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This chapter and the last run concurrently with the events depicted in Memories, Chapter 20. While some of the same events do occur in both stories from different points of view, it is not necessary to read the chapters in any particular order to understand what is happening.
Oh yeah, and of course, even more contributions to this chapter were made by Ilúvantír (Thanks bro) and ACFan (Thanks Dad)
"Xain? Our Clan brother?" Vincent asked cautiously.
"That's the one." Rory said with regret sounding in his voice.
"Why would Xain want to hurt Kennon?" Vincent asked, then glanced at Lehman, silently summoning him to join the conversation.
"Xain doesn't want to hurt Kennon. He wants to help him. The problem is that the things he wants to do will invalidate Solak's work." Rory said carefully.
"I don't understand." Lehman said slowly from Vincent's side.
"Ever since we arrived back on Earth, Xain has been trying to come up with ways to help Kennon recover faster. He's tried to get Kennon to transport to South Carolina and been in contact with Ark." Rory said thoughtfully.
"What's wrong with that?" Lehman asked carefully, before Vincent could ask what or who 'Ark' was.
"What's wrong is that if Xain finds a way to treat Kennon's symptoms, it might corrupt Solak's research. If that happens, Solak will have to find someone else to prove that his treatment works." Rory said seriously.
"So what you're saying is that if Xain gets his way, Kennon may be able to get better a little bit faster, but everyone else in the universe with his condition will have to wait that much longer to receive treatment?" Lehman asked cautiously.
"Yes. Exactly. Solak has the chance to prove his treatment with Kennon, and once Kennon is healed, Solak can release his treatment for others to use. Within a few years people everywhere with genetic neurological conditions like ours could be cured. Not just helped but completely and forever cured." Rory said passionately.
"Rory. I just saw your mom in the kitchen. She'll be bringing your lunch..." A voice said from the doorway, then trailed off.
Vincent turned and smiled when he saw Dylan standing in the doorway, carrying a boy on his hip.
The black leather mask covering half of Dylan's face caused Vincent to remember his brief trip to the alternate dimension where Vince lived.
"Vincent?" Dylan asked as his expression changed from disbelief to happiness.
"Hey Dylan. How are you doing?" Vincent asked, then on impulse, ran to Dylan to give him a hug, careful not to squish the boy who was clinging to his side.
Dylan smiled as he accepted the hug, then quietly said, "The last few days have been tough, but I'm really doing great now."
"I'm glad you're alright. And before I forget, thanks for all the kewl emails and stuff." Vincent said as he reluctantly pulled out of the hug.
"Yeah. I've been sharing all your emails with the guys from Cabin One... Hey, would you have time to come with me right now? We're about to have a meeting and it would be great if you could be there." Dylan asked hopefully.
Vincent looked over at Rory for an instant, then back at Dylan with indecision.
"Hey Vincent, did you ever wish you could be in two places at once?" Lehman asked with an impish grin.
Vincent nodded, still conflicted about what he should do.
Lehman rolled his eyes, then transformed into an exact duplicate of Vincent.
Vincent chuckled and said, "Oh, I see what you mean...? But you've got to promise to fill me in when we get back together."
"You know I will. Come on and let me do a quick imprint so you can go with Dylan, then I'll get to work on Xain." Lehman said as he walked to Vincent's side.
Vincent gently placed his hand to the side of Lehman's face in the position of a mind meld as Lehman did the same.
An instant later, Lehman withdrew his hand and said, "You'd better get going."
"Right. Thanks Lehman." Vincent said with a smile.
"I have a feeling that this is what we're here for." Lehman said in a whisper as he looked into Vincent's eyes,.
Vincent nodded, then walked to the door where Dylan was waiting.
"How did he do that?" Dylan asked in wonder.
"It's a long story. I'll tell you on the way." Vincent said as he stepped out into the hall.
* * * * *
"Are you going to pretend to be Vincent?" Rory asked with concern.
"No. It's just natural for me to take a person's form when I take on his memories." Lehman said casually.
"Oh. I guess that makes sense. It's just that even though Xain is kind of being a pain in my butt right now, I wouldn't want to be a part of lying to him." Rory said frankly.
Lehman smiled and said, "If you think it'll be a problem, I can change to look like someone else."
"Why don't you just look like yourself?" Rory asked cautiously.
Lehman's shape shifted slightly, then he looked down at himself with question.
"Is something wrong?" Rory asked curiously.
After a moment to consider, Lehman said, "No. Not wrong. But it seems that when I'm not trying to change myself to look like someone else, that I go back to looking like Vincent. The only way I can go back to looking like my real self is to force the change."
Rory blinked with confusion at the statement, but before he could ask about what Lehman was talking about, Lehman preempted him by saying, "Long story. Doesn't matter."
Rory nodded, then said, "I think Dylan was saying that my mom will be here soon, so I need to wake up Kennon and get washed up or she won't feed us."
Lehman looked at Rory with surprise.
Rory giggled and said, "Well, she won't feed us right away... and I'm hungry."
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Lehman asked cautiously.
"No, that's fine. I take care of Kennon all the time back on Vulcan." Rory said casually.
Lehman heard the whir of the electric motor as Rory moved the wheelchair closer to the bed then gently reached up and placed a hand on Kennon's shoulder.
Kennon slowly opened one eye and looked at Rory curiously.
"It's lunch time, Kennon. Time to wake up." Rory said quietly.
Kennon made a gurgling sound that Lehman couldn't understand.
"Yeah. I'm going to go wash up, then I'll be right back. Lehman is here if you need anything." Rory said gently.
Kennon looked past Rory and looked at Lehman curiously.
Rory leaned in closer and quietly said, "Lehman is a shape shifter. He can look like anyone he wants to."
Kennon gurgled something that Lehman couldn't make out, but Rory obviously understood it because he nodded.
"I'll be back in just a minute." Rory said as he backed away from the bed.
"Hold on." Lehman said urgently.
Rory looked at Lehman curiously.
"If Kennon needs something, I won't be able to understand him. Could I touch you for a second so I can absorb your ability to understand what he says?" Lehman asked cautiously, knowing that he was asking for a large amount of trust from someone he only just met.
Rory considered for just a moment before saying, "Sure, go ahead."
Lehman was slightly surprised by Rory's easy acceptance, but quickly moved to place his hand on Rory's arm so he wouldn't delay Rory any longer than necessary.
Lehman closed his eyes as the imprint of Rory's mind superimposed itself over his own.
When Lehman opened his eyes, he noticed that Rory and Kennon were staring at him.
"What's wrong?" Lehman asked in a whisper.
"You look like me... I mean *exactly* like me." Rory said with wonder as he looked at the duplicate of himself, standing up and looking completely healthy.
