.Adoption Agent, See?

BY : Keith
Category: Titles in the Public Domain > Gulliver's Travels
Dragon prints: 1165
Disclaimer: This is a work fiction, based on Gullivers Travels by Jonathan Swift. Any resemblance to person(s) living or dead is purely coincidental.


Sue glanced once more up and down the hall, making sure it was clear.  The door was cracked open just enough for her to enter the room.

Rose sat in a chair, listening to music in her headphones.  Sue stared at the girl for a second.  She was nearly an adult, but there was still an air of the child about her.

And as a recent orphan, there was more than a little grief, too.  But there was a time limit, right now, and they couldn't afford to indulge it.

"Hey, Rose!  Get up, we have to go do something."  There was no response.  "Forgive me, kid, but there's no time for this."  She examined the teenager's foot in an open-toed sandal.  She jumped up into the air and stabbed down on it as hard as she could.

"Is someone there?" Rose asked.  She took off her headphones and looked around.

"OI!  Down here!" Sue shouted.  Rose leaned over and looked down.

"Oh, hi!"  The young woman reached down and carefully scooped up the Lilliputian.  Sue relaxed into the grip.  Rose was born on the Islands and had been picking people up before she could even say 'Lilliputian.'

She moved Sue to the desk beside her chair and stood her carefully on the top.  "Who are you?"

"I'm Suellellee.  I'm on the Imperial staff.  The Queen sent me."  She flashed her badge.  Rose leaned down to look at it. 

"The Queen?  What for?  You know something about my case?"

Sue moved to sit on the edge of the desk.  "Sweetheart, you understand that your case is complicated?"

"No.  Mom and Dad wanted the Empire to take care of me if something happened.  Something happened."  She leaned back into her chair and crossed her arms.  Sue's heart went out to her.  It sounded so simple…

"But there are other issues.  Your President is under a lot of pressure.  Some people think that a Lilliput adoption of a human is wrong.  Some that our adopting an American is wrong.  Others are concerned that there are no black people in Lilliput."

"What does that have to do with anything?" Rose asked.  Sue shrugged. 

"Actually, racism is a lost art among my people.  We're having a hard time figuring out the problem."

Rose shook her head and started to pace the room.  "But…but what does it matter?  I mean, it's not Conner's decision.  The case is before the World Court!"

"That's right," Sue said softly.  Then she realized that Rose didn't have earplugs in.  So she waited patiently until the giant teen paced back towards the desk and yelled.  "THAT'S RIGHT!  BUT…ahem, but the court came to a decision.  And he is pressuring them not to announce it."

Rose thought for a second.  "If they drag it out long enough, I turn 18, and it's no longer an issue.  If I go to Lilliput, it's my choice.  Instead of being something the President allows, it's something the President can't stop."

She looked down at her visitor.  The elf smiled back up at her.  "The whole nation knows how smart you are," Sue said with a grin.  "It'll make this a lot easier."

"What?  Make what easier?"

"You are invited to sneak out of this place, with me, and get to Lilliput NOW.  You don't have to.  The Queen trusts you and wants you to make your own decision.  But she doesn't trust your government, and wants it to be YOUR decision.

"So, here I am," she said, holding out her hands.

"You're going to sneak me out?" Rose said with a smile.  "What, I wear platform shoes and pretend to be from Brobdingrag?  Then just walk past the guard at the door?"

"That was one plan," Sue nodded.  "The other was anti-platform shoes to make you look like a Lilliputian.  Just remember to take tiny, tiny steps."  Rose laughed.  Then stopped when the tiny woman on her desk ran across the desk and jumped down between the wall and the desk.

Behind her, a soft knock on the door announced the entry of a man on the Governor's staff.  "Miss Notak?  Did I hear voices?"

"I was, uh, talking to myself, Howard."  Rose had mixed feelings about Howard.  He had gone to great lengths to get her settled here in the Mansion, and see to her needs, but he'd also been the man to take her aside at the airport.  He'd been the one to tell her that her parents were dead.

