Josh stuck his head in the office door. "They're here."
Sam's head whipped up. "They are?" He looked pleadingly at Toby. "I gotta -- it'll just be a minute--" and he was gone.
Toby stared down at the yellow legal pad on his desk. It contained three paragraphs, of which all but two sentences were scratched out. He scowled and picked up his pen. "Whereas we recognize that the vitality of --"
"Crap." It was crap. It was worse than crap, it was sixteen tons of fecal coliform and it was not going to be done in time. "Bonnie!"
"What?!" She looked pissed off; Toby didn't care. There was a steady stream of assistants and deputy-deputies flowing down the hall towards the Roosevelt Room.
"Where's that ITU report you were going to get?"
Bonnie glared at him and stomped back out of the room. Toby stared at his coffee mug, which insisted on being empty. He stared at the page, which suffered from the same condition.
When ten minutes had passed -- the ITU report was singularly unhelpful -- Toby got up and went down the hall.
A dozen people clustered around the glass doors of the Roosevelt Room, peering and whispering. Toby cleared his throat, and enough of them moved that he could reach the door and open it.
"Sam! Ten minutes!"
Two of the four people in the room jerked around in surprise.
"Oh, come on, Toby!" protested Sam. "Don't you think--"
"What I think," said Toby, coming into the room, "is that I have six hours in which to finish the President's keynote address to the Union of Carribean Nations and you're in here --"
"-- meeting with the first extra-terrestrials ever to visit this planet!" Finished Sam for him.
Toby blinked. The two other people, who sat facing the door in chairs pulled well clear of the table, didn't move, but watched him closely as he carefully pulled the door closed behind him.
"You forgot." That was Josh, beginning to grin.
The -- man? -- stood up. And up. And some more up. He *loomed*. He had hair, and tentacles, and tattoos, and really really large boots. He rumbled something in a voice that could shake free landslides.
"He says hello," said the other person, a dark-haired woman with a profile to carve diamonds. "This is Ka D'Argo, and I am Aeryn Sun." She raised an inquisitive and unsmiling brow.
Sam stepped forward, quivering with enthusiasm like a dog at the dinner table. "This is Toby Zeigler, White House director of communications. And my boss."
Toby looked around the room. "What happened to the astronaut? Wasn't there an astronaut?"
The big guy said something again, and the woman, thin as Donna and as evil-eyed as Margaret, shook her head and replied in what had to be a different language, all sibilance and glottal stops. Finally she shook her head and glared at her companion, who started speaking in ponderous, but clear English.
"Crichton is not here. He had an--" he paused, pondered, "a thing he needed to do. As for the rest of our party, Chiana and Noranti are ... inappropriate for this meeting. And Rygel is--"
"-- a thief --" said Aeryn Sun, quite clearly, in English.
"-- smelly," he finished.
Toby sighed, looked around, and pulled over a chair. "Right. Well. This is. This is good. It's good you came."
"I can't believe you forgot, Toby." Josh rolled his eyes. "This is only the most important meeting the President will have in our lifetime!"
"I was busy."
Josh laughed. "Yeah, because the sudden rash in zombie activity in the West Indies is so much more important?"
Sam snickered. "C'mon, Toby. Aliens!"
"Zombees?" The woman, Sun, leaned forward. Ka Whoever cocked his head.
He really was *extremely* large.
"Ah," said Sam. "Zombies, well, um. They're, um --"
The conversation went downhill from there.