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    David McLeod
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

0300 Book 3 - 2. Chapter 2: Cuddle Time Question

The night after Maudi’s rescue was one of the rare ones: both Danny and George were off duty. We had eaten supper together in the Flag Mess, and were cuddled on the couch in my quarters pointedly not watching some banal entertainment on a commercial television channel.

Chapter 2: Cuddle Time Question

2009-01-07

The night after Maudi’s rescue was one of the rare ones: both Danny and George were off duty. We had eaten supper together in the Flag Mess, and were cuddled on the couch in my quarters pointedly not watching some banal entertainment on a commercial television channel.

“Daddy?” Danny said. I still got an electric feeling in my heart when he or George or Artie called me Daddy—even though sometimes what followed wasn’t a daddy thing. It wasn’t this time.

“Daddy, why haven’t we found more metas in Mujahedeen territory? In Italy or the other religious territories? In France? Why haven’t we looked?”

I knew the answer instantly. It was hard to say, especially to my boys. “Because no one—meaning me—thought of it. I’ve screwed up, again,” I said.

Our cuddles got a lot closer as Danny and George tried to comfort me.

“It’s not your fault!” George asserted. “You’ve got so many things to think about!”

 

Jonathan had once asked me what Danny and George and I did when the three of us slept together. I had managed to answer him without providing details. Mostly, we cuddled, with Danny in the middle. Tonight was an exception. After Maudi’s kidnapping, both Danny and I wanted to comfort George and assure him that we loved him. Danny and George wanted to comfort me because they thought I felt bad about not looking for metas in religious territories. George and I wanted to comfort Danny because . . . because we loved him. Conundrum? Not really. Danny and I held George between us, cuddled him, and then made him the enthusiastic source and receptacle for our love.

 

The next day we began clandestine night flights over Mujahedeen territory, Italy, France, and the parts of the Balkans where the Eastern Orthodox Church ruled. Cam was the most sensitive telepath among the Geeks, but he was also a critical member of the intel team. Still, once he understood the mission, he insisted on participating. George had been the one to discover Maudi. George, too, was already overworked, but delegated opsec completely to Casey, who was heading the Operations Team, and reluctantly agreed to bring on Tyler, a new GWG, as his deputy on my security team.

“No sleeping with Tyler,” George warned me. “He’s . . . ”

I laughed, and George knew I wasn’t laughing at him. “George,” I said. “You and Danny are my boyfriends.

“I know that love shared is love enlarged, and I know that you’ve had sex with most of the GWGs. I also know that Commodores shouldn’t sleep with Cadets. Now, don’t teach your daddy to suck eggs, okay?”

George had no idea what I meant, which was fine with me. Although it left me with the real conundrum: All the GWGs were polyamorous. They all had steady boyfriends, but they all loved each other, and had sex with each other—or cuddled the younger ones. And they all had made it clear that they wanted to have sex with me, too.

I had put off Jonathan, and helped him find Avery as his best-boyfriend. I tried to make it clear that while I loved him and the others, I only had sex with my two sons, Danny and George. I didn’t know what else I could do, and hoped that this wouldn’t become a problem.

 

Cam was the first to understand why we didn’t find any more metas than Maudi in any of the territory ruled by the religious. The metas plus Artie, Corey, and Corey’s boyfriend, Alan were gathered in my ready room, sprawled on the furniture or cuddled on the floor for one of our metas and family only meetings, when Cam explained.

“In Italy and the Balkans, the Catholic Inquisition was burning witches as late as 1890,” he said. “We know from what Maudi said that the Mujahedeen are still burning or stoning to death people they believe to be possessed—that is, anyone who displays any hint of meta abilities.”

“What does this mean?” Concho, one of the youngsters, asked. Actually, what he said was, “Whadda you mean?” I remembered he was from Long Island, New York.

“They’ve systematically removed the meta genes from their gene pool,” Cam said. “And, we’ll probably see that in the fundamentalist universe, as well.”

