Based on the Star Trek LB Universe created by Winter in her story Follow the Stars Home, and yes, I have borrowed a few tidbits from other LB fics. I hope no one minds!

Joy, you don't know how much I appreciate all that you do! Happy birthday!

“Don’t wanna,” JD said stubbornly.

“Well, I’m afraid you have to, young man.” Commander Wilmington’s Voice of Authority was not working.

“A bath is not logical,” Vin stated. “We will just get dirty again.”

Wilmington looked at the little Vulcan. Circumstance had denied Vin his true Vulcan heritage - from what they had been able to piece together, he had been raised as a human - but he was more than happy to call upon it when the need suited him.

Buck sighed. Three days ago, Josiah and Nathan had finished constructing a playground for the two youngest members of the Regulator’s crew in the ship's hydroponics deck.

The hydroponics deck, in the Regulator’s case, was misnamed, for both the Counselor and the Doctor felt that only true, fertile soil could yield produce that was both nutritious and tasty. There was no sound scientific evidence for that belief, but, it was a true fact that some of the best food to be found anywhere in the Four Corners sector came right out of the galley of the USS Regulator. Of course, the cook, Petty Officer First Class Potter - aka “Miz Potter” to the boys - probably had a lot to do with that. Their replicator was rarely used.

The Regulator's hydroponics deck was a true garden, with real soil from earth, and together, Commander Sanchez and Dr. Jackson grew almost every earth vegetable imaginable, and there were also a dozen fruit trees. Now, it also included a sandbox and a sturdy set of playground equipment. The boys had not wanted to leave it.

“Unca ‘siah said we could pick begables,” JD whined.

Wilmington raised an eyebrow at the ship’s counselor. So, it was “Uncle” now.

“I don’t like begables,” Vin stated. “That’s because I’m a carnival.”

“Carnivore,” Dr. Jackson corrected. “And Chris did not mean that literally.”

“No changing the subject,” Wilmington asserted authoritatively. “Baths!”

The little Vulcan saw there was no point in arguing, so he didn’t. JD, however, groaned as if he were in pain as he put down the garden shovel he had been using.

It was then that Buck noticed that the boys were not just playing with the dirt. They had constructed a miniature city from the set of construction blocks Ezra had procured for them from God only knew where. There were roads, tunnels, mountains and rivers (thanks to a diverted stream from one of the hydrating units). Wilmington wondered if anyone had noticed they were using broccoli for trees.

“That’s a good job you’ve done there,” he commented.

JD grinned. Vin only nodded sagely. The Vulcan child rarely smiled, and the men were at odds as to whether or not they should encourage him to do so.

“We’re terraforming,” Vin informed him.

“Yeah, terror foaming,” JD echoed. “We are making a whole planet… When we‘re done, can we get some little people for it?”


“Yes. Balajras would be good,” Vin said.

The Balajran race were the smallest humanoids known, most small enough to fit in the average man’s coffee mug. However, they were more highly advanced that eighty percent of the civilizations in Federation, and Wilmington sincerely doubted that they wanted to be playthings.

“Well, maybe we’ll find you some toy robots that look like people.”

JD loved that idea. “YES! Robots! We can program them to have wars and blow each other up!”

Vin glared at him. “Then we would have no more robots, JD.”

“Oh. I didn't think of that,” the younger boy admitted.

“We’ll talk about all this later. You boys need to have a bath and some supper and then Chief Wells is going to stay with you in your quarters for a few hours.

Vin frowned. “Why?”

The adults on the crew never lied to the boys - the Regulator was their home, and they had a right to know what was going on.

“We are having some special company, important beings called ambassadors.”

“We want to come, too!” JD said. He loved meeting new people.

Vin nodded.

“I’m afraid you would just be bored.”

Wilmington knew that he sure as hell would be. The only reason the Regulator had been chosen to host a conference between the Federation and the newly-discovered Gyban race was that even though he was now semi-retired, Commander Josiah Sanchez was still recognized as one of the foremost First Contact negotiators in the Federation. The Gybans had not yet achieved even basic atmospheric flight, but the forced emergency landing of a Star Fleet freighter had acquainted them with the fact that they were not the center of the universe. They were still coming to grips with the fact.

In a corner of the deck towered an Aloak nut tree which was now dropping its treasured baseball-sized fruit. Aloak nuts were renowned for their exquisite flavor and silky, buttery texture. Unfortunately, nothing short of a blast from a phaser would open the damn things. There was ample evidence everywhere that the boys had been trying, though. The nuts were all over the sandbox and floor.

“I’ll tell Miz Nettie to blast open a couple of nuts for you, if you’re good.”

“Can we have brownies, too?” Vin asked.

The boy would live on sugar if he could.

Buck gently tousled his hair. The little guy was somewhat gun-shy about being touched. “I think that can be arranged.”

“With chocolate ice cream and chocolate sprinkles and choc…”

“We’ll see,” Buck interrupted the menu planning. Vin adored chocolate. He wanted Ezra to program the replicator to make everything taste like it. “Baths!” he reiterated. “That’s an order.”

Both boys snapped to attention as they had been taught and saluted smartly. Buck had found he could get them to do almost anything if he made it appear to be their 'mission.'

In the security briefing room, which was actually the Regulators wardroom/dining hall, Captain Chris Larabee was pacing nervously in his dress uniform. God, he hated these things.

It was bad enough that the Gyban were a newly discovered race, accidentally contaminated in contradiction to the Prime Directive. But, to add to it, they were a violent, mistrusting people who still waged war on each other over petty differences - in other words, uncomfortably human.

He sighed. The Gyban had made it clear that even though Federation technology outstripped their own by, oh, maybe four centuries, they were not to be intimidated. They had almost killed and dissected the crew of the freighter Dixie, who had only escaped after offering them their cargo of recreation equipment. The Gyban had no clue what most of the stuff was for, but true to their basic humaniod-ness, they wanted it. All of it.

It had taken major cajoling to get them to agree to a neutral location for the meeting, and they had balked severely at the idea of coming aboard a Federation ship.

Gyban was a numbingly flat world. Back at the dawn of time, a little chunk of astral goop had been hurled into space, spinning at unfathomable speed, until it had cooled into a perfect ball. Unlike Earth and many other Class M planets, it had cooled completely, all the way to its core, so there were no geologic upheavals to create features such as mountains and canyons. All of its water was trapped below the surface and in the humid atmosphere. It was a survivable world, but an exceeding boring and featureless one. The Gyban could not conceive of the concept of volcanoes, or oceans, or hurricanes - the very ideas terrified them. But adding to their fear of these odd creatures that had recently fallen from their sky at their feet was the fact that they seemed to have no actual conceptualization of “up.” Their buildings were all dug exactly 4 feet into the ground. They had no stairs, no ladders, and in fact could not even stand upright in their own structures.

The idea of beaming aboard a starship was incomprehensible to them.

They were fast learners, though, and when one of the Dixie’s crew had expressed astonishment at their magnificent gemstones, they had quickly seen a way to turn their Close Encounter to their advantage.

The secret to creating the gems was one the Gybans carefully guarded, but the beauty of the stones was undeniable. Lieutenant Commander Ezra Standish, the Regulator’s supply officer and Chief of Protocol, had beamed down to the planet for the purpose of finalizing preparations for the summit, and had traded his galactically expensive timuk leather boots for one of them. The stones varied in size, color, translucence, and texture, according to Ezra, but upon close examination, the one he had returned with was found to be quite remarkable indeed. For one thing, even though they were shaped and polished by hand, they were symmetrical down to a micron. They also were imbued with their own gravity and an odd magnetic field with six poles. It had been immediately surmised that they would be perfectly suited for use in several Federation technologies. Yes, there was big money to be had here.

The Gyban ambassador would be arriving last, and it had been his crew’s job to see that the Federation representatives were briefed on what to expect.

Commander Sanchez had made a point of telling them that the Gyban by and large remained unimpressed by the glory that was The Federation. They lacked technologic advancement, but in Old West fashion, when all else failed, they let their weapons do the talking. Dr. Jackson had discreetly observed their physical constitution and had ascertained that though they were basically hominids, they possessed several distinct features common to arthropods. They had six limbs, the two extra ones endowed with razor sharp pincers similar to a crab or lobster. There were three distinct sexes - the third possessing the actual brood pouch in which the fertilized product of the other two matured. Unfortunately, there were no apparent external features to enable one to tell one sex from the other, and they had no idea what the Gyban representative was, so they would prudently address him/her/other by the title “Ambassador” although they had agreed to refer to the being in question as “he” until they were informed otherwise.

