"Level ONE?" Jay asked with another shocked and puzzled look. "Wasn't that a little MUCH, Kay? You guys say she got put in a PRISON? She didn't commit a crime!"

"Level One with some slight modifications," Kay replied. "She is the recognized head of state of a sovereign planet, so we had to respect that. We put her in the maximum security women's correctional facility in St. Gabriel, Louisiana. We beefed up security so Serleena or her folks couldn't get to her.

“And as for you,” Kay continued, looking Jay straight in the eye here, “we evacuated you after you came home from school that day.”

“I think I remember some of that now,” Jay said coldly.

Kay went on. “We neuralyzed you to wipe all of your childhood memories, changed your name, moved you here to New York in a CH-47D, put you into one of our group homes in Brooklyn, got you into Junior ROTC, guided you into the United States Air Force as a space weaponry specialist and after that we guided you into a career in law enforcement."

“You put my ass in the APP??!”

“Alien Protection Program,” Zed replied. “Both you and Laura.”

Jay shot a frustrated look ay Kay and Zed. “Everybody just planned out my WHOLE entire life for me, huh? Y’all have some damn nerve. I always wondered why I never got sent to flight school even though I got perfect scores on the exam,” Jay mused dejectedly.

He flipped through the rest of the pages of reports. The tears continued to roll down and Jay stared straight ahead, absorbing the realization that his dreams, the visions of him and his mother, of him and his beloved Laura, were indeed the truth. He was actually talking in real time with both of them the past two days – telepathically through those dreams.

Kay went on. "One of the things we didn't count on was your growing so quickly into a leadership role in the organization. It was a matter of time before we would have had to disclose anyway, son, but the one thing happened that was our worst case-scenario: your falling in love with the Light of Zartha. Look at the Folk Beliefs page in the folder."

Jay slowly opened the folder yet again and found the page. It was dated July 1960.

"...The Book of S'aa prophesies in twenty-seven separate passages of the Great Knowing, the union between the Sun of Zartha and the Light of Zartha, a union of extreme metaphysical and geophysical implications. The union suggests either glorious resurrection for the Zarthan people (referred to as the Golden Age of Light), or massive cataclysmic destruction of the entire universe, depending upon the unfolded sequence of events...

Jay looked up at his two superiors. "My mom and Laura have been talking to me in my dreams the past couple of nights - I've actually visited them...spent time with them, in the dream state. And I've been hearing their voices in my head."

Zed and Kay looked at each other quickly on hearing that. Zed jotted down a note on his ubiquitous legal note pad. "Telltale signs, Jay," Zed said matter-of-factly.

Jay went on. "They've been telling me to prepare to go to Zartha. I don't – I, it's real hard to assimilate all this information. This is the shock of my LIFE, guys."

Kay looked at him intently now. "Jay, listen to me, listen good. We're in a crisis situation here, just like with Laura. If you don't leave here and go to Zartha on that egg thing out in the shop by the end of the workday, this planet will suffer a massive planetwide Level One EMP in 96 hours. YOU will be the only thing left standing, son."

Jay just stared at Kay for a second more. And more tears rolled down his cheeks. Jay was not accustomed to showing so much emotion. This Knowing business was hard stuff.

Then he glanced once again at the cover of the dossier. The cover said "LEVEL 1 SECURITY CONFIDENTIAL", which meant that only Zed and maybe Kay had access to it...until now.

He pondered a while ... and then he said, "and Laura knew?"

Zed said, "There's an ambassador we work with, your mother's chief of staff. She's one of your cousins. She's in the file. Right here..." Zed walked over to Jay's seat. He pulled out a picture of Shakita from the middle of the folder. She was standing next to a red Chrysler 300. Agent N from Forensics was standing right next to her with his arms around her. This made another chill of shock and surprise slam into Jay, for he had scolded him some days earlier for leaving a huge dead squid-like being in the middle of the central hall.

"Don't tell me..." Jay said. "Enn is Zarthan?"

"He's the son of one of your mom's top-level councillors," Zed said. "You've been treating him like shit ever since he got here, but he knows you're the crown prince and his future king, so he worships the ground you walk on. Literally."

Jay cast his head down in embarrassment. "I hope Momma didn't hear about that," he said.

"Better get another bottle of champagne ready," Zed continued. "Anyway, his fianceé, this ambassador, a young lady by the name of Shakita, basically briefed Laura from the moment she arrived on Zartha. In addition, they found your DNA in her bloodstream and made the match."

"My DNA?...I...I only kissed her once - well, she kissed me. That's all we ever did together."

"One kiss is enough with you people, Jay. Zarthans have a nasty habit of leaving their DNA around, easier than sick humans leave viruses."

Kay added, "Jay, listen, kid, let me tell you somethin'. Five years ago, I was specifically assigned to train you as my replacement, son. And all that time I did know about you. Yeah, you're damn right I knew. I knew even when you were a kid back in Bayou St. John that you had the right stuff. The right stuff, son.

"The things I know about you...well..."

Kay started to say something else, but Zed again cast a quick glance at him.

Then Kay smiled a warm smile at his protege, a smile that hid 35 years of memories of his dealings with the Tolan family. "What I'm tryin' to say is...You're a chip off the old block, Jay. You did damn good, kid. Damn good. You've made this organization proud. And you've made your momma proud, too."

Kay wanted to cry right now, but he held back. He went on.

"Your mother is a wonderful woman, Jay. The most extraordinary woman I have ever, and I mean EVER, had the honor of knowing, slick. She is so damn proud of you. We've given her top-level briefings on every move, every step you've made in this organization.

"But now she's callin' in her chips. A head of state can do that, Jay. A MOM can do that. Your mom says it's time for you to go to the next level. Marrying Laura's a major part of that next level...

"I knew I couldn't keep you guys apart forever. I tried like hell, but it didn't work...Damn it, son...and you know I wasn't plannin' on comin' back here."

Jay said, "OK...well, what if Zed never told me to deneuralyze you...what if we never figured out the clues? Zed wasn't gonna tell us. Your memories weren't all there just yet, your brain had to guess you couldn't have just known Laura was the Light..."

"Actually, slick, it was all back by the time you went on about 'old and busted' and 'new hotness'. Everything came back. Everything. You, Laura, your mom, everything."

Jay rolled his eyes upward on hearing this. "I can't believe this," he said. "You were lying through your damn teeth to me the whole...damn...night...had me goin' all over this damn town for nothin'."

Kay continued. "We were in crisis mode and we had to buy as much time as we could...and c'mon, son, do you really think I was gonna just come on out and TELL you you're a cosmic radioactive extraterrestrial sun god who owns a pizzeria worth about $3 million dollars? With headquarters breached and controlled by Serleena? You would have REALLY had a conniption fit then. YOU might have blown the planet up right then and there as pissed as you would have got."

Zed replied, "Ambassador Shakita was scheduled to come to MIB later THIS week, summon you and Laura. She'd get Agent Enn, he'd reveal his true identity to you, the two of them would break the news and evacuate the two of you to the family compound in Louisiana for a debriefing before taking you kids to the royal palace to start planning the wedding and the transfer of power. Enn even turned in his two-week notice in preparation for all this. He won't be neuralyzed, we're keeping him active when he goes back to Zartha.

"Now your mom planned for what would happen if YOU didn't figure the clues out, or if we didn't just spill the beans, or if we didn't bring Kay back, AND she was planning for Serleena's snooping around as a worst-case scenario. Your mother said she arranged for Laura to get a special medicinal substance. She called it crystonium."

"Crystonium?" Jay asked. "You mean made out of crystals?"

"Crystals. Zarthan crystals with a radioactive half-life about five times that of plutonium."

Jay's expression was incredulous again. "And you just...just let my momma send something like that down to Earth?"

"At this point, kid, I'm not quoting procedural code to Angie. I'm not making that serious a mistake. Anyway, Ben slipped it into her soda at work last week, we found the empty can in the back dumpster yesterday and ran an analysis...this neutralized her radioactivity and it would have held off the explosion for another week or so. The bracelet responds to her physical energy."

Jay smirked at Zed. "So...she...she wouldn't have blown planet Earth up that night at all? wanted Kay to come back, didn't you? He didn't have to come back for this, but you sent me up there to go get him wanted him..."

"Oh, hell, Jay, he had to come back and see you guys off! After 25 years I wasn't gonna let you weasel your way outta this one, Kay!" Zed cast another scowling glance at Kay.

Kay just grinned and took another drag from his Marlboro. "I'm glad I came back for this one, fellas. And you're right, Zed...I guess it was my destiny, too, to witness's like my kids are leaving the nest."

Kay then turned to Jay. "You know, Jay, your momma sure is one sneaky woman. Just like her to pull something like this, an operation this detailed. She was always doing weird things...special stuff...she doesn't leave many things out, slick."

Then Kay's eyes began to water, and he stared at Jay for a couple of seconds in silence.

Jay looked down, and then looked up at Kay again. "What, Kay?" Jay asked, a little annoyed at the stare.

"I dunno, it's like...almost the same feeling I get when I look at the stars...but this is even worse. Everytime I look at you, yeah, YOU...every single time I see you, hear you make those wisecracks...when I came back from the post all came back, Jay. When I see you, son, I see Angelique. The most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life, son...damnit, slick, why do all the good ones have to be aliens?" Kay's wistful smile here was pained, almost as if he was nothing more than a lonely man in love with a woman hopelessly out of reach, commiserating with another lonely man in love.

But Jay's face froze in startled surprise, hearing the very thought he had about Laura just a few nights ago, and then his face wrinkled up in another puzzled frown.

Kay just smiled again at him, knowingly. "Son, destiny has a way of sneakin' up on us like an armadillo at a campfire." Now the tears were beginning to roll down his face as well as Jay's.

Zed said, "Jay, take a look at the viewscreen. Then take a look at Laura's page in your dossier." Zed fired up the viewscreen. There was Laura, in a recorded message. She was dressed in the same sleeveless black blouse she wore at Ben's Pizza.

"Jason, it's me, baby. I miss you very much. I love you and I want to know that I had a lot of fun with you back in New York.

"Jason, hopefully, by now you have a more clear idea of your true identity."

Laura's voice and body language took on a slightly more authoritarian tone now. Jay instinctively paid attention.

"Your mother and I have been speaking with you in spirit for the past few days. Your mother has also been talking with me every night, transferring her memories into my mind so I would know more about you. This ain't a joke, baby. This shit is most definitely FOR REAL; I am what I am, and you are what you are. You were born into a secret society in Louisiana 30 years ago. Your MOTHER is the reigning queen of this planet. She rules Zartha from her place in exile back in Louisiana, inside St. Gabriel Women's Penitentiary.

"Jason, listen to me, baby. This is YOUR destiny I'm talking about, just as much as it is mine. You are the heir to the throne of Zartha. You are the Sun of Zartha. That means you are descended from a long line of humanoid sun gods with a lot of powerful radioactive sun energy. You're supposed to have a very high concentration of that sun energy.

"When we met in Ben's Pizza last Wednesday, that sun energy got activated inside of you. We came in close contact with one another and it started an ancient electromagnetic, biochemical mating process that I'm told only happens to us Zarthans. They call it the Knowing. It - it, well, it feels a lot like falling in love - but it's way, way more involved than that. The Knowing inside of you kicked in that night, Jay. And we started falling in love with each other. That's why you didn't neuralyze me after you took me out to that diner that night. It was subconscious. It was instinctual. You couldn't help it and you weren't supposed to.

"And because of that, just like with me, baby, you have to leave Earth. Earth can't handle your power, baby. Because of your age, your powers were starting to get very, very strong anyway, but they REALLY got activated when you came to Ben's and the Knowing kicked in, inside of you. You will eventually create a massive electromagnetic pulse that will blow up the Earth. It was just like with me, Jay.

"Now...they say a week ago they gave some powder to Ben to slip into my Mountain Dew, I always drink Mountain Dew at work and I always sit the can on the counter by the phone in the wanted to neutralize the Light energy inside me temporarily, so just in case you guys didn't figure all those clues out, the earth would have still been safe for a little while, and your mom would have sent someone to bring you and me to Zartha in a few days anyway, we would both have to quit our jobs, pack our stuff and move up here to the royal palace. Serleena kinda spoiled those plans," and here Laura, still mourning Ben, had to catch herself so she didn't start crying, "so now...we have to deal with it. But Jay, the bottom line is...your energy is getting way too unstable to remain on Earth. There is no choice. There is no time. You have to leave. And you have to leave now.

"I sent the transport, the same one you guys found for me that night on top of the building. It should be in the motor pool garage right now, waiting for you. You should have all your things in your crib packed and boxed up by now, the way we told you in the dreams we made you have. We will arrange to get all your stuff in a few days. In three weeks we will have a royal wedding and coronation here in the royal palace. Your mom will preside over it and transfer the official power and authority of the Zarthan empire over to us. The two of US, baby."

Laura's eyes began to tear up and that greenish-white glow shone in her eyes. Jay could see that from the window behind Laura, some rain sprinkles were beginning to fall.

"Jay, I found out that I'm a very special young lady. See, your mom and my mom made a promise to each other, 25 years ago. My mom's family runs a Chinese take-out place in New Orleans, you used to go there when you were little. My mom, this is kinda gross, she would eat from the same forks and chopsticks customers would use. That's how she collected male DNA from almost every ethnic group on Earth. New Orleans is such a melting pot, like New York, almost every ethnicity either lives there or comes there as a tourist.

"So once my mom collected enough DNA, she mixed it all inside of her, and she used her cosmic princess power, or whatever it was, to spontaneously create me inside her body, Jay. Like an immaculate conception. I don't have a father, Jay. Not the way everyone else has."

Jay's eyes shot open with suprise.

"My mom pulled the energy of cosmic light inside of her and made it form into an embryo. A female, Black, Nuyorican embryo. My mom did that as a promise to your mom. She did it to give YOU a wife once you grew up, Jason.

"All this stuff - meeting me in Ben's Pizza that night, the investigation, and the whole frantic search, the race against time that night - all that was the plan, the prophecy of the Light of Zartha - it was coming true, Jason. See, baby, I was created out of pure cosmic light to be YOUR wife, your QUEEN. Just for you, Jay. Only for you.

"So now you can't be sad about losing me anymore, 'cause you haven't lost me at all! That's the best part! You've GOT to come up here for me and be the King of Zartha, baby. You have no choice. The people of Zartha are YOUR people. They need you - they need you and me together - to lead them, baby. You were born to this destiny and now it's time to really follow through with it.

"If the Men In Black do not let you leave, you mom has authorized me to send a strike team down to Earth to evacuate you. They can and will use force to bring you back alive, Jason.

"So I guess I will be expecting you, baby. Please don't take too long. I love you, Jay. I love you." The screen went dark.

Jay looked at the file on Laura in the dossier. It alone was 30 pages thick. "ORIGIN: spontaneous embyronic implantation due to massive internal and external convergence of cataclysmic levels of gamma radiation inside Lauranna Vasquez...

"...result of an agreement between Lauranna Kwan and Angelique Tolan to produce the King and Queen of Zartha, in an attempt to produce a super-child as prophesied in the Book of S'aa..."

More tears rolled down Jay's cheeks. He looked up, trying to control his weeping. "Momma planned all this...the whole thing...all along."

"That's right, Jay," Zed said. "We only postponed it as long as we could, you and Laura Vasquez falling in love and becoming a couple, but we can't stop it any longer. Sometimes the forces of destiny are far beyond what mortal man can engineer, son. As much as I hate for this to be the case, Laura - and your mother, Queen Angelique - are both absolutely, 100 percent right about this, Jay. You are the Sun of Zartha. You are destined to become an immortal sun god, Jay, and ruler of an entire federation of planets in deep space.

Then Zed leaned forward, raised an eyebrow, and said, "You know, Jay, I could have sent somebody else to be the lead detective on Ben's murder...but your mom would have gotten all upset and sent her storm troopers after you, so I guess I did the right thing," and here Zed gave a little wink.

"So now, we must de-commission you as an active agent of the Men in Black, Jay.” Zed now stood up, and Jay and Kay stood at attention in response:

"Therefore, from this day forward, Your Royal Highness, Jason LeRoi Tolan Edwards:

You will no longer conform to the identity we gave you; you must again assume the identity to which you were actually born.

We told you that anonymity was your name, silence was your native tongue; now your name shall be King and you must now learn your true native tongue - the tongue of the Zarthan people you will be sworn to protect, defend and rule.

Your entire image was crafted to leave no lasting memory; now you must regain all the memories we had to suppress - and forge new ones with Laura at your side.

You are no longer deja vu, you are reality.

You are no longer above the system, you will soon preside over one.

You are no longer a rumor, Jason Edwards, you are now the embodiment of cosmic truth and divine wisdom.

