screens and just stared for a second.
After letting the meaning of what they saw sink in Doctor Watanabe stated, “The Habitat administrator and half of the heads of state on the UN security counsel have called demanding to know what we are going to do about this? There are a lot of people on Earth that are going ape shit over it.”
“Sir,” said Watez, “what do they expect us to do? That thing is ten and a half light years away?”
“Very good question captain. Now on that point, I will leave the rest to Doctors Hynek and Stryker,” Watanabe said as he turned and left the room. The room exploded, with everyone taking at once. Doctor Stryker stood and pounded the table with his hand calling for order all this did was increase the noise level.
Watez slowly stood, looked around and said in a loud voice, “Everyone please, shut the fuck up!” The last part of that turned into a commanding shout. At once, the people in the room stopped and looked at her.
“Thank you,” she said in a pleasant voice, then continued, “You where going to say Doctor Stryker?” She gave a mock-Japanese nod to Stryker and a big smile.
“Well, thank you. To answer your question: they want us to go there and check it out. So the next question is can you do it?”
Tanaka jumped up and shouted ,“Yes!”
Before she could go on she was stopped by Watez holding up her hand and stating, “Doctor, excuse the enthusiasm of my navigator, but the X-301 can not do it!” Less sternly she continued, “The QTD can - in theory - get us to Epsilon, but not using the X-301.”
“What is the QTD and X-301?” asked Hynek with a puzzled look on his face.
“Go ahead, Captain, he’s cleared to know and she's your baby,” said Stryker as he waved at Watez and sat down. This was it: as the lead test pilot and project coordinator Watez had to put her ass on the line. She started with the basics first:
“’QTD’ stands for ‘Quantum Transition Device.’ It can change its quantum energy potential from what it is normally to a different value. This is useful because every point in space has a different quantum energy. A mass has to have the same quantum potential as the point it sits at. Changing the potential of a mass will cause the mass to transition to the point that equals that potential. This happens instantaneously, no matter the distance. The QTD will take along any mass that is inside a defined distance from its own center. That's the basics. If you want the theory, I have ten thousand pages of mathematics and charts on how it works.”
“No thanks, captain, I will take your word for it, but what's the catch?” asked Hynek.
“The catch, Doctor, is that it takes a lot of energy to do this. In theory one could go anywhere in the universe, but in practice two light years is about the farthest we could jump. Also, you have to be in fairly flat space-time or at a Lagrangian point to do it or you become a burst of subatomic partials”
“You have tested this, it's not just theory we're talking here?”
“Yes we have done five unmanned runs. Four were successful.” replied Watez
“Four successes? what about the fifth?”
“That's how we know what happens when you are in the wrong place when you turn it on.” said Watez, deadpan.
Hynek thought for a minute then asked, “What about the X-301 you called it?”
Watez explained that the X-301 was their manned test bed, then said, “Look Doctor the X-301 is a capsule stuck on a reactor, a QTD and a small reaction drive. It is not meant for a long-duration flight. It's at least two years before we build our real ship, the X-302.” At this Paulson cleared his throat in that irritating Japanese way of interrupting someone.
Watez gave him a look that said go ahead and he stated, “There is an almost-completed hull at the Mitsubishi yard that could be modified to take a QTD. We could do it in a few months.”
“And you know this how?” asked Watez
“Well” Paulson said embarrassedly, “they tried to recruit me a few weeks ago, and they gave me a tour.” Tanaka and Watez gave him a look that only outraged women