Chapter XXX
by General (Uncle Claude) Xxaxx
& General (E.J. Gold) Nunan PFC 1st Class Ret.

When Professor Woo emerged from the doors onto the street, the first thing that she noticed was that she wouldn’t have to worry about what Little Roy would think of the lunch box, he was not at his usual skulking place behind the pole across the street desperately trying to look nonchalant. If Little Roy had any idea what the word meant, he certainly had no idea how to do it. Walking back to the groundtrak, Professor Woo rolled her thoughts hoping that something would fall into place. The revelation that Ja Mere had known about her duplicity almost from the beginning and delayed realization of the importance of his research into bubbles has had an unbalancing effect. Couple that with undergoing annihilation, fusion and expansion into the void — all in all it has been an unsettling day. Things like that can put one off stride. Just as well that the little goober went off somewhere, Woo could use a little time to collect her thoughts into a coherent whole.

Woo’s original purpose in meeting with Ja Mere was to test her approach prior to meeting with the full cownsil. As it is, the subject of the grand xpearimint to reverse the slowing process was not even aired. Perhaps at dinner tonight they can cover that ground. Hopefully this was not a preamble to the actual cownsil meeting.

The street was quiet at this time of night — too late for day workers and too early for evening-tiders. The city street glistened red, blue, white and green — all the colors of the rainbow — blinking shop lights reflected in the wetness left by the mid-afternoon rain. It had been determined years ago that an early morning mist, an afternoon sprinkle and a late night thundershower was the best weather combination for psycho-socio-agricultural balance. This being just shortly after the mid-afternoon rain the streets were still wet from the moderate rainfall.

Across and up the street one vidi-shop had samples of its wares playing discretely in a display window — nothing larger than a forty-three inch screen. Captain Kaptain was the current trend in videes and the absolute hero of the goobers. Which explains why Little Roy was not at his usual skulking post outside the sports auditorium. There he stood transfixed in front of the vidi-shop watching the latest adventure of Captain Kaptain.

Clouds swirling cyclone like around a vortex — The Tunnel. Reaching through the thin membrane of the portal, my hand brushes the sides of the tunnel every so lightly. Good thing it was only lightly. Where my knuckle touched the swirling clouds — pain as the searing hot mists rend the flesh from the back of my hand. There goes a perfectly good hand and another trip to the plasti-doc. Ignoring the pain, I reach further into the eye of the mists. Fortunately the tendons running across the back of the hand are intact and it is the muscles of the forearm that will be used to grasp the floating child. Floating in the center, calm and serene as a saint is our lost charge Rebecca. What can I hold? My god! I hadn’t even given a thought to that. I can’t just grab a leg or arm. If I put her off balance, even the slightest, she will spiral into the searing clouds of the maelstrom. At least the blood from the back of my hand isn’t dripping down my arm. In this position, my elbow is the lowest part of the arm. I can deal with the puddle on the floor later. But I will need to make a decision on hand-hold soon and pull Rebeca to safety before the lightness in my head becomes a dizzying prelude to a faint. The blood loss will eventually take its toll. That’s the only way, I’ll use her troll knot — long and red, tied in a knot at the top of the head — her hair is the ideal purchase for a firm grip. Closing my hand upon her top-knot, I can feel the hair pins bite deep into my palm. Just as well, at least it’ll give me a firmer grip. Now, to pull her through. If the strength was left in me, a slow careful pull would be best. But my strength is dripping off my elbow into a puddle on the floor, along with other assorted bodily fluids. There is nothing for it but a quick calculation and pull. Looking past Rebecca, the tunnel seems to go on forever into the stunning distance. I know that it’s an illusion of perspective but it is hypnotic and terrifying in it’s endlessness. Can’t wait the diaphragm of the vortex is closing. This is it. Forgive me Rebecca.

With a mighty pull Captain Kaptain pulled his young ward to safety.

“Little Roy! Little Roy!”

“Professor? Where are you?”

“Over here. Across the street. Shouldn’t you be getting back on duty. I might be up to some xpearimints.”

“Ahh, Professor, you shouldn’t tease me like that. If bossperson heard you, he’d make me be more mean to you and you know I don’t like doing that. I like you. Mom says I shouldn’t, that you’re an egghead and I shouldn’t talk about liking you. So I don’t talk about liking you anymore — at least not to her.

And, you know something Professor Woo? I didn’t stop liking you when I stopped talking about it. The way Citizins carry on all the time I thought that things would disappear if you stopped talking about them.”

“Little Roy,” Professor Woo interrupted gently. “I am going to dinner tonight at the Savoy Three. That’s over in the wet district, perhaps you should get an umbrella before this evening.” The wet districts is the name given to those few districts that have opted for evening rain and early morning clear skies. Some of the fancier restaurants prefer the ambiance of a light rain for their customers and to keep barhopping down to a minimum.

After steeling one final glance at the Captain Kaptain credits, Little Roy turned his full attention to Professor Woo. “Professor, do you suppose that maybe I could go inside. Normally they’d never let a goober into a place like that. It’s reserved for brutes and brites.”

Little Roy was very correct about that. The restaurants are constrained by the integration laws of 2175 to allow two or three eggheads each evening. These laws were very clear that no public facility could refuse service to eggheads. Allowing one table of eggheads per evening permitted a restaurant to operate within the letter of the law and still manage the remaining tables as they wished. This made the Savoy Three an ideal meeting place for small egghead conferences — especially those of a dangerous nature. The place served only the most important of the Citizins — the brites and brilliants. For the benefit of this clientele the one table of token eggheads was well away from the other patrons in a discrete corner. Thus assuring that none of the other patrons would be disturbed by the egg-heads. With eggheads kept well away from the good citizins by the management the eggheads in turn had little to worry about in the realm of interruptions or ease-dropping. There certainly was no worry about a waiter suddenly showing up, disturbing conversation or overhearing something indiscreet. It required a major miracle and a couple acts of god to get a waiter to deliver the menus let alone serve a meal.

Scheduling tonight’s meeting at the Savoy Three, Professor Woo and Ja Mere were could talk about anything they wished with no interruption or chance of being overheard.

When egghead ate at the Savoy three their guards were not required to be actively in attendance. This was for two reasons, as Little Roy and all of his kind are well aware the restaurant would rather not have a goober in the place, and the management just doesn’t believe an egghead would dare have a discussion in the midst of the town’s elite Citizins.

“Little Roy, I would be happy to have you as my guest tonight. Why don’t you rush home, get yourself cleaned up and meet me in front of the Savoy Three at six thirty. You can find it, can’t you?”

“Yes! Of course I can. It’s just the most important restaurant in the whole Galaxy. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Boy o’boy, wait until Mom hears about this. Um, on second thought maybe I’ll tell her after it’s a done deal. Bye, Professor. I’ll see you tonight.”

Looking at Little Roy quivering with excitement, Professor Woo felt a pang of regret for using him in the way that she intended. A plan was forming that included a major role for Little Roy. It was an important role, pivotal in fact, but one that may cause Little Roy some discomfort. He was to play the part of Judus.

For the plan to work it was necessary that the bubblers know that Professor Woo and the cownsil were up to something. The surest way to put a conspiracy freak off the trail is to give them a conspiracy. Only in this case Woo anticipated using their obvious response as a integral component of the plan itself. To assure their cooperation it was only necessary that she be able to feed the lines to her unsuspecting Judus. As dangerous as it was to include the bubblers it was an absolute necessity. Drak acknowledged that everyone — egghead, Citizin and goober — must be involved. It was the only thing that could work — and so much depended on tonight’s dinner and the part that Little Roy would play.

Professor Woo rebuffed herself for her sudden attack of sympathy for her goober guard, “Woo, ol’gal, get on about your business, he’s your guard after all — assigned to turn you in at the slightest hint of xpearimintation. Besides, you had better forewarn Ja Mere about this new brainstorm of yours. He should have some warning so he can play his part.”

As Little Roy went scooting down the street, Professor Woo began looking about for a Vidphone. The traffic was beginning to pick up — walkers and a few cabbies were beginning to move about the street and there was much to do.


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