“That’s not really an answer, Vančura. Here’s the deal; you tell Benwright what he needs to know to fix the STAd. Call it a way to prove you’re playing fair with us. If it works, we’ll let you aboard the Sandglass program, in an advisory capacity.”
Bosze leaned back in his chair and folded his arms with an air of finality, but Vančura didn’t hesitate.
The colonel blinked at him.
“Done? That was… fast. No arguing the specifics? No cryptic banter about how much we need you and how disaster would inevitably strike in your absence?”
A slight smile tinged Vančura’s expression.
“Only a fool argues when he’s been given exactly what he wanted in the first place, Colonel. Now, Benwright, get your notebook. It would be a shame if you missed any important details, now wouldn’t it?”
Benwright scowled, but he pulled a small booklet out of one pocket and took a pen from the colonel’s desk. Bosze, however, shoved his chair out of the way and headed for the door.
“You guys can amuse yourself with the technical details. I’ve got a research project to run, so you’ll excuse me if I get back to it.”
The technician watched the door slam behind Bosze, his scowl deepening rapidly.
“Pathetic excuse for a ….”
He trailed off into low mutter when he noticed Vančura’s raised eyebrows. The big man smirked and settled into a more comfortable position in his chair.
“Oh, don’t stop on my account. It must be remarkably aggravating to have to answer to the colonel over a scientific project when you’re the expert.”
Benwright ground his teeth, but didn’t say anything, so the big man kept talking.
“Still, as long as he thinks he’s in charge, you’re really the one running the project, since he can’t possibly understand any of the science behind the STAd. Fortunate for me, too; you’re probably the only here capable of sorting through the math. See, the problem with the static charge overload is only a serious problem when you’re traveling backwards in time. The strain on the machine when it sends matter through the temporal aberration in reverse is more severe than when it sends matter through forwards. The static charge is too much for the machine in reverse”
The technician frowned and scribbled a quick equation on his paper, then shook his head.
“No, that’s not possible. Interfering with time should have the same consequences regardless of your vector.”
Vančura eyed him for a moment, then sighed.
“Look, Benwright. The problem with you scientists is that you insist on thinking about theories as if they were fact. Theories are just that; theories. Just because the theory makes the math work doesn’t mean it’s right. Just because you hear gunfire and horses whinnying doesn’t mean there are cowboys around the bend. It’s ten times more likely to be musketry and lancers, but you’re conditioned to think that an Indian attack is the only logical answer.”
Benwright stared at him, then rubbed his eyes and looked down at his paper.
“Okay, fine. Let’s say I’m making assumptions; which theory is wrong?”
“Time? Time isn’t a theory.”
The big man snorted disdainfully and leaned forward in his chair, eyeing the technician intently.
“Isn’t it? What do you know about time? What do you know about it, really?”
Vančura waited. Finally, Benwright frowned.
“Time passes. I know that, for sure.”
After giving the tech a satisfied nod, Vančura stood up and started pacing.
“Time passes. True. That’s what we know. But that’s not much, is it? Cars pass. People pass. Time passes? Ducks ‘pass’!! What does the fact that it ‘passes’ tell you about time? Nothing!”
His voice was still quiet, but it cut like a whip.
“Everything scientists “know” about time is based on the assumption that time passes. They’re skeptics about everything but that. Einstein said time passes more slowly the faster you go; a revolutionary idea, true, but he automatically assumed that time passes!”
He rounded on Benwright and froze him with a penetrating stare.
“What if it doesn’t?”
End Chapter 23 – Part 2
Interesting; I had no idea Vančura could get worked up about anything. Of course, there’s always the possibility that he’s faking it to get Benwright to buy his story…
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 Chapter Twenty One