STARFALL: TALES FROM THE TESLA INSTITUTE #1: The Assistant
kerbouchard21 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 12 19:32:55 PST 2011
Cover: An woman with brown hair, glasses, and a lab coat over a plain
blue business skirt and top stands in 3/4 profile. She's got a thin
touch pad in her hands and peers at it against the backdrop of what
appears to be an everyday industrial lab, with the addition of a pair
of Tesla Coils emitting mysterious white-blue light. The blurb over
head reads "TESLA TALES#1!" and in the corner, in a flowing hand,
reads "THE ASSISTANT".
As far as buildings went, this one went well with the surrounding
architecture, the owner determining that in at least one regard it
wouldn't do to agitate the locals more then he already was. Standard
neo-classical, with a lovely and incredibly intricately constructed
small dome of metal and glass, flanked by two long wings, each with
their own domes of matching design. Numerous antennas and lightning
towers and gods knew what else dotted the roof, although nothing was
out of place, nothing an eyesore: all crafted and created to blend
into one lace like metal whole. Even the basic structure, solid brick
and mortar, retained a little more character with the addition of
functional pillars dotted around the entrances. Impeccable
landscaping, everything neatly in it's place. That everything seemed
to be so precise and yet pleasing to the eye was a testament to
Tesla's micromanaging skills.
"Even the damn parking spaces are measured out to specific
alignments," two men on their way to work joked as one gestured out
squares in front of him.
"No way, really?"
"Seriously. Not a millimetre off." They strode past the metal and
glass etched sign reading, "Tesla Institute for Exploratory Sciences
and Engineering". "The guy's crazy as..."
"Gentlemen," a brisk, sharp female voice called out before they even
crossed the threshold. Both froze as the voice came from invisible
speakers. "Get your ID tags out, and make your way down to basement
level 4. They need extra engineers today." Both men unfroze and
sheepishly dug out their ID tags, grumbling still as they made their
way in but with much quieter voices.
In a control room somewhere deeper within, a youngish sort of woman
sighed and removed her glasses, pinching her brow. White labcoat,
brown hair in a bun, rather ordinary hazel eyes. Typical scientist. An
ID tag read, "Genavieve Ciernik", the symbols indicating she had high
level clearance...nearly the highest. "Just another day at the office.
Harold, can you call up the lab on level 2? See if they've got those
superconductors ready; Dr. Tesla needs them for the T-PAD
experiments." The man on the other side of the room, staring at some
screens, idly waved a hand and nodded. Gena rolled her eyes, then got
up from the chair and made to leave. "All right, thanks. I'm heading
"Sure thing, Gene."
A soft click of low heels, practical brown shoes to match her plain
skirt and plainer grey blue turtle neck top. Gena wasn't a dull
looking girl, but one watching could get the impression that she was
doing her best to become one. Everything was soft, neutral tones, her
hair clean, bun tight. Her lab coat was so clean it practically
gleamed in the overhead lighting. And her voice was quiet as well,
with just enough of a sharp edge to carry when needed, from time to
time. Her fingers tapped at a brisk pace along the 3D light pad she
carried, her eyes flicking up only occasionally to guide her down the
The faint hissing sound the door made to the expiriment levels
finally caught her full attention, and she extended her thumb to the
security device beside it. First a fingerprint scan...then a gentle
tingling as an invisible electric pulse took a DNA scan as well. Tesla
might not be as paranoid (or delusional, as some unkind critics had
mentioned) as before, but he was well up the awareness scale, and the
security measures got progressively extreme the further down one went.
Tap tap tappity again as she went down the elevator and down another
hallway, and then into the canvernous main room. Gena was dwarfed by
several of the famous Tesla coils, banks of massive computing tools
and equipment, the clack of her feet turning to a gentler metallic
thunk as she strode across the floor. Sparks flew in places, wires
flowed, shouts were heard, and in the distance, gentle laughter. From
the dome so far above only dim grey light filtered down, so scattered
around were also the lights from the glow of screens and eerie little
globes, one of Tesla's first new inventions. And one, so far, kept
strictly in house. She waved and smiled politely at a few of the
engineers and ducked under one line of wiring, stepping over thicker
coils on the floor. Right now, most of it was leading her to a spot
near the back.
There, three graceful, almost vine-like steel lights rose from the
floor, bearing their lights like oversized grapes, surrounding a
complex and large, round metal pad. A middle aged man with dark hair,
white shirt, and pants with old style suspenders stood near the edge,
quietly directing a bustle of movement near a computer bank. There
were other machines and computers of course, and three thick metal
arcs set up over top the pad, with all the wires and other weird
devices one might expect. Snaps of arc lightning occurred on the far
side as Gena walked up, setting her shoulders and making sure the
proper information was displayed on her 3D light pad. She nodded with
an approving gaze at the surrondings.
Everything was, despite the clusters of computers and wire bundles,
incredibly clean and neat, floors and walls painted white. Colour
coded lines in bright colours added a pleasant touch, but even these
were functional, guiding people and equipment where they needed to go.
One more nod. The boys at Hadron couldn't do better, and the clean,
professional, but massive, lab delighted the eyes.
The dark haired man shifted his gaze to her, calm face, energetic
movements. "Ah, Miss Ciernik. Punctual as always." His eyes moved back
to the holographic light display before him, hovering between it's
projection bars, and deft fingers moved one part of a blueprint to
"Thank you, sir." She simply handed him the light pad when he held
out his hand, then took a polite step back, face neutral. Once the
blueprint was in place, Tesla once again looked over, then down,
critically examining what was displayed.
"Did the agents call you again?" A light Slavic accent rumbled with
"No, doctor. I may have neglected to mention which project I was
He gave her another glance, this time with one brow raised. Gena kept
her face flat, though a tiny smile did appear to tug on one corner of
her mouth. "Well, these diagrams will certainly help. Ah, and the flow
patterns arc just as I predicted...very good. Very good." He laid the
pad beside the base of his own display, connecting the two. A brisk
nod was given to Gena. "Thank you, Miss Ciernik, that will be all for
"Thank you, Dr.Tesla." She bowed her head and turned to leave, before
he coughed. "Sir?"
"How is your doctoral thesis coming along?" he asked politely. She
blinked, then looked back at him, even as he was turning back to the
massive device before them.
"I...well, I've finished grouping the DNA sequences. If time allows,
I'll be able to begin work with the superconductors."
"Register for lab time now then, same as anyone else."
"Yes sir, thank...." Too late. Tesla was usually polite to a fault to
any of the staff, male or female made no difference to him. Except
when he was working, in which case you were lucky if you got the bare
mininum of acknowledgement. Gena was considered a special case, but
then again she was his main assistant. She smiled faintly, shaking her
head as she turned to make her way out of the electronic jungle again.
Only, just once, the briefest of looks over her shoulder at the dark
haired man, before the elevator doors snapped shut again. Just one
figure against the blue flickering lights of his experiments.
A Few Days Later....!
Gena sighed and pushed her glasses up to rest on her forehead. She
rubbed her eyes, then peered in again at the large tank of water.
Within several electic eels fluttered gracefully around each other,
snapping up the bits of their evening meal. She smiled faintly and
made a few notes on a pad of paper, crossing her legs and swivelling
idly back and forth on her chair. A stray hair was brushed away from
"Gena! You still here?" Bert, well, Dr. Bertram Clarkson, one of her
coworkers, leaned up in a friendly way against the door frame before
ambling in. Gena smiled and nodded a greeting.
"Good evening, doctor. You're up late yourself; just leaving?"
"Mmm, I think so. I'll not get to those lasers till tomorrow, despite
all my hopes." He grinned and chuckled, placing a hand against his
heart. Bending over to peer at the eels, he whistled softly while Gena
batted him away with her papers. "Ugly fellows, aren't they? But,
seems they took to that genome experiment."
"Mmm, one hopes. It's still too early to tell." She smiles back and
stood, moving away from the tank to a microscope. "I ought to get some
sleep and not throw off my REM cycle, but I have to see if these cells
are behaving as they ought to." She rubbed her eyes again, then leaned
in to stare in the viewer.
Bertram shook his head. "My dear girl, you're overworking yourself."
He placed a genial hand on her shoulder. "Why don't you come have
dinner with the wife and I tomorrow night? You know she does a
smashing Yorkshire pudding...."
Gena raised a brow as she proceeded with her work, but the Brit's
words brought another smile to her face. "As you've raved about
before, Dr. Clarkson. You know I don't mean to be rude, but I'll just
have to see if work allows it." He sighed and removed his hand.
"You know, you can always ask the good doctor Tesla to ease some of
your responsibilities to him. You're not anyone's personal secretary,
you're a student and a brilliant geneticist in your own right."
Gena snapped her gaze to the smiling man, frowning. "Bert, I like
working here. I really do. I've learnt more here in a year then I did
during my entire undergraduate career, and the lab's still surprising
me. For that kind of expirience, I don't mind sacrificing some of my
time for him." She wrinkled her nose and turned back to the
microscope. Bert opened his mouth in surprise, then closed it gently
and looked thoughtful, nodding to her.
"Of course, of course. Busy man." Eyes flicked up to a newsclipping
of Tesla at a recent conference pasted to the wall. A good shot of
him, in one of his rare emotional tirades against the latest bout of
"government interference". "Not as half as busy as you, you're even
starting to sound like him...easy now." He raised his hands and
smiled. "It was a joke. Anyways. We don't have a lot of ... organic
focus around here. You're what, one of maybe two or three geneticists?
And you're still working on an electric engineering degree."
A hand was waved casually in the air. "I'm done with that degree,
thank you very much."
"Mmm." He plopped down on a chair beside her. "Nice picture of the
doctor there, anyways. Now, are you about done, so I can drive you
home?" She blinked and looked up, and one could almost miss the colour
that flooded across and then away from her cheeks.
"Oh, damn it all, Bertram, will you give me no peace? Yes, yes, I'm
coming, let me just finish this slide." She sighed and went through
the proper procedures, sliding the glass into the little lab's
refrigeration unit. Bert grabbed her coat, handing it out as she
walked past, flicking off the lights.
"You know I just worry about you, Gena." He wasn't so much older then
her to be fatherly, maybe a big brother, but the feeling was there.
She smiled again, sliding on her coat as they walked down the halls
and outside. "You've got no one else around here, no family. If my
posh little self can't watch out for you, who will?"
"I know, Bert, and I appreciate it." She smiled and patted his hand.
"You and Mira have been very kind."
"We do what we must!" He chuckled, then looked down at her, his tone
gentler now as he held a car door open for her. "You need ... someone,
or more friends. You can't be holed up in that lab all the time,
pining away, because you know that...."
The familial scene was broken by Gena's sharp voice, slamming the
proffered door shut for a moment. "That is quite enough, Dr.
Clarkson!" The older gentleman looked at her for another moment, then
sighed and nodded, and she proceeded to slip inside. Trembling hands
brushed away the loose strands of hair as Bert slid into the driver's
seat, and she nodded briskly. "Sorry. Perhaps I am over tired. I'll
take your advice and do a half day this weekend."
"It's no worry, my dear. No worry at all."
Back in the lab, as the refigerator went into to lockdown mode, there
seemed to be a little bit of a blue spark, a crackle of energy as the
lights went off....
The Next Day....
Shoulders set. Glasses perched. Lab coat... spotless. Genavieve gave
herself another quick once over in the mirror, then spun around and
marched neatly to the next room, where Tesla was arguing with another
scientist. He was in his shirtsleeves again, pointing several times
over at a sheaf of blueprints while the poor red faced bastard was
trying to rally his intellect.
"No no no no! Not like this! I've had enough of this AC/DC argument,
that isn't a factor in this plan! We're getting into physics. Arc
flow, with a rapid transmission of energy and OR data within the given
parameters of the experiment."
"Dr. Tesla, with all due respect, I drew up the plans according to
the specifications given to me by this office..."
"And they are wrong. See here, and here? Did you try subsituting..."
Gena waited patiently by the door, idly flipping her omnispresent 3D
lightpad back and forth. Said scientist was sputtering while Tesla was
calmly pointing out the mistakes, and the language involved lots of
things quantum. Tesla finally thrust the papers back at the man, who
grumbled and stormed off, shuffling them back into the proper order.
Stepping aside, Gena was able to get a glimpse of the ID badge as the
man went through the door.
"Ah, an engineer. I thought he was one of the boys from down in the
"Nein. They're worse then the architects." He smiled ruefully, then
gave her another look. "Ah. The presentation?"
"Yes, doctor. The reporters are filing into the conference room now."
She gave him a calm, sympathetic look. "Can I please tell them you'll
be able to make it this time?"
The good doctor sighed and looked to the formal jacket hanging on
it's peg. "Briefly, then I must return to the main floor T-PAD. If we
are going to have this operational for a public demonstration we must
hurry." He rubbed the bridge of his nose, then grabbed the jacket and
shrugged it on. Gena let out a short sigh of relief, hardly looking
down as her fingers flew across her touchpad device.
"Very good, sir."
"Ech, whatever happened to notebooks? Or those cell phones you lot
are always touting around." He focused sharp eyes on her dancing
fingers, and Gena looked up briefly in surprise.
"Well, this is just purely convenient, and practical. I'm telling our
people that you're coming, so your notes will be readily available on
the podium display."
"Mm. As you say." He adjusted the jacket, while Gena stepped forward
to offer a critical eye, straightening his collar, whipping out a comb
to make sure not a hair was out of place.
"Right this way, doctor." She smiled and stepped back, leading him to
the appropriate conference room. Tesla set his own shoulders, nodding
to his assistant with appreciation, then stepped out beyond the door
and through the curtains to a flurry of flashes and questions. Gena
waited, face smoothly blank as Tesla fielded the question the
reporters were throwing his way. Only half paying attention, she
juggled reorganizing his schedule and then her own research notes,
looking up now and then and nodding to offer support.
"So, Dr. Tesla, what do you hope to accomplish? We've been hearing
rumors that what you're working on is nothing more then an
overglorified 'generator'," a man in the back called out. Tesla smiled
patiently and shook his head.
"Thank you for the oversimplification, good sir. The San Fran
Gazette, yes?" The man nodded. "Ah. No, what we are hoping to
accomplish is not exactly along the lines of a clean burning fission
reactor, as many have assumed." Which had, in fact, already been made,
but it was small scale and they hadn't been able to make it feasible
for large scale energy production. So it ran the facility and they cut
down on the electric bill. Gena tapped away as Tesla continued to
speak over another bout of shouting.
"We have been working on modifying current...modern...clean energy
capabilities, as an aside, but the demonstration slated for later this
week will hopefully prove the validity of my original force field
There was silence for a moment, while Tesla smirked just a little,
tiny bit, as the reporters and publicists tried to determine what he
meant. Finally, a blonde in the front row frowned and spoke, but
slowly. "You mean... the dome shield?"
"It involves something a little more complex with quantum mechanics,
but broadly, yes."
The room exploded, and Tesla let the crowd roar and shout before
clapping softly, waiting while they began to calm down. "Now, before
you say anything else, no, it is not one of those...science fiction
tricks, nor any fanciful kind of shielding. This technology, as it
stands, cannot make something from nothing, as much as it already
bends the laws of physics."
Gena mentally rolled her eyes. He loved saying that.
"Nor is it a precursor to teleportation. The device requires immense
amounts of energy to manipulate matter, breaking it down and building
it up and a great deal more things that I cannot explain in detail
right now, or we'd be here all day." This was accompanied with some
light laughter, amid the general buzz of excitement. "When we are
ready to use it, booklets will be given out explaining the mechanics,
that should clarify things more." Tesla raised a final hand in good
bye, and simply walked off the stage, while Gena had to step up and
use her quiet voice and firm presence to field the last few protests.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please, we're very busy here tonight, Dr.
Tesla more so then anyone else. If you'd like a good show you'd better
let him get about his work." More laughter. "You will be issued
invitations to the public demonstration Dr.Tesla mentioned and a time
table of the evening on your way out. Thank you very much for
attending, and have a pleasant day." She then walked off as well,
scurrying to catch up with the doctor.
"I must say, Miss Ciernik, you handled that lot admirably well.
Thanks be to God that I hired you." He let out a sigh and handed her
his coat as the walked. She huffed a bit and juggled the handful of
material in her arms with her lightpad.
"Th...thank you, doctor. Speaking of, I was wondering if you'd like
to discuss the procedure this evening? I've been back and forth in the
lab all morning and I've been going over the device plans--"
"And?" He turned briskly into the elevator. She still carried his
"I'm a little worried." Gena had to take a breath for that one,
keeping her eyes firmly fixed on her little device as Tesla fell
suspiciously silent. "I mean, I understand it's not my specific field,
but I've begun to notice some rather odd correlations with the data
I've been getting from my expiriments upstairs, and I thought I'd
better mention it."
"Ahh." He gave her a polite smile as the door opens and they emerged
in the hallway leading past her office. "Causation and correlation,
Miss Ciernik, you know the old saying. Even with proof there's not
necessarily anything that will be a problem. Besides, as you said,
this isn't your field. You're working on a doctorate in genetics..."
He trailed off and then looked more sympathetic. "Forgive me. I've
missed how hard you have been working on your thesis, and have been
demanding far too much of your attention, haven't I?"
"Dr. Tesla, really, I'm well aware of..." She stared at him as he
gently cut her off, feeling frustrated for not the first time. He was
a genius. More then a genius, brilliant and creative and so many
wonderful, incredible things all at once, but he was still the same
Tesla he had been, in so many ways. Like now. He respected women,
always had, and always treated them as intellectual equals but there
was still this polite gentility, and the annoying habit of deferring a
problem, however gently he did it, if he didn't really think it
important. Not condescension, but damned near close. And you never
could quite figure out if he was doing it on purpose or not.
"I know, but you're running a PR conference when you ought to be
making use of your turn with the superconductors." He took his coat
back, still smiling. Gena wrinkled her nose and slapped her lightpad,
full of data on vibrant display, down on a nearby table to get his
attention. Add to all that the many lingering mental quirks.
"Please, doctor, you know I know better then to distract you with
meaningless problems." She frowned and pointed. "Here, look. The same
readings, except mine are coming from genetically manipulated cells."
This, thankfully, did cause him to pause and examine the data. He
skimmed through the files, frowning with thought, then placing the pad
back in her hands.
"It is...fascinating, I'll admit. I'm sorry I cut you off." He
glanced down at his watch. "But it is as I suspected. There is
something here that bears further research, perhaps even for a future
project, but nothing that will cause any problems with the arc flow or
the mechanics. I promise you that, and now I must be going." He
smiled, speaking with that same, level politeness he always did.
"We'll speak on this later, yes? Have a good day."
Gena sighed and nodded, but much of her frustration and already some
of her concern was fading. Perhaps she was overworked. "Have a good
day, Dr. Tesla."
Things were getting really, really busy later that evening. Gena was
darting back and forth in the large, plasti-glass walled room that was
overhanging the test space below. Screens upon screens were set up,
data was streaming in from numerous points, and she tapped on at least
5 keyboards in as many minutes. Down below, the scene was not much
different. Tesla was moving back and forth, checking on capacitors,
inspecting the three arcs overheard...then the three concentric rings
inset into the pad's base...then the three large energy controls that
he'd be maniuplating on the ground floor. Gena would be recording the
procedure and monitoring most of the results as it progressed,
relaying back and forth with Tesla below. Beside her, Bertram was busy
as well, scooting about on his rolling chair.
"How's the output looking, Gene?"
"Very good, Bertie," she half shouted over the hum of the machines.
