Beyond the Eyes of Light - Book IV
Guided by patience and a simple trust, the feline people worked towards that end, when the greatest of the great would come, and true to the legend, eventually she had. However, that did not solve the problem. Something was missing. Desperate to find what it was, she went on the greatest quest her people ever imagined.
Using her one gift, that one which set her apart from all others, she stared into the night sky, and using all her will, she made one great attempt and teleported. However, it was not to the stars she went. She found herself in a place she could not escape: a limbo between time and space. She would have remained there had it not been for a curious alien who heard her cries.
Her rescuer found she possessed the power to move herself, along with a remarkable ability to adapt to changing environments. Intrigued, he took her under his protection and began to teach her, mold her, until she could survive on her own. She wanted to return home, but he could not help with that. Only she, he told her, had that power. She did not understand him then, but was eternally grateful in any event.
Years were to pass as her skills grew, and during that time, the people of this land began to know her as the Sorceress of Night. When finally, set free to go where she chose, it was to the mountains she went to pursue her studies and seclude herself from the realm of others.
Yet, politics are the same everywhere. For some to grow strong, they must take from the weak. Those needing shelter, sensed her kindness and sought her out for sanctuary. That, among other things, initiated a war she could not avoid. Responding to threats rising around her, her natural cunning and abilities allowed her to win out, but at great cost.
Those who helped her once before were forced to exile her, yet in so doing, showed her the way home.
Even then, the way back took many years, and by the time she returned, her people had almost died out. Still, as the promise foretold, 'She' would bring them up from the hunt!
Using her gifts, she fed them, enriched them with knowledge, and brought them the power needed to become masters of their fate. They learned to travel through the solar system, even to the distant stars, where they found terrible dangers for those unwary.
They escaped from one of these terrors, but the effort was so demanding, she had to have someone who could step in and take over from time to time... but there was no one else. The answer lay in an offspring. The only one to bear her genetic traits, the only one who could help her race avoid further dangers, while she rested from her toils.
She searched for a mate, found one with several unique characteristics of his own, and when the time was right, an offspring named the Chosen One was born.
Then one day, there was contact with an alien race. These explorers were astonished to find cat-beings with such abilities, and they posed a threat to their whole way of life.
A splinter group of zealots planned to exterminate the Ooroomooriis, but they had plans of their own. Through the help of an alien outcast, they were able to turn a near tragedy into an alliance.
It was an alliance that proved to turn the tide when an ancient enemy found them again, and the Ooroomoorii, or the Yoolooet (Yuh-luh-wet), because the first name was unpronounceable and the second was alien slang for 'big cat things that will eat you if they are hungry', were finally content that everything as foretold would come to pass.
They were dead wrong. The world they had made for themselves now had to contend with newcomers, and then, the hidden past of the Sorceress of Night caught up with her.
The defendant's eyes glittered. "Not guilty."
"You have been told that it would be wise to have a defense counsel. Do you still wish to defend yourself?"
"Well, your honor, considering how everyone I've approached doesn't wish to participate in a kangaroo court, other than the ones you would appoint, I think it wiser if I defended myself."
"Well, Mr. Franklin, I've looked over your record and apparently you do possess some knowledge of the law. Just be warned of the maxim."
"That only a fool has himself for a client?" said the defendant airily. "Don't worry, your Honor, I'm aware of it. But then are you aware of what happens when the principles of an institution are used to destroy it from within?"
The judge frowned. "We are not here to debate philosophies."
The defendant smiled. "I'm sorry. You misunderstood me. I was talking about ethics."
"Being facetious will not help your case."
"Your Honor, you've offered me advice, let me offer some in return. One of us will rue the day your government sycophants dragged me into this courtroom."
The judge glared at him. "Is that a threat?"
"I think the word 'remind' is more apt. If you had studied judicial history the way you should have, you'd have avoided sitting in as if I'd had the plague."
"We've hardly begun proceedings and already you tremble on the edge of contempt of court. I hope you know where that can take you."
"Well, let's see, I spoke my mind, published what I knew to be true, enquired after the facts; and, oh yes, I remember now. I refused to be treated like a servant in my own house."
The hushed sound of talking in the background stilled. Everyone listened carefully.
"Then," the defendant added brightly, "I was kidnapped, escaped my captors, kidnapped again, beaten, starved and imprisoned for three months without even knowing with what crimes I was charged. So now I stand before you in prison garb and sandals. Would you say that was a fair assumption of what I've done, where I've been, and where I'm going?"
Reporters were scribbling down every word, and the judge bit his lip. "That will be more than enough, Mr. Franklin. I don't know how you can concoct such fantasies, but they won't be tolerated in this court."
"No? Well, in addition to those fantasies, here's another. I consider this court to be nothing more than a sham, a circus, where the only thing missing is a ringleader and a bunch of animals hopping to a melody. But I'm patient. I'm sure I'll be seeing them soon enough."
"Mr. Franklin, I have in front of me a complete file of your time in jail, and there's nothing here about any abuse. If you had a complaint, you should have made one. But in fact, you hadn't. So I will thank you to " He stopped when the defendant pulled off his shirt, and people gasped seeing the black and blue marks all over his body.
"Yes, your Honor, by all means play the innocent. I believe the term is plausible deniability. If you don't know what happens, you can't be blamed for any of it, but guess what, that's just so much bullshit. In this kind of a conspiracy you're in as deep as you can get and that's a lot of muck to clean off."
The judge choked as he stared at the other's injuries. "Mr. Franklin, I don't "
"I accuse you of being in collusion with individuals who are openly abusing their office. I demand a change of venue, or at the least, that you excuse yourself. When I took my bar exam I heard about you. Judge Harold Markham, the Judge with a price tag on his collar. You're nothing but a paid gun for hire!"
The courtroom went wild.
Pens and pencils scribbled even more furiously and the prosecution jumped up. "Your Honor, we know of no incident involving the defendant in jail, or in the prison, where he was transferred. We do know he has tried to escape twice and perhaps in the line of duty, guards may have had to restrain him."
"They tried to get me to confess to crimes I've never committed!" he shouted. "They tried to get me to name colleagues and family members as co-conspirators! They tortured me and beat me and then they said this was the price for being uncooperative!"
"Mr. Franklin, I find you in contempt of court!"
"No. Really? How could you guess?"
"I am declaring a mistrial!"
The defendant looked wryly at the court reporter busily typing away. "Little late in the day, don't you think?"
The newspapers were full of the story and people started calling the State Department and demanded to know what this business was all about. Somebody panicked. A ripple of hysteria went down the chain of command and curiously enough, the mistrial ruling was set aside. Following that, the prisoner was placed in a secure housing inside the jail, and a doctor was summoned.
Subsequently, phone privileges, research facilities and even legal assistance were made available. A new court date was planned and the prisoner was informed he had three weeks to present himself. A suit of clothing was picked up from his home.
Then the doctor's report was issued, revealing a broken nose, two broken fingers and two broken ribs. The court date had to be set back further.
A month and a half later, the judge banged his gavel and set the court in motion. "Mr. Franklin, you're looking better."
"Thank you, your Honor. Aside from some cretin trying to knife me in the showers, I'm giddy with gratitude."
Judge Markham frowned. "I trust that, at least, was reported to the authorities?"
"Difficult to do, I'm afraid. The cretin was the chief of the guards with a blade taped to the end of his baton. Luckily, he slipped on a bar of soap and stabbed himself."
A bailiff hurried to the judge's side, whispered something, and Judge Markham frowned even more.
"I do hope he's all right."
"He's under arrest, Mr. Franklin. In fact, they're operating on him now for a punctured lung. I'm afraid you're in more trouble than before."
"Well, I am sorry to hear that."
"Let's get on with this."
The defendant muttered something.
"What was that?"
"I said I wished you as merry a Christmas as you're wishing me."
The gavel banged and the judge would have sent him back to jail, yet, at that precise moment, a man five rows back stood up, shaking his head, obviously having enough and made for the exit. Judge Markham looked at him a moment and swallowed a gulp. Someone took a picture of him as he was leaving, and later identified as one of the chief justices for the State of California.
"Try to behave yourself, Mr. Franklin. We are in a court of law, after all."
"Very well. First, in consideration that I was kidnapped without due process from another country, and the fact that I am a dual citizen of the United States and Portugal, I request my freedom and transportation to the Portuguese consulate."
The prosecution objected. They contended that extradition would not have worked as the defendant had a long history of evading justice. Second, they objected to the idea of bail for the same reason.
"I would have to agree with that summation," said Judge Markham. "Everything I see here," referring to the folder in front of him, "says you are a risk."
"Very well, I ask that this court set aside any charges as no evidence was given the defense in time to prepare."
The defense, offered the prosecution, had ample time to review the evidence. It was not their fault the defendant was preoccupied.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Franklin, but your argument is without substance."
"Your Honor, I challenge the prosecution to show records of my having escaped any jurisdiction after having been summoned to any court, anywhere on the planet. You would find that implication inflammatory to this court and a lie."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Franklin, court records are sealed."
"The court records you're holding in front of you, now?"
"Thank you for admitting they're court records. Using my own resources a while ago, I found no government papers alluding to me except intelligence reports made up by the F.B.I. What you're looking at aren't legal documents. They're fairy tales!"
"Mr. Franklin, you're getting in over your head, here and --"
"Further, I petition this court for bail, which is my right under law. If you cannot give me bail, you must explain why not, and if you refer to that folder in front of you, it is my right to demand to examine them!"
There was a moment of silence. Things were happening so quickly, it took the Judge a while to sort through it. "It is the contention of this court that you be held until the matter of your bail is investigated further."
"Getting a corrupt fraud like you indicted for corruption will be sweet."
Judge Markham opened and closed his mouth, and in a fury, he banged his gavel and told the prosecution to present its case.
They thought they had an airtight one. Identity and passport fraud. Failure to obtain proper visas. Failure to inform the state department of travel to restricted countries. The possession of undeclared sums of money for improper use and failure to apply for permission to transfer large sums of money to foreign nationals, foreign banks and It was a litany.
Unfortunately, it did not help that the defendant started to yawn, as did a number of jurors, and then a few people in the courtroom. To them, it was starting to look too much like a frame-up.
Then the defendant was given the opportunity to make his opening statement. Nodding, he stood up, stepped around the table, faced the jury, and said, "It's all true." Then he sat back down.
People laughed, the attorneys for the prosecution turned red in the face, and exasperated beyond the words, Judge Markham adjourned.
The next day the Prosecution called its first witness. He was a little man from a travel agency who told them how on a Thursday afternoon, the defendant came to his shop and asked about the purchase of boat tickets. Thirteen witnesses were called, and each supported the other. Jurors looked at one another and shrugged. The fourteenth witness though, was a bombshell. Only, it didn't quite go off where expected.
He was a government clerk who admitted to receiving an application by the defendant for an extension on his passport. He revealed that the name on the application was the same as the name on a list of individuals denied extensions. The defendant was not allowed to travel abroad.
The prosecutor sat down with a smug look on his face.
The defendant asked what the other did for a living. He was a clerk in the passport office. He was asked if he liked his job. He said he did. What did he have for lunch that day? Ham and cheese on rye. Did he like it? A little chewy. Did he use mayonnaise? Yes, he did. Along with a little mustard. He found that mayonnaise alone wasn't quite the ticket --
That laughter was infectious. The defendant was making a fool out of the government, and he did it so solemnly, it was ludicrous.
Both attorneys for the prosecution jumped up, shouting. They had proved the defendant had broken the law. Anything else was not germane to the issue and should be stricken from the record, and the jury instructed to dismiss it.
The defendant objected. He demanded that the remarks were admissible, otherwise, the case for the prosecution was made beforehand, and that this court could not be turned into a star chamber, which was the basis for the enactment of a jury system, whereby the people had the power and the privilege to overturn any indictment --
The prosecution began to scream. The defendant was using the objection privilege to stage a history lesson!
People started shouting, reporters started to demanding answers to their questions, the judge banged his gavel and ordered the court cleared, the defendant screamed that if the court was cleared, his innocence could not be proven -- and this was indeed a star chamber!
Hastily, the court was adjourned.
The next day a closed court was in session. The defendant refused to speak. He refused to acknowledge judge, jury or prosecution. He remained dumb. He would not speak in his own behalf.
The jurors didn't like it either. One of them, a little lady, about 45, stood up and the Judge asked what she was doing. She told him she was going home. She'd had enough of this nonsense. They were all obviously out to condemn this nice boy, because he wanted to travel, and what crime was there in that?
He told her to sit back down. Stubbornly she said she wouldn't and started moving toward the exit. He would hold her in contempt, he warned. Don't bother, she replied, she already held him in contempt, and would make certain her children did not take up the law. She'd prefer them to be honest garbage men instead!
A bailiff moved to block her. One of the other jurors, a construction worker moved to assist her. Another bailiff hurried to intervene. Another juror rose, his face in a fury, and jumped over the banister. He'd help her escape if she wanted. She did. There was a general rout.
People in the hall heard the shouting, the doors were pushed open, flashbulbs popped, and there was a very good picture of a prosecuting attorney being choked with his tie, the Judge standing, waving his gavel, red in the face, and an attempt by several other jurors to escape the mayhem through a side door. The defendant cheered them on -- they were fighting for liberty!
A chief judge, at the head of a squad of deputies, then broke through, found out what was happening, and arrested everyone. Even Judge Markham and the attorneys for the prosecution.
Later that day, Judge Markham was removed from the bench, pending an investigation. The attorneys for the prosecution were fined five thousand dollars apiece for inciting a riot. The Jurors were thanked for their adherence to the tenets of the Constitution, applauded for their valor, and released. The defendant went back to jail. The court would consider his request for bail.
The M8 Instructor floated around to the head of the class as the holo dissipated and the classroom lit back up.
"As you have observed, humanity has progressed through several socio-cultural changes in the last fifty thousand years, but it was precisely at that point, where it has been calculated the apex of the historical event lies. When a single individual in the right time and place led the trend in the development of societal and governmental interaction."
The M8 paused to gauge the reaction. Satisfied, it continued. "Thirteen weeks after this event, reforms were instituted that swept across the nation, and eventually led towards the Second Bill of Rights. This reinforcement of the First Bill of Rights to the Constitution greatly enhanced the power of individual liberty, which diminished federal influence and power."
"From this point, Mankind put the marketplace on a level with the government. If political decision-making failed, the people had the power to replace it with something else."
"Now, as it is almost the end of the session, I shall allow a representative among you one question."
This was a rare opportunity, and students hustled. One of them was selected, and slipping from his tri-pedal chair, he balanced himself between powerfully developed legs and tail, and with a quick respectful nod blinked his upper two eyes.
The M8 bobbed with anticipation. This one was the smartest of the bunch.
"Instructor, sir," said the student, licking leathern lips, automatically sensing for body odor, even though mechdroids didn't have any. "We would like to know why he felt it necessary to intervene in a society which was largely suicidal. It is necessary to know the reason as it will help later in developing a profile based on psychological analyses."
The M8 went over the request thoughtfully. "Very good. You calculated I would have refused to answer and direct further enquiries into developing a research paper, but you have devised a question that reflects an interest in another area. Yes, very good."
Students looked at one another with congratulations. The gambit worked.
"Very well." The M8 rose several feet in the air. "Thomas Jefferson Franklin, named for the two most famous thinkers of the third century, colonial period, cited for identity and passport fraud. Arraigned and later formally charged in Oakland, California, year 1961, pre-formation. As it turned out, the trial was overturned, pending a request by the State Department to have this individual transferred to a federal facility. Several days later, he escaped and was never heard from again."
The M8 scanned for further information.
"The public was told he had the help of a gang of anarchists. There were a number of arrests, but beyond that, nothing else. An enquiry from his publishers caused world-wide speculation, as it was widely believe he'd been secretly executed. Further inquiries uncovered a plot by members of the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to have him committed."
"As you may be aware, the usual treatment for the insane in this period was the administration of drugs and electrical shock. The practice was ended in 2014 with the advent of advanced dream therapy. In any event, it helped open the government's archives for review, and what was found was that their precious democratic institutions were a fraud."
The M8's gaze centered upon the young Hadusian. "I trust that answers your question fully?"
The student wasn't finished yet. "Instructor, sir, if you please, one thing more. Did this individual direct his own defense, or was he acting under instructions from someone else?"
The M8 thought something was going on, but time was getting short, and already its mind was preparing for the next class, where in the coming lecture it would illustrate bio-chemical reactions of certain alkaloids when mixed in vitreous solutions to a particularly dense mob of infants.
"Uhmm -- yes, yes! As a matter of fact he did enact his own defense. But mind you, these times were extremely reactionary. As you will recall, those representing themselves in a so-called court, were thought of as having fools for clients."
The buzzer sounded, and the class moved towards the unlocked portals and the suddenly crowded corridors. The M8 rose upwards and escaped up one of a series of vertical tubes.
The Kia-Hadusian student had not moved from his spot. He seemed fixed and was observed muttering something.
Victor augmented the room's probe and zoomed in to overhear what the young student was saying.
"So a true altruist paid a price -- but what was that price? He was never heard from again. Is that the cost to bring forth enlightenment? Through this one individual, the basic structure for every civilized norm of behavior arose. He disappeared afterward, but did he really disappear? What if he'd been rescued? What if..."
Turning thoughtfully, the young Hadusian ascended the steps, and with bowed shoulders and twitching tail, he made his way out of the classroom.
Victor, or at least, the five hundredth part of his personality chosen to keep an eye on students, was troubled. He pondered the young one's distracted attitude, wondering what could be wrong. The Hadusian youngster looked so preoccupied, so stressed. With a thought he glanced at the records of Iak-Kosk!
What he read was... even more disturbing. It seemed, Iak-Kosk!, genius even among his own kind, was a loner, given to moods. He had recently finished a paper on theoretical multi-dimensional phenomena, which could lead to hitherto untried exploration of the anomaly known as X2P.
Victor's attention sharpened.
The student proposed that effecting a quadrilineal flash of ionic particles in a cohesive mesh arrangement, composed of nucleotomes, bound by positronic meonets...
At that point, Victor's attention snapped taut.
It was possible; he read on, that a time event, in a given space, could be captured by...
The Overseer part of the consciousness read on, fascinated, which was when the five hundredth part of himself became lost in calculations.
After all, it was a matter of flexibility, as given in the final concept of his time relational theory. He quoted himself: "Thus, in order to ensure that time, as Time, remains within specific and bound parameters, which effects quadrilineal intercessions, it is necessary to qualify said intercessions with a certain amount of flexibility, else the interceded moments might cause a pulsation effect."
This, he assured himself, will undoubtedly prevent timeline spasms, or in the worst-case scenario, paradox quakes. Therefore, it was essential extraneous "altercessions" be avoided.
He had not added in his thesis work that such "altercessions" had to be avoided at all costs, but that was a matter or relative importance. He hadn't the slightest doubt of the methodology. He developed it, and it was error-free. By his calculations he was off schedule by just nine and five sixteenths of a nanosecond, and therefore, well within parameters.
Glancing once more upon his handiwork, a double pair of eyes blinked admiringly. He had to admit it. He did damn good work. Seven by five by six, only as big as the floor space would allow, but neat, and tidy, able to do the job -- and by his parent's tails, it looked very good.
Instrumentations were constructed on the hull. There were no transparent portals, no access to looking out. It was entirely enclosed. Whatever else Iak might have been, he was not a fool. The last thing he needed was an accident. This was to be a controlled experiment.
Almost trembling, he caressed his creation, dialed the code release on the portable remote hanging about his throat, and felt that this was to be the moment, where for the first time history was being made atop of history. Thin lips smiled slightly. He'd have to remember that phrase.
The enormity of what he was about to undertake threatened to overwhelm him. He looked over his shoulder. The monitor set high in a corner had its lens covered with a custom-built image controller.
If an operator at the university's control console cared to switch on the image of the lab, the only thing he or she would see would be an empty, unoccupied area due for renovations in a week or so.
At the same time, warbling in his bedchamber was a device that gave out the usual whistling sounds of a Kadusian youngster deep in sleep these three orbits past.
Fingers flickered over the remote. He was ready. In three centimes, the instruments would register their reaction to their surroundings. Then they would realize the surroundings were wrong, and they would correct the anomaly instituting a phase shift. It would return back where it belonged.
The capsule's pulse generator built as it drew power from the fusion cells and the mentate state leaped into self-
It was time. Iak pressed down on the release icon of the control pad and allowed the power to build. Suddenly, a static charge licked out at him and with a startled yell, he fell back.
That was not supposed to have happened. He blinked and took a summary. Somewhere, he thought, he may have been at fault insulating a couple of chips. He shrugged. Of course, the whole thing had been put together with spare parts, so maybe he had skimped here and there. Maybe he even --
A crackling flax-flash-flaxsh sound silenced his thoughts as firmly as if a giant hand clamped itself over his head. Then, without the slightest warning -- blue-white lightening speared out from nowhere and stabbed in half a dozen directions.
Paperfax was lifted up and blown about the lab, a wind -- who knew where that came from -- pile-drove itself through the floor and began blowing like a gale released from hell. He knew that wasn't supposed to be happening.
The flax-flash-flaxshings took on a deeper, more powerful resonance, and the lightening doubled in intensity. Then some kind of pulsing, incandescent glow grew around the capsule.
All four of Iak's eyes opened wide. He was frightened. With a desperate surge of insight, his mind calculated what this could mean. There were certainly possibilities here he hadn't taken into account.
The fluxxing chaos building a static charge powerful enough to ripple the air changed, and the change built its way up the scale until it threatened to tear the clothes right off his back.
Something was dreadfully wrong, and it was too late to stop it. He had inadvertently created an evolving warp within the station, and portable instrumentality or no, he couldn't stop it without causing a time-space fracture. It could mean real time crushing against an artificially induced occurring time, which could be a disaster.
He had to let it work itself out, but meanwhile, the damn side effect it was causing was turning into a full-blown ion storm!
A chill raced up his quivering tail and horrified, he realized -- there were other labs in this wing. If the increasing static charge exceeded the boundaries of the walls around him, and the damn thing didn't look as if it were going to die down, there were chemical radiants, toxins, some of which he knew when mixed into an oxygenated atmosphere could turn the area into a deadly environment.
With a helpful spin from a muscled tail end, he whipped about, aimed himself as well as he could in the crackling high winds, and with a desperate lunge tried to make headway, when he was picked up by something laughing like a demon and thrown face first into the emergency panel. It splintered, and a klaxon blared overhead. Iak didn't hear it, though. He was lying in a corner with a numbing pain between his four eyes.
Solemnly, he waited for his parents to come and scold him. Why was there so much noise? Did he spill his breakfast again? He didn't mean to. But his hands weren't big enough for such a large spoon.... Dampers triggered by the automatic warning sensors lowered from their niches in the upper deck and busily started whipping out chemical froth. It seemed only a moment, when he found himself up to his chin in the glop, that didn't taste too bad. The lab's portals slapped open and two heavily armored M8s flew inside -- and at that precise moment the ionic field built up to a roaring tear of sub-atomic energy-releasing particles.
Then right when it all looked as if it were coming to a head, what was finally supposed to happen did. The field melded itself into the framework of the mesh built about the inner cabin of the capsule, and just as it had been planned, the material of space and time folded in on itself.
The M8s heaved the dazed Hadusian youngster up between them, turned, and with high-pitched yells of alarm, got out of there.
The implosion took what was left of the lab into the fold and left behind nothing but a crater. In the middle of that, lying like a fist-sized lump of twisted, melted metal was all that was left of Iak-Kosk!'s portable control unit, which should have ensured that the experiment never got out of hand.
Commander Grissom wanted to do something. He wanted to do it very badly, but he wasn't sure if he could get away with it. Maybe, he asked himself, if he gave the young Hadusian a choice of weapons?
Irritably, he shook his head and turned his attention back to the screen. An entire physics lab wiped out.
He knew this sort of thing was bound to happen. Children were the most untrustworthy, destructive creatures known to exist. They always had to be watched, and everything they did had to be carefully judged for potential disaster. If he had his way, he'd...his teeth ground together.
He looked round and groaned. Here was a prime example of what he meant. Secondary level, thirteenth adept, Hadusian sept, and even compared to them, this one was a genius.
The lad stood on all three points between two heavily armed mechdroid guards, and even in that fashion, he looked dangerous.
"Do you have any idea," asked Grissom, still dressed in space armor, "what you might have caused? What do you think a wormhole in the center of this facility could have done?"
Iak-Kosk! was indignant. "Other than a small side-effect," he scoffed (the teensy-eensy bit of warning trying so hard to nudge its way into his consciousness, gave it up and went back to sleep) "which did happen to occur, was somewhat out of phase with my original plans, but I can assure you, I checked my calculations carefully before entering into the project. The station, Commander, was quite safe. There was never anything to fear."
He blinked all four eyes at the adult, in as innocent a pose as he could summon, and hoped it would work. It didn't.
With little fanfare, he was thrown in the brig, his only food being mish and quarre. He chuckled as he dove into it. Perhaps the Instructor General wasn't aware, but his people considered this food a delicacy.
After fifteen orbits of it, though, and he forgot how many servings he'd been given, Iak ruefully conceded that perhaps the Commander was aware of it after all. He felt a little blue. His head rolled over, and he peered at his reflection off the polished wall. Yes, he even looked a little blue. He crawled over to the evacuall and was grateful for it.
Some time later, just as he was able to straighten up, reeling and tail dragging, he wondered if perhaps he just might have been a bit hasty? No, he disagreed with that. What he did was the right thing to do. It was destiny. He knew it. He felt it. No matter what price he had to pay, justice would prevail...
A sound made him turn over hopefully. The slot at the bottom of the cell door slid open and another steaming bowl of mish and quarre was pushed inside.
The Dean of Students regarded the two fidgeting parents in front of him with as grim a visage as he could muster and gestured with a couple brow tendrils.
"As his direct progenitors," he asked sarcastically, "perhaps you could tell me, please, how it is that someone so brilliant, as your son obviously is, could at the same time be so abysmally stupid?"
The father of the said culprit turned immediately to set a glaring double pair of eyes upon his life-mate.
"It's all her fault," he grated accusingly. "If I'd known I was marrying into such a family of erratic complexes -- as I was later to discover -- I would have done it in a tube!"
All four of her eyes slitted, and with a snaking move the target of her mate's disdain reached over and backhanded a smashing fist into his face. With a hiss, she cursed him and all his past ancestors, her language going so fast the Dean's interpreter sighed as it bravely tried to keep up.
"And how," she wailed, looking at the ceiling as if it were the very heavens, and referred to the fond memory of her father, "was he to know he was handing out meat for emptied shells?"
The object of her disdain having gotten a hold of himself blinked every eye in shock. He stood, dragging in a triple breath that expanded his upper chest, and roared, "Why you two for a copper grinch-lick! If we were back in our own universe, I'd -- I'd..." He stopped what he was going to say, turning a deep puce, as the Dean adopted a rather nice shade of frightening ochre. Mrs. Kosk! had drawn a meson derringer, and all fifteen of its crystalline energy barrels pointed rock steady in their direction.
There seemed little one could add at that point, but she quickly contradicted the impression. "I want," she gnashed out in a no-nonsense tone of voice, "to see my son." She lifted her lips hungrily, frontal fangs gleaming. "Here, in less than five sentiones. Alive, well and unharmed."
The Dean glanced a moment towards her husband, noting the frozen stance and realized that if her demands were not met, they'd regret it.
Fingers stabbed desperately at the communicator on his desk. "Hello! Control? Listen. I want Iak-Kosk! brought here right now. Do you hear me? I mean, right now! His parents are waiting!"
"Mother," Iak said as calmly as he could, instantly taking in the picture before him, "what are you doing?"
She turned around and spotted him in shackles as he came through a portal. Keening a high song, she whipped round and extended her arm in the preferred Hadusian firing stance, and her intended victims stiffened.
"Mother!" Iak shrilled. "Stop! I'm all right. Really! Look!" He held up his bonds. "Specially treated titallium. Unbreakable, but comfortable."
She blinked, blinked again, and a third time more slowly as he held them up before her at doubled eye level.
"Here," he offered, "feel..."
Tentatively, she reached out with a free hand, and a look of wonder came over her features. "They're -- they're soft."
"Yes, mother, they're soft. Don't hurt a bit." He jiggled them to show how light they were, too.
"They're not hurting my little sweetikins?" she asked him hopefully, and the arm that had been so recently locked into a firing stance dipped, and with that Iak-Kosk! turned a deep magenta with embarrassment.
It took a little while for a couple of Healers, especially trained to handle this (Hysterical Mothers, Inc.) sort of thing, to arrive, but the task of escorting the weeping, contrite female away was finally accomplished.
"I hope you'll forgive Eemuu, Dean," Iak-Kosk!'s father began, looking earnestly at the other, and receiving a nod of understanding in return. He shook his head in disgust. "I completely forgot when the summons came. She's in her season, you see, and well, at that time, whenever there's an implied threat to an offspring..." He shrugged helplessly.
"They tend to get a little carried away."
Iak showed his fangs in a grin. Hah! He could tell the Dean stories, especially about the pre-nups -- let alone the grown-ups -- and then it occurred to him, that he was a pre-nup. His upper pair of eyes narrowed thoughtfully.
The Dean was nodding in a conciliatory manner to Messr. Kosk!'s excuses, when he noticed how quiet the youngster was. It looked like he was scheming about something. His scalp writhed in consternation. He didn't know what he feared most -- the mothers of the species or their kids.
"Of course, you understand, even though we're insured, some costs will have to be borne by the parents."
"We shall make full restitution," Iak's father assured him.
"I guess, that it is understandable for Hadusian children to be attracted to independent research, but we would hope you'll impress upon him, er, some understanding about what his obligations are." An eye ridge rose. "If, you get my meaning?"
Messr. Kosk! blinked all four eyes, wondering what it was the other was getting at, and then he understood. A purple tongue licked grimly thinned lips. He got it all right.
The Dean nodded shortly. "I think the rest of this quarter might be relegated for a nice visit, and then tomorrow, I believe he has a number of classes to make up."
With a sinuous glide, he was out of his chair, and slipped past father and son. As he left his office, he paused to listen expectantly, and soon the sounds of high Hadusian rose, the words themselves didn't carry through the seal, but their content was ripe.
A sound of youthful alarm, followed by 'thwack-thwack-thwacks!' gave the Dean all the assurances he needed that things were being put into proper perspective. The sounds grew with intensity, and he smiled.
Making his way down the corridor, nodding here and there to passing students, instructors, alien and mechdroid alike, he felt that there were times when his work was its own reward.
As for the Iak-Kosk! business, the entire incident was over and done, cemented with a healthy round of parental lessons in responsibility. He wondered musingly what it must feel like to have a sore undertail.
Maintenance had hardly finished refitting the lab when the air started heating up, and crackling sounds could be heard building somewhere nearby. Organics and non-organics looked at each other in wonder. That's when a tech bounced through the portal screaming that the ionic meters were jumping off the scale and everyone better get the hell out of there.
Hurriedly, they moved towards the exit. Suddenly, the remains of the lab were split with the sound of a sonic boom. Those thrown to the floor stared back in horror.
A twisting distortion in time and space warped before them, and in disbelief, they crawled backwards and were pulled into the corridor by frantic hands.
Klaxons honked, lights flared to emergency colors and flashed, and just in time, the portal slammed shut. The explosion caused concussion waves to ripple out and everything and everyone on five levels felt it
Someone on the other side of the bulging blast-proof portal mentioned having a student for dinner. He was told to shut up; Hadusian twerps weren't digestible.
Along with the portal, the entire wall had been pushed out. They were lucky it -- whatever it was -- had been contained.
Victor scanned inside, and for the moment, that was all anyone could do. The monitors didn't exist anymore. He reported that everything that had disappeared earlier was now back. Only it would be a real trick separating that stuff with what they replaced it with... Ion torches were recommended.
An auditor summoned from his niche in the math department, kept clucking over his personal calculator, and it wasn't soon after when he started shaking his head and moving his lips.
"Great," said the maintenance' crew's headperson, "just great. There's nothing in there we can salvage. We can only go back in, and clean it all out again."
Some budding genius wondered if it would be wiser if they just closed off the section altogether. Eyes turned round reproachfully. "Well," he muttered, "it was just a suggestion. I mean, I'm not superstitious, but this is twice in a row."
Once they got the portal cracked open, Iak-Kosk! and a number of autogravity monitoring units were let in. Then the portal was wedged shut again and resealed. The units roamed around, beams of eye-hurting blobs of light shined all around on a mess of twisted metal walls that was once equipment, ceiling, floor and walls.
In the freezing darkness, Iak Kosk! stumbled over the debris. The environmental suit made movement awkward, and besides, the one he wore wasn't designed for poste-saurians, and his tail had been clamped to his right leg. It was damn uncomfortable, and he was sore from other things as well.
"Get on with it!"
The youngster glared up at one of the units, and grumbling, he started to make his way inwards, but had to stop when he found himself cut off. He got down on hands and knees and crawled partway, but that didn't do either. Finally, there was nothing for it but to climb. When he got to the top, he could see it.
Through the ashy steam and misting cold, in the exact center of the lab from where it had started forth, the capsule sat at rest, its exo-skeleton glistening from the long trip it had taken.
His intra-saculars pounded from excitement. He struggled to get through, pushing material back and forth, ignoring admonitions and warnings to be careful. Those outside still weren't too sure of the atmosphere containment, and besides that, he wasn't wearing space armor... and no one wanted to take his place.
He couldn't have cared less. After a struggle, he stood proudly before his creation and pointed for the world to see. The stick-in-the-muds observing him were not impressed.
Iak Kosk! touched the side of the capsule with a probe, and was surprised at the readings. Aside of the glistening coat, temperature readings were normal. No excess radiation. No cumulative time effects. He didn't know what the glistening material was; except that it was a solidified sheathe of something.
"The heat and radiation," he reported, "appears to have dissipated."
He looked around and saw nothing else to attract his attention. "I'm taking off the protective gear..." He waited for them to argue against it, but no one said anything. He pulled off his helmet and sniffed. Other than a slight smell of ozone, there didn't seem to be anything else.
Pulling off the protective overall, he stretched his tail with a sigh of relief. Then he leaned over the gauges, touched a number of sensor controls, but nothing appeared out of place there either. Now, for the moment of truth.
Making his way about the octagonal capsule, he pressed the code release for the hatch. This was the tricky part. If he calculated wrong, and he was certain he hadn't, the hatch would crack open and he'd smell something rotten.
With a momentous hiss, it cracked open, his tongue licked out, and then he smiled. It was okay. Next was a bit tricky. This had to be done in slow stages. The hatch was built in two parts: first, the outer seal and pressurizer with a two-way valve system. This allowed him to test the enclosure without expressly cracking it wide and then there was the inner chamber that was still sealed and likely to remain so unless he coded the release.
He didn't want a sudden pressure change. Opening the inner seal had to be done in micro-clicks to slow seconds, making up for current reality time phases. This would allow a safe margin for gaseous exchange, introducing metabolic interaction in both real time for the scooped material, and real time for present surroundings.
Keying the interlocks, he set the combination and the timer, and then stood back. This was it. Either he knew what he was doing, or he'd forever be derided as a dangerous incompetent.
A humming started in the shell casings, the hatch cracked a millimicrometer, the inner seal stretched open a couple of molecules and the onset of an osmotic reaction began. Several minutes later, it happened. The tone pulses of a sonic breach in the seal built, until the desired pitch reached a physical harmony point with the occupant and the present universe.
The hatch cracked a full millimeter, then two, then three, moving outwards now as it slid on its magnetic rails, hinging down from top to bottom, slowly, ever so slowly, and the double hatch lifted clear of the side of the capsule, till it lay as a ramp arching upwards like an opened beak.
His helical pumps almost clutching themselves, he stepped importantly into the enclosure, gripped at the sides, looked down, saw what it was he expected to see, and in a faltering old-styled English, presented himself to the awakening, bewildered man reclining in the auto restraints of the compartment's cushioned couch.
"Allow me to welcome you to your new home, sir. Here you will be safe from your enemies."
The Instructor General was not particularly happy at the answers he was getting for his questions. There was something wrong here, somewhere. It all seemed too simple.
"Are you telling me," he asked the Hadusian monster, Iak-Kosk!, "that that machine of yours is capable of taking an individual out of his own time, and there are no repercussions from it?" Wearily, he rubbed at throbbing temples.
Iak nodded happily, gazing with a fondness beyond his years at the man he'd brought back from death, as the other wandered around the control room looking at everything with fascination.
"This is wonderful," he was heard saying through the translator he wore around his neck. "All these instruments and controls and, er..." He looked dubiously at the companion assigned to keep a close watch over him. "Mechdroids?" He fumbled over the term apologetically. "Did I say that right?"
The M8 escorting him bobbed in agreement, making sure that what the other touched was powered down and wouldn't cause mayhem.
"Yes, you have termed me correctly. I am an M8 mechdroid, with an android type mental facility, augmented with fusion independence, tentacular controls and an in-built habit for worrying."
"I am also an instructor in applied psycho-physical phenomena."
"Things that aren't really there, but are."
"You're a teacher?"
"That is so."
"You think so?" asked the mechdroid immediately, sensing a fellow sufferer.
"You bet. Give me a student and I'll give you a pain in the neck."
"How true," the M8 sighed, moving closer to this remarkably astute human. "How very true."
Grissom leaned over so the man from the past wouldn't hear him. "Iak, are you saying we don't have to return him to his time? You haven't caused a paradox somewhere down the line?"
"Sir, really! Did you think I'd be so careless? I took precautions. In the history text he was labeled an escapee and never found. Ever. Therefore, if an individual was never found, and all evidence of his presence was wiped out with his disappearance, ergo sum, his reappearance anywhere after that is physically proportional to the time effect of his presence. In short, he could have been picked up and dropped down anywhere along the time line and nothing would have happened."
"And that's that?"
"Well, not really. You see -- history erased him. I just put him back in the picture."
"A phrase I picked up in one of the classes. Meaningless, really."
"Uh huh." Grissom nodded wisely. This one bore watching. He glanced at the stranger, conversing avidly with his mechdroid escort, and wondered what it was they were talking so intently about. Then he looked back and had to steady himself. Iak-Kosk! doodled on a pad of paperfax.
Times like these, he wished he were back with Yooee doing a hand to mouth existence freighting kip. At least he knew what he was doing about that, and in fact, there were times more than not, when he just wanted to...but no, he doubted if he could convince her to run away with him, but she had this depression fixation about loyalties.
Geoff Geauterre is a retired civil servant with a degree in History and special interests in Journalism and Research. He has lived in Florida, New York, Chicago, Boston, Maine, Montreal, Northern Quebec, Calgary, Northwest Territories, and parts of Alaska. He's said he gained his sense of humor from the back of a mule.
Experienced in Medicine, Administration, Security, Publications and News Services as a reporter and commentator, with over four years in the U.S. Navy, he later applied that background when attending the University.
Geoff has traveled to England, France, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and the Mediterranean Islands. He likes studying Philosophy, Comparative Myths, Legends and Religions. He is also reasonably certain of having gained prior experience in writing in another life. He only hoped it wasn't one that led him to the guillotine!
TTB Titles: A Nightful of Mages - sf/f novel
The Fourth Guardian - sf/f novel
The Soapmaster's Apprentice - sf/f novel
Author web site.
Beyond the Eyes of Light Copyright © 2005. Geoff Geauterre. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.
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A special note to TTB readers. All contents of this web site are copyright by the writers, artists or web site designer. If you discover any artwork or writing published here elsewhere on the internet, or in print magazines, please let us know immediately. The staff of Twilight Times Books feels very strongly about protecting the copyrighted work of our authors and artists.
Web site copyright © 1999, 2000 - 2009. Lida Quillen. All rights reserved.
Cover design 2005 Ardy M. Scott. All rights reserved.
This page last updated 01-01-09.
Twilight Times Books logo design by Joni.