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Boom-Boom Kitty watched in fascination as Yelina manipulated the alien probe’s appendages. The little blonde girl lay on her belly on the table, literally surrounded by gear and alien probe parts. She was dressed in a pale-blue clean suit, specially cut down to her stature. Boom-Boom Kitty was allowed to roam free as he was.

Jack and Arley looked on with worry from behind a protective barrier. ‘Should we even be allowing this?’ Arley asked.

‘I think,’ Satu told them wryly, ‘that Yelina has finally found her calling in life.’

Geeze! You little bugger!’

There were giggles from Kiko and Carly as one of the technicians had literally leapt off the table, scattering equipment, parts and debris in all directions, as Yelina used the mechanical appendage to grab him by the leg.

‘Oops,’ Yelina said, distractedly and unrepentantly, as she poked and pried at something that had her attention. ‘Hey, I found it!’

‘Found what?’ the scientists and technicians queried, dropping what they were doing and gathering around.

Boom-Boom Kitty stared at the object, giving it his undivided attention.

Yelina held up a heavy piece of equipment that looked a bit like a metal covering for graduated sizes of discs, each around an inch thick, ranging from eight inches across in the centre to three inches to each side. Each side had a mounting nub, and from the bottom protruded an array of connectors. Laying on her back, she heaved the heavy thing over her chest, gave it a shake, and listened to its insides.

‘Huh. It’s kind of springy inside.’ She shook it again, and put it to her ear.

‘Well?’ one of the older scientists prodded.

‘This is what makes it fly,’ she said, frowning, ‘but it’s not like what makes a vee-ped go. It feels like it’s got wheels ‘n’ springs inside . . . so it’s gotta be a gyro-something that somehow makes it move. That’s why these things are so slow . . .’ realisation was soon in coming, ‘an’ I’ll bet that’s why they hafta be invisible! ‘Cause they don’t go so fast- hey! That’s mine!’

‘It’s mine, now,’ Agent Sawatsky said, passing off the piece of equipment to a waiting tech team.

‘But I want it!’ Yelina pouted.

‘Your mom’s telling me it’s past lunch time,’ he told her, ‘so skedaddle!’


Wryly watching Yelina tuck into her food, talking and laughing all the while with Carly and Kiko, Satu said to Arley, ‘You know, I may have been wrong. I’m beginning to think that Yelina is doing better now than she ever has- hey! Food is for eating, not throwing!’ Kiko had been about to use her spoon to fling a potato puff at the back of Tina’s head. ‘My daughter, too, seems somehow . . . more natural, if that is the right choice of word.’

The two watched as young Jason sat with the men. He seemed to have aged, to have matured, in the past months. Kiko showed signs of that same maturity, but only when the two were alone together.

Tina had wolfed down her lunch and promptly ran down to the docks to do some fishing, and lay on her belly, jigging for salt-water Perch. She was soon joined by her father, who plunked his Tilly had on her head and lay on the wooden dock beside her, peering into the depths. After a few minutes, Jack and the other kids followed, leaving the two women alone together at the picnic table.

‘I thought you’d done away with marriage in your time,’ Arley smirked, taking unaffected pleasure in the way Satu eyed Mike and their brood.

‘I have unlearned many things I once took for granted,’ Satu said slowly. ‘What you term “being in love” has . . . had . . . an ugly stigma in my day. The irony is that I do not believe anyone in my day really understood it. This thing of giving oneself over to another human being . . . I can see why so many cautioned against it.’ She smiled broadly to herself. ‘But . . . I do not believe that their opinions were based on men like Mike. In fact, I begin to think that their opinions were based on the fears of cowards!’

You are the alien.

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