Halstead looked surprised. “You can set it to the time?”
“And maybe even second, Colonel,” Wally replied. “We’ve refined our techniques since your last visit.”
“Fine.” Halstead looked down at the floor with thoughts. “The eleventh hour.”
“The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month coming right up,” Wally replied as he started for the steel ladder that led to a platform level with the top of the chromium cube but still below a training capsule left over from the Mercury program, a conical vessel which hung above the center of the cube and on the end of a crane.
“Men, follow him up there,” Halstead instructed to his party, and the ladder clanged with the steps of eleven pairs of boots. “I see you know your history, Mister Bayer,” he called out, with a raise of his voice, to the graduate student halfway up the twenty foot climb.
“A man’s got to have his hobbies, Colonel,” Wally replied as he set both feet on the platform and turned around to survey the scene below him. He stared at Halstead’s M-16 trained on him and remarked, “I hope you’re not going to shoot me.”
“Not if you do what I say, Mister Bayer. Just get started on that programming.”
“I hope you’ve given me enough time.” Wally now gripped the railing running along the edge of the platform and watched the eleven overweight, rucksacked, and heavily-breathing companions of Halstead’s slowly top the ladder and join him on the platform.
“You’ll have plenty of time. That bomb threat was just a means of making sure your friends run as far away as possible.”
Wally turned from Halstead, the Box, and the railing to begin the activation process. “It’ll take a pair of minutes,” he shouted out for everyone’s benefit. “The creation of the proper quantum state takes a tremendous amount of energy.”
Alternity, Chapter I: