Chapter 2, Scene 2 – The Device
2017, June, Kansas City, KS
“This is CNN,” the voice-over played. Bill rolled his eyes at the rerunning of the same news. He periodically checked the news in the break room of the underground lab just to keep tabs on the world. Mainly because he was concerned if it was on fire or not, it usually was. This concerned him. What would happen if he handed over the red notebook? Would it end the hostilities? Would it make things worse? General Harris had been stopping by more frequently to ‘check up on things’ and see the progress of the project. He had tried to get Bill to speed up the development for military use but had not presented any ideas himself. “I will leave the details up to you, just know that I expect you’ll have something we can start planning on in August,” he had said the last time he was in. Bill sighed.
“Hey, boss! I want to show you something!” it was Oliver, Bill’s assistant in the lab. Oliver was a bright kid but didn’t think much about life outside of the lab. The lab was life. The lab was civilization. Oliver had been crucial to the development of the gateway device but he had also been a little too free with his thoughts and lips when asked for militarization application by the brass that came in on tours. He had good ideas for usage of the new technology but ‘good’ was at best a variable standard Bill knew. Good clean energy from nuclear fission can also be used to level cities, what could this technology do when applied to similar ends?
“I was thinking. Maybe the Army would like the ability to not only instantly ship all the fuel, bullets, water, and food needed for a war to anywhere in the world but what about sending tanks and bombs?”
“We both know they would love that, but the issue has been the size of the gateway…”
“Yes, and that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I think I figured out a way to make it variable in size. At least, that’s what the simulator is showing me. I wanted to run it by you before we started any actual tests.”
“Why, is there something you are worried about?”
“Well, kinda. If it’s wrong it might swallow the lab. Or it might not. Or maybe all of Kansas City. That’s why I wanted to check with you first.”
Bill smiled and shook his head. Oliver was many things, but being wrong with his calculations was not one of them. If this kid. Kid, what is he 28? If he figured out a way to make the gateway stable at a variable size before I did I might need to retire sooner. Damn smart kids coming from even smaller schools like UNO. “Let’s see what you got,” he shut the TV off and picked up his now lukewarm mug of black tea to follow Oliver back to the lab.
They pulled up chairs to take a look at the simulation Oliver had running. They went over the calculations and what would need to be done to the device to actually project the portals. “This can’t be right,” Bill said, pointing at the power input figures required to make it work. “That’s way too low. That’s about half of what it needs currently.”
“Well let me show you something else I was looking into in my spare time,” Oliver pulled up another window on the monitor. “The waveform requires less power when it is invoked in its natural state which looks more like the outline of an upside-down balloon from a county fair. If we allow it to form in that shape it takes about half the power, theoretically, because we are not jamming it to be a round peg in a square or rectangular door frame.”
Bill nodded, “This is good work, Oli. Very good. Alright, wonder boy, what is the secret to your powers? How do you suggest we project the gateway without a frame to contain it?”
“That’s where I need your help, sir. I still don’t fully understand how you have it working now.”
“Let me show you,” Bill patiently described and taught Oliver how the framed projector worked. This was perhaps the third time he had done so with him but maybe this time he would get it Bill thought. During the process Bill realized something, “Show me your variable size notes again.”
Oliver brought them back up on the screen. “Damn. That is brilliant. This whole time I had been forcing the issue when in reality it just requires a suggestion to work. It’s a little scary, isn’t it? That this whole other dimension of existence is just behind the curtain? Hell, it only takes a 9V battery to open a portal or sleeve through the void.”
“Honestly it used to keep me up at night, sir. But it’s still so cool that it doesn’t bother me any more,” Oliver smiled, “When do you think it will be stable enough to send people through?”
“Well that’s good you are sleeping again but we are years away from sending someone through. One step at a time, Oliver, one step at a time. Your calculations here are correct I believe and it will only take a minor change on the projectors to allow for a variable size. I think we should get some laser pointers attached to these so we can see the size first. Grab one of the other assistants and round up some laser pointers and duct tape. I’ll work on the projectors.”
They worked without stopping for lunch and by four that afternoon the prototype was ready. The 3D printers had been working at capacity to make the new rings. There were even spots for the lasers so the duct tape wasn’t needed for that. The first test subject for the new gateway was a desk chair. Oliver had redone the program and bill redesigned the projectors. Everything was in place for the first test after the connections were attached to the laptops and rings.
2017, August, Kansas City, KS
“How soon can you package this equipment up and make about half a dozen of them for field trials?” General Steven Harris asked Cole in his office back up on the tenth floor.
Cole looked out the window and thought for a moment. Prototypes out in the field equals a funding increase but will probably piss Bill off. He’ll have to get over it. This is our job and we’re doing it well.
“I can check with my dev team and get you an answer this afternoon, sir.”
“That will be fine. I still blows my mind how this works, Cole. What your team has been able to accomplish is truly remarkable.”
“Thank you, sir. We aim to please. There is something else that we’ve started but it’s certainly not ready for deployment, early phase of research mind you, but I have my team spinning up an communication tool based on this technology.”
“It will be instant, anywhere, and it might even be self powered. I don’t claim to understand it.”
“Really? Now that is some spooky voodoo, Cole. Do you need more funding on that? I have the ear of the Armed Forces Committee and they are very interested in what might come out of this research you’ve been working on here.”
“I think we are at capacity for the lab, sir. Might have a few extra expenditures for new equipment but nothing major.”
“Well just let me know. You all are doing great work here.”
“Thank you, sir. I’ll let you know by this afternoon how soon we can start some field trials with the devices.”
“And get a name for it, otherwise one of my Colonels will make some damn acronym for it. Oh, and one more thing. I want to be able to sent soldiers through this thing, why do I keep getting push back on that? What is the hold up?”
Cole looked down for a moment then back up at the General’s face, “They say it’s too dangerous.”
“Like ripping a hole in dimensions and stringing them together like a fourth grader’s art project isn’t?”
“Well, I’m not sure about the details, sir. I will see what we can do to make that happen sooner. I see a lot of potential profit to be made with instant travel on the commercial side.”
“Whatever it takes. Make it happen. Looking forward to your delivery estimate this afternoon. Good day, Cole,” General Harris shook Cole’s hand and left the office.
2017, October, Yuma Proving Ground, AZ
Staff Sergeant Brian Parry was ordered to man one of the Sleeve device prototypes located 627 miles from the one it was linked to by frequency. The attached comm unit relayed audio instantly and perfectly clear. He was told they were ‘attuned’ to each other and that he should only need to follow the instructions given over the device. Next to him was Brigadier General Harris, Cole Gibson, Christopher Marsh, and a small group of soldiers standing by to assist in case something went wrong.
“Parry, you there?” came a clear voice over the comm.
“I hear you Jeff. We ready to get rolling on this?”
“Yes, go ahead a fire it up. Ok, looks like we are linked. You got that thing pointed in the right direction?” Sergeant First Class Jeffrey Carter was experienced with weapon systems testing and knew that this was Parry’s first real assignment in Yuma.
“I’m ready on this end,” Parry pointed the small cone to an open area of the arid landscape with the spectators behind him eagerly watching.
“Ok, we’re sending it through,” Carter said. Seconds later a Hummer gentle rolled out of nothing into the view of those gathered around Parry. Cole smiled as those around him gasped and exclaimed a few curses. General Harris slapped Cole on the back with a huge smile on his face.
“You’ve done well, Cole. We’re going to keep things under wraps for a bit longer but I’m going to quadruple your budget. I want this thing to deliver fuel and bombs directly to birds in the sky. My friends at the Pentagon said I needed to share this with the Air Force, think your team can manage something like that?”
“I think we can oblige. What do you think of this though, 600 plus miles? Instant deployment and the thing practically powers itself.”
“Very impressive. I love it…” he was interrupted by Senator Marsh who almost stepped directly in between them and asked, “What else can this do? Was the air around it moved too? How fast can it send it back?”
“We’re working on many things, Senator. No, the air around it does not transfer but if it is contained in something it will move, that’s why the tires are still inflated. And it can roll right back through,” Cole replied calmly. He then stepped up to Parry who was still a little in shock after the demonstration and spoke through the comm to Jeffrey Carter, “We’re sending this one back, show us the tank next and then anything else you want to send through. Only non-organics, you know the drill.”
“Yes, sir. Awaiting return,” came the response.
Cole showed Parry how to transfer objects using the Sleeve and the Hummer was gone.
A few moments later an Abrams tank, a water truck, and sixteen quads quickly appeared on the field before them. “Is that good enough, Senator? We can do more. It’s a little hot out here, you want a cold Coke?”