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Authors: Krato
Show Year: Y3
Rating: PG-13
Date: 2001
Three wishes… Imagine what would happen if a genie came to Alpha.
Average Rating: No reviews.

I would like to make a small apology to Year1 fans at this point for my weak attempt at irreverent humour, directed largely at Year 1 characters. But come on, you've had it too easy for too long so consider this the revenge of the Year 2 fans.

"Beebeebeebeep ... Beebeebeebeep ... Beebeebeebeep"


"Alright, I'm tapping my foot now," said the deep, masculine voice.

Tony Verdeschi stirred briefly.

"Oh, come on. I thought you people only needed eight hours max." The voice had risen slightly in irritation.

Tony rolled over onto his side, pulling the sheet down to just below his hips. The tall, dark haired figure rolled his eyes. "That's just great. Deaf as a post and sleeps in the buff." He took a step forward and gingerly picked up an errant corner of the sheet with a finger and thumb, at which point, Tony's eyes snapped open. With a startled cry, he dragged himself upright, clutching the bedcovers to him.

The figure held both hands up defensively. "Don't panic, I wouldn't touch you with a ten-foot barge pole."

"What do you want?" Tony panicked.

The flamboyantly clad gentleman raised his eyebrows. "That's interesting. They usually start off with, "Who the hell are you?"

Eyes out on stalks, Tony replied, "I don't care who you are, I want to know what you're doing in my bedroom."

"Look, I wasn't trying to touch you up just then. You turned over in your sleep and were about to expose yourself which I can assure you was the last thing I wanted."

"I don't care about that. What do you want?" he tried again.

The stranger frowned now. "You don't care? You're not..." he held up his right hand and let his wrist go limp, "that way, are you?"

By now, Tony was getting exasperated. "For crying out loud!"

"Alright, alright, calm down." Throwing back his broad shoulders, he announced, "My name is Cyldereamus and I am here to grant you three wishes."

Tony gaped like a goldfish. "You're a genie?"

"Well, I can safely say, I wouldn't be wearing curly toed shoes and baggy pantaloons if I wasn't."

"Bugger me!" exclaimed the wide-eyed Italian.

At once, the genie was on his guard again. "Now look, if that's one of your wishes, you can forget it. I've already told you, I'm not like that."

Tony growled, "I'm not interested in your body. JUST TELL ME WHAT'S GOING ON!"

Once again, putting on his official voice, Cyldereamus stated, "I have come from a far off galaxy to bring to you your heart's desires."

"Why?" asked the bemused Alphan.

"I just have, that's all, it's what we do."

"We? You mean there's a planet full of genies somewhere?"

"Yes, Genius," the genie smirked and seeing Tony's blank expression, asked, "Don't you find that funny?"

Tony shrugged. "Possibly, if it's true. You might've made it up."

"Well I didn't," said Cyldereamus, annoyed. "Let's call it ironic then shall we?"

"Can I go and put some clothes on?" Tony asked.

"I wish you would."

Instantly, Tony found himself in his Security Chief uniform. As he slid out of bed, Cyldereamus stared with disgust at the bell-bottom uniform trousers. "All of a sudden, my own mode of dress seems quite appealing."

"Hey, what have you done? That wasn't one of my wishes was it?" he asked worriedly.

Impatiently, the genie told him, "You're not listening mate, it was my wish, nothing to do with you."


"Yes, oh," he nodded, inordinately pleased that he had got one over on the irritating human being. "So, shall we make a start?"

"Okay." Tony stood up and followed him out of the bedroom door. "Erm, what are we making a start on?"

"There are going to be big changes around here I should imagine. I want to get a feel for the place before you make your wishes."

"Hold on a minute, I can't make these wishes alone. I'll need to call a senior officer's meeting, the Commander needs to be informed..."

"He's busy," Cyldereamus said firmly.

Tony's eyes narrowed suspiciously.

"Busy," the genie confirmed. "Why do you think I came to the oily rag instead of the mechanic? Obviously I went to Commander Koenig first but he was busy."

"It's seven o'clock in the morning for God's sake, what was he doing that was so important?"

Cyldereamus coughed discreetly. "He had a woman with him," he said quietly.

Tony laughed uproariously. "You mean Helena?"

"Whoever. I couldn't interrupt a bloke on the job. I had to make myself scarce pretty fast."

Much to his chagrin, Tony Verdeschi was doubled over with laughter. Cyldereamus strode briskly through the entrance door and out into the corridor where he turned swiftly to face him. "Are you coming or not?"

John walked out of the bathroom, freshly showered, just as Helena was finishing drying her hair. She swivelled round on her stool. "Maya."

"What about her?"

"I've been thinking about it. It could've been Maya watching us."

"Come on, Helena, that's ridiculous. Maya wouldn't dream of doing something like that," said John, inwardly squirming with a not unpleasant sensation at the thought.

Helena sighed. "I know. But there was someone there, just for a moment. I know there was."

"Trick of the light."

Reluctantly, she had to agree and John quietly mulled over the Maya theory again.

"Look Cyldereamus, you realise I can't let you just wander all over the base, it'd be breaching security."

The genie cast him a deprecatory look. "Have you any idea how dum that sounds? How do you think I got into your quarters? I just wished it. I could wish myself wherever I wanted to be."

"Well don't. I need to get you to the Commander first."

"But I told you..."

Verdeschi cut him off, "At his age, he won't be busy for long, trust me."

They had only just reached the Commander's quarters when Maya appeared at the far end of the corridor.

"Morning," Verdeschi called out.

She didn't respond but continued walking steadily towards them, her eyes fixed on their new visitor.

"Hi," said the genie, suavely. "I'm Cyldereamus, Mister Verdeschi's genie."

Maya tentatively shook his proffered hand, her shocked expression easing into something else altogether as she took in his smooth, broad and perfectly naked torso. "His what?" she asked, forcing herself to look at his beautifully chiselled face instead, only to find a pair of twinkling hazel eyes with even more allure.

Tony frowned. "His genie. This is Maya, my Psychon," he said meaningfully.

"Maya." He stooped several inches and kissed her hand which he still held firmly in his. "If I'd known about you, I'm sure I could've arranged to be your genie instead."

"I wish..." began Tony and then abruptly shut his mouth.

"Sorry, did you say something?" asked Cyldereamus with a sly grin.

Choosing to ignore him, he turned to Maya and told her, "A genie is a mythical creature derived from ancient Arabian folklore back on Earth..."

"Mythical creature? Do I look mythical?"

"...who traditionally wears these stupid baggy pant things..."

Balking in an exaggerated fashion at that, Cyldereamus thrust an open hand in the general vicinity of Tony's lower half.

"...and curly clown shoes."

The genie smiled down benignly at Tony. "Flat heeled curly clown shoes."

"But for some reason, our boy here seems to be lacking a turban and that all important genie-mobile, a shiny golden lamp."

Cyldereamus crossed his bulging biceps across his six-pack and stood with his legs wide apart as though he was standing guard. "Point one, my turban was lost in transit because of point two."

"And what is point two, Cyldereamus?" asked Maya, ingratiatingly.

"Point two being that when an acquaintance of mine saw fit to drop off a few recreational toys here, you were such babies that you nearly killed yourselves trying to find out how they worked. I think my visit might've been fairly short-lived once the lamp was discovered and tossed back out into space."

Maya beamed. "You know us so well."

"If you don't need to use a lamp to get about in, why bother at all?" Tony grouched.

"I don't normally but Earth people made up this bizarre fantasy about it and seem to expect it now."

Wagging her finger at him, Maya asked, "I know about you don't I? We had genies on Psychon."

"I was wondering how long it'd be." He put a comforting arm about her shoulders. "Sorry about the total destruction thing by the way."

She sniffed and laid her head on his breast for a brief moment. "Thank you."

"Yes, the Psychon equivalent to a genie is a Charq-ismin Anaplew J`a Masso Mroog," said Cyldereamus.

"Of course! It translates as 'Wishman', Tony," said Maya, delightedly.

"Yeah, course." Tony held his finger poised over the Commander's door buzzer. "Shall we?"

At that moment, the door slid away and they found themselves within inches of Koenig and Helena.

"Tony!" said Koenig in surprise.

"John," he greeted.

"Maya," John said.

"Good morning, Commander."

"And... someone else." John made eye contact with the figure towering behind the two Alphans. Standing aside, Tony explained, "This is Cyldereamus, my genie." He liked that; it had a certain ring to it, like he might actually have the genie under his thumb.

"Right," John said slowly, holding out his hand to shake. "I'm John Koenig, Commander of Moonbase Alpha. This is Doctor Helena Russell, Chief Medical Officer."

Helena took a step out of the doorway to shake his hand also. "Glad to meet you."

"Physician heal thyself," Cyldereamus chuckled.

"I'm sorry?" Helena queried.

"My mother was a martyr to it for years."

She frowned. "To what exactly?"

"Stiff neck."

Three pairs of eyes hit the deck like Exocet missiles.

"I don't suffer with a stiff neck," Helena told him, her fingers immediately flying up to gently stroke under her chin.

"Ah," said the genie, realising he had managed to make a faux pas of some sort. "My mistake. May we come in?"

Within half an hour, a meeting had been convened in the Conference Room adjacent to Command Centre. Those present now included Alan Carter, Sandra Benes and Victor Bergman; the latter being invited purely as a sop to his own delusional status. Senility had unfortunately set in three years hence and Bergman had been quickly relieved of all official duties. Unofficially of course, he was still pottering around in his lab. To keep him busy recently, Koenig had given him a sample of Verdeschi's home brew to analyse. So far, the closest guess the Professor had made was alien venom. And there lay another problem - Maya. The original intention had been for Victor to retire quietly and Maya to take over his lab. Having refused point blank to give up his territory, he had, however, seemed quite amenable to sharing. His reasoning behind this had become apparent rather quickly though after a nasty incident with a scalpel. Taken in by security for questioning, the Professor had readily explained that he had been in the process of 'dissecting the alien'. Maya now avoided him wherever possible although on unavoidable occasions such as this, she made sure she kept at a healthy distance.

"So is that it now?" Cyldereamus asked Tony. "You don't feel the need to drag anyone else in on this? Your grandmother? Maybe your psychiatrist? Got a dog with a valid opinion?"

"I thought this was serious stuff. You said yourself you were expecting to see big changes around here. What I wish for will effect everybody."

"One of your wishes won't." The genie told him.

Why won't it?"

"Because you'll wish for what most men wish for."

"Which is?" asked Tony, intrigued.

The room suddenly went strangely quiet.

"Which is..." The genie's eyes darted furtively to Tony's nether regions.

Tony held his hands palms up. "What? What is it you think I'm going to wish for?"

Maya sniggered.

"A Ferrari's no good unless I've got somewhere to drive it."

"Streuth, Tone," Alan Carter exploded. "He's on about a monster donger!"

The room erupted into smutty giggles.

"Cheeky sod," said a flushed Verdeschi. "What makes him think I'd need to waste a wish on that?"

"Excuse me," said Professor Bergman, getting to his feet, "but who is this fellow?" His wavering finger was pointed at Tony. Everyone ignored that question as they usually did. "I don't remember him. Do we know him?"

That Professor Bergman was neither use nor ornament wasn't strictly true. Given a woolly bobble hat and a fishing rod, he wouldn't have looked out of place sitting by the small pool in the Biosphere.

"Does Tony have a time limit?" John asked sensibly.

"I would like to be home for Christmas," Cyldereamus answered sarcastically but added, "I'm generally done and dusted by nightfall but seeing as you're a bit short on sunshine around her, can we say 6:00pm?"

"Fine by me," said Tony, checking his dial. "It's not going to take ten hours to do this."

"Well, I think that you should take your time, Tony," said Sandra. "Remember what they say, be careful what you wish for, it may just come true."

Tony nodded. "I know how it works. Don't just ask for new shoes 'cause you could finish up with a pair of six-inch high pink stilettos. I've got to be specific."

"Smarty pants," Cyldereamus muttered, realising that this might not be one of his most fun wish lists.

"So," beamed Tony, slapping his hands on his thighs, "the big question is, ideally, do we want to be returned to Earth or do we want a whole new planet of our own?"

Everyone went quiet. To be faced with such a choice wasn't easy.

"I'd like us to return to Earth," John began.

"Uhh, typical," groaned Maya.

"But," he frowned at Maya's interruption, "as I'm sure Maya would be able to tell us, there are just too many variables to be taken into account. We've gone through numerous space warps and black holes, who's to say what Earth would be like if we went back now, if it even exists."

"So it's a new planet for us then," said Alan.

Helena was warming to the idea. "But not just any old planet. This will be a designer planet, created to Tony's specifications."

Tony's eyes suddenly lit up. "Hey yeah. Instead of countries, we could have themed zones. Remember the film 'Westworld'? We could do that."

"What, you mean create a population for it?" asked Alan.

"No. I don't think we want people do we?" he asked, looking about him.

The general consensus was that people they could do without but they at least had the rest of the day to change their minds if necessary.

"Tropical Zone," Tony dreamed aloud. "Full of palm trees and lagoons and white sandy beaches."

At the mention of sand, Alan's imagination took off. "Surfer Zone." His arm came up to skim over the undulating waves he saw in his mind's eye. "Hundreds of miles of perfect surf, sea, sand and ... Surfer Babe Zone right next door."

Sahn made a face. "I thought we were not going to have any other human life on our planet."

Alan grinned. "So who said anything about my Surfer Babes being human?"

"Alan!" exclaimed Maya. "If you're suggesting the use of android women for... for..."

"Recreational purposes," Tony supplied.

"Mm, that, then I'm truly disgusted."

"It was just a thought."

"Keep 'em coming, Al," Tony winked.

The Commander, who had been ruminating over the idea, sat forward, elbows on the table. "I'm not sure I like the idea of 'zones'. It's maybe a little too surreal for real life."

"Then perhaps just a couple of vacation zones," offered Helena.

For the next half hour, they discussed every relevant aspect of their tailor made planet, from temperature ranges to animal life forms. Throughout the proceedings, the genie was unexpectedly quiet, sitting by himself a little way apart from everyone else. Tony put this down to a necessity to refrain from interfering whilst the wishes were being decided upon. However, when they had finally drawn up their list of requirements into a flawless wish proposal, Cyldereamus took a cursory glance at the sheet of paper John handed him before letting it drop from his fingers to skid across the table top.

"Nope," he said decisively.

They were stunned. "No to which bit?" Tony asked.

"No to all of it."

Professor Bergman, who had been making a range of wonderfully aerodynamic paper aeroplanes up until this point, looked up and said in a loud whisper, "He's another alien you know. We'll be overrun with the devils before you know it."

"Maybe you have to read it out loud, Tony," Sahn suggested.

"Nope," said the genie again.

"Have we asked for too many things within the one wish?" Helena tried.


