The Breezes of Heaven
Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks
Posts : 188
Join date : 2009-02-05
|Subject: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Thu May 21, 2009 8:41 pm|| |
The lab was so quiet that when the doors slid open, Gavin Jenks startled and nearly upset the beaker he was holding. He craned his neck to see who’d come to interrupt him at this hour, mildly frustrated and wondering what the point in booking the lab at four o’clock in the morning was good for if one was just going to be as set-upon by people as at noon. But the man entering was not another scientist – it was a suit.
“Professor Jenks,” greeted the man. “I’m sorry for bothering you at this late hour, but your wife said you were still here on campus.”
Gavin frowned a bit more heavily – Ada should have known better than to reveal his whereabouts, especially at such a crucial time. He needed to work. And being bedeviled by some Isely executive wasn’t going to progress things at all. “Yes, well, as you can see I’m extremely busy at the moment, Mr…”
“Carter. Eli Carter. I’m a Project Manager for Isely,” offered the suit, approaching the workstation where Gavin sat. “And I understand that you’re very occupied, Professor, but this is a matter that wouldn’t keep, I’m afraid.”
Jenks’ eyes narrowed slightly. “Everyone from Isely says that. Everything’s a priority.”
“Our priorities are obviously something for which you don’t share our dedication,” Carter said. “That is, I’m assuming, why you quit the company two decades ago.”
Gavin tensed. “I quit because Isely had nothing further to offer me.”
“Not according to your employment history,” countered Eli easily, opening up his attaché case and drawing out a file. “In fact,” he continued, opening the file to rifle through some pages, “you had an opportunity to receive your doctorate in astronomy, your education paid for in full by the company. You also were making almost triple your current salary when you were with Isely. Yet, you resigned and came here to Hestia University to teach undergraduates. It doesn’t seem like you made a very wise career move.”
Gavin spoke the next words in almost a whisper. “It was the best decision I have ever made, Mr. Carter.”
Because, Gavin thought, here in this quiet little university there weren’t terrible secrets. Here they didn’t cut into people just to see what made them tick. Here, he didn’t have to watch as his colleagues operated on some poor woman while GAF elite soldiers stood with weapons at the ready in case she woke up and stopped their hearts with her mind.
“The company needs you again,” Carter began and, with Jenks about to turn back to his work and ignore him, he pressed on quickly, “we want you to go on an expedition to investigate the possibility of new, intelligent life.”
This halted Gavin mid-pivot. “Go on,” he said slowly.
“A couple of weeks ago, we sent a ship out to investigate an anomaly in the Carina Arm of the galaxy. They…experienced some sort of phenomenon that we haven’t been able to explain. Owing to severe danger and the threat of the ship itself being destroyed, they had to eradicate the anomaly.”
“If it’s gone, then what’s the point of a second expedition?” Jenks wondered.
“It’s what happened on the way home that’s of interest. The ship drifted into Port Alhambra two days after the crew entered hyperlseep. The engines, which had been destroyed prior, were completely repaired, as was all damage to the vessel.”
“Two days?” Gavin blinked. “That’s impossible. Even at highest speed it would’ve taken them almost a week.”
“We know,” Carter replied. “It’s mathematically impossible. The repair of the ship also can’t be explained.”
“And you think the answer is some other race of beings.”
“It’s a possibility. We want you to travel with the crew as they go looking for what happened out there. You’re one of the top minds in alien intelligence theory as well as a crack astronomer. You’ve also worked before with the GAF and Isely, so you’re familiar with them both.” Eli watched as Gavin visibly tensed. “You’ll be compensated accordingly, of course. Plus, anything new you discover will have your name attached to it.”
That, in and of itself, was irresistible. “And it’s just traveling to the Carina Arm?” Gavin pressed.
“Yes. You’ll be traveling aboard the GAF Valdosta, captained by Avery Crane.”
Jenks mused. “I’ve heard that name. War hero. Didn’t she have a planet or something named after her?”
“Asteroid belt,” Eli replied, smiling faintly. “She’s…an interesting woman, Professor. All the Valdosta’s crew are.”
“How do you know?”
Carter shrugged. “I was with them on the last expedition. You’re in good hands, I promise you that much.” He slipped the file back into the attaché case. “You’ll be leaving from Port Alhambra in two weeks.”
Jenks nodded absently, almost not noticing when Eli took his leave. He was quiet and still, thinking…remembering.
It was going to be a new prototype ship, one that was piloted entirely by biofeedback. Controls manipulated at the speed of thought, no waiting for silly impulses to travel down into clumsy digits. The department was small – only himself and two other scientists. It was top secret, he was told, and the GAF was getting involved. He’d never been a part of anything like it; it was like being part of some great government conspiracy.
And then the lid had been blown off. It turned out that the scientists involved were siphoning funds from other departments illegally on their own and the GAF operatives were acting under orders from one lunatic General who was instantly dishonorably discharged. Both Isely and the GAF covered up the existence of the project to prevent a media uproar and Julian Grant, the CEO before Tovar Demine, had personally started checking the books to make sure nothing like it could ever happen again.
But it was too late, by then. The damage had been done.
Five Ghosts were killed in the experiments. Two more critically injured. Gavin had been a part of the project due to his extensive knowledge of the Ghost Nebula and the incidents surrounding it that originally created the psychic offspring. Thank God, thank God he hadn’t been a surgeon or a biologist. Those scientists committed the real atrocities. He just had the honor of standing there, watching and letting it happen. He left, quit Isely without a backward glance before the truth was made known to the company’s higher-ups. But he’d been neck-deep in that nasty business long enough for it to scar his psyche. Nothing would ever make him forget those poor people…and Celestine.
She had volunteered for some routine examinations by Isely. That wasn’t unusual – Ghosts sometimes were very eager to try and help scientists learn about them, so they could learn about themselves alongside. And, usually, Isely was unimpeachably respectful and forthcoming about their processes. They knew that nothing would be gained by engendering mistrust with the Ghosts. Celestine needed a little extra money, she was smart and healthy and curious, so it had seemed like a very good idea.
Then the project had gotten hold of her. Gavin remembered the stark white room, all brightly-lit, the soldiers in their black body armor a sharp contrast to the surroundings. He had been in there several times before, watching as machines were hooked up to Ghosts and inhuman things were done to them all in the name of science and progress. And the reassurance of his colleagues – think of the advance in humanity’s destiny, if we can make a ship with this technology. And because he was young and foolish, he’d stood by and let them do it. He’d even helped in some small degree, adding his expertise and knowledge if not actually bloodying his hands.
But this one, Celestine, was the most ghastly of all their butcheries. They sedated her and took out the live, healthy seven-month-old fetus she was carrying. Stitched her back up. And when she woke and realized what they’d done…Gavin heard those sobs, those screams, in his dreams almost every night. She begged them to let her see the baby, to hold him. They ignored her, like she wasn’t even in the room. She had turned her wild, tearful gaze on him then, pleading for help. He had backed away, stunned, shaken beyond thought. They had done things to that baby until it died. Later, she underwent hypnoprogramming, drugs and conditioning used to give her only a vague remembrance of what happened. When they let her go, they told her it was an accident, that she had gone into labor prematurely and they’d done everything they could to save the baby. She believed it – at least he thought she did. And she’d gone back to her home to take care of her other child, Nova, who was seven years old and would never know that she should have had a younger brother.
Gavin had left that very night. Packed and fled, quit Isely so fast they didn’t even have a chance to write down the forwarding address for his last paycheck. A month later, the project was discovered and shut down. His colleagues never implicated him, for whatever reason, and he was never linked to the whole sordid affair. He got a job at Hestia, married Ada, and settled into blissful anonymity.
