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This chapter is provided as a preview. Anybody who wants to can access it for free at http://www.EastCoastGames.com .  We ask that no copies, physical or electronic; be lent or given.  Offering this portion of the novel is expressly prohibited.


Construction Office

Colonial Building Site


Monday, August 1st, 2016, 4:50 pm



      Samuel and Aaron sat down for their weekly progress meeting in one of the tents set up for construction work.  Jared joined them for the meeting.  The tent was basic, with a round table and some chairs.  It also had a cabinet.  The table was littered with design schematics of the colony.  There was a computer center on the table.  It had keyboards and mice for anybody seated to use.  It also had a flexible screen that adjusted to face as many people as there were using it, with each person getting their own separate view.  The big drawback with the computer center was that the more people using it, the smaller each screen became.

      Aaron started, “Well, we’re looking good now.  Will you be able to start the top structure soon?”

      Samuel said, “Yes . . . and no.  You see . . . Jared mentioned we need a messaging system.”

      Aaron, “Oh, yes, the notes.”

      Jared said, “We can’t change the past without this.  We could use computers, but they aren’t always reliable.  In addition, as we go into the future de-encryption will be easier, and we cannot assure secret delivery of messages wirelessly.  We also can’t expose a wire connection to tampering.  In addition, we might on occasion need to send something more than a message, like an artifact.”

      Aaron asked, “What kind of artifact?”

      “Who knows?  Maybe an ID badge, maybe a passport, maybe a rare jewel.”

      Samuel questioned, “Can’t we just scan it?”

      Jared shook his head.  “That exposes some builder technology if sent wirelessly.”

      Aaron said, “So how can we send the messages?  Actually an even more important question, how do we get out of the colony after time traveling?”

      Jared nodded, “Well, one thing at a time.  Let’s deal with messaging first.”

      Samuel said, “So we need to get messages to the colony from above, but we also have to build an above ground structure to keep people from building over us or even worse finding us.  Let’s integrate the two!”

      “How,” asked Aaron.

      Samuel said, “A pipe system integrated at the very top.”

      Jared said, “Pipes will be found.  We need something hidden that we can get to unnoticed.  If they are found, people will send stuff down them and try to find out what is at the end.”

      Samuel said, “OK, let’s take a three-way approach.  First, we make it so there are multiple pipes and only one works at a given time, maybe 24 for each hour of the day or 365 for each day of the year.  Nobody will be watching 365 holes to notice what we do!”

      Aaron raised his eyebrows, “365!  That’s a ton of pipes.  What if we need to maintain them?”

      Samuel said, “Well, they’ll be made of a rust-proof metal.  If we have to we can use the builders to unclog them, right, Jared?”

      Jared nodded, “Probably.”

      Aaron agreed, “OK, so what are the other two approaches?”

      Samuel continued, “The next is a lock.  We can set a few objects that pressed in the right order will open the corresponding hole, if it’s the right day, of course.”  Aaron and Jared seemed to like the idea so Samuel continued, “Finally, we use special plastic or metal pipes to place the messages in.  We slap a code 39 barcode on it to identify it, and then we can be fairly sure it came from one of us.”

      Aaron said, “OK, sounds good.”  He then turned to Jared and asked, “Now how do we get out of the colony?”

      “Well, first we need a big area to use the machine.  Also, we will probably make a few more, using builders of course, so we should probably clear three runways.  This will give us room to ‘land’ with multiple machines in one time.  So we basically need three long bays, maybe 500 feet each.  We can then have hatches from the three bays to the surface.”

      Samuel said, “That’s doable. The bays should have their own separate air supply since they will have exits. The exits will have to be hidden.  We should probably put them in the cave system west of here.  With some controlled overgrowth only bats will visit, hopefully.”

      Aaron asked, “How do we get back in, though?  We’ll need security.”

      Samuel said, “Right.  Getting into the colony will be the safest of entry methods, a doorbell.  We only let in people we want to let in.”

      Jared said, “Right, but we can’t know to expect our future selves at the outer entryways.  Plus we cannot meet our future selves.  It would hurt our timelines by giving foreknowledge of even the simplest things . . . like balding.”

      Samuel said, “So we need a hidden entrance with a locking mechanism.”

      Aaron said, “I guess that’ll work.”

      Samuel looked at Aaron, “This will add some time, maybe months to the project.”

      Aaron shrugged, “Then that’s what we do, I guess.  Anything else we need to meet about?”  Samuel and Jared shook there heads no.  “OK, see you next week.”

      They all headed to their families to spend some time before dinner.  As Aaron arrived at his tent, a Swiss military truck drove into their encampment.  The trucks were actually a similar model to the one’s Hunt Security had used. 

      Aaron sighed and walked to the truck instead of the tent.  When he got to the truck, a man in fatigues stepped out.  He said in almost perfect English, with only the hint of a German accent, “Hello, are you Aaron?”

      Aaron said, “Yes, how can I help you?”

      The man saluted Aaron, “A pleasure to meet you, Sir.”

      Aaron instinctively was polite in response so as not to offend him and said, “Thank you.”

      “My name is Ernst Oehl.  I am part of the Swiss Military.  Sir, may I speak with you about an urgent matter in private?”

      Aaron nodded, “Yes, follow me.”

      Aaron led Ernst toward the tent in which the meeting had just taken place, then stopped when he realized that some of the plans scattered inside the tent would be too compromising.  Instead he led him into the kitchen tent.

      After they sat Ernst said, “Our military intelligence has reason to believe the Chinese government is planning an attack on your settlement.  We suspect they want your alleged Midas machines.  Since you gave this country such a tremendous help economically I am here to offer you our support.  We are a neutral country but cannot accept losing you.”

      Aaron cut to the point, “In what way can you help?”

      “Sir, we are willing to aid in your protection should an attack occur.  We will have a few squads of men stationed near your settlement.  If you would like, we will bring them in.”

      Aaron said, “Do you mean you’ll place this area under martial law?”

      Ernst shook his head, “No, we would simply patrol the area and keep you safe.”

      Aaron thought for a moment. “Let me talk it over with the rest of the group.  For now, please keep your men nearby.”

      Ernst saluted, “Yes, Sir.”

      After Ernst left, Aaron quickly gathered all of the colonists in the kitchen tent; most of them were already there because of dinner.  Once he had them all gathered he said, “We seem to have a problem.  Swiss intelligence has reason to believe the Chinese government will be sending a group here to take the ‘Midas machines’ or builders as we call them.  As a way of repayment for the platinum, a group of the Swiss military will be stationed outside the colony.  If we need them, we can quickly call for them.  Now this causes two issues that we must discuss. First, the Swiss military has offered to bring their troops here and to patrol within our camp.  On the one hand, this provides us with more immediate security.  On the other hand, it leaves the possibility that they’ll see too much of our technology or our plan.  In addition, it may feel very uncomfortable having highly armed military personnel inside of our camp.  How do you all feel about this?”

      Samuel said, “They’ll get in the way and slow down the construction, but I really don’t mind.  We’ll need to kick them out before the ribbon cutting.  Too much will need to be moved and to many questions will arise.”

      Aaron nodded, “Good points; who else?”

      Michelle said, “I really don’t want them in here with loaded weapons.”

      Carmen added, “They might have an ulterior motive in helping us.  Maybe they want to steal the builders.”

      Aaron nodded, “The person I talked to seemed very sincere, and I’m 99 percent sure he has not been given a secondary mission, like taking the builders.  It is possible.”

      Yuri said, “How quickly can they respond from outside?”

      Aaron said, “That depends on how long it takes them to know what’s happening.  If the Chinese are sending a Special Forces team it’s possible that they wouldn’t even know about the attack until it was over, even if they were in the camp.  It’s likely we’ll be under attack by the time we signal them.  There is, of course, a small possibility the Chinese will attack the Swiss first, but if their mission is simply to get the technology and get out they will probably do their best to avoid the Swiss.”

      Jared said, “Another problem we will have is that the builders in many ways make better weapons than whatever the Chinese will bring, but we can’t use builders with the Swiss watching.”

      After a long silent pause Aaron said, “Let’s have a vote.”

      Carmen said, “Who gets to vote?”

      Aaron said, “Let’s make this simple.  Vote by families.  Each family chooses as a family, and then we can vote by family.”

      Aaron went to his family, who at this point was all seated at the same table.  Sarah said sarcastically, “Wow, why don’t you create an electoral college, too!”

      “Har, har,” Aaron replied. “So, who wants what?”

      Sarah said, “The more the merrier, that’s my vote.”

      Keith said to his parents, “Umm, I think it’s a bad idea.”

      Kara said, “I’m for it.”

      Aaron said sarcastically, “Great . . . I’m against it.  I think we’re better off with them out there.”

      Sarah said, “Flip a coin?”

      Keith said, “No!  Why don’t you both say why you made your choice?”

      Sarah shrugged, “OK.  I think the more safety, the better!”

      Aaron said, “But we’re not safer.  We can’t use builders with them around.”

      Sarah said, “By the time we’re ready to use builders it’ll be too late.”

      “We’ll set up a perimeter alarm.”

      “Great, then every time the wind or an animal sets it off we get alarmed, but when the Chinese finally come and bypass it, then what?”

      They were at an impasse. Neither would waver.  If Keith and Kara had voted together and opposite Sarah and Aaron, they would have simply been vetoed.  In typical Kara and Keith fashion, they were disagreeing, but at least acting as if they were truly behind their decision.

      Sarah finally said, “I guess we abstain!”

      Aaron nodded, “I guess so.”

      It turned out the Hunt family actually took the longest to decide so they were all ready for the vote.  Aaron got up and said, “OK, who is for having the military inside the camp?”

      Samuel said, “We are.”

      Tara said, “I am . . . we are I mean.”

      After a moment of silence Aaron asked, “Who is against?”

      Jared raised his hand, “The four of us, especially Spencer, are against.”

      Emma announced, “We are against it too.”

      Cleo said, “Us as well.”

      Aaron nodded, “OK, so two are for and three are against, so we ask them to remain outside.”

      Oliver asked, “What about your vote.”

      Aaron grinned, “Well, we’re divided, so we abstain.  This is good because we would cause a tie if we voted for and the vote wouldn’t matter if we voted against.”

      Sarah suppressed her urge to say, ‘Yeah, another win for the electoral college.’  Really, Aaron’s solution for voting was the best as he did not have to dictate how old people could be to vote and allowed the families to decide.

      Aaron went on to say, “I’ll inform the Swiss after the next issue is resolved.  Eventually those of you who don’t know how to use a gun or a builder need to be trained.  Again, I’ll let the families decide who can use what.  Sarah and I will give weapons courses, and for those who haven’t learned to use a builder Carmen and Jared will give builder lessons.  The more people armed if and when they attack the better. Either way, everybody needs to learn how to use a builder eventually.  It will come down to personal preference if you want to use a gun or a builder to defend yourself.  Builders have an unlimited number of uses as opposed to a gun, which is limited by the total number of bullets in the clip and chamber.  Guns are faster to reload than builders are to change modes.  Guns are also less awkward.  In any case, let us know who will learn what and we’ll take care of it.  Also, don’t forget, we want to avoid the Swiss seeing us use builders!”

      Tara asked, “What about the Swiss? Do they have any anti-gun laws like the UK?”  What she specifically was asking was if it was legal to own and bear guns in Switzerland.

      Aaron said, “Perfectly legal here.  In fact, the way the Swiss Army works is that conscripts are given guns that they keep in their homes and when they leave the army they can keep the guns.”

      Over the next few days, Carmen and Jared taught everyone to use a builder.  At this point, all the security additions had been implemented and the user interface had been improved upon. Carmen added a ‘battle mode’ to the builders.  In battle mode, the only option was to build an iron wall or to change an item into air.  The two options could be swapped with the press of a button followed by a verification of the choice.

Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford

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