The Cadet

By Elton Camp “Have a great summer. See you next fall,” Jonathan told his roommate at Breyton Military Academy as he snapped shut his suitcase and headed from his dormitory room. A unior, it!d "e his last summer at home "efore completing the rigorous science program at the private institution. #our years at an $vy %eague university &ould follo&. Being "orn into extreme &ealth undenia"ly had its advantages.

Breyton Military Academy 'nce he got past the narro&, &inding mountain roads that led from Breyton!s campus to the $nterstate, he accelerated his &hite BM( converti"le to ust over the speed limit, set the cruise control, turned the radio loud enough to hear over the roar of the &ind, and relaxed for the long drive home. )here &as little reason to hurry. Jonathan!s parents &ere still “traveling a"road.” )he extensive trips increased in fre*uency and length after they!d enrolled him at the "oarding school. “(e &ant you to have an excellent start in life,” his father had assured him. “'nly the "est people go to Breyton and it!ll assure you admission any&here you &ant to get your degree.” He &asn!t consulted as to his preference and still regretted the loss of his school friends and didn!t prefer the all+male environment. Hours later, he arrived at the entrance to the family estate. A "ric, &all shielded it from un&elcome visitors. A clic, of the remote control on the visor caused the ornate metal gates to s&ing in&ard and then close a minute later, giving him ust enough time to enter "efore they clanged shut. )he dull+red "ric,+paved drive&ay &ound through the forest that hid the main house. After nearly a mile, occasional glimpses of the mansion appeared "efore Jonathan emerged into the landscaped grounds that surrounded the house for several hundred yards on all sides. As al&ays, shru""ery &as neatly trimmed, the la&n at carpet height and "looming plants added color at strategic locations. )he late afternoon sun reflected off the private la,e at the "ac,. 'ver one thousand acres ensured privacy, although Jonathan &ould have chosen the &ord “isolation.” )he immense t&o+story house &as in the style of a #rench chateau &ith gray, stone &alls, many &indo&s, and a steep slate roof. -lassical style statues stood at rigid attention in the formal gardens at each side. Although impressive, it seemed more

institutional than homeli,e. Jonathan had lived there his &hole life except for the three years he!d "een a cadet.

Chateau and Lake He considered pulling "ehind the house to the "asement garages, "ut ,ne& it &ouldn!t "e fair to the staff. )hey!d have everything in readiness for his arrival as they al&ays did. )o slip up the "ac, stairs to his room &ouldn!t "e treating them right. He pulled in front of the main entrance, left the ,eys in the ignition, and mounted the steps. Barclay, the chauffer, emerged discretely from the service entrance and drove his vehicle to&ard the "ac, even "efore he reached the front door. His suitcase &ould appear in his "edroom. )he large estate operated predicta"ly, li,e a &ell+oiled machine. His father insisted on organi.ation and it continued even during his extended a"sences. /o"erts, the "utler, or household manager as he preferred to "e called, opened the heavy front door "efore he ,noc,ed. )he servants! appearance of standing ready for his arrival &asn!t entirely &hat it seemed. A "ell in their *uarters rang anytime the drive&ay gate opened. )he device and a security camera gave them a"out ten minutes notice of his coming. /o"erts &as a tall, gray+haired man &ho appeared to "e in his early sixties. He had "een trained in the formal tradition of an 0nglish "utler. 0mployed in the household for many years, he had seen Jonathan gro& from an infant into a seventeen+year+old. 1uite often he, in the a"sence of the child!s parents, had “forgotten himself” and played &ith him or provided comfort &hen he &as upset. He felt pity for the "oy and &as genuinely fond of him. “(elcome home, Master Jonathan,” he "eamed. “0verything is in readiness. -oo, has fixed your favorite meal and the upstairs maid has freshened your room.” “/o"erts, it!s terrific to see you,” Jonathan replied. He extended his hand, "ut the man turned so that he could appear not to have noticed. Such li"erties &eren!t to "e lightly ta,en "y a servant no& that the young master &as nearly gro&n. Appearances &ere important. He ,ne& his place. “2our mother called earlier and as,ed that $ relay her love and to tell you that they expect to return "y the end of July. She hopes you &ill have an en oya"le time at home.” “$ &onder &hy she didn!t call me,” Jonathan muttered under his "reath. He reached into his poc,et, &ithdre& his cell phone, and flipped it open. (ind noise in an

open converti"le could mas, a ring. As he expected, it sho&ed no missed call. 3isappointed, "ut not surprised, he snapped it shut and returned it to his side poc,et. /o"erts pretended not to have heard the remar,. His standing procedure &as “See nothing, hear nothing.” 3iscretion &as to "e expected of anyone in service. He had already crossed a line of propriety in reporting a call that hadn!t come. He silently reproached himself and vo&ed to have more self+control in the future. 'ver the next t&o &ee,s, Jonathan settled into a comforta"le routine, getting up midmorning for a hearty "rea,fast, &or,ing out in the "asement gym, &atching 343s, chatting or sending text messages to his friends from Breyton, en oying a main meal a"out midafternoon, and ogging on a trail "y the la,e "efore dar,. A couple of times he called girls he!d ,no&n in the local school, "ut got the response that all "oys recogni.ed as re ection, “$!d love to go out &ith you, "ut $ have to &ash my hair.” He lamented to /o"erts, “$ can!t understand it. $!m not really that "ad loo,ing. 2ou!d thin, some girl &ould at least "e interested in me for my money.” Jonathan &as correct in his self+analysis. He &as ust under six feet tall, normal &eight, and muscular. His "lac, hair &as of medium length and slightly curly. His "lue eyes &ere &ell suited to his fair complexion. His demeanor and style of dress &ere such as might appeal to most girls. “1uite so, Master Jonathan,” /o"erts uncomforta"ly replied. “5erhaps they are merely intimidated "y you.” He dared not reveal his employer!s pu"lic orders to cause discharge of the parents of any girl &ho dared date his son. All ,ne& it &asn!t an empty threat. A man &ith enough money could do almost anything. “My "oy!s not marrying some cheap gold digger,” he had declared. )&o days later, his tran*uil summer came to an a"rupt end. He!d started his og "y the la,e later than usual and &as hurrying to get home "efore dar, &hen he sa& an incredi"le sight. Moving slo&ly on a shallo& glide &as an airplane of a type he!d never seen. $t &as light gray, had t&o &ings that came to sharp points, t&o large tinted &indo&s to&ard the front, and paired landing struts. $ts approach &as entirely silent as it splashed heavily into the la,e near the shore &ith a crunching sound. )he &ave it created sloshed onto the close "an, and spread in all directions. )he plane san, a fe& feet into the shallo& &ater and "lac, smo,e poured out the "ro,en front &indo&s.

