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There are still unanswered questions, but, once they are posted, read the following for more answers.
Unlike the last time it happened, this time Vincent knew exactly where he was when he opened his eyes.
The only thing that surprised him was that he was alone.
He had fallen asleep with Lehman and Lindon on either side of him. He half expected that he would be visiting the dream realm in his sleep, but he had assumed that all three of them would arrive together.
As Vincent got to his feet, he looked around and recognized the Mountains of Despair.
Vincent looked down at himself and noticed that he was wearing his Starfleet uniform.
As he was considering whether he should start walking toward the Core or the Realm of Blades, he noticed that one region of the Mountains of Despair was beginning to churn.
Vincent took in a deep breath to brace himself, then began walking toward the disturbance.
"Just hang in there, whoever you are." Vincent said with determination as he saw the mountains building faster.
* * * * *
After making his way across uneven ground that seemed determined to slow him down, Vincent finally reached his objective.
As Vincent approached the lone figure standing on the edge of a cliff, he smiled with recognition.
"How are you doing, Vince?" Vincent asked in a cheerful voice.
"Don't call me that." The boy snapped.
Vincent looked into the eyes of this duplicate of himself and realized that this wasn't the alternate version of himself that he had met in the realm last time. And from the harsh tone, it certainly wasn't the happy and carefree 'Vinny' he had met while traveling with Dr. Xon. This boy who looked just like him wasn't someone he had met before.
"What do you want me to call you?" Vincent asked cautiously.
"My name is Thomas." The boy said as he looked at Vincent carefully.
"Oh, yeah. I should have guessed that. Thomas is my middle name." Vincent said slowly, not wanting to provoke the boy.
"Mine too. I just hate my first name. It's so geeky that I don't use it. So who are you?" Thomas asked cautiously.
Thomas gave a chuckle and sarcastically said, "Oh? Nice name."
Vincent smiled at the statement, fairly sure Thomas' first name was also Vincent.
Well, if you're me, I guess that would mean that this is some kind of messed up dream. So what are you? The person I might have been?"
"No, I'm a real person... what do you know about alternate realities?" Vincent asked cautiously.
"Nothing. I don't really know much about sci-fi stuff. Dad says that I need to keep my head out of the clouds and my feet on the ground."
Vincent chuckled and said, "From your point of view we're probably so far beyond sci-fi that there isn't a word for it."
"Okay, just what the hell are you talking about?" Thomas asked in a low, dangerous tone of voice.
Vincent thought for a moment, then slowly said, "You went to sleep in your universe. I went to sleep in my universe. Both of us woke up in this dream dimension that's somewhere in between. I guess maybe it's like you said, and I am the person you could have been if your life had been different. And if that's true, then you're the person that I would have been if my life was like yours."
"Oh, I get it now. What you're really saying is that you're the person I would have been if I was nuts." Thomas said with a challenging look.
Vincent chuckled and said, "Yeah. I guess you can look at it that way if you want."
Thomas nodded, then turned away and looked over the edge of the cliff again.
"The last time I met someone like me from another universe in here, we talked about the stuff that was bothering him and... well, I'm pretty sure it helped. If you wanted, we could do that for you. " Vincent offered cautiously.
Thomas started to chuckle as he continued to face away.
Vincent waited silently, not understanding the strange reaction.
When the chuckles seemed to have gone on too long, Vincent took a step closer and realized that Thomas was sobbing.
"What's wrong? Maybe it's something I can help with." Vincent said gently, not wanting to spook the boy who looked so much like him, yet behaved so differently.
"What's wrong? What's not wrong?" Thomas responded bitterly as he spun on his heel.
"Come on. Talk to me." Vincent said as he raised his hands, trying to appear as non-threatening as possible.
"I'm dying." Thomas said in a hollow voice that sent a chill up Vincent's spine.
"From what?" Vincent asked quietly.
"From what? From the fallout! God! Are you telling me that you don't even know about the nuclear bombs that were dropped?" Thomas asked in a voice that was quickly becoming a scream.
Vincent shrank back a little from the volume, then quietly said, "That didn't happen in my universe."
Thomas stared at Vincent in wonder for a moment, then shook his head and absently said, "This is just a dream... A crazy, fucked up dream caused by the radiation."
"Thomas, this *is* a dream, but it's not your dream or my dream. It's a dream place that exists outside either one of our universes." Vincent said carefully then noticed the disbelieving expression on Thomas' face.
"Okay, it doesn't matter where we are or why we're here. We *are* here. So why don't you tell me what happened?" Vincent asked carefully, not wanting to provoke the boy again.
Thomas stared at Vincent blankly for a moment, then seemed to come to a decision.
"About a month ago the bombs dropped. The radio told about a hundred different stories about who started it and how everything went. But... I guess at this point it doesn't matter. My whole life it seems like all we've done is prepare for the day that someone finally launched the bombs." Thomas said, then gave a weary chuckle.
"And it was all for nothing. For the first few weeks we were living in our bomb shelters thinking how much better off we were than the people who weren't prepared. Then... well, I think Mom was the first to get sick, but I didn't notice right away because she worked really hard not to show it. Dad said one of the cans of food probably lost it's seal and that she'd be fine but..."
"Somehow the radiation got to us. Not just my family, but just about everyone. At least that's how it sounded on the radio. Those of us who thought we were prepared and did all the things just the way we were supposed to, were still poisoned by the fallout. Everything we did to try to protect ourselves wasn't enough... It would have been better if we had died in the first strike." Thomas said as he suddenly looked tired.
"Who were you fighting?" Vincent asked cautiously, just wanting to know for conversation's sake.
"You've got to be kidding me! The Soviets..." Thomas said, then noticed the uncomprehending look on Vincent's face.
"The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics?" Thomas said slowly, as if speaking to a particularly dim-witted child.
"Oh... Yeah. I know who that is. In my world we're just kind of all on the same side now." Vincent said slowly.
"So in your world the United States won?" Thomas asked with interest.
"No... well, yes. Sort of. From the way it looks to me, the only real way to win in a situation like this is to decide not to go to war. In my world all the countries got past their differences and live together now." Vincent said cautiously.
Thomas stared at Vincent with wonder. From the expression on his face, he had never even considered such a thing.
"You already said that you're dying... But how bad is it?" Vincent asked cautiously.
Thomas looked down at his arms, then up at Vincent and said, "This is the way I used to look... you know... before. If you saw me now, I mean, saw the real me. You wouldn't even know who I was."
"How bad?" Vincent asked in a whisper.
"I'm past the point where anything can be done for me. I'm pretty much covered with the radiation burns now and most of my hair is already gone, and I'm going blind." Thomas said as tears started streaking down his cheeks.
"I'm sorry." Vincent said as he walked to Thomas' side.
"I don't want to die." Thomas said in a whisper as he turned to face Vincent fully.
