The next big step was easier then the first. The actual shell did not need to be increased in size beyond what it would take to get in to the shell. If Kagami wanted to put a piece of equipment that was five inches by five inches inside, the opening in the shell had to be at least five by five. On the inside, he could increase the size almost at will, so he could put as many five by five boxes as he wanted. Making the inside larger was easier than making the outside larger, it was not without pitfalls, but was much less difficult then creating the first shell. As a result, both Kagami and Speil were able to work on multiple aspects of the plan simultaneous. Exactly the way a holistic engineer wanted it to be.

“How far can the particle pairs be from one another in order to attract and destroy one another?” Speil voiced the unspoken question that both he and Kagami had been theoretically describing.

The older professor stepped back from a board full of formulae and figures. “It still needs the vacuum effect. If we treat a vacuum as if it is not void of all material, but rather the sum of all material and anti-material in a given area is zero, particles cancel out anti-particles.” He tapped the board with the eraser, “We could consider it to be like the air around us. The vacuum is full of anti-air, and what is the reactionary distance between the molecules and atoms making up the anti-air?”

Speil was seated at the lab table across from the board with a pile of books opened to his right, papers scattered in front of him, and a laptop to his left. He started typing on the computer. “There used to be a name for it, back when the earth was still the center of the universe.” Both men chuckled while Speil searched. “Beyond the atmosphere, where the moon and stars were held in place suspended in aether,” he read from the screen.

“Naming it is the small part of the battle. We still have to find the distance.”

Shifting his attention from the computer to the board, Speil stood. He walked to the board and pointed to the sketch they had started with. “If one piece of aether cancels another, and it has a reactionary distance of ‘r’ would two aethers have a ‘2r’ distance, or an exponential relationship?”

Realizing where he was headed with this train of thought, Kagami picked it up, “We need to not only concentrate on one particle of aether, but an entire vacuum of aether. The ‘r’ is related to the amount of aether trying to cancel itself out. Is it proportional or inversely proportional to the distance? Is it linear, logarithmic or exponential? We’ve been thinking to hard about the subject. Why use differential equations when geometry can get you the answer?”

A major innovative breakthrough occurs as a series of smaller, but oftentimes no less major breakthroughs. The Sinduraj Program was no exception, and had begun to take one more step from the heretical theory first proposed towards the actual practice it was to become. As light dawned again on the intrepid explorers, they took a renewed vigor toward their work well into the night.


Allman was flying blind. In more ways than one.

The Danegeld had no windows; not even an imitation viewscreen like so many science fiction movies and television shows had on board their deep space roving ships. If he desired, Allman could pull up a view from the camera in the nose to the monitor he used for all his computing, but why bother? He could not see it just as he could not see anything inside the Danegeld.

After he had brushed his teeth and went to sleep, Allman woke up blind. Of course, he did not recall brushing his teeth only that he did not know where his toothbrush was. He still knew the inside of the ship like the back of his hand, which was good, but he could no longer see.

Floating from the sleeping area to the main room, he alighted in his chair and reached for the keyboard activating the voiceover functions. Everything that would show on the screen would be spoken. To Allman it was one long night after another. The computer voice may have been Majel Barrett, but to him it was Scheherazade. The flight had turned into one thousand and one nights of story after story.

The first time he sat down after waking up unable to see he was startled to find that the onboard repair robots were furiously working. It was almost as if the machines had gone on strike and had not fixed anything for some time. A fuzzy memory in the back of his mind struggled to come forward. Had he shut them down temporarily? The computer told him that he was nearly eight light minutes off course. There was no up or down, north or south, left or right on his journey, only on course or not. The Danegeld worked overtime to reconfigure his course and get him back on track.

Again, frustration set in to his mind. Why had he come on this trip? Was it just the “No Buck Rogers, no bucks” reasoning that had been used since the early days of the Mercury program? Had he needed to actually do something along the way he could be further off course, but Allman was just along for the ride. The computer told him that he had finally gotten back on course. What he heard was that thanks to nothing he had done, everything he had undone was redone.[ Me , 5/13/17, 10:31

Confusing, need to reword or eliminate]

By now, he was used to the inability to see. But the funk he was in over why he had come had created a depression in him that made it hard to function at times. There was never really anything to do, and every so often, he did not do it. He stayed in bed with the lights down, dozing off and on. He could not tell if he was asleep and dreaming or awake at times.