Jonathan Saw a Strange Craft “(o&, $!ve never seen anything li,e that,” Jonathan exclaimed in dis"elief. As he &atched from the trail, a door on the right side s&ung up&ard and a figure clad in silvery material cra&led out, fell into the &ater and lay still. He rushed the fe& feet to the edge of the la,e, &aded over to the pilot and pulled him to the shore. (hen he tugged off the &hite helmet, he sa& that he had rescued a young man &ho appeared a"out his age. )he pilot &as "reathing, "ut his eyes &ere closed. A gash on his chin "led freely. Jonathan grappled in his poc,et for his cell phone. “Hold on, $!ll call 677 and get you some help,” he assured the crash victim. “$ don!t thin, you!re hurt too "ad.” Just as he &as a"out to press S083, Jonathan felt a strong hand on his arm. “)he communicator, no,” the pilot urged. “$ &ill "e all right in a short time. )han, you for assisting me.” “2ou may "e hurt &orse than you thin,. %et me call for the paramedics,” he replied. “And the #AA al&ays investigates plane crashes. (e need "ig time help &ith this.” “)hat is the pro"lem,” the pilot said in a voice that revealed that he &asn!t from the area. “)his plane is a secret government pro ect and must remain so.” )he pilot sat up and glanced to&ard his stric,en vessel. Jonathan &as surprised to see that the cut had stopped "leeding and seemed less severe than he!d initially thought. “$ must get something,” he said &ith an urgent voice as he rose to his feet and &aded to&ard the plane. 3espite the dense smo,e, he clim"ed inside and returned &ith a s*uare electronic device &ith ro&s of "uttons across the top. “3o not "e concerned. (e are in no danger,” he said as he pressed a red "utton near the center. Jonathan &as astonished to see the plane "egin to *uiver. (ithin seconds, it seemed to disintegrate and dropped out of sight into the &ater. “(hy!d you do that9” he demanded. “)hat thing must have cost the government millions of dollars.” “$t &as necessary. )he shielding against radar &as nonfunctional during my descent. $t is li,ely that the plane &as detected so if there is an investigation, they must

find nothing. Secrecy is the most important consideration, even more than preserving my life. $ &ill call my "ase for help, "ut it &ill "e &ee,s in arriving.” )he pilot pressed a series of "uttons and the device "egan to emit a high+pitched &hine. Satisfied, he tossed it far into the la,e &here it immediately san,. “$t &ill resist the effects of moisture for a time and then self+destruct,” he said in reaction to Jonathan!s loo, of shoc,. “)he signal it is sending &ill "ring help.” )&ilight &as rapidly fading into dar,ness. “(e!d "etter get to the house "efore it gets any harder to see,” Jonathan invited. “(e need to get out of these &et clothes and cleaned up.” “$ am most grateful for your assistance,” the pilot replied. As Jonathan offered to support him, he added, “$ am recovered and can move efficiently on my o&n.” As the t&o hurried along the trail, guided "y lights in the &indo&s of the mansion, Jonathan found it hard to "elieve that his unexpected guest had ust "een involved in a plane crash. He strode along at a steady pace as he follo&ed Jonathan into the "asement entrance. “My room!s on the second floor. -an you clim" steps or do &e need to call the elevator9” Jonathan as,ed. $n the "right light of the house, he &as astonished to see that the youth!s facial in ury had disappeared except for a thin, red line. “$ am *uite &ell and &ill ascend "y any route you select,” he replied. “But ho& did that cut get &ell so soon9 $t loo,ed "ad do&n "y the la,e,” Jonathan as,ed. “)he light &as dim in that location. 5erhaps you did not see &hat you thought,” his guest replied, "ut offered no further explanation. “Hey, my name!s Jonathan. (hat!s yours9” “My designation is a "it a&,&ard, so simply call me /olf.” “Sounds :erman. $s that &hy you have an accent9” “My speech is not satisfactory9 $ have "een most thoroughly schooled in the four main languages,” /olf replied. “:uess that!s it then,” Jonathan said. “Studying that many could ma,e any"ody sounds a "it strange. $!ve "een studying Spanish at the academy and ,no& ho& that is.” $n reply to /olf!s three rapid sentences in Spanish, Jonathan merely grinned. “$ said $ &as studying it. $ don!t ,no& a &ord you said. $ can count to ten, recite colors, and as, ho& you!re doing.”

