A Brief Word on Hypersleep Studies – Volume 1: Chiliagon
“Sense-perception? This surely does not occur without a body, and besides, when asleep I have appeared to perceive through the senses many things which I afterwards realized I did not perceive through the senses at all.” *Rene Descartes, The First Meditation*
Prologue : MECHTA
Dr. Vidolf watched through the darkened one way glass as T3 began to stir in the umbilical. The massive machine was used to periodically grow clones for the use in the lab’s research projects. Today T3 would be harvested and used in Mechta. He took a sip of hot coffee. Strong, black and sugarless, it spilled down his gullet like liquid fire. He had to drink it fast, because the cold of the lab stole the heat out of the brew very quickly.
Slight twitching from within the umbilical let him know that it was time to get in there. He wanted to finish his coffee and took another long sip of it.
A hollow whoosh of air broke the silence as Yuri Dusolofv returned from a long smoke. He entered, stomping his boots and shaking a fresh dusting of snow from his jacket. Dusolofv was the only other officer on the project, but he wasn’t a doctor so he spent times like these taking many smoke breaks and pointlessly tuning an old radio system to any of the long vanished stations that were no longer received at their station. Vidolf and Dusolofv did not converse, and they were not friends. They could at best be classified as co-workers. Dusolofv was the engineer, the one who turned the nuts and bolts , pushed the buttons and made the machines work. Vidolf presumed that if Dusolofv wasn’t there,the project might come to a sudden screeching halt on account of a fluid imbalance or rusty sheer pin. It was a necessary discomfort to keep him around. Dusolofv wasn’t the worst part of the project though.
It was secret, top secret in fact. They had been helo dropped into one of the remotest parts of Siberia. Most of Russia knew not of their location, the nature of their project, or that Russia had even begun working on the Mechta.
The worst part however was that for the last month or so, everyone save for the limited critical personal had been extracted from the facility. It was part of an overarching witch hunt being done by Russian intelligence to locate the branching extremities of a counter intelligence spy that had been caught. Since his capture, the Russian intelligence people had been digging deeply into their facility and removing any personal not deemed critical to their efforts. This was a bad thing for Yuri Vidolf, namely because it meant that Yuri had Dusolofv and a few random bubbles from the water cooler for company for months at a time. The whole world could have collapsed and lie in ruin and they would not have the faintest idea that anything had changed.
“Ah, looks like the baby has finally woken up!” Dusolofv said as he stepped next to Vidolf and peered through the glass. His accent was thick and slurry. The kind of mumbling detachment that can only be achieved by a true alcoholic. Vidolf supposed his cohort had been drinking continuously through the night and into what was now the early morning. He checked his watch just to make sure he was right about it being morning. The mind can play tricks underground, the constant presence within the stale unchanging tubular hallways and humming lights can erase the long lived habits of night and day. He rubbed his hands together, trying to warm them. Having warm hands in this facility was an endless pursuit.
“Yes, I will go in and greet him shortly. Are you prepared on your end?”
“Da,” Dusolofv responded, “I will go warm up the clone melter.”
Vidolf tried to hide his look of despise, but he greatly disliked the man and everything he said.
Dusolofv gave a sneer and a nod, then proceeded back into the test chamber, the scent of smoke lingering down the hallway with him. Vidolf set his coffee mug down on the steel table and grabbed his M1000 multifunction processor. He proceeded through the sliding door with another whooshing sound.
The inside of the receiving chamber was perhaps the only warm place in the whole facility. Despite the fact that it was routinely cleaned and maintained, the air hung thick with the odor of bodily fluids. The smell robbed away any sense of comfort he had from the warmth of the room.
T3 emerged from the umbilical at 8:29 Am Vladivostok Time. He was slightly disoriented due to the bright lighting in the room. Vidolf quickly set off performing the routine health inspection. He checked hearing, vision, weight, reflex, and motor skills. He next had T3 sit upright.
“How do you feel?” Vidolf asked.
“I…feel well.” T3 responded in slow pronounced speech.
“What is your name?”
“Tect Patsiyent 3” T3 responded without hesitation. Vidolf made several notes regarding the soundness of T3’s responses to these two very basic questions. The umbilical’s new master computer had cut their time spent teaching out completely. New patients were born with the IQ of a four year old. This was all that was really needed for their research, and allowed the vast majority of their time to be spent improving the Mechta.
“Do you have any questions for me?”
“Why am I not covered?”
T3 hesitated, he looked down at himself. Goosebumps were forming on his upper thigh and down his arms. He looked back at Vidolf perhaps admiring the doctor’s coat and black pants. He nodded.
“There is a robe hanging on the wall. Do you see it?”
T3 nodded again.
“Do you think you can walk to it and put it on?”
Again T3 nodded.
He lowered himself down off of the receiving counter, but feigned back upwards when his bare foot touched the ice cold floor of the facility.
“Why is it like that?”
T3 nodded like a child.
“You’re in Siberia. You must get used to it. Now try again.”
T3 lowered himself once more and this time stepped all the way down. He grimaced as he stood for the first time in his undoubtedly short life. Vidolf watched as T3 took his first steps toward the robe that hung on the far wall by the door. He took it from the hook and after a brief inspection of the garment, he seemed to get the basic gist of how to put it on. He slipped one arm through and then reached around and had some trouble with the other arm.
“Are you ok?” Vidolf asked.
T3 hesitated, not fully understanding the question.
“Do you need assistance?”
“No,” T3 said with a brief smile. Vidolf made note of this in his M1000.
Finally the clone had his robe on and stood at the door for additional instruction. Vidolf walked to the door and looked upwards to the electric eye. The door opened with the whoosh again, which startled T3.
“Come this way, it’s ok.” Vidolf motioned T3 through the doorway and down the hall to the Mechta. The last door at the end of the hallway had another electronic eye. Vidolf looked up at the eye and the door opened. Inside the room, Dosolofv sat straddling a large turbine. It was one of the cooling shafts for the machine. To counteract the large amount of heat the machine produced, the system of turbines would suck in air from outside the facility and circulate it throughout the chamber. Then, because the central government in Moscow did not want steam to be captured on any satellite imagery, the warm air was circulated through another series of turbines that mixed it with more outside air until it was re-cooled and could be released back into the open air outside without notice. This was also the way the facility maintained its supply of fresh air for circulation through the labs and berthing quarters. It was also why every morning Vidolf cursed the frigid God forsaken place.
“What is wrong? Why is the Mechta not operational yet?”
