He dragged his hand across the metal wall. Too many years had passed for him to count. Too many friends had been lost. However, he was finished. His greatest work, his ‘Mona Lisa’, his ‘great wall’; was finally completed. All the years for prep, all the sleepless nights, and all the long hours had finally come to an end.
He walked down the barren hall wall. His hand followed the welding that kept the walls segments together. It was hard to believe that half a foot away, on the other side of the wall, was the cold vacuum of space. He continued down the hall stopping to check a calibration ever so many feet. He could have spent the rest of his life checking calibrations, but his investors did not like when he procrastinated. It had taken many years for it to be ready and they wanted to see it work. He had been able to stall them long enough by telling them what would happen if something failed.
Without warning, the intercom flared up snapping him out of his trance. It was like a cold bucket of water hitting a sleeping man. He was about to shout at the person to be quiet, until he realized that he was alone. He looked at his watch and blinked. He removed his glasses and, using his shirt, cleaned the lenses. Putting his glasses back on, he looked at his watch again.
“Forty-five minutes to go.” he whispered to himself. The intercom flared up again, but this time he heard what it said.
“Doctor Bruax. It is almost time for the test fire. The General is waiting for you, too.” the voice said.
The doctor sighed and started to head towards the transport shuttle. He started to don his space suit. Compare to the old suits used before man had set foot on Mars, the doctor’s was very slim and form fitting. The suit had protective plates at key locations on the body, which gave it more of an armor look. The red details stood out on the white cloth. The suit had been a gift from his last assistant. Compared to the rest of his team, the suit was out of date, but it had a vintage feel. That was why his last assistant bought it for him; she thought it was a perfect fit for his old school personality.
He had reached the hatch door, which lead to the shuttle, around the time he was putting his gloves on. He stopped to stare at his left hand, which he did a lot. The robotic device was a grim reminder of what could go wrong in the best case scenario. He shook his head, trying to prevent the painful memories, and slipped on his glove. He grabbed his helmet and slipped it on.
Images started to appear on the inside of its visor. His eyes darted from one to another. When the suit told him that is was sealed and ready for space, all the figures turned green. With a heave, he pushed open the door. The opened to an air lock. When the door was closed behind him, a red light started to flash. A “friendly” female voice repeated a standard phrase, which basically covered safety regulations of using and air lock and the current status of the pressure.
When the pressure had finally reached that of the outside, the red light stopped flashing. The doctor opened the door. In front of his was his shuttle, without even a pause to look at his surroundings. He hopped on board the shuttle, and without delay, it took off.
As the shuttle flew to the observation craft, the doctor watched his device. Its silver color stood out to the red and green nebula behind it. It looked like a massive cross with a circle around the middle, at least from the doctor’s angle. It was truly a majestic sight, worthy enough for any post card. Someday it might just be on a post card. This thought that brought the doctor a flicker of joy, which was quickly extinguish when he remembered what his device did.
He spared no time when the shuttle docked with the observation craft. He waited in the air lock as the woman repeated herself over and over. She drove the doctor insane. To his joy, her voice was cut off by the intercom telling him where to go. Which he half ran half walked to; ignoring every ones good luck wishes. He quickly ran to his personal room and got changed into his formal gown. His clothes made him look like a man for the Victorian time period mixed with early design of a robot. His old assistant would always laugh when she saw him dressed like that. She would comment on the fact he had no idea that this was a style back in the twenty-first century called ‘steam-punk’. He sighed and checked his watch. His eyes widen. It would take him only a few minutes to reach the observation room, but he would have to run. So run he did.
The room looked like a conference room. At the far end of the room was a window that stared out onto the nebula and his device; above the windows where ten television screens and a larger monitor. The ten televisions showed the status of his device, such as energy flow and resonance. The large monitor showed a local star system. The system consisted of a white dwarf and six planets.
There were several rows of chairs, each row had twenty some seats. Every chair in the room was filled by high ranking officers, government officials, and a few big business companies. Lining the walls of the room where reports for all different kinds of media. Each and every one of them where trying to get there questions answered.
The doctor had to push through the thickest part of the crowd. He got an elbow to the back more than once, as well as several nasty glares. It took him a full five minutes to reach a small podium in the front of the room. A man was standing behind the metal podium, yelling at the reports. The man was large in heights and equator. He sounded as if he was waiting for someone to say something he did like, just so he could shoot them. He wore the typical military uniform. The green combined with his body shape always remind the doctor of a head of lettuce. This was the general that had been following the doctor’s progress since the beginning.
When the general saw the doctor, the general’s attitude did a complete three-sixty. He ran, which was more of a waddle, over to the doctor. Without even an introduction, the general pulled the doctor to the podium and returned to his seat. This surprised the doctor; he never thought the general could take just one seat.
Within seconds, the doctor was swarmed with questions. Every time he tried to answer one, another report would interrupt him; before that one could even finish asking, another report would scream out a question. The noise quickly grew to the point where the doctor could not even hear himself think. The doctor raised his left hand, the robotic one, and brought it crashing down on the podium. The crash was loud enough to be heard, even with all the noise.
Every one stared at him, wide eyed and in disbelief. He had damage the podium beyond repair. The doctor waited to make sure no one was going to talk before he spoke up.
“You are worse than half the classes I have taught. At least they knew when to shut up and be quiet. Now let me begin. If you stay quiet long enough, maybe you will learn something.” The doctor said as he pulled out a small projector. It projected a hologram of the device. He placed the projector on to the ruined podium and then continued, “This is Project Humanity. Or, as I have come to call it, Harbinger. It uses the power of unstable stars to overload over stars. In a simplified way, this is a Super Nova Gun. It is composed of three major sections.”
The doctor pressed a button on the projector and the three separate sections. Each time he would mention a section, the corresponding section would highlight.
“These three sections are the gyro, the containment zone, and the barrel. The large spherical section is the containment zone. In my first designs, this was a hollow sphere… But every time the star would form, all the equipment would melt due to the buildup of heat. That is why we substituted the sphere for the four arm design. This allows us to contain the star but let it still give off the heat. This would be no go if we can’t make a star. That is what the gyro is for…”
“Doctor, doesn’t it take millions of years for a star to form?” a reporter interrupted him.
Before the reporter could react, a piece of chalk nailed him right between the eyes. Everyone looked at the report and then back to the doctor. The doctor was readying another piece of chalk for whoever spoke up next.
“Any of you other bosh'tets want to ask a question?” the doctor asked as he waited. When he got no reply, he continued his presentation, “That is a good question though. Just learn to raise your hand. Yes, a star needs millions of years to form. That is if it is a stable star. We need an unstable star. This is why we built it in nebula. There is plenty of gas to make stars. We just needed a way. After many nights of… restless arguing, we agreed that the gyro would work best. It works much like a gyroscope. The rings spin to give us an effect. Gyroscopes use the spinning to stay up; we use it to make the gasses spin. This is much like a regular star’s formation. However, when we start to see a star begin to form, we activate the second ring. The second ring makes gas spin in another direction. This makes the star grow fast and unstable. It’s like have another star form inside the first. That is when a third ring activates. The third ring just makes the stars growth irregular. All this spinning, in different directions, makes the star so unstable that is barely holds the spherical shape. This is where the barrel comes in. The barrel uses the same principle as a rail gun. With ours however, eight magnets pull the stars matter and focuses it into a beam. When this beam hits another star, the target star is over whelmed and goes boom. There are a few problems though. As of now, we can only over load white dwarves. Now does anyone have questions?”
No one raised their hands. The doctor felt proud. He had answered every one of their questions. After a minute, one of the reporters raised their hand.
“Yes, what is your question?”
“I’m sorry. Can you clarify who ‘we’ is? Do you mean you and your team? Or was there another?” asked the report. The voice was female, which surprised the doctor. He had seen all the reporters’ names before today. He had check every names and found out that the whole list was male. The doctor shrugged it off as a simple mistake. He hesitated to answer the question, but finally did, “We are the inventors of this device. My first assistant and I, that is. Her name was Dr. Cesetpa Tarali.”
“What ever happened to his Dr. Tarali?” the same reporter asked.
“Dr. Tarali and I got into a meaningless fight over the… firing code. She thought my code was too… 'unsecure'. I thought hers was… unpractical. After a few days of arguing, she left the project. I think she is now working for some other doctor back on the home world, Earth.”
“What do you plan on doing with your life now that you are done with this device?” again, it was the same reporter.
