Sleeping Giants Page 33

Apparently, she was built for close combat. I don’t know what she was supposed to fight, but it must have been big. The sword is a focused-energy weapon. Like a lightsaber, only wider, double-edged, more like a medieval sword. Star Wars meets Lord of the Rings. It’s not turquoise like everything else. It’s a very, very bright white. It’s almost impossible to stare at.

What’s really—I seem to use the word cool a lot these days—is that we can dial its length on the console. Vincent figured out that it works on a sixty-four-step scale—1 being the shortest, 64 the longest. At the lowest settings, it’s almost like a dagger. At its longest, it’s…We made a large hole on the floor when we tried it at 64. We stopped playing with it after that.

Fortunately, the shield is somewhat safer to experiment with. It’s also based on controlled energy and we can adjust the size in the very same way. At the lowest setting, it barely covers her wrist. At the highest, it can cover her entire body. It’s also not nearly as bright as the sword. It’s almost transparent, in fact. You can tell something’s there because it distorts light a little bit, like the exhaust of a car on a really hot day.

We discovered it can also be used as a weapon. It took another hole—in the wall, this time—to figure that one out, but the edge of the shield is very sharp…if you can say that about light.

The light in both the sword and shield appears to be self-contained. There’s no sign of an electromagnetic field around either of them. Needless to say, I have no idea how they’re able to manipulate photons as if it were regular matter. Yet, they seem to do with light as they please, like a sculptor would mold clay.

We haven’t found any long-range weapons so far, but I’m certain we will. She’s full of surprises. There needs to be a way for her to focus the energy release away from her. If she does, I’m sure that weapon will have a pretty long reach. She really needs to be able to control it or she’d be more of a danger to her own army than to the enemy’s. All one would need to do is throw enough power at her and she’d obliterate everyone around. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near her when she gets into a fight.

On the other hand, if she can focus all that energy in one direction, she’d be a nightmare to deal with. Everything one would hit her with, she would throw right back. The more powerful the enemy, the mightier she would be. That, I have told already. But I hope we don’t find out for a long, long time.

It’s important for “the powers that be” to know that we have yet to uncover her more destructive powers. I fear they’ll take her away from us the minute they believe there’s no more weaponry to be found. We must use the time we have to discover as much as we can about how she works and what she can do besides leveling a city or vaporizing an army. I haven’t told Vincent anything, but I think he understands.

All we need now is to make her walk.

We’ll have to wait before we take her for a spin. Vincent’s not ready. He can barely walk himself.

I hate to say it. We’ve already lost several months because of his injury, and I know Kara’s more than eager to resume training, but it’s a miracle Vincent’s lasted this far. To push him any farther would jeopardize everything.

I would never tell him, because it would only make things worse, but I can’t stomach what they’ve done to him. I understand the appeal, there’s even a reasonably sound logic behind it, but we must draw the line somewhere if we’re to remain human.

He hasn’t tried reversing his knees yet. He wants to, but I don’t. If I understand correctly, it’s going to rip apart whatever muscle he has left on the back of his legs. They’re just too short. It’ll take months for him to build muscles that fit his new anatomy.

I realize that won’t happen if he doesn’t try his knees, but he’s already in pain twenty-four hours a day. I’m not going to put him through even more. And it’s not in anyone’s interest to push Vincent to do something he’s not ready for. It’ll break him physically, and mentally. It will bring resentment, mistrust, and will put every member of my team at unnecessary risk.

I know he’ll have to try them at some point. I don’t think it’ll be easier, or any less painful, if he does it a month from now. In fact, it’ll probably be more painful because he’ll have gained some muscle mass. But I’m hoping he’ll have gained some strength as well, physically and mentally.

All that said, I can’t wait to see her walk.

So, what’s that simple truth I’ve been hiding from? It’s not that I’m building a weapon. It’s not even that it’ll kill people. That’s just a matter of time. What I’ve been trying so hard to deny is that I’m loving every minute of it. As much as I’d like to be principled enough to walk away from this, I’m having the time of my life. I’m a scientist, and this is what I breathe for. If I can learn to live with that, I might be able to sleep again.

I tried to find out what Oppenheimer’s thoughts were while it was all happening. He had this to say in 1945:

“But when you come right down to it the reason that we did this job is because it was an organic necessity. If you are a scientist you cannot stop such a thing. If you are a scientist you believe that it is good to find out how the world works; that it is good to find out what the realities are; that it is good to turn over to mankind at large the greatest possible power to control the world and to deal with it according to its lights and its values.”

FILE NO. 188

PRELIMINARY REPORT—DISAPPEARANCE OF FLIGHT ICELANDAIR 670

FAA Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention

Flight Icelandair 670 (FI670), scheduled for a nonstop flight from Denver International Airport (DEN) to Keflavik, Reykjavik (KEF), disappeared from Air Traffic Control instruments at approximately 10:31 on the morning of August 10. The Boeing 757-200 called ready for taxi from Gate A-43 of Denver International Airport at 10:16. Following instructions from Denver Ground, the plane taxied to Runway 17L through taxiways M and ED, holding short of the runway before contacting the tower. Flight 670 was cleared for takeoff immediately after assuming position on the runway. The entire communication between the tower and FI670 is reproduced below. Prior communication with ATC shows nothing out of the ordinary.

FI670: Tower, this is ICEAIR 670 holding on Echo Delta for Runway 17 Left.

ATC: Good morning ICEAIR 670. She’s all yours, into position on Runway 17 Left.

FI670: Roger that.

In position, 670.

ATC: ICEAIR 670, you are clear to takeoff, Runway 17 Left, contact departure 1-2-6-1 in the air.

670, you’re clear to go…

ICEAIR 670, I lost you on my screen. Can you read back?

FI670: Where the hell is that light coming from?

ATC: Can you repeat that 670?

ICEAIR 670, this is the tower, please respond.

670, please respond…

Investigators were on-site around 12:15 P.M. and FAA personnel were denied access to the site. However, the abundant news footage of the incident showed that only the southernmost section (estimate: two hundred feet) of Runway 17L/35R remained intact. A large crater, approximately fifteen hundred feet across, three hundred feet deep, covered the remaining part of the runway and the surrounding taxiways. The examined footage shows no sign of wreckage, no debris of any kind.

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