was also very proud of his new adopted family. He explained everything to his kin with a voice of authority.  He was growing, not only in stature and strength, but also knowledge and wisdom.  There was no doubt in the Chief’s mind, one day Little Bear would become the leader of their tribe, and he would far surpass his own or his son’s wisdom.  He would be greatly revered and loved by his people and lead them into a new age of peace and hope; perhaps, even into a new world.

* * * * * * *

Chet Baker and Lyle Chambers arrived.  They were ushered into the reception room and left to go through the reception line.  They talked with Charlie and Lazarus who were at the head of the line, but their eyes kept drifting down the line toward the boys and the strange creatures around them.

“Is that young man standing next to Waco a relative?” Lyle asked Lazarus.

“He’s a new addition to our family, Son.” Lazarus replied, “He is definitely related to Waco and to all the Goodnights for that matter.  He’s as closely related to Waco as an identical twin.  He’s an interspecies experiment; a hybrid, if you will, between a silicon based life form and a carbon based life form.  As you might appreciate, Mr. Chambers, the boys have taken a page from Mary Shelly’s “The Modern Prometheus” and created a beautiful, new creature.  As a matter of fact, probably the first such life form in the universe, which makes him uniquely, one of a kind.  

His body looks like a twin of our boy Waco, because he is a perfect clone artificially manufactured from a small portion of Waco’s genetic material, but his intelligence comes from a rare blue crystal, one of the Kryscellians, our medical staff planted inside his body.  He is a total creation of our boys and their friend’s imagination and ingenuity.  My partner remarked he felt their efforts bordered on genius.  My personal feelings are, they passed over into that realm and now own the kingdom.  Go down and meet him.  He’s a fine young man.”

Chet and Lyle almost broke their necks going down the line to get to Waco and his new brother.  They stopped long enough to be introduced to the Kryscellians and were blown away.

“It is, indeed, a pleasure to meet such fine teachers, gentlemen.” the Kryscellians spoke in almost human speech patterns through processors and synthesizers.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” said Lyle for both of them. “I understand the Goodnight men are responsible for your fine looking vessel.”

“They are, indeed, and we couldn’t be more pleased.”

“The design and craftsmanship is stunning.  It’s a work of art.  Who is responsible for the design?”

“The overall design, including housing and propulsion units were a joint effort of all the boys; however, the external design was the work of young JR Goodnight.  When we saw the beauty and intricate design of his work, we knew we had a winner.  It was by unanimous decision his designs were chosen.”

JR and Hank overheard the conversation.  Hank put his arms around JR’s front and pulled him into him and held him tight.  JR got a lump in his throat.

“Are you one entity or several?” Chet asked.

“We speak with one voice to preclude confusion; however, as you can see there are over three hundred of us of various ages and sizes; the larger, of course, being the oldest.”

“And now one of you resides inside Waco Goodnight’s new twin brother.”

“Yes, we were sorry to lose him from our family group, but he’s not really gone from us.  We see and relate with him on a regular basis, and if the experiment fails for some unforeseen reason, he can easily be returned to us without trauma to either life form.  In weighing all the options we saw it as a win-win situation for him and encouraged him to go with our blessing.  We’re happy for him.  He has a chance to have a life we can only dream of; however, the boys have given us far more than we might have imagined before.”

Chet and Lyle moved on to greet Waco, and meet his new brother and the beautiful winged creature sitting on his shoulder.  To meet Waco’s new twin brother was unbelievable, but to meet what they later described to each other as a fairy princess was out of the park.  They couldn’t get enough of Keeke.  She knew they were the boy’s teachers and she applied her considerable charms on them to win them over.

Chet was called away for a while.  Lazarus and a couple of the men had some things to talk over with him.  He excused himself and left Lyle.  Lyle walked over to where Strom was standing.  Strom was talking to one of the ranchers about the impending birth of the twins, but the man left when Lyle walked up.  They were in an alcove away from the rest of the crowd.

“You’re looking healthy and comfortable in your new spring shedding of fur, Strom, and the larger you get with the twins the more handsome you become to me.”

“Thank you, Lyle.  You’re looking as fine as the night I first met you, young human.” he spoke in a booming bass voice.  Lummox rarely spoke as long as they could communicate telepathically; however, when they did it was for a special purpose.

“Thank you, Sir.” Lyle replied and thought, << Why do I have such a strong urge to kiss this creature? >>

“The question should be, ‘Why do you resist your natural urge, Son.’?”  Strom asked quietly as if he was responding to a secret.

“Forgive me, I forgot you can hear my thoughts, Sir.  I hesitate because I’m unsure of myself and unsure you would be receptive.”

“You have my permission to try me.” Strom answered.

Lyle found himself locked in an embrace with the huge monster enjoying every minute of it.  His dick became rock hard and Strom brushed the back of his big furry paw against it to let Lyle know he knew what he did to him.

<< I’ve missed you, Lyle. >> he projected to Lyle.

<< But we only met once, why would you miss me? >>

<< The heart of men and Lummox are funny things.  Sometimes the heart knows things your mind won’t let you think.  Here, let me show you. >>

Strom did something in Lyle’s mind that was akin to showing him how his heart felt after Lyle left the ranch the first time after meeting Strom.  It was an empty, aching feeling that brought tears to Lyle’s eyes.  It was a physical discomfort bordering on pain.

<< My God!  You felt that for me? >>

<< It’s difficult to lie when you open your heart to another, Son. >>

<< No, no, I didn’t mean it like that, Strom.  I guess I’m just confused and a bit flattered. >>

<< Don’t be.  You’re a worthy and handsome human. >>

<< But I’m sort of spoken for, Sir. >> Lyle countered.

<< So is he. >> The giant said softly.  Strom wasn’t a dummy.  He knew who Lyle was referring to. <<  You don’t have to betray his love to love me, but I would urge you to be honest with him. >>

<< I don’t know.  You know without me saying how I feel about you; how I felt about you the first time I met you; how I feel about you now. >>

<< Go on, you can feel me.  I won’t mind. >> Strom encouraged Lyle.

Lyle placed his hand on the huge mound that was Strom’s pouch and felt the two bairns inside.  He moved a bit lower and for the first time felt a Lummox’s dick.  It was massive and full to the touch.  It was intoxicating to him.  There was an electricity pass between them that was palpable.  Strom leaned into Lyle and kissed him again.  He ran his hand over Lyle’s belly as he kissed him deeply.

<< I want to see your belly full with my bairn, Lyle.  These bairns I carry are for Captain Jones and Captain Long.  I’m happy to do it for them.  I seem to be a good secondary father, but they belong to them.  The twins know me and love me, but they will eventually belong to their fathers.  I want our bairn, Lyle.  Yours and mine.  I lost my female mate about two years ago.  I don’t want another female.  I want you, Lyle.  You have already chosen me to be your mate. >>

Lyle was hard as a rock.  How could this be happening to him?  He was totally unprepared.  Why would Strom say he’d already chose him?  Maybe because Strom knew Lyle had been daydreaming of just such a thing.  He masturbated imagining having sex with the huge creature holding him so tightly in his furry arms.  He had dreamed of his belly being extended and full of Strom’s baby, wondering what it would be like.  He imagined he could even feel it move within him at times.  He didn’t want to admit it, but he suddenly realized it was what he wanted from the first time Strom held him in his arms and kissed him.  He could think of nothing else.  Strom was right, but how did he know?

<< When you were alone and cried out for me in your mind, did you think I would not come to you?  That’s the beauty of sharing minds, Lyle.  You weren’t alone.  You haven’t been alone since we met.  You gave me consent to come to you; even in your dreams, you called to me, and we shared the wonder of coupling if only in our minds and hearts.  I was as taken with you as a mate as your were with me.  Every time you pleasured yourself you called to me to join you and I did.  I held you in my arms until you exceeded and cried in my heart because I couldn’t share your seed. >>

Lyle was almost in tears.  He knew, beyond a doubt, what Strom was telling him was true.  He did something unexpected, something he never thought he would do, he relaxed and kissed Strom back with the same gentle passion the beast was kissing him and completely opened his heart to the giant creature.

<< I want to have your bairn, Strom.  I don’t know how or when, but I know it’s something I have to do.  You’re right, I must talk with my friend.  I know I can never share with him what I can have with you.  Here,— here is my heart.  I open it to you.  Look inside.  Feel it, my love.  See, it’s there.  It should be no surprise to you.  It’s there for you to take and make your own.  Yes, Strom, I will gladly have your bairn.  I will love it and you equally as my own. >>

Strom slowly broke off their kiss, but continued to hold Lyle tightly.

“No more doubts?” Strom spoke softly to Lyle.

“No more doubts.” Lyle agreed.

“No more fear?” Strom asked as he stole another kiss.

“No more fear.” Lyle agreed.

Chet returned after a while and joined Lyle, Strom and several other men discussing the evening.  Lyle seemed different to Chet somehow.  He seemed relaxed, more attentive to him, and more loving.  Whatever came over him Chet was enjoying it.

“We need to talk later.”  Chet whispered to him.  Lyle agreed.

* * * * * * *    
Cable announced supper.  David and Jonathan opened the huge doors to the banquet hall.  There were “oohs” and “awws” when the men saw the huge mediaeval banquet hall before them and the roaring fire in the fireplace.  It was perfect for such an occasion.  Lazarus gently poked Charlie in the ribs.

“I told you they’d pick the middle ages banquet hall.” Lazarus whispered to Charlie.

The supper was wonderful and the ship's androids waited on everyone.  They were swift and prompt.  Cable and his men supervised everything and it ran smoothly.  After the meal, everyone sat around having coffee while the tables were cleared.  Keekepata was sitting next to Waco in a highchair that brought her up to table height.  Cable prepared a sweet pea broth that was very much to her liking with some honey mead to drink with it.  She was very pleased.  Everyone wanted Lazarus to make a speech and applauded until he stood.

“I don’t think I’m the one who should be making a speech this evening, but I do have a few words to say.  First of all, Mr. Goodnight and I were as blown away as the rest of you men by our young men’s accomplishments.  We assigned them the task of coming up with some form of transportation for the Kryscellians at the beginning of the school year last year.  We gave them full responsibility under the guidance of my ship’s staff.  They were wise enough to bring into their counsel my partner, mate, and one the two fathers of my children, Captain Arlen Jones.”

Lazarus had Arlen stand and everyone applauded for him.

“To say we got more than we bargained for is the understatement of the century.”  Lazarus laughed and the audience laughed with him.  “The idea of an interspecies experiment and the execution of that idea exceeds my greatest expectations.  No, that’s not quite right either.  Let me say it exceeds my wildest dreams.  I wish we had some kind of award of the highest quality to offer you gentlemen to show our complete bewilderment and awe of your achievement.”  That got a round of applause for Lazarus.  “Alas, perhaps an award would only cheapen the sincerity of your efforts and sometimes the greatest reward is the accomplishment itself.”  More applause.  “But the cherry on top is what you have done for others who have given so much to us unconditionally.  So, congratulations, gentlemen on a job well done!”  Everyone stood and applauded for the Goodnight boys.

“Waco!  Speak!”  several men hollered and everyone broke into applause.  Waco rose and bowed to his audience.

“I didn’t prepare a speech.” he smiled and looked around him at the glowing, adoring faces looking up at him and drew strength.  “If it’s true what they say about the journey being everything, then it truly was in our case.  I can’t speak for every man on our team,”

“Yes, you can!  Right, men?”  hollered Bronc unexpectedly. Then he looked like he was embarrassed.  All Waco’s men agreed with him and a couple patted him on the back for speaking up.  Waco laughed.

“Thanks, brothers.  Then I will speak for all of us.  It was a great learning experience, and what we gained from it was far more than we ever expected.  I learned more from our project than I learned all year in school, with the exception of Mr. Chamber’s English class and Coach Baker’s coaching.”  Everyone laughed.  “The genius of our project, if there is any, came from the joint effort and input from all of us.  The Kryscellians themselves were patient and understanding to a fault and contributed far more than any one of us humans.  We’re glad they did.  After all, it was their life we were tampering with.

In the case of my new twin brother, it was our friends Cable and Ping who came up with the original idea.  Likewise, all of us struggled for ideas to make the final design of the Kryscells’ new home not only functional, but also appealing.  The final, winning design, unanimously approved by all, was submitted anonymously because the artist was unsure of himself and his talent.  He was afraid of being laughed at.  I’m pleased and proud to tell you that anonymous artist is no longer unknown to us.  It is my younger brother JR Goodnight.”

Waco waved for JR to stand and take a bow.  Everyone applauded and whistled for JR.  Hank almost fell apart at the seams.

“Unexpectedly, the journey brought us a new family member we were totally unprepared for; our new sister Keekepata.”  Waco motioned to Keeke and she bowed to the audience.  “Welcome to Earth, little sister, and to our family.”  Keekepata got tears in her eyes.

“We, and by ‘we’ I mean all my brothers, would like to thank Captain Jones who was constantly on call for us.” More applause for Arlen.  “We’d like to thank Cable, David and Jonathan for their wonderful help and support on this project.” More applause for the bio-mechanical men. “We could not have done this project without the guidance, knowledge, patience, and support of Ping and Pong and all the android staff of the Bandersnatch.”  More applause for them.

“Last but not least, we had the undivided love, encouragement and support of our two fine friends and companions, our furry four legged brother and sister, Scraps and Happy.”  Tremendous applause for them.  Scraps and Happy ran around in the middle of the room acknowledging the men’s applause.

“Captain Long was right.  The greatest prize of all is knowing we’ve done something, and done it well for those we love.  May the rest of our lives be filled with many such prizes.  If so, we will live our lives as rich men.”

That brought down the house and everyone was applauding, whistling and stomping their feet.  It was a great moment.  Lazarus leaned over to Keekepata and whispered to her,

“Will you honor us with a dance, Dame Pata, to commemorate the occasion?”

“I would be honored, your Lordship, but I have no music.”

“Leave that to me.”  replied Lazarus.  Keeke nodded her agreement.

Lazarus stood and ordered the table be stripped of all dishes and the tablecloth.  The androids removed everything immediately.  Lazarus pulled a panel out from the table and set some switches.

“Gentlemen, to commemorate this auspicious occasion, I have asked our newest family member, Keekepata, to dance for us.  The Shushonni race have many talents and skills, but one of the most beautiful is the dance of a Shushonni female.  They are trained from birth to perform their native dances and ballets important to the Shushonni and Visallian people.  If you ever wondered where humans got the idea for classical ballet, wonder no more.  It has often been speculated it was taught to the Russians by a captive Shushonni female.  Keekepata, the table is yours.”

The men applauded.  Keekepata walked to the center of the main table and struck a pose.  Lazarus pushed a button.  The lights in the room lowered to almost nothing.  At the same time four colored pin spots shown down from the rafters in various colors and centered on Keekepata.  Lazarus punched another key and the haunting sounds of a tam-tam began to slowly beat and the distant sound of a flute that sounded very much like the Zampona or Inca pan-pipes.  As the haunting melody began Keekepata began to sway with the mucic.  The drums began to swell and the first flute was joined by another and another until there was a choir of several different pitched voices speaking.

Keeke’s dance was classical ballet of the first order; however, when she went up on her toes or en pointe, her weight was countered by her wings which raised her to the tips of her toes and allowed her to jump and spin like she was hanging suspended in midair.  Nureyev would have killed to be able to accomplish her grand jete’s.  The spots followed her everywhere and occasionally changed colors.

The dress which Arnie so lovingly designed was shown off to its maximum potential.  It moved and flowed with every step, but never rose so high as to create an embarrassment.  As its colors flashed, it complimented the vibrant colors in Keeke’s wings.  It did what every fashion designer hopes for, it became a winning combination of all elements.  It was perfectly designed for the most freedom of movement without being tasteless.

Arnie and Dr. Stevens sat holding hands transfixed by the beauty of Keeke’s dance.  Arnie was a little overwhelmed and humbled by his own talent.  He was looking at his creation, his work of art, come to life, to take on a life of its own.  The silence in the room was palpable.  Even Scraps and Happy sat and watched like they were stone statues.  There wasn’t a heart in the room the small winged female didn’t capture that evening.  The drums and music reached a climax and all the flutes withdrew from the melody in the reverse order they entered the piece until there was nothing left but the slow, hypnotic beat of the soft tam-tam.  Keeke’s final position was to throw herself into a death position as the last beat of the drum faded.  It was a moment of great drama, and she played it to the max.  

Lazarus flipped a switch, the spots went dark and there was only the light from the dwindling fire to light the room.  There was total silence for a moment and then the room went crazy.  Scraps and Happy were barking wildly at her.  Lazarus brought up the house lights, reached over and offered Keekepata his hand.  She took it and rose from the table to bow to her audience.  The men gave her a standing ovation.  She was quite moved.  It was all captured on the ship’s video and the three holographic cameras caught the full beauty of her dance.  Waco was looking forward to forwarding it to her Lord protector.

Lazarus stood.  “Thank you, Keekepata.  That was wonderful.  I can’t remember ever seeing the Bolodero danced better with such grace and poise.  You honor your family.”

“It was a pleasure, my Lord.”  she replied breathlessly.  The men applauded again as she walked to Waco and gave him a hug.  

* * * * * * *

Things calmed down and the androids brought out more coffee and a tray of desserts and after dinner drinks.  Talk was lively around the table once more.  After dessert and relaxing for a while Lazarus rose again.

“Before we bring this evening to a close there is one matter of business I need to bring up before we disburse, but before I do, I understand Waco and his team have accommodations arranged for those of you who drove out to the ranch.  Those who came by portal may choose to return to your homes or they can find accommodations for you as well.  

I’m sorry I have to bring up a matter of such distress to all of us on such a happy occasion as we’ve had tonight and anticipate for tomorrow, but it’s a reflection of the times we live in.  Since we’re all gathered here and probably won’t have a chance to leave our families alone tomorrow, it seems right for us to discuss it tonight.  There has been an increase of cattle mutilations and outright robbery of many of the ranchers sitting at this table.”  There were mummers of agreement went around the table.

“I know every rancher here has been working hard to protect themselves and their hands against the gray critter’s telepathy.  I know because I’ve provided you with most of the materials necessary to cancel the gray’s mental probes and we’ve had our men check them out.  I’m satisfied we’re ready to being the next phase of our resistance.  Through some extraterrestrial sources, so they can’t be traced back to anyone on this planet, I’ve managed to acquire a couple of RPG missile launchers.  We’re ready to put our plan into action.  

Now, you have to understand, whoever decides to be the first must work with us so we can clean up anything that’s left of the alien craft, including the bodies.  We will provide you with special communication devices that can’t be detected or the signal intercepted by anyone else.

Warn your men, if by chance, an alien should survive the missile attack and subsequent crash of their craft, do not, under any circumstances try to help it or save it.  Warn them not to touch it.  The gray critters carry all sorts of diseases which can be transmitted to humans.  They are walking bags of infection and disease.  If your men find one, tell them not to try to communicate with it.  Tell them to think of them like they would a rattlesnake, kill it instantly and allow us to dispose of it with the rest of the craft.”  Lazarus waited for the information to sink in.  

“I know in the past there have been instances where folks, particularly Native Americans, who have tried to be kind and help ‘star people’ as they call them who have been wounded or stranded on our planet.  They are to be commended for their altruistic urges to help any living creature as a part of the whole; however, trust me, any gratitude the grays may have had for their benefactors, was short lived at best.  They don’t think like we do.  They think like some insects on our world, as a mass mind.  What one knows they all eventually know.  They have no respect and a great disdain for our species.  They think nothing of betraying us.  Hell, they think nothing of betraying their own kind if it’s more expedient for them.”  Lazarus let that amount of information sink in.

“The gray critters are slaves to the two war-like reptilian species and do their bidding.  Before I go further and sound like a soapbox orator, are there any questions.”

“I ain’t got no questions.  I don’t need to hear no more.  I’m ready.  We’ve lost so much we’ve lost count.  Even with the influx of new stock we suddenly got from them breeders and told it was part of the Federal Gubbernment’s plan to help the poor ranchers, we still can’t make it.  We ain’t dumb Mr. Goodnight and Ramrod Long.  We know where them cows come from.  The fuck’n Federal Gubberment ain’t done diddly squat for us since that asshole Bush took office way back in 2000.  Personally, I ain’t got no one to blame but myself.  I voted for the son of a bitch.  He sent my oldest boy off to Iraq in his illegal power grab for oil and my boy was killed.  I’m ready to fight ‘em to my death for what I got left, but if some’um ain’t done soon we’ll have to shut down operations and move to the city to exist.  If that happens, this group will be less a couple of members.  As I understand it, there’s greater strength in numbers.” complained Sam Eagleston.

“There is strength in numbers and we don’t want to lose you, Sam.  We don’t wanna’ lose any of you men.  We’ll make damn sure them Gubberment folks help you out again.”  Lazarus laughed and winked at Mr. Eagleston.  “Are you willing to be the first?”

“I ‘shore as hell am; however, I want my family protected.  I still got me two fine boys, ma’ wife and daughter I gotta’ think of.  I think my cowboy-slaves are in it with me for the long haul, but I wanna’ know my wife and kids are safe, no matter what happens to me.”

“That can be done.  We can work with you on that.”  Lazarus assured him.

“I’m next.” spoke Al Dugan, “I’m in the same boat along with Sam.  Like him, I need to know my family’s gonna’ be safe.  I’m willing to put my life on the line, and I think my cowboy-slaves will go along with me.  I been straight with ‘em and if we got to sweeten their lot in life for standing with us, so be it.  I’m willing to negociate freedom for standing by my side through this.  They know me to be an honorable man.  I’m even willing to make a verbal contract with ‘em in front of our family.”

“Sounds like a solid plan to me, Al.  We can promise your family’s safety.”

“I can vouch for these men about that.”  spoke up Luke Olsen. “They rescued me and my wife from the Christianist regime and we’re living on our farm here on this very ship.”

“How could you be living on your farm on this ship, Owens?” one of the other ranchers asked incredulously.

“You remember that forty acre farm what suddenly come up missing this last year?  Now, it’s called Owen’s Lake.  Well, that was my farm.  You seen what they’re capable of.  I didn’t believe it was possible either until I done seen it with ma’ own eyes.  I never put much stock in biblical prophecy, but for me and my family the ‘rapture’ done already happened.  Yore’ welcome to come spend the night on my farm and find out if’n you don’t believe me, but I guaran-damn-tee ya’ you won’t leave this ship.”  Luke Olsen challenged.  “I can’t tell you how grateful me and my wife is for what these men have done for us.  My boys is living separate from us right now, but we gets to see ‘em most ever’ weekend and we’ll be with ‘em tomorrow as a family.  That’s just the way things gotta’ be right now.  I have faith in these men.  If’n they tell me h’it ain’t always gonna’ be like this, I believe ‘em.  Why, if my wife and I was still in one a’ them Dominionist prisons, most likely we’d be dead by now.  Them bastards ain’t no Christians.  Trust me.”  

“All right, then it’s agreed.  Ed, you’ll be the first to shoot down one of their ships.  We’ll work with you and show you how to use the weapon.  Then you contact us, and I’ll have a scout ship in the air in minutes.  I’ll have a contingency of men bunk it in on the main ship during that week.  The faster we get it cleaned up, the safer we’re gonna’ be.  If the government men can’t find a trace of it they can’t ask many questions.  They don’t wanna’ admit UFOs exist so they can’t probe too deep into what you know.  Their secrecy will work against them this time in our favor.  Any more questions?”

The men seemed satisfied there was a plan and they were putting it into action.

“If not, let’s adjourn and spend the rest of the evening socializing and enjoying each others’ company.  Those who must depart, we’ll look forward to seeing you again tomorrow.”

The men didn’t seem to be in any hurry to break up the party.  They were relaxing and discussing what was happening in the world and how they hoped Lazarus’ plan would put a plug in their losses.  At least they had a leader and a plan to give them some hope.  A man can fight against adversity as long as he has hope.  When he gives up hope, all is lost.  These men knew they were no longer wading in the shallows.  They were heading into deep, dark, shark infested waters, but they were willing to bet their all.

They all came around and personally thanked and complimented Keekepata on her dance.  Most were just simple farm people and knew nothing about classical dance, but they were not so unsophisticated they couldn’t appreciate the beauty and greater meaning of the moment.  It was something they experienced together that bound them into a coherent unity that was palpable.  They were establishing a brotherhood of experience, a cabal of necessity, and a greater extended family.   

* * * * * * *

As the men stood around and talked someone came up with the idea they should have a name for their group, after all they had officially become a resistance movement.  There were all sort of suggestions, but one old cowboy, Ed Wixon, had the wisdom to suggest a name which would be acceptable to all and could be used in everyday conversation without drawing attention or suspicion.

“Sometimes the old ways are the best.” Ed allowed in his best, slow cowboy drawl, “Our forefathers formed an organization in 1867 know as the ‘Order of Patrons of Husbandry’ similar to the Masonic Lodges; however, it was more family oriented and a lot less secretive.”

“What’s ‘at old coot talking about?  I ain’t never heard of such a thing.”  asked Sam Eagleston.

“I think he’s talking about the old ‘Grange’ which has been defunct now for many years.” answered Al Dugan.

“Some kids burned down our old Grange hall in the fifties.” another rancher said.

“‘At’s right, gentlemen, I’m a’ talk’n ‘bout the ‘Grange.’  It was formed as a union to fight the railroad robber barons from price setting and gouging.  They had the farmers and rancher by the balls and could charge any damn price they wanted and pay only prices they set for product.  For years they had complete control over goods the farmers bought and sold.  They were strangling the smaller ranchers and farmers to death, just like today.  You reenact the Grange and you ain’t gonna’ be suspected of nothing unusual; however, you men will know what you’re talking about.  You only let into your group them folks you know to be loyal to your cause.”

“Ed’s got a good idea.”  Angus came to Ed’s rescue.  “My granddaddy used to tell us about the Grange.  The Grange did a lot of good works for our community.  They built the damn Court House.  It’s a beautiful old building, but it’s hardly used anymore and in bad shape.  The rotunda leeks, water gets in and is about to ruin the building.  It’s a damn shame.  It has a lot of history to it.”

It was debated some more, but everyone came around to the idea it would be a perfect cover organization for the resistance.  After all, the original Grange was a resistance organization; not quite in the same way, but the metaphor was close enough.  They decided to take a straw vote of the ranchers present to reenact the Grange, and it was unanimous.  Someone even suggested they could hold social function, and the Christianist looneys couldn’t claim they were something inspired by the devil.  The Grange had a history of being a legitimate organization that did many fine things.  By reenacting the Grange they now had a cover.  That simple idea brought a great deal of peace of mind to many of the men.

* * * * * * *

The party began to break up around ten in the evening and Waco’s men, Travis, Little Bear, Gavin and Bronc were responsible for lodging for the men staying over.  They couldn’t help have a little fun with the men who didn’t know they would be staying in a tiny space on a shelf in one of the storage rooms on the ship.  The Chief had no problem with it at all and once he described the technology to his sons they were so curious they didn’t think about being concerned.

Travis and Little Bear took Lyle Chambers and Chet Baker to the store room and showed them the rack that held the entire town and surrounding areas of Parsons, New Mexico.  They couldn’t believe it, but there it was.  The tiny town was lit up from street lights and one movie marquee.

“Come, gentlemen.  We’ll take you though the gate to your lodgings for the evening.”  Little Bear smiled at them.  Lyle and Chet were good sports and didn’t chicken out.

Once they walked through the portal they saw size was not an issue.  They were now as small in comparison to the town.  Travis and Little Bear showed them to their motel, the clerk checked them in, showed them to their room and wished them a ‘goodnight.’  Chet tried to tip the man, but he wouldn’t take it.

“There’s no charge for tonight, gentlemen.  We don’t get many lodgers here and Captain Long’s men have more than amply compensated us for your stay tonight.  We’re just glad to have you and hope this is a new trend for our little town.  You’re welcome back anytime.”

Chet and Lyle were flabbergasted.  The room had two queen size beds and was clean and comfortable.  Travis and Little Bear didn’t linger and told them they would call before they came for them in the morning.  Several other guest were staying in the same motel.  Lyle and Chet felt safe and comfortable in their room and even decided to take a late swim in the heated pool and spa.  The owner told them they didn’t need suits.  There wasn’t anyone but him around to see anything, and he would be watching TV the rest of the night.

Chet turned on their TV in the room just to check it out and they had cable.  They couldn’t believe it.  Here on the ship in this tiny town, they got cable.  They were impressed, but they weren’t there to watch TV.  After meeting and talking with Chief Tin Penny and his sons in the spa, Chet and Lyle excused themselves and returned to their room.  They wasted no time getting into bed together and taking care of business.  After they finished and were enjoying the afterglow of their coupling they began to talk.

“Have you ever had feelings for anybody else but me?” Chet asked Lyle.

“Not until recently.” Lyle replied.

“Lemme’ guess.  The big Lummox, Strom?” Chet smiled at him.

“What makes you say that?” Lyle asked.

“I see the way you look at him.  Like you want to have his baby.” Chet laughed.

“Chet!” Lyle exclaimed.

“Would you, if you could?” Chet asked.

“How would you feel about it?”

“Well, . . . at first I thought it would be the end of my world.  I couldn’t have my cake and eat it, too, but that was just the immature part of me spanking my own monkey.  Childish of me, huh?  The big brother part of me kicked my ass around for a while, then made me realize you mean more to me than just to live the rest of your life picking up crumbs from under my table.  I been stringing you along all these years think’n one day you’ll find someone of your own, and at the same time praying you never would.” Chet laughed.  He continued,

“I’ll never have a sexual relationship with another man, brother.  I think we both know that.  I don’t know if I ever would have if it weren’t something we started doing in grade school with one another.  I wondered many times if’n it was all my fault; if I’d a’ cut it off with you when we reached maturity, if you might’ve turned out different?  If you might have liked women?  Somehow, I grew out of it, but you didn’t.

Well, that ain’t the real truth, neither.  It ain’t honest of me, ‘cause I didn’t grow completely out of it, I still do it with you ever’ damn chance we git to be alone for a while and after all these years, I still enjoy it.  So I gotta’ accept my part of the responsibility.  In some way, I guess I need it as much as you; however, I love you too much to deny you what happiness you can get out of life, and if it means I get me a big assed furry beast for a brother-in-law, so be it.”

“Do you really mean that, Chet?” Lyle asked.

“Of course I do, with all my heart.  What da’ ya’ want?  I’m dying from honesty here, brother.  I’m bleed’n to death from magnanimity.” Chet used his best Italian Godfather mafioso imitation on Lyle.  Lyle laughed.

“Would that mean an end to you and me?” Lyle asked.

“Oh, so now you want ‘chore cock and eat it, too, huh?” Chet made a bad attempt at a pun.

“Seems only fair, brother.” Lyle laughed at him.

“God, I hope it ain’t gonna’ be an end for us.  Only if you want it to be.  Only if yore’ beast allows you to spend an evening in my arms with his blessing.  I don’t wanna’ be torn limb from limb some night in the height of passion by a jealous Lummox husband.” he laughed.  Lyle chuckled.  Lyle couldn’t believe the conversation they were having.  It was almost surreal or at least on a par with Fellini’s ‘Juliet Of The Spirits.’  Minus a dead horse on a raft, it seemed that weird.

“Somehow, I don’t think that will be a problem.” Lyle said with conviction.

“As you know, I ain’t no scholar, but there’s something about this that’s almost Shakespearian, ain’t it?” suggested Chet.

“Yeah, sort of Twelfth Night meets The Tempest meets Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“No matter how it turns out, I just want you to be happy, Lyle.  I love you, brother.  Love don’t limit another for its own happiness.  Wait a minute! You’ve already committed to him, ain’t chu’?” Chet smiled.

“Why do you say that?” Lyle prodded.

“They way we had sex tonight.  It was the best we ever had.  You put ‘chore all into it like you were trying to tell me something; like you was trying to say ‘goodbye.’”

“I don’t wanna’ to say ‘goodbye,’ Chet.”

“I know you don’t.  Neither do I, bro.  Talk to your beast.  Ask him if there’s room for me?  Carol made room for us.  Ask if he could do the same?”

“I don’t have to ask, Chet.  He just told me he enjoyed our sex as much as we did.  He did think I could’ve put just a little more into it and tried just a bit harder to pleasure you, but otherwise he was satisfied with our performance.”

Chet broke up laughing.  “You son of a bitch!  You let him come along for our ride?” he couldn’t stop laughing.  “That really turns me on, Lyle.  Now, don’t be blow’n smoke up my butt!  He really tuned in on us, huh?”

“I couldn’t help it, bro.  Forgive me.  He was in my mind.  I was thinking about him, and you were making me feel so good, I just wanted to share you with him.  We’re good together, Chet.  We been doing it for so long we’re a team, like Hope and Crosby, Redford and Newman, or Torvill and Dean.”
“Torvill and Dean?” laughed Chet. “Them limey ice dancers?”

“Yeah, it’s a stretch, but you get the idea; the Olympics; 1984; Bolero; Gold medal.”

“Do I get to sit in on you and him in performance and hold up a score card afterward?”

“He says he’d be happy for you to.  He’d like for you to be there when our bairn is conceived, like watching the video of Captain Trong and Commander fielding.”

“Wow, now that was hot!  You know what?  This could work out, brother.” Chet laughed wickedly.

Lyle and Chet resolved something that lingered between them for years.  Things they never said to one another before.  It was one of their best times together.  They decided their conversation made them incredibly horny and decided Chet should take another dip into Lyle’s hot ass; when they finished, they slept the peaceful dreams of two brothers who just solved the world’s problems with something so simple as a good, hot fuck.  They knew they would have no more problems with Lazarus and Charlie’s kind invitation to meet at the ranch.  The rest would resolve itself like the final three five one chord of a Bach choral.
* * * * * * *

Waco accompanied Keeke and Blue back to the infirmary for the night.  He was going to have to figure out different living arrangements for them.  Keeke was completely healed and Blue was coming along faster than anyone thought possible.  He didn’t know what he was going to do with them.  Blue would be no problem, but Keekepata might prove to be difficult.  Dr. Stevens and Arnie’s property had a guest cottage that was unused that might be suitable for Blue.  Waco wondered it Blue could handle Keeke.  They seemed to get along well together.

Waco knew he couldn’t keep her with him all the time.  He needed some time to himself.  Even though the huge tom cat who attacked her was banished to another ranch, there were still large cats on the ranch to say nothing of birds of prey which might threaten her well being.  He wondered about the wisdom of having her attend his birthday party.  She stuck out like a sore thumb and was quite obviously “not from around here.”  He thought of his two city uncles and their families.  How would he explain her to them?  Explaining Blue would be problem enough.  Waco and his dad hadn’t ‘come out’ to his uncles regarding their other life as compatriots of Lazarus.

He almost made up his mind she had to remain in the hospital the next day, but he would arrange for a closed circuit video transmission to the large screen digital TV Arnie and Dr. Stevens had in the room for her and Blue’s entertainment.  Waco decided to talk with Lazarus.  To do that, he had to tell Lazarus Keeke’s story and the agreement he made with Captain Vinceeth.  That was no problem.  He planned to do it anyway.  He would just do it sooner.  He explained everything to Lazarus during the course of the evening  and took him to view Captain Vinceeth’s video.

“Sounds to me like you done everything right, Son.  There should be no worry on your part.  If you have to be catering to Keekepata’s needs all day tomorrow, it won’t leave much time for you to relax and enjoy yourself.  You’re forgetting, Captain Vinceeth made her agree to a contract she would obey you and consider you to be her master.  There comes a time when we have to make decisions that won’t be liked by everyone.  She’s put you in an awkward position.  You didn’t asked to have her here.  She came of her own accord, and if she gets her feelings hurt by your decision, it ain’t your problem.  You just remind her, it’s her own fault.  She knows the greatest, most unforgivable action a Shushonni can take is to be ungracious to their benefactor.  I’m sure Captain Vinceeth discussed it with her.”

“Yes, Sir.  He made it very clear, in plain, easy to understand language.  There could be no doubt in her mind.  There certainly wasn’t in mine.”

“Then, part of her punishment is to accept her circumstances and make the best of it.  You don’t even have to arrange for a closed circuit transmission for her.  You would be doing it out of the kindness and consideration you have for her.  Would you do that for any other slave?  No, don’t answer that!”  Lazarus laughed, “Knowing you like I do, you would!” they shared a laugh, “It would be unforgivable of her to insist on more.  Believe me, Shushonni justice is sure and certain.  They wouldn’t tolerate her being ungrateful or ungracious to her host.  She’s very young; however, she’s mature enough she should be accepting responsibility for her own actions, especially with her breeding.”

“Is there something I don’t know about her, ramrod?  Something, I should know?”

“Yes, but protocol dictates I allow Captain Vinceeth to tell you.”

“I think I can guess.  I think she’s high born, of royal blood.”

“Good guess, Son, but you didn’t hear it from me.  Trey Vinceeth will tell you in good time.  He has his reasons, and I imagine the main one is he doesn’t want you intimidated by her.  He was very sincere when he told her she should expect to be treated as your slave and to conduct herself accordingly.  You see, it’s part and parcel of her punishment.  Knowing her family, it’s also part of their teaching her to respect those not so fortunately born as she.  She has a lot of attitude what needs adjusting.  You’re just the man what can do it, Son.  I have faith in you, and after watching his video, I know Trey Vinceeth does.  Having a Visallian warrior expose himself to you is serious stuff, my young Captain.  They don’t choose their mates lightly.  He’s got serious feelings for you, Son.”

“I know, Captain Long; however, I think I have strong feelings for him, too.  I ain’t been able to think about nothing else for a while.  I feel like I’m being untrue and betraying my obligations to Ox, my brothers, you and dad.”

“Don’t feel that way.  Your capacity for love will grow and expand as you mature.  Don’t grow up too soon, Waco.  Allow it to happen.  A word of perspective: because of the Long-shot I gave you and your dad, you will live an extended lifetime.  You have lots of time to try things the average man never has the time for; however, you only have a brief period of approximately eighteen to twenty years to be a young man and grow up.  Revel in those years, Son, like a pig in its favorite mud wallow.  Don’t rush it, but don’t let it pass you by either.  Grab the opportunities as they come to you.

Trey Vinceeth is a mature man and warrior.  He remembers what it was like to be a young man.  He won’t push you further or faster than you can handle.  His code of honor as a nobleman and warrior won’t allow him to ever hurt you.  Visallian warriors may be the pushiest suitors in the universe, but they are also the most considerate and loving.  They are the standard by which all other males in the universe judge their inclinations to be alpha-males.  They have sterling protocols for courtship and adhere to them religiously.  To them, the prize of conquest is the ultimate goal, but the fulfilment of their passion is in the journey.

You couldn’t do better for a suitor, Son.  Don’t worry none about age difference.  When a man matures, as you will surely do, all men become brothers, their ages not withstanding.  Besides, to take a young man like you for his first time, who is learning to be a leader and with such a strong sense of self as you are developing could only be satisfied by a man like Trey Vinceeth.  I have a feeling all this brouhaha with Keekepata and your meeting with the Captain was preordained.”

“How do you know these things, Ramrod?  My voices spoke to me and told me almost the same thing you did.  How can I go wrong if it’s preordained, Sir?”

“How, indeed?”  Lazarus smiled at him.  “Just be aware, sometimes the voices only tell you what they want you to know.  They are mostly benign, yet they can be laconic.   There may be more they’re not telling you,  withholding to suit their own purposes.  Our limits are not being able to see and understand the larger picture they envision.  What may not be clear to us now, may become clear with the passage of time.

The early Greeks realized this intuitively; however, they assigned people-like Gods to what they perceived as whimsical tantrums displayed by Godlike people.  They tried to anthropomorphize the voices they sometimes heard.  Thus they attempted to worship many Gods displaying all sorts of petty jealousies, conflicts and contradictions; something the voices never intended.  It became chaos and collapsed into fear and superstition.

It’s still going on today.  Organized religion has become little more than a platform for those who can tell the most lies about the biggest myth.  Their flocks are bound together, not by freedom of thought or genuine expressions of love and charity, but by mutual hatred, suspicion, fear and greed; all the ingredients for failure from a massive internal hemorrhage.  They build the myth to such grandiose proportions until it collapses from the weight of its own preponderance.

Today’s myth is tomorrow’s religion, as long as you can convince the sheep to have faith in the unprovable.  Faith is a cost free panacea from the hopelessness of poverty, ignorance, and despair; but, that’s the way the more enlightened, wealthy one percent of your society wants it.  The faithful are easily led to slaughter by their highly paid Judas goats.  There is no stronger political force on Earth than the faithfully misguided.  Why?  Because there’s no room for discussion within their tiny, closed-minded worlds of self-righteous intolerance.  It’s difficult to stop a flock of stampeding sheep even when they’re going over a cliff to sure destruction.  Nothing will turn them back, nor will their bibles they cling to so desperately morph into a magical spiritual bumper-chute to ease their descent.  In lighter terms it’s called, “Doing the Armageddon Rag.”  The better angels of man’s nature will most certainly flee when viciously attacked and frightened by the barking of rabid dogmas.  The hounds of hell howl loudly from the pit; however, they howl even louder from a pulpit.”

* * * * * * *

Keekepata accepted Waco’s decision with more grace than he thought she might.  There was noticeable disappointment on her face, but that was allowed.  Waco didn’t comment on it.  Blue understood without much explanation at all.  He also understood that eventually, he would have greater freedom than he enjoyed at the moment.

Waco explained to Keeke there were certain celebrations where others than the Grange members would be present who wouldn’t understand aliens.  He went on to explain they had a difficult time understanding the Bigfoot or Volgorons among them, but there were massive legends about them that cushioned their limited acceptance.  When they saw how easily the Volgorons integrated with humans there was no problems.  After all, his slave Ox, was bought from a reputable slave dealer.  Once he was established as Waco’s slave the acceptance of the other Sasquatch came more easily.
Waco did set them up with a large screen digital TV to see the festivities and football game if they chose to watch.  Keeke petulantly deigned to watched because Blue was so gung-ho to watch and learn.  She unwittingly drew close to Blue as a companion from his unbridled enthusiasm and what she considered his naivete.  Then she discovered he was not so naive as she thought.  He was just supremely interested in life and everything around him.

