Prologue: The Strange Case of the Atlas Field

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Literature Text

The Strange Case of the Atlas Field
by Richard Alan Chandler ©2012

London, 1877

In the attic of a low rent boarding house in the East End of London, near the Royal Docks, a cry of scientific discovery went up. It was not "Eureka!" or "At last!" or even "Hmm, that's funny," but, as was all too common in an age when the understanding of science was too much for most men's fragile minds, a call for revenge.

"Tully, that God-damned Tully, with those donkey teeth and that donkey laugh. He won't be laughing when he sees this. He won't ever mock me ever again, him and his gang. That's for damned sure!" When Pickering finished pouring the last of the acid into the electric pile, he punctuated his muttering with a cackle of glee, the echoes of which were quickly absorbed by the rafters of the one room attic garret he now called his "Laboratory." It was surprisingly well-equipped, considering it had been outfitted on a stevedore's pay - actually an ex-stevedore's pay, thanks to Tully. But it was also thanks to the self-appointed "King of the Docks" blacklisting him that he'd had the time to dedicate himself to his studies in the disreputable black art of Science.

He connected the leads of the galvanometer, and watched as the needle slowly swayed from left to right. It was working exactly as it should. Quickly he lowered the glass lid onto the pile and sealed it with wax, before nailing on the lid of the crude cabinet he had fashioned to contain it. It was not nearly as artful as the machines that inspired him, with their cherry wood and fine lacquers, brass escutcheons and gold pin-striping. But all that mattered was that the machinery inside functioned. Once he put his plan in motion, he would be able to conduct Science in the proper fashion. He would be respected, nay, feared for his brilliance, and finally have the money he deserved. He pictured himself with a fine maroon velvet coat, and a nice tall hat, and of course the finest brass goggles that money could buy, so that people would know then that he was a Scientist, and not a man to be trifled with. No one would dare cross him again, especially not Tully.

He paused for a moment to bask in the warm feeling he got from his vision of revenge. Tully's life would end, and his would be birthed anew. No more living amid the docks and factories in the East End, he'd be living high in the center of London. No more oil lamps and candles, he'd have coal gas lamps in every room of his mansion. He would dine on meat every night, and have a bath every week if he wanted. No more cheap whores, he'd only have the finest... no, think of it, actual ladies would be wanting him then. He would have an audience with Queen Victoria, and she would grant him a knighthood. No more would he be just Gerry Pickering, but Sir Gerald Pickering, maybe even Lord Gerald Pickering, and God himself would tremble as his inventions wrested mastery of the world from him!

But first, he thought, back to business. None of this would happen until his apparatus was complete. There was still the matter of aligning the crystal valve, and polishing out the Leyden condensers, and he had to change out that piece of brass ribbon that arced and melted last time. He'd have to be careful, he didn't have much of that material left.

A few hours later, with those tasks and a few others that evolved completed, he was ready to test. He ran the leads across the room to the man-sized assembly of brass rods that stood in the corner like a suit of armor. Retreating as far as he could, for he had no idea how far the effect would extend, he nervously closed the knife switches on the control panel, and when nothing happened immediately, slowly he began to turn the rheostat. The rods began to emit a blue glow, and slowly, the wall and the floor began to dissipate into dust where the glow touched them. It was not nearly as quick a process as he'd imagined. Disappointed, he turned the knob further and the glow expanded in radius. It seemed to flow around the surfaces it touched.

Gingerly, Pickering rose and approached the glowing assembly. The field extended a good foot from the cage. He took a length of kindling from the bin next to the cast-iron stove and touched the field, and observed as exceptionally fine dust began dropping from the end. The border of the field was rather sharp, producing a distinct step in the wood where it crossed the threshold. The more important test came next, as he drove the stick between the bars. He held it there for long enough to verify that the effect of the field was nil inside the cage. This was interesting, but not nearly the result he had been hoping for. Angry, he swiped the stick at the armor like a saber, and his disappointment was replaced by amazement as the end of the wood disappeared. That was it! The speed of an item through the field controlled how rapidly it disintegrated, possibly as it moved free of the particles recently liberated from its surface. Which explained why, as he observed, that the damage to the wall was far more extensive than it was to the floor. As the dust fell from the wall, it exposed a fresh surface to the field.

It took an immense effort of will to resist the allure of touching the blue glow. It was so unlike anything he had ever seen in his life. Admittedly, until now his life had been limited to what he could see over the crates and barrels he'd been loading in London's shipyards and warehouses. But since he began studying science, he'd been subjected to a never-ending parade of revelations of how mere mortal men, with simple bits of wire and glass, chemicals and electricity, could meddle in God's Domain. He had read about the greats of science, those whom the authorities had declared Mad, but whose works had changed the world. He had seen a collection of their machines and devices on display at the Tower of London, each with a sign explaining the so-called crimes that had been committed with them, but which he could read as a testament to their inventors' greatness. And now he would be standing among them! He couldn't help but laugh long and loud.

When at last he stopped, he realized he needed to turn off the device before it eventually ate its way through the floor. He hadn't really noticed the hum until it was gone, but he soon noticed a far more ominous sound, the heavy tread on the stairs of Mrs. Havarsham. The landlady pounded at the door. "'ere Pickering, I know you're in there. I'll have your rent this instant, or you'll be in the street come morning!" Pickering cowered behind the apparatus. Mrs. Havarsham was a fearsome bulldog of a woman, and he'd been dodging her for a week. The rent money had gone to his scientific supplies. He had no idea what to do.

The pounding stopped. "Pickering? What's that smell? Are you burning something in there? I'm coming in!" The master key rattled in the lock and Haversham pushed into the room. She looked around at the tools and wires and the cage at the end of the room, and then spotted Pickering. "Oh, this is my limit! What did I tell you about doing Science in my house? I won't have it!" She looked again at the cage. "Oh no! What have you done to my wall? That is it. Rent or not, I want you out of here this instant! This instant I say!"

Pickering felt the very bottom dropping out of his world. He was this close to success, and now his hopes would be dashed by this creature with the imagination of a rain-barrel. If he left, her husband would surely ruin his apparatus throwing it out of the house. He could not let his work be destroyed! He would not!

Desperate, he seized on the one control left in his life, the knob of the rheostat in front of him. He violently cranked it hard over, and the blue glow filled half the room, enveloping his landlady. She shrieked as she fell, the movement only ensuring her complete dissolution into a cloud of steaming dust.

Pickering was both horrified and fascinated. The effect on living flesh was so much more pronounced than it was on dead wood, and far more grotesque. Perhaps it was the steam blowing away the dust that made it work so quickly. There was no blood, as it too had been turned to powder on exposure to the field. Pickering deactivated the device and sighed in relief. The murder of his landlady had not the slightest weight upon his conscience. Indeed, he smirked as he swept up her remains with the stove brush and pan and deposited them in the ash bin. All he could think about was how he would do the same to Tully.


It was several hours later when Pickering had finally assembled his gear in the alley beside the Block and Tackle, at the end of a bitterly learned lesson about his lack of logistics skills. The Electric Pile alone was nearly more than he could carry, and all the while he worried that his cache of equipment would be discovered between trips. He resolved that once the money started coming in he would buy a cart and hire an assistant. This wish became even more fervent when he loaded the apparatus into the cavity in the back of the armor and found it impossible to don the cuirass simply due to the sheer awkward weight of it. Eventually he found some crates to balance the heavy assembly on while he wormed his way into it, then staggered to his feet. He nearly wailed out loud when he realized his helmet was still on the ground, out of his reach, until he found he could lean against the wall and bend far enough to grasp it.

Finally armored, Pickering double-checked the grounding wires between the pieces. A failure in any one of them would be disastrous. He took a deep breath. Now was the time. With a lumbering shuffle he made his way into the pub.

"Tully! Where are you, you bastard! Your time has come!"

Everyone in the pub was stunned into silence, those who couldn't see Pickering, simply by the audacity of someone calling out Tully, and those who could, by the vision of a man encased head to toe in an uneven cage of scavenged brass bits. The silence then was broken by a braying laugh from the back table. "Haw haw haw! Is that you Pickering? Or is that a parakeet pretending to be a man? I think I'd go with the parakeet, because the only Pickering I know hasn't got a parakeet's bollocks." Tully laughed again, joined by the thugs he kept at his side. The rest of the tavern joined in, after all, the most powerful man on the docks had made a joke.

Pickering braced himself. Now was his moment. "Enjoy your last laugh Tully, it won't be a long one." He reached up to his chest and twisted the rheostat.

Nothing happened.

Tully's face darkened. "Tom, Jerry, get this joke out of my sight. Throw him in the river, and make sure he sinks."

Pickering panicked as the two brutes advanced on him, and then he remembered the knife switch. Throwing it, the blue glow sprang into being around him, and a gasp resounded throughout the pub. Even the thugs paused for a moment, before one of them pulled a knife.

"Now look, Jerry, I have no quarrel with you. It's Tully I'm after. But I warn you, if you try to touch me, you'll pull back a bloody stump."

"Fuck you," shouted the thug, as he aimed to drive the knife between the bars and into Pickering's chest. He never even got close, the flesh of his arm gone the moment it entered the field, and the hilt of the knife falling mere inches before it too was gone to dust. Jerry staggered back and looked down in disbelief at the clean amputation of his arm below the elbow and the arterial blood pumping freely out of it. He screamed and clutched his hand over the stump.

Tom, being the dimmer of the two, went to tackle Pickering, and vanished as soon as he hit the field, his widely spread forearms continuing onward past him to fall to the floor beyond with a lifeless thud.

Astonishment quickly gave way to panic. Windows were smashed as the patrons fought to escape while keeping their distance from the glowing blue menace. Pickering advanced on Tully. When he moved to push the nearly catatonic Jerry out of his way, his arm passed through the man's torso, cutting him in half, minus a wide swath through the middle.

Tully cowered in the corner booth, clutching the edge of the table in a fevered and futile attempt to keep it between him and the incomprehensible glowing blue figure advancing on him. His arrogance and contempt sluiced away by a torrent of terror. "Pickering, you don't have to do this! What do you want? Your old job back? I can do that. I could even make you a foreman. If it's money you want, I can arrange that. I'll get you anything. Just tell me what you want."

Pickering strode through the table like a ghost, stopping just before the field reached Tully. The unattached rim of the table now hanging loose in his hands, Tully waved it at Pickering trying to fend him off, only to get a very close look at how anything in the field disintegrated into dust.

"All I want," said Pickering, reaching up to the rheostat, "is you, gone." And with a twist of the knob, he expanded the field, engulfing Tully and dissolving him and the rest of the booth into nothingness.


It was done. Tully was gone, reduced to a steaming smear of particles on the floor. The pub was silent except for the hum of the device. Everyone had fled. The only other traces of humanity were the two halves of Jerry, and Tom's brutish forearms. Pickering poked at them with his toe, or rather tried to, as the field erased the evidence of his crime. He didn't really think of it as a crime. Tully had been as corrupt as they come. All he had done was what the law was too afraid to do. He thought of it as cleaning up the docks. They should be thanking him. He was a hero. He should be celebrated and rewarded.

Pickering kept poking at the remains, absolutely fascinated by the way the flesh practically exploded with steam as the field swept over it. He didn't really understand why it worked the way it did, but it was so amazing to watch, he couldn't stop playing with the effect until he ran out of remains.

He was still thinking, shuffling his foot over a particularly stubborn bloodstain on the floor when the constables came in. "You there! You're under arrest for murder!" shouted one, who raised his billy club as the other two lunged for him.

Pickering put his hands up to fend them off, a tragic mistake. "No!" he shouted, but it was too late. His out-thrust arms fully penetrated the chests of the two officers trying to grapple him, and the attempted clubbing had the inevitable result, but unlike Jerry, the constable had the presence of mind to beat a hasty retreat in search of help.

His dreams of heroism dashed, his sweet victory over Tully turned to ashes in his mouth, Pickering stared at the floor and the two dead policemen and grew more and more furious.


It was nearly dawn, and at the corner closest to the Block and Tackle, Chief Constable Edmund Warren kept watch on the madman inside through a pair of binoculars. His men had cordoned off the area for two streets in all directions. Smugglers, Robbers, Murderers, these were the kinds of criminals he could deal with. Of all the places for a Mad Scientist to surface, why here?

A distinguished sounding voice behind him asked, "Are you Chief Constable Warren? One of your men directed us to you."

Without even looking at the men approaching him, Warren dismissively told them, in no uncertain terms, to bugger off.

"Ahem, I have a letter from the Queen compelling your assistance in this matter."

Warren finally turned to look at the men. The first, an older gentleman, white-bearded, bespectacled, very finely dressed with a tall hat - but with a delicate, bird-like frailty, was clearly not from the docks. But, on closer observation, he was not merely some high-society fop. There were some odd metal gadgets stuck in his pockets, and most peculiarly, a set of brass goggles perched on the rim of his hat. Behind him was a younger man, fit and clean shaven, clearly a bit further down the economic scale, in a bowler hat, with leather goggles slung around his neck, looking a bit too eager for his own good. And behind him, a burly stump of a man with a wool cap and no goggles at all, who would fit right in amongst the dock workers.

"The Queen, you say. All right Mr. Fancy Pants. I've got a mad scientist holed up in the tavern there, he's killed at least three members of the public, and two of my men who tried to capture him. A third has lost most of his arm and likely won't survive the day. We brought in a rifle squad, and their bullets can't even touch him. So you tell me how it is you plan to stop him."

"With Science, of course. The only way to fight Science is with Science."

Warren rolled his eyes and muttered, "Not another one," to himself. "All right Mister...."

"Pease, Professor Neville Pease. The young man is my apprentice, Phillip Jackson, and Mister Igorski is our porter. We represent the London chapter of the Science Vigilance Society." Warren had read about them in the Times, a small group of concerned scientists determined to counter the threat of science madness that had been ravaging the country. It struck him as a pathetic effort, an opinion not changed in the slightest by the motley assembly before him. But if they had gained Her Majesty's ear, he would have to give them a chance, but damned if he was going to let himself be dragged into their madness.

Ignoring the proffered hand, Warren raised his field glasses and turned back towards the pub half a block away. "All right Professor Pease, I'll give you your shot at the man, but if you fail, we're going back to our plan to burn him out."

"Don't you worry, Chief Constable, Science will win the day."

"Yes, but whose Science?" Warren muttered to himself in disgust.


After conducting a few quick interviews of the witnesses, the gentlemen from the Science Vigilance Society met by their equipment wagon. Professor Pease spread a large sheet of paper across the tailgate, and started methodically categorizing the data, and quizzing his apprentice at the same time. "So Mister Jackson, we have a blue field that causes things to dissolve, what is your first impression?"

"It sounds a lot like Anderson's Atomizer. Particularly the way it produces what appears to be elemental dust."

"Good, but as you know Anderson's device is characterized by a red beam, not a blue field, and its action is much slower than what we've heard from our witnesses."

"I was getting to that. It sounds like Anderson's, but clearly on a different level. The Atomizer breaks down matter to individual atoms, many of which are ionized and ready to react again. If this man is inside his field, even in some kind of null zone provided by the Faraday cage he's wearing, well, he still needs to breathe, and were it an Anderson Field, he couldn't survive the reaction of monatomic oxygen and other gasses in the air as it breaks down. I theorize it merely operates at the molecular level, breaking the bonds of compounds, but leaving the molecules assembled. That would take far less energy and operate a lot faster."

"Excellent reasoning, my boy. So, what we need now is a plan to defeat this device. Unfortunately, we can't wait him out. He's carrying one of the most enormous batteries I've ever heard of. If he hadn't been a dock worker, he would surely be paralyzed by the weight. If only Farnberg's Gravity Lens had been feasible, we could sink him to the center of the Earth."

"That was the other peculiar thing I noticed. One would think his field would have eaten through the floor of the tavern by now, but when I chanced a look into the window, I saw the floor was thickly covered in dust where he was walking, and the field seemed to flow over it."

"Mister Jackson! How often have I warned you against approaching these madmen? Your impetuousness will be the end of you!"

"You've told me far more often about the importance of direct observation in the practice of Science."

"Touché, and yes, I see the importance of your observation. I surmise that the field can not further obliterate matter it has already broken down into its individual molecules, and may be blocked by them. But without cohesion, I'm not sure how that can be of use to us, unless we plan to powder him into submission."

"Perhaps the Chief Constable is right, burning him out might be the best way."

Pease gave his protege a cross look. "London has had enough great fires in its history. I will not be party to another one."

"Then we should add 'No Property Damage' to the solutions chart, right?"

"'Minimize' will do. The chart is for the achievable if it is to be a success."

Igorski could never make heads nor tails of the charts the scientists kept making for their plans. The Professor said it helped them avoid overlooking important details, but with all the odd boxes and arrows and other symbology the Professor seemed to invent on the fly, it seemed to him that it was running out of ink that caused him to finally act. The Professor insisted that it was necessary to keep one's mind disciplined to avoid the madness that Science has caused in so many brilliant men, but Igorski wasn't entirely sure it had worked. Nevertheless, they paid well.

Finally, they settled on a plan. "Igorski, fire up the boiler, we're going to need the generator running in the next fifteen minutes." Igorski quickly looked at the tailgate, and indeed, the inkwell was dry.

