“It’s time for us to go,” the sergeant said, “it’s getting late.”

Auntie Krona nodded her shock of white hair. “I agree,” she said, “take her home.” She was the sterner of the maiden aunts.

The girl pouted and looked set to sulk.

“Come, come,” said Auntie Krolle, “that’s not the way a young lady should make an exit.” She took the girl by her hand and led her across the road from the big house into the park. The girl did not resist.

“It is nearly sunset,” Auntie Krona observed.

“We will get home in time,” replied the sergeant. An ethership was landed in the park, a square-shaped carriage resting on its sleds. The sergeant’s daughter scrambled up the steps at the front. Her father followed. “Goodbye,” he said, “see you next time,” before he secured the door.

In seconds the ethership hummed and rose smoothely into the air under its own power, the sergeant at the controls. The aunts waved as the ship skimmed over the tops of the trees.

“Can we use the instant jump,” the girl asked her father eagerly.

“No,” he replied, “I don’t want to waste the battery.”

The girl threw herself back into her chair with a huff. The next moment she was on her knees, looking out the porthole, anticipating the first view of the city as the hills rolled past.