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Eric Johansson was high above the city watching the crowds gathering around the Washington Monument. It had been an incredible two years since he had been partnered with Judy Deavers for the first time. They had both been FBI agents then; she was the Special Agent in Charge of the Spokane office, while he had been head of the Domestic Counter-Terrorism Department. Drawn together to solve a series of bombings, they had been plunged into the secret of the AEthereal. At the time, the existence of the AEthereal had been so secret, only the Presidents of the United States and the reigning monarch in Great Britain knew of them. Then came the renewed war with the Grays, an alien species determined to take over the planet and strip it of everything useful. At that time, it became apparent that the secret must be told. In discussions with the other governments of the world, it was determined the President of the United States would make the announcement to all countries.
The President had declared a special holiday, mandating the closing of all businesses and schools. All the network television and radio stations had preempted their regular programming to cover the announcement. It was also being broadcast globally, simulcast in every language using the phenomenal translating staff of the United Nations. All the White House bulletin had said was the President, in coordination with all the governments of the world, would be making an announcement of global significance. The media, ever doubting official pronouncements, had immediately contacted the embassies of every nation and had learned it was true; every single nation in the world had agreed with the upcoming statement.That alone was newsworthy; no one could recall any other time where every government had agreed about anything.
The large black dragon drifted high in the sky, waiting. 'How much longer, Eric?' came the thought in Eric's mind. Eric chuckled at the impatience he detected in that thought. One would think Ebon the Black could be a little more patient since he'd been waiting for this day for over sixty-five million years.
'I'm sure you're in touch with Astra down on the ground. She's in a much better position to know than I am, Ebon. After all, I'm up here with you.' Eric thought back to Ebon. Eric enjoyed the telepathic link he had with Ebon since they had formed their partnership.
The Washington Monument formed the backdrop behind the President. The clear blue sky, lightly dotted with small white clouds, and the bright sunshine completed the scene. It was a perfect image for the cameras. Numerous foreign dignitaries were gathered on the stage behind the President, including the Canadian Prime Minister, the British Prime Minister, the Russian President, and ambassadors from every nation. Even the Secretary-General of the United Nations was present. At the scheduled moment, the President of the United States stepped up to the podium and began to speak.
"My fellow Americans and all citizens of Earth, I am speaking to you on this momentous day on behalf of all the governments on this planet. What I have to tell you is going to change how we each view our world and the universe. It will sound both fantastic and perhaps frightening, but I ask you all to hear me out." The President took a sip from the glass of water on the podium.
"First, I must tell you that mankind is not now, nor have we ever been, alone on this planet. We share this world with another sentient species, or perhaps I should say, they have shared it with us since they were here long before the evolution of mankind. There have been legends about them from every part of the world, but our modern world decided those tales were merely folklore, or allegories. When mankind took its first steps into the atomic age, another species made themselves known to President Truman in an effort to stop the development of nuclear weapons. When underground testing began, they tried again. At that time, President Eisenhower entered into what has since been known as the AEthereal Accord, an agreement to protect their secret while they continued to protect our continued existence."
The President took another pause to sip from his water. Now comes the first shock. "Events of the last year have made it necessary for us to now reveal them to the world at large. Not out of fear, but friendship. For as long as mankind has existed, they have watched over this world, and us, protecting both from harm. It is time for them to be able to move openly among us, for we must now join in a new relationship, that of partners in the continued security of our world. They call themselves the AEthereal, for they regard themselves as beings of the air. Our legends have called them dragons."
'Now, Ebon,' came the mental summons from Astra.
Ebon the Black banked his massive wings, plummeting toward the monument grounds. At first, the crowds took no notice until his huge shadow raced over them. At the first signs of panic, the President shouted, "Everyone, be still! There is no reason for fear!" The sound of his voice stopped the retreat before it even began.