“Colonel, you do not have a choice. It’s that simple. I know more about the Sandglass program than you do and probably more than even Benwright does. You’ve sent me through that anomaly so many times it’s become blasé and I’ve kept my eyes open each trip. You and the technician here are practically old friends, assuming old friends make liberal use of handcuffs and holding cells.”
Bosze stared at the big man for a long time, obviously mulling the situation over. His expression looked as if someone had poured something unpleasant over him. Benwright started to say something, but the colonel withered him with a particularly irritated glare
Vančura’s lip twitched in what could have been a smirk, but it vanished immediately.
“We both know you can’t have me executed or ‘interrogated, Colonel. You can’t risk losing any possible source of information on the STAd. Even an overzealous thump on the head from a guard might cause memory loss.”
He chuckled as Benwright tried to hide a pained wince.
“You need all the data you can get on what happens when the knothole is used. More importantly, I’m not actively trying to kill you or ruin this program. That puts me so far ahead of any other possible source of information you have that I’m practically in another universe, as far as trustworthiness is concerned. And, whether you believe me or not, the first time I went through the STAd, it was as a volunteer.”
No amount of glaring from Bosze was enough to keep Benwright from sitting bolt upright and staring at the big man.
“What? Volun… there’s no way! We’d have a record of that!”
The colonel rubbed a hand over his eyes and coughed.
“Benwright. Shut up. Okay, Vančura; you know we don’t have any way to prove that. For all we know, the first time you went through, it could have been kicking and screaming.”
Vančura raised a derisive eyebrow and Bosze rolled his eyes.
“As out of character as that might seem. The point is, we have to trust you, not because we trust you, but because we don’t have any other choice but to trust you. That’s a position I’m extremely uncomfortable with, as you obviously know. However, we really need that information and you haven’t done anything worse than use the STAd.”
Before Vančura could respond, Benwright broke in, a frown spreading over his face.
“How did you manage that, anyway? Our tests say that static charge problem should have completely fried anyone in the STAd when you fired it.”
Vančura regarded the tech for a moment, a dark smile flickering.
“Come now, Benwright. You of all people ought to know that reality has very ugly effect on even the best laid theories. Practice makes perfect is a much better way of doing things, if you know what I mean.”
End Chapter 21– Part 3
Huh… turns out, I knew THIS was coming, too. Looks like I might be starting a habit of that… which worries me. I’m not sure I like knowing what’s next. Oh, well. Seeing the stunned looks on reader’s faces is a pretty good substitute for having one myself, so I guess I’ll keep writing…
Want to read the previous installments? They’re right here!
Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three,
Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six,
Chapter Seven, Chapter Eight, Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten, Chapter Eleven, Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen, Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty