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George sat at the breakfast bar, the telephone in hand. He now realised that he could no longer hide the truth from Susan and so had reluctantly decided to call her. Susan was at her desk when the call came and had herd her husband's words with a mixture of disbelief, fear and relief.

"The Gahsac, George? But you have at least eight more cycles left."

"That is what I thought. But the doctor's sure.", George confirmed.

"Why didn't you tell me about your visit?", She spoke softly, trying to keep the hurt out of her voice.

"Until this afternoon, I couldn't bring myself to accept his diagnosis." He paused and then continued, "I nearly killed Matthew and myself in our squad car today".

"Oh, neemu."

George looked at his watch. "You know, I was surprised when I saw how jealous some of the humans are of our longer life span. Now I think I understand it better. Since the Gahsac started I feel the passing of every moment."

Susan was silent, uncertain of what she could say.

George broke himself out of his revelry, "The Gahsac change will be taking effect soon. I'd rather be alone. Where are Buck and Emily?"

"I'm supposed to pick them up at the library later. George, I want to be with you."

"No, Susan, it's alright. I'll be fine, really."

She spoke in Tenctonese to emphasise her words, "{My hearts are with you always}". She became worried by the long pause from George, "Are you okay, Neemu?"

George voice seemed to drop to a whisper, "I remember once, when I was young, a number of us had been left on a small planet awaiting a transport ship. It was a beautiful place - a surprisingly serene place. Well, as we were being transported off, I remember feeling this tremendous longing for this piece of my life that I would never be able to return to and fearful of where I was going next."

"{Where ever you go I'll be with you.}"

"Na sus vot Oblakah". George carefully replace the phone on its cradle. He looked at it for a few moments and then lifted the hand set once more and placed it to one side. The dialling tone seemed unnaturally loud to him. "Like the wake-up buzzer on an alarm clock", George mused as he got up and headed for the lounge. The last thing he wanted was a worried Susan or Matt phoning him as he went through Gahsac.

At her office, Susan considered for a few moments then started to dial a new number.

Sikes was at his desk in the station house, trying to put his concern for George to one side and study a file. Zepeda at her desk, turned to him, noticing his mood. "Sikes, the doctor said it could be traumatic, he didn't say George was in any danger. He'll be fine. Why don't you go home?"

Sikes shrugged, "Nothin' but quiet there."

His phone rang and the detective snatched it up, "Sikes... Hi, Suse."


Bert and Lois Allen entered the Station House, looking around for Sikes. Zepeda noticed them and walked over.

"Have you seen Sikes?", Lois asked.

"Left about ten minutes ago, what's up?", Zepeda replied.

"I found something.", Bert interjected.

"I found something.", Lois corrected him.

Bert gave Lois a sour look, "You're just as ornery as a bronc dancing 'round a rattlesnake. Okay, YOU found something."

"The Walker case?", asked Zepeda, who was already tiring of their double act.

Lois nodded, "The victim we found in the car didn't burn to death, he was stabbed."

"Crispy critter also wasn't Walker - I did genetic tests - body belonged to Bill Meelator.", added Bert.

Zepeda was puzzled, "Walker's accomplice - Why'd he have Walker's ID?"

"Maybe Walker wanted you to think he was dead.", observed Bert.

"Then where the hell is he?", Zepeda wondered aloud. She didn't have an answer yet, and she was sure there was going to be more trouble before she had one.


Jay Walker stalked around the outside of the Francisco house. Getting this address from an informant had cost him a pretty penny, but he was going to make Francisco pay. The obsession with his arresting officer and the gannaum responsible for the death of his brother, in the shoot-out had become Jay's reason for living. The money and escape no longer meant anything to him, just the death of George Francisco.

Jay risked a quick glance through a window. Bingo! There was Francisco, just sitting in a chair, seeming to stare off into nowhere. If his posture hadn't been so rigid, Walker would have thought he was asleep. Jay walked quickly but calmly to the side of the house. These suburban neighbourhoods were more difficult to work in than a Little Tencton slum. The neighbours would report anything suspicious, even someone snooping around a slag's house.

George found his breathing becoming laboured. A tight band of pain had developed around his forehead and it was becoming difficult to focus his eyes. Looking up at the chandler in the ceiling, it waved and as he squinted suddenly there were two chandlers, then the moment that George know was coming arrived. The room grew darker, he saw a sudden burst of colour and then blackness. No matter how he strained George was unable to see anything but the darkness. Primary Gahsac had begun. A wave of fear spread over him which gave way to the more immediateness of a sharp pain in his stomach. As the pain subsided George slumped back into his chair, awaiting the next muscle spasm.

Walker looked in through the glass patio doors of the Francisco house. George was nowhere in sight, so Walker pulled out a double bladed Tenctonese knife, a type of weapon favoured by Newcomer assassins. Walker had bought the weapon earlier in Little Tencton, he looked at it now thinking, "not as efficient as a gun, but when I kill Francisco I want to FEEL his hearts stop beating".

Using one of the stiletto shaped blades he quickly picked the patio lock and silently entered the house. Walker walked as quietly as possible through the house. Glancing in first the Kitchen and then the dinning room he finally saw George sitting in an easy chair, in the lounge. George's eyes were unfocused and he was mumbling to himself, as if in a daydream.

Walker abandoned caution now and walked up to George, standing directly in front of him. Walker smiled anticipating the reaction of fear, but George just stared straight through him. Walker closed the final distance between them and waved his hand in front of George, finally realising what was wrong with his intended victim. Suddenly, there was a loud knocking at the front door, which startled both George and Walker.

"George, open up, it's me! George?", Sikes was yelling from outside.

A weakened George stood and began feeling his way toward the front door. Walker moved aside, considering how best to deal with this new complication.

George felt his way to the door, not opening it immediately. Walker, at his heels, stealthily hid behind the front door, anticipating George opening it. With the pain and disorientation of the Gahsac George had still not even detected his presence.

George struggled to keep the pain from his voice, "Matthew, I'm fine, really."

"Oh yeah, you sound great.", replied Sikes sarcastically. Then changing his tone, "Look, I'm not gonna interfere, I just want to hang around, just in case."

George was unhappy, but realised he was unlikely to be able to get read of Matt. Reluctantly he opened the door to Sikes who steeped in.

As Sikes entered he could immediately see how badly his friend was effected, "You don't look so good...". But before he can get the whole sentence out, Walker stepped out and cold cocked Sikes on the head with the butt of the knife handle. Sikes collapsed toward George who surprised by the sudden collision with an unconscious body, fell with Sikes to the floor.

"Matthew?", George was worried, realising through the fog of pain that all was not right. "Who's there?" George was on his knees now, but another spasm of pain doubled him over.

"Gahsac? Kinda young aren't ya?", taunted Walker.

"Walker—", George immediately realised who the intruder was and the extent of his predicament. His concern for Sikes made him try to turn the unconscious human over, but before he had completed the manoeuvre a plan had formed in George's mind. Leaning over Sikes' body and reaching inside his jacket as if to get a better grip, George's hand felt Sike's 38. Grabbing the gun, he span and fired twice.

The first shot missed, but the second hit Walker in the leg, sending him falling backward over a small table, with a surprised yelp. George levelled the weapon at the position the sound had come from and pulled the trigger again. Nothing happen, the curse of the 38's had struck again and it had jammed when needed most. With desperation, he tossed the gun away and staggered toward the kitchen, fighting his blindness and weakness.

A dazed Walker untangled himself from the wreckage of the table and checked his bloody leg. Trying to shake out the cobwebs he retrieved his knife and started to followed George into the kitchen.

"I'm gonna dice you up good now, Francisco!"

Falling over a toy of Vessna's George landed on the floor by the back door. Partly from pain, partly from blindness he extended his arm, his hand touching first the waste bin, and then a long wooden handle. He could hear the approaching Walker.

"You're a dead man, Francisco!"

Walker throw himself at George, not caring where the blades of his dagger hit. Knowing it was now or never, George turned, swinging the frying pan with all that remained of his Newcomer strength, just as Walker's blades were about to strike. The skillet connected with his assailant's skull with enough force to break the handle in George's hands. Walker's head shoot backwards like a baseball that had been hit out of the ballpark and he crumpled on the floor beside George, the dagger skittering harmlessly across the floor.

George heaved a sigh of relief and relaxed on the carpet. A semi-groggy Sikes entered the Kitchen, taking note of the body of Walker, he then kneeled down next to George.

"It's okay, George, it's over."

"No, my gahsac is...", George's face took on many expressions - fear, joy, pain and wonder - alternating with each other for seconds at a time. George's breathing again became irregular. "My gahsac - Oh, Matthew, it's..."

Uncertain what else to do, Matt cradled George's head, "It's okay, George, it's okay."


George stood looking at his family. Emily and Buck were asleep in front of the glowing TV, while Susan sat near Vessna's crib. The confusion of the last few hours was finally over, and all the attending officers had left. The room had been cleaned up and the garbage, of what ever variety, had been removed. It had been with some regret that George had finally thrown out that frying pan.

Susan got up and joined George, wrapping her arms around him. "Oh, George, are you sure you're..."

George smiled, "I am better than I have ever been.", then he observed, "Your car isn't in the garage."

"It's been giving me problems. It died about half a mile from home. I'll call the mechanic again tomorrow."

"No. Let's just get a new one."

They touched temples. George looked over at each of his children. "I was thinking, Susan - perhaps we should let Emily experiment with human sleep patterns. And it probably won't hurt for Buck to study the old ways, as long as he learns the new ones as well."

He looked into Vessna's crib and extracted a set of measuring spoons. His smile broadened.

Susan nodded, "Measuring spoons, can you believe it, she won't let go of them."

"It's good for her to use her imagination - a very wise man told me that.", George stared closer at Vessna, "Look."

Baby Vessna finally opened her eyes and gazed up at her parents. Susan and George touched temples again.

Susan gazed wistfully at her husband, "Our children are getting older."

"And so am I."

Vessna closed her eyes.

"She'll sleep now." Susan cuddled him more tightly and caressed his neck spots, "Why don't we go to our room? And you can show me how an old dog turns a good trick."


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Written by Tim Gathercole. If you have any comments please send me a note.