Kat felt a numbing despair as they drove further and further from the Burtonburger house. For the past five years he'd never go as far as to call the house his home or the Burtonburgers his family, but seeing the house get smaller and smaller in the distance gave him a sense of loss that he wasn't prepared for.

Well, at least he wouldn't feel it for long…

Some tiny part of him had considered running. Even in this new body he knew he was fast and carrying Megan wouldn't be too much of an issue. Cautiously, he glanced up at the disguised Irken and she waved at them jollily from her seat.

No… running would just get them in more trouble. If she really was an Irken, then running would just piss her off more. He'd never seen an Irken in person, but he knew enough about them to know how vindictive an angry one could be. The last time a Catonian invader had encountered an Irken they couldn't even find enough pieces to send back to their family. He didn't care what smiling facade she was showing them now. As soon as they made a wrong move, she'd be on them.

Perhaps facing your imminent death should feel more… exciting? But all he could feel was that numbing despair. Every little sound felt dampened and all he could do was clench his sister's hand as they waited for their final stop.

He wished he could have done more for her. She'd only come to this planet to help him and now…

Maybe… maybe he could make a deal with them? They'd made a deal with Coop to get him and his sister instead of just raiding the house. Maybe there was something they wanted from them? Or maybe there was something he could offer so they'd leave Megan alone. Bastet knows he'd willingly give up the whole of the Catonian Empire if it meant Megan would be safe…

He was shaken from his thoughts by the sudden jerk of the car stopping, and Membrane putting it into park. He turned around and gave them a smile.

"Alright, we're here."

Membrane hopped out of the car and immediately grabbed their things from the trunk. The Irken stood just outside, holding the car door open for them.

"Come one." She said, beckoning them out of the car. Kat nodded and held tightly to his sister's hand as they scooted out of the car.

The light of the sun shined brightly into the eyes as they hopped out of the car onto a very… normal looking yard.

Kat had never paid much attention to the architecture of the neighborhood the Burtonburgers lived in, but if not for the ten minute drive, he'd have thought they were in the same neighborhood. The houses around them looked almost exactly alike.

His confusion must have shown on his face.

"This part of town, and where the Burtonburgers live, were all built around the same time. This whole area was built back in the 50's, and by the same group of architects. That's why they all look alike" She said, leading them to the front door Membrane was unlocking.

The house was rather plain compared to the ones Kat had seen around the Burtonburger neighborhood, but it also looked uninhabited, so that would explain why. The duo had probably only purchased the home recently as a cover for why they were staying here.

"And, got it!" Membrane said triumphantly as he managed to unlock the door. "Sorry about that, these old locks can get stuck sometimes."

He opened the door into a nearly empty living room with hardwood floors. The room only had a couch and an old armchair. The open floor plan gave them a decent view into the kitchen ahead of them and the dining room further off to the right, but Kat could only glance into both before their captures gently ushered them to sit down on the couch.

"I'll get some drinks." The Irken said, making her way into the kitchen.

"Thanks, hon." Membrane said. He sat down in the armchair and sank into the cushions with a content sigh.

"Okay" he said, finally making eye contact with them both. "How about we start with an introduction and then we can help you both get settled in."

His smile and relaxed position did nothing to settle Kat's nerves. Nor did soft clink of glass as the Irken brought in a tray with four cups and a pitcher of ice water.

"We're not going to hurt you." She said, sitting on the edge of the couch, closest to Membrane.

I find that hard to believe. He thought, but all he did was nod. The frown on her face made it clear that it was unconvincing.

"Well…" Membrane started, glancing awkwardly at his assistant. "Like we told the boys, and as you've probably heard, I'm Dr. Dib Membrane. I'm a researcher who keeps track of any extraterrestrial activity happening in and around planet Earth."

There was a moment of silence as they waited for either of the cats to respond to this. When neither of them did, they continued.

"And I'm Dr. Mandisa Abebe. I've been working with Dr. Membrane for the past six years. We met two years after my ship got to Earth."

They were greeted with silence again.

"...Listen. I understand that this is a lot, and we want you both to feel as comfortable as possible. So, how about you two ask us some questions? I've heard that the Catonians are renowned for their curiosity."

"What do you want us for?" Kat finally said, growing tired. "If you're worried about us encroaching on your claim to this planet then we'll happily leave."

"What? No, there's no 'claim' on this planet we just-"

The Irken put a gentle hand on Membrane's shoulder, cutting him off.

