Rebirth Excerpt

Chapter 1: Dilemma

I see that everyone has arrived. Hello, my name is Janelli. I am the head of the support staff,” she said as two androids came over to the group. “Please deactivate the ‘follow’ function on your suitcases so they won’t get in the way during the tour. The androids will take them to your apartments.”

As soon as the suitcases were deactivated the androids picked them up and took them down the hallway. A second later, Janelli began the tour.

While the actual size of the labs in the North varied depending on their specific applications, the configuration of each lab was the same. In the front of the lab was the area reserved for the support staff, vendors who were hired to take care of the housekeeping and administrative needs of the lab. The desks belonging to the four humans were aligned along the long reception counter. There they monitored the androids’ work, ordered the supplies and catered to the needs of the assistants and the owners. Janelli’s desk was raised higher than the others and was located at the right end of the counter near the entrance of the lab. Apartments for the support staff were in an area behind the reception counter. The ten androids spent their time cooking, cleaning, and performing the daily maintenance needed to keep the lab running smoothly. Their downtime was spent in their holding area which stood to the left side of the reception counter. The offices of the owner and the junior owner were on the left side of the lab.

The lab core stood in the center of the lab. The left side of the lab core, which sat across from the offices, was the main lab. The main lab could be split into two or three smaller labs. Three auxiliary labs made up the right side of the lab core. All of the labs could be sealed off within five seconds if any biohazards were released. Also, all of the equipment in the lab core was housed within the walls and could be retrieved by voice command when it was time to work. Across the hall from the auxiliary labs were a cafeteria and a recreation room. The recreation room used virtual reality to simulate any environment for fitness or relaxation. At the back of the building, the owner, junior owner and each assistant had his own apartment. All of the apartments were configured that same way as well: they had a main room and a bathroom. The main room had a bed and a kitchenette.

Janelli then turned around and looked at the assistants. “If there are any issues, everything should be relayed to the junior owner or to me. Only the androids and I are allowed in the rest of the lab. Also don’t enter the back part of our area. If no one is at the counter, please summon me. Do not remove any of the experiments from the lab core to prevent contamination. Dr. Ricker wants to see all of you in the cafeteria in one hour.”

All of the assistants went to their assigned rooms to unpack while Janelli went back to her desk. An hour later the assistants and Janelli met in the cafeteria for their first staff meeting. None of the assistants knew what to expect as they waited for Dr. Ricker to come. Soon he arrived with a big grin on his face.

Good Morning, everyone,” Dr. Ricker said.

Good morning, sir,” everyone replied.

Welcome to my lab. I see that you don’t have any luggage so you’ve obviously done the tour. The next order of business is to talk about the winner of the junior owner position. Like many of my colleagues, I decided to have a contest to choose my successor. I couldn’t be happier with the result. Klov, please come here.”

Klov looked back at Dr. Ricker in shock. Dr. Ricker didn’t previously disclose that the winner of the contest would become the junior owner. All Klov knew was he would be working for him. Klov then began to look around and saw the shocked faces of his colleagues staring back at him. He reluctantly got up and stood beside Dr. Ricker.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Cyrus Klov, the new junior owner,” Dr. Ricker announced.

As the words left Dr. Ricker’s mouth, envy welled up in all of the assistants except for one. She continued to stare back at him in shock. Klov then looked over at Janelli who looked back at him just as shocked as the assistants. Janelli smiled back at him apprehensively hoping her team wouldn’t be replaced too soon. Dr. Ricker then assigned the assistants their projects.

Even though Klov was the junior owner it didn’t mean that his work load was lighter. On the contrary, he had to do his share of the experiments and work with Dr. Ricker to learn about how to manage a lab. During the first week, most of the other assistants made life as difficult as they possibly could for him. They would lock him out of the labs, deliberately set things on fire and tamper with his food and his work. Klov soon found concentrating arduous. As a result he sometimes didn’t complete his lab work. When it was complete, it didn’t make any sense. The other assistants decided to leave him alone thinking that he would destroy his own career. One night the assistant who didn’t hate him found Klov in the main lab drowning in despair because he couldn’t get a formula to work. He sat on the floor with his head in his hands and his elbows on his knees. The assistant calmly walked over to him and knelt before him.

It looks like you had a bad day,” she said gently.

Klov looked up at her for a moment, confused that she would speak to him.

You’re probably dehydrated. Here, take this,” she said handing him her flask.

Klov looked at her suspiciously.

Go on, there’s nothing wrong with it,” she insisted.

He took her flask and took a few sips. He was pleasantly surprised at the cold contents within.

You can drink all of it. I’ll just get more,” the assistant said smiling.

Klov smiled back and then drank until the flask was empty. “Thanks, I really needed that,” Klov said giving her back her flask. “I didn’t expect juice to be in it.”

I like my juice cold,” she said as she smiled. “My name is Agatha Sorensen.”

I know. You were the valedictorian of your graduating class. Why are you being nice to me?”

I’m not as near-sighted as the others. They make such a fuss over trivial things.”

I wouldn’t call the situation trivial,” Klov said as he lean his head against the wall.

The others are being childish. The owners can choose whoever they want no matter how much we try to get noticed. Dr. Ricker chose you. The others have to accept that. There are other labs.”

Klov looked back at her puzzled. “But Dr. Ricker is the best. Shouldn’t he have chosen the best?”

Sorensen looked back at him puzzled. “You of all people must believe you are the best. If you weren’t you wouldn’t be the junior owner.”

Klov sighed. “I think he made a mistake.”

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Now what are you working on?”

You’re going to help me?”

Yes. We may find out we have similar goals,” she said smiling eager to discover his skills.

Klov mimicked her response relieved that he now had a chance of saving his career.

He stood up and helped Sorensen to her feet. They then went over to his station and worked on the experiment until sunrise. While they worked Sorensen became fascinated by Klov’s imagination. She began to see why he was chosen and how being creative could benefit her. She decided to make a pact with him agreeing to help him with the formulas if he would help her with the ideas. Klov quickly agreed.

A few months later, Klov and Sorensen came up with two new innovations. The assistants took notice and tried to sabotage their experiments, but it didn’t work. Sorensen and Klov got into the habit of checking their work before they submitted it to Dr. Ricker. Ten years and thirty innovations later, Klov and Sorensen received their doctor titles, a title given to a scientist or engineer who had proven their ability. Dr. Klov and Dr. Sorensen created one hundred more innovations over the next ten years. Now they were eligible to own their own labs. Since the leaders of the North prevented more than one lab with the same specialty to be in the same sector, Dr. Klov knew his best friend would have to leave soon. Before she brought up the subject, Dr. Klov went to see her. He found her working late one night in one of the auxiliary labs. He stood next to the door for a few moments trying to figure out what to say.

Is something bothering you, Cyrus?” Dr. Sorensen asked as she glanced in his direction.

You need to leave the lab,” Dr. Klov said.

Dr. Sorensen sighed and stopped working. She looked down.

You’re a brilliant chemist and can do much more if you leave,” he said as he walked over to her. “You’re being held back here. I’m holding you back here. You need to leave and start your own lab. I did some research and . . .”

Dr. Sorensen held up her right hand. “Before you continue, I need to inform you of something.” She looked into his eyes. “I’m leaving at the end of the week.”

Dr. Klov was disappointed but tried his best to smile. “That’s great. Where are you going?”

The sector is called Vega. It’s about one hundred miles southwest of here.”

A hundred miles, huh.”

I’ll still be just a call away,” she assured him as they both wondered how they would each work alone after being such an effective team.

When the end of the week came, Dr. Ricker allowed everyone to take an extra break. The other assistants chose to continue working as if it were any other day while Dr. Ricker, Dr. Klov and the human members of the support team recalled their favorite stories about Dr. Sorensen over cake and drinks.

Dr. Sorensen, this lab won’t be the same without you. I owe my current success to you and Dr. Klov,” Dr. Ricker said as he grinned. “I’m sad to see you go, but I’m eager to see what new innovations you and your new team will come up with.”

Everyone clapped as the head of the support staff retrieved a small blue bag from a nearby table.

This is a little something from all of us,” the head of the support staff said.

Thank you,” Dr. Sorensen said as she took the gift. She faced the others. “Thank you, everyone.”

The support staff and Dr. Ricker hugged Dr. Sorensen and then returned to work. A moment later Dr. Klov escorted her out of the lab with her suitcase following close behind. Beyond the front doors was the main hallway for the ground floor of the building. On the left side of the hallway were the entrance and exit tunnels for the elevators of the building. On the right were the entrance and exit tunnels for the moving sidewalks that carried people into the nearby buildings. In front of them was the platform for transports that would take her to the inter-sector trains or the IST. They walked over to the security line that was a few feet in front of the ticketing gate.

I’ll let you know when I get there,” Dr. Sorensen said looking back at Dr. Klov.

Dr. Klov nodded.

Cyrus, this is not the end. I’m just a call away.”

I know, but it won’t be the same,” Dr. Klov said as the transport arrived. Sighing deeply he added, “I guess it’s time to go.”

Goodbye, Cyrus,” she said as they embraced.

Goodbye, Agatha,” he said sadly as he held on to her a moment longer.

She walked over to the ticketing gate as her luggage followed her. As the gate scanned the implant in her right forearm to verify her identification and travel information, her luggage was scanned by its own gate as it rolled through it. Once they got to the transport Dr. Sorensen climbed into the back seat. The luggage extended its four tentacles as it retracted its wheels. It then climbed into the open trunk of the transport and retracted its tentacles as the trunk closed. A few seconds later the transport rose from the platform, hovered for a few moments and started forward. It soon vanished from sight. Dr. Klov lingered for a few moments and then went back into the lab. Later on he and Dr. Sorensen spent the night talking as he helped her to get settled.

The next morning Dr. Klov wearily came into the lab and began his work. Surprisingly, the others didn’t try to torture him that day or ever again. Instead they concentrated on producing what few innovations they could while Dr. Klov continued to produce many. On several occasions, it was Dr. Klov’s work that kept everyone employed. Labs that didn’t produce enough work were given to other lab owners with their own teams. One by one the assistants left to work with other doctors or pursue other interests. Most of them believed that they were going to be replaced anyway since Dr. Klov’s work now overshadowed Dr. Ricker’s. As the number of assistants decreased Dr. Klov and Dr. Sorensen spoke less and less as they concentrated more on their work.

Eight months after the last assistant left, Dr. Ricker retired and a party was held for him. The support staff took care of all of the arrangements. Dr. Klov was curious about what Dr. Ricker would do next since the rule of the North still applied: Everyone had to contribute. Lab owners had to retire when they couldn’t produce any innovations for six consecutive months. Dr. Klov thought that Dr. Ricker would be upset. Instead he was jovial as his many colleagues shared their favorite stories and talked about his achievements. As the celebration continued, Dr. Ricker’s colleagues discussed the conferences and consulting jobs that filled their lives making Dr. Klov excited about the future. After the celebration was over, Dr. Ricker left with his colleagues. His luggage extended its wheels and followed his personal android attendant who carried his keepsakes. Dr. Klov watched them leave and then turned around and looked at the lab. Now he was the owner. He looked around for the head of the current support staff, Jessia, and saw that she already went back to her desk. As he walked over to her, she looked up at him.

What can I do for you, sir?” Jessia asked with smile.

Tell me, do you like working here?” he asked.

Of course, sir,” Jessia said.

I want to make a deal with you. I want you and your staff to stay here and work for me until I retire.”

She looked back at him shocked.

I know that it’s not normal, but I have no reason to replace you. Your team has been the best support team we’ve ever have in this lab. I like to keep people I can count on. Does that sound reasonable?”

Yes, sir.”

Please alter the contract and I’ll sign it.”

Right away, sir,” Jessia said as she got to work. “Oh, Dr. Klov, the files of the candidates are on your desk for you to review.”

Dr. Klov sighed. “Right, the assistants.”

Dr. Klov went to his office, sat down and retrieved the files of the candidates. Three-dimensional projections of the files floated above his desk. He began flipping through them and sighed. He hated going through the process, but he knew it was necessary. He couldn’t continue to produce innovations on his own nor did he have the desire. He wanted to pass on his knowledge to someone who loved chemistry as much as he did and could take the North to the next level. Unfortunately finding that person would be nearly impossible. Since the government monitored the labs, the officials did what they could to influence the pool of candidates owners could pick from. Dr. Klov only received the applications of the top one percent of the graduates since he had the highest producing lab in the sector. The candidates were great in their research but had no vision. Most of the teams that Dr. Klov chose were complete disappointments. They were more interested in making a name for themselves than learning to make viable innovations for the North.