The doctor was about to chuck a piece of chalk at the reporter, but what she had asked made him think. He had waste so many years on this project. He had thought this day would never come. He had lost everything that mattered to him now this journey.
“It was like the journey to kill a dragon. After the dragon kills everything that matters to you, you find out he is allergic to gold and silver.” he whispered to himself. There was a long pause before another reporter raised his hand, “Doctor, when are you going to fire this device of yours.”
The doctor looked over to general, and the general nodded. The doctor grabbed the projector and into a few minutes. A siren rang throughout the craft. Finally a voice came from the projector, “Please input firing codes.” It was the same voice that that air locks used.
The doctor sighed, and then took a deep breath. He exhaled spoke loud a clear,
“Alpha Code: 01010100.” Everyone watched as the first ring began to spin. It was slow at first, but it began to pick up speed. After fifteen minutes of waiting, a blinding light cane from the center of devise. A light shield dropped over the window, allowing everyone to watch without fear of going blind.
Another fifteen minutes passed before the voice came back, “Star confirmation.”
The doctor closed his eyes. With another deep breath, he spoke loud and clear, “Mu Code: 01100001.” The second ring began to move. This time it was seconds before it happened. The star went for being small to a massive red giant.
The voice returned, “Star instability: 25.398%.” The doctor opened his eyes and without hesitation input the next code, “Beta Code: 01101100.” The third ring began to spin. Everyone watch, but the doctor, in amazement. The star’s surface because to warp and twist. It was forming all sorts of weird shapes. Well everyone watched the star, the doctor thought about his past and what he had to sacrifice.
He rubbed his metal hand. He started to debate if the end would justify the journey. His previous statement rang in his head like a church bell. It was like the journey to kill a dragon. After the dragon kills everything that matters to you, you find out he is allergic to gold and silver. No matter how he looked at it, the statement held true. The end would never be worth the journey.
“Star instability: 65.531%.” the voice announced to the group. Everyone was at the edge of their seats, wondering what the doctor’s next code would do. The doctor’s voice carried the pain caused by the mental he waged on himself. His words were no louder than a whisper, but the echoed in the dead silent room, “Eta Code: 01110011.”
“Charging barrel. Star’s current instability is 77.198%. Star will be fired when instability reaches approximately 95.000%. Please input the firing confirmation code to continue; failing to do so will activate auto shut down.” the voice said.
With a very painful sigh, the doctor stated the last code, “Rho Code: 01101001.”
“Firing code accepted. Firing will commence in 10 seconds. 10…” the voice said. It started to count down. The doctor could hear each syllable of very number. He could smell the cheap colon and musky smell that filling the room. He felt the tear run down his cheek forming a stream behind it, and then collecting before if falling off his face. He tried to blink away any more, but each blink felt like he had fallen asleep and woke to a new, and lonelier, day.
With each blink came a new and more painfully memory of what he had given up to get where he was now. He remembered turning down his dream job to able to work on the device himself. The many friends that felt him on his pursuit of materials followed. The accident which took his hand was next. They were finished with a memory of the only person he had ever loved.
He returned with from his dream world just in time to see his device firing. The star was pulled towards the barrel. The moment the star’s material entered the barrel, it was projected down the barrel and out at a speed even the doctor found surprising. The once unstable star was now a massive column of matter flying through space.
Everyone turned to the monitor and patiently for the climax. It was not long before the column entered the system and was drawn in by white dwarf. By the doctor’s calculation, it would a minute or two before anything really started to happen. The group waited quietly, leaning forward as if they were going to miss some small detail that would be important for later.
Like clock-work, the white dwarf started to change around two minutes. At first, the changes where subtle; but with each passing second, they grew more noticeable. Then came the moment they had all been waiting for; the white dwarf went super nova. The screen flashed white and every one cheered. The reports started their stores right there, each wanting to be the first to report on the device.
The general invited everyone into another room where they had champagne. Everyone flooded over to the room for either an interview with the, now drunk, general or for a drink themselves. The doctor, however, stayed in the room. He turned to face the window. He stood there thinking about everything. It was over for him and his only regret was that his assistant was standing there by his side. He knew the government would soon pay his a massive amount of money for the patent to his design. He had planned to use this money to buy an engagement ring for his lab assistant.