While Igorski tended the boiler that drove the steam engine that powered the small dynamo on the cart, Pease dispatched Jackson to draft several of the constables into digging out the cobblestones at either end of the block around the trolley tracks that ran in front of the pub. The horse-drawn trolleys had been re-routed in light of the situation. They would need to be re-routed for some time longer after Jackson used small quantities of thermite to sever the rails. Heavy cables were run from the equipment that the Professor had been configuring to the ends of the rails nearest the wagon where Jackson stood by with enormous rubber gloves, ready to connect them at the proper moment.

Pease patted him on the shoulder, "You know what to do?"

"Yes, but how are you going to get him to walk into our trap?"

"It's all a matter of Psychology, my boy. All Mads have certain desires in common, wealth and power, for example, but chief among them all is the desire for recognition of their genius from their peers. I intend to use that against him."

"It's funny how none of them seem to realize they're being manipulated."

"All conversation is manipulation, my boy, some of it more subtle than others, and some of it we welcome. We use words to get other people to do for us what we want. Most anger and violence stems from being unable to get others to bend to our wills. I expect the fellow in there was driven by that, given the nature of his crime. But now that he's achieved his goal, he may be in a suggestible state." Pease strode off down the street, saying, "And now we shall see."

Jackson sighed, he was well past bristling when the Professor called him "boy," and he accepted it as one of the man's eccentricities (and after all, don't all men of Science have them?) but it seemed that he would never achieve what he wanted most, the Professor's respect. Oh, to be sure, the Professor did hold him in a certain esteem, otherwise he would not be his assistant, but after all the time they had been working together, his knowledge of science had grown far more than the Professor seemed to give him credit for. Just then, he caught himself. He knew what could have come next, a declaration that he would "Show them all!" and command their respect with some outrageous demonstration of his brilliance. But the Professor's training in mental hygiene stopped him from starting down the path of Science Madness. "True greatness lies in the advancement of Science itself, not in the advancement of any one man," he would say. The temptation had led far greater men than he astray.

It was this, and this alone that had led to the creation of the Science Vigilance Society. The very name of Science was becoming as tarnished as that of Alchemy with the ever growing numbers of men who became overwhelmed with the potential of their discoveries and turned into sociopathic madmen, bent on everything from world domination to the extinction of mankind. Normal methods of law enforcement were ineffective against these twisted geniuses. The police, intelligence services, even the military were not equipped to deal with these threats. The S.V.S. was.

In his reverie, Jackson missed hearing what it was the Professor had said to the madman in the pub, but it was obvious that he had chosen the path of anger over that of flattery. The Professor was jumping back rapidly as the glowing blue figure emerged through the door of the pub, literally, leaving a gingerbread man-shaped cavity. Their quarry staggered under the weight of his equipment towards Pease in a single-minded effort to add him to the list of casualties.

"I wasn't trying to steal your invention, you fool! I was merely trying to ascertain if you even knew how it worked!"

"I'll show you how it works the moment I lay hands on you!" shouted Pickering as he clumsily stomped towards the Professor.

"Jackson! Now!" shouted the Professor the instant Pickering stood between the rails. Jackson was already moving. Huge arcs of electricity leapt from the cables to the rails as he connected the clamps. The rails crackled with jumping electric sparks which soon converged on the figure of Pickering, dancing over the surface of his blue field with blazing white spiderwebs of lightning. The arcs pulled at the field, stretching it downward, which in turn pulled Pickering downwards.

"What - What are you doing? What's happening?"

Pease allowed himself a moment to gloat, "It's a simple Levitt-Vark field manipulation. Surely any Man of Science worth his salt would know about it."

Pickering growled, and reached for the rheostat. Giving it a twist, his field enlarged like a balloon, stretching the containment web to its limits. Jumping backward, Pease found himself trapped in a shallow doorway, while Pickering fought against the resistance pulling him down. The edges of the doorway began dissolving into powder.

"Igorski! More power!" shouted Jackson, who looked on in horror as he realized that the rails were beginning to dissolve under the influence of the field. Soon, the madman would be free of their trap, and unstoppable. He had to save his mentor.

Igorski, for his part, grabbed an ax and whacked the governor clean off the top of the steam engine, sending it freewheeling. The steam wouldn't last much longer at the rate it was being consumed, but the dynamo held, and the power surged through the rails, dragging Pickering back to the middle of the street. Pease was too terrified by his brush with doom to move from the doorway, but Jackson was consumed with an urgent need to act.

Grabbing a fire bucket and dunking it in a nearby horse trough, Jackson advanced on the electrical hellstorm. He pitched the bucket at the back of Pickering's head, where it promptly disappeared, but the mass of water, already in its pure molecular state, merely exploded into a cloud of steam, steam dense enough that it briefly opened up a gap in the blue field. Jackson reached in, mindless of the hot steam scorching his face, and grabbed for something, anything that he could get his rubber gloved hands on, and yanked.

The grounding wire connecting the helmet to the rest of the suit came free in his hand, and the effect was immediate. The blue molecularizing field that was outside the armor inverted and was contained entirely inside the armor now. Pickering vanished before he could even scream.

The Professor joined Jackson looking down at the now empty armor, and the blue glow that suffused its interior. But before they could decide on a course of action, the field consumed enough of the circuitry inside that it simply ceased to function. A stream of battery acid ran down the cobblestones in lieu of blood.

Pease put one hand on Jackson's shoulder, the other was still clutching at his heart. "I do believe I owe you my life, young man. That was an inspired application of science. How did you know that the water would breach the field like that?"

"I didn't. At best, I was hoping for a short circuit. But then the opportunity presented itself, and I thought that my gloves, being such a complex molecule, might give me a moment's protection."

Pease chuckled. "You always were a man of action, Jackson. Now let's get this mess put away - our job here isn't finished." He turned back towards the cart. "Igorski! Get this armor loaded into the cart. We'll examine it back at the institute."

As Jackson and Igorski finished loading the last of the equipment back into the cart, Chief Constable Warren approached the men. "I must say, I am impressed. I've seen scientists do battle before. It's a terrifying sight. This was different."

Pease gave Warren a curious look.

"I was at Croyden when Mansfield and Hampton went at it. It still gives me nightmares."

Pease nodded sagely. "I remember that day too. And I've sworn to devote my life to preventing that kind of tragedy from ever happening again." Hundreds had died as two madmen squared off to prove whose weapon was horrible enough to make war unthinkable. It hadn't worked for Puckle, Gatling, or Nobel, and it hadn't worked for those two either. Fortunately at the end, they destroyed each other, but not before leveling half the city.

Warren shook off the memories. "Well, you've done it here. Please forgive my earlier skepticism."

Pease waved his hands. "Not at all, I understand. Science has a terrible reputation to overcome."

Jackson interjected, "Say, do you know who this fellow was? I think we need to secure his lab next."

Warren cleared his throat. "Yes, that's actually what I came here to tell you. His name was Gerry Pickering, and he rented an attic four streets down from here. I have a man posted in front of it."


The gentlemen picked through the few belongings strewn about the cramped attic. Pease expressed his consternation at the lack of evidence. "This doesn’t make any sense. Where are the models? Where are the prototypes? There's nothing here but the scraps from his final assembly and a cheap Galvanometer that doesn't even seem to be properly calibrated. Mind that ash can, Igorski, I think that's our missing landlady."

Pawing though a stack of papers stashed under the workbench, Jackson came up with a small bundle, and started paging through them. "Professor, I've found his drawings.... That's odd, these plans, they seem to be printed."

"Let me see.... You're right! There's something very wrong about this whole set-up."

"I've found something else," said Jackson, holding up a small pamphlet. Reading from it, he said, "A short treatise on how the study of Science transformed the miserable wretch Mac into a paragon of mankind, by Doctor Charles Atlas."

"Atlas!" exclaimed the Professor. "Good God he's done it. He's selling Mad Science in kits! Do you know what this means?"

Jackson waited for the Professor to answer his own question.

"We're going to have to recruit."
This one I'm toying with sending to Asimov's rather than releasing on DA first.

Small updates 9/29/12

11/28/12 Major changes, including a new title thanks to Taral's suggestions. Re-uploading was made a pain in the butt. I had reformatted the original story heavily because Stash's text editor worked differently than the main DA one, but they apparently changed it back, and since I lost automatic indents, I had to switch back to double-spaced paragraphs, which Open Office makes difficult, since you can't search and replace on carriage returns.

12/25/12 Final tweaks, I think. Reading it out loud was pretty cool, and lead to a few fixes to the language. Plus an even better title.

12/28/12 Well, I did it, I pulled the trigger on it. Just finished the electronic Submission to Asimov's. 5 Weeks to three months, later, I should know if it's been rejected. My "Cover letter" is in the comments.

2/7/13 And Rejected. As I expected, which gives me full license to go my own way, turn my back on traditional publishing, and go indie.
© 2013 - 2022 Mauser712
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BannerVT's avatar
I really liked this story and it is a shame Asimov wouldn't publish it. Guess they're not much into steam-punk.