I kicked the stainless steel container. I screamed my frustration and kicked it again. It was about 4 am, I was alone, working. I hadn’t slept in days. The project was behind, and I was working flat out.
You need sleep. Anything more you do will only cause further delays. Go sleep John.
I know this one won’t work either. But I’ve got to waste time building it so the crew can get the next one right. But there’s a deadline.
My heart lurched at the word ‘deadline.’
Sleep John. You will be on time. We know it’s painful. We’ve felt this pain before, but you’re experiencing it, and for the first time it’s not just a memory.
I went to the RV parked just outside the lab, and slept.
When I woke, it was mid-afternoon. I took my time, made breakfast, just cereal with banana. Then I took a hot shower and dressed for the day.
I stepped into the December sunshine. The world seemed bright and cheerful. It felt wrong. I better explain why.
My name is John W. Cook, PhD. My oldest friend in the world is in the hospital. She has Leukemia. She’s had a bone marrow transplant, but it’s not enough. Her donor was a younger cousin, and there is a small sample left, but she can’t donate more, and more is needed.
That’s why I’m working. I’m building a bioreactor. It will stimulate that small sample and help it to grow. It’ll feed the sample, take away its waste, and generate enough new tissue so Amber can receive an additional transplant. The transplant is working, it just isn’t growing fast enough to take over.
Emotionally I’m on the edge. I know that I can be successful. I know that I will be, but I’ve never had this sort of thing happen in my life before. Of course, I am only 12.
I’ve done lots of things, been places, won awards. That just doesn’t matter now, though. My knowledge, and knowing I will succeed, aren’t just hope born of desperation, when I say I know, I really mean it. I’m omniscient.
Since three months before my eighth birthday I’ve been able to remember the future. Not just the future, but all the futures. I can remember failing at this task, attending her funeral, speaking, and weeping on stage. I can remember her getting better, then relapsing. I can remember where I stepped in a year ago, and helped her stop the cancer early. But none of those solutions were the right solution.
The right solution really doesn’t need Amber to survive. But having her survive without the right solution would be a cruel fate for the world. I need her to survive. I need a friend who will always remember me as that seven year old high school student. This isn’t for the world, it’s for me. It’s for Amber too.
My memories of the future include an infinite number of lifetimes, spent doing an infinite number of things. They have experienced grief and loss, and life. To me, it’s the distance of a memory until it actually happens. My life experiences are finite and small against that infinite foreknowledge.
I step into the building I’ve purchased in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where I’m building my bioreactor. Today I smile and put on a happy face as I greet my work crews. A few engineers, a few medical doctors, a couple of biochemists. They know why they are here. I called them, offered them money, and brought them to work here in a crash engineering program.
My fame got their attention. My money got their time, but the audacity of my plan got their loyalty. I run into a few serious faces. I waved them into a conference room.
“Tell me what you know.” I request.
“The waste extraction chamber is buckled. There’s no way to fix it, we will have to start over from scratch.”
“Do we know why?”
“Unexpected thermal expansion while running. We have modified the design, it actually is better this way, each stage connects easier.”
“On to attempt four. Don’t waste time dismantling number 3, just push it to the side.”
“It’s a nine day build schedule.”
“I’m authorizing overtime, but I don’t want anybody getting sleepy and hurting themselves, or damaging the project, so limit it to 10 hour days.”
“That’s still nine days.”
“Thank you gentleman, I know you’ll do your best.”
I went to my office, just a small room with a desk, a chair, and a phone. I dialed the number. “Hi it’s me ... I’m fine, I want to go to the hospital ... Okay, see you in ten minutes.”
Ten minutes later a black limousine pulled up to the guard gate. I stepped past the gate and got in. A worried Matt was waiting for me in the back seat.
“Hi boss. You look like you’ve slept, and showered. How are you?” He asked.
“I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The project will work, and in time.”
