THE DELIVERY

"So much of this starts out with "Oi - maddog" ," she muttered to herself as she tried to figure out how to start the narrative of the newest lurker. She sensed someone reading over her shoulder as she tried to put together an intelligent sounding sentence describing herself as one of the characters. Tall, dark haired, blue eyed and athletic -'

"Mu - ther!" cut in from behind her.

"What?"

"You're not."

She turned to face the annoying 13 year old standing behind her reading over her shoulder. "Didn't anyone ever tell you it's impolite to read over someone's shoulder."

"Huh? - Mom!" Odd how that work can become multi-syllabic in the mouth of a teenager.

"OK," she surrendered. "What'll it take to get the three of you to leave me alone for a couple of hours?"

"Piz - za!" came the not unexpected response. "Piz-za! Piz-za!" echoed the duo of pre-teens lying on the floor trying their best to look innocent while throttling each other for previous slights.

dragon sighed, saved her file to one disk or another, drained the last of her disgustingly room temperature Coke and padded into the kitchen where she prepared to feed the ravening horde.

A couple of hours later, dragon checked her e-mail and found a message from Lurker HQ. She read it with a grin and settled in to wait for a delivery. Two days later, the somewhat the worse for wear, brown paper and masking tape disguised parcel arrived. dragon made some disparaging remarks about the local "partial post" office, finished the remains of chile and ham sandwich and headed for her reliable cattruck. (The full name was somewhere recorded as the all purpose cultural cattruck nuku-nuku. Nobody knew why and nobody wanted to know.) She set the package on the seat next to her, prodded the delicate mechanisms of the truck to life - threatening to junk yard the thing if it broke down on her, and set out on her mission. She would prove to Lurker HQ that she had what it took to be a Lurker - and earn her very own tesserect so she could lurk unsupervised on her own.

As if all that thinking hadn't already overloaded all the circuts in her brain, as she hit Hwy 54 outside of Alamogordo and headed northish,
something lean, black furred and angular extracted itself from under the passenger side seat, dislodging the bag of goodies she'd brought along to keep her company on the drive from Las Cruces, NM to Toronto, Canada. The truck swerved, then came back to rest on its correct lane as she recognized the stupid black cat, Max.

"Max!"

"Meow!" he responded brightly. He climbed onto the seat and proceeded to headbutt one of his favorite humans.

"Not while I'm driving!" She extricated one hand from the steering wheel, patted the idiot on the head and reconsidered his name. While the family generally agreed that Max had just enough brain cells to look and act like a very stupid cat, it was her contention that he only had enough to be a blonde in disguise. (She also held that since she was an entirely unnatural blonde, she was allowed to make this decision. The consensus was that the peroxide had gotten into her own few remaining brain cells and made it impossible for her to get a grip. Blonde cats,
for heaven's sake!)

A moment's inspiration while digging the cat out of the bag of goodies into which he had fallen, caused her to rename the cat "I'magoodcop" in honor of the perky blonde thing. She didn't dislike the perky blonde thing, but she thought it was a good idea anyway.

Since Max only understood one word - Max - and that only occasionally when he wasn't concentrating on a brain cell with "wash" or "eat" or "meow' scribbled on it, he didn't mind.

Oddly enough, cattruck made the trip to Toronto without mishap along the way, if you didn't count having to stop every two hundred miles to put gas in the itty bitty excuse for a gas tank it had. dragon pulled up at the address given her by Lurker HQ and parked the truck. There was an imposing sign over the door. "Raven"

dragon grinned. She had made it. Now, all she had to do was get in,
leave the present on the board from which LaCroix made his broadcasts and get out again without being seen. For this operation she had chosen an oversized black t-shirt, black jeans relaxed enough to be comfortable on a less than sleek physique, her favorite black boots and a black headband to keep her hair out of her eyes. (The headband was failing miserably,
of course; and trying to give her a headache as well. She discarded it.) That this outfit wasn't exactly unnoticeable at high noon in Toronto made no difference. She was ready to prove herself lurker capable.

So was I'magoodcop as he pushed the door of the truck open and followed his human into the building.

dragon tiptoed into the Raven, thankful that someone had neglected to lock the door. She tried not to think too hard about why someone might have left the door unlocked in the middle of the day like that. It seemed somewhat unsecure to her. It was very dark inside. She turned on her tiny mini-maglight and proceeded. She knew the control room was somewhere in the building. But so were LaCroix and a few other fang and glowing eyed types. Very carefully, she inspected the lower floor and couldn't find what she was looking for. She wondered briefly if a map of the building would have helped, after all, she'd missed a lot of the third season and wasn't as sure of where things were as she could have been.

She sighed. Why couldn't this be Nick's loft instead. She located a set of stairs and proceeded to the next level up. Down was not an option. To many sleepers who might wake up. She found the broadcast setup,
placed the parcel, cat footprints and all, on the console where LaCroix would find it when he came in. She turned and tangled her ankles on something soft and furry. She tried to regain her balance and fell with a considerable thud.

"Mreow?"

"M - I'magoodcop! You idiot! What're you doing in here?" she hissed, trying to locate the cat in the half light and not disturb anyone while doing so. She tried very hard to ignore the amount of noise her fall had made and hoped no one had been disturbed. Just as she was about to lay hands on I'magoodcop, a hand fell on her own shoulder and pulled her inexorably to her feet. She turned gingerly toward the hand to see who had found her. The glare from the ancient vampire would have numbed her brain, had it not already been numbed by a couple of hours of lurker indoctrination. She managed a bright, if dimwitted looking smile and said "Hi!"

"Who are you?"

If her knees hadn't already been jellied, the question would have finished the job. It wasn't so much what he'd said, it was that he'd spoken at all. She restrained the "consider drooling" reflex his voice tended to set off.
"I - uh - " Oh, come on, one part of what was left of her brain was heckling. That's an easy one. The rest of it was busy running in concentric circles on a small hamster wheel trying to find a door toleave through.
"Well?" His eyes were beginning to take on a lovely golden color. Somewhere warning bells were going off - but d-mom was having a hard time concentrating on trying to put "elude" and "master vampire" into the same thought train.
"Dragon," she whispered.

The answer bemused the vampire. He loosened his hold on her shoulder and her knees finally firmed up to "jiggler" consistency so she didn't sit on the floor again.

"Mreow!" I'magoodcop said perkily. He got the attention of his human and the "very nice" human with her. He leaped to the console surface and landed without the usual undignified scrabble to retain his footing. He turned, golden eyes glowing in his solid black face and sat up on his hind legs to stretch as far out to the humans as he could without out falling off the console. "Mrreow," he said hopefully.

LaCroix looked askance at the invading feline. He could sense it's unutterable stupidity. He reached a hand out to remove the thing and got butted. I'magoodcop fell off the console in his excitement over someone paying attention to him. He landed correctly, that brain cell was working at the moment, and sat down to give his right front paw a really good wash.

"This is yours?"

"Uh - yes. I - uh - He got away from me and dashed in here and I followed him cause I didn't want him to get into trouble." The words almost ran together and her heartbeat was running at time and a half.

"Take him and get out."

"Thanks. I mean, I'm sorry to have disturbed you," she apologized,
grabbed the cat and headed for the door. I'magoodcop was nuzzling her chin as they made it out into the hallway.

"Just a moment -"

Of their own volition, her feet stopped moving and she turned to face the doorway, trying desperately to look innocent of any and all wrongdoing, and to remember if she turned off the stove before she left the house.

"Yes?" Did she have to sound so much like the perky blonde thing?

"What do you know about this?" The voice was practically purring. The sound was causing her eyes to glaze over, not because he was trying to hypnotize her, but because his voice just had that effect on her. He was holding the plain brown wrappered box. He'd partially opened the top and was gazing at whatever was inside.

"It looks like a box," she responded dimly.

He glared at her. That portion of the cortex which controls the "get out of here or you're dead" response finally caught on to the danger inherent in facing an ancient vampire with no ideas in one's head and a stupid black cat in your arms. Her feet began to very quietly move toward the stairway. The rest of her followed as LaCroix moved forward looking very scary.

"Oi, maddog."

"Oi, rastro. What?"

"It looks like she's in trouble."

"Is he gonna yell at her?" They both contemplated the effects of LaCroix yelling with a slightly glazed look.

"Maybe. But I think she's gonna fall downstairs first."

"Not good. C'mon." Maddog grabbed the tesserect off the coffee table and punched in rescue coordinates. She was a little nonplussed when the TV came on and the channels began changing rapidly.

"Give me that!" Rastro rapidly substituted the tesserect for the remote maddog had picked up. Coordinates correctly set, they folded space to the Raven, took d-mom by the arm and folded out with a cheery wave good bye to the advancing vampire.

They winked back in by the cattruck outside. dragon tossed the offending idiot cat into the truck and heaved a heartfelt sigh of relief while the circular motions of the brain disengaged. It was still trying to figure out how to put "elude" and "master vampire" into one sentence without hitting a moebius loop and locking up permanently.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome. You delivered it?"

"What do you think he was holding?"

"Was he holding something?" maddog asked absently. "Maybe we'd better leave."

"Maybe we'd better give her lurking lessons before the next assignment."

"That, too." Maddog looked up from re-setting the coordinates and grinned. Truck, women and cat winked out as LaCroix slammed the door to the Raven. It was, after all, still high noon. Not a good time for even a master vampire to try to deal with a trio of lurkers.

It was still daylight where the trio landed. But it wasn't exactly Lurker HQ as d-mom had expected. Or rastro and maddog, for that matter. They looked around, I'magoodcop sticking his head out the window and begging for attention, or possibly the last of the chee-tos, it was hard to tell. dragon caught sight of two entities coming toward them. Just as they stopped and got a good look at the truck, d-mom nudged maddog in the ribs to get her attention.

"I like him better with the shell on his head," she muttered as the other two got a good look at the red haired little boy and the metal and plastic thing with him. Off in the distance, the sunlight gleamed off a circular, metallic looking house. "I thought you said "Aaron Spelling",
not "Irwin Allen", " she mused as the robot's vacuum cleaner hose arms started gesticulating and the well know phrase began wafting their way.

"Danger, Will Robinson! Danger, Will Robinson!"

Maddog and rastro looked at each other in amazement. "Argh!" they uttered in unison and began working feverishly on the tesserect to correct the situation. The Love Boat had been bad enough. Lost in Space!? Vampires in Space? Evil grins split both their faces as they reset the correct, they hoped, coordinates for Lurker HQ. It wasn't 70's and it wasn't exactly polyester - or was it?