Amory and Daisy prepare for the graduation ceremony and are given their new Cadet uniforms.
Last lines: “As she studied her picture in the mirror, her friend Daisy came up and stood next to her. The girls tried to decide if they liked the uniforms or not. Before they could, the teacher called them back to the rest of the class.”
Amory and Daisy joined the rest of the students and the teachers in the lobby. They boarded the school bus and drove the couple blocks to the Cadet Org. Amory had never been allowed inside the building before and was excited to see where her sister had been living for the past two years.
As the bus slowed to a stop, the teacher stood up and announced, “Okay children. Today is very important. And guess what? Your parents are going to be there to see you!”
With that announcement, the children became restless. They rarely saw their parents. Some looked out the windows, others started clapping their hands and screaming with joy as only children do. Two girls in the back started chanting in union, “My Mommy’s coming! My Mommy’s coming!”
The children saw adults filing into the building, and they stumbled over each other trying to get closer to the windows on the sidewalk side of the bus. Amory looked everywhere, but she didn’t see her mom and dad.
“There’s my mom!” Daisy shouted and pointed towards the door. “Where’s your mom?” she asked Amory.
Amory searched the crowed with fixed determination but saw no one familiar. She said, sadness oozing from her voice, “I don’t see her yet. She’s probably inside with my dad and sister.”
The teacher tried, again, to summon the attention of the children, shouting, “Okay boys and girls. We’re here. What I want you to do now is find your buddy. We are going to walk into the building in a straight line, next to your buddy, like we have been practicing in class. Does everyone understand?”
“Yes Sir!” the children answered in perfect unison.
The teacher smiled at their obedience and continued, “Now, everyone else is already in there—your parents, the Sea Org members, and the other cadets. They are all waiting for us. This is your big entrance, so be sure to walk in just like we practiced.”
The children searched for their buddies and locked hands before getting off the bus. Amory found her buddy. Daisy was happy that she saw her parents. Amory hoped she would see hers. They knew something important was about to happen, just not exactly what.
The children filed off the bus and the teacher herded them into a line, commanding, “Now reach your arm in front of you. You should just touch the back of the person in front of you with your fingertips. When I count to three, we are going to start walking down to the graduation. ONE … TWO … THREE!”
Amory held on to Daisy’s hand, the only familiar thing she could latch on to. The children had a difficult time walking in straight lines. The teacher expected this—after all, they were only five years old—so she stood next to the line, pulling wandering children back in place.
The teacher knew that she was being judged by how well the children behaved, so she desperately tried to make the children as presentable as she possibly could. And walking in a straight line was a strong indicator of obedience.
But the children were children. Amory and Daisy were so focused on holding hands that they forgot to pay attention to the kids in front of them and started veering off to the right. As they walked past the teacher, she grabbed Amory’s arm and pulled her back to the left before correcting the girls behind them, corralling them into the building.
As they entered the door, the children saw that the vast room was filled with people. Their parents were waving, some of the Sea Org members were looking at them in admiration, the older cadets were standing at attention. Everyone smiled ear to ear, pride beaming from their faces. That was who the graduation was really for—everyone except the children.
Daisy found her parents in the audience. When they saw their little girl, they waved excitedly to get her attention. She waved back, a bit embarrassed at the fuss they made.
Amory looked for her parents but still didn’t see them. Her head hung low for a moment. She then looked in the cadet section for her sister. When she saw Riley’s face smiling at her, she held her head high and smiled.
The children walked up the middle isle and filed into the empty rows of chairs at the front of the room.
The commanding office of the Cadet Org led the ceremony. He walked to the podium and welcomed everyone in the audience. He then gave a special greeting to the new cadets.
Amory had never been to a ceremony like this before, especially one for her. She watched the commanding officer’s lips move, but she could not understand the words he was saying. It was almost as if she were in a trance. There was so much clapping and moving, so many unfamiliar faces looking at her that she grew overwhelmed to the point of apathy.
Daisy leaned over to her friend and asked, “What’s he saying?”
“I don’t know,” Amory whispered, keeping her voice quiet so they would not get in trouble.
Daisy whispered back, “I don’t know either.”
“What are we supposed to do?”
“I don’t know. Nothing I guess.”
Suddenly, the children in the first row sprang to their feet. The teacher stood in the isle, directing them up to the podium.
Amory was in the second row, so she knew that her turn was next. She studied what the other children were doing so that when her turn came she would know what to do.
Once the children got to the podium, they climbed up on a step stool and wrote their name on a piece of paper. Then, as they walked away, the commanding officer gave them a piece of paper rolled and tied with a ribbon. Another teacher stood at the isle, directing the children back to their seats once they had their certificates. The children obediently followed the commands, walking up to the podium, signing the document, and returning to their seats.
Amory grew more confident once she saw what was happening. She was very good at writing her name, so she wasn’t nervous.
The children in her row followed the procession. As each child in front of her signed the paper, Amory shuffled one step closer. Daisy, who was now behind her, began poking Amory in the back. Amory turned around to swat her arm away while Daisy quietly giggled.
The teacher saw the interaction and put another boy in between the two girls, not wanting to look bad in front of all the Church members. And she had to keep the line moving. There were still many children who needed to sign the contract.
Finally, it was Amory’s turn. She carefully climbed up the stepstool and cradled the large pen in her tiny hand. The border of the page the children were signing was decorated as an antique scroll, making it look like an official document from long ago. Sea horses, Amory’s favorite animal, adorned each side of the page. She immediately liked it, whatever it was. There were some words at the top, words she did not understand, and then blank lines for the children to sign.
If Amory could have read, she would have seen that the paper said:
I DO HEARBY AGREE to the religious commitment of membership in the Sea Organization, and dedicate myself to the goal shared by Sea Org members, which is to bring about spiritual freedom of all beings through the application of LRH’s technology.
Being of sound mind, I do fully realize and agree to abide by the purpose shared by Sea Org members which is to get ETHICS IN on this PLANET AND THE UNIVERSE and fully and without reservation, subscribe to Sea Org discipline, mores, and conditions and pledge to abide by them.
THEREFORE, I COMMIT MYSELF TO THE SEA ORGANIZATION FOR THE NEXT BILLION YEARS.
The lines underneath the text were filled with her classmates’ signatures. She found the first blank line, about a quarter of the way down the page. She put the tip of the pen to the page and began carefully crafting each letter. A-M-O
The teacher interrupted her and whispered, “Come on Amory, all of your classmates must sign too.”
She felt rushed and flustered all of a sudden, the eyes of the entire audience staring at her back and waiting for her to finish. She couldn’t regain her concentration, so she scratched out the last two letters. R-Y.
The teacher took her hand and dragged her off the podium.
She tried to resist her teacher’s pull, straining her neck back towards the paper, trying to quietly protest. But it was too late. It didn’t matter what she wanted. Before she had time to mutter a single word, the commanding officer handed her a rolled piece of paper tied with a ribbon and ushered her off the stage.
She followed the other children back to their row and took her seat. She had grown bored with the graduation and was ready to go play.
Daisy sat down beside her and asked, “When is this over?”
“I don’t know,” Amory huffed. “I want to go play.”
“Me too.” The two girls sat with their arms folded across their chests.
Once all of the new cadets had signed the paper, the commanding officer began to speak again. Amory had a hard time concentrating because Daisy kept pinching her in the arm. He looked directly at the new cadets and announced: “This contract symbolizes your commitment to The Church, which each of you already made many years ago. Each of you is now, officially, a cadet of the Sea Org.”
His words, somehow, seemed familiar to Amory. They were not the exact words her mother used, but it seemed like she had heard them before. She just couldn’t remember where or when.
“May you carry on and begin the important work you will do on this planet! … We return!”
The audience roared into applause. First, the older children stood, and then the rest of the audience followed suit. Each child blindly followed the person in front of her, retracing the steps of her entrance. The parents were waving to their children, and Amory could not understand why their eyes were filled with tears.
She wondered why her mom and dad weren’t in the audience. She looked down at her feet and decided that she didn’t like her new black canvas shoes. She liked her old shoes better, the white ones her mother gave her.
Scenes from the Next:
Daisy reports on Amory’s sec-check to her commanding officers.