Monday, November 17, 2014

Story Seed - The Lab

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Jenkins reached up to adjust his glasses, but found them missing. He blinked and looked around his person, eyes darting about and finding nothing but the deeply worn leather of a wingback chair and a pile of books stacked up to the arm. "Right," he said, annoyed with himself. Of course he didn't have glasses, in the lab he could see perfectly, better actually.  He shook his head and rose, inspecting his room, everything was as he had left it, a chaotic storm of books, papers, and well worn furniture. It was hard for most to see the pattern in the room but it was there, in the stacks of books, each pile stacked tall with a number of books equal to sequential numerals in a Fibonacci sequence, each stack placed on tables sized and placed to represent golden rectangles.

Everything was in its place. He nodded and made for the door; there was work to be done. He paused and glanced out the window to the interior of hollow cylinder of the lab. The stalk was bathed in the blue glow of the fusion reactor and beyond that he could see the other side of the lab facility. A slight smile tugged the corners of his mouth upwards.

Jenkins walked the curved primary hall out of the dormitory toward the research labs. He snapped his fingers, a loud click that summoned a swarm of intelligent nanites around him, setting them to communicate with the cortex enhancements  buried deep in his brain and connecting him to the facility's computer network. A heads up AR display coalesced in his vision displaying his local email, a readout of the facility diagnostics, and the schedule for the day's experiments.

Quick darting flicks of his fingers sent a dozen emails to underlings, while others were sent directly to the trash. The remaining few were flagged for follow up or transfer via inapposite gate to Earth-side networks. The scientists here were as catty with each other as teens at a high school.  Jenkins frowned at the complaints about other people's experiments, the requests for more funding, the excuses. So much time wasted, time and effort from men and women who were being given everything they could possibly want and more.

Jenkins banished the AR view as he reached the lab he was looking for. "Dr. Silk, I very much hope that you have something for me today. Your contemporaries cannot seem to agree on anything expect that you have been drawing exceptional resources, above and beyond what was originally allotted for your experiment," he said as he entered, keeping his tone level and burying his annoyance deep.

"Dr. Jenkins!" Dr. Tabitha Silk jumped at the sound of her superior's voice, spinning place and knocking over a beaker of dark liquid.  This elicited a squeak of dismay and the petite woman quickly grabbed a pile of paper towelettes and blotted the pool of liquid.

"I do hope that was nothing dangerous," Jenkins remarked, casually surveying the disorder of the lab. He measured his distaste of the non-ordered chaos, with his knowledge that not all great minds required, or flourished in, an orderly environment.  The concept that Tabitha had her own secret form of order hidden within the chaos that he could not see not only failed to enter Jenkins' mind, but it quietly dismissed itself from the subconscious of his mind like some kind of embarrassed and unwanted guest.

"Only if one of the biophysicists have made caffeine dangerous, but it was the last of my oolong," Tabitha replied morosely.  With a sigh she simply pushed the entire flood of tea and avalanche of sodden paper into an already overflowing wastebasket. "You are here to review my findings?" she asked.  A mix of pride and worry colored her voice, and added a hint of heat to her voice.

"Indeed."  Jenkins walked to an elaborate apparatus and bent his tall thin frame at the waist, peering at the mechanism like a great stork peering into shallow water for a meal. "Enough of your colleagues have complained about the resource drain that I have no choice but to review your progress ahead of schedule and determine now if you should return to Earth," he told her matter of factly. "Or not," he then added.

"Those weasly little ..." Dr. Silk cut herself off, tried to gather herself, and then gave up. "Of course, let me demonstrate. I think you will be suitably impressed." She moved to the terminal next to the machine. "If you don't mind, I will skip the specifics of the programming process at this stage?" she asked. His subtle nod spurred her forward, "Excellent.  As you know I am looking at a way to tap into the strange and program and condense cyphers directly using the power output of the lab's fusion reactor.

"The principle is to generate a magneto-gravitic field that can twine the energies of the strange into a shape suitable to accept the programming that we desire and then pinch it off as a discrete component; a cypher. Thankfully the advanced science laws here at the lab have proven capable of supporting the artificial Higgs-Gauss field I need."  Tabitha smiled, hoping to generate a positive response from Jenkins and eliciting only a glance and an impatient look to continue. "As you have heard the power draw has higher than expected, but I think the results will prove the investment."  She entered a command into the control unit and activated the machine which began to pull power.

Exotic matter began to condense within the chamber as Tabitha continued her oration.  "The test cypher needed to be simple enough to ensure that the programming itself would not yield a false failure.  As such a semi stable energy containment cypher was programmed."

"A detonation?" Jenkins asked, actually turning from the machine to look at his underling.

"Y-yes, but it is the lowest energy potential possible that will still yield a demonstrable result."  Tabitha gestured to the machine, "As you can see the strange condensate has set up into the form of a Mark two style grenade. The form was chosen because of its ease to program."

"And it is stable?" This time there was a hint of respect in Jenkins' voice.

The petite woman took a deep breath, "Yes, but for the moment only while the machine continues to hold the Higgs-Gauss field. I cannot generate a strong enough effect with this equipment to fully confine the condensed program."

Jenkins nodded, "I see." He fell silent, regarding the simple grenade-like cypher.

Tabitha began to sweat, and chewed at her lip nervously.

"I am going to allocate Dr. Varnkov to assist you. I think that you have something here and with some refinement of your Higgs-Gauss field, there is a good chance that you can achieve total confinement and through that possibly success."  Tabitha smiled, delighted at her victory. "I am also moving you to the Buoy. The risk with this experiment is excessive, and therefore isolation is required if you are to continue. Otherwise we risk losing the lab itself."

Tabitha's smile melted away, "Yes, Director, thank you." The Buoy was better than project termination, but it turned her victory into a Pyrrhic one.


Summary - Take a trip to the Estate's Offworld Experimental Enclave, more commonly known as the Lab.