You have to leave us and go to Zartha. And you have to go NOW."

Zed lowered his head down solemnly.

"Your neuralyzer, Your Highness." Zed reached out his hand. "Take the batteries out first."

Jay took the device out of his lapel pocket. He then took out two AA alkaline batteries, the standard kind available in any store, and handed the empty, deactivated neuralyzer to Zed. Zed immediately placed it in his lapel pocket.

"Your Highness, you are dismissed."

The three men walked out of the office and took the elevator down into the hallway. Jay led the way. All the other agents knew something was up. They saw the food from Cafe Du Monde get delivered. They saw the transport arrive from Zartha. They even saw the video from Laura on their computers, as someone leaked it onto the office intranet. They knew their guy, Jay, the agent who brought Zed's agency into the 21st century, was more than who they thought he was.

From every cubicle, now, clerks and agents and admin assistants and techs and cafeteria workers and the sales guys in the Sprint Store in the concourse were, to a man, staring at this man - this prince from another galaxy, this colossal figure, this SUN GOD, this creature from the pages of extraterrestrial legend and myth - working among them, eating with them, filing reports for them, going to the restroom with them, yelling at them, all this time.

Eyes all over the MIB complex were wide with wonder and smile after smile erupted with pride. Yeah, one of OUR guys is the next King of Zartha! And just last Saturday he was out drinkin' and playin' darts with the fellas! Those Kylothians better watch out! Jay's not gonna put up with any bull when HE's king, no sir! He's gonna run that planet RIGHT. Those people are SO LUCKY to get Jay as their king. They don't know how good they're gonna have it. He ought to come back and run for President after a few years. Or at least for Mayor of New York! He's so lucky to be marrying Laura. That's one wedding Zed had better show on the viewscreen. That's gonna be bigger than Prince Charles and Lady Di, bigger than Jessica Simpson and what's his name.

The three saw Agent Enn approach. He knelt down right in front of Jay, got up and made a strange gesture, tapping his fist rapidly to his chest while his head was bowed. "O wo'o sha la ock, T'Va'an."

Jay stood there stunned and utterly shamed, for he had little positive to say to this rookie agent, almost every day for about a year, ever since he joined MIB after four years in the Navy. "'re from...Zartha."

"Yes, my lord. Born and raised. Son of Councillor T'Ka'ar of the tribe of C'ola'a, the people of the molten rock. My real name is T'N'aal S'Wu'ul K'aan. I'm going back to Zartha to be with my people, and my intended, Princess S'aak'ta'a, my Knowing-mate. She will be your chief of staff in the royal palace. and she's already preparing Her Highness for your arrival today. I stand ready to serve you for many years to come, my lord."

Jay was not used to being addressed as royalty and his discomfort showed. He tried to apologize; if this guy was gonna be in the royal palace, with him, he'd better make amends pretty damn quick. "Well...umm, listen...T'Na'al...umm, listen, man, I know was kind of hard on you this year...all that Air Force versus Navy shit, I was just kidding about that -"

"No need to apologize, my lord. I know you didn't know your identity. I was never allowed to tell you mine. Everything's cool. You way outrank me anyway, my lord. You are a son of the T'ola'a, and my tribe obeys every directive of the royal household with honor and the highest level of dedication. My loyalty to you and the royal family is sealed by 1,000 years of blood and tribal ties, and soon by marriage ties as well. For all time. O wo'o sha la ock." Enn bowed his head again.

"Well...I guess I'll see you up there," Jay said, and he began to walk again along with Kay and Zed.

"Have a safe trip home, my lord," Enn called out. Jay looked back at him with a slightly puzzled expression.

As Jay strode down the hallways, he was in a daze. He was stunned. He was pissed. He was ecstatic. He was wondering a million things at this moment. What was his life going to be like NOW? Am I ready to be with this woman forever? Do I really love her or am I just reacting because of this "Knowing"? I mean, I met her at a damn PIZZA PARLOR! Can I really make it rain? Could Momma really make it rain? Could Nana really make it rain? Is every Black person in Louisiana a damn alien? And is my momma not only NOT DEAD but really still alive, kicking and RULING an entire alien planet from a jail cell?

Am I really a sun god?

Am I really supposed to be a king?


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Sun of Zartha

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