Chapter 1

The sun was just starting to rise. As the light entered the open window of the beach house, Todd Callaway opened his eyes slowly and tried to stretch his arms to get the blood flowing again. He found that his left arm was pinned to the bed and wouldn't move. Turning his head, he looked at a dark haired girl with an incredible tan and tried to remember her name. She was completely naked and unbelievably beautiful, even with the gill openings in her neck and the webbed feet and hands. She was also cutting off the circulation to his hand and he couldn't feel his fingers anymore.

He rolled closer to her and kissed her. She still tasted salty, like the ocean. That was it! Ocean, her name was the Hawaiian word for Ocean. Now if he could only remember what it was. Todd had lived on the island of Maui for almost eight years now and still didn't know half the words that he had come across. It was such an odd language and unlike any of the others that he knew. The girl started to open her eyes and kiss him back. Maybe this would be a good morning. After a few minutes dueling with their tongues they both looked into the others eyes and said, "Good morning."

She gave Todd another quick kiss before saying, "I need to go for a swim. Want to join me?"

"No thanks, I have to check in with my office." Even if it was a Saturday and he was on vacation, he still couldn't be away from the office for too long. He enjoyed his work, and being away for more than a few days was like going through withdrawal.

"Okay." She got out of bed and walked out the patio door to the lanai, still naked. She continued to walk across the grass and onto the white sand beach before diving into a wave and disappearing. Todd watched her and waited for her to come to the surface again. Nearly five minutes later he finally saw her floating on her back about two hundred meters out. He shook his head and wondered what it would be like to have that kind of freedom.

After a quick shower and shave he sat at the table in shorts and flowery shirt with a cup of coffee and his tablet looking at his messages, deciding which ones to answer. The girl walked in toweling dry her hair, still naked. She threw the towel over the back of a chair, grabbed a cup of coffee as well and then sat down beside him. The lack of any tan lines and her comfort in nothing more than a smile was all the proof that Todd needed that this was completely normal for her. He tried to look into her eyes as much as possible, but it was difficult.

"You have any plans for today?" he asked, hoping that she didn't.

"I have to meet Tony and May at noon," she explained. He had no idea who either of them were. "We have a bunch of Haole's coming in for a dive tour."

"Oh," he tried not to sound disappointed. "Will you be at Freddy's tonight?" He was still hoping to be able to hook up with her tonight and she could tell.

She smiled, took the tablet out of his hand and wrote something on it before handing it back. "Call me Monday and I'll let you take me to dinner," she said with a grin. Todd looked at the tablet with her name and number in the corner. Moana was her name. Finally he knew her name, and now he also had her number.

Moana walked back into the bedroom to get her things before coming back out in the smallest bikini Todd had ever seen in his life. It barely covered anything, and the wrap she had on around her waist was so see through it was pointless. Grabbing her purse, she headed for the door and her car saying, "Call me" as she closed the door behind herself.

Todd was daydreaming about Moana when his tablet beeped to indicate a high priority message was coming in. He looked at the message heading and who it was before becoming very interested. Why would Tetsuo Sakamoto be trying to contact him? Of all the people in the world, or off it, he was the last person Todd would ever expect any contact from. Their work was in direct competition with each other. While Sakamoto Industries preferred to hire powerful MORFS survivors and make use of their abilities, Callaway Corporation was one of a small group of companies that created devices to disrupt the use of those abilities.

Todd hit the accept button on the tablet screen and nodded, "Konichiwa, Sakamoto san."

"Good morning Dr. Callaway," the delay in the signal was just noticeable. "I see you have been practicing. Your accent is much better than when you gave the conference on N dimensional physics in Tokyo last year." This was high praise from a man who spoke fluent English as a second language, or was it his third?

"Please, call me Todd. What can I do for you today? I'm sure you didn't call just to comment on my accent."

"True," he said. "I'd like to hire you for a special, short term project that I have going." That got Todd's attention. If Tetsuo Sakamoto wanted him it must be worth a lot of money and be very challenging, two things that he had never been able to turn his back on.

"What are the terms?" Todd asked, knowing this would be the best way to find out how challenging it would be.

"Come to Tenkei and I'll explain the project, then you can state what terms would be acceptable," was the surprising response. A blank check from one of the richest men in the world, how could he turn it down?

"Okay, how do I get there?" Todd asked. Before he finished the question, a large black oval appeared on the wall beside him. A fraction of a second later an extremely well furnished office could be seen through the oval. Behind the desk in the office sat Tetsuo.

He looked at Todd though the oval and said, "Just step through." The voice on the tablet in his hand repeated the statement a half second later. Todd's brain was already running at full speed. He had heard of the portals that Tetsuo Sakamoto could produce but had never seen one himself. The equations and equipment that would be needed to monitor and suppress them where already forming in Todd's mind as he stepped through into the office.

Tetsuo stood and stepped out from behind the large oak desk. They both bowed before they shook hands with each other. Tetsuo's fine tailored suit was perfectly pressed and fit him like a glove. It was in sharp contrast to the flowery shirt, baggy shorts and sandals that Todd had on. Then again, it wasn't like he had been expecting to meet with the principal owner and CEO of the world's largest orbiting city when he got dressed. The office was huge and could have been located in any office tower of almost any city in the world, but the view out the window behind the desk could only be from one place. The Earth was visible through the window and the Pacific coast of the United States could just be seen through the cloud cover.

"That's quite an impressive view you have," Todd said as he looked out the window.

"Yes, it can be quite distracting at times," Tetsuo replied. "Can I offer you something to drink?"

"I would enjoy a cup of green tea, if you don't mind." The orbital city of Tenkei, or Heaven's Blessing, had been growing green tea since it was placed into orbit over five years ago. It had quickly become known as the finest green tea available anywhere, and was extremely expensive. Tetsuo simply nodded and smiled before speaking into the intercom on his desk.

"Bring a tea service for two to my office, please." He didn't wait for a reply. "Please, have a seat," he indicated one of the large leather chairs at the table. Instead of returning to his desk after Todd sat and placed his tablet on the table, Tetsuo took the only other seat at the table.

"I seem to have a bit of a problem that needs your unique skills," the Japanese man was clearly uncomfortable admitting to his need for any outside help. The fact that it was Todd Callaway that he was asking for help was like rubbing salt into an open wound. "As you may know, we have almost a million people in the city at the moment. Many of them moved here before the city was even placed into orbit. They have given up their ancestral homes, lands, even moved their entire extended family to Tenkei. We have all sorts of businesses, both unique to the environment we live in and traditional ones. There are grade schools and even a university here."

"Yes, I've read several articles on the construction of the city and the businesses that operate here," Todd explained. "I considered moving here when it was first constructed."

Tetsuo nodded his acknowledgment of the comment before continuing. "We also have some of the same problems that other modern cites have to deal with. Crime has never been a major issue, but we seem to have a slightly higher rate of MORFS survivors than most." That was one statistics that was not common knowledge, and it surprised Todd.

The large three meter tall door to the office opened and a young woman dressed in a traditional costume entered with a tray containing a tea service. Her kimono completely covered her from neck to toe and the small steps she took kept her feet hidden under it. She bowed at the doorway before walking to the table and placing the tray on it. She then knelt on the floor and poured the tea into the two small cups before standing, bowing again and leaving. She never said a word the entire time that she was in the room.

"I hope you enjoy your tea," Tetsuo said as he lifted the cup to his mouth and sipped. Todd sipped at the tea as well, and immediately thought that it was more than worth the incredible price they asked for it.

After they had both taken a few sips of the tea Tetsuo continued his speech. "In addition to the higher rate of MORFS survivors, the children who go through MORFS seem to have much stronger abilities than what would be considered typical. One child in particular has recently completed phase two of MORFS and is extremely powerful. Unfortunately, her powers are also quite unstable and threaten the safety of the city."

Todd had a mild look of confusion as he asked, "So what exactly is it that you want me to do?"

Tetsuo paused for a few seconds before saying, "You have studied a large number of MORFS survivors and have been able to understand their abilities. So much so, that you have been able to develop devices to suppress or control these abilities. I also know you have had limited success in reproducing some of these abilities."

"So you want me to reproduce this person's ability, too? I don't see how that will help with the safety of the city."

"That is only part of the task," he explained. "It's unlikely that you would be able to replicate her ability. However it's more important to be able to contain and control it."

"How are you containing it now, if I may ask?" Todd was becoming concerned. If they were not able to contain a new MORFS ability here, it could have devastating results.

"Perhaps it would be easier to show you." Tetsuo stood and headed to the door of his office with Todd following behind. They walked out into a reception area and from there into a large hallway with a single elevator at the end of it. The door to the elevator opened as the two men stepped closer and they entered it. Tetsuo thumbed the access panel beside the floor buttons and pressed the one labeled SL3 near the bottom. The doors closed and the elevator silently descended for almost a minute before coming to a stop. The doors opened again. Here, the halls were a dull gray color and looked like they were seldom used. Most of the side corridors they passed where in complete darkness. At the end of the hall was a locked door labeled Authorized Personnel Only, in three languages. Tetsuo thumbed the keypad at the side of the door and entered an access code. The door unlocked and opened with a pop and a slight rush of air.

Inside the door was an extremely advanced medical facility. Several people sat at monitoring stations and more were walking through the halls on their way to who knows where. The two men stepped up to the monitoring station before a technician turned and greeted Tetsuo in Japanese.

"Hello, Sir," she said as she handed him a tablet. "This is the daily status report for you."

"Thank you," he replied in English.

The technician glanced at Todd and added in English, "She hasn't woken up yet today, but we expect her to shortly." Her English was perfect and even had a slight New England accent to it.

Tetsuo read through the report quickly before saying, "Good, we will be in the observation room." The technician simply nodded and turned back to her monitor.

The observation room was a short distance down the hall to the right. The door opened to a room with rows of benches set up like a small bleacher. In front of this was a large glass window that looked into a standard hospital room. Within the bed was a small oriental girl that looked as if she was about nine or ten years old.

Tetsuo turned to look at Todd and said, "This is Alice. She became sick over four weeks ago and it triggered MORFS. Five days later she woke up briefly and has been in and out of consciousness ever since."

Todd looked at the tiny girl closely and watched her breathe as she slept. She was surrounded by monitoring equipment of all types, some of which Todd couldn't even identify. There was nobody else in the room and he felt sorry for the young girl, being all alone after going through MORFS.

"Why are you keeping her isolated?" Todd asked. He thought she must be scared out of her mind being alone like that.

"We needed to isolate her for her safety, and for the safety of the city," Tetsuo started to explain. Just as he was about to continue the monitoring equipment started to beep. The alarms continued as the girl rolled and squirmed in the bed, her eyes were squeezed shut and she had a look of pain on her face. A force field went up around the room and another alarm began to go off. Suddenly a black oval appeared on the ceiling and grew to about three meters at the widest point. As soon as the oval stopped growing the black was replaced by a scene that should have been impossible to see. It was a scene from the moon, looking back towards to Earth just above the horizon. Rocks and small craters could easily be seen through the opening. It remained on the ceiling of the room for about fifteen or twenty seconds before flashing out and disappearing.

"Was that an image of the moon, or a portal to it?" Todd asked hoping that is was the first, and dreading that it might be the second.

"It was a portal," Tetsuo explained. "That was why the room needed the force field. Without it all the air and half the contents of the room would have been sucked through it."

"But the distance from here to the moon is beyond the theoretical limits of portals," Todd stated. "The energy to fold space that much would likely kill a person if they even tried."

Tetsuo just looked at Todd before saying, "Well you're partly right. It is killing her."

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Story tagged with:
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