The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
Enter Jonathan Foster and Mason Grey
Foster Look over there. Do you see that?
Grey What is it, Chief?
Foster Way out there, to the east. Think they could be here already?
Grey What, the engineers? No, I only see the Mirage. Let me have the binoculars.
Grey Hey, look at that. There is something glinting.
Foster Do you think it's them?
Grey Well, it's getting closer. Looks like it's rising right out of the Mirage itself.
Foster [taking the binoculars] You know, eleven years of my life on this colony, and I still can't tell if there's actually something out there or if this desert is just feeding off my imagination. It's separating into smaller shapes. I think it's the trucks.
Grey It's too early. I thought they were supposed to get here around dinnertime.
Foster Well, those shapes won't reach us for hours.
Grey How many are there, do you say?
Foster Four or five maybe. Oh, listen, my thumbpad is vibrating. The trucks have sent their registration and license information. Six total. Federal property.
Grey They're here.
Foster [raising communicator to lips] They're here.
Grey What should I do?
Foster Make sure the water and sewage systems are cleaned properly, and see that the solar panels and backup generators are checked, along with the wind turbines. Have Dave test the voltage in the enclosure—make sure he records it. Oh, and tell the cooks to start on something special for tonight.
Grey All right, I'll see to it.
Foster Oh, and Mason?
Grey Yes Chief?
Foster Tell your boy not to worry.
Foster Of course. A Beta Generation has never known a minute of his life without the enclosure running. This'll scare him half to death.
Grey Thanks, John. I'll see that the kid's okay.