Chapter One - Letting go

As always, everything was quiet in the small village where Mr. and Mrs. Magnus lived. Their house was small and simple and appeared to be completely similar to every single other house in the village. It wasn't a particularly poor village, but it was unusually old-fashioned and the inhabitants all seemed to be ignoring the fact that humanity was now a spacefaring race. Most of them were not comfortable with being too far away from the village, so though they were of course aware of the council races and life away from planet Earth, they were in complete denial of intelligent alien life and certainly refused to let it have any influence on their simple lives.

Mr. and Mrs. Magnus were no different. They were both born and raised in the area and neither of them had ever left Mother Earth. They also, like most of the villagers, didn't carry any love in their hearts for the Alliance. The Magnuses didn't really feel the influence of the Alliance in their little village, but they were still afraid that the supremacy of their own country might be threatened, or that the dealings with other species would allow those pesky aliens to control humans through the increasing power of the Systems Alliance.

Due to fear of overpopulation, their country had implemented a one-child policy, and as good, law abiding citizens, the Magnus household had only been blessed with a single child. Their son, Charles Magnus, was coming up on his eighteenth birthday and was in the process of deciding what he was going to do with his life. Charles Magnus had been raised by very loving and caring parents, and they had taught him about the world as they saw it. Charles, however, did not share his parents' obvious xenophobia and distrust of the Alliance.

He had really enjoyed the vids that they showed at his school. To his parents' disliking, knowledge of alien species and galactic politics, economy and social sciences had recently been added to list of subjects taught in school. These new and exciting subjects were the only things about going to school that could put half a smile on Charles' face. He didn't really have any friends, and for that reason Charles rarely enjoyed school days. It wasn't that he was stupid or performed very poorly in his tests, in fact he was the average student in almost every single way. The other students rarely paid him any attention, and he had quickly earned a reputation as a quiet loner. A reputation that very effectively kept him from making any friends all the way through his time in school.

Now that most of his class mates were nearing the age of eighteen, societal standards required for them to contemplate a career path. Representatives from many different universities, companies and government departments had shown up at the school trying to lure the young men and women of the village into their particular educational program.

Of course, the Alliance had also paid them a visit. A young, handsome lieutenant had shown up with a lot of fancy looking uniforms, weapons and exciting stories from the frontlines of galactic warfare. Many of Charles's male class mates had been enticed by the display of weapons and promises of glory in combat, and some of the females had found the cheeky smiles of the young lieutenant hard to resist. But, as with Mr. and Mrs. Magnus, most of their parents didn't trust the Alliance, and so they all chose different careers. The lieutenant hadn't seemed too disappointed. Apparently, he had been warned by his superiors, that this village would likely be a long shot. Charles himself had seriously been tempted by traveling the stars, wearing the Alliance uniform, but he was so afraid of how his parents would react to this, that he decided that he would at least look at his other options once more before doing anything that might exclude him from the will of his father. Also, Charles was not sure that he was really a violent person. He had never been in a fight, though within himself he was sure that he would give anything to defend his beloved parents, if they should ever be in harm's way.

However, his search for an alternative career path was going nowhere. He simply couldn't find anything that he was passionate about that didn't involve space travel. The fastest and only guaranteed way for him to travel the stars was a career with the Alliance. One evening at dinner he had daringly revealed his thoughts to his parents.

"Mother, please, I told you like a thousand times. I really do not wish to go and work with uncle Eric, I'm just not that into cooking."

"But what are you into then, honey?" she sighed, knowing that he would say that he didn't know, and that this conversation wouldn't get Charles any closer to deciding what to do with his life. They had been throwing career suggestions at him every night at dinner for weeks, but nothing seemed to interest her son. She really did love her son, but she also knew, that he couldn't live with them his entire life. And she could feel herself getting a bit angry with Charles for being so seemingly uninterested in everything.

To her surprise, Charles looked up from his half finished plate and whispered:

"Do you really want to know?"

Causing his father to pay attention to the conversation that he thought was going in the same direction as every other night.

His parents stared at him and both nodded intently.