* * * * * * *

Lazarus introduced Waco to Kyron, the Bandersnatch’s Artificial Intelligence and they hit it off right away.  Kyron was keeping his own file on Waco and shared with him and Lazarus some of his favorite moments of rodeos, birthdays, and football games Kyron thought were special and representative of Waco’s talents.  Waco was impressed.  Lazarus gave Waco free access to Kyron.  Kyron was different from Cable, David and Jonathan and the other androids on the Bandersnatch.  He had a greater developed sense of comradery with human intelligence.  It was obvious, some he liked more than others.  Waco soon learned his own natural charm and consideration would get him anything he wanted from Kyron.

“Well, buddy, I know it’s a lot to ask, but as all videos run through you for storage and accountability I was wondering if’n you might see your way clear to monitor the observational robocams and channel their feed into the closed circuit TV I set up for Keekepata and my brother Blue.”

“Done.  Be happy to, buddy.”  Kyron responded.

“Got one other small request, friend.  I wanna’ send Captain Vinceeth weekly videos about an hour in length of the highlights of my week in relationship to Keekepata’s and my brother Blue’s progress.  I’d like there to be some of my progress in the transmission as well. Don’t be afraid to include some nude shots of me and my brothers.”

“Done, friend Waco.  Do you wish to review the videos before I forward them?”

“Maybe, the first couple and one from time to time.  I’ll set up a signal.  If you see me pull my right ear with my hand you will know to consider what is to follow for possible inclusion in that week’s video.”

“Got’cha, buddy. Simple.  I can do that.  Anything else?”

“Naw, Sir, other than I appreciate your help and enthusiasm.”

“Why, thank you, Master Waco.  It’s an honor and a privilege to do these things for you.  I think you will be pleased.”

“I’m sure I will.  May I confide in you, Kyron?”

“Absolutely, young master.  I would be honored.”

“If you see me put two fingers of my right hand to my heart, then to my head, and then to my lips, it is a secret signal to Captain Vinceeth he is in my heart, my thoughts and I’m sending him my affection.  Whenever you see me do that please include it and especially if I appear nude while doing it.”    

Waco heard a decided sigh and almost what he could call a ‘giggle’ from Kyron.  Then silence for a second like he was composing himself before he spoke.

“That is so romantic, Master Waco; so thoughtful; so loving.  I understand and will be proud to include those segments.  Thank you for trusting me enough to confide in me.  It is greatly appreciated.”

“No, thank you, Kyron.”  Waco countered.

Kyron exceeded Waco’s expectations.  He reviewed the first video to be sent to the Captain and gushed over Kyron’s selection of shots and editing techniques.  Waco encouraged him to be creative and Keekepata’s dance before the Grange audience would have been the envy of the best of Hollywood film cinematographers and editors.  It was stunning and translated into a three dimensional holographic version.  Waco encouraged Kyron to send both standard and holographic video formats in a compressed file.

Waco asked for a copy to be made for his own personal file on the ship.  Kyron executed it with no problem.  Waco told Kyron he was so delighted and moved by his work he might review more videos simply for the pleasure.  Waco was serious; nevertheless, Kyron ate it up.  Waco could do no wrong.  

* * * * * * *

The birthday party came off without a hitch.  It was another laid back Saturday afternoon party and football game.  The Stamper brothers were really happy to be invited to the boy’s birthday party and Lucas received them graciously.  He and Waco made sure they had a good time and got enough to eat.  They were growing more close to the family as time went on.  Charlie and Lazarus discussed with Waco and Lucas it was only a matter of time before they had to start including the Stamper brothers in the Grange.  Lucas understood and wasn’t against them.  He just felt like their presence at the previous night’s supper was a bit premature.  Charlie and Waco agreed with him.

Coach Davis was really watching the boys closely.  Coach Baker was officiating the football game along with Coach Davis’ second man, Coach Ryan.  Coach Davis couldn’t believe the talent he was going to have in the fall.  Chet Baker told him to hold on to his hat.  He thought Waco’s relative, a first cousin, was coming to live with him and his dad.  Waco expressed concern to Lyle and Chet at supper about Blue fitting in and being accept at school.  

“You leave that to me and Lyle, Son.  Blue is yore’ first cousin from Alaska and he’s coming here to live with you and Mr. Goodnight because his parents were killed in an avalanche.  Their bodies were never recovered.”

That afternoon Chet set Coach Davis up.

“You won’t believe it, Coach, this kid looks enough like Waco to be his twin brother.  They’re almost identical.  Lyle and I couldn’t tell ‘em apart standing right next to one another.  It’s down right amazing.”

“Another Waco?” mused Coach Davis. “And he wants to play football?”

“Yes, Sir.  We met him the other night at supper and it’s all he could talk about was moving to the ranch and starting highschool with his cousin.”

The boys played their hearts out and as much as she tried to pretend not to be interested, Keekepata kept pounding Blue’s arm with excitement over the game.  Blue experienced the Sunday football games through linking with Lucas and Waco.  He knew the plays and what the game was all about.  He explained it to Keekepata as they went along and she became more animated the more she learned and watched.  She told Blue it was similar to warrior games the young Visallian men compete in only they were a lot rougher.  Blue assured her,

“Oh, this is just flag football.  There is another form of the game they play during the school year that’s as rough as any team sport you can imagine.  They physically tackle each other and fight to keep the other team from scoring.”

“You sound like you’d like to be out there with them.”  Keeke looked at Blue like she couldn’t understand.

“As soon as I can, little sister.”  he smiled at her.  He wasn’t Waco but it was darn hard for Keeke to tell the difference at that moment.  She leaned back against Blue and watched the rest of the game in silence.  Blue would yell and wave his arms about when one side made a touchdown.  

* * * * * * *

Lucas’ team won by one field goal that afternoon.  They timed it perfectly and in the final few seconds of the game, Bronc kicked the winning goal at forty yards.  Everyone went crazy and carried Bronc and Lucas off the field.  Bron was proud of his boys.  Bronc and Ts’gan were fitting in and learning more about life and living with humans than he ever thought they would.  They seemed to really be enjoying themselves.  The boys even moved out of Bron’s room into a room of their own.  They had separate beds but they still slept together most of the time.  They were growing apart from their dad.  While Bron welcomed it, it also made him a little sad.

He asked them if they ever thought about packing it in and going back to the life they had before.  The boys were quiet.  They would do what their dad wanted, but Bron didn’t push it.  He didn’t really want to return himself, but he wanted to see how they felt.  He found out when each boy came to him separately and told him they would do as he asked, but if they had their druthers they’d rather stay on the ranch.  Bron never asked again.  He realized there was more human in them than Volgoron.

* * * * * * *

After the game Waco and his men headed off to the showers in the big house.  It was tradition all Waco’s men showered together.  There wasn’t a lot of roughhousing, but there was a lot of male bonding and comradery.  Waco learned to know where his three robocams were at any given time.  A couple of the other boys could tell where theirs were, too.  Lucas, Travis, Little Bear, Bronc and Gavin could usually tell.  There was just a telltale movement in the air they became sensitive to.  Waco looked up and could see his three lined up taking holo-shots of him.  He slowly reached up with his right hand and gently tugged on his right ear.

The entire shower scene was added to the video.  As he was coming out of the shower he dropped his towel to the floor and slowly turned for the camera to pick up his whole body.  When he turned back around he took two fingers of his right hand, touched his heart, touched his head, touched his lips and pulled his fingers away like he was sending the gesture to the camera.  He smiled and winked at the camera.

