Scene 17: The Proudest of All
Finally, at long last, the Metamo Ark returned to Planet Geolyte to massive amounts of cheers and applause. And just in time, too—they only had enough food on the ship to last one more day. Zach and friends thought that maybe they would have to land on the moon like last time, but instead, they found that the scientists at the Lunar Observation Base had successfully completed a landing platform on the mainland, close to Twofork City. Though there were paparazzi and journalists among the forefront of the crowd, Zach found to his relief that the landing platform was connected to a high-security building, which would give them much-needed breathing room.
Lolly took in all the sights from the time they emerged from hyperspace to the time they landed. "Ooooh…Geolyte is two planets?" she asked Zach.
He laughed and explained, "No, that's the moon. That's where we launched from. But it looks like we're not landing there. We're going to land on the main planet."
Lolly was still confused. "How is the moon different from a planet?"
"Simple. You know how a planet circles the sun? Well, a moon circles the planet itself."
"Oh, I get it. Wow…"
When they landed, the doors opened, and the first ones to meet them was everyone from the Lunar Observation Base. Professor James Glierce, Zach's mom…even Mr. D and his men in black.
"ZACH!" shouted Mrs. Bandrews.
At that moment, Zach didn't hear any of the scientists asking him all sorts of questions, nor did he notice Jody and Rick passing the data capsules to all the scientists so they could see the videos of their adventures. All that mattered was that he and his mom were together again, and that he kept his promise that he would come back.
"Mom? This is Lolly Paluteena. Lolly? This is my mom."
Lolly bowed. "It—it's nice to meet you, Mrs. Bandrews!" she stammered.
"My goodness! You're quite polite!"
The three of them managed to escape into a private room in the building away from the crowd of crewmembers and scientists. Zach had to explain why an alien girl from Planet Starrii kept following him around. Luckily, Lolly could also help out with the explanations about everything they went through.
"Mom, if it wasn't for her, we wouldn't be here right now. Please understand."
Mrs. Bandrews eyed him sarcastically and said, "What, did you think I was going to embarrass you or something? Really, Zach, you know me better than that!"
Lolly shifted uncomfortably. "Hey, Zach? Where's the rest of your family? Besides your dad, I mean. You did save the whole planet and the galaxy, so…"
Mrs. Bandrews explained, "Oh, we live all over the country. We all have different jobs, you see, and we only get to meet a couple of times a year. I'm sure they're all watching this on TV right now. Why? What about your family?"
"W—well…we all live in the same place…so…"
Mrs. Bandrews laughed. "Must be fun!"
Right then, Mr. D. and his men in black came into the room. "Zach Bandrews? Professor Glierce would like a word with you. And you're allowed to listen in too, Maria and…Lolly."
"Yeah? Okay, sure." Zach internally groaned at the fact that Mr. D. and his guys never seemed to want to leave him and his mom alone…but at least Professor Glierce always had something useful to say.
But it didn't look like he would have to go out there himself. Mr. D. looked behind his back and said, "James? He's in here."
Mr. D. and his men left the room as the professor came in. The professor adjusted his eyeglasses and said, "Well, well, if it isn't Zach. I must say, you're quite the hero."
Zach replied, "With all due respect, sir, the Seven Sages of Hevendor said that even you had no idea what the Metamo Ark could really do—"
"Yes, well, I've heard the same. Anyway, I'm here to tell you that shortly before you and your crew arrived, some ambassadors from Planet Firim, Oleana, and Anasaze dropped by our Lunar Observation Base."
Zach was stunned. "What? Ambassadors? What for?"
"They told me everything that you did. Apparently, you all had saved 38 planets like theirs from total destruction on the way to Planet Meteo! They wanted to repay you for everything you did, and not only that, they said they wanted to get to know us better. As a result, they were requesting that we make a sort of…say…Galactic Federation."
Lolly and Mrs. Bandrews just stared in astonishment. Zach asked, "Which means what exactly?"
"They've just passed the approval in Congress. Our moon will be used as the base of operations, which is why we're all down here on Geolyte. Basically, ambassadors from each planet will be able to meet and discuss measures by which interplanetary communication can occur. We may even be able to travel to those other planets for recreation and economic trade!"
"And—this is the most important part—they were requesting YOU, Zach, to be Planet Geolyte's first ambassador to this Galactic Federation. Well? You did so well out there, helping them all out. What do you say?"
Zach was stunned. So were Mrs. Bandrews and Lolly.
"Whoa whoa whoa! I just got here! Now I have to—I mean, whoa. This is too fast," he said.
"A Galactic Federation?" asked Lolly. "You mean we'll be able to go to each other's planets whenever we want now?"
"According to the regulations that its members set up, of course," replied Professor Glierce. "Well, Zach? Think about it."
Zach just sat there, thinking hard for a long time. His mom reassured him, "Don't worry, Zach. I'll support you no matter what you choose. Oh! And by the way, they built us a new house!"
"Yes! So don't worry about me. Do what you want to do."
He continued to think. Lolly asked him, "Zach? Didn't you have anything you wanted to do when you got back? You know, after showing me around?"
"That…that's a good point, Lolly. I never really thought of that." He stretched his arms and thought back to everything they'd been through. "You know…Now that I think about it, when I was travelling from planet to planet, helping protect them from the Meteo Streams…it wasn't just you that helped keep me from cracking under the pressure."
"Not just me?"
"Yeah…I think…I think it was because…I was looking forward to seeing what that planet was like. I protected them as fiercely as I could because…maybe because I wanted to meet them too."
Lolly smiled. "Well, there are a load of aliens we don't even know anything about. I guess it would be nice to meet them all."
"It would, wouldn't it? And wouldn't it be cooler if we could all go to each other's planets, like you said, anytime we wanted? That would be so cool! It would be, like, out of a movie!"
Professor Glierce spoke up, "True, but you would also have responsibilities as serious as those when you were captain of the Metamo Ark."
"Yeah, there's totally going to be Meteo Streams of death there too," joked Zach.
"But this time, it will not be merely about survival. You are aware of that, correct?"
Zack smiled and looked from his mom to Lolly to Professor Glierce, and finally back to Lolly. The Seven Sages were right. Things really were about to change in the galaxy forever. "Yeah…yeah, I am. If there's anything this trip taught me, it's three things. One…" He looked at his mom. "I'm a better man than Dad was after all. I kept my promise."
She nearly cried in happiness. "Yes…your father would be the proudest of all."
"Two…I've finally found what it means to live. It's all about helping people other than yourself and doing things that make the galaxy a better place." The professor gave him a thumbs-up in approval.
"And three, which is the most important of all…" He smiled at Lolly. "I've found that I could actually befriend an alien, and that they could teach me more than I could ever learn if I was stuck here. And if Lolly is any indication, who knows what other experiences out there I might be missing? I want to meet them. I want to see things I've never seen before, in ways I've never known. This must have been what I was meant to do all along! Professor? I'll take the job. But…"
The professor looked confused. "But what?"
He turned to Lolly. "But there's no way I'm doing this without Lolly. Right?"
She smiled, "I think so too, Zach! Planet Starrii also needs an ambassador. I'll do it!"
Mrs. Bandrews asked Lolly, "I've been looking after Zach for 24 years now. You promise to help look after him?"
Lolly knew this was the same to what her dad asked of Zach. "Don't worry, Mrs. Bandrews. We've already promised."
After the next few weeks involving the paparazzi, news events and general worldwide fame, especially upon footage of the entire video from the data capsules, Zach and Lolly finally got some free time to themselves. They rode on Dosani Sigma all around Twofork City, with Zach explaining everything about the planet, just like he promised.
At the end of the day, Lolly activated Dosani Sigma's air thrusters, and they flew all the way to the moon, where they drove to meet the Firimian (including Torzim Arxley), Oleanan, Anasazean, and even other Geolytian ambassadors, among them Rick and Jody, much to Zach's surprise.
During the meeting, they not only made plans to visit the major governments of each other's planets, but also to allow membership to ALL 34 other planets that had fought against Planet Meteo. By the time the meeting ended, Zach said to Lolly, "You know what? I just realized something."
"Even though Planet Meteo might've messed up our lives and tried to destroy the galaxy, if it weren't for it—or them, depending on how you look at it—I would've been stuck on Geolyte, never found what I really wanted to do…and I never would have met you."
Lolly's eyes grew wide when she figured out what he meant. "…Me too! I never thought of it that way! So when you think about it, Planet Meteo was evil…but it wasn't completely bad either. Is that it?"
Zach smiled. "That's it. It's like what my mom said…good things can come out of bad things after all."
And so, Zack, Lolly, and all the other ambassadors flew around Planet Geolyte, enjoying not only the freedom from Planet Meteo's wrath, but the knowledge and satisfaction of discovering their true missions in life, the anticipation of meeting and getting to know all those other aliens…and the confidence that from then on, every day will become a brighter future that they were all helping to build, for themselves, and for everyone in the galaxy.