“I’m having some trouble with the turbine. It will only take a second.”
“You had better get that thing fixed you drunk Russian.”
“I will, I will… Don’t worry Mr. Scientist, you’ll have your organ grinder soon enough.”
Vidolf shook his head, then ushered T3 towards the sleep chamber. It was a sarcophagus of glass and steel. Cold and dark. Condensation had built up along the base of the structure from repeated heating and cooling of the engine. T3 climbed quietly in without hesitation. It was something they had programmed into the new clones upon digital conception. The umbilical built calming memories and loose comforting feelings with regard to tight places like the chamber on Mechta. They used to have severe problems getting the test subjects to climb into the small dark tube.
When T3 was fully in and appeared at rest, Vidolf pressed the activation button and entered the administrator’s code. He looked over at Dusolofv who gave a thumbs up from atop the turbine before leaping down to the floor and out of sight.
Vidolf initiated the activation sequence and the machine gave a whirl. The small dark tube lit up with lights all over the inside, and Vidolf knew that T3 could no longer see or hear anything that occurred outside the device. He could not hear the whining of the titanium turbines, nor could he see the giant heads up display on the wall above the small tube. This was what Vidolf studied each time a new subject was inserted into the Mechta.
The screen was more than three meters in width and seemed to hover some six feet from the ground in which the tube was imbedded. It showed heart rate, brain wave spectrum, thought waves, disruption theory module spectrometry, eye movement, and neural stability algorithms. Most importantly and largest of all, however, it showed what the subject was viewing, or dreaming rather. Through all of the data that was being collected at millisecond intervals, Mechta, could draft, and reproduce onto the screen, exactly what the subject was living out within the dream.
This was critical to the project as a whole. They needed to know if what the subject was seeing was what they intended. Would it be a world within a world. A place that the subject could experience just as if they were really living it, all the while, sleeping soundly in the small sardine can tube that was Mechta.
The current Mechta was of course everything else as well, the turbines, the computers, the who’s-its and what’s-its of the current age technical peak. Yet one day, Vidolf believed the entire system could be self contained into the tube that T3 now occupied.
Vidolf watched the screen as he saw, through T3’s eyes that he was waking up in the dream. It was a replica of what had just happened. T3 again slid out of the organic tissue of the artificial womb fully grown and only slightly disoriented.
One pet peeve of the Doctor’s was to only see the beauty of the Mechta in two dimensions. He reached behind his small console and pulled out a small headset with black and gray opaque glass covering the lenses. When he put it on, it only took a few brief seconds for the device to wirelessly pick up the feed from the master screen of the Mechta. He suddenly was seeing everything in three dimensions through the eyes of T3. This still was not truly what Vidolf wanted, his true urning was to one day lay down in the completed capsule himself, but it would have to do until the machine was fully safe. Perhaps one day they would advance to actual human testing. The ‘Uglies’, as most of the world’s population called them, technically had no civil rights, no unshakable protective clauses guarding their life and wellbeing.
The world had always used them as spare parts and to fill slave like labor force duties. This made the clones a perfect subject for this phase of testing, due to the potential risks involved.
The big difference was that Vidolf’s mind knew that he was still standing there by the administrator’s console despite what was being viewed by his eyes. His mind remembered donning the device it was now viewing from. There was no way for Vidolf to lose himself in this vicarious dream machine. No, not until the human trials were underway.
He watched as T3 stepped down onto the floor, but did not flinch back up… Vidolf wondered to himself. Did the machine not render the coolness of the floor properly? Did it need to be analyzed to ensure that both the heat and cold parameters were activating correctly, or could it be that T3 recalled the floor being cold and therefore he was not surprised by its temperature and did not flinch back up. He pondered this notion a few more seconds before getting his answer.
As the doctor thought, the lenses over his eyes were filled with the motion of T3 and Vidolf’s digital self walking down the hallway toward the Mechta chamber. The doors whooshed open and upon entering the chamber, T3 looked up toward the western turbine. He’s looking for Dusolofv… It was the only explanation that could be possible. There was no other reason for the patient to be drawn to that corner unless there was some subconscious recollection of a similar event. A Deja Vu perhaps… Vidolf knew that he needed to make notes of this event, and pulled the goggles up off of his head.
He suddenly realized that Dusolofv was standing right beside him.
“Jesus, man!!! You can’t do that!”
Dusolofv burst out laughing and Vidolf could smell the cloud of intoxicated breath that plumed from the man’s lungs. It was like suffocating on the stagnant humid air inside an empty can of peaches.
“I know! It never gets old though. You get absorbed by it, you really do.” He wriggled his nose back and forth with the top of his hand, Vidolf thought, partly to scratch it and keep from sneezing, and partly to wipe the snot from his upper lip. “You can’t wait to climb into that thing can you?” Dusolofv asked.
“It would be entirely for research purposes and it will one day need to be done, we have to test on a human eventually.”
“I suppose you’re right, I just have one question.”
“Do you want to flip him halfway through cooking, or just let him roast the full way through like that?”
Vidolf, suddenly panicking, brought his eyes up to the main screen where lots of red bars and symbols had now appeared. T3’s heart rate was now at zero, and there was no data being registered for any of the other sensors. In the brief time that Vidolf had been distracted breathing in the noxious fumes of Dusolofv’s laughter, T3 had crashed, overheated, and much as Dusolofv had described, was now literally cooking within the capsule.
Vidolf slammed his hand down on the abort button and rushed down to the capsule. It was much too late however, as the capsule slid open and a vapor of warm death filled the testing chamber. Because of the fact that Vidolf had been in this very scenario three times before, he knew he was approaching the point of vomiting onto the floor. Lurching over so as to narrowly miss the inside of the capsule, he did just that.
Somewhere in his mind he could hear Dusolofv laughing at him again.
This meant set back, this meant starting over again, this meant going over every line of data, and every event sequenced to find the moment that things began to go bad. He would then have to investigate what the Mechta was doing at that exact moment to figure out what needed to be changed. That alone may take weeks. Then he would have to wait for Dusolofv to make any needed adjustments on the mechanical end. More waiting. Finally they would incubate in the umbilical and wait once more.
“First of all then, I perceived by my senses that I had a head, hands, feet and other limbs making up the body which I regarded as part of myself, or perhaps even as my whole self. I also perceived by my senses that this body was situated among many other bodies which could affect it in various favorable or unfavorable ways; and I gauged the favorable effects by a sensation of pleasure, and the unfavorable ones by a sensation of pain.” *Rene Descartes, The First Meditation*
1 : The War Room
“But we’ve come so far, don’t you think it’s possible?”
