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And ANOTHER SMILEA science fiction novelette
By SABER BAGHERY
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2009 Saber Baghery
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThere were just twenty minutes left for the end of the seven hours flight of Big Fort, a vertical flight aircraft, to a remote spot in Central African Sahara, the destination of the mission, and Dr Carla Fritz was growing tired of her efforts to sustain an elaborate smile on her face, as a demonstration of her self-confidence, to the expense of the English chief engineer Steve Blake; particularly as these two were the whole passengers on board.
During those seven hours Dr Fritz had skimmed all the favorite parts of magazines on the desk and electronic newspapers, and after a friendly yet unsuccessful conversation with Steve Blake which had ended up in the long-established Anglo-German conflict, and ultimately in that of their own, she then occupied herself with reviewing the processes of her present mission and spent her remaining time in her inward thoughts.
She wished for a rapid flight of this twenty minutes' time, so that she could get rid of engineer Blake as soon as she was settled down in her temporary camp and began to report to her boss. This was of course beyond her authority, yet easy for her by the help of Uncle Wilhelm, who didn't care for the so called preference of family relationship for rules. HansWilhelm Fritz was the head of the aristocratic noble Fritz family in German; a family that for generations enjoyed an influential decisive role in the courts of Reich Empire and the Kaisers, and by the time being the renowned family had increasingly developed their presence in the Strategic Research Organization of United Europe (S.R.O.U.E).
Hans Wilhelm Fritz, fifty three, was one of the five members of the managing board of the organization. His niece, Carla Fritz, twenty eight, holding PhDs in zoobiology and biotronic, was a research scientist of the organization. Her brother Michael Fritz, thirty one, was a genius in planning laser systems and artificial intelligence for the organization, and their father Olaf Fritz, sixty, had once been another member of the managing board, who was replaced by his brother Wilhelm after his death in a dubious crash and explosion of two submarines three years before. And finally, there was Thomas Fritz, twenty three, son of the great Wilhelm and a ph. D student of nuclear physics, who had a bright prospect in the organization.
As the necessity of a B level research mission was proposed by the Biotronic Department to the managing board two months before, and was accepted after so much investigations and debates, the time for the mission was decided for twenty weeks, after a course of lonely life instructions for the candidates for eight weeks, and the Sahara Desert of the central Africa, the protected national park of Batangato was chosen as the locale of the mission. The number of the expeditionary forces was allotted as two, a chief engineer plus one of the eight prominent scientists of the Biotronic Department.
It was partly by luck and partly by the use of influence that young Carla Fritz was chosen from among the members of the topmost scientists. The chosen member from the engineering section was chief engineer Steve Blake, a specialist of specific constructions.
However, it was not easy for Carla to accept an Englishman as a colleague for twenty weeks long, though according to the slogan of the organization they had to cope and cooperate with each other as family members throughout their mission.
After the end of the lonely life training course, Carla went to see her Uncle Wilhelm, with some ideas in her mind. One of her great expectations was going to be realized by the mission. Beside the object of her mission, which was to cultivate intelligent unicellulars in some apt tropical climate conditions, she could do some personal research in her favorite area of interest. That is, she could study the life of large felines, and in fact the largest of them, the lions. Steve's presence was of course a serious problem for her researches, and she therefore wanted to get rid of him by means of her Uncle Wilhelm.
After going through the ceremonies of receiving congratulations by friends, acquaintances, and colleagues for her achievement in the course exam, she dragged Wilhelm to a less crowded corner of the party (which was made by her colleagues for the sake of her success) and said:
"Uncle, I hope you have had a glance for my records."
"Of course I did my dear." said Wilhelm, "You have got 89%, from the total ten basic diagrams."
"And what about this Mr. Blake?" asked Carla.
"Oh, Steve Blake, yes, he has got 86.2%, which means he is some degrees lower than you. He is an Englishman, of course."
"And what is the least permissible standard mark for the achievement?" pursued Carla.
"It is 84%," replied Wilhelm dubiously, detecting Carla's intention by her way of inquiring. "But I told you that he is an Englishman."
"This indicates that I am better than him, in site planning, setting reactors, preparation of field lab, direction finding, and even in winding the screws of the camp, which are wound in inverted direction, things which are mostly his specialty, but I learned them during 56 days from him and two others. And now, why must he accompany me for those same jobs, after all the trouble that I have taken for the lonely life training? Of course, he is a chief engineer, I admit, and can repair a wireless device in critical situations or turn a bike into a manual excavating drill, but I see no need for him in this expedition, as there are three spare back-ups for every tool in this trip. Moreover, he is chatty and he jokes a lot. I am afraid he won't let me finish my job in peace in twenty weeks' time ..."
"You are pushing it too hard, my dear." interrupted Wilhelm, "I am just one member of the managing board, you know, and not the whole management. Moreover, there is no rule in the organization to let you have a B level research mission by yourself. If you insist, then wait for such a rule to be made. But, take it easy. You can contact me any time, in case of any problem in your career, or any probable bother of Steve Blake."
That was a considerable concession granted to Carla, she thought.
Carla started by a sound of the automatic pilot. After a short low whistle there was an announcement of the arrival:
"Ladies and gentlemen!" said a recorded voice, "Please be seated and fasten your seat-belts. We are going to land in three minutes, with a slight shake ... Thank you for your cooperation."
Steve Blake, who had busied himself with his laptop, rushed to the automatic drink machine for his eighth cup of coffee. Time flied quickly. A sudden silence indicated that it was time for landing. The monitor on the wall inside the cabin offered vivid images of the surrounding area. The aircraft was just landing in the middle of a vast green meadow. There were a bunch of Somor and Salam trees a little afar, when Carla saw her most favorite sight that she might imagine. She watched with relish a herd of lions at rest, who started running away as the aircraft landed. Lionesses drove their little ones away by the push of their heads, and the younger lions followed them, all in flight. The leader of the herd, with his long abundant mane that covered his huge head except his face, looked backward severally, at the giant bird that had then perched on his dominion, and left.
The cabin door opened automatically and slowly, and the steps appeared before the passengers. Carla started to descend the steps before Steve, who was busy packing his pc, and Steve observed, with his typical joking mood, "After you!", when Carla was almost at the threshold. Carla lingered for a second, and then hurried down the steps. She was exasperated by Steve Blake, who wouldn't be shaken off.
She went to the provisional store which was then being lowered to the ground automatically. She stepped inside the store. She was walking towards the jeep, when her eye caught something, and stopped to scrutinize it. It was a black box, in a cylinder form, fixed high on the wall of the store near the entrance. It annoyed Carla, even more than Steve Blake himself, because it emitted infrasound waves that scared the lions more than the sound or sight of the aircraft. It was designed for the sole purpose of frightening the lions away, to provide a secure area for the field laboratory. It had been made by an Iranian chief engineer named Saeed Saalvar, as the first act of the developing countries' cooperation with the United European Strategic Research Organization. There was also another similar transmitting device that had to be fixed near the lab, high above a five meters post, to function from the time the field lab would be set up until the end of the mission. And that was Steve Blake's job.
Steve Blake was standing behind Carla at the time. He shuffled his shoes on the grass, to announce his presence. Carla got ahead of Steve, reaching for the jeep before him, and said, "I'll drive the car." Steve Blake shrugged indifferently, and took the seat beside the driver. The jeep of the research group came out of the belly of the aircraft and set out to survey the camp area. After they had explored the camp area thoroughly, Carla drove towards Somor and Salam trees and stopped by them.
"Let me clarify something first, Miss Dr fritz," said Steve Blake, assuming a rather serious tone. "From now on you and I shall have to be together for twenty weeks, whether willing or not. I don't know what the matter between you and me is, yet you are Carla and I am Steve, no matters friends or not. Because I can't imagine how to call you Dr Fritz at least fifty times a day."
Carla stared into Steve's eyes blankly, as if searching them for something. "Maybe we are not," she thought, "after I sent my report, of course." Then she had a better idea. She tried to look through Steve's character, to penetrate into his personality perhaps, hoping to persuade him in the future to cope with her in affairs which were beyond their missionary obligations. She got out of the car deliberately, and started towards the biggest tree, anticipating Steve's warning voice. She walked several paces but heard nothing. She walked a few steps farther, and was then almost twenty meters away from the car, still without any objection of Steve's. She turned round, with wonder and a little indignation, and looked behind.
"Have you forgotten anything?" said Steve, holding a 48 Wilson rifle in his hands and offering it to Carla. She was a bit disappointed by Steve's failure in quick warning, yet at the same time her hopes for his future cooperation grew. According to the restrict rules of the organization, in a field cruising they had not only to be together but also carry a 48 Wilson rifle, which was capable of killing a male elephant from a mile, together with a rocket launcher containing PN7 type anesthetizing capsules. Anyone who wished to get out of the car was obliged to carry the Wilson rifle.
Carla turned back and got into the car.
Carla was regarded the leader of that two members team because the major goal of the mission was her task. She therefore gave up driving and sat on Steve's place. As Steve took his seat behind the steering wheel he said, in a half-serious tone, "Thank you, for your trust in me." And they came back to the camp.
They began unpacking things and setting up their private compartments at the bottom of the provisional store, inside the aircraft. Those special compartments were going to be their temporary camp for six days, during which they would be busy setting up the lab and build up the camp area. They would then move to the main camp and stay there until the end of their mission.
Steve served the first night dinner, after they had finished building up the temporary camp. After the meal they retired to their own lonely compartments. Steve had grown curiously taciturn, as if he had suspected Carla's intentions and had taken refuge in his solitude, to keep himself away from her probable designs.
Carla began setting up the satellite transmitter. She started the tiny motor to adjust the automatic antenna. As soon as the laser tracker set the antenna in its proper direction, she locked up the instrument. Then she sent the secret code of the operation, and the familiar sign of the organization (twelve circular stars) appeared on the monitor, and then the image of the central controlling operator.
Carla sent her report of the completion of stage one and two of the mission and then called Steve. Steve sent his reports, too, of the camp environment, and the transmission ended.
Steve worked with his laptop for a while and then went into his compartment, to go to bed. Carla retired to her room soon after him.
Chapter Two"I will go, by one hour almost, when Steve is sound asleep." Carla decided, measuring her time. During that one hour she occupied herself with setting up her Radio Telesthesia, an instrument that was able to transform sounds, signs, and behaviors of various animals to one of the basic factors of human behavior. This device had been planned and manufactured by Carla, with considerable help of her brother Michael, but they had decided to test it secretly, in real conditions, before announcing the invention to the public and obtaining a patent for it and presenting it to the organization. Carla had therefore brought it to the field of her mission. There was also another secret thing among Carla's tools; a paw made of titanium, which was at least one of her two main reasons for taking part in that mission, if not her best one.
According to the statistics from African national parks, gathered by Carla before her expedition, and her diagram drawn out of the data, from fifty adult lions whose leadership probability were up to 80%, one was likely to be maimed by crucial injury. After that, he wouldn't survive longer than six or eight months, and was likely to die because of the harassments of the other lions of the group and downright neglect. 35% of this supposed disability would be imposed to the male leader of the group by men, and the remaining 65% by his strong rivals whose ambition for leadership had extremely grown. Even in that 65% too, men played an indirect role. That is, by threatening and invasion to the dominion of the group and by ultimately humiliating the leader of the group, men offered an opportunity for the other mature male members of the group to challenge their power and boldness with the male leader, who would be finally injured fatally in his paws or face by the attack of two or three young lions.
Carla was hopeful to witness a disability case and rush for help, though she was far from wishing it to happen. She set up the Radio Telesthesia and examined the pictures that had been taken by the aircraft cameras at the time of landing, and scanned her favorite scenes. By that way she wanted to obtain the characteristics of the leader of the lions and see if any lion of that group had got his classification label.
She stopped at the picture in which the leader of the group was in the center, and scanned it. She put back some frames and zoomed on his head, and scanned it again. Then she opened the comparison program menu. After 1.7 second the computer showed an illusion of the lion just eight meters behind her, in three dimensional live form and sound.
Carla closed her eyes quickly and turned round. She knew well what she would confront, and she prepared herself for that. It took three seconds for her to master up her mind. She opened her eyes slowly. She had hardly opened them wide enough when she was petrified by what she saw.
She was inclined to believe her eyes. She knew that the apparition was just a fantasy, yet she believed what she saw completely. It was as if the logic and calculating parts of her mind had gone void in a moment. She started to breathe again, after her momentary shock. In that brief moment she beheld the very incarnation of power, eminence, and dignity, which she had supposed in her life she had a portion of them. Her experience was so lifelike that the image on the hologram frightened her.
Excerpted from And ANOTHER SMILE by SABER BAGHERY Copyright © 2009 by Saber Baghery. Excerpted by permission.
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