After the day was over, Waco got permission from his dad to return to the ship for a while to check on Blue and Keekepata.  He told him he might be a while because he was going to review a video he needed to sent to Captain Vinceeth.  Charlie told him to go.  He was tired and he and Little Bear were going to make an early evening of it.  He might even ask Travis to join them.  

When Waco arrived at the hospital, Keeke and Blue were still watching  TV.  Blue managed to find an old college football game on and was explaining to Keeke how rough the game could be.  They stopped what they were watching to welcome him.

“You guys eat anything?”

“Yes, thanks.  We had a great meal.  Arnie brought me food from the party, and he prepared something for Keeke.  I think she liked your birthday cake.  She ate hers and half of mine.”  Blue laughed.

“I did not.  I could barely eat that huge piece Arnie brought me.  It was good though.”  she laughed at Blue.

“I need to watch my first video transmission to your Lord protector Keeke, and I didn’t wanna’ do it behind your back.  Would you and Blue watch it with me and comment?”

“Of course, Master Waco.  You may send him anything you wish.”  Keeke said humbly.

“Sure, brother, be happy to.”

Waco flipped a switch on the com unit he held.  A male face came on the screen and smiled.

“Master Waco, it’s nice to see you again.  How may I be of service this evening?”  Kyron asked.

“Hey, buddy.  Would you just happen to have the first video to Captain Vinceeth ready for transmission?” Waco knew he did.

“All ready, my friend.”

“May we review it, Kryon?”

“Of course, starting now, Master Waco.”

The video had a brief introduction recorded earlier by Waco explaining his intent and there might be a couple of personal things in the video, but the Captain would know what they were and what they meant.  The video began with Keekepata’s dance the previous evening.  She audibly gasped at the clarity and visual beauty of the video.  Kyron had done a first rate job and even Keeke was visually stunned.  Blue was no less impressed, and it was difficult for Waco to keep his composure.

They watched most of the football game again and ended with Waco exposing himself to the camera.  Keeke giggled and Blue gently socked his twin in the arm with his closed fist as a sign of comradery like he was saying, “You dog!”  Blue knew what the content of Waco’s gesture implied.  It wasn’t lost on Keeke either.

“Well, done, Master Waco.  I can’t find fault with the video.  It will be greatly appreciated by my Lord protector.”

“I agree with our little sister, brother.  Captain Vinceeth should be very pleased.  I know I was.”  Blue giggled.

“May I add my approval, Master Waco.” Kyron returned to the screen.

“Well, I think it’s pretty damn fine.  Thank you, Kyron, for the excellent quality and editing.  Please, you have my permission to send it.”

And it was done.

* * * * * * *

“Captain!  Captain Vinceeth!” one of the Captain’s yoemen named Ranney said breathlessly as he almost tripped and fell in the doorway.

“What is it, yoeman?  What would cause you to lose your bearing, Son?”  he spoke with the reproving voice of authority.

“Sorry, Captain.  You’re right, Sir.  I deserve that rebuke.  It’s just I was excited for you, Sir.  We’ve just received a sub-space transmission from the third planet in the Sol system.  I believe it’s from her highness Keekepata’s new Lord protector.”

“Well, then, you’re excitement is excused, yoeman.  Gather the men and we’ll watch it together.”

“I’m told there is a couple of personal moments in the transmission, Sire.”

“I’m sure the men won’t be put off by a personal message.”

“Perhaps not, Sir, but you might wish to save the nature of the message for yourself.”

“Nonsense, yoeman.  We will all watch together.  The men need a good distraction.”

“Yes, Captain.  We have it set up in the ship’s auditorium, Sir.”

“Good, yoeman.  Lead the way.”

Captain Hogarth Treygor Vinceeth watched the video with his men in the holographic form.  He was impressed it was sent in both formats so he could later download it to his personal computer if he chose to.  There was much applause at first from the men to see their princess in such good shape dancing one of the native dances of their culture.  Then their sense of joy turned into fierce pride and melancholy as Keeke came to the end of her perfect performance.  They all stood with tears in their eyes and cheered.  The Captain ordered the video stopped for a few minutes while they quieted down.  He didn’t rebuke their enthusiasm, but he did make a brief statement.

“I hope this video of our royal highness will put to rest any doubts you might have about how well our beloved princess is being taken care of.  I have full trust and faith in Captain Waco.  This video is a testament to his and his people’s care of our princess.  In less than a month she has been healed and regained her strength enough to give a flawless performance of one of the most difficult of our native dances, the Bolodero.”

The Captain ordered the video started up again and they got into the football game.  The men went crazy when they realized the game was similar to one of theirs.  Scraps and Happy were acting like cheerleaders running up and down the sidelines barking like crazy.  The Captain explained they were the creatures who saved the life of their princess.  It made them even more important to the men.  They were curious why the coaches would speak to Scraps and he would run into the huddle where the men who had the ball would plan their next play.

“He talks, like you and I.  Captain Waco sent me a note,  he carries the plays from the coaches to the Captain of the team.”

The greatest puzzle to the warriors was the men of both teams running to the sidelines to pet the huge four legged creature.  It  was a mystery to them.  They’d never seen a horse before.  They were totally agog over Ranger.  They asked the Captain to see what he could find out about the impressive critter.  They also wanted to know about the four beautiful critters with the brightly colored tails who watched the game from the back of the big creature.

Halfway though the game, there was a lot of money being bet on the outcome.  More men were betting on Captain Waco while the older more astute members of the guard saw something in the quarterback of the other team, the young human they called Lucas, and bet heavily on him.  The old guard knew they’d won after the field goal attempt was good.

The game was a wonderful distraction for the men but the icing on the cake was the final scene of Waco’s men in the shower.  Nothing was left to the imagination and the men went crazy whooping, applauding and stomping their boots.  Then the final scene when Waco did his personal message to the Captain without saying a word, dropped his towel, slowly turned around, then smiled and winked into the camera.  Trey Vinceeth felt his male pride swell in its protective carapace and made a mental note to download the shower scene to his personal computer for closer inspection as soon as he returned to his stateroom.   

There was no doubt in any man’s mind what the message meant and who it was intended for.  They went crazy again.  Captain Vinceeth got a smug smile on his handsome face few of his men had ever seen before.  He simply bowed to his men and left the auditorium without a word.  No words were necessary.  Young Captain Waco had just made Captain Vinceeth a hero to his own men.  They applauded and cheered for him as he left.  They were happy for him.  He had been through a lot in the past several years, and even though it wasn’t his fault, losing the princess had caused him a great deal of distress.  

Captain Vinceeth was known to be the hardest man in the Visallian fleet to work for, but he was also known as a fair man with a sense of humor and compassion.  Men fought for the honor to be counted among his crew.  When you were a member of Captain Vinceeth’s crew, you were more than just a warrior, you were family.  It was generally acknowledged Hogarth Treygor Vinceeth, or Trey as he was known to his imtimate friends, was the best the Visallian military had to offer.  Captain Waco Goodnight couldn’t have agreed more.

End Chapter 26 ~ Waco’s Lummox
Copyright 2007 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All Rights Reserved ~
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