“Of course I think its possible. You know I believe you, Amos. It’s not a question of that. It’s just that Jenkins Co. has made financial stakes into the stocks of many of the big players in this field. Jenkins Co. already had a voice that people listened but with these recent strategic moves in the market, he now has a voice that carries.”
Amos shook his head.
“But the fact that we’re even sitting here having this conversation… In this room James.”
“I know, I know. I think they will see that and know that the best thing to do is to wait, but its no longer a shoe in for you. Lester’s thrown his chips into the mix.”
“It’s like a sell out though. The panel won’t have control over what he does. Not like they have over us and our facility. We’re on the same R & D campus as their boardroom!”
“No, it’s not that easy Amos. He’s slowly convincing everyone that your goals are a lost cause, it’s as if it’s almost cultish to believe in what you’re attempting. All the while he’s the one out there making converts.”
“He doesn’t even want to send humans James. How does that benefit us at all?”
“In theory it would all come about after the initial colony was established.”
“So once the Uglies decide that humanity can exist again, they’ll grow us. Is that what you’re saying James? He’s going to send out a bunch of Genetics into space on a ship full of artificial wombs and the hope of mankind riding on their shoulders.”
“That’s almost exactly it, Amos, and you shouldn’t poke fun at it, his idea is more realized than your own from the perspective of most investors at this point. You have to do some major convincing, and you can’t be dogmatic about this project anymore, Amos. You have to show them something concrete and tangible. For investors, the days of faith are long dead, and the world is letting go of the old ways more and more each day.”
“What are you saying, James? The way you’re sounding it’s like we’re done already. Like the whole world is already behind Jenkins Co. and the human soup salvation system.”
“Quit talking like that Amos! I’m riding a fine line as it is. I could lose my stars if you keep talking like a deranged radical!”
“What happened to you… It’s starting to get to you isn’t it? Something’s making you lose your faith too… isn’t it? James, you used to be stronger. It’s always been radical to think this way. You have to confide in the belief that there is concreteness even in believing the old ways. Just because it’s unpopular doesn’t mean it’s wrong and just because it’s dangerous doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. We are brothers in our belief, James, and it’s ok to ‘talk’ in here to me.”
“No, Amos, I need you to stop. Corporations like Jenkins Co. have head hunters in the system. They’re just looking for people to blacklist as a Dogmatic Radical. It’s too risky, even in here it’s too risky. A large majority of the people funding this already believe they can reset human history by getting with Jenkin’s plan, and that’s motivation enough to jump into his pool and not yours.”
“They’ll erase 6,000 years of history?! And people are supporting that?”
“Not erase Amos, rewrite. The Ark project would be used to further the human race, but also safeguard it from having the same horrible history as we have had here.”
“I can’t believe you would talk to me like this James… In this room, where you know it’s safe, you bring the ghosts of that world and try to convince me it’s over. Ye of little faith.”
“Don’t spit the Bible in my face Amos, it won’t work. Listen, I’m not here to squash your ego or anything. I called this up to warn you that you’re walking into a bees nest today and you need to be ready. I can’t help the fact that I’m scared, but you need to know I still believe in you Amos, and you haven’t failed us yet. I’m just scared of the fact that everyday that goes by that there is not a CADOS machine, fully operational, ready to blast off on a one way trip to Fristad, is another day that Jenkins has to spew poison into the network and turn the average Joe into a doubter.”
“It just can’t be… I thought we were stronger than that. I thought belief went deeper than…”
“Have you looked at the numbers recently, Amos?”
“I’ve stopped looking.”
“More people would rather opt for the reset strategy knowing full well that they’re whole generation will perish in the coming inferno, than they would in clinging to the hope of you inventing your promised machine. Hope is hard, Amos, it’s never been harder than today. To hope means to go against every trend in modern society, to go against the last 300 years of scientific thought. It’s equated to lunatic conditions of the mind thought harbored by the most violent of our past horrors.
You don’t want to talk about radicals, but just look at what religion has done to us, Amos. You don’t want to face your ghosts, but you have to know that in the very near, real and possible future what we are now discussing will carry the penalty of death… I’m simply talking rational man and I need you to wake up and see that. You have to go against Jenkins now, your ghost has come home and he wants in on the interstellar travel deal. You have to pitch to the board, face off against Jenkins, that sly snake, and win this for humanity, if that’s what you still believe you can do?”
“It’s never been this hard before James. I haven’t even spoken to Lester since the end of Grad School. I exiled him from my thoughts and banished him from my life after what he did. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I see him…, but there is always hope… even still and I know this doesn’t have to end in violence.”
“You want to talk about hope Amos, the ship that can be built today with technology, that exists today in a world that could unravel tomorrow… that’s hope to them, what you’re trying to sell them on is the scariest thing on Earth. Waiting when there seems to not be time left to wait. It would take the will of God to convince someone to go with that plan.”
“Maybe that’s how I’ll pitch it to them then.”
“You have a meeting to get to Mr. Laraighn, need I remind you further?”
“Host is ending transmission in 5 seconds.”
“Any advice on what to say, James?”
“Don’t let them ignore what you’ve already done… And if you need to, beg them to see you through.”
Amos’ vision went blank and he knew that the general had terminated the War Room session. Amos removed the white virtual display head mount and stared at it in his hands. In some ways he knew the General was right, as long as the mind was cognitive of the illusion, he was sure to fail. They had precious little time left to pull off what in some ways boiled down to the biggest slide of hand trick in human history. The war room was an impressive demonstration of virtual technology, but he had known the whole time that he was in a virtual world. He had to convince a human mind that it was actually living out a life in what was really a dream. He was close, but close wouldn’t cut it. He had to get past these last crucial hurdles.
His research partner, Dave Harkins walked in.
“How’d it go?” He asked as he thumbed through some pages on his docuviz, or documatic visualizer. Essentially it was a clip board like devise with data storing plastic pages, so thin, they felt like paper. The clip board, commonly called the dock, wirelessly sent pages of data to the pages so that they would continually refresh depending on where you were in the document. A small camera on the clip part of the dock could determine, based on the positioning and speed of your eye movement, where in the page you were, it would then time the refresh at the most appropriate time so that the document gave the impression of being seamless. The oculus could tell if you wanted to see previous pages or to advance further. It was mainly a device for those who wished to maintain some vintage flare of the older generation’s business processes.
“Ehhh, not so good.” Amos stood up and got his jacket on. He spun around to his desk and got his data drive, his tablet and his small green army issue satchel. They were the only style of business bags or briefcases allowed on the base. Not even purses could get in, unless the purse was itself a small green army issue satchel, which most on base female workers had adopted. The big rumor was that the bags allowed each employee to not only be tracked, but they could also sense what their contents were and make analysis on whether they were common, everyday items, or something abnormal that should be taken note of. Whether this rumor carried any truth or not, Amos grabbed his bag all the same and dodged past Harkins without telling him any more than “Ehhh, not so good.”
“You’re seriously leaving!” Harkins was dumbfounded. “We have work to do! Where are you going? We’re almost ready for another Ghost run. The Lieutenant will be here soon.”
“No we’re not, and no she won’t.” Amos said without turning around. I’ve got to go in, they’ve called another meeting. It’s only been three months this time and they’ve already called another meeting of the panel. I’ve got to go sell the idea to them again.” Amos was almost at the back door of the facility at the end of the hall.
“The full panel?” Harkins questioned.
“Yep.” Amos said as he opened the door. He turned and looked back at Harkins.
Harkins could tell that his friend was fatigued.
“And you’re ready for that?”
“I don’t have a choice… they’ve called the meeting, so I have to stop everything and go in, ready or not. I’ll come up with something. I have most of the current data and notes.”
“ I’ll let you know how it goes and explain everything else later… sorry. You’ll hold down the fort for awhile?”
Harkins nodded. “We can talk about this later too.” He held up his docuviz. “Make sure you meet up with the Lieutenant.”
“Will do.” Amos said and then he exited, the door pulling silently shut behind him.
“I am now awake, and see some truth; but since my vision is not yet clear enough, I will deliberately fall asleep so that my dreams may provide a truer and clearer representation. ‘I thus realize that none of the things that the imagination enables me to grasp is at all relevant to this knowledge of myself which I possess, and that the mind must therefore be most carefully diverted from such things if it is to perceive its own nature as distinctly as possible.” *Rene Descartes, The First Meditation*
2 : A Brief Word on Hypersleep Studies
Amos sat staring at himself in the reflective surface of the polished floor. He muttered to himself without drawing attention to himself or causing alarm in any of the people walking about the open lobby. He sat on the cushioned seat next to a tall set of slate colored elevator doors. It was an elevator that never opened unless someone was called to the top. Today that someone was Amos, and so he waited until the time came that the doors would open and he would be whisked up to the 58th story of the DCIT headquarters building.
Today was a very big day, one that he should have better prepared for. Instead he was unkept, and slightly disheveled. He had been rushed into the current state that he found himself when a call came at 0400 waking him up. It was the General telling him that the board wanted to hold a pop meeting to see what the status was on his project. It was approaching time for renewal of his grant; things always got screwy at grant time. Luckily he had fallen asleep in the lab the previous night and was able to get some things together before Harkins and the rest of the team had arrived.
He muttered lines out loud to himself to hear how they sounded audibly, preparing a presentation one line at a time. He had been waiting in front of the elevator for fifteen minutes, partially worried as to why it had not opened, yet partially grateful for any additional time he had to prepare.
The night before, he was comfortably tilted backwards in his high backed office chair sipping hot tea at the lab across base. If confronted with the sight, one may have drawn the perception that Amos had been at leisure, yet it would mean they did not know Amos Laraighn. He was working hard in fact. Toiling over something in his mind… something that was to change the future of mankind dramatically. Amos saw it as the single most important thing out of…well everything.
CADOS was the key to sustaining the future, but it would have to wait in the safe keeping of Harkins until Amos returned. Amos could hear the buzz of the elevator as it came speedily down the shaft. He stacked his research notes and shoved them back into his briefcase. He quickly brushed a hand through his thick brown hair and stood up in front of the elevator doors. reaching into his pocket he fondled the data drive he had brought. It had some updated notes and unsorted data from Harkins’ team leader Douglas, the rest of the data was comprised of bits from a loosely drawn presentation he had drafted as a professional recommendation for the team of lab technicians that he and Harkins had last year.
The elevator doors suddenly and silently slid open. Amos was shell shocked when someone stepped out. He didn’t know what he hated more, the sight of seeing Lester Jenkins step off the elevator with that notoriously soulless smile on his face, or the idea that the top floor had requested to speak with Lester first.
“Amos! So great to see you. Sounds like we’re going to be working closely together on this one old buddy. We both knew that it would take Fate of the World kinda stuff to bring us back together.”
“Eat it Les! We’re not back together, I’ll make sure they know that. Rest assured that I’ll spend a good portion of my time up there convincing them you’re a bad seed.” He stepped aboard and shut the elevator doors just as Lester was saying something to the effect of “We’ll see about that.”
He sighed deeply and pushed the button for the top floor. His palms were sweaty, his heart was all jumpy as the elevator jolted upward at a steady pace. He could work miracles if he needed to…but he couldn’t work with Lester, they had to know that. The elevator halted at the top floor, there wasn’t even a chime as the doors opened. Before him there was a short elaborately decorated hallway that led to only one set of doors. Amos gathered himself and stepped forward.
As he walked in, they all looked up from their terminals. There were no greetings exchanged, they simply took visual note of him as he approached the podium in front of their conjoined panel. There were eight of them. Two more than Amos was used to on the military research panel that he presented to twice a year at another section of the base. This was the board of regents, the executive faces of the eight companies who now owned the United States Military. Amos knew that the next thirty minutes would speak life or death into his project. They had to know of its importance.
He stepped to the podium and after a brief interaction with the holomonitor in front of him, the large white wall behind the podium lit up with thousands and thousands of tiny lights, essentially becoming a floor to ceiling monitor. Soon the title page of his presentation was lit up in twelve inch letters across the wall. Amos stepped to the side as the podium sank into a hollow nook in the floor.
“Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen. My name is Dr. Amos Laraighn. I am the lead scientist on the CADOS project, grant number 1259072.” He paused for a moment to see if there were any opening statements from the board. There wasn’t so much as a cough. He continued.
“One thing is certain of both you and I…. we are all certain to die. This is one inevitable truth that cannot be escaped nor can it be ignored. When one begins to accept this in a logical sense, one will realize that the meaning of life is evident and ever present around us. Our purpose friends in our short time in this plane of existence is to prolong the heritage and being of the human race. The hope of doing so seems to dwindle when one sees the earth around us dying.”
He walked to the window and stood there for a moment.