“But Artie, he’s kind of telepathic,” protested Tyler, who was at that moment cuddled with Artie.

Will took that thought. “Artie is becoming stronger as a telepath, but he’s not a meta. Just like Corey’s telepathic people aren’t metas. We’ve sequenced our genome and those of some of Corey’s people, and we still don’t know what gene or combination of genes makes us metas or makes them telepaths. We don’t even know what it is about our brains that makes us metas. In fact, we don’t even know if it’s all in our brains.

“Artie, may I sequence your DNA?” Will asked. “It may give us a clue.”

“Will, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Artie said. “But I trust you to do what is right. Sure. Um, what do I have to do?”

Will laughed, and sent a warm hug to Artie’s mind as he did so. “I’ll just swab the inside of your cheek with a Q-tip,” he said. “That will scrape off enough cells for the sequencer.

“And,” he added, “if you want, I’ll walk you through the process.”

“You know, there is a way to get a genetic sample that’s a lot more fun,” Tyler said. Then he giggled.

“Shows what you know,” Will said. “Sperm is only half the story.”

Artie looked from one boy to another, caught on to what was meant, and blushed.

“On the other hand, so far the only metas we’ve found have been male. Maybe—”

“What about the French? Why didn’t we find any metas there?” Alex asked.

“You might think that with a small, and restricted gene pool, the French would create more mutations than normal,” Will said. “But apparently it’s the robust gene pool in which we were created that was the source of whatever the meta genes are. I think it may be the so-called junk-DNA that is the source of our differences, but I really need to think more about it.”

“I think that if Paul hadn’t found us and rescued us, our genes would have been lost to the gene pool. We’d likely be dead,” Cam said.

“What?”

“Why?”

“Every one of us was clinically depressed at first,” Cam said. “With few exceptions, none of us had had human interactions, and the interactions any of us had were shallow and short-term. Most of us had never been hugged by our parents. My feeling is that if we could examine teen and pre-teen suicides, from perhaps 1990 through the start of the Meta Recruiting Teams, we’d find that some of them were metas who didn’t get reached in time.”

All the boys and I were quiet for a long time, thinking of lost brothers we’d never met.

“That will never be allowed to happen again,” I said, putting voice to everyone’s thoughts.

“Fleet has given us a mission: to protect Earth from whatever is beyond the rift to the Fundamentalists’ Universe. Finding and rescuing metas in both universes is an essential part of that. We’re not going to lose a single one of our brothers.”

I was bombarded with feelings of determination from all the boys.

 

“Our genes are going to be lost, anyway. At least, so far, we’re all gay.”

“No reason we can’t be sperm donors.”

“As long as the recipients know what they’re getting,” I said, bringing that particular discussion to a close.

 

Artie’s genome didn’t help, but it did provide additional data points. Some day, when this war was won, we might be able to do something with the data. Right now, however, we were overwhelmed with operations.

 

2001-01-12 USF Charleston
Intel Teams Reports on Reverends,
Pan-Asian, and Mujahedeen

 

The Charleston had already collected some sigint and imint on the portions of the Reverends’ world thought to be Pan-Asian and Mujahedeen territories. There was, however, a great deal more that we needed to know about them.

I didn’t have enough Geeks to go around, and reserved them for tasks only they could accomplish such as the Press Gangs, and for membership in the Flag Intel Team. On the other hand, I had over 22,500 of the best and brightest of Earth under my command, and an ally in Tobor, the Fleet mainframe. With his help, it wasn’t hard to put together two additional teams. One would focus on the Pan-Asians and one on the Mujahedeen of the Reverends’ Universe. When they and the Flag Intel Team were ready, we held a briefing to be broadcast to all ships in the task force. I wanted everyone to know what we might encounter, and asked that the teams classify the briefings no higher than Secret. The teams filled the auditorium of the Charleston.

Since the briefing was being carried electronically, and the veil didn’t work through television, I appointed one of the adults to present the Flag Intel Team’s briefing on the Reverends.

