"I can't believe the nerve of those people!"
It is morning. Two teenagers are sitting at the breakfast table in the robust wooden farmhouse. The two are brother and sister, the only two children in the Lithus family. The farm is the only one remaining in the small town, probably because it lies in the hillside a bit outside the town center. A small road down the hill is visible from the kitchen window. It is too narrow for two cars to meet, but then again you don't normally meet cars driving up here.
The angry one is the oldest, a boy of 17, muscular for his age and with brown hair and hazel eyes. To make it even more clear what he thinks, he is scrunching the local newspaper into a ball and throwing it across the room. "They think they can do whatever they want to common people, just because their grandfather was an angel!"
"Whatever they want? Like, go to high school?"
"That's easy for you to say. You're not the one who gets your school ruined. Besides, you adore the pretty-boy."
"No matter what I or you think, he has the right to go to a public high school. And ours is the closest."
"Look Trine, it is quite bad enough that they have to live in the mountains straight inland from here. Tourists and weirdos all year round. But coming to our school! Can you imagine the circus? There will be camera teams in the classrooms, paparazzi in the restrooms, hidden microphones everywhere. The world's most famous boy coming to mingle with common humans for the first time in history. Can you imagine?"
"Not like that! That not the kind of imagination I'm talking about. Besides, you're only 15. It's not like you would have a chance even if you met him, which you won't. Besides he may be gay for all we know. He's certainly prettier than you."
"I did not know you could judge prettiness in boys..."
"That's not what we're talking about!"
"Yes it is. Tom Lithus, the world's leading pretty boy expert!"
"You think that is funny?"
"Hilarious! I'm totally going to tell all the girls in class you said that."
"I am totally going to spank your ..."
"How about spanking some pretty boys?"
"I don't have time for this! I'm off to school, and if I even see that fluffy angel boy, I'm gonna tell him exactly what I think about him!"
After the boy has stormed out, Trine picks up the newspaper and smooths it. She looks at the picture of the slim blond teenage boy and smiles dreamily. She already has that picture in her scrapbook, of course. It's not like the local paper would have an original photo. Still, it is a beautiful picture, as they all are. Her eyes barely touch the headline:
"Betelgeuse" to Sugar Hills High School!
THAT SAME MORNING, straight inland from Sugar Hills and the Lithus Place farm. The Starborn Manor, awe-inspiring in its simple yet massive form, marble softly gleaming in the diffuse brightness of the morning sun reflected from the mountain tops. The building stands on top a round grassy hill in the middle of a pristine green valley, grass giving way to trees that continue halfway up the majestic Norwegian mountains, until the steepness is too much even for the tenacious small birches.
Inside the manor, a woman of stunning beauty is looking over a teenage boy. Her son, as should be obvious from the silky blond hair they share, and the exquisitely balanced details of face and body, radiating beauty that most humans can only crudely hope to copy. This is a beauty that cannot quite be captured in a photograph, although these give a hint. But it is like a light that radiates from the soul within, taking on the color of the perfectly proportioned bodies and the balance of every movement, as if they were stained-glass windows conveying the light of a higher world.
"Mommy, I have met humans before. The Lees and the Johnsons and Murti and Aunt Jocelyne are human, right? The Hosts when we are abroad. Not to mention that Dad is human!"
"True, but they are special humans. One in a million, they are chosen by fate and drawn to us. Humans of extraordinary honesty, purity and depth of spirit, servants of fate, drawn in by the same Heritage that protects us from the corrupted ones."
"Well, the Heritage will protect me, you know. And Johnson will take care of the house. Besides, I will be here every weekend and probably many nights in between. It's not like I'm moving to Mars." The boy smiles, and she smiles back.
"I know, Ben. But even though I am half Visitor, I am still a mother. Just seeing you before me, I wish that we could be together forever."
"We will, Mommy. Together for all eternity. But now I have to go to the human world. Do I go with your blessings?"
"Always." They embrace, and she strokes the thick blond hair as she kisses his forehead one last time before they part.
There is a subtle irony in this, that the people who live closest to the school are usually the last to arrive. This means that Tom is somewhat early, although later than those who come with the school bus from the Valley. It is comforting to see the familiar faces. Although Sugar Hills has grown a bit every year, it is still a small town where everybody knows everybody. And Tom has seen most of these since grade school, although classes are different now in high school. Still, there are Jonas and Andrea who became his friends during the first weeks in grade school.
"Ah! The farmer has arrived! A new school year can begin." Jonas flashes him a friendly grin.
"Seems we are stuck together again, huh?" Tom puts down his school bag.
"You've heard the news too, right?" says Andrea. She seems way too happy for the topic at hand.
"The angel boy? Yeah."
Jonas recites like reading a book: "Benjamin Betelgeuse Starborn, son of the world's only superheroine, the half-alien Anita Antares Starborn. Possessed of unknown mystical powers inherited from their alien ancestors, the Starborn family is the living heritage of the Visitors who saved our world from the brink of total war."
"I wish they would drop those silly star names though" says nearby Jurgen. "It's pretty clear by now that the Visitors came from an alternate time stream rather than another planet."
"I think it is kinda cute" protests Andrea.
"Don't tell me you're infatuated with the boy as well" says Tom and shudders. "My little sister is like, oooh Benjamin, oooh!"
The boys laugh, but Andrea does not. She starts instead to study the contents of her knapsack.
More students continue to trickle into the room, but no camera teams, somewhat to Tom's surprise. Perhaps it is not legal to shoot video on the school, but he had not expected the media to bow to such formalities, not on such a grand occasion. The bell rings, the classroom fills almost entirely with students, and finally the teacher arrives. Mr Stranden, a bookish man in his thirties with a quiet dignity that seems slightly out of place in a place such as these. He is generally rumored to take his job seriously, which is a pity when his job is teaching in high school. Even a largely suburban high school such as Sugar High.
"Good morning, youngsters! And welcome to a new year with new exciting opportunities to learn and develop your young skills. Let us first go through the class list to see if all are present."
There is a soothing normalcy in this at least. Tom can finally relax. He must admit his imagination has blown things out of proportions. He looks out the window and there are no blimps with photographers and tele-lenses. He smiles at his own folly. But he does not smile too broadly, for he is sitting in the second row. Even though there are only a few desks empty, and even though the classroom mostly fills up from the rear, he prefers to sit up here. Not that he is a teacher's pet or overachiever or anything, but there is simply too much distraction back there. That's where the ADD crowd sits, as he likes to call them. There is always whispering and muttering and passing of paper scraps of dubious contents. Besides, back there are mostly boys. His tastes run in a somewhat different direction, and the front rows are heavy with girls. In fact, he could have sworn that Andrea's feminine charms have grown noticeably over the summer holiday, not that he has any intents on her of course, they are childhood friends and all. But she was always skinny and late to develop for her age, so it's probably all natural...
What's with the silence in the room? Did anyone just die?
"Which is" continues Stranden, "none other than Benjamin Betelgeuse Starborn! For our class to receive such a honor is unique in the history of the world!"
Starborn? Here? In this class?
The door opens, and a young boy comes in. The silence is absolute.