Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Saturday Morning, June 26, 1999
Next Sunday was Ian Macphater’s retirement party. Originally, the family had not planned on having more than the family and long time friends and employees attend. They had booked the entire Jupiter’s Townsville Hotel so that the family could stay in town after the party. With the world recognizing what the Macphater/Maclaren family had contributed to the development of the window generators that led to the discovery of four worlds and three races with which mankind was now allied, they had had to move the party to the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre. Luckily, the hotel and the convention center were next to each other. The problem was that the women all would need new dresses. Not just ones that would do for a family party, but ones you could wear for a gala where Prime Minister and Mrs. Hunt would head up the list of guest and which the world press would be covering.
Claire was the only one that was familiar with the type of clothes that such a gala should require, but did not think that was what they should wear. After a long discussion between the women of the family as well as Claire’s mother Sue, they had decided on dresses suitable for a prom but not designer gowns. As it was, buying that many dresses out of season a week before the party would be hard.
The women that needed dresses included all those now thought of as part of the family. Besides the Macphater women, they included all the other women on the Teams and those who worked with the Teams. They had ridden in to Townsville on three buses. They had arranged for a number of stores that had suitable dresses to bring them to a hotel in the shopping district. A buffet would be served since they would be there most of the day.
By noon, the five teenage girls from Team 1 had found their dresses and were ready to go exploring. Claire and Nancy were the only two of them that had felt the need to get that special dress and they had cheated. On the long ride from the Retreat where the Macphater homes were, they had viewed all the dresses using their mental ability to sense things at a distance. They had chosen similar dresses with different accent colors to match their different coloring. When they arrived, they had told the sales person which dresses that they wanted and then tried them on. Only minor alterations would be necessary after Leslie convinced them that they could carry their handguns in their purses. Selecting the purses to hold the guns had taken longer than getting the dresses. Claire and Nancy had then helped the other three, Carol Stanley, Jennifer White, and Betsy Maclaren, to select their dresses.
Leslie, we are going to go out and explore the city. Our dresses are selected and the alterations have been noted. Claire informed Leslie as the five girls entered the lobby.
You know the location of the restaurant where we are having dinner. I will let you know if we are going to be running late here. Leslie replied. Have fun but keep an eye out, someone might still be out there after you.
We will. The five of us should be able to handle anyone that is after Claire. Nancy was excited to check out the city. She had enjoyed seeing Carlisle and Edinburgh and wanted to see what Townsville had to offer.
I am nearby if you need some help. Robert had noticed them leaving the hotel from where he was helping John Harvey and Rob shop for suits for the younger boys. Tommy had been a big help in explaining to the other boys why this type of party required them to wear suits.
The girls had been intrigued by the open-air mall next to the hotel. Their first stop was the Chemist Warehouse. Brenda had told Nancy they should go there to buy makeup and perfume. Brenda had to explain that in Australia that chemist was the equivalent of pharmacy.
During the short walk to the store, they noticed people pointed them out to the people they were with. Claire smiled. At least we do not have a Team of Secret Service agents following us.
At the beauty counter, they looked at the selection of lipsticks while they waited until the clerk was finished with the customer she was helping. Carol Stanley, who had turned thirteen the week before, saw that the clerk was available and approached her. “Ma’am, my friends and I are going to a party next week and we need makeup and perfume.”
The clerk was surprised by the young girl’s American accent. “What type of party is it?”
“It is a retirement party for my friend’s grandfather.”
“You do not need more than lipstick and eyeliner for a retirement diner.” The clerk replies.
“I just got my first formal dress for the party. Mom said with all the television cameras and reporters that I would need to have special makeup for the lights.” This was the first time that she had gone shopping for makeup without her mother.
“Whose retirement party are you going to?” It had dawned on the clerk what party Carol was attending. She looked for the other girls but they were in the next isle. She could just see a black girl and the red hair of another.
“Ian Macphater. Nancy and Claire want to look especially good for Robert. Jenny, Betsy, and I don’t have Life-Mates yet.”
“Call your friends over. My dad and my husband Bruno work for MME. I will make sure that all of you have everything you need.” The other girls had heard and had come over to the counter. “My name is Dora Fusco. I see that only two of you are wearing lipstick. Is that the color that you would like to wear or should we start from scratch for all of you.”
The girls spend the next hour and a half deciding on what they wanted. Claire had asked about Dora’s family. She told them that her seven year-old daughter Teresa wanted to grow up and explore worlds just as they had. When told that she would be upset that she had not gotten to meet them, Nancy said that they would be in the area for a few more hours. If Teresa could come to the store, they would love to meet her. Dora had called her husband and he would bring Teresa and the two older children to meet them. Dora then had handed them over to Ethel at the perfume counter. There they spend another half hour choosing the perfumes that they would wear. Nancy and Claire had sought one that they both would wear so that they would not clash.
After they had purchased their selections, they went back to Dora and Ethel to tip them for all the help that they had been.
“Dora, this is to thank you for all the help that you had been.” Dora starts to protest that she did not need a tip when Claire offers her the money. “You took five young girls who were not familiar with what then needed or wanted and made sure that they would be ready for their first big party. That will go a long way to making sure we will enjoy ourselves. We are going to look for some clothes. We will come back when your children get here.”
Dora’s kids have arrived. Claire had given Jenny the exercise to keep track of Dora and report when her children arrived at the store. Her older ones appear to be near our age.
They also may be candidates for apprentices for Team 3. Nancy could tell that even Teresa the seven year-old might be joining the Teams. Linda and Cindy, can you join us at the Chemist Warehouse. We have some prospects for the apprentice positions on your Team.
With new Team members to meet, the clothing they were looking at was forgotten. They found that some of the other customers followed them out and once outside other people of all ages turned and followed them. It only took a few minutes to return to the Chemist Warehouse.
Robert, do you have people that are following you around? Claire asked.
No. I do not see any possible weapons except for a couple of knives but nothing threatening. Do you want me to join you? Robert and the others were at a man’s clothing store nearby.
I think that all of you should come here. Nancy reached for her sketchpad. Something is going to happen. John Harvey ask the clerks to hold the items then all of you should come on over. Leslie, you should get Mei-lei, Jo, and Kim over here also. Claire, go in and talk to Dora and her family. Jenny and Betsy go in with her. Carol stay with me. Claire, bring them out when everyone gets here.
Oh God! This is unbelievable. Claire communicated to her two Life-Mates, Nancy and Robert. She had just understood what Nancy had discovered. She switched to mentally communicating with the two girls. Jenny and Betsy follow my lead, but keep them inside until everyone is here.
As the other girls enter the store, Nancy takes Carol’s hand. Carol, I want to make a sketch of this so I can do a painting later. Let us sit on this bench until the rest get here.
The smile on Nancy’s face startled Carol. She had seen it only when Nancy had been with Robert and Claire. She knew that it was because they were Life-Mates just as her parents were. She knew how close Life-Mates were and looked forward to when she would meet her Life-Mate. Would she have two like Nancy or one like everyone else? She hoped it was only one. She did not want to share him, but Claire and Nancy did not share Robert. All three of them were equals. It was very confusing. She had just started to think of boys in the last year. “What is going on?”
Nancy did not look up from her sketchpad. Wait. She had started to sketch the scene that is to be, but realized that the sketch could wait. She looked up at Carol. Yes, her makeup was still good. Dora had done a good job in helping them with the makeup. “Hand me your comb.” She stood up.
Carol was confused. She got her comb out of her purse. Nancy had started a sketch and then stopped. She handed her the comb.
Nancy started to comb the tangles out of Carol’s hair. “We need you to look your best.”
Meanwhile, Claire entered the store followed by the other two girls.
As they approach the makeup counter, a young girl who had been fidgeting spied them. She turned to run to them but Dora grabbed her daughter’s shoulder. “I am so glad you came back so quickly. Teresa wanted us to go out and look for you.” She wondered where the other two were. She had not expected to see them separate.
Claire looked at the family. Yes, Dora and Bruno were Life-Mates and the three children would soon meet theirs. “Mr. Fusco.” Claire extends her hand. “I am Claire Clarke. I am glad to meet you. This is Jennifer White and Betsy Maclaren.” They shook hands.
Do you know what is going on? Jenny mentally asked Betsy.
I am not sure. I have only seen Claire act like this when she is meeting someone important. Dora said her husband worked for MME. So, he is not some president or prime minister. He and Dora are Life-Mates. Betsy intently studied the other three. Oh. Jenny, we definitely are going to have three more Team members.
Let us keep our thoughts just to the three of us. Claire had caught what her two friends were thinking. She realized that she had forgotten that Betsy also could match Life-Mates. We need to keep this to ourselves for a few minutes until the others get here. Jenny these three are Life-Mates to three of our Team members.
Jenny quickly realizes why Carol had been kept outside. Well Carol is one of them. Who are the other two?
Dave and Jason. Betsy answered
Jenny took a good look at her future sister-in-law as Claire continued the introductions. I am not sure if she will calm Dave down or we will have two of them. She had seen Life-Mates that complimented each other like her parents, Sol and Mei-lei White, or that were very alike and added to each other like Alyca and Bruce Jenson.
The Fuscos had not noticed the mental communication since the time required for it was much faster than speech. “These are my children. Steve, Fran, and Teresa.” Dora pointed to each in turn.
Claire mentally passed the names on to her Life-Mates. She was stalling for everyone to get there.
“I want to explore the other worlds and meet the Kin, Glazen, and Swizz.” Teresa exclaimed. “I am not sure about the Clar. They live on a cold world where we cannot breath.”
“Yes, you will and you won’t be the only one in your family to do that.” Claire smiled at her.
“Well, we were talking about me taking a job on one of the other worlds, but we wanted to wait until the schools were set up.” Bruno Fusco had not understood the implication of Claire’s words but his two older children had.
“Are you forming a new Team that we could join?” Steve asked.
Claire had sensed Nancy arranging everyone outside as they arrived. Robert had asked Dave White to help him with his three young cousins. He and Dave were just walking up with Jason between them and Eric and Jerome to either side.
“We will talk about that later. There are some people outside I want you to meet.” She took Teresa’s hand and motioned Fran and Steve to go ahead of her as she headed for the door. Betsy and Jenny escorted Bruno and Dora out ahead of them.
Outside Robert and Nancy moved their charges towards the door.
As they exited the door, Fran and Steve saw their Life-Mates and faltered. Claire and Teresa came up behind them and propelled them forward.
Teresa was surprised that her siblings had stopped right in front of her. “Keep moving. I want to meet them too.”
This is the first time that Nancy had seen one of her visions come true right in front of her. She took Carol’s arm and they walked up to Steve Fusco. “Steve, I would like to introduce you to Carol Stanley. Carol, this is Steve Fusco. The two of you are Life-Mates.”
Steve is surprise at his attraction for the young girl in front of him. He had dated a few of his classmates but never someone younger. He reached out his hand to her.
Carol was completely shocked when she saw the stocky young man. He must be a senior. She would not have entered high school for another year if she had not joined the Team. Then she realized what Nancy had said. Steve was her Life-Mate. She slowly offered him her hand.
Robert had maneuvered Dave and his cousins forward. When Dave saw Fran, they both quickly moved toward each other and then suddenly stopped a couple of feet apart. They stood that way for a couple of seconds.
Robert walked over and stood facing the two of them. “Dave, this is Fran Fusco. Fran, this is Dave White. You are Life-Mates. Dave, I expect we will be rearranging the Team and you will be getting all the responsibility that you keep saying you are ready for.”
“What! I am not ready for my own squad. I don’t know enough yet.” Dave realized what Robert meant.
“What do you mean your squad? It will be our squad.” Fran stepped forward and kissed Dave.
Robert was startled by Fran’s forwardness. Neither Nancy nor Claire had ever walked up to him and kissed him in public, though when they were alone that was another story.
He heard his sister, Mary laugh. Do you want to ship them off to Alyca and Bruce? Or do you think the three of you can handle them?
Not any worse than you and Ben. At least they are not immediate family.
Claire walked Teresa over to where Jason stood with his brothers. “Teresa, this is Jason Reynolds. Jason, this is Teresa Fusco. Teresa, you and Jason are Life-Mates. Do you know what that means?”
“That means that we are married. I am too young to be married.” Teresa had heard people speaking about Life-Mates but had not understood.
“No, you may get married one day. Robert and Nancy are my Life-Mates.” She points to them as she names them. “We are not ready to be married. We are also too young.” Claire could tell the twins are getting ready to interrupt. Wait. She told them.
“Teresa, I would like to introduce you to Eric and Jerome. They are Jason’s brothers. Eric and Jerome, this is Teresa Fusco.” She could tell that Eric was having a hard time keeping quiet. She nodded to him.
“Can Teresa be on the Team with us? Life-Mates need to train together.”
“It will be like we have another sister.” Jerome also had his say. “Grandma Alice and Uncle Jess knew each other all through school. They did not get married until they were out of college.”
When they had seen all the people waiting for them, Dora and Bruno Fusco had followed their youngest child, Teresa. They had heard all that had been said and were both shocked and confused.
Leslie had made her way around the young people to Dora and Bruno. “Eric is right. All three of your children should join the Team.”
“All three?” Dora looked and saw Fran hugging a boy that looked to be Jenny’s brother. He looked a little shocked but not as much as Robert Maclaren who was starring at them. What had Fran done now? She turned her attention to her son. Steve was holding Carol’s hand. Yes, there was an attraction there but the four or five years difference in their ages was holding them back from anything more. She turned back to Leslie Maclaren. She could see that Bruno was having a harder time understanding what is going on. She put her arm around his waist and he automatically put his arm around her shoulder and hugged her. “Is there room for them on the Team?” She asked Leslie.
“There is always room for family.” Leslie smile and the words calmed both Dora and Bruno. “Dora and Bruno, you are family also. Let me introduce you to your children’s Life-Mates, their parents, and siblings. Then to the rest of the family. We have to hurry. We need to get all of you clothing for the party.”
After they had been introduced to the Fusco, Claire, Nancy, and Robert drifted over to the onlookers and started talking to them. They had separated so they could talk to more people. There were many questions about Life-Mates, the other planets, the aliens, when they were getting married, and joining the Teams.
While they were talking to the crowd, they had been explaining to their younger Team members how one identified Life-Mates. Jenny had realized that she was not too young to have one and had wanted to know how to identify hers.
Jenny, when you meet your Life-Mate you will know. Robert recalled his meeting Claire then Nancy. What all of you need to learn is how to know when you see or get near to someone who is the Life-Mate of someone that you know. That way you can bring them together. The more of us that know how to do this then the more Life-Mates that we can pair up. Now let us join together mentally and we will show you how it is done. Within five minutes, they had all been taught. Now join us in talking to the crowd.
The other young people separate among the three Team leaders. At first, they just stood there listening, but the leaders encouraged them to answer questions. Soon they were having their own conversation.
Leslie had been watching how Claire, Nancy, and Robert had gone to the crowd to talk with them. When the others had joined them, she knew that the three were up to something. Robert, what is your plan?
Mom, we have to do more than just embed reporters with the Teams. We have to meet with people. We cannot let the extra abilities we have separate us from everybody else. They are curious about us. That was why they were following the girls. We also had people watching us as we shopped for the boys’ suits. Can you feel how the mood of the people has changed? We were something apart from them. Now we are just people that can do some things that they have not learned to do. Look at how the others are enjoying answering the questions. I never thought I would be this comfortable talking to complete strangers.
Son, I think that you have learned this from Claire and it looks like the others are learning it too. As to the need to be accepted by those not on the Teams, that is something that has worried your father and me. What the Teams will be doing will affect everyone. We need people to trust us.
Thanks, mom. We think we know what we are doing but to hear your agreement made us feel much better. Robert turned and smiled at his mother. We will handle things here. Go and make sure that everyone has clothes for the party.
Jupiters Townsville Hotel& Casino and Townsville Entertainment & Convention Centre
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Sunday July 4, 1999
Claire, Robert, and Nancy had gotten dressed early. They were going out before the party to talk with the press but in particular one reporter. Not just any reporter but the one that Claire and Robert had used to distract the kidnappers during the hostage rescue in Washington. Their act of being a couple of love struck teenagers had played right into Lisa Saunders style of reporting. Her personal questions and their answers had confused the kidnappers. The confusion had allowed for the successful rescue of the hostages. They felt that they owed Lisa so she had been their choice for the reporter to be embedded with Team 1.
The press was waiting on the large patio behind the hotel and next to the ocean. It was a typical winter day for Townsville with the temperature reaching 70°F at noon under a sunny sky. Most of the reporters and camera crews had arrived early so that they had time to claim a table and set up their equipment. They had been told that the party guest would be heading over to the Convention Centre at 1 PM and that many of them would drop by the patio and talk to them. They were eating lunch and enjoying the chance to relax by the ocean.
At a couple of minutes before noon, Claire, Robert, and Nancy walked out of the hotel and towards the reporters. As they approached, a hush fell over the news people and the hotel staff as all eyes were drawn towards them. The girls were in matching white dresses except for the trim. Claire’s dress with light blue trim that matched her eyes set off her short blonde hair and fair complexion, while Nancy’s dress with burgundy trim that went well with her dark complexion complemented her long, waist length, dark black hair. Both girls were tall and slim, not model thin but more the look of athletes. Between them walked Robert, topping both of them by a head and not slim but with the muscular build of someone that could put in a long hard day of heavy work and still be able to go out for the evening. And there was a unity between the three of them. Not three separate people but one being that was three people.
The other thing that surprised the reporters is the look that the three gave them. Not one of having to talk to the reporters before they can go to the party, but of eagerness to talk with them.
The silence allowed the three to reach the reporters without any questions being hurled at them. When they got there, Robert raised his hand to indicate that the reporters should wait and then nodded to Claire.
“Before we answer any questions, Robert and I would like to thank Lisa Saunders and her camera man Tom Farrel for their help in ensuring that the hostages were successfully rescued at the Jordanian embassy. When we walked up to them at the memorial service, our intentions were to distract the kidnappers and allow the rescuers to enter unopposed. To do that, I made use of Lisa’s interest in searching out the personal information behind the news stories.” Claire motioned Lisa and Tom forward.
Lisa had been surprised to be assigned to cover the retirement party. Her specialty was interviews that gave personal insight into the newsmakers. She did not cover events. When she asked her boss, why she had gotten the assignment, he had said that she and Tom had been requested by Leslie Maclaren. She had said that they would be granted private interviews with members of the Teams and that Claire, Robert, and Nancy had personally requested them. She had gotten comments from her colleagues about how Claire and Robert had used her interview, but she had told them that they could do it again if it would ensure some ones safety. That had shut up the commenters.
She was not happy about how easily the two young people had turned the tables on her but had felt better about it after finding out what else the two had done in the following weeks. She had been surprised to find out about Nancy. She had taken Claire and Robert to be totally committed to each other. That ability to read people is why she was a nationally known reporter. She read the person that she was interviewing and knew how to pull the personnel information from them. Claire and Robert had turned the tables on her by giving her a very narrow view of their relationship and playing in to the hilt.
“Lisa and Tom, we would like to apologize for how we used you when you interviewed us.” Claire friendly smile was matched by that of Nancy and Robert.
“Claire, I won’t say that I was not upset at the time, but after finding out how what you did allowed the hostages to be rescued unharmed, I understood why you did it. In fact, I feel that I helped in keeping them safe.” Lisa could sense Tom’s agreement with what she said. “Why does the apology included Tom?”
“Well when you are Life-Mates, what happens to one affects the other.” Somehow, Claire’s smile had gotten even bigger and friendlier. “Also, we want to make up to you for what we did and to do that we needed to include both of you since you are engaged.”
“How did you know about that? We have not announced it to anyone but family and close friends.” Lisa is surprised that they knew about the engagement. She had heard a rumor that they could identify Life-Mates.
“We know when people are Life-Mates. When we thought of asking for you, we realized that the two of you were Life-Mates. When father found out that you would be spending so much time with us, he had the FBI perform a quick check of the two of you.”
“Spending so much time with you?” How long was the interview to be? Lisa wondered.
“We would like the two of you to embed with Team 1 and report on what we are doing.” Claire’s words surprised everyone.
“Embed with Team 1. You mean, while you are training and exploring the other worlds?” What do you think Tom? Lisa asked.
Can there be any answer than yes. Tom replied.
“Yes, we would like to embed with Team 1.” Lisa took Tom’s hand.
“Oh. It will be more than that. We will be flying the new shuttles. We expect to take trips to Mars and to talk with the Clar. You may be going with us on those flights.” Claire has a hard time suppressing a laugh when she saw the look on Lisa’s face.
While the press had been distracted by Claire, the leads for the other two Teams had joined them. Claire turned and nodded at them.
“Team 2 would like to request that Doug Richards of The Scotsman join us as our embedded reporter. John is a long time friend of my Aunt Alice and Uncle Jess.” Alyca Maclaren Jenson had known who she wanted embedded in Team 2 as soon as the topic came up in discussions among the Teams. “I remember meeting him at their home before I was old enough to go to school. When I found out that he wrote for The Scotsman, I had my mother help me to read his stories. I have always found his stories informative and well written. He also has the ability to explain technical issues in a way that most people can understand.”
“I would love to but I do not think that The Scotsman would have the budget for this assignment.” Doug had wondered why Jess had sent him the ticket to come here. His boss had jumped at the chance to report on what the Maclarens were doing in Australia with the only cost being Doug’s salary.
“I expect that your column would be syndicated in quite a few papers. That should cover your cost while on Earth.” Leslie had explained about syndication when Alyca Maclaren Jenson had raised the same concern. “We will not be charging for food, lodging, or special clothing or equipment when you are off Earth.” Alyca got the OK from the other Team leads to release the next bit of information at this time. “Since we will be teaching all the embedded press the main Glazen and Swizz languages, you will be able to do verbal interviews with all the members of the Teams except the Kin.”
“How will I have time to learn two alien languages?” Doug was conflicted between the possibility of actually speak to the aliens in their own languages and the time that it would take to learn them. Mentally communication was good but you end up putting too much of the story in your own words.
“Oh Naz has got the training so that you can understand one of the languages down to less than an hour.” Naz Maclaren was Robert’s sister-in-law, a member of Team 3, and the family’s linguist. “Learning to produce the correct sound will take longer. That is much more dependent on the individual even with mental assistance. Our Glazen and Swizz Team members will be helping you with that.” Alyca was still working on getting some of the Swizz sounds correct.
“Australia and the world have been enjoying the reports and documentaries that the Australian Broadcasting Company has produced. They have had three different crews assigned here over the past few weeks.” Willy Maclaren, Robert’s oldest brother, had worked with all of the Teams in that time. “One of these Teams has shown a keen interest to migrate to another world. In fact, they had also documented the wilderness vacations that we had been using to pick possible colonists. Then you throw in that the whole crew is family, mother, daughter, and son-in-law, with the couple also being Life-Mates, we knew which crew we should invite.” Willy could see the three of them hugging. “Amy Tuckey, Lewis and Sharon Trumbull, Team 3 would like you to embed with us.”
The three of them shout. “Yes, yes, yes…” Then they realized what they are doing.
“There will be another opportunity to embed with a new Team, Team S, that is now forming. Team S will go to the Swizz worlds aboard the spacecraft Mirrraaattee. The voyage is to take six months to reach the closest Swizz world. Then they will journey to the Swizz home world to discuss the Swizz joining in alliance with us.” Willy can see that most of the reporters are treating this as a news story to be reported. A couple of reporters were in deep thought as they thought about how they could be the one selected. “We expect that we won’t hear back from them for over a year and it may be two years until they return. We will have a similar mission to the Glazen worlds but it won’t occur until we have a spacecraft to take a Team there. Team S will be a diplomatic Team but still with many of the abilities of our other Teams. The Glazen and Swizz members of the Team has already been determined. Some of the Kin members are also known. Sir John and Lee Ann Lawrence will head up the Team. Congresswoman Sandra Smith-Lewis and Martin Lewis of the United States of America will also be on the Team. No one from Australia will be on Team S. The other members will be Life-Mates selected so that a diversity of humans is included on the Team. The existing members of the Team must unanimously approve new Team members. This type of Team approval is typical of all Teams. The news people that will accompany Team S will also need to be approved by the Team after it has all of its members. Those news people that would be interested in reporting on this historic journey should contact Sir John by mail or email, not phone, in person, or mentally.”
Now all of the reporters had realized what was being offered. Some started to leave.
“Sir John is back in England. It is the middle of the night there.” Alyca smiled at the response to the announcement that they had been expecting. “I want to remind you of some things to consider before applying for the assignment to the Swizz worlds. Accommodations for humans on the Mirrraaattee are very limited. We cannot take a family with children. A man or woman who would leave a spouse and/or children behind need not apply. The Teams are very family oriented and would not approve someone who would leave family behind. Also, you have noticed that we give preference to Life-Mates. Life-Mates can work closer with the Glazen, Swizz, and Kin. Another preference is for those not from the US, UK, or Australia. They will be looking for diversity so that this is not perceived as something just those countries are doing. I think that you can understand the problem that we could face if this mission is seen in those terms.”
“Now before we break up here and allow you the opportunity to talk with the various people that have come here to talk with you, there is one last little thing for those that will be embedding with the three Teams. You will by accompany to the party the lead Life-Mates for the Team with which you will be embedding so you will not get the opportunity to interview anyone at this time. You should take the opportunity to contact your bosses and let them know about the embedding. No, we left it to you to tell them. Meet us at the party at one o’clock.” Claire can tell that the news people like the way that they were handling the interviews.
At 1 PM, the interviews ended so that the partygoers could head to the party. The news people had tours and further interviews set up for the next day. There would also be a press conference with representatives from each of the alien races.
As they approached the entrance of the convention center, Robert saw the soon to be embedded reporters talking. Good, they are going to work together.
None of them is dumb, even if you did make Lisa look that way at the memorial. I expect that Doug has taken the lead in planning their cooperation. Alyca looked forward to working with him.
Amy will also be thinking that way. She was the one coordinating the different ABC crews. Willy’s experience working with her Team had been his reason for suggesting them for embedding.
They all could now see where the news people waited for them at the door.
Look at Doug and Amy. Did any of you notice that before? As Nancy watched, the indications that Doug Richards and Amy Tuckey were Life-Mates grew.
I did not see any indication earlier. Let all of us link up. Claire was excited. It is growing. Maybe we can understand a little more about Life-Mates.
The Life-Mate leads of the three Teams joined together mentally. They reached out for the other members of their Teams especially the aliens that are waiting inside at the party.
Definitely the bond is growing. It looks as if an older bond that Amy had is disappearing. Linda Steele, Willy Maclaren’s fiancée, comments.
I don’t think the other bonds is disappearing, it is just changing. Bruce Jenson realized what it is. Have they been married before and did their spouses die?
Yes, Emma died in a car accident three years ago. Alyca remembers how Uncle Jess and Aunt Alice had helped Doug overcome his depression after his loss.
Sharon mentioned how she joined her mother’s crew after the death of her father. It had brought her and her mother closer together. Linda relates how the ABC Team had formed. At first, they had not wanted Lewis on the Team when management suggested he join them, but he and Sharon hit it right off and they were married a couple of months ago.
Life-Mates may not be exclusive but just a bonding between two souls. Claire was hoping to understand why she was part of the only triple Life-Mate bonding that they knew of. It looks like they still had a strong bond to their departed mate but that they are being drawn together and the old bond is shifting.
It looks like we have more questions now than before but I know one other good thing to come out of this. Alyca had known that her Uncle Jess had not fully gotten over the fact that his Alice had died. He knew that baby Alice, his granddaughter who had the soul of his dead wife, would grow and marry someone in this new life she now had. Uncle Jess, join us at the entrance.
When Jess sees the change that his old friend is undergoing, he is initially shocked but then he realized the implication for him. Do I also have someone else out there?
That is not something that I have seen in a vision, but life should be lived with surprises and not with certain knowledge of what will happen. Nancy is glad that her visions do not tell her everything. She had been surprised at what she had felt for Robert and Claire when she had seen them on live TV at the memorial service. I think that we should let their attachment take its course. They are noticing each other.
Thank you, Nancy. Jess was smiling. Yes, that is the way most people find someone. Alice, Will and I growing up together meant that we had known each other before Alice and I became Life-Mates. As youths, we were inseparable. Then our Life-Mate bond grew and Will was on the outside looking in. We were so happy when he found Leslie. Jess turned and headed back to the party.
The Team leads joined up with their embedded news people. In a few minutes, they also joined the party.
Soon after they entered the main room, Ian Macphater accompanied by his children, Andy, Don, Gav, and Leslie, stepped up on the stage with the band. With everyone eager to hear what was to be said, the room quickly quieted. Andy the eldest took the microphone.
“When our father started what was to become Macphater Mining Equipment, he had no other plans than to provide for his wife, three hungry boys, and his new baby girl. He had just been separated from the Army where he had been a mechanic. The repair shop he opened soon became known for being able to repair anything that you could roll in. One of the mines at Charter Towers had imported a big steam shovel. They unloaded it from the ship and found that it had been damaged in a storm. When they looked for someone to fix it, everyone had told them to go see Ian Macphater. Dad not only fixed it, but had suggested a couple of changes to improve it. Soon that mine and others were having dad do work on anything that the mine mechanics couldn’t do. He hired his first employee, Sam Watson, to keep up with the work and started to teach me. The mines requests for special equipment led to continuing growth of the company. Soon we started building standard mine equipment which led to further growth. Along the way I picked up mechanical and electrical engineering degrees so that I could design the equipment.”
He hands the microphone to his brother Don.
“Unlike my brother Andy, I was not that interested in the mining equipment but in the mines themselves. I worked at the company while I went to school to learn mining. When there was a downturn in the mining industry, we found that we now owned a stake in a number of mines. Dad did not believe in owning just part of something, so after a little bit of swapping we fully owned our first mines. Dad gave me the responsibility to run Rainbow Mines.”
Gav now took the microphone and continued the tale.
“Things were going well for the company, so my duties expanded beyond managing the company’s finances to investing our extra money. Well with a lot of luck in making good investments here in Queensland, we soon needed our own investment company to manage our investments. So I moved to Brisbane to run Pot of Gold Investments.”
He hands the microphone to his sister Leslie.
“While my brother’s were building their companies, I was off in Scotland with my soldier husband. After he got himself shot up and then knighted for protecting civilians in the Falklands, dad was able to convince him to take over security for MME. Now, I looked to follow in my big brothers’ footsteps and run my own company, but the only thing that we had that was not being used was all the land in mining claims that did not have recoverable ore. Now much of that is in the Outback so all you had was miles of nothing but wild animals. Beautiful country that I loved from hunting with my family as I grew up. So I set up Out of This World Adventures.”
Ian steps forward and takes the microphone from his daughter.
“Well, I have spent the last forty six year building MME with the help of my family. When my wife Brenda died a few years ago, I decided to start to turn over the job of running MME to one of my children. When the five of us sat down to discuss my retirement, my boys knew whom they wanted to head the company and it only took a few minutes to convince her. Now beside running OTWA, Leslie has been responsible for coordinating the four companies, negotiating with other companies and domestic and foreign governments, working to improve the schools and hospitals in the communities where our companies do business, and working with our employee committees to ensure that MME’s biggest asset our employees was safe, happy, and productive.”
“A few weeks after our meeting to determine who would succeed me, Leslie and Will came to me and said that she wasn’t going to be able to fully take over for a few more years. I couldn’t imagine what could be more important. When they told me, I found it hard to believe that Dame Alice’s Adjacent World Theory would allow us to be able to step across into other worlds. That evening, Alice and Jess along with their daughter Marie, son-in-law John, and friends Tom and Beth Reynolds flew up after the Brisbane conference where Alice had presented her theory.”
“We sat down and discussed what Alice and Jess had planned. In a couple of days, we had a plan that allowed us to proceed without major financial commitments until we had the AJ Power Generator controllers. Jess had built a prototype of the generator but it did little more than prove that Alice’s theory was correct. With the AJ Power Generator, we changed how man generated the power needed for a modern world and we had a source of money to fund our exploration and colonization of the new worlds. That we also would be making mankind safer was just an added benefit.” The energy with which Ian addressed the audience surprised the people that didn’t know him well.
“We now have those new worlds to explore and have made new friends in the Kin, Glazen, and Swizz. In my retirement, I plan to explore the new worlds, learn more about our new friends, and take trips into space. Yes, we now know about new dangers but the threat the Nartak and the Qoof pose to mankind existed long before we learned about it. Now we know about it and have allies to help protect us and our friends.”
“My only regret is not having my wife Brenda by my side, but I now firmly believe that some day that I will once again be with her.”
As Ian hands the microphone back to Leslie, there is applause from the audience that lasted for several minutes.
“That is enough talking, let us have some music and get the party going.” Leslie handed the microphone to the bandleader.
The first song was a slow one. Robert turns to his two Life-Mates. “Which of you pretty ladies will be the first to dance with me tonight?”
“Claire, would you go first. I want to see if my toes will be safe.” Nancy smile showed that she was teasing Robert.
“We may have to keep him to only the slow dances. We do not want to wear him out.” Claire replied.
“Lisa and Tom, please excuse me, I expect to be on the dance floor until my two Life-Mates ask for a rest.” Robert escorted Claire out on to the dance floor.
“The two of you expect to tire him out.” Lisa asked
Nancy laughed. “Not a chance. We have only had a month of training so far. Will says it will be three month until we get close to where Robert is now and by then he should be near our goal. We should be there by the end of the year.”
“Are we going to go through the same training?” Tom Farrel knows that he is not in the same shape that he had been when he was an active marine. Going to the gym a couple of times a week was not enough to keep him in fighting shape.
“Is everyone on the Team going through the same training? The Stanley’s were NASA scientists and Kim Reynolds just had a baby.” When Lisa had joined Tom in going regularly to the gym, she had learned how out of shape she was.
“The age of the humans on Team 1 range from forty-one years to Alice’s six weeks. There is a lot of competitiveness among us but we know that the older members will take longer to catch up. Those ten and younger were originally expected to just develop their coordination and other basic physical skills while learning to work as part of a Team. Kim’s boys wanted more so we are developing games and sports that make use of your mental abilities. An example is blindfolded dodge ball where both sides make use of their ability to perceive people and objects.”
“I have got to get that on film.” Tom knew the video would start a new game craze among the youth around the world. Most people had some ability to sense objects and people.
“Yes, it will be a way to find those with strong ability.”
Nancy did not see the look that Tom gave her as she watched Claire and Robert on the dance floor. Can she read my mind?
After three dances, Robert escorts Claire over to where Nancy, Lisa and Tom were standing.
“You dance very well together. You must have been practicing.” Lisa had spent years as a girl in dance classes and shows.
“We added it as a coordination exercise a couple of weeks ago when we realized what a big affair this party was turning out to be.” Robert did not look even a little winded. “Look at mine and Nancy’s siblings. They are just warming up now, but they have got very competitive. Nav, my brother Ian’s wife, is almost regretting her pregnancy. She does not like sitting on the sideline.”
As Robert led Nancy on to the dance floor, Lisa and Tom looked for where the siblings were dancing. On the far side of the floor, they saw them dancing in front of an intent crowd that ranged from the young children to the older adults. Claire led them over to where they could get a better view.
After a few minutes of watching what was obviously were very good but untrained dancers, Lisa realized that they were standing next to O-dof. The Glazen leader was intently watching the dancers. He was even tapping his foot to the rhythm.
Claire, though intently watching the dancers, was aware that Lisa had just noticed O-dof. “Lisa, Tom. Let me introduce you.” O-dof, I would introduce you to two of those that will record and send out our story to my people.
O-dof turns and regards the reporters. “Greetings”
Lisa was shocked that O-dof spoke English but responded automatically. “Greetings” Her shock only slowed her a second until she was in reporter mode. “What do you think of the dancing?”
O-dof looks at Claire. Does she request information on my knowledge of dancing?
O-dof we should talk English and mentally communicate at the same time. That will help you with your English. Lisa and Tom, this will start to show you how the Glazen think differently and how that will be reflected in their language. We will not get into their language at this time since this is a party. Claire spoke the same message verbally, then waited until Lisa and Tom nodded in agreement.
Claire continued. “Lisa is a reporter who asks questions that will help humans relate to those with whom she talks. She has seen your interest in the humans dancing. She is asking what your thoughts are with respect to the dancing as you watch it. She will be interested in whether the Glazen do something similar to human dancing. She is looking for what ties Humans and Glazens together and where they differ.”
“Yes, Leslie has spoken of reporters asking these types of questions. I will miss Leslie and Will being with the Teams.” O-dof comment surprised Lisa.
“Leslie and Will Maclaren are leaving Team 3?”
“Yes, with Leslie taking over MME, she does not have time to devote to the training let alone be available for long missions. Will will be in charge of training and mission support. Other of the older humans will be switching to advisory roles. We expect that some of the Glazen and Swizz members of the Teams will switch to advisory rolls as we have younger members of their race to take their places. The Kin has taken a different approach with Teams 1, 2 and 3. They are forming new packs for each of the three Teams. Each will have their pack lands on a different world but only a window away from our training area.”
“Who will be replacing them on the Teams?” Tom knew that the three Teams were composed of eight sets of Life-Mates. In addition, there were apprentices and students. This information had been released in a news release the day they got their invitation to come to Australia. He had thought that the apprentices and students was just a way of handling the children of the Team members, but from what they had heard since they got here the children were training with the Teams.
“The first thing to remember about each Team is that they will be working closely together. Since this means also mentally, they have to be very compatible with each other. The members of each Team must agree on new members. So far, we have had no problems. For the humans, we are only taking new members that are recommended by members of the Team. For the Kin, they used the Kin group mind to find individuals for each of the three Teams. So far all of the new members are compatible with the Teams. With the Glazen and the Swizz, we only have a pair of Life-Mates for each Team. We are lucky that there were Life-Mates compatible with each Team. Actually, it looks like the members of each of the three Teams are compatible with any of the three Teams.” Claire’s explanation was not directly addressing Tom’s question.
“Are the new members here? Can we meet them?” Lisa realized that how Teams choose new members would help to explain them to the world. The Teams that were forming all around the world were the biggest topic on most people’s minds.
“We expected you to ask that. Let me introduce you to some of the new Team members, but first let me tell you about when we went to the chemist last Saturday for makeup and perfume for the party.” Her smile and twinkle in her eye told Lisa that though the story sounded no way connected to the question that it would explain much.
“Jenny White, Betsy Maclaren, Carol Stanley, Nancy and I went into a chemist, it is like a drug store back home, to look for makeup and perfume for the party. Dora Fusco was one of the clerks that helped us to decide what we needed. She said that her youngest daughter would be upset that she had not had a chance to meet us. We told her that we would be shopping for a while and that we would love to meet her if she could come down to the store. Dora called her husband and he said that he and their three children would come to the store to meet us.”
Nancy took over the tale. She, Robert, and some other young members of the Team had come over and were listening. “Jenny sensed when they arrived. We could tell that the young Fuscos were possible members for a Team. On the way back to the chemist, I realized that they were more than that. They were Life-Mates of three of the members of the Teams. Most of the members of the three Teams were shopping so we called their Life-Mates and their Life-Mates parents to join us. We did not tell them what was going on. When they met there was instant recognition between the Life-Mates.” She turned and beckoned a young teenage couple over. The boy was obviously a few years older than the girl.
“This is Carol Stanley and Steve Fusco. They are the Human Life-Mates for squad E of Team 1.”
“Hi, I am Fran Fusco. Dave White and I are the Human Life-Mates for squad D.” They were standing closely together with an arm around each other.
“And this is the last pair of Life-Mates that met that day.” Robert looks down at the two children in front of him. “Teresa Fusco and Jason Reynolds. Teresa wanted to visit other world and meet the Kin, Glazen, and Swizz. Her interest led her mother to ask for a chance to meet members of the Team. Now she and Jason are students on squad A. Claire, Nancy, and I are responsible for training them, except when they are training us. They are the youngest pair of Life-Mates of whom we have heard.”
“Our next two new Team members are here because their brother and sister-in-law are members of Team 3. They came here to visit them and Team 3 thought that they had a couple of apprentices. Samantha and Sheila Hunt.” Claire indicated the two sisters. “Yes, they are Charlie Hunts daughters’ but that is not how they got their positions on Team 2. Yes, 2 not 3. Keyvan recognized Samantha as being the Life-Mate of one of his friends back in Persia. As soon as things settle down there, he will be joining us. They will be the Life-Mates for squad D of Team 2. Sheila is interested in mathematics. When Marie talked with her, she realized that she had found the mathematic apprentice she had been seeking. She will be Marie and John Harvey’s apprentice.”
“Aren’t Teresa and Jason young to be Life-Mates?” Lisa looked from them to Tom her Life-Mate.
“You are confusing Life-Mates with sexual mates.” Claire had a wide smile across her face. “I know that you can be one without being the other.”
While they were talking, the dancing had continued. Naz had persuaded her husband Ian Maclaren to request a slow dance. Though she was thirty-five weeks pregnant, she wanted at least one dance with her husband. They had almost finished the dance when, Naz felt her water break.
“It’s time.” She informed her startled husband.
Brenda Maclaren had heard her sister-in-law while she was dancing nearby with her Life-Mate Charles Koloski. Naz is having her baby. Mom, stop the band until we get her off the floor and into a room where she can have some privacy. Brenda’s message had gone out to all of the family.
The family sprang into action to welcome a new member.