Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Saturday May 22, 1999
It was a short drive from the 3rd Division headquarters’ building in which they had been meeting to the paved area where they were staging for the exploration of the two worlds. PM Hunt’s party went to the covered bleachers that had been provided to watch the event. Ian Macphater, accompanied by his two grandsons, Ian and Willy Maclaren went over to the MME area.
Andy Macphater looked up as his father and nephews approached. “Dad, Karen reports that all the equipment for both worlds is in place. She is having most of the drivers take a break and have something to eat. Isaac says that his crew is ready. Brad took his crew to the chapel to rest.”
The older Ian had a hard time not laughing. He had been getting these reports mentally since the meeting ended. Andy had just repeated the messages to disguise the mental communication that they all now used.
Andy continued. “Professor Siftarski is threatening to open the window and go on through if things don’t get moving soon. His people are as ready and eager as he is. I’m not sure if he understands that we’re not in charge anymore.”
“Charlie is just excited.” Ian Maclaren replied. “He would get that way in class and on field trips. Geology is his life. I hope Chancellor Lewis knew what he was doing appointing him to lead the science team for the fire world. I could see him going off and forgetting everybody if he finds something interesting. I remember the first class of his that I took. The graduate that was helping him was looking for more from him than geology. I thought that she was succeeding but on the first field trip, he found a rock formation and forgot about all of us including her. She hardly talked to him in the classes after that.”
“Go tell Isaac to keep an eye on him. We don’t need any of the science team going astray.” Ian Macphater ordered Ian.
“I’ll go with you. Then you can introduce me to Professor Siftarski.” Cynthia Macphater had an eager but worried look.
“Cindy, what do you need me for?” Ian asked his cousin. “You’re the fire world logistics coordinator. Charlie runs one of the teams that you are supporting. You met him in the kickoff meeting.”
“Brother, Cindy is not interested in being introduced to the Professor, she wants to meet you friend Charlie. I will go with both of you.” Willy smiled at his cousin. “Cindy, having just found Linda, I may be the best one to tell you if you are right.”
Cindy was blushing as the three of them head off.
“I think I may have another grandchild marrying soon. You noticed that she was only talking.” Ian Macphater was also smiling.
“Maybe I should meet him.” Gav Macphater got up from where he was sitting.
“She does not need her father sticking his nose down there.” Don Macphater told his brother. “He’s an excellent geologist. I’m glad that Ian convinced him to transfer to JCU. Simon says that he’s one of the best additions that we have brought him.” Simon was Chancellor Simon Lewis of James Cook University where the members of the science teams taught. Additional scientists would be coming from other Australian universities as well as from public and private organizations but they wouldn’t arrive before Monday. Leslie Macphater had worked the last couple of years to add to JCU the scientists that they would need to investigate the new worlds. She had sought funding for the staff increases mostly through getting additional funding for JCU but in a few cases; MME fully funded a new position.
“Dad, how did Jess look when he spoke about the dreams. I knew the three of them were very close and had secrets but I never thought that they could have kept something so major to themselves.” Andy was very concerned by the dreams of a major disaster that Jess had spoke of and didn’t realized he has spoken of something he shouldn’t know.
“What makes you think that your sister didn’t know?” Ian said as he sends his eldest child a mental reprimand for commenting on a meeting of which he should have no knowledge. “She saw these new worlds important enough to talk me into remaining chairman so that she could work on preparing for them. I always suspected that there was more that she wasn’t saying.”
Ian and his sons switched to private mental communication among themselves.
Willy, Ian, and Cindy had just left their cousin Isaac and arrived where Professor Charlie Siftarski was pacing. His eagerness to be going was obvious.
“Charlie, take a drink of water and sit down. You need to be rested so that you can make the most of the time that you will have over there.” Ian told his former professor.
Charlie smiled at Ian. “You know how I get when I find something new and everything there will be new.”
“You’re main work will be co-coordinating the scientist. Kuan is running the geology survey.” Ian reminds him.
“True, but Chancellor Lewis and General Albright gave me a bigger assignment. I’m to do a comparative report of the geological histories of the five worlds.” Charlie was very excited.
“That is more of a reason to take it easy. You only have a few hours until dark on Fire, so you will be able to get some time on Air if you aren’t too tired. I’ll ask Jon if he will …” Cindy was cut off by Charlie.
“I could see Air today?”
“It shouldn’t be a problem. The sooner you get a feel of all the worlds, the sooner you can decide how to proceed.” Cindy has caught Charlie excitement.
Charlie realized that he had met this woman but couldn’t remember who she was. He turned to Ian with a questioning look.
“Charlie, let me introduce my cousin, Cynthia Macphater. Cindy is your logistic coordinator.”
Charlie shakes her hands but continues to hold her hand for a couple of seconds until he turned back to Ian. “What will you be doing?”
“Willy and I just get to sit and wait until someone needs help. We were each to lead a security team but with the Army here, we’re part of the reserve. Some of our security people are going over to provide non-lethal deterrence to any animals that wander too close but they are reporting to the Army.”
“You do have the observation window to set up and check to see if Marie’s figures are correct. The two of you are the experts.” Cindy reminded them of the request that Marie had made just after the meeting.
“Observation window?” Charlie asks.
“It is a small window with a video camera. It takes pictures of all four other worlds and then rotates ninety degrees and repeats until it has images in all directions from a location. You could get copies of all the pictures that were taken and the new ones as they are filed.” Willy explained.
“Yes, those would be a big help.”
“OK, I will go talk to Jon about authorizing your visit to Air later today and about providing you copies of the observation windows pictures. We could build another observation window for you to use?” Cindy suggested.
“Would you do that for me?” Charlie stared at her trying to understand what he felt about this woman.
“I would do it for you even if it wasn’t a part of my job.” Cindy’s smiled at Charlie caused him to break in to a grin.
“Even if it wasn’t a part of your job?” Charlie was confused by the reaction that he was having to Cindy.
“Cindy is in charge of logistics for all activity on the Fire world. That means that she is responsible for getting you what you need to perform your job.” Ian pause was barely perceptible as he mentally communicates with Willy and Cindy.
Willy, do you agree?
Yes, Charlie and Cindy are Life-Mates. I see what you mean about how he can get wrapped up in his work. He notices that Cindy is special but I wonder if he ever had a date.
I will take care of that tonight. Cindy told her cousins. Can he and I join you tonight when you talk to the Lawsons?
Ian contacted his wife Naz to let her know to expect two more for dinner. She was eager to hear all about the new worlds. Being pregnant, they were keeping her and others of higher risk away from the new worlds until possible risks were assessed. “Charlie, would you have dinner with us tonight? We could discuss things then.”
“That would be great. I was figuring that I would be too tired to cook.” Charlie had been keeping an eye on the window where the soldiers were now preparing to go into the Fire world. “They are getting ready to go. I have to check my equipment.”
Willy and Ian started towards the window generator that will be used to make the initial entry to the fire world. Ian looked to Charlie. “We will see you for dinner then. Cindy, can you bring Charlie to the house?”
“I have my car at JCU. You just need to give me directions.” Charlie doesn’t know why he said that. He found that he was interested in spending some time alone with Cindy.
“We will just catch a ride over to your car and then take it.” Cindy said. “It will be easier if you have someone from the family along. We have increased security at the Retreat after Uncle Will took care of those terrorist in Maryland. We want to make sure that we don’t have any of them showing up here.”
“Ian and Naz live in the Retreat?”
“We all have homes there.”
“Ian’s mother had me out to dinner when I first moved here. I thought that it was just your grandfather and his children that had homes there.”
“Those are just the original homes. When Isaac graduated college and started working, grandmother said that he should have his own home and not live with his parents. She told grandfather to build a road to the other side of the hill and build Isaac a house. Each of us got a house of our own after we graduated college. Even though, I was working with Dad in Brisbane, I still have a house here.”
Charlie was stunned. He knew that Ian had two brothers, two sisters and a lot of cousins. How many homes had Ian Macphater build?
Cindy knew what Charlie was thinking. “Twenty three houses. One for each grandchild. Robert got his early after he graduated public school last December, Aunt Leslie said we might as well finish it out early. Good thing too.” Cindy realized that Claire was a family secret. It would be a little while before she could explain her and other changes. Luckily, Isaac had turned the window on and the soldiers were entering the Fire world. Charlie’s attention was now on them. Cindy puts a hand on Charlie’s shoulder. “I will find you when you get back from the Air World. After you get your notes copied and submitted, we can head out for dinner.
Charlie turned around and looked Cindy in the eye. “I look forward to seeing you then. I have really enjoyed talking with you.” The smile on his face was soon matched by the one on Cindy’s face.
“I have enjoyed talking to you. I would like to hear about your impressions of the worlds.”
“Will you be going across to any of the worlds?” Charlie was concerned that Cindy would miss out on seeing the new worlds.
