V
The Emergents

Chapter One
Epilogue

"Got it, yet, Harve?"

Harve Peters, a nervous type of man started at the sound of Brandy Lightfoot's voice. He turned to look at her, the communiqué Bates had given him to decode still in his hand. The man, painfully shy, swallowed at the sight of the beautiful Indian woman standing casually by the door. So absorbed was he in looking at her that is took a moment for her words to register.

"Ahhhh. . .no, not yet." Harve shot a look at the communiqué then back at her, trying to gather enough courage to ask her out.

"Let me see it." Brandy took the communiqué from Harve's loose fingers before he could protest.

"You can't. . .Mr. Bates. . !" He stammered.

Brandy smiled brightly and, at that moment, Harve would have let her keep the communiqué.

"Oh, what harm could it do?" She studied the paper thoughtfully. After a moment, she handed it back, a puzzled look on her face. "It doesn't make sense."

Harve took the communiqué back with relief. "If it did, they wouldn't need me." He hesitated but before he could say another word, Brandy turned.

"I have to go, but. . ." she looked over her shoulder. "I was wondering if you'd like to join me for lunch tomorrow?"

Harve blinked, so surprised he almost didn't answer. "S-s-sure." He finally managed to stammer.

"Good. See you tomorrow then." She dazzled him with another smiled then swept out the door.

One outside, Brandy turned words that formed the communiqué over in her mind twice to find a pattern that would decipher it. She could find none and frowned thoughtfully then quickly smiled as she passed some co-workers. She mumbled polite farewells as she headed out of the building and toward her car.


"'This is Howard K. Smith reporting on the state of the war tonight.'

'Over the past few days, freakish weather has been occurring. Storms have downed dozens of the Visitor shuttlecraft all over the Visitor-occupied areas. In Nevada, yet another food processing plant was destroyed by lightning, the latest in a series of such destruction that started in Missouri.'

'And following another course, from Tennessee to Arizona, a series of explosions have destroyed several more Visitor installation, including food processing plants and cobalt mines. According to our sources, no means for these explosions can be found and no Resistance group has taken credit.'

'In lower California, an entire half-mile long Visitor base sank into the ground with hundreds of causalities. Earthquakes have been blamed though no tremors were reported elsewhere.'

And in. . .'"

Catherine Smith idly tuned out the rest of the broadcast and concentrated on the figurines in front of her. There were many more of them then she'd had eight months ago in L.A. However, unlike the ones she'd brought with her, the new ones were carved delicately out of wood.

Behind her, she could hear the other four Emergents talking as they played a game of Monopoly. Smiling, the young girl picked up a figurine of Nathan Bates, now represented as sitting in a wheelchair.

'Five of us, Bates!' She thought. 'Still five of us. Only here. . .we stay by choice, not because we're prisoners.' At this, she chuckled. They had never really been prisoners. They could have left any time they wanted to, something Bates was going to find out tomorrow.

Setting the small wood carving back in it's proper place--directly between the L.A. Resistance and the Visitors--Cathy leaned back to study the scenario. The L.A. Resistance was to her left, a mismatched assortment of men, women and aliens. The Ham Tyler figurine stood off slightly, Chris Farber sort of between him and the rest of the Rebels. A wolf carving-- representing Becky-- stood so close to Ham that she touched him while a woman Cathy had never seen before stood next to him. The other Rebels were clustered in a group nearby with the Elizabeth carving standing off, almost a quarter of the way to the Visitors.

Bates stood--or rather sat--between the Rebels and the Visitors. A figurine of a tall man stood next to him yet seemingly apart from him.

The Visitors, like the Rebels, were also clustered together. Diana and Lydia stood together yet apart while another figurine--looking remarkable like the one Cathy had broken a bare eight months ago--stood slightly apart. Turning her head away from the game pieces on the table, Cathy looked down at the ones in the shoebox in her lap. There were perhaps three dozen more figurines set carefully in the box. Gently she began to look through them, pulling out the ones she wanted.

Finished, she studied the new ones. There were fifteen of them, all female, of every shape and size. All save one appeared to be between eleven and sixteen years of age. The last was of an older woman, in her thirties perhaps, and a Native American.

Smiling, Cathy set all of the new figurines next to the Tyler figurine, on the side opposite the Rebels. On an afterthought, she moved the older female closer to Chris. Leaning back, she studied the scene with an air of satisfaction. That's the way it should be. . .

Suddenly she frowned, hit be a gentle precognition. Without even realizing what she was doing, Cathy once again reached into the box and pulled out another carving. It was of a wolf, just like Becky. Setting it next to the first wolf, Cathy eyed it, puzzled.

She didn't remember making that one.

Chapter Two

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