)he "oys reached Jonathan!s room. He rummaged through his chest+of+dra&ers until he located 3oc,ers, a pullover, and other necessary articles. “)hese ought to fit you o,ay. (e!re a"out the same si.e $ guess. )he "athroom!s in there. 2ou!ll find soap and to&els in the closet.” As /olf too, the clothing, Jonathan got a *uic, glimpse of his hand. Something &asn!t *uite right, "ut he turned to&ard the "athroom "efore Jonathan could get a clear vie&. “$t almost loo,ed li,e he had six fingers,” Jonathan thought, "ut $ must "e more shoo, up than $ reali.ed to thin, that. (hile his guest &as sho&ering, Jonathan selected fresh clothes for himself and &ent into the "edroom next to his room to get cleaned up. (hen he came "ac, into his room, /olf &as dressed and sitting on a des, chair a"out to pull on soc,s. “#eel "etter9” Jonathan as,ed. “$ ,no& $ do. )hat &ater &as muddy from the plane hitting it.” “2es, $ prefer to "e clean. $t is pleasant and more healthy.” $n the "right light of his "edroom, Jonathan sa& &ith certainty that /olf had five fingers in addition to his thum". 0ven more surprising &ere his feet. As each disappeared into a soc,, he sa& six toes. He thought it "est not to em"arrass /olf "y as,ing a"out a physical defect over &hich he had no control. “Must "e a genetic thing,” Jonathan thought as he recalled a "iology lecture a"out dominant genes and extra digits. )he teacher had explained that the situation &as ordinarily corrected "y surgery except in )hird (orld countries. /olf clearly didn!t come from a "ac,ground of poverty. He sa& no ready explanation. “My things ust "arely fit,” Jonathan ventured to ,eep himself from "eing tempted to as, personal *uestions. $n fact, /olf &as noticea"ly more muscular then he, despite the t&o "eing a"out the same height. “(here $ live, it ta,es more po&erful muscles to get around,” he responded, "ut seemed to catch himself and added *uic,ly, “)here are many mountains instead of level terrain li,e here.” “So, &hat made you crash9” “$ really do not ,no&. $ &as gliding through the lo&er atmosphere &hen most of the instruments a"ruptly failed and the craft started to descend. $ sa& the "ody of &ater and used it to cushion my landing.” )he t&o continued to chat amia"ly for a couple of hours, "ut Jonathan found it difficult to esta"lish common ground since /olf &asn!t a"le to name a favorite sports team or identify the type of music he li,ed.

“$!d "e glad if you!ll stay here until your help comes. )here couldn!t "e a "etter place to hide,” Jonathan said. “$t!d "e fun to have some"ody to hang out &ith. :ets lonesome here in the summers &ith my parents a&ay.” “$ have not seen my parents for more than one of the solar rotations,” /olf replied. “)his is my period of training.” Jonathan identified /olf to the staff as a fello& student from the academy &ho!d "e spending a fe& days. /o"erts stared directly at the ne&comer, "ut said only, “4ery good, Master Jonathan.” /olf fit in &ith his host!s daily schedule. After a fe& days, Jonathan "ecame accustomed to his speech and other eccentricities. He &as pu..led that his guest al&ays left any meat on his plate untouched. 'ne cloudless night, /olf &al,ed out on the "alcony at the "ac, of the house and stared into the night s,y. Jonathan oined him and as,ed, “%oo,ing for shooting stars9” “8o, ust at the heavens and thin,ing a"out vast distances,” he replied &ith a sadness to his voice. )he next day, they drove into to&n. “(e!ll stop at the video store. $!ll rent a fe& movies,” Jonathan said. “(hat type do you li,e "est9” “$ do not have a preference. Anything you select &ill "e fine.” “:ive me a clue. 2ou!re the guest. (hat &as the last movie you sa&9” /olf t&isted uneasily and attempted to change the su" ect "y dra&ing attention to t&o girls shopping on the next aisle. )he tric, didn!t &or,. “/olf, for an intelligent guy, you sure don!t ,no& much a"out normal things. 3on!t you have time for sports, music, or movies9 (hat do you do for fun9” Jonathan!s suspicions &ere gro&ing. “Something!s &rong here. $!m "eginning to dou"t that he!s ever seen a movie or "een to a concert,” he thought, "ut decided to "ide his time and say nothing. /olf didn!t seem li,e a nerd so Jonathan held on to the thought that he too, his studies and training very seriously. May"e he came from a military family. He!d seen parents similar to that on visiting day at Breyton Academy. $t &as a #riday night t&o &ee,s later "efore Jonathan got the ans&ers to his unspo,en *uestions. )he t&o &ere in his room &atching a movie on his plasma television &hen flashes of "right light s&ept over the &indo&s. Accompanying them &as a humming sound from the direction of the la,e. “)hey have come for me;” /olf shouted as he "ounded from his chair and rushed onto the "alcony. Brilliant searchlights extended in various directions.

