Mrrpt was happily with her mother at the Mercurian Embassy which was a small office down a side street off Holland Park. For security reasons they had been advised not to live in the same building, in case the embassy should be the target of protesters. I went through the formal introduction which was made much easier by our mutual contact being able to introduce us, and before long I was telling the ambassador, an older version of my girlfriend, how beautiful she was and we were friends. When we were decently able to leave, Mrrpt and I strolled cheerfully along the busy streets, not unaware that some were staring but not caring.
Myron was bowled over by Mrrpt. He couldn't keep his eyes off her. She was wearing old gold today, a dress to her knees, wedge sandals which raised her height a few inches although they don't do that on Mercury. A gold silken cord was bound through her dark hair and her silver eyes flashed in the westerly sunlight. I grinned as I showed Myron how to hold his hands and bow, and I introduced them in English as a courtesy to him. He tried out his few words of Mercurian and she was delighted.
"Got to hand it to you Irish, you got good taste," he said.
We strolled one each side of the lady to prevent her from being jostled as we approached the former Olympic stadium; they change the name from time to time. She told us about life on Mercury and asked about London, and we were metal–detectored and drug–sniffed and found our seats. The concert was hugely enjoyable, not least because of the variety of off–Earth entertainers, musical and comedy both.
"This is a very good undertaking," decided Mrrpt. "A way of making friends, of showing that we have much to offer that is good to help each other. Singing and laughing, what else?"
"Food," I said after a moment, remembering how Myron had brought me home, a waif, and fed me Caribbean food when I didn't even know what it was. "Show people what you eat, give them some to taste, see if they like it. Your own food and drink is part of who you are. It's a good introduction."
"You for me both," agreed Myron. He had shaved off his beard which came and went, according to whim, and he wore a blue shirt with dark jeans and black shoes. "Would you like to eat a Caribbean meal at some time, Mrrpt?" We told her what was involved and she was very interested. Then I told her a few Irish dishes, though I didn't have them very often. We ate baked Limerick ham for Christmas and there was Irish oak smoked salmon, Dublin Bay prawns, Galway lamb, boxty, which is a pancake made with potatoes as well as flour and filled with anything you like; cheeses, Baileys, Guinness, whiskey.
With her fast metabolism Mrrpt needed to eat small meals at regular intervals and Myron and I had tacitly agreed to abandon our usual coffee shop haunts. The night had closed in now but in London it is never dark. Mrrpt's eyes had adjusted just as they do for the dark side of her home world as the terminator jogs towards town–ships which are ever moving away from it; her pupils were large and beautiful pools. The nearest hostelries were already full, cooking smells emanating along with alcohol ones; the autumn night was mild.
I started to get a creeping feeling. The feeling was familiar â€“ the class bullies were staring at the back of my neck, planning to set on me.
"Myron," I said, and my tone was enough to alert him.
"Where?" he asked.
"Behind us, I think."
"You stick tight to the lady," he said.
That was all we had time for.
Running feet, running in scuffs and hard boots on concrete and tarmac, running up behind us.
The two of us spun and I placed myself in front of Mrrpt as Myron took a forward step. There were several of them, white with shaven heads, large, tattooed, aggression pouring out of their bodies with every breath, yelling "Get them!" Myron took out the first with a kick to the solar plexus and I ducked under the arm of the next and swept his leg from under him, elbowing his kidneys as he fell. Someone was screaming but there was too much happening. Someone was yelling insults about aliens.
Myron was trading blows with a guy who wasn't managing to hit him much but was getting solidly punched, and I shot my hand palm upward at the face of the next man, feeling the crunch of his nose as it gave before the heel of my hand. He recoiled but wasn't disabled. The concerted defence however was giving other men reason to think twice and I had time to snatch a glance at Mrrpt. As I looked she jumped in an incredibly fast move and kicked the kneecap of a man coming from the side of us. I heard a crack. He cried out and went down on that leg.
"It's the pigs," someone yelled, and the men who were able to run started to depart as police in riot helmets and waving batons poured into the street from a side lane. Cameras have their uses. The men running back the way they'd come didn't realise it, but they were running head first into the army. Unknown to anyone on the street, some bright spark staffing a camera system had been glued to Mrrpt all the way. Any other off–Earther had been unobtrusively followed in this way too, and incipient trouble quelled as fast as troops and police could be sent.
At the time we just knew that the attackers were either on the ground or running, and Mrrpt pirouetted to check behind us.
"I think we got them," she said.