“I may have reason to go to Fire but my work is here. Don’t worry, we’ll all have a chance to see all the worlds in the new few weeks if not days. This is no faraway endeavor. All we have to do is step through a window.”
“Yes, it is easy to forget that when you are talking about other worlds.” Charlie continued to smile at Cindy.
“I think they want your team at the window. I will see you later.” Cindy turned and headed back to the family command area. Where’s Sally? Did she have any makeup? She had not brought a purse only a few things in her pockets. She wanted to freshen up before meeting with Charlie later today.
Cindy, is there anything that you need from your house? Naz asked.
Could you get my pink blouse? Cindy sent an image of the blouse and its location to Naz. Also, my purse is hanging at the bottom of the stairs.
Do you want it sent out to you there or should I just bring it over to the house for when you get here?
I need to clean up also. I can do it after we get there. Thanks Naz.
It is nothing. Just make sure that the two of you get here. I remember Professor Siftarski from the university. He was so into his work. I want to make sure he forgets all about that tonight and you have his whole attention.
I don’t think that that will be a problem. Need to go. Thanks again. To herself, Cindy thought, Yes, this is turning out to be a great day.
PM Blake had ordered Major Eric Lawson to represent the British government when the Australians opened their windows to the other worlds. Ian Macphater had suggested that Eric bring his family and come up early. They could tour the MME facilities and get to know the people that would be exploring. Blake had thought it was an excellent idea. This was why Eric and Lisa Lawson found themselves wandering around the window sites at Lavarack Barracks as the exploration of the Fire world was starting.
“It is hard to believe that this is all going on in broad daylight. There are thousands of people here. Look at all the trucks lined up waiting to unload. How can they keep it all secret?” Lisa asked, as they looked down at all the activity going on.
“Who expects something secret to be so out in the open? This hill keeps the activity from being viewed directly from the highway. I like the consent form that everyone had to sign even the soldiers’ families. It essentially says come and watch and you will get a chance to visit the other worlds, but if you spill the secret, you won’t get to visit. The plan is just to give the three countries a head start and it is expected that it will be public knowledge in a few months. They even have the TV news crews going around and interviewing everyone.” Eric pointed to the SBS camera crew down the hill from them.
“But won’t the reporters want to be the one to break the story.”
“The ABC and SBS people are going to the new worlds to shoot extended documentaries. Why rush to be the first when you can produce documentaries that will be seen by everyone on Earth.” They looked around for the next place to go. Eric position as the British representative gave them access to everything. “There’s Ian Macphater. Let’s go and see how MME plans are going.” They headed down the hill.
“I want to thank him for the house he gave us to stay in. Brenda hasn’t even seen it yet and he just gives it to us to live in.”
“Well after the shooting near Kim’s house they got held up. Willy says that Brenda may be staying in the Texas for a while. Can you imaging, all of them having dinner at the White House.”
“Naz said that Will’s son Robert and Claire Clarke are Life-Mates. I asked what that was, but she said that they would explain after dinner. Her eyes were laughing. I believe that there is more that they want to tell us.” Lisa was quiet as she again tried to figure what it is that they would learn tonight. They soon reached the MME area. No one paid much attention to them as they walked over to where Ian Macphater was quietly sitting.
“Ian, we want to thank you for the hospitality that your family is showing us. We haven’t felt this at home since we came to Australia.” Eric said.
Ian took a second before he stood to greet them. Eric thought that it was almost as if he had been busy. “We think of you as almost part of the family. Kim and Marie were excited to hear that you two were here. They both said to say hello and they would be contacting you soon.”
“You haven’t met my youngest boy.” He motioned Gavin over. “Gav, I would like you to meet Eric and Lisa Lawson. They grew up with Marie and Kim. Eric is a major in the British Army and is the British representative to what is going on here. He credits Will for his joining the Army.”
“Glad to meet you.” Gav said. “Eric, I liked your thesis on the rapid deployment of a force into a hostile environment. It is one of the main documents that we used in making our plans. Lisa, as a botanist, I expect that you are interested in all the new plants that we will find.”
“Yes, I was doing a study of Australian plants …” Lisa realized that they had known all about her and Eric. She looked at her husband who had also realized the same thing.
“Yes, we had considered recruiting the two of you for our exploration and colonization of the worlds. Alice, Jess, and the girls had all spoken for you. Marie and John Harvey were planning to recruit you for S-I, but then you got posted here as the Military Attaché. Will recognized that you were on track for general command, so we just kept track of you.” Gav said. “We have reconsidered that position. Will and Leslie will talk to you when they get back.”
“I don’t know what to say.” Eric said after glancing at Lisa.
“We aren’t looking for an answer. What we want is as you look around and observe things to consider how you would feel working with us.” Ian Macphater says. “Willy, Ian, and Naz have some things to talk over with you tonight. That will be an important consideration in your decision.”
“I knew Naz wasn’t telling me all that we were going to talk about after dinner.” Lisa tried to fit what she had just heard into the few clues that she had gotten from Naz.
“Yes, Naz is very excited by what is going on. This is a big change from the life she knew in India. Her pregnancy is holding her back from being here as we explore the worlds, so she’s looking for other ways to contribute. I look forward to meeting Linda, Claire, and Bruce. This idea of Life-Mates is very exciting. I wish my Brenda was still here.” Ian’s face had gone from happy to sad at the mention of his dead wife. “Well, you’ll learn all about this tonight. Megan said that your kids could spend the night. They are getting along well with her kids and the other cousins. So don’t worry about them. You’ll have enough on your mind without rushing back early to be with them.”
“Thank you, sir. We appreciate the information. It’s almost enough to make us forget what’s going on here.” Eric said.
“Don’t do that. Go off and look around. Just remember to head down to the Fire windows around nine thirty-five. That is when you are scheduled to go over and take a look.” Gav told them as they turned away.
It was obvious that the Macphater’s wanted them to continue their looking around. Eric and Lisa headed back to the hill and found a place away from people where they could talk.
“Do you think Linda and Bruce are Life-Mates for other members of the family? And why hasn’t Ian met them?” Lisa asked her husband.
“There was talk about Alyca working with an American CIA agent Bruce Jenson at Carlisle, but the only Linda, I have heard about is Linda Steele who is working for Kim as a nanny. More importantly, how did Gav know the exact time that we were going to go through the Fire window? No one has told us. He knew the exact time and didn’t look it up even though we had just shown up there to thank Ian.” Eric looked at his wife and realized that he had never felt this close to her.
“I thought that we were being treated well with the house and the other things that they have done for us. Ian and Gav were treating us like family.”
“Yes, I felt the same way. Your brother Tommy is just a couple of years older than Will’s girls. Has he been dating Brenda or Mary? That is not the name that he has been talking about in his letters for the past six months.”
After a few more minutes they couldn’t come to any better understand of what was going on. They decided to move about and see what else was going on. They stopped by the vendors and bought some additional film for their camera as well as something to eat. It felt more like a fair than a secret historic event.
Around nine twenty five, they walked over to where the windows to the Fire world were located. The first window to the Air world had opened up around nine o’clock so all the excitement had shifted over there. The windows to the Fire worlds had developed a routine. There were separate windows for going and coming to the Fire world. The foot traffic in was steady while there were occasional individuals returning. The major traffic was at the three windows with the conveyor belts delivering material to the other side. Eric was looking forward to seeing how they were handling all the material on the other side. He returned the salute of the sentries that were guarding the approach to the gate. Their badges were checked and they were directed over to the MME people coordinating Fire world access. As they approached the man at the outbound window, they heard their names called. It was one of the Macphater cousins that they had met waving them over to where she was sitting. She got up and directed them over to an area away from most of the activity.
“Hi, Eric and Lisa. I’m Cindy. You probably didn’t remember which cousin I was.” She was smiling as if it was the best day of her life. “I am in charge of logistics for the Fire world. Hold on a second while I take care of this call.” She watched an ambulance approaching. “Yes, Isaac. The ambulance will be here in a second. I sent someone to find his wife. They know to tell her it’s only a broken leg. If she’s not here to ride with him to the hospital, I will have someone take her. Eric and Lisa will be carrying the stuff that Charlie asked for. I thought to have Lisa meet with Professor Laraway and Eric to talk with you. OK. They should be over in a few minutes.”
Eric had noticed the small radio that was almost invisible in Cindy’s ear. That must have been how Gav knew about when they were suppose to go over to Fire world.
“Sorry about that. We had our first injury. One of the sergeants misjudged a slope and turned an ATV over. He only broke his leg but we are taking him to the hospital for a complete checkout.” She pointed to a stretcher being carried out through the return window as a distraught woman stood nearby. The ambulance had just pulled up.
“Excellent work.” Eric tells Cindy.
“Thanks, you paper emphasized the need to remain in control when executing a major deployment.”
“Has everyone read my thesis?” Eric was surprised to have his paper mention again.
