53. Ever see a city sacked Billy

Cy and Colin were waiting for them in the living room off the main entrance. “Cy, may I formally present to you my friend Mikhael, who goes by Michel Calabria. Michel, Cy.” Cy stood, with some effort.

“I met you at the crime scene,” Cy said.  “I won’t shake your hand.”

“I changed my appearance to avoid the attention of the authorities,” Michel said.

“Michel, may I present Cy’s grandson Colin, who’s assisting his grandparents, and us.”

“A pleasure,” Colin said. He was tall and pale and looked snarky.

“Sure wish I could change my appearance,” Cy said. “It’d be great if it was a transferrable skill.” He frowned a little.

“I don’t know how I do it, so I doubt I could teach you,” Michel said.

Colin spoke. “Why do you have that outrageous French accent when George speaks perfect English?” Cy looked down for a moment, and then raised his gaze to Michel.

“To get up the noses of stupid Anglos,” Michel replied.

“It’s deliberate?” Colin considered this, and then smirked as George said, “Very.”

“George says you’re difficult but fun,” Cy said after a pause.

“That was very honest and kind of him,” Michel said.  “But you could pretty much say that about any Sixer.”

George pulled a face.  “My mother?” he asked with some heat. “My grandmother?”

“I said pretty much. Isn’t that a qualifier? Besides, I only ever met 44 other Sixers, and got a whiff of mebbe half a dozen more, which leaves about 250 unaccounted for.”

“If that’s indeed the final count,” George said gloomily.  “Another sticking point with humans.  Once they find out we’re here, they’re going to want a head count, and that will be impossible.”

“Always more questions than answers with you folks,” Cy said.

“Say Sixers, ‘you people’ and ‘you folks’ have othering connotations which we wish to avoid,” George said.

“Why don’t you just take over the planet and cut the politically correct crap?” Cy asked. He put his hand on his knee as he sat down. His grandson Colin came forward and arranged cushions, and then left the room after nodding to both George and Michel. Michel decided to like him. Jesse had been impressed; they’d gone out drinking at least once and Jesse had come back somehow looking both thoughtful and smug.

“S’what I keep telling him, but he doesn’t want to, and I don’t want to either,” Michel said, “Since it seems like a lot of work.” He once again tried to link with George. Perhaps thinking Michel would leave in a snit if he shook him off again, George allowed the link. Their conversation thereafter had a dimension Cy could not perceive.

“What do you want out of this?”

“Me? I want George to go into space and leave me alone with Kima! Then I’m hoping we go back to the Margin, or maybe Alaska, open a poutine shack….”

“If Kima will go,” George said through the link.

“Your assistance is to ensure that George leaves Earth,” Cy said.

“At this rate he’ll never go. Strap your ass to a Chinese rocket and beat it!”

“You understand ballistics at least as well as I do,” George said pointedly.  The sub-rosa battering he was getting in the language of light didn’t help. With rising annoyance, he said, “Killing a group of taikonauts and not to put too fine a point on it, but myself as well! — would not get me into space and it would be a great loss of the limited treasure humans devote to science as well as cutting short my life, much against my wishes.  I can’t pull a “Space Bat”, clinging to some part of a rocket like an asylum-seeker sneaking a lift in a the wheel well of a jet.”

“You’re the only Sixer I ever met apart from George and Hermes,” Cy said.  “As far as I know, you’re the only three Sixers on Earth. Without human help George’s rocket trip will never happen.”

“You met Hermes,” Michel said slowly. George looked bland. In the language of light he told Michel to quit struggling and try to look like a good minion. Michel’s response was as rude as he could make it in the language of light, which is a language structured around ideas, objects and testable reality, not personalities and feelings. Michel slumped, very slightly, but it was enough to show, for the moment at least, they were going to do it George’s way.

Michel, accompanying the statement with an invisible flick to George’s centre-line, much the same in intent and pain as snapping an elastic, “I’m going to help George with his project.  I’ll go where he sends me and do what he tells me, and if either of us make babies with Kima, we’ve promised to protect any of Kima’s babies, whoever made them, against humans and Sixers.”


“That was the deal. I don’t want to attend any fucking meetings. I’m here because I was curious to see what shenanigans you were getting up to, but it all seems to be happening here is careful planning and I got no time for that shit.”

