Marion woke slowly. She was aware of pain, dulled by medication. She moved her arm and felt something tug and tear. She opened her eyes and looked at the back of her hand. It was bleeding where she had accidentally pulled out the hypodermic needle that was taped there. She saw it dangling from the intravenous drip by the bedside. She made a small sound of distress and a nurse came to her. She fixed the needle back into her hand gently.

“What… is that?” she managed to ask. “I don’t… want… any drugs.”

“It’s nothing to worry about,” the nurse replied. “You go on back to sleep. You’ve got some very bad injuries. But if you keep still and quiet and rest you’ll be all right.”

“Where is my baby?” she asked. “Rodan… where is she?”

“Go to sleep, dear,” the nurse repeated.

Marion tried to fight it, but the drip was obviously administering a sedative and she couldn’t wake up properly. Blackness overcame her again despite her efforts.

When she woke again there was a different nurse checking her pulse. The drip had been taken out now and there was a plaster over the back of her hand. She was still hurting. Her ribs were very sore and there was a bandage over her stomach. She felt bruised all over. She tried to move her legs and couldn’t. Both of them were encased in plaster and they hurt a lot.

“The car…” she remembered.

“Yes, dear,” the nurse said. “You were in a car accident. You must keep still or you’ll pull your stitches.”

“Where is my baby?” she said, remembering that nobody had answered that question the first time. “Where is she? Please… tell me she’s all right.”

“The little girl is in the paediatric ward,” the nurse told her. “She wasn’t hurt, but she’s being looked after until somebody can come for her.”

“She’s all right? Can I see her?”

“Not just yet. You’re not well enough. She’s being looked after. You mustn’t worry. Can you tell us who to contact about you, though, Marion?”

“How do you know my name?” she asked. “Oh… my handbag, I suppose.”

She thought about the contents of her handbag. She had an Earth credit card with her name on it, of course. And a cheque book and debit card. But almost everything else in there was Gallifreyan. Her driving licence, her ID card for entry into the Government buildings, and several other pieces of documentation were all printed in Gallifreyan.

Which meant they were totally meaningless to anyone on Earth, of course. There was nothing for her to worry about.

She gave Li Tuo’s name and address.

The nurse promised to contact her friend. Marion nodded and let herself drift back to sleep again. When she woke, Li would be there. Perhaps Kristoph would be, too. Li would contact him, of course. He would come right away. He would be worried about her, but she would be so glad to see him.

She slipped back to sleep relatively happy, even though she was hurting so much, because she knew Kristoph would be there when she woke again.


But he wasn’t. When she came around again she was lying on a hospital trolley and it was being moved swiftly along a corridor. She tried to move her arms but found she was restrained. She looked up and saw that the person pushing the trolley was wearing a hazmat suit.

“What’s happening?” she asked fearfully. “What’s going on?”

Nobody answered. Then she heard a scream. It was Rodan. She twisted her head as far as she could and saw another man – or woman – in a hazmat suit carrying the little girl.

“What’s going on?” she demanded. “Where are you taking us?”

“Be quiet,” she was told by the man pushing the trolley. “You’re being brought to a special unit for testing.”

“What special unit?” Marion tried to ask.

“Sedate her,” somebody said. She didn’t see who said it. A mask was placed over her mouth. She tried to struggle, but the gas overcame her. It didn’t knock her out completely, but it did leave her disorientated. She couldn’t speak, and the voices around her sounded as if they were coming through water. The corridor ended in an elevator. She knew that Rodan was near. She could still hear her crying out in distress and fear.

Then they were in the open air. Marion saw sky above her and a noise that echoed in her head. She saw the whirling blades of a helicopter as the stretcher she was fastened to was pushed inside. The people in hazmat suits got in as well. Rodan was still crying out tearlessly. Then Marion saw another man in a hazmat suit inject her with something and she became quiet. She was strapped to a seat as the helicopter took off.

Time was difficult to judge. It might have been ten minutes, or an hour. She knew the helicopter had landed because it became quieter. Then she was being moved again. More sky, then into another lift that went down a long way before another corridor.

Finally, she was brought into a room with a very white ceiling that had four very bright lights set into it. She screwed up her eyes against the brightness. Around her, the people in hazmat suits hovered. One of them touched her face, forcing her eyes open one by one and examining them with an ophthalmoscope.

“Retina pattern appears fully Human,” the man said. “What about the blood results?”

“Here,” said a woman’s voice and a clipboard was passed to him. He studied it carefully.

“Interesting,” he said in a slow drawl. “The adult subject seems to be Human. Everything checks out normal. But the child… I’ve never seen anything like it. Two hearts, blood that contains no haemoglobin… the retinal pattern… and yet to all appearances it looks like a healthy two year old Human girl.”

“Is it possible that the species has metamorphic anatomy?” asked the woman. “The adults can appear Human, but the children remain alien. Possibly the ability only manifests itself at puberty…”

“If that’s true, then we need more tests on the adult subject.”

“It’s a worrying thought. Aliens that can mimic Human anatomy. How many of them could be walking around our cities and towns, unknown to us?”