The banquet table - for it had been determined that the Gyban loved to eat - was laid out with a sumptuous selection of goodies from all over the Federation, or, at least, those which had been determined to be non-poisonous to the guests in attendance. The Federation big shots were already there, including Fleet Admiral Orin Travis, his Secretary of Protocol and daughter-in-law, Lieutenant Mary Travis, the Federation Trade Board representative, a weasly character named Conklin, the self-appointed Four Corners Sector Superintendent - another weasly character named Guy Royale, and the Sector Treaty Negotiator, a crook named Stuart James. There was to be a Federation Ambassador there, also. Chris didn’t know anything about her, other than she was a Vulcan, but she was probably an asshole, too.

Only Ezra wasn’t worried. His brief dealings with the Gyban had given ample indication that they were impervious to bullshit.

Chris paused in mid-pace when he noticed a mop of jet-black hair and two big hazel eyes peering over the edge of the dining table. Directly behind it was a shock of brown curls with the tip of a delicate little Vulcan ear poking through and two equally big blue eyes.

What the hell…

“What are you boys doing here?” he whispered, trying not to sound too stern. “I thought you were with Chief Nettie.” At least they had both been scrubbed free of mud and dressed in clean uniforms, he observed gratefully.

“There was a system failure and she had to go fix it,” Vin explained.

Chief Nettie Wells was not a babysitter, even though she willingly looked after the boys on occasions such as this. She was actually the Regulator’s environmental systems technician, which caused Larabee to frown. “What kind of system failure?” he asked suspiciously.

Vin looked down sheepishly.


“I just wanted to see if I could do it,” the little Vulcan offered by way of an explanation.

“Do what?” Chris was almost afraid to ask. Both boys were insatiably curious, and too smart for their own good.

“Chief Koje said the Injuns used to rub sticks together to make fire, so I got some sticks…”

Chris held up his hand. He didn’t want to hear the rest. “You boys can’t stay here. This is for grown-ups, now…”

“Well, well, what have we here?” Admiral Travis’ voice boomed.

Aw hell.

“You must be the young gentlemen Captain Larabee and Commander Wilmington have told me so much about.”

JD beamed upon hearing that. Vin, however was suspicious of anyone he didn’t know.

“Who are you?” he asked pointedly.

Chris intervened. “Vin, this is Fleet Admiral Travis. He’s the one who gave us permission for you to live on the ship.”

“A waste of Federation revenue if you ask me,” Conklin interjected. “We don’t outfit starships so they can be turned into nurseries.” He sipped smuggly at his drink.

“This is Mr. Conklin,” Chris introduced the sour diplomat.

To his horror, JD rushed up and poked Conklin on the backside.

“What the…” Conklin’s brows knitted in anger.

“I jus’ wanted to see how ya’ felt,” JD explained.

When that got a puzzled frown from the adults, the boy cheerfully elaborated, “Cap’n Chris said you ain’t nothing’ but a big bag of hot air!”

The face Conklin made defied description, whereupon Vin innocently inquired, “Which half of your head contains the brain?”

“WILMINGTON!” Chris snapped into his comm badge.

“He’s talkin’ to Lieutenant Travis,” JD explained.

Vin nodded. “Yes, he’s trying to score. I don’t know what game they are playing, though.”

Chris felt his head begin to throb as he wondered who he could call to come and fetch the two little boys before they triggered an intergalactic war. Petty Officer Potter was busy with the meal, and he didn’t want to know what Chief Wells was having to repair.

Naturally, the Federation Ambassador would choose that moment to make her entrance.

The little boys made no move to leave - having not actually been told to do so by anyone - as Ambassador T’Pong was introduced.

Not to be left out, JD shouldered his way through the adults and held out his hand with the fingers separated in a traditional Vulcan greeting. “Live long an’ perspire,” he said. “I’m JD. You can take your coat off if you want.”

The Vulcan eyed the little boy sternly but patiently. “Why would I want to do that?”

“My unca Ezra said you are one hot lady.”

Admiral Travis choked on his drink. Larabee found himself wondering how hard it would be to get away with killing his crew.

Luckily, the Ambassador either didn’t understand the remark, or, more likely, chose to ignore it.

Vin, however, did not escape her notice. “Come here,” she commanded the little boy.

It never occurred to Vin to disobey - something else the men were undecided on how to handle. Sometimes, he was too good.

He stepped forward and tried to conceal his fear. Sadly, the little guy trusted no one.

“This is a Vulcan child!” she spoke accusingly to no one in particular. “What is he doing here?”

Chris explained briefly how they had found the two little boys alone and starving on a hostile planet where their shuttle had apparently crashed, killing everyone but them. The boys claimed they were cousins, but genetic tests had determined that Vin was indeed the Vulcan he appeared to be while JD’s genetic make up was largely human. Both boys did share a few strands of Romulan DNA, but it was less than four percent, meaning their common relative went back at least 5 generations. Both boys had been entered in a Federation data base for missing persons, but, no one had come forward to claim either of them.

“A Vulcan child belongs among Vulcans,” the Ambassador lectured. “This situation,” she gestured at the ship around her, “is unacceptable.”

“I like it here,” Vin said, all trace of his normal reserve gone.

“Vulcans do not ‘like’ - they accept or they comply. Anything else is not logical.”

Vin was clearly confused by the Vulcan ethnobabble. He looked at Chris, who reassured him by smoothing his soft curls.

The uncomfortable moment was interrupted by the boatswain’s whistle and bells announcing the arrival of the Gyban Ambassador.

Chris squatted down and put a hand on each boy’s shoulder. “You guys really do have to leave now. This is just for grown-ups, okay? It’s your duty to stay out of the way, clear?”

“Crystal!” both boys answered, and much to Chris’s relief, scampered out of the dining hall.

Everything had quickly gone from bad, to worse, to hell in a handcart.

It had started with the grand entrance of the Gyban ambassador. The man was tall and dignified, but had the misfortune to be wearing a head-dress that appeared to be made from certain items purloined from the Dixie. In particular, they were tennis balls, in several different colors. His head was covered with them. And around his neck, he wore a garland of fishing lures.

By a miraculous feat of will and composure, Jackson and Sanchez managed to greet him with a straight face. Wilmington and Standish however, had found the need to abruptly excuse themselves so that they could collapse in hysterical laughter in the corridor outside the dining hall.

The actual diplomats were trained in such situations and accepted it nonchalantly, and fortunately, T’Pong apparently didn’t even know what a tennis ball was, although reflecting upon this, Larabee wondered if she knew about ping t’pong balls and abruptly, he had to join Standish and Wilmington. Sometimes, you just had to laugh.

By the time the three officers had composed themselves, the meal and the negotiations had gotten underway without them.

The Gyban Ambassador had brought a gift to present to the Federation. It was an ornately carved hexagonal box that contained seven Gyban gemstones. They were breathtaking in their beauty, uniform in size, but each with its own unique color and hue. The Gyban made a point of noting how valuable they were, although Ezra had seen that they turned them out by the hundreds and apparently didn’t actually use them for anything. He had to admire the creature’s business sense, although at some uncomfortable level, he was reminded of his mother.

Later, they had retired to the conference hall to begin negotiations. The Gybans demands were simple: Give them anything they wanted, including Federation technology, Prime directive be damned, and in return, they’d supply the Federation with as many gemstones as they felt like.

Things really deteriorated when the Gyban asked T’Pong if she had eggs ripe for mating, and her reply had been a Vulcan death-stare, which while not actually lethal, had resulted in an abrupt halt to the proceedings.

Commander Sanchez called for a much-needed break and the participants retired to the dining hall for refreshments. Larabee had just enough time to reach for a cup of blue Yenchan custard when the Gyban emitted a sound that could only be described as a cross between a shriek and sonic boom.

The gemstones were gone.

The Regulator had no security force per se, other than the 6 Marines who had accompanied the diplomats. Larabee was momentarily at a loss for how to pursue the theft. The Gyban, however, had brought his own security force, and they immediately cordoned off the room and began a search of everyone’s personal items and clothing.

Indignant protests rang out from every corner of the large room and the Marines quickly drew their phasers to intervene. And just as quickly, the Gybans grabbed the weapons in their vice-like pincers and cut them in half.

Convinced the thief had escaped to somewhere else on the ship, the Gyban instructed his soldiers to keep everyone barricaded in the dining hall and then set off on his own to search for his missing treasure.