The Commander snatched up the piece of paper. "We! Is that it? It's Tony's wish you're granting, we shouldn't have contributed to it."

Cyldereamus shook his head. "Basically, you've asked for way too much. I'm a genie, not a god. You're asking me to conjure up an entire planet as one wish! Get real - I do magic, not miracles."

Tony, rather than being disappointed, was now angry. "If you can't do it, why the hell have you been sitting there letting us go on about it for so long?"

Cyldereamus stretched his legs out before him and laced his fingers behind his head. "No point getting shirty with me Sunny Jim. You should've realised. What's that famous book everybody on Earth talks about? Errm..." He momentarily raised his eyes to the ceiling whilst he thought. "I think it was written by some bloke named Shakespeare. The Bible! That's it."

"Wasn't that Hemmingway?" Victor called out, watching his paper Eagle take a nosedive.

"Seven days it took your particular god to make your Earth... Or was it forty days and forty nights? Anyway, it wasn't just a click of the fingers now was it?"

"Point taken," said John, "although Tony's right, we have just wasted a lot of time.."

Cyldereamus got to his feet and began wandering the room. "Not wasted. Now at least both parties know what the other wants."

"Fine," said a disgruntled Alan, "but you can't give us what we want."

"Oh, give me strength!"

"But maybe we can have what we want if it already exists or at least something very similar," said Sahn, hopefully.

The genie blew her a grateful kiss and Sahn went uncontrollably gooey.

"So, I can wish for the nearest thing you've got on offer?" asked Tony.


They spent another five minutes carefully rewording the wish, making sure it was made clear that the only part of Moonbase Alpha they didn't want to take with them was the nuclear dumping areas.

"Right, we're ready." Verdeschi presented the genie with the finalised paperwork and after reading it through, Cyldereamus nodded his approval. "Credit where it's due. I've got a good idea now what it is you want."

"Do you want me to read it out loud?" Tony asked, remembering Sahn's comment from earlier.

"I know you like the sound of your own voice but that doesn't mean we all do so you can keep it zipped." He addressed John. "This is still a biggie so give me a few minutes." And he and the first part of the Alphan wish list vanished into the wild blue yonder.

"One down, one to go," Professor Bergman noted, giving Maya a sideways look.

The Psycho transformed her facial features into those of a slavering werewolf and feigned a lunge towards Victor. He shrieked, holding his forefingers up in front of him to form a cross. Maya quickly changed back, giggling mischievously.

"Stop antagonising him, Maya," Tony reprimanded, "you know it only makes him worse."

"Well, he asks for it."

Helena had linked her arm through the professor's and was escorting him out of the room. "Shall we go and find you a nice cup of tea, Victor?"

He patted her hand. "Ah, tea. Thank you my dear. And then I'll tell you what I saw the alien doing to that Vermicelli chap last night. I warn you Helena, she'll suck the life-force from each and every one of us."

Helena gave him a reproving look. "Victor! What have I told you about spying on people? It really isn't acceptable, you know."

"Let's go and wait in command Centre," said John, quickly. "I'd better make an announcement otherwise people could be in for a shock."

No sooner had they trooped into the Command Centre next door than the big screen directly in front of them suddenly exploded into a sizzling cauldron of colours. Blues, green and browns swirled together, interspersed with bright flashes of yellow, red, purple, pink and every other conceivable shade. Then the psychedelic mish-mash disappeared and a breathtaking image of nature snapped into focus on the screen. Standing before a sparkling, crystal clear lagoon and surrounded by high, craggy black cliffs was Cyldereamus. Glossy, flower-strewn vegetation grew all about and the backdrop of the raging waterfall could be clearly heard.

"So, what do you think?" The genie's voice boomed around Command Centre.

"Is it Earth?" asked one of the operatives.

"We decided against Earth," John told him.

"Did we?"

"It was unanimous."

"Was it? I don't remember that. And we had a choice did we?"

"We did but we decided on a new, uninhabited planet."

The man's face dropped a little. "I think I would've preferred Earth, actually." He turned to the operative next to him. "You'd have preferred Earth wouldn't you, Tanya?"

Tanya Alexander grimaced at the difficult question. "Weeeeeeeell, I suppose it would depend on how much has changed since we left and..."

Cyldereamus placed his hands on his hips. "Do you like it or not?"

"Looks good to me," Tony enthused. "When do we leave?"

"You've already left. You're seeing me in real-time."

The Commander walked closer to the big screen. "You mean Alpha is on the planet? We've moved without realising it?"

"What were you expecting, a couple of handbrake turns and the screech of brakes? Come outside and have a look around."

Helena had arrived with the Professor, both carrying plastic containers of tea and just managed to catch the last part. "Can we go outside? Now? Breathe the air? Swim in the water?"

Cyldereamus gestured towards the lagoon with a sweep of his long, muscular arm. "I wish you would."

Helena popped onto the screen behind Cyldereamus, immersed up to her shoulders in water. Everybody in Command Centre looked round to see if Helena really had gone.

"Where are my clothes?" cried Helena, holding her arms across her naked torso.

"On that rock over there." The genie nodded towards a large outcrop on the bank close by. "Anyway, it isn't like I haven't seen it all before - well, most of it."

Helena looked even more shocked. "It was you in John's room!"

"Sorry," he said sheepishly. "As soon as I realised, I was out, honestly."

Maya caught a wistful gaze directed at her by John but fortunately misinterpreted it as embarrassment.

"If you want to start sending your people out, Commander Koenig, I'll organise the Sherry and mince pies," the genie told him.

Tony laughed rather rudely. "The what?"

Cyldereamus was clearly offended. "Isn't that what you do at social functions on Earth?"

"Only at Christmastime," put in Maya, eager to show off her own acquired cultural knowledge.

"And even then," scoffed Alan, "you wouldn't catch a real man drinking Sherry. Flamin' poofs drink!"

The genie squared his shoulders and flexed his pecs rather menacingly. "If you've got something to say, blondie, you'd better step outside and say it."

Oblivious to the turn the conversation had taken, Helena could be seen bobbing around in the background, waving playfully.

"I'm sure we'd be grateful for any refreshments you'd care to provide," soothed Koenig "Besides, it isn't every day we get an offer of Sherry and mince pies."

Looking behind him at Carter, the Commander mouthed something that looked suspiciously like "Antipodean idiot."

After making a base wide announcement to let the rest of the crew know why portal and observation lounge aspects were suddenly given over to views of lush lemon groves not unlike those of Southern Italy, John and the other meeting attendees popped outside for a breathe of fresh air. Victor was happy to stay behind to 'keep an eye on things at this end'

"There's no doubt that this planet is perfect for our needs," Maya said, sipping at her banana daiquiri.

"Perfect," scowled Alan into his Campari and lemonade.

They were seated around two silver chromium bar tables on matching chairs, canvas parasols above their heads to shade them from the glare of the planet's hot sun. Moonbase Alpha loomed several hundred feet behind and every available portal was crammed with happy, smiling faces.

"Would someone please hand me my clothes?" called Helena from the edge of the lagoon but the heavy rush of the waterfall obscured her voice.

"Still, we should take a couple of Eagles up," said John. "If there's something not right for us, we need to know while Tony still has those two wishes left." God, the genie sure knew how to mix a great John Collins.

"I don't think you'll have any problems," Cyldereamus told them, evidently quite proud of his success.

"John, I need my uniform," yelled Helena.

Sahn leaned back in her chair with a sigh. "Oh, it is so warm and peaceful here and we have everything we could possibly need now."

