Limits of the Possible
by Helen H.
...A WHN for “The Sky is Falling”
think that will be all for now, Commander Crane.
We appreciate your cooperation.”
“You haven't believed a word I've said so I
don't know how much you think I've cooperated!
In fact, I consider this whole day a complete waste of time.
You've asked endless questions, made endless notes and then
implied that it’s all a figment of my imagination.
I know what I saw. As far as I'm
concerned you can go to hell.”
man in the nondescript grey suit stopped stuffing his briefcase and
studied Lee Crane, a raised eyebrow the only visible response to Lee’s
words. “I’m surprised at
you, Commander. Debriefing
is part of any mission. You
of all people should know that.” He
picked up the notebook from the desk in front of him and shoved it into
the case. “I’m sorry you
feel this was more intrusive than usual.
It isn’t often the FBI is called in to discuss aliens.”
shifted in his seat, uncomfortably aware of the straight back wooden
chair. Everything in the
room was uncomfortable; the chair, the windowless walls, the drab green
paint and scuffed linoleum floor. The
one thing he could admire was that it was the perfect space for an
crossed his arms and stared at the FBI agent speculatively.
sure you can. Actually, your
admiral told us all we wanted to know for now.”
The briefcase snapped shut. “If
my superiors have any further questions
we know where to reach you.”
sure you do,” Lee snapped,
standing up. “I
hope never to see you again, Agent Langley.”
shrugged. “Comes with the
picked up his hat and opened the door.
“Good afternoon, Commander.”
waited until he’d heard Langley’s footsteps fade away before leaving
the room himself. Their
“meeting” had taken place in a small office building, and he walked
down a deserted corridor to the outside door, pushing it open, gratified
to find that it was still light out.
He hadn’t wanted to give the FBI agent the satisfaction of
watching him glance at his watch, and consequently had no idea of the
time. Lee took
a deep breath of clean air and looked around, getting his
were at China Lake, more formally known as the Naval Ordnance Test
Station, informally as a godforsaken place in the middle of nowhere.
Why he and the admiral had been brought to this place he could
only guess, but he thought his guess was a good one -- there were whispered
rumblings throughout the Navy that here in the far reaches of the Mojave
Desert experimental weapons systems were tested.
Not that he’d seen anything in the short trip from the
airstrip; the place was bottled up tight, the buildings identified only
with numbers, nondescript warehouses surrounded by barbed wire and faced
with blacked out windows. For
someone with as healthy an imagination as Lee Crane, combined with the
natural suspicion arising from his ONI training, it was obvious there
were mysteries here. The
crew of the Seaview knew what
it was to encounter things outside the realm of the everyday.
Wasn’t that what he had spent the whole day talking about?
hot desert daylight was giving way to a cool evening, fueled by winds
whipped up from the surrounding sands, the force of the wind indifferent
to the isolated structures in this particular part of the base.
A few miles away was the C-130 they’d flown in on.
How was he going to get there?
And where was the admiral? They’d
questioned them separately, of course.
Lee smiled wryly to himself.
First rule of interrogation -- get your suspects apart, then find
out if their stories match up. Admiral
Tobin had been brought in, too. Lord
knows what he had said to them.
There wouldn’t have been much for him to tell.
Not that he didn't have
plenty of opinions on how to deal with the situation, Lee knew,
recalling the heated confrontations with the irate officer.
What he’d told anybody would be missing one key component; he
hadn’t made the trip to the spacecraft and seen its occupant.
had been the stumbling block for Lee; explaining that what he had seen
was essentially a replica
of himself. The truth it all
was, as incredible as it seemed, and delivered to a supercilious FBI
agent. No ONI, not this
time. They must be fuming,
being outmanoeuvred somehow. Inter-department
politics at the highest level, no doubt.
That discussion between the bosses of both agencies must have
been a doozy, Lee figured. Nor
would the boat’s logs be able to explain the
encounter in any better detail, not only because of the fantastic
aspects of the story but because “Official Naval Correspondence” had
little latitude for it. When
the FBI had shown up at the Institute one agent had been left behind to
check the logs and interview the crewmembers.
Chip’s reaction to that brought another smile to Lee’s face.
There wasn’t a piece of paperwork on Seaview
that didn’t bear the Exec’s stamp of approval, the logs especially.
