Part III – Inductive Inference
“Accidents happen. That's what everyone says. But in a quantum universe there are no such things as accidents, only possibilities and probabilities folded into existence by perception.”
J. Michael Straczynski
Henry was sipping coffee at the breakfast bar in the super sleek kitchen which seemed literally to sparkle with the rising sun. The rays of sunlight penetrated the massive glass walls and filled the room with light.
He looked a little drawn when he turned his head to see who was standing there. “Morning young man.” He smiled distractedly.
“Good morning sir,” Steve moved to join the rather large man at the counter.
Henry put down his cup and reached over to the machine. Two cups and saucers were resting on the breakfast bar as if he had expected them to join him. He slid one nearer and poured Steve a coffee. The aroma hung in the air with the steam from the cup.
“I expect you boys will be wanting to find your friends. You,” he looked intently at Steve as he once again brought the cup of coffee to his lips. He hesitated, the cup hovering in mid-air, “You want to see your brother, I’m sure.”
“Yes I would, very much.”
Henry sipped his coffee and smiled again, his eyes sparkling. “I'll arrange transport. You can go there today.” He finished his coffee and stood up leaving the cup on the counter.
Just then Grif came in. “Henry.”
“Morning Grif.” Henry was standing over by the window, the sunlight surrounding him like a halo.
Grif helped himself to coffee and sat on a tall stool next to Steve. He looked at Steve then back to Henry who had moved away from the window leaving the panoramic view of the early morning cityscape.
“What the hell happened here Henry? The world was ending, everyone who was, I suppose rich or powerful, left on some interstellar spaceships manned by robots. Robots who you gave our memories to. I've been drugged, nearly died, the planet looks like it’s still here. Actually, it looks better than it’s ever been. No more rain. And...” Grif paused to drink his coffee. “And you look like the most incongruous guy who has suddenly become emperor!”
Henry's smile, which never seemed to have left his face, grew bigger. “You know,” he looked across at the two of them seated at the counter. “My great grandfather named this city, Neón de Lucas. He told my grand daddy that it was because neon provides light, it glows. But also he said it is very rare here on earth, common in the universe, but rare on earth.”
The boys drank their coffee and watched as Henry strolled around the room. “It's inert, doesn't react, stays cool, but can get excited.”
Grif wasn’t sure whether Henry was talking to them, or having a monologue with himself.
“It’s often what you least expect, funny isn't it? How things work out?”
What's he going on about, Grif asked himself. Am I awake or still dreaming?
“Lots to do now boys, so you will have to excuse me. There’s transport waiting for you, when you're ready to leave.”
“That’s it?” Grif was completely stunned, Henry hadn’t answered any of his questions. Steve nudged him with his elbow and glanced over.
“No.” Henry turned back. “Tell Kado to get back here when you see him.” He walked over to the counter and placed a plastic key card down. “Use this. It will get you where you need to go. Then give it to Kado.”
Henry patted Grif on the shoulder, turned and left.
“Professor, how are we going to find Steve and Grif? Can you contact the ships to see if they evacuated? I really, really, need to know where my brother is.”
“We can try. They would have been on the last ship, if they left.” Clement could see how worried the boy was. It wasn't a big priority, but he would try to make contact.
“We have a whole lot of things to do. Make sure we have power set up here, see what has happened elsewhere, and run some predictive algorithms to get a handle on things. I need to know there aren't more floods coming, that... maybe we are recovering. Maybe the failure wasn't quite a failure.”
Joel went over to Mark and gave him a hug. “Come on let’s leave them to work.”
“Joseph or I will come and find you later, if we manage and have any news.”
Joel's mom came in with Charlie bouncing along beside her. “Joel, Joel, you need to show me around,” the little boy was about to burst with excitement.
“After breakfast,” his mom told him. Then looking at Joel she smiled. “You don’t mind.”
“Nah, it’s fine.” Joel ruffled Charlie’s hair.
They moved into the kitchen where Jack was already sitting at the table. Joel's mom spoke quietly in his ear as Charlie went to grab a bowl and cereal. “Are you and,” she gave at little nod towards Mark.
“It’s...” Suddenly Joel didn't know what to say. “A lot’s happened.”
That was a lame reply, he knew. He was embarrassed about how things were, maybe a bit confused. He hadn't thought about it, and he couldn't just explain everything.
She smiled, “That’s fine, I’m glad we’re here. All together.”
“I guess we can take any car?” Steve was looking around the garage.
Grif simply walked up to the nearest vehicle and pressed the door open button. He climbed in and Steve joined him.
“Well let’s see where this takes us.” He learned forward and inserted the card Henry had given them. The console came alive and a woman's voice addressed them. “Your destination is off grid. Your destination has been authorised. There are no known recharge stations. Estimated energy insufficient for return journey. Do you wish to proceed?”