Lehman blinked as he tried to process the words while adjusting to Rory's neural imprint, then realized what Rory was saying.
"Oh. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that. It's kind of instinctive." Lehman said shyly as he consciously changed back to his resting form, which was Vincent's.
"No problem. It was just a surprise." Rory said distantly, then gathered his wits and said, "I need to get washed up now."
* * * * *
"Lehman?" Kennon gurgled.
"Yes?" Lehman asked as he walked to Kennon's bedside.
"Can you do that for me?" Kennon asked hesitantly.
His words were garbled and slurred, but thanks to the imprint that Lehman had made of Rory, he could make out the meaning.
"Do what?" Lehman asked cautiously.
"Look like me... but not sick." Kennon asked hopefully.
Lehman drew on some of Rory's memories and had some idea of just what the request might mean to Kennon.
In other circumstances, Lehman would have been able to make the transformation by sight. But with Kennon laying the way he was, Lehman wasn't sure he could accurately copy Kennon's appearance. And considering what it meant to Kennon, Lehman wanted to create the best image he could.
As he laid his hand over Kennon's, he made the conscious effort to change his shape.
Lehman felt himself getting taller and his body increasing in size to give the appearance of increased mass.
He felt the stretching sensation that indicated that he was approaching the edge of his transformational limit.
Most times it wasn't a concern for Lehman because he didn't attempt to take on adult forms.
The tears in Kennon's eyes told Lehman more than his own senses that he had completed the transformation.
Lehman felt an ache in his heart at the sight of Kennon, looking longingly at him.
He searched for something to say to assure Kennon when he noticed a thought amongst the memories that he had borrowed from Rory.
"You're going to be fine, Kennon." Lehman whispered.
Kennon looked at Lehman with hope.
"I know the things that Rory knows about what Solak is doing. Your condition has stabilized, Solak's treatments are working exactly like they're supposed to and in the next few days your nerves should be able to handle neural alignment. That means that by the weekend, you'll be able to talk and move around just like Rory does." Lehman said seriously.
Kennon looked at Lehman with shock at the declaration.
"Rory didn't want you to get all excited about it yet because there's nothing you can do to make it happen any faster." Lehman said, then leaned in to whisper, "So don't tell him I told you."
Kennon nodded shakily, then said, "Thanks."
"Sorry that took so long." Rory said shyly as he moved his wheelchair out of the bathroom, then stopped and stared at Lehman in Kennon's form.
"He wanted to see himself healthy." Lehman said with a shrug.
"Yeah. I can really understand that. Thanks for doing that." Rory said quietly as he moved to Kennon's bedside, then took a towel out of a small basin in his lap.
"Would you like some help?" Lehman asked cautiously, knowing from the memories he borrowed, just how independent Rory was.
After a moment to consider, Rory said, "Thanks. If you'll wash Kennon's hands and face, I'll get our tray tables out."
* * * * *
As Vincent and Dylan walked out into the hall, Dylan adjusted his grip on the boy in his arms and gently asked, "How are you doing, Jason?"
"'It's not bad." Jason K said in a trembling voice.
"We're going back to my cabin now. You did a great job the last few days and you really helped a lot of people." Dylan said as he stroked the boy's hair soothingly and started walking faster down the hall.
"What's wrong with him?" Vincent asked with concern.
"Jason K is an empath. But we only found out last week." Dylan said gently as he hugged the boy in his arms.
"Then why would you bring him to a hospital where so many people are hurting?" Vincent asked in a tone of voice that was free of accusation. He obviously just wanted to understand.
"Because if I stayed in my room, I'd still be able to feel it, but I wouldn't be helping anyone." Jason K said weakly.
"Jason K's empathy is a little different from most. He can't really feel people's emotions, he can just feel their physical pain." Dylan said slowly.
Vincent hurried ahead of the pair to open the door for them.
"Thanks." Dylan whispered, then continued, "Jason K has been able to tell the doctors where some of the patients are hurting. You know, like the ones who are in a coma, or just too freaked out to understand what they're feeling."
Vincent nodded that he understood what Dylan was saying as he was once again reminded just how little he knew about what was going on.
"As soon as things settle down, we're going to work to teach Jason K how to control his gift and how to shield himself from other people's pain." Dylan said as he carried the boy out into the sunlight.
"But you took him into the hospital where you knew that he would be hurt." Vincent said in a small voice.
"Vincent, there are people who will be able to completely recover because Jason K let the doctors know exactly where the pain was and what it felt like. He was able to speak for the most hurt and helpless of all the patients." Dylan said passionately.
"Please don't be mad at Dylan. I wanted to help. It doesn't really hurt as bad when I know that I'm helping someone." Jason K said quietly.
"And you helped a lot." Dylan said gently then gave him a quick kiss on the top of the head.
Jason K gave a weak smile as he laid his head against Dylan's shoulder.
* * * * *
Dylan led the way into Cabin One, still carrying Jason K in his arms.
"Is everyone here?" Dylan asked as he walked across the room and took a seat on one of the couches.
"Yeah. I got them all, just like you said. Simon and Arlo are in their room changing." Obie said seriously as he got up from his chair and took a seat next to Dylan on the couch.
"Vincent, if you'll sit down and get comfortable, we're going to have a quick meeting, then I'll tell you what I wanted to talk about." Dylan said seriously as he shifted to put his free arm around Obie's shoulders.
Vincent nodded and took a seat on the chair that Obie had vacated.
"Are you ready to start?" Simon asked from the hallway.
"Just waiting on you." Dylan said with a smile.
Simon and Arlo walked into the room and quickly took their seats.
"Devon, how are things going with Clan support?" Dylan asked in a very professional tone.
"We're working on collecting information on all the new Clan divisions. So far we haven't found any immediate needs, but there's a lot to go through." Devon said seriously.
"If you need more help, just let me know." Dylan said with a nod.
"Right now we just need time. I also wanted to ask you about the Dragon Division. They're not technically Clan; should we include them?" Devon asked then glanced at Vincent uncertainly.
"Yes. Talk to their leaders and do as much as you can. Don't get frustrated because I can bet that they're going to fight you. If they say 'no', then I'll go and talk to Grandfather Sarek so he can explain that accepting support is 'logical'." Dylan said frankly.
"What if they say 'yes'?" Devon asked curiously.
"Then there's no problem." Dylan said with a teasing smile.
Devon nodded, then looked at Uri with question, prompting him to continue the report.
"While Devon has been working on the divisions, I have been maintaining watch on the local Clan members. I suspect that they will need much emotional support in the coming days... however, they seem to be supporting each other and dealing with the new circumstances as well as can be expected." Uri said in a low voice.
"Keep watching, Uri. As soon as you've found anything we can do, let me know and we'll be on it." Dylan said, then turned his attention to Simon and Arlo.
"I know that we lost quite a few people in the past few days... have you been able to help?" Dylan asked quietly.
"Yes." Simon said in an equally quiet voice, then continued more strongly, "I stayed in the camp to monitor where the deaths occurred and directed Arlo to go where he was needed."
"Good." Dylan said, then turned his focus on Arlo and asked, "Were you able to get the spirits of the fallen put to rest?"
"I'm sorry, but Arlo isn't here right now."
"Randolph? Is that you?" Dylan asked cautiously.
"Yes." The spirit in Arlo's body said quietly.
"Arlo has been awake since Saturday, helping all those who needed him. I will relay the information from this meeting to him when he awakens." Randolph said shyly as he fought to look Dylan in the eye.
"Thank you, Randolph. I'm sure Arlo appreciates all that you've done. Do you know if he was successful in getting the spirits put to rest?" Dylan asked gently.
"Yes. We worked together to help the frightened and confused to find peace. There were four who chose to remain on the Earthly plain as guardian spirits. Arlo called Reuben, Ricardo and Manuel to work with them so they will understand their abilities and duties." Randolph said carefully.
"That sounds good. But make sure you watch after Reuben and Ricardo. I know that they're Clan, but they're still kids." Dylan said with concern.
"Manny won't let anything happen to them." Simon said with assurance.
"Possum was also with them. And Jake is always aware of where they are and what they're doing." Randolph said with a nod, then continued, "But we will be sure that they are not overwhelmed with responsibilities."
Dylan slowly nodded, then looked down the line of boys and asked, "Jose? How are things going with the teddy bear brigade?"
"I think we're doing good. Obie got guys from most of the other cabins to work with us to make sure that the injured people had someone to visit them and care about how they're doing." Jose said frankly.
"And T-t-teddy made sure th-th-that everyone had lots of stuffed animals." Trent said shyly.
Dylan smiled at the statement, then looked around and asked, "Where is Teddy?"
"He was in South Carolina with one of the Unit guys the last time I saw him... He said that he'd be here." Jose said with concern.
"How is he doing? I mean, with his visions?" Dylan asked cautiously.
"I don't know if he's getting better or not. He'll seem fine for a while, then he'll just freak out." Jose said with concern.
"Why didn't you tell me before this?" Dylan asked seriously.
"He made us promise not to. He said he was getting better and that if we told you, that you'd make him stop helping people." Jose said as tears welled up in his eyes.
Dylan closed his eye and slowly nodded that he understood.
"He's had two more that I know of since yesterday... Maybe I should go and check on him." Jose said as he looked at Trent with question.
"Yeah. I think one of us should stay with him until he can get some control over his 'gift'. Someone else wouldn't know how to deal with him when he loses it." Dylan said in thought.
Vincent looked at Dylan curiously, noticing by the way that he said the word 'gift', that it was probably more of a curse.
"I'll go." Trent said as he stood.
Jose seemed to be ready to argue, but finally said, "I'll fill you in when you get back."
Trent nodded as he rushed out of the room.
After a long moment of silence, Dylan asked, "Mouse, how are things going with you?"
"It would have been a lot easier if Jerico was there, but I think we did okay." Mouse said in a voice that betrayed his exhaustion.
"Do you guys need any more help?" Dylan asked cautiously.
"No. The major stuff is all done. The rest is follow-up. But if it weren't for Trent and Jose helping so many people to feel better, it might have been too much. Thanks to them, Luke has only had to deal with the people who are the most depressed and worried." Mouse said frankly.
"And we've asked Jerico for advice when we weren't sure about what to do." Luke added quietly.
"Jerico and Paul were both asleep when I tried to visit. How are they doing?" Dylan asked cautiously.
Mouse gave a weak smile and said, "Jerico is frustrated because he can't be out here with us. But I think Luke asking for his advice made him feel like he was doing something to help."
"What about Paul?" Dylan asked with concern.
"He feels responsible for Jerico being hurt." Luke said quietly.
Mouse nodded and said, "He won't leave Jerico's bedside."
Dylan slowly nodded and said, "They know that we're here when they need us. As soon as Paul knows within himself that Jerico is going to be all right, I'm sure he'll open up and accept help."
"Yeah. And if he doesn't, Jerico will let us know what to do for him." Mouse said seriously.
Dylan took in a slow, deep breath, then turned to Obie and asked, "How are things going with the other cabins?"
"Everyone is good. I've been making sure that everyone has a job to do to help out." Obie said seriously.
Dylan nodded that he had expected the answer, then said, "Jason K and I have just made our rounds of all the medical facilities, so we can be sure that no one is suffering unnecessarily."
Silence fell over the room as all attention was focused on Dylan and Jason K, who was still in his arms.
"Guys, our job is just beginning." Dylan said as he looked around the room.
"You all heard it in the meeting last night. Cory called us the Clan's 'Recovery and Support' division. Up to now we've been working to support the Clan however we can. We've been helping them stay caught up with their classes, we've brainstormed with them when they were stuck on a problem and we've been there when one of them just needed someone to listen." Dylan said to the entire group.
"Devon and Uri, you've done a great job with the support side of things and I want you to keep it up." Dylan said as he turned to face the two older boys.
After a moment for that to sink in, Dylan turned slightly and said, "Luke and Mouse, I would like for you to be in charge of recovery."
"But shouldn't Jerico be in charge of that? He's the Shaman." Luke said cautiously.
"No." Dylan said seriously as he looked Luke in the eyes, then continued, "That's exactly why he shouldn't be in charge of recovery."
"Why not?" Mouse asked curiously.
"Jerico is powerful and smart and wise and very spiritual... but because of that, when he looks at a problem he sees one set of answers. I think that because of Luke's history, he will be able to look at someone's situation from a more neutral point of view and help them to find the answers they really need." Dylan said with difficulty.
"I don't get it." Mouse said cautiously.
"Luke, I'm sorry, but this is the only way I can think of to say this." Dylan said with regret.
Hesitantly, Luke nodded that he wouldn't take offense to whatever Dylan was about to say.
"Luke was raised by some Satanic nutjobs. He's seen the dark side, he's lived it."
After a moment to consider the words, Luke shrugged and nodded his agreement, not bothered by the statement at all.
"Since he's been with us, he's been working with Jerico and been shown the other side of things." Dylan said carefully.
A few looks and nods went around the group.
"Mouse grew up without any spiritual training at all. His experience has been completely in the physical 'real' world of what can be seen and touched and explained by science." Dylan continued thoughtfully.
"I think that Mouse and Luke, working together, will be able to help hurt people find their own best path to recovery. Jerico will be there for you to call on when someone needs spiritual answers, but you'll also have Doctor Dan to call on for people who need psychological help and the 'Teddy Bear Brigade' for those who need physical comfort." Dylan said carefully.
The door of the cabin opening drew everyone's attention.
* * * * *
As Lehman gently washed Kennon's hands with a damp towel, Kennon mumbled something that Lehman couldn't hear.
"What was that?" Lehman asked curiously.
"Bathroom." Kennon said in a mumble that Lehman wouldn't have understood without his earlier neural imprint from Rory.
"I'll call a nurse." Rory said automatically as he moved his wheelchair around the foot of Kennon's bed.
Lehman had caught a brief glimpse of Kennon's mind when he had touched him. One of the few things that he picked up from that brief contact was that Kennon absolutely hated using a bedpan. It made him feel even more helpless and humiliated.
"You don't have to Rory. I can help him." Lehman said as he looked down into Kennon's eyes.
"Are you sure?" Rory asked uncertainly.
"Well, I can't pick Kennon up and carry him, but I can help him into his wheelchair." Lehman said, doing his best to make it sound like it was no big deal.
Rory shrugged and said, "It's up to you, Kennon."
"Yeah. Thanks." Kennon whispered, as he looked at the duplicate of himself with appreciation.
"No problem. But I'll need to change a little bit first." Lehman said gently, as he altered his shape to that of Brakkii.
At Kennon's curious look, Lehman explained, "It's easier for me to hurt myself when I'm big, you know, like your size. I'm kind of all stretched out tight and it doesn't take much at all for me to strain my muscles. I'll be able to help you better like this."
After a moment of shifting Kennon around, Lehman was able to guide him down into the wheelchair without much difficulty at all.
"Okay. That was easy. But I might need help to get you back into your bed when you're done. I just *look* this big. I'm still only as strong as I am when I'm my own size." Lehman said as he watched Kennon maneuver his grossly twisted hand to the control of the wheelchair.
"Awake now." Kennon said seriously, then started moving the wheelchair toward the bathroom.
Lehman puzzled over the response as he moved to follow, then realized what Kennon meant.
"Oh, right. Since you're awake, you don't need to be in bed." Lehman said as he followed Kennon into the bathroom.
With a quick search of Rory and Kennon's memories, Lehman was able to figure out the easiest way to shift Kennon from the wheelchair to the toilet.
"I'll go see if Rory needs any help. Just call if you need me." Lehman said as he stopped to look Kennon in the eyes.
"Thank you." Kennon said with a grateful smile.
* * * * *
"I think that when your mom gets here, I'll go over to the Short Compound and see if I can talk to Xain." Lehman said from just outside the bathroom door.
"I don't know what you can say to him that I haven't already said, but go for it." Rory said in a tone of voice that betrayed the depth of his feelings.
"It really bothers you, doesn't it?" Lehman asked quietly.
"Yeah. Xain changed my whole life... he did the first neural alignment treatment which made me able to talk and use my hands again. He called and asked his father if there was any way to cure me." Rory said distantly, then looked Lehman in the eyes and said, "It's really hurting me to have to fight him like this. He's not just my clan brother, him and Jake are my saviors..."
"We'll work it out. I promise." Lehman said before going back into the bathroom to see if Kennon was finished.
* * * * *
"I found him." Trent said as he walked into the cabin, leading another boy about his same age.
"How are you doing, Teddy?" Dylan asked with concern.
"I touched forever." Teddy said distantly.
"Um, okay." Dylan said hesitantly as he looked around the room.
"Forever was sad. It was hurting..." Teddy said in a diminishing voice, like he was concentrating on something very far away.
"I'm sorry to hear that... Luke, do you think you can talk to Teddy and find out what's going on?" Dylan asked with concern.
"Jerico is better at this, but I'll try." Luke said cautiously.
"MURDERER!" Teddy screamed when he spotted Vincent.
Before anyone could react, Teddy lunged at Vincent and tried to grab him by the throat.
Vincent quickly dodged out of Teddy's way and fell into a defensive posture.
"DESTROYER OF WORLDS! MONSTER!" Teddy screamed as he lunged to attack again.
Uri was just barely able to grab hold of him before he got away.
Teddy was clawing at the air, trying desperately to reach Vincent.
The others in the room were finally past their shock enough that they were able to offer some help.
Devon and Mouse each grabbed one of Teddy's arms to prevent him from attacking again. Together they pulled him away from Vincent and effectively restrained him.
"You've got to stop him! He'll kill billions of people. Kill him now! KILL HIM!" Teddy screamed as he fought against their grasps.
Luke stepped forward and looked Teddy in the eyes as he said, "Relax Teddy. Calm down."
Teddy's expression became vacant as he stopped struggling.
"Come here Teddy. Sit with me." Luke said gently and held open his arms.
Teddy slowly walked to Luke and was pulled into an assuring hug.
After a moment of hugging, Luke shifted Teddy to his side and draped an arm over his shoulders.
Luke started to guide him back to the chairs as Teddy quietly said, "You've got to kill him."
"Shhhh... I know." Luke whispered as he sat down, then guided Teddy to sit on his knee.
"Sorry about that, Vincent." Dylan said to Vincent with regret, then leaned in to whisper, "Teddy has issues."
Vincent glanced across the room at the young boy who wanted to kill him and nodded.
* * * * *
"Well, I guess we've covered just about everything that we needed to." Dylan said as he walked back to take his seat.
Vincent looked at Dylan with question, still wondering why he had been invited to the meeting.
Dylan noticed Vincent's expression and smiled as he said, "Vincent. I don't know if anyone has told you how important you've been to the camp."
After a moment to process the words, Vincent slowly shook his head.
Dylan chuckled at Vincent's uncertain expression and said, "You've been our inspiration."
Vincent's eyes went wide at the statement.
"You're one of our brothers. Someone who is just like us. And you're out there in the universe making a difference." Devon said frankly.
Dylan nodded, then added, "Even though I don't know your whole story, I know that if you've been adopted by the Clan, then you've probably got the same excuses that the rest of us have to blame other people for your problems and pity yourself."
"But you haven't done that. You've risked your life to help others. You've been declared an adult and you've even gotten married." Simon said with a smile of admiration.
"The reason I wanted to talk to you about this now is because after everything that's happened in the past few days, the camp guys could probably use some inspiration." Dylan said as he looked Vincent in the eyes.
"Dylan has been sharing your letters with all of us, so we know about the things you've been doing and the people you've met." Mouse said in an uncharacteristic timid voice.
"So in a way, all of us have been right there with you, cheering you on." Luke added as he slowly rubbed Teddy's back to soothe him.
"When the guys start feeling like they are too young or too hurt or too powerless, Dylan tells us about what you've done and proves that we really can do stuff if we just don't give up." Jason K said, once again cuddled close to Dylan's chest.
Vincent considered the words, then said, "I think I felt that."
"Felt what?" Dylan asked as he absently petted Jason K's hair.
"While I was on the Yorktown... The whole time I've been out in space, I've always known that I had my brothers back here on Earth... watching me." Vincent said slowly, then looked up with realization and said, "I wanted you to be proud of me."
Dylan chuckled and said, "We are proud of you, Vincent. And part of the reason we've been working so hard to prepare for the day that the Clan would need us is so that when you came back, you could be proud of us."
"Proud? Try amazed." Vincent said as he looked around the group, "I didn't have any idea you guys were organized like this... but I guess I should have known."
At the curious looks from around the room, Vincent continued, "I've been telling the people on my ship about you guys. I told them that you're all my brothers and you're just like me... I should have known that you weren't all sitting around waiting for 'someday' to happen."
"Thanks, Vincent. That really means a lot to us." Dylan said with an honest smile.
Nods of agreement went around the room.
"I think you guys are really amazing. I've been on the Yorktown, learning how to be a Starfleet officer. I've had people who've let me know what was expected and helped me with advice and stuff. From the way it looks, you guys did this all by yourselves. No one told you what to do or how. You just did it. That takes some guts." Vincent said as he looked around the group.
"Well, Saint Mikey did kind of let us know that there was something that we needed to do." Devon hesitantly admitted.
"Saint Mikey again, huh? It seems like he's involved in a lot of the things going on right now." Vincent said as he looked around the room.
"Yeah, But that would make sense. He's the patron saint of gay and abandoned youth." Luke said in a reasonable and self-assured voice.
"So he's working to make things turn out the best for the most people." Mouse continued, and it appeared to Vincent that Mouse was used to completing Luke's statements. Although they looked completely different, they behaved almost like twins.
"I know it's a lot to take on faith, Vincent. It took a while before I really accepted it." Dylan said honestly.
"But the good thing is, you don't have to believe or have faith or anything like that for it to work." Luke said frankly.
"Guys, hold up. You don't have to try to convince me. I'm already on board with you." Vincent said with a chuckle.
At the curious looks, Vincent continued, "If you would have asked me about it before I left Earth, I would have said that I don't believe in God. I didn't know it back then, but the problem was that the only God I ever heard about was the one my father believed in; the God who told him that he was supposed to hate and beat his gay son."
Silence fell over the room at Vincent's words.
"I've had a lot of time in the past few weeks to think about what I do and don't believe. What I've figured out is that it doesn't matter what my 'logical' mind thinks about it. In my heart I know that the Great Spirit exists and gives us the choices and the chances to grow into something better than we are." Vincent said passionately.
"So you believe in Native American Shamanism?" Luke asked cautiously.
"Maybe." Vincent said with a shrug, then continued, "I believe in what I feel is true. What I've learned about the Great Spirit so far seems true to me, so I keep believing it."
"I might try something like that." Luke said in consideration, then continued, "Maybe it'll be enough to believe in 'something'."
"It's working for me so far." Vincent said with a smile.
"So Vincent, if I can arrange a meeting for the camp guys, will you say a few words?" Dylan asked hopefully.
Before answering, Vincent looked around at all the expectant faces.
He remembered back to the day that he received his promotion and how reluctant he was to get up on stage.
"Vincent, it comes with the job. Sometimes you have to do things like this." Joe had said to him, letting him know that there are times when it's important to put your own discomfort aside for the benefit of others.
"Yeah. But I'm not real good at talking to people." Vincent finally said as he looked at Dylan apologetically.
"You won't be talking to people, you'll be talking to family." Dylan said with a smile of assurance. Vincent could easily see why Dylan was made the leader of this group. From his optimistic attitude and casual demeanor, nothing seemed impossible.
Vincent slowly nodded, hoping that Dylan was right and it really was that simple.
"Where are you going to be staying so I can let you know when I have it all set up?" Dylan asked as he shifted Jason K slightly on his lap to be more comfortable.
"I really don't know yet, maybe at my brother's house. Or I might be at Rory's boyfriend's house... I'm not sure where that is." Vincent said reluctantly.
"Clan Short Headquarters can contact me at any time." Ship's voice said from Vincent's bracelet.
"Thank you Ship." Vincent said into his bracelet, then said to Dylan, "Just have Clan Headquarters tell Ship and he'll pass the message on to me."
"Sure..." Dylan said hesitantly as he looked at Vincent with concern.
"What's wrong?" Vincent asked curiously.
"You don't have anyplace that you call home, do you?" Dylan asked quietly.
"The Yorktown, sort of. But no place on Earth, not really." Vincent admitted shyly.
"You do now." Devon said in a firm voice that drew everyone's attention.
Dylan nodded and said, "That's right. You're our brother and you have a home with us. Here at Camp Little Eagle. Here in Cabin One."
Vincent thought for a moment, then said, "Thanks."
"Whenever you're on Earth, you've always got a place here with us." Simon said seriously.
"There's two of us... well, maybe three. I don't know if Lindon... I mean Xandor is going to need a place to stay." Vincent said uncomfortably.
"Xandor will be staying with his cousin. The arrangements have already been made." Ship said frankly.
"Thank you Ship." Vincent said quietly, then he looked around the group and continued, "Someday T'Lani and I are going to find a place that we'll call home. I don't know if that'll be on Vulcan or Earth, or maybe even someplace else. But until we find our home together, my home is here with my brothers."
"Good." Dylan said with satisfaction.
"I need to get back to Lehman now. This is his first trip to Earth and I don't want to leave him on his own for too long." Vincent said as he looked around the collection of boys in the room.
"Lehman, the guy who can change himself to look like you?" Dylan asked curiously.
"Yeah. I meant to tell you about him on the way over here." Vincent said with a smile.
"If you need to go, I'll walk you back to the medical center." Dylan said, then looked at Jason K and asked, "Do you want to stay here for a while?"
Jason K looked over at Teddy with concern, then up at Dylan and said, "I'd really like to go with you if that's okay."
"Of course it's okay. I don't think we have anything else planned before lunch time." Dylan said with a smile at the younger boy.
"Is Teddy going to be okay?" Jason K asked quietly.
Dylan looked over at Luke who was still holding Teddy and talking to him gently.
"Yeah. I think he'll be fine." Dylan said, then offered his hand.
Jason K took hold of Dylan's hand, then looked at Vincent with question.
* * * * *
As Vincent walked out of the cabin, the warmth of the sunlight on his face caught his attention.
The gentle caress of a breeze ghosted over his skin and caused him to stop in his tracks.
"Is something wrong?" Dylan asked as he walked to Vincent's side.
After a moment to consider what he was feeling, Vincent responded, "No. Nothing's wrong. I just... I guess I didn't realize how much I missed being on Earth."
Dylan looked at Vincent with question at the unusual statement.
"It's not important. Just seeing real sunlight and feeling a breeze is kind of nice. I didn't even know I was missing things like that." Vincent said in a tone of voice that was both thoughtful and somewhat longing.
"I never even thought about that. From the way you talk in your letters, being in space is all fun and exciting. But I guess anytime you're away from home, you're gonna miss stuff." Dylan said as he hugged Jason K to his side a little tighter.
Something in Dylan's words and body language made Vincent consider for a moment.
"Are you missing your home?" Vincent finally asked.
Dylan's eye went wide with surprise at the question.
"I mean, just from the way you talk, I figure you aren't from Florida. You sound like you're probably from Chicago or some place like that." Vincent hurried to explain.
Dylan broke into a reluctant smile and said, "Well, at least you didn't say China."
"Why would I say something like that?" Vincent asked in a bewildered tone.
Dylan actually laughed at the question, then said, "Because I'm Chinese."
"Nice try at changing the subject." Vincent said with a roll of his eyes, then continued, "Do you miss wherever you're from?"
"I am from Chicago. And yeah, I guess I do miss it a little. But having Jake around is making that easier." Dylan said with a contented look.
"Good. And it's not like I'm real bad homesick or anything like that. It just surprised me when I felt the sun and the wind... I didn't even know I was missing that stuff." Vincent finished with a distant expression in his eyes.
"Got it. Let's get going and check on your friend." Dylan said with a smile.
"Right. His name is Lehman. Do you remember the email I sent you about when I met 'The Holy One'..."
* * * * *
Movement from the doorway drew everyone's attention.
Rory had been expecting his mother to arrive with lunch, but his expression fell when he saw Xain leading a younger boy into the room.
"Levi, may I introduce my cousin, Kennon." Xain said formally, then in a slightly urging tone, continued, "Given the abilities that you possess, I assume that you will be able to alleviate some of his symptoms or perhaps even cure his condition."
Levi looked around the room and smiled when his gaze fixed on Lehman, who was still in Brakkii's form.
"Hi Uncle Lehman. How do you like Earth so far?" Levi asked happily, seeming not to have heard Xain's question at all.
"I really don't know yet. I haven't had the chance to see much of it." Lehman answered as he broke into a grin at Levi's carefree nature.
"You look funny like that. Why don't you just be yourself?" Levi asked curiously.
Lehman couldn't resist the charm of the young Mikyvis and immediately shrank back into his resting form, looking like Vincent again.
"Can you be of assistance to my cousin?" Xain asked seriously, seemingly unphased by Lehman's transformation.
"Sure. If he wants me to." Levi said as he took a step closer to Kennon.
"No. You can't." Rory said as he moved his wheelchair to prevent Levi from getting any closer.
Levi looked at Rory curiously, then back at Xain with question.
"Rory believes that it would be preferable for my cousin to remain in this incapacitated state." Xain said without inflection.
Levi turned to look at Rory again and asked, "You want Kennon to suffer?"
"No. But if you do something to help him, it might invalidate the experimental treatments that he's receiving. If that happens, then Solak will have to start all over again with someone else and it might take years before he can prove that his treatment works." Rory said desperately.
Levi saw the sincerity in Rory's expression, then turned to look at Xain curiously.
"To ease distress is logical." Xain said simply.
"You're not going to do it, are you, Levi?" Lehman asked with concern.
"Do you think I shouldn't?" Levi asked in return.
"I think that if Kennon is willing to wait just a little bit longer, a whole lot of people will be a lot better off because of it." Lehman said frankly.
Levi looked at Xain and asked, "What do you think about that, Uncle Xain?"
"If you are able to ease Kennon's distress, you should do so. To do otherwise is to cause him unnecessary suffering." Xain said seriously.
"Uncle Rory, would you please move so I can talk to Kennon?" Levi asked gently.
"Please, Levi, please don't invalidate Solak's work." Rory begged.
Levi moved to Rory's side and gave him a firm hug, then whispered into his ear, "I'm just going to talk to him."
Rory returned the hug briefly, then moved his wheelchair so he wasn't blocking Levi's way.
"I know you heard all that, Kennon. So can you tell me what you think?" Levi asked curiously.
"Who are you?" Kennon asked in a garbled mumble.
Levi obviously didn't have any trouble understanding what he was saying and replied, "I'm Levi Richardson and I'm a Mikyvis."
"What's that?" Kennon asked curiously.
"It's kind of a long story. If you was someone else, I'd just give you the answer in your head by telepathy, but I don't want to cause any problems for you later." Levi said seriously.
At Kennon's inquiring look, Levi continued, "I'm a Mikyvis. That means I can do all kinds of really kewl stuff like move through time and dimensions and stuff like that."
"Time?" Kennon asked to confirm that he had heard right.
"Yeah. Kewl, huh?" Levi said with a grin.
"Can you see if what Rory believes is true? If I stay like this, will it help other people?" Kennon asked, working harder than he ever had before to say the words clearly enough to be understood.
Levi's gaze became distant for a moment as he looked at Kennon, then he seemed to come to a decision.
"Not only will other people be helped, but the treatment will become available in time to save three lives that wouldn't have a chance to continue living any other way." Levi said quietly.
"Then I'll stay like I am." Kennon said as he looked Levi in the eyes.
Levi smiled at Kennon, then leaned over the arm of his wheelchair to give him a great big hug.
Lehman looked at the scene with a smile, but then a thought occurred to him.
As Lehman was about to open his mouth to ask, he heard Levi's voice in his head. //Yeah, I did know all about Kennon's choice before I ever came in here. I wouldn't have done it.//
//Then why did you go through all of this?// Lehman asked curiously, strangely at ease with Levi's form of telepathy.
//Because Xain couldn't accept 'no' as an answer any other way. He had to see that the treatments are necessary and that Kennon really did choose this for himself.// Levi said seriously.
//Thank you, Levi. Do you think that this happening is going to cause problems for Xain and Rory in the future?// Lehman asked with concern.
//No. I know it won't.// Levi said with a smile as he emerged from his hug with Kennon.
"My goodness. There are a lot of you in here. I'm afraid I didn't bring enough food for everyone."
All the boys turned to see Rory's mother pushing a cart of food into the room.
"That's okay, Aunt Doris, me and Xain are going to have lunch over at the Short Compound." Levi said as he walked to Xain's side.