Matt blew out a breath of relief to hear me sound positive. He’s my second oldest friend. He started out as a driver, bodyguard, and general caretaker. Now he’s my personal assistant, and basically runs the organization that is me.
He knows about some of my abilities, we’ve worked together for four years now. He’s become a trusted friend, and adopted older brother. Even if he’s six foot eight and built like a locomotive. I’ve given him my oath of protection, he’s given me the oath of his life.
We arrive at the hospital, and Matt opens the door then signals my exit. He follows along behind me like big black shark chasing a little white fish. The hospital staff waves in greeting, but no one tries to stop me as I head for the patient areas. They don’t even question Matt to find out if he’s carrying a gun, my ten million dollar donation bought both Amber and me miles of leeway.
I get to the room, and nod at her brother, Clark. “Is she awake?” I ask softly.
“I’m awake, John!” she says smiling. “Did you bring me a present?”
“Not this time. Maybe next time. What do you want? A pony? Not really enough room in here for a horse, but a pony might just fit,” I told her.
Her face was tired, but her eyes were alight with joy and giggles. She had lost so much weight. She had ended her first year at the Oklahoma State University nursing program about fifteen pounds heavier than she had ever been. That was gone now, along with a lot more. Much of her former vitality as head cheerleader, gossip monger, and blonde bombshell was gone, but it still lurked in her eyes.
I sat in the chair next to her bed, and she reached out to take my hand. With her other hand she picked up my first gift to her. Shaped like a hand mirror, It was completely clear. I hadn’t told her it was made of diamond. She just thought it was glass. She held it up between us, and like I had taught her, as it was a ‘magic’ mirror, said “Mirror mirror in the hand, show me who cares about me.”
I have her a beaming smile back through the clear center of the fake mirror. “Just had to check, since you didn’t bring me a present,” she said, giggling.
After she carefully put it away again, we softly talked for an hour before she became sleepy. Just as she was drifting off, she said, “Wear my shirt next time, John.”
I said goodbye to Clark, and headed back to the limousine with Matt. He escorted me to his office, where we reviewed what was going on across my economic empire. BaCHS Software, my first foray into merger and acquisitions, had a purchase offer. The stakeholders wanted to sell. It was a half billion dollar windfall for me.
I made a note authorizing my Lawyer Jessica Parz to vote to approve the sale. Best to make it unanimous. Oprah had invited me on her show. I made a note that I’d be available in April. There were a few other details to take care of.
Eventually, I made it back to the bioreactor to check on progress. Matt went and got us dinner, and brought it back to the RV. Then he left for the night to his own hotel space. Our Oklahoma City operation wasn’t very big, as it was meant to be temporary. My work office was at General Atomics in San Diego, California, and my corporate office was at my home in a San Diego suburb called La Jolla.
This new project was the first of what I was calling ‘Dream Teams.’ Gather a group of people together to solve a single problem, pay them well, and support the research and development. Slip them some advanced technology from the future while I was at it, then let them discover it and figure it out on their own.
I had to leave the group the next day, and fly to Washington State. I had purchased a 767-300ER to use as personal plane. It had been under remodeling for much of 1988. It provided seating for sixty, two bedrooms with attached bathrooms, four full bathrooms total with showers in each, dining room/meeting room, kitchen, office, and a bunk room for flight crew. This would be my first flight on the plane.
After a quick visit to Amber wearing her shirt, I headed to the plane. On board were myself, Matt, five security guards, four stewardesses, one chef, and three pilots. There was an air of excitement among the crew, first flight, and ultimate luxury. The aircraft had incorporated my filtration technology, so nearly unlimited hot water was available for showers too.
We took off from Oklahoma City to San Diego. Chef fixed us breakfast. In San Diego we picked up twenty five executives and engineers from General Atomics. We didn’t need to refuel, so we loaded them on, stowed their luggage, and after a flight briefing, took off for Olympia Washington.
