Jimmy spent the day with Carter and Kei. Assembling the parts for their EMP device proved a daunting task. Eric and his crew refined the fusible material they mined from an asteroid and consulted with Oscar, also an expert in explosives, about how to manufacture the shaped charges.
Kei was an expert constructing nuclear devices because of her experience disarming the atomic arsenals of Earth. They used clay to fashion the structure of the shell that would implode into the fusible material. The shape would focus the force to compress it enough to start a chain reaction in the fusible element, once the design was perfected they molded the explosives to this shape. Carter designed a method that would direct the magnetic energy of that explosion into a narrow beam.
Jimmy approached Leah's quarters and pushed the doorbell. It was getting more comfortable, but he always hesitated before he found the courage to push that button. The door opened, and he heard her call from down the hall.
“Come on back, Jimmy, I’m in my studio.”
Jimmy was hesitant; he'd never been into the inner sanctums of her apartment before. They always sat at the kitchen bar or watched a movie in her living room.
"Are you sure that's okay?" he asked.
"Yesssss," she answered. She sounded irritable, but his shyness was irresistible to her.
There was an easel with an unfinished painting, a table covered with electronic parts, and bits of wire and batteries, and several whiteboards covered with mathematical scribblings hanging on the walls. Jimmy found Leah bent over a desk with a pencil stuck behind one ear and nibbling the nail of her index finger. She smiled at the pad of yellow paper filled with equations and scribbles on the desk before her.
"There you are!" she said looking up.
She walked briskly to him and placed her hands on his face and planted a big kiss right on his mouth. Jimmy stumbled backward. His face turning beet red.
“I did it! At least I think I did it,” she said turning back to her desk and acting like she didn't notice how flustered her companion was.
She booted her computer.
“Uh, what is it you think you did,” asked Jimmy slowly recovering from the surprise of being kissed by such a pretty girl.
Leah explained that even though she was a hostess and loved the job, she always had a passion for math but that she pursued it as a hobby and not a profession.
“You know how mathematicians always seem to shun the arts,” she said, “well I love them both and had to decide which to pursue in college. Anyway, I wandered from major to major until it was time to graduate and got a smattering of everything that interested me. Then I scored this gig, and here I am.”
Jimmy liked the way she seemed to know more than she let on. She was comfortable talking about almost any subject and rarely had to have things explained to her.
Leah looked at him over her shoulder then turned around, crossed her arms, and leaned back against her desk.
“Okay, you know how in school, in chemistry, you learn how an electron is all over the place at once, never in the same place but sort of fills a shell around a nucleus?” she said waving her hands around to illustrate an energy shell.
“Uh, yeah,” he answered.
“Well, I was thinking, and others have had the same thought,” she continued. “What if an electron appears in the shell of…,” she walked over to a whiteboard and began to wipe it clean, “let’s say a hydrogen atom.” She drew a nucleus and a circle around it to represent the electron shell.
“What if electrons replace themselves with electrons from another dimension? What if this electron pops out of this dimensional existence,” she tapped her marker on the dot she had drawn on the circle representing the electron shell, “and is replaced by another that pops out of its current dimensional existence and into ours?”
“Uh, that sounds reasonable,” said Jimmy warming to her enthusiasm, “but you have to prove the existence of the other dimension, and I think that’s the kicker.”
Leah smiled back at him. “I think I just did, mathematically, but I need to test it,” she said.
“Wait, you're saying you've proved the existence of another dimension?” he asked doubtfully.
“Not just another dimension but infinite dimensions! Or at least as many as the surface area of an energy shell..., but that will be easy to work out if this passes the experimental test."
She picked up two marbles from a jar. “If these two marbles represent the energy shells of two atoms occupying two different dimensions and the point where they touch represent where the electrons are exchanged, then imagine each point on the shell with its dimension touching another parallel dimension. You begin to grasp it, don't you?" she asked.
Jimmy nodded affirmatively.
"Look at this," she said and started a simulation on her computer that showed a nucleus surrounded by a blue haze. She began to tap the down arrow. Jimmy watched as the fuzzy blue cloud transformed into rotating rings of light then bright points then turning rings spread further apart then specks of radiance here and there.
“This simulation represents the electron exchange between the dimensions,” she said, “slowed down a trillion times each time I press this key.”
She split the screen, and another image representing another hydrogen atom appeared.
“If these two atoms are in adjoining dimensions I can predict, mathematically, where the electron will pop into and out of existence.” She entered some data on one side of the screen then did a calculation on her handheld calculator. She typed this data on the other monitor which positioned a crosshair that appeared on the energy shell of the second image.
“Watch.” She tapped the up key, and a point of light disappeared on the first image and reappeared where the crosshairs joined the other image.
