Rivi awoke, sitting in a leather interior vehicle propped against the window. She lifted her head and looked around to find Dan sitting staring out the opposite window. He turned toward her in surprise.
"That was quite some nap you took there. You hardly moved a muscle. 'Mister-I-don't-have-a-name' up there suggested that we stop and see if you were still alive," Dan said jokingly as he motioned toward the man driving the vehicle.
"I haven't strained my abilities that far in a long time. My mental and physical functions shut down. I am neither a Healer or an element-shifter, so lifting Bill and going through all that fire really tired me out," Rivi answered, thinking over the memory.
"Plus you have probably been a bit out of practice while here on Earth because you were trying to keep your identity a secret," Dan replied.
"Yes," Rivi answered. "It felt good to have a reason not to hide."
"Well, you certainly gave those kids something to talk about," The driver said, glancing in the rear view mirror.
"Earth had to be brought out of the dark sometime. I just didn't think it would be this soon," Rivi added.
"Wouldn't sooner have been better than later?" Dan asked.
"I don't know," Rivi replied. "I'm not a Futurity-Histographer like my guardian father, Ankh. But I do know that this meeting with the President is now really important."
Two jet-black SUVs rolled through a guarded gate surrounding a facility in the middle of a wide-open area. In all directions, besides the facility, all you could see was sky and grass. Nothing but miles and miles of grass. When the vehicles finally came to a stop, Rivi and Dan were escorted into the large one story, sandstone-covered facility. The men flashed security badges they each had produced from single-fold wallets in their suit jackets. The guard at the front desk nodded curtly.
The men led Rivi and Dan through two double doors into a large room. Tables and chairs were organized into sections. Each section was playing host to a wide assortment of papers, lab materials, and computers. Rivi was happy to become mentally aware that the computers were in fine working order, except, of course, for a normal, assorted handful of small problems that just about every Earth computer seemed to be plagued with. Rivi shut them out of her Amalgamatory link, as they became too distracting. Why humans hadn't advanced in their computer technology was easy to see. They could hardly keep their current machines working without messing them up somehow.
Along the left-hand wall there was a huge mosaic map of the night sky. Large square pieces were missing, showing the areas the scientists hadn't searched through.
Rivi, intrigued by the picture, veered off from the main group that was walking down the center of the room. She turned and walked between a row of table sections toward the giant mosaic and simply stared as if through a window. Not noticing that Rivi had left, the group continued toward the back of the room.
"Where is she?" a new voice asked portraying a gentle authority.
"She is... She was right here just a moment ago, sir!" one of the suited escorts stammered apologetically.
"We'll find her, sir," another one of the escorts said firmly.
Daniel turned around, wondering where Rivi had went. He saw Rivi further down staring at the mosaic.
"No need... She's over there," Daniel answered with a slightly lowered voice, mystified.
The new man walked over to Dan and, seeing what Rivi was looking at, motioned toward one of the three scientists who were present in the room. The scientist hurriedly threaded his way around the tables and walked over to Daniel and the man.
"Yes, Mr. President?" the scientist asked.
"Is that what I think it is?" the President asked.
"That is a photo mosaic of our deep-sky observations, sir."
"I thought as much. Young man?" the President asked, turning to look at Daniel.
"Sir... Mr. President?" Daniel asked, not exactly knowing what to say.
"I am assuming that you are Miss Rivinaig's friend?"
"Good, come with me." the President commanded. "The rest of you, stay here."
The President followed Daniel along the wall beside the desk sections toward Rivi. Rivi glanced briefly at Dan and then back at the many stars in front of her.
"I've been looking every night from the day I got here. However, you can't find it because of all the light and air pollution, never mind the weather, in Earth's skies. I don't think they knew...the Earth scientists have been staring right back at us all this time," Rivi said, pointing at a star at her eye level. "This, Dan... This is where Planet Aun is."
"It looks so small and far away," Daniel said quietly, as he looked back at her.
"Yes," Rivi answered, whispering.
"With our new found knowledge that other species are out there, perhaps soon it won't seem so small," The President said, bringing his voice to a normal level, which effectively brought Rivi's mind back to the present.
"Oh, hello, President Malcarosi. I'm sorry for being so distracted," Rivi apologized, turning to face the president.
"An intergalactic guest is allowed certain privileges... One of them is becoming distracted by the stars," President Malcarosi answered with an exaggerated bow and a gallant wave of his hand, as though she were a foreign diplomat.
Rivi smiled and shook her head with a laugh. Dan frowned slightly, not understanding the joke. Then, as it suddenly occurred to him, he too smiled and rolled his eyes.
"Come, I've heard you two have had a busy day. We should sit," the President said, as he led Rivi and Dan back through the table sections into the center pathway and back to the far end of the room where the others were waiting.
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