Legion of Light
Chapter 13: Second Chances

Copyright© 2010 by Sea-Life

We were at the Palio d'Asti in San Francisco, a warm and inviting locale for someone raised on my mother's cooking. We had offered to meet Dr. Porter Burgess for a lunch appointment anywhere he chose, and this was the place he'd selected.

"Good afternoon, Doctor Burgess. Please, don't bother getting up." I told the middle-aged man waiting for us when we were shown to our table. I shook his hand. "Please allow me to introduce my wife, Doctor Virginia McKesson." I introduced, as she came past me to shake his hand as well.

"Please sit!" He said, waiving us into the padded bench seat against the wall. "I remember what it was like when my wife was pregnant, a soft cushioned seat was a sought-after commodity."

Our waiter already had our drink orders, so he left us as soon as we were seated and we were alone with the infamous Doctor Porter Burgess, PhD.

"Not that I would ever refuse a lunch offer at the Palio, especially these days, but what can I do for the famous director of Obsidian Research?" He opened.

"Perhaps its better asked, what might we do for each other." I countered.

"Well short of the enjoyment I might get by being poked and prodded by the very beautiful Doctor McKesson, I can't imagine what you can do for me, any less than I could imagine why Obsidian Research would be interested in a Cosmologist with six months to live?"

"What would you say if I told you we could increase your life expectancy by at least a year?"

"Ooh! A whole year!" He laughed. "The last quack I talked to in Guadalajara offered me five years! And I know for a fact that the good doctor McKesson can't open her mouth about such possibilities without fear of loosing her license."

"Although I have not seen either the diagnosis, nor the prognosis of the physicians attending you, I am familiar with the inoperable nature of the the tumor that is killing you, and I am not offering any kind of medical advice here, I'm here as my husband's partner." Ginny replied. "I can tell you that what is offered is not surgery and it is not some new miracle drug. It is real, as is the life expectancy improvement."

"What do I have to do for Obsidian Research to receive this 'whatever-it-is' that's not a medical treatment." Doctor Burgess asked.

"Come to work for us. Sign a non-disclosure agreement, then look me in the eye and swear to honor it. Do that and we'll sign you to a lifetime contract with a five million dollar guaranteed advance on earnings."

"That's insane!" He said. "Who'd ever make an offer like that?"

We were interrupted by the waiter returning with our drinks. We placed our meal orders and waited for the waiter to leave again.

"You're aware of the resources we can bring to bear on anything we're interested in pursuing." I told him. "We are making money hand over fist and we haven't even begun to see the conversion of the personal automobile industry yet, and we both know it is inevitable."

"I can't dispute that, but..."

"But despite the unlikeliness of it, Obsidian Research does have something that you will love sinking your teeth into, whether you live 6 months or six centuries." I interrupted. "We are interested in having someone with your knowledge and skills, particularly your combination of degrees in Cosmology and Planetary Science. We are interested enough to pay you enough money up front to get your wife and children instantly clear of the massive debt your medical treatment has placed them under. Enough to let your wife live on in your home for the rest of her life if she chooses. Enough to send your children through college after you're gone, if that is their desire."

"Think about it over the rest of our lunch together Doctor." Ginny said. "I will add only one thing more. You will someday come to see the incredible nature of this offer as insignificant compared to what you learn and where you learn it."

Ginny excused herself to visit the ladies room. Despite recent protestations to the contrary, the pressure on her bladder was beginning to have its effect.

Our lunches were being served when she returned, and we wasted no time digging in. Doctor Burgess had ordered the Soup of the Day, which was a delicious Minestrone Genovese, while Ginny and I had the Insalata degli Frutti Stagionali a beautiful Stonefruit Salad of Peaches, Plums, Cherries, Butter Lettuce, Arugula, Red Onions, Almonds, Pecorino Pepato and Champagne Nectarine Vinaigrette.
For the main course, Ginny and I had both chosen the Cacciucco Livornese, a spicy Tuscan stew with red wine and tomatoes, lobster, mussels, clams, prawns, octopus, calamari and fish. Doctor Burgess had the Gnocchi con Pesto Genovese, which had house-made potato dumplings, baby green beans and a Ligurian Sauce of basil, pine nuts, garlic, pecorino, grana padano and extra virgin olive oil.
Needless to say, there was little conversation beyond appreciative murmurs and the occasional ahhh! Of satisfaction.
"Mr. And Mrs' McKesson," The Doctor began, once the dishes had been cleared, and we were sipping our tea and coffee. "I have absolutely no reason, beyond the desire to be remembered as a stubborn curmudgeon, to refuse your offer. As a loving husband and father, I cannot permit myself to say no. I will accept your offer."

"When can you start?" I asked.

"Sir, I am at your disposal." He said with all the dignity he could muster.

"Very well," I said, pulling the standard Obsidian Research NDA from the inside pocket of my jacket. "If you'll look this over and sign it?" I placed a pen on the table along with the form.

"This is your standard document for non-disclosure?"

"Yes, it is." I answered. He signed it immediately.

"I only ask that you look me in the eye and promise to honor what you just signed."

"I swear to you, and to all I hold dear that whatever I learn in this capacity, I will carry to my grave unrevealed if that is your wish." He looked me unflinchingly in the eye as he said it.

Of course I was reading the truth of his oath in his thoughts. This man understood honor, and had an amazing mind! It was going to be a pleasure working with him!

"Well said sir. Will you want your lawyer to look over the contract before you sign it?" I pulled the contract out of my other inside pocket.

"I should, but I"m feeling adventurous. Lets get it done. I'm eager to see whether you can deliver on your promise to amaze me."

As we each took turns signing the contract, Ginny jumped on her cell phone and called a waiting Grandpa A.J. She spoke briefly with him, too quietly to be heard, before hanging up, out of the corner of my eye I saw her give me a small nod. Of course all that, phone call included, had been something of a charade. All the real communication had taken place within our thoughts.

With both our signatures in place, I returned the two documents to the inside pocket of my jacket and reached out to take his hand.

"You will want to go home and explain what is going on to your family. Call your bank. They'll want to share the news that five million dollars has been transferred into your account. Pack a bag, just your necessaries and a change of clothes, nothing fancy, we do not run a suit and tie environment. Enjoy the evening with your family, and someone will be by your house in the morning at 9am to pick you up."

"Would you like us to arrange dinner reservations for you and the family somewhere? Your celebration tonight should be on us!" Ginny offered.

"Do you think I could get a dinner reservation here for this evening on such short notice?" He asked. "This really is the place I've always wanted to be able to bring them."

"Sweetie, why don't the two of you walk out and get some fresh air out front. I'll see what I can arrange. Would 7pm be a good time Doctor?" Ginny asked.

"Yes, of course."

While we stood on the busy sidewalk, in the shadow of the TransAmerica pyramid, waiting for Ginny, I discovered that the good doctor was planning to catch a ride home via the San Francisco transit system. I immediately offered him a ride.

Ginny was out shortly, and wearing a very big smile.

"They didn't have anything free at seven except for banquet rooms, so I've reserved one for you. You can invite up to 8 other friends or family, in addition to the wife and kids. Its on Obsidian Research."

Way to go Ginny! I do love my wife's style!

We dropped Porter, as he now insisted we call him at his home in Bernal Heights. We refused to come in and meet the family, telling him we would meet them at a later date. We had to promise him it would happen before he would let us go.

"Well, we have our cosmologist." I said as we were driving out of San Francisco, headed back to Obsidian Research. "You're going to love Porter's mind too!"

"This recruiting scheme was an interesting approach. Can we afford to keep using it in order to get the scientific staff we've been wanting?"

"Blossom, the way the fuel cell is making us money, we could afford to spend that much out of our own pocket every day and our financial guys wouldn't blink an eye. This is Obsidian Research funds were spending here, and those pockets make our personal one seem meager by comparison."

"Could we really spend that much every day without missing it?" Ginny asked.

"I guess that is an exaggeration. We could spend that much every day for a while before the money guys started to complain, but not indefinitely."

"How much could we spend every day and be able to do it indefinitely? We should be doing something charitable with that money if its something we wouldn't even miss."

"I appreciate that kind of thinking, and there is something to be said for it. I think though we need to keep things where they are for the time being. Between the two of us, we are already giving somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of our after tax income to charitable causes. The problem with continually donating all the surplus in our pocket is that we can't ever scale up the magnitude of what we're doing beyond personal giving."

"I can understand that. I should have known we were already doing something, but to be honest it is nice to be able to ignore the finances and just do what we do."

"It sure is, and if I had it in my power to do, I'd make it that way for everyone in the world. Since I can't, I think the world is better served by my efforts to make the world a place where it is increasingly easy for everyone to do that for themselves."

<Dave, Ginny, is your meeting concluded?> Con thought to us.

<Yes Con, what's up?> We thought back.

<Are you able to join me in the Hall?> He asked.

Gianni Sabarte was our driver this trip, so we would have no problem jumping directly from the car. I told Gianni what was going on and Ginny and I were gone and in the Hall on Obsidian in the blink of an eye.

"Greetings!" We heard from Con the moment we arrived. "Do I have a surprise for the Legion today!"

I looked at the workbench behind him. The displays were all dark, the projectors shut down, and the bench top itself was completely cleared off except for a single square case.

"Are you trying to keep us in the dark, Con?"

"Oh yes, you need to stay in the dark, definitely. Way more fun that way!" With that, he picked up the square case from the workbench, grabbed his free wrist, and was gone!

I laughed out loud into the now empty Hall, and jumped us after him!

As we blinked into being in the Staging level of the basement, I saw Con and the rest of the Legion laughing, presumably at my expense.

"Last ones to arrive, isn't that refreshing!" I said to everyone.

Once we joined them where they stood clustered around Con, I gave him a raised eyebrow and said

"You had something else Con?"

"Yes, of course, thank you Dave." Con said, stepping slightly away and turning to face us. He waved at the room around him.

"You've all seen that we have made some effort to keep the obvious 'mission' side of this facility separate from the 'home' side of it. This was by conscious design of course, but it was done mostly so we would have a sense of being home that wasn't necessarily also a reminder of work."

A lot of nods and ah!'s followed this, as obviously not everyone had come to the same conclusions about our layout and design choices.

"Given the realities of life as we've discovered them to be in the short time we've been operating within it, the choices were perhaps a bit of overkill. Agreed Dave?"

"Yes, I've come to that same conclusion." I sighed.

"For that reason, I'm proposing this next surprise gets done upstairs, not downstairs. Elevator or Davey Express?"

"Davey Express!" Everyone chimed in. So I popped us into the living room without so much as a blink.

"My next consideration was more aesthetic than practical, but it does have its practical applications." Con said, and with that he pulled an orange tube from the case he'd brought with him. "Please remain where you are for a moment he cautioned."

Con walked over to stand in front of the fireplace, and rotated the entire round end of the tube in a clockwise direction. We all saw a light begin to glow on the base of it where he had twisted. He quickly uncapped the other end of the tube to reveal a small nozzle tip. He walked up to the stone fireplace and squeezed out a stream of gray paste, laying down a line that ran up one side of the fireplace, across the stones above the mantle, and back down the other side. He completed this procedure by stepping back and rotating the round end back to its original position, and when he did, the gray paste suddenly seemed to sink right into the stone and disappear!

"This accomplishes step one of the process. Next I had to pick a good second location, and for that, I've chosen one in Dave's house. If you'd be so kind, Dave?" Con was looking smugger by the second, but I was enjoying this myself, so I just played along, and to save time just popped us all into my bedroom.

I guess I had never tried to fit so many people in it before. We packed it!

"Perfect!" Con cried out. "This is the very location I was considering. Please open the bedroom door, whoever is standing closest to it."

We actually had to all shift a little out of the way to let the door swing open.

Once the door was open, Con asked some of us to step out into the hallway. I gave Mom a quick shout out to make sure we didn't scare her.

<Mom! We're all upstairs, don't freak out if you hear us making noise, okay?>

<Not an issue Davey, I'm over at the Parkin's with Mary!> She thought back. Oops, teach me not to check first!

With the door open and some of us in the hall, Con had room to work. He reached once again into the case and brought out a blue tube. The cap on the base end got twisted clockwise until the light came on. With the cap removed from the nozzle end, Con ran this tube around the edges of the door frame as he squeezed. Once again the gray paste seemed to disappear into the wood when he rotated the cap back at the end.

"The contents of these tubes contain a new idea. A Light-based device, similar in some degree to the bracelets you wear, but in this case made entirely of fluid nano-composites. The device in fact will not work unless there is a bracelet, or equivalent activator present. Now, you all know I cannot jump anywhere but to Davey, unless I am wearing a bracelet, as I am now, correct?"

We all nodded in agreement. Nobody had expressed this concept before this, but based on what we knew, it made perfect sense.

"Behold!" Con said with an overload of high drama, and he walked through the doorway into my bedroom and disappeared! I immediately sent my senses looking for him.

"He's on Meadow, in the living room!" I said to everyone. As I said it, he reappeared in the doorway. He was still in high drama mode.

"Felicia, will you walk through the doorway?" Con asked.

Felicia, who was standing next to me walked through the doorway and ... walked through the doorway into the hall.

"Nothing happened. The mere presence of a bracelet will not activate the jump." Con explained. "Mike, if you'll walk through? Be thinking of the location in the living room on Meadow, please."

Mike walked through the doorway and disappeared.

"See you all on Meadow!" I said, and jumped myself through to the living room where Mike stood grinning. "The gangs gonna be following, better make room!" I said to him.

One by one the Legion appeared in the living room. Con arrived last, and when he got there we applauded at first, and then we hugged him! I kissed his cheek, shook his hand and then hugged him!

Thank God it was the living room we were in, because we all had to sit down after that. We all sat in total silence for quite a while. Each of us considering how dramatically the way in which we were going to be able to live had altered with this single development.

Who knows how long we would have sat there, lost in our individual thoughts if Chet's stomach hadn't grumbled! We hadn't had breakfast yet!

"That sounded like a request!" Loretta said from the entrance to the kitchen. "Omelets and Sausage patties with hash browns sound good?"

There was instantaneous and unanimous agreement.

Breakfast was good, filling, and helped get all our minds back to a more grounded place. We all gathered in the living room afterwards and kicked a few things around.

"Who here has a place that they would like to use as a gate?" I asked the room. "Cyrus and Felicia, you two will find a spot in your house at Green Horn Creek somewhere, right?"

"Oh absolutely!" Felicia said. "How about the front door?"

"How do you know which side of the door you'll come out of, by the way?" Cyrus added.

"Of course, the front door would be fine, and the direction of egress is always towards the direction of the applicator, when applied, so under all but perhaps a contortionist's scenario, arrival would be toward the side it was installed from."

"Perhaps we can facilitate getting this installed in the variety of places we'll need it if Con can share the procedure with us while we are linked." I suggested.

"It would be wise to make sure everyone is familiar with the procedure, even if we were not to do that." Con replied. "There are some issues to make note of. During our previous demonstrations we only had one endpoint at the Earth end. As soon as we place a second, how does the gate on Meadow know which gate you wish to go to?"

"Whoosh! Good question!" Alicia said. "How does the gate know which one to go to?"

Just as with the jump to Meadow requiring you have that destination in your thoughts for the gate on Earth to work, so too will you have to have your destination in mind when you step through the gate on Meadow."

"So I can't go to a gate I don't know exists!" Mike said.

"That is correct. Also, even knowing of a gates existence is not sufficient knowledge. You bracelet cannot activate a gate from the Meadow gate that it has not already been through. You either have to go through once from the Earth end, which requires being shown where the Earth gate is, since they are not visible in any way, or else someone who has been there must lead you through.

"And once a gate is known, how do you keep your privacy?" Cyrus asked. "We will have a permanently active and open door into our home as soon as we add the gate!"

"As I said, there are some issues." Con said, apologetically.

"We are developing an entirely new way of living here, and there will be social and moral adjustments. If we cannot adjust, we will have to sacrifice some of the gains in favor of peace of mind. This is a phenomenon as old as life itself." Eru offered.

"Lets sit and link ourselves and learn about this new thing together. Eru, would you lead?" I asked.

We stat together then in our familiar mediation circle, and with Eru's easy guidance we linked our minds loosely together. Soon Con's memories of the process flowed through us, and together, we gathered them and locked the understanding in our own minds. A quick second look confirmed it was there, and we broke our link.

"Man, if only we could learn everything so easily!" Arden said.

"I suggest that as our joining have progressed, we have been finding such transfers easier and faster. As we did with our shared languages, we will eventually be capable of passing other knowledge, skills and experience amongst ourselves in this fashion." Eru responded.

I had a sudden thought, and rather than share it out loud, I sent a thought to Con.

<Con, will this work for anyone wearing one of our bracelets?>

<Yes Dave. Everyone we've given an 'enhanced' cell phone to will be able to use these gates as well, once they know a location.>

"Folks, I suggest you all get together, decide where and how you might want to get a gate set up, and get to moving on making it happen." I said. "Con throw me a tube of that gray goo will you?"

Con did indeed flip a tube to me across the room. I snagged it out of the air.

"I think I need to go make an old man in North Carolina happy. I also need to let him know that our staffing issues may have been made a little easier."

<Grandpa, got time for company?" I thought.

<Always for you Dave, come ahead!> He thought back.

I jumped us through to Grandpa's house. He was sitting in the kitchen drinking tea, having just finished lunch. We went into his study, and with the door closed, we explained the days events, and the ramifications, known and anticipated, and asked if he would like a gate to the house on Meadow.

That night, as Ginny and I lay in bed snuggled together and with our minds tightly merged, we watched and felt our baby moving. We had known we were having a boy for some time, but we hadn't shared the information with anyone. When asked by Ginny's Obstetrician if we wanted to know the baby's gender, we'd said no. With the due date barely a month away, we had been sensing a little seed of consciousness there for a while already, so we kept our touch light, and tried only to send love and caring and supportive emotions. Eru told us that according to the lore passed down among the Soul Divers of Taluat, this kind of contact had been common amongst them.

Whether or not the kind of Light contact and reinforcement we had been doing throughout the pregnancy was something the Choctowineh had done was lost to us, but it felt right, and I had learned to trust my feelings when dealing with the Light.

"Con's surprise today is going to make your life much less complicated Dave, don't you think?"

"Yes, I do. So will this guy, eventually, and the others like him that will follow."

"They are going to follow too. Felicia told me today that she and Cyrus are expecting. She's a month along already." Ginny said. "Pete and Sara are only waiting until they tie the knot and then they'll begin trying too."

"I would guess that Arden and Alicia are not going to waste any time once they are married either." I added. "Speaking of which. We've got only a couple of months left before their wedding. Do you have any idea what you want to get them as a wedding present yet?"

I smiled and kissed my wife and laid my head back on the pillow.

"What was that about?" She asked.

"I think I just had a strong feeling of domestic bliss. It felt good." I answered.

When we met Porter Burgess at the front doors to the Obsidian Research offices, he was beaming. As we ushered him through the process of getting his ID badge and paperwork squared away, he regaled us with the story of last night's banquet at the Palio d'Asti. He had indeed taken advantage of the reservations and called four of his friends and asked them to join him and his family. Each brought their spouses and a good time was had by all.

"One of my former colleagues even suggested he was willing to suffer some debilitating disease or injury if it meant getting recruited by Obsidian, and he didn't even care what the pay was!" Porter told us.

"Porter," Ginny asked. "With your current health an issue, how are you with stairs?"

"Not very good I'm afraid. "Although since I've stopped the chemotherapy I have been doing better."

"We do not have an elevator in this building, and the stairs to the second floor where my office is may be a bit too much for you right now, so let's go see the warehouse area for a moment, shall we?"

"Okay, I'm game." He answered, although he looked puzzled.

He was about to get really puzzled. As soon as we were inside the secure warehouse and the door had closed behind us I stopped and turned to him.

"Secret number one starts right here Porter. These facilities, the Obsidian Research offices and this warehouse are a front. We do nothing here except provide a convincing staff, who perform a variety of office and personnel duties."

"Where do you do your research then, and how do we get there from here?" He asked.

"I take us there. Like this." I said, and as I did, I jumped us through to the field in front of the house. It was pretty much smooth level lawn now, but it was the same spot, and a nice set of benches had been placed here to make it a comfortable spot to sit and relax. "Welcome to Meadow."

We took him up to the house and introduced him to Loretta, Hoot and the boys. With a cup of coffee in his hand, and tea in ours, we sat on the couch in the living room and gave him the condensed version of the story.

"So you have these gifts, and you are all members of a group you call the Legion of Light?" He asked at the end.

"Ginny and I are, but the others you've met here so far are not." I stood and activated my Legion armor. Ginny quickly followed suit. Her bulging tummy looked oddly appealing in the Legion armor.

"The Legionnaires wear this armor, it serves as our uniform in a way, but it is very much more than either of those labels suggests. Lets get you introduced to the rest of the Legion." I said, and we turned to look at the fireplace while I sent a thought to Constantine.

One by one they blinked in, using the new gate and we introduced him to them. Knowing of Con's nature from the tale we'd told him, he gave him a thorough stare as they shook hands.

"You look incredibly human for an artificial being." Porter told him.

"You look pretty good for an almost dead cosmologist." Con answered back with a grin.

"Pack up all your preconceptions Porter. Nothing you encounter from this point on is likely to live down to any of them. Constantine here was the best man at my wedding, he's my closest friend in the world, after Ginny, and he has a truly wicked sense of humor."

"Enough meet and greet." Arden said. "I think its time we show the good Doctor what we have for him to work on!"

We all began to head towards the side of the house where Kes, our cruiser sat.

"How's your energy level Doc?" I asked. "Are you getting tired?"

"A little bit. Will there be a chance to sit for a while when we get there?"

"Of course, but lets try this." I said, and as I did I washed him in a wave of Light, pumping energy into him and drawing off the fatigue.

"Oh my!" He said, as he felt the boost I'd just given him.

"You know we said at least an extra year?" Ginny asked, knowing that he would understand exactly what she meant.

"Yeah?" He answered.

"We were low-balling that estimate." Ginny smiled wickedly at him.

Just as he was trying to deal with that stunning announcement we walked out the side door and he saw Kes for the first time.

"Is that thing floating in mid-air?" Porter asked.

"Yup! Anti-gravity." Chet replied with a matter-of-fact tone.

"Not something Obsidian is prepared to bring to market quite yet." Mike said, which got an instant laugh from all of the Legionnaires.

With everyone aboard and comfortably seated I switched the passenger cabin to what we referred to as 'tourist mode', which converted all the side walls of the cabin to external viewers. We instantly saw the house and the surrounding area, as Con slowly took us up.

"100 feet and holding Dave." He called back over the intercom.

"Very good. Jumping now." I answered back, and took us to Kite.

"Welcome to Kite, Porter. Con, do we have good data on a night time view?" I asked.

"Affirmative Dave. Eastern Europe looks best. Moscow looks very promising."

We had pre-spotted some locations to give us more jump options, and Moscow was one of them. I jumped us there.

"Target dead ahead." Con called back. "Rotating for viewing."

Of course we'd done this on purpose, for the dramatic effect. Everyone in the cabin had their eyes on Porter Burgess as the low hanging moon came into view.

"Oh my God!" He said, and then sat in silent awe and stared at Kite's moon, where it was was slowly rising to fill the eastern sky.

"Now you know why we wanted a cosmologist so badly." Arden said softly.

That night we took Porter to the Meditation chamber, and with Ginny and I fused and fully within the Light, we worked on the tumor that had been growing in his brain. Because the restoration of the normal blood flow and structure of the surrounding brain was delicate and time consuming work, it was probably going to take 5 or more sessions. We would space them a week apart, so we could get a good feel for the stability of our changes.

 
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