The door closing to a white office.

A thin, stiffly dressed blonde boy stood in front of the frame. This was William, at age twelve.

" Social Liaison Officer Yufredrewas. I have a question for you."

The middle-aged Lunafreyan at the desk, working on something else, looked up, surprised.

" Oh, William... This is the first time you've been here by yourself," she said. " Is something the matter?"

He did not move from where he stood.

" Kirie said she's going home for the winter break," he said. " The academy will be empty, as other students are going home as well."

" ... Kirie?" Yufredrewas inquired politely.

" Kirie Honda is my friend," William said. " I wanted to know if I could go home with her."

" That might be difficult," Yufredrewas responded.

" Why?"

Yufredrewas made an expression of mild distress, as though looking for a way to explain a difficult concept.

" Well, William, since you're a ward of this sector...." She sighed and went to bring something up on her monitor, typing. " It had already been arranged for you to stay in the dormitories over break... General Masterson has already forwarded us the payment for..."

" I don't want to stay here alone," he protested. " I want to go home with Kirie. Call Commodore General Honda. I don't know General Masterson. I don't even know what he looks like, I don't want him to pay for me to be alone."

She looked at him with a bit of surprise.

" ... You're being unusually insistent on this," she said.

" Please call Commodore General Honda," William repeated.