Not long after returning from Resline, Counselor Anklin left Bendroff to search for potential Council candidates. One of his first tasks upon his return was to provide a briefing on his travels to the other Council members. He had the three trainees attend so they would experience how the Council operated.
Counselor Anklin met the three trainees at the entrance to the Council Chambers, looking weary but still wearing his usual smile. “I’m sure you’ll find this very interesting,” he declared, with what Mason thought might be a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
All the Counselors, except for Counselor Tranlee, were already seated on the stage. Counselor Anklin led the trainees to the first row of benches near the podium. As Counselor Anklin approached the podium, Counselor Tranlee came rushing in, taking her seat with the other Counselors.
Counselor Anklin waited until she was seated to begin his report.
“As you know, I’ve spent the last month searching for new Council candidates in some of our settlements near the equator. I found several people who are capable of manipulating scientific laws, but unfortunately they currently don’t possess the strength of character necessary to join the Council. I hope that in time these individuals might develop the maturity required to become suitable candidates.”
As soon as he’d finished, Counselor Proust addressed him, a note of frustration in his voice.
“Counselor Anklin, this is the same report you always give us. Why do you find it so difficult to find suitable candidates among our people? If we are to rebuild our world we need more Council members.”
He responded calmly, like it was a well-practiced argument. “Counselor Proust, you know why I act as I do. The powers entrusted to the Council present too great a risk to allow those who aren’t ready to possess them.”
Counselor Proust shook his head and Mason could hear anger in his voice as he responded.
“Look around you Anklin! The war was hundreds of years ago and still our people suffer. We have let fear rule us, preventing us from taking the steps necessary to rebuild our world. You’re too cautious, Anklin.”
Mason noticed Gorwold nodding in agreement as Counselor Proust spoke.
“You may think me cautious,” answered Counselor Anklin, “but as a member of the Council, you know better than most the terrible temptations we face because of the abilities we have. We cannot risk making a mistake in selecting those who will be allowed to join this Council.”
“I understand your caution, Ankin,” said Counselor Tranlee. “However, the Council hasn’t been this small in over a hundred years. Requests for Council help take months to fulfill. I think Counselor Proust makes a valid point.”
“I have to disagree, answered Counselor Janice. “As much as I’d like to accelerate the rebuilding of Myscreth, we cannot lower the standards for those selected to join the Council.”
Counselor Proust gave her a sharp look.
“With all due respect,” he declared with barely restrained anger. “You didn’t have to grow up experiencing the suffering and miseries our people faced. How can you possibly understand that as a Council, it’s our sacred duty to end that suffering as quickly as we can?”
Counselor Janice glared at him. “And growing up on Myscreth,” she shot back, “you should understand how much harm can result from trusting people with powers they’re not ready for.”
“Enough,” called out Counselor Halrous. “This is getting us nowhere.”
“With that I certainly agree,” muttered Counselor Proust furiously as he stood up and walked out of the Council Chambers.
Watching him leave, Mason began to wonder if his being from Earth had prejudiced Counselor Proust against him.
After dinner that night, Mason decided to discuss his concerns about Counselor Proust with Counselor Anklin. He found him in the library reading a history book, its cover well-worn. As he approached, Counselor Anklin looked up from his reading, a smile spreading across his face.
"Something I can do for you Mason?"
Mason shifted uncomfortably. “I wanted to ask you about Counselor Proust.”
Counselor Anklin put his book down.
“What about him?”
“Do you think he’s against people from Earth being on the Council?”
Counselor Anklin shook his head. “Don’t let the events at today’s meeting give you the wrong impression. Counselor Proust is very passionate about helping our people and sometimes that passion leads him to say things that he later regrets. He’s just frustrated that the rebuilding of our world is going so slowly. I’ve had the same argument with him many times, but deep down he wants what’s best for Myscreth. I’ve seen no evidence that he’s against Janice or you being on the Council.”
Counselor Ankin studied Mason for a moment before continuing.
“Let me tell you about Counselor Proust. His parents perished in a salvage expedition when he was seven years old, and he spent his childhood being passed from relative to relative. When I met him, he was eighteen and demonstrated great potential, but emotionally he wasn’t ready. It took another eight years for him to finally reach the point where he could join the Council. You see, he’s had a hard life, even by Myscreth’s standards, and that can change a person.”
Counselor Anklin picked up his book. “Does that answer your question?”
“Yes it does,” said Mason doing his best to sound positive. “Thanks.”
Mason finally reached the point in his training where he would start to learn how to manipulate dynamic laws. He was excited to start, but Counselor Anklin cautioned him not to expect much right away since it required a great deal of time and practice to acquire the ability.
This new phase of his training took place in what looked like a combination gymnasium/class room. The room was about twice the size of the trainee's library, and was littered with miscellaneous objects and equipment. There were generators, blocks, sleds, balls, pots, and a variety of other seemingly unrelated items. About a quarter of the room was set aside as a classroom area, housing a large table, an assortment of chairs, and shelves containing an array of smaller items. When they entered the room, Counselor Anklin gestured towards the table.
"Have a seat Mason."
As he sat down, Counselor Anklin took a small block from one of the shelves and placed the block between them as he sat opposite Mason. He gestured at the room around him.
"This room is where you'll be doing much of your training when not accompanying the Council on their various assignments. All the objects in this room are here to help you understand not only how to manipulate dynamics, but also how different objects are affected by those modifications."
"Before we start, let me tell you a little more about how the power to manipulate scientific laws works." Mason leaned forward in his chair. This is what he'd wanted to know ever since the night the professor has shown up in his apartment.
"As I told you previously, the ability to manipulate scientific laws is due to a rare genetic mutation. Myscreth possesses an energy field, similar to Earth's magnetic field, which permeates everything on the planet. The genetic mutation allows you to use this energy field to manipulate scientific laws."
“So Earth has a similar energy field?”
Counselor Anklin shook his head.
“But I saw you use your abilities on Earth.”
Counselor Anklin gave a small chuckle. “That’s because I took a piece of Myscreth with me.” Going over to a nearby shelf, he brought back a stone the size of his fist and handed it to Mason.
It felt warm to the touch and although hard to tell in the lighted room, Mason thought it was glowing. This was clearly no ordinary stone. “I assume something was done to it.”
Counselor Anklin laughed. “You are learning Mr. Grant. Yes, its energy equation was modified. That stone contains the same amount of energy as a hundred thousand tons of material. Without it, my abilities would be useless on Earth.”
Counselor Anklin put the stone away and continued his explanation.
"The basic concept for manipulating scientific laws is actually quite simple, but putting it into practice can be most difficult. First you must visualize the object that you wish to manipulate."
"You mean just picture it in my mind?"
He shook his head and picked up the block. "It isn't enough to just picture it in your mind. It must be as if the actual object is there. Second, you must conceptualize the scientific law you wish to modify, but not merely as an intellectual concept. It must be a personal extension of yourself."
"What do you mean by personal extension?"
In response, he lightly tapped the block against the table. "When I'm holding this block, it becomes part of me. You need to think of the equation in the same way; not merely as a collection of numbers and symbols, but part of you."
Mason nodded, but wasn't quite sure he entirely understood.
Counselor Anklin continued. "Next, you make whatever modifications you wish to the law. Finally, in your mind, you must merge the modified law and object to imprint the object with the new scientific law."
Mason's head was spinning. He didn't understand how this could be considered simple. Counselor Anklin seemed to sense his confusion.
"It can be overwhelming at first, but the best way to make it more manageable is to concentrate on one step at a time. Today we'll start with the first step; visualizing the object in your mind."
He placed the block back on the table and slowly rotated it.
"You need to make the object so real in your mind that you can take hold of it and look at it from all sides. Now concentrate on this block."
Mason stared at the block and visualized it in his mind. In his mind he tried to reach for the block, but his hand passed through it is as if it were a ghost. He tried it several times, but each time the result was the same. "It's not working," he muttered, frustration evident in his voice.
"Let's give it a rest for a little bit," offered Counselor Anklin kindly. "As I said earlier, this isn't easy and will take time. What I've found helpful is to think of something that is so personal to you, that in your mind it's real. You need to consider the object you wish to manipulate in the same way."
