Matt and Michelle reassure themselves that Matt can repeat the Midnight Miracle.
Michelle and I emerged from our room into a swirling mass of laughing children and one amused woman. Raneem ran up and gave us each a big hug. In quick succession, the rest of the kids did the same.
One of the girls pretended to swoon, saying, “Read me now!”
The rest of the girls took up the cry and soon the floor was littered with giggling girls.
“Have you been telling our story to all of your friends, young lady?” Michelle asked Raneem, smiling to ensure Raneem knew Michelle wasn’t upset.
“Well, we had to have some way to pass the time while we waited for you and Matt to wake up.” The little girl flashed her dazzling smile. “Hey, did you know Matt can do that miracle thing even when he’s asleep? He sent happy waves at us just before we heard you two get up.”
Michelle looked at me, her eyes twinkling. “I thought I felt something like that a while back.”
The woman, struggling hard to contain laughter, said, “Mrs. Connaught, your father asked that I bring the two of you to him when you emerged.”
“You aren’t up here to keep an eye on the kids?” Michelle asked.
“No, ma’am, though having me around did give their current minder time to take a break.”
“Thank you, uh…I’m sorry, I don’t know your name.”
“Elaine Ware, ma’am,” the woman said, leading us to the door. “I’m part of the local GenCo security team.”
“I hope we didn’t keep you waiting very long,” I said as we exited the penthouse.
“Your father-in-law warned me that you and Mrs. Connaught tend to…sleep…quite a lot after you get out of a difficult situation.” Elaine’s cheeks colored slightly as she used the obvious euphemism. “But the children kept me entertained. It also meant I was there for your most recent happy wave.”
We entered the elevator and it descended rapidly.
“Is that what people are calling this ability of mine?” I asked. “The ‘happy wave’ sounds sort of silly to me.”
“It won’t to anyone who’s experienced it, sir,” Elaine said.
“Besides, it beats your name for it, babe,” Michelle said.
“What does he call it?” Elaine asked.
“A positive emotional blast. I mean, seriously?”
“I think Mrs. Connaught is right, sir. I’d stick with the happy wave, if I were you.”
I was saved the indignity of a response when the elevator stopped and the door opened.
Elaine led us down a hallway, through a few twists and turns, and then out into the building’s lobby. It looked far different than I expected.
Strange banners hung on the walls and two huge versions of it dangled from the ceiling four stories above us. The banners were dark blue, with a ring of silver stars encircling a silver spaceship. The ship looked familiar, though it took me a few seconds to figure out why. Even then, Michelle beat me to it.
“It’s the Ark 2,” she said in a low voice.
“Yeah,” I said. “Do you have any idea what’s going on, Elaine?”
“I think explanations are best left to Security Chief Young,” she replied as Jonas approached.
“Thank you, Elaine,” Jonas said. “I hope your wait wasn’t too boring.”
“Not at all sir. The children were most entertaining.”
“I hope the children didn’t keep these two from getting some sleep.”
Elaine’s mouth slid into a slight smirk. “Based on the happy wave I experienced thirty minutes ago, I’d say Mr. and Mrs. Connaught are very well…rested.”
Jonas flashed a knowing smile. “What did I tell you?”
“Daddy!” Michelle said, her own cheeks reddening slightly. “I’d rather not discuss our…sleeping habits…in public.”
“Then I suggest you keep your happy waves just between the two of you, pumpkin.”
“That,” Michelle said archly, “was simply us making sure Matt could replicate his initial success.”
Jonas cocked one eyebrow and said, “Of course.”
“Hey, I’ve got an idea—let’s change the subject.” I waved my arm toward the banners. “What’s all of this for?”
“It’s standard procedure for a planet to display their flag in their consulate offices, sir,” Jonas said.
“Consulate offices?” Michelle and I asked at the same time.
“You are standing in the lobby of the Ark’s Landing Consulate in Cairo,” Jonas replied. Looking at me, he added, “It was your father’s idea.”
“Because a consulate is sovereign territory,” I said. “Psi Corps can’t do anything to us in here because it’s outside of the Terran Federation’s jurisdiction!”
“Damn, that is good!” Michelle said. “So, who’s the Ark’s Landing Consul?”
“Um, you are, pumpkin.” When Michelle opened her mouth to speak, Jonas quickly added, “It’s just a temporary appointment until the planetary council can appoint a permanent consul.”
“It had to be you or Matt. If either of you was captured, we could have used the associated diplomatic immunity to have you released. Apparently, the council thought Matt would be too controversial, so they chose you.”
“Then why in God’s name didn’t you use our diplomatic immunity to protect us from the cops and Psi Corps last night?” Michelle’s eyes blazed so brightly her father actually took a step back.
“The messenger drone carrying your appointment arrived an hour after we got back here. Besides, even if the appointment was official last night, it would only free the two of you. It wouldn’t have worked for Harry Foster, Evie, or Doug.” Jonas met Michelle’s gaze. “Even if you’d thought you would just waltz out of Psi Corps using diplomatic immunity, we both know you’d have done everything possible to complete the rescue.”
“Like father, like daughter,” I said.
Michelle crossed her arms and gave me a flat stare. “You got a problem with that, babe?”
“Nope. I knew what I was getting into when I married you.” Grinning, I added, “I hope the honorable Consul Mrs. Connaught finds that answer to her liking.”
“She does,” Michelle said, her normal smile returning. “So, Daddy, what are my official duties?”
“You’re holding a press conference tomorrow morning at nine. Matt will be at your side,” Jonas said. “Oh, and you have final approval on all appeals for sanctuary.”
“You mean the Foster family, Evie, and Doug? Consider them approved. Do I have to sign anything?”
“Yes, but that can wait. There’s a reason the press conference is so early in the morning,” Jonas said. “Psi Corps is challenging the legitimacy of this consulate and your appointment to the office. Further, they claim you kidnapped three Psi Corps employees and are holding them against their will.”
What kind of trouble can Psi Corps still cause our heroes? Find out in Chapter 47, coming Wednesday.