"I thought this was a nice location for Alpha. To the South, there's plenty of good fertile farming land and you see that break in the mountain range up there?" They all turned to look and saw Helena waving frantically at them. They waved back, wondering why she wasn't drinking her cocktail with the rest of them. "There's a pathway that runs right through to the other side where there's a series of natural hot springs."

"Hot springs?" Tony's mind veered off at a tangent.

"That sounds great," Alan exclaimed, "Jacuzzis in our own back yard. Is there the making s for a barbie anywheres?"

"You'll find twenty-seven species of mammal within a ten mile radius, most of which can be used for food and at least three as working animals. There are also twelve types of edible fruit and fourteen vegetables. Of course, there's lot more outside that radius."

"Right then." Tony polished off the second half of his Bloody Mary in a single draught and wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. "Let's get this survey done."

"We haven't finished our drinks yet, Tony," Maya protested.

"Work to be done," he said, standing up, his eye wandering along the base of the mountains.

"Just a few minutes more," begged Sahn. "Let me finish my..." She looked into her glass, trying to decide what it was she was drinking.

Cyldereamus was sitting to her left and now leaned in close to inform her, "Screaming Orgasm."

Sahn squeaked, "Oh!" and blushed violently.

Caught mid suck by a burst of shocked laughter, the straw escaped from Maya's lips and a small trickle of creamy banana daiquiri dribbled down her chin.

Tony sat back down rather abruptly, murmuring, *Oh, God," as he drew his chair closer under the table to avoid any attention to the trouser department Maya's messiness might provoke. His thoughts, moments earlier of exploring the hot springs with her, on top of this were proving too hot to handle.

"No, Tony's right," said John, draining his glass. "There's a lot of other people anxious to get out here and see our new home." He looked over to Helena. "I'd better see if I can prise Doctor Russell out of there."

As everybody else stood up, Tony surreptitiously reached for his sample case, lengthened the shoulder strap as far as it would go and followed the others with it positioned rather awkwardly across his chest to dangle down in front of him.

"So." Cyldereamus placed a hand lightly on Maya's hip. "Can I show you the hot springs?"

"That would be wonderful," the Psycho beauty simpered.

Tony found himself trailing behind, feeling like a kid who's been ditched at his own party. Cyldereamus turned suddenly. "You don't mind do you, Tony? I'm sure you'd like some time to mull over your second wish, anyway."

So he was being dismissed altogether! "Maybe I could tag along with John and Helena," he said, going for the sympathy vote.

"I'm sure they'll have some suggestions," Maya said, smiling prettily up at the genie.

"I thought you'd have some ideas yourself."

"One or two."

And Tony was almost certain he saw a 'look' pass between them. He stomped ahead of them, his sample bag now free to bash annoyingly against his side as he walked.

As he reached the edge of the lagoon, he heard John whining, "I'm sorry, okay? How many more times?"

"Just shut up and help me get out." Then, seeing Tony approaching, Helena barked, "Turn around."

When Helena used that tone of voice, nobody needed telling twice, especially if Doctor Russell was sporting a pair of rubber surgical gloves at the time. Tony turned his back on them and watched Alan and Sahn heading South through the lemon grove.

"John, do you get the impression Maya's throwing herself at Cyldereamus?"

"I don't know that I'd put it quite like that," John faltered."

"Well, interested then?"

"Interested, yes. Certainly interested."

Tony scratched his head. "Oh boy. So what do I do?"

There was a bit of a pause before John answered. "I think it might be prudent to do nothing."

"Prudent?" Tony swung round.

"Tony!" screeched Helena as she struggled to drag her tunic top on over wet flesh.

"What do you mean by 'prudent'? he asked, his temper beginning to rise. "Are you saying I should let Maya 'prostitute' herself?"

"I think that may be too strong a word, seeing as she isn't exactly fighting him off."

"Yeah, well, maybe she's being prudent too," Tony defended.

Helena glared hard at him, unsure which was making her madder, the fact that he hadn't done as he was told and looked away, or that he wasn't even interested in the potential eyeful he could be getting. "Come on, Tony, the guy's sex on legs."

"He's what?" John asked, totally thrown by her turn of phrase.

"You know what I mean." She smiled inwardly at John's reaction as she fastened up her skirt.

"Right then," said Tony, bitterly. "You want me to stand by and let them get on with it."

"It's only until 6:00pm tonight. And it's not just Maya; look how she was coming on to Sahn back there."

"Sahn, too?" asked Helena, lightly.

"He's just a ladies man, a charmer, Tony. You've got nothing to worry about," John assured him.

The set off at a slow pace past the waterfall and on through the more densely growing vegetation further up. "Well, he hasn't charmed me," said Helena, fiestily.

"No, he hasn't has he?" agreed Tony. "You must be loosing your touch."

An hour later, Koenig summoned another dozen people from the base to extend the survey. They brought with them Eagles and equipment and three other areas of the planet were explored. At 3:00pm, they all met up again to discuss their findings and shortly after, the planet was declared suitable for human habitation.

Cyldereamus was slumped in a chair, slugging back his sixth rum and Coke when Koenig gave the word for all but a skeleton crew to evacuate Alpha. They now had only two hours to decide upon the two remaining wishes.

"So whaddya want next, Verdeschi?" asked the genie, clapping Tony a bit too roughly on the back. Sahn and Maya giggled girlishly at his antics. Cyldereamus was obviously in his element, with several other females now giving him admiring glances.

"We're still undecided," said Tony, shortly.


"Yeah, undecided." There was a hint of a challenge in Tony's voice.

"So have another drink, loosen the cogs a bit."

A frosty pint glass of rich, golden liquid appeared on the table, its creamy head of froth, the finishing touch that offered more promise than the sum total of every single beer commercial ever produced. After the initial shock had worn off, Tony sat forward until his head was only inches away from the miraculous new arrival, a glazed look in his eye.

"Mmm, beer..."

"That's a good looking pint, mate," said Alan, who was equally agog.

"How can you tell without tasting it?" Sandra wanted to know.

"You can tell," chimed the two devotees together.

Seconds passed. Well?" Maya had bent right down, her head level with Tony's. "Are you going to drink it or just sit looking at it?" she whispered.

He turned and their noses were almost touching. "I'm savouring the moment," he whispered back with the same mock reverence and they both broke into laughter.

"Harems are always popular," Cyldereamus intervened.

Heads swivelled.

"What?" asked Tony, not sure that he'd heard correctly.

The genie shrugged nonchalantly, glad to see that his words had had the desired effect of separating the pair. "Couple of dozen attractive women at your beck and call... it's not surprisingly one of the more popular requests."

Tony wore an amused expression. "Erm, are you serious?"

Cyldereamus nodded eagerly, certain he had hooked him. "Oh, completely."

"A harem?"

The ladies were looking uncomfortable; the men were trying their damnedest not to look anything.

"I believe they were once all the rage on Earth," the genie offered.

Helena cracked first. "I believe they were also known as brothels," she said hotly.

In a 'merely interested' voice, Alan started to point out that that wasn't strictly true.

"Shut up, Alan," Helena grated.

"Sorry, Helena," said Alan and slipped a little further down in his seat.

Through his lowered lashes, Cyldereamus tried to gauge Maya's reaction. She in turn was watching Verdeschi, her arms folded, rubbery brows raised expectantly.

"Tell me, Cyldereamus," said Tony, cocky once again after the quick nose-nuzzle with Maya, "am I in need of a harem?" He placed a possessive hand on a shapely Psychon knee.

The genie threw Maya a smouldering look and told him, "You can't have too much of a good thing."

"All things in moderation," Tony fired back.

All eyes turned to Cyldereamus, awaiting his retort.

"Everything comes to he who waits." The genie's face shone triumphantly and the ball was back in Tony's court.

He served up his response quite wonderfully. "Don't count your chickens before they've hatched."

Here, Cyldereamus floundered and lost the point to Tony by coming out with, "Well... a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush... isn't it?"

Helena was disgusted. "That's enough. We don't want to hear that kind of dirty talk thank you."

"I'm having that back then," said Cyldereamus, peevishly as he pointed an index finger at the glass of beer which still stood untouched. Tony tried to keep his emotions in check when the beverage vanished.

"Was that really necessary?" he sulked.

"Don't bother whinging, it was a freebie anyway. I didn't have to stump up the drinks for all two hundred and ninety two of you did I?"

"A brewery!" Verdeschi exclaimed loudly and with relish, to which the general response was a series of sighs and groans. "Yeah, I could wish for our own Alphan brewery."

"No, Tony," John told him firmly.

"We could try out a few 'real ales'."

"It'd be a waste of a wish, Tone. There are more important things to think about," said Alan.

"Maybe branch out into a winery..."

Maya patted his knee gently. "We've talked about this, Tony, haven't we? You're obsessing again. Remember what Doctor Vincent told you in your last counciling session? You won't find the answers to your problems at the bottom of a vat of hops."

Tony ran his hands through his thick, black hair, mumbling, "I didn't have any problems until they dismantled all the beer-making kit."

"Sore point?" the genie asked.

"Excruciating," answered Koenig.

"Clothes?" Sahn asked hopefully. "It has been so long since any of us had any half way decent clothes to wear and it will be a long time before we are able to start producing our own fabrics won't it?"

Helena smiled brightly. "Exactly. Actually, I suggested a shopping mall; why not go the whole hog?"

"Because we're more in need of the fundamentals such as housing and a more varied diet," John put in.

"But we have those things now, Commander." Sahn complained. "Surely our quarters will be sufficient until we can build extra accommodation and we have food growing all around us just waiting to be harvested."

"We need to have some fun, John," Helena wheedled.

He threw his hands up in exasperation. "Fine, have fun, see if I care. Let's have ourselves a couple o' theme parks while we're about it," he yelled.

A great cheer rose up from the milling crowds of Alphans and Koenig had to shout to make himself heard above the applause. "Goddamnit, we're not having a theme park, or a brewery."

Disappointment was evident from the groaning and tutting that ensued and also the rather loud raspberry which may or may not have been blown by a certain Doctor Mathias.

"So what do you want me to wish for?" asked Tony, getting ever so slightly narked by all this indecision.

"Hour and a half," Cyldereamus mentioned unhelpfully.

There followed much 'umming' and 'arring', especially from Maya who was on the receiving end of a shoulder rub from Cyldereamus.

Petrov, Alpha's weapons expert and Tony's right-hand man had made his way to their tables, his glass of Tia-Maria and Babysham held up high to avoid spillage.

"I would like to make a suggestion for the second wish," said the thickset Russian.

"And is it a sensible one?" asked the Commander, harshly.

"That would depend on how you look at it, sir."

Koenig snorted. "If that's a no, you can take yourself off back to Alpha right now."

Petrov continued. "Commander, back on Earth, I was a big fan of Star Trek..."

"And you got through the L.S.R.O psychological evaluation?" John queried incredulously.

"Err, yes sir but what I was going to say was..."

"So when you say 'a big fan'," said Tony, perking up a bit, "do you mean you watched every episode or you watched every episode and then bought the videos and wore the T-shirts?"

"Oh yes," Petrov replied, not hearing the amusement building behind Tony's words. "I had every series on video tape but I always preferred the original series."

"And your favourite character was Chekov, right?" asked Alan, trying hard not to laugh.

"Of course," Petrov beamed. "Pavel Chekov was my boyhood hero back in Russia. I have Walter Koenig's autograph. Maybe you would like to see it." He took a pull on his Tia Maria and Babysham and eyed Tony and John hopefully.

"Walter ... Koenig," said John, uncomfortably.

"Was Chekov the one with the cute ears?" asked Maya, not even too sure she was thinking of the right show.

"I suppose you might consider them cute, yes."

Helena rolled her eyes heavenward. "Beam me up Scottie."

Petrov was delighted and pointed his finger at her. "Very good, doctor, yes. Beam me up, yes, beam me up." He was laughing away merrily, glad to be sharing his passion with an interested party.

"Bent as a nine bob note," Cyldereamus commented.

"No he's not," Tony hissed but Petrov was too busy detailing his first experiences of Star Trek to have heard. Helena wanted to know if he had ever been to a Star Trek convention which successfully extracted another series of sniggers.

Petrov suddenly looked uncomfortable, glancing behind him when someone in the growing audience grunted with laughter.

"Three," he answered warily. "The last was only a month before I was posted to Alpha this last time."

"Did you dress up in a Star Trek costume?" asked Sandra and her voice sounded shrill as she tried to suppress her mirth.

"Ah, yes. My boots once belonged to a non-speaking Ensign who was in two episodes of the third season of The Next Generation," Petrov said proudly.

"That is truly incredible," said Koenig, shaking his head in disbelief.

"I know," Petrov enthused. "They may have cost me four hundred dollars but I was still lucky to get them."

John leaned closer to Helena and whispered out of the corner of his mouth, "Would you consider this man fit for duty?"

"I think I'll reserve judgement until I've heard his idea for the second wish, John. If it has any reference to Captain Kirk, I'll confine him to Sickbay immediately."

Maya, who couldn't quite grasp the others attitude, smiled pleasantly, not hard to do when a 6'4" hunk of burning genie was giving you a temple massage. "So what was your wish, Petrov?" Suddenly, she sat forward, her smile broadening. "Oh, I know! I see what you've been leading up to." She thrust two fingers up in the air in an extremely unladylike gesture and said, "You want to wish that we 'live long and prosper'!"

The area finally exploded with long pent-up laughter as several dozen Alphans rolled around in hysterics. Maya and Petrov just looked at each other blankly.

"Actually, I was going to suggest a Replicator."

Verdeschi, who hadn't been quite so amused due to the fact that his girlfriend was being mauled by a genie, unclenched his fist and lost the scowl.

"Was that the hole in the wall thing? They just had to programme it for whatever they wanted; food, clothing, that sort of thing?"

The hilarity quickly subsided.

"Oh, yeah," Alan joined in, "I remember seeing that. I always used to think it was a bit too much like a fairytale; you know, the purse of gold that's never empty."

"Nice idea though," John considered, absently sipping from his refreshed glass. "Do you think I could have just a touch more ice in here?" he asked Cyldereamus.

"If it helps," said the genie, who had moved on to Sandra's shoulders and there was a satisfying 'plop' as two ice cubes dropped into the glass out of nowhere.

Everyone around was voicing their approval of Petrov's suggestion. What a fantastic idea! A wish that would benefit them all, supplying each and every one of them with their own unique requests. It was a sure-fire winner.

"Let's go for it," John shouted out, raising his half-empty glass which elicited a great cheer from the crowd. He stood up and lurched towards Petrov to thump him heartily on the back. "Good call. I guess we have the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise to thank for that, huh?"

"No, Commander. Replicators were not introduced until the Next Generation series began in 1987."

John nodded somewhat dazedly. "Erm, mm. May the force be with you..."

The crowd whooped and clapped and someone called out, "Go on, Tony, do your stuff" Someone else from the other side asked, "Could we have some more drinks over here, please?"

Cyldereamus raised one hand from Sandra's middle back. "They're on their way, pal"

Another isolated cheer rose up as the glasses were replenished.

Just before Tony made his second wish, it crossed his mind that maybe the drink was flowing a little too freely for anybody to be making such a momentous decision.

"Okay, I wish we had a Star Trek Replicator," and added, rather cleverly, he thought, "large enough to provide for all the Alphan population."

Another resounding cheer.

Reluctantly moving away from the karma oozing Sandra, Cyldereamus held his hands together before him in a servile manner and bowed before them. "As you wish."

Silence followed as they all waited expectantly for something to happen; a flash of lightening to tear across the sky, a crack of thunder to vibrate through the very ground they stood on or some such proclamation of nature. Instead, some unseen orchestra treated them to an overtly theatrical drum roll, building to a finale-style 'da-da'.

"If you'd care to look behind you..." Cyldereamus called out, sounding like a tour guide in the gardens of a stately home.

They turned as one and were met by a completely incongruous spectacle. The Replicator was there, a freestanding unit, roughly nine feet high and three feet wide and looking particularly unimpressive was plonked in the dry dirt before them. However, the Replicator was being 'displayed' like an oversized fridge-freezer on a Friday night game show by an outrageously dressed purple haired hostess. She began 'vogueing' her way around the edifice, smiling so fixedly as to appear to be in pain and maybe she was for the shimmery gold hotpants she wore seemed to ride up an awful long way. She snaked a golden boot clad leg up around one corner of the Replicator and pouted as her gold painted fingernails sensuously stroked the outer casing.

"Claire!" called Cyldereamus. "Nice to see you again."

The young lady stopped gyrating her body around and looked up, scanning the crowd for the speaker. "Ream! Darling!" she exclaimed in a terribly British accent.

The crowd parted as the genie made his way over to the new arrival. They clasped each other's hands and Claire made a great show of air-kissing. "I haven't seen you for ages. Where've you been?" Cyldereamus asked.

"Oh, I was doing a tour of the Strapsis Nuba quadrant. It was only for six months so I'm back hostessing for a while."

"Enjoy it?" he asked.

"Absolutely wonderful, darling. I even got to meet 'One'"

"Wow, I'm impressed."

He suddenly seemed to remember the reason he was there himself and looked round for Tony who had followed him anyway to view his acquisition.

"Tony, this is Claire. She's an actress and part-time Genie Hostess."

"Genie hostess...right. Pleased to meet you," Tony said, shaking her elegantly extended hand.

Claire was openly looking him over, one hand resting on her jutting hip. "I'd have thought a man like you would have wished for something a little more, shall we say, sophisticated than this lump of junk," she said, nodding towards the Replicator.

"We are but humble folk," Tony replied with a nonchalance he certainly wasn't feeling. This starlet was intimidating to say the least. "This thing will make our lives one helluva lot easier."

"I don't think so, somehow." She put her hand to her purple painted mouth to stifle a giggle and turned to Cyldereamus. "That wasn't very nice, now was it, Ream? You genies will have your fun."

Tony felt the sickening twist of impending disaster in his stomach.

"Why not, exactly?" asked John. He and the others were now standing with the security officer.

The genie was doing his folded arms thing again. Looking down upon the Alphans with amused condescension. "I gave you what the big guy here asked for."

Alan and Maya had gone to examine the Replicator.

"Should it be obvious how it works?" Alan called out.

Suddenly Petrov was the focus of attention. He raised his hands palms up. "I don't think anyone ever came up with Replicator blueprints. I have the Voyager blueprints though," and added hopefully, "They cover ever square foot of the ship."

"Either there's something obvious I'm overlooking or the keys just aren't responding for some reason," said Maya.

Alan began moving around the 'piece of junk', feeling up and down the casing for concealed switches and buttons.

"What is its power source?" Maya wanted to know.

Cyldereamus and Claire exchanged glances.

"Battery pack," he grinned.

"Battery?" she queried, still looking over the large receiving platform inside the unit. "You mean there's some sort of reactor unit housed inside it?"

"No, half a dozen alkaline batteries."

PRESS ANY KEY FOR PROGRAMME MENU the screen flashed repeatedly and the quiet yet powerful hum the machine emitted told of the unleashed force of the 9 volt batteries within.

"That's incredible," said John Collins, the Commander formerly known a John Koenig. "Who would have thought that something so technologically advanced could operate on just a handful of batteries?"

Cyldereamus smiled pityingly. "Who indeed?"

"So howz it work?" John asked happily, going to stand behind Alan to view the control panel.

"John, you're slurring," Helena told him severely as she and Sandra followed.

Only Tony remained where he was with Cyldereamus and his Genie hostess. He was staring off into the middle distance and gently blew through pursed lips before he said, "'," in that calm, expressionless voice people use when they know perfectly well that it 'is' so and the brown stuff is about to hit the fan big-time.

Claire sidled up to him and linked her arm through his. "Don't take it too hard. It's a well known fact that all genies have a warped sense of humour."

"No, it's got me beat," Alan was saying, shaking his head.

Maya appeared to be getting quite exasperated with the whole thing. "Does anyone have a screwdriver? If I could get one of these panels off, I might be able to see what the problem is..."

"The problem is," said Tony, "that it's an empty metal box with a basic computer monitor and a pretty little keyboard that isn't even connected up to anything. You'd get more entertainment out of a cash point machine."

There was a stunned silence before Sandra spoke up. "What on Earth would make you think that, Tony? How do you know?"

"Think about it. What exactly did I ask for?"

They all thought about it.

"Err, it was a Star Trek Replicator, wasn't it?" ventured Alan, standing back to look at it, his hands on his hips.

"Okay," said Tony, patiently. "And what was Star Trek?"

"That's it," cried Helena. "It wasn't Star Trek, Petrov told us that Replicators weren't introduced until the New Generation show."

"Next Generation," Petrov muttered in the background.

Tony shook his head. "I don't think it matters which show it was."

Cyldereamus laughed delightedly, pleased that Tony had unravelled the reason for the failed wish.

"I'm afraid I still don't understand," said Maya. "I'm very intolerant of science fiction."

"You said it, kid. Star Trek was fiction; it never existed in real life and therefore Replicators can't be real either." Tony moved to within kicking distance of the Replicator and did so with mollifying gusto. "What we've wished for is a prop from a television programmed.

Claire clapped her hands together excitedly. "Oh, well done."

"Yes, well done," agreed Public Enemy Number One, the Russian formerly known as Petrov, picturing such a fine studio prop residing in his quarters.

"We've just wasted our second wish thanks to you, you ruddy Trekkie!" yelled Tony, speaking for the increasingly hostile crowd. He kicked the not-so-magic box a few more times and then, when he saw the pained expression on Petrov's face each time the toe of his shoe made contact, he kicked it some more.

With tears in his eyes, Petrov sobbed, "No more, please Chief. I'm very sorry."

"I could be shopping now," Helena pointed out frostily.

"Maybe we still could?" Sahn questioned, raising her eyebrows at Tony. "Pretty please? You would have every woman on Alpha at your feet."

"Yeah, but when I could have my own harem..."

"You know, I still kinda like that idea," grinned Alan.

Maya was looking accusingly at Cyldereamus. "You might have said something. You warned us about wishing for a planet that didn't exist, why not this?"

"I didn't warn you of anything, I just informed you that I couldn't come up with the goods. Anyway, if I had managed it, who knows what you'd have been letting yourselves in for. You can't map out an entire planet on an A4 sheet of paper, you know. 'A' for effort but when one creates a planet, it might be an idea to state its life expectancy. If I'd have been in a particularly nasty mood, it could have blown itself to smithereens after a week.

John asked rather off-handedy, (which wasn't surprising, given the amount of alcohol he had consumed), "But this planet's good for a few centuries yet, right?"

Cyldereamus stroked his chin, thoughtfully. "Well..."

"Oh, you're despicable!" stormed Maya.

"I haven't finished yet," he teased. "Not allowing for such unforeseen circumstances as your future generations annihilating themselves and the planet, you should have approximately 2.3 million years to come."

Everyone heaved a sigh of relief.

"By the way, you've got half an hour left."

After Claire left, in the hopes that another hostess job would have come in, the Command team went for a perambulation through the lemon-grove in search of inspiration. The warm, heady scents of citrus, fresh earth and grass quickly relieved the tension that the failure of the second wish had brought with it and yet, between them, they still couldn't come up with a sensible and practical last wish.

"We have everything we could possibly need right here," said Sahn.

"Not quite," answered Helena, mysteriously. "There's one very important thing we need that we might not be able to manage too well for ourselves."


After years of being dragged from her bed on some medical emergency or other, Doctor Russell was instantly alert and prepared for anything...almost.

"You! What are you doing back here?"

"That's a nice way to greet your benefactor," Cyldereamus complained good-humouredly.

Helena sat up, pulling the bedclothes up around her to conceal the thin, strappy nightgown she wore. "I'm sorry. I wasn't expecting to see you again and certainly not here." She indicated their surroundings.

Cyldereamus leaned forward and rested his forearms on his knees. "I'd have thought 'here' was the ideal spot actually."

Helena observed his taut upper arm muscles, the rippling chest muscles; the way those cream pantaloons clung to his hard thighs when he was sitting like that. And was it just the curl to the toes of his shoes or did he have really big feet?

"Ideal? Ideal for what, exactly?"

"For fulfilling Verdeschi's wish."

Helena licked her lips. "I'm not quite sure that I understand... Ream."

Nice hair too, sort of a milky chocolate brown, kind of silky looking.

"You were right about the possible side effects of prolonged exposure to radiation. It's a terrible cross for a man to bare... makes him feel less of a man somehow."

"Yes, I'm sure," Helena said, gazing rapturously into the glittering hazel eyes of the genie.

"I know it you could, you would want to spare him that feeling of utter failure as a man that that knowledge would bring."

"Yes, uhhh, yes," she groaned, flinging back the sheet as Cyldereamus got up from the chair and bounced into bed beside her.

"I can give you the child that poor John never will and it can just be our secret. He need never know."

"You're sure?" asked Helena as the genie's hands slowly roamed her body.

"I'm sure," he told her soothingly. "It'll even have some of his looks and characteristics just as though it were his own. He'll never guess he's been firing blanks."

"That's so good," she moaned when his lips began caressing her throat and then not wanting to sound to eager, said, "about the baby looking like John, I mean."

"I thought you'd like that," Cyldereamus grinned and added, "about the baby looking like John, I mean."

"I'm pregnant again!" said Helena through clenched teeth.

They were enjoying a 'family day' down by the stretch of river to the south of Alpha when Helena heatedly whispered her announcement to Maya. Most of the children were playing happily in the water with one or other of their parents and the noise level was hideous.

"You don't sound particularly pleased so possibly I should with hold my congratulations," she responded, tentatively.

Helena grimaced. "You're right, Maya. I'm not particularly pleased and it's all my own fault."

"Oh," said Maya, knowingly. "You forgot your contraceptive? Tut, tut, Doctor."

Helena hesitated then, wondering if she really should be confiding this to anyone.

"It isn't really so awful, is it?" prompted Maya.

"It is when you're told your husband is more sterile than a bottle of Dettol."

Maya gasped. "Helena! Have you been playing the land?"

"Field, Maya," said Helena, irritably. "The expression is, playing the field and no, I haven't, leastwise not this time anyway."

Cautiously, she asked, "This time?"

"I think I was tricked into having Marcus."

Instead of asking what that cryptic statement meant, Maya surprised her by blushing deeply. "Cyldereamus." the Psychon said flatly.

"Why yes but how did you know?"

Maya was quiet for a moment, gathering her thoughts. "You said you thought you'd been tricked, which means I probably was too."


"It would make sense. The wish was for all those women who wanted children, to give birth to normal, happy and healthy babies, free from any of the defects our time on the moon might have incurred. A few days after that wish was made, Cyldereamus came to our quarters one night when Tony was on duty and told me that if we wanted to have a baby, he was willing to help."

"And by help, you mean..." Helena let the sentence trail off and nodded conspiratorially.

Maya nodded back. "That's what I mean. He said not only was Tony sterile but I'd never be able to conceive a baby from human..." she nodded again.

"Quite. And he promised that no one would ever guess, right, because Selene would bare a resemblance to both you and Tony?"

"That's exactly what he said. Helena, what if it isn't just us? What if all fourteen children were, in effect, fathered by Cyldereamus?"

They exchanged a startled look for dramatic effect before both turned to see the group of toddlers, all aged two and a half, give or take a month or so, who were splashing about in the clear, cool water. Marcus sat atop his father's shoulders, one hand clutching a handful of hair to steady himself and the other, waving to Helena. "Look at me, Mommy," he yelled. Desperately, John tried to smooth his hair back into place.

"Be careful, sweetheart," came the motherly response although Helena was actually referring to her husband's hair. "Is Tony alright?" she asked Maya. "He looks like he might be struggling."

"He'll be fine. The Green Giant's coming to the rescue anyway, look."

Sure enough, Greg Sanderson who had been nicknamed the Green Giant after he had suffered a rather nasty bout of 'green sickness', was wading through the water to relieve Tony of his daughter. The usually adorable little girl wasn't looking quite so adorable as she lashed her blue-grey tentacles about Tony's chest and waist, making sucky, squelchy noises.

"Selene, put your papa down, you don't want to hurt him," she called out, and then to Helena, "I don't like to stop her practising."

"She's coming along fine," Helena acknowledged, warmly.

Their view was momentarily obscured when the Fraser family walked in front of them, on their way to the water's edge. Annette had their son, Leon, but spelt Lyons, sitting on her hip and he was watching the transformed figure of Selene. The boy bounced up and down with childish glee at the sight of his little friend's game. Now here was a bone of contention between Tony and Maya. If it had been acceptable for the Frasers to name their child after a city and the Vincents, whose daughter, Brandy, shared her name with an alcoholic beverage, why had Tony been so adamant that she couldn't give her daughter the name of a foodstuff? Margarine was such a pretty name

"Annette!" Helena got her attention and they stopped. "Do you think I could speak with you for a moment?"

Bill took Lyons from her, saying, "I'd better get him into the water before he starts getting vocal," seemingly unaware of the sprog's frustrated squawkings.

"There is nothing wrong?" Annette asked, sitting down on the grass. She herself was now five months pregnant with a brother or sister for Lyons.

"Annette, Maya and I have been talking and we've discovered something that I think may effect you too."

Annette waited, oblivious to the situation.

"I'll be blunt," said Helena and Maya winced.

"There's no point skirting around the issue."

Annette looked worried.

"It may concern a lot of women, that's what I'm trying to ascertain here."

"Alright," Annette said, anxiously.

"We're all very happy with our lives now... with our families and I want you to know that I would never do or say anything to jeopardise that."


Maya moved restlessly.

"Don't think anyone will think any the less of you because as I've said, we may all be in the same boat..."

Slightly bewildered, Annette shrugged, in that Continental way.

"Helena's asking if it was Cyldereamus who knocked you down three years ago," blurted Maya, unable to take any further procrastination.

Helena tutted. "Up."

The other two looked skywards.

"Was it Cyldereamus got you pregnant the first time?"

Annette looked shocked. "How did you know?"

"Well, for a woman who hadn't been using any form of contraception, you seemed extremely surprised to be expecting again when I examined you two months ago."

Maya added, "He told us that exposure to radiation had caused sterility in Tony and John."

"And Bill too!" she replied, astonished. "When I found out I was having this new baby, I hoped that Cyldereamus had just got it wrong. I did not want to think of the alternative. I felt guilty enough already."

With a sigh, Maya agreed. "I know what you mean. It may have been for a good cause but it was still being unfaithful."

"No, I felt guilty that I enjoyed it so much."

Helena's lips twitched with a smile. "I wasn't going to say anything but seeing as you've brought it up, it wasn't exactly a chore as I recall."

"It was certainly an experience," put in the Psychon.

"A very good experience," Annette giggled wantonly.

"Very good," Maya agreed.

Helena shook her head slowly. "My God, it was good.. And did you happen to notice the size of his feet? It's obviously true what they say."

The cackling coven quickly sobered with the arrival of Commander Koenig, hand in hand with his son. "I didn't interrupt anything did I?"

Helena answered, "Fortunately not," forcing the three of them to stifle fresh laughter.

"Uh. I won't ask." He picked up a towel and wrapped it around Marcus.

"Did you have a nice time, sweetie?" Helena asked him. "In the side pocket, darling," she said softly, seeing John anxiously fishing about in their holdall.

"It was okay but I want to have tenticules like Selene. Can you show be how to make tenticules?" he asked, turning to Maya.

Maya began towelling the little boy's hair dry. "I'm afraid not, Marcus. It's something that only Selene and I can do." She chucked him under the chin.

"I know, it's because you're psychos."

"Psychons," Maya corrected.

"No. Uncle Tony says you're psychos."

John had finished meticulously combing his dark hair and now pounced on Marcus, saying, "Now let's get you looking dapper, buddy, okay?"

A small gaggle of tots was making its' way along the river bank towards them, headed by Professor Bergman who was da da da ing the tune of Bizet's Toreador Song at the top of his voice and encouraging the children to do the same.

"Grandpa!" cried Marcus, rushing to meet them.

Since the birth of Alpha's children, Victor had found a new vocation in life. Most of his time was spent helping out in the cresh and he took great delight in imparting small snippets of his great wealth of knowledge upon their quizzical young minds. His insistence that everybody now call him 'Grandpa' was quite touching although why this fanatical insistence should apply to the adults as well wasn't clear. Anyone who referred to him as anything other than Grandpa was whole-heartedly ignored.

"Hello, Grandpa," Helena greeted. "Are the children behaving themselves?"

"Don't they always?" he chuckled, patting the head of the small child clinging to his leg.

"For you, maybe," grinned Tony Verdeschi, arriving with an exhausted Selene in his arms. "Us lesser mortals don't find it quite so easy, especially when they don't play by the rules, like this one," he joked.

"And what did you think to your daughter's transformation... erm..."

"Tony," Tony filled in as usual.

"Rather splendid, wasn't it?"

"Impressive but I prefer the kittens and rabbits myself. More becoming of a young lady I think."

Selene giggled. "I'm a young lady."

"You certainly are, my dear and a splendid squid to boot," Victor told her.

"Grandpa showed us a monster book," said Selene, tiredly reaching out for her Grandpa.

John smiled. "Oooh monsters! That sounds scary."

Victor, now seated on the grass, had Selene sitting sideways across his lap whilst the others huddled close. He seemed to have forgotten any animosity he had once harboured against Maya and he actually seemed to have a fondness for her daughter. Having seen her developing her skills of metamorphosis over the last couple of months, Victor was now more inclined to treat the girl as 'gifted' rather than alien, for which Maya was thankful.

"Scary?" asked Victor. "No, nothing sinister, I can assure you. A book on sea creatures actually; you know, octopus, squid, sea horses, manatee, and all the childhood favourites. Stingray!" he exclaimed. "There now - it could have been a lot worse."

Maya gazed proudly upon her sleepy child. "I think webbed feet would have sufficed for now."

"Mm." Victor raised up one of Selene's little feet and seemed to study it intently. "Helena, you're a doctor aren't you?"

Helena Koenig suspected that it wasn't a rhetorical question. "Yes, Grandpa, I am."

"Thought so. So what do you make of it?"

"Of what?" Helena asked, staring at the proffered extremity.

"This slight abnormality of the metatarsals."

They all drew closer.

"Abnormality?" asked Maya, worriedly.

"Wriggle those little piggies, my dear," he told Selene, who was happy to oblige.

Selene's toes flexed up way past right angles.

"There, you see? Remarkable."

Tony frowned. "But that's normal in babies and very young kids isn't it? It's what people mean by double-jointed." He clicked his fingers as the word he sought came to him. "Prehensile - like apes."

"No," said Helena. "She's doing that too but Grandpa's right, it isn't normal to be able to curl your toes back like that."

"Marcus does," said John.

"Does he?" Helena sounded surprised. "I never really thought about it."

Giggling, Marcus and Selene began playing footsie, making their toes curl back as far as they would go.

"They all do it, all the children," Victor told them matter-of-factly.

"That just can't be," exclaimed Helena. "The chances of all fourteen children sharing this same defect are infinitesimally small."

John was watching the rest of the youngsters, all busily testing out the digits which were suddenly causing such interest amongst the adults.

"Especially as it would be a genetic defect, right? Wouldn't one or other of the parents need to be carrying a defective gene?"

"Curly toes, curly toes, we've all got curly toes," Selene sing-songed.

"Well, I guess you'd all make great clowns," said John, forcing a smile as his mind began drifting elsewhere.

Tony was thinking along those same lines. "Curly toed clown shoes," he said aloud. "It's Cyldereamus, isn't it?"

"NO!" came the unanimous and vehement denial from the three women, causing both John and Tony to jump.

"Oh," said Tony, nonplussed. "I'd just thought maybe it was his idea of a joke. He ironed out any fertility problems but decided to amuse himself by leaving his mark."

"Yes," beamed Helena, "I'm sure that's exactly what he did."

"Such a prankster!" Maya agreed, merrily.

Annette laughed hysterically until Doctor Koenig put a comforting hand on her knee, saying, "Hormones."

Professor Bergman was contemplating the stretch of water before them, seemingly paying little attention to the conversation. "Exactly what I was going to say," he said absently. "You women are worse than the men when it comes to a bit of the other."

Tony looked at him, askance. "A bit of the other? Well, I suppose that would be another explanation." He laughed, if unconvincingly in the face of this unwelcome possibility.

Victor got to his feet, holding his hands out for the youngsters nearest him to take. "Come along children. Down to the trees over there. I think it's time for a nice, invigorating game of Ring o' Roses."

The children squealed their approval and Helena shot him a weak smile of gratitude for his quick exit, a gesture she was to regret.

The professor stopped in his tracks. "I know what you're going to say, Helena," he sighed, "but before the children came along, it was all rather boring and anyway, I prefer to call it 'people watching' rather than spying."

Copyright (c) 2001. Reprinted with permission.
Space:1999 is (c) 1976 by Carlton International Media.
All stories are the property of their respective authors.

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