Chapter 15: Papa Papa

“Miss Jane, Papa is in trouble,” says Juno.

Several hours after Amelio had dropped Juno off at the school, Juno has been relatively quiet attending to the matters of the school. She acted very calmly even though she know that her brother has mysteriously disappeared. She had finished mopping the floor of the bathroom with her group and was memorizing the ancient scrolls when she felt a little nauseated. Juno has this particular sense for others. She can feel pain and happiness of another person just walking by the person. Now she is feeling something quite different and far.

“What it is dear?” asked Miss Jane, Juno’s class teacher.

“Miss Jane, something awful is happening and I see my papa in a flying incident,” replied Juno.

“Juno, how do you know that it is your father?”

“I am very certain Miss Jane. Last time this happened, it was a small mishap in the kitchen with the faucet bursting and my father was all drenched. But this time is more serious.”

“Juno, you can see things in the future?”

“Can’t you?” replied Juno with a sincere surprise?

“No, no, Juno, most people cannot see into the future,” replied Miss Jane with a calm smile. “What is your father’s communicator id. Let me see if I can reach him now to see if he is safe.”

“Here it is.” Juno hands a little card that her papa had given her for emergency. On it are the contact information. Miss Jane took the card with slight urgency and runs back to her desk and punched in the communicator id.

The light on the communicator board flashed…and flashed…but no answer. The signal was barely getting through.

“Miss Jane, someone is jamming the signal,” exclaimed one kid who was curious enough to be looking over the shoulder of Miss Jane.

“Max, sit down,” commanded Miss Jane.

“But Miss Jane, that is a typical signal jamming problem.”

“Max, you are in kindergarten and you are telling me about jamming signals?!”

“Miss Jane, I know how to fix that. I saw my papa do it all the time.”

“I don’t believe this. What don’t you act your age and play with toys and stuff.”

“I do,” says Max with a smirk. “I play with papa’s toys.”

“Okay, Max. So if this is signal jamming. What can we do.? The jamming is coming from the outside.” says Miss Jane with a little more seriousness.

“This guy is a novice. Its a very weak jam. All we have to do is modulate our signal at random so that his machine cannot guess what frequency we are transmitting. We then send a checksum signal to tell the receiving end how to decode the modulation.”

“Max, Miss Jane never had signal theory,” whispers Jane into Max’s ear.

“Oh, I am sorry. Miss Jane, we just outwit the jammer. Let me take care of it.”

Miss Jane steps away from her chair to let Max sit and control the console. He looks like an expert sitting in that chair. Quickly punching a few button and turning some dials, the communicator starts ringing. The signal strength is now back to normal.

“See, Miss Jane? Piece of cake.”

“Don’t piece of cake me you. You are not getting any cakes today.” says Miss Jane sternly. “We have to find out if Juno’s dad is in trouble.”

The signal goes through and Amelio voice speaks out from the com board. “Who is this,” asks Amelio.

“Max, sir. Juno’s friend at school”

“Why are you calling on a unidentified frequency?”

“Sir, our signals are being jammed. Juno says you might be in trouble so we want to call you to make sure.”

“Well, we had a few troubles but nothing too serious that we cannot handle,” replies Amelio. “Tell Juno, that papa is in the middle of something and will call her back.”

“Sir, don’t hang up. There is something that Juno wants to tell you.”

But before Max can put another word in, the communication ended.

“Miss Jane, papa is in trouble,” repeats Juno.

“Are you so sure dear?” asks Miss Jane now with a little nervousness.

“Yes, Miss Jane. I want to see my papa”

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Chapter 14: Flying Over Zone 4 (中英對照)

“What’s that shimmering light over there?” I ask as our craft is swiftly taking us to Mount Sediq.David brings up the navigational panel on a touchable HUD. He presses the HUD at the location of the shimmering light.

“Zone 4 Colony Temple. Distance 3 kilometers,” announced the computer. “Established 20 years AFHA (*after first human arrival), it houses several deities of home planet Earth and became a very popular place of worship. After the Zajim Incidence 30 AFHA, Zone 4 has been evacuated. No known habitation is currently known in that area.”

“That’s strange. There shouldn’t be anyone there,” says David.

“What is the Zajim Incidence?” I ask.

“Zajim Incidence. Yes, it was a peculiar incidence that happened 15 years ago. As you can guess, it was not highly publicized. The establishments in Zone 4 was a bit unique. The inhabitants were very traditional to the ways of the Earth. They insist to terraforming their surrounding to replicate Earth rather than fitting in to the Pollux b environment. This was all fine except it was very expensive.”

“How come I don’t know about this?” I ask.

“You don’t have enough clearance,” David replied.

“What do you mean I don’t have enough clearance! I am the key projector of this area and I have…” I respond with a bit of ire.

“Nope, not enough clearance. They don’t pay you enough.” quips David.

“Alright, tell me more.”

“Nope, you don’t have enough clearance.” replied David again.

“Well clear me!” I give David a stern stare. “If this has to do with Brutus…”

“Alright, alright…look don’t tell anyone.”

“David, the CCS (Central Computer System) tracks everything.”

“I know, but I know how to delete the records”

“What? Really?”

“Computer, Amelio Hong, Clearance level AAA. Authorization code 14142135621921”

“Amelio Hong, key projector at Gama Corporation. Clearance permitted,” the computer responded

“Computer. Initiate record deletion in 5 minutes.” “Record deletion timer inititated,” responds the computer.

“David, I thought you are just a geophysicist.” David looks ahead with a smirk on his face. ” You have only five minutes to retrieve as much information as you need.”

“That’s plenty of time. Computer, compile and list all files related to the Zajim Incidence 30AFHA.”

“2 records” responded the computer. I was expecting a huge torrent of data but to my surprise there were only 2 records. It looks like someone really want to keep the incidence hush hush.

“Display,” I command the computer.

“First record, an aerial photo of Zone 4 after the incidence. Second record, a report by an Patrol Officer. Displaying the aerial photo.”

A black and white photo of Zone 4 appears on the HUD. “Computer magnify 10 time section G4” That was the location of the temple.

“My goodness David, is that what I think it is?”

“什麼是微弱的燈光那邊呢?”我為我們的工藝要求,迅速帶領我們登上賽德克語。大衛帶來了導航面板上觸摸HUD的。他壓在波光粼粼的光的位置在HUD。

“4區殖民地寺距離3公里,”宣布的計算機。 “成立20年來AFHA(*後,人類第一次到達),設有數家地球神崇拜成為非常受歡迎的地方。Zajim發病後的30 AFHA,4區已被疏散。沒有已知的居住地是目前已知的在該地區。“

“這很奇怪。不應該有任何人有,說:”大衛。

“是什麼Zajim的發病?”我問。

“Zajim發病率。是的,這是15年前發生的一個奇特的發病率。正如您可以猜到,這是沒有大張旗鼓地宣傳。該機構是在4區位獨特,是非常傳統的方式對地球的居民。他們堅持terraforming的其周圍的複製,而不是地球裝修波呂克斯b環境。這是一切優秀的,除非它是非常昂貴的。“

“為什麼我不知道這個嗎?”我問。

“你沒有足夠的空間,”大衛說。

“你是什麼意思,我沒有足夠的間隙!我這方面的關鍵,投影機和我……”我回應與憤怒位。

“不,沒有足夠的空間。他們不付給你就夠了。”妙語連珠大衛。

“好吧,告訴我更多。”

“不,你沒有足夠的空間。”大衛再次回答。

“好清楚!”我給大衛船尾瞪眼。 “如果這與布魯特斯……”

“好吧,好吧……看不告訴任何人。”

“大衛,中央計算機系統(CCS)跟踪的一切。”

“我知道,但我知道如何刪除記錄”

“什麼?真的嗎?”

“計算機間隙,阿梅里奧香港,AAA級。授權代碼14142135621921”

“阿梅里奧香港,關鍵伽馬公司的投影機。間隙允許的,”電腦回應

“電腦啟動在5分鐘內記錄的刪除。” “記錄刪除定時器inititated的,”計算機響應。

“大衛,我還以為你只是一個地球物理學家。”大衛展望了他的臉傻笑。 “你只有五分鐘,檢索你需要盡可能多的信息。”

“這就是充裕的時間。電腦,編譯並列出有關的Zajim發病30AFHA所有文件。”

“紀錄”回應電腦。我期待的數據的巨大洪流,但出乎我的意料,只有2條記錄。它看起來像真的有人想的發病率保持噓噓。

“顯示,”我的電腦指揮。

“第一條記錄,4區後的發病率。第二個記錄的航拍照片顯示,巡警的報告。航拍照片。”

4區的黑白照片出現在HUD上。 “計算機放大10時間段G4”這是寺廟的位置。

“天哪大衛,是我認為它是什麼?”

 

Chapter 13: Enter the Mountain

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“David, how can we get to Mount Sediq?” I asked. “Do you have a back up transportation.”

“Back up? Amelio, I always have back up,” says David with a wide grin on his face. He pulls out his communicator from his pocket and pressed a red button.

“Access code please,” says the communicator in an enchanting feminine voice.

“314159265” says David. I gave him a look. “That’s just silly”.

“Secondary authentication password,” says the communicator again. This time David pulls another gadget out of his pocket. It is an authentication code generator. He pressed the button on it and out comes a string of gibberish.

“Authentication code 2L7M1K8B2Z8R1M8M3T1921,” David reads to the communicator. The numbers 1921 catches my attention. I don’t know why. It isn’t any number that I can readily recall.

“Authorization cleared,” announced the gadget.

Then the ground started shaking as David’s lawn opens up and a transporter was elevated to the surface.

“Huawei ZL. Nice! Must be a few years since you took it for a ride.”

“Nope, I take it for a ride every so often so that it stays in shape for emergencies. Hop on we are going to the mountain in style”

David, I and his son jumped into the sporty transporter and fastened our seat belts.

“So where to Amelio, Mount Sediq has quite a few peaks. What are we looking for?”

“I am not quite sure myself. There aren’t many clues. Let’s just start with any of the early Earth outposts. Was there ever any settlement there?”

“During the first arrival, there was an outpost set up there. However, something happened and the outpost was abandoned.”

“Let’s see what’s there. I get the feeling that this is something about the past.”

“Alright, hang on, this little craft is quite zippy.”

“Wait a minute!” I exclaimed. “Check your system programs and make sure it is clear of any bugs.”

“Good idea.”

David runs a diagnostic of all its systems. “All clear,” he says. “It’s better to be safe than sorry,” I say.

David pressed the ignition button, enters the outpost name to the navigation system and pulls the speed lever to 3/4 full speed.

“Don’t you warm up your vehicles before dashing off like that?”

“Amelio, this vehicle isn’t that old. You still do that?” I silently noded in acknowledgement.

“So what is the name of the outpost?” I ask.

“White Tiger,” he responded. “Have you ever been there?”

“Well I read a lot about it and flew over it once but never really spent much time there”

“Sounds scary.”

“We will see soon.”

Chapter 12: Dear Wife

“What?!”, screamed my wife on the communicator. I held the communicator at a distant as I hear her ranting how irresponsible that I was in making Bruno disappear. “But but…” I tried to explain that this is not your typical disappearance and most importantly I didn’t cause it. It just happened. But that didn’t matter. My wife was so concerned that she would not let me off the hook. But then she realized that all that expression of concerns wasn’t going to help find Brutus. So she said with some sensibility “So what are you going to do about it now?”

That was my cue to show how I have all the steps figured out, that I would find Brutus in no time and she would praise how smart her husband is.

“Well, here are the steps,” I told her. I went through step by step about how I might find Brutus. I have a sense of what might be

going on. But right now they are no more than just conjectures, ideas of the mind. I need facts and verifications.

“You better find Brutus ASAP. How is Juno?”

“In school. She should be fine there. Mel, my cousin. You remember? Tall with glasses? He is suppose to come and help me decipher these glyphs. But he hasn’t showed up.”

“Mel? Yes I remember him. Why is he here?”

“He said it was something urgent. There are a lot of strange things happening right now. Fiona, stay put and watch for anything strange. We are up again something rather big here. Did I mentioned my transporter was brought down by a intentional virus attack?”

“No, you forgot to mention that.”

“Oh, sorry. Our transporter is being towed by the insurance to repair. I don’t know if it will survive the repair.”

“Amelio, stop worrying about your transporter! The kids!”

“Right, the kids”

Fiona hangs up the phone. I look to David who is holding the hand of his child looking to the distance.

I also look in that direction. In the distance, there is a mesmerizing mountain range. Then it strikes me.

“David, hand me the glyph,” I hurriedly said to him.

“Mountain, David. Mountain. This glyph is the symbol for mountain.”

“Mountain?”

“Yes, mountain. How many mountains are there around here?”

“Well, that is the major one. It’s tallest peak is about 1500 meters and average height about 900 meters.”

“What’s it called?”

“Mount Sediq, named after some aboriginal tribe back on earth.”

“Who named it?”

“I did,” David quipped.

“Don’t you have anything better to do as a geophysicist?” I smile and said.

“They don’t pay me well, but I figure I should have some fun.”

“David, is your transporter still here?” “Sure, why?”

“We are going to Mount Sediq”

Chapter 11: Disaster upon Arrival

Because all powers have failed, my transporter is now coasting on inertia. The gravitational pull ensures that I am on a parabolic path to somewhere but it most likely will overshoot David’s house. So at some point I will have to say good bye to my good old transporter and jettison out and parachute down to the destination.

What will happen to my transporter? I don’t know. I had it for almost 15 years so it has seen a large part of my life. These transporters from work are tracked by the insurance company in case of emergency failure like this one. So most likely they are already sending out emergency vehicles to intercept the transporter before it crashes to the ground. It is more about the casualties the vehicle might cause rather than the vehicle itself.

Many minutes have passed and I can see the destination at a distance. I gather my belongings in a satchel and get ready for the jump. I punched in the longitude and latitude into my handheld computer. It calculates the time to jettison and starts the count down. 3 minutes…..2 minutes…..1 minute….30 seconds…10 seconds…9…8…7…6…5….4….3….2….1….I manually pulled the jettison trigger and I was sent high up into the thin air. The parachute opened properly and I started my long descend toward David’s house.

David is sharp as ever and saw me coming in style from far above and so was very kind to flash a red signal so I would know where to land. And land I did, although my knees didn’t like it very much. It has been a while since I had to do this.

David welcomed me with a big hug but Mel has not arrived yet. That’s okay. He is typically late. But behind us the scene is a little more of a surprise. David’s house is completely transformed. The house has a strange dark shade to it making it look like a haunted house.

“David, what happened to your house?,” I ask. “Why did it take you so long to call me about Brutus?”

“Amelio, I should ask you what happened to your transporter?,” David says. “Strange things are happening, Amelio. Very strange things,” he continues. “After I found out that Brutus disappeared, I looked for him around the neighborhood. When I returned to my house, it has been transformed to what you see here.”

“Have you seen the inside of it? Is it still the same?” I ask. “Well, I attempted to go inside but the doors won’t budge and the mold on the exterior creeps. It scares the ()**$(*()%3 out of me,” David recalls. “I think the house is alive,” he added.

I gave him a blank stare. Alive? He must be joking. How can a house be alive? “What make you think so?” “See how it is devouring the edges of the property? Slowly but surely. It is alive, Amelio” “So why didn’t you call me at a neighbors house?”

“Amelio, the neighbors have all disappeared!” exclaimed David.

“Disappeared? And you and your kid are the only one left?”

“That’s right. I don’t know why? It took me a long time to locate a communicator to call you.”

“Where’s that glyph that you showed me?”

“Here it is.”

David handed me the glyph. Sure enough, it is an ancient glyph from Earth. But around that glyph are some drawings of animals that I am vaguely familiar. Off to the upper right region of the paper is a picture of big dipper. Although we are on beta Geminorium b, light years away from Earth, the big dipper is only slightly distorted in our sky. So I can recognize that.

“David, Mel know someone who can read this glyph. Let’s solve that first. Then we figure out what happened to Brutus, your house, neighbors, my transporters and everything else.”

“Sounds like a plan, Amelio.”

“Can I borrow the communicator? I need to call my wife.”

Chapter 10: I am a projector

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Several minutes passed. Because one engine is out, the time to get to David’s place doubles so there was still about 20 minutes left. I looked out the side window toward the ground. I could see clearly the various patches of habitations and the network of roads. My present altitude had risen to about 1000 feet and heading north northwest.
The analyzer had been busy reloading the system codes to the transporter but was unable to reload the engine code. I press a button to have the analyzer skip the engine code and continue to load other sections while I think about what might have caused the problem.
After all other codes were loaded, I tried a complete reboot. Now, the engine system is still infected with the virus but the analyzer has completely isolated it so there was no way for it to spread. I turned off all the power to the vehicle for several seconds.
The transporter coasted as the engine shuts down. I let it coast for several more second and then pressed the ignition button again for a complete reboot of the vehicle. After I pressed the button, the one working engine rebooted fine. But when I pressed the analyzer again for engine code reload, lights on the dashboard started blinking. First was the emergency lights, then temperature indicators…soon the whole board was blinking…this transporter is way too old, I think to myself. With the lights all blinking, the transporter suddenly jerks and the power systems all fail.
It can’t get any worse than this. And it looks like I have to coast all the way to David’s house.
So the transporter is now on the list of casualties for this morning.

As the transporter now coasts toward the destination, I noticed something large and ominous out on the horizon of the left window. I pointed my meter scope toward it. It sends a green laser pulse toward the distant object and indicated that the object was several thousand kilometers away. Judging from it’s visual size this object is huge. I enlarge the view with the scope and projected it to the front window. There is actually two objects or structures rather. I roam this region frequently as part of my projects to further understand the region for development but I had never seen these before! What are they? I false colored the image and enhanced its contrast. Vaguely in the image were the letters XF and GB on the two respective structures. XF! That’s the company that just brought down my vehicle! Many thoughts rushed through my mind but I ignored them. For now, I need to find out what happened to my kid, Brutus and to meet up with David and Mel.