“Probably Naz and a few others have not had to read it, but Uncle Will made Aunt Karen, Justin, and I study it when we were assigned to logistics.” She gave Eric a big smile. “I need you to take a couple of boxes to Professor Charles Siftarski. He’s head of the science team on the Fire world. Go to Isaac and he’ll see that you get to him. Isaac will be the one that is running around solving all the problems over there. When you get to Charlie, give him the boxes. Let him know that Lisa is a botanist and that I suggested that she talk with Professor Laraway while you are over there. Tell him to come back at 11 AM and to bring the two of you. The three of you are scheduled to go over to the Air world. I would appreciate if the two of you would stick with Charlie over in the Air world. Ian says that he can forget what’s going on when he finds something new to study. Jon Albright has assigned Charlie to do a comparative geological study of all five worlds. We need to have all three of you back by two PM so we can go to dinner. Naz moved it up so that no one would fall asleep while we talked. She’s right. Most of us were out here before dawn. Come over here and pick me up.”
“How many are going to be at dinner?” Lisa asks
“Seven. Willy, Ian and Naz, you two, and Charlie and me. Don’t mention the talk that we are going to have. Willy only confirmed that Charlie and I were Life-Mates this morning. He has a lot more to learn than you two do. He has not even heard the term Life-Mate.” Cindy smile had gotten bigger.
“Are we Life-Mates?” Lisa asked.
“Yes, didn’t they mention it to you? Kim says it is just like her parents. She says remember when you spent the night when you were ten and you talked about how her parents sometimes seemed to know what the other was thinking. Have you ever noticed yourselves doing the same?” Cindy can see that they had by the way they glanced at each other. “Well that is just the beginning. Kim says hello. She will contact you soon.”
“You were just communicating with Kim?” Eric asked.
“Yes, you will be able to not only communicate with each other but with all of us where ever you are. I have probably got ahead of where we should be right now, but I’m so happy at finding Charlie. W’ll explain things tonight. But let me be the first to welcome you to the family.” She hugged each of them.
They went over to a tent where Cindy picked up two small boxes labeled high-speed film. She explained that Professor Moore had not realized that it would be getting dark so soon on the Fire world and that he wanted to be able to take pictures of the night sky in a little while. So he had asked for more film.
Cindy escorted them to the entry window and told them that she would see them later.
AU Initial Window Location
Saturday May 22, 1999
They stepped through to the Fire world. A slight breeze was blowing from behind them as they walked through. As they followed the arrows away from the window, the first thing they saw was a sign.
Breeze in window is caused by air pressure difference
due to coming storm front.
Expect rain before dark continuing for several hours.
Severity of storm is unknown.
Ensure your equipment is protected.
Professor Jenkins, JCU
Isaac Macphater, MME
Major Kel Mahay, AA
Around them, they saw over two dozen buildings all ready up with more being assembled. The main components were two by twelve meter panels. The buildings were two or three panels high. The buildings were being placed to form a compound, with ten buildings on a side and twelve meters between buildings. Small tractors took the panels straight from the conveyer belt and placed them in place. They started with the floor and then they moved on to the walls and then the roof. All doorways were to the interior of the compound. On the side opposite the door, there was an emplacement for a heavy weapon. Work had started at a corner of the compound and had build down both sides from there. Already three of the corners were completed and the work was progressing on the final two sides. Each of the corner building had a fourth row of panels to protect the soldiers standing guard. In the center of the compound was a taller building with seven rows of panels. A flagpole with the Australian flag stood atop of the building.
They stopped and looked around. “Let’s look for Isaac in the center building.” Eric said.
“I thought that they were going to use one crew and build in only one direction around the compound.” Lisa said.
They heard a voice behind them say. “That was the primary plan. The oncoming storm and the few hours until dark led us to put both crews here to complete the compound faster. As it is we will not be able to get all the supplies and material under cover before the storm.” They turned and saw a tall, broad shoulder man with “Isaac” and “L&E Boss” written on his shirt. “Hi, I’m Isaac. Cindy told me to expect you.”
“Why not set up the windows to deliver the material directly into the buildings. I would think that people would also like to come and go from a building.” Eric commented.
Isaac face had a stunned expression for a second that changed to a grin. “Great idea. Hold on one second while I start to get it implemented.” Isaac turned away and started talking over the earpiece radio. He also pointed to indicate where to more things. At one point, he ran over to the return window and turned it off.
Four minutes later, he was back with them. “Sorry about that but we didn’t see the forest for the trees. Thanks for the idea. That will even save some time. Let me know if you have any more suggestions.”
“I’ll check with everyone that we meet, and let you know when I get back. ” Eric said.
“That sounds good. Charlie is off that way. You’ll have soldiers tagging along with you for security.” He pointed to the nearby canyon wall. “Professor Moore is set up a little ways up the canyon from him. Get Charlie to show you where both Laraway and Moore are. He needs to be checking in with his people.” Isaac said. “I’ll be around the compound working on the latest problem but the soldiers or Charlie have radios if you need to contact me.” He turned and trotted off toward where one of the tractors was stuck.
“He certainly is keeping busy.” Lisa said as they head off to find Charlie.
As they left the compound area, two soldiers joined them. After they saluting Major Lawson, the private moved out ahead while the sergeant walked near Lisa. “Sergeant, we are looking for Professor Siftarski.” She told him.
“Yes, ma’am. The lieutenant suggested that I check the guards with the science team.” He replied.
“I am Major Eric Lawson, the British Military Attaché, and this is my wife Lisa. Have you had any problems except for the ATV spill?” Eric asked.
“Sergeant Elmer Lantry of Second Platoon, Rifle Company B, 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. No, sir. There was a large reptile that looked like a predator. It tried to approach the compound just after the third building was completed. Snyder tried to scare it off with a couple of shots but it just hesitated for a second and then looked around. It then continued towards the buildings. One of the MME security people chased it off with a flash bang. Other than that, it has been quiet. There are plenty of tracks out here but we must have scared most of them away.”
“Sounds like the lizard was either very dumb or it was not familiar with guns. Have you taken pictures of the tracks?” Eric asked.
“No, sir. We don’t have cameras.”
“We do. Point out any tracks that we pass. We need to get some issued to all of the men. Taking pictures of the tracks will help you to identify what is out here. If you know what is here, you will have a better idea what to look for. Also, you are just as much an explorer as anyone else. What if there was a plane on the horizon or something carrying a tool. A picture would be invaluable. Even pictures of plants and animals would be helpful. When you do your rounds, you walk across areas that the scientists have not seen. Pictures along there would be helpful. It may also keep the men more alert. Radio your lieutenant and have him tell Isaac Macphater that I suggested supplying the soldiers with camera to record what they find.”
“Yes, sir.” The sergeant continued to scan the surroundings as he made the call. A note of respect may have crept into his voice. “Ma’am, there are some tracks over here.” They moved to the right and halted. Lisa took pictures of the marks on the ground that the Sergeant had found.
A few minutes later, they reached Professor Siftarski.
Eric called to Charlie. “Professor Siftarski, Eric and Lisa Lawson. Cindy sent us out here with these packages of film.” At the mention of Cindy’s name, Charlie dropped the hammer he was holding and turned around. He had a smile on his face.
“How is she? I just met her today. Well, I had met Cindy a couple of days ago, but today was the first time that we spoke.” Charlie said.
“She is busy but she looks like she is very happy. It may be the work but it could be something else.” Eric said.
Charlie didn’t catch the hint that he might be the reason that she was happy.
“We are going to have dinner tonight with Ian and Naz. Ian’s brother Willy is coming also.” Charlie said.
“Yes, we are invited also.
“You’re not another cousin?”
“No.” Lisa laughed. “We are friends of the Maclarens from Edinburgh. Kim and I have been friends through-out school.”
“Ian talked about his family in Edinburgh. Let us take a walk over and give Jim the film.” Charlie picked up his equipment and then took the package from Lisa. They headed towards where Professor Moore’s is setting up his equipment. The two soldiers guarding Charlie joined them.
“Professor, Cindy suggested that I might be able to be of some help to Professor Laraway. I am a botanist.” Lisa said.
“Yes, he’s back towards the compound. We can go there next.” Charlie replied.
“Cindy also suggested that we return about eleven o’clock so that we can get some time over on the Air world. Naz had moved the dinner time up because everyone had got out so early.”
“You are going to the Air world with me?” Charlie was unsure why they would be accompanying him.
“My only job is to observer for PM Blake. Ian Macphater suggested that we check the worlds out.” Eric explained.
“Sir, do you know Major Maclaren?” Sergeant Lantry asked.
“Yes, he’s the one that suggested that I join the army.”
“Do you know how he and his family are doing?”
“I think that they are all fine. He and his wife were in Washington attending the meeting this morning. They are sticking around to help the Americans.
They soon reached Professor Moore. He was taking photos of the quarter moon that was visible above the opposite canyon wall. “Jim, we have your film. This is Eric and Lisa Lawson.”
