Dark Vacation: Chapter 2

Dark Vacation

Chapter Two

By AC Fan, & Jeff P.,  CSU Productions


For full disclaimer and Copyright information visit The CSU Copyright / Disclaimer Page. Continuation of viewing this document is deemed acceptance of all terms on the preceding link.



From the authors of:
Memories & Sentenced to Life


This chapter is actually a bridge between chapters in both of the afore mentioned stories. In our own way, proving to our readers and even to readers of GFD that this truly is a small world, or universe as the case may be. The idea spawned shortly after Comicality voiced his desire to design a place to become home to fan created work of what we think could be one of the most powerful stories on the web. Once that home was obtained, and Comsie had his team to take the wheel, we started this tribute. Pending the approval of Comicality and his Archivist, we are proud to bring you a Clan Short “Dark Vacation”.



Before Cory could respond, Kyle joined them. “Relax Cor; it looks like Ark dropped us in Shedds. I’ve not been here in ages; lets check out the new exhibits while we are here. I know that Timmy, CD, and Calen will love it.”


“What about … ?” Cory began to ask.


Kyle smiled as he interrupted. “He can wait. Right now there are sharks to check out! Chill bro; we’ve got time.”


Cory glanced at Danny for help. Danny giggled at Cory’s expression. “I’m on their side! Just roll with it Cory; it’s kid time.”


Cory finally grinned. “I guess so; lets go guys!”


As a group, the boys headed over to the glass wall which separated them from the shark tank. Almost immediately, a baby zebra shark came over to where they were standing with its mother. As they were admiring the sharks, CD giggled. “Look down Pop; you gotta friend under you.”


Sean glanced down to find a stingray swimming around directly under his feet. “Wow; this is awesome! We’re walking on the water!”


They explored the room; enjoying the chance to see the sharks in a natural habitat. Once they had seen everything they could at least twice, they wandered around and checked out the other exhibits. After about five hours of exploring, they finally decided to head out into daylight. They turned north and headed into the park alongside Lake Michigan. They stopped and stared out over the lake, entranced by the peacefulness of the waves crashing into the shoreline.


Sean put his arm around Cory’s waist. “This is awesome.” he whispered.


Cory leaned his head so it rested on Sean’s. “Yeah. I guess it really is a good thing that Ark put us here. I love you babe.”


“I love you too.” Sean purred.


Danny pointed to the north. “Guys, I think thats Navy Pier up there. Lets go check it out.”


Sean gave a huge grin. “Yeah; I’ve wanted to see it for forever!” He looked around and added “I think that trail goes up there.”


Cory looked around and noticed a sign. “That says it’s ‘Lakefront Trail’; I guess it might go that way.”


They slowly started heading up the trail, taking in the sights and making plans as they went. After about two hours they came to the Chicago river and entered the walkway going underneath the bridge. As they exited the tunnel, they came to a stop as they got their first view down the length of Navy Pier. Calen pointed down the pier. “Dad! Pop! Can we ride the ferris wheel?”


Cory stuck his hand in his pocket. “One second son.” He then switched to subvocal. ‘Ark; I think it might help if we had some money here. I can’t use my credit card without being traced and we used the last of my cash back at the aquarium.’


<Then we shall have to fix that problem. Give me a second.> A few seconds later a wad of cash appeared in Cory’s pocket. <Do not spend that all in one place. If you need more then ask. Just do not ask where I am borrowing it from.>


Cory grinned. ‘Thanks Ark’ he mouthed. He looked around to make sure that nobody was watching, then pulled the roll of bills out of his pocket. “JR, JJ, Sean, Danny; let’s split this up.” Cory’s eyes went wide as he looked at the three inch roll of bills and realized they were all fifties. He quickly split the money five ways and the boys shoved it in their pockets before anyone could see.


As they headed toward the pier, the smell of shrimp cooking assaulted their noses. JR ‘s stomach growled loudly just as he commented “I don’ know ’bout y’all, but I’m getting hungry.”


Danny chuckled. “So we hear! That does smell good though.”


