A Eureka Moment In Time

Chapter 11

Atom figured that he was at least 120,000 feet above the ground, and several miles west of the Oregon coast line, over the Pacific ocean, when he released the reactor. Atom poured on the rocket fuel and continued to climb higher and faster. His flight path was toward the west-southwest as he tried to put as much distance between himself and the potential bomb he had just let go of.

He hadn't left himself as much time as he had hoped. Seconds after his fingers released their grip on the reactor it exploded behind him. The explosion set out a shock wave and the blast of an electromagnetic pulse in his direction. Traveling at the speed of light, the EMP hit him first. It momentarily short circuited his computer brain, and Atom blanked out into unconsciousness. He didn't feel the slightly slower shock wave, which punched him like a heavy weight boxer.

Atom's rocket engines continued to fire as he zoomed up in a ballistic arc. His engines finally ran out of fuel and he was coasting upward. He almost completely left the Earth's atmosphere, following a similar path to an ICBM launched from the US west coast toward Asia. Still unconscious, Atom reentered the atmosphere and plunged earthward. He had crossed the ocean and was now over land. Down he plunged, finally hitting the ground atop the east slope of a snow covered mountain. He lay buried in the snow with his internal power plant shut down.

Zane Donovan knocked on the door and waited. He heard footsteps from within the house, and the sound of the peep hole in the door opening. Zane half expected for Dr. Tenma to refuse his company, but the door opened and he was beckoned in with a wave of a hand.

"I'm sorry about your son," Zane said. "Tobio was such a pleasant child."

"Oh come on Zane. You knew he was a robot. You were always trying to get proof of that, well now you have it." Tenma chirped back.

"That's not the point. You were raising him like he was your own son. It's clear to me now that you had nothing to do with your flesh and blood son's death. The robot was a replacement for the boy, and you were treating him as such. You're even grieving for his loss." Zane answered.

"That's not totally true, but you're right about my feelings for the robot. He filled a hole in my life that opened up after Tobio died, a hole that has now reopened even wider." Tenma sobbed.
"And it's my fault he died saving Eureka. I should have warned him about the EMP. He could have shut himself down long enough to avoid the damage from the electromagnetic shock wave if I'd have told him what to do. I knew that what happened was a very real possibility. I just didn't think of it in time to save him."

"We don't know that that's what happened to him." Zane said.

"Well the only other possibility would be that he was so close to the blast, that he was blown to bits." Tenma replied. "I'd hate to think of that possibility. I really don't know which way would have been a kinder demise for poor Atom. In any case, what's left of him is probably in the middle of the deepest part of the pacific ocean right now."

Deputy Andy was Tenma's next visitor that day. The robotic policeman carried a large platter of sandwiches from Cafe Diem.
"Hello Dr. Tenma. I'm really sorry about Tobio. I've brought you something to eat, so you don't have to prepare anything for yourself." Andy set the platter down on a nearby table.

"Thank you Deputy", Tenma said. He motioned to a chair for Andy to sit down next to him.

Andy sat and tried to think of something to say. He finally opened his mouth.
"I feel really bad about what happened. I should have been the one saving the day, especially after your nanite treatment started giving me the extra strength and flying ability."

"Nonsense!" Tenma laughed. "Besides, by my calculations your enhanced abilities have not fully emerged yet. You would not have been able to perform the task that Tobio did. In a few weeks you will be able to, but not yet. Which reminds me, I have a pair of special boots for you in my office. We should go there and retrieve them for you."

"Are you sure you want to go back to GD so soon after .. " Andy started.

"It's no problem. I need to clean out my office, and the work will take the tragedy off my mind." Tenma replied.

Andy drove them over to the Global Dynamics research building where Dr. Tenma's office was located. Tenma opened the door to his office and opened the closet. After rummaging around in the back of it, he produced a pair of shinny new police boots.
"Ah, here we go! These should match your deputy sheriff uniform quite well. They were made in your size, I hope they fit correctly. The boots are flame proof, and have a special retracting flap in the heel and sole to allow the jet exhaust nozzles clear access. They're exactly like the ones I made for Tobio, but in your size and color." Tenma handed the boots to Andy who tried them on.

"They fit perfectly!" Andy smiled.

Andy noticed the various half full boxes scattered around the office.
"You're not going to leave, are you?" he asked.

"I haven't given in my resignation yet, but I'm thinking about doing so. I'm sure there will be quite a stink once the town's collective grief over Tobio's death is over with and people realize that he wasn't my son after all. I lied about that when I took the job, so I expect I will probably be fired anyway." Tenma sighed.

"I wouldn't bet on that." Andy smiled. "You don't know this town that well. I think people will have sympathy for the twice loss of you son. Please give us a chance."

The team from the US Geological Survey Department was spending the day on the east slope of Mt. Fuji. The volcano had been quiet for almost 300 years, but had recently showed signs of coming back to life. Volcanologists from all over the world had been working with the Japanese to determine the risk of a future eruption. Today, the US team was planting sensors on the snow covered east slope of the mountain. They were driving stakes through the snow cover into the ground below to insert tilt-meters and seismometers to take readings. Harry Morgan held one of the steel stakes in his hand and pushed it through the snow, probing for the ground below. What he felt through the stake didn't feel right.
"There's something buried under here!" he announced to his companions, "hand me a shovel!"

The three scientists each grabbed a shovel from the toolkit and began to carefully uncover the spot where Harry had probed the ground. Ed Sweeny was the first to reach the buried object.
"Oh my God! I think it's a body!" he cried out.

Harry carefully picked up the humanoid form that lay face down under the snow pack. It looked like the body of a small naked boy. However, as soon as he picked it up, he realized that it felt more like a doll or a manikin than a human body.
"Hey you guys, I think this is a robot. I bet the Japanese Institute of Science must have lost this. It was probably doing the same job that we are and it ran out of power or something."

Yuko walked into Dr. Ochanomizu's office and stood in front of his desk.
"I just answered a call from the US survey team on the east slope of Mt. Fuji" she said. "They think they have found one of our missing robots."

"I wasn't aware we were missing any" Ochanomizu replied.

"I didn't think so either, but they insisted that it had to be one of ours because it was so advanced. They are flying it in on a helicopter this afternoon. Shall I have them deliver it here?"

"Any description of it?"

"Yes" Yuko said "they sent a cell phone camera shot of it. Look on your computer."

Dr. Ochanomizu opened the new email on his desktop computer. His jaw dropped in surprise.

"Send that robot right here! Don't let anyone else get a look at it! My God, how did it get back here in Japan!"

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