The agent would feel Chip’s wrath if so much as a corner of a
page was crinkled. Nor would
he allow the crew to be bullied.
looked around at the seemingly deserted buildings.
It was a few minutes past normal quitting time.
The place cleared out fast. Somewhere,
he figured, there had to be a quarterdeck with a watch or a building
with civilian security. He
was deciding whether to try his luck port or starboard when a dark sedan
turned the corner, came down the street and stopped at the end of the
young man, dressed for the heat in Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts and
sandals, stepped out of the car and looked over at Lee.
I’m late, Commander. First
stop took a few extra minutes. Time
to get out of the heat, sir. Get
wasted no time making his way to the car.
He was about to jump in when a familiar voice issued from inside.
glad you’re here, Lee. This
is the goddamnest situation I’ve ever found myself in!”
waited until Lee sat down on the jump seat and then spoke.
Or rather, barked out an order.
“We want out of here now, young man.
I want on that plane in five minutes.”
“Aye, aye sir, err, sirs,”
the brash young man
replied cheerfully as he pulled
away from the curb and headed out across the base to the airstrip.
sat back in the seat, his fingers tapping out an impatient drumbeat on
his trousers. “Well, Lee,
what did you make of all that? Damn
fool waste of time. I got
the impression they didn’t believe a word I said!
As if I’d make up a story about seeing an alien aboard a
spacecraft that had been tracked from outer space -- Tobin was a
witness to everything, too, damn it!
Preposterous fool he may be, but he can’t say he doesn’t know
what went on!”
held a finger to his lips and jerked his head toward the front seat of
the car. Nelson looked less than pleased to be gagged
but ducked his head and nodded back.
They made the rest of the trip in silence, both men agitated,
impatient to be gone.
car turned in a wide
circle and slid quietly to a stop
beside the steps of the plane.
Their driver got out, adding superfluously, “Okay, here you
Both men alighted and with one last look around
quickly mounted the stairway to disappear inside.
They were met just inside the cabin by the co-pilot, who directed
them to seats. They sat down
beside each other and remained silent until the door was swung shut and
the co-pilot went forward to the flight deck.
“Thank goodness that's all over!” sighed
Nelson as he removed his cover and settled back.
“The sooner we get back on Seaview
the better I'll feel.”
Lee nodded his heartfelt agreement.
“I know what interrogations are like.
I’ve conducted plenty of ‘em myself.
But this one... a nice sea voyage monitoring whale populations
sounds like the perfect antidote to today's cloak and dagger
Nelson laughed. “It does indeed!
That's one thing about the service that I've never been happy
with. I understand the need
for security, but… Lee, what's the matter?”
Crane was only half listening to his boss, his
attention split with the less than reassuring sounds from the engines
“I somehow don't think we’re going anywhere
soon, Admiral, that engine isn't firing,” Lee answered as he looked
past his companion to the wing.
Nelson turned to the window and to the sputtering
attempts of the port engine to start.
A few seconds went by, and then with a huge backfire and a cloud
of black smoke, the engine fell silent.
The cockpit door opened and an embarrassed pilot
walked towards them.
“Sorry, Admiral, we seem to have a problem.
We’ve notified the tower and they’re sending a maintenance
crew over. I'm going to go
check on it right now. I’ll
be back with a report in a few minutes.”
He wrestled the door open and waved for the steps to be replaced.
Nelson slapped his hand on the chair arm and
grumbled dark threats to himself while Lee got up and followed the
A jeep filled with what were probably the aviation
repair techs was rapidly coming across the tarmac.
Coasting to a stop beside the plane, they took one look at the
lifeless engine and began an animated conversation with the pilot.
One of the men jumped back in the jeep and tore off across the
asphalt. Lee caught the
words “truck” and “scissors lift.”
None of it boded well for their getting off the base anytime
“Why is this plane still on my base?” An angry
voiced loomed out of the growing gloom.
“I want it out of here NOW!”
Everyone's attention was now concentrated on the
sturdy officer striding toward them.
The pilot snapped to attention as he offered a salute.
“Sorry, Captain Harbiton!
Didn’t see you there. We
have a problem with the port engine, sir.”
officer was not pleased and looked around for someone to vent his anger
on. He spied Lee and rounded
“Who are you?”
“Commander Lee Crane, Captain of the Seaview,”
Lee replied calmly under the withering gaze.
What the hell are you doing on my base? Are
you part of the secret meetings going on around here today?”
“We are indeed, Captain, and we’re just as
anxious as you to get off your
Everyone snapped their attention to the top of the
steps to see an equally angry Admiral, hands on hips, glaring down at
the assembled officers and crew.
He started to descend and came to a halt in front of the newly
“And you are?” he enquired caustically.
Taken aback by such obvious confrontation the man
wilted a little. “I'm
Captain Earl Harbiton. I’m
head of Base Security.”
Nelson held out his hand and smiled disarmingly.
“Captain Harbiton. I'm
Admiral Harriman Nelson, owner of the Seaview.”
“Owner of the Seaview....”
Harbiton appeared out of sync and went on the attack.
“I don't care if you own a fleet, Admiral Nelson!
Agent Langley assured me when he left that all unauthorised
personnel would be gone, too. He
was obviously wrong about that! This
is a highly secret base and you have no business still being here!”
Top Secret clearance trumps anything you’d be able to conjure up,
Harbiton!” Nelson replied
gruffly. He'd met uptight,
anally retentive officers before and found the ones with a little empire
to protect were the worst. “Be
that as it may, we wouldn't be here if your crew could get this aircraft
airborne!” he added, gesturing at the engine, which was now dripping a
The pilot took up the conversation, explaining the
problem. It was obvious
there was more waiting to be done.
Rubbing his ear, trying to keep his voice calm,
Nelson said, “Perhaps Commander Crane and I could repair to your
office or somewhere more comfortable to wait?”
Harbiton immediately bristled and drew himself up.
“No sir! I can't
allow you to wander freely around this base!
If you would just get back on the plane and wait, Admiral, I'm
sure my men can fix this problem and get you on your way.”
“Captain Harbiton?” the pilot interrupted.
“Maybe they could be taken to the ‘O’ Club, sir.
It’s not far away.” He
had seen Nelson's mounting fury and wanted to diffuse what was becoming
a volatile confrontation. “I
could arrange for their car to return, sir, and assign a two man guard
to escort them. I’ll get
on the radio right away.”
Harbiton didn't look placated by the suggestion
but appreciating the young pilot's efforts, Nelson jumped in.
“That sounds like a very reasonable compromise, Captain,
wouldn’t you agree?”
Harbiton scowled at being outmanoeuvred but
sullenly acquiesced. In a
couple of minutes Lee and the admiral were in the back of their
transport and being whisked away.
“What’s your connection with all of this,
young man?” Nelson asked as he saw it was their previous driver, still
dressed like an extra from a Hawaiian movie.
“Who sir? Me,
sir? No connection, sir.
I'm just a go-fer around here.
The name's Charlie by the way. I
got the contract to be the transport driver an’ here I am.
Not many jobs out in town. The
dough's good and it suits me.”
Lee laughed. “I somehow didn't think Captain
Harbiton would allow any member of his staff to dress this casually,
Their driver made an amused snort. “Isn’t that
guy uptight or what? He’s
new around here, probably thinks he needs to throw his weight around.
He doesn’t much like me but I stay out of his way mostly and we
get along. Don’t be
surprised if he’s sent somebody along to the club to make sure we get
there,” he said, laughing again. “We’re
only a few minutes away, so just sit back and enjoy the scenery.
That’s the Coso Range,
over to our left,” he said, waving a hand out the window.
“They’re kind of pretty but you ain't going to get the best
view at this time of the day.”
They sped along in silence and soon stopped in front of a one-story building. The veranda’s banner proclaimed it as the Officer’s Club. The building was pleasant looking enough, red brick, white shutters, green lawn kept neat by whatever maintenance men they employed on the base. There were a couple of cars in the parking lot but like the rest of the base, there was no activity outside.
man was thinking about how well the building was kept up, or how
attractive it was. To Nelson
and Crane this was somewhere they definitely did not want to be but circumstances had decreed otherwise.
It was disquieting, this under-populated place with its wide-open
spaces and giant buildings. Their
faces reflected their displeasure, and their driver, as he opened the
back door of the sedan, couldn’t have missed it.
His jaunty attitude didn’t change.
right on in, sirs. Cold beer
and peanuts. Bartender’s a
sweetie. His name’s Joe.
Best kind of bartender there is -- he’s practically blind and
can’t hear a damn thing. You’ll
be fine. Once the plane’s
fixed I’ll be back.”
Two white-uniformed guards came forward and
watched the car as the two officers inside watched them.
“Harbiton's watch dogs,” Lee said.
suppose there’s nothing we can do about it,” Nelson answered with resignation.
just snorted. “Not unless
you’d like to start walking in 90 degree heat.
And this place being what it is, you’d be picked up in about
five seconds flat.”
all the while, he watched as they got out of the car.
Then, with a wave he got back in and drove off, leaving the two Seaview
officers to make their way into the Club followed
closely but not intrusively by the MPs.
place was practically deserted. Only
a couple of other customers, owners of the cars outside probably, were
sitting at separate tables nursing drinks.
One of them, a ruddy faced individual with a tall stock of blonde
hair was studying a newspaper while
the other was engrossed in a baseball game showing on the small black
and white television. Joe
was standing behind the bar polishing glasses.
He looked up, grinned and immediately pulled two beers.
of the house, sirs. Charlie
said you’d be needing a drink. I’ll
bring ‘em over to the table when you’ve picked one out.
I recommend the one closest to the window.
It’s got a great view of the--“
know, the Coso Range,” Nelson interrupted, biting his words, showing
his irritation as both officers
made their way to the table.
“Didn’t know the mountains around here were such a tourist
not,” said Joe as he followed
them over. “No
tourists allowed here, as I’m sure you’ve figured out.
At least they’re something to look at that’s better than sand
and sagebrush.” He placed
the beers on the table along with a bowl of peanuts.
waited until the bartender walked away, and then picked up the beer.
“Enough of these and maybe even the Coso Range will look
good,” he quipped, loosening his tie and staring out the window, where
twilight was coating the tops of the mountains with a purple tint.
Nelson looked up at the two MPs as they placed
themselves within an arm’s distance and assumed the stone-faced attitude of concrete pillars. Pinning
them with an eye piercing gaze, he said, “Gentlemen, I'm sure Captain
Harbiton would be equally satisfied with his security if you watched us
from the bar area. I assure
you we do not intend to escape from your protection by jumping
through a plate glass window!”
The two guards flicked glances at each other and
did a quick recon of the immediate area before one of them tilted his
head to his companion and they moved out of earshot.
* * * *
beer was tolerable, and they spent the next half hour discussing
everything except what they’d been doing for the last several hours.
Neither man, it seemed, wanted to explain what he’d gone
know what I saw....” Lee mused, and then realized he had spoken aloud when Nelson leaned
saw your face. Just like I
saw your face? Then...”
never likely to know what the alien really looked like, Lee.
Perhaps it’s better that way,” Nelson said, a tiny smile
coming to his lips. “You
know, he told me, ‘I have assumed the appearance of the one creature
that could not possibly offend you.’
I’m still undecided as to whether I consider that statement
true or not,” blue eyes narrowing as the laughter bubbled just
underneath the surface.
gathered his thoughts, jaw working, still wondering if what he had seen
had to look around -- the place was empty when I got there.
The interior of the spacecraft was lit up with bolts of energy
captured in thin electrical tubing, spaced neatly around the perimeter.
There were control surfaces, but I have no idea what their
purpose was. Fascinating!
If only I’d had time to examine it all!
I called out into the void and someone -- something, answered.
‘I’ showed up. An
exact duplicate of me, at least my facial features, in a silver
spacesuit. Have ‘they’
been watching our so-called
sci-fi movies, the ones that exploit our obsession with the unknown,
while recognizing our fear and fascination for the mysteries of outer
they attempting to sort out our defensive capabilities while determining
our capability to assist with their repairs?
Unfortunately we have no way of knowing.
And I very much doubt that they’ll be back.”
Nelson picked up his glass and drew it to his lips.
“I told this all to my interrogator.
He appeared to be unconvinced.”
part of the job description, sir.”
Lee lifted his beer and, musing, said, “I wonder what Tobin
‘self-appointed savior’? He’ll
tell them that it was only through his efforts that the whole world
survived. And he’ll never
mention your part in it; locking the door on him was genius.
‘Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the
probable, your own observation of what is passing around you.’
Jane Austen wrote that, in Northanger
Abbey. It’s as true
now as it was then. If they
won’t take our word for it....” Nelson shrugged and took a drink.
couldn’t care less if they believed me or not,” Lee said grimly.
“I’m just glad we got out of there in one piece.”
He looked beyond the admiral’s shoulder and raised his chin.
“Speaking of self-appointed saviors... our cab driver is
Charlie bounced into the room with his usual
to go, sirs. Plane’s all
fixed and the car’s out front. I’ll
just settle with Joe here and we’ll have you in Santa Barbara in two
and the admiral wasted no time in getting up and heading for the door,
first thanking Joe for his hospitality and allowing their watchdogs to
escort them out.
stopped at the bar. “Got
the chit for me, Joe?” he said in a bright, cheery tone.
The moment the door closed behind Lee and the admiral the goofy,
devil-may-care look on Charlie’s face disappeared.
Frowning, flinty-eyed, he said in a rasping monotone, “Did you
got it,” Joe answered, pulling back a drawer below the bar and showing
off an elaborate set of recording equipment.
they say anything they didn’t tell us in the interviews?”
sir. They avoided talking
about it for a while, and then Crane mentioned that the alien had looked
like him. Nelson talked
about the inside of the spacecraft, but that’s about it.
Same as they said in the interviews.”
jaw tightened. “Damn.
We’d hoped for something more.
They didn’t have much to say in the car, either.
Crane takes his ONI training to heart.
Wouldn’t mind having him in my office.”
think he’d like it much,
Joe thought to himself, and then brought himself back to the present.
“They were more like explaining what they saw to themselves, sir, more than
anything else. Was all
pretty straightforward to me. They
saw an alien, but he -- it -- must have had some sort of mask on, from
the sound of it. Maybe some
sort of mind control. That
clinches it as far as I’m concerned, sir.
It had to have been an alien spacecraft.
You know that NORAD lost it as it went above the atmosphere.
No way did it end up somewhere amongst our friends in the east.
Nelson and Crane are telling the truth.”
Atkinson, you two hear the same thing?” Charlie asked as the two men
got up from their seats and approached the bar.
They nodded in agreement. The
blonde-haired one took the newspaper from under his arm and handed it to
equipment functioned perfectly, sir.
I just checked it, and didn’t hear anything different from
Agent Samuels here,” he said, indicating the bartender.
“Apparently the alien could change his appearance at will --
first Nelson’s and then Crane’s.
A pretty neat trick,” he commented, laughing, and then saw the
look on his superior’s face. “Uh,
I got it all down in there, sir.”
Well, seems like we’ll have to accept their story.
Best thing, I guess. What
we do not need is the communists running around in fake flying machines.
Even aliens are better than that.
Thanks for your reports, gentlemen.
Agent Samuels, I’ll be back with the car as soon as I can and
we’ll pack everything up and head back to Los Angeles.”
by me, Charlie. Eh, sir.”
* * * *
and Crane wasted no time getting back to the car, knowing they’d have
no time to talk about anything important until they were well on their
way home. Nelson noted that the two guards waited at the bottom of the sidewalk watching
them, but making no attempt to hustle them away. He
caught Lee's eye. He
had one thing he needed to say,
though, before they got in.
thinking like me, Lee?” he
murmured softly. “That
the bartender recorded every minute of our conversation in there?”
Admiral. Without a doubt.
And so did those other two guys in the place.
And not for a minute do I think that our boy Charlie is just a
simple taxi driver.”
they really think we’re that stupid?”
can’t say that I know what they think, sir.
There are days I have my doubts even about ONI.”
startled, glanced obliquely at Lee.
He hadn’t yet found a sure-fire way to get Lee out of the
clutches of the Office of Naval Intelligence.
He’d keep this moment as a reference, and use it if he ever had
it would be a good idea to discuss the weather while we’re in the
two men stared at each other, not needing words to indicate they were in
day for a little flying, wouldn’t you say, sir?”
* * * *
Captain, welcome back. How
did everything go?” Seaview's
XO smiled his greeting as his senior officers descended into the control
Nelson heaved a big sigh as he scanned the space.
“Let's just say it's good to be home.”
was a trial in more ways than one, Chip,” Lee answered as he clapped
his friend on the shoulder. “Thanks
for sticking around. Everything
repairs have been completed. Agent
Compton spent hours going through the logs, interviewing myself and some
of the men. He didn't look
too happy as he was escorted ashore,” Chip replied sardonically.
Lee, said, “I'll just bet he wasn't.”
take this to my quarters, gentlemen, I feel in need of a drink,”
Nelson invited as he ascended the spiral staircase to
in chairs, the three officers exchanged remembrances and experiences of
the last mission as well as the recent debriefing interviews.
like they were giving you both the third degree,” Chip murmured
certainly answered questions for several hours but the delay was due to
a misfiring engine on our transport,” Nelson said.
the time in an 'O' Club that passed for a mausoleum!” Lee
groaned. “And the whole
place was bugged. The plane
acting up was also staged for our benefit, I’m sure.
Didn’t do them any good. There
was nothing more to tell.”
all the time being watched by two MPs, or should I say, guard dogs,”
Nelson added, grinning.
Chip's obvious curiosity Lee and the admiral explained all that had
happened to them.
Harbiton? Not a name that I'm familiar with.
Had either of you met him before?”
and I can't say it will be a pleasure to do so again.
The man was positively paranoid!” Nelson said as he poured
himself another two fingers of Scotch. “I don't know where the Navy
gets these bellow and bluster officers; it was never an attitude I
encouraged.” And settled back in comfort to savor his drink,
completely missing the quickly swallowed looks of astonishment on the
faces of his junior officers and friends.
* * * *
in the Mojave Desert another debriefing was taking place.
Charlie, did my performance meet your expectations?” a quiet,
well-moderated voice asked.
and surpassed, Zimor. Your
studies of our race have been well observed.
I believe that Captain
Harbiton convinced our guests as well.
It’s nice when a little experiment goes the way it’s supposed
you, Charlie. I have spent
many hours accustoming myself to your planet.
It is pleasing that my efforts have been satisfactory.”
nodded and studied the reports in front of him.
“Nelson and Crane didn’t suspect anything, that’s for sure.
Not about you, anyway,” he said, a rueful chuckle emerging from
his mouth. “Don’t think
we fooled ‘em much, Crane especially.
But their conversation in the club confirmed that they didn't
actually get to meet the real alien,” he added, and then made a
furtive glance at the other being in the room.
am not offended by that term, Charlie.
You need not be concerned using the description.
To you and to this planet, I am indeed an alien.”
raspy voice grew a little more animated.
“But on our side, that's what makes the difference, Zimor.
You're on our side!”
hairless, smooth skinned individual sitting across the desk from the
special agent smiled through thin lips and his large grey eyes seemed to
shine. “Indeed. I have
found my crash landing highly fortuitous.
You have warned me many times of the perils others on your planet
would visit on me.”
right, my friend. Just keep
remembering that. Now, these
aliens who paid us a visit, d'ya think they were from your
“I do not know, Charlie. It is possible they were Sheken.”
is a faction on my planet. They
are also seekers of knowledge. Their purpose is to search universes and
explore other species. They
are not conquerors, merely questors.”
if they really did have problems with their ship would they have used
the tactics they did to fool Nelson and Crane?”
They do not apply force. Their
ability to shape shift is one shared by us all. They would not
have wanted to risk contamination within the minds of Admiral Nelson and
see. So they could be
visiting on a regular basis?” Agent Charlie Terrell was suddenly not a
happy man. “Is there any
way you could contact them?”
seemed to tense although his face remained completely neutral.
“That would be difficult.” He stood, very tall and fluid
limbed. “I would have to explain my presence here.
Such interaction as I have participated in would not be
countenanced by my race. They
would send retrievers to extract me.
Is this what you would wish?”
rose slowly to his feet. “No,
not at all. You are too
valuable to us to let you go. Forget
what I said.” Rubbing his
hands together, he added, “We’ve got another job for you, a little
visit to Moscow. Always like
to make sure our Russian friends are doing exactly what we think they
are. It’s like this...”
* * * *
weeks had passed and the voyage was going well when Mr. Morton received
a private communiqué. He
read it and frowned.
to stand beside Lee he kept his voice low as he spoke.
“Skipper, you know that captain you spoke of -- the 'shoot
first, ask questions later' guy?”
Out on the Mojave airbase you mean?”
Captain Harbiton. Well, I
sent an enquiry through a friend of mine at the Pentagon and he just got
back to me.” Chip picked
up the paper and read the words.
such officer in records under that name.”
took the proffered radio message and read it again.
Frowning, he said, “And I thought ONI was bad with all its
machinations. What the hell
is going on out there?”
you really want to know?”
not this time, Chip.”
Second Law: “The only way of discovering the limits of the
to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”
C. Clarke, "Hazards
of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination" in Profiles of the
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