The plane takes a while to land due to some exiting storms, which means you disembark in silver shadows from the runway’s glow lights. No off-ramps here, only stairs down to crunchy gravel. Atlantis, apparently, doesn’t give its future Paragons the flashy treatment.

Your skepticism must have made it to your face, because one of the people greeting your flight – looks to be about six of them, one for every ten of you – aims a flashlight in your eyes and asks if you’re happy to be here.

“How could I be?” you reply. “I don’t even know where here is.”

“Here is where you belong,” the man says, full of authority, as though some god has deigned to give him absolute power over this little airstrip. “Here is where you, all of you, will learn how to make the best use of your abilities. You will become heroes, here. You will become Paragons.”

You wonder how many times he’s given that little speech, but keep the estimate to yourself. The man loses interest in you, turning his bright lance on the next bumbling one to get off the plane. Another of the soon-to-be Paragons bumps you, and when he mutters a sorry, you ask where he’s going.

“Aren’t you listening? They’re calling names.”

Five of the hosts are, anyway. You hear yours, and shuffle over to the growing crowd. A combination of excited eyes and those just awakened from various naps surrounds you, all clad in the powder blue uniforms of Paragon trainees. The clothes aren’t uncomfortable, but do little to keep out the chilly Fall weather, and you miss the apple cider that would be in your mug at home.

Still, this is the opportunity that 99 percent of the world doesn’t get. You try to keep that in your mind as your host calls your group off to one of the buses on the side.

These, at least, are newer models. No drivers, and their batteries keep the inside warm in a soundless way that’s always struck you as mystical. Your parents keep saying the world’s magic now, with the Paragons leaning on a few key members who produce innovations like you produce annoying habits.

Guess you’ll be getting rid of those too. The Paragons are for heroes, and it’s about time you started being one.

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