“Yes. Proceed!” Grif sat back on the curved seat next to Steve. “Forward view please!”
The large console screen opened with a view of the garage, at the same time the vehicle lifted off the ground and rotated, manoeuvring to exit the basement parking.
“Henry seems to be the person in charge now, but he never said much about what really happened here.”
“You know Steve, he’s an okay guy and all, but I wouldn't trust him any more than Kado. Even Joel's uncle might not be legit. Although he’s actually much more your academic type than your power play politician.”
“You think Henry and Kado are politicians?”
Grif chuckled. “No man, not literally politicians. Definitely not Kado. He’s a sort of right hand man, the guy who does the dirty work.”
“A mystery. But you're right about him seeming to be in charge.”
The car was now speeding up. After a few twists and turns they were out of the garage and on the freeway heading away from the city. The neon billboards looked dimmer and less impressive in the sunshine, but the message read the same - “Join us for a new dawn... Life has never been this good.”
Joel's mother found Clement in the control room with Joseph. They looked busy, the panels and screens all seemed to be switched on and doing something, although she had no idea what.
Clement must have seen or heard her come in, he looked up from what he was doing and glanced at her with a quizzical look. “Sandra,” was all he said, as if her name was a question.
“Clement, I don’t mean to disturb you both.”
“No, no, that’s okay. We’re just...” he trailed off whatever he was about to say.
“You look busy. Is everything working out?”
“It is as far as here is concerned. We have power and we’re getting communications up and running.”
“Oh good. David gave me this.” She removed a data key from her pocket and held it up.”
“I didn't know you and he were on speaking terms, or that you even knew where he was.”
“I don't, know where he is. He sent it to me. Before we left the city to find you, the first time. Before any of this kicked off.”
Oh I see, but even so, I thought since you split up you were having nothing to do with each other.”
“That’s a whole other story, but he sent me this and included a note.”
“What is it? I mean apart from being a data key, what’s on it?”
“I don’t know, but the note said that if things turned out bad I should give this to you. So I suppose it’s something you would know about.”
She handed him the key.
“Well let’s take a look.” He sat down at the little table at the far end of the room. She followed, sitting in the only other chair next to him.
Clement slotted the key in the side of his laptop and accessed the data. There were a lot of numbered files in a single named directory labelled Mishimotta Pharmaceuticals.
“I’ll leave you to look at it.” She stood up, smiled at Joseph who had come to join them, then made her way out.
Clement watched her leave. “This looks interesting. Come take a look.” Clement indicated for Joseph to take her seat.
“There's someone arriving!” Jack was looking out the window of the bedroom which overlooked the front of the house.
The vehicle came to a stop a short distance from the house, hovered a second then descended. The door opened and the two boys stepped out.
“OH JEEZ!” Mark had joined Jack looking out the window just as he saw Steve and Grif exit the vehicle. He turned in an instant, rushed out the door and along the corridor, grabbing the broad banister at the top of the staircase, he swung around and raced down the stairs, across the hall and out through the front door. Jack was right behind him.
Steve looked up at the house, he could hear the crashing waves of the ocean off in the distance. Grif was standing next to him when they saw the front door swing open. Mark came tearing across and bowled into them slinging his arms around both of them. A few seconds later, Jack was joining them in a group hug.
“Good to see you too!” Steve managed to say between hugs, tears and kisses.
“If the documents and memos on this key are real, it shows Mishimotta Pharmaceuticals were doing work on DNA genetic engineering affecting memory and perception. None of this could have been authorised.”
“It looks like a clandestine operation under the guise of a vaccine experiment against the virus promulgated by the pollution.”
“This means that Project ReGen was somehow interfered with. The seed or ovaries sent into space were genetically transformed.”
“I don’t know Joseph, but I think we need to talk to Kado about this Henry Gibson fellow.”
“You believe he might have something to do with this?”
“Well look at it this way, who stands to gain something from this?”
“Maybe it was to boost the survival capacity of the new born humans?”
“But they didn't know where those ships would end up. My gut feeling is it’s much more to do with what happens here, than any future colonies in space.”
“So we’re all together.” Joel was smiling with his arm over Charlie's shoulders.
“Who are you two?” His little brother smirked mischievously.
“Charlie!” Joel gave him a stern look.
“It's okay.” Grif chuckled.
“This is my brother Steve and our best friend Grif.” Mark walked over to stand next to his brother. “We're twins!” He smiled.
“Wow! Yeah, that's great. I never met twins before.”
Charlie was obviously excited, not about the twins, but more having everybody here together, all new friends, even if they were older than him. The boys? They were simply happy to have arrived here, to be back together.
“So everybody's here?” Grif asked.
“Yep. We made it, and so did the planet.” Joel grinned.
“It's not the end though!” Grif was looking around.
“No. I think it's just the beginning!”