“Jimmy, I know it sounds complex but if a hacker built a device to manipulate where these electrons appear in an energy shell he could change the electrical properties of any device in the universe, he could rewrite code inter-dimensionally.”
"That's how we can defeat Titan, rewrite his code through interdimensional manipulation! But I doubt if we have the time to perfect the method. It will probably take years to develop." She trailed off lost in thought.
Jimmy stood pondering a moment but when the concept hit him his eyes widened, and he sat back in a convenient chair.
“Leah, I can think of a thousand ways to capitalize on this! If you can prove this experimentally and consistently reproduce your findings then...! You need to publish this as soon as possible. You’ll be famous! It's incredible!”
She looked at him skeptically and said, “Jimmy, I don’t want to be famous, this is only a hobby. I want my life to be private. I like what I do, and I don’t want people to treat me differently.”
“Leah, this is too big, you can’t just sit on it.”
Jared Galvin adjusted the focus on the large mirrored array telescope at the Armstrong observatory on the lunar surface. He was using objects in the asteroid belt to calibrate the recent installation of a new mirrored array. Using a trackball, Jared zoomed the telescope in on an unchartered speck of light surrounded by a cluster of asteroids. Readjusting the focus he could see a crisp image of the Cosmos floating among the more massive objects.
“Miss Thompson,” said Captain Finley sitting across from Leah, Kei, Jimmy, and Carter in his stateroom, “you are here as a hostess yet you may have just invented math comparable to the advent of calculus? Why?”
“It’s only a hobby Captain, besides I don’t have the qualifications to be hired as a mathematician and I'm doing what I like to do.”
“You must publish your work,” said Kei, “you could go down in history as the modern day Isaac Newton!”
Leah shifted uncomfortably in her chair. “I don’t want to be famous,” she said, “can you use my equations and keep me out of this? I don’t want people to treat me like a celebrity.”
John sat back and steepled his hands in front of him.
“Miss Thompson, you are aware of the situation the Cosmos and her crew are in?”
“Would you allow us to use your work to develop methods or devices from your breakthrough to quickly bring this conflict to an end? In exchange, we will turn over any technology developed aboard the Cosmos to you at the end of the conflict and promise not to capitalize on those technologies for personal gain. If at that time, you want to publish your work and patent any devices the Cosmos crew has developed we will help you to do that.”
Leah, sat up straighter in her chair and looked around at the others in the room.
“Captain,” she said, “I think I can handle the publication and patent part of this arrangement, I have several patents registered in the name of Quantum Communications, its sort of my company, I founded it after college. And of course, you can use my work to protect us. However, I have to insist that any weaponization of this technology go no further than this ship.”
Everyone in the room stared at her with open mouths. The elusive CEO of Quantum Communications was masquerading as a hostess on the Cosmos when she owned fifty-nine percent of the most valuable company on the planet!
“Also,” she continued, “I'd like my identity protected aboard the ship. I don’t want others to treat me differently.”
An uncomfortable silence filled the room.
“Well?” asked Leah looking around at the group exasperated that her secret was out.
“Leah, would you at least agree to transfer to a department more in tune with your skill set?” asked Kei.
Leah frowned at this suggestion. Then her face lit up. “Yes,” she said, “if I can become a personal assistant to Jimmy I’ll accept a transfer.”
“Done!” said the Captain and slapped his hand on his desk smiling at her.
Jimmy’s arms fell from the chair, and he sat looking stunned at the smiling girl beside him.
They agreed to keep Leah’s secret among themselves and were on their way out of the stateroom when Kei tapped her temple and shouted, “John, we’re under attack. Mira has informed me that three ICBM’s with modified A/F drives have been launched from China and have already gone to FTL speed!”
“Call to general quarters,” said John as he calmly seated himself in the Captain's chair.
"I suppose we'll have to rename ICBM's to IPBM's (Inter-Planetary Ballistic Missiles)," muttered the Captain.
Alarms went off shipwide, and crewmen began to take their stations.
Carter slid in beside the technician manning the engineering console.
“Get me the shuttle bay Berta,” John said looking at his communications officer.
A moment later the image of Eric Berryman appeared on the viewscreen.
“Eric, what’s the shuttle status?”
“Tyson was being unloaded when the alert sounded. He's now secured, Sagan is outbound to the mining site with a relief crew.”
“Get me, Sagan,” said the Captain. “On screen Captain!” Berta had anticipated the situation and had several lines of communication open for immediate use.
“Sagan, belay your present mission and proceed at top speed away from the Cosmos immediately!” “Roger that Captain,” replied Sagan in his distinct voice.
“John, Mia informs me that those A/F drives may be able to do faster than one Lumen but no more than three.”
“Lydia, work out the times from Earth to us at one two and three times LS.”
“Kia move us out of these rocks so we can go FTL.”
“Carter, what is the status of the A/F drives?”
“A/F drives are online Captain waiting for your command.”
Bertha switched to Eric’s image.
“How many men are on that asteroid?”
Eric looked at the Captain, concern on his face. “There're seven of my guys out there Captain, they only have enough air for a few days, but if there is a nuclear blast in the vicinity..., I don’t know how they will survive.”
“Who’s in charge of your group?”
“Henry Johnson sir, he’s a good man.”
“Sir, FTL speeds are on display,” said Lydia from her station.
John glanced up and saw that the soonest a missile could arrive from earth would be 11.8 minutes at three times LS.
“Berta, get me, Henry Johnson.”
The image of a smiling black face in a space helmet looked back at them from the view screen.
“Hello Captain, what can I do for you?”
“Henry you’re in a bad way. We have incoming missiles heading our way, and they'll be here before we can extract your group. Is there any way you can protect yourselves from the blast of a nuclear warhead? Maybe position yourselves on the side of the asteroid away from us?”
“We may be able to do better than that Captain, we’ve got a pretty good hole here and have excavated laterally, we can go underground for a while.”
“Great Henry, do that immediately. The earliest we have for impact is,” he looked up at the lower screen where three clocks Lydia had computed were counting down, “ six minutes from now. You are at least 60 miles from the proposed detonation area, but the radiation will be intense, we’ll be back for you as soon as it’s safe, good luck to you.”
“Roger that Captain.” Henry closed the connection and began gathering his people together.
“John we can’t clear the asteroid field in six minutes,” said Kei looking over her shoulder.
“Let’s hope they haven’t found a way to drive those things at three times light speed then,” said John under his breath.
The Cosmos maneuvered through the asteroid field away from her last orbit. John had Lydia focus one of her telescopes on their former position.
The six-minute time window approached and passed.
“We have cleared the field Captain,” said Kei from the helm.
At six minutes eighteen-seconds John gave the order to engage the A/F drives, as the Cosmos transitioned into light speed a flash lit the monitor where the ship had previously been parked then faded to the fuzzy image typical of the inside of a warp bubble.
“Sagan, say status?” asked John selecting his quantum communications connection with the space shuttle.
A few moments later a reply came.
“Spencer here Captain I’m heading the mining relief team. The EMP from the blast compromised most of Sagan's systems, radiation damage to the hull is heavy, but life support is functioning. Radiation levels are high inside the ship but within limits for a two-hour exposure. We recorded three separate detonations all focused on the Cosmos’s previous position. We are drifting now with no power to the engines.”
John looked over to Kei. “Drop us out of warp drive and head us back.”
“Okay Spencer, hold tight we’ll be there to recover you ASAP.”
John switched his communication panel to the mining group.
“Henry? Are you there?”
“Yes, Captain, we’re here,” came the reply. The view screen opened, and Henry’s helmet appeared from a side view camera.
“Radiation levels are extreme we won’t be able to last for long.”
“We’re on our way, hang tight Henry,” said John feeling the desperation of their situation. He muted the transmission and turned to Oscar who was watching things progress. “Oscar, get a team ready, and to the shuttle bay I want those men off that rock ASAP.”
“Yes, sir,” said Oscar and rushed from the bridge.
“I wasn’t quite inside when the blast hit us,” said Henry, “but I think everyone else is okay.”
Lydia gasp in horror as Henry turned to look at the camera head-on. The other half of his face, burned and unrecognizable, filled the screen. His lip curled into a half smile, and he collapsed, unconscious, inside his space suit.
Cosmos shut down her A/F drives to launch Tyson. Oscar’s rescue team was aboard to retrieve the men stranded on the asteroid. Kei plotted an intercept course with Sagan and opened the throttles on the fusion drives to full thrust. By the time the Sagan had been retrieved, and her crew checked through sickbay and treated for minimal radiation exposure they were back in position to pick up Oscar and the others.
John and Kei floated onto the Shuttle Bay just as Tyson’s nose breeched the airlock force field. A lineman positioned the spacecraft then crossed his arms above his head to have the shuttle cut its thrusters. As soon as the gear locked down to the deck a team of medbots swarmed the hatch and began floating wounded people off and into the core toward the sick bay.
Kei counted six stretchers. John looked up at the hatch and saw Oscar emerge.
“Henry,” he asked expectantly? Oscar shook his head.
Behind him, two medbots emerged floating a stretcher with the body of Henry Johnson on it. Beside it floated Eric Berryman. Kei and John drifted over, and John placed a comforting hand on Eric’s shoulder.
“He was a good man sir. He was a good man.”
in my first attempt at
Read Chapter One here