Ted Magnuson's Moses Probe. What if an alien probe were discovered that held the secret of instanteous travel anywhere in the universe? Mr. Magnuson has written an engaging SF novel around this interesting premise. Below you can read Chapter One of Moses Probe:
Moses Probe Chapter One
For all that went Before
September 12, 2112
1640 Hours UT
When Lt. Jac Flyte answered the vicomm, technology made only a feeble attempt at communicating the smile that broke on the face of his female caller; auburn hair falling across soft shoulders; the light that sparkled on her green eyes; the earnestness; the hesitancy; the fear; the love.
“Hi there,” she said. Cheryl Bellini quietly awaited his response.
“This is a pleasant surprise.” Jac fumbled for words. Hadn’t everything between them already been said last Friday? What could be so important for her to call him again?
Jac drew close to his screen and he forgot the starkness of his personal quarters aboard WSAT Apollo. 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. She gave him a tentative smile. “It could make a difference for . . . your decision.”
“Oh?” Jac groaned. Why did she have to make it so hard? He wondered what could possibly have happened since they 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. Jac’s mission, the Vogitan Explorer would be departing for Alpha Centauri early next month. What could Jac say to her now, the girl he almost married?
They’d said good-bye, hadn’t they? To Jac’s 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 just maintaining the 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 good-bye? Why couldn’t he?
Oh, the Theories may’ve 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, wasn’t she? And he did have contacts in Huntsville, Houston and Nanning.
But politics and the press just wouldn’t let Inter-ethereal transit rest as a mere research alternative.
No, the whole mission to Vogitan had to be put on hold if research were to continue on the Interethereal. The whole question could become a political football when Congress threatened to cut 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?
No! Something inside him cried out, Listen to her.
Surely, no one knew more than Dr. Cheryl Bellini about D’Aggioscoppian Theory. Jac himself had no doubts but that one day Humanity could slip from point A to point B instantaneously . . . anywhere in the Universe. Oh, what he would give for that great 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 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! Was it really so hard to say yes to a beautiful woman? They were lovers once . . . Once!
C’mon, Jac. All she asked you to do was watch a simple news broadcast. Since when was that treason? 1800 Zulu? Wasn’t that just about the most widely watched news summary on all the Four Worlds? If watching Zulu was 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 . . .
“All right. I’ll go. I’ll be on final leave in only 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 and after a few keystrokes, added, “Flight 766.”
“I’ll be there,” Cheryl said and she closed her connection with a fade.
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