"I want to see the galaxy. I have really searched my soul, and it is the only thing that I really want. I know how you feel about the whole extra terrestrial business, and I don't want to hurt you, but this is what I really want," He said quickly.

He half expected for his parents to freak out, but they just continued to stare at him.

He continued.

"I am not sure if I want to be a soldier, but I just don't see any other way for me to get a job in space at this time."

Finally his father spoke.

"So you want to go and join those Alliance folks? You want to wrestle with aliens?"

Charles looked him in the eyes.

"I don't know, father. As I said, I am not sure if I am really soldier material, but I just can't see any other way for me to go to space."

There was a long and very uncomfortable silence. Eventually Charles couldn't take it anymore, so he rose from his seat and carried his still half full plate to the dishwasher.

Behind his back his parents gave each other a long look and they both sighed.

"Honey, please come back," Charles heard his mother yell from the table.

He walked back to the table and stood behind his chair, leaning against it with a sad look on his face. He was expecting them to be angry, to feel like he was disrespecting their opinions and their wishes for his future. He was surprised to see that they both looked very calm, besides from his mother's eyes. She looked like she was about to burst into tears.

Mrs. Magnus looked at her son with her teary eyes. He was so big now. He had grown very tall these last few years and was now almost two meters tall, though that was not uncommon in their part of the world. She looked at his thick brown hair. As always his hair was completely uncontrollable. Strands of hair zigzagged in and out between each other in almost gravity defying fashion on top of his head. She also noticed some stubble on his chin and along his jaw. Her boy was really becoming a man. She looked into his eyes, those wonderful blue eyes. His eyes could always remind her of the days when he was just a kid. She glanced over at her husband, who nodded at her.

"Honey, there is something that we need to tell you," She said, "but first you should know that your father and I love you very much. We are not angry with you for wanting to go off to space, we are just really worried for you."

"I love you too," Charles said, rubbing his neck. "What is it that you need to tell me?"

"Son," his father started. "As you know, your medical test from a couple of years back revealed that you have biotic potential."

"Yes dad, I remember, but you guys refused to let them implant the necessary amplifiers that would allow me to actually make use of that potential. You said that humans should not undergo surgery to achieve powers that aliens have. That it was unnatural." Charles said, looking down at his feet.

"And we still don't like the thought of it," His father said in a gloomy voice. "But your latest medical examination has apparently revealed that your biotic potential exceeds what is normal. The Alliance sent us a message saying that they would like for you to have the implants now and go through training at their academy."

Charles's mouth was wide open. He had often thought about what would have happened if his parents would have let him have the implants in his early teens. It would certainly have made him stand out a bit from the crowd at his school. And now he was being told that his biotic potential was somehow extraordinary - He not only stood out from the crowd at his school. Apparently, on paper, he also stood out from other teens with biotic potential.

"Whe..Where is this academy?" he stuttered.

"It is on a space station," Mrs. Magnus said. She couldn't stop herself from smiling when she saw the grin on the face of her son.

"We really didn't like the thought of you going there," his father said, "but you seem very sure that you want to leave Earth. We both hate the idea of you as a marine, and if we have to send you off to space, we would much rather send you to this academy place than see the bloody Alliance use you for cannon fodder."

"So you would let me have the surgery and go to this academy?" Charles said, his voice laced with disbelief.

"Well, as I see it, soon you will be 18. And we won't be able to stop you anyway," his father said with a nervous smile.

Mr. and Mrs. Magnus both looked at their son, who seemed to be thinking very hard.

"I think it sounds SO cool!" He finally said with a great big smile. "This is what I want, but how will I let them know?"

His father put his arm around his mother and said "Dr. Sanders, the representative from the academy, will be visiting us next week. I think she will be able to tell you everything you need to know."

Charles walked around the dinner table and hugged his parents from behind with a huge smile on his face.

He felt like a big weight has been removed from his shoulders. He had successfully revealed his biggest dream to his parents with no fuzz, and now it seemed like he would be going to space. He couldn't remember ever being this happy in his life.

A tear began to form in each of his blue eyes as he softly whispered to his parents.

"I love you."