Legion of Light
Chapter 7: Good Vibrations
Copyright© 2010 by Sea-Life
With my work accomplished, I walked up to the house. The crew had been hard at work and the living room looked immaculate. I'm sure the entire house did. Alicia was walking through the living room putting out bowls of nuts and candy.
"Dave!" She said when she saw me. "I put the box of cell phones you left down here up in your room for now, okay? They're on the dresser."
"Thanks Alicia." I answered.
"Speaking of cell phones." I said to myself, and I pulled my cell phone out and dialed Sheb's number.
"Halliday." Sheb said succinctly.
"Sheb, its Dave. Is everything ready to go at that end?"
"All set here. Do you need us to disconnect our power feed to the reefer unit?"
"Yes, go ahead. While someone disconnects that, lets do the cargo van. Anyone in it?"
"Nope, do we need a driver?"
"No. Hang on a second." I'd started walking down the hall to the side door near the new pad I"d built this morning. When I stepped out the door and could see the pad, I reached out with my senses in Chocowinity and found the cargo van. I jumped it through, onto the pad with the back facing the picnic tables. "Got that one."
"So I see!" I heard Sheb sort of whoosh out.
I had already let my senses wash over the refrigerated container, and knew exactly where it was. I sensed a knot of people standing near Sheb. I decided to play it safe with the people, and jumped myself to the front of the group. As I appeared, I saw a man about my age walking back to the group from the cargo container. He must've been the one who disconnected the generator.
"Is the group with you everyone who's coming over for the catering?"
"Yes, that's everyone except Violet, and she's headed here from the back porch right now."
I let her join us. As soon as I knew we were all together I jumped everyone through to a spot about 20 feet in front of the pad, between the pad and the picnic area.
"Welcome to Meadow!" I said to everyone. "We'll do the introductions in a minute, but let me get that container here first."
I reached out and jumped the container through, with the doors facing us and settled it onto the surface of the pad.
"Who's been handling the power to the container?" I asked the crowd.
Sheb and the man I'd spotted earlier came forward. Sheb introduced me to Brian Aillard.
The three of us walked up to the edge of the pad and I picked up the R2D2-looking unit and handed it to Brian. He turned it over, inspecting it from every angle. The connector was on the other end of the container, so we walked to the back. There was a large connector recessed into the surface that seemed to match the flat end of ours.
"Go ahead and see if the connector's match." I told Brian.
He lined up the two connectors visually at first, and then pushed the unit into the recessed connector jiggling it back and forth slightly to get the final match up, and as he finally got it to slide in, two little handles popped out of the sides.
"Ah, perfect!" Brian said and grabbed the two handles and twisted the unit easily, rotating it into its locked position. Indicator lights near the connector on the container unit flicked on to green and the needles on a couple of dials swept all the way to the right.
"That's it?" Sheb asked.
"Yup, that little bitty thing is a power cell." I answered.
"How long will it keep the unit powered?" Brian asked.
"You know, I"m not sure! Hang on a sec."
<Con?> I sent my thoughts off.
<Dave?> I got back immediately.
<We've got the power cell connected to the refrigerated container, how long will this cell last?>
<Under constant load? About one year.>
"One year under constant load." I answered.
I think that answer stunned Brian more than being jumped to another planet did.
We rejoined the others, and in addition to Brian and his wife Cynthia, I met Walt and Tracey Aldridge, Gene and Olivia Fredrickson, Pat and Dawn Carmichael, and their son and daughter-in-law Wyatt and Abby Carmichael, and Bob 'call me Hoot' Jenkins and his wife Loretta and their two sons Beau and Asa. Once the introductions were complete, I addressed the entire group.
"Folks, you have obviously already seen a few things that you've never imagined, and you will see more. You have two hours to get things ready, so I hope that we've built in enough of a buffer to allow for the occasional lapse of concentration. The best heads up I can give you is to get used to seeing things that float, hover or seem to hang in the air. If you can adjust to that, most of the rest will be pretty non-intrusive." I paused for second, mostly to see if what I was saying was really registering. To their credit, none of these people seemed to be too glazed over in the eyes yet.
"We've obviously got our storage area defined. Do we have a prep area prepared?" Wyatt Carmichael asked.
"I've got four twenty foot tables we can set up anywhere you'd like them." I answered.
"Running water?" Loretta Jenkins asked.
"There are two taps with standard fittings on this side of the house, beside the stairs. They're labeled hot and cold, and the label is accurate. There's a second hot water tap available on the other side as well, but the cold water tap is already in use. Hot water usage is not a problem, and we do not get an electric bill from the local utility, so do not worry about conserving water or electricity."
"Restrooms?" Walt Aldridge asked.
"Those are on the other side of the house as well. Tell you what, is there anything that needs getting done immediately? If not, lets make a quick tour of the grounds so you know what's where."
I started with the side we were on, walking by the stairs where the outside water faucets and hose were, and then around to the back where the patio was set up, pointing to the kitchen doors.
"This is the quick way into the kitchen if you decide you need it. You'll want to check with Ginny or Felicia before anything major happens there though."
The back yard and patio area was the most extensively landscaped area around the house, and thanks to some small trees and shrubs still seemed isolated from the goings on around the rest of the house. As we rounded the opposite corner everyone's eyes went to the cruiser of course.
"This is the cruiser. We haven't given her a name yet, but she's our local transportation. By local, I mean anywhere on Meadow. I will be using her to pick up the guests from Chocowinity, but that is a special case. We will be offering brief rides to the guests later, and I know you all may find yourselves too busy to take advantage of that so let me make this invitation now. When the picnic is over, tomorrow or the next day, we will have all of you back to have lunch as our guests. We will take a nice long ride then, so please do not feel left out if you do not have time for a ride today."
I let them stare at the cruiser a bit before proceeding.
"If you'll turn around, you'll see the answer to your question about restrooms. These 'guest accommodations' as we so politely refer to them are the Legion's version of porta-potties. You'll probably be asked about them as you are serving guests, so please feel free to give them a quick inspection."
Once everyone was finished with their quick examination, We continued around to the front of the house. This finally gave the crew their first really good look at the picnic tables.
"Damn! You weren't kidding, were you?" Hoot Jenkins said, staring at the array of seemingly free-floating table tops.
"No, and this is a good chance to get a change of perception established. I know these table tops and benches look as if they are floating in air, but they really aren't 'floating'. Beau, Asa, Wyatt, why don't the three of you go over and try moving something. Feel free to climb on and jump up and down on anything you want."
The three younger men took advantage of the opportunity to have a little fun, and were quickly grunting and groaning as they attempted to budge the table tops and benches.
"These things are really about as immovable as a thing can get. They are gravitationally locked into this specific spot on Meadow, and it would probably require blowing up the planet to get them to move without the right equipment. Speaking of which, lets get back over to where we started and get those prep tables set up where you want them."
When we got back to the spot in front of the container and van, I grabbed one of the 'activators' that I'd left sitting next to them and handed it to Olivia Fredrickson. Olivia was a tiny, petite little thing, which is why I picked her of course.
"Olivia, do you see the little blue button?"
"Yes sir." she answered.
"Okay, before I continue. What's my first name?"
"Dave." I got back.
"Good, that's what I want to hear you calling me." I turned to the rest of the group. "We are all strictly on a first name basis here. Okay?"
"Okay Dave." They answered in unison, and then all laughed at themselves.
"Okay, Olivia, put the flat disk on the surface of this table top and push the blue button." I watched as she did as instructed. "Now lift the table." She did, and the table rose up smoothly as she did.
"Move the table to where you want it. When its exactly where it needs to go, hit the blue button again."
"Lets set up the first table over by the faucet." Violet said, and Olivia led the table over to the side of the house and slowly aligned it to Violet's satisfaction. Once she had it there, she looked at me for a second, then pushed the blue button. The disk separated from the surface and a second later the table shimmered and was locked in place.
"Just that easy!" I said. If you decide to move it later, you can just use the activator."
"Can you move 'em while they're loaded?" Abby Carmichael asked.
"Yes." I said." That got me a smile from Dawn Carmichael.
"It sure would be nice to have a couple of smaller ones to use for carts." She said.
"Funny you should ask." I added, turning and pointing at the remaining small stack. "These should do. Lets check them out."
The 'carts' that I had brought weren't fabbed items, rather they were standard tools in the Hall, and I had just appropriated a few for the day. They were 4 foot by 3 foot flat surfaces with a slight raised lip running around the edge. A handle like you'd find on a piece of luggage hung from the long ends of each, and each handle had a blue glowing button on one side of it. It took only seconds for the crew to have them figured out.
"Folks, we've just chewed up 40 minutes of the alloted two hours you have to get ready. I have to do a little more running around myself, so if there is nothing else, I'll be off."
After a little self check amongst the group, Sheb said "Nope, that's it Dave, thanks a bunch!"
"No thank you all." I said as I looked at the group. "I know that all of you are the candidates for staff positions here, and I appreciate the way you were all willing to pitch in and help with this picnic. Granted, it is a very unusual interview process, wouldn't you say?" They all laughed. "We will be seeing you all soon, thanks again."
I couldn't sense anyone in the bedroom, so I jumped there. After changing into my Legion armor — we had started jokingly referring to them as our 'Legion Long johns' - and sent out a thought to Ginny.
<Davey! Right on time. We're all in the meeting room on Level One except for you and Con.>
I jumped down to the Personal Storage area, which we all agreed was just too awkward a name to use, so we'd begun referring to it as 'Level One'. It was, for the most part the only place in the basement levels where we spent much time so far.
The meeting room was just that, a room behind the elevator area with a table that would fit about 15 people, nice comfy chairs and not much else. Ginny gave me a kiss and Eru handed me a nice glass of iced tea and I sat with them.
"Phew!" I said after a big drink of the ice tea. "Quite the busy day so far, isn't it?" Everyone chuckled at that.
"Here's how I expect to see things proceeding. If anyone thinks it should be different, speak up, okay?"
"Where's Con?" Cyrus asked.
"Con has a pass on the meeting because he's in the middle of some work that I've already interrupted twice today after promising him he was free until the actual picnic. I'll dump my memory of the meeting to him when he's ready."
"There's really not that much to go over in the first place. The caterers have the food and service situation well in hand. They were busy getting their service and prep tables set up when I left them. Remember that every person here as a member of the catering crew is someone who is a candidate for the staff positions we've been talking about. They are all here as married couples, or in two cases, married couples with adult children."
I sipped my ice tea again for a moment, then proceeded.
"Its almost 1pm now. I will be going to get my family as soon as we are done here, and I'd like to see all your family members here by 1:30. To do that, I will jump you through first, and then join you there to bring them here. Who wants to go first?"
"I do." Fred said. " I believe Dad is bringing all the adults, meaning my 6 older brothers, 4 uncles, 3 aunts and my mother. My aunt Lucietta is very shy and becomes panicky in crowds, so she has volunteered to stay with the youngsters."
"Probably a good idea then. Anything else?"
"That will give us about 15 minutes to get the families settled in before I have to go get the Chocowinity contingent. I would like someone to accompany me, mostly to assist with the boarding of the 50 people who will be waiting to make the trip. Volunteers?"
"I believe Felicia and I should go." Cyrus said. "Everyone that we will be picking up will know us, and that should make them feel a little more comfortable."
"Excellent point. Okay, Cyrus and Felicia it is."
"Okay, lets wrap it up with this. I know you all don't need to be told this, but wear the armor while there's even one guest still here and treat it like a uniform. It symbolizes our unity, and reminds everyone that we have a purpose. The reason I want the families here early is to get them comfortable without you nearby. I need you all to circulate and meet everyone. More importantly, I want to make sure everyone has a chance to meet you. They need friendly faces to identify with."
One by one I jumped everyone where they needed to be. Cyrus, Felicia and Eru were cleaning up the iced tea glasses and pitcher when I finally popped myself home to Mom and Dad's house in Angel's Camp.
Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa Carson, Grandpa McKesson, Uncle Ambrose and Uncle Aaron were waiting for me in the living room. A nice round of hugs later, we were in the living room on Meadow.
"I'm going to get Fred's family next. There will be a lot of them, and this will all be new to everyone of them except Formerio, so please do everything you can to make them feel comfortable while I"m off getting the others, okay?"
As I said this, Alicia, Cyrus, Eru and Felicia joined them. I jumped.
At Fred's house there was total chaos. I pulled some light to me and sent out a wave of calm as I stood there, waiting for the room to settle. Finally Formerio boomed "Enough!" and the room grew instantly quiet.
"Are you and your little lambs ready?" I asked in Basque. That earned first me, and then Fred a sharp look, but he grinned and said "Ready!" I reached out and moved us to Meadow to join the others.
The remainder of the moves went smoothly. We spent a little time getting the rest of the Sabarte family feeling comfortable.
When it came time, Felicia, Cyrus and I headed to the cruiser and I pulled us up 20 feet into the air before jumping us to the grotto in Chocowinity. The group we were collecting were all staying close to the dock area, and so I did a slow spin to face the cruiser's rear towards them and then backed towards the dock slowly until we were about twenty feet away. I let the landing sequence cycle through and lower the entry ramp before I abandoned the control cabin and headed back myself.
Cyrus and Felicia were busy hugging and shaking hands with people they knew, and I saw Doc Aillard standing at the front of the group and went over and said hello.
"Doc, we need to get everyone here loaded aboard. There won't be room for everyone to sit, but its a short trip the way I do it, so it shouldn't matter."
"Okay, I'll do the hollering. Nice suit by the way." I laughed.
"Thanks! When you get everybody moving, come sit with me up in the command cabin."
It took longer to get everyone on board and then off again than the trip itself. Once I got the signal from Cyrus that we were good to go I jumped us directly onto the pad on Meadow. I didn't even bother to close the ramp.
"Okay, we're here!" I said to Doc.
"You're kidding, right?" Doc said.
"Nope, but don't worry, we'll be giving free rides in the cruiser later that are actual rides, not me jumping people from here to there."
So of course Doc and I had to walk back out of the cabin and down the ramp as if it was the most normal thing in the world. About halfway down the ramp he turned his head back to look at everyone.
"Well, aren't you guys coming?" I knew He'd enjoy saying that!
The picnic was a rousing success, but its funny how much less of it sticks out to me than do the events leading up to it. Ginny suggests that its because I was just a busy member of the team getting things done before the picnic, and spent most of my time during just wandering around being seen and being a symbol to the people whose commitments we were celebrating.
The rides in the cruiser were probably the biggest hit. Fred had decided that it would be a good idea to show how things here were different and still the same. So he set us up to fly to where San Francisco would have been if this were Earth, and do a quick circle of Alcatraz, minus its famous prison. That was followed by a loop through Yosemite and a slow flyby of the face of El Capitan just for the wow factor. It made a nice little 30 minute loop.
Con was a major hit himself. People were rightfully amazed to hear that he was a completely artificial being. When we added that he was at least 4000 years old, they were stunned speechless.
Slowly over the course of the evening, I dispensed my box of cell phones, and handed each person a small ring, which, like the bracelets, stretched to fit whatever finger they wore it on. The rings were their substitute for the bracelets the Legion wore and served as the phones' activator keys. I watched as each person placed their phone into the 'enhancer' and pulled out the replacement. I still had a dozen of the rings left when the box was empty, and we began adding people who already had the newly acquired company phones, like Aaron and Ambrose, Doc Aillard, Sheb and Violet.
We had wanted a typical American picnic, and that was what we achieved. We had hamburgers and hot dogs, watermelon and corn on the cob. There was beer and lemonade and iced tea. Without children at the festivities we left out the balloons and games.
What made me happiest was to see the way in which our East and West coast groups mingled and blended. Aaron and Mr. Parkin of all people hit it off immediately when they discovered that they both absolutely abhorred the Dallas Cowboys. For Aaron it was a life-long hatred, and for Mr. Parkin it was a slightly more recent phenomenon that Dad referred to as the post-Tom Landry syndrome.
We had set up a horseshoe pit, because it just wouldn't be a picnic without a game of horseshoes going on. Doc Aillard and Formerio Sabarte became the kings of that court and I saw the two of them sitting there on the sidelines at one point, smoking cigars and giving advice to the other players like they had been a team for years.
Towards the end of the evening I led Grandpa A.J., Aaron, Ambrose Dad, Eru, Con, Sheb and Doc Aillard over to the caterers area and showed them the power cell that was connected to the refrigerated container.
"This is standard Seeker technology, and has been powering this unit since 2:00 this afternoon. It could power this unit, under continuous operation, for a year."
"Is this the fuel cell technology you said you thought we could reverse engineer and sell?" Ambrose asked.
"Almost. It is for the most part only a few generations removed from the Taluatan version. That version is the one we could reverse engineer and sell."
"How would that version compare to this one?" Dad asked.
"The Taluatan version would be twice this size." Eru said.
"Our version will be somewhere between both sizes I think. We aren't really reverse-engineering the device so much as the scientific and mathematical understanding that led to it."
"Can you give a estimate on how much longer it will take to be at that point?" Doc asked.
"Barring unforeseen hurdles, four to six months."
I had spent my time wisely in the month since the big picnic. I had dropped myself deep into the research and study that I needed to create the Earth version of the power cell. All that was left to do now was taking the time and effort to set the scene at the facility dad had found for us that would show the earth version of the research. It wouldn't be too hard, as I had used a lot of normal earth tools during the process.
We had our staff candidates/catering crew back for lunch a couple of days after the picnic, and everyone had a good time. We quickly settled on the Jenkins family as our choice, and offered them the position, which they accepted.
Fred's Dad and three oldest brothers were going to remain at their garage, but the remaining three brothers, along with 3 uncles and 2 cousins had been hired to be the day to day staff for what we were now officially calling The Obsidian Project Research facility. We also hired a very competent and experienced security team, all former working acquaintances of Cyrus'.