|| All My Aliens-Sci-Fi Soap Opera #83|
By the time Bard and Jonglire returned, the group of O&N agents were more than ready to hear from them. Barbara’s adrenaline was surging with worry about her son’s arrival in the morning and Tilly was still quite concerned about her sister, Suli. The seasoned-agents were more than aware that much was awry. Cecelia bristled at the sight of Jonglire, who bowed extravagantly in her direction, increasing her disgust to just short of the point of rage.
Grrphh grabbed Cecelia by the shoulders, and bodily removed her from the room. “Take Sable out with Silver and Shadow to patrol the vicinity – stay out yourself until you can keep your cool.” Pushing her out the door, with Sable on her heels, Grrphh left absolutely no room for argument...
He followed and the two exchanged words, with Grrphh letting Cecelia know that he would indeed listen to her concerns later this evening or tomorrow, but that in the meantime she would keep her accusations and attitude to herself, or remain on patrol until the Eldestan had left. Cecelia stamped her feet and glared, but Grrphh unquestionably outranked her, and was the agent in charge of this mission – there were little she could do but follow orders, for now.
Gartan’s ship was already being refitted. It was the first priority of the Examinators, coming before even the setting up a new base of operations. Gartan was resistant to using QuickMorph, but it was an obvious requirement for this mission. Upon meeting his partner, Gartan was even less pleased. The thing was small and looked something like an Earth rat. It was not going to be forced to ‘morph,’ much to Gartan’s chagrin.
“Look” said Peliix, “my small stature allows me to go places you couldn’t even imagine! And I can’t help it if I look enough like an Earth critter not to need morphing. Do you think I asked for this assignment? With you? If so, better think again, partner! Be glad there was anyone willing to be partnered with you, coercion or not!”
Barbara was oblivious of the scene between Grrphh and Cecelia, her eyes were all for Bard and the Eldestan that accompanied him. The tension in the room was like a neon sign.
Jonglire unexpectedly burst out laughing, chortling as he said, “What a bunch of sad sacks you all look. How can you worry??? There are two Eldstan on Earth and another four on Glaboo’s ship! If we can’t figure it out, no one can! So let’s see some enthusiasm to get this job done!”
There was little response, a few tried to manage a smile, others just looked blank, taken completely off-guard. Barbara, however, looked at him with her mouth gaping open and her eyes wide. She was not at all reassured. Dave seemed little more appeased. Most in the group took the situation much more seriously than Jonglire seemed to be letting on.
Bard shot a look at Jonglire, and somehow communicated that he would take it from here – afterall he had been working with this group for a while now. Bard hadn’t missed Cecelia’s reaction and Grrphh’s quick action to remove her. Jonglire just laughed again and nodded, stepping back temporarily into an inconspicuous corner.
It was fun to watch Bard in any case, Jonglire mused, he had plenty of time to get the lay of the land, so to speak.
Gazing briefly at each member of the group, Bard decided to address Barbara’s obvious concerns first and knew that Al was foremost in her mind. “I know you must be worried, Barbara, any mother would be. Now that it’s summer vacation, does Al have a grandparent or aunt and uncle he could spend a few weeks with? Or does he attend summer camp by any chance? It’s not absolutely necessary, but I think you will feel much better about his safety if we take maximum precautions until we know exactly what we are dealing with. Of course, we will provide discreet protection for him in any case, no matter where he is, just to be absolutely certain there are no incidents involving him.”
“Hmmm,” Barbara responded with a dawning smile, “my parents up in northern Maine have been begging to have some time with Al. I had kinda promised both them and my son that this summer he would be old enough to spend a few weeks of summer vacation with them.”
“I guess it’ll have to be now, rather than later. Let me give them a call,” she added as she reached for the phone.
Bard made a halting motion and asked, “Where exactly do your parents live, or more precisely in what type of area – rural, city, suburb? I’m trying to decide who best to assign to accompany him. It would be very helpful if Silver or Shadow could go.”
“Why either one would be great! My parents have an old farm, they only grow for themselves and to barter with their neighbors now – but they sure do have plenty of space! Even a fairly new barn. Though I’m sure he’d never admit any fear about going – I bet Al would be thrilled to have one of them along, Peanut too! Let’s see what they think,” Barbara added as she began dialing.
To be continued…
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