“Just look out the window and you can see that we are living in a world that seeks to destroy us. According to many of the top researchers of today, our civilization is at a close. How do we change this? How can we reverse fate you ask?”
He turned back to the monitor, clicked the button and refreshed the screen which had gone dark.
“We are at the cusp of creating a new life for the human race…abundant life. In some very real way, what I am about to discuss with you is less about space travel and more about the ponderance of a future for human beings.”
The words behind Amos read A Brief Word on Hypersleep Studies. He clicked the program forward and the words faded, the tiny bulbs projected their light outward creating the three dimensional image of a starship floating in the middle of the wall. The lights then moved which gave the effect that the ship was slowly moving toward the board members.
“As you all know, the Department of Colonization and Interstellar Travel has begun work on the flagship that is to one day travel across the known universe. Much work went into the elaborate designs for this project. Dr. Harkins and myself personally helped to design the new Gravity Shroud Engines which will allow for near light travel. Even still the movement across space will take many hundreds of years. I ask you what would be the value of going across space if you could not get anywhere before the inevitable closing of your life occurred? There simply is little to no value in this…”
“And what do you propose, Mr. Laraighn, we do in a situation such as the one you’re describing?” The Honorable Gordon Steves asked from the middle of the group. Steves was the chairman, he headed up the corporation Freedom United which housed the Army.
“Wait, I’d like to interject before you answer, if you would allow Chairman?” This came from Marshall Ghosten. Ghosten was the Chief Executive for the Widens Corporation. Widens Corp. owned what was once the Navy, Coast Guard and any other sea-going service. They had made the oceans such an expensive place to travel that no other industry could thrive over water without the Widens Corp. being expressly attached to it. Rumors had been circling for years that Widens was profiting from the secret dealings with rings of pirates and renegades who would destroy the vessels of competing shippers. Thus Widens was able to strengthen the Navy under its helm, while also wiping out the competition.
The Chairman nodded to Mr. Ghosten.
“Mr. Laraighn… After some initial review of your early research, there appeared to be evidence for the possibility of faster than light travel. You yourself just stated that you worked personally on that project.”
“Yes that is true, to some extent we did find evidence of faster than light travel, but it was proven to be a mistake.”
“Could you elaborate on that a bit Mr. Laraighn?”
“Yes Sir, absolutely.”
Amos thumbed at the small remote device in his hand for a brief moment and then the holographic ship vanished and the screen quickly went back to white backlighting with black letters. The screen read GS Engines.
“The Gravity Shroud Engine is not truly an engine in the traditional sense. The Engine part of the GS Engine is actually a black hole replicator and the GS or gravity shroud is not an actual device, but a place. The gravity shroud is a plane of existence that exists within the warped space produced by a replicated collapsing black hole.”
Amos clicked to the next screen which displayed a laboratory with different mirrors set up and a red beam of light shining on each mirror.
“The initial evidence that you spoke of Mr. Ghosten, was produced in this laboratory in Texas. It is built in one of the twelve offsets of the SMHC facility in western Texas. The Super Modern Hadron Collider facility allowed for a stage three grant experiment to be conducted in 2047. The experiment was comprised of several thousand mirrors which would create an infinite ring of light. The beam of a laser was focused into this mirror chain and began to circle endlessly around the ring of light. This was used as an attempt to super charge the radiancy of the beam for testing. the beam was then released into the outer ring of the collider which was also fitted with mirrors. The inner two rings had been charging the subatomic particles necessary for the generation of a collapsing black hole. In the final stage of the experiment, the particles were released into the ring containing the laser beam and were collided just nanoseconds before colliding with the photons of the laser beam. In a sense a black hole was generated directly in front of the light. What we recorded is still somewhat of a mystery to everyone who analyzes the data. One millisecond later, the laser disappeared, but the chamber was left charged for several hours afterword.”
“And what would that imply Mr. Laraighn?”
“Basically it was chalked off as we destroyed a laser beam. Some experts believe that the void of the black hole was too close and actually absorbed it, some others believe that the collider was just too big and the laser was not powerful enough to react to the experiment.”
“And you believe what, Mr. Laraighn?” This question came from the honorable Joseph Coleman, the first human to step foot on an astroid. His company Infinitech was one of the key players for all levels of space technologies. They now controlled former government programs like DARPA and NASA. Amos looked to Coleman as somewhat of a role model, and hoped that the big dreams that he was soon to describe would carry the ring of nostalgia in the old man’s ears. Amos could still picture the old commercials of Coleman in his Astronomech Suit walking up to the screen and saying…Today, Tomorrow, Infinity! Come explore with Infinitech.
“I believe to this day that the experiment was a success, we just simply did not know what we had achieved. We experimented with both of the other possibilities and disproved them in my opinion. Then we ran the original test again and recorded the original outcome. I believe we were effectively pulling the laser using gravity and because it was traveling at the speed of light, we could no longer see it in our relative time because it existed in a time that was milliseconds ahead of our own. Because the laser is a form of electrically produced light, we could still pick up the charge in the air as when a laser has just passed.”
Feeling confident that he had answered all their questions regarding the SMHC experiments, Amos moved on with regard to the Gravity Shroud.
“When the GS concept was initially proposed it was shot down for being too costly.” He waved his hand again toward the projector and the screen switched to a three dimensional picture of one of the old Infinitech rockets. “However, when Mr. Coleman’s astroid teams discovered the bevy of rare minerals that those cascading rocks offered, the space world ignited once again and the GS Engine project received the green light for development phase.”
He waved and the screen showed a crude sketch of the ship, currently dubbed GS1. The ship was comprised of three large rings around a large tubular ship with small porthole windows. The largest was a metallic ring that acted as rigid framework for the support of the smaller rings. It was made of large metal beams which crisscrossed each other forming triangular shapes around the ring. Next was a ring of smaller circumference, but bulkier in makeup. It was made up of padded sections of space habitats. All the traditional white of space exploration vehicles. lastly there was a ring which housed large tubes that ran throughout its superstructure. These all encircled the main ship which could only be accessed from the outer habitats by small shaft elevators that ran intermittently through the framework of the great rings.
Amos looked upon the sketch with pride. Even though the sketch had the appearance of concept art, it was a well theorized idea, that he felt carried strong backing by others in the science world.
“The outer ring of the GS1 spacecraft houses the super collider of the ship. It will effectively generate the necessary energy to collide these particles and form the collapsing black hole. The colliders on earth form these in enclosed environments. The difference here is that the GS engine collision point will be some distance in front of the vessel. This will effectively warp the immediate space in front of the ship and pull the ship into this shroud of warp space.”
