Two days later in the Brick’s underground laboratory, a large, metal robot that resembled a TV remained on the floor. A bullet hole in its middle. Jash took off his white cap as he stared at the UFO he’d discovered over a week ago. Minutes went by as he stood there, not moving.
A door opened behind him. He turned and saw Aaron walking in, dressed in a dark blue, formal military suit. It matched Jash’s outfit, except Aaron’s had more badges. It was the type of clothing soldiers would wear for a funeral.
“I thought I’d find you here, Private,” Aaron said.
Jash gave him a formal solute. “Sargent Stevenson.”
Aaron returned the solute. “At ease, Private Willian.”
Jash turned back to the UFO and to his thoughts. Aaron walked over and stood next to Jash, staring at the UFO. A minute of silence went by.
“Thanks,” Jash said.
“For what?” Aaron asked.
“For taking that shot.” He gestured to the UFO. “If you hadn’t shot the robot when you did, then it would’ve seen you a little after seeing me. Tiara would’ve known you were here, and who knows how that would’ve changed her actions.”
Aaron hummed, thinking about what Jash had said.
“I should also say thank you,” Jash said, “for not shooting me either.”
They both laughed through their noses.
Seth and Sarah walked in the room. Seth was dressed in his formal military suit, white cap in hand. Sarah wore a black dress, and even though it was a funeral dress, it still complimented her figure well. They both looked a little hesitant as they walked toward Jash, as if he were an injured dog.
“How’re you doing?” Seth asked.
“I’m okay,” Jash said. That was the best answer he could come with. His dad had died. How could he be happy about that? At the same time, he wasn’t exactly sad—at least not anymore. It took Jash a long time to figure out how he felt about his father’s death and sacrifice. Finally, today, after his dad’s funeral where millions of Janorians had honored him, one feeling continued to overwhelm him whenever he thought of his dad. He felt proud of him. “How’s your dad doing?”
“Better,” Sarah said as she slid into a side hug with Jash. “The doctors say he’ll be out in a month or so.”
Jash nodded. “That’s good.”
“You know,” Sarah said looking him in the eyes. “It would be my funeral today too, if you hadn’t saved my life back when Tiara almost lasered me.”
Jash smiled, turning a little red. “It would be mine too if all of you hadn’t dragged me out of that spaceship after the explosion.” Sarah smiled. Jash had regained consciousness later that day, suffering mostly from a concussion and a few cuts and bruises. She’d told Jash then that the Janorian military arrived shortly after the President’s sacrifice. They fought against the Earthlings for nearly two hours, and then the Earthlings surrendered.
“I’m surprised it’s not my funeral,” Seth said with a chuckle. “I don’t remember any of you saving my life.”
They all laughed at that for a short moment, and then slowly slipped into silence as they stared at the UFO through the glass. Jash tilted his head, wondering something. “So, you guys are Earthlings right?”
“Right,” Sarah said. “But, please don’t call us Earthlings. It just sounds so… weird. Call us Americans or something.”
Jash nodded. He had so many questions he wanted to ask them. How can Torenians and Earthlings both be humans? How did the Stevenson family escape Earth, come to Toren, and become Janorians? Yet, one question had peaked his interest. “Why were you guys so concerned about going back to Earth?” he said “Is it really that bad?”
“Yep,” Seth said.
“It wasn’t always bad,” Sarah said. “Just… over time good people stopped standing up for what they believed in. Good people, like your dad, stopped fighting for their own freedom. You’re dad sacrificed his own life to stop the Jordans from taking over. Back on Earth, too many people have succumbed to the Jordans’ power, giving up their own freedom just to survive. Now they live, but they have to live the way Alexander Jordan decides. They’ve made him Emperor over America now, and it’s worrisome to know that he’s interested in Toren now.”
“By the way,” Aaron chimed in. “Tiara made a bold threat when I saw her this morning at the prison. She claimed that if Earth doesn’t receive any form of communication from her in 6 months, then Alexander Jordan himself will come to Toren with a massive fleet of spaceships and soldiers. I couldn’t tell if she was lying or not.”
“I guess we’ll see in 6 months,” Seth said.
“And if they do come,” Jash said confidently. “We’ll be ready for them this time.”
They exchanged hopeful smiles, and walked out of the underground laboratory containing the fallen reconnaissance robot. They wrapped arms over shoulders as they left, never looking back.