Chapter 17

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Cam kicked back on the couch, a Sulawesi Toraja macchiato in one hand and an enormous blueberry muffin in the other.  The house the baristas shared was attached to the rear of their coffee shop, which had numerous advantages, not the least of which was a ready supply of quality coffee and snacks.  The commute was a breeze as well.

Bright mid-morning sunlight streamed in through french doors that were thrown open to the moderately overgrown rear garden.  Cam heaved a contented sigh.  He'd had four hours of sleep, three coffees, two pieces of toast, and apart from the alien invasion issue, life was good.

"There's no place like home."

Cora was standing in front of the television, flicking through channels—every station was showing the same thing.  "Thanks, Dorothy.  But I'm not so sure coming here was the right thing to do.  Maybe we should have woken up Max, to see what he thought."

"It would have taken an earthquake to wake Max up.  He parked himself in the drivers' seat of that tank like he was Captain Kirk and then passed out asleep about two minutes later.  It was just as well that EJ was flying the thing.  He didn't even stir when I carted him up to his room."

"I guess," said Cora, doubtfully.  "I don't suppose Mel is up yet, either?"

"Nah, she was still out like a light when I came down for breakfast.  That girl could sleep for her country."

"I suspect she's going to have to do a whole lot more than that for her country.  We all are.  Have you seen what's on the TV?"  She stepped aside so he could see the screen.

Seated behind a desk, a stern-faced Rigellian glared out from the screen, while over his right shoulder a display scrolled through a succession of images—Earth leaders being led from government buildings at gunpoint, famous landmarks toppled or in flames, jet fighters, tanks and aircraft carriers, all crashing, burning or exploding.

And Rigellian soldiers, marching through the streets of the great cities of the world.

Crowned with an enormously tall bronze hat, the apparent newsreader was was reading from a script and didn't appear to be having an easy time of it.   Cora turned up the volume.

"—is uselessness.  Victory are the forks of Rigel.  All Earth males and ladyboys will bow before Rigel.  Stay at your homes.  Streets are not for the going to of.  All people-persons of Earth will await destructions"—he paused, apparently listening to someone off-screen for a few seconds, before continuing—"will await instructions.  Work will you not go.  Out will you not go.  Pub will you not go.  Moe's Tavern will you not go.  Mall you will not go.  Central Perk will you not go.  And ecksetera, ecksetera.  No other place will you go.  Home you will go.  Stay.  Yes.  Stay with roof on your head.  Going out people-persons will be killed.  A lot.  All people-persons of Earth now owned by Rigel.  Antidisobedience is uselessness.  Resistance is uselessness.  Victory are the forks of Rig—"  Cora turned off the TV.

Cam drained his coffee.  "Hmm.  So I guess that tells us two things.  Firstly, when Flixl Whats-His-Face blew up his lab, he really messed up their translation work.  Secondly, they love reruns."

Cora began to pace back and forth.  "Their diction may be lousy, but they get their point across.  They're saying they're now in charge. Every channel is the same.  Every radio station is running the same message.  All the social media sites are either down or running that message.  I managed to get onto a couple of news sites, one in Costa Rica and another in Swaziland, but they both got shut down before I could read much off either of them.  All the major sites are down."

"It's a real bummer," said Cam.  "I was really looking forward to having a few Duffs at Moe's."

"Cam, please don't make jokes.  This could not be more serious.  Our world has been taken over.  Life as we know it will never be the same again—unless we do something about it."

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