He accepted her story, asked if there was anything she needed, and turned to go.  She thought about something Suellellee had said.

"Uh, Howard?  Has the Governor heard anything about my case?"  He turned back around, a worried look in his eyes.  Rose realized that she'd put him in a difficult position, between his boss and herself.  So she opened her mouth to withdraw the question.

Just then, the man's eyes went wide.  She followed his line of sight to her desk.  Sue had dropped her backpack there, under the lamp.  She turned back, thinking of claiming it was a souvenir of her childhood.

Howard was smiling.  "I haven't heard anything, Miss Notak.  They've been more worried about the back door."

"There's…a problem with the back door?"

"Yes," he said, drawing the door shut behind him.  "All the security devices on that entry have failed.  They probably won't be fixed until exactly midnight.  There'll be no telling who…comes in that door until then."

And he was gone.

Sue popped back up into sight.  "Do you trust him?"


"Cool.  I wasn't looking forward to climbing out the window."  She walked to her pack, shaking her head ruefully.  "I've never done that before.  But it worked out well.  Okay, if you want to come, we have to go."

"I want to come.  It's what Mom and Dad wanted.  And I miss the Islands.  But..."  She paused and leaned down to the Imperial agent.  "I don't want to get Howard in trouble."

"You won't," Sue assured her.  "He came up with that security breach pretty fast.  If he's honest, it probably means that the governor told his people to support your 'escape' attempt."  She ended with her arms held straight up towards the young woman's face.

Rose automatically scooped her up and pocketed her.  Her brain was considering the political situation.  Everyone agreed that President Conner and Governor Blackburn were going to be candidates for the next presidential election. 

Conner might be pressuring Blackburn already, or maybe the Gov was getting a few licks in early.  Either way, he was more likely to support her than Conner.

"Okay, do I pack or do we go light?"

"Things we can send for," Sue told her.  "Just a jacket and a hat, for now."


Suellellee directed Rose out of the mansion and to the nearest bus stop.  A tiny copy of the schedule was in the agent's pack and she knew the bus they wanted.

Rose crouched in the back of the nearly empty bus.  "The emptiness is good and bad," Sue explained.  "We can talk, but it'll be more likely that the drive will remember where you got off.  C'mere."

Held in the teen's hand, Sue affixed a tiny camera to each temple of the girl's eyeglasses and a speaker in each ear.  Then the human girl could lean back, with the elf back in her pocket, and have a quiet conversation.

"How much money?" Sue asked.  Rose had found a money clip on the floor by the exit.  She hadn't had a chance to look it over until now.

"Five hundred dollars, unmarked, nonsequential, used bills.  Is that good?" Rose asked.

"How should I know," Sue replied, writing the sum down.  "We still use coins back home.  Leave the money clip on the bus, though, it might have a transmitter in the seal.  We'll make sure the governor gets reimbursed when we get in contact with the Embassy."

"So, we're going to the Embassy?"

"Oh, no, we're being sneaky.  They'll be looking for us at any harbor or airport that connects to Lilliput, or the Embassy, the Consulates." 

To avoid any lookers, the first stop was a thrift store.  Sue suggested some clothes, anything that changed her shape or apparent age.  She was hampered though, in not really being able to see the human as the other great huge primates would.

"What about the mirror?" Rose asked.  Sue shrugged, turning to face it in the dressing room. 

"Problem is, sweetheart, you're as big in the mirror."

"I mean," Rose whispered, "using the camera on the glasses to see things from human point of view."

"Oh.  Yeah, well," she mumbled as she fished out the display.  Sure enough, she could get a pretty good picture of Rose's look that way.  "Man, you're as smart as they said you'd be in the brief."  The two shared a smile and went through the pile of clothes.

As Rose went to check out, Sue huddled in a pocket and watched the store.  The woman at the counter looked oddly at Rose's purchases.

