Beyond the Darkside 34-16 to 20


373px-A_Kirlian_Photography,_female_1989

“Mostly food and medical supplies, but we swiped some parts too,” Hanse said.

Debra slowly shifted her gaze to her husband. “And that is it?”

Hanse tilted his head to the side and grinned. “Well there were a few weapons and a prototype code breaker, but that’s it: promise.”

“Great.” Debra shook her head and sighed. “Well that should be enough to get Vo off my back, at least for now, but that doesn’t mean you two are off the hook. Odds are both her and Aldric Dewitt will be coming for you two soon enough, so I would just as soon get you both out of my house.” Continue reading “Beyond the Darkside 34-16 to 20”

Beyond the DarkSide: 31-14 to 15


DarkSide“I’ll need the location,” Debra said, “and a budget.”

“Fine,” Margaret huffed. She tapped the screen of her terminal, sending Debra the location of the warehouse and access to an account for expenses. “Done. Now get me what I want.”

Debra turned and walked from the room without saying a word. Margaret watched the woman leave and briefly considered having her shot before she left, but the woman’s record suggested she was someone that got the job done, and Margaret was woefully lacking for people who she could say that about. The door closed and thoughts of killing the security chief faded away.

Margaret pinched the bridge of her nose and stared at the screen once more. Nothing moved, but that was to be expected from a camera located on the lunar surface. Why did this feel important? Maybe her fixation with Aldric was getting the better of her, but she did not think so. She could feel it. The balance shifted and she could not figure out whether or not it was in her favor.

The buzzer chimed again and Cathy’s cute little face with her perfect sweetheart lips popped up on the screen. “What?” she asked, clipping the word off short.

“Kraven is here to see you,” Cathy said.

“Good. Send him and see that we are not disturbed.” Margaret poked the image with a finger, once more banishing Cathy from her sight.

Beyond the DarkSide: 31-12 to 13


Security
“CWAC” by Unknown photographerCredit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA- – Found at http://www.junobeach.org/canada-in-wwii/articles/the-canadian-womens-army-corps/ – website for The Juno Beach Centre, Courseulles-sur-mer, Normandy. Accessed 1st May 2007. Photograph taken October 30th, 1943 by Canadian Crown employee and hence out of copyright.. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CWAC.jpg#/media/File:CWAC.jpg

A tall, lanky woman in her early thirties, Debra Carter carried herself with a quiet confidence that Margaret instantly admired and hated. Alarms went off in her head. This woman was a threat to her, or at least her plans, but for the moment Margaret needed her, so she pushed down the warning and smiled.

“Welcome, Debra,” Margaret said as she stood up. “It is a pleasure to finally meet you.” Continue reading “Beyond the DarkSide: 31-12 to 13”

Beyond the DarkSide: 31-10


Margaret watched the monitor, but after the initial onrush, she could not see any activity. Not for the first time she wondered why she still did not have someone planting cameras inside Aldric’s buildings. Perhaps she liked the little bit of mystery his machinations offered up, but really she knew that Aldric would find them and trace them back to her. He knew plenty as it was. She did not need to give him anything more.

A few more security guards entered the warehouse, but that was it. No one left. Either they were all inside or they left through another door. It did not really matter to her. That is what she had other people for.

Beyond the DarkSide: 31-6 to 9


Secret

Margaret watched the man leave and enjoyed the stink of his fear in the air. Men of power were so easy to cow; they all had something they were afraid of losing, so showing them how easy it was to take away their something special usually put them in line. Not Aldric though. No, that man kept nothing close enough to use against him. Margaret thought she might be his weakness, and she certainly could influence him, but he would sacrifice nothing for her. His only love was for himself, and she suspected that even that love was fleeting.

She sat at the desk and pulled up her terminal. A quick flick series of motions brought up the latest satellite imagery of DarkSide’s research facility. It looked like they were building a new warehouse, but why? What did they need more storage space for? She thought for a moment, plumbing her knowledge of the company and the man that ran it. It was not for storage and it was not a warehouse she decided. Aldric was building something, and it was probably something big. What was it?

A tap on the monitor brought up a video image of her secretary. “Cathy, tell Carl that I want that information on my desk in an hour.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Cathy said. “Is there anything else?”

Margaret pursed her lips and thought for a second before saying, “Yes, have Kraven come here in two.” She closed the window and returned to looking at the satellite feeds. “There is a secret hiding in there, Aldric. What do you think you’re doing?”

A red light blinked in the corner of her screen, so Margaret touched it. A live video feed popped open showing the entrance to one of Aldric’s many supposedly hidden warehouses. A full squad of security guards rushed in through the airlock with their rifles pointed forward. Margaret paused the feed and zoomed in on one of the rifles. “Set to kill, I see,” she whispered. “Someone must have found something you wanted to stay hidden.”

Another tap on the screen and Cathy popped back into view. “Cathy, tell Kraven to get here as fast as he can, and I want the security captain for Lunar Paveways here immediately. Send a shuttle if you have to, but I want him in my office by the time Kraven arrives.” She closed the window again, not feeling the need to say anything further.

Beyond the DarkSide: 31-1 to 5


CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

DarkSide
“Lunar eclipse October 8 2014 California Alfredo Garcia Jr mideclipse” by Alfredo Garcia, Jr, [2] – Flickr [1]. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lunar_eclipse_October_8_2014_California_Alfredo_Garcia_Jr_mideclipse.JPG#/media/File:Lunar_eclipse_October_8_2014_California_Alfredo_Garcia_Jr_mideclipse.JPG
Margaret flipped through the invoices for five minutes before tossing the bound collection onto her desk. She stared at the short, balding man sitting in front of her. When he did not speak her stare turned to a glare. He tried to sink further back into the uncomfortable, expensive, wooden chair, but it only made him appear that much more pathetic in her eyes.

“Well?” She felt like the statement conveyed her needs well enough, but he still did not speak. She sighed, grabbed the invoices from her desk, and tossed them into his lap. “Why the fuck should I care about these, Carl? They’re bills. Assholes like you pay the bills, or pay someone to pay the bills. I don’t give a shit about the bills. That is your job.” Continue reading “Beyond the DarkSide: 31-1 to 5”

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. Continue reading “Beyond the Darkside, Chapter Three”

Beyond the Darkside, Chapter Two


CHAPTER TWO

Beyond the Darkside

The glowing red numbers of the clock on the wall were the only real indicators that it was morning. Living on the moon made time a very mutable thing. A lunar day was little less than a month long, and at least half of that was spent in total darkness. The pioneers who made it their home felt far less constrained by the earthly conventions of time. Clocks and relationships measured time, not the position of the sun. Not everyone could handle it, but the long-term residents got used to it or went mad. Evan considered the possibility that he was joining the ranks of the insane. They spent more than twelve hours working and it looked like Aldric’s idea would bear some fruit.

Being part of Aldric’s team could lead to all sorts of possibilities in the future. Aldric paid well, but his altruism led to limitations in pay. He and Margaret should be swimming in fat paychecks, but Aldric kept their pay at a level that most earth scientists would scoff at. It was not that he was cheap; it was that he had an overwhelming sense of fairness that was completely beyond Evan’s understanding. The lowest paid person in the company made nearly a third of what Aldric made, which was more than half of what Evan took home. He could have gone elsewhere, but no one was more cutting edge than Dark Side Experimental, so he stayed.

Evan walked to the garage, unwilling to wait around while Margaret threw herself at Aldric once more. He wouldn’t mind being on the receiving end of her affections, but he was not going to spend his morning listening to the two of them moan and groan in Aldric’s little “hidden” bedroom. They thought they were so slick, but they were a joke. Really it was Margaret who was the joke. Aldric was the boss, and she was hardly his first dalliance, so people were unsurprised by his behavior, but Margaret seemed to think she was special and that her position as Aldric’s lover provided her with special privileges. There were rumors that she was on her way out though. Aldric would sleep with his employees, but they had to stay his employees by doing the work and following the rules. Margaret was good at the first, but was failing at the second.

The dimly lit garage contained a scant number of hover-cars. Aldric’s flashy red sport model dominated the space with a spotlight shining down on his personal parking space. It made Evan’s metallic blue sedan seem sad and pathetic in its space. It was a good car, practical and safe. It was the kind of car Evan’s mother would have approved of if she were still alive. She had worried and fretted over his move to the moon and made him promise to be safe. She had always been cautious and bought everything with safety in mind. Evan did not think she would have appreciated the irony of her home security system keeping her locked in the house as it burned down around her. The investigator said that it was a one in a million glitch that kept the doors sealed shut. It was a sad day, but it was far removed from Evan’s everyday life, so there were few tears.

Once in the driver’s seat, Evan turned the car on and flinched at the sound of the sedan’s force field kicking in. It crackled and spit like a fallen power line until it stabilized and settled into a loud hum. It worked well, and protected him from just about everything that fell out of the sky, but it was a very unsettling way to start any excursion outside the confines of a building. Satisfied that the force field would not fail him, he signaled the door to open and drove out through the shield that kept the building safe from meteors while preventing the air from escaping into the vacuum of the moon’s barren wasteland.

The advent of hover cars made personal transportation on the dark side possible. Wheel based vehicles did fine one the other side of the moon where meteor activity was generally sparse, but the regular barrage of space debris on the dark side ruined paved and graded surfaces with terrible efficiency. Evan cruised along the road, which was little more than a lane designated by markers of red light, and wondered what Aldric’s latest invention might do for the people of the moon and the people living on earth itself. It might be the key to getting humanity out of the solar system if the power output projections were correct.

Faster than light travel had proven too expensive to be practical, but Aldric’s idea could make it feasible if they could improve stability and marry it to the existing jump drive technology. Evan turned on the autopilot and looked at the stars outside his window. Even the faint shimmer of the force field could not diminish the fierce brilliance of the stars as seen without the interference of the sun or an atmosphere. He longed to be there, amongst the stars, but he would settle for the moon until something better came along. For the first time in years, Evan fell asleep dreaming of a trip to a far off world, and it did not feel like an impossibility.

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Beyond the Darkside, Chapter One


BEYOND THE DARKSIDE

CHAPTER ONE

Beyond the Darkside

The force field flared with brilliant explosions of light as the meteorites rained down upon Aldric Dewitt’s silver sport hover car. Not for the first time that week he mentally praised the makers of the photosensitive windshield’s design. Its immediate reaction dulled the light that would have otherwise left him blind. Driving during a meteor shower was foolish, but there was little time for caution. Timing was critical when it came to his void stream experiments and his meeting with the Defense Minister had run long, so it was risk the meteors or lose two years of research in an implosion that would level his lab.

Aldric scowled at the video screen imbedded in the dash of his car as the soft jingle of bells signaled an incoming call. He tapped the touch-screen and said, “Aldric speaking. Make it fast.”

The face of his lead assistant, Margaret Vo, popped onto his screen. Worry creased her brow, but her hair was still held tight in her trademark bun, so things must not have gone all that wrong yet. “Doctor, we’re reaching the point of no return. How much longer will you be?” She was a capable assistant, and a voracious lover, but Aldric was growing tired of her. The university would be farming out interns in a couple of weeks. He would have to let Margaret go before then.

“I’m driving as fast as I can, Margaret, but this storm is a doozie.” As if to emphasize his words, a flurry of meteors struck his car in rapid succession, making the interior flash like the inside of one of the retro discos found in the poorer parts of town. “If I’m going to make it at all I probably shouldn’t be talking while I’m driving.” He stabbed the screen with a finger, promptly cutting off the conversation. The truth was that he could drive through the flashing barrage of space debris with the assistance of the autopilot, but he enjoyed the thrill of being in control of the million-dollar car.

Aldric pulled off of the expressway with less than five minutes until his DNA was needed to open the genetic lock that kept the trigger safe from accidental activation. A simple key lock might have been easier, but there was a lot at stake and too much money involved to take shortcuts on security. Two minutes later he was slamming on the brakes as he slid into his private parking space. He was out of the car and on the run before it stopped moving. He ran down two flights of stairs and a pair of painfully long hallways before he crashed through the lab door with thirty seconds left on the countdown.

“Son of a bitch,” Aldric said as he rammed his finger into the lock. The needle-like probe at the base of the key hole pierced his skin and sampled the blood that welled from the insertion.

“Identity confirmed,” chimed the breathy female voice of the lab’s security system. Aldric mashed down the button as soon as the security shield opened. “Void containment maintained, please reset within four-thousand-three-hundred and sixty-eight hours.” Aldric had spent hundreds of hours perfecting that voice; only the slightest hint of distortion indicated that the words came from anything other than a woman with a very sexy Australian accent. He tended to look around for her when he was tired or distracted.

“Do you think you could have cut that any closer?” Margaret asked.

Aldric smiled and shrugged his shoulders. “Possibly,” he said, “but that would have been reckless don’t you think?” He laughed and turned to the other man in the room. “Evan, you weren’t worried were you?”

Evan Murray sat half-hidden by his desk. The shimmer of sweat covered his balding head and his eyes were wide open. “Worried is an understatement, Aldric. I think I pissed myself.” Evan stood and walked around the desk and said, “I think it is time to add one of us to the lock so that we can avoid this sort of thing.”

“But it is my baby,” Aldric said with a laugh. “I know you two love it as much as I do, but you’re both like my brother, Jacob. I love him, but I wouldn’t trust him with my life.” The head of Dark Side Experimental sat down on Margaret’s desk before he continued. “Seriously though, it is not about trust, at least not as far as you two are concerned. Everyone knows that I’m the only one who can reset the clock, so Chancellor Decker and Admiral Plotz both know that they gain nothing by taking you or your families.” Aldric looked at both of them in turn. “This is not about my control. It is about your safety.

Evan’s flinched as the words hit home. “You don’t think they would really–”

“I most certainly do, Evan,” Aldric said. “I think that if they could force the information out of us the Chancellor would stop the distribution of free electricity so that they could line their pockets with our hard work.” He walked through the room, spinning around slowly, with his arms spread apart. He laughed and continued. “And if the military got their hands on it, well, you know there would be a new batch of weapons that did more than stun people. The only thing that keeps us free is that little device and my finger.” He pointed at the genetic lock and a drop of blood fell from his finger.

