59.2 \ 241

The scene was commonplace, therefore easy not to notice in a normal world – which this wasn’t, but situational blinders are persistent. Just small freight at the back entrance of a supermarket. Only one person visible at a time. Lots of authorized pickups look like this.

They were lifting camping supplies, with the management’s permission and acceptance of responsibility, written and neighbor-witnessed. Readiness stuff, transported in amounts that wouldn’t result in a major infraction if intercepted. Any one load, any one action could be easily mistaken, or explained within the realm of the forgivable. Gretz had been triple-timing on extra errands. He felt motivated. He will sleep, a lot, soon.

People hadn’t pinged back to Kinetryx in a little while. He went in through the back door to check on things, and bumped into his three cohorts, unusually clustered right there. He patted them forward and emerged through them to see what had them stunned. Someone had dropped a spaceship onto the shelves in the center of the supermarket – without dropping it through the intact ceiling. It was a very familiar spaceship, looking a lot newer!

The locals who were working with him muttered in apologetic shock. “Nobody saw it appear,” said one. “I was the first to see it coming in on this lap, and it was just there already.”

“Don’t be too alarmed,” Gretz tentatively soothed, “they might be—“

“FRIENDS!” Wendel burst out of the people door in the side of Drift X, arms upraised and waving the way she would greet him across an airlot. “What could be more important than friends on a day like today?” Her steps as she walked toward Gretz over the supermarket rubble looked a little wavy. Leiv popped his head out of the door, grinning as large as his lady.

“Wendel, have you… slept?” Nevertheless, he opened his arms to receive the hug.

She sighed happily as she gave him a big squeeze. “Time is different right now. I’m fiiine! And you’re fine! Isn’t that just fine?”

“It is, it is. It’s very fine with me.” He glanced around and looked back at his collaborators. “But if it’s me you’re looking for, we could probably let these folks go home so they don’t need to get any more mixed up in this than they already are.”

“Oh!” It dawned on Wendel that the entire situation looked compromising. “Yes, of course you can go home.” She addressed them sympathetically, as though they’d all had a long day at work together. “It’s not like we’re going to make them come with us,” shooting this to Gretz in a classic Starweaver aside. They looked relieved, but they stuck around for Gretz.

“Is there somewhere you want me to go with you?” This might be important, judging by the moment.

“Well… We’re here to see you. And we can’t exactly stay here.” Wendel pointed a finger to the corners of the store. “Do you think those cameras are working?”

“No, they aren’t. Where do you want to go?”

“Where should we go?” Wendel’s returned question was followed by a confused silence.

Gretz suddenly noticed three people outside the ship who weren’t there just a moment ago. Leiv was still peering mischievously from the hatchway. There was a woman in profusively flowing sunset raiment; a bobbling silken checkered harlequin; and a ballcap mechanic suited and covered in grease and debris from head to toe. They appeared in human dimensions, but like images stretched and adjusted to appear so. This exact sense of strangeness corroborated the rumors that Gretz had heard floating around. “Oh, you’re with – I’ve been hearing about them. Kay-Oh-Shee? People can’t stop talking about them. I didn’t even see them there till…” He trailed off trying to think of what happened to make them appear.

The harlequin peered at him half-bowing, approaching to speak in precise language. “You must have finally tipped in favor of the notion that we are possible, when faced with this impossibility. We are not perceivable to those who close their windows of perception. Our visibility is susceptible to the valency of the observer, as opposed to our essential existence, which is not.” They directed some attention to the other humans at the door. “It is so unfortunate that your leadership has been responding to renewed awareness of our existence with such stringency and hostility; though we Kao-Sidhe are but a part of these unfolding events.” The harlequin turned a nod back to Gretz. “I can see that you’re ameliorating the situation for your neighbors.”

“We’re managing. Myself, I’ve had neither quarrel nor involvement with Kao-Sidhe.”

“You have now! I am the Jiggler. Hello, Gretz Manoukian. Your friend Wendel gave us your full name, it helped us find you.”

“Yes… that actually is what full names do.” Gretz peered back at the harlequin as though they were familiar in some way. “Hello, Jiggler.”

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