JR took the lead and they followed their noses to the source of the aroma. Shortly they found themselves at the entry to the ‘Bubba Gump Shrimp Company’. They all broke out in huge grins as they walked inside and waited for a seat. The waitress came up and smiled as she addressed them. “Hey sweeties! Are your parents on their way?”


Once Danny stopped laughing, he replied. “Parents?? Aww Mann! Cory, it was YOUR turn to keep track of them!”


Cory slapped Sean playfully. “I told ya to remind me!”


Sean looked over at JR. “JR, have you seen them?”


JR shook his head. “Last I saw they were in South Carolina. Jamie, have you seen ‘em.”


Jamie shook his head. “Nope; Jacob and I had kid watch, remember? What about you Caleb?”


“I was catching up on sleep! Jeeze! Thats what you get for putting Cory in charge of something!” Caleb snickered. “Calen, did you see them?”


Calen shook his head. “You’re weird.”


Danny started to look at CD to get him involved. CD frowned “Don’t even think about it goofball.”


Timmy looked around at all of them in confusion. “What are y’all talkin’ ’bout? Pop’s right there!” he announced before pointing at Sean and beginning to giggle.


Danny smiled at the confused waitress as he stifled his laughter. “Sorry about that; we couldn’t resist. Seriously, our parents hate seafood so they gave us some cash and headed over to Charlie’s Ale House.”


The waitress shook her head. “If you guys are always like this I’ll bet they just needed a strong drink! If you promise to keep it down, I’ve got a table towards the back that you can use.”


Cory smiled. “We’ll be quiet. You don’t know how much trouble we’ll get in if we cause problems in here. The back actually sounds good.”


“Okay; follow me.” the waitress replied as she turned and grabbed a pile of menus. She guided the boys to their table and passed out menus once they were all seated. “I hate to sound like I don’t trust you, but what kind of limit did your parents set for your meal?”


Danny reached into his pocket and pulled out four bills. “This should pretty much cover it; but if we go over let me know and I will cover it out of the spending cash they gave us.”


The waitress looked down at the four bills Danny was holding low enough to keep out of view of the surrounding tables. When she saw that there were four $50.00 bills in his hand she nodded. “That should cover it. What would you guys like to drink?”


Cory glanced at the menu and said “I’d like to try a ‘Lotsa Lava’.” Sean nodded as he said “That sounds good; I’ll try one too.”


Timmy pointed at the menu in front of him. “Can I have this one? It looks good!”


Cory looked over. “A PB&J smoothie? Sure munchkin.”


CD and Calen both announced at the same time “I want a Cookie Crumb smoothie!”


Caleb grinned at Danny as he asked for coffee.


Danny groaned “That poor coffee!” as Caleb giggled softly. When Danny saw the waitress’s confused look he expanded on his comment. “That boy murders coffee with all the junk he puts in it!”


She smiled at Danny’s obvious disgust. “I’m glad it’s not me. What will you have?”


Danny smiled. “Coffee; and unlike him I don’t want mine so thick with stuff that you can chew it!”


That made the waitress giggle. “Not a problem.” She turned to the twins, and asked them for their choices.


Jamie replied first. “I think we’ll both try …”


Jacob giggled as he added “… the Run …”


Jamie: “… Forest …”


“… Run.” Jacob finished as both dissolved into giggles.


The waitress gave them a knowing grin. “That’s so cute! You two are adorable.”


Jamie and Jacob turned beet red as they tried to make themselves as small as possible.


Kyle stifled his giggles enough to comment. “You asked for it bros! Ma’am; could I please have an Iced Tea?”


The waitress ruffled Kyle’s hair. “Sure thing cutie.”


Kyle giggled at the attention as she turned to JR. “And what will you have sir?”


JR smiled. “I’d like an Iced Tea too, please Ma’am. Sweet tea if you have it.”


The waitress nodded with a smile. “I’ll see what we can do. I’ll be right back with your drinks and will take your orders as soon as you are ready.”


About fifteen minutes later, Danny looked up from the Shrimper’s Net Catch appetizer he was just finishing. “Hey Kyle; there’s a kid sitting a couple of tables behind you that’s been sitting there by himself. He’s been crying on and off since we got here; you think you can see if anything is wrong?”


Kyle shook his head. “Not a good idea yet, Danny. I’m still adjusting to the stuff Tyne taught me. Maybe the twins could do it.”


“For some reason we can’t get a lock on him.” Jamie replied with a confused look.


Danny nodded as he noticed the kid’s foot sticking out into the aisle. “Only one way to find out then.” He grinned as he looked around the table, deciding to pick up his glass of water with an evil grin. “The old fashioned way.” He added earning an amused grin from Kyle as he stood up, and headed towards the young boy’s table.


Danny walked as if he was going somewhere past the other table. As he passed the kid, he ‘accidentally’ tripped over the kid’s foot and ‘spilled’ the water on the front of his own shirt.


“I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to trip you!” the kid exclaimed as fresh tears started rolling down his face.


“It was my fault.” Danny replied. “Can I borrow some napkins?”


The boy slid as far away from Danny as he could. “Yeah.” he replied as he cringed.


“This was definitely my fault dude; relax.” Danny commented as he started patting his shirt dry. “I really need to watch where I’m going. Can I sit down?”


The boy just nodded as he still kept his distance from Danny.


“What’s your name?” Danny asked with a smile.


“Daniel.” the boy replied in a small voice.


“No way!” Danny replied.


“Uh huh.”


“My name’s Danny!” Danny exclaimed with a smile.


“Uh uh.” Daniel replied in disbelief.


Just then, Danny heard Jamie pushing a thought into his head. ‘All we can tell is he’s not as old as he looks.’


“Yes it is!” Danny replied. In his head, he replied to Jamie. ‘Ohhh, that changes things. Plan B; send Timmy over.’


“Nuh uh!” Daniel replied.


Timmy came running over. As soon as he saw Danny he started giggling. “You’re all wet Unca’ Danny!”


“Yeah, thanks munchkin; I noticed that.” Danny replied. He turned to Daniel. “This is my nephew Timmy. Timmy, this is Daniel.”


“No way!” Timmy exclaimed as he looked at Daniel. As soon as he noticed Daniel’s face his tone softened. “You’ve been cryin’.” Timmy then held out the stuffed shrimp that he had got earlier. “My Daddy got this ‘cuz it made me feel good; do you want it so that you feel better?”


Daniel’s eyes brightened as he wiped his tears. “Really? For me?”


Timmy slid in and cuddled up to Daniel’s side as he handed the stuffed shrimp to him. “You need this more than I do.”


Danny looked at the empty tabletop. “Daniel; are you waiting for somebody?”


Daniel looked up from inspecting the stuffed shrimp. “Yeah; Mommy and Daddy told me to get a table and wait for them. They’ve never took this long before.”


Danny cocked his head. “Why don’t you come over and sit with us while you are waiting?”


Before anything could be said Timmy grinned and wrapped his arms around Daniel. “Yeah! Pweezzee! I wanna in’roduce my new friend to ALLLL my brothers!!! C’mon Daniel!”


“But they said if I move I’ll be in big trouble.” Daniel replied with a dejected look.


“Don’t worry Daniel, I’ll talk to your parents for you … when they show up.” Danny replied.


Daniel looked between Timmy and Danny a few times then made his choice. “Promise? They’ll yell at me; I don’t want them to yell at me again.”


“I promise.” Danny replied as he held out his hand. “We’ll look out for you.”


Daniel slid out with Timmy glued to his side. He took Danny’s hand and followed meekly as Danny led them back to the rest of the boys.


It was obvious the twins had kept everyone else filled in. Cory led the group as they all stood to welcome Daniel. “Hi Daniel; I’m Cory. I see you’ve made Timmy’s ‘cuddle list’. Look out; once you’re on it you never have to worry about someone to cuddle with ever again.”


Timmy stuck out his tongue at Cory then giggled. “I’ll get you later!”


Sean noticed Daniel’s confused look. “Don’t worry about it Daniel; if Timmy likes you it means you are a good person. I’m Sean by the way.”


Kyle stepped forward. “Nice to meet you Daniel.” he said as he held out his hand.


Daniel took Kyle’s hand and gave it a weak shake. Kyle got a momentary look of surprise on his face, then tilted his head before smiling. “You can relax Daniel; nobody’s gonna yell at you ever again.”


Daniel gave Kyle a small smile then waited as he was introduced to the rest of the boys. He took a seat between Timmy and Kyle and looked around the table in wonder. “Go ahead and pick something out to eat and drink; I’m buying.” Danny announced.


“I’m not allowed to pick out my food.” Daniel stated simply.


“Now you are.” Kyle replied as he opened a menu and leaned over to go over it with Daniel. “Tell me what looks good, we’ll get it for you.”


“Really?” Daniel said in awe as he began scanning the entire menu happily.


“Really.” Kyle replied as he put an arm over Daniel’s shoulder.


Once Daniel had picked out his order, Kyle flipped the license plate on the table over to indicate they needed service. He then leaned over to Daniel and whispered “No matter what you hear anyone say to the waitress just agree with them. We’re gonna tell a few fibs so that nobody gets in trouble. I’ll explain it to you later.”


Daniel nodded his head as he leaned into Kyle’s snuggle. Just as he got comfortable the waitress came over. She noticed Daniel sitting there and gave Danny a questioning look.


Danny smiled. “I think Daniel’s parents got sidetracked. He’s staying in the room next to me at our hotel, so we invited him over to eat with us. If they don’t make it by the time we’re done we’ll let him come with us and leave a message for them that we’ll meet them at the hotel later.”


The waitress stared at Danny in thought then replied. “I guess that will be okay. All week they’ve been sending him in to get a table then showing up afterwards. I was starting to get worried. What will you have sweetie?”


Daniel grinned as he pointed to a picture on the menu. “I want the ribs!” he announced happily.


She nodded and noted it down. “You want your usual drink?”


Daniel shook his head. “I want what he’s got.” he replied as he pointed at Timmy’s drink.


“One PB&J smoothie coming up!” she replied with a smile. “I’ll tell them to hurry up so all of the orders come up at the same time.”


As she flipped the license plate over and headed off to enter the additional order, Jamie got Kyle’s attention. “Hey Kyle; you need to get in my head. We just found out something.”


Kyle nodded and paused what he was doing for a second. He scowled and gave Daniel a squeeze. “Mentally report to Cory and Danny. That stops right now; I can’t allow it.”


Cory gave Kyle a puzzled look then sat back as the information from the twins flooded into his head. “Daniel is 14 yrs. old but according to the doctors is mentally only eight or nine. His parents told him this morning ‘You’re too much trouble to take care of; you are worthless and were never wanted to begin with.” He’s teased by the neighborhood kids and is constantly picked on with no intervention by any responsible adults. His parents would tell him “get away kid, you’re bothering me” when Daniel asked them why nobody liked him. He always ended up going to his room crying. All he’s got to talk to is a big stuffed yellow duck he calls ‘Howard’. He had very few toys to play with and a small TV to watch. Daniel’s lonely. He just wants someone to love him, cuddle him,and talk to him; someone that will let him know that he is wanted and is important. He wants friends and brothers or sisters who won’t make fun of him but who will play with him and let him know that he is important and worth getting to know and love. He was fed and clothed only because his parents were afraid of going to jail if they didn’t.” The thought stream paused before the twins continued. “I know we are undercover right now to protect you guys; but we gotta do something to help him.”


“SHA.” Cory muttered so only those at the table could hear.


Kyle nodded as he replied. “Mine Cor.”


Kyle glanced over at Daniel and saw his puzzled look. “I’ll explain later when we’re munching on pizza and watching TV, okay?”


Daniel gave a huge grin. “Okay!”


An hour later, the boys finally finished eating and began preparing to leave. Cory nodded his head down to hide his actions as he mouthed for the subvocal “Ark, can you please get me the phone number for the Chicago Police youth division?”


<Of course Cory, just be careful not to give yourself away. Let me know when and I’ll give you the number.>


“Go ahead any time, Ark. I’m gonna put John Martin’s name as a contact name; since he is Federation Security he should be a safe decoy.” Cory mouthed.


<Very well, that will be fine. The number you want is 312-747-8385.>


“Thanks Ark.” Cory replied as he wrote the number down. He then added as an afterthought “How hard would it be to rescue Daniel’s stuffed duck from his old home so he has it when we get to the hotel?”


<Stuffed duck? I assume this is a yellow stuffed duck, am I correct?>


Cory giggled softly. “Yep, I think that’s the one.”


<I have it in the teleport buffer now, later when you have lodging I will give it to you.>


“Really! Sweet, thanks Ark. That didn’t take long.”


<That is the advantage of being me as well as listening to your conversations.>


Cory got serious as he replied. “I’m glad you are listening in. Any time you have a suggestion please let me know. It will make me feel a lot better knowing that you are there to give me advice when I’m having to guess at what the right thing to do is. Even if I don’t agree totally with you all the time, I will still consider your input before I make a choice.”


<If you need the help then you know that I will help you. But input is all I will ever give you, advice is all I have to offer, for the difference between right and wrong is your choice and yours alone. You are their Patriarch, you are their guidance, just always choose wisely. You will always have all of us to give you help if you need it though.>


“That’s more than I had before.” Cory replied. “It takes a lot of pressure off knowing that I have someone I can trust who has seen a lot more than I have though. Thank you to you and the rest of the guys.”


<You are most welcome. Now good luck, I will be here listening if you need me again.>


“Thanks; I’ll need it!” Cory replied before looking up. “Okay guys; we’ve got a pier to conquer! Lets hit it!”


Danny tossed a fifty on the table as they left to pay their bill. As the rest of the boys raided the gift shop again, Danny settled up the bill and left the note Cory had written. He joined the rest of the crew and picked out something for himself and Marc, then they all headed out to investigate what else the pier had to offer.


Just after nightfall, they all gathered near the anchor at the end of the pier. Danny looked around and giggled when he saw that just about everyone in the group was carrying a teddy bear.


Daniel held his up proudly. “Danny! Look what Timmy made for me!”


Danny looked closely at the teddy bear that Daniel was holding up. “Oh wow; that’s cool. He must really like you!”


Daniel’s grin got even bigger at hearing Danny’s approval. “I like him too!”


Timmy tugged on Danny’s arm. “Unca Danny?”


“Yeah munchkin?” Danny replied as he looked down.


“Unca Marc is gonna fix Joey ain’t he?” Timmy asked seriously.


“Of course Timmy; Joey’s gonna be as good as new.” Danny replied.


“Can you hold this? I made it ‘specially for Joey.” Timmy asked as he held up one of the two bears in his arms.


Danny looked at the bear and gave a small smile. “One blue eye and one green eye.” he whispered. “He’s gonna love it munchkin. Is the other one for you?”


Timmy shook his head. “No; it’s for Matty. I got Ricky to cuddle with.”


“Maybe I should get one.” Danny replied with a smile.


“Why? You got Unca Marc to cuddle.” Timmy replied innocently.


Caleb busted out laughing. “I told ya so, bro!” he managed to squeak out.


Danny rolled his eyes. “You guys are impossible!” he groaned as the rest of the group softly giggled.


As a group, they looked out over the lake from the railing; all of their stress melting away at the soothing sounds of the waves lapping against the pilings of the pier. About fifteen minutes later, Jamie and Jacob got strange looks on their faces and looked over their shoulders. Sitting on the Anchor was an extremely hot kid of about 14; he appeared to have reddish-brown hair that just about covered his cheekbones when it was not being displaced by the unseasonably warm breeze. The boy turned his head towards Jamie and Jacob, and for a split second the moonlight caught in his eyes and revealed an unnatural deep green that set off his flawless features.