He sighed and continued to stare at his life work. He thought what the creator of the atomic bomb would tell him. Would the man scold him for making a weapon like this; or would the two men laugh and joke with one another. A smile crawled across his face at the thought about having tea with the man. The thought of two of them comparing notes was funny. Then the doctor’s smiled vanished as he remembered how his assistant and he use to do it every morning before the workers came.
Suddenly, the doctor heard someone enter the room. He did not turn around. He hoped the person would leave after seeing he was alone, but to his dismay they did not leave. They came closer, the opposite of what the doctor wanted. He was about to ask the person to leave, when the person spoke, it was the female reporter from before, “May I have an interview with the man who made this incredible device?”
The doctored sigh, finally he answered her with a nodding of his head.
“Thank you. Do you mind if I ask you some questions about your assistant?”
The doctor bit his lip trying to counter his sadness with pain. He nodded again; he tried to regain his composure. He was able to regain enough to speak normally. He did not regain it enough to be able to turn around and look at the reporter.
“How long has it been since you have seen her?”
“Five years. Give or take a few months.”
“How much do you remember about her?”
“I remember her face… and her laugh.”
“Have you heard from her since the break up?”
“Yes. I recently got an invitation to her wedding.”
“Are you going to go?” she asked. Her voice rose as if she was expecting him to say yes.
“No. How could I? No. I can’t even bring myself to apologize, yet alone look at her. She wants me to be the ‘Butler of Honor’. She insists of calling every male maid of honor that.”
“Oh. I’m sorry I brought it up.” she said with sadness in her voice.
The doctor looked out the window into the emptiness of space. “It’s okay. How could you have known? Is there anything else?”
“Just one thing, your code… Whose name is it?”
“It’s the name…” the doctor stopped. He went from staring out the window to looking at the refection of the room. It was just her and him, no one else. No camera. No camera man. No anyone. He could tell she wasn’t recording the conversation, and she wasn’t writing. The doctor’s gaze left the reflection and returned to space, which now felt colder than ever. He sighed. He took a deep breath. “I’m sorry.” he replied.
“What for?” she asked. She did not realize that he knew.
“You were right. If you could get in… then my codes are too un-secure.”
This time it was her who sighed. She walked forward and joined him in staring out into space. A few minutes of silence passed, which she finally broke, “I know you too well. Any code, even a random one, you make; I will be able to break through. So, what tipped you off?”
“At first it was the fact you asked the name. But a lot of people use names as passwords. What tipped me off was the fact you could understood that it was a name in binary. A language few even knew back when all the computers used it. Now… no one has ever heard of binary. It was removed from the dictionary around the twenty-fifth century.”
“Should have known… You did teach me it after all. But enough about the past… It will be the future in just a few minutes. So let’s talk about that. You never did answer me.” She said as she turned to look at his face. To her surprise, he was crying.
He did not face her. He just closed his eyes and spoke slowly, trying to hide the pain in his voice, “The future is always a few minutes away. And what’s there to talk about. I told you. I can’t go. A man can only be reminded of his greatest mistake so much before there is nothing left of him.”
They stood there in silence for several minutes before she relieved that she was not going to get anything else from him. With a sigh she head for the door. She stopped at the door. “If you would have asked me back… I would have said yes. That’s why I came in the first place. I was hoping we could put it behind us. As for the wedding… Check the groom’s name.” she said hoping for a reply. When she got nothing, she opened the door. With another minute of silence, she left closing the door behind her. She left him alone in the room.
When the door closed, the room shuck slightly. The tremor ran across the floor and right to him. As it traveled up this body, his right knee gave out under his wait. He body fell to the floor. He landed on his back, but he still stared out into the cold darkness of space, and to his device. Now just a large lifeless husk of cold metal, doomed to float alone in the empty reaches of space.
- Title: The Device
- Artist: Yahagi Sheibi
This is a story I wrote from my fiction class. Umm. For the Mass Effect fans. You may see some connections with the character Tali. That's because she is my favorite character, and I love the way her original (not the one in the game) name sounds. Also, I love the word bosh'tets. It's so awesome. I refuse to swear, unless I can use that one.
Please vote and comment. If it sucks, say it sucks.
- Date: 03/30/2012
- Tags: device space doctor star nova