In his dreams, he was able to interact with other people. Having never really had the desire to do it was one reason he had taken the mission, having the desire for other human contact was an odd sensation. The dreams of earth allowed him to wake with a smile on his face. A smile that quickly faded once he failed to see the interior of the Danegeld, but the dreams that included the interior of the Danegeld were nightmares he just as soon would rather not have. Until the day she showed up.

Having a complete database of nearly every book, movie and television show ever completed allowed Allman to peruse the most obscure, out of the mainstream view. Tonight had been one of those evenings, but he had gone to bed because it had depressed him. The film was in bad condition and looked almost as if it had been colored by someone digitally well after the movie had been shot. That fact was not important to a blind man. The dialog was nearly as bad. Not knowing how much of the movie would need to be visual, it was a welcome break when the dream, she, walked in.

Most of Allman’s dreams when he saw the inside of the Danegeld were nightmares, even though in them he could see. This time he could not see, so he knew he was still in the ship. But if she were here, could it be real? Allman was literally light years away from anyone else. It must be a dream, but why could he not see?

She spoke; her voice was dreamy and dripped with pleasure. Or was it just his lack of human contact that made him think so? No matter, his overactive other senses that compensated for the loss of his sight felt and sensed her. After his initial surprise at her appearance, the company was comforting. Having her to narrate the visual parts of the movie was helpful.

So he watched it again with her. The movie took place during the War to End all Wars. The fact that it had not ended any wars was a fact not lost on Allman, but the main character had been involved in a battle and left without arms or legs and no face. Having no way else to communicate, Johnny had taken to shaking his body in Morse Code, but the doctors believed it to be a form of epileptic seizure, and sedated him when he tried to get their attention. Like Allman, he could mostly tell his dreams from the awakened world because he could communicate and walk around in the dream. This was not always the case, but often. In one scene, Johnny met a carpenter that suggested ways to get out of his living predicament. The carpenter had many answers, but none of them seemed helpful to Johnny. There were no legs to run away on, no arms to commit suicide with, no voice to ask for mercy, no eyes to plead for help with. Had she not been there, he would never have known that throughout the conversation, the carpenter made coffins. The toll the war was taking was such that even in dreams it had an effect.

Johnny finally had someone recognize the rhythmic movements and was able to tell the doctors he wanted to become a sideshow freak, traveling the world for everyone to see the no-arms, no-legs, no-face man who would be king. The doctors laughed. Their desire to see how long a man could live without the ability to interact with others drove their masochistic experiment and they ignored his wishes. His previous desire, indeed oath, to serve his country was the only justification they needed, or wanted, to prolong his agony in the name of science. Paradoxically, they were extending his life to find ways to keep him from dying so they might duplicate it. The search for eternal life was a calling, a devotion; some even treated it with the respect due a religion.

The movie closed with a scene that Allman could understand only because she was there to explain it. A nurse took pity on Johnny, and came to cut off his tubes. He was on his last breath as a doctor came in and stopped her. As Johnny’s body sputtered back to life the nurse was led away and Johnny was wheeled into a closet to continue his sideshow freak life for the pleasure of the doctors.

She stayed well after the movie. In many ways Allman almost felt like she had taken on the role of the carpenter in his own get your gun movie, except she did not try to get him to end things, she showed him what there was to live for. She spoke of a world far away, full of the best of everything. Not only the best of everything Allman had ever had, a best so good the best he had ever had would pale, not even be on the same plane of existence as he had seen.

On into the evening the two talked. They spoke of everything imaginable under the sun and then some. Allman fell asleep, an odd activity if it had been a dream, and dreamed a more normal dream. One where he could see and he kept looking for the woman who had visited.

When he awoke the memory of her visit lingered. Had she been there or not? Frustration again set upon Allman. It was going to be one of those days.


Senator Lear did not have the aptitude for holistic engineering, but she did have vision, and like her mother, was able to shed some interesting light on things. Professor Kagami had an ability to speak to people at the level they understood, while she did understand more than most, he still had to ‘dumb it down’ for her. “So certain particles in the aether are more reactive then others, and the distance they interact with one another change depending on the amounts of each type.”

The Senator contemplated what she had been told, then asked, “So there could be a distance that is too far for interaction, but more than likely that distance is affected by other particles in the vicinity?”

“That is why we need a full scale test in a complete vacuum instead of just our manufactured vacuums. We can coat the shells with aether and move them from one side of the campus to the other effectively, but if we want to use it for more efficient travel from planet to planet or further we must test it full scale.” The search for more funding was well underway, but there was still no grand unifying concept to engage global support yet. This could provide it.

Walking around the table covered with drawings, papers, and mock up models, Senator Lear mused aloud, “You electro-magnetically attach the aether, and transmit the anti-half of the aether to the opposite vacuum effectively on a terrestrial level, but need more research on an extra-terrestrial level? So it’s good for moving people or things around town?”

Kagami shot a quick glance at Speil, trying to understand where she was headed, “How far is our furthest test?”

Shuffling through a stack of papers, Speil answered, “The last tests I did while you were working on the compatibility of materials sent a shell from our facility to a test lab in North Carolina. We had an aide traveling to see an old professor and just tried it on a hunch. He had a receiving pad but no way to send anything back.”

“But with more funds you could do a full two way terrestrial test, right?” The Senator’s mind was working on something neither Kagami nor Speil grasped yet.

“Uh, yeah, depending on how far you’re wanting to test it. The volatility of the aether is still a bit of an issue, but let us worry about the details, what do you have in mind?” Kagami never had been one for beating around the bush.

Lear walked around the table while she talked. “You still haven’t tried any living organisms in the device yet, which is coming, of course, but until it does, this makes a great way to transport documents, goods, and devices from spot to spot. I’m envisioning a potential shipping network that could in turn fund itself and more research. Is the receiver still in North Carolina?”

Speil clicked a few keys on the computer and replied, “Yes it is, we actually didn’t have a way to get it back yet. Figured we could leave it up there for a few months anyway. We only have one way transmissions, but…Levi, did you finish that spare transmitter yet?”

“Almost, it needs a spatial recondenser adjustment. It being spare meant non-priority.” Kagami reached for his communicator and started punching a few buttons. “I’ll have Bill put one in while we build a bigger shell. Once we get that done, we’ll be sending our transmitter to the Carolinas via our receiver in the Carolinas. Funny thing is, it will take us longer to get a technician back up there then it will to get the device loaded and sent.”

While they talked, Speil had continued to work away, furiously, “Why do we need to stop there, can we not re-calibrate the aether transference apparatus and send it further along the way?”

“You’ve been itching to try that all along, haven’t you? You want to make the Carolina receiver a re-transmitter sending the shell even further, without having any device at the end.”

The two men had seemingly forgotten about the Senator and had moved on to matters that were more complex. She in turn watched their technical ramblings a few minutes, then pulled out her own communicator. Just as the cell phone revolutionized the phone industry leading to the smart phone technology and on to the communication devices that most everyone now had, they were plotting the next major evolution of transportation. She hoped for freight, planned on humans, and had her heart set on the stars. Whatever it takes to make it happen, keep on moving.


A frustrated Allman shoved himself out of the seat toward the next compartment. He purposely did it a bit faster then he should have, but it was too late to stop. Momentum carried him further then he intended and he knocked his head on the wall opposite the door. Now in physical pain as well as mental anguish, he simply pushed off the offending panel as he had the chair, launching across the room at the wrong speed again.

When he hit the next wall this time the panel fell off. He had been moving blindly through the ship for months, maybe even years now, and had never hit this particular panel. His other actions were all so well rehearsed after decades of reiterating them he did not need to see to do them. But now what would he do. He never had to fix the ship himself. The repair-bots only worked behind the walls, or on the exterior, he never had a wall panel fall off.

Still smarting from his temper-tantrum, he picked up the panel and ran his hands across it. The screws that attached it were now floating around so Allman reached for them leaving the panel to hang for a moment. It slowly turned as he blindly groped for the screws. Gathering them, he went back for the panel that had turned completely around now. The front was smooth, like all the walls, but the side he now grabbed was rough.

Running his hand across the rough side, he began to feel a pattern. Was it a message? The scratches felt like letters. With nothing better to do, Allman braced himself to keep from moving, and concentrated on the back of the panel. The panel had not been inscribed in a language friendly to sight-impaired people. It was not Braille, and even if it had been, Allman had never had any need to learn Braille. Tracing the letters was easy enough, even figuring out what they were, but the hard part was remembering their order.

Since he had nothing but time on his hands, there was no time to lose, and no time like the present for Allman to solve this mystery. Who had written this? Why was the panel loose, and how had he not literally stumbled across it before? How long had he been flying around? How much longer did he have to fly around?

An odd noise interrupted his musings. Adjusting towards the sound, he brought the panel with him and floated into the main compartment. Allman could not see it, because he could not see anything, but on the console, right next to the chronometers was a toothbrush.

The noise he had heard was the door opening. He had not realized it because he had not truly heard it before. It not repeating itself, because the toothbrush was already out, he was unable to trace it to the source. Instead, he used the computer to help recall the order of the letters on the panel.

Within a few minutes, he had recreated the letters he knew so far into a speaking program that read aloud the things he typed. As he determined a new letter, he would type it in. Each time he finished a word, the computer would speak it. Soon, he had the complete inscription, and made the computer read it to him.

After months of course corrections, major and minor repairs by all the robots, Allman was finally back on target, and had found the instructions he left for himself to find the glorious oddity that existed in the alcove. The blind Allman returned to the opening and poked his head in. An odd thing for a man who could not see to do, but a natural reaction. He was more cognizant of the aether crashing against the ship’s hull than ever before. Soothingly pleasing he listened for a full minute before feeling his way ahead.

At the point his head needed to rest, more marks were scratched with more letters. This time there were only single words, ‘Front’ and ‘Back” were etched on two supports. He finagled his way into the position and waited to see what would occur. A blind man had never before seen such a sight.

Even in his blinded state, Allman could tell that something was happening before his eyes. The tinkling of the aether was replaced by a swirling sound of aether. It mattered not whether Allman’s eyelids were open or closed, he was still just as blind, but as he blinked, he realized that he could feel warmth, and unless his mind was playing tricks on him, he could see a brighter spot in front of him.

The spot was circular, and grew. He shifted his head, and the brightness disappeared. Putting his head back, it reappeared. A curious action, he began to experiment with. He looked to the right, no light, back left, light. Looked up, no light, back down, light. Looked down, no light, back up, light. He looked left, no light, back right, light. He shut his eyes, now he could feel the light in front of his face, not just sense it. He shook his head and opened his eyes.

The globe was gone. His Adonai had disappeared. And the power was on in the Danegeld. The lights burned brightly from just outside the panel he had crawled in through. Instinctively he turned to face that opening, and could clearly see the inside of the ship where he had been living for a time so long that even he could not remember. Light dawns on Marblehead.


Faith stirred on the couch as Abe pushed away from his terminal. “You spend all day glued to the monitor and then come home to bury yourself in front of it again? What is your obsession?” She queried sleepily.

A chuckle prefaced Abe’s response, “You think I’m obsessed? This from a woman who took a job to oversee an immense warehouse of documents just for the hope of stumbling over one, and then took a personal interest in that document so intense that you came on a trip without a clue as to how you would find a place to sleep in order to be able to find it. A document, which I might add, has seemingly no significance to anyone but you. Plans for a building that was destroyed so long ago that no one even remembers it. Hey kettle, this is the pot, guess what? You’re black.”

Gathering the blanket around her, Faith sat up with a smile, “Touché. We can all understand obsessions in ourselves; it’s obsession in others that throw us for a loop. You tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine.”

Abe pulled out the chair he had just pushed under the table and sat down. “The Allman Initiative. Ever heard of it?”

A puzzled look crossed her face as she shook her head. “Apparently at least as obscure as the Adonai I seek.”

“Um, okay, I guess you’ll get to that when I get done explaining. Back in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, there was a program designed to send a man to the first star we found that had a planet orbiting it. It was a massive undertaking involving the scientific community in one of the first, most successful thought sharing exercises conducted. What is commonplace now had yet to be done back then.

“The group created the first ship that could travel as fast as light, the Danegeld, and needed a warm body to put on the way to immortality and fame as the first traveler outside the solar system. I can tell by your expression that immortality didn’t last as long as the definition. Allman was his name, and the program was re-named after him. Before him, it had been known to the few that knew of its existence as the Palishakyas Program.

“Pali was another nickname for the ‘Sage of the Shakyas’ from even further back in antiquity of time. Maybe you know him as Siddhartha?” The blank stare from Faith told Abe she did not get the reference. “Basically he was a guy who sat around thinking about philosophic things so much that he ended up starting a following that turned into a religious cult. The idea was that Allman would have enough time on his hands to do the same thing.”

“Do you mean the Mann thing? I mean we use that system for almost everything now, right?”

Smiling, it was Abe’s turn to shake his head, “Neil Mann came along later. After the Allman fervor had died down. And yes, we use the stew out of those transporters, too. The elevator in this building is modeled after it. The Mann Program had similar intent, though not the same focus. Matter of fact, it was rumored that one of the original masterminds of the Allman project came up with the Mann idea. Some even said he worked on it, but it was so long after he would have been incredibly old to do that. He could have come up with the idea, but not the work.