Now, he was going back to Isely. But, this time, things would be different. He was older – twenty years older, and he was ready to face the past.
Posts : 169
Join date : 2009-03-31
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Fri May 22, 2009 6:19 am|| |
OMG the drama! Hee!
Ironically I was wondering how much experimentation on Ghosts had gone on.
Posts : 51
Join date : 2009-02-06
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:51 pm|| |
Ah HA. And THIS is the woman Cotton will be staying with for two weeks? Oh, Lord...
Posts : 29
Join date : 2009-05-18
|Subject: Xenocognizance: Awareness in Alien Life (Introduction) Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:12 pm|| |
Even choosing to read this book implies several things about you as a reader. The first is that you were impelled to read it either by a desire to believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life or the malicious need to ridicule my work. I am comfortable with either option. I should also postulate the third possibility that you are one of my students, but the chances of that are remarkably slim, so we can eliminate it from contention.
What you have just read and observed is the basic process of what I've termed "xenocognizance," or the theory of the study of alien intelligence. Fundamentally, xenocognizance relies on the observational power of the human brain to form logical, rational conclusions about the development of a sentient but otherwise alien species from the smallest available amount of information. This is not simple guess work or even developing hypothesizes, but a very specific approach to inter-species relations that draws from what we know of humanity and then surreptitiously throws it out the window in favor of an approach that focuses on the needs of societies, especially space-born societies.
One might wonder the purpose of even developing such a science, or question its merits, seeing as how we haven't actually encountered another sentient species. The entire field is based on simulation and thought experiments. However, the belief that an alien species would somehow be able to develop a culture or basic interactions significantly different from anything that we can imagine is rooted in the overly romantic notion that aliens are somehow super-advanced creatures, either universally benevolent or malevolent, that have either waited until we've grown to a point that we are worthy of contact as a species, or have somehow missed us in their vast explorations of the galaxy. The simplest answer to these fantasies is to point out that if we haven't encountered extraterrestrials yet, they are not likely waiting with baited breath (assuming that they breathe as we do) for us to evolve nor are they advanced to the point that our SF writers have been postulating for centuries. If anything, they are either so far advanced as to no longer be interested in anything other than the accumulation of the resources they require to survive or, more likely, are at roughly our level of technology or lower.
That being said, we can further eliminate the maintenance of a Utopian alien society as a motive when assessing their intelligence. Essentially, we have to consider that almost any alien intelligence we encounter will have developed habits and behaviors that stem directly from the competition for resources. How one behaves, how they dress, speak, and even move can be traced in one respect or another to how they go about getting the things that they most need to survive. It's a habit picked up early in a species' evolutionary cycle and we find nearly impossible to break as the generations go on. However, the student of xenocognizance recognizes this tendency as a great gift, as it allows us to interpret the behavior of an alien race in the same way a keen observer of human beings can detect a lie, recognize impatience, or even see the signs of sexual attraction. The true science that concerns a xenocognizant is that which helps us determine what the needs of societies are from a sample of that society rather than the other way around.
More than anything, though, xenocognizance requires us to be fully aware of our own humanity. The temptation with any scientific pursuit is to shut oneself off, seek shelter from the storm of our own subjectivity. However, understand that unlike chemistry or physics, xenocognizance relies on our intuition and observational qualities. Very few fields are so heavily structured but require so much interpretive undertaking from the student. The xenocognizant must be aware of their own behavior and how it reacts with the behavior of the subject. Xenocognizance cannot be performed behind glass or silently in a corner with a computer taking notes. Xenocognizants are active participants, responsible for their own work and every result of it.
This leads to another reason why a theoretical branch of science is so important to explore and study now. There will come a day when we encounter a species not our own. On that day, whoever makes the discovery will have several choices. Their scientific ones will be debated for decades regardless of what he or she chooses to do, but their ethical decisions will reverberate through every second of every interaction with that race. For centuries to come the moral decisions made in that first encounter, long before wholesale interaction dilutes it in a sea of similar exchanges, will echo in every trade or conversation between us. Now is the time to open the debate on what constitutes ethical behavior in regards to contact with extraterrestrial life. We cannot and must not wait for the first encounter to start thinking about how we can treat those of a different species, because inevitably the human tendency toward xenophobia, combined with a faux-rightous faith in the expendability of anything in the name of progress, will lead to a disaster of literally galactic proportions. God forbid that we encounter a race that can heal quickly or has eyes that see parts of the spectrum that we've never considered before we ingrain in our community the idea that science can sometimes wait and that our one human race is above the atrocities we are capable of now.
I say "one human race" because it's both foolish and naive to believe that we will remain a conglomeration of various and sundry countries, societies, and cultures devoid of a unifying trait when alien life is discovered. Separatism cannot survive the introduction of a new entity that is stranger than anything we've encountered. I hope that we can start the process now, unite under a single vision so that it doesn't come as such a shock when we inevitably do so in the face of the introduction of something entirety outside of our experience in a way that encounters with citizens of a different country, let alone a different colony, cannot hope to match. However, I think it best that I leave the politics of this world to the professionals and hope for the best.
Let it be said before this ends that xenocognizance will never be the manual to first contact and we will never know everything. We do not "get into the heads of aliens" or any other such nonsense. We are keen observers, so keen that what we do can only be called science. We are neither magicians nor diplomats. We will not be the ones who negotiate a peace treaty with another race nor the ones to represent our race in an intergalactic council.
We will be the ones who know how to approach our new potential friends or enemies. We will be the ones who bring them into an awareness of humanity as thinking, reasoning life. Ultimately our accomplishments will be lost to memory, but live on when we one day travel the stars no longer as a lone race in the middle of the most profound emptiness in existence, but as part of a community of different beings, interacting and trading as freely as we do amongst our selves.
-- Gavin Jenks, pHD. Professor, Hestia University
Posts : 29
Join date : 2009-05-18
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:49 pm|| |
To approach the study of alien intelligence without a keenly honed sense of empathy and observation is to approach it blindfolded. In every interaction the most subtle of gestures or behaviors may be the key to breakthroughs in interaction. Practice in your lives, watch those around you, be aware of their moods and behaviors. This will not only make you a better xenocognizant, it will make you a better person. - Gavin Jenks, Xenocognizance: Awareness in Alien Life
Gavin walked into the quiet, cold house, turning on lights as he prowled the hallways toward the kitchen. The sun had set past the point of brightness over an hour ago, but Ada didn't bother to turn on a single light other than the kitchen one. He almost wondered what she did all day and frowned perceptibly as he walked into the sterile, washed out kitchen and saw his wife still sitting at the table where he had left her that morning, the cereal bowl replaced by a bottle of some sort of wine.
"Good evening, Ada. Did you have a good day?" He words were crisp, dry, as if they had been used so often that the marrow of them had evaporated, leaving only the husk of meaning behind.
"Hello, Gavin." She looked up, her eyes wide and the ghost of a smile on her face. Whatever hint of happiness was brushed away as Gavin breezed past her, going to the cabinets for a plate.
"I assume there's nothing new for dinner tonight?" He pulled a rectangular container from the back of a drawer and removed the nylon-blend wrapper, pulling a tab to start the self-heating element beneath it.
"I didn't know you were coming home, or I would have made something." She looked sadly into her wine glass as if she wished she could drown herself in it. Gavin tapped impatiently on the counter while he waited for his meal to heat up and pulled the top off the tuna noodle casserole, furiously grabbing a fork from the drawer nearby. "You never called, and since that Isley man came by..."
"Oh, so it's my fault now." He stood by the counter not even looking at his wife as he ate his meal. "And that reminds me, what made you think it would be a good idea to tell an Isley man where I was? Have I not already explained to you that I don't want anything to do with that company? That I don't like them? That I never wanted to see another company man as long as I lived?"
She big her bottom lip, hard, but all she said was, "I'm sorry, Gavin. I just thought..."
Gavin spared a glance for his wife and softened just a little bit. He walked over and pulled out the chair next to her, setting down his casserole and taking her hand in his. This was the mother of his five wonderful children, after all, and she deserved at least a little respect for that. And even though it didn't feel lived in, she kept the house immaculate, and that was something.
"It's ok, dear. It worked out, to an extent. I'll need you to find the suitcases."
Her eyes brightened for a moment as she looked at Gavin hopefully, "Are we going on a trip?"
His eyes narrowed. How could she be so dense? "No, Ada, I'm going on a trip. I'm doing a contract job for Isley. I can't talk about it, but it has the chance to advance my work by decades. I'll be leaving in," he paused for a moment, remembering Mr. Carter's words, "a week, so I need those suitcases. I don't know how long I'll be gone." He was glad once again that his wife wasn't a Ghost and couldn't necessarily pick up on the lie. He'd need that extra week to prepare, and maybe if she thought he was already in space, she wouldn't send every Gaia's Child and encyclopedia chip salesman to his lab that happened to ask where he might be.
Gavin stood up and deposited the rest of his meal in the sink. "I'll be in my office. Don't wait up," he said as he exited the kitchen and started upstairs, missing the sound of his children playing in the living room, all of them prospering on colonies now. Without them he and Ada had so little in common. He heard the clicking glug of more wine being poured behind him, and all he could think was, "And she drinks too much, too."
Posts : 29
Join date : 2009-05-18
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:29 pm|| |
Ghosts are the closest thing to alien life we have yet to experience on Earth or any Earth-based colonies. They are still human, but have begun a process by which they will soon have a culture entirely separate from and only mildly related to those without Spectral abilities. That is why they are a boon to the xenocognizant who can learn to adapt to a new culture, especially one that already has the upper hand on so many matters. However, it is vital to remember, just like an astrogator in a simulator, that they are not aliens. Ghosts are as human as anyone, despite what some radical groups might claim, and as a result must be treated as humans. Your need to learn does not outweigh a sentient being's need to live, and no amount of rationalization will ever change that. - Dr. Gavin Jerks, Professor of Astronomy, Hestia University. Ghosts and the Spectral Key
Gavin sat at the table cradling his head in his left hand, sighing over the electronic pad he was writing on with his right. The words just weren't coming, and the pressure to follow up Xenocognizance was starting to get to him. The hall echoed his sigh back to him, the wooden rafters bouncing sounds off long picnic tables where the Ghosts who didn't want to eat at home could come and socialize. Not all oubliettes had these sorts of community centers, but the Calivada one was large enough to develop it as a civic project.
"This is your last day here. Haven't you finished that book of yours yet?" Gavin perked up when he heard the voice behind him, and he knew she could feel the increased sense of hope and well being that suddenly flooded his system.
"I'm not sure I'm clear on the moral implications of dealing with Ghosts yet." He put down the pen and turned, smiling at the lithe young woman as she sat down next to him.
"I don't think that's your problem." Her laugh was light, airy, almost mystical in its depth of tone and richness. Gavin was always impressed by it. Not "enamored" or "enchanted," but simply impressed by how many individual tones were held in a single action. It was like listening to a whole set of chimes. "In fact, I'd say you spend so much time talking about ethical concerns I'm surprised you have any room for science."
He smiled, but there was a hint of sadness running underneath that he still couldn't master. He turned his eyes away, knowing that it wouldn't help hide his feelings from her. She couldn't help it, it was her nature to be able to feel everything around her. That was why she lived in the oubliette to begin with. Still, he felt he had to observe the cultural importance placed on trying to hide negative emotions. Or maybe he was just ashamed and didn't want her to see, even if she could feel it anyway.
Far from being offended, she put a loving hand on his and held it. Her eyes were full of understanding and sadness of their own. "I'm sorry you couldn't find the forgiveness you were looking for here." His head snapped up, she knew what he was about to say, "No, I didn't read your mind, but we could all tell you're looking for healing of some sort. The way you talk to all of us, how quiet you are, how you've written a book that practically proclaims Ghosts a superior race."
The brief flash of anger settled down, and Gavin slumped down, suddenly very drained. "I tried to get another grant, but I think the university is tired of paying to have me live here. They want their book and they want it now." He sighed, "At least it'll be good to see my kids again. I've missed a year of their lives."
"And your wife?"
She always brought Ada up, as if she were somehow looking for the rush of anger, humiliation, and guilt that mentioning her always sent over the link. He stood up abruptly and stalked around the table for a little while.
"Damnit, Cosmia, why do you do that? We both know I have a wife, why do you have to remind me?"
"Because you need reminding. I know how you feel, Gavin, and I know that if I don't, you'll try to stay here." She continued to sit, watching him as he turned on her, exasperated.
"And what would be so bad about that? I could get a divorce. I could move here, quit that dead end job, make a whole new life."
"And come to resent me for taking you away from your children," she gently reminded him again, sparking off a fresh wave of guilt. How could he forget his kids? "Besides, Gavin, you're not a Ghost. Even if you moved here, you'd never be a part of us."
"You and I don't have that trouble."
"Because I don't have many - what did you call them in your book? Spectral Abilities?" She walked over and placed her hand on his shoulder. "You'd find soon enough how alone you are. Oubliette life isn't for you. You should be out there, finding the alien races that we will one day use xenocognizance to communicate with. I won't hold you back from that."
He felt chastened, but at least a little better. Cosmia always knew how to make him feel important, something that Ada was terrible at. He looked up and smiled almost boyishly. "At least we have one more night together."
The way her face fell and the sad look in her eyes said it all, and even without empathic abilities Gavin knew it was bad news and could feel his heart breaking. "No, Gavin. If we spend tonight together, you won't leave tomorrow. I came here to say goodbye."
He wanted to argue, to tell her he could handle it, that it wasn't true, that he would wake up in the morning, kiss her goodbye, then merrily trudge off to his old life, buoyed by thoughts of his four children. But he knew it wasn't true, and lying to Cosmia never did any good. He stood there and watched as she dropped her hand from his arm, turned away and left the room. A part of him thought she did so too quickly, and maybe hoped she was trying not to show him her own sadness, but he couldn't know for sure. He collapsed at the table and stared at his book, wondering why he had even bothered.
Posts : 29
Join date : 2009-05-18
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:18 pm|| |
Often the biggest stumbling block in our ability to communicate with even one another, let alone a potential new race, is a sense of superiority. In order to avoid feeling less, we develop a sense of being better, smarter, more attractive, or even morally justified in a way that the Other cannot possibly be. Xenocognizants can't allow themselves the luxury of false senses of superiority. Ironically, we have to be better than that. - Dr. Gavin Jerks, Professor of Astronomy, Hestia University. Xenocognizance: Awareness in Alien Life
The sounds of the spaceport always made Gavin's heart race with excitement. He loved everything about it down to the smell of engine fuel resting lightly on the breeze as if the particles were just skimming the wind. He would sometimes ride the Belts all the way here just to spend time and dream about when his day would come that he could get on a ship and take off into the unknown reaches of space, hopefully to find evidence of another culture like our own.
In the meantime, all he could do was watch his children go off to colonies, paid for by the GA, where he would only get to talk to them when they could fit a call into their busy schedule. He thought again about how cheap it would be if only he went to visit any of them, but he couldn't leave their mother behind if he did.
"Daddy! Come on!" For a second the voice sounded like a 12 year old, and he could imagine that it was a tiny, impatient hand tugging rapidly at his sleeve instead of an almost adult gripping his arm and pulling him with a steady motion forward. "You always get so weird in spaceports."