Mason tried again, but this time he thought of his parents, nothing was more real to him than them. He now turned his attention to the block in front of him, concentrating on it with all the intensity he could muster. He could now see it in his mind, but it looked different, more solid. This time when he reached for the block, it felt as if his hand had passed through liquid instead of mist. He smiled.
"It wasn't solid, but there was something there!"
Counselor Anklin seemed surprised, but just nodded and smiled.
"Well done! You're making excellent progress."
Mason tried the exercise several more times and each time he felt a slight bit more resistance when he grabbed at the block in his mind. However, the effort took a lot of concentration and he was soon exhausted.
"I think that's enough for today. No need to overdo it."
Mason gave him a grateful smile.
"You've done well," commented Counselor Anklin as they walked back to the trainees' quarters.
Although at first Mason hadn't been sure of what to think of Claridee, he now looked forward to the opportunities they had to spend time together. Having someone to talk with helped him deal with all the stress of training and missing his parents. She also seemed much happier and no longer mentioned wanting to quit training. He wanted to do something to thank her.
Remembering the Earth dynamics book he'd seen in Counselor Proust's quarters, he looked though the books he'd brought with him. He found a small reference book which listed many of the fundamental equations of structural mechanics. He thought it would be the perfect gift.
When he next saw Claridee studying in the library, he went to his room to get the book. Holding the book behind his back, he walked over to her. Suddenly feeling nervous, he fidgeted with the book behind his back, trying to find the right words. She looked up at him curiously.
"Something on your mind Mason?"
"Um ... I thought you might like this." He shoved the book towards her.
Claridee looked at the book and then up at Mason, a big smile on her face. She jumped up and gave him a quick hug.
"Thank you Mason," but she paused and a serious expression came over her face. "But I wouldn't feel right taking something you brought from Earth."
He looked at her and smiled.
"No, I really want you to have it. I know how much you love structural mechanics."
Claridee leafed through the book, still beaming.
"Thank you Mason, I'll always treasure it."
Over the following weeks he steadily progressed in his training. Now when he visualized the block, he could pick it up, feel its weight, and look at it from any angle. During his training sessions, he would sometimes get the feeling that Counselor Anklin was astonished at how quickly he was progressing, but that he also somehow expected it.
In addition to his training with Counselor Anklin, Mason continued to accompany members of the Council when they were sent on assignments throughout Myscreth. One of those assignments was to travel to Resline with Counselor Proust to modify some newly built transport ships so they could fly.
Counselor Proust barely acknowledged Mason's presence and sat by himself on the transport trip to Resline. Mason was secretly glad about this, as he had no desire to converse with him either. It was late in the evening when they arrived at their destination, and were greeted by a small delegation of city leaders, all of whom Mason recognized. They remembered him and greeted him warmly. One of the female leaders stepped forward.
"Trainee Mason, It's so good to see you again."
She stopped speaking as Counselor Proust glared at her.
Another leader stepped forward hurriedly and bowed. "Welcome to Resline, Counselor Proust. We're honored that you've come to help us."
Counselor Proust gave a dismissive wave.
The leader seemed taken aback, but gestured for them to follow as he ordered workers to gather the luggage. They made their way in silence, along the same route Mason remembered from his previous visit.
When they finally reached the guest quarters, Counselor Proust watched in silence as their luggage was unloaded. He then retired without saying a word to Mason or the leaders. Mason watched the bedroom door close behind him and turned to the leaders.
"On behalf of Counselor Proust and myself, I just want to thank you for your wonderful hospitality. I'm very happy to be back here under better circumstances."
The worried looks on the leaders' faces seemed to ease and the woman who'd spoken to him earlier smiled.
"We're pleased to have you here. If there's anything you need, please let us know."
Looking around the room, Mason was pleased to see that the book on Myscrethian legends he'd seen last time was still there. He sat at the table and started reading, but soon found himself unable to stop yawning and headed for his bedroom. Passing Counselor Proust's room, he thought be heard the sound of muffled voices, but couldn't make out any words. This puzzled him, since he and Counselor Proust were alone in the guest quarters and he hadn't seen anyone else enter. Not knowing what to think, he continued on to his room and prepared for bed.
On the verge of falling asleep, there was a low humming sound followed by a flashing purple light shining under his door. Thinking it a dream, he ignored it and was soon asleep.
The next morning, a young blond haired woman brought a platter of food for Mason and Counselor Proust’s breakfast. Setting the platter before them she bowed and smiled.
“I hope you like it, my mother made it special.”
“It certainly looks delicious,” commented Mason as he filled his plate.
Counselor Proust gave her an icy stare.
“You’ve brought the food, you may now go.”
Mason felt angry as he observed to look of disappointment on the young woman’s face. Without another word she turned and quickly left the room. He tried not to look at Counselor Proust lest he say something he shouldn’t.
After breakfast, the leaders arrived to escort the two of them to the newly constructed transport ships. It seemed they’d learned their lesson from the day before as none of them attempted to engage the two in conversation. They led them to a small plateau located just above the city.
As they reached the ships Mason noticed that they were being loaded to full capacity and wondered why. He was about to ask Counselor Proust about this, but thought better of it. He decided to be prepared for the inevitable questions.
Going through what he knew, he tried to fill in the unknowns. Firstly, transports acted much the same as blimps on Earth. To get off the ground a blimp needed enough lift not only for itself, but for its cargo too. That was the key; the gravity for each transport had to be modified so that it could carry a certain amount of cargo and passengers so it had to be modified while the transport was fully loaded.
Nearing the transports Counselor Proust turned toward him.
“So tell me Trainee Mason, why do you think those transports are being loaded?”
“You need to have the transports fully loaded so that their gravity can be modified to lift not only the transport, but also whatever cargo it may carry.”
Counselor Proust gave him a long stare before responding.
Without another word, he marched towards one of the transports and Mason found himself hurrying to keep up.
At each of the four newly built transports, Counselor Proust would stop and concentrate briefly. As he did so, the transport would slowly rise off the ground until the tethers holding it down became taut. Mason also noticed Counselor Proust concentrating for a second time at each transport, but wasn’t sure why.
Seeing no obvious change in the transport’s behavior after Counselor Proust concentrated for a second time, he tried to think of what other laws might need to be modified. Looking at the transports’ propellers he remembered the first time he’d seen a transport and telling Counselor Anklin that the propellers were too small. If the propellers were too small, the efficiency of the propellers would have to be increased. To Mason, the best way to do that would be to modify their moment equations so they would rotate faster. That must be what he was doing.
After finishing his modifications on the last transport he abruptly questioned Mason.
“What law of dynamics was modified?”
“Actually Counselor Proust, two laws had to be modified. First you modified the gravity of the transport to allow it to float. Second, since the propellers are too small to move such a large structure so you modified their moment equations to improve their efficiency.”
He glared at Mason and walked away. Watching him go, Mason now felt sure that Counselor Proust wanted him to fail.
Upon his return to Bendroff, Mason continued his training sessions with Counselor Anklin. Having mastered visualizing objects, Mason started on the next step of his training: visualizing the dynamics law he wished to modify. This part of the training was easier because the dynamics equations were like old friends to him.
It was during this time that he started having frightening dreams. He’d wake up in a cold sweat unable to remember what they were. This worried him.
After one of their training sessions, Mason told Counselor Anklin about these dreams. As he spoke, he was surprised to see not concern, but astonishment on the Counselor’s face.
“Mason, I’ve always had high hopes for you, but you’ve surpassed my wildest expectations. The dreams you’re experiencing is the first indication of possessing the ability to manipulate scientific laws.”
“But you told me it took years to get to that point.”
“Normally it does.”
The way Counselor Anklin was staring at him made Mason feel self-conscious. The feeling of unease only increased as the tone of Counselor Anklin’s voice turned grave.
“While it’s quite an achievement, it can also be extremely dangerous. We’ll have to accelerate your training so you’ll be ready when your power fully develops. I’ll have to inform the Council of this right away.”
Many questions flooded his mind, but only one seemed to matter.
“How will I know when I’ve developed the ability?”
Counselor Anklin seemed amused by the question.
- Parker T. Allan
An engineer who enjoys writing something other than technical reports. Writing lets me share all the ideas floating around my mind. I hope my writing jump starts your imagination as so many books have done for me.
If you enjoy physics, check out https://physicswithcats.com/ for some fun stories which explain various physics topics.