Beyond the Darkside, Chapter Three


CHAPTER THREE

Aldric laid in bed, looking out the window overhead. It was one of the few luxuries he afforded himself. Having windows on the moon was expensive, and a little dangerous, but being locked inside his labs for most of his waking hours made him crave the open view into the abyss of space. Seeing the stars move overhead game him a sense of time and purpose. “We should be out there by now,” he said. Margaret mumbled something and rolled over. He did not usually bring her home with him, but their work in the lab had left him energized and their visit to his office bedroom was not enough for either of them.

A satellite flew past his window high overhead. It was one of his, he could tell by the pattern of the blinking lights, and he knew it was a data collector performing its monitoring duties. The satellite was one of a dozen small units he had orbiting the moon, checking power outputs and grid flow. Aldric’s power system was the safest power source available outside of the waterwheel and air turbine of earth, but it never hurt to keep an eye on things. More often than not his satellites caught someone trying to modify a power converter unit illegally, and that could definitely turn dangerous in a hurry. Without the exact settings and materials, the power converter could become unstable and result in an electrical discharge that could leave a city block without power.

Aldric pulled the blankets to the side and climbed out of bed. He did not bother to dress before he left the bedroom. Margaret was not likely to wake up, and if she did, it was not like she had not seen him nude before. He was anything but bashful and it was his house, so he could walk around naked if he liked.

The soft glow of his office data terminal greeted him as he entered the room, and the data-stream was already busy with the constant traffic of the lunar workday. Everyone was wired in through their homes, offices and communicators. Soon they would be wired in directly with his company’s data implants. They were still in the experimental phase, but Aldric was confident that the next batch of human testing would prove fruitful. The unfettered access to the data-stream would increase productivity a million times over.

Aldric’s fingers flew over the keyboard as he navigated his way through the layers of security wrapped around his network. He wanted to check the status of the simulation they started running before they closed up shop for the night, or morning, depending on how you judged such things on a world where the sunrise and sunset could last for days. It might have been faster to use the voice commands integrated into all data connections, but Aldric liked the old-fashioned feel of the keys clicking beneath his fingers. He was a proponent for innovation and efficiency, but a man had to draw the line somewhere.

The connection to his research system took even more time to get to, and Aldric waited while the two systems achieved a secure link. He considered brewing coffee, but did not feel like getting up from the chair, so he stared at the screen and watched the progress bar slowly make its way across the bottom. When it finished, a smiling yellow face popped up on the screen and his lab’s voice cheerfully said, “Good morning,” before the image dissolved into the familiar control panel of the research system. A couple of quick commands later and he was staring at the simulation’s data. The results made Aldric smile.

Colored lines and corresponding numbers scrawled across the screen in the pattern he had predicted and that meant that in all likelihood his theory was correct. The simulation was only about eighty percent complete, but if it was going to fail it would have done so by the midpoint where the energy input started ramping up, not on the downside where the output started to take over and energy conversion occurred. In Aldric’s mind, the only question that remained was what the final energy output would be and how close his calculations were. Once that was determined they would begin construction of a scaled down dimensional reactor and put it through its paces. Within the next couple of years they would have even more power and a possible means to travel beyond the solar system.

He was about to cheer out loud and wake Margaret from her sleep, when Aldric noticed the output climbing at a much faster than anticipated rate. The energy created was enough that it supplanted the need for external power and it cycled through the converter far earlier than Aldric had expected. “Margaret! Get out here!” Aldric yelled. The numbers kept climbing and the simulated converter was beginning to redline as he watched. “Damn it, Margaret! Get Up!” His scream bordered between excitement and terror, as he hammered out commands on his keyboard, trying to stabilize the effect so that the simulation would complete, but he knew it was a losing battle.

“What’s going on?” Margaret asked as she stumbled out of the bedroom in one of his t-shirts.

“I’m losing it,” he said through gritted teeth.

“Wait, losing what?” she asked as she walked up behind him. She looked over his shoulder and said, “Holy Shit! Is that the simulation?”

“Yes, damn it,” Aldric said, “now can you get on that workstation and help me here? We’re losing data by the second.” Margaret sat down at the workstation beside him and piggy-backed on his signal so that she could bypass most of the network’s security. Her screen flared to life with an image similar to Aldric’s. “Good,” he said, “now help me stabilize this bitch so we won’t have to re-run it.”

The two of them fell into sync, each tackling the work they were best suited for without having to say a word. Aldric’s fingers raced over the keyboard while Margaret spoke her commands. The two of them managed to hold back a complete simulation collapse for nearly an hour, but the output proved too much. A softly chiming alarm preceded their screens displaying large flashing signs that announced the simulation had ended in failure. The scientists were covered in sweat and breathing hard from the exertion. They looked at each other and laughed out loud. They had proven Aldric’s dream was possible where no one else had even come close.

“That was amazing,” Margaret said between breaths. “That was the best wake up I have ever received.”

“The best,” Aldric said. He raised and eye brow and looked her over from head to toe. The look might have been suggestive if he weren’t completely naked sitting in front of a computer screen.

“Yes, even better than you waking me up for sex,” she said as she stood up. She walked over and sat in his lap sideways. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him before saying, “But all of this work has certainly put me in the mood to go back to bed.”

“I think that sounds like a good idea to me,” Aldric said. “You know we’re going to be swamped for the next week developing a new exchange unit and we should probably include a larger capacity storage unit as well.” He kissed Margaret back and ran his hand down her back to the curve of her butt. “Yeah, we probably should take advantage of the time we have now, because it might be the last we have for a while.” He scooped her up in his arms and Margaret squealed. He laughed and carried her back to his bedroom, knowing that it would be noon in a couple of hours and Evan would be calling.

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