The Science of Never Again (Chronicle)
The explosions were so powerful that the boy could feel them resonate in his chest. All around him people ran, some screaming, others offering assistance to those struck down as they tried to flee. Encircling him was the burning debris of shattered buildings as the skies continued to rain down fire and destruction. No matter how hard he willed himself to run faster, his legs became more and more sluggish, as if running neck-deep in water. Every single step forward seemed to take him several steps back. It was as if the universe was taunting him, diabolically laughing while conspiring against his will. His desperation reached a fevered pitch as he continued to struggle forward. The hell from above had claimed so many already; he had to reach his parents before the sky lashed out and took them as well.
The heat was searing, ruthless, yet onwards the boy ran, up the steps and into the home where all the memories of a truly happy childhood are, towards the center of every child’s universe: His very own beloved parents. The child was so terrified, he had to warn them of the danger, to tell them they had to leave, that death was everywhere and coming for them, but the words wouldn’t come out of his mouth. There they stood, the two of them, reaching out cheerfully as they always did when he came home from school, as if completely blind to the terror around them, to the fire inside of their home, to the flames now licking at their feet.
He wanted to leap towards them but lacked the strength. His legs were suddenly incapable of any movement at all, unwilling to obey his desperation. And so this child watched his parents writhe in agony, screaming in pain as they burned, as everything else in his world had burned, and he opened his mouth to scream in horror.
“Monsieur…” A woman’s voice called to him through the fire, from somewhere above him, away from the blackened silhouettes engulfed in flames, the very image that had destroyed the innocence of this child forever. The instant he looked up, the inferno vanished, and he suddenly found himself beholding the planet Caldari Prime as though in orbit around her, that beautiful pearl resting in the crimson velvet backdrop of the Luminaire system. The boy was with the others who had survived, and they were taking flight from the barbarians who had done this to them, each taking one last look before leaving their home planet forever.
“Trevor, please wake up...” He was pulled violently away from the image, as Caldari Prime shrunk and vanished from view when the transport they were aboard warped away. Trevor awoke with a gasp, his bloodshot eyes bulging, breathing quickly and clearly disoriented.
“Mon dieu, how long have you been having these dreams?” asked Orsetta Lexmoreau, a research agent with the Gallente mega-corporation CreoDron. “This is the second time this week!”
Trevor had fallen asleep while seated in the research lab of the CreoDron factory in Atlulle III. Before arriving, he had gone more than 48 hours without rest. He ran his hand through his hair and down the back of his neck, sore from having been asleep in an awkward position.
He blinked his eyes a few times and took a deep breath before speaking. “How long have I been out for?” He never looked up at Orsetta, who was standing beside him. His eyes began darting back and forth between the dozens of data sheets and the screens on the lab desk in front of him.
“I first noticed you were asleep a little more than 40 minutes ago,” she answered. “ I do not know how long before then.” She sat down beside him and placed her hand gently on his back. She could feel the muscles underneath his shirt tighten up instantly. “Trevor, what happened to you? You shout these terrible things in your sleep, and it frightens me! What pain is this that you suffer so much from?”
She thought she saw his eyes glaze over for just a moment, but then the scowl that she was most familiar with returned. He turned his head slightly to his right, just enough so that his eyes could see her attractive features at the edge of his vision. “Get back to work, Orsetta,” he growled. “Now.”
He turned away and focused once again on the data sheets scattered across the desk. Orsetta had paused for just a moment to glare at him before getting up and leaving his side without saying a word. Trevor followed the sound of her hurried footsteps as they made their way to the lab’s exit. When he heard the door slide close, he leaned forward and rested his elbows on the desk, rubbing the temples of his forehead and closing his eyes again. He knew he didn’t have to be so hard on her, but he had accepted long ago that it was better this way. He forbade himself from allowing any remorse or attachment towards the people he employed, least of all towards those responsible for the pain that Orsetta spoke of.
On paper, Trevor Kekkonen looked like the model CONCORD citizen. He appeared to be just one of countless others taking advantage of the economic opportunities that had emerged since the end of the Gallente-Caldari War. The two states were eager to put the dark memories of those years behind them and forge ahead on the promise of peace and mutual prosperity. Trevor had graduated at the top of his class from the School of Applied Science in Todaki and demonstrated remarkable natural talent for research and science. He overcame the cerebral deficiencies required for effective starship command through the use of cyber implants and eventually qualified to captain both Caldari and Gallente cruiser-class ships. His outstanding combat record against the Gurista and Serpentis pirate organizations earned him high marks with both the Caldari and Gallente governments. And most importantly, he had developed extensive connections with quality personnel from some of the most powerful corporations in both states, including Ishukone, Kaalakiota, CreoDron, and Duvolle Laboratories.
What isn’t found on any of the dossiers written about Trevor Kekkonen is that he had witnessed firsthand the death of his parents during the Gallente surface bombardment of Caldari Prime. He was just 11 years old at the time. He had replayed those horrible moments over and over again in his young, hyper-analytical mind, searching in vain for the unanswerable question of “why”. The transformation of grief to rage took him to the brink of madness. What prevented him—barely—from breaching that fine line was the pursuit of the question “how” instead. In this venture, the answers he was searching for became perfectly clear.