He looked at his daughter, blinking twice to accept that it wasn't a little girl pulling his arm but a young woman of seventeen. Even so, she still looked so very young.
Her mother trailed behind and tried to calm their daughter down a little, looking up at Gavin and smiling. He couldn't help but smile back. It was almost like they were saying, "We made this together, why can't we control it?" He broke eye contact first, his face dropping, as he turned to his daughter.
"Why are you in such a hurry, anyway? Trying to get away from your parents? Have we been that bad?" He leaned back playfully, forcing her to pull even harder as he mocked being dragged along the terminal.
"Daddy, I don't want to be late, and we might get stopped in security. If I miss this ship, I have to wait another two weeks before the next ship to Deator leaves." She stopped pulling and began to pout. As much as Gavin pretended it didn't effect him, his heart melted and he tromped ahead.
Ada put her arm around their daughter and hugged her close. "I think your father and I would be ok with that, wouldn't we, Gavin?" She turned and winked at him as he tried to catch up. He didn't respond to the wink but jogged a little to bring himself even with the girls.
"Absolutely! By all rights, I should have you for another year." He smiled at the young woman walking next to him. "Why'd you have to go and be so smart?"
She looked back and down a little, her pale blond hair catching the rays of sun reflected off ships awaiting departure and her hazel eyes sparkling with curiousity. He thought back to a moment years before, but the thought was pushed aside as she casually answered, "Genetics."
They arrived at the terminal that would soon send their littlest girl into space, probably only to return for the occasional holiday, if she can get away from what would likely be her terribly important work. Gavin thought that the ship looked like it was tilting too far to the side, and wondered if he should inform somebody that there might be something wrong with the ship and it should be checked from top to bottom before his little girl even gets near it.
Then he thought better of the notion. He watched those hazel eyes that had never in seventeen years of life been close enough to a starship to touch it, let alone be on one. Being the youngest of five meant that things like off-world trips had to be curtailed in most cases. Gavin had wanted to give her and all of his children something better, and he was disappointed in himself that the only thing he could provide for them was plumb assignments and scholarships off-world where they'd be able to shine. He couldn't even help them in their careers, and they would all have to rise and fall on their own. What kind of a father was he?
The astronomy professor realized he was brooding from the looks on his daughter and wife's faces. He made an effort to marshal a smile and knelt down to put himself at the same height as his daughter.
"Listen, Cosmia, you don't have to do this. You can wait a year, spend some more time at home. You've already graduated and I'm sure the university will hold your place for a year." He took her by the arms. "I mean, the universe can wait for Dr. Cosmia Jenks to change it, I would think."
She shook her head and looked like she might cry as she hugged her father. "Oh, Daddy." Those two words were enough to bring him to the edge of tears himself, and he realized that he had to let her go. It felt so familiar. He'd been through it four times already, but this one felt a little different.
Gavin dried his eyes and stood up, tousling Cosmia's hair a little. "Alright, enough of my begging. Better get on the ship before they leave without the finest young scientific mind in GA authority." She came up and hugged him tightly, planting a kiss on his cheek before turning and doing the same for her mother. Gavin watched as his youngest child rode up the ramp and disappeared into the large metal contraption leaning to one side. He wondered if she would have nausea after taking the drugs to put her to sleep, or if she'd be warm enough on Deator, or even if she'd be ok on a barely terraformed world with a lot of young men looking to populate it...he was starting to upset himself.
Ada and he sat there silently watching while the shuttle lifted off into the space, off to the great beyond, and Gavin couldn't help but think again that that could have been him if he hadn't rushed into marriage. He felt guilty immediately after thinking that, but couldn't deny that what he thought he felt for his wife when they were first married wasn't what he it was. Sadly, without a word, he turned and headed back home. He thought he saw Ada coming over to hug him, possibly even commiserate with him, but he was in no mood to deal with her right now. His youngest child just flew away.
Posts : 57
Join date : 2009-02-16
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Tue Jul 07, 2009 1:53 pm|| |
Karou, this is some damn fine writing, sir.
Posts : 29
Join date : 2009-05-18
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Tue Jul 07, 2009 1:58 pm|| |
- pendragon wrote:
- Karou, this is some damn fine writing, sir.
Thank you. Honestly, the first one is the best. The other two are ok, but I like that one most. Should be at least one more before the actual game.
Posts : 29
Join date : 2009-05-18
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:27 pm|| |
Science is a process of taking givens that you can observe and processing them into a concept of reality. This is largely done by creating false realities, impossible cosmi in our heads as instant thought experiments that allow us to determine the plausible from the implausible and eventually the truth. Since we can't have all of the possible givens of a first contact situation (or any situation for that matter), we have to work with what we have available to us.
The source of the greatest number of givens is ourselves. That is why a xenocognizant's primary subject will always be their own mind, their own thoughts, and an awareness of how their behaviors are reflective of them. - Dr. Gavin Jenks, Professor of Astronomy, Hestia University. Xenocognizance: Awareness in Alien Life
Dr. Hedron's office was cold. Very cold.
More accurately, the foyer to Dr. Hedron's office was cold. His appointment with the president of Hestia University was thirty minutes ago and he was still waiting. He had no impetus to meet with the disgraced Dr. Jenks, the man who had no professional references after his internship, who wouldn't talk about his work with Isley, who had nothing to recommend him. He knew he should have been publishing while working with Isley, but his work was secret, he thought government, and there was only a handful of articles with his name even in the byline, only three he had published alone.
Hestia wasn't the best university for an astronomy professor. He'd been ignored by that one. And the next three best. On the a list organized by prestige and grant potential, Hestia was somewhere in the upper twenties on Earth, and he'd applied to every one between #1 and it, mostly with disappointing results.
While there were several very logical reasons for Gavin to be rejected from scholastic organization after scholastic organization, a part of him couldn't shake the impression that they somehow knew. It was a secret kept by the most shadowy organization in the cosmos, but perhaps his moral outrage angered them enough that they would pull strings to discredit him, keep him out of academia. Or, even worse, they could see what a terrible person he was, sense the depravity in his being, the sick inhuman skeleton that hid behind a facade of scientific kindness and beneath a human skin that he hadn't felt like he deserved for eight months now.
He looked over at the woman sitting on the other side of the room. She was unquestionably beautiful, wearing a breezy summer dress with nails that matched. As a scientist, he could understand the objective realities surrounding her. An earlier version of himself would have gone over to talk to her, especially when she looked over at him with an expression that...he wasn't even sure. But he didn't deserve her either.
That's part of why he closed in on himself when she walked over. He wished he was a real person, somebody who didn't....but he wasn't, and as much as he wanted to talk to her, respond when she took the seat next to him, he wasn't eligible.
"You know, brooding is not the way to get the president's attention." Her voice was musical, light and lilting, and he couldn't believe how good she smelled. It was like air rushing into his life from his childhood, when things still didn't matter.
"I'm just...here for an interview." He didn't think he had a right to talk to her, but he couldn't be rude either.
She looked him up and down appraisingly. "And he's kept you waiting for a while, hasn't he?" His head snapped around when she said that. What did this girl know about Dr. Hedron? She must be from around here, that he could be certain of, but he didn't want to jump to any other conclusions without evidence. Boldness was never Gavin's strong suit, except for that one time, and that's how he ended up here to begin with.
He took a deep breath in and could feel the weight of his eyes at the corners as if it wasn't enough for his mouth to frown, his eyes had to get in on the act too. "Half hour so far. And I was a half hour early."