“Good. I want to make sure that I have enough film to take a full set of pictures of the sky. It’s not as good as it will be when we can move out of the canyon but it will be a start.” Jim Moore was clearly excited to be the first to photograph a new sky.
“What will you do about the rain?” Eric was wondering if word has gotten out to all the scientists.
“What rain?” Jim turned to look at Eric. He was surprised to see an officer who was not in fatigues.”
“There is a notice by the gate that says to expect rain before dark. That it will last for several hours. Is Professor Jenkins your meteorologist?” Eric was now sure that word hadn’t reached them for Charlie also looked surprised.
“Jim, where is the shelter for the telescope?” Charlie knew that there was a special shelter for the telescope.
“I left it at the compound. I figured that there was no reason to bring it out here when we would be moving out to a more open area in a couple of days.”
Charlie pulled his radio out of his backpack. “Isaac. This is Charlie Siftarski. I need transport to bring the telescope back to the compound before the rains come. No. Jim left the shelter there. He didn’t expect to need it before the move to the permanent location. Thanks. Yes, it is still in the same location. No. We have enough people to load it. Ok. We will have it ready when they get here.”
“Jim. We are going to move it back to the compound and put it in one of the buildings. As soon as it is put away, I want you to get something to eat and take a nap until the rain stops. Then you can set up for your night sky shots if there aren’t too many clouds. I never liked the idea of you and a couple of guards out here on the first night. We don’t have a good idea of what we need to be afraid. I had expect you to have the shelter here as a refuge.”
“Charlie, I thought…”
“Jim, I understand how you were thinking. It was my job to ensure that you had what you needed. I got caught up in geology when I should have been supervising. I share the responsibility with you that this didn’t go right. You and the two soldiers could have been in the shelter with the telescope while it rained. Now you can get some rest and possibly get some pictures later.”
“Yes, it does turn out for the better. Let us get the telescope back in its cases.” Jim turned and started working to disassemble the telescope.
“Charlie, you aren’t used to supervising more than a class?” Eric asked.
“No. I don’t know why I agreed to the Chancellor assigning me to lead this team.”
“I think General Lewis knew what he was doing. You handled the problem as soon as you realized that there was one. The thing that you didn’t do, was to anticipate what problems might arise and make sure that they didn’t cause any major problems. I have seen plenty of junior officers having to learn this the hard way even though they were taught better at Sandhurst.” Eric was smiling at the confusion on Charlie’s face.
“General Lewis. I forgot all about that.” Charlie was also starting to smile. “Let us give Jim a hand.”
“He may want to get a few shots of the second moon.” Lisa said.
“Second moon! Where?” Jim set down what he was storing and looked around.
“Just above the water.” Lisa pointed down the canyon to the water a couple of miles away. A second moon larger that the first but still smaller that earth’s moon could be seen almost full on the horizon.
“I need to get a photo of that before we shut down. It will take maybe three minutes after I put these pieces back in place.” Jim looked to Charlie for agreement.
“Do it. You can see the clouds to the south of it. They don’t appear to be moving fast.” Charlie turned to the sergeant. “Sergeant Lantry, as you complete your round of checking on your people, will you tell my scientists that a rain storm is coming and they should return to the compound immediately.”
“Yes, sir. My men would appreciate being under cover before the storm hits.”
“As will my people. There will be plenty of time to learn more in the coming days. The time to reflect on what they have found will do them good.” Sergeant Lantry looked at Eric and Lisa. “They will stay with us and help get the telescope put away.”
The sergeant saluted Eric. He then left so that he could check on the rest of his men.
“Two moons. That will have an effect on the geology. I don’t know of any papers that even talk about what that would mean to a planet of this size. All the multiple moons that we have in our solar system are with the giant planets. Well, except for Mars. Those two moons are too small to have much of an effect at all. I wonder how many the other worlds have.” Charlie wondered aloud as he helped Jim with the telescope.
Charlie, Eric, Lisa, and the five guards had hiked back to the compound. Jim had ridden back on the ATV pulling the trailer with the telescope under the watchful eyes of two soldiers on ATVs. When they got back, they found the other scientists at the building that had been designated for their use. Charlie asked Eric and Lisa to join in the meeting to discuss what they had found.
Charlie had each scientist present a summary of what they had found and of what they hoped to accomplish tomorrow. They had then started talking about the implications of what they had found. Professor Sarah Fielding the zoologist and Professor Xavier Laraway the botanist had gotten into an argument.
