"Sit down, Jay," Zed told him as he stepped into the massive office. Zed then took a thick dossier from his large steel file cabinet and dropped it on Jay's lap. It was as thick as a small telephone book.
Jay set the sun medallion necklace down on the small table and quickly looked inside the dossier and flipped. He tried to keep his hands from shaking and his heart from racing, but to little effect.
"So this is my REAL file," he said.
"That would be correct," Zed answered.
There were pictures of his mother near the front. There was his birth certificate, showing that he was born at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, January 3, 1972.
There was another document stapled to this birth certificate, official looking and made of a greenish parchment, printed in what was clearly an extraterrestrial language - but the signature on the bottom was his mother's and it was in English.
Jay held this document up. "WHAT is this?" he asked Zed.
"That's your birth certificate," Zed told him in his usual brusque manner. "The other one."
Jay sat frozen with an incredulous stare, for about two seconds. Already, this was not looking good for the "I can't be an alien" theory.
Then he looked back inside the file.
Jay saw some of his baby pictures and a certificate of his lifetime membership in something called the "Sunshine People Social Aid and Pleasure Club." The insignia on the certificate was the same design as his medallion. Some of the writing in the watermark was in the same alien language of the greenish document.
Jay still sat stunned as he browsed through his history for the first time. Zed looked at Jay's facial expressions as he sat at the large silvery desk across from where Jay and Kay were seated.
Kay looked at Jay and began to speak.
"Remember on Thursday when you came and got me from that post office, slick? And I didn't believe you at first? You said I had a feelin' deep down inside me, like there's something more, somethin' up in the sky, and I can't stop thinkin' about it, something about who I really am."
Kay was smiling at this point. beaming like a proud father watching his son's college graduation. Kay rarely smiled, so this alone caused Jay some concern and caution. Kay then said, "Well, now it's time to return the favor, son."
Jay looked at Kay with an overly annoyed expression as he desperately tried to cover his nervousness. "Just...what in the hell are you talkin' about, Kay?"
"The Light of Zartha wasn't the only thing I was protecting," Kay replied.
Jay's face shriveled up into another puzzled frown. But he was silent. And his heart rate was going up.
After a second or two, Zed spoke. "Jay, remember how when you first came to us, you didn't believe in aliens at first?"
"Yeah," Jay said, cautiously, looking up slowly at Zed.
"Well, kid," Zed said, "I have some good news and bad news for you. The good news is, YOU'RE an alien."
Jay's eyes widened slightly. A chill slammed into his body. He then stared again at Zed for a second, silently. Then he looked at Kay. Then he looked once again at Zed.
Jay said, "And the bad news?"
"You're an alien," Zed replied sternly.
"When we ran our initial tests on you when you were recruited, Jay, we were able to trace your DNA back to one of the ancient divine kings of the planet of Zartha. This king was a massively powerful alien, at least Class 3C, maybe higher. Apparently this alien came to earth towards the end of the 12th century...that would be about 800 years ago. He went to a small village in West Africa, and, according to the legend, the local people worshipped him as a sun god - and gave him wives as tribute." Zed's look was stern but patient.
Jay couldn't believe what he was hearing. This was all confirming his dreams with his mom and with Laura. Momma was exactly, shockingly right about the whole damn thing.
What a sobering realization. I really AM an ALIEN.
Jay thought to himself: These dudes sure played a dirty trick on me all this time. The dirtiest trick of all. I thought these guys were my friends. Kay's like a father to me - the father I never knew. Why would he keep that from me? Is there something he's scared of?
"Well, it's right nice of y'all to tell me after 30 YEARS," Jay said with sarcasm.
"Actually, it's closer to 25, Jay," Zed replied.
Kay spoke up. "It's all just as we suspected, slick. Even back when you were growing up in New Orleans bending spoons...we could tell even then..." Kay began shaking his head sadly.
The look on Jay's face was now incredulous. His eyes were glowing bright red, like a stoplight on Fifth Avenue at 9pm on a cold winter's night. But his voice was low and calm. "What do you mean tell...and how da hell did YOU know about my spoon bending?"
Kay answered him. "Well, Jay, I guess I haven't been tellin' you the whole truth this whole time, You see - "
"No, Kay, you of all people certainly have NOT been telling me the truth," Jay shot back. His face began to get red, and so did his eyes, again. Zed and Kay tried not to notice those eyes, red with almost hellish anger.
Zed quickly stepped in; he assumed the normal "morning rundown" tone of voice. "We've been tracking your family since the MIB program was incepted, Jay. You personally have been in our files from birth. Your family is almost full-blood Zarthan. They assimilated into the general population centuries ago. The descendants of that sun god, that king I was talking about, the offspring of the alien's human wives, manifested signs of some pretty drastic genetic mutations - a lot of this is in the local village folklore to this day in that part of West Africa. Several hundred of those descendants were eventually brought here to this country as slaves. Those people are your DIRECT ancestors, Jay.
"A LOT of weird phenomena happened in your family during slavery, and much of that is documented. Many of your relatives are in New Orleans, where you were born and raised. Not long after the Civil War, your ancestors formed a secret society in the 7th Ward, where all the ancient Zarthan customs and rituals were passed down. That society blended into the regular Afro-Creole community there and even built floats for Mardi Gras - they still do to this day.
"Now, the society operates a mutual social aid group - those were common among Black people in New Orleans from the very early days. The one your family runs is more like a front organization, an official arm of the Zarthan government. Your boyhood home is the headquarters of that society and serves as the primary Zarthan embassy on Earth.
"Now as you may have figured out by now, your mother is not deceased. She is alive and well, Jay. Your mother is the reigning Queen of the Planet of Zartha. She is in power right now, running the affairs of the entire Zarthan Empire from a single cell at St. Gabriel Women's Penitentiary outside Baton Rouge. We put her there in exile when you were six years old. She's been there ever since. We outfitted her cell with millions of dollars worth of equipment...We are in contact with her on a regular basis and have been for 25 years...
"Oh, and by the way, you are next in line to be King."
Jay looked up at Zed with a cold stare. He gave a sarcastic laugh. "...King?" he asked.
"That would be correct...Your Highness," Zed answered.
Jay stared again at Zed, incredulously. Then he looked down in the folder at an old photo of a Mardi Gras float dated 1976.
Seeing this picture began triggering more of Jay's long-neuralyzed memories. Unbeknownst to him, the renewed brain activity made his eyes flash a quick neon red in response.
"Holy shit, I think I remember this...Who took this picture?"
"That would be me, slick," Kay replied. Jay then looked at Kay with a disbelieving scowl.
There was a big sculpture of the sun medallion at the front of the float. It was draped with red, white and blue bunting to celebrate the Bicentennial. About 6 or 7 men and women, wearing T-shirts with the Bicentennial logo on it, were throwing oranges to the crowd. They were all wearing necklaces like Jay had.
The young Jay could be seen in the background, sitting on the back of the float, grinning from ear to ear.
"Damn, I used to love riding on the floats..." Another tear rolled down Jay's cheek.
Zed continued. "Jay, we have files on each and every one of your relatives going back 40, 50 years. It was a BIG challenge to keep them separate from the main database so you wouldn't find out...but we did – until you almost hacked your ass in last night."
Jay looked up at Zed and raised a suspiciously disdainful eyebrow. "I would have, Zed, but the power went out. You have something to do with a blackout late on Friday night, early Saturday morning?"
"No, YOU did. That's the point, Jay. But I'll get to that in a minute. Let me continue. You are of royal Zarthan lineage. You are not a commoner. And part of the reason why your Zarthan bloodline is so pure is because of a phenomenon roughly translated into English as 'the Knowing'".
"The Knowing...whoo, sounds kinda spooky...what the hell is that supposed to be?" His voice was dripping with burning sarcasm.
Zed replied, "When two Zarthans of the opposite gender and of the right age meet, there is a tremendous bio-chemical and electromagnetic bonding that immediately takes place. This bonding increases exponentially. If left unchecked, it could trigger a cataclysmic reaction that would result in the total and complete annihilation of any and all physical reality nearby. A supernova-caliber cataclysm."
"Damn.." The sarcasm gave way to genuine wonder for a second or two.
"A less potent form of the Knowing happens between parent and child. We know how close you were to your mother as a kid, Jay".
Jay stared at Zed with an even colder look now. He turned to Kay. "Kay, PLEASE answer me this, man...why didn't you tell me all this when I joined up? You did the testing on me, just like the rules say to do. You guys KNEW. Y'all KNEW, from the get-go, that I was an alien. I almost didn't join up in the first place!
"You lied to me."
"Well, son, the bottom line is...you weren't ready," Kay replied. "And if you hadn't have joined us, we would have still kept a CLOSE eye on you. You KNOW that, son."
"That does NOT matter, Kay. You guys LIED to me. Both of you. All this time. You straight up LIED to me." Jay's voice was now getting louder and louder as he spoke. "You made me live my whole entire life – like it was all one big lie." Tears began to stream down Jay's face.
There was a strained silence for a couple more seconds.
Zed then noted, slowly, "The code says that when we discover a recruit is more than 10 percent genetically non-human, and they don't already know, we don't disclose. You know that, Jay.
Jay hung his head down. "MIB Procedural Code 71L/41B", he sighed. He did know all the MIB protocols, like the back of his hand. What hurt was realizing that they applied to HIM just as much as any other life form he was sworn to control. He looked up again at Zed.
"Look, Zed, you were the first one I saw in this building. That was when I first came here, back in, what was it, '97, when Kay handed me that business card. What I can't believe is that you knew. You knew all about me. All the damn time."
"Correct, Jay," Zed replied. "The truth is we ALWAYS planned on making you an agent. When you were in that Interview Room that afternoon, five years ago, you WERE going to be the ONLY one selected that day. Despite my reservations.
"You see, Jay, I knew that since you were a Zarthan royal, you'd have a real problem with authority - and that as a result, you might just find out about your true identity. That would have been a real bad situation. That would have been an immediate Code Red Level 1 right then and there.
"Your mom's got big authority issues, too. Your mom was ALWAYS a hard one to control..."
With this, Zed glared quickly at Kay, who looked down and cleared his throat, as if he was somehow embarrassed by this revelation. Jay just shook his head. Zed continued. "Anyway, those military guys who interviewed along with you that day - just window dressing, to make you believe you were actually competing for the job, when the job was YOURS all along. That was the plan.
"Listen...your mother is a woman who contains within her an extreme measure of power. Political power as well as pure, quantitative electromagnetic power. Your mother is a Class 2AA Light Being. Laura is a class 2A Light Being. You are, at least right now, a Class 2A-. That's one below Laura. You were always at that level. Even as a kid."
Jay looked down as another pang of shock flashed within him. "That...I guess that sounds pretty much like Level 1 all right," he said.
"Well, yeah! You and your whole immediate family are a Level 1 threat to the sovereignty of Earth. We had to keep your mother in check and keep you in check. It was an issue of planetary security, Jay. You know about threat assessment and threat containment. The ultimate priority of this organization YOUR entire life has been threat containment - to make sure YOU were NEVER made aware of your true identity or to be encouraged by your mother to do something crazy like be king of Zartha, and as such be positioned to virtually take over the entire civilized universe."
"You mean I could take over the universe if I wanted to?" He was half-sarcastic, half-sincere with this question.
"Jay, you are Class 2A-. We spent 25 years trying to figure out exactly HOW to KEEP you from taking over the universe," Zed shot back.
"Son," Kay turned to him with that old fatherly look, "I never was able to tell you this, but the god-honest truth is, I've been assigned to track your family since I was a rookie. And I've been personally following YOU since you were three-and-a-half years old."
Jay's face got red and his eyes glowed yet again. "Do you mean to tell me...you knew me since I was a KID? Tracking me...like I'm some damn CEPHALOID or something! You got some damn NERVE! I should have left your ass in that damn post office neuralyzed!"
Kay ignored the anger and continued. "We knew that there was a big, big possibility that you're the Sun of Zartha. Now, our worst fears are confirmed." At this point Kay rose from the chair and walked to the back of the office. He picked up a pile of newspapers and walked back over.
"Son, look at what happened when Laura left," Kay said, plopping down a stack of 2 days' worth of the Post, the Daily News and Newsday on the small table in front of Zed's desk.
MANHATTAN ALL SOGGED UP
THE BIG APPLESAUCE
WELCOME TO SEATTLE, NY
RAIN, RAIN GO THE HELL AWAY
Subways Shut Down under a Foot of Rainfall
Donald Trump Complains Massive Rainfall is Ruining his Hair
Monsoon Season Comes Six Months Early
East River Reaches Flood Stage for First Time since 1854
Yankees to Play Next Homestand at Madison Square Garden
Jay's stunned demeanor deepened. "OK...ok...look, I know I was sad about the girl, the saddest I've ever, ever been over a female...I wasn't even half this sad over Elle and I almost damn near proposed to Elle...I kept having these dreams about her and stuff, about Laura, that is..., but...you mean to tell me I did all THIS?"
"You were cryin' a river, son. The East River. Literally." Zed had his usual "look at what you did NOW" look on his face. "We had to cheer you up, Jay, to avert a major natural disaster here in the Tri-State area," he continued sternly. "Now that this Knowing is going on full force inside you, you are adversely affecting the local weather patterns for all of Greater New York City through your emotions – you're changing the ionization of the atmosphere by cryin' your butt off and makin' all these damn thunderstorms and flash floods!
"And what's more, kid, being Class 2A-, you've got as much potential for major cataclysmic electromagnetic energy release as Laura does. That was part of that ultimate Level 1 threat, son. And that's a critical situation we can't risk."
Jay picked up the sun medallion, which was glowing red again and beginning to smoke. It had scorched the tabletop slightly. The tabletop was solid titanium. Kay noticed that.
