When they reached the lab, Klinas jumped into the work taking up three terminals at a time, programming new algorithms for tracking and predicting such a complex signal. He was delighted at the chance to show his scientific prowess. Michaels, on the other hand was very stiff, and kept staring at Klinas as he worked. After 2 hours, Klinas stopped and got up to make some coffee. Michaels followed him to the staff lounge.
“This is perfect!” The Major chimed.
“I’m worried.” Michaels said simply. Klinas looked over at him. “That’s why this is perfect. If you prove to me that what you think is true, I will inform The General that this capture attempt is utterly impossible.”
“You would do such a thing?” Michaels asked.
“I may not have been on the frontlines during The War, but I was here. You know the state of things today. There’s been barely any reconstruction. We can’t survive another War. If there’s even the remote possibility to your hypothesis, I must consider it.”
“In that case, I’ll leave you for now. When your shift ends, access the Archive. ‘Pretense’ is the file.” Michaels said, and turned and started towards the door.
“Wait! What is it?” Klinas asked as Michaels was leaving.
“Personal.” Michaels said simply as the door to the lab closed behind him.
“Peculiar man…” but he was already losing himself in subspace and space-time equations. He had a lot of work to do.
“Well, back to it I suppose.” He turned back to the main lab a pot of coffee in his hand.
Back at the Command and Control Centre, The General ordered three fleet carriers to Achilles Black hole, in the Ares Sector.
* * *
Equations still swarmed his head when he got back to his living quarters. He was staring off into his own world when he felt a pair of hands grab at his pants.
“Dad!!” The boy jumped into Klinas’ arms. The man laughed slightly and hoisted him up on his shoulders. He grunted with the effort.
“You’re getting too big for this, Dante!” He protested, carrying the 12 year old around the apartment. They walked into the living room and Klinas plopped his son down on the couch. Dante bounced excitedly.
“What are we going to do tonight, Dad?” His excitement was bubbling.
“I’m sorry, son. But tonight I cannot.” His son’s face fell immediately. He could not help but wince at the sight. He loved his son very much and hated to disappoint him.
“How about I order some noodles? We can have a good discussion over supper.” Klinas tried, hoping his son’s thirst for debate was strong today. Dante’s face was still sullen, but he nodded in agreement.
“Can we talk about why there was no outside today, even thought the clouds made it dark?”
“Of course we can!” He reached down and hugged his son, and then ruffled his hair, “Until supper then, young one!” He turned towards his study and Dante went to the kitchen to make his father some coffee. Major Klinas turned on the terminal and accessed The War Archive and did a search for ‘Pretense.’ Immediately he was presented with a security notification, top level secured. What the blazes? He thought. Text filled the screen before moving to an index page.
“File PRETENSE, Access granted for Major Klinas, Duncan A.” The computer reported.
“Alright, let us see what all the commotion is about!” He pressed play and he selected a date near the end of The War. The screen displayed a battle report from then Lieutenant Michaels about a past battle. An audio log played as well. It was Michaels.
“I have never seen so many afraid for their lives. We survived, just barely. Though some that did, I fear only their bodies survived. Something… it’s like something has eaten the hope from their—“
“Stop. Index.” Klinas ordered. The audio stopped playing and displayed the choices again. Dante walked in with a pot of coffee and a mug. He placed them on the table adjacent to his father’s desk and turned.
“Can I see?” Dante asked, looking at the monitor.
“I don’t think that’s a wise course of action at the moment. This is classified records. You wouldn’t want me to get reprimanded, would you?” His son sighed.
“No, you know that. Well, just remember about supper, okay? You said noodles and explanation!” he reminded his father. Klinas reached over to the terminal and set an alarm.
“There, now I can’t forget.” He smiled at his son, as the boy turned to leave. My, but he’s inquisitive! He gets it from me. The smile was still on his face as his son slide the door closed. Klinas turned his attention back to the Pretense files and looked at the index again. Where to begin… Michaels said he was on the frontlines. He skimmed the index and found an entry a few days before the first ground sortie. Many thoughts shared his mind. What would he find? Is there any evidence of what Michael’s said, or was he a functioning trauma victim? He got up and poured himself a cup of the steaming coffee and sat back down. Interesting choice in title, He thought, as his finger hovered over the play button. He pressed it, and the archive loaded up the corresponding file. Five days before The Battle of Sayne.