“(hat are &e &aiting for9 %et!s go,” Jonathan urged. He gra""ed a flashlight from the "edside ta"le. “$ can!t &ait to meet them. Are they from 8ASA or is it some secret "ranch of the government9” “2ou &ill see, my friend,” &as his cryptic response. As the hurried do&n the &al,&ay, Jonathan &as surprised to see /o"erts partly concealed "y the trun, of an old oa, tree. He &as staring in the direction of the lights, "ut turned his ga.e in their direction as they t&o passed. He didn!t spea,. (hen the "oys arrived at the la,e, a larger version of /olf!s craft rested on the shore. Male and female figures stood in the door&ay, silhouetted "y the "right interior. “$t is my parents,” /olf said. “$ ,ne& they &ould "e the ones to come for me.” He rushed up the ramp to the door and greeted the t&o in a guttural language. )hey em"raced him and spo,e &ith similar speech. “'h, no. Hope that!s not /ussian,” Jonathan thought. )he idea that he!d "ecome an accomplice to some international plot entered his mind. He might "e accused of a"etting an attempt to overthro& the country. He felt his heart race and s&eat "rea, out on his forehead. “Jonathan, come a"oard. )here is no reason for discomfort,” /olf urged. “$ &ant my father and mother to meet the 0artling &ho saved my life.” )he &ord used to descri"e him instantly confirmed the gro&ing suspicions of the youth that his guest &as an alien, not ust to the country "ut to the planet. 0verything fit< the extraordinary vehicle, /olf!s stilted language, his "uild, the extra digits, and lac, of common ,no&ledge. He reproached himself for not having recogni.ed it earlier, "ut it had seemed too incredi"le to "e true. )he searchlights, having served their purpose, dimmed and &ent out. “2ou may approach &ithout fear,” called out /olf!s father. “2es, come in so &e can "ecome ac*uainted,” invited his mother. She moved to&ard him as if to em"race him, "ut her mate!s hand on her arm caused her to stop. Jonathan &as mildly surprised to find that "oth spo,e 0nglish. He hesitated a moment and then strode up the ramp and follo&ed the family into the spaceship. 'ver the next t&o hours, the parents learned the story of their son!s crash and rescue. )hey ans&ered Jonathan!s *uestions and offered additional information that he couldn!t have ,no&n to as,. “'ur planet is similar to 0arth, "ut a"out ten percent larger &hich gives it a stronger gravity,” /olf explained. “)hat is &hy $ have more massive muscles.”

“$s it in some other galaxy9” Jonathan as,ed, having in mind a “galaxy far, far a&ay” in the style of Star (ars. “8ot at all,” the father explained. “(e are far more advanced in science than 0arth people, "ut even at many times light speed, travel "et&een galaxies is not possi"le. 'ur star system is five light years a&ay, "ut to conserve food and oxygen, &e enter stasis for the ourney that ta,es a"out one of 0arth!s months. 3uring that time of sleep, language and "asic information &as fed to our "rains a"out this civili.ation ust as it &as for our son.” “(hy have you come here9” Jonathan as,ed uneasily, concerned at the ans&er they might provide. “/olf &as assigned ha"ita"le planets in this sector for his graduation exercise. $t is customary after completion of training. $t is un&ise to ma,e direct contact &ith a civili.ation as primitive as this one. $t could cause immense harm to learn a"out other life forms "efore it is necessary.” “Ho& a"out me9 Am $ ust supposed to forget all this,” Jonathan as,ed. “'r &ill you &ipe it from my memory9” “(e have found no &ay to safely remove memories,” /olf!s mother explained. “5ast attempts proved disastrous to the "rains of the life forms. 2ou could thin, that &e might leave you "ehind &ith the expectation that no"ody &ould "elieve the fantastic tale you &ould relate, "ut you must trust that is not possi"le.” Jonathan gulped nervously and cut his eyes to&ard the exit, "ut ,ne& the po&erful aliens &ould easily overcome him if he attempted escape. “)he &elfare of many is more important than that of an individual,” /olf!s father replied. “$ am sure that you &ill understand and accept &hat must "e done.” Jonathan turned pale, &ondering if he &as a"out to "e executed. “2ou are scaring the "oy,” /olf!s mother inter ected. “2ou &ill not "e harmed, "ut you must return &ith us to our &orld. $t is a place &here there are fe& needs that are not met. 2ou &ill live for hundreds of years rather than the fe& decades your present &ay of life allo&s. 2ou &ill "ecome another son to us and a "rother to /olf. And, yes, $ thin, you &ill find a &ife &ho &ill overloo, the strangeness of your hands. $ only regret that you cannot "id your 0arth family fare&ell. $ feel sadness for them.” “$ don!t thin, they!ll "e too upset,” Jonathan said grimly. “$!ve "een mostly a nuisance to them for a long time. But there is one person $!d li,e to contact. 2ou can listen to every &ord and $ promise not to reveal anything.” He pulled out his cell phone, turned on the spea,er, and punched in the house num"er. After t&o rings they heard, “Bosserman residence, /o"erts spea,ing.”

“)his is Jonathan. $ &ant you to ,no& ho& great you!ve "een to me all my life. $!ll al&ays remem"er you, "ut this is the last you!ll hear from me. $ can!t tell you &here $!m going or &hy, "ut $ "elieve $!ll "e happy for the first time in my life.” =nflappa"le as al&ays, he replied “$ am pleased for you, "ut &hat shall $ tell Mr. and Mrs. Bosserman, Master Jonathan9” “Just tell them $ said good"ye,” he replied as he closed the phone. “:uess $ &on!t "e using this anymore,” he said as he handed the device to /olf. “$!m ready to go.” (hen they &ere all secured into seats, the spaceship silently rose vertically and then accelerated for&ard and up&ard &ith increasing speed at a shallo& angle. (hen they reached the edge of the atmosphere, the stars, against the "lac,ness of space, glo&ed &ith a "rilliance Jonathan had never seen "efore. He "lin,ed his eyes in ama.ement at the incredi"le sight. “(arp three. 0ngage,” he *uipped, "ut sa& that the allusion to Star )re, &as lost on the others. “'nly t&elve from this planet have "een to their moon. -an &e ta,e him there, father9” “2es, my son. He &ould en oy that since he has seen it from a distance his entire life and &ill soon "e far a&ay.” )he group made three or"its of the moon. Jonathan loo,ed &ith fascination at the cratered, gray, surface. “/eally a dra" place,” he o"served.

Moon Seen from the Spaceship “Here is something you may recogni.e from 0arth!s history,” /olf!s father said. He left or"it, approached the lunar surface and landed a short distance from a metallic o" ect &ith &heels. “$t!s the lunar rover,” Jonathan exclaimed. “$t loo,s ust li,e the pictures. $ never dreamed of seeing it in person. 0xcept for dust, it loo,s "rand ne&.” “)he vacuum of this satellite has preserved it,” /olf explained. “$ sa& it &hen $ approached your planet.

The Abandoned Lunar o!er “Jonathan, it is time to enter the stasis pods for the trip to your ne& home,” /olf!s mother explained. “2ou &ill have no a&areness of the passage of time, "ut &hen you arrive, you &ill spea, the Sednian language and "e prepared to assimilate into our society. 2et, you &ill retain memory of your former &orld.” He drifted into sleep, dreaming of his ne& home and family, uncertain if it mattered &hether he remem"ered the past. An un,no&n planet and a life of adventure lay "efore him.

The Cadet" #art Two
“Jonathan, &a,e up. (e &ill soon "e home,” /olf urged as he reached into the open stasis pod and shoo, his ne&found "rother!s shoulder. Jonathan opened his eyes, "lin,ed a fe& times, and a&,&ardly sat up. #or an instant, he thought that he!d "een dreaming, "ut li,e a rush of strong &ind, the language implanted into his "rain during the month+long voyage flooded into his consciousness. He felt slightly di..y "ut the sensation *uic,ly passed. (hen /olf spo,e, it &as in the Sednian tongue rather than 0nglish, "ut he understood perfectly. “(e!re five light years from 0arth, "ut it seems li,e &e ust left,” Jonathan marveled. “0instein sure &as &rong to thin, that nothing could move faster than the speed of light.” (ith a start, Jonathan reali.ed that his &ords &ere in his ne&ly ac*uired language. 2et, he spo,e &ithout hesitation ust as he had done on 0arth. He &hispered a fe& &ords in 0nglish ust to "e certain that he still could. /olf smiled and assured him, “8o a"ility that you had "efore has disappeared. And all your memories remain intact. (e!re a"out to eat after our long fast. 5lease oin us.” (ith /olf!s steadying hand, Jonathan s&ung his legs over the side of the pod and stood. “'ur &orld can synthesi.e food to any appearance and taste. #or many centuries, Sednians have eaten only vegetation. $t!s part of the reason for our long lives. Meat &ith its excess calories, fat, and cholesterol no longer harms us as it did our ancestors. =ntil you ad ust, it is easy to duplicate the appearance of "eef, por,, chic,en, or even pi..a.” “$!ll have &hatever you do.” Jonathan *uic,ly decided it &as "est to ma,e a clean "rea, &ith the past and adapt *uic,ly to his ne& circumstances. He recalled the "iology teacher at Breyton Academy having emphasi.ed that failure to adapt is e*uivalent to death. He intended to live.

“(e have mastered the conversion of energy to matter so that food for the "illions of Sedna is no longer a pro"lem,” /olf!s mother explained. She pointed in the direction of &hat superficially resem"led an enormous micro&ave oven. #our plates filled &ith food and glasses &ith a clear li*uid appeared an instant later. )he group ate &ith good appetite after the long voyage. )he spaceship dropped to su"light speed as it entered the planet!s solar system. (hat had "een a "lur through the front &indo&s, changed to the "lac,ness of space studded &ith the steady light of millions of stars. Several hours later, a "luish planet appeared as a dot that gre& as the craft continued in its direction, still traveling at a velocity that 0arth had never achieved. “$t loo,s a lot li,e 0arth,” Jonathan o"served. “'nly planets of a certain si.e and distance from their stars can har"or life forms similar to ours,” /olf explained. “Such homes are fe& in the part of the :alaxy that &e are a"le to reach. Besides Sedna, &e have found only t&o other such &orlds in three centuries of searching. 0arth and one other har"or intelligent life forms.” )he cosmology lesson ended as the craft slo&ed and entered Sedna!s atmosphere at a shallo& angle to minimi.e friction. After circling the planet several times at increasingly lo&er altitudes, the ship touched do&n on a concrete pad. 'ther ships rested on similar supports. Jonathan gasped as he caught sight of complexes of incredi"ly tall "uildings every&here he loo,ed.

Buildings were in e!ery direction )heir father lo&ered a ramp so the family could descend to the ground. As Jonathan &al,ed along, he had a heavy feeling that reminded him of the sensation &hen he came out of the s&imming pool at the academy. (hen he sa& that the others didn!t seem to share the disconcerting sensation, he suddenly thought, “$t!s the stronger gravity of Sedna ust li,e they descri"ed.” He reali.ed he!d get a &or,out anytime he moved until his muscles and "ones ad usted to the ne& conditions. “)a,e Jonathan home,” /olf!s father said. He provided the location of their vehicle. “Mother and $ have to report to the -ouncil on the success of our mission to 0arth.” )he air &as thic, &ith small, circular craft. 0ach contained from one to five riders and seemed to "e open at the top. /olf led the &ay to the family craft. As they approached, a door on each side opened. “An electric eye,” Jonathan remar,ed. “:uess lots of things &or, automatically on Sedna.”

