Authors: Laurence E Dahners
An Ell Donsaii story # 12
Laurence E Dahners
Copyright 2014 Laurence E Dahners
Though this book
“stand alone” it will be
easier to understand if read as part of the series including
“Quicker (an Ell Donsaii story)”
“Smarter (an Ell Donsaii story #2)”
“Lieutenant (an Ell Donsaii story #3)”
“Rocket (an Ell Donsaii story #4)”
“Comet! (an Ell Donsaii story #5)”
“Tau Ceti (an Ell Donsaii story #6)”
“Habitats (an Ell Donsaii story #7)”
“Allotropes (an Ell Donsaii story #8)”
“Defiant (an Ell Donsaii story #9)”
“Wanted (an Ell Donsaii story #10)” and
“Rescue (an Ell Donsaii story #11)”
I have minimized repetition of explanations that would be redundant to the earlier books in order to provide a better reading experience for those of you who are reading the series.
This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.
Table of Contents
An unusually gifted quarterback, Allan Donsaii had been widely recognized to be startlingly strong and a phenomenally accurate passer. During his college career he finished two full seasons
interceptions and two games with 100 percent completions. Unfortunately, the pro teams never drafted him for fear that his size would allow him to be dominated by bigger opposing players.
Extraordinarily quick, Kristen Taylor captained her college soccer team and rarely played a game without a “steal.” Usually she had many.
Allan and Kristen dated more and more seriously throughout college and married at the end of their senior year. Their friends teased them that they were only marrying so that they could start their own sports dynasty.
Their daughter Ell had Kristen’s quickness, magnified by Allan’s strength and highly accurate coordination. The child
had a new mutation affecting the myelin sheaths surrounding her nerves. This mutation produced nerve transmission speeds that nearly doubled those of normal neurons. With faster nerve impulse transmission, she had
quicker reflexes. Yet her new type of myelin sheath was also thinner, allowing more axons, and therefore more neurons, to be packed into the same sized skull. These two factors resulted in a brain which had more neurons, though it wasn’t larger,
a faster processing speed, akin to a computer with a smaller, faster CPU architecture.
Most importantly, under the influence of adrenalin in a “fight or flight” situation, her nerves transmitted even more rapidly than their normally remarkable speed.
Washington D.C.—The FBI has removed Ell Donsaii from its most wanted list. It is not completely clear what has led to this change, however, the Ementhal committee’s loss of credibility after journalistic investigations probably had something to do with it. Without Ementhal constantly demanding control of Donsaii’s interstellar technology, the amount of rhetoric about the danger she represents has certainly diminished. The other basis of her original arrest—the argument that her technology is dangerous—would seem to still be a concern, if it ever was.
Rumor has it that Donsaii was involved in the rescue of President Stockton after her kidnapping by the SCDF. There is no evidence that this is the case, no reports of such help from the White House or FBI, nor has Donsaii herself made any claims that she provided aid. However, one could imagine that if she did provide significant assistance to the rescue efforts, that it might have influenced Stockton, who after all had been the main driving force behind her arrest and persecution.
In any case, the press is out in force at D5R and at Donsaii’s home, in hopes that she will make a comment.
Shan stepped into the kitchen and found Ell there, eating a bowl of granola with sliced banana. He looked around, then said, “Where’s the Buddha?”
“He was watching a vid. I dressed him up and sent him out to play with Tanner. If it weren’t for that dog, I swear he’d never move.”
“You look like you’re in a particularly good mood. What’s up?”
“Hmmm, it seems like a certain someone is off the FBI’s most wanted list. I got a call from Sheila Rhodes, Deputy Director of the FBI. As near as I can tell the Deputy Director is often the person who really gets things done, while the actual Director is frequently a political appointee and figurehead. She said that all charges had also been dropped against you and my security team too. I got a message from our attorney, Victoria Nis, saying the same thing.”
Shan raised a hand and they gave each other a high five. “That’s great news!”
Ell gave him a serious look, “So we have some thinking to do.”
Shan frowned, “About what?”
She shrugged, “Do we try to go back to our old life as Raquel Blandon and Shan Kinrais? That way you could go back to work at the University and we could live closer to our jobs. Or do we keep hiding down here in Pittsboro? Some kind of compromise between the two? What’s best for Zage? It’s a pretty daunting set of choices.”
“How could we possibly go back to Raquel and Shan?! The FBI has surely outed those identities since they tried to arrest us.”
“That worries me… but Rhodes said that the FBI never released anything to do with our identities.”
Shan drew his head back doubtfully, “And you trust her?”
Ell grinned, “Not really, but I had Allan search the net for any linking of Ell to Raquel or Shan. He couldn’t find it. Well, of course, there is the paper that Ell and Shan wrote together and other items like that, but nothing suggesting that Raquel and Ell are the same person or that Shan is married to Ell.”
“Well,” Shan shrugged, “if Allan can’t find it, I’m sure no one can.” After a pause to think he said, “I guess that means we do have the option. I surely never thought we would, but if we do, I think I’d like to be ‘Shan and Raquel’ again. What are you thinking?”
“I’d like to be Shan and Raquel again too…” she sighed, “but there are lots of problems.”
“What if Stockton changes her mind? What do we tell Zage about why everybody’s names are different, including
? If we move back into our old neighborhood, what do we tell all the neighbors about what happened to us?” She sighed dramatically, “And worst of all… I just got my own lab set up the way I want it here in Pittsboro! I don’t wanna move all my stuff?!”
Shan threw his head back and laughed. When he got the mirth in control, he said, “You… you are the richest person in the world! Hire someone to move your stuff! Or buy new.”
“If I hire some movers, it’s hardly going to be a secret lab anymore!”
“Well, that’s true. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a research assistant for your private lab? If so, couldn’t you hire someone that you trust? Then have them order all new stuff and set it up for you.” He rubbed his chin in thought, “Keep the lab down here in Pittsboro as your ‘spare’ in case Stockton
give you trouble.”
Ell frowned and chewed her lip, “Well, maybe that could work. It
be nice to have some help sometimes. But that still leaves the questions of where we’re going to live and what we’re going to tell Zage?”
“Zage keeps his first name. He’s barely two, I’m not even sure he knows he has a last name yet.”
“I don’t know. After the way he went from not talking at all as if he were…” Ell frowned, not wanting to say what she’d thought about his intelligence, “and now talking all the time…!”
it’s not all that bizarre for really smart people to start talking late, but then begin by using complete sentences.”
“But I swear Shan, a lot of the time he sounds like an adult!”
“Maybe he’s really,
Ell shrugged, “Well, I hope so too. But that’s my point, what if he wonders about his last name?”
“If he even knows he has a last name, and I don’t think that’s something he’s interested in, he surely has no idea that it would be unusual for his last name to change?”
Ell looked up at the ceiling for a moment, then shrugged acquiescence on that point. “And where do we live?”
“Somewhere new, but still near Ell’s farm so you can run a tunnel between the two. The security guys can move back into their old houses. Tell the neighbors they were all in Witness Protection for a little while.”
Pedro Fernandez gave a command to his AI and twenty-five dime bags of heroin poured out the 2 inch port in his hand to fall into the big bowl on his table. His brother in Chihuahua would refill the 2 inch PVC pipe that was suspended over the other end of the port. That way Pedro could get more whenever he needed it.
Pedro turned to his local dealers Vincent and Alejandro. He gave fifteen bags to Vincent and ten to the Alejandro. Pedro never held product himself. Before he could remind them of what they owed, he was stopped by a knock on the door. It wasn’t the approved three and one knock.
Probably that stupid woman in the room next door
, he thought. He stood and pulled out his Glock.
His two dealers armed themselves as well and went to stand on each side of the door. Pedro stood a little to the hinge side then leaned to look through the peephole
. Damned hotel, too cheap to have door AIs.
A man stood there in a brimmed hat and trench coat of all things. He was holding a badge in front of the peephole which blocked Pedro from seeing his face.
I guess I’ve stayed in this shit hole a little too long,
Pedro thought to himself. He felt a little surprise at the cop, standing right in front of the door like that. And all by himself too, must be a rookie.
Pedro turned to Vincent and said, “Time to move my base to a new location I guess.”
Pedro took another look to estimate the position of the cop’s head—it wouldn’t do to shoot him in a bulletproof vest after all—then he stepped back, extended the Glock, and emptied its clip through the door into the area of the man’s head.
Putting another clip in his pistol, he saw something protrude through the hole he’d just blown in the door!
Then it fired and Pedro spasmed. As he felt himself falling he wondered,
How the hell did I miss that bastard?!
Seconds later his two dealers fell to the floor near him. He heard a ripping sound as the door was forced open and a moment later he found himself looking up at one of those damned waldoes they used on construction sites. There were scratches on its mechanical face, the brimmed hat was ripped askew, and one of the cameras that served it as eyes looked to be broken.
I guess I hit it after all,
he thought as it clipped plasticuffs on him.
When did the cops start using waldoes?
Phil glanced over at Carol as the acceleration eased off. They had nearly reached the 22 km/s speed limit for their Mars Transfer Vehicle. She was holding the female goat while Phil tried to calm the male. The two goats got really distressed when they were weightless.
During the forty minute boost to 22 km/s at 1G the goats had seemed almost ecstatic to be back on their hooves again. As their weight faded away, the female started bleating and the male thrashed about. They had strapped the billy goat down hoping that the restraint would comfort and calm him, but it didn’t seem to have worked.
After about ten minutes the two goats had calmed and looked somewhat resigned to their weightless state again. That was less time than it had taken them when they first became weightless going into orbit, so perhaps they were getting used to it. Phil and Carol went to check on the chickens. Fortunately chickens seemed to tolerate weightlessness much better than goats did.
Phil’s AI spoke in his ear, “You have a call from Major Epstein.” Epstein was in the command capsule of the MTV.
Phil said, “Yes Major?”
“You guys doing okay back there?”
“The goats had conniptions when we went weightless again, but the chickens are fine. Any problems with our burn?”
“No, we’re close enough to spot on track that the AI says it will be able to correct any minor errors that show up even while keeping spin on the MTV. We’re going to go ahead and flip the command capsule. You ready to check your side?”
“Yes sir.” Phil told Carol what was going on and moved to the end of their “farm module” of the MTV. Per his AI’s checklist, he looked to be sure the airlock was fully sealed and locked between the farm section and the connecting tunnel. He could feel and hear the clanking and clunking of the command module disconnecting from its end of the tunnel then turning over and reconnecting. It took about twenty minutes for it to turn over so that its upper side was now facing towards the top side of the farm module with the connecting tunnel again attached to both of them.
“Okay,” Maj. Epstein said, “we reconnected and have no leaks on our side. Go ahead and check your side.”
Phil went over his checklist, rechecking each step. The tunnel itself showed no leak from his side so he opened the airlock door a crack into the tunnel. There was no airflow, which confirmed a good seal. “Everything’s airtight here, Major.”
“Okay, close your airlock again and we’ll put a little spin on this puppy.”
A short beep on the acceleration alarm warned everybody to grab hold. Then a gentle push sideways could be felt as the command and farm modules were started rotating around one another. The amount of spin was very gentle and could only be felt as a very slight pull down towards the floor of the farm module by the time the major came back on the general comm, “Okay we’re going to start lengthening the tunnel. You’ll all feel some bumps.”
They had already practiced this a couple of times while in low Earth orbit so there weren’t any surprises as the command module and farm module began stretching out the collapsed Kevlar tube that connected them. Phil watched the creases in the tunnel gradually extend on his HUD as a set of motors lengthened the graphene straps that held the two modules together.
Eventually the two modules were 250 meters apart and they stopped separating. The acceleration alarms beeped again and jets began to spin the modules around one another at a gradually accelerating pace. Inside the farm module, Phil, Carol and the goats felt gradually increasing pseudo-gravity from the centrifugal force of the spinning. It took about an hour to get up to the full one third gravity that they would maintain during the forty day journey to Mars.
Once they were up to their full rotation, the crew ran another checklist to make sure there weren’t any problems. They found one tiny leak in the connecting tunnel and patched it. Next, ports were opened to fill the Kevlar balloons surrounding the two modules with a three-meter layer of water that would provide radiation protection to the crew.
The crew settled in for a cramped forty days in transit. At least running the waldoes that were building the Mars habitat while they were traveling should stave off some of the boredom…
Dressed as Elsa Gardon, Ell stepped through a hidden door at the back of her basement lab at the farm in Pittsboro. There was a bathroom behind the door where she stopped to make her change. Deflating her cheek prostheses, she stepped up to the mirrors and used a specially-treated wet wipe to remove her darker skin color. She put on a strawberry blond wig that she’d had made from her own hair. She checked to be sure it covered all of her own hair—brunette now that she was coloring her hair to be “Elsa” for Zage.
After carefully checking her appearance in the multiple mirrors of the bathroom to be sure she looked like Ell from all angles, she started down a narrow hallway to the main tunnel passing under the barn on Elsa Gardon’s little farm in Pittsboro. She opened the door into the 18 foot wide by 18 foot tall dome shaped tunnel which had been melted by AJ and Carter’s Martian tunneler on its test run last year. The guys had programmed the test tunnel loop to go northwest, but Ell had Allan insert a completely different routine into their program. Instead of going where the guys thought it did, it left the grounds of the D5R facility in Research Triangle Park and turned west to pass directly under Ell’s little farm in the southeastern part of Chapel Hill. From there it went southwest to pass under Elsa Gardon’s farm in Pittsboro then looped back to run straight up to the D5R facility.