"Just like Laura's bracelet. Your energy's activating that thing and that thing is activating you, slick." Kay gestured towards the medallion. "Does that hurt when you hold it?"
"No...no, I thought it would, it's pretty damn hot...but it doesn't hurt one bit," Jay said, softly. The medallion fit in Jay's hand, and his skin glowed where it made contact with the alien material.
"Good, 'cause it ain't supposed to," Kay said. "2A's are genetically capable of withstanding temperatures well above 17,000 degrees Farenheit"
Jay stared straight ahead and sighed. "I'm a goddamn 2A minus. All my life. So I'm a sun-god. Damn. Holy mother of god."
Kay continued. "We tried our best to keep you contained, Jay. You know that video we saw at Tapeworm, that geek manager's apartment - that didn't go into the whole story, Jay. The original plan was to take both the Sun AND the Light of Zartha off planet."
Jay's face froze again. He quickly looked at Zed. "Zed, when I told you about Serleena's ship, Wednesday night, from the recon site...you sounded all surprised that the Light of Zartha was still here...but you KNEW she was still here...you even knew it was Laura the whole damn time.
"You at least could have saved us a night of rippin' and runnin' all over New York lookin' for clues."
"Well, I wasn't gonna spill the beans right then and there, kid, not in front of all the employees," Zed replied. "I had to buy some time. That's why I sent you and Frank to go get Kay. While you were on the road, I called your your mom and let her know we were in crisis mode. I had to tell her that you and Laura made contact. She was already informed about Ben, and she knew Serleena and Scrad were on the loose looking for the Light, so she was busy getting her crisis team into action."
Jay now looked at Kay and lowered his head down. "Why wasn't - why wasn't the Sun of Zartha taken off planet?" Jay asked, almost embarrassed to refer to himself by this mythical name.
Kay looked Jay straight in the eye and continued. "Well, with all the civil unrest going on back on Zartha, and Serleena on the loose, I couldn't in good conscience send you kids to Zartha with all that shit goin' on. I couldn't do that to you kids. I couldn't do that to Angie."
Then Kay pulled out his lighter and his Marlboros, which really surprised and shocked Jay, since he persuaded Kay to quit smoking soon after he was recruited.
Kay lit a cigarette, took a drag, took a deep breath and went on. "Angie sent Lauranna to Iowa. They knew Serleena was hot on the trail so we arranged to basically set up our meeting with her as a decoy to throw Serleena off. Well, it worked, but we lost Lauranna. Meanwhile, Laura was safe and sound the whole time, in YOUR house in New Orleans. It's all in the reports there, slick, look at 'em and follow along."
In his file, Jay flipped through pages of notarized MIB reports from 1977 and 1978 that seemed to corroborate Kay's story point for point. Kay went on.
"Your mom was pretty damn pissed that Lauranna was a casualty, slick. She blamed me for it and said she was going to send troops from Zartha to arrest me, throw me in the royal pokey and have me stand trial for negligence. And she got even more pissed when we proposed putting HER in protective exile until the danger passed. Those were some tough moments, slick, your momma's one tough ass bitch when she wants to be."
"NOW you know where you get your COCKY-ass attitude from," Zed interjected to Jay. "Your mother almost blew this planet to smithereens over YOUR ass!" Zed pointed at Jay excitedly.
"I'll be sure to send you a bottle of Zarthan champagne for your birthday," Jay said, with an awkward, incredulous frown.
"I could actually use some scotch - right about now," Zed replied.
Kay continued. "Angie was under a lot of stress, her planet was on the verge of what could have been a devastating civil war and she was countin' on us to help her out, so she was gonna be pissed about what happened. It took some long, hard negotiations, but she came around and decided to work with us.
"So we took Laura, neuralyzed her to wipe her memories up to that point, and placed her in a group home we run up in the South Bronx. Ben, the pizza guy, was actually one of your mom's top councillors, she insisted he come on down and be a guardian for Laura, teach her about all the Light stuff and all that, so that was a part of the deal we had to go along with. We sold the building to the Zarthan government. The title is in YOUR name."
"Holy shit, is that what this is?" Jay found the deed to the building towards the back of the file. It was signed in 1984 by Angie, who wrote Jay's name as beneficiary upon turning 18.
"You can keep the property if you want, or we can work out a deal and buy it back from you now, or we can lease it from you, whatever, and run it as a covert op," Zed said.
Jay looked up at Kay with a renewed expression of slight shock. "And you KNEW about this...Damn, it's not every day a brother finds out he owns corner real estate in SoHo," he said.
Kay continued. "We took your mom into protective custody and placed her in indefinite Level One quarantine –"
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Sun of Zartha