Larabee was left to wonder why it was important to him to find it, being as how he had already given it away, but if he had wanted a job understanding alien thought processes, he would have been a counselor instead of a Captain.

Besides, he knew that Chief Wells had probably gone to the nearest security monitor the moment she had detected something was amiss. Every stateroom on the Regulator had an escape route other than the door. The dining hall, in fact, had several, and it was only a few moments before Wells activated them.

The Gybans - and everyone else - stared on in disbelief as one by one, the officers of the Regulator disappeared from the room.

Nettie rushed towards them. “He’s on the hydroponics deck. He’s sealed himself in!”

Chris was about to breathe a sigh of relief - the worst thing the Gyban could do on the hydroponics deck was eat all of the fruit and get a good case of the trots. But, Nettie’s face told him there was more to it than that.

“Vin and JD are in there, too,” she said quietly.

Chris and Buck moved instantly in the direction of they hydroponics deck. Standish, Sanchez and Jackson followed hot on their heels. If that creature hurt the boys, the Regulator’s crew would turn its entire planet into a flat, boring, smoking cinder and gladly spend the rest of their lives in the brig for it.

Chief Nettie sealed the corridors behind them as they went so that they would not be followed.

Chris cursed when the entry to the hydroponics deck failed to respond to his manual override. Nettie had needed to disconnect the system to work on it, and now she was frantically trying to restore it to working order.

Chris wanted to pound on the door, but he dared not do anything that might anger the Gyban or frighten the boys.

All he could do was wait the tortuous minutes while Chief Wells worked feverishly to reroute circuits and establish critical connections.

From inside, they could hear the boys high pitched voices, but could not tell if they were crying or screaming or simply yelling at their captor. The men knew the little guys would stand up and fight for themselves, and it could cost them dearly.

“HURRY UP, WELLS!” Larabee shouted with a harshness that was uncharacteristic even for him.

Wells ignored his outburst and a few seconds later, the door to the hydroponics deck slid open.

The lights were turned out, but even so, the men gaped dumbstruck at the sight before them.

Above the boys’ sandbox city, the seven gemstones hovered in mid-air, their six-point magnetic fields enabling them to repell one another with just enough force to maintain their delicate balance.

Each stone glowed with a soft luminescence and emitted a distinctly musical hum that harmonized with that of the other stones.

It was an absolutely astonishing, wonderous sight, but even more astonishing was the sight of the Gyban Ambassador sitting calmly on the floor with a boy on either side, enjoying the light show as his dual pincers easily cracked one impossibly hard Aloak nut after another. Both boys held a nutmeat in each hand and had a pile in front of them.

“Buck! Look! Our world has MOONS!” JD exclaimed.

Chris tried to sound stern. “Where did you get those?”

Vin and JD looked at each other.

“We was just borrowin’ them,” Vin said. “We was gonna bring ‘em back.”

The Gyban dropped a nut - whole - into his mouth. “These are most excellent,” he said, his apparent earlier rage now completely forgotten. “And your hatchlings,” he sighed, “such sweet and precious treasures.”

“We ain’t hatchlings,” JD laughed. “We’re kids!”

Ezra smiled. He’d forgotten to mention that the Gyban, for all their faults, were devoted to their offspring, unpleasant looking slug-like little creatures that they were.

Chris stepped forward. “You have my personal apology, Ambassador. They boys didn’t know any better.”

The Gyban moved his 4 upper appendages in a very close approximation of a shrug. “Your young are very charming. They should be indulged whenever possible.”

“Yeah!” JD nodded eagerly.

The Ambassador rose and patted each boy affectionately before walking towards Larabee.

Anticipating him, the Captain held up his hands. “I will pay for the stones. I assure you…”

“You can’t afford them,” the Gyban scoffed somewhat derisively. “And I can get more.”

Larabee breathed a sigh of relief.

“I’m taking the nut tree, though,” the Ambassador said, and motioned for his newly-arrived bodyguards to confiscate the plant.

Nathan and Josiah weren’t going to like that. The Aloak tree had cost a pretty chunk of latinum. But, they could get another one, one way or another.

And, all things considered, one tree was a comparitively small and easy price to pay for interplanetary good will… and a box full of moons.