"Yeah, and I should try to find Vincent." Lehman said uncertainly as he turned to leave.
"Three." Levi said as he pointed at the door.
* * * * *
Vincent walked into the room to find Levi pointing at him and everyone else staring.
"What?" Vincent asked self consciously.
"Levi was just showing off." Lehman said with a chuckle as he hurried to Vincent's side, then noticed that Dylan and Jason K were just behind him in the hallway.
"Rory and Kennon are about to have lunch so it's time for us to go." Levi said, then an instant later he and Xain were gone.
After a moment for the surprise of their abrupt disappearance to wear off, Lehman asked, "Does that mean it's time for you to eat again?"
"No. It's still a little early, I think." Vincent said as he put one arm around Lehman, then he turned slightly and said, "Have a good lunch, we'll see you guys later."
"Bye Vincent... and thanks Lehman." Rory said quickly.
"Thanks." Kennon said with an expression of pure gratitude directed at Lehman.
A smile and a nod were Lehman's response before Vincent guided him out into the hall.
* * * * *
"Lunch isn't for another hour or so." Dylan said cautiously, not knowing if he was intruding on their conversation.
"Right, an hour. That's what my stomach is telling me too." Vincent said with a grin.
"Oh. Okay. So what do we need to do next?" Lehman asked as he looked at Vincent seriously.
Vincent looked at Dylan with question and received a nod in response before Dylan hurried away with Jason K still holding on to his side.
"What was that all about?" Lehman asked cautiously.
"Since we're on Earth, how would you like to see some of it?" Vincent asked with a happy smile.
"Um, sure. But don't we need to be doing... you know, Trach Manja stuff?" Lehman asked uncertainly.
"Nope. The Trach Manja stuff always seems to find us when we're not looking for it. Besides, I think it would be nice to have a look around Camp Little Eagle. We only stopped here for a few minutes when I was here before, I haven't really got to see much of it yet. Dylan said he wants to get someone who knows the history to show us around." Vincent said cheerfully.
Lehman thought for a moment, then said, "Yeah. Okay. Seeing some of your world sounds nice."
* * * * *
"Are you guys ready to see the camp?" Dylan asked with Jason K now walking at his side.
"Yeah. Did you find who you were looking for?"? Vincent asked curiously.
Dylan motioned for Vincent and Lehman to walk with him, then said, "Yeah. He's going to meet us at the center of the camp."
As the boys walked outside again, Vincent smiled and enjoyed the feeling of the warmth of the sun on his face.
"From the way Vincent described your planet, I thought it would be warmer here." Lehman said casually as they walked.
"It's warmer in the summer. Right now it's fall, so it's getting cooler." Vincent explained.
"Oh yeah. I remember getting something from you about your world having 'seasons'." Lehman said in thought.
"Your planet doesn't have seasons?" Dylan asked curiously.
"No. At least not like yours. The second planet in our system does, but not the world that I grew up on. The only variations in climate on my world come from the elliptical orbit. Each year we have a brief period of heat that signals the end of one year and the beginning of the next." Lehman explained, then noticed that they seemed to be approaching an elderly man in front of a crude tent.
"Welcome back Vincent. I am glad that you have come home to us."
"Thank you Chief Tecumseh, I'd like for you to meet my new brother, Lehman." Vincent said respectfully.
"The Great Spirit honors us with your presence Lehman. Please be welcomed." Chief Tecumseh said reverently.
"Um, thanks. I don't really know too much about your world, but I like this place. It's nice." Lehman said uncertainly, not really knowing the proper way to address Chief Tecumseh.
"Dylan mentioned that you are not of this world. It would be my privilege to show you our camp." Chief Tecumseh said in a slow, dignified voice.
"That sounds nice. But you don't have to treat me like I'm someone special. I'm just Vincent's brother." Lehman said shyly.
Chief Tecumseh smiled at the statement, then said, "All the children of the Great Spirit are special. But those who embrace his gifts and follow his path are even more so. I have a sense that you already know that and have begun to walk that path."
Lehman reflected on the fact that he had been given the choice to give up his destiny as a Trach Manja and had chosen to take the more difficult path.
Before he could respond, Chief Tecumseh gestured toward the tent before them and said, "This is the center of Camp Little Eagle. It is our heart, our beginning."
"What is it?" Vincent asked as he finally took a good look at the tent before them.
At first glance the tent had seemed to be a temporary structure to Vincent, but now that he really looked at it, he could see that it had been made to last.
"This is where we held the ceremony to dedicate the camp. All ceremonies of significance to the Camp are held here." Chief Tecumseh said, then gestured for the group to walk with him.
"What's inside of it?" Vincent asked curiously.
"Those things which are held sacred to us." Chief Tecumseh said as he led the group away from the tent.
Vincent thought about the response for a moment, then quietly asked, "Totems?"
Chief Tecumseh looked at Vincent with surprise at the question, then said, "Yes. That is correct."
Vincent nodded, seemingly content with the answer.
"So we're not allowed to go in there?" Lehman asked Vincent in a whisper.
After a moment to consider, Vincent quietly responded, "I'm betting that if we went in there, we wouldn't understand what we were looking at. A totem is something sacred to you, but it may just look like a piece of junk to someone who doesn't understand what it means."
When Vincent noticed that Chief Tecumseh had been listening, he hurried to explain, "I wasn't saying that your totems are junk or anything like that..."
"I understand what you were saying, and you are quite correct. Please tell me though, how is it that you know of our customs?" Chief Tecumseh asked as he stopped in front of a large building.
"Lieutenant Walking Bear on the Yorktown told me some stuff about totems, since then I've picked up some different stuff that seemed to make sense to me." Vincent said and finished with a shrug.
"I was going to show you the administration building next, but I feel that there is something else you should see first." Chief Tecumseh said as he started walking off in a different direction.
"Trach Manja stuff?" Lehman asked as they hurried to follow Chief Tecumseh across the camp.
"No. I don't think so. I get the feeling that this is something else." Vincent said distantly.
"That's the art building." Jason K said as it became apparent which building they were traveling toward.
"Jason, would you be so kind as to locate Obadiah and ask him to join us?" Chief Tecumseh asked as they continued walking.
"He's probably still in Cabin One." Dylan said quietly.
"I'll be right back." Jason K said, then took off running toward Cabin One, which was only a short distance away.
* * * * *
As the group walked into the empty classroom, Vincent noticed that it wasn't like most other art classrooms that he had been in.
Although there were the typical collection of finger paintings and drawings, there were also a variety of other items that seemed to be out of place.
"Look at this." Lehman said as he indicated a large pottery bowl that had been hand painted.