And I? I could stand up in front of an auditorium full of people and they’d see me as a 40-something commodore. But the television audience? No way. Tobor came up with the solution.

“Invite the Captains of your task force to take the briefing with you in the Flag Conference Room. Entertain them, there—coffee and donuts, and lunch. After the briefing is over, you can address the crowd in the auditorium and the task force by TV. I will ensure the picture matches the physical description you project.

 

The first briefer would be Commander Fitzgerald, the senior adult on the Flag Intel Team. He was an experienced intelligence officer who had turned down promotion to captain in order—as he put it— to remain in the trenches where the real work was done. Fleet was good about allowing that: it was never held against anyone—seaman, marine, chief, or officer, and the pay scale, for those who worried about that sort of thing, accommodated it. So did the honors and respect that accrued from expertise and hard work.

“The group we call Reverends controls most of the former United States of America, Canada, and probably Mexico—except for the Pacific coast from Baja through Alaska. They suspended the Constitution of the United States some 50 years ago and established a theocracy led by someone called the Scudder, after two presidents of that name.

“There are analogues in their world not only of some cities such as Las Vegas, but also of natural features and a few man-made structures, including the Hoover Dam and Lake Meade. The Reverends’ economy is, however, largely agrarian, and their level of science and technology is somewhat less than where our world was at the beginning of the Franco-German War of the early 20th Century. The most sophisticated weapons we have seen are battle tanks that resemble those used in the latter days of that war. They have no commercial aircraft, and the few aircraft we have seen are similar to those used in the Franco-German war—cloth-covered, open cockpit, and with petroleum-fueled internal combustion engines.

“There are no hydro dams on the Columbia or Tennessee Rivers, nor in Quebec, three of the densest such developments in the North America of our world before the advent of solar power satellites.

“We have detected no radio transmissions, either AM or FM, whether in broadcast or short-wave bands. There is a system of microwave towers linking cities and towns, and a television transmission tower in each city and town.

“The largest cities we’ve seen in the North American continent are Chicago, Buffalo, Albany, New York, and Miami. The Erie Canal is operational and frequently used. Barges on the canal are towed by mules. There is no highway system. All long-distance transportation save the Erie Canal is by rail.

“California, which we believe includes the entire west coast of the USA, is believed to be independent of the Reverends. We have not yet examined Central or South America, or Europe.

“May I address your questions?” he concluded.

“What about the Reverends’ Army?” a Lieutenant Colonel of Marines asked.

Commander Fitzgerald shook his head. “Little more than we all saw on the video we captured from the battle on New Year’s Eve: the tanks, as I’ve described, semi-automatic rifles, and some electro-shock weapons not unlike the tasers used by some of Earth’s police forces.”

“Any idea about the size of their armed forces,” the marine pressed.

“We’re identifying what appear to be military bases, and are beginning a count of aircraft, people, and vehicles, but there’s a lot of work yet to be done. Perhaps in ten days—perhaps in two weeks.”

A Lt. Commander who wore the insignia of the Sea Bees—the traditional nickname for Fleet’s construction battalions and engineers—looked up from his iPad. “Sir, You said their technology was about the level of ours before the Franco-German War. But you also said Hoover Dam. The images show hydroelectric generation, there. Do you have any idea why that apparent disconnect?”

Commander Fitzgerald looked startled. “That slipped by us, completely. Thank you. We’ll have an answer as soon as we figure it out.”

He looked around the auditorium. There were no other questions.

“Gentlemen, it’s nearly noon, and I have found the Charleston’s mess stewards to be among the finest in Fleet. We will re-convene in at 1330 hours.”

 

“Gentlemen,” I stood and addressed the assembled captains of the Task Force, including Lieutenant Jeff Evans, Captain of the Hope, who accepted his status among this elite company with remarkable aplomb. I knew it had been a good decision to appoint him to that position. “As an intelligence officer, Commander Fitzgerald is trained always to insert a little uncertainty into anything he says. I, on the other hand, know that the stewards of the Flag Mess are the finest in Fleet.”

 

The stewards seated us at a round table, not unlike the mythical version around which King Arthur’s knights had gathered. There were twelve at the table, and seating was by seniority. Captain Moultrie of the Charleston was on my right; Captain Fairburn of the Honolulu was on my left. As the most junior captain, Lt. Evans was directly across from me. I managed to catch his eye and wink at him, which brought a little color to his cheeks.

Actually, I was a little bit nonplussed by the company I kept. These men were, for the most part, thirty or more years older than I was, and considerably more experienced in every aspect of command.

I scanned the table, and realized that I was the only one wearing a battle ribbon. Is battle so rare? I wondered.

The table was not so large that conversation was stifled, and these men were not reluctant to ask questions. The first one came from one of the destroyer captains.

“Sir, do you have any idea how long this assignment will last?” he asked.

I heard the unspoken part of the question: There are men on the Kyoto who were scheduled for leave or R&R a couple of weeks ago; when can I offer that?

“Excellent question, Captain. Thank you for asking it,” I said. “We will learn more this afternoon about the capabilities of the other two powers on the Reverend’s world: their version of the Mujahedeen, and the members of a Pan-Asian hegemony. We likely will remain on station at least long enough to be sure that no one from that world can lob a thermonuclear weapon—or anything else—through the rift.”

Then, I dropped my own bomb. “We may remain longer, depending on whether Fleet decides to bring war to this universe.”

There was a brief babble of talk, interrupted by Captain Moultrie.

“I was surprised, too, when Commodore Stewart suggested that option,” he said. “However, when you learn more about this universe, I think you will understand.”

“Gentlemen,” I said, “until we know the will of Fleet, I suggest you plan to remain here for the duration. You should begin normal rotation of your men for leave and R&R immediately, maintaining about an 85% complement.”

“What can you tell us about this rift?” Captain Lowry of the USF Buckley asked.

“That is perhaps the hardest question to answer,” I said. “And one which will not be addressed, today.

“You probably know that the Fleet’s CERN-Higgs collider facility has been forcing sub-atomic particles to combine in ways that would make even the old Hindu gods blush.”

That got a chuckle.

“Their most recent experiments suggest that they can open a portal, a rift, between the multiple universes that are suggested by Feynman’s quantum electrodynamic theory. It appears that someone got there, first.

“We’ve had a science ship with people from CERN-Higgs on station for a couple of weeks, now, but they are apparently as mystified as we are. It’s clear that a rift has opened, and remains open, between our universe and the Reverends’ universe. It’s clear that there was a rift between the Reverend’s universe and a third universe—the one the boys from Clan Long came through to rescue the kids from the Battle of Los Vegas. It’s clear that the second rift has closed, and that the boys from the Long universe are trapped here.”

 

It was nearly 1330 when the Chief Mess Steward interrupted our discussions, and we barely made it back to the Flag Conference Room in time for the beginning of the afternoon session. The head of the Mujahedeen team led off.

 

“Sir, it is a stereotype of our universe that the Mujahedeen are primitive. That word has some unfortunate connotations. After all, we considered the Amish primitive because they plowed with horses and refused to allow mechanized tractors on their land—until someone discovered they were getting almost as much from an acre as were the agribusinesses’ intensive farming methods, and with both considerably less damage to the environment and considerably greater sustainability.

“We consider the Mujahedeen of the Fundamentalist Universe to be not primitive, but traditionalists. Their civilization is tied together by trade routes on which transport is by camel. Their largest population centers are a few towns near seacoasts and rivers. The buildings are largely mud-brick.

“Their territory is the Middle East including Greece and Turkey, the underbelly of Russia, and northern Africa.

“Some agriculture is supported by irrigation, especially in the Tigris-Euphrates region and along the Nile. Many of the people are herders, moving flocks of sheep and goats from oasis to oasis, and grazing on tough desert grasses in between.