“$!ll tell you a"out that later today. $t!s something that &ill ta,e a "it of explanation.” (hen the "oys &ere seated in the vehicle, the doors softly closed and a light hum sho&ed that it &as activated. “(hat happens &hen it rains9” Jonathan as,ed as he loo,ed to&ard the s,y. “/each up and feel,” /olf suggested. A"out t&o feet a"ove his head, Jonathan felt a force that reminded him of the feeling of "ringing similar poles of magnets together. His hand could penetrate no farther, "ut the vie& remained unimpeded. “8o &ay; $t!s a force field li,e in Star )re,,” he exclaimed. “$t extends all around so there can!t "e any midair collisions,” added /olf. )he craft rose evenly up&ard and s&ept in the direction of a tall "uilding &ith &hat appeared to "e a dome atop. “(here!s the controls9” Jonathan as,ed in surprise. /olf smiled, "ut offered no explanation. )he craft set do&n &ith a gentle thump on a platform that circled the "ase of the dome. )he doors opened, and the "oys emerged. Similar vehicles &ere par,ed in an orderly pattern on the dec,. Several sets of doors led into the dome. Jonathan led the &ay, expecting the door he selected to open automatically, "ut he crashed into it &ith a thud. “Must "e out of order,” he remar,ed as he ru""ed a red place on his forehead. (ith /olf in the lead, the door opened silently. “)his is the elevator to the floor of our apartment,” /olf said. As "efore, the portal opened at their approach, closed "ehind them &ith a lo& hiss. )he lift s&iftly dropped several floors, stopped, and the door again opened to allo& them to exit. )he entrance to the apartment &as similarly o"liging. “/olf, $ ust don!t get it. )here &eren!t any "uttons on the elevator. Ho& could it ,no& &here to let us off. And &hy don!t things &or, for me9” Jonathan as,ed. He &al,ed to&ard the apartment door to demonstrate that it didn!t ac,no&ledge his approach. “Mechanical e*uipment is entirely controlled "y thoughts,” /olf explained. He glanced to&ard the door and it slid o"ediently into the &all. $t!s a s,ill you can easily master. $n fact, anyone on 0arth can do it &ith training. (e have studied humans for over a hundred years and ,no& that they have potential e*ual to our o&n. “2ou mean you!re not the first from Sedna to visit 0arth,” Jonathan exclaimed in surprise.

“By no means. 'ur first ship to reach that planet &as in the year it called 76>?, "ut it ended in tragedy. )he vessel malfunctioned some&hat as did mine, "ut in that case matter and antimatter mixed. )he pilot reali.ed the ship &as lost and had only minutes to direct it to a thinly populated area. $t exploded in the air a"out five miles a"ove the ground. 'nly animals &ere ,illed, especially herds of reindeer. )rees &ere ,noc,ed flat for miles. 0ven the primitive technology of that time detected the explosion, "ut it &as attri"uted to a meteor or comet. 'ur contact remained un,no&n as &as essential. “$ studied a"out that at the Academy,” Jonathan said. “$t!s called the )ungus,a 0vent. 8either a crater nor remains of a meteorite &ere ever found. $t!s regarded as a mystery. 8o& $ see &hy.

The Craft $alling

The E%plosion

“'ver the years that follo&ed, other space vehicles arrived and studied humans &ithout harming them. )hose &ho reported their experience &ere ridiculed as liars or possi"ly mentally un"alanced. (e ,no& from those examinations that the human race &as at the point of a great technological ump and &ould soon develop formida"le &eapons and venture far into space. Just as /olf had predicted, &ithin a fe& days, Jonathan mastered the a"ility to concentrate his thoughts and operate the various devices of the Sednian &orld. $n the months that follo&ed, he spent hours each day in &hat &ere called “learning cham"ers.” )he devices placed into his mind the technology, history, and culture of his ne& home. “$t sure "eats going to school for years,” he said to /olf and their parents. “)he ministry says that $!ll soon "e ready for practical training in the field. But it seems strange that $!ve "een sho&n no more a"out Sedna!s dealings &ith 0arth. (hat little you told me months ago is all $ ,no&. )he father replied, “)hat information isn!t in the pu"lic realm, "ut revealed only as needed. 2ou no& have that need, my son.” A fe& Sednians have actually lived on the 0arth, some of them for years. )he assignment &as, for most, to implant ideas that &ould slo& the advancement of 0arth science. )he man ,no&n to you as Al"ert 0instein is one of us. His mission &as to convince 0arth science that faster than light travel isn!t possi"le. He succeeded &ell.

'rson (elles pretended to "e a producer and discredited the idea of space invaders &ith a radio hoax. A scientist called -arl Sagan is yet another of our race. By logical arguments, he convinced many that contact &ith aliens represented "ogus reports. All three completed their missions and have returned home. 2ou &ill "e allo&ed to visit them "efore you "egin your field&or,. “)hat!s fantastic;” Jonathan replied &ith enthusiasm. “All that ma,es sense. )o thin, that they are still living. $ can!t &ait to meet them.” “)hey &ill live for centuries yet to come "aring accidents,” /olf commented. “Are there any others from Sedna &ho lived on 0arth9” Jonathan in*uired. $n his mind he &as going over a list of possi"ilities, especially Assimov and Ha&,ing. “)here are only t&o more,” their father replied. “'ne has only partially fulfilled his role and the other has completed his and is ne&ly arrived "ac, on Sedna. He lives in this "uilding and $ am summonsing him no&. He closed his eyes in telepathic concentration. After a fe& minutes, the door slid open to announce his arrival. “:reetings, Master Jonathan,” said a smiling /o"erts. He rushed over and put an arm around his shoulders. “$!m so pleased to see you again.” “/o"erts is a Sednian,” Jonathan exclaimed in shoc,. “$ thought he &as our family "utler.” “)hat!s household manager if you please, Sir,” he said &ith a &in,. “His role &as that of careta,er for the one &ho &ill represent us to the people of 0arth, my son. %oo, carefully at the side of your hands "elo& your fourth finger.” Jonathan turned first one hand and then the other and noticed for the first time, on each, a "arely discerni"le &hite line a"out an inch long. “)hat is &here surgeons removed your sixth finger shortly after "irth, my son. $f you examine your feet, you!ll find similar mar,s there. 2our mother and $ su"stituted you for your parents! defective "a"y that &as destined to die and they never ,ne& the difference. 2ou are truly our o&n son and /olf!s "rother. (e lent you in necessary service of our &orld and have "een so thrilled to have you home. 2our destiny, and that of our &orld, made the sacrifice necessary. 2ou ,no& 0arth as does no other Sednian and &ill "e "etter accepted as a leader "y them &hen the time comes for us to appear openly.” “Brother, $ &as coming to "ring you home &hen my craft ceased to function. $t &as no mere accident that $ crashed in the la,e "ehind the d&elling. 8either $, nor /o"erts, had the right to tell you the facts "efore you!d "een properly prepared to accept them. )hat time is no&.”

Jonathan sat stunned for several minutes. He loo,ed again at his hands and slipped off his right shoe and soc, and noted the former location of his sixth toe. He loo,ed at his parents his "rother. Springing to his feet, he em"raced the parents he hardly ,ne& and then his "rother. /o"erts smiled genially at his charge!s acceptance of &ho he &as. All the years the t&o had "een on a primitive planet &ere &ell spent.

The Cadet" #art &
Jonathan!s intense training for his role in the future of his people "egan. (hile it &as *uite true that the need for food had "een met through technology, long life spans &ere the norm and pollution &as virtually nonexistent, a pressing pro"lem remained for Sedna< space to live. (ith no need for agriculture, cities had spread to cover the entire surface of its three continents. :enerations ago, cities had "een erected to carpet the ocean floors. )here &as no suita"le place to expand except into the -osmos. Sedna!s t&o moons, one red and one yello&, &ere a "eautiful sight at night, "ut &ere impractical for anything "eyond tiny outposts. Both &ere irregular o" ects &ithout magnetic fields. 3espite advanced technology, it had proven impossi"le to create a pleasant and safe environment except on a planet similar to the home &orld. 'nly three such "odies existed &ithin feasi"le distance, "ut they promised room for expansion for generations to come. @or"a, chairman of the -ouncil, instructed Jonathan on Sedna!s secret plans for 0arth. “$t is our Manifest 3estiny to occupy all inha"ita"le planets,” he explained. “'f that there can "e no dou"t. All &ho stand in the &ay of that must "e s&ept aside. )he people of 0arth are not ma,ing proper use of the land. )hey are savages and &ar against and ,ill others of their ,ind. )heir &eapons, &hile destructive, are primitive and no match for our po&er. 8evertheless, &e &ill deal ,indly &ith them and compensate them for the loss of &hat they presumptuously regard as "elonging to them. )he -ouncil &ill esta"lish treaties and set aside generous tracts for their exclusive use and see that they are fed, protected, and properly educated. Although they &ill "e treated as foreign nations, it may "e, in time, that &e can overcome their savage "ac,ground and integrate them into civili.ation. 5erhaps &e eventually can even grant them citi.enship and a role in government. 'ur coming &ill "e the "est thing that has ever happened to them. )hey &ill than, us as they see improvement in their &retched lives.” “$ am a Sednian and &ill do as the -ouncil directs,” Jonathan assured the chairman. “'ne thing pu..les me. (hy are these plans ,ept secret from our people9” A loo, of disgust appeared on @or"a!s face. “)here are a fe&, even t&o on the -ouncil, &ho raise o" ections to &hat must "e done. Such trou"lema,ers ta,e the vie& that even inferior life forms have a right to "e left to develop &ithout outside influence. )hey even go so far as to suggest that our plans "order on crueltyAas if &e are capa"le of such "ase motives. )hey &ill see that &e are correct &hen a ne& &orld is opened to coloni.ation.

After additional months of training and experience &ith interstellar travel, Jonathan &as declared "y the council to "e ready to "e the face and voice of Sedna to planet 0arth. An armada of space vehicles, carefully shielded from detection, approached the side of 0arth!s moon that couldn!t "e seen from its surface. :eneral @e", in command of the operation, told Jonathan and /olf, “'ur plans go into action tomorro&. (e have a fleet of such si.e and po&er that it &ill shoc, and a&e the 0arthlings. (e expect to "e &elcomed as li"erators from their misera"le &ay of life. )hey &ill, no dou"t, thro& do&n their puny arms and su"mit &ith oy to our superior government.” At virtually the same moment the next day, spaceships glided *uietly into position in each of the ma or capital cities of 0arth. Jonathan!s vessel entered the restricted airspace over (ashington 3.-. &ithout "eing detected until it settled into place on the south la&n of the (hite House. Alarms sounded, armed soldiers rushed to&ard the ship &ith &eapons in hand, and the air filled &ith fighter ets that circled the 5residential Mansion li,e s&arms of angry hornets. -88 and the other ne&s net&or,s interrupted their programming &ith the "rea,ing ne&s< “-raft lands on grounds of (hite House.” Similar reports came *uic,ly from all over the &orld. At the order from Homeland Security to evacuate, (ashingtonians poured from the federal "uildings in a virtual panic. (ithin minutes, the roads "ecame clogged to the extent that traffic came to a standstill. 5eople a"andoned their cars and fled the city on foot. “/emain orderly, "ut move as *uic,ly as possi"le to the countryside,” authorities directed the cro&ds &ith "ullhorns. “)his is merely a precaution. )he 5resident is a&are of the situation and has everything &ell in hand. )here is nothing to fear. Move at a steady pace. 3o not attempt to use cellular phones so the lines &ill "e open for emergency use.” “)errorists” many screamed in anger and fear. “(e should have &iped out those foreigners &hen they attac,ed 8e& 2or,. 8o& loo, &hat!s happened.” =n,no&n to them, the “terrorist” states &ere having a similar experience. Many of them "lamed the “:reat Satan” and loo,ed to their Mullahs for direction. )hat they &ere having first contact &ith an alien species hadn!t yet da&ned on them. (hen the area &ithin several miles of the (hite House had "een cleared and the president and his family &ere safe in the "asement "un,er far "eneath, the attac, on the spaceship "egin &ith sudden fury. )an,s ground through the metal fence surrounding the mansion and "egan to fire point "lan,, soldiers directed hand held roc,et launchers and fighter ets pummeled the ship in succession as they passed a"ove. Smo,e filled the air, o"scured the mansion, and spilled onto the surrounding streets. An acrid scent "urned the nostrils of the attac,ers and caused them to cough. 8e&s cameras recorded the attac, for

live "roadcast to an un"elieving &orld. )hose not in immediate danger sat in front of their television sets in stunned silence. )he com"ined firepo&er of the military proved una"le to do the least damage to the invading craft. $ts protective force field shielded it from harm. After a"out t&o hours, the Joint -hiefs of Staff ordered the attac, to stop. )he -hairman admitted, “(e can!t use atomic &eapons &ithout ,illing millions and even they might not "e effective. )here!s nothing to do "ut &ait and see &hat happens next.” After another half+hour, the military leaders got their ans&er. Jonathan entered one of the small vehicles that served as cars on Sedna, activated its shield, and caused a portal to open on the side of the main ship. He glided silently through it, and moved to the front entrance "elo& the )ruman Balcony, ust a fe& feet from the door. 3ressed in a neat "usiness suit, he deactivated the shield and stepped from the car &ith a friendly &ave to the throng of soldiers and reporters. “$ come in peace to all man,ind,” he shouted. “2ou have attac,ed me, "ut $ have not responded in ,ind.” “$t appears to "e a teenager,” reported (olf to an incredulous &orld. “%adies and gentlemen, this is ust an un"elieva"le moment.” )he camera .oomed in for a close+up vie& of a smiling Jonathan. “$ thin, he ust promised peace.” “(ant me to ta,e him out, Ma or9” a S(A) team mem"er as,ed eagerly as he fingered his po&erful rifle. “$t!ll "e a hard shot, "ut $ thin, $ can do it.” “5ut that do&n, you idiot,” the officer ordered as the door to the (hite House opened and the president stepped into vie&. “)hat!s the -ommander+in+-hief. 2ou might hit him instead.” “-ome inside. (e need to tal,,” invited the grim loo,ing president in argua"ly the greatest understatement of 0arth!s history.

Concerned #resident “)han, you, Mr. 5resident,” Jonathan replied &ith courtesy and respect ust as he had "een trained to do. $t &as important to gain the cooperation of human leaders to ensure a peaceful expansion of Sednian culture. 0ven &hen dealing &ith inferiors, it &as prefera"le to avoid violence if possi"le. 2et, nothing could stop Manifest 3estiny< 0arth

&as to "ecome living space for a ne& race of "eings. 0artlings! lives, as they had ,no&n them, had come to an end. )he president led the &ay to his private office &here he listened *uietly as Jonathan descri"ed &hat &ould "ecome the planet!s future. 'ccasionally, he inter ected a *uestion. Jonathan had detected the president!s activation of a recording device, "ut too, no measures to stop it. 0veryone must ,no& &hat &as to ta,e place. )o avoid panic, he &as careful to remain calm and cordial even as he outlined a ne& chapter in the planet!s development. He presented it as a desira"le conse*uence of natural selection, a concept &ell ,no&n to 0arth science. “$ have lived on 0arth most of my life and care deeply a"out the &elfare of humans,” Jonathan assured the sha,en leader. “$ &ill "e in charge, not only of the =nited States, "ut all countries. 2ou have nothing to fear from me. (e &ill esta"lish colonies in every part of this &orld and spread out&ard from them. As &e re*uire additional land, there &ill "e compensation and other areas &ill "e set aside for the use of displaced persons for as long as the grass gro&s and the sun shines. )here &ill "e an era of peace unli,e anything in your planet!s history.” Jonathan didn!t reveal the &hole truth< he &as mainly a figurehead and the ones truly in charge &ere the Sednian generals. /ecalling Star )re, and the Borg, Jonathan &as tempted to add, “/esistance is futile,” "ut his training prevented such a gaffe. $nstead, he added the firm, cautionary note, “)here &ill "e no negotiation, no& or in the future.” As Jonathan rose to signal that the intervie& &as over, the president pressed a "utton hidden under the "ac, edge of his des,. 3oors on "oth sides of his office fle& open and armed soldiers rushed into the room. Jonathan!s training in mind control had "een most thorough. (ithout effort, he caused the &eapons to fly from their hands and crash harmlessly to the floor. )&o "urly marines advanced to sei.e the young man, "ut &ith only a loo,, he forced them firmly against the &all. “5erhaps $ didn!t ma,e myself clear, Mr. 5resident,” Jonathan remar,ed &ith a calm voice. “'ur po&er far exceeds anything 0arth can provide. )o anger us is unproductive.” Jonathan then smiled reassuringly and extended his hand to the imperiled leader &ho unenthusiastically shoo, hands. His cold, clammy hand sho&ed that he had comprehended the situation all too &ell. Jonathan returned, unchallenged, to his space vehicle. )he next day, Anderson -ooper got the mother of all intervie&s. A similar campaign of information too, place in each of the developed countries of the &orld.

Anderson Cooper dismayed after inter!iew 0arth!s population, for the most part, reacted to the ne& reality &ith dis"elief, follo&ed "y anger, and finally acceptance. A ne& age had da&ned in the history of the planet.