The chef served lunch, and I ate with a couple of the executives who had worked on our ISPB reactor. After lunch we prepared for landing. On arrival we disembarked. Several sprinter vans were there to take the General Atomics staff, but I had a custom shiny black painted carbon felt armored Humvee to take me, two security, and Matt to the site. It was a 45 minute drive. We arrived, toured the facility, then went to the ceremonial startup for the cameras and news people.
I gave a short speech how this plant ushered in a new age of clean, safe, and best of all cheap power. The engineers and I then got the privilege of pressing down on the big start button. The plant had been running for days, a carefully engineered addition to the local grid. The button simply lit up a board showing current production amounts, and activated spinning lights for the show.
Afterwards I did interviews and took questions. When the day got late, the people who had traveled with me were shuttled to a local hotel, while I was driven back to the plane where Chef had dinner waiting. Parked in a rented hanger, and connected to power, the plane served as a mobile hotel room.
My bedroom had a nice big bed to myself. Matt had the other bedroom, which had six bunk beds installed. He shared it with the security staff who were staying on the plane. Flight crew had their own bunks.
The next day two executives came to meet with me, they were very upset. “WPPPS has informed us that per our contract in purchasing the Satsop site we are required to sell our electricity to them, but that the contract doesn’t specify the amount. They’ve decided that since we paid so little for something they spent a billion dollars on, that it’s only fair they pay us 2 cents a kilowatt hour!” I was informed by the outraged man.
“That’s still a profit,” I told him.
“They are reselling the power at 7 cents per kilowatt hour!” said the other in similar outrage.”
“Thank you for your concern. Our plant is a demonstration plant. When word gets around that we are selling electricity at 2 cents, and making a profit this system will be popping up everywhere. Go make a fuss in the press, and every time you complain about how unfair it is, follow that by saying how it is still showing a small profit.
“No legal action. We fight, we look greedy, WPPPS is nearly bankrupt as it is. Plus there are other things that our demonstration plant can make besides electricity,” I told them.
They smiled for the first time, shook my hand, and apologized for interfering with breakfast. Matt looked at me smiling as they walked off.
“What are you planning?” he asked.
“You’ll see,” I told him still smiling.
That afternoon we were back at San Diego, then that evening I was back at Oklahoma City. I decided to spend the night on the plane, as it was more comfortable than my RV at the bio lab.
Construction of the bioreactor had gone well when I checked it the next morning. That taken care of, I visited Amber again, greeting her parents who were staying that day, and giving her a small stuffed toy pony.
We talked about her schooling, and going back to school when she recovered. She said she was going to be the best nurse now because she would know what it was like from both sides of the needle.
I suggested an oncology specialty, perhaps helping kids with cancer. She agreed that was an excellent way to use the experience of her illness.
After an hour she was too tired, so I went out to eat with Matt. We got barbecue. Oklahoma City barbecue is special. It sits at the overlap of Memphis, Texas, Kansas City, and Tennessee barbecue styles. It’s not so much as what it is, as what it’s not. It’s not any of the others, it’s not afraid to do pork or beef, or occasionally other critters. It’s what happens when you mix the best of all the other styles, and it’s good.
The following few days I assisted in the fabrication of the bioreactor. Eventually, it was complete. It wasn’t huge, but it was going to take a small half ounce sample and turn it into gallons of bone marrow transplant.
I talked to Amber’s doctors, and they looked relieved to learn I was going to be able to provide additional marrow for her transplants. I let them tell the family, who started to look less tense with stress. I made one last visit to Amber and told her that when she was feeling better I would send her and her family to Hawaii for a vacation, so she should rest up and start thinking about swimwear.
My final meeting with the team, I congratulated them on their success, and instructed them to keep the bioreactor running. The next step meant bringing in experts to examine the marrow and look for ways to make it universal donor marrow. They were going to find that the special blend of feedstock for the marrow cells did amazing things.
I met with the head of the project, and handed him keys to the office building next door. This was going to be the headquarters of OKBio, a new medical company, for which he was now President. I gave him a stack of paperwork for him to go thru, gave him Jennifer Parz’s phone number so if he needed to reach me, he could thru her. I shook everyone’s hand, congratulated them, and informed them they were all entitled to stock options if they stayed with the new company.
I spent one last night in the RV, but headed to the airport the next morning. A short hop to Tulsa, and a visit with my family. Chef loaded on fresh vegetables from Mom’s new farm. It was the result of the Mayo hotel head chef lamenting the lack of fresh ingredients. Matt loaded on several rolls of carbon felt filtration for our next destination.
The visit was short, because I had an appointment. Just before leaving I had eight people join me. Four environmental scientists, the Fijian Ambassador who I was giving a ride home, along with his wife and a pair of photographers to document the trip.
Total including flight crew, staff, and security there were 27. At the last moment a car came rushing up to the plane, and the final component, a water systems engineer, joined us. He was trying to apologize, but I just pointed him up the stairs and told him to find a seat.
We finished checks, flight instruction and everyone belted up. The aircraft, fully fuelled, began its one stop flight for Fiji. The one stop was Hawaii. While technically we could make the trip, we would be arriving with empty tanks. Much better to refill in Hawaii where fuel was cheaper.
From Hawaii we headed to Fiji and the Airstrip in Matei. During the trip the Ambassador and his wife dined with Matt and me in the dining room. They were very nice, and let me practice my Fijian with them. By the end of the trip the Ambassador’s wife said I almost sounded like a native.
The photographers, four security aides, Matt, and I exited at Matei. The plane then took off, and continued the short hop to Fiji itself. There was no parking at Matei, or any services at all. We were picked up by a representative of the Rabi council who had hired a couple jeeps to carry us, and a couple nights worth of luggage to the boat waiting for us.
The boat took us to Tabwewa, the administrative center, and location of the Rabi council. We arrived and were greeted. Then we were given rooms to rest up in from our trip. I got to meet with James, the Olympian sailor I had met in Seoul. He told me that there was talk in the council about using the funds that the Banaba people had received from the British.
The next morning the council greeted me. Some spoke English, and that’s what they greeted me in. I replied in Kiribati, “Thank you for inviting me to this home of the Banaba. I’ve come to talk to you about restoring your home island to life. I’ve brought with me tools to begin, and scientists who specialize in understanding the Earth and the plants and animals that nourish it.”
They agreed to discuss it. The council had a few basic problems. They wanted an island that was basically unlivable, it was too small for their population, and they wanted the wealth that island could provide kept just for themselves. They especially did not want anyone mining the island anymore, which is where the island’s remaining wealth lay. A serious conflict of desires.
Politically it was an even more difficult situation. Banaba their ancestral homeland was part of the Republic of Kiribati, a sovereign state in Micronesia, which straddles the equator. Most Banabans lived on Rabi island, which was part of the country of Fiji, where they had been forcibly relocated, later purchasing Rabi from the locals for their exclusive use.
The Banabans had members representing them in the governments of both countries, but no political power in either, due to their population being only about 5000. Eventually we came to the point in the discussion I was dreading.
“Could you please explain to me why you even want the island? There’s no water source, it’s mostly uninhabitable, it has regularly killed thousands of your people during droughts, and it’s one tenth the size of the island you have now. Only a few people live there, and they don’t live well. Please explain to me the point of it?” I asked.
“It’s ours. By right of our ancestors blood, it’s our homeland!” the council asserted.
“Really? And if instead of helping you bring water to the island and try to do something with the great big hole in the middle of it, I offered you fifty million dollars for it, what would you do then? You’ve lived here long enough for your blood to be part of this island,” I challenged.
The people agreed with my statement. I could see the avarice in the eyes of the council at the offer.