She tilted her head, once again trying to take the measure of him, and her easy smile and body language made it pretty clear that she was attracted to him. He couldn't imagine why, but it had been so long since any woman took an interest in him that he couldn't help but start to smile back a little despite his better judgment. "Doctor Hedron is fond of mind games. He wants you off track for the interview so he can see if you're hiding anything." She leaned in conspiratorially, and Gavin mirrored her, despite his hatred of conspiracies. "The trick is when he asks about your hobbies, tell him 'opera.' All the faculty members know that when he's in a bad mood he locks himself in there and listens to the score from 'Flight of the Icarus.' It's his favorite."
Why was she telling him this?
He didn't have long to think about this before the door to Dr. Hedron's office opened. Gavin wasn't sure, but he thought he heard music coming from inside just a moment before. Out stepped a portly man with apple red cheeks and bushy eyebrows. The only thing that kept him from being a stereotype was a full head of red hair that almost seemed to have a life of it's own as it swayed precariously on his head. He turned to Gavin and opened his arms as if to hug him, flustering the young astronomer.
"Ada, darling." The young woman who had been sitting next to Gavin got up and hugged the man Jenks assumed to be Dr. Hedron.
"Daddy," she planted a kiss on his cheek and smiled, stepping back and indicating Gavin with his hand. "I'd like you to meet...." She let the sentence trail for a moment, and Gavin realized instantly that he was supposed to jump in there.
"Jenks. Uh, Dr. Gavin Jenks, sir." He walked over and smiled as naturally as he could, shaking the big hand warmly. He actually felt pretty good for the first time in a long time, standing there with a friendly face looking back at him. He glanced over to Ada and realized she was smiling at him, too.
"Good to meet you, Dr. Jenks. I assume you're the one here for the Astronomy post." He looked at Gavin with the same appraising gesture that his daughter had given him only minutes before. "And I see you've met Ada already."
"Uh, yes, sir, we met while I was waiting," he didn't even notice his faux pas as his eyes scanned over Ada and he took in the full measure of her beauty. "She's a lovely woman, sir, and very kind to a stranger in town."
"Enough about me, boys," she smiled again, that painfully gorgeous smile with the bright white teeth. "I think you have more important things to discuss. I'll see you at home, Daddy." Her eyes said that she would, in no uncertain terms, see Gavin later as well, and for a moment he worried that it would ruin his chances of getting this post and seeing her again if her father picked up on her interest, but the university president either didn't notice or tacitly approved because, with a heavy arm over his shoulder, Gavin was lead into the inner office.
"So, Dr. Jenks, tell me, do you have any hobbies?"
"Actually, sir, I know it sounds strange, but I love the opera."
Posts : 29
Join date : 2009-05-18
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:48 pm|| |
As a final note, let me state here that despite my idealism, I realize that xenocognizance will not always be the answer. There are times when we will make mistakes. There are times when the responsibility of it all will weigh on us and we'll wonder if we're truly ready for what we've undertaken.
To that I say that there will always be another chance. We can fix what we've broken, overcome our flaws, and make the next time better. We must always look to ourselves and our associates for the strength we need to persevere, even when we want to give up. - Prof. Gavin Jenks, Professor of Astronomy, Hestia University. Xenocognizance: Awareness in Alien Life
The taxi landed in front of his house, a fog of hydrogen and nitrogen cradling the yellow and white vehicle. Gavin, still not sure how to deal with the money he now had access to, simply rounded the total to the nearest set of digits for a tip and promised another 200 credits if the cabbie would unload his bags and leave them on the doorstep before he left. He grabbed the flowers, candy, and holo-necklace and practically tripped out of the taxi door.
"Ada!" He sounded like a child in his mind, a small boy who has been anticipating Christmas for sixth months and it was finally here. "Ada, I have such good news!"
He tore through the house, running upstairs first, losing a shoe in the process. "I can't tell you everything, but I was right!" He opened the bedroom door and looked at how starkly immaculate it was. She was such a good housekeeper! But now she would have a housekeeper of her own and not have to worry about such things. "It worked, all of it!"
He checked the kids' rooms, all of them, most still decorated in their teenage manners, solitary items too precious to throw away but too bulky to keep. She wasn't in any of them. He tore down the hall and downstairs.
"And we're moving, dear. To Port Alhambra! We're going to live in space so I can do my new work." He checked in the living room, looked at the silent holocaster and spotless couches. "You'll love it up there, really. I know how much you've always wanted to live space-side." He laughed it himself, finally slowing down as there was only one room left she could be in: the kitchen. "Listen to me, I sound like an old space-dog, don't I, de..."
The last word was cut short like a man at the guillotine. The first thing he noticed was the rope tied to the bottom of the refrigerator and cutting the room in half, looped over a beam in the ceiling. Her feet hung just low enough to knock over the wine bottle on the table, the dark burgundy having spread beneath her, staining the floor just as red as her dress. He recognized it as the one from last year, when he came home too late for their anniversary dinner.
I made it home this time, Ada. Got here in time from another galaxy.
As he slid down the wall crying, wailing like the child he felt himself to be just minutes before, he noticed her smile, the same one that he saw on that first day. Those perfect white teeth shining from a head cocked just so, considering him. What do you see now, Ada? Is it as horrible as I think it is? Was the good man just a lie?
Her dead, lifeless eyes told him all he needed to know about that.
Posts : 51
Join date : 2009-02-06
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Wed Jul 22, 2009 6:53 am|| |
...Damn it, Kaoru! You can't just let Jenks be happy for five minutes, can you?
Posts : 29
Join date : 2009-05-18
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:43 am|| |
- Sammhael wrote:
- ...Damn it, Kaoru! You can't just let Jenks be happy for five minutes, can you?
I think I may hate this person, and he really doesn't deserve it.
Posts : 169
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|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:13 am|| |
Posts : 29
Join date : 2009-05-18
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:01 am|| |
- minxlette wrote:
- ... jesus.
I said I knew what I wanted to write when I got home. Nobody guessed it. I don't see how this story could have gone any other way, really. Thank you, though.
Posts : 169
Join date : 2009-03-31
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:25 am|| |
Eh it could have but it's an appropriate turn anyway. just sheesh!
Posts : 29
Join date : 2009-05-18
|Subject: The Return of the Professor Wed May 26, 2010 9:45 pm|| |
Excerpt Report on the Encounter With Crimson Codenamed Red DragonDespite all of these apparent strengths, the Red Dragon has one fundamental flaw. Unlike many of his race so far, he exhibit an almost human ability to learn that has developed into an obsession. He envies human adaptability, and perhaps even looks down on members of his own race that are unwilling or unable to change. That obsession can be played upon.
“Did you hear?” Sheila asked Devin, “The Valdosta just docked. He’s back.”
The other intern shivered visibly. “Warpath Jenks is back? I was having such a nice month, too. Think he’s going to complain about how much we got done in the meantime? I mean, putting up all these strings. Think he’ll say we did them wrong?”
Sheila shrugged. “Don’t know.” She attached another taught string to the wall of the laboratory. The gigantic room looked like a close up photo of the fibers in a multi-colored sweater, each wrapped up in one another, crisscrossing this way and that. Sheila slid the crossing string down an inch, then back very slightly. “Depends on how this went. It was supposed to be something easy, so maybe he’ll be in a good mood.”
Gavin Jenks marched through the hallways of Alhambra. Under his arm he carried some sort of rolled up paper and a black plastic box with a locking lid. In his other hand he carried a dull, thin blade with a button on the handle. Other scientists scurried out of his way as he tramped through, his face set in a look of grim determination.
He tromped into the laboratory, taking a moment to examine the work his interns had been doing in his absence.
“Professor Jenks, we-“ But before Devin could get much further, Jenks pressed the button hidden in the handle of his blade. The edge shone to life as a thin wire caught with electricity, ionizing the air around it. Without a word he brought up the laser machete and began to cut through the strings, the loose ends snapping around him, the faint smell of burning fibers perforating the air near him.
“Professor!” Sheila cried, wrapping herself in the web as she tried to stop Jenks from cutting through months of work, but by the time she extricated herself from the tangle he had already sliced a significant portion of the model.
Breathing hard, Sheila tried to reason with him, her heart palpitating and still a little frightened he would turn on her next. He didn’t even seem to notice her as he silently observed his carnage, Devin too shocked to move.
“Professor, that took us hours every day for two months. Why would you do something like that?”
“Because it was wrong,” he answered in his raspy voice. Jenks dropped the items in his hand and walked to one of the ubiquitous holoboards scattered around the room. He swept his hand over the surface in a pattern, erasing several feet of work in somebody else’s handwriting, probably Devin’s. Instead he began writing furiously in his half-intelligible scrawl. After a few moments, he stepped back, admiring his work (http://user.uni-frankfurt.de/~scherers/blogging/Mercury/equations_moyer.jpg
“Now do you see why it was wrong before?” He looked at both interns, smiling. As much trouble as he gave them, he was gratified to see the light of understanding glisten in their eyes.
“But that assumes more than 26 dimensions,” Devin said, stunned.
“A whole lot more, my boy. We need a new model, one that takes spacial relevancy into account.” He looked around the lab again. “And you’re going to need new holo-emitters in here. Ones that we can use to simulate space as well as time locations. I know it can be done with a projector and a translucent film, so with the resources of Isley at our command, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
A softer voice interrupted the three mathematicians, “I’ll bet you’ve seen it done, haven’t you, Gavin?”
Gavin turned and an older woman was standing there. She had to have been in her mid-forties, but her face was smooth and reasonably unwrinkled. Her eyes were kind and she had aged well.
“Ellen,” he went over and took her hand, gesturing into his office. “Excuse Dr. Mitter and I, please. In the meantime, I want the two of you to start rebuilding the model.” He reached down and scooped up the machete, rolled item, and the box.
“But Professor Jenks, we only barely understand this.” Sheila watched him walk away in confusion and frustration.
“Just do the math!” He shouted before closing his office door.
Jenks put down the stuff on his desk and pulled over a chair for Ellen, taking the other one for himself. He smiled as he touched her leg, but it was only a moment before he began to ramble like a child telling about the best new game ever.
“Ellen, you wouldn’t believe it. I can’t tell you most of it because it’s classified, but my God, it was incredible.” He paused when he looked up at her. In his excitement he almost missed the pain hiding behind her eyes and seeping into the creases around them. “What’s wrong?”
“Gavin, can you tell me this at least? Was it dangerous?” She looked sincere, which made it even harder for Gavin to try and downplay the truth.
“Maybe a little, but not terribly so. I mean, I was with the Valdosta crew. We can make it safely through anything.” He touched her hand, but she pulled it away.
“You know that my husband died in the Skirmishes, right?” she asked him, avoiding his direct gaze.
“No. You never told me.” He sat back in his chair, listening intently as she spoke.
“I spent so much time worrying about him, sitting up nights, hoping that he’d come home. Last night I realized I hadn’t slept since you’d left, and I got up, almost by reflex, and made myself some tea and sat in a chair…just waiting. That’s when I realized I could never do that again.”
As the realization of what was happening hit the old professor, he smiled to lessen the threat, “Ellen, it’s not nearly the same. I’m with the Valdosta. Sure, we get into trouble, but Dr. Parr, and Sadie, and Lincoln and Gull, and-“
“And Cutthroat Crane?” she burst out, practically shaking with anger. It passed quickly, but the tears that started to well up in her eyes leaked ever so slightly. After a moment she wiped her face with the back of a hand and looked at Jenks, her vision firm and resolute. “I’m sorry, Gavin, but I can’t go through that again.” With that, she stood, all calm dignity, and left.
Jenks sat for a moment, just thinking. His thoughts continued to return to what had happened to them. Was it worse than he was making it out to be? Of course it was, but they survived, and if he thought about how bad it could have been, he wouldn’t be as willing to jump in next time. And he thought of Red Dragon, that cocky tone, that sing-songy insistence that he was looking to learn. And he shivered.
Gavin took the rolled up paper and grabbed some tape. He placed it against his door and resisted the urge to step back as a poster of Blake’s “The Great Red Dragon and the Beast from the Sea” unrolled in front of him (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blakebeast1bg.jpg
). He carefully taped all four corners, making sure it was straight and level. Finally, he took several steps backward, admiring the new addition to his office.
With his hand he reached back and opened the plastic case he had bought, slipping one of the items out by its sharp tip. He touched the sharp dart with his finger, testing the sensation more than anything, before reaching back and flinging it hard at the door. The dart embedded itself into one of the Great Red Dragon’s many heads.
Posts : 29
Join date : 2009-05-18
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:19 pm|| |
Empathic sensitivity is fairly common among the Ghost community, much like the ability to swim among the bulk of humanity. This both draws them closer to non-Ghosts and pushes them further away, helping them understand others, but also lacing that understanding with the suspicion this near-mind-reading engenders among those without Spectral abilities. To continue our metaphor, they can swim, but the water is often just slightly tainted.
In interactions with Ghosts, one must school their emotions, not out of fear, but out of politeness. Allowing oneself to become wrapped up in strong emotional reactions should be considered as gauche as screaming at the dinner table or making love in the middle of a cocktail party. You cannot completely control your emotions, but an effort should be appreciated. - Dr. Gavin Jerks, Professor of Astronomy, Hestia University. Ghosts and the Spectral Key
20 Years Ago
The buttes rose up against the landscape like silent judges, watching the train hover its way through the vast Calivada desert. Gavin looked out the window, eyes silent and inexpressive, mirrors endlessly reflecting that harsh vista back at him, and he wondered what he was doing here. They would know what happened, what he did. He couldn’t even muster the sense of horror he so often felt when he was alone with his thoughts and remembering. Instead, he let the guilt, a much more corrosive emotion, wash over him, and he felt obligation settled on his shoulders like one of those giant stone magistrates casting their unctuous gaze at him through the window.
He got so lost in his thoughts he almost didn’t notice when the train glided silently into the station. He sighed and shook his head to clear it, slipping on the holo-pic he held in his lap for one more instant before getting up. He smiled to himself as he looked at the image of the four children, two boys and two girls, all making silly faces that matched one another so that if they weren’t all dressed differently, it would look instead like two children having fun with a mirror. He slid the small holo-pic into his pocket and wrestled his duffel bag from an overhead compartment, making his way down the aisle.
Standing on the platform, Gavin wouldn’t have guessed that only an hour before he was hovering through bone dry desert. It seemed that this section of the Oubliette was far more developed, practically terraformed. Green grass and stretched out in all directions, some of it pressed flat along the train route but otherwise healthy. An adobe fountain played happily in an open courtyard the smell of apples drifted lazily along like the last moments of a dream.
Gavin gazed around, stunned. This was nothing like Kansas, but for some reason brought back the feelings of childhood, of innocence, of any and every day before… again, he shook his head violently and went back to looking around.
Gavin whirled at the sound, which somehow took something as simple as his name and made it seem musical.
She stood only slightly taller than him, but it didn’t keep Jenks from feeling as if he had to look up just to meet her eyes. She wore a loose dress in the style of many Ghosts, and long hair that drifted down over her shoulders, the combination of which served to highlight the curves of her body just enough to be intriguing, but not vulgar. Her heart-shaped face was composed and serene, with a hint of laughter that made her demeanor less “haughty” and more “charmed.”
Jenks set his bag down on the platform, not taking his eyes from the woman who somehow knew him. He walked over with the smoothness of dreaming and extended his hand. “Yes. Gavin, if you like. You must be Cosmia.”
She smiled and nodded calmly. “Yes…Gavin. I am Cosmia. If you’ll take your bag I can bring you to where you’ll be staying for the next year and show you around the Oubliette a little bit, or at least this settlement.”
He hurried back and grabbed his duffel, careful not to catch it on a loose nail. He fell into step beside her, glancing over occasionally. It took him a little while to realize he was smiling in an easy way, and he didn’t understand while until he noticed that she was doing the same. He didn’t quite know why, but a part of him was suddenly very optimistic about the next year.
Posts : 29
Join date : 2009-05-18
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Tue Nov 09, 2010 3:09 pm|| |
"I couldn't have done it without Professor Jenks. It wasn't easy, but he really pushed me to exceed what I thought were my limits." - Sean Speigelmeyer, Popular Science, "Meeting Light Half Way with the Hyperscope"
Gavin watched the holographic head of Sean Speigelmeyer again praise him while explaining the fundamentals of his new discovery and its implications. In a fit of sheer, raw anger, the professor threw the holopad across the room, shouting, "You were an idiot then and still are!"
The article continued to play, Speigelmeyer's head unphased by being upside down as it went on about using hypersleep technology to advance telescope range from stationary points. It only stopped when impacted with a paperweight, hurled with the words, "You did Calculus on your fingers!"
Jenks sat down in a huff, glaring at the smoking pieces of holoviewer as it it were at fault for the coverage one of his moron ex-interns was getting. He looked up at the poster on his door, now full of dart holes and covered with Crimson insults, graffiti-ed like the ancient Reds did to conquered enemies, but still unmistakably the powerful shoulders and nightmarish wings of the Great Red Dragon standing over the Woman Clothed in Sun. For a moment he felt...with a wave of nausea he pushed that thought away.
The knock at the door was tentative, but sudden enough to make Jenks jump out of his thoughts. The portal slid to the side and a small, blond head crept around the jamb.
"Professor, is everything ok?" The intern took a cautious step into the room, looking at the broken machinery on the ground.
"I'm fine, Amy," Jenks muttered, looking away as she entered. "Don't you have modeling you should be doing?"
Instead of exiting, Amy took a seat across from Jenks. She was dressed in an Isley jumpsuit zipped to the hollow of her throat. Her eyes were bright, but concerned.
"I guess you saw the article. Professor, if I may ask, why aren't you flattered? I mean, he said really nice things about you."
Jenks shook his head and sighed. "Amy, once again, you're asking the wrong question. It's not 'Why aren't you flattered?' but 'Why are you upset?' There's a difference. And the answer is because he's a moron. He makes you look bright by comparison. I don't want to be associated with that synaptual mendicant."
The intern stared at Jenks for a while, her eyebrows drawn in confusion. "But he made a major discovery."
"Some idiot would have stumbled on it eventually. It makes sense. If I didn't have better things to do, I could have done it myself. Now, you have modeling to do, and I know it'll take you twice as long as someone with a fully functioning brain." He sounded tired, even to himself, and his heart wasn't even in the insult.
Amy stood, the look of sad worry in her eyes totally unaffected by his abuse.
"Yes, Professor." She walked toward the door, but turned at the threshold. "You know, Professor, it's ok to let people like you."
"Pop Psychology department is down the hall, turn left into the airlock. If you don't have enough to do, I have plenty of equations that need simplifying." He looked up at her, the threat evident in his tone. Amy nodded again and exited.
As the door locked into place, again he was staring at the Dragon. So very different from the rest of his race, did he ever wonder if he wasn't Crimson enough? Jenks thought about the callous way he talked about his wife's suicide during the game, how simple and factual it was, as if he were retelling the plot of a holodrama. What kind of person does that?
Posts : 29
Join date : 2009-05-18
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Wed Nov 10, 2010 11:33 pm|| |
Gavin sat in front of the holoviewer. A young, athletic man hovered in a prism of light, a few random household items projected with him. He wore a collarless shirt and pants and a robe with depictions of the sun stenciled on it that flowed evenly to the ground around his feet.
“Dad, you know how I feel about you shipping out with them,” he said, shaking his head in exasperation. There was no heat to the tone, but an infinite amount of worry.
“Steven, I know that. But I’m being careful. There’s no safer place in the galaxy than aboard the Valdosta.” Jenks also shook his head. He wanted to tell his son more, wanted to reassure him, maybe even let him know about the Viridians. Of course he couldn’t, but it would have been nice to let his kids know that they weren’t alone out there.
“Yea, no safer place except for every planet, station, and colony in the galaxy.” He face softened and he smiled. “At least it’s good to see you so happy. You’re like a kid every time that damn ship is about to leave.”
Jenks looked down and smiled himself, thinking about it. This was his dream in so many ways. And having Steven approve, even in the most oblique way… it did make him feel like a kid. There was something incredible about the whole thing. A dream…one he was always afraid to wake up from.
“Thank you, son. Besides, this is a nothing run. The Valdosta isn’t a front line ship any more. We’re simply going to do some diplomatic work, mingle with important people, and try to lift our PR a bit. It’ll all be perfectly safe.”
Steven’s smile faded just a little. “I hope it works. I don’t like hearing the horrible things they say about you on the news.”
Jenks put his hand out, wishing he could touch his son, hug him, reassure him. Instead he smiled understandingly and said, “They always said horrible things about me, Ace. They just used to say it behind my back. I tried to keep you and your bother and sisters from hearing it, but I know you did sometimes.”
Steven nodded, his shoulder-length hair bobbing a little bit. “Yea, we heard sometimes. But you did a good job, Dad. I hope you know that.”
Gavin didn’t know that. He was so proud of his children, each so extraordinary, and he wondered how much of that was him and how much their mother. He tried to picture himself as the good father, and while the images came one after another, birthdays and holidays and sick days and special days, the accumulated evidence didn’t add up to “good father” in his head. He berated himself for poor science, being unable to reach the logical conclusion, but it didn’t help.
“I’m going to be fine, son. And my work is-“
“I don’t give a damn about your work!” The outburst took Gavin back a little bit. So much pain in that simple sentence. Did he do this to his boy? Steven took a deep breath and tried to calm down. “I’m sorry, Dad. It’s just…there are angry aliens out there, ones you helped discover. There are crazy people who would be happy to take out a member of the Valdosta crew just because they blame you. Who knows what else could be out there that’s way more dangerous? And you’re running around like an aging Leo Constellation.”
“You used to love Leo Constellation.” His voice registered his shock and he tried to get his brain working again.
“I love you, Dad. And I don’t want you to get hurt.” Steven and Gavin looked at each other for a while. Steven and George looked just like their mother, except for the eyes. Those were pure Gavin, and he saw the worry reflected in them, imagined that his used to look the same whenever he thought his kids were in danger. Probably still would.
“I love you, too, Steven. Don’t worry, I’m on a ship with one of the most brilliant doctors alive, an incredibly talented Ghost, a genius mechanic and pilot, some of the best Marines since Normandy, and Avery Crane. I think I can handle mingling.” He tried to make his expression disarming, but suspected it came out more pained than he would have liked.
“You’re terrible at mingling.”
“I’m unlocking the secrets of the universe. You don’t think I can learn to be social?” They both chuckled a little. “Is your brother around? I’d like to talk to him.”
“Oh, well…uh…George is out right now. You know, work keeps him so busy these days.” Steven was never the liar of the pair. His eyes shifted to the side, his feet shuffled in the same way they did when he was five.
“He still doesn’t want to talk to me, does he?” Gavin couldn’t keep the hurt from his voice, as hard as he tried. He didn’t want Steven to feel like he’d failed to bring his family together.
“I keep trying to tell him that what Mom did wasn’t your fault, but…he just doesn’t want to hear it is all.”
“It’s ok,” Gavin sighed. “He can feel however he feels. I don’t blame him. Just…tell him I say I love him, will you?”
“Sure, Dad.” He looked off to the side. “Listen, Emma and I are going to be late to the Temple, so I’ve got to let you go. Just…be safe, ok?”
Gavin nodded, “I will. I love you, Ace.”
“I love you, too, Dad. Bye.” With that the holo image faded, leaving only Gavin, alone with his thoughts.
Posts : 29
Join date : 2009-05-18
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:38 pm|| |
"What the rest of humanity can learn from Ghosts is that considered reason is a viable mindset with which to lead a life. We are not bound by our immediate desires, but rather should aspire to examine them in a logical and reasonable fashion. One need not have to control supernormal abilities in order to make enlightened choices." - Sean Speigelmeyer ed., The Notes of Professor Gavin Jenks
Gavin drew a deep, bold line through the words. The guilt he felt was again clouding his judgment, and while he believed every word on the page, especially after spending so many months on Calivada, he recognized the needlessly sentimental tone of the whole segment. He was a scientist and while he could be passionate, the temptation was always to sacrifice objectivity for passion, and a single slip could turn into a pattern.
He felt her opening the door behind him, the sweet breeze drifting over the Oubliette sliding over his young, strong shoulders. She seemed to carry the warmth of the sun with her wherever she went, and he smiled to himself when she started to massage his shoulders, feeling the emotions cycling between them.
"Gavin, you're working far too hard," Cosmia admonished, her light hands somehow pulling all the tension from his body. He reached up to take one of those white hands in his, feeling their softness beneath his calluses. He had been doing odd jobs since he'd gotten there, earning his room and board and getting as close to the Ghosts as possible. Largely that meant work in the orchards, and his hands were starting to show the results of climbing trees and carrying crates.
"I suppose you're right." He pulled her against his back, cradling her hand in his, basking in the sunlight of her sleeve. He put down his pen and just enjoyed the closeness for a while, felt her love traveling through his body and back to her, swirling with his like a binary star orbiting between them.
The cold was sudden. A shadow that shouldn't have been there fell over Gavin, and he could feel the heat of its breath. He knew what would be there long before the thick, curling tail slithered into sight. He turned slowly, Cosmia's sun-draped figure backing up into the embrace of the powerful seven-headed, ten-horned figure. It's massive wings seemed to absorb the light from her dress. The Great Red Dragon, servant of the Antichrist, stood with muscles rippling, closing its wings on the Ghost who seemed unwilling to struggle. Jenks looked to the left to see the Hunter watching from a corner of the room, that sick, perverted smile on his face. If he looked closely he could see pieces of Jackson and Nova in the set of his jaw, the cast of his eyes, the curve of that hideous smile, but they were all twisted reflections of his parents' features, photo negatives with all the warmth of their black and gray impressions.
* * *
Gavin woke with a start. He listened to the soft whine of the ship around him and tried to feel the rhythm that had become so familiar, but for some reason everything was off by a fraction of a second. He reached down and bruised his knuckles on the deck plating, expecting the small divot in the floor that was just deep enough that if he let his left arm fall off the bed, his fingers could comfortably hang. The jarring but brief pain that slid up his arm reminded him he wasn't on the Valdosta, he was on the Baxley and as similar as the ships were, they were not the same.
He looked around to make sure that he hadn't woken Lincoln or Denton. Sure that they were still asleep, he crawled out of his bunk and shuffled through his meager possessions for the pajama pants that he had fortunately left in his open duffel. He grabbed his notebook and pen and quietly exited the crew quarters.
The shadows were different out here. Decorations on the wall and strategically placed clutter that the Marines still insisted was "stowed" were all different here, and the shapes that fell on the ground from the soft lights were strange and threatening. Even knowing this used to be Major Harding's ship didn't help. It reminded Gavin of the summer he spent in the city with his Aunt and cousin. It's not that they didn't have a lovely apartment or were unfriendly, but it wasn't the farm. The smells were different, the sounds were, and the shadows were, and no amount of time or good will would make it feel like home.
Jenks crept into the galley and went over to the coffee machine, putting a hot chocolate cartridge into it. He hoped the sound of the device wouldn't wake Dr. Parr who was breathing deeply in med bay, nor Gull, flopped haphazardly on an acceleration couch on the bridge. By the time he had finished worrying, the machine sputtered its last few drops into the mug with no crew member any the wiser. He grabbed the handle and lifted it to his lips, carefully sipping to check the temperature. His face twisted when he remembered these were dark chocolate cartridges, and the bitterness on his tongue reminded him of the bile still pulsing through his heart.
The old professor had gotten good at quietly accepting bitterness. He had been bitter for much of his life, and one more setback seemed like a logical part of the pattern. Still, this time it wasn't just him. He looked over at Parr again, then scanned the ship as if he could see through the bulkheads and read the sleeping faces of each of his crew mates, pick out the pain in each of their features. He picked up the sugar dispenser and upended it over the hot chocolate, white granules disappearing into the dark liquid like a comet's tail disappearing into the empty void behind it.
He took his now sweetened drink back into the rec room and flipped open his notebook. Jenks took a seat in front of the math and stared at it. The theory behind quantum travel between universes was centuries old. Every physics student is taught the basics as a matter of course and it was nothing for Jenks to pull the fundamental equations from his memory and write them down so he'd have something to work with.
But they didn't give him anything to work with, not really. All these equations did was tell him it was possible, not how to do it or the mechanism by which it worked. After all that had happened, he supposed he had a right to not be thinking at full capacity, but that didn't make it any less necessary to at least gain the same grasp of interdimensional travel as the Crimson, and if at all possible, to do so yesterday. He flipped briefly back to his time travel equations and chuckled to himself, wondering how much of a jest it was, even in his head. He felt less like a scientist at times and more like a survivalist, condensing years of research and experimentation into months or even days of cobbling together pieces of things to materialize the math he had just worked out. He cradled his head on one hand, starting to play with some of the equations with the other.
Tomorrow he would recommend that he and Hart start looking over any research data they could get over the Core and some of the scientific nets. If she could develop a program to hide where the requests were coming from, they could use it to try and find Orion ...Other Orion. He had a decent idea of the kinds of spacial effects a ship like the Sadie Hart would have, and there was no point in going down for hyper, any of them, unless they had an idea of where they would be pointing the ship when they did.
The numbers slipped out of his head as he thought of the Hazards and the pain they had to be going through. What if one of his children were involved in something like this? He felt bad enough that George blamed him for their mother's suicide, and doubly so that they would have to worry about him for God knew how long thinking he was MIA just so he could help his friends, his crew, get their ship back. He could hardly imagine what it would be like to have no choice but to blame yourself of blame your own child for all of this. One way breeds pain, but the other breeds resentment, and no parent should be forced to make that choice.
The Hazards were, though, and he wondered what somebody who was entirely human, not the emotionally bruised amalgamation he felt himself to be, would do to help. Was there anything? Was it callous to do nothing, say nothing? Did he need to give into well-meaning but reckless and directionless passion like Lincoln to help anybody? Did he need to feel everything and control it like Nova? He wasn't always like this, and the tendrils of the beginning of his dream caressed his brain, reminding him of his younger self, but now he was so out of practice that he didn't even know where to begin.
He thought he heard a noise behind him, but when he turned he saw nobody. Jenks shook his head and got back to the math. Math was simple and straightforward and didn't expect him to do anything specific so long as he did it to both sides of the equation or inequality. They took one ship, but we got another. We'll likely lose this ship, but we'll take the Valdosta back. He wished it would actually work that simply.
|Subject: Re: Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks || |
Christopher Hopkins as Gavin Jenks