In Minns' apartment, Ballard and Harris arrive and Harris tells his waiting men to cover the building and make sure that no one looks at Minns. Ballard finds a notepad in Minns' desk with equations, names, and a San Francisco address written on it. He makes a copy and Harris notices that his hand is shaking. Ballard admits that he's scared to death.
Minns enters the building and goes to his apartment. Ballard and Harris confront him, and Minns admits that he knew they were there. They introduce themselves and Minns says that he knows the agents have staked his apartment out. Ballard figures that their weapons are pitiful against him, and says that Minns lies and cheats with the part of his brain that is under alien control. Minns tells him that he can do whatever he must do, and asks what Ballard wants with him since he's broken no laws. The agent points out that Minns sent the other three men $400,000, and Minns tells him that he knew that they needed it. Ballard asks what the spaceship is for, and Minns admits that he doesn't know. He says that there's nothing he can do about it, and Ballard says that they're taking him to DC to stop the project.
The ex-soldier gets his notepad and says that the project won't die even if he does. He walks to the door, and Ballard tells him that Harris will shoot if Minns turns to face them. Minns says that he doesn't want anyone to get hurt, but he can't go with them. Harris and the men outside open fire, but the bullets bounce off an invisible force field.
Back in DC, Ballard and Harris tell Branch what happened. They can't explain how the bullets missed, and Ballard says that Earth has been invaded. He figures that the four men will assemble the spaceship in Wichita.
Renaldo arrives at Hadley's factor and Conover senses him. The physicist comes in and says that there are four of them now. Renaldo explains that Ballard told him about Hadley and Minns, and opens a case with a device inside. He turns it on and tells Conover to throw a screwdriver at him. Conover does so and the screwdriver bounces off of the magnetic force field--Renaldo's Barrier--that he's surrounded himself with. Renaldo assures him that it's impassable and he sent Minns a model. He turns the barrier off and tells Conover that he couldn't stop making it. They figure that it's for the project, and Renaldo angrily says that they're a bunch of freaks. He hates the force driving them on, and realizes that it's different with Conover. Conover wonders what the spaceship they're making is for, and if it's for something terrible. He worries that he might be responsible for the destruction of humanity, and sees despair and fear.
Ballard and Harris go over the names and addresses. Harris has confirmed that a reference to "Eden" is a theater name. There are references to a school and hospital, and to Johnny Subiron. Ballard then goes to Johnny's address and nods to the boy as he looks out the window. Johnny says that his mother is shopping and his father died. He refuses to let Ballard in, saying that he's not allowed to let anyone in. Mrs. Subiron arrives and wonders if Ballard is the one Johnny calls "the Lieutenant". Johnny says that Ballard isn't the Lieutenant, and Mrs. Subiron says that the Lieutenant is someone that Johnny imagined. She tells Ballard to come back some other time because she's busy, and goes inside.
Next, Ballard goes to the hospital. A nurse tells him that another nurse told her that Minerva Gordon was looking out a window and talking to a man, but that it's impossible. Minerva is blind, and insists that the Lieutenant was there. The girl says that Minns didn't talk to her outside, and she said that she wants to go wherever he goes.
Minns goes to the school and asks Miss Steen about an orphan boy, Danny Masters. Steen confirms that Danny has been with a foster couple for three weeks, and admits that it isn't easy to find homes for their children, particularly a deaf-mute. She asks if he would be interested in one of their other children, and Minns says that he was looking specifically for Danny. Minns goes to the couple's home and finds Danny laying on the lawn. The lieutenant calls to Danny and the boy "hears" him. Minns asks if the couple loves him or if they're like the others, and asks Danny if he wants to come with him. Danny smiles and takes Minns' hand.
Ballard goes to the Parkville Adult Education facility, catches a ball tossed by a boy, and hides it behind his back. When Ballard says that the Lieutenant took it, the boy has no idea what he's talking to. Ballard pretends to find the ball, and the boy figures that the Lieutenant is Danny's made-up friend.
Later, Ballard meets with Harris at the Wichita factory. Harris says that the men are busy working on the spaceship and almost done, and Ballard says that he's put men on all of the locations that he checked out. Hadley arrives by taxi with several boxes, sees Ballard, and goes inside past the agents standing watch. Ballard tells Harris that they should move in before Minns arrives with the children.
Ballard and the agents enter the factory, and find a cylindrical vehicle in the middle of the main room. Renaldo turns on his Barrier and assures Conover and Hadley that no one will get hurt. Ballard tells them that they're building the ship to take children away to outer space. Renaldo yells at him to shut up, saying that he doesn't believe him, and Ballard suggests that Minns may not know either. Hadley says that if it's true, they can't do anything about it because they can't help themselves. Ballard tells them to stand back and walks forward, and hits the Barrier. Renaldo warns that it's impregnable and the agents open fire on it. Nothing happens, and Ballard tells them that there's no way to stop the project.
Minerva gets dressed in anticipation of Minns arriving. When he comes in, Minerva greets him by name despite her blindness. A nurse comes in and Minns hypnotizes her and tells her to make sure they're not disturbed. Danny is waiting in Minns' car, and once they get in Minerva asks to feel Minns' face. He's crying, and Minns doesn't say why. Minns drives to Johnny's home and Johnny runs out and gets into the car. The lieutenant drives off before the agents watching the house can stop him.
Ballard gets word of the abductions and tells Harris to have his men surround the factory. Renaldo sees them and goes to the lab, and Conover tells him that he has terrible fears. He wonders if Ballard was right, and Hadley comes in and says that he's ready for the part that Conover is working on. Conover senses that Minns and the children are almost there.
Ballard receives word that Minns is coming and has used the force shield around the car to run the roadblocks. He goes in and peers at the spaceship, as Minns arrives in his car via the back way. Ballard tells the agents to hold their fire, and Minns escorts in five crippled and handicapped children. Ballard is watching and Minns asks him how he can live in a world without fire. He explains that he promised the children a trip in a spaceship, and Ballard accuses him of lying. Minns tells Ballard not to try anything foolish, and the children board the spaceship. He closes the door, and Ballard yells that he hopes they all rot. Ballard asks what's in store for the children, and Minns admits that he doesn't know why they were selected.
Conover tells Minns that he has to try and stop the project, even if he must stop himself. Renardo and Hadley agree with him, and Minns insists that what they're doing isn't evil. He gives his word to Conover that they won't harm anyone. Hadley says that he had to lie and steal to get the herbs in Brazil, and would have forced Larkin to kill himself because the project wanted him dead. Conover figures that the conversation won't change anything, and Ballard says that Minns is the coordinator and will lie to them if he has to. He asks Renaldo to shut down the Barrier and they'll do the rest. Conover agrees and Renaldo asks what happens when it's all over. Ballard promises that they'll try to find an answer, and Renaldo starts to shut down the Barrier.
Minns asks Renaldo to wait, and repeats that words are forming in his head that he must speak. He tells Conover, Hadley, and Renaldo that they will go with the children of their own free will. Conover sets down the Barrier control and Minns tells Ballard that no one was hurt or harmed. He explains that the children are the hopeless and the unloved. There's a world billions of miles away filled with wonderful things and beings, and a blight came to their world. The aliens couldn't have children, so they sent out meteors filled with their RNA factor so that they could bring children to them from other worlds. Minns explains that the aliens wanted no one to be hurt, and that's why the children were chosen. They will inherit a new world of brightness and greatness.
Ballard points out that nothing is wrong with Johnny. Minns says that Johnny had to stay in the house because he has a blood disease that will kill him within a year. Ballard says that they have to stop them from taking the children, and Minns invites him to take them home. He has Renaldo shut off the Barrier and opens the spaceship door. Ballard and Harris go in and discover that the children have been cured. Danny asks if the Lieutenant is still there and then gets into his bunk. Minerva sees her hands for the first time./
The two men go back outside and Hadley explains that the atmosphere in the ship is the same as on the planet. Ballard says that it's not up to them, and Minns warns that if they're taken out of the ship then they'll revert. He says that he'll go with them as well, and the other three men agree.
Written by Gadfly on Feb 4, 2018