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Vejhon by Ty Estus Narada
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Beyond ... -- Chapter 21

1. 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 home?"  

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 them.  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 tinker 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 work."

15.  Canaveral would occasionally run parts of the museum for demonstration purposes, but 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 by German physist Werner Von Braun, who developed the American space program, "Closer to my time than theirs," he noted.  He felt right at home.        

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 shoulder.  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 the tablet. 

22.  The slate presented the entire etymology of digital signal encode / decode theory; conceptual and actual processes...

23. "Cancel," he instructed the tablet while retrieving Xanax from his uniform brest pocket. 

24.  Xanax displayed, "Es ist an der Zeit!"  "English," Dayton instructed softly.  "Who's looking?" Xanax displayed.    

25. "Nobody," Dayton answered, "Why are these telemetry consoles active?" 

26. "Voice or Monitor?" Xanax displayed.  "Voice," Dayton replied. 

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 normal?" 

29.  Without dramatic inflection, Xanax replied, "285 nuclear missiles built during the 21st century have just launched. 15 missiles attempted to launch unsuccessfully due to various faults in the launching systems.  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 annihilate 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. 

34.  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 have 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 sealed.          

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 Dayton in passing.  They were investigating the alarm source but not taking it seriously.

38.   A campus officer opened a panel on a structural column, "Is this something 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 asked Dayton.  He read his name badge.  

41.  "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 trajectories 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?" 

43.  "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. 

46.  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, "Yeah, well, me too sometimes."   Under his breath, he sighed, "I think everyone does."            

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. 

48. "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 should 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 psionically, "but 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 assistance.