“I’m…” Marion tried to speak, but her throat was dry and constricted and she was still under the influence of the drug. “I’m not… not… not…”

The woman didn’t seem to notice her speaking. The man did. He turned and looked at her closely.

“I’m not… alien…” she managed to say. “This… is… it’s… mistake. Please… let me go…”

“So… you speak English?”

“Of… course… I… am… English…” she managed. Her voice didn’t quite seem like her own. She felt as if she was hearing her own words from afar.

“You’ll be taken care of,” the man said in a voice that might have been intended to be reassuring. “Your injuries will be treated. But you can’t go anywhere. You’re staying here until we have completed our tests. After that… a decision will have to be made… about whether you pose a threat to this planet.”

“I’m not…” Marion protested again. She groaned out loud. Her legs were hurting. Everything was hurting. And she was very frightened. How could they possibly imagine that she was an alien?

Rodan, of course, WAS alien. Somebody must have tried to examine her at the hospital and found that she was different. And she was with Rodan. So they assumed she was alien, too.

And what would they do with her? She couldn’t help sobbing with fear. Who were THEY? Were they military or something to do with the British Government?

They were Human. So was she. But she knew in her heart she couldn’t trust them. She couldn’t tell them who she was or why she had an alien child in her care. They could take Rodan away from her. They could lock her up somewhere.

She would never see Kristoph again. He wouldn’t be able to find her.

“Please…” she begged. “I’m not… what… you think.”

“Listen to me,” the man said. “You need to answer my questions. If you tell the truth, then it will be much easier for you.”

“I can’t… tell you… anything,” she protested. “I want my baby… I want… to… go back to the hospital. Where am I?”

“What planet are you from?” the man asked, ignoring her words.

“Earth,” she replied perfectly honestly. “I’m from Earth.”

“We know that isn’t true,” the man replied. “Tell the truth, or we’ll be forced to use extreme measures. I am reluctant, given your physical condition. But if you continually resist the questioning then I have no choice.”

“I am Human,” Marion insisted. “I am from Earth. How can… there’s no such thing as aliens. Rodan… she has a rare medical condition. Please… believe me.”

“I want to believe you,” said the man. “But you have to tell me the truth. We know you’re not from Earth…”

“Yes… I am,” she insisted. “I am… I am Human. I’m…”

“This is getting nowhere,” the woman said. “Use the ECT on her.”

“She suffered head and abdominal injuries a few hours ago,” the man pointed out. “ECT might be dangerous. Besides…”

Marion heard a door open. Somebody else stepped into the room. Another person in a hazmat suit. The man who seemed to be in charge turned his back on Marion as he spoke to him for a long while. Then he turned back to her.

“Is your name Marion de Leon, nee Horsley? Did you reside at…”

Marion was surprised when the man said her maiden name and the surname she took when she married Kristoph in the church in Knowsley. He knew the address of the house they had lived in for the first years of their life together, too.

“How do you… know…”

“Marion…” The man leaned forward. She could see his face through the glass of the hazmat hood. He didn’t look unkind. But he was the person keeping her prisoner here, who had taken her away from the hospital, and who had Rodan as a prisoner as well. She turned her face away from him.

“Marion… were you abducted by aliens? Where have you been? What planet? Is the child yours? Were you forced to give birth to an alien child?”

“No!” she protested. “No… you don’t understand. “I’m… I was… I…”

He knew she wasn’t alien now. But things weren’t much better. She still couldn’t tell him the truth. She couldn’t tell him that she went to another planet by choice, because she loved Kristoph – an alien.

“Please… let me go,” she begged. “You don’t understand. This is not what you think.”

“I want to help you, Marion,” the man said. “But I’m afraid I can’t let you go. We have too many questions that need answering. Besides….”

Again, a door opened. This time there were exclamations of surprise from the people in the room. Marion turned her head and suppressed a gasp of horror as she saw Li Tuo flanked by two men in military uniforms and guns. He had his arms pinioned behind his back, but he held his head erect and proud, despite being a prisoner.

“Is this the other alien?” asked the man who had been speaking to Marion.

“He went to the hospital, asking after the woman,” replied one of the military men. “We took him into custody straight away. He didn’t put up much of a fight.”

“Are you the one?” the man demanded. “Did you abduct this woman?”

Li Tuo said nothing. He kept his head up and his back straight and stared at his accuser coldly. He didn’t look at Marion. She knew he wouldn’t. He was a Celestial Intervention Agency man. He was trained to withstand interrogation, to keep his secrets even under torture. And he would never give anything away.

The man in charge looked at a set of notes passed to him by the military. He looked at Li Tuo in surprise.

“You’ve got the same anatomy as the child. Are you the father? Did you force this woman…”

Li Tuo said nothing.

“Well, I won’t use a child… not even an alien one… for experiments. But there’s no reason why I can’t use you.” He nodded to the two men who flanked Li Tuo. “Prepare him for investigative surgery.”

Li Tuo didn’t flinch. But it was more than Marion could bear. She strained against the restraints, even though it hurt her to try. And she mustered all her strength to cry out in protest.

“No! Leave him alone. Leave us all alone.”