“Michel being a reactive sort of person,” George said.

“I am right here! I got legs, and just because you got hair you can’t control doesn’t mean I couldn’t kill you, just that it would be harder.”

“This is your closest Sixer ally,” Cy said heavily.

“What good are you to George, old man? I can keep my head in an emergency, can you?” Michel dropped his appearance.

George sighed. In solidarity with Michel, and in part to prevent him from leaving, he dropped his appearance as well.

Seen side by side, the differences between the two aliens were stark. Michel was taller, broader and a few shades darker, his centre-line spangled with silver dots. George was a paler beige, with pink blotches around his hairline and less defined markings on his centre-line, and rotund, as if someone had superimposed the outline of the Michelin Tire Man on his form. His hair formed a gently moving, shining black nimbus around his head.

Staring at where Michel’s now absent eyes had been, and showing no sign of anything but tightly controlled anger, Cy said, “I’m at the end of my life. I’ve dragged my wife, who’s dying upstairs, and my grandson, who’s immolated his own career on the bonfire of George’s promises, by their lapels, into what will be one of the defining events of the twenty-first century, even as I ready to depart from life.”

Cy was just getting warmed up.

Fucking humans, thought Michel.  Bags of blood, bone and air, with air being their defining weakness. Get to the fucking point.

“The concept of public service is laughable to you, pointless to you, but I have served my city, and my province, and my country since I was old enough to understand what it means.  I’ve had to re-cast and re-conceive that service many times, as my understanding of the world has grown. Now I’ve been presented with the opportunity to prevent possibly thousands upon thousands of human beings from dying. I have a chance to prevent my city from burning down. I may be dying myself, but if I can prevent this horror from unfolding I’m prepared to sacrifice everything I love to make that happen; my wife and my grandson have agreed to help because they don’t want Vancouver to burn down either.”

“Today I learned that George is essentially in this alone; that your assistance is conditional upon no more substantial a foundation than that provided by your concupiscence and the vanity you feel for your species as a whole. The sacrifice I have been called upon to make, and am still willing to make, is meaningless to you, and you seem to have no understanding of either our reasoning or our goals.”

“Ever seen a city sacked?” Michel asked after a tense pause.


“I have. Don’t tell me I don’t know what can happen.”

“In Turkey?” George said suddenly.

“During the Great War, yes.  Of course they only sacked the Armenian quarter, so I s’pose I should have been more specific. They killed a lot of people, burned a lot of houses, raped a lot of boys and women, and marched a lot of old people down the road until they died. I have lived on this earth almost twice as long as you, and I don’t need a fucking lecture about how upstanding you are. If you think that you and I are different from each other you’re wrong. We’re both sentient beings with something resembling free will – perhaps free range of motion is a better way of putting it – and we’re both getting used by this asshole.” Here he flung out a tentacle and looped it rapidly around George’s non-existent neck several times and pulled him closer. He tried to give George noogies, but his hair fended him off.  “Ow! That you can drape your fine sentiments in lacier language than me don’t make you smarter or prettier or morally superior to me. You’re supposed to find the legal language to take care of some parts of this shit pile of a plan, and I’m here to prevent our closest human friends from getting killed or dying in a blacksite jail when it’s learned they’ve been contributing to an international criminal conspiracy for years.”

Been bally ages since last mooooose pic

So here it is.

Spent time with young Master Alex in Oakalla (Deer Lake) Park and his Mama and Pawpa (Paul) and while we were walking along the same stretch where we saw the coyote with Keith, he ran between the three of us giving us our titles. He’d run up behind us and tap us on the ass and say ZIZI or PAWPA or MUMMY like a little buzzing bee. He walked the whole 2.5 k himself, he ran up to joggers to give them greetings (causing one guy to dodge around and almost wipe out) but he gave bunches of grandmotherly types big smiles and ran up to them with his arms out.

Dogs he’s not so sure about, but with assistance he can interact appropriately.

He fell madly in love with a puddle and some heart shaped leaves.

He’s such a dear little person. I feel amply rewarded for my patience during his earlier difficulties bonding with anyone but his mom. Paul and I are having a panic with him.

I wish Katie was not experiencing personal difficulties right now, but they aren’t impacting Alex at all that I can see and everything will be fine in the outcome.