Hub central was quiet, genuinely quiet. Everyone was either out or elsewhere in the labyrinth that stretched under most of the public buildings of the bay area of Cardiff.
Beth was typing up memos in the front office, a task she was delighted to do. She said memos about alien landings in the British Isles were far more interesting than memos about teeth and dentistry in general.
Alun and Ianto were down in the archive, still striving towards inventory item No.1. They were in the 2,000s at present. The day WOULD come!
Owen was out, acting as paediatrician to the children he took responsibility for three months ago when all but one of them was born in the Hub under his care. Even though he insisted every one of the babies was as normal as possible he wanted to take blood samples from them all and check for any DNA anomalies. The standard three month check up was the perfect excuse to do so.
Gwen and Toshiko were working down in the bunker, testing a device from the inventory – No. 2,301. It was catalogued in 1937 as a matter transmitter. And that had been intriguing enough to want to find out what it could do.
That left Jack as babysitter for Etsuko. He and Owen both agreed that the baby shouldn’t be anywhere near experiments in matter transmission. So she was in her carrycot in the corner of his office, gurgling and watching him with her beautiful, dark, oriental eyes as she fought against the urge to go to sleep. Jack smiled and watched until she did drop off. Nobody could accuse him of having paternal inclinations, but she was more interesting than the paperwork he was in the middle of.
He sighed and went back to his work. He thought of Beth’s enthusiasm for memos about aliens and knew it would wear off soon. Eventually she would realise that paperwork was paperwork, no matter what the subject. Jack had found that out before Beth was born!
It never ceased to amaze him just how MUCH paperwork Torchwood produced. And how much of it WAS his responsibility. But it all had to be done. Despite being above the law, beyond the government and all of that, they had to account for themselves at every level. Every mission had to be fully written up in the logs. Every cost, down to the gallons of coffee everyone drank, had to be itemised.
Because one day, somebody would ask them to account for themselves and they wouldn’t be found wanting on his watch.
He worked through the pile steadily. His mind did drift sometimes, of course. Even as he wrote up his reports, he glanced at the memorabilia on his desk, flotsam and jetsam of other lives he had lived. He thought about his younger days as a Time Agent, happy days when he enjoyed the comradeship with other young people of his own age, male and female. He remembered the voyage of self discovery it had been, especially when the young men and women of the agency bedded down for the night and he enjoyed the sexual freedom that flexible century afforded.
He remembered going freelance, using what he had learnt from his years with the Agency to make several fortunes in ill-gotten gains and spend them on a hedonistic lifestyle.
Then had come the time when he really wanted to clean up his act and become an honest man again. Some of that had been painful. Some of it had been interesting. Some of it had been downright dangerous. But those had been the times he had enjoyed the most in a lot of ways. The times when he pushed himself hardest.
His eyes fell on the model of a P51 Mustang fighter plane. Those had been dangerous times. But he had felt so alive, alone in the single seater, doing his bit for the free world in World War II, just one of the military campaigns that had punctuated a life that bridged the twentieth century.
Good memories and bad ones filtered through his mind while he wrote up his reports on more recent events. Even the bad ones didn’t get him down these days. He spent much less time brooding now he understood his unique existence better. If he had been the sort of man who ‘blogged’ his emoticon for the day would have been ‘satisfied’, even if the paperwork WAS tedious.
Right now, Gwen and Toshiko’s emoticon would have been ‘cheerful’. They could neither of them remember having such FUN at work as they were having right now.
“A smashing time!” Gwen giggled, and the very puny joke sounded funny to them both.
Inventory No. 2,301 WAS, indeed, a matter transmitter. But since it was only the size of a coffee percolator the main test subjects being transmitted were a set of cheap 1937 coronation souvenir cups and saucers that had been packed with it. At more than fifteen yards, they found the re-materialisation increasingly haphazard and more and more crockery was being sacrificed to the cause of greater knowledge of alien artefacts. A trail of broken cups and saucers, precisely two yards apart, now stretched down the bunker’s length.
The re-entry was definitely a problem. They couldn’t adjust for height and the crockery kept materialising in mid-air. It was rather fascinating to see it hang there for maybe ten seconds as if gravity hadn’t worked out it was there yet, and then drop like a stone when it did.
But since Jack would probably make them clean up the mess, and they were running out of crockery, they wondered if they could do something about it.
“What if we tried to catch?” Gwen suggested, possibly, she admitted later, not one of her brightest ideas. “I’ll go and stand next to the re-materialisation zone and get ready.”
“It could be dangerous. What if a saucer materialised through your head?”
“I won’t get that close. Let’s try it.”
They marked out the next materialisation zone, based on their calculations and Gwen stood near the line. Toshiko went back to the odd looking device and pressed the button. The saucer on the platform disappeared. She watched as it re-appeared level with Gwen’s shoulder and laughed as she reached out and grabbed it.
“I could feel the residual energy from the materialisation,” she reported. “It was like a tingle all up my arm. You try it…”
They adjusted the machine and marked out a new zone. This time Toshiko stood there while Gwen placed a teacup on the platform and got ready to press the button. They were both in a silly mood. They vaguely wondered what the point was to this machine and how it could possibly be used as a weapon in the fight against alien invasion of Earth, but they weren’t giving that much attention to the problem. It was more interesting finding ways to stop the crockery smashing.
Owen stepped into the drawing room of Cally Bowen’s house. The baby, christened Angharad, was in her carry cot gurgling happily and watching the mobile above her head intently. Owen picked her up gently and brought her to the changing mat on the table while he undressed her and carried out the ordinary examination of her heart and lungs and kidneys and tested her fine motor skills by having her grip his pen and so on. Cally watched anxiously. More anxious than a mother of a healthy baby should be, he noted, though not with any surprise.
“The clinic says her development is on target,” Cally said. “But they’re only looking for ordinary signs of development.”
“You’ve noticed something they don’t check for?”
“I didn’t mention it to them,” she said. “They wouldn’t have believed me. But Doctor Harper… you know her birth was unusual… And I wondered…. Don’t go thinking I’m nuts or anything…”
“Try me,” he said.
Cally took her redressed baby and put her on the play mat on the floor in front of the TV. She wasn’t quite old enough to sit up without Cally holding her, yet. She was a long way from crawling or attempting to stand on her little feet. But she was capable of reaching for brightly coloured toys within her arms reach. A set of coloured plastic bricks were on the floor. The sort with letters of the alphabet on them. Baby Angharad looked at the bricks for a little while then picked them up one by one and dropped them back on the floor in a rough line. Owen looked at them for a long moment, not recognising the words that had been spelled out, even though he was SURE it was something spelt, not just random letters.
BOB Y ADEILDADWR.
He realised they were WELSH.
“It’s Welsh for Bob The Builder,” Cally explained, picking up a brightly coloured board book with a few words on each page to accompany the pictures. “My sister said she was too young, but I’ve been sitting with her, reading the book and showing her the pictures. And… and obviously my sister is wrong. But she IS way too young to be able to read.”
“She probably doesn’t know what the words mean,” Owen said, wondering if that was a comfort or not. “She has a photographic memory for the shape of the words.”
That was probably true. But all he knew about child development told him that at three months children wouldn’t even see meaningful images on a two-dimensional picture. It was just abstract colour to them. She had not only made meaning of the pictures, but the words, too.
“It’s still not normal, is it?” Cally said with a tremble in her voice.
“No, it isn’t,” Owen admitted. He breathed in deep as he tried to decide what to say to her. A NORMAL baby was what every woman hoped for. It was all Toshiko had talked about for seven months. By normal she had meant that it had the requisite number of fingers and toes and no more or less, eyes in the right place, a heart on the left side of the chest cavity, etc, and given its conception, skin, not scales or feathers or worse. But once Etsuko was born her obsession had been for normal development of normal Human skills. No more or less.
But this was MORE.
“She is… Human, isn’t she?” Cally asked. “I mean… I was wondering. Because… I can’t speak much more Welsh than this baby book. I was planning to learn with her, from scratch. But I CAN do maths. And I’m almost sure she was conceived the night when I lost consciousness in a club and woke up in hospital hours later. And then… when we were kidnapped. That woman who claimed that my baby belonged to her master…”
“Your baby is Human and she belongs to you,” Owen answered in absolute truth. “She’s your baby, with YOUR DNA. She’s a genius, that’s all. Read to her some more. Try bigger books with more words. Give her lots of mental stimulation and be dead proud of her. She’s wonderful.”
Cally nodded and smiled as she picked up her baby and hugged her. She WAS proud of her and that was half the problem solved.