“We have detected no radio frequency communication except television signals in the larger towns. The programming is almost exclusively recitation from the Quran and calls to prayers. There have been, to date, three broadcasts of a punishment by stoning or immolation for violation of Sharia—that is to say, religious—Law. That is significantly fewer than similar broadcasts by the Reverends.

“We have found no technology that could constitute a threat to our universe, although we will continue to search.”

 

There were only a few questions for the Mujahedeen team. The most important ones boiled down to “what about the rest of Africa? Australia? Europe?”

The answer was, “We’re still looking.” The answer was accepted with equanimity. Everyone seemed to understand we were trying to create an encyclopedia describing an entire world, something that wasn’t going to be done in just a few weeks.

 

Commander Fitzgerald then introduced the chief of the Pan-Asian Team.

 

“The Pan-Asians are considerably advanced in their technology compared to the Reverends and the Mujahedeen. We believe it is the Pan-Asians who supply the Reverends with aircraft, tanks, electro-shock weapons, and probably their televisor transmitters and receivers, as well as their microwave system.

“Nor do the Pan-Asians sell the Reverends top-of-the line arms or equipment.

“We assess the Pan-Asian Hegemony’s technology to be on a par with that of Fleet in the mid-1920s: they have sub-sonic jet aircraft—equivalent to the F-86 and the B-707, extensive radio frequency communication nets, and a steam powered navy which includes two aircraft carriers. They have radar, but it is fairly primitive and could easily be jammed should we need to do that.

“Their government is classical Marxist socialism—although we do not know if Marx existed or published in this universe. Their territory, which includes Japan, Korea, Indo China, China, India, and most of Asia east of the Urals, save the underbelly of Russia, which is Mujahedeen territory, is connected by an extensive rail network. Their primary sources of power are oil, coal, and natural gas, which they have in abundance.

“Their industrial cities are largely toxic slag pits, and they seem to have no concept of environmental consciousness or sustainability.

“We have seen a launch complex that suggests they are developing a space program, but we have detected no satellites save ours currently orbiting their world.

“We are focusing intensively on this area and hope to have a better estimate of their capabilities, soon.”

“When might they be able to reach the rift?” one of the destroyer captains asked.

“The apogee of the first satellite we launched, in 1940, was less than 600 miles. It weighed 180 pounds—about the weight of a crude nuclear device. We judge the state of their program to be consistent with that. Their capability to boost a satellite—or a weapon—to the 250,000-mile altitude of the rift is judged to be extremely low. Further, we consider the possibility of their detecting the rift to be even lower.”

“Why is that?”

“The rift is lenticular, about two miles along its wider axis, and about three-quarters of a mile along its narrower axis. It is also roughly perpendicular to the surface of their earth—nearly invisible.”

“Have you seen anything that suggests an atomic technology?” Captain Fairburn of the Honolulu asked.

“No, sir. However, we’ve not yet examined their entire power grid. There is nothing in the atmosphere that suggests nuclear weapon testing has occurred.”

 

I was expected to give some sort of wrap-up. Tobor sent me an all clear signal, the system light of the camera in the conference room came on after I stood behind the lectern. I know that Tobor would zoom into my face, making the deception easier.

“Outstanding work on the part of everyone. You are trying to create an Encyclopedia Solaris for an entirely new world. It’s taken Fleet 60-plus years to get us where we are in understanding our own solar system, and there are still parts of our Earth and many parts of our solar system that are unexplored.

“Let no one overlook the magnitude of your task, and let no one become disheartened by its enormity.

“It appears that the technical capabilities of the Pan-Asians presents the greatest immediate threat, and further understanding should be our highest priority. On the other hand, we were brought here because of a battle fought between children and forces that can only be described as evil—by whatever standard you wish to apply.

“There are 686 boys from that world who survived the battle which brought them here. Some are still recovering aboard the USF Hope. Others are seated with you, today. It is their future that drives me and I hope will drive you.”

I thought it was a pretty good speech.

 

Jeff Evans was waiting in my Ready Room after the other captains had left. He was one of the first non-Geeks I had trusted sufficiently to appoint to an important position. I knew that whatever he had to say would be worth hearing.

“Jeff? You have something important to say, I think,” I said.

“Yes, sir,” he said. “And something . . . something really strange. Sir, I appreciate your naming me to command the Hope, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job. But there’s something wrong. There’s something wrong and I’m afraid.”

I sat behind my desk and gestured for him to sit in the couch opposite, hoping the physical separation would give him some feeling of protection, of confidence. It worked.

“Sir, who are you, really?” he asked. I felt his fear, but I also felt determination.

I believed he deserved honesty, and I believed he could be trusted with the truth. I pushed him so that he saw me as I was. He didn’t appear surprised; I guessed then that he’d already penetrated the veil.

“Jeff, I am what you see—a young man, younger than you are, actually—who has been put in a position of great trust and great power.”

“You’re not from that world, are you?” I knew what he meant.

“No, Jeff, I’m from your world. I really was born in Texas. I really did attend Fleet schools.” I’d seen his questions, and thought to answer them that way. It didn’t work. He was still puzzled.

“Jeff, for the moment, please accept that what you see is real, and that what I tell you is the truth. When you return to the Hope, call Admiral Davis on a secure link—he’ll take your call. Ask him if what I say is true. Will you do that?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And will you keep what I’m about to tell you a secret if you are satisfied by what Admiral Davis says?”

He had to think about that for a moment, but agreed. So I told him about the metas.

“Nova sol,” he whispered when I paused. “You, and Danny and George? Avery and Jonathan? You stole them from me. How many others?”

“Jeff, I will confirm your guesses. Yes, Danny, George, Avery, and Jonathan are metas. But I haven’t given even Admiral Davis the complete list. That is to protect both them and him—and you. Some are still children, and deserve that protection.”

Jeff thought before nodding his understanding. “Thank you sir, for your trust. I, uh, I don’t think I’ll need to call the Admiral.”

“Thank you, Jeff, and thank you for your trust.”

 

Artie was next into my Ready Room. He was followed by Danny and George. I got hugs from Danny and George, and then from Artie. He squeezed me tightly, and I felt him crying.

“Artie?” That was all I said. I couldn’t tell if he were sad or if his tears were happy ones.

“You said . . . you said it was us . . . it was our future . . . just like when you promised . . . ”

I knew what he meant. Shortly after we had first met, I promised Artie that I would do everything I could to help him get home and, if possible, carry on his war with the Reverends. He was telling me that I had renewed that promise today.

I returned his hug, tightly. Then, as if they’d rehearsed it, Danny and George left, and Artie kissed me. It started as a daddy kiss, but quickly became impassioned.

It’s time, Daddy. That was Danny.

Past time, Daddy. That was George.

Yeah, he’s not a cadet; he’s a colonel. And he’s our brother! That was Danny and George.

“Daddy?” That was Artie.

What about Tyler? I thought before remembering his age.

I shrugged my shoulders and yielded.

 

Sex with Artie was intense. He’d been forced into unwanted sex with unprincipled men who had used his body as an object, a thing to be penetrated, hurt, debased. He had wanted so badly to find someone to love, someone to share. I saw, but only briefly, an image of a boy whom Artie loved but who had been left behind when Artie went to war. I saw, but only briefly, happy and loving sex with George, with Danny, with George and Danny . . . Okay, TMI and probably not something that should be recorded in this journal.

Copyright © 2014 David McLeod; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Gay males so far, are the metas doomed as separate species? Judging by the numbers, a meta and a normal female coupling is no guarantee of a meta offspring. They have so much more info that they need to know, before any actions can be taken on the planet. Jeff is but the first, how long until the truth comes out.? Great chapter, thank you.

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