"Everyone nearly in place? Dr. Tesla was very strict about authorized
personnel down there."
"Oh, that's no problem. The other scientists aren't exactly eager to
be too close." He laughed. Gena paused a moment to peer through the
windows and rolled her eyes.
"Oh, the safety protocols have been triple checked and then some.
He's got three redundancies built in, as usual, and besides, no one's
allowed within 20 feet mininum." There was a crackle over the
intercom, heavy with static. Gena sighed. "Of course, the electrical
interference wasn't considered a terrible priority...yes, doctor?"
"Are you just about ready to begin synchronization up there, Miss
Ciernik?" Tesla's voice was barely legible, but he sounded tense, and
"Absolutely...now, doctor." She whisked over to another terminal,
watched a bar climb upwards. "Ready when you are. Bertram?"
"Aye aye, levels are holding. Ready."
"Good. Okay, everyone, places! Synchronization will begin in 15
seconds!" Tesla shouted out and below scientists and engineers
scattered, taking their spots at other computer terminals or at the
display seating. Both Gena and Bertram had both hands hovering over
seperate keyboards as they kept steady eyes on their monitors.
"5...4..." Tesla took his spot, hands hovering over two 3D light
panels. His eyes narrowed, the pitch of the engines began a slightly
different hum. "Switching to main power now."
"Capacitors ready." Gena called out.
"Main power...online." Bertram followed.
"3...2...1...sync now!" As all three hit 'Enter', there was a slight
hiccup in the lighting, a slight dimming of the standard bulbs, and
then the room suddenly became quieter, the electrical hum smoother.
Both Gena and Bertram let out held breaths as Tesla chuckled.
"Excellent! Perfect form everyone, well done. All right, secondary
personnel take your spots." The flurry of activity resumed again as a
small brigade of student scientists and others filled both the upper
lab and the area immediately around Tesla. Gena had her eyes
intensely focused on her screen, hands gliding with all the precision
and grace of a violinist over her touch screens and keyboards.
"Energy levels rising, Dr. Tesla; we're ready to begin."
"Good. Initiate stage one." Tesla flicked a switch, and the large
metal pad in the centre of the room suddenly clicked and began to hum.
The voices hushed as everyone focused, or watched as lights began to
steadily grow within the concentric circled floor of the pad. Bert,
Gena, Tesla, all were perfectly silent as they worked, quick but
steady, rehearsing roles already long practiced. Enormous amounts of
power were going to be required to get the test shield going, since
they still didn't know if the device worked yet or even what it'd be
capable of, and that meant precise and careful control on all ends. It
was like parking a transport truck into a local Denny's parking lot.
"Stage one initiated." Gena read out in a calm, cool tone that some
of the others had jokingly referred to as her "Ship's Computer" voice.
Now the circles in the pad floor glowed brighter, and soft clicking
and sliding was heard as things began to shift and lock into place,
then shift again as Tesla took primary control and began manipulating
the arc flow. The arcs over head were steadily beginning to absorb
energy, and after a minute or so, began to snap and crackle with what
was becoming Tesla's signature "style". The good doctor began to smile
as his hands began to move faster. "Readings?"
"Steady, doctor. The generator's holding up so far," Bertram
murmured, nearly fused to his screen. He only jumped a little when the
arches snapped out their energy.
"Ja, ja...iniate stage two." Now the hum was becoming more pitched,
the circles shifting faster. Tesla flipped another switched, and his
delight turned into a frown of concentration as he continued to work
the circles. "Holding...the flow patterns need a little more
"Initaiting...Bertram, do shut up. One more Star Trek reference and
I'm telling Mira about those sandwiches you always sneak in," she
muttered quickly while Bert made a face.
"No fair... increasing energy input, Dr. Tesla." He half chuckled,
and they were back on track. Gena kept flicking her eyes from the
scene below and her own screens, and kept frowning. The generators
began to whine, then the arches began to really hum and spark as
flashes of light began to snap between them and the floor pad. The
circles clicked away, sliding becoming a rushing sound.
"Doctor, I'm monitoring the capacitors and they're holding well, but
we need to stabilize the fluctuations. Once the energy gets through
"It's fine, Miss Ciernik." Tesla's hand did something off to the
side, and she sighed with relief. "Now....ah, hm."
One could usually trust Tesla to remain cool, collected, and
understate the problem. With a simple "hmm", everyone else could
notice the sudden upswing in energy output, the flashes and snaps
becoming more pronounced, while at the same time monitors in the
immediate area began to flicker. Several lost power, as cries of
dismay and worry indicated.
"Doctor! The lines are failing!" Bertram nearly stood up in his seat.
"This is...uh...drawing more power then we expected."
"I'm pulling power from the upper levels." Gena grunted, hands
flashing back and forth. Below, the shield pad was still sucking
power, and most of the displays now were completely shut down, save
"More, please." The doctor muttered.
"Doctor, I can't..." Bert gaped.
"If we lose flow even for a millisecond the entire experiment is
compromised. We've only got a little longer to reach peak efficiency!"
Gena and Bert shared glances. Other scientists were backing away from
useless equipment, the room growing darker while the lightning in the
centre continued to glow almost a brillaint white. They clustered
behind Tesla. "Switch to the fusion reactor. I'm modifying the
couplings for new output, be ready to sync and tell me when the lines
There was a dead silence from the lab, overshadowed by the rushing
sound of the energy Tesla was guiding. Gena gaped. "Doctor...I..." She
and Bert were already, frantically, adjusting the upper lab's
equipment for the new surge almost on automatic. "We're not prepared
for that! A new energy input at this point..."
"I know what I'm doing, Ciernik. I designed the filters, I know what
they're capable of." Tesla placed his hand on a third switch and
coldly began to speak. "We can't stop now. Initiating stage three,
modify for cold fusion power...now."
"Dammit, ready and syncing...now." Bert and Gena spoke in unison,
even down to the cursing. At this point, they really had no choice but
to go along. There was way, way too much electrical energy rushing
through the experiment to just cut things willy nilly, and what might
happen didn't seem as scary as what would happen if the entire shield
pad and arches went dead. "Lines ready."
With a single, sudden burst of energy, every light in the building
went out. Starting from the far wings and working inwards, the entire
system began to shut down, save for where the full (and as of yet, not
entirely tested or understood) power of Tesla's new cold fusion
reactor began to roar it's way into their machines. Bertram swore and
had to tug out his ear piece and cast it aside, as did Gena, as the
interference set up a sharp whistling. The little bits of plastic
nearly burst before they were cast off. The lab machines were
prepared, but barely, and Gena held her breath as her monitor
flickered, then came back online with no apparent change in the
screen. That soon changed.
Tesla let out a clear "Ha!" as his circles began truly spinning
within the pad. The new energy appeared to turn the lightning arcing
between the two pieces a light blue, and Gena began running new
programs to monitor the change. Her eyes widened.
"Oh...." The readings suddenly and dramatically shifted. Sure, the
input leaped up exponentially, but that wasn't the surprise. It was
the cold fusion energy now being channelled into the experiment.
An intrinsic part of the whole process had been the filters, using
superconductors, that Tesla himself had personally designed, and that
no one else entirely understood. This would allow incoming electrical
energy to be turned into or processed into...something...that
according to the good doctor would help create the shields themselves.
The final stage would be when he directed the metal circles into the
correct alignment with that energy, which the arches would emit. What
they hadn't accoutned for, however, was another kind of energy being
used. Electricity was safe, standard, reliable. Cold fusion most
certainly was not. Yet.
Gena realized, with growing horror, that whatever was being
channelled was not merely converted electricity. Oh, it looked nearly
the same out there, the same traditional lightning effect, but there
was a strange...organic quality to the readings, to the way it moved
and began creeping through the arches. She looked up and through the
glass and saw the arches begin to tremble, as on top of it all the
input went even higher, far more then what the engineers and Tesla had
designed things for.
"Doctor! Doctor, watch the....dammit!" She slammed the desk. Even had
the earpieces not been burnt out, the signal would've been useless. A
rushing sound was starting to fill the chamber as Tesla worked the
circles faster and faster. He was too focused to notice the danger.
Gena then banged on the plastiglass, as hard as she could, pointing to
the experiment. He finally looked up and swore, with a gesture
indicating he was not leaving his station. "Dammit, no, not that!" She
stared down at her screen and the energy readings spiked again.
"Bertie, take the helm, I...." With a single, sharp movement, Gena
bolted from the room, leaving Bertram to stare wide eyed at the
"What the...oh, shit...Gena! You can't!"
Too late. Everyone else down in the lab had already run, but Tesla
was frantically working the controls to try and keep things in one
piece, steady. As long as he was there, perhaps, the shield experiment
could continue...even though arc lightning was starting to snap and
flash dangerously close and even the metal arches, bolted to the
floor, were beginning to tremble with the sheer output of energy being
forced through them. It was only a matter of time before...
Gena came flying through the door and right towards Tesla. She had to
dodge as the lightning knocked loose some overhead lighting. Tesla
finally set his panel on automatic and darted ahead to stabilize one
of the loose couplings.
For a split second, Gena could see Tesla's panel begin locking the
concentric circles into place.
<i>Lightning was flashing everywhere. Tesla had slid on heavy rubber
gloves and had just snapped the coupling back into place. He didn't
</i>She moved faster then she thought she could've. One circle locked
into place and one of the couplings just blew right off the frame. <i>
Tesla jumped and looked up, ducking and following the path of the
blown coupling even as the one he'd been handling began to tremble.
</i>The second circle locked in. Another blown coupling rocketed past
and smashed through Tesla's control panel. Gena could hear an odd sort
of whistling in her ears.<i>
Tesla just felt as if a sandbag had been thrown at him, a heavy thump
that suddenly pushed him out of the way. A surprisingly strong push
that launched him well into a safer zone.
</i>She just...reached out and shoved, buckling one shoulder down,
lifting, and the older man was out of the way. Gena had just enough
time to absorb the moment, seeing Tesla pushed beyond a bank of
computers. She smiled a little.<i>
Tesla watched Gena in astonishment, as the final circle slid fully
into place. The odd look of relief on her face changed to one of pain
and surprise as lightning lashed out, and she was blown into the very
centre of the electrical storm that now was whirling in the middle of
the metal pad. Upstairs and down, people watched for that breathless
moment, before an incredibly bright and pure flash of light blinded
them. All the other lights, all the power, just...cut out, completely.
Tesla raised his arm over his eyes and looked away, but tried to see
through narrowed and squinting eyes.
What played out almost seemed to occur in slow motion. The arches
cracked and fell as the ball of light formed within the binds of the
three circle pad, but they didn't crash to the floor. The arc flow,
powered now by the cold fusion reactor, kept the arches in some
strange pattern of it's own, half floating and half stabilized. They
spun gently, as all the noise and all the fury and all the energy
suddenly seemed to calm and still. Tesla...Bertram...the
others...lowered their arms and stared.
The ball of light hovered for a moment more, before someone in the
background gasped softly. A shadowy, female figure could just be seen
within it. Then the ball began to fade...but the light and the figure
remained. A crystalline figure of pure...transparent...light.
Heads raised cautiously over counters, Bertram and some of the
engineers and workers began to filter down into the lab, while Tesla
struggled to his feet and stared. As things seemed safe, quiet, a
small crowd gathered around Tesla and the experimental shield
The woman continued to hover, the only source of light now.
Tesla stepped forward, right to the edge...stopped...the woman had
her head bent slightly downwards, her arms hanging by her sides. It
was hard to tell if she was wearing clothes or not, as the lines, the
light, seemed to blur in and out of each other. But the face..
He leaned in.
The voice didn't seem to come from any one place, if it was even a
voice. More a pressure or a trembling of the air. Her eyes opened, two
pale glowing orbs only slightly more opaque then the rest of her. She
looked at the doctor, expression impossible to read.
More information about the racc