"Let me get this straight," Frank said slowly as he leaned onto the conference table. "The visitors in your office are two humans from an alien planet who have a health crisis?"
Stephen gave a terse nod rather than repeat himself.
"Okay, when do we leave?"
Now Stephen looked contrite. "Frank, you've got a family."
"And they're visiting the rest of the family down in New Orleans. I'm free."
Natalie looked up from the notebook with what little case history they had. "You can't treat this many all by yourself, Stephen."
"You can't leave me behind; I've never been to an alien planet before," Miles added.
"No plans here," Eva said. "Looks like you're stuck with all of us, Boss."
Stephen smirked before going serious. "I want everyone on antivirals as a precaution. Miles, get doses together for the pair in my office. Now I have to tell my son about the change in plans."
"He's still in my office." They left the conference room together.
"Frank, if you've got second thoughts about this?"
"I've always trusted your BS meter. If it's convinced they're level, they're level."
Jack looked up when they entered Frank's office, shoulders slumped. "You have to go to work, don'tcha?"
Stephen knelt down in front of him. "Yeah, but I got special permission to bring you with me."
"I get to come with you?" Jack beamed. "Cool! Do we get to ride in the helicopter?"
"No, but we're going to another planet."
Jack blinked. "Dad, it's cool that you're letting me come. You don't have to throw in Mars too."
Frank ducked into the lab, so neither Connor would hear his laughter. Natalie looked up from the gear she was packing. "Jack's coming with us," he explained between chuckles.
She smiled. "Good, they need to spend more time together. Maybe seeing Stephen working will help Jack understand his father."
"Kids don't want to understand their parents. Not until they hit thirty when all the pieces fall into place." He pulled out the first sampling kit to check that it was fully stocked. They were restocked at the end of every case, but at the beginning of every case he checked again. No point in being in the field without proper gear.
"Your girls are too young for you to be so cynical," Natalie chided with a smile as she turned to her desk.
"You call cynical, I call being prepared for their teenage years."
She pulled her light brown hair into a ponytail and then shook her head. "So there are eight of us on this trip. I hope their spaceship is big enough."
Frank frowned to himself. "Nobody said anything about a spaceship." He shrugged, trusting Stephen to have handled transportation.
He and Natalie both should have known Connor was juggling too much.
"Nobody said anything about a tornado!" Frank yelled in the twilight hours. The quiet park they were in was barely visible behind the swirling mass of wind and debris.
"Too late to back out now." The young man named Cain had changed his suit in the hours since he and the young woman left N.I.H. for vintage casual clothes. He also blocked any escape routes. "The Princess insisted."
Eva whipped her head around. "Princess?"
She didn't get an answer before a force snapped them off the ground.