Lt. Jac Flyte is all prepared to embark for Alpha Centauri when Cheryl, his 'former' fiancé calls. Dr. Cheryl Bellini is a cosmologist and she asks him...if before he goes away forever...would he want to see what Edmund Leahy has done...
Cheryl’s colleague, Dr. Leahy, has cracked the code in an otherworldly artifact called the Moses Probe. The secret is far more than mere transit to Alpha C at the speed of light— It is instantaneous transit to any planet in the known Universe. For these efforts, Jac knows Leahy has been mocked and maligned. Yet Jac believes in Cheryl. He puts aside his convictions that Faster-Than-Light technology is as good as it gets, he risks his mission to Alpha C and goes with Cheryl to call on Leahy. When they go, they find Leahy murdered, even as his work is about to be destroyed.
Quickly, Jac and Cheryl must choose: pick up where Leahy left off, commit themselves to each other, and to the quest for intergalactic laurels—or die.
Ted Magnuson began his writing career as a feature writer for a small Florida daily newspaper, the Pasco East. By the 1980’s he had begun ‘writing policies,’ as they say in the insurance business—Lumber properties were his specialty. He moved to the Pacific Northwest because ‘that’s where the trees are.’
Life was good. Ted married and became a father. He went on to insure against industrial accident for manufacturers in all industries, restaurants and even schools. Then he heard the bad news— In 1999, his sister Laura died. She was a young woman and the experience prompted Ted to sit down and begin writing The Moses Probe.
In 1992, a shortened version of the story won an Honorable Mention at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference. In 1998, Rutledge Hill Press published Oregon Trivia, a 1200 item list of interesting facts Ted compiled on his adopted state.
Ted has taught children at the middle school level and lectured at Portland State University. His articles have appeared in the Oregonian. These days, he works in hospice and is an avid cyclist and outdoorsman.
His current project is a family saga called The Hill. Set in St. Louis, Missouri, the story follows Buck Elser and Randy Allen as they react and other react to their parents mixed marriage, a family business and inheritance. These people, the Elsers and the Allens describe the way they live together (or not), even as the civil rights movement, the women’s’ movement, the Vietnam War and political assassinations change the face of the country.
For All That Went Before
September 12, 2112
1640 Hours UT
When Lt. Jac Flyte answered the vicomm, technology could only attempt to capture the grin that broke over his face. Cheryl always had this effect on him, with her auburn hair falling across soft shoulders, the light that sparkled on her green eyes. She also could not hide the earnestness, the hesitancy, the fear…the love.
"Hi there," she said quietly.
"This is a pleasant surprise." Jac fumbled for words. Wasn't everything between us already said last Friday? What could be so important for her to call me again?
Jac drew close to his screen and forgot the starkness of his personal quarters aboard WSAT Apollo as he studied the woman carefully.
Cheryl was also studying him. "Before you go off-station today, dear…" Her words sounded carefully chosen, rehearsed over and over. "Will you go to the Studio Deck? They'll be spinning The Theories on the 1800 Zulu News." She paused again, just a shade disconcerted, and gave him a tentative smile. "It could make a difference in…your decision."
"Oh?" Jac groaned. Why does she have to make it so hard? What can possibly have happened since we last talked?
It was one thing to muse over The Theories-D'Aggioscoppio's Theories of the Inter-Ethereal, to be exact-while they were still in college. Interstellar space travel was hypothetical…then. But now? Now was different.
The Vogitan Explorer would be departing for Alpha Centauri early next month, and he would be on it. What could he say to her, the girl he had almost married, now?
They'd said goodbye, hadn't they? To his way of thinking, the trip to Alpha C was just too damn long to realistically expect her to wait for his return.
Maybe she could stand maintaining contact as long as possible. But he couldn't. To him, the mission was too important to jeopardize with any personal involvements.
Yet, this moment-this decision-seemed frozen in time.
Why couldn't she just go through with it and say goodbye? Why couldn't he?
The Theories might have stretched out their relationship. Instantaneous travel throughout the Universe was a great concept; but Huntsville saw it differently.
Cheryl was a persuasive advocate in her role as Professor of Cosmology at the University of Washington. And he did have contacts in Huntsville, Houston and Nanjing.
But politics and the press just wouldn't let Inter-Ethereal transit rest as a mere research alternative.
The whole mission to Vogitan would have to be put on hold if research were to continue on the Inter-Ethereal. The whole question could become a political football should Congress consider cutting appropriations. The whole thing swirled into a political vortex. And so Deep Space Explorations made it clear-axe D'Aggioscoppio.
Jac mulled his options. Could he really just forget her?
Something inside told him to listen to her.
Surely, no one knew D'Aggioscoppian Theory more than Dr. Cheryl Bellini. Jac himself had no doubts that one day Humanity could slip from point A to point B-anywhere in the Universe-instantaneously. Oh, what he would give for that glorious day to be here now, when a journey to the nearest star would be as archaic as drawbridges.
Had that day now come?
Jac knew full well that the Department of Astronics at The University of Washington was preeminent in D'Aggioscoppian Theory.
Cheryl gazed at him sideways across the miles. She waited.
Jac's hand trembled. It could only have been a half-second, but he had to answer.
Maybe major breakthroughs in the Theories have already happened, Jac considered.
If so, Cheryl was wise not to spill the beans on an open comm-link.
Jac's skipper, Commander Hazard, had warned him very clearly: In today's press environment, trafficking in D'Aggioscoppian Theories would be considered treason. And Hazard wasn't one to use words like traffic and treason lightly.
What should he do?
Jac looked at her again. Damn! Is it really so hard to say yes to a beautiful woman? We were lovers once…once.
C'mon, Jac. All she asked was to watch a simple news broadcast. Since when is that treason? 1800 Zulu? Isn't that just about the most widely watched news summary on all the Four Worlds? If watching Zulu is treason, then the free and the brave might as well lock themselves up in their own shackles.
Still, despite his good intentions, Jac threw up his hands in one last futile defense. "I wish I had the time," he said.
Cheryl shook her head slowly, emphatically, almost hypnotically. Nothing had changed between them. She acted as if man's first voyage out from the solar system were a mere trifle. "Will you please go now," she whispered, "and see the show live at the Apollo Studio Deck? Before editing dices it into a dozen viewpoints?" She put a finger to her lips and bowed her head as she looked pensively at him.
No, she didn't ask much of him. Dereliction of duty…trafficking in information…treason be damned! He didn't have a duty; he had a mission.
Yes, the mission was clear: to be at the forefront of the exploration of space. To expand man's knowledge of the universe.
And now softly, yet convincingly…to love.
"All right. I'll go. I'll be on final leave in a few hours. Can we talk about it then?"
She nodded. "What link-port are you using?"
"Seattle," Jac said, though his home was in Portland. He opened another window on the monitor; after a few keystrokes, he added, "Flight 766."
"I'll be there." Cheryl closed her connection with a fade.