He took a blood sample, which made the baby cry in a perfectly ordinary, Human way. It looked, to the naked eye, like ordinary, Human blood, and Owen was quite sure that it was. But he was going to be running a lot of tests on that sample. He was going to be running tests on all of the samples he had taken today, he thought as he added the labelled phial to the others in a small case that he carried in his pocket for safety.
Angharad Bowen was the last of the four he had visited this morning. And if there was one general conclusion to be drawn from his examinations it was that none of them would ever be called ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal.’
Patricia Nash’s little girl, Carryl, was good with bricks, too, only Patricia had not started her reading Welsh. Instead she had skipped the board books and started her on Harry Potter, and Carryl could spell the words Muggle and Quidditch among others.
Tina Pugh’s baby, Megan, held the pen for the fine motor skills test with such an iron grip that Owen thought he would have to break her fingers to get it back. She could sit up unaided and seemed to have the bone structure and muscle development of a six month old child already. He had advised Tina to buy a playpen and a height adjustable baby walker.
Olwen Clyne, apple of her grandmother’s eye, was perfectly normal in every respect and had not spelt anything or bent any bars of her crib. But when Owen surreptitiously used a hand held piece of alien technology on her he noted the sort of brain activity that suggested she was going to have very strong ESP when she was old enough to do the sort of tests that proved such ability.
The only one who hadn’t exhibited anything unusual so far was Etsuko. She seemed perfectly normal for her age. Owen wondered if being in the Hub so much, especially in the presence of those ‘mood pebbles’ that soaked up Human emotions, might be inhibiting something remarkable about her. Anyway, he would be running a full set of tests on her when he got back to the Hub.
As long as Toshiko didn’t go off on one about her baby being used as a guinea pig.
But Etsuko was the only one he COULD use. The others, even when their parent was starting to guess, as Cally was, were off limits to anything not in the usual paediatrician’s remit.
So Toshiko would just have to live with it.
It was the fifth time they had repeated the ‘catching’ experiment now. It was Toshiko’s turn to bat. Gwen pressed the button and watched the teacup disappear. It began to materialise in front of Toshiko. She saw Toshiko reach out and grab the cup. Then she heard the machine beeping in the sort of tone that could only indicate trouble and at the same moment Toshiko gave a shrill and suddenly cut off cry. She vanished with the sort of twinkling light show they used for the transporters on Star Trek, but without the accompanying sound effect.
“Oh, my GOD!” Gwen exclaimed in horror. “I’ve disintegrated Tosh!”
Jack’s mobile phone rang. He saw it was Garrett’s number and he smiled as he took the call.
“Hey,” he laughed. “It’s the spy who shagged me. Is this business or pleasure?”
It was pleasure. Jack leaned back in his chair and relaxed as his sometime lover whose work schedule was even less 9 to 5 than his own, phone flirted with him. He still half suspected that Garrett only had sex with him in hope of picking up some juicy pillow talk about Torchwood that his own agency could use. But the sex was fantastic enough to make the game of spies fun, and if Garrett did come clean he was ready to forgive him.
Meanwhile he was ringing him in a quiet part of his day to tell him he was thinking of him and ask if he was free for dinner tonight. It took a full fifteen minutes to arrange the date simply because having somebody ring and do that was such a novelty for Jack that he wanted to savour the event.
He only broke off the beautiful phone call when Gwen ran into his office looking flustered and talking so fast he couldn’t have understood her without a translating device.
“Toshiko’s gone,” she finally managed to say coherently. “I disintegrated her.”
“What?” Jack stood up as Gwen started to explain more slowly what had happened. He automatically stepped towards the crib where Toshiko’s baby was sleeping.
Then his heart froze.
Etsuko wasn’t there.
“Oh, SHIT!” Gwen swore when she, too, saw the empty carry cot. “Jack, where is she?”
“I don’t know,” he replied, his voice edged with panic. “She was right there. I was looking at her. Then the phone… I was… I was talking to Garrett. I was… I’m sorry. I was flirting. I wasn’t paying attention….”
“But…” Gwen looked at Jack’s desk, and at the door. Even if he wasn’t looking at the baby how could anyone have got in there and taken her without him seeing? How could she not be there?
“Oh, my GOD!” she groaned aloud. “What will Tosh think…” Then she remembered that Tosh was missing, too. “Oh, Jack, WHAT are we going to do?”