"Looks like a sister's trying to change herself from the outside in." 

Rose met the woman's gaze with a steady one.  "I like who I am.  I'm just trying to hide."

"From who?  You runnin' away form home?  You done somethin' wrong?"

"Nothin'," Rose said carefully.  "Not running from the law, just lawyers.  And I have no home.  It's a custody case."

The clerk stared for a long moment.  Then she tossed Rose's pile of clothes behind the counter.  "Got a better idea, girl.  Come here, I'll make you look like Grandma Moses." 

Sue missed most of the next twenty minutes.  She was watching closely, but the two humans spoke with a shorthand an outsider couldn't follow.  Even as a professional student of humans, this was over her head, often literally.

So she tried to stay motionless in the pocket, even when Rose hung the shirt she was in up on the wall.

She had to admit, though, that the result was worth the delay.  There was a certain air of authenticity in Rose's final look.  Sue had no idea who Moses' grandmother was, but Rose certainly looked to be an aged, tired old woman. 

"I think even your parents wouldn't know you," she told the girl.  There was a brief flash of pain over the face in the mirror, then it went away.  "Oh, Rose, I'm so sorry.  You can beat me later, for that."

The face shook a negative in the mirror.  Her helper, Shawana, caught it.  "What's wrong?"

"Just...just remembering my parents.  They died, that's why I'm doing this."  Shawana put a hand on Rose's shoulder and they stood for a second.  Sue wrote down the woman's name on her list of people to thank afterwards.  The Queen could be quite generous for such people.

Finally, they had to go.  Rose slipped her guide into her purse and shuffled out onto the street.  The bus station was nearby and she bought a ticket to Santa Fe.  An hour later, she was dozing in the back of a Greyhound.

Sue crawled carefully out and up to the girl's collar. 

"I've never had a chance to tell you how sorry I was about your folks, Rose.  They were good people."  She hugged the giant cheek and they rode into the night.  "Did you know I met your mom?" 

They talked softly in the darkness, Sue dredging up all the Notak stories she could recall, Rose remembering them fondly.

The Notaks had been on the expedition that recreated Gulliver's travels.  They'd been the first 'Englishmen,' as Lilliputians referred to humans since Lemuel's visit, to learn the Lilliputian tongue.  They'd stayed on the Islands, at the invitation of the King, while the ship went on to look for Laputa, Balnibarbi and the rest.

Rose was the Queen's goddaughter, born in the capitol, raised on lands granted to the family outside of town.

Suellellee's grandfather had been on Rose's personal security detail.  The family connection added to Sue's sense of duty to protect this child.  She was determined to see her through, despite politics, lawyers and the rest.

"Why Santa Fe?" Rose asked.

"For anyone following us," Sue replied.  "You never tell them where you're going.  We're going only as far as we have to."  The bus slowed, then, for a rest stop.  Sue climbed back down into the pocket of the new/old coat.


They slipped away from the bus at a late dinner stop north of St. Louis.  Well, frankly, Rose slipped away under the direction of a voice coming from her coat pocket.  They changed to local transit and headed downtown.

Suellellee read from another schedule in her pack and aimed them for a video arcade downtown.

"We need you to play a certain video game there.  The problem is, we need for you to look like you fit in there."

"No problem," Rose said.  She stepped to the back of the bus and readjusted her clothes.  She lifted a hem and tucked it into her waist, rolled one sleeve all the way up to her shoulder, and unbuttoned every other button.  Some more tucks and untucks, then she was done.

As she checked her reflection in the tinted window, Sue stared at her display.

"You, uh, think you fit in, now?  With teenagers in a video arcade?"

"Well, duh, Sue.  I mean, look!  I'm sheenk!"

Sue looked, even lifting her head out of the pocket for a brief glance, then shook her head and sank back down.  "You're wearing the same 4-generation-old clothes you wore to pretend to be an old woman."

"Yeah," Rose whispered, sitting back down.  "But now, I'm wearing them all, you know, 'ironic.'  It's a new fad.  You'll see."

No one at the arcade gave them a second glance.  Rose went straight to the Mercy Missile Galore game and started playing. 

Sue crawled across the shirt to the sleeve that went all the way to the teen's wrist and climbed in.  Then she slid smoothly down to the console. The company that made MMG was wholly (and secretly) owned by the Lilliputian Intelligence Agency, Reserve.  The men and women who were LIARs supported Lilliput Intelligence's field agents throughout the human lands.

Under the control panel of the game console was a small safe house for small spies.  A tiny panel of LED's told Sue that security hadn't been breached. 

Rose played a couple of games, then wandered over to the concession stand.  Sue had told her to kill some time while she got caught up on the mission. The Lilliputian settled gratefully into the small bucket seat as she plugged her display into the net.  Much as she loved being with the kid, pockets were not designed to be sat in.  Not comfortably, anyway.

Emails in the system told her that Rose's disappearance hadn't been reported until Feds had tried to establish her whereabouts.  The governor was apparently quite surprised that she wasn't where she was supposed to be.  He promised that heads were going to roll.  Soon.

FBI agents were scanning the ports on the West Coast, with a high density of agents any port that provided travel connections to the Islands.

Airport security, an industry of its own these days, merely added the teen's face to its list of concerns and made every terminal in the nation aware.

Every border exit point was secure.  Or so they thought.  She had verified some times with contacts when she heard a voice on her earplugs.

"So, you made it this far."

"Excuse me?  Do I know you?"

"Not specifically.  But I do know you've seen this sort of badge before."  Sue scrambled to select the  camera feed from the eyeglasses, but was too late to see just who the new voice worked for.

"Missed it," she whispered into her mike, although the caution was quite unnecessary.

"What does the FBI want with me?" Rose asked.

"Good girl," Sue remarked and concentrated on the intruder.  He was mature, but not old.  Rather clean-cut.  If he was in a suit, she'd have pegged him as a Fibbie herself, but he was in 'soft clothes.'  A t-shirt and jeans let him fit in with the kids and college students in the arcade.

At least until you looked in his eyes.  They were like ice sculptures, replicas of human eyes, made by careful but emotionless craftsmen.  From the angle, Rose must be looking straight at them, and she must see that this was not a nice person.

"You need to come home with me, Miss Notak.  Right now."

"I'm trying to get home," the girl replied.  Suellellee closed up the safe room, put away the display and crawled deeper into the machine.

"Unfortunately," the conversation went on in her ears, "for the next while, home is where the courts decide it is."

"I heard that the courts are being manipulated."  Sue swung down the cables feeding the game monitor to a box at the bottom.  Most of the games the company made didn't have this box.  A maintenance crew had installed it when the mission was approved.

"Hahaha!" the agent chortled.  "You don't think that you're already being manipulated?  Your friend, Queen Estepietal, is looking to leverage your adoption into validating Lilliput as a nation in world politics.  More than anything else, she wants to show that she can play with the big dogs."

Oh, no, Sue thought gleefully, as she swung open the doors on the box.  You don't insult the Queen where one of the Notaks can hear.

"I'm sure," Rose said coldly, "that Estee can see a number of levels of benefit from any action she takes.  But I'm also sure that she is primarily motivated by my well-being."  Inside the box, a sleek outline made Sue's heart skip a beat.

"Welcome to world politics, kid.  She is motivated, as you say, by her nation's well being, first and foremost."  Sue climbed aboard the vehicle and grabbed the controls.

"Yes.  And as far as she's concerned, I'm a citizen of that nation.  I'll thank you to remember that, and leave me alone."  Two quick checklists ensured that everything was in place, powered and ready.

"Look, kid, I'm sure that your little kidnapping team has been feeding your replies to anything I've said, but you have to know, they're trying harder to 'manipulate' you than I am."  Sue popped the kick panel of the game out of the way and drove off.  She screamed between the legs of the kid playing MMG and headed for the concession tables.

"As a matter of fact," Rose's voice carried through the din of the games and the players, "she hasn't said anything at all.  SHE trusts me to make up my own mind.  Which is really all I need to know, isn't it?"

Sue's vehicle was a sleek all-terrain vehicle. The knobby tires provided enough traction to climb almost straight up a wall.  At the same time, the intended environment of the vehicle's use was kept in mind, and the tires could navigate the floor of a human movie theatre without getting stuck in the sticky layer of soda adhering to it.

It was four-wheel drive and four-wheel turn.  It could spin around almost within its own length, giving a careful driver the agility to avoid great clumping feet in a crowded arcade or a busy sidewalk.  And it was armed. 

As Sue screamed across the floor towards her ward, she targeted the back of the agent's calf.  Four darts from a rotating launcher spat out, neatly stitching the pant leg to the man.

The sap from a Brobdingrag Flytrap was in the darts, a sedative that would put down an elephant in under a minute.  Lilliput mission planners tended towards overestimating their opponents whenever possible.  No one in the field ever regretted this policy.  The agent froze instantly, and with a silly smile on his face slid slowly down in his seat.

Sue kept on past the teen's feet, shouting "C'mon!" and headed for the back door.  Footsteps pounded the linoleum from behind.  So did a pair from left, and another from right.  The bastard had had outriders, of course.

She gritted her teeth and raced for the exit.


Sue timed it carefully. Rose caught up with the little car about the time it reached the back door.  Just as the human hit the door release, Sue made a 90 degree turn. 

She shot past the agent on the right, a squat man with a florid face.  Her shot hit his kneecap by accident, the dart bouncing off without injecting him.  His eyes were on the girl, though, so he ignored the car as it went by.  She spun around and put three shots in his butt.

His legs splayed as he fell, blocking her to either side.  Reacting rather than thinking, she drove right up his ass and across his back.

She found herself face to face with the other agent.  The tall woman had lunged for Rose, missed, and fallen along her partner's back. 

In a panic she'd never admit to in debrief, Suellellee flushed all her missile slots into the angry features straight ahead.  The four ready weapons plunged forward, into cheeks and lips.  The woman was in a coma before she even closed her eyes.

Sue jinked hard to the right and the car bounced along squat-agent's arm towards the door Rose held.  She hit the door's frame like a speed bump, then the back steps, then they were racing down the sidewalk. 

Sue swerved more than was quite necessary for the traffic and debris. She was trying to get a view of the street, but parked cars blocked her.

"Where to?" Rose asked.

"I'm looking for a way across the street!" Sue shouted in reply.  Rose barked a short laugh, grabbed the little car by the roll bars and plunged through the space between two vehicles.

She was across the street and putting the car down before Sue quite figured out what was happening.  She was quick to catch on, though, and took off towards the alley.  They just turned the corner as the back door of the arcade burst open with a crash.

Blocks later, they paused for a rest under a fire escape.  The onboard map had drawn a beeline through the city, scattering pursuing feds across a dozen blocks in all directions. 

Rose gasped from the exertion, while Sue shook in reaction to the adrenalin rush.  "MAN!" she said, jumping down from the seat, "This is why I became an agent!  You okay?"

"Will be," the teen replied between breaths.   Sue raised her arms and the human picked her up.  Beside her face, standing on her palm, the Lilliputian gave the big cheek as firm a hug as she could.

"You were great," she said.  "I'd take you as my partner any day.  Wanna be the first human LIAFA?"

"University," Rose panted.  "Literature.  Study.  Doctorate. Teach.  Avoid.  Movie.  Chase.  Scenes."

Sue hugged her again.  "Okay.  Your choice."  She went back to the car to monitor what radio signals they could pick up.  The feds were too canny to announce their efforts, though.

On the plus side, they weren't broadcasting false messages to distract the pair from agents sneaking up on them.