“How fast can it go?” Mr. Laraighn.
“The truth is that we don’t know for sure. As the course is driven, our progress will cease to be measured by elements such as speed, and will rely on elements such as distance and time.”
“Yes, but we aren’t stupid Mr. Laraighn. All speed is, is distance and time. Speed would be how much distance can be covered in a specific amount of time.”
“Yes, that is true and I meant no ill intent by my statement. What I merely meant is that when speed is measured here on earth the speed is almost always bound by a given course. Say if you were to run cars on a racetrack, there is a given course, therefore the car that finishes first or in the least amount of time must have been traveling at the highest rate of speed.”
He fumbled once more with the device in his hand until he found the appropriate section and then selected it. The sketch of the ship disappeared and some notes on relativity came up on the screen. This part of the presentation was not as polished as the rest in appearance.
“You’ll have to excuse the quality of this presentation, but I think it will illustrate what I’m getting at.”
He panned through several pages of material with quick waves of his hand until he found the correct page. There was a race car on the side of the screen closest to him. This first example would match that of a course within the normal confines of measurement. Any speed here on earth is bound by the constant that time is the same in all cases. This means if the race is who can get the farthest in one minute, it is assumed that that minute is experienced the same for all racers.”
He played the demo and the car began to move across the screen. At several markers a small flag appeared.
Finally the car crossed a finish line that was to symbolize five miles. All this was visualized by the changing led bulbs of the large projection screen.
“With the invention of the GS Engine it is not just the speed of the the vehicle that we must consider, but also the distance that the vehicle is forced to travel.”
He played the projection again and the car once more appeared on the left side of the screen the flags which marked the distances were still there. When the car began to travel across the screen however it was moving slower than before.
“If the slower car was forced to travel this same distance in the same fashion as the previous car, we could all conclude that it would take a longer amount of time to get there. Thus when the traditional sense of speed is considered, the second car is slower than the first.”
“Now I want you to consider the speed of light. That magic speed that science fiction has pushed us toward achieving since we were young children. Let me tell you why faster than light travel is a sham.”
He clicked again and a three dimensional diagram of the sun was displayed along with the planets making up the solar system. Our sun releases light, light in all directions in fact. The light that we see is the light that travels from the sun in a straight line to our earth. Because we know the distance from Earth to the Sun, and because the time that light takes to travel that distance can be replicated on a smaller experimental level, we know the speed of light. That speed is constant and unchanging in our normal space. We cannot travel faster than light. No ship can go such speeds, because no engine can produce such speeds.”
“I guess it’s my turn to reveal my limited understanding of how this all works Mr. Laraighn.” De’Ann Masterson spoke up. Amos had heard one time that her full name was Demitriana Andréa Masterson-Finch, but no one knew for sure. The space world knew her as De’Ann, the Queen B of Governmental project funding. She was the El Primo source for start-up funding, so much so that all the other backers would crumble without her nod to a project. Amos could almost see the puppet strings coming out of the Chairman’s back and going into De’Ann’s nurturing hands.
“Please, Madam Masterson, there is no wrong question, and I aim to do my very best to answer anything for you.”
“It’s my understanding that we are already building this ship. My money is going somewhere, along with everyone else’s in this room. Let’s cut some of the lesson and get to the part about how this is now a viable project. After all, this isn’t even the project that we brought you here to discuss.”
“Absolutely, if everyone is in agreement then, I will conclude this portion shortly.” Several members of the board nodded some just remained stoic, staring back at Amos.
“So skipping forward a bit, we see the race cars again and realize that instead of five miles, the finish line is now fifteen hundred light years away. lets start the fast car.”
Amos started it, but the car appeared not to move.
“You see at such great distances, even traveling fast would not get us anywhere. That’s where the Gravity Shroud comes in. It is in a sense our shortcut through space. If the original two cars were put on a five mile track again, but the slower car had a shortcut that would take it from the second flag, directly to the third flag in an instant, then it wouldn’t matter that the second car was traveling slower, because the distance would be shortened.”
“As Ms. Masterson has just pointed out, the GS1 spacecraft is being built as we speak, also, on top of that, the Searchlight 1 Rover is very near to completion and already awaiting a launch date. It will be our go to source for feedback as to what occurs within the gravity shroud.”
“Do we not know what will occur?”
“Yes we do know what will occur, we just don’t know exactly how much better it will work when projected in open space.”
“Again, you need to elaborate Mr. Laraighn.”
“Ok, so all we currently have are the results of small scale tests here on earth. We cannot go about creating any type of large scale experiment on earth when we’re talking about lightyears and blackholes. We can test small experiments and theorize what they might be like when performed at full scale and in space. We must build something to have this full scale test. The Searchlight 1 Rover is our ginny pig in this case. Soon it will be ported out to space and set loose to establish not only the first Gravity Shroud in space, but also to relay the first message from within an alternate time and space.
“And how exactly do you do something like that; communicate with something that is in many ways in another dimension? I mean you said so yourself that when the laser disappeared, you could no longer locate it. How then can you make this same scenario work in space.”
“Perhaps I misspoke when I said that we couldn’t detect the laser. What we were looking for is the beam, the actual light producing photons, and instead all we could record was the remaining energy as if we were always milliseconds behind the beam. When we began to theorize that the beam was now in an alternate time and we could not speed up our own time to catch it, we realized that studying the charged particles in the wake of the beam was the best that we could do. Taking this same research, we can surmise that a device stationed at the point of entry into the gravity shroud could relay fragments of this residual energy back to earth. The Searchlight 1 will station beacons at certain points that the onboard master computer classifies as “optimal”. In this fashion we will essentially be leaving a trail of breadcrumbs all the way to Fristad. Once the Searchlight is at its destination, it will begin sending back the data it collects from orbit. The rover will detach from the satellite and begin decent to the surface.”
He paused a moment making sure they were still with him. They were all listening intently, after all, what he was describing was the culmination of billions of dollars of investment perhaps by every face on the panel.
“The data will be sent back almost like morse code. Each time a transmitting beacon receives residual data, it will transmit a fresh occurrence of the data back toward the last beacon. In this manner, we essentially are creating not only the first interdimentional transmission on record, but we will also establish the first interstellar highway to Fristad.”
“Now Mr. Laraighn, what exactly is your proposal for this CADOS that we all have heard about.”
“In simplest form, CADOS is the inflight movie shown on a long 14 hour overseas flight to Norway lets say, which is fitting in this case. Except in the case of CADOS the flight isn’t to Norway, but a distant planet in a distant cluster of stars, and its not a 14 hour flight, but rather a 315 year long flight. People can go a bit stir crazy even on a 14 hour flight. I would propose that 315 years in space might be too much of a burden to ask of the human mind. You would have a whole generation living and dying in space. This brings up a unique problem for the theorist. In that several thousand awake and conscious minds traveling across space over the course of 300 years seems to throw too many variables into the equation. What if even one of these people goes insane or can’t take the constant degree of isolation. what if the next generation cannot perform the necessary duties required of them. What if there is mutiny, anarchy, depression, insanity, or any other possible social or psychological malfunction within the population onboard humanity’s only hope. I ask you…. can you risk it? After all it is your money that you are using to build this ship. You know that the finished ship will be able to get there, the real question is whether or not the inhabitants of the vessel will still be mentally and emotionally stable enough to perform the duties necessary to finish the mission once landed.”
He had painted the picture, now it was time to sell the product.
“This is the purpose of CADOS. CADOS is the dream machine which will condition the mind for travel and landing, while simultaneously preserving the body all those years as the mission personnel blast through space toward Fristad. CADOS is comprised of four parts. The stasis chamber harbors the body in a state of near stasis intervals. It slows the aging of the body and its cells to a one to eight ratio. In a sense if the trip is 300 years long, the sleepers will ultimately age nearly forty years. The second part of CADOS is the retriever system. It continually analyzes the body for signs of problems or anomalies. It sends the collected data to the master CADOS which helms not only the control over each individual machine, but the entire course of the ship. The master CADOS or third part, is crucial to the probability of success. This is what will drive the ship toward Fristad, keeping it on course for the landing. It will also be what initiates the wake up for the 100,000 or so sleeping individuals onboard the ship. Finally it will oversee the maintenance and well being of every one of the onboard personnel. Essentially it is the hotel manager. The last part of the CADOS project and the one part that is posing the highest degree of difficulty is the CADOS dream system.”
“Why is it that this part is such a challenge to you Mr. Laraighn?”
“It is an attempt by a computer to gain the complete trust of the sleeping person, and convince their mind that they are somewhere else entirely. The computer must also convince the brain on a primitive and biological level that the entire body with all its functions is within the dream.”
“And this has not currently been successfully produced?”
“No, not to the perfection that we are seeking.” Amos admitted.
“Why is that, Mr. Laraighn?”
“The primary reason is that the mind is far more complex and clever than any computer ever has been. To be completely honest, we can successfully convince the mind that it is somewhere else, even to the point that the sleeper is going along with the dream, we just can’t get past the subconscious levels of the brain. In other words we are fighting the firewalls and failsafes of the human mind.”
“What sort of failsafes?”
“What we have discovered is that at the same time that your conscious brain is living life on the surface level, i. e. taking in life, learning,collecting data, responding to worldly stimulus, your subconscious brain is doing other things entirely. Your subconscious receives stimulus well before your conscious mind even knows about it. Now take into account that by the time your conscious mind gains awareness to something, your subconscious mind has already run it through a battery of pass/fail tests. If any of these outward forces fail to meet the required normalcy of the subconscious mind, the subconscious alerts the conscious to the stimulus with attached stipulations.”
Amos could almost hear the glassing of eyes. He cleared the mounting nerves from his throat.
“Essentially what it boils down to is the body propelling itself to look at the situation again. A real world example is that of a high end optical illusion. A really good optical illusion will sometimes completely trick the conscious mind. After all, what the eyes see and the ears hear, almost always becomes the truth to the conscious mind. It is our subconscious that says, “but wait, look again…” It is our subconscious that senses even the smallest fluctuation of temperature drop or air pressure change and sends the hairs on our neck standing on end. Again, it is the one that senses when we are not alone in the house and alerts the consciousness to be still and investigate.”
“And how is this battle between the two brains effecting your research exactly Mr. Laraighn?” The chairman asked.
“We are encountering situations in which the conscious brain appears normal and assumes the reality provided by the CADOS, the subconscious brain however, senses that something is not quite right and starts testing the environment. Somehow, the subconscious is able to discover that the body is not actually living out any of the actions that the CADOS would have it believe. The subconscious is realizing that the body is actually severed from receiving any actual stimulus. This is due to our efforts to stabilize the body in a state of near stasis. What happens next is very complex, but rather simple to sum up, when the subconscious determines that the body is responding as though ‘lifeless’ the brain seems to go through the actions of self terminating.”
He heard the change in posture of the panel and whispers began to spread amongst them.
“Don’t get me wrong, everything that we are doing right now is in the simulating stages. We have not killed anyone. But I know that we will never be able to move forward with the thought of a human trial until we tackle this issue.”
“Mr. Laraighn, I don’t know how to respond to what you are saying except to say that what you are describing is very alarming indeed. Would you like to enlighten us with how you propose tackling this issue of self termination of the brain?
“We have to surpass what we have coined the Chiliagonal Threshold.”
DeAnn let out a big sigh and Steves slunk down into his seat. Amos knew that he was losing them. He no longer had any flashy slides or sales gimmicks. His mind began to panic as he imagined Lester swooning them with romantic love stories of lower cost and quicker delivery. It was the same story Lester always told no matter what he was pitching. Amos knew Lester’s tricks, but the panel didn’t. If they had been sold by the smoke and mirrors, Amos would lose them with long-windedness.
“Rene Descartes, the philosopher, spoke of the shape of a Chiliagon in his writings of the mind and his own existence. A chiliagon is a shape with a thousand equal sides which forms a circular shape. In fact, to the naked eye, a chiliagon will almost always be mistaken for a circle. Now if you take this same shape and try to imagine it in your mind, you can never be certain that what you are imagining is really a chiliagon. It is a shape that is too complex for the mind to see any of the errors or limitations. Because the shape is too complex for the subconscious to rule that there is a problem, it is forced to side with the judgement of the conscious brain’s determination and accept what it sees as reality. If ever there was to be a problem, the world CADOS creates will be so complex that the subconscious will have trouble finding any support for the problem and will again have to default and side with the observations of the conscious. This is the Chiliagonal Threshold.”
“And you can achieve this?” Coleman asked. For the first time, Amos realized that Coleman was sitting rather abruptly forward in his seat, perhaps even teetering on the edge. This gave Amos new hope; at least someone on the panel seemed interested in the project they were already funding.