Those that were in Dr. Klov’s first team left after five years to work for other doctors. They got tired of Dr. Klov telling them the errors of their work and refused his help to fix them. Dr. Klov had to suffer through two more teams who each only lasted five years before he demanded to choose his team his way. Because of his status and his ability to still produce many innovations the government officials reluctantly allowed him to proceed. Dr. Klov found them a week later and produced ten new innovations in the weeks afterwards. Dr. Klov’s new team (Marx, Williams, Holleen and Sarasin) were very eager to learn everything they could from him, but they weren’t perfect. It took them a year to get used to the rapid succession of Dr. Klov’s ideas. At the beginning of the second year they were able to make small adjustments to the experiments through collaboration which pleased Dr. Klov. Halfway through the second year, Sarasin showed more potential than the others. Dr. Klov began giving her private lessons which she was excited to attend.

After the first three months of the third year, Dr. Klov stopped coming up with new work. During the first week it was a relief because it gave the assistants time to catch up. After the second week the team became concerned. Two days later before she started her day, Sarasin went to check on Dr. Klov who hadn’t made an appearance in the past five days. She went over to his office and knocked on the door. When he didn’t answer she carefully opened the door and peaked inside.

Sir,” Sarasin called as she knocked on the door again.

Dr. Klov sat with his back to the door. He stared at an ancient painting of the sector deep in thought. Back then Dolpul was one of the underground sanctuaries of the Far North. It had a series of tunnels that snaked through it. In those tunnels were areas marked for different applications. There were areas where edible roots and subterranean animals were located, areas the people used for sleeping, areas used for meetings and the singular tunnel they used to get to the surface. The map also displayed areas that were blocked off because of hazards. He developed a habit of staring at the painting a year ago when the ideas didn’t come so easily. When the ideas refused to flow, Dr. Klov felt that he had to go back to the beginning. The other times it worked after a few days. This time he still had difficulty. He began to worry that he had nothing left.

Good morning, sir,” Sarasin said.

Dr. Klov continued to stare at the painting.

Sarasin came into the room and then cleared her throat. Dr. Klov didn’t respond.

Good morning, sir,” Sarasin repeated.

Dr. Klov still didn’t hear her.

Sarasin giggled and she walked over to him. “Sir?”

Dr. Klov suddenly noticed her and jumped. “Sarasin, you startled me,” he said as he snapped out of his trance.

Good morning, sir. I’ve been trying to get your attention for the past few minutes. Everyone is waiting,” Sarasin said as she smiled.

Okay, I’ll be there.”

Sir, are you alright?”

Yes,” he said straightening up. “Why do you ask?”

Well, first, you’ve been staring at your painting again and second, I can tell you haven’t gotten any sleep again.”

Give me a moment to freshen up. I’ll be out.”

Okay, sir,” Sarasin said. She left his office and rejoined her colleagues in the main lab. An hour later Dr. Klov walked into the room.

Sir, do you have a new project for us?” Marx asked.

Unfortunately, I don’t,” Dr. Klov said.

The assistants looked back at Dr. Klov disappointed.

I thought you would have had something by now,” Marx said. “We’re almost done with our old projects. Are we going to have any new work?”

Any of you could come up with a project. Do you have any ideas?”

The assistants looked at him apprehensively.

I can’t be the one responsible for the ideas all of the time. You’re my assistants. At some point one of you is going to take over.”

That will probably be Sarasin,” Marx said.

It may not be me,” Sarasin said blushing, “It could be any of us.”

Dr. Klov smiled. “All of you are still in the running. The fact still remains that one of you is going to take my place as the owner of the lab one day. I’m not going to be here forever. So, do any of you have any ideas on what we’re going to discover next?”

Sarasin went over to the right corner of one of the empty wall. There the control panel, a thin strip of buttons, sat halfway up the wall. She pressed a button to increase the opacity of the wall and then activated the television. A moment later a large area of the wall began transmitting a channel. She retrieved one of the control gloves that she would sometimes use for gaming and began flipping through channels by turning her right wrist. The others looked at her puzzled.

What are you doing?” Holleen asked.

I’m looking for something, anything inspirational,” Sarasin said as she continued to flip through channels.

Why are you looking at what other people have done? We’re supposed to be on the cutting edge. We’re supposed to think outside the box,” Holleen commented.

Sometimes looking at what people have already done helps you to think about things that haven’t been done,” Sarasin replied.

It’s hard to come up with something as brilliant as Vocam,” Williams commented. “Something really brilliant would be better than Vocam, but who could do that? Everything runs on Vocam.”

Yeah, you know it would be scary if there was some crisis and we couldn’t use Vocam anymore,” Marx commented.

Maybe we should do a sustainability analysis on Vocam,” Dr. Klov suggested.

The assistants moaned.

Dr. Klov, why should we bother? Everybody knows that Vocam is sustainable. That’s already been proven,” Marx said.

It’s a waste of our efforts,” Holleen complained.

Well, no one has any other ideas. This gives us something to do in the meantime. Perhaps through the analysis we can figure out something better,” Dr. Klov said.

The assistants reluctantly agreed.

Dr. Klov submitted the needed report to the government officials to let them know what he and his team were doing. He was very careful to mention that the analysis was just “busy work” and that his team needed a little downtime. He promised that they would be coming up with ten new innovations in the next two weeks to cover for loss of time. Dr. Klov knew that he and his team were finishing seven innovations that the government officials didn’t know about yet, so he reasoned that they should be able to come up with the other three by then. He also assured the government officials that he expects there to be no adverse findings. The government officials were not happy with Dr. Klov’s report. As he expected they told him that it was a waste of time and resources. However, because of his past work they would allow it. They also demanded that Dr. Klov and his team create twenty new innovations in three weeks. Dr. Klov sighed as he looked at the message. He sat back in his chair, turned around and began staring at his painting.

***

A week later Sarasin rushed over to Dr. Klov’s office and knocked on the door. When he didn’t answer she peeked into the office and saw him staring at his painting. She sighed as she went inside and stood in front of him. Dr. Klov was startled.

I’m sorry, sir, but we need you to come and look at this,” Sarasin said with fear in her eyes.

Dr. Klov immediately got up and followed Sarasin to the main lab where the data was displayed on one of the walls.

We did the analysis and found some very alarming results,” Sarasin explained.

Okay,” Dr. Klov said as he looked back at her.

Our supply of Vocam is being depleted.”

Depleted, isn’t it being renewed?” Dr. Klov said as he turned and looked at the data.

The consumption is far greater than the renewal rate. We are running out of energy.”

Dr. Klov began shaking his head as he continued to review the data. “It can’t be. It’s impossible,” he said under his breath.

We checked everybody’s work four times and found the same result every time. I also looked at the record. The last time a sustainability analysis was done was when Vocam was created.”

That long ago?” Dr. Klov asked as he glanced at Sarasin.

Yes, sir. Since then the population of the North has grown exponentially.”

Dr. Klov continued to look at the data and shake his head in disbelief as his team looked at him nervously.

Sir,” Sarasin said. “What do we do now?”

Think of something to research and do the experiment or find something to keep yourselves busy. I need time to go over this,” he said as he looked at everyone. Dr. Klov then touched the wall, gathered the data and slid it to the top of the wall, sending it to his desk. He walked out of the main lab and went back to his office. Once he got there, he went inside and closed the door. “How could they have been so careless? They should have been monitoring it,” he said in frustration as he walked over to his desk and sat down. “Computer, contact Dr. Agatha Sorensen. Display image on desk.”

Yes, Dr. Klov,” the computer responded.

A moment later, a holographic image of Dr. Sorensen’s head and shoulders appeared on his desk. “Good morning, Cyrus. This is unusual.” Dr. Sorensen said as she looked at Dr. Klov. “Are you okay?”

I’m sending you data that I need you to look over immediately. Please check the results and redo the analysis.”

Has something happened?”

Just do the analysis and inform me of your findings.”

Okay,” Dr. Sorensen agreed and then ended the transmission.

Dr. Klov sat in his office and did the analysis himself repeatedly for several hours. The results were all the same. At that moment a torrent of ideas came to Dr. Klov. He reluctantly entered them into the lab’s workflow program and sent them out to his team. He didn’t want to continue working without solving the crisis, but he knew he couldn’t do anything without help. He hoped that the analysis was somehow wrong and Dr. Sorensen would find the flaw as she had done for him several times before. Dr. Klov paused for a moment and thought about his team. He soon realized that he had to get them focused on work to prevent them from being consumed with a problem they couldn’t currently solve. A few minutes later he found them in the cafeteria talking about the analysis and how awful the North would be without Vocam.

Team, I sent the results of the analysis to a colleague for review. In the meantime we have work. There’s plenty to keep us busy for a while. You can start in a few hours.”

Yes, sir,” the assistants replied reluctantly. All of them wanted to help solve the crisis, but they knew if Dr. Klov didn’t have any ideas about it they shouldn’t ask.

A couple of weeks later Dr. Sorensen contacted Dr. Klov. He looked at his right forearm and touched his thumb to his middle and ring fingers to answer. A hologram of Dr. Sorensen’s head and shoulders appeared on his desk.

Cyrus, I went over the data and found the same results. I also enlisted the help of a few of my trusted colleagues and they also found the same results. They in turn sought the help of others and are getting mixed results now. Some people are saying the original results were tainted, some are saying that they were accurate.”

What do you think, Agatha?” Dr. Klov asked. “You did the analysis yourself.”

It seems that some are trying to bury the truth. I hate to admit it, Cyrus, but the crisis is real. What do we do now?”

Dr. Klov sighed. “We have to go to our leaders and tell them what we found. Maybe we can get them to scale back Vocam use or to switch some of the systems to nuclear energy.”

They won’t like that at all.”

None of us like it, but we have no choice. We are talking about the lives of billions. It’s better to scale back use now than to completely run out.”

Yes, I agree. We have to tell our leaders. I’ll let everyone know about our decision. Hopefully they will listen,” Dr. Sorensen said.

Thanks, Agatha.”

Dr. Sorensen nodded and then ended the transmission.

Dr. Klov immediately put in a request to have a meeting in person with the government officials of Dolpul. The request was denied. He then resent the request weekly, each time telling them that the matter was urgent. After four months the government officials accepted Dr. Klov’s request, but the meeting would be virtual and for only thirty minutes. The assistants then got to work creating the presentation. Five minutes before the set meeting time, everyone gathered into Dr. Klov’s office and waited while he contacted the government officials. Twenty minutes later, they were displayed on one of the walls of Dr. Klov’s office. The assistants then presented the information during the next twenty-five minutes using holographic charts and visual aids to make it easy to understand. After they were finished Dr. Klov added a few words to endorse what his team had said. A moment later, the government officials began giggling.

Head Chairman, I don’t understand what’s so amusing,” Dr. Klov said angrily.

Dr. Klov, Vocam will never be depleted. This is a simple fact. When it was created the Desyne made sure that it was sustainable. Plus your own colleagues have done the same analysis you did and found different results. We have plenty of Vocam for now and the future,” the Head Chairman of Dolpul said.

Head Chairman, with all due respect, those recent results are erroneous. There are others that can confirm my findings. Please don’t ignore the warning that we’re giving you today. The potential consequences are far too great. We need to start making plans to convert back to nuclear energy.”

The government officials began to laugh at Dr. Klov. Anger grew within him as he looked back at them.

It seems that your large imagination is getting the best of you, Dr. Klov,” the Head Chairman said. “You’ve wasted enough time with this. You need to return to your work.”

Dr. Klov stormed out of the room. His assistants looked back at the government officials who were laughing and telling jokes as the transmission ended. They then looked at each other not sure what to do.

Let me go find him,” Sarasin said. She left the office and searched for Dr. Klov in the main lab, the auxiliary labs and in the cafeteria. She then went to his apartment and was about to knock when she saw that the door wasn’t completely closed. Slowly she pushed the door open and went inside. Dr. Klov was sitting on his bed with his head in his hands and his elbows on his knees as he stared at the floor. A moment later, he looked up and noticed Sarasin. They stared at each other for a moment before Dr. Klov looked back at the floor.

Come in, Sarasin,” he said barely above a whisper.

Sarasin crept inside and gently closed the door. She stood near it as she looked at him afraid. Never before had she seen him this upset.

I take it the others are waiting for me,” Dr. Klov said.

Yes, sir,” Sarasin said.

Dr. Klov sighed and sat up. “Tell me something, Sarasin. If I wanted to have a secret meeting, how would I do it?”

Sarasin looked at Dr. Klov puzzled. “I imagine you would have to leave the labs. But the government monitors everything.”

Dr. Klov sighed. “Yes, I suppose they do. Computer, contact Dr. Agatha Sorensen.”

Yes, Dr. Klov,” the computer responded.

Do you wish me to leave, sir?” Sarasin asked.

No, Sarasin, you can stay. Have a seat,” Dr. Klov said as he gestured towards a chair that he had at the foot of his bed.

Sarasin walked over to the chair slowly and sat down. Dr. Sorensen’s full body hologram appeared in the room in front of Dr. Klov. She looked at him with sympathy and then noticed Sarasin.

I didn’t expect you to be in your apartment at this time of the day or with company,” Dr. Sorensen said as she looked back at Dr. Klov. “You must have had a rough day too.”

They humiliated me, Agatha,” Dr. Klov said as he looked at the hologram.

Dr. Sorensen sighed and then sat down on the bed beside him. “They did the same to me and the others. Every single government official we warned failed to listen. Not one of them believed what was presented.”

We need to have a meeting with everyone that wants to help. I just don’t know where to do it.”

Dr. Sorensen’s hologram smiled mischievously. “Leave everything to me,” she said just before ending the transmission.

Dr. Klov and Sarasin looked at each other puzzled. A second later the implants in their right forearms vibrated indicating that they had received something. When they checked them they found that they had tickets for a tour on the IST. The tours took travelers from any sector in the North to the sectors they wanted to visit. It would then take them back to the starting sector. The longest tours took travelers through all of the sectors of the North and lasted for three months. During the tour, the travelers would be completely immersed in simulations of the vacations of their choice. Their tour was set to start in Dolpul and they would have company. The tickets had a “D” under the group designation category. This meant they would be meeting with at least thirty other people.

Dr. Klov rose to his feet and looked at Sarasin. “Let’s find the others.”

A few minutes later they found the others in the cafeteria discussing the horrible meeting with the government officials. Marx looked up and saw Dr. Klov and Sarasin as they walked into the room. Williams and Holleen then turned and looked at them. They noticed that Dr. Klov was smiling.

Is everything alright, sir?” Marx asked afraid that Dr. Klov was going crazy.

I suppose the three of you haven’t checked your implants lately,” Dr. Klov said.

The three of them looked at him puzzled and then checked their implants.

Dr. Klov turned around and began walking away. “We’re going on vacation. You can start packing now. We leave in the morning,” he said as he walked out of the cafeteria.

Marx, Williams and Holleen looked at the itinerary and then looked up wanting to ask Dr. Klov more questions but saw only Sarasin. Sarasin looked back at them nervously as they peered at her.

You know something, don’t you?” Holleen said.

See you in the morning,” Sarasin said quickly before hurrying out of the cafeteria.

Dr. Klov went and informed the support staff about the “vacation” in person and sent them a copy of the itinerary. He apologized for the last-minute changes and encouraged them to take a vacation as well. On his way to his office, Sarasin caught up with him.

Sir, why didn’t you tell them about what happened?” she asked.

I didn’t wish to go through the whole thing again. I’m too exhausted. Besides they’ll find out soon enough. Try to get some sleep. We leave in the morning.”

Dr. Klov went to his office and sent an email to the government officials informing them of the trip. Lab owners had the right to take vacations at any time as long as they continued to produce innovations and met their deadlines. Dr. Klov never took any vacations during his career. Still the government officials were not pleased that he and his team were leaving.

In the morning, Dr. Klov and his team said goodbye to the support staff and headed out of the lab. They went straight towards the transports for the IST, scanned their implants and waited a few moments for the transport to arrive. Once it came, everyone climbed in as their luggage climbed into the open trunk of the transport one by one. A few moments later the transport hovered and then left the building. Through the windows the team could see the hundreds of transports taking their passengers to their destinations. Even though majority of the North’s residents never left their workplaces there were still many who travelled. Dr. Klov began to worry about the future of the North. He looked around and noticed Sarasin was looking at him. He could tell that she was concerned. He smiled at her to make her feel as ease. She smiled back and then looked away. A few moments later, the transport reached the IST.