“Call the boys,” he said, trying to look calm and collected even if his stomach was churning with fear. “Get them up here to search the Hub.” Jack went to his office door. He looked up to the roof of Hub Central where Myfanwy the pterodactyl roosted. The prehistoric creature, uncannily knowing she was being watched, promptly flew from the furthest rafter to one directly above him and then turned and flew back again.
“No,” he murmured as a horrible idea occurred to him. “Oh, no. She couldn’t have!”
As Ianto and Alun came running up the stairs to join in with the search of the immediate area and Beth reported that there was no way anyone could have gone through the tourist office with a child, Jack went to the general storeroom and found a coiled rope ladder attached to a grapnel line. He took careful aim and fired the line over a spar next to the pterodactyl nest. Myfanwy rose up in annoyance and squawked once before settling back down again. Jack pulled the leading line and made it secure then tested the ladder before starting to climb.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Ianto pointed out. “She’s three months old. She can’t go anywhere on her own, and there’s nobody else here.”
“I know,” Gwen answered. “But even so… Oh, my God! It’s bad enough Tosh is missing. Now the baby… Oh! She’ll never forgive us.”
“She’ll never forgive ME,” Jack thought as he climbed the rope ladder. “Poor Tosh. The hell she’s been through. And now… now…”
Could it have been Myfanwy? She had never been able to get into his office before. Even with the door wide open her wing span was wider. And besides, he surely would have noticed even if he was otherwise occupied.
But maybe… maybe the baby presented an irresistible feast…
But Etsuko’s carry cot had been beside Tosh’s desk ever since she came back to work when the baby was two weeks old. Tosh had fitted an industrial strength cat net at first, but Myfanwy had taken no notice of the new addition to the Humans who shared her cave and she had left it off after a while. They didn’t even think about the incongruity of a small child and an extinct creature in the workplace.
No, she couldn’t have, Jack told himself. But he kept climbing anyway, dreading what he might see when he got up there. A live baby, unaware of her situation, a dead baby, a dismembered baby.
If she was alive, why wasn’t she making any sound? All he could hear was the peculiar nasal noises that Myfanway made when she breathed with her beak closed.
He remembered when they had first found Myfanwy – or rather, the egg she hatched from. She had slipped through the time rift. At least they assumed she had. That, or she was the equivalent of an orphan left on their doorstep by somebody. Owen had found the egg by the fountain when he came to work one morning. He had brought it down to the Hub and examined it, and found that it was a pterodactyl egg and that the pterodactyl was alive inside. He had put it in an incubator. There had been a bit of a row about it. Suzie very logically pointed out that breeding a prehistoric animal in the modern world was a bad idea. She pointed out that they had no idea what kind of food it needed, or whether it was a pack animal that would pine for its own sort, or how to teach it to fly…
Owen had sarcastically told her that they had all seen Jurassic Park, and then quoted the part of the Hippocratic Oath about not taking life. Suzie had pointed out that it didn’t mean THAT sort of life and expressed her surprise that Owen was so sentimental. Toshiko had come down on his side, annoying Suzie who thought the girls ought to stick together.
Jack had been the casting vote. He had been doubtful. Even if Suzie’s argument did come from Jurassic Park, it was a good one. And yet the idea intrigued him. He had said yes. He had let the egg hatch. He had been there when it did, late one night. He had sat there until the morning watching her, feeding her strips of kebab meat from a donner that Owen had left on the table in the rest area. That was how she had got the idea that her food was anything with barbecue sauce on it. And that had proved useful as she grew. She had not taken lumps out of any member of the team. When she HAD learnt to fly, they attached a homing beacon to her leg and let her out in the evenings when she wouldn’t be noticed. She didn’t try to kidnap any small children for food. She was house trained, tame. She came home for her food. And she knew what was hers and what wasn’t.
He had named her Myfanwy. From the poem by John Betjemen. Suzie had been the only one who recognised the literary allusion. Poetry appreciation was never a required skill at Torchwood. But anyway, she was their pet, their mascot. And he still couldn’t quite believe what he was thinking. But he had to be sure.
Myfanwy was miffed to say the least as Jack reached the nest and gave her a gentle push. She rose up briefly and then came right back down again. It was long enough for him to know one thing.
She hadn’t kidnapped Etsuko.
She was too busy being a mum herself.
Later, he would have to get the portable scanning device up here and see if the egg was viable. He suspected it wasn’t. She was a single girl, after all. How could it be fertilised. But it was her egg and he was happy to leave her alone with it. He went back down the ladder and was surprised to see Beth standing there when he touched solid ground again.
“Toshiko phoned,” she said. Gwen’s relief was palpable as she said that. “She’s in Aberdeen, and she’s really pissed off. She doesn’t have her handbag or anything. And she wants to know if Etsuko is ok.”
“Tell her to go to the railway station,” Jack answered. “Book her a train ticket – make it first class - and a meal in the dining car. Charge it to my expense account. And tell her Etsu is fine with Uncle Jack looking after her.”
Beth nodded and ran back to the tourist office. Jack looked at the others.
“One less problem. Toshiko is ok.”
“Aberdeen?” Alun commented. “Bloody hell. That’s about nine hours by train. Couple of draughty platforms to change on, too. She’ll be really cranky when she gets here.”
“You could have pulled some strings with U.N.I.T. and got her flown down much faster,” Gwen pointed out.
“Yes,” Jack answered. “I could. But this way gives us nine hours to find the baby.”
“Find what baby?” Owen asked as he descended on the pavement life. “Honestly, I go out for a couple of hours and when I get back everyone is standing around like lemons doing bugger all.”
Jack explained the problem. Owen’s joking manner dissipated rapidly as he grasped the horror of the situation. Then he quickly related what he had found out about the other babies.
“So, if Etsuko has the same rapid development as little Megan,” Gwen reasoned. “She COULD have crawled by herself.”
“We’ve got to search again,” Alun said. “All the corridors beyond the Hub itself. EVERYWHERE.”
“Lifesign monitors,” Ianto said. “I don’t know why we didn’t think of it before. We’ve got some of them.”
Lifesign monitors! Jack wondered why they hadn’t thought of it, too. He pulled back his sleeve to read the LED screen on his wristlet. There was a lifesign function that differentiated between several thousand different species. It should be able to pick up one infant Human that HAD to be in the Hub SOMEWHERE.
Then he froze. Everyone did. They could hear Etsuko crying as if she had just woken up from a sleep and realised she was being ignored. It was a welcome sound. She was alive. She was near.
“But WHERE is she?” Gwen asked, turning around and around, trying to locate the sound.
“Oh!” Jack cried, and he turned and ran to his office. Everyone ran after him. The baby cry was louder there. She HAD to be in the office. Gwen stared as she watched him go to the carry cot. He bent and picked something up. He looked like an actor miming picking up and cuddling a baby. As he turned towards her his expression was one of sheer disbelief. Gwen stepped closer and reached out. She touched a child’s arm, warm and soft. But she couldn’t see her.
“Concentrate,” Jack said. “Like with the pavement lift. If you know somebody is there, you can see them. You know I’m holding the baby, so see her.”
At first, Gwen couldn’t. Then she squealed shrilly as her eyes nearly crossed in the effort.
“Yes, I can see her. She’s… she’s just fine. Only invisible.”
Now they knew, they could all see her if they concentrated. If the concentration slipped Jack still seemed to be holding an invisible baby.
“Sit down,” Owen told him and ran to get his medical bag. Jack sat on his office chair with the baby on his knee. Owen came back and did all of the tests he had done on the other children. The blood test was the most tricky because he DID let his concentration slip for a moment and he couldn’t see the arm he was taking the blood from. Etsuko cried, of course. Jack soothed her with a close cuddle. As he did, the phone rang. He grabbed it with one hand, hoping it wasn’t the Prime Minister or Secretary of State or anyone who might wonder why there was a baby crying in his office .
It was Toshiko and she wanted to know why the baby was crying.
“Owen smiled at her,” Jack replied. “Ugly sod that he is.” Owen laughed. “Seriously, she’s fine. Uncle Jack is giving her a big hug and Gwen’s going to fetch her a bottle. She’s doing fine. Not missing you at all.”
Toshiko was obviously missing HER. Jack gave himself a mental kick for tactlessness and waited for her to stop crying down the phone.
“Jack, listen,” she said at last. “There’s something you ought to know. I wasn’t going to say anything yet. And I was only meant to be down in the bunker for half an hour. But it’s going to be half past eight before I get to Cardiff. And you’re going to find out. Jack, Etsuko... I don’t know what did it. Maybe the transmat before she was born, or being in the Hub so much. But sometimes, she goes invisible. I know it sounds crazy. But it’s true. It’s been happening for a couple of weeks now. I didn’t say anything because I don’t want Owen testing her like she was an alien specimen. And she DOES come back right after a bit. But… Oh, Jack, just look after my baby.”
“Tosh,” Jack said calmly. “Invisible or not, she’s still the most beautiful girl who ever sat on my knee. And that’s quite a lot of competition. I’m going to take good care of her until I can put her right into your arms. So you just sit back and enjoy the train ride. And don’t worry one little bit.”
He ended the call and put the phone down. He looked around. The whole team, including Beth, was in the office, looking increasingly cross-eyed as they tried to stay focussed.
He thought of something. He reached into his desk drawer and pulled out what looked, to everyone else, like a yale key on a piece of string. He coiled the string and slipped it over Etsuko’s head. At once she became fully visible.
“What…” Gwen began.
“It’s a personal perception filter,” he explained. “Friend of mine gave it to me a while back. I figured that if Etsuko has some kind of built in, natural filter, maybe this would cancel it out.”
“An old key on a string?” Owen was dubious. “Not exactly a toy suitable for under fives. Maybe we could develop a wristband or something.”
“Go for it,” Jack told him. He took the bottle of milk from Gwen and fed the baby, who seemed perfectly content and untroubled by the crisis that had gone on around her.
Meanwhile, Owen went into further detail about the other babies and their abilities. Two intellectual geniuses, one super-strong baby, one budding telepath, and now invisible girl.
“X-men,” Ianto said. They all looked at him. They understood the reference, but he didn’t seem the sort to read comic books or watch cartoons. And when did he have the time for films? “Humans with special abilities, naturally evolved…” he added.
“Nothing natural about it,” Owen snapped. “That bastard messed with Human DNA. We’re only lucky the kids don’t have two heads.”
“Don’t say that in front of Toshiko,” Gwen told him. “Ianto is right, though. That’s what we have here. Five evolved humans. And what are we going to do?”
“It’s possible these ‘powers’ will dissipate as they get older,” Owen theorised.
“And if they don’t?” Ianto countered. “We need to plan for that possibility. We need to protect them – from themselves and from other people.”
“We?” Jack raised an eyebrow.
“Yes, WE,” Gwen said. “WE. Because I’ve seen the X-Men film. Governments arguing about whether the ‘evolved’ kids should be allowed to be free, should they be registered, marked in some way, segregated, KILLED. And if anyone uses the word ‘mutant’ near me, let alone Tosh, they’re going to understand the meaning of pain.”
“She’s right,” Owen said. “And that means, first of all, this is a SECRET. So nobody outside of the Hub knows about it. And that includes your fuck buddy from Spook Central, Captain!”
“As IF I would,” Jack protested. But Owen was right. MI5 would want to know about this. Somebody, somewhere would be planning to train the children to be of service to Britain in some way. If Torchwood One was still in operation, under the ambitious and ruthless administration of Yvonne Hartman, he had no doubt there would be a special crèche facility in Canary Wharf where their abilities would be nurtured for the good of the British Empire.
He knew that THEY could be doing that here in Cardiff.
No, Jack decided. NOBODY was going to use these children in ANY way. He wasn’t sure how he was going to keep this secret. But he was damn well going to try.
In the meantime he had to make his dinner with Garrett into a late supper instead. At eight-thirty when he should have been meeting him at the restaurant he was at Cardiff Central waiting for the train from Bristol Parkway. He felt strange, standing there. Usually when he stood in a public place he had women – and quite a few men – looking at him and smiling that certain smile as if he was exuding pheromones. Tonight, though, with Etsuko in her Kangaroo sling, pressed against his chest, he was getting completely different looks from a different set of women – the older ones, the mothers and grandmothers. They smiled maternally at what they perceived as a dad who was doing his share of the parenting.
He was unavailable!
It was a sobering experience for him.
Finally, the train came in. He looked for Toshiko. She spotted him first. She leapt from the train and went through the crowds like a small Japanese Human missile. She hugged him and the baby together before Jack unfastened the sling and passed Etsuko to her.
“Were there any problems?” she asked. “Was Etsuko…”
“Etsuko was fine. Told you, she loves her uncle Jack. The only problem we have at the Hub is Myfanwy. She’s laid an egg.”