"Due to his recent criminal actions, most seriously driving without a license while underage, destroying property, reckless driving and evading arrest, the juvenile named James Tiberius Kirk, will be remanded into state custody until he has shown evidence of rehabilitation. His sentence is to serve one year in the Colony Outreach Program, after which his behavior and mental state will be evaluated to determine if his rehabilitation was successful."

"Legal guardianship is remanded to the state of Iowa at this time. An appeal to retain guardianship made be made by his biological mother when she returns planet side. No appeal will be allowed until that time."

Winona Kirk was staring numbly at the transmission, as though by doing so she could somehow change the contents.

Winona had requested a leave of absence as soon as Frank called her with the news. George had run away and had still not been found, while Jim had for some reason stolen his father's antique car and driven it off a cliff, in the process evading arrest by an officer and nearly getting killed. Apparently when authorities had arrived at their home, they had found Frank inebriated and her 15 year old son George Jr. missing, and had immediately taken James into temporary custody. She would be back on Earth within four days, but Jim had already been sentenced to enter a juvenile offender program and even if custody was returned to her when she reached Earth, she wouldn't be able to see her son for at least a year. The Colony Outreach program could take him to any colony in the galaxy for rehabilitation, and she would not be made aware which one in the monthly updates from his caseworker.

Her youngest son had never been in trouble in his short life. George Jr. was the defiant one, the son who challenged she and Frank at every turn, and merited constant calls from his teachers. Jimmy was the good son who made top grades and outscored any testing standard he was given. He was quieter than his brother, more serious and studious, but quick to charm those who gave him a hard time. She couldn't imagine what had happened at the farm that day to have caused him to have done something so reckless, and now she wouldn't be able to ask him about it until a year later.

Winona Kirk put her face down on the desk and let herself cry, wondering what her youngest son was feeling, wherever he was.

Across the galaxy, James T. Kirk was feeling more frightened than he ever had in his admittedly sheltered experience.

He was on a transport with a group of 50 other young men, some younger than him but most older. He was wearing work clothing that had been issued to him, and carrying a backpack that contained changes of clothing, a flashlight, and a small padd unit that had been disabled to allow the reading and sending of educational documents only. He had been informed he would be allowed an monthly transmission with his social worker, and no contact with family members. Technically, his mother did not even have legal custody at this time.

Shivering despite the heat, surrounded by strangers, Jim found himself wishing he had just let Frank sell the damned car. In even greater retrospect, he realized that when George left he should have made a collect transmission to his mother informing her that Frank was planning to sell his father's antique vehicle and that Sam had run away due to this. Even across the universe, he knew she would have found a way to diffuse the situation.

Now, the car was destroyed anyway, his mother didn't know why and who knew where his brother was. And even though Jim had always wished he could go to space he hadn't particularly wanted to visit some backwater colony. Now he had no choice in the matter.

Cradling his head in his arms, Jim Kirk let himself sob as quietly as possible. The last thing he needed was the other boys thinking he was weak. ad already realized he was one of the youngest J.O.'s in this program, and didn't want to think what that would mean for his life during the next year. Being younger and smaller could mean being somewhat looked after or, more likely, being more bullied.

"Hey," he whispered quietly "Why are they waking us up?"

The other boy looked to be of hispanic descent. His dark eyebrows were half-shaved off and Jim could see pigmentation on his neck that suggested recent laser repairs of a tattoo, since they weren't allowed under program dress code. He cracked one eyelid and regarded the small, blonde boy beside him.

"They're waking up 'cause they can, and 'cause we're almost at the colony."

"Which colony?" Jim whispered.

"Don't know. Heard one of the wardens say 'Tarsus' though. All the Tarsus colonies are small, and we'll be stuck here." The older boy shrugged, with the air of someone who didn't really care where they were. Maybe he didn't.

"Oh. My name is Jim."

"Call me Chuy. How old are you?"


"You look about ten. This is gonna be tough on you, wei. Good luck."

Jim curled up in on himself miserably as the older boy got up and disappeared into the mass of boys being herded out of the shuttle, then got up himself.

He gripped his backpack tight on his shoulders and went where he was told. Looking at the older, tougher guys that surrounded him, he decided he would do whatever it took to get through this and make it back home. Soon he would be able to contact his court advocate and see if there had been any changes in his case. Until then, he just had to survive. He could do that. Whatever happened, he was going to be allowed home eventually, right?