As Vincent got closer, he could see that someone had taken the time and care to hand etch the Clan Short crest into the clay.
"This is beautiful." Lehman said in a whisper.
"This is what I'm working on, it's going to be a present for Jake." Dylan said from the other side of the room.
Vincent and Lehman walked over to see Dylan holding a piece of silver that looked like a coin.
"What is it?" Vincent asked as he examined the intricate design that was in the process of being cut out of the metal.
"It's going to be a necklace." Dylan said proudly.
"No. I mean, what's the design? That's not the Clan Short crest." Vincent asked curiously.
"That's the crest of the Clan Short Diplomatic Corps. Jake and his brothers are all part of that Division." Dylan said frankly.
"And you said that you're part of the Support and Recovery division, right?" Vincent asked in confirmation.
"Yeah. As of yesterday. We don't have our own crest yet, but I figure that we'll work that out later, when everything else calms down." Dylan said frankly.
"Did you need me for something?" Obie asked as he rushed into the classroom with Jason K at his side.
"Yes Obadiah. I recall that last week you asked an unusual question of me. I have a feeling that the Great Spirit has provided your answer." Chief Tecumseh said cryptically.
Obie looked around the room and his gaze fixed on Vincent.
"You may proceed." Chief Tecumseh encouraged.
Obie stared for a moment longer, then walked to a large cabinet of drawers.
He opened one drawer and was obviously looking for something.
"What's going on?" Lehman asked Jason K curiously.
A shrug was Jason K's only answer.
"Vincent, I made this for you." Obie said shyly as he walked away from the drawer carrying a small piece of leather in his hands.
"You made something for me?" Vincent asked cautiously.
Vincent accepted the small leather pouch from Obie and looked it over curiously.
Small red, white and black beads had been sown onto the rawhide leather with great care. The pattern wasn't anything more elaborate than a zig-zag? but the time and care that it took to stitch every bead in place was clear to see.
"Last week Obadiah was inspired to create a medicine bag, but when it was complete, he didn't know who it was for. He came to me and asked who was in need of such a thing." Chief Tecumseh said as he took a step closer to Vincent's side.
"This is great, but how did you know?" Vincent asked as he finally looked up from the medicine bag.
"Chief Tecumseh says that the Great Spirit shows me the things that his braves will need." Obie said shyly.
After a moment to consider the response, Vincent smiled and said, "That's a wonderful gift to have. Thank you Obie. I even have something to put in it."
"I put a few things in there too, but you don't have to keep them if you don't want to." Obie said timidly.
"I know that the things in your medicine bag are supposed to be private, but would it be okay if I looked at what's inside now?" Vincent asked Obie quietly, then looked at Chief Tecumseh with question, not wanting to offend him by going against his beliefs.
"I believe that this once it would be acceptable, since you weren't the one to assemble the totems." Chief Tecumseh said gently.
Vincent walked to the nearest table and reverently sat down the medicine bag.
Lehman, Dylan and Jason K took seats surrounding him as Obie and Chief Tecumseh stood behind Vincent.
"It's a rock." Vincent said as he took a rather common looking stone from the pouch.
"Yeah." Obie said quietly.
"I don't get what it's supposed to mean." Vincent said as he turned to look at Obie.
"I didn't know who I was making this for, but now that I know it's you, I guess that's like carrying a piece of the Earth with you while you're out in space." Obie said timidly.
Vincent looked at the rock again and nodded his agreement with the reasoning.
"Thanks. I think that when I'm far away, this will be really nice to have." Vincent said, then reached into the pouch again.
"A seed?" Vincent asked cautiously.
"Yeah. It's an orange seed." Obie said with a smile.
After a moment to consider, Vincent shook his head and said, "I don't get it. You'll have to tell me."
"If you give that seed the things it needs, it will grow into an orange tree and someday it will make oranges with lots more seeds." Obie said seriously, then in a quieter voice, he continued, "It's life."
"Wow." Vincent said as he looked at the small seed on the table in front of him.
"I don't understand what you're doing." Lehman said cautiously, not wanting to offend anyone, but feeling that it was important that he understand what he was witnessing.
Chief Tecumseh put his hand on Lehman's shoulder as he said, "It is difficult to describe the role of a totem. They can be a focus for meditation, a source of strength, an inspiration or even a good luck charm."
Vincent felt around inside the pouch and made sure there was nothing else.
"It needs one more thing." Obie said quietly.
"What's that?" Vincent asked as he looked at Obie curiously.
"The earth and the life need to be balanced. I think you need something man-made to show that part of your life... except that I couldn't think of anything for that." Obie said shyly.
"That's okay. I've got it covered." Vincent said as he unfolded the jumpsuit uniform that he had been carrying all morning.
Lehman already knew what he was going to see.
Vincent took one of the couplers out of his uniform pocket and placed it on the table beside the seed and the rock.
"So let me see if I'm getting this right." Lehman said in prelude, "You're going to carry this pouch with these three things in it because they bring you luck?"
"Sure. You can look at it that way if you want. This little rock represents my world, no matter where I go, I'm taking a piece of the Earth with me. The seed represents life, I mean, what could be more lucky than carrying a spark of life with you? And the coupler represents my work, Starfleet and all of that. Plus it reminds me to be prepared."
"In time you will find other totems that you will want to carry with you and add them to your medicine bag." Chief Tecumseh said seriously.
"Yeah." Vincent said as he reverently put the three items into the pouch.
"Maybe I should have something like that." Lehman said quietly.
"Perhaps you will someday soon. It is possible that you are here witnessing these events so you will understand the significance of a totem when one is provided to you." Chief Tecumseh said frankly.
Lehman nodded as he noticed that Vincent was folding his pouch into his jumpsuit uniform.
"I love these Soleen-Avalla robes, but they don't have pockets." Vincent explained at Lehman's questioning gaze.
"When you return to the ship, we will add pockets if you would like." Ship said seriously.
Vincent smiled and said, "Thank you Ship. You guys have done so much to help us out already that I hate to ask for more... but pockets would be good."
"If we have no other business here, perhaps you would like to continue our tour of the camp." Chief Tecumseh said as he gestured toward the door.
"What about the other thing?" Dylan asked the Chief in an urging tone.
"Make your arrangements. If it is meant to be so, it will be so." Chief Tecumseh said seriously, then motioned for the group to follow him out the door.
Editor's Notes:?? This was quite a busy chapter.? It looks like with Vincent and Levi helping, Xain has accepted the logic that Kennon really does need to wait to be healed.? "The needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few", being important.
Vincent has learned that he has a home and a family on Earth, and all the guys at Camp Little Eagle really respect him and look to him for guidance.
Everyone has learned that there is still much to learn.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher