Chapter 1

"Well, that's the end of another day." Arter smiled at his students. "Remember, everyone, this is the last day we meet here in the school. Starting next week, all our classes will be in the CloudArk. We'll start learning digital sculpting for art time! Won't that be exciting?"

"I don't like art time, Mr. Che!" Suza stamped her foot. "Why do we need to go into the computer? I like our playground."

Arter set himself heavily onto the stool. His class ranged from four to seven years old, and some of them were smarter than he ever remembered being at that age, but none of them were ready to confront the idea of extinction. "I know you've all heard that the Pyramid Fleet is coming back." Blank stares… They knew the fact, but not the emotional weight it carried. "The Pyramid Fleet are very bad people who might hurt us. So, we're all going to go deep underground, where we'll be very hard to find. But there isn't a lot of room underground, and not a lot to do, so we'll all go to sleep and spend time in the CloudArk, so we can still learn and play with our friends."

"Will it hurt?"

"No, Keiji. It'll be just like when we go into the CloudArk for story time. You've all done this lots of times before."

"Can we get up to use the bathroom?" Arter didn't catch who spoke up, but it sounded like Kachela.

"No, we'll have to stay asleep," he reminded them.

"But then we'll poop the bed!" Absolute scandal dripped from Kachela's voice, and Arter had to stifle a laugh.

"We'll be just fine. Everyone is going to get their own special sleeping pod just like the Founders used!" He lowered his voice to a faux-conspiratorial whisper. "It will do all the pooping for you."

The classroom shouted "Ewwwww" as one chorus. Arter could always count on certain things to distract kids from their fear.