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The Call

Hunt Residence
Nashua, New Hampshire
Saturday, September 12th, 2015, 9:00 am

 

 

      Keith heard a ringing.  He had been up until 3 am playing his online collectible card game with the premise that he would sleep late like any other Saturday.  His parents did not know he played that late.  At least, he did not think his parents knew.

      He opened his eyes and looked at his ceiling.  It was covered with glow-in-the-dark star constellations that he had put up with his mother when he was younger.  He closed his eyes but the phone rang again.

      Keith rolled over and reached through his ‘pile’.  Keith would usually just pile his wallet, phone, keys, and loose change next to his clock.  While he generally put everything down the same way nightly, he still had to struggle to find the satellite phone.  He finally got it, along with some pennies, and answered, “Hello?” 

      Carmen replied on the other end, “Keith, its Carmen.”

      “Carmen?”

      Keith had had a crush on Carmen since he first met her at the pizzeria.  He never knew how to talk to her as anything more than a friend, so he never attempted to mention it.  It was rare they actually talked on the phone.  In fact, the last time they talked it was about work.

      “Keith, have you seen the news?  CTF is saying that-”

      Keith stopped her, “Shh.  This isn’t a safe line, I’ll call you back!”  He hung up. He called her using maximum encryption. “Carmen, that call only had the standard 128-bit encryption.  It could be cracked in less than a minute!  Listen, head to our place ASAP.  We need to talk, OK?”

      “I’m sorry, Keith . . . I didn’t know.”

      “It’s OK, I only know because of my folks.  Get here soon.  This thing is going to blow up fast.”

      “OK, I’ll be there in 20.”

      They hung up.  Keith did not want to deal with this.  Why the hell did his parents have to take in fugitives?  Then on the other hand, he was glad Carmen would visit.  He quickly put on a shirt.  It was a black shirt that said in Neon Purple ‘Neon Turtles’ on the back it said ‘World Tour 2013.’  He put on a pair of jeans and walked downstairs.  Keith knew his parents would be awake already.

 

****

 

      When Keith arrived in the kitchen his parents, sister, and the Millers were all sitting down eating waffles and bacon.  All of them had coffee except Jared, who had a glass of orange juice and Kara who had milk.  They all greeted him.

      “Dad,” he asked, “can we talk . . . alone?”

      Sarah gave her husband an inquisitive look.  Aaron replied saying, “Sure, Son.  Do you want to eat first?”

      “No, thanks.”

      It was rare for Keith to be urgent about anything, so Aaron got up and they headed out the front door to talk.  “What’s up?”

      “Carmen just called me using standard 128-bit encryption; she said, ‘CTF’ and asked if I had seen the news.”

      “Carmen?”

      “You know, from Tony’s.”

      “Yes, I remember Carmen, she’s the orphan who worked at Tony’s Pizza with you, but why would she be calling about the Millers?  That’s why she called, right?”

      “She delivered a pizza here yesterday,” said Keith.  

      Aaron didn’t know about the pizza, but he had seen the boxes in the trash earlier.  “Did she see them?” 

      Keith nodded affirmatively, “She’s on her way here.”

      “HERE!”

      “Don’t worry; she was trying to warn me . . . I think.”  Then he said firmly “I know! She has no way to know about the phone monitors.”

      Most people were not aware that for decades the government had machines listening to all phone signals.  Landlines were all bugged at the phone company.  Since the satellite phone companies mostly existed outside of the US, they warned the government that they would tell the public if they were forced to have monitors.  The government came to a compromise by making the GPS database. At the same time, the government got their own equipment to record and decrypt all the calls.  When satellite phones made their debut as the affordable and reliable replacement to cell phones, they were introduced with 128-bit encryption.  At the time, it was secure enough to keep somebody from decoding any call for at least a day.  With the computers of 2015, it took less than a minute to crack the 128-bit encryption. Although few people used the features, there was far higher encryption that allowed people to max encrypt at 64 megabits. It was still decodable, but it took a considerable amount of time and energy.  Any higher of an encryption level was illegal in the US.

      “OK, we can handle this.  Thanks, son, you did the right thing.”       Aaron smiled and hugged his son.

      They went back in and Aaron announced to the group in the kitchen, “We have a problem. The CTF might find you; you need to go into hiding.”

      Sarah asked, “What happened?”

      “Carmen, the pizza girl, she called Keith on a 128-bit encrypted call this morning and said ‘CTF,’ and asked if he saw the news.”

      “Oh.”

      “I don’t understand,” said Michelle.

      “We don’t have time, get your stuff.  We have a hiding place here,” said Sarah.

      Michelle and Jared went upstairs.  They quickly packed.  As soon as they were done Aaron led them into the bay of the garage that had been empty when they parked their cars and which still had Michelle’s SUV. 

      Aaron asked, “Are you ready?”

      Jared shrugged, “For what?”

      Aaron took out an old TV remote control.  He pressed some buttons as if he was choosing a channel.  All of a sudden, the floor started to descend.

      “Holy crap,” cried Michelle.

      They went down about twenty feet and when they stopped, they faced a steel door as large as the garage door had been.  There was a keypad with a thumbpad on the left side.  Aaron typed in a number and then pressed his thumb against the pad.  The door opened to a large underground tunnel.  The walls, ceiling, and roof were all concrete.  On the left side, a small tunnel went in the direction of the house.  There were fluorescent lights down the center of the tunnel.  The tunnel went down and to the left out of view.  Aaron turned to Michelle, “May I drive?”

      Michelle nodded.  They all got in her SUV.  They drove awhile and then came to a parking area and a steel door that was shaped like a house door.  The tunnel continued out of sight.  He parked in one of the spots.  There was also an old Jeep parked there.  The area had room for 15 cars.  They got out. The door had the same key and thumb pad setup as the previous door.  Aaron opened the door and told them, “Make yourselves at home. Jared, lend me your keys, and I’ll get your van.”  Jared handed over his keys with the van key held out.  “I’ll be back.  CTF may be here any minute, so I’ll be topside until we get rid of them.  If you get hungry, there is some food in the kitchen.”

      Aaron walked back and got the van.  He drove it just inside the large door, then shut and locked the door.  He brought the elevator back up and parked his BMW in the garage bay.  As he shut the garage door, Carmen arrived.

      “Carmen, everybody is inside.”

      “Mr. Hunt, I’m so sorry about this.  I didn’t know about the phones.”

      Aaron was not sure how to handle her.  He was fairly sure that she meant no harm, but he needed more information.  Aaron led her in.

      They headed to the kitchen where Kara, Keith, and Sarah were.  Sarah had a laptop out and was typing.  “They’ll be here soon, probably 10 minutes.”  Even though Sarah and Aaron had been out of the FBI, they still had friends that had got them access to both the FBI and CTF databases. 

      Aaron motioned for Carmen to sit.  They both sat down.

      Sarah started, “Tell us everything.”

      Carmen took a breath and started, “Last night I saw the Millers on the news at the Pizzeria.  Jake and Melissa were with me.  Jake was cooking and watching the soccer game.  The news cut in and showed a picture of the Millers.  It showed their house and interviewed their neighbors.  The neighbors said they only heard one shot. Jake was upset that they interrupted the game.  Melissa asked me what I thought, and I said I don’t believe everything I see on TV.  I also said it was interesting there was only one gunshot.  Melissa argued that maybe they had silencers.  I asked why two small town people would have silencers.  Then . . . Jake said I should ask Keith because you both had been in the FBI.  I may have blushed and tried to change the subject.  Melissa asked me what was wrong and if I was friends with Keith.  I said ‘of course,’ and then I left to deliver a pizza. This morning I called Keith, and that was it.  I’m so sorry. I didn’t know about the phones.”

      Aaron asked, “Why did you call?”

      “I called because I was worried.  It sounds like these people are in trouble for something they didn’t do.”

      Sarah said to Aaron, “We need to tell her.”

      Aaron nodded in agreement.

      Sarah then explained what had happened.  “Listen, Carmen, the Millers did kill the CTF members, but not how the news reported it. You see, Jared is an inventor.  He has invented two very important inventions. One of them is an atomic builder that can change matter.  When the CTF tried to invade their house, he knew they would steal the inventions, and anything else they wanted.  They fled to the basement where his lab was and used the inventions to turn three of the CTF into gold.  The other three were scared off.  The Millers came here to hide from CTF.”

      With disbelief Kara said, “They turned people into gold?”

      Sarah said, “We don’t have time for questions.  We’ll talk later.”

      Aaron turned to Carmen and said, “They’ll question you.  They probably just want the invention and are very aware of how the three were killed.  I think the best way to play this is by having you say you called Keith because of Jake’s suggestion.”  Sarah nodded in agreement.  “Tell them you don’t believe the Millers shot anybody and explain it like you tried to do with Michelle.  The more you push, the more they will want to end the interrogation.  They’re on shaky ground, and they know it.”

      Sarah added, “Can you handle this?”

      Carmen nodded.  While they waited, Keith tried to break the morbid silence with a joke.  He looked at Carmen and said, “Did you hear about the two starving zombies in New York?”

      Carmen shook her head no.

      “The first zombie said to the second zombie, ‘I’m hungry.  I hear there are humans in the subway.’  The second zombie replied, ‘Mmm, eat flesh.’”  When nobody laughed he added, “Get it?  Subway – eat flesh?”  Finally, he said, “You’ll laugh about it later.”

      When the doorbell rang, Aaron got up to answer it.

      He opened the door.  A team of CTF members stood at the door.  Aaron said politely, “What can I do for you gentlemen?”

      “We’re here to interview Keith Hunt and Carmen Lefčvre.”

      Aaron asked, “For what reasons?”

      “That’s none of your business.”

      “They are both minors.  One of them is my son, so it is my business.  The other is an orphan, so I’ll make it my business.”

      While CTF had a lot more allowances than law enforcement agencies, they had to preplan and file ahead to do home inspections.  It would take over 24 hours to get permission for a home inspection.  In addition, they needed consent from a judge to do an inspection in a home of a business executive, current or past government employee, or foreign diplomat.  Since the Hunt family ran a business and both had been FBI agents a judge would have to approve a home inspection and probably give reasonable cause as to why one was needed.  In addition, CTF tended to purposely avoid those people as they helped the economy and government.

      “Sir, we believe they may know the location of the two fugitives.”

      “What fugitives?”

      “Michelle and Jared Miller.”

      “Why are they fugitives?”

      “They killed three CTF members.”

      “How did they do that?”

      The CTF member paused then said, “This really is of no relevance.  If we have to we’ll come back with a warrant.”

      “It’s Saturday.  You won’t be back with a warrant any time soon.  Answer my questions or waste your day trying to find a judge!”

      “The CTF members were shot.”

      “With what?”

      “With handguns.”

      “Really?  Witnesses say they only heard one shot.  Were they so incompetent that they stood in a row and were killed by one shot?”

      The CTF agent flushed.  “The witness must be mistaken.”

      Aaron pushed, “Witnesses.  Two neighbors heard the one shot.”

      “The three CTF members all saw and heard the other shots.”

      “Really, how many shots were there?  I would expect with amateurs such as the Millers they probably had to shoot more than once per person.  How is it that two untrained civilians shot three trained CTF members?”

      “Sir, I don’t know the details.  We need to see Miss Lefčvre and your son, now.”

      “One last question, what’s your name and the name of anybody who will be interviewing.”

      “My name is Max Hartwell.  I’ll be doing the entire interview alone.”

      Aaron waved his finger no.  “I am representing their interests and will also be in the interview.”

      Fine

      Aaron opened the door and pointed them to the study.  Hartwell went into the study and the rest waited in the foyer.  Aaron went into the kitchen and said, “OK, let’s go, Keith and Carmen.”

      The three of them headed into the study, Keith and Carmen sat on the couch together while Hartwell and Aaron took chairs.  Aaron could tell that Hartwell wasn’t good at questioning.  “Have either of you ever been in contact with Jared Miller or Michelle Miller?”

      Keith said, “As in those two killers on the news?  Not me.”

      Carmen said, “I’ve never met either of them.”

      Hartwell said to Carmen, “Have you ever talked to them?”

      “No”

      Hartwell asked, “Why are you visiting Keith this morning?”

      “I came over because I wanted to ask him what he thought about the news.  You see, I don’t think the Millers shot anybody. Only one shot was heard.  Where were the other shots?  I think CTF is lying and I came over to ask Keith’s opinion on the subject since his parents were in the FBI.”

      When Carmen mentioned the one shot, Hartwell glanced over at Aaron.  Aaron lifted his eyebrows as if to say it was an important point.

      Hartwell continued, “Why would you call him so early to talk about the news?”

      Aaron interrupted, “Who said anything about calling?”

      Hartwell blushed.  “I’m sorry, I meant visit.”

      Carmen replied, “I think it’s very significant that only one shot was fired. It seems to indicate there is some type of cover-up as to what really happened that night.  You were there.  What really happened that night?”

      Hartwell was visibly upset by what she said, “I never said I was there.”  Then after a moment he said, “Did the Millers tell you I was there?”

      “No, you did.”

      “I said no such thing!”

      “Didn’t you?  Why are you conducting this interview alone?  Why are the other CTF members out in the foyer?  Whatever happened is so secret you can’t even share it with them! It’s obvious that they would send one of the survivors.  Who else would be able to spot all the clues?”

      “You’re jumping to conclusions.”

      “Talking about jumping to conclusions, what brought you here this morning?  Do you have an illegal tap into the phone system?  You couldn’t have just been arbitrarily tapping my phone and Keith’s phone.  How would you have known we would discuss the Millers?  You must be monitoring all phone calls!”

      “We . . . had a tip that you might know where the Millers are.”

      “Really, who gave you that tip . . . do you have a name for your listening system?”

      Aaron interrupted, “I think you two have answered enough questions.  Hartwell, I expect you’ll be leaving now.”

      Hartwell nodded sheepishly, “I’ll leave you my number if you think of anything you want to tell us.  It’s very important we find these people before they kill anybody else.”  He handed a card to Carmen and Keith, and then headed into the foyer.  The CTF agents left.

      Aaron led Keith and Carmen back into the kitchen.

      “Well,” asked Sarah.

      “Carmen did great.  I hope they’ll leave us alone for now.  We just need to monitor their computers to see if they plan an inspection here. They’ll probably be watching the house for a while, so the Millers need to stay where they are.  Carmen, would you like to see the Millers?”

      “Sure.”

      Aaron said, “OK, let’s all go.  We need to talk anyway.”

      Kara said, “Talk about what?”

      “You’ll see,” said Sarah.

      They went into the living room that was to the right of the kitchen.  The living room had a fireplace set in the wall between the living room and the kitchen.  The back and sidewalls each had three large windows.  The windows were covered with a thin white curtain that prevented people from seeing in but allowed the light to come in.  The room had a large entertainment center beside the fireplace.  It included a digital TV, a stereo, DVD player, the latest gaming systems, two speakers, and a subwoofer at the base.  There were two large white couches that could sit three comfortably but easily four or even five.  There were also two reclining chairs and two glass side tables.  The couches and chairs all faced the entertainment center like a chapel to technology and entertainment.

      Aaron took out his remote and punched in a number.  All of a sudden, the fireplace started to descend.  It stopped one foot below the floor level.  “All aboard,” said Sarah.  They all stepped down and were able to fit. 

      Carmen asked, “Is this like the underground railroad?”

      Aaron chuckled, “No, this is more like the underground space center.”

      Carmen said, “Cool!”

      Aaron pushed some more buttons and the covert elevator slowly descended.  It stopped at a small tunnel with fluorescent lights that went a few feet and ended at a steel door with the same number and thumb-pad.  All five of them stepped off into the tunnel.  The elevator automatically started to ascend.  Underneath the fireplace was a thick steel hydraulic pole that pushed the elevator skyward.

      Aaron unlocked the door and opened it.  It opened to a white cement tunnel.  They walked through and he closed and locked it.  The walls were white concrete and the tunnel was lit by more fluorescent ceiling lights.  They walked to the end of the tunnel, which opened to the larger tunnel where Jared’s van was still parked. 

      Aaron said, “It’s a bit of a ways, so let’s all get in.  It will be cramped but we can manage.”

      Sarah and Aaron sat in the front.  The teens sat on the floor in the back.  Aaron drove down the tunnel and parked beside the SUV.  They all got out and Aaron opened the door.  Through the steel door was a small utilitarian room.  It was still white cement and fluorescent lights. On the sides were tall shelves with crates of all sizes.  The wall opposite where they came in had two small windowed gun turrets like the ones from bunkers in the world wars.  Between the windows was a heavy iron door.  Sarah and Aaron pulled on it, and it slowly creaked open.  There was a small anti-chamber and then a wooden door. Sarah opened the door and yelled, “Honey, we’re home.”

      The Millers came to the door and greeted everybody.  Aaron handed Jared back his keys.  “Carmen did great, and I think she almost made the CTF guy sweat!  Let’s talk in the meeting room.”

      They walked inside and down a long hall.  The inside was a lot like an office.  The floor was covered with one of those multi-colored bright carpets that could make you dizzy if you stared at it too long.  The walls were painted blue with white patches similar to clouds. The ceiling was tiled.  There were lights covered with white glass fixtures lining both sides of the wall.  There were wooden doors on both sides of the walls.  Some of the doors had placards on them saying things like fitness center, electrical room, and food supplies.  As they walked, Carmen asked, “What is this place?”

      Sarah explained, “This is our luxury Nashua secure hiding facility.  We have several places like this throughout the nation and even a few overseas.  This one actually hasn’t gotten much use, as it would be personally compromising for the two of us if its location was released.  I think we can trust you though.”

      Carmen smiled, “Yes, completely.”

      Sarah continued, “While the facilities are used to hide people, they also allow them to continue business as usual.  So for example, we had a tech mogul whose company was relocating to Asia.  He stayed here with some of his staff while we secured their safe passage out of the country.”

      Michelle asked, “Why were they hiding?”

      Aaron explained, “Many of our clients are considered the nation’s elite.  As soon as any try to flee the country Bradshaw has CTF bully them to try to get them to stay.  Some of the people they have bullied . . . who were not under our protection I might add . . . were shot and later called terrorists.”

      Carmen asked, “Is that what happened to Paul Boylston?”

      Paul Boylston was considered an economic leader throughout the preceding decade. He was in charge of one of the largest mutual fund companies ever created.  When news broke that he was moving to Europe, CTF shot him during an inspection.  It was claimed that he had been a terrorist plant who had been working undercover for an extremist Islamic group.

      Sarah said, “Yes.  He was considered a threat and dealt with.  The saddest part is that after he was shot it was later found that he had raised the funds to protect hundreds of Arabs who had been displaced by the same group he was claimed to be a member of!  CTF claimed it had just been part of his cover.”

      They arrived at a door marked ‘Conference Room C’.  They went in.  It was a rectangular room with a white board, an oval table, a computer, and a projector that pointed towards a painting.  Above the painting was a screen that could be dropped down.  The table was surrounded by black upholstered executive chairs. 

      Aaron said, “Jared, can you demonstrate your builders?”

      Jared said, “Sure thing.  I’ll get one.”  A few minutes later he returned with a builder.  He touched the atomic builder’s screen a few times and then said, “All set. I have programmed it to make a small ball of nickel.”  He pointed it at the floor and pressed a button on the screen.  A small ball of nickel appeared.  It was about one inch thick.  He handed it to Aaron.  Aaron looked, then passed it along to his wife.  When the ball had been inspected by everybody, it was put on the table. 

      Carmen asked, “How does it work?”

      Jared explained the whole process again.  When Jared was done Carmen said, “I’d like to see the programming later.”

      Jared said, “Sure.”

      Kara asked, “So what’s the significance of this?  If we can build anything out of anything, we could make a fortune.”

      Keith asked, “Can you make me some skateboards with that?”

      Aaron said, “It’s not a toy.  The world would change drastically if this technology got released.  This would put anybody who built, sold, or cultivated out of work.  The only jobs left would be in research and service.  It’s hard to say what it would do to the economy, but if the technology was kept within a monopolistic control untold horrors would come to pass.”

      Keith said sarcastically, “Untold horrors?”

      Jared said, “What your father says is true.  This is the communist’s dream.  The working population would quickly be reduced.  Goods would lose their value.  At the same time, the remaining jobs would become highly competitive.  If the cost of the goods made by builders is too high, then the people out of work will be left behind.”

      Carmen said, “So what will you do with the technology?”

      Sarah said, “Maybe first we should see the other invention.”

      Kara asked, “Which is?”

      “How about a demonstration?  For this, we need to go to my van.”

      They all headed back out to the parking area.  Jared opened up the back doors and lowered the loading ramp.  “Aaron, can you help me with this?”  They pushed the ball down the ramp very carefully.  At the bottom, Jared uncovered it.  There was a small door that would barely allow an adult to fit through.  The ball was made of steel and had several holes in it the size of tennis balls. “Anybody want to test drive?”  Jared said, “OK, I need everybody to stand on the sides.  What ever you do, don’t get in front of it or behind it.  Stay here: I’ll be back in ten minutes.  Don’t get in or near the path during that time.”

      Kara asked, “Where are you going?”

      Aaron hushed her.  Jared pulled at the door.  It swung open.  As it opened a mass of lights came on inside.  He climbed in and shut the door from the inside.  Aaron motioned them to back up some more.  Some noise, like the sound of jet engines, started coming from the ball.  Suddenly the ball rolled.  The holes in the rear had jets of flame.  The ball rolled so quickly that it disappeared within two seconds.  As the ball had rolled down the tunnel, it looked like a blur of motion and fire. 

      Michelle said, “That fool better not land in a wall.”

      They waited ten minutes.  Suddenly the ball re-appeared at an astonishing speed in the same direction it had been going.  It stopped as quickly as it had started.  The door was on the top and it rolled a bit very slowly so that the door was at a reasonable position to exit from.  The door opened and Jared stepped out.  He looked very disoriented and stumbled.  After he regained his balance and direction, he turned to the group and bowed.

      He walked back to the group and showed them his watch, which was ten minutes behind. Michelle said, “He keeps his watch to the time we get from the satellite phones.  Either he changed it . . . or he traveled through time.”

      Carmen asked, “That’s incredible.  How does it work?”

      Jared explained, “Traveling forward is fairly easy.  You see, this ball is a perfect sphere with the exception of the holes. Inside the holes are jets that are used to propel the craft at a very high speed.  The jets in the rear are on while all the other jets are off, unless the craft needs some stability on the sides.  As the ball rolls, the jets on the top turn off and the jets on the bottom come on.  When stopping, the jets in the front are on to stop the craft.  The ball travels so fast that it travels forward through time. Once it gets fast enough so it is no longer visible, it ceases to have a specific time in which it exists.  That is when I set a time.  The ball hones in on that time and it lands.”

      Carmen said awestruck, “It’s amazing.”

      Aaron said, “Let’s secure the time machine and continue with the meeting.”

      Aaron and Jared rolled it back towards the van and placed it next to the van in a parking space.  They covered it back up.  Jared closed the van.

      Keith said, “Let’s get a sign that says, ‘This spot reserved for time machines!’”

      Everybody laughed. 

      They headed back into the meeting room.  Carmen asked, “So you have two monumental inventions.  Where do we go from here?”

      Aaron said, “We want to form a colony set apart from the world.  We want to protect the world from people like Hitler, Stalin, and Bradshaw by stopping them before they do their damage.”

      Keith asked, “Is that possible?”

      Jared said, “We can change time.  We know that much from tests.”

      Kara asked, “Why a colony?  What kind of colony?”

      Aaron explained, “First we need to protect these inventions.  While the builder would probably do damage, the time machine would allow people to destroy entire civilizations.  We can’t let that technology into the world.  It’s too dangerous.”

      Kara countered, “What makes us so morally superior?”

      Aaron shrugged.  “Maybe we aren’t, but we aren’t morally bankrupt.  It’s those people that will do anything to get their hands on this technology so they can gain more of whatever they want.  What we want is to help the future.”

      Keith asked, “What’s the other reason or reasons?”

      Sarah explained, “The other reason is so we don’t pollute our own time line.  If I understand it correctly, we can’t change our future.  We have to be uninvolved.  If we went back and prevented a war from starting, but that war, for whatever reason, kept us alive, we couldn’t undo the war.  Specifically, if without the war the person would have a car accident and die, they would never be able to prevent the war.  Keeping us separate will maximize our ability to make time changes. The intention is for civilization to improve, but with the good will come some bad.”

      Carmen asked, “How do you stop a war if it never happened in your timeline?”

      Jared smiled, “Very good.  You have to leave a note for yourself.”

      Keith laughed.  Everybody looked at him and he said, “Dear Self, don’t forget to go back in time and stop a war, yours truly, Self.”

      Aaron shook his head.

      Sarah said, “Keith and Kara, you’re almost adults now.  We won’t force you to go with us.  It will be a huge sacrifice with little pay-off . . . besides the benefits we get from the builders.  Your social lives . . . and possibly future spouses will be from a limited selection. Can you live with that?”

      Aaron said, “Don’t decide now.  Think it over.  This is very important.”

      Carmen asked, “Can I go too?”

      Michelle said, “Do you want to go?”

      “Yes, very much!  This is a one-time historical opportunity; I don’t want to miss it.”

      Jared said, “Why don’t you think about it some more.  If you still decide to, then I say yes.”

      Michelle nodded her head in agreement.

      Sarah said, “The more the merrier.”

      Aaron said, “I hoped you would want to.  You’re smart and we need that.”

      Carmen said, “I’ll give it some more thought . . . but I’m pretty sure the answer will still be yes.”

      Kara said, “So who else will be going?”

      Her father answered, “We haven’t decided yet.”

      Jared said, “Actually, I have thought some about it.  We don’t want too many people because it could cause us to be exposed.  To last multiple generations we need at least four couples who will have at least two children each.  To be honest, Michelle and I have never tried having children, so we might not be able to. I’m getting ahead of myself though.  The reason for the minimum is to prevent intermarriage further down the road.  In the end it’s almost inevitable, but with four couples with two children each we can be assured that nobody will need to marry a person one or two generations apart.  Outside of monarchies, there has been very little research into . . . the effect of incest.  We know the main issue at hand is recessive genes.  If two siblings mated, there would be about 75% genetic differences between the two.  With second generation, cousins, it’s not as bad but still dangerous, especially with such a small colony.  Therefore, we need four couples.  Unfortunately, though, four still might be too few.  The first generation, our children, would have a decent choice of spouses. However, if each couple decides to only have two children there will be at most two possible mates for each of . . . our grandchildren.  So we should try for six couples.  In addition, we can’t accept anybody with genetic defects.  We shouldn’t bother with any couples who are without children as they might not be capable.  This brings me back to Michelle and me.  We’ve never tried.  However, if Carmen goes with us we would only need one more child.  We could technically get away with a clone.”

      Michelle exclaimed excitedly, “Oh, my gosh, we’re going to have kids!”  Jared smiled and hugged her.

      Kara said, “Wow.  So in a way you really do need us?”

      Sarah said, “We love you both and certainly want and need you in our lives. But like I said before, it’s your decision and you have to make it.  Please don’t feel pressured.  If we have to we’ll adopt, or get another couple.”

      Aaron said, “We must decide what professionals we need.  For example we need a doctor.”

      Jared joked, “Oh, wait; we need a mathematician . . . just in case we need an expert to lecture us on Chaos Theory when things go bad!”

      Aaron laughed, “I don’t think so.”

      Sarah asked, “Isn’t Jared a doctor?”

      Jared replied, “I’m only a doctor because I have a doctorate.  I am not a medical doctor, nor do I wish to be.”

      Sarah said, “OK, so we need a doctor.  Don’t we need a biologist too?”

      Jared said, “I think so.  To create a biosphere we need plants and animals.  I don’t know much about biologists, but we might need both a plant and an animal biologist!”

      Aaron added, “We need a hacker.”

      Michelle asked astonished, “A hacker?  Won’t they do more harm than good?”

      Aaron said, “Actually many hackers have a high moral code and want the government to improve.”

      Michelle persisted, “Why do we want a hacker?”

      Aaron made an evil smile and said, “For hacking.  When we decide to make a change, we may need information that we can only get by hacking.  Also the hacker needs to be able to adapt because the time changes will change technology.”

      Jared said, “We need a programmer.  I can program, but I’m not good at it.  For all I know my hydrogen bug is a problem with the software!”

      Jared said, “Well, I think that’s all we need to discuss.  Keep thinking about what type of people we need and anybody you know or know of.”

      Aaron said, “Sounds good to me.”  The meeting adjourned.

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

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