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Darklight 1 - The Substance of Shadows
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-571-1
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 346 Pages
Published: April 2008



From inside the flap

In the aftermath of the Second American Civil War, civilization collapses throughout the world. A Planetary Government (known as the PLAG) – an elite hegemony of crafty bureaucrats who survived the evil times – reestablishes what the rulers call “civilization.” Having gained absolute control over the lives of the powerless masses, the bureaucratic overlords wield that power ruthlessly.

A young mathematician, Isaac “Crash” Tyson, presents proofs of his Reactive Mathematics Theory to the World Science Council, in the hope of obtaining funding for testing his theory and devising applications. This esoteric theory predicts that a Spatial Exclusion Wave can be generated: a wave that would effectively exclude normal space from within the generated wave field. This wave would, in essence, create a non-spatial dimension within normal space. The applications of this field Crash knows will be of mind-boggling importance.

P-Quan, the Planetary Governor of Earth, approves the funding but sets the stage for a PLAG takeover of the results of the test. Crash assembles a team, headed by himself, Nessid “Nessi”Laffued, as Director of Computer and Sensory Retrieval, Dr. Lynn Meisheil as Director of Construction and Operations, and Sergeant Major Decker “DP” Payne, Chief of Security. These core staff-members assemble their teams. The tightly knit group of experts builds a spatial exclusion generator and produces a spatial exclusion wave. Placing no trust whatsoever in P-Quan, Lynn, DP and Nessi arrange matters so that the World Science Council (WSG) receives spurious data from the project. The test, which causes a cataclysmic upheaval at the test site, produces results that puzzle Crash. Attacked by PLAG forces, the group mounts a vigorous defense, but Lynn gets captured and delivered to P-Quan.

Unknown to Crash, and indeed to all of the inhabitants of Earth, P-Quan is not human. A Maen underling who serves the Luin, the oldest and most advanced species within the hierarchy of those who rule the Cren Empire, P-Quan decides to use Lynn as bait to bring Crash out of hiding, and into his presence. Contemptuously regarding Crash as a “Prim” – a member of the primitive species indigenous to Earth – P-Quan fully expects to acquire the new technology and to wield the stupendous power it will confer.

Having discovered that the SEG did indeed create a spatial exclusion wave, Crash harnesses this awesome new technology to create a fleet of unique ships. Thus begins the epic struggle waged by Crash and his followers against the alien forces arrayed against them. Having begun by rescuing Lynn from P-Quan and Zern, a Luin science officer, Crash and his followers take on the PLAG, the Maen, Zern, and even the Morcor: a species of vicious, hitherto unbeatable, wholly formidable warriors employed by the Maen. Woefully outnumbered, Crash’s fleet eventually battles a mighty armada, and escapes annihilation only because Crash’s nimble mind conceives of daring new applications of his theory that can be used as offensive weapons.

Darklight 1 - The Substance of Shadows (Excerpt)


Chapter One

Isaac "Crash" Tyson finished tightening the ladigo on his saddle as he prepared for his long overdue pack trip into the mountains. The next few days of solitude would be but a prelude to the biggest day of his life thus far. A million divergent thoughts raced through his mind: thoughts which, to a normal person, would seem completely unrelated and not relevant to much of anything. He realized, however, that these divergent thoughts all fit into the final rendition of his concept of Reactive Mathematics. Positive that his discovery would revolutionize physics, he could scarcely contain his eagerness to explain his views to the scientific community. His lifelong desire to achieve a complete, cohesive understanding of this esoteric mathematical concept had finally culminated into a single equation. That equation he could prove correct beyond a shadow of doubt, to anyone interested in such things.

As he mounted his horse, his excitement grew as he contemplated that not-too-distant expectation. After double-checking to make certain that all of his gear was in order, he headed out. It was a good day for a ride.

The terrain rose quickly and soon became very steep and rocky. Crash’s horse gingerly picked his way through the sharp protruding rocks that abounded in the trail. As they gained altitude, Crash’s horse would occasionally stop and appear to gaze at the valley far below. It had always fascinated Crash to wonder what a horse thought at times like this. Was he appreciating the beauty of the scenery, looking for something to eat, or just trying to find the shortest way back home? The fact that a horse could act so intelligently one minute and so damn stupidly the remained a mystery. In any case, those questions could not be answered today, and Crash had to hurry to reach the campsite before dark.

As Crash and his horse continued to move up the trail, the majestic peaks, the steeply rolling foothills, and the numerous small intermingling lakes projected a tranquil power that soothed his spirit, which had been bruised by the harsh realities of the world. Ever since the end of America’s Second Civil War, one did not recklessly squander one’s peace of mind. That quality had become a very rare commodity that one deeply appreciated. Crash absorbed this experience to its fullest, cherishing every second.

After a strenuous but enjoyable eight-hour ride, Crash reached his favorite place in the entire world. Located near the base of a towering mountain, which rose three thousand feet above the surrounding basin, his campsite enjoyed the protection of groves of dense trees. Those sheltered it from all but the most extreme weather conditions. A series of small lakes and intermingling streams partially filled the floor of the basin, which made for good fishing and provided plenty of fresh drinking water. During the calm of night, the moonlight often turned these lakes into giant reflecting ponds of exquisite beauty.

Darkness filled the sky by the time Crash finished setting up camp. He started a small fire that gave him just enough heat to cook by and light to see the nearby surroundings. After he finished eating a delicious steak, Crash sat against his favorite boulder and watched the moon rise through the three towering spires of the mountain. As the orb rose higher, moonbeams reflected off the granite walls of the canyon, casting multiple shadows and silhouettes upon one another. One’s imagination could create all kinds of visions out of this surreal experience. Some of these visions were abstractly beautiful, and some could be terrifying to the core of one’s soul. In any case, the experience provided a definite change of pace. Only at times like this could Crash approach an emotional state that could remotely resemble relaxation. At all other times, his mind focused sharply on what he considered his natural state of "serious" thought.

During this time of human history, Crash believed, serious thought had become a lost luxury of the past. Since the end of the Second American Civil War, the world had changed dramatically. The post-war breakup of the United States created such a power vacuum that the worldwide industrialized civilization that had existed prior to the war quickly collapsed. The emerging Planetary Government picked up the pieces out of the shambles that prevailed at the war’s end, and attempted to reestablished human civilization with its own vision: one defined by the controlling bureaucrats who had survived the evil times. Once this government became firmly established, it quickly became known to the common man as the "PLAG."

The autocratic control that evolved quickly stifled or repressed many of the individual freedoms that were so ill-appreciated by the previous society. The regimentation of thought and expression created a tranquil society: one of little value as far as Crash was concerned. To introduce an entirely new concept of science and mathematics, as he was about to do, would be greatly frowned upon by the self-anointed intellectuals: the group that Crash privately referred to as "the anti-intellectual establishment."

In Crash’s opinion, this episode of human history should never have occurred. At the end of the twentieth century, American society had withered, owing to the loss of moral purpose. The universal application of political correctness to every aspect of life and culture caused stagnation. This great mistake resulted in the acceleration of the shallow trivializing process of purposeless decision at every level of society. Most individuals had believed that the exertion of one’s free will was a natural right. The society at large now came to believe that any intrusion on that right, no matter how trivial, was caused by one prejudicial phobia or another. The actual morality of any issue, if brought up in a discussion, soon became defined as intolerance.

The citizens eventually forfeited all of their goals for the childish illusions of comfort, security and meaningless diversions. Jobs became scarce as corporations increasingly moved to third world countries for cheaper and better-educated labor. Corporations turned their backs on the very societies that had spawned them and had allowed them to develop and flourish. As sales dropped in the developed countries, more and more jobs were lost. The selfish tunnel vision not only of the governmental bureaucracies, but also of business and of various radical special interest groups, strangled the once mightiest of economic engines.

Hunger and starvation became rampant. Massive riots broke out in America and eventually spread worldwide. Under the pretense of maintaining order, the government declared martial law and suspended all Constitutional law. If the government had not suspended the Bill Of Rights, the Civil War might have been avoided. When the bureaucrats attempted to enforce aggressive cancellation of the Second Amendment, all hell broke loose.

The ensuing war cost the lives of over sixty two million people in America alone. At the end of the war, the United States broke into three new, distinct countries. The states on both coastlines became separated from the heartland. The east and west coasts ended up being what they had aspired to become: a politically correct socialist utopia pure in thought and deed. Even as their citizens slowly starved to death, millions of the starving were executed for scrounging, hoarding, or stealing food. After a while, their elitist righteousness became much less important to them. By that time, however, it was much too late to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

The middle of the country remained intact. After all, they had most of the food. The large cities on the coasts, which were so dependant on the flyover country for the necessities of life, didn’t have sufficient means to sustain their larger populations. The rednecks also proved much harder to herd up so that they could be shot by the PLAG peacekeepers. They shot back. In the end, however, millions upon millions of foreign PLAG troops overwhelmed them. Those remaining patriots paid a very heavy price.


***

Crash slept lightly that night and awakened before the crack of dawn. He planned to climb the mountain’s northern spire this time. The northern spire, one of the most difficult peaks to climb, rose 2,246 feet from its base to the top of the spire. It would take a good two hours of hard walking to reach the base of the mountain. Then he could begin his ascent. Many large rocky outcrops and several boulder-strewn lakes had to be navigated before he reached the wall.

The wall, a small cliff about two hundred feet high, looked as if someone had cut it out of the mountain with a sharp knife. At nearly ninety degrees, the rocky surface appeared smooth as silk. In many ways it was one of the more difficult aspects of the climb. Crash had climbed this obstacle many times in the past, so it took him only twenty minutes to reach the top of the shelf. Once on top, he had only a short distance to travel to the base of the mountain.

Crash did not climb mountains. He attacked and devoured them. This trait, a basic characteristic of his psyche, had characterized him since his childhood. In fact, while he was in college, this dominant trait, more than anything else, had earned him his nickname: Crash. Whenever confronted with a problem or situation, he would hit it head-on at full speed. He never professed the slightest regret over his actions. Unbeknownst to most observers, however, Crash carefully considered every action he had ever taken prior to its implementation, in the few microseconds between recognition and decision. This fundamental aspect of his nature molded his personality today as much as it had in the past.

As he stood at the mountain’s base, he admired it for all that it was, and simply that it was. For sixty million years, it had stood there in all its majesty. In another sixty million years it would still be there, alone in its solitude, never once requiring assistance or intervention. There were times during his periods of abstract thought when Crash almost became jealous of an inanimate object possessing that much solitude and independence.

During this time of introspection, Crash had become deeply lost in a reverie. Without conscious thought, he had squared away all of his climbing gear. The time for his ascent now arrived. As he climbed ever higher on the face of the spire, his adrenaline kicked in, and he pushed himself harder. Very few people could even climb this spire, and almost no one could climb it in less than eight hours. Most of the chocks and pitons were already in place from past climbs, but in certain places some of those aids were missing or broken. Even the existing ones had to be checked and verified for integrity before they could be safely used. The idea of climbing this vertical distance on ropes in less than eight hours intimidated even the best climbers, but Crash lived for such challenges.

The northern route required Crash to traverse three difficult overhangs and one roof with a negative pitch in order to get to the top. Most climbers knew the most difficult of these as "The Club-Foot." Its profile resembled that of an extremely distorted foot, which obviously gave rise to the name. Crash often thought that if you were to set a football next to a concrete wall and kick the ball as hard as you could, your foot could then be used as a scaled-down model of this structure. Its contours were a real mess.

With some difficulty, he worked his way out and along the overhanging edge and up the last remaining vertical climb. Only thirty minutes remained, now, before he would reach the top, and the light began its slow fade toward darkness. He accelerated his already aggressive pace, and just as the sun touched the horizon, he reached the top. As he lay there prone, in a state of exhaustion, Crash told himself that this was a great way to get above it all. For a brief second, though, he became a bit unsure as to whether the pain was worth the bliss.

After a moment’s rest, he sat up and watched the shadows created by the setting sun slowly dance from mountain peak to mountain peak, finally reaching out and merging with the infinite darkness of space. The silent union of these two abstract entities, engulfed in nothingness, never ceased to captivate him. At that very instant, he realized that infinity did not exist solely at the outer fringes of the universe. It existed right here where he stood, just as he did this very moment. As a young boy, he had asked himself if the sum of two zeros was more than that of a single zero. After all, he thought, mankind described three-dimensional space from a series of arbitrary dimensionless positions. Sitting there on top of the mountain and observing the merger of shadow and darkness, Crash realized with a most profound understanding that in fact, the answer was yes. More of nothing was, in an abstract sense, more. Gradually the raw beauty of the place overpowered him, and his doubts disappeared. He smiled to himself. Deep down, he knew that his effort was more than worth it. Indeed, it was satisfaction made manifest.

Crash set up his featherweight tent and secured it tightly to the solid rock surface of the spire. The total area at the top of the spire measured less than a hundred square feet. A strong wind could become quite dangerous. Once he secured all of his gear, he sat back and relaxed for a few moments.

As always, Crash’s thoughts retreated into the core of his mind. He planned to spend the night preparing his brain for his upcoming presentation to the World Science Council. Although he knew that the members would interpret his theoretical work in Reactive Mathematics as extremely controversial, he felt confident that he could defend its major premise. If he was correct, and he knew he was, he would open up entirely new visions of reality to mankind. He knew, however, that the director of the World Science Council, Professor P-Quan, would strongly oppose his ideas as rash, brash, frivolously off base and completely out of step with mainstream thought.

Basic Reactive Mathematics Theory attempted to describe the interface between the numerical structure and that of the physical force structure of the universe, or as some called it, reality. In all of human history, mankind had assumed that the number line was a separate and distinct reality, unaffected by any and all of the existing forces within the universe. Crash did not accept this assumption as valid. How could the number line at the center of a black hole be equivalent to one existing in the intergalactic void? Or, for that matter, to one positioned on the leading edge of the spatial expansion shock wave of the universe? Even in his youth, Crash had felt that many of the discrepancies of physics and cosmology were the result of the separation and isolation of mathematics from physical reality.

In his mind, this matter boiled down to one question. Did the numerical structure exist inside or outside of the totality of reality? If it existed on the outside of the universe, how could it be relevant to the matter/energy/space/time/gravity conglomerate that forms the basic physical structure of the universe as we know it? If it existed on the inside, how could it function and be unaffected by those same qualities and conditions? Or did it exist in an entirely different dimension, and only fleetingly filter down to our space-time matrix? The acceptance of an expansion upon the limitations of Einsteinian-based physics would be a hard sell.

Crash had completed all of the computer studies and proofs. They all worked. The theory pointed directly to a redefinition of our concept of space and its interaction with the matter/energy relationship. Normal space could be described in one dimension instead of three. Time became a "property" of the matter-energy interaction with the other fundamental forces and the spatial field itself. The spatial field energy became the most basic of all forces and the springboard upon which all matter-energy based reality was generated.

It was not, however, the most basic aspect of what could be called the universality of unqualified absolute reality. Or more simply put: the totality of all possibilities. Crash had become convinced that there was something much more basic at work regarding the larger questions, but at this time his work had not yet progressed into that realm to any definitive degree. However, there were more than enough applications with the work he had already completed to keep him busy for the rest of his life. This additional aspect of the overall theory would have to wait until later.

The most exciting aspect of his work pointed to the possibility of generating a Spatial Exclusion Wave that would effectively exclude normal space from within the generated wave field. This would, in essence, create a non-spatial dimension within normal space. The applications of this field he knew would be of mind-boggling importance.

Crash thought of various ways he could approach the WSC for future funding. While he weighed the merits of each approach, a loud swishing noise suddenly broke in upon his concentration. Startled, he automatically followed the sound. His eyes caught a golden eagle’s predatory dive, as the predator zeroed onto an unsuspecting mallard duck. As it dove onto its prey, the eagle drew its wings back. Just before it struck the duck with the full force of its dive, it extended its talons straight out in front of its body.

At the last possible instant, the duck must have sensed the impending attack, because it made an extremely hard turn to the left. However, this tactic did not save it. As the eagle hit, feathers flew, and both birds, for an instant, tumbled out of control. Crash could hear the prey’s last fear-filled quack as the predator’s talons drove home. The whole event ended as quickly as it had begun, and the eagle ended its day with a full stomach.

From his God’s eye vantage point, Crash thought that there must be some kind of lesson in all of this, but he could not say what that lesson might be. Little did he know at the time how close to the truth that thought was. He decided to think about it at length some other time.

As Crash reoriented himself, he noticed that the sun had risen rather high in the sky. He checked his timepiece. To his astonishment, he saw that it was nearly10:00 A.M. Without realizing it, he had thought his way through the entire night. He did that sort of thing quite often. Crash’s power of concentration formed one of the things that made him unique as compared to the average person. His abilities were tied directly to this uniqueness.


***

By any measurable standard, the building housing the Headquarters of the World Science Council could impress even the dimmest critic. A combination of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Modern Geodesic architecture dominated its basic design. Massive pyramids supported the large Roman arches within the symmetrical curvature of the Geodesic influence, creating a uniquely artistic statement of man’s rise from ignorance to that of master of all knowledge. At the very top of the structure, force fields generated within the three highest central spires helped suspend the large spinning sphere positioned between them. At night a beautiful, deeply violet glow radiated from the top of these spires, giving the sphere an unEarthly appearance. People traveled from all over the world just to experience the structure’s magnificent grandeur.

As Crash entered the building, a doorman approached and introduced himself. "Good morning, sir. I am Armoni Nomi. May I see your identification, please?"

Crash presented his ID and his acceptance letter from Dr. P-Quan, Chairman of the WSC.

"Yes, Dr. Tyson, we’ve been expecting you," Armoni grumbled, exhibiting typical bureaucratic indifference. "Your dissertation will be held in Room 632, Sub-level 6. Would you be so kind as to follow me, please?"

"Yes, of course," Crash replied. He had to admit that he had an uneasy feeling as he followed the doorman. He noticed that this fellow Armoni had sort of an odd nature. He couldn’t quite say what it was, however. Must just be nerves, he thought. Nevertheless, he followed behind him as if he were a puppy let out of his cage for the first time.

Crash had dreamed of this day since childhood. All of the hours spent reading and thinking and pondering the most fundamental unanswered questions finally came to fruition today. He was finally here. His time had come, and he knew he had to make the most of this opportunity. He would never again get another chance to prove the validity of his theories.

As he passed wide-eyed through myriads of rotundas, hallways and escalators, he grew aware of the excessively lavish appointments of the building. Everything from the marble and granite flooring to the draperies exhibited lavish uniqueness. The polished white marble flooring tiles alternated with highly polished granite slabs. Huge handmade Persian and Afghan wall hangings covered the walls and partitions. The furniture, constructed from the most exotic woods, leathers, and fabrics, would make any monarch jealous. The opulent display of many of the oldest antiques on the planet caused many an art enthusiast to drool on beholding their timeless grandeur.

Many of the greatest historical artworks from all of Earth’s cultures displayed the ever-changing form of art. Countless ancient ceramic artifacts adorned the place. Man’s greatest technological and scientific achievements clearly demonstrated man’s continual evolutionary progress. If it had been done, you could find it here. The first automobile, the first airplane, the first computer, the first genetically engineered virus, the first computer-mind interface, and a thousand other first-of-a-kind items were displayed. All of these artifacts truly represented an historical representation of man’s growth. The internal appointments of the WSC’s headquarters, priceless by any standard, also clearly exhibited the excessive self-indulgence characterizing the current government of the people.

As Crash followed the doorman and beheld the excessive opulence of the place, he thought wryly, I could buy enough equipment and perform all of the necessary testing myself with what they spent on just the furniture in this place.

Finally, after forty-five minutes of walking and undergoing numerous security checks, the doorman led Crash into Room 632 of Sub-level 6. As he entered the room, a curious thought crossed his mind. This place had to be a bureaucrat’s definition of perfection. You could stay lost all day just going to lunch. Smiling to himself, he experienced internal amusement at the irony.

"Please take a seat. You will be summoned when it is your turn to present your application," the doorman said. Having acknowledged this directive with a nod, Crash sat down. He suddenly felt uneasy, as the doorman stared at him while making brief but deliberate eye contact.

Why would a doorman give me the once-over? he wondered. After a few seconds of thoughtful reflection, he decided that the doorman probably doubled as a security agent and just checked him out for any covert psychological tendencies. During these days of unrest, one can’t be too careful, he silently admitted.

As Dr. P-Quan and the other members of the governing tribunal entered the presentation chamber, they noticed that the audience booth had become full, with standing room only. Their "interrogation table," as it was known in scientific circles - a platform raised a significant height above the floor - gave the board members a psychological advantage over the prospective recipients of their grant money.

The Lord knows the tribunal didn’t need any assistance in ego-appreciation, Crash thought sardonically.

Dr. P-Quan possessed an infamous reputation for subjecting prospective applicants to the most rigorous and detailed questioning. Many felt that he emotionally and intellectually intimidated every applicant, and deliberately crushed them into total subjugation to his view. Most if not all of the projects receiving WSC funding were subjected to oppressive control by the government. This in turn led to large increases in the operating costs and to the eventual failure of most projects. In the opinion of most researchers, this was a sad state of affairs. However, without WSC funding, most of the new research projects would never get off the drawing boards. The WSC, being the primary intellectual arm of the People’s Planetary Government, had to demonstrate its domination and control at every level of existence. Their paranoia demanded control, at even the most insignificant levels of life.

The other members of the board were just as ruthless as P-Quan himself. Dr. Nigel Kurt, Vice Chairman, took a much different approach to achieve the same ends. He would vote to let most projects proceed unimpeded until some significantly viable results became evident. Then, out of the blue, he would impose endless documentation and verification requirements. All of the data from the project would be required to go through his office from that point on. Invariably, progress would slow to a crawl, and the funding would be cancelled. The remaining research would then be finished under his direction in some secret WSC laboratory. If any positive results were obtained, Dr. Kurt would take credit for the discovery and reap the rewards. This technique allowed him to build his reputation as the world’s greatest scientist. It may also be the reason he kept at least one bodyguard with him at all times.

The fame of Professor Helosas, the third member of the governing tribunal, preceded him. To characterize him as the professionally perfect bureaucrat would be a profound understatement. To put his nature in perspective, one could say the following: at the end of all the projects he managed, everyone personally knew everyone else who worked on the project, but no one knew exactly what anyone’s job entailed. All involved could, however, document the fact that they did know everyone. It has been said that Professor Helosas owned a large share of a paper mill somewhere in northern Canada, but no one knew for sure.

As Crash awaited his turn to run the gauntlet, he occupied himself by going over his notes for the presentation. Having decided that he could do nothing more to prepare himself, he sat back and watched the proceedings unfold before him.

The applicants began giving their presentations. All of Crash’s predecessors ended up squirming in sweat-soaked disarray as they attempted to explain their ideas. Even if they managed successfully to explain their concepts, they found it all but impossible to convince the three judges that their concepts would result in any possible benefits to mankind. A more effective way to explain the benefits that might befall mankind would undoubtedly have been to explain how their project would benefit the WSC and the PLAG.

The difficulty inherent in the formal presentations did not hold a candle to that characterizing the tribunals’ follow-up questions. The questions were merciless. The slightest mistake or inconsistency would spell instant rejection. Several of the applicants became so intimidated and humiliated that they simply got up and left, right in the middle of their presentations. Only one of the first nine projects received a favorable review. As the lucky winner passed by Crash, he looked as if he had survived the detonation of a nuclear bomb directly above his head. Crash heard him mumbling something to the effect that, "I don’t understand why they don’t understand. I don’t understand why I don’t know why." Even being a winner carried its price. As Crash curiously accessed the apparent well-being of the lucky applicant, somewhere in the back of his mind he heard his name being called out. "Isaac Tyson. Dr. Isaac Tyson, please step forward."

Crash instantly gathered himself at the sound of his name. This is it, he thought. I will never again get a chance like this.

As Crash approached the podium, he smiled at the panel members and introduced himself. Without any fanfare, he went directly into a detailed dissertation of his Static Point Number Theory, which was the basis of his General Reactive Mathematics Theory. He explained the function and applications of his ideas as simply as possible. Instead of looking at space as curved or flat, he preferred to look at it as being in various states of compression and decompression. Light, instead of following curved space, was being continually reflected, re-refracted, and affected by its interactions, not only with the universal gravitational field and its resulting compression of the universal spatial field, but also with gravitational point loads of high mass objects within the conglomerate mass of the universe itself.

He also assumed that the numerical structure itself, being the number line, was integrally bound and influenced by these same forces. In other words, the value of each integer along the number line became relative to the local conditions of application. One of the results of his theory enabled him to predict that one could, from a certain point of view, look upon the conventional view of space-time as one single unified dimension instead of four entangled ones. Thus, space-time becomes a singular reactive force influencing all of the properties of everything existing within it.

As Crash finished his statement and looked up at the Tribunal, he realized that he had not been interrupted - not even once. He also discerned, or more correctly felt, the intensely piercing gaze of Dr. P-Quan, and to only a slightly lesser degree, that of Professor Helosas. Dr. Kurt sat there continually taking notes, obviously developing a strategy that would eventually allow him to take control of Crash’s work.

After a few seconds, P-Quan let out a large breath and appeared visibly to gather himself. "Well, my young Mr. Tyson," he blared in a loud tone, "it appears that you have attempted to rewrite six thousand years of human scientific and technological history in one fell swoop. What on earth possessed you to develop such an outlandishly unconventional concept?"

Looking straight at P-Quan, Crash replied with firm and resolute confidence. "Sir, with all due respect, I have worked out all of the mathematical proofs. I can prove everything I have stated here. I am correct, sir."

The intensity of P-Quan’s glare increased dramatically. He seemed taken aback by the directness of Crash’s reply, but he recovered almost instantly, and hid his alarm well. Crash, however, noticed this slight hesitation. Crash had prepared himself for considerable resistance to his ideas, but not to the degree P-Quan projected. He began to wonder if there wasn’t something more involved here than met the eye.

P-Quan continued, "You know, my young Mr. Tyson, that if you continue thinking in this manner; you’re going to upset a great many people."

The term "young Mr. Tyson" started to get under Crash’s skin. He had not come here to play childish mind games. Forcefully, he replied, "Sir, I say again, with all due respect, that the validity of these concepts can undergo any scrutiny. I can demonstrate that…"

"What practical application could any of this ever possibly have?" Dr. Kurt interjected forcefully. "Even if you are correct, young man, how could it ever be applied for any useful purpose?"

Crash now knew he had their interest, although they remained skeptical. He continued, "By combining certain Mobius wave functions and Ramserian Number Theory as applied to phase space dimensional interfaces, I have demonstrated on several computer models that the construction of a Spatial Exclusion Wave Generator should be possible."

"And what on earth would that get us?" Dr. Kurt shot back, his face wreathed in a sarcastic glare. Turning to P-Quan, he remarked contemptuously, "I believe that our young Mr. Tyson has truly lost his mind!"

Crash looked Dr. Kurt squarely in the eye as he continued his explanation. "My research indicates that two main results should occur. The first primary result should be the generation of significant amounts of antimatter greatly exceeding the input energy required for its generation."

Dr. Kurt interrupted loudly, "Mr. Tyson, what on earth would we do with all this additional energy? The fusion reactors we now have supply us with all the energy we can possibly use. What is your point?"

Inwardly, Crash congratulated himself. He had successfully maneuvered the committee into a position where their questions would lead them to inquire about the central point of his research. He could not gloat now, however. There would be time enough to bask in that satisfaction later.

He explained smoothly, "Gentlemen, in view of the current shortages of many of the raw materials needed to sustain a vibrant and economically progressive human culture, I regard Planet Earth as only an originator of life: an incubator, for lack of a better word. All known life has originated here. The time is nearing when the life that has originated and flourished here must either retard its growth, or expand and prosper off the planet. You are correct, Dr. Kurt, in stating that we have more than enough energy resources for mankind’s use for the indefinite future, but only if we remain static as a race. I did not envision that purpose as the primary objective of my research. I intend to use this power to explore the universe, thereby expanding mankind’s options for his future."

P Quan’s interest increased perceptibly. He inquired, "My young Mr. Tyson, what makes you think you can ever explore the universe in any meaningful manner? Its sheer vastness precludes any realistic time frame for human exploration. The distances involved make it possible to travel only to the very nearest stars. Solving the life support problems must precede any long-term missions. This idea of yours is wishful thinking. Most likely, it is not obtainable in even the longest of human time frames. How can you justify coming here and wasting this council’s time with such ridiculous fiction?"

Crash realized that P-Quan had not taken a negative position. Although outwardly appearing to be critical, he gave Crash an opening allowing him to explain his concepts more fully. None of the other applicants had been given such an opportunity.

After considerable thought, Crash replied, "Sirs, as you can see in section (E) of my proposal, I have theoretically shown that obtaining velocities at or slightly exceeding that of light may be possible. This would allow us to explore much of nearby space in just a few years’ time. The economic benefits of such a mission cannot be evaluated at this juncture. However, one thing is certain. If we do not try, we will never know what’s out there and how it could benefit us."

As Crash continued to explain his position, he grew mystified by P-Quan’s reaction. Outwardly, the man’s body language projected typical bureaucratic negativism. Subliminally, however, Crash became increasingly aware of an entirely different message. P-Quan’s demeanor became quiet and attentive, with his focus fixed exclusively on Crash. Even Dr. Kurt and Professor Helosas had become more observant than usual.

Crash continued, "What I am proposing is to build is a small, scaled-down Spatial Exclusion Wave Generator device, so as to verify my theory. If the theory is verified, then we can proceed with the actual construction of a prototype exploratory ship."

Dr. Kurt then asked, "How much funding do you estimate will be required to complete the first phase of this project?"

"I have estimated that one hundred million credits will be required to complete the initial phase of the project," Crash stated firmly.

"That’s impossible!" Professor Helosas exclaimed sharply. "The WSC’s project oversight alone will require more funding than that!"

Fuming, Crash raised his voice. "Sir, the asinine oversight requirements of the WSC are not my concern! The initial phase of this project can be accomplished for that amount if I am allowed to do it my way."

The sudden brashness displayed by Crash shocked the panel. The members were not conditioned to have someone assume superiority over their authority, ask them to cough up a hundred million credits, and then tell them to butt out as if they were a minor annoyance to a superior power. His manner rattled their mindset. The discussion that ensued became rather heated, especially the exchanges involving Professor Helosas. "This undisciplined renegade appears to be totally out of control, if you ask me!" he muttered disgustedly. "He’s completely unmanageable! The risk is too great."

"He shows no respect for authority!" Kurt reiterated.

Kurt and Helosas entered into a heated discussion. They both took their turn listing as many negative factors as they could think of. Some made sense, but most did not. P-Quan, strangely silent, intently absorbed the opinions of the other panel members. He would listen to Kurt one minute and make a note or two, and then just as deliberately absorb and note the opinion of Helosas. Finally, he turned an intent gaze on Crash Tyson. After considerable deliberation, he pounded the table with his gavel and brought the debate to an abrupt end.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, please," he said. "In all the history of this organization, rarely have we had such controversial debate over any proposal. It would seem that for such vehement disagreement to erupt among our distinguished panel members, that there might just be some merit to young Mr. Tyson’s proposal. Although I believe there is only a slight chance of this project’s reaching a successful outcome, I believe that we should go forward with this project at this time."

Turning to Dr. Kurt and Professor Helosas, P- Quan stated quietly but very directly, "Both of you know full well the ramifications of this theory, if it turns out to be correct. Frankly, I am amazed that anyone here could even propose a project of such complexity."

Helosas started to object, but P-Quan sharply cut him off. All present could see that there was significant disagreement between the two. Helosas adamantly opposed the project, while P-Quan favored it. Everything had happened so fast that at the conclusion of this confrontation, the subjugation of Helosas’s position in favor of P-Quan’s became obvious. The discussion ended.

Crash found P-Quan’s statement quite intriguing. Helosas, being entirely cut out of the loop, had nothing more to say. The final discussions were strictly between P-Quan and Kurt. It became very evident that P-Quan completely controlled the council, and that Kurt and Helosas were the yes-men. Also, it seemed quite apparent that their discussion involved topics of much greater scope than the simple proof of Crash’s theories. He did not know what these subjects were, but he did know that the Tribunal had directly involved itself with these undisclosed issues, which, in their view, paralleled his proposal.