Vincent chewed on his lower lip as he considered what he might be able to do.
Even if Vincent ignored the impossible task of getting to Thomas' world to rescue him, given the symptoms that Thomas described, even Federation doctors might not be able to help him.
"Will you tell me about your world?" Thomas asked quietly.
Vincent was trying to hold back his tears as he struggled to meet Thomas' eyes.
"If something really does survive after we die, I think I'd like to have a happy memory to take with me into the afterlife. I really don't have any of my own, but if you told me about your life, about living in a world without war... maybe that would be almost as good." Thomas said hopefully.
Vincent turned away and looked off into the distance as he considered what he could possibly do to help.
A crystalline sparkle on the horizon caught Vincent's eye and he froze as a flash of inspiration came over him.
"There may be something I can do to help you." Vincent said with excitement.
"What?" Thomas said with confusion.
"Come on, I need to take you over there, to the Core. We've got to talk to Brakkii." Vincent said in a rush.
"Who?" Thomas asked as Vincent took hold of his arm and urged him to start walking.
"Okay, I'm not, like, one hundred percent, for sure that this will work. But... Brakkii is a multi-dimensional being. He can slip into and out of a universe whenever he wants to. So I'm thinking, that since he can do that, maybe if we ask him, he can follow your dream self back to your real self and bring you here." Vincent said hopefully.
"What good will that do?" Thomas asked, fighting down the desire to hope.
"This dream universe doesn't follow the same rules as the universes you and I come from. Like I said, I can't be sure, but it's possible that if your real live body was brought here, that you would stop getting sicker and there might even be a way to make you better." Vincent said with excitement as he urged Thomas to walk faster.
"Do you really think so?" Thomas asked reluctantly.
"Yeah. I really do. But I think we need to hurry." Vincent said in a rush.
"Why?" Thomas asked as he finally gave in and started to run at Vincent's side.
"Because I'm on a starship heading toward Earth right now. If it works the same as last time, I will only be here for as long as I'm asleep. Time moves at the same rate in both places. That means that I have to get this all taken care of before I wake up." Vincent said in a rush.
"Starship?" Thomas asked as he struggled to keep up with Vincent.
"Yeah. It's a really long story and I know we don't have that much time. But if we can get this to work, maybe I can come back next time I sleep and talk to you about it some more." Vincent said hopefully.
"Yeah. I'd like to hear about that... you're on a ship that sails among the stars." Thomas said in boyish wonder.
Vincent chuckled and said, "That's just the beginning. You wouldn't even believe everything that's happened to me in the past month... I still have a little trouble believing it."
"I'd love to hear all about it." Thomas said with a smile.
Vincent noticed Thomas' look of genuine interest and said, "I hope that I'll have the chance to tell you all about everything."
* * * * *
"LET ME IN!" Vincent screamed as he pounded on the door.
"State your business." The furry faced man said firmly from a small window by the door.
"I need to see the queen and it's kind of an emergency." Vincent said seriously.
"If you will write out your petition, it will be presented to the queen's advisers and if they deem it worthy of her attention, you will be granted audience." The furry faced man explained calmly.
"BRAKKII! Get your multi-dimensional butt out here RIGHT NOW!" Vincent screamed into the air.
"That will certainly do nothing to..." The furry faced man began to say, then froze as his gaze looked past Vincent.
Thomas turned at the sound and was surprised at what he saw. From Vincent's description of Brakkii, he thought he would be looking at some weird alien monster. But what he saw before him was a very average looking fourteen year old boy with straight brown hair.
"Brakkii! I need your help. This is Thomas. He's dying. But I was thinking that if you could do your multi-dimensional thingie and go and get his body and bring it back here, maybe him being here would keep him from getting sicker and maybe you could even find some way to save him." Vincent said in one verbal burst.
Then turned and said, "It's a pleasure to meet you Thomas."
"Yeah. Thanks... It's nice to meet you too." Thomas said as he tried to reign in his laughter at Brakkii's expression.
"By the way Vincent. I never did properly thank you for making me 'Queen'... I will find a way to repay you... when you least expect it." Brakkii said with a smirk.
"In your dreams." Vincent said with a chuckle.
"No. In yours." Brakkii said firmly.
"Can you help me?" Thomas asked hopefully, immediately bringing Vincent and Brakkii back to the point.
"I don't know." Brakkii said with a look of concern directed at Thomas.
Thomas' eyes went wide at the statement and started to fill with tears.
"I don't want to make promises that I can't keep, so all I can say at this point is that I'll try." Brakkii said more quietly.
"But was I right? Wouldn't pulling him out of his dimension and bringing him here stop the radiation from killing him?" Vincent asked in an urging tone.
"Perhaps. To be honest, I don't know that anyone ever thought of using the inter-dimensional properties quite this way. It sounds like it could work, but... all we can do is try." Brakkii said as he turned his full attention back to Thomas.
"When can we do it?" Vincent asked hopefully.
"Thomas, do you understand what we're going to try to do?" Brakkii asked slowly.
"If I'm getting what Vincent said, the me that's here right now is my dream self. What you're going to do is follow my dream self back to my body, grab it and bring it here." Thomas said slowly.
"Yes. That's exactly right. From what I can tell of your situation, this probably won't make things any worse, but I can't guarantee that it will make things better." Brakkii said honestly.
"Please do it." Thomas said in a whisper.
* * * * *
Vincent's eyes filled with tears at the sight of Thomas' real body.
Brakkii was holding the frail boy in his arms. Thomas was covered from head to toe with burns and running sores. Thomas' head was nearly bald and it was obvious that he was nearly if not completely blind from the whitening of his corneas.
Vincent could see that Thomas was struggling to remain conscious.
"Can you save him?" Vincent asked in a trembling voice.
"I can try. I'll take him into my castle and every healer in the realm will be summoned to help him." Brakkii said quietly.
"But can't *you* help him?" Vincent asked in a pleading voice.
"Vincent, my abilities are primarily based in dreams and illusions. I can do very little to affect the physical world. Every person here is a representation of a real person somewhere with access to all their 'real world' talents. It is my hope that with their combined knowledge and skills, we will find a way to help Thomas." Brakkii said honestly.
"Oh. I thought that you could just... make the radiation go away." Vincent said slowly.
"I'm sorry, it doesn't work that way." Brakkii said with regret.
"Then let's get started." Vincent said as he moved to Brakkii's side.
"Vinccccent?" Thomas said, making a whistling sound in the middle of Vincent's name.
"Yeah." Vincent asked as he leaned down and noticed that Thomas was missing one of his front teeth.
"Thankssss for trying." Thomas said in a weak voice.
"No problem." Vincent struggled to say past the lump in his throat.
"Let's go." Brakkii said, then in an instant they were in a beautiful room inside the castle.
"It's faster than walking." Brakkii said as he laid Thomas on the bed.
* * * * *
After a brief examination of Thomas, Brakkii turned and quietly said, "Vincent, you need to return to your waking world now."
"How is he?" Vincent asked as he looked down at Thomas on the bed.
"No better, no worse. I can't say that it's all that I hoped for, but if we can keep from losing ground, then there's reason to hope." Brakkii said honestly.
"What will you do?" Vincent asked as he looked Brakkii in the eyes.
"I will summon every healer and try each and every possible thing that might help him until something works. Go now. You have a big day ahead of you and it wouldn't do for you to oversleep." Brakkii said seriously.
"Okay. Just please take care of him." Vincent said with one last look at the boy in the bed.
"Trust me. We'll find a way."?
* * * * *
As Vincent slowly returned to consciousness, he thought about everything that had happened in the realm.
Before he even opened his eyes, he could feel that he was snuggled between Lehman and Lindon who were both sleeping soundly.
He reflected on the previous day and how much fun it had been to watch Lindon discover the new world around him. Each new thing he encountered was greeted with joy and wonder.
Then Vincent began to wonder if Thomas would ever have the chance to discover new things.
Vincent tried to suppress the thoughts and focus on the memories of how much Lindon had enjoyed dinner, lounging, touring the ship and visiting Captain Rasch and Treep on the bridge; each thing was a new adventure to spark Lindon's insatiable curiosity.
Finally, when it was time for bed, Lindon reluctantly admitted that he didn't want to sleep alone. Vincent and Lehman had immediately decided that they could all sleep in Vincent's bed.
As much as Vincent wanted to lay in the bed a while longer, he remembered Brakkii's warning about it being a big day. And besides, his bladder had other intentions and made it known, in no uncertain terms, that it was time for him to get out of bed.
* * * * *
After attending to his urgent morning business, Vincent dressed in his Starfleet uniform, then gave one last look back into the cabin to see that Lehman and Lindon were still sleeping soundly. He walked out of the room and toward the lift that would take him up one level to where the bridge was located.
"Good morning Ship, is everything going alright today?" Vincent asked as he stepped onto the lift.
"Yes Trach Manja Vincent. All is well. I have received a text message for you when you are ready to receive it." Ship said in a very professional voice.
"Oh, yeah. Can you read it to me?" Vincent asked curiously.
"Yes. The text of the message is as follows.
When I found out that you were going to Earth, I did some checking around and was able to contact the sellers of the items you bought. I had to pay a little extra, but hopefully you'll receive your things at Clan Short Headquarters before it's time for you to come back. I hope everything is okay. Call us if there's anything we can do to help.
That concludes the message."
"Thank you Ship." Vincent said somewhat distantly as he walked off the lift and into the hallway.
* * * * *
As Vincent stepped onto the bridge he realized that he had been walking without thought or purpose.
Captain Rasch noticed Vincent entering the room and after a moment of fumbling with his necklace, he said, "Good morning, Trach Manja Vincent. It is my hope that you slept well."
"Um, yeah. Fine." Vincent said, not wanting to go into any detail about his dream experience.
"We have been traveling without incident and should arrive at your home world ahead of schedule." Captain Rasch said as he examined the holographic display before him.
"How? I mean, when you projected the course, you calculated the quickest way to get us to Earth. How were you able to get us there faster?" Vincent asked as he walked to the captain's side.
After a moment of hesitation, Ship's voice sounded from above them.
"The original calculations were made using variables associated with safe travel and prescribed tolerance limits. Since our encounter with Lindon's ship, I chose to exceed those safety limitations and accelerate to our true maximum sustainable speed."
Vincent considered the words, then looked at Captain Rasch curiously.
"The velocity that we have chosen to use has caused some minor damage to the engines. But while we are orbiting Earth, we can work to repair that damage in preparation for our return voyage." Captain Rasch said as he looked away.
Even though Captain Rasch was from another species, Vincent recognized his expression. Captain Rasch was being evasive in his answer and obviously understating the damage to the ship.
"Thank you for hurrying." Vincent said, not giving any indication if he was thanking the captain or Ship.
"It will be some time before we arrive at your home world. Is there anything you would like to do to prepare for your arrival?" Captain Rasch asked in an obvious attempt to change the subject.
After a moment to consider, Vincent nodded and said, "I think I would like to work out. It helps me to be able to concentrate on things. Is there someplace around here where I could do that?"
"Is there any special equipment that you will need?" Captain Rasch asked with interest.
"No. I just need someplace with some space to move around in where I won't be in anyone's way." Vincent said in the tone of voice that he usually used when he was on duty.
"There is a cargo hold on the lower deck that is not being used. I believe that will serve your purposes." Captain Rasch said, with distraction as he looked again at the holographic display in the center of the room.
"Thank you Captain. I'm sure it'll be fine." Vincent said with a smile, then turned to leave the room.
Captain Rasch nodded his acknowledgment of the statement as he carefully examined the holographic display of the ship's systems.
* * * * *
Before going down to the cargo hold, Vincent stopped by his cabin to check on Lehman and Lindon. While he was there, he changed into the loose fitting pants from the day before.
It occurred to him that he should feel self conscious about walking through an alien ship barefoot and shirtless. But for whatever reason, he felt more comfortable among the Soleen-Avalla than he would on Earth.
When he arrived in the cargo bay, he moved to the center of the room and began his warm-up stretching exercises.
T'Lani had helped him to organize and compartmentalize some of the information in his mind. Thanks to her training and Lehman's help in identifying the emotions that were bothering him, Vincent had enough information to sort through what he was currently feeling in a logical manner.
Without conscious thought, Vincent started his workout routine, going through the stances that Thaelan had taught him.
While moving fluidly from one stance to another, Vincent's mind achieved a state of clarity that made resolving his emotional questions almost effortless.
* * * * *
"Lindon and Trach Manja Lehman are awake and requesting to know of your location." Ship said into the cavernous cargo bay.
Vincent moved into the next stance and held it before responding, "Tell them that I'll be right up."
After a moment, Ship said, "They will await your arrival in your cabin."
Vincent broke out of his stance and started his cool-down stretches.
"I have never before felt the desire to have a biological body, but watching your movements has caused me to consider what it must be like." Ship said in an unusually informal tone.
"I guess it's easy to look at what someone else has and dream about what it must be like. At least I know it's that way for me." Vincent said as he continued his stretching.
After a moment, Ship said, "A cursory scan of humanoid customs appears to confirm your assertion. Perhaps it is an aspect of sentience to consider the abilities and circumstances of others and relate them to one's own situation."
"Maybe. But just like anything else, it's something that can get out of control." Vincent said as he finished his last stretch and got to his feet.
"In what way?" Ship asked with interest.
Vincent started walking toward the door as he said, "Greed, envy, avarice and lots of other bad stuff come from one person having something another doesn't. And it's not just individuals, countries and planets operate the same way. Noticing that someone else has something you don't isn't a bad thing, neither is dreaming about having something more than you do. But it can lead to bad things if you think about it too much."
"I believe that is a reasonable assertion. More investigation is warranted." Ship said in a considering voice.
Vincent smiled at the response as he entered the lift, knowing that Ship would automatically take him to his cabin.
"If you figure it out, please let me know. I'm pretty sure that people all over the universe have been trying to sort that one out for a while now." Vincent said with a casual chuckle in his voice.
After a moment to access his cultural database, Ship responded, "Once again, you appear to be correct."
* * * * *
As Vincent walked into his cabin, he found Lehman and Lindon dressed and waiting for him.
"Hey, guys. How are things?" Vincent asked as he automatically walked to pick up his jumpsuit uniform.
"Really good. Except that we missed you last night." Lindon said with a hesitant and timid expression.
"You missed me? I was sleeping right next to you."
"But you didn't come to the Realm with us." Lindon said in a slightly whiny tone.
"Oh, I was there, I was just... um, kind of doing some Trach Manja work." Vincent said reluctantly.
"Anything I could help with?" Lehman asked immediately.
"You know if it was, you would have been there. That's just how it works." Vincent said with a smile.
"Oh. Well, we missed you." Lindon said in a shy voice as he looked toward the floor.
Vincent smiled at the statement, then quickly said, "I'm all sweaty from working out, so I need to stop by the bathing pool before I go to breakfast. If you two want to go ahead, I'll catch up."
"What do you think, Lindon? Do you want to go to breakfast right away or take a bath?" Lehman asked casually.
"If I take a bath, will you go too?" Lindon asked and seemed to be poised for rejection.
"Sure. I wouldn't mind a bath... that is, if Vincent wouldn't mind the company." Lehman said with a quick smile at Vincent.
Vincent chuckled as he said, "Yeah. Company would be good."
"What's funny?" Lindon asked in a voice that was more confusion than curiosity.
"It's just that a few months ago I would have freaked out if a guy asked me to bathe with him. But now I think it's a pretty good idea."
Lehman smiled at Vincent's answer and gestured toward the door.
"If you would like, your clothes could be cleaned while you are bathing." Ship offered casually.
"I haven't done anything to get my clothes dirty since yesterday, but I guess it wouldn't hurt." Lehman said with a questioning look at Vincent.
"Yeah. We might as well look our best when we arrive at Clan Short headquarters." Vincent said as he led the way out of the room.
* * * * *
When the trio entered the bathing pool area, they noticed two Avalla already in the pool and one who was disrobing in the changing area.
All three Avalla immediately stared at Lindon as he started to undress.
Vincent and Lehman noticed first and exchanged a look but didn't say anything.
Finally, when Lindon was completely naked, he looked around and noticed the gazes fixed on him.
"Do I look funny?" Lindon asked with concern.
"Not to me." Vincent said cautiously as he looked at the Avalla men.
"Please do not be offended Lindon." Ship said in a low voice.
"The Avalla have speculated and dreamed about a transitional species for generations. It is ingrained in their culture. You are the embodiment of what they imagine their link to other species would look like." Ship said in a reasonable tone.
"I guess you're like an angel." Vincent said casually as he walked toward the pool.
"What's an ang..." Lindon trailed off as he finally noticed Lehman's naked body.
Vincent began to chuckle as he lowered himself into the water.
"What's wrong Lindon?" Lehman asked cautiously, not wanting to assume that Lindon and Vincent thought the same way.
"Is it real?" Lindon asked as he stared at Lehman's pendulous flaccid penis.
Vincent gave one short bark of laughter at the question before quickly reigning it in.
Lehman flashed a momentary glare in Vincent's direction, then faced Lindon and said, "Yes. It's real."
"It looks so... can I touch it?" Lindon asked in wonder.
"I guess that answers one of my questions." Vincent said with a snicker.
"He's just curious, Vincent. It doesn't mean anything." Lehman said in a tone of warning, then said to Lindon, "Let's wait until we get to Earth and get your memories restored. I wouldn't want you to do anything that you'll regret."
Lindon looked at Lehman with confusion at the statement.
"Come on and get in the pool or we're going to miss breakfast." Vincent said with a smile.
"The stomach speaks." Lehman said with a chuckle, then gestured toward the pool.
"I am hungry." Lindon said without turning his gaze away from Lehman's penis.
"For food or for Lehman?" Vincent asked with a smirk.
"Not helping, Vincent." Lehman said in a tone of warning, then slowly started lowering himself into the warm water of the bathing pool.
"Did I do something wrong?" Lindon asked as a look of shame started to fill his expression.
"Sorry, Lindon. I was just playing with Lehman. You're not doing anything wrong at all. But I think Lehman is right that you should wait to do anything until we can get your memories back." Vincent said as he looked Lindon in the eyes.
"Why?" Lindon asked cautiously, obviously not fully accepting the answer.
"Because we don't know anything about your people, or about you. It would be really bad if you did something now and found out later that it was against some kind of law or a sin or maybe that you made a promise to someone that you just don't remember." Vincent said carefully.
"What kind of promise?" Lindon asked slowly as he tried to process what they were saying.
"Well, like when I married my wife. We belong to each other and I would be betraying her if I allowed anyone to take her place." Vincent said carefully.
"So you think that maybe I have a wife?" Lindon asked cautiously.
"I have no idea, but all we have to do is wait a few hours to find out." Vincent said with a shrug.
Lindon nodded, finally seeming to accept what Lehman and Vincent were saying.
* * * * *
"Would you like me to wash your back?" Vincent offered quietly.
"Would you? In my true form I could do it myself, but in your Human form it's nearly impossible.
Vincent turned to Lindon and said, "Lehman is a Chameloid..."
"He explained all that to me last night in the realms. He showed me how he used to look and how he used to be able to change." Lindon said quickly.
Vincent smiled, happy that he didn't have to explain as he started to wash Lehman's back.
Lindon watched for a moment, then quietly asked, "When I remember who I really am, do you think you'll still like me?"
Vincent froze in mid motion, stunned by the question.
Lehman slowly turned to look at Lindon as he considered his response.
"I hope so, Lindon. I really do." Lehman finally answered.
Vincent nodded his agreement to the statement, unable to find any words of his own.
* * * * *
As the boys walked into the dining hall, they found Treep sitting at the table, obviously waiting for them to arrive.
"Good morning. Did all of you sleep well?" Treep asked in a friendly tone.
"Yeah. I had a really good dream." Lindon said happily.
"Mine was... interesting." Vincent said with a uncertain smile.
"We should be arriving at Earth in approximately one hour." Treep said as he started to scoop some portions of food onto his plate.
"Really? Captain Rasch said that we were ahead of schedule, but I didn't think it would be so soon." Vincent said with surprise.
"It may be hard for you to get a proper sense of time without daylight to guide you. I know that it is sometimes that way for me." Treep said in a considering voice.
"Well, I live on a starship so I don't think that's it, but my sleep schedule has been pretty messed up the last couple of days, so that might have done it." Vincent said as he also began to fill his plate, then thought to ask, "Ship? Do the Soleen-Avalla have anything like coffee?"
After a moment, Ship responded, "My apologies, Trach Manja Vincent. But we have no such beverage on our planet."
"Oh... that's okay. I'm just kind of used to having coffee with my breakfast... it's kind of my way of starting my day. I'll just have some when we get to Earth." Vincent said, then started eating his breakfast.
"Before I forget, We made these for the three of you." Treep said and unfolded a piece of cloth to reveal three identical pieces of jewelry.
"Those are pretty." Lindon said with a smile.
"What do they do?" Vincent asked between bites.
"They are communication devices. With these, you can be in constant contact with Ship. You will be able to call for an emergency teleportal or to simply ask a question." Treep said informatively.
"How do we use them? I don't understand how to use your controls." Vincent said as he picked up one of the bracelets to examine it.
"You don't need to do anything. Ship will monitor you at all times and respond immediately to any need you might have." Treep said frankly.
"So it'll be just like being here on the ship." Lehman said speculatively.
"Yes. And since Clan Short has had recent difficulties, it would be prudent to take such precautions." Treep said seriously.
Vincent considered for a moment, then smiled as he said, "Those are Captain Rasch's words, aren't they?"
Treep looked surprised by the question, but finally nodded.
"I thought so. I don't think you're the kind of guy who would think to say something like 'prudent'." Vincent said with a teasing grin.
Treep clucked with laughter and said, "I think you're right."
* * * * *
"Trach Manja Vincent, the Captain requests your presence on the bridge." Ship said seriously.
"Is something wrong?" Vincent asked as he stood from the table.
"Perhaps. The captain has been in contact with Starfleet so we will not be delayed on our approach to Earth, however, he is meeting with some resistance." Ship said gravely.
"Tell him I'm on my way." Vincent said as he hurried out of the dining room.
* * * * *
"What's wrong Captain?" Vincent asked as he walked onto the bridge.
"Starfleet is demanding that we allow ourselves to be scanned before we will be allowed to approach Earth." Captain Rasch said in a voice that clearly conveyed his anger.
"Let me talk to them." Vincent said as he turned to face the center of the room.
A holographic screen appeared and an instant later a Starfleet admiral that Vincent didn't recognize filled the screen.
"Crewman Winters?" The admiral asked dubiously as he looked at Vincent.
It took Vincent a moment to realize why the admiral was confused by his appearance.
Vincent was barefoot and only wearing a pair of loose fitting pants that had been left for him in the bathing room.
"Yes sir, I'm sorry, admiral. I only have the uniform I was wearing when I came aboard and it is being cleaned right now." Vincent said shyly.
The admiral gave Vincent an appraising look that seemed to come up short of acceptable before saying, "In the interest of Starfleet security, we need to scan the ship you are on before we can allow it to enter the Sol system."
"Admiral Morrow already approved all this. If you check with him, he'll tell you that it's okay." Vincent said cautiously, trying to make his point without offending the admiral.
"He is occupied with other matters and security is my area of expertise." the admiral said seriously.
"It sure isn't diplomacy." Vincent said under his breath.
"What was that, Crewman?" the admiral asked sternly.
Vincent took in a deep breath to brace himself, before responding, "Admiral, as a son of Clan Short I am formally declaring this ship and all her occupants under the protection of Clan Short of Vulcan. If you want to scan this ship, contact Patriarch Short or Ambassador Sarek."
"Crewman Winters, you are blowing this all out of proportion. We just want to do a simple security scan of an alien vessel approaching our planet. That isn't an unreasonable request." the Admiral said in a softer voice.
"Maybe not to you, but to the Soleen-Avalla it's an insult and a violation of their ship. It would be the same as me inviting you over to my house for dinner, then frisking you at the door." Vincent said firmly, trying to sound reasonable.
As the admiral started to open his mouth to respond to the boy before him, the screen Vincent was looking at went dual and the bridge of a Vulcan ship came into view. In the Captain's Chair a hooded and black-robed boy was seated. He addressed the Starfleet admiral in a hard voice, "Admiral Farnworth, under the authority of the Vulcan High Command, High Council and by my authority as Commander in the V.S.O. you are ordered to report to Admiral Morrow's office and await Ambassador Sarek there. You have nearly caused a diplomatic disaster, and could have cost the Kimber colonists their new home. You are temporarily relieved of duty."
The admiral seemed to pale as the full weight of what was said sank in.
"You are dismissed, admiral," the boy on screen said as he depressed a button on the command chair and the Starfleet signal was cut off. The screen filled up entirely with the Vulcan bridge, allowing Vincent to see at least six other robed and hooded people; this time adults and they seemed Vulcan. The boy raised his hand and gave Vincent and Captain Rasch the Vulcan Salute. It was then that they saw his hand was blue, "Greetings on behalf of the United Federation of Planets, Earth and the High Council of Vulcan. I am 'Wisdom', Commander of the Dragon Division, a member of Vulcan Special and Covert Operations. Please disregard all that bull that admiral was saying. He was not acting on behalf of the Federation nor Starfleet."
"Um, yeah. Okay." Vincent said uncertainly, then glanced at Captain Rasch.
"Wisdom, this is Captain Rasch of the Soleen-Avalla." Vincent said as some small degree of his Starfleet diplomatic training seemed to have returned.
The young Commander lowered his hood to reveal his Andorian features and antennae. He replied, "Good to meet you, Captain. I am truly sorry for the inconvenience you have just been through. We have been monitoring all Clan Short and Starfleet communications since Saturday's chaos and I was detailed by the Ambassador to await your arrival." Wisdom turned and looked at Vincent with question, and to the young crewman it seemed that he was waiting for something, albeit with a slightly amused expression on his face.
After a moment of confusion, Vincent realized his omission.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Vincent, I mean, Crewman Winters, Son of Clan Short of the House of Surak of Vulcan." Vincent said in a bumbling rush.
Wisdom giggled slightly, "Pleased to finally meet you too, Vincent. We have been aware of your accomplishments since you joined the Clan. 'Heart' certainly has a crush on you already." So saying, Wisdom laughed harder at Vincent's sudden shock.
"Oh, um. I'm guessing that if you've been waiting to meet me, you probably know that I'm married, right?" Vincent asked uncertainly.
"Oh, I know. She knows too. She still thinks you are cute, though."
Vincent's eyes went wide at the statement, then he stammered, "I... um, thanks."
Wisdom controlled his giggles with some small effort, then continued, "Sorry, but I just had to say that. Her orders. Captain Rasch, as you are a diplomatic envoy to Earth and Federation space, would you allow us the honour of escorting you into Sector 001? Both my ship and the Excelsior stand ready to lead you to Earth."
Captain Rasch stood a little straighter as he looked at the screen then said in his most formal and respectful voice, "Thank you, Wisdom, your courtesy is most appreciated. Given the abrupt nature of our departure, I did not expect a diplomatic escort to receive us, but since you have offered, I will humbly accept."
"Is everything all right?" A voice called from behind them.
Vincent glanced over his shoulder and saw Lindon and Lehman standing in the doorway.
"Yeah, it is now. Come on over here, guys, there's someone I want you to meet." Vincent said as he gestured to his friends.
As Lindon came further into the room, Wisdom stiffened in his chair. "Finally... he's been found!" he half whispered, relief and joy flooding through his face for a moment.
"Wisdom, this guy who looks like me is Lehman and the guy with the wings is Lindon. Guys, this is Wisdom." Vincent said, feeling a little proud of himself for remembering to make introductions this time.
Lindon had heard the half whispered comment and looked at the Andorian stranger on the screen curiously. "You know me?" he asked, hesitantly.
"That was what I was about to ask," Captain Rasch stated with curiosity as he looked between the viewscreen and Lindon.
"No, I do not know you personally," Wisdom responded slowly, thinking fast on his feet. "The Vulcan High Council has been keeping a Watch posted for you for the last ten months, however."
"Lindon doesn't remember anything about who he is or where he's from, so anything you could tell him would be great. We were hoping that when we get to Earth that maybe some Vulcan healers or some of the telepaths could help him remember who he is." Vincent said in a rush.
Wisdom looked at them all for a long moment. Then, "Please wait; I need to contact my Commander."
Vincent expected Wisdom to start another call. He did not expect the Andorian child to simply close his eyes.
After a moment, Wisdom looked back up, "Voice, my Commander, has released me for information disclosure. I can tell you a few things. Lindon, we do not know your real name. We do, however, know where you are from, and who your people are. You are Lo'Garn. Your world is Lo'Ga, and it is over twelve thousand light years from Federation space; deep within the Beta Quadrant. Once you are with the Clan, there is at least one trained Mind-Healer there. Captain, or you, Vincent; is it a memory problem, or brain damage that is causing this issue?"
"Brain damage. His cryogenic unit intermittently failed during his voyage and there was wide-spread damage to his brain. Soleen-Avalla medical technology is such that we were able to completely heal the physical damage, but we have no method of restoring lost memories. Our people have no telepaths." Captain Rasch said professionally.
Just then a caramel-haired seven year old boy popped in next to Lindon. "Hi, Uncle Vincent!" He turned to Lindon and looked him over. "Voice said that you'd been found and someone needed to check on ya. You'll be okay, Uncle Xandor; I'll fix ya up as soon as ya get home!" He then giggled as he turned to the screen and waved. "Hey, Cuz; how y'all doin'?"
Lehman leaned close to Vincent and asked, "Who is that?"
Vincent shrugged and whispered, "I don't know."
"How did he just appear like that?"
"You got me."
"You're the Starfleet guy who's supposed to know all about what's going on." Lehman said curtly.
"Sorry." Vincent said weakly, then watched to see what was going to happen next.
"Don't worry, Uncle Lehman!" the boy stated between giggles. "Uncle Vincent needs to catch up on a few things. You know my Daddy and Poppa, Uncle Vincent, they're Kyle and Tyler. Uncle Cory can't wait until you get home! Starfleet don't know nuthin' about me, so askin' them ain't gonna help!"
"Does that clear things up for you?" Lehman asked as he stared at the boy.
"Not a bit. I think it made it worse. But I'm not the only one who has to figure this out, 'Uncle Lehman'." Vincent responded.
Wisdom, grinning like a Cheshire cat, broke in with, "Lehman and Vincent, Captain Rasch, Lindon. I am honoured to introduce you to Levi, child of Tyler and Kyle, first-born of the Mikyvis. And a damn good healer to boot! Hey! Talons!" Wisdom turned in his chair and looked to the back of the bridge where a pair of legs were sticking out from under the Security console.
"What, Tel? I'm busy here!"
"Code names only, doofus! There's someone here you've been longing to meet!"
"Oh for Kahless' sakes!" A small ten year old Klingon pulled himself out from under the console. "What are you... Oh! LEVI!!!!"
"Hi Talons! Are they working good?" Levi asked with a grin.
Talons nodded happily, "They're working fine! Thanks!!!"
Vincent closed his eyes for a moment and muttered, "I didn't really get to start my day off right... And the Soleen-Avalla don't have coffee!"
Wisdom laughed, "You'll understand soon. You'll be brought up to speed quick enough."
Levi giggled as a large coffee cup appeared in Vincent's hand. "Here ya go Uncle Vincent; this help?"
Vincent stared at the coffee in his hand for a moment, then up at Levi and said, "I love you."
"Well," Wisdom said as he was laughing, "You best not let T'Lani hear ya say that!!"
Levi smiled. "I love you too, Uncle Vincent; Uncle Cory is super-proud of you and he's let me learn all about you. You're just as nice as he said you were."
Vincent gave the young Mikyvis a one armed hug, "Thanks, Levi. You're cool too."
"Levi," Wisdom said to the young child, "if you want, Talons here would like to give you those hugs he's been talking about for months and months and months."
Levi nodded quickly and disappeared from the Soleen-Avalla bridge to appear just as quickly on the Vulcan bridge. He and Talons slammed into each other in a fierce hug.
After a few minutes hugging, and everyone else watching with either joy or bemusement, Levi smiled and looked up at Talons. "I like your hugs; they're kewl! Wait until you meet Uncle Cory; you're gonna like him! Thanks for all the hugs."
"Loads more where they came from. Seeya laters, dude!" Talons kissed Levi's cheek, then released him from the hug.
Lehman turned to ask Vincent what was going on, but stopped when he saw the blissful look on Vincent's face as he sipped his coffee.
When he felt that he couldn't wait any longer, Lehman asked, "So do you know what's happening now?"
Vincent smiled and said, "No clue. But I say just go with it."
"Uncle Vincent? You were right, it's better you learn the stuff yourself instead of someone telling you." Levi said as he turned his head to the screen. "You'll understand soon though; just expect TONS of surprises!"
"Yeah. I'm getting kinda used to that." Vincent said, then took another slow sip of his coffee.
As Levi finished on the other ship, he suddenly reappeared next to Lindon. "You're gonna be okay soon; Daddy is gonna help you so you don't lose nothin' you've learned since you woke up. I'm gonna watch so I can learn to do it right!" Levi sealed the promise with a hug, then announced "See y'all at home!" before vanishing.
"Do all your people appear and disappear like that?" Lehman asked Vincent cautiously.
"They didn't when I left, but... I guess we'll find out when we get there." Vincent said casually.
"You're being awfully calm about all this." Lehman said suspiciously.
"It's the coffee." Vincent said with a smile.
Talons giggled at Vincent's blissed out statement, "Don't worry, Lehman. Levi's a Mikyvis. A higher being, in a way. There are only three... no, wait, four of them... at the moment. Forgot about that message from Red as we left yesterday!"
"Yeah," Wisdom said with amusement, "and knowing his folks, it won't be long 'til even more arrive!" The Andorian glanced at Lindon. "Lin... I mean, Xandor. Do you have questions?"
"When will you be able to fix me?" Lindon asked hesitantly, obviously afraid of the answer.
"Well, in about an hour we'll be at Terra Main, in orbit of Earth." Wisdom said, "I cannot say exactly when the Mikyvis guys can help you, but within a day or so, I'd imagine. Please, don't worry, Xandor. There is another on Earth who will help you, once we can reveal who we are fully."
Captain Rasch glanced at the Andorian boy suddenly, having caught what had been said, "What do you mean 'we' are only an hour from Earth? My ship is an hour from Earth, but Starfleet vessels are not as fast as our own. And there are no others here!"
Wisdom turned back to Rasch, "Captain, I am not on a Starfleet vessel. This is a Vulcan Tavek-Class Interceptor. They are far more advanced than Starfleet ships, at least until the current upgrades roll out fully. Since Vulcans are far, far older than all others in the known Alpha and Beta Quadrants, they have technology that is not widely known about."
"Then we will be prepared to get underway again once you arrive." Captain Rasch said formally.
"We already have," Wisdom said with a smile.
Captain Rasch turned and looked closely at the scanner output in the holographic display, then looked back at the viewscreen with question.
With a giggle, Wisdom motioned to one of the other Vulcans in the room, "Check off your starboard bow. We are decloaking now. And do not be alarmed, we are heavily armed, but that is normal for the 'Yoshuhlnak' and all Tavek ships."
On the scanners, Rasch saw an impressive sized ship appear. The viewscreen also changed to show the ship. It was larger than the Enterprise, Vincent noticed.
Captain Rasch immediately turned to look at the holographic display, his eyes darting around, taking in every detail.
"Wow. It's pretty." Lindon said as he looked at the screen with wonder.
"She's magnificent." Vincent said as he moved to stand beside Captain Rasch so he could examine the holographic representation.
Lehman looked back and forth between Lindon and Vincent, then shook his head.
"I'll never understand what you see in these things... it's just a ship." Lehman said with a roll of his eyes.
"I beg your pardon?" Ship interjected curtly.
"Um, oh. I didn't mean... I'm sorry Ship.... Why don't I just shut up now. Okay?" Lehman said in a diminishing voice.
Wisdom grinned at them, "Captain. If you are ready, we will proceed to the Sol System. What is your maximum speed?"
"On your scale, off the chart. We use a version of Transwarp."
"Mmm. That is failed tech in the Federation. And unstable. We have a maximum Warp speed of 9.8 and can hold that for up to six hours. That is more than enough for us to get to Earth."
"Very well. Ship, please follow the 'Yoshuhlnak' and match their speed," Rasch ordered.
Wisdom added, "At the border of the Terran System, please drop to Warp 4. It is the standard within all Federation populated planetary systems, due to trade and civilian traffic. The USS Excelsior will join us there as the Starfleet escort."
"We will follow your lead, and thank you," Captain Rasch said, "I am glad to have met you. I do find it strange, however, that a child your age is in command of a Starship."
"I am the 'Wisdom of the Dragon', part of the Vulcan Special Ops Divisions. To Vulcans, ability is more important than age. You also will need to wait for more information. Everything will be made clear in time, once you meet those we protect; Clan Short."
"So you aren't Clan?" Vincent asked in surprise.
"That is something that is going to be a surprise for when you get to Earth, Vincent," the Andorian said mysteriously. "I have things I must take care of now, but I will contact you all soon. Live long and prosper."
"Peace and long life," Vincent replied, and the signal terminated.
Lehman sighed in frustration, "I hate unanswered questions, and that was more questions left hanging than I can handle!"
Lindon, however, looked both nervous and happy. "I have a name! And I know what I am and where I'm from!" He paused, a smile playing over his face as he whispered, "Lo'garn... Ummm, what do you think, Vincent? Lehman? Is Xandor a nice name?" he asked them both hopefully.
"It's a great name, Xandor," Vincent said as he hugged the happy twelve year old winged boy with one arm, before draining the last of his coffee. "Lehman, don't worry about it. We'll get to know what's going on once we arrive. It's like you said; we'll learn about it as we go and be able to use our abilities better. That Levi kid said so, too."
"Yeah, but I sure wish now that I'd been wrong about that."
The Captain was half listening to them and half paying attention to the ship that was just forward and starboard of his own. They had entered warp moments after Wisdom had left the screen. The ship ahead was a beauty and no mistake. "Ship, what is the armament of that Vulcan ship?"
"Heavy, just as the Commander said," Ship responded, "Fourteen Phaser arrays, ten torpedo launchers and dual overlapping modular shields. It would be a formidable opponent to any of the races we are aware of. I doubt that we could match her, apart from our speed. Most of the readings I am getting show a power level at least equal to my own, and they are only slightly slower than our normal cruise speed. I am impressed."
Rasch also seemed impressed, "I am glad they are on our side."
"I'm still hungry," Vincent stated suddenly, the coffee having finally done its job at waking him up. "Can we go..."
"Back and finish off? Sure," Lehman completed seriously. "We left ours too when you left. Come on, you two."
The three boys left the room arm in arm, leaving Rasch to practically dribble over the stats from the 'Yoshuhlnak'.
"I really want to have a long talk with these Vulcans..." he said in admiration.
* * * * *
"Hi, Brakkii!" Levi said as he appeared in the dream realms. "How's my favorite Queen of the Dream Kingdom doing?"
"Have you been speaking to Vincent, by any chance?" Brakkii retorted playfully.
Levi giggled. "Yeah; That's why I swung back by here so soon! It looks like you got everything outta my universe before Daddy killed off the timeline branches."
"Well, out of the branches, yes. I'm still in the main 'trunk'. Thanks for the warning, but please tell your parents that destroying whole chunks from various universes makes my race feel sick. If they can refrain from it, I'd be happier."
"Daddy's real sad about it too." Levi replied seriously. "He only did it because it was the only way to keep the bad guy from destroying all of it."
"Bad guy?" Brakkii thought for a moment. "Oh, that Axon kid? Well, I understand now. Funny race, those Ferox. By the way, please tell your father that seven 'branches' fell away and became valid universes."
Levi nodded, "Yeah, we know. I went looking as it was happening."
"That's good. They do seem different now, though, and after checking one I found its history has changed. I think it is how Creation defends itself. Those new universes must all have new histories making them totally different from their source here. Hopefully, that will make him feel less sad. Those people have a chance at life, and their own universe as well."
Levi nodded. "I told him for you; he's still sad about everyone else but that helped him a little."
"Good," Brakkii replied as he led Levi to a nearby seat and pulled the seven year old onto his lap.?
"He will feel better as time goes by, but it won't really leave him. Tell him that he can always come here. There's a great place here, the Valley of Cuddles and Snuggles. It would do you and your parents good."
Levi giggled. "I was kinda thinking of bringing ALL of my family here tonight; you up to throwing a HUGE party?"
"Whenever you're ready, I will be," Brakkii nodded as he hugged the boy tighter. "I think... I feel something happening, however. Travellers. At least five... no, wait... maybe six... hang on! There's a lot travelling right now! Your family, that Cory boy included, well, you might be busy today and tonight!"
Levi concentrated for a minute. "Wow; that's gonna be weird if you're seeing what I see in one of the possible futures. How'd you do that? I can't feel stuff that's happening right now!"
Brakkii thought for a moment, "Mmm, okay. You exist in all universes, dimensions and timelines at once?"
"Yep." Levi giggled. "Uncle Levis says we're made of anti-energy."
"Cool. I'm anti-energy in part, but also matter. In a way. It's different, but... oh, nevermind. I exist wherever I want to exist, but only in current time. I can't see the future like you. But, I come from no universe. We came from the "Great Light". It's what is between all the Universes. Do you understand that?"
"Yeah." Levi replied. "We use it when we go places."
"Good. Well, when I travel between I make a ripple. I can't feel when you or any Mikyvis travels between as you guys do so instantly. I can't. I have to bring my body with me. When others travel I can feel the ripples. I already feel that five are travelling to this universe. And they are not travelling alone. No, wait, that... those they travel with! They don't exist anymore! Wow... Oh, and there's another but he's strange. He's not making a current ripple, but an echo like ripple... and he's with someone I can't describe at all."
"That's weird; I can't see anything like that!" Levi commented as he tilted his head. After a few seconds, he shook his head to clear it, "Whatever; I guess I'll find out soon enough! Uncle Vincent has a twin here don't he?"
"Yes, he's in the room over there. Why do you ask?"
"Cuz' I can do a couple of things you can't!" Levi giggled. "Let's go see him!"
Brakkii began to look relieved, "Thank you! I am getting worried for Thomas. Every healer in the Realm is working on the problem, but it's beginning to appear that we won't be able to do much for him."
He stood up and carried the younger boy cradled on his hip into the other room. "He's sleeping right now, but we can't stop his pain nor heal him. Due to the nature of this universe, he's in no danger of dying, but living like he is right now is cruel. I was debating whether I should create an illusion of a normal life for Thomas. But he would be forever trapped in this world, and I couldn't remove all his pain... Perhaps it would be better to take him back to his world so that he could die with some dignity."
Levi concentrated on the boy in front of them. "Put me down, please; I think I can help him."
Brakkii did so, and stood back to watch the little Mikyvis start to work. "Do what you can, Levi. I thank you for anything you can do."
Levi sat next to the boy on the bed and softly ran his hands over Thomas' face. He then closed his eyes and concentrated on the radiation damage, starting at the tips of Thomas' toes. As Brakkii watched in wonder, the boils and blisters began to disappear from the body in front of them, being replaced by naturally tanned skin.
Once the damage to Thomas' body was healed, Levi placed a hand on each side of Thomas' head and relocated all of Thomas' memories and thoughts into his own head until repairs were complete. He then went through the brain neuron by neuron, reversing time on each neuron until it was at a pre-radiated point in it's existence. Once Levi had double-checked each and every part of Thomas' body to ensure there was nothing left of the damage caused, he carefully replaced the memories and thoughts into Thomas' brain; taking time to add in an explanation of what he had just done so that the shockwould not be so bad when he woke up.
Brakkii moved over and sat next to Levi. "That was amazing! I can barely believe my eyes, Levi. Thank you!" and so saying, he once again pulled the child into a hug.
Levi giggled and said as he enjoyed the hug, "No problems, Queenie."
"Imp," Brakkii chuckled. "Well, let us wake him up." He reached over and touched his hand to the side of Thomas' face.
* * * * *
The sound of laughter awoke Thomas from the strangest dream.
He opened his eyes and looked around curiously.
"What happened?" Thomas asked slowly, then realized that he already knew, though not entirely consciously.
"I fixed you." Levi giggled.
Thomas looked at his hand, only half expecting what he saw. His skin was smooth and unblemished.
"Am I dreaming?" Thomas asked as he looked at Levi and Brakkii sitting side by side on the edge of his bed.
"Nope. It's for real," Levi said happily. "I was gonna tattoo 'Restored by Levi' on your butt, but I didn't think you'd like the joke!"
Thomas giggled and looked at Levi curiously, then blinked his eyes in surprise.
"I can see!" Thomas said in wonder, then quickly continued, "I can say 'see' without whistling!"
"Did you have a foreskin before? There wasn't any way for me to tell when I was fixin that part so I gave you yours back." Levi asked seriously.
"Um... thanks." Thomas said, then lifted the blanket covering his midsection to take a peek.
"Wow! That's cool!"
Levi giggled as his clothes suddenly vanished. "Since you're not dressed either, I'll lose my clothes too. Let's go out and check things out around here. There's a really kewl valley I think you'll like!"
Brakkii started looking between both boys. "I feel over dressed."
"I COULD fix that!" Levi giggled.
"So could I," Brakkii replied, as the illusion of clothing fell from his form. "Master of Illusion, at your service."
"I could fix that for you." Levi said as he pointed at Brakkii's circumcised penis.
Brakkii looked down and smiled as he said, "My physical appearance was formed from a memory that I borrowed from someone's mind. What you are seeing is just an illusion."
A moment later, Brakkii's appearance slightly altered and his foreskin appeared.
"We're all matching now. I guess we're ready to go." Levi said with a giggle.
"Where are we going?" Thomas asked cautiously.
"A wonderful place called the Valley of Cuddles and Snuggles."
Editor's Notes: Someone please remind me the next time I'm in the relms, that i have to visit the Valley of Cuddles and Snuggles.
That was so cool that Levi could heal Thomas. Now where will Thomas end up? I am guessing he won't go back to his own world. Pure speculation here, but I somehow think he just might end up in the CSU. I hope so, because he deserves to have a good life, and the love and caring that exists for kids especially in the CSU is something he could use big time. It looks to me as if there are still quite a few questions that need to be answered.
I hope everyone payed attention to the reading order that was mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. If you haven't read the other stories/chapters that were mentioned, then you have even more questions that need to be answered.
See you next time.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher