Corporeal Passage: Chapter 23: Fugitive Rest Stop
by Jeff RandLeu and Ethan exchanged greetings with Eli upon extending their tongues in his direction. Eli directed them to tall chairs circling a table.
"You've already met Eli, but let me introduce two other prominent scientists, Ira and Levi. I express their names this way for your understanding," said Tom.
"What are their real names?" Ethan inquired.
"This is what they're called, at least very close to the pronunciation. Their real names are expressed as a series of hexadecimal numbers, as was mine before the Infinite Wisdom started calling me 'Tom'."
"The numbers represent when and where they were born. There is a four-digit hex number for their generational code, two digits for the state equivalent, two for region (like a county), two for the locality, and three for their birth ranking."
"This doesn't make sense to me," declared Leu.
"I am struggling with the language and some new concepts. Let me introduce the others, and I believe they will explain. Ira is a prominent theologist and was involved in the establishment of Zero Node. As I indicated previously, I am especially interested in theology and am learning much from him. And, of course, Adam. Unlike the abundance of atheist scientists with whom you are familiar, the existence of God is the ultimate truth in Teran science. Ira's engagement as a theologist made Zero Node possible because of this understanding."
Tom continued, "I guess you could consider Levi a cultural scientist. Although his services are currently not part of the thinking of some dangerous minds now engaged at Zero Node, he has much to offer, especially in the field of linguistics. It is still a work in progress, but I am helping him complete the programming for his translator device. I'll let him explain." Tom nodded towards Levi.
Levi placed a small object on the table and began to speak. When he paused, the device began its translation, "Hello, Ethan and Loo. I am Levi and it is nice to finally meet you. I believe you have some questions, and you may ask them now. The translator will convert them to our language and send them directly to the neural [unknown word] in our heads."
Tom interrupted, "Translator, the word is 'interface'."
Ethan became agitated. Now he had reason to believe that Neural Virtual Reality was a product meant to destroy mankind on the surface resulting from sick minds inside the earth. "Are the people living here inside the earth responsible for Neural Virtual Reality and want to destroy everyone on the outside?" he asked.
After a brief pause, Levi responded, "I am sorry the translation does not make sense. But why would you think we are inside the earth?"
Before Ethan could make his point, Eli spoke through the translator, "Ethan, it will be difficult to explain everything. But I assure you no one here has been involved in destroying life on earth."
Levi continued, "Let me explain some concepts that are easier to understand. Loo, you asked about the numbers for our real names. The first numbers represent the generation. It is the period in which we were born and changes every circle around the parent sun. I was born in the C2A generation. My State is 12; Region 3B, Locality 13. I was born early in the generation as Birth 010."
"OK. What happens when you create a new state, region, or locality and run out of numbers?" asked Ethan.
"In all the generations before and after me, none have been added."
Leu inquired, "You mean the population never grows. What if parents want big families?"
Levi opened his mouth wide, which may have been his version of a smile, and responded, "In Tera, we realized after The Great Collapse that there were limits to growth when we had to rebuild society. There was a carrying capacity that should not be exceeded. Then we learned how to control female ovulation."
"What's that?" asked Leu.
Ethan faced his son, "That's the ability for women to have children."
Levi offered further explanation, "Yes. That is right. Each woman could produce two offspring within a specified period. If a family did not wish to have two children or one died early, a lottery would be held where another couple would have the ability to produce an additional child within the locality. This way a stable population is maintained."
"So is a generation like a year?" Leu inquired.
"Let me respond," said Ron, as he grabbed a plate which lit with some symbols. I have learned how you measure time, but must do some calculations." Ron proceeded to move his hands across the plate as the symbols changed. After a pause, he continued, "Using hours from your measure of time, a Teran day is approximately 54 hours. You may recall that we were adjusted to double prodays at Zero Node, which were a little more than 52 hours. It takes 19,480 Teran Days to circle the parent sun to complete a generation."
"That sounds like a long time."
"For you it is - about 142 years."
"Just how old are you folks?"
Ron paused for a moment to look at his screen, "Ira is the oldest one here. He is 340 and was born in 1692 according to your calendar."
"I think that was the time of the Salem Witch Trials," said Ethan.
"If you say so," responded Ron. "Why don't we open the rear of the dome so that you can sit by the sea to enjoy the junior sunrise? I was astounded when I saw the second sun."
"Do you mean that there will be a projection of another orb, here inside the earth," said Ethan, continuing to probe for an explanation of how the Teran technology had progressed so much beneath the earth's mantle.
Ron and Tom escorted Ethan and Leu to some loungers facing the clear dome. When Ron touched a panel, the wall opened to provide an unobstructed view of the sea just a few feet from the observers. The water was teaming with sea life, as numerous creatures were seen leaping far into the air before gently gliding back to the surface. With the challenges imposed by recent events, Ethan was happy to enjoy some time to relax and engage in light conversation while observing the antics of these unusual animals. For his part, Leu decided to give names to the different types of animals, as if he had just entered the Garden of Eden.
"Dad, look! There is another red sun starting to rise!" shouted Leu, surprised that Ron had told the truth.
"I am sure that the Terans living here inside the earth are just projecting another orb which is reflecting off the earth's mantle that surrounds this space," replied Ethan.
"I asked Eli about the second sun when we were working on the translator with Levi," said Tom. "My best understanding, after we translated some scientific journals, is that we are experiencing a T-type orbit, where Tera and the junior sun share the same path around the parent sun."
"Quite an imagination from the folks living on the inside," Ethan remarked. "What does 'T' stand for?"
"I bet it comes from the Planet Tatooine with its two suns," quipped Leu, trying to impress the others with his knowledge of the original Star Wars movie, which debuted before his father was born.
"I believe your astronomers were referring to it as a Trojan system," explained Tom.
"How about some lunch?" asked Danielle, interrupting the conversation and approaching with a platter. She set it on the table.
Ethan recognized the filets that might be a variety of salmon, but had never seen the cylindrical-shaped items. "What are these things that look like blue cucumbers?" he asked.
"They are copa, which is a fruit," Danielle replied. "How do you want yours cut?"
"Oh, just slice it thin."
Danielle placed a copa on a plate and covered it with a domed device. She rubbed her fingers on the dome and lifted it from the plate. The pink flesh of the fruit was now exposed, and it was sliced as requested. "How boring," she said, before placing another on a plate for its cutting, without asking anyone their preference. When she removed the dome, the copa was cut into pieces shaped like small rhombohedrons.
"I'll take that one," said Leu.
Danielle handed Ethan his plate with the sliced copa and a filet. She also gave him a fork, which he was pleased to note had one tine that was wider than the others. Perhaps this was a coincidence, but he recalled the Winter Camp 50 banquet where there were seven types of forks used to maintain an atmosphere of uncompromised etiquette. The forks with the wide tine were the "fish forks."
When he received his plate, Leu quickly consumed the contents, and requested more. Ron, who had displayed a tendency in Zero Node to behave as if he were an uncivilized beast, scolded Leu on his lack of manners. "You should know that gluttony is a deadly sin among the Terans," he said.
"What manner of death should we prescribe?" asked Danielle.
"I prefer the waist chop," answered Ron. "I believe there is a blade from the Zhou Dynasty that was used for this purpose, which now rests with the collection of artifacts in the Zero Node repository."
Although Leu remained quiet, Ethan recognized the joke and changed the subject, although he did not doubt that such a blade existed. "What has become of Zero Node?" he asked.
"I'm afraid it is now serving as a laboratory and a museum for special guests," said Danielle. "My sister has told me that two of the most treasured pieces have been stolen, and there is a serious investigation underway to locate them."
"What was stolen?" asked Leu.
Ethan recognized the significance of Danielle's statement and commented, "I suppose there would be a desire to return these items unharmed."
"True. But they will never be separated from the Zero Node collection. In fact, there was an experiment allowing children to see these things before they disappeared. In this way Zero Node will become a significant attraction for the curious."
Ron said, "Why don't we just relax here by the sea. Eli and the others will join us soon, and I am sure they will be giving us some further instructions."
After the initial gathering in the domed building when the hemix first arrived, Eli, his son Adam, and the two other scientists left the group, disappearing into some chamber below the water level. When they returned to the surface floor of this building island, their presence had been anticipated. Adam carried the translator device and placed it on a table.
Momentarily the translator activated with comments from Eli, "We have discussed your situation, and are most concerned about your well-being. As scientists we would like nothing better than to keep you for study. It would be nice to have a few more specimens to allow for reproduction, and that would provide valuable information. However, we also believe that there could be inbreeding with our population and that would be devastating to our genetic purity."
Ethan became incensed, interrupting before Eli finished, "Are you a bunch of Nazis who escaped here to the center of the earth during the Second World War?"
Eli was confused with the translation.
Ron, who had a significant knowledge of human history, had to calm the situation. "Ethan. These folks know nothing of human history on earth, and I am happy to say that Adolf Hitler is not living here ready to return and finish his work. We are trying to save you."
Surprisingly, Adam joined the conversation, "We want to help you return home. Although many of your scientists are non-believers, most here believe in God. And God is the same for everyone. Although we may call his Son by different names, the Son has visited both our peoples and is indeed the corporeal personage of God. With this faith guiding our morals, we must help you return where you belong to help rebuild your society."
Eli provided further instructions, "Although it is nice to enjoy the sea here, you are in danger if you stay. Once you are found, we cannot help you, and we will be punished. After giving it some thought, we have determined that you will leave with Danielle to stay with her aunt and uncle. I regret that this may be our only meeting. Adam will be your point of contact. We expect that Ron and Tom will be watched closely. Do not interface with anyone else, especially those you know, including Danielle's sister, Markie."
"I will never turn you in," remarked Danielle to Ethan and Leu.
"Just be careful of your sister," said Eli.
"I will continue to fool my stupid sister."
"That is not the right attitude. You must believe that your sister is extremely intelligent and will not be easy to deceive. Ethan and Leu, I say God be with ye. Adam will take you away and will be in touch later," Eli concluded.