by W.G.Willard ©

"Get your lazy bones up here and listen to what I've got to say."

K'tau-el sounded like a dumped 1953 country singer but K'min-el felt he was dead serious. Or at least serious.

"Let's adopt a baby."

"A Terra thing? Made from carbon? You crazy? "

"I'm not crazy, I'm just having a bright moment."

"Why the Terra thing? Don't we have lovely small appliances at our disposal?"

"That's not the same, a Terra baby is something warm and soft, so they've told me"

"Who told you?" asked K'min-el in a suspicious tone. He didn't like his partner having secrets. Not the hidden ones anyway.

"Them who know," replied K'tau-el, pretty enigmatically.

"Okay, so what you're gonna do with that baby stuff?"

"Nurse it and feed it, play with it and --"

"Reality check! Are we having some parental crisis or what?"

"Maybe I have, so what?" K'tau-el sounded rebellious and hurt.

"You wanna get rid of me."

"I don't, it's simply, I mean, you know, huh --"

"You don't know, all right then. Get your baby up here and see what happens."

K'min-el paced away, hopping mad, leaving his partner in a state of confusion and distress.

The baby came with the next useless Terra shipment of chili beans, oxygen masks and toilet paper. It was wrapped in simple cloth, rather looking like a scene from the Ten Commandments.

It opened its eyes and started to cry, deafeningly, at the same time stamping and kicking with its small, though firm legs

. The Two K's didn't know what to do with it and as a peculiar scent started to spread from within the little creature, they asked for help.

The only database still working at that hour was Granny. It was busy knitting new data but at once it lowered the needles to lend an attentive ear.

"Wait a second, knit one, purl one," it said with an old, cracking voice. "What you need is a motherly hand, taking care of everything you men can't handle."

"Okay, Granny, tell us what to do," begged K'tau-el, trying to shout over the mighty baby's vocal cords.

"First you change her diaper, then you give her milk and you sing to her to get her sleeping."

"I know how to put it to sleep," K'min-el eagerly said, reaching for his living gun.

"Not that way, you silly men, you'll have to take her to bed."

The baby started a new offensive on their eardrums, which made them go for it.

"The diaper could be better and your lullaby was a nightmare, but what did you give her to sleep?" Granny asked in a way grandmothers are used to address their daughters-in-law.

"Just plain chickarokee," said K'tau-el.

"You retarded, no-good in-laws, are you maniacs or what?"

"It's asleep, so what's the problem," shouted K'min-el, tired of Granny's annoying interferences.

"Listen, Granny, we're gonna send the baby back to where it belongs," decided K'tau-el, not without a motherly blink. "I suppose it's not up our alley."

"You better believe it. Now let me finish my e-sweater or you won't get new data."

Author's note: The baby's span on the Auyolan ship lasted, in earthly terms, no more then 1.5 seconds, hardly the time to ask: "Where's that darned clicker?" Only her dog Boeing was aware she had gone but as he was a stupid dog, he didn't jump to vital conclusions.

x x x

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