The silent earth slowly revolved above the craggy horizon of the moon. The light from the sun set the moonscape into great contrast, the light washed surfaces etched with deep black shadows. The scant atmosphere of the moon was unspoiled in direct contrast to its neighbor in space. The earth was swathed in a cloak of dense clouds. The beautiful blue seas would now be hidden forever from their ruler the moon.
What had happened to the earth? Once the earth ruled man and through its natural laws dictated his reward or punishment. But man grew knowledgable through his inquisitiveness, and handed it down through the ages, adding and retaining. The fork in the road came with his discovery of the relationship between energy and matter. Here was the elementary secret of the Universe. He found that he could convert matter into energy. But its first applications were for destruction. It had helped stop wars, with the constant threat of its use. Man modified and improved it until it could be done with the levity of a passing thought. He even tried reversing the process, but failed. Such power was for greater things.
The mechanical voice broke Oliver’s train of contemplation as he gazed through the massive tinted window at the moon’s night sky.
“Would you repeat the message?” asked Oliver, obviously having missed the general trend of the message. “Something about the Telemar Project?”
“Yes, Doctor Denisov called. He’s moving the meeting back another hour, pending more information from the units,” the well modulated voice answered.
“Thank you. Oh, and please have Val bring in some coffee.” Oliver turned his gaze from the squawk box, back to the beautiful panorama before him. Spread across the floor of the great crater was the city, the oldest on the moon.
Val entered with the coffee, handed him his cup gently kissed his forehead, and quietly took a seat beside him. They stared in silence out the window for a few moments. Finally, Val turned toward her husband. His eyes were still fixed absent-mindedly in the distance. A strand of his hair hung across his forehead. She reached over and brushed it up, calling his mind back into the room.
“What are you thinking about?” she asked, taking his hand in hers.
“Oh, nothing.” He shifted his position and looked down at the floor.
“Come now, there’s something bothering you. What is it?”
A smile spread across his face, a sigh of resignation. “Alright,” he sighed, “I’ll tell you, I guess I’m a little worried about the meeting this morning. It seems we’re getting closer to the solution, but I don’t like it, none of us do.”
“Well, can you tell me?”
“No, I’m afraid I can’t. If what we suspect is true we’re going to have to keep it under wraps for awhile, until we decide what to do.”
He gulped down the last of the coffee and added, “Well, I either better get some rest, or start to get ready for the meeting. The time isn’t far off.”
The corridor moved Oliver quickly on to his destination. He looked through the transparent walls on both sides, watching the people busy at work processing and filing data on their computers. So engrossed with his thoughts was he that he missed his turn off and had to back track. He took the branch tunnel and a chute down to the lower levels. He was now entering the high security area. The walls are no longer transparent, but a spotless white. There were no guards. There was no need for them. The walls were equipped with wide angle lens and other detection devices, connected to a computer security system. If any intruder was spotted in the corridor solar cells in the walls would be activated, and he would be either blinded by the intense light or fried by the terrific heat.
Finally he arrived at the final check point. He removed a small card from the inside pocket of his jacket and pushed it into a slot next to the door. The door slid open and he stepped in. He was now standing in the center of an enormous computer, who was now comparing him to the information on his card. On that small card was about every piece of physical information possible about him, even down to the average number of cells in his body at any given time. The whole treatment was painless, it only hurt his pride a little, to be searched over entirely, by a machine. The examination was soon over and a door at the other end opened. He strided out and the door closed behind him. A voice said, “Thank you,” and his card popped into a tray on the wall of the room. He scooped it up and replaced it in his pocket. He walked on into the large conference room.
The room was divided into two parts, an enormous lounge where they could recline and rest between sessions, and the conference room itself. The conference room had two concentric circular tables with portable scanners and recorders in the center.
Oliver was met at the entrance of the lounge by Doctor Denisov, the director of the Telemar Project.
“Good morning, Oliver. Well, you’re the last one, the rest are already in the conference room.”
“I hope I haven’t detained matters.”
“Don’t worry. Most of them are still in the process of waking, especially after I interrupted their slumbers early this morning with my message.”
The two men walked into the room and took their places, Denisov at a large desk in the center of the two circles and Oliver in the inner circle. The room was alive with the buzz of conversation. Altogether there were seventeen people at the meeting: Denisov, six scientists, counting Oliver, two government representatives, and eight members of the Telemar stations, including Brad Smedley from the ill-fated Pluto crew.
Oliver’s neighbor leaned over to him and said, “Morning, Simmons. Have you heard the news?”
Oliver shook his head.