"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
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.