“Allman is still up there, traveling to a world that only he doesn’t know is devoid of life. I did some work on inserting the plans for the Danegeld. It caught my eye, and I started looking into it.” He started pulling up a file to show her, turning the monitor to where she could see it. “There is almost one third of the ship that the plans concealed. Something in the Allman Initiative was so secret that it has yet to be revealed. But I am waiting on it. Trying to figure out what is so well hidden even after all these years.”

He pulled up the drawing and showed the schematic of the Danegeld. “The bit I’ve been working on is the closest I can get to that side of the wall in the ship until those plans are available. No one else knows it exists anymore. Just little ole me. Well, you and me. That’s the short story. What’s yours?” He crossed his arms and leaned back in the chair.

She was staring at the screen intently, desiring an understanding of Abe’s motivation. “Well, you are about to be the only one besides me to know of my obsession, too. Like yours, it goes back to the late twentieth century, as you may have already guessed.

“There was an author named Borges, who never quite gained the attention he deserved literary-wise. Many of the stories he wrote blurred the lines between reality and fantasy. No one could tell where one ended and the other started. He wrote one story about a man, Pierre Menard, who wanted to re-write Don Quixote, not simply re-tell the story, he wanted to experience life as Cervantes had, and duplicate verbatim the story. When it came out the story garnered a stir in Spanish literary circles, but not much else. It was chalked up to the imagination of the author.

“What I seek is from another work of the same author’s. I believe it to exist, because I stumbled across a fragment of Pierre Menard’s manuscript. He nailed Quixote. At least the first chapter. It wasn’t a fantastic creation in Borges’ mind. My career has not been spent stumbling around the bureaucratic confines of Argentina. I have spent my life chasing incredible occurrences chronicled in stories that actually exist. Menard is just one instance. Someone else discovered the Nautilus of Jules Verne. Reading about that was the introduction to me to start searching myself.

“Back to Borges, he told of another author, Carlos Daneri, who had penned a poem of epic proportions.”

Abe interrupted, “It’s his house. Are you looking for his poem?”

“No, I found that. It’s how he wrote the poem. Borges told of being locked in the basement, where Daneri found his muse. There was an anomaly that required several exact criteria to be met in order to be seen. No light, no distractions, he had to put his head in a particular location, neither deviating right nor left, up nor down. It was so precise that you could not use so much as a pillow beneath your head as you lay there staring at the point below the stairs.

“Daneri never finished his grand work, because he was forced from the house before he could. He was so secretive of it, that he couldn’t even tell anyone why he wanted to document the house so meticulously, but he wanted to be able to find it again someday. Before he could get to it, another war broke out, the plans were buried and he died. But Borges remembered. And it stayed buried until the government decided to join the rest of the world in the paperless society we had all become.

“It’s the anomaly I seek. The real trouble is that you don’t know which tales were true and which ones were truly just works of fiction. Part of me wanted to believe that Menard was Borges’ swan song of truth stranger the fiction stories, but being in Buenos Aires I took a chance on a whim to look. I was nearly at the point of giving up and moving on to the next search when the update on the data insertions came that told me you had found the house plans. That instance I knew that there could be no other explanation for the plans existing unless the story was true. Now it is taunting me, haunting me, teasing my belief in its existence, hiding still within sight.”

Abe had long ago begun to think on multiple paths concurrently, and was doing so while Faith spoke, “What did the anomaly do? I mean, have we already found it and just don’t know it? What does it look like?”

Faith stood, “That’s part of the problem, it wasn’t described well, only what it did. It was a point that existed and contained all other points. Anything and everything could be seen by the Adonai as it was known.”

He wrinkled his brow at her, “Add an eye?”

“No,” she chuckled, “Adonai, he once called it the Aleph because it was the first letter of an alphabet.”

“But it could look like anything?” Abe ran to where he had left his jacket when they came in and started digging through his pocket. He fished out a piece of paper and showed it to Faith, “Does it look like this?”

He handed her the paper, walked back to the computer, and pulled up a fresh search page. “I have no clue,” she answered as she handed the page back.

Furiously looking at the screen, he held the paper up to it and said, “I think we may have found it!” Faith looked at what he had opened. The emblem on the paper matched crudely the symbol on the screen. The screen labeled it ‘alef’ the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It was the strange emblem that came and went on the plans.

And in the wiring diagram of the Danegeld.