‘Don’t try to read Kyle; it’ll mess up your head!’ Jamie pushed towards the stranger in thought. The boy smiled in response and nodded his head; acknowledging the advice.


The rest of the boys turned to see what had distracted the twins. Kyle tilted his head for a moment as he concentrated, then a small smile came across his face. He broke away from the group and walked up to the stranger, pulling him into a hug. “Relax.” Kyle said softly. “Your secret is safe with us; I can see that you are really a good person. If you ever need us I know you know how to find us. That goes for your family too. Once we are alone I’ll fill in the guys who are not ‘readers’ so that they will know to help you if you ever need it.”


The boy looked down at the eight-year-old hugging him. “You don’t know what that means.” he replied softly.


Cory joined the pair as they were talking. “Trust me dude; he knows. Kyle is one in a trillion; by now he knows more about you than you do. If he says you have our support, then you have it.”


The boy looked around the group. his gaze stopping on Sean. Suddenly his eyes got wide for a second, then he recovered and just nodded. “I guess you do know. Thanks guys.”


The boy joined the rest of the group looking out over the water for a few more minutes, then gave each boy a quick hug before slipping off into the darkness of the pier. They gave him a chance to disappear gracefully before they turned and started heading up the pier. As they reached the ferris wheel, Kyle pulled them off to the side. “Guys; have you noticed that some of the people on the Pier have been paying a lot of attention to us?”


Cory nodded his head. “Yeah; whats up with that?”


Kyle smiled. “Sean and Danny know if they think about it. Even you should be able to figure it out bro. That story that you three have been reading on the Shack wasn’t a story; it was actual Scripture.”


Cory, Sean and Danny all looked at each other in shock. Sean was the first to speak. “Danny? You’ve been surfing the Shack? Dooooode! You shoulda said something!”


Danny giggled. “Hey! I had to have something to do while Marc was forcing me to stay out of the lab!”


Cory shook his head. “You guys can discuss favorite sites later. Kyle, are you saying …?”


Kyle nodded. “Yeah. GFD is for real.”


Sean and Danny’s smiles dropped from their faces. “You mean I was just hugged by …?” Sean whispered; unable to say the name.


Kyle nodded. “Yes Sean; that was him.”


They were distracted by Timmy kneeling down and clucking to a seagull who had landed nearby. A few seconds later Timmy screwed up his face then stood up. “Poppa, I think seagulls are blond. All they’ll talk about is food!”


“TIMMY!” Cory exclaimed as the rest of the group broke out in laughter. “Watch it, munchkin.”


Timmy giggled. “Sorry Daddy.” he exclaimed as he wrapped his arms around Cory’s legs. “You’re a smart blond.”


Daniel and JR got Kyle’s attention. “What are you talking about Kyle?” Daniel asked.


Kyle looked Daniel in the eye. “The kid who hugged you was a good vampire. There are a bunch of them walking around here.”


Everyone fell silent as Kyle’s words sunk in. Daniel tilted his head then smiled. “He was sad and needed a hug. We made him feel happier. I don’t feel anyone wanting to hurt me, so they gotta be all okay.”


JR glanced between Kyle and Daniel. “Y’all gotta teach me howta get inna peoples heads like that! I sure know I ain’t gonna tell noone to bite me until we’s back down home! Daddy always said these dang Yankees were bloodsuckers!”


Cory laughed. “Chill, Johnny Reb; you’re in enemy territory!”


JR stuck out his tongue at Cory. Cory just laughed. “Thanks for the offer dude; but I’m taken! Sean might get pissed if I take you up on that!”


JR turned beet red as he realized how Cory was taking his actions. Daniel giggled and pulled JR into a hug. “You’re goofy Cory!”


As the boys finally left the pier, Cory looked around and noticed a motel a couple of blocks north. “Guys, let’s get some rooms then find some dinner.” he announced.


Danny looked to where Cory was gazing. “Dude; that’s the West Chicago Lakeshore! I know we can afford it, but there ain’t no way they’re gonna let a bunch of kids check in there! I’ve heard about that place; it’s supposed to be sweeet!”


