-- Chapter 21
The light machine was invisible to Ralph, Randy and Rene who were in
mid-orbit, 138 miles
above 27th century Earth. Dad's car was drifting nearby while the
kids had donned environment suits to examine a piece of orbital debris.
2. "I've seen these on slates!" Randy said, "I bet they
don't even know it's here. I wonder if we can take it
3. "Not supposed to touch antiques," Ralph said,
"Probably won't hurt if we look, though."
4. "Look at this old writing," Rene observed.
"Looks American-ish," she said.
5. "Probably is," Ralph agreed. "I'm really
surprised it's not in a museum!"
6. "Do you think they left it on purpose?" Randy
asked, "They know everything
there is up here."
7. "What's this say? Can you read it?"
Ralph tugged on Rene since she was the esteemed linguist among
Rene wasn't having any luck.
8. "Looks like it should make sense, but I don't
know for sure," she said; clearly
determined to translate.
9. "Woah!" Ralph said," Morph this, the panel
separates!" He opened an access panel with his
pocket matter emitter.
10. The three of them looked inside with indifference, "Old
stuff," Randy sighed, "I think Grandpa has one rustin' in his back
yard." Ralph toyed with the wires.
11. "This is older than spaceflight," Rene
scoffed. She was thinking about history and social studies in
school. "We better get back," Randy suggested. Students
weren't supposed to leave campus during lunch.
12. "I think this connector plugs in, right here," Ralph
said. He plugged it in...
13. A series of telemetry diagnostic tests
displayed on the archive monitors at Kennedy III Canaveral.
"Neanderthals with an abacus," Dayton thought. Ancient technology
was fascinating. "We had to evolve somehow..."
14. Other dormant machines powered up and began a
series of diagnostic tests. "These are supposed to be on static,"
he said under his breath, "This is a museum." He wasn't speaking
to anyone in particular, "Nice to see that the artifacts still
would occasionally run parts of the museum for demonstration purposes,
operations had to approve and add it to the schedule. Dayton did
not see anything on the schedule.
16. The klaxon blended perfectly into the
amusement park next door. It was loud, but couldn't be taken
seriously against the thrill-seekers screams.
17. The setting was comfortable and familiar -- a bridge to his
former life. Virtually everything around him had been engineered
German physist Werner Von Braun, who developed the American space
program, "Closer to my time than theirs," he noted. He felt right
18. "This would be serious in my former life," he thought.
19. "These relics haven't run for 6
½ centuries... so why now?" "A part of my field test,
maybe?" he wondered.
20. He checked Caneveral's schedule again, expecting the
telemetry run to magically appear. There were no runs today; no
tests of any kind. He ignored the tablet for a moment and stared
pensively at the giant wall monitor; his mind far from here. It
just didn't add up.
21. "All this... to vest a field agent?" He checked Corlos'
field training manual, "B'jhon can vest with only one test."
"We've already got the best, so why not vest with one test." He
thought he heard a female giggle and abruptly peeked over his
Nobody. It sounded like that girl... "the one with
that big round hovering machine.. Ireana,"
he remembered, "I want to meet her." Corlos had kept them busy
and apart. "Review the
historical context," he instructed
22. The slate presented the entire etymology of
encode / decode
theory; conceptual and actual processes...
"Cancel," he instructed the tablet while retrieving Xanax from his
uniform brest pocket.
Xanax displayed, "Es ist an der Zeit!" "English," Dayton
instructed softly. "Who's looking?" Xanax displayed.
25. "Nobody," Dayton answered, "Why are these telemetry
26. "Voice or Monitor?" Xanax displayed. "Voice,"
27. "The consoles have been activated by a
master encryption sequence
from an orbiting source," Xanax answered.
28. "Sie sind frackin mich verarschen!" Dayton
questioned. "English," Xanax parried. Touché.
"I'll kill you," Dayton whispered calmly, "So... this is
Without dramatic inflection, Xanax replied, "285
missiles built during the 21st century have just launched. 15 missiles
to launch unsuccessfully due to various faults in the launching
The remainder were deactivated."
30. "And you're finding this out how?..."
31. "Do you really think I could make this crap
up?" Xanax answered. "What did I tell you about answering a
question with a question?" Dayton retorted, "What happened to scheiBe?"
32. Xanax continued, "It's highly unlikely that Corlos would
the entire population to field test a new agent -- don't you
think?" Dayton was speechless and possibly put off a
bit, "Well maybe if it was a 'bad' planet." Xanax didn't
respond. Innuendo understood.
33. Dayton placed Xanax back in his pocket, "Use the lobe if you
need to say more." He had a grain sized implant in his ear lobe
for more discreet communciation.
Several theatre-sized, wall-mounted monitors began tracking
what looked like 285 arcs slowly rising from 285 points around
the world. A subdued grey line completed each projected trajectory and
displayed an anticipated detonation radius. Hitler would
loved this. "V-2's?" Dayton querried. "Really, really super
ones," Xanax clarified, "super 'nuclear' ones," he added.
"That actually work after 600
years?" Dayton asked.
"Apparently," Xanax answered, "We'll know in about 18
minutes." Three arcs dissolved due to engine failure.
35. "Will those go off?" Dayton querried.
"Warheads are designed differently," Xanax consoled, "They don't arm
until re-entry." "They used petroleum-based seals back then,"
Dayton remembered, "How did rubber gaskets survive for six centuries?"
Dayton asked. "Vacuums," Xanax answered. The silos had been
36. "Museums are
low priority targets," Xanax injected, "but the spaceport
next door is definitely on their A-list." "Their who?" Dayton began and stopped.
37. Two campus police and a technician entered the
telemetry area to
examine the equipment malfunction. The technician nodded to
in passing. They were investigating the alarm source but not
taking it seriously.
A campus officer opened a panel on a structural column, "Is this
you can handle?" he asked. "I don't know," the technician
replied, looking closer at the wiring, "this stuff is old, and
shouldn't even be running." "I had no idea this could happen?"
the other officer injected.
39. The technician silenced the klaxon, but the
rotating red lights continued.
40. "Are you the curator?" Officer J. Johnson
Dayton. He read his name badge.
"Yes, Sir," Dayton replied, "I maintain the equipment... but the reason
why everything suddenly activated is unclear." "I've seen old
holos with this stuff," Officer Johnson pointed at the missile
on the wall monitors. "I'm sure it's all a simulation,"
Dayton said, "they wouldn't leave nuclear missles
functional." "One never knows," Johnson said, "there was a holo
on the other week about the 'Lost Materiels of World War IV."
Dayton non verbally acknowledged the plausibility but doubted that 285
nuclear missiles would detonate. "2265,"
Johnson sighed, "Nuclear winter." A date that every school kid
knew, apparently. "I was absent that day," Dayton thought.
42. The other officer was not paying attention,
"Those are just simulations, right?"
"Yeah," Johnson replied. The other officer wanted an answer
from Dayton, so he addressed him, "Right?"
44. "I'm pretty sure Earth defenses would pick this up,"
Johnson insisted, "It's just a glitch in some old
program. I'd like to put one of these in my den."
45. "Yeah, well, we could buy 10 of 'em, I'm
sure." his partner said sarcastically. "Antiques like this aren't
cheap," Dayton injected, "which is why they're here." "I'm
impressed," Xanax said to him through his implant.
Dayton wanted the dynamic duo to continue their slap stick so that
he could leave. "Is Corlos
watching this?" he wondered. "All kidding aside," Xanax said,
"part of your mission is to observe for anomalous convergences."
"Isn't that like double dipping?" Dayton joked. "Multi-tasking,"
Xanax replied. Johnson looked for
whoever Dayton might be talking to, "Talk to yourself much?" he
asked. Dayton shook his head,
"No... Not really... well, sometimes." Johnson grinned,
me too sometimes." Under his breath, he sighed, "I think
47. Ireana was watching in cognito. Her
mission was to observe, evaluate and assist if necessary. While Corlos
kept Dayton busy on Sunova, Ireana had completed her field test on
Thule, the Jolvian homeworld. Onimex was
exploring other venues.
"Please, let me be the observer," she asked B'jhon, hoping that if she
gave Dayton a passing grade, they could strike up a more intimate
conversation. "I believe your mutual interest in cybernetics
give you an edge on this mission," he told her, "Do I detect
something ... more?" he asked. She blushed. B'jhon
nodded his head understandingly, "I see," he said, restraining his
grin, "Yes, you can go observe... perhaps discuss those
interdimensional storage points that interest you." He added
try not to
be too biased in your report."
49. The twinkle in his eye made her
feel transparent. She hugged him. Then he blushed. "You're
Vejhonian?" she asked. "Previous Dan," he answered. That
explained why he seemed like family, but from a different Vejhonian
paradigm. Every Dan has its unique way of reinventing the
wheel. "I'm afraid I don't..." she began. He placed his
finger on her lips, "You wouldn't be able to," he confirmed. She
knew Vejhonian history: Nobody lives from one Dan to the
next. "...unless they come here," he explained. She smiled
sweetly because he was probably the only survivor. He nodded
gently, "I was."
50. Onimex was elsewhere on Earth, exploring
spacial anomalies for operations. He had a list of stops to make
and was supposed to assist
Ireana as needed, and she was supposed to assist Dayton if needed.
His goal was to complete the mission perfectly, and without