The Sequels to Syrrah's Game SGSequels




CHAPTER 36

 

OCTOBER 8TH, 1623 HOURS (1523 HOURS MOUNTAIN TIME)

 

His stomach in a tight knot, sweat wetting his underarms and back, Colonel Stevens entered General Tauring’s meeting room. Colonel Jennings followed in behind him.

Certainly didn’t help Colonel Stevens’ disrupted, pain-ridden body that the general requested they arrive alone, without their team members. 

General Tauring was unpacking his laptop and other items from his case and placing them on the table. Not surprising, since he probably just arrived back from the Rivet Joint flight. He soon turned and faced them.

Immediately Colonel Stevens saluted. Colonel Jennings did the same.

General Tauring saluted right back. “At ease.” He lowered his arm and let out a disgusted sigh. “Sit, you two, in your usual chairs.”

They did.

Once sitting, General Tauring opened his laptop, typed away for a while, and then spoke with Major Eiken and Major C’est. He had obviously established a video conference. He pushed his laptop forward, across the table, until all three of them could readily see the laptop’s screen with the two majors’ alert faces.

General Tauring leaned upon his forearms on the table and eyed Colonel Stevens.

Here it comes. Hopefully won’t be too severe.

“It’s all right, Colonel. I’m beyond mad at this point. Just glad we got back in an amazing twenty minutes after spotting the hull people. Are you aware of the two Delta Alerts?”

“Yes, sir. Besides the hull people, the hull bus. Colonel Jennings informed me.”

“Correct. The hull people vanished at fifteen hundred hours, and their bus at approximately 1511 hours and twenty-four seconds. Since one second our time now equals 3.68 seconds their time, that means they were gallivanting all around Riverton, or Wyoming, or God knows where, for approximately forty-one minutes their time. And then they decided they needed that bus.” He leaned back into his seat and shook his head. “How did it happen, Stevens? I don’t believe you did it deliberately.”

“No, sir. Not at all. Everything was just happening so fast. Kyleigh ran in crying, and immediately joined in a small hull enclosure with Lang. Evan only observed them. But then a few seconds later, Evan walked over to us and wanted to know if the hull people could all gather with each other again. I told him no, not now. Then he said he was going by his dad and Kyleigh. We, that is, me and the two DFRs, immediately told him he could not, but he didn’t listen and just rushed over.”

General Tauring slowly nodded. “Fortunately, the two DFRs verified your action, and explained that you went after Evan, but you refused to threaten to fire upon him. But, too late. They all vanished.”

“Sir, may I explain something?”

“Go ahead Stevens. I’ve already decided what to do, but go ahead.”

“Sir. I have no regrets about not threatening to fire upon him. For one, as you know, it wouldn’t have mattered, after Evan’s encounter at Dulce. And also, sir, please, understand. How are we going to get them back? We can’t force them. And threatening to fire upon them will only scare them more. With Evan’s connection with the hull, if that is what occurred, then all we have to do is show up, and he’ll immediately transfer them somewhere else.”

“Exactly, Stevens. We are in total agreement.” Seriously? He spoke rather calmly too. “And I’ll add something more. Evan’s announcement he taught the other hull people to walk through walls, not to mention his claim that he was moved involuntarily by the hull when he ended up at Dulce and McKessron. So, the true source of this very disruptive occurrence could be unknown, though my hunch is on Evan. Nevertheless, I am not proceeding with Special Court Martial under Article 92.”

That was a big relief. “Really, sir?”

“Yes.” Tilting his head back somewhat, the general glared down with his penetrating gaze. “Instead, if this ever occurs again, be assured that at best you will never see brigadier general, or at worse, I will absolutely proceed with court martial proceedings.” 

Colonel Stevens bowed his head down slightly. “I understand, sir. And I apologize profusely for my inadequacy. And I will use everything within my abilities to prevent this from happening again.”

“I know you will, Stevens. I understand how difficult this is, but we are in quite the severe dilemma right now. And quite frankly, I’m in dire need of you and your partner in crime, Dr. Maplen. Can’t continue forward without you two, which is another important aspect in my decision.” He looked at the laptop’s screen. “Major Eiken. Please inform Colonel Stevens and Colonel Jennings, and myself, exactly what you two discovered, including any updates.”

“Yes, sir.” Major Eiken and Major C’est were both nestled within the tan leather seats of the dark blue Ford Excursion, parked in a secluded wooded area somewhere, apparent from the view outside the windows. “We were part of the Rivet Joint mission, so our response time was quite fast. The hull is obviously permitting visual recordings. Three separate eyewitness reports, all documented by cell phone images…” He looked at his table. “Well, they show…taking into account normal delays in response times, 9-1-1 dispatchers and police say it seems the hull people materialized at three separate locations nearly simultaneously.”

“After the hull allowed the telescopic images, I’m not surprised,” General Tauring said. “What are the times you have on these eye witness reports?”

Major Eiken looked down at his tablet. “Uhh, the first at the Shell station on North Federal Boulevard happened at 1504 hours and sixteen seconds. The second was at the Riverton Library on 15th Street West, and happened at 1504 hours and forty-six seconds. And the third happened at 294 East Monroe Avenue, in the owner’s back yard, at 1505 hours and thirty seconds. About thirty seconds apart from each other, sir.”

“Sir, if I may,” Colonel Jennings said.

“Yes, Colonel?”

“Major Eiken,” she said, peering closer to the laptop’s screen, “what was the reaction from the witnesses to the hull people?”

“Very unfavorable, Ma’am. Police and 9-1-1 dispatchers claim the witnesses were absolutely terrified, recounting fast-moving, fast-speaking ghosts or little people, or even aliens.” His stare focused toward the general. “General Tauring.”

“Yes, Major.”

“How the witnesses reacted to the hull people, with such fear and shock. Well, sir, provided Evan is actually in charge of their mobility, I believe the hull people will soon realize that we are all they have now, besides each other. And sir, I know you’ve been following specific protocols, for their confinement, but--”

General Tauring put his hand up. “Major, please. Confinement? So harsh.” He clasped his hands together upon the table, and appeared to be attempting to relax, though the tightness of his jaw muscles and tenseness of his body defied his attempt. “But I know exactly what you’re going to say, and I’m sure both colonels would agree. Once they’re back, don’t separate them anymore.”

“Yes, sir,” Major Eiken said.

“And I agree.”

The knot in Colonel Stevens’ stomach began to unwind.

“As much as they’re scaring the public,” the general continued, “we best get them back before they give some arbitrary obese boy a major coronary event.” With the seriousness of the meeting, nobody let out even the slightest chuckle. “I’ll have you four know I’ve already contacted my commanding officers. Troops have been sent out, around Riverton, but also to the hull people’s residences at Sendai, Accra, Melbourne, and Park River, Minnesota. Under the assumption Evan, or the other hull people, are primarily responsible for their movement, the troops have been instructed to leave posters, notecards, or tablets, explaining our new friendlier stance. We’ll inform them that they can mingle together, and yet have their separate rooms or sleeping quarters. We will attempt to make their stay here as comfortable as possible. And heck, I think we can even place them in a room in our quaint little country entrance, so they can see the sky, the sun, the stars, even get some fresh air, for crying out loud.”

This didn’t seem possible. “Sir. Are you sure about this?”

“Yes, Stevens, lest you believe I’ve lost my mind or am carrying on sarcastically.” He sighed and clenched his mouth. He glanced around at all of them. “We can’t win this conventionally. Yes, yes, I’m sending out troops, but I know how this will end by force. We will only scare them…or the hull, if the hull is actually doing this…further away from us. They need to be coaxed back.” He grimaced suddenly and made a fist. He pounded the table lightly. “Damn that kid and his connection with the hull! The most advanced technology, ever discovered, could be gone, poof, just like that.” He eyed Major Eiken on the screen. “Major. You ever discover anything more, about why the hull has a preference for Evan?”

“No, sir. Nothing in his recent life, and intense background checks reveal nothing to suggest he has ever been visited by EBEs in the past. It’s a complete dead end.”

“Very well, Major.” He looked at Colonel Jennings. “Colonel, your work with the EBE suppression tunnel. So far, what’s the greatest detonation velocity the hull vehicles have been subjected to?”

She frowned slightly, the side of her mouth giving a cute, downward turn, though it was hard to concentrate on her beauty right now. “Approximately sixty-five megaton’s worth, sir. These explosions of course did nothing to the hull vehicles, since as we know they’re truly not here. And Dr. Maplen’s concern, that if the hull beings were to interact with the suppression tunnel itself at the same time possible cracks in the space-time fabric could occur…it simply didn’t happen. The hull is too smart, and didn’t attempt any other forms of communication with us while the explosions took place.”

General Tauring smiled slyly. “Of course.” He sniffed and shook his head. “Hiroshima was only 12.7 kilotons. All your previous detonation velocities on up to sixty-five megatons officially places us well within the nuclear weapon yield range.” He kept his eyes on her. “And what’s the latest on your attempts with the PDT?”

“Sir,” she said, “you mean the Sir-anun para-dimensional transporter?”

“Yes, of course, Colonel.”

“My apologies, sir. I’m a little tired. My team members are working on it, as we speak. Our latest is that we might be able to get it to work, even without the Sirians and Anuns.”

“So you’re suggesting there could be a chance?”

“Yes, sir. Possibly.”

“All right then.” He glanced around at all of them, including the laptop screen. “I know this is going to be hard for those of you concerned for the hull people, but…and this is another reason I didn’t have your team members present, particularly Indalo. Really didn’t want to hear five down, two to go, bla, bla, bla. No, not really. But unfortunately, that’s what we’re looking at. Indalo premonition number four - the hull people becoming so small they vanish. I think we can all agree on that one. And number five. Hull vehicles bombarded by nuclear level weapons but left unharmed.” He grasped his hands together. “The hull people’s escape is a matter of national security- no, let me restate that - world security. Now, yes, we will try our best to get them back at the base. However, if the PDT is finally successful, Colonel Jennings, I want you sending through either an Orion-based OW725 or an OW72A. My commanders and I ascertained such an explosive blast would only occur within the hull’s dimension, having no impact whatsoever upon our realm. Let’s get this whole mess done and over with for good.”

Colonel Stevens felt his heart drop to his feet.

Shock covered Colonel Jennings’ face. “Sir. Those…those each carry about five hundred megaton’s equivalence of explosive power. Not only would the hull people be completely obliterated, but I’m not sure the suppression tunnel could handle such an extreme explosion.”

General Tauring smiled. “Not to worry, Colonel. From my knowledge, some of it classified, I do know we are safe up to one gigaton. So, relax.”

“Sir, I’m sorry, but I can’t relax.” Colonel Jennings’ whole body shivered a moment. “You’re…you are asking me to kill those people, who we’re supposed to be helping.”

General Tauring rose to his feet. “Do I need to remind you of Captain Indalo’s last image? And Indalo’s fervent response to such image?”

“Yes sir, I absolutely remember. But please recall my research, that the entities behind the hull are using curled up dimensions to interact with all of our minds, so it won’t matter where they--”

“Enough, Colonel,” General Tauring said sharply. “My commanders and I have decided to center our decision upon the reliability, the track record, of Indalo’s premonitions. Indalo sensed those around the hull would be at risk, not those at great distances away from the hull. Unfortunately, we can only agree with him now. By bringing the hull people back here, our primary goal, only our lives will most likely be at risk. However, if they’re left out there in the world…the lives of thousands, maybe millions, of others, could be at risk. I will discuss this no further. Dismissed.”