" William, we're going to be departing for Ferni-1a soon. I'd like to meet you with in my office."

Saying that, Robert Honda left the room.

Kirie sighed deeply and leaned back.

" Is something wrong?" William asked her.

Whispers around.

" It's nothing," she replied.

Whispers around.

" You look upset," he pointed out mildly.

" It's nothing, William," she reiterated.

" Do you want to talk later when we're free?" he asked.

" I don't have any free hours today," she replied. " The orientation for cadets goes on until almost bedtime."

" Oh, that's right..." His voice trailed off in consternation. " I'm going to be so lost without you, Kirie."

" It's not like I'll be completely gone," she said.

" You're going to be here on the Technologica with Dad, though," he said. " I don't know anybody where I'm going. And I'm supposed to be leading them."

" ... You should be more proud of yourself," she replied. " You're starting off as a captain. It"s really unusual for humans our age, straight out of academy."

William found himself at a loss, unable to explain why that was exactly the problem.