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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 104: Kondor 77
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The process of getting him settled in was as efficient as it ever was in the army he remembered–which is to say that it was fouled up somewhere, but seemed to run smoothly anyway. He ultimately wound up with an apartment of his own, although it seemed they had to change what they were doing three times before they settled on that. It was thus about two hours before he was in the commander's office.
"Joseph Kondor, reporting as ordered, sir," he said.
"Sit down, Kondor. We're not as formal as all that. I'm the project supervisor; that puts me in charge of meetings, mostly. John Wendall is the name, but almost everyone here calls me Jack.
"We've been working on artificial gravity systems for about six years now, and we've made some headway with it. But your little gadget should push us forward quite a bit, according to what the research department says. They've already begun working on it, concentrating on the power supply as the place to start. You'll be working in that department. Dr. Peter Breyer is in charge there, but he'll probably assign one of his students to bring you up to speed. We gather you're a medical doctor, not a physics major; we will introduce you as such. If anyone asks why we assigned a medical doctor to a physics research unit, the answer will be that you have relevant experience in other classified projects.
"I've got a few papers for you to sign. You're down as a research scientist, first year–that puts you above a lot of people in the department, so don't say too much about it. Our top secret status allows us to assign tax I.D.'s to people which are aliases, so you'll get one of these. There is a security check being run on you, and it's going to come up all red flags, I'm sure, but we've already explained the situation. Obviously they aren't going to find anything about you, and that would normally suggest that you aren't who you say you are; but given that you say you're not from this world, not finding anything would actually corroborate your story."
Kondor signed his name to the papers, skimming through them quickly. They appeared to be pretty much what he expected, including a nondisclosure agreement, a release of records, and an employment contract. The salary would not pay for him to live at the Hendrick, but it was a very comfortable figure and he knew that government salaries were not generally negotiable.
"Let's get you down to meet Dr. Breyer, so you can get started."
Out of the office Jack led the way down a flight of stairs to a lab not much different from the one in which Kondor had first seen scriff experiments. It gave him a strange sense of belonging and not belonging. White lab coats seemed to be the dress of choice.
"Dr. Breyer, this is Dr. Kondor, whom I told you about."
Kondor extended his hand, and Dr. Breyer took it. "Call me Joe," Kondor said.
"And I'm Pete. Welcome aboard. I didn't realize you were military."
"Well, that's where I started. I find the fatigues comfortable–and in my travels sometimes useful. It's been longer than you could imagine since I was actually involved in active duty. I have since been through medical training and held some very strange jobs."
"We're glad to have you here. Jack was a bit vague about where you got this gadget that has us all in a tizzy. I was hoping you might clear it up some."
Kondor rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "I'm not sure that any explanation I could give would make much sense. But I think it's classified–not that I couldn't tell you, I'm sure, but that I couldn't just talk openly about it in the lab."
"Not a problem; we'll take the time later. Right now I'm told you need a lot of help getting up to speed on what we're doing. Bill Barski will be your immediate assistant in this. Bill?"
"Where do you want to start?"
Kondor turned to the new, younger, man. "Well, I know a little about electronics, but I think perhaps we should start with the freshman course there. I'd like to be caught up with everyone by the time we've figured out the power supply; I figure even if you work out that part without me, the rest is almost certainly going to build on it. I've probably got the math down pretty well, at least the basics, but we'll fill that in as we go."
"Sounds good to me. There's a conference room with a computer center over here. We should be able to work there effectively."
Thus Kondor started his new studies. Electronics was the first phase, but he also tackled physics in a way he had never done before. He was ahead of the curve already on chemistry and biology, thanks to his medical training, and although these fields were less important they did give him a lot of background which was helpful in grasping the new ideas. Of course, there were theories which he had heard by different names, as this world had different scientists discovering them, but he grasped them quickly enough.
Within days Dr. Breyer was asking him about the operation of the blaster; they were closing in on the power supply answers, and needed a better understanding of the gauges and controls to solve the rest. At least, he thought, they'll be able to charge it soon; then if I can learn to do that, I'll be a lot better off than I was. His explanations were said to be helpful, and he returned to his studies.
About the time he thought he understood all they had on electronics, Bill announced that he was needed in the lab. They were ready to fire the blaster.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #116: Character Missions. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: