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Late in June 1947 a US Marine C-46 transport plane crashed on the western side of Mount Rainier, the highest peak in the Cascade Range, and when word got around, a private pilot named Ken Arnold volunteered to aid with the search.

While Arnold circled the mountain on June 24 he spotted a cluster of nine brightly glowing meteors rushing past his plane at supersonic speed toward remote Mt. Adams in the south. Because they were pieces of a fireball in the process of breaking up, they seemed to be flying in formation, so Arnold assumed they were aircraft, and corresponding- ly, he interpreted their intermittent bursts of brightness to be sun- light glinting off polished aluminum.

The pieces were of irregular shape and they were tumbling end over end, which made them hop up and down in the air stream. After his flight Arnold told a reporter that they flew like "a saucer skipping over water."

This sighting sparked a national obsession with "flying saucers" that bordered on mass hysteria because people insisted on identifying them as spacecraft operated by aliens. Perhaps it was just more fun that way. By July there were many more saucer sightings. Some were honest mistakes much like the one Arnold had made, but most were outright copycat hoaxes.

The reporter somehow garbled Arnold's description. The pilot merely tried to convey that the objects moved like saucers, not that they looked like saucers. But it was too late, the erroneous quote was al- ready in print, so everyone kept "seeing" saucers.

In Franklin, Gabriel tried adapting Ithuriel's "Silver Gift" technolo- gy to an airframe. Gabriel's idea was to obtain powered flight by con- stantly sucking in air from an intake manifold on the roof of the ve- hicle, making the air simply "go away" and thus creating a bubble of low pressure over the vehicle. Theoretically this would create lift, much with like a helicopter, but with an ability to stay aloft indefi- nitely, since the Silver Gift could power itself as long as it had something to eat, like air. But Gabriel was stumped on a final body design.

Robyn mentioned to Gabriel the big national flying saucer craze that was going on at that point in time. She said, "If you make it in the shape of a flying saucer, then even if people see us and report it, they won't be believed. If they photograph us in flight, they will be accused of taking a snapshot of a hub cap."

Gabriel thought that was a truly brilliant idea and che, with Hunky's help, built a flying saucer powered by a larger version of the Silver Gift. He spent a week teaching Becky, Hunky, and Dory how to use it, but Robyn was too busy with her toddler Ariel to learn to fly. Gabriel brought out his puppy-dog face, indicating to his wife that he wanted to take Becky out on the saucer, and Robyn had to make a decision.

For a year and more Robyn has been using her power of prediction to keep anyone in the Band from being picked up by DECON. Some mornings she'd say, "Don't go to that house today or Clyde'll getcha."

She also knew Gabriel was itching for a tour of the national parks in the American southwest, a decent inspection of the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the wind-carved sandstone marvels of Utah that would re- quire at least ten days, just him and Becky alone in a saucer.

She also knew that Rebekah was a late bloomer, but her talent as a B'nei Elohim had already emerged: she had the ability to change her shape and appearance at will. As a side benefit, this made her sex- ually irresistable to nearly anyone. No doubt sha had already made overtures to Gabriel. Robyn knew they had hanky-panky on their mind, but that, as bad as it seemed to her, wasn't the worst thing that could happen.

If Robyn did not let Gabriel go, there remained no future where the Band avoided being captured by Tolson. Their own success more or less guaranteed that. Certain doors of interest to Michael and Binah would be shut.

But if Robyn did let hem go, certain windows of opportunity anticipat- ed by Michael and Binah remained wide open. She knew Gabriel and Rebe- kah would both come back, in a manner of speaking, but not anything like the way they originally were. Robyn knew what she had to do, or rather what not do, but with every fiber of her being she hated the "talent" she had been given. Robyn felt like Jesus in the Gad Smane story when he begged God to let the cup pass from him.

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Strangers In Paradise