Fact #1: The average 4-year-old asks 437 questions a day.
Fact #2: There are no average 4-year-olds; only exceptional ones.
“Madame President, I really think—”
“Grandma! When’s snack time? I want my French fries!”
Inter-Stellar Intelligence Agency Director Martin Feldmeijer bit back words entirely inappropriate for a four year old to hear and thanked heaven the little brat wasn’t a telepath. The fate of the world was at stake and the tiny tot wanted tater tots. He cleared his throat. “I —”
“Grand-papa! Où est le pot ? Je dois aller pipi!”
“Excuse me gentleman and ladies,” the leader of the United African States rose from his chair in the Madagascar Government Chambers, “I must take my grandson to the lavatory. Please continue without me.”
Continue what? Feldmeijer thought, a hysterical note injecting itself in the question. This emergency vid conference had been called to deal with the impending invasion of Earth by hostile forces disguised as a diplomatic envoy. By sheer bad luck it had coincided with the solar system wide “Take Your Child to Work Day.” From his satellite headquarters in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Feldmeijer was vcing with the assembled leaders of Earth, her satellite stations and Martian colonies, and their children and grandchildren.
The teen-agers he didn’t mind; they sat sullen and listless, listening to music on their cyber implants. It was the younger children who were driving him mad.
“I couldn’t finish a sentence!” he ranted at ISIA Junior Director Manisha Iyengar after the unsuccessful conference ended without resolution. “Those blasted brats kept asking questions! ‘Where’s the potty?’” he mimicked. “’What time is it? What time is it now? Can I have a cookie? What’s this button do? How come he gets a cookie? How come that man has a funny nose?’” Unconsciously he touched the offending article. Its aquiline shape had taken on a rather un-aristocratic shape after a run-in with a twelve-armed Mucasian hermaphroditic diplomat some years ago. “’Why is that man’s face turning red?’” the face in question flushing even as he spoke. “”What does #@! mean Grandma?’”
As Feldmeijer paused to take a breath, Iyengar inserted in her usual calm tones, “Curiosity is generally held to be a good thing. In the future—”
“We won’t have a future,” Feldmeijer snapped, unaware of the irony of his interruption, “unless Earth Gov takes action. The Veranians will wipe us out!”
Intelligence sources reported that the heretofore unknown Veranains were planning a massive invasion of the Earth and her territories. A fleet of their ships was already approaching Earth. Their ‘diplomats’ and ‘observers’ had extended an invention for an Earth delegation to be teleported aboard their ships for a face to face meeting.
“A trap, that’s what it is. A trap.” Feldmeijer paced the room. “And Earth Gov is too taken-up with the kiddies to do anything about it. As soon as the delegation pops onto the Veranian ship, they’ll be hostages! But could I convince them of that? NO!”
While the leaders had eventually sent their children from the room, the discussion had quickly deteriorated into an “I don’t like to brag, but my grandchild was solving Einsteinian equations in the womb” and the like, session. Feldmeijer shook his head at the painful memory. To see the leaders of the world reduced to gushing, rambling idiots as they tried to prove how above average their progeny were. It was pitiful. He wouldn’t be caught dead acting in such a sorry manner.
“A First Strike?” suggested Iyengar, drawing his attention back to the real problem.
“If only,” Feldmeijer snarled. “But you know Justice is just looking for an excuse to nail someone for violating the new Constitutional amendment.” He sing-songed the words. “’Neither Earth nor her territories will open hostilities toward an alien government.’ So a pacifistic race was wiped out. They could have been plotting something. No, we have to come up with something that will send the Veranians flying back into their black hole without it looking like an attack.”
“Like what?” Iyengar asked.
Feldmeijer slammed his hand down on the desk, breaking both for the tenth time that year. “Will you stop asking questions and let me think! You’re as bad as those blasted four-year-olds,” he muttered.
Iyengar shut her mouth, her lips forming a thin line that boded ill for her superior.
But Feldmeijer was not paying attention. A plan had sprung full-formed in his mind. “That’s it!” he shouted, planting a kiss on those thin lips. “Iyengar I could marry you!” he yelled, forgetting in his excitement that a kiss was as good as a promise to one of Iyengar’s background.
The thought, however, never crossed his mind. He was too busy instructing the computers to connect him with the world’s leaders. “Madame President?” he said smoothly. “I couldn’t help but notice that that wonderful little grandson of yours just loves to talk. Well, I was thinking – wouldn’t he make a wonderful representative to the Veranians? And perhaps he could take some of those charming little pre-pubescents I met earlier today with him.”
And so it was that the Veranian fleet returned through their black hole, pulling it in behind them, after receiving – and more importantly to them, returning – the Earth delegation.
As the beaming grandparents and parents of the world’s four-year-olds cuddled their little delegates, Feldmeijer looked on with a sour expression.
“You should be pleased,” Iyengar said, entwining her and her new fiancé’s fingers together. “The Veranians will never bother us again and all you had to do to achieve it was send a group of children as delegates. Five minutes of constant questions and they were ready to leave us alone. It was a most excellent plan.”
“But they sent them back,” Feldmeijer said. “They sent them all those little brats with their incessant questioning back.” He shuddered. “I never want to see a four-year-old again.”
Iyengar rubbed against him. “Don’t worry. I’m sure our own will be different.”
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