In Trevor’s scarred mind, the notion that a failure of diplomacy had been the cause of the war and ultimately the death of his parents was completely unacceptable. The politics just shouldn’t have mattered in the slightest. Instead, he concluded that the blame lay squarely on the lack of superior technology when it was needed most. Gallente warships had pummeled Caldari Prime cities from orbit uncontested for far too long; had planetary defense been in the forefront of the Caldari technological initiative at the time, things might have been different. Instead, the technology was reactive; it created a punch-for-punch battle of technological advances that could have been avoided. As evident by the fate of Trevor’s parents and hundreds of thousands like them, the Caldari paid a terrible price for their lack of foresight. The Gallente had their orbital bombers; the Caldari answered with single-man fighters. The Gallente countered the fighters with drones; and if not for the Jovian gift of capsule technology, the Caldari might not have been able to muster an effective response at all.
As young Trevor watched the war and its technological innovations evolve into a stalemate, the rage within him grew steadily until the ultimate betrayal that hurled his soul into the abyss for good. The truce that left Caldari Prime—once the home world for millions of Caldari—legally in the hands of the Gallente Federation was the breaking point. Trevor felt that he was orphaned yet again, only this time a resurrection was possible—if only he could raise Caldari technology from the dead.
And so Trevor’s life became a dichotomy of purpose; part missionary, part vigilante, laboring on behalf of the “good” of one race by planning the death of another. The path leading him to the vengeance he craved had two obstacles. First, a detailed understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of both Caldari and Gallente technology--especially with their respective starship engineering methodologies--had to be accomplished. Second, it required bleeding-edge scientific breakthroughs that could ultimately be used to tilt the balance of power forever in favor of the Caldari State. On the first count, Trevor had already succeeded. But it wasn’t until the famous Crielere Research Lab—yet another sickening example of how the Caldari couldn’t push the technology envelope unassisted—had discovered the precious mineral morphite and its extraordinary chemical properties that the possibilities he sought finally began to emerge.
Trevor opened his eyes and scanned the progress of one of those possibilities. The datasheets contained the results of experiments and unfinished theoretical conjectures. He had fallen asleep while reading through some of them, exhausted after days without sleep. Orsetta was one of several research agents from corporations that Trevor had commissioned to assist him in finding the answers he needed. She, like the rest of the research agents under his employ, carried out the bulk of the experiments and research required to test his theories. They were dedicated in their work and brilliant scientists in their own right, but required his constant financial and logistical support to keep up with the workload he imposed on them. And although he realized that science was, by nature, a very methodical process that could never be rushed, his impositions were especially harsh on the Gallente agents under his employ.
He got up slowly to stretch out his legs. Walking over to the window opposite of the lab screens and holoprojectors, he leaned against the frame, watching the station approach warning beacons blink on…and off. There…and gone. Life…and death. Everywhere Trevor looked, the nightmare stared right back him. His only shelter from the demons was in the relentless pursuit of science. Once outside of it, his soul belonged to the ghosts of Caldari Prime.
Never again, he thought. To someday be able to speak those words to the defeated remnants of the Gallente nation that he despised so much was his life’s ambition, and he believed that science would one day grant him his wish. It was all just a matter of time, and he could stand the sleepless nights for as long as it took to get there.
The intercom broke his fixation on the blinking lights outside. “Monsieur, have a look at this, quickly!” It was Orsetta’s voice on the intercom, and there was a hint of excitement in her tone. Accustomed to being instantly agitated just from the sound of her voice, Trevor was about to say something rude when he noticed the lights in the room dim. When he turned away from the window frame, he saw that the holoprojector had been remotely switched on. There before him were a series of three-dimensional images floating over the lab desk, moving rapidly in successive sequence from mathematical equations to subatomic particle diagrams; from molecular compound models to exploded-view engineering drawings of mechanical components; and finally to the animation of those same components converging perfectly with each other to form schematics of the finished product. Performance and statistical information scrolled down along each side of the image. Trevor was shocked.
“This…this is the production compilation?” he asked.
Orsetta was so excited that she was nearly incoherent. “The containment issues were all solved, we’ve overcome the stability problems inherent with using morphite-based alloys and found a suitable quantum solution to the mesoscopic issues caused by placing nanosensors within the alloy shell to monitor…”
“Is..this..the..production..compilation?” Trevor interrupted, exaggerating the enunciation of his words. There was pause before the intercom speakers delivered her answer.
“So what took so long? Move on to the next project I outlined already.” Trevor walked through the floating image to the lab desk and switched off the holoprojector. A disc ejected from the lab table console containing the compiled blueprint information. He slipped it inside the jacket he’d brought and started gathering the rest of his things. It was time to leave and check on the progress of his other research agents.
The lab door hissed open and Orsetta walked into the room. She stood with her arms folded and stared at Trevor with a concerned expression on her face. He continued his preparations without looking at her.
“You have more work that you should be attending to,” he muttered.
“I cannot help but ask,” she started carefully. “What do you plan to do with those blueprints?”
Trevor paused for just a moment before answering.
“You’ll find out soon enough.”