55. Private conversating

“I’ll be dead before this meeting’s over if we don’t move along.  As I was saying,” and here he paused to issue a hate-stare to Michel, who shrugged, “Citizenship remains an issue. I have performed a review of citizenship requirements by country. Colin did the original research and set up the tables for me.”

“I was hoping we could assume that as long as Canada was getting the economic benefits citizenship would be guaranteed,” George said.

“What?” said Michel. “You could assume that but you need to start thinking about your plan as if you had to bug out to a different city, or country, even.”

“I can’t.  I mean, I could, but it would mean moving Kima.”

“Don’t care where you two end up as long as I get to go,” Michel said.

“Interesting as this discussion is, why don’t you use your simply splendid memory to mark it for further followup, and entitle it ‘rat-hole number one’,” Cy said. “And while you’re doing that, let me remind you that it might seem like Canadian citizenship would be a sure thing, but I think it more likely you’ll be invited to buy a rapidly disappearing Pacific Island as the perfect location for all of your kind, the water morphs and the land morphs and all other forms, seeing as how none of you can drown.”

Michel was dismissive. “Right, and when the water gets high enough the air morphs will have no place to nest. Doesn’t help really. George, isn’t there a morph for living on gas giants? Don’t think they’d do well here, it’s way too hot.”

Grimly continuing, Cy said, “More likely yet is that the Canadian government decides to stall, to see how upset its allies would be if it granted you citizenship, since the US, China and pretty much any country with any say will make its opinion known, and I don’t imagine any of them will approve.”

Michel said, “Maybe we should just go for whoever will take us and not worry about Canadian citizenship.”

George sounded reasonable. “I want to have the same problems and protections, such as they are, as the people who would be my fellow citizens.  I don’t know what else I can do except show I’m serious about being a law abiding citizen.”

Michel said, “I’ve officially lived long enough to be glad your mother’s dead.”

George stayed quiet.  He felt a great discontinuity begin somewhere in his body, and with it an intense and unreasonable fear. Before he knew what was happening, Michel had slung him over a shoulder and carried him outside.

“What’s happening?” Cy called after Michel.

He paused at the door. “He’s passing out.  I’m taking him out to the gazebo. You can join us if you can get your elderly meat suspenders down the stairs.”

“Will he be alright? He did it once before.”

“I think I ‘overtaxed’ him, or maybe it was a mistake mentioning his mother. You never know with this one.”

The link was dead.  George was out cold. Since Michel had seen this happen scores of times, neither the fainting spell nor the uncertainty about when George might be expected to awaken, if at all, concerned him.

After a few minutes, Cy and his grandson came out.  There was a great setting and re-setting of pillows on the chaise longue,, and Cy was now wearing a hat and gloves against the chill.  Colin fired up a gas brazier and the damp was successfully driven away. Even so, Cy was far from comfortable, but the opportunity to quiz Michel with George out of the picture, even for a few minutes, was worth the aching in every joint and the pain it took to sit.

“Shall I stay?” Colin said. He didn’t have a problem leaving his grandfather alone with two aliens, if he was fine with it. A family history of extreme personal autonomy accompanied the question.

“Stay upstairs with your grandmother, but keep your eyes on the backyard if you can,” Cy said. “Michel and I will have a chat.”

After the back door had closed behind Colin, Michel said, “I don’t mind telling you that I’m very happy to be outdoors.  I don’t mind being indoors for a little while but really I’d rather be where the breezes blow.”

“Tell me what’s wrong with George,” Cy said.

“He’s way past sleepy and he can’t hear us.”

“That seems a quite functional description,” Cy said slowly.  “But I’d like you to be more specific.”

“More specific how? I can’t raise him on the link, so he’s at least one level unconscious.  When I kick him in the centre-line, he does not react, so that’s strike two.  His hair is lying completely limp, which means that someone could train a fifty cal on him at point blank range and he’d sleep like a puppy in the afternoon sun.”

Cy said, “He’s deeply unconscious, in other words, but you have hope for his recovery.”

“I’ve learned to consider his fits to be very convenient, so I don’t cut him any slack, and you shouldn’t either,” Michel said.

“Do you consider him trustworthy?” Cy asked.

“From what well-spring of arrogance could you find the motivation for such a question,” Michel said in a wondering tone.

“You’re the one that said his fits are convenient,” Cy said.

“Do you consider your grandson trustworthy?” Michel asked.

“Ah,” said Cy.

“He’s sneaking off to go drinking with my coworker, so maybe he and Jesse are cooking up something we don’t know about. People whether they are Sixers or humans do one of two things, exactly what you expect or nothing you could predict.  This one,” and here he gently kicked George, who did not respond, “is very unpredictable.”

“Did he lure you here by moving Kima out here?”

“Kima moved out here herself and George followed her.  So did I.”

“I’m trying to get some sense of your relationship with George.”

“I tried to kill him once. Well, more than once, but it was several times over a short period, so I think that counts as once.”

“What? Why?” Cy asked, horrified.

“His grandmother talked me into it,” Michel said.

“He said she was unpleasant,” Cy said, after a pause.

“She really hated his hair, and she had another grandchild, so she told three of us to kill him.”

“How did he survive?”

“We never all ganged up on him at once,” Michel said. “But I don’t think it would have helped, since his hair woke up and poked me in a lot of tender places. I went back to Zosime and told her to get stuffed.”

George’s tentacles started flailing, and sank, twitching slightly, back down onto the gazebo floor, where they started to firm up.  There was a shimmer, and George vanished.

“Link works,” Michel said placidly. “He’ll be back soon.”

“What if he does this in the middle of a public function?” Cy said.  “Or in space?”