June 2006 Archives
The Standard Contract
By Douglas E Gogerty
Jim did not know too many members of the faculty at the law school, but he could not think of a better place to go for advice. He asked several of the faculty that he did know, and they all recommended that he meet with contractual law professor Mortimer Kenisser. Dr. Kenisser had been teaching law for 35 years, and he was friendly with several members of faculty. He had been very active in university business and had made several acquaintances along the way. Moreover, he loved his job. He had several offers to become the dean of several law schools, but he was very content with his current position. He was popular with students and staff equally. Most importantly for Jim, he was willing to consult with him on this contract.
Jim, brief case in hand, walked into Dr. Kenisser’s office. The two men exchanged greetings. "Sit down Jim," Dr. Kenisser said, "I will be with you in a moment."
Jim sat in one of the over stuffed chairs in front of Dr. Kenisser’s desk. Dr. Kenisser was grading student papers, and while he finished grading a student’s paper, Jim just looked around the room. He could not help but notice how neat Dr. Kenisser kept his office. Everything seemed to have a place. Even the pile of ungraded papers was stacked neatly in a pile, which was right next to a neatly stacked pile of graded papers. The graded paper that Jim could see had numerous red ink marks on it. Dr Kenisser made all the marks neatly in the spaces of the double spaced student’s paper. Dr. Kenisser wrote a few last notes on the paper he was grading and sat it neatly on the graded stack. "Well," Dr. Kenisser begins, "I understand you have a contract that you would like me to look over."
"Yes, here it is," Jim replied as he took the contract out of his brief case. "I have never dealt with the government in this manner before."
"No reason you should," responded the professor. "Your invention must be very important. Normally, the government would not get involved. They would let the private sector take care of it. They obviously do not want this technology to get into the hands of just anybody."
"I suppose that is true, but I would still like to perform my research. Is that possible under this contract?" inquired Jim.
"There is no mention of existing experimental technology. It only mentions further construction of these experimental devices," responded Dr. Kenisser.
"Would I be able to construct any additional devices?" inquired Jim.
"Not under this contract. You would probably be able to negotiate that matter. You should also be aware that if you sign this contract, you would have to cooperate with the governmental contractor in the design and construction of these devices. This may detract from your research and possibly teaching responsibilities."
"I hadn’t thought of that," admitted Jim. "Does it say what type of work I would have to do?"
"It isn’t that specific. You would likely have to do some consulting. They would bring you design plans and the like, and have you look them over. This is usually how this is done," explained the knowledgeable professor.
"Would that type of thing be negotiable?" continued Jim.
"Yes and no," responded Dr. Kenisser. "You see, the university has all rights to your research. The only way you can be rewarded for your efforts would be to act as a consultant. Otherwise, the university would be the only benefactor of this contract. This is a often used loop hole in the standard university contract. I suggest that you take advantage of this."
"Money is of little importance, but they probably would not be able to construct any useful device without me," inserted Jim. "Patents are one thing, but to actually know exactly how to put something together is quite different. Do you have any further recommendations?"
"No it is pretty standard. If you would like to construct additional devices, you should amend this contract. Otherwise, there is not anything out of the ordinary. The university and your department will do very well under this contract."
"I greatly appreciate your time," Jim said.
The two men shook hands, and Jim thanked Dr. Kenisser again. He placed the contract in his brief case and headed back to his office.
The government contractor who gave him the contract had said he has had several university professors work with his company. Thus, this would not be a new experience for them. The contractor was true to his word, and the contract was standard for this type of work. In addition, the university and his department would be compensated for Jim’s work. Thus, it appeared to be a win for everyone.
However, Jim did not like the fact that he could only work with his current designed time viewing device. How could he make improvements if I could not build new devices? "Ugh! I should have asked Dr. Kenisser about that," John grumbled to himself.
Everything was indicating that he should sign the contract. After all, what was the worst thing that could happen? He would always have his current device, and he could continue to do his current research projects.
Mac MacKinnon and the Race for El Dorado
Chapter 6: The Looters and the Fight
By Dwayne MacInnes
Mac and Dan quickly descended from the cave and ran towards the camp. The sun was starting to sink below the western horizon. In the orange twilight, the two were able to make out the shape of a truck near the camp. There were some men rushing to load it with their spoils taken from the camp.
Mac slowed down to a trot next to Dan. Both men had their weapons drawn and ready for service.
"We haven't been noticed yet. If we hurry, we may be able to catch them by surprise," Mac said in Dan's ear. Dan nodded in agreement. After all these years together and the many adventures they had been through during and after the war, they could practically read each other's mind.
Dan peeled off from Mac at the outskirts of the small camp and headed towards the truck. Mac stealthily moved around the opposite side of the camp to try to catch the intruders by surprise. So far, the looters, who were too engrossed in their work, detected neither man.
Mac could make out snatches of German as the men talked to each other as they lifted the stone map into the back of the pick-up truck. A quick glance toward the front of the truck showed that Dan was nearly in position. Mac started walking up behind the closest intruder. The man was struggling to lift the stone into the back of the truck so he did not notice Mac sneaking up on him until Mac inadvertently stepped onto a twig.
Snapping twig was enough to cause the man to drop the stone and turn around on Mac so quickly that Mac barely had time to react. Mac raised his automatic up in order to aim it at the man. The looter reacted quickly knocking the gun out of Mac's hand before he could fire the pistol. The looter then rapidly slammed his right hand into Mac's stomach.
Mac doubled over and fell backwards landing on his rear trying to gather his breath. The German just laughed and called to his comrades who were working at gathering all the artifacts that Dr. Strong had accumulated. The other two men ran over towards the truck.
"Look vhat I have found," the German laughed pointing towards Mac.
"Hans don't play vith him. Ve haf vork to do," one of his comrades reminded.
"Ja, but ve can have zee little fun, nein?" Hans asked motioning Mac to stand up.
Mac had sufficiently gathered his breath and pulled his legs up under him. The other two Germans pulled back allowing Hans and Mac ample room for fighting. Hans stood a couple inches taller than Mac and easily had fifty pounds on him. However, Mac had plenty of experience brawling and stuck up his fists in a defensive posture.
Hans came at Mac far quicker than anyone could have thought a man his size could move with a roundhouse punch. Mac anticipated the move and blocked it with his left arm while aiming a blow with his own right hand towards Hans' jaw.
The blow landed squarely and Hans took a couple of steps back shaking his head to clear his mind. Mac knew he could not afford Hans to regain the initiative and followed up with two quick body blows to the German's midriff. The man's abs felt as if they were made of steel.
Hans now fairly recovered from the surprise shot to his jaw quickly pulled Mac into a terrible bear hug. Mac felt his back crack as Hans tightened his grip. Breathing was now nearly impossible for Mac. Mac violently clapped his hands over the German's ears causing him to release his captive.
Mac fell to the ground, swung his legs, and swept the German off his feet. Hans, still holding his ringing ears fell like an ox onto the ground. Mac regained his feet and pulled back waiting for Hans to get back up. So far, the other two Germans had contented themselves with watching the fight. They were yelling encouragement to Hans.
The big German regained his feet and warily eyed Mac. The two pugilists circled each other looking for an opening. Hans finally swung with his right arm toward Mac's head. Mac barely ducked the blow and countered by putting all his strength in a shot to Hans's stomach with his left hand. As the German doubled up Mac delivered another shot with his right hand to Hans's jaw. This time Hans fell unconscious to the ground.
Mac took a couple of seconds to catch his breath; he temporarily forgot about the two other Germans. The sound of the Germans priming their pistols behind him brought him back to the graveness of his situation. Mac raised his hands and turned towards his captors.
Dan came running up behind the Germans tackling both men to the ground. Mac wasted no time in joining in the fight. As the men struggled on the ground, the crack of a pistol shot split the air. Everyone gathered himself up and looked at the source of the shot.
Hans by now had regained his consciousness and stood with a Luger pointed at Mac and Dan. The other two Germans backed away from the two men. Hans instructed his comrades to finish loading the stone in the truck. Mac's mind raced for and idea on how to catch Hans by surprise. So far, nothing was coming to mind.
"I am so sorry. But, I will now have to kill you," Hans said coldly as his leveled the pistol on Mac.
In honor of Flag Day, here is Hank hanging out with some Presidents in South Dakota.
By Douglas E Gogerty
Try as he might, Jim could not negotiate additional devices. The government was not interested in him competing with their production. They would not allow him to make additional machines. Furthermore, they did not even want him to make improvements on his existing machine.
The contractor reminded Dr. Millard that they could make the devices without him. The University owned the patent, and they were including him as a courtesy. They were interested in his expertise, but beyond that, the engineering team could manufacture the time viewing lenses without him. In fact, they could arrange with the university to sue him for copyright infringement if it came down to that.
Signing the contract gave Dr. James Millard an uneasy feeling. While he could see that it would be a useful device in law enforcement, but how else was it going to be used? Apart from solving crimes, did the government have other ideas in mind? He suddenly felt like a conspiracy theorist. However, try as he might he could not shake the ominous feelings that came over him.
Reluctantly, he signed the contract. The government contractor quickly began fabricating prototypes. They intended on mounting the device on video cameras. Thus, they could obtain video of the crimes and any other relevant events they needed. Hence, even if the video would not be admissible in court, they would have a reference. That is, they would know who did it and how. Therefore, they would only need to gather the incriminating evidence.
Jim realized that getting away with crimes was going to be a great deal more difficult once these devices made their way to police departments. He comforted himself that this was a good thing.
After months of consultation, the prototypes were tested. Naturally, they worked exactly as expected. However, the contractor continuously asked Jim for his version. Jim naturally refused. If this was the only device he would ever have, he was going to protect it. He thought that it was strange that they asked for it in the first place.
Eventually, production began and the FBI obtained the devices in large numbers. Long unsolved crimes were finally being resolved. Lots of good was happening because of the time viewing lenses. Still the government contractors asked for Jim's version. Still he refused.
Long-standing controversies were slowly being settled. President Kennedy's assassination, President Garfield's assassination, and the FBI checked a long list of other high profile killings. With each successful case, the government was more convinced that it was a very useful tool. Still the contractors asked for Jim's version, and he still refused.
Dr. Millard was getting increasingly concerned with the request for his device. Contractually, they had no right to it. Jim had never used the device for any purpose other than research. He could not figure out why they wanted to see it.
"Their devices work fine," Jim often mumbled to himself. "What is it about my device?"
Law enforcement agencies were succeeding in convicting criminals at an amazing rate. Unsolved crimes were becoming a thing of the past. Police would take the device into a crime scene and know exactly what happened. The admissibility in court of the videos taken by these devices was beginning to take shape. Still the government asked for his version, and still Jim refused.
Every day Jim felt that he was being followed. He believed the government knew his every move. He felt more paranoid than anyone was. "Just because I'm paranoid," Jim joked with himself. "That does not mean that I am not being followed."
One day, Jim returned to his office to find it strange. He looked around and did not find anything missing. He checked everything twice, and it appeared to be normal. However, he felt something was different. Perhaps it was paranoia, be something was wrong with his office. He triple checked, but nothing was missing.
Jim sat at his desk and returned to his task of determining his next project with the device. If he could get enough power through it, and get it cold enough, perhaps he could see dinosaurs. Maybe it was time to put the device to its limits. "If I destroy the device," Jim thought, "perhaps they would leave me alone."
Jim wandered off in thought and was startled when a knock came on his door. "Come in," he said reflexively.
A beautiful young woman walked through the door. "Are you Dr. James Millard?" she asked.
"I'm Dr. Millard," he responded.
"I'm Candice Millwood, and I've heard a lot of good things about you," she said flirtatiously.
"Please call me Candy!" the gorgeous young woman said with a wink.
"Listen Miss Millwood, I've got a lot of work to do."
"I heard you had a time machine!"
"Rumors miss, just rumors."
"I would love to see it!"
"Wouldn't we all love to see it? Perhaps the government has one it could loan you."
"The government's version is top secret. You have to be a cop. However, your device is just locked up somewhere."
"You know an awful lot about this..."
"I just want to see it," Candy said with a pout.
"You said yourself, it is top secret. If I had such a device, it would be my hide if I showed it to anyone without clearance."
"Oh Man! That is rich! Tell your boss that if he thinks some young Mata Hari can wink and capture me under her spell..."
"Whatever do you mean?"
"You may leave my office now Miss Milkweed."
"I have no time machine, so you're wasting your time and mine."
"I said 'Good Day!'"
Candy turned and left with a pout. Jim felt he passed that test. Then a realization came to him, "I hope they don't think I'm gay now!"
Over the next couple of weeks, Jim would enter a room and feel that it was wrong. It was not every room he entered. It was just a room here and there that felt wrong. He was beginning to chalk it up to paranoia, when he went to check on his device.
There was Candy and an enormous mountain of a man. "Good evening Dr. Millard."
"We come for the time lens," said the mountain.
Mac MacKinnon and the Race for El Dorado
Chapter 7: The Desert Race
By Dwayne MacInnes
Hans smiled as he started to pull the trigger. The other Germans had the stone map loaded in the back of the truck by now. It was amazing how these last few seconds tended to play out as if in slow motion.
Mac and Dan stood there waiting for the end. Both stared at the Luger waiting for the muzzle to discharge their death. A shot shattered the quiet desert air, a shot that did not come from Hans's gun, but by Dr. Strong's Colt. Hans fell over backwards with a bullet to his head his hand spasmodically firing the Luger harmlessly into the sky.
The remaining two Germans wasted no time in jumping into the truck and taking off into the desert. Mac and Dan stood there transfixed still not believing in their last minute reprieve.
Hugo Strong with his daughter trailing behind ran up to the two men. The Colt still smoking from its discharge.
"Quickly," the professor prompted. "They are getting away."
Mac and Dan quickly found their weapons and jumped into the roadster. Mac cursed as the roadster reluctantly turned over. The truck was disappearing into the desert. Nonetheless, it was only a moment before Mac was in pursuit.
The truck had a good lead, but the roadster could quickly catch up with its superior speed. The two parties raced into the night. Dust clouds flying up behind the vehicles.
"What took you so long?" Mac asked Dan as he sped along.
"You had everything well in hand," Dan replied. "Plus, I needed you to distract those other guys so I could sneak up on them."
"Glad I could help," Mac laughed.
The roadster was rapidly closing the distance between the two vehicles. The occasional rock or rut the roadster hit bounced the pair in their seats. But, the two just smiled. This was just another adventure for the two.
It would only be another minute or two and the roadster would be on the truck. Dan quickly checked his Schofield as he readied for the shoot out that would inevitably begin. As if the passenger of the truck had read Dan's mind he leaned out the window and fired off a shot with his Luger.
Dan returned fire at the truck. Mac ducked lower behind the wheel concentrating on catching the truck. The bullets from the German's pistol had so far failed to find their mark. Dan for his part had only succeeded in shooting out the rear window.
Mac pulled the roadster over to the driver's side of the truck. The passenger now had to change his position to fire out the shattered rear window. As the passenger prepared to open fire, Dan took careful aim. The Schofield barked as the last bullet in the cylinder flew from the muzzle and buried itself into the passenger's shoulder. The passenger cursed in German as he dropped the Luger and grabbed his right shoulder.
Mac and Dan exchanged a quick smile as Dan started to climb out of the roadster to jump onto the truck. However, as Dan began to rise from his seat another shot broke over the sound of the racing engines. This report did not come from a gun but instead from the roadsters front passenger's tire.
The roadster pulled violently to the right roughly throwing Dan back into his seat. The yellow roadster barely missed hitting the truck as Mac fought to keep control of the vehicle. The truck sped off into the distance as Mac brought the roadster to a dead stop.
"Damn," cursed Dan. "We nearly had them."
Mac sat there silently for a while and then began to smile.
"What? Am I missing something?" Dan asked.
"If we quickly fix the tire we should be able to catch the truck," Mac replied with a laugh.
"They just drove into that box canyon. There is only one way out and that is past us."
In less than ten minutes, Dan and Mac replaced the flat from one of the two spare tires the roadster carried. Mac drove the roadster cautiously toward the canyon. As they reached the mouth of the canyon, Mac pulled to a stop.
"This is where we get out and walk," Mac said.
Both men jumped out of the roadster and started walking down the dark canyon. Fortunately, there was a half-moon out to offer them light. Mac knew this desert pretty well and knew that this canyon was not very deep. In a few minutes, they would be upon the truck and with some more luck ambush the driver and recover the stone map.
As Mac and Dan crept further into the canyon the roar of multiple engines revving up to speed split through the still air. It had been a good three years the last time, either man had heard the noise, but they both recognized it at the same time.
"They didn't," Mac exclaimed as he began running towards the sound.
"I believe they did," Dan replied keeping up with Mac.
They both crested a small mound in time to see what they feared. Although the canyon was not terribly deep, it was wide. It was just wide enough to hide a zeppelin and that zeppelin was now rising rapidly into the air over the two men's head.
Dan and Mac just stared as the lighter-than-air craft flew off into the desert air.
I just got back for San Fransisco last week. And boy are my arms tired -- no wait...
Out of Time
By Douglas E Gogerty
"If you take the lens, the government will know who has it. They have hundreds of them!"
"Come on Dr. Millard," pleaded Candy still playing the tart. "Couldn't you play ball just once?"
"I could have the police here in five minutes," explained Jim.
"It wouldn't do any good," explained the mountain. "I'm special agent Maxwell. Stuart Maxwell. I believe you have met special agent Millwood."
"Charmed I'm sure," flirted Candy.
"You got something against Stuart?"
"I took you for ... a Steel ... or a Stone ... or something."
"They call me Moose!"
"That makes sense."
"So, are you going to give us the device or not?" asked Moose.
"Could I see some credentials? I've seen hers."
"Here is my badge," Moose said as he showed Jim his credentials.
"Very good," replied Jim. "Now, let me see your warrant."
"Warrant?" inquired Candy.
"Yes my dear," replied Jim with a lilt in his voice. "There is this thing called a constitution. It is the law of the land here in the United States."
"Don't get smart!" threatened Moose.
"Well you see, this constitution specifically states that I have the right against unreasonable searches and seizures. It's the fourth amendment."
"So what are you saying?" inquired Moose.
"I'm saying, unless you have a warrant -- obtained because you have some 'probable cause' to do so -- you are not going to see or obtain my device."
"We have ways of making you!" threatened Moose.
"In this day and age of time viewing devices, someone will pay highly for you making me give you the device. So, unless you want to answer to the founding fathers, I suggest you leave."
"Come on Moose," whined Candy. "You know Jimmy boy, I could make you very happy -- for a little while anyway."
"It's Dr. Millard to you!"
When the two agents left, Jim felt himself shaking. He just stood up to a mountain of a man. He did not know if the constitution frightened him off, or if he was just there to be frightening. In any event, it was another test passed. He still had his device. However, he did not know how long he could keep it up.
After a couple of days, Candy was back in Jim's office. "What do you want now Special Agent Millwood?"
"My boss is really mad," she sobbed.
"Spare me the act."
"Well, I tried. He is mad, and he is right here. This is Director Richards."
"Director," Dr. Millard said curtly. "What can I do for you?"
"Let me get to the point of my visit," started the director.
"I wish you would," responded Jim.
"You have a top secret device in your possession. We are very uncomfortable with this arrangement. We would like it very much if you voluntarily gave up the device."
"With all due respect, I have a signed contract that entitles me to retain my device. I expressly indicated that I wish to continue my research. This would be impossible without my device."
"I appreciate that, but if this device were to get into the wrong hands..."
"Sir, do I need to quote the fourth amendment to the US Constitution?"
"Information is our business Dr. Millard. Your device has become an essential tool in the gathering of that information."
"Information is also my business Director Richards. My device is an essential tool for my gathering of that information. Without it, I cannot continue on my research. I have already given up researching ways to improve it. I did that at the government's insistence. I do not plan on giving up any further research opportunities."
"Do not force us to take drastic measures."
"More drastic than you already have?"
"Much more drastic."
"Sir, this time viewing lens has been used to solve crimes all over the country. There are no more unsolved crimes. Thus, if you are threatening me, let me assure you that you will be caught and punished."
"I guess we are finished then."
"We are indeed. It was nice seeing you again special agent Millwood. Take care of yourself."
"Gee thanks," giggled Candy.
Jim wondered if the femme fatale act was way to ingrained in agent Millwood as the two left his office. She was a natural.
A few days later, Jim's father called him. "Jim, who is this Director Richards person?"
"Did he come to see you?"
"No, just a cute young thing named Candy. She asked me to tell you that Director Richards has many ways to get what he wants."
"Oh no!" grumbled Jim in disbelief.
"She was really cute! Any sparks?"
"Dad! her group wants me to give up my research!"
"Then give it up."
"You don't understand."
"I gave up a lot for your mother."
"Dad, she is not interested in me."
"That is not what she told me."
"Does she have some sort of hypno-ray that I'm immune to?"
"What nonsense are you talking now son?"
"Nothing! Dad, she is a government agent who wants me to give up everything I've worked my whole life on."
"So you'll find something else."
"Just like that?"
"Sure! Your priorities change when you get married."
"You're not listening! She isn't interested in me at all."
"That is not what she told me."
"Yes, but you've seen too many movies. Don't be surprised if a mountain of a man shows up next."
"What movie is that?"
"Never mind. Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. Everything is good here."
"I'm glad," Jim said with a sigh. "I'll call you later."
"Okay son. I love you!"
"Yeah yeah! Later."
Perhaps his dad was right. Not about him settling down with Candy Millwood, but giving up his device. He could not do the research he really wanted. Perhaps it was time to take it to its limits and destroy the device. The subtle threat that they knew where his family lived was unnerving.
After a few more encounters with Agent Millwood, Jim decided what he was going to do. He set up the device in the bunker. He made a request for liquid Hydrogen. He thought about using liquid Helium, but he would not get enough superconductive benefit from the colder temperatures.
The real trick was going to be how much power the device could withstand. He was completely secretive about his entire project. Nobody knew what he was doing. If they asked, he would say 'It's top secret.' Most people knew he was involved in a top-secret project, so they inquired no further.
He recorded everything as it showed earlier and earlier events. One hundred years he saw the early days of the university. Two hundred years he saw the early days of statehood. He kept going back hundreds of years. He added more and more current to turn back the clock. With each step, he viewed farther back in time.
The liquid nitrogen and the heat generated by the current were fighting each other, but he continued. One thousand years and he saw the Native Americans as they once were. Two thousand years and he kept pushing the device.
The two elements began fighting in earnest. Jim was struggling to keep the superconductive material cold enough. He thought perhaps that he should have gone through the trouble of getting liquid Helium. He just kept adding more current and increasing the flow of liquid nitrogen. Farther and farther back, he recorded. He began recording a great deal of nothing. Plants and animals and their coming and going he would occasionally observe, but not much else.
Ten thousand years ago and he had not seen a much in the form of activity for quite some time. Twenty thousand years ago and he saw the effects of the ice age. Perhaps he would see a mastodon or mammoth. He kept pushing the device by adding more current and increasing the flow of liquid nitrogen.
As he went back he kept looking for ice age creatures, but he found that he was in an out of the way spot. The creatures would have to work hard to get to where he was working. Nevertheless, Jim kept pressing on until he heard a loud snap. He checked the viewfinder to see what he could. He checked his settings to see how far he was looking.
He stopped increasing the current, but he continued to hear a crackling noise. He increased the flow of liquid nitrogen to cool the apparatus, but it just went pop. Jim was recording regular time again. The glass had cracked and the experiment was over. '51,200 years' Jim noted in his notebook. "No dinosaurs," Jim complained to himself. "Still, it viewed before 50,000 BCE which is not too shabby!"
Candy made one of her regular visits, and Jim gave her the broken device. "It's yours," he told her.
"Why the change honey?" she flirted.
"I broke it," he explained.
"That is too bad, but Director Richards will be pleased."
"Perhaps. Say, why don't we go celebrate?"
"What you and me?"
"Let's just say your hypno-ray has finally worked on me."
"Never mind! Do you want to go or not?"
Mac MacKinnon and the Race for El Dorado
Chapter 8: Rodrigo's Mistake
By Dwayne MacInnes
Mac took his time returning to the camp. He did not relish the idea of telling Dr. Strong that he and Dan had lost the stone map and the key, that the German's were now flying off to find El Dorado, and that they could not follow.
The roadster slowly pulled up to the crates and the tent silhouetted in the campfire. Dr. Strong and his daughter both waited with anticipation as Mac and Dan stepped out the car.
"Well, did you get them?" Rebecca asked excitedly.
"Not exactly," Mac replied crestfallen. "I'm sorry Doc, but the Germans had a zeppelin and made off with the map and key. We have no idea where they went and we can't follow them."
Much to everyone's surprise the professor started to laugh.
"Are you all right, father?" Rebecca looked at her father with a troubled look on her face.
"Quite, quite," the archaeologist continued to laugh. "You forget Mac that I have the map already memorized. Plus, I know exactly where the German's are headed. In fact, they are traveling in opposite direction of El Dorado."
"I must admit it Doc, but you have lost me again," Mac said sitting down on a crate near the fire.
"Remember I told you about the renegade Spaniards stealing the stone map and heading north?" the professor prompted.
Rebecca and Mac both nodded. Dan just stared at everyone with a puzzled expression.
"I'll explain later," Mac offered to Dan.
Dr. Strong continued, "The reason they headed north was because Rodrigo made a translation error. He translated part of the map to read ‘in the greatest river canyon'. Therefore, Rodrigo believed that El Dorado was in the Grand Canyon, the greatest canyon.
"What he should have translated was ‘in the greatest river valley." The greatest river is the Amazon and that is south instead of north. So, you see they are heading in the wrong direction.
"However, we still need the key. That is the most important artifact that they stole."
Mac felt much better and slapped Dan on the shoulder.
"Dan do you think you can get the Jenny running tomorrow?" Mac asked.
"Shouldn't be too hard. I just need to check the prop and clean out the feathers," Dan returned.
"Feathers!?!" Rebecca exclaimed.
Mac turned a little red. Even in the firelight, Rebecca noticed the pilot blushing.
"Yeah, my engine trouble was brought on by me flying into a flock of birds. I had to land before my propeller shattered or the engine died."
"Leave it to Mac to find road kill in the sky," Dan joked.
Dr. Strong and Rebecca started laughing. Mac gave Dan a glare before he too joined in laughing.
It did not take Dan long at all to get the Jenny ready the next day. Both the propeller and the engine were fine. A quick cleaning and routine maintenance had Mac in the air by late afternoon.
Mac made to the Grand Canyon in Arizona by sundown. He stayed at a colleague's airfield while he started his search for the zeppelin. Mac made a few inquiries into whether anyone in the area had seen an airship flying in the sky. However, everyone he asked thought he was joking.
Mac had little choice but to begin to search for the zeppelin by air. The task before him was daunting. The Grand Canyon was long and deep, but the zeppelin may have landed miles away from the canyon further increasing the area where Mac would have to search.
Mac had searched the area for over a week. He had nothing to show for his efforts and everyone decided that he should return home. The Jenny was flying back toward New Mexico when Mac saw a something on the ground that did not quite fit.
At first glance, it looked like a patch of snow high in the mountains. However, the patch of snow was elliptical and rising into the air. Mac banked the Jenny around to take a closer look.
Mac laughed as he spied the zeppelin climbing higher into the sky. By pure chance, he had stumbled upon the airship. The German airship was about 529 feet long and 38 feet in diameter. Three gasoline engines positioned outside the gasbag powered the great craft up to 85 miles an hour. Maybe he would not go home empty handed after all.
The zeppelin began to fly off in an easterly direction. Mac increased the Jenny's speed in order to catch up to the zeppelin. He wanted to get a better look at his adversary.
Mac was almost on top of the zeppelin when he noticed the platforms on the top of the zeppelin. During the Great War, zeppelins had gunners on the top of the airbag to fight off attacking allied aircraft. These platforms were still armed and they began to open fire upon the little Jenny.
Mac pulled back on the stick to gain altitude before the gunners and their Maxim machineguns could get a fix on him. The engine of the biplane roared in protest as bullets ripped past. Mac rolled the biplane as he dove. He could hear the tearing of the fabric skin as some of the bullets found their mark. He pulled back sharply on the stick and the plane climbed rapidly into the sky once more. Mac leveled off before the plane stalled. The Maxims pursued him persistently.
The Jenny began to respond sluggishly as he jinked the plane. The two machinegun placements relentlessly fired upon the aircraft. Mac pushed forward upon the stick again and the plane dove. Mac flew the plane past and below the zeppelin, but not before a few rounds found their way into the engine. Although the gun placements could no longer fire upon the plane, the machineguns had done their job as smoke billowed from the Jenny's engine.
The plane did not respond to his control as it spun ever closer to the ground. Mac fought to pull the stick back as the wind screamed in his ears and the engine coughed and smoked as he plummeted towards the earth. The altimeter rapidly counted down. Mac had only a hundred feet in which to gain control of the plane as the ground rushed ever closer.
This is to all the people in New Orleans that are still suffering from Katrina...
Roman Slave - Gladiator - Freeman - Hero
Conversation at the Bath
By Douglas E Gogerty
After his day of travel, Marius Batiatus Pervalidus decided to go from the inn to the local thermae. A relaxing time in the public bath was exactly what he needed. His muscles would relax, and they would be prepared for the next day's travel.
"Greetings and salutations citizen," the proprietor said. "You have come alone? Do you wish to hire someone to watch your things? That service is available here."
"Certainly, what is the fee?"
"You can arrange that with the attendant," the proprietor stated as he waved his hand towards a snoozing slave. "You are new here..."
"I'm on my way to Rome. I am just passing through."
"Very well, the attendant..." he began. He walked over to the individual, who was assigned to attend to a visitor's things, and poked him. He scolded him quietly, and returned to speak to Pervalidus. "As I was saying, this attendant will give you the layout of the bath. If you have any questions you can ask him or if I'm available..."
"Is he trustworthy?"
"Don't mind his sleeping ways," he said when he suddenly looked at the young man. "He knows he will not get paid if he does not do his job!"
"I'll be alert," injected the attendant.
"Very well, here is your fee my good proprietor. I will begin in the tepidarium and then I wish to visit a masseur. Can that be arranged now?"
"Yes, a masseur will be available at your convenience," replied the proprietor. "The apodyterium is that way. This slave will follow and watch your things after you change there. The far door of that room leads to the tepidarium, but the warmth would tell you that. Bene Lave!"
After a good soak in the warm bath, the former gladiator enjoyed a good oiling and scraping from the masseur. In his usual manner, he returned to the tepidarium for another soak. This bath was warmer than the baths near his home, but it was still relaxing. He did not linger in the caldarium, as it was too hot for his liking. He was grateful when he reached the much cooler frigidarium. However, he did go between the rooms his customary four times.
"The caldarium is a bit too hot today," a gentleman said interrupting Pervaliduss personal thoughts.
"It is definitely hotter than my liking," Pervalidus replied.
"My name is Cassius Laurentius Silvanus."
"Greetings, I am Marius Batiatus Pervalidus."
"Are you a traveler?"
"Aye! I am heading to Rome. I have a gift of six horses for Dictator Caesar. I had hoped to make it to Rome before the Ides of March, but there have been delays. I hope to get there before he heads to Parthia, gods willing!"
"Caesar is not likely to head to Parthia until next month. You should make it without difficulty."
"Traveling in this day and age can sometimes be troublesome."
"I heard you there. I hope order will be restored with what Caesar is doing. However, I fear that he is more interested in wars and personal glory than with Rome."
"It is difficult to predict."
"The armies are mostly mobilized outside of Rome leaving us vulnerable. With Caesar going off to Parthia, he is continuing in that tradition."
"And what of the Republic...?"
"The Senate is much more concerned about retaining the status quo than making life beneficial to the Roman citizens."
"Horses huh?" started Laurentius changing the subject.
"Neptune has been good to me."
"You must be a successful member of the Equestrian Order to be able to afford to give away six horses."
"The Caesars have been good to me. I obtained much wealth when Gaius Julius Caesar became Pontifex Maximus. It is just my way of repaying his patronage."
"Personally, I think the Senate can still cause trouble for Dictator Caesar. If he lets his guard down, I would not put anything past the senators. They can cause trouble at any level. If they do cause trouble, what happens then? Do we go back to the way it was? Who would rule if Caesar dies? His grand nephew Gauis Octavinus Thurinus or whatever he calls himself."
"He is a blood relation."
"But he has no experience. He has fought in one battle with his great uncle Julius, but has not held any office. If there is trouble in Rome, do we hand ruling to him? On the other hand, would it be better than our current corrupt senate?"
"Do you have anyone else in mind?"
"Marcus Antonius is too ambitious. Marcus Aemilius Lepidus is weak. Perhaps the three of them will form a triumvirate. That would balance things a bit."
"Let us hope is does not come to that."
"Yes, there is trouble enough. We do not need more civil unrest."
"That is true. It is still difficult to travel along the roads to Rome.
"Truer words have never been spoken"
"I grow weary of this talk of politics."
"I am sorry. Sometimes I can get worked up with the state of the Republic. I have heard of troubles on the road. Yesterday, a man ended his days ride here. He spoke of a fight in an inn. Perhaps you know of the fight."
"A gladiator, now freeman, had just left the baths of that town and headed to the local inn. Once in the inn he was confronted by a man with thirty men."
"Thirty? It certainly could not have been more than a dozen."
"Are you telling the tale or am I?"
"Forgive me. Please continue."
"The man was a strong supporter of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. He was upset that more people did not come to the great general's aid. Naturally, when Pompey the great was defeated, he lost everything. He was now on the run. The former gladiator refused to join, and now this former magistrate wanted revenge. Does this story sound familiar?"
"Some of the details have a ring of familiarity, but please, tell the story."
Mac MacKinnon and the Race for El Dorado
Chapter 9: Johann and Wolfgang
By Dwayne MacInnes
Dr. Hugo Strong and Rebecca moved into the apartment attached to the back of the hangar where Dan and Mac lived. The apartment was small, containing only a kitchen-dining room, two cramped bedrooms, and a living room housing a sofa that Dan now used as a bed. Dan had insisted that Rebecca take Mac's room and Dr. Strong move into his while Mac was searching for the zeppelin.
The three would crowd around Dan's radio in the hangar as he communicated with Mac every evening about his progress on locating the zeppelin at the Grand Canyon. Other than experiencing a wonderful aerial tour of the picturesque landscape, Mac had nothing further to report. Finally, they decided after ten days that Mac return to their airfield in New Mexico.
Dan was at his usual position at the radio when Rebecca walked into the large open room. Dan threw his headset onto the desktop in frustration before he realized that Rebecca was standing behind him.
"Oh...sorry," Dan stammered in surprise noticing Rebecca watching him.
"What's wrong?" Rebecca asked as she took a chair next to the desk.
"Nothing. I'm just experiencing some technical problems with my set here," Dan lied.
Rebecca gave Dan a piercing glare showing that she obviously did not buy his story. "Is there something wrong with Mac?"
Dan sat back in his chair and blew air out of his mouth. "Yeah, Mac should have been here hours ago. I just called McCurdy's airfield and he isn't there. In fact, Mac left in the morning as we planned."
"Maybe, Mac stopped off for dinner or something on the way back," Rebecca tried to comfort Dan.
"That's not like Mac. He is very punctual. Do you remember the last time he was late? He was lucky he was able to land the plane after he ran into that flock of birds."
"Mac is a very accomplished pilot. I'm sure he has a reason for being late. Who knows he may have even found the zeppelin."
"That's exactly what I'm afraid of," Dan replied sourly.
"Any news about Mac's whereabouts?" Dr. Hugo asked surprising both Rebecca and Dan as he walked up behind them. The archaeologist was holding a sandwich that he offered to Dan. "Rebecca and I have already eaten."
"Thanks," Dan replied as he accepted the food. Dan then repeated his fears to the doctor.
Rebecca and Dr. Strong began talking about some of the artifacts that were at the dig while Dan consumed his meal. The three were so busy discussing Dr. Strong's finds that none of them noticed the man walk into the hangar.
"Pardon me," the stranger asked.
The three companions turned around simultaneously to see a man dressed in a gray business suit and holding his hat in one hand and a walking stick in another. The man stood at about six feet tall, had blue eyes and gray hair with a Van Dyke beard and mustache that was also gray. He had to have been in his late forties or early fifties.
"I am sorry to interrupt," the man said in a British accent with a hint of German as he heavily rolled his r's. "I am Johann von Hutten, and I am afraid I need your help Herr Doktor."
Von Hutten revealed the German Luger that he had concealed under his hat. Two other large men now entered the hangar. One was armed with a rifle the other was also holding a Luger.
Dan, Rebecca, and Dr. Strong all raised their hands as the intruders pointed their weapons at them. The two thugs walked over, grabbed the archaeologist roughly, and began to lead him away.
"Wait!" von Hutten ordered. "If I am not mistaken this is Herr Strong's daughter. Bring her along. I'm sure she'll help us persuade the fine doctor to cooperate. As for the mechanic... as these American's say, 'dead men tell no tales.'"
Before long, the thugs tied up and gagged Dan in a corner of the hangar. The Germans had left with their prisoners leaving Dan by himself. Instead of just shooting him there, the Germans had cruelly set up a bomb consisting of several sticks of dynamite and a clock that sat in front of Dan.
The poor mechanic could do nothing but watch and listen as the clock relentlessly ticked off the few remaining minutes before ending his life in a violent blast. His arms tied securely behind his back around a pipe secured him to his corner. The bomb was out of reach of his kicking legs. Dan frantically twisted and struggled to loosen his bonds. However, it was fruitless he was expertly trussed up.
The zeppelin rose slowly up into the night sky. A locked crewmembers' cabin contained the archaeologist and his daughter. Johann von Hutten looked down upon the small airfield from the flight deck of the zeppelin.
The helmsman stood at the wheel listening to the orders of the captain. Johann knew the captain well; he was a very accomplished pilot and a high-ranking member of the Stein Ritter. Wolfgang, none knew his last name, had shot down over hundred allied aviators during the Great War. Now, this strange man commanded the last of the military's zeppelins that he had custom made and had remarkably smuggled out of the Fatherland without anyone knowing.
Wolfgang had come to von Hutten to offer his assistance in locating El Dorado. It was no secret that Johann was the great grand nephew of Philipp von Hutten. Like Philipp, Johann burned with a desire to find the elusive El Dorado. All Wolfgang wanted was a share of the treasure in order to rebuild Germany.
Johann smiled as he watched the airfield shrink below them. It looked like the last obstacle was about to be permanently removed. First, they shot down that pilot earlier today and now the mechanic was about to come to his end.
Johann looked up at the clock on the wall of the bridge. Any second now, the bomb should go off. Von Hutten peered out the window once more in time to see the flash of the explosion. The dampened roar of the blast reached his ears a second later.
Hank visited the Whitehouse to straighten out the President on his foreign and domestic policy.