“It’s no longer a question of if we can, we will. If the esteemed members of the panel can hold out a little longer, I know we will get it right and long term, long distance space travel will be possible. If a ship is sent without CADOS, it is my belief that everyone who embarks on that voyage is in grave danger. They will lose themselves in the darkness of space, perhaps harming themselves and others in the process. It is unlikely that the ship will reach its destination, which will result in utter mission failure. Of course that is one probable outcome, the question is whether you wish to wager that much time, resource, money and above all the lives of the crew, just to save a few months time or a few million dollars now.”
Amos paused and put down the demonstration controller to signify that he was essentially done. He expected questions, even a verbal attack perhaps. Instead, Ghosten leaned over and whispered something into the Chairman’s ear, then DeAnn scooted in behind them and formed a small huddle. Coleman just stared at Amos as if still determining if Amos had the qualities and capabilities enough to pull the job off.
It was DeAnn who first noticed that Amos was trying to listen in. She raised up from behind the huddle like a meerkat sensing a predator, then ducked back down and whispered to Steves. Steves, then briefly looked his way and whispered back to the huddle, they suddenly splintered off and the huddle was no more.
“Uhhh, Mr. Laraighn, could you give us a moment to discuss a few things and then we will call you back in shortly?” Steves asked, as he organized the documents on the counter back into a neat stack.
Amos nodded and then stepped outside into the small foyer that lay between the elevator and the board room where the panel was. He felt so utterly confused suddenly. Lester, the snake, had somehow crept back into his life and upheaved him from a contract that was already being funded. It wasn’t just uncommon it was quite nearly unheard of.
All he could think about was the timeline of his previous work with the GS engines. He had been late on delivery then as well. He’d missed every deadline they gave him, and just when he began to feel the heat being applied under his feet, he completed it.
This should be no different, government deadlines were so notoriously pushed back it was a wonder anyone even put them on projects in the first place. No, this was something different. It was out of the ordinary patterns of the panel, this was something entirely of Lester’s doing. Amos felt like a pawn in a game of chess, but somehow the board had been rearranged and now he was quickly scrambling to determine what all lay against him, before checkmate was heard.
He looked in the mirror at his reflection. He didn’t look half as jobbled as he felt. He took a deep breath. Soon they would call him back in, he had to gather his thoughts back in order to defend his position if they started pulling the floor out from under him.
‘They at least have to discuss it’ he thought. Which meant that his fate wasn’t entirely sealed when he walked in. Which also meant that Jenkins was not in control of this quite yet.
He sat, on a comfy leather upholstered bench across from the mirror and tried to dissolve himself of any doubt that this was the way things were meant to play out. He was one of the few who still believed that everything happened for a reason, and because of that, everything had a purpose. Life was not just mere random chaos. The Earth was not a near unique product of the most minuscule probable chance that all that chaos formed some sort of order. No, life was always driving toward some purposeful future, it had to be. There was no other reasonable or logical explanation. It was quite possibly the only answer that made sense. And life, at least Amos’s life was driving toward CADOS. It was in a sense his destiny and purpose. He could feel it in his core like the marrow in his bones or the beat to his heart. He still, however, had the difficult task of convincing the panel of this, without scaring them off with dogmatic fervor. To a non-believer, practicality and functionality were the sell points on which to focus. To them, if God was part of the plan, there was no plan.
Soon they called him back in by way of a female sounding, electronic voice saying; “The panel members will see you now, Mr. Laraighn.” It came from some hidden speaker system perhaps in the mirror, or behind it, Amos couldn’t tell.
He walked in and saw that the panel was back in orderly fashion. Amos caught the brief feeling of Deja Vu as he approached the little white podium once more as if an entirely new meeting was about to begin.
“Mr. Laraighn”, the chairman started, “We appreciate you coming in today and we especially appreciate the candidness and thoroughness of your presentation today.”
Amos could sense that there was an earth rattling ‘but’ coming. He could almost see the chairman’s lips pressing together to utter the word. There was a nervousness in his knees and hands that had not been there before this moment. He felt beads of sweat forming along his hairline.
“But, Mr. Jenkins and Jenkins Co. has a solid…”
“I’ll finish it before the shareholders meeting in August!” Amos didn’t even know what he was saying before it had already been said. “I’ll finish it, it can be done, I can do it… and it will be done right, I’ll see to that.” He suddenly felt faint as he realized what he had just blurted.
The chairman gave a slight shake to his head as if shocked that he had been interrupted.
“But, Mr. Laraighn, Jenkins Co., …..” As if his first outburst had not been rude enough, Amos interrupted again…
“Let me present at the shareholder’s gala in August. If then you aren’t satisfied, you can go with Lester… In fact, let us both present our plans to the shareholders and we can let them decide what to do.”
The chairman was at the edge of his decency, but Amos saw that the other members of the panel had no appearance of ill feelings. Coleman was smiling with glassed over eyes as if ready to commend Amos for bravery, De’Ann had the pinched lip smile of a woman attracted to spontaneous spurts of audacity. Ghosten was leaning back as if dislodged from the meeting entirely. Perhaps he had moved on to the important decision of what to eat for lunch. It was only Steves who had the appearance of a lion ready to bite his head off.
“Mr. Laraighn!! I would advise you not to do that again!”
Suddenly De’Ann covered her microphone and leaned over to Steves, whispering something in his ear. Steves looked shocked and had to make eye contact with her to see if she was serious. After confirming that his colleague was, he gave a solemn glance toward Ghosten and Coleman, they both nodded casually and then it was apparent that all control had shifted back to Steves, who now tried to mask his frustration.
“Well Mr. Laraighn, it appears that we no longer have a conclusive answer of you. I will now motion to adjourn our meeting and we will send word to your supervisory committee once we’v had enough time to iron something out.”
Amos nodded respectfully, then without speaking he approached the elevated counter and shoot each of their hands. It was a somewhat untraditional gesture in this day and age, but Amos still believed in the power of nonverbal displays of respect.
He walked back out to the foyer to an elevator that had already sensed his approach and awaited him with open doors. he climbed aboard. As the elevator descended briskly back toward the first floor lobby, Amos felt a mixture of euphoria and panic. He knew that somehow he had been staved from a complex bureaucratic assassination attempt, while simultaneously dooming himself to a voluntarily conceived public execution by way of shareholder flogging.
When the elevator stopped and the doors opened into the lobby, his weight equalized and the euphoria vanished. Now there was merely panic. He needed Harkins around to brainstorm with. Harkins would help him level the situation, it couldn’t be all bad. If there was any way to achieve success by August, Harkins would know. There had to be some way…