“Not to make things any more gloomy, but what happens if you die?” Margaret asks.

Evan went pale, but Aldric smiled and said, “Well the lab explodes and the moon falls into chaos.” Aldric walked through the room to the locked liquor cabinet, reached into his pocket, and pulled an old-fashioned key for the mechanical lock. “So you see, it really is in everybody’s best interest to keep me alive.” He pushed the key into the lock and turned it. The satisfying click of the lock opening made him smile. “There is something to be said for beauty of simple things,” he whispered.

“What was that?” Margaret asked as she walked toward him.

“Nothing really,” he said as he reached into the cabinet and pulled out three glasses and a bottle of scotch. “I was just thinking out loud.”

“It’s a dangerous habit, talking to yourself,” she said as she stopped a little too close to him. It was the worst kept secret in the company that they were sleeping together. Aldric didn’t care and Margaret mistakenly thought it improved her standing within the company. The truth was she was just one more in a long string of subordinates that Aldric had bedded and their relationship would end like its predecessors: in tears.

Aldric poured himself a full glass, handed his two assistants their glasses and poured them each a half glass. “So now that the clock has been reset, shall we make our way to the basement and get some work done on the refinements?” They both nodded, so Aldric led them through the door and down the long flight of stairs to his secondary lab.

“What is the plan for today, Aldric?” Evan asked between sips. “Are we returning to the cooling system or the conversion chamber?” Evan hated the way Aldric bounced from project to project, but the man was a genius, and his boss, so he put up with it.

“Neither actually,” he said as he reached the landing at the bottom of the stairs. “I had an idea while I was trying to stay awake in that meeting.” He waited until they were both off the stairs and looking at him expectantly. “Today we’re going work on increasing output.”

Evan and Margaret looked at each other, then back to Aldric. “How can we increase output?” asked Evan. “The number say that we maxed the output two years ago; if we try squeezing any more out of the collapse it will cascade and it won’t matter whether you reset the clock or not.”

“I know all of that,” Aldric said, “but there has to be a way around it. Fifty years ago the idea of creating and collapsing a void for power wasn’t even on the radar of cutting edge science. Now look at it. Without that same technology there wouldn’t be a moon colony, much less three nations on the moon. We have to think of a way to get past this limit and I had a thought during the meeting that I think we should explore.”

“Okay, Aldric,” Margaret said, “let’s hear it.”

“Instead of creating a void,” Aldric paused for dramatic effect, a habit he enjoyed far too much, “let’s create a whole dimension and collapse it.”

Laughter erupted from both of Alrdic’s assistants. “You’re kidding, right?” Evan asked. “Extra-dimensional space has never been conclusively proven to exist.”

“Yet it is widely accepted that it does exist,” Aldirc said with a smile. “We’re going to prove it exists and then use it to create enough free power to keep the moon and the earth itself running in perpetuity.”

“You are serious aren’t you?” asked Margaret.

“Completely.” Aldric submitted himself to the battery of scans and probes required to open the door to the basement lab before walking into the decontamination area. He waited for the others to go through the same ritual before he hit the button that filled the room with antiseptics, electrical neutralizers and a low grade radioactive cleanse. “Now let me show you what I’m thinking.”

Aldric opened the door to his personal lab and led his assistants inside. The room was large and filled with the most expensive equipment to be anywhere in the solar system. Aldric had given the moon free power, but he had sold the government all of the equipment needed to make the power flow throughout the lunar power grid, and he had made them pay dearly for it. He was the wealthiest man on the moon and could have retired with what he had, but more than money and power drove him. Aldric wanted to crack the secrets of the universe and use them to propel humanity into the far reaches of space.

Evan and Margaret hung up their coats and sat at the work-table in the center of the room while Aldric pulled up the wall mounted touch screen. He was silent as he made cryptic notations in the lower right hand corner of the screen, drew large pictures in the middle and wrote down a series of equations down the left side. The two assistants took it all in as he worked. At first they were confused, but the more Aldric wrote, the more they began to understand. “He really is a little scary isn’t he,” Evan whispered.

“Very scary is more like it,” Margaret whispered back.

 

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100 Word Challenge, Day 295


100 Word Challenge

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

Margaret surveyed her surroundings and laughed to herself. She had been in the visitor room before, but as the host, not the guest and it felt completely different. She knew that she was being monitored, and she suspected that there were armed guards nearby. Aldric had always been a little paranoid, and the new security precautions she had noted in the hall indicated that he had taken it up a notch in her absence. It was not all that surprising really. Margaret could not imagine how he had ever survived without her calming influence. It must have been dumb luck.

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