Rarely did Kagami get an opportunity to truly be alone to sit and think. Speil continued to think of it as evolutionizing but the remainder of the world considered it revolutionizing and had since Senator Lear unveiled their new transport devices. Unfortunately for his privacy, someone was always trying, and usually getting in, to see him. It was not a mousetrap, but still the world beat a path to his door. Kagami knew it was far from over, in fact, it was only the beginning. There were miles to go before he rested, but an old friend had called. One whose privacy had become the opposite of what he had once had. As he sat in his office, waiting on his visitor his mind began to wander on to bigger and greater things. It was time to reveal to Speil of the exact parameters of the search for the next Allman.

A slight knock on the door was followed quickly by it opening and a small, diminutive man slipping in. He shut the door as quickly and quietly as he had opened it. Turning he faced Kagami, “Levi, it’s been quite some time.”

Kagami took Otto Rotcod’s outstretched hand to shake it, “Yes it has. I had almost begun to believe like everyone else that you had gone gently into that sweet goodnight.” He waved to offer a chair to his old mentor and friend.

“Yes, most would have expected that by now. Part of why I haven’t gone out in the last few years. Well, decades really. I received enough money from Palishakyas to last several lifetimes, and decided to make it my next great experiment to figure out just how many.” Otto had never liked calling it Allman, and was not about to start now.

Both men sat before Kagami spoke, “To what do I owe this honor, Otto? Surely you didn’t come just to catch up, and we both know you aren’t here to help me figure out my next problem.” The breakup of their mental dream team had left him bitter.

“No, neither of those. It is a word of warning. You are getting up there, as was I when I slipped out of the limelight. It has been quite some time. We obscured both our backgrounds halfway through the program so no one would really know how long we had been at it, but you are running out of time. If you continue at the pace you are going, someone will begin to ask. Could be your young apprentice. The human body was not meant to last forever, and everyone knows it.” Rotcod’s appearance was that of a shriveled old man, but his handshake, his voice, and his logic was as strong as someone much younger.

Kagami pointed at the picture of the two of them with Allman, “Do you remember when that was taken?”

Turning in the chair, he saw the photo, “As if it were yesterday.”

“That, was when we had it all laid out. The point of it all was not to reach the stars. Immortality. You got yours, but you denied me my chance. I don’t know how you did it, more test runs? The trip to Saturn? I never got that chance. You denied my shot at immortality and then you took almost all the stage. Even my fifteen minutes of fame was cut short, except to the nerds who wanted to follow in our footsteps.

“You didn’t like the thought of me exceeding the level you achieved. Clearly, you still don’t. Heresy you called my new idea. Well look at it now. It isn’t heresy if it works. I proved it, and now with my apprentice by my side I will take it on to exceed your work.

“Unlike you, I will let Speil join me. What I achieve will be shared. And to top it off, when I master our technology, we will hunt down Allman wherever he is and outfit his ship with new sensors. All the things that have come up since he left will be done yet by him.

“Your grand achievement will become a forgotten first step on the way to a newer method of interstellar travel. All will desire and be able to get the immortality you kept from me.” Anger coursed through Kagami’s veins. The nerve of the old man, wanting him to stop now.

Calmly Otto allowed him to vent all his pent up energy. “Levi, you are one hundred and fifteen years old. No matter how many people think you are only eighty. Humans fail, they fall off. Your mind is still strong; you can still do it, no doubt. I’m not here to tell you to stop trying. My point is that you need to take a lesser role, at least as far as others see. You stopped teaching classes five years ago. Bow out of the public eye. Let your man Speil appear to take over.

“The one thing we cannot afford is for anyone to start poking around in our pasts. Yours or mine. If you continue, they will. Few know what truly happened in the Palishakyas Program. Cloning humans is more illegal now then it was when we did it. Even when we planned it, we couldn’t imagine the uproar that would have come out if anyone outside the program knew we were using the dead bodies to re-fuel everything about the ship. No one would think that was ‘green’ of us. That was and is an inhumane activity. The fact that it was the only way is immaterial.

“Step aside, not out. Slip away, in public if not private. Immortality is not all it’s cracked up to be, but if you insist on trying it go ahead. Just remember, there’s no way to end it.” He stood and walked to the door.

“Levi, our Dane is still being paid, but if the world finds out how, you and I will be the ones to pay, not Alfred the Unwise, not Ernest, us. The world already thinks I’m gone. Join me or you’ll wish you had.”

After he opened the door, Rotcod paused then scanned the hall. Coming so late after hours between semesters had minimized interactions as much as possible. Seeing that the hall was empty, Rotcod left the room and disappeared.

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