OCTOBER 5TH, 2300 HOURS (2200 HOURS MOUNTAIN TIME)
Motion flicking a path in his peripheral vision, Colonel Stevens looked up from his glaring white papers. Colonel Jennings was walking into the room, after Major Nylander chivalrously swept a hand out to offer her first entry.
Nylander. Couldn’t she have chosen anyone else as her team’s spokesperson?
Colonel Stevens tried not to stare too much, eying them quietly conversing, carefully swaying around each other and trying not to appear overly obvious, as they headed for their seats. Quite the blond, handsome pair, actually; she with her long, sandy locks, neatly tied back, and he with his muscle-bound body, tan skin, and short, golden spiked hair.
Smiles. Coy behavior. It was obvious; she was attracted to him. They sat down and still she smiled, still she acted demurely.
What a waste. Those several young women on her team and she couldn’t have picked one of them? She could always spend time with the Swedish boy later.
But the memory of Lang’s distressed face, after Evan had snapped him out of imagining Deidra in their presence again, unexpectedly slashed through Colonel Stevens mind. This selfishness needed to end. He pushed his untoward feelings aside and looked across the table, directly into Colonel Jennings alluring hazel eyes. “Do you have any good news for us?”
Her cheerful face quickly drained to taut seriousness. “No, sir. I’m sorry to say, but it’s actually worse than we thought. And I couldn’t tell you earlier because Lang and Evan were around us.”
The sound of flapping papers distracted Colonel Stevens away from her gut-wrenching words. He glanced to the doorway. General Tauring was rushing in, reports in hand.
Colonel Stevens immediately stood up and saluted the general, with the others following suit.
“At ease, officers. Let’s get right to work. We have plenty to talk about.”
General Tauring and everyone else sat down.
The general looked at Colonel Stevens. “How are the Turrones?”
“Physically, they’re fine, sir. But mentally, not so well. I…we had to help them, quite a bit, with their difficulties, with the…we named it too, sir.”
“Yes, I am aware.” General Tauring had his eyes on a copy of Colonel Stevens’ report. “Evan named it ‘the hull’. Short, clever, and to the point. Makes it a heck of a lot easier to converse about it. I told you kids are good at naming things.”
“You did, sir. But, as far as their mental state…they’re not doing so well. Besides being very upset from shrinking in size again, Lang had another episode about his wife.”
“Explain,” General Tauring said. “You didn’t mention it in your report.”
“My apologies, sir. We’ve been quite busy with them. Since the death of his wife Deidra, on July 10th, Lang periodically experiences bereavement hallucinations, which are often categorized as anomalous experiences or benign hallucinations. Evan can usually snap him out of it, but it’s troubling for the boy nonetheless.”
“Has he been taking any medication for this?”
“Well, no. I believe he’s been hiding it, mostly, except from Evan. And we certainly cannot give him any medication now. It’s not a diseased mind state, simply non-psychotic. Usually bereavement hallucinations subside over time.”
“I thought Lang is a devout Christian.”
“He is, and we spoke of that too, but sometimes losing a loved one can be very devastating, regardless.”
“Yes, I understand.” General Tauring read more of the report. “Lang wants to get in touch with his mother and father, Antonio and Migisi Turrone, and his brother Luke.” The general chuckled to himself for a moment. “One of those families that like to name their kids with the same first letter. But, I digress.” He looked at Colonel Stevens. “Not much we can do at this point, Colonel. Explain that we wouldn’t want Mom, Dad and brother in any danger, or for that matter seeing him and Evan in their present condition. But we’ll have Major Eiken take care of this too. He can give the standard line – possible terroristic threat with necessary military involvement.”
“Speaking of Major Eiken, sir. Evan would like to see him again.”
“Well he can’t, Colonel. You know that as well as I.”
“I just want to try anything we can to lighten their depressive state.”
“Considerate of you, Colonel, but denied.” The general let out a gruff exhale and looked at the report again. “And it seems confirmed. The Turrones are not experiencing hunger, thirst, or the need to relieve themselves, even after approximately fourteen and a half hours our time. That’s a mile-high order. Are you certain of this?”
“Sir, if I may,” Colonel Jennings said, before Colonel Stevens had a chance to answer.
General Tauring’s gaze shifted to his left, to her location at the table, mild impatience furrowing his brow. “Yes, go ahead.”
“As I put in my report, Lang and Evan wanted to see their Suburban. To try to touch it.”
“And they could not?”
“Correct, sir,” she answered. “The same repulsion prevented it. But it was then, around twenty hundred hours that they told both Colonel Stevens and me about a lack of their bodily functions. They told us it’s as though they just ate, just drank, and just used the bathroom. So I am becoming more convinced they may be surviving without the need for bodily functions.”
Colonel Stevens gave her a brief smile, at her supportive gesture; and those previous negative feelings began to dissolve away.
“And so am I,” General Tauring said. “It’s quite the shock.” He placed his arms on the table and glanced from Colonel Jennings, and then to Colonel Stevens. “I want both of you to check for any as yet unnoticed transparent tubes, lines, wires, or whatever, coming from the hull to the Turrones or their Suburban. And I know I stated at our last meeting that the Turrones are most likely dead and merely reanimated, but after discussing this with my superiors, I have been instructed to move forward as though they are alive, until proven otherwise. But we will discuss more of this later.”
“Yes, sir,” Colonel Stevens said, relieved. “And Lang and Evan are also noticing they’re not tired now too.”
General Tauring leaned back in his seat and took on a skeptical eye. “Really. What are they doing right now?”
“They’re in the commons area. All three of us have been with them, as I mentioned moments earlier, trying to comfort them. We didn’t want them in their room now. They are sitting on the sofa chairs, watching TV, although they’re not the happiest with that too, saying everything is moving far too slowly in the shows or movies.”
“Speaking of which…” General Tauring flipped open Colonel Jennings’ report and laid it on the table. He placed Colonel Stevens report next to it and stared at both reports for a moment. “I see you two collaborated and determined the times for the light flash events.” He glanced at everyone around the table. “Which, by the way, I have decided will be called from henceforth ‘decrease events’, being that is the most significant and disturbing part of the entire light flash episode.”
“Yes, sir,” Colonel Stevens said, and Colonel Jennings spoke similarly.
“Now, will these decrease events continue? Who can say?” The general eyed both reports again. “Three decrease events so far, at ten hundred, eleven thirty, and sixteen hundred hours, their time, Central Time, occurring at the same time for the Suburban and the Turrones. And from what my superiors have informed me, for the five other people and their vehicles as well. Seems apparent to me that they’re all in the same dimension.”
Colonel Jennings nodded. “I would agree, sir. And as of twenty-one thirty hours, the Suburban’s clock is now two hours and forty two minutes ahead of their original Central Time zone.”
“That’s what we have too,” Colonel Stevens said. “From the time on Lang’s watch, cell phone, and Evan’s PSP.”
General Tauring rubbed his chin for some time, taking on his familiar thinking pose. “Very well, then. Both teams, I want a running count of any further decrease events. And Colonel Stevens, how did Lang and Evan react when you told them about the other five?”
“Surprised, sir, and quite interested,” Colonel Stevens said. “They didn’t appear to know anything about it beforehand, whatsoever.”
The general slowly nodded, his eyes even deeper in thought. “I see.” His gaze dropped to Colonel Stevens report again. “All right. Let’s quickly recap your attempts and discoveries. X-rays only produced black screens, the CT scan ditto, the ultrasound, in A, B, and M modes showed nothing, except for the hull absorbing all the probe gel. And of course the MRI revealed nothing and then we had the third decrease event.” He lifted the report closer to his eyes. “The camera on Lang’s phone appears to no longer be working. And on our end, not a speck of video or audio evidence of the Turrones, though the pen danced around by itself.”
“Sir, if I may,” Captain Indalo said abruptly, pushing with one hand his shiny camcorder across the dark brown table in front of where Major Ko sat. “You should take a look at the pen.”
Colonel Stevens picked up the camcorder and gave it to the general.
General Tauring took it and began pressing the buttons. “Thank you, Captain. I certainly will.”
He watched it, along with Colonel Jennings and Nylander. All three expressed startling surprise and let out a few subdued chuckles.
“Amusing, and gives me some ideas.” The general handed the camcorder back to Colonel Stevens. Colonel Stevens passed it to Major Ko. “I want the MRI done again. Only this time, I want you, Stevens, in the MRI, watching Lang and Evan yell and toss a ball or some other object back and forth to each other.”
“Good idea, sir,” Colonel Stevens said.
“See if we can’t get those certain areas of the brain, for sight and auditory responses…the…uh…”
“Primarily Broca’s area, Wernicke’s area, the angular gyrus and supramarginal gyrus, and the visual and auditory cortexes,” Major Ko said without a pause. “We will do so, sir.”
“As always, very on top of things, Major,” General Tauring said.
Major Ko smiled. “Thank you, sir.”
That idea about destructive interference suddenly popped into Colonel Stevens’ thoughts. “Oh, and sir. I’d like to mention more about my theory I briefly began in my report.”
The general gave a slight, brief nod. “Go ahead.”
“My theory is based upon the hull actually residing in our dimension, but controlling all energy around it. Possibly all x-rays, radio waves, magnetic fields, and sound waves either penetrate, or just reach the surface of the material, and at that exact moment, the hull sends a precise destructive interference right back, thereby completely eliminating any readings. It’s selective. I’m inclined to follow this hypothesis, since we have all actually--”
“Touched it,” General Tauring spoke abruptly. “But that doesn’t address how we can see reflective light off its surface, unless, like you say, it’s selective. But I think you’ll change that idea once we discuss Colonel Jennings’ report. Would Lang allow the laser experiment to be repeated?”
Well that was a left-field hit. Colonel Stevens felt his nerves sear. “No…not a good time now, sir. Maybe later. They’re quite devastated, as I mentioned.”
“Of course.” General Tauring tapped the report’s bottom on the table top a few times. “But on to Colonel Jennings. As I mentioned at our last meeting, I believe this is an EBE instigated event, that is possibly both intergalactic and interdimensional. I am, however, having some difficulty with the intergalactic aspect. If our minds, and the hull people’s minds, are truly being manipulated to see, hear, and touch what is before us, that’s quite the enormous distance.”
“True, sir,” Major Ko said. “Andromeda is approximately two and a half million light years distance from our Milky Way galaxy. But could the scene Lang observed be underground, or in an enormous alien hangar, or simply in a portion of our galaxy devoid of light?”
The general almost smiled. “Astute once more, Major Ko. Yes. I have considered that. Or, after our knowledge of EBE portal travel via warped or bent space-time, mind control at such huge distances could still be a possibility.” He looked at Colonel Stevens. “Which is why, as I spoke seconds ago, recreating Dr. Bohanek’s laser experiment could prove very useful.”
Again with this? Sweat began leaking from Colonel Stevens armpits. “Yes, I agree, sir. We certainly will, when the Turrones are more stable. But, I could ask Lang for more details…about what he thinks he observed.”
In an eye blink General Tauring thrust his forearms onto the table’s surface with a hard thud and poked his head closer, instantly shortening the distance between both their faces. His gray eyes glared. “You can’t protect these people from everything. In fact, your protection could be hurting them, enormously.”
“Yes, sir.” Slowly Colonel Stevens sat up straighter, trying to keep his cool and increase the space between them. “I will tell Lang how necessary it is.”
“Good.” General Tauring returned to his original, stately sitting position and calmer manner. “And yes, ask Lang to clarify what he saw.” He was quiet a moment. “Now, do I have any doubts about EBE involvement and the interdimensional aspects? Not really. Not after Colonel Jennings’ discoveries. Her test results highly suggest the people or vehicles within the hull could not possibly exist in our realm. She used both a refractometer and an interferometer on the air space within the hull surrounding the Suburban. Both devices showed refractive indices less than one.”
“How is that possible?” Colonel Stevens asked, stunned, though this new revelation helped to lessen his elevated pulse. He looked at Colonel Jennings.
Her thoughtful, lovely gaze locked on his. “Refractive indices less than one are needed for comparison testing, when a number less than one is designated for the vacuum index,” she said. “But irrespective, this shows the speed of light within the hull is faster than our speed of light.”
“As Dr. Bohanek’s little laser game showed, though not definitively,” General Tauring said. “But now we have some proof.”
“But that can’t be,” Colonel Stevens said. “It’s simply impossible. And how…how can we believe any of this? The hull could be controlling our devices, or simply controlling what we’re seeing.”
General Tauring thrust a pointed finger at him, until about a foot from Colonel Stevens’ face. “Exactly, Colonel. It’s not possible.” He placed his hand on the table. “The speed of light, as we all know, is the known speed limit in the universe. So, this leads to several possibilities. One, the hull images are strictly telepathic, and completely created by the EBEs, for whatever strange reason they deem necessary, to reveal a dimension where light travels faster. Or, two, Lang and Evan are actually experiencing an altered, increasing light speed dimension through the EBE’s advanced technology, and the views of this are being transmitted to us as some advanced form of holographic imaging, telepathically or otherwise, for our viewing pleasure. I even pondered the possibility of recorded holographic images, but that doesn’t explain our communication with them.”
“Sir,” Major Ko said. “Are you suggesting the EBEs are continuously manipulating and reading our brains, and then supplying images of Lang and Evan decreased in height and fast-forwarded in time?”
“Certainly possible, Major.”
This didn’t even seem conceivable to Colonel Stevens. “But sir, the question is, why show this? What for? Why not just keep them in our same dimensional constraints? It makes no sense.”
“Exactly, Colonel. I agree. But I don’t know why.”
“Their images…could Lang and Evan be on a spacecraft moving at some altered form of special relativity?” Colonel Stevens asked.
“No, doubtful,” Colonel Jennings said. “I’ve never heard of any altered theory of special relativity. Lang and Evan should be slowing in time and compressing in size as the spacecraft approaches the speed of light. But instead, they’re moving forward in time, though decreasing in size.”
Major Ko looked at Colonel Jennings. “Ma’am, maybe our dimension is somehow speeding up, traveling away from Lang and Evan, at close to the speed of light?”
“But then we should appear shorter or flatter to them,” she said. “But instead they see us as larger.”
“Well,” Captain Indalo said, “if they’re trying to communicate or make a point, it just seems dumb to speed people up in time and make them shorter. And if this continues, what’s the outcome?”
“Shrewd observation,” General Tauring told Captain Indalo.
Inhaling deeply, Colonel Jennings shrugged her small shoulders, the white coat covering her ABU only accenting her beauty and soothing femininity even more. “I have reasoned that maybe the decrease events are adding more power to their devices, which is why time is increasing for them. But that doesn’t fly, since we see them faster than us and gives no reason for the size decreases.”
“What about the theoretical hypothesis of traveling beyond the speed of light?” Captain Indalo asked. “By simply ignoring the negative number under the radical sign for the Lorentz factor and ignoring the infinite energy problem. But…length would increase and mass would decrease in this theory, and we have just the opposite taking place.”
“Yeah, sure,” she said, with Nylander gawking at her, his dazed mind obviously preoccupied with other things, “we could mention Alcubierre drive theory as a mean to entrap Lang and Evan, though that would mean the hull exists of exotic matter, and it may, for all we know. Or maybe the EBEs behind the hull use some sort of tachyon technology for increasing light speed, or the Scharnhorst effect of decreasing virtual particle pairs, thereby increasing light speed. But trust me. None of these totally give us all the variables we’re dealing with.” She sighed, frustration imprinting around her face.
“But tell Colonel Stevens’ team your main hypothesis,” General Tauring said.
Time to take a look at her report. Colonel Stevens was about to rummage through his own copy, but the general gave a stern eye. He instead targeted his sight back on Colonel Jennings, a sight much appreciated by his exhausted, troubled mind.
She glanced at each of Colonel Stevens’ team members. “From what I’ve researched, and under the assumption the Turrones are alive and actually residing in a dimension where light speed is truly increasing, whether we are viewing them as holographic images or manipulations of our minds, then our two realms can never meet.”
“What exactly did you research?” Colonel Stevens asked.
“Well, it’s in my report, but mostly I read theoretical papers, from grad student thesis, with intense math and none actually experimental. But overall, they all dealt with string theory or M-theory, and all involved explanations of expanding branes and antibranes colliding and expanding, to explain inflation and the start of our universe.”
“Explosions?” General Tauring asked.
“No, sir. Expansion of matter, not exactly explosions. Even the EBE information I was able to investigate didn’t supply anything that would exactly match this. They only gave information about entering and exiting two dimensions, but these are for dimensions of similar physical constants…I tried to read more, but couldn’t understand all of it…and now they’re leaving.”
“Leaving?” Colonel Stevens asked.
“I heard about it, but it wasn’t confirmed,” Captain Indalo said.
“My apologies,” General Tauring said. “Thought all of you might have heard the rumor. Yes, it does appear that our EBE buddies are all gung ho about packing up and leaving. We’re not sure why, they won’t explain, but hopefully I’ll get more information on this soon.” He looked at Colonel Jennings. “Any further details you want to add?”
“Just that, with an increasing mass, increasing time, increasing light speed, but with a decreasing size, we’re talking about vast energy differences. And then coupled with Lang and Evan seeing light flashes of decreasing color energies, and all of us seeing light flashes of increasing color energies, this is not looking good. Our two dimensions meeting could mean complete annihilation for all of us.”
“So what are to become of Lang and Evan?” Colonel Stevens asked, his heart sinking.
“Wait for more details as we continue,” General Tauring said. “All hope is not lost.” The general inhaled deeply and relaxed his shoulders. “There are three main points I want to discuss further. One, the hull…” He paused a moment, thinking. “From now on, when I say hull, I’m encompassing within that term the EBEs behind the hull too. Is that clear?”
“Yes, sir,” Colonel Stevens said.
Colonel Jennings gave a quick nod. “Absolutely, sir.”
“Good. Let me continue. One, numerous devices Colonel Jennings used to test the hull encompassing the Suburban revealed nothing, save for revealing the hull as homogeneous, but which we already assumed from Dr. Bohanek’s laser experiment. Two, the ESEM machine stopped working while being used on the Suburban, and we suspect the hull did this. And along that same line, the hull somehow allowed a cell phone call through to Lang, even after the first decrease event had already occurred. And third, the hull violated, or rather, appeared to violate, numerous physical laws.”
This was getting quite interesting. Colonel Stevens looked down at his copy of Colonel Jennings’ report, readying his hands to flip a page open.
“I’ll spare you the trouble,” General Tauring said.
He quickly looked back at the general. “My apologies, sir. I just wanted to take a glance.”
“Not a problem, Colonel. But you can read the details in your own time. So, here’s a quick list.” General Tauring eyed her report again. “Gigahertz band radar testing for permeability, permittivity, and electromagnetism all proved negative, but you already could not detect any electric or magnetic fields, or for that matter, that the hull is a conductor of electricity.”
“Yes, precisely, sir,” Colonel Stevens said.
“All right. Continuing. Burning and freezing of the Suburban only burnt and froze the ambient air. Emissivity measurements showed nothing, since no electromagnetic radiation came from the hull nor was reflected by the hull.”
Colonel Stevens sighed. “I see now why my destructive interference theory won’t stand.”
“But it was a valiant postulate, Colonel, nonetheless. Continuing. As with your team, Colonel Jennings found MRI, x-ray, and ultrasound testing showed nothing. Hardness testing revealed nothing and was simply unsuccessful. Atomic force microscopy couldn’t pick up anything. IR testing revealed no heat signature. An attempt at sending an electric current through the hull failed, similar to gigahertz band test. Work function tests couldn’t remove electrons around the hull, as suspected. And lastly, water displacement failed miserably – immersing the Suburban in a pool of water showed no displacement.”
“Wow, sir,” Captain Indalo said. “No displacement? That says a lot right there, for me.”
“Yes, it does, Captain. It utterly defies any innate sense of reality.” He focused his attention back on Colonel Stevens. “And I would like the same test done on Lang and Evan, just to confirm the Suburban’s results.”
“Yes, sir. I’m sure that shouldn’t be a problem for them.”
“Good.” The general eyed Nylander. “Major, give us a short summation of the ESEM fubar.”
Nylander smiled, his perfect white teeth brightening the room far more than should be legally allowed. “Of course, sir.” He looked straight on at Colonel Stevens, unfortunately. Colonel Stevens stared back, his disgust probably pushing through. “We placed the Suburban within the ESEM, using certain gases to promote suitable views by the electron gun. And then…and then we were probably on to something since as soon as an image started appearing in the viewing window, the ESEM stopped working, instantly.” The disgusted stare was probably more than Nylander could bear; his eyes began darting in turns at the general, Major Ko, and Captain Indalo. “The electron gun no longer works. We’re…I’m not sure what’s wrong. Not yet, anyway.”
“How do you know the ESEM didn’t just simply stop working?” Major Ko asked.
“It’s certainly possibly,” Major Nylander answered. “But the coincidence, to happen right at the moment we begin obtaining an image.”
“Which I find confusing.” General Tauring leaned back into his chair. He rubbed his chin a moment. “Since it’s most likely not in our dimension, why even bother? My final conclusion is we don’t know for certain, unless it happens again and then in a most obvious manner.”
Colonel Stevens recalled something. “But, sir. What of my suggestion that Lang’s cell phone camera is no longer working since maybe the hull is attempting to prevent evidence of its actions?”
“Yes, Colonel. I noticed that in your report. And as of now, possibly. But keep in mind the HAZMAT team’s experience. No video recording, and then they have video recording. So, simply keep track of this. Alert me of any changes.” General Tauring lifted the report, his eyes searching the page. “And now, speaking of phones. The cell phone call. Confirmed by cell phone carrier records, Lang received a late-for-work call from Katherine Olson, at Brinwell Communications and Research, from Fargo, North Dakota at ten thirty-six hours Fargo time. Now, how on earth could this occur, when, since the speed of light is increasing in the hull realm, the radio transmission waves were traveling faster within the hull?”
“I have thought about this too, sir,” Colonel Jennings said. “Possibly, since radio waves typically have longer wavelengths, and the air space within the hull is so narrow, the radio waves’ velocity probably remained consistent. If, that is--”
“IF, exactly.” General Tauring leaned on the table and stared at her. “First of all, how could electromagnetic waves from our dimension even enter a realm with altered energy?”
She stared back, blinking, evidently searching for an answer. “I…I don’t know, sir. Except…the hull did allow the laser light beams through, or else the interferometer and refractometer wouldn’t have worked.”
“Excellent point, Colonel. And furthermore, if Lang’s not even here, only a telepathic manipulation of our minds, how did the call even occur?”
“Could the hull have answered that call, and simply spoke to Katherine in Lang’s voice?” Major Ko asked.
“Yes, that’s certainly a possibility.” General Tauring sat up straight in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. He stared at Major Ko. “Again, the hull shows us it is very much interacting with out realm, yet the Turrones and their Suburban could not exist in our realm.” He shook his head and picked up Jennings’ report, flipping through pages until settling upon one. “But on to our last discussion. The hull appears to have broken the laws of conservation of linear momentum, angular momentum, and conservation of energy. Now, again, most of the details are in the report, but I want to mention a few of the highlights, the tidbits of fun, shall we say, that the hull had with us.” He placed the report on the table, his gaze dropping to it. “Crash testing the Suburban, in an attempt to break off a specimen. Strapped in and accelerated to forty miles per hour into the crash wall. And what does our clever, always fascinating hull do? With the rail moving forward on the track, the Suburban simply backs away, the straps non-existent to it. Second attempt. Upon impact with the wall, the Suburban simply sinks to the floor, completely ignoring its momentum. And last attempt, and of course the most spectacular of all three. Upon hitting the crash wall, the Suburban glides right through the wall, to the old computer closet on the other side.”
“What?” Colonel Stevens said, astounded. He looked at Colonel Jennings. “So what did you do?”
She shrugged. “We simply walked into the closet.” Her eyes were wide and she spoke matter-of-factly. “We found it there, interspersed between shelves and computer items. And it’s weird, sir. We simply were able to push it back through the crash wall, like…like it was a weightless air balloon.”
“Wow, I would have liked to have seen that.”
“Same here,” Major Ko said. “Stunning. Simply stunning.”
“Oh, it was,” Major Nylander said, giving that annoying bright smile again.
General Tauring looked at Colonel Stevens. “I want you to test whether Lang and Evan can walk through walls.”
“Yes, sir.” Colonel Stevens’ underarm sweat and searing nerves elevated to a new discomfort level. “But what about their Christian beliefs, and their current mental state?”
“Of course, Colonel. When they are ready to do so.”
Relief filled Colonel Stevens; and fortunately, the general now seemed in a hurry, wanting to complete this meeting ASAP.
General Tauring focused back on the report. “And then, breaking the conservation of angular momentum – centripetal force took center stage when the Suburban was strapped to the rotating track, in an effort to whip away a portion of the hull due to tangential force of circular motion. The rotating track was spun at a high rate of speed. And what did the hull do? Instantaneously, the Suburban lifted upwards, right through the straps, just hovering there, while the track below kept spinning. When Jennings turned off the track, the Suburban merely floated to the floor. And needless to say, no sample was obtained. And then another try. The Suburban was strapped back on the rotating track, this time with remotely-controlled straps, in hopes once the spinning stopped abruptly, the Suburban would make a straight tangential line to the wall and crash. But what did it do? Once stopped, the Suburban kept following the same circular path as the rotating track, and slowed down, as the track kept moving.”
Colonel Stevens shook his head. “Sir, this is all so impossible.”
“But I’m only getting started, Colonel. Give this old general a chance, please.”
At least he gave one of his funny, unpredictable moments; Colonel Stevens smiled and stared down at the table.
“Last attempt. A closed rotating system, where, according to the calculations in Jennings’ report, the Suburban was placed at a radius of seven meters, with an initial angular speed of four radians per second. Weights of the turntable and the most recently obtained weight of the Suburban, of course due to the hull allowing such a result, were included in the calculations. Now, with things rotating, the Suburban was moved to a two meter radius by an attached mechanical arm within the table. It should have been increased in speed to eight radians per second. But instead, the radians per second decreased.”
“So it’s implying an outside torque?” Colonel Stevens asked.
“Correct, Colonel, as impossible as it seems.” General Tauring sighed and looked at the report again. “And now on to the breaks in conservation of energy. The Suburban was brought up by robotic lift, since at this point the hull still supplied it with weight, to that thirty meter high ledge, to test if it would crash-land and break apart. But did it? Well, hell no! First attempt. When pushed off the ledge, it only floated, inching outward from a small push.”
“No way!” Captain Indalo couldn’t contain himself. “It basically behaved as an antigravity craft?”
“One could say that now couldn’t one,” General Tauring said.
Colonel Stevens could barely contain his own urge to exclaim in shock. But he waited to hear more, keeping focused to listen intently.
“Not only that, but the hull kept the Suburban gliding farther out, exhibiting Newton’s first, of course,” General Tauring continued, glancing at each of Colonel Stevens’ team members, the general’s gray eyes glistening with energy and a smidgen of disturbing, inappropriate delight. “But then it stopped, just like that. One of Colonel Jennings’ team members had to use the same robotic lift’s extension arm to bring it back to the ledge. And then the second attempt – pushed off the ledge again.” He leaned on the table once more, drawing closer, too close, to Colonel Stevens. “And get this. It didn’t float this time. No, quite the contrary. It shot straight down, very rapidly, and Jennings’ team thought for certain it would shatter to pieces. But, no, no, no. Always the rabble-rouser, the hull had it just barely touch the floor, and then slowly accelerate upwards, getting faster, until finally stopping on a dime right in front of the ledge.”
“It totally violated the normal kinetic and potential energy balance,” Colonel Stevens said. “That would have been quite the sight to see.”
“It was bizarre, sir,” Colonel Jennings said. “Rather disturbing, and frightening, mostly.”
“Yes, it would have been great to witness, any of these hull adventures. But unfortunately, no video was obtained. However, several of Jennings’ team members were able to get some computer calculations of these events, included in the report, so we do have some proof.” General Tauring clasped his hands together. He stared down, quiet, for some seconds. He looked up. “Lady and Gents. Some adjectives. Crafty. Extremely intelligent. Devious. Tricky. Sly. Mischievous. Powerful. Mysterious. Frightening. In fact, practically omniscient. And I could go on, especially with my last meeting’s conclusion, masters of illusion. What do my collective words remind you of?”
Captain Indalo didn’t wait a second, as if anticipating this moment for a long time previously. “A serial killer?”
“What?” Colonel Jennings said, disapproval suddenly contorting her pretty face. “The hull hasn’t hurt the people within it. And it’s doing a rather remarkable job of keeping them alive and healthy.”
Captain Indalo’s enthusiasm diminished and he leaned back in his chair.
He was off, but not by that much. “Yeah, but they’re living in debilitating fear,” Colonel Stevens told her, and then an important memory arose in his mind, probably from this conversation. He eyed General Tauring. “Sir. I want to point out something Captain Indalo noticed.”
“We find it odd that though the air space between Lang and Evan’s body surface and the hull itself is decreasing, the original measurements of the hull’s width are three quarters of an inch and for the original air space one and a half inches width. Strange. The hull is alien-based, yet those measurements resemble U.S. customary units.”
“Nah, I don’t think so.” General Tauring drew the report closer to his face. “I wouldn’t be too concerned. Most likely a mere coincidence.” He smiled. “So, the actual height for Lang is now sixty-two inches, or five feet two inches, and for Evan, we have fifty two point six inches. But with hull width and air space, Lang is actually sixty-five point six inches and Evan fifty-six point one inches. Amazing.”
After inhaling deeply, General Tauring let out a gushing exhale and looked at each person at the table. “So, in light of all of this, where do we go from here? The hull has shown us it is cunning, powerful, and most likely far beyond any capabilities we could ever muster. In our dimension…and yet not in our dimension.” He shook his head and smiled again. “Why even bother with us lowly humans? Ahh, but that’s our key. And brings me to my conclusion. As I stated earlier, since my superiors want us to assume the hull people are alive, though it appears we cannot break them free, our only hope is a reversal of the entire process that has placed the Turrones at their current state. And the only reversal means I see feasible, for both teams, is communication."
"With the EBEs behind the hull?" Colonel Jennings asked.
“Yes, precisely.” He gave her one of his direct, intimidating stares. “Colonel Jennings. Besides the requests I already stated, I want your team to undertake communication with the hull, using standard protocols for EBE communication attempts. But I also want your team to continue, by any means you deem necessary, attempts to break open the hull."
Her brow drew confused. “But, why sir? Isn’t it pointless? And even if we did, it could be very dangerous for all of us.”
"I believe…I believe the hull would never allow it. I can say with almost steadfast certainty that our two dimensions will never meet. Unless, of course, the hull reverses the process. But, attempts at destruction of the hull have an added caveat. Whatever attempts you undertake at destroying the hull, use a strategic ploy."
“For example. ‘We are going to place you and the Suburban in this antimatter chamber, just to prove how powerful and intelligent you are, since antimatter is meaningless and insignificant to you’.”
“But sir, wouldn’t the hull already know our intents, and therefore know this ploy beforehand?”
“Never underestimate pride in powerful entities. It is seductive, addictive, and ultimately a great distraction, and could just reveal a weakness…although, I’m not sure at this point what good such a weakness could present to us.” The general sighed and became quiet again, his eyes revealing a small trace of defeat. “But communication is key." He shifted his gaze to Colonel Stevens. “Communication is your main goal likewise, along with my other requests for you. But I do not suggest you use the strategic ploy. It could be far too stressful for the Turrones, and the others, once they arrive.”
Could the news be any worse?
In the pit of his abdomen Colonel Stevens felt a churning ache. "But sir. What do I tell Lang and Evan, then? They were really counting on a solution from tests with their Suburban.”
"I understand, Colonel. This is complicated. Whether the decrease events continue or not, I suppose we have to inform the Turrones that we cannot release them. Describe to them Colonel Jennings' reasoning on this. And emphasize that therefore we must try communication. Now, granted, as Christians, they might not be too keen on this, but remind them the hull is interacting with their minds already and this is the only means we can think of to help them.”
“But, sir…how to communicate with the hull, without upsetting them?” Colonel Stevens asked.
“As with Colonel Jennings, follow known procedures. Then again, maybe you should create some of your own, tailored to the Turrones’ sensitivities. And again, I request you have the laser experiment repeated, though I understand now it will be even more difficult to encourage it. And one more thing. I want you to place Lang and Evan in a dark room, to detect that orange glow. Could reveal something, for all we know.” He looked at Colonel Jennings. “You need to do this too, with the Suburban. See what you discover.”
She developed her curious face. “Good point, sir. We didn’t notice that orange glow with the Suburban in that closet, since we turned the closet’s light on immediately.”
“I see. And who knows? Maybe we’re just taking on the wrong attitude with this. Maybe the hull is just trying to show us an advanced spacesuit they developed, to see if we’re interested in buying it.”
Colonel Stevens smiled, and a few chuckles came from the others, but it did little to relieve the heaviness within his distraught soul.