Camp Alien
Prologue and Chapter 1

There’s an old adage – be careful what you wish for. I’ve already learned that it’s true – wonder for one moment if your life could be more interesting and whomp, there it is, you’re killing a newly formed superbeing and discovering aliens are real, on the planet, and total hotties.

Of course, that was so Twelve Operations Ago. I’ve gotten used to the excitement that is now my daily life, sorta, and the fact that, when push comes to shove, my brand of outside the box thinking and ability to just go with the crazy will save the day. It never ceases to amaze me, but at the same time, I know not to complain about things working out the way I’ve hoped they would. Well, mostly the way I’ve hoped they would.

Of course, many times what I’ve hoped would happen has, but with catastrophic side effects no one had predicted. Okay, almost all the time. But sometimes, it’s kind of nice to see that little cosmic joke explode into someone else’s face.

The Mastermind has been unmasked on national and international television and our side stopped his latest bid to end the world. Go team.

Oh, sure, he killed a lot of people we cared about and many innocents along the way, but that’s just par for the old Course O’ Evil. All things considered, and if we ignore that we hate even losing one person on the Side Of Right, we’ve kept the body count pretty low. At least for our side. It’s not nearly high enough on the evil side, but we do persevere.

However, as our luck would seem to constantly have it, the Mastermind and seven of his cronies escaped. Always the way, am I right?

On the supposedly plus side, this has left my alien husband the new President of the United States and that makes me the First Lady. The fact that I keep on being shoved into these public facing positions where everyone knows I’m going to blow it and yet still acts totally surprised when I do is just the way the cosmos amuses itself, at least insofar as I can tell.

Of course, if you’re going to inherit a position after the former owner of said position and half of his staff were murdered by your most dedicated enemy, there’s no one better than Jeff to take control and keep the populace calm and functioning. And we can but hope that my role will be small and not televised. Again and again and again. You know, just to mix it up and be different from all the other times.

Oh, who am I kidding? We all know it’s going to be the Kitty Messes Up Again Show for the foreseeable future. But no worries, I have a plan.

What is that plan, you ask? I’m going to channel The Cars and let the “Good Times Roll” while at the same time accepting that when Aerosmith sings about someone being “Crazy”, they’re singing about their Number One Fan. Who is me. In case you, like so many others, haven’t been paying attention.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

Yeah, I’ll wait while everyone stops rolling around the floor laughing and catches their breath. Because Murphy and his Law are pretty much my co-pilots.

Chapter 1

“Excuse me, President Martini, but we have a situation. It seems the Planetary Council is requesting foodstuffs that, ah, we don’t actually have on hand.”

This whispered, worried statement was coming from the head of the White House’s household, the Chief Usher, Antoinette Reilly.

She was an attractive black woman a few years older than Jeff, wearing a constantly worried expression for the past week. I’d met her before this, when the now late President Armstrong was the man in charge, and she’d never seemed this ready to request immediate leave as she had been in the week and a half since his death.

And she wasn’t the only one. We were already clearly stressing the staff of the White House out beyond their obvious expectations, and we hadn’t even officially moved in yet.

“What could they possibly want that we don’t have?” Jeff asked just as quietly.

“It’s, ah, considered a delicacy. Apparently. Only we would need to import it from, ah, the Alpha Centauri system, and even if we could do so easily, Chef is flat out refusing to make it. And,” Antoinette looked over to me, “ah, I can’t blame him.”

Took the leap. “Oh my God, Alexander wants to have the horrid Alpha Four boiled tapeworms dish, doesn’t he?”

Antoinette nodded. “Madam First Lady, could you please help?”

“The formality of this new stage of my life is literally going to kill me. Can I order you and the rest of the staff to call me Kitty and have a hope of it sticking?”

Antoinette smiled. It was the first smile I’d seen her crack in a week, so go me. “Possibly in private. But right now, we need your help. Formally.”

Nodded, and turned to look down the long conference table. “Excuse me, Alex?”

Emperor Alexander, Ruler of the Entire Alpha Centauri System – at least as far as anyone on Earth other than those of us who actually understood the political system over there knew – nodded his head towards me in a regal manner. “Yes, Kitty?”

“Dude, you’re asking for food that makes humans literally want to barf their guts out. It’s a no go. And anyone else requesting personal country or planetary specialties, up to and definitely including haggis, need to run those requests through me. So that I can say no in the nicest possible way.”

“That wasn’t what we were going for,” Antoinette said quietly.

“No problem, Kitty. But they’re really delicious,” Alexander said, sounding far more like what he really was – Jeff’s and his cousin, Christopher White’s, younger relative who we’d put onto the throne of Alpha Four – than the Ruler of the Free Alpha Centauri Worlds.

“Dude, gag me. Seriously. Never speak of those things again in my or any other human’s presence and we’ll continue to love you.” Turned back to Antoinette. “Learn this now – I may have been forced to be the American Centaurion Ambassador, but don’t for one moment think that I enjoyed the job. I get far better results by living by the cat motto of asking for exactly what I want. And that includes being the FLOTUS. By the way, FLOTUS really makes me feel like I’m co-starring in a Finding Nemo spin off as the chipper strip of seaweed that helps the gang save the day.”

Antoinette was now clearly trying not to laugh. Or cry. Possibly both. Gave it even odds either way. “Duly noted, Madam First Lady.”

“The less said about what movie that title makes me think I’m starring in, the better.”

Best Little Whorehouse in Texas?” Tim Crawford, the Head of Airborne for Centaurion Division, aka the guy doing what remained my favorite job on my entire resume, asked with a quiet snicker.

“Got it in one.”

Antoinette heaved a sigh. Had to figure I was going to generate that in her for the foreseeable future. She was a nice, smart, competent, capable woman, and I felt bad about stressing her out. However, we were still in Major Crisis Mode, and therefore me not being me wasn’t in our best interests.

“So, now that we’ve had an entire week to collect ourselves, what do we do?” It was the day after the third day of State Funerals, otherwise known as the day we buried our friend and the late President of the United States, Vincent Armstrong, and this question was coming from, of all people, his widow, Elaine.

The Former First Lady wasn’t normally included in matters of state, but we were possibly the most unconventional politicians the world had ever known, the former unwilling Vice President and even more unwilling President also known as my husband, Jeff Martini, wanted her input, and the man who’d murdered her husband and so many others was still at large. As such, Elaine had joined Team Megalomaniac with gusto.

Frankly, the Current First Lady wasn’t normally included in this stuff, but – under the variety of circumstances that had, in just over six short years, moved me from a happy-go-lucky marketing manager into being a superbeing exterminator, the Head of Airborne, the Co- then Head Ambassador for American Centaurion, and now the wife of the President of the United States – my husband valued my input and so my input would be inputted. This was a fast path career track that college had definitely not prepared me for.

“Jeff needs to assign a variety of Cabinet posts and then some,” Charles Reynolds said. He was the Head of the C.I.A.’s Extra-Terrestrial Division. He was also my best guy friend since ninth grade. He’d been the focus of the Mastermind’s insanity, and since Clifford Goodman and his Goon Squad had escaped after Operation Epidemic, that meant we needed to keep Chuckie very safe while listening carefully and acting on his input.

“Starting with Vice President,” my mother said. She wasn’t saying this as my mother, of course, but as the Head of the Presidential Terrorism Control Unit. Yeah, my friends and family were definitely representing in the higher levels of government.

“Angela’s right as always and we need to assign Embassy staff as well,” Doreen Coleman-Weisman said. She’d been raised in the American Centaurion Diplomatic Corps and was now our Ambassador, since I couldn’t do the job any longer. “I realize you’re going to say that you want me to choose, but under the circumstances, I want your input, Jeff, as well as Kitty’s. And everyone else’s, too, Chuck’s and Angela’s in particular.”

“I think we’re avoiding a key issue,” Evander Horn said. He was a handsome black man in his late fifties and the Director of the F.B.I.’s Alien Affairs Division. “And not just because Doreen doesn’t want my input specifically.” He grinned at her and she laughed.

“What’s that, Vander?” Jeff asked.

Horn pointed to the end of the table where Alexander and the rest of the Planetary Council were sitting. “The people who accidentally triggered the Mastermind’s doomsday attempt. They came here for a reason and we’re not even sure what that reason is.”

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