Copyright© 2015 by Gordon Johnson
Bob Kempe pondered for a moment, then said, "Our former UN diplomat, Ebenezer de la Torre, may have some advice on who we approach. Allow me to speak to him before I make any suggestion."
"That is acceptable. Proceed."
Bob quickly keyed his phone for the de la Tore number. The phone was answered by Euphemia. "Hello? De la Torre Enterprises. How may I assist you?"
"This is Governor Kempe. Is Ebenezer available to talk?"
"I will get him, Governor. He is pricing an order, but that can wait."
Ebenezer's voice soon came over the line. "Hi, Governor. What can I do for you?"
"Ebenezer, old friend, The Personalia have a problem that you might be able to advise on. They have tracked down a lady, Lieutenant Esther Price, USAF, 18th Intelligence Squadron, 4th detachment, currently based at RAF Feltwell in England.
"They want to find out if she was the birth mother of a Malan child, but as she is in Intelligence, she may have been complicit in the matter, and possibly may have a Malan child with her. We need to establish if such a child is there, and in what circumstances; and additionally would she wish to abandon her duties and come to Rehome, with or without the assumed child.
"I would welcome your ideas on this."
"Sorry, Governor, but I have no "in" with USAF Intelligence, and even less with the British forces. You really need someone with a connection to the British military network." He paused then said, "Hang on a minute: Euphemia is trying to tell me something."
There was a murmur of voices in the background, then, "Governor, she says that her late father had many connections to military and civil high echelon folk, so her mother may still be able to access that Old Boy network."
"I see. Well, Ebenezer, how long is it going to take to get hold of your mother-in-law in England?"
"A couple of minutes, sir. She is now living with us! I'll get her for you."
True to his word, shortly the Governor was introduced to Mrs Phoebe Penrose.
"Pleased to meet you, Governor. I came here to be with my daughter, and hopefully to be a doting grandmother to her children. Now what can I do for you, sir?"
"Mrs Penrose, I am led to believe that your husband had contacts in the upper hierarchies of civil and military life in Great Britain. Is that so?"
"I would not put it so strongly, Governor, but he had the ear of quite a few gentlemen."
"The thing is, Mrs Penrose, if you may know some of them, we would like to discover if there is a Malan child on Feltwell RAF base, probably under USAF control. As it is a delicate question, we wish to be circumspect about it. My idea is to make inquiries about a young child with abnormalities, wanted for a scientific investigation into solving such aberrations through DNA applications. Your involvement could be that a nephew of yours is working with the research team. The suggestion should be that someone had mentioned such a child being at RAF Feltwell. There is a large housing estate for USAF personnel, so there are bound to be some children around. You are simply asking about one of them who has apparent abnormalities. If there is one, you would wish to quietly pass on the information to the researchers who may, or may not, wish to contact the family, depending on how many subjects that they already have.
"Does that sound like to sort of enquiry you could make?"
"It appears to be a not unreasonable request to make to an old friend. When do you want the enquiry made, Governor?"
"Any time from now, Mrs Penrose. Please note that the word Malan must never pass your lips in conversation, and it would be wise not to mention that you are currently on Rehome."
"I understand. Mum's the word, Governor."
"Thank you, Mrs Penrose." "Phoebe, please, Governor!" "Thank you, Phoebe. I shall await news from you. Tell Ebenezer that we have made our arrangements. Goodbye, Phoebe."
Phoebe reported this to Ebenezer, adding, "I told him to call me Phoebe, but he didn't have the decency to ask me to call him by his first name!"
Ebenezer was amused. "Phoebe, you don't expect a man in his position to ask you to use his first name, not unless you know each other well! If you met King Charles, you wouldn't expect him to say, "Call me Charlie, Phoebe." That would be being too familiar."
"I get your point, Ebenezer. I shall not take offence, then."
Ebenezer returned to the original discussion. "Are you able to help the Governor with his enquiries, Phoebe?"
"If certain people are still around, I should think so. At the very least, I can ask. They can always say they know nothing."
After checking what time it was in England, Phoebe decided when to make her phone calls. Her first two calls met with bafflement. The reply went along the lines of, "I'd love to help you my dear, but I haven't an inkling about what you are referring to. If I did, I would be delighted to help."
The third call was more productive. "Oh, that child? I know the girl is there, but what her name is, I really couldn't say, old girl. Some American or other, I believe. Sorry to not be able to assist you."
This allowed Phoebe to amend her fourth call, to refer to "a little girl with abnormalities, being looked after by the Americans at the base".
Her RAF contact was more forthcoming. "My dear Phoebe, I am afraid this doesn't come within my remit. You should take it up with the Commandant of the American Personnel. I heard mention of a Lieutenant Price as the girl's mother, but it would be most unseemly to approach her direct. Go through the Commandant, a Colonel something or other; I don't really keep up with their staff structure."
"Not to worry, John. I shall put out feelers and establish the Commandant's name, and take it from there. Even better, I'll leave it to my nephew to make the initial approach. I can imagine the trials for a mother of having a child with such troubles. Poor child!"
"I knew you would understand, Phoebe. How are you coping with your own loss?"
"Remarkably well, I am pleased to say, John. I have regained close contact with my married daughter, and she has helped immensely."
"That is Euphemia, is it not? The translator?"
"That is her, John, she has found a lovely man, married him, and I am to be a grandmother before long!"
"Wonderful! I wish you well, Phoebe."
Thank you, John, Goodbye for now."
Phoebe related this conversation to Ebenezer, and he was delighted. "That is marvellous, Phoebe. That sounds very much like what the Governor wanted. You should give him a ring as soon as you can."
She retailed the story to Bob Kempe, and he in turn told it to The Personalia. They were extremely interested. "The name was definitely Lieutenant Price, you say? It is she who has the child with the so-called "abnormalities"?"
"That was what she said, so I think you hit pay-dirt with that one. Now all you have to do is work out how to extract the child!"
"As of now, Governor, we are working on that problem."
Enid went to the front door to welcome Mother Narech and her Malan brood.
"Come away in, Narech, and the children, too. We have the usual eats and drinks: please help yourselves. You met Mrs Jeannette Reagan last time you were here. Narech, this other lady is Mrs Margo Aquino, newly arrived from Earth with her two daughters, Anita and Carina. Margo, this is Mother Narech, who looks after the Malan children."
Mother Narech glided over, hand outstretched. "Welcome to Rehome, Mrs Margo Aquino. I do hope you will enjoy your stay here." Margo tentatively shook the mechanoid's hand, unsure about this alien being.
Enid then announced. "We have another personal introduction to be made. Jeannette, I would like to formally introduce you to your son, Usgar. Usgar, Jeannette is your birth mother; the lady who nurtured you inside her and gave birth to you. She is genuinely your Mummy."
The two stared at each other, then Jeannette knelt down and opened her arms to her son. Usgar decided to accept facts, and rushed to his new-found mother to get a motherly hug and kiss.
"Usgar, my son. Oh, that sounds so marvellous: I have found my missing son at last. You look wonderful; my dear son. Let me look at you again."
She released Usgar and held him at arms length. "My son!"
Usgar now found his voice. "Mummy? You are really my Mummy?"
"I really and truly am your Mummy, Usgar, and you are really and truly my son, even though your DNA cells are Malan. I am overwhelmed at finally getting to hold my baby. I can tell you, Usgar: I did not get to hold you when you were born, so this is the very first time I have been able to hold you in my arms and welcome you to the world."
She found herself with tears rolling down her cheeks, and Usgar was concerned. "Mummy, why are you crying? Don't you like me?"
"Usgar, I am crying with tears of joy. I am so happy. I have nothing but love for my son."
"Oh. That's all right, then. Can I sit on your lap, Mummy, so I can cuddle you?"
"You can certainly do that, my boy. Let's move to this chair, and you can come on to my lap. I want to hold you, not too tightly, just to have my arms around you. This is wonderful."
Enid turned to the other children, who were staring, eyes wide open, at the scene before them. "Children, we are trying to find the mothers of each of you, and get them to come to Rehome. That would be nice, wouldn't it?"
The three of them nodded numbly, unsure what to say. Enid went on, "While we can't as yet be so definite as we are with Mrs Reagan, I can tell you that Mrs Aquino is the mother of one of you three. Of that we are certain. We now have to do some DNA testing to sort out who is her child.
"I assume, Mother Narech, that you have a DNA profile for each of the children?"
Mother Narech nodded, saying, "Yes, that is so. You merely have to provide a DNA sample of Mrs Aquino to clarify which is her child."
Usgar chipped in, "Mummy, what about the mummies of the other two?"
Mother Narech provided that answer. "Usgar, everyone is working to locate the other Mummies and bring them to Rehome, so we all should have patience, please."
He replied, "Of course, Mother Narech." He switched to looking up at his mother. "I am sorry, Mummy, for asking that. I am glad you found me."
She looked on him fondly. "Usgar, my boy, you can ask me anything at all. It is part of the learning experience that makes you, you."
Ruth was on edge. The ordnance company had phoned to report that the order for rifles was shipping immediately, and was scheduled for delivery to the designated site in 14 hours from now. All she needed was a similar confirmation for the supply of ammunition, and all would be ready for completion of the contract.
Waiting for the other confirmation was now nerve-wracking. If it was delayed, the pickup was in jeopardy. There was a limited time that a stack of boxed rifles could be parked in the desert without attracting the attention of unwanted interference by everyone from passing wanderers to state troopers. Both deliveries had to be made in that short window that had been planned for. While the two delivery points were some miles apart, the recipients required both the rifles and the ammunition, for the contract to be as stipulated.
Her employers, The Team, were noted for that ability to deliver as specified, which was why they were able to charge so much for their service. Any deficiency in the service and every team member would be examined in detail as to why the standard was defective. Her cover could not withstand that. If the second delivery was not going to happen as planned, she had to consider her lines of escape before being discovered.
One scenario was a family emergency, triggered by a call from her supposed salesman husband, saying that one of their children was severely ill. She had a code word that would stimulate him to come out with a panic-laden demand for her presence at home, and hopefully that would enable her to "temporarily" abandon her post.
As she considered that, the phone rang again, and she answered, "Commandant's Office: How may I help?"
"Can you inform the Commandant that his order, no. 763/MA27/1009 is now loaded for despatch, and will be delivered to the specified delivery point in eleven hours from now, give or take a little, depending on traffic and other factors. Your order has the delivery note tagged as RA230579."