Chapter 6 - Meeting
Two days later, McPherson walked into Heinbaum’s laboratory and slammed the door, “Heiny, guess what?”
Heinbaum was standing next to Longarrow observing his Navajo assistant place a miniaturized Buckminsterfullerene into a small bowl of the silvery porcelain. He was so startled by the unexpected shout, he almost jumped out of his lab coat.
Grabbing his lapels and jerking them downward to straighten out any wrinkles, Heinbaum glared, “How dare you disturb the peace and tranquility of my laboratory! Get out at once. I’ll let you know if your presence is ever required.”
Strolling to the indignant scientist, McPherson wrapped his arms around him and said breathlessly, “You big hunk of manhood. I just can’t stay away from you.”
Struggling from the big man’s grasp, Heinbaum demanded, “Stop with your ridiculous comments.”
Then with a sly look, Heinbaum said, “You know, Captain, jealousy of my glorious manhood doesn’t become you.”
Rolling his eyes at the Doctor’s attempt at humor, McPherson said, “You still haven’t asked me about my news.”
Realizing the big goon wasn’t going away, Heinbaum asked, “Very well. What?”
“Just got word Colonel Jenson is headed back with a payload of Chrysallaman scientists. Should arrive sometime after lunch. Appears one of the Chriks is interested in meeting the Human who invented the kinetic generator.”
“Nonsense,” Heinbaum blustered as he nervously ran his hand over his head to smooth down any oily hairs he imagined to be out of place. “General Blunt would never subject me to the indignity and danger of such a blatant disregard for my personal safety.”
“Oh don’t you worry, Doc. The General made sure I’d be here to protect you from the dastardly old aliens. ’Sides, I knew you’d be anxious to meet a Chrysallaman who’s smarter than you. You’re always up to learning new things, aren’t you little buddy?”
The slack-jawed look of disbelief on Heinbaum’s face was comical. Stomping his foot in anger and frustration and crossing his arms, the bony scientist declared, “We’ll just see about that!”
Marching to his desk, Heinbaum stabbed at the dial pad and said, “Yes Amsley, this is Dr. John Heinbaum. I must urgently speak with General Blunt.”
Less than a minute later, Heinbaum said, “Hello, General Blunt. Yes, I’m making excellent progress on the gravity-drive. Well, I’m calling about what Captain McPherson just told me.”
There was a pause of perhaps 30 seconds as the weasily scientist listened.
“General Blunt, I must protest the danger of such a meeting to my personal safety and well-being. I’m much too valuable to the future of mankind to be . . .”
This time, Heinbaum was silent for a good 2 minutes, but the way the color drained from his face and his beady eyes darted back and forth indicated the tone and tenor of the General’s response. Slowly and softly replacing the phone in its cradle, Heinbaum walked back to where McPherson and Longarrow were leaning against a workbench.
Acting like everything was business as usual, his shaking hands and the drops of sweat beading on his forehead the only outward indications of his telephone conversation with Blunt, Heinbaum mumbled, “It appears Captain you’re information about the visit of the Chrysallaman scientist is correct. We’ll offer as much cooperation as possible to our guest.”
“That’s the spirit, Heiny,” McPherson grinned as he patted the man on his thin shoulders. “Don’t worry your pretty little head about anything ’cause I’m here to protect you from the big, evil aliens.”
Gazing at the Scotsman with a round eyed look of sheer terror, Heinbaum said nothing.
The laboratory was as spotless as Miguel had ever seen. Heinbaum had just dismissed a crew of maintenance personnel who’d spent over three hours scrubbing every inch of the pristine lab. Every piece of glass and every item of equipment glistened. The frantic scientist had even donned white gloves and was walking about the lab wiping his fingers across workbenches and any other flat surface he could find looking for remnants of dust. He was acting like a newlywed expecting a visit from his mother-in-law. Miguel had to struggle to keep from laughing out loud at the antics.
Appearing to be satisfied with the cleanliness of his lab, Heinbaum turned to inspecting his associates.
“Longarrow,” he said. “Comb that pony-tail or cut it off! You look like an unkempt hippy high on peyote.”
“And you, McPherson. Stand at attention and make sure your shirt tails are tucked in. You look like a bear fresh out of the forest.”
“Roemer! What are you gawking at? I see a smear of oil on your right cuff. Change into a clean lab coat. Must I babysit all of you?”
When no one made any move to acquiesce to his demands, Heinbaum threw his hands up in disgust and stomped to his desk in silent rage. Without a knock, the laboratory door swung open and Doug Jenson walked in followed by a 6 foot 3 inch Chrysallaman wearing the Chrysallaman equivalent of a white lab coat. Miguel noted the lizard had a plastic pocket protector stuck in his chest pocket with the tops of 2 pens of different colors sticking from the protective sheath.
Walking to Heinbaum, Doug shook the scientist’s hand and mentally projected, “Dr. John Heinbaum, I would like to introduce you to Dr. Jamins GooYee, the leading Chrysallaman scientist in high energy physics.”
Turning toward the lizard, Doug nodded his head and continued, “Dr. GooYee, please allow me to introduce you to Dr. John Heinbaum, the Human scientist who conceived and built the Kinetic Generator.”
GooYee gazed at Heinbaum and then looked around the laboratory with complete disinterest. After a moment he said, “Based upon what I see, I’m astounded anyone using this equipment could invent fire much less the powerful energy source I witnessed. So Colonel, would you please stop playing games and conduct me to the real laboratory. I tire of your jokes.”
Heinbaum lost his composure. Confronting the big lizard, he stabbed his bony finger at the physicist’s chest and sputtered, “Why you no good, supercilious, pompous jerk! How dare you insult the superior intellect who devastated your puny . . ”
McPherson stepped between Heinbaum and GooYee, grabbed his friend’s hand and pushed him gently away. Heinbaum knew he couldn’t withstand the strength of the big Scotsman so he let himself be nudged back; however, the look of indignation didn’t subside.
Unperturbed by the actions of the little scientist, GooYee said, “Thank you for intervening. I was afraid I might have to harm the little queller.”
The rather sizeable red-haired human turned toward GooYee so fast the startled physicist took a step backward in fear. Moving faster than any living thing the Chrysallaman had ever encountered, the human grabbed fistfuls of GooYee’s lab coat and lifted the huge alien so high his clawed feet dangled in the air a good 4 inches off the floor.
Like a hot breeze blowing off the burning sands of a desert, McPherson’s thoughts blasted into GooYee’s brain, “If you even so much as touch that man in a threatening manner, I will personally rip off your swelled head and spit down your open throat! Do I make myself clear?”
GooYee had no idea his head was somehow enlarged and the threatening Human had not turned transparent, but he knew he was overpowered by a gigantically strong creature. The menacing tone and power in the Human’s thoughts couldn’t be ignored. Hoping he wouldn’t be thrown across the room, GooYee nodded his head and felt the giant lower him to the floor.”
Eyes wide with apprehension, GooYee watched as the Human named McPherson smiled at him and smoothed the fist-sized wrinkles in his formerly perfectly pressed lab coat with the rough palms of his hands.
“Nice to make your acquaintance, Gooey. Glad we have an understanding,” McPherson said as he patted the Chrysallaman’s chest.
Thinking to himself, “Why do these Humans keep calling me Gooey?” The Chrysallaman scientist responded, “Yes of course.”
Taking a deep breath and another few moments to gather his thoughts, GooYee looked at Heinbaum and asked, “Are you, sir, really the renowned Human scientist I’ve heard so much about who conceived the principles of the Kinetic Generator?”
When the narrow-faced Human with very slick hair and sharply pointed nose nodded in answer, GooYee continued, “Then I wish to apologize for my former remarks. For a lifeform such as yourself to create such brilliance from the meager tools in this room and the limited educational opportunities available to you on this planet, I must say I am astounded.”
GooYee was shocked when the little Human leaped at him with a snarl and began beating on his chest with his fists. Again the large Human intervened, only this time he pulled Heinbaum away from GooYee and put his own body between them like a shield.
“My goodness!” GooYee thought with alarm as he watched Heinbaum struggle to reach past McPherson and grab him. “What kind of nest from Hell have I landed in? There’s something very wrong about these Humans!”
Jenson, who’d been standing by watching the whole scene unfold, decided it was time he intervened. The pride and arrogance of these two geniuses had to be corralled, or there’d be no mutual cooperation in scientific advancement.
Knowing there was one sure way to calm Heinbaum down and at the same time knock GooYee off his high horse, Doug asked, “Dr. GooYee, I believe your training and knowledge of the theories of lightspeed travel indicate it’s currently not possible for your spacecraft to exceed the speed of light. Isn’t that correct?”
With the confident look of a tenured college professor answering the childish question of a freshman in Physics 101, GooYee intoned, “You understand correctly. Chrysallaman scientists spent the last 250 years perfecting our lightspeed drive. Our development of the black hole anti-mass containment system and continued improvements in fusion reactor energy output have enabled us to achieve 99.99% of the speed of light and sustain that speed as long as necessary to reach our far-flung planetary systems.”
Putting his arms behind his back and pacing toward the white board on a nearby wall, GooYee picked up a black marker and began writing a complex mathematical formula. As he completed the myriad of symbols, letters and numbers, he stepped back and said, “As any first year Chrysallaman student is taught, this formula is complete and undeniable. There is one atomic particle identified as a Davission which is theoretically capable of moving faster than light. To date, no Chrysallaman scientist has been able to conceive of a way to imbue our spacecraft with qualities mimicking the Davission faster than light properties.”
Heinbaum had been eyeing GooYee’s formula and walked up remarking, “Your formula appears to be complete, but would you mind if I made a couple of minor suggestions?”
GooYee smiled at the skinny Human and said in a condescending tone, “Well of course. I’m always anxious to train new students about established scientific principles. When you have completed your suggestions, I will point out the inherent errors in your thesis.”
Staring at the big lizard with a look like he had just eaten some bitter tasting cabbage, Heinbaum picked up another black marker. The first thing he did was add a division sign at the end of GooYee’s formula. He then wrote a long and intricate series of symbols, letters and numbers. After completing his new part of the formula, Heinbaum began simplifying the complex algorithm by marking out portions of the original formula as he marked out portions of his supplementary formula. When he was done with the mutual cancellations, he put an equal sign at the end of everything and wrote out the final, simplified version of the integrated equation.
Stepping away from the white board, Heinbaum crossed his arms, nodded his head at the results and glanced sideways at the Chrysallaman physicist for his reaction. As GooYee absorbed the meaning of the mathematics, his face and eyes displayed a series of emotions ranging from disbelief to shock to amazement. He made no move to alter a single part of the Heinbaum equation.
“What do you call this theoretical process your formula describes?” he asked in a hushed tone.
Heinbaum stepped back to the white board and drew an equal sign at the end of the new formula and then wrote the letters FLIT.
Taking a step backwards he said, “My team came up with the name, and I like it. FLIT stands for Folded Link Instantaneous Travel.”
Scrutinizing the narrow-faced Human with new found respect, GooYee asked in a hushed tone, “When will you begin construction of the mechanism capable of producing the results indicated by your formula?”
Replacing his black marker in the white board tray, Heinbaum ran his eyes up and down the entire frame of the lizard and smiled before he responded, “Oh, we’ve already built and tested it. All the saucers and the mother ship are being retrofitted right now with the new FLIT drives.”
Without realizing in his excitement that a little drool dripped from the corner of his mouth onto the collar of his lab coat, GooYee bowed his head and asked in an awestruck voice, “Doctor, would it be possible for me to experience this new FLIT drive in operation?”
Without hesitation, Heinbaum replied with a mischievous smile, “But of course my dear fellow.”
A short time later, Dr. GooYee strode into the Engineering bay of the scout saucer Salteer with the Human scientist named Dr. Miguel Roemer.
What he didn’t see made him ask in wide-eyed astonishment, “What have you done with the fusion reactor?”
As part of the refit of the saucer with the new FLIT drive, the fusion reactor had been removed from the bay. The size of the reactor and its attendant parts made its absence quite obvious. The circular Engineering bay was 30 feet in diameter. The 10 foot wide by 7 foot high containment vessel normally squatted in the center of the bay with several steel pipes for cooling and massive power cables snaking away from several couplings on the structure. The containment vessel and cooling pipes were gone. Steel mesh now covered the hole in the deck formerly occupied by the structure.
In comparison to the size of the missing fusion reactor, the tiny one foot diameter FLIT drive module with its internal silvery pyramid sat atop a thin 4 foot tall pedestal in the center of the big empty space. All the power cables formerly connected to the reactor were spliced into a wiring harness secured to the black base of the FLIT module. GooYee noticed what seemed to be a white misty cloud filling the inside of the glass orb.
Roemer responded, “It’s no longer necessary to the operation of our spacecraft. Darn thing was too big and inefficient.”
GooYee’s reptilian teeth clicked as he closed his mouth in wonder. The Heinbaum FLIT equation had described the nature of the power source, but GooYee hadn’t had time to fathom its inherent derivations. From what he was seeing, the entire saucer was supposed to be powered by the basketball sized FLIT drive module. GooYee’s chest began to feel tight, and he fought a dizzy spell which threatened to make him lose his balance.
Grasping the edge of the entryway to steady himself, he almost screamed in panic, “These crazy Humans have gutted the saucer!”
Just then the red-haired man walked up, slapped the gaping Chrysallaman on the back and declared, “There ya are, Gooey.”
GooYee’s head lurched forward from the force of the blow and his pocket protector almost slipped from his lab coat. Turning toward the large, grinning Human, GooYee stuffed the pocket protector back into position, rolled his shoulders to ease the dull ache in the middle of his back and replied, “Would you please stop being so friendly and take me to Dr. Heinbaum?”
Pouting his lips in a completely insincere manner as if his feelings had been hurt, McPherson answered, “Aw, Gooey, I’m jus’ trying to be hospitable.
“Raising his arm in a follow me gesture, he continued, “Come on, I’ll take you to him.”
Turning to follow the grinning Human up the ramps to the master control room, GooYee said, “Your idea of hospitable is going to end up with me in the hospital.”
When GooYee entered the master control room, he swept his gaze around and was gratified to discover there was no apparent change in the cabin layout or flight controls. Heinbaum was hunched over the control board conferring with a dark-skinned Human.
As McPherson and he neared the flight couches, Heinbaum looked up and said, “It occurred to me you’re unfamiliar with most of our solar system.”
When the Chrysallaman nodded, the beady eyed scientist continued, “There’s only one sight in the system you’d recognize and that’s the flotilla of mega-liners currently in orbit around Ganymede, the sixth moon of the planet Jupiter.”
Putting his hands on his hips in defiance, GooYee declared, “I’ve already seen enough! Your foolish arrogance has been your undoing.”
Raising his finger and pointing it at the skinny gray-haired Human, the defiant lizard continued, “Your Human lackeys removed the saucer’s power source! How do you cretins expect to energize your FLIT module? Out of thin air?”
His lips forming a thin grim line and his eyes narrowed to mere slits, Heinbaum poised his index finger over a blinking blue button on the control panel. Twirling the finger around in dramatic fashion, he pressed the button. The main view screen lit up with a HiDef picture of the planet Earth in a background of black space with a few twinkling stars.
For the second time in one day and the second time in his entire life, GooYee was dumbfounded. With his mouth hanging open and his eyes like dark black unblinking circles, he stared at the beautiful depiction of planet HG-281 from an orbital distance of at least 2,000 miles. Somehow, without power from a fusion reactor, the Humans had lifted the scout saucer from its underground hangar and into orbit without the slightest physical indication of movement.
Heinbaum let the lizard stare at the view screen for several moments and then asked, “You were saying?”
“But how?” GooYee stammered. “Your formula only indicated faster than lightspeed.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Didn’t I mention there were several other formulae?”
Dropping his hands from their formerly defiant places on his hips, GooYee grabbed at the back of one of the flight couches to steady himself.
“These crazy Humans are turning everything I’ve always known to be scientific fact into outmoded garbage.”
The gray-haired human, Heinbaum, kept interrupting his preoccupied thoughts with more questions.
“Do you remember how long it took for the mother ship to travel from your mega-liner to Earth?”
“Uh what? Oh!” GooYee responded. “I believe the trip required around 42 minutes.”
“Colonel Fields,” Heinbaum addressed the dark-skinned Human.
“Would you please set the GPC for Ganymede? We don’t want to waste any more of Dr. GooYee’s valuable time. He has training courses he must put together for us uneducated Humans. I’m sure he has orientation and instruction materials in his lockers aboard the Rkksshaw. Why don’t you give us a five count.”
“Sure thing, Doc,” Alex responded as he twirled the Salteer away from Earth and centered Jupiter in the view screen.
Hovering his finger over the green square labeled ‘GO’ on the GPC screen, Alex announced, “Activation in 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1. GO.”
Alex, Heinbaum and McPherson had experienced the disorientation caused by the instantaneous transposition of the FLIT drive and looked away from the view screen when the GO button was pressed. GooYee was not so fortunate.
Watching for any change, the physicist suffered the same eye twitching multi-focus as Humans. Losing his balance as the moon Ganymede instantly swept into view, the Chrysallaman fell into an ignominious heap, banging his skull soundly on the unforgiving deck.
Looking down on the big lizard who sat up rubbing his sore head, Heinbaum smiled and purred, “You need to be careful on your first FLIT. The sudden transition makes some folks a little dizzy.”