The first-wave trainees woke in Ramael and Hazael’s ’mobile. They could see Earth far below them. They were all a little bit stiff, having been asleep in the ’mobile for several days.
Ramael switched off the quiet-mode field, which had made the ’mobile invisible. He chose to approach from south to north over the South Atlantic, as this seemed the least obviously threatening area to come from. That done, he turned north-west, towards the nearest Earth had to a capital city – Washington, where it was a bright, cool Wednesday morning in March.
Ramael’s piloting on the way in was energetic. The passengers weren’t sure whether he was trying to evade missiles, to show off his piloting skills to the people of Earth, or to give them a good ride. Or, perhaps, all three.
Ramael had no trouble at all in evading the missiles sent to blow him out of the sky. They did, indeed, explode. But by the time they did, they were at least a million kilometres from Earth. The pilots that scrambled to intercept him suddenly found themselves a thousand kilometres or more away from where they had been a moment before.
Hazael turned a switch, and broadcast on a lot of radio frequencies at once. “That was not very kind of you. If anyone attacks us again, we will be forced to defend ourselves actively,” he said.
No-one took up the offer. And so, Ramael flew the ’mobile ostentatiously over Washington, and brought it in to land on the White House lawn.
The incumbent was away, having been Pulled to the Punishment Pit. It was easy to imagine the hordes of scurrying officials trying to work out what to do. But Hazael chose to make life simple for them.
“I’m from the Company for Galactic Advancement, and I’m here to help you,” he broadcast. “Will someone who has authority to speak for the people of this country please come out of that palace, and parley with us?”
After a short delay, two bureaucrats that had drawn the shortest straws came out. Hazael, in his pink robe, and two white-robed Americans from among the trainees, got out of the ’mobile.
“I,” said Hazael to the bureaucrats, “am Hazael of the Seraphim. And this gentleman and lady are two of your own. They have been trained in the Galactic way of doing things. We have brought them here so they can help the best of your leaders, and all good people on your planet, move Earth societies into the Galactic way of peace, prosperity and justice.
“I must warn you, do not do them any harm, or allow anyone else to harm them. Neither I nor my pilot would be at all pleased if anything bad happened to them. I am sure you already have some idea of what we can do if we need to. And my project managers also can punish wrongdoers most harshly, if they wish. Think about what happened recently to your president and his predecessor.
“Is that clear? Do you agree to protect this gentleman and lady, and to let them access your leaders and advise them?”
The bureaucrats hesitated. Did they believe Hazael and his friends really could do what they threatened? Eventually, “Yes, he can,” one of them murmured. The other nodded to Hazael.
“Good,” said Hazael. “Let us drink a toast to seal our agreement.”
Another white-robed trainee came out of the ’mobile, bearing a tray with five glasses of Seraphim red wine. He offered them to the two bureaucrats, then to Hazael and the two trainees. He went back inside.
Hazael raised his glass. “To humans as members of the Galaxy!” he said, and drained the glass. The two trainees repeated the toast and the action.
After a pause, “Who could say no?” said one of the bureaucrats. And they both drained their glasses.
Hazael bowed to the others, and re-entered the Seraphimobile. Ramael gave the warning cry of “Sit back,” and took it off. Straight up for fifty metres or so, then the nose lifted and the ’mobile powered upwards and to the east, turning, weaving and occasionally looping as it went.
“Show-off,” said Hazael to Ramael, who beamed.
In the first day’s work, 12 hours or so, they dropped off about a dozen of the fifty-nine first wave trainees in their own countries. Without subjecting its passengers to uncomfortable accelerations, the ’mobile could get from anywhere on Earth to anywhere else in a little over an hour. So they had time to visit Europe as well as the Americas.
On that first day, they used, as their targets, presidential palaces and similar haunts of ruling élites and their hangers-on. So, the ceremony was similar each time, although sometimes the trainees had to interpret. The only effect the repeated doses of wine seemed to have on Hazael, was that he became a little more verbose each time.
Ramael had told the trainees about the third wave. He explained that those being dropped off first were considered the most likely to remain safe, even without a third-wave member in their country. He told them that the later drop-offs – and those in the second wave – would often be accompanied by a sponsor from the third wave, who was likely to be close to, or even possibly in, power.
After a good day’s work, they returned to Washington for the night. A tycoon had radioed Hazael and offered rooms for the party in his five-star hotel. The trainees were glad, because they felt a strong need to stretch out in bed for a while.
The ’mobile simply landed on the roof of the hotel. The owner greeted the trainees cordially, and in return was offered a ride in the ’mobile the next day. Ramael and Hazael told him that they did not need to sleep, and so preferred to remain in the ’mobile. No-one from the government dared to bother them.
As the days unfolded, the trainees of the first wave were gradually unloaded. As time went on, the drop-offs became far less public. Though, whenever the ’mobile came flying low near a neighbourhood, there was no shortage of people coming out to see if it landed, and if it did, to mark where it landed and who came out.
Ramael had a list from me, of who he should look to drop off where and when. But he had full authority to make changes as needed. And trainees sometimes wanted to be dropped off somewhere I had not expected. This meant a fairly substantial admin task for someone in the ’mobile itself. Knowing that she was to be among the very last to be dropped off, Melinda had volunteered to be the one to keep track of what they had achieved, and what they still had to do.
The third wave of sponsors, and the second wave of trainees, were Pushed from Perinent into the ’mobile while it was at rest relative to the Earth, then taken to their drop-off points. Each night, those remaining took advantage of the Washington tycoon’s offer, or of one of a number of similar offers from hotel owners in other countries.
At least, that was the theory. But, as had happened with the Brjemych, there were some troubles. There was unrest in a number of countries, particularly in tropical South America, the Middle East and parts of Africa. And there were places, where even Pulling the main culprits to the Pit had not loosened the grip of tyrannical governments.
We had agreed that Ramael would not, initially, interfere unless the ’mobile was threatened or a full-scale war was about to be started. We would try first to deal with these problems from the Perinent end, by Pulling more bad individuals to the Pit, or potential leaders to be briefed and sent back. Only if that failed would we send Ramael in to assist one side or the other.
But otherwise, things went well. No-one made any attempt to attack the ’mobile, or anyone from it. And a swathe of the media, at last, started to tell the truth. John and Galina’s bombshell had had its effect. People knew instinctively that what was happening was so big, that it couldn’t be ignored, or hand-waved or politicked away.
Change for the better was in the air.