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Carmen arrived at the Hunt residence a little before . She brought enough pizza to feed them all. Keith, Aaron, Sarah, and Carmen all headed down together. While they were on the elevator, they started talking about CTF.
Carmen said, “They’re still following me. Do you think they’ll inspect the house?”
Aaron nodded no, “They want Jared and Michelle. By now they’ve already checked for heat signatures and came up with only us, so they’re hoping we’ll lead them to the Millers or that the Millers will show up here.”
Carmen asked, “Heat signatures? If they check for our heat signatures how come they don’t notice when we disappear down here?”
Sarah explained, “Well, that’s one of the neat things about this house. First, they can’t check for heat signatures in the living room without either being on our property or flying above us. It’s because the land curves up just enough to hide that part of the house. However, since they could cross the property lines we have a heater in the living room that makes the heat sensors basically worthless.”
Carmen asked, “Couldn’t they think we are hiding the Millers in that room?”
Keith said, “No, we only have them on if some of us are underground.”
Carmen nodded, “Pretty cool.”
They finally arrived at the dining room. They all said their hellos. Aaron got out some plates and napkins and everybody got some pizza.
Aaron started with an announcement, “I
have found some land north of
Keith asked, “What’s a canton?”
Aaron said, “It’s kind of like a state,
but a little smaller. It’s also more
self-governed than a
Carmen said, “So they’re German speaking?”
Aaron said, “Yes, but let’s not worry about the details until after I see the land. So that’s my progress report.”
Sarah said, “I think I’ve found our architect! Samuel Lyles has done some work for us in other states, has three children, and his wife is a medical doctor!”
Aaron nodded, “Yes, Samuel would be a good
choice. From what I remember, they said
they might try to move out of the
Sarah said, “Yes, that’s their plan.”
Aaron agreed, “Sounds good to me. Now we need to decide how to contact them.”
Jared said, “Can you invite them here?”
Sarah replied, “We could, but they live in
Michelle asked, “Would the conference be secure?”
Sarah explained, “Yes. We have extra encryption, and the origins of the signals are displaced by some landlines and wireless signals. I’ll try to get them to visit early next week.”
Jared said, “Well, I guess that brings us to me. I’m making slow progress. Most of what I’m doing right now is designing a storage system for all the data.”
Michelle was next and said, “I’ve got a good list of resources for the sixth grade. I’ll start on the fifth grade in a few days.”
Keith went next. “OK, so far I’ve been looking at how the Biosphere 2 Center looks. In different isolated sections, it has lowland and highland rainforest, an ocean and beach, a marsh, a low and high land desert, a savanna, a forest, a lung, and the human habitat.
“Personally, I think the lung is the most interesting part. It’s a large bladder or pressure regulator. As the heat and air pressure increase, the lung expands to relieve the air pressure, if the heat and air pressure decrease, the lung contracts. We should have something like this if we isolate our air supply from the rest of the world.
“The savanna is also interesting because it was used to transition from desert to rainforest. Most of the vegetation was grass and trees. Inside were birds that lived off the fruit and seeds the plants provided.
“The ocean simulated a
“Most of the other sections were rather bland. The forest, for example, mostly had cottonwood trees. An important note is that they used the facility to do various research projects. Much of the research related to CO2 levels. So while it was a failure in the large goal of making a sustainable biosphere, they were almost doomed to failure due to the amount of other tests they preformed.”
Carmen was impressed with his thoroughness, “Cool, good job.”
Keith smiled in reply.
Aaron said, “OK, I guess that’s everything. Let’s meet again when we can talk to Samuel and hopefully his wife.”
Everybody agreed. They continued eating pizza and drinking soda or coffee.
Michelle said to Carmen, “This is good pizza!”
Carmen said, “It didn’t used to be. Well, it’s always tasted good; it’s just that until recently the kitchen didn’t have much in the way of health standards.”
Jared asked, “What changed?”
Carmen explained, “Well, back when Keith worked there Tony was still alive. Tony was a great guy; he just didn’t do much cleaning. When he died, his brother Jake inherited the place. Jake cleaned the place up and really made it great.”
Keith said, “The floors were always a mess. The pizza knife was rusty because it wasn’t kept clean.”
Carmen nodded in agreement.
Michelle, “So why did you both work there?”
Keith shrugged, “I needed a job. There really weren’t many other jobs.”
Carmen said, “It sounds like a cliché, but I started for the money and I stayed for the friends. They were almost like a family to me, especially Tony. I was really upset when he died. Jake’s good, too, though. He’s not as caring, but he knows how to run a business . . . and how to clean!”
Jared said, “I think I’m going to make a file for each thing we deconstruct. We can keep the software simple by just having it make the file, load the file, and replicate the structure in the file.”
Carmen said, “Sounds good to me. What type of file format?
Jared replied, “Well, I think it should be encrypted. At some point there may be people in the community,” he coughed to pretend to hide the word hacker, “Who we may want to keep out, especially for files of, say, weapons and other dangerous things. Besides that, the native random access file structure of the language should do the trick. That way I don’t have to re-invent anything.”
Carmen said, “So really this could be working in twenty hours of programming.”
Jared shrugged, “It’s hard to say. Maybe a professional could do it that quickly. I might take triple that.”
Keith said, “That’s still great. If you two can get it working in a week we’ll have a ton of time to start making files.”
After everybody finished eating, Michelle went into the kitchen. She was there for a few minutes and then came out with an ice cream cake with 17 burning candles on it. Michelle said, “A little bird told me it’s your birthday, Carmen, so I made this cake for you!”
Everybody sang “Happy Birthday” to Carmen. When they were done she blew out the candles and made a wish. With all the time she had spent with them and all the love they had shown her, she wished that the Millers were her family.
“Thank you so much! This is my favorite kind of cake!” She hugged Michelle. She looked at Keith and asked, “Did you tell them.”
He nodded. She walked over to him, hugged him, and gave him a kiss on his left cheek.
“Thank you all so much. Most of my birthdays were forgotten until I worked at Tony’s Pizza. Since Tony died, I didn’t think anybody would remember this year. This really means a lot to me. Thank you.”
Michelle said, “You’re welcome. We would have done more, but it’s rather tough to shop when you’re a fugitive!”
They all ate cake. It was very good, homemade strawberry ice-cream cake. Everybody continued to talk until it started getting late. Then everybody said good-bye to the Millers and went back to the house. Carmen went home and had her usual CTF tail behind her the whole way.
Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford