Boom-Boom Kitty's ear's pricked up as morning-sounds began coming from the kitchen. His little pink-pencil-eraser-coloured nose twitched.

Bacon! Which mean that Jack was burning things in the food place!

And- most important- unlike Arley, Jack was susceptible to kitty-mooching!

Boom-Boom Kitty stretched and yawned, and worriedly checked on his mistress. Once again he had been rescued from that dark place and reunited with her!

The little blonde girl did not look well. She was very pale, with dark circles under her eyes. She still slept in the special bed that had been brought into their home. It was made of shiny nickel-chrome, and did all sorts of interesting things when Yelina was bored. The head went up, the foot went up, the mattress bent into funny shapes that made for great climbing about and playing hide-and-seek with non-existent mice!

For the longest time Yelina had been hooked up to strange things that beeped and whined and whirred and dripped, but now those awful reminders of her accident were gone, and she was on the mend.

Boom-Boom Kitty licked her nose- a kitty kiss- reassured himself that she was breathing normally, and then went on his never-ending search for orts.

-

'Hey, Boom-Kitty,' Jack smiled in his grumbly morning-voice. 'I bet I know what you want.'

He chuckled to himself as Boom-Boom Kitty worried his piece of bacon, spitting it out and dropping it repeatedly because it was too hot. Soon, his own breakfast finished, Jack was sitting at the table, reading his newspaper and sipping his coffee. Boom-Boom Kitty luxuriated in his lap for a while, but left off to sit in the window and watch the birds at the bird-feeder.

Jack heard Arley rise, go straight to Yelina's room where she spent some time, before coming to the kitchen to join him. He heard low talking, then, and realised Satu was up as well, speaking with Arley. After a while, both women joined him in the kitchen. He didn't bother offering to make them breakfast. Arley was making a habit of banishing him from the kitchen, or at least from the vicinity of the stove- a wise move, by all accounts.

Jack got to his feet in shock and went to his new wife. 'Arley? What's wrong? Is something wrong with Yelina-?'

'She called me "Mom"!' Arley said through her teary smile, accepting his ready embrace.

Jack sighed deeply, and held her close. 'She did ask if she could call you that.'

'I know. But this is the first time she actually said it. It was kind of like she was trying it on for size.'

'H'm,' Jack said, relieved and smiling broadly, now. 'Does it fit?'

Arley extracted herself, sniffling. 'Oh, yes.' She left him there and set to making breakfast.

Within a few minutes they were joined by Mike. Jack grinned to himself at the way he and Satu sized each other up. Satu was now Mrs Johnson, and smugly reminded the world at every opportunity.

'Oh, yeah, I keep forgetting to ask,' Arley asked Satu, licking a finger and looking through the cupboard, 'months ago, Kiko and Yelina told me that all the women on your ship were pregnant. If I'm not being too nosey by asking . . .'

'There were several false positives,' Satu told her, watching Boom-Boom Kitty prepare to launch himself at a bird he surely knew he had no chance of catching. 'And because of the crash, there were a few miscarriages.'

'This was in the box with the paper this morning,' Jack told them, showing them a magazine.

Mike picked it up and began leafing through it. The title on the cover proclaimed, The Future Is Now! 'Jeeze! These guys don't waste any time! The Ford Futura . . .' he burst out laughing. 'They're calling it a "hover-car"! And their calling their vee-ped a "hover-bike"!'

'What? Lemme see that!' Jack said laughing.

'I don't understand the humour,' Satu said with a frown.

'It's a Simpson's joke,' Mike explained. 'I forget the details, but in that episode the kids were lied to in order to get them to do something, and were promised "hover-bikes" as incentive. They go to ride their "hover-bikes", and find out the hard way that they're just bikes hanging on wires. "Yay! Hover-bikes!" Snap! Crash!'

Satu gave Arley a look. 'Is this something along the order of The Three Stooges?'

'Not quite, but close.'

'This is weird,' Mike muttered, frowning, flipping through the magazine. 'If it was just about aliens or people from the future, every kook would be coming out of the woodwork to make trouble. But instead, the world is going nuts thinking about all this new technology. Next to that, they don't seem too concerned with the most important event in world history.'

Satu gave him a look as she accepted her café mocha from Arley. 'Did that new machine make this? M'm-m-m-m-m!' Turning her attention back to Mike, she said, 'You can't have been watching television lately!' This had become a running joke between them, as Satu and Arley were into their Soaps, and Mike couldn't stand television. 'The women from our ship have become very . . . popular.'

'So have the kids,' Arley told her. 'You know that a dozen of them are going to Holy Cross, now-?'

'I do not mean that sort of popular,' Satu told her disparagingly. 'Several of them have married . . . for position.'

'Good on them!' Arley told her, setting food on the table, ignoring Jack's protests. She didn't consider most of Jack's concoctions to be "food". Therefore, he had not yet eaten. 'After what they've been through, they deserve a little something.'

-

Licking his chops in disappointment, Boom-Boom Kitty sighed and decided to go check on his mistress. He dropped from the sill, stumped from the kitchen, went trotting down the hall, squeezed himself between the almost-closed door and jamb, forcing it open, crossed to the bed, and leapt.

His mistress stirred, stretched, winced in pain, and got herself rolled over on her side- something she'd only been able to do in the past two days.

'M'm. Hi, Boomers!' she tousled his head, and he came to her, purring, and licked her face to show how happy he was. 'M'm . . . my little Boom-Kitty.'

Having heard the girl stir, Arley was there in an instant with her breakfast. She grinned to herself at the way Yelina eyed the light omelette.

'Before you say "yucky", lets get you sitting up-'

'It hurts!' Yelina grumbled.

'I know it does, sweetie, but the sooner we get you up and moving around on your own, the sooner you'll be up and out of bed.'

For the first while, Yelina tried feeding herself, but soon Arley took over and began feeding the girl omelette, toast and orange-juice. All the while, Arley tried not to let her worry show. Yelina had bright red healing-marks all over her body- places where bones and organs had been smashed, broken and ruptured. The healing-marks would have been horrible, disfiguring scars, but the doctors on board the ship from the future had removed all but the smallest reminders of Yelina's ordeal. The scars, they said, would fade and mostly disappear. The rest, they had told Arley, was up to her.

But the girl's injuries had been extreme, and she had literally been at death's door. Despite their best efforts, Yelina's recovery would be slow and long, her future health and well-being an open question.

'Would Yelina ever play hockey again?' the doctors had been asked.

'Let's just worry about her walking again,' had been their cryptic response.