“I still don’t believe that we will find compatible DNA. Who’s this Doctor Reynolds? How could she know what we will find?” Sarah Fielding said
“Doctor Kimberly Maclaren Reynolds. Kim is a genetic researcher at the National Human Genome Research Institute in the United States. She performed the DNA check on the fish that came through the window when her mother was killed. Her aunt, Dr. Margaret Gillon, wrote the report on the finding by the Edinburgh researchers on the other samples that they got on Monday.” Lisa informed them.
“She is Dame Alice’s daughter?” Jim Moore was surprised at the coincidence.
“How do you know this? It wasn’t in the report.” Sarah demanded.
“No, it wasn’t in the summary report. But I grew up with Kim, so I read her report and her Aunt Marge’s report.”
“You knew Dame Alice. Why didn’t she defend her theory?” Jim asked.
“Because she, her husband Jess, and his cousin Will Maclaren sought out these worlds as a place of refuge for mankind. They are afraid that man will face a natural calamity that could lead to our extinction. Dame Alice started with that premise before she went looking for her theory of adjacent worlds.” Eric stated.
“What part does Will Maclaren play in this?” Charlie was curious about how Will fit in.
“The same as he played in the Falkland Islands and in the rescue this week. His job is protection.” Eric answered.
“But why didn’t they come out and say that and have the government working on it from the beginning? If we had known that the adjacent world theory was true from the first then action would have be taken.” Gene Albright, Professor of Mathematics at JCU, argued.
“How long have we known that smoking is bad for us? Also, look at what has happened today. Do you think that the government could have come up with these buildings and the equipment to set them up within two years?” Charlie responded.
“MME is just in it for the coal and oil that they will find.” Sarah Fielding had the typical academics dislike of big business.
“Sarah, don’t you pay attention. The AJ Power Generator will do away for the need for coal, oil, uranium, and natural gas. I can’t even think of a reason to build any wind generators. Solar panels will have some uses but only when the power requirement is small.” Charlie couldn’t believe the stupidity of her comment.
“Well how do they expect to pay for all of this?”
“Ian Macphater was trying to figure what to do with all the money that he was expecting to have from selling all of this equipment. He says that the new equipment that they have come up with for mining will save a quarter of the cost and make the mines safer. Look at the ATVs. They are essentially mobile power generators that you can ride without ever needing fuel. He has plans to build cars in Australia. There will be ten thousand settlers moving through the windows within the next two months. MME and Jess Maclaren are financing them. They are also planning to expand JCU on to all of the new worlds.” Eric explained.
“MME has funded my position and I believe I’m not the only one.” Charlie looked around at the other scientists. “Have any of you had any problems getting funding for what you need for your research for the new worlds? The Macphaters and the Maclarens have been all over the place working with us. I have found them not only open to suggestions but eager for them.”
“They funded my position, but I thought that was because of some government requirement.” Sarah still was hostile to MME.
“Sarah, the Zoology and Botany departments are much too large for the size of JCU. You and I are here to do research on these new worlds and build a university for all five worlds.” Xavier Laraway, Professor of Zoology at JCU, explained.
“Studying fauna from five planets.” Sarah had started to understand.
“Eric, Lisa, and I are scheduled to take a look around the Air world. It would be good for all of us to take a short look around there. We’ll be doing a lot of comparison between worlds. We should start out as soon as possible to get a feel of each of them. You may be doing most of your work on the Fire world but you’ll need to understand the others. That’s especially true since all we have to do is take a short walk to get there.”
There was general agreement on that.
“Before we go, does anyone have any urgent needs?” He looked around. “OK, we all need to file reports but do that after you get back from the Air world. The visit may give you some insights. I suggest tomorrow, we invite our colleagues of the Air world team to meet with us here and we can discuss what each of us has learned. Afterwards, we can break up by specialty and discuss any plans that we have. OK let us meet at the Air windows in a half hour. I will go and get us scheduled to go over.”
“Why do we need to be scheduled to go over?” Jim felt that they shouldn’t have restrictions.
“So that you don’t get run over. I had to move away from the compound area to begin my measurements. Checking that physical constants have not changed requires a very quiet setup. I may have to find a cave to check some of them, but so far there are no changes noticeable at the coarse level.” Gene explains.
They exited their building but saw none of the windows.
“What did they do with the windows?” Charlie didn’t believe that they might be cut off.
Eric laughed. “I suggested to Isaac that it might be better to put the windows in a building so that we don’t have to worry about things like rain.” He looked over at the central building. Near it was another building that hadn’t been in the plan. “That will be the building that they are using as a terminal.” He pointed over at the new building.