Just about midnight, someone used one of the Notak's credit cards to buy a ticket at the Amtrak station.  Then she sat patiently in the terminal until a horde of feds swarmed the building. 

They were quite agitated to find that they were surrounding a maid who worked at the Lilliput Embassy in Washington.  She seemed to have been expecting them, though.

Across town, Sue led Rose under the freeway bridge that crossed the Mississippi from St. Louis to East St. Louis.  Lodged in the mud was something that looked like a huge thermos.

A remote in Sue's pack caused the metallic side to open.  Rose plucked up the car again and stepped across.  Inside was a small cylindrical space.  There was what looked like an astronaut's chair and a cupboard.

"Put the car in the cabinet there and make sure the door's shut," Sue directed, hopping from the car to the girl's sleeve and down to the chair.

There was a storage space below the head cushion.  Sue pulled a suit out of it and put it on.

"You look like, I dunno, one of those attack dog trainers!" Rose laughed.  Sue waved her heavily cushioned arms back and forth, waddling to the arm of the chair.

"Stop laughing and strap in!" she ordered.  The kid strapped in, but never quite stopped giggling. 

Sue's suit was nearly a sphere, heavy foam enclosing her a cubit's length in all dimensions.  Her face was barely visible at the end of a tunnel through the padding.

Rose noted that her chair was padded as well, but not as cautiously as the tiny woman.  She strapped in at the Lilliputian's direction, then fixed the agent in a groove in one of the chair's arms. 

Then they waited.  At one AM, the cylinder shook, the swerved violently to one side.  As the straps dug into Rose's side, she tried to remember if St. Louis suffered from earthquakes.


As rough as it was for her, Rose realized it was worse for the Lilliputian.  Being jerked a body's length to the side for her was a twelfth as shocking as the same distance was for Sue.

"Are you alright?" she asked.

"Surviving," Sue managed to work around her mouth guard.  Eventually the rocking and jerking stopped.  There was a metallic click, then the motion changed to a more fluid sensation.

"Sorry," an incredibly deep voice said from a speaker in the headrest.  "Had to duck spotlights from the shore.  Should be smooth now.  Everyone okay?"

"Um, yeah," Rose said at a gesture from Sue.  It might have been a thumbs up.  Or something more earthy.  Either way, she was well enough to wave her arms in that foam monstrosity, so they were okay.

"Good.  See you in the Gulf."  A distinct click announced the breaking of the connection.

"Brobdingrag?" she asked the spy. 

"Our intel partners against human shortsightedness," Sue explained.  "No offense meant, of course."

"None taken," the girl replied.  "So, we're in a giant thermos, floating down the river to the gulf, hoping no one's closed that border?"

"Yep," Sue agreed.  "You can get up now, if you want.  Just be careful moving around.  Gleegulheil should warn us before anything exciting."

"Glee…Isn't he the crown prince?"  She unstrapped the tiny woman from the armrest and held Sue in her lap like a teddy bear with a thyroid condition.

"Whatever happens, at worst our escort has diplomatic immunity.  And the chances of them closing off the mouth of the Mississippi…  Well, relax, get comfortable, and enjoy the ride.


A day later, the container was lifted onto the deck of a Brobdingrag motorboat.  With just barely room for the pilot, the prince took most of his equipment off in the water and stowed it in lockers just above the waterline.  When he boarded, he fixed the bottle in a tray beside the helm and started the motor.

Glee set course for Minatitlán, and the Mexican Canal his country had just dug to the Gulf of Tehuantepec.

Rose stepped out from the container to meet her first giant.  She shook finger with the prince, slack jawed in amazement at his size.  As someone who'd grown up in Lilliput, the reversal of scale was doubly strange for her.

"Pleased to meet you, Rose," Glee said.  "I met your father, once.  I enjoyed his company.  So did my parent.  Father declared a national day of mourning for your parent's memory."

"Thank you, your Excellency.  And thank you for the rescue."

"It's my deepest pleasure," he assured her, managing to sketch a bow from the cockpit seat.

Sue stayed in her foam suit.  She trusted the Brobdingragian implicitly, but he was still 144 times as tall as she.  A sneeze could blow her over the gunwales or against a bulkhead. 

Glee was a perfect host, warning his passengers of any ship movement or weather that might cause them discomfort.

The trip through the Canal was a shock, though.  For all that the locks were designed for the greatest human warships in production, there were many times that Rose, standing in front of the windscreen, saw only land beyond the watercraft, stretching green and lush to the horizon in every direction.

"You're sure we're still in water?" she asked the pilot, once.  The prince overheard and merely shifted his weight in the chair, rocking the craft two degrees to one side.

"Si, miss," the pilot replied, deadpan, as he grabbed a windshield wiper and her elbow to keep them both upright.  "Si, is agua beneath."


At the last construction site, where they were cleaning up industrial debris from the Canal, Glee stepped ashore for a much needed stretch.

Rose rode on his shoulder, Sue rode in her shirt.  From the site, it was a short walk (for a giant) to the Tenochtitlán archaeological site.  They examined the giant stone Olmec heads, and the prince even posed for a scholar's picture of his head next to the carved one.

On the way back, Glee broached the subject of Rose's plans for the future.

"A degree in Lilliputian Literature," she explained to his ear.  "I've always been fascinated by the way their people's lack of an attention span has been immortalized in print.  By human standards, the plots are a collection of non-sequitors, but the Lilliputians find it perfectly logical."

"Huh," Glee replied.  "And then what?"

"Oh, well, once I've got the doctorate, write a few books, and teach."

"Yes, you'd be the biggest expert on Lilli-lit in the world," he pointed out.  She glared at him for a second, wondering if she was being teased.  At a glance to her passenger, Sue understood the concern, but could only shrug.

"Where were you planning on teaching?" he went on.

"Oh, either University of Blefuscu or Lilliput College.  I dunno, maybe Yale if I get lonely for human company."

"Well, I can guarantee, if you like a challenge, I can guarantee that Lorbrulgrud Academy will always have an opening for a Lilliput-trained scholar."

"Um…wow," she breathed.  "I never imagined… I have to admit," she said, "the image of lecturing a room full of giants about the writings of elves…that's an interesting one.  But right now…"

"Sure, sure.  You want to go home.  And you should.  That's what we're doing.  But you should know the offer is there."

"Thank you, sir.  Thank you very much."  They were quiet for the rest of the walk back.


After leaving the Canal, and the more populated waters of the harbor beyond, the prince let loose.  He held Rose up over his head so she could look back and see the rooster tail behind the boat. 

"It's as big as the St. Louis Arch!" she laughed.  He laughed with her and set the boat to serpentine over the waves. 

Sue just hung on tight in the thermos, waiting for the two giants to stop giggling at each other.

Finally, days later, a human helicopter was landing on the flight deck Glee had unfolded on the foredeck.

Rose kissed the royal nose goodbye and jogged over to the aircraft.  A brief hop and they were at the floating airport half a mile from the Islands.  Sue doffed her protective layers and rode along to the ferry.

The teen knew the path from the dock to the castle as well as the front garden in her home.  At the end of it, she started to kneel at the sight of the Queen and a parade of citizens.

Queen Estepietal, though, shouted into a microphone.  The speakers were still in Rose's ears so she clearly heard:  "OI!  Straight standing be, girl.  Of today, all days, you upright remain."  Then Estee raised her arms.

Sue gasped in shock.  The royals never tolerated an Englishman to touch them, much less carry them aloft.  It was a singular honor she was giving the girl.  Behind her, the crowd cheered.

Rose smiled and lifted her godmother to her face.  "Welcome home," Estee said, kissing the offered cheek.

"Thanks," Rose said softly.  "Thanks." 

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