Cory thought for a second. ‘Ark, I have an idea’ he mouthed.


<Go ahead Cory.>


Cory continued the conversation on his subvocal. ‘Most hotels require an adult to check in. If I use my Starfleet ID that should get us in, but we would need you to intercept their verification and respond as if you were the Federation’s computer. We’ll probably have to show a credit card too; can you figure out a way to cover that?’


<The hotel in question uses the telephone network for verification. You may proceed with checking in; I will ensure your identity remains hidden.>


Cory smiled. ‘Thanks Ark.’


A few minutes later, the boys found themselves in the lobby of the W Chicago Lakeshore. Cory took out his Starfleet ID and laid it on the desk. The clerk looked at the group before picking up Cory’s ID and looking it over closely. “I will be right back.” the clerk stated as he took the ID into the back room. A minute later, he returned and handed the card back to Cory after triple-checking the picture matched Cory. “I’m sorry about the delay, Sir. I’m sure you understand that due to your age additional verification was required. How may we help you?”


Cory smiled. “That’s okay; at least you handled it professionally. We would like two adjoining suites for two nights if possible.”


The clerk nodded. “I’m sure you understand that we will require a major credit card to provide those accommodations.”


Cory extracted his credit card and passed it to the clerk. “I am sure you will find this suitable.” he replied.


A minute later; the clerk handed the card back to Cory with a receipt to sign. “You are all set, Sir. Please sign here.”


Cory signed the receipt, then dug in his pocket and retrieved a pair of fifty dollar bills that he passed back with the hotel’s copy. “Thank you; my brothers and I are on a PRIVATE vacation.”


The clerk smiled as the money disappeared into his pocket. “Understood Sir; discretion will be observed. The bellboy will show you to your suites; do you have any additional baggage?”


Cory smiled. “We have arranged for our baggage to be delivered once we are in our rooms. Thank you Sir.”


“You are very welcome. Enjoy your stay in Chicago Sir.”


Cory smiled and nodded as he turned and led his group behind the bellboy to the elevators. A few minutes later, they exited on the 32nd floor and were shown to their suites. Once the bellboy was assured they were satisfied with the rooms and received his tip from Cory, he left them alone to settle in.


Cory looked around and then mouthed ‘Ark, could you please make sure these rooms are secure? I’ve heard of hotels having video and audio taps in rooms for security purposes.’


<I anticipated your request Cory. The only monitoring devices are in the hallway. The signal to the hotel’s digital storage device will appear to be corrupted so no record of your presence here will be maintained. There are no audio monitoring devices present. On another subject, I believe Daniel would be interested in the contents of the closet in the east bedroom. You will find a subvocal device in the top drawer in the same room. I took the liberty of providing everyone with suitable clothing for the area you are in; Daniel’s clothing selection was unacceptable so I provided his clothes from the Clan’s emergency supply.>


“Thanks Ark. There’s no way we’d pull this off without you; I owe you one!” Cory replied as he relaxed his defenses. “Guys, Ark says we’re secure. Daniel; could you come with me? I think there’s something in the bedroom that might belong to you.”


Daniel gave Cory a curious look before standing up and following him. A few seconds later, everyone heard a joyous shout. “Howard?? HOWARD!!!!!” Daniel came running out of the bedroom with a big grin on his face clutching a huge yellow duck in his arms. Once he had shown everyone that he had his one prized possession back, he hopped into a chair holding the well-worn duck securely.


Danny watched as Timmy, CD, and Calen piled into the chair with Daniel and created a big cuddle pile. “That’s the way to welcome him, guys.” he whispered.


Cory turned to Sean. “Looks like room service time; you wanna take care of orders while I try to get this subvocal on Daniel?”


Sean nodded. “Sure hon; I’ll even try to keep it under a thousand dollars! Caleb, you mind giving me a hand?”


Caleb grinned as he looked up from the video game menu. “Sure; after we eat though I’m gonna whip your butt at some of these games!”

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