“We will need to talk about this,” They told me, and ended the council.
I went back to our hut, then requested a fishing pole. Matt and I went to the beach to fish in the surf. The council didn’t get back to us till the next day.
They countered my offer, 75 million dollars. I countered theirs, 60 million, ten million for each square kilometer of island. The council would divided it up among those with ownership records based on square meters owned, and then divide the rest among the population as they saw fit.
The larger families who had owned larger pieces of land, and kept meticulous records cheered the offer. The council moved together to discuss it. Finally they said they would talk about it, and answer me the following day.
Only one thing to do, go fishing again. James joined me. I gave him the names of a couple people and asked him if he could get them together for me privately. He said he would, so that night I had a secret meeting with them.
“Gentleman, I’m speaking to you because I’ve learned that the council has been eyeing the funds awarded by the British government over the phosphate mining operation. Without proper controls, the council will soon be dipping into these funds for investments in your people’s future. They will do so with no discussion, no record, and much of the investments disappearing into pockets. Pockets of people who are not Banabans.
“Should they accept my offer, it will only be longer before they run out of money, and their thefts discovered. The result will be a people with nothing but debts.”
This worried the men I spoke to. They were the college educated children who had grown up here, but had gotten scholarships to go to universities in Hawaii, Australia and other places. They thanked me for the information.
The council accepted my offer the next day. I used one of the island’s two phones to call the government in Fiji to inform them of the agreement. They sent out a representative to verify the agreement. I took the opportunity to talk to the government official, and asked him to work with the Fijian government to grant citizenship to all those in Rabi Island, as most of them were technically classified as illegal immigrants under the current law.
I made arrangements to return for a formal signing in a week, and took a boat back to the Matei Airstrip. The plane met me, the crew having filled its tanks and enjoyed a resort vacation at my expense. Now we flew to Tarawa, the capital of the Republic of Kiribati.
There I informed the government of my purchase of the island from the Banaba people, and the Rabi council. They were quite pleased to hear the news. They especially liked when I told them that I had encouraged the Fiji government to verify and naturalize all the residents of Rabi Island.
When I explained my plan to reopen the phosphate mine, shipping phosphate out in exchange for soil they were even more excited at the tax possibilities. Before they got too eager, I let them know that their entire gross national product was less than my yearly income. This was a side project just to show what could be accomplished restoring damaged ecosystems.
With that accomplished I hired a seaplane to take the scientists, the engineer, the photographers, myself, and Matt, along with security, to Banaba. The people living on the island were not happy to hear that the council had sold the island out from under them. I explained that they were welcome to stay, but that if they left I would double whatever the Rabi council would pay them for their land. All but six agreed to move to Rabi.
I set the scientists up in one of the houses newly available, and made arrangements for a ship to bring them supplies. They were going to survey the island, determine where and how to mine, and where to begin placing new soil as it was shipped in.
That finished, and agreements in hand, I flew back to Tarawa where my plane was waiting. Representatives of the government wanted to accompany me to verify the purchase. I agreed they could come, but advised that I was not returning immediately so they would have to find their own way home. That cut down the observers to just two.
We unloaded the equipment, and arranged for it to be shipped to Banaba. Chef collected local ingredients and we ate well during that flight. At the request of the Fiji government we landed at Nadi, where a government boat was ready to transport us to the signing ceremony.
The ceremony went well. The photographers took pictures and were anxious to break the story. After a ceremonial signing, and completing the fund transfer, we reboarded the boat. I stayed at a local resort overnight, and the next day we flew back to Tarawa where I dropped the photographers so they could go document the island. They provided a packet of written articles and pictures for their boss at Time, which I promised to mail when I reached civilization.
That taken care of, it was a simple flight to Tokyo. I arrived just in time for the release of my third Magic Eye book. The series had been very popular in Japan. I did a few interviews, and made some contacts with potential companies to ship in mining equipment, build the island infrastructure, and then transfer the soil and mined phosphate.
Those items taken care of, I took some time off, and hired a fishing boat. I went out with some new equipment. An engineer at General Atomics had built according to my plans a rebreather using my CO2 cracking technology. Everything was contained inside the mask/helmet. The only other thing the diver needed was flippers and a buoyancy control belt.
The fishing charter took us out to a point where I asked them to stop, and then I went over the side. Diving down into Tokyo Bay I located a shipwreck. Carefully I removed a box wrapped in tar covered leather, and a couple coins. Then I came to the surface, and handed my find to Matt who only shook his head at the lost treasure.
I paid the crew for their silence, and returned to the port. At the hotel I wrapped the items in plastic, then took a suitcase to put them in. That accomplished, I let Matt know that I needed to go on a trip.
He called a limousine service, and a black town car came to pick us up. It took us to the train, where we traveled into the north of Japan. When we got to our stop, we disembarked. I called for a cab, and it took us to the base of a mountain.
“Matt, I’m supposed to do the next part of this journey alone. I need you to go back to the town we passed thru, and wait for me at the hotel there. I’ll be back tomorrow.” I told him.
He didn’t want to let me go, but finally relented. So with one suitcase in each hand I trudged up the mountain path to the hidden monastery. I knew I was being watched after the first mile. I ignored the watchers. When I reached the first stone marker, I left one of the coins I found on it. When I reached the second marker I left a second coin.
The third stone marker got the briefcase with the plastic wrapped leather covered box. The final stone marker got my last suitcase. From there I turned back down the path, and took a fork that led to a cliff wall. There I sat after bowing to the wall. Every hour I stood, went through my Tai Chi poses, and then bowed to the wall, and sat.
I didn’t eat or drink. I just sat and meditated with my eyes closed. As the sun set I was joined by two people. I didn’t say anything, but they sat with me. With the sunset, I performed no more Tai Chi, but just sat there and meditated.
At sunrise my two companions stood, and waited for me. I went thru a few stretches, performed my Tai Chi routine, and then bowed to the wall. Then in a clear voice I spoke to the wall. “Master, I return bearing wisdom, carrying that which was lost.” Then I bowed low and held it.
A voice from the top of the cliff called out, “Come if you know the way.”
I moved to the cliff and began to climb, my silent companions just watched from below. While I knew each and every hand hold, it was still a frightening thing to free climb with no rope or tools.
At the top I was greeted by ten robed men, who said nothing, but just gestured that I come, then formed an honor guard of five on each side. We walked up to an ancient wooden building where a middle aged man sat in a chair. The honor guard stopped, so I bowed.
“Tell me who you are,” he commanded.
“I am John Wayne Cook.”
“Tell me what you are,” he commanded.
“I am spirit reborn as flesh.”
“Tell me why you are,” he commanded.
I was silent. It was a trick question.
He waited, then grunted. “Come John Wayne Cook. We will eat and you will tell me more.”
He stood and I followed him inside to a table. There he joined my honor guard, the two men who had sat vigil with me overnight, and a dozen others sitting at the tables. He offered me the seat next to his, and I accepted it.
We all ate as bowls were placed in front of us filled with rice and vegetables. I had no difficulty with my chopsticks. But I did not talk, and no one else did, either. We finished the bowls, and set them on the table. They were whisked away, to be replaced with cups of tea. Everyone watched as I took my tea cup, and poured it out on the ground.
That made a few of them stiffened in shock. But the man who interrogated me smiled widely.
“How is it you have returned Master Yoshi?” he asked.
“I am not Master Yoshi,” I told him. “I am Mushi-dokugo. I have come to call on the resources of this monastery as Master Yoshi intended that one day this monastery would be called upon to do.”
“You have passed the tests he set. Some we did not know until after you arrived. The return of the sword signified the fulfillment of prophecy so we opened the ancient scrolls to learn what tests to give you. You passed every test.”
“I am pratyekabuddha. All knowledge is open to me, but I cannot teach the path I take. I live as I must, the middle way guides my steps. I awoke April 4th, 1984. I have been working ever since for the good of everyone on Earth.”
“Why now do you come to us, five years later?”
“Even a lotus must take time to blossom. It was time, so I came. When it is time, I will go. Shall I tell you the day you die? Would you like to know the name of your great great great great grandchild? Shall I sing to you the song your mother sang when she washed your clothes in the river?”
“Command us, Master. Tell us and we will do,” he said sincerely.
So I instructed them. I gave them dates, times, places, instructions. They brought out writing repent and write down their instructions. Then when I had finished, they were stunned for a moment. I concluded, “Show me the sword, I have never seen it with these eyes.”
We moved to an inner room, where they gathered in a circle around me, and I kneeled on the mats. The box was set before me, still smelling of the sea. I opened it up and carefully drew out the sword. It had been preserved wonderfully.
I stood as they carried the box to one of those sitting in the circle, and set it to the side. I turned to where the Buddha statue stood outside at the center of the monastery, and bowed. Then with my eyes closed I performed a kata. The balance was perfect, but the sword was too large for me.
I returned the sword to the box. It was an ancient single edge straight sword. I thanked him for letting me hold the sword again, and then returned to the center of the circle. The box with the sword was put away, and a second box was brought out. It was set before me, so I placed my hand on the box.
“Master Yoru thought it was funny to make swords this short,” I said smiling. “This is a wonderful gift.” Then I opened the box, wrapped the silk sash around my waist, and inserted the Katana and Wakizashi. Then I handed the box back to the man who brought it.
Moving into the center of the room, I again turned and bowed to the statue, closed my eyes and performed a kata with both swords. They were the perfect length for my 5 foot height.
I resheathed both blades, then turned to the monastery master, “Master Koru. There is a criminal at this monastery. A man who attacks and kills women. What would you have me do?”
“Master Cook,” he replied, “Clean our house as you see fit.”
I turned to a man sitting at my left. “Mino do you confess?”
He stood shaking, then bowed his head. “I confess nothing!” He shouted, pulling a Katana from his robes he rushed at me.
A simple sweep, my blades danced up, touched his and took his head off. It thudded across the room, but the body collapsed in a heap. I pulled a silk cloth from a pocket and carefully cleaned the swords, then resheathed them.
I bowed to the master. “It is time to go. Thank you for your hospitality.” I turned and walked out of the room, the circle parting. The swords still at my waist. I crossed to the Buddha statue, and moved behind it. From there I took the hidden tunnel staircase to the bottom of the cliff.
I moved into a quick jog, as I went down the mountain path. At the end I greeted Matt who was standing there wondering about walking into the forest after me. He smiled in relief when he saw me. I walked up to him, and he looked me over.
“Nice swords, where did you get them?” he asked.
“Zen Warrior Monks,” I told him.
“What?” he asked.
“This is Noru. He will accompany us while we are in Japan,” I told Matt as the Monk slipped up behind Matt.
“Noru this is Matt, a friend and sworn retainer.”
Matt spun around to face the Monk. Noru bowed, and said, “Honored to meet a servant of the Master.”
I translated for Matt, “He says honored to meet you.”
Matt, Noru, and I headed to the train station. It was a short wait, and we took it back to Tokyo. When I arrived I had several messages, and contacted the people I had spoken to previously. Everything arranged, I said goodbye to Noru at the airport, boarded my plane, and left for home, in this case San Diego.
The Japanese company I hired was very efficient, within a few months they had crews on site, digging out the remaining phosphorus rock. They estimated that they could have 99% of the remainder harvested in two years.
April was a big month. It began with papers published about the stem cell bioreactor producing bone marrow for transplants. Included was evidence that the marrow had somehow changed, and the cells no longer were expressing any antibodies, so were safe to use without fear of hyperacute rejection, which is when the tissue is rejected immediately by the body, and the tissue itself also immediately rejects the body.
The Time Magazine article on me, and Banaba Island got published. It attracted some interest, but spurred investigation into the Rabi Council when it was discovered that four million dollars had already gone missing.
I had my first Oprah interview, she spent the whole episode doing a review of my accomplishments, and even had video messages from Amber, and others I had worked with. I gave her a gift of a diamond pebble, which is slightly larger than a tennis ball, without the uranium interior. She quipped, “Most diamonds this size would come with a marriage proposal!” The audience thought that it was very funny.
I got to give a demonstration of how a pebble bed reactor works, using light up balls in a Plexiglas model. I showed how the balls didn’t start doing anything until there were enough of them in the chamber, and how they dropped out one at a time, were checked automatically, then either sent for reprocessing, or sent back to the top of the chamber. The best part of the demonstration was that they were powered by directed radio waves, so I could show how they started glowing inside, but not outside the reaction chamber.
Then for the finale I hit the emergency button, and all the pebbles dropped out of the machine into a kiddie pool sized chamber below and went dark. I emphasized the safety, the durability, and the cheap cost compared to even a gas powered plant.
I explained that if we converted all our existing coal and gas powered plants that air pollution in the United States would drop by half, and power bills could drop by half as well. I could cite the Satsop plant as proof, as we were only getting 2 cents per kwh, and still making a profit.
Finally at the end of April I got another message from my crew at Banaba Island. During the course of their surveys, they happened to discover a very pretty seaweed washed on shore. It happened to get tossed on their camp fire, and started to smell like bacon.
Being reckless beach bum scientists, they tasted it. They swore it tasted just like bacon, and was apparently perfectly safe, as not one of them became ill. I sent them orders to provide a sample for testing and to locate where around the island it grew.
In May we got the testing results back on bacon weed. Not only was it safe, it had high levels of B vitamins, including B12, and lots of healthy oils, and was cholesterol free. The testing lab also confirmed that when heated it smelled and tasted like bacon. I purchased a small seaweed growing and processing company in South Korea, and sent them to Banaba Island. They were under instructions to identify the growth area, and feasibility of farming bacon weed. It had the potential to be the biggest health food item ever. I started contemplating changing the name of Banaba Island to Bacon Island.
In June the new runway on Banaba Island was complete, so I gathered up a balloon tower team, loaded them and the equipment for two broadcast balloons on my plane, and flew out to Banaba. They were right, it did taste like bacon. It was delicious! The balloon team got the tower set up on the northwest corner of the island, while the runway ran North-South, from the farthest southeast corner of the island. It was barely big enough for the plane. A fuel tanker was moored offshore to provide refueling for aircraft, but the runway was so short that if we filled the tanks full we wouldn’t have takeoff room.
We connected up the tower to the local satellite dish, and suddenly the whole island had cell phone service. We also now had line of sight radio with the capital, Tarawa Kiribati. Since we had no authority telling us we couldn’t, the balloon went up 20 miles, and gave us a 399 mile radius horizon. We also rebroadcast the TV stations available via satellite.
Our equipment was all American so we broadcast at full power in American TV frequencies in NTSC. We also brought TVs, as previously there were no TV broadcasts in the region.
We had a generator, so we had power to spare. I had purchased an extra large one for future growth, but there were only 200 people on the island, so it was running at idle most of the time.
We next flew to Tarawa. There was room there for a high capacity satellite data uplink. We put up a second balloon tower, and set up a directional data link between the two. We had to run some cabling, as the Kiribati government wanted it at the far north end of the atoll, away from their airport. On a clear night you could see the blinking lights of the Banaba tower. While I was there I offered putting up a tower on every inhabited island in Kiribati, and providing a free cell phone and service for every family in the country, in exchange for a couple of favors.