"I make no claim to this planet or its inhabitants. I just live here and help keep the peace. Of course, if you want to leave then we'll help you do so, but no one's forcing you to go anywhere. We just need to know what's going on so we can help."

"Why haven't you turned this into an Irken settlement yet?" Megan said, and Kat nearly flinched. She had been so quiet that hearing her speak so suddenly, and to ask an almost impertinent question, was a bit of a shock.

He gave her hand a light squeeze.

Watch yourself. He thought vehemently.

The Irken shrugged.

"I'm not an invader, or at least, I haven't been one for a long time." She stood from her seat and stepped closer to them. They both flinched back from her, but all she did was kneel at their feet. She was just below eye level with them now, and if they were so bold, they could kick her straight away.

They could only stare dumbfounded at her as she tilted her chin slightly upwards, baring her neck to them.

"W-what are you doing?" Megan said, her hackles raised.

"I'm hoping to look non-threatening" She said, chuckling.

Through the fog of confusion Kat acknowledged just how easy it would be to take a swipe at her throat and make a run for it. The option was right there, and it would be so easy, but the surrealness of the situation left him feeling too wrongfooted to move.

"We have a pretty good idea of what's happened in the last month or so, but we want to hear it from you. Please cooperate with us."

"Why?" He said, and he wished his voice hadn't sounded so weak.

"Because we'd like for everyone to get out of this alive and well. You've been through a lot lately. Your ship was destroyed and whatever you two had been working on somehow changed your entire bodies. I understand how painful something like that can be."

Him and Megan made eye contact for just a moment before focusing all of their attention back on the woman at their feet. She sat calmly, gauging their reactions. As if she were talking to two kittens instead of invaders with claws.

"I'm sure your first priority right now is getting your bodies back, and we'd be more than willing to help you. Or maybe you just want to rebuild your ship and go home? We could do that too. Just know that we're here to help."

"If… if you're here to help then why kidnap us?"

"It wasn't kidnapping, it was a deal. I had assumed, since you both came willingly, that you agreed to it." She said, her brows creasing in confusion. "That being said, we couldn't just let you stay there without offering to help. Just think of this as temporary care."

"And if we don't want to be in your 'care'?"

"Well, if you don't want to stay here then we could bring you back to the Burtonburgers. But you'd still have to be monitored in case something happens to you or your host family."

"And my ship?" Megan asked.

"We can't let you walk out with half a ton of alien tech." Membrane said, drawing their attention back to him. "What's left of your ship would have to stay here. Besides, I doubt you'd be able to get much work done from your friend's treehouse."

Some part of Kat wanted to snap at him for calling Coop his "friend". Especially after he'd basically handed them over, but he wasn't going to argue with the man about it. Not when he had their lives in his hands.

"But," He continued. "You'd be more than welcomed to come to our lab and work on your ship. As long as the pieces stay here then we have no problems with you fixing it."

"So, that's it?" Kat said, looking from Membrane and the Irken, who'd yet to move from the floor. "You'd just let us leave right now?"

"Of course. This isn't an imprisonment. You'd just have to wear a small monitor so we can watch out for you, and make sure you're not getting into any trouble. It would monitor things like your location, general health, etc."

"So, it's more like house arrest?" Megan said. Kat was worried that would offend them, but they just laughed instead.

"No, no," Membrane said between chuckles. "You'd be able to leave your house. In fact, you can go basically anywhere you want. Just stay safe and don't break any laws."

"But before you go, there are a few benefits to living with us." The woman said.

"You wouldn't have to stay up in a treehouse, for one." Membrane interrupted, still chuckling. The Irken gave him a pouty glare for interrupting. "Sorry, hon."

"While staying with us you'd have full access to the lab with supervision. You'd be closer to what's left of your ship, which I'm sure will be a comfort to you, and while living with us we would act as your guardians for as long as you're in our care. That means we'll provide you with food, shelter, and protection. You'd also have free reign over all the house, other than our rooms."

Both of the cats' ears perked up at the sound of free food, and they tried hard to ignore their stomachs as they let out low rumbles.

"How about, before you make your decision, we give you a free meal? We still need to do some grocery shopping, but we could order a pizza."

"You'd also know we aren't poisoning you." Membrane added, light heartedly. Kat avoided his eyes for a moment, as that had been the first thought to come to his mind.

Kat and Megan made eye contact and together they nodded to the two adults.

"Fine. One meal and then we'll decide."

"Great." The Irken- Abebe beamed at them as she slowly stood up from the floor and